Excerpts from An Illustrated History of Monroe County, Iowa - 1896
CHAPTER XVIII ~ SOME BATTLES with the "HAIRY NATION".
NOTE: The following was transcribed as it was written in 1896. Some of the language is not considered politically correct by today's standards.
The next dearest thing to the heart of the citizen of the "Hairy Nation," after a drink of whisky at Harrow's was a free-for-all fight. Every man of them was a warrior. They did not fight so much through provocation or on account of any desire to avenge any imagined grievance, but they fought merely for recreation. They loved it. It was a race peculiarity.
They did not all inhabit the eastern portion of the county, for there were a few in the northern part. The Goodwins and Gladsons lived in Bluff Creek Township, but the were not loyal to the Mantua crowd. They did not belong to the "Nation."
At that time, Soap Creek had not yet come to the front as a fighting nation. The Kinser clan, however, were "good men," and whenever they felt inclined to take a little recreation, they came to Albia to fight with the Gladson-Goodwin crowd against the Tyrrell-Judson gang. They were allies of the Goodwin gang.
In 1851 Geo. Cramer was clerking for A. C. Wilson. The North and South met and united their forces against the "Hairy Nation." When the braves began to assemble, Geo. Cramer instinctively barricaded the store door, by running a heavy bar across the entrance. At length an assailing party came round to the store, found it locked, and then they tried to break it in. In vain they threw their weighty bodies against it to break it in. Old Billy Kinser, father of W. D. Kinser, of Moravia, was among those inside the store, and probably induced Cramer to open the door to hasten on the "festivities."
At any rate, young Cramer, who was about 18 years of age, raised the portcullis, and the besieging party rushed in. There was a barrel of ax-handles in the room, and each party seized one. The crowd was fighting mainly among themselves, probably just to keep in good fighting trim whenever the Northern band put in an appearance. Bill Kinser got an ax-handle, and used in in a free-and-easy manner among the crowd, knocking one of the Judsons flat on the floor. Cramer mounted the counter with an ax-handle, and whenever a member of the crowd of combatants circled within reach of his ax-handle, the handle came down without stint on the hirsute cranium of the Mantuan.
In 1858 Geo. Cramer was deputy sheriff of Monroe County. Some of the Judsons had been "pulled" for getting too hilarious at Harrow's saloon. Henry Judson, when arrested, gave bond for his appearance in justice's court, but, on the day set for the trial, neglected to appear. Cramer went down to the "Nation" to arrest him. When he brought his prisoner through Cuba, a crowd of the "Hairy Nation" arose and rescued their fellow-chieftain from the officer. Captain Saunders happened to be at Cuba that day, and with his assistance Cramer rearrested his man, and while he held the crowd at bay with a brace of pistols, Saunders loaded the prisoner into the buggy and away they drove towards Albia, followed by a cavalcade of the mob, shouting and firing their pistols at every jump of their nags. The pursuers and pursued kept up a running fire until the reached Albia. While the prisoner was being conducted towards the office of Wm. Davis, the justice of the peace, an attempt was again made to rescue him.
There were the Tyrrells and Judsons and other braves of the "Nation" among the attacking party, and Mart Giltner, George Knight, Oliver Garrott, William Boals, Tom Tucker, and others among the crowd of "minute men." George Knight used a pitchfork, Geo. Cramer his fists and a revolver, Captain Saunders his fists, Tom Tucker an ax-handle, and other used clubs. One of the Judsons ripped open Wm. Boals' shirt-collar with a big knife, and while Tom Tucker was shoving Laurel Tyrrell into the jail door, the latter kicked backward, striking Tom on the chin and knocking out two of his teeth. Milt Smith hit one of the Tyrrells on the head with a brickbat, and the though the man was killed.
The "Hairy Nation" was finally whipped in the fight, and the prisoner was gotten to the justice's office, and probably re-fined, and others of the party were lodged in jail.
At another time he was wanted for some slight offense. George Cramer went to bring him in. He located him in the woods, chopping away at a big tree. When the tree was about ready to fall, Cramer approached him from the rear. He did not see the officer until he was within a few feet from him. Judson then, on discovering him, made a jump for his rifle, which leaned against a neighboring tree; but before he could cock it, Cramer had him covered with a revolver. Captain Saunders was also with Cramer, and the three started for Albia, going through the field. Judson wanted to go by way of Cuba, but was told that his captors had had a little experience with him not long before, and that they thought it best to leave the village on their route.
