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John N. Outcelt was born March 4, 1839, in Muskingum County, Ohio, his father, John, being a farmer and a native of Pennsylvania. His grandfather, Jacob Outcelt, came to the United States from Scotland and settled in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. His mother was Mary McClain, of Bedford County, in the same state. He was the youngest child, and at sixteen left home, came to Illinois and for two years sold lightning rods and saved his earnings, with which he paid tuition and other expenses in attending school one year in St. Louis. Up to the time of leaving home he had constantly attended school. After leaving the St. Louis school he sold tombstones for a St. Louis firm for three years, then worked on a farm on Fort Harrison prairie, north of Terre Haute, for a short time and in July, 1861, came to Douglas County. In February, 1862, he went to St. Louis, enlisted in Company I, First Missouri Volunteer Infantry, and in 1864 veteranized. Five months after veteranizing he went into Company F, Thirteenth Missouri Cavalry, and in December, 1864, was promoted to a lieutenancy and assigned to Company L, same regiment. After the surrender of Lee Mr. Outcelt went on an Indian campaign into Colorado and New Mexico. He received his final discharge from the service in June, 1866. At the battle at Independence, Missouri, he, with four companions, unexpectedly ran on to a masked battery of three cannons and eight or ten confederate soldiers, which they succeeded in capturing, being immediately reinforced. For this service he was promoted. At the close of the war he returned to Douglas County and farmed three years. He then was appointed deputy County clerk, which position he held up to 188o, and was then appointed clerk for a term of four years. He was formerly a Democrat, but at the fall of Fort Sumter became a Republican. He was a Mason and a member of the Christian Church.