[ Post Response ] [ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]

Clayton co. in 1838


Posted By: Cathy Joynt Labath (email)
Date: 3/7/2004 at 02:25:34

Clayton Co., July 7th, 1838

Dear Father:

I am in latitude 42 1/2, a considerable distance north of what I intended when I left home. One great reason why I came thus far north is that on inquiry of many who had lived in the southern part of Indiana and Illinois, I found that it was unhealthy on all those flat extensive prairies. Besides all the good land was taken up. And the same reason which made it unhealthy for man would render it difficult keeping sheep, one object which I had in view when I left home. And to conclude my reasons for stopping here it is in the vicinity of the lead mines, where there are a great many persons engaged in mining, which makes a good market for everything which the farmer can raise so long as there is a market on the Mississippi River. I suppose it is as good a farming country as it is farther south, and the lead mines are said to be richer than the gold mines of Mexico, that is, there is more profit in working them.

The claim I have to the land I am improving is like all the other claims in the Territory (perhaps thirty or forty thousand in number). There is not a man in Ioway Territory who has a deed of his lands. There is a sort of combination among the settlers to support one another at the day of sale, and keep the speculators out. So sure are they of the lands they claim that they make as much improvement as though they now had government deeds for them. So great is the number whose interest is to keep the speculator out, he durst not come, neither would it be safe for him to bid on a settler's improvement, for it is the avowed intention of many of them to protect their's with rifle, and defend their claims at the hazard of their lives. It was tried at Chicago and the squatters came out victorious. I write this, not that I approve of the measure, but seeing that the measure is adopted to receive its benefits. Should the lands come into market before I have time to make money to enter it I shall look at home for a supply for the purpose. I have bought me part of a prairie team and am breaking prairie with another man, and intend putting in spring wheat and oats in the spring, and fencing this winter. I am at present boarding in the family of an eastern doctor, but think I shall soon follow the custom of the country, which is keeping bachelor's hall.

This is to all appearances as fine a sheep country as ever saw the light of the sun. When the country becomes a little older and the wild animals thinned out, I think I shall enter into wool growing, as I think there is a considerable extent of country that will be fine for this business. All the grasses that will grow at the East will flourish here in abundance. It produces white clover in abundance. The natural grass is not such as I supposed, tall as a man's head. It is not more than knee high on the dry prairie. The tall grass is on the low, wet land or close in the edge of the timber. I could as easily have summered 10,000 sheep as father can five hundred. The soil is a rich black loam with good wood and fine springs of water, which two things are greatly needed in a great many parts of the country farther south.

I think now that I shall not come home until the land comes into market. Ioway extends west of the Mississippi about one hundred miles and from Missouri about four hundred miles. It has lately been set off from Wisconsin Territory.

From your affectionate son,
Turkey River Post Office,
Thirty Miles Above Dubuque, Iowa Territory

-transcribed by Cathy Joynt Labath, co-coordinator of the Iowa History Project

Visit the Iowa History Project

Clayton Documents maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen


Post Response

Your Name:
E-Mail Address:
One Genealogy Document per submission please!
Please include the source of the Document. Thank you!

If you'd like to include a link to another page with your message,
please provide both the URL address and the title of the page:

Optional Link URL:
Optional Link Title:

If you'd like e-mail notification of responses, please check this box:

Verification Test: Please type the two letters
before submission   (helps stop automated spam):  



[ Post Response ] [ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]