Keokuk Tri-State Old Settlers' Association.

Report of the ... reunion of the Tri-State Old Settlers' Association of Illinois, Missouri and Iowa .. (Volume yr. 1884-87) online

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^ new country, are crowded into the space of a single lifetime. I look
down the vista of departed years, and see in my ' mind's eye" the
wondrous changes moving along like a grand panorama. I see in the
molly crowd some iigures more prommenl than others. I see Keokuk
and Bhickhawk, Joe. Smith the Prophet, Cabet the Icarian — all of whom
I knew, and some of them ([uite well — passing along until they fade

, away into tlie dim distance like the unsubbtaniiij fabric of a dream.

My friends, again 1 tender you a hearty welcome. May this day be
but the beginning of days which each revolving year will celel.trate, and
thus keep ever-green the memory of the Old Settlers of the Upper Mis-
sissippi Valley "to the last syllable of recorded time." Let these days be
the means of bringing into nearer contact and comi>anionsliip, the people
of Illinois, Missuuri and It)\v'a, and knitting firmer and closer the bonds
of their commercial and social relations. In conclusion, I add m the
words o,f the master poet : —

" Once more I shower a welcome on ye, — welcome all."


Mr. I'kKsiDKNr, Old SiiTTLERS and Friends: — Your hearty welcome
just delivered in such eloriuent terms by our old friend the Hon. Edward
Johnstone, is \ery [)recious to the old settlers who have come here to-day
h-uin old Missouri lo join in your reunion.

The city in whit-!i we meet is the center of a mighty and growing
civilization euibrac ing llnee great States. A pivotal point around which
revolves the inlercsis, and I may add, the affections of great common-

To some of us* sir, an individual interest attaches to the occasion.
This kiiul old city of Keokuk is the pioneer cabin in which our strength
was nurtured, ami where we learned the strict le^sons o\ industry and
honor, and e\er as our thoughts tvu'n to her. we praise her for whatever of
good we may have helped confer on our fcUowmen. Ood bless the
people of luwa, aiul the old Gate City I


But sir, we arc not assembled for expression of merely personal feel-
ing. Three mighty States sit to-day in conclave to honor the old settlers
of this land.

Indeed, this is a noble purpose. What great sacrifices and services
are now to be rememliercd and recalled, the priceless benefits of which we
enjoy. \Vc think not only of the living, of those of our own times, but
reaching to the far distant past, we remember the discoverers of and
pioneers of this far western land. We recall DeSoto, with his pageantry
and search for gold ; discovering in 1542 in the tar south the great river on
whose bank we assemble. We reverently refer to Joliet and Marquette.
who in 1667, reached the riv..r at tliC north. We think with pride of
Laclede, who in 1764 founded St. Louis, the now great metropolis of the
Mississippi valley. \Ve mention old Daniel Hoone, who died within the
borders of Missouri; and we might still summon in long array the many
men of courage and enterprise, self-sacrifice and devotion to the cause of
progress, who in these western states have struggled and suffered for us all.
Great respect is due ail such forerunners of the human race, laboring
either in the civilization that assaults the physical roughness and resist-
ance of the original wilds, or the more terrible fierceness of fraud and pas-
sion that lurks among all ranks of men. Respect, did I say? Let me
rather exclaim admiration and devotion is due their memory. Tribute
has been paid to such men by all nations. Let others refer to classic
times and tell how the progenitors of nations of long ago were deemed to
have sprung tVoin the earth. I recall rather from our western annals the
funeral of Marc[uette. DeSoto in splendor had sought the new Eldorado
for gold, had peiished and been buried beneath the Mississippi at night,
that no man might find him more. ALarciuette had sought to civilize and
redeem his lollow men — even the rude barbarians ; and dying on the
banks of Lake Michigan, had there been buried. lUit soon the reveren-
tial savages sought his grave; with pious hands brought forth his bones;
cleansed them in the waters of the lake he lo\ed; placed them in a birch
bark box woven by Indian maiden's hands, and in a long procession of
thirty canoes filled with mourning chieftains, bore them with t"uneral
dirge and stroke oi steady rhythmic oar to the chapel of the Christian to
rest forever more. Let us nut forget the "services of all such men of early
or recent date.

"Ye natives, 'twas thus your adventurous sires,
Forsaking their fatherland, altars anil fires^
The homes of their childhood, the graves of their kin.
(lave all that they \alued, for all they niight win.''

"They climbed every l)arrier ; no peril could daunt ;
Through storm and through pestilence, battle and want^
.And marching still on, with the path of the sun,
ReLraiiK'd a lost home in a l'.u"adise won."

