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enjoyed by no other State in the Union. These conditions, so favorable to the past and future development of the country, are beautifully illustrated by an ingenious little poem entitled "Two Ancient Misses," written by a gentleman who has won a wide-spread reputation at the bar, and whose name, were we at liberty to give it, would be familiar to most of the people of Marion county. We here quote it, as it will illustrate our point and is of sufficient merit to be preserved.
TWO ANCIENT MISSES.
I know to ancient misses
Who ever onward go,
From a cold and rigid northern clime
In graceful curves they wind about
They never cease their onward step,
The one is a romping, dark brunette,
The other is placid, mild and fair,
I love the wild and dark brunette
Because she's gentle, true and fair.
The land of my birth, on the east and the west,
Embraced by these is doubly blest
'Tis hard to tell which I love best.
It is an account of the past history of the most favored and prosperous region thus embraced which we desire in the following pages to chronicle. In entering upon the work before us we have not underestimated the difficulty and importance of the task. The chief difficulty lies in the fact that the events to be treated, while having to do with the past are so inti. mately interwoven with the present that they are properly a part of it. The writer of history as a general thing deals wholly with the affairs of past generations and his aim is to pause when he arrives at that realm bounded by the memory of men now living; the whole field of our investigation lies this side of that boundary line, as there are many who will doubtless peruse this work who from the first have witnessed, and taken part in the events we shall attempt to relate.
The year 1843 is usually given as the date of the first settlement of the county, although part of it was not open for settlement until two years later.
Assuming that date to be the beginning of the history proper, there have elapsed but thirty-seven years; and many who came at that time or shortly afterward, still live in our midst. And such, while they have grown prematurely old in body by reason of the hardships and privations incident upon a life of more than ordinary activity and trial, have not grown old in spirit. Each one of such knows the history of the county and, be it said with due reverence for their hoary heads and bended forms, each one knows that history better than any one else. Such readers are very uncharitable critics, and a work of this kind absolutely accurate in all its details and particulars, were it within the scope of human possibility to make such a work, would undoubtedly be pronounced, by many well meaning and honest persons, faultly and untrustworthy. This results from the fact that thirty years, though not a long period in the history of the world, is a long time in the life of an individual. Events occurring at that length of time in the past we think we know perfectly well when the fact is we know them very imperfectly. This is proved and illustrated by the reluctancy and hestation manifested invariably by old settlers when called upon to give the details of some early transaction; the old settler usually hesitates before giving a date and after having finally settled down upon the year and the month when a certain event occurred, will probably hunt you up in less than a day and request the privilege of correcting the date. In the meantime you have found another old settler who was an eye-witness of the act in question and the date he will give you does not correspond with the first date nor the corrected date as given by the first old settler.
We have noticed the same uncertainty with regard to other details of a particular transaction; such, for instance, as an early election, whether Mr. Jones was the successful or the defeated candidate, and with regard to an altercation whether Smith or Brown was the aggressor. There is at this time living in an adjoining county a noble old gray-headed man whose pioneer feet trod close in the tracks of the receding aboriginies; he has held many offices of honor and trust and although life has lost none of its charms he would rather die than utter an untruthful word or commit a dishonorable deed. It appeared from the official record that an early day he had held the office of county surveyor and the fact having been made public by publication in a work of this character, he sought out the writer and informed him that the statement was incorrect; that not he but a certain Mr. W. has been elected to the position named at the time mentioned. He clung tenaciously to his position and refused to recede from it even when the poll-book was produced confirming the statement of the writer. To this day the old gentleman firmly believes that Mr. W., and not himself was connty surveyor in 1849, although in addition to the evidence of the pollbook is evidence of the county plat-book, where are certified over his signature the surveys of at least three different towns. There are some marked exceptions, but as a rule the memory of the old settler is not trustworthy; his ideas of the general outlines are usually comparatively correct but no one who has the grace to put the proper estimate upon his mental faculties when impaired by age and weakened by the many infirmities of years will trust it in the arbitrament of questions of particulars and details. The stranger who comes into the county with none of the information
which those possess who have resided here for years works at a great disadvantage in many respects. He does not at first know whom to interview or where to find the custodians of important records. However, he possesses one great advantage which more than makes up for this; he enters upon his work with an unbiased mind; he has no friends to reward and no enemies to punish; his mind is not preoccupied and prejudged by reports which may have incidentally come into his possession while transacting the ordinary affairs of business; and when in addition to this he is a person whose business it is to collect statements and weigh facts of history, he is much better qualified for the task, and to discriminate between statements seemingly of equal weight, than those who either immediately or remotely are interested parties and whose regular employment lies in other fields of industry. This is true even though the former be a total stranger and the latter have become familiar with men and things by many years of intercourse and acquaintanceship. He is the best judge and best juror who is totally unacquainted with both plaintiff and defendant, and he is best qualfied to arbitrate between conflcting facts of history who comes to the task without that bias which is the price one must pay for acquaintanceship and familiarity. The best history of France was written by an Englishman, and the most authentic account of American institutions was written by a Frenchman; and it remained for an American to write the only authentic history of the Dutch Republic.
