Source: REGISTER OF OLD SETTLERS , BOOK One, page 195, 196 & 205
submitted by Neal Carter, Aug. 24, 2007


February 16, 1886


The hall of the Academy of Science was filled from desk to door last evening with the Old Settlers of Muscatine who had assembled to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of their society.

President J. P. Walton opened the meeting with a brief congratulatory address, and said that the occasion deserved the most pleasing prelude, possible, and he introduced a quartette of singers – Mrs. Weed, Miss Dolson, Messrs. Boydston and Irwin, who sang “Farewell to the Forest,” with Miss Nellie Kulp at the organ. The charming melody so beautifully rendered, pitched the sentiment of the meeting to the happiest key.


Rev. A. B. Robbins, D. D., for forty three years pastor of the Congregational Church in Muscatine, was invited to inaugurate the speaking and responded with one of his most felicitous off-hand speeches. He told of his landing at the Bloomington bank; his first repast, at the tavern, on buckwheat cakes and molasses, the syrup bottle dripping with sweetness on every portion of its surface; his walk up the steep ascent, resting by the way at the stumps of trees, to Deacon Fay’s home, still standing in the rear of Postmaster Russell’s new house, and then on over many peculiar and amusing incidents of his pioneer experience. There was much of the tragic also mingled with the comic phases of that life, and he mentioned the murder of Mr. Nye and Dr. Hershe, and other sad casualties, calling for the ministrations of his ministerial office, and alluded to the custom so generally prevailing in society, of making liquors a part of the hospitality of that period, an element now so thankfully banished from our social fetes. His relations with many of the Old Settlers had been peculiar in one respect. He was called to officiate at their funerals which occasions called for a sermon, or what might be called an address; and yet a majority of these friends heard him preach one way and they went the other; but withal one could not fail to recognize their possession of many sterling qualities which challenged one’s respect. Allusion was made to the article in the JOURNAL suggesting the ornamentation of the Council Chamber with portraits of the Muscatine majors. The Doctor thought it would make an interesting gallery, but queried if a gallery of our postmasters wouldn’t equal it and told an anecdodte of one P. M. who used to get so mad at being asked over and over again for letters by parties that never got any, that he threatened to keep a revolver and shoot these tormentors the minute they entered the postoffice. The Doctor closed with tender allusion to the thinning ranks of the Old Settlers.

Song, “I’ll pray for thee,” exquisitely sung by Miss Mattie Jackson and Miss Dolsen, Messrs. Irwin and Boydston. This was one of the few occasions that Miss Jackson had been heard as sole soprano, and her sweet and finely trained voice captivated the house.

The President named that fast young man from Bloomington of the olden time, easily the finest of the old school chevaliers remaining among us, still as full of wit and bonhomie as a Gascoigne, Joseph Bridgman Esq., who in words of pun and pith spoke as follows upon


Mr. President:
-- In the story of the good old patriarch, Isaac, we read that upon a certain occasion he said, “This is the voice of Jacob but the hand is the hand of Esau.” So I recognize your voice, Sir, but if I am not very much mistaken the hand is the hand of my friend Van Horne that has lead you to make this appointment.

I do not mean to say that Van in any respect resembles Esau; but he will bear watching; he has induced you to make one unfortunate appointment and may do so again, so let me give you some advice; don’t trust him for he will surely get you into trouble and don’t you forget it.

You have selected for my subject this evening, Mr. President, “The Girls of Bloomington.” Although I was well acquainted with the girls of that period, it is not an easy task to call them all to mind after a lapse of nearly a half century. How gladly would I like to call the roll of the glorious galaxy of that bright, intelligent and brilliant lot of girls and hear them all answer “present.” But many sad changes have taken place since then and some of them have drank deep of sorrow’s cup. But we will not dwell upon the later times, but speak of the half decade from 1839 to 1845. Those girls whether from New England, New York or the more western states, were just from their schools and seminaries of learning, highly educated, intelligent, accomplished and lady-like in all their deportment. They were from the best society in their native towns and cities, and would adorn any station in the walks of life, and there was this peculiarity about them all – so quick to adapt themselves to the society they found in their new homes. They needed but a simple introduction to each other, and they were at once friends, and with those who are still living that friendship still exists, growing stronger as the decades pass away; and there still lingers around their hearts sweet memories of those who are gone. There was a charming sociability, a freedom, a total lack of form, ceremony and punctilious etiquette, yet a personal self-respect that ever manifested itself in their intercourse in the society with which they mingled – always ready for an afternoon stroll, an evening call, a candy-pulling, party, dance, or sleigh-ride. The ceremony of gilt-edged invitations was discarded, and they adapted themselves to their new surrounding and new associations with a ladylike alacrity and freedom from conventionalism (applause) and how natural it is, even at this late day, to call up the pleasant memories of those days of auld lang syne and find ourselves once more in the company of the “girls of Bloomington” and talk over those scenes of long ago, and that is what we are here for to-night, and we say to our memories, “Carry us back to those halcyon days.”

