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1880 History
How the Title to Iowa Lands is Derived
Early Settlements and Territorial Organization

How the Title to Iowa Lands is Derived

The title to the soil of Iowa was, of course, primarily vested in the originaf occupants who inhabited the country prior to its discovery by the whites. But the Indians, being savages, possessed but few rights that civilized nations considered themselves bound to respect, so that when they found this country in the possession of such a people they claimed it in the name of the King of France, by the right of discovery. It remained under the jurisdiction of France until the year 1763.

Prior to the year 1763, the entire continent of North America was divided between France, England, Spain, and Russia. France held all that portion of what now constitutes our national domain west of the Mississippi river, except Texas and the territory which we have obtained from Mexico and Russia. This vast region, while under the jurisdiction of France, was known as the " Province of Louisiana" and embraced the present State of Iowa. At the close of the " Old French War" in 1763, France gave up her share of the continent, and Spain came into possession of the territory west of the Mississippi river, while Great Britain retained Canada and the regions northward, having obtained that territory by conquest in the war with France. For thirty-seven years the territory now embraced within the limits of Iowa remained as a part of the possession of Spain, and then went back to France by the treaty of St. Idlefonso, October 1, 1800. On the 30th of April, 1803, France ceded it to the United States in consideration of receiving $11,250,000 and the liquidation of certain claims held by citizens of the IJnited States against France, which amounted to the further sum of $3,750,000, and maMng a total of $15,000,000. It will thus be seen that France has twice, and Spain once, held sovereignty over the territory embracing Iowa, but the financial needs of Napoleon afforded our government an opportunity to add another empire to its domain.

On the 31st of October, 1803, an act of Congress was approved authorizing the President to take possession of the newly acquired territory and provide for it a temporary government, and another act approved March 26, 1804, authorized the division of the "Louisiana Purchase," as it was then called, into two separate Territories. All that portion south of the 33d parallel of north latitude was called the "Territory of Orleans" and that north of the said parallel was known as the "District of Louisiana" and was placed under the jurisdiction of what was then known as "Indiana Territory."

By virtue of an act of Congress, approved March 3, 1805, the "District of Louisiana" was organized as the "Territory of Louisiana" with a Territorial government of its own, which went into operation July 4th of the same year, and it so remained until 1812. In this year the "Territory of Orleans" became the State of Louisiana, and the "Territory of Louisiana" was organized as the "Territory of Missouri." This change took place under an act of Congress approved June 4, 1812. In 1819, a portion of this territory was organized as "Arkansaw Territory," and in 1821 the State of Missouri was admitted, being a part of the former "Territory of Misspuri." This left a vast domain still to the north, including the present States of lowa and Minnesota, which was, in 1834, made a part of the "Territory of Michigan." In July, 1836, the territory embracing the present States of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin was detached from Michigan and organized vsith a separate Territorial government under the name of "Wisconsin Territory."

By virtue of an act of Congress, approved June 12, 1838, on the 3d of July of the same year, the "Territoiy of Iowa " was constituted. It embraced the present State of Iowa and the greater portion of what is now the State of Minnesota.

To say nothing of the title to the soil of Iowa that may once have vested in the natives who claimed and occupied it, it is a matter of some interest to glance at the various changes of ownership and jurisdiction through which it has passed within the time of our historical period:
1. It belonged to France, with other territory now belonging to our national domain.
2. In 1763, with other territory, it was ceded to Spain.
3. October 1, 1800, it was ceded with other territory from Spain back to France.
4. April 30, 1803, it was ceded with other territory by France to the United States.
5. October 31, 1803, a temporary government was authorized by Congrass for the newly acquired territoiy.
6. October 1, 1804, it was included in the "District of Louisiana" and placed under the jurisdiction of the Territorial government of Indiana.
7. July 4, 1805, it was included as a part of the "Territory of Louisiana," then organized with a separate Territorial government.
8. June 4, 1812, it was embraced in what was then made the "Territory of Missouri."
9. June 28, 1834, it became part of the "Territory of Michigan."
10. July 3, 1836, it was included as a part of the newly organized "Territory of Wisconsin."
11. June 12, 1838, it was included in and constituted a part of the newly organized "Territory of Iowa."
12. December 28, 1846, it was admitted into the Union as a State.

The cession by France, April 30, 1803, vested the title in the United States, subject to the claims of the Indians, which it was very justly the policy of the government to recognize. The several changes of territorial jurisdiction after the treaty with France did not aftect the title to the soil.

