A Letter to John Ellingson
(Written Winter of 2015 for my Memoir Writing Class)
by Juliana Sandahl
Dear Cousin John,
As promised, I am writing up an account of our trip to Spirit Lake, Iowa to share with you. I am so happy that I e-mailed you several months before my sister, Sherien, and I left to ask you about our early ancestors who were pioneers in that area and if you thought it might be possible for us to actually find the property where they settled in the 1850's. I knew you had done extensive genealogy on the Doughty family. We are fortunate that the Doughtys were prolific writers through letters, memoirs and genealogy accounts. We are further indebted to you for transcribing numerous hand-written documents over the years and passing on the information to the descendents. And to think of the many hours you must have spent entering in all those documents into digital form staggers the mind.
I didn't realize at first how important it was, but the document you sent me of George Vesper Doughty's memoir was invaluable to us while we were in Spirit Lake. The account of his life from the time of his family's move from Maine to the western frontier of Missouri and Iowa in 1856 and his description of his formative years growing up in the Spirit Lake area in a pioneer family who were some of the first settlers of that area, gave us a tremendous insight into the early history of Spirit Lake.
I had already found through a computer search of the Bureau of Land Management the Land Grants that the Doughtys had secured in those early days. Conveniently, on the search engine, it is possible to get a description of each land grant. Between Philip and Mehitable and their three sons, William T., Jesse and Franklin, their family had over 500 acres of land at times. Most of these parcels were in adjoining sections.
My sister and I had a great interest in identifying this property. We went to the courthouse two different days, and with help of courthouse employees, found out how we could get more information. It was excellent that I had researched on-line because I could tell them dates and sections where our ancestors owned land. An employee took us down in the basement of the courthouse where all the original books are kept with the entries of the land transactions. After much difficulty she found the books where the land grants were first recorded. Our family's entries were in the very first book. With that information we were able to get a complete description. Also the courthouse had small maps where the sections are located. Making it even more interesting, we were able to talk them into printing us out a Google earth map of the current photo of the land in that area. After the second day the employees got to know us, and even though they were busy with their routine work, were nice enough to do this extra for us. We explained how we had come all the way from Oregon to find our ancestor's original land claims.
Comparing the two maps, my sister set out to overlay the sections onto the google earth map. It took some time to figure out just how big each section would be over the picture of the current land. We learned quite a bit about quarter sections and the descriptions of properties, such as the S ½ of the SE ¼ of a certain section. With all this new knowledge we spent a day walking some of the boundaries of not only Philip and Mehitable's property, but of their three sons' properties as well.
What was even more fascinating to us was that George Vesper Doughty's memoir included a detailed description of where their house sat on the property. After re-reading his memoir, my sister copied out the references to the property. We went back again to the property and by his descriptions, located exactly where their log cabin was in relation to the hill he mentioned–and exactly where the log cabin was built on a small mound.
Describing his parents property of 160 acres along the southern part of Center Grove, George wrote:
"Three forties ran east and west and joined one forty in the center on the south thus making a "T." A long hill rose on the west forty. It was round and smooth as if the mound builders might have made it for a large home. It was covered with beautiful verdure. Timber was all along the north part of the place and a little lake was a short distance south of where my family lived.
Ours was the biggest house around there. It was on the south edge of the woods. The long high hill extending north and south was about forty rods southwest of the house. Our log house was built on a billow of the rolling prairie midst a few scattering oak trees. Just back of the building was a grove of 300 acres of timber. Our view in front of the house was a gem-like lake of several acres. From the top of the hill three beautiful lakes could be seen. Beyond them rolling prairie as far as the eye could see. Sometimes I went to Center Lake a mile away."
On the property today, this description fits precisely to where the Dickinson County Conservation area has its Nature Center. Now on the billow that George described where his parents log house was built is a beautiful building, The Nature Center, where people are educated about the landscape of the Iowa Great Lakes area. And on the long hill there is a trail that we followed to the top. The Nature Center has an observation area there with benches. We looked out and saw the same view of the lakes that George described.
George said the long high hill looked like the mound builders might have made it, but in fact the naturalist at the park told me it is a kame, defined by Webster as "a steep-sided mound of sand and gravel deposited by a melting ice sheet." It is a distinctive landmark, so we are certain this is what George was describing.
