Western Historical Co.

The history of Jefferson County, Iowa, containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., a biographical directory of citizens, war records of its volunteers in the late rebellion, general and local statistics, portraits of early settlers and prominent men, history of the Northwest, his online

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Online LibraryWestern Historical CoThe history of Jefferson County, Iowa, containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., a biographical directory of citizens, war records of its volunteers in the late rebellion, general and local statistics, portraits of early settlers and prominent men, history of the Northwest, his → online text (page 13 of 75)
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Iowa, or, so far as is known, in the great valley of the Mississippi, is at Fort
Dodge. It occurs there in very small quantity in both the shales of the lower
coal measures and in the clays that overlie the gypsum deposit, and which are
regarded as of the same age with it. The first is just below the city, near Rees'
coal bank, and occurs as a layer intercalated among the coal measure shales,
amounting in quantity to only a few hundred pounds' weight. The mineral is
fibrous and crystalline, the fibers being perpendicular to the plane of the layer.
Breaking also with more or less distinct horizontal planes of cleavage, it resem-
bles, in physical character, the layer of fibro-crystalline gypsum before men-
tioned. Its color is light blue, is transparent and shows crystaline facets upon
both the upper and under surfaces of the layer ; those of the upper surface
being smallest and most numerous. It breaks up readily into small masses
along the lines of the perpendicular fibers or columns. The layer is probably
not more than a rod in extent in any direction and about three inches in maxi-
mum thickness. Apparent lines of stratification occur in it, corresponding with
those of the shales which imbed it.

The other deposit was still smaller in amount, and occurred as a mass of
crystals imbedded in the clays that overlie the gypsum at Cummins' quarry in


the valley of Soldier Creek, upon the north side of the town. The mineral ia
in this case nearly colorless, and but for the form of the separate crystals would
closely resemble masses of impure salt. The crystals are so closely aggregated
that they enclose but little impurity in the mass, but in almost all cases their
fundamental forms are obscured. This mineral has almost no real practical
value, and its occurrence, as described, is interesting only as a mineralogical

[Barytes, Seavy Spar.)

This mineral has been found only in minute quantities in Iowa. It has
been detected in the coal-measure shales of Decatur, Madison and Marion
Counties, the Devonian limestone of Johnson and Bremer Counties and in the
lead caves of Dubuque. In all these cases, it is in the form of crystals or small
crystalline masses.


Epsomite, or native epsom salts, having been discovered near Burlington,
we have thus recognized in Iowa all the sulphates of the alkaline earths of
natural origin ; all of them, except the sulphate of lime, being in very small
quantity. Even if the sulphate of magnesia were produced in nature, in large
quantities, it is so very soluble that it can accumulate only in such positions as
afford it complete shelter from the rains or running water. The epsomite
mentioned was found beneath the overhanging cliff of Burlington limestone,
near Starr's mill, which are represented in the sketch upon another page, illus-
trating the subcarboniferous rocks. It occurs in the form of efflorescent encrus-
tations upon the surface of stones and in similar small fragile masses among the
fine debris that has fallen down beneath the overhanging cliff. The projection
of the cliff over the perpendicular face of the strata beneath amounts to near
twenty feet at the point where epsomite was found. Consequently the rains
never reach far beneath it from any quarter. The rock upon which the epsom-
ite accumulates is an impure limestone, containing also some carbonate of mag-
nesia, together with a small proportion of iron pyrites in a finely divided con-
dition. It is doubtless by double decomposition of these that the epsomite re-
sults. By experiments with this native salt in the office of the Survey, a fine
article of epsom salts was produced, but the quantity that might be annually
obtained there would amount to only a few pounds, and of course is of no prac-
tical value whatever, on account of its cheapness in the market.


No extended record of the climatology of Iowa has been made, yet much of
great value may be learned from observations made at a single point. Prof. T.
S. Parvin, of the State University, has recorded observations made from 1839
to the present time. Previous to 1860, these observations were made at Mus-


catine. Since that date, they were made in Iowa City. The result is that the
atmospheric conditions of the climate of Iowa are in the highest degree favor-
able to health.