Before the government of the United States could vest clear title to the soil in its grantees it was necessary to extinguish the Indian title by purchase. The treaties vesting the Indian title to the lands within the limits of what is now the State of Iowa were made at different times. The following is a synopsis of the several treaties by which the Indians relinquished to the United States their rights in Iowa:
1. Treaty with the Sacs and Foxes, Aug. 4, 1824. - This treaty between the JJnited States and the Sacs and Foxes was made at the City of Washington, William Clark being commissioner on the part of the United States. By this treaty the Sacs and Foxes relinquished their title to all lands in Missouri, Iowa then being a part of Missouri. In this treaty the land in the southeast comer of Iowa known as the "Half-Breed Tract" was reserved for the use of the half-breeds of the Sacs and Foxes, they holding
the title to the same in the same manner as Indians. This treaty was ratifieed January 18, 1825.
2. Treaty with vamous tribes, Aug. 19, 1825. - This treaty was also made at the city of Washington by William Clark as Commissioner on the part of the United States, with the Ohippewas, Sacs and Foxes, Menomonees, Winnebagoes and a portion of the Ottawas and Pottawattamies. This treaty was intended mainly to make peace between certain contending tribes as to the limits of their respective hunting grounds in Iowa. It was agreed that the United States should run a boundary line between the Sioux on the north and the Sacs and Foxes on the south, as follows: Commencing at the mouth of the Upper Iowa river, on the west bank of the Mississippi, and ascending said Iowa river to its west fork; thence up the fork to its source; thence crossing the fork of Red Cedar river in a direct line to the second or upper fork of the Des Moines river; thence in a direct line to the lower fork of the Calumet (Big Sioux) river, and down that to its junction with the Missouri river.
3. Treaty with the Sacs and Foxes, July 15, 1830. - By this treaty the Sacs and Foxes ceded to the United States a strip of country twenty miles in width lying directly south of the line designated in the treaty of Aug. 19, 1823, and extending from the Mississippi to the Des Moines river.
4. Treaty with the Sioux, July 15, 1830. - By this treaty was ceded to the United States a strip twenty miles in width on the north of the line designated by the treaty of Aug. 19, 1825, and extending from the Mississippi to the Des Moines river. By these treaties made at the same date the United States came into possession of a strip forty miles wide from the Mississippi to the Des Moines river. It was known as the "Neutral Ground," and the tribes on either side of it were allowed to use it in common as a fishing and hunting ground until the government should make other disposition of it.
5. Treaty with various tribes, July 15, 1830. - This was a treaty with the Sacs and Foxes, Sioux, Omahas, lowas and Missouris by which they ceded to the United States a tract bounded as follows: Beginning at the upper fork of the Des Moines river, and passing the sources of the Little Sioux and Floyd rivers, to the fork of the first creek that falls into the Big Sioux, or Calumet river, on the east side; thence down said creek and the Calumet river to the Missouri river; thence down said Missouri river to the Missouri State line above the Kansas; thence along said line to the northeast comer of said State; thence to the highlands between the waters falling into the Missouri and Des Moines, passing to said highlands along the dividing ridge between the forks of the Grand river; thence along said highlands or ridge separating the waters of the Missouri from those of the Des Moines, to a point opposite the source of the Boyer river, and thence in a direct line to the upper fork of the Des Moines, the place of beginning. The lands ceded by this treaty were to be assigned, or allotted, under the direction of the President of the United States, to the tribes then living thereon, or to such other tribes as the President might locate thereon for hunting and other purposes. In consideration of the land ceded by this treaty the United States stipulated to make certain payments to the several tribes joining in the treaty. The treaty took effect by proclamation, February 24, 1831.
6. Treaty with the Winnebagoes, Sept. 15, 1832. - This treaty was made at Fort Armstrong, by Gen. Winfield Scott and Gov. John Reynolds of Illinois. By the treaty, the Winnebagoes ceded to the United States all their lands on the east side of the Mississippi, and in part consideration therefor the United States granted to the Winnebagoes as a reservation the lands in Iowa known as the Neutral Ground. The exchange of the two tracts was to take place on or before June 1, 1833. The United States also stipulated to make payment to tlie Winnebagoes, beginning in September, 1873, and to continue for twenty-seven successive years, $10,000 annually in specie, and also to establish a school among them, with a farm and garden. There were also other agreements on the part of the government.
7. Treaty with the Sacs ami Foxes, Sept. 21, 1832. - This was the treaty known as the "Black Hawk Purchase," which opened the first lands in Iowa for settlement by the whites. In negotiating this treaty Gen. Winfield Scott and Gov. John Keynolds represented the United States. By it the Sacs and Foxes ceded to the United States a tract of land on the eastern border of Iowa fifty miles wide, and extending from the northern boundary of Missouri to the mouth of the Upper Iowa river, containing about six millions of acres. The United States stipulated to pay annually to the Sacs and Foxes $20,000 in specie, and to pay certain indebtedness of the Indians, amounting to about $50,000, due chiefly to Davenport & Famham, Indian traders at Kock Island. By the terms of the treaty four hundred square miles on Iowa river, including Keokuk's village, were reserved for the use and occupancy of the Indians. This treaty was made on the ground where the city of Davenport is now located. The government convened in fee simple out of this purchase one section of land opposite Rock Island to Antoine LeClaire, the interpreter, and another at the head of the first rapid above Rock Island, being the first title to land in Iowa granted by the United States to an individual.
8. Treaty with the Sacs and Foxes, 1836. - This treaty was also made on the banks of the Mississippi near where the city of Davenport now stands. Gen. Henry Dodge, Governor of Wisconsin Territory, represented the United States. By it the Sacs and Foxes ceded to the United States "Keokuk's Eeserve," as it was called, for which the government stipulated to pay $30,000 and an annuity of $10,000 for ten successive years, together with certain indebtedness of the Indians.
9. Treaty with the Sacs and Foxes, Oct. 21, 1837. - This treaty was made at Washington; Carey A. Harris, Conimissioner of Indian Affairs representing the United States. By this treaty the Sacs and Foxes relinquished their title to an additional tract in Iowa described as follows: "A tract of country containing 1,250,000 acres, lying west and adjoining the tract conveyed by them to the United States in the treaty of September 21, 1832. It is understood that the points of termination for the present cession shall
be the northern and southern points of said tract as fixed by the survey made under the authority of the United States, and, that a line shall be drawn between them so as to intersect a line extended westwardly from the angle of said tract nearly opposite to Rock Island, as laid down in the above survey, so far as may be necessary to include the number of acres hereby
ceded, which last mentioned line, it is estimated, will be about twenty-five miles. The tract ceded by this treaty lay directly west of the "Black Hawk Purchase."
10. Treaty with Sacs and Foxes, same date. - At the same date the Sacs and Foxes ceded to the United States all their right and interest in the country south of the boundary line between the Sacs and Foxes and the Sioux, as described in the treaty of August 19, 1825, and between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the United States paying for the same $160,000. Tlie Sacs and Foxes by tHs treaty also relinquished all claims and interest under the treaties previously made with them.
11. Treaty with the Sacs cmd Foxes, Oct. 11, 1842. - This treaty was made at the Sac and Fox Agency by John Chambers, as Commissioner, on behalf of the United States. By it the Sacs and Foxes relinquished to the United States all their lands west of the Mississippi to which they had any claim or title, and agreed to a removal from the country at the expiration of tliree years. In accordance with this treaty, a part of them were removed to Kansas in the fall of 1845, and the remainder in the spring of 1846.

The treaty of 1803 with France, and these several treaties with the Indian tribes, vested in the United States the title to all the lands in the State of Iowa - subject, however, to claims set up under certain Spanish grants, and also, the claim to the "Half-Breed Tract" in Lee county, which claims were afterward adjudicated in the courts or otherwise adjusted. The following is a brief explanation of the nature of these claims:

The Dubuque Claim. - Lead had been discovered at the site of the present city of Dubuque as early as 1780, and in 1788 Julien Dubuque, then residing at Prairie du Chien, obtained permission from the Fox tribe of Indians to engage in mining lead, on the west side of the Mississippi. Dubuque, with a number of other persons, was engaged in mining, and claimed a large tract, embracing as he supposed all the lead bearing region in that vicinity. At that time, it wiU be remembered, the country was under Spanish jurisdiction, and embraced in the "Province of Louisiana." In 1796 Dubuque petitioned the Spanish Governor of Louisiana, Carondelet, for a grant of the lands embracing the lead mines, describing in his petition a fract containing over twenty thousand acres. The' Spanish governor granted the petition, and the grant was confirmed by the Board of Land Commissioners of Louisiana. Dabuque, in 1804, transferred the larger part of his claim to Auguste Choteau, of St. Louis. On the 17th of May, 1805, Dubuque and Choteau filed their joint claims with the Board of Land Commissioners, and the claim was decided by them to be a clear and regular Spanish grant, having been made and completed prior to October 1st, 1800, and while it was yet Spanish territory. Dubuque died March 24, 1810. After the death of Dubuque the Indians resumed occupancy of the mines and engaged themselves in mining to some extent, holding that Dubuque's claim was only a permit during his lifetime, and in this they were sustained by the military authority of the United States, notwithstanding the decision of the Land Commissioners. In the treaty afterward between the United States and the Sacs and Foxes, the Indians made no reservation of this claim, and it was therefore included as a part of the lands ceded by them to the United States. In the meantime Auguste Choteau also died, and his heirs began to look after their interests. They authorized their agent to lease the privilege of working the mines, and under this authority miners commenced operations, but the military authorities compelled them to abandon the work. But little further was done in the matter until after the town of Dubuque was laid out, and lots had been sold and were occupied by purchasers, when Henry Choteau brought an action of ejectment against Patrick Malony, who held land under a patent from the United States, for the recovery of seven undivided eighths of the Dubuque claim, as purchased by Auguste Choteau in 1804. The case was decided in the United States District Court adversely to the plaintiff. It was carried to the Supreme Court of the United States on a writ of error, where the decision of the lower court was affinncd. The Supreme Court held that Dubuque asked, and the Governor of Louisiana granted, nothing more than peaceable possession of certain lands obtained from the Indians, and that Carondelet had no legal authority to make such a grant as claimed.

