HEAR DIRECTLY from some of the Pioneer Frontiersmen of the Midwest.
This treasury of FIRST HAND stories was written by the MIDWEST FRONTIER PIONEERS of 1815-1845(Wisconsin Territory and Iowa Territory) and can bring HISTORY TO LIFE.
(Complete with index, glossary and footnotes to help with understanding)
Native American Indians, Frontier Life, and Frontiersmen!
MIDWEST FRONTIER STORIES – COLLECTION 1
|From Keokuk under the Hill: It was a very small country home on Indian Creek in Van Buren County but it was progress. The first one, before this, was of round logs just as they fell under the axe in the woods, chosen small because there were not many arms or shoulders to lift them in that way of neighborly help that then prevailed, and when put in place that house was quite open between the logs. That was the best that could be done then but this second pioneer home was better. When it came there were more neighbors, more arms and shoulders to lift the fallen burden of the forest, and what counted for much in the matter there were more turkeys and chickens to go on the table that fairly swayed in those days under the load of the hospitalities of pioneer house-raising.|
|From Construction Techniques: In the construction of our log houses no nail or sound of the hammer was heard. The wooden pin was our sole reliance, so used to the pin had we become. Wagon-makers pinned the spokes into the hub. So honest and faithful was this done that we have worked three or four hours to free a hub of its spokes. Little capital was tied up in wagons – a sled would do us in the mud or for what little snow fell in our region; in dry weather a truck would do, made entirely of wood; not an ounce of iron was invested or used on it. For motive power we used oxen largely – their yokes of the present pattern, with a ring and staple of hickory. We often used the oxen to plow, both single and double. We have seen an ox hitched to a plow and all the harness, from the clevis to the collar, made of hickory withes except the back band; that was rawhide.|
|From 1846 Wedding: It was a chilly snow and began freezing soon after we came. There were twelve or fifteen refuges there, avoiding the flood, among whom was a Campbellite preacher, also his family. Our coming was such a surprise to all, but especially to the bride, who had no idea of us, or of the groom being on hand, and supposed it impossible for any one to reach the premises.|
|From West Point Sales:|
To be a “hard shell” Baptist was then respectable with the settlers, to be a Campbellite, was passable; and to be a Methodist, could be tolerated; but they felt it was asking rather too much to come among them and propagate temperance and bluestocking Presbyterianism. They were all Kentuckians, and at that time had seen but few Yankees; still they had picked up some, Yankee ideas, and as nearly all the settlers were from the south, they concluded to make, on the day of the sale, a regular old-fashioned barbecue. No sooner was this known, than the hard shells themselves softened, and offers from all quarters were made to take charge of the roasting department of the barbecue, and the worst of enemies became the best of friends.
|From FIRST SETTLERS: Captain James White Captain James White must have been one of the first settlers in Hancock County, Illinois; however, I found him, in September, 1834, where the town of Montrose now stands. He must have went there as early as 1833, for he had fenced and planted quite a large field in corn before Lieut. Crossman selected his place on which to build Camp Des Moines. He was rather a heavy-set man; about five feet ten inches in height, had a loud, coarse voice, and from the run of his conversation must have been amongst the first keel boat captains on the Western waters. He still owned, in 1834, the keel boat “Bronthes.” |
Some settlers mentioned:
Giles Sullivan was among the first settlers in almost every county on the Mississippi River from St. Louis up to Clark, though he left Clark some years before it, was organized. He lived near two years about two miles below Montrose, and in December, 1834, was the first settler at Bentonsport. His Indian name was Muscoet-ipaw, or Red Whiskers. My Indian name was sow-wow-wiskanoo, or Yellow Bird.
Winnie Sullivan left Bentonsport, Iowa, about 1839, and went with her husband (Giles Sullivan) to Texas and on to the frontier. Since that time she has went two or three trips from Iowa to the Green River country, in Kentucky, in settling up her father’s estate. And also two trips to Texas and back in adjusting her husband’s business. She also went to California, and remained about a year, and returned Kentucky, and again went to California, and from thence to British Columbia, remained about a year, and then returned to Missouri, and was, in December, 1861, residing about two miles north of Lancaster, in Schuyler County, Missouri with her third husband, whose name is Newman.
Samuel C. Reid was among the first Justices of the Peace made after the organization of Iowa, and may have been commissioned under Wisconsin rule and held over and re-appointed. He was a light complexioned, bony man, near six feet in height, and, I think, the best description of his phiz that could be given, would be to borrow a description of him by Morton Nelson, who was himself a remarkably homely boy of sixteen, and the son of a shoe-maker. They had a falling out. Reid told him of his ugly looks. He retorted by telling Reid that the skin of his face looked like it had been drawn on, by a pair of shoe-makers’ pinchers, and that his mouth was cut the wrong way of the leather.
|From HOW THE INDIANS COUNTED – PIONEER FARE: The Black Hawk Indians were large fine looking men, six feet high, well proportioned; some of the females were handsome, fine looking women. In 1837 the Black Hawk tribe made a settlement on the Des Moines River, where Iowaville now is. He and his two sons and daughters settled there. The old man died Oct. 3, 1838. His two sons used to come into this neighborhood to trade with the settlers. We would buy buckskins of them. They used to call at fathers and could talk English very well. The earlier settlers in Iowa all lived in log cabins, and after we got to raising hogs, the Kentuckians would dig out large troughs and put under the beds to cure their meat in. You have often heard the remark, “Our latch-string is always out; come and see us.” The latch and ketch in those days were made of wood; the latch had a string tied to it, a hole made through the door just above the latch, one end of the string put through the hole and hung outside. When outside you pulled the string to unlatch it; at night the string was pulled inside. That locked the door to outsiders.|
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Stories about Frontier Life:
- How things were built and how they lived in the 1830’s
- Surprise help from “Blessed Mice”
- A description of one pioneer cow
- Difficulties of getting married in the wilderness
- Near Starvation
- BBQ saves the day
- The Ratlan and Points Clan feud
- Choice Red Eye whisky as a defense
- Governor Lucas fights for education
- Traveling from Keokuk to Des Moines Iowa in 1860 and 1870
- Early homes of Keokuk and travel problems
- Typical Iowa Cabin & Free Mail Delivery in 1830’s
- Description of a spring freshet
- Pet bear cubs
- Buffalo in 1820
- Governor Lowe sends Frontier Guards to Spirit Lake.
Stories about Frontier Indians:
- Life among Black Hawk and his family.
- The Life and Death of Chief Black Hawk.
- About Pashapaho, Black Hawk, and Ioway Indians
- How the Indians counted – Pioneer Fare
- Pashapaho’s account of the Sauk and Fox slaughter of Ioway Indians.
- The Spirit Lake Massacre of 1857.
- Some Indian Names and Words
Stories about early Frontiersmen:
James Alfrey, Abasalom Anderson, William Avery, Isaac Bird, James Blankenship, Thomas Blankenship, David A. Ely, William Fallis, Abel Galland, Charles Gaston, Peter Gillis, A. W. Harlan,
James Jenkins, Richard M. Jones, James Jordan, William Jordan, Isham Keith, Edward L. Longwell, William Meek, William Nelson, Mr. Nowell, Mr. Patchett, Joseph Perkins, Elijah Purdom Sr, Samuel C Reed, Isaac Reid, Shapley P. Ross, Meashack Sigler, Giles O. Sullivan, Winnena Sullivan, Captain James White, David Willcock, Abiatha B. Williams and others.
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