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History of Boone County, Iowa (Volume 1) online

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used to a very inferior quality of shotguns. After selecting S. B.
McCall captain and the other necessary officers, the names of whom
the writer of this scrap of history, although a member of the com-
pany, has forgotten, except that of C. W. Williams, who was one of
the lieutenants, the company selected Hon. C. J. McFarland, J. M.
Thrift and Joseph Hardin as a strategy board, particularly relying
upon J. M. Thrift and Joseph Hardin, they having had much expe-
rience as frontiersmen and understood the disposition of Indians.
The company was christened "Boonesboro Tigers." About 2 o'clock



the company started north on the Des Moines and Fort Dodj^e high-
way. They had not marched more than three or four miles until they
were met by many settlers and their families, fleeing south from the
Indians. Soon after we began to meet the settlers, Joseph Hardin, one
of the strategy board, met some persons with whom he was well ac-
quainted, who informed him that there were no less than five hundred
Indians, and tliat tlicv were devastating the country, killing, robbing
and doing other depredations usually carried on by unfriendly
Indians. It seemed to alarm him very much, and he rode up beside
the companv, relating what he had heard, the tears coursing down
Iiis cheeks. He stated that it was useless for us to engage in battle
with the Indians in such force and suggested the idea of returning
to Boonesboro, inquiring of the company what they thought of the
suggestion. The answer came quick and decided: "Retreat, never.
We have started to relieve the settlers north and we are going, and
we are going until we meet the Indians. It may be that we will all
be scalped, hut it will not he until we have offered every resistance
in our power!" And the cry rang out from the entire line: "For-
ward, march!" It was no trouble to see bv the twinkle of their eyes
that they meant just what they said, and it was demonstrated later
on that such was the case, for quite a number of that company became
soldiers in the War of the Rebellion and acquitted themselves with
marked distinction.

It soon became impossible for the soldiers to march in the high-
way, it being entirely taken up with fleeing settlers. When we would
meet a wagon in which there were two men, unless they were quite
old, one of the two was pressed into the service, and when he was a
married man it was much sport for the bovs to witness the parting

The company reached Hook's Point, where it camped for tiie
night. We were on the march early next morning and were nearing
the Boone River, when a man rode up and inquired which way we
were going, whether up the Boone or the Des Moines River. Being
informed that he must see the captain in regard to the matter, that
we knew nothing as to where we would probably be taken, he seemed
very much excited, saying in language that demonstrated his feel-
ings: "For God's sake, go up the Boone River; the Indians are
killing all the people in and about \^\'bster Citv." He said he saw
their campfires and heard the firing of the guns during the night.
The horse he was riding was the most exhausted animal that the
writer has ever seen, being hardly able to remain standing. He saw


the captain and it was agreed that the company would go on to the
Town of Homer and that lii<.ely they would meet the stage there
from Fort Dodge and learn the situation in and about Fort Dodge
and then determine as to whether or not we would go on to Fort
Dodge or go up the Boone River.

When the company reached the Town of Homer, the stage from
Fort Dodge was at the hotel and the driver informed the captain
that the Indians were from fifteen to twenty miles north of Fort
Dodge and doing great depredation. But the people of Fort Dodge
were prepared to defend the city, so it was decided by the officers
that they would go up the Boone River, in view of the report re-
ceived in the morning near Hook's Point. The captain sent forward
eight or ten scouts on horseback, among whom I remember was
J. M. Thrift, Joseph Hardin and some other experienced backwoods-
men, with explicit instructions that if they discovered the Indians,
to ascertain as near as possible the number and their location, and
after so doing to return and report the number and location as near
as it could be ascertained. The infantry had been marching for
quite a while, and had become footsore and fatigued. In many cases
it had sought an opportunity to ride. When about halfway from
Homer to Webster City we saw three of the scouts coming back at
full speed, and it was then thought they had discovered Indians.
The captain ordered the company to make ready for action, and it
was surprising to see how quickly every man was in line, with his
gun in hand, and with that eager expression of countenance that
showed the captain that they were ready to defend the homes of their
wives, children, fathers and mothers at all hazard. But when the
scouts arrived, the only report was "we were on the wrong road to
reach Webster City."

