Monday, October 3, 2016


In time for Labor Day, a  week after I left central Texas, I arrived in Marshalltown IA to spend a month with my sister -- and to enjoy a short visit from my niece, Alissa.   And, eat my fill of Iowa beef and pork!

My last nite on the road was just a few miles down the road, but didn't want to pull in late, so stayed in Chariton, IA.  And look what I found on the night stand in the motel!  YUP!  A Gideon Bible.  I wasn't sure they even made these any longer --been so long since I've seen one!
                                      Welcome to Iowa!


The way of the Mormon travelers was not an easy one; they were met with animosity, fear, and just plain hatred along the way. On June 23, 1844, Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, rode to Carthage, IL to stand trial for inciting a riot. Once in custody, the charges were increased to treason.

On June 27, 1844, an armed mob with blackened faces stormed the Carthage jail . Hyrum, trying to lock the door, was shot in the face and died instantly. Smith fired a pistol that a friend had given him for self-defense. Trying to escape through a window, he was shot multiple times before falling to the ground. He was shot several times more. Five men were later tried for his murder, all were acquitted.

Following the Smith deaths, the Mormons began their trek across Iowa, headed for the Great Salt Lake Valley. The first wagons left Nauvoo, IL on Feb 4, 1846.

Although Feb 4th felt like a spring day, they were soon facing snow and on Feb 19 another 8 inches came with a blizzard and strong wind from the northwest. To add to their suffering, they were short on food and their supplies were depleted within a few weeks.

Stephen Markham headed a Pioneer Company proceeding the group to scout out the best routes, locate trading settlements, build bridges and make other preparations for those who followed.

William Pratt and his brass band provided musical entertainment not only for the travelers but many times the band gave formal concerts to raise funds to purchase food and supplies. Members of the party did what they could to raise funds or barter for supplies by hiring out to split rails, dig wells, husk corn, and other such work when they could find it.

Spring brought new hardships: melting snow, swollen rivers and creeks, strong winds, constant rain, and the once frozen ground became seas of mud. Once mired in the mud, they were lucky if they could make more than ½ mile per day. Not only were the travelers suffering, their draft animals were becoming weak and exhausted from the harsh conditions and the lack of affordable feed along the way.

By April 25th the Mormons reached a spot approximately halfway across Iowa and 144 miles west of Nauvoo. They named the spot Garden Grove.


Early in 1846 thousands of members or the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints(Mormons) left their homs in Nauvoo, Illinois, bound for the Great Basin in the Rocky Mountains.
Moving wesward across Iowa, their advance company made camp here April 25, 1846, calling the site Garden Grove.
Within two weeks, 359 men under the leadership of President Brigham Young cleared and cut 10,000 surplus rails for fencing, and enough logs to build 40 additional houses. 
Garden grove thus became a stopover for the many emigrant wagon trains and handcart groups that followed later.  Death overtook some, however, these were buried here. 
Refreshed by their stop a this place, the Mormon Pilgrims went on to the Rockies where they founded cities ane towns anmade the desert to 'blossom as the rose."

Garden Grove, located on Sac and Fox land on the eastern bank of the Weldon Fork of the Grand River, would be the first permanent settlement that served as a Mormon way-station from 1846 to 1852. Cabins, supplied with well water, housed those who were unable to continue. When the families were able to continue their journey, the cabins, surrounding grounds, and fields served the next families arriving.
Taller grass indicates outlines of the cabins.
Orson Pratt wrote on May 10, 1846, "A large amount of labour has been done since arriving in this grove: indeed the whole camp are very industrious. Many houses have been built, wells dug, extensive farms fenced, and the whole place assumes the appearance of having been occupied for years, and clearly shows what can be accomplished by union, industry, and perseverance."

Within the first 3 weeks at Garden Grove, the Mormons had broken 714 acres of stubborn prairie sod and 200 people were assigned to improve this first way-station.
A second permanent way-station was located at Mount Pisgah, about 50 miles to the west of Garden Grove.

From Garden Grove, the Mormons traveled across southern Iowa to winter quarters located near Omaha, Nebraska.

While he camped near Locust Creek near Corydon, Iowa, William Clayton heard of the birth of his son back in Nauvoo. Overcome with joy, on April 15, 1946, he wrote the hymn "Come, Come, Ye Saints." This hymn became a rallying song along the trail.
"Come, come, Ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as you day.
'Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
All is well! All is well!
. . . Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we'll tell -
"All is well! All is well!"

Seven Mormon families were separated from the larger body of migrants in 1846. They wintered in Clarke County, Iowa. These winter quarters became known as "Lost Camp." The group remained in this location until they resumed their journey to Utah in 1854.

Today none of the original Garden Grove campsite exists. The town of Garden Grove, however was founded near this site. The local school district was named in honor of these early pioneers, the Mormon Trail School District.


