Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

Secretaries, C. G. Brobst, Knoxville; C. H. Durham, Clay; Joel Campbell, Dallas; Abrial Niles, Franklin; I. P. Dixon, Indiana; J. H. Stubenrauch, Lake Prairie; Chas. Harlow, Liberty; Elias Williams, Pleasant Grove; Amos Teter, Polk; Wm. Hughs, Perry; Wm. Clark, Red Rock; I. N. Crum, Summit; Elisha Hardin, Swan; Albert Reynolds, Union; W. A. Whitlatch, Washington.

Treasurer, J. S. Cunningham.

The following is a report of the address delivered on the occasion by D. O. Collins, Esq.:

ADDRESS BEFORE THE OLD SETTLERS' ASSOCIATION OF MARION COUNTY, DELIVERED AT THE FAIR GROUNDS AT KNOXVILLE, AUGUST 11, 1880.

"Fellow citizens and old settlers of Marion county-The committee that requested me a few days ago to address you on this occasion could have found a much better speaker from among those who have resided here longer than I have. However, if other parties have been here longer than myself, I submit to you it is not my fault. I came to this county at as early a period as circumstances would permit, having been born in a little log cabin west of the opera house in the city of Knoxville. I can say I have been a resident of Marion county as long as any other man that is no older than I am. When I first came here the trail of the Indian was still visible o'er these prairies and the howling of the wolf could be heard in yonder wood. But you older persons recollect these things better than I do, for as I have already intimated, it was at a very early period of my exist ence when I first came here.

"We are assembled here to-day, not in the interest of any political party; nor are we assembled here in the interest of any particular religious sect. There are no denominations or political lines in this audience. It is simply the old ties of pioneer life that call us together. Years ago you used to meet each other on the streets and highways, and on public occasions you met in sunshine and storm, you did business together, you were neighbors and friends in the truest sense. Now, after many years have passed those that remain are called together once more to talk over by-gone days and to recall recollections of the past. Great changes have taken place; this country was once a wilderness, but through your pluck, privations, industry and persistence this wilderness has been made to blossom with rich harvests, and Marion has become the peer of any county in the State. Later inhabtants are owing much to the old settlers. They have all the advantages of your labors and hardships. The first inhabitants of every country are compelled to pass through many vicissitudes, do without all luxuries and many necessities. You, fellow-citizens, had the courage to face these difficulties in settling Marion county. But your efforts and courage have not been without good results. To-day the land is nearly all in cultivation, your county is prolific of churches and school-houses and you have railroads and all the conveniences of the highest civilization. It was not a trifling matter to live here in an early day-there are no hardships now, it is even a happy privilege to live here at present. But to you old settlers belongs the honor of having resided here when it took courage, when much of the country was aguish and unhealthy, when it took from three to six weeks to go to mill. To you belongs the honor of breaking the first prairies and raising the first crops. To you belongs the honor of building the first dwellings and plant

ing the first orchards. To you belongs the honor of erec ting the first mills and engaging in the first commercial enterprises. To you belongs the honor of building the first school-houses and erecting the first temples of worship. To you belongs the honor of laying out the first towns and commencing improvements that have ever since been going on, keeping pace with a population that already runs up to nearly thirty thousand souls.

6

[ocr errors]

"As we talk over by-gone days 'the past rises before us like a dream,' and each one lives his life over again-you go back to the home you left when you started West; when you started for Iowa. May be you have grown old now; the companion of your side, if she has not already departed this life, has grown old and both your heads are all silvered o'er with age, but anyhow you go back twenty-five, thirty or thirty-five years. Retracing your steps takes some of you to Ohio, others to Indiana, others to Virginia, others to Pennsylvania, New York and Kentucky and other States east of the Mississippi, while others are compelled to cross the trackless deep to the Old World. Now you are at the old home. It is a cold winter's night. The chores are all done and the family are sitting around the old fire-place; you stir up the logs and the fire blazes forth anew, lighting up every countenance, chasing away every shadow, and playing upon the wall like the reflection of golden waters. There is a conversation going on around the family circle about going West. Every heart is sad and every countenance grave for the thought of separation, of leaving the old folks, the old home and friends, is a painful theme. There are fightings within and fears without.' Of all the Western Territories, Iowa is the most favorably considered. At length the die is cast, the resolution is made. A courageous young man with a heart fixed upon a home of his own rises from his chair, saying, I am going West. I am going to Iowa. The wife at his side remains silent for a moment, then pressing her babe to her breast, you hear her saying mid sighs and sobs, ah, John! it is hard to leave the old home, and all these comforts and father and mother and these friends-to exchange them for a home in the wilderness,' yet Whithersoever thou goest I will go, thy people shall be my people and thy God my God. With the opening of spring all the preparations and arrangements for the trip are made. They are not going to take the cars for railroads are the exception. They are going in covered wagons. The oxen are at this wagon and the horses at this, and a few head of stock are following along behind. You can see the tar-buckets hanging down, and a close inspection shows that the old wide-tired linch-pin wagons are fashionable. Several families of the neighborhood have joined John and his wife and two children and at break of day, just as the sun is filling the tree-tops with glory and crowning the hills with gold, you see this little train of emigrants slowly moving along over the hills of Ohio. As they gradually disappear from sight of the old home you hear a sob and a sigh and see them beckoning a last farewell to the old folks and friends that are left behind. It is a long and arduous trip, but there is courage in their hearts for the undertaking, and pluck to face the pioneer life in the West. Now they have reached the Mississippi, they cross and come along up through Mt. Pleasant, through Ottumwa to Eddyville, and being at tracted by a timbered country, coal-fields and an unusually rich soil, they bear off to the northwest a little, and select homes and settle down in what is now called Marion county. A great many families came here in the manner I have illustrated, while a great many others find their way to the Mis