It would hardly be just the right thing to single out some half dozen and call them by names, but every new arrival caused a flutter in the hearts of that class of bipeds that my friend Mr. Jackson will tell you about tonight. I am sorry for him with such a task before him, and I do not intend to encroach upon his manor, but where there were so many boys and girls who linked themselves together at that time, I have not the heart to separate them now, so you will pardon me for selecting a few and call to mind the circumstances that followed. One of the Miss Smalleys, perhaps more ambitious than most of her lady friends was only satisfied with marrying a Lord, and if the story was true that was current at that time, another could have married a Duke. Pliny Fay spiritually inclined then as in his after life joined the family of Saints. The marble heart of Fred Stone melted under the genial rays and sunny smiles of a Fairchild from Cincinnati, Dr. James Weed in an unguarded moment listened to the siren song of the charmer, fell a willing victim and was Swift to join the matrimonial procession. The speaker, modest then as well as now, was content to gather a single wee flower from the Weeds around the old log-cabin. {Laughter and cheers.} There were in the space of thirty-six months half as many weddings. And the young men all felt that there was a “divinity that shaped their ends, rough hew them as they would.” And

That these girls just came out west,
Briming o’er with love and tenderness.
To fill our lives with joy and zest,
And many a Benedictine’s heart to bless.

The time you allotted me Mr. President is spent, and I will close by saying, that the girls of that time were the equals of any that have succeeded them in the later accessions to Muscatine society, whether coming from abroad or of the Manor born. “None knew them but to love them, none named them but to praise.” {Great applause}

*** continued on page 196 ***

Peter Jackson, Esq., who has lived a very quiet life of late years, but whose positive personality and dry-humor, pervaded with the true flavor of the Noctes Ambrosiannae, gave zest and piquancy to the days of yore, was invited to the floor and spake as follows of


I suppose that what is meant by the “boys” would be the unmarried portion of our early settlers, a rather common condition of life in early times, for in thinking them up I find them so many, that I can barely mention their names and leave many out.

David R. Warfield a man of horses, dogs and guns kept “bach” on the classical banks of Mad Creek with Benjamin Matthews as master of ceremonies and enjoyed frontier life hugely, but in an evil hour tried to confine its waters by a dam to run a sawmill, which the creek resented by washing out the dam. In connection with this mill I will mention an incident to show how primitive our city was at that time. One afternoon I had been up at the mill to see about getting some lumber sawed and returning home in the evening an emigrant with a one-horse covered wagon overtook me as I walked along and asked how far it was to Bloomington. I answered that we were just then on the public square. (Laughter). This emigrant was Hiram Matthews, who had a fashion of opening his eyes very wide, and how they did bung out among those woods where no houses could be seen. There were then a few houses near the steam-boat landing. I recollect of three cabins east of Pappoose – one where Mr. Brannan now lives, one near where Mr. Peter Musser lives, and one in block 30 occupied as a blacksmith shop by a Mr. Walmsley.

Thomas M. Isett was a prominent early settler from near Pittsburg and had a little frame office on the corner of the alley on Chestnut Street – same lot Henry Bodman now occupies – and was given to amusing himself by playing jokes on somebody, one of which was his building a livery stable in imitation of the Episcopal Church right across the street. Mr. Isett had a large interest in the city and surrounding country and by holding on to his property long after nearly all the other proprietors had sold, got too rich to live in Muscatine and moved to New York.

Suel Foster lived a good while as one of our boys, one of the few who owned a horse and buggy in those days, giving him a great advantage in waiting on the young ladies, of whom Mr. Wagner, the phrenologist, said he was particularly fond, but confined himself to those of an unmarriageable age, but finally got hitched to Miss Hastings and you all know him well.

John W. Richman was one of our very handsomest young men and perhaps the best dressed. He opened a grocery store in a log cabin where the Commercial House now is, afterwards building a brick on the other side of the Avenue nearly opposite the passenger depot, taking Mr. Foster as a partner. Mr. Richman never married and died of cholera at the Iowa House.

Joseph Bridgman was very much such a young man as we have him now an old man. His wedding was the first great social event that I recollect of, his bride being Dr. Weed’s only daughter.

Fred Stone was one of our most cultivated and courteous young men, always gentlemanly and pleasant to meet, enjoying life himself and making it pleasant to others. Mr. Stone came to Muscatine as a clerk for H. Q. Jenison, in a small frame store nearly opposite the freight depot, and was County Recorder until he and Mr. Fay went into the drug business.

