BARNETT, UNDERWOOD, STEELE, STUMBO
Posted By: Steve Hols (email)
Date: 3/25/2017 at 18:31:13
Pioneer Resident Dies.
Believed To Be Oldest
In The Tri-Counties
With the death of Mrs, Lovica Barnett at her home a mile-and-a-half above Eddyville last Thursday morning, the Eddyville community loses one of her oldest and best known citizens.
Born in Eddyville in 1851, daughter of Jeremiah and Margaret Underwood, she was married in 1867 to John Barnett, a veteran of the Civil War, who built the log cabin which still stands on the west side of the river road, a short distance above the newer story and a half frame cottage in which they later occupied, and where she died. Thus for over three quarters of a century she lived on the same farm.
Of pioneer stock, she was a real pioneer herself. One of the few remaining of the sturdy band whom the present generation salutes as the builders of the Iowa Commonwealth.
Her mother was Margaret Steele, a daughter of "Scotty" Steele, who moved in as soon as "the new purchase" was onened for settlement in 1843. Scotty himself was a typical pioneer, convivial, companionable and resourceful.
Scotty Steele entered the bottom eighty that lay just west of the present M. &. St. L. tresle and north of the raised highway that extends from the present bridge to Bridgeport but most of this eighty has been cut away by the repeated floods of the Des Moines River.
At an early age Margaret Steele married Jeremiah Underwood, son of John Underwood, who was also an early pioneer. To this union were born two daughters. Delilah and Lovica, the subject of this sketch. With in a few years this father went West seeking gold and was drowned in the Columbia River in the early fifties.
In 1867 when Lovica Underwood married John Barnett, two pioneer families were joined. From all Indications. "The Sand Ridge", in the midst of which the John Barnett farm was located, was from time in memorial a favorite Indian village site. Here earlier was the Iowa Indian village of Chief Mahaska, but later the wickiup of many of the Sacs and Fox and ages before that it was the habitat of the Mound Builders. Numbers of whose mounds are still visible.
The Sand Ridge for several miles up and down the river, was especially attractive to the Indians because it was so well stocked with game, plenty of wood and good water. It was a "Happy Hunting Ground" on earth.
From the countless indications of Indian occupations found in this vicinity, Indian ceremonial axes, stone hatchets, arrow and spearheads, flint knives and all manner of artifacts, it was a agelong haunt of aborigines and mound builders.
Chief Mahaska's lookout point, an oval mound whose longer axis is a about 300 feet, with a cross axis half that wide, and towering 100 feet sheer above the Stumbo Bottom which extended nearly half a mile westward to the river was on the Barnett land.
The Stumbo bottom which was covered with what the surveyors said was the finest white oak trees in Iowa, when the country was opened up, was reported scene of a bloody, three day intertribal battle, between the Sacs and the Foxes just after the country opened up. During the raging of this battle, John Stumbo who came scouting for a claim, was said to of hidden in a hollow log to save his scalp and on coming out at its close, found plenty of dead Indians scattered around.
There are several variations as to the cause of the battle, one was that certain Indians of one faction had been paid a large sum of the purchase price by the government, and had buried it somewhere up there, and the others fought to get their share. This has it that the money is still buried here.
Another version and probably more credible, is that as most generally was the case, at the time of the government's payments, Chief Keokuk and his quislings, turned over most of the payment to the post traders at Keokuk and Wapello villagers at Ottumwa and what if any, the rank-and-file of the indians got, was quickly traded for rotgut whiskey by unscrupulous whites. Then already enraged because they had to move out and give way to the whites, inflamed by liquor they had a battle royal.
Lovica Barnett's long and useful life, covered an epoch that will never be seen again. She saw the Iowa Commonwealth developed from grass roots up; from an Indian wilderness to its present proud position as in many ways the foremost of the 48 states.
She saw it emerge from the primal forest and unbroken prairie to civilization. She was not only born in a log cabin, she spent her honeymoon years in a log cabin her husband had erected as their home.
She saw the country here whereabouts pass through the covered wagon stage, the steamboat stage, the railroad stage, the automobile stage, and now into the airplane stage.
She witnessed the ceaseless caravans of home seekers coming to Eddyville to cross the Des Moines River, earlier by ford or ferry, after 1858 by the first wagon bridge on the river below Fort Des Moines's, and for many years the only one; the land hungry pioneers, who built up this great Commonwealth.
She was born in the mist of the California gold rush, which in after years was succeeded by the Colorado, Idaho and Black Hills gold rushes. She lived through three Great American wars and far into the fourth.
She lived to find yourself surrounded by a fine family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, though her husband passed away some years ago. She had long pass the biblical age limit of three score and 10 but with the mind keen and alert in the twilight of her years, she sat in a house by the side of the road and watch the rest of the world go by.
(From the Eddyville Tribune, Thursday, JULY 15, 1943)
Mahaska Obituaries maintained by Cindy Booth Maher.
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