When we neared the city we found a large number of people
camped in a grove a short distance north and west of the town, who
had left their homes for miles and miles north of the town and
assembled in the grove, awaiting further developments at to whether
or not it would be necessary for them to move farther south. No
military company was ever received with a more hearty welcome
than the Boonesboro boys were received by the refugees and the
people of Webster City. It seemed impossible for them to do too
much for us. They threw open their dwellings, stores, churches and
schoolhouses to give us shelter from the inclement weather and fur-
nished us with provisions more than was necessary for our con-
sumption. They went so far as to detail two ministers of the gospel


each with a tin pailful of brandy and a tin dipper, to pass along the
two flics of soldiers and give each who desired it a drink of brandy.
It seemed as if all the rules of society were suspended, everybody
present becoming as one family and interested in each other's wel-
fare as such. 'I'he women especially seemed to appreciate the fact
that we had been mindful nf their dangerous situation and had come
to their relief. 1 am unable to command language to express their
gratitude toward us. 'I'he captain was informed that the people
of the citv had taken the precaution to send ten nr twelve scouts up
the Boone Ri\er with fleet horses to discoxer whether the reports
of the advance of the Indians were well founded or ncjt, and go a
sufficient distance to determine the truth or the falsity of the report
and that it would be well for the company to remain in the city until
a report was received from the scouts, which we liid. Just about
nightfall five or si.x of the scouts returned and reported that they
had gone ninetv or a hundred miles north and were unable to dis-
cover anv Indians. I'pon the report of the scouts being made known,
the jov of the people of the t(jwn seemed to break out anew and lasted
almost through the night. Gatherings were had and speeches made
by many of the citizens and soldiers. Early in the morning, in order
to show our appreciation of the kindness the company had received
at the hands of the citizens of the town, we marched through the
principal streets and saluted the people. We then returned home and
disbanded without the loss of a single soldier, and we felt thankful
that we had been true to our country and our neighbors. Soon after
our return a meeting was held by the old veterans for the purpose
of the formation of a military company and the following proceed-
ings were had :

"Boonesboro, Boone County, Iowa, Mav 2, 1857.

"Citizens met in courthouse pursuant to call for the purpose of
organizing a military company for the protection in the impending
war. W. D. Parker was chosen chairman; C. J. Couch, secretary.
Remarks were made by V. B. Crooks, C. Beal, S. B. McCall, ludge
Montgomery and C. J. Couch.

"Motion was carried that we organize ourselves into a military
company to be styled The Boonesboro Frontier Guards. Roll was
prepared and a large number of names were immediately placed
thereon. The following officers were reelected: Captain, S. B.
McCall; rtrst lieutenant, G. B. Redmon; second lieutenant, J. H.
Upton; third lieutenant, W. D. Parker; first sergeant, W. L. DeFore;
second sergeant, Solomon McCall; third sergeant, Charles Goetzman;


first corporal, William Smith; second corporal, Richard Hiatt; third
corporal, R. Upton; fourth corporal, George Vontrees. 7'he follow-
ing committees were chosen: On uniform, Cornelius Beal, G. B.
Redmon, J. H. Upton, S. B. McCall; on music, S. B. McCall,
Charles Goetzman, E. Bowman, Thomas Parr, W. L. DeForc; on
by-laws. V. B. Crooks, J. H. Upton, C. Williams, Charles Goetzman,
G. B. Redmon.

"A collection was taken for procuring musical instruments. A
motion was carried that the expenses of the company's Indian expe-
dition be brought in and paid for by the company. The committee
on uniform made the following report: Jackets of blue cloth with
single row of military buttons; military collar trimmed with red;
noncommissioned ofiicers with chevrons on arm in red; pants of
blue satinet with red stripes on the legs; cap of blue cloth made in
some approved military style, trimmed with red. The commis-
sioned officers to wear the regular uniform of the United States
army. Motion was carried that each member immediately advance •
$io for the purchase of material. The regular meeting of the com-
panv was fixed on Saturday of each week. Adjourned.



"C.J. Couch.

