Reminiscences of Page County’s Past
from the Page County Democrat, 1916 – 1917
typed by: Pat O’Dell – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dec 7, 1916
Mrs E.H. Van Sandt, Wife of Clarinda Pioneer Physician, Sunday, Passed Eighty-seventh Birthday
The Dedication of Clarinda’s First Church—First Supper and Bazaar Held in the City—First Millinary Establishment
Showered with post cards, flowers, and good wishes, Mrs E.H. Van Sandt of this city, mother of A.S. Van Sandt, and widow of Dr N.L. Van Sandt, one of Clarinda’s pioneer physicians, Sunday, passed her eighty-seventh birthday. Though with imperfect hearing, and much more imperfect sight, the mind of this aged woman has not lost its brightness and she can, today, converse with the same intelligence and vivacity that has characterized her for years.
A Christian for many years, she has been identified with Christian work in Clarinda ever since her coming to Page county in 1858. Most interestingly did she tell me of her early experiences in this part of the county when the people lived simply, courageously, and happy, though enduring many privations.
Mrs Van Sandt an Ohioan
Mrs Van Sandt was born in Ohio in 1829. She was married to Dr N.L. Van Sandt at Troy, O., and in 1858, in company with her husband and son, A.S. Van Sandt, with whom she had made her home for a dozen years, she came to this county. Her son, at the time of his parents immigration to Iowa, was a boy of six years of age.
Year of Their Immigration Rainy
The Van Sandt’s arrived in Clarinda in June 1858. From April 1858 to April the following year, there was for the most part, a continuous season of rain. There was not a foot of side walk in town so the reader can imagine in what a plight the people were during that decidedly damp time. The wheat was ruined. The moisture had caused a formation of smut in the wheat which spoiled it for any future usefulness. Farmers cut their wheat and shocked it, thinking it might produce a small yield, at least, but it grew in the shocks until they looked like green mounds. Then there would be several bright days when the clouds seemed to promise fair weather and the farmers would go to the fields, tear these shocks to pieces, pick out the growning grain and throw it aside, and place the rest in stacks. But, on the morrow the rain would again set in and the grain in the stacks would grow until the meadows became dotted by green hills. The wheat crop was a total failure, for even after all this labor the grain was not fit for flour. As a consequence, the people were forced to eat corn bread.
Mrs Van Sandt says when she came here the prairie was lovely with its covering of prairie grass, dotted by beautiful wild flowers.
First Meeting House
As Mr Stevenson told us, there was no church building then but church was held in the first log school house upon whose site Garfield now stands. Represented among the settlers were the Methodist, Baptist, and Cumberland Presbyterian denominations. Each denomination had its minister and each took its turn in having charge of the Sunday service. In the old school house the worshipers sat upon slabs with stocks of round stove wood stuck in for legs. All denominations united in a Union Sunday school which was held in the old court house on the south side of the square.
Rev Stockton, Judge Stockton’s father, conducted the services for the Presbyterians, Rev Cole for the Methodist and Rev Smith for the Baptist. The Methodist congregation built the first church edifice in town on the spot where the United Presbyterian church now stands. When the building had been enclosed and the glass for the windows had arrived, it was found that only part had been sent and that was placed in the front windows next the street. The rest of the windows were boarded up in the best possible way. Logs were laid down the sides and center aisles and upon these logs were laid planks.
Methodist Dedicate Their Church
The day on which the little building was dedicated to the service of God, was a bitter cold one. Sitting upon the rough planks, mentioned above, with windows only partly closed against the cold, while they listed to the dedication sermon, many in the audience froze their feet, Mrs Van Sandt being among the number.
Ladies’ Aid Society Formed
In August 1859, the women of the several congregations had banded themselves together in a Ladies’ Aid Society or Sewing Circle. The purpose in its forming was to help with any movement intended to promote the general welfare of the city and vicinity. The first work purposed was to fence the cemetery which had become pasture ground for the town cows as well as the farmers cattle. he money for this new fence was finally earned by various methods, the first being the holding of a fair and festival on the evening of Feb 22, 1860. On that day a terrible blizzard swept the country and though the women did their part toward preparing the supper, they did not think people would be courageous enough to venture out to eat it. They were most agreeably surprised, though, when the church was filled to over flowing with a crowed that realized them quite a sum of money. When the men found what the women had planned to do with the money, they agreed to fence the cemetery and let the women use their money for something else. The Aid Society then purchased evergreens and forest trees for beautifying the cemetery grounds. The large forest trees standing in the cemetery today were planted at that time. The evergreens did not grow well and proved a poor investment.
