Source: REGISTER OF OLD SETTLERS , BOOK One, page 213, 214 & 217
submitted by Jo Ann Carlson, Sept. 8, 2007

Old Settler’s Anniversary.
Picnic and Excursion to the Month of Pine-List of the Excursionists-Speeches, etc.

Sept. 8, 1886--- Wednesday was observed by the Old Settlers of Muscatine county with their annual gathering. By an arrangement perfected by President Walton, the steamer John M. Abbott and the barge W.G. Block were engaged to take the old settlers and their friends to the mouth of Pine Creek, noted as the place where the first settlement was made in this county by Benjamin Nye, in 1834. The steamer left the landing at 9:30 a.m., having upwards of 300 excursionists on board. One might suppose that a company of old settlers’ society are liberal, however, and not only include the children of the old settlers, but apparently their “cousins and their aunts,” and so this company was a mixed one, from the greybearded sire nearly if not quite four-score years of age to the babe in its mother’s arms. It was but little different in that respect from any other kind of an excursion, for most of our old settlers have learned to be blithesome and gay and to enjoy the good things of life with about as much zest as the young.

The whistle of the steamer then summoned the excursionists on board, and without accident or incident of special note the party returned to the landing in this city about 5 o’clock, all apparently well pleased with the experiences of the day.

The time required by the boat to make the passage to Pine Creek (about 2 ½ hours) was passed pleasantly in greetings and exchanging compliments and renewing acquaintances of Auld Lang Syne. Our reporter improved the opportunity to get the names of those on board as far as possible. It was not an easy task, as no official record was kept. Some names may have escaped him. His list is as follows: ---(list of names begins on page 213 continues on 214)---

