BUT FEW OLD SETTLERS REMAIN
The death of Mrs. Jacob Eveland removed one of the very oldest pioneers of the county, if not the oldest in length of time in the county. I doubt if there is a survivor left who came to the county as early as 1852. I recollect her as Angeline Stuffiebeam when she was a small girl with her hair falling over her shoulders and back. She was then nine or ten years old. Her husband is probably the oldest continuous resident in Lafayette township. He was there when I first landed in the township, in 1856. All these years he and his good wife saw the people come and the people go, while they remained on, or near, the spot where she passed away.
Not long hence the last of the pioneers of the 50's will have passed away. Such is the march of time. History records their work and good deeds for others to read.
I recall that I failed to mention Charley Moulton as one of the first boys to enlist in 1861. He went out with the men who were in Co. K, of the Third Iowa, and, as I recollect, was the first man wounded from the county. At the little skirmish, or battle, at Blue Mills, in Northern Missouri, he was badly wounded and never recovered from the injury. He was hit in the body by a bullet that affected his lungs. In later days, he removed to South Dakota and located at Pierre, and he lives there yet. I often met him in that city, of which he was for many years police judge. He was always a sufferer from the wound he received early in the war. He will be remembered as a brother to G. W. Moulton, who kept a grocery store in Waverly for a good many years. Charley married Miss Perry, a sister of Ed Perry, who was an old settler of the county and well known to all the earlier settlers and who, I believe, died some years ago. Charley is an example of what a man can endure and suffer from a wound, and still live to a green old age.
As I go over the names of the very earliest settlers of the county, I am amazed to find that so few remain. Removals and death have taken most all of the earliest settlers. A few are represented by their posterity, as honorable and worthy representatives of the hardy and heroic parents who set the pace of greatness of Bremer county. As all know, Charley McCaffree was the original pioneer and located in what is now Jefferson township. Long ago he passed away, with the distinction of being the first white man to locate a home in the county. He left a family of children worthy of the name he left them, and I believe one or two of his sons, still live in the county or upon its borders, as leading men in the community of their homes.
Soon after McCaffree located, the Tibbetts brothers, Henry and Wesley, came, and for years were prominent and leading citizens in the county. They remained to see Bremer county grow great and prosperous, and had much to do in shaping public affairs in the beginning, and the impress of their efforts still remains to this day. But the roving disposition that they brought with them took them out of the county in the 70's and they migrated to Kansas, made new homes and passed away there.
About the time the Tibbetts came to the county also came the Messinger family and located in the locality of McCaffree and the Tibbetts brothers. E. J. Messinger was a man of push and sterling character, and became better known to the pioneers than any of the -earlier settlers, because he rendered much public service in the organization of the county and township where he lived. He finally removed to Waterloo and became interested in the milling business in that place, and, I think, passed away there.
When my company was recruited for the service, "Johnny," a son of Elias J. Messinger, enlisted, as did John F., a brother of Elias, and went to the state camp at Davenport. In October "Johnny" was attacked by pneumonia and died suddenly, the first man to die out of the company. I took the remains home for burial. The funeral services were held in the "Dicken" school house, and a sad day it was, for all the people from the country about were present. The next man to die was Henry Gors, a splendid German boy, and the next one was Herbert R. Higgins, a son of Eugene Higgins, and a nephew of N. M. Smith, well known as sheriff of the county in the days after the war closed. All three of these noble young men died from pneumonia, and, no doubt, because of lack of skill and care which physicians now render to sick men. Then we lived in a camp poorly provided with any means of caring for a sick man—beds on the ground, little covering, no sanitation, and no preparations for cooking food or nursing a sick man. It is different now, thanks to science and good sense.
The deaths of these boys cast a chill of gloom on the men, but it was unavoidable then, because of the rush to get soldiers to the front line. I have always regarded those boys as martyrs, when I think of them. John F. Messinger remained in the company until we were discharged and came home with us, and some years later removed to Waterloo, where he died a few years ago.
Among those I recollect Aunt Sarah Harris, William Baskins, Calvin Kingsley, Louis Case, Calvin S. Colton, Mrs. Benjamin Fobes, Joe Babbage may be named. No doubt there are a few others whom I do not recall. Many of them left children who still reside in the county, and among these are Fred Downing, Herb Broadie and Frank Lee, Mrs. William Mooney, Mrs. J. M. Gross, Mrs. William Temple, the Hullman brothers, one of whom is ye editor of the Democrat now., Charley Tyrrell, and, no doubt, several others of this class, most of whom I knew as children, and who still live in the county.
But time has shortened the list so that comparatively few are yet residents of the county. Among the boys and girls of the early day and scions of the pioneers, none are so near and dear to me as my own "boys" who were with me thru the rebellion. John J. Chadwick, son of David Chadwick, John B. Kerr, son of brave and patriotic Mather Kerr, of Grove Hill, Chris. Mohling, son of the pioneer Mohling family, Guy Farnsworth anad Alex F. Nicol, all are pioneers, as young men, or boys, then, but stalwart citizens now, as they were heroes in the storn'is of war. What is more natural than that I cling to them now as they clung to me in those days ? Away out here on the shores of the Pacific ocean, a near neighbor of mine is Emma Martin, one of Asa T. Martin's daughters, and her husband, Terence O'Brien, a comrade, son of Mrs. Kinney, who lived many years at old Martinsburg, and a brother to Eddie O'Brien, who was a member of my company and was killed in battle. It is a pleasure to be so located, and when we go over the old pioneer days, we do so with both pleasure and sorrow. Time is marching on, history is being made rapidly and written with bloody ink. As I scribble these letters I do it with the hope of leaving to the future generations my recollections of the early days of Bremer county. My next letter will be the last one, and then I shall ring down the curtain as a poor writer of history.
Last updated 4/14/15
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