CLARENCE RAY AURNER
Printed by the Clio Press Iowa City, Iowa 1918
Copyright 1918 by Clarence Ray Aurner
Transcribed by Sharon Elijah, June 21, 2013
OPENING THE WAY pgs 154-161
There must always be leaders in finding out a new land. We read of Columbus; and of many other men of different nations who came across the ocean to find out more about different parts of the new world. But it was long afterward, that the Frenchmen, Marquette and Joliet, in 1673, came across the great lakes and then up and down the rivers of Wisconsin until they reached the Mississippi along the eastern side of Iowa. They had carried their canoes from one stream to another until they came to the one which bore them directly into the great stream of which they had so often been told.
These men were the first whites known to have set foot on the soil of Iowa. The spot where they landed from their boats as they floated along the eastern border is believed by some to be near the mouth of the Iowa River. Not far from that place and somewhere along the Iowa River in the present county of Louisa, they met the Indians at their village. To be sure, it was thought for a long time that the meeting took place on the Des Moines River; but all do not agree about such long-past events. It was these brave Frenchmen who helped France to claim all this western country which the United States bought about one hundred and thirty years afterward.
But they only touched the border of that land which was later to become the State of Iowa. After it was the property of the United States, other men were sent to find out more abut it. One company, sent in 1804 to go across the whole country as far as the Pacific Ocean, traveled up the Missouri River along the western border of Iowa. Their long journey of more than two years in going and returning has been forever remembered in Iowa by a monument near Sioux City. It marks the grave of a soldier, Sergeant Floyd, who belonged to the Lewis and Clarke exploring company in 1804.
Although he was buried there by his comrades in that long-ago time, the grave was not marked until 1900, almost a hundred years afterward. The histories of the United States call this journey of the company in 1804 the Lewis and Clarke expedition. It was not sent out just to examine the part of the Louisiana Purchase since made into the State of Iowa; it only happened that the one soldier to die on the long journey across the country to the Pacific Ocean was laid to rest on Iowa soil.
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The next year, in 1805, another company of soldiers passed along the eastern side of the present Iowa; places to build forts were selected, for it was believed that soldiers should be kept in this part of the west.
General Pike, the commander of this company, was ordered to find the best places for this purpose. From that time soldiers were either kept on this side of the Mississippi or they were near at hand.
For many years it was the duty of the soldiers to keep order among the Indians and to build other forts in the new country as they were needed. As the settlers came in, the soldiers were moved farther west to protect the open country, and to see that neither the white men nor the Indians did anything which the law forbade. The march of General Pike has been remembered by a monument erected in a part at Burlington. It is placed on the very spot where he is supposed to have stopped in 1805.
While the Iowa country was attached to the Territory of Michigan, some soldiers were ordered, about 1835, to travel over the interior of the Iowa part. It has been said that they traveled more than one thousand miles during the summer as they went in different directions through the territory; and at the end of the journey one of those officers, Lieutenant Albert M. Lea, whose name is remembered in a town of Minnesota, wrote a story of what he had seen. That was the first description of the land in this State. His little book is to be found in only a few places, and it would cost considerable money to buy it if it were offered for sale.
As the settlements grew westward and northward in Iowa, it was found that they needed protection from the Indians, especially from the Sioux tribe. Forts were built in different places and the name of Fort Dodge, one will readily see, grew out of one of these. North of that place, at Spirit Lake, a dreadful massacre of settlers took place in 1857. Men hurried from Fort Dodge and from Webster City to help protect those that remained. It was a hard journey in the cold of winter and the men who had volunteered suffered many hardships while some lost their lives from exposure to the storms.
About Spirit Lake whole families were killed and women were carried away as captives. Many settlers gave up their homes until the Indians could be driven out of the country, and the Sioux were feared for a long time afterward.
Soon the entire land was known to white men who roamed over it in search of the best farms. The days of the Indian and the soldier were soon forgotten in the hurry to make a home; only when there were stories of the return of the redmen did the whites think of the time when the soldiers stood guard over them. The need grew less and less as time passed. The farmer found his own place; he was satisfied to build his cabin and to protect his own family from the small dangers on the frontier. He soon forgot the services of the soldiers and the work of those who had so long before opened the way.
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