MUSCATINE COUNTY IOWA|
Source: REGISTER OF OLD SETTLERS , BOOK One, page 311-312 & 315-316
submitted by Jo Ann Carlson, October 21, 2007
OLD SETTLERS’ DAY
A Large and Enthusiastic Party Board the Train this Morning.
A ROYAL TIME IN HECHTNER’S GROVE
President Walton’s Address-Secretary Jackson’s Report - E.U. Cook’s Poem - A Day of Feasting and Reminiscences
Old Settlers’ Day-- To-day has been pleasantly anticipated for some time past by the old settlers and their friends as the day set for the annual reunion and picnic of that body of Iowa’s pioneers. The president and vice-president have held many consultations and labored hard and faithfully to make it a success. That it was well planned and a great success is easily learned from any one of the many who boarded the eight o’clock train this morning for Hechtner’s grove, the beautiful spot selected for the annual celebration.
Three coaches on the regular B., C. R. & N. train were well filled with a happy crowd this morning and as Conductor Fox gave the signal for starting, the old engine gave a puff and snort and steamed easily out with its precious load.
On reaching the grove quite a number of residents of the surrounding country were on hand to greet the crowd from the city and help make them comfortable. After a ramble through the beautiful grove and general exchange of greetings and small talk, the gathering was called to order and the exercises opened with a beautiful prayer by Rev. A.B. Robbins.
President Walton then delivered the following address, replete with interesting recollections and the occurrences of 50 year ago:
Old Settlers, Ladies and Gentlemen: In our short address it has been our aim to talk about something historical.
In this period of fast passing events, man’s short life, if not more than sixty years, reaches back into an entirely different age. Fifty years ago there was not a railroad in the valley of the Mississippi. The fastest mode of traveling way by steamboat. The time occupied in going to New York was usually more than three weeks. Six weeks to get returns from one of our eastern cities would now be considered quite slow. We recollect when the first telegraph line was constructed in Iowa. An agent came along soliciting stock and exhibiting its workings. He put up a wire from a room down town up to the Court House; made his ground connections, but for the want of another operator he sent and received in the same room. He used the old point and dotted paper. Taking by sound was not practiced at that time. The stock was subscribed and the line was put up along the public highway across the Island and up through Sweetland township. This road soon became known as Telegraph road.
Steamboating in the forties was much ahead of these time. During good stages of water we had from 6 to 8 boats every day and frequently 12 or 15. The quality was fully up to the present time.
In the later autumn or winter traveling was very slow and expensive. Early in November, 1838, my uncle started to go to New England. He took a boat to St. Louis. On reaching there he found the Ohio river so low that he could not get a boat to go that way, so he went to New Orleans by steam boat, thence to New York by sailing vessel. There were no coasting steamers at that time. It took him until Christmas to reach New York. There was one difficulty with steamboating. The river usually got quite low in the autumn and rendered the lower rapids impassable, so that between low water and frost in the winter, we had but four or five months of navigation. This was unusually well improved. The produce was shipped out and the merchandise brought in for the year. The merchant generally went east in the spring by the way of St. Louis and up the Ohio river by boat and laid in his tock of goods and generally got them here by July. St. Louis usually supplied the heavier goods and frequently they were a little later in coming.
This system of business required large storerooms. A few are yet standing, such as the Humphrey’s building and the block of buildings now occupied by the Hahn brothers and William Banker, the building and warehouse in the rear now occupied by Griffin and by J.E. Hoopes & Co. These are monuments of Muscatine’s early business.
Most of the grain had to be stored until the following spring before it could be shipped out. The pork had to be packed and kept until boats commenced running in the spring. Many of you will recollect the porkpacking firms of Ogilvie & Jackson, Ogilvie & St. John, Weed & Bridgman, Leland & Co., and T.O. Butler. The warehouse of S.G. Stein’s across the street from the freight depot, was built and occupied by T.M. Isett and afterwards by Greene & Stone for a pork-house. From thirty to forty years ago Muscatine was the most extensive pork-packing point in the state.
