History of Marion County, Iowa by Wright and Young (1915)

Chapter IV: Settlement and Organization

Progress of Settlement in Iowa - Indian Treaty of 1842 - Early Trading Posts in Marion County - First Settlers -
West of the Red Rock Line - Claims and Claim Associations - Pioneer Life and Customs - Amusements -
Organization of the County - The “Cornstalk Convention” - The Organic Act - Locating the County Seat -
First Election - Election Precincts - Road Districts - Second Election - Vote on the State Constitution -
Evolution of the Present System of County Government

From the time Marquette and Joliet landed in what is now Lee County, Iowa, in 1673, as stated in a previous chapter, more than one hundred years passed before any attempt was made to found a permanent settlement within the present limits of the state. In 1788 Julien Dubuque, a French trader, obtained permission from the Indians to open and work the lead mines on the west side of the Mississippi and founded a small settlement that has grown up into the city that still bears his name. Eight years after Dubuque began the development of the “Mines of Spain,” as his establishment was called, Louis Honore Tesson obtained from the Spanish authorities of Louisiana a grant of land on the west bank of the Mississippi at the head of the Des Moines Rapids, where he built a trading house and planted an orchard. No further efforts to establish settlements in Iowa until after the beginning of the nineteenth century.

In the fall of 1808 a small detachment of United States troops, under command of Lieut. Alpha Kingsley, built a military post where the City of Fort Madison is now located. Starting from the settlements on the eastern seaboard, the white man’s civilization gradually extended westward, and soon after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 had reached the Mississippi River. West of that stream the land was still in the hands of the Indians, and it was not until after the Black Hawk Purchase of 1832 that any portion of Iowa was legally subject to settlement by the whites. A trading post had been established at Keokuk in 1820 and a few other establishments of that character were located at different points along the eastern border of the state. Burlington and Fort Madison were laid out and settled in 1832, and Davenport was founded in 1833. On June 1, 1833, the title to the Black Hawk Purchase, or “Forty-Mile Strip,” became fully vested in the United States and settlers began to pour into the newly acquired territory.

The region comprising Marion County still remained an Indian possession, however, until the Sacs and Foxes, by the treaty concluded at their agency on October 11, 1842, relinquished to the United States all their lands west of the Mississippi. Under the provisions of this treaty the white man was given the right to settle east of a line running north and south through the cliff known as “Red Rock” on the Des Moines River after May 1, 1842, and west of that line after October 10, 1845. This line was surveyed in the fall of 1843 by George W. Harrison, a civil engineer and surveyor in the employ of the United States Government, though a few white men had located in the eastern part of the county earlier in that year. Disputes soon arose between these pioneers and the Indians as to the location of the line, the latter frequently claiming that the white men were encroaching upon their lands. It was to settle these difficulties that Mr. Harrison was sent to survey the line and mark it by stone monuments at stated intervals. The marker at the Des Moines River was placed a short distance above the present Town of Red Rock.

Prior to the actual settlement of the county in 1843 but little was known of this section of the country. Adventurous hunters and trappers who had traversed the Des Moines Valley told of the beautiful prairies and fertile soil, and a few trading houses had been established along the river between the Indian Town of Hard Fish (now Eddyville) and Fort Des Moines. Says Donnel, in his “Pioneers of Marion County”:

“The remains of one of these houses are still visible near the eastern border of the county, in what is now Lake Prairie Township. It was, perhaps, the first house occupied by white people within the bounds of the county. Another, known as the ‘Phelps Trading House,’ stood somewhere near the same locality. The proprietor, William Phelps, previously kept the same kind of an establishment at Farmington, Van Buren County, and moved up when his Indian customers receded before the advance of civilization. At a somewhat later date others were established at and in the neighborhood of Red Rock. One of these, kept by a person named Shaw, stood on the opposite side of the river from the village, and another a short distance above it was kept by John Jordan. About a mile and a half above Red Rock was another trading house kept by Turner, and north of town about the same distance was yet another, known as the firm of Gaddis & Nye. Some others, who still live in the county, traded much with both the Indians and whites after the settlements commenced, among whom are G. D. Bedell, of the village, and G. H. Mikesell, of the Town of Red Rock. Indeed, so far as we can learn, only the first three mentioned establishments existed previously to the date of settlement.”

Immediately after the treaty of October, 1842, a detachment of United States dragoons was sent into the Sac and Fox country and took up quarters at Fort Des Moines, where the city of that name is now located. The objects of this move on the part of the Government were to guard the Sacs and Foxes from attacks by the Sioux, and to prevent settlers from coming upon the new purchase until after the expiration of the stipulated time - May 1, 1843. There was also a garrison at the agency, the commanding officer of which was instructed to see that no immigrants crossed the line prior to that date. Notwithstanding these precautions, quite a number of prospectors did cross the line and select claims in advance of the day when the land was subject to settlement.

Just who was the first white man to effect a permanent settlement within the limits of the county is a matter of some uncertainty. In the fall of 1842 George Henry, James Carnilius and another man, whose name seems to have been forgotten, came to what is now Lake Prairies Township and erected three cabins, after which they returned to Missouri. When they returned the following spring they found that their cabins had been destroyed by the dragoons. Mr. Henry, who was a native of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, then selected a new claim in what is now the northeast corner of Indiana Township. It has been claimed by some authorities that he and his associates were the first settlers in the county. But the mere fact that they built some pole cabins in the fall of 1842, before a legal settlement could be made, and then abandoned them certainly does not deserve to be called a settlement, and about the time he located in Indiana Township quite a number of pioneers came into the county so nearly at the same time it would be a difficult matter to say which was the first.

During the spring and summer of 1843 Wellington and Levi Nossaman, George and John Gillaspy, William and John Welch and a few others settled on Lake Prairie; David Durham, Andrew Foster, Matthew Ruple and two or three other families located in what is now Clay Township, where Durham and Foster had selected claims the previous autumn. Matthew Ruple’s daughter Frances, born August 26, 1843, was the first white child to be born in Marion County.

