The following account of personal matter is given to show the disadvantages under which the hardy pioneers procured the homes which now seem so comfortable. Whatever of romance adhered to the lives of the hardy colonists, was abundantly compensated for by hard work. Contrast the journey of that devoted party through the roadless and bridgeless track between Chicago and their destination, with a company on a like journey to-day. Instead of weeks of labor and toil, privation and suffering, with cold and hunger, a set is taken in a palace car, at noon in Chicago, an unexceptional supper is partaken of without leaving the train, the passenger retires upon a downy couch, and in the morning awakes to find himself at his point of destination in central or northern Iowa, having lost only half a day on the journey. Those who enjoy these blessings, would be less than human if they were not filled with gratitude to these early settlers, who paved the way, and actually made the present condition of things possible. At that time the confines of civilization were on the lakes; Chicago had but a few thousand people, Milwaukee was just beginning to be a village and Dubuque was a mere vidette, as an outpost of civilization. There was nothing in the now great State of Iowa, except the intrinsic merit of the location, to attract people from their more or less comfortable homes in the east, or on the other side of the water. The hope as to the future, which "springs eternal in the human heart," lured them on, and, although those that came were usually regarded by the friends they left, as soldiers of fortune, who, if they ever returned at all, would indeed be fortunate. They were a sturdy race, who realized the inequality of the struggles in the old States or counties, and resolved to plant themselves where merit would not be suppressed by traditions.
The men who came were, as a rule, enterprising, openhearted and sympathizing; they were good neighbors, and so, good neighborhoods were created, and they illustrated the idea of the true brotherhood of man more by example than by quoting creeds, with a bravery that never blanched before the most appalling danger; they nevertheless were tender, kind and considerate, in the presence of misfortune, and their deficiency in outward manifestations of piety was more than compensated by their love and regard for humanity. And if this need of praise is justly due to the men, and it certainly is, what shall be said of the heroic women who braved the vicissitudes of frontier life, endured the absence of home, friends and old associations, the severing of whose tender ties must have wrung all hearts. The devotion, which would lead to such a breaking away, to follow a father, a husband or son into the trackless waste beyond the Mississippi, where gloomy apprehensions must have arisen in the mind, causing hope to waver and the heart to sink with dread, in above all praise. The value of the part taken by the noble women who first came to this uninhabited region cannot be over-estimated. Although by nature liberal, they practiced economy, and often at critical times preserved order, reclaiming the men from despair during gloomy periods; and their example of industry constantly admonished them to renewed and strenuous efforts to save the west from a relapse into barbarism. This tendency was supposed to result from the disruption of social and religious ties, the mingling of heterogeneous elements, and the removal of the external restraints, so common, and supposed to be so patient in older communities. Dr. Bushnell did not have a sufficiently extended view of the subject, for in looking over the history of the past, it is found that in a nomadic condition there is never any real progress in refinement. Institutions for the elevation of the race must be planted deep in the soil before they can raise their heads in beauty and majesty towards heaven, and bear fruit for the enlightenment of nations. The evils of which Dr. Bushnell was so afraid are merely temporary in their character, and will have no lasting impression. What actually happens is this: At first there is an obvious increase in human freedom, but the element of self- government everywhere largely predominates, and the fusion of the races, which is inevitable, will in due time create a composite nationality, or a race as unlike as it must be superior to those that have preceded it. Even now, before the first generation has passed away, society in the west has outgrown the irritation of transplanting, and there are no more vicious elements in society here than in the east, as the criminal statutes will abundantly show.
In this connection are given the personal experiences of the pioneers of Tama county. These articles are written or related by the pioneers, and when written, the compiler has in no case attempted to change or vary the style of the writer, it being the design to show the peculiarity of the writer, as well as to record the facts narrated. These reminiscences are interesting and well worth of perusal.
BY MRS. RACHEL VANDORIN.
"Well I will try and tell what you ask me, but in rather an awkward way, for I am getting old and I can't write as I once could, and it is hard work for me. I will be sixty- one the twelfth of June, if I live till then. In the first place, my husband and Isaac Smith, for that was my brother's name, came to Tama the fall of forty-eight, took their claims and erected a cabin. It was covered with boards they ‘riv' out themselves, had a dirt back and yams and sticks and clay chimneys, doors sawed out, puncheons split out and thrown into the cabin. We expected to move early, but my brother was taken sick, and we stayed with him until the ninth of May, then we left him better. A man by the name of Ephriam Whittaker came with us with his wife and two children. He took a claim below Irving in what is called Salt Creek township, about five miles from us, built a cabin and moved into it; stayed till fall, butt hought(sic) it was too new for him so he went back to Henry county. We had two hired men with us, James Vandorin and Isaac McKern; they went back to Henry county that fall. My brother got well and came in June. We landed in Tama county the twenty-first day of May, 1849, - moved with seven yoke of cattle to our wagon, had two breaking plows, blacksmith tools, and our household stuff. Mud was so bad we could hardly get along; we often had nine yoke of cattle to one wagon, for Whittaker had four yoke of cattle to his wagon, so they would pull one a while and then the other one. We were from the ninth till the twenty-first of May, hauling our doors and shutters with us. We were so heavily loaded we had to leave our plows and other things on the road. My husband and Whittaker went back after them, so the first furrow plowed was the third day of June. The men chopped in pumpkin seed and corn; had quite a little corn and nearly a hundred wagon loads of pumpkins. I chopped in my garden seed; had a good garden. I put up a barrel of pickles. They broke thirty acres more and put a good fence around it, - leaving the cross fence, and two fields. We had a good crop that year, of nearly everything. But they had, in 1850, broke and fenced this sixty acres on the bottom, and in May, fifty-one, it commenced raining and kept on till the water was all round our cabin and in the smoke house; it came up there three times. The second time my brother and husband rafted a set of logs for a cabin out to the bluffs and then my brother went from twelve to fifteen miles to ask hands to help raise the cabin, which was sixteen by eighteen feet. The first one was sixteen feet square, and had no window. The men came and helped raise; but we had to keep them over night; so they got it covered and raised the next day and went home in the evening. That night it rained again. In the morning the water was around us again; higher, higher, than before. The sheep were in a huddle on a knoll; so the men turned the calves out, and they and all the rest of the cattle swam to shore. Then they took the sheep and started for the bluffs, letting them rest when they came to knolls where the water was not swimming deep, and having to help some of the sheep through. While they were gone I heard things upsetting in the smoke- house, I went in there and found the lard, molasses and vinegar barrels all afloat. I floated them up in a big meat trough that was in the smoke-house. The men came back and we got breakfast; then my husband carried things out of the large trough and set them in our cabin; then he floated the trough out of the smoke-house and up to the door, told me to put in whatever I wanted to use and get in. I put in two feather beds and bedding, provision and my work, then got in, taking my three children. He put in a cross cut saw to saw out a door in the new cabin, bored a hole in the end of the trough and put a pin in it and tied a rope to that, for the trough was square ended, and he had to swim and pull us most of the time, for half a mile or more. Then my brother swam our horses to the bluffs. Both then went to work to saw a door in the new cabin, so we could get in; but they did not get quite done, when a rain came up, and we had to put our things in and creep in after them to keep from getting wet. I was there for three months and never saw a woman but myself.
Everything in the bottom field was destroyed, and we had to buy all our grain that year. Late that fall Phebe Fowler came into that township, and William Cruthers came into York that fall.
My brother was married in July 1851, and in February 1852, started to California. We still kept our claim; had nearly thirty acres broke on high ground, and moved our cabin on the hill in June. We had a splendid crop or the prospect of it, for I had in a good garden. The last night in June there came a hail storm and destroyed all of it. My husband planted corn the third, fourth and fifth days of July; had the nicest lot of fodder I ever saw.
After that we had good weather and it began to be settled up; our neighbors were of the very best. But the first four years we had no christian influence at all. I feel to praise the Lord that it is different to-day, and a number of us have rejoiced in the love of the Lord since.
THE WILKINSON PARTY.
[By Anthony Wilkinson]
Anthony Wilkinson in company with his father, mother, two brothers, William and Robert, and three sisters, Rebecca, Jane and Mary, left Lewisville, Coshocton county, Ohio, about the 20th of September, 189, bound for Tama county, Iowa, by way of the Ohio canal to Portsmouth, Ohio, thence by the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to Muscatine, Iowa. The water being very low, they found steam boat transportation hard to obtain, hence they were nearly three weeks in getting to Muscatine. Arriving there, they hired teams to carry them to Iowa City. There they rented a house for their parents and sisters to stop, while the three brothers prepared to go on to Tama county and build a cabin for the family use. They purchased a yoke of oxen and having brought a wagon with them, they took such things as were necessary for their purpose, and started on the second day after reaching Iowa City, and in three days reached their destination, viz., on the 14th of October, 1849; and there began a settlement and improvement on land on which two of them Anthony and William still live, in Salt Creek township.
Arriving at our future homes, we set to work and made a shanty with logs, covered it with grass, set up a stove and prepared for hard work and rough living, thirteen miles from a settlement, no road and of course no travelers to see, save now and then a straggling Indian, who would grunt at us and go on. We labored at our cabin building for two weeks. When needing some provisions, Robert went to the settlement at Honey Creek (now Koszta) and while there, heard that a new comer at Iowa City had died suddenly about ten days before; on his return, and stating what he had heard, we thought best that one should go to Iowa City and see how the family were. Accordingly next morning Robert started on foot, and on arriving there, found that on the morning of the fourth day after we left for Tama, father had been stricken with apoplexy, while seated at breakfast, and died in half an hour.
