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EARLY HISTORY of the LESANVILLE NEIGHBORHOOD


Prepared and Submitted to The Mount Ayr Record-News by Arthur L. LESAN

May, 1931

Early history of the neighborhood of Leasanville in Poe township, Ringgold county, Iowa, and some of the surrounding territory, with a few personal narratives as gleaned from the early settlers and from my own recollections. - Arthur L. LESAN, 1931.

NOTE: Lesan or Lesanville was a former rail town along the CB&Q Railroad, located approximately 5 miles east of Mount Ayr, holding a post office from 1884 until 1889. Currently it is a ghost town, kept alive by a working living history farm.

A STATEMENT IN REGARD TO THE FOLLOWING NARRATIVES.

Dear Editor and Readers of the Record-News: When I wrote the following narratives in regard to the early history of Lesanville I had no idea of having them published. I began them early in January of this year as a pastime and to divert my mind, temporarly, from other things that were absorbing my thoughts. After writing about one page, I conceived the idea that perhaps I could write something that would be of some interest to my children and grand children and perhaps to a few intimate friends. I therefore cast aside the page already written and began again. I was handicapped right from the start as I had no records, notes or anything to refer to. I had to depend on memory entirely. The first years, of course, were from memory of what I had heard from the old settlers. After the first few years it is mostly from my own recollections. When I was in Mount Ayr in March I sumitted the article to a few of my friends. Some of them asked me why I did not give it to the Record-News for publication. Sam SPURRIER, editor of the Record-News, had been informed of what I had been doing, and asked me about it. I then submitted the article to him for perusal. He offered to publish it, and I finally promised that after I had made a few minor corrections and added a few pages that I did not have with me, I would send it to him.

It may not be absolutely correct in every particular, but it is as nearly so as my memory recalls them, and my personal recollections extends back for more than 70 years. Most of it I know is correct and I think all is, but I am willing to be corrected. I will be pleased to have anyone who feels so disposed to write me, either to criticise or to commend it.

Now read the article and pass judgment upon it.

ARTHUR L. LESAN,
I.O.O.F. Home, Mason City, Iowa.

May 3, 1931, the 76th anniversary of the arrival of the LESANS and LEES, the founders of Lesanville, in Ringgold county, Iowa.

emigrants.jpg

Early in the winter of 1855, George W. LESAN made a trip from his home in Illinois to Ringgold county, Iowa. After looking over the county a short time, he decided upon a location and bought land from the government for himself, his brother, David M. LESAN [1828-1907], and his brother-in-law, Carlos LEE, in what is now Poe township, and then returned to Illinois. In the spring of 1855 these three men with their young wives and two young men, Soloman B. LESAN, brother of George and David LESAN, and James LEE, brother of Carlos LEE, emigrated to Ringgold county, Iowa. For the conveyance of themselves, and their household goods (which were very limited) they used two or three yoke of oxen and one span of horses.

They arrived in Ringgold county May 3, 1855, and began immediately the making of homes for themselves. They first built a log house for G. W. LESAN on the N. W. quarter of section one (1). Before it was completed they moved from their covered wagons into it and for a while they all lived together.

After completing the house, they broke up some of the prairie and planted some garden and a little corn on the sod so as to have a few vegetables for the summer and fall and a little corn for the next winter. After doing this they again went to house building and built one on the S.W. quarter of section one (1) for D. M. LESAN, and one on the N.E. quarter of section eleven (11) for Carlos LEE. After that each family occupied their own house. When they located there, there was but one house within eight miles of them, and that was the home of Elon IMUS on section thirty-five in what is now Liberty township. The next nearest were the homes of John A. LESAN [1832-1905], Mrs. IMUS (the mother of Mrs. John A. LESAN and also the mother of L. O. IMUS [Leonard Orlando IMUS, 1847-1934], now of Liberty township), Peter DOZE, and perhaps a few others in what is now Washington township, about three miles northwest of Mount Ayr.

To the north of them there was the home of Stanberry WRIGHT and perhaps another family or town, near the southwest corner of what is now Union township. South of them in the neighborhood of Caledonia there was a small settlement.

After completing the house building they devoted their time to breaking up the prairie sod, making rails, building stables, fences, etc., getting ready for the coming winter. During the winter they continued to make rails and build fences preparatory to putting in a crop the next spring.

During the summer of 1855 a few other families located in the neighborhood, just north of them in what is now Liberty township. Among them were the families L. S. TERWILLIGER Sr. [Levi Stockwell, 1812-1893], (grandfather of Day [1870-1956], Mack and Gay TERWILLIGER of Liberty and Poe townships), Thos. ARMSTRONG and the NOBLES family.

In July of 1855 a very important event happened in Liberty township. A girl baby, Mary Jane, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas ARMSTRONG. She enjoyed the distinction of being the first while child born in Liberty township and for some time the distinction of being the only baby in the township. Mary Jane ARMSTRONG is now Mrs. Lew WEBLE, of Mount Ayr. I am quite sure that she is the oldest person living that was born in Ringgold county.

About four months after that event a similar one happened in what is now Poe township. On November 22, 1855, a boy baby, Arthur, was born to Mr. and Mrs. David M. LESAN. He enjoyed for some time the distinction of being the only baby in Poe township.

In June of 1855, after the location of Mount Ayr, Barton B. DUNNING [1809-1877] and family located there and built the first house erected in Mount Ayr. In December [5] of 1855 another important even happened. A baby boy, Charley [Charles B. DUNNING, 1855-1880], was born to Mr. and Mrs. Barton B. DUNNING. He enjoyed the distinction of being the first child born in Mount Ayr and for some time, that of being the only baby in the town. Up to that time the boy babies out numbered the girl baby, two to one. I don't know how long that proportion kept up.

In 1856 several new homes were established in and around the LESAN neighborhood. The neighborhood soon became known as Lesanville and will hereafter be so spoken of in there narratives. The neighborhood north of it became known as the ARMSTRONG neighborhood and the one south as the SALTZMAN neighborhood.

Schools.

I think there was no school house in Poe township until 1861. The first school that I attended was in a log school house situated in Liberty township about a mile north of our home. It was taught by J. Q. PATTERSON, who lived for many years in the neighborhood of Caledonia. That was in the fall of 1860.

The first school held in Lesanville district was held in the kitchen of my father's log house and was taught by Dr. WHITE, who lived a short time in the neighborhood. That was the winter of 1860 and 61. The next summer, a school house was built just across the road east and a little north of the present home of George VANCE [1891-1979], on the S.W. quarter of the S. W. quarter of section one (1).

The first school in the new school house was the winter of 1861 and 62, and was taught by Mr. RANDLES. The teachers who followed him during my school day up to the spring of 1873, were as follows (I can not give them in their correct order but here is the list): Miss Lizzie CUMMINS, Miss Elmira LITTLE, John ABBOTT, Mrs. BULLOCK, J. E. LESAN, J. P. LESAN, George W. LESAN [unknown-1913], Mrs. M. M. LESAN, J. A. LESAN [John A. LESAN, 1831-1905], Geo. M. LESAN [unknown-1911], Stephen DWIRE, and Milton SULLIVAN. Of these Miss CUMMINS, J. E. LESAN [Joseph E. LESAN, 1845-1917], J. P. LESAN and Geo. M. LESAN taught two or more terms each.

