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George Cone


Posted By: Ken Wright (email)
Date: 3/21/2010 at 21:01:18

Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, March 1, 1919

Interview with George Cone, bailiff in the lower court room. He was a member of the Marion city council in 1876. He is a charter member of the Marion Methodist church.

The early history of this part of Iowa is well told by George Cone, who was born April 12, 1839, his parents having immigrated westward two years previous. They left Connecticut early in 1837, and settled in Ohio for a short time, coming to Iowa in 1838. They purchased four hundred acres of farm land from the government, at a cost of $1.25 an acre, the tract being in Bertram Township.

A log cabin was built at an edge of the big farm, and it was considered by the few neighbors of the time to be a palace in the wilderness. Notwithstanding all these complimentary remarks, the chinks between the logs were not filled in, Mr. Cone says. The modern conveniences of the place were complete with a real window cash, with six lights of eight by ten inch glass, however, which the father of the bailiff brought from Illinois.

In building the cabin at the edge of the farm, Mr. Cone continued, his father built it across the Township border, so that the third child in the family was born in Marion Township. To prevent any such further confusion in the real home of the family, the cabin was soon moved a few feet and brought entirely in Bertram Township. Mr. Cone was the first white male born in Linn County. A Dr. Tryan was the first physician in the county and a Dr. Bardwell was the second, he says.

During his early childhood, Mr. Cone remembers that it was not out of the ordinary to awake in the morning and find that one or two Indians had come in the house during the night, and were found sleeping in front of the fireplace at daylight. As a baby he was carried throughout the vicinity by Indians, his parents told him, he being regarded as a great curiosity.

“The Indians were good to the settlers,” Said Mr. Cone, “and we did not lock our doors when we were away from home. We never knew the Indians to steal. We often gave them a peck of potatoes and later were greeted by one coming to our cabin with a quarter of venison. I remember wild turkeys and deer coming in around our barn yard and entering the pen with the hogs. At many times when my mother was ill, an Indian squaw would come and be my nurse. We were never afraid of the Indians.”

When he was eight years of age, Mr. Cone shot and killed his first prairie chicken. “I was so excited,” he said, “that I threw my shot gun away in the snow. Picked up the chicken, and ran home with it to my mother.”

One day when his parents had gone to town and left the children alone in the home, Mr. Cone recollects that a pack of wolves surrounded the cabin, putting their paws to the sill of the windows and showing their teeth. Byron, the eldest son, who was fourteen at the time, took a shot gun down from above the fire place, ready to protect the children if the wolves succeeded in breaking the window with their paws. An uncle, who lived about a half mile away, heard the wolves, came down with a dog pack, drove the wolves away and stayed with the children until the parents returned.

When he was about nine years of age, word came that the Indians were killing people in Bertram Township and that the Cone family must move. Mr. Cone’s father did not believe the story, but decided that his family should go with the settlers who were leaving the vicinity. The women rode in wagons and the men walked along side. George trudged along beside the wagon in which his mother rode, the cortege going east of Marion near what is now known as the John Oxley farm. Here they formed a circle putting the wagons containing the women and children in the center. A stockade was formed and they awaited an attack.

The attack did not materialize and the family learned later that it had originated from a new man in the community seeing a group of Indians together and becoming frightened at them. The settler ran and the Indians after him-but they merely intended to tell him that they were not going to harm him. As they ran past the home of Dr. Tryan, the doctor’s mother became frightened and came out in front, armed with a scythe to protect herself from the band.

The family moved to Marion, and then to another farm, when Mr. Cone was 12 years of age and came to Marion again when he was 15. He has lived here continuously sixty-five years, since that time. In keeping with present activity concerning it, Mr. Cone recalled that the county court house was formerly in an old store corner, where the Bidwell house now stands.


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