Fremont County, Iowa

Stories of Pioneers
by Harry Wilkins
View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
September 7, 2015

Below are excerpts from Hamburg Reporter, July 2, 1941, No. 42.

"The first permanent settler, in what is now Fremont County, Iowa, was reported as Major Stephen Cooper, who resided a short distance southwest of Sidney, and was here under permit of the government to farm for the Pottawattamie Indians. He came in 1836."

"Records show that the French Village had been settled earlier, in the 1830s, by French mountain men and fur trappers, but because they had Native American wives, they were not considered “white men.” The French Village was a trapping, and trading post, across the river east from where Hamburg is now."

Two settlements sprung up in 1840, one at Pleasant Grove, by A.J. Singleton, and the other by C. W. McKissick at McKissick's Grove. At that time the new settlers received their mail and purchased their supplies at Fillmore, Andrews County, Missouri. It was not until December 25, 1840, that the settlers learned of the election of Harrison.

Editor’s note: A number of the Mormon Battalion soldiers, who came through Fremont County on the Bluff Road, in 1846, on the way to San Diego and the Mexican War, were granted land by the government for their service. They decided to settle in McKissick’s Grove as well as Thurman, Iowa.

In 1842, Major Cooper represented Holt county, Missouri, in the state legislature at Jefferson City, and he was from this county. At that time, the Missouri line was just a mile and a half south of Sidney. Later the county was divided, first being called Adams and later Atchison, and when the boundary between the states was finally settled, became Fremont County, Iowa.

In 1843, Dr. Richard Buckham organized the Reformed church in Pleasant Grove, and while not the first in the county, was possibly the second. This family was another of the early settlers. The school for the new community was established, on what is now the Fred L. Johnson farm, south of the Scott homestead. The building was of logs, with puncheon floor, split logs for seats and benches and all the furniture made of native lumber. The teacher was a man, as was usually the case in the early days. In the winter, the older boys attended school so when school boards hired a teacher, they looked first at his size, questioned him as to his ability to keep order, and as an afterthought checked on his knowledge of the three R's.

Time marches on, but the history of the early days is easily lost, largely because the folks then were making history, settling an new country and working long and hard to wrest a living from the prairie and forest. While a few had the vision to write records, there is so much of unwritten history which would be of much value today.

PostScript: The last sentence from the newspaper article also identifies the mission of the Fremont County Historical Society. Our extensive collection of articles, family histories and any other information we can obtain is dedicated to carefully preserving our history while being as correct as possible.

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