After teaching two terms of school in 1873, one in the southwest corner of Monroe township and one in the northwest corner of Athens township, I again attended the Leasonville school during the fall of 1873, with Miss Hattie ABERNATHY as teacher. That ended my schooling in Lesanville.

In 1874 or '75, a new school house was built on the S. E. corner of section two (2), where it still stands.

The families who lived in Lesanville district at some time or other from the time of the earliest settlers, down to and including 1873, when I completed my schooling there, were as near as I can recall them as follows: Geo. W. LESAN, D. M. LESAN, Carlos Lee, Dr. WHITE, L. S. TERWILLIGER, Sr., L. S. TERWILLIGER, Jr. [Levi Stockwell TERWILLINGER, Jr., 1841-1916], George TERWILLIGER, Andrew HIMES, Samuel McKNIGHT, Robert ATKINSON, William ATKINSON, Aleck FRAZER, Jim FRAZER, Geo. STACY, Chris SALTZMAN [1836-1915], Alma KENT, Andrew JACKSON, Minor SMITH, J. S. DENNISON, J. P. LESAN, William CLARK, F. A. BROWN, Ed GERARD, J. P. LYONS, Mrs Matilda Ann IMUS, Jerry MORFORD, Mrs. "Cal" DAVIS, W. H. BRADLEY, ** JONES, ** BULLOCK, ** GALLOWAY, ** BRIDGES, ** COOLEY, Sam MURPHY, and Mrs. ** SHEPHERD. The MUPRHY and SHEPHERD families were colored people.

At the time of writing these narratives (1931) there is but one person of this number who continues to reside there, viz., Mrs. L. S. [Sarah] TERWILLIGER, Jr., now usually known as Grandma TERWILLIGER [1849-1934]. She lives on the old homestead of L. S. TERWILLIGER, Sr., and L. S. TERWILLIGER Jr., with her son, Gay TERWILLIGER. Of the others, eight died in Lesanville, viz., Carlos LEE, Minor SMITH, Mrs. Dr. WHITE, Mrs. Robert ATKINSON, Sam MURPHY, Mr. and Mrs. L. S. [Levi Stockwell and Sarah] TERWILLIGER, Jr.

All the others moved out of the district and as far as I know all have died except Mrs. J. P. LESAN, who now resides in Seattle, Washington.

There are, however, a few descendants of these early settlers living in the district at the present time as follows: Three children of Mr. and Mrs. Chris SALTZMAN, viz., Mrs. George AXTELL, Frank SALTZMAN, Bert SALTZMAN; and two grandchildren, viz., Mrs. Gay TERWILLIGER and Leo SALTZMAN; two children of Mr. and Mrs. L. S. TERWILLIGER, Jr., viz., Mack and Gay TERWILLIGER, and one granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. W. LESAN, Mrs. Geo. VANCE.

All the others who died there (including two children of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. W. LESAN, one child of Mr. and Mrs. D. M. LESAN, two children of Mr. and Mrs. Carlos LEE, one child of Mr. and Mrs. William PARSONS, one child of Mr. and Mrs. J. A. LESAN of Liberty township, a child of Mr. and Mrs. Ben DAY, and a woman by the name of IMUS (I think she was the wife of Dan IMUS) were buried in a temporary burying ground on Geo. W. LESAN's land. It was situated about a quarter of a mile west and a little south of where Mack TERWILLIGER now lives.

In 1872, the "Sweet Home Cemetery Association" was organized and the location of the cemetery decided upon. The land for the cemetery was donated by Geo. W. LESAN. The land was surveyed and laid off into lots.

The first person buried there was a child of Mr. and Mrs. J. P. LESAN. Soon after that the bodies of all those who had been buried in the old burying ground, excepting the bodies of Mrs. ATKINSON, Mrs. IMUS and the Ben DAY child, were moved to the new cemeteries. The bodies of the three which were not moved, still rest still rest in the old burying ground. I doubt if its location can be identified by very many people now living.

Neighborhood Schools.

In the early days school districts were not of uniform size as the most of them are of today. When there was a neighborhood with school children enough to justify, a district would be organized and a school house built at the place decided upon by a majority of the voters. Sometimes that caused considerable strife and dissatisfaction, and the school house should have been built on wheels or runners so as to be easily moved as the whims of the voters distated.

The first school district in the southeast corner of Liberty township embraced all of what is now sub-district No. 7, and a large part of No. 8, and I think a part of Nos. 5 and 6. The first school house in that district was a log house east of Grand River [the actual river, not the town of Grand River north in Decatur County]. The second one, a frame house, was built west of Grand River. Some time later the district was divided. I think Grand river (sic) was made the division line. The east district not only took in all the territory of the old district east of the river, but a strip about a half mile wide in Monroe township was added to it, and the school house was built one and a half miles north of the Poe township line and a quarter of a mile west of the Monroe township line, and became known as the Jackson School. (I taught the school there the winter of 1875 and '76.)

A few years afterwards, the districts of Liberty township were made two miles square. The district in the southeast corner became sub-district No. 7 and the name Mountain Brush was given it. The school house was moved to the center of the district where it is still located. That part of the district lying in Monroe township was attached to sub-district No. 9 (Woodland district) in Monroe township. I taught in the Woodland district the winter of 1880 and '81, and the summer of 1881, in the Mountain Brush district the winter of 1883 and '84 and the summer of 1884.

The first school taught in the SALTZMAN dstrict (sic) was held in the SALTZMAN's smoke house with L. P. LESAN as teacher. I can not tell what year it was, but I visited the school several times during the term. The house as near as I can guess was about 10x16 feet. About six feet in the back end of the room was partitioned off, in which the smoked meat was still hanging and other household supplies were stored during the term of school. The front room was the school room. There was just an open doorway between the two rooms. Whenever the family wanted anything from the store room (which was used often) they had to pass through the school room even during school hours.

Some time a little later a school house was built on section 13, 1 half mile or a little more south of the Chris SALTZMAN corner, where it remained for several years and was then moved about a half mile south to the center of the district where it is still located.

In the district west of the Leasonville district the first school house was built just across the road from the Liberty township line and about three quarters of a mile west of the L. S. TERWILLIGER homestead, and was called the "Parker" school house. Later it was moved about a half mile west and a mile south to the southeast corner of section 4. In later years a new school house was built on the northwest corner of section 10.

The schools of the early days were somewhat different from the schools of today (1931). There was not the system that we find in our schools of today. There was no prescribed course of study, there was no grading in the country schools and in many other ways they differed from the school of today. Each teacher arranged his own program of recitations and assigned such lessons as he best could from such text books as the scholars happened to have, and in some schools there was quite a variety of text books. The schools were opened promptly at nine o'clock. Almost invariably the schools that I was familar with were opened by the teacher reading a portion of scripture, without comment, and the school repeating the Lord's prayer, in concert, led by the teacher. Sometimes a song would be sung.

