The History of Clinton County, Iowa

Forty-four years have passed since civilization's advance guard, in the persons of Mr. Elijah Buell and family, first commenced the work of developing the rich agricultural lands now embraced within the boundaries of Clinton County. Had these pioneers, or those who soon followed them, directed their attention to keeping a diary of events, or a chronological journal, to write a history of the county at this date would be comparatively an easy task. In the absence of all such records, the difficulties of such a work were greatly increased, and still further by the death or removal of the larger proportion of the original settlers. More than this, the official records, many of which are altogether lost, are meager in the extreme. It must be further borne in mind that it was twenty years before the first newspaper was published in the county, and the files of that one were destroyed by fire. The struggles, changes and vicissitudes of forty-four years have made their marks upon the minds is well as bodies of those men who first "awoke the echoes" in the wilderness, and the memory of names, dates and events becomes lost in the confusion which seems to overtake them as they endeavor to bring up the scenes and events of their early manhood and womanhood, and the recollections of these events, which transpired nearly fifty years ago, come dimly and in shadowy outline. But enough has been written to show to the thoughtful reader the wonderful progress that has been made during those years, and to place before him a picture of the "hundred-fold" harvest that has followed the first seedings of civilization in the cultivated farms, schoolhouses, churches, cities, villages, railways, telegraphs and manufacturing establishments that are scattered throughout the whole county. The geology of the county was prepared by Dr. P.J. Farksworth, and also other valuable scientific assistance rendered to the compiler in the succeeding chapters. The complete and exhaustive history of De Witt was prepared by R.J. Crouch, Esq., who also rendered other valuable assistance.


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When the Northwestern Territory was ceded to the United States by Virginia in 1784, it embraced only the territory lying between the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers, and north to the northern limits of the United States. It coincided with the area now embraced in the States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and that portion of Minnesota lying on the east side of the Mississippi River. The United States itself at that period extended no farther west than the Mississippi River; but by the purchase of Louisiana in 1803, the western boundary of the United States was extended to the Rocky Mountains and the Northern Pacific Ocean. The new territory thus added to the National domain, and subsequently opened to settlement, has been called the "New Northwest," in contradistinction from the old "Northwestern. Territory."