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History of Cass Co. 1877



Several of the Mormon families left for Utah, in 1849-50, and when Jeremiah Bradshaw, and family, arrived at Cold Spring post office, May 15th, 1851, they found but seven Mormon families there, namely, the two Pettengills, and Messrs. Marsh, Bunnell, Warner, Ferrin and Wicks and their families. There were also two charming Mormon widows who were supported and cared for by the families named. Mr. Bradshaw assures us that he found the Mormons to be upright people, and good neighbors, and that he liked them all except "old Ferrin," whom he considered to be a scheming, selfish old sinner, who simply stuck to the Saints for the "loaves and fishes." Mr. Bradshaw arrived in the spring of 1851, and the last of the Mormons did not leave until 1852, so he had a year's residence with them and ample opportunity to learn what kind of people they were. The only Gentiles living in the county when Mr. Bradshaw came, that he recollects of, were Wm. S. Townsend and John D. Campbell and their families, neither of whom, or any of their relatives, reside in the county now. Campbell settled in the grove near Atlantic's present site, on what is now known as the Reesman farm, known for many years as the Keyes farm, and lived there a year or two. His cabin was built in 1852 and still stands on the west side of the road, not far from Miller's brewery. His grove had an unusual attraction for hunters, as he had several captivating daughters. Campbell removed from Cass to Pottawattamie, in 1853 and his present whereabouts are not known. Townsend then resided in the vicinity of Indiantown. Some of the old settlers tell us that he then lived in a cabin on the 'Botna not far from the present bridge west of Lewis.

Besides having his own family with him, Mr. Bradshaw was accompanied by his son, V. M. Bradshaw and wife; Jesse Hyatt and wife; Lewis Hyatt and wife; and James Sprague and family. They all located land in Audubon county, near where Oakfield now is, but were prevented from crossing the 'Botna river by the high water of that year, when they returned to the place where Mr. Bradshaw settled, as above stated. M. Bradshaw recollects of an election being held at his house in the Fall of 1851, while Cass was polled, only nine of which were legal, as four transient young men voted, who were not qualified as to time of residence. Mr. Bradshaw was chosen a justice of the peace, by the voluntarily bestowed assurance of his fellow citizens.

Settlers dropped in quite lively in the years 1852-3.

Vincent M. Conrad, who still resides in the vicinity of the old Indian town, came to the county first in 1850, when he made a claim and built a cabin, and returned to Dubuque county, expecting to come back here in the spring of 1851, but was prevented from doing so in that spring on account of the high water. He came, however, in 1852 and took possession of the cabin he had left, which was on the farm now occupied by Jacob Stevens. Mr. Conrad recollects attending an election while in the county in 1850, but does not recollect the number of votes polled, In that year there was a hack run from Council Bluffs to Des Moines, via Cold Spring and the hack had no house at which to stop between Cold Spring and Winterset. The driver and his passengers, if he had any, camped out, and their first camping place after leaving Cold Spring or Indiantown was at what afterward was called Hedge's Grove, now known as Gaylord's Grove, in Union township, During the winters of 1852-3-4 a dancing school was regularly conducted at Mr. Conrad's house, where old and young who "thought it no sin, stepped to the notes of the sweet violin."

After the Mormons had gone westward, Jeremiah Bradshaw, succeeded Mr. Pettengill as postmaster at Cold Spring.

June 12th, 1852, R. D. McGeehon, Morris Hoblit and George Shannon arrived in the county. They came up through the southwestern portion of the county, having left the river at St. Joseph, Mo. They were all young, single men, and roamed over the hills and valleys of the county considerably before making claims and setting stakes. Mr. McGeehon took a claim near Turkey Grove and began to build a cabin immediately, cutting and hewing the logs---in fact doing all the work himself.&mbsp&mbspThe house still stands and is occupied by J. L. Smith, Esq. It was the first house in the county that had good large modern windows in it. The sash and glass were bought in Glenwood, Mills county, which then had about twenty cabins. Mr. McGeehon had just $52 when he landed. In the fall of 1852, after his house was completed and ready for occupancy, he went back to Logan county, Illinois, and was married to Miss Mary J. Hoblit. He returned with his wife at once, staging over four hundred miles. Their household furniture the first year was scanty enough, but they managed to get along. During the first six months of her residence at Turkey Grove Mrs. McGeehon saw but one person of her own sex. A very severe storm occurred in the winter of 1852, beginning December 17th, and continuing several days. Morris Hoblit was on his way from Turkey Grove to Glenwood for supplies, with an ox team, and it was with much difficulty that he kept from freezing to death. He was but five miles from his destination when the storm began or he certainly would have perished.