R.S. Amlong, wife and two children. A. H. Kleppler and wife.
Mrs. Anderson, colored. Mrs. Col. Kincaid.
Joseph Bridgman. Geo Lamer.
Mrs. Chas. Bridgman and son. T.J. Lagrille, wife and daughter.
John Barnard and wife. Daniel Lake and son, Ulysses.
Thomas Brown and wife and daughter. J H Lukens and wife.
Mrs. Mary D. Brown and daughter, Flora. Mrs. E B Lewis
R.M. Burnett. Mrs. Lavina Lewis.
Frank Block. J. P. Lewis and wife.
Miss Lucy Block. Mrs. J B Lee.
C.S. Barnard and wife. Wm. Maylone.
Eden Brown and daughter. Mrs. Augusta Martin.
Mrs. Harriett Cook (colored). John McConaha, wife and daughter.
Mrs. J. Carr (colored). Mrs. H. Madden.
Chas. Chaplin and wife. Benj Matthews, wife and daughter (colored).
W.P. Crawford and wife John Mahin, wife, daughter and son.
Joseph Chaplin. I R Mauck and wife.
Mrs. S.B. Cook and son. Mrs. P Musser and daughters Anna and Laura.
Wm. Campbell and wife. Mrs. S. McNutt and son.
R. Cadle, wife and daughter. Wash McGreer, wife and boy.
Joseph Crane and wife. Louis McGreer, wife and daughter.
Mrs. Sarah Clark. Mrs. M.C. Morris.
Mrs. Lepha Crawley. Mrs. C.S. Millar.
Mrs. J. Caskaddan and daughter. Mrs. Emma Mahin.
Wm. L. Davidson and wife. Mrs. Mary Magill.
John M. Dunn. Mrs. R Musser.
Mrs. Rebecca Dunn and Miss Emma Dunn. Mrs. UC Mayes.
Mrs. J.A. Deener and daughter. Mrs. Sarah McCulla.
Eli Drury, wife and daughter. Mrs. B.F. Mull.
Isaiah Davis. Mrs. Newell, of Kansas.
S.C. Dunn and wife. Jonathan Neidig.
J.B. Downer and wife. C B Ogilvie and wife.
Mrs. Mary Dawson, McCallsburg, Ind. J A Parvin and wife.
Mrs. Mary Dunsmore and son. Mrs. Pomeroy, Annawan, Ill.
Miss Lou Dunsmore. Mrs. Susanna Pearson.
Mrs. G.B. Denison. Wm. Parkius.
Levi Eichelberger and wife. B B Rankin and wife.
Mrs. Clay Eichelberger and daughter, Bedford, Ia. Judge J Scott Richman.
Wm. Fletcher. Mrs. E F Richman and daughter.
Wm. Furnas and wife. John W. Rice and wife.
Mrs. A.J. Fimple. Geo. Robbins.
Mrs. T.R. Fitzgerald. A.     Smalley, wife and daughter.
Wm. S. Fultz and wife. Shep Smalley and wife.
Mrs. Mary A. Gilbert. W W Smith and wife.
Frank Geiger. Mrs. Wm Shields.
M.W. Griffin, wife and child. Mrs. Geo. Shields.
Dr. I.L. Graham and daughter. Mrs. Helen M Smith.
Mrs. Justus Grady and daughter. S.G. Stein.
Miss Helen Green. P Stein, wife and daughter.
Mrs. J.M. Gobble. Mrs. S H Sparks and daughter Emma.
Mrs. Diana Getter. Mrs. S Sinnett, son and daughter.
Mrs. C.C. Horton. Mrs. John Semple.
Mrs. Joseph Hoopes and daughter. Mrs. N F Swan.
Mrs. H.B. LeQuatte and child. Andrew Sheeley.
Mrs. C. Hetzel. P Sheets and wife.
J.B. Hencker and wife. Mrs. Toothaker.
J.E. Hoopes and wife. T.J. Thompson and wife.
H.A. Hollister, wife and two daughters. Mrs. Tewksbury.
W.H. Hazelett, wife and son. Mrs. Noah Tutt (colored).
Mrs. C. Hawley and daughter. Jacob Valet.
Mrs. W. W. Hartman. Geo M. Vanevery, of Kansas City.
Cyrus Hawley, of Kansas City. Mrs G W Van Horne, son and daughter.
Amos Hopkinson. Miss Aldine Varner.
Melvie and Clara Hall, of Danville, Ind. Josiah P. Walton and wife.
Mrs. Head, of Abingdon, Ill. Miss Sophia Wilson.
Miss Mertle Horton and sister. Miss Ada Wilson.
Linn Hoopes and wife. H.M. Wallace and wife.
Mrs. James Hatch. Miss Libbie Wallace.
Mrs. Col. Hill. Mrs. Ida Warfield.
M.Y. Howe and wife. Mrs. C. Weed.
Mrs. J.E. Howe. John Winn and wife.
C O Hurd and wife. John Winn jr, of Cameron, Mo.
A L Healey. Mrs. Ida Whittaker and children.
Mrs. Mary C. Hacker and son, Louie. Mrs. Worsham.
Dr. D P Johnson. Mrs. Naomi Warren.
A Jackson and wife. David Washburn and wife.
Mrs. P. Jackson and daughter. Mrs. Nancy Washburn.
R C Jewett, wife and daughter. Mrs. Melissa Young and children (colored).
B Kemper and wife.  

Before the boat reached its destination, the dinner committee had served a most sumptuous repast provided by the excursionists themselves and placed at the disposal of the dinner committee. Notwithstanding the large number on board, most of them with voracious appetites because of having taken an early and scant breakfast, there seemed to be an abundance for all. Among other liberal donations was a fat roast pig presented by Mr. John Barnard, which graced the head of the tabe and was elaborately garnished with flowers.

Quite a company of old settlers from the surrounding country had assembled at the mouth of Pine when the boat arrived there. After dinner President Walton called the assembly to order and Hon. R.M. Burnett acted as chaptlain by opening the proceeding with prayer.

The secretary being absent, John Mahin was chosen secretary pro tem.

Mr. Walton then delivered the following address, showing that the occasion was an anniversary in more sense than one:

    Old settlers, ladies and gentlemen:-We have met to hold our reunion in this grove for the second time. Two years ago we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of the first white woman as a settler, Mr. Benjamin Nye and daughters. One of the daughters, Mr. Patterson, was with us then and is on the ground to-day. This year there are several anniversaries that are worthy of our attention. This is the fiftieth year since our city of Muscatine was laid off as the town of Bloomington. If one would look up the roughest place in our county he would hardly find an equal to Bloomington in 1836. It was all hills and hollows. They were largely covered with trees and brush. The town was located between and on four hills-one of them the highest for miles away-with two large creeks and several small duck ponds to add a variety to the wildness. It contained a few log cabins-one of them a trading house-with less than a hundred inhabitants who had settled near “Grindstone Bluff,” the original name before Bloomington, to build up a town. The principal business was trading in claims. Almost every man you met had two or three claims to sell.

