| Until the year 1837 the Indians held undisputed possession of the territory now included in Keokuk County. The Indians who dwelt in this particular locality were the Sac and Fox tribe. They held unquestioned sway across the western boundry of the Black Hawk purchase, westwart to the Missouri river, and northward to the neutral territory which divided them from the Sioux. The eastern boundry was fifty miles this side of the Mississippi river and neutral ground, stretched east and west near where the Illinois Central railroad now extends. (This was in 1880). These Indians had no right to invade the territory ceded to the government at the time of the Black Hawk purchase, and it was certain death to be caught in the territory of the Sioux, and extremely hazardous to venture upon the neutral ground. Few if any white people in those days ventured as far west as this, and the country was comparatively unknown except as reports were brought to the frontier by roving bands of Indians intent on barter. In the main the Indians subsisted upon the wild animals then inhibiting this country. Occasional patches of Indian corn were cultivated, which furnished them scanty food during a portion of the year; but wild turkeys, pheasants, deer, fish and muskrats formed the chief articles of diet. This was prior to the year 1837. In this year a new treaty was made whereby the Indians ceced additional territory westward. This new territory ceded included a small portion of this county.
Nearly all of what is now Richland township and small portion of Clear Creek, Jackson and Lafayette were included in it. As soon as this treaty went into effect the whites rushed in and the Indians were compelled to retire further west.
It was in October, 1837, that the red man first parted with his title to certain lands now comprised in the limits of Keokuk Ckounty, and the white man first obtained the right to gain permanent foothold. By far the larger part of the county , however, remained in the hands of the Indians. It was not till October,1842,that the orgininal possessors of this soil parted with their right to occupy it, and turned their unwilling steps to the far off and unknown regions west of the Missouri. This last treaty was made at the govenrment agency, now Agency City, in Wappello County.
May 1, 1843 is the date that the whole of Keokuk county was thrown open to white setlement. The excitement which prevailed along the borders during the last days of the preceding April, and the great rush of people across the boundry line, which occurred at midngiht, furnished a chapter of amusing and thrilling incidents.
As a result of this peaceable arrangement and the earnest efforts of the govenment to carry out, to the letter, the provisions of the treaty, the early settlers of Keokuk county experienced none of the hardships which fell to the lot of early settlers in other parts of the county, where misunderstanding about the ownership of the soil gave rise to frightful massacres and bloddy wars. The Indians gave no serious difficulty, and seldom, if ever, distrubed the early settlers of this county when they had rightfully came into possession of it.
(This is from the 1880 History of Keokuk County book)