John M. Jones, an agent of the American Fur Company, traveled over a large part of Iowa in 1842 and in the fall of that year selected a claim on the White Breast Creek, where he spent the winter. Soon after the country was thrown open to settlement he and his four sons - John, Isaac, George and William - settled in what is now Knoxville Township. Here he was soon afterward joined by Conrad Walters, Tyler Overton, John Conrey and a few others. About the same time Martin Neel, Stanford Doud, Andrew McGruder, David Haymaker, Silas Brown, Horace Lyman and a few associates settled in what is now Liberty Township. Among the early settlers of Polk Township were M. S. Morris, George Wilson, James, Andrew and George Stevenson and their father, Mordecai Yearns and the Billaps family. In Union Township the settlers of 1843 were Simeon and George Reynolds, John Flanders, Duncan Neil, Richard and John Butcher and three or four others. Prominent among the pioneers of what is now Summit Township were James Price, David and Allen Tice, Andrew Metz and the Wilsons. A more complete account of the early settlements in different parts of the county will be found in the chapters on township history.


By the provisions of the treaty of October 11, 1842, the Indians were to remain in undisputed possession of their lands west of the Red Rock line for three years. That period expired at midnight on the night of October 10-11, 1845. Before that time arrived the eastern part of the county was fairly well populated and steps had been taken to organize a separate county. Near the Indian boundary were gathered a number of prospective residents, ready to cross the line and stake out their claims just as soon as the treaty agreement would permit. To prevent premature action on the part of these people, dragoons were stationed along the line to see that no one crossed for the purpose of settlement until the Indian title expired, though for some time before that the pickets would permit persons to cross the line, “just to look around,” so as they had neither wagon nor ax. It is said that some of these prospectors carried axes in their pockets or knapsacks and when they found a tract of land that suited them it was an easy matter to fit a temporary handle in the ax and blaze out the boundary of a claim. Even a few wagons were slipped through the picket-line during the last few days of waiting. Some years later, one of those who took part in the rush for claims gave the following account of the affair:

“Precisely at midnight there were heard loud reports of firearms, which announced that the empire of the red man had ended forever and that of his master race had begun. Answering reports rang sharply on the night air in quick succession, till the signal was conveyed for miles around, and all understood that civilization had commenced her reign in Central Iowa. The moon was slowly sinking in the west and its beams afforded a feeble and uncertain light for the measurement of claims, in which so many were engaged. Before long the landscape was shrouded in darkness, save for the wild and fitful glaring of torches carried by claim makers. By daylight the next morning the rough surveys were finished and the Indian lands had found new tenants. Throughout the country thousands of acres were laid off in claims before the dawn. Settlers rushed in by hundreds and the region lately so tranquil and silent felt the impulse of the change and became vocal with the sounds of industry and enterprise.”

Before the year 1845 came to a close a large number of settlers had erected their cabins in the western half of the county. The country about the present town of Pleasantville seemed to offer the greatest attractions for the new comers and quite a number settled in that locality. Among them were William D. Halsey, John P., William S. and Samuel Glenn, Daniel Vansel, William and Larkin Young, John Lewis, Pleasant Prater, Richmond Miller, Samuel Tibbett, Lewis and Trainor Reynolds, David Shonkwiler and the Pitman, Logan and Spalti families. A few located claims north of the Des Moines River, in what is now Perry Township, and others settled in the vicinity of Red Rock. No settlements were made within the limits of the present townships of Franklin, Dallas and Washington until the year 1846.


The first business of the pioneer, upon reaching the place where he intended to settle, was to select the tract of land he wanted for his own and mark off its bounds. The legal area of a claim was 320 acres, and in the absence of skilled surveyors the settler himself would establish the lines. Taking the sun at noonday and evening as his guide, he would step off so many steps each way for his claim of 320 acres, “more or less,” and either blaze the trees or drive stakes at intervals along the boundary lines. By this method of measuring land the man with long legs had an advantage. The lines as thus established were far from correct, but they answered the purpose until the official survey was made, and it “was understood among the settlers that when the lands came to be surveyed and entered, all inequalities should be righted. Thus, if a surveyed line happened to run between adjoining claims, cutting off more or less of the one or the other, the fraction was to be added to whichever lot required equalizing, yet without robbing the one from which it was taken, for an equal amount would be added to it in some other place.”

To settle all disputes that might arise over boundaries and titles, almost every pioneer settlement had its “Claim Association,” to which were referred all cases of this nature. The first claim association in Iowa was organized in Jefferson County in 1838, soon after the organization of Iowa Territory, and it was legalized by the Territorial Legislature of 1839. True, the law made provisions as to how and by whom claims could be taken; that the claimant was required to build a house upon his claim and cultivate a certain amount of land yearly, and that if he absented himself from his claim for a period of six months it was subject to entry by some other person, etc. But the first settlers were not convenient to establish courts, and the claim association was organized to secure justice until regular courts could be inaugurated. Each association had its own rules and regulations for the government and protection of its members. Even after the United States surveys were completed, but before the establishment of local courts, these organizations were frequently called upon to settle some controversy over the possession of a given tract of land. In such cases a claim committee would be selected to hear the testimony of the contestants and their witnesses, which was given without the formality of an oath or affirmation. Then the committee would decide the question, and from that decision there was no appeal. Nearly all the settlers were enrolled as members of such associations and their sense of right was such that they always kept faith and abided by the decisions, and only in very rare cases was any injustice done. Settlers who were not members of the association were not entitled to its protection and benefits, and any one who positively refused to join, or to comply with the rules and regulations as set forth in the by-laws, was subjected to a sort of social ostracism that generally brought the obstinate individual to terms.

There was at least one of these claim associations in Marion County that has left something of its history. It was organized at a meeting held at the house of Jesse Johnson, in Perry Township, on Saturday, August 19, 1848, with Peter Brans presiding and James M. Brans acting as secretary. After the object of the meeting was stated and some miscellaneous discussion, the following preamble and resolution were adopted as the by-laws:

“Whereas, It has become a custom in the western states, as soon as the Indian title to the public lands has been extinguished by the General Government, for the citizens of the United States to settle upon and improve said lands and heretofore the improvement and claim of the settler, to the extent of 320 acres, has been respected by both the citizens and laws of Iowa.

“Resolved, That we will protect all citizens upon the public lands in the peaceable possession of their claims, to the extent of 320 acres, for two years after the land sales, and longer, if necessary.

“Resolved, That if any person or persons shall enter the claim of any settler, he or they shall immediately deed it back again to said settler and wait three years without interest.

“Resolved, That if he refuses to comply with the above requisitions, he shall be subject to such punishment as the settlers shall choose to inflict.

