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driving, had a little calf that was going to look just like its mother;
and then I described to her the section of land - all but a little of it
down in Hell Slew; and how I hoped to buy a piece across the line so as
to have a real farm. Pretty soon we were talking just as we used to talk
back there east of Waterloo.

"I came to see you and Elder Thorndyke and his wife," I said, "because
I'm going back to Dubuque to get a load of freight, and I thought I
might bring something for you."

"Oh," said she, "take me with you, Teunis, take me with you!"

"Could you go?" I asked, my heart in my mouth.

"No, oh, no!" she said. "There's nobody in Kentucky for me to go to; and
I haven't any money to pay my way with anyhow. I am alone in the world,
Teunis, except for you and my new father and mother - and I'm afraid they
are pretty poor, Teunis, to feed and clothe a big girl like me!"

"How much money would it take?" I asked. "I guess I could raise it for
you, Virginia."

"You're a nice boy, Teunis," she said, with tears in her eyes, "and I
know how well you like money, too; but there's nobody left there. I'm
very lonely - but I'm as well off here as anywhere. I'd just like to go
with you, though, for when I'm with you I feel so - so safe."

"Safe?" said I. "Why aren't you safe here? Is any one threatening you?
Has Buckner Gowdy been around here? Just tell me if he bothers you, and
I'll - I'll - "

"Well," said she, "he came here and claimed me from Mr. Thorndyke. He
said I was an infant - what do you think of that? - an infant - in law; and
that he is my guardian. And a lawyer named Creede, came and talked about
his right, not he said by consanguinity, but affinity, whatever
that is - "

"I know Mr. Creede," said I. "He rode with me for two or three days. I
don't believe he'll wrong any one."

"Mrs. Thorndyke told them to try their affinity plan if they dared, and
she'd show them that they couldn't drag a poor orphan away from her
friends against her will. And I hung to her, and I cried, and said I'd
kill myself before I'd go with him; and that man" - meaning Gowdy - "tried
to talk sweet and affectionate and brotherly to me, and I hid my face in
Mrs. Thorndyke's bosom - and Mr. Creede looked as if he were sick of his
case, and told that man that he would like further consultation with him
before proceeding further - and they went away. But every time I see that
man he acts as if he wanted to talk with me, and smiles at me - but I
won't look at him. Oh, why can't they all be good like you, Teunis?"

Then she told me that I looked a lot better when I shaved - at which I
blushed like everything, and this seemed to tickle her very much. Then
she asked if I wasn't surprised when she called me Teunis. She had
thought a good deal over it, she said, and she couldn't, couldn't like
the name of Jacob, or Jake; but Teunis was a quality name. Didn't I
think I'd like it if I changed my way of writing my name to J. Teunis
Vandemark?

"I like to have you call me Teunis," I said; "but I wouldn't like to
have any one else do it. I like to have you have a name to call me by
that nobody else uses."

"That's a very gallant speech," she said, blushing - and I vow, I didn't
know what gallant meant, and was a little flustered for fear her blushes
were called out by something shady.

"Besides," I said, "I have always heard that nobody but a dandy ever
parts his name or his hair in the middle!"

"Rubbish!" said she. "My father's name was A. Fletcher Royall, and he
was a big strong man, every inch of him. I reckon, though, that the
customs are different in the North. Then you won't take me with you, and
go back by way of our grove, and - "

And just then Elder Thorndyke came in, and we wished that Mrs. Thorndyke
would come to tell what I should bring from Dubuque. He told me in the
meantime, about his plans for building a church, and how he was teaching
Virginia, so that she could be a teacher herself when she was
old enough.

"We'll be filling this country with schools, soon," he said, "and
they'll want nice teachers like Virginia."

"Won't that be fine?" asked Virginia. "I just love children. I play with
dolls now - a little. And then I can do something to repay my new father
and mother for all they are doing for me. And you must come to
church, Teunis."

"Virginia says," said the elder, "that you have a good voice. I wish
you'd come and help out with the singing."

"Oh, I can't sing," I demurred; "but I'd like to come. I will come, when
I get back."

"Yes, you can sing," said Virginia. "Here's a song he taught me back on
the prairie:

"'Down the river, O down the river, O down the river we go-o-o;
Down the river, O down the river, O down the Ohio-o-o!

