The Old Settlers Association

The association of the Old Settlers of Garden Grove and vicinity was organized in 1886 and included all who had been residents of Iowa for thirty years or more. The first reunion was very successful, it being estimated at the time that there were nearly 4,000 persons present and about 250 of them settled here early enough to come within the thirty year limit. Every year since then the meeting has been held, and there has never failed to be a large crowd present and a pleasant time. Of the 254 whose names were given as present at the first reunion, more than forty were dead at the time of the writing of the County history. Enos Davis, a member of the first party of permanent settlers was made president at the first meeting and has held that position ever since, until his death.

Contributed by Jack Scott
Garden Grove Express
July 6, 1893
Garden Grove, Iowa

The following are the committees appointed by the Old Settlers executive committee at its meeting June 27, 1893. The first named is the chairman of the respective committees:










The reception committee will please report to President Enos DAVIS upon their arrival on the grounds.


Copied by Stacey McDowell Dietiker
February 21, 2004


Garden Grove Entertains the Pioneers.
One of the Largest Crowds Ever Assembled in Decatur County.
Last Thursday morning was clear and pleasant and the air was very comfortably cool for the time of the year. It was in every way favorable for the Reunion.

Very early in the morning the teams began coming in from all directions and it was not long before the streets were thronged with people, and when the special train from the south arrived, it brought a very large crows, every car being filled. Various estimates of the number of people on the streets and at the grounds were made - none of them, perhaps, being very reliable, but it is safe to say that it was one of the largest gatherings ever witnessed in southern Iowa.

No attempt had been made at elaborate decoration but the streets had been neatly cleaned up and a temporary shade along the business streets had been provided by setting numerous small trees along the sidewalk.

The crowd was called to the grounds about ten o'clock by music by the Garden Grove Band, assisted by the Humeston and Lewisburg bands. Our band has only been organized a couple of months, but the boys have been practicing faithfully and they furnished some very nice music. The other two were older bands than ours and, of course, rendered some very fine music.

A large number of seats had been provided under the pavilion, but not nearly enough to accommodate the large crowd present.

The meeting was called to order and invocation offered by Elder L. M. KOB, of Center Tp., after which S. H. AMOS, the mayor of the town, delivered the Address of Welcome. Mr. AMOS has performed this duty before and on this as on former occasions he did it in such a manner as to make the visitors feel that they were indeed among friends.

Major YOUNG was to have responded, but he being detained by sickness, Dr. GLENDENNING spoke for the visitors.

Rev. Geo. H. BENNETT then delivered the address of the day. We give it in full:

Address of Rev. Geo. H. BENNETT:

"Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:

"The heads that are gray, the eyes that are dim, and the forms bowed with age are foremost in our hearts today. For all about them cluster memories of other days and years that are dear to each of us. Their days go back to the heroic age in the history of the common-wealth. The pioneers are literal heroes.

"They have encountered and overcome forces and obstacles more powerful and persistent than contending armies. The struggle was long, the labors arduous, and the privations hard to bear; but as the sun descends upon their declining years, they may look out upon the broad land, and behold its splendid farms, its peaceful villages, and thriving cities, the fruits of their industry.

"The pioneer period was characterized by hardship and self-sacrifice, by sturdy manhood and resolute womanhood.

"From those days have come down to u the noblest character of our history. The highest type of moral and intellectual power was developed under those trying conditions. Our greatest philanthropists, statesmen, and financiers have been self-made men. They belong to that host of heroes whose sterling qualities were developed in the furnace of pioneer affliction. The pioneer period in every state and nation produces those self-made men and women who are the real bulwark of the country's greatness, and who by their honesty, frugality, and wisdom tend to hold in check the improvidence and frivolity of the succeeding generation which reaps the benefits of their fathers' toil and economy.

"We sit in our easy chairs in comfortable homes with their carpeted floors, picture hung walls, with their pianos, and libraries, and many luxuries, and we scarcely appreciate the toil and anxieties in the cabins of fifty years ago. I have hard my father relate that one winter in the 'forties in a country that was sparsely settled and in a time when it was wet weather they often had to go a half mile to a neighbors to borrow a fire to get breakfast, it happened that food was very scarce.

