Jefferson County Online
The Scott Family In America
Transcribed by Deborah Brownfield-Stanley
From Jefferson County Records, Vol. 3,
by Orville and Mary Prill.

"Mr. R. T. H. Gilmer has given some information concerning his SCOTT ancestry as follows:"

ANDREW SCOTT emigrated from Scotland and settled in Pennsylvania about 1725.  A son, John SCOTT, was born about 1734 in Pennsylvania.  John SCOTT was a soldier in the American Revolution, and married, 1st, about 1756 Anna CRAYTON.  They had one child, Elizabeth.  Anna (CRAYTON) SCOTT died, and John Scott married, second, Nancy KEITH.  They had twelve children.  The family moved to Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1824, and settled in Island Grove.

REV. ANDREW SCOTT (Minister of the Christian Church), son of John and Nancy (KEITH) SCOTT, was born Nov. 21, 1786, in North Carolina; married May 28, 1808, in Jackson County, Tenn., Anna LONGGEST, who was born in 1791 (Oct. 18, 1789?) in South Carolina, near the sea coast…Of their children:

James Longgest Scott, born Jan. 12, 1813, Giles County, Tenn., (“Pageon Roost, watter of Elk”) came to Sangamon County (Ill.) in 1824, and was married in Iowa to Mary A. GILMER.  Had eight children; lived near Des Moines.

Anna, born Jan. 21, 1817, in Orange County, Ind., (“3 forks of little Blue”), married Tilford GILMER, lived near Glasgow, Jefferson County, Iowa.

Caleb Longgest Scott fourth son of Rev. Andrew and Anna SCOTT, born at Richland, Sangamon County, Ill., Dec. 14 (22nd), 1821.  Entered Jacksonville college at Jacksonville, Illinois, but before graduation took the “gold fever” and with the party of 1850, crossed the plains, and commenced explorations in the gold fields of California…On Feb. 21, 1860, married Charlotte King TEMPLETON at the home of her mother at Wooster, Jefferson County, Iowa.  Six children.  He died Feb. 29, 1892 at Larned, Kansas; buried at Little River.

Wilson Alexander Scott, born Nov. 20, 1818, in Crawford County, Ind. (3 forks of little blue”); came to Sangamon County, Ill., in 1824, was married in Iowa to Mrs. Louisa JAYNE.  Went to Fort Des Moines and traded with the Indians there until they removed west.  He accompanied them but returned to Des Moines, laid out the town on the east of the river, and it was largely through his influence and contributions that the capital was built on that side.  He went to California, returned to Des Moines and contributed two or three years to the building up of the city; started up Pike’s Peak and died at Fort Laramie in 1859.  His remains were buried at Des Moines.

(The preceding SCOTT records were taken, in part, from “History of the Early Settlers of Sangamon County, Illinois,” by John Carroll Power…1876)

Jefferson County, Iowa, Deed Book “A” page 230.  Bond recorded Aug. 4, 1842, John A. Pitzer & James L. & Alex Scott, from Board of Commissioners, Lot 7, Block 12.  (Block 12, Old Plat, is the block just east of Central Park.  Lot 7 is in the SW corner of the block.)

Clipping from the collection of Mr. R. T. H. Gilmer, probably from a Des Moines newspaper, about 1913.

(Photo of Alexander Scott)


Memory of Alexander Scott Revered at Annual Meeting
of Pioneers’ Association.  Effort will be Made to
Have Legislature Mark Resting Place…

Above an unhonored grave in a neglected spot in Des Moines with neither stick nor stone to mark its location, may be reared a noble monument to commemorate the life and deeds of Alexander SCOTT.  Mr. SCOTT built and paid for the first state house in Des Moines and gave to the state of Iowa later a part of the ground upon which now stands the present capitol.  Fifty-four years after his burial the pioneers of Des Moines ask that the citizens of Iowa honor the man who made the erection of the magnificent capitol possible…

Alexander SCOTT’S grave, according to statements of the pioneers, is located at a place never to be guessed as a burial place.  It lies just south of Vine Street, midway between East Eleventh and Twelfth streets.  Unsightly outbuildings are crowded around it.  There is nothing there now to mark his burial place.  Once there was a fence about the grave placed there by a brother, long since dead, but it has been torn down.  A friend planted a tree by the side of the grave, but several years ago this too was cut down.  All that remains now to mark the grave is a shattered stump.

SCOTT was the pioneer of pioneers of Des Moines…Because of his great love for the Des Moines river valley, he asked that his body be buried on a knoll overlooking the wife sweep of the prairie and on a spot designated by him.  It is the hope of the remaining pioneers of Des Moines that public spirit will prompt the citizens of Iowa and Des Moines generously to do honor to the man who made the location of the capitol possible for Des Moines…As the result of his generosity to Iowa, Alexander SCOTT died penniless…

Des Moines Capital
Friday, December 6, 1918


After more than half a century the state of Iowa has made provision to honor the hardy old pioneer who made the present location of Iowa’s state house possible by donating a portion of the grounds and helping to build the first building.  His remains lie buried on a high bluff near the southeast corner of the capital extension grounds, which he himself chose as his last resting place, which choice his relatives and friends respected when he died.  Now the state executive council…is arranging to have the pioneer’s monument, which stands in the center of the Locust street entrance to the capitol grounds moved to the grave of this man whom local historians record as the pioneer of pioneers.

