Burlington Weekly Hawkeye
Burlington, Des Moines, Iowa
July 8, 1857
Letter from the West.
Correspondents of the Cincinnati Gazette.
Mount Pleasant- Comforts and Attractions- New England Homes-Churches and
Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, June 22, 1857.
Mount Pleasant is a thriving town of 5000 inhabitants, the
county seat of Henry county and situated thirty miles northwest of Burlington.
The Burlington and Missouri Railroad which is designed to intersect the Missouri
river at the mouth of Platte, is completed to this point. It runs through a
beautiful country, fertile, well watered, rolling, with a sufficiency of timber,
and dotted all over with improved farms, substantial farm buildings, and
flourishing towns. The whole region of the valley of the Des Moines, including
the triangle between that river and the Mississippi is one of the garden spots
of the West, smiling with plenty and full of the indications of substantial
progress. Take this little town for example.
Here are a number of brick blocks on the public square that
would not disgrace Walnut or Main streets. The occupants appear to be full of
bustle and business. Scattered over the wide area which is covered by the town,
embosomed among trees and shrubbery, are numbers of tasteful dwellings, which
show that the plans and pictures in Downing's books have been studied west of
the Mississippi. Half a dozen church spires, surmounting respectable and even
elegant edifices, give relief to the picture, while if you stroll a little out
of town, you find a large and handsome structure of brick, which, on inquiry,
you find to be a University. This belongs to our Methodist friends, shrewd
pioneers in education, as in every other good cause, who, a little ambitiously,
perhaps, have designated their respectable college the Iowa University. In
another direction the foundation and first story of a massive Asylum for
Lunatics, which, when completed will do honor to the State, are just reared
above the prairie,and if after the stroll which we have suggested, you fell
inclined to take your ease in your inn, a house will all "modern
improvements" including a printed bill of fare of dinner, invites you to
tables groaning with plenty, (and in this instance, for once, well cooked,) nice
airy chambers, and good beds, but with not a drop of the "creature" to
be had for love nor money. This is one specimen of Iowa.
Another specimen, more unique- a little colony of Yankee
farmers have settled together on a beautiful prairie, fifteen miles south-west
of Burlington, and have given to the cluster of houses, hardly enough together
to be called a village, the name of Denmark. It is a piece of New England,
transplanted bodily, and set out in the prairie. The neat houses, white with
green blinds, comfortable barns and roomy sheds; the roads shaded by plantations
of maple and locust; the trim flower gardens; the Congregational Church, as near
the center of the settlement as may be, with spire and bell, and long rows of
sheds to shelter the farmer's team when he comes to "meeting" the snug
district school, and not far off and in dignified companionship with the church,
the stately Academy, also furnished with its spire and bell; all make it a
feature of New England as true to the life as you can see in the old Bay State.
Enter their houses and you will find rye and Indian bread, and Johnny cake.
Their text books of political and religious faith are the Tribune and
Independent, and they go to meeting of Sundays (morning and afternoon service at
sound of bell, with an hour's intermission between.) and sing out of Ward
Beecher's hymn book to the good old tunes of Old Hundred and Mead. and noble men
and women they are, true as steel to the faith of their fathers.
Their thrift and economy have been amply rewarded. Their
farms purchased at Congress price are worth $30 per acre, with ready market at
the river for all they can raise. There are some thirty dairy farms in the
settlement, keeping each fifteen to one hundred cows, and devoted exclusively to
making cheese, which competes with the Western Reserve article in the Burlington
market. Their chief difficulty is the high price and scarcity of labor. Farm
hands command $22 per month, and year before last fields of wheat were permitted
to rot on the ground, because labor could not be procured to harvest them.
The tide of emigration through the country to Western Iowa
and Nebraska is immense. - Like an army of locusts it sweeps every thing eatable
out of the country. This morning a dozen wagons of movers, drawn each by two
yokes of oxen, went through Mount Pleasant, every wagon well garnished with
children's faces. Of course they were headed towards the setting