(Pictures included with chapter are: Entrance to Oakdale Cemetery - General View of Davenport From The Rock Island Shore - Island Abutment, First Railroad Bridge - Willard Barrows - Buffalo Public School - Post Office Buffalo - Along the Driveway in Fejervary Park - Davenport From the Mississippi River - Early Home of J. M. D. Burrows - Residence of Dr. Barrows, 6th and Rock Island Streets - Old Fort Armstrong When First Built - North Side of Second Street, Between Brady and Perry Streets, Picture taken in 1858 - Davenport About 1862 - Home of Col. George Davenport - J. M. D. Burrows - Prospect Terrace - German Savings Bank - First National Bank - The Well, Central Park - Le Claire House - Pennsylvania House - Burtis House - Kemper Hall, Davenport - Father Pelamourgues - The Webb House - Old Methodist Church, 5th and Brady Streets - Fourteenth Street E. M. Church, On Site of St. John's M. E. Church - Old Trintiy Church, which stood at the corner of 5th and Rock Island Streets - Street View of Princeton - Pleasant Valley From Pope's Bluff, Looking East - Street Scene, Le Claire - Presbyterian Church, Le Claire - Main Street, Le Claire - Le Claire Depot - Long Grove - Christian Church, Long Grove - Blue Grass Savings Bank - Campbell's Hotel, Blue Grass - Keppy's Store, Donahue - Henry Klindt's Store, Maysville)
THE BARROWS HISTORY.
A HISTORY WRITTEN BY A PIONEER AT THE REQUEST OF OTHER PIONEERS - RECEIVED ON ITS APEARANCE WITH GREAT COMMENDATION - HIS OWN ESTIMATE OF THE GRAVITY OF HIS COMMISSION - SOME INCIDENTS WHICH HAVE BEEN NOTED SINCE THE BARROWS HISTORY WAS WRITTEN - BIOGRAPHY OF THE HISTORIAN - THE HISTORY ITSELF WITHOUT OMISSION, ERASURE OR COMMENT - A MONUMENTAL WORK.
Of all the counties of Iowa, Scott county is peculiarly fortunate in that its early history was written down while yet the incidents were fresh in the memories of those who had made that history by one who brought to that task every qualification necessary to the work, - Willard Barrows. This gifted gentleman came to this region as a government surveyor, camped among the Indians and learned their language and traditions, entered into comradeship with the hardy pioneers in this outpost of civilization, here made his home and became one of Davenport's most beloved and honored citizens. After the town had existed long enough to have "old settlers" an organization was formed among them and Willard Barrows, the scholarly pioneer, student, linguist and finished gentleman was requested to prepare a history of the county. The work was to his taste and he entered thereon with enthusiasm. The authentic, delightful and circumstantial record of pioneer days which is reproduced entire in this work was the result.
Barrows' History of Scott County appeared serially in the Davenport Gazette, beginning in the issue of June 30, 1859 and ending March 1, 1860. The history was reprinted in the Annals of Iowa, the official organ of the Iowa State Historical society, the first installment appearing in the issue of January, 1863. Other portions appear in subsequent issues of 1863 and 1864. The author brought to date in this second publishing almost all paragraphs in which such editing was necessary.
VERIFICATION AND CORRECTION.
In the interim between these two printings of the history suggestions as to corrections of fact were invited by the author and all criticisms were investigated and correction made where necessary. Owing to these circumstances this record of early days became well nigh perfect in narration, and was hailed with delight by all those interested in Scott county and in Iowa history. The Gazette commented as follows in the issue of March 1, 1860. "As a local history these sketches cannot be too highly estimated. A great many interesting and even important facts which were fast psssing into oblivion have been placed on imperishable record. The first tracings of civilization here have been mapped. The early trials and struggles of the pioneers - the gradual gathering of strong hearts and vigorous forms from far distant places - the redeeming of prairie and wilderness - the opening of farms and the founding of villages - and the process of development from the home of the Indian to the home of a population of 26,000 people surrounded by all the elements of plenty, wealth,civilization and christianity are well depicted in this history of Scott county. Our community owes a debt of gratitude to the author for his earnest and assiduous labors, opposed as they were at times by most perplexing obstacles in gathering the material for this book and presenting them to the public in so pleasant a form. He does not claim perfection for the result, but we claim for him that he has done his duty well and faithfully and that he is probably the only competent man in the county who could or would have devoted so much time and labor, and without pecuniary reward to an enterprise in which he has no more personal or selfish interest than many other citizens. His sketches have been read with great interest by old and new settlers, and at home and abroad."
A writer at Grinnell voiced an appreciation of Mr. Barrows as the historian of Scott county through his long residence, personal participation in many of the scenes and incidents and intimate acquaintance with all old settlers, the sources from which his information was taken. This writer also notes Mr. Barrows' habits of close observation, peculiar taste for conducting researches, extending to the far past, and his ability to tell the results of his observation and investigation.
A Muscatine paper of later date speaks of Mr. Barrows as: "One of Scott county's citizens, an old settler of whom the state is justly proud, who furnished the first and best county history." The Iowa Religious New Letter, Dubuque, 1863, the only religious journal in the state at the time, adds its word, "Fortunate would it be for the state if every county could find so faithful and painstaking a historian."
HIS OWN ESTIMATE.
Light is thrown on Willard Barrows' estimate of the importance of his mission as historian and his devotion to this work which he considered a duty laid upon him by his fellow citizens by his response at the third annual festival of the Pioneer Settlers' association, February 22, 1860, to a toast, "The historian of Scott county, - his indefatigable research in the gathering of facts, statistics and incidents, and his untiring industry in combining them in the indelible record of types have created a living memory of the pioneer history of Scott county with which the name of the historian must ever be connected." In responding Mr. Barrows said, in part: "The crude and imperfect material which has been compiled may be of service to the future historian when the great valley of the Mississippi shall have put on her strength and beauty, when her vast plains shall be dotted over with the habitations of man, and the commerce of a great people be seen floating upon the bosom of our noble river. It will be then, sir, that the living memories of the pioneers of Scott county will stand forth amid the splendor of coming ages and receive their just need of praise.
"To this glorious result we have all here tonight contributed. Alike have we borne the heat and burden of a pioneer life. It was you, pioneer fathers and mothers of Scott county, - it was you that first planted the seeds of this history. It is you that make up this history. It was you that covered up the last footprints of the Indian upon the soil of Scott county, and reared the altars of civilization upon the ruins of barbsrism. As I look around me here, tonight, and behold the familiar faces of old and tried friends, how well do I remember the trials and conflicts of our early history.
"The material, sir, for the future historian of Iowa will be rich and abundant, and although we cannot point to a Mt. Nebo, a Lebanon or a Zion, or to rivers made sacred by the presence of patriarchs and prophets, yet we have our own lovely plains with their Eden-like beauty, and the deep rolling Mississippi for our Ganges, our Euphrates and our Nile. We have no Plymouth Rock made memorable by the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, no battlefields upon which the proud monument rears its lofty head. But we can stand upon our own native bluffs and contemplate with wonder and admiration the never tiring waves of that mighty river whose tributaries drain a country greater in extent than the empire of Alexander, and which bears upon its bosom a commerce greater than that of all the rivers tributary to Imperial Rome.
THE GLORY OF THE WEST.
"Think you, sir, that the 'rock-bound coast' of New England should become more memorable by the footprints of the Pilgrims than the landing of Marquette and Joliet, 186 years ago upon the soil of Scott county? Were the scenes enacted in Plymouth harbor more thrilling or important in their results than the discover of the Mississippi valley? Should the rock that was immortalized by having been pressed by the Pilgrims' feet have cast around it a greater halo of glory than the presence of these pioneers upon the very ground upon which we this night celebrate? For we believe it was here that the village of Pewaria stood when Marquette and Joliet first landed among the tribes of the Illini.
"Yes, Mr. President, Scott county has a history, avaried and a thrilling one, and for me to feel that I have aided even by my feeble efforts in handing its records down to posterity is requital enough for all the labor bestowed by me."
Across the gulf of fifty years the thoughts of the present dwellers in Scott county may well go back in grateful appreciation to this fine old writer of an early day who made certain the record of events of pioneer times and laid the foundations for the love of Scott county and pride in Scott county, imperishable in all who know its splendid history.
It is remarkable that in only one particular has the verity of the Barrows history been seriously called in question. In his admirable history of Davis county Captain Hosea B. Horn speaks of Mr. Barrows locating the grave of Black Hawk in Wapllo county as an error, claiming that it was over the line in Davis county and citing proof from those living near - proof that seems indisputable. This historian gives the name of the doctor who took Black Hawk's bones from his grave as Turner and his residence as Lixington, Van Buren county.
Since the printing of the Barrows history many items of early days have come to the surface. It is probable that he knew of many of these but felt the limitations put upon him by his publishers. He resisted the temptation to go too far afield and widen the scope of his work into a state history. He makes mention of the neighboring county of Muscatine because the early settlers of Muscatine county had much to do with those of Scott county. Montpelier, at the mouth of Pine creek, was the first postoffice in that county and letters were directed to Iowa postoffice, Black Hawk purchase, Wisconsin territory. Benjamin Nye landed at the "Mouth of Pine" in 1834, had a store and owned the town with Major Gordon. Muscatine had a variety of early names, Kasey, Newburg, Bloomington and then Musquitine, the spelling given by Stephen Whicher who wrote the petition upon which Judge Grant made the change of name. Fairport was originally called Salem, and was laid out in 1836 by Alfred Lyon & Co.
The William Gordon who is mentioned as one of the proprietors of Iowa, the town also known as Mouth of pine, was one of the incorporators of Davenport. He left St. Louis in 1843 on an expedition up the Mississippi river and nothing definite was afterwards learned of him. There were rumors that he had been seen in California. Gordon was a Tenneseean, son of Capt. Gordon who commanded a company of scouts under General Jackson in the Creek war. He was liberally educated and had represented the American Fur Company in the Rocky mountains. He was about fifty years of age when he disappeared. Gordon was an elegant and engaging conversationalist, spicy, original and humorous. He lived in a house near the present site of the Lorenzen building. The dash of eccentricity in his makeup was shown in his never sleeping in a bed, but lay even when ill on buffalo robes spread on the floor with his feet to the fire. His love for women in general brought him into difficulties. Once he was knocked down with a club and stabbed by an irate husband and did not recover for months.
A FUTURE STATE CAPITAL.
The town of Iowa caught the fancy of Lieutenant Albert M. Lea, who investigated the Black Hawk purchase for the government and published a map with notes in 1836 the date that Davenport was incorporated. He must have made investments there for early issues of Andrew Logan's Iowa Sun show display advertising of Albert Lea, offering lots in this coming metropolis of the West. In his map Lieutenant Lea extols in extravagant phrase the prospects of this small settlement: "This will be the point of deposit for the trade of the country included between the Iowa, Wabesapineca and Mississippi, and for the disembarkation of emigrants for that reason. Should the seat of the future government of Iowa be located on the Mississippi, it will probably be fixed at Iowa, owing to the central position and commercial advantage of the place, and if it be located in the interior, it must be near the Iowa river, as the weight of population will be there, and then the town of Iowa will be the nearest port on the Mississippi to the capital of the state." The prophetic lieutenant liked Buffalo and Clark's ferry, and allowed that with a better bank for landing a ferry boat Buffalo would run a great race with Iowa for the location of the metropolis.
Lieutenant Lea cast a jaundiced horoscope for Davenport, just struggling for a place on the map. He calls it a town "just laid out on a reserve belonging to Antoine LeClaire. It is nearly opposite to the lower end of Rock Island, about 350 miles from St. Louis by river, and situated on high ground with a beautiful range of sloping hills running in the rear of it. The town of Stephenson, the mouth of Rock river, the picturesque works on Rock Island and LeClaire's house and plantation are all within full view of this point. Its situation is certainly delightful, as far as beauty and health are concerned; but there is doubt as to convenience in landing. Its position near the foot of the rapids where navigation is much obstructed will cause it to be resorted to as a place of shipment both for persons and freight. Water power, building stone and bituminous coal are convenient and abundance of excellent timber is to be found on the hills and creeks of the vicinity.
"The town has been laid out on a liberal scale with a view to its becoming a large city. Three public squares have been reserved from sale, one of which it is supposed by the proprietors will be occupied by the publice buildings of the future state of Iowa; for they confidently predict that the seat of government of this forthcoming commonwealth will be no other than the city of Davenport itself. Nous verrons."
If Albert Lea kept his eye on Davenport for a few years he saw this city the capital of the territory of Iowa, at least when Governor Conway came to town. But that is another story to be taken up in a later chapter.
This same traveler, Lieutenant Lea, made sage opinion that all Parkhurst needed was people and houses to be quite a town. There were neither there when he saw the location of the handsome settlement at the upper end of the rapids now called LeClaire.
SUEL FOSTER'S PEDESTRIAN TRIP.
Suel Foster, for many years an honored resident of Muscatine wrote this story of early days when every acre of Iowa soil fronting on the Mississippi was considered by somebody an appropriate and probable site for the state capitol. "In April, 1836, I was living at Rock Island, Illinois. In May the town of Davenport was laid out on government land, joining on the west of LeClaire's reserve. In June of that year I took a short journey in the Black Hawk purchase, as it was then called. I do not think the name of Iowa had been given to it then, for it was the new western wild district of Michigan territory. I passed thiry miles down the west bank of the Mississippi river, a beautiful, flat limestone shore most of the way, and I have never found any part of the West so prolific of town sites. I had to pick my way along among town lot stakes much of the way.
"The first town was Davenport; the second, four miles, Rockingham; the third, one mile, Monte Video; the fourth, five miles, New Buffalo; the fifth, six miles, Iowa. This town was laid out by Captain Robert E. Lee and William Gordon, (the same Lee afterwards the great Rebel general). The sixth, one mile was Montpelier; the seventh, four miles, Salem; the eighth, one mile, Wyoming; the ninth, four miles, Geneva; the tenth, three miles, Bloomington; the eleventh, half a mile, Newburgh. At that time Stephen T. Mason was governor of our Michigan territory. We had no counties.
"I recollect the names of several of the mayors of these cities - Antoine Le Claire, of Davenport; John H. Sullivan, of Rockingham; Capt. Benjamin Clark of New Buffalo; Capt. Robert E. Lee, of Iowa. He was absent at that time, surveying the route of the great river, United States engineer, which river has flowed ever since in the old channel which Lee marked out. The mayor of Montpelier was Benjamin Nye; Salem, James and William Chambers; Wyoming, Samuel Collier; Geneva, Dr. Eli Reynolds; Bloomington, now Muscatine, John Vanater; Newburgh, G. W. Kasey. All the intermediate cities between Davenport and Muscatine are now (1885) in the suburbs of these two cities."
Mr. Foster purchased a claim in Muscatine and the deed showed the style of description necessary in transferring realty before government surveys were made. John Vanater's cabin was made the point of departure and measure in describing the 160-acre claim purchased.
THE NAMING OF DAVENPORT.
To Mr. Barrows' statement that the city of Davenport was named for Col. George Davenport is added the testimony of Rev. Elnathan Gavit, who preached the first sermon in this city back in 1837, it having come to Mr. Gavit's notice that in the New York campaign of 1885, the candidate for governor, Ira L. Davenport was spoken of in the eastern press as the son of Ira Davenport who "had invested in Iowa lands when that state was in its infancy, and the town of Davenport owed its name to this fact," a letter was written covering the subject. Mr. Gavit says: "As a minister of the Methodist church and a member of the Ohio conference and as a missionary to the Northwestern territory I landed with my family and in company with Captain Stanton Sholes and his family upon Rock island in the spring of 1835, and by the kindness of Colonel George Davenport we secured a log house in which we lived until we were enabled to provide a home of our own. Mr. Sholes, my brother-in-law, having purchased an interest in the town of Davenport, in company with myself, we erected the first frame house in that place, which is still standing (1885) not far from the margin of the river. In this house I preached the first sermon, formed the first class, and established the first Sabbath school, and married the first couple in what is now the beautiful and flourishing city of Davenport, and have some knowledge of the early commencement of this place, and for whom it was named. I have no misgivings in stating that the town of Davenport in the state of Iowa was named for Colonel George Davenport, of Rock Island, and for no other person or family by the name of Davenport, east or west, north or south, living or dead, politically, religiously or otherwise. I not only have this testimony in person from Colonel George Davenport himself but also from Mr. A. LeClaire, the earliest proprietor of this village, and that he himself suggested the name in honor of his personal friend, Colonel Davenport, and that his influence and popularity at home and abroad, and especially in St. Louis, would contribute largely to the sale of lots and increase the popularity of the place, which was not only a compliment to Mr. George Davenport, but was a wise conclusion, financially."
Two years later this pioneer clergyman paid a visit to Davenport and told of his appointment by the Ohio conference to labor among the Sacs and Foxes in a circuit which embraced everything between the Missouri state line and St. Anthony's falls. From his log cabin home on Rock island nothing of civilization was to be seen on the Iowa shore except the small house of Antoine LeClaire. Mr. Gavit traveled his extensive circuit on horseback carrying food in his saddlebags and bivouacking at night on the prairie, seeking people to whom he could preach the scriptures. When he reached his Davenport home he preached to the soldiers at Fort Armstrong, Captain Zachary Taylor and Colonel Davenport being in his congregation. He was on friendly terms with Black Hawk and Keokuk. While the family resided here their little boy, aged four years died and was buried in the cemetery at the fort.
DAVENPORT ENTERTAINS A BISHOP.
It was in 1837 that the Episcopalians of this vicinity entertained Bishop Chase upon his first episcopal visitation. His notes have been preserved and tell the story of his coming and going with some heartfelt hopes for the spiritual health of this budding community: "July 13, 1837,-Came to that most pleasantly situated and rising village, Stephenson. Was recrivrd most kindly by good Mr. Brackett. July 14,-visited a sick man, and in the evening, preached in the school house. July 15,-again visited the sick and at 3 o'clock crossed the river Mississippi and preached in the village of Davenport, which is in the Wisconsin territory. Returned to Stephenson. July 16,-3 p. m., crossed the Mississippi and preached in the Wisconsin territory. Same night returned to Stephenson. Found a letter of invitation to preach at Rockingham in the W. T. July 17,-crossed over the third time the river justly called the 'Father of Waters.' Rode down its banks to R., that rapidly growing place to which I had been so kindly invited, where I preached in the afternoon. In reflecting on these three villages-Stephenson, Davenport, and Rockingham-my mind is deeply impressed with their importance and peculiar advantages. And why may not religion be among the blessings which they enjoy? When men for worldly interest flock together, as they do in these places, should not true Christians go with them to promote their eternal welfare? Let pass a few years, and all the busy, bustling first settlers of these beautiful places will be in their graves. And what will be the character and destiny of those who occupy their places if nothing more be done than now appears to form their manners and their hearts anew? July 18,-I was conveyed across the Mississippi and up to the mouth of Rock river by the exertions and kind assistance of Dr. Barrows and other gentlemen of Rockingham. The same friends also attended me for some distance on land till put on a trail leading to home, thence bearing southeast, distant sixty miles."
FIRST DEATH IN DAVENPORT.
Mr. Barrows speaks of the death of Mrs. Tannehill in 1836 as the first to occur in the village of Davenport. It is not a matter of particular importance and probably he was right, but another writer tells of a death which preceded the one given precedence by Mr. Barrows. It was the demise from typhoid fever of an Indianian who bivouacked in his hooded wagon near Fifth and Perry streets while he was doing some breaking for Antoine LeClaire near where the Macaroni plant is now situated. When the kind and hospitable folks of the little settlement learned of his condition, he was taken to a log cabin near Second and Scott streets and cared for until he died. Rough boards were nailed together for a coffin and he was buried on the edge of the city, where the first burial ground thus begun was located - near Sixth and Main streets. Here in the midst of the city he rests, his grave unmarked, his name forgotten, even his existence uncertain.
A SUMMER RESORT.
The LeClaire house built in 1839 and demolished in the spring of 1910 was the scene of much of the history that Mr. Barrows wrote. In its palmy days it was the finest hotel in the Mississippi Valley and attracted guests from the south. A correspondent of the New Orleans Delta writes in the '40s, "The LeClaire house is a great resort for the people of St. Louis to spend three or four months in hunting and fishing. The prairie grouse which is as large as a common hen affords the finest opportunity for the exercise of the gun. Your humble contributor bagged twenty-five in one afternoon, shooting one at a time on the wing."
In 1840 this little settlement of a few hundred ambitious and impulsive souls was visited by a Chicago newspaper man who enjoyed himself and wrote something for his paper which was reprinted in the Sun of October 24, 1840. "We venture to say that the LeClaire house, whether we consider the outward structure or the internal finish, or even furniture, has no equal in this state, Missouri or the territories. It was named after Mr. LeClaire, a celebrated Indian trader who had done much with another trader whose name the town bears, for the growth and beauty of the place. The Iowa Sun is published here. We had but very little time to take any notes of Davenport, being attracted across the river by its splendid illumination in honor of being chosen the seat of justice for Scott county, and being compelled to leave early the next morning. But our short stay was a very pleasurable one, as we found all the youth and beauty of the place congregated at the LeClaire house at a social ball, where we found an old friend, Judge Williams, as ready to play or dance as ever, and Messrs. Parker, of Scott, Walworth, of Cedar, and Murray of Clinton, all canvassing for a seat in the legislature. We also found there Colonels Dodge and Brophy, late of the Patriot army, and one who also deserves an honorable mention, the generous and enterprising LeClaire. Between so many ladies educated with all the refinements of our eastern and southern cities it would be invidious to individualize. But aggregately we will say of a company of some seventy-five ladies that no town of the size of Davenport in the Union can produce their superiors whether we speak of their mental or external accomplishments. And hereafter when we hear of a settler of Iowa passing by Davenport when in search of a wife, whether under the pretense of grace, beauty, intelligence or even wealth, we shall believe him acting from necessity and without honor to his own country."
It is not remarkable that the gallant newspaper man swayed by feminine "external accomplishments" should have been previously impressed by the illumination over the county seat matter, for it is a reminiscence of the oldest settlers that it was a unique demonstration. One citizen seldom praised for generosity set fire to his own hay stacks under the influence of excitement and danced round them while they expressed his pleasure over the result of the election. Another number in the impromptu program of illumination was the atacking of combustibles on a large shed which being scooted around on the sand of the river front by means of long ropes so fascinated and bewildered the citizens of Stephenson that the river was dotted with skiffs bearing the curious citizens of the sister town who came across to see not only what it was all about but also how in the world it was done.
ROYALTY VISITS THE CITY.
Mr. Barrows mentions the stay of Prince DeJoinville and his suite at the LeClaire house in 1841. When that nobleman returned to France he printed a volume of American travels which were unusual in interest. When the company were here they told of the cupidity of the hotel keeper in Galena, the Illinois metropolis, who charged up a list of extras which made the distinguished travelers feel that this section was strictly abreast with the hotels of continental Europe. One item was $3, for the use of the hotel piano for one tune, played with indifferent success.
THE FIRST DUEL ON IOWA SOIL.
