The History of Iowa County, Iowa
After months of persevering effort we have at last completed the History of Iowa County. The result proves that the work was a laborious and difficult one. The difficulties and unusually hard work we have had to encounter have arisen from the lack of reliable data, and the suspicion with which some of the people of the county viewed the enterprise in its first stages. The lack of data was in a measure overcome by a systematic canvass of the whole county, whereby we were enabled to gather up, glean and compile into comprehensible and permanent shape what, until now, has floated about in the changing mists of tradition. The reader will readily realize how laborious has been the task, and how important that it has been done at this comparatively early date. The first settlers, who acted so important a part in the history of the county, and who heretofore have been the sole custodians of much of the material essential to this work, are rapidly disappearing; and those who remain become less reliable as year by year the memory of early times grows indistinct. The multitude of agents and canvassers who, during the past few years, have swarmed through the country working up enterprises, some of which have been of a questionable character, having created a prejudice in the minds of the people against a work of this kind, not unfrequently has it been the case that persons who were the best qualified to aid us have been inaccessible. This prejudice has risen like an almost insurmountable obstacle, which has been overcome only by the greatest difficulty.
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The three great colonizing powers of the Old World first to raise the standard of civilization within the limits of North America were France, England, and Spain. The French made their earliest settlements in the cola and inhospitable regions of Quebec; the English at Jamestown, Virginia, and at Plymouth, Massachusetts; and the Spaniards on the barren sands of Florida. To the French belongs the honor of discovering and colonizing that portion of our country known as the Valley of the Mississippi, including all that magnificent region watered by the tributaries of the Great River. It is true that more than one hundred years earlier (1588-41) the Spanish explorer, De Soto, had landed on the coast of Florida, penetrated the everglades and unbroken forests of the south, finally reaching the banks of the Great River, probably near where the city of Memphis now stands. Crossing the river, he and his companions pursued their journey for some distance along the west bank, thence to the Ozark Mountains and the Hot Springs of Arkansas, and returning to the place of his death on the banks of the Mississippi. It was a perilous expedition indeed, characterized by all the splendor, romance and valor which usually attended Spanish adventurers of that age. De Soto and his companions were the first Europeans to behold the waters of the Mississippi, but the expedition was a failure so far as related to colonization. The requiem chanted by his companions as his remains were committed to the waters of the great river he had discovered, died away with the solemn murmurs of the stream, and the white man's voice was not heard again in the valley for more than a hundred years. De Soto had landed at Tampa Bay, on the coast of Florida, with a fleet of nine vessels and seven hundred men. More than half of them died, and the remainder made their way to Cuba, and finally back to Spain.