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VOL. X. IOWA CITY, APRIL, 1872. No. 2.

From a Private Diary

     With little experience in the world outside of a New England college, as soon as I obtained my diploma to practice law, I started for the West, and, after traveling. several weeks, I stopped a short time in Knoxville, Illinois. December 3, 184O, I left Knoxville and took the stage for the West. About two o'clock in the afternoon for the first time in my life I saw the waters of the Mississippi. While our stage stopped at the hotel (in Oquawka), near the banks of this great watercourse, I walked to the water's edge and took a view of the great river, which at that time was full of floating ice, and presented a most sublime spectacle. After a short stop we proceeded down the eastern bank of this great stream to Burlington, and arrived opposite this young city about sundown, and at that time it presented to me a very pleasant and inviting appearance; for after riding all day over rough roads and through the cold air, I thought a good supper and warm bed were very desirable, and this place looked as if it might afford these comforts. I felt very anxious to get across the river, for all around the east bank was one dismal swamp, and only one small cabin near us to shelter the company from the bitter frosts; but, to my sad disappointment, the ferryman refused to take us over on any consideration, alleging as a reason, that we must cross in a small canoe, and, on account of the ice, it was very dangerous to be on the river after dark, all of which I afterwards learned was true, but at the time I felt much vexed at the ferryman, thinking his excuses were only for the purpose of making some money out of us by keeping us all night, and I felt like crossing the river, let the dangers be what they might. After using my best efforts to get the ferryman to take us over, to no effect, I yielded to my fate and made the best of my condition I could. I went to the log cabin and called for supper and lodging, which were promptly attended to, and our host did everything in his power to make the situation of his guests comfortable. The weather was extremely cold, and our hotel, which had just been built, was only chinked and daubed on two sides, while the other part of the house was open, with nothing to shelter the inmates from the inclemency of the weather, except the rough logs, which were far enough apart to afford an easy entrance to a good sized dog.      In this humble cabin there were about thirty souls, consisting of men, women, and children, who sought a night's repose. There was a large fireplace on the side of the cabin which was not chinked and daubed, in which was piled nearly half of a cord of wood, so that we had heat and cold from the same direction. Our good hostess soon prepared supper, but the dining table was not of sufficient size to accommodate all the guests at once, so we had to eat our supper by turns. Soon after supper was over I bespoke a bed, and our landlord allotted to a St. Louis gentleman and myself the best of the only three beds in the house. This was the first time I ever was in a promiscuous crowd of men, women, and children, strangers to one another, where all had to lodge in one room, and, although very tired, and desirous of repose for the night, I felt a little delicacy about retiring in presence of tile company, and delayed divesting myself of my wardrobe until others had set the example, when I soon found myself between the sheets. This was the first time I ever took a night's lodging in a log cabin, and I by no means felt satisfied with my surroundings; and if there ever was a homesick young man, who wished himself back on the rocky hills of New England, on that evening I was one. I went to bed but not to sleep; I lay a watchful observer of everything going on. After a little the women began to make up beds on the floor, by spreading down blankets, buffalo robes, etc.; and thus one after another camped down for a night's repose, haphazard, like so many pigs in a hog sty. When all was quiet, I sat up in my bed and took a survey of what was around me, and surely to me it was a novel sight. The floor was completely covered with sleepers, and though I felt as sad as death, I could but smile to myself at what I beheld. After satisfying my curiosity I lay down, and soon found myself dreaming.
     In the morning there was another laughable scene; some were clearing away the beds, some hunting for shoes or stockings, or some other article of clothing; the men were fretting, the women scolding, and the young ones squalling, and at the door of the cabin there was an old man, a mover, who had camped near by, making a big fuss about some one stealing from his wagon a jug of whisky. This was surely an interesting scene, and one long to be remembered. Our morning's hubbub was soon put to rights, and the ill humor manifested by men, women, and children subsided, so that peace and harmony once more reigned in our little circle. The good landlady of the house prepared a breakfast for us of fresh pork, potatoes, and bread,—the best that the house afforded,—and we partook of the sumptuous meal. Then I settled my bill at a reasonable charge, and my St. Louis companion and myself, with the ferryman, seated ourselves in a log canoe, and after about an hour's struggle through the floating cakes of ice, we landed on the Burlington side of the river, among entire strangers.
     After landing, I walked over the town, making close observations of everything I saw, and thought best to stop a short time at this place. I obtained boarding in the family of Levi Lloyd, and occupied a room with Mr. Avery, a member of the legislature, and Mr. Stuart, a Methodist preacher, both of whom treated me very kindly, and for whom I felt much respect. During my stay at Burlington some tragic scenes came to my knowledge, and I became acquainted with many noble, and some eccentric, characters. The first night I spent in Burlington, B., a saloon keeper, without any just provocation, shot young L., who died a few days thereafter. Gen. who was the presiding officer of one branch of the legislature, then in session, a noble looking man, and one who wore fine clothes, for several days before the close of the session abandoned his duties as a legislator, and spent his time about the saloons, refusing to be controlled by his friends, and was seen taking a nap in a bed prepared for swine.