While going through the field, Judson inquired what they would do if he concluded to not go any further. Cramer told him they would simply make him go. Then he laid down, and would not move. Cramer had a rope on his horse; with this he tied Judson, and, attaching one end to the horn of the saddle, the procession proceeded a short distance, when the prisoner concluded to go along voluntarily.
Old man Strickland was also a "good man." He lived a few miles north of Albia, and whenever he felt an inclination to "clean out the town," his first warlike preparation was to pull off his shirt. One day he was out in the streets of Albia, preparing to engage the crowd in battle, but in removing his shirt he neglected to unbutton the wristbands. He got the garment over his head, but his hands would not come through the sleeves at the wristbands. His antagonist, seeing the advantage, opened the attack. Strickland, appreciating the necessity for prompt action, stooped and placing one foot on each sleeve, pulled, like one skinning a squirrel, until the sleeves gave way and freed his hands. He then sailed into his foe, but was arrested and lodged in the old jail. At this period the old jail leaned considerably to one side, and when a guard was placed over him, he objected; he thought it was unnecessary to guard the side of the jail which leaned, as "any man would be a d—d fool to venture to escape from the side which leaned."
How a Sixth Iowa Cavalry Boy Got His Whisky.
Thomas Boyle, of Foster, who was a member of the Third Iowa Light Artillery, relates an anecdote on his friend John Gelson, an Irishman, who belonged to Company B, Sixth Iowa Cavalry. In 1863 and 1864 this regiment was in Sully's command, stationed in the Cheyenne country, near Ft. Pierre.
It was on Christmas, and the boys wanted a little whisky, but did not have the money to buy it, and the sutler would not be "stood off" for the pay. Gelson got two jugs, filled one with water and the other was empty. Appearing before the sutler he ordered the empty jug filled with whisky. The sutler filled it. Gelson, on receiving it, inquired how much it was worth. The sutler informed him that it would cost five dollars. Gelson appeared disappointed, and objected to paying so much. The sutler was a heartless fellow, and told Gelson that if he thought it was too much, to hand the jug back. Gelson did so, but handed the jug that contained the water instead of the whisky. The sutler was none the wiser, and the boys celebrated Christmas on whisky that did not cost a cent.
The Oldest Citizen Born on Iowa Soil.
John Adams, of Mantua Township, claims to be the first white male person born on Iowa soil. He is 76 years of age, and was born in 1820 at a trading post on the Missouri River, where the city of Council Bluffs now stands. The city had not been platted at that time, nor in 1824, when a French trader named Hart built a cabin on the bluffs near the large spring known as "Myner's Spring." The employees of the American Fur Company called the locality "La Cote de Hart," or "Hart's Bluff."
It may be necessary, however, for Mr. Adams to defend his claims to the honor of being the first white child born within the State, against those of Julien Dubuque's band of miners who settled along the Mississippi River in 1788. Although Mr. Adams may have been the first white American born in Iowa, it is quite certain that there were white children born in Iowa among the French traders prior to 1820.
Dr. Muir settled in Lee County in 1820. He was a surgeon in the United States army, and some years later located in Galena, Ill., and practiced law, and then returned to Keokuk. He had an Indian wife when he located in Lee County, and was the father of four children, some of whom were born in Iowa, as early, at least, as 1820.
Mr. Adams came to Monroe County in the '50s. Then he located in Wapello County, and then returned to Monroe County in 1873. From Council Bluffs he emigrated to Ohio, and from thence to Black Hawk County, in 1850.
Yankee Pumpkins as Parlor Sets.
In early times chairs were a luxury which every pioneer family, however well regulated, could not always afford.
Nail-kegs, too, were scarce, but the settlers soon began to use a chair not made with hands. It was the big Yankee pumpkin.
In the early '50s Nat Williamson went "sparking" over the line in Wapello County. In those days it was customary for the young men to court their girls in droves. Williamson, Tom Commons, and Joe Carwell went over in a gang to "set" with Salina McFarland, Miss Way, and Miss Sutton. They did not have chairs, but the lovers sat on pumpkins. The were never popular with lovers, however, as a pumpkin would not support two without wabbling.
