Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 2 - Page 16, Submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, April 3, 2012

Headstones Tell Mute Story of Early Settlers

Headstones – still discernible despite the ravages of time – tell in their own mute way the story of the hardships encountered by early Muscatine settlers and members of their families.

Upon a hillside near one of Iowa’s popular state parks – Wild Cat Den – just midway between old Pine Mill, a historic landmark, and the busy modern thoroughfare – Highway No. 61 – lies one of the county’s earliest burial plots.

Most of the graves are in a wooden fence enclosure. Others with markers surround this plot. Evidence of other graves without markers are nearby.

These markers tell their own story:

    In one little group are three members of the William G. and Sally Whitter family. A son, Wlliam Raymond, died Sept. 18, 1840 at the age of four years, two months. Another son, George R., died Oct. 31, 1840, at the age of one month and 15 days. Adjoining their graves is that of the father, who died April 12, 1846 at the age of 40 years, 11 months and nine days.

    Further evidence of the heavy toll among youth in the early days are the headstones marking these graves:
    Adeline Kidd, died June 16, 1852, age 7 years, 6 months, 26 days, daughter of J. and J. Kidd.
    Nancy M. daughter of J. M. and E. Shelley, died October 1, 1838, aged 1 year, 5 months and 4 days.
    Rachel, daughter of E. and H. Wright, died Nov. 18, 1838, in the 12th year of her age.
    Mary E., wife of W. P. Wright, died April 8, 1847 in the 19th year of her age.
    Mary, wife of William Shelley, died October 15, 1838, in the 22nd year of her age.

    Covering a longer span of life, these markers record:
    Lucinda, daughter of E. and H. Wright, died November 18, 1851, in the 37th year of her age.
    Edward Wright, died May 5, 1850 in the 69th year of his age.
    Haveyriah, wife of E. Wright, died Nov. 28, 1854, in the 64th year of her life.

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Muscatine county, as such, came into being on Jan. 18, 1839, when the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature which had jurisdiction, divided the original Des Moines county into six parts of which Muscatine county was one. The county, however, appears to have held its first election in 1837.

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Politics Constant News Theme

Down through the ages the subject of political control has been a vital one.

Campaign issues have been many and varied and the methods of gaining or holding control of governmental offices are noticeably similar.

And just to prove the authenticity of these facts, the very, very first bound volume of Muscatine newspapers – in the very first issue – devotes considerable space to presentation of the political situation of that date. The edition was of the Muscatine Herald under date of Dec. 11, 1840.

Minus a heading – a custom of that day – the article read:

    “Let the democrats of every county be on their guard and take care of themselves – especially in those counties where the democratic majority is ascertained to be small – such as Lee, Washington, Muscatine and Johnson.

    “A desperate effort will be made by the Feds throughout the territory – but their greatest energy will be turned towards the county where the majorities are small. It is here that the hottest of the battles will rage. Therefore let our friends look out. Let them rouse up, organize and prepare themselves for action” – Territorial Gazette.

    Old Muscatine is wide awake. Although our majority at the last election was small, yet it was decisive, and can be maintained at any day with our present population. The Whigs hen made every edge cut, and had the democracy drawn as far as they did to shove in challenged votes. We are proud to see the Democrats of Muscatine, instead of despairing at our late defeat in the sates and becoming lukewarm, strengthen in their attachment to the party and buckling of their ardour for another campaign, with renewed energy We hope to see our friends of the other counties do likewise. The triumph will be well worth all the toil it can cost.

    To our friends of the Gazette, we would urge the necessity of active exertions in Des Moines. She had the strength of all the Whig counties put together, and yet the Whigs have carried the county for some of the larger offices by very small majority. Let us not be contented with barely holding our own, but let us take the Whig camp. In doing this is where the glory lies. Let the Democrats commence their work with the same zeal that characterizes the Whigs and the result will show a triumph that will silence the oft-repeated assertion that the territory belongs to the Whigs.

Thomas Hughes was serving as editor at the time.

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“Muscatine” Was Name Choice for Child Born Here

Maybe it was because agitation was pretty strong at that time to change the name of Bloomington to Muscatine. Then too, the fact that this area was already known as Muscatine county may have proved the inspiration.

But, nevertheless, a gravestone at Greenwood cemetery contains the name, “Muscatine Hine.” The inscription gives her parents as L. H. and M. A. Hine, the date of death in the year 1850 and her age at death as five years.

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