     Being short of means, and having a poor prospect of immediately making anything at the law, and meeting with a chance to engage in a school near the town, I embraced the opportunity, and officiated in the office of pedagogue for about three months. During this time, though the teacher of others, I learned many interesting lessons myself; for during this time I had to board with the families of those who sent their children to school, which gave me an opportunity of becoming well acquainted with the manners and customs of' Iowa. The first place at which I boarded was with an old gentleman by the name of John Pierson, one of the first settlers of Iowa, with whom I contracted to keep the school. The old gentleman, by coming to the country when it was first settled, had succeeded in getting hold of large tracts of land near Burlington, which became very valuable,—so much so that it made him one of the wealthiest men in the county. The old gentleman's family consisted of himself and wife, two daughters, and four sons, the latter six of whom went to school to me. The old gentleman, though of a contentious and litigious disposition, almost always in law, was yet kind hearted, and if one tried to please him in his whims he was agreeable and accommodating. (He always took a great interest in my behalf:) During those three months I associated with all sorts of people, and met with all kinds of fare. At one place where I boarded the house only contained one room, and in one corner of it a flock of young poultry roosted, and not unfrequently there would be a half dozen young pigs running about the room, while occasionally a horse or cow would thrust its head into the door and give the signals it usually did when it wanted something to eat, all of which occasionally afforded very agreeable pastime, particularly when the dog was called upon to make them know their proper places. At another place where I boarded there were eight in the family, besides myself, and when there were four beds prepared for sleeping they took up nearly all the room there was in the house. But fortunately for me, they had a cot bedstead, with long legs, on which they prepared a very comfortable bed for my use, and while some of the family slept on the floor, I was exalted high over their heads in the air. This was a very kind family, and they showed me great respect, and the only fault I had to find with my lodgings was, that I had to get up at an earlier hour than I was accustomed to; for the family were early risers, and there could be nothing done about breakfast until the beds were cleared away, which caused me to abandon the downy pillow at a much earlier hour than I desired. While occupying this lofty bed I amused myself with many vain speculations, in thinking how exalted I was over those around me, and viewing the splendid mansion where I lodged. As it is apt to be the case that every rose in this life has its thorn, so in this situation I was much annoyed for there was in the family a lusty, big, fat boy, who occupied the bed beneath me, and as soon as Somnus seized upon his senses he would commence a snoring, which in sound was almost equal to the puffing of a steamboat, and by his snoring he frequently prevented me from enjoying my night's slumbers. But when he became too troublesome I would reach down and give him a tap on the side of the head; and in this I thought we were about equal, for if he disturbed my sleep by his snoring, I was sure to make his ears tingle with my hand.
     In a manner similar to this I spent my first winter in Iowa. My school continued until the commencement of the Spring term of court, during which time I had become pretty well acquainted with the customs of Iowa, and felt myself to be a very good "Hawkeye." When my school was finished I took a tour into the back country, and attended several courts, for the purpose of selecting a permanent location. I first went to Mt. Pleasant, in Henry county, where J. C. Hall gave me an opportunity to make an argument in a slander suit, and for the first time in my life I addressed a jury. In this effort I succeeded much beyond my expectations, and was highly complimented. The suit was against a miserly old man, who had used some very vulgar expressions to and about a widow woman. In my opening remarks I used the expression that I should think from the language he had used "that he had been bred among the hogs and educated by a jackass," which expression brought down the house with applause; and for an hour's speech I not only had the strictest attention of the jury, but of all the spectators; and what was more pleasing to me than all the rest, we recovered a verdict of six hundred dollars, and Hall (who was always very kind to young lawyers, and for favors to me I shall ever be grateful) volunteered to give me fifty dollars when the money was paid, but unfortunately for me the judge granted a new trial, on account of excessive damages, so that the only compensation I got for my services was a good name. After spending about two weeks at this place I left for the county seat of Washington county, a distance of about thirty miles. As there was no public conveyance, and having waited several days to get a private one without success, I undertook the journey on foot. I started in good spirits, thinking I would have a pleasant walk, but soon found there was not much pleasure to be derived from tramping through the mud. My feet soon became sore, and before I had walked many miles I would have been glad to be relieved from my undertaking; but as I had once started I resolved to perform the journey, and pursued my way with resolute spirits, hoping soon to get to my destination. When the sun was about an hour and a half high I entered upon the borders of a large prairie, where there was a log cabin, and everything had the appearance of being able to afford a comfortable night's lodging. I enquired the distance to Washington, and was told it was eight miles. I first cast my eye across the wide prairie and then to the lonely cabin, and was at a great loss in my own mind to know whether I had better pursue my journey or stop for the night. I finally concluded to go on, being told that I would come to another house in about four miles; I then started on my way, proposing to stop at the next house for the night. When I had travelled the four miles I found the house, but much to my disappointment it was tenantless, the occupants having apparently moved away that day. By this time the sun had hid himself behind the western horizon, the path I was to pursue was quite obscure, and the sky, about sunset, was overspread with clouds, so that I knew the moon and stars would render me no assistance in finding my way. My situation in this condition was any thing but pleasant; for I had either to take up my lodgings in the lonely cabin, without fire or supper, or pursue my journey, and I was so tired it seemed to me I could not walk another step. I again hesitated whether to stop in the cabin or pursue my journey with the hope of finding better accommodations. The thought of staying in the cabin without anything to eat or fire to warm myself was not very agreeable, so I concluded to push my way forward, and quickened my pace as much as I could, so as to get on my way as far as possible before daylight disappeared.
     I had not gone far before the clouds gathered into a storm, and it began to rain. It was so dark I could not see the beaten path, and it was with great difficulty that I could keep my way. This, to me, was not a very enviable condition to be in; and to add to the gloom of my situation, there was occasionally a vivid Hash of lightning, accompanied by loud rumbling thunder; and near me, apparently following in my track, were a large number of wolves, who kept up a most hideous howling, the first music of the kind I had ever heard, and a serenade I would very willingly have dispensed with. I had travelled seemingly a score of miles since dark, and was so weary I could hardly put one foot before the other, and had almost come to the conclusion that I would have to camp in the open prairie, when my eye caught the glimpse of a light in the distance. This inspired me with new life; I renewed my diligence, and after a walk of about a mile I found myself at the county seat of Washington county. As soon as I entered the little village I sought and found the only house of entertainment in the place. This house was built of logs, and contained only three rooms, and in this building was kept a grocery, a tailor's shop, a lawyer's office, and a tavern. I entered the department which was used for a reception room; there I found a fireplace in which were a few coals of fire, but there was no light in the room, except what was reflected from the fire; beside the fireplace there was sitting a young man, with a book in his hand, apparently in deep thought, as if meditating over some grave question. When I entered the room I asked him if he was the landlord, to which he answered me very indignantly in the negative, and at the same time informed me that he was a member of the bar. I apologized to him for my ill manners in under estimating his position, upon which he was kind enough to hunt me the landlord, from whom I secured lodgings, and called for supper. I was the only guest in the house, and received much attention; all hands were on the alert to prepare me a meal, and I give them the praise of doing for me the best their house afforded. I had not been in the room but a short time when a youngerly looking woman came in, who attracted my attention; she measured about six feet and a half from head to foot, and resembled, in her figure, a new moon,—large in the middle and tapering off at both ends, forming a section of a circle of no very large size. She in great haste drew out from the side of the room a large table, spread upon it a cloth, which, from appearances, was originally designed for the bed instead of the table, and arranged upon it a few dishes. I carefully watched every movement, and had my curiosity considerably excited by the manner in which my supper was being prepared. The next person who appeared was the landlady, who entered the room with a plate loaded with fried bacon. The appearance of the landlady was no less interesting than the girl whom I first saw. She was a woman of more than ordinary size, and in her figure directly opposite to the young lady; her head much resembled a brush heap, and from appearance one would naturally suppose she was not the owner of a comb, or for some time had been too busy to use it. She was in her stocking feet, and from the size of her understandings it was not to be supposed she had stunted the growth, of her feet by the use of Chinese shoes; and from her clothes it was not to be inferred that her mind had been occupied us much about her wardrobe as the most important affair of life.
