~ Hardy Pioneers ~
By Sharon Workman
The following is taken from an article written in August, 1961 by
Mabel Bauman, sister of Samuel Henry Bauman (my great grandfather). In this
account, Mabel describes herself as "the lone survivor of the Bauman family."
Mabel was the daughter of Elizabeth Cort and Frederick Christian Bauman. She
was born in 1879 and died June 24, 1963.
In the year of 1846, Daniel and Sarah Cort decided to leave
Adamsburg, PA and "go west." To many, this slogan meant gold, but this was not
their impelling motive. Theirs was to seek a home in the new territory.
Government lands were being offered at a low purchase price, and that gave
promise of opportunity for the welfare of this family. So, with a team of
horses and a wagon loaded with all their possessions, they boarded a riverboat
at Pittsburg, and via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, they finally landed at
Rock Island, Illinois. While waiting to have his horses shod, Daniel noticed a
young lad shaking violently. The blacksmith noticed and said, "Oh, that's
nothing. Lots of people around here have 'agee.' " This made clear to Daniel
Cort that a malarial infested region was not the place for him or his family.
Then he said, "I was told there were fresh water springs
somewhere in this territory." "Oh," was his answer, "You will find plenty of
springs on the other side of the river and a little farther north." So, with
horses and wagon, they came at last to Dubuque County, Iowa and settled where
they lived until his death in 1895 (Sarah Cort having died in 1894). The
springs which lured them to this place furnished an abundance of clear, cold
refreshing water - no ice cubes needed. The "springhouse," which he constructed
with stone platforms holding crocks of sweet milk and butter, with cold water
flowing all around, was a marvel of efficiency.
That first winter, only a cellar had been dug out of the hillside
with boards laid over the top to keep out the wintry blasts. My mother told me
the bed for the five little ones consisted of a large packing box, likewise
covered over with boards thru which snow sifted and coated the comforters
covering the children. At that time, wolves were often seen, and friendly
Indians came often, always begging for butter or lard, and with a special
longing for some of Sarah Cort's soap. This soap was produced by wood ashes in
a hopper, thru which water seeped - the lye thus produced dripped into a crock.
This lye mixed in proper proportions of grease and heated, furnished a soap
which brought linens to the clothesline snowy white - no detergents - no
chlorine bleaches. (Why do I tell this? I am sure none of my nieces will ever
be tempted to try this!) My grandmother had her own candle-dip and made her own
tallow candles. Life was primitive, but satisfying. Grandfather Cort donated
the land where Harmony Church and the adjoining cemetery are today.
The author of this article, Mabel Christina Bauman, was born July
12, 1879. Daniel and Sarah Cort were her grandparents; her mother was one of
the five children put to bed in the packing box. Mabel was the youngest of nine
children. When she wrote this article in 1961, she was 82 years old.