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John Brisco


Posted By: volunteer transcriber
Date: 3/2/2004 at 04:35:09

John Brisco
One of the earliest pioneers of Iowa, and one who has seen nothing but frontier life since his early boyhood in Shelby County, Ky., until now, was born of good old Kentucky stock in Shelby County. His parents moved from there to Monroe County, Ind., when he was a small boy. His reminiscences of Indiana or Hoosier pioneer life; of their log cabins without a scrap of iron; their primitive customs as a whole, are very interesting. He lived at home, assisting his father to carry on the farm until his nineteenth year, when he went to work on the river, piloting the old styled flat boat between Louisville, Ky., and New Orleans. It was a life of intense hardship. One of these boats, floating with the stream, took fifteen days or more to do the journey. The boats, when they arrived, were sold for the lumber in them, though some of them have been brought up the stream by means of ropes and horses. In 1843 he married Adeline Head, of Monroe County. Her father emigrated from “New Virginia” when she was but two years of age. Their names were Josiah and Lydia Head. Both died when she was quite young. Mrs. Brisco is a grand example of what our early pioneer women were, having endured privations and hardships with her husband, working in the field as in the
house, being a “better shot” with the frontiersman’s rifle than the majority of them themselves, and lastly having raised a family of fourteen children, the greater portion living today to bless the mother and father from whom they have inherited sound constitutions and pure blood. Mr. Brisco, today is healthy and vigorous. Upon Mr. Brisco’s marriage they moved to Kosciusko County in the fall of 1847, and from there moved to Allamakee, living there until 1861, when he moved to Riverton. In Allamakee County he moved to Rossville, where he bought 200 acres – two besides himself living in that section at that time, and laid out the town, now Rossville. He carried on the farm for three years, then moved to town and went into the manufacturing of plows and blacksmithing with David Skinner, and remained in the company seven years, when he sold out and formed a partnership with Mr. Ross and built a steam grist mill, which he ran about one year, returning to the farm. During the time he ran the manufacturing of plows he went into and established a shop at Oronoko, on Zumbro River, running it one year and sold out. During this time he also made two
trips to Pike’s Peak, it being the time of the gold fever, crossing the plains four times with an ox team; the first time there was a company of sixty men and thirty wagons; the second time twenty-seven men, one woman and sixteen wagons. During the last trip they made a halt at Denver, the Indians being on the war path. At the time of their settlement in Iowa, bears and game were abundant. Mrs. Brisco has seen five bears at one time. The pigs had to be kept in the house; and being afraid they would molest the children, Mrs. Brisco learned to use the rifle. Some of her shots rival the stories of the frontier marksman. Her husband once wagered a pair of pants against a new dress that she could not kill over four or five partridges or wood pheasants at a shot; but her scoring thirty-one birds with every shot won the dress. Few women in the history of frontier life have equaled this. Squirrels and wild turkey were doomed if she could see as much as their heads. She has killed two deer. In 1870 he bought a farm of ninety acres in Pleasant Grove and lived there four years; then sold it and bought the one of 160 acres, where he now resides. Their children are – Prier L., Lydia M. and Elizabeth Jane, born in Monroe County, Ind.; Jeremiah and Harriet M., born in Kosciusko County, Ind.; Matilda I. (the first child born in the county), John L. (died when three years old), Emmie L. (Died in infancy), Josiah, Clementine, and Robinson M., born in Allamakee County, Ia; Charles C., Francis U. and Walter M. born in Riverton, Floyd County.

- source: History of Floyd County, Iowa; Chicago: Inter-state Publishing Co., 1882; Pleasant Grove twp. Pages 849 – 851; LaCrosse, WI : Brookhaven Press, 2000 [Reprint]
- transcribed by Kathy Gerkins


Allamakee Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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