In an autobiography of Andrew W. Griffith, of Keokuk, written in 1882, and unpublished, hitherto in 1882, appeared the following account of a duel, probably the first on Iowa soil, of which he was an eye witness:
"During my stay in Davenport I witnessed the only duel ever fought in Iowa. There were two young men from Philadelphia rusticating between Rock Island and Davenport, a Mr. Charles Hegner and a Mr. Sperry. He, Sperry, was a West Pointer out rusticating. Hegner was a son of a wealthy liquor merchant of Philadelphia, had plenty of money and good clothes. There were also two other fine looking gentlemen wintering alternately between Davenport and Rock Island by the name of John Finch and a Mr. Ralston. Finch taught writing school and Ralston was a gentleman of leisure. They all met at a party at the old Rock Island House in the town of Rock Island. The difficulty grew out of Mr. Hegner's and Mr. Ralston's being engaged to dance the same set with a young lady by the name of Sophia Fisher. Mr. Ralston held the fort and Hegner challenged him to fight a duel. Ralston accepted and selected pistols at twenty paces, the battle to be fought on Iowa soil on the bank of the father of waters one mile below what was then the town of Davenport, but now in the city, at sunrise the second morning following the challenge. Mr. Ralston selected Flinch for his second and Mr. Hegner selected Sperry; Dr. Craig of Rock Island, surgeon. Jack Evans, of Davenport, and myself being anxious to see the fun, were on the ground at sunrise, found the combatants on the ground, thirsting for blood. They took their positions, when Mr. Ralston offered a compromise, but nothing but blood would satisfy Mr. Hegner. Mr. Ralston then replied: 'D___n you, I will not kill you but I will wing you.' The word was given and both fired. Hegner was shot in the right arm and Ralston was not touched. The surgeon dressed the wound, the duelists shook hands and all went up to the LeClaire House and took a drink. Then the fun commenced with the officers of the law. They got after them for fighting on Iowa soil. The combatants flew across the river. There the officers go after them for passing a challenge. Finally they run them out of the country. The truth as to the trouble between the two belligerents was that Mr. Ralston was a little better poker player than Hegner. John Finch is now living in Dallas, Illinois. Mr. Ralston is dead. The other two I have lost track of."
NEWHALL'S IMMIGRANT PICTURE.
The rush of immigration to the Black Hawk purchase described by Mr. Barrows might be illustrated by an extract from a little work called "A Glimpse of Iowa in 1846, or the Emigrant's Guide," written by J. B. Newhall, an early writer who did much to attract settlers to this state. These paragrpahs are his:
"The writer of these lines having frequent occasion to traverse the great thoroughfares of Illinois and Indiana in the years of 1836 and 1837, the roads would be literally lined with the long, blue wagons of the emigrants, slowly wending their way over the broad prairies, the cattle and horsemen and dogs, and frequently men and women forming the rear of the van, often ten, twenty, thirty wagons in company. Ask them where their destination was, and they would reply, the Black Hawk Purchase. I well remember on a beautiful autumnal evening in 1836 crossing the military tract in Illinois. The last rays of the sun were gilding the tree tops and shedding their mellow tints upon the fleecy clouds, as my horse turned the sharp angle of a neighboring ticket. Here I encountered a settler camped for the night. How little do the trans-Alleghanians know of such a scene. I'll try to give them the picture, not coleur de rose, but from life, breathing and real.
"The old lady had just built her campfire, and was busily engaged in frying prairie chickens which the unerring rifle of her boy had brought to the ground. One of the girls, was milking a brindle cow, and that tall girl yonder with swarthy arms and yellow sunbonnet is nailing the coffee mill on the side of a scrub oak which the little boy had blazed out with his hatchet. There sat the old man on a log, quietly shaving himself by a six-penny looking glass which he had tacked to a neighboring tree. And yonder old decrepit man, sitting on the low, rush-bottomed chair, is the aged grandsire of all; better than his bones be left by the wayside than that he be left among strangers. He sits quietly smoking his pipe with all the serenity of a patriarch - apparently as ready to shuffle off this mortal coil that night as to sit down to his prairie chicken supper. What a picturesque group for the pencil of a painter; yet these are the scenes that we frequently witness in the far West. This is emigrating. 'Tis not going away from home. The home was there, that night, with the settlers on Camp creek, under the broad canopy of heaven, by that gurgling brook where the cattle browsed, the dogs barked, and the children quietly slumbered."
In this way Scott county was settled, and of these people Willard Barrows wrote.
BIOGRAPHY OF WILLARD BARROWS.
In the intial issue of the Annals of Iowa appeared as a preface and introduction to the history a memoir by the editor which will serve to introduce to present day readers this author of the days of early Iowa. The memoir reads:
"Willard Barrows, Esq., the writer of the following history, was born at Munson, Mass., in 1806. He received a thorough education in the common schools and academies of New England. In 1827 he settled in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, where he taught school for several years; and was married in 1832. Selecting the pursuit of engineering and surveying he engaged in a contract with the government to finish the surveys of the Choctaw Indian purchase, in the cypress swamps and cane brakes on the Yazoo and Sunflower rivers, in the region where the northwestern army and navy of the United States have lately operated. By the sudden rise of the Mississippi river which overflowed all the country except rhe ridges his party was cut off from all inhabitants and supplies during the winter of 1836-7, reducing them to short allowance and even to the fruit of the persimmon tree and the flesh of the opossum for food. All other animals fled except that a hawk or an owl was occasionally killed. About the 1st of March the flood so far subsided that they went by canoes to Vicksburg and Natchez, and he proceeded to Jackson, Miss., to report there to the surveyor general.
"In 1837 he was occupied in the first surveys of Iowa by the government and spent the winter on the Wapsipinicon river. And in July, 1838, he settled with his family in Rockingham, five miles below Davenport.
"In 1840 Mr. Barrows surveyed the islands of the Mississippi from the mouth of the Rock river to Quincy, Ill. In 1841-2 the public surveys being suspended he engaged in farming, and held the offices of justice of the peace, of postmaster and notary public at Rockingham, in which he continued until 1843 when he entered upon the survey of the Kickapoo country north of the Wisconsin river. There the Winnebago Indians stole the provisions of the party, and he was compelled to go to Prairie du Chien for supplies. On his return his way was obstructed by prostrate timber hurled in every direction by a terrific tornado through which with the help of indolent Indians he was able to cut a passage only two and one-half miles in two days. Forced to send his provisions up the Kickapoo by the Indians in canoes, he followed on by land till they were past the track of the whirlwind. The supplies were landed and the Indians dismissed. He then carried the provisions a half mile and concealed them. The next day, early, he took a bag of flour and a little pork on a single pack-horse and hastened to relieve his men as fast as he could through the wilderness over the 'Sugar Loaves of Wisconsin' as the region is called where Col. 'Atkinson, in 1832, in pursuit of Black Hawk and his Indian warriors was obliged to leave his wagons and baggage with the loss of many horses. On the fourth day he came upon one starving man of his party, and after refreshing him he pressed on to the camp where the rest, neglecting to rescue themselves when they were able, and supposing him to be murdered by the Indians were sunken in despair. Cheered by his arrival and strengthened with food, they all started for the depot of provisions on the Kickapoo, and reached the place to find them all stolen again by the Indians. The only means of saving their lives, then, was to ascend the Kickapoo to a ford and thence go to Prairie du Chien. On the third day after they reached a settlement where they stayed a week and recruited, and when arrived at Prairie du Chien they found many articles of their clothing in the liquor shops that the Root Indians had stolen and sold. Their horses had previously been scattered during the tornado, so that the party had been compelled to eat their two dogs, at the camp, making soup of the bones and nettles, and boiling part of their harness for food instead of horse flesh.
"Afterward Mr. Barrows traversed northern Iowa, then in possession of the Indian tribes with a view to a knowledge of the region. He visited the mission school then at Fort Atkinson, where he got a passport over that section of the country from Rev. Mr. Lowrey, then in charge of the mission.
"'Barrows' New Map of Iowa, with Notes,' was published in 1854 by Doolittle & Munson, Cincinnati, and it was considered of so much importance that the legislature of Iowa ordered copies of it for the members of both houses and also for the state officers. This work together with letters published in the Davenport Democrat from California whither he went in 1850 by the overland route, enduring almost incredible hardships and returning by Mexico and Cuba, and also some communications for the press of a scientific character constitute along with the hisotry that here follows the chief literary productions of Mr. Barrows, all descriptive of new parts of our country.
"At intervals Mr. Barrows has turned his attention to land business with success. His suburban residence and grounds are conspicuous to every person passing in the cars southwest of Davenport where he enjoys the fruits of his past activity and enterprise.
"In person, as in indicated by his protrait in this number, Mr. Barrows is full and portly. In manners he is courteous and genial. As a Christian, 'the highest style of man,' he is charitble and discreet. And, to use the words of the author of 'Davenport, Past and Present' to which the reader is referred for fuller particulars and from which these are drawn, 'may many years yet be his protion, as happy and pleasant as his early life has been laborious and active.'"
BARROW'S HISTORY OF SCOTT COUNTY.
In compliance with a formal request of the curators of the State Historical society I have undertaken the task of writing a full history of Scott county, Iowa, or more particularly facts and incidents connected with its early history. A residence of twenty-five years in this county has given me an opportunity for observation and a knowledge of the proper sources from which to obtain information.
Much care has been taken to gather information from the early settlers of the county, and a hearty response has come up from some parts. In many instances difference of opinion has arisen as to dates and circumstances. In such cased I have generally taken the decision of the majority.
It might be supposed that our existence as a county is so brief, not twenty-eight years, that the incidents connected with its settlement and growth would be fresh in the minds of all. Such may be the case with much of our history, while some important facts are lost. The early settler seldom finds time, if he has the ability to record passing events, save in the memory. The unparalleled rapidity with which the west has marched forward to greatness and power is a sufficient excuse for the pioneer historian, when he fails through want of facts, to give a full and perfect account of his first struggles. The early emigrant to a new country finds that all his time and energies are required to provide even for the necessaries of life; the rude cabin must be raised, for a temporary abode at least, the virgin soil must be broken up and fenced, and numberless little requisites for the comfort of himself or family crowd upon his attention, so that the new beginner is most emphatically his own "hewer of wood and drawer of water."
In collection the material for this work the author has often been doubly repaid for his labor in the pleasant meetings he has had with many an "old settler," from whom the whirl and bustle of life has separated him for years. Such reunions are sweet and profitable, and these hardy sons of toil, meeting after many years of separation like old soldiers retire to some shady nook, there recount the scenes through which they have passed and "fight their battles o'er again." Although the trials and hardships of the pioneers of Scott county may not compare with the early settlement of Kentucky, Ohio, or some other western states, yet there are many incidents connected with its early history that are worthy of record and should be gathered before they pass beyond our reach.
The county of Scott, being situated on the Mississippi river and having a water front of some thirty-five miles upon its south and eastern boundary, has many natural advantages not found in more inland counties. Upon the north it is bounded by the Wau-bessa-pinnecon Se-po, which in Indian language signifies "the place of white potatoes." The name is derived from the two Indian words "Waubessa," white or swan-like, and "Pinneac," a potato, Sepo being the Indian name for river. The river was probably so named from the fact of great quantities of the wild artichoke being found in that region.
This stream is some ten or twelve rods wide with a swift, clear current and its banks generally skirted with timber. Its bottom lands are from a half to a mile or two wide and are subject to annual overflow, affording great pasturage for stock, not being in general dry enough for cultivation. The western boundary of the county is upon rich, rolling prairie extending along the fifth principal meridian, separating it from the counties of Cedar and Muscatine.
There is much in the early history of this country to interest and excite the antiquarian and lover of research. Long before the discovery of the Great River by Marquette and Joliet on the 17th of June, 1673, tradition tells us that the spot of ground now occupied by the city of Davenport was a large and populous Indian village. There can be but little doubt from the history of those early pioneers that it was here that they first landed in their voyage down the Mississippi after they entered it from the mouth of the Wisconsin on the 17th of June.
The first landing made by them on record was on the 21st, four days after they entered the Mississippi, and was upon the western bank, where say they: "We discovered footprints of some fellow mortals, and a little path (trail) leading into a pleasant meadow." Following the trail a short distance, they heard the savages talking, and "making their presence known by a loud cry," they were led to the village of the "Illinies."
There could not have been sufficient time between the 17th and the 21st for the voyagers to have descended beyond this point or to have reached the lower or Des Moines rapids, which some historians claim to have been the landing place spoken of. There having been an Indian village here from time immemorial, according to Indian tradition, fixes the fact most conclusively that it was at this place, Davenport, that the soil of Iowa was first pressed by the foot of a white man. The legends of the Indians are full of historic lore pertaining to this beautiful spot comprising Davenport, Rock Island and their surroundings.
Black Hawk was ever ready to tell of the traditions of his people, and often dwelt with much interest and excitement on the traditions of his fathers. He says they came from Gitche Gammee, "the big water," Lake Superior, and Indians that are yet living say that the home of their fathers was at Saukie creek that empties into Lake Superior, and that as they traveled westward they encountered foes whom they fought and conquered, and that in turn they were conquered by their enemies, and tribe fought tribe for possession of the land; until they reached the great river, the Massa-Sepo, which signifies "The Father of Rivers."
The tradition of the Saukies, who have always lived upon the prairies, is that their name means 'Man of the prairie," or Prairie Indian.
They also aver that their friends, the Musquakies, which signifies "Foxes," were a sly and cunning people and united with them for strength to fight their enemies, the tribes of the Kickapoo and Illini, and that they have ever lived in peace as one tribe and one people.
These were the Indians in possession of the country when the United States assumed jurisdiction over it and of whom it was purchased.
There were many traces of the aborigines existing when the first settlers came to Iowa. Several Indian mounds or burial places of quite large dimensions were still used by wandering tribes of Indians as late as 1835 and 1836 situated on the banks of the river about two miles below this city, where was formerly the farm of the Hon. E. Cook. Indian graves have been foung in excavations about this city, and relics of ancient date discovered, showing that this spot has been the home of the red man for centuries, and corroborating the testimony of Black Hawlk and others as to the traditions of thier fathers.
The scenery presented in ascending the Mississippi, taking in the whole view from the point of the bluff below Rockingham as far up as Hampton, on the Illinois shore, is one of unexcelled beauty and loveliness. Its islands dotting the broad expanse of waters, the secnery of the bluffs upon the Iowa side, and Rock island with old Fort Armstrong, have been admired and more sketches taken of this panoramic view by home and foreign artists than any other portion of the Mississippi valley.
Of the early history of Scott county we have a most vivid and truthful history compiled from living witesses.
At the close of the Black Hawk war in 1832, there were no settlers upon this side of the river. The purchase from the Sac (or Saukie) and Fox tribe of Indians of the soil of Scott county was made, in common with that of all the river counties on the 15th of September, 1832, upon the ground now occupied by the depot buildings of the Mississippi and Missouri R. R. Company in this city. The treaty was held by Gen. Scott.
The cholera was raging among the troops at Fort Armstrong at the time and for prudential reasons it was thought best to meet the Indians upon this side of the river.
In this sale the Indians reserved a section, (640 acres) and presented it to Antoine LeClaire, Esq., their interpreter. This reserve was located upon the river between Harrison street and Bridge avenue, in Fulton's addition to the city of Davenport, running back over the bluff to a line due east and west, a few rods this side of Locust street. They also gave Mr. LeClaire another section of land at the head of the rapids where the city of LeClaire now stands.
The treaty of Gen. Scott with the Indians was ratified by Congress at their session in the winter of 1833. Thus did the United States come into possession of the soil of Scott county.
Of the Indians from whom it was purchased and of the tribes who had been in possession in early days we should like to give a more extended notice than we are permitted in this brief history of Scott county.
The Sacs and Foxes were provided with homes in Kansas, where they now reside. They are fast dwindling away, and but a remnant is left of the tribes of the Winnebagoes, the Chippewas, Pottawattamies, Ottawas, Menominees and other powerful bands that were in possession of all the country from the Lakes to the Missouri at the termination of the American Revolution. Where the sad remnants of any of these tribes are found, they present but a faint resemblance of their former greatness and renown or of their warlike and noble bearing. A few squalid families may be found loitering about the frontier towns, made beggars by the low and wasting vices of the white man.
But their destiny is written. The onward march of the Anglo-Saxon race tells with unerring prophecy the fate of the Red man. Already have his haunts been broken up in the quiet dells of the Rocky mountains; already have the plains of Utah drunk the blood of this ill-fated and unhappy race, and ere long his retreating footprints will be found along the shores of the Pacific hastening to the spirit land, the "Great Hereafter."
We now enter upon our history more in detail, considering each township, beginning with Buffalo.
FIRST SETTLEMENT OF BUFFALO TOWNSHIP
In 1833 Capt. Benjamin W. Clark, a native of Virginia, who had settled and made some improvements on the Illinois shore where the town of Andalusia now is, moved across the Mississippi and commenced a settlement upon the present site of the town of Buffalo, and was probably the first settler on the soil of Scott county. He had been captain of a company of mounted volunteer rangers in the Black Hawk war under Gen. Dodge. Here, in Buffalo, he made the first "claim," erected the first cabin, broke the first ground, planted the first corn and raised the first produce in the county. His nearest neighbors at this time upon the Iowa shore, then called the "Black Hawk Purchase," were at Burlington and Dubuque.
The first stock of goods ever opened in the county was at Buffalo by a Mr. Lynde, of Stephenson, now Rock Island. The first orchard planted and the first coal ever discovered and dug in this county were by Capt. Clark in 1834. The first public ferry across the Mississippi between Burlington and Dubuque was at Buffalo, and for several years "Clark's Ferry" was the only place of crossing in all this region of country. In the early part of the year 1835 he erected a public house which is still standing, a large frame building two stories high, which at that time was considered a great enterprise. He brought the lumber from Cincinnati at a cost of $60 a thousand feet.
In 1836 Capt. Clark laid out the town of Buffalo, it being the first town regularly laid out in this county. He succeeded in building up quite a village, but there was much need of flouring and lumber mills, and in 1836 he erected, near the mouth of Duck creek, the first saw mill in the county, or in this part of Iowa; and although it was on a small scale, and quite inadequate to the wants of the settlers who began to seek homes beyond the Mississippi, yet it proved of the greatest public benefit and served the people for many years.
The ferry was established at Buffalo while Capt. Clark lived at Andalusia before he moved across the river. The first ferriage collected by him, after he had completed his flat-boat was attended by the following amusing circumstances. Late one evening a company of French traders, who were returning from the Iowa river to the trading post on Rock island, encamped on the bank of the river where the hotel now stands in Buffalo. They heard the report of the captain's intention to establish a ferry across the river at this point, and feeling somewhat inclined to ridicule such an enterprise, they called loudly for the ferry boat, saying that they had a drove of cattle to cross, an assertion perfectly ridiculous in itself, as nothing in the shape of cattle nearer than buffalo or elk had ever appeared upon the western banks of the Mississipp river. But the captain was not to be trifled with. He had made ready his boat. His ferry was established, and being a man of bold and most unflinching,, uncompromising sterness and perseverance, he rallied his men, manned his boat with some eight men and boys and very quietly crossed over to answer the continued calls of the noisy Frenchmen. It was a very dark night, and as the oars were plied to the ponderous flatboat Capt. Clark stood at the helm steering his rude craft over the swelling waves of the Mississippi with nothing to guide him but the blaze of the campfire and noise of the company on the Iowa shore, meditating most undoubltedly in a frame of mind not the most serene. When nearing the shore the traders on discovering him, set up a most uncourteous roar of laughter, turning the whole matter off as a joke, called them fools, and told the captain they had nothing to ferry, and that he might return to the Illinois side. But Capt. Clark's anger was now raised to the highest pitch. He landed his boat and with his men marched into the camp of the insolent Frenchmen and demanded $10.00 as a fee for ferriage. No man who knew Capt. Clark ever wanted to parley with him when his usually mild temper was aroused by insult. The party soon became satisfied that under the circumstances it was their best policy to pay up. The great difficulty now was that they had not $10.00 in the company, but very willingly proffered two bolts of calico, which, among Indians at least, was considered legal tender. This was accepted and taken as the first ferriage ever received in Scott county. Capt. Clark and his party returned, having taught the wild traders one of the first lessons of civilization.
Capt. Clark claimed the honor of being the father of the first white child born in Scott county. This son, David H. Clark, now a resident of Poke county, in this state, was born in Buffalo, the 21st of April, 1834.
For many years the town of Buffalo attracted much attention and bid fair to become a serious rival to Stephenson, then just merging itno existence. But Davenport and Rockingham were soon laid off and a ferry being established between Davenport and Stephenson by Mr. LeClaire, travel was directed to that point and the division of the country into counties left Buffalo in no enviable situation. It had been the most prosperous town in this region of country, doing a large business with the emigrants to the territory who were then beginning to settle up and down the river and along the Cedar valley, furnishing grain and provisions of all kinds to the newcomers. Capt. Clark spent muchtime in showing emigrants the country and assisting them in making claims, and probably did more toward the early settlement of this country than any other man that ever came into it. He died at Buffalo, October 25, 1839.
To show the prospects of Buffalo as a point of interest at that day we might relate a circumstance that occurred in reference to the value of town lots. After Davenport was laid out, Major Wm. Gordon and some others, proprietors, called on Capt. Clark and offered him an even exchange of forty or sixty lots in Davenport for an equal number in Buffalo, but the captain declined, regarding it as a poor offer, as it probably looked to be at that time.
It will be seen by reference to the map of Scott county that it lacks a township in the southwest corner (No. 78, N., R. I, E.) of being square. As it has always been a mystery to many, particularly to the new corner, why this township should have been set off to Muscatine county, while it so naturally belonged to Scott, I will here explain.
In the first territorial legislature which convened at Burlington, in December, 1837, an act was passed creating the boundaries of Scott county, as well as many others. Unfortunately for the well-being of many a town site and village this honorable body had too many speculators in town lots among its members. Dr. Reynolds, then living three miles above Bloomington, now Muscatine, being a member, had laid off a place called Geneva upon which all his efforts for the county seat were centered. The manner and extent in laying off the counties were of course to decide the destiny of many a town site which had been made especially for the county seat. The object of Dr. Reynolds was to press the upper line of Muscatine county up the river as far as possible so as to make Geneva central and lessen the chances of Bloomington which was an applicant for favor. The Davenport and Rockingham member, Alex W. McGregor, Esq., knew that if the Scott county line ran too far down the river, Buffalo, then a rival and by far the most populous and important town above Burlington, would stand too great a chance, so that a compromise was entered into and this township was given to Muscatine county which gives to our county its present ill-shaped appearance.
Buffalo with all her just claims was sacrificed by placing her in the lower end of the county. Dr. Reynolds' grand scheme was frustrated, for Bloomington got the county seat for Muscatine county and Davenport and Rockingham "doubled teams" on Buffalo, got the county seat and then fought for choice of location, as will be noticed under its proper head. This was the killing stroke to Buffalo. Davenport ultimately received all the benefits derived from the trickery and corruption of legislative enactments while Geneva, Montpelier, Salem, Freeport, Mouth of Pine and some half dozen more towns that were laid out along the Mississippi river from Muscatine island to Davenport "went under" carrying with them all their visionary schemes for greatness and power.
Buffalo township has more timber land than any other in the county. There are thousands of acres now covered with a growth that has arisen since the first settlement that will cut from twenty to fifty cords of wood to the acre. It is estimated that there is five times as much timber in Buffalo township as there was at the time of the first settlement in 1834, a fact showing how easily timber may be produced, if cared for, and the annual fires kept out of the woodlands.
There is another very important item to appear in the history of this township. Coal was first discovered here in 1834 and as early as 1835 and 1836 was dug and sold to steamboats at the mouth of Bowling's creek which empties into the Mississippi about half way between Buffalo and Rockingham. The first bank opened was about half a mile up this creek, and was worked to considerable extent by Dr. A. C. Donaldson who settled in 1837 near its mouth. Still higher up this creek, some three miles, Benjamin Wright and Capt. E. Murray, from Zanesville, Ohio, opened a bank in 1838 and furnished coal to Davenport and Rockingham for 15 cents per bushel, and from that day to this mines have been opened and worked in almost every part of the township until at the present time more than twenty-five coal mines are open and ready for work. The most extensive now in operation are near Buffalo and belong to Capt. W. L. Clark & Co., who are getting out about 1,000 bushels per day. They are preparing to lay a rail track to the river and when completed the company will be able to deliver on the bank or in barges from 2,500 to 4,000 bushels per day. Their road will accommodate many other banks now open and that will be opened along the track. The coal now obtained is far superior to that formerly dug and is said to be a better article for making steam and for other purposes, giving off more flame and igniting very readily. Experienced steamboat men who have examined this coal and used it say that 1,000 bushels of it will go further and make more steam than 1,200 bushels of the Rock river coal.