“Resolved, That we will remove any person or persons who may enter the claim of any settler and settle upon it, peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must, even if their removal should lead to bloodshed, being compelled to do so for our own common safety, that we may not be driven by ruthless speculators from our firesides and our homes.

“Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to settle all differences that may arise.”

It is to be regretted that the names of the members of that committee have been lost. A captain was also appointed, and at the close of the meeting the secretary was ordered to have the proceedings published in certain newspapers known to be friendly to the movement.

At another meeting, held at the same place on September 9, 1848, a lieutenant and an ensign were elected and the following additional resolutions were adopted:

“1. That each settler that applies first shall have his or her name registered, and if any two claims should conflict, then it shall be the duty of the second settler for the same piece of land to call the committee together and have the matter settled; and each settler that expects the benefit of these resolutions must have his or her claim registered by the 20th of the present month.

“2. That it shall be the duty of each settler to sign these by-laws, and he that refuses to do so cannot, and shall not, be protected by us.

“3. That any settler who may have signed these by-laws, and refuses to render service when called upon by the proper officers, without a reasonable excuse, shall be fined the sum of ten dollars, to be divided among those who may have rendered the service necessary.”

Thirty-five settlers signed these resolutions, and two others - a justice of the peace and a constable - were considered members, but did not sign the roll because they held commissions as civil officers.

After a lapse of more than three-score years, this method of protecting settlers’ rights may seem somewhat arbitrary and high-handed. Perhaps it was, but it must be remembered that most of the early settlers were poor men, who sought the new country for the purpose of establishing homes and bettering their financial condition. When the lands came into the market and speculators made their appearance, the settlers naturally looked upon them with suspicion and banded themselves together for mutual protection. Although the claim association, in a few instances, adopted the methods of a mob, there is no question that through its operation the country was populated more rapidly than it would have been had the land speculators been permitted to buy up large tracts and hold them for an advance in prices.


After the claim was staked out, the next thing necessary to the pioneer was to provide shelter for himself and family. Until a dwelling of some sort could be erected the covered wagon would be occupied as a sleeping place, while the meals were prepared “out of doors.” The first houses in Marion County were of the most primitive character, constructed of small poles, with the roof of bark sloping in one direction, and sometimes the entire front would be left open. They were called “wickiups,” the Indian name for a house or tent. A little later, when enough men had located in the neighborhood to assist in raising a cabin, the wickiup was supplanted by a cabin of round logs. And what an event was the “house-raising” in a new settlement!

After the settler had cut his logs and dragged them to the site of the proposed cabin, he invited his neighbors to the “raising.” Some of these neighbors might live several miles distant, but it seldom occurred that any one declined the invitation. When the men were gathered at the place four of their number skilled in the use of the ax were selected to “carry up the corners.” These men took their stations at the four corners of the cabin and as the logs were hoisted up to them they cut a notch in the under side of each log to rest upon a “saddle” shaped upon the top of the cross log below. It was necessary for the man who received the “butt end” of the log to cut his notch a little deeper than the one having the top end, in order that the walls might be carried up approximately on a level, and this was further accomplished by alternating the butt and top ends of the logs on each side and end of the cabin. After the walls were up, openings for the door, window and fire place were sawed out. Outside the opening for the fireplace would be constructed a chimney of some sort to conduct the smoke upward. If stone was convenient, that material would be used for the chimney; sometimes sod was used, in which case the chimney would be plastered on the inside with clay, but in a majority of instances the chimney consisted of sticks and clay. The roof was made of clapboards, split or rived out with an implement called a frow; and the floor, if there was one, was made of puncheons - that is, slabs of timber split as nearly the same thickness as possible and smoothed off on the upper surface with an adz after being placed in position. The door was also made of thin puncheons, hung on wooden hinges and provided with a wooden latch. This latch could be lifted from the outside by a thong of deerskin passing through a small hole in the door. At night the thong was pulled inside and the door was locked. This custom gave rise to the expression, “The latch string is always out,” indicating that a visitor would be welcome at any time. Nails were scarce and the cabin would often be finished without a single article of hardware being used in its construction. The wooden hinges of the door would be fastened to the walls and the shutter with small pins, and the clapboards of the roof would be held in place by a pole running the full length of the cabin and fastened to the end logs with wooden pins.

To transport factory-made furniture a long distance was a task not to be considered for a moment, so that the furniture of the frontier home was generally of the “home-made” variety. Holes were bored in the wall and fitted with pins, upon which were laid clapboards to form a “china closet,” the front of which was usually a curtain of calico or some cheap cotton fabric, though the curtain was often dispensed with and the china stood in plain view. A pair of trestles served as table legs and the door would often be taken from the hinges at meal time and used as a table top that could be leaned against the wall when the table was not in use, in order to make more room. The “prairie bedstead” was constructed by taking a small sapling of the proper length and boring large auger holes in it at right angles some two feet from the lower end. Into these holes were driven poles representing the length and width of the bed, the other ends of these poles resting in the cracks between the logs of the cabin wall or in holes bored in the logs. Upon the poles were laid clapboards, or tough bark would sometimes be used to form a substitute for the “springs” of modern times, and upon this the housewife could arrange her bedding in such a way as to conceal the rudeness of the contrivance. Stools and benches took the place of chairs, and somewhere in the cabin would be two hooks, from the forks of small trees or branches, pinned against the wall to form a “gun rack.” Here rested the long, heavy rifle of the frontiersman, and suspended from its muzzle, or from one of the hooks, hung the leathern bullet pouch and the powder-horn.

The cooking stove or the steel range had not yet come into general use and the meals for the family were prepared at the fireplace, a long handled skillet, and iron teakettle and an iron pot of goodly proportions being the principal cooking utensils. The skillet was used for frying meat or baking bread, coals being heaped upon the lid so that the bread would bake on the top as well as on the bottom. Boiled dinners were cooked in the large kettle. Few fancy dishes were prepared, the food generally being of the kind that “stuck to the ribs.” Deer and other game animals were plentiful and the trusty rifle was depended upon to furnish the family with a supply of meat.