Here let me give a few quotations of pork: In 1846, ’47 and ’48 dressed pork sold at $2.25 per 100 pounds. In 1849 we sold two hogs that weighed 715 pounds, live weight, at $1.75 per hundred. Corn usually sold at 10 cents and wheat from 30 to 40 cents. Even in those cheap times it required both capital and credit to do business by this system of having to lay in a year’s stock at one time, not being able to ship out anything to meet outstanding debts for more than four or five months of the year. Currency was very scarce. It had been almost all paid out to enter lands. When money could be had it readily brought 2 per cent a month. The farmers were all in debt to the extent of their credit. At one time a little flurry in the eastern money market occurred that cramped the merchants badly. To gain time and relieve the merchants, the legislature passed what was then known as the “two-thirds law.” It was something like this. A man owing a debt could turn out any property he chose to satisfy an execution. This property was appraised and offered for sale. If it did not bring two-thirds of the appraised value it was returned to the debtor and the creditor had to wait. I think, six months before he could proceed again.
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Again. At the expiration of that time I presume a similar proceeding could be had. While a few debts were settled in this manner, many were continued for quite a while. But I think about all were satisfactorily arranged. At all events, most of the merchants kept on in business.
Frequently sharp games were practiced to gain times. On one occasion one of our merchants purchased some $200 worth of cabbage and barrels, and made kraut and shipped it south. He cleared $200 on the venture.
Another merchant, Mr. D_ concluded that if Mr. B could do so well on kraut he could do the same and went into the business extensively. He was not so successful and soon found himself considerable in debt, with a good stock of kraut on hand. “Loaded with kraut,” and the river too low to ship. When his debts crowded him he turned out the kraut; he could spare it the best, and had it appraised (the appraisements were always large enough,) and offered for sale. Of course, it did not sell but the debt was disposed of for the next six months. A neighbor of Mr. D_ was sorely pressed and hardly knew what to turn out. Some one suggested borrow Mr. D’s kraut. This suggestion was acted on. The kraut was borrowed and appraised and offered for sale a second time with the same result as before. It is said that this kraut was kept for a long time and used for extending the time of payment many times before it finally gave out. We never heard the amount of commission or rent that Mr. D_ got for its use, but we presume he was well rewarded.
Fifty years ago there was scarcely a buggy or a single carriage in the county. All the light business of running around was done on horseback. Every man that owned a horse had a saddle and most of the women had side saddles. Business too heavy or bulky to be done on horseback was done with a heavy wagon, frequently drawn with oxen.
Almost every cabin contained a piece of furniture that has now become obsolete, an old-fashioned cradle with low rockers. The cradle that the mother rocked with her toe while doing her sewing or knitting has entirely disappeared. We advised our old townsman, T.S. Parvin, who is collecting articles of ancient husbandry, to secure one for the Masonic library at Cedar Rapids. The baby that was born fifty years ago had none of the luxuries of the present age, such as sleeping in an airy crib and being trundled around in a gorgeous baby wagon. They were carried around in the arms of their parents or rocked in a low-topped cradle, covered tight to keep out the flies. We had no screens to our doors then. We always had a great many unwelcome guests at our dinner tables; it was quite hard to keep the butter and the flies separate.
We well recollect when the first reaping machine was brought to this county. It was one of those wide McCormick reapers that would cut about seven feet at a swarth. It came to Chester Weed. A large man by the name of Ruble came with it. They took it down to Shephard Smalley’s to try it. We followed down and helped to put it together. It gave us much trouble, but it worked surprisingly well.
Sixty years ago we had no Winchester rifles that one can put in a pocketful of charges and shoot them as fast as they can count. We had the old flint-locked muzzle loaders. We run our bullets in an iron mould and melted the lead in a wooden ladle. About fifty years ago the flintlock was being changed to a caplock, the change now is from a caplock to a breach-loader. We never then thought of shooting on the wind, not even with a shotgun. Ammunition was too expensive to waste in that manner.
Fifty years ago the wild pigeon was very abundant. We frequently celebrated our 4th of July hunting them. They have now become almost extinct. We have not seen one for more than twenty years.
We don’t like to close without mentioning some of our recollections of this locality.
