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Joseph Slaughter Family


Posted By: Volunteer Transcriber
Date: 1/16/2012 at 13:38:05

Joseph Slaughter Family

By Larry Robson
Editor’s note: This information was gathered from many area cousins, Larry Robson’s uncle, Royal Blanford, courthouse records and diaries.

Joseph Slaughter was born in Hopewell Twp., Perry Co., Ohio on Oct 27, 1819. Belinda Myers was born in Newark, Ohio on Oct. 27, 1817, and they were married in 1837. They moved to Henry Co., Iowa in 1838, lived there for two years and then moved to Des Moines co., Iowa in 1840 and lived there until spring of 1843.

When the territory of Iowa, which included Jasper County, was opened for homesteading, they moved onto the home place in Mound Prairie Twp. on May 1, 1843. This is about 3 miles east of Colfax, along the Skunk River. They are believed to be the second settlers to take up residence in Jasper Co., the nearest neighbor being 14 miles away.

To meet the requirements of the land grant laws, Joseph immediately started to plow the land as well as to build a lean-to onto the covered wagon for their home. Joseph, 24, and Belinda, 26, my great-great grandparents arrived with $1.37, one pig, one foal, one team of oxen and three children, Hester, Mary Ellen, and John W. Later, born in Jasper County, were Solomon, Winfield Scott (my great grandfather), and his twin brother Zachary Taylor and Emma.

It is written in Belinda’s diary that there was much concern about the Indians who watched them every day but never came closer than the tree lines. It soon became apparent that the Indians were friendly and no problems ever came between them. She also spoke of the many animals and the occasional elk, buffalo and antelope. She said that meat was plentiful because there were so many deer. The winter of 1843-44 was very hard on the family so in the early spring of 1844, Joseph built a log cabin. Because oak trees were so plentiful this is what was used.

One of the early travelers who was put up at the Slaughter’s in 1844, was Thomas Mitchell, a close friend of Joseph’s from Ohio, on his way through to his land grant. His daughter, age 1, was very ill and died at the Slaughter place. This led to the establishment and first burial in the Slaughter family cemetery. The child is considered to be the first white child buried in this area.

Mitchell homesteaded the land which is now Thomas Mitchell Park and maintained an inn for the stagecoaches going west. In 1865 he gave the land the planned the town of Mitchellville. He was the first Polk County sheriff.

In 1846, the year Iowa became a state, Joseph opened the first coal mine in Jasper County. As the west was being opened, the stage coach which came out of the Dakotas came through the Slaughter farm. So, Joseph and his sons built the Slaughter Stage Coach relay station and saloon. Today, if you walk along the banks of the Skunk River north of the Slaughter Cemetery, you can still see the pilings for the stage bridge and the ruts in the ground from the wheels of the heavy stage coaches. Reed & Fansler’s mill was in the area, just west of the present iron bridge crossing of highway F-48. Foundations of the mill are still visible in the area.

Joseph was also paid by the U. S. government in the early days to bring the Indians from Tama down to their summer encampment on the Skunk River and return them to Tama in the autumn.

Joseph was employed by the United States Government to layout and survey two now ghost towns, Oswalt and Greencastle. The government had plans for Greencastle to be the central railroad center but this did not pan out. Joseph raised and sold some of the finest draft horses and cattle in the area. He lent money to build the bank in Colfax and was considered to be the wealthiest man west of the Mississippi. He was paid in land for the surveying and at one time owned 2,062 acres in Jasper County. The Slaughters also built a fine mansion about 100 to 200 feet east of the cemetery on the north side of the present highway F-48 which later burned.

Long before his death in 1902, Joseph decided he wanted something to remind him of his original home in Ohio. So he ordered a large three piece tombstone, of gray Ohio granite, for he and his wife. It was shipped by train in the1870’s and carried across the Mississippi River by barge. From there it was hauled to the Slaughter Cemetery by mule train.

Joseph’s son, Winfield, father of my grandmother, Carrie Blanford, took over the mine operation, and Winfield’s twin brother Zachary, took over the operation of the farm.

Mary Ellen, my great grandmother, and daughter of Joseph and Belinda, married George Washington Blanford on March 1, 1863, and they started farming in Mound Prairie Twp., not more than a mile from the home place. George and Mary Ellen had eight children, including my grandfather, Charles A. Blanford.

As there was no school in the area, Mary Ellen would take her children to Grinnell during the school year and take up residence so her children could attend school there. Because of the hardship of being separated, George and Mary Ellen gave a parcel of land and money to build a school. This school was called the Blanford School, and still stands, just east of Colfax on old highway 6, but is now used for storing hay. The Blanfords built a fine home, still standing, near the school. Mary Ellen and her husband George are buried in the Colfax Cemetery.

My grandfather Charles Austin Blanford married Carrie Eldora Slaughter and started to farm on the north part of the Slaughter property. Shortly after, coal was found on this land and this was the beginning of the Blanford mines. To this marriage were born four children, Gretchen Blanford Cole, Glenn, my mother, Mary Ellen Blanford Robson and Royal. After years of operation the Slaughter coal mines and about 20 acres of land were sold to the Bolin family and became known as the Bolin mines.
~ The Newton (IA) Daily News, 28, Oct 1996.

An incorrect identification was given to the Daily News for the picture in the Sesquicentennial story Friday. The correct names are George Washington and Mary Ellen Blanford, son-in-law and daughter of Joseph and Belinda Slaughter.


Jasper Biographies maintained by Barbara Hug.
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