"Their star was the day-star, and westward it led,
'Till round them in beauty the bright Eden spread.
And the garden ot" gardens, that blooms round us here,
Were found and were won by the brave pioneer."'

Mr. President: If such is the gratitude we owe to the old settlers,
it becomes me, as the re[)resentati\'e of the great State of Missouri, to
report progress to your association, and to exhibit on what benefits is based
Missouri's admiration for those wlio have gone before or still live as
honored pioneers. It would please me greatly to enter the arena in friendly
■competition with you, my old-time and tried friends of Iowa and Illinois,
and match names for statesmanship and enterprise we could produce from
Missouri, but the time and occasion do not serve. The names of Barton,
Jjcntou, Jiutes, Geyer, Gamble, Laclede, Choteau, Sarpy, Campbell and a
host of others rush to memory. But a few short statistics will tell why
Missouri nays tril)ute here to-day to her and your old settlers.

It is because of their heroic efforts and unlimited self sacrifice, she
■can present her glorious record of the past as entitling her to your wel-
come, and her bright hopes as worthy of your sisterly appreciation in
friendly rivalry.

Her rank in population among the states of this great union has been

as follows :

1830 she was 31st with 140,455 inhabitants.

1840 she was i6th with 383,702 inhabitants.

1S50 she was 13th with 682,044 inhabitants.

i860 she was 8th with 1,182,012 inhabitants.

1870 she was 5th with 1,192,295 inhabitants.

1880 she was 5th with 2,168,380 inhabitants.

And she had at the last mentioned date within her borders the city of
St. I.ouis, the sixth in rank, as to population and wealth, among the great
municipalities of our country.

The banners of the city are Hying to-day, my friends. She is
adorned with all the vesture of a [)roud and beautiful metropolis. By the
banks of this broad and majestic river, she looks to the south and she
looks to the north, and she welcomes all in freedom, equality and peace.
Missouri says, too, she owes to the old pioneers that her i)er centage of
increase of poimlation was —

From i860 to 1S70, 45.6.

From 1870 to 1S80, 22.9.

And in the same time Illinois was:

From i860 to 1S70, 48. 3.

l'"roin 1870 to 1880, 21.

And Iowa :

From i860 to 1S70, 76.

From 1870 to 1880, 36


On the last decade Missouri stands as against Illinois, 25.9 to 21.1
with the greater population in Illinois; as against her sister Iowa, 25.9
to 36, with the lesser population in Iowa.

Missouri's average size of farm is 129 acres; Iowa's, 134 acres; and
Illinois, 124 ; and of these homes of independence and industry, Illinois has
255,741 ; Iowa, 185,351 ; and Missouri, 215,575-

Missouri says that by the last census of the United States, she stands
seventh in rank for the value of her manufactured products.

Missouri reports that she has compared with adjacent .States, either
formerly slave-holding or non-slave-holding, of illiteracy in her over two
millions of poi)ulatioii she has to acknowledge 13.4 (thirteen and four-
tenths) per cent. Vet Kentucky has 29.9 per cent, and Arkansas has to
confess to 3S ])er cent, and she cannot understand why everybody is
proud to hail from old Kentucky, and it is popular to cry out against
"poor old Missouri." I can come even here to glorious old Iowa, with all
her energy and i)rogress, and bear high tlie banner of Missouri without
fear even of you my old friends and comrades of Iowa and Illinois.


Missouri has 10,329; Iowa, 12,635; Illinois, 15,203; but with these
Illinois has high school education connected with 113; Iowa, 141 ; while
Missouri has it with 239,

Missouri is not here a jealous rival, but she wants you to understand
that your welcome is gratefully acknowledged by her, but only as an
ecpial, and aU the aspiring sister of this glorious triad of States.

Settlers we are. Old settlers we claim to be. Hut some settle and
grow old, and some settle a good deal m a very short time. Missouri has
had some settlers who are not so very old.

Ve glorious and triumphant States of Iowa and Illinois, how prosper-
ous has lieen your. ( areers. Fresh as the prairies you found your homes;
no blight was on your land ; no cloud was on \our sky.

\'our advance in i)opulation and marvelous prosperity among the
freedom-loving nations of the world svas e.isy.

I'.iit alas, Hot so for i;ld Missouri. She alone, from ail this mighty
n:)rthwest, was excepted and nut made tree soil.