The society later on purchased a bell for the school house, trees to plant on the school grounds, expended some money on side walks, and after the little village had sent its share of soldiers to the front, prepared supplies for those soldiers.
The Van Sandt’s in First Page County Home
Mrs Van Sandt was preceded to Page county by her brother, Dr Heald, and family, and sister, Joanna. With them, the Van Sandt family stayed after their arrival here until they were able to rent the only vacant house in town, the one which now stands west of the German Lutheran church. This house, at that time, was without lath, unplastered, and was unpartitioned. The owner had hides reposing on the rafters of the best room and refused to remove them so they formed the ceiling of that room and quilts were hung to the studding to constitute the inner walls. This house they could not live in during the cold weather, so in November their belongings were transferred to the little old fashioned house, a block north, which is now known as the Hurlbut house. While living here Mrs Van Sandt saw one day, what appealed to her as a very funny sight. While hanging out the clothes after doing the family washing, she heard a noise on the road at the corner of the house and going to see what it was, beheld a cart drawn by a pair of young oxen. Beside the animals, walked a man with a gad, who was striving to keep them in the road. In the cart were two handsomely dressed young ladies, so out of place in comparison to the other inhabitants of the village, that Mrs Van Sant wondered who they could be and how they came to be riding in the awkward ox cart. It was not long ere she found out, for everybody knew everybody else in those days. The ladies proved to be a Mrs Lowell and her daughter, who had a short time previous, moved with Mr Lowell, a bankrupt merchant of Philadelphia, to a farm four miles north of Clarinda which he had purchased. Before long Mrs Van Sandt grew quite well acquainted with the handsomely dressed stranger.
Dec 14, 1916
106 Years Old
Aunt Lucy Brown, Clarinda’s Oldest Inhabitant, Interestingly Relates Life Story
CHRISTMAS IN SOUTH CELEBRATED BY FEASTING AND DANCING
Little Pickannies Eagerly Awaited Coming of Christmas Man Who Brought Them Cakes and Sugar Eggs
In these times, seldom it is that we meet a person of great age; it is of still rarer occurrence that we meet one who is very old and who retains full use of his or her mental faculties. When such a one is met, we look upon them and hear them with wonder. Last week, Aunt Lucy Brown of this city, a colored woman, who claims she has lived 106 years, and who is bedfast and blind, though not totally, applied to the Page county Board of Supervisors for a pension on account of her inability to see sufficiently to care for herself. She lives at the home of Mr and Mrs Henry Cook, her nephew and niece in northeast Clarinda, and Mrs Cook very kindly cares for her wants. Mrs Cook, however, works outside of her home, and Aunt Lucy must stay by herself a great deal of the time. The Cooks feel that they need aid in caring for their aged relative, and anyone who knows or becomes acquainted with Aunt Lucy cannot help but feel that no one could be found who would be a more worthy applicant.
The aged woman is Clarinda’s oldest citizen and her coming to this county dates back to 1863, during the Civil War. Feeling that Miss Brown could tell me many things that would be of interest to readers of the Democrat, I called upon her at the Cook home and found one of the most remarkable personages one’s imagination could picture. She told me the story of her life, which I wish now to rehearse in part. To tell all that she told me would be impossible, but a mind more wonderful, especially in one so aged, and having had the merest opportunity for an education, one would not find again in ten thousand.
Miss Brown a Virginia
Lucy Brown was born in slavery in Virginia. Her father, Elijah Brown, was a slave of a certain John Creal. Her mother, Elsie Brown, was owned by Franklin Price. Miss Brown says her mother, when a little girl, belonged to Price’s grandfather, by whom Price was raised. When Price was but a lad, the slave girl Elsie was sent to carry the boy to and from school. Many times would she carry the boy on her back until she was out of sight of his grandfather, then she would put him on his feet and tell him he must walk and if he told his grandfather what she had done, she would smack him. The boy to her knowledge, never gave her away. While he was getting his lessons and fitting himself for future usefulness, she idly drowsed during the warm days or sat unoccupied, not being allowed a chance to get knowledge along with her more fortunate companion.
The Creal and Price plantations were several miles apart, a large navigable river separating them. Elijah Brown would o his days work on the Creal plantation and then go home to his family who lived in a cabin on the Price place. At times, when the river was high, he was forced to stay away from his home until the water had gone down and it was safe to cross. Elijah and Elisie Brown were the parents of seven children.
