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Pioneer Settlers of Monroe Co - Martin Cleaver (1820 - 1910)


Posted By: DJ Scieszinski
Date: 11/6/2016 at 13:17:45

THE ALBIA UNION, Tuesday, January 22, 1907


Uncle Martin Clever* is Persuaded to Give His Earliest Recollections of Albia and Monroe County

I first saw Albia and Monroe county in October, 1854, when I came from my Pennsylvania home six miles west of Pittsburg with some surplus money to invest in Iowa land. I was accompanied by my brother-in-law, Thos. Silk, and an old neighbor, Alexander Speer. We walked from Eddyville, and received our first introduction into a Monroe county home in Bluff Creek township, where we were entertained by Andy Robb, one of the pioneer settlers, and engaged him to take us by team to Charlton and Indianola on a land inspection. I bought a quarter section in Warren county and entered an eighty near the present town of Milo. My brother-in-law secured a quarter and Speer bought a half section in the same neighborhood. We returned to the home of Andy Robb, and when I told him I wanted some land in Monroe county he cited me to John Bone, who want to sell, and from whom I bought a half section of native prairie in Troy and Bluff Creek at about $7 per acre. I then came to Albia, where I was directed to Judge Townsend's office on the south side of the square, who made out my deed and I began paying taxes on that land and have kept it up ever since. If I remember correctly John R. Duncan was county treasurer then and I sent him my annual taxes for a number of years before I ever saw him.

I can recall only a few scattering homes at that time, and the town and country had a decidedly new appearance. There was no railroad and but few business houses. At the Robb home in Bluff Creek I became acquainted with Wm. Robb, Joe Robb and son, who was called “Little Jimmy”. I remember attending Seceder church at Pleasant Divide where I first saw Wm. Chisholm, who stood up by the altar an called off the hymns for the congregation to sing. I cannot remember how we got back to Eddyville or from there to Ottumwa, but think we walked. I do remember that we took the stage from the latter place, and that there was only room for two inside. The third one of our number had to ride in front with the driver. We passed through Fairfield, which had only a few huts sitting down in the edge of the brush.

Early in ‘69 I came again, and at that time stopped at the old Monroe on the northwest corner of the square. It was conducted then by a man by the name of Geo. Moore. He let me have a bony horse to ride to my farm - but I have forgiven him. I may be mistaken in the name of the proprietor.

During the war I paid taxes as high as $80, and I decided to either sell my land or move onto it. I returned home from my second trip and the following March brought my family to make this our future home. We came by the steamboat Maggie Hayes, and were transferred to the Andy Johnson at St. Louis, and took the Des Moines Valley road at Keokuk to Ottumwa, where we were transferred to the C. B. & Q. for Albia. I paid passenger fare for thirteen from Pittsburg, and besides my family brought my carpenters, Alex Still and nephew, Jim Still, and Alex Harbaugh. Milton Hanks and family were on the same train from Ottumwa, coming from Indiana. It happened that George Cramer was coming from Ottumwa, and when he learned somehow that Albia was our destination he made a deal with us there and then to stop at the Cramer House. That was March 29, 1869, and we found the hotel only a small two-story frame structure. It was a question what to do with the Hanks family and the thirteen of my crowd. But somehow Mrs. Cramer managed to tuck them all away for sleep. The house was open and we had to hang quilts up to keep the snow from blowing in through the crevices. We had candles and lamps in those days.

While there we called our first family physician, Dr. Atchison, who was one of the leading practitioners here at that time, to attend a case of chicken pox contracted on the boat by our youngest child, who was only a year old.

I left my family at the Cramer House while I took my men and built a shanty to live in, and I remember I paid $65 to Cramer for board and was glad to get off that cheap. My men found lodging and board at the Robeson and Wm. Mercer homes, and as soon as the shanty was finished we moved in and commenced building the barn and stables for the stock. Wm. Gray will remember that twice a week I carried out a big basket of bread from his restaurant all that summer. He kept on the north side of the square.

We had brought with us our bedding and books and such things as could be packed in boxes, and we bought our first dishes and groceries from Col. Hurd.

In the shanty we built bunks to sleep on and for shingles we used lapped boards. The summer happened to be a rainy season and we had many a drip from those lapped boards on our beds and down the stove pipes, and were often driven to seek shelter in the barn, which had been well covered. However, we moved into our home in October and had real beds to sleep in and a shingled roof over our heads. I recall that Jord Norman and his brother painted our house and Wm. Walker did the plastering. Louie Bothell built my fences and I remember I paid as high as $26 a thousand for lumber.

Our children attended school at the Reitzel school house a mile and a fourth northwest and Miss Margaret Elder (Mrs. J. C. Robeson) was their first Monroe county teacher. We attended church at Service Chapel, where we soon got acquainted with the neighbors and good citizens of our community. We spent ten years on the farm and then came to Albia, where we now live. Many of our happiest days were on the farm, where our oldest children were married and started out in life for themselves, and now in our declining years it is a pleasure to have them come to us, even to the fourth generation, for occasional family gatherings.

Picture Caption: Four Generations of Clever, All Given Names are Martin

*NOTE: Martin George Cleaver: Born February 19, 1820, near Carlisle, PA; Died: February 8, 1910, Albia, IA; Burial: Oakview Cemetery, Albia, IA


Monroe Biographies maintained by Susan Claman.
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