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Joseph "Uncle Joe" Andrews (1844-1922)


Posted By: Ken Akers (email)
Date: 5/7/2016 at 13:08:23

Joseph Andrews was born at Chatham, NH, January 11, 1844. While in infancy he was taken to Lowell, Maine, by his parents, where he grew to manhood.
At the age of 23 years he came west into the state of Iowa and remained there four years. In the fall of 1871, in company with an Iowa neighbor (Samuel Edgerton) he came in covered wagon to Dakota Territory to spy out the land and selected a homestead in Spring Valley Township, Turner County, and this has been his home till death came quite unexpectedly on Sep. 26, 1922, while he was at home of Mrs. Annie Wormwood (a niece) in Hurley.
His only child, a daughter, Mrs. Mary Williams, and her husband, came from Pittsburg, PA, to be present at the funeral. Interment was made in the Hurley Cemetery beside the grave of his beloved wife, who died nearly 44 years ago.
Joseph married Miss Georgianna Means in the autumn of 1874.
Source: "Turner County Pioneer History" by W. H. Stoddard.


A Letter From "Uncle Joe"


Marietta, Ohio, July 9, 1916

Dear Herald----According to promise
I will give you a short account of my
last round-about trip from Hurley to
Marietta. I left Hurley June first on
the 2 a. m. train via Sioux City to
Onawa where I arrived early the next
morning, and at noon took the Ill.
Central train to Smithland 17 miles
distant. There I visited three days
with an old time friend and cousin,
Fred Andrews. From Smithland I
went to Omaha, and 50 miles west on
the Burlington line to College View,
Neb., where I visited three days with
friends. College View is a suburb of
Lincoln. Here is located on of the
famous Seventh Day Adventist San-
itoriums. They also have a fine col-
lege and academy and a large and
prosperous church. In going back
and forth on the street cars we pass
quite close to the beautiful home of
W. J. Bryan, one of the nation's most
noted and respected citizens. From
here I returned to Omaha and went
out on the C.R.I & Pacific about 50
miles to Atlantic where on his farm
about two miles from the city I vi-
sited for four days with Isaac S. An-
drews (Jr.), a cousin and a playmate of my
boyhood days. Late in the fall of
1868 I worked in Atlantic and on his
farm in Lewis, six weeks for the late
Frank H. Whitney one of the boomers.
There was but one dwelling house
then finished in town. That occupied
by a carpenter named Miller, whose
wife took in boarders. The railroad
was not then completed, being delayed
by the deep cut through the main
divide some miles to the east. Now
the city has a population of about
5,000 and is one of the most prosper-
ous and progressive cities in the state.