Capt. W. L. Clark, son of the original proprietor of Buffalo, is now a resident of Davenport, but holds large interests of lands and coal banks in this county. The very lands claimed by his father in 1832 soon after the Black Hawk war are still in the possession of Capt. W. L. Clark.
James M. Bowling from Virginia, now a resident of Davenport, settled in Buffalo township on 4th of July, 1835, at the mouth of Bowling's creek. He purchased the "claim" of one Orange Babbett, the quitclaim deed to which has recently been presented to the State Historical society by Mr. Bowling. This property now belongs to Capt. Leroy Dodge. Mr. Bowling commenced farming in 1835. That fall he went back to Virginia, married and returned in 1836 with his wife and two sisters. In 1837 he had the prospect of a fine crop, but the Indians who still loitered about the country were encamped upon this creek. In June there were some 500 Indians living near him and very troublesome. They set fire to the prairie and burned up the fence surrounding his corn which was at the time six inches high. The Indian horses then ate much of it and he was compelled in the heat of summer to cut timber and make rails to enclose his field again; but notwithstanding all his misfortune, he succeeded in raising a very good crop. The Indians, however, were a constant annoyance to him.
In his absence on one occasion a lot of Indians came to the house and Mrs. Bowling having the door fastened by putting a gimlet over the latch, with his sisters, remained in silence for some time until they pushed out the chinking of the cabin near the door and running in their arms pulled out the gimlet, when Mrs. Bowling and sisters braced themselves against the door and by main strength kept them at bay until weary of the effort to make an entry they left the premises. This is but one instance among many of the trials and hardships to which the first settlers were exposed and through which they passed with patience and toil.
Although Buffalo became almost extinct after her defeat and downfall, yet in 1855 it was resurveyed and mostly purchased by the Germans who settled in and around the town. It has a steam mill, three stores, an Episcopal church organized and one of Disciples or Christians. Both societies worship in the schoolhouse. Buffalo now contains about 500 inhabitants and is one of the most beautiful town sites on the Mississippi river.
Many of the first settlers of this township are still living at Buffalo enjoying in afluence the sure reward of their early struggles. One among the many who have retired from the more active pursuits of life and now enjoy life's comforts is Capt. Leroy Dodge, who emigrated to Iowa in 1836 from the state of New York. He was for many years a pilot on the Mississippi and then commander of steamboats. Having secured some 400 acres along the river and bluff above Buffalo, he built him a pleasant cottage on the banks of the river and turned his attention to agriculture, principally to stock raising, of which he has some noble specimens. In 1852 he represented Scott county in our state legislature. He was an unflinching democrat and loved the cause of human rights.
Among others who settled at an early day in this township were Joseph and Matthias Mounts, Elias Moore and Andrew W. Campbell. Mr. Campbell was among the most enterprising of the early settlers, having opened a large farm on the bottom land of the river. He sold it to Henry C. Morehead at an early day and removed to the prairie near where the town of Blue Grass now is, where he opened another large farm that now belongs to his heirs. He was elected in February, 1838, one of the county commissioners, it being the first election ever held for officers under the county organization. He also filled other places of responsibility and trust. Being fond of travel and adventure, he frequently took excursions into the interior of Iowa while it was yet in the possession of the Indians, seeming to forget all business cares and enjoy every much the solitude and loveliness of our western wilds. In the spring of 1850 he crossed the plains to California and returned by way of the Isthmus that fall. The following summer he again set forth for California by the overland route in company with a son and a married daughter whose husband was in California. His health had been for years somewhat impaired and his constitution broken. On Green river, in the great basin of the Rocky mountains he sickened and died, and his bones are left to moulder in the cheerless desert with no lasting monument to point the weary pilgrim to his lonely grave.
In ascending the river from Buffalo, we next enter upon Rockingham township, the settlement of which began simultaneously with that of LeClaire, Princeton and the Groves. This township comprising the bluffs of the Mississippi is somewhat broken, and was formerly covered with heavy timber. The bottom lands that are above overflow are excellent farming lands. The settlement was begun at Rockingham in the fall of 1835. Col. John Sullivan, of Zanesville, O., James and Adrian H. Davenport, Henry W. Higgins and others, purchased the claim that had been made upon the present site of Rockingham which is directly opposite the mouth of Rock River.
Like many other places selected in those days for town sites, Rockingham "possessed many advantages," the most prominent of which was that it would command the trade of Rock river which at that time was supposed to be navigable. It was laid off into lots in the spring of 1836. Its location upon the banks of the Mississippi with Rock river on the opposite side was well drawn and lithograph maps made and circulated in eastern cities and presented a picture of much beauty. For a while it was a place of considerable importance. Emigrants unacquainted with the annual overflow of the Mississippi were deceived. To the eye in low water, all was beautiful and many a settler felt happy in finding so delightful a home in the west. But with the rise of the river, its vast sloughs were filled and the embryo city became an island. All communication with the bluff was cut off by a slough running back of the town near th bluffs so deep, it is said, that keelboats had often navigated it with heavy loads. The first overflow was considered an "uncommon occurence." The second a thing that might "never happen again," and unknown "to the oldest inhabitants."
In March, 1834, Adrian H. Davenport made a claim on Credit island. This island containing nearly 400 acres belongs to Scott county, it being on the Iowa side of the channel of the Mississippi, and lies just above the mouth of Rock river and a little above the town of Rockingham. The early French traders had a trading post on this island and credit was here first given to the Indians, hence the name "Credit island" was given to it. Soon after the settlement of Mr. Davenport upon this island he was joined by his father, Marmaduke Davenport, who had been Indian agent at Rock island. This island was purchased from the government by Mr. Davenport and is now owned by Mr. J. H. Jenny of this city. On the 14th of August, 1834, Mr. Davenport had a son born which was the second white make child born in the county, unless one of Levi Chamberlain's of Pleasant Valley be the second. This child of Mr. Davenport's died while young. The Davenports in the selection and location of Rockingham became proprietors and were dry goods and grocery merchants for many years.
In 1850, A. H. Davenport and his father removed to LeClaire wher his father died in 1852, much respected for his many social and Christian virtues. Adrian H., his son, while living at Rockingham in 1838 received the appointment from Gov. Lucas of sheriff of Scott and Clinton counties, Clinton being attached to Scott for judicial purposes. The office he retained for twelve years and filled it with great fidelity and acceptance to the people. He was ever a democrat, a man of untiring energy of character and of moral worth. By his removal to LeClaire in 1850 he not only secured to himself an ample fortune, but probably did more for the building up of that beautiful and enterprising city than any other man in it. He was in 1860 mayor of the city of LeClaire and will be more immediately identified when we came to speak of this part of our county.
James Davenport, his uncle, and the one more particularly interested in the laying out of the town of Rockingham, removed from that place in 1848 to Shullsburgh, Wisconsin, about fourteen miles from Galena where he has been largely engaged in mining. Not only has he been successful in his new employment and secured to himself ample stores of this world's goods, but has made himself useful in trying to arrest the progress of intemperance among the miners; employing none but sober and industrious men and by percept and example teaching with humility the pure principles of Christianity before which irreligion and vice have bery much diminished.
The 1st of August, 1836, Col. Sullivan returned from Zanesville with his family and some emigrants for settlement. The town on the 1st of May of this year contained two log cabins, one being occupied by A. H. Davenport and his family and the other by Mr. Foster. Mr. Sullivan brought with him a small stock of goods and removing his store from Stephenson where he had been trading for a year, he erected a small building and soon opened a dry goods and gorcery store. In the fall and winter of 1836 Rockingham contained some thirteen houses and about 100 inhabitants, among whom were Col. Sullivan and family, the Davenport families, Millington and Franklin Easly, Capt. John Coleman and brothers, William Lingo, Messrs. Mountain and Cale, John Willis, S. S. Brown, Henry C. Morehead, David Sullivan, Etheral and J. M. Camp, William White, William Dutro, H. W. Higgins, Cornelius Harold, Richard Harrison, James B. McCoy and E. H. Shepherd. Dr. E. S. Barrows located here in the fall of 1836. He was the first practicing physician located on the Iowa side of the river between Burlington and Dubuque. For many years his practice extended over a large extent of country, embracing Clinton, Cedar and Muscatine counties. In 1843 he removed to Davenport and continued his practice, until a few years since he retired to enjoy in quiet the fruits of his early labor. He has ever stood at the head of his profession and has been president of the "Iowa State Medical society."
Of the early settlers of Rockingham many are still inhabitants of Scott county. Some have died and many settled in other portions of the state. We should like to speak more in detail of the early trials and difficulties through which they passed; of their joys and sorrows, of disappointed hopes; and be allowed to follow each in his fortunes since the days of old Rockingham, but the limit of this work will not allow. There is, however, one truthful remark that may be written. No village of the "far west" at that day could boast of a better class of citizens or those of whom she could be more proud than Rockingham, both on account of their high toned moral character, their social and friendly qualities and for their kind and liberal attentions to the sick and to the stranger. Many a wanderer from the home circle has been made to know this, when, laid upon a sick bed in a far western village, he has found the kindly tones and skillful hands of woman, in his sick room, and has at the same time substantial proof that he was not forgotten by the "sterner sex."
A large hotel was erected by the proprietors in 1836 and kept for several years by H. W. Wiggins and was one of the best public houses west of the Mississippi river. It is still standing, and is occupied by W. D. Westlake, Esq. Capt. John Coleman still lives in this fallen city, the last of the first settlers. In the spring of 1837 two more dry goods stores were opened, one by the Davenports and one by John S. Sheller & Co.
During the years of 1835, 1836 and 1837 a few settlers made claims back from the river, along under the bluffs and on the edge of the prairie. Among these were David Sullivan, in 1835, immediately back of Rockingham under the bluff. His farm extended to the bottom lands. Rufus Ricker also settled the same year and Rev. Enoch Mead in the winter of 1837. The Hon. James Grant opened a large farm in 1838 upon the edge of the prairie at a little grove called at the time "Picayune grove." He enclosed 320 acres, much of which he put under cultivation. He introduced the first blooded stock into the county, if not into the state, and did much for the agricultural interests of the county at that early day. The stock introduced by Judge Grant at that time has been of immense value to our county, the fruits of which may be seen in the herds of many of our best farmers.
Among those who settled on the bluffs and on the edge of the prairie were Lewis Ringlesby, Esq., E. W. H. Winfield, John Wilson, more particularly known as "Wildcat Wilson," from having often, as he said, "whipt his weight in wild cats," and John Friday who broke the first ground upon the bluffs, seven acres for himself and four for Mr. Winfield.
Flour in the winter of 1836 was from $16 to $20 per barrel; corn meal, $1.75 per bushel, and no meat of any kind for sale at any price, except deer, wild turkey and other wild game, of which there was plenty at that day in the timber lands of the bluff.
John W. Brown, Wm. VanTuyl and John Burnsides also made claims or purchased them on Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiah-Sepo, or Black Hawk creek, just above Rockingham in 1836. John Wilson obtained that fall two bushels of seed wheat from John Dunn, who had settled in Allen's Grove which seed he had brought from Ohio. Mr. Winfield sowed the wheat that fall and cut the crop the following year with a sickle. Such were the beginnings in agriculture by the settlers of 1826.
At this early day business of all kinds was dull and the inhabitants sought pleasure and pastime in hunting and fishing. Enormous specimens of the finny tribe were taken, and to the newcomer were objects of surprise and curiosity. Catfish were taken weighing from 150 to 175 pounds. I caught a species of the pike called the muskelunge in Sugar creek which empties into Cedar river in June, 1837, that weighed 35 1/2 pounds and measured 5 1/2 feet long. The same summer E. W. H. Winfield caught a catfish in the Mississippi at Rockingham that weighed 175 pounds. Having hauled it up in front of the hotel it was soon surrounded with spectators. A little daughter of H. W. Higgins having caught a sight of the monster fish through the crowd, as it lay floundering on the ground, and not knowing exactly what it was, or the exact cause of the excitment, started off upon the run, exclaiming, "There, now, if I don't go and tell my Pa. They have killed our old sow." The river and the forest furnished ample sport as well as food for the early settler. Venison was often purchased for 2 or 3 cents per pound. Wild turkeys for 25 to 50 cents, and prairie chickens were so plentiful that they were generally given away by the sportsmen.
In the summer of 1837 a steam saw and flouring mill was erected by Capt. Sullivan, it being the first of the kind built in Scott county, or upon this side of the Mississippi between Burlington and Dubuque. A Methodist church was organized in 1836 and in the fall of 1837 Rev. Enoch Mead gathered a small church of the Presbyterian order. In 1840, the Rev. Zachariah Goldsmith, an Episcopalian, organized a church. 'All congregations worshipped by turns in a small church building, erected by common subscription. It was also used as a school house. In 1838 Rockingham contained forty-five houses including stores and workshops, and in 1839 there were four dry goods and three grocery stores, besides a drug store and some whiskey shops. Mechanics of nearly all trades had settled there, but the financial state of things at that date was so low that but little was done in the way of trade.
Scott county was organized and named after Gen. Winfield Scott, at the session of the legislature of Wisconsin territory which met at Burlington in December, 1837. The same act provided for holding an election for the county seat on the third Monday of February, 1838. Rockingham and Davenport being the only points to be voted for, the polls were to be opened at the Rockingham house in Rockingham and the Davenport hotel in Davenport, and at the house of E. Parkhurst, in the town of Parkhurst, now LeClaire. This same legilative act also provided for an election to be held two weeks after the county seat election for choice of county officers, at which last election Rockingham elected her candidates. The commissioners were B. F. Pike, Alfred Carter and A. W. Campbell, with E. Cook for county clerk.
The great importance of the county seat election is apparent. The fortunate town in the election was to become important from having the seat of justice. Great preparations were made for a spirited contest. The matter had been before the legislature and an attempt was made to locate it by that body, but a scheme of bribery and corruption among some of its members was brought to light and an act then passed to leave it to the people. The leading men in the contest upon the Rockingham side were Col. Sullivan, the Messrs. Davenport, Dr. E. S. Barrows, G. B. Sargent, J. S. Shiller, J. C. Higginson, W. Barrows, H. W. Higgins, Wm. VanTuyl, O. G. McLain, Fitzpatrick, Phipps, Shepherd and others, besides many that were non-residents of the town who lent their influence and time upon the occasion. Davenport had her LeClaire, Col. Davenport and sons, a host of others, men of means, talent and influence.
Rockingham in this first election, if conducted on fair principles, had no cause to fear the result. She had no need of resorting to unfair means to gain the election. The southern part of the county at that time was the most densely populated. She could pull more votes than Davenport, beside which the LeClaire township at the head of the rapids took sides with Rockingham, expecting at some future time to effect an alteration in the county lines on the north so as to make leClaire more central and of course it was policy to vote for the most southern point in the election.
The returns of the election were to be made to Gov. Dodge, of Wisconsin, we then belonging to that territory. The act specified that the place having the largest number of votes should be declared the county seat, and that it should be the duty of the governor upon such return being made to issue his proclamation accordingly. Davenport, well knowing her weakness and want of "material aid," entered into a contract with a man by the name of Bellows from Dubuque to furnish voters at so much per head, board, whiskey and lodging to be furnished by the party requiring service.
The day of election came and with it came also the importation of voters by the "Bellows express." They were from Dubuque and Snake Diggings, eleven sleigh loads of the most wretched looking rowdies and vagabonds that had ever appeared in the streets of Davenport. They were the dregs of the mining district of that early day; filled with impudence and profanity, soaked in whiskey and done up in rags. Illinois contributed largely by vote for Davenport. There was no use in challenging such a crowd of corruption, for they hardly knew the meaning of the word perjury, so they were permitted to vote, unmolested. Rockingham at this election, whatever she may have done afterwards, observed a strict, honest and impartial method of voting. There was no necessity for a resort to intrigue. She knew her strength and had it within herself. The election being over, the Dubuque delegation of miners returned home having drunk ten barrles of whiskey and cost the contracting parties over $3,000 in cash!
Davenport polled a majority of votes. The rejoicing was most enthusiastic. Bonfires and illuminations were exhibited and the result was considered a great and final triumph. But while these rejoicings were going on in Davenport, Dr. E. S. Barrows and John C. Higginson were on their way to Mineral Point, Wis., to see Gov. Dodge with documents sufficient to prove the frauds that had been perpetrated at Davenport. Upon this exposure the governor refused to issue his certificate of election.
Thus things remained until the legislature met in June at Burlington, at which time they passed an act for another election for the county seat between Davenport and Rockingham to be held in the following August. This act more particularly defined the manner in which the election should be carried on and voters were required to have a residence fo sixty days. The returns of this election were to be made by County Commissioners' Clerk E. Cook, Esq. to the sheriff of Dubuque county, and he was to count the votes in the presence of the county commissioners of that county. The place having the greatest number of votes was to be entered upon the books of the commissioners and such place to become the seat of justice.
At this election Rockingham feeling rather sore under the treatment of the last election, laid aside all conscientious scruples in relation to the whole matter, and chose to fight the enemy in their own way, well knowing that act by its wording did not require legal votes. The campaign opened with vigor. The note of preparation was sounded and contending parties summoned to the field. The county was canvassed and the unstable and wavering were brought into the ranks on one or the other side. Building lots were proffered and accepted for influence and for votes in both places. Col. Sullivan employed many extra hands around his mill, just about that time. The struggle was harder than before and the corruption much greater, though carried on in a different manner. The day of election came. The officers appointed to attend the polls were either not sworn at all or sworn illegally, so that in case of defeat a plea might be set up for a new election. The ballot box was stuffed. Illegal voting in various ways was permitted. Non-residents of Scott county swore that they were "old settlers," while the poll books and ballot box showed a list of names that no human tongue was ever found to answer to.
A great mystery seemed to hang over the Rockingham polls. They had been watched by the Davenport party, and yet when the ballot box was emptied of its contents, it showed most astonishing results. The committee sent down from Davenport to watch the polls could never explain where all the votes came from. The names in the box and on the poll books agreed, but the great difficulty seemed to be, that the settlement did not warrant such a tremendous vote. This, however, was afterwards explained as being in strict conformity with the oath taken by some of the judges or clerks of the election which was that they should "to the best of their abilty see that votes enough were polled to elect Rockingham the county seat."
The election being over, the returns were made to the sheriff of Dubuque county and counted in the presence of the commissioners as provided in the act, when a majority was found for Rockingham. The commissioners, for some cause, failed to make the entry upon their records as required by the act, but during the week took the liberty of "purging the polls," throwing out a sufficient number of votes to give Davenport the majority by two votes. One of the votes thus thrown out was that of John W. Brown, who settled on Black Hawk creek in 1835 and was still living there.
By this proceeding Davenport was declared the county seat. Whereupon the Rockingham party made application to the supreme court for a mandamus directed to the county commissioners of Dubuque county, requiring them to make the proper entry upon their records of the election in Scott county in accordance with the act of the legislature.
On the final hearing of the case the court decided that they had no original jurisdiction over the case, but at the request of the parties the case having been fully argued upon its merits, the court examined the whole question and gave an opinion, the effect of which was that Rockingham was the county seat.
The legislature being then in session at Burlington passed an act for another election. At this election there were two other points added to Davenport and Rockingham as aspirants for the county seat. One was "the geographical center," now Sloperville, and the other was a quarter section of land at her mouth of Duck creek called "Winfield." Before the election the geographical center was dropped. Davenport and Rockingham then commenced offering town lots and money for the use of the county in case the county seat should be located upon their ground. Thousands of dollars and donations of lots and lands were made and bonds given to secure it to the county in case of the selection of the point desired by either party. But at length Rockingham withdrew her claims upon condition that Davenport would build, free of expense to the county, a courthouse and jail similar to those in Rock Island, which she entered into bonds to do and the election was left for decision between Davenport and the "Duck creek corn field," as it was called.
The commissioners elected by the Rockingham party issued an order for contract to build a jail in Rockingham, as will be seen by the following notice published in the Iowa Sun of May 12, 1840:
NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS.
Sealed proposals will be received by the board of commissioners of Scott county for building a jail in the town of Rockingham until the first day of July next, on which day the proposals will be opened and the contract let.
A plan and specifications may be seen by calling on John H. Sullivan, Esq., commissioner to superintend the erections.
Proposals to be endorsed: "Proposals for erecting a jail in Scott county" and directed to "John H. Sullivan, Esq., commissioner to superintend the erection of a jail in Rockingham."
By order of the board of commissioners of Scott county, Rockingham, May 12, 1840.
EBENEZER COOK, Clerk.
Davenport gained the election, built the public buildings free of all cost to the county, according to her contract, and thus terminated one of the most exciting questions that had ever disturbed the quiet of our peaceful community.
The battle was long and spirited. The contending parties withdrew from the bloodless field with happy triumph, each having outgeneraled the other, and found that even when a victory was won, the laurels are not always sure. A peace treaty was held at the Rockingham hotel in the winter of 1840, where the most prominent actors in the past scenes met as mutual friends and buried the hatchet forever, ratifying the treaty, as it was called, by a grand ball, where more than forty couples mingled in the dance and seemed to forget at once all the strife and bickerings of the past, and seal their friendship anew with earnest and willing hearts.
During the whole of this controversy, singular as it may appear, the utmost good feeling and gentlemanly conduct prevailed. No personal feuds grew out of it, and to this day it is often the source of much merriment among the old settlers; and is looked upon only as the freaks and follies of a frontier life.
Rockingham was settled by a class of people noted for their social and friendly virtues. Nowhere in the west was there a more open-hearted and generous people. In sickness, of which there was much at an early day, all had sympathy and attention and the most cordial good feeling prevailed thoughout the whole community. They were united in every good work and enterprise and always ready to kindly act.
A ferry was established across the Mississippi river in the spring of 1837 connecting with the State road up the south side of Rock river, which brought much travel on that route.
In 1845 the town began to decline. Many of the inhabitants left and settled in other parts of the country, some in the city of Davenport. At present Rockingham is a deserted village, having but three or four families left in it, the buildings having been moved into the country for farm houses or to Davenport for dwellings.
The township like Rockingham has bluff lands that are somewhat broken near the river until we reach a point three miles above the city of Davenport where it opens out into a beautiful prairie called Pleasant Valley. The bluff or timber line between the river and prairie is from one to two miles wide, and was formerly well wooded.
By the "bluffs" of the Mississippi river we do not mean here that they are an abrupt or perpendicular ascent, but a gentle rise from the river or bottom lands, not so steep but roads may be constructed up almost any part of them. The general elevation of these bluffs or high lands is about 100 feet above the waters of the Mississippi, and in many places of very gentle ascent and covered with cultivated fields and gardens to their tops.
But Davenport township differs from all others upon the river in the beautiful, rolling prairies immediately back from the river afrer passing the bluffs. These prairies are not broken, as is common with those that approach so near the river, but are susceptible of the highest state of cultivation. Back of the city of Davenport the slope from the top of the bluff to Duck creek, covered as it is with gardens and fields, is one of uncommon beauty and richness, and the farms that now cover the prairie for seven or eight miles back cannot be excelled in any country.
Duck creek, which passes through the whole length of this township, rises in Blue Grass, some ten miles west of Davenport, and running east empties into the Mississippi, five miles above the city, its course being up stream, parallel with the Mississippi and only one or two miles distant from it. It affords an ample supply of water for stock, and is never dry in summer, being fed by numerous springs along its course. Its Indian name is Si-ka-ma-que Sepo, or Gar creek, instead of Duck creek.