James L. Byrd, and his sons, Clark, Abraham, Aaron, Thomas, Jonathan, James and William, arrived in the Spring of 1852 and staked out a large tract of land in the vicinity of where James L. Byrd now lives. Mr. Byrd built his cabin in that year and in the fall returned to Wapello county to get his family. R. D. McGeehon, distant five miles, was his neighbor. Mr. Byrd hauled his first seed wheat and potatoes from Des Moines. He sometimes went one hundred and fifty miles, to the Hackberry Ridge, in Missouri, for supplies. He often sent his grain to Rockport, Missouri to be ground. Mr. McGeehon and the other settlers sent their grists to the same mill. Mr. Byrd recollects of attending an election at Cold Spring in the fall of 1852, but his recollection is not clear as to who were voted for for officers. He recollects that the voters were himself, his sons Tom and Abe, J. Bradshaw, V. M. Bradshaw, Mason Gill, V. M. Conrad, Wm. Hamlin, (now of Exira) and R. D. McGeehon. The hack that carried the mail drove by Mr. Byrd's, and he recollects of often helping the hack across Buck Creek with a bed cord. He also recollects of keeping Milt Donnell, the driver, numerous times for nothing, for the sake of company, when corn for horse feed was worth $1.50. Mr. Byrd is a native of Kentucky, and was one of the pioneers of Indiana, in his early life. When a member of the county board in Putnam county, Indiana, more than thirty years ago, Mr. Byrd gave the casting vote that built a court house in that county. In June, 1869, as a member of the Board of Supervisors of this county he gave the vote that removed the county seat from Lewis to Atlantic.

Dr. Gershom S. Morrison settled at a place one and-a-half-miles west of the point where the town of Anita now is, in August 1853, being the first settler in that part of the county. He entered a large tract of land and built what was then called a large house. He kept the stage station for many years and in that early day Morrison's Station or Morrison's Grove was known for many miles around. The Doctor was a great hunter, and during one winter killed one hundred and fifty deer. During the first year or two he hauled his supplies from Adel, Dallas county, and went there for his milling. He had been a practising physician in Illinois, and after removing to the place named sometimes prescribed for his neighbors. The Doctor died in 1863, and these facts were learned from his son, J. C. Morrison, who still resides in the county, at Anita. Mrs. Lura Morrison, the Doctor's wife, and for whom Lura township was named, died in 1867. In 1853 Mr. Morrison's nearest neighbor was Nathaniel Hamlin, of Hamlin's Grove, Audubon county, distant nine miles. J. C. Morrison, informs us, and his recollection is in harmony with that of the other old settlers, that for the first few years the only sport that the settlers enjoyed was in killing deer and elk, which were as plenty as rabbits are at the present time, and the most unskilled hunter could kill them.

Sometime during the winter of 1853-4 a couple of young men by the name of Inues (brothers-in-law to Dick Parmele of Crooked Creek) were frozen to death on the prairie southeast of Morrison's Grove. They were on their way to Ringgold county afoot, and their deaths were not known until many days afterward when their bodies were accidentally found. One of the bodies was found on the prairie; the other in an old deserted cabin, a mile from his brother.