The meetings of the company were kept up regularly for some
time and occasionally until about the time the War of the Rebellion
broke out. The formation of the company above referred to was the
inception of the formation of the company in the spring of 1861 by
Capt. S. B. McCall, that served in the War of the Rebellion with
such great distinction, and as I now remember, constituted Company
E, Third Iowa Volunteers. Many of the boys who enlisted in the
company at the time of the emergency call in Boonesboro were mem-
bers of different companies in the War of the Rebellion and demon-
strated beyond question or doubt their ability to serve their country.


By John M. Brainanl

In the autumn of 1863 the writer of these paragraphs was publish-
ing the Story County Aegis at Nevada. It was "war time" and the
boys were marching away to Dixie, or being brought home to recoup


from wounds or disease, llic railway had been completed only to
Marshalltown and Boone County. In dwellers situated one county
nearer market, Boonesboro was only a vague myth, a locality where
coal existed, but was unattainable because of the prohibitive freights
incident to wagon carriage, in 1S64 the railway reached Nevada,
and for a vear she put on (]ueenly airs over towns and regions not
familiar with tiie "iron horse."

In the spring of iS6q \V. W. Walker, chief engineer and vice
president of the Chicago, Iowa & Nebraska Air Line Railroad (under
which name the present Chicago & Northwestern Railroad was con-
structed) began to advertise a lot sale in the new Town of Boone.
Nevada "looked wise" but felt rather patronizing. She knew more
in less than a year.

The sale was appointed ior March 29, 1865, and the first train
carrving passengers was run over the line to Boone, the engine driven
by that veteran engineer, George W. Dutton, and this writer being
one of the passengers in the coaches behind him. Regular trains
did not commence running until the 17th of Julv following this "Lot
Sale Special."

There were some surprises at this sale, for we had seen the land
sales of the Osage Land District, in Mitchell County, with its excite-
ments and desperate "figuring;" but this Boone sale was "straight
goods." The train stopped on the east side of Honey Creek, some-
where in the neighborhood of the Wilson residence on Eighth Street,
and the passengers crossed the little rivulet on fence rails covered
with straw or hav; thence walked up to the Keeler House, over
plowed ground, and looked about. Tlie broken corn stubble still lit-
tered the field, the mud was of the usual quality known to early Iowa
in the March season, a row of cottonwood trees marked the west side
of Story Street opposite the Keeler House and a farm wagon stood
in the street in front of it, from which the auctioneer announced his
decisions and the successful bidders.

The first lots offered were i and 2, block 68, being those now
carrying the street number, 924 Story Street, occupied by E. A. Ring-
land & Company. George Lowe secured tiiem at $600 — a tremen-
dous price [tioncer folks thought, wlio had been accustomed to lots
at $25 to $50. Lowe had been in the farm implement and lumber
business at Nevada during the sojourn of the "end of the road"
there, and was preparing to follow up the advance to Boone, as he
continueci to eio until the Missouri River was reached.


The next property was a business site on the west side of Story
Street, between Eighth and Ninth, about the middle of the block,
probably lot 6 or 7, block 93, say i\o. 81 1 of that row now. It went
for $200 and again the Nevada folks were astonished. The third
sale was a residence lot — one on Fifth Street, where A. E. Munn
now lives. No. 1015 of that street and occupied for several years by
Rev. Joshua Cooke. It was "knocked off" at $75. Then there was
an adjournment for dinner. Mr. Walker remarked that the land
company was not anxious to make a record sale in quantities, his
principal desire being to "establish prices." Then the Nevada com-
pany dispersed and visited in Boonesboro until the train was ready
to return eastward.

In the fall of 1869 the writer came to "Montana," a name which
caprice had fastened on the young city in the effort to get release
from the primitive title of "Boone Station," bestowed by the railway
folks, and commenced the publication of the Standard, thus bring-
ing iiim personally in contact with the growth of the City of Boone.
Some time in this autumn of advent the foundations for the Knight
& Smith flouring mill were laid, and by either that fall or early the
next spring, the mill was in full blast. It was a profitable property
and was followed in a few years by a storage elevator for grain and
the first one by still another. The mill had extensive contracts for
the making of flour for the Government order, for military posts
beyond the Missouri River and for the Indians on reservations, an
arrangement which permitted the use of varying qualities of grain.
But the settlement of the cheaper lands, even better for raising
small grain than those of Iowa, militated against the mill, which
gradually was reduced to corn grinding, or the making of flour from
wheat brought from the north. Its business became less from year
to year until finally that great enemy of flouring mill property, fire,
intervened and the mill was no more. Now we buy our flour; then
made it.