Back at the Nature Center building, we were able to talk to Charles Vigdal who is the Dickinson County Naturalist and director of the center. He was very interested that our ancestors were the first settlers and pioneers on this property. I offered him a copy of George Vesper Doughty's memoir about growing up on this property which he was very glad to receive. He was interested in history and said it was a great addition to their archives.
On the second day that we visited the Nature Center we observed a busload of grade school children who were on a field trip. The staff at the center took them for a tour around the grounds and educated them on three types of ecosystems that can be observed there: tall grass prairie, wetlands, and bur oak savannahs. There are paths and trails throughout the park where people of all ages can come and enjoy the outdoors. In addition, the park includes a Butterfly House, a Rock Sculpture area, a Professional Disc Golf Course and a hundred-year old one-room schoolhouse. Throughout the year there are on-going educational programs, such as "Birding on the Greens" and "Tuesday Night Science."
My sister and I were delighted that our great-great-grandparent's former property was not just a wide swath of housing developments like most of the surrounding area, but instead had been set aside for a Nature Park where we could see the lay of the land. It's even extra special that it is preserved for local people to learn about the flora and fauna of the area with many recreational opportunities as well. Actually the Nature Center is part of the larger Kenue Park, 60 acres of land established in 1960, all of which is within the boundaries of our ancestral properties. It includes a picnic area with modern restroom facilities, a mowed nature jogging trail, a self-guided physical fitness course, the Westport township old schoolhouse used for pioneer classroom and natural history curriculum, a bike trail, restored wetland, restored prairie area, a trail system, the Nature Center, an Osprey Hatching site, Butterfly Gardens and Butterfly House and Nature Explorer Playgrounds.
In George's memoir he mentions that a schoolhouse was built on their property where he and a few neighbor children attended grade school not far from his house.
"When I was ten years old (1865), there was built on my father's place, with contribution of material and labor, a little log cabin where I attended school a few months each year until I was grown."
While it is not the historical schoolhouse that is on the property now, we found where the original log cabin schoolhouse was built. When my sister and I were in the courthouse looking up the property documents, we discovered that our great-great-grandparents sold a corner of their property to the school district. George wrote in his memoir that his parents donated the land for the schoolhouse which was true, but ten years later it was sold to the school district which coincides with the sale the rest of their land when they moved to Oregon. With the description of the property, we were able to locate the spot on the corner of 170th (also known as the County Home Rd.) & Hwy 71 where the school was located. On that corner there is now a bakery and coffee shop close to where the schoolhouse overlooked a small lake. George described being able to see his house from this spot, but now trees obstruct that view.
One of the sons, Jesse, had three quarter sections of land bordering the south quarter section his parent's property. One quarter section is now part of the middle section of the Brooks Golf Club, a golf course with 27 holes that includes a system of cooperation with the Audubon Sanctuary which protects wildlife and habitat. The other two quarter sections take in most all of the Spirit Lake Municipal Airport and a small subdivision by the airport called Summer Circle Park.
Another son, Franklin owned three quarter sections bordering his brother Jesse's property. It is now the lower part of Brooks Golf Club and continues south to Sanborn Ave. Franklin's property included the quarter section bordering the airport all the way to Hwy 71 along Sanborn Ave. If you look at a map of Okoboji our ancestors owned a good portion of that whole area–properties from 170th south to Sanborn.
When they first settled in that area in 1856 it was all called Spirit Lake. Later Spirit Lake township was to the north of them and their area was called Center Grove, and yet still later it became Okiboji township. This has been confusing for the genealogy records because when the children were born, their place of birth was recorded as Spirit Lake.
Another son, William owned three quarter sections of land about a mile and a half directly to the east of his parents. Traveling east on 170th where his parents lived and crossing Hwy 71, 170th becomes 41st because this is where the boundary of Spirit Lake is now. Two of his quarter sections were just as you crossed the old railroad tracks and runs south from 235th Ave. It is still in farmland even though it is in the city boundaries. His other quarter section is also directly east only on the other side of East Okoboji Lake. We drove over and checked out that land as well. It was difficult to find because there are so few streets on the other side of that lake. His quarter section bordered the lake and there are fine houses now there in a small development. We saw an older home that was demolished making way for a big new home. We do not know if William lived over there on lake frontage, but it is a beautiful piece of property.