Chester Weed was one of our most gallant young men, a thorough society man, could get around faster and do more work than any man I ever knew, either in the way of waiting on the ladies or buying coon skins, and could make a full hand at most anything. I recollect the first time I met Chester. It was at John A. McCormick’s on Cedar bottom, where we had all gone for a sleight ride, where we had supper and danced Mrs. McCormick’s carpet to rags, Chester leading in all the enjoyments of the evening.

John B. Dougherty came early and bought the Hollinsworth drug store, on the corner of Chestnut and 2nd, afterwards building the brick he occupied so long. Steady and reliable, those curls finally fascinated him and he left our ranks.

Arthur Washburn, our first postmaster, made Judge of Probate in ’37 and afterwards County Judge, a quiet and excellent citizen.

Dr. James Weed, of Linn county grade road notoriety, our first dentist, you all know.

J. A. Reuling bought the frame, corner of 2d and Chestnut, using it as a bakery and confectionary and moved it back on the alley when he built his 3 story brick in ’52.

Samuel Sinnett was one of our boys in early times and has not lost his vigor, always ready to express his sentiments.

Daniel Mauck was one of our most useful citizens; he could turn his hand to most anything, and seemed to be a confirmed benedict, but Miss Stephenson finally took him.

Isaac, his brother, married the belle of the Slough, Miss Bailey, and is still with us.

Abijah Winn had a good time and held his own finely.

John T. B. Martin, the handsomest young man in Muscatine, finally settled down on Miss Magoon.

Robert McClellan, a jolly Irishman, kept store on the corner of 2d and Chestnut, married Oral Matthews and went to Chicago.

Miles Sells kept a tailor’s shop with Bartholomew. Luke, his brother you all know.

Waterman Benner, our first cooper, was an excellent citizen, but a little queer in some things. He courted a girl in Cedar bottom, and the day set for the wedding being very rainy, Mr. Benner did not go out until they finally sent after him. (Laughter.)

John Evey was perhaps the most peculiar character and confirmed bach we had. He owned some lots on Mulberry, and kept a little shoe shop, but finally moved to Illinois, and married.

John M. Kane kept saddle shop and bachelor’s hall all in one little room on the corner where Union Block now is, a place very much then frequented by the boys, with whom he was very popular, and became one of our first county treasurers.

R. I. Vance and John his brother kept chair shop on the Avenue where Fitzgerald now is, a strong politician and thought there was no place quite equal to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where the Williamses, Masons and Henry Clay Dean came from.

A. M. Hare, our hatter of early days, built our first hall and catered to the amusement of his fellow citizens.

The Smalley boys filled quite a niche in the long ago; they were very musical, I think organized the first band we had in Muscatine. Abraham built the house on the hill where Mr. Bartlett now lives, and there held rehearsals on summer evenings on its flat roof and the outlook and music were hard to beat.

A. J. Fimple kept tailor’s shop where Hare’s hall now stands, where the boys used to meet evenings, and play cards and drink eggnog.

John Mabin our highly esteemed editor, is ahead of all of us in continuity, sticking to his last with wonderful pertinacity. Thoroughly consistent, and true to his convictions, he has pursued the even tenor of his way, and has worked out for himself a most enviable position, as an editor and Christian gentleman in this community and State.

Charles Ogilvie and David Petrikin were our early stone masons; neither of them ever married.

Lyman and H. H. Hine noted as politicians, both became sheriffs.

John, Henry and Joe Reece and Wm. Gordon our original carpenters were all prominent in early times filling important trusts in city and county.

Geo. Humphreys kept store on the corner of 2d and Chestnut, and was quite a ladies’ man, until a fine showing one came along, whom we styled “The White Cloud” and captured him.

John Lemp and Doug. Dunsmore you all know.

Wm. Calder was considerable of a boy those days.

But all of the notorieties Duke De-Webber was perhaps the most amusing. The Duke bought the lot on which Garrettson’s bank now is, and built a small house with posts in the ground, and labeled it “Auction and Commission,” and you may imagine such business was very small those days. But some one would come on, and houses being scarce, he would store their goods for a few days, and some moving away, he would sell their furniture. – At one time the great event of the day was a wrestling match held in it, between Os Phelps and Clark Matthews, I think 10 cents admission. The Duke was somewhat of a dude and a great lady’s man. I recollect very well the afternoon Miss Kate Fairchild landed at our wharf, on a little stern-wheel steamer from Cincinnati. They were all up on the hurricane deck as the boat came in, and the Duke was aboard and up there, welcoming our fair immigrant ere the boat had well touched the landing. Well, a charming widow took him at last, and at his wedding we had our first charivari.

