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Carroll County Genealogy

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     Science has dug into the rocks and delved into the earth, and buried cities have yielded up their treasures of stone and tablet and roll, all engraved with some story of the human race; but with all the advantage of this research, millions of people have inhabited the earth of whom we have scarcely any knowledge, and the facts concerning their existence will forever remain a profound mystery.
     The race or races who occupied this beautiful prairie country before the advent of the whites from Europe had no literature, and therefore have left no history of themselves. Not even traditions to any extent, have been handed down to us. Hence, about all we know of the Indians, previous to the exploration by the whites, is derived from mounds and a few simple relics.
     The mounds wore erected by a people generally denominated Mound Builders, but whether they were a distinct race from the Indians is an unsettled question. Prof. Alex. Winchell, of the Michigan State University, as well as a number of other investigators, is of the opinion that those who built mounds, mined copper and iron, made elaborate implements of war, agricultural and domestic economy, and built houses and substantial villages, etc., were no other than the ancestors of the present Indians, who like the ancient Greeks and Romans, were more skilled in the arts of life than their successors during the middle ages. Most governments have their periods of decline, as well as those of progress. The Persians, Hindoos and Chinese although so long in existence as distinct nations, have been for ages in a state of decay. Spain and Italy do not improve, while Germany and America are the foremost nations of the world, and now have their turn in enjoying a rapid rise. Similarly, the Indians have long been on a decline in the practical arts of life. The decline of this race of "noble" red men, as described by Fenimore Cooper, seems to have begun and has been very rapid since the advent of the white races in this country, and despite their close contact with the highest order of civilization, they have become the victims of the vices and crimes as inculcated into their lives by the teachings and practices of that same civilization, until they have degenerated into savages.
     The whole story of the treatment of the Indians by the whites from the time that Captain Weymouth, on an exploring tour along the coast of Maine, in 1605, very treacherously kidnapped five of the natives and took them back to England, to the Spanish conquest, the Indiana have been deceived, mistreated and robbed. In evidence of this statement it is only necessary for a person to read the details of the heartless expeditions conducted by De Soto and Coronado, into the heart of the modern Louisiana purchase.
     For the Indian it has been an unequaled struggle, this battle with the tireless and ever-increasing forces of civilization which have forced him from the scene of his happy hunting grounds and from this beautiful country forever, until step by step he has journeyed toward the setting sun, the remnant of his tribe, the last of a mighty race.
     Let civilization today carve from the purest and whitest Cararra stone the heroic form of a savage after the noblest type of Cooper, and place him in the Temple of Fame. Clothe him in his robes and furs, arm him with bow, arrows and war club, crown on his corrugated brow the sunlight of dawning civilization and nobility, and cut deep at the base his beautiful greeting to the whites: "The sun was never so bright, the winds were never so kind, the fields were never so green, the streams never laughed so merrily, as on the day that saw thy coming, 0, white man."
     Nearly all modern authorities unite in the opinion that the American continent was first peopled from Eastern Asia, either by immigration across Behring's Strait or by shipwrecks of sailors from the Kamchatkan and Japanese coast. If mankind originated at the North Pole, and subsequently occupied an Atlantic continent, now submerged, it is possible that the American Indians are relics of polar or Atlantic races.
     The ancient race which built the towns and cities of Mexico and the Western United States is called the Aztec, and even of them is scarcely anything known save what can be learned from their buried structures. The few inscriptions that are found seem to be meaningless.
     Indian mounds are found through the United States east of the Rocky mountains, but are far more abundant in some places than others. In this State they abound near the principal rivers. They vary in size from a few to hundreds of feet in diameter, and from three to fifteen feet or more in height.
     They are generally round, or nearly so, but in a few notable exceptions they bear a rude resemblance in their outline to the figure of some animal. Their contents are limited, both in quantity and variety, and consist mainly of human bones, stone implements, tobacco pipes, beads, etc. The stone implements are axes, skinning knives, pestles and mortars, arrow points, etc. The human bones are often found in a mass as if a number of corpses had been buried together, and indicate that their possessors were buried in a sitting posture. Judge Samuel Murdock, of Elkader, this State, who has made this subject a special study for many years, is of the opinion that these remains are not of subjects who were inhumed as corpses, but of persons who, under the influence of savage religion voluntarily sacrificed themselves by undergoing a burial when alive.
     In the process of evolution which has characterized the wonderful growth and development of the Western World, Iowa was first a part of a French province, then a part of the celebrated Louisiana purchase; then a part of Wisconsin Territory. It was organized as a Territory of Iowa, July 4, 1838, and its knock at the door of Statehood was answered eight years later, on December 28, 1846. The eastern portion, first          