Tlie Giard Clavm.—^The Lieutenant Governor of Upper Louisiana, in
1795, granted to one Basil Giard 5,760 acres in what is now Clayton county.
Giard took possession and occupied the land until after the territory passed
into the possession of the United States, after which the government of the
United States granted a patent to Giard, for the land which has since been
known as the " Giard Tract." His heirs subsequently sold the whole tract
for $300.
The Honori Clavm.—On the 30th day of March, 1799, Zenon Trudean,
Acting Lieutenant Governor of Upper Louisiana, granted to Louis Honori
a tract of land on the site of the preseat town of Montrose, as follows: "It
is permitted to Mr. Louis (Fresson) Henori, or Louis Honori Fesson, to
establish himself at the head of the rapids of the Eiver Des Moines, and his
establishment once formed, notice of it shall be given to the Governor General,
in order to obtain for him a commission oi a space sufficient to give
value to such establishment, and at the same time to render it liseful to the
commerce of the peltries of this country, to watch the Indians and keep them
in the fidelity which they owe to His Majesty." Honori retained possession
until 1805, but in 1803 it was sold under an execution obtained by one
Joseph Eobedoux, who became the purchaser. The tract is described as being
" about six leagues above the Des Moines." Auguste Ohoteau, the executor
of Eobedoux, in April, 1805, sold the Honori tract to Thomas F. Eeddeck.
In the grant from the Spanish government it was described as being one
league square, but the government of the United States confirmed only one
mile square. Attempts were subsequently made to invalidate the title of
the Eeddeck heirs, but it was finally confirmed by the Supreme Court of the
United States, in 1839.
The Half-Breed Tract.—^By a treaty made with the Indians, August
4, 1824, the United States acquired possession of a large tract of land
in the northern portion of Missouri. In this same treaty 119,000 acres
were reserved for the use of the half-breeds of the Sac and Fox nation.
This reservation occupied the strip between the Mississippi and Des Moines
rivers, and south of a line drawn from a point on the Des Moines river,
about one mile below the present town of Farmington, in Van Buren county,
east to the Mississippi river at the lower end of Fort Madison, including all
the land between the two rivers south of this line. By the terms of the
treaty the United States had a reversionary interest in this land, whicli deprived
the Indians of the power to sell. But, in 1835, Congress relinquished
to the half-breeds this reversionary interest, vesting in fliem a fee simple
title, and the right to sell and convey. In this law, however, the right to
sell was not given to individuals by name, but to the half-breeds as a class,
and in this the subsequent litigation in regard to the "Half-Breed Tract"
originated. A door was open for innumerable frauds. The result was that
speculators rushed in and began to buy the claims of the half-breeds, and,
in many instances, a gun, a blanket, a pony or a few quarts of whisky was
sufiBcient for the purchase of large estates. There was a deal of sharp practice
on both sides; Indians would often claim ownership of land by virtue
of being half-breeds, and had no difficulty in proving their mixed blood by
the Indians, and they would then cheat the speculators by selling land to
which they had no rightful title. On the other hand, speculators often
claimed land in which they had no ownership. It was diamond cut diamond,
until at last things became badly mixed. There were no authorized
surveys, and no boundary lines to claims, and, as a natural result, numerous
conflicts and quarrels ensued. To settle these difficulties, to decide the validity
of claims or sell them for the benefit of the real owners, by act of the
Legislature of Wisconsin Territory, approved January 16, 1838, Edward
Johnstone, Thomas S. "Wilson and "David Brigham were appointed commissioners,
and clothed with power to effect these objects. The act provided
that these commissioners should be paid six dollars a day each. The commission
entered upon its duties and continued until the next session of the
Legislature, when the act creating it was repealed, invalidating aU that had
been done and depriving the commissioners of their pay. The repealing
act, however, authorized the commissioners to commence action against the
owners of the Half-Breed Tract, to receive their pay for their services, in the
District Court of Lee county. Two judgments were obtained, and on execution
the whole of the tract was sold to Hugh T. Keid, the sheriff executing
the deed. Mr. Keid sold portions of it to various parties, but his own title,
was questioned arid he became involved in litigation. Decisions in favor
of Eeid and those holding under him were made by both District and Supreme
Courts, but in December, 1850, these decisions were finally reversed
by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Joseph Webster,
plaintiff in- error, vs. Hugh T. Keid, and the judgment titles failed. About
nine years before the "judgment titles" were finally abrogated, as above,
another class of titles was brought into competition with them, and in the
conflict between the two, the final decision was obtained. These were the
titles based on the " decree of partition " issued by the United States District
Court for the Territory of Iowa, on the 8th of May, 1841, and certified to by
the clerk on the 2d day of June of that year. Edward Johnstone and Hugh
T. Eeid, then law partners at Fort Madison, filed the petition for the decree
in behalf of the St. Louis claimants of half-breed lands. Francis S. Key,
author of the " Star Spangled Banner," who was then attorney for the Ifew
York Land Company, which held heavy interests in these lands, took a lead^
ing part in the measure, and drew up the document in which it was presented
to the court. Judge Charles Mason, of Burlington, presided. The
plan of partition divided the tract into 101 shares, each claimant to draw his
{)roportion by lot,and to abide the result. The plan was agreed to and the
ots drawn. The plat of the same was filed for record, October 6th, 1841.
The title under this decree of partition, however, was not altogether satisfactory.
It was finally settled by a decision of the Supreme Court of the
United States, in January, 1855.


In connection with the subject of land titles, an explanation of the method
of public surveys will prove interesting to all land owners. These explanations
apply, not only to Iowa, but to the Western States generally, and lo
nearly all lands the title to which is derived from the Government.
Soon after the organization of our government, Virginia and other
States, ceded to the United States extensive tracts of wild land, whiqh,
together with other lands subsequently acquired by purchase and treaty,
constituted what is called the public lands, or public domain. Up to the
year 1802, these lands were sold without reference to any general or uniform

plan. Each person wlio desired to purchase any portion of the public domain,
selected a tract in such shape as suited his fancy, designating his
boundaries by prominent objects, such as trees, rocks, streams, the banks of
rivers and creeks, cliffs, ravines, etc. But, ovring to the frequent indefiniteness
of description, titles often conflicted with each other, and in many cases
several grants covered the same premises.
To obviate these difficulties, in 1802, Col. Jared Mansfield, then surveyorgeneral
of the Northwestern Territory, devised and adopted the present mode
of surveying the public lands. This system was established by law, and is
uniform in its application to all the public lands belonging to the United
By this method, all the lines are run by the cardinal points of the compass;
the north and south lines coinciding with the true meridian, and the
east and west lines intersecting them at right angles, giving to the tracts
thus surveyed the rectangular form.
In the first place, certain lines are established running east and west, called
Base Lines. Then, from noted points, such as the mouths of principal rivers,
hnes are run due north and south, which are called PnncvpaL Meridwns.
The Łase IAm,es and Prvncvpal Meridicms together, are called
Staridard, Lines, as they form the basis of all the surveys made therein.
In order to distinguish from each other the system or series of surveys thus
formed, the several Principal Meridians are designated by progressive
numbers. The Meridian running' north from the mouth of the Great Miami
river, is called the First Principal Meridian ; that running north through
the State of Indiana, the Second Principal Meridian; that running north
from the mouth of the Ohio river through the State of Illinois, the Third
Principal Meridian; that running north from the mouth of the Illinois
river, through the States of Illinois and Wisconsin, the Fowrth Principal
Meridian; and that running north from the mouth of the Arkansas river,
through the States of Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, the
Fifth Principal Meridian.
Having established the 8tanda/rd Lines as above described, the country
was then divided into equal squares as nearly as practicable, by a system of
parallel meridians six miles distant from each other, crossed or intersected
by lines east and west, also six miles from each other. Thus the country
was divided into squares, the sides of which are six miles, and each square
containing 36 square miles. These squares are called Townships. The
lines of the townships running north and south are called Range Lvnes; and
the rows or tiers of townships running north and south are called Ranges;
tiers of townships east and west are called Townships; and the lines dividing
these tiers are called Township Lines. Townships are numbered
from the Base Line and the Principal Meridians. Thus the township in
which Sioux City, Iowa, is located, is described as township I^o. 89 north,
in range No. 47 west of the Fifth Principal Meridian. The situation of this
township is, therefore, 528 miles (making no allowance for fractional townskips)
north of the BaseLme, as there are 88 townships intervening between
it and the Base Line; and being in range No. 47, it is 276 miles west of the
Tifth Principal Meridian, as there are 46 ranges of tovmships intervening
between it and the said Principal Meridian. The township adjoining on the
north of 89 in range 47, is 90 in range 47; but the township adjoining on
the west of 89 in range 47, is numbered 89 of range 48, and the one north
of 89 of range 48, is 90 of range 48, and so on.

Some of the townships mentioned in this illustration, being on the Missouri
and Big Sioux rivers, are fractional.

The lines and comers of the townships being established by competent
surveyors, under the authority of the government, the next work is to subdivide
the townships into sections of one square mile each, making 36 sections
in each full township, and each fall section containing 640 acres. The
annexed diagram exhibits the 36 sections of a township:

image on page 138

The sections are numbered alternately west and east, beginning at the northeast corner of the township, as shown in the diagram.