Master Takes Up Arms for Country
When the war was declared in 1812 (Miss Brown did not know what the war was called, but judging from her account it must have been that one) her owner enlisted, hiring out a part of his slaves. The mother, older brother and sister and Lucy were separated. Lucy at that time was a very small child, just large enough to be able to amuse a baby. She was hired out to a family who needed such help and with them she stayed a year. She then went to a second plantation to act in the same capacity. Her new master and mistress were very kind to her. The mistress had relatives near the Price plantation, and wishing to visit them at one time while Lucy was in her home, set out on horseback to make the trip, taking the child with her to visit her mother and brothers and sisters. This was the last time Lucy saw her mother. The word came to her afterwards that her mother was dead but she did not realize what that meant for she had never heard the words ‘dead’ or ‘death’ used before and hadn’t the slightest idea of their meaning. Consequently it was not for a long time that Lucy partially grasped the meaning of the message. Miss Brown gave me to understand that she felt the greatest wrong ever inflicted upon slaves by the Southern people was keeping them in that terrible state of ignorance. The greater mass of them could never recover from it.
Christmas in Miss Brown’s Childhood
Though never, while a child, having understood what Christmas meant, Aunt Lucy says she remembers, when but a little tot, of her parents telling her brothers and sisters that the old Christmas man was coming that night and when they got up in the morning they found beside their plates or in some other place in the cabin, little cakes and what was known as sugar eggs, which took the place of candy, at that time an unknown quantity. Lucy’s mother would break the end of the egg shells, blow out the contents, and after making a sugary composition which she boiled to a consistency which would harden when allowed to stand, she would pour this hot syrup, much like maple syrup into the shells. When it was hardened the children had the typical sugar plum to much tearing away the shell to get to the goodies. She never heard of hanging up stockings, Christmas trees, etc., until she came west to Missouri and Iowa. It was not until she became grown that she began to know the meaning of Christmas.
The Little Colored Children Used Gourds and Squashes for Dolls
Aunt Lucy says her childhood days and those of other colored children she knew were for the most part one round of happiness. Their dolls were fashioned of gourds, squashes and rags and their play houses made in fence corners where they would get together all the broken dishes they could find. Dolls and dishes were in their eyes the two articles necessary to the making of a home. And there they would play as happily as the white children of their owners who were raised to so many luxuries.
Miss Brown relates of but one instance of being cruelly treated by a master. While young, she worked for a man who was very hard hearted and cruel. One day she was sent to a well for a bucket of water. The water had to be drawn from the well by a rope and the task was a long hard one for as young a child. When she came back to the house with the water her master accused her of having loitered about her task and after stripping her clothes from her and typing her hands, he lashed her with a terrible whip until the blood ran down her back and legs. Such cruelty makes a true American’s blood boil yet.
The aged woman told me that during her period of slavery she had done everything in the line of work but plough. From a child she was strong and later on capable of doing the work of a man.
Franklin Price Immigrates to Missouri
As near as she can recall Franklin Price, her master, moved from Virginia to Missouri in 1822, when she was twelve years of age. He brought with him his slaves. Traveling with them for some distance were Joseph Smith and his Mormon followers on their way from Ohio to Missouri. She recalls the troubles of the Mormans in Missouri, the imprisonment of Joseph Smith and Samuel Rigdon and their expulsion from the state of Ill. where they set up their residence at Nauvoo. She also recalls the War with Mexico and a company of 500 Mormons passing the Price plantation on their way from Illinois to take part in this war.
When she was leaving to come west to Missouri, Aunt Lucy went to pay her great grandmother a visit. The latter was very old. She cared for the old colored nurse of General Andrew Jackson who was an invalid. The old grandmother gave Lucy some very excellent advice as to her future course of conduct. She must always be polite, kind and never saucy. She must do whatever her master or mistress asked her to do. Since that time her grand child has always tried to follow her advice and owes what success she has had in life to that last talk with her aged relative.
It was while she was living in Missouri at Price’s property, that she attended her first public celebration. It was a Fourth of July barbecue and it fell to Aunt Lucy, who was an exceptionally fine cook, to prepare the eatables for the Price’s picnic dinner at the barbecue. As she named over the good things they had prepared at that time it made one’s mouth water to listen.
It was while in Missouri (Miss Brown did not know the exact time) that J.M. Hawley, grandfather of A.J. Hawley, came with his family from Pennsylvania to the same place in Missouri in which the Price plantation was located. Being a friend of Mr Price, the Hawley family visited at the plantation and Aunt Lucy formed their acquaintance. J.D. Hawley was then a small boy in knicker bockers. J.M. Hawley engaged in business in Missouri but later came to Iowa, settling at Hawleyville.
