Source: REGISTER OF OLD SETTLERS , BOOK One, page 160 & 163
submitted by Kevan Chown, Aug. 17, 2007

Sept. 25, 1884

Picnic Dinner, Speeches, &c.

Yesterday was the time set for the annual reunion of the Old Settlers of Muscatine County by an excursion on the river and a picnic in the woods near the mouth of Pine Creek. 12 miles above the city. The weather could not have been more suitable if it had been made to order.

At 9 ½ O’clock, the steamer John M. Abbott with barge left the landing, having on board over 200 old settlers and members of their families with a few invited friends. The ride up the river was romantic, with the somber autumn scenery, beautifully suggestive of the fruition of years reached by many of the excursionists.

While making the journey, our reporter busied himself in jotting down the names of those on board, omitting the children. He is not sure that he obtained all, but the following will be found nearly complete:
List of Picnicers:

Mrs. J. C. Abbott – (daughter of Alfred Nye) Mrs. H H Garnes. Ben Mathews, colored.
Joseph Bridgman S C Hastings. W. W. McQuesten and wife.
W. F. Brannan, wife and daughter. Mrs. F Hacker. Mrs Alfred Nye, of Iowa City.
John Barnard and wife. J B Heneker and wife. J A Parvin and wife.
Wm C. Beardsley and wife. Mrs J E Hoopes. Geo Parks and wife.
Wm Bond. Amos Hopkinson and wife. J S Patten and wife.
Mrs. Brogan and daughter. Mrs H Hoover. Mrs Chas Page.
Mrs. Minnie Betts. J L Hoopes and wife. Dr A B Robbins.
R. M. Burnett. Wm G Holmes. J S Richman.
Henry Blanchard and wife. Mrs W Hoopes. J W Rice and wife.
Mrs. Gal Bitzer. Joseph Heinley and daughter. D C Richman.
Mss. Monica Byrne. Mrs C Hawley and daughter. Mrs Catharine Rupp.
Mrs. Thos Barnard. Mrs Thos Hanna and daughter. Mrs Ruckdeschel.
J Carskaddan, wife and daughter. J B Hunt and wife. A Smalley, wife and son.
V. Chambers and wife. Mrs C Hetzel. Samuel Sinnett, wife and daughter.
Mrs. Harriett Cook (Cal.) Mrs S S Hughes. Shep Smalley and wife.
D E Colhert and wife. Mrs H Herd and daughter. Fred Sheeley.
Chas Chaplin and wife. Miss Rebecca Hoopes. Mrs John Semple.
Richard Cadle, wife and daughter. Mrs R H Hoopes. Mrs A schott.
J H Canon and wife. A L Healey. Miss Stocker.
Wm L Davidson and wife. S. Higginson. Miss Lettie E Schreffer.
Mr Edom Dolsen W H Hazelett and wife. Mrs Gus Schmidt.
Mss Lucy Danniels. Peter Jackson and wife. Peter Seets and wife.
Ross Drury and wife. Alex Jackson and wife. A G Townsley.
Samuel C Dunn and wife. James Jackson and wife. S M Thompson and wife.
Mrs. J. B. Dougherty. Dr D P Johnson and wife. Mrs F Thurston.
J G Dougherty. Mrs G W Kincaid. Miss Lizzie Taylor.
Mrs. Davison (nec Worsham.) Mrs Clara Kern. Mrs Tewksbury.
Peter DeMoss and wife. Mrs Geo Knopp. John Underwood.
Mrs. G W Dillaway. Mrs. Keehler. Mrs Arthur Washburn.
John M Dunn. Ed W Lucas, of Iowa City. Joseph P Walton and wife.
Mrs Mary Dunsmore. Ewing Lewis and wife. B K Wintermute and wife.
Mss Lou Dunsmore. Mrs A B Lucas. Mrs Rosetta Watson (colored)
Mrs G K Dunn and daughter. Mrs J T B Martin. Mrs JaneWatson (colored)
J A Deemer and wife. Mrs G D Magoon. Mrs W G Worsham.
Levi Eichelberger and wife. Mrs Jane Madden. Mrs Robert Weismiller.
Suel Foster and wife. Miss Annie Mikesell. John A Will and wife.
Wm Furnas and wife. John Mabin and wife. W P Wright
Wm Fletcher and sister. Mrs W H Marshall. Mrs C Weed.
Mrs. W P Frazier. Jos Mulford and wife. Mrs Jas Weed.
A Funk. Mrs I R Mauck. Mrs L H Washburn.
Joseph Freeman. Mrs Richard Musser. C L Warfield.
Charles Freeman and wife. J W Miller and wife. Mrs Mary Washburn.
Mrs. T R Fitzgerald. S McNutt and wife Miss Martha Washburn.
Mrs. J G Gorden. G D McCloud and wife. Miss Sophia Wilson.
Mrs. Geiss and daughter Mrs Murdock  

