A Quaker Settlement in Iowa Territory.
(From a late paper)
The following remarkable history of the settlement
of a town (Salem) in the far west by a Friend, is from a volume of
"Sketches of Iowa," by John B Newhall, recently published:
I think it was the summer or fall of 1834, that Aaron
Street,* the founder of Salem (Iowa) first crossed the Mississippi with the view
of selecting an eligible spot, combining the requisites of good health,
excellence of soil, &c., whither he might be instrumental in making a
"settlement" of Friends, and truly it may be said, his exertions and
labours have been crowned with signal success. The substance of the preceding
paragraph, the venerable old gentleman related to me this last summer, (1840,)
with my own version of style, however. Standing near his house, one pleasant
morning, he pointed out to me the little bunch of "thickets," or
grove, where they "camped" for the night nearly six years ago. It
seemed to be a pleasure for the old gentleman to refer to that eventful period,
and well do I recollect his animated expression, when he remarked," I got
up early next morning, and while ____ was getting breakfast, I went to look
about. I came to this very spot, and looking abroad on every hand, I said in my
soliloquy, this, surely, is the land. At that moment my determination was
fixed;" and then came a long detail of hardships and sacrifices incident to
the settlement of a new country.
Since that eventful period, he has had the gratification of
seeing settled around him, well toward 1000 of his peculiar sect. The
"Friends" have three meetings within a circuit of ten or fifteen
miles. Spending the Sabbath, "first day", there last summer, I
attended meeting in company with my venerable Friend; there were more than 300
in attendance, and it was estimated rather at less than over the usual number.
We had an excellent discourse, an "old-fashioned" Quaker sermon."
There too, were the venerable and devout old patriarchs, ranged along the
"high seats," some whose whitened locks told of three-score years; and
there, too, were the motherly-looking matrons, with plain caps and drab bonnets,
sitting in solemn silence, and devoutly waiting upon Him, whom they profess to
worship in spirit and in truth.
But this may be all "Greek" to the world, and as I
am writing for Jew and Gentile, I must leave the "Friends" at Salem;
yet, it is pleasant in this heartless world, to recur to scenes and events in
our pathway of life that call up the associations of childhood, like a green
spot in our memory's waste.
Salem is an incorporated town, and contains several stores,
one hotel, a post-office, lyceum, primary school, and a large Friends' meeting
house, there being no other religious denomination in the place; a blacksmith,
one wheel-wright, one saddler, several carpenters, and numerous other mechanical
branches, two physicians, and no lawyers. The surrounding country is very
beautiful, and its population is rapidly increasing.
* It is somewhat remarkable, that the father of the present Aaron Street
emigrated from Salem, New Jersey, to Salem, Ohio; from Ohio, father and son came
and built up Salem, Indiana; from Salem, Indiana, the subject of this article
came and built up Salem, Iowa. When the Street family shall cease to build up
Salems, is more than the writer can divine. It is probable, however, that some
future generations will find, in the curve of some beautiful bay, indenting the
shore of the vast Pacific, another Salem, reared up the posterity of Aaron