Usually at 10:15 o'clock the teacher would say, "Boys, lay aside your books and pass quietly out of the room." This was for the boys to have a 15-minute recess. At the end of the 15 minutes he would call them in, usually by ringing a bell or by pounding on the side of the house with a stick or anything that came handy. After the boys were in and seated the same procedure would be had with the girls. The boys always sat on the left hand side of the house, and the girls on the right hand side as you entered the house.

About the middle of the afternoon the recesses would be given again the same as had been given in the forenoon. Quite often on Friday, after the afternoon recesses a special program would be given, consisting of speaking, reading, singing, spelling, etc.

Besides my schooling at Lesanville I attended the Mount Ayr school two or three months at two different times. I can not give the exact dates, but I think they were between 1868 and 1871. The Mount Ayr school at that time was divided into two departments, "high school" and "primary." Each department had a whole house to itself. Both were frame houses and were located on the block where Harry ABRAMS now lives. The first time I attended there, J. F. MOUNT, a young attorney who lived in Mount Ayr for several years, was the teacher. The second time it was taught by William BUCK, late of Washington township.

I will not say that the schools of the early days were superior, or even equal to our schools of today, for I think great progress has been made and that the schools of today are more efficient than ever before. I will say, however, that the schools of the early days filled their place and filled it well, and that the early settlers, are to be commended for the interest they took in school matter, thereby paving the way to the excellent system we have today (1931).

Religious Services.

I don't know as I can remember the first religious service in or near Leasonville. I presume not, but I remember that when I was a very small boy, a Freewill Baptist preacher from Illinois visited our people and preached at least once in our home. I think they called him Elder FAST. He was an old acquaintance of our people. I distinctly remember the small hymn books that he sold in the neighborhood. Aside from that the first religious services that I remember of were held in the home of L. S. TERWILLIGER, Sr. Mr. TERWILLIGER at the time lived on section 35 in Liberty township, just across the road north of where he later built and moved to, where Gay TERWILLIGER, of Poe township, now lives.

Mr. TERWILLIGER owned the largest house in the community. It was a log house containing three large rooms. He volunteered to allow the community to hold religious services in one room of his house. The offer was gladly accepted and a Sabbath school was organized. That must have been in 1859. A short time before that, my grandfather, John LESAN, Sr., had located in Poe township, about a mile west of Mr. TERILLIGER's. He became the leader in all religious activities and was made the Sabbath school superintendent.

Sabbath schools were not conducted in those days as they are now. There were no such things as uniform lessons where all the schools studied the same lesson, but each school adopted its own plan. Usually a chapter from the New Testament would be read and the teacher would ask questions about it and would explain to the class the meaning of it. After the class period the superintendent would talk to the children and tell them Bible stories. Well do I remember some of the stories Grandfather LESAN told us of some of the Old Testament characters. Among them the story of Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, David, Goliath, Solomon, Daniel and others.

They had no regular preaching, but as often as they could secure a preacher they had preaching after the Sabbath school hour. If they had no preaching they would usually hold class and prayer meeting.

After the school house was built in Lesanville the place of meetings was changed to the school house. As was the custom in most of the country neighborhoods, the Sabbath school was only kept open from about the first of April to about the last of October. That custom was kept up for a number of years, and then an effort was made by the "Ringgold County Sabbath School Association" to induce as many schools as possible to become an "evergreen" school.

After moving the meeting place to the school house they found more preachers, available to preach there than at the former place. While for some time they had no regular preacher nor any church organization, yet about once a month someone could be had to preach. Among the preachers who preached there, I remember the following: Rev. LAYTON of Monroe township, Rev. DENNIS of Middle Fork township, Rev. SEIMILLER of near BLOCKTON, Rev. WILLIAMS who at the breaking out of the Civil War became chaplin in Company G of the 29th Iowa infantry, and Rev. SMITH (son of the "Prophet" Joe SMITH, the founder of the "Morman" church) and perhaps others I cannot recall just now.

In some ways the church services of 70 years ago were conducted quite differently than they are today. It would be quite interesting and amusing to the young people of the middle aged of today if they could step into the place of one of these services. Perhaps the first thing they would notice would be that as they entered the door, the men and women separate, the men and boys going to the left and the women and girls (and small children) going to the right side of the room where they would sit during the service.

The singing would be quite different from what it is today. In the first place, there would be no choir nor any musical instrument. They would also notice the scarcity of song books, and what few there were contained only the words of the hymns; no music to guide them. The preacher would announce the hymn and read it, and announce the "meter" it was to be sung to, then the congregation would know what tune to sing it to. He would then line the hymn, that is, he would read two lines of the hymn and then the congregation would sing them, and then he would read two more lines and they would be sung. Occasionally, if the hymn was a very familiar one the preacher would announce that it would be sung without lining. Then only those who had books and those who had memorized the hymn could sing.

If they were attending an evening service they would notice that the lighting was by tallow candles stuck around on the window sash, table, or some other convenient place by dropping a little of the hot tallow on the place it was to be put and then sticking the candle to it. If another evening service were announced it would be something like the following: "Preaching here next Sunday night at early candle lighting, if no preventing Providence. Each family requested to bring a candle." Sometimes some family would bring a candle-stick for the candle that would be used. . .[missing section].

...[missing section]...We prepared to camp for the night by fixing our bed on top of the load. Soon it began to rain hard and to our dismay the water began to run through the hay roof onto us. We got up and piled up the load in the middle of the wagon in the shape of a house roof, and covered it with a wagon sheet, and some other covering he had for use in case of an emergency. Father fixed a bed for us in as dry a place as he could find in the shed and we retired again for the night. When I awoke, just at daylight, father was putting the harness on the horses. Just then the man who lived there came to the wagon with a gun in his hands. He very angrily demanded to know where that dog of ours was. Father told him that we had no dog. He replied that he knew better and that he wanted a crack at him. Father again assured him that we had no dog and asked him what he meant. He then said that our dog had killed two or three of his sheep, and that he wanted the dog and the pay for the sheep. Father told him that he was welcome to any dog he could find around there, but he would not pay for any dead sheep. Quite a number of words followed and both were getting pretty angry, when finally the man turned suddenly to me and said, "Bub, what is your dog's name?" I told him that we had no dog now, for somebody "pizened" him, that his name was Penny. Just then a woman called to him from the house, that a dog was running across the prairie toward the north. He jumped on a horse and started after it full tilt. Father called to him wishing him good luck. Before he returned we were on our way home. I don't know whether he got the dog or not.

It had cleared off and the sun was shining brightly, but the roads were very muddy. The nearest house on our road was the home of Isaac OLLIVER [1827-1895] of Monroe township. Just before we reached the OLLIVER home there was a pretty good sized slough to cross. The bridge had been partially washed away, so we could not cross until we could repair it. Fortunately there was enough drift material close by, so that after some delay, we were able to renew our journey homeward. As near as I can remember it was about the middle of the afternoon when we arrived home. Several of the neighbors, some of them from several miles away, were at our home waiting to get their share of the grist.