The highest temperature here occurs in August, while July is the hottest
month in the year by two degrees, and January the coldest by three degrees.

The mean temperature of April and October most nearly corresponds to the
mean temperature of the year, as well as their seasons of Spring and Fall,
while that of Summer and Winter is best represented in that of August and

The period of greatest heat ranges from June 22d to August 31st ; the next
mean time being July 27th. The lowest temperature extends from December
16th to February 15th, the average being January 20th вАФ the range in each
case being two full months.

The climate of Iowa embraces the range of that of New York, Pennsyl-
vania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The seasons are not characterized by the
frequent and sudden changes so common in the latitudes further south. The
temperature of the Winters is somewhat lower than States eastward, but of other
seasons it is higher. The atmosphere is dry and invigorating. The surface of
the State being free at all seasons of the year from stagnant water, with good
breezes at nearly all seasons, the miasmatic and pulmonary diseases are
unknown. Mortuary statistics show this to be one of the most healthful States
in the Union, being one death to every ninety-four persons. The Spring,
Summer and Fall months are delightful ; indeed, the glory of Iowa is her
Autumn, and nothing can transcend the splendor of her Indian Summer, which
lasts for weeks, and finally blends, almost imperceptibly, into Winter.



Iowa, in the symbolical and expressive language of the aboriginal inhab-
itants, is said to signify " The Beautiful Land," and was applied to this
magnificent and fruitful- region by its ancient owners, to express their apprecia-
tion of its superiority of climate, soil and location. Prior to 1803, the Mississippi
River was the extreme western boundary of the United States. All the great
empire lying west of the " Father of Waters," from the Gulf of Mexico on the
south to British America on the north, and westward to the Pacific Ocean, was
a Spanish province. A brief historical sketch of the discovery and occupation.
of this grand empire by the Spanish and French governments will be a fitting
introduction to the history of the young and thriving State of Iowa, which,
until the commencement of the present century, was a part of the Spanish
possessions in America.

Early in the Spring of 1542, fifty years after Columbus discovered the New
World, and one hundred and thirty years before the French missionaries discov-
ered its upper waters, Ferdinand De Soto discovered the mouth of the Mississippi
River at the mouth of the Washita. After the sudden death of De Soto, in
May of the same year, his followers built a small vessel, and in July, 1543,
descended the great river to the Gulf of Mexico.

In accordance with the usage of nations, under which title to the soil was
claimed by right of discovery, Spain, having conquered Florida and discovered
the Mississippi, claimed all the territory bordering on that river and the Gulf of
Mexico. But it was also held by the European nations that, while discovery
gave title, that title must be perfected by actual possession and occupation.
Although Spain claimed the territory by right of first discovery, she made no
efibrt to occupy it ; by no permanent settlement had she perfected and held her
title, and therefore had forfeited it when, at a later period, the Lower Mississippi
Yalley was re-discovered and occupied by France.

The unparalleled labors of the zealous Fr( nch Jesuits of Canada in penetrating
the unknown region of the West, commencing in 1611, form a history of no ordi-
nary interest, but have no particular connection with the scope of the present
work, until in the Fall of 1665. Pierre Claude Allouez, who had entered Lake-
Superior in September, and sailed along the southern coast in search of copper,
had arrived at the great village of the Chippewas at Chegoincegon. Here a
grand council of some ten or twelve of the principal Indian nations was held.
The Pottawatomies of Lake Michigan, the Sacs and Foxes of the West, the
Hurons from the North, the Illinois from the South, and the Sioux from the
land of the prairie and wild rice, were all assembled there. The Illinois told


the story of their ancient glory and about the noble river on the banks of which
they dwelt. The Sioux also told their white brother of the same great river,
and Allouez promised to the assembled tribes the protection of the French
nation against all their enemies, native or foreign.

The purpose of discovering the great river about which the Indian na-
tions had given such glowing accounts appears to have originated with Mar-
quette, in 1669. In the year previous, he and Claude Dablon had established
the Mission of St. Mary's, the oldest white settlement within the present limits
of the State of Michigan. Marquette was delayed in the execution of his great
undertaking, and spent the interval in studying the language and habits of the
Illinois Indians, among whom he expected to travel.