After the “house-raising” came the “house-warming.” A new cabin was hardly considered fit to live in until it had been properly dedicated. In almost every pioneer settlement there was at least one man who could play the violin. His services were call into requisition and the new dwelling would become the “sound of revelry by night.” The puncheon floor was hardly suitable for the tango, the two-step or the hesitation waltz, but in fact such dances were unknown. Instead there were the Virginia reel, the stately minuet or the old-fashioned cotillion, in which some one called the figures in a stentorian voice. Perhaps the dancing was more vigorous than graceful as the one man orchestra brought forth from his fiddle such tunes as “Money Musk,” “Turkey in the Straw,” the “Devil’s Dream” or the “Wind that Shakes the Barley Fields.” But it is quite probable that the guests at a presidential inaugural ball never derived more pleasure from the event than did these people of the frontier, clan in homespun clothing and calling each other by their first names, at a house-warming. If the settler who owned the cabin had scruples against dancing, the house would be warmed by a frolic of some other nature, but it had to be “warmed” in some way before the family took possession.

After the cabin was ready for occupancy, the next thing for the settler to do was to make preparations for raising a crop. Most of the early settlers located upon the edge of a prairie, where they would be convenient to a supply of timber and where the sod was more easily broken than on the open prairie. Teh first year’s farming generally consisted of a small field of corn, a few potatoes and some other vegetables, and the entire crop was often insufficient to provide for the wants of the family until another could be raised. Many of the pioneers brought with them a supply of such things as flour, bacon, salt, coffee, etc., but even with the most frugal use of these articles the supply gave out in time and long trips to Burlington or some other distant point would have to be made to replenish the larder.

It is an easy matter for persons of the present generation to step to the telephone and order the grocer to send up a sack of flour, or the other necessary things for the household, but in the early days of Marion County’s history both the grocer and the telephone were missing. When the first corn crop was raised and harvested the work of converting it into corn meal - the principal breadstuff of the first settlers - was no light affair. Mills were few and far between, the nearest ones being located at Brighton, Washington County, or at Keosauqua and Bonaparte, in Van Buren County. Sometimes a week would be required to make the trip. There were no roads, the streams were not bridged, there were but few ferries, and the ox team was a slow mode of travel. To overcome the necessity for these long journeys various methods were invented for making corn meal at home. Before the corn became dry enough to shell off easily the grater was used. This was made by punching holes through a sheet of tin and then fastening it upon a board with the rough side of the tin outward, the sheet being bent so as to be somewhat convex on the outer surface. Over this rough surface the ear of corn would be rubbed, the meal passing through the holes in the tin and sliding down the board into a vessel placed to receive it. Manufacturing meal with a grater was a slow and tedious process, but the result well repaid for the labor. A bowl of mush made from grated corn meal and accompanied by a generous supply of milk, formed a repast that was not to be criticized in those days, and one which no pioneer blushed to set before a visitor.

Another way of reducing the corn to meal was by means of the mortar, or “hominy block.” To make a mortar a section of some hardwood tree - maple or hickory preferred - from three to four feet in length and about two feet in diameter was selected. In one end of this block a slight hollow or depression was made with a common chopping ax and a fire was then built in it to burn away the rough places. Then the charcoal was carefully cleaned out and the mortar was ready for use. Into this crude mill the corn was poured in small quantities and beaten into a coarse meal with a “pestle” of hard wood or an iron wedge attached to a handle. Sometimes the mortar would be burned in the top of a suitable stump near the cabin, and quite often one hominy block would be used by several families.

The work of obtaining wheat bread was beset by even more difficulties. But little wheat was raised by the early settlers, and that little was of inferior quality. There were no threshing machines and to clean the wheat a spot of ground was cleaned off for a threshing floor. Upon this floor the sheaves were spread in a circle, after being unbound, and then all the oxen and horses upon the place were made to walk round upon the wheat to tramp out the grain. In the center stood a man whose business it was to stir the straw, while probably two or three others kept the animals moving around the circle. After all the grain was tramped out, the straw was carefully raked off and the wheat piled up ready for cleaning. Sometimes this was done by waving a sheet up and down to fan out the chaff as the wheat was dropped in a small stream before it, but in a majority of cases a day was selected when there was a good breeze blowing, the wheat was cast into the air, the chaff carried away by the breeze and the grain fell upon a sheet spread to receive it. By this imperfect method some of the black soil remained with the wheat and ultimately got into the bread, but it was the best to be had and the pioneers ate it and thrived on it until better ways of cleaning and milling the wheat were introduced.

A very common substitute for bread was lye hominy, which was made by boiling the corn in wood ashes or weak lye until the bran or hull peeled off. It was then carefully washed, to remove the ashes or lye, and then boiled in pure water to soften it, when it could be fried and seasoned to suit the taste.

About a year after the first settlers came into the county, a man named Duncan built a flour mill on the Skunk River, above Oskaloosa, which was the most convenient place for getting wheat milled for several years. In 1844 Andrew Foster built a saw mill on English Creek, not far from the present Town of Harvey, and a little later added a small mill for grinding corn. Babcock’s Mill, in what is now Polk Township; Burch’s Mill, on the White Breast Creek in the northern part of Knoxville Township; and Haymaker’s Mill, on Cedar Creek near where the town of Bussey now stands, were all in operation by 1846 and the labor of going to mill was materially lessened.

Matches were a luxury and difficult to obtain. A little fire was therefore always kept about the premises “for seed.” During the fall, winter and early spring the fire was kept in the fire place, but when summer came a fire was built against some old log near the cabin. If a heavy rain, or some other mishap extinguished the fire, one of the family would be sent to the nearest neighbor’s to “borrow” a new supply.

How easy it is now for one to enter a room after dark, turn a switch and flood the whole place with electric light! It was not so during the early days in Marion County. Here indeed necessity was the mother of invention. The thrifty housewife constructed a lamp consisting of a shallow dish partially filled with lard or some other kind of grease in which was immersed a loosely twisted rag for a wick. One end of the rag wick was allowed to project slightly over one side of the dish and this projecting end was lighted. The lamp emitted an unpleasant odor, a good deal of smoke, and light enough for distinguishing articles about the cabin. Next came the tallow candle. The candle moulds were cylinders of tin, the size and shape of a candle, usually fastened together in groups of six or eight. Through each cylinder would be drawn a wick and then the moulds would be filled with melted tallow and set in a cool place. One set of candle moulds often supplied a whole neighborhood, passing from house to house until all had enough candles laid away in a cool, dry place to last for many weeks. Through the winter the family would often spend the evening with no light except that which came from the great fireplace.

