|"On the 24th of July, 1839, the first political caucus in Jones County was held, at the house of Clement Russell, for the purpose of nominating Territorial county officers. George H. Walworth was nominated for the Assembly. On the 5th of August, was held the second general election in Jones County, forty-two votes being cast in Bowen's Prairie Precinct. The candidates for Representative were Israel Mitchell and George H. Walworth. The latter was elected. Hugh Bowen was elected Sheriff. I will relate an incident, said to have transpired in this precinct at this election, tending to illustrate the accommodating spirit of Justices in those days, as well as the sensitiveness of candidates for office when their fitness for duties was called in question. During the day of election, it was noticed that a certain candidate was for some length of time in close consultation with a certain Justice of the Peace. There appeared to be great earnestness on the part of the candidate, as well as a disposition to listen on the part of the Justice. Something was up, that was evident, an ax to grid, if nothing more. At length an inkling of the state of things was revealed by a favored few, who pretended to know how matters stood. The said candidate, whom we will call Daniel, had heard it whispered that he was incompetent for the office, in fact, that he couldn't spell his own name correctly. This, if true, would surely have been a damaging accusation. But the said candidate was determined that such a glaring slander should be refuted; that obstacle, at least, in the way of his election, should be removed. He would produce an affidavit, signed by his own hand; that the accusation was cruelly false; that he did know how to spell his name; that he had done it and could do it again; that he never spelled his name Daniel; that he was prepared to produce documents to show that he always spelt it Danill. Having, of course, satisfied the legal voters on this point, it is presumed they governed themselves accordingly, accepting his statement of the case that he did spell his name with a double instead of a single 'l.'
"As horse-racing is one of the established institutions on the day, it may not be inappropriate to trace back its history to the first grand horse-race on Bowen's Prairie, and probably in Jones County, tending to show, if nothing more, the respectability of its origin, its felicitous results, and its tendency to elevate and refine the moral sentiments of the community at large. This event happened on the 18th day of August, 1839. The competitors were Charles Johnston and Alfred Weatherford; the day, the holy Sabbath; the wager, a gallon of whisky; distance to be run, eighty rods; terminus, a stake-and-ridered fence. At the word 'go,' both parties started off at a commendable pace, but, as they neared the fence, the said Johnston, valuing his head at a higher figure than a gallon of whisky even, held up, and thus saved a skull he was not prepared to break. But his competitor, Weaterford, was not to be thus defeated; he could see in the stake-and-ridered fence ahead something which would make him happy for a week, so for the fence he went with all the madness of a Calmuck Tartar. His horse, however, once in his life, seemed disposed to exercise his own rights, to-wit, that of life and limb, and when within some twenty feet of the decisive leap which would have mingled horse, rider and fence in one indistinguishable ruin, suddenly stopped. The momentum, however, carried the rider most effectually not only to but into the desired goal, completely demolishing both rider and fence. The conflict was over, the race won, and the whisky most cheerfully forthcoming, the loser declaring his entire satisfaction at the result, and proposing to repeat the contest, saying he had one more gallon he would be happy to dispose of with similar results. Whether the race was repeated, deponent is not informed.
"On the 24th of August, 1839, a meeting of the citizens of Jones County was held at the center of the county, to obtain an expression of their wishes in regard to the county seat. On the 16th of September, 1839, Edmund Booth called here on his way to Fisherville. It is none of our business to inquire what his business was, or why, in a reasonable time afterward, he led to the alter the accomplished sister of Mr. Walworth. On the 13th and 14th of November, 1839, Joseph E. Green raised his hewed-log house, on the premises now owned by Francis M. Hicks, being attracted to that locality by its bountiful spring of water and beautiful scenery, and on the day following, a dwelling-house was raised by a Mr. Michaeljohn, a Scotchman, near the late residence of Andrew Gordon. On the 27th of the same month, Hugh L. Johns raised a blacksmith-shop some twelve rods east of the house of Barrett Whittemore.