About this time, the French Government had determined to extend the do-
minion of France to the extreme western borders of Canada. Nicholas Perrot
was sent as the agent of the government, to propose a grand council of the
Indian nations, at St. Mary's.

When Perrot reached Green Bay, he extended the invitation far and near ;
and, escorted by Pottawatomies, repaired on a mission of peace and friend-
ship to the Miamis, who occupied the region about the present location of

In May, 1671, a great council of Indians gathered at the Falls of St.
Mary, from all parts of the Northwest, from the head waters of the St. Law-
rence, from the valley of the Mississippi and from the Red River of the North.
Perrot met with them, and after grave consultation, formally announced to the
assembled nations that their good French Father felt an abiding interest in their
welfare, and had placed them all under the powerful protection of the French

Marquette, during that same year, had gathered at Point St. Ignace the
vemn ants of one branch of the Hurons. This station, for a long series of
years, was considered the key to the unknown West.

The time was now auspicious for the consummation of Marquette's grand
project. The successful termination of Perrot's mission, and the general friend-
liness of the native tribes, rendered the contemplated expedition much less per-
ilous. But it was not until 1673 that the intrepid and enthusiastic priest was
finally ready to depart on his daring and perilous journey to lands never trod by
white men.

The Indians, who had gathered in large numbers to witness his departure,
were astounded at the boldness of the proposed undertaking, and tried to dis-
courage him, representing that the Indians of the Mississippi Valley were cruel
and bloodthirsty, and would resent the intrusion of strangers upon their domain.
The great river itself, they said, was the abode of terrible monsters, who could
swallow both canoes and men.

But Marquette was not to be diverted from his purpose by these fearful re-
ports. He assured his dusky friends that he was ready to make any sacrifice,
even to lay down his life for the sacred cause in which he was engaged. He
prayed with them ; and having implored the blessing of God upon his undertak-
ing, on the 13th day of May, 1673, with Joliet and five Canadian-French voy-
ageurs, or boatmen, he left the mission on his daring journey. Ascending
Green Bay and Fox River, these bold and enthusiastic pioneers of religion and
discovery proceeded until they reached a Miami and Kickapoo village, where
Marquette was delighted to find " a beautiful cross planted in the middle of the
town, ornamented with white skins, red girdles and bows and arrows, which
these good people had offered to the Great Manitou, or God, to thank Him for


the pity He had bestowed on them during the Winter, in having given them
abundant chase."

This was the extreme point beyond which the explorations of the French
missionaries had not then extended. Here Marquette was instructed by his
Indian hosts in the secret of a root that cures the bite of the venomous rattle-
snake, drank mineral water with them and was entertained with generous hos-
pitality. He called together the principal men of the village, and informed
them that his companion, Joliet, had been sent by the French Governor of Can-
ada to discover new countries, to be added to the dominion of France ; but that
he, himself, had been sent by the Most High God, to carry the glorious religion
of the Cross ; and assured his wondering hearers that on this mission he had
no fear of death, to which he knew he would be exposed on his perilous journeys.

Obtaining the services of two Miami guides, to conduct his little band to the
Wisconsin River, he left the hospitable Indians on the 10th of June. Conduct-
ing them across the portage, their Indian guides returned to their village, and
the little party descended the Wisconsin, to the great river which had so long
been so anxiously looked for, and boldly floated down its unknown waters.

On the 25th of June, the explorers discovered indications of Indians on the
west bank of the river and land -d a little above the mouth of the river now
known as Des Moines, and for the first time Europeans trod the soil of Iowa.
Leaving the Canadians to guard the canoes, Marquette and Joliet boldly fol-
lowed the trail into the interior for fourteen miles (some authorities say six), to
an Indian village situate on the banks of a river, and discovered two other vil-
lages, on the rising ground about half a league distant. Their visit, while it
created much astonishment, did not seem to be entirely unexpected, for there
was a tradition or prophecy among the Indians that white visitors were to come
to them. They were, therefore, received with great respect and hospitality, and
were cordially tendered the calumet or pipe of peace. They were informed that
this band was a part of the Illini nation and that their village was called Mon-
in-gou-ma or Moingona, which was the name of the river on which it stood.
This, from its similarity of sound, Marquette corrupted into Des Moines
(Monk's River), its present name.