But before entering in detail upon the settlement of this township, there is much to interest and engage the attention of thsoe who may desire a knowledge of its more remote history which although but little known is interesting and important. As has already been observed the lociality of Davenport and its surroundings have been the camping ground of the Indian from time immemorial. Marquette and Joliet the first discoverers of the country, 189 years ago, found the tribes of the Illini here (See Discoveries and Explorations of Mississippi River, by Shea, vol. I, page 30; also Annals of the West, p. 31). There were three villages or towns; the main one at which they landed was called "Pewaria" where we suppose Davenport now stands, as it is laid down upon Marquette's original map on the west side of the "River Conception," as he named the Mississippi. This map is a fac-simile of the autograph one by Father Marquette, at the time of his voyage down the river in June, 1673, and was taken from the original, preserved at St. Mary's college, Montreal, (See Explorations of the Mississippi River, by Shea, p. 280.)
Of the tribes found here by Father Marquette and among whom he established a mission, little is known, except his first account of them, as they have become extinct. The tribes of the "Illini" aboriginal, (Hall's Sketches of the West, vol. I, part ii, p. 142) seem to have been very numerous at that time, being scattered over the vast country lying between Lake Superior and the Mississippi, for we find that Marquette in his second voyage here to found the Mission (Shea, vol. I, p. 53) was accompanied part of the way by some "Illinois and Pottawattamies," "and we find them settled at that day upon the Illinois river at Peoria and LaSalle's trading post, and also on the Kankakee, and as low down on the Mississippi river as Cape Girardeau. They seemed to be less warlike than the Iroquois and the Wyandots, and roamed at pleasure unmolested over all lands and among all tribes.
The Sacs and Foxes came from the northern lakes, but at what date it is difficult to ascertain. The Foxes were originally called Outagamies, Schoolcraft, (vol. VI, p. 193). From what tribe they descended is not known. About the seventeenth century we find them with the Iroquois committing depredations upon the whites among the great lakes of the north.
"It has been inferred," says Schoolcraft, (vol. VI, p. 193) "from their language that they belonged to the Algoquin tribes, but at an early day were ejected from and forsaken by them." We find them in 1712 with the Iroquois making an atempt to destroy Detroit; being routed, they retired to a penisula in Lake St. Claire where they were attacked by the French and Indians and driven out of the country. We next find them on Fox river at Green bay. Their character seems to be perfidious. They were a constant annoyance to the trapper and the trader, ever creating difficulty and disturbance among the other tribes. "Having been defeated at the battle of 'Butte des Mortes,' or 'Hill of the Dead,' with great slaughter the remnants of the tribe fled to the banks of the Wisconsin." (Schoolcraft, vol. VI, p. 191.) We have no further notice of them until their settlement upon the Mississippi and its tributaries.
"The Sacs and Foxes took possession of the lands belonging to the Iowas, (Annals of the West, p. 713) whom they partly subjugated." "The Foxes had their principal village on the west side of the Mississippi at Davenport." "A small Sauk village was on the west side of the Mississippi, near the mouth of the Des Moines river." This was between 1785 and 1800. The Sauks were the original occupants of Saginaw on Lake Michigan, and were allies of the Foxes in 1712, in an attempt to drive the French out of Michigan.
Thus far in our history are we able to trace the immediate occupants of our soil prior to possession by the United States. The nearly French traders found a village of Foxes at Dubuque with the chief "Piea-Maskie," and another at the mouth of the Wabesse-pinecon river, a Sauk village, with "No-No" as chief. But a still larger village of Foxes was where the city of Rock Island now stands, called "Wa-pello's village," while the main Sauk village, "Black Hawk's town," was on Rock river between Camden and Rock Island. The traffic with the Indians was carried on by the Canadian French in Mackinaw boats. There were no established trading posts. The constant wars among the tribes continued to diminish their numbers. The Sioux, the Cippewas, the Winnebagoes and the Menomenies were the bitter enemies of the Sauks and Foxes. They were ever lurking upon each other's trail, and never letting slip an opportunity of gathering a few scalps in revenge for some fancied wrong.
In the spring of 1828 the Indian agent at Prairie du Chien by request of the Sioux, Winnebagoes and Menomenies, then allied in their petty wars, sent an invitation to the chiefs and braves of the Fox village at Dubuque to meet their enemies in council and forever bury the tomahawk, and settle all differences existing between the several tribes. The Sacs and Foxes were becoming reduced in numbers. Their faithless, perfidious and treacherous course of life among all the nations through which they had traveled, from the great lakes of the north to the valley of the Mississippi had followed them. Their warriors had been slain, and they felt their strength fading away. They were willing now to live on terms of peace with their neighbors and very readily accepted the invitation. Piea-Maskie was their chief. not suspecting the treachery of their enemies, all the principal chiefs and braves of their band left their village at Dubuque, for the treaty at Prairie du Chien.
The Sioux and Winnebagoes had deceived their agent and only laid a plot to draw the Foxes from their village for the purpose of entrapping them. They therefore sent spies down the river, just before the appointed time for the treaty, to watch the movements of the unsuspecting Foxes. On the second night after leaving Dubuque the party made an encampment a little below the mouth of the Wisconsin river on the eastern shore and while cooking their evening meal and smoking around their campfires without the least suspicion of danger, they were fired upon by more than 100 of their enemies; a war party that had been sent down for that purpose. But two of the whole number escaped. In the general massacre that followed these jumped into the river and swam to the western shore, carrying the sad news of the murder to their village. This produced consternation and alarm. Such treachery, even in Indian warfare, was startling. The chiefs and brave men had been slaughtered without mercy and an attack upon their village might be expected. Their leaders were dead, and dismay and confusion reigned throughout the camp.
The surviving warriors were assembled in council to select another chief. A half-breed of Scotch descent of much daring and bravery named Morgan was elected and named Ma-que-pra-um. A war party was soon formed under their new leader to march on the faithless Sioux and avenge the death of their chief and brave men. The preparations were soon completed. The plot was laid. All was ready. The council fire was again lighted and the warrior band, headed by their new chief sat around in sullen silence, painted and hung in all the paraphernalia of an Indian warrior. The wail and lamentation for the dead were changed to the deep, piercing yell of the savage. All the dark hatred of the Indian nature was depicted on the countenances of this revengeful group, and there went up a shout, the war cry of their tribe, such as the rugged cliffs and hills of Dubuque had never heard before or since. With blackened faces, chanting the death song, they entered their canoes and started on their mission of blood.
Arriving in the vicinity of Prairie du Chien, from the opposite bluffs the spies of the party discovered the encampment of the foe, almost directly under the guns of the fort. The setting sun was just gliding the walls of Fort Crawford and the sentinel on its ramparts had just been roused from his listlessness by the beat of the "tattoo;" the Indians lay indolently in their camp, little dreaming of the fate that awaited them. On seeing the position of the enemy the plan of attack was soon formed. The Foxes lay in ambush until the darkness of the night should shield them from observation. A sufficient number was left with the canoes with instructions to be a short distance below the fort. The warriors then stripped themselves of every incumbrance but the gridle containing the tomahawk and scalping knife, and went up the river some little distance, when, about midnight, they swam the Mississippi and stealthily crawled down upon the encampment.
All was darkness and silence! No sentinel watched the doomed camp! The smouldering fire of the first wigwam they reached revealed to them, as they threw aside the curtained door an Indian smoking his pipe in meditative silence. The leader chief seized him and without noise carried him outside the lodge and slew him without alarming the camp. The work of death went on from lodge to lodge in stillness and silence until the knife and hatchet had done their bloody work, severing not only the scalp but many of the heads of their chieftains.
The work was done and with one loud, wild whoop of satisfaction and revenge the fort was awakened, the sentry sent forth his note of alarm, while the assailants took to the canoes belonging to the enemy, rejoined the party, and with a yell of triumph were far down the Mississippi before the officers of the fort were in readiness to march. With the trophies of victory they soon reached their village, dancing the "scalp dance." Packing up their valuables the whole tribe deserted their town at Dubuque, descending the river and settled where the city of Davenport now stands.
This massacre took place within the memory of some now living here who related these facts to the author, and they still have a most vivid recollection of seeing the returning band as they came down past Rock Island with their canoes lashed side by side, the heads and scalps of their slaughtered enemies set upon poles still reeking with the blood of their victims. They landed amid the most deafening shouts of savage triumph and celebrated their victory with the Sacs, singing their war songs and exhibiting with savage ferocity the clotted scalps and ghastly faces of the treacherous Sioux, Winnebagoes and Menomenies, of whom they had killed seventeen of their best chiefs and warriors, besides other men, women and children of the tribe. From that event until the removal of the Sacs and Foxes this village was called "Morgan." after their chieftain.
This brief sketch of the history of our immediate vicinity before the dawn of civilization must suffice. The Indian who possessed the soil was here in his own right by whatever means he possessed it. The early missionaries had taught him the first principles of Christianity. He believed in the Great Spirit. He worshipped no idols, nor bowed to any superior but the great "Manito." They had their seers and prophets, and believed in a tutelar spirit. They made no sacrifice of human life to appease the wrath of an offended deity. They observed their fasts and holy days with blackened faces and with midnight lamentations. They believed in future of rewards but not of punishments, and were ever ready and proud to sing the death song even at the stake, that they might enter the elysian fields of the good hunting ground. They never blasphemed. There is no word in their language by which to express it.
The Indian's home is wherever the finger of destiny points; yet his sympathies often chuster deeply around the place of his nativity and the scenes of his earlier life. Thus was it with them when they came to leave their home upon As-sin-ne-Mee-ness. (Rock island) and the As-sin-ne-Se-po, (Rock river). In all their wanderings from the great lakes on the north to the Ohio river on the south and the Mississippi on the west they had never found a home like this. The bluffs and the islands furnished them animals for the chase, while the clear waters of the As-sin-ne-Se-po gave them the finest fish. The fields yielded them an abundance of the maize, the potato, beans, melons and pumpkins, and they were as happy as the roving spirit of their nature would allow, when in the spring of 1814 the white man came and with the din of preparation for work, the solitude was borken and the first sounds of civilization broke upon their ears.
Attempts were made at that time to plant forts along the Upper Mississippi. (Annals of the West. p. 743.) The only means of transportation was by armed boats. Maj. Zachary Taylor, (president of the United States in 1850) was in command of one of these boats. He left Cap au Gris (Cap au Grey) in August of this year with 334 men for the Indian towns at Rock island with instructions to destroy their villages and cornfields. (Annals. p. 744.) The Indians were located on both sides of the river "above and below the rapids." But in this attempt he was frustrated by the Indians receiving aid from neighboring tribes and some British allies then at Prairie du Chien. The battle was severe and lasted some three hours, commencing on the rapids above at Campbell's island (p. 745).
In May, 1816, the Eighth regiment and a company of riflemen in command of Col. Lawrence came up the river in boats and landed at the mouth of Rock river. After some examination the lower end of Rock island was fixed on for a site to build a fort. On the 10th of May they landed on the island. A store house was first put up, which was the first building ever on the island. A bake house was next built, and then Fort Armstrong was commenced. At this time there were about 10,000 Indians in and around the place on both sides of the river. Col. George Davenport, then attached to the army, was general superintendent. (See biog. Col. D. in Davenport Past and Present.) The Indians were much dissatisfied and complained that the noise made by the white man in building on the island would disturb the Great Spirit whose residence they believed to be in a cave at the foot of the island.
From this date until the Black Hawk war Rock island was only a frontier military post, and although this notice does not come strictly into the history of Scott county, yet so intimately are its early pioneer scenes connected with it, that it seems almost indispensable to make some mention of it. Tranquility had in a measure been restored between the whites and the Indians when the Black Hawk war broke out. A few remarks on the causes of this war may not be uninteresting.
Black Hawk had ever been dissatisfied with the treaty made at St. Louis in 1804 (American State Papers-16-247 and Land Laws, 514) by Gen. Harrison for their lands on Rock river, and upon a requisition of the United States to surrender these lands to the whites for settlement Black Hawk refused. He had been in the service of Great Britain in the War of 1812 and received pay and presents annually. He openly proclaimed himself and party British subjects. (Annals, p. 649.) At the treaty held at Portage des Sioux in 1814 to recognize and re-establish the treaty of Gen. Harrison which had been broken on the part of some of the Indians, by the part they took in the War of 1812, Black Hawk and his band refused to attend. It appears that he had continued depredations on the whites after peace was declared, and at this treaty, a "talk" at Portage des Sioux, the commissioners on the part of the United States required them to render up and restore all such property as they had plundered or stolen from the whites, and in default thereof to be cut off from their proportion of the annuities, which they were to receive for their lands by the treaty at St. Louis in 1804. This was one of the causees that led to the Black Hawk war. The disaffected portion of the tribe under Black Hawk were for resistance, while Keokuk, the chief of the peace party, had signed the articles of treaty with his principal braves.
There was a general dissatisfaction among all the tribes of the Upper Mississippi at this time. In the transportation of military stores and traders' goods in boats the whites were often attacked and they had to go armed. Col. Taylor had an engagement in person with several hundred Indians among the islands just below this city. Being overpowered by numbers he was obliged to retire with a small loss.
In the treaty which ceded the lands of Rock river to the United States it was stipulated that the Indians should retain possession of them until they were brought into market or sold for actual settlement. This gave to the Indian as much right as a fee simple title until 1829, at which time the lands were sold, and Black Hawk's tower between Camden and Rock Island passed into the hands of the whites. On his return from hunting in the spring of 1830 he was informed for the first time that his home had passed into other hands, and that he must remove with the rest of his tribe west of the Mississippi. This he refused to do in the strongest terms. He visited Canada to see his British Father, and Gen. Cass at Detroit, who advised him if he owned the land to remain where he was, that he could not be disturbed. (Wilkie's Davenport Past and Present, p.23.)
All efforts made by Keokuk or his white friends to induce Black Hawk on his return to remove west were unavailing. He is said to have exhibited more attachment for his native land at this time than ever before or after. In the spring of 1831 his people commenced planting corn at his village and the whites who had laid claim to it ploughed it up. This aroused all the native fire and indignation of Black Hawk. He at once formed his plan of resistance. He threatened the whites. They became alarmed. The little fort at Rock island was too weak at such a remote point and Gen. Gaines ordered ten companies of militia to Fort Armstrong. A conference was had with Black Hawk, but he still refused to leave. The troops marched upon his town, and he retired across the river and located his village where the farm of the Hon. E. Cook was formerly, just below the city of Davenport. Another talk was then had, and Black Hawk agreed not to cross the river without permission, but the following spring he is found pressing his way up Rock river with his whole band of warriors, men, women and children, expecting to be joined by other tribes and his friends the British allies. But in this he was disappointed, and being pursued by General Atkinson with 600 regulars, he fled for the wilds of Wisconsin, committing depredations and massacres along his route. The war was now begun in good earnest.
On the 15th of September, 1832, the Black Hawk war being ended a treaty was held with the Sacs and Foxes by Gen. Scott upon the ground now occupied by the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad company in this city. At this treaty a small strip of land only was ceded to the United States, called the "Black Hawk purchase." It lay along the Mississippi river, beginning at a point on the boundary line between Missouri and Iowa which is now the southeast corner of Davis county, and running thence to a point on Cedar river near the northeast corner of Johnson county, thence in a northwest direction to a point on the south boundary of the Neutral Grounds, then occupied by the Winnebagoes, and thence with said line to a point on the Mississippi river a short distance above Prairie du Chien, it being only about sixty miles in the widest place and contained about 6,000,000 acres. The Indians peaceably removed from it on the 1st of June, 1833, and thus gave to the whites free access to this beautiful land.
We now enter into details upon the first settlements in and around the city of Davenport. The beauty of its location has been often descanted upon. It needs no pen of mine to describe its loveliness, nor the rich and varied landscape that surrounds it. But there are thoughts that crowd upon the memory as we gaze upon its unparalleled growth and importance. Le us review for a moment, before we trace its history.
Twenty-seven years ago the first cabin was erected by the white man. The retreating footsteps of the red man were still heard over these bluffs. The poles of his wigwam still stuck along the banks of this noble river. The graves of his people were still fresh upon the brow of our bluffs, and the cornhills and playgrounds of his children have been covered over with the habitations of man!
This mighty river that once bore to our shores the frail bark of a Marquette and Joliet has become the thoroughfare of nations. Where the light canoe of the savage once glided in safety, the Scu-ti-chemon, (fire canoe or steamboat) of the white man now floats with majesty and splendor, and this magnificent river has become the highway of a mighty nation. The Mackinaw trading boat with its French voyageur has left its moorings on As-sin-ne-Man-ess, (Rock island,) and old Fort Armstrong that had stood like a watchful sentinel on the jutting rocks of the island for more than 40 years has been burned down by sacrilegious hands.
In the spring of 1836 John Wilson, or "Wild Cat Wilson," as he was called, who was an old "claim-maker" (he and his boys having made and sold the one where Rockingham was located and one where is now the farm of Judge Weston,) commenced making a claim on the edge of the prairie on the Blue Grass road from Davenport, where the farm of Mr. Depro now is, afterwards the Dr. Bardwell place. The Indians who were then living on the Iowa river frequently came in here to the trading house of Col. Davenport, on Rock island. The trail passed directly across where Wilson was making his claim. He was cutting trees for logs and had some two or three yoke of oxen hauling them together for the house, when a company of Indians came along on their way to the trading house. They were a part of the disaffected band of Black Hawk and as usual felt cross and bitter toward the white man whom they looked upon as an intruder. They ordered Wilson to desist from making any improvements: told him that he should not live there and that he must leave. "Old Wild Cat" who was used to Indians, with whom he often had difficulties and most probably with some of this very band, took very little heed of what they said, but urged on his work without any fear of trouble from them. The Indians after remaining at Davenport and on the island for a few days left for their home full of whiskey and ripe for a quarrel. On arriving at Wilson's they rode up to the spring near which the house was building (the same that now stands there, used as a stable). They got off and turned their ponies loose, laid off their blankets and deliberately prepared for a fight. Wilson and his two sons were all there were of the whites. Wilson was a short distance in the woods, chopping. The attack was made upon James, who was driving the team. He ran for his father and Samuel. On their arrival the old man who never feared Indian or white man, bear or wild cat, pitched in for a general fight. The Indians, some twelve or fourteen in number, soon had "Old Wild Cat" down, when one of the boys not having any weapon, unyoked an ox, and with the bow knocked down two or three of the Indians, which released the father, who springing to his feet, caught his axe which he had dropped in the first onset, and turning upon them, he struck an Indian in the back, splitting him open from the neck nearly to the small of the back. This dampened the ardor of the savages for a moment, when Wilson calling on his boys to fight and raising the "Wild Cat" yell he made at them again, when they gathered up the wounded Indian and fled. He soon died, and the next Sunday the Indians gathered in great nembers in the neighborhood of Wilson's, with threatening aspects.
Wilson with his boys and a few neighbors was forted in John Friday's cabin where the Indians kept them nearly all day. A runner was sent to Mr. LeClaire and Col. Davenport, who settled the matter with the Indians and cautioned them about traveling across the lands of "Old Wild Cat," telling them of his threats, that he would scalp the first "redskin" he caught upon that trail. The Indians made a new trail from Davenport, running farther north through Little's Grove, and were never known to pass Wilson's after that affair.
Wilson, and his son Samuel was hunting and trapping in the autumn of 1840 on the "neutral grounds" belonging to the Winnebagoes when a part of some thirty Indians fell upon him and robbed him of everything he had except a little clothing. Whether he was known by these Indians or whether some of the Sacs and Foxes were present, he never knew; but they took his team with all his effects and followed him out of their country. Mr. Wilson died a few years since near Moscow on the Cedar river in this state.
George L. Davenport, Esq., made the first claim in Davenport township immediately after the treaty in 1832, which was before the time expired that the Indians were to give possession to the whites (June 1, 1833). Mr. Davenport has been familiar with the Indians from boyhood, was adopted into the Fox tribe while young and had no playmates in early life but Indian boys. He learned to speak their language and was an expert archer, swimmer and racer, ever ready to join in all their sports, and a general favorite with the whole tribe. This explains why he was permitted to go upon the lands while others were kept off until the next year; for many emigrants took possession in the autumn of 1832 after the treaty, but were driven off and had to await the time specified in the treaty for possession, viz. the 1st of June, 1833.
There is therefore an error in the history of Buffalo township as to the first claim and also the first ferry. Capt. Clark might have established the first public ferry, but Col. Davenport had a flatboat and used it for ferry purposes as early as 1827, running between the island and main shore, carrying pack horses, cattle and goods for the Indian trade. He also kept a wood yard on the island after steamboats began to run here, and brought wood from Maple island and other places.
The claim upon which Davenport now stands was first made in the spring of 1833 by R. H. Spencer and a Mr. McCloud. A difficulty arose between these men in respect to the claim or some portion of it, when to end the dispute Antoine LeClaire purchased from both their entire interest for $100. This was the first transaction in real estate in the city of Davenport, some of which has since been sold as high as $200 a foot. This claim comprised that portion of the city lying west of Harrison street, being outside of LeClaire's reserve. He fenced in and cultivated a portion of it near the bluff embracing the ground now occupied by the courthouse and jail. The early settlers will very readily call to mind the natural state of the ground in that portion of the city lying below Western avenue. Where Washington square is now enclosed filled up and beautified there was a quagmire that extended westward between Second and Fourth streets to the limit of the city. This slough that headed in Washington square was caused by springs, forming soft, spongy ground, impassable for man or beast; and until 1845 there were no streets opened nor crossing from Second to Fourth below Western avenue. Some of the residents of 1837 and 1838 will recollect cattle miring in this slough, and one or two instances in which they died in it. This portion of our city is now largely built up by the Germans who mostly reside in the western portion of our city, and whose industry, energy and taste have turned this lowland into beautiful gardens and covered it with homes and workshops.
In the autumn of 1835 Antoine LeClaire, Maj. Thomas Smith, Maj. Wm. Gordon, Philip Hambaugh, Alex. W. McGregor, Levi S. Colton, Capt. James May with Col. George Davenport, met at the house of the latter gentleman on Rock island to consult as to the propriety of laying out a town upon Mr. LeClaire's claim on the west bank of the Mississippi river. The agruments offered in favor of such a project were: the unexampled fertility of the soil, the necessity for a town at some future day at the foot of the rapids, the unrivaled beauty of the location, its healthy position, etc. This meeting resulted in the purchase from Mr. LeClaire of all the land west of Harrison street running along the bluff as far west as Warren street and thence sought to the river at a cost of $2,000. The town was named after Col. George Davenport. It was surveyed by Maj. Gordon in the spring of 1836, who is said to have performed the service in less than a day with his mental vision very much obscured by a certain decoction called by the Indians scuti-appo, the "white man's fire water." From some of the lines which I have had occasion to trace since I have never doubted the assertion.
The first improvements within the present city limits were made by Mr. LeClaire upon the ground now occupied by the M. & M. R. R. depot, in the spring of 1833. But nothing in the way of farming or more substantial improvements took place till May, 1836, when Dr. James Hall and his two eldest sons took a contract from Mr. LeClaire to break a certain amount of land upon his "reserve" as it was called. This tract for breaking lay east of Brady street, beginning near the present corner of Brady and Second, extending up Second to Rock Island, and as far back as Sixth street. This was contracted for at $5 an acre except a certain portion which the Halls were to have free of rent and $2.50 an acre for breaking, which they planted in potatoes and corn, obtaining the seed from Fort Armstrong, paying $1.25 a bushel for potatoes. The next year this same ground was rented to the Halls for $15 an acre, upon which they sowed some wheat and raised a crop.
