Muscatine County, Iowa


Jo Chance Cohrs says the following: "Our Walliker family was one of the early settlers to what's now Muscatine. This family history of sorts is also published in a book that resides in your library in Muscatine that my father published many years ago. But is "buried" as part of a family history but yet tells of the early days in the area."

The Walliker Family
By Jacob Walliker and William T. Walliker, 1928
(submitted by Jo Chance Cohrs, descendant)

Our father Jacob Walliker was born at Staffa, Canton Zurich, Switzerland, September 8, 1798. He lived for some years in Munich, Bavaria working at his trade of mason and was married there in 1832. shortly afterward he and his bride came to America landing after a sailing voyage of six weeks, in New Orleans. The first years in America they lived in New Orleans, St. Louise, Beardstown, Illinois and “Bloomington”, now Muscatine, Iowa. Father was an architect and draughtsman, as well as a mason; quite intellectual, a great reader, and possessed of a remarkable memory, a faculty which he bequeathed to all his children. He could talk and read the German, French and English languages fluently; had been a great reader of the Bible, and could quote a large part of it upon occasion. The mother was born near Munich; readily adapted herself to the new country, America, and became a power for usefulness both with her own family and helping the neighbors in time of sickness. She helped bring more children into the world than most of the doctors in the vicinity.

Near Muscatine in 1835 they “took up” land and built themselves the home of pioneer farmers. They had a log cabin furnished as log cabins were in those days; they got their food and fueld and clothing in the primitive industrious pioneer ways. There was only one other white person in the County, but there were six hundred friendly Indians who roamed the prairies at will. This was about three years after the Blackhawk War, and our folks never suffered any great inconvenience from them, except our mother, upon whom they played many pranks. For instance, if the young bucks spied her at any distance from the house, they would chase her with their ponies in order to see her run, and would then lay back on their ponies and laugh at her fear.

At that time, the only mill in the country was at Buffalo, and it took our father two days to go to the mill, have his grist ground, and return home. It was during one of these pilgrimages to the mill, that two Indians came to the cabin and asked our mother for bread. She had baked the last flour she had, and naturally wanted it for herself and child and told them that she had none. She had previously hid it under her washed clothes. The Indians sat very quietly for some time, when one of them walked over to the clothes basket, and tipped it over, when out rolled the bread, two loaves. Each took a loaf, and ate it all, not leaving her a mouthful.

Their trail led right by our cabin, and they usually stopped both going and coming, and at times there would be as many as twenty of them staying over night, and sleeping on the floor of the cabin. They were very friendly with father and always insisted on his drinking with them. He learned their language and could converse with them in their own vernacular.

The cabin consisted of a one room with a loft, and later had a lean-to on the south for wood house, and another on the west for sleeping rooms. Roof was clapboards split from oak, about 4 inches wide and three feet long; these would warp and curl, but would shed water. Plenty of ventilation in time of now blizzards. Snow on the bedding was probably conductive to good health and long life. No stove, but instead, a large fire-place with two cranes for hanging kettles, and a set of andirons on which father would roll logs, often 1 ft. or 1 ½ ft. in diameter, and 4’ long. As can be imagined, these logs made a good fire and the cabin was very warm in the winter. Our mother possessed a Dutch oven, which was considerably larger than a skillet, round and deep, in which she did her baking.

When baking bread, she would put her dough in the Dutch oven, put on the cover, place it in the fireplace, cover it with burning coals and leave it until done.

In the early days she had to do as the Indians did, grind her corn for corn bread and corn cakes, but she did this by grating it with a grater, not having a mortar such as the Indians used. For baking corn cakes she used a plain board, upon which she plastered her dough and then stood it up before the fire to bake.

For light we had a “tallow dip” which consisted of an open iron utensil, not much larger than a tea cup. This was filled with tallow or lard, into which was laid a piece of tallow or cloth, the tip having been first dipped in its contents and then lit with a coal from the fireplace or by a stick lighted therein. “A dim light, do you say?” Well, it was all that we had, and long before the days of tallow candles, camphene, gas, kerosene, gasoline or electricity. These have all come marching along during our time upon the earth.

We still remember our mother’s old ash hopper, from which she distilled her lye for making soap, both hard and soft. Although father had only a log cabin for a residence, he was the possessor of a good barn. This was built of hardwood timbers, hewed from the native logs with broad axes and fitted with adzes and augers and the frames fastened with wooden pins. This barn had two hay mows, one on each side of a wide drive way. The grain was first stacked in one mow, and threshed in the other, the straw being carried out of the rear door into the barnyard. In the winter of 1853, father butchered 35 hogs sold at 1.50 per cwt, dressed weight and pay taken at the store in trade.

