Tama County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Star – Clipper Supplement
Traer, Iowa, April 8, 1887
History of North Tama
By Daniel Connell

Chapter XXX
Annual Meetings

There is a time in the life of man and woman that is of interest-the time when they leave the home of their birth and childhood, their parents and all the pleasing associations of life. The emigrant, however much he expects to better his fortunes by emigration, parts with the land of his nativity with misgivings, and reaches his destination in sorrow and uncertainty. Particularly in 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 obstacles and when success has crowned his efforts there are few more pleasing thoughts than the retrospective, and the sweetest of delights is to gather together and rehearse the incidents of their sojourn in the new land. Annual meetings of old settlers are becoming common in the West since the old settlers have become able to enjoy themselves, and nothing is more interesting to them at these reunions than the 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 to very many.

People never tire of the oft told tale of the early day, whether told in book or on the platform. We are interested in the history of the community we helped to create, deeply interested. The first man here and when he came; who made the first land entry and when; who were first married and what the bride wore, and who performed the ceremony; the first birth and the first death are of interest. Also the first meeting and the first school; the first election, number of votes and who was elected; the erection of a saw and grist mill; the long trips to market, the enjoyments of those trips, enjoyments that are now unknown, and many other matters which are of interest. As the years glide by the early settlers one by one are passing away, and soon there will be no one left to tell the story.

To perpetuate this interest these annual reunions are of importance as well as for the enjoyment of the occasion. They have not had as much prominence in this settlement as they should have had. They have been substituted in a large measure by our Fourth of July celebrations of which we have treated.

In the early summer of 1875 it was determined to have an old settlers reunion in the autumn, and Daniel Connell accepted the task to deliver a historical address. The gathering was in the Congregational church, which was densely crowded. The address was followed by one of James Wilson. So well pleased were all with this meeting it was resolved to have another the following year.

In 1876 the old settlers' meeting was a success, and was held in Seaver & McClary's Hall. The weather was favorable-moon at the full. The large hall was filled, many being present who were not the previous years.

To determine the character of the audience as to their claims to be denominated old settlers those who had been in the settlement fifteen years were asked to arise, when a large number arose.

Those of twenty years standing-1858-were quite numerous, and when the twenty-three years'-1855-residents were called there arose more than a score, and when the twenty-five years'-1853-veterans arose there were twelve, and there were several who had a twenty-six years' residence.

The meeting was opened by the entire audience singing that grand old hymn, "Old Hundred;" prayer by the chaplain, Rev. S. W. Ingham, of early days.

Speeches short and to the subject were made in the following order: Mr. Ingham, D. Connell, W. Wilson, G. Sloss, Mrs. Branaman, James Fowler, J. T. Ames, T. F. Clark, Mr. Bailey, of Howard, and Rev. Mr. Smith.

T. F. Clark sang "Tis twenty years ago, Tom," with fine effect, and the choir of 1856, consisting of T. F. Clark, chorister, Dr. Daniel and wife, Q. D.Hartshorn and wife, Mrs. Mary Ames and Mrs. Jane Smith, sang" The Old House at Home."

The crowning event of the evening was the representation of a singing class as conducted by Joe Vertrees, an eccentric singing master of our early day. The representation was by John Wilson, Jr., a prince of imitators, and a more side-splitting performance is seldom given. At half past ten supper was announced, when nearly one hundred went to the Best House, and for an hour discussed a meal such as the settlers did not have in the "auld lang syne." The old settlers' meeting of 1878 will long be remembered by the survivors.

The reunion of 1886 was held in the opera house in October. There were no conventional addresses, but short speeches were made by J. T. Ames, W. Wilson, T. F. Clark, A. Wood, J. H. Scott, Rev. S. W. Ingham, B. Keeler, John Gray, and Rev. Dr. Bingham. In all probability these meetings will be continued by the sons and daughters of the first settlers long after the old ones shall be gathered to their Father.

Chapter XXXI

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