The first public house or tavern was built upon the corner of Front and Ripley streets, in 1836 by Messrs. LeClaire and Davenport, and opened by Edward Powers from Stephenson. The next year it passed into the hands of John McGregor from Kentucky.
In June, 1836 a very important personage arrived, bringing with him all the ingredients of a pioneer whiskey shop, the first introduced upon the soil of Scott county. It was Capt. John Litch, from Newburyport, N. H. He had been a sea-faring man, was far advanced in life, of a jovial disposition, full of anecdotes and ever ready to toss off a glass of grog with anyone who desired to join him. His log shanty stood on Front street below the subsequent site of Burnell, Gillett & Co.'s mill. Being in possession of the captain's account book, or log, as he called it, it may interest some to make a few extracts; particularly as to the cost of material and labor at that day for building. His cabin was about 16x20 feet. It was afterwards enlarged.
But flour sold as high as $16 per barrel this year; pork 16 cents a pound and corn $2 a bushel.
The eccentric captain dealt in almost anything and everything that came alone, as may be seen by his "log book," from the fine furs of the beaver and the otter down to the wolf and polecat. In the provision line he kept everything that could be had from pork and flour down to pumplins and turnips, but the great attraction, however, the great leading article was whiskey. The captian, too, had such a nice, peculiar way of making the "critter" palatable by various other ingredients that his punches, cobblers, juleps and cocktails, all made from whiskey were much sought after; and his store became the resort of not only those who wished to purchase the necessaries of life, but the professional man, the politician, the claim speculator, the old discharged soldier and the Indian, all met here upon one common level, and talked over all matters of interest, under the balmy influence of the captain's good cheer. His was the only store, tavern, saloon or public place of entertainment in the town or county, and was as much, perhaps, to many a resort of necessity as a place to quench thirst. Captain Litch died on the 5th of March, 1841, aged fifty-five years, with the stigma of having planted the first whiskey shop upon the soil of Scott county.
A ferry across the Mississippi was established in the year 1836, by Mr. LeClaire, who was appointed postmaster and carried the mail in his pocket while ferrying. It is said that his percentage due on his first quarter was 75 cents. The ferry soon passed into the hands of Capt. John Wilson who ran a flatboat with oars until 1841, when it was supplied with a horse ferry, and in 1843 by a steam ferry boat. Capt. John Wilson, who for so many years owned and personally had charge of the ferry, was a native of New Hampshire. He purchased the ferry privilege of Mr. LeClaire in the spring of 1837, although he had been engaged in it the year previous as a special partner. The rights and privileges for ferry purposes conveyed to Capt. Wilson by Mr. LeClaire were one mile up and down the river each way from the ferry house, then standing at the foot of Main street, for the sum of $1,000. Many will remember the faithful services of the old, experienced ferryman, who in storm or tempest, night or day, was always at his post, in summer on the water, in winter on the ice, ready to do good service, ever meeting you with a smile, and one hand always extended with his fingers playing to receive "that dime." He died of cholera in 1853.
The first white male child born in Davenport was a son of Levi S. Colton, in the autumn of 1836, who died at the Indian village on the Iowa river, in August, 1840. The first female child was a daughter of D. C. Eldridge, still living. Alexander W. McGregor opened the first law office in 1836. E. M. Gavitt, a Methodist minister, preached the first sermon in the house of Mr. D. C. Eldridge, corner of Front and Riply streets. There were seven deaths this year, the first being that of Mrs. Tanneyhill. She was buried upon the brow of the bluff where the first Baptist church now stands, on Sixth and Main streets, where a place had been selected as the burial grounds of the town. Others were buried in Mr. LeClaire's private ground, corner of Sixth and LeClaire streets. This spot is now covered with improvements (the graves all having been removed,) and is occupied by the family residence of W. Barrows, esq. In his garden was buried Dr. Emerson, the owner of the celebrated Dred Scott, who accompanied his master to this territory while he was in the army at Fort Armstrong, and it was upon this ground that the suit was predicated for Dred's freedom.
In September of this year, 1836, a treaty was held with the Sac and Fox Indians on the banks of the river above the city where the house of Mrs. Brabrook now stands. Governor Dodge was commissioner on the part of the United States to secure a tract of land upon the Iowa river called "Keokuk's Reserve." There were present at the treaty about 1,000 chiefs, braves and warriors, and it was the last assemblage of the kind ever held here to treat for the slaes of their lands. Mr. D. C. Eldridge was present and relates the scenes at this treaty. Keokuk was head chief and principal speaker on this occasion. Black Hawk was present, but was not allowed to participate in the treaty, standing alone outside of the groups with his son. Nau-she-as-kuk and a few other friends were silent spectators. This is the last time the old chief ever visited this vicinity which to him had been one of the dearest spots on earth, and around which his affections had clustered from boyhood. He was dressed on this occasion in the white man's style, having on an old black frock coat, and a drab hat with a cane, the very picture of disappointed ambition. Like the withered oak of his native forest, torn and shattered by the lightening's blast, the winter of age upon his brow, and his feeble tottering steps pressing the soil he so much loved, he stood, a prepresentative, a noble relic of his once powerful tribe, in meditative, dismal silence. What thrilling recollections, what heart stirring scenes, must have passed through the mind of the aged patriarch of three score years, and what deep emotion must have filled his soul as he reflected upon the past, and desired to unburden his crowded memory of the wrongs of his people toward him. But he was not allowed to speak. He had made a misstep in the great drama of life. He was fallen chieftain. His proud nature would not allow him to yield and take a lowly seat in the councils of his people, and so he stood, the silent observer of the final contract that tore him from the last foothold on the hunting grounds of his fathers. The saddened memory of years struggled for utterance, but the great chieftain smothered it with stoical indifference. He died on the Des Moines river, October 3, 1839.
The varied accounts of the death and burial of Black Hawk are such as to induce the author to say that he was not "buried in a sitting posture in the banks of the Des Moines river, where he could see the canoes of his tribe as they passed to the good hunting ground," as was stated in some accounts at the time of his death. Neither was he buried as Schoolcraft says: (vol. VI, p. 554, 1857,) "with all the rights of sepulture which are only bestowed upon their most distinguished men," and that "they buried him in his war dress in a sitting posture on an eminence, and covered him with a mound of earth." He sickened and died near Iowaville, the site of his old town, on the Des Moines river, in Wapello county of this state; and was buried close by, like Wapello, another chief of his tribe, after the fashion of the whites. His grave was some forty rods from the river, at the upper end of the little prairie bottom where he lived. While performing the public surveys of this district in 1843, one of my section lines ran directly across the remains of the wigwam in which this great warrior closed his earthly career, which I marked upon my map, and from his grave took bearings to suitable landmarks, recorded them in my regular field-notes and transmitted them to the surveyor general. Black Hawk's war club was then standing at the head of his grave, having been often renewed with paint and wampum, after the fashion of his tribe. At a later period, it is said that a certain Dr. ____, of Warsaw, Illinois, disinterred the body, and took the bones to Warsaw. Gov. Lucas, learning this, required their return to him, when they were placed in the hall of the Historical society at Burlington, and finally consumed by fire with the rest of the society's valuable collections.
At the close of this year, 1836, there were some six or seven houses in the original limits of the town, and the population did not exceed 100, all told; while Stephenson had some 500 inhabitants. There was but one main street or public road leading through the town. This was up and down the river bank, or Front street. An Indian trail which afterward became a public road, led out of the city nearly where Main street now is, passing by the corners of Sixth and Main, following the top of the ridge near the present residence of Mr. Newcomb and running across the college grounds intersecting Main street on the west side of the square. Another Indian trail leading from the town was from the residence of Mr. LeClaire where the depot now stands passing up the bluff where LeClaire street now crosses Sixth and entered Brady opposite the college grounds. Although a treaty had been made with the Indians and they had sold their lands, yet they still lingered around the place so dear to them. The trading house of Col. Davenport was still kept open on the Island and furnished supplies for them.
No portion of the great west has the Indian been so loth to leave as the hunting and fishing grounds of Rock island and vicinity. It is said to have been one of the severest trials of Black Hawk's life to bid adieu to the home of his youth and the graves of his ancestors. When carried past Rock island a prisoner after his defeat and capture at the battle of Bad axe he is said to have wept like a child. The powder horn worn by him at his last battle has recently been obtained from an old pioneer soldier of the Black Hawk war and presented to the State Historical society by R. M. Prettyman, Esq., of Davenport. For many years after the removal of the Sacs and Foxes to their new home beyond the Mississippi, parties of them would pay an annual visit and even now one sees the aged warrior walking over our city, pointing out to his children places of interest now covered by the wigwams of the white man. Even the fish taken in the As-sin-ne-Se-po (Rock river) were considered by the Indian better than any caught in the Mississippi or elsewhere. When the order came for their removal it was with bowed heads and lingering steps they took up their line of march toward the setting sun, the children of destiny, a persecuted race, seeking an asylum from the opppression of the white man.
In May, 1837, a council of chiefs was held at the trading house of Col. Davenport, on Rock island, to consider the invitation sent to them by President Van Buren for a deputation to visit him at Washington. At this "talk," Keokuk, as chief of the Sacs and Foxes was present, and a large number of underchiefs or braves. Among them were Wapello, Poweshiek, Pash-apa-ho, Nau-she-us-kuk, son of Black Hawk, and many others. At the same time a band of Pottawattamie Indians, then on their way to their lands on the Missouri river were encamped on Black Hawk creek, some three miles below this city. They had stopped to rest and visit their friends, the Sacs and Foxes. The head men of this band were invited to sit in council. I had the pleasure of being present with many other strangers by invitation of Col. Davenport. This band of Pottawattamies had been encamped for some time and had annoyed the few settlers along the river and bluffs by stealing their hogs, an article, by the way, that an Indian is very fond of. The inhabitants had sent to the old fort at Montrose, where a few soldiers were still quartered for assistance to remove these Indians. As the council was about assembling on the island there appeared upon this side of the river a company of dragoons. The lieutenant in command was soon sent across the river, and by invitation took a seat in council. His errand was soon made known, when one of the Pottawattamie chiefs arose and with much warmth denied the charge of stealing. He was told by the officer that he must prepare to march next day. But he told the lieutenant in insolent language that he would not go, that he had no provisions, that the agent had cheated him out of the annumities, and that the whole federal combination was heap of impositions. He was soon silenced by the agent, and in a more subdued manner, after being instructed to go by the fort and get provisions, he told the lieutenant that apart of his band was encamped on the Wabesipinecon river, and that if he would go up after them, he would be ready to accompany them on his return. The young officer, not being up to Indian tricks, left immediately for the "Wapsie," in pursuit of Indians. Upon his return a few days after he very frankly acknowledged that he was "sold" and on looking for his friend the chief, he only found the smouldering ashes of his campfire, and has never probably had the pleasure of meeting him since.
After this little business of the lieutenant was concluded, the council was opened in due form by smoking the calument. Keokuk, as usual, was the princiapl speaker. He first called an aged warrior or chief who made a few remarks on being again permitted to meet their white friends. He was followed by Keokuk, who slowly rose to his feet, letting drop his blanket from his shoulders, displaying his calico shirt with the necklace of grizzly bears' claws hung around his neck, and a proper quantity of wampum. His manner was dignified. All eyes were turned upon him, and a smile of satisfaction, if such a thing could be seen on the face of an Indian, could be traced, as this great orator began his speech. He alluded in brief terms to the friendly relations existing between the president and himself, was happy to hear from, and much pleased with, the invitation from him for a visit. He then entered upon the importance of more material aid from his great father. This was done, probably to please his people and maintain his popularity. As he warmed up with the subject he became animated and even eloquent. His speech was clear and distinct. He spoke fast, so much so, that Mr. LeClaire, the interpreter, had frequently to stop him. His lofty bearing, his earnest, intelligent look and his well-timed gestures, all told that he was one of nature's orators. His own people had ever looked upon him as a man destined to rule. So powerful in argument was he that he has been known by his eloquence in debate to completely turn the multitude from their first purpose. He rose from obscurity to the chieftainship of his tribe by the force of his talents, and was often charged by his red brethren with having white blood in his veins. There is a mystery hanging over the death of this celebrated chief.
The Sacs and Foxes on their removal from here first settled on the Iowa river; and after the second purchase they removed to the Des Moines river, where they remained until the last sale of their lands in Iowa when the government provided them with a home in Kansas. They are now located on the waters of the Neosha and Osage rivers, southwest of Fort Leavenworth, near the Shawnee and Kansas Indians, and have a tract of country embracing some 435,000 acres. There are about 1,600 in both tribes, and draw from the United States an annuity of $50,000 for their support. They have a large amount of farming lands opened for cultivation and an experienced farmer to teach them agriculture, but from the annual reports of the Indian bureau we learn that their progress is slow, and their unwillingness to send their children to school exhibits a decided dislike for civilization and improvement. Their proud, independent, restless spirit has led them several times since their location beyond the Missouri to get up war parties for a descent upon the Sioux or other tribes, but their agent has been as prompt to put them down. They have never struck a blow since their residence there. Vast sums of money have been expended on these Indians to civilize and Christianize them, to little purpose. Some difficulties have arisen among themselves, since the death of Keokuk, but of what nature we are not able to relate.
Keokuk remained with them to the time of his death. Suspicion rested on him in the minds of some of his tribe of unfairness in the distribution of the annuities. He is said to have had a quarrel with Wai-sau-me-sau, a son of Black Hawk, on the subject of government annuities. Keokuk was charged with partiality toward his own friends and the whites. An effort was made to elect a new disbursing chief, when the whites interfered, and no change was effected.
At the annual payment of the annuities on October, 1841, the long smothered vengeance in the hearts of Black Hawk's sons broke out against Keokuk for his treatment of their father after his downfall, and one account at the time stated that he was stabbed by Wai-sau-me-sau. Another is that he was poisoned, but certain it is that he died very suddenly. Nau-she-as-kuk, the other son of Black Hawk, died at their reservation in Kansas, 1856, of delirium tremens.
There are other incidents that occurred during the year 1836 and prior that might be worthy of note. One that I recollect was a fight which took place among a band of Sacs and Foxes who were encamped on the bank of the river just below Cannon's mills. They had been supplied, as usual, with liquor by that unprincipled wretch, the frontier whiskey dealer, until all were drunk, when a general quarrel ensued; knives and tomahawks were at once resorted to and many were cut severely while two were killed outright. In ordinary circumstances the murderer must answer with his life, and if he flees, the friends and relatives of the deceased must pursue and bring the offender to justice. The chief of the tribe requires his surrender at the hands of his relatives or his tribe, but in a drunken frolic when one is killed no one is charged with the murder. The Indian is not to blame. It is set down to the whiskey. It is the "che-moco man's scuti-appo." or white man's firewater, that has done the deed, and no sacrifice of blood is required to avenge the wrong.
In 1841 while making some explorations in the Sioux and Winnebago Indian country, upon the head waters of the Waubsipinicon, Cedar and Iowa rivers, now Minnesota, I stayed a few days at the village of "Chos-chunka," or Big Wave, a chief of the Winnebagoes. One beautiful moonlight night the Indian children had been playing with unusual life and gayety, the young men and maidens had roamed at large around the village, and the sports and moonlight games had made the wild woods echo with the rude and sometimes boisterous mirth of these sons of the forest. Our host had pointed to our lodgings in one end of his wigwam and all had retired when there came over the stillness of the night one of those Indian yells so familiar to many of our frontier villages. I knew it well, and as two drunken Indians approached the village, a stir among its inmates was heard, as one and another crept from his lodge to hear the news from the trading house or some border whiskey shop. Chos chunka turned on his bed and with his long pipe stem stirring the embers he soon kindled a blaze, lit his pipe and fell back upon his pallet. There was now a glimmering light from the rekindled embers, so that from beneath my blanket I could see all that passed within the wigwam. The noise increased. Footsteps were heard passing by our lodge; it was evident the Indians were gathering for a "big drunk." Soon the bear skin door of the lodge was pushed aside and one of the wives of the chief who had been absent a few moments entered and whispered something in his ear. She went away and the chief resumed his pipe and lounged upon his bearskin bed. The wife soon returned, bearing with her a bottle containing the accursed poison which she presented to Chos-chunka. He refused and bidding her go away he remained upon his bed. But he seemed uneasy and at last arose and sat by the fire. Again his squaw brought the fatal bottle, of which she had evidently tasted, and again he refused it, when she threw her arms around his neck and placed the bottle to his lips. His resolutions were all overcome, and he drank, then bade her begone. But the fatal draught had been taken and its fire was fast passing through his veins. The noise in the adjoining lodge where the festive board was spread had now became loud and boisterous. All at once the chief threw aside his pipe and rushed out of his lodge.
I spoke to my companions, A. W. Campbell and the interpreter, when we at once arose and made our way out to see the condition of things among the Indians. I had messages and a pass or permit to visit the country from Gov. Chambers, endorsed by the Indian agent, Rev. David Lowrey, at Ft. Atkinson on Turkey river, and well knew that under ordinary circumstances I was safe while a guest of the chief and under the protection of his lodge. I well knew, too, that it was the courtesy due to us that so long prevented him joining the festive party, for while he was struggling so hard between whiskey and politeness he turned many sorrowful and imploring glances toward our silent couch. We spent but a short time looking into the lodge where the drunken scene was fast preparing for a bloody ending. As we stood there viewing the circle of Indians within, a dog ran across the ring, when a drunken Indian struck him in the ribs. In a moment the owner grappled with the offender, and soon the melee became general. On all such occasions every weapon of a deadly sort is hid by the squaws before the commencement of the frolic. But in the tussle about the dog they kicked from under the matting a hatchet. The infuriated savage caught it with all the avidity of an avenger of blood, and with one stroke cut the scalp from the other's head from the forehead to the eye. One single yell was heard, and with a rush one side of the wigwam was carried away, and the howling of the dogs and the crying of the squaws soon brought the whole village together. As the motley group poured out of the dilapidated wigwam we soon found our way back to the lodge of the chieftain and snugly ensconced ourselves in bed, covered up head and ears, peep-holes excepted. In a few moments Chos-chunka came in with nine of his braves and friends. The usual circle was soon formed and the bottle began to pass, but in the midst of their revelry the chief would often caution them about too much noise, as he had distinguished friends visiting him and they must not be disturbed. That they were "big captains" and making a picture of their country to show his great father, the president. (I was surveying for my map of Iowa, published in 1845.) In their drunken carousal I could see that same low, vulgar, nonsensical merriment which is often exhibited in the white man on similar occasions. They told their love stories and sang their bacchanalian songs, until one after another fell over and were left to sleep away the fumes of that drink which has carried thousands of these ignorant savages to the grave.
An Indian, when he once tastes liquor, never leaves it until he is drunk or it gives out. He comprehends no other use of it but to stupefy. It is no welcome beverage to him, for they do not love the taste of it, but its effects. The palate of the Indian is as little vitiated as that of a child. They use no salt nor seasoned food, and their taste is keen and remarkably sensitive. I have seen the Indian in apparent agony by drinking whiskey, which is generally well spiced with red pepper and gums to keep up its strength, and I have seen the young man and maiden held by main strength while the whiskey had been administered to teach them to drink.
The next morning after the affray above narrated I visited the lodge of the wounded Indian. He refused to sullen silence to converse upon the subject, and would only say, "too much scuti-appo." No hard feelings were entertained towards the offender; all was charged to the whiskey account.
Among the settlers at the close of the year 1836 were Antoine LeClaire, Philip Hambaugh, Lewis Hebert, George L. Davenport, L. S. Colton, G. C. R. Mitchell, Maj. Wm. Gordon, D. C. Eldridge, Dr. Emerson, James and Robert McIntosh, James M. Bowling, Ira Cook, Sr., and his sons, Wm. L., Ebenezer, John P. and Ira Cook, Jr., Adam and John Noel, John Armil and sons, James and Walter Kelly, Dr. James Hall and sons, Alexander W. McGregor, his father and brother, John and David LeClaire, Wm. R. Showmaker, Edward Powers, James R. Stubbs, __________ Tannerhill, William Watts, Frazer Wilson and others.
There were only seven houses or cabins erected at the close of the year, most of them very rude structures, built of poor material and but cheerless abodes to meet the coming winter. One of these, the first public house built in the town, was situated at the corner of Front and Ripley streets erected by Col. Davenport and Mr. LeClaire, and kept at first by Edward Powers, now of Rock Island, called the "Davenport Hotel," but afterwards enlarged and known as the "U. S. Hotel." The building is still standing.
The log house of Capt. Litch, the first whiskey shop, has been torn away to give place to more substantial buildings. The building erected by Mr. Shoals, afterwards known as the "Dillon house," stood on the bank of the river, on the next block below Burnell, Gillett & Co.'s mill. This has been destroyed by fire. The rest of the landmarks of 1836 are still standing, decaying witnesses of the early trials of the pioneers of Scott county.
The population did not exceed 100. But little ground had been broken and very little grain of any kind raised. Supplies had to be obtained from Cincinnati and St. Louis. The fort on Rock island had been abandoned, and the soldiers removed. The morning reveille and the evening tattoo had ceased to beat, and old Fort Armstrong that had afforded shelter, and protection to many of the immigrants was deserted; and as the chilling blast of December fell upon the unprotected settlers many an anxious heart was saddened by the prospect of the coming winter, and many a tear wiped in silence as their thoughts went back to those halcyon days of unalloyed happiness in the land of their nativity.
The survey of the public lands in Iowa began in the autumn of 1836. Scott county survey was made by A. Bent and son from Michigan, United States deputies from the surveyor general's office at Cincinnati. The surveys of this county were completed in March, 1837. It contains 280,516 acres.
All lands from the departures of the Indians until they were offered for sale by the government were under the rule of "squatter sovereignty." Any man had a right to select for himself any portion of the public domain not otherwise appropriated for his home, and by blazing the lines bounding his "claim," in timber or staking it out on the prairie he was legally possessed of title. Societies were formed, or "claim clubs" who organized themselves to protect one another in their rights. The secretary kept a book in which all claims, had to be recorded. A territorial law existed making contracts for claims valid, and notes given for such were collectible by law. Great speculations were carried on by pioneer "claim makers," a class of men who no sooner than they had sold one claim to some newcomer would proceed to make another and commence improvements. These claims were respected and held in peace (when properly taken) until the sale of the lands by government, when the owners were permitted to purchase them at the minimum price of $1.25 per acre.
During the fishing season of this spring among other neighboring tribes that often visited the Sacs and Foxes to fish in the waters of the As-sin-ne-Sepo, (Rock river,) a small band of Winnebagoes were encamped on Rock island. As usual the younger and more profligate of the tribe were hanging around the groceries in Stephenson and Davenport, bartering such articles as they possessed for whiskey. On one occasion two young Indians, being crazed by too large potations from the whiskey bottle, quarreled, and one struck the other, an indiginity seldom submitted to by an Indian, drunk or sober. The next day they met upon the little willow island just below the town of Davenport, whether by accident or by common consent is not known, but the quarrel was renewed and carried to such an extent that one of them was killed. No whites were present, and various reports were made by the Indians as to the manner of his death. One account of the affair was that the difficulty was settled by a duel, after the fashion of the white man, one of the parties using a shotgun, the other a rifle. If it was a duel, it is the first on record of having taken place among the Indians of the northwest. The shotgun hero was buried in one of the mounds then existing on the banks of the river below the city on the farm of Ira Cook, Esq., the site of Black Hawk's last village. There was another Indian buried in the same mound who died at the same time, having been bitten by a rattlesnake while lying drunk one night. They were placed four feet apart facing each other buried in dirt as high up as the waist, holding in one hand the paint, and in the other the tomahawk. The graves were surrounded with poles or pickets some ten feet high, and set so close that no animal of any size could get to the bodies.