Christmas When a Grown-up
The southern white folks made much of the Christmas holidays. Their festivities sometimes began as long as three weeks before and then the cooks made preparations of great magnitude and the masters and mistresses made merry and danced to the music of the negro’s banjos and fiddles. The Negros made merry, too, but could not on account of working for the whites, devote as much time to it.
Miss Brown came to Iowa during the Civil War. Her sister, Mrs Barney Cook, mother of E.B. and Henry Cook was then living near College Springs and to her home she came. She later came to Clarinda which was then but the smallest village. She has worked among the white people since her coming here and has made many friends of whom, as she now lies on her bed of invalidism, she takes much pleasure in thinking.
A person of no education, not even able to read when she came to Clarinda, she began to teach herself by taking her bible to church with her, following the minister in his reading and then remembering what was read. Now, she says she can repeat much of the Scriptures by the use of her wonderful memory.
If we truly believe in scattering sunshine, we here have an opportunity of doing it. Aunt Lucy’s last days might be made very bright if our hearts are on the right side.
Dec 21, 1916 – Hepburn
L.E. McCleland, our village carpenter will erect for Mr Peter Larson a new barn and dwelling house. Mr McCleland is a first class workman and anyone contemplating on building will do well to see him before they let their work out to any one else.
Some of the needs of our little town is a hotel or some place where one can get a good warm meal. Quite a few coming to our town bring their lunch along. This doesn’t speak well for our town. Anyone looking for an opening of this kind can find a good place for the business.
Corn is being shipped from here the past few days and teams thronging our streets loaded makes it look like old times.
Mr Olaf Leden, our cement man, has been very busy at his trade this fall. He has just completed some work for F.O. Swanson.
Mr Pat Sullivan has started his mill for manufacturing native lumber and will have for sale all kinds of native lumber. If you are contemplating on building, see him for prices. Pat will treat you right—he always does.
Grover Shields is sure a busy man taking care of all the grain coming in.
Mr Gorman with a full force of men is pushing the work on the new school house and soon Hepburn will be proud of the enterprises of this kind.
The writer in noticing the write-up of Mr and Mrs Robert Stevenson, which was very interesting to all old timers and Hepburn is proud to say that a good old timer lives in our village and was a member of a family that was the first to reside in the city of Clarinda. The house which was occupied by Mr Johns stood near the center of the west side of the public square. It was just one room made of native lumber and no plastering. The wagon sheet made the walls to keep out the cold. Mr Johnson says it was a very mild winter. Mr Johnson’s sister Charity was born there in that home, Now Mrs Thomas of Red Oak, Iowa. The hay shed for the stock was situated, as near as he remembers where the court house now stands. Mr Johnson says a vacant log house stood on the north side of the square and the next year Mr Shambaugh placed a little stock of merchandise in this log cabin, the first store in Clarinda. Mr Johnsons’s father started a shingle machine to manufacture shingles from native trees. This enterprise was run by tread power, using a yoke of oxen to run the machine. Mr Johnson lived in Clarinda in 1853. Mr W.K. Dyke settled in 1850. This gives our village two citizens that can tell us many things of interest about the early settling of one of the grandest countries for many things which are being demonstrated year by year. It will do you good to talk with these two old settlers.
We also would not be treating our worthy citizen, W.K. Dye right if we did not mention his early days in this locality for it is Mr Dyke who was among the early settlers of the Kingdom of Page. Mr Dyke settled in valley township in 1850. Clarinda then was not known of. Mr Dyke still lives in a part of the sand they entered in that early day.
Jan 4, 1917
Not All the Early Settlers of the County Lived in it’s Eastern Part
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP AS PIONEERS SAW IT
Earliest Settlers Staked Out Their Claims in the 50’s When Indians Roamed Through the Country
(By courtesy of D.A. Peck, Northboro, Ia—In Sentinel Post [Shenandoah, Iowa] July 20, 1915)
In the early ‘50’s when this whole country was a raw prairie and was only inhabited by roving bands of Indians, have never lived in this township, but who would pass thru here on hunting expeditions or traveling from one reservation to another, it was settled by the pioneer farmer who would migrate in covered wagons from the states of Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri. Washington township was surveyed in the fall of 1845, it being the first township survey in Page county. B.C. Freeman was the first settler in Washington township and his son, William, was the first white child born in Washington township. That was in September 1856.
These new settlers would buy their land from the government, or what they called “staked out claims.” Most of them would settle near the timber where they could hew out logs to make the house, or near the streams of water.