Cartoon in Ye Book Of Copperheads, 1863

Copperhead, also called Peace Democrat, was any citizen in the North who opposed the Civil War and advocated restoration of the Union through a negotiated settlement with the South. The New York Times used the word "Copperhead" on July 20, 1861, in reference to the snake that sneaks and strikes without warning.

Democrats accepted the label, re-interpreting the copper "head" as the likeness of Lady Liberty on the one cent coin.  It should be noted that although all "Copperheads" were Democrats, not all Democrats were "Copperheads."  Most northern Democrats were not Copperheads and Democratic supporters of the war were "War Democrats." Copperhead strength was mainly in the Midwest, where many families had Southern roots and where agricultural and rural interests resented the strength of industrialists in the Republican Party and the government.

In addition, groups opposed to conscription and emancipation: the Irish population in New York City, who feared that freed Southern blacks would come north and take their jobs, backed the Peace Democrats. Copperheads also found members in the ranks of those who objected to Lincoln’s repeal of some of their civil liberties. Most famously, he suspended the writ of habeas corpus, responding to riots and militia actions in border states by allowing the indefinite detention of "disloyal persons" without trial. And, there were those who simply wanted an end to the massive bloodshed.

In 1862 the Copperheads organized the Knights of the Golden Circle, which became the Order of American Knights and the Sons of Liberty. Although Republicans accused these groups of treasonable activities, there is little evidence to support it. Most Copperheads were active in politics and were more interested in defeating Republicans to keep the Democratic Party in power. 

Republican prosecutors accused some prominent Copperheads of treason in a series of trials.  On May 1, 1863, former Congressman Vallandigham declared the war was being fought not to save the Union, but to free the blacks and enslave southern whites. The army arrested him for declaring sympathy for the enemy. He was court-martialed by the Army and sentenced to imprisonment, but Lincoln commuted the sentence to banishment behind Confederate lines.

On the other hand, Copperheads were able to block important war legislation on the state and federal level. At the 1864 Democratic national convention, Copperheads gained control of the party platform and inserted a plank calling the war a failure and advocating immediate peace negotiations. Party presidential candidate George McClellan (US Army General) refused to accept the Copperhead peace plank. By the end of the war, the terms Democrat and Copperhead were virtually synonymous and the Democratic Party carried the stigma of disloyalty for decades after Appomattox.

Historians agree that the Copperheads goal of restoring the Union with slavery was naive and impractical.

HOME! Welcome to Iowa, Part III


During the Civil War, a disproportionate number of Iowans served the Union cause.  A draft was not needed in Iowa; Iowa had 12,000 more men than their quota. Although there was a strong anti-war "Copperhead" movement with settlers of southern origins and among Southern Catholics who stayed with the Democratic party, Iowa supported the Union, voting heavily for Lincoln and the Republicans.  Even though there were no battles in Iowa, the state sent large quantities of supplies and food to the armies and to eastern cities. More than 75,000 Iowa men served, primarily in units of the western armies. 13,000 died of wounds or disease. 8,500 Iowa men were wounded. 

Iowa, a new state, had no militia and the treasury was nearly bare when the Civil War started. Two days after the attack on Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861, President Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 volunteers.  Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, telegraphed Governor Kirkwood, "Call made on you by tonight's mail for one regiment of militia for immediate service."

The governor was at his farm near Iowa City and there were no telegraph lines in Iowa beyond Davenport.  The message was carried to the governor by Davenport's Congressman Vandever.  As he read the message, while doing his farm chores, the governor said, "Why, the President wants a whole regiment of men.  Do you suppose I can raise so many as that, Mr. Vandever?"

On April 17, the governor issued a proclamation calling for volunteers and asked that they be ready no later than May 20.  Within a few days, 10 regiments of men had signed up. The first regiment was formed and ready 2 weeks before the designated time.  At camp in Keokuk, 10 companies of 78 men each made up this first regiment.  Burlington, Muscatine, and Dubuque each sent 2 companies. Linn, Johnson, Henry, and Scott Counties, each furnished a company.

It was August, 1861, before any Iowa troops took part in an actual battle. Prior to this, Union troops had been in service in Missouri.  A state divided north-south, Missouri was a battleground from the start. The troops from Iowa spent most of their time running down small bands of rebels and Missouri "bushwackers."  

A Union army of 5,400 men, under General Lyon, met 12,000 southern soldiers at Wilson's Creek near Springfield.  The battle was fought on August 10, 1861. The First Iowa Regiment was in the center of a battle that lasted all day and suffered heavy losses. The Southern commander said:  "Probably no two forces ever fought with greater desperation."  President Lincoln ordered a special proclamation of thanks for the heroism of the men at Wilson's Creek.

The men of the First Iowa Regiment had enlisted for 3 months. Soon after the battle at Wilson's Creek their time was up and they marched home.  Many of them enlisted again in new companies.