Early in the autumn of 1849 we commenced building the first frame building in Pike township. It was a regular old fashioned frame, with forty pieces of square timber in it, most of them hewed; all were oak. The corner posts were rabbited. We don’t build houses that way now. It was built for Mr. Gamaliel Olds, who has owned it until quite recently. This house was covered with plowed and dropped one inch pine siding, as there were no planing mills in Iowa that time, I had to rip, plane and groove it by hand. I find in my dairy; “took 9 ¾ days to work 1,500 feet of siding.” This cost Mr. Olds not less than $15, the same work could have been done at our planing mills now for $1.50. I also find in my dairy that I worked two days on the road, so you see I have been a contributor to the revenue of Pike township.
The grove we now occupy was known as a part of the old Caruthers farm. The old log cabin now standing in the field was the first house built in the township, and was the home of seven men and three women. On the north where the brick house now stands, Jesse and David Purington lived.
The Frank boys lived further up the creek. On the east and south Major Remember, Elias. Adams, Abner Coble, William Sanders, the blacksmith, and one or two of the Caruthers. West of the creek were Samuel Nichols, John Rock, John Criffield, Gamaliel Olds and the Weston boys. Fruther down the prairie were the Watkins, the Stretches, the Younkins and the Brockways. These constituted the extent of the neighborhood, which reached for nearly 10 miles north and south.
Sickness was very prevalent at that time; on one occasion I went with Mrs. Olds to a cabin some two miles east of here to help take care of the sick. It was a large log cabin with a huge fire-place in one end. There were four beds in the room. In the corner on the right of the fireplace the father occupied one bed, laid up with the inflammatory rheumatism so bad that he could not help himself. The bed on the right of the fire was occupied by the mother, who was suffering with pneumonia; one of the two beds in the rear of the room held a very sick child, the other contained the remains of a child who had recently died. Sickness was expected by all the early settlers, but this was the worst afflicted family I ever saw. During the first few months of my stay I made three coffins for this small neighborhood.
Let us look at the brighter side. We came here to build a house for Mr. Olds. We were then young and bashful. The ‘Squire had two very charming daughters, who, in point of culture, were much in advance of the …He had a good team and a tight wagon and he was about as old then as now. Of course, I was too…
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…drive the team. Mr. Nichols had two or three daughters and a son; Mr. Rock had a daughter; Mr. Watkins had his boy, “Greenblade;” the Stretch family had five or six girls and boys; the Younkins and Brockways had three or four more. These, with the older ones who could be persuaded to turn out, made quite a gathering. Previous to this time there had been no social meeting except Sunday School and preaching. The young people were ready for some amusements. We had been here but a few days when we were invited to go out on an evening visit with Mrs. Olds and the girls. We went down to Mr. Stretch’s. Acting on my suggestion a spelling school was arranged for. Spelling was not my fort, but it answered the purpose of getting the young folks together.
The school district were constructing a log school house, the first one in the township. We helped to finish it off. As soon as it was completed we organized a “Debating school”. The older members of the community taking apart. It was popular; visitors came from all around the country. This school house was used for holding religious meetings at least once in two weeks. Among the number of itinerant preachers that appeared, Hon. James Harlan was a very regular one.
In the early days horse stealing was very prevalent. Every one having a good horse lived in fear to a great extent of having his horse stolen. In the summer of 1849 this neighborhood was considerably, exercised on that account.
‘Squire Olds lost a couple of horses. Runners were put out on the track and the culprit, a Mr. Lewis, was caught in Jones county. He was brought back and lodged in jail. He soon made his escape by outside assistance. There were circumstances that looked toward implicating one of the neighbors with the theft. So all the others were sleeping on their arms watching their horses. No more were stolen. I think this was a year previous to the organization of the Cedar county regulators. That pretty effectually put a stop to horse-stealing, but not until several thieves were hung. The horse-stealing excitement had hardly died away before another one came. A project for building a bridge across Cedar river was started. Everybody was forced to take stock. The bridge was commenced by putting in the false work, it was planked over and answered a good purpose. About the time that the bridge proper was being completed a storm came along and blew it down. No effort was made to rebuild it.
