Biography: Major John A. Pickler
By: Priscilla A. Boswell



John Alfred Pickler was born near Salem, Indiana on Jan. 24, 1844, eldest child of George and Emily (Martin) Pickier. In 1853, when John was 9 years old, his father moved the family to Monterey, Davis Co., Iowa
When he was seventeen years of age, John attempted to enlist in the Union army, but was persuaded by his father to remain at home until he was eighteen. He then at the age of eighteen joined Company D of the 3d Regiment of Iowa Cavalry as a recruit and rose from the rank of Sergeant to Captain of his company. Near the close of the war, when black troops were enlisted, John A. Pickier was given command of the 138th South Carolina Regiment of Colored Troops and promoted to Major, a title he carried the rest of his life. At this time he was only 21 years old. The Regiment was stationed at Atlanta, Georgia and Major Pickler remained in command until he was mustered out at the close of the War. When Major Pickler was mustered out in January of 1866, he had served 3 ½ years in the Union Army, two of those years in the Iowa 3d Cavalry.
After the war, following his return home, Major Pickler enrolled in the University of Iowa at Iowa City, where he graduated in 1870. While attending the University, he made the acquaintance of Alice Mary Alt, whom he married Nov. 16, 1870. He also attended the Chicago University Law School for one year. Next he entered the law department of the University of Michigan, where Major Pickler graduated in 1872.
The Picklers then moved to Kirksville, Missouri, where the Major practiced law and the same year was elected States Attorney of Adair Co., Missouri. In 1874, they removed to Muscatine, Iowa, where he was a Garfield elector for the Iowa Second District in 1880. Major Pickler represented his District in the Iowa State Legislature in 1882, but resigned upon his removal to South Dakota. In the spring of 1883, Major Pickler, his wife and children moved to the Territory of South Dakota and were among the first settlers of what is now Faulkton, South Dakota.
He was elected to the Dakota Territorial legislature from 1885 to 1887. At the time South Dakota was admitted to the Union, the Major had gone to Washington to be present at the inauguration of Benjamin Harrison as President. There he met Col. John W. Noble of the 3'd Iowa Cavalry, his old comrade, who was then Secretary of the Interior. Col. Noble appointed Major Pickler to the position of Land Inspector in April 1889, his first duty being to go to Oklahoma and open up the territory for settlement. While acting in that capacity, he was chosen as a Representative to Congress from South Dakota. Major Pickler was elected from South Dakota to the 5l", 52 '53A, and 54" Congresses as a Republican, serving in all, eight years.

After his retirement from Congress, Major Pickier practiced law in Faulkton and built up large real estate interests. A few years before his death he suffered a stroke and had been an invalid. The Major died at age 66, on June 13, 1910 at his home in Faulkton, South Dakota.

References: History of Dakota Territory, South Dakota Its History and Its People, Vol. 4, by George W. Kingsbury, 1915; Family Roots - Drew, Alt, Wein, Smith & Kepford by Catherine Schilder, 1989