"'The river was up, the channel was deep, the wind was steady
and strong,
The waves they dashed from shore to shore as we went sailing along -

"'Down the river, O down the river, O down the river we go-o-o;
Down the river, O down the river, O down the Ohio-o-o!'"

"I think you learned a good deal - for one day," said Mrs. Thorndyke,
coming in. "How do you do, Jacob? I'm glad to see you."

Thus she again put forth her theory that Virginia and I had been
together only one day. It is what N.V. Creede called, when I told him of
it years afterward, "a legal fiction which for purposes of pleading was
incontrovertible."

The river of immigration was still flowing west over the Ridge Road,
quite as strong as earlier in the season, and swollen by the stream of
traffic setting to and from the settlements for freight. People I met
told me that the railroad was building into Dubuque - or at least to the
river at Dunlieth. I met loads of lumber which were going out for Buck
Gowdy's big house away out in the middle of his great estate; and other
loads for Lithopolis, where Judge Stone was making his struggle to build
up a rival to Monterey Centre. I reached Dubuque on the seventeenth of
July, and put up at a tavern down near the river, where they had room
for my stock; and learned that the next day the first train would arrive
at Dunlieth, and there was to be a great celebration.

It was the greatest day Dubuque had ever seen, they told me, with cannon
fired from the bluff at sunrise, a long parade, much speech-making, and
a lot of wild drunkenness. The boatmen from the river boats started in
to lick every railroad man they met, and as far as I could see, did so
in ninety per cent. of the cases; but in the midst of a fight in which
all my canal experiences were in a fair way to be outdone, a woman came
into the crowd leading four little crying children. She asked our
attention while she explained that their father had had his hand blown
off when the salute was fired in the morning, and asked us if we felt
like giving something to him to enable him to keep a roof over these
little ones. The fight stopped, and we all threw money on the ground
in the ring.

There were bridges connecting the main island with the business part of
the city, and lines of hacks and carts running from the main part of the
town to deep water. There were from four to six boats a day on the
river. Lead was the main item of freight, although the first tricklings
of the great flood of Iowa and Illinois wheat were beginning to run the
metal a close second. To show what an event it was, I need only say that
there were delegates at the celebration from as far east as Cleveland;
and folks said that a ferry was to be built to bring the railway trains
into Dubuque. And the best of all these dreams was, that they came true;
and we were before many years freed of the great burden of coming so far
to market.

During the next winter the word came to us that the railroad - another
one - had crept as far out into the state as Iowa City, and when the
freighting season of 1856 opened up, we swung off to the railhead there.
Soon, however, the road was at Manchester, then at Waterloo, then at
Cedar Falls, and before many years the Iowa Central came up from the
south clear to Mason City, and the days of long-distance freighting were
over for most of the state; which is now better provided with railways,
I suppose, than any other agricultural region in the world.

I couldn't then foresee any such thing, however. They talk of the
far-sighted pioneers; but as far as I was concerned I didn't know B from
a bull's foot in this business of the progress of the country. I
whoa-hawed and gee-upped my way back to Monterey Centre, thinking how
great a disadvantage it would be always to have to wagon it back and
forth to the river - with the building of the railway into Dunlieth that
year right before my face and eyes.

3

I found Magnus Thorkelson surrounded by a group of people arguing with
him about something; and Magnus in a dreadful pucker to know what to do.
In one group were Judge Horace Stone, N.V. Creede and Forrest Bushyager,
then a middle-aged man, and an active young fellow of twenty-five or so
named Dick McGill, afterward for many years the editor of the Monterey
Centre _Journal_. These had a petition asking that the county-seat be
located at Lithopolis, Judge Stone's new town, and they wanted Magnus to
sign it. I suppose he would have done so, if it had not been for the
other delegation, consisting of Henderson L. Burns and Doctor Bliven,
who had another petition asking for the establishment of the county-seat
permanently "at its present site," Monterey Centre. They took me into
the confabulation as soon as I weighed anchor in front of the house; and
just as they had begun to pour their arguments into me they were joined
by another man, who drove up in a two-seated democrat wagon drawn by a
fine team of black horses, and in the back seat I saw a man and woman
sitting. I thought the man looked like Elder Thorndyke; but the woman's
face was turned away from me, and I did not recognize her at first. She
had on a new calico dress that I hadn't seen before. It was Virginia.