[ocr errors]

sissippi and come up to Keokuk by boat, thence up the Des Moines to Bellefontaine, Red Rock or Coalport, for at that time, as you all know, the Des Moines was navigable. I was not too young to have often heard the boats whistle along this river, and too have ridden upon her bosom in steamboats myself.

"As emigration pours in some locate in one part of the county and some in another. At last you are permanently settled down to the new life, you are attached to your rude cabin, your truck patch is coming up and the vines are climbing up over your cottage door and window. Claims are made for future improvements and you are thriving and happy even among difficulties; you manage to live and get along somehow. The first corn is ground by breaking it in mortars. The first stove is a fire-place or a set of forked sticks with a cross piece. The first wheat bread is 'corn dodgers. The first coffee is corn coffee. The first rice is hog hominy. The first beef is generally pork. The first fruits that laden your tables consist of crabapples and wild gooseberries. The first buggy rides you take are in twohorse wagons or behind ox carts over rough roads. The first merchandise is hauled in two-horse wagons from Burlington or Keokuk. The first music you enjoy aside from the music of your own voices is the whistling wind or the howling wolf along your streams. Among your first visitors were the Indians, bedecked with feathers and gleaming with war paint, manufactured from the keel of Red Rock. If tradition is correct, when these red-skinned fellows used to appear at our house your humble servant used to disappear under the bed.

"In those days you did not have willow cradles or hammocks for your children, such as children have to-day. From my own recollection there were no such institutions. My parents were fortunate enough however to make me very comfortable in an old trunk lid.

"The young folks had their hardships in these early days as well as the old folks. I recollect one season there was not a green apple to be had in the country and we had to resort to dried apples. I went into my father's store on one occasion, filled myself with dried apples then filled my pockets and ate them all down, then I went to the town pump and commenced drinking water, I continued this for half an hour; abont this time the apples began to swell and there was a strange sensation came over my heart, and oh, Lord! nobody knows the trouble and hardships I passed through! You have heard of persons growing gray in a single night; well, I did not grow gray in a single night but I grew very large. This little expedition resulted in bringing about frequent visits from our family physician and giving me an eternal prejudice against dried apples.

"Every improvement and addition to the county was hailed with joy. Many of you recollect when the first circular saw-mill was put up in the vicinity of Knoxville. The inhabitants came very near going wild, it even created more exeitement than balloon ascensions or circuses of a later date. "Since those days many improvements and great additions have been made to the county. Times have changed wonderfully. The red man has gone farther west. The howl of the wolf can be heard no more. Instead of log cabins for dwellings, church and school-houses, you have respectable frame and brick edifices. Instead of ox-carts for traveling you have good vehicles, carriages and railroads. Instead of crab-apples and gooseberries, you have orchards yielding abundance of fruit of every variety, while the surplus of your bountiful crops, your coal, hogs, cattle, sheep and pro

duce, after your own wants are generally suppled go into the markets of the world and return in the shape of the choicest luxuries the earth affords. Yes: times have changed! Scanty settlements have increased till the popalation of your county outnumbers any of its neighbors.