This sudden bereavement was a sad discouragement to the female portion of the family, being all alone among entire strangers, and no chance of communicating with us, they hardly knew what to do, and who would wonder if they thought of the old home, but Robert made them as comfortable as possible and returned to work; meantime we were getting our house well under way and in two more weeks we hired teams to bring the family from Iowa City to Honey Creek, from there we got them home with our own team.
The first settlement was made on the southwest quarter of section 21, township 82, range 13, west, and owned by Robert, where we all lived together for the first year. In that year Anthony built a cabin on the southwest quarter of section 20, and in November, 1850, was married and moved into it.
We got a team of five yoke of oxen and broke prairie, working together for two years. In October, 1851, death again visited us, our sister, Rebecca died, and again, in August, mother died; about two years later Jane and Mary were married. Jane is now living in Richland township, and Mary is living near Houston, Texas. Robert died September 29, 1872, on his farm in Salt Creek.
In the early years of our residence here, we had a great many difficulties to encounter, but this is a part of the price of cheap lands and must be looked for by the pioneers in every part of the country. Up to 1858, we had to go to Iowa city or Cedar Rapids to mill and market, and usually took three to four days. On such trips we usually camped out, sleeping in or under our wagons; but bad road and no bridges frequently made traveling interesting. On one occasion in the month of March, I had to stay over night some four or five miles east of Marengo. The frost was coming out but the ice was still in the creeks. It rained during the night, and I had to ford a creek about a mile from where I staid. On getting to it I found it very high, and I knew if the ice had gone out, it would swim the team, and I might be detained for days, so I unhitched my team, took one horse and rode in to see if I could cross, the horse could barely go through without swimming, so I at once got ready to ford. I got some sticks, laid them across the top of my wagon box, piled my load of flour and other goods on top, took out my end gates to let the wagon go through the water easier, and drove in, afraid every moment to find the ice break under me, but it held up, but I had not got entirely out of the water, when, looking behind me, I saw the ice I had just crossed on, come to the surface and float off. Had it given way while I was on it, it is hard to tell what the consequence to me would have been.. On another occasion, I had to cross the Iowa river, and, being on foot, I crossed at Honey Creek in a dug-out, but in the evening was some six miles west of there, near the mouth of Salt Creek, but there was no boat and the river quite full. I must get home and did not want to travel six miles away from there to get a boat, so I went into the timber, found some pieces of dry cotton-wood, carried them to the river, placed three of them in the water, side by side, fastened them together with a grape-vine, laid two other pieces across them, then one on top of them lengthwise of my raft to sit on, got a small pole to steer with, then got on to my raft to see if it would float with me, which it did nicely. So I pushed out in the current and by working across as much as I could while floating down stream, I landed on the other side in about twenty rods, and saved at least twelve miles travel, but at the risk of a good ducking, if no worse. But settlers began to come in rapidly after the first two or three years and we got things more convenient.
TIM BROWN’S POETRY.
During the winter of 1855-6, the literati of Toldeo formed a society for the discussion of such questions as seemed of vital importance to those who organized the society. Among the first questions to come up was that of the “eternity of future punishment.” The question being one which highly interested all parties. An early day was set for the debate. When the appointed day come, the society was called to order by David D. Appelgate, the president, and the entertainment opened. Among the speakers were T. Brown, T. a. Graham, L. Merchant, I. L. Allen and J. L. C. Foster. The first named, Mr. Brown- now of Marshalltown- shortly afterward composed a poem, giving the detail of the debate. The manuscript is in the hands of J. P. Wood, of Traer, and is as follows:
TO THE CHIP BASKET COMMITTEE
Ye, who in elocution's school are taught, Pray give attention to my scattered thoughts;
And I’ll rehearse some efforts not below, The mighty powers of a Cicero.
What I relate I know to be a fact, I was an eye witness to each separate act,
and saw the might orators laid low;
Demosthenes compelled to undergo, a strange reverse from fortune’s fickle hand, for Grecian fame was veiled in Yankee land.
Great Theologians differ in their views, and warm discussions frequently confuse, the minds of men; and on contested points.
Sometime, the truth is sadly out of joint, With views the different champions entertain, for me to set them would be in vain.
But to proceed a question most profound, arose in school, proposed by red-head Brown;
Something like this:
“Resolved. If we compare all evidence that’s given to us here, we must believe the greater part of man, through all eternity are damned.
Our friend in red this doctrine did confute, and there arose a very warm dispute.
Therefore to settle man’s eternal fate, they to the chair elected Appelgate.
A man of thought, of comprehension deep, Who studies long, while others idly sleep.
And thus inured himself to mental toil, by the assistance of the midnight oil, Until his mental powers became so vast, that he could seize with gigantic grasp
Questions like this, that future fate involves, that great philosophers have never solved.
He with a grave and dignitary air, Seats himself on the judicial chair.
The sides are taken; breathless silence reigns! And so intense it almost gives you pain.
All earthly cares have wandered far from view, And the dread future is all that’s left to you.
On Time’s vast avalanche you stand in awe, waiting for God the misty veil to draw
That would reveal eternity to sight, show endless woe or Heaven’s radiant light;
Undo nine-tenths of Adam’s fallen race, Who’ve lived and sinned away the day of grace.
A speaker rises! let us him survey; His face is pale as the cold ashy clay; His auburn locks like wig on marble place In ringlets hang with a peculiar grace.
He parts is lips - has Cicero arose, and been in school during his long repose?
With words persuasive as the lips of love, he states the law prescribed by God above,
and handed down through inspiration's hand, unto the creatures of this fallen land.
In magic tones elysian fields he paints Of endless joy the blessed abodes of saints, where God in grandeur all his power displays, and high born seraphs swell the song of praise, says, he expects to tread those shining plains, where endless joy and peace celestial reigns.
That blessed abode made for the happy few, perchance, is not, my friends, a home for you.
You have a home where Hell's dread monster waits, where grief and vengeance bellow at the gates, Where fear and rage and famine on you stare.
Where dread remorse and howling friends appear.
Where pale disease seize on your quivering limbs.
And gnawing conscience rends your soul within.
Vile discord there her snaky tresses bear, and Hell's grim furies in your faces stare.
In tones of thunder shook the whitened walls, and for the proof he on the scripture calls, and reads this passage "House of Israel," fly "from your evil ways, why will ye die?"
This being said, friend Lewis takes his seat, With looks expressing that he’s hard to beat.
Another speaker steps upon the stand, his brow emblazoned like a flaming wand, with sparkling eyes and fiery aspect stood, and thundered forth the mercies of his God;
Declared that God through Christ had all men saved, and Hell existed this side of the grave.
Then rose a man, advanced to middle life, to take part in this exciting strife, read forty texts in proof of endless pain, and modestly required that they be explained.
In fifteen minutes, that being the full time, to which his opponent had been confined.
This being done our “Thomas” sits him down with looks that say “I’ve vanquished Brown.”
Then rose a youth magnificently tall, whose stately grandeur interested all; who in Lycurgus school was deeply read, and naught but metaphysics filled his head, he raised his voice and soared on poetic wings and gave his views of spiritual things.
Another rose, with comprehension vast, with eyes enclosed, neath battlement of glass, with jaws all mounted with a coat of hair, He on his victims cast a haughty stare, and opened his mouth - Hell gave a dreadful yawn.. And in the tumult “Fostered” hopes had gone.
The chair was asked the question to decide.
Men should be damed” he instantly replied.
METHODISM INTRODUCED IN NORTHERN TAMA
By Rev. Solomon W. Ingham
On the morning of June 3d, 1853, I left Vinton for a place now known as Traer. After going about nine miles I arrived at Garrison's Grove. There I saw a man with his wagon turned westward, watering his horses. I asked him if he was going in the direction his wagon indicated, and he replied "I am." I told him I would soon overtake him, and he said he would wait. He was looking at me very sharp, as though suspicious of something. I was on horseback, and had my protmanteau (vulgarly called saddle-bags), in which I carried my clothing and the necessary apparel to last me during my circuit over eleven counties.
When at last we got started, my friend asked me if I had any friends up where we were going. I replied that I had not.
"Do you know any one there?"
"Not any one."
"Have you heard the names of any of the settlers up there?"
Yes, I have," and I mentioned over five of the settlers, his name being among the rest. All being church members he found that his suspicions were correct."
Ain't you a Methodist preacher?" he asked eagerly.
"Well, 'sposen we shake hands!" he exclaimed. I rode alongside the wagon and over the wheel we gripped, and shook, he saying: "I'm glad to see a Methodist preacher, I've not seen one since I came to the country."
Then sitting back in his seat, he asked: "Are you a circuit preacher?"
How many appointments have you?"
"more than days in the month."
Poor chance for us - you'll not come here very often," said he.
Only once a month," I replied, if you wish me to come at all after you hear me preach."
Will you form us into a society?"
Yes, if I find it practicable."
"Well, I don't know whether you'll make it or not. You'll get three at Osborn's, and one at my brothers. At our house we can't do much for you - we can only furnish you six there. But I don't know about Dean; am afraid he won't stick."
At about noon we arrived at a little cabin, where the woman was sick; but the man furnished us with a lunch.
Perhaps two hours before sundown we arrived at the house of my friend, which was within a short distance of the present site of Traer. His wife had been sick for some time with ague and chills, and was barely able to sit up, which she was doing when we went in.
Well, ma," said my friend, "that preacher has come. I told you he would."
I took her hand as she sat in the chair, and she had to wipe the tears from her eyes a full minute before she could overcome her feelings sufficiently to speak. I was then made acquainted with all the rest of the family except the oldest daughter, who was not at home. The girls soon prepared us some supper and after partaking, the host says: "Now we must go for my brother Giles. They want to see you. Mary is sick."
We went there and I was introduced to the family and the oldest girl of my friend - my present wife. Mrs. Taylor, was unwell, and was in bed, but we had prayers.
"Now" said Taylor, "we must go to Osborn's, they want to see your." We started and not gone very far when we saw Osborn coming. We stopped and he came up.
Well, Osborn," said Taylor, "here is another prospector."
Osborn owned a large amount of land in that neighborhood, but had made up his mind not to allow any one to secure land who did not intend to locate permanently. He therefore proudly asked: "Do you want to buy land for a home? I do not show land to any one else or to speculators any more."
Taylor answered: "He's not that kind of prospector. He is hunting sheep."
"Sheep! there never was a sheep in forty miles of here!" exclaimed Osborn.
"Lost sheep!. Lost sheep!"
"Oh! is he a preacher?"
I answered "Methodist."
He seized both my hands and asked, "Will you preach for us?"
I answered that I would.
"Are you a circuit preacher, and will you come again?"
"If you want me to, after you have heard me preach."
"Well, let us go to the house, the women will want to see you."
On we went at a rapid pace, I with difficulty keeping up with him. When we arrived within a few rods of the house Mrs. Osborn met us with a milk bucket in her hands. Osborn told her that "here was a Methodist preacher."
She threw away her milk bucket and seized both my hands. She then wanted to know whether I would preach for them and come again, and insisted that we go in the house and tell her mother. The lady was out at the back door washing potatoes. As soon as Mrs. Osborn got in hearing she began clapping her hands and crying "Mother, mother, here's a Methodist preacher!"
The old lady gave her hands a flirt in the tub of water and met me in the middle of the floor. She threw her arms around my neck weeping and exclaimed: "Praise God, I can once more see a Methodist preacher before I die!" The old lady was over eighty years of age and has long years since passed to her last long sleep.
The following day I preached and formed a society consisting of the parties named by Taylor. The organization was known as the Wolf Creek appointment, a branch of the Big Woods Mission. Thus was Methodism introduced into the northern part of Tama county.
REMINISCENCE BY NEWTON MILLER, OF CLARK TOWNSHIP.
"Newton Miller and Mary, his wife, settled on the northeast quarter of section 2, Clark township, June 1, 1856. On October 9, that same year, Mary in trying to get home to save her children and home from the prarie fire, lost her life.
It was on the second birthday of her baby. No happier family than surrounded the breakfast table that morning. She was one of the best among the good women who became pioneers. She fell in the line of her duty with her face toward Heaven. William the oldest son, in trying to save his mother was severely burned. There have been bad fires since, but none so swift and terrible. William got well in about eighteen months, though badly scarred. William, and his next brother, Henry, enlisted at Buckingham, August 29, 1862, for the war. William died at Iowa City of brain fever before being mustered into the U. S. service. Henry was wounded in the neck at Champion Hill, Miss., May 16, 1863, and died June 7, 1863, of wounds.
Mr. Miller's present wife was Mrs. Mather. She left Missouri in the fall of 1861, to go north to her brother, L. L. Webb, who lived in Benton county, Iowa. She had three boys; they started in the night to go north to "God's country," as they took an abandoned one toward Page county, which was providential for them, as they were followed the next day by a gang of guerillas, that were after their horses. They heard afterward that part of them were taken prisoners near the Iowa line. They found it a cold time to travel and not much money, but grain was cheap, corn 10 cents a bushel. One nobel family living near Toledo, in Tama county, invited them into their house to stay all night, would take no pay except for grain. Their names are Mr. and Mrs. Otterman. "I was a stranger and ye took me in." Matt. 25;35. July 3, 1863, John W. Mather, the oldest son, enlisted in the 9th Iowa Cavalry. That winter he took a severe cold, settling in his throat, causing him to lose his voice. He was with his regiment about twenty months after losing his voice before he got his discharge. In the fall after he came home he was plowing and bent down to fix the plow, when one of the horses kicked so close to his head that it took his hat off, which frightened him so that he hallooed. The fright and exertion of hallooing caused something to break in his throat, and after discharging about half a pint of bloody matter he found that he could talk again. His home is now in Toledo. Frank Mather, her second son, together with her brother, L. L. Welch,[the name is L.L. Webb above] enlisted in February, 1864, in the 2nd Iowa Infantry.
In April, 1866, Mr. Miller and Mrs. Mather were married and still live near Dysart.
One of the first settlers here was Father Moss and family and his son Henry, and his family on section 18, in 1856. Acel and Catharine Parmenter, settled on the southwest quarter of section one. They have gone to the better country. They were good people, remembered with love and respect by all who knew them.
The first wedding was Newton Perkins and Ellen Moss. The first school was taught by Jacob Parmenter, in Newton Miller's house.
There were nine soldiers enlisted from this township; William, Henry and Newton Miller, Newton Perkins, Jerome Plummer, John Bowen, Matt Eikerman, and Torrence brothers.
Nearly all the inhabitants were Methodist.
"THE PIONEER DOCTOR"
By H. T. Baldy, M. D.
Voltair says a physician is a very unfortunate man, as he is expected to keep the people well, when they violate the very laws of their existence every hour of their lives.
The life of a physician is no sinecure, as all who follow the profession well know - true there is a funny side in the practice of medicine, as well as a serious one.
Twenty-five to thirty years ago, it was rather a serious matter to be a physcian - and to make the long and lonesome rides, through this then newly and sparsely settled country - when there were scarcely any roads, and no bridges, and you were frequently lost on the wide expanse of prairie, and often floundering in sloughs - to find your horse deep in the mire, and it was with difficulty that you could get out - sometimes your vehicle broken or your saddle girth or your harness torn - this was the funny side very often. We mostly rode on horseback in those days, as there were nothing but bridle paths in many parts of the country, but more especially up and down the Iowa river and also up and down Deer Creek, where the paths would more frequently follow along the streams, which were very crooked, and had to be crossed quite often. We were also obliged to ford the Iowa river, which was often very high and dangerous, especially in the night. The writer remembers once in having gone across the river to see a patient who wished to be bled. After we had seen the person and performed the operation, we hastened to return home as we saw a storm approaching, or rather a blizzard from the northwest. The rain and sleet commenced to pur down, and when we arrived at the river, we found it had risen quite rapidly, but as we had a large powerful horse we entered the stream and with whip and voice urged him through. Our vehicle was whirled around almost ahead of the horse, but we succeeded in keeping our seat, and getting over all right.
As our little boy was with us, we hurried home to get his boots off, as they were frozen to his feet, but did him no injury - with the thermometer 20 or more degrees below zero. That was a serious ride.
The people were generally friendly and did everything they could to make us comfortable, in their small log cabins, with scarcely room for their own families. Sometimes the doctor had to sleep as best he could - sit up all night in a chair.
The most disagreeable rides were those up and down the Iowa river, as the paths or roads ran down the large bottoms covered with a rank growth of grass almost as high as the horse, which at night, or after a heavy shower of rain, would be very wet, and you would get your clothes quite wet, and then sometimes you would be chased by wolves, bitten by mosquitoes, and almost scared to death, by the snakes, which often came into the cabins, and would lie near the stove to keep warm, or climb upon the flour sack or even the beds. - we have seen them.
We will relate an odd incident about a lady and a water-melon. She had eaten part of the melon, then laid the two halves together, and put them on a box, on the outside of the house, thinking the snakes would not find it; but the next day when she was about to eat the balance of the melon which she had also wrapped up in a table cloth, she had no sooner opened the melon when there lay a large rattle-snake inside. She instantly screamed and threw the melon, cloth and all, and ran up the creek, still creaming, when, thinking that there was no one within a half mile or more, she returned, and with a hoe killed his snakeship, which had seventeen rattles.
The argue along the river bottoms was almost thick enough to cut with a knife, so to speak, and the settlers were often severely afflicted with those diseases, no doubt caused by the dense growth of vegetable matter, and the breaking up of the soil, producing a very great amount of vegetable decomposition, which was deleterious in its effects. Now for a little amusing incident.
Some twenty-five years ago, we were called one night to see an old lady, the wife of Patrick Dowd, a "rale ould Irish gintleman," living about seven miles off; went and found her suffering some from pain and sleeplessness. When we arrived there the old gentlemen came out, bid us good evening, and says "Doctor alight and come into the castle," which consisted of sod for the lower story, and was covered on the top with boards, which seemed to answer for a hen house. After we had relieved the troubles of the old lady by some medicine, and she dropped off into a nice sleep, we were invited to remain for tea, which we did, of course. The old gentleman said to his son-in-law, John Egan, and his son Frank, "Boys take a fowl off the roost;" they proceeded to do so, went overhead, and after a few moments Mr. Dowd said, "Boys dont take a shank-hi." The fowl was cooked in due time, of which we ate heartily and drank some tea, when we left for home, driving back in the dark and crossing a little bridge made by laying two boards lengthwise for the wheels to run on, and the horse to pass between, across the ditch.
The practice of medicine is hardly as pleasant at the present day, as it was in the early settlement of the county, not-withstanding the great inconvenience of long and lonesome rides, there was less competion and hard feelings, than there seems to be at present. The people seem to be more difficult to get along with. It requires much skill and tact to hold your patient through an attack of disease, provided it should happen to continue a few weeks or months. This is owing a good deal to meddling with the sick by outsiders. No doubt many may mean well, but it is injurious to the patient, and unjust to the physician.
The medical profession is an honorable one if conducted in an honorable manner. John Quincy Adams said it was the most "honorable of all professions." The doctor certainly feels proud to relieve the pain and distress of his patients; to soothe the dying pillow, and to comfort the afflicted friends. But the people are sometimes imposed upon by pretenders, who claim to cure all the "ills flesh is heir to," and to raise the dead, but we think the days of miracles have passed - are there too many doctors, or has the profession lost all honor? The people seem to be growing weaker and wiser, but at the expense of rigorous health - the system of cramming in school does not fit the young man for a useful like, nor the young woman to be a good staunch helpmeet. Was the boy bright and clever, that was sufficient reason for the forcing and cramming him - so far however as strictly goes, the boys have a certain conservatism about them that prevents them from committing suicide by excessive brain work. The poor girls, with their finer organizations are the unfortunate victims. How often does the doctor have interesting lady patients, who talk beautifully, as they recline upon the sofa, but who, when married and mothers of a single child, probably are unequal to the task of a household, or the care of a family.
Our great grandmothers got their schooling during winter months, and let their brains lie fallow for the rest of the year. They knew less of Euclid and the classics, than about housekeeping, and about how housework should be done, but they made good wives and mothers, and bore sturdy sons and buxom daughters and plenty at that.
From the age of eight to fourteen our daughters spend most of their time, either in the unwholesome air of the recitation room, or pouring over their books, when they should be at play, when released from school, within a year it may be she becomes engaged to some unwary youth, who, bewitched by her face, and charmed by her intelligence, sees not the frail body, and butterfly down, he weds her to find she has brought him a dower of ill-health, with a large outfit of headaches, and spine aches. Unequal to the task, she at first tolerates, and then loathes the domestic ties; the trouble follows, both unhappy whether they remain together or not, or obtain divorces, and change mates, the Doctor being a perpetual witness to the vices and follies and their fatal results. Some may say doctors are opposed to education. Not so. But we do not believe in educating the mind at the expense of the body, thereby producing a weak and effeminate race of people. Therefore less cramming in school, more out-door exercise, and riding on horseback and walking, also invigorates the body, develops the muscular system, strengthens the nerves, promotes the health, and appetite, and is a great pleasure to the persons so inclined. Planting trees, shrubbery, and otherwise beautifying our homes, than which nothing can be more pleasing and satisfactory to ourselves and to those who admire such things - and who does not?
The people owe certain duties to the physician, and the physician owes certain duties to the people. We remember once sleeping on a few boards in a cabin loft, as they were generally called, for a few hours after being up all day and night, we had to be pushed up through a small hole, kept our overcoat on, and when somewhat rested we sprang down through the opening to partake of some food, when we started for home. We lived well in those days; did not, of course, have many of the modern delicacies such as canned fruits, but we had good substantial food, such as corn and wheat bread, pork, eggs, beef, prairie-chickens, which were very abundant in those days, and venison, as deer were plenty. There was also an abundance of wild fruit, such as plums, crab-apples, cherries and other varieties, which our good wives prepared for their families. We think such a diet was more conducive to health, not troubled so much with those modern diseases as dyspepsia and indigestion.
By T. Brown
You request me to write you a letter as one of the old settlers in Tama county. I promised I would. I shall have to delve among the memories of the past, go back to the days of boyhood and hunt out for the stored up treasures written upon the tablet of the mind, covered with the collections of twenty-nine years of active business life, to find material.
In the spring of 1855, I entered Tama county. The smoke of the wigwam of the savage, and log house of the pioneer mingled together. The prairie was then with few exceptions, one immense field, shortly before the pastures of the buffalo and wild deer. It then appeared like nature's garden, covered with a teeming frowth of herbage and flowers in summer to be mown down by fire in the fall. I well remember the morning I arrived at Toledo, a little town springing into business life. I met that evening John Connell, John Zehrung, T. J. Staley, Lou Merchant, D. D. Appelgate and some others, all young men, there at Mr. Walley's. I looked them over and formed my opinion. I am not positive that Merchant was there. They formed their opinion of me probably. Staley was county treasurer and recorder of the county, the custodian of the cash and titles. Some thought him a little vain. He hired me to record deeds for him. I always felt flattered when he gave me instructions, he did so in such a condescending tone that seemed to flatter me to think I was addressed by him. He did it himself without communicating through an agent, and I felt for him, when I thought of the humility he took upon himself to address one who was a laboring man, and his house had blinds and panels and a door-yard fence and a front-yard and trees, all of which showed wealth, and to some, extravagance. I have seen no change in John Connell, a polite, courteous, good fellow, and one could approach; always a gentleman, never excelling or falling below himself. There was Appelgate, the clerk, all know him; kind and genial, a little set in his way, with his own notions of right and wrong, and not easily convinced against his will, and the less he said about a thing the more certain he was, he was right. Then there was Lou Merchant, the very antipode of Appelgate; a little Frenchy in manners, address and appearance, only lacking a mustache to make a Frenchman. A charming ladies' man for the parlor, or an escort, possibly less courted as a husband. His classical countenance not angular enough for a nun, clear enough for a woman, and if those luxuriant, dark brown locks had hung on a head a little finer made and a chin-dimpled and had it been banged, he could have been changed into a woman in a jiffy. Lou was the great debater of all moral questions, fastidious in his dress and manner as a dancing-master. His face resembling a piece of rare statuary from an old master, and as passion less as a twelve year old boy at a dancing school.
He was a great theological student. All instructive mothers pointed him out as a sample to their boys when they were old enough to go in company, particularly if they showed evidence of precociousness. The girls all admired him, but still had some doubts. They did not know just what he lacked, but there was a secret, intuitive something that they could not clearly determine, that crept over a heavying bosom and loving heart that demanded hesitation. Lou never married.
The bar had but two lights when I came to Tama county-Phillips and Noah Levering. Soon all doubt was expelled. C. J. L. Foster, N. C. Wieting, and T. W. Jackson came, who, with myself, were sufficient to satisfy the legal desires of the people.
Foster delivered a Fourth of July oration in 1855. I shall always remember that magnificent peroration when he said, "There is something so grand in the location of Iowa, situated between the rolling waters of the mighty Mississippi, and bound on the west by the placid, clear and sparkling Missouri - the unlimited prairie covered with flowers between - something so pure in the air we breathe, sweetened by the rays of a western sun that soon becomes etheral and eastern pigmies spring to western giants."
We all cheered when he closed.
There was Thomas A. Graham, that always felt he was not fully appreciated by a good people, and felt regret that they were blind to the many kindnesses he was willing to bestow when he offered himself as a sacrifice to save them. He was kind man at heart, with rather an inquiring turn of mind. Tom Murray was sheriff; always the same Tom Murray he now is, and so well known that any words I may say would be novel.
Noah Myers was school fund commissioner, and the great business man of the county. I cannot describe him; I have no tact. He was a man of considerable energy and activity. He is gone, and I will not attempt to say more. John C. Vermilya was county judge, a man of good ability and thoroughly honest. He was charged with not being firm, but it was an error - unless kindness led him away. I undertook to defend a counterfeiter, upon whose person a large amount of spurious money was found. I tried to raise some technical questions and avoid the facts, but the Judge kept his eye fixed on the money, and that unexplained fact of guilty possession was a silent, but potent witness that no skill of mine could overcome. It was justice he wanted, and I never knew his thoughts to go beyond the strict line of right.
I always meet the old settlers of Tama county with pleasure. It seems a sort of home yet. I have written already more than necessary, and close.
"How the Court Got Across the Iowa River"
In 1856 Judge Hubbard, of the District Court, and T. Walter Jackson, a lawyer from Toledo, were on their way, at one time, from Toledo to Montezuma, then the county-seat of Poweshiek county. The water was high, and there was no bridge over the Iowa river. Unless they could get across by some means, they would be obliged to go to Marengo, which would add nearly seventy miles to their journey. "The Court" enquired at Toledo how they were going to get across, and was told to go to J. H. Hollen, and he would get them across if any one could. Finally they arrived at Hollen's, and "Harvey" told them "of course he could get them over. "
Accordingly J. H. Hollen and his brother W. T., secured some ropes, and they with the Judge, Jackson and the horse and buggy, repaired to a point on the river just south of where Tama City now is. The Hollen brothers, then took an old log which had been hollowed into a trough, and in this they crossed to the other side of the river, carrying one end of the rope. The other end was then tied to the buggy, and in a few minutes it was pulled across the stream. The current was so strong that the buggy was kept whirling over and over until it struck shallow water. J. H. Hollen then swam the horse across. It was an ugly beast, and this was accomplished with much difficulty then for taking "the Court" and Jackson over. They were both made to strip stark naked and lie flat in the bottom of the log to keep it balanced, and the Hollen's towed them over in safety. As will be imagined, it was a laughable sight to see the dignified Judge lay flat in the bottom of an old trough; while with Jackson, he was a young, stylish fellow, lately from New York, and at that time a member of the Legislature, and it must have been amusing to see him lay aside his fine garments, and red-top boots to assume a like position alongside the Judge. Thus the old saying came, "How Hollen got the Court in a hollow log."
"REMINISENCE OF THE EARLY DAYS IN NORTHERN TAMA"
By Daniel Connell
At a re-union of the old settlers at Traer, in 1875, Daniel Connell delivered an address, which was full of historical data. The following was gleaned from it and is presented as a reminder of days gone by:
There is a time in the life of a man - also of a woman - that is of great interest to him and to her. The time when they leave the home of their birth and childhood, their parents and all the pleasing associations of life. The emigrant, how ever much he expects to better his for tunes by emigration, parts from the land of his nativity with misgivings and reaches his destination in sorrow and fear. Particularly is this the case if the person seeks a new country; there is something about it undefined and the mind pictures hardships and dangers. When at last the emigrant overcomes all privations, when success has crowned his efforts, there are few more pleasing thoughts than the retrospective, and one of their delights is to gather together and rehearse the incidents of - to them - old times.
Annual meetings of old settlers are becoming common in the west since the old settlers became able to enjoy themselves, and nothing is more interesting to them at these re-unions than a recitation of the history of those old days, at that time, days of strife for life and comfort; but now days of ease and prosperity. Men never tire of the oft-told tale of early days. There is no reading so pleasant as history, little that men are as much interest in. We are interested in reading the history of the world, of our country and of the community we helped to create. Here we are deeply interested. Who was the first man that came here, when did he come, who made the first land entry and when, who were first married and when, what did the bride wear and who performed the ceremony? The first birth and the first death are of interest, the first meeting and the first school, the first election and how many votes were polled and who was elected, the establishment of the saw and grist mills, the long trips to market and the enjoyment of those trips; the political division of the settlement; the methods of recreation of those early settlers. As the years glide by, the first settlers one by one will pass away and there will be none left to tell our story, so I proceed to gather up the fragments and weave them together that they be not lost, but preserved for our children and theirs.
Previous to the spring of 1853, Tama county was attached to Benton county for political and judicial purposes. Before this date the population of Tama, was sparse; according to the United States census of 1850, there were but eight white inhabitants. They were all or nearly all in Richland township, near Anthony Wilkinson and family, who are there now after twenty-six years sojourn.
There has been some uncertainty as to the date of the first arrival (in Northern Tama) on this part of Wolf Creek - known by nearly everybody at that time as Big Creek. This uncertainty arose from the fact that those first settlers have long since departed, and their present residence is unknown. There is little doubt that the first settlers here were Norman Osborn, David Dean, and his adult sons, Ira and Lewis. These parties arrived here on the 1st day of January, 1852, Mr. Osborn taking possession of the land now occupied by the heirs of George Kober, then moved to the land now owned by Ira and Giles Taylor. Mr. Dean settled upon Twelve Mile Creek, on land now owned by A. Austin and J. Kingley, in Buckingham township. His sons settled on land now owned by G. Jaqua, Esq.
The summer and fall of this year brought important accessions to the settlement. Mr. Dunkle, who settled upon the Kober land, buying from Osborn, Nelson Usher on the Horace Hartshorn farm, Volney Carpenter who did not remain long, Pat Casey and John Connelly, of unsavory memory, settled near where Clarks mill was afterward built.
On the first of July arrived John and Joseph Connell, Jonas P. Wood and Wm. D. Hitchner. Later in the summer came Josua C. and L. E. Wood, Wesley A. Daniel, Daniel Connell, Senior, Robert Connell, and his sister Margaret, now wife of Jonas P. Wood, also Mr. Story, who sold to William Gordon. These all settled on the west side of Wolf Creek, around the village of Buckingham, which was soon afterward laid out. These were all the settlers during 1852.
A few additions were made in 1853, viz: The brothers Ira and Giles Taylor and their families and a Mr. Spade, regarding whom I can learn but little, and V. Helm. The same spring the first opening was made in Geneseo by Mr. Hill and several adult sons, Harrison, Mark and William, who settled near the east side of Six Mile Grove, and William is still occupying the old homestead. John Riley came about the same time and still remains on his first purchase, a quiet unobstrusive man whom the writer has never yet seen.
After this, emigration increased more rapidly. The year 1854 witnessed the arrivals of Geo. Root on the 16th of January, P. Nungesser, Henry and Jacob Daniel, the two Yays, H. A. and Q. D. Hartshorn, Mr. Horton and son, who were drowned two months after their arrival, Mr. Baker, Alfred Wood, Frederick Church, G. Jaqua, Willard Snow and Robert Granger, Henry Van Vliet, Rolf and Whitney: Henry, better known as Yankee Smith. West Wilson and Nelson Felter, entered land in Crystal, this year. Mr. F. remained, but Mr. Wilson did not bring his family until the following year. Leander and Theodore F. Clark, William Gordon and family, Nathaniel and Newton Spencer and his son, who was killed by lightning in 186-, H. C. Green, Norman Rice, Nathan Fisher, Mr. Fee, Mr. Powell and Jonathan Hardin settled in Carroll on the south branch of Salt Creek.
These comprise all the arrivals during 1854. At this time the settlers were widely scattered, mostly in uncomfortable log cabins, not a frame house, not even a board one in the settlement. Until this year there was no saw mill to make boards, and it was a long distance to the nearest mill, so puncheon floors, shakes, split and sawed shingles for the roof; after the first cold snap, mud was used to fill the chinks, (as no lime could be got,) which the first rains in the spring washed out, leaving plenty of circulation. Sometimes the roofs were so constructed as to enable the occupants of the chambers to study the geography of the heavens before sleep.
In 1855 a large addition was made to the population, and this is as late as I am able to name them, and I cannot now name them in the order of their arrivals. This year came the Stoakes family who in point of numbers have ever been an important part of the community. Origianally from Ohio, they settled in Van Buren county, and during the spring mentioned arrived here. At the same time- with them - came H. T. Gaston, Esq., and L. S. Cope, who were connected with the Stoakes' by marriage. This family by the marriage of their sons and daughters, have made extensive ramifications. About the same period came the Klingman family - Stephen, George and Hiram - bringing Mertz, James Hamilton and several others with them. J. A. Stewart, A. Wilbur, George Kober, E. Murdock, George Lyman, Nathan Harman and Mr. Kibbe, settled on Salt Creek. John McKune, Mrs. Morton, the family of West Wilson, and Mr. Buchanan at the east side of Crystal township. David Torrence became the solitary settler of Clark.
Mr. Greenleaf, Lyman Cody, George Sloss, G. McMillan, and John Wilson and his family remarkable for their numbers and intelligence, a family who have had a marked influence in the community for good, although they did not arrive this year. Yet I may here add that the Wilson family have been the means of inducing more settlers to the place than can well be counted, who on their arrival settled as near each other as they could, until now Scotland, from a southeast to a northwest direction from their meeting house extends fifteen miles. F. B. Kile, his mother, brother, and sisters, of the latter one was the first wife of J. C. Wood and one of H. A. Hartshorn. John Tedford, Joel Haywood, the Hansells, Joseph Guernsey, H. W. Beach and the Slade family , settled in Geneseo township. J. T. Ames and William C. Reed, A. Boylan, D. C. Ladd, Henry Beaty, D. Higgins, Charles Loop, J. W. Southwick, J. L Moore, Peter Greenlee, and C. Hester and his sons, who laid out the village of Charlottsville, now West Union, and opened the first store in the settlement in the fall of this year and went to Kansas the following year, or in 1857.
A. Quinn settled in Four Mile Grove, and Joshua Hull on the east side of Srping Creek township. T. R. and S. B. Shiver, John Byworth, and Patrick Emett.
October 19, of this year the writer came with his family, and the first winter was deputy treasurer and recorder; during that period I collected all taxes ad recorded all the deeds and mortgages with plenty of spare time. I mention this to show the great difference in the county business now and then.
As it is a matter of interest to some to know who were the first parties married, I have taken pains to learn for the satisfaction of such. In the fall of 1853 Mr. Knott and Miss Martha Taylor, daughter of Ira Taylor, by Rev. S. W. Ingham. These parties removed to Kansas, and Mr. Knott died there this past summer.
The second parties were Rev. S. W. Ingham, who officiated at the first named marriage, and Miss Cynthia Taylor, a sister of the first bride, which event happened in the spring of 1854; the ceremony was performed by Rev. Mr. Pettefish.
The third contracting parties were Harrison Hill and Charlotte Helm in the fall of 1854. John Connell, Esq., performed the ceremony. It is said that at the marriage the groom was coatless, and the guests had a good time generally.
The fourth, and last that I will mention, occurred in the fall of 1854, and was John Zehrung and Miss Mary Connell, the ceremony being performed by the Rev. Mr. Pettefish, a pioneer through these parts, preaching the gospel to all who would hear.
The first birth was in the family of W. D. Hitchner, and was a daughter - America P. - born December 1, 1852, and died in December, 1856.
The first death was a child of Mr. Spade, aged 14, who died during harvest time, 1853. The second was a child of Mr. Usher, five years old, in the fall of 1853. About the same time a child of Mr. Carpenter, some four years old, died. In the spring or early summer of 1854 a Mr. Morton and his son were crossing Wolf Creek, at Indian Ford, on the land of J. B. Green, were drowned, and on the 10th of September of same year Joseph Connell, who had been to Benton City for grist, was returning home, some three miles west of Vinton, was taken with severe cramps. He was laid on the ground while a messenger was dispatched to Vinton for aid, and was removed to Vinton, where he died the same night in great pain. He was aged 26 years - just 21 years ago. At the time it was generally supposed to be a case of Asiatic cholera. In the death of Joseph Connell the infant settlement lost an industrious, upright young man. Cheerfully he bore the privations which the isolation of the settlement imposed on the inhabitants. When affairs looked dark his disposition and faith enabled him to see light beyond.
In the season of 1854 typhus fever in a malignant form prevailed to a considerable extent considering the number of inhabitants. It was particularly severe in the family of Ira Taylor, who lost by its ravages three sons and one daughter.
Of these early settlers I learn of the following that they have passed away. There may be others of whom I have not learned. The following is the list: One of Dean's boys, Joseph Connell, Wm. Gordon, Jr., W. D. Hitchner, Mr. Hill and his son Harrison, Nathaniel Spencer, and his son Newton, Carnelius Gay, famed for his many virtues, Mr. Horton, and his son, Fred Church the genial social man; John McKune, Lemuel and Amos Kile, and their two sisters, Elizabeth and Philena, Joseph Guerney, Mr. Slade, Henry Beatty, Dexter Higgins, Peter Greenla, S. B. Shiner, L. S. Cope, George S. Kober, and Patrick Casey who removed to Kansas and was killed by the Border Ruffians while defending his home. The wives of William Gordon, Daniel Connell, Henry Van Vleit, James A. Stewart, West Wilson, A. Quinn, George Lyman, Joseph Hull, J. Byworth and John Stoakes; The mother of the Wood family and J. T. Ames and the wife of John Stoakes.
On the other old settlers not now on the ground I have failed to learn of their present location with few exceptions. Of the most of those remaining here it can be said they have builded (sic) well, they have proved good citizens, stamped the impress of their characters on the morals, religious and educational interests of the settlement, and as a rule have succeeded in accumulating a competence.
Since writing the above list of our honored dead, another name has been added to the roll of those whose memories are dear to us. Daniel Connell, Senior, in the 80th year of his age, one of the earliest of the old settlers, "a good man and just, " of whom it had many times during the whole course of his long and useful life been said, that, "he never had an enemy." He saw the settlement when there was perhaps no more than twenty-five souls in its borders of six townships and died when its population can be counted by thousands.
From the earliest period of the settlement until 1873 the inhabitance labored under the disadvantage of being a long distance from a market. The fist railroad that penetrated into Iowa was in January 1856, from Davenport to Iowa City where it remained for many years. Previous to this event the people of Northern Tama were in the habit of going to Dubuque to do their trading, a journey of 200 miles. Where they forced to go that distance now it would be considered a hardship. Those in the neighborhood of Toledo went to Muscatine, a distance of 250 miles. When the railroad reached Iowa City a distance of eighty miles from here, it was considered an advantage, when finally in 1860 it reached Cedar Rapids, fifty miles from us, we considered it near, the distance could be made with a load of wheat in four days easy, and three when time pressed. These long journeys were relieved of their monotony by companionship and many is the rich story that many of the men before me could relate of those trips to Cedar Rapids without the company of the ladies. In two years after the road reached Cedar Rapids a road was built to Waterloo and for many years that was our market, this place contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars of the material wealth of that enterprising city. Our people were well pleased when the road reached Waterloo, they could go to market in two days, and only travel fifty miles. Some five years since a road reached La Porte City and many could go to market and back in a day. Then at last in 1873 a railroad was completed to Traer our joy was complete, and many had they been possessed of a little more land would have been ready to share the desire of Simeon, of the New Testament, but they are waiting for the land.
In the isolation of the settlement, time did not pass heavy. During the winter the men in the day time would meet in the store at Buckingham and lay out roads, fill up the depressions in them, bridge the sloughs and creeks, in fact working them generally. It was easier to do it on the counter in winter, than on the roads in the summer. There was the singing school, that never exhausted resort to while away tedium. For a few years we had a lyceum productive of much good.
There was always in this settlement a good feeling prevailing toward ministers and one of the pleasures looked forward to was the donation parties at the minister's house, fruitful of good feeling among all, and pecuniarily beneficial to the pastor. The early emigrants to the west were mostly young people who must at times relax from the stern realities of subduing nature and earning a living. One of the means employed by our young people was the social dance and they entered into its enjoyment with a zest. The social party was much in vogue by the married people, and scores would weekly meet at the various houses during the winter. Fourth of July picnics also. Thus our early settlers enjoyed themselves making the long winters pass pleasantly, enjoying themselves better then than now.
Probably the first and greatest hardship the first settlers in a new country feel, is the want of postal facilities. They are so anxious to receive a letter from home; so anxious to send one, that they keenly feel the loss of the opportunities. The settlers here were no exception to this state of feeling. The nearest accessible postoffice was Vinton, as the travel of that day passed through that village, the mail for this settlement was left there. The postmaster at Vinton becoming acquainted with everyone, took pains to forward the mail matter by some one, and it was left at a convenient point. When the stores were opened at West Union and Buckingham, they became accommodation post offices. The writer at his store, would receive mail to be sent east; every morning; every morning he would make up the bundle and hand it to the first man passing east, who mailed it at Vinton or Cedar Rapids. Hundreds of letters were thus forwarded and he never knew one to be lost. In the winter of 1856-7, it was proposed to change the direction of our mail to Toledo and hire a carrier, accordingly, a subscription was opened; West Wilson was hired at $3.00 per trip, Dr. Daniel and D. Connell, Jr., being responsible to him. Mr. Wilson made twelve trips and the endorsers had it all to pay except fifty cents. In the meantime, efforts were being made to have a mail route established; Mr. Wood postmaster at Vinton, interesting himself, service commenced on the route, Vinton to Albion, a town of importance then in Marshall county. George Young was postmaster at Wood postoffice on the west side of Yankee Grove; S. Klingaman at Wolf Creek; L. B. Collins, at Collin's Grove; W. B. King at Union Grove. Mr. Klingaman retained the office for about a year, when he made way for Dexter Higgins, who removed the office to West Union, where it remained until 1873, when it was removed to Traer; the present P. M. is Miss Taylor. Between Mr. Higgins and Miss Taylor the number who had the office were legion.
An effort to establish an office was successful at Buckingham in 1859, with Gravatt, Postmaster. A strong political influence was brought to bear, to prevent any postal service, and it was not until May, 1860, that an office with mail service was finally opened, with D. Connell, Jr., postmaster. At first the service was weekly, then semi-weekly, then tri-weekly and finally a daily service. A money order office was established and thus this settlement was as well provided for as was needed. This office was continued in the same building, and under the same postmaster until his resignation in 1874. J. R. Holman, was appointed postmaster and removed the office to near the center of the township, and after a few months it was discontinued. During its life it was an important institution in the settlement.
At an early day the Fork's office was established with A. McElhiney, postmaster, that gave way to the Evergreen office, Joel Haywood, postmaster, who resigned a few days since and removed to California, after a residence among us of twenty years.
An office was established at the west side of Crystal, and one at Crystal village, with W. Wilson, Esq., as postmaster; the one at the west side was discontinued as was the Collins Grove office. An office was established in the northern part of Buckingham, called Bovina, with Charles Blanchard, as P. M.; discontinued in 1873. An office named Etta, with Tyler Converse as postmaster, was established in Clark township about 1870. An office was established in Grant, called Connell, with Alex Mitchell as postmaster, and one in Lincoln called Fifteen Mile Grove; and at a later day, one called Coldville. At present the settlement has all the mail facilities they want, nearly all through the influence of one man.
The foundation of schools was slow growth. The houses of the settlers were far apart, few children and no public houses. The first school was opened by Miss Rachel Wood, in the summer of 1854. The first school house was erected in Buckingham in the spring of 1856, and school was opened that summer with Miss Jane Noble as teacher. The house not being plastered there was no winter session. In the summer of 1857, the teacher was Miss Charlotte Hester. I think it was in 1857 the corner school house was erected, and in 1858 the one at West Union. After that they multiplied rapidly, until now there is supposed to be one every three miles. In nothing did the early settlers take greater interest or spend more money, than in support of schools, or as willingly--all honor to the people of this settlement. In intelligent children, growing into intelligent men and women, these outlays of time and money spent for schools is returning and will continue to return an hundred fold.
In 1868, Buckingham was formed into an Independent District; in 1870 a new school house was erected and two schools for ten months in each year maintained, and is yet continued. The season of 1875 being more successful than any previous one, with John Frazee, teacher of the higher department. In connection with the Buckingham school a school house was erected on the west side of the district near the residence of L. E. Wood, which was destroyed by a tornado in 1865; but which has lately been rebuilt.
MEETINGS AND CHURCHES.
As will be noticed, among the very earliest settlers were the Connell family--1852. They had been in the employ of Gov. Wm. A. Buckingham of Norwich, Connecticut. To one of them he at an early day wrote these words: “Say to the people of your place that I shall always be deeply interested in the progress among them of education, temperance and religion, and you will gratify me if you will do all in your power for the advancement of those interests, and let me know when I can assist you.” Nobly in after years he responded. This family was always foremost in the settlement in the interest of religion and education, and the former early took root here. The first preaching was probably by Rev. S. W. Ingham in the spring of 1853. Wolf creek cut the settlement in two, and services were usually held in the morning at the house of Ira Taylor, and afternoon or evening at the house of the Wood family. The first Sabbath school was organized in 1853 at the house of Norman L. Osborn near the present residence of George Sloss. Mr. Story was superintendent. This school was re-organized in 1854.
The early preachers here were Methodist; beside Mr. Ingham there were in 1854 Revs. Powell and Fisher, residing in Carroll township, and a clergy man named Pettefish; in 1855 Rev. Brown, and in 1856 the Rev. S. Dunton. During the summer of 1856 T. R. Shiner organized a Union Sunday school at the Buckingham school house, which was built this spring. He raised five dollars and sent it to the U. B. Depository at Dayton, Ohio, and they sent him fifteen dollars' worth of books. In the spring of 1857 the Union Sunday school was re-organized, with James A. Stewart as superintendent, and D. Connell librarian. This summer Geo. Buckingham sent a library of books containing 350 volumes, many of them standard works of considerable value. D. Connell paid the express charges from Norwich, Connecticut, which at that time was of importance to him. During this season, or a considerable portion of it, the school-house was usurped by some carpenters, and every Sabbath morning Mr. Connell and wife, assisted by Mrs. Jane Smith, swept and cleaned the house before it could be used for meeting and Sunday school, and he carried the books back and forth every Sabbath. At this time the school-house was not plastered, and there were no services during the winter of 1857-8. In the spring of 1858 the school was re-organized by appointing the same officers. In the spring of 1859 T. R. Shiner was superintendent and J. A. Stewart librarian. This union arrangement was continued until the Congregational church was erected in 1867.
In June 1856, Rev. O. W. Everson, at the house of C. Hester, organized a Congregational Church consisting of six members, called the Twelve Mile Congregational Church. Mr. Emerson was a home missionary, and in the spring of 1857, he visited the church. During his absence there was no preaching of that order. Some time in 1857, there was a meeting of the church going people at Buckingham on the subject of engaging a minister of some denomination. There was represented, Congregationalist, Methodist, United Brethren, and Universalist. There was not strength enough in either element to pay a man. During the summer three Presbyterians ministers had been here, Mr. Robinson, of Vinton, his brother, of Steamboat Rock, and Mr. Jones, of Cedar Rapids. Leander Clark and Daniel Connell were appointed a committee to find a minister, and authorized to encourage a good man without regard to his denominational proclivities. The last of October, Rev. J. R. Upton, a Congregational minister, came and preached. After the service the congregation resolved itself into a business meeting, and it was agreed to have Mr. Upton preach. An arrangement was made whereby he was to be the pastor of the Congregational church, and he commenced his labors December 1, 1857, and continued for two years. The following year, the Rev. Mr. Emerson, who had settled here in the meantime, preached for the church. Mr. Emerson then retiring until September, 1863, they had no preacher. At that date the Rev. Mr. Roberts settled with the church, continuing until 1871. It was during his pastorate that the “Great Awakening” took place. Rev. Mr. Marble assisted Mr. Roberts, commencing December 1, 1868, and continued until about February, 1969. On January 1st, for the week of prayer, Rev. J. D. Potter, of Connecticut, a successful revivalist came; his meetings were held for four days with marked results, three hundred men and women confessed their sins, and the permanent strength of the Congregational and Methodist churches to-day is attributable to this great revival. Mr. Roberts was succeeded by Rev. Henry Mills, who resigned at the end of eight months.
Rev. J. B. Gilbert was settled in July 1872, and preached until September 1, 1874. In 1866 and 1867, this church built a meeting house in Buckingham, which was dedicated in June, 1867, sermon by Rev. Dr. Magoon, president of Iowa College. Gov. Buckingham took great interest in this house, contributing rather more than one half of the cost, which was $4,000. He also donated a valuable pulpit bible and a carpet, his wife gave valuable additions to the library, and a sister of Mrs. Buckingham, Miss Jane Ripley, sent a communion service. At this time the name of the church was changed to Buckingham Congregational church and the house called Ripley Chapel. In September, 1874, the house was taken down and removed to Traer. In April 1875, Rev. C. Bissell was engaged and is the present pastor; the present resident membership is 100. The church is now called “Buckingham Church” in honor of the late Gov. Buckingham, of Connecticut. The meeting house still is called Ripley Chapel, in memory of his wife.
The Methodist organization here properly begins in 1853 when Rev. S. W. Ingham commenced his labors, and meetings have been continuous since. I have failed to obtain statistics. I recall among the pastors in charge, men of indomitable energy and zeal, laboring to upbuild their church, the revered name of Donelson, of deep piety, I knew him well; the eloquent Fawcett; the nervous, impetuous Baker; the studious Mr. Sea; the sensitive spirit Holbrook, cut out of rough material yet done well his Master's work. The present pastor is Rev. Moore.
In 1867-8 they erected a meeting house, Gov. Buckingham contributing liberally for its erection. In 1874 the house was moved to Traer; the present membership is probably not far from 100.
The United Presbyterians organized in 1860, with a membership of eighteen. Their first pastor was the Rev. Mr. Kerr, then Rev. Bull, and next Rev. Trumbull. In 1871 they erected a neat house of worship costing about $3,000; the present membership is 127. During the present year there have been two organizations, off-shoots from the parent stem, one in Traer with twenty members and one in Grant with eighteen members.
In 1857 the United Brethren formed a class and maintained preaching for a number of years. Rev. Mr. Kerns was the pioneer throughout Northern Tama, preaching four years at Buckingham. For a number of years their principal class was in Buckingham, latterly it has been in the south part of Perry. The present pastor is Rev. Mr. Hicks with a membership of thirty.
The Universalists had occasional preaching during 1858-9 and regular in 1860 and 1861, with Dr. Brice as pastor. In 1868 and 1869, Revs. Wilson and Brinkerhoff preached, but they never had any organization.
In addition to those named the Presbyterians are also represented. They have a church in Crystal township called “Salem Church.” It was organized at an early day. The Baptists have a church at Bovina of some forty members and regular preaching. There is, at present, preaching every Sabbath in nearly every school district in Northern Tama.
In an early day lumber was brought from a long distance and the need of mills was felt. The water of Wolf Creek was early thought of as a power to be utilized. In 1854, John Connell, J. P. Wood and W. D. Hitchner erected a saw mill; they sold to S. Klingaman who, in a856, added a grist mill. It fell into the hands of W. W. Leekins, a famous miller. In 1874 he associated with Geo. Sloss and re-erected the mill at an expense of $15,000; Mr. Sloss is at present sole proprietor and has a good property. In 1855 Leander Clark erected a saw mill on the creek. In 1856, a company erected a steam saw mill at Buckingham. In mentioning the industries of the settlement, the enterprise of the Dean family must not be overlooked. In 1852 they erected a small mill on Twelve Mile Creek, below Jaqua bridge, had a dam, wheel and machinery and made wooden bowls which they sold at Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Dubuque. Vinton at that time consisted of but four log cabins, it now has a population of 3000.
The first school house in the settlement was built in Buckingham, in 1856, the contractor being Henry Daniel. It was a frame building 20X32 feet, 12 foot studing. Gov. Buckingham, of Connecticut, donated $100 toward it.
In the early days after settlement, wild animals were not uncommon, bears and buffalo were here as late as 1853; elk and deer as late as 1857; wolves, wild cats and coons until a very recent period. A wild cat, or lynx was shot near this village last year.
Like western people in general, our early settlers were attempted town builders. One party was to have one at the Forks; others, at other points. In 1855, Buckingham and Charlottesville--now West Union--were laid out; Mr. Hester, of the latter place, opened a store which was continued by various parties until 1874.
The north half of Buckingham was laid on lands of George Lyman, the south half on those of John Connell and brothers, partly purchased by them from West Wilson, Esq., who entered a portion of it. In July, 1856, Dr. W. C. Stanberry, of Vinton, opened a store in the dwelling of W. D. Hitchner, with D. Connell as salesman, and in November he removed to the village plat. In March, 1857, Dr. Stanberry sold to D. Connell, who continued there until 1873, when he removed to Traer. At Buckingham there were, of late years, four stores, two blacksmith, a wagon, a shoe, two harness and a tin shop, carpenters, painters, two meeting houses, two physicians, a large school house, with graded school, a daily mail and money order postoffice. There was a store in Genesco township in 1857.
Mr. Aitchison opened a store in Crystal, in 1868, where there was also a blacksmith and wagon shop.
The people of the settlement from the very earliest day were peculiarly American; whether native or foreign born, they knew no country but the United States. The Fourth of July was a great day with them, always to be observed in a suitable manner; accordingly, the national anniversary of 1853, was duly noticed and celebrated with all their enthusiasm and patriotism. I have in my possession, kindly loaned me for use by J. C. Wood, Esq., the subscription paper to raise money to observe the 4th of July, 1853. At that time there was nothing to be obtained here, not even flour. This money was raised to send a man to Cedar Rapids to procure the necessary refreshments for the celebration. The list embraces twenty names, and the amount subscribed was $9.75. The list has names on it of men who were probably transient men of whom no more is known. The body of the subscription list, or rather the preamble, is in the handwriting of John Connell. Joshua C. Wood was the collector. The body of the paper is in good preservation, but the names signed are fast being obliterated. One name cannot be distinguished, but it is learned that it is Alvah L. Dean, and those of L. E. Wood and Joseph Connell are nearly gone. It has not been learned who the speakers were, except John Connell; probably there was but little public speaking.
In 1854 there was no celebration, but in 1855, and every year since, Buckingham has always publicly observed the day. Probably there is no town in the county that can show so patriotic a record. D. Connell has the minutes of the meeting held at Buckingham, May 24, 1858, to arrange for the Fourth of that year. Wesley A. Daniels, T. F. Clark and T. R. Church, were committee on finance; H. F. Gaston, J. P. Wood, L. S. Cope, C. (probably Cornelius) Gay, and George Lyman were the committee on arrangements. T. Walter Jackson, a young lawyer of Toledo, and the most eloquent speaker in Iowa at that time, was the orator of the day. There was a ball in the evening at Buckingham school- house. A remarkable thing in connection with these celebrations was the great number who attended them, coming from twelve miles or more. The meetings were generally held in National Grove, but sometimes in Traer Park and Four Mile Grove. Often prominent men were procured from Toledo, Waterloo, Vinton and Cedar Rapids, yet home talent was mainly relied upon.
With patriotism thus in their nature, embued with political doctrines that found _expression in the creed of the Republican party, intelligent men that were habitual readers and deep thinkers, close observers of the political movements of the day, they were not unprepared for the action of the south when the first gun was fired upon Fort Sumter. It found the citizens of Buckingham in full sympathy with the government.
The north part of Tama county has from the first been noted for the intelligence and moral worth of its inhabitants, and her citizens have frequently been selected for important offices. In 1854 John Connell was elected Representative from this district, which was composed of Tama, Benton, Poweshiek and Jasper counties. He was Lieutenant-Colonel, and a Colonel of the 28th Iowa Infantry, and has for many years been Assessor and Collector of Internal Revenue for the Fourth District of Iowa.
Leander Clark was County Judge four years, Representative four years, Major in 24th Iowa Infantry, and Indian Agent.
William B. King, of Spring Creek, was State Senator for four years.
Joseph Dysart was State Senator six years and was Lieutenant-Governor two years.
James Wilson was six years a Representative, two years of which he was Speaker of the House, then elected to Congress, and is now (1875) serving his second term, making ten years of continuous legislative service in State and National councils.
G. Jaqua, another old settler, has served two terms as Representative.
In spite of our boasted moral worth, of religion, of the education we possessed and imparted, this settlement has witnessed the perpetration of as bad crimes as ever disgraced a rural population. (The details regarding matters which would come under this head are treated elsewhere in this volume.)
EXPENSES IN AN EARLY DAY.
The following is an extract from the book of expenditures of John Connell and brother:
July, To quarter section of land . . . . . . . . . $144.00
“ To expenses to Dubuque . . . . . . . . . . 20.00
“ To farming tools in Dubuque . . . . . . 15.00
Oct. To two horses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155.00
“ To one wagon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60.00
“ To one set harness, blanket, etc. . . . . . 27.00
“ To groceries, chains, etc. . . . . . . . . . . . 100.00
“ To stove, crockery, etc. . . . . . . . . . . . . 70.00
March, To 9 hogs from J. Connelly . . . . . . . 13.00
“ To 2 heifers from J. Connelly . . . . . 14.00
“ To corn for horses during winter . . . 25.00
“ To shoeing, medicine, etc. . . . . . . . . 5.00
April, To groceries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70.00
May, Bo't of Jos. Young, 80 ac. land . . . . 100.00
“ 20, Bo't of Mr. Helm, 2 cows . . . . . . . . 40.00
Jun, 20 Bo't of Pat Casey 1 cow . . . . . . . . . 40.00
Jun, 20 Bo't flour, meat, groceries, etc. at
Cedar Rapids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50.00
July 8. Breaking team (should be breaking land).....98 00
One page has the amount of cash capital invested by Johm, Joseph and robert Connell in their business in 1856, 4405.00. another page shows their expenditures in the saw mill.
The only entry in the docket of John Connell, the first justice, under date of June 13, 1854, relates to an estray, as follows: Black mare, 3 years old; 14 hands high, bald face, left hind foot white, scar on nowe, valued at $85.00, by Joseph Connell and J. P. Wood, appraisers. The estray was taken up by John Riley.
Thus I have endeavored to present to you the history of our old settlers, I trust as interesting to you as to me. I have done my part in gathering the facts. In looking back upon the time of 23 years it seems not long. The time is within the life of every adult, and on first thought it would seem that but few incidents of interest could be found. The days of the present and of the immediate past are not as the days of the last century. Great events are now crowded into a few years. Iowa, owing to easy facilities for travel, developed faster in twenty-five years than the wilds of more eastern states did in one hundred years. Measured by the past even, who can tell of the advancement that this settlement will see during the next generation? Those of us who shall stand here twenty years hence will witness important changes. The workers of the past twenty-three years leave no unimportant task to the workers of the coming time to rival them. May those coming after us do as well.
By Christopher Spire
It was hard times with us in those days. We had to go to Iowa City to mill, which generally took five days and sometimes we could not buy even a bushel of corn meal for love or money. Some of the people would take an ear of corn and rub it on a grater; that is take a piece of old stove pipe and punch it full of holes with a peg and awl from the under side, then take an ear of corn and rib it on the top side till they have got enough meal to make a johnny cake. They would do this sooner than go so far to mill. He says one day some one told him there was a mill some ten or twelve miles south of where he lived, so he started with his oxen and some corn to find it. He wanted some corn meal and pork pretty bad; wheat flour was out of the question with most people in those days.
After wandering about in the snow all day, he came to the mill at night, but the miller could neither grind his corn, sell him any meal or pork nor yet keep him over night; the mill was frozen up and the miller just as bad off as anybody else, so there was no help but to drive somewhere else, and he wandered over the prairie till past midnight, before he could find a house to stay at till day light; there he told the man of the house that he was wanting corn meal and pork, and where he came from and where he had been and the man says stay till morning and I will tell you where you can buy a fat hog. In the morning he tells me where to go for the hog; it was a long ways and I did not get there till nearly night, but he found the hog, it was large one, but not very fat and the man was quite willing to sell it. The hog was in a large pen and the man had no way of catching it, nor yet any gun to shoot it, but he said he would catch it by the leg and then I was to strike it on the head with an ax, and he chased that hog for a long time, but could not catch it; then I told the man that I would catch the hog and he might strike it with the ax. Well I caught the hog by the leg but he was too stout for me, but I hung to him and he drug me round that yard till my hands was bruised pretty bad against the frosted ground, and that man could not get to strike that hog at all, and I let go.
It was now night and I had to go without the hog back to the place where I stayed the night before, and I stayed there another night, and in the morning the man of the house told me there was a small grist mill about nine miles south, and he was about sure that I could get my corn ground there, as it was a steam mill, and maybe I could buy some pork. So I starts off for that mill and gets there early in the day, and the miller told me that he could not grind my corn till night as he had to run the saw in the day time, so I told him that if he was sure it would be ground in the morning, I would go and get a place to stop at till morning, and he says your corn will be ground in the morning if you leaves it, so I left the corn and I found a good place to stop at over night and the man at the house told me he would take good care of my oxen, so I goes into the house and stays till morning and I got a good supper, bed and before I got my breakfast, I went to see that my oxen was well fed before starting for home, which was about thirty miles from there, but when I got to the barn, I found my oxen was not there, some one had been in the night and taken them away. After breakfast the man and me hunted a greater part of the day after them oxen and finally we finds them at a lean hay stack, penned up good, and I throws down the fence and takes the oxen and makes for the mill, and when I got there I finds my corn was not ground. Then I felt like cursing the whole State of Iowa, and was willing to give any man a dollar that would have helped me, but finally the miller agreed to give me another man's grist, and then I felt better and started for home. I don't know whether the miller got another cursing after I was gone or not, for I don't think I ever saw him since. Well, I got within about four miles of home late in the night in the midst of a fearful snow storm. It was at a house where there lived two first-rate young men. They had me stay till morning, and I told them where I had been and what I was after and the trouble I had been into, and the men told me not to mind and in the morning they would fix me all right. So in the morning they sold me two nice fat hogs; one we butchered and put in the sled, but we tied the legs of the other and put it in the sled, allowing that the live hog and myself would keep the dead hog warm till I got home, and then I would scald and dress it. So I began to feel rich and made for home as fast as I could.
Well, I got safe home rejoicing, but before I could take care of my live hog, and get water scalded for the other, it was night again; but I knowed if that hog was not dressed that night it would be froze like a rock in the morning, and it was so cold out of doors that we had to scald that hog in the house. So my wife and me gets a barrel and sets it on a stoop against a dry goods box and puts in the hot water and gets the hog on the box, and in he goes, and when we went to pull the hog out, by some means the barrel slipped up straight on its end and we could not get that hog out of that barrel, and there was no help but to push that barrel over and spill the water over the floor; and then we got the hog out of the barrel, but we had no more hot water to scald the top end of the hog. So I gets my razor and shaves the hair off, and I made a good, clean job, and next morning we had johnny cake and liver for breakfast, and ever since then we have had better luck in the pork and johnny cake business.
|Tama Co. Home Page||Table of Contents||Biography List||Portrait List||Certificates||ChapterXII|