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Iowa History

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Iowa Families:

The Myths and Legends


~ 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.


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