In those days no one wore “store clothes.” The house wife would card her wool by hand with a pair of hand cards - broad-backed wire brushes with the teeth all slightly bent in one direction. After the “rolls” were carded they would be spun into yarn upon an old-fashioned spinning wheel, and then woven into cloth upon the old hand loom. The sewing machine had not yet been invented and the garments worn by the family were sewed by hand with the needle. The girl sixteen years of age who could not spin her “six cuts” a day or make her own dresses was exceedingly rare in the frontier settlements. How many girls of that age now can make their own gowns, or how many of them know what “six cuts” means?

People were generally too busy to pay much attention to social calls on each other, but one family would often go over to a neighbor’s to “sit till bed time.” On such occasions the men could talk politics or crop prospects, while the women would knit or sew and indulge in the neighborhood gossip, and the children could pop corn or crack nuts. About nine o’clock the lantern would be lighted and the visitors return to their home, for bed time then did not mean a late hour, as all must rise early the next morning for a new day’s work.

Life on the frontier had its hardships, but it also had its amusements. Many of the old settlers can yet recall the shooting matches, when men met to try their skill with the rifle, the prize for the best marksman being a turkey, a haunch of venison, or a quarter of beef. The scores at some of these shooting matches were such as would render a squad of sharpshooters on a government target range envious. The old hand made rifle, with the wooden stock running the full length of the barrel, the hickory ramrod and hair trigger, in the hands of the pioneer was a “dangerous and deadly weapon.”

Then there was the husking bee, in which pleasure and profit were combined. At these bees the corn to be husked would be divided into two piles, as nearly equal in size as possible; two of the guests would “choose up” and divide those present into two groups, the contest being to see which side would first finish its pile of corn. Women as well as men took part in this recreation and the young man who found a red ear was entitled to the privilege of kissing the lassie next to him. “Many a merry laugh went round” when some one found a red ear and the lassie objected to being kissed. And sometimes the young men would play an under hand game by passing the red ear covertly for one to the other.

After the orchards were old enough to bear fruit, “apple cuttings” became a popular form of amusement, when a number would gather to pare and slice enough apples to dry for the winter’s supply. The husking bee and the apple cutting were nearly always followed by a dance or a “play party,” in which “Old Sister Phoebe” would “sit under the juniper tree,” or the “happy old miller lived by his mill.”

On grinding days at the old grist mill, men would meet and while waiting for their grists would pass the time in athletic contests, such as wrestling, running foot races or pitching horseshoes. After the public school system was inaugurated the spelling school became a form of entertainment that mingled educational development with social life. At the close of the spelling match the young men could “see the girls home,” and if these acquaintances ripened into an intimacy that resulted in a wedding, the proper ting to do was to follow the nuptial ceremony with a charivari, or, as it was pronounced on the frontier a “shivaree” - a serenade in which noise took the place of harmony. The serenade was generally kept up until the bride and groom came out where they could be seen, and the affair ended all the more pleasantly if each member of the shivareeing party was treated to a piece of wedding cake and a glass of cider.

One custom adopted by the pioneers should not be overlooked, and that was the marks by which each settler could identify his domestic animals. In early days there were but few fences and live stock of all kinds was allowed to run at large. To protect himself, the frontier farmer cropped the ears of his cattle, hogs and sheep in a peculiar manner and these marks were recorded with the same care as the titles to real estate. Among the marks were the plain crop, the under and upper bits, the under and upper slopes, the slit, the round hole and a few others, by a combination of which each settler could mark his stock so that it could be easily distinguished from that of his neighbor. The “crop” was made by cutting off a small portion of the ear squarely across the end. If it sloped toward the under side of the ears it became an “under slope,” and if in the opposite direction, an “upper slope;” the swallow fork” was a fork cut in the end of the ear, similar in shape to a swallow’s tail, from which it derived its name; the “upper bit” was a small notch cut in the upper side of the ear, and the “under bit” was just the reverse, and so on. If some one found a stray animal marked with a crop off the left ear and an under bit in the right, all he had to do was to inquire at the recorder’s office to ascertain who had registered such a mark and thus learn the name of the owner. These marks were rarely violated and they protected the settler against loss as surely as the registered trade-mark protects the manufacturer of some special product.


Soon after the passage of the act of June 28, 1834, annexing Iowa to the Territory of Michigan, the authorities of that territory began the preliminary work of establishing civil government in the country west of the Mississippi River. On September 6, 1834, the governor of Michigan approved an act of the Territorial Legislature creating two new counties in what is now the State of Iowa. The dividing line between these two counties began at the lower end of Rock Island and ran due west. All north of that line was designated as Dubuque County and all south of it as the County of Des Moines. In the latter, Burlington and Fort Madison were designated as the voting places, but as at that time the population did not extend very far west from the Mississippi the results of the first election are not of particular interest to the people of Marion County, which was then unpeopled by civilized man.

When the Territory of Wisconsin was erected by Congress, by an act approved on April 20, 1836, Iowa was made a part of that territory, and on December 7, 1836, Henry Dodge, governor of Wisconsin, approved an act dividing Des Moines County into the counties of Lee, Van Buren, Henry, Louisa, Muscatine and Cook (now Scott). Two years later Washington County was organized and given jurisdiction over all the unorganized territory lying west of it. In 1843 several election precinct were defined by the authorities of that county, and one of these precincts embraced a large part of the present County of Marion. It was known as “Lake Prairie Precinct” and the first election was held on Lake Prairie on the first Monday in October, 1843.

Keokuk and Mahaska counties were organized in 1844 and the latter was given jurisdiction over all the territory lying to the north and west, including the present counties of Jasper, Marion, Warren and Polk. At an election held on the first Monday in April, 1844, Stephen Drouilard, who lived on the White Breast Prairie, was elected one of the county commissioners of Mahaska County.

In the spring of 1845 a meeting was called at the house of Nathan Bass, on Lake Prairie, for the purpose of taking steps to secure a separate county organization. Donnel says: “The cabin at which this meeting was held stood on the north bank of the Des Moines River, in the northwest corner of section 19, township 76, range 18, now Lake Prairie Township. It has long since disappeared, and repeated freshets have washed away the bank for several rods inland from where it stood. We are thus particular, because it may interest the reader to be able to find upon the map, or know when he passes it, a place rendered in some degree memorable by the scene of the first political movement in the county looking to its distinct organization.”