After a short interval Secretary Peter Jackson read an interesting report. It was a brief history of the Old Settlers Society and contained the names of all the old settlers who have been called home since the society’s organization. From the report we glean the following interesting facts:
The Old Settlers’ Society of Muscatine county was organized Feb. 9, 1856, on the occasion of the death of Arthur Washburn, who came to Muscatine in 1835, when there were only two counties in Iowa.
Mr. Washburn was our first postmaster, in 1836, then called the Iowa P.O., our first Judge of Probate (1838) and our first county Judge, in 1854.
At the organization of this society there were present: Joseph Williams, T.S. Parvin, Pliny Fay, Joseph Bridgman, Suel Foster, H.Q. Jennison, Zephaniah Washburn, H.H. Hine, G.W. Humphreys, J.P. Walton, Myran Ward, Wm. Chambers, M. Couch, Giles Petibone, J.S. Allen and Abner T. Banks. Judge Jos Williams, was chosen president, Thos. Burdett vice-president and T.S. Parvin, secretary. All who came here previous to January, 1840 were considered members, Stephen Whicher is the first death noticed in the records.
There seems to be a hiatus in the records of the society until January 1865, at which date we had a reunion at the residence of Hon. D.C. Cloud and revived the society by electing Wm. Leffingwell, president; Suel Foster, vice-president, and Peter Jackson secretary.
The first death noticed after this re-organization is that of Adam Ogilvie February 5th, 1865, next Samuel D. Viele, April 5, 1865.
The next meeting of the society recorded was April 10, 1869, at which meeting a resolution was passed, “that all persons who were citizens of Iowa prior to its admission into the Union, although not then citizens of this county, be considered members of this society.”
At the anniversary, June 29, 1869, John A. Parvin was chosen president and Suel Foster vice-president.
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At the annual meeting September 6, 1870, General Fletcher was elected president, G. W. Kincaid, vice-president and P. Jackson, secretary. Four deaths are recorded in 1870; Judge Williams, Mrs. W.G. Woodward, Samuel Nichols and John Miller.
Then followed a list of deaths of members of the society: There were 3 deaths in 1871: 7 in 1872: 5 in 1873: 14 in 1874: 6 in 1875: 13 in 1876.
At the annual meeting October 13, 1876, Judge D.C. Richman, president, it was resolved to admit as members of the Society persons settling in the county prior to 1861, and that the membership be divided into two classes, to wit:-Those who were residents of the society at the organization of the State of Iowa to be called members of the first class, and those who became residents subsequent to the organization of the State, and prior to 1861, to be called members of the second class. There were 3 deaths in 1877 and 19 in 1878.
At the annual meeting held October 9, 1880, Judge Richman declined re-election and Josheph Bridgman was made president. Deaths in 1880 were 15.
The annual meeting in 1881 was held at the Armory Hall. The same officers were re-elected with the addition of Suel Foster as 2nd vice-president and Wm. Gordon vice-president. 7 deaths in the year.
In 1883 the semi-centennial of Iowa was held in Burlington June 1st. There were 16 deaths in 1883.
The anniversary celebration was held in 1884 at the mouth of Pine Creek, J.P. Walton, president; J. A. Parvin, vice-president. 10 deaths during the year.
The 1885 anniversary was celebrated September 9th by a boat ride to Buffalo, 12 deaths reported during the year.
The 1886 anniversary was celebrated September 8th by a boat ride to the mouth of Mad Creek. February 16th of this year the 30th anniversary of the society was celebrated. Deaths during the year, 21.
The 1887 annual gathering was held in Court square. Deaths during year 17.
The annual meeting for 1889 was held July 4th at the new Fair Grounds. No change in the officers. Deaths for 1889 were 17.
The 1890 celebration was held at Wilton, September 3rd. Same officers were re-elected with addition of S.W. Stewart as a vice-president. The death roll for 1890 was 25.
Then followed a list of those who had died during 1891 up to date.
Muscatine’s poet, E.U. Cook, has gained a wide reputation through his “Forbidden Fruit” and other productions and the old settlers were very much pleased when he consented to write a poem for this occasion. He was introduced by President Walter and delivered the following excellent and highly appreciated production:
To My Friends of Forty Years Ago.
