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A View From The Attic

Week of  02/23/2015

     Fremont County Historical Society

“The Beautiful Waubonsie Valley”
In His Own Words- Part One

BY E.A. Shirley

Editor’s Note- Our thanks to Jacob Shirley for giving the Historical Society papers about and written by E.A Shirley, who was Jacob’s great, great grandfather.  Mr. Shirley’s writings provide us a firsthand account about early Waubonsie and his family’s encounters with Indians.

E.A.  Shirley wrote the following in the early 1930s:

Why go south, east or west searching for beautiful valleys while we have here in Southwestern Iowa one of nature’s most beautiful spots.  Perhaps the writer of these lines may be a little jealous of this valley for it has been my home or adjoining my home for seventy-five years.  When I first visited this valley with my father on a squirrel hunt, I was but six years old.  White man had not laid his hands on it.  It was just as the creator had designed it.

Springs of sparkling cold water flowing from the hillside, wild flowers of every kind and color, every kind of song birds, and all kinds of wild fruits known in this climate, were just part of the abundance.  Wild turkeys, deer, wild cats, panther, lynx, and many species of smaller animals were everywhere.  When I was climbing over these gullies and moss covered logs after turkeys, deer and other animals had anyone told me that some future time there would be a hard surface road the entire length of the valley,  I would have notified the board of insanity and had him examined.  Do I think the ingenuity and progress of man has added any beauty to the valley?  No!  Others might see it differently.

If you visit this valley,  which I know you will,  coming from the east, go west until you come to the last deep cut through the hill.  Shut off the gas.  Coast down, down for a mile.  Come to  Horse Thief Gulch, then to Spring Creek.  Just immediately after you cross the creek you come to a spillway in the pavement.  Now stop .. for you are on Chief Waubonsie's grave.   Exactly in the middle of the road.  Today,  I am the only living witness to his burial.

If you visit this beautiful valley and really wish to get acquainted with it, you must get out of your car and go on foot.  Follow the springs to their source, see sparkling cold water gushing from the mountain above.   Pluck a bouquet of wild honeysuckles, but remember all the whole that this beautiful valley is not the beauty spot that it was seventy years ago.   I am willing to admit that the automobile and highway have been a wonderful improvement over the old system of travel.  They have made it possible for all of the people to visit many of nature’s beauty spots, which otherwise they never could see.   But it does not keep me from missing what is now gone.

Next Attic will be stories about the Indians and their activities in the 1800’s as witnessed by the Shirley family.