     My meal was soon ready, which consisted of fried bacon, Irish potatoes, corn bread, and a cup of coffee, to which I sat down and ate a hearty supper. Soon after my supper was over the young lawyer and myself took a bed together for a night's repose; but owing to a noise which was kept up in the adjoining room, where whisky was sold, by some exhilarated persons discussing questions of theology, I felt but little inclined to sleep, and spent a good part of the night meditating over the past and contemplating the future.
     At this place I spent several days, and was solicited by many of the citizens to make it my home; but as soon as I had become sufficiently rested and recovered from the soreness of my previous walk, I started again on foot for the town of Fairfield, a distance of about twenty-five miles, and a journey which took the best part of two days to perform. There had been heavy rains, which had swollen the streams so that it was difficult to cross them. I came to Skunk river and found it out of its banks; there was a ferry established at this point, but on the north side of the river, opposite to where the ferry was kept, there was a slough, through which, in high water, a deep current passed, and this cut me off from access to the ferry, and I was told there was no chance to get to the place of crossing the main channel. The house where I got this information was the only one in the vicinity. This being the only place where I could stop, and the people not possessing a very inviting appearance, I determined to cross the river if possible. I went back to the river walked up along the bank of the slough until I discovered a tree which had been undermined by the current, and lodged against another tree on the opposite bank; I climbed up one and down the other, and thus safely got to the other side of the slough. I went down to where the ferry was kept but the ferryman, not supposing any one could get to the ferry, was not there, and I could not find any one to bring the boat over for me to cross the river. It had now got to be nearly sundown, and I began to think I was in a fair way to take up a night's lodging upon the island; I walked up and down the bank of the river, hallooing at the top of my voice, endeavoring to attract the attention of some one, but all in vain. At last I discovered a canoe, made out of a log, run up on the dry ground, and hid in a clump of brush; upon making this discovery I immediately pushed the canoe into the water and paddled across the river. I then pursued my journey to a place called Brighton, where there were three or four houses. My appearance at this place attracted much attention, for I think every living soul rushed to the doors or windows, and eagerly watched me until I had got far in the distance. At one of these houses were about a dozen flaxen-haired young ones who rushed from the house and advanced near to me, apparently very anxious to get a fair view of my person. I stopped a short distance south of this place, and staid all night with a Mr. Heart, who was keeping bachelor's hall, and a very worthy and agreeable man; from him I received a hearty welcome, and spent a very pleasant night. The next day I pursued my journey to Fairfield, and got there a few days before the sitting of the spring term of court.
     The first day I was at the place an old Indian with his family camped near the town, on his return from his winter's hunt somewhere in the settlement. The old man, with some of his family, came up to the town for the purpose of trading some peltries for provisions; while the Indians were endeavoring, to trade a man by the name of Powers took up a switch, and for some cause, l could not tell what, gave one of the young Indians several severe blows. Some of those present took up the matter in behalf of the Indians, others against them, and the result was a general row; but the old Indian, though apparently very angry at the mistreatment of his boy, acted with more discretion than the whites, for he quietly took his party and returned to his camp. On the following Sunday evening the town was full of lawyers, litigants, and witnesses, for the purpose of attending court the ensuing week. The court lasted nearly a week, and there were a large number of persons present every day, some for business purposes, and others to satisfy their curiosity.
     During the week there were several horse races, and more fights, one of which is noticeable. There was a horse race got up, in which, by betting or otherwise, a large number of persons became interested; and after the race was run a disagreement arose as to which horse won, and fond and boisterous words were used by the parties to one another. They retired to the grocery to try to settle the dispute, and harmonize the difficulty by the aid of whisky; but this, instead of soothing the angry passions, added fuel to the flames, and a general fight ensued. The grocery keeper, with the assistance of a few of his friends, turned the combatants out of doors, locked up his store, and secreted himself: As they came out of the door the foremost ones tumbled down and the others fell upon them and there were some eight or ten men squabbling together, clawing one another. One man, extricating himself from the engagement, sprang to his feet and drew a large bowie knife, and was about to stab one of the combatants, when another man struck his arm with a heavy cane and knocked the knife out of his hand. The excitement drew nearly everybody but the judge from the court house, and entirely suspended the business of the court, and there was a general rush from all parts of the town to the scene of action Prominent among the crowd, was to be seen an old man by the name of Elijah Chartian, who held the office of justice of the peace, and had seen his three score years and ten, commanding the peace. The fight was quelled without any serious injury to the combatants and the crowd dispersed.