opened to settlement, was known for some time as the Black Hawk purchase— presumably from the fact of Indian title having been purchased from the celebrated chief of that name. The western portion, purchased at a subsequent date, was known to the emigrants as the "New Purchase." As admitted into the Union, the State comprised a little over 55,000 square miles; or in round numbers 35,229,000 acres. It is an elevated table land lying between those two great rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri, which form its eastern and western boundaries, respectively. A way to the north of it the gently rolling prairies of Minnesota wear their golden grains, and on the south, fair Missouri sleeps 'neath the summer sun.
     The transformation, growth and development of this part of Iowa was the product of the Omnipotent. But yesterday an unbounded wilderness— a vast unknown expanse— the abode of savagery— the playground of the bison— the happy hunting grounds of the nomads of the plains who reigned in peace serene. In one brief generation we have looked with amazement at the flight of vast herds of wild game and the advancing caravans of immigrants, saw the locomotive climb chamois-like over cliffs and the very crest of the Rocky Mountains; saw a web of steel spread over the wilderness by the great spiders of commerce; the tepees of the Indians swept away to make room for the factory, church and schoolhouse, and the trail of the '49ers marked by the decaying bones of both man and beast. Amid the roar of the mill wheel, the din of the factory whistles and the clatter of wheels of trade, the people of the East have swept with their telescopes the far West for the glitter of gold and the broad domain of the Western States for the fruits of agriculture alone, and this County of Carroll—in this State 'of golden groups of grain and great herds of cattle, has caught the eye of the East, and the query comes; what wonders have Nature's storehouse given to enrich? Turn the leaves of time backward but the part of a century and the reader would observe a landscape of great beauty, selected and governed by the red men as a vast camping ground. These rolling hills and broad level fields presented a far different appearance than they do now. Where the Indian's camping ground stood we see beautiful homes, churches, commercial facilities and educational advantages.



     The climate is all that could be desired. The peculiar dryness of the air makes this section of Iowa one of the healthiest localities to be found in the United States. Spring and fall are mild and pleasant. Changes in temperature are not so sudden as is the case in the East. The summers are warm but not sultry, as there is generally a light breeze.


                     EARLY HISTORY.

     In writing the early history of the county it is, of course, similar to the general history of the western part of the State at that time. There were the same hardships and privations and at the same time the joys of hospitality that was always enjoyed by the early settlers, the kind that was genuine and open. The traveler always found a welcome at the pioneer's cabin. It was never full. Although there might be a guest for every puncheon, there was always still "room for one more," and a wider circle would be made for the newcomer at the big fire. To his neighbors the pioneer was equally liberal. If a deer was killed, the choicest meats were sent to his neighbor, though half a dozen miles away perhaps.
     The log cabins of the early pioneer were built of logs cut about 16 feet in length and about even size, then hauled to the building place. Then the neighbors would gather for a "house-raising," as it was called. Four good choppers with heavy axes would each take a corner, where a log wan rolled up, cut out a notch to tit the "saddle" previously cut, then two men would tit the saddle and notch together, continuing this until the walls were high enough; then put the next log in three feet, then another end log each running in three feet until the ends were topped off; this left it ready to cover with clapboards, which were four
feet long, and made by cutting down a long, straight-grained tree, sawing in four-foot lengths. These logs were then split into "bolts," the heart taken out and with a "flow" and mallet made into boards, half an inch in thickness and 10 inches wide. These were laid on the cross logs already described, breaking joints until a corner was laid, and over this a small log or pole to hold the boards firmly down, continuing this until the roof was completed. These roofs were fairly good for turning the rain, but many a time when sleeping in the loft, as the upper floor was called, the "boys" would feel the snow blowing between the boards of the roof; however, they would cover up their heads and sleep soundly to find in the morning that their beds were covered with snow. Talk of hardship, it was nothing of the kind, and was considered real fun by the youngsters, and they were a much healthier and robust lot than those who today are coddled and reared in steam-heated houses.
     The stairs were pins driven into the logs and were ascended through a hole cut in the floor. The door was made of clapboards fastened to a frame with wooden pins. The hinges were made of wood, the latch and fixtures of wood, a strong buckskin string was fastened to the latch, then passed up through a hole in the door; to open was simply to pull the string, and to fasten the door to pull in the string, which was seldom
done; hence the saying, "The latchstring is always out
for you." There was always genuine hospitality in those good old days.
     The chimney to the Western pioneer's cabin was
made by leaving in the original building a large open



