submitted by Ronna Thuman, November 14, 2007

The Late Moses Couch---Meeting of the Old Settlers.

A meeting of the Old Settlers was held in the City Hall, this forenoon, to take action concerning the demise of their long-time associate, Moses Couch. President D. C. Richman and Secretary Jackson were in their places. The following were among the other old settlers present: Suel Foster, Jos. Bridgman, J. J. Hoopes, Z. Washburn, Henry Molis, A. Smalley, M. Block, V. Chambers, J. P. Walton and C. Kegel.

The President opened the proceedings with a few appropriate remarks, in which he alluded appreciatingly and feelingly to the character of the deceased.

Suel Foster then read the following paper:

    Another of our early settlers has fallen—Moses Couch, the earliest of the early that remained, and now that title falls upon another, and soon that one will fall; and soon from the middle of our ranks, which are fast thinning out, and soon the last of this honored band of brothers and sisters will be gone; but their arduous and faithful labor of founding a State, a county and city, will long remain, monuments of their wisdom and patriotism.

    Few men in any country have ever performed their part more faithfully and trustworthily than our departed friend. Very few now remain here who knew of the kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Couch in their timely assistance to the sick in the hour of distress and privation. In the years 1838-40 their house, a comfortable frame, on Water street, three doors above the Avenue, was much of the time filled with the sick in summer and fall. In most cases of sickness nursing is better than medicine and the skillful, kind and willing hands of our friends, in their new home, can never be forgotten by the many recipients of these favors. Among them the writer remembers himself, Col. T. M. Isett, Pliny Fay, B. F. Howland and others.

    A very affecting scene occurred at their house in 1840, I believe. Mr. Charles Dana, a merchant from the east, had opened a stock of goods here, and he and wife and boy of about six years, were taken to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Couch as boarders. Mr. Dana was taken sick with a violent fever—the boy also. The father died, and the child followed the next day, and both were buried in the same grave, leaving the affectionate and heart-broken widow and mother among strangers, far from home or relatives, but she was among new friends. Mrs. Dana returned from the grave, like a marble monument of grief. Mother Reece saw the great affliction, and clasped her in her arms with the words: “My child, my child!” when for the first time on that occasion a flood of tears with great sympathy found utterance for the broken heart and gushed forth and gave relief. Mrs. Dany was the daughter of Rev. Dr. Palmer, of South Carolina, and this was the occasion for her writing the beautiful poem entitled—

    “Passing Under the Rod.”

    She having passed under the rod, gave the true inspiration to the poem. Such were the scenes of our early settlement.

    On coming from Connecticut to the west, Mr. Couch and wife were one or two years in Southern Illinois, near Greenville; thence, in 1836, one year at Burlington; thence, to Muscatine. Here they have resided ever since, except a few years when they resided in Chicago.

    Mr. Couch was not only Recorder of this city, as stated by the JOURNAL, but he was elected Probate Judge of the county previous to Pliny Fay holding that office, and he was called by his title. “Judge Couch,” for some years. The winter of 1837-8, Mr. and Mrs. Couch returned to Burlington, and kept a boarding house to accommodate members of the legislature, holding its session there. When a young man Mr. Couch learned the tanner’s trade. This work and hardship in early life fitted him for a pioneer settler.

M. Block spoke in eulogy of the deceased and earnestly in favor of more faithful attendance at the old settlers’ meetings.

J. Bridgman followed, saying his mind was exceedingly exercised. The deceased brother was always prompt in attendance at these meetings; at the last one he presided; there is now a vacant chair; it is like one taken form the family circle. We come here with sad hearts, and yet it is a melancholy pleasure to thus pay tribute to the memory of those who shared with us the privations of pioneer life and were thus bound together with the cords of affection.

V. Chambers, R. Williams and others followed with remarks, when a motion was adopted to have the above paper of Suel Foster spread upon the minutes of the society.

On motion of J. Bridgman, a committee or resolutions, consisting of Suel Foster, D. C. Richman and J. J. Hoopes, was appointed.