    Such was the condition of Bloomington when the Surveyor commenced to stake off our present city of Muscatine. When we consider the unevenness of the ground, the thickness of the timber and brush, the indifference of the instruments, and now, we wonder that the streets and the lots are as straight as they now are. In the space of fifty years our little town of Bloomington, with less than 100 inhabitants, has grown to a city of from 12,000 to 15,000.

    A thirtieth anniversary should not be forgotten. It can be called the advent of railroads to Iowa and west of the Mississippi river. On the 1st day of January, 1856, the first western railroad reached Iowa City. At that time there were less than one hundred miles west of the Mississippi river. In the short space of thirty years the State of Iowa has nearly 8,000 miles, with many more thousands to the west of her.

    Our fortieth anniversary also should be celebrated. It is forty years since Iowa became a State. There are many here present who recollect that for four or five years previous to 1846 a large portion of the street talk was about our admission into the Union. It was looked upon as one of the events of the times. Then, as now, the politicians had much to do with it. The old Whigs as a party opposed it. The government was in the hands of the Democrats. Iowa had voted Democratic; hence the Whig opposition. But in it went-a Democratic State, (as all the new States at that time did,) with no possible effect to any one but the office holders.

    We have another fiftieth anniversary of more importance in a general way than either of the others. It was the extension of civil government over this part of Iowa. By an act of Congress, the Territory of Wisconsin was organized on July 4th, 1836. It embraced the present State of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. This eastern portion of Iowa was then known as the Black Hawk Purchase. It was composed of two counties-Dubuque and Des Moines. We were in Des Moines and held our first election under Wisconsin, on the first Monday of October, 1836.

    For two or three years previous to 1836 quite a number of white settlers had come in while they were supposed to be under the jurisdiction of Missouri or Michigan. They had really now laws but such as were made by themselves for the occasion. While they had no prisons or jails, “the way of the transgressor was hard.” Their trials were speedy and their punishment adequate. Their courts were numbered somewhat by the size of the settlement. His Honor Judge Lynch, usually presided. The juries were composed of our collected from those presented. The verdicts were usually final and the punishments were of a kind that could be inflicted without imprisonment. Haning was the penalty for murder horse stealing. For crimes of a less magnitude whipping was generally the verdict. For offences against the morals of the community, where life and property was not at a stake, a ride upon a rail, with a coat of tar and feathers, was deemed sufficient.

    Most of the time a man was allowed to settle his own grievances as best he could-peaceably if possible but forcibly if he must, remembering that any overt act on his part was liable to be investigated by his neighbors.

    An assault or an insult was usually settled at once. To “give the lie” (tell a man be lied) was an insult that warranted a fight. The man, large or small, who did not resent it was considered a coward and hardly worthy of the respect of the community. For a man of large size to take the advantage of a small one was considered an outrage and was quite frequently corrected by a third party.

    Every man that came to a settlement was heartily received, (a Yankee may have been an exception to this rule,) and no questions were asked about him. But if he became a little crooked in his deals or harbored men about him of doubtful character, he was usually waited upon by three or four of his neighbors and told to leave. Usually 24 hours were allowed him. He generally left.

    There was not collecting debts by law. If any law existed, it was not enforced to any extent. Still a considerable credit system existed. Debts were usually paid. The misunderstandings about their land claims were usually settled by arbitration, each settlement making it our claim laws. Meetings were frequently held for that purpose. This custom was continued until the land came into market in 1838.

    Then, as now, the people went to town on Saturday, where they met, discussed an settled their difficulties at considerable loss expense and quite as satisfactory as it could be after civil government was established.

