is always a matter of interest to trace the history of towns and
communities in their origin and subsequent development. Too often,
however, the beginnings of these histories are neglected till it is
too late ever to get at the facts necessary to a complete record of
events so desirable to be known.
The founding of the now important city
of Cedar Rapids dates back more than a half century, and yet only a
meager and imperfect account of those early times has ever been
The people who lived in those primitive
days and participated in its scenes have dwindled down to a very small
Having been a participator in those
scenes of long ago, and being able to recall somewhat vividly many
things that transpired at that period, I have been impelled, through
the urgency of friends, to attempt a record of a few things that
transpired when the foundations of this city and the community around
it were being laid.
There are several questions that
naturally suggests themselves to every inquiring mind with regard to
the settlers of any country, and more especially of a new country:
first is, who were they?
second, whence came they?
third, what led them to this particular place?
fourth, how did they come?
fifth, what and whom did they find when they arrived?
finally, what did they do after they reached their destination?
These questions it will be the purpose
of the writer to answer with respect to his own family, and at least a
part of them so far as he is able, with respect to other families that
will be mentioned in these pages.
In the very nature of the case I find it
impossible to write out these reminiscences without bringing into a
somewhat disproportionate prominence my own family. But I trust it
will be deemed a sufficient apology for this, when it is remembered
that the experiences of this one family are essentially those of many
others, and hence, the narrative here presented, will give the reader
a true picture of life as it then existed.
The Family History.
My father, Isaac Carroll, was
born in the county of Ontario, State of New York, December 1, 1777.
My grandfather was a native of the State of New Jersey, and his
father, I believe, was a native of Ireland.
In early manhood, I think it must have
been, my father, together with his father and several brothers,
emigrated to the town and country of Oxford, Canada West, or Upper
Canada, as it was then called.
My mother, whose maiden name was
Lovina Skeel, was born in the county of Rutland, State of Vermont,
October 20, 1791. Most of her early life was spent at Clarenden, now
known as Clarenden Springs, and somewhat noted watering place.
Subsequent to that she moved to Johnson’s creek, New York, a few miles
east of Lockport.
Both my father and mother had been
previously married and each had children, some of whom were grown up
and away from home before I was born.
My father and mother were united in
marriage at Oxford, Canada, November 12, 1826. From this marriage
there were born to them the following children:
Catharine Lovina, August
Isaac Wesley, October 12,
George Ryerson, March 13,
Julia Anjenette, August
It was in the
spring of 1833 that the family moved from Oxford to Malahide, in the
county of Elgin, ten miles north of lake Erie and near Talbot street.
This was our farm home for six or seven years.
My father was too much of a liberal and
my mother too much of a Yankee ever to be contended under monarchical
rule. And so for a number of years the question of emigrating to “the
states” was agitated.
Tidings from the Far West.
the year 1838 we began to hear a good deal about the Rock River
country in the far-off state of Illinois. So many favorable things
were said of it that my parents though quite favorably of going to
that new country where land could be easily secured and the boys could
get farms when grown up. In fact they had about decided to make that
the objective point of their travels, when the time came for them to
make the change, when all of a sudden a new direction was given to
“The New Purchase.”
Just at this
time, a neighbor of former years, John Brooks by name, having
gone West a year or two before, returned, and gave glowing accounts of
“The New Purchase” in Linn county, in the Territory of Iowa.
In 1838, a portion of the territory in
which Linn county is now included, was purchased of the Sac and Fox
Indians, and so it became known as “The New Purchase.”
This visit of
Mr. Brooks decided the question of location and fixed our
destination beyond the “Father of Waters.”
Our farm was sold to a man by the name
of Joel Stephens, the price of which I do not remember, if,
indeed, I ever knew. I can only recall the fact that in one part of
the payment there were one thousand half dollars which seemed to me
like an enormous sum of money.
About the middle or last of May, 1839,
all the arrangements had been made, and we were at last ready to take
up the line of our march to the land of promise.
It seemed to us
all like a great undertaking. The distance appeared to us so immense
that we never expected to return again to the old home. And although
the distance now seems quite insignificant, as a matter of fact, some
of us have never looked upon the old home from that day to this.
Our family consisted of father and
mother, Sarah Carroll, our half sister on father’s side,
Charles C. Cook and B. F. Cook, half brothers on mother’s
side, together with the four children already mentioned, making in all
a family of nine persons.