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Cherokee County Biographies

Lewis Heaton

From Lewis Heaton II:
When the Heatons came to Iowa, they traveled by team and wagon. They started late in the fall. By the time they reached Iowa, the streams were frozen over, making it easier to cross on the ice instead of fording. When they started over the Wapsipinicon River where Toronto, Iowa now is, one of the wagons broke through the ice. Not only was that wagon lost, but the team as well. A young colt was loose and tagging alongside. The eldest son, Edward, grabbed hold of the colt's tail as it swam to shore.

The family settled in Elberon, where they built a small house. With such a large family, several had to sleep in the same room, with only a portable screen between them.

From Estelle Peck Heaton:
I have been asked by a friend to tell of my first school teaching in Cherokee County, Iowa. Lewis Heaton II, to whom I was engaged, came west from Tama County, Iowa (Elberon). He had purchased a quarter section of land from a railroad company the year before. I was teaching in Tama County at the time he came west. When my school was out, I visited my parents in Perry, Iowa for a few days. Then my younger sister, Alice, came with me to Cherokee, Iowa, the county seat. Our cousin and wife met us at the station and took us to their home for the night. This was on May 22, 1882. The next afternoon, Lewis came from his farm in a wagon, driving a young team he had brought from Tama County. The drive from the farm to Cherokee was 18 miles. That afternoon, we went to the courthouse for a marriage license. That evening, we were married in the home of my cousin, May 3, and spent the night there. Next morning, we shopped for a cook stove and other things needed for housekeeping. Then we started out for our farm, which was prairie sod. Lewis had built a house and barn before I came. After we were settled in our small house, a kitchen and two bedrooms, Lew began breaking sod. He planted corn in the breaking and the rest of the breaking was disked and seeded to flax.

During the season along towards fall, I went to Cherokee to take examination for a certificate to teach. Later, a director came from Grand Meadow Township, center school of township, a new one-room schoolhouse. He wanted me to teach there the winter term of 1882 and 1883. That was 3 1/2 miles south of where we were living. An uncle of Lew's had come from Illinois and would be in our home during the winter. So I signed up to teach a 4 month term and to board at the director's home, which was 1 1/2 miles from the schoolhouse. He, Mr. Delziel, had two boys to attend school, almost grown. I did not often have to walk, as he took us. Had 14 pupils from first to eighth grades. In those days, we could read the Bible and have prayer for opening exercise each morning. Now in these days of consolidated schools, that is barred and has been for years. This now is 1951.

When school began the first Monday in December, Lew took me down and returned home. Children came, all on time. After ringing my bell and having opening exercise, I gave to each pupil their first lessons in books they brought themselves. Books were not furnished by the county. At recess and after lunch, I would go out and play with the children. When a stormy day came, we would play in the entry Blind Man's Bluff. One to be blindfolded - first one caught to tell who it was, if right, then that one to be blindfolded.

One day, a blizzard came. The school closed early, as they came for the children. Sometimes, a blizzard would last for three days. That meant there would be no school until it was over. Then we could walk to school and over drifts, but when Friday night came, Lew could not make the trip to get me. To remain in the home where I was boarding was all I could do. I wondered how the boys would get along for eats, as I was always baking bread and cookies and other foods, sometimes conrmeal mush that they could fry. Well, another week of school went by. When Friday night came and school closed, there had been no one going over the road north, so back to my boarding place. Saturday morning came and Lew came for me on horseback, leading one for me to ride. I was very busy the rest of that day. The boys helped with dishes, washing potatoes that I cooked, then they would warm them up. Monday morning, back to school the same way I had come home.

The weeks came and went when another blizzard came. Again, I couldn't get home. At the end of the next week, I swept the schoolroom, got coal in and kindling for Monday morning. I felt sure Lew would come for me, so I went north. Mrs. Delziel had a spy-glass, that was what she called it. With that, she was watching me. She said if I walked home, the wolves would be on my tracks after dark. A mile north of the schoolhouse was a high hill, then a small one, then another high one. As I was on the little hill, Lew came down the north hill, driving a team hitched to a jumper. (A sled the boys had made.) I looked back and saw Wallace Delziel on horseback, leading another. His mother sent him after me. He went back home alone. I was glad to get home again and to prepare food for the boys for another week.

School was out the last of March. We had a program the last day. My salary was $25.00 a month, not much in this year 1951, but it was a big help to us almost 70 years ago. I have been a widow for 21 years. Have daughters living near. This ends my story. I am 90 years old.

Source:   A collection of memories obtained in approximately 1951 from members of the Lewis Heaton II family from the Grand Meadow area in Cherokee County. submitted by Laurie Ihry

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