Early Clearfield History
submitted by: Lorelei Rusco lorerus@iowatelecom.net

In Pioneer Days. From the Clearfield Enterprise, August 7, 1919

It is interesting to review the progress the race has made in the time of one old person such as Mrs. [Ann Hurd] Chittenden or Mrs. [Catherine] Gard, both of whom died in July in their nineties.


It is not necessary to go back to the eighteen-twenties to find great changes.  In 1866 there were but two families between them and Bedford, Jenks and Robinson, living this side of where Conway stands.  Lenox was not yet and settlers to the north very few.  People would go for ten miles to borrow flour or meal. Mr. Gard sometimes went to Savannah, Mo., thru deep snow with oxen, and paid $1.00 a bushel for corn, which he had ground and took home to feed the family.


Mrs. Gard came to Ringgold county with her husband and children in 1855, — to Iowa a few years before that, riding from Indiana on horseback, over 500 miles on a man's saddle.  They came from Washington county to Ringgold with oxen, having no horses till some years later. At that time there was not a frame house or a bridge in the county.  They settled on the farm three miles northeast of town, now owned by Boyd Nevill.


There was very little money. Men came to buy hogs, paid $1.25 per hundred, then drove them to Eddyville to market. Mr. Gard would walk to Bedford carrying a basket of butter to market. Mrs. Gard in wartime went to Jenks, bo't a cow, and drove her home. This was after the death of her husband.


Once E. M. Gard and his brother found a deer just killed by cougars, and also killed one of the cougars. The family had meat intended for the beasts that time. The winter of 1863—64 about 300 Indians came to the Platte right next to the Gard farm, and stayed there nearly all winter. Their horses ate all the food in the fields; and by spring there was not a living bird or animal to be found in the neighborhood.


The prairie fires were dangerous, and terrifying. Once the farm was stripped bare, and the buildings barely saved. Eggs brought 3c per dozen, and that was welcome money when it was cash. People five or six miles away were neighbors.


Mr. E. M. Gard now owns a part of the original farm, living half a mile from the old home. One acre brings as much in good money today as the first settlers paid the government for a quarter section. That is but one of the changes. Sixty years ago a man standing on the site of Clearfield would see prairie and nothing else. Even the trees along the River were below the hills, and it was simply grass and sky.