We were fortunate to have good weather most all the days we were there. We spent one whole day walking some of the boundaries of all the properties, including our great-great- grandparents through the Nature Center and the Golf Disc Park up along the borders of corn fields to get to Jesse's where we looked over to see the airport. Then we drove around to the other side of the airport entrance and walked a ways, drove down Sanborn Ave. looking at Franklin's old land, now in fine homes and resorts and then on over to William's old property that is still in farmland. We finished up one day driving to the other side of East Okoboji Lake determined to find his old property bordering the lake. Finally after many miles of walking we were satisfied that we had located all our families' land they had own as pioneers in the Spirit Lake area.
My second goal for this trip was to find out if Spirit Lake had any history on our family in their museum from which I could glean more information about our family since they were very early pioneers and contributed much to the early settlement. Even before I went on this trip I found information about our family on-line from the first major history book written in 1902 about Spirit Lake, by R. A. Smith, History of Dickinson County, Dickinson, Iowa History.
I found in this book the following passage:
"The second building of importance built in the town of Spirit Lake was erected by Philip Doughty, during the summer of 1873. This was the largest and most imposing structure that had yet been attempted. It was sixty feet long, twenty-five feet wide and two stories high, with a basement full size of the building. The main building was finished off as a general store and occupied as such, first by Philip Doughty, then by J.A. Doughty (his son) and later by Palmer & Doughty. It was at this time known as the New York Store. Later still it came into possession of W.S. Beers. After his death it was occupied for several years by J.P. Calvin as the "Variety Store," and was at last moved away to make room for the Stevens Block. The basement was furnished and used for a time by E. P. Ring as a billiard room. It was afterwards fitted up and occupied as a residence, first by J. A. Doughty, and later by W.S. Beers. The upper story was for a time used as a public hall. It was afterwards rented to the Masons and used by them as a lodge room."
Also from the same history book, I learned about the schoolhouse built on our great-great grandparent's property:
"The first real schoolhouse in the county, built as such and never used for anything else, was the old log schoolhouse at Center Grove. While there was no money in the treasury and hardly any taxable property in the district, there were a liberal number of sturdy girls and boys very much in need of school privileges and school training, thus rendering some kind of a school building an imperative necessity. The first move towards securing one was made in the spring or summer of 1863. The first movers in the scheme were Philip Doughty, Samuel Rogers, Ludwig Lewis, C. H. Evans, W. B. Brown and M. J. Smith. It was built entirely by private donations, some furnishing logs, others lumber, and still others shingles. The windows were donated by Prescott. After the material was hauled together a "bee" was made, the body of the house rolled up, the roof put on, the windows put in and the floor laid, when it was ready for occupancy." (From chapter 24, 1902 History of Dickinson County, Iowa)
This is the schoolhouse George Vesper Doughty mentions in his memoir. Another notable entry in the R.A. Smith's history book is that one of Philip's sons, J.A. Doughty (Jesse) was listed as a trustee of the Spirit Lake Township when it was first incorporated in 1879. He later became the second mayor of Spirit Lake.
So my sister and I were anxious to go to the museum and see just what they might have on our family. The museum building is interesting because it is housed in the renovated historic Train Depot built in 1883 and was in use until 1972. It would have been from here that our great-great-grandparents and most of their family boarded the train on their journey to Oregon via California when they left Spirit Lake in the 1890's. We drove the short distance to Spirit Lake from our condo in Okoboji and were ready to settle in to a day's discovery at the museum. We located the Train Depot and pulled in and to our dismay there was a sign on the door that said the museum was closed—not just today but until next spring! Apparently many things close down in Spirit Lake after Labor Day and we were a few weeks late. Such is the case in many tourist towns. So instead we drove to the library and looked at old books including the R.A. Smith book that I had already read on-line. I did find some notable things at the library however. I was able to find old township maps from very early days that had the land divided into sections with the names of the people who owned each section. These weren't early enough to include our ancestors but I was able to have the librarian copy out the maps and it aided us in determining the property lines of our family.