Those present at the meeting at Mr. Bass’ cabin were: George Gillaspy, Simon Drouilard, John W. Alley, Isaac N. Crum, Lysander W. Babbitt, Reuben Mathews, Homer Mathews, Nathan Bass, Levi Bainbridge, Joseph Drouilard, John Williams, David T. Durham, and perhaps a few others whose names have been lost. Simon Drouilard was chosen to preside and John W. Alley was elected secretary. The opinion regarding the advisability of asking for a separate county organization was unanimous and the meeting then proceeded to the selection of a name. Reuben Mathews suggested “Center,” because of the central location of the county; Lysander W. Babbitt proposed “Pulaski,” and Simon Drouilard offered “Nebraska.” Levi Bainbridge then addressed the meeting and pointed out the doubtful custom of naming counties after Indian chiefs or tribes, or noted foreigners, when this country had so many illustrious men whose names ought to be first considered worthy of perpetuation. He pictured in glowing language the heroism of Francis Marion, one of the distinguished generals of the Revolution, and concluded his remarks by moving that the name of “Marion” be adopted. This motion was promptly seconded and the name was adopted by a unanimous vote.

Joseph Drouilard was then selected as a candidate for organizing sheriff and a petition to the Legislature was prepared, asking for the organization of a new county to be know as Marion. The petition was circulated and signed by a large number of the settlers, after which it was sent to the Legislature. In response to this petition a bill was introduced providing for the creation of a new county, which passed the council on May 5, 1845, by a vote of four to eight. Subsequently it passed the house and on June 10, 1845, was approved by Governor Chambers. The full text of that bill is as follows:


“Section 1. Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Iowa, That the following shall constitute and be the boundary of a new county, to be called Marion; to-wit: Beginning at the northwest corner of Mahaska County and running west on the township line dividing townships 77 and 78 north, to the northwest corner of township 77 north, of range 21 west; thence south to the southwest corner of township 74 north, of range 21 west; thence east along the township line dividing townships 73 and 74 north, to the southwest corner of Mahaska County; thence north along the range line dividing ranges 17 and 18 to the place of beginning.

“Section 2. That the County of Marion be, and the same is, hereby organized from and after the first Monday in August next, and the inhabitants of said county shall be entitled to the same privileges to which by law the inhabitants of other organized counties this territory are entitled.

“Section 3. That for the purpose of organizing said county, it is hereby made the duty of the clerk of the District Court of said county, and in case there should be no such clerk appointed and qualified, or for any cause said office should become vacant on or before the first Monday in August next, then it shall be the duty of the sheriff of Mahaska County to proceed immediately after the first Monday in August to order a special election in said county for the purpose of electing three county commissioners, one judge of probate, one county treasurer, one clerk of the board of county commissioners, one county surveyor, one county assessor, one sheriff, one coroner, one county recorder, and such number of justices of the peace, and constables as may be directed by the officer ordering the same, he having due regard for the convenience of the people, which special election shall be on the first Monday in September next; and that the officer ordering said election shall appoint as many places of election in said county as the convenience of the people may require, and shall appoint three judges of election for each place of voting in said county and issue certificates of their appointment; and the officer ordering said election shall give at least ten days’ notice of the time and place of holding said election, by three advertisements, which shall be posted up at three of the most public places in the neighborhood where each of the poles shall be opened.

“Section 4. That the officer ordering said election shall receive and canvass the polls and grant certificates to the persons elected to fill the several offices mentioned in this act; the officer ordering each of said elections shall discharge the duties of the clerk of the board of county commissioners until there shall be one elected and qualified for said county.

“Section 5. Said election shall, in all cases not provided for in this act, be conducted according to the laws of this territory regulating general elections.

“Section 6. The officers elected under the provisions of this act shall hold their offices until the next general election, and until their successors are elected and qualified.

“Section 7. The officer ordering the election in said county shall return all books and papers which may come into his hand by virtue of this act to the clerk of the board of county commissioners of said county forthwith after said clerk shall be elected and qualified.

“Section 8. That it shall be the duty of the sheriff of Mahaska County to perform the duties required by this act until the first Monday in September next, and until a sheriff shall be elected and qualified for said County of Marion, and the said sheriff shall be allowed the same fees for services rendered by him under the provisions of this act that are allowed for similar services performed by the sheriff in similar cases.

“Section 9. That the clerk of the District Court of said County of Marion may be appointed by the judge of said judicial district and qualified at any time after the passage of this act, but he shall not enter upon the duties of said office prior to the first day of August next.

“Section 10. That all actions at law in the District Curt for the County of Mahaska commenced prior to the organization of the said County of Marion, where the parties, or either of them, reside in the County of Marion, shall be prosecuted to final judgment or decree as fully and effectually as if this act had not been passed.

“Section 11. That it shall be the duty of all justices of the peace, residing within said county, to return all books and papers in their hands appertaining to tsaid office to the next nearest justice of the peace which may be elected and qualified for said county under the provisions of this act, and all suits at law which may be in the hands of such justice of the peace, and unfinished, shall be completed and prosecuted to final judgment by the justice of the peace to whom such business or papers may have been returned.

“Section 12. That the county assessor elected under the provisions of this act for said county shall assess the said county in the same manner and be under the same obligations as now is, or may hereafter be, provided by law in relation to the county assessor.

“Section 13. That Ezra M. Jones, of Van Buren County, Joseph Robertson, of Scott County, and James Montgomery, of Wapello County, be, and they are, hereby appointed commissioners to locate and establish the seat of justice of Marion County. Said commissioners, or a majority of them, shall meet at the house of Wilson Stanley, in said county, on the second Monday in August next, or at such other time in the month of August next as may be agreed upon by them, in pursuance of their duties under this act.

“Section 14. Said commissioners shall first take and subscribe to the following oath or affirmation; to-wit: ‘We do solemnly swear (or affirm) that we have no interest, either directly or indirectly, in the location of the county seat of Marion County, and that we will faithfully and impartially examine the situation of said county, taking into consideration the future as well as the present population of said county, and that we will take into consideration the best interests of the whole people of the county, and that we will not be influenced by any fee or reward, or any promise thereof;’ which oath shall be administered by the clerk of the District Court, or by some justice of the peace of said County of Marion, and the officer administering the oath shall certify and file the same in the office of the clerk of the board of county commissioners, whose duty it shall be to record the same.

“Section 15. Said commissioners, when met and qualified under the provisions of this act, shall proceed to locate the seat of justice of said county; and as soon as they have come to a determination they shall commit to writing the place so selected, with a particular description thereof, signed by the commissioners, which writing shall be returned to the clerk of the board of county commissioners whose duty it shall be to record the same and forever keep it on file in his county.