"On the 21st of January, 1839, an act was passed appointing Chauncy Swan, John Ronalds and Robert Ralston to meet at Napoleon, on the 1st day of May, 1839, and locate the seat of government of the Territory of Iowa, resulting in its location at Iowa City, in the county of Johnson. On the 17th of January, 1840, the city of Dubuque was incorporated. On the 13th of March, in the same year, ground was broken on the public square of Iowa City for the foundation of the State House, Barrett Whittemore being plowman. On the 15th of June, 1840, the official census of Jones County was taken by Hugh Bowen, as follows: Males, 290; females, 185; total 475. About the 20th of June in this year, the citizens of Bowen's Prairie, including Monticello and Cascade, met at the house of Moses Collins for the purpose of taking measures to protect their claims at the coming land sales, from the iron grasp of land speculators, and to reconcile conflicting claimants, so as to avoid conterbidding at the sale. A resolution to that effect was drawn up and signed by twenty-five persons. William Collins and Barrett Whittemore were appointed to act as bidders for all purchasers in this vicinity, and George H. Walworth for the same purpose in the south part of the county.
"On June 22, 1840, the land sales for this region commenced. George L. Nightingale was Auctioneer, and Thomas McKnight, Receiver. Two townships were sold daily, occupying about one hour. The remainder of the day was devoted to receiving money and issuing certificates. On Thursday following, June 25, Richland Township was offered. Only two sections were sold, amounting to $1,600. This amount not only drained the purchasers of their ready cash, but a considerable amount of it was borrowed at 25 to 30 per cent interest. The remaining claims were left unsold for the want of means to purchase with, thus subjecting the claimants to the risk of losing their claims. The risk, however, was not wholly on one side. Woe to the audacious speculator, who, in those days failed to recognize the equitable rights of the occupying claimants. During the hours of sale, the auction-room was surrounded by an organized band of determined men, ready to inflict summary vengeance on any who should dare to raise the bid of an actual settler, or who should bid on land claimed by one. It must be acknowledged that the stand taken by the settlers could not have been legally sustained, and might, in certain contingencies, have provoked a conflict between the settlers and the Government. But the settlers were willing to incur that risk, and circumstances rather tended to lead to the impression that the Government officers were inclined to avoid, if possible, such a conflict.
"At this date, Alfred Weatherford sold his claim to Francis Gehon, and moved to Missouri. Mr. Gehon sold to a Mr. Malony, who, in 1847, sold to Ebenezer Little. His son is the present owner and occupant. During this season, 1840, John Byers, then a lad of some ten summers, came to the Prairie, taking up his residence with Hugh Bowen, with whom he lived till about the time of his marriage to Mary Ellen Graham, a daughter of David Graham, formerly of Bowen's Prairie, and now a resident of Anamosa. Mr. Byers lived for some years in independent circumstances on his farm near Langworthy, and, with his estimable lady, still retains the cordial respect and good will of numerous friends of his earlier days. He now lives in Great Bend, Kan.
"On the 19th of October, 1840, the first schoolhouse on Bowen's Prairie, if not in the county, was raised, being a private institution of Barrett Whittemore's, and situated a few rods east of his present residence. For some nine years, this building was used alternately as a schoolhouse, a church and a court room. Previous to this, quite a number of settlers had located in Cascade and vicinity, including John Rafferty, Mahlon Lupton, Asa Leek, Lyman Dillon, Robert and George Snowden, Peter Summers, and others whose names are not recollected. Elon Rafferty, son of John Rafferty, still lives on or near his original homestead.
"On the 28th of January, 1841, John O'Sullivan raised his first dwelling-house on the premises now owned by his son.
"On March 22, 1841, the District Court was held in Edinburg, probably the first session held in the county. Thomas S. Wilson, of Dubuque, was Judge, Hugh Bowen, Sheriff, and William Hutton, Clerk. In the lack of outside accommodations, the court-room was used as a substitute. In the evening was held a political discussion, in which Lewis A. Thomas, a lawyer from Dubuque, and George H. Walworth were speakers; Charles P. Hutton also participated, after which was had an organization of the Whig party. This year, William Tibbetts arrived with his family, and settled on the premises where he resided until a few years ago, when he moved into Monticello. During his residence, he has been elected to various county and township offices, prominent among them that of Justice of the Peace.