The survivor fled to his home in Shab-bo-nah's grove on Rock river leaving his friends here in deep distress at his misfortune and the dire consequences that must unavoidably follow, according to Indian custom. The fugitive well knew his doom. There was blood upon his skirts. The relatives of the deceased demanded his return. They clamored for his blood. His own sister and some of his relatives went for him, and found him in his wigwam with blackened face, brooding in silence over his act of blood, feeling that the Great Spirit was angry with him and that no sacrifice was too great to appease his wrath. The sister plead with him to return to Rock island and meet his fate, and thus appease the wrathful spirit of the departed one. One bright morning in May, a few days after the murder, the quiet camp of the Indians on As-sin-ne-Maness (Rock island) was awakened by the doleful chant of the death song. A few canoes came gliding around the point of the island; among them was that of the murderer singing his last song this side the good hunting ground. His canoe was paddled by his own sister, whom he tenderly loved. The long protracted howl of the Indian crier soon put in motion the whole camp on both sides of the river. From every cave and eddy along the banks of the river there shot forth canoes filled with excited natives eager to participate in the bloody scene about to be enacted. A circle was soon formed a little above the burying ground of the old fort at the foot of the island. A shallow grave was dug and the willing but trembling culprit was led to it by his mourning sister, and kneeling on one side of it the nearest male relative of the deceased approached and with one blow of the tomahawk his death song was hushed, and then his body was cut in pieces by the surrounding Indians.
The first marriage ceremony in town took place in the spring of this year. The parties were Wm. B. Watts and a niece of Antoine LeClaire, Esq. Mrs. Watts died a few years afterward and was buried in Mr. LeClaire's private burial ground. This spring also the first brickyard was opened by Mr. Harvey Leonard, from Indiana, on Sixth, between Main and Harrison streets. Mr. Leonard not only manufactured the brick but was a master builder, and carried on the business for many years. In 1851 he was elected sheriff, an office which he held many years.
Among the improvements introduced at this early day in the mechanical line was one of "Getty's Patent Metallic Mills," owned by D. C. Eldridge. This little machine, not much larger than a coffee mill, did wonders in the way of cracking wheat and corn. Some called it a "flouring mill," although the flour made in it might not bear inspection at the persent day, yet the hot rolls made from it when placed upon the table, superseded all other bread then in use, which consisted principally of "corn dodgers." Its propelling power was a horse, which had done good service in the Black Hawk war (or that of 1812). We imagine we can now see the thing in operation, down on Brimstone corner (Front and Ripley streets) with Joe Topin, the old discharged soldier, as head engineer, rolling out the breadstuff by the quart. But this was the "day of small things."
Some trouble occurred this year among claim holders. The new comers in some instances were unwilling to go over Duck creek to take claims, and considered the squatter sovereignty too liberal in giving to each man 320 acres while none of it was improved. Individuals not in actual possession were liable to have their claims jumped. Several cases of this kind occurred when the society which had been organized in March of this year interfered. Having tried one man by the name of Stephens, who had jumped a claim of Maj. Wilson's (now of Rock Island,) where the Ladies' college now stands, on a part of "Fulton's addition," and he refusing to vacate the premises, on application of the major, the sheriff of Dubuque county was sent for, there being then no nearer seat of justice than Dubuque. On the arrival of Sheriff Cummings he found Mr. Stephens snugly ensconced in the major's cabin, armed with the instruments that would terminate life if properly handled, and threatening entire annihilation to any and all who might dare to touch him. The sheriff soon summoned his posse, and with them came a yoke of oxen which were soon hitched to one corner of the log cabin, and as the timbers began to show signs of parting Mr. Stephens very willingly vacated the premises and was shown the most feasible as well as the quickest route to Stephenson, and never afterward made any attempt to recover his claim on this side of the river.
At the close of 1837 there were about fifteen or sixteen houses in the town, six new ones having been built during the year, and the town numbered about 160 inhabitants. The autumn of this year was delightful. The summer was not hot nor oppressive. It gently merged into autumn, and winter came in and continued mild all the season. I was in camp prosecuting the public surveys upon the Waubsepinecon river from the 17th of October until the first of April with no other shelter for myself and men than a canvas tent, and was detained from work but three days during the whole time on account of storms or cold weather. The snow fell that winter to the depth of three or four inches only. The Mississippi river closed on the 13th of February. On the first day of April, 1838, the first boat of the season passed down, the river having been open but a few days. The spring was mild and beautiful.
The immigrants of the year were but few, compared with after years. Among them were Nathaniel Squires, John Forrest, Timothy and Thomas Dillon and families, Rev. J. A. Pelamourgues, Rodolphus Bennet, John N. Macklot, John M. D. Burrows, George Thorne, William Eldridge, Robert Neff, Frank Perrin, A. F. Russell, Samuel Ringwalt, Edward Davis, Seth F. Whiting, Ansel Briggs, Thos. S. and David Hoge.
But little produce was raised this year. Meat was scarce except wild game. All seemed happy and well pleased with the county. We belonged to Wisconsin territory and lived under the laws of Michigan. Our first steps toward civilization and improvement had been taken, the beautiful prairies in virgin loveliness outside of our present city limits were untouched by the rude hand of man. All the loveliness and beauty of Eden could scarcely surpass that of the rolling prairies of Scott county at that day. The wild flowers were far more numerous and variegated than now, richer and more fragrant in their wild, untrodden state than since reckless man has trampled under foot the floral kingdom of our once lovely prairies.
Among the most active and efficient young men of this day was Jonathan W. Parker, son of our fellow citizen, Jonathan Parker. He emigrated in the autumn of 1836 from Luzerne county, Pa., a lawyer by profession, having studied under Judge Kidder of Wilkesbarre. His destination was Galena, but the boat upon which he had taken passage from St. Louis became ice-bound at this place and laid up for the winter. Having spent the winter here and becoming attached to the place he finally settled here. His numerous highly interesting letters, descriptive of the country and published in the east did much to induce emigration. He was a botanist and spent much time among the flowers of our prairies. He delivered the oration on the 4th of July of this year, (1837.) it being the first celebration of any kind ever held in the city. Col. T. C. Eads was president, Jonathan W. Parker, orator and Isaac Hedges, marshal of the day. Mr. Parker was in our territorial legislature at Burlington in 1839, was elected president of the council, and did much in framing the code of laws for the territory. He held at various times the offices of justice of the peace, judge of probate and was the second mayor of the city of Davenport. He left here in 1844, traveled considerably through the United States, changed his profession for that of medicine, and in August, 1850, was located in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he died of cholera that autumn, at the house of Dr. Gatchel, much lamented for his many social and moral virtues.
There are many incidents which transpired among the settlers of 1837 that would be interesting to narrate. The financial troubles of the east were keenly felt here. There was no money, no credit, nor any produce to bring supplies to the infant colony. But few of the immigrants brought a supply of money, and to many the approaching winter looked dark and lowering. The Indians that still remained here could furnish a supply of wild game, but in return they asked for per-quash-i-con (bread) and co-cosh (pork) and pin-ne-ac (potatoes). The small stocks of merchandise were exhausted, so much so, that the first steamboats in the spring were looked for with great anxiety. Like the Pilgrim Fathers of New England looking forth from the "rock-bound coast" toward the land of their nativity, they sighed for the "flesh pots," and remembered the "leeks and the garlics" of their own native land.
Well do the "old settlers" of Iowa remember the days and years from the first settlement to 1840. Those were days of sadness and often of distress. The endearments of home had been broken up in another land, and all that was dear and hallowed on earth, the home of childhood and the scenes of youth were severed, and we sat down by the gentle waters of our noble river, and often "hung our harps upon the willows." But the bright prospects of the future led us on, and with hope as our sheet anchor we lived upon the fruits of our labor, almost as exiled race for many years. No splendid cottage was then our home. The rude cabin was our shelter and we were scarcely protected from the rains of summer or the snows of winter. No luxuries crowned our board, but we rejoiced in that Providence which shaped our destinies and led us to the shores of rhe Mississippi. We loved the land of our adoption. We loved her soil, her climate and her majestic river, upon whose banks we often strayed and mingled our tears with one another. The pioneers of Scott county came as the vanguard of that army that has since flooded our land. They came to build for themselves and posterity a glorious destiny amid the wilds of Iowa. They brought no sword, or battle axe, but the plowshare and the pruning hook were their only weapons. They had no history to point them the way, no kind friend to bid them welcome to these shores. The legends of the Indian could only tell them of the beauty of the land they came to possess, and instead of the smiles of welcome they received only the frowns of the savage.
The spring of 1838 found the infant settlement laboring under many discouragements. The existing topic, the all-absorbing county seat question, had helped to wear away the winter. Immigration began to set in for the west and the drooping spirits of the inhabitants revived. Buildings began to increase, a church or two were organized, a school opened, and things began to wear a brighter aspect as the genial rays of the sun began to warm vegetation into life. In February the first territorial legislature which held its sessions at Burlington passed an act organizing Scott county, and fixing the boundaries thereof. The memorable 19th of February was the day set for the election of the coutny seat. An act also was passed authorizing the election of a board of county commissioners, to be held at various places in the county on the third Monday of February. This board of commissioners were to do all the business of the county, as judge of probate, and take care of all the suits at law, etc. Maj. Frazer Wilson, now of Rock Island, had received the first appointment of sheriff from the territorial governor.
Early in the spring Mr. LeClaire laid out his "First Addition to the Town of Davenport," upon his ":reserve" as it was called. This included two tiers of blocks forming Harrison and Brady streets, running back as far as Seventh street. No title as yet in fee simple had been obtained by the proprietors of the town, and title bonds only were given to purchasers. In this new addition to the town, Mr. LeClaire could give clear titles, and was able to sell lots on long time to actual settlers. This put new life into the inhabitants, and the immigration coming in the spring was much larger than any previous year, and the town for the first time began to make progress in improvement.
The first board of county commissioners elect were Benj. F. Pike, now in California, Andrew W. Campbell, who died on Green river, in Utah, and Alfred Carter, who died in Hickory Grove in this county, in 1845. The legislature also passed an act incorporationg the town of Davenport and at the April election Rodolphus Bennet, now of Princeton in this county, was elected mayor and Frazer Wilson, recorder. Dr. A. C. Donaldson, D. C. Eldridge, John Forrest, Thomas Dillon and Capt. John Litch were elected trustees. These were the first officers of this township. The meeting of the first town council soon followed and James M. Bowling was appointed treasurer, William Nichols street commissioner and William H. Patton, marshal. The first seal used by the city council was by a vote an American 25 cent piece.
During the summer the first brick house was erected by D. C. Eldridge and is still standing on the northeast corner of Third and Main streets. The old part of the Catholic church was also built this summer, the brick work by Mr. Noel and the carpenter work by Nathaniel Squires. It was afterward enlarged and is now used for a schoolhouse. The Rev. J. M. Pelamourgues was placed in charge at its organization and is still a faithful watchman over the congregation. Religious services were held at various places in the town, as opportunity presented. The first regular preaching was a sermon by Rev. Mr. Gavitt, of Ohio, at the house of D. C. Eldridge.
On the 4th of July of this year we were separated by act of congress from the territory of Wisconsin, and organized into a spearate territory. Robert Lucas of Ohio was the first governor who made the following appointments for Scott county: Willard Barrows, notary public; Ebenezer Cook, judge of probate; Adrian H. Davenport, sheriff; Isaac A. Hedges and John Porter, justices of the peace. D. C. Eldridge received the appointment of postmaster.
At the first election under the new territorial law in September, W. W. Chapman was elected delegate to congress, Jonathan W. Parker, member of council, J. A. Birchard and Laurel Summers representatives. Clinton county was then attached to Scott for judicial purposes.
On the 7th of July, 1838, Andrew Logan from Pennsylvania arrived with a printing press, and on the 17th of September following issued the first number of the "Davenport Iowa Sun," a newspaper which at that day was put forth under many discouragements. Those only who have themselves been pioneers in such an enterprise can realize the difficulties attending it. For the two first years Mr. Logan had no assistance but his two little sons, the eldest of which was but twelve years old. The motto of his paper was
"And man went forth to till the ground."
His press was of the more antiquated kind, and his type had done good service at other places. Yet it was hailed as a great acquisition to the embryo towns of Davenport and Rockingham, for it was presented as a candidate for either place. The county seat question was then at its highest excitement and big offers were made by both parties for its location. Davenport was the successful winner of the prize. The machine worked off the Weekly Sun and fought with great energy the battles of the county seat question; the principal writers aside from its editors were John H. Thorington, the father of Hon. James Thorington, on the Davenport side, and John H. Sullivan for Rockingham. For a time it seemed to flourish amid all its difficulties and often would its rays break forth from the clouds that seemed to obscure it and shine with much brightness. But after the county seat question became settled and a more modern press was introduced the "Sun of Davenport" was allowed to set, realizing in the fullest extent that "promises to printers are made to be broken." It was then that Mr. Logan put in practice his motto, for he "went forth to till the ground." About six miles from town on the Iowa City road he took up his claim and was emphatically the pioneer farmer of our prairies, there being at the time but one house between him and the town. He has ever been a good friend to the interests of Scott county, ever carrying with him the good will, respect and esteem of all who have the pleasure of his acquaintance. We learn with regret that he has recently sold his beautiful prairie home and is about to remove to Marshall county, this state.
Numerous public roads were run this season in all directions from the town, leading back to the groves and to the Wabesipinicon river, where a few settlers had taken preemption claims. The first district court met here in October, the Hon. Thos. S. Wilson presiding. Several attorneys were admitted to the bar; but little business was done.
The amount of wheat raised this year in the county was about 2,000 bushels and was worth twenty-five cents a bushel. Money was a little more plenty than the year before, owing to the immigration, but there was no demand for produce and no buyers for shipment. Potatoes were scarce this year and worth $1 a bushel. A sawmill was in operation at the mouth of Duck creek, Capt. Clark's, making only hard lumber which sold at $35 a thousand feet. All pine lumber was brought from Cincinnati and was worth $50 a thousand.
The Davenport hotel this year passed into the hands of Samuel Barkley, from Pennsylvania. A milliner shop was opened by Miss M. C. Cooper from Baltimore. D. C. Eldridge opened a carriage and blacksmith shop and R. H. Kinney a watch and jewelry store. Messrs. LeClaire and Davenport opened a large store as forwarding and commission merchants. The first land sales of the territory were advertised to come off at Brulington on the 19th of November but were postponed. The village contained at the close of the year about forty houses and a population of near 100. The treasury of the county had received for taxes this year, licenses and fines less than $500, and expended nearly $800. The assessment on property was sufficient to have balanced expenditures but there was but about $250 ever collected.
The river closed the 17th of December. The winter was mild and pleasant; but very little snow, and passed much pleasanter than the previous one. There was a large circle of young people and a cordial good feeling existed among them. Parties and balls were numberous. Sleighriding upon the ice was a great recreation. Wolf hunts and the chase for deer and turkey helped to fill up the dreary days of winter. Spring opened early, the river breaking up on the last day of February. Rafts of lumber began to make their appearance this year from the pineries of Wisconsin and sold at $35 a thousand feet.
The local difficulties in regard to the county seat question still existed and the spring of 1839 opened with a prospect of another warm contest for the seat of justice. The second session of the district court was held in May, but there was no business before it of consequence, not a single bill of indictment being found by the grand jury against any individual in Scott county. No political party lines were yet drawn. At the August election was "Davenport or Rockingham." The latter elected her representatives, Laurel Summers and Joseph M. Robertson, against the Davenport candidates, G. C. R. Mitchell and Abner Beard. The two old commissioners were elected, A. W. Campbell and Alfred Carter, while the Davenport faction elected the other one, John Work and A. F. Russell as county surveyor. Ira Cook, Sr., was elected treasurer by the Rockingham party, with the assessor and all minor officers.
The first fire department of Davenport was organized the 27th of July by requiring every man who occupied a house to keep two fire buckets always in readiness and to use them in case of fire.
The Rev. Asa Turner, now of Denmark in this state, in traveling through this county preached and lectured on temperance. Through his exertions a temperance society was formed the 6th of August on the total abstinence principle receiving at its first organization fifty-six signatures. Rodolphus Bennet, mayor of this city, being its first president. The society commenced with about eighty members.
Three other churches were organized this summer and a female seminary started by the Misses O'Hara. A common school was also opened by a Mr. Blood. Capt. Wilson also commenced running his steam ferryboat this fall. The first paint shop by Riddle & Morton, the first wagon shop by Seth F. Whiting, and the first drug store by Charles Lesslie, were opened this year.
But the greatest acquisition to the town this year, the crowning point and the wonder of the age was the completion of the LeClaire House at a cost of $35,000. The stone work of this edifice now standing on the corner of Main and Second streets (the old part) was done by Alexander Brownlie of long Grove in this county, the brick work by D. C. Eldridge and the carpenter work by Nathaniel Squires. The building of this house at so early a day was an enterprise the equal of which is seldom undertaken. The progress of the town or county did not warrant it, yet confidence in the future and the enterprising spirit of Mr. LeClaire which has not left him to this day carried forward the work to a successful completion. Succeeding years found this house filled with guests from the south druing the warm season, and although its owner has ever failed to reap much benefit directly from rents, etc., yet it has been a source of profit to some, an acquisition to the town, and a home of comfort to many a weary traveler on his first advent into Iowa.
The death of William B. Conway, Esq., secretary of the territory occurred on the 9th of November of this year. He was a resident of Davenport but died at Burlington while attending to his official duties at the sitting of the legislature. His body was brought here for interment. A public meeting was held and resolutions passed testifying to the profound regret at the loss of so valuable a citizen from our midst.
In the fall of this year some difficulties arose upon our southern borders in relation to the boundary line beteeen Missouri and the territory of Iowa, which being fanned into a flame created quite a sensation along the counties bordering upon the Mississippi river. A notice of this farce might not be deemed here out of place, as showing how trivial a circumstance is required upon the frontier at an early day to create an alarm and arouse the listless energies of a naturally lazy people who for want of a more active and useful life are ever ready to enlist in any enterprise that may be set on foot. The same scenes occur every year upon our western border. The cry of "Indians" is all sufficient to rally the little pioneer settlement and from the smallest circumstance enormous depredations and savage hostility are charged upon a few suffering Indians who may be lurking upon the outposts of civilization with no other design than to procure food and shelter from those who have driven the game beyond their reach.
I can no better portray the scenes and events of the "Missouri war," as it was called than by quoting from the graphic pen of the Hon. John P. Cook in his annual address at the first festival of the Pioneer Settlers association, delivered the 22d of February, 1858. In speaking of "the times that tried men's souls" Mr. Cook says:
"During the time of the contest for the county seat an event transpired which must not be omitted in speaking of the history of our settlement. A dispute arose between the state of Missouri and the then territory of Iowa as to the boundary line between them and so determined were the authorities on both sides to exercise jurisdiction over the disputed territory that it resulted in what is known to the old settlers as the 'Missouri war.'
"There were warriors in those day; and I should do injustice to the patriotism of that period if I neglected to notice the military darings of the volunteers who rushed to the standard (and rations) of the commander-in-chief in obedience to his call. The sheriff of a border county in Iowa undertook to enforce the collection of taxes in the disputed territory. He was arrested by the authorities of Missouri. The executive of Iowa demanded his release. It was refused; and to rescue the sheriff, Gov. Lucas ordered out the militia and called for volunteers. 'My voice is now for war,' was the patriotic response of very 'Hawkeye.' The county seat question was forgotten in the more important duty of driving the invaders from our soil. Davenport and Rockingham men met, embraced, buckled on their armor and side by side shouted their war cry 'Death to the invading Pukes.' The officers in command held a council of war and it was decided that Davenport should be the headquarters of the Scott county army in order that the troops might be inspired by the sight of old Fort Armstrong, and at the same time occupy a position so near the fort that a safe retreat would be at hand in case of an attack from the enemy.
"On the day appointed for the first drill the whole country marched to the standard of the gallant colonel in command and Davenport witnessed one of the most spirited military reviews that ever took place within her limits. The line was formed on the banks of the river, fronting toward the enemy's country, the right wing resting against a cottonwood tree, the left in close proximity to the ferryhouse. There they stood, veterans of iron nerve and dauntless courage presenting a sight that would have daunted the most desperate foe and assuring the women and children that they would defend their homes to the death against the 'border ruffians' from the Des Moines river.
"The weapons carried by some of these volunteer patriots were not satisfactory to the commanding officers and about one-fourth of the army were ordered out of the ranks and their services dispensed with unless they would procure others of a different character and more in accordance with the army regulations. The objectionable weapons consisted of a plow coulter, carried in a link of a large log chain which the valiant soldier had over his shoulder. Another was a sheet-iron sword about six feet in length fastened to a rope shoulderstrap. Another was an old fashioned sausage stuffer. Another was an old musket without a lock; and the balance of a like character.
"The order was given for the owners of these nondescript weapons to march out of the ranks three steps. The order was obeyed. The ranks closed up and the offending soldiers were discharged with a reprimand.
"I am not prepared to say that the commanding officer was justified in thus summarily discharging so many men who were ready and anxious to serve their country, and the result proved that the amount of bravery dismissed was equal to that retained, for no sooner were the discharged soldiers clear of the line of the regiment than they formed a company of cavalry, a company of dragoons and a company which they called the squad, and then under the superior generalship of their leader, the knight of the six-foot sword, they made a bold charge upon the regulars, broke their line, drove not a few of them into the river, some into and some around the ferryhouse, some into the grocery and some out of town; thus defeating and dispersing the regular army without the loss of a man on either side.
"This conflict was disastrous in its results to the regular army and before the forces could again be collected, peace was declared and the army disbanded.
"This unlooked for cessation of hostilities was a severe blow to the military aspirations of the Hawkeyes and disappointed the just expectations of those who had hoped to distinguish themselves in the defense of our territorial rights. The disappointment was not felt by the army of Scott county alone. Numerous companies had been formed elsewhere, and had started for the seat of war with supplies for the campaign.
"A company of about thirty left an adjoining county under the leadership of a chieftain who often used to say that he 'could whip his weight in wild cats,' and who has since represented you in the national congress, has been upon your supreme bench and has also been chief justice of California.
"He started out with thirty men and six baggage wagons well loaded with supplies for his army, and being determined to keep up the spirits of his men, he freighted five of his wagons with whiskey.
"The question of boundary was subsequently submitted to the supreme court of the United States and the disputed territory given to Iowa."
The financial condition of the county at the close of this year shows in a measure the increase and progress made in its settlement. The receipts from licenses, ferries and fines including tax lists which was $1,410.92 was a revenue of $2,578.94, while the expenditures were only $1,804.63. The immigration this year was small. With reference to the moral and religious aspect of things at this time, but little can be said. I insert, however, a paragraph from Wilkie's "Davenport Past and Present," in order to correct any impression that might prevail with reference to the dissipation prevalent at that day:
"Frequent allusions have been made thus far to the many 'good times' had by the old settlers. It will not be inferred from it that they were dissipated or drunkards. Far from it. Some of the brightest lights now in the church, at the bar, and in private life are those very men. They but complied with the character of the times while absent from social refinements and the elegancies of older towns, almost all strangers to each other, and craving for that excitement which is now indulged in the intercourse of hosts of friends and friendly relations of long standing. They could not well do otherwise than they did. Mostly men from large cities, they were ennuied by the comparative quiet of a frontier life, and to vary their listless lives, resorted to stimulants or whatever else would afford excitement."
The winter was rather more severe than the one previous. The river closed at the head of the rapids in December, but not until the 14th of January at this place, and opened the first day of March.
The year of 1839 closed with about 100 houses in the town of Davenport and a population of about 300.
1840.-Immigration commenced this year with the first boats of the season, March 3d. An agricultural society had been formed in January: A. W. McGregor, Esq., first president; G. C. R. Mitchell, Esq., vice president; John Forrest, secretary and A. LeClaire, treasurer. At the township elections held in April John H. Thorington was elected mayor and Frazer Wilson, recorder. The trustees elected were Geo. L. Davenport, Seth F. Whiting, J. W. Parker, John Forrest and William Nichols.