A little later on a few mills were located closer to us. The nearest one that I can remember was owned by William LAYTON, of Monroe township. (He later built and moved across the road into Liberty township.) It was a horse-power mill. He also had a sawmill and did sawing of logs into lumber. There was also the KNEEDLER mill near Caledonia. The next nearest one that I remember was at Marshalltown, about five or six miles west of Mount Ayr. I am not sure that they did grinding there, but I suppose they did. I know they did quite a business with the sawmill. There was also a brick yard located there in a very early day. I think it was the first one in Ringgold county. Joseph "Joe" SALTZMAN, of Poe township, also had a brick yard in quite an early day. Most of the lumber used in and around Lesanville in the very early days of the settlement was hauled from the mills located on Thompson Grand River. [NOTE: There had been some controversy over the name of the river. Early accounts called it "Grand River" then later the name "Thompson" was adopted. Finally, resolving the dispute, the name of the river was changed back to "Grand River."] I remember that Geo. W. LESAN, D. M. LESAN and I suppose L. S. TERWILLIGER, Sr., hauled the lumber for their barns, and later most of it for their frame houses, when they built them, from there. Soon afterwards through a man by the name of TEMPLE located a mill on section 2 of Poe township. For some time the principal business of the neighborhood was that of logging. Most of the large trees along the creeks for a few miles either way from the mill were cut and hauled to the mill. They were sawed and thereby the neighborhood was pretty well supplied with native lumber. Soon afterwards L. S. TERWILLIGER, Jr. located one in about the same place and it remained there as long as the supply of logs would justify, and then, if I remember correctly, it was moved over onto Thompson Grand River. (Possibly I may have the time of the TEMPLE and the TERWILLIGER mills reversed.) The TEMPLE mill was mysteriously burned while located there.

Post Offices, Mails and Mail Routes.

When the LESANS and LEES left Illinois (1855) they made arrangements to have their mail sent to Chariton, Iowa. Chariton was about 65 miles from their new home. I am quite sure that they did not go to the post office every day. Soon though they changed their post office from Chariton to Pisgah, a post office somewhere in the eastern part of Union county [approximately 10 miles east of the town of Afton and 20-some miles east of Creston, Iowa.] If I remember correctly they said it was then only 20 miles to their post office. I think that late in 1855 or early in 1856 a post office was established at Mount Ayr, and then they changed from Pisgah to Mount Ayr. My earliest recollection of the Mount Ayr post office was when D. C. KINSELL [circa 1826-1886] was postmaster. I remember that the mail for the whole LESAN tribe was put in box No. 27. Whoever took the mail from the office was expected to deliver it to the persons to whom it belonged. For several years box No. 27 was the Leasonville box.

It is my understanding that the stage line delivered mail to Mount Ayr, started from Ottumwa, went west to Chariton, then southwest through Garden Grove to Leon and then west through Mount Ayr and on through the southern tier of counties, west to Nebraska City.

As the railroad was extended west from Ottumwa the mail route which delivered the bulk of the mail to Mount Ayr kept shortening until it reached Afton, where it remained until the railroad was built to Mount Ayr in 1879.

Some time about 1860 there was a mail route from some point south of Albany, Mo., to a point near Des Moines, Iowa. Geo. W. and D. M. LESAN took the contract from the original contractor to carry the mail. It was a horseback mail and the round trip was made once a week. They made arrangements so that the starting place was from Mount Ayr. The carrrier would start Monday morning from Mount Ayr and go south over the south end of the route. The post offices on the south end of the route that I remember were Allenville (now Allendale), Fairview (now Denver), Albany and I suppose there were a few other small offices. The carrier would return to Mount Ayr sometime Wednesday. He would take the mail out to Lesanville Wednesday evening and would start from there Thursday morning on the north end of the route that I remember were as follows: Union Hill, Hopeville, Osceola, Green Bay, New Virginia, St. Mary's and Indianola.

Most of the streams were to be forded, therefore they were frequently hindered from making the trip on account of high water.

Later my father had a route from Mount Ayr to Grant City, Mo. I think that took two days each week, Friday and Saturday. The post offices were Ingart Grove, Redding (Old Redding), Grant City and I think one between Redding and Grant City.

Still later father had a route from Mount Ayr to Eugene, about 12 miles north of Mount Ayr. The trip was made every Saturday. Although I was rather young to be a mail carrier, I frequently made the trip. There were but three houses on the road between Mount Ayr and Eugene. The first one out of Mount Ayr was the home of Dorington CHANCE [1835-1917], then came Asa SANFORD and a few miles beyond was the home of WIlliam DUNLAP [1853-1909]. There was no store at Eugene at that time. Nothing there but the post office in a farm house. The name of the postmaster was GRIMES.

Farm Implements, Machinery, Etc.

Farm implements and machinery were very scarce in the early days. Most of the work was done by hand, or if an implement was used it was operated by man power. For a number of years corn was planted by hand. The ground would be prepared and then furrows would be made with a diamond plow or a single shovel plow, about four feet apart over the entire field. Stakes would be set across the field the opposite way of the furrows at one side of the field, then the one who planted the corn would take his position at one end of the row of stakes and would cross the furrows at right angles, keeping in range of the stakes and would drop a few kernels of corn in front of him as he crossed them. When he came to a stake, he would move it over four feet to come back by. For convenience and accuracy he had the four feet marked on the stakes by notches, and would measure the distance to set the stakes over by it. He would continue to cross and re-cross the field until the entire field was planted. By using the stakes the corn would be rowed so that it could be cultivated both ways.

If it was to be covered with a hoe someone would follow and as the corn was dropped he would cover it. If the ground was good and mellow and the furrows deep enough it would be covered with a harrow. Sometimes there would be two persons dropping the corn. In that case one of them would keep himself in range with the stakes as they crossed the field and the other would walk by his side and guess at the distance from him to drop the corn. When the stakes were set over they would set over just four or eight feet so it kept the rows pretty uniform in distance apart. Sometimes the field would be cross marked, then it would not be necessary to use the stakes. If it was not to be cultivated both ways neither stakes nor crossmarking were necessary.

I owe most of my experience at corn dropping to Uncle George W. LESAN. After I was old enough to be of some help on the farm he would get me to help him plant his corn. I was too young to keep at it all the time, but I would drop corn with him, he going by the stakes and I guessing at the distance to keep from him. Frequently he would say to me, "You must be getting tired, so you sit down and rest while I go a few rounds alone." I think the first money I ever received for work was from him for dropping corn.

corn planter.jpg After a few years I remember the first corn planter that I ever saw, and I think it was the first one anywhere in our section of the country. It was a "Brown" planter, owned by L. S. TERWILLIGER, Sr. It took two men to operate it, one to drive the team and one to do the dropping. If the corn was to be cultivated both ways the ground was marked off into rows and the planter was driver across the marks at right angle following stakes as previously spoken of planting by hand. This planter was hired out over the neighborhood at $1.00 per day. It was kept pretty busy during the corn planting season, but was unable to meet the demand.