The man who got out and joined the group was a red-faced, hard-visaged
man of about fifty, dressed in black broadcloth, and wearing a beaver
hat. He had a black silk cravat tied about a standing collar, with high
points that rolled out in front, and he looked rich and domineering. He
was ever afterward a big man in Monterey County, and always went by the
name of Governor Wade, because he was a candidate for governor two or
three times. He was the owner of a big tract of land over to the
southwest, next to the Gowdy farm the largest in the county. He came
striding over to us as if whatever he said was the end of the law. With
him and Henderson L. and N.V. Creede pitching into a leatherhead like
me, no wonder I did not recognize Virginia in her new dress; I was in
such a stew that I hardly knew which end my head was on.

Each side seemed to want to impress me with the fact that in signing one
or the other of those petitions I had come to the parting of the ways.
They did not say much about what was best for the county, but bore down
on the fact that the way I lined up on that great question would make
all the difference in the world with me. Each tried to make me think
that I should always be an outsider and a maverick if I didn't stand
with his crowd.

"Why," said N.V., "I feel sure that it won't take you long to make up
your mind. This little group of men we have here," pointing to Henderson
L. and Governor Wade, "are the County Ring that's trying to get this new
county in their clutches - the County Ring!"

This made a little grain of an impression on me; and it was the first
time I had ever heard the expression so common in local history "the
County Ring." I looked at Governor Wade to see what he would say to it.
His face grew redder, and he laughed as if Creede were not worth
noticing; but he noticed him for all that.

"Young man," said he, "or young men, I should say, both of you want to
be somebody in this new community. Monterey Centre represents already,
the brains - "

"Like a dollar sign," said Dick McGill, "it represents it, but it hasn't
any."

" - the brains," went on Governor Wade, glaring at him, "the culture, the
progress and the wealth - "

"That they hope to steal," put in Dick McGill.

" - the wealth," went on the Governor, who hated to be interrupted, "of
this Gem of the Prairies, Monterey County. Don't make the mistake, which
you can never correct, of taking sides with this little gang of
town-site sharks led by my good friend Judge Stone."

Here was another word which I was to hear pretty often in county
politics - Gang. One crowd was called a Ring; the other a Gang, I looked
at N.V. to see how wrathy he must be, but he only smiled sarcastically,
as I have often seen him do in court; and shaking his head at me waved
his hand as if putting Governor Wade quite off the map. Just then my
team began acting up - they had not been unhitched and were thirsty and
hungry; and I went over to straighten them out, leaving the Ring and the
Gang laboring with Magnus, who was sweating freely - and then I went over
to speak with the elder.

"How do you do, Teunis?" said Virginia very sweetly. "You'll sign our
petition, won't you?"

"We don't want to influence your judgment," said the elder, "but I
wanted to say to you that if the county-seat remains at Monterey Centre,
it will be a great thing for the religious work which under God I hope
to do. It will give me a parish. I should like to urge that upon you."

"Do you want me to sign it?" I asked him, looking at Virginia.

"Yes," said he, "if you have no objection."

"Please do!" said Virginia. "I know you can't have any objection."

I turned on my heel, went back to Governor Wade, and signed the petition
for Monterey Centre; and then Magnus Thorkelson did the same. Then we
both signed another petition carried by both parties, asking that an
election be called by the judge of the county south which had
jurisdiction over us, for the election of officers. And just as I had
expected one side to begirt crowing over the other, and I had decided
that there would be a fight, both crowds jumped into their rigs and went
off over the prairie, very good naturedly it seemed to me, after the
next settler.

"Jake," said N.V., as they turned their buggy around, "you'll make some
woman a damned good husband, some day!" and he took off his hat very
politely to Virginia, who blushed as red as the reddest rose then
blooming on the prairie.

