Mr. David Hess, in giving an account of the settlement here of his family, relates his experience with the "claim agents." Frederick Hess and family, three sons and a daughter, afterward Mrs. John Sloan, came through here on their way from Camanche to Sabula, where they had friends and in the vicinity of whom they expected to locate. They stopped in Lyons where they found old neighbors in the East. Here they procured a guide to pilot them over the unbroken prairie to Sabula. This guide piloted them until he no longer knew the land-marks, and, securing another person to guide them the remainder of the way, returned. Upon their arrival at Sabula, they found that all the land about there had been "claimed," and the "claim speculators" had placed so high a price upon their "quit-claim" interests that it would be cheaper to buy of the Government in Illinois. They therefore decided to cross the river where the Government lands were in market and purchase lands. Being afraid to venture their teams in the small and leaky boat to cross to cross the long ferry at that point, they retraced their way to Lyons to cross there where a larger scow was in use. They were solicited to locate here, but found that the "claim-makers" had ploughed their furrows and set their corner-stakes around all the land near the river, leaving their agents in "sell out," while they had sought new fields for similar enterprise, and they maintained their determination to cross the river. However, their old neighbors said to the settlers, "these are good settlers and we must keep them." The whole settlement was convened. As Mr. Hess said, "this did not take long, for only seven or eight houses were here." The matter was discussed, and, at the conclusion of the conference, at which of course the emigrants were not present, they were called upon and informed that they were at liberty to settle upon any lands not occupied by an actual settler, and that the settlers would protect them against all claimants. With this "warrantee deed" they selected their claims and became Iowans.

In order to protect themselves in the absence of any other law, there was an organization formed of all the settlers, and "Squatter-Club laws" were established and by-laws adopted. Every man on the river was entitled to take a claim one mile deep and half a mile front on the river. Lines were to run east and west without regard to future Governments lines. To constitute a claim a man must put a cabin and erect mounds at the corner of his claim. All claims purchased of others, if originally made in accordance with the rules, were protected the same as if held by the original squatter.

The President of the club was the Chief Justice, who heard testimony and decided all disputes about claims, and his decision was final, and if not peaceably compiled with, was enforced by the combined power of the association.

At the land sales at Dubuque, in July, 1840, this court was in session nine day and nights without cessation, in settling claim disputes. At this sale, Elijah Buell purchased 600 acres of land upon which a portion of Lyons now stands, and upon which he has ever since resided.

In a claim fight at Cordova, a man named McKinney shot and killed 

old Dr. Phillio in a dispute over a claim. His son, William McKinney, in the spring of 1838, jumped the claim of Charles Bovard St., half a mile below Camanche, built a house and moved in. The settlers rendezvoused at Camanche to the number of seventy or more, and at once visited his house. Calling him out they asked him if he would surrender the "claim." He refused. They then directed him to vacate at once with his family. This he did. His visitors then removed his household goods, tore down his log house and burned the material. He was then directed to load his effects into a skiff and leave the county. The family of Keatley, his wife's family, who had taken part in this claim-jumping affair, was also requested to seek other claims, which they did without any delay, and neither family, of any of them, were ever seen here afterward.

In the winter of 1836-37, James D. Bourne was appointed first Postmaster in the county. The office was called "Monroe" at first, but was soon changed to "Wapsipinicon." It was located on Section 6, Township 80 north, Range 5 east. The residence of Mr. Bourne then being in the southwest part of the present township of Eden, Elijah Buell circulated a petition through the county, for a mail-route from Lyons through the county by the way of Harrison's Grove, near what is now De Witt, and to the "Wapsipinicon" post office, which was established, and a "horseback" mail was carried weekly over the route.

During 1837 and 1838, quite a number of settlers had scattered along the banks of the Mississippi and of the "Wapsie" Rivers, and had also 

penetrated the interior to a limited extent. To the observer of the present day, it may appear singular that the settlers avoided the rich prairie lands and sought for the vicinity of timber and settled near the groves; but an early settler very satisfactorily explains this by his sententipious reply to a query upon this point, "To keep from freezing." In further explanation, he said that the winters were then more severe, the climate having become greatly modified since its settlement; that the sudden and blinding storms then prevalent made it dangerous for journeys to any great distance from home, while there were no roads, fences, or other guides to the traveler. More than this, convenience in the erection of dwellings caused them to seek the groves. Lumber was worth at that time $100 per thousand feet, and all that was brought came down the Ohio and up the Mississippi, and the first settler's houses were nearly all built of logs, though in some instances of stone.

Settlements were made in 1837, at Folck's Grove, in what is now Township, the principal family being that of Abraham Folcks; and at Round Grove near the present site of DeWitt, by O. G. Harrison, George W. Ames and others. At Evan's Grove. on 1839. Lyman Evans and his sons, Norman and Charles settled, as did also John F. Horner and his brother, David H. Brown, George and John Eldred and others.

SOURCE: Allen, L. P., History of Clinton County, Iowa, Containing A History of the County, it's Cities, Towns, Etc. and Biographical Sketches of Citizens, War Record of it's Volunteers in the late Rebellion, General and Local Statistics, Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men, History of the Northwest, History of Iowa, Map of Clinton County, Constitution of the United States, Miscellaneous Matters, &c, &c., Illustrated. Chicago IL; Western Historical Company, 1879




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