With a population of just over 600,000, Iowa had provided 48 infantry regiments, 8 cavalry regiments, 4 artillery regiments, and one unassigned volunteer regiment before the war came to an end. After the war they returned to farm and turned Iowa into an agricultural giant. 

HOME! Welcome to Iowa, Part II


Most of those who came after the land opened in 1833 were from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee, also from New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the Carolinas. Most came as families and many considered Iowa a 'way-station' to the intended goal of land on the prairie or to the west. 

The Norwegians arrived in 1840, Swedish in 1845, and Dutch in 1847. By the 1850s the largest group was the Germans with over 7,000, followed by the Irish with 4,885, England with 3,785, Canada with 1,756, the Netherlands with 1,108, 712 from Scotland, 361 from Norway, 231 from Sweden, and 19 from Denmark. 

Others came to Iowa in the 1850s to start the colonies of Icaria and Amana where property was held in common. Icaria was a French colony settled near Corning, IA in 1858 as a purely socialist community.  Amana was a religious colony formed by German pietists in 1855 and practiced communism until 1932.

Iowa openly recruited immigrants and formed a State Board of Immigration in 1870.  Literature promoting the state, printed in English, German, Dutch, Swedish and Danish, was distributed. Immigration to Iowa continued throughout the remainder of the 19th century, peaking in 1890. In 1860, 106,081 of the 674,913 people living in Iowa were foreign-born.

Initial African-American settlement after the Civil War was in agricultural communities near the southern border, as well as in the river towns on the Mississippi and later in the coal mines.  

Immigration from Italy and Croatia began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; they came to work in the coal mines. The early 20th century saw the start immigration from Mexico, and the mid-1970s immigration from Southeast Asia.

HOME! Welcome to Iowa, Part I

When I start seeing Casey's General Store signs, I know I'm getting close to home.  But I was a little surprised on this trip when I started finding them just north of Fort Smith, Arkansas.  But this was the first sign I saw in Iowa, close enough to lunch time to stop for a pizza

Iowa became the 29th state Dec 28, 1846. Native Americans had been in the area for 13,000 years, but written history began when explorers arrived in the 1680s. 

With  the area a French holding, the earliest non-Native settlers were French. They came to trade fur, preach, discover mines, and explore.  The first to make contact with Indigenous Peoples were probably Frenchmen Louis Joliet and Pere Jacques Marquette. While conducting their mission, to discover the Mississipi River, they made contact with the Illinois tribes in eastern Iowa in 1673.  The first settler appears to have been Julien Dubuque, a French-Canadian who arrived at the lead mines near modern-day Dubuque in 1787. He obtained permission to mine the land from the Meskwaki. A few others secured land grants from France.

When the American Indians first arrived in what is now Iowa, they were hunters and gatherers living in a glacial landscape. More than 3,000 years ago, they were domesticating plants. By the time explorers came Iowa, the Natives were settled and farming with economic, social, and political systems in place. The European traders brought, not only trade goods, but disease; disease that drastically upset the population balance. The arrival of new tribes into the area from other lands brought further social and economic distress. 

Approximately 15000 individual groups or settlements of Native Americans inhabited Iowa.  Others, the Illinois, Sauk, Meskwaki, came due to warfare with other tribes or the French. In early and mid-19th century the Potawatomi and Winnebago moved into Iowa.

By 1804, the Sauk and Meskwaki were on the eastern edge of Iowa along the Mississippi; the Ioway along the bank of the Des Moines River; the Oto, Missouri, and Omaha along the Missouri River; the Sioux in the northern and western parts of the state, and the Pawnee on the western border. 

In 1829, the federal government claimed ownership of the Illinois land in Quashquame's Treaty of 1804 and forced the Illinois, and the Sauk and Meskwaki, to leave their villages in western Illinois and move into Iowa. 

The move was made but not without protest; Sauk leader, Black Hawk, protested the move. In 1832 he returned to reclaim the Illinois village of Saukenuk. For the next 3 months, the Illinois militia pursued Black Hawk and his band of 400 north along the east side of the Mississippi River. Their numbers down to about 200, they surrendered at the Bad Axe River, Wisconsin. Known as the Black Hawk War, the price for this resistance was the surrender of their lands in eastern Iowa.

Called the Black Hawk Purchase, the 50 mile wide strip of land, from the Missouri border to northastern Iowa along the Mississippi River was surrendered. The land originally belonging to the Sauk, Meskwaki and Winnebago was acquired by treaty. The purchase was made for $640,000 on Sep 21, 1832.  Black Hawk was held prisoner at the time the purchase was completed. The Black Hawk Purchase contained an area of 6 million acres and the price was equivalent to 11 cents per acre.