The lands are sold or disposed of by the government, in tracts of 640 acres, 320 acres, 160 acres, 80 acres and 40 acres; or by the section, half section, quarter section, half quarter section and quarter of quarter section. The annexed diagram will present a section and its sub-divisions:


The corners of the section, and the corners at N., E., S. and W, have all been established and marked by the government surveyor in making his sub-division of the township, or in sectionizing, as it is termed. He does not establish or mark any of the mterior lines or comers. This work is left for the county surveyor or other competent person. Suppose the last diagram to represent section 25, in township 89, north of range 47 west,
then the sub-divisions shown may be described as the northwest quarter of
section 25 ; the southwest quarter of section 25 ; the southeast quarter of
section 25, all in township 89 north of range 47 west of the 5th Principal
Meridian. But these descriptions do not include any portion of the northeast
quarter of the section. That we wish to describe in smaller sub-divisions.
So we say, the east half of the northeast qymrter of section 25: the
northwest quaHer ofths northeast mmrter of section S5, and the southwest
quarter of the northeast quarter of section 25, all in township 89 north of
range 47 west of the 5th Principal Meridian. The last three descriptions
embrace all the northeast quarter of the section, but described in three
distinct tracts, one containing 80 acres, and two containing 40 acres each.
The Base Lines and Principal Meridians have been established by astronomical
observations; but the lines of sub-divisions are run with the com-
S)ass. The line indicated by the magnetic needle, when allowed to move
reely about the point of support, and settle to a state of rest, is called the
magnetic variation. This, in general, is not the Imie meridian, or north
and south line. The angle which the magneUo meridian makes with the
true meridian, is called the variation of the needle at that place, and is east
or west, according as the north end of the needle lies on the east or west
side of the true meridian. The variation of the needle is different at different
places, but in Iowa the magnetic needle points about 9^- degrees east
of the true meridian. The lines of the lands are made to conform as nearly
as practicable to the true meridian, but owing to the imperfections of instruments,
topographical inequalities in the surface of the ground, and various
other causes, it is absolutely impossible in practice to arrive at perfection;
or, in other words, to make the townships and their sectional sub-divisions
escactly squa/re and their lines exactly north and south and east and west.
A detailed statement of the manner of sub-dividing a township into sections
would be too lengthy for this article. Suffice it to say, that the fractional
tracts are all thrown on the north and west sides of the townships. The
last tiers, or rows, of quarter sections on the north and west sides of a township
generally fall either below or in excess of eoen quarter sections. Where
there is a large district of country of uniform level surface, the errors of
measurement are not likely to be so great, and the fractions in that case
may not vary much from even quarter sections.
All measurements are made in chains. A chain is a measure of four
rods, each link being the hundredth part of a chain, and is so used in the
field notes and calculations. For convenience in practice, however, the surveyor
generaly uses a half chaJm, equal to two rods, or fifty links, but the
surveyor's reckoning is kept, and all nis calculations are made in full chains
of four rods, and decimal parts thereof. In the measurement of lines, every
five chains are called an " out," because at that distance, the last of the ten
tally rods or pins, with which the forward chainman set out, has been set to
mark the measurement. The other chainman then comes forward, counts
and delivers to him the ten tally rods which he has taken up in the last
"out," the forward chainman likewise counting the pins as he receives them.
At the end of every five chains, the forward chainman as he sets the tenth
or last tally rod, calls, " out," which is repeated by the other chainman,
and by the marker and surveyor, each of whom keeps a tally of the " outs,"

sind marks the same as he calls them.' Sixteen " outs," or eighty ohain^,
make a mile.

The corners of townships, sections and quarter sections, are marked in the
following manner:

On the exterior township lines, comer posts are set at the distance of
every.mile and half mile from the township corner. The mile posts are for
the comers of sections, and the half-mile posts for the corners of quarter
sections. , They are required to be driven into the groimd to the depth of
from fifteen to twenty inches, a'nd to be made of the most durable wood to
be had. The sides of the posts are squared off at the top, and the angles
of the square set to correspond with the cardinal points of the compass.
All the mile posts on the township lines are marked with as many notches
cut in one of the angles as they are miles distant from the township corner
where the line commenced. But the township corner posts are notched with
six notches on each of the four angles. The mile posts on the section lines
are notched on the south and east angles of the square, respectively, with as
many notches as they are miles distant from the south and east boundaries
of the township. If it so happens that a tree is situated to supply the
place of a corner post, it is "blazed" on four sides facing the sections to
which it is the comer, and notched in the same manner that the corner posts
are. At all comers in the timber, two or more bearing trees in opposite
directions are required to be noted, and the course of each tree noted and
recorded. The trees are "blazed" on the side facing the post, and the letters
B. T. (Bearing Tree) cut in the wood below the blaze. At the qwi/rter
section corners, the post is flattened on opposite sides, and marked "J," and
the nearest suitable tree on each side of the section line is marked to show
the township, range and section in which such tree is situated. More recent
regulations require four witnesses, or bearing trees, at the township and
section comers, and two at the quarter section corners, if within convenient
In the prairies, and other places where bearing trees could not be noted,
quadrangular mounds of earth are raised around the posts, the angles of the
mounds corresponding with the cardinal points of the compass. The
mounds are required to be two and a-half feet high and four feet square at
the base. The earth to form the mound at the section corner is taken from
one place to form the pit directly south of the mound; and at the qua/rter
section comer it is taken directly east of the mound. The posts are squared
and notched as heretofore, described. More recent regulations require
stones or charcoal to be buried in the mound.
In the timber the lines are marted in the following manner: All those
trees which the line cuts have two notches on each side of the tree where
the line cuts it. These are called "station trees," and sometimes "Une
trees," or " sight trees." All trees within ten or fifteen links on each side
of the line are marked with two spots or " blazes," diagonally or quartering
toward the line. The names and estimated diameters of all the " station
trees," with their distances on the lines, are noted.
In the northwest part of Iowa, where the prairie so largely predominates,
the landmarks, of course, are chiefly mounds and pits. The original stakes
set by the surveyors have mostly been destroyed by the fires, but occasionally
one may be found. Many of the mounds and pits have also been partially
obliterated, but the experienced surveyor will generally identify tnem
with very little trouble. A person in search of the landmarks on the prairie should provide himself with a compass with which to trace the lines. A
small one will answer the purpose of ascertaining lines approximately,, but
for finding the sub-divisions accurately, a good compass or transit and chain
are required.
The field notes of the original surveys furnish primarily the material
from wnich the plats and calculations of the public lands are made, and the
source from whence the description and evidence of the location and boundaries
bf those surveys are drawn and perpetuated. The surveyors of- the
pubKc lands were, therefore, required to keep an accurate record of the
topography of the country, with a description of everything which might
aflbrd useful information. The crossings of streams, lakes, ponds, sloughs,
etc., with their location on the lines, were all required to be carefully noted.

