FORTY-TWO years have come and gone since civilization’s advance guard, in the persons of DAVID W. WALTON and family,* came to occupy and develop the rich agricultural lands and exercise dominion in that part of the Cedar River country included within the boundaries of Cedar County, erst the home of the wild, untutored red men, their wives and little ones, and the grazing places of the buffalo, the elk, the deer and other animals native to the climate, herbage and grasses. Had these pioneers or some others who immediately followed them, directed their attention to the keeping of a chronological journal or diary of events, to write a history of the country now would be a comparatively easy task. In the absence of such records, the magnitude of the enterprise is very materially augmented, and the difficulties of the undertaking still further increased by reason of the absence of nearly all the pioneer fathers and mothers who first came to gladden the prairies and forest wilds with their presence, and scatter the seeds of that better intelligence, which, growing and spreading as year was added to year, has made the country of their choice rank second to none in modern accomplishments. The seeds they scattered ripened into the fullness of a plentiful harvest, and school houses, churches, cities, towns, telegraphs, railroads and palatial-like dwellings occupy the old “camp grounds” of the Sauks, Foxes and kindred tribes of red men.
The struggles, changes and vicissitudes that forty-two years evoke, are as trying to the minds, as to the bodies of men. Physical and mental strength waste away together beneath gathering years, and the memory of names, dates and events becomes lost in the confusion engendered by time and its restless, unceasing mutations. Circumstances that were fresh in memory ten and twenty years after their occurrence, are almost, if not entirely, forgotten when nearly fifty years have gone. If not entirely obliterated and effaced from memory’s tablet, they are so nearly so, that, when recalled by one seeking to preserve them, the recollections come slowly back, more like the memory of a mid-night dream than of an actual occurrence in which they were partial, if not actual participants and prominent characters. The footprint of time leaves its impressions and destroying agencies upon everything, and hence it would be unreasonable to suppose that the annals, incidents and happenings of nearly half a century in a community like that whose history we have attempted to write, could be preserved intact and unbroken.
That part of this history relating to the Cedar County Freebooters is the only succinct, connected and reliable history ever published of the outrages and outlawry to which the people of Cedar and adjoining counties were subjected for so many years. The facts relating to that reign of terror were obtained from different citizens who took a prominent part in the measures inaugurated to free themselves from the presence of the outlaws that defiled and corrupted the country from 1837 to 1857, when the unlawful combination was broken up and the members of the gang driven from the country. Many of the prominent and active members of the so-called Regulators have maintained a continuous residence in the county, where they have steadily grown in wealth, honor and influence, and while they regret the severity of the measures they employed to free themselves from the presence of dishonest and predatory characters, they believed then, as they believe now, that it was the only means of protecting their homes. We feel assured this chapter will be read with interest.
The passage of two years marked the pages of time after the first settlement on Sugar Creek before any records of a public nature, relating to what is now Cedar County, were made. From the date of the erection of Michigan territory, and the division of the “Forty Mile Strip” into two counties, Dubuque and Des Moines, by the Legislature of that Territory, until the organization of Cedar County, in 1838,
*Per contra, Mr. William Baker still insists that Enos Nyce was the “first settler” and that Col. Walton and his family did not come to the county until after July, 1836. …
. . . under act of the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature (which was set off from Michigan Territory in 1837), this district of country was subject to the jurisdiction of Dubuque County, and, as a matter of fact, many things of which the author has written were collected from the old records of that county by Hon. JOSEPH B. HALL, a gentleman of learning experience and judgment, and by him placed at our disposal. These records were invaluable aids in the compilation of these pages. With this single exception, the gentlemen entrusted with the duty of writing this history were forced to depend upon the memory and intelligence of the few surviving pioneer settlers for a large share of facts and information relating to immediate local events until after the organization of the county and the first meeting of the first Board of County Commissioners, at Rochester, on the 2d day of April, 1838. And it is a subject of regret, that, even after that date, many important records are lost from the county archives, so that, in some instances, it has been impossible to supply certain names, dates, etc., from written data.
For these reasons, it is not to be expected that this volume will be entirely accurate as to names, dates, etc., or that it will be so perfect as to be above and beyond criticism, for the book is yet to be written and printed that can justly claim the meed of perfection; but it is the publishers’ hope, at it is their belief, that it will be found measurably correct and generally accurate and reliable. Industrious and studied care has been exercised to make it a standard book of reference, as well as one of interest to the general reader. If in such a multiplicity of names, dates, etc., some errors are not detected, it will be strange, indeed.
To Hon. WILLIAM H. TUTHILL, for valuable MSS., data, and much time spent in revising the entire historical matter; to Messrs. LONGLEY and PEET, of the Advertiser, for the use of their well-kept files of the paper over which they preside with such signal ability, to M. R. JACKSON, the able and accomplished editor of the Conservative, for similar favors; T. C. PRESCOTT, Clerk of the District and Circuit Courts; MOREAU CARROLL, County Auditor; CHARLES W. HAWLEY, County Recorder, for access to the records of their several offices, as well as for services and assistance rendered in uncovering old and time-stained records; ALONZO SHAW, the efficient and obliging Postmaster; WILLIAM M. KNOTT, Esq. of Tipton; Col. HENRY HARDMAN, WILLIAM BAKER and GEORGE FRAIN, of Rochester; SEWALL GOWER, of Cass Township; EBENEZER A. GRAY, of Iowa Township; WASHINGTON A. RIGBY, of Stanwood; FRED. HECHT, WILLIAM N. HOEY, LEWIS and L. W. PHELPS , DR. COATES and S. S. CROCKER, of Clarence; JOHN SAFELY and JOHN FERGUSON, of Red Oak, for historical data of their respective neighborhoods; ROBERT J. DAVIDSON, of Fremont Township, for a history of the hurricanes; to E. E. EDWARDS, Esq. of Moscow, one of the earliest officials of the county, for missing links in county records; to MRS. CATHERINE FLEMING (now of Davenport), for thirty-five years a respected and highly esteemed business woman of Tipton, for sundry items of interest that could be obtained from no other source; the Ministers and official representatives of the several churches, and to the Superintendent, Principals and Teachers of the schools of the county, for statistical and other facts, this paragraph of acknowledgment is, therefore, respectfully dedicated. To these parties, and the interest they have shown for the undertaking, is due, in a great measure, whatever of merit may be ascribed to this offering.
To the press and people of the county in general, and to the citizens of Tipton in particular, our most grateful considerations are due for their universal kindness to our representatives and agents who were charged with the labor of collecting and arranging the information herein preserved to that posterity that will come in the not far distant by-and-by to fill the places of the fathers and mothers, so many of whose names and honorable biographies are to be found within the pages of this book.
In conclusion, the publishers express the sincere hope that, before another forty-two years will have passed, other and abler pens will have taken up and recorded the annalistic events that will follow after the close of this offering to the people of Cedar County, that the historical literature of the country may be fully preserved and maintained from County to Nation.
June, 1878 PUBLISHERS