Major Hoyt Sherman was born in Ohio in 1827, the youngest of 11 children. His father was an Ohio Supreme Court judge, his brother John became the U.S. Secretary of Treasury and Secretary of State, and his brother William Tecumseh Sherman, a famous Civil War General.
Hoyt Sherman came to Iowa in 1848 and joined the Bar the following year. In 1850, he was appointed Postmaster and served as such until he resigned and was elected clerk of the District Court in 1853.
On Christmas day, 1855, Sherman married Sara Moulton, an Ohio native. They had five children.
Throughout his life, Sherman contributed to the development of Des Moines. He served as an organizer of the Des Moines Coal Company, the Des Moines Water Company, Equitable Life Insurance Company, and served on the Board of Directors for the Iowa and Minnesota Railroad, as well as the Narrow Guage railroad. He was also a pioneer member of many organizations and societies.
In 1850, Sherman purchased land at auction that would eventually be the setting for Hoyt Sherman Place:
On the day fixed, he was there and was offered five dollars to act as clerk of the sale, which he accepted. When the tract he wanted was offered, it soon developed that others wanted it. Bids ran up to the limit of his pile and halted for a time, when he added the five dollars–his day’s compensation–and got. — Pioneers of Polk County, vol. I, 1908
The construction of Hoyt Sherman Place was finished in 1877. Prior to then, the Shermans lived on the southwest corner of 6th and Locust. Today Hoyt Sherman Place serves as home to the Des Moines Women’s Club and provides events space for authors, dancers, musicians, and other performers.
Sherman's name has also been lent to the Sherman Hill Neighborhood, a district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.