Early Settlements and Territorial Organization

The first white men who are known to have set their feet upon the soil of
Iowa, were James Marquette and Louis Joliet, in 1673, as we have seen in
a former part of this work. It was 115 years after the visit of these celebrated
French voyagewrs before any white man established a settlement,
during which time several generations of the Indian tribes occupied the valleys
of the beautiful rivers of Iowa, or roamed over her broad prairies. During
all this time they doubtless kept alive among them the tradition of the
strange Black-Robe Chief and his pale-faced companions who came in their
canoes to see their fathers so many years before, it was likewise a Frenchman,
Julien Dubuque, who had the honor of making the first permanent
white settlement. In 1788, having obtained permission from the Indians,
he crossed the Mississippi with a small party of miners for the purpose of
working lead mines at the place where the city is now located which bears
his name, the lead having been discovered a short time before by the wife
Peosta, a Fox warrior. Dubuque was a native of France, but had emigrated
to Canada and become an Indian trader. While engaged in that business
he reached Prairie du Ohien about the year 1785, and with two other Frenchmen,
laid out a village which now constitutes the northern part of that city.
As a trader he acquired great influence with the Sac and Fox Chiefs. Six
years after he engaged in mining (1796), he wrote a very diplomatic petition
to the Spanish Governor of Louisiana, Baron de Carondelet, to confirm
the Indian grant. The governor referred the petition to a merchant
and trader named Andrew Todd, who recommended that the grant be confirmed,
with a restriction prohibiting Dubuque from trading with the
Indians, without first obtaining Todd's consent in writing. With this restriction
the petition was granted. Dubuque, as was a common custom
among the French traders, had married an Indian woman. He gave to the
district embraced in his grant the name of the Mines of Spain, in 1796, in
compliment to the Spanish governor. He remained engaged in mining,
until his death, which occurred March 24, 1810. He was buried on a bluff
near the present city, and at his grave was placed a cedar cross, hewn square.
and about twelve feet high. On the arms of the cross there was, in Frencli,
an inscription, of which the following is a translation:
DIED MAEOH 24™, 1810,
A number of Indians were afterward buried at the same place, and among
them the chief Kettle and his wife, who both died some eighteen years after
Dubuque. Kettle had requested his tribe to bury him and his wife in the
vault with Dubuque. In 1828 their bodies were on the surface of the
ground, wrapped in buffalo robes, protected from animals by closed walls
and a roof. The cross and vault of Dubuque, it is said, were torn down
about the year 1854, by some thoughtless boys, or perhaps men. The vault
was built of roughly dressed limestone taken from the edge of the bluff only
a few feet distant. But little more than is here stated is Known of the first
white man who settled on Iowa soil.
At the death of Dubuque the Indians claimed that the right, or lease of
the whites to work the mines had expired, and but little more mining seems
to have been done there until after the Black Hawk War. When attempts
were made to engage in mining the military authority interfered to prevent
intrusion upon the rights of the Indians. In 1829, James L. Langworthy,
a native of Vermont, who had been engaged in lead mining at Galena, Illinois,
crossed over the river for the purpose of working the mines known
then as the "Spanish Lead Mines." The Indians refused to give him permission,
but allowed him to explore the country. With two young Indians
as guides, he traversed the region between Maquoketa and Turkey rivers.
When he returned to the Sac and Fox village, he secured the good will of
the Indians, and formed his plans for operating the mines. The next year,
with his brother, Lucius H. Langworthy, and some other miners, he crossed
over the river and engaged in mining. In June, 1830, the miners adopted a
code of laws or rules, reported by a committee consisting of James L. Langworthy,
H. F. Lander, James McPhetres, Samuel Scales and E. M. Wreii.
They erected an independent civil government of their own, the first government
established by white men in Iowa. Some time after this the War
Department issued an order to Col. Zachary Taylor, then in command of the
military post at Prairie du Ohien, to cause the miners to leave the west side
of the river. Notice was accordingly given them and the order was reluctantly
obeyed, but not until a detachment of troops was sent to enforce it.
After the close of the Black Hawk War, and the treaty went into effect which
allowed settlement, on and after Jnile 1, 1833, the Langworthy brothers and
some others returned and resumed their claims, and soon there was a considerable
settlement at Dubuque. The first school house in Iowa was
erected there the same year, and before the close of the year there were five
hundred white people in the mining district. At a meeting of the settlers,
in 1834, the place was named Dubuque.
Except the mining settlement at Dubuque, the first traces of the
white man in Iowa, are to be found in Lee county. On the 30th of
March, 1799, Louis Honori Fesson obtained permission of the Spanish
government to establish himself at the head of the rapids of the
river Des Moinea for the purpose of trading with the Indians. The
place was at this time occupied by a half-breed Indian named Ked Bird,
but known among the whites aa Thomas Abbott. Subsequently the town
of Montrose was located on the ground where Fesson had his trading post
and Ked Bird his wick-e-np. Settlers of a later day have felt much interest
in the existence here of some full grown apple trees which must have been
planted by some hand long before the Black Hawk "War. It has been
claimed by some that theywereplanted by Fesson as early as the beginning
of the present century. Hon. D. W. Kilboume, one of the early settlers of
Lee eoimty, claimed that they were planted by Eed Bird some time between
the years 1795 and 1798- Mr. Kilboume was personally acquainted with
Eed Bird as well as with Black Hawk and other noted Indians of the Sac
and Fox tribes, and from them he received what he believed to be an authentic
account of the origin of the " ancient apple orchard " at Montrose. It
was tte custom of the Indians once a year to visit St. Louis for the purpose
of obtaining supplies of blankets and other articles. The half-breed, Ked
Bird, then a.young man, made his customary pilgrimage in the early spring,
and on his return stopped a few days at St. Charles on the Missouri river.
There a white man made him a present of about twenty small apple trees
and gave him instructions how to plant them. Ked Bird carried the trees
liome with him and planted them near his wick-e-up, placing stakes around
them. Nearly all of them grew and remained to excite the wonder and
cnriosity of succeeding generations of white men.
In 1809 a military post was established where Ft. Madison is now located,
but of course the country was not open to white settlers until after the
" Black Hawk Purchase." In 1834 troops were stationed at the point where
Montrose is now located, but at that time the place was called " Fort Des
Moines." They remained until 1837, when they were removed to Fort
Leavenworth. At first they were under the command of Lieut. Col. S- W.
Kearney, who was afterward relieved by Col. K. B. Mason. The command
consisted of three companies of the 1st United States Dragoons, Co. C,
Capt. E. V. Sumner, Co. H, Capt. Isathan Boone, and Co. I, Capt. J. B.
Browne. Capt. Browne resigned his position in the regular army in 1837,
and rfemained a citizen of Lee county. In 1838 he was appointed by Gov.
Lucas as Maj. Gen. of Militia. He was also elected as a member of the first
Territorial Legslature which convened at Burlington, and had the honor of
being the first President of the Council and afterward Speaker of the House
of Eepresentatives. At the " Foot of The Lower Kapids " there was a place
which, prior to 1834, was known as " Farmers' Trading Post." In September
of that year a meeting of half-breed Indians and their assigns was held
in the old trading house then owned by Isaac C. Campbell. The object of
the meeting was to petition Congress for the passage of a law granting them
the privilege to sell and convey their respective titles to what was then
known as the " Half-breed Keservation," according to the laws of Missouri.
In attendance at this meeting were representatives from Prairie du Chein
and St. Louis. At this time there were about nine families residing in the
vicinity, and after the adjournment of the meeting the resident citizens re-
!)aired to the saloon of John Gaines to talk over their prospects when the
lalf-breed title should become extinct. They looked forward to the time
when a city should grow up at that point. John Gaines called the meeting
to order and made a speech in which he said the time had now come to
a^ee upon a name for the town. He spoke of the chief Keokuk as the
friend of the white man, and proposed his name for the future town. The
proposition met with favor and the name was adopted. In the spring of
144 msTOBT or iowa.
1837 the town was laid out and a public sale of lots took place in June.
Only two or three lots were sold, although many attended from St. Louis
and other points. In 1840 the greater portion of Keokuk waa a dense forest,
the improvements being only a few cabins. In • 1847 a census of the
place gave a population of t)20. During the year 1832 Oapt. James White
made a claim on the present site of Montrose, and in the same year, soon
after the close of thelBIack Hawk war, Zachariah Hawkins, Benjamin Jennings,
Aaron White, Augustine Horton, Samuel Gooch, Daniel Thompson
and Peter Williams made claims at Ft. Madison. In 1833 these claims
were purchased by John and Nathaniel Knapp, upon which, in 1835, they
laid out the town. The next summer lots were sold. The lots were subsequently
re-surveyed and platted by the TJnited States Government.
The first settlement made at Burlington and in the vicinily, was
in the fall of 1832. . Daniel Tothero came with his family and settled
on the prairie about three miles from the Mississippi river. About the
same time Samuel White, with his family, erected his cabin near the river
at what is known as the upper bluft", within the limits of the present city
of Burlington. This was before the extinction of the Indian title, for that
did not take place before June 1st, 1833, when the government acquired the
territory under what was known as the " Black Hawk Purchase." There
was then a government military post at Eock Island, and some dragoons
came down from that place during the next winter and drove Tothero and
and White over the river, burning their cabins. White remained in Illinois
until the first of the following June, when the Indians surrendered possession
of the "Black Hawk Purchase," and on that very day was on the ground
and built his second cabin. His cabin stood on what is now Front street,
between Court and High streets, in the city of Burlington. Soon after Mr.
White's return his brother-in-law, Doolittle, joined him, and in 1834 they
laid out the original town, naming it Burlington, for the town of that name
in Vermont. The name was given at the request of John Gray, a Vermonter
and a friend of the proprietors. Thus White and Doolittle became
the Komulus and Remus of one of the leading cities of Iowa. During the
year 1833 there was considerable settlement made in the vicinity, and soon a
mill was erected by Mr. Donnell, on Flint creek, three miles from Burlington.
In 1837 Major McKell erected a saw-mill in* the town. In June,
1834, Congress passed an act attaching the " Black Hawk Purchase " to the
Territory of Michigan for temporary government. In September of the
same year the Legislature of Michigan divided this purchase into two counties,
Des Moines and Dubuque. The boundary between them was a line
. running due west from the lower end of Rock Island. They also organized
a county court in each county, and for Des Moines county made the seat
of justice at Burlington. The first court was held in April, 1835, in a log
house. In 1838 Iowa was made a separate Territory and Burlington was
made the capital and so remained until after the admission into the Union
aa a State. The Territorial Legislature met for several years in the first
church erected in Burlington, known as " Old Zion." In this same building
the supreme judicial tribunal of the Territory also held its sessions, as well
as the district court.
The first, white man to settle permanently within the limits of Scott
county, was Capt. B.W. Clark, a native of Virginia. He had settled and made
some improvement on the Illinois side of the Mississippi, but in 1833 lie
moved across the river and made a " claim and commenced an improvement here the town of Buffalo was laid out. His nearest white neighbors on the
west side of the Mississippi, were at Burlington and Dubuque. David H.
Clark, a son of Capt. Clark, born April 21, 1834, was the first white child
bom within the limits of what is now Scott county.
Before the time, June 1, 1833, that the Indians were to give possession
to the whites, Geo. L. Davenport had been permitted to make a claim. He
had been a favorite with the Indians from boyhood, and for this reason he
was permitted to go upon the lands while others were kept off. The land
upon which a part of the city of Davenport is located, and adjoining or near
Le Claire's reserve, was claimed by R. H. Spencer, and a man named Mc-
Cloud. Mr. Le Claire afterward purchased their claim interest for $150.
The project of laying out a town upon Mr. Le Claire's claim was first discussed
in the autumn of 1835, at the residence of Col. Davenport, on Eock
Island. The persons interested in the movement were Antoine Le Claire,
Maj. Thos. Smith, Maj. "Wm. Gordon, Phillip Hambaugh, Alexg,nder W.
McGregor, Levi S. Colton, Capt. James May and Col. Geo. Davenport. In
the spring of 1836, the enterprise was carried into effect by the purchase of
the land from Mr. Le Claire, and the laying out of a town to which the
name of Davenport was given, in honor of Col. Davenport. The survey
was made by Maj. Gordon. Some improvement had been made iipon the
ground by Mr. Le Claire, as early as 1833, but none of a substantial character
until 1836.
During this year Messrs. Le Claire and Davenport erected a building
which was opened as a public house or tavern, by Edward Powers. During
the same year John Litch from Newburyport, N. IL, opened the pioneer
whisky shop in a log shanty on Front street. A ferry across the Mississippi
was established by Mr. Le Claire, who was also the same year appointed the
first postmaster, and carried the mails in his pocket while ferrying. The
first white male child born in Davenport was a son of Levi S. Colton, in
the autmnn of 1836. The child died in August, 1840, at the Indian village
on Iowa river. The first female child was a daughter of D. 0. Eldridge.
Alex. W. McGregor, opened the first law office in 1836. Eev A. M. Gavit,
a Methodist minister, preached the first sermon in the house of D. 0. Eldridge.
At the close of the year 1836 there were some six or seven houses
in me town. The Indians still lingered about the place. Col. Davenport
still kept a trading house open on Eock Island, and furnished supplies. ,
When the Sacs and Foxes removed from the lands embraced in the first
purchase they settled for a short time on Iowa river, and after the second,
purchase removed to the Des Moines river, where they remained until the
last sale of their lands in Iowa when they were removed by the government
to Kansas.
Scott county was organized and named in honor of Gen. "Winfield Scott at
the session of the Legislature of "Wisconsin in December, 1837. Major
Frayer Wilson was appointed sheriff. The election for county commission-,
ers was held on the third Monday in February, 1838, when the following
were elected: Benj. F. Pike, Andrew W. Campbell, and Alfred Carter. On
the 4th of July, 1838, by an aet of Congress, Iowa became a separate Ten>
tory, and Eobert Lucas, of Ohio, was appointed the first Territorial Governor.
He made the following appointments for Scott county: "Williard Barrows,
notary public; Ebenezer Cook, judge of probate; Adrian H. Davenport,
sheriff; Isaac A. Hedges and John Porter, justices of the peace. D. C.
Eldridge received the appointment of postmaster at Davenport. The first.
District Court met in Davenport in October, 1838, Hon. Thomas S. Wilson,
of Dubuque, presiding.
For two years a contest had been going on between Davenport and a place
called Eockingham as to which should nave the honor of the county seat.
The fourth Monday of August, 1840, was fixed for holding an election to
decide the vexed question. It resulted favorably to Davenport, the citizens
of the successful town building a court house and jail free of expense to the
On the 7th of July, 1838, Andrew Logan, from Pennsylvania, arrived
with a printing press, and on the I7th of September following issued . the
first number of a paper called loaoa Sun cmd Davenport and Moch Iskmd
News, the fi^-st newspaper published in the county. On the 26th day of
August, 1841, the first number of the Davenport Weehly Gazette was issued
by Alfred Sanders.
One of the most exciting incidents connected with the early history of
Davenport and Scott county was the murder of Col. George Davenport on
Rock Island, July 4, 1845. The country on both sides of the river had been
infested by a lawless band of freebooters, with their supposed headquarters
at Nauvoo. They had organized themselves into bands and engaged in
horse stealing, counterfeiting, burglary, robbery, and murder. In some
places men in official positions and of good standing in community were
associated with them. On the fatal 4th of July, Col. Davenport's family was
away at Stephenson attending a celebration when three men attacked him in
his house, one of whom shot him with a pistol through the thigh. They
then bound him with strips of bark and blindfolded him. They then made
a search for the key of his safe but were unable to find it. Returning to the
wounded man, they carried him up-stairs where the safe was and compelled
him to unlock it. The booty obtained was about $600 in money, a gold
watch-chain and seals, a double-barrelled gun, and a few articles of minor
value. Col. Davenport lived long enough to relate the incidents of the robbery.
For several weeks no trace could be found of the murderers. Edward
Bonney, of Lee county, Iowa, undertook to ferret out their place of concealment.
About the middle of August he went to Nauvoo where he obtained
trace of them by representing himself as one of the gang. On the 8th of
September he arrested a man named Fox at Centerville, Indiana, and committed
him to jail there. On the 19th he arrested two others, Birch and
John Long, at Sandusky, Ohio, and brought them to Eock Island by way of
the lakes and Chicago. These three men were known at the west as leaders
of gangs of desperadoes, but operated under different names. Three others
were also arrested as accessories, Kichard Baxter and Aaron Long, near
Galena, Illinois, and Granville Young, at Nauvoo. Aaron was a brother of
John Long. On the 6th of October all of them were indicted by the grand
jury of Eock Island county, except Fox, who had escaped from jail in Indiana
on the 17th of September. On the 14th of October the two Longs were
pat upon trial, found guilty, and sentenced to be himg on the 27th of the
same month. Birch, the greatest villain, turned State's evidence. Baxter
was tried separately, convicted and sentenced to be hung on the 18th of November.
Li his case a writ of error was obtained and a new trial granted,
when he was again found guilty and sentenced to the penitentiary for life,
where he died two years after. Birch took a change of venue to Knox
county, and while awaiting trial escaped from jail. Upon the gallows John
I^ng confessed all, but died a hardened wretch without sign of repentance
or fear of death.