At first they built without windows, later on glass windows coming into used. A radical improvement was added when a saw mill at Brownsville, Mo., opened up. The people of this township would haul their lumber from there, twenty-eight miles. There wasn’t any such thing as getting seasoned lumber; it was all green. They had no plaster and the houses were mainly ceiled with cottonwood lumber. Many seasoned this green lumber by sticking first one end of a bunch of lumber into the kitchen stove and then the other. These burnt marks remained on the walls of these houses for years.
Prairie Hay First Crop
After building a home the pioneer would start the breaking plow in the sod preparing to raise a crop of corn and wheat. In the meantime prairie hay was a great help in feeding the stock. It was plentiful and grew from two to four feet high. The hay was usually stacked in the first instance on the prairie, then they would plow a strip or two several rods apart around the stacks and at a good distance. Some calm clear day the space between them would be burned to protect the stacks from fire. Many would often lose their whole year’s crop of wild hay by fire which meant much to them.
The buying of the mower was one of the severest tests. Often several of the neighbors would join and buy one and keep it going into the night so that all would get hay. The prairie fire would burn off much of the grass in the district included between Hamburg, Shenandoah, Coin, Westboro, Tarkio to nearly College Springs, stopping not for Tarkio streams even.
Much of the prairie would have acres and acres covered with rosin or gum weed with much gum on the plants making it burn like a torch. One of these fires would, with a high wind, travel at the speed of a rapid horse. These fires were dangerous to buildings, crops and persons even who might be caught in one.
Got Freight by Wagon
At theis time the Union and Central Pacific railroads were not built. However, large overland emigrations were taking place to California for gold and to the various mining operations of the West. As but little farming was then done in the West much of the food necessities had to be literally wagon roaded all the way to the Rockies. This opened up an outlet for the produce of this territory.
The big freighter which was well known on the plains, as the West was then called, consisted of a six mule team driven by one line, pulling a big heavy freight wagon. They would buy up the dressed poultry, butter, eggs, bacon, ham and other eatables and freight it to the mountains. These overland trains usually consisted of about fifty wagons all going together well armed to protect each other from the Indians. Some of the freighters had squaw wives along with them, then if they were caught in a trap by the Indians, they would be adopted into the tribe and thereby secure their safety.
A Corn Crop in ‘62
About the year 1862, Elias Comfort, a pioneer farmer, well known in Washington township, and a neighbor, each shelled a load of corn by hand and hauled it with the freighters to Denver [Colorado] and sold it at such a high rate that they made big money. This wagon freighting was not just from this township but from all over the country. It helped to make a good market for the produce and was kept up until the railroads to the Pacific were built. Nearly all the early local traveled roads went up the ridges as the sloughs were too wet. There was a ridge road from Rockport to Clarinda by way of Center Grove. Union Grove, thence north and a little east up to Snow Hill, thence into Clarinda. After full settlements were made the roads were squared up with section lines.
Curiously many early settlers looked on the ridge roads as permanent and built their homes square with the ridge road instead of square with the section lines. This long ridge road thus traveled between the two Tarkios was known as Lousy Ridge. Many of the early settlers insisted on keeping these ridge roads even to having them made permanent by the board of supervisors, but they were finally discarded.
Rockport Was Trading Point
Rockport, Mo., had been the trading town and the first postoffice and the people of Washington township had their mail address Rockport and whoever went to town would bring out the mail for the whole neighborhood, to the home of Michael Kime at Waldon Grove and he distributed it, not as a United States postmaster, but by general consent of the community. The first road established in Washington and other townships was the road from Hamburg to College Springs and known as the Hamburg road, the first to be bridged and worked fit for travel. In 1862 this Hamburg road, as compared with the Ridge road was called the Blind road so little travel as there for the first year. The first mail route north and south was established about the same time, 1863, from Clarinda to Braddyville, over land on horseback. There was also a mail route established between College Springs and Hamburg, with a post office at Union Grove on the farm of David Peck, the first postmaster in Washington township. Mr Noe was the first mail man. He carried mail the thirty miles on horse back.
They soon ceased carrying the mail on horse back but used the old stages for carrying provisions and passengers.
Coming of the School House
The first school house in this township was built in 1862, known as school house No 1, on the Comfort farm. As soon as the house was completed district school was started at once. The first teacher was Miss N.M. Pierce, now Mrs W.S. Bodwell of College Springs. She taught a three months school for $14 a month and boarded around, that is she would board with one family one week and the next with another.
The first Sunday School was organized the following year, 1863 by D.A. Peck in this old school house and is still running at the present day.