"They were visited by a terrific storm which lasted several days. The wind howled through the forest, the snow sifted in everywhere, and the house was almost buried. They had nothing to eat but a little corn meal. They had a few potatoes, but they were buried and could not be disturbed. At last from sheer necessity he took his rifle and went out into the driving storm and drifting snows and brought in a deer. Their larder was thus replenished and their table fit for a king.

"We know but little of the privations of the early days. We get into our elegant carriages, and with our fine horses drive a mile or two over smooth roads to church - there we find a nicely carpeted floor, stained windows and cushioned pews. My mother, in her girlhood days, used to attend religious services in a log school house, or private dwelling. There they sat on low, rough, benches in a little tucked up building shingled with shakes. One of her oldest brothers used to yoke the big brindle steers to the home-made sled and take the whole family of eleven children to church - and sometimes those steers would run away! People would attend church for miles around.

"In those days of hospitality no one went home hungry; and often, at her home have many from a distance spent the night, sleeping on the floor.

"We know but little in these days of hardships imposed by an unstable currency. When my father was in his teens, he hired out at $10 per month. His work was clearing land of beech and maple timber - no mere child's play either, by the way. He worked twenty-six mortal days and then received his $10. He then walked twenty miles to the nearest town to buy some clothing, only to find the bank had suspended and his wild-cat money worthless. He trudged home again with some misgivings!

"To-day we are proud of our schools and universities and of our splendid educational system. The facilities for gaining an education are so complete that illiteracy is practically extinct in Iowa. But in pioneer times schools were far apart and the time and strength of the robust youth were demanded on the farm in the conquest of nature. Up to his nineteenth year my father attended school but nine weeks. A few years ago, while acting as deputy clerk in the county clerk's office, I found some old time-stained documents certifying that John H. BENNETT (then about sixteen years old) had brought in the scalps of several wolves and received a bounty for them. I looked for his signature. He had made his mark. I related the incident in his presence at dinner one day before a house full of company. You may imagine his confusion! But it was all excusable for afterward, by dint of economy and hard study, by candle and fire-light, after the labors of the day, he entered college, graduating from the Syracuse University and Berkshire Medical College in medicine and surgery. He followed his profession nearly thirty years. He also studied civil engineering and became a division engineer on the Delaware & Lackawana R'y. By private study he became assistant state geologist. He also served several terms in the legislative halls of his state. I do not relate this because it is my father, but because these achievements illustrate what energy and strength of purpose can accomplish. The youth of 50 years ago overcame just such obstacles and are an object lesson to all succeeding generations. In this age of school houses and cheap text-books, there is no excuse for illiteracy. If the youth of our day do grow up in ignorance, it is because, amid the showers of knowledge, they prefer to remain in blissful ignorance.

"But days and months and years have rolled away and marvelous changes have taken place. The once unbroken wilderness of the north is vanishing before the onward march of progress, and the rolling prairies of the west are in subjection. And now, where nature ruled in all her wild simplicity, nestle quiet homes and villages, and the soil, obedient to the husbandman, brings forth abundant crops of ruddy fruit and golden grain.

"Arouse the fathers from their mossgrown graves; bid them come forth and behold the conquests of the hour! Time has conquered by the hand of man! Not long ago, I was whirled in a single night from Cleveland to central Michigan in an elegant vestibuled train, over the same route my grandfather traveled in 1834 with an ox team, jolting six long weeks over the stumps and stones to his journey's end.

"Behold the conquests of the hour! Distance is annihilated! The message that was carried step by step over mountain and plain, now flashes over land and across the sea on electric wiring.

"Behold the conquests of the hour! In medical science there have been leaps of progress. The investigations of Dr. Pastuer into the silkworm malady which threatened the extinction of the silk industries of France at one time, and his discoveries, which Prof. HUXLEY declares were worth a thousand million of dollars to France, led to the discovery of minute germs as inciting causes of many of the dreaded diseases that scourge humanity, and pointed to new and potent remedies for combating human ailments. Astounding results have been reached in astronomy. The moon, 240,000 miles away has been brought into a field of vision but 200 miles away so that if a building as large as our national capitol exists there it could be distinguished. Powerful telescopes have revealed to recent observers bright specks on the shaded side of Mars, thought by some speculative minds to be the light of the great cities on the far-off planet. The astronomer has cast his sounding line into the heavens and measured their awful depths. He tells the distance of the stars. Light flashes from sun to earth - 91,000,000 miles - in about eight minutes; from sun to Neptune, our farthest outlying planet, in four hours, but from sun to nearest fixed star light must onward speed for ten long years. He has spanned the visible universe and declares its breadth 7,000,000 years as light flies. Incomprehensible facts, but trophies of science!