In 1869 Marshal GUSTIN [1834-1879] of Monroe township, got a "Key Stone" planter. It was also hired out to the neighbors. Uncle George LESAN was the first one in our neighborhood to hire this planter. It was generally supposed to be a man's job to sit on the front seat of the planter and pull the lever at the right time so as to put the corn in the mark. One man in the neighborhood, who had done such work "back east," thought himself an expert at it and expected to do most all, if not all of the dropping in the neighborhood. He was quite a heavy man and made quite a load to ride on the planter. Uncle George said he didn't believe to was necessary for a man to do the dropping, and asked me if I would try it. I tried it and it was pronounced satisfactory. Oh, how many times I did wish before the season was over that I had never seen a corn planter. I stuck to it though and dropped corn for Uncle George, Father, Uncle Sye, Uncle Joe and Uncle Jim DENNISON. I then thought I was done, but C. K. PIERSON came after the planter and wanted the boy also. It almost made me sick. I hesitated, but he offered to raise my wages 20 per cent if I would go. He didn't say 20 per cent, but that is what it was. I had been getting 50 cents per day and he gave me 60 cents. I had a bigger job there than at any other one place. After a little over two days the job was nearing the end and I was rejoicing that I would soon be done and could go home, never more to get on a corn planter. Just before we finished, however, Marshal GUSTIN, the owner of the corn planter, came to the field to see when Mr. PIERSON would be done with it. He had already planted one field of corn but had another one ready to plant. He had his team with him so he waited till we finished. He then told me that he wanted me to go home with him and drop his corn. I felt like running away from him, but I began to say something about my folk looking for me home, when he said that they would not be expecting me home as he had met father in town that day and had asked him if he could get me the next day to drop his corn, and that father had told him that he expected he could do so. I went with him and worked until sundown that evening, and nearly all the next day. When we finished it was nearly supper time. I started across the field toward home. Mr. GUSTIN called to me to wait and get my supper, but I said no, I would go right home from there as it would be closer than to go around by the house. I walked the three and a half miles home. Supper was over when I got home, but I knew just where the cupboard was and it didn't take me long to find something to eat. Father asked me why I didn't get my supper before I came home. I told him that I was afraid someone would come for the planter and would want me to go home with him to drop his corn, and that I was done riding a corn planter.

corn dropper.jpg As I look back on it I don't see how I stood it. They were paying $1.00 a day for the use of the planter and of course each one wanted to get through as soon as possible, so they would commence as early in the morning as possible and work until sunday or after. It was too hard for a team to go all day so they would change teams about the middle of the forenoonand about the middle of the afternoon, and often change drivers, too, so as to keep the planter going. The boy, however, stayed with it from early morning until sundown or later. All the boy had to do was to ride and jerk the lever every four feet. Just so he watched carefully enough to put the corn in the mark, was all they asked of him.

I thought at the end of that season I would never ride another corn planter, but the next season I was at it again, but it did not seem half so bad as it did the first season.

A few years later planters became more plentiful, so there was not quite the same rush, and they also began to charge 10 cents per acre for the used of the planter. This also caused them not to rush the work quite so fast. Remember this was all before there were any check row planters.

Harvesting Hay and Grain.

I remember when the hay was all cut with a scythe and the grain with a cradle. The scythe is still used enough so that any one can see how the grass is left after being cut. The grain was dropped from the cradle in a straight row with the heads all one way, at the left side of the cradler. It was then raked with a hand rake into bunches the size of an ordinary sheaf of grain, and then bound by hand with a band made from the grain itself. I can remember of but one or two seasons that the hay and grain was cut in that way, for in quite an early day mowers were introduced into Ringgold county. TERWILLIGERS were the one who usually led in the use of new machinery. As I have already said they were the first to get a corn planter, and afterwards they were the first to get a mower, and a little later to get a reaper for cutting grain, and a threshing machine to thrash it. During the harvest, haying and threshing season they would be kept busy working for themselves and the neighbors.

After the grain was sufficiently dry it was either stacked of put in the barn. The threshing of it would be done whenever it was convenient to do so, or when they needed it for use. Small grain was not raised in very large quantities. Oats was the principal crop of small grain. Most of it was fed in the sheaf. Before the threshing machines were used in this community, grain was threshed, as I remember in two ways. The first was by piling the grain in a pile on the barn floor or on the hard ground and the grain pounded out with a flail. flail.jpg(For a description of a flail see Webster's dictionary.) [A flail was used prior to the development of combine harvesters. A flail was made from two or more sticks attached together with a short chain. One stick was held and swung which caused the second stick to strike a pile of grain and loosen it from the husks. A flail looked similiar to a nunchaku but with longer sticks.] The straw was then shaken by stirring it with a pitchfork so as to settle the grain to the bottom, and then the straw was pitched to one side. The grain was separated from the chaff by tossing it up in the air for the wind to blow away the chaff.

The second way, (the one I remember mostly of being used), was by clearing a space, usually in the driveway of the barn, and placing the sheaves in a circle with an open space in the center for a man to stand in to stir the grain and to keep the horses, used in tramping the grain, going around him in a circle. Sometimes the horses would go two abreast and sometimes in single file. We children liked the job of riding the horses to tramp out the grain. After the grain was satisfactorily tramped out the same process would be used to separate the grain from the straw as when it was threshed with a flail.

After the introduction of the threshing machine, more small grain was raised than had before.

The mowing machine soon took the place of the scythe for cutting grass for hay. The work was done about the same as it is today. The machines have improved, to be sure, and many different models are used but the work in general is done in about the same way it was with the first machine indroduced.

The machines which displaced the cradle for cutting grain have undergone so many changes that I hestitate to even try to explain them, for I know that I am not capable of doing so. I will only speak of a few of the early changes. I remember the first reaper that was in our neighborhood. It was a huge affair. It took four horses and two men to operate it. One man to drive the team, and one to ride on the back end of the machine with a wooden rake to hold the edge of the platform upon which the grain fell when cut, to keep it from scattering off on the ground until enough had been collected for a reasonable sized sheaf, and then to rake it off onto the ground ready to be bound by hand.

grain reaper.jpg It usually took five men to do the binding. In order that the sheaves be gotten out of the way to keep the reaper from running over them the next round, it was necessary to keep the binding up with the reaper. This was done by dividing the distance around the field into four stations of about equal lengths. When the reaper started one man would commence binding. One man would remain at the starting place to begin binding when the reaper started on its second round. The other three would follow the reaper until they had gone about one-fourth of the way around, when one of the three would commence binding, always following the reaper. The other two would continue to follow until they got half way around, when one of them would commence binding. The other one would continue following to three-fourths the way around and then he would commence binding. When any one of them would bind up to where there were no more sheaves, he would stop and wait until the reaper had passed him and then commence binding again. In this way every man would bind round and round the field. Every fellow tried not to be caught by the reaper, for they always had the laugh on anyone who got caught.

The next improvement I remember was a machine with a dropper attachment, attached to the sickle bar under the reel. It was a slat frame the length of the sickle with slats or teeth about 30 inches long. These slats or teeth were to catch and hold the grain until there was enough for a bundle. While collecting the bundle, the slats stood at an angle of about 45 degrees up from the frame. A spring was attached to them so that the driver of the machine could release the spring by a lever at his feet letting the slats drop to the ground, thereby allowing the grain to slip off. Then it would be brought back to its position for catching another bundle. The binding was done the same as described above.