From Atlantic I went to Exira, in
Audubon Co., about 15 miles distant
where I visited four days with three
families of kin folks, all cousins, and
old time friends. Namely Frank,
Albert, and Nathan, Abbie, and Will
Andrews. The three latter are broth-
ers and sister. They have never
married. They have a fine home all
by themselves (West Town Exira). Have a fine market
garden and small fruit business and
are prospering. I also visited another
cousin at Audubon, the county seat,
Miss Ella Stearns, one of the pioneer
teachers of Audubon co., and for the
last nine years the efficient Supt. of
schools for Audubon Co. Iowa has
had a warm place in my heart since in
the spring of 1867 I migrated from the
Old Pine tree state of Maine and lo-
cated on a little 80 acre farm one
mile south of Exira. Then a little
village of less than 20 small frame
houses, but now a thriving city of
about 800 population. My first six
months in Iowa was spent working for
an Ohio man, William Henry Har(r)ison
Bowen, at $18 a month and hire my
washing done. That was a strenuous,
but not unpleasant summer for me.
I did all kinds of farm work except
follow a team. Mr. Bowen was build-
ing a large frame barn, and as Des-
Moines about 60 miles distant was the
nearest railroad point, all of the
frame and rough lumber had to be
cut in the timber, and hauled to the
??? saw mill about three miles dis-
tant from the farm. Mr. Bowen had
the contract for furnishing the wood
for the "District school", and ??? ???
was assigned the task of cutting all
those oak, elm, and hickory tree tops
into short? length cordwood, for the
district's use which I found a very
perspiring job in the heavy timber and
underbrush, in the month of July.
The most restful part of my work was
the 2 1/2 miles walk to and from my
work each morning and evening. It
was her on the farm that I took my
first lesson in binding grains. By
being one of five men to follow an old
fashioned hand rake reaper around a
large western wheat field. My first
job at threshing was to stand at the
tail end of the machine, without any
straw carrier, and elevate all the straw
and chaff that I did not inhale, to the
man higher up, and he to the next
higher. As the hired man I followed
the machine from farm to farm for
several weeks, changing work with
the men who were to help us back
when our turn at threshing came. In
this work I several times had as a
pardner in pitching bundles Old Man
Strawl (Strahl), who afterwards became a
noted desperado. He owned a val-
uable farm in the neighborhood. He
had two sons. The oldest, Roll, about
16 years of age, who often visited at
the H. Bowen home. At home the
Stralls were considered good and kind
hearted neighbors, but a few years
later they headed a gang of so called
cow boys and hog thieves and became
the terror of the near by towns for
many miles around. William Walker,
a neighbor and a hog buyer, said he
knew he had bought hogs that were
stolen from his own hog pens, yet
dared not complain for fear of what
might follow. Occasionally they would
visit Exira or other near by towns
and in true cowboy style, ride like
madmen through the streets shooting
off their revolvers and yelling like
wild Indians. And yet with all their
deviltry no man was ever shot.
Strall nearly kicked and beat old Dr.
Ingham to death, for which he had to
pay $500, and Roll who kept a saloon
in Exira was nearly stabbed to death
by another desperado, but recovered
to be shot dead a few months later
on the streets of Exira by an unknown
marksman in a crowd of men he was
trying to intimidate with his double
barrel shot gun. This was the begin-
ing of the end. Strall laid the shoot-
ing of his son to George Hallock an 18
year old boy living in Exira. So one
day he and another man thought they
had Hallock in a trap and went gun-
ning for the boy, but he was too quick
for them and shot them both. Strall
was killed but the other man recover-
ed. About this time Strall's youngest
boy who was living in the Black Hills
was shot. A number of men were
playing cards; there was a dispute.
The lie was given and young Strall
sprang to his feet, threw off his coat
for a fist fight and was shot dead by
his opponent. It was not long after
that two others of the gang meet their
doom. John Anderson and a man
named Brown went to Atlantic
threatening to clean out the city, but
changed their minds before beginning
the job and went east to the little town
of Wiota. Arriving in town they
went into a saloon to get primed for
the occasion. On coming out John
was heard to say I am ready to go to
H____ now. It was a bright moonlight
night and as they passed a side street
a double barreled shot gun spoke twice
and both men fell dead. And no one
was arrested for the shooting.

Thus ended the history of the
Troublesome-Crooked Creek gang.
Others took warning by their com-
rads' fate and either left the country
or kept in the shade. But about this
time other tragedies were enacted not
in accordance with the rules of law
and order as we understand them. Old
Mr. Jillerson, a weak minded old man
was accused of incest by his weak
minded son and two stalwart son-in
laws, who broke into the house one
night and took the old man out and
hung him. Mrs. Jillerson recognized
the voice of the leader of the linchers
and caused their arrest. They were
confined in the strong brick jail in
Audubon. At their trial their lawyers
asked for a change of venue. The
judge was notified that if the change
was granted the men would not leave
Audubon alive. The judge gave his
reason for granting the change and
granted it. Soon after a well armed
mob of determined men intimidated
the sherif(f) and deputies, battered a
hole through the walls of the jail,
smashed the locks on the cell doors,
killed the two son-in-laws who fought
like tigers, in their cell. Young Jil-
lerson after making a full confession
of the murder of his father was hung,
and members of the hanging bee
returned quietly to their homes. One
more tragedy and I will change my
subject. The Post-Master at Polk,
Iowa (near Des Moines) was held up
and shot. The murderer and another
man who he picked up on the way
were traced to near Exira, here they
meet a man driving a team. They
invited the man to walk and drive off
with the team. But the avengers
were hot on their trail and at a large
grove perhaps ten miles west of Exira,
just over the line in Shelby County
they left the team and sought shelter
and safety in the timber. By this
time all the country was aroused and
hundreds of men from Cass, Shelby
and Audubon counties soon gathered.
Under the command of skil(l)ful leaders
they surrounded the grove and crawl-
ing on their hands and knees slowly
crept through the dense underbursh in
an unbroken circle, towards a common
center. In moving forward great
caution was required, for the human
tigers they were hunting were armed
to the teeth, and would shoot or kill.
I do not remember how long the
man hunt lasted, but the hunters were
there to stay if it took a week.