“Section 16. Said commissioners shall receive the sum of two dollars per day, while necessarily employed in the duties assigned to them by this act, and two dollars for each twenty miles travel in going and returning, to be paid out of the first funds arising from the sale of lots in said seat of justice.

“Section 17. The County of Marion shall form a part of the second judicial district, and it shall be the duty of the judge of said district to hold one term of said court in the same on the twelfth Monday after the first Monday in March in each year.

“Section 18. This act to take effect and be in force from and after its passage.

“Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“President of the Council.
“Approved June 10, 1845,
“JOHN CHAMBERS, Governor.”


Going back to the convention which met at the cabin of Nathan Bass in the spring of 1845, one of its objects, and perhaps the most important one, was to secure the location of county seat at some point on the Des Moines River, which was then supposed to be navigable. Red Rock at once became an active aspirant for the honor. Her friends argued that by means of river traffic she would have a decided advantage over any inland location. Donnel says: “This argument might have secured her the place, but for the overwhelming fact that the town plat was occasionally found to be below high water mark. Evidences of floods that covered the place to the depth of several feet, at some remote period, are still visible upon the bark of the trees.”

The proposal to locate the county seat at some point on the river, particularly at Red Rock, did not meet the approval of the people in other parts of the county and they decisively gave the meeting at Bass place the name of the “Cornstalk Convention.” Nearly all the settlers were in favor of organizing a new county, however, and after the act of June 10, 1845, was passed many of them became interested in having the seat of justice located near the geographical center of the county.

On August 16, 1845, Joseph M. Robertson and James M. Montgomery, two of the locating commissioners, appeared before Lysander W. Babbitt, who had been appointed clerk of the District Court, and subscribed to the oath prescribed by the organic act. Then, starting from the house of Wilson Stanley, on Lake Prairie, they examined several proposed sites for the seat of justice. A week was spent in this work and on Monday, August 25, 1845, they made the following report:

“Territory of Iowa )
Marion County ) ss.

“We, the undersigned, appointed commissioners by the 13th section of an act entitled ‘An act to organize the County of Marion,’ approved June 10, 1845, after being duly qualified, agreeably to the provisions of the 14th section of said act, and after having faithfully and impartially examined the situation of said county, taking into consideration the future as well as the present population of said county, do hereby locate and establish the seat of justice of said county on the northwest quarter of section No. 7, in the township No. 75 north, of range No. 18 west, in the district of land subject to sale at Fairfield in the territory aforesaid.

“Dated at the place of location this 25th day of August, A. D. 1845.
“Locating Commissioners.”

In some of the early histories of Marion County the name of Commissioner Robertson appears as “Robinson,” and there is a street in the City of Knoxville named “Robinson” Street in his honor. But in the original act, as it appears in the Session Laws of 1845, the name is Robertson, and in minute book No. 1, in the county auditor’s office at Knoxville, his name appears on page 3, where he signed the above report, as “Joseph M. Robertson.”

The quarter section selected by the commissioners, and upon which the present courthouse stands, has ever since remained the county seat. At the time the selection was made the land was occupied as a claim by L. C. Conrey, who surrendered his title without compensation for the benefit of the county, though the land still remained the property of the Federal Government. It was the expectation that enough funds could be realized from the sale of lots to enter the land as soon as it was subject to entry, but the people were poor, the sale of lots did not come up to the anticipations, and at the January session of the county commissioners in 1847 the board appointed Thomas Pollock an agent to borrow the necessary $200 to enter the land. Owing either to the general scarcity of money or the lack of confidence in the county’s credit, Mr. Pollock failed to negotiate a loan. A minister named Gibson then offered to apply a land warrant that he held, and after obtaining title to the tract turn it over to the county and wait for his money, but upon investigation it was found that the warrant was not available. A Doctor Weir, of Fairfield, then entered the land on time and thus secured to Marion County a clear title to her seat of justice.


Pursuant to the provisions of the organic act of June 10, 1845, William Edmondson, sheriff of Mahaska County, proceeded to organize the county. He divided the county into five voting precincts and appointed the voting places and judges of election in each. In the Knoxville precinct the voting place was at the house of Landon J. Burch. John Babcock, William Burch and Richard R. Watts were the election judges in this precinct. Another precinct was in what was known as the “English Settlement,” where the election was held at the house of Thomas Nichols, with Thomas Nichols, Thomas Tong and David T. Durham as judges. In the Red Rock precinct the judges were James Chestnut, Edward Billaps and Robert D. Russell and the election was held at the house of Robert Stevenson. In Cedar precinct, in the southeastern part of the county, the election was held at the house of Conrad Walters and the judges were David Sweem, Conrad Walters and Garrett W. Clark. Lake Prairie precinct’s voting place was at the house of Wilson Stanley and the judges were Wilson Stanley, Asa Koons and Levi Bainbridge.

At the election, which was held on September 1, 1845 (the first Monday), 187 votes were cast, divided among the above precincts as follows: Knoxville, 28; English, 38; Red Rock, 48; Cedar, 30; Lake Prairie, 43. Conrad Walters, William Welch and David Durham were chosen county commissioners; Stanford Doud, commissioners’ clerk; Francis A. Barker, judge of probate; David T. Durham, treasurer; James Walters, sheriff; Reuben Lowry, recorder; Green T. Clark, assessor; Isaac B. Power, surveyor; Wellington Nossaman, coroner.

Stanford Doud for some reason failed to qualify as commissioners’ clerk and at the first meeting of the board Lysander W. Babbitt was appointed to fill the vacancy. The other officers elected all qualified and held their respective positions until the next general election, which occurred in August, 1846.

The first meeting of the county commissioners was in called session at the new county seat on September 12, 1845. There was then but one house of any kind upon the quarter section selected by the locating commissioners. That was the cabin of L. C. Conrey, a cabin of the most primitive type, constructed of poles, with clapboard roof, etc. It was about sixteen feet square and in one side a hole was cut through the wall to admit the light, but the opening was without either glass or sash. In this rude structure the first official business of the County of Marion was transacted. At this session the report of the locating commissioners was received and placed on file, and arrangements were made for surveying the Town of Knoxville, after which the board adjourned until the second Monday in October.

