James Douglas Eads

Renaissance Man

Historians have coined the term Renaissance Man to refer to individuals who have possessed amazingly well-rounded talents in a large variety of fields. James Douglas Eads would fit this description. This pastor, physician, politician, hotel proprietor, newspaper editor, and military veteran had lived in West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa, before settling permanently in Warrensburg, Missouri. This amazing man, who fathered 8 children including one whose lineage would keep the name James Douglas Eads for four generations, had unlimited talents in all areas of a person's life.

Always on the move, James Douglas Eads was a man of numerous talents. Never satisfied with the status quo, Eads repeatedly sought new fields to master and more people to help. Following is a short summary of Warrensburg's true Renaissance Man.

Born in 1813 in West Virginia, James Douglas Eads would serve the nation in numerous facets and live in as many as five different states (very unusual for his time).

As a man of God, Eads humbly served his congregation of believers in Blandensville, Illinois as their church pastor. He would eventually leave the cloth and pursue medicine, another way of helping and serving his fellow citizen.


As a licensed physician in at least two states (Illinois and Iowa), he dedicated his life towards helping people recover from illness or disease. As a private in the army, this highly intelligent man would also use his medical ability to help injured troops during his stint in the Mexican-American War (1847 through 1848).

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Between the wars, Eads lived in Iowa and held the highly prestiged title of Iowa State Superintendent of Public Instruction. From 1854 through 1857, Eads made difficult and controversial decisions that could have helped the Iowa school system. After a handful of important decisions turned out sour, Eads would move his family down south into Missouri and into the restful city of Warrensburg.


However, with the Civil War on the way, Eads couldn't rest for long. During the Civil War, he would serve as Captain of the Missouri State militia for the entire four year conflict. In the early days of the war, Eads used his influence around town gathering people together in forming a militia. During this time period, the disgruntled confederate enemies were so angered at his involvement that they placed a price on his head.

Though during the war, his fighting record is less than would be desired, there is at least one man who is extremely grateful for the courage of Eads. After hearing of an innocent Union Soldier in Lexington who was about to be found guilty for a crime he did not commit, Eads rode horseback through Confederate territory wearing his Yankee uniform in order to stand up for the man's innocence and secure his safe trip home.

Hotel Proprietor

Eads was also an extremely vigilant hotel proprietor and successfully ran the Bolton House (located on the south side of the public square on West Main Street), the Eads House (located on the southeast corner of West Market and North Main Street), and the Allen House (located in Clinton, Missouri). He would also become well known working as a newspaper editor for the Signal (pre-Civil War Warrensburg newspaper) and for the Warrensburg Journal (Daily Star Journal).


Though some people attempt to link James Douglas Eads with the same heritage of James Buchanan Eads (developer of the Eads Bridge in St. Louis and successful inventor of various aquatic and bridge creation patents), nothing in history has been found to place the two together in the same family lineage. However, James Douglas Eads would have 8 children (3 sons and 5 daughters) with 6 of them living beyond infancy. In one family line, Mary Dalton would follow in her father's footsteps and become a successful hotel proprietor. Another line would carry the name James Douglas Eads to the fourth generation. Son James II would own a large farm in the country and a drugstore on the corner of Holden Street and Pine Street. James III (known to many as "little Doug Eads") would perish unexpectantly in some type of an argument following a turkey shoot. Lastly, James IV died tragically as a child while crossing the road near College Street and Railroad Street. Today, traveling through Sunset Hill Cemetery, people may give their last respects to a man and a heritage that meant so much to so many people.