About this time the grist mill came into use and there was one in this township known as Martin’s Mill. The power was furnished by the use of the old water wheel. People then took the old fashioned “grist” of wheat, and the usual twelve lbs was taken as toll to the miller for his service. It was not an exchange of wheat for flour but a literal grinding of the specific wheat taken to the mill.
Guerilla Warfare Flourished
From 1862 to 1865, during the war, as this was the boundary line between Missouri and Iowa, it was very hot times here. It was what was known as guerilla warfare raging on both sides. As for instance Jesse James, Younger and Quantril bands of guerillas on one side and similar companies on the other, who were never regularly mustered into either army. And to whom neither the Federal or Confederate government ever furnished horses, guns or ammunition. They were simply making war hideous. Both sides had this class of marauders roaming over northern Missouri. They boasted, both sides that they would neither give nor take quarter. This meant that if either side was captured by the other, it meant death. Each side boasted about ‘dying with their boots on.” One side in their cruelties, only called the other to go it one better. Right at this time in this section it was feared that a raid would be made to sack and kill in College Springs as had been done in Lawrence, Kansas. At College Springs they had encouraged many negroes to run away from their masters in Missouri. At this time the population of College Springs was probably two third negroes. As already stated, there were reconnoiterings made by the guerillas or rebels with an idea of sacking College Springs for running away so many “niggers.”
They sent up one of their number to College Springs for the purpose of becoming familiar with those in the town who deserved the fate considered proper. A company of soldiers or rather militia, at or near St Joseph, learned of the job, and sent two soldiers after him. He was encountered on a main street in College Springs. Their orders were “to make no report” and was readily understood. They ate dinner with him and he did not catch on. After dinner he was taken prisoner, disarmed and then started toward St Joseph. When the state line on the creek where Blanchard now stands was reached, they shot him. The state line idea was that if they should be caught in which ever state they sought to try the soldiers, the question of jurisdiction could be raised. In whichever state caught they would prove that it was in the other.
Shot at State Line
In one instance the north was organizing what were called Union Leagues to further the Union or northern cause. The south, on the other hand was organizing a corresponding League called “The Knights of the Golden Circle” to further the rebel cause. One Mr Laughlin, residing in College Springs started to Maryville, Missouri to organize one of these Union Leagues. He was fired at from the brush, shot in the hip and was always lame from the wound. This angered the northern men all through this section and the following day men on horse back from College Springs, Union Grove, now “Northboro” all turned out, and went over to that neighborhood near Chickenbristle and burned five sets of the rebel farm buildings. The following week scores of rebels fled from the neighborhood to Nebraska City and stayed until after the war.
Bought Army Mules
At the close of the war in 1865, the United States had a surplus of mules and held an auction sale at Leavenworth of several thousand of them. People went down from this section of the country and bought up a number of them. The price ranged from eight dollars to fifteen dollars each; very cheap, though everything was cheap those days; the farmers worked those mules on the farms for several years. At the close of the war the settlers of this township had the experiences of other western countries. Its residents being subject to the usual privations of pioneer life. The first settlers were men of small financial means; something curious, they were all alike, no one had any money. It has been said that sometimes they did not have enough money to buy postage stamps. Many of our old mothers pride themselves that they kept their family of seven or eight a whole year on one dollars worth of sugar or thirteen pounds—using sorghum molasses as a substitute not even using sugar in their coffee only when they had company or when the preacher came.
The early settlers were noted for their hospitality, they never turned a stranger away, or the new comers as they were called. It mattered not how many there were and only one room in the house, when bedtime came near, the first family would usually retire in the back part of the house and so continue filling up the room until the limit was reached. The youngers and single men slept in the barn or wagon. In the morning the nearest the door arose first and went out of doors to dress. Meals consisting of cornbread, buttermilk, fat pork, sorghum molasses and coffee if they had any to wash down the “Johnny cake.”
A Hunter’s Paradise
For the sportsman or hunter, there were plenty of prairie wolves, a few deer and the prairie grass was full of prairie chickens and quail.
In 1867 the railroad was built into Hamburg. This was the first railroad in southwest Iowa and all the produce from this neighborhood was hauled there and it became the trading point for this part of the country until Shenandoah was started, Aug 6, 1870. This brought the railroad only fifteen miles away, and the neighborhood talked much how the times were improving. When the railroad came this country settled up rapidly.
