Peeking Into Lake City's Past

Moyers were Developers of Calhoun Township

Every American family came to the United States from somewhere else in the world. Only the Indians are natives and we are told they migrated here from Russian Siberia, crossing on the ice in winter to Alaska and on south to inhabit what is now the USA. The United States is called the Melting Pot of World Population because there are Americans who represent every culture and religion that exists on planet Earth.

Our nation's rural Midwest region, of which Iowa is a part, was largely developed after 1846 when Iowa was granted statehood. We should not forget that when the early settlers came, there was no civilization here, just swamp-impregnated prairie land, infested with many kinds of wild, predatory animals, rodents and disease-carrying insects.

Graphic articles compiled by the Lake City Historical Society cover the settlement of two original townships in Calhoun County, namely Jackson and Calhoun.

The first group to settlers in our county located their claims in Jackson and Calhoun townships, founding the town of Lake City near the dividing line to become the seat of county government.

Only after the dryer parcels of land were taken did immigrants homestead the timberless swamp land north and east of Lake city, toward the center and northern sections of Calhoun County.

In early times, speculators would homestead land, build a small cabin where they lived until the title cleared, sell for profit. There were instances where a speculator with a large family would homestead a farm for each child over 18, throw up a cheap cabin and sell when titles cleared. There were cases where such farms were sold to other speculators who re-sold the land to immigrant families. Then there were cases where a settler could not tolerate the riggors of pioneer life and would sell his partially improved farm to a newcomer. For the above reasons many Calhoun county farms changed hands until a solid settler made the acquisition.

Our subject for this review begins with the family of John and Nancy Govel Moyers from Pennsylvania who decided they should migrate west to the frontier state of Illinois, settling in DeKalb County. John and Nancy had a son named Boyd G. Moyers, born at DeKalb, Illinois on November 16, 1868. He grew to manhood and married an attractive young lady named Effie Mae Burchfield, who was born on February 25, 1870. Boyd and Effie Mae, like their parents, felt the call of the west, so they moved from DeKalb to Lake city where they purchased a 160 acre farm on Section 26, Calhoun Township, southeast of Lake City.

The only improvement on this farm was a fence built around the perimeter by the previous owner. It was a swampy-wet acreage that must be drained to become productive.

Their first task was to build a small house, in which they lived until 1908 along with other buildings necessary to the husbanding of live stock. Boyd and Effie Mae Moyers had four children. Their first, born on Calhoun township farm, was Ralph, who became a veteran of World War I and went to his demise in 1923.

On July 20, 1896, their second child, Harry Boyd Moyers, was born. Harry, like his brother, also served in World War I and still lives on the farm. Five years later, Howard Moyers came into the world. Howard lived to age 71, passing to his reward in 1972. The Moyer's fourth, a baby girl, died in infancy.

In spite of drainage work done on the farm, there was enough water and ice during the winters to enable the Moyer sons to skate all the way from their home to school.

When Harry B. was 19 or 20 years old, like many young men of his generation, he fell madly in love and on May 25, 1918, was united in marriage to his young fiance, Miss Edna Shaw.

In 1917, the year before Harry's marriage, the Moyers acquired the services of Otto Batty and his father to build a new house, west of the one that is there today. Harry and Edna Shaw Moyers lived in this new house until 1922, when tragedy struck their lives. Harry's young wife was taken from him by death. This left Harry and his brother with two houses and no wives, so they sold the new house to a neighbor, Frank Dowling, who moved it a quarter mile east and a mile south to the farm where the Marvin Berns family now resides.

Pioneer Boyd G. and Effie Burchfield Moyers spent the balance of their lives on their Calhoun township farm. Effie Mae died in 1923 at the early age of 53, while her husband, Boyd, lived to the ripe age of 78, going to his reward in November 1946.

Boyd and Effie's second son, Harry Moyers, our subject, entered into his second marriage with another attractive young lady named Miss Opal Crabb, on March 3, 1926, at the age of 30 years. Their ceremony took place at Manson, in the home of his brother, Howard Moyers. Opal Crabb came into this world on September 27, 1903. Opal is the daughter of Sherman and Elizabeth Flannigan Crabb. She united her life with Harry B. Moyers at the age of 23 years. There were no children born to this union.

Harry and Opal Crabb Moyers are highly regarded in this community. Their image is one of stability, frugality and compassion. They are known to possess characteristics typically related to those early settlers who developed our community from a wilderness. They have for many years been regarded as faithful members of the Methodist Christian faith, supporting the Lake City church, and have since transferred their loyalties to the new Lake City Union Church. Opal is also a charter member of the Pal-O-Mine Club, organized in 1926.

The Moyers, looking toward retirement when Harry became 66 years of age, rented their farm to Lubbert DeVries, who cared for the land sixteen years. The farm is currently rented to Delroy DeVries, Lubbert's son.

The Moyers say they are enjoying retirement. For a number of years they have traveled far and wide satisfying a desire which they could not fulfill during the younger period of their lives.

Harry and Opal are the recipients of the God-given blessing of good health and longevity. They have been married for nearly 56 years. Harry has reached the age of 86 and Opal is 81. In the writer's opinion, Harry and Opal Moyers are living examples of those who have partaken of the good life in rural Iowa during the most progressive period in the history of the world. No other country and no other place offers greater rewards than our generation have received in rural Iowa. We are the recipients of great progress made possible by those who settled and developed this once wilderness land. Progress born out of physical hardships and self-sacrifice. Let us thank our God for those who brought us to the greatest land on earth. Such is our heritage.