If Phiny Fay had lived in the 13th century I believe he would have been canonized – a most inoffensive and industrious citizen, always willing to do his part and help others to his utmost ability.

H. W. Moore, a most substantial, upright business man, independent and self-reliant, is one of the few among us who has held on to the same business, holding the respect and confidence of his fellow citizens all through these years.

Joseph Bennett, still vigorous and active, one of our earliest settlers, opened a store first in a frame that was moved from Missouri and set up on the alley corner on Chestnut street; afterwards into the brick on Front, and was one of the first to build and move on to Second street. The building and carrying on of the Bennett mill was the largest enterprise we had up to that time, and added greatly to the business of the city.

Ament & Moore, from Tennessee, were among our first stove and tin stores, first opening on Front street, afterward moving on to Second st.

Alexander Jackson came quite early, opening a saddlery, first on Front, afterwards building and occupying a brick, corner of Iowa Avenue and Second.

Howland & Brady were among our first merchants, but moved away early.

James Humphrey’s was, I think, our first book store, but he soon left, to go northwest.

Wm. St. John was our brag chopper in early times; first a farmer, afterwards stage contractor, merchant and miller.

*** continued on page 205 ***

Green & Stone at a later date occupied an important place among us as merchants, pork packers and bankers, as did Wm. C. Brewster.

Our lawyers were mostly married. S. C. Hastings, one of the earliest, was a man of great force of character and carried everything through he undertook.

Jacob Butler, a most active and energetic citizen, contributed largely towards building up our city in every way.

J. Scott Richman was one of our early and able lawyers and got up the biggest sensation we had in early times. We had a lyceum and all the lawyers had been giving us lectures; when it came Mr. Richman’s turn his subject was “Plagiarism” and it fell like a bomb-shell among the lecturers and made that lyceum popular and interesting for some time.

D. C. Richman came late but has kept in the first rank as a lawyer and judge in the estimation of his fellow citizens.

Theo. Parvin came early and became our Judge of Probate and Antiquarian.

J. C. Day was our first Recorder but died early of cholera.

And then we had the eloquent Harry O’Conner and the courtly Wm. G. Woodward, but they all got married so quick that they hardly come in my department.

We had quite a number of unmarried doctors – Dr. J. G. Morrow, a very genial gentleman, universally esteemed and popular, for a long time Clerk of our Courts.

Dr. McKee, Dr. Flint, Dr. Smith, Dr. Grab, Dr. Reeder, Dr. C. O. Waters, physician, editor and preacher. But I cannot even name all our boys; there were the Walton boys, the Brook boys, the Dunn boys, especially Sam, and Captain Dunn the ferryman of the Apex, the Schenck boys, the Quinn boys, the Houser boys, Richard Cadle, Geo. Martin, Alfred Purcell, Edward Fay, Jno and Giles Pettibone, Hollingsworth, D. G. McCloud, Wm. Horsley, E. B. Kinson, W. Ballard, Mr. Lee, Mr. Thurston, Alex. Clark, Benjamin, Matthews, Geo. Manly and Thomas C. Motts. (Applause.)

At the close of Mr. Jackson’s sketchy paper, the company were treated to “Edinboro’ Town,” by Mrs. Weed, accompanied by Miss Kulp, and this favorite singer and favorite song were heartily applauded.

Mr. Samuel Sinnett was called on to sing, but pleaded a cold and told the story of “Pat Murphy’s Bill of Fare” instead, with interesting incidents of courtship in the old Bloomington days.

Mr. Vincent Chambers was also brought on to the floor and convulsed the house by giving his experience with buckwheat cakes and the sweetening process and numerous pioneer anecdotes.

Richard Cadle was called out to tell what he knew of Fitter keeping his chickens in a coffin and what became of them one night.

The President laid before the society the manner of the celebration of the semi-centennial of Muscatine, as proposed by the Academy of Science, and on motion the President was instructed to appoint a committee to confer with the Academy committee and one from the Board of Trade.

The President appointed S. G. Stein and Alex. Jackson.

“Auld Lang Syne” was effectively led by the quintette, and then a recess of ten minutes was taken, which was given up to sociability, and in the interval, on invitation of a committee of gentlemen, Miss Jackson favored the house with “Annie Laurie,” and made the Scotch lassie and song more popular than ever.

Opportunity was given in the recess for new members to sign the constitution and to all, the pleasure of looking over the Old Settlers’ album.

On order being called it was moved and carried that the thanks of the society be tendered Mrs. Weed for providing the evening with its delightful programme of song, and to her talented assistants.

There being no other business, on motion the meeting was adjourned.

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