« ForrigeFortsett »
I have before said that neither hunger or weariness had been realized by the lost children, but no sooner were their excited minds at rest than both began to grow upon then. They laid down upon the wagon, and by the time they had reached the home of the men were to stiff and lame to walk, and had to be assisted into the house, and never did a meal taste sweeter than the one of corn bread, salt pork, and strong coffee, with which they were provided.
In the morning they were conveyed to their home, where you may be certain a glad welcome awaited them. As friends came out to welcome them, little Johnnie pushed passed all, telling them rather crossly to let him alone. He went into the house, and climbing on the first bed he found, covered his face and refused to speak. From that bed it was thought he never would arise. For long days he lay in the delirium of a fever. His limbs were swollen with travel, and scratches and bruises covered his form from head to foot. It seemed evident that had the children spent another night in the woods, their swolen and tired limbs would have refused to carry them further on the next morning, and that only death would have relieved their sufferings.
Years have passed since then. The boys have grown to manhood, and in the changes and chances of pioneer life, and later on in the war of the rebellion, many trials have come to their lot, but in memory's pictures, vivid and distinct above all others stands out the pictures of those three days' wanderings' alone, and Lost IN THE WOODS.
Review of Early History: Fort Atkinson; Old Mission; First
Settlers; First Settler's Cabin; First Things Reviewed; County Organization and County Seat Contest; The Day Family; Judge Reed; Lewiston, Moneek and Decorah; Strategy; Moneek's Defeat and County Seat for Decorah; Freeport's Fight for it and Defeat; Land Office and Court House Fixes it at Decorah; Sketch of Moneel; More about Early Settlers; Pioneer Norwegians, who were the First; Protecting Squatter Rights.
We have in previous chapters given particulars of the early settlement of this county, a sketch and history of the Winnebago Indians who (after the Sacs and Foxes who formerly occupied a large part of Iowa, and were removed by treaty, as will be seen from state history,) occupied this territory just previous to the coming of the whites, their traits and characteristics and in
tercourse between the two races; also a sketch of pioneer life here, and the incidents in the early settlement of the county. We continue the history of the county by first giving a brief resume of leading events.
The erection of the fort for the military supervision of the Indians, overlooking the site of the village which now bears its name-Fort Atkinson—was commenced on the 2d of June, 1840. Capt. Sumner, afterward, the renowned Gen. Sumner, being in command. He remained in charge till 1846, when he left to join the U. S. forces in the Mexican War.
After the removal of the Indians, in 1848, the military appearance of the fort was no longer kept up but it was not entirely abandoned as a post, until some years later. More extended details in regard to it will be found in a succeeding chapter embracing a township history of Fort Atkinson.
It was in the spring of 1842 that Rev. D. Lowery, who had just been appointed an Indian agent, commenced the erection of the mission buildings at Old Mission about five miles southeast of Fort Atkiuson, and in 1843, Col. Thomas, his assistant, built the first grist mill in Winneshiek County. The first permanent settlement in that vicinity commenced in 1847, when those pioneers and homesteaders, Gotlob and Gotleib Krumm, Charles Kregg, and Francis Rogers arrived at Fort Atkinson in June, Gotlob Krumm coming directly from Germany. Gotlob his wife and two children had for their first habitation a deserted Indian wigwam near a beautiful spring. In a few weeks a log house was built for them in the same locality, heing the first actual settlers' cabin in that part of the county.
A. R. Young, who was a soldier in the fort, would be entitled to the honor of being the first settler as he remained and settled after the garrison left, if the time of his coming to the fort could be counted.
Mr. Joel Post, referred to in a previous chapter, was the first actual settler in the reservation. But as his log house, built in 1841, was on the site where Postville now stands, it is out side of our county line, and therefore he cannot be called the first settler in Winneshiek County.
Some authorities say that the Fort Atkinson settlers, named above, did not come until 1848, and that Hamilton Campbell and his wife, who made a claim June 7,1848, in Bloomfield Township, were the first permanent settlers. The names of the old settlers as they successively arrived, have been given in a previous chapter to which our readers are referred for further detail; and we close this resume of that portion of the history by eecalling a few points of interest.
The honor of being the first white child born in the county belongs to Mary Jane, daughter of Mr. Jas. Tapper, one of the
mechanics who built Fort Atkinson, where she was born on the 16th of January, 1841; she married Robert M. Boyce and lives near Monona.
The first church in the county, except the old Missionary Chapel was a Catholic edifice, erected near Twin Springs.
The first public school building was built at the corner of Decorah, Springfield and Glenwood Townships, in 1852.
The location of the first post office has in previous records been given to Jamestown, Frankville Township, in 1851. But there were post offices at Fort Atkinson and Old Mission before that time, as is noted elsewhere.
The first marriage recorded was that of Johannes Evenson to Catherine Helen Anderson, in October 1851, Rev. N. Brandt
performing the ceremony.
The first death was that of a government teamster named Howard, who was frozen to death on the 4th of October, 1840, near the present site of Castalia.
The first newspaper was the Decorah Chronicle, published in 1856. With this hasty rehearsal of leading events, most of them recorded more fully in other chapters, we take up the county history where it was left in the first chapter; we are now approaching an interesting period, embracing the organization of the county and the successive strifes for securing the county seat which was finally and permanently located at Decorah.