The American people are much given to reading, but the character of the matter read is such that, with regard to a large proportion of them, it may truthfully be said that "truth is stranger than fiction." Especially is this the case in respect to those facts of local history belonging to their own immediate county and neighborhood. This is perhaps not so much the fault of the people as a neglect on the part of the book publishers. Books, as a rule, are made to sell, and in order that a book may have a large sale, its matter must be of such a general character as to be applicable to general rather than special conditions-to the Nation and State, rather than to the county and township. Thus it is that no histories heretofore published pertain to matters relating to county and neighborhood affairs, for such books, in order to have a sale over a large section of country must, necessarily, be very voluminous and contain much matter of no interest to the reader. After having given a synopsis of the history of the State and the Northwest, which is as brief as could well be, and contains nothing except what is absolutely necessary for a proper understanding of the circumstances and conditions bearing upon the settlement of the county, we are now prepared to enter upon the history of the county proper.
The physical features of the county will first claim our attention, then a number of pages devoted to the subject of Indians and Indian affairs. The history of Marion county cannot be written without frequent allusions to that unfortunate race of people who originally owned the soil, and who, from the first settlement of the county even to the present time, make occasional visits to the hunting-grounds and burial places of their forefathers. A chapter on the Indian affairs of the county will be given, not only because it comes within the legitimate scope of the work, but also because nothing in the whole realm of literature is more fascinating to the common average reader than narratives of this kind; and although this chapter will doubtless contain many things old as well as new, there are few of our patrons who would desire to have it omitted. We shall then speak of the
first settlers, treating of them as accurately, definitely and fully as warranted by the facts at our disposal, giving the date when each one came to the county, from what State or country, and where now located, if living. In connection with the few first settlers we shall aim to speak of many leading citizens who have come more recently, and on the concluding pages of the book will be found a biographical directory, the value of which will increase with years. Pioneer times will then be described and incidents related showing the trials and triumphs of the pioneer settler. Then county organization, political affairs, newspapers, railroads, schools, etc. Finally, a soldier's record, and a history of cities, towns and townships in detail.
The compiler of a history of a county has a task which may seem to be comparatively easy, and the facts which come within the legitimate scope of the work may appear commonplace when compared with national events; the narration of the peaceful events attending the conquests of industry as "Westward the course of empire takes its way" inay seem tame when contrasted with accounts of battles and sieges. Nevertheless, the faithful gathering and the truthful narration of facts bearing upon the early settlement of this county and the dangers, hardships and privations encountered by the early pioneers engaged in advancing the standard of civilization is a work of no small magnitude and the facts thus narrated are such as may challenge the admiration and arouse the sympathy of the reader though they have nothing to do with feats of arms.
It has been intimated by one that there is nothing in a name, but a name sometimes means a great deal. In this case it indicates the character of the people who settled the county, and have given to it its distinctive characteristics.