The early pioneers were a happy people. The latch string always hung out, and a stranger was always welcome to a meal and a night’s lodging. There were no invidious distinctions in this society, no upper class, no middle class and no lower class; all felt upon an equal footing, no man felt himself better than, or superior to his neighbor. That most despicable of human creatures, “the snob” had as yet, not shown up on the western country.

The family lived in the lob cabin near Muscatine for twenty years. Father took one trip to Kansas, with view to locating there; instead, placed his oldest son, with another man for partner, on a claim bordering the Solomon River, a location that seemed favorable for a mill. Threatening Indians started the young men for home – and the family then located, 1855, in Clinton, Iowa.

Brother Frederick had quite an experience, 1860-61 in company with a certain Capt. Swanson, purchasing a flat boat, and taking a load of potatoes, onions and honey to New Orleans. The venture made no profit. Feeling was already strong against the election of Abraham Lincoln for President, and Frederick and his partner had some rough-house experience at Cape Girardeau, Mo. On their way home; also the river steamer on which Fred was taking the last lap of his journey home, was fired upon by riflemen, when opposite Canton, Mo.

In 1862 the family all came to the Southwest quarter of Section 8, Princeville Township, Illinois which has been a Walliker home ever since. There were ten children in the family: Julia Ann, married Charles Stengele; Frederick, who became a lawyer in Muscatine; Louisa and Matilda (often called Martha) who married brothers John J. and Ezenezer M. Armstrong; Mary who married Captain James Krom; Jacob Henry who became a lawyer in Clinton, Iowa and held various offices in that city and County; Charles Minrod, who lives on the home farm in Princeville Township; Anna Magdalena who married Henry DeBord in 1877 and died the next year; Arnold Winkelried who became a lawyer at Clinton, Iowa; and William Theodore who with his brother Charles are the two members of the family who still live in the vicinity of Princeville, now surrounded by children and grandchildren.

Jacob Walliker, the father, died in 1870 and sleeps in a grave on the Princeville Township farm which was his home. The mother died on the same farm in 1905. These two people had come in their youth from their native land to America, in order that their posterirty might grow up in the new land of opportunity. They gave their lives to their ten children and lived to see them profit much by the sacrifices they made. Schools were rudimentary and not always near at hand. Yet somehow or another the children got what was a good education for their time. They went to High School, some of them to higher institutions. The sons became prominent in law and politics or successful farmers. The daughters married ministers and other useful men.

These ten children did not all stay in this community but most of them went elsewhere to share in the building of some part of our Country. Only Charles and William remained here. Both were farmers. Each had that degree of financial success that enabled them to do well by his family and to carry on important community activities. They had a full share of improving the school of the White’s Grove neighborhood. They were loyal and useful members of the White’s Grove Baptist Church that has done so much to lift up the lives of three generations.

Charles married on March 16, 1880, Elizabeth Dumbaugh, a native of Peoria County. They had three daughters, Mabel, now deceased, Mrs. Edna Fox and Elva. Mr. And Mrs. Walliker have lived lives of quiet force and usefulness in home, church and community.

William married on Nov. 22,, 1883, Miss Susie Stansbury of Brimfield, a prominent school teacher of Peoria and Stark Counties. To them were born seven children. The youngest, George Dewey, died in infancy. Those living are Fred, Charles, Sadie, Gladys, Reginald and Frances.

Mr. William T. Walliker’s business instincts expressed themselves in the purchase of land and with the help of his good wife and children he added to his holdings until he owned 450 acres. Besides the attention he gave to his private business he was always interested in public services, both local and national. In 1892 he was unanimously nominated for congressman by the Populist Party. He was at home harvesting oats at the time of his nomination, but at once entered energetically into the campaign in behalf of the cause the Populists held dear, polling more votes than any third party candidate had ever polled. In the spring of 1898 he was elected Supervisor of Princeville Township on the Democratic ticket and served two terms. During this time he entered the race for State Representative and was beaten for the nomination by George Homes of Akron Township by seven votes. He was selected as President of the Old Settlers Union of Princeville and vicinity and served for two terms. Mrs. Walliker passed away January 30, 1915 and five years later Mr. Walliker with his daughter Sadie moved from the farm to Peoria where he now resides.

Return to Muscatine Co. IAGenWeb, Index Page