"On the 3d of February, 1841, Charles Johnston moved to Missouri, but subsequently returned, and, about the year 1850, moved to California, where he still resides.
"In 1841, John McGinty and family moved to Bowen's Prairie, occupying a house belonging to Franklin Dalby, where he resided some two years, when he removed to his farm, two miles east of Cascade.
"June 21, 1841, a school was opened by Barrett Whittemore on Bowen's Prairie, being the first school taught in Jones County, north of the Wapsipinicon, and continuing in session, with two short vacations, until the 4th of March, 1842, constituting a term of thirty-five weeks, or 175 days; tuition, $3 per quarter; children under 7 years, $2.50; whole attendance, 29; average, 15. Books used were McGuffey's First, Second and Third Readers, Webster's Elementary Speller, Smith's, Pike's, Daboll's and Smiley's Arithmetics. There were eighteen writers, eleven in written arithmetic, two in geography and one in grammar.
"On the 27th of June, 1841, Rev. Ira Blanchard, a Baptist minister, residing in Castle Grove Township, held a religious meeting in the schoolhouse and made appointments to preach every fourth Sabbath after. At his second meeting, on the 24th of July following, some seventy-five persons were present, considered then the largest collection of persons ever assembled in Jones County; some of the hearers residing fifteen miles distant.
"About the 1st of January, 1842, a post office was established at Cascade; L. A. Styles, Postmaster. On the 19th of February following, was held the first temperance meeting in this vicinity, at a house owned by Arthur Thomas, of Cascade. Some twenty persons were present, twelve of whom signed the pledge. Two weeks afterward, a second meeting was held and a Temperance Society formed; William Collins was elected President, Asa Leek, Vice President, and William Hutton, Secretary. Temperance meetings were frequently held afterward in this vicinity, awakening considerable interest in the cause, but instigating the enmity of the rumsellers.
"During the year 1842, the Delong family sold their lands in Cascade and vicinity to the following purchasers: Caleb Bucknam, since deceased; G. G. Banghart and John Taylor, the present occupants. Most of Mr. Bucknam's original purchase is now merged in the village of Cascade. Mr. Banghart has been a prominent merchant in Cascade for nearly the whole period of his residence there, some thirty-seven years, occasionally assuming the duties which the county or township imposed on him. He was elected County Commissioner of Jones County soon after its organization, performing his duties with credit and ability. John Taylor was a native of Rockingham County, N. H., whence he emigrated to New York at the age of sixteen, thence to Wisconsin, subsequently to Dubuque, and thence to Jones County, as above stated. Soon after his arrival, he was elected Probate Judge of Jones County, which office he held for three years. In 1844, he was elected as Delegate to the Convention for framing a State Constitution, and has been repeatedly elected as State Representative, serving in that capacity six or eight sessions in all. It is not necessary to speak of him as a neighbor and citizen, what the writer could say would be deemed a cold compliment by those numerous recipients of his bounty, by the desolate bosoms which have been cheered by his sympathy, and by alienated hearts which have been reconciled by his timely and wise counsels.
"June 17 and 18, 1843, witnessed the arrival on the prairie of Otis Whittemore and wife, with a brother-in-law, John H. Eaton. He soon after laid claim to his old premises on Bowen's Prairie, which he commenced improving and on which he resided some twenty-four years, when, nine years ago, he moved to Monticello, where he now resides. He took a prominent part in building the Congregational Churches both in Cascade and Bowen's Prairie. About the year 1854, he opened a store on Bowen's Prairie, and, for several years, supplied most of the inhabitants with dry goods and groceries. In 1860, he was elected a Representative to the State Legislature. He has always been a stanch advocate of temperance, freedom and the moral reforms of the day.
