Sampler from MIDWEST FRONTIER STORIES – COLLECTION 3
From Lee County, Harrison Township Now a word about the settlement of the north half of the township, “The Prairie.” As late as 1844, the principal settlements were near the Farmington and Burlington road along the edge of the timber, running through the central part of the township east and west. Such locations were considered very advantageous, for not only was much of the border timber land good farming land, but there right adjoining was that fine prairie, which was to be their stock range for ages, finely watered and thousands of acres in extent.
From Squatters and Speculators at the First Land Sales The settlers had to be a law unto themselves, to protect their own homes and firesides. To do this previous to the lands being offered for sale, the settlers in each township met and adopted their own by-laws, by which each settler, was allowed to hold three hundred and twenty acres of land, by settling on the same, or making certain improvements thereon; they also appointed a committee of five or seven, to settle all disputes, which were numerous, mainly growing out of the fact that nearly all of the claims were made before the lands were surveyed, and seldom agreeing with the claim lines
From Old Times Hereabouts: I was in the Territory of which this State was made when there was but two counties in it, and they composed a strip of land laying along the Mississippi, and were called Dubuque and Des Moines. Iowa was then a part of the Territory of Wisconsin and the Legislature was held at Mineral Point. This was in 1834. The next Legislature was held in Old Zion Church, Burlington. The next after that at Iowa City, which I attended. The place where I first settled on the Black Hawk Purchase was fifteen miles from the present town of Fort Madison, Lee County, I lived in a “Claim Pen.” Now, you many not all know what a “Claim Pen” is. I will tell you. It was a house made of split poles, with a rude covering. The moonshine could easily be seen through the cracks, and snow and cold sometimes came in with the light. We had no mills in those days and flour was only $20 a barrel. We could not even get corn meal for less than $3.12½ per bushel. Sometimes we used to mash corn on the face of a stump, and thus make a kind of meal of it.
From The “TALL CEDAR: There sat in the criminal box, a man with severe brow, and hardened features, with an eye that looked defiance to court and all; and by his side sat a half Indian woman, modest in apparel, with surprise, sorrow, and grief, marking every lineament of her face. The man was the notorious “Bill Price,” a white man by skin, but an Indian in heart; and the Half Breed by his side, was his squaw. Bill was a fearless, dare-devil man, who hated civilization and laws, and wanted no other protection for his person and property, than his scalping knife and rifle.
From Letter from an Old Settler: In 1829 my father settled in Vermilion County, Ill., when I was five years old, Illinois was a wild country. At that time great portions of it were inhabited by Indians. In 1832, during the Black Hawk War, the friendly Indians came into the settlement, where I made my first acquaintance with the aborigines of America. Seeing the Indians and hearing many stories about the far west, it instilled roving desires in me. In 1836 my father settled in Van Buren township, Lee County, Iowa.
From Pioneer Courts:A majority of the first courts held in Iowa met in the upper rooms of the best hotel in the settlements honored with the dispensation of justice. The hotel was a great institution in those days and was the common place of resort on all public occasions.