place in one wall, or by cutting one after the structure was up, and by building on the outside, from the ground up, a stone column or a column of sticks and mud, the sticks being laid up cobhouse fashion. The fireplace thus made was often large enough to receive firewood six to eight feet long. Sometimes this wood, especially the "backlog," would be nearly as large as a saw log. For a window, a piece about two feet long was cut out of one of the wall logs, and the hole closed, sometimes by glass but generally with greased paper. Even greased deer hide was sometimes used. A doorway was cut through one of the walls if a saw was to he had; otherwise the door would be left by shortened logs in the original building. In the interior over the fireplace would be a shelf called "the mantel," on which stood a candlestick or lamp, some table and cooking ware, possibly an old clock, and other articles; in the fireplace would be the crane, sometimes of iron, sometimes of wood: on it the pots were hung for cooking: over the door, in forked cleats, hung the ever-trustful rifle and powder-horn; in one corner stood the larger bed for the "old folks," and under it the trundle-bed for the children; in another stood the old-fashioned spinning-wheel, with a smaller one by its side; in another the heavy table, in the remaining was a rude cupboard holding the tableware, which consisted of a few cups and saucers, and blue edged plates, standing singly on their edges against the back, to make the display of table-furniture more conspicuous; while around the room were scattered a few splint bottomed chairs, and two or three stools.
     These simple cabins were inhabited by a kind and true hearted people. They were strangers to mock modesty, and the traveler seeking lodging for the night, or desirous of spending a few days in the community, who was willing to accept the rude offering, was always welcome, although how they were disposed of at night the reader might not easily imagine; for as described, a single room was made to answer for kitchen, dining room, sitting room, bedroom and parlor, and many families consisted of six or eight members.
     The bed was often made by fixing a post in the floor about six feet from one wall and four feet from the adjoining wall, and fastening a stick to this post about two feet from the floor, on each of two sides, so that the other end of each of the two sticks could be fastened to the opposite wall; clapboards were laid across these, and thus the bed was made complete. Guests were given this bed, while the family disposed of themselves in another corner of the room or in the loft. When several guests were on hand at once they were sometimes kept over night in the following manner: When bedtime came the men were requested to step out of doors while the women spread out a broad bed upon the mid floor, and put themselves into bed in the center, the signal was given, and the men came in and each husband took his place in bed next his own wife, and single men outside beyond them. They were generally so crowded that they had to lie "spoon" fashion, and whenever anyone wished to turn over he would say "spoon," and the whole company of sleepers would turn over at once. This was the only way they could all keep in bed.
     To witness the various processes of cooking in those days would alike surprise and amuse those who have grown up since cooking stoves and ranges came into use. Kettles were hung over the fire, suspended with pot hooks, iron or wooden, on the crane, or on poles one end of which would rest upon a chain. The long handled frying pan was used for cooking meat. It was either held over the blaze by hand or set down upon the coals drawn out upon the hearth. The pan was also used for baking pancakes, flapjacks, also batter cakes etc. A better article for this, however, was the cast iron spider or skillet. The best thing for baking bread in those days, and possibly even in these latter days, was the flat bottomed bake kettle, of greater depth, with closely fitting cast-iron cover, and commonly known as the Dutch oven. With coals over and under it, bread and biscuits would be quickly and nicely baked. Turkey and spare-ribs were sometimes roasted before the fire, suspended by a string, a dish being placed underneath to catch the drippings.
     Hominy and samp were very much used. The hominy, however, was generally hulled corn—boiled corn from which the hull or bran had been removed by hot lye, hence sometimes called lye hominy. True hominy and samp were made from pounded corn. A peculiar method of making this as well as real meal for bread, was to cut out or burn a large hole in the top of a large stump in the shape of a mortar, and pounding the corn in this by a maul or beetle suspended by a swing pole like a well sweep. When the camp was sufficiently pounded it was taken out, the bran floated off, and the delicious grail  boiled like rice.
     The chief articles of diet in those early days were cornbread, hominy or samp, venison, pork, honey, pumpkin (dried pumpkin for more than half the year), turkey, prairie chicken, squirrel and some other game, with a few additional vegetables a portion of the year.
Wheat bread, tea, coffee and fruits were luxuries not to be indulged in except on special occasions.
     Besides cooking In the manner described, the women had many other arduous duties to perform, one of the chief of which was spinning. The big wheel was used for spinning yarn and the little wheel for flax. These stringed instruments furnished the principal music for the family, and were operated by our mothers and grandmothers with great skill, attained without pecuniary expense, and with far less practice than is necessary for the girls of our period to acquire a skillful use of costly and elegant instruments. But those wheels, indispensable a few years ago, are now all suspended by the mighty factories which overspread the country, furnishing cloth of all kinds at an expense many times less than would he incurred at that time.

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