Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

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 ordiDary 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 interconrse 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 conficting 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 inuch 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 North west, 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 Dow 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 withont 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 risits 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 wbat 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 inore 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 inci. dents 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 settleinent 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 adıniration and arouse the sympathy of the reader though they have nothing to do with feats of arms.

THE NAME.

It has been irtimated 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 consent.

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 conseqnent 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 arıny 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, there. fore, 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 immedlately 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 throughont 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, Renben Mathews, Homer Math. ews, David T. Durham, Nathan Bass, Joseph Drouillard, John Williams, Leri Bainbridge, Isaac N. Crum, Simon Drouillard, John W. Alley, and others, constitnted 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 Conntry. The average boy npon 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

a

most appropriate, for in their heroism, patient endurance of hardships, and unswerving elevation to principle were the pioneers of the county vertiable Francis Marions in their own humble sphere. How much the career of the county may have been affected by the name we shall never know but the fact remains that Marion was the favorite character among the early settlers, and that the progress and development of the county has been largely due to the exercise of the same energy and self-denial which the distinguished general practiced while engaged in deeds which in a certain sense were grander, though by no means more honorable. It is not practicable at this place to give anything like a life of this illustrious chief. tian in whose honor the county was named. A few facts only, such as every school-boy should know, will be given.

Gen. Francis Marion was born in South Carolina in 1732, and died in 1795. He had a very meager ed acation, and his first military experience was as a volunteer in the Indian expedition against the Cherokees. tered the service of the colonists during the Revolutionary War, the first office he held being that of captain. For efficient service he was promoted from time to time until he arrived at the rank of brigadier-general. It was while holding this office that he performed the most efficient service for his country. In speaking of his career, the historian says:

"It is impossible to pursue in detail the progress of so eager a chieftain, in a career inarked by so great a variety of actions and resource.

Even popular tradition fails to follow him. His camp at Snow's Island, his potato feast to the British officer, his quiet humor when dealing with both friend and foe, his perpetual vigilance and sudden movements have all entered into the legends of the country. Though Snow's Island, a natural fortress of swamps was his favorite hiding-place yet he had other retreats in almost every swamp of Carolina. His food was chiefly potatoes and corn; his only drink was vinegar and water; for months he slept without a blanket and marched without a hat; and he trained his followers to his own habit of cheerful endurance. He disciplined in his style of warfare many young officers who proved in time worthy of their master."

After the close of the war Gen. Marion was elected to the State Senate and was also a member of the State convention called to form a constitation for his native State. Upon leaving the service of his native country he returned to the avocation of a farmer almost in abject poverty. Such were some of the acts which rendered Francis Marion one of the most noted men of his day, and such were some of the characteristics of the man whom the early settlers thought worthy of honoring when they named the county.

The great popularity of the name is fully attested by the fact that seventeen different counties in the United States have received it, besides many important cities.

In this list of seventeen counties, as given in Appleton's Enclycopedia, Marion county, Iowa, is the fourteenth in the order in which they are given, but it is second in respect to population and wealth, Marion county, Indiana, which contains Indianapolis, the capital city of the State, alone exceeding it in population and wealth.

So much for the name, concerning which all of our readers would not wish to know less.

CHAPTER II.

PHYSICAL FEATURES.

Situation--Extent--Surface--Rivers—Timber-Climate--Prairies—Soils- Geology-Econo

mic Geology-Coal --Building Stone--Clays --Springs--Springs and Well Water.

MARION county is situated south and east of the center of the State. Accurately speaking it is about fifty miles south and a very little east of the geographical center of the State.

The town of State Center, a station on the Chicago and Northwestern Railway, in Marshall county, is probably very near the geographical center of the State. The city of Des Moines, some thirty miles northwest from Knoxville, is probably more nearly in the center of wealth and population than any other city in the State.

Numbering by counties, it is in the third tier from the south boundary of the State, in the seventh tier from the north boundary, the fifth from the east and the sixth from the west. Knoxville is abont 52 miles from the Missouri State line, 108 miles west of the Mississippi River, 150 miles east of the Missouri River and about the same distance from the Min. nesota State line.

Its latitude is a little more that 41 degrees, being nearly the same as that of New York City; its longitude is about ninety-three degrees west of Greenwich, and about sixteen degrees west of the National Capital.

It is bounded on the north by Jasper county, on the east by Mahaska, on the south by Monroe and Lucas, and on the west by Warren and Polk. It is generally considered that Warren county alone bounds Marion on the west, but the fact is that about one mile of the western boundary tonches on Polk. This came about as follows: When Polk county was organized the people of Fort Des Moines, who were in the majority, were anxious to have the seat of justice located at that place. Fort Des Moines was consequently sonth of the center of the county, and as this was urged as an objection to its becoming the county seat the friends of Fort Des Moines sacceeded in having the north tier of townships taken from Warren and attached to Polk. In 1852 the people of Warren petitioned the Legislature to restore the ritory which properly belonged to them. This wa

This was resisted by Doctor Hall, then representing Polk county in the State Senate, and who lived on the disputed ground in the southeast part of the county, just north of the Des Moines River. A compromise was effected, whereby it was provided that all of that part of the disputed territory which lay north of the Des Moines River, should continue to be a part of Polk, and thus the matter stands yet.

Marion county is composed of congressional townships 74, 75, 76 and 77, of ranges 18, 19, 20 and 21.

The county is in the shape of a square, or as nearly so as it was possible to make it in the original surveys. Were these surveys strictly accurate, the county would be exactly twenty-four miles each way, and would embrace five hundred and seventy-six square miles, or three hundred and sixty-eight thousand six huudred and forty acres. As it is the area is somewbat larger.

« PředchozíPokračovat »