I)!), what a biMilei\ was on her in this moving world I \Vhat an
eclipse was on her star in the galaxy of States I

Settlers, what is il to settled Is it merely to clear the t«)rcst, or will
we ul.ulK ailnnt to our bautl those wlu) ilearoui baibaiily .i:ul all the
horrid cm nius iA rre<.iloin {

Missouri not onlv bore slaverv like a nightmare, while the graiul
Slates of low, I and Illinois were tree, with all the I'lessiu'^s that freedom

gives, but she bore war on her own soil, with 190,000 of her own rnen
fighting for treedoiu.

Your war was abroad. It was within her borders ; in her very bosom.
You lielped lier, and Clod bless you for it. Your troops opened the bat-
tle of Pea Ridge and closed the last fighting on her soil at Osage and In-

Providence be thanked for her redemption. Old settlers of her bor-
ders, brave pioneers of the jiast, rejoice in Iowa! Be very proud ol
Illinois, but rejoice also for your other child, Missouri. She is coming on,
young in her ntw birth, and radiant with her brilliant future. Do you
mention the James boys? I reply we have to settle law and order in
Missouri ; and as you, when assailing the wilderness with your a.\es, have
had to leave a stump or a snag here and there, and a hollow to fill, so we
have our James to root out and our glorious fields of social harvest yet to
gather. The axes are swinging and sounding. Comrades and fellow set-
tlers — soldiers who settled this Union on freeilom's side — we are with you
and greet you. The events of our past history are marvelous, but the
greatest are yet to come. Who can foretell the future of the old settler's
glory ?

In the past the hawk — bird of nature — soared over wilds where no
civili/.ed being trod. There were the mighty rivers, now named the Mis-
souri, the Mississip|)i and the Ohio, and the lakes. But all was silence ;
the wild herds and barbarous men all these hills, plains and valleys held.
But now ascend, oh, si)irit of this l.uid — inercurial commerce — winged of
foot and far speeding in thy eagerness. In broad ex[).anse are seen the
factories and ports of commerce, increasing trade and many new designs
to compass man's end. The steamboat plys the waters, the telegrapli be-
comes the nerve of civilization, the telephone s|)eaks through space and
man's voice becomes like that of disembodied spirits, art and science add
on every hand to the growth of humnn knowledge.

Ikit this is where but now the eagle in his solitary circle swept and
knew no danger.

. But spirit of my native land, sweet liberty ascend and tell us
what is to be.

Ilcr voice has been heard and repeated by our most gifted and pa-
triotic countryman, Washington Irving.

"Yast regions of ine\haustable fertility, deeply embosomed in our
imnuMise continent, and watered by the mighty lakes and rivers, I pic-
tine them to myself, as they soon will be, peopled by millions ul indus-
trious, intelKgenl, enlerprising, well-instructed and self-governed hce-
men blessed by a generally diffused cosnpetence, brightened with innum-
erable towns and cities, the m uks of .1 bouudless, iiuernal commerce, and
the seats of an enlightened civilization. I regard them a-, the gr.uul auil

I 6

safe depositories of the strength and perpetuity of our union. There lie
tlie keys of an empire ; there dwells the heart of our giant republic that must
regulate its pulsations and send the current through every limb. There
must our liberties take their deepest root and their purest nourishment;
llicre, in a word, must we look for the growth of a real, free-born, home-
\)icd national character, of which our ]josterity may be proud "
Hail, coin^'ades, let us go forward I


Right here where Lidian fires were lighted.

Long, long ago—
A\'here dusky forms by rum mcited,

Danced wildly to and fro —
^Ve Old SetUers come to greet you, •

Proffer heart and hand —
lireathe too a fervent prayer to meet you

Yonder in tlie spirit land.

Gone tawny chief, whose war-cry sounded,

All but his name —
'J'hat, far and near, has been resounded,

Linked with our rising fame —
Keokuk, witli i)ride v/e gather ,.

On thy golden strand —
"While from the skies a loving father

Ijlesses our sunset land.

O! brotliers. there are dear old faces
■ .. ■ Hid 'neath the mold —

Forms missing froni tlieir wanted places,

Hands we have clasped, still and cold —
. AVHiile the scores of years behind us
. , I Tell we're hastening on —

And that when friends return to find us,
Softly may fall, "They are gone."

Here brothers, where our noble river

Chants through its waves —
JNIay we remain till called to sever,

Make and guard our graves —
And with welcoming shouts we'll greet you

When you reach heaven's strand —
Fling wide the golden gate and meet you

15rothers, m the Edenland.



Mr. Prksideni' akd Oi.ij of Missouri, Illinois a.nd
Iowa: As I look upon this assembly and see these fathers and mothers,
who were little children when I first knew them, I feel like an old settler.