     The lawyers returned to the court house and went on with their business. The court was engaged in trying a slander suit which had attracted much attention, and the court house soon became crowded with spectators; just as the court had got fairly engaged in business, and the attention of the crowd had been drawn to the proceedings of the trial, there was heard a stir in the back part of the house near the door; then there was noticed a giving way of the spectators, and the old justice approaching with a bowie knife in his hand. The old man had naturally a fierce visage, and his nerves were affected with age and disease so that his head was constantly in a tremulous motion, which, to a stranger, gave him the appearance of being angry. The old man slowly advanced, and the crowd continued to give way; a6 he moved along every eye was upon him, and not a word was spoken by any one. The whole house was in a breathless suspense, and every person seemed to be expecting that the old justice was about to vent his wrath upon some one, and half expecting that he might be the sought for victim. The old man made his way directly to the judge's bench, and ascended the steps; the judge (Charles Mason) eyed first the old man's fierce countenance, and then the knife, and quickly arose from his chair and stepped back.The justice raised up his arm, with the knife in his hand. The judge had retired to the back part of
the stand, and could not easily go farther; the color left his face, and he stood watching the old man as if every moment expecting a stab from the knife. At this critical period, the old justice broke the silence by exclaiming, "Judge, here is a knife I took from those fighters, and I thought I would bring it to you to take care of." The judge's countenance immediately changed from white to crimson, and the whole house from a breathless silence to a roar of laughter, at which the old justice seemed to be as much confused and surprised at this sudden change in the bearing of the judge and spectators as they had been at his conduct. The old man soon left the court room, and the judge went on with the business of the court.
     A few weeks after I came to Fairfield, Governor Chambers, who had recently come to the territory, went to the agency of the Sac and Fox Indians, to visit those Indians, and most of the male citizens of the place went up to the agency to witness the interview; when an incident happened which, being in a strange land, far from friends, made a deep impression upon my mind. Three Irishmen who, with a team, had been into the Indian territory (the boundary line of which was then within eight miles of Fairfield) to look at the country, on their way back camped within about two miles of the place (on the south side of the Cedar) for the night. One of the party started for the creek with the horses, to water them, while the other two remained at the wagon to kindle a fire and cook supper. The man with the horses not returning as soon as expected, the others went in search of him, but it had become dark, and they could not find their companion or the horses, and returned to the camp and gave up the search until morning. In the morning they traced the horses to the bank of the creek, and discovered them on the opposite side. Where the horses went into the creek the water was very deep, and they came to the conclusion that their companion had attempted to ride into the water, and was thrown from his horse and drowned. They immediately alarmed the neighborhood, and there was a general hunt for the missing man. They dragged the bottom of the creek with grappling hooks, and about the middle of the day fished up his body. The corpse was brought to town and deposited in the court house, for the purpose of holding a coroner's inquest on the body. It was a wet, drizzling day, such as was calculated to depress the feelings, and make one feel sad. The corpse was a horrid sight to behold. In the forehead there w as a deep gash, and the blood was running from the mouth, ears, and nose. At first it was thought there had been some foul play on the part of his companions; but, on examination of the body, there was found around it a belt containing a large amount of gold, and from this fact, and other testimony, the jury came to the conclusion that he attempted to ride into the creek to water his horses, and there being a steep bank and deep water, he was thrown off and came in contact with the horses' feet, and was first stunned and then drowned. The coroner's inquest lasted until late, and it was quite dark before the body was permitted to be moved. It had begun to decompose, and was very offensive, so much so that it was difficult to get any person to help perform the funeral ceremonies. The corpse was put in a rude coffin, without shifting the clothes, and then deposited in a wagon and taken to the burying ground. Myself and two other citizens of the place, through the rain, by the light of a lantern, performed the ceremony of depositing the remains of the stranger in the silent grave—no one being present except ourselves and his two traveling companions. There was no hoary-headed father to weep over the death of a beloved son, to whom he was looking for aid and support, when age had rendered him helpless and dependent; no mother to mourn the loss of a departed child; no brother or sister to mingle a sympathizing tear. But in the darkness and stillness of the night, in the drizzling rain, by the dim light of the lantern, by ourselves alone, we gently lowered the body down into its narrow abode, closing the earth over the rude coffin, and left the stranger to repose in the silent grave until the morning of the resurrection.
     This manner of a final disposal of a stranger, who, from his appearance, in the land of his birth, had friends and influence, much affected my spirits, and I retired to my lodgings with a sad heart.


     A person lost on the prairies is very apt to "swing around the circle." The tact has often been observed, but a satisfactory reason (to my mind, at least) has never been assigned. I admit that when a man's mind becomes bewildered or confused, he is not as apt to think correctly as in his calmer, reflective moments. But why should this be a reason why he should go wrong sooner than right, when they are both equally the subject of choice? This certainly is a curious manifestation of mental phenomena, and worthy of a more thorough investigation.
     I remember the first summer I was in Iowa, one night after I had gone to bed, a man knocked rather violently at my door. I asked, "Who is there?" He answered promptly, giving his name, and stating that he wanted to go home to his own house. After a few more remarks, I knew the man by his voice, and arose and admitted him to my log fire. He soon got warm and felt more comfortable, and then commenced telling me that he had been trying to find his house for a long time; "But I cannot see it," said he. "I am not far from home, am I?" He stood about six feet in his boots, had a light, greyish beard, and large, full, rolling eye. From the eyebrows to the summit of the head there was a grade of about forty-five degrees. The hair had dropped off of the top of his head, and lodged around the base of the tightly-stretched skin-covered cranium, and his countenance glowed with excitement. He was spare built, dressed in linsey-woolsey shirt, collar open, wamus tied in front with a big knot, and his understandings were partially covered with cowhide boots.
     "Why, neighbor," said I, "you are within half a mile of home."
     "Is that so ?" said he. "Why, I will go," starting out of the house in a hurried manner, "but you must come and show me the road."
     I went, and not only placed him on the road, but showed him his own light, brightly burning in his own window. He started off on a run, he was so desirous to get home. I returned to my house, covered up the fire, undressed, and retired to rest, but had not slept, when I heard a violent knocking at the door. I arose, unlocked the door, and admitted the stranger, when, lo and behold, there stood the same, identical man. I stirred up the fire, and he, while warming himself; told me that he had "tried his best to go home, but couldn't quite come it. I got against a fence, climbed that, got into a field, got out, went over a large piece of fresh breaking, went through a piece of woods, crossed a creek, and this is the same house, and you are the same man I was with some time ago. This is the fourth time to-night that I have been around on this rough, crooked, curious road."