There were additional land surrenders by the Sauk and Meskwaki.  In 1837, the Second Black Hawk Purchase and in 1842, the New Purchase, meant that by 1845 nearly all Sauk and Meskwaki had left Iowa. 

Other groups gave up their Iowa land through treaties. A group of Missouri, Omaha and Oto gave up their lands in western Iowa in 1830. The Ioway left the last of their lands in 1838. The Winnebago and Potawatomi, who had left Iowa once but returned, were again removed in 1846 and 1848. The last remaining group, the Sioux, ceded the last of their Iowa land in an 1851 treaty.

When the Winnebago were forced to leave their homeland in Wisconsin in 1840, the US government offered the tribe protection on their new temporary land in Iowa from other tribes and illegal settlers. Completed in 1842, Fort Atkinson was the only fort built to protect one Indian tribe from another. From 1840-1848, Fort Atkinson protected the Winnebago from their hostile neighbors, the Sioux to the north, and the Sac and Fox on the south. The ‘neutral ground’ was the legal land of the Winnebago. Although there were soldiers, traders, and government workers at the Turkey River Indian Subagency in the 1840s, no other settlers were authorized  in the ‘neutral ground’.  At the same time, this prevented the Winnebago from going beyond the limits of their reservation. 

Prior to Blackhawk's defeat in Wisconsin, he had "tangled" with the US Government at Fort Madison, Iowa. Fort Madison, built in 1808, was the first permanent US military facility on the upper Mississippi. Initially used to control trade along the river, after the War of 1812 it served to prevent the reoccupation of the area by the British. It is the site of Black Hawk's first battle against the US Government, the only true military battle fought west of the Mississippi.  Natives had allied with the British, during the War of 1812. 

The Sauk and Meskwaki were one of the largest tribes in the upper Mississippi River valley.  Originally from the area of Michigan, they moved into the Wisconsin area and by the 1730s they were living in Illinois along the Mississipi and Rock rivers. They lived in their villages a few months each year, then traveled through Iowa and Illinois hunting, fishing, gathering food. In the spring, they traveled to Minnesota, tapped maple trees and made syrup. 

Today, the Meskwaki reside on the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama County, IA. After they had been removed from the state, some members, along with a few Sauk, returned to hunt and fish in eastern Iowa. They approached Governor James Grimes with the request that they be allowed to purchase back some of their original land. They collected $735 for their first land purchase and eventually they bought back approximately 3,200 acres. 

The Black Hawk Purchase in 1832 opened up the lands to settlers. At the time, there were only 40-50 non-Natives settled in Iowa, most were trappers, traders or miners.  

Earliest settlers shipped their goods via steam boat down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. Chicago was becoming a rail road hub and by 1860, Chicago served by a dozen rail lines.  In the early 1850s, river communities of Dubuque, Clinton, Davenport, and Burlington began to form railroad companies. The Union Pacific and the Central Pacific would provide the nation's First Transcontinental Railroad; Council Bluffs was designated as the eastern terminus for the Union Pacific. A short time later a fifth railroad, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, also completed its line across the state.

Railroads provided year-round transportation for agriculture and made industry possible. Before 1870, Iowa had some manufacturing firms in river towns and most new industry was based on food processing: Quaker Oats, meat packing and processing. Railroads created a demand for coal; Iowa had coal and mines were opened. The railroads built branch lines into the coal towns. By 1919, Iowa had 240 mines that produced over 8 million tons of coal per year and employed about 15,000 men.

Friday, September 30, 2016


Set to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy, John L. Campbell, a satirist from Marion County, Mo, 1839, penned the Honey War Poem --it definitely leans toward Missouri! Lucas was the territorial Governor of Iowa Territory and Boggs was Governor of Missouri.

Ye freemen of the happy land Which flows with milk and honey,
Arise! To arms! Your ponies mount! Regard not blood nor money.
Old Governor Lucas, tiger-like Is prowling 'round our borders.
But Governor Boggs is wide awake - Just listening to his orders.
Three bee trees stand about the line Between our State and Lucas.
Be ready all those trees to fall, And bring things to a focus.

We'll show old Lucas how to brag, And seize our precious honey!
He also claims, I understand, Of us three-bits of money.
Conventions, boys, now let us hold Our honey trade demands it;
Likewise the three-bits, all in gold, We all misunderstand it!
Why shed our brother's blood in haste, Because "big men" require it.
Be not in haste our blood to waste, No prudent men desire it.

Now, if the Governors want to fight, Just let them meet in person.
And when noble Boggs old Lucas flogs, T'will teach the scamp a lesson.
Then let the victor cut the trees, And have three-bits in money.
And wear a crown from town to town, Anointed with pure honey.
And then no widows will be made, No orphans unprotected.
Old Lucas will be nicely flogged, And from our line ejected.
Our honey trade will then be laid Upon a solid basis,
And Governor Boggs, where 'er he jogs, Will meet with smiling faces.