History of Palo Alto County, Iowa
By J.L. Martin as prepared for the Celebration at Emmetsburg
July 4, 1876


to a friend by saying that the frost had burst his ink bottle and to procure another would necessitate a journey of fifty miles.
     The winter of 1857 was a severe one, there being very deep snow and intense cold, when S. McClelland, R.F. Carter, A.B. Carter, D.Howl, W.D. Powers and Jas. Lynn started over the snows in Indian file with handsleds attached to their waists by ropes to haul provisions from Dakota. On their return with 100 pounds of pork, they got lost in a snow storm and were out all night some having taken the river and others to the prairie.
As late as the last days of February, 1867, John K. Martin (a brother of the writer) and Charles Hastings, traveled with two teams by way of  Springvale (now Humboldt) and Linn to Belmond, in Wright County, making a round trip of 180 miles to procure a load of flour and oats for each. They could only procure at Belmond a sack of shorts and some oats for their teams, but fortunately, on their return to Springvale there was some flour in the mill and they got it all-and shouldered it through creeks and sloughs and broken ice several times on the way home, to save it from getting wet on their sleighs. In crossing 20 miles of wild prairie in Wright county against a cutting blast, they froze their faces considerably in spite of their best efforts to save them.
     Though many of the first settlers found pleasure and profit in hunting and trapping, they early turned their attention to the cultivation of the


at least in so much as to raise corn and potatoes for their own use. Geologically considered, the soil is a drift formation, except the river bottoms, which are mainly alluvial deposits.
    The high and gently rolling prairie, constituting the greater portion of the County, is generally composed of due proportions of clay, sand and rich prairie loam, constituting a species of the most agreeable and

productive arable land, while the rich alluvial bottoms were such as to allure the hunter from his chosen occupation into stock raising, and tempt the most unwilling to follow his example. This was early discovered by speculators, and large tracts were purchased even before the first settlers had secured their titles.

     The earliest entry we can find of record was made on the E.half of the S.W. quarter of Sec. 31,94,34, May 4th, 1857, by Freeman Cornish; the earliest recorded deed was given in September, 1858, and the earliest recorded patent is dated April 1st, 1859. Not only is the soil productive but adapted to all the various


usually grown in this latitude, among which we may name, corn, oats, barley, rye, wheat, sorghum, broomcorn, potatoes, buckwheat, clover, timothy and millet. Among the fruits that can be raised successfully and in most cases abundantly are apples, in all their varieties, plums, grapes, gooseberries, strawberries, currants, etc., etc., many of these growing wild in profusion. To the production of all sorts of roots, and what are ordinarily termed vegetables, the soil seems specially adapted. While those engaged in agriculture, (which is the greater portion of our citizens,) share the vicissitudes common to all climates, we seldom or never fail to get a good crop of two out of the four staples, wheat, oats, corn and potatoes, and frequently have an abundant crop of all, as in 1875.

     But the summer of 1873 will long be remembered as an exception to this rule, when favorable (to us unfavorable) wind and weather swept across our borders an all-devouring host of grasshoppers from the sand deserts of the West, destroying the major portion of our crops, and leaving their progeny behind them to serve us in like manner the following summer.

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