When I began writing, not once did it occur to me that I would send more than two or three letters to you, but at your request I decided to continue them as long as the "spirit moved me" or as long as I could recall events that I thought would be fairly good history of early days, and relished by your readers.

As I said in the beginning, all I have recorded is from memory's storehouse, for I have no notes or data of any kind to refer to, either to refresh my memory or to state facts. No doubt, many errors have crept into the story, but they will be more as to details than otherwise, for in all statements I have made the facts are substantially true. My thought all the way thru has been to preserve incidents, events and people who are actors in the battle of subduing a wild, vast and climatically unfriendly country into a garden of inestimable productions of food and wealth as well as demonstrating that it is a climate of health and comfort. If I have succeeded in doing so, my main object has been attained.

Excuses are of no interest to the reader, but it is fair to the reader to say that very soon after I began the series I was solicited by the governor to serve on the exemption board in selecting and preparing soldiers for the war in Europe. Much as I dreaded the task, I deemed it my duty to "do my bit," even if personal business suffered. The work has proven ten times greater than I supposed it would be. For this reason, and on account of work in my office, I have written most of the pioneer letters by snatches and at odd times, rarely having time to review and correct errors or mistakes. These defects, if any, have been largely cured by the printer or the proof reader. In some instanced names have been changed, which arose from blind copy, no doubt. I recollect that Samuel Cave was published "Cass," J. M. Moss was "Mass"; I was made to say I was made a Mason on March 14, 1897, and it should have been 1859.

As I take leave of the letter writing of old times in pioneer days in the county, I hope others may put into print the later history of the progress of the county; do it while facts and events are all clear and well-known.

In all my letters I have studiously tried not to inject myself into any part of the early history further than was absolutely necessary to explain or to elucidate the topic I was discussing; for while I was an observer and contemporary of what I have described, it was only in the capacity of an obscure and inconsequential unit, who later may have had something to do with the growth and development of the county and still later became a sort of quasi-historian of early days.

No less than five letters have come to me from readers of your paper, four men who are residents of the county now, asking that I append my autobiography to the series of letters. With all due respect and thanks to the writers, I beg to say that my sense of the fitness of the case tells me that the public little cares who or what the writer is or may be, but the facts and the history are of value in many a way, and interesting, as is all early history.

This I may say, that the people of Bremer county honored me in many ways, as did also the state of Iowa. I did my best to show a due appreciation for all honors bestowed and faithfully account for every trust confided in me. And with pride I point to a clear record in every case. I gave to the county two stalwart and honored sons, both born in Bremer county. One is a resident of Idaho now. When in South Dakota, he served in the convention that framed the constitution for the state, and later on he served in the legislature, and is now a member of the legislature of Idaho, and has two sons now in the service for our country.

My other and younger son is a prominent and active business man in South Dakota. He, too, has a son who tried to enter the service, but he was rejected because of his age. The boy is counting the days until the record will show him competent to be a soldier, for he says, "Grand-dad was a soldier and so will I be, as soon as I can." These boys are my pride and my free offering to my country.

*          *          *

I have mentioned a long list of Bremer county pioneer boys who have won distinguished places in business, in professions, and in all walks in life. Doubtless I overlooked others of merit, who should be classed as worthy of notice and cited as examples of what a boy can do in hewing his way thru life. It seems to me at this distance, in time, Waverly has been a leader in giving the country good citizens and leaders in finance, law, journalism, and all-around successful business. She may well be proud of the men sent out to take part in world affairs.

Among those I knew best and had most to do with are Harry Hazlett and Will Tyrrell, and of the latter I believe I have spoken particularly. Both were far above the average of their contemporaries and associates in ability and industrious habits. Waverly never produced two more sincere, honest and faithful boys. With both of them I was associated, first as employe and later as business partner, and have always congratulated myself that I may have helped them to get started on the right track, where they had the opportunity to slow down and develop the latent talents and force of character that were in them. They were alike, and yet unlike, in many ways. HalTy and I purchased the Shell Rock News when it had stranded, along in the 70's, and put it on its feet and sold it. When I sold my interest in the Republican to James Fletcher, Will retained his interest and remained in Waverly, where he wrote his name high up among business men and in the social walks of the town.

I purchased the Mason City Republican and when I removed from Waverly to my new home, Harry went with me as foreman and remained with me until I sold it seven years later and struck west for South Dakota to pioneer once more in a new country. Harry went along. We had many plans mapped out, how we would establish a paper, get all the land we could under the law, which was 480 acres, which with my son Briney we could have a body of more than 1300 acres, and we would stock it, etc., etc. But we found our dreams dissipated, because such a body of land could not be gotten then, for every quarter section was being grabbed by a land-hungry pioneer.

I started the Charles Mix County Republican, located in a town of twenty-five inhabitants; we lived in a shack, cooked our own food, washed our own shirts, etc. The newness soon wore off and Harry suggested he would beat it back toward civilization and stay until conditions changed. Then he would return with capital enough to buy all the land he wanted. His departure was regretted by myself
and two boys, but we conceded he was both lucky and wise, first that he could go, and second that he would go.

This was our separation; he went and we stayed to fight it out on that line. He finally staked down in Baxter, Jasper county, Iowa, and remained until he retired in comfortable circumstances. He now spends his summers angling for and coaxing the pickerel and bass of the northern lakes to bite at the bait he anoints with spittle he learned to manufacture at the end of a clay pipe stem, labled "T. D." In winter he houses up, and reads Poe's "Raven" once a week, "Davy Crockett" and "Daniel Boone" between times, and at odd times other books. As a typo, Harry was a double team, and indispensible about a printing office. As a paragrapher and writer of pert and snappy locals, he had no superior in Waverly. He had a keen perception of the ludicrous and could detect a sham as quickly as a trained detective. He always had a ravenous appetite for doggerel poetry, such as a lot of contributors flood newspaper offices with, and while putting one of them in type he would commit every line and fit some sort of tune to it, and sing it with such spirit that the other boys in the office would call attention to Hazlett's concert program.

In all respects he was a generous and whole-hearted boy, whose sympathies were with the under, dog in the fight, as he often put it. In his younger days, his liberality always kept him dead broke. If he met a fellow in hard luck, he would give him the last nickel he had. He had the knack and ability to make money, as well as to get rid of it. In his more mature years he learned to save and economize, and soon was on Easy Street. Now he is a student and a thoughtful man, a writer of interesting matter, and between his books and his fishing rod he is spending his time as pleasantly as if in dream land. Nobody enjoys a good story better than he does, and few can tell one better.

If I were looking for a team possessing all the best traits of character, of head and of heart, I would pick Harry Hazlett and Will Tyrrell. If I wanted to find two men who are always loyal to friends, to right, and to country, I would again pick them. As the sun veers to the west and settles clown upon faithful and good men I have known from boyhood to manhood, and from manhood to approaching old age, I know of none to whom I am bound by a bond of friendship, yes, even of love, stronger than to these two Waverly boys, now past the three score mile post in life. I rejoice to know that they are taking life easy, and that pleasant shadows are falling across their paths, while we are separated by rivers, mountains and miles.



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Pioneer Days of Bremer County -- Chapter I