In about an hour and a half the boat landed at a clearing on the bank of the Mississippi a short distance above the mouth of the Pine, where in early times stood a warehouse owned by Benj. Nye, from which the farmers shipped their surplus products. Here had gathered a number of the old settlers and their families who had come in their own conveyances. Among them our reporter noted the following:

John W Anderson and wife. C Brandt and wife. A D Silverthorn.
Harvey Baker. Ed Denton. Joseph Wilhelm.
A A Brown. A Eldridge and wife. A H Wintermute and wife.
T G Brown. Henry Fridley. K VanCamp.
Dr W W Battey and wife. D S Marsh.  
Mrs John Blackwell. Albert Nye.  

We Fear the above list is far from being complete, but it was not practicable under the circumstances to obtain the names of all.

When dinner had been served and those on the boat had landed, the total number on the grounds was between 300 and 400. President Walton called them to order in the grove, when Rev. Dr. Robbins invoked the Divine blessing in terms peculiarly fitting to the occasion.


President Walton then read the following address:

Old Settlers – Ladies and Gentlemen:
When the Old Settlers organized this association, it was hoped that it would be kept up by their deccendants for an indefinite time. According to the regulations, all persons or their descendants settling in this county prior to January 1st 1860, can become members by recording their names and fixing the date of their arrival upon the records of the society. If this Association should meet in the fall of 1934 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the first family settlement in this county, as we do today, the fiftieth, it is probable that not many of us will be present although one member of that “first family” is now, and has resided for the fifty years within 3 or 4 miles of the old cabin home. She is now upon the ground, Mrs Laura Patterson, of this township, and her sister Mrs. Harriet Marsh, of Linn county, are the only survivors of this pioneer family.

In the spring of 1834 Benjamin Nye and his cousin, Stephen Nye took claims and built cabins on the two sides of Pine Creek Benjamin on the east side and Stephen on the west. As soon as the cabins were completed, Benjamin started to St. Louis and laid in a stock of goods and opened a store. His principal trade for some time was with the Indians. In the autum of 1834, fifty years ago, he returned to Ohio and brought his family to his new home, near where we now stand. That event we are now here to celebrate. It is very opportune that such a large assembly of ladies should engage in our festivities.

Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Nye were both natives of Vermont, they having stopped in Ohio, where their two surviving children were born, before “moving to the front.”

While Mr. Benjamin Nye’s family was first in this county, they were not the first settlers. In the summer or fall of 1833, Err and Lott Thornton built the first cabin near where the south western division of the C. R. I. & P. R. R. enters the bluff, close to the southern line of the county, at the out-let of Whisky Hollow, as it is frequently called. The Thornton boys brought no families with them for a long time afterwards.

When the Nye family landed here they had one or two neighboring families, living at Buffalo, 6 or 8 miles to the east, but none in the west nearer then the Pacific ocean. Few present can imagine the loneliness that one is subject to in such a Selkirk-life as theirs. But they have the honor of being the “first family” a title that at one time a Virginian would have felt proud of.

During the year 1835 but a small number of emigrants landed in this county. I said “landed.” For it was the commonword of the times. foralmost every white person in the county had to land here. There were but three ways to get here. The most common was by steamboat or the river; the other two ways were fording the river at Buffalo or New Boston. In any event it was “landing”. 1836 brought a good many settlers, some of whom are still with us. We hope to hear from them to-day.

Mr. Walton next called on Judge S. C. Hastings, of California, who, after a few introductory remarks read the following:


The place whereon we stand is the mouth of Pine river, latitude 41 ½ degress, on the westerly bank of the Mississippi, about half the distance between Muscatine and Davenport, and was about half a century ago in the days of steamboat navigation (prior to railroads and telegraph) a signal point for the navigator.

Pine river, so called, was not itself a river, but a small bayon or indentation into which discharged a creek which nearly became dry in the summer months; and hence during ths season of low water Pine river became somewhat insignificant.

Benjamin Nye occupied the adjacent lands as the first settler as early as the year 1834. This gentleman was a line specimen of the Puritan adventurer from the state of Vermont, and named the place Montpelier. His nearest neighbor was Major Wm. Gordon, a West Point graduate, and ex-captain of the first regiment of United States Dragoons, whose colonel was Henry Dodge, who raised and organized the regiment under the provisions of an act of Congress.