Names are sometimes given to towns and countries by accident; sometimes they originate in the childish caprice of some one individual, whose dictate, by reason of some real or imaginary superiority, is law. However, in this instance, the county and its chief city did not receive a name by accident; neither did it originate in the childish caprice of one man, but the christening took place after mature deliberation and by general con
In naming the first counties of Iowa, three several plans were adopted: Dubuque was named in honor of Julien Dubuque, the first white settler; Scott was named in honor of the most distinguished military chieftain of the day; and Des Moines received its name from the leading river of the State. As new counties were formed the names of distinguished Indian chiefs were applied to them; thus we have Keokuk, Mahaska, Wapello, Poweshiek, Appanoose, etc. The Mexican War closed about the time many counties of central Iowa were organized. The Democratic party in the nation which favored the war was also largely in the majority in the State, and the war spirit, which had taken possession of nearly every one, and which entered into all kinds of conversation and official deliberations, left its impress particularly on the General Assembly of the Territory and young State of Iowa. In the organization of at least fifteen counties the names of battle-fields and distinguished generals of the Mexican War were perpetuated.
The question of the acquisition of Texas, and the consequent declaration of war with Mexico, was the chief issue in the presidential campaign of 1844. The party in favor of this measure nominated as their candidate James K. Polk, who was triumphantly elected. The party cry during that campaign was "Polk and Dallas," and as commander-in-chief of the army of the United States Polk was not only the standard-bearer of the Democratic party, but the central figure of the Mexican.campaign. It was, therefore, to be expected and altogether consistent with the general tendency of affairs for the Legislature of the Territory in session right in the midst of the Mexican campaign to select as a name for the county which was to be the future capital of the State and the center of population, wealth and influence, the name of the standard-bearer in the preliminary campaign and the central figure in the subsequent contest. It was also very proper that the name Dallas, which had been associated with that of Polk during the campaign in question, should be given to the county immed lately west. Whether or not the policy of naming counties after illustrious politicians and famous generals and battle-fields be a good one or not, it has, nevertheless, been followed to a greater or less extent in the various States throughout the Union, and in none more than Iowa. Such being the tendency, there was somewhat of a contest in the selection of a name for this county. Some were in favor of giving it a name which would aid in preserving the memory of the race of people who were declining toward the western horizon, and if we mistake not, the name Kish-ke-kosh, that of a most remarkable savage of whom we shall hereafter speak more fully, was for a time applied to that portion of country now known as Marion county. Others were in favor of honoring the incoming race rather than the outgoing, and many names were suggested, some of foreigners, and others of native Americans. It is said that the name was chosen by a self constituted convention of settlers who met at the house of Nathan Bass in the spring of 1845. L. W. Babbitt, George Gillaspy, Reuben Mathews, Homer Mathews, David T. Durham, Nathan Bass, Joseph Drouillard, John Williams, Levi Bainbridge, Isaac N. Crum, Simon Drouillard, John W. Alley, and others, constituted the convention. These settlers, of course, could not name the county; all they could do was to suggest a name for the Legislature to adopt. This meeting met for other purposes also, but the choosing of a name for the new county seems to have been the leading object of the meeting. Several names were suggested, such as Nebraska, Pulaski, Center, etc. It is said that finally Mr. Bainbridge proposed the name of Marion, and the proposition met with so much favor that it was unanimously adopted.
The name of Francis Marion is scarcely less familiar to the American people than that of Washington. The character of that illustrious Revolutionary patriot is even more fascinating to the masses than that of the Father of his Country. The average boy upon getting a book entitled the life of Francis Marion, finds in the hero of that work his ne plus ultra. Not only to the boy but to the full-grown man, and especially to the adventursome, self-denying pioneer, has Marion always been a favorite character: he was a favorite of such because his trials and hardships were akin to theirs; and as a representative of that type of American citizens who first made the conquest of this favored country was the choice of the name