The next improvement, as I remember it, was the self rake which threw the bundles off at the side of the machine. The binding was done the same with this machine as with the other two, excepting that it was not necessary to keep the binding up with the machine, as the bundles were thrown to one side so they were not in the way of the machine the next round. They no longer had to bind in stations but could take their time for it and one or more men could do the binding. This was about as far as the improvements got along this line during my boyhood days.

The threshing machines of my boyhood days were somewhat different than of today. They were operated by horse power machines. It took ten horses to furnish the power. The horses were hitched to long stout arms or levers, one end of which was attached to a large circular cog wheel called the master wheel. It in turn was attached by a system of cog wheels and a large iron rod to a jack which stood about 12 feet from the power wheel, and it was connected with the separator by a long belt. The horses were hitched and tied so as to compel them to travel in a circle round and round thereby turning the large master-wheel, which in turn, by its cog and belt system produced the power which ran the separator. A man stood on the center of the power to drive and manage the teams.

At the separator the grain was pitched onto a table at the side of the man who fed the machine, about the same as is done today, only that it required an extra man to stand at the table and cut the bands with which the bundles were bound.

To catch the grain as it was threshed and came from the machine, half bushel measures were used. These were placed in a shallow box and as one was filled it was shoved aside and another shoveled under the spout. The full one was emptied into a wagon or into a temporary bin. Either the one who was managing the half-bushels or some one else must keep "talley" of every half-bushel threshed. That was done by a "talley" board. Every machine had a "talley" board attached to it just above the place where the grain came from the machine. In this board there were four rows of holes about the size of a gimlet hole. The first row at the outer edge of the board had 20 holes in it. Wooden pegs were made to fit these holes. When a half bushel was filled and moved to one side a peg was put in the first hole and then as another was filled the peg would be moved over to the next hole and so on until every hole in the first row had been filled. Then a peg would be stuck in the first hole in the second row, which would show that 10 bushels of grain had been threshed. When the next half bushel was filled the peg used in the first row would be again put in the first hole of the row, and continued to be moved as before. The second row had ten holes in it. Every time the end of the first row was reached the peg in the second row would be moved ahead one hole. When the ten holes in the second row were filled a peg would be placed in the first hole of the third row, which would show that 100 bushels had been threshed.

The third row also had ten holes. When the tenth hole in the third row was reached, a peg would be put in the first hole of the fourth row, showing 1000 bushels having been threshed. Usually the fourth row had five holes in it, which if all were filled would show 5000 bushels threshed. Small grain was not raised very extensively in my boyhood days and I don't remember that it was ever necessary to use the fourth row of holes. Most of the threshing jobs fell well under 1000 bushels.

The "horse power" was made of iron and heavy timbers it was a heavy piece of machinery. It was hauled from one place to another on a heavy wagon. When it came to the place of threshing it was somewhat of a job to unload it. It took about the entire threshing crew to do so. It was built on a very heavy frame made just to fit the running gears of a wagon, like an ordinary wagon box. To unload it, the wagon was tipped over onto the wheels of one side of the wagon until one side of the power rested on the ground. This left the wagon standing with two wheels laying flat on the ground and two up in the air. While some [one] held up the power, others pulled the wagon sideways from it. Then they lowered the power to the ground and staked it fast. To load it again the same process was again gone through with, only the order was reversed. Mounted horse-powers came into use later that were built on trucks, and trucks and all were staked down.

Wagons were some different from the ones of today, the principal difference being that the wheels were held on by a pin through the end of an axle. They were called linch-pin wagons.

Implements and methods of cultivating corn have undergone considerable change. When I was a boy, corn was cultivated with a single horse hitched to a diamond plow, or a single shovel or double shovel cultivator. Either one of them would cultivate only one side of the row at a time, therefore it took a whole round to cultivate each row. Later the two- horse cultivators were introduced which cultivated both sides of the row at once. In either of the above cases the one doing the work walked.

sulky cultivator.jpg The first sulky cultivator that I ever saw was one that James DENNISON had shipped from Illinois in 1869. Father, being a cripple so that he could not walk to cultivate corn, ordered one in 1870. It did service on father's farm for several years. Most of the cultivating in the neighborhood was done though with a walking cultivator from about 1868, as near as I can remember, on through my boyhood days.

In the pioneer days the farm wagon was the principal vehicle in which people road (sic). Whether they were going to church or to town, or to visit a neighbor's, whether going on a short journey or a long one the farm wagon was brought into service. It would carry anywhere from one person to a score. Horses were usually used to haul the load, although oxen were used sometimes. I remember of but a few times of riding in a wagon drawn by oxen. Father, though, even after I was a pretty good sized boy, had oxen on the place. I learned to drive them, but did not do so to any great extent. The principal work done with them after the early settlers used them to break prairie, was in the winter to haul hay and feed on the farm, and to haul wood, rails, logs, etc.

Grass, Hay, Pasture, Etc.

The only hay the early settlers used for some time was prairie grass hay. There was plenty of it and it cost only the time of cutting and stacking it. Stock of all kinds ran at large. There were no fenced pastures for several years. The pasture was the entire unfenced range. Stock was branded in the spring and turned out upon the range where it ran until fall when it would be hunted up and brought home. Cattle and horses were branded with a hot branding iron. Hogs were usually marked by cutting the ear in some particular way. Each farmer had a different kind of mark. I remember that father's mark for his hogs was what they called a half crop off the right ear and a slit in the left. Uncle George used a half crop off the left ear. Some made a hole in one or both ears. Some make a swallow fork in one or both ears. Various other kinds of ear marks were used. Sometimes they would have quite a time gathering up their stock in the fall. They were apt to stray a long way off, and it would take a long time to find them. Sometimes some unscrupulus (sic) person would take up stray stock and not advertise it, and if found later it was apt to cause trouble. Sometimes the ears of the hogs would be mutilated so that it could not be told what the marks were. Not all the early settlers were model people.

In the early days the plan was to fence the stock out. Several years later the plan was reversed, and the stock was fenced in. The fields and yards were supposed to be fenced so as to keep out all kinds of stock. For a few years rail fences were the only kind made. After the advent of saw mills, post and board fences were used to some extent, but they were not very common during my boyhood days. When the farm lay next to the open prairie, which most of it did, it was necessary to burn fire guards around the fields, as soon in the fall as the grass was dry enough to burn. in order to protect the fences from being burned down. To do this a few furrows were plowed around a strip about three or four rods wide just outside the fence. Then some time when there was but little wind the space between these furrows would be burned off. This was done with the expectation that if a fire came over the prairie, which was very common, that when it approached the fence it would be checked.

dumprake.jpg

Early Marketing of Grain, Stock, Etc.