That evening I felt there must be some way we could talk to someone to let us into the museum. I remembered a brochure I had picked up that the DAR of Spirit Lake made on historical landmarks. At the bottom of the brochure was the name of the DAR Regeant, and her e-mail address. Since I was a member of the DAR in Oregon, I thought maybe if I told a short version of our story about our interest in the area, she would be able to help me. So that night I composed an e-mail to Colleen Lemkuil, Reagent of the Ladies of the Lake DAR telling her that we had traveled all the way from Oregon to research our ancestors roots in Spirit Lake and were disheartened that the museum was closed. How delighted I was the next morning to find a return e-mail from her. She not only told me how to contact the museum but put in a good word for me to the museum director whom she knew personally. She also put me in contact with the local historian, Aubrey LaFoy and the historian of their DAR chapter, Maryanna Hubbard, who winters in Green Valley, AZ. I contacted all three of these nice people. The museum director arranged a time for us to meet at the museum and opened it up just for us one morning. The local historian arranged to come visit us in our condo even though he had a busy schedule. His newest book had just been released and he had a photo-op with the newspaper photographer before coming over to our place. Also Maryanna Hubbard gave me useful information and I have since visited with her on my return to Green Valley this winter.
The museum director, Cindy Schubert, showed us around. She couldn't remember that there was anything about our family in the museum. I told her it was probably because there had been no members of our family in the area since the 1890's. I told her about the 87-page memoir that was written by our ancestor, George Vesper Doughty, recounting his life as a pioneer in Spirit Lake and asked if she would be interested in having it for the museum. She was quite interested and I promised to send her a copy.
Then she told us that she did remember doing a display about a woman whose name was Evelyn Swearingen and she believed her maiden name was Doughty. I immediately recognized the name from my family history. She was a granddaughter of Philip and Mehitble, the daughter of their last child, Abel Lester Doughty and his wife, Hanna. I learned that they had remained in the Spirit Lake area throughout their lives, Abel Lester died in nearby Lake Park in 1927 and Hanna in nearby Esterville in 1931. Their daughter, Evelyn died at Spirit Lake in 1964, a resident of the Dickinson County Home.
Cindy Schubert, the Museum Director, had done a story about Evelyn because Evelyn was well-known in the area because of her doll collection. Although an invalid, she had collected hundreds, if not thousands of dolls over the years. In 1948 there was a story about her in the Spirit Lake Beacon newspaper that said she had collected dolls for over ten years through the international doll hobby club. Also friends would give her dolls to recondition even though she had the use of only one hand. Many visitors came to see her latest doll collection in 1948 when she received twenty dolls dressed in native costumes of the Holy Lands and India. These were donated to her from a friend who wanted to reduce her collection so that Evelyn could increase hers.
Cindy Schubert even had a photo of Evelyn with her doll collection and since I had never seen a photo of Evelyn I asked if she would make a copy for me. She didn't think it would copy well, but she reluctantly made one for me. I didn’t care about the quality since any copy is better than none at all.
John, do you remember the story of Evelyn that cousin, George Dewey Doughty gave in the verbal memoirs you recorded and transcribed? He was Evelyn's brother. I remembered that interview you did with him when he was nearly 87 years old and that is why I remembered Evelyn. Here is his version of what he remembered about his sister, Evelyn. I've summarized some of what he said.
He said he had an invalid sister named Evelyn. She married Virgil who was killed shortly after they were married when the Sheriff shot him through the heart over an altercation involving a slot machine that he thought was rigged. He stole it out of a drug store to get the money out of it. Evelyn's cousin, Reuel, who lived in Oregon wrote her many letters and told her he was going to will her equal shares of his estate when he died. She never received an inheritance although her brother, George (the writer of this memoir) tried to write to relatives after Reuel's death to find out about the inheritance.
In George's words:
"Evelyn was born in Rapid City. I don't know where she was married. I never met her husband. It broke us all sending her from one place to another but none of us regretted it because we were trying to help her if we could. Virgil must have met her some place when she made a trip to Iowa City, Rochester, Fort Dodge, whatever. Virgil wanted to marry her but she kept telling him, "No! No!" Yes, he would take care of her and so they were married. It wasn't too long before he was killed. I don't remember how long they were married. I don't think any of us ever saw him except mother who was there."