The most important business to come before the commissioners at the October session - at least the business that related the most general comment - was with reference to the Negro woman, Rose Ann McGregor, and her white husband, who had located in the southern part of the county. A full account of this peculiar case will be found in another chapter of this work. At this session preparations for the first sale of lots in the Town of Knoxville, were completed and the sale was held on October 21, 1845.


At the March term in 1846 the commissioners divided the county into election precincts and appointed judges to conduct the coming election as follows:

1. Lake precinct, which included township 77 and all of townships 75 and 76 of range 18 lying north of the Des Moines River. The house of Samuel Peters was designated as the voting place, and Samuel Peters, Asa Koons and Jacob C. Brown were named as judges.

2. Red Rock precinct, embracing township 77 and all of township 76 of range 19 north of the Des Moines River, and all of township 77, range 20, east of the old Indian boundary line north of the river. Robert D. Russell’s house was named as the voting place, and James Chestnut, Claiborne Hall and Reuben Mathews were appointed judges.

3. Gopher Prairie precinct, which included all west of the old Indian boundary line and north of the Des Moines River. Asa Hughes’ house was named as the voting place and the judges were Asa Hughes, Joshua Lindsey and Alfred Vertrice.

4. Pleasant Grove precinct, which included “all of Marion County and the attached portion thereof south of the Des Moines River and north and west of the White Breast Creek.” The election was to be held at the house of William Glenn, who was appointed one of the judges, the other two being John P. Glenn and William M. Young. This was the largest of the election precincts. It included all of the present townships of Union, Swan and Pleasant Grove, and parts of Polk, Knoxville, Franklin and Dallas, as well as that part of the present County of Warren lying between the streams named in the order.

5. Knoxville precinct, including township 75 of range 19, all of township 76, range 19, south of the river and east and south of the White Breast Creek, and all of twonships 75 and 76, range 20, east of the old Indian boundary line. Lawson G. Terry, Moses Long and Landon J. Burch were appointed judges, and the election was to be held “at the place of holding the district court.”

6. English precinct, which included “all of the county and attached portions thereof west of the old Indian boundary line and south and east of the White Breast Creek.” William Tibbett’s house was named as the voting place, and Samuel Nicholson, Elisha B. Ryan and William Tibbett were appointed judges.

7. Round Grove precinct, embracing township 74, range 19, and all of township 74, range 20 east of the old Indian boundary line. John T. Pierce, Jeremiah Gullion and Alexander May were appointed judges, the election to be held at the house of the last named.

8. Cedar precinct, located in the southeastern part of the county, included township 74 of range 18, and all of township 75, range 18 south of the Des Moines River. Joseph Clark, Francis A. Barker and David T. Durham were appointed judges, and Jasper Koons’ house was designated as the voting place.


On April 14, 1846, the county commissioners divided the county into ten road districts and appointed a supervisor for each, to-wit:

District No. 1 included township 77 of range 18, and all of township 76, of the same range, north of a line running west from the southeast corner of section 12; Samuel Peters, supervisor.

District No. 2 included all of township 76, range 18, south of a line running west from the southeast corner of section 12 and north of the Des Moines River, and all of township 75, range 18, north of the river. William Welch was appointed supervisor.

All the other districts, with the exception of the ninth and tenth, corresponded to the election precincts. No. 3 included the Red Rock precinct, with Claiborne Hall as supervisor; No. 4, Gopher Prairie precinct, with Joshua Lindsey as supervisor; No. 5, Pleasant Grove precinct, with William M. Young as supervisor; No. 6, Knoxville precinct, with Lewis M. Pierce as supervisor; No. 7, English precinct, with William Tibbett as supervisor; No. 8, Round Grove precinct, with David Sweem as supervisor.

District No. 9 included all of townships 75 and 76 of range 18 lying south of the Des Moines River. John Wise was appointed supervisor of this district.

District No. 10 embraced township 74, range 18, which now forms Liberty Township. Hugh Glenn was named as supervisor.


It will be remembered that the officers who established the county government were elected at the special election held on September 1, 1845. The first regular election under the territorial laws was held on the first Monday in August, 1846. Besides the election of county officers, this election was of more than ordinary interest, on account of the first constitution framed for the admission of Iowa into the Union being at this time submitted to the people.

Hugh Glenn, David Durham and Samuel Tibbett were elected county commissioners; Joseph Clark, commissioners’ clerk; Francis A. Barker, probate judge; William Pilgrim, representative to the Legislature; George Gillaspy, sheriff; David T. Durham, treasurer; J. F. Monohon, recorder; Allen Lowe, assessor; Claiborne Hall, surveyor; Asa Koons, coroner. The highest number of votes cast was 295. The vote on the constitution was 174 in favor of its adoption and 76 against it.

With the induction into office of the new officials, the business of Marion County firmly established. Since then some changes have been made in the manner of conducting county affairs. In 1851 the offices of county commissioner and probate judge were abolished by law and the duties of the two positions merged in the hands of a county judge. Joseph Brobst was the first county judge, as well as the last. He was first elected in August, 1851, and served until August 1855, when he was succeeded by F. M. Frush, who in turn was succeeded by William B. Young in 1861. In 1865 Judge Brobst was again elected and held the office until its business and duties were turned over to the circuit judge in January, 1869.

In the meantime the office of county judge was shorn of much of its power by the establishment of the county supervisor system in 1860. The first board of supervisors was elected on October 9, 1860, and was composed of one member from each of the civil townships, to-wit: Clay, Joseph Clark; Dallas, H. R. Clingman; Franklin, D. F. Smith; Indiana, Daniel Sherwood; Knoxville, Joseph Brobst; Lake Prairie, E. F. Grafe; Liberty, J. B. Davis; Perry, William P. Cowman; Pleasant Grove, J. Thornburg; Polk, George W. Martin; Red Rock, Edwin Baker; Summit, John F. Baldwin; Swan, J. A. Logan; Union, William Blain; Washington, Bromfield Long.

This system of county government continued until 1870, when the board composed of one member from each township was found to be too unwieldy for the speedy transaction of business and the present system of three county supervisors was adopted by an act of the State Legislature. William Blain, S. Y. Gose and S. L. Collins constituted the first board of supervisors under the new regime.

In this chapter the aim has been to give some account of the early settlement and political organization of the county. An account of the early courts will be found in the chapter devoted to the Bench and Bar, and in other chapters will be found the history of early schools, churches, the building of roads, etc.

Transcribed by Mary E. Boyer, December 2006, reformatted by Al Hibbard 11 Oct 2013