"The manner in which Marion county has been settled illustrates the manner in which the whole State has been peopled. A few years ago I stood on the banks of the Mississippi River, not a great ways from Burlington, at a place were Black Hawk used to rally his warriors for battle. At this place there is a natural semi-circle formed on the river shore giving it the appearance of a large amphitheatre. I imagined I could see the Indians assembled here arrayed in all the paraphernalia of savage life. I imagined I could see the old chief step forth and sway the tribe with his eloquence. I could hear the war-whoop ringing up and down the Father of Waters. I could see the wigwams here and there over the country, and the smoke of smouldering camp-fires curling up to the sky. I could see tiny birch canoes tied up along the river shores or silently gliding over the waters. I looked out over Iowa in my imagination, and everything was a wild, desolate waste. There was not a white man to be seen, nor a dwelling-house, nor an artificial grove, nor a church, nor a school-house, nor a cultivated section of land to relieve the dull monotony of the scene. It was no pleasure to me to look upon this weird sight even in imagination, and to dispel the gloom of so terrible a solitude, I looked out upon the reality of the present. I could see spires and domes glistening in the sun. Instead of wigwams I could see comfortable dwellings, school-houses and churches. Instead of the smoke of smouldering camp-fires I could see the smoke belching forth from hundreds of chimneys, furnaces and engines. Instead of birch canoes I could see mighty steamers plowing up and down the Father of Waters. Instead of the shrill Indian war-whoop I could hear the whistling of numerous manufacturing establishments all over the State, and of the iron horse passing and repassing carrying on a mighty cominerce. As I looked out over Iowa, instead of a wild desolate waste frequented only by buffaloes, Indians and wild beasts, I could see a civilized land, a great State, a commonwealth second to none in the world.

"But this State has not only been redeemed from a wilderness and rescued from a savage race, the very soil upon which you now stand once belonged to France. Happily for you and for mankind it fell into better hands. In 1803 Napoleon Bonaparte and Thomas Jefferson vied with each. other in statesmanship; the result annexed to the United States that famous 'Louisiana Purchase,' of which this great State of Iowa "the garden of the world' is a part. Thus we see that through the struggles and the wisdom of our fathers we have inherited not only republican institutions, but a land that has no equal beneath the starry canopy of heaven. Behold the country of which your State is a part! Behold the land that has been reserved through the ages for free government and a matchless civilization to have a home-triumph and live on, blossoming through, all time! Until this continent was discovered and peopled despotism had always been in the ascendency. No such strides of civilization were ever made in the Old World, in a few years, as you have made here. In the days before this new world was peopled every effort in the line of advancement was always crushed in the bud. Every free government that existed previous to ours was either hopelessly crippled or completely wiped out.

"The struggle for liberty and a higher civilization commenced away back

in remote antiquity in the shining Orient, but despotism and superstition soon attained supremacy. At a later time Greece contends for these same principles and makes a stride in the line of advancement and the upbuilding of free institutions such as the world never before knew, but the broken column and shattered temples of Greece attest the over-reaching power of despotism. Still later there is a similar contest at Rome; for a time the Republic flourishes, but after a while a single will plans and executes universal empire, Rome is brought under the yoke and Cæsar rules the world. Still later there is a contest made for these same principles in the Italian cities. Genoa, Florence, Milan and Pisa thrive, while laws and systems of municipal government are given to the world, ever to be admired and studied, but surrounded by monarchs and conspiring princes. At length these noble cities are brought to ruin. Liberty and her twin sister, Progress, being driven from the Italian cities, take refuge in the mountains of Switzerland; here they live on despite every storm that blows, but they cannot revolutionize the world and carry civilization to its goal while confined to the fastnesses of the mountains. The United Netherlands next make a long and desperate effort for civil, commercial and religious freedom. Under the leadership of one of the greatest men in history, William the Silent, there is hope in the world for the realization of a higher civilization, but an assassin takes the life of William the Silent, and after prospering under a republic for a few years this gallant little nation submits to the fate that rules Europe. Liberty and progress next flee from the oppression of England to the solitudes of the New World. Here an unparalleled career of advancement is commenced. Before the colonies arrive at importance the Old World is indifferent. But when the wilderness begins to blossom with rich harvests then an attempt is made to whip the people of the New World back into the traces of arbitrary government. mighty contest ensues. It is a renewal of the same old struggle that has been going on since the dawn of society-between despotism and retrogression on the one hand, and liberty and progression on the other, and for the first time in the history of the world, liberty and progression gain a footing from which they can never be dislodged and free government is placed in a condition to defy the combined force of arbitrary power, despotism and superstition while the world stands. The struggle and wisdom of the early patriots not only secured to posterity republican institutions and the thirteen colonies, but as I said before, their wisdom at length secured us the very soil upon which you now stand and upon which you have been living these thirty years and more. All honor then to our forefathers for this land and government. All honor to the first inhabitants of this great land and this State, and especially to the old settlers of Marion county, for the civilization that has been achieved. The government bequeathed to posterity by the early patriots shall never fall. The improvements and progress commenced by you old settlers shall never cease. The workmen may fall but the work shall go on.' The old settlers of Marion county may all pass away, but the spirit of progress infused by your pluck and your energy shall continue with your free institutions as long as the rivers run into the sea; as long as the clouds circle around the convexed top of the mountains; as long as the heavens hold up the stars, and the cycle of time continues to roll."

A

« PředchozíPokračovat »