Also directly from his verbal memoir that you transcribed, here is what George actually said about the death of Evelyn's husband, Virgil:
"I don't know whether it was a Sunday or whether he had gotten off work but it was broad daylight. He was pouring it onto this druggist. He said, 'You got that slot-machine set so it won't pay anything. It's not only illegal to have it but you have set it where it never pays off.' I guess they had an argument from the hear-say. Virgil put his arm around the slot-machine and said, 'I'll just take it with me.' He went out to where his car was parked in front of the store and threw the machine in the front seat of the car. The druggist hollered, "Sheriff! Sheriff!' and soon the cop came. He told the cop that Virgil had stolen his machine.
Virgil said, "I never stole anything. Part of my money is in there and everybody in town has money in there. None of the money is yours. The machine is illegal to have.' The cop said, 'You get that machine and get it back.' And he said, 'You get it if you want to.' He knew the cop couldn't without a search warrant. Virgil said, 'I'll never take it back in there. I'll take my money out of it and for all the boys I know. Then I'll bring the damned thing back, but I'll never take it back now until I get my money first.' He walked around to the other side of the car. Now this is the way that Evelyn told me. The cop told him, 'You bring that back right now or I'm going to shoot you.' And he said, 'You'll have to shoot me because I'm not bringing it back.' The cop shot Virgil through the heart."
However, when I was at the Dickinson County Museum, the director, Cindy Schubert, had copied newspaper articles from the Spirit Lake Beacon newspaper about the details of Virgil's death. The following article is from Nov. 16, 1933.
Front page headline:
"Jackson county Man Shot by Lake Park town Marshall, Virgil Swearingen, 31, Married, Now in Spirit Lake Hospital Suffering From Gunshot Wounds Which May Yet Prove Fatal–Resisted Officers. Had robbed three Lake Park business places and started fight with Marshall when he appeared on scene."
Virgil Swearingen, 31 son of T.A. Swearingen, of just over the line in Jackson County, north of Triboji Beach, is in the Spirit Lake hospital suffering from gunshot wounds which may prove fatal as the climax of a series of robberies in Lake Park Sunday night. Swearingen was shot through the back and side by Night Marshall Bill Schwarzenbach, when he attempted to make his get-away after a fight with the Marshall. The shooting occurred just before midnight Sunday night.
According to the story, M. Olmstead, Lake Park baker, heard someone break a glass in the rear of the Garm s restaurant, and later saw Swearingen go out of the front door with a slot machine. He telephoned for the Marshall. As Schwarzenback arrived on the scene a car came around the corner and drew up along the curb. As Schwarzenbach stepped out to address the occupant Swearingen jumped out and took a swipe at him. The two men mixed and fell. Olmstead, who saw the two men wrestling in the street, went to the officer's aid with an unloaded shotgun and commanded Swearingen to put up his hands or he would shoot. Swearingen responded by taking the gun from Olmstead. At this junction Schwaarzenbach attempted to floor Swearingen with the butt of his gun but his blow went amiss and struck him in the mouth but without telling effect.
At that time, Meyer Moeller, of Milford, was passing through town and slowed his car almost to a stop to see what was gong on. Swearingen made for the Moeller car and forced the door open. The Marshall, believing the man to be escaping, fired a shot which struck him, which brought him down. Swearingen was rushed to the Spirit Lake hospital at once. Schwarzenbach was scratched and beaten but did not need hospital care. Moeller claims he had just taken a girl home.
Prior to entering the Garms cafe, Swearingen had entered and taken a slot machine from the Boyer pool hall and the John Blair cafe, which together with the Garms machine were found in his car, together with several guns. It is said a slot machine was taken from one of the places about a fortnight ago, the thief entering the same rear window and leaving footprints which tallied with Swearingen's footwear. Swearingen has been in trouble before having served time in both Iowa and Minnesota penitentiaries. He has a wife at his father's home. No charges have as yet been filed against Swearingen as his life has been despaired of and he is not yet out of danger. It is though he had some accomplice at Lake Park but he has refused to talk.&3#4; Virgil died the next day, November 17, 1933 and was buried in Silver Lake Cemetery.
These are certainly two different versions of the same story regarding the death of Evelyn&339;s husband, Virgil. But considering the time that had passed and perhaps what Evelyn and the family wanted to tell their relatives in South Dakota, it is understandable. I do like George Dewey&339;s story though!
