MUSCATINE COUNTY IOWA

HISTORY

WILTON, MOSCOW
and
YESTERYEAR
1776-1976

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Picture: Picnic at Beautiful Resley's Lake - Courtesy E.F.W. Maurer
Art Wacker is the boy at the extreme left and Ed Maurer is at the extreme right. The girls are a group from the Lutheran Church. Henry Maurer, rear left, took the picture by pulling a cord attached to the camera shutter.

The Wilton Prairie
by E.F.W. Maurer

Transcribed by Sarah Boye, July 11, 2015

    In 1776 this part of the country, which I shall call the Wilton Prairie was an unspoiled, virgin wonderland of flowers in the spring and summer. It was inhabited by the native red man and the wild game which he hunted for sustenance. This prairie extended from Elkhorn Creek on the east side to Sugar Creek on the west and Mud Creek on the south to Otter Creek and the hills on the north.- altogether about 8 square miles. There were no trees on this prairie as their roots could not penetrate the sod. The only timber was along the creek banks.

     For 73 years this prairie remained unchanged until an immigrant from Switzerland, Christian Marolf, settled here on 80 acres of land bought from the government in 1849. The east boundary of this property is now Cedar street in Wilton and Mr. Marolf built his cabin just north of 6th street near the location of the first Lutheran church. Two years later, in 1851, Benedict Maurer, my grandfather, settled on the 80 acre tract adjoining Mr. Marolf's land on the east side which is now North Wilton. His cabin was built where the Herbert Wacker home now stands. This log cabin had a loft above, where my dad slept. In the wintertime when it was snowing and blowing his bed clothes would often be covered in snow which had sifted through the cracks.

     One of the dangers which the pioneers faced was the prairie fire which usually came from the south. It would jump Mud Creek and my grandfather would get out the oxen and plow furrows around the cabin and barn so they would not catch fire. After the fire the prairie would burst forth in brilliant colors. It was beautiful!

     The land where the Wilton business district now stands was a swamp at that time. My dad told me that when he took the horses to water down at Mud Creek he could not see over the top of the slough grass even though he was on horseback. There were many prairie chickens and quail in those days and their
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Picture: Fred Maurer Family Picnic at Resley's Lake- courtesy of E.F.W. Maurer. Fred Maurer is standing in boat fishing, Ed and his sisters eat watermelon on the shore.

numbers increased as the prairie was cultivated and there was more food for them. There were also rattlesnakes in the tall grass and one of my grandfather's yoke of oxen was bitten by a rattlesnake. It did not die, but got as thin as a rail.

     What I have written is just as said as my father, Fred Maurer, told it to me. He often mentioned the prairie and flowers when he talked about bygone days and what a beautiful sight it was to see the prairie blossom out in all its colors. I can just hear him say, "it was beautiful".

     But the prairie was doomed to destruction as farmers broke the sod and started to raise a crop which was easily done in the virgin, rich, black earth. Much of the soil is now going down the Mississippi River.

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     Remember when the first warm day of spring was the beginning of the marble season? The school yard was crowded with boys with pockets full of marbles. Wilton boys played marbles with a pot instead of the customary ring. A hole or "pot" was made in teh soft ground by spinning around the heel of a shoe. The players rolled the marbles toward the pot. If the boys were playing "for keeps" the winner got both marbles. To heighten the interest each boy might put extra marbles into the pot at the beginning of a game with a "winner take all" agreement. The common kinds of marbles were "commies", "aggies", "glassies", Cornelians and, infrequently, ball bearings.

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Page created July 11, 2015 by Lynn McCleary