To the Day family belongs the unquestioned honor of being the first settlers in Decorah; and as this became the county capitol and has grown to be the most important and influential town, it naturally gives them pre-eminence over other settlers—especially as it is to members of that family to a large extent, that the credit is due of securing the county seat for Decorah as well as the Land Office soon afterward. The Days came to Decorah on the 10th of June, 1849. The family consisted of nine persons, William and Elizabeth Day, Mrs. Day still living, and their sons Claibourne F. Day, Richard V. Day, and John F. Day, being from that time until now prominent and influential citizens. Interesting particulars in regard to their coming and settlement here, will be found in the sketch of Decorah in a succeeding chapter.
Another early settler who was a prominent factor in deciding the county-seat contest, was the late ex-Judge David Reed, whose family settled in the northeast quarter of section 25, in Bloomfield township, in August, 1848. Mr. Reed was born in 1799, was elected County Judge at the age of 52, and held that office from 1851 to 1855. Himself and family are referred to more at length elsewhere in this history.
Of the naming of the county, and of the territory it occupied and other matters before its organization, Mr. A. K. Bailey in his historical sketch, read before the old settlers, July 4th, 1876, said:
“I am compelled at the outset to admit the weakness of my history by telling you that I can give no account whatever, why, when or where Winneshiek derived its name. Tradition says that Hon. Eliphalet Price, one of the pioneers and strong men of Clayton, selected the name, as he did that of Allamakee. No doubt this is the truth; for what could be more proper than that this former home of the Winnebagos should bear the name of this most distinguished of chiefs of that tribe?. Be this as it may, I find the existence of the county recognized in the earliest records of the State. In the first arrangement of Senatorial and Representative districts by the Constitutional Convention of 1846, no mention is made of either of the four counties in this northeastern corner, except Clayton. But in the session laws of the First General Assembly, Winneshiek is twice designated in such a manner as to show its prior existence. An act defining the limits of the second Judicial District, includes by name, Fayette, Winneshiek and Allamakee, but the times for holding courts therein was left entirely to the will of the Judge. This district then comprised all the territory north of the southern line of Winneshiek County and
the west by the west lines of Cedar, Jones, Buchanan, Fayette and Winneshiek. A little later that year I find in the apportionment of State Senators and Representatives that the territory known as the Third Congressional District of Iowa, now containing a population of 160,000 souls was given two Senators, and to Clayton, Fayette, Winneshiek and Allamakee, were acorded one Representative. This was in 1849. The dividing line between Iowa and Minnesota had not been made, and the territory west of us was still in the hands of the aborigines. The Winnebagoes had been removed, but it was enforced removal, and they were frequently returning in large bodies to what was once their choicest and happiest hunting grounds. The hardy pioneers had only just begun to enter upon these lands, and their homes were only claims, to be perfected into titles whenever the territory should come into the market." From the time of first permanent settlement there must have been a rapid influx, for by the Federal census taken in June, 1850, there were five hundred and seventy persons found and enumerated by the census taker."
Of a rumored "oldest inhabitant," Mr. Bailey said. "We learn that there is now living in Canoe Township a Norwegian named Lars Iverson, who came to the county in 1815 along with Government Surveyors, and who after the latter had finished their work, ‘kind er stayed around and has been a resident ever since. If this be so—we have not had time to confirm it-it may be as with the Norske pioneers to America--a Norwegian the first real comer, although not the first 'settler' in the full sense of the term. So far as I have been able to learn, he was the only one who remained as a settler. I know not whether he has responded to this invi
tation which has called us together to-day; but I was in hopes to be able to introduce him to you as that wonderful person so often talked of but seldom seen--the oldest inhabitant. James Daniels of Ossian was also one of the volunteers at Fort Atkinson, bu he returned to Clayton County after his company was disbanded. I know not the date of his return."
COUNTY SEAT CONTESTS.
As early as the fall of 1819, some of the settlers began to agitate the question of organizing a county and to take steps to that purpose. Judge Price, of Clayton, was then here taking the census for State purposes, and as he represented all northwestern Iowa, dhe agreed to attend to the matter for them. An organizing act was passed by the legislature and on the 15th of January, 1851, was approved by the Governor and became a law, constituting Winneshiek an organized county. It embraces 468,000 acres, is bounded on the north by Minnesota, on the east by Allamakee county —the only county between it and the Mississippi river-on the south by Fayette county, and on the west by Howard and Chickasaw counties.
This organizing act appointed, on and after the first day of March, 1851, John L. Carson, the organizing sheriff, and directed him to set stakes for points that might contend for the countyseat, as follows:
One at or near. Louisville on the Turkey_river, another at or near Swaney's (or McSwain's) mill on the Turkey river (the site of Moneek,) and the third at Decorah, on the Upper Iowa river; the elections to be held on the first Monday in April.
Louisville, or Lewiston, as it was called, from the first name of one of its proprietors, was regulary laid out between Fort Atkinson and Old Mission, on the farm of Lewis Harkins, as more fully detailed in a previous chapter. It was never more than a paper town-the quarrel between its proprietors, Lewis Harkins and Francis Rogers proving fatal to its hopes. It is not necessary to tell where Decorah was and is, though it made but little showing then; its history is given elsewhere. Moneek, now almost as much forgotten as Lewiston, was then Decorah's most formidable rival. Moneek had a site in a beautiful valley on the north side of Yellow river, high, well wooded bluffs surrounding it, and was located on the southwest quarter of section 1, in Bloomfi ld township. It was originally settled by Canadians, but some of them had been in the west long enough to get posted in the ways of pioneer speculators, and figured for a booming town from the first. But we will proceed with the county seat contest, and give a history of Moneek further on.
The county documents do not tell much of the story of the exciting contest. All they have is embodied in the following, from the first page of the first records of Winneshiek County: