Tama County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Star – Clipper Supplement
Traer, Iowa, December 24, 1886
History of North Tama
By Daniel Connell

Chapter IV
The Scotch Settlement-Splendid Citizens-Arrivals in 1856, Etc.

The action of one man or of a few the men often diverts the movements of many. The actions of a church organization tended to the colonization of New England, and ultimately to the, government of the United States as it was and is. William Penn opened the way for Pennsylvania as it is today. But for him there would have been some other way for that territory, for better or for worse. We find it difficult to conceive for it a better destiny. So it is in smaller enterprises. It is safe to say a more prosperous settlement than that included in the original Buckingham of six congressional townships is not in Iowa or elsewhere, made so by those settlers who went there to stay. As has been noted, there is a class of men who push for the front. In days before railroads the outfit of a family of this class was contained in one wagon drawn by two horses, so called in charity, with a box of chickens at the tail board and a cow led behind. They entered or claimed the best land, generally with timber and water, unloaded and waited for an eastern man with money to buy them out, when they would load up and push for the front to renew their course. The men who purchased the lands or claims of the pioneers were the ones who formed the character of the settlement. A characteristic of western emigration was it traveled on parallel lines from its starting point. Those from the north had the forty second line in view; those from the south kept below that line. Northern Iowa has a different population from that on the southern line. The north is radically different from the south in enterprise and development and will ever be. Allusion has been made to the accessions made to the settlement through the prior coming of H. C. Green. In another State other individuals were thinking, speaking and planning what best for themselves, and others looking to them. In 1851 at Norwich, Connecticut, a romantic city, like ? On seven hills, its base watered by a noble river with two others running through it, at whose wharves in those days were discharged merchandise from every clime her hills crowned with schools and churches, her valleys filled with factories and shops, were two young men animated with a desire to push on in search of fortune and possibly fame. The elder was recently from Scotland; the other had been brought thither by his parents when but a lad. The elder was West Wilson and the other was John Connell. Often did they consult, plan and consider where they should go and when. At that time speculators were active in proclaiming the beauty, the health and fertility of the mountain district of Tennessee. Waldon Ridge, in the blue mountains, was the location of the paradise, and many in Norwich were captivated in advance and went to view the promised land. Mr. Wilson was inclined to go south. Mr. Connell was averse on account of the institution of slavery, that he did not want to cast his lot for life surrounded by its influences. The result of their deliberations was that one should go west and the other south, and that they should communicate with each other the result of their observations. Having an acquaintance a few miles north of Galena, within Wisconsin, Mr. Connell with his brother Joseph repaired thither in may, 1852. A few weeks of observation of that country failed to satisfy them, and they concluded to visit Iowa. On the ferry boat while crossing the Mississippi river to Dubuque they met Jonas P. Wood and William D. Hitchner, who were on a similar errand. Finding the acquaintance mutually satisfactory they agreed to journey together. Mr. Wood having an acquaintance in Vinton they set out for that point. Arriving, they called on the friend, one Dr. Stanbury, who was engaged in the practice of medicine in that embryo city, then with four log cabins in which to house her few citizens. The doctor had come west with political views and aspirations. The legislative halls and the Governor’s easy chair danced before his eyes. Vinton must not be settled by Whigs, so the pilgrims were informed there was no vacant land in the vicinity of Vinton, but on Big Creek there was land to be obtained. Our pilgrims set out on foot for the promised land, the doctor remarking to a friend: “I have got rid of a nest of Whigs.” Such is the short-sighted policy of men. This is the history of the way these men reached this settlement. Mr. Connell communicated with Mr. Wilson. They exchanged views and the result was that Mr. W. eventually joined his friend on Wolf creek in Tama county. The consequences of this decision of the young men have been conducive of great good to the settlement, giving it an impulse, an aid that greatly tended to make it what it is. The influence of Mr. Connell drew but few families directly-only his father, mother, three brothers and two sisters, Mr. Gordon and his family and a few others who came and entered land but did not settle. This family influence drew the attention of a christian gentleman of means to the educational and religious wants of the community, and nobly he came to our aid. The direct result of the coming of Mr. Wilson was the accession of his brother’s large family; of George Sloss, and subsequently his two brothers; of Gilbert McMillan and a large family; of Andrew McCosh; of Robert Young and his father’s large family; of Gilbert McDowall with six stalworth sons and five daughters; of John Galt, son and daughters; of Andrew Dodd with as many sons and daughters as McDowall; of Thompson Wier; of Edward Dodd, of the Whannell’s; of Andrew Wilson; of McCraken, together with almost an endless procession families more of less related to the Wilsons. The sons and daughters of these families have married and settled until there was no room, and the younger ones have sought homes toward the setting sun. These men were bred farmers and stock raisers, and early saw that raising grain to sell would not pay and turned their attention to horses, cattle and swine. Such was their judgment and experience that our wilderness has become a garden. The Scotchmen of the Wolf valley have been an important factor in the development of Northern Tama. In education their motto has been Excelsior. In religion their three well-filled churches and able ministers attest their devotion to their maker and precepts of the “auld kirk.” They still sing the psalms of David, and without the aid of a “kist o’ whistles.”

The year 1856 was a year of important accessions to the settlement, and we fear we will not be able to chronicle them all from this on. To Buckingham there came John Galt, his son David and two daughters: Jane, who married Peter McCornack, and Elizabeth, wife of Robert Provan. Mr. Galt was just from Scotland, and Mrs. Galt was a sister of the Wilsons. He was a blacksmith as was his son. They came to engage in farming and purchased land in section 32 and in section 5 in Perry. While opening their farm, and seeing there was work in their line, they opened a blacksmith shop in the village of Buckingham, continuing the business for several years. Mr. Galt died in 1885, universally respected. David opened a farm of 300 acres partly on the same section 2. John Hankinson came from Illinois and entered land in section 3. In 1886 he returned to Illinois and subsequently removed to Kansas. John D. Lutzo was a solitary German who owned forty acres in section 14. He went to town or elsewhere on business riding on the back of an ox. In 1870 he sold to the Cummings Bros. and departed. Daniel Burnison owned land in section 14. He sold it to E. C. Farnum and wended his way south. Adin Antrim purchased land in section 33, cultivated it until 1880, when he removed to Traer. He is still the owner of the land. G. Jaqua became a marked and leading man in the political and educational interests of the town. He taught in the village school a number of years. He was for many years a school director, justice of the peach, member of the board of supervisors of the county, town clerk, and for four years a member of the General Assembly. During the performance of all these duties he attended so closely to a farm of half a section in 28 and 33 as not to know want. Well versed in political topics and a ready writer, he became the half owner and editor of the STAR-CLIPPER, and is at present the agricultural editor. Three years since he rented the farm and resides in Traer. L. H. Thomas was a potter by trade. He came from Ohio and purchased ten acres of land adjoining the village of Buckingham, erected a pottery shop, and for many years with the assistance of a son manufactured earthenware which he sold in all the country round about for many miles, supplying dealers in Cedar Rapids, Vinton, Cedar Falls, Toledo and Grundy Center. Finally he opened a general store in Buckingham, and removed it to Traer when that town was started, and died in 1885. Mrs. Thomas lives in Traer at an advance age. His eldest son was a cabinet maker. He enlisted into the 14th Iowa infantry and died while on the Red river expedition. B. F. Thomas assisted his father until he entered the army at an early period of the war in the company raised by Capt. Stivers in the 14th Iowa. He was at Fort Donelson, Fort Henry and Pittsburg Landing, where he was captured; was paroled and returned home, exchanged, rejoined his regiment and served three years an honorable citizen soldier. Marrying a daughter of John Stoakes he purchased land belonging to Gen. Shaw, his old commander, and settled down to the life of a quiet farmer. The eldest daughter of the senior Mr. Thomas is the wife of Mr. Jaqua. His second daughter died in Buckingham in October, 1856. The youngest Rebecca, wife of John R. Felter, died recently in Traer.

Chapter V

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