The prairie sod was plowed up and put into corn, thus Shenandoah became a great corn shipping town. At one time in two days Shenandoah shipped eight-eight car loads of shelled corn. This was in 1877 or ’78 and a great deal of that corn came from this part. In 1879 the Wabash railroad was put through and that same year the town of Blanchard was started. The following year a railroad was built through from Corning, Mo to A.J. Mawhinney’s in Washington township. An engine house was built and the train came up each evening and stopped over night returning the next morning. This was known as the Mawhinney Junction. They also put in a grain office and Alonzo Mawhinney bought corn through the winter of 1880. That year there was the largest corn crop ever grown in Washington township. The following year the rail road was built on through to Clarinda. This road was built by the K.C. and C.B.I. and was known as the Denver Short Line, now called the Tarkio Valley branch.
Town Site for a Song
The land for a town site was purchased from James Tarpening and Aschel Wilmot at $25.00 per acre for 160 acres located on the northwest corner of section 25 in Washington township. J.M. Darby making the purchase and acting as agent for the Railroad Co. That fall the village of Northboro was started. This was in 1881. It is located in a rich agricultural valley and is as good a farming community as can be found in the country. Therefore it was a great shipping point for both stock and grain and a station was established.
Mar 29, 1917
Alex Duncan, Owner of His Present Home for 68 Years, and a Resident of This Part of the Country Since 1845, Tells Some Interesting Experiences
PRAIRIE GRASS SIX INCHES HIGH MARCH 1st
Settlers Did Not Set Out Apple Trees Nor Plant Fall Wheat, Thinking They Could Not be Raised....in This Climate
Ninety-one years of age next July a resident of the farm upon which he now lives for sixty-eight years, and a settler near Siam, Ia., in 1845, Alex Duncan, who lives two and one-half miles northwest of New Market, enjoys the distinction of not being the object of a physicians call in fifty years, and is now clear in mind, delighting himself with the doings of the world at large, firm of step for one of his age, and the possessor of fair sight and hearing.
Previous to moving on the Taylor county farm, ten aces of which lie in Page, Mr Duncan resided on land near Siam for four years. During these four years he was married, moving to the Taylor county land in September, following.
Mr Duncan relates some thing which happened in 1845 which has never happened since. On the first day of March, the grass was six inces high and by April it was tall enough to wave in the breeze. Mr Duncan accounts for this wonderful advance in the growth of vegetation by the fact that the Pottawatamie Indians, who had possession of the country, had burned off the prairie, warming the ground to such a degree, that, coupled with the rapid advance of the season, the grass had appeared unusually early and had grown rapidly. Sheep, horses and cattle grazed upon it.
The inhabitants of the country consisted of Indians, wolves, wild cats, and deer. The former were of no particular benefit to the white settlers though they never gave them any trouble, for they were peaceable Red Men. Wolves and wild cats they could have put in a delightful existence without but the deer proved a valuable accession to their larders.
The Duncans Plant a Garden
The Duncan family planted a garden and raised chickens from the time of its coming to this country. Mrs Duncan brought garden seed with her when she came to Iowa, and as soon as she and her husband had settled on the land on which they now live, a garden was made, in which all the various vegetables were raised. Mrs Duncan says her garden was always good. She had no trouble in making any vegetable grow. For some time, no one planted fall wheat or set out apple trees, for they didn’t suppose it would be possible to raise them here. Later, it was demonstrated that both would thrive in Iowa, and they were from that time on planted.
Non-Shaving of Beard Cures Pneumonia
Mr Duncan had two attacks of pneumonia after coming to his present home. During both sick spells, Dr Alexander Farrens attended him. When he had made his second recovery, his physician gave him a queer prescription to ward off another attack. He told him if he would quit shaving his bead, he would have no further trouble with pneumonia. The advice was followed with the result already spoken of, that Mr Duncan had not found it necessary to call a physician since.
Feb 12, 1917
end of article
little or no written law, the person’s judgement was his chief qualification to hold such an office. Because Mr Ferguson was regarded as a man of good judgement, he was chosen to fill the position. Later on, he was taught to read and spell by one of his daughters who had succeeded in getting the rudiments of an education. Mrs Davison says her father, at one time had a village store and operated it successfully, though how he did so, with his almost complete lack of knowledge, she does not know.
Earl Manner of Doing Family Washing
Before the day of wash boards, the family washing was done in a very peculiar manner. In the first place, there was always plenty of home made soft, soap. A suds was made in a vessel and several of the soiled garments placed in this. They were then taken out and place on the top of a large wooden block. Here, by means of a large paddle, the dirt was paddled from them, care being taken to turn them often so that all parts of the garment received an equal share of paddling. If the dirt proved especially stubborn about leaving the clothing, it was washed through the hands until all trace of it’s soil was gone.
The first wash boards were made entirely of wood.
