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HE object of this work is to place upon record, in a reliable manner and
in a permanent form, whatever incidents of importanc have transpired
within the limits of Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties since their first settlement. As preliminary to this, a brief History of Iowa is given. including an account of its discovery and occupation; its Indian tribes; a sketch of preterritorial times; an outline of Iowa when a Territory; its State organization, growth and progress; its public institutions, public lands and schools: its political and war records. These facts are from the pen of a well-known writer, and may be relied upon as accurate.
In the history of the Counties, facts and figures, incidents and reminiscences, anecdotes and sketches, are given, with a variety and completeness, it is thought, commensurate to their importance. This has necessiiated, ou the part of the editorial staff, an appreciable quantity of persevering effort; but their labor has been cheered by the cordial assistance and good will of many friends to the enterprise in both ('ounties, to all of whom grateful acknowledgments are tendered. They have enabled us to give to the present generation a valuable reflex, it is believed, of the times and deeds of pioneer days; and to erect to the pioneer men and women of Wiuneshiek and Allamakee Counties a merited and lasting monument. November, 1882.
W. E. A.
HISTORY OF IOWA,
DISCOVERY AND OCCUPATION. The name Iowa is said to signify "The Beautiful Land," and was applied to this magnificent and fruitful region by its ancient owners, to express their appreciation of its superiority of climate, soil and location. Prior to 1803, the Mississippi River was the extreme western boundary of the United States. All the great empire lying west of the "Father of Waters," from the Gulf of Mexico on the south, to British America on the north, and westward to the Pacific Ocean, was a Spanish province. A brief historical sketch of the discovery and occupation of this great empire by the Spanish and French governments will be a fitting introduction to the history of the young and thriving State of Iowa, which, until the commencement of the present century, was a part of the Spanish possessions in America.
Early in the Spring of 1542, Ferdinand DeSoto discovered the mouth of the Mississippi River at the mouth of the Washita. After the sudden death of DeSoto, in May, of the same year, his followers built a small vessel, and in July, 1543, descended the great river to the Gulf of Mexico.
In accordance with the usage of nations, under which title to the soil was claimed by right of discovery, Spain, having conquered Florida and discovered the Mississippi, claimed all the territory bordering on that river and the Gulf of Mexico. But it was also held by the European nations that, while discovery gave title, that title must be perfected by actual possession and occupation. Although Spain claimed the territory by right of first discovery, she mode no effort to occupy it; by no permanent settlement had she perfected and held her title, and therefore had forfeited it when, at a later period, the Lower Mississippi Valley was re-discovered and occupied by France.
The labors of the zealous French Jesuits of Canada in penetrating the unknown region of the West, commencing in 1611, form a history of no ordinary interest, but have no particular connection with the scope of the present work, until in the fall of 1665. Pierre Claude Allouez, who had entered Lake Superior in September, and sailed along the southern coast in search of copper, had arrived at the great village of the Chippewas at Chegoincegon. Here a grand council of some ten or twelve of the principal Indian nations was held. The Pottawatomies of Lake Michigan, the Sacs and Foxes of the West, the Hurons from the North, the
Illinois from the South, and the Sioux from the land of the prairie and wild rice, were all assembled there. The Illinois told the story of their ancient glory, and about the noble river on the banks of which they dwelt. The Sioux also told their white brother of the same great river, and Allouez promised to the assembled tribes the protection of the French nation against all their enemies, native or foreign.
The purpose of discovering the great river about which the Indian nations had given such glowing accounts, appears to have originated with Marquette, in 1669. In the year previous, he and Claude Dablon had established the Mission of St. Mary's, the oldest white settlement within the present limits of the State of Michigan. Marquette was delayed in the execution of his great undertaking, and spent the interval in studying the language and habits of the Illinois Indians, among whom he expected to travel.
About this time the French government had determined to estend the Dominion of France to the extreme western borders of Canada. Nicholas Perrot was sent as the agent of the government to propose a grand council of the Indian nations, at St. Mary's.
When Perrot reached Green Bay, he extended the invitation far and near; and, escorted by Pottawatomies, repaired on a mission of peace and friendship to the Miamis, who occupied the region about the present location of Chicago.
In May, 1671, a great council of Indians gathered at the Falls of St. Mary, from all parts of the northwest, from the head waters of the St Lawrence, from the valley of the Mississippi and from the Red River of the North. Perrot met with them, and after grave consultation, formally announced to the assembled nations that their good French Father felt an abiding interest in their welfare, and had placed them all under the powerful protection of the French Government.
Marquette, during that same year lan gathered at Point St. Ignace the remnants of one branch of the Hurons. This station, for a long series of years, was considered the key to the unknown West.
The time was now auspicious for the consummation of Marquette's grand project. The successful termination of Perrot's mission, and the general friendliness of the native tribes, rendered the contemplated expedition much less perilous. But it was not until 1673 'that the intrepid and enthusiastic priest was finally ready to depart on his daring and perilous journey to lands never trod by white men. Having imploring the blessing of God upon his undertaking, on the 13th day of May, 1673, with Joliet and five Canadian-French voyageurs, or boatmen, he left the mission on his daring journey. Ascending Green Bay and Fox River, these bold and enthusiastic pioneers of religion and discovery proceeded until they reached a Miami and Kickapoo village, where
Marquette was delighted to find a “beautiful cross planted in the middle of the town, ornamented with white skins, red girdles and bows and arrows, which these good people had offered to the Great Manitou, or God, to thank Him for the pity He had bestowed on them during the winter, in having given them abundant chase.” This was the extreme point beyond which the explorations of the French missionaries had not then extended. He called together the principal men of the village, and informed them that his companion, Joliet, had been sent by the French Governor of Canada to discover new countries, to be added to the dominion of France; but that he, himself, had been sent by the Most High God, to carry the glorious religion of the Cross; and assured his wondering hearers that on this mission he had no fear of death, to which he knew he would be exposed on his perilous journey.
Obtaining the services of two Miami guides, to conduct his little bard to the Wisconsin River, he left the hospitable Indians on the 10th of June. Conducting them across the portage, their Indian guides returned to their village, and the little party descended the Wisconsin, to the great river which had so long been so anxiously looked for, and boldly floated down its unknown waters.
On the 25th of June, the explorers discovered indications of Indians on the west bank of the river, and landed a little above the mouth of the river now known as Des Moines, and for the first time Europeans trod the soil of Iowa. Leaving the Canadians to guard the canoe, Marquette and Joliet boldly followed the trail into the interior for fourteen miles (some authorities say six), to an Indian village situated on the banks of a river, and discovered two other villages, on the rising ground about half a league distant. Their visit, while it created much astonishment, did not seem to be entirely unexpected, for there was a tradition or prophecy among the Indians that white visitors were to come to them. They were, therefore, received with great respect and hospitality, and were cordially tendered the calumet or pipe of peace.
They were informed that this band was a part of the Illini nation, and that their village was called Monin-gou-ma or Moingona, which was the name of the river on which it stood. This, from its similarity of sound, Marquette corrupted into Des Moines (Monk's River), its present name.
Here the voyagers remained six days, learning much of the manners and customs of their new friends. The new religion they boldly preached, and the authority of the King of France they proclaimed were received without hostility or remonstrance by their savage entertainers. On their departure, they were accompanied to their canoes by the chiefs and hundreds of warriors. Marquette received from them the sacred calumet, the emblem of peace and safeguard among the nations, and re-embarked for the rest of his journey.