John Willock Noble

For other people named John Noble, see John Noble (disambiguation).
John Willock Noble
18th United States Secretary of the Interior
In office
March 7, 1889  March 6, 1893
President Benjamin Harrison
Preceded by William Freeman Vilas
Succeeded by M. Hoke Smith
Personal details
Born (1831-10-26)October 26, 1831
Lancaster, Ohio
Died March 22, 1912(1912-03-22) (aged 80)
St. Louis, Missouri
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lizabeth Halsted Noble
Alma mater Miami University
Yale University
Profession Politician, Lawyer

John Willock Noble (October 26, 1831 – March 22, 1912) was a U.S. lawyer and brevet brigadier general in the Civil War. He served as the Secretary of the Interior between 1889 and 1893.[1]


Noble was born in Lancaster, Ohio,[1] and attended Miami University.[2] In 1851, he graduated from Yale University[1] with honors. He then studied law at Columbus and Cincinnati, moved to St. Louis in 1855, and a year later settled in the practice of his profession at Keokuk, Iowa. There he took a prominent part in politics.[2] At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was city attorney for Keokuk,[1] which position he had assumed in 1859.[2]

After the outbreak of the American Civil War Noble was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 3rd Iowa Cavalry in September 1861. He rose through the ranks and became the regiment's commander with the rank of colonel in June 1864. At the war's end he received a brevet (honorary promotion) to brigadier general and was mustered out of service in August 1865. [3]

After the war, he became a companion of the Missouri Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, a military society of officers of the Union armed forces and their descendants. He settled in St. Louis, Missouri, where he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and served from 1867 to 1870.[1][2]

He served as Secretary of the Interior throughout the entire Benjamin Harrison administration. Under his watch as Secretary of the Interior, the Cherokee Commission negotiated eleven agreements that removed nineteen indigenous tribes to small allotments in the Oklahoma Territory, while opening the land to homesteaders.[4] He later resumed the practice of law in St. Louis and died there in 1912.[1] He was buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery.


Noble County, Oklahoma was named for him in 1893.[5]

The "General Noble" Giant Sequoia was named for this Secretary of the Interior.[6]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6  Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Noble, John Willock". Encyclopedia Americana.
  2. 1 2 3 4  Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Noble, John Willock". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  3. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1789-1903. Francis B. Heitman. 1903. Vol. 1. pg. 749.
  4. Hagan, William T. (2003). Taking Indian Lands: The Cherokee (Jerome) Commission, 1889-1893. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 13, 18, 19, 20, 38, 182, 223, 235. ISBN 978-0-8061-3513-7.
  5. Everett, Dianna. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Noble County." Retrieved October 3, 2013.
John W. Noble in his office.
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Political offices
Preceded by
William Freeman Vilas
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Served under: Benjamin Harrison

Succeeded by
Michael Hoke Smith
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