     Now this man had been swinging around a circle, about three miles in extent. He had been
around four times, making twelve miles the poor man had traveled to find his house. After he was sufficiently warm, I went with him until within one hundred yards of his house. That time he reached home. I was afraid to let him go alone, for fear he might perish in the cold, while swinging around the circle the fifth time.
     I remember once of attempting to cross the prairie in a dense fog. There was a dim road, but as the fog was heavy and the grass tall and coarse, I soon 106t the track. I had only about five miles to go, but I went forward with such masterly activity that I spent five hours in making that distance. The road got plainer, and I expected every moment to get home—the road was getting better, for I made it myself, by swinging around a circle about one mile in diameter.
     Hunters often get cooped up in the curves of rivers. These peninsulas are often very narrow at the neck but extend many miles in the circuit. They are generally thick clothed with vegetation, and decorated with a wilderness of wild vines. Game secreted from human sight among the profusion of leaves, prevents the hunter from having a direct shot. As he goes around the verdant walls, while no breeze stirs the leaves so as to reveal the object of his search, his mind becomes bewildered, forgets the marks by which he entered the bend, loses his reckoning, and commences to "swing around the circle." I knew a man that went around for many hours. He seemed to be completely fenced in by water, and there seemed no way to get out. "And yet," said he, "I was walking on a well beaten path, which was each moment becoming more bright. At one point I had to take hold of a basswood limb with my right hand, while I carried my double-barreled shot-gun with my left, to prevent my stepping too close to the sandy bank of the river. On the last round I observed the mark of a boot heel in the soft, moist earth. I then thought other hunters were in the bottom, and decided to call to them for aid. I called aloud, but no answer came, save the echo, flashed back from the distant hills. I wandered on, coming to the same boot-mark for the fifth time. I took off my boot, fitted the heel to the impression, and then, for the first time in my life, the conviction flashed on my mind that I was making my own path, by swinging around the circle. I turned around, took the range of the sun's slanting beams, walked briskly forward, crossed the neck of the peninsula, was soon out on the open prairie, and was never again fenced up in such a place by rolling water."
     I saw a man in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, offer to bet twenty-five dollars that he would take any man into a twenty-five acre field, tie up his eyes, turn him; three timer, around in the center of the field, and then if the man taking the bet could touch the fence on either side, the twenty-five dollars were his; if not, he was to forfeit an equal sum. I saw a man take the bet on the above conditions. I went out, with a number of others, to see the curious experiment. The man was blindfolded near the center of the field, turned around three times, and then started; and he did not go ten steps straight forward until he commenced leaning to the left, and continued to do so until he made a complete circle. He went round and round, each time contracting the circle; until he came near the point from which he started. We had to roll or walk out of the way, or he would have tramped upon us. After nearly two hours' labor he gave up the bet, declaring that he could not reach the fence.
     I have often thought if I had another such an opportunity, I would insist on the subject being left alone until he came to the center of the circle, to see if he would stand still, or commence enlarging, as he had contracted, the circle— what phenomenon mind would make the visible body assume, after it had finished the business of swinging around the circle.


     The old settlers of Van Buren county recently effected a permanent organization, under the following constitution:—

     ARTICLE I. This society shall be called the "Pioneer Association of Van Buren county, Iowa."

     ART. II. All persons may become members of this association who settled in this county prior to the first day of January, 1842, and have remained here ever since, upon payment to the treasurer of fifty cents, and registering his name with the secretary of this association.

     ART. III. The wife, children, and descendants in the direct line, males and females, of pioneers, are honorary members of this association.

     ART. IV. The officers of this association shall be a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and one director in each township, all of whom shall constitute a board of control of the society, with power to fix the time and place of the annual meetings of the association, make by-laws, call special meetings, and generally to do such things as may be calculated to promote the objects of the association; and the first election of officers shall be made at the time of the adoption of this constitution, and thereafter at the regular annual meeting in each year.

     ART. V. Any five of the above officers shall constitute a quorum to transact business.

     ART. VI The secretary shall keep the records of the society in a book or books, to be provided therefor; the treasurer shall receive and pay out all moneys belonging to the society on the order of the president, countersigned by the secretary, and keep an account of the moneys received or so paid out.

     ART. VII. This constitution may be amended at any regular annual meeting of the association, by a vote of two-thirds of all the members present; or by a vote of the majority of the members present, if notice of the proposed amendment has been embodied in the call for the meeting.

     ART. VIII. That pioneer settlers residing in other counties of the state shall be honorary members of this association, and are cordially invited to participate and co-operate with this association in forwarding its objects.



     In the latter part of August, 1861, the guards again became eager for the war-path, and made a campaign to Sioux Falls, returning by the way of Spirit Lake, and again we were detailed on duty at home, and had to forego the pleasure of another memorable campaign, for which the guards were somewhat notorious—their campaigns resulting in but little pain to the enemy. We well remember the morning of their departure, as we stood in camp on the bluff in East Sioux City, and watched their military evolutions and grand display—a point in tactics in which our captain was not easily excelled. As they turned the point of the bluff, on their way out of the city, with drawn swords gleaming in the sunbeams, our gallant captain on his fiery war steed, that pranced, champed his bit, and pawed the earth, some rods in front, as if eager for the battle, our cup of admiration was full, and our mind reverted to the lines,—
     "—did you never train,
     And feel that swelling of the heart you ne'er can feel again."
     And as the Sioux City brass band, at the head of the company, piped forth sweet strains of music, we were forcibly reminded of the lines of the poet,—
     "Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast."