To the present generation this lonesome, out-of –way spot seems a queer location for a grave.  But SCOTT came to Polk County with the Indians in 1843 and his wife was an Indian girl.  It was the custom of those early old timers to satisfy their adventurous and romantic natures by choosing a picturesque spot for their last resting place.  And SCOTT picked out the high bluff overlooking the great river valley which in those days was virgin valley farm land but which advancing civilization has made a network of railway and the last L. F. ANDREWS, an old time newspaper man, in his “Pioneers of Polk County” tells it:

“One day, years ago, SCOTT was standing with some friends on the point of the bluff south of the present capitol overlooking the grand view of the river valley and his fine farm on the plateau.  He said, in a very impressive way: ‘When I die I want to be buried here where we stand.’  In accordance with that desire his body was brought here by his brother John followed by a cortege of his loving friends and citizens and there buried.  The burial plot was purchased and deeded to Lee Township.  A tree was planted and for a time friends, now dead, maintained a cheap board fence above the grave.  Now it is marked only by gross neglect, to the shame and ingratitude of the richest state in the union and of a people who profess a love of justice, of patriotism, of public spirit and the exhalation of the righteous.”

That was written almost fourteen years ago.  The neglect and ingratitude which the old historian scores is about to give way to recognition and honor tho long delayed.  “

“Alec” SCOTT, as he was called, came to Iowa and Polk County in 1843 with the dragoons and furnished products for the garrison located at the mouth of the Raccoon River known as Ft. Des Moines, from the section of land he cultivated.  When the Indians left Iowa he went with them to Kansas as an Indian trader, but came back in 1846 and purchased 500 acres along the Des Moines River, comprising a portion of what is now the capitol grounds.  He built a double log house to the southeast of the present location of the soldier’s monument.  Being across the river from the settlement of Ft. Des Moines, with no bridges, he established a ferry.  This was in 1846 when there was considerable emigration westward, and SCOTT is reported by Mr. ANDREWS to have done a lucrative business.  In 1849, during the California emigration, over 600 horses and as many people were ferried across in a single day.

His connection with the donation of a portion of the state house grounds is recorded by Mr. ANDREWS:  “….SCOTT executed his agreement to the very letter at a great loss to himself, carried the first state house to completion, donated the site for it and also most of that on which the state house now stands, tho then quite unlike what it now is.  It was covered with forest trees and dense underbrush….When the state house deal was over SCOTT had little left.”

Des Moines Register
Monday morning
Dec. 16, 1930
pp. 1-2

By Donald Grant

On the windswept brow of Capitol Hill, overlooking the railroad tracks and the southeast bottoms, is the grave of Willson Alexander SCOTT, Des Moines’ first citizen.  The lonely slab of granite which marks the grave of Mr. SCOTT is muddy around the edges, where urchins of the neighborhood have wiped their shoes…It is alone on the grassy bluff at the southeast corner of the state house grounds…

Early in 1857 Mr. SCOTT reached the pinnacle of his career. He was the most influential man in the community, himself possessor of the most community…The came a series of events which spelled financial ruin and death to Des Moines’ first citizen…Mr. SCOTT, known as the man who built the state house, became a bankrupt homesteader.  Finally, in 1859, he joined the rush for gold in the west, traveling under the banner, “Pike’s Peak of Bust.”  Seeking to recoup his fortune, the first white man to come to Des Moines started across the prairies.

June 23, 1869, in a tent on the barren plains near Fort Kearney, Neb., Willson Alexander SCOTT, 41, died.  They brought his body back to Capitol Hill and buried it on the only piece of property left of Mr. SCOTT’S formerly vast holdings.  He was buried at the place he had requested to be laid on Capitol Hill, where he could see the city of Des Moines, a little village of log houses.  There the grave still lies, overlooking the smoking city that grew where he first stood

Loose clipping in Mr. GILMER’S collection:

On a knoll southeast of the state house in Des Moines is a large granite slab which marks the grave of the pioneer who pre-empted the ground upon which the capitol building now stands and donated it to the state.  The inscription upon the slab reads as follows:

“Sacred to the memory of Wilson Alexander Scott who
gave to the State of Iowa the greater part of the land
where stands the Capitol.  Born in Crawford County,
Indiana, Nov. 20, 1818.  He acquired some 500 acres of
Land hereabouts and settled on the site in 1846.  Over-
Whelmed by the financial crash of 1857, he died near
Fort Kearney, Nebraska Territory, enroute to Pike’s
Peak, June 23, 1859.  By his expressed wish his body
was returned and on Nov. 1, 1859, interred in earth,
which as his homestead, had been exempted from seizure
for his debts.  Erected in 1925 by the State of Iowa.”

Clipping from Mr. R. T. H. Gilmer’s collection.  Probably from a Des Moines newspaper, Second Edition, 4:00 o’clock, 2 Oct. 1889.

HONORED OLD AGE – The Golden Wedding of Mr. and Mrs. SCOTT of University Place.  Fifty Years Together in Iowa.  A Comfortable Home for Their Declining Years – A Happy Couple.

Yesterday was the fiftieth anniversary of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. J. L. SCOTT of this city and the event was celebrated last night by a most enjoyable reception and social at their new home on West Twenty-Sixth Street.  A large number of relatives and friends were present…A fine supper prepared and served in a most hospitable way, was one of the treats of the evening…

This worthy couple came to Des Moines in 1856 from Jefferson County, where they had been married in 1839, coming to Iowa from Illinois in 1836.  Mrs. SCOTT’S maiden name was Mary Ann GILMER and she was born in Kentucky in 1818.  Twelve children were born to them, seven of whom are still living and all but two, Richard and Frank, were present last night.  Mr. and Mrs. SCOTT were charter members of the Christian Church of this city, of which they are now most valued members.

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