During tlie year 1834 settlements were made at various points besides
those mentioned, in what are now the counties bordering on the Mississippi
river, and soon other settlements began to extend to the western limit of tne
Black Hawk Purchase.
The first post-office in Iowa was established in Dubuque in 1833. Milo
H. Prentice was appointed postmaster.
The first justice of the peace was Antoine Le Claire, appointed in 1833, as
" a very suitable person to adjust the difficulties between the white settlers
and the Indians stiU remaining there."
The first Methodist Society in the Territory was formed at Dubuque on
the 18th of May, 1834, and the first class meeting was held June 1st of that
The first church bell brought into Liwa was in March, 1834.
The first mass of the Eoman Catholic Church in the Territory was celebrated
at Dubuque, in the house of Patrick Quigley, in the fall of 1833.
The first school house in the Territory was erected by the Dubuque miners
in 1833.
The first Sabbath school was organized at Dubuque early in the summer
of 1834.
The first woman who came to this part of the Territory with a view to
permanent residence was Mrs. Noble F. Dean, in the fall of 1832.
The fii'st family that lived in this part of Iowa was that of Hosea T. Camp,
in 1832.
The first meeting-house was built by the Methodist Episcopal Church, at
Dubuque, in 1834.
The first newspaper in Iowa was the Dubuque Yisitor, issued May 11th,
1836. John King, afterward Judge King, was editor, and WilUam C.
Jones, printer.
By the year 1836 the population had increased so that the people began
to agitate for a separate Territorial organization. There were also several
other matters in which they were deeply interested. In November, 1837, a
convention was called at Burlington to take action. Some account of this
first Iowa convention, and the action taken by it, wiU be of interest to every
citizen of the State.
On Monday the 6th of November, 1837, a convention of delegates from the
several counties in that portion of Wisconsin Territory west of the Mississippi
river, then sometimes called Western Wisconsin, convened in the town
of Burlington. Among the principal purposes for which this convention
was called were: 1. To memoralize Congress for the passage of an act
granting the right of pre-emption to actuS settlers on government lands*
2. To memoralize Congress on the subject of the attempt then being made
by the State of Missouri to extend her northern boundary line so as to
embrace territory claimed as being apart of Wisconsin; 3. To memoralize
Congress for the organization of a separate territorial government- in that
part of the Territory of Wisconsin west of the Mississippi river. m
The following were the accredited delegates in the convention from thi
several counties:
Dubuque Comity.—V. H. Engle, J. T. Pales, G-. W. Harris, W. A. "Warren,
W. B. Watts, A. F. Eussell, W. H. Patton, J, W. Parker, J. D. Bell, and
J. H. Kose.
Des Movnes Oovmty.—David Eorer, Eobert Ealston, and Cyrus S. Jacobs.
Tcm Bur&n Cov/nfy.—Yan Caldwell, J. G. Kenner, and James HalL
JSeivry Cownby.—^W. H. Wallace, J. D. Payne, and J. L. Myers.
Muscaiine Cownty.—J. E. Struthers, M. Conch, Eli Eeynolds, S. C.
Hastings, James Davis, S. Jenner, A. Smith, and E. K. Fay.
Jjyvma Cotmty.—J. M. Clark, "Wm. L. Toole, and J. J. Kinearson.
Lee Govmty.—Henry Eno, John Claypool, and Hawkins Taylor.
The officers of the convention were: President, Cyrus S. Jacobs; Vice
Presidents, J. M. Clark, and Wm. H. Wallace; Secretaries, J. W. Parker,
and J. E. Strathers.
The following committees were appointed:
To draft and report a memorial in relation to the right of pre-emption
Messrs. Engle, Kenner, Payne, Struthers, Patton, Eorer, and Smith.
To draft and report a memorial on the subject of the boundary line

Messrs. Eno, Claypool, Kenner, Ealston, Davis, Watts, and Toole.
To draft and report a memorial on the subject of a separate territorial
organization—Messrs. Eorer, Hastings, Caldwell, Myers, Claypool, Einearson,
and Harris.
The convention continued in session three days, and on the afternoon of the
last day all the committees reported, and their reports were unanimously
To the Sonorahle Senate and Mouse of JRepresentatives :
A convention of citizens representing all the counties in that part of Wisconsin
Territory lying west of the Mississippi river, have assembled at Burlington,
the present seat of government of said Territory, for the purpose of
taking into consideration several measures immediately affecting their interests
and prosperity. Among the most important of these is the passage
by your honorable bodies, at the session about to be commenced, of a preemption
law by which the settlers on the public land shall have secured to
them at the minimum price, the lands on which they live, which they have
improved and cultivated without fear of molestation, or over-bidding on the
part of the rich capitalist and speculator. It is a fact well known to your honorable
bodies, thatnone of the land in Wisconsin, west of the Mississippi river,
in what is called the " Iowa District," has yet been offered for sale by the
government. It is equally true that that tract of country is now inhabited
by twenty-five thousand souls, comprising a population as active, intelligent,
and worthy as can be found in any other part of the United States. The
enterprise of these pioneers has converted what was but yesterday a solitary
and uncultivated waste, into thriving towns and villages, alive with the engagements
of trade and commerce, and rich and smiling' farms, yielding
their bountiful return to the labors of the husbandman. This district has
been settled and improved with a rapidity unexampled in the history of the
country; emigrants from all parts of the United States, and from Europe,
are daily adding to our numbers and importance. An attempt to force these
lands thus occupied and improved into market, to be sold to the highest bidder,
and to put the money thus extorted from the hard earnings of an industrions
and laborious people into the coffers of the public treasury, would be
an act of injustice to the settlers, which would scarcely receive the sanction
of your honorable bodies. In most cases the labor of years and the accumulated
capital of a whole lite has been emended in making improvements
on the public land, under the strong and mm belief that every safeguard
would be thrown aroimd them to prevent their property, thus dearly earned
by years of suffering, privation arid toil, from being unjustly wrested from
tlieir hands. Shall they be disappointed? Will Congress refuse to pass
such laws as may be necessary to protect a large class of our citizens from
systemized plunder and rapine? The members comprising this convention,
representing a very large class of people, who delegated them to speak in
their stead, do most confidently express an opinion that your honorable
bodies will at your present session, pass some law removing us from danger
and relieving us from fear on this subject. The members of this convention,
for themselves, and for the people whose interests they are sent here to
represent, do most respectfully solicit that your honorable bodies will, as
speedily as possible, pass a pre-emption law, giving to every actual settler
on the public domain, who has made improvements sufficient to evince that
it is honajlde his design to cultivate ana-occupy the land, the right to enter
at the minimum government price, one-half section for that purpose, before
it shall be offered at pablic sale.
To the HoTvorable, the Senate and House of Bejpresentatives of the United
States in Congress assembled:
The Memorial of a Convention of Delegates from the several conntieB in
the Territory of "Wisconsin, west of the Mississippi river, convened at Burlington,
in said Territory, November 6, 1837, respectfully represent:
That your memorialists are desirous of asking the attention of Congress
to the adjustment of the boundary line between the State of Missouri and
the Territory of Western Wisconsin. Much excitement already prevails
among the inhabitants situated in the border counties of the State and Territory,
and it is much to be feared that, unless the speedy action of Congress
should be had upon the subject, difficulties of a serious nature will arise,
militating against the peace and harmony which would otherwise exist
among them. At the last session of the legislature of Missouri, commissioners
were appointed to run the northern boundary line of the State. They
have recently been engaged in the work, and, according to the line run by
them, there is included within the limits of the State of Missouri a considerable
tract of country hitherto supposed to belong to the Territory of Wisconsin,
and which is still believed of right to belong to it. The northern
boundary line of Missouri was run several years ago by commissioners appointed
by the State of Missouri, and will cross the Des Moines river at a
point about twenty-five miles from its mouth. This line, if continued on
due east, would strike the Mississippi river near the town of Fort Madison,
about ten miles above the rapids in said river, long since known as the Des
Moines rapids; and this line, so run by the commissioners, has always been
considered as the boundary Hne between the State and Territory. Tne present
commissioners, appointed by the State of Missouri, giving a difierent
construction to the act defining the boundary line of the State, passed up
the Des Moines river in search of rapids, and have seen proper to find them
some twelve or fourteen miles further up the river than the other commissioners
of Missouri formerly did, and, selecting a point which they call
the rapids in the Des Moines river, have from thence marked out a line
which is now claimed as the northern boundary line of the State. Were
this line extended due east, it would strike the Mississippi river at the town
of Burlington, some thirty miles above the rapids known,- as stated above, as
the Des Moines Eapids. :

Missonri was created into an independent State, and her boundary line
defined, in June, 1820. At that time the country bordering on the Des
Moines river was a wilderness, and little was known, except irom the Indians
who lived on its banks, of its geographical situation. There was'at that
time no point on the river known as the Des Moines rapids, and at the
present time between the mouth of the river and the Eaccoon forks, a distance
of two hundred mile's, fifty places can with as much propriety be designated
as the one selected by the commissioners of the State of Missouri.
Your memorialists conceive that no action of the State of Missouri can
or ought to, affect the integrity of the Territory of "Wisconsin; and standing
in the attitude they do, they must look to the general government to protect
their rights and redress their wrongs, which, for so long a period of time,
existed between the Territory of Michigan and the State of Ohio relative to
their boundaries, will, it is hoped, prompt the speedy action of Congress on
this existing subject. Confidently relying upon the wisdom of the general
government, and its willingness to take such means as will settle this question,
the people of "Wisconsin will peaceably submit to an extension ot the
northern boundary line of the State of Missouri, if so be that Congress
shall ordain it; but until such action, they will resist to the utmost extremity
any attempt made by the State of Missouri to extend her jurisdiction
over any disputed territory.
We, therefore, pray that Congress will appoint commissioners, whose duty
it shall be to run the line between the State of Missouri and the Territory
of Wisconsin according to the spirit and intention of the act defining the
boundary lines of the State of Missouri, and to adopt such other measures
as in their wisdom they shall deem fit and proper.
To the Honorable, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States in Congress assembled:
The memorial of a general convention of delegates, from the respective
counties in the Territory of Wisconsin, west of the Mississippi river, convened
at the capitol at Burlington, in said Territory, November 6, 1837,
respectfully represents:
That the citizens of that part of the Territory west of the Mississippi river,
taking into consideration their remote and isolated position, and the vast
extent of country included within the limits of the present Territory, and
the utter impracticability of the same being governed as an entire whole, by
the wisest and best administration of our municipal affairs, in such manner
as to Mly secure individual right and the right of property, as well as to
maintain domestic tranquility, and the good order of society, have by their
respective representatives,, convened in general convention as aforesaid, tor
availing themselves of their right of petition as free citizens, by representing
their situation and wishes to your honorable body, and asking for the organization
of a separate Territorial government over that part of the Territory
west of the Mississippi river.
Without in the least designing to question the official conduct of those in
whose hands the fate of our infant Territory has been confided, and in whose
patriotism and wisdom we have the utmost confidence, your memorialists
cannot refrain from the frank expression of their belief that, taking into
consideratioil the geographical extent of her country, in connection with the
probable population of Western Wisconsin, perliaps no Territory of the

United States lias been so mucli neglected by tbe parent government, so illy
protected in the political and individual rights of her citizens.
Western Wisconsin came into the possession of our government in June,
1833. Settlements were made, and crops grown, during the same season;
and even then, at that early day, was the impulse given to the mighty throng
of emigration that has subsequently filled our lovely and desirable country
with people, intelligence, wealth and enterprise. From that period until the
present, being a little over four years, what has been the Territory of Westem
Wisconsin? Literally and practically a large portion of the time without
a government. With a population of thousands, she has remained
ungovemed, and has been quietly left by the pa,rent government to take care
of herself, without the privilege on the one hand to provide a government of
her own, and without any existing authority on the other to govern her.
From June, 1833, until June, 1834, a period of one year, there was not
even the shadow of government or law in all Western Wisconsin. In June,
1334, Congress attached her to the then existing Territory of Michigan, of
which Territory she nominally continued a part, until July, 1836, a period
of little more than two years. During the whole of this time, the whole
country west, sufficient of itself for a respectable State, was included in two
counties, Dubuque and Des Moines. In each of these two counties there
were holden, during the said term of two years, two terms of a county court
(a court of inferior jurisdiction), as the only sources of judicial relief up to
the passage of the act of Congress creating the Territory of Wisconsin. Tliat
act took eifect on the third day of July, 1836, and the first judicial relief
afforded under that act, was at the April term following, 1837, a period of
nine months after its passage; subsequently to which time there has been a
court holden in one solitary county in Western Wisconsin only. This, your
memorialists are aware, has recently been owing to the unfortunate disposition
of the esteemed and meritorious judge of our district; but they are
equally aware of the fact, that had Western Wisconsin existed under a separate
organization, we should have found relief in the services of other members
of the judiciary, who are at present, in consequence of the great extent
of our Territory, and the small number of judges dispersed at two great a
distance, and too constantly engaged in the discharge of the duties of their
own district, to be enabled to afford relief to other portions of the Territory.
Thus, with a population of not less than twenty-five thousand now, and of
near half that number at the organization of the Territory, it will appear
that we have existed as a portion of an organized Territory, for sixteen
months, with but one term of courts only.
Tour memorialists look upon those evils as growing exclusively out of the
immense, extent of country included within the present boundaries of the
Territory, and express their conviction and belief, that nothing would so
effectually remedy the evil as the organization of Western Wisconsin into a
separate territorial government. To this your memorialists conceive themselves
entitled by principles of moral right—by the same obligation that
rests upon their present government, to protect them in the free enjoyment
of their rights, until such time as they shall be permitted to provide protection
for themselves; as well as from the uniform practice ana policy of the
government in relation to other Territories.
The Territory of Indiana, including the present States of Indiana, Illinois,
and Michigan, and also much of the eastern portion of the present Territory
of Wisconsin, was placed under one separate territorial government in the year

1800, at a time that the population amounted to only five thousand six hundred
and forty, or thereabouts.
The Territory of Arkansas was erected into a distinct Territory, in 1820,
with a population of about fourteen thousand. The Territory of Illinois was
established in 1809, being formed by dividing the Indiana Territory. The
exact population of Illinois Territory, at the time of her separation from Indiana,
is not known to your memorialists, but her population in 1812, one
year subsequent to that event, amounted to but eleven thousand five hundred
and one whites, and a few blacks—in all, to less than twelve thousand
The Territory of Michigan was formed in 1805, by again dividing the
Indiana Territory, of which, until then, she composed a part. The population
of Michigan, at the time of her separation from Indiana, your memorialists
have been unable to ascertain, but in 1810, a period of five years sub-
Eequent to her separate organization, her population amounted to but about
four thousand seven hundred and sixty; and in the year 1820, to less than
nine thousand—so that Michigan existed some fifteen years, as a distinct
Territory, with a population of less than half of Western Wisconsin at present;
and each of the above named Territories, now composing so many
proud and fiourishing States, were created into separate territorial governments,
with a much less population than that of Western Wisconsin, and
that too at a time when the parent government was burdened with a
national debt of millions. Tour memorialists therefore pray for the organization
of a separate territorial government over that part of the Territory of
Wisconsin west of the Mississippi river.

Source: The History of Keokuk County, Iowa, A History of the County, Its Cities, Towns, &c., Illustrated, 1880