     This was a strategic movement on the part of our captain. As bullets had tailed to subdue the savage, he was determined to try the force of music. It was evident, from the movements of the company, that a brilliant charge was to be made. We watched their movements with interest, expecting to see the charge of the "Light Brigade" eclipsed. Judge Hubbard stood near by, observing their movements with seemingly much pleasure, when our generous captain, in a dry and husky voice, cried out, "Halt! front face!" The order was obeyed with alacrity, as the braves evidently were thirsting for a glorious charge on Seltzer's brewery, before which they were now drawn up in line of battle, when they charged upon sundry glasses of lager. After slacking their raging thirst, they soon disappeared up the valley of the Floyd—thirsting for the blood of their enemies, and each man feeling as though he could whip his weight in wild cats. When the judge witnessed the charge on the brewery, his countenance changed to that of scorn, as he said, "Confound them boys; this method of fighting Indians must be broken up."
     During this memorable campaign, a few casualties occurred to the company, some of which were from the warring elements, but none from the warring Indians. One night, while they were encamped a short distance from a bridge across a small stream, in a grove of timber, situated out on the prairie, there came up a terrible wind-storm, which caused a wonderful commotion among the tree-tops, wrenching the limbs therefrom and scattering them like straws upon the ground, many falling in the camp, and some large limbs passing directly through some of the tents where the soldiers were sleeping, doing no serious damage, however, to any one, save Jimmy Dormidy, a son of Erin, who was severely injured in his back and hip, which placed him on the sick list for several weeks after. When he was struck, his voice was heard above the howling storm, crying, " O, murther, boys I am killed! Carry me to the bridge; I'll be safe there." The storm soon subsided, when Jimmy was cared for, tents straightened up, and all sought repose again. Indeed, it was a miracle that more were not hurt.
    It was during this campaign that J. M. White, a member of the company and a practical joker, sought to test the pluck of the company. It was after the moon had sunk to rest, and the twinkling stars alone shed their spark, and all were in quiet repose, save the sentinels, who paced their weary rounds, when White quietly crept out by the guard unobserved, to where the horses were feeding, where he found some blocks of wood, from four to six feet in length, which he set up on end; then, quickly stealing back into camp, he approached the sentinel, and, in a low voice, said, " Do you see those Indians?" at the same time pointing to the blocks that he had set up, which were scarcely discernible; "they are after our horses." The sentinel stretched his neck, his eyes dilating to their fullest capacity, until they resembled two fried eggs. After he was convinced beyond a doubt that he could see Indians, he called out, in a trembling voice, "Who comes there?
    Who comes there?"
    Getting no response, his suspicions were now fully confirmed, and he fired. In a moment all was alarm and consternation in the camp. "Form! form!" was the order from the gallant captain. His braves were soon in battle array, when a charge (not so disastrous as at "Balaklava") was made—when, lo! it was not Mr. Lo, but Mr. Wood. White brought up the rear in this memorable charge, with side-splitting laughter.
    John Currier, one of the pioneer settlers of Sioux City, and one of the leading members of the bar of the northwest, was the first and only man to spill American blood during this eventful campaign. The premature discharge of his navy caused him a severe flesh wound in the thigh (if I mistake not), which was carefully dressed by Lieutenant Dr. Smith, a very skillful surgeon, who acted in the twofold capacity of surgeon and lieutenant. In a few days the 'squire resumed his duty in the ranks, and soon after he was honorably discharged, when he mounted the tripod as editor of the Sioux City Register, a democratic organ which had formerly been published by F. M. Zebaugh. Mr. a. displayed such ability as an editor as gave him additional notoriety. Soon after the return of the guards, an order was received from the war department to raise a company of cavalry for the frontier service in northwestern Iowa. Active steps were at once taken, and in a few days the company was full. Quite a number of the guards joined it, Governor Kirkwood having issued an order to muster out the guards as soon as the new company was ready to be mustered in.
    J. T. Copelan, a member of the guards, went to Spirit Lake, in Dickinson county, to raise some recruits for the new company, and on the 18th day of September started for Sioux City with thirty-five recruits. When about midway between Spirit Lake and Peterson, in Clay county, Copelan and a Mr. Kingman were riding some distance behind the main body (who were mostly in wagons, there not being more than half a dozen mounted men in the party, and but about three who were armed), when they observed a horseman some distance from them, on the prairie. Knowing that there was no settlement near, and supposing, from the peculiar appearance of the person, that it was, in all probability, a straggling Indian, they at once determined to ascertain. Putting spurs to their horses, they were soon near enough to confirm their suspicions, when they suddenly found themselves surrounded, or Dearly so, by a large party of Sioux warriors, who seemingly, like Macbeth's witches, "sprang up out of the earth" and were endeavoring to surround them and cut off their retreat, and, if possible, add two more scalps to their trophies of war. But their supposed victims quickly discerned their object, and, by a vigorous application of the spur, amid a shower of bullets, they made a safe retreat, but not without first emptying their revolvers at these vile miscreants of the prairie. They fell back toward the wagons, returning the fire of the savages the best they could, when the recruits in the wagons unhitched their horses, and, as many as could find horses to ride, came to their relief with such weapons as they were able to muster. The Indians, seeing the reinforcements, began to retreat. Copelan and Kingman now assumed the offensive, and, with their light cavalry, gave hot chase to the enemy, who were now making a precipitate retreat During the fight an Indian whom Copelan supposed, from his dress and general appearance, to be a chief, detached himself from the main body and retreated in a different direction. Mr. a. singled him out and gave chase. He was mounted on his favorite, large, bay horse, "Aleck," as fine an animal as there was in northwestern Iowa. "Aleck" was too fleet for the Indian pony—every leap he made brought his brave rider nearer the enemy. The Indian passed over a bluff out of sight, and as Copelan reached the top of the bluff he discovered the Indian sitting upon his horse, facing him, with his gun leveled, taking aim, and awaiting his arrival. Our hero at a glance discovered the dilemma in which he was so unexpectedly placed, and divining the Indian's intent, he threw himself forward on "Aleck's" neck, who had not yet slacked his pace, when the enemy's ball whistled harmlessly by. Copelan returned the fire with his revolver, but without effect. The chase was kept up for several miles, with occasional exchange of shots, when, chiefly for want of ammunition, the pursuit was abandoned. On their arrival at Sioux City, the guards were disbanded. They now were, like the army of Alexander or the guards of Napoleon, numbered among the things that once were. Their many memorable campaigns, strategic movements, and brilliant charges on Seltzer's brewery, gave them a notoriety and fame that thirsty heroes might well envy. No more was to be heard the clarion voice of our gallant captain, ringing forth those beautiful words that charted to the bottom of every soldier's heart—"Gentlemen, officers, and fellow-soldiers: I am proud to command such a company; " but this beautiful sentiment shall have an abiding place in the secret chambers of our heart until it shall cease to beat. In closing this brief sketch of the gallant guards, I will say, in all candor and justice to officers and soldiers. not a man of them ever faltered when duty called, and, so far as their courage was tested, they proved themselves as brave as Spartans. The new company now organized by the election of the following officers: A. J. Millard, captain; J. A. Sayers, first lieutenant; J. T. Copelan, second lieutenant; S. H. Cassady, orderly sergeant. They were soon mustered in and installed as "Uncle Samuel's boys," and were designated as the " Sioux City Cavalry," with headquarters at Sioux City. The company was stationed in squads, at different points—Sioux City, Cherokee, Peterson, and Spirit Lake being the principal places—for the protection of the settlers, who had been much annoyed by the depredations of the Indians.