My heart begins its thumpen’ when I think of childhood’s days,
And of many things that with those days have passed,
And I cannot see things plainly ‘cause there seems to be a haze,
And a kind of glimmer o’er my eyes is cast:
Yet I love to think of childhood and the days when we were young,
And the many, many games we used to play,
And my heart begins to lighten when I hear the songs they sung,
In the days when you and I, my friends, were gay.
When the old folks come together, as we did this August morn,
And talk about the things of long ago,
About the jolly sleigh rides and the shuckens’ of the coril,
And the carpet rags we used to cut and sew;
About the old school houses and the pedagogues of yore,
About the girls we used to court at night,
About the way we used to dance upon the puncheon floor,
When the tallow dip gave forth its lurid light.
It makes my heart beat faster, brings the crimson to my cheek,
When I think of all that happened long ago,
Of the gay and jolly sled rides, when the wind blew cold and bleak,
And the oxen yanked the sled along the snow;
It’s a kind of a reminder of the many things we did,
Recalls to use our early childhood joys,
When we were little children, long before there was a kid,
When girls were girls and boys were only boys.
Ah, well do I remember, when the sled-load started out,
Of the shouts and yells and screams we used to hear;
That things would quiet down at last, we did not seem to doubt,
For love we knew would rule instead of fear.
I fell you we had jolly times, when you and I were young,
And crowded in that wagon-bed of straw,
Methinks no other songs as sweet as those that then were sung,
When we were ruled by love instead of law.
And when we’d reach the shucken’ and had thrown aside our coals,
And were searchen’ for the ears of scarlet hue,
There was somethen’ that kept sticken in the middle of our throats,
(I have felt it there myself and so have you;)
And when a fellow found one and had kissed the girl I brought,
And she smiled as if she liked the kiss quite well,
I never could find one and had kissed the girl I brought,
And she miled as if she liked the kiss quite well,
I never could find words to tell exactly what I thought,
But that thing within my throat began to swell.
When the shucken’ was all over there were apples then to peel,
And we used to save and count each apple seed.
And those with lucky numbers very happy then did fell,
But the hearts of many others seemed to bleed.
“Twas one I love, and two I love, and three I love, I say,”
How familiar are the lines we used to know,
While four was like the ones above, poor five was cast away,
And the lump within his throat began to grow.
Ah, well do I remember those old spellen’ schools of yore,
That were sometimes spoken of as spellen’ bees,
And how we use to stand in rows upon the puncheon floor,
Until we sometimes trembled at the knees
When the spellen’ match was over we would tremble once again,
‘Cause we didn’t know just what the girls would say;
But then we marched up to them just as big as grown-up men.
And when we got the answer, turned away.
And here is my friend, Walton, who was one time young and blithe,
And I’m told that he was handsome, long ago,
But now he’s just as crooked as the handle to a scythe,
But we love to speak of him as “Neighbor Joe.”
Now, it was just such chaps as he, who, at the spellen’ bees.
Did make our chances very, very slim,
And the reason that the rest of us would tremble at the knees,
Was wholly on account of boys like him.
And then those harvest dinners, that our mothers used to make,
Made me very glad when harvest time drew near,
For then the neighbor girls would come and pass the pie and cake,
And I wished that harvest lasted all the year.
It used to lighten labor just to have those girls about,
For there it was I first began to love,
And I think my wife will pardon me if I with joy should shout,
When I meet those girls in heaven up above.
Oh, give my boyhood back to me, with all its early scenes,
Yes, take away this broadcloth suit and give me back my jeans;
Yes, take away your painted sleighs, and give me back the sled;
Take out your leather cushioned seats and give me straw instead.
Tear down the mighty mansion, for the cabin in the lane,
And say to me, go back, my boy, and live this life again;
But if I could go back, my friends, and call these things all mine,
I’d want the same old girls we had, ‘way back in ’49.
Those girls that used to wash, and iron and milk and sew,
And in a pinch could be outdoors and help a fellow.
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I want to feel the grandeur of just such things as these;
I want to hear the screeching of the limbs amongst the trees;
I want to feel that same slight fear, as when I heard that sound,
When I was all alone myself and darkness all around.
