An illustrated history of Monroe County, Iowa
It is with a mingling of both pride for the locality of one's birth and a sincere desire to preserve the annals of its community that the writer has undertaken the author-ship of this volume. It may perhaps be a source of regret that the work has not been performed by abler hands; and especially by some one who has seen with his own eyes the procession of events as they have transpired. However, in proportion to the disadvantage of being of a later generation, the writer has endeavored, by special pains and untiring application, to attain the same result as that which would have been achieved with less difficulty by one whose life has been a part of the history of Monroe County from its earliest organization down to the present time.
No words of surprise need be uttered at the mutations which time has wrought within the comparatively brief period of the county's life.
That Monroe County should, in The course of time, become one of the garden-spots of earth, was a natural sequence. Already it has been verified in part; and the most sanguine dreamer may fail to see through the mist of the future the full grandeur of that which is yet to be.
The annals of a community should not be classed as something trivial or commonplace. The history of a county ought to be preserved, in order that some day it may offer to the historian, whose field is of wider scope, details to augment the sum total of a State's, or even of a nation's history.
Another reason why it should be preserved: it sets up to posterity examples of exalted manhood and womanhood, as revealed in the lives of the pioneer settlers. They were men and women with brave hearts and unclouded hopes. Their hands were willing and their faith was strong. They "blazed" out the lines of their habitations in the forests, and broke the violet-studded sod of the prairie, in good faith of a future home.
They built their "claim-pens" in the "New Purchase," not that they intended to acquire the land for purposes of speculation and trade, but that they might mark the places of their homesteads as soon as the Government placed the land upon the market.
And there was still another "claim-pen" built by the early settler, which stood as a monument of his faith and a,s a testimony of his intention to remain and occupy the land: it was a small enclosure built about with fence-rails to keep out the wild animals or the tread of careless feet; it was the tabernacle of the young father's and mother's parental love, set up in the wilderness, with the wild rose and the violets as the vessels of the sanctuary; it was the little grave of perhaps their first-born infant. They did not carry the little rudely constructed coffin with its precious treasure back to their old home for burial, but they planted it beneath the wild sod of the prairie, or in the lonely forest glades, knowing, as they planted a wild rose for a head-stone, that some day a marble shaft would take its place, that some day the tangled forest would disappear, and that through the embellishing touch of civilized life the little tomb would be ranged with others in avenues of flowers and rows of marble and granite in the village cemetery.
For accuracy of statement, the author, in many in- stances, has relied solely on the memory of old settlers, which, in a few cases, may lead to slight error. He has also assumed the liberty of incorporating a few personal reminiscences, anecdotes, and personal allusions, without consulting the wishes of those whom their narration would involve in publicity. These reminiscences he has regarded as already belonging to the public, and they have been assigned a place in this volume merely to afford the reader any pleasure he may derive from their perusal.
The roster of the Monroe County soldiers who served in the War of the Rebellion has been compiled from the Adjutant-General's Reports, mainly. The Reports themselves contain frequent inaccuracies, which have been corrected in this volume, wherever the errors concerned the Monroe County volunteer. The roster is complete; yet it is possible that a few names have been, omitted, owing to the fact that occasionally a volunteer enlisting from Monroe County gave his post-office address as in some adjoining county. This frequently occurred; and the Adjutant-General's Reports thus fix his residence in some other county.
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If all existing land-marks were obliterated, leaving no means of identifying the surface of country comprising Monroe County, Iowa, the boundary lines could be relocated by going down to the mouth of the Arkansas River, where there is an imaginary line running east and west, known as a "base line." Here the surveyor would find another imaginary line, crossing the base line at right angles and extending north and south. This latter line is called a meridian line, and that one which the surveyor would have to follow in the search for Monroe County is known as the Fifth Principal Meridian.