    This additional guarantee of safety seemed to infuse new life into our frontier, and progress again resumed her onward march. At the October election of this year (1861), J. Pendleton (heretofore spoken of) was elected to the legislature by a handsome majority; N. Levering was, without opposition, elected county judge of Woodbury county, to succeed J. P. Allison; T. J. Stone, treasurer and recorder, as successor of C. E. Hedge; J. N. Field, clerk of the court, as successor of C. B. Rustin; and F. J. Lambert, sheriff; as successor of G. L. Tacket. The election over, excitement subsided, peace and quiet reigned until the following spring, when Mr. Lo again resumed the war path, and, despite the vigilance of the Sioux City Cavalry, he would occasionally steal in and commit some depredations.
    It was during this summer that the Sioux attacked some settlers on James river, in Dakota territory. The alarm spread as if upon the wings of the wind, swelling in atrocity as it went. Some of the timid settlers, not waiting to investigate the extent of the depredations, mounted their horses and fled—some to Yankton and some to Sioux City—spreading alarm and consternation among the people on their way, by reporting a large body of Indians advancing upon them, and laying waste all before them. This created such alarm that many made a precipitate flight, leaving all behind, and thinking only of dear life. Some ladies leaped from their beds, and, without stopping to dress, rushed out in their night clothes to the open prairie, where they wandered for a day or two, without food or shelter, before they found their way to a settlement. The greatest consternation prevailed. Those who fled to Yankton hastily entrenched themselves by throwing up temporary breastworks and making such other means of defense as circumstances would permit. Many fled to Sioux City, and some, not deeming it safe to stop there, went on eastward, and perhaps are yet running.
    The excitement in Sioux City ran high. Many of the citizens packed their trunks, and were ready to leave at one aide of the city as the Indians should enter the other. The greatest confusion prevailed, and a general stampede seemed inevitable. On Saturday a meeting of the citizens was called at Cassady's hall, for the purpose of devising ways and means for the protection of the city against the invading foe, who were hourly expected by many. The hall was crowded to overflowing. Judge P. Bliss, of the United States Court of Dakota territory, was called to the chair, and the other necessary officers were chosen. Various plans and suggestions were discussed for the preservation of the citizens and safety of the town. One suggested that a huge raft be constructed, on which should be placed the women and children and sent down the river, and the men remain and fight it out; another proposed that a block house be built on the top of Prospect Hill and one on the point of the bluff in East Sioux City, while some were for throwing up breast-works around the city, and others were for erecting a fort. Such was the confusion of ideas and notions, that one was reminded of the building of the tower of Babel. It was finally decided to appoint a committee, whose duty it should be to devise some means of defense and take charge of the construction of the same. We do not now remember the names of but two of that committee—Dr. W. R. Smith and N. C. Hudson. They met, canvassed the grave situation hastily, not having much time to digest plans amid the whirl of excitement, and they decided to erect a fort. The site selected was, as neat as I can now remember, at the corner of Third and Nebraska streets, near the river. About three acres was to be inclosed by a ditch four feet wide at the top, two feet at the bottom, and four feet deep, and on the embankment thrown up was to be placed posts eight feet long and eight inches wide, and boarded up on each side with inch boards, and filled between with dirt, beat down firmly. Block houses were to be built at the corners, so as to rake the ditches. This was the plan agreed upon, and every able-bodied man in the city was notified to be on the ground next morning (Sabbath), armed with the necessary tools to complete the work. Sunday morning came, and with it came the citizens, armed with all the requisite tools, shovels, spades, axes, &c. A certain number of feet were assigned to each man to dig. Spades and shovels were plied freely to the bosom of Mother Earth, and an embankment began to loom up, while the block houses soon towered up, as if to bid defiance to an invading foe. The city fathers assembled early on Sunday morning for deliberation, and voted an appropriation of $300 for the defense of the city. All worked with a will; jokes were freely cracked as the work went bravely on. A wag suggested that a ditch be extended to the river and let in the water around the fort, and then place on it a line of gunboats. The men worked bravely on that day; the next day the interest in the work of defense had very much abated, there being but few laborers; and on the third day there was an entire abatement, no one putting in an appearance, and the work not more than half completed—showing that another stampede was necessary to complete it. Mr. Lo did not call around for our scalps, and the frowning walls of our fort stood there, a monument of a big scare. The writer of this sketch afterwards sold out the fort, by order of the city council.