I don't know what condition Evelyn had that contributed to her being an invalid, but she was bedridden for 38 years and died at the age of 57. One newspaper article said that she had tuberculosis. Apparently from the newspaper articles that followed, Evelyn was cared for by family members in Spirit Lake following her husband's death, but five months later there was a hearing of the Board of Supervisors in Dickinson County when Evelyn became a county charge. Because she had lived with her husband across the state line in Minnesota, she no longer was considered a resident of Spirit Lake and was denied application for relief under the poor laws of Iowa. Other articles in the paper gave accounts of various family members caring for her and various articles documenting her illnesses and hospital stays.
By Feb. 1939 the following article appeared in the Lake Park News:
"Friends here will be interested in knowing that Mrs Evelyn Swearingen is at the County Home and not much different than when she moved from here. Her right arm is useless but she can use her fingers to make stitches and her left hand pulls the needle through. She has made three small dresses for a niece, cutting them out and sewing them by hand."
What is very interesting to me is that the County Home was built on the property of her (and our) ancestor's land grant property. Philip and Mehitable were her grandparents. So she spent most of her life right on the old property. There are many articles in the Spirit Lake Beacon newspaper referring to Evelyn Swearingen which I will enclose. Despite making a very bad marriage in her early life, she seemed to be a delightful woman who had many friends and the people of Spirit Lake took good care of her after she once again gained residency. One article in 1963 was about Mr. and Mrs. Chalmer Smith who had been custodians of the County home for 35 years. The Smiths encouraged persons to visit with Evelyn Swearingen about the care she had been given over the years. In the newspaper article it said that at that time she had been bedridden for 27 years and had never experienced bed sores. Evelyn Swearingen died March 26, 1964 and is buried at Silver Lake Cemetery.
So our tour of the Dickinson County Museum gave us a lot of history on only one distant cousin, but was there any more we could glean while there? The museum director, Cindy Schubert, had just one other avenue for us to explore. She brought out old large books that held the records to the Lake View Cemetery in Spirit Lake. These were original entries of people who were buried there that provided quite a bit of information including cause of death, date of birth and death, Lot No., and who purchased the plot. We spent some time searching these records and found only a few of our relatives there. I copied the information and then my sister, Sherien, and I drove to the cemetery to pay our respects. We walked the entire older section of the cemetery looking for the tombstones and finally found them after a few hours walking up and down each row in the very warm sunshine. It was a nice day and we needed the exercise. It was interesting reading the names of pioneer families that we had come to know through studying some history of the area. We took time out to eat our lunch under the shade of a tree near where two Doughty children were buried.
It is very sad that the three Doughtys buried in Lake View are all children, two from one family and one from another, and both from our great grandmother&339;s brothers. Jesse Allen Doughty and his wife Esther (Rogers) had two children die within five days of each other from diphtheria. Their son Jesse Alfred, age 6 and their daughter, Esther Cornelia, age 4 in May of 1880. The plot was purchased by the father at that time and the only other tombstone there was Samuel R. Rogers who died at age 84 in 1884, the father of Esther. The two children are buried under the same tombstone and it is a tall slender tombstone that is quite substantial for those times.
The other equally sad story was the death of Harlan Doughty, age 14 months. As you know George Vesper Doughty and his wife Mary Eliza Cother lived in Oregon at that time. Perhaps you know the story of Mary Eliza traveling out to Oregon with family friends to visit George and that&339;s when Mary Eliza and George fell in love. They were married Feb. 2, 1887 and had a son, Harlan or Harley as he was called, born Dec. 6th of the same year. When Harley was 9 mo. old in September, Mary Eliza took the train to visit her family back in Spirit Lake for several months. While there, Harley, then 14 months old died of what the cemetery book listed as brain fever, but the newspaper said was measles---probably measles that developed into meningitis.
On Feb. 8, 1889 the Spirit Lake Beacon News reported:
Doughty – Death
In this township, Feb. 6th, of measles, only child of Mr. & Mrs. George Doughty, of Reedville, Oregon. This is a sad blow to a worthy family. The mother, whom our people remember as Miss Eliza Cother, came from Oregon with her babe a few weeks since. The father then saw his boy for the last time, for he was thousands of miles away when the dread messenger claimed the child of his own.