It is with unfeigned pleasure that I join yuu in this reunion of old
settlers, to respond for the great commonwealth, by whose side lor forty
years, hand in hand, with equal step, Iowa has walked in the grand
march of modern progress. In State organization, Illinois ante-dates you
nearly thirty years. liut remember, our justly proud young neighbor, that
those thirty years belong to the "Cycle of Cathay," that tliey were belorc
the era of the cultivator and the reaper, and the railroad — they would not
count fivt years now — so, you see, we are almost twins, our seniority
being just enough to entitle us to your becoming deference. Tlierefore, just
because we put on long dresses first, anil sat up Saturday nights witii our
beau, I pray you, gentle sister, don't imagine you see any wrinkles across
the river. We, too, inhaling the breezes of the prairies, and the spirit of
liberty, have found what DeLeon souglit in this western world, have
been bapti/.ed in the fountain of eternal youth.

It is hard for me to bear in mind that I am representing Illinois, and
not I(jwa, on this occasion. And in this presence I might be indulged a
word of reminiscence, while I recognize in this assemljly so many lamiliar
faces, and when so many mingled memories to me are centered here. I
cannot make it seem that a gene;ration has come and gone since I
first looked upon this place. Instinctively my mind calls the roll of the
friends of other days ; of the men whose high character and enterprise so
largely contributed to the rapid aihancement and j)rosi>erity of this
noble State, and who stami>ing their own impress upon her material and
social progress, have given to Iowa an enviable place in the sisterhood of

It is just one hundred years since Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe,
Tlnxnas Hardy and Arthur Lee, authon/ed thereto by the State of
Virginia, formally ceded to the United States the County of Illinois, which
then coniDrised what was known r^ the northwestern territory, and
embraced all the country north of the Ohio rivcr uji to the boundary of
British .America, and all east of the Mississippi river (including Indiana)
not claimeil by any other of the original thirteen States. A good
sized county, I f.ear you say. ThrLe years laur the organic law of
the territory was enacted by congress, the celebrated ordinance of 1787.
by which this magnificent domaui, richer in all material resources than
even the tabled wealth that turned Cohuntnis' prows aATOSs the untried
sea, was tore\er consecrated to tVeedom.

No poetic legentl lingers about the birth vf III nois. .-\s in the case
ol Iowa and many of the Western States, an Iiuli.m chief ^tood sponsor at


her hirlh, and hence her name Illinois, '-the men " Her history is your
history, the common history of the pioneers of the west, and may be
summed u[) in a few words — privation, suffering and danger, borne with
patience, iorlilmie and courage.

I have sometimes wondered if to the prophetic mind of Marquette

the vision of the future was 0]jened, as he and Joliet in their birch canoes

floated duwn this royal river, and here in the State of luwa among

the Illinois Indians planted their first mission in the valley of the Mis-

sisippi ; or whether the less religious and more daring mind of LaSalle

' ever dreamed of the empire that would grow u|) around his Kaskaskia

and Peoria and Chartres. They carried no arms to subdue hostile tribes;

they conquored with the calumet and the cross — Old Fort Chartres,

a classic name in the annals of this valley, that seems to connect the

antithesis of history, and recalls the golden age of both England

and France; of Louis the Great and the Duke of Orleans; of the

Mississi[)pi bubble and John Law, who spending millions upon that fort,

the citadel ot his future commercial ca|jital, made Frenchmen believe

that every dollar of the irredeemable ])ai)er of Lis Grand Mississippi

Company was worth forty dollars in gold or silver ; who was the great

original of the "Ohio idee" and from whom our friind General \Vea\XT

must have Famed iiis ccuiiomy ol finance.

It recalls tlie age of (,)ueene Anne and the galaxy of genius that
made her reign illustrious ; the age of liolingbroke anil Walpole, of Sv.'ift
and I'ope, of Marlborcnigh, and the I'rince Eugene. What memories and
what contrast, too! There Fouis' court; here Martpictte's wigwam;
there the spleiidid legions of the most splendid en\pire upon the earth .
■liere th^ pij)e of peace, and the crucifix of the humble follower oi Loyola.
That glorious empire went duwn in re\olution and blood, while the luit of
the pioneer has became the hecnuurs castle, the royal home of the rulers
of the great republic.