"In 1854, Phillip Cline arrived on the Prairie, and purchased the premises known as the Cline farm, where he continued to reside for some thirty years, when he moved to Nebraska. He was a native of Virginia; moved thence to Ohio; thence to Illinois, and finally to Bowen's Prairie. He has seen a large family of children grow up under his care; several have died; one still resides here. The others are eligibly situated with homes of their own. The oldest son, William, influenced by the glaring reports from California, about the year 1850, joined the crowd of adventurers, and, after an absence of three years, returned, not as too many are foolish enough to do, with an elephant on his foot and a flea in his ear, but did the more sensible thing of returning with a pocket full of rocks. Surely this double present of a husband and a fortune must have been somewhat bewildering to any young lady, and we must not be much surprised if his fairy-bird was not an exception. Be that as it may, he is now living in very comfortable style in an elegant mansion, with his wife and children, with an abundance of rich acres surrounding him, and I presume, hardly dreams that some twenty-six years have glided away since the enactment of the drama just described.
"William Brazleton moved to the Prairie in the year 1845, and first settled on the premises now owned by A. R. Doxsee, and upon which he resided until the year 1849, cultivating and improving his farm, and burning brick. He erected the first brick house built in this vicinity, being the one now owned and occupied by the widow of Robert Bunting. He subsequently moved to Independence, Buchanan County, where he opened a hotel and ran it with profit to himself and satisfaction to the traveling public. Believing the locality an unhealthy one, he sold out and returned to the Prairie, and purchased the farm on which his son now resides. By availing himself of all the modern improvements in husbandry, and in building and household conveniences, he rendered his premises an inviting resort for all lovers of scientific husbandry. He now resides near Monticello, and, having been successful in accumulating a competency sufficient to release him from the necessity of physical toil, it is to be hoped that he will still continue to be, as he has been, the defender of an honest appropriation of the revenues."
It will be noticed that some of the above points are elsewhere referred to, but only so much as to fully corroborate what is written.—(ED.)
Bowen's Prairie First Congregational Church.—This church was organized March 23, 1853; Rev. E. Wright, of Anamosa, preached on the occasion. The following persons were admitted to membership at the time of organization: John White and wife, Lucian Rice and wife, Edmund Blodgett and wife, Otis Whittemore and wife, Barrett Whittemore and wife, and Fanny S. Flint.
April 2, 1853, the Church met and agreed to accept the Rules and Articles of Faith of the Dubuque Congregational Church. In May following, four members were added to the Church by letter. There have labored with this Church in the Gospel ministry: Revs. T. H. Canfield, S. C. Cady, J. Searles, I Russell, W. Apthorp, C. S. Thompson, N. Closson and the present Pastor, Rev. Harvey Adams, one of the "Iowa Band." The communion service was the gift of Mrs. James Bowen.
The First Congregational society was formed September, 1853, to co-operate with the Church in building a house of worship. The foundation was laid the first of October, and the church completed and dedicated the following June. The cost of the edifice was $1,300, three hundred of which was donated from the Church Building Fund. This church has a fine bell, the cost of which was partly donated by Asa Bowen, Otis Whittemore and others; $100 was raised by means of a bell-festival. Otis Whittemore donated the ground upon which the church was built, and also donated the grounds for the parsonage and half an acre of land for cemetery purposes, near the church. The cemetery has since been enlarged.
This Church had for many years one of the finest choirs in this part of the State. There were at one time sixty members in the choir. At the outbreak of the war, a number of the young men became volunteers, and the following were among the number: Alfred Hines, killed at the battle of Pea Ridge; Edgar Heims, died in camp at Helena, Ark., and Frederick Blodgett, died at Memphis, in hospital. He was an only son of Edmund S. Blodgett. On receipt of the news of the death of the above, the orchestra of the church was draped in mourning for many days. Much of the work of erecting the church edifice was done by Mr. Otis Whittemore, who was the leader of the choir for many years. Mr. Whittemore also donated the grounds on which the M.E. Church at Bowen's Prairie was built.
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