Henry County, IAGenWeb

 A QUAKER SETTLEMENT IN IOWA TERRITORY

 

The Friend
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
May 1841

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.
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* 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 Street.

 

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