Mrs. Sabina McCrystal

Sabina (Marble) Rogers McCrystal

Ellery E. Rogers

That the true pioneer spirit is as manifest in women as in men is evident from the life record of Mrs. Sabina McCrystal, who was born in Linton township, Allamakee county, about three and a half miles from what is now Rossville, in the days when the most primitive conditions yet prevailed in this part of the state. Mrs. McCrystal has proven herself as capable as any man in the management of her one hundred and twenty acre farm, which she personally superintends and in its cultivation has found a gratifying measure of success. She is a daughter of Moses and Fannie (Snook) Marble, both of whom were born in New York state, the former in 1814 and the latter in 1820. In 1835 they moved westward to Trumbull county, Ohio. In his early manhood the father followed the wagonmaker’s trade but later gave his attention to farming. Seeking the opportunities of the middle west, he nest removed to Illinois and thence to Iowa, making settlement in Clayton county in 1845. The year 1860 marked his arrival in Linton township, Allamakee county. There he became an extensive landholder, his farm lying near what is now Big Foot School, and there he continued in agricultural pursuits until 1883, when he moved to a place on sections 16 and 17, Linton township, in the cultivation of which he continued until his death in 1887. His wife had preceded him to the Great Beyond about one month. At the outbreak of the Civil war Moses Marble enlisted in a volunteer company in Ohio but was never called upon for active service. In matters of citizenship he was loyal and conscientious and ever ready to serve his country. For a number of years he held the position of township trustee and was also elected to the office of justice of the peace, although he did not qualify for the office. He and his wife had seven children, among them, beside Mrs. McCrystal, being Charles H. Marble, who now operates the home farm in Linton township.

The memory of Mrs. McCrystal reaches back to the times when the rich farms of the present day were still broad prairies and wild animals and game were plentiful. She recalls to mind that often bear meat and venison were served on the family table, and a picture transfixed in her memory is that of her mother bending over the old fireplace, broiling bear meat and venison. When about six years of age she and her brother, Charles H., of whom more extended mention is made in another part of this work, experienced an adventure which has remained vivid with her on account of the danger of the situation. The two children were sent to a near-by spring, in what was called the McGew hollow, for water, when happening to look up they say a large lynx crouching on the limb of a tree, ready to spring at the children. They hurriedly left the pail, making their way to safety and their father , who immediately fired a signal which brought the neighbors. Soon seven or eight of them had gathered, and going back to the place where the children had seen the lynx found the beast and succeeded in killing it. It certainly was one of the largest of its tribe, for measuring it with a fence rail they found that it was two feet longer than the rail. In the latter ‘50s, when the hunters used to come to that vicinity they made Moses Marble’s place their headquarters. The first to come would build a log hut as long as one length of logs; the next would build his cabin onto the first one; the next would do likewise, and at one time this log building measured a length of twenty-seven logs and comprised twenty-seven compartments for the hunters. Mrs. McCrystal still well remembers all these details of the early pioneer times, the vast unbroken prairies and the wild nature of the surrounding hills. In fact there is probably no other resident in this vicinity who has as clear a remembrance of the early times, as she is among the few who spent her childhood among these conditions.

Mrs. McCrystal resided with her parents until her first marriage, which took place on December 3, 1875. Her husband, Ellery E. Rogers, was born in Massachusetts on the 10th of June, 1848, a son of William Pitt Rogers. His mother died when he was a young man but he had before this event come to Iowa with his parents at the age of about sixteen. After he had passed his seventeenth birthday he began work for himself, finding employment in the pineries during the winter and doing grubbing during the summer months. He was so occupied until his marriage, carefully husbanding his savings, and at that period was able to buy a farm of fifty acres in Dry Hollow, Linton township, where Mr. and Mrs. Rogers made their home until about 1886, their agricultural labors resulting in gratifying financial returns. In that year they sold the farm and removed to Waukon, where Mr. Rogers engaged to some extent in the real-estate business, buying lots upon which he built and then selling them. He was so engaged for about two years, when he proceeded to northern Wisconsin, where he spent a season in the pineries and the remainder of the year at Oshkosh. Perceiving an opportunity to profit by building transactions in La Crosse, Wisconsin, he removed to that place, buying lots upon which he built and which he improved and later sold. After engaging about a year along that line he formed a partnership with a Mr. Hannerberg, and they bought a sawmill, which they brought to Scott Hollow, Linton township. They operated the mill for a season,, at the end of which time they sold out, and then Mr. Rogers purchased the farm upon which Mrs. McCrystal now resides. The first purchase comprised eighty acres, but Mrs. McCrystal has since added thereto. It was valuable land and Mr. Rogers continued for the remainder of his life in its operation, improving the property and bringing his acres to a high state of cultivation. He erected substantial buildings and repaired those which were found on the farm, making it one of the most valuable in the vicinity. After a life rich in labor, but also rich in achievement, Mr. Rogers passed away on April 4, 1895. Although he was public-spirited and progressive and ever interested in movements undertaken for the general welfare, he never aspired to office. He was well known throughout the county and had established a reputation on account of his literary talents, being particularly gifted in the writing of poetry. His memory is still fresh with many of the older residents of the locality, who esteemed him as a purposeful man, ambitious to succeed but also considerate of the interest of others, never promoting his prosperity at the expense of someone else.

Mrs. Rogers continued to make her home on the farm, taking up its management and devoting herself to its improvement and development. In November, 1897, she married Daniel McCrystal, separating from him after twelve years, by mutual agreement. She is still actively engaged in the work of the farm and is ably assisted by an adopted son. As she had no children of her own, Mrs. McCrystal adopted, in 1902, an orphan girl, Daisy Belle Read, taking her from the Des Moines Orphan Home and bestowing upon her the love of a mother, rearing and educating her as her own child. Mary D. McCrystal, which name she gave her, was born September 20, 1894, and in April, 1912, married William Scott, of McGregor, and they now reside on a farm in Linton township. In April, 1903, Mrs. McCrystal adopted a boy from the same institution, named Clifford Burns, who was born August 16, 1894. He is now ably assisting his mother in the operation of the farm, thereby returning the kindness and love which she bestows upon him. Mrs. McCrystal now holds title to one hundred and twenty acres of valuable land which she still personally superintends. She also owns a fine building lot in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and is a stockholder in the Monona Creamery Company. She hopes to spend the remainder of her life on the farm which has so long been her home and upon which she has expended so much of her labor and care. She enjoys in a high degree the esteem and confidence of all who know her and well merits the high regard which her friends entertain for her. Charitably inclined, she does everything in her power to ameliorate the conditions of those in need and ever opens her heart and hand to those who make appeal to her. One of the native-born pioneer women of this part of the state, she has watched primitive conditions give way to the onward march of civilization and has done her full share in bringing about the prosperous conditions enjoyed by the present generation. Her history and that of Linton township are closely interwoven and there are few who can so interestingly recount the olden days and relate reminiscences of times which seem to the present generation more like fairy tales than realities.

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich

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