I have not time to present the wonderful characteristics of this eminent pioneer so distinguished for chivalry, honor, courage and integrity and all things which adorn a gentleman soldier.

***continued on Page 163***

Major Gordon having resigned from the dragoons, became a mountain trapper and spent his winters near the mouth of Pine. In the early part of 1838 he established there a store or trading post and had as a partner Authur Washburn, an educated merchant. But not having been successful in this, to him new business, Major Gordon became disgusted with mercantile pursuits and, if possible, more so with all civilized life, and was exceedingly irascible and did not much admire his successful neighbor, Mr. Nye. and soon had a personal feud with him. Nye ordered Gordon from his premises, and drew upon him a large bludgeon and felled him to the ground. Gordon fired his derringer but missed, and lay in articulo mortis for several weeks. He recovered, however, and both were indicted for assault with intent to commit the crime of murder. It was my unpleasant fortune to be the legal adviser of each in all of their business and so the trial coming on, I deemed it my duty to defend each, believing as I did, that neither was guilty of the crime with which he was charged. Gordon’s provocation was evident, but Nye’s was the most difficult to establish, and therefore I elected to try Nye first and at the first term of the court, and to postpone Gordon’s case to the next term, since his acquittal was manifest as a case of self defence. I did not doubt that Nye’s provocation was sufficient to demand an acquittal of the charge of intent to murder and so I obtained a verdict according to my theory and the evidence. Gordon became enraged at myself for I had to make use of some pretty severe language about the conduct of Gordon. He stamed and raved like a mad man and swore he would annihilate any unfortunate lawyer who should ever come within 30 miles of Pine river. Gordon was armed and I wore a red blanket coat (hence my sobriqued of “Old Red,” which is remembered to this day) under which I earried a huge Arkansas “toothpick” about 14 inches long – a small Claymore as it were. The day after the trial Gordon and I went on a steamer up the river. I deemed it prudent to keep in close proximity to my antagonist and client. Often he would invite all the bystanders except myself to the bar. As often I would do the same by him until Gordon landed at the mouth of Pine and thus, much to my gratilieation I became relieved by the departure of my infuriated client. At the next term of the court I had Gordon acquitted, but he never forgave me. He looked at me with muck sadness, if nor grief, for I was young and was devoted to him. He would employ no other lawyer to defend him and on his acquittal he looked at me with a tear in his eyes, departed from the court house and never spoke to me afterwards.

The next event which I call to mind was the selling of a saw mill site by John Knopp, who was a man of gigantic proportions and resided on the creek back of the mouth of Pine. A genteel, dapper looking gentleman in the fall of 1837 (that memorable epoeh town lot speculation in the northwest) desired to employ me to prosecute Mr. Knopp, in his contract, described the locality, the perpendicular banks, number of feet fall, the approaching banks, and adjacent timber. I informed the mill speculator that Knopp was my client and I would send for him. Knopp came immediately and confronted the irate speculator and stated that he had practiced no deception. The timber was there, also the perpendienlar fall of water, which every d-----n fool knew did not run except during the floods of heavy rains.

The next and saddest event of all was the killing of Mr. Nye by George McCoy of California, in endeavoring to rescue his children from Mr. Nye, who was his father-in-law. Gordon died early about a year after his conflict with Nye. Narboun, who was my brother-in-law, died a few years after. They were all remarkable men especially Nye and Gordon, who were known from St. Louis to the Falls of St. Authony, and the spot which they inhabited should never be forgotten.

The Judge then gave an amusing account of a ball that took place at the mouth of Pine on the 4th of July, 1837, of which Dr. Charles Drury and Vincent Chambers were among the managers. The ball took place in a double cabin with puncheon floor and the music was by two violins, a banjo and a Triangle, which the Judge declared was good. He described the dancing as “a constant swinging and balancing to your partners, crossing over and down the middle, and all promenade to your seats on a full trot and gallop.”

The Judge also told an amusing fish story how a fellow caught a 100 lb cat-fish at the mouth of Pine which he took to Muscatine to exhibit and while doing so some wag slipped a pig of lead, weighing 83 lbs, down its throat, so that it astonished the fisherman himself by weighing 183 lbs. The Judge next gave some account of his experience as a pioneer how he and Capt. Clark cut wood, how he (Hastings) was solicited by John Mapp, a pioneer of gigantic stature. to act as his lawyer in a case wherein Lawyer McGregor, of Davenport, was the opposing attorney, and how he so abused McGregor that he won the case for Mapp! He referred also to a commission given him as justice of the peace by Gov. Dodge, of Wisconsin, when his jurisdiction extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the British possessions, and how he sentenced a thief to receive 33 stripes for having stolen that number of dollars.