    It was soon ascertained that the alarm was false, and the settlers began to return and resume their occupations. In November of that year (1862) Governor Kirkwood ordered a border brigade to be raised, consisting of two or more companies, two of which were to be stationed at Correctionville, on the Little Sioux river, and at Estherville, on the Des Moines river. J. M. White, of the "Frontier Guard" notoriety, at once raised a company in Woodbury and Monona counties, of which he was chosen captain; C. B. Rustin, first lieutenant;—. Atkins (of Monona county), second lieutenant; and Dr. Griffin, orderly sergeant. A Capt. Ingram (if I mistake not), of Polk county, raised a company. Ingersoll, of Des Moines, was appointed colonel by the governor, and Lieut. J. M. Sawyers, of the Sioux City Cavalry, lieutenant colonel, who took command of what was designated as the ''Northern Border Brigade." Capt. White was stationed with headquarters at Correctionville, where a fort was built and called Fort White, in honor of the commander. Capt. White had command of the posts at Cherokee, in Cherokee county, and Peterson, in Clay county, at which points block houses were built. Capt. Ingram was stationed with headquarters at Estherville, where a very neat and substantial fort was built. He commanded the post at Spirit Lake, where a portion of his company was stationed, occupying the two-story brick court house, which was surrounded with pickets, as their quarters, and which had been built by the Sioux City Cavalry, prior to the organization of the Border Brigade.
    In September of this year the writer of this sketch was commissioned, by Governor Kirkwood, a commissioner to take the vote of all the troops in Northwestern Iowa at the October election. I will here relate a little incident that occurred while visiting the different posts in the line of our duty. I had not proceeded far on my way when I was overhauled by the mail carrier from Sioux City to Spirit Lake, on his way to the latter place with the United States mail.
    "Hello!" he said, as he drove up; "where are you going? "
    "To Spirit Lake and intermediate points," I replied.
    "Good," said he. " I would like your company, as it is long and lonely road; and, besides, there is danger of them cussed Indians taking a fellow's scalp," he added.
    "All right," I said; "I'll accompany you."
    He was a jolly old tar, who had for many long years been tossed on the high seas, and whose blooming proboscis indicated that much of the " critter " had been tossed beneath it. I observed a ten- gallon keg in his buggy.
    "What is that ? " I asked.
    "The devil caged," he answered.
    "Correct; but look out that he doesn't give yon the slip before you get through," I added.
     "You see," said he, " there is to be an election at the Lake in a few days, and old Thomas, the landlord there, wants this whisky for the occasion."
    As we were thus talking, A. Paine and one or two others, members of the Sioux City Cavalry, drove up. They were on their way to Peterson with a mule team, loaded with rations for that post. Old Tar now pulled up, and drew out a two-gallon jug from under his buggy seat and dexterously brought the mouth of the jug in contact with his own; after which he passed it to Paine, saying, "Here, boys, take a snort." They all "snorted," soon after which they became very communicative, and evinced much friendship for Old Tar. We had not gone far when Paine said:—
    "Old Tar, s'pose you put your keg in my wagon, and I will get in and ride with you."
    "All right," said Old Tar.
    After the exchange, a lively drive was made, and we arrived at Cherokee just at night, where we stopped for supper. Supper over, I admonished Old Tar, who was now about "three sheets in the wind," that we should be off.
    "Come, boys, let's spread sail and scud out," said Old Tar.
    Paine and his comrades, who were by this time feeling overjoyful, said:—
    "Drive on, old cuss; we'll come when we are ready."
    Leaving the boys in their revelry, we drove on. We had gone two or three miles, when Old Tar began to think of his whisky that he had left behind, and stopped to listen for their coming.
Again he started and again he stopped, declaring that he would go no farther until they came up. After waiting some minutes, we heard the rattle of the wagon and the Bacchanalian shouts and songs of the boys rolling out across the broad prairie. On they came, under the whip and on the jump. As they came up, Old Tar hailed them, but it was of no use. On they flew, making the prairie ring with their songs. Old Tar jumped into his buggy and followed as fast as his bony horse could carry him, but it was of no use, for he was soon left to snuff his rot-gut afar off. We arrived at Peterson about twelve o'clock that night. Old Tar drove up to Paine's wagon, which stood a short distance from the soldiers' quarters, and made a hasty search for this keg, which was nowhere to be found. Paine (who had just received a kick on his leg by a mule, which disabled him and placed him on the sick list for several weeks) came hobbling by.
   "Where is my whisky?" shouted Old Tar in an excited manner.
    "I don't know," said Paine. "You see," he added, "as we came down the bluff on t'other side of the river, the mules got to kicking like the d—1, and I s'pose it must have rolled out, as I could not hold them."
    Off ran Old Tar to the barracks, with his suspicions now doubly aroused. He made a hurried and eager search, inquiring of what few soldiers were yet up, but without success. He finally bethought himself of the two-gallon jug in his buggy, and rushed back like a quarter-horse, and found that his jug had followed the keg. This was more than his poor, whisky-scorched soul could stand. A terrible drouth was now inevitable, and he groaned in the spirits, he raved, he cursed, he swore, until a late hour in the morning, when he yielded to the entreaties of Morpheus, and retired to his dreamy couch.
    At the peep of day he was up and renewed his search, with no better success, and without awakening the sympathy of any one in his behalf: I mounted my horse and rode on, leaving Old Tar making a vigorous search for his lost spirits. I had gone about two miles, when I heard some one calling out "Stop! stop!" On looking around, I saw Old Tar coming as if his Satanic majesty was driving him. I halted, when he came up, plying the gad vigorously to the bony frame of his horse. In an excited manner. and with eyes protruding like two knots on a log, he said:—
     "I found my whisky—them cusses stole it! You see," he continued, "just as I was starting, they invited me to drink with them, and, as I was as dry as a mackerel, I couldn't refuse; and just as soon as I tasted it I knew it was my whisky."
    I could not express any sympathy for him, as I never had any for the traffic.
    On my return, the boys at Peterson were very communicative upon the subject, and wished to know when Old Tar would pass that way again with liquor, as they were getting dry again. They had secreted the whisky in a patch of weeds near the barracks, and when Old Tar had retired to rest they brought it into camp and apportioned it out—filling each man's canteen, and then hid the keg and jug in a manger of one of their stables, covering it over with hay. This was the last time that any one attempted to carry intoxicating liquors in quantity along that line of military posts while soldiers were stationed there.


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