John Aaron Rawlins
James Aaron Rawlins was born February 13, 1831, East Galena Township, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, he was the son of James Dawson and Lovisa Collier Rawlins, both of Scotch-Irish descent. In 1849, his father, James migrated to California, during the Gold Rush and stayed there for three years. While his father was absent, Rawlins had to take care of his mother, his sister, and six brothers. Rawlins blamed his father James lack of attention to his family on strong drink. According to historian Bruce Catton, Rawlins abstained from alcohol, and retained a personal fear that he would not be able to stop drinking if he himself took a drink.
Rawlins’ early education was scanty, having attended local schools in the area and a year and a half at Rock River Seminary at Mt. Morris, Illinois. Rawlins then studied law under Isaac P. Stevens of Galena, Illinois and was admitted to the bar in 1854. Rawlins practiced law with Stevens and later with Rawlins’ own pupil, David Sheean.
*Studied law in Galena office of Isaac P. Stevens; practices with Stevens and, later, with David Sheean
*Served as Galena City Attorney (1857), and Presidential Elector for Stephen Douglas (1860)
*Commissioned Captain and Assistant Adjutant General on staff of U.S. Grant, August 1861
*Promoted Major, May 1862
*Promoted Lieutenant Colonel, November 1862
*Promoted Brigadier General and Chief of Staff (USA), March 1865
*Received brevet ranks of Major General (USV), February 1865; and Major General (USA), April 1865, for war service
*Accompanied Dodge Expedition over proposed Union Pacific RR route, 1867; gave name to Rawlins, Wyoming
*Appointed U.S. Secretary of War, March 1869
*Died in Washington, September 6, 1869; buried in Arlington National Cemetery