Dr. Jesse Marshall, settled on Turkey Creek, on what is now known as the Ellsworth place in 1852. He had a wife and several sons. The family had rather a hard name among the settlers. It is stated that they were too fond of other people's property. Dr. Marshall died in the winter of 1853-4, and was buried on his land. T. J. Byrd informs us that he happened to be riding by Marshall's house one day during the winter named, and out of neighborly feeling stopped to see how they were getting along. He met one of the young men in front of the cabin and asked him how they were getting along. The young man replied: "Tolerably well -- all but the old man -- he's dead." Mr. Byrd went into the house and found the old woman setting by the smouldering fire, her face buried in her hands. Mr. Byrd stepped to the bed in the corner of the room, threw back the blanket, and became convinced at once of the old man's death, for there before him was the body. Mr. Byrd, being much surprised, asked them why the old man had not been buried. The old woman stated that the Doctor had been dead five days and that George Reeves had gone to Iranistan after a coffin, had been gone five days and that they were looking for him back every moment. Reeves had fallen in company with a lot of "jolly dogs" at Iranistan and had been drunk ever since his arrival there. During all those days the body of the "old man" had remained on the bed on which he died without being cared for in any respect. Reeves finaly came back with a rude coffin, and the body of Dr. Marshall was laid in its narrow house beneath the winter's snow. The house in which the Marshalls lived, was made of logs, of course. It was raised in the winter of 1851-2, and all the settlers for many miles around were there. While the house was put up, one who was there assures us that eight gallons of whiskey were put down.

Marshall's death was one of the earliest in the county's history.

Old George Reeves, spoken of, improved the Everly or Macomber farm. He died in his wagon in 1853, at the place now known, as Sawyer's Grove, and was buried there, Eli Watson digging his grave. Reeves, Marshall, and one or two others are the only pioneers of whom their contemporaries, now alive, do not speak in kindness or respect. Some old settlers with whom we have conversed believe that Marshall and Reeves were both here as early as 1851, while others do not think they came so early. Reeves was from Warren county, Iowa. He broke the land which now comprises the farm of Wm. Hopley, and which lay idle several years after being broken.

Hampton Wade Holt, a Southerner, lived with Reeves, and remained in the county for a while after Reeves' death. Finally he went South again, and during the rebellion was killed in the rebel army.

Henry Martin settled at Hedge's Grove (now Gaylord's) in 1852 and built a small shanty of some kind.

H. W. Bales, and family, who reside on Indian Creek settled in the county in June 1853. Mr. Bales is a son of Rev. Bowater Bales, (now of California) who was the pioneer preacher and pioneer Free Mason of the county. A. C. Bales and other sons of H. W. Bales still reside in the county. They all came from Indiana.

Wm. Mose, a queer sort of a man, lived in a cave, in the grove, not far from the spot where J. M. Bulen's house now stands, in Atlantic township, 1851-2.

Jesse Dale, in 1853, entered the place now known as Sawyer's Grove, and returned to an eastern State. Then in the following Spring he started to come out to his land but died on the road.br />
By act of the General Assembly, in 1853, V. M. Conrad and Henry Dunn, were appointed commissioners to locate a State road from Lewis to Council Bluffs. County Surveyor Chapman did the work for the commissioners. In 1853-4, there were toll bridges at Iranistan and Lewis. The bridge at Iranistan was owned by Nelson T. Spoor and Wm. N. Dickerson. The one at Lewis was owned by J. W. Benedict, who also kept a small store on the Lewis side of the 'Botna. They charged fifty cents for allowing a man to drive his team over either bridge. These bridges were taken out by high water, and ferries were run, up to 1859, when the county built free bridges over both streams.

December 22d, 1853, H. Whipple moved into a log cabin not far from the present site of the bridge across Troublesome creek, just north of Atlantic. He had great difficulty in getting across the creek, as there was no bridge. In order to get a crossing made he built a log-heap fire on either bank, to take the frost out of the ground so that he might dig it away and make a crossing. The second night that the family were there, Mrs. Whipple stayed all night in the cabin with no company but her two small children. Mr. Whipple had gone to Iranistan for lumber with which to make a floor, and did not get home until the next day. The cabin had no door-shutter, and Mrs. Whipple set the kitchen table up to stop the aperture, which it did not quite do. The wolves came around the house and put in the night snapping and growling over the meat rinds which had been thrown out. They made night hideous, and Mrs. Whipple being unused to such things could not sleep. Indeed it was no wonder, for the family were just from a thickly settled part of Ohio, where wolves did not annoy folks in their own homes. It was six months after Mrs. Whipple began keeping house in their cabin, before she saw another woman. Mr. Whipple being a cooper by trade, made the first barrels that were made in the county, more than twenty years ago, and some of those barrels are still in the county, in a good state of preservation and continue to do good service.