I want to see these same old things, as they were long ago;
I want to hear the murmur of the brooklet’s gentle flow;
I want to hear the rustle of the wind among the trees,
I want to roll my pantaloons away above my knees,
And wade the ponds of water, as I did in days gone by;
I want to see the same big moon, the same blue vaulted sky;
I want to sleep the dreamless sleep, that only children know,
And breathe the gentle zephyrs, that in childhood seemed to blow.
Dispel all falsehood and deceit, oh, give me back the truth;
Yes, smooth these wrinkles from my brow, and give me back my youth;
Remove the sobs, and signs and groans, and change my hair from gray,
The rheumatism in my bones I wish you’d take away.
Yes, give me paregoric and a dose of catnip tea,
Vermifuge and things like that, I wish you’d give to me;
But take away the cares of life that come in later years,
And substitute the smiles of youth in place of bitter tears.
I want to hear the same old songs, that long ago were sung;
I want to wed the same dear girl, I wed when I was young;
Yes, I want to read the Bible, without a single doubt;
But when it comes to growing old, I want to leave that out.
Short speeches and general conversations were indulged in and greatly enjoyed by all. Little groups were scattered here and there listening to the interesting recollections of some early settler.
The dinner was a grand feast and it is needless to say was one of the most enjoyable features of the day. The old settlers and their guests took their appetites with them and all the delicacies of the season were spread on the festal board. Train time came all too soon and a happy crowd, some perhaps a little tired, returned to the city shortly after five o’clock, all feeling that the Old Settlers picnic of 1891 was the most enjoyable yet held.
The JOURNAL will endeavor to publish an account of the afternoon’s pleasures in to-morrow’s issue.
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Yesterday’s Good Time.
From Thursday’s Daily.
The Old Settler’s annual reunion and picnic, yesterday, was a most enjoyable occasion. The warm welcome extended by the hospitable residents of that part of the county who were awaiting the train’s arrival was greatly appreciated. The excellent arrangements for speakers stand, seats, etc., in that beautiful shady grove awakened the keen sense of enjoyment in all. It is estimated that there were fully 700 persons in the grove.
Besides the president’s paper, secretary’s report and E.U. Cook’s poem, printed in full in last evening’s JOURNAL, other interesting speeches and remarks were indulged in. W.S. Fultz related some interesting and highly enjoyed reminiscences and R. H. McCampbell made a heartily applauded speech.
A unanimous vote of thanks was voted to the owner of the grove as well as the neighbors and friends who so well provided for the enjoyment of the party.
The old officers were re-elected as follows:
1st Vice-President-John Barnard
2nd Vice President-S.W. Stewart
Treasurer-Mrs. P. Jackson
After a fine speech from R.M. Burnett, the Rev. A.B. Robbins made an address based on the sentiment, “The best thing to do this fall is to vote for prohibition,” meaning the Republican ticket. His remarks were well received.
The committee appointed to draft resolutions on the deaths of old settlers during the past year reported the following:
Whereas, Death has been busy in the ranks of the old settlers of Muscatine county, since our last annual meeting, and no less than twenty-two of our number have gone to the unknown land beyond the grave. Among those who had died were a number of the earliest settlers here. We would mention Mrs. Reece Hoopes, George Satterthwaite, Eden Brown, Mrs. A.M. Winn, Mrs. Asa Gregg, Alexander Clark, Mrs. Catherine Wallace and Isaac R. Mauck. After these came Wm. H. Marshall, George Manly, Charles Stone, J.A. Wilson, Rev. J.B. Hawley, B.H. Eversmeyer, Rev. M.G. Cass, Mrs. Jos. Heinly, Rev. John Hudson, Mrs. J.H. Wallace, John Shoemaker, Peter Healy, S. M. Thompson and Mrs. Maria Funk. Therefore,An enjoyable address by Joseph Bridgman elicited hearty applause.
Resolved, That as we bow to the will of the Almighty Father of all, in the removal from among us of these members of our society, we will cherish in loving remembrance their social virtues, their patriotism and their honest labors in the upbuilding of this part of our noble State and the share they took in the development of Muscatine county.
We extend to their relative and friends our kindest sympathies, and record these proceedings in the minutes of our society.
