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First Settler

this site was last updated on Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Touching the Question of who was the first Settler.

Last week Mr. A. R. Young, of Washington Township visited his son Mr. Frank Young. The well-known stock Buyer of this city. There has always been an unsettled question in the mind of the writer as to whether there was not a priority of settlement near Fort Atkinson, which ante-dated the Campbell’s in Bloomfield Township and the Krumms at or near the Fort. This visit by Mr. Young gave the writer an opportunity to try and settle some of the doubts existing. His researches had given priority to the Campbell's first, the Krumm brothers second. A two hours talk and the letter given below brings out, a nice bit of pioneer history well worth the telling.

Mr. Young senior, enlisted at Philadelphia, in the regular army in 1845. He was taken to New York, and sent to Mexico in 1846, in time to participate in the Mexican war. As a soldier he assisted in handing over the first installment of three millions dollars which this government paid Mexico for the territory acquired by the war and the treaty of peace with Mexico. His company (Co. C, 6th infantry, Capt. Alexander,) left Mexico June 12th, 1848, and was sent to Fort Crawford (Prairie du Chien) thence to Fort Atkinson where it arrived in Oct. of that year. While at the Fort Mr. Young became acquainted with Mary Rogers, daughter of Francis Rogers, whose name is intimately connected with county pioneer history. The troops were moved out of the Fort in February, 1849; but Mr. Young secured a furlough and did not leave until in March. Meanwhile he had persuaded Miss Mary aforesaid to marry him, and they were united in marriage Feb. 11th, 1849.

The first recorded marriage in the county records is dated Oct., 1851; but this wedding is older than that by 21 months. At the end of his furlough Mr. Young joined his company, of which he was second sergeant, and was finally mustered out in August, 1850, at Fort Dodge. This fort was being built at that time.

Mr. Young at once returned to this county, secured land, and settled down to farming. This, of course, does not make Mr. Y. the earliest pioneer; but it classes him as one of the very early ones. It also raised the question whether Mrs. Young, the daughter of Francis Rogers, was not entitled to rank over the Campbell’s and the Krumms. Settlement of this question, has brought us the following very pleasant bit of reminiscence:—

My husband wishes me to write a few lines and give you a little history about my father, Mr. Francis Rogers, and when he made his claim in the southern part of Winneshiek county three miles from Ft. Atkinson, and two and one half miles from Twin Springs now called Festina. Why it was called Twin Springs was on the account of the two beautiful springs that were there.

In the fall of 1847 Mr. Rogers came to the place where we now reside and made his claim. On account of the Indians being here, no white man was allowed to settle on their land until they moved away. He then took up a claim between Elkader and Volga City, five miles from each place, His neighbors were all Indians, but they were very friendly with the “Smoke Man “as they called him then. They had their wigwams all very close around his house, and most every morning he had from two to twelve to eat breakfast with him, until they were removed. In 1848 (July 2d,) the Indians were removed from their reservation to a reservation in Minnesota. Then Mr. Rogers took up his line of march. On the 6th day of July, he "reached the promised land” as it was called by the Indians. He had no house to live in, so he moved into a log house that Mr. Sinclair and three (Indian) wives and lots of children had lived in. You can imagine what a looking place it was. The whole family went at house cleaning with boiling lye and scrubbing brushes. We got it so we could live in it for a few weeks until Mr. Rogers could get some breaking of land for another year’s crop, and make hay for winter. Then he bought a log Catholic Church that was east of the Fort and moved it home on his claim, and built a very comfortable house, for new beginners.

This Is written by lady of 65 years of age, and l could tell you could if l could talk with you.

Mrs. Mary J. Young.

This story is worth telling if for no other reason than it puts on record this charming letter. The wife remained at home while the husband was soldiering. Soon after his arrival home permanently he bought of his father-in-law the farm Mr. Rogers settled upon, and that is their home to this day. Hence it follows that this daughter and wife has been a continuous resident on the same farm since July 6th, 1848. Hamilton Campbell and wife arrived In Bloomfield Township June 7th. 1848; and the Krumm brothers settled In Washington township June 29th the same year. The Reed family came in August. This makes the Rogers family third in order of dates; but if the visit of Mr. R., and the choice of a site in 1847, is to be credited to him, then he was the pioneer.

Source: Decorah Republican Feb. 18, 1897 P 1 C 5

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this page was last updated on Wednesday, 31 March 2021