Before it ended a druggist from
Marne was shot dead, and a boy
named Hallock was shot through the
lungs. The end came when the des-
perado in his ??? ??? anoth-
er victim ??? his body for as ???-
???, and had a ??? with buckshot
from a shot gun in the hands of Levi
Montgomery, a farmer living near
Exira. The other man at once gave
himself up. He said his only crime
was being found in bad company, that
he had fired no shot, and that he had
a poor old Mother living somewhere
down in Mo. A vote of the captors
was taken and it was decided to let
the law take its course. And he was
turned over to the Shelby county
authorities and placed in the Harlan
jail to stand trial. But the aveng-
ers of the murdered Marne druggist
were on his track and his doom was
??? when the night? soon after a
crowd of 80 strong around and ???
men surrounded the jail and took him
out and hung him to a near by bridge.
Young Halloc the 16 year old boy
shot, recovered and became the "Boy
hero" of the fight. The Iowa legis-
lature appropriated a sum of money
to give him an education, and the
profits of a Horse Fair held in Des
Moines to which the railroads gave
free transportation was given him to
encourage heroism or heroic acts in

There may have been others, but I
remember only one other lawless
crime committed in Audubon Co.,
that of a man murdered in his home,
and I believe no trace was ever dis-
covered of the murder. You must
remember that all these crimes
against law and order were committ-
ed more than 60 years ago, when the
country was new and but sparsely
settled and several years after I
moved away. Today Audubon Co. is
the peer of any county in the state.
Her population is largely Danish, and
her intelligent, law abiding citizens
rank high among the people of Iowa.
The richest agricultural state in the
union. The first real farming that I
ever did was here. And under very
disa(d)vantageous conditions. It was
soon after our great civil war, when
prices of ever thing had been high,
and were about to start on a sharp

I paid one dollar a bushel for 120
bushels of wheat to sow my 60 acres
of wheatfield. I paid one dollar a
bushel for the corn to feed the thresh-
ers' horses on. I paid $2.50 a day for
seven men to bind grain, and their
board, I paid five cents a bushel for
threshing 880 bushels of fine wheat
and I sold all of the precious crop at
40 cents a bushel. The next year I
raised corn which I sold at 25 cents a
bushel. The third year I sold 2,000
bushels of fine corn at 16 cents
a bushel and hauled a part of it four
miles. That fall I rented my farm
and made arrangements to move to
Dakota. The next fall my share of
the rent 1,000 bushels of corn I sold
for 16 cents a bushel. For three
years I hired my board and then be-
cause I could not afford to board out,
I went to keeping bach.

To be frank about it, it was poverty,
and a death grip mortgage upon my
little farm that caused me to break the
ties of friendship that five years of
living among my western friends had
strengthened, and journey 200 miles
upon the far north west, to try for a
new home among strangers, and in a
strange land.

And I thanked my lucky star that a
providence led me to what is now one
of the beauty spots of South Dakota,
Old Swan Lake, and the beautiful
Spring Valley country. Where as a
pioneer with other pioneers I strug-
gled on for years with grass-hoppers,
blizzards, fire and sickness, and then
in due time received as my reward
from good old Uncle Sam, who in
those good old days, was rich enough
to give us all a farm, the patents to
320 acres of Spring Valleys rich pro-
ductive soil, still owned by me and
known as "Joseph Andrews Old
Homestead Farm". Altho I do not
claim to be the Moses who led his peo-
ple out of the land of bondage, I be-
lieve that I may humbly claim to be
one of the spies sent out to "spy out
the promised land", and my going
blazed the trail over which many of
my kinsmen and others came into a
land, figuratively speaking, that to-
day flows with milk and honey.

At one time I could count up about
40 of my relatives who lived in Tur-
ner Co., and most of them in Spring
Valley Tp. The records show that 11
quarters of Spring Valley land were
proved up on by the members of the
Andrews family. They were: S. F.
Andrews Sr. 320, S. F. Andrews Jr.,
320, Will Andrews 160, My own half
section, T. S. Fessenden ( a relative by
marriage) 160, A. A. Powers 160 and
Caroline E. Powers 320.

As every acre of that land is today
worth from $100 to $150. per acre I
feel that I and my friends made no
mistake when we settled there.

The passing years have brought
many changes in the population of
Spring Valley. Among my kinsmen
but one remains within the Valley,
Ted Andrews who farms my old
Homestead farm. And I and C. E.
Andrews are the only ones who still
have any of the original Andrews
acres. Eleven of them have gone to
their long last rest. Nine within the
Hurley cemetery, one at San Antonia(o),
Tx., and one beneath the sunkissed
soil of California, at Tropico.

But I have wondered far afield from
my starting point and will return to
Exira and resume my journey. On
June 17 I took the train at Atlantic
and went south to Red Oak, Iowa
where I took the through train on the
Burlington line, and enjoyed a fine
daylight ride through southern Iowa,
to Galesburg, Ill., where I was met
at the station by my esteemed nephew
Dr. John A. Ballard and his charming
(continued on last page)
Page 8

A Letter From Uncle Joe
continued from page 1
(all text on page 8, for the remaining 5 paragraphs of this letter, is unreadable, probably due to a malfunction during the copying process to put the old paper on microfilm.)

Yours truly
Joseph Andrews


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