CARROLL COUNTY HISTORY
This page was created as part of the
Carroll Co, IAGenWeb Site, by
William L. (Bill) Smith, County Coordinator,
and was most recently updated in Jan 2006.
From Carroll Co 2001 by William L Smith
The following was written by Reverend
Louis L. Akin, my grandfather. I made a few edits to correct some punctuation
Louis was a long time Carroll County
resident although for some brief periods of his life, he ministered churches
in other places. He was born in 1890 at the Akin farmstead which at that time
consisted of the 640 acre section lying just south of Highway 30 and just east
of N-33. In other words, it neighbors the Carroll Country Club to the east.
He lived there all of his boyhood. Thus, the stories below illustrate what it
was like growing up in rural Carroll County between 1895 and 1910. Louis died
in 1984 at the age of 94 and is buried at the Glidden Cemetery.
"Today, January 24th, 1972, we are
experiencing a very violent snow storm aggravated by high gusts of wind and 20
degrees below zero [temperatures]. Today most people are so situated that
they [will] stay indoors and complain about the weather. It was not so with
me as a youth. Many times, I have mounted my cattle pony, and out in the
storm I went to round up the cattle and colts to bring them into shelter. We
called such storms "Wooley-woosters"."
"The thing that were most feared among the
farmers in the days of my youth was the storm. Hardly a farmhouse was without
a storm cave where the family huddled and waited and prayed as the ferocious
storms swept the unprotected prairies."
"I recall that a great, fearsome black
cloud had formed with indications of a tornado in the West. Mother rushed us
children to the cave. We stood in the doorway or stairway of the cave and
watched Father who had been planting corn near the house head for home at full
speed with old Jess and Roy hitched to the corn planter. He had thrown the
planter to the ground and made the run for the cave trying to beat the storm.
He left the team stand and made it just as the storm broke. Uncle Alex,
Grandmother [Susan St. John] Akin's brother, was stone deaf and could not hear
the rumbling of the storm as he puttered about the house. We watched him as
he clung to the giant cottonwood tree several feet away from safety. His
clothing was nearly ripped off, but he survived the ordeal with a laugh."
"The storm past us without damage but
several neighboring homes were damaged and some buildings destroyed. It had
been but a short time before that the Pomroy cyclone had nearly wiped out the
entire town with some deaths and several people hurt."
"We were so isolated from the neighbors
and people that it was a lonely life for a small boy. I am told that "where
ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise". Not knowing what the outside
world was like, I was quite content. I found solace in my mother who was
always understanding and kind. I found companionship in the animals and pets
about the place. Old Shep, the dog, the cats and little pigs were fun to play
with. By giving a little pig special treatment and feed, it soon learned to
know me and follow me about squealing for some special food. But of all the
animals, I was most fond of the colts. I would some times teach them to drink
from a nippled bottle. I would teach them little tricks, such as to shake
hands with their front hoof, or to lie down on the grass where I would lie
close to them. It seemed to me that those colts that I had petted and trained
never forgot me. As they grew older, I broke them to ride and drive. In a
way, I learned to enjoy the solitary loneliness, a desire that stayed with me
for more than 80 years."
"Old Kit, my first riding horse, was an
average-sized, bay-roan horse with a lame right back leg. She was very
gentle, and safe as a horse could be for us children to play with. My sisters
had a side-saddle as was used by ladies in those days. I had a very small old
saddle that my father had repaired though it had been discarded years before.
Old Kit had one habit of which we learned to beware. When we tightened the
saddle girth (belly-band, we called it) she would swing her head around and
bite. I recall that one time she turned and caught me by the hair. We
children would ride Old Kit about the homestead with as many on her back as
could climb on - some times as many as four of us. There was always the risk
taken by the back rider of being pushed off and left behind."
"It became a standard joke among the women
of the neighborhood to plan to meet one another "if the creeks don't rise".
It was a common sight to see the Middle Raccoon River (the creek through the
farmstead) swell until it covered thousands of acres of land. It just could
not be crossed until the overflow had subsided. There was no drainage to
carry the surplus water away. Most of the 400 acres south of the railway
(where the Robert Akin farm is located) would be covered by most floods."
"After a heavy rain, the cattle and colts
must be looked after. Father would saddle old Sam (the buckskin mustang) and
I would take Nell (a white Normandy breed mare) and ride from end to end of
the pastures. Often, I now remember, the water would be belly deep on the
horses. Sometimes the current was very swift, and I now believe that our
horses knew more than we did. We let them pick their own way. Now and then
they stumbled, but never dismounting their riders. If I had been thrown, it
might have been just too bad for me because I could not swim and Father might
be a half mile away. We would drive the cattle to the higher ground to wait
until the water had subsided. Most every year, a few head would be lost. A
few even were carried away by the current and we would find them in neighbors
fields the next day."
"While growing up at the Farmstead,
countless peddlers tramped the roads carrying their packs on their backs
filled with goods to sell to the farmers along the way. (That is the way that
Younkers of Des Moines got started in the mercantile business.) Signs were
put up around the Akin Farmstead warning the peddlers to keep out, but
occasionally one would stop in regardless of the warning. Father would order
them off the place and if they did not move on, one bullet near their feet
persuaded them to move on and quickly. One day when father was in Carroll,
one of my sisters decided she would see what all the peddler had in his pack.
He was showing her a necklace when he leaned over and kissed her. Out of the
house came Mother with a tea kettle of boiling water to throw on the peddler.
At that moment, Father drove into the yard. One shot from the trusty revolver
that raised a cloud of dust about the peddlers feet was a plenty. Off through
the grove the peddler ran - I think a little faster than a bullet could
travel. This became a family joke and I think that my sister never quite
lived it down."
It is possible that the above information contains errors: This
Bachman family probably arrived in Carroll County by 1875. The 1875 State of
Iowa Census for Carroll County includes a Peter Bachman, enumerated
immediately after Herman “Hammer”. Also, the 1880 US Census in Carroll
County, includes Peter and Gesina (Rose Ann also went by the name of Gesina)
Bachman, enumerated immediately following the Herman Hamers family. In 1880,
Peter and Gesina’s family included five children, the youngest just 3 yrs of
age; thus she was probably born in Carroll County. In addition to the four
children named above, the 1880 census includes 6 year old Peter Bachman in
this family. [1880 U.S. Census from L.D.S. film #1254330, Carroll County,
Kniest Township, page 22]
[The 1875 Iowa State Census for Kniest Township, Carroll County was bound as a
book in the Carroll County Court House, 2nd floor vital statistics room in
1995. I believe that it may currently be found on the 1st floor of the Court
House where the vital statistics room is now located.]
Anita Henning <email@example.com>
Lemon Grove, CA