Mrs Davison Taught to Work Out-of-doors
Mrs Davison, as a child, was taught to work out-of-doors as well as in the house. She remembers well of following the oxen, which her father was using before the plow. When they became unusually slow and lazy, it was her duty to urge them on, thus saving her father time and trouble. Many times she would go around the field and very tired she would become, but her father’s delicate health necessitated help and Mrs Davison was taught that all must share in the daily labor. (To be continued.)
April 26, 1917
June 7, 1917
first part pasted
Settlers Enjoyed Good Health
The settlers, for the most part, enjoyed good health. They were however, the victims of ague and fever, especially the former, which it was thought were caused by decayed vegetation, which had resulted from turning under so much prairie.
When death entered their homes, they fashioned the rude coffins from the material at hand and laid the silent forms away without a burial service, there not being ministers at hand at all times to conduct such services. At such times, if there was a lack of service, there was not a lack of sympathy.
Winters Were Severe
The winters of pioneer days were severe. The snows which fell were usually deep; sometimes it was necessary for the children to wade knee deep to school after a snow storm. Overshoes were not known but they seemed to experience no especial discomfort from the exposure. Their clothing fitted them to battle with the elements more efficiently that does ours at the present time, because, while it was homemade, it was also heavy and very warm. Hose were knitted at home and likewise very warm. Mrs Miller thinks the way people care for themselves now in cold weather is sufficient to warrant much sickness.
Very Little Amusement
The early days were busy days. So much time was put in cultivating the land, raising and caring for stock, and improving conditions about them, that they did not have time to turn outside their homes for amusement. However, there came a time, a few years later, when the increasing population saw the people asking for something by which they might be amused. Then it was, that a certain Mr Hull came from Missouri to start a singing school and his efforts met with the approval of all, so anxious were they for something to relieve the monotonous grind. The singing school gave way to spelling schools and other forms of entertainment.
Page County Democrat, Clarinda, Iowa Jun 7, 1917
June 14, 1917
first part clipped
War Times Were Hard Times
Those years during the war were a season of very hard times. Coffee reached the dollar mark on a pound, flour sold at $11.00 a hundred, and calico at 50 cents per yard. The women felt as much dressed up in a calico dress as they would in a silk one at the present time. To take the place of coffee, which many of the settlers were too poor to purchase, bread was browned a very deep brown then ground, and a drink made from it.
Mrs Trusdall remembers that her mother at one time made her daughters dresses of muslin which she dyed to the color of the oriole’s breast by the use of coperas. The young ladies felt very much dressed up indeed in their new frocks. People were often compelled to go without shoes.
News of Lincoln’s Death Reaches Clarinda
While living in their old home east of the Christian church, the city was notified by the man who drove a hack to this place for the accomodation of travelers of the tragic death of Abraham Lincoln. Every citizen was bowed with sorrow at the news and there was not a house in town but that displayed crepe upon the chief entrance as a token of the sorrow felt by the inmates.
June 21, 1917
starts in middle
to put down a well, in order that the family might be provided with good drinking water. He was a little short of funds at the time and sold his wedding suit to pay for the digging. Three wells were dug with no success, so Mr Rounds was out his suit and yet compelled to do without the water he had hoped to find.
After a residence of some years in the vicinity of Ottumwa, two New Yorkers stopped at the Rounds cabin one day and talked Mr Rounds into coming still farther westward where they believed he could do better than he was doing in that locality. He listened to their arguments and finally made up his mind to move his family, in company with the strangers to and farther west. That is how Mrs Rounds came to Page county in 1855. Mr Rounds Invests in Page County Soil
Once arrived in Page county, Mr Rounds invested in land and, choosing some lying on the west bank of the Nodaway river, northeast of Clarinda. Mrs Rounds says that old settlers will know it by the name of the Reeves Farm. Their home was a cabin with but one small window for light and ventilation.
From the cabin door all kinds of wild game could be sighted and Mr Rounds, who was a splendid shot, could go there most any time and catch sufficient game to last his family as long as it cared to use it. One morning, before breakfast, he shot two deer from this spot.
The furniture of the home was homemade and not plentiful. The beds were made of rails and for a time Mrs Rounds did not possess a table. She relates of having entertained Mrs Samuel McMichael, also an early settler of the county, for a meal, during the time before she possessed a table. Mrs McMichael came to the county after Mrs Rounds and lived just north of her a short distance. The two women exchanged visits and Mrs Rounds entertained her neighbor to a lap supper served from a clap board.
Grandfather of C.V. Edmonds a Neighbor, also