grandfather Wm. Rowlee and the other wagon pulled by oxen driven by my great-grandmother Cornelia Humphery’s brother, Norris Humphery. Wm. Rowlee’s children are Humphery Woodford, Newell S., John Quincy Adams (age 4), and Sedate P There is no record of any family of Norris Humphery.
The wagon train left Johnstown, OH for their land in Orleans Twp, Winneshiek Co. I have the notebook of some of the stops, starting at Johnstown, and ending at Burr Oak Springs Land Bank Office to get the location of their farm. It was prairie land with a huge spring, big enough to drown a horse, my Mother told me. They lived in the covered wagons until a log house could be built. By then it was getting into fall and they were running out of food and other supplies, so they drove the 3-day trip to McGregor. The trail was called the overland route. It was hard living, I can remember the tales of the wolves in the winter time coming close to the cabin and howling. All the animals had to be penned up real good.
In 1861 the Civil War was on and the call came for volunteers. Great-Uncle Humphery Woodford Rowlee answered the call in 1862. He left with a team of horses and wagon and served in some of the hardest battles of the Civil War. His original Co. D of the 38th Iowa was so cut up in battle that it was transferred to Co. H of the 34th Regiment in Jan 1865. He lived to come home with wagon and team with lumber to help build a new house. He was mustered out as 8th Corporal in 1865. I have a copy of his letter home when he was stationed outside of Atlanta when it was burned.
Grandpa Rowlee (J.Q. as he was called) married Julia Battey from Hesper, IA in the bride's father’s home in 1890.
I have the original wedding papers. Grandpa was known to have purchased rustled horses and cattle to use on his farm. “Rustler’s Grove” it was called over near where Lime Springs is now. He was a successful farmer. When he died in 1932 we found where he had shares in a Percheron Stallion. A few of his friends got together and paid $20,000 for a Percheron stallion shipped from England. I know Grandpa raised Percheron horses on his farm (the home place it was called), until a violent lightning storm killed 8 of his breeding stock, and this put him out of business. He also had a fruit ranch out West and a farm in Minnesota.
My mother was his only living child, Lydia Cornelia Rowlee, born 1892. At age 8 Grandpa and Grandma and my mother took a 2-year trip west to visit Aunt Agnes, Aunt Ruby and Aunt Mary Battey. They went by train to Oregon where Agnes lived and stayed there long enough for my mother to get acquainted with the governor's daughter. There they gathered a wooden bucket of agates and other rocks from the beach. (I have the wooden bucket with one rock left in my home in Hesper.) Then they went on to Canada to visit Aunt Mary Nunnemaker and her husband (they lived in the Province of Alberta, Canada), then back to Seattle, then by sailing boat to San Francisco, and then by train back to Iowa.
Grandpa planted all the trees in our grove plus 4 acres of apple trees. Great-Grandpa Wm. Rowlee believed in education so he decided to deed land to the State of Iowa with a 99-year lease for a school to be built on our farm. I have a copy of the carpenter’s blue prints with instructions for the new school to be finished for the fall of 1898. It was known as Orleans #3. My mother and her ten living children all graduated from the 8th grade in this school. The lease ran out after I was married. One-room school house education was really good, because I was not too smart of a kid but the first year of high school I was on the honor roll. It was fun — school programs, new teachers, box socials and Christmas programs and dinners - always lots of work but something to look back on with fond memories.
Grandpa Rowlee went to Cresco to buy a new car in the late 1920's. He paid for it and the salesman gave him all the instructions on how to start, run and stop it. We heard him coming for some time; he got through the gate, but he forgot how to stop it, and was heard hollering “Whoa! Whoa!” like it was a horse as he slammed into the wood pile to get it stopped.
When my mother and father got married, Lydia C. Rowlee and Bertrum L. Perry in 1907, Grandpa Rowlee gave the farm to my mother. They in turn moved to Cresco, purchased a house (still there) and lived there until Grandma died early in 1932. Grandpa came back to live with us on the farm where he died Nov 1932 at the age of 82.
My Mother had 12 children (2 dying in infancy). My Father died in 1951. My Mother married her first cousin Ellis Bloom in 1954 (her Aunt Ruble’s only son). They made their home in Long Beach, CA, then moved to Chico, CA when Ellis retired. They had a five acre nut orchard, where they had a well dug and moved a trailer in to live in. They lived there until Ellis died in 1968. Mom lived alone for some time, then sold the property to her grandson Richard Lawrence. She then moved to Miramonte, CA and lived in the home she had purchased near her daughter, Bonny’s home. In her later years she lived with her granddaughters Judy, Jo Ann and Jeanie and grandson Jerry. She died Jan 1985 at Jeanie’s home, and was buried by Ellis (her second husband) in Chico, CA. All of her children were at her funeral except her son, Jim. They came from Illinois, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota. Oregon, Washington and Arizona. She died 6 Jan 1985 just short of her 93rd birthday which would have been 4 Feb 1985.
My mother’s only playmate was a little Indian girl. I remember the thrill of threshing day, the arrival of Mr. Hovey's steam threshing machine — the crew with teams and hay wagons — the preparation of the food for all the men — wood burning cook stoves in August - Hot! Hot! Hot! I remember the competitive cooks on the crew — who had the best meals? No one beat our mother on the sliced tomatoes, both red and yellow — the first of the season. It was “our secret” how she could always have the first tomatoes — no one else ever beat her. Also experiences canning and preserving food.
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this page was last updated on Monday, 29 March 2021