That was the way counties were organized in Iowa. It is worth
remembering because it was the birth of self-government. The people made
their counties and their villages and their townships as they made their
farms and houses and granaries. Everybody was invited to take part - and
it was not until long afterward that I confessed to Magnus that I had
never once thought when I signed those petitions that I was not yet a
voter; and then he was frightened to realize that he was not either. He
had not yet been naturalized. The only man in the county known to me who
took no interest in the contest was Buck Gowdy. When Judge Stone asked
him why, he said he didn't give a damn. There was too much government
for him there already, he said.

We did get the election called, and after we had elected our officers
there was no county-seat for them to dwell in; so that county judge off
to the south appointed a commission to locate the county-seat, which
after driving over the country a good deal and drinking a lot of whisky,
according to Dick McGill, made Monterey Centre the county town, which it
still remains. The Lithopolis people gained one victory - they elected
Judge Horace Stone County Treasurer. Within a month N.V. Creede had
opened a law office in Monterey Centre, Dick McGill had begun the
publication of the Monterey Centre _Journal_ of fragrant memory,
Lithopolis began to advertise its stone quarries, and Grizzly Reed, an
old California prospector, who had had his ear torn off by a bear out in
the mountains, began prospecting for gold along the creek, and talking
mysteriously. The sale of lots in Lithopolis went on faster than ever.



CHAPTER XIV

I BECOME A BANDIT AND A TERROR

When General Weaver was running for governor, a Populist worker called
on my friend Wilbur Wheelock, who was then as now a stock buyer at our
little town of Ploverdale, and asked him if he were a Populist.

"No," said Wilbur, "but I have all the qualifications, sir!"

"What do you regard as the qualifications?" asked the organizer.

"I've run for county office and got beat," said Wilbur: "and that takes
you in, too, don't it, Jake?" he asked, turning to me.

Wilbur, like most of our older people, has a good memory. Most of the
folks hereabouts had already forgotten that I was a candidate on Judge
Stone's Reform and Anti-Monopoly ticket, for County Supervisor, in 1874,
and that I was defeated with the rest. This was the only time I ever had
anything to do with politics, more than to be a delegate to the county
convention two or three times. I mention it here, because of the chance
it gave Dick McGill to rake me over the coals in his scurrilous paper,
the Monterey Centre _Journal_, that most people have always said was
never fit to enter a decent home, but which they always subscribed for
and read as quick as it came.

Within fifteen minutes after McGill got his paper to Monterey Centre he
and what he had called the County Ring were as thick as thieves, and
always stayed so as long as Dick had the county printing. So when I was
put on the independent ticket to turn this ring out of office, Dick went
after me as if I had been a horse-thief, and made a great to-do about
what he called "Cow Vandemark's criminal record." Now that I have a
chance to put the matter before the world in print, I shall take
advantage of it; for that "criminal record" is a part of this history of
Vandemark Township.

The story grew out of my joining the Settlers' Club in 1856. The rage
for land speculation was sweeping over Iowa like a prairie fire, getting
things all ready for the great panic of 1857 that I have read of since,
but of which I never heard until long after it was over. All I knew was
that there was a great fever for buying and selling land and laying out
and booming town-sites - the sites, not the towns - and that afterward
times were very hard. The speculators had bought up a good part of
Monterey County by the end of 1856, and had run the price up as high as
three dollars and a half an acre.

This made it hard for poor men who came in expecting to get it for a
dollar and a quarter; and a number of settlers in the township, as they
did all over the state, went on their land relying on the right to buy
it when they could get the money - what was called the preemption right.
I could see the houses of William Trickey, Ebenezer Junkins and Absalom
Frost from my house; and I knew that Peter and Amos Bemisdarfer and
Flavius Bohn, Dunkards from Pennsylvania, had located farther south. All
these settlers were located south of Hell Slew, which was coming to be
known now, and was afterward put down on the map, as "Vandemark's
Folly Marsh."

And now there came into the county and state a class of men called
"claim-jumpers," who pushed in on the claims of the first comers, and
stood ready to buy their new homes right out from under them. It was
pretty hard on us who had pushed on ahead of the railways, and soaked in
the rain and frozen in the blizzards, and lived on moldy bacon and
hulled corn, to lose our chance to get title to the lands we had broken
up and built on. It did not take long for a settler to see in his land a
home for him and his dear ones, and the generations to follow; and we
felt a great bitterness toward these claim-jumpers, who were no better
off than we were.