The Dubuque land sales came off in May and the settlers generally attended en masse in order to protect their claims, and have their lands bid in to them at government price, $1.25 an acre. This sale brought all matters of disputes about claims to a sudden close. A committee of arbitration was chosen by the settlers, before whom all disputes were settled, and the land bid off by G. C. R. Mitchell for each claimant.
In July the supreme court tied the writ of mandamus granted to the Rockingham party against the commissioners of Dubuque county, commanding and requesting them to make an entry in their books to the the effect that Rockinham was the county seat. The court decided in favor of claimants, when a petition to the legislature was gotten up by the Davenport party of over 300 names, praying for a new election. The act was passed and the fourth Monday of August fixed as the day for holding a new election. This election resulted favorabley to Davenport, and thus was the long vexed question forever put to rest; the citizens of Davenport building the courthouse and jail, free of expense to the county, as per contract. As this is the last notice of this long unsettled question and desirous of showing as part of our history who at this early day came forward and nobly sustained her interests, we here publish a list of the donations and subscriptions to the public buildings, in full:
"The following article was placed in the hands of the county treasurer the other day as a donation to the county for the express purpose of erecting the public buildings, should this place be selected as the county seat at either the election in August or September.
"A donation of ninety acres of land, is offered the county at the mouth of Duck creek provided that point should be selected at the first election. Should the election not be decided on the first ballot, no donation is offered, either by Duck creek or Rockingham. In addition to the land which the donators have agreed to give, sell and convey to the county, they also offer $825, mostly materials. The people have both propositions before them and they will be enabled to decide as to the amount donated for each point. A tax of $6,000 or $8,000 on the inhabitants of the county would be oppressive in our present infant and embarrassed state, and it is hardly supposed any person would vote for such a tax, when they have the offer of a donation nearly if not amply sufficient to cover all expenses."
Davenport, August 3, 1840.
Whereas, the question of a location of the county seat in Scott county is to be settled by a vote of the people of said county, the points to be voted for being Davenport, Rockingham and a point in Pleasant Valley near the mouth of Duck creek, and
Whereas, Rockingham and said point in Pleasant Valley near the mouth of Duck creek have each proposed donations to the county to erecting public buildings therein, to be paid by the place in which the county seat should be located, this proposition the subscribers believe to have been made with a view of influencing the voters of said county to vote for siad points instead of Davenport, and believing Davenport is the most suitable place and wishing to counteract said undue influence for the purpose of making up a sum equal or greater than that offered by either of those points we, the subscribers, agree, and hereby bind ourselves to give and convey in fee simple to the county commissioners of Scott county the property described by each of us to be disposed of in raising a fund for the benefit of the county to be applied exclusively to the erection of a courthouse and jail, on condition that the town of Davenport shall be the point selected as county seat of Scott county, and we who do not give lots or land bind ourselves to pay in cash, or the manner stipulated, the sums affixed opposite our respective names on the terms therein stated, in witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals.
By virtue of a resolution this day passed by the mayor, recorder and trustees of the town of Davenport, authorizing the mayor on behalf of the corporation to subscribe the sum of $500 to aid in defraying the expense of erecting a courthouse and jail in the town of Davenport, I, John H. Thorington, mayor of the town of Davenport, do promise on the part and in behalf of the said corporation to pay to the commissioners of Scott county on or before the first day of August next the sum of $500, provided, and it is expressly understood, that the above stipulated subscription is binding only upon condition that the said town of Davenport shall be selected as the permanent seat of justice for Scott county, and not otherwise.
THE TOWN OF DAVENPORT, by John H. Thorington, Mayor-$500.
I, Antoine Le Calire, promise to convey on the condition before stipulated, the following described lots and land, to-wit: Lot 3, block 15; 2, block 38; 3, 4 and 6, block 39; 1, block 12; 8, block 28; 8 block 32; 7, 8, 9 and 10, block 7; outlots, Nos. 5, 10, 19, 22, 24, containing four acres each.
I, Antoine LeClaire, attorney for P. G. Hambaugh, provise to convey on the condition before stipulated the following described lots: 5 and 6, block 14; 5 and 6, block 25; 1 and 2, block 37.
P. G. HAMBAUGH,
By Antoine LeClaire.
I, George Davenport, provise to convey, on the conditions above stipulated, the following described lots, to-wit: West half of block 23; lots 4, 5 and 6, block 11; 1, 2, 7 and 8, block 35; 5, block 3.
I, John Macklot, promise to convey, on the conditions above stipulated, the following described lots, to-wit: Lots 1, 2, 7, and 8, block 36, if the courthouse shall be placed on Bolivar square.
I, Antoine LeClaire, agent for James May, promise to convey, on the conditions before stipulated, the following described lots, to-wit: Lots Nos. 1 and 2, block 13; 1, block 39; 7 and 8, block 37; 3, block 13.
Agent for James May.
We, James and Robert McIntosh, promise to convey, on the conditions before stipulated, the following described lots: 7 and 8, block 12; 3 and 4, block 14; 7 and 8, block 36; 5, in block 39 2, in block 35.
J. AND R. M'INTOSH.
I, John Litch, agree to give one good, handsome lot in the lower part of Davenport (in Powers' addition) as soon as Davenport shall be made the county seat.
I, George Davenport, hereby promise to pay to the county commissioners of Scott county, in lieu of the lots offered above, to aid in erecting the public buildings the sum of $1,200, should the commissioners prefer the same to be paid in installments, as may be required in the progress of the buildings, provided the same shall be erected on Bolivar square.
I, Antoine LeClaire, hereby promise to pay to the county commissioners of the county of Scott, in lieu of the lands and lots offered above, to aid in erecting the public buildings the sum of $3,000 in cash or its equivalent, should the said commissioners prefer the same, to be paid in such installments as may be required in the progress of the buildings, as witness my hand and seal this 10th day of August, 1840.
At the October elections of this year party lines began to be drawn. A. C. Dodge was elected delegate to congress over Alfred Rich, the whig candidate, by about 100 majority. J. W. Parker was elected to the council over James Grant by a majority of only four votes. L. Summers and J. M. Robertson,* representatives; John D. Evans, recorder; A. H. Davenport, sheriff; Ira Cook, Sr., treasurer, and E. Cook, judge of probate.
* Joseph M. Robertson emigrated to the territory of Iowa in 1836, and settled at Rockingham. He had made his first location in the west at New Boston, Mercer county, Ill., where he remained but a short time. He was a good, sound, practical man in all things. His political views were purely whig. A farmer and merchant he was accommodating and possessed a benevolent heart, ever ready to do a kindly act; and for moral and Christian worth he had no superior. His sterling integrity in all things, both private and public, ever drew around him a host of friends, and he was deservedly popular among his fellow citizens. He served many sessions in the territorial legislature, and died at Iowa City, while a member of that body in 1844, aged thirty-eight years.
The receipts into the treasury this year were insufficient to meet the expenditures, the amount being only $1,635, while the expenditures were $2,121.37.
Business at the close of the year was increasing. There were eight mercantile establishments, four groceries, two hotels, a brewery nearly ready for operation, a large pork house, with cash and goods offered for pork. Times began to brighten. A market had been established at home for the produce raised by the farmer, buildings had increased and the population amounted to about 600. The times had been severe on the newly settled colony. Money was scarce; the land had been brought into market, and those holding lands subject to pre-emption had to borrow money at fifty per cent to save their homes. The prices current in December were:
There were three frosts only up to the 14th of November. The river remained in good boating order, and steamboats ran till near the close of the year, sleighing this winter from St. Louis to the lower rapids, and throughout the entire state of Illinois, a part of Michigan and Indiana; but here there were not to exceed two inches of snow during the whole winter, nor was there any rain after the first of November. The river opened this year the 14th of March, and the steamer Otter came up the same day. On the 15th the steamer Agnes arrived from St. Louis and the next day both boats left for Galena and Dubuque, navigation being fairly opened, but the water very low.
On the 21st of April, 1841, the mayor, recorder and trustees of the town of Davenport passed an ordinance to raise the license for retailing liquors from $25 to $100, J. W. Parker being mayor.
On the 5th of May the sale of town lots for the erection of the public buildings took place.
On the 8th of May the first territorial whig convention was held in Davenport. Delegates were present from all the settled counties of the state, except Dubuque and Clayton. They met at the LeClaire House, formed a procession and marched with a band of music, consisting of one bugle and a clarinet, to the "Harrison log cabin," then just erected on the corner of Third and Main streets. Several speeches were made, when Alfred Rich, Esq., received the nomination, on the fourth ballot, for delegate to congress. The democratic convention met at Parkhurst, (LeClaire) on the 19th of June and nominated A. C. Dodge, who was elected by a large majority. The weather in May was cold and backward. Nothwithstanding the hard times and general scarcity of money, buildings of all kinds began to go up, and the town generally was in a flourishing condition. The courthouse and jail were commenced, and the days of strife and contention seemed to have ended.
Among the buildings erected this year was the Webb House, and it was considered one of the most extravagant investments of the age. It presented a beautiful appearance from the river, standing alone upon the brow of the bluff, with nothing to obstruct the view, without a solitary house or other improvement in front of it. It is now owned and occupied by J. E. Henry, Esq. The brick building on the corner of Sixth and Brady streets was erected the same season by Strong Burnell. But the largest structure of this year was the old part of the "Worden House" on Third street, since enlarged. Flour this year was sold at $5.00 per barrel and wheat 50 cents a bushel. Pork was worth but 1-1/2 to 2 cents a pound.
James Grant and J. M. Robertson were elected representatives and J. W. Parker to the council. Parker was president of the council, that session of the legislature. The financial condition of the county at the close of 1841 was a revenue received of $7,019.93; and expenditures to the amount of $6,689.99; A. W. Campbell, J. C. Quinn and John Work, commissioners. A new charter to the town of Davenport was obtained this year from the legislature. The courthouse and jail were finished and presented to the county free of cost, as provided for in the bond given for that purpose.
In November of this year our little village was visited by a distinguished personage of foreign birth, in person of Prince de Joinville. He and his suite took rooms at the LeClaire House.
In August of this year the "Davenport Weekly Gazette" issued its first number. Alfred Sanders, Esq., the senior editor, was from Cincinnati, Ohio. He had visited the upper Mississippi the year before in search of a location for life, and most wisely selected Davenport, then but a small village, as his home. None but those who have tried the experiment can realize the trials, hardships and discouragements incident to opening a printing establishment in a little frontier town, away from all resources, both financial and mechanical. To enter upon such an enterprise at such a time in the financial world as was presented in 1841 requires no little energy, ambition and perseverance. Such did Alfred Sanders possess, when on the 11th day of August he landed from one of the smallest steamers that ever pushed up our river, the water being so low upon the rapids below and the engine that propelled the little craft so weak that they had to pole over in real Mackinaw style. The arrival was announced, and soon the landing was thronged with anxious spectators to behold the new press and its editor. Moved by a spirit of grateful acknowledgment and a cordial welcome to this new arrival, all hands were eager to assist in landing the press. There being no wharf then built, and the water very low, a long plank walk was laid to the boat, on which in attempting to carry the press, it was precipitated into the Mississippi river, as if to purge it of any of its old sins, and baptise it anew before entering upon the virgin soil of Iowa.
The first number was issued on the 26th of August, and from that day to this, more than eighteen years, not a single number has been missed in its regular publication. When we take into consideration that not only the first outfit, but the constant supply of paper, ink and other material had to be purchased in the east, and subject to all the delays and dangers of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and when we remember that Mr. Sanders suffered loss and disappointment by having his paper sunk and burned amid the disasters of the steamboat navigation of that day, all his assistants being sick at one time, and he alone having to fill every department of the paper, from writing its editorials and setting type, down to working at the press and rolling for papers-I say, when we consider these discouragements, we must wonder and admire that energy and perseverance which for twenty years never allowed his subscribers to go without their weekly news. We believe that no portion of the great west can record a similar instance of deep devotion to their calling, amid such privations and hardships as that of Mr. Sanders to found a standard newspaper in Scott county. When I remember his increasing labor for many years without the prospect of even a livelihood, and no bright future before him, I feel happy in the privilege here presented of adding my testimony to his faithful services and wishing him all the enjoyment he may now possess from the fruits of his early struggles.
And no less deserving is he who amid all these discouragements stood by his side, not only as a partner, in a pecuniary view, but a constant sharer of all the burdens heaped upon the establishment through the many dark years of its existence. Mr. Levi Davis was the printer; and for neatness and mechanical execution I hesitate not to say, notwithstanding the difficulties under which he labored, that no establsihment of the kind west of the great lakes can show a file of papers of ten years' accumulation like those presented by this office. No man among the early settlers of Davenprot is deserving of more credit for faithfulness, industry and sterling integrity than Mr. Levi Davis.
For nearly ten years after the establishment of the Gazette it hardly paid expenses, though conducted in the most economical manner. From the tardy progress of the settlement of the country its subscription grew slowly; but as the country began to settle and the town to grow its patronage increased so that in May, 1851, nearly ten years after its commencement, its proprietors felt justified in enlarging it to a seven column paper. Two years after, on the 3d of September, 1853, they converted it into a tri-weekly, and the following year, on the 16th of October, 1854, they began to issue the first daily paper ever published in this portion of the state. As a daily it started out under the most favorable auspices and has continued to increased in circulation ever since, notwithstanding the financial depression of 1857 and the unusual amount of opposition it has experienced in having three other daily papers to contend with.
In 1855, they introduced the first steam press ever put in operation in Iowa, a large size Taylor & Hoe press which is still doing good service. The weekly cash receipts of the office now average more than the yearly cash receipts did for seven years after its first establishment.
1842.-On the 15th of February the Scott County Temperance society was organized; Thomas S. Hoge, president; and Charles Lesslie, secretary.
The river closed the 27th of December and opened the 2d of March. The season was good, crops abundant and well gathered. Good winter wheat was sold at 37 to 40 cents, and spring at 30 cents. The best quality of flour was $4.50 a barrel. Flour sold the same autumn in Chicago at $3.00 and in St. Louis at $2.75 a barrel. Building continued and settlers were daily arriving. Produce of all kinds was low. There was no money in circulation. Everything was barter in trade.
On the 8th of October of this year the Iowa Sun issued it last number.
A. C. Fulton, Esq., arrived here in July of this year, and opened a store on Front street, between Main and Harrison. On the 4th of August by census taken, the town contained 817 inhabitants. The April term of the circuit court continued in session only eight days, and adjourned for want of business, David Hoge, clerk. In the election of this year Robert Chrisite was elected to the council and J. M. Robertson to the house. Pork sold this autumn as low as $1.25 to $1.50 a hundred pounds. The same prices ruled in Chicago and Alton. Messrs. J. Seaman, J. M. D. Burrows, A. C. Fulton and others purchased pork in exchange for goods; some cash was paid. The balance in the treasury at the close of the year was $484.48. John Work, Otho G. McLain and John C. Quinn were commissioners.
1843.-The river opened the 10th of April. The winter of 1842-43 will long be remembered as the "cold winter." There were two months' good sleighing. The ice in the river was two feet thick. A Dubuque paper stated that with the exception of a very few days the mercury stood at twenty degress below zero for nearly four months, and that for several weeks of that time it stood at thirty-five to thirty-nine degrees below zero. Although the crops were abundant, yet on account of the intense cold and want of sufficient hay and shelter, a great many cattle died.
Emigration continued to pour in and a general progress of the town was perceptible, notwithstanding the scarcity of money and the cheapness of produce. There seventeen brick houses erected this year and many frame ones. Seven churches now adorned the town. G. C. R. Mitchell was elected representative this year, and James Thorington judge of probate. The expenditures of the county this year exceeded the receipts, $905.82.
J. M. D. Burrows commenced shipping produce this autumn to St. Louis in keel boats. On the 21st of October he loaded one with thirty-eight tons of vegetables and the following week started another one for St. Louis with thirty-five tons.
But little of interest took place during the year 1844. The river opened on the 24th of February and navigation commence. It had been a very open winter, much of it like spring.
In May there was a corportation election for officers. Gilbert McKown, Jr., was elected marshal; Nathaniel Squires, supervisor; John Evans, treasurer; N. Squires, assessor; John Pope, clerk; L. B. Collamer, weighmaster; and D. C. Eldridge, fire warden. The June rise in the Mississippi flooded the whole country along the river bottoms. The river was higher than ever before known.
By a census taken of the county in June it was found to contain 1,750 souls. The 4th of July was celebrated in due form. The citizens convened at the courthouse, when the exercises were opened with prayer by the Rev. A. B. Hitchcock; reading of the Declaration of Independence by Jas. Grant, Esq., and oration by Dr. Gatchell of Cincinnati, then a resident of this place. A sumptuous repast was served under the large spreading oaks that then adorned the brow of our beautiful bluffs.
A convention assembled at Iowa City, October 7th for the formation of a constitution preparatory to our entrance into the Union as a state. Ebenezer Cook, James Grant and Andrew W. Campbell were the candidates elected to attend.
The wheat crop of 1844 was large and of good quality. Flour from $3.00 to $4.00 a barrel. Wheat from 40 to 50 cents a bushel. Corn and oats, 25 cents.
The financial condition of the country at the close of the year was flattering. Expenditures, $1,757.78, and the receipts into the treasury were $2,503.80. J. C. Quinn, Ashael Hubbard and C. G. McLain, commissioners; John Pope, clerk. County orders were at par and cash in the treasury. The crop of wheat raised this year in the county was estimated at 100,000 bushels, and there were no mills for flouring in the city, yet. The population at the close of the year in the town was estimated at 800 to 1,000. The river closed on the 4th of February, but was in no condition for crossing and on the 20th of the same month broke loose and the steamer Lynx made her appearance at our wharf. The New Haven that had been moored in the Rock Island slough came over the next day and both boats started for Galena, the river being clear of ice, the weather as balmy as spring. Wild geese and ducks were flying north and the winter gently merged into spring.
1845.-The most stirring incident of this year was the murder of Col. George Davenport upon Rock island.
The April election passed off very quietly. L. Summers (Ioco) was elected to the council and J. M. Robertson (whig) to the house. John Forrest, Esq., received the appointment as postmaster in place of D. C. Eldridge, resigned. At the August election J. C. Quinn was again elected commissioner; A. H. Miller, treasurer; W. Barrows, surveyor, and Stephen Hawley, assessor.
The country upon both sides of the river had for several years been infested with a lawless gang of freebooters with their main headquarters probably at Nauvoo, having places of rendezvous upon Rock river, Ill., and upon Sugar creek, in Cedar county, and in Linn county, Iowa. The fugitives from justice in other states had fled to the western wilds for protection and organized themselves into regular bands for horse stealing, counterfeiting, burglary, robbery and murder. They had advanced so far in their grand schemes for crime and escape that in some places justices of the peace and other officers of the county were elected to office by their intrigue and corruption and many men of good standing in the community became associated with them. Bellevue in Jackson county had been the scene of bloodshed and murder in an attempt to arrest some of the banditti. Ogle county in Illinois had become so infested with this gang that at the elections they came boldly forward and proclaimed their strength and determination to rule the county. The courthouse and jail were burned, the sheriff of the county waylaid and shot, and individuals who dared to say aught against the gang were marked as victims of this marauding band of robbers.
At this stage of things, a meeting of the whole county was called by some of the principal law-abiding citizens, when it was resolved to clear the land of the desperadoes. One of the ringleaders, a Mr._____, and his three sons, were taken, tried by a self-constituted jury, condemned and shot the same day. One other of the gang was executed, when the balance fled the country. But Nauvoo was the great depot and the Mississippi river the great thoroughfare.
The murder and robbery of Col. Davenport, one of the oldest citizens of the community, in broad daylight and in full view of our town, sent a thrill of terror to every heart and made citizens tremble for the safety of themselves and property. So foul a crime, attended by such appalling circumstances, aroused the energies of every one to assist in discovering the murderers. Public meetings were called in Davenport and Rock Island to devise means to arrest the fugitives. Companies of horsemen were sent in every direction; the islands and bluffs were searched; parties went up and down the river, but no trace could be found, nor were any signs left by which the murderers could be followed. A reward of $1,500 was offered by George L. Davenport, followed directly after by one of $1,000 by the governor of Illinois; but for weeks no trace could be obtained of them. Subsequently it was ascertained that the robbers had been secreted for some ten days in the bluffs previous to the attack, awaiting an opportunity, which they had on the 4th of July while the whole household of Col. Davenport was at Stephenson attending the celebration. Mr. Davenport lived long enough to relate the circumstances attending the robbery. He had been fearful of robbers and noticed some suspicious looking persons around the towns of Davenport and Stephenson and had taken the precaution to fasten his doors and keep arms in readiness. He had but a few moments before the attack been to the well for water and fastened the door on his return. He was seated in his armchair in his sitting room when he heard a noise in the back part of the house, and opening the door that led there, he was met by three men, one of whom exclaimed, "Seize him Chunky" and at the same moment he received a ball from a pistol through the fleshy part of his thigh. Mr. D. made an effort to reach his pistols that lay upon the mantel but was laid hold of and bound with strips of bark and blindfolded. The key of his safe was obtained and for a few moments he was left alone, when the robbers, unable to unlock the safe, returned and took Mr. D. up stairs where the safe was and compelled him to unlock it. In this effort Mr. D. seems to have had much difficulty, as from loss of blood he was not able to walk and he was carried or pulled up the stairs leaving prints of blood upon the passageway and staircase all the way up, where he had put his hands for support. He was laid upon the bed up stairs after unlocking the safe and showing the robbers where some other money was, in a drawer in the library. Here he fainted and was revived by water being poured upon him. He was choked and otherwise tortured in mind and body to induce him to reveal where more treasure could be found. Upon this point, John Long, who afterward paid the penalty of this murder upon the gallows at Rock Island, stated, upon the stand, that no such abuse was offered to Mr. D.; that he himself went to the well for water and poured it upon him to revive him; that it was not intended to commit murder, but that the pistol of Fox, who shot him went off accidentally, but Mr. Davenport said before his death that they held a controversy about the disposition of him before they left, some being for killing him and burning the house and others for leaving him as he was. The latter being the determination of the majority of them, they hastily fled.
The only booty they obtained was about $600 in money, a gold watch, chain and seals, a double barreled gun and a few other articles of minor importance.
Col. Davenport was a native of England, and removed to the United States in 1804. He was attached to the army from 1805 to 1815, was with Gen, Wilkinson on the Sabine during the trouble with Aaron Burr, and in the war of 1812 was in the defense of Fort Erie and at the battle of Lundy's Lane. He was with the first expedition which ascended the Mississippi to quiet the hostile Indians, and assisted in selecting and planting Fort Armstrong upon Rock island, upon which he settled in 1816 and resided there until his death. He was a partner in the American Fur company until its withdrawal from the Mississippi, and then carried on trade with the Indians alone until he retired from business. He was of a free, generous, open-hearted disposition, full of anecdote connected with his wild and adventurous life, pleasing in his conversation and full of wit and humor. Long had he lived upon the frontier amid wars and fightings; often had his life been in imminent danger from the scalping knife or the tomahawk, and yet in the broad light of day, in a civilized land and amid the life and bustle of the celebration of our natal day he was doomed to die by the hand of desperadoes!
For many weeks no trace could be found of the murderers. Edward Bonney, of Lee county, in the territory of Iowa, undertook to ferret out their place of concealment. He left here about the middle of August and proceeded to Nauvoo, where he first got trace of them by representing himself as one of the gang, which might have been true, and on the 8th of September arrested Fox at Centerville, Iowa, and committed him to jail there. On the 19th he arrested Birch and John Long at Sandusky, Ohio, and brought them to Rock Island, by way of the lakes and Chicago. These three men were well known in the west as leaders of a gang of desperadoes, although they went by different names. Richard Baxter and Aaron Long, a brother of John, were soon after arrested near Galena, Ill., and Granville Young at Nauvoo. These three last were taken as accessories.