Here the voyagers remained six days, learning much of the manners and
customs of their new friends. The new religion they boldly preached and the
authority of the King of France they proclaimed were received without hos-
tility or remonstrance by their savage entertainers. On their departure, they
were accompanied to their canoes by the chiefs and hundreds of warriors.
Marquette received from them the sacred calumet, the emblem of peace and
safeguard among the nations, and re-embarked for the rest of his journey.

It is needless to follow him further, as his explorations beyond his discovery
of Iowa more properly belong to the history of another State.

In 1682, La Salle descended the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, and in
the name of the King of France, took formal possession of all the immense
region watered by the great river and its tributaries from its source to its mouth,
and named it Louisiana, in honor of his master, Louis XIV. The river he
called " Colbert," after the French Minister, and at its mouth erected a column
and a cross bearing the inscription, in the French language,

"Louis THE Great, King of France and Navarre,
Reigning April 9th, 1682."

At the close of the seventeenth ' century, France claimed, by rio-ht of dis-
covery and occupancy, the whole valley of the Mississippi and its tributaries,
including Texas, as far as the Rio del Norte.


The province of Louisiana stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the sources
of the Tennessee, the Kanawha, the Allegheny and the Monongahela on the
east, and the Missouri and the other great tributaries of the Father of Waters
on the -west. Says Bancroft, "France had obtained, under Providence, the
guardianship of this immense district of country, not, as it proved, for her own
benefit, but rather as a trustee for the infant nation by which it was one day to
be inherited."

By the treaty of Utrecht, France ceded to England her possessions
in Hudson's Bay, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. France still retained
Louisiana ; but the province had so far failed to meet the expectations of the
crown and the people that a change in the government and policy of the country
was deemed indispensable. Accordingly, in 1711, the province was placed in
the hands of a Governor General, with headquarters at Mobile. This govern-
ment was of brief duration, and in 1712 a charter was granted to Anthony
Crozat, a wealthy merchant of Paris, giving him the entire control and mo-
nopoly of all the trade and resources of Louisiana. But this scheme also failed.
Crozat met with no success in his commercial operations ; every Spanish harbor
on the Gulf was closed against his vessels ; the occupation of Louisiana was
deemed an encroachment on Spanish territory ; Spain was jealous of the am-
bition of France.

Failing in his efforts to open the ports of the district, Crozat "sought to
develop the internal resources of Louisiana, by causing trading posts to be
opened, and explorations to be made to its remotest borders. But he
actually accomplished nothing for the advancement of the colony. The only
prosperity which it ever possessed grew out of the enterprise of humble indi-
viduals, who had succeeded in instituting a little barter between themselves
and the natives, and a petty trade with neighboring Euroj)ean settlements.
After a persevering effort of nearly five years, he surrendered his charter in
August, 1717."

Immediately following the surrender of his charter by Crozat, another and
more magnificent scheme was inaugurated. The national government of France
was deeply involved in debt; the colonies were nearly bankrupt, and John Law
appeared on the scene with his famous Mississippi Company, as the Louisiana
branch of the Bank of France. The charter granted to this company gave it a
legal existence of twenty-five years, and conferred upon it more extensive powers
and privileges than had been granted to Crozat. It invested the new company
with the exclusive privilege of the entire commerce of Louisiana, and of New
France, and with authority to enforce their rights. The Company was author-
ized to monopolize all the trade in the country ; to make treaties with the
Indians ; to declare and prosecute war ; to grant lands, erect forts, open mines
of precious metals, levy taxes, nominate civil officers, commission those of the
army, and to appoint and remove judges, to cast cannon, and build and equip
ships of war. All this was to be done with the paper currency of John Law's
Bank of France. He had succeeded in getting His Majesty the French King
to adopt and sanction his scheme of financial operations both in France and in
the colonies, and probably there never was such a huge financial bubble ever
blown by a visionary theorist. Still, such was the condition of France that it
was accepted as a national deliverance, and Law became the most powerful man
in France. He became a Catholic, and was appointed Comptroller General of

Among the first operations of the Company was to send eight hundred
emigrants to Louisiana, who arrived at Dauphine Island in 1718.


