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1906 Center Township Atlas

Center Twp Dubuque County, Iowa

I arrived in Dubuque with my parents in 1845 and we settled in Center township, There was a scant settlement. Five Americans were here- namely, Antoine Lore, John Morgan, William Morison and  P. L. Sharp. There were only two German families, Louis Fettgather, C.F.Humke, and Several other bachelors, that comprised the population. In 1846-47 the population increased rapidly, Mostly Germans and a few French.

Whenever a family arrived they were welcomed and assisted in locating a home. All the newcomers made for the timberlands, for the woods, and water which was abundant in every valley and dale. Log Cabins were built when families made their appearance, we all turned out and helped to build. The worked commenced early in the morning and was completed by evening, and so went on for sometime, every one giving a helping hand. All enjoyed it and were happy.

The neighbors got together and talked about their progress. There was no grudge or enmity. Whenever misfortune or loss occurred it was made up by the sympathizing neighbors. None suffered on that account. Most of these people had to buy their claims, which took about all the means they had. So many of them opened their land manually with grub-hoes and planted their corn where the stumps and trees outnumbered the hills of corn. Horses were scarce, and the only teams to work with were oxen teams, and they were scarce at that time. Twenty-five dollars would buy a yoke of oxen , $6.00  would be the price of a cow. If a man could not pay for a beast there was not even a note or security asked for. They paid when they could.

So it went along like this until 1848-49, the country improved rapidly, stocks was more plentiful, land getting cleared up, and oats, rye, and fall wheat were raised and turned out well. The grain was threshed with flall, as there were no machines . There was no first grist to the old Catfish mill and got it exchanged . I got eighteen pounds of flour, two pounds of middling's, and 5 pounds of bran, which made twenty-five pounds. The toll was thirty five pounds for the miller.

The township was heavily timbered. One of the principals sources of revenue was the burning of lime, which we delivered to Dubuque for 35 cents a barrel. Labor was cheap. We paid 20 cents a load for wood, for rails we paid 50 cents a hundred, and the laborers were glad to do it for that price . The work was mostly chopping of wood, as there was a great amount of charcoal burned. There was considerable mining done in the township. There were no mills until the fifties-then there were three saw mills and two grist mills built. This was a great improvement, though they only ground corn.

The hauling was all done with oxen, even going to religious service. Ministers use to come from Dubuque once a month , and every denomination was represented. The question was never asked what sect you belonged to; everyone was well pleased and satisfied, and peace and harmony prevailed.

After the fifties the aim to get rich quick took hold of a majority , and some who were less fortunate found fault and things did not work as presently as before, but weather from ignorance or mismanagement I cannot say.

This town politically was strongly democratic. The candidates of both parties, democratic's and Whigs, used to meet and discuss the issues , and there were no slurs or abusing of each other, just as it is done today.

During the civil war the township was loyal and furnished it's quota of men. We made a collection and received $3,000 bond from the county. I was a member of the committee to engage. Our quota was eleven men. Some of the townships were to be drafted. We had ten men, and it was difficult to engage men. Every township had committees to engage men to prevent the draft.

Peru Township took a man up in the enlisting office, consisting of Provo Marshal Hon. D. B. Henderson and Dr. Phillips . They refused to accept this man, who was about 40 years of age, but whose attire was not in good shape, being very much soiled and torn in several places. The man was very much discouraged when he left the office, so I followed him out onto the street and made him a proposition that if he was willing, I would get him a suit of cloths and then try and get him accepted. If was accepted he was to have the price of the cloths deducted from his pay, and if not he could keep them. He agreed to do it and was dressed up from head to foot, shaved and given his dinner. Later on I took him back to the enrolling board and told the Hon. D. B . Henderson that I had the man to make the quota, and said bring him in, when he took his measure the doctor pronounced him to be all right. He measured 6ft in his shoes. He was accepted and patted on the shoulder and was told he was the kind of man that was wanted. I was much tickled, and the township as relieved and the committee rejoiced.

The people progressed and the township increased with newcomers, who were diligent, improving and cultivating the lands and becoming well to do, as everything brought good prices.

In 1865, I had the honor of being elected to the Legislature for two years. I have occupied every township office in the gift of the people up to 1900 when I retired from my farm. I am the only one left of the old settlers to tell of the old times.

In center township of 1845 and 1906 there is a great change . The old landmarks are all gone. None of the mills remain , and no more old pioneers. Improvements of all kinds have taken place, telephones are in use, and the rural mail makes the farmer as happy as the town folks. The old-Tongue-wagons have disappeared, surreys and carriages are galore on Sundays, every farmer is trying to supersede his neighbor, showing himself if not behind any of them.

~ contributed by Barbara Campbell, Great Great Granddaughter of Andrew Bahl

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