Mr. Walton then called on John A Parvin for remarks. He referred to the fact that this country had once belonged to Michigan, then to Wisconsin and was made the Territory of Iowa in 1838 and the State of Iowa in 1846. This had a curious illustration in a remark made by J. W. Woods, known as “Old Timber,” of Burlington, who said he had four boys, all born in the same log cabin, and yet one was born in Michigan, one in Wisconsin, one in Iowa territory and the fourth in the State of Iowa. Mr. Parvin spoke of the habit in early days of lynching horse thieves; a company was organized on a certain occasion to hunt for horses that had been stolen; they returned, having found the horses but had nothing to say about three horse-thieves afterwards found stretched by their necks from a tree. The speaker dwelt on the fact that it is now fifty years since Muscatine was settled, and he doubted whether the next fifty years could possibly witness as much progress as the past fifty. He thought we ought to be happy with the advantages we now have, but with these come greater and added responsibilities, and he admonished all to work more zealously for that which is right. He thought as a nation we should guard against a few who are coming among us, the anarchists, who must be required to obey our laws. He was proud of Iowa’s educational standing and considered it the best State in the nation. He concluded with a remark favoring woman’s right to vote.

President Walton stated that the press had done much for the cause of civilization and he called on John Mahin to respond to the sentiment. Mr. M. and there was some propriety in his speaking on this historic ground on this occasion, for he had spent his first summer in Iowa (in 1844) on a farm in the neighborhood, where as a boy he had “played steamboat” in one of the crooks emptying in the Mississippi, near the spot. He then referred to his early desire to master “the art preservative of all arts,” and related some incidents connected with his entry into the Bloomington Herald office as an apprentice in 1847 and of his subsequent connection with the JOURNAL, covering as it did a longer period than that of any other person in connection with the press of this State. He indulged in a retrospect showing how wonderfully the newspapers have increased in this State since his newspaper life began, and closed with these observations on the subject of growing old individually.

*** continued on page 217 ***

    Fifty, not fifteen should be the heyday of life. With good health, moral purpose and mental vigor, the pleasures of age are many and varied. Youth has no blessed memories with which to gild its life; none of the pleasures of retrospection, and thought it is hopeful and cheery with the promise of the future, it has not the monopoly of the illusions of hope, for this is eternal. To the end we have something to hope for, if not for ourselves for those we love. And then age has the advantage of making its hopes more rational and less deceptive.

    If we, like Mazzini, the great apostle of liberty, will make our second for country, our third for family, our fourth for self, we will find something in interest us, something to live for, with such duties and interests in this great world as will prevent our lives becoming failures, however old we may be.

    Allow me to read those words of inspiration for old people from one of Longfellow’s poems:

    Cato learned Greek at eighty; Sophocles
    Wrote his grand Edipus, and Simonides
    Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers.
    When each had numbered more than four-score years;
    And Theophratus, at fourscore and ten,
    Had just begun his “Characters of Men.”
    Chaucer, at Woodstock, with the nightingales,
    At sixty wrote the “Canterbury Tales;”
    Goethe, at Welmer, toiling to the last,
    Completed “Faust” when eighty years were past.
    These are indeed, exceptions; but they show
    How far the gulf stream of our youth may flow
    Into the Arctic regions of our lives.
    Where little else than life itself survives.

President Walton stated his disappointment that Prof. T.S. Parvin was not present, and called on Capt. W.L. Clark of Buffalo, for remarks. The Captain not responding Joseph Bridgman was called out. He said that his mind reverted to the old, old home in the east; in imagination he would play again on the village green, sit a the old hearthstone visit the old school house and the old church. Boys in those days teared the tithing man, who in church would noisily rap and point out a misbehaving boy. The Tithing man, the old church choir, with its fifty or sixty voices, were things of the past. So also the churches without stoves, where tin foot-stoves filled with live coals brought from home were the only means of keeping warm in church. Those were the days of long sermons, too, without warmth (except such as might be got from a hot theology.) He thought we had better sermons now and with better influence; in this he might be mistaken, but he had seen both. We have an almost cloudless sky to-day, said the speaker, and I would not shade your joy, but must refer to Mrs. Leffingwell and Suel Foster, who were with us a year ago, also to Henry Funck and Pliny Fay, who like them have passed away never more to hear the ripple of the beautiful river at our feet. The speaker said, referring to this river, that about 1827, he heard a minister declare that the Almighty had placed it as a dividing line between the whites on the east side and the Indians and buffalos on the west, and that west of this great river there was a vast plain with no place fit for the white man. Now, said he, we see the star of empire moving west of this river, with scarcely a section of this vast plain unfit to be occupied. The speaker saw in this company three classes of old settlers. First, are those who came here prior to 1840, and of this there were five in his family and its immediate connections. Second, those who came between 1840 and 1846; to these we extend the hand of welcome most cordially. Third, a class made old settlers by resolution; we bid them welcome, too.