L.L. Alexander, a single gentleman then, came in May 1855, and entered the land north of Atlantic, which he still owns. While he remained in the county at that time he boarded with Mr. Whipple. Soon afterward, his brother-in-law, Mr. Macomber, arrived. Mr. Alexander remained but a short time returning to Michigan, where he stopped until 1859, when he returned to Cass to abide permanently. While he was first here he built a cabin which Mr. Macomber and family occupied when they came.

July 21st, 1855, Mr. and Mrs. Whipple were made glad by the arrival of neighbors--K. W. Macomber and family, direct from Northhampton, Massachusetts. Mr. Macomber, improved what is now known as the Alexander farm. He built the house that is now on the farm, in 1857. The lumber for the house was sawed at Davenport & Ross' steam saw mill, which then stood not far from the present site of Mr. Enfield's farm house, near Lewis. The owners of the mill were none other than E. W. Davenport and L. W. Ross, both of whom are at this time prosperous citizens of Council Bluffs. Mr. Macomber has resided in Lewis since 1860.

John A. Spoor, one of the earliest settlers on Indian Creek in Washington township, (if not the earliest) located where he now lives, in the year 1854. Mr. Spoor is a native of Massachusetts, and was born in 1835. He has a cottonwood tree growing near his new and commodious farm house, which he planted in 1858, and which now measures eight feet eight inches in circumference six feet from the ground, and six inches from the ground it measures nine feet in circumference.

Jefferson Goodale, of Pymosa township, settled there in July, 1853, being so far ahead of all others in that neighborhood that it must have been lonesome for a while. His sons F. C. and A. Goodale returned from California in 1854. Frank Everett, Mr. Goodale's son-in-law, came back from California in 1853. Miss Hannah Goodale, (now the estimable wife of H. C. Johnson, of the Messenger) taught the first school in that settlement in 1858.

L. Nathan Gibbs, was the original occupant of the O-Conor farm, in Pleasant township. Gibbs was an odd genius, if odd is the word. He traded his wife for a younger and handsomer woman, paying three hundred dollars difference. The man who got Gibbs' first wife and the three hundred dollars, removed to Harrison county. Gibbs sold his farm and removed to Kansas, then when he came back after the payments on his land, he dropped his pocket book into the 'Botna river, and lost all his money, which was probably in retribution for his having traded away his wife! S. M. Tucker, the lawyer, located in the present town of Lewis in 1853. He is spoken of as a man of intelligence, but somewhat modern as to morals. He had but one arm, but was the best marksman, off-hand, in the county. His wife was an estimable lady, the daughter of Rev. Geo. B. Hitchcock. Tucker went to Fort Scott, Kansas, before the war, and his present whereabouts are not known.

The Seventh General Assembly by special enactment, authorized the building of dams in the Nishnabotany river, but required the dams and mills to be completed in three years after commencement. The Eighth General assembly modified the law and authorized the construction of dams without any requirements as to time.

In the winter of 1853, T. J. Byrd, John Branen and Mason Gill went to Rockport, Missouri, to mill, and came near freezing to death, in the storm which occurred in December of that year, and elsewhere spoken of.

Dr. Bookham, now of Missouri, some old settlers aver, kept a store in the county at an earlier day than any other man, while others dispute the statement. At any rate the Doctor kept a store near the 'Botna river, where the Lewis bridge now is, in 1852 or 1853.

From the History of Cass County, Iowa Together With Brief Mention of Old Settlers
by Lafe Young, Atlantic, Iowa:  Telegraph Steam Printing House, 1877, pp. 2-5.
Transcribed for Cass County by Cheryl Siebrass, July, 2013.

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