The early settlers did not have the advantages of a market for their produce and stock that the farmers of today enjoy. There was no produce shipped in a very early day. It was all used on the farm or sold to local persons for local consumption. Later in my boyhood days, butter and eggs were sold in small quantities to local dealers for shipment. Poultry was very seldom marketed. The surplus was used, mostly for home consumption. I don't remember of any grain being shipped or sold for shipment during my boyhood days. It was either used by the farmer raising it or sold to some local feeder. Cattle and hogs were, however, sold when ready for market to some buyer for shipment. In the early days buyers would come around about twice a year to buy cattle or hogs. He would arrange to have them delivered at some central place, hwere they would be weighed and settled for. The buyer carried quite large sums of money with him and the stock was paid for with cash. There were no banks close, so checks were not used. After they had a sufficient number gathered up, they would drive them to the railroad for shipment. At least one drove of cattle, bought in Ringgold and nearby counties, was driven all the way to Chicago. Father and Uncle Sye (J. P. LESAN) accompanied the drove part way, father only going as far as the Mississippi river. I think Uncle Sye went as far as Galesburg or to some other point near where our people used to live, and then went to the old home community, where he visited for awhile, before returning home. I helped drive hogs a few times when Afton and Leon were the principal places from which shipments were made. The last trip I made was to Leon. It was the summer of 1874. It stands out very vividly in my memory. Rev. William BROWN (at one time pastor of the U.P. church in Mount Ayr) and U. P. DUNLAP gathered up about 200 hogs. They started the drove from Mount Ayr on Monday, June 29, to drive them to Leon. The crowd which constituted the "hog punchers" from Mount Ayr were Harry ABRAMS, Sam McGILL, Mr. BUTTS and Andrew BROWN, son of Rev. BROWN. When they reached the neighborhood of Lesanville about noon I joined them. It was then that I formed the acquaintance of Harry ABRAMS, now of Mount Ayr, an acquanintance that has lasted for nearly 75 years. We stayed all night the first night at C. K. PIERSON's [Chambers K. PIERSON, 1828-1911] of Monroe township. We started the next morning from Mr. PIERSON's about daylight. It was very hot and dry. All went well for a few miles, then the hogs began to get hot. The road followed the ridge across the prairie, no house between Mr. PIERSON's and Mr. SANKEY's east of Elk creek in decatur (sic) county. Some of the hogs gave out and were loaded into the wagon. Soon a fair load was made up and the man with the team (I do not remember his name) and Andrew BROWN took them to Mr. SANKEY's, where we expected to stop over night. As we passed around the head of a little draw, where the grass was a little taller than elsewhere, we allowed the hogs to turn to one side, and tried to stop them in the shade of the grass for a rest. The hogs were hot and must have sented (sic) water for they seemed to take on new life and continued, in spit of all we could do, to follow down the ravine. Mr. BROWN finally galloped down ahead of the hogs, hunting water. About a quarter of a mile down the ravine he found several holes of water. The first hole was as near as I can guess, about 20 feet long and about eight feet wide. At the upper end of the water was about a foot down from the the top of the bank. On the sides the bank gradually sloped until the lower end of it was on a level with the water. Mr. BROWN called me, and I think Harry ABRAMS, to come to him. His idea was to let the hogs pass through the water. We stationed ourselves on the bank on each side of the hole with switches and prods in our hands to drive the hogs through so as to distribute them around in other holes of water. The hogs soon arrived and began to plunge into the water. The water was deeper than we had supposed, and we soon found out too that we had hogs to deal with. The water was about three feet deep, but as the hogs plunged in it soon run over the banks. The hogs refused to budge after getting into the water. We could not coax, whip nor prod them through. They soon had the hole full and hogs were drowning. We began to try to pull them out by getting hold of their ears, but we were making no headway. Mr. BROWN finally jumped into the hole with the hogs. It was over waist deep. By getting his arms under the hogs he was able to boost them out. I saw the advange (sic) of it and followed him. Harry ABRAMS and Mr. BUTTS did the same. Mr. McGILL though "chose" not to get into the dirty water.

There were so many hogs in the hole that there was but little room for us to work, and sometimes we were nearly thrown under with the hogs. Once I think that if Mr. BROWN had not caught hold of me I would have been completely immersed with the hogs. By heroic efforts we soon had the hole clear of hogs. When we emerged from the hole we were sure a dilapidated sight. Hot, wet and muddy, from head to foot. The clothing of Mr. BUTTS, Harry and I were not damaged very much only from mud. Mr. BROWN did not fare so well. He wore a fine black "broadcloth" suit. It being very hot he had fortunately laid aside his coat and vest, so they were not damaged, but his pants, oh, my, they were riddled and torn by the hogs' feet in their scramble in the water. The "broadcloth" could not withstand the onslaught. We got all the hogs out alive except, I think it was, seven large ones, which were drowned. We left them on the shore for feed for the buzzards and crows. Pretty dear feed though for the seven would have weighed more than 2000 pounds. Mr. BROWN merely said, "There, boys, we will leave the profits here." Harry asked him if that included the loss of the pants also. Mr. BROWN took a look at his pants, or what was left of them, and said he rather doubted it.

We soon had the hogs distributed around in other holes of water and in the shade of tall grass, where we herded them until nearly sundown. We found a hole of water that was reasonably clean, where we washed as best we could and then lay around in the sun to dry our clothes. My, we were dirty, but we had no second suit with us, so we were compelled to wear our dirty ones.

After Rev. BROWN had cleaned up as best he could he got on his horse and rode to Mr. SANKEY's to see if he could borrow an old pair of pants of Mr. SANKEY to wear until he could get to town to get some new ones. After he got back he recited his experience of borrowing the pants. He put on his coat (it was a little longer than the ordinary) and buttoned it up down the front and went up to the door, crossed his legs in front of him and rapped on the door. (He had been at the SANKEY home several times, so they were acquainted with him.) Mrs. SANKEY came to the door. He asked her if Mr. SANKEY was at home. She said no, he is not at home at present. He then told her his predicament and asked if Mr. SANKEY had an old pair of pants that he could borrow. She said she would see if she could find any. She soon returned with a pair of pants and handed them to him and told him that he could go down to the tool house to change. For awhile he did not offer to move, thinking that she would turn and go back in the house, but she did not seem inclined to do so, so he finally turned and started toward the tool house. Immediately he heard the door slam shut so he knew that she was gone.