In the 6th of October following, bills of indictment were found by the grand jury of Rock Island county, against the whole, except Fox, who had escaped from jail on the 17th of September in Indiana. On the 14th of October, the two Longs and Young were put upon trial, a change of venue being denied, found guilty and sentenced to be hung on the 29th of the same month. Birch, the greatest villain of the whole, turned state's evidence. Baxter was tried separately, convicted and sentenced to be hung on the 18th of November. A writ of error was sued out of the supreme court, a new trial was granted, when he was found guilty and sentenced to the penitentiary for life, where he died in about two years. Birch took a change of venue to Knox county and while awaiting trial escaped from jail. Upon the gallows, John Long confessed all, but died a hardened wretch without the least signs of repentance or fear of death.
The shock given to the western banditti by the prompt and energetic measures taken to bring these murderers to justice so effectually broke up the gang that for a long time the country was free, in a measure, from such men.
The river closed this year the 30th of November.
The first of January of the year 1846 there was but one retail liquor shop in the city. The corporation election came off in April and resulted in the election of James Thorington for mayor, Seth F. Whiting, George W. Alvord, A. H. Miller, John Morton, William S. Collins and A. W. McLoskey for aldermen.
At the April term of the district court this spring there was but one case on the common law docket, and none on the criminal for trial, showing the peaceable and harmonious manner in which the people of Scott county lived at that day.
The 4th of July was celebrated this year in due form, Rev. E. Adams delivering the oration, prayer by Rev. Mr. Brabrook, A. C. Fulton being marshal of the day. It was about the first of this month that A. C. Fulton commenced the building of the first steam mill in the city of Davenport.
At the August election S. C. Hastings was elected to congress; Loring Wheeler, of Clinton county, to the state senate; James McManus to the house; James Thorington, clerk of the district court; A. H. Davenport, sheriff; V. M. Firor, prosecuting attorney; Asa Foster, county commissioner; H. H. Pease, assessor and A. H. Miller, treasurer.
John Bechtel opened his plow factory this year, and carried it on with sucess for some years, when it passed into other hands and is at present carried on by Mr. Krum, whose plows are known throughout the state of Iowa as the best manufactured in the west.
The "Iowa College Association" was formed in April, 1844, but no decided steps were taken or location made until 1846, when Davenport was selected as the place of location, "provided the citizens would raise $1,500 for buildings and furnish grounds for a site." Trustees were elected the following spring and a building erected on the bluff near Western avenue, between Sixth and Seventh streets. The institution was incorporated in June, 1847. In March, 1854, the college grounds (being liable to have streets cut through them) were sold and a new location of ten acres purchased between Brady and Harrison above Tenth street. Here the present college edifice was erected with borading houses in 1855, and in August of this year (1859) the present location was sold to the Episcopal diocese of Iowa for school and educational purposes and the Iowa college is removed to Grinnell, a village in the interior of this state, in Poweshiek county.
At the April election of this year, James Grant was elected district judge over his opponent, Platt Smith, by 448 majority. James Thorington was elected district clerk, and Hiram Price school fund commissioner.
A new paper was started about this time called the Democratic Banner, by Alexander Montgomery, Esq., who sold out to R. Smetham. T. D. Eagal afterward became its editor and proprietor, and after passing through several other hands it was purchased, in 1855, by Messrs. Hildreth, Richardson and West. Mr. Hildreth, the senior editor, died in September, 1857, since which time Messrs. Richardson & West have continued to publish the same under the name of the Iowa State Democrat. Recently a couple of new partners have entered the office, the Daily News has been purchased, and is now combined and published under the name of the Daily Democrat and News. A more extensive notice may hereafter be given of this democratic paper.
1847.-At the August election, H. Leonard was elected sheriff against Robert Christie; A. H. Miller, recorder; A. W. McGregor, prosecuting attorney; Asa Foster, commissioner; John Pope, clerk; J. Thorington, judge of probate; Wm. L. Cook, coroner.
The immigration of Germans was large this year. On the 23d of June 100 were landed from the Anthony Wayne steamer, most if not all of whom settled in this county.
Pork was worth this year but $1.75 to $2.00 per hundred pounds in trade. The first railroad meetings were held this year in relation to building a road from Chicago to Davenport.
The returns of the assessor for the year 1847 were on valuations.
There were 3,652 white inhabitants in the county and two negroes.
The first land agency was opened this year by Cook & Sargent in a small one-story wooden building on the corner of Main and Second streets, where the present banking house now stands.
On the 4th of October of this year, David Hoge, one of our prominent citizens, died of the bilious fever. Mr. Hoge was from Ohio and had emigrated to this country in 1840, was first engaged in merchandising and afterward clerk of the district court to near the time of his death. He was a man of talent and ability, kind and gentlemanly in his intercourse with mankind, of unswerving intgrity and of high tone of moral character. He was cut off in the prime of life, and by his death Scott county lost one of her most valued citizens.
The river closed January 8th and opened March 21st.
1848.-This year opened with much brighter prospects than had been known for years. Emigration had been on the increase. A home market had been created for surplus produce; agriculture had become an object, and the hearts of many that had been desponding began to look for better times.
Up to this time no flouring or saw mill had been erected in this city of any kind. On the 17th of January the first steam mill in Davenport was put in operation by A. C. Fulton. It had been but five months and twenty-two days in building. The main building was fifty-seven feet by sixty feet, four stories high with an engine room twenty-seven feet by fifty feet. Mr. A Nugent was the first miller. Upon the completion of this mill, there was a general burst of rejoicing among the citizens of Scott county. Mr. Fulton gave a grand opening, by inviting the farmers and citizens of the town to a sumptuous repast served up in the new mill on the 17th of January, 1848. Bread was made from flour ground in the mill on the same day of the celebration. The tables groaned with luxuries. Pigs, turkeys and chickens, pies and cakes, were piled upon the festive board and coffee served bountifully, and when Mr. Fulton appeared with all his men who had been employed upon the mill, three tremendous cheers were given him, to which he responded in a most happy and becoming manner, recounting his many difficulties and trials in pressing forward the work upon this mill. About 300 partook of the dinner. The Hon. Jas. Grant spoke on the occasion. He had been in attendance at the legislature at Iowa City, and in his speech announced that he had procured a charter from the legislature for a railroad from the Mississippi river to the Missouri. This information excited applause, and three hearty cheers were given. He was followed by Hiram Price, Esq., who descanted upon the progress of the age, the happy results of the energy and ambition of Mr. Fulton amid all discouragements, and closed with an anecdote connected with the building of the mill. He said that when Mr. Fulton began that mill, an old man, a resident of the city, told him "that he had always believed Mr. Fulton to be crazy, but now he knew it." Mr. Fulton had commenced a steam mill near the site of the old one and after completing the building sold it to Burrows & Prettyman, who put in the machinery and completed it in the same month with that of Fulton's, which he commenced soon after he sold to B. & P.
The opening and celebration of Burrows & Prettyman's mill followed on the 29th of January. It was more magnificent that of Fulton's, if possible. Their mill was forty-two feet by sixty feet, three stories high, and built of brick, and since enlarged. (That of Fulton was of wood.) There were four pairs of four and a half French burrs, two bolts, and they would turn out about 200 barrles of flour per day. Hiram Johnson was the first miller in this mill, one of the best millers west of the Alleghany mountains. A further notice of this mill, its present capacity for flouring, will be given, together with some remarks upon the character of those who thus early did so much to build up and maintain the interests of our county.
The 4th of July was celebrated in due form. The oration was by John F. Dillon, Esq. The official returns of the August election announced Shephard Leffler for congress, John D. Evans representative, James Thorington clerk of the district court and E. S. Wing for county commissioner.
There were thirty-five houses erected this year, nearly all brick.
The winter of 1848-49 was long and severe.
It is not our intention to write the biography of individuals or to fill up this history with personal achievements, but so closely are some of our early settlers identified with our history that it becomes necessary to bring them out in order to trace our progress and prosperity as a city and a county to its true and proper source. There are individuals in the midst of us, prominent citizens, who have passed the ordeal of a pioneer life in the west, and whose early struggles well deserve a passing notice. One among the many is Mr. J. M. D. Burrows of the house of Burrows & Prettyman, merchants and manufacturers in our city for more than twenty years.
Mr. Burrows, well known to the old as well as the new settlers, first came to Iowa (then Wisconsin) in the spring of 1837. He was a native of New York city, but spent his early life with his uncle at Elizabethtown, N. J.
At the age of fourteen he removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, where in the course of ten years he accumulated by his own industry a little property and married. Being in the furniture business he had sold to western merchants along the Mississippi river and consigned on commission to others. In the spring of 1837 he took a trip to St. Louis and the upper Mississippi to look after his business. His ardent and energetic mind was soon awakened on beholding the beauty and magnitude of the Mississippi valley, and he seemed to comprehend at once the prospects for the future of this promising land. He returned to Cincinnati, however, without making any investments or even deciding upon any future operations here. During the following year his mind seemed to dwell continually upon the beauties and prospects of the west, and of Davenport as a center of attraction. So strongly was he impressed with the prospects here that he decided on his second visit. A trip to the west was no small undertaking.
There were others in Cincinnati turning their attention this way and among them our esteemed fellow citizen, John Owens, Esq. It was at this time Mr. Burrows first became acquainted with him. Together in a one-horse buggy they set forth in the spring of 1838 for Davenport, then in Wisconsin territory, and made the trip by land in ten days and a half. They spent a month here examining and admiring the country during which time they purchased a "claim" of eighty acres, long known as the "Owens & Burrows tract," a part of which is still owned by Mr. Burrows, and upon which his beautiful dwelling now stands amid grounds tastefully laid out and covered with vineyards, shrubbery and the choicest fruits planted by his own hands. They also, as was the custom in those days, took each of the a "claim" of 320 acres of prairie land back of the town, feeling probably that if the town ever became of importance, the land might be valuable for farming purposes. This claim was the entire section 17, lying back of West Davenport on Duck creek, and through which the railroad now passes. Messrs. Owens and Burrows drew cuts for choice of halves, dividing the section north and south. Mr. Burrows drew the east half nearest the town. As some demonstration had to be made in the way of improvements in order to hold the claim from being "jumped" they employed Strong Burnell, Esq., to break five furrows around the entire tract at a cost of $15, which was done. Some two years after this, when the land was brought into market and offered for sale, these two claim speculators held a consultation as to the entry of the land at government price; whether the prospects would warrant such an investment. Upon mature deliberation Mr. Owens abandoned his at once, as not being of sufficient value so far from the village and all prairie, some of which has since been sold for $100 an acre. Mr. Burrows gave his part to Dr. Hall, on his paying the $15 paid to Mr. Brunell for the breaking.
Before Mr. Burrows returned to Cincinnati, however, he made arrangements for some improvements upon his first claim, purchased in connectionn with Mr. Owens of forty acres (his present houmestead). There had been seven acres broken upon his forty acres, and he contracted with our fellow townsman, B. F. Coates, Esq., to erect a dwelling house, the same that now stands in front of his present residence. This forty-acre claim cost Mr. Burrows $250, and Mr. Owens paid $200 for his.
Mr. Burrows returned to Cincinnati with a determination to return west again if he could dispose of his property in Cincinnati. He was full of excitement on the subject of emigration to the west. He seemed anxious to be among the first and to cast his lot with the emigrating throng, but in his more thoughtful moods he began to cast about him to see what he could do to maintain his family in this new country. He was doing well where he was. His ambitious views began to dampen, and his excitement began to settle down upon a more solid basis. He felt that there was an uncertainty, a risk in a step so important. He, therefore, to save himself the mortification of a square backout on emigration, offered his property for sale, putting on such a price that he was sure no one would purchase. But in this he was mistaken. In a very, very short time a purchaser appeared and took the property at his offer. In a very few weeks after, all this property was consumed by fire without any insurance. Mr. Burrows had secured his money and seemed to feel that all things pointed in the direction of his desired object. He, threrfore, removed to Davenport with his family, and in 1839 cultivated his seven acres upon his forty acre homestead, and also rented a small tract that had been broken upon the Dubuque road, near Duck creek north of the Lindsley place. Here he labored faithfully the first season and succeeded in raising a crop, walking to and from his work with his little tin dinner pail, eating his lonely meal on the banks of Duck creek. Just before harvest the cattle broke in and destroyed his entire crop. Winter was coming on and the prospects to our old friend, just at that time, must have looked rather dreary. But his energies and ambition were ever adequate to the exigencies of the case.
With fresh thought and new courage he determined to build a store house in the town, and in the spring apply to his friends in Cincinnati for assistance to commence merchandising. He accordingly set about cutting trees and hewing timber for that little store house that stood so long and was occupied by the firm of Burrow & Prettyman on Front street, and has since disappeared to make room for the present spacious edifice. The frame of this first store house he got out with his own hands and with the help of Mr. James Rumbold erected the building covering it with clapboards made from the native oak, with the rude tools of the pioneer. The spring of 1840 found Mr. Burrows with his pecuniary means nearly exhausted and no favorable prospect of business of any kind. The future was dark. He went on to Cincinnati, told his story of the west, its present condition and its future prospects. His uncle purchased him a stock of goods, selecting them himself and Mr. Burrows returned as a commission merchant with new energy and a lighter heart. This was his first attempt at merchandising. He succeeded well, and in the fall went back to Cincinnati and renewed his stock, his uncle becoming his security. This time his cousin assisted in the selection of the goods. There was a surplus of wheat for the first time in the country this fall, and Mr. Burrows purchased and shipped the first bushel of wheat that ever went out of Scott county. It was raised by Messrs. Moss and Bradley, just above the mouth of Duck creerk and sold at 45 cents a bushel. This was the beginning of the producer business in Davenport, a business which in after years, as will be seen, Mr. Burrows entered into very largely. Nearly all produce at that day was shipped up the river for the supply of military posts and the Indian trade. He also bought and packed the first pork that was ever sold in our market. This he took in the spring of 1841 with the hams and shoulders to Prairie du Chien and sold them to Rice and Dowsman, Indian traders, receiving his pay in the only currency then known, silver dollars, and half dollars with a little gold coin. This was much annoyance to him as it was bulky and heavy. He had no trunk nor even a valise, such things not being considered indispensable for such a trip in those days. His business being finished, he found there was no boat for his return to Davenport for some days. By traveling some twelve miles across the country and crossing the Wisconsin river he would reach a place where the stage passed. It was nearly noon, when wrapping his specie in separate parcels to keep them from rattling, putting some in one pocket and some in another, taking some in his hand tied up in his pocket handerchief, he left Prairie du Chien on foot. The Wisconsin river three miles below was very high, rushing and foaming among the willows upon its banks. No ferryman could be found and Mr. Burrows took a canoe that was often used to cross foot passengers and attempted to cross, himself. Although most emphatically a western man, yet his experience in paddling the Indian canoe was very limited, and as he entered the boiling current his frail bark became unmanageable and he was whirled round and round among the willows and snags at the most imminent peril of his life. He could not paddle his canoe and being left to the mercy of the waves he quietly waited the opportunity in his downward passage of being thrown near the opposite shore, a chance which soon offered, when he leaped from his canoe and by wading some distance reached the shore, fastening his treacherous bark to some willows. He regained his path and in a short time came to a creek overflowed, and the bridge gone. Searching for a narrow place he took a running jump and barely landed on the oppsite back. But the sudden deposit of himself and load caused the specie in one of his coat pockets to break loose and fall into the creek carrying with it pocket and all. Nothing daunted our hero soon fished it up from the bottom of the creek and pursued his way to the stage station where he expeced to find conveyance, but was disappointed.
He at once determined to pursue his way on foot to Dubuque. It was late in the afternoon, and the country very sparsely settled, but when nearly dark he came to a farm house. His load of specie began to grow heavy, his weary limbs sought rest; but where to deposit his treasure for the night was his greatest trouble. He was afraid to meet a fellow man, for fear of robbery, but he wanted shelter. He first thought of burying his money until the morning, but he had been observed in his approach to the house and he boldly walked to the door and asked for entertainment for the night of the lady of the house. He was referred to the husband at the stable, who of course turned none away. At supper three other dark visaged, unshaven men appeared at the table which much excited the already burdened mind of our friend. The weight of the coin was so burdensome that he had removed a portion of it from his pockets to his hat, which he kept close by his side, and on being invited to the table carried his hat along and set it down by his side. The dim light of the cabin revealed but partially the company with whom he was destined to spend the night, and robbery and murder seemed to be uppermost in his thoughts. "All were seated," said Mr. Burrows, "when the divine blessing was invoked upon the frugal meal, and a weight rolled from my mind greater than the one I had carried through the day." He was beneath the shelter of a professed disciple of Christ, his supper was taken with a keen relish and his sleep refreshing.
In the morning he pursued his way at an early hour and reached Dubuque about 10 o'clock at night, traveling the whole distance of seventy miles on foot, in less than two days. He soon found a boat and returned to Davenport. Such were the difficulties and dangers incident to a pioneer merchant and trader of that day.
We remember Mr. Burrows, as he was in 1839, full of energy and ambition, shrinking from no labor, however hard or menial that required his attention. In the summer of 1839 while he was living in his first home under the bluff I called with my wife. He was engaged in digging a well. The dirt tub was soon lowered by the attendant at the windlass, and in due course of time Mr. Burrows was drawn up from the bottom of the well, covered with mud and dirt, the very picture of a Dubuque miner. This was our first introduction to him and although time has wrought many changes since, yet have I never been able to discover any labor too arduous for him where his personal attention was required. The perseverance, industry and sterling integrity of Mr. Burrows in addition to his business capacity have always secured him a host of friends.
It was about the year 1840, we believe, that he associated with him in business R. M. Prettyman, Esq., from Maryland, who had stood side by side with him and buffeted alike the financial waves that at times rolled over our western country. Mr. Prettyman has shared alike in the burdens and difficulties of a commercial life, and is deserving of all credit for prompt, persevering application to business. He is known for honest, honorable and high-toned principle as a business man and is kind and unassuming in all his dealings, and of sound, moral worth.
1847.-The first attempt at manufacturing flour by this celebrated firm, Burrows & Prettyman, was at Rockingham, five miles below this city. On account of the foreign demand produce was high all over the United States. In February, 1840, wheat was worth here 70 cents, and before April it fell to 25 cents. There was no probability of a continuance of the war with Mexico, and Burrows & Prettyman had purchased heavily at rates ranging from 60 to 75 cents. Their capital was all invested in wheat, and but for the timely aid of a friend, utter insolvency would have followed. That great financier, and friend to the deserving, James E. Woodruff, of St. Lois, stepped forward, advanced money and Burrows & Prettyman rented the Rockingham steam mill and manufactured the wheat into flour. This operation not only saved them from bankruptcy, but they made more in the same time out of the same capital than ever before or since. "Mr. Woodruff," says Mr. Burrows, "was the best friend that I ever had." It will be recollected that Mr. Woodruff left home for Europe to relieve an overwrought brain by too close application to business which was fast hurrying him to an early grave and was lost with his wife on the ill-fated Arctic at sea.
The manufacture of flour at Rockingham and the profits on a government contract for the supply of military and Indian stores at the forts and trading houses above on the Mississippi river in the spring of 1847 were what gave this firm their first start in business to any great extent. The mill at Rockingham being too small for future operations the new mills then nearly completed in Davenport by A. C. Fulton were purchased. The building alone was completed, ready to receive the machinery. Burrows & Prettyman immediately commenced putting the mill in running order, and on the 29th of January set it in operation. This was an undertaking of no ordinary kind at that early day. The enterprise was an experiment of doubtful issue when we take into consideration the small quantity of wheat grown and the slow progress of settlement then going on in our county. Messrs. Burrows & Prettyman entered into it with many fears but with stout hearts. But scarcely had the contract been closed before Mr. Fulton without stopping to reflect upon consequences started for St. Louis and with the money and paper received for his mill purchased the machinery and materials for another mill still greater in proportions than his first one. And such was the perseverance and energy of Mr. Fulton that he had it completed and running before Burrows & Prettyman got theirs in operation. It stood close by the other on Front street.
Amid all these discouragements and, as they thought, uncalled for and unfair opposition, Burrows & Prettyman had their mill in operation in a few days after that of Mr. Fulton's, and Davenport which before had never possessed a mill of any kind now sent up the steam from two first rate flouring mills, while one could have done the business and was amply sufficient, as was afterward shown. Mr. Fulton ran his mill about a year and failed. It was then rented to G. L. Davenport, William Inslee and L. A. Macklot who ran it a year and a half and lost some $3,000 in the operation, when it was sold to Burrows & Prettyman for the sum of $10,500 who ran it a year, lost money, and then used it two years as a warehouse. The machinery was then sold to parties in LeClaire and was consumed by fire a few years since. The building was torn down to give room for the block of stores built by Mr. Burrows in 1855.
The present mill was remodeled in 1854 at a cost of $25,000. The machinery in this mill is said to be the most perfect in the west. The Albion mills are capable of manufacturing 500 barrels per day of twenty-four hours' run. There were on one occasion 540 barrels of flour made in this mill in twenty-four hours. It manufactures yearly more than any other three mills in the state of Iowa and its flour brings in the New York market 25 cents per barrel more than St. Louis brands made from the same wheat. The largest amount of business ever done by this firm in any one year was in 1855 when it amounted to over $700,000.
The pork packing business in former years was another important branch of business by this house. In 1854 they packed 19,000 hogs which was their heaviest year in this business, although they have done more or less at it for the last twenty years. The present value of the Albion mills is rated at $40,000 and the block of brick stores, five in number, adjoining them is rated also at $40,000 besides the ground.
In the social relations Mr. Burrows stands high. Liberal and sensitive, he has ever been the friend of the poor man. In earlier days and times of financial distress when the little necessities of life were hard to be obtained by the emigrant and pioneer settler, the liberal hand of Mr. Burrows was always open and his great heart always yielded to the wants of his fellowman. Many are the old settlers in Scott, Clinton and Cedar counties who can well remember these numberous acts of kindness; that when there was no flour to be obtained elsewhere nor goods to be had of other merchants, Burrows & Prettyman's store was always open and the "latch string always hanging out." In times of scarcity for seed wheat, and when farmers did not preserve it, Burrows & Prettyman in their foresight and wisdom had taken care to have a supply, and freely loaned it receiving their pay back from the crop produced from it. These acts of kindness and benevolence many remember, and to this day may be seen farmers in our streets with loads of wheat refusing all other offers, until Burrows & Prettyman should have the refusal of it.
But few of the early settlers of Scott county have done so much toward the settlement and progress of it as Mr. Burrows. His long, arduous, energetic and constant application to business seems not to have impaired his health nor dampened his mental vigor. His slender frame but iron nerve still stands unshaken amid the storms of commercial life, and he may be seen, early and late at the counting room and the mill, in New York or St. Paul, pursuing his business with that same elastic step, and with as much life and ambition as he did twenty years ago. By his own industry he has carved out for himself a fortune, and there is none better calculated to enjoy it nor having more sincere friends desirous of his happiness than J. M. D. Burrows. A Christian, not only by profession, he loves and lives by its pure principles and with a most liberal hand gives of his abundance into the treasury of the Lord. He is an elder in the Presbyterian church in this city, of which, we believe, he was one of the founders and has done much for its support and prosperity. Long may he live, enjoying the comforts his industry has purchased among friends new and old, and in the bosom of his pleasant family in quiet and in peace spend the winter of his days, and as his locks whiten with age be able to look back and feel that he has not lived in vain nor been a drone in the hive of humanity.