Capt. Clark having now made his appearance, he was again called on and responded with some very interesting remarks. He said when his father settled at Buffalo his nearest white neighbors on the north were at Dubuque and on the south at Flint Hills, now known as Burlington. At one time he could truly say that he knew every man, woman and child in Muscatine and Scott counties-also every cow and dog-but that was not strange when it was considered that his father’s family comprised all the people and owned all the cows and dogs in those counties! In early days the settlers had no locks on their doors and were never molested by burglars or petty thieves; he traveled in Illinois when a boy with $3,000 in his pockets to buy cattle, without thought of having the money stolen from him. Capt. Clark said that he is now living on land originally taken as a claim by his family, and that Stephen Nye is the only other person in all this region who is doing the same, the ground on which the old settlers were then assembled being part of his land. He related some instances of administering justice in pioneer times, including the punishment of a thief who had stolen a few dollars, by whipping him and then setting him adrift in a small ash canoe on a moonlight night, the man and canoe floating down the river and never returning, though the man was seen many years afterwards by Clint. Hastings at Alton, where he was living as a respectable citizen.

Mrs. Laura Patterson, daughter of Benj. Nye, the first settlers of the county, was then introduced to the company by President Walton. She expressed a desire to see a suitable stone placed by the old settlers on the site of her father’s cabin, as a memorial of the first family settlement in the county, and on motion the President was authorized to appoint a committee to make the necessary arrangements. Mr. Nye’s death occurred March 3d, 1852.

The following papers, commemorative of two old settlers who died the past year, were then read by the secretary:


    I have been requested to present to this meeting of the old settlers of Muscatine county some notes of Mr. Pliny Fay, one of the earlier members of our fraternity.

    Mr. Fay was born March 4, 1812 at, Framingham, Mass., and died at Santa Cruz, California, Aug. 14, 1886, 74 years and 5 months old. He came to Muscatine, Iowa, in 1837 and resided here till 1873 36 years.

    It is a labor of love to the writer to pen these words in reference to this one among the oldest settlers. He first gave to me, as a Congregational minister, a warm greeting and welcome to Iowa and Muscatine, and the sincerity of that welcome was demonstrated by 30 years of faithful help and confidence and unfaltering support, as a brother and deacon in the church of which I have been for forty-three years of his faithful support his healthy demanded, as he thought, a change of climate; and now we are to express in a few words of sense of his worth, he having this past year departed this life, and gone to the better land and larger life;

    , That in our departed brother, Pliny Fay, who lived with us for 36 years and in Santa Cruz, California, for 13 years, we recognize, with thanks to God and with honor to our friend, a man who had to stay only a short time in any place to make the impression that he was an honest man, and what is more, a consistent Christian, and a man who could not stay long enough (though 36 years in one place and 13, in another, making nearly 50 years of manhood life) to cast any suspicion or leave any stain upon that character. We rejoice that we have abundant evidence that, on the contrary, that character grew brighter and clearer still, till the hour of his passing quietly away near the shore of the Pacific sea.

    If, as the Bible says, the blessed man is he who “walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord,” then do we thus name blessed, our long-time friend and brother, Pliny Fay.

    That we recognize, with great pleasure, in the wife of our brother Fay, Mrs. Adelia St. John Fay, who preceded him nearly two years in her departure out of this life, another of the choices ones of our old settlers, and a woman and wife who with earnest and Christian solicitude well illustrated, through all her life, the true saying that “a woman will do unfinitely, more for a man than any man would do for a woman.”

    A.B. Robbins,
    Pastor of the Congrational Church of Muscatine.

Part One: Speeches

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