"Territory of Iowa
"to eny Cunstabal in said county greeting in the name of the united states of america you are hereby commanded to atach so much of the goods and chatchels money receipts of Simon Cochron except such as the law exempts as shall be sufficient to satisfy the claim of sixteen dollars and seven cents and cost of suite in hoosoever possession the same may be found in your county and presincte that the goods and chatchels so attached may be subject to derthar Prosedings thare on as the law requires and also to summon the said Simon Cochron if to be found to apere befoe mee a Justice of the peace of the Mcintire precinct in said county at my office tharein on the 19 day of July 1845 at 12 oclock of said day to anser into H. M. Smith plantif and also that you summon all such pursens as garnisheez as may be derected by the said plaintif to apere before me at the time and place aforesed to anser such intirguations as my may be proponded to them and of this rit make legal servis and due returns given under my hand this 9 day of July A. D. 1845.
"Justice of the peace"
On the back of this "rit" is found the following:
"This rit came to hand July 9 at P. M. 9 oclock."
"leved this 10 day of July, one thousand seven hundred and twenty rales bilt in fense tin achres braking two log cabens three achres and a half of buckwheat whith all and singulare belonging to the with in cowhorn all the buv named property laying in township seventy one"
"garneshed Mr. Scot and A Tussle leved on by Blemming Tice July 10 1845"
"the demand $16.7 cents at the request and resque of the plaintif I impour Flemming Tice to execute this rit
"Justice of the peace"
Here is another order for the delivery of certain "goods and chattels":
|Territory of Iowa|||||To any constable|
|Kishkekosh County|||||in said County|
"In the name of the united states of America you are hereby commanded to cause to be delivered without delay to Henry B. Bones herein (if he gives the security required by law) the following goods and chattles to wit: ten hogs, one sow of a dirty white couler and her ear marks destroyed by dogs, three barrows marked with a crop off the left ear and an underbit in the right and a slit in the same; and five pigs coulered black and white and no ear marks, and summon Andrew Galasyp defendant, to be and appear before me, a justice of the Peace in theabove named county, at my office tharein, on the 15 day of January 1846, at 9 oclock A.M. of said day, to answer unto the said plaintiff, in a plea of replevin, and of this writ, make due service and return, given under my hand this 8th day of January, 1846.
"Justice of the Peace."
Some Early Milling Exploits.
In 1848 Newt VanCleve went to Bonaparte with a grist of milling. When he got down as far as Big Soap Creek, he found the stream out of its banks, caused by a recent heavy rain. There were no bridges; and as the family had scraped the bottom of the meal-barrel, there was no alternative but to get to mill in some way. He found a big cottonwood log lying across the stream above the current. Over this he carried each sack of corn to the opposite bank; then he took the wagon apart and carried it across, piece-meal. The wagon-bed he floated across by attaching a rope to it. He then swam the team across, and then went on his way. It took him nine days to make the trip; on returning, he found the creek still out of its banks. He left the wagon and milling at Madison McIntyre's, and swam the team across the stream and got home. He and his father returned a week later for the wagon and grist.
Mr. VanCleve is still living in Urbana Township, and relates another incident. In 1850 Hamaker's mill was established on Cedar Creek, and here the settlers took their "grinding." One day, while en route to mill, he overtook Hon. Josiah T. Young with an ox-team, also on his way to mill. Mr. Young was in his bare feet and was reading a volume of Gibbon's "Rome" while en route.
Mr. VanCleve passed him, got his grist ground, and started on their return home. Mr. Young stopped at Strickland's, a few miles north of Albia, to water his oxen. Old man Strickland was drunk, and got after Mr. Young's bare feet with a switch, making him hop around over the premises quite briskly.
In 1867 John Edwards made a proposition to the people of Monroe County to build a mill in Albia if the people would subscribe $600 towards the enterprise. The mill was erected, but the amount of bonus was never made up.
Source: Hickenlooper, Frank. An Illustrated History of Monroe County, Iowa: A Complete Civil, Political, and Military History of the County, From Its Earliest Period of Organization Down to 1896. Chapt. 18. p. 322-328. Albia, Iowa. 1896.
Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2010