My land was paid for, such as it was; but when the people who, like me,
had drailed out across the prairies with the last year's rush, came and
asked me to join the Settlers' Club to run these intruders off, it
appeared to me that it was only a man's part in me to stand to it and
take hold and do. I felt the old urge of all landowners to stand
together against the landless, I suppose. What is title to land anyhow,
but the right of those who have it to hold on to it? No man ever made
land - except my ancestors, the Dutch, perhaps. All men do is to get
possession of it, and run everybody else off, either with clubs, guns,
or the sheriff.

I did not look forward to all the doings of the Settlers' Club, but I
joined it, and I have never been ashamed of it, even when Dick McGill
was slangwhanging me about what we did. I never knew, and I don't know
now, just what the law was, but I thought then, and I think now, that
the Settlers' Club had the right of it. I thought so the night we went
over to run the claim-jumper off Absalom Frost's land, within a week of
my joining.

It was over on Section Twenty-seven, that the claim-jumper had built a
hut about where the schoolhouse now is, with a stable in one end of it,
and a den in which to live in the other. He was a young man, with no
dependents, and we felt no compunctions of conscience, that dark night,
when two wagon-loads of us, one of which came from the direction of
Monterey Centre, drove quietly up and knocked at the door.

"Who's there?" he said, with a quiver in his voice.

"Open up, and find out!" said a man in the Monterey Centre crowd, who
seemed to take command as a matter of course. "Kick the door
open, Dutchy!"

As he said this he stepped aside, and pushed me up to the door. I gave
it a push with my knee, and the leader jerked me aside, just in time to
let a charge of shot pass my head.

"It's only a single-barrel gun," said he. "Grab him!"

I was scared by the report of the gun, scared and mad, too, as I
clinched with the fellow, and threw him; then I pitched him out of the
door, when the rest of them threw him down and began stripping him. At
the same time, some one kindled a fire under a kettle filled with tar,
and in a few minutes, they were smearing him with it. This looked like
going too far, to me, and I stepped back - I couldn't stand it to see the
tar smeared over his face, even if it did look like a map of the devil's
wild land, as he kicked and scratched and tried to bite, swearing all
the time like a pirate. It seemed a degrading kind of thing to defile a
human being in that way. The leader came up to me and said, "That was
good work, Dutchy. Lucky I was right about its being a single-barrel,
ain't it? Help get his team hitched up. We want to see him
well started."

"All right, Mr. McGill," I said; for that was his name, now first told
in all the history of the county.

"Shut up!" he said. "My name's Smith, you lunkhead!"

Well, we let the claim-jumper put on his clothes over the tar and
feathers, and loaded his things into his wagon, hitched up his team, and
whipped them up to a run and let them go over the prairie. All the time
he was swearing that he would have blood for this, but he never stopped
going until he was out of sight and hearing.

2

("What a disgraceful affair!" says my granddaughter Gertrude, as she
finishes reading that page. "I'm ashamed of you, grandpa; but I'm glad
he didn't shoot you. Where would I have been?" Well, it does seem like
rather a shady transaction for me to have been mixed up in. The side of
it that impresses me, however, is the lapse of time as measured in
conditions and institutions. That was barbarism; and it was Iowa! And it
was in my lifetime. It was in a region now as completely developed as
England, and it goes back to things as raw and primitive as King
Arthur's time. I wonder if his knights were not in the main, pretty
shabby rascals, as bad as Dick McGill - or Cow Vandemark? But Gertrude
has not yet heard all about that night's work.)

"Now," said McGill, "for the others! Load up, and come on. This fellow
will never look behind him!"

But he did!

The next and the last stop, was away down on Section Thirty-five - two
miles farther. I was feeling rather warnble-cropped, because of the
memory of that poor fellow with the tar in his eyes - but I went all
the same.

There was a little streak of light in the east when we got to the place,
but we could not at first locate the claim-jumpers. They had gone down
into a hollow, right in the very corner of the section, as if trying
barely to trespass on the land, so as to be able almost to deny that
they were on it at all, and were seemingly trying to hide. We could
scarcely see their outfit after we found it, for they were camped in
tall grass, and their little shanty was not much larger than a dry-goods


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