The Lake View cemetery plot was purchased by Esther (Underwood) Cother, mother of Eliza and grandmother of little Harley. Also buried in the family plot are other Cother family members including Eliza&339;s mother and father both of whom came from England and were pioneers in Iowa living near where our family did in the Center Grove area of Spirit Lake. How sad for Eliza to loose her first-born child while bringing him out to Spirit Lake to visit her family. Childhood diseases killed so many children back then. We are fortunate that vaccines have been developed for both of these diseases, measles and diphtheria that took the Doughty children in that cemetery.
Inscribed on the substantial tombstone is:
In the nearby town of Lake Park, there are several other Doughtys buried in the Silver Lake Cemetery. However, we did not go to that town which is 13 miles almost directly west of Spirit Lake. This is where Abel Lester and wife Emma lived for many years. Abel was the last child born to Philip and Mehitable and stayed in the area. He and his wife as well as their daughter Evelyn Swearingen who I've written about are buried in this cemetery.
On our last day in Spirit Lake we wanted to determine just where Philip had built his general store in town described as the largest and most imposing structure that had been attempted by the year of 1873. Also there was a reference that it was on what was known as the Stevens block. We talked to the librarian and determined that the Stevens block was the oldest block in town. She told us where it was and so we went and took photos of both sides of that block. Philip Doughty's building later became known as the New York Store. We looked at old photos in various books and in the museum but it wasn't until I bought the book of the "Spirit Lake Centennial" published in 1979, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the town, that I finally found a photo with the New York Store building. Although in the distance, and not too well in focus, it shows an interesting building with at least eight long high narrow windows across the bottom floor and across the top there are large letters, "New York Store" and underneath the lettering is an intricately designed window with a black design curving down on both sides to frame the window. It surely was a beautiful building. Although unlikely, it may still exist today because it had been moved from its original spot, but we had no idea of where to look.
Our week in Spirit Lake came to end. We had fun exploring the area being where our ancestors had first settled. We had accomplished what we had most wanted to do and that was to walk on the land that Philip and Mehitable Doughty, our great-great- grandparents, had pioneered in 1858. The area must be the most beautiful spot in Iowa because it is where people from a wide area of Minnesota and Iowa come to vacation. It is the largest natural lake in Iowa and along with East Okoboji Lake is part of a glacier-dug chain of lakes. It is named from the Dakota Sioux who called the lake "Minnewaukon&334; or Lake of the Spirit.
In the "History of the People of Iowa" by Cyrenus Cobe, he says that the meaning of Minnewaukon is "spirit water" and that it was named this by the Sioux because it was believed that the waters of the lake were never at rest because it was one of the places that the Great Spirit lived. He states, "For those who lived in a state of nature it was hardly less than an earthly paradise."
After returning from my trip, I sent George Vesper Doughty's pioneer memoir to several people in Spirit Lake. It was important that the people of that area know what he wrote about growing up there from 1858-1877. It is unfortunate that George did not publish his memoirs because the people of Spirit Lake are very interested in their pioneer history. The Doughty family's many contributions to settling that area have been almost forgotten except by the earliest history books and that's because few in the family stayed to tell their stories. Now George's memoir is at the Dickinson County Library, the Dickinson Museum, the Dickinson County Conservation Center and in hands of the local historian, Aubrey LaFoy.
I am happy to report that the DAR Regeant from the Ladies of the Lake, Colleen Lemkuil, asked me to become an Associate member of their chapter. She winters in Casa Grande, Arizona and invited me to a Christmas luncheon meeting with the Tucson Frontier Chapter Colonial Dames. It was really nice meeting her and her husband at that time. She wants me to visit Spirit Lake again next summer and give a presentation to their DAR Chapter about our family's history. I don't know if I'm up for that, but it felt good to be asked.
Also I met another member of their DAR Chapter from Spirit Lake. Maryanna Hubbard, their historian, lives in Green Valley in the winter and I met her for lunch in January of this year. She showed me one of their history books she put together documenting all the historical markers that their Chapter has provided for the Spirit Lake area history.
John, I'd really like to visit you in Spokane this coming summer. It would be fun to show you my scrapbook that I have put together from this trip. I need to go over more of the family letters you have sent me over the years because I know there is a lot more family history that I can learn from them. Now that I have delved into the Doughty history, it is all the more interesting reading those letters.
Please let me know how you are doing. Again, thank you for sharing the Doughty history with me,
Love from your cousin,