The Historical Museum of the Ericson Public Library shelters
an old photo of R. M. Weir's foundrv and machine shop, which stood
in the pioneer days of Boone upon the site now occupied by the
Boone Electric Company. It was rather an imposing factory for
those days and supplied the necessities of users of machinery — miners,
millers, threshers, etc. — for several counties in this part of the state.
Mr. Weir was the inventor and patentee of a very good heating
furnace for dwellings, some of which are yet in commission, and
were made in the old brick structure spoken of. His health, none


too ruj^j^cd after his return from the navy during the Civil war, failed
in the trying climate of Iowa and for many years he has been a
resident of California, first at the navy yard at Vollejo and now at
Santa Cruz.

In 1S69 tlie high school was iicld in the second floor of the school
building situated on the same lots now occupied by the Franklin
school, the same being a four-room structure of brick. Afterwards,
to accommodate the increase in attendance at the grades, the high
school was shifted to the second floor of the city hall building,
offices now occupied by tiic city clerk and city engineer. Ihis must
have been in 1X74, for the city hall was not .in existence prior to that
date. The school board was often hard put in finding accommoda-
tions for the school pupils, for the town grew faster in numbers than
in wealth. So public opinion said : "Build a high school structure."
A site for the same had been in possession of the school authorities
for some time awaiting the opportunity to build upon it — being the
lots now occupied bv .Mr. Barklev's residence on Boone and Fourth
streets, but previously owned by the Baptist congregation and occu-
pied by a (]uaint little structure of brick. Col. C. W. Lowrie, a
prominent figure in those days, resided near this site and did not
fancy the presence of a school so neighborly, and to prevent its use
busied himself in finding fault with the location and in discovering
a new one. He was successful and the present site of the high school
was chosen, the other propertv being sold. The museum has the
original "Articles of Agreement" between the school board repre-
sented by its president, O. T. Marshall, and the owner of the
lots, Daniel S. Love, bearing the date, December 4, 1874. The con-
sideration was $i,0(50, $200 paid down and the rest at interest at 10
per cent. The abstract of title is also in the same envelope, certified
by Recorder J. F. Brett and carrying only three entries: John I.
Blair to W. W. Walker, power of attorney; Blair, by Walker, show-
ing town [flat; and Blair and wife, by Walker, deed to Daniel S.
Love; the several transactions extending from 1864 to 1869. The
property is in Block 89, Boone, but by an oversight the figure "9"
is omitted and the certification is made to apply to "Block 8." It
is probable that the title is not in peril, however; the district has
had undisputed possession for the full reijuired time to aci]uire title.
The school board was urged when building began to make the base-
ment high enough for occupancy with classes, when the future should
demand the same; also to acquire the remainder of the then vacant
lots in the half block. Neither of these self-evident precautions were


adopted and the public has sufifered from the lack of judgment in its
officers ever since. In fact, but one school building in our city has
the proper convenient space — that in the First ward with its full

On the west side of Story Street, midway between the lot line
and the curb and extending from Ninth to Eighth streets, was a row
of Cottonwood trees, marking the half section boundary during the
farm-day period, and at the time of the founding of the city being
1 6 to 20 inches in diameter. One or two like trees stood in front
of the Keeler House on the east side of the street. These furnished
nice "roosting places" for loafers' feet and were usually so employed
at all times of the day in the summer season. As the young city grew
the presence of these trees became a badge of its minority and their
removal was demanded by the majority, but stoutly resisted by the
owners of adjacent properties as a rule. The city council "ordained"
and "instructed its marshal" in favor of cutting down the cotton-
woods, but they did not fall. In fact, one more vigorous individual —
or at least more bellicose — declared he would resist with bayonet
and musket any attack upon his trees! There had obtained a belief
that things in the street might belong to the adjoining lot owner.
One night Marshal Rhoads, who long held the sword of office, at-
tacked the forest; bv midnight it was laying corded up in the street,
and no blood shed !