In 1719, Philipe Francis Renault arrived in Illinois with two hundred
miners and artisans. The war between France and Spain at this time rendered
it extremely probable that the Mississippi Valley might become the theater of
Spanish hostilities against the French settlemente ; to prevent this, as well as to
extend French claims, a chain of forts was begun, to keep open the connection
between the mouth and the sources of the Mississippi. Fort Orleans, high up
the Mississippi River, was erected as an outpost in 1720.

The Mississippi scheme was at the zenith of its power and glory in January,
1720, but the gigantic bubble collapsed more suddenly than it had been inflated,
and the Company was declared hopelessly bankrupt in May following. France
was impoverished by it, both private and public credit were overthrown, capi-
talists suddenly found themselves paupers, and labor was left without employ-
ment. The effect on the colony of Louisiana was disastrous.

While this was going on in Lower Louisiana, the region about the lakes was
the theater of Indian hostilities, rendering the passage from Canada to Louisiana
extremely dangerous for many years. The English had not only extended their
Indian trade into the vicinity of the French settlements, but through their
friends, the Iroquois, had gained a marked ascendancy over the Foxes, a fierce
and powerful tribe, of Iroquois descent, whom they incited to hostilities against
the French. The Foxes began their hostilities with the siege of Detroit in
1712, a siege which they continued for nineteen consecutive days, and although
the expedition resulted in diminishing their numbers and humbling their pride,
yet it was not until after several successive campaigns, embodying the best
military resources of New France, had been directed against them, that were
finally defeated at the great battles of Butte des Morts, and on the Wisconsin
River, and driven west in 1746.

The Company, having found that the cost of defending Louisiana exceeded
the returns from its commerce, solicited leave to surrender the Mississippi
wilderness to the home government. Accordingly, on the 10th of April, 1732,
the jurisdiction and control over the commerce reverted to the crown of France.
The Company had held possession of Louisiana fourteen years. In 1735, Bien-
ville returned to assume command for the King.

A glance at a few of the old French settlements will show the progress made
in portions of Louisiana during the early part of thfi eighteenth century. As
early as 170-5, traders and hunters had penetrated the fertile regions of the
Wabash, and from this region, at that early date, fifteen thousand hides and
skins had been collected and sent to Mobile for the European market.

In the year 1716, the French population on the Wabash kept up a lucrative
commerce with Mobile by means of traders and voyageurs. The Ohio River
was comparatively unknown.

In 1746, agriculture on the W^abash had attained to greater prosperity than
in any of the French settlements besides, and in that year six hundred barrels
of flour were manufactured and shipped to New Orleans, together with consider-
able quantities of hides, peltry, tallow and beeswax.

In the Illinois country, also, considerable settlements had been made, so that,
in 1730, they embraced one hundred and forty French families, about six
hundred " converted Indians," and many traders and voyageurs.

In 1753, the first actual conflict arose between Louisiana and the Atlantic
colonies. From the earliest advent of the Jesuit fathers, up to the period of
which we speak, the great ambition of the French had been, not alone to preserve
their possessions in the West, but by every possible means to prevent the
slightest attempt of the English, east of the mountains, to extend their settle-


ments toward the Mississippi. France was resolved on retaining possession of
the great territory which her missionaries had discovered and revealed to the
world. French commandants had avowed their purpose of seizing every
Englishman within the Ohio Valley.

The colonies of Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia were most affected by
the encroachments of France in the extension of her dominion, and particularly
in the great scheme of uniting Canada with Louisiana. To carry out this
purpose, the French had taken possession of a tract of country claimed by Vir-
ginia, and had commenced a line of forts extending from the lakes to the Ohio
River. Virginia was not only alive to her own interests, but attentive to the
vast importance of an immediate and effectual resistance on the part of all

Online LibraryWestern Historical CoThe history of Jefferson County, Iowa, containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., a biographical directory of citizens, war records of its volunteers in the late rebellion, general and local statistics, portraits of early settlers and prominent men, history of the Northwest, his → online text (page 13 of 75)