I see before me here to-day in this reunion of old settlers, the
survivors of the men, who leaving their childhood's homes, t'oundi.d in the
valley of the Mississipjii an eippire of freedom, of intelligence, o*
security, of comiort, of abuiulaiice, and of every earthly blessing; who
had the ambition to better then- fortunes, and the courage aiid fortitude to
l)rave dangers and endure privation, the faith Il> trust a destiny their own
bold entei|)rise should carve out. They recogni/eii the truth in
political economy, that the wealth of the soil is the best loundaiiou
of national greatness aiui individual pros[)erit\ .

The)- knew that ilircc hundred thousand sipiare miles of lanil, rich as
the valley ot the To, must become the seat of empire ami furnish the best
guarantee, in the future, for all those institutions of religion, charity
and leaininu thai emii li the life o( the citi.'cn.


They saw further ihan the statesman of their day. For even James
Monroe, after crossing the Alleghanies liiinself, and obtaining the best
information he could, reported that this country was a treeless waste which
probably for a century to come would not be entitled to a member
ot congress.

Within half a century the President of the United States was elected
from llie valley oi the Mississippi, and long since tlie prophecy of
the pioneer has become the fact of history.

^Vere London surrounded, as Chicago and St. Louis are, by a quar-
ter of a million s(piare miles of soil of exhaustless fertility, the future of
England would be more secure than it is. Were the sterile plains of
Germany ecpial in power of protluction to the alluvium of Illinois and
Missouri, l>ismarck would not now be exhibiting the remarkable spectacle
of the great imperial chancellor imposing a duty uj^on food, to i>rotect her
exhausted farms from the comi)etition of Iowa wheat.

Were the hillsides of Normandy covered with the black loam of
Kansas and Nebraska, France would not now be crying out against the
invasion of American breadstuffs.

A few years ago when it cost five or six cents a ton per mile during
the greater ])art of the year to transport wheat and corn and pork and
Ijeef from your farms to the sea-board, the self contained statesmen
of I'Airupe hardly knew of your existence. They put their noble fingers all
over the map, when looking for Chicago or St. Louis. They have found
them now. WHien the products of your farms are carried to the sea-
board by rail, fur less than one cent a ton per mile, and whole fleets enter
the harbors of J'^uro[)e, laden with everything that supports mankind, the
political economists of the monarchies suddenly awake to the fact of your
being, and have to admit that you are large factors in the happiness of
their citizens.

Wonderful to relate, they are even taking down their long shelved
industrial creeds, and threatening to revise the sup[)Osed postulates of their
political economy, by levying a duty upon the food they cannot them-
selves supply. The American steer is goring the life out of the French
ministry, and the sleep of the great Bismarck is disturbed by the grunt of
the Ami^rii;an hog. Yet, within the life-time of men before me, all of the
States rejjresented here to-day were a wilderness, a beauiitul, glorious
wiUleiiiess, it is true. A very wilderness of beauty they must have been,
of prairie and riser, ami wood and lake, peopled onlv by the Indian and

It was only in 1703 that France coded Illinois to luigland, and
twenty ye.irs later that we concpicred it from Croat Ihitain. It was not
organized as a separate territory till 1809, and did not become a Stale till
1818. That is only a little o\or sixty years, and within the memory


of some of you here. Now, not in the spirit of boasting, (which would be
utterly unbecoming in a citizen of Chicago, as you know) but as most im-
pressively exhibiting the rapid growth of the country, I may be allowed to
mention a few facts, l^orn, us you have seen, near a half century after
the Declaration of Independence, yet Illinois has a larger area in cultiva-
tion than all the farms of England and Wales combined, and in improved
agricultural extent, leads all her sister slates, as well as in the value of her
products of field and farm. Again, in railroads, that most valuable
achievement of modern invention, and about the most reliable index of
material prosperity, she stands at the head. And here let me say, that
having long since severed all connection with railroads and become a
farmer in four states, I have been led to look into tlie question of trans-
portation from the Mississippi valley to the sea-board, and reached these
conclusions :

First. That the farmers in the States represented here to-day
and those adjacent pay less per ton per mile for moving their beef and
pork and grain to market than any other farmers in the world. I can well
remember when wheat at the sea-board was worth one dollar and twenty-
five cents a bushel, and only three cents at the Illinois farm, and when it
cost 300 bushels of good winter wheat to buy a Sunday coat.

Second. It is because railroad transportation is cheaper here than
any where else in the world that this great valley, though over a thousand
miles from the sea-board and over four thousand miles from Li\erpool, is

Online LibraryKeokuk Tri-State Old Settlers' AssociationReport of the ... reunion of the Tri-State Old Settlers' Association of Illinois, Missouri and Iowa .. (Volume yr. 1884-87) → online text (page 2 of 32)