President Walton called Hon. E. W. Lucas, of Johnson county, to the stand. He said 45 years ago he and Mr. W. were boys together and he told an incident to show Joe’s indomitable perseverance. He spoke of a cabin raisings in those early days and of the first raft of lumber that came down from Maquoketa, contrasting the small lumber traffic of that time with the fact that 100,000,000 feet of lumber, valued at $16,000,000, are now cut annually by the mills of Muscatine. Mr. Lucas paid a high tribute to the wives of he early settlers, who incited them to noble endeavors.

Vincent Chambers was called on but excused himself with only a few remarks, in which he stated the he located in that vicinity 42 years ago last March.

Rev. Dr. Robbins responded to a call by saying that there is a sadness about many of the old settlers’ gatherings he has attended, they having been held at the graves of the departing pioneers. He was almost afraid to say anything on this occasion for fear it would be a sermon. He was a young man when he came here, and not much used to western ways, but he gradually adapted himself to them and had been enabled to stand many years in this community because of rubbings with these men and learning their strong traits of character. Some of them would chew tobacco and spit on the stove in church but he finally learned that they meant no disrespect by it. He told of an accident that caused him to stay all night at the house of Benjamin Nye, when he formed his first acquaintance with the family, which continued pleasantly till the unfortunate death of the pioneer.

John A. Parvin being called out, made reference to to the fact that Judge Hastings was a captain in the Missouri war, which he said caused more whisky to flow then blood. He spoke feelingly of the rapidly ranks of the old settlers and expressed a fervent wish that each would so live that when called away he would leave an honorable record behind.

The allusion to the Missouri war called Judge Hastings again to the stand in explanation. He said his company of Dragoons numbered about 300 men and that the Sheriff of Clark county Mo., was captured and confined six months in the Muscatine jail for collecting taxes in what was claimed to be part of Iowa.

Joseph Bridgman was called out. He said Mr. Lucas’ reference to a lumber raft from Maquoketa reminded him that he probably piled the first pine lumber ever received in Muscatine. This was in June 1840. He referred also to a reminiscence of that year, when he took a bridal trip on the steamer Brazil to Ft. Snelling and visited Minnehaha and the Falls of St. Anthony when not a house was built on the present site of the city of Minneapolis. He had lately visited that city and noted the wonderful changes wrought in 44 years.

This ended the speech-making. President Walton asked the question, “Who was the first child born in Muscatine county?” W. P. Wright answered, “Daniel Shelley, in Montpelier township, in February, 1837.”

The next order of business being the election of officers. On motion of Joseph Bridgman all of the officers of the Association were re-elected. The officers are J. P. Walton President, J. A. Parvin Vice President, Peter Jackson Secretary, Mrs. P. Jackson Treasures.

It being now 3 o’clock, announcement was made that the boat would start on its return in ten minutes. The return trip was without any incident of special interest. Secretary Jackson made a canvass of the persons in the company who located in the county prior to 1840 and them to be twenty-six.

The affair was a success in every respect. President Walton planned and managed it admirably. Much praise is also due to the excellent committee of ladies who presided over the refreshment table, with Mrs. I. R. Mauck at their head.

None among our citizens more merit this enjoyable occasion then do our Old Settlers; for, in the long time ago, “Husband and wife and children blest, They came so hopeful to the west; A wilderness before them lay – Into a garden it has bloomed this day.”


Roll of honor of the old settlers that came to this county prior to Jan. 1st, 1841 that were on the ground:

Mrs Laura L. Patterson Mrs F Thurston Ben Mathews
Hon S C Hastings Mrs P Pace J P Walton
Hon J S Richman Mrs h Miller Vincent Chambers
Hon E W Lucas Mrs A Jackson A Jackson
Hon J A Parvin Mrs V Chambers W G Holmes
Hon D G McCloud Mrs I Mauck Mrs J B Dougherty
A Smalley Mrs S Smalley Mrs G D Magoon
P Jackson H Gilbert Mrs W G Holmes
Suel Foster Capt Charles P Wigginson Mrs John Miller
Henry Blanchard Jos Bridgmen Mrs P Jackson
P Pace Charles Haplin Mrs Recce Hoopes
A L Healy Sam Sinnett Mrs P DeMoss
P DeMoss W P Wright Mrs W S Worsham
Mrs G W Kincaid S Smalley Mrs H Gilbert

There were several on the grounds that we did not get. This is the largest roll of first settlers that has attended any reunion for several years.

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