EARLY DAYS IN LAFAYETTE AND CLEAR CREEK TOWNSHIPS
By Nicholas Besser

As we recollect the conditions at the time

Not another settler came to Lafayette Township until 1852.  Then in 1853, nearly every section of good land was taken up and entered with Land Warrants, issued to the soldiers of the Mexican war.  These warrants had been bought from the soldiers had located with them.  The only soldier I knew of locating with a warrant was H. Rosecranz for his brother Wesley, who lived with his mother on the land, on part of which the town Harper was located.

The south-east part of Clear Creek and the east half of Richland Township had in the treaty with the Indians on October 2l, 1838 been attached to Washington County, then opened for settlement (in 1844).

This part, in the neighborhood surrounding where Talleyrand is now on the map, lived on Section 13 – 14, Mr. Jeffries, Stevens, H. S. Langford, Harris, G. Gray and Tim Henderson, on 24, Cochran, Craford, Joe Butler, Burnsides, Sturgeons; further east on 23-24 William Grimsley, Dr. Cramer, John Baker, Co. Surveyor, old man Thomas Henderson with his sons Jackson, Nick, John Henderson.  Nearer Paris, McFunkin, Nick Kincade, Dr. Northington nearly west of there Sam Singmaster came the same year we did.  Horning, Robert Alexander, Michael Horning near Skunk River were all whose names I can remember at present.

This part of the county had become a thrifty settlement.  The men had farmed in adjoining states, all had good horses, teams and some kept oxen, those were the prairie breakers. 

The year 1847 was called a good crop year.  Kramer brothers had bought a 4 horsepower chaffpiler threshing machine, started to thresh at Mr. Jeffries’, who lived nearest, then hired Jackson Henderson to run the outfit and myself to drive the 4 horses.  We did good work when not crowded too much and the wind favorable.  The grain having been well preserved in stacks, the grains wore plump and heavy.  The piled up grain looked fairly well.  One man stood behind the machine with a rake, raking off the chaff and straw, two others a little farther back to bunch the straw and throw it towards the stack, and one man to stack it, at most places, a rail pen built by the side of the threshed grain-the cracks stuffed with straw-was used as a temporary grainery.  Then the grain wou1d be thoroughly cleaned at leisure with fanning mill, the beat tramping out the grain with horses, with was a step towards perfection. 

We enjoyed this work among a set of jovial young folks, learning the ways and means of doing things and what was most interesting to me to learn to speak the English language, and to become acquainted.  Sometimes some one in the evenings would laugh at my pronunciation of 3, 30-33.  I would retaliate by getting them to say in German "acht" (8) or "acht und achtig" (88) which would generally prove as dismal a failure and create at least equally as much merriment, as my dree (3), dirty (30), and dirty dree (33).

Contributed by Kim Icenhower. Thank you Kim!

Reference: Kim Icenhower: "I am the great great granddaughter of Nicholas Besser.  My Grandmother, Irma (Striegel) Haag, the daughter of Mary (Besser) Striegel had copies of these stories, which were handed down to her children.  I was told they were factual accounts of his early life in Iowa."

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