It seems ludicrous at this day to recall how thoroughly a trifle
like the one recorded should disturb the serenity of a whole village
or embryo city.

Portions of the Keeler House, the first hotel on the site of Boone
in the spring of 1856, remain, in which Keeler, Beal and Holcomb
bought in that spring season 160 acres of prairie, now included in the
central portion of Boone, being well convinced that the expected
railway would turn down Honey Creek for a river crossing, ana that
a town would be made at "the top of the hill." Keeler had put up the
frame of a hotel, 46x40 feet and two stories high, in Boonesboro, and
had the roof on when this second thought occurred. The building
was razed and set up on the new site, where it was afterwards re-
christened Wescott House. The St. James and again the Butler
House occupied the ground now covered by the Wells House. A
part of that original building stands at the rear of the Wells House
property, next to the alley, covered with red iron rust; another por-
tion became a part of the dwelling house of Mr. Lawson, at 1228


Story Street; and some of the lumber in the Keeler House doubtless
has found place in the interior of the Wells House.

The Keeler House stood on the post-road leadinsj; from Des
Moines to Fort Dodge and was a stage station from the time ot its
erection until the advent of tiie railway, which latter was in 1865.
Other farmhouses on the original site of what is now Boone (east
end) such as the Phelan home, the original log house of the Hol-
combs, and it may be of others, have vanished, so far as the w riter's
memory serves.

l^he first city hall in Boone still stands at the northeast corner of
Seventh and Keeler streets, an illustration .of "the survival of the
unfit!" The term is not a new one; it was applied to the building
as far back as A. I). 1S72-73, and when items were scarce could be
held in reailiness for a "stickful of local." As a continual dropping
will wear away a stone, so the persistent comments of the local press
wore out the endurance of the city fathers, and the lots where now
stands the citv building were purchased and the structure, prac-
ticallv as it now stands, was erected in 1H74. The date is assured, for
it was "cast in the walls." The surface of the ground at that site was
some eight or ten feet above the present street level and had to be
dug down and carried away in order that the "traditional hole," in
which Boone establishes her public buildings, should be obtained. A
customarv lack of foresight which has ahvavs characterized our city
was invoked in that case in not buying sufficient ground for the
plainly seen growth of the city. The result has been embarrassment
for lack of room and the dispersion of citv buildings in several direc-
tions, when public policy would have centered them, or should do
so. Another blunder in that "enterprise" was the planning of an
ostentatious tower to cap the roof. But the architect had failed to
make provisions for a foundation to carry this ornament; the builder
either did not notice the deficiency or cared to ignore it until reached,
and so the Council was obliged to order its omission and it is said the
contractor was something more than a thousand dollars "to the good"
in conse(]uence.

In the first years of Boone there was no provision wiiatever, save
access to a very few wells, for fighting iires. The newspapers con-
tinued to harp upon this neglect but without avail, until there should
be a verification of their predictions. This came one night when the
blazes ate up the frame building of James (trace's meat market and
adjoining buildings to tiie corner of Eightli and Keeler, south side
of Eighth. Mr. Grace was buried in Des Moines a few days ago.


His shop stood on the ground on which the Boone National Bank
is now rising to its sixth story.

Apropos of fires, the "finest one" was wiien the h)\ver portion of
Story Street, west side, burned down. The entire side of the street
had been built up in wood, save one structure of brick, about four
or five numbers south of Eighth. A fire started at or near the south
end of the row. The summer weather was perfect — no breeze and
but very little water protection. What there was consisted of a con-
nection with the Northwestern Railway's water-tank, by tiie line
which had been carried up to the depot, at which place the city was
permitted to tap it with a three or four-inch pipe, carried down Story
Street to Eighth and, it may be, extended to Seventh. The pressure

Online LibraryNathan Edward GoldthwaitHistory of Boone County, Iowa (Volume 1) → online text (page 15 of 49)