submitted by Neal Carter, Sept. 28, 2007

Muscatine, Iowa Wednesday, May 6


BUFFALO, Iowa, May 4, 1891

    Editor NEWS-TRIBUNE: I read your article from the Burlington Hawkeye, written by A. B. DOWELL, saying he has been in Iowa 55 years the 11th of April and asks if there is any other person now living, who has lived here so long as he. I answer, “Yes.” My father settled here in 1833. I was 11 years old. My brother, D. N. Clark, now living at Osceola, Clark county, Iowa, was born here April 21, 1834. John N. Suiter came to this Scott county, in 1835. James E. Burnside came April 1, 1836. James P. Cooper and Perkins Pace came the spring of 1836, and I could name many others, of other counties. I think Burlington, Dubuque, Fort Madison and Keokuk have some earlier than 1836. Capt. James Campbell is one, at Fort Madison.

    Davis & Haskel built a grist mill on Cedar creek, six miles above Davenport, in 1835. B. W. Clark built a saw mill on Duck creek, 5 miles above Davenport, same year.

    I think I am the only person now living that took a claim on the river, between Burlington and Dubuque, in the spring of 1833, and have owned it all these 58 years without a change of title.

    I also think I am now the oldest actual settler of Iowa.

    I am sorry to take up so much of your space in answering Mr. Dowell’s questions.

    Yours truly,--- W. L. CLARK.

We are able to confirm Capt. Clark’s statements by the following clippings from the Davenport Democrat, the first being from the Democrat’s issue of Nov. 25, 1889, and the latter of the same year:

    Capt. W. L. Clark, of Buffalo, the oldest of the Old Settlers of Scott county, celebrated his 67th birthday anniversary Thursday, and has been a prominent and prosperous citizen of Scott county for 56 years. He helped build the first dwelling house (log cabin) in the county, helped break the first land and raise the first white-man’s crop raised in the county, and is yet a strong, clear-headed prosperous citizen, counting on a goodly number yet of years of usefulness. And may he have this hope fulfilled abundantly.

The first school in Scott county was taught by Simon Ragan, in a log house near the mouth of Crow creek, now in Pleasant Valley township, and was begun in November, 1835 – nearly a year before Davenport was platted for a town site. The only living scholar attending, so far as is known, is Capt. W. L. Clark, of Buffalo.

We shall believe that Capt. Clark is the oldest resident settler of Iowa until we hear of somebody building his lone cabin in a cove of the Mississippi prior to 1833.

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