"But in the realms of liberal arts and manufactures, behold what conquests! The spinning wheel, the sickle, the flint and steel, the tallow dip, the flail, the stage coach and the sailing vessels have given place to intricate machines, the electric light, the fast mail, and the great steamship. The man of fifty years today is older in experience than the most venerable of the patriarchs. This is the grandest day in the grandest decade in the grandest century of all time. We live at the focal point of 6,000 years of labor, study, experience and faith. Like rays from a sun glass, the knowledge of the centuries converge upon us. It is crystallized in the literature of the age. This is the age of printing press and books. The child of today may walk in the counsel and experience of the best thinkers of the centuries. If you cannot go to college, you may have a college in your own humble home. In your library you may have the profoundest thought and may sit at the feet of the ablest instructors of the human race.

"Young men! Does time hang heavily on your hands? Do not fritter away opportunities, but delve into the printed page and enrich the mind and heart with new thought and higher aspiration. Enlarge your mental vision and be better able to think and talk and act intelligently, and to come into closer sympathy with your fellow creatures. But the great conquests in practical life and industry which have blessed society have brought us many knotty problems for solution. We have been passing through times of depression. What are the causes? They are many. The most prominent cause of our social distress is that one is content with lawful interest on their investment. Everybody wants to get rich too fast. When the profits on capital, whether in the form of money, land, machinery, skill or learning are restricted to the bounds of legal interest distress will be relieved. The uncertainty as to pending tariff legislation has doubtless withheld capital from activity and left many without employment. The entrance within our borders of unemployed from abroad every year adds to the difficulties of the times. The use of time and labor saving machinery in every department of industry is responsible, in a measure for our social troubles. But shall we destroy these devices and return to primitive methods? By no means, but solve the other phases of the problem and the labor saving machine will prove a stupendous blessing. Another source of evil is that the young men are leaving the farms and drifting aimlessly into the cities. Young men might better buy eighty acres of land and go in debt for it, marry and establish a home. It is a notorious fact by so doing stricter economy will be practiced and property be more rapidly accumulated. Let the vast army of unemployed become tillers of the soil and raisers of stock. It would reduce ruinous competition in the trades, cause capital to change hands, put money into circulation, and not materially increase the aggregate of farm products. But there is another cause that is worthy of notice. It is the crowding of woman from the home sphere. Our country is full of young women of vim and ability who enter various employments. Our country is also, full of young men who lead aimless lives and do not establish homes. Hence they allow woman to enter the stores, offices, factories, schools, and the professions and crowd them out. Young Men!

"The time has come when you must brush the cobwebs from your brains, and measure up to higher moral and intellectual standards; for the time is coming when you will be compelled to marry in self-defense! But how shall these problems be solved. Cases must be dealt with separately. Some may be overcome by wise legislation others only by individual honesty and good sense. But what of the future? Today we are not absorbed with the future as, with the brilliant past and dazzling present. I do not fear the future.

"American strength and wisdom have overcome obstacles and solved problems and in spite of them all we have forged to the forefront among nations. Uncle Sam is built for achievements; his make up is the profile of victory! This is a day of pleasant memories. The pleasantest memories of my early childhood are visits to the little log house in the orchard where my mother was born.

"It was a typical pioneer home. There was the one room. Across one end of it was stretched a curtain hiding the tall old fashioned cord bedsteads; under them were shoved the trundle bed when not in use. In the other end of the room was the old fire-place with its heavy andirons. In one corner stood the spinning-wheel. Over the door hung the long rifle. On the wall hung the old clock with wooden wheels its heavy weights, and slowly ticking pendulum. I can see the group now sitting about the old fire-place on cold winter nights with no light but the light of the blazing logs; and cracking nuts and popping corn while listening to stories of hunting deer and turkeys and trapping bear and wolves. Many of you have had a place in just such groups. They were happy times. But years have come and gone. Scenes have changes. The old cabins have fallen into ruin or been replaced with more imposing structures. The faces other years long since have vanished.
"All are scattered now and fled,
Some are married, son are dead,
And when I ask with throbs of pain,
Ah! When shall we all meet again
As in the days long since gone by
The ancient time-piece ticks reply
For ever, Nev-er, Nev-er, For-ever,
Never here, forever there
Where all parting pain and care
And death and time shall disappear,
Forever there - but never here!"
After the conclusion of his address come the dinner hour. The after-dinner part of the exercises were cut short by the rain, but a number of short addresses were listened to with great interest by the crowd. We have not pace for even a synopsis of them. At the business meeting all the old officers were re elected with the exception of a few changes in the list of vice-presidents. The following resolution was offered by Rev. BEER:

