Contact Us
Records :: Newspaper Articles
Home / Records / Newspaper Articles /

North English Record
North English, Iowa County, Iowa
Thursday, August 8, 1946

Article provided by Netha M. Meyer, transcribed by Stephen D. Williams

Iowa County Was First Settled
By Edward R. Ricord In 1842
His Daughter, Laura, Was
First Child Born In
New County In Nov-
ember, 1844.

(By Bertilla A. Hogendorn)

"It's an old, old story", would be the way A. M. (Bert) Stover of Marengo would modestly relate the natal history of his mother being Iowa County's first white child.
To go back to the beginning is likewise to go back to the beginning of Iowa county and his grandfather, Edward R. Ricord. To Ricord has been accorded the distinguished honor of being the first settler in Iowa county. True, others have laid claim to being the veritable first settler, but the following evidence substantiates according to the most reliable sources his right to the title.
First, he claimed that honor. Ricord's word was taken in preference to others chiefly because of where his claim lay. In 1837 the Indians relinquished 1,250,000 acres, which was the rest of Johnson and a very small portion in the southeast corner of Iowa county. The next line of settlement did not come until 1843. It is a fact attested to by various persons that there was some question as to Ricord's right to settle where he did, the Indians claiming that he was on their territory, and the government surveyors had to be called in to decide if he were a trespasser. If Ricord, whose claim was in the southeast corner of the county, was so close to the Indian boundary line, it is certain that there could have been no settler to the north and west of him. Of such small extent was that part of the county which lay east of the line at the time he came that had there been others to the east or south, they could not possibly have escaped his notice. Should anyone have settled north or west of him, they did it contrary to law and in defiance of the government dragoons who were very vigilant in preventing any inroads upon Indian territory. This many look as if undue importance has been attached to this matter, but the necessity of satisfactorily settling this disputed question can not be over estimated.
    Greene Twp. First Home Site
Ricord selected as a site for his home and the first settlement in the county a claim lying in section 3 and partly in section 4, township 78, range 9. Here in the grove of timber which skirted Old Man's creek first reverberated the sound of that mighty instrument of progress--the white man's ax. This sturdy pioneer was alone on the verge of civilization. To the west of him stretched mile upon mile of unbroken wilderness. In those first months he undoubtedly had many uneasy moments as these Indians who were loathe to leave their ground lingered for some time. They
were peaceably inclined but when intoxicated or enraged over some real or imagined wrong where apt to wreak vengeance upon any member of the white race within their reach. But no family history records that he had too much trouble with them and not too many months later ox wagons of the immigrants began treking [sic] across the plains and each driver was almost sure to halt and inquire from him about the country to the north and west. There in the work of felling trees, making rails, building fences and all work preparatory to the opening up of fields Ricord found enough to occupy his mind and employ his energies without being besieged with despondency or overcome with feelings and desperation that touched many of the first settlers and caused them to react desperately.
The first house in the county was built in one week's time by Ricord and two brothers, John and Samuel Wycoff, whom he had hired. It was a single story in height, of logs hewn down on the inside, puncheon floor and roof of split clapboard. Ricord then returned to Iowa City, where he bought five yoke of oxen, and a Virginia wagon and proceeded to Muscatine for his wife and two children. After buying provisions and some bedding they returned to their new home in Greene township (so called later for Greene of Revolutionary fame).
                First School
The first school in Greene township, as also the first in the county, was kept in Ricord's house and taught first in 1844 by Caroline Cole. The first house strictly for school purposes had Ricord as its contractor. The first election was held in the Ricord home but the place where the early settlers first assembled to transact business, hold political caucuses and vote was not the first home but the second dwelling of the family.
After living in the first place about a year the family became troubled with the ague and so he moved south of the stream and erected a house on an elevated site overlooking the valley of Old Man's creek. It was a double log cabin which was not what it implied: a house with walls consisting of double rows of logs, but two log cabins built so close together with gables facing and both under the same roof. Such a house when completed consisted of two rooms with an open court between.
              First Marriage
Other events of historical significance recorded in his neighborhood was the first death in the county, the wife of James McKray dying in the fall of 1842. The first marriage was that of William C. Carter to S. A. Tinkle on April 19, 1846. It was performed by justice of the peace Henry Starry who had to first learn the ceremony from Mrs. Ricord. This was the only official act he ever performed.
The great prairie fire touched the lives of a couple of their neighbors. the story goes thus: Mrs. Evan Evans had occasion to go to the home of her nearest neighbor, Mrs. Ricord, eight miles distant for some butter and other articles. The distance was too great to return the same day so she stayed overnight. The next day having received the articles she went after and a cat, a gift from Mrs. Ricord, met her husband as prearranged at the township line. Suddenly in the distance they beheld a prairie fire with the clouds of smoke rolling and each sweep of wind sending the tongues of fire leaping across the tops of the tall wild grass. Despite the fire Evans set to shelter them, the flames were upon them before he could boost his wife into a tree and follow her. Suffocated and half-crazed by the blistering heat, they clung to the tree until the fire passed. Both suffered sears they carried all their lives.
            First Child Born
Laura Ricord, the first white child born in Iowa county was born November 19, 1844. She was given all the educational advantages as she attended the state university at Iowa City upon completion of her elementary education. This highly cultured lady married Mathias Stover in 1866 and became the mother of six children, only one of whom survives. He is the aforementioned Bert Stover of Marengo. His father was a Civil War veteran having lost his arm during the siege of Vicksburg. He engaged in farming in Greene township after the war. Later he was elected county recorder three times and after that opened an abstract and real estate office. He was instrumental in organizing the Marengo Savings Bank and was in turn director, vice-president and president of that institution, proving a forceful factor in its affairs. He died in 1892.
Bert Stover continues in the real estate business begun by his father. His son, Peter Stover, is a resident of Cedar Rapids. (He is connected with the Iowa Electric company). Mrs. Laura Ricord Stover died in 1931, but etched vividly in her son's memory are some of her words and some recollections of familiar scenes in his boyhood trips to ancestral places in Greene township. Stover remembers the Ricord burying ground now located on a Hannon farm east of Holbrook. He speaks of witnessing the cleaning of a ninety foot well where after considerable effort had been expended a huge mirror was used to reflect the rays of the sun to the depths of the well to see what was being accomplished. In a tender moment he speaks lovingly of his mother often saying, "Yes, Iowa and I are about the same age. We grew up together."
Home / Records / Newspaper Articles /
Copyright © 2005 IAGenWeb. All rights reserved.return to top