It was then resolved that the Old Settlers will attend the funeral in a body, and the following from among their number were appointed pall bearers:

    Suel Foster,
    J. G. H. Little,
    J. P. Walton,
    J. J. Hoopes,
    P. Jackson,
    V. Chambers.

After instructing the society to give notice of the next annual meeting in October, the meeting adjourned.


WHEREAS, In the providence of God, and by His laws of human life, Moses Couch, a prominent and beloved member of the band of old Settlers, departed this life Sept. 23, 1879, at the ripe age of 76 years.

Resolved, That we bear testimony that his life of more than forty years among us has not been useless and in vain, but that of kindness, usefulness and industry in establishing this city and county upon the sure foundation of Christianity, and true republican form of government, and is his early settlement here, we with gratitude acknowledge his many privations, services, benevolence and kindness, and to him and to Mrs. Couch many sincere heartfelt thanks are due and hereby offered.

Resolved, That the Old Settlers be requested to attend the funeral in procession.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be handed to the widow and family; and that they be handed to the papers for publication.

The funeral of the deceased will take place at 2 ½ o’clock to-morrow afternoon from the family residence on Third street, under the direction of the Old Settlers.


At the funeral this afternoon, there was a large attendance of the Old Settlers, each of whom dropped a sprig of evergreen in the grave. The religious exercises were conducted by Rev. W. H. Gallagher, assisted by Dr. Robbins.

Death of Moses Couch.

“Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the North-wind’s breath,
And stars to set; but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death!”

At noon to-day an old and much-respected citizen of Muscatine departed this life. Moses Couch, who for more than forty-three years, has gone in and out amongst us as a friend and neighbor, is no more. His death, though it will cast a gloom over the community, was not unexpected, as it has been generally known for a week or two that he was suffering from an illness from which there was but slight hope of recovery. He was taken about three weeks since with paralysis of the kidneys, which gradually grew worse and on last Sabbath he become unconscious, remaining in that condition till he died.

Moses Couch was born in Reading, Conn., March 26th, 1803, and was therefore in his 77th year. He came west among the first pioneers who settled in this locality, having settled here in 1836. With the possible exception of Suel Foster, he was the oldest resident of this city, Mr. Foster, we believe, coming here a few months earlier. In the original records of Bloomington (as our city was then called) is preserved an abstract of the first election held in this place, at the house of R. C. Kinny, May 6th, 1839, which shows that Moses Couch was elected Recorder, receiving 29 of the 39 votes polled. Subsequently he was appointed city treasurer. These were the days, however, when offices were not sought for their emoluments. The subject of this sketch was not a politician by trade. His occupation was painting and glazing, which he pursued quietly and in the even tenor of his way for many years, acquiring such a competence that with care and economy it served him as a support when he was obliged to quit active duties of life, which he did a number of years ago. He was one of the first to ornament that part of the city now known as “the Hill” with a fine residence, having more than twenty years ago built the dwelling now occupied by J. Carskaddan, Esq.

The life of the deceased was not an eventful one. He lived quietly and peaceably with all—a kind friend and neighbor and a good citizen. Not like some who live for themselves only, he had a sympathetic heart. He was ready to aid every good work.. He felt a sympathy for others’ woes. He was ever cheerful and companionable, and had perhaps more friends and fewer enemies than any other man in the community. In religion, he was a firm and conscientious Episcopalian. In politics, he was a staunch Republican.

Mr. Couch leaves a wife and an adopted son. The bereaved wife has for nearly half a century walked the pathway of life with him. Readers of the JOURNAL will remember that last January there was an informal meeting of old settlers at their house to congratulate them on the forty-ninth anniversary of their wedding. This event took place in the Methodist Church at Middletown, Conn., on Sabbath evening, Jam. 17th, 1830, when Moses Couch and Mary A. Plum were pronounced man and wife by Rev. Mr. Burch. Had both of the venerable couple survived till the 17th of next January our old settlers would have celebrated their golden wedding in a fitting manner. But Death has decreed other wise.

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