Resolved - That in addition to the present officers of the association there be appointed annually.

1st - A meteorologist who shall keep a daily record of the weather at Garden Grove after the regulations of the State Weather Bureau and deposit the same with the archives of the association and shall also make a brief report on old settlers day of noteworthy meteorological facts during the year:

2nd - An annalist who shall on old settlers day present a brief report of noteworthy historical events for the year; the same to b e deposited among the archives of the association.

The resolution was adopted and the President Enos DAVIS appointed as meteorologist A. B. STEARNS and as annalist Emily FLANNAGAN.


The candidates were all on the ground.
The music furnished by the choir was excellent and very appropriate for the occasion.
The dinner given by the Methodist ladies on the grounds was well patronized and they realized the handsome sun of $76.
Five ladies rode over from Leon on their bicycles.
With the exception of about a half hour, when the tank wagon broke down, there was water in abundance, both for teams and for drinking.
The best of order prevailed throughout the day and there were only two cases of drunkenness in the crowd and they were promptly locked up.
The crowd seemed to have plenty of money and spent it quite freely. The numerous eating stands, swings, dances, etc. seemed to be all prosperous and our business men reported a good trade.

We noticed the following newspaper men on the grounds: Mr. STAFFORD, of the Davis City Advance, S. T. ROBERTSON, formerly of the same paper, O. E. HULL, of the Reporter, Fred JAMES of the Leon Journal, Mr. LECOMPT, of the Corydon Times Republican and Messers WASSON and AUSTIN of the Lineville Tribune.

Garden Grove Express, August 30, 1894, Garden Grove, Iowa. Copied by Stacey McDowell Dietiker, January 19, 2004
The following list of the old settlers who have died within the year (1894), was read by G. P. ARNOLD.
Lenhart WALTON, aged 78,
settled here in 1853
Rachel LEWIS, 59, '54 Isaac DENNIS 77, '61
L. P. CHASTAIN, 83, '55 Mrs. Ira B. RYAN, 84; 55 James NOTTS, 64, '60
Harriet SIMS, 58, '56 Mrs. Daniel CHAMBERS 78, '58 A. W. COX, 65, '50
Martha M. BARNTHOUSE, 62, '69 William BURNS, 71, '56 Mrs. J. CHERRYHOLMES, 74, '54
Nancy BRANSCOME, 58, '64 Abel EDWARDS, 67, '52 I. BROWN, 83, '57
C. A. ROBBINS 88, '54 James DUNAVY, 85, '51 A. C. JOSEPH - , '54
J. R. MCCLELLAND, 70, '53 Hannah H. HEALINGER, 51, '43 William BRONNING, 61, '54
L. TRISLER, 72, '61 Miss Charlotte SHAW 77, '56 Mrs. Catherine BROWNING, 91,'54
James DUNLAVY, 79, '56 Mary E. CHERRY, 56, '59 Christine WISEMAN, 82, 51
Joe RINGLE 73, '65 Sarah EALS, 6?, '59 Mrs. I. Nelson ----
Elizabeth CHASE, 80, '55 Mrs. S. L. CURRY, 60, '55 Jane POND, 69, '55
Nathaniel KEY, 80, '59 Eliza DRISCOLL, 68, '54 Monroe MILLER, 74, '55
Martha NORMAN, 58, '55 Dr. C. P. MULLINIX, 69, '56 Sophronia PATTERSON, 83, '57
Elizabeth LOVING, 84, '54 Levi WILLIAMS ---- Adam BEAKLAR, ----
Garden Grove Express, August 30, 1894, Garden Grove, Iowa. Copied by Stacey McDowell Dietiker, January 19, 2004
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