- Samuel McNutt,
- R.H. McCampbell,
- Alex Jackson,
The meeting then adjourned to take the train for home, which arrived over an hour later than it was promised. The train also lacked by one car the accommodations in the morning and there was a consequent necessity for uncomfortable crowding. However, a little thing like that for a ride of only eight miles did not make the party forget the general pleasure so fully enjoyed during the day, and it was a well pleased train load that returned from Hechtner’s grove.
Annual Reunion at Hechtner’s Grove near Nichols.
The Old Settlers of Muscatine county have the cinch on the weather, as the President of their society has been the meteorological regulator for this section of Iowa for over a quarter of a century. Having also the appointment of the reunions in his hands, President Walton is able to select a day for these celebrations, which in blueness of sky and sunshine, is an idyl in summer beauty, and in cold and blizzard an epic of winter, for in those winter days the Old Settlers rather preferred enough bluster of snow without to give zest to the fireside. This explains why yesterday was such a charming day, not especially in the city, but out in Hechtner’s Grove, on the verge of Elephant Swamp where the breezes were in the habit for centuries of blowing across the prehistoric lake and still keep it up on the hottest day in summer, thought the lake is now the fat pasturage of herds of cattle.
There were some over 300 left Muscatine on the morning train for Hechtner’s Grove, and this number was swelled to six or seven hundred from neighboring townships ere the enjoyment of the day had fairly begun. After time had been given for greetings of old acquaintances and the admiration of the grove, President Walton called the assembly together, and the stand exercises proceeded in the following order:
Prayer by the chaplain, Rev. A.B. Robbins, D.D.
Address, by President J.P. Walton.
Poems, by E.U. Cook, Esq., author of “Forbidden Fruit.”
Report of Secretary, Peter Jackson.
Speeches from W.S. Fultz, R. M. Burnett, R.H. McCampbell, Joseph Bridgman and Dr. Robbins.
Selections from “Forbidden Fruit,” read by the author.
The great feature of the day was the picnic dinner whose sumptuousness revived recollections of the “brag cooks” of pioneer days and the unequaled hospitality and sociability of that period, and was seasoned with those dear old stories and jokes which never seem to lose their freshness and flavor from oft telling.
President Walton’s address was largely occupied with a comparison between the present and fifty years ago which, will suggest itself to the general reader. In closing Mr. Walton gave his reminiscences of Pike township as follows: (article piece incomplete)
The report of Secretary Jackson included a statistical history of the Old Settlers’ Society, which was organized Feb. 9, 1856. The report will be a valuable addition to the records of the society.
The short speeches from the gentlemen we have named sparkeled with wit and reminiscence, blended with not a little pathos withal, and Dr. Robbins laid his injunction upon Mr. Fultz, Peter Jackson and others, to vote the Prohibition ticket, meaning the republican ticket, for the Doctor is no Third Party man.
On motion of Frank Geiger, the old officers of the society were re-elected, as follows:
President, J.P. Walton.
Vice President, John Barnard.
2d Vice President, Sam. Stewart.
Secretary, Peter Jackson.
Much complaint was made over the want of train accommodation going out in the morning, and a loud shout was raised at evening when the home-bound train hove in sight with only one coach and a caboose. The party had been promised a return train at 4 p.m. at which time they adjourned, collected the baskets and gathered at the track. But when, after waiting two hours, this forlorn outfit came puffing into view, President Walton came near falling in a dead faint. Finally an empty box car was procured and the picnickers with a majority of their number packed aboard like sardines, started for home. Fancy Father Bridgman perched in the cupola of a cab; the venerable Samuel Sinnett and ex-Mayor Fitzgerald, hanging their legs and feet from the rear platform conversing upon the corn crop. Uncle Abijah Winn, President Walton, Mr. Burnett and other veterans jammed into a three-foot aisle, with the mercury at 120 in the car, with many prominent citizens astride the top of the train, and faith, the reporter of the NEWS-TRIBUNE that missed the morning train and went by way of Wilton and West Liberty, walking form the latter place to Nichols, and driving over to the “reunion” only to find that it was over, felt, before Muscatine was reached, that he had lots of company in the luck of the day. But these discomforts were but temporary, and were but spots on the sun’s disc compared with the pleasures of the reunion.
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