History of Page County, Iowa


Sixty years ago all that part of the great and beautiful state of Iowa of which the county of Page is a part was practically terra incognita, a vast wilderness, given over by the Almighty to wild beasts, birds of the air and their masters, the Indians, who roamed the plains and forests at will, claim- ing and securing an existence from the bounteous hand of nature. Here the deer, buffalo and other fur bearing animals found a habitat, and the many streams gave generously of the palatable fish. The red man had no care for the morrow. No thought came to him that his possessions would ever be disturbed by the pale face. So he continued his dreams. The hunt w'as his daily avocation, broken in upon at intervals by a set-to with a hostile tribe of aborigines, that was always cruel and bloody in its results and added spoils to the victor and captives for torture. He knew not of the future and cared less. But the time was coming, was upon him, when he was called upon to make way for a stronger and a progressive race of men; when the fair land, that was their birthright, and their hunting grounds, resplendent with the gorgeous flower and emerald sod, must yield to the husbandman. The time had come for the buffalo, deer and elk to seek pastures new, that the alluvial soil might be turned to the sun and fed with grain, to yield in their seasons the richest of harvests.

It is hard for the present generation to realize the rapid pace of civilization on the western continent in the past one hundred years; and when one confines his attention to the advancement of the state of Iowa in the past sixty years, his amazement is all the more intense. Evidences of progress are on every hand as one wends one's way across the beautiful state. Manufacturing plants are springing up hither and yon; magnificent edifices for religious worship point their spires heavenward; schoolhouses, colleges and other places of learning and instruction make the state stand out prominently among her sisters of this great republic. Villages are growing into towns, and towns are taking on the dignity of a city government, until today Iowa is noted throughout the Union for the number, beauty and thrift of her towns and cities. The commonwealth is cobwebbed with her telegraph, telephone and railroad lines, and all these things above mentioned have been made possible by the thrift, determination and high character of the people who claim citizenship within her borders.


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In the period which marked the pioneer development of Page county and witnessed the laying of the foundation upon which has been built its present prosperity and progress, Jacob Holland Powers was a prominent factor in the district. He came here in the early days and for many years figured prominently in connection with its agricultural interests and also as the owner of a large amount of real estate. He is well remembered, too, as a man of kindly spirit and generous civility as manifested in his liberal aid to those who needed assistance.

He was born near Morgantown in what was then Virginia but is now West Virginia, September 24, 1S07, and his life record covered the intervening years to the 14th of February, 1884, when he passed away. His father, Nehemiah Powers, who married Cassandra Holland, was descended from an old family represented in the American army in the war of the Revolution. He was a planter and slave owner but freed his bondsmen before his death. In 1819 he removed to Wayne county, Indiana, becoming one of the pioneer residents of that state, which only three years before had been admitted to the Union. Subsequently he removed to Henry county, where his death occurred. He was a member of the Baptist church and his life was an upright and honorable one, in consistent harmony with his professions. In his family were twelve children.