Awhile before sundown we started the hogs and drove them as far as SANKEY's where we yarded them and took supper. (The first we had eaten since leaving Mr. PIERSON's early in the morning.) Some time the latter part of the night we started the hogs again. We reached Grand River just after daylight. On a bluff west the river crossing there was a dense growth of hazel brush and young timber on the north side of the road. There the hogs suddenly took a stampede through the brush. We did what we could to stop them but to no avail. They scattered through the brush. We soon had the most of them gathered together and across the river, where we yarded them and got our breakfast at WOODMANSEE's. Several of the hogs were still missing, so Mr. BROWN and I, and one of the other boys (I have forgotten which one) went back to continue the search for them. The other boys of the crowd were sent on with the main drove to try to get as far as Decatur City before it got too hot. Mr. BROWN hired a colored man living about a mile north of the river crossing to take his team and wagon and as we found hogs we loaded them inthe wagon and hauled them to WOODMANSEE's. The colored man told us that we better look in one of his neighbors yards for he would not hesitate to steal some if he could. We looked around his yard but found none, and then went to the house and inquired whether they had seen anything of any stray hogs. They said they had not. We continued the search through the brush across the road from his premises. I soon came to a clothes line stretched through the brush. I called to Mr. BROWN, who was a few rods from me, and he came to me [illegible]. Our curiosity was excited so we followed the line through the brush until we came to one end of the rope tied to a small tree. We then reversed our steps to find the other end of the line. We found the line to be about 100 feet long and the other end was tied to the leg of a hog. It having the mark on it that had been put on each of his hogs when they were weighed. Mr. BROWN took possession of the hog. I went back and untied the rope from the tree and rolled it up to where the hog was, and then we drove it out of the brush into the road in front of the house and loaded it into the wagon. Mr. BROWN untied the rope from the hog and threw the rope over the fence into the dooryard, and called to the woman of the house and told her to thank her husband for tying up his hog.

hog.jpgIn searching through the brush, Mr. BROWN met with more bad luck. The borrowed pants were not very strong, and were pretty well worn and patched, so they were easily torn. He said he thought that every thorn and bush in the thicket had a spite at him, or the pants, he didn't know which, for when we gave up the search his borrowed pants were in a worse condition, if it were possible to be so, than his broadcloth ones, but as night was on and it wasn't very cold, and we wanted to get to Decatur City in time for breakfast the next norming, he did the best he could and stayed us. We got to Decatur City awhile before daylight and yarded the hogs and then went to the hotel and laid down on the office floor to await the coming of daylight. At daylight we arose and prepared for breakfast. Mr. BROWN wanted someone of us to go to the merchant's home and ask him to go with us to the store and get him a new pair of pants. I was willing to go to the home of the merchant to get him to go to his store, but I did not want the job of selecting the pants. We all agreed that it would be much more satisfactory for him to go and make his own selection. To go to the store he would have to walk across a vacant square. After I got the merchant to his store, Mr. BROWN bravely made the trip, the hotel guests and others watching the progress of the trip. As he emerged from the store to return to the hotel there was not half the notice taken of him as there was while he was going over, even though he did have on a new pair of pants. When he came into the hotel he said he was glad that it was too early for the constable to be on duty. Someone of the crowd asked him when he was going to take SANKEY's pants back to him. Mr. BROWN said that he would settle later with him, but that he hoped Mr. SANKEY himself would be at home when he called to do so.

With a few more thrilling adventures, we finally delivered the hogs to the stockyards in Leon Friday evening, July 3. Mr. BROWN remained in Leon to help load the hogs the next evening. Mr. DUNLAP, who had joined us that day, was going to Chicago with the hogs. The rest of us piled into the wagon and started for home bent on celebrating July 4th in Mount Ayr. We also had with us Mr. DUNLAP's horse which we were taking back to Mount Ayr. We got to WOODMANSEE's about midnight. We found that the colored man who had helped us had found a few more of our hogs and had them yarded at WOODMANSEE's. It was necessary for someone to stay and get a team the next morning to take them to Leon. No one seemed to want to stay. Everyone wanted to attend the celebration in Mount Ayr the next day. I finally agreed to stay. I kept Mr. DUNLAP's horse to ride home the next day. The remainder of the night I slept on the floor at WOODMANSEE's. As soon as it was daylight, I rode over to the colored man's home to try to get him to take the hogs to Leon. No one was at home. One of his neighbors told me that they had started very early in the morning to a celebration somewhere up the river, he didn't know just where it was. I returned to WOODMANSEE's and got my breakfast, and then started on a search for someone to haul the hogs to Leon. No one seemed to want the job, as they all wanted to go to the celebration at Decatur City. I then followed the road toward Leon, stopping at every house to try to get a team, but to no avail. When I arrived at Leon I hunted up BROWN and DUNLAP and reported to them. After some delay they secured a man and a team to go back with me to get the hogs.

We loaded the hogs WOODMANSEE's and on our way from there we stopped at Decatur City to load one that had been yarded in the hotel barnyard. Someone had left the gate open and the hog had gone out and found a very satisfactory mud hole near the celebration grounds, in which to wallow. I jumped astraddle of it in the mud hole and grabbed it by the ears, but they were too slick to hold to, to do any good, but I managed to stay with it. After running part way through the celebration grounds (to the amusement of the celebrators) we managed to throw the hog on its side and held it there until we could have the team brought to us, and then loaded it in the wagon. After getting a glass of lemonade for myself and the driver (it was the only money I spent in celebrating the 4th of July) we proceeded to Leon without any more exciting adventures. The hogs were loaded on the cars just before sundown. Soon afterwards, Mr. BROWN and I started for home. We stopped at Decatur City for supper. When I reached home about two o'clock Sunday morning I took a bath, told the folks not to call me for breakfast and went to bed. I did not get up until supper time. From the time I left home Monday morning until I returned Sunday morning I had laid down to sleep only 14 hours.

The Introduction of Bluegrass into Ringgold County.

How many people of today realize that there was a time when there was no blue grass in Ringgold county? How many people in Ringgold county know how the first blue grass was obtained for the county? A few persons now living will perhaps know. As I understand the matter, the first blue grass see was purchased by the Board of Supervisors and sowed in the public square in Mount Ayr. They evidently got a pretty good stand from the first sowing, as when the second crop was ripe and ready to harvest, it was cut (I supposed with a cradle) and bound and taken to George W. LESAN's barn, where it was stored until it was threshed. I don't know by what method it was threshed. After it was threshed the seed was given out in small quantities to citizens of the county who would agree to sow it and care for it. In this way the seed was pretty well distributed over the county. George W. LESAN was one of the members of the board, but I do not know who the other members were. (The records will tell.) The next year's crop was taken care of in the same way, and distributed the same. The next crop was not cut. Notice was given that if anyone wanted seed that they could go in the square on July 4th and gather what they wanted. It was a free pitch in. I do not remember the storing of the grass in Uncle George's barn, nor of the distribution of the seed. It was from him that I got my information. I do, though, remember the 4th of July harvesting. I remember that mother and I each took a pail and gathered seed by stripping the seed from the grass with our fingers and depositing it in our pails. Quite a large crowd was doing the same. The seed was pretty well gathered in that day and a few succeeding days. That method, no doubt, hastened the seeding of blue grass in the county, but it would have eventually got here without the effort of man.

I guess that with this lengthy and tedious narrative, it is time to stop, for fear that I get started on another equally as tedious as this one.

(The End.)

NOTE: The Mount Ayr Record-News' publisher added a footnote that Arthur LESAN wrote a history of early Athens Township which the paper intended to begin publishing in the following week's edition of the paper. I have not succeeded in locating this narrative. ~ SRB

Transcribed and [notes in brackets] by Sharon R. Becker, 2008

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 19, 2006

Harvest time as celebrated at Ramsey Farm at Lesanville with a number of events held at the restored farmstead and community four miles east of Mount Ayr. From horseshoing and apple cider making to games and and old-time hymn sing, there were many things to take in during the day.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2016

  • Lesanville School No. 1


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