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

Section 4 - Page 23 & 24 Submitted by Shirley Plumb, May 4, 2012

Pappoose Creek, Now Hidden Stream, Proved Popular Play Spot for Youth of Early Years

Pappoose creek that once twined through the heart of Muscatine’s business district is all but forgotten by the majority of Muscatine’s present-day residents. So long has the stream been underground and all traces of it erased so far as surface appearances are concerned that no one remembers it as a creek that flowed in a southerly direction entirely through the town except those who are well past middle age. The creek was diverted into an underground conduit in 1896.

One Muscatine woman for whom the creek as it existed more than a half century ago will always have a sentimental attraction is Mrs. Lydia F. Hill, 1314 Smalley Avenue. Mrs. Hill, who is a descendant of one of the earliest settlers of Muscatine, lived for 40 years on Sycamore Street on the banks of the stream. Mrs. Hill’s parents were Joseph P. and Lydia Mary Ann Parvin Freeman. Her mother was the second daughter of William and Hannah Parvin. William Parvin came to Muscatine in 1839.

As a girl, Mrs. Hill lived on Sycamore Street at about the present site of the palace theater and later the family moved farther up Sycamore Street to the present site of the Y. W. C. A. She, together with other children of the neighborhood, spent many hours playing along the shores of the stream which was near both of these houses in which she lived.

    “We used to think that Pappoose creek was the best place in the world to play, “she recalls. “Most of the time there was nothing but a peaceful little brook but sometimes after a heavy rain it would go on a rampage. I remember Standing on our porch and watching the flood waters carrying all kinds of debris and even some valuable articles that were washed in by the downpour. Once I saw a pig pen and some live pigs in the creek. The stream had risen so fast that the owner had been unable to move the animals to safety. On more than one occasion I’ve seen the creek rise until the waters flooded the area where the city hall now stands. At that time this block was used as a hay and wood market and as a carnival grounds. In times of flood the creek would sometimes force residents to flee and sometimes even washed away the foundations of buildings.”

As proof of her observation that Pappoose creek is now almost forgotten, Mrs. Hill tells the story of a woman who left here before the stream was converted into an underground sewer and who returned a number of years later. Riding from the depot in a taxi she told the driver that she wanted out at Pappoose creek. The driver was puzzled by these instructions, declaring that he had never heard of Pappoose creek, and the woman herself was surprised when she found that the creek actually did no longer exist in the downtown area.

Mrs. Hill remembers that in the winter as well as in the summer the creek provided an abundance of fun for children of the city. It was on the frozen surface of the creek that she first dared to venture on ice skates and the stream with its many twists and turns was always an enticing place for children to give free rein to their desires for exploration, either in winter or summer. She believes that all boys and girls enjoy their childhood more if they have the good fortune to grow up near a small stream.

The branch of the Parvin family to which Mrs. Hill belongs has resided continuously in Muscatine since 1839, a record that is not excelled by any other family. Her husband, William S. Hill, was mayor of Muscatine during the term of 1910 and 1912. Dating from 1839 the family is now in its sixth generation.

Both from what has been handed down to her from her grandparents and parents and what she has observed in a life-time spent here, Mrs. Hill knows Muscatine and the general historical background of the city perhaps more intimately than any other resident.

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Photo of the Papoose Creek sewer - A GIGANTIC UNDERTAKING—Building of the Papoose Creek sewer, one of the major engineering feats of the year, 1895, was under way when the picture here was taken. The workmen were stationed between Second and Third streets. The creek, in Muscatine’s early days, meandered through what later was to become the business area of the city.

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Page 24

Major Warfield Served as Early Railroad Agent

Photo of Major Asbury Warfield - A pioneer in the administration of railroad business, Major Asbury P. Warfield had the distinction of being the first agent to serve at the Muscatine station during the middle of the 19th century. His appointment as Muscatine freight and ticket agent on the Mississippi & Missouri railroad was made in 1855 and he continued in the same employ for 34 years. On the building of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern railroad, he was appointed its agent, serving in that capacity until 1881 when the ticket and freight were made different departments and he continued to be the freight agent.

Major Warfield, born in Frederick County, Md., Nov. 16, 1811, arrived here in the year 1837, accompanied by his cousin, David R. Warfield, traveling the distance from Burlington to Muscatine (then Bloomington) largely afoot. For a time he was interested in the lumber business but abandoned this for the railroad career. His death occurred Oct. 27, 1894. He never married.

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