KEOTA CENTENNIAL HISTORY
                             1873 - 1973

A glimpse into the past...

THE SETTLING OF KEOKUK COUNTY

In naming localities and streams of water, discoverers and first settlers of America originated a plan of adopting Indian names. This plan was adhered to when the new county (Keokuk) was named. The Indians who dwelt in this particular locality were the Sac and Fox tribe. Their chief was Chief Keokuk, whose voice was for peace with the white man. As an honor to this chief our county bears his name.

Until the year 1837 the Indians held undisputed possession of the territory in Keokuk County. It was not till October 1837 that the red man first parted with his title to certain lands now comprised of Keokuk County, and the white man first obtained the right to gain a permanent foothold. By far the larger part of the county, however, remained in the hands of the Indians. It was not till October 1842 that the original possessors of this soil parted with their right to occupy it, and turned their unwilling steps to the far off and unknown regions west of the Missouri River. May 1, 1843, the whole of Keokuk County was thrown open to white settlement.

Chief Keokuk lived but three years after leaving the Territory of Iowa. It is a concluded fact by all the early settlers who knew him that Keokuk possessed, in a prominent degree, the elements of greatness.

During the summer of 1844 S. A. James, who had recently been appointed county clerk, came into the neighborhood looking for the county seat, which had just been located. He found a stout pole planted in the ground by the commissioners. The stake was in the center of what was to be the public square, which stood about 100 yards to the northwest of where Mr. James built his cabin, which later became the town of Sigourney.

The cabin which Mr. James built in 1844 was a remarkable edifice. It was 12 x 16 feet. Here the county offices and the public records were kept. The judges' room and the jury room, the county's cash hoarded and its criminals jailed. Here also the county officials ate, lodged and slept.

One of the three commissioners appointed to select the county seat of Keokuk County was Dr. George H. Stone of Washington County. Dr. Stone had always been a great admirer of the writings of the poetess, Mrs. Lydia Huntley Sigourney. It was this lady in whose honor the capital of Keokuk County received its name. Mrs. Sigourney was born in Norwich, Conn., September 1, 1791. Mrs. Sigourney showed her appreciation of the compliment of having the capital of Keokuk County named in her honor by providing for the planting of the trees which for years and years adorned the courthouse yard.

In April 1844 it was "Ordered by the board of commissioners that the eagle side of a 10 cent piece, American coin, be adopted as the temporary seal of the board of said county until an official seal shall be provided by said board."

The surveying of township lines was completed July 31, 1843. The government could sell no land until the surveying of township lines and subdivision into sections had been completed. This was completed March 1, 1845. The boundaries for Lafayette Township were as follows: No. 76, range 10.

In these early days there were as yet no bridges and it became necessary for the convenience of the settlers that ferries be maintained at certain points along rivers. The board ordered that a skiff or canoe be kept at a point, to ferry across the North Fork of Skunk River. Ferriage rates charged were 6 1/4¢ for each footman, 12 1/2¢ for horse and man, 25¢ for a single rig, 37 1/2¢ for a double rig with 12 1/2¢ for each horse and 5 1/4¢ for cattle, sheep and hogs, drivers included.

A post office was established in Sigourney and the first mail received Feb. 7, 1845. The mail was carried on horseback from Washington to Oskaloosa via Sigourney, once every two weeks. Mr. James was the first postmaster. This was the only post office in the whole section of the country, and mail day was a very important occasion. There were no postage stamps used, the amount of postage being marked on the letter which amount could be paid either by the person sending the letter or the one receiving it. Postage on an ordinary letter was, 5, 10, 12 1/2, 25 and 37 1/2¢ according to the distance sent. Letters would sometimes be months in reaching their destination and then when they did arrive the person to whom they were directed would have great difficulty sometimes to raise enough money to pay the back postage.

COURT HOUSES OF KEOKUK COUNTY

The cabin erected by Mr. James in 1844 on the South side of the square in Sigourney was properly the first courthouse, however, it had been built by Mr. James at his own expense. At the first meeting of the board of commissioners held in Sigourney, July 24, 1844, the first official action was taken with reference to the building of a courthouse. It was ordered at this time by the board that a courthouse be built upon the lot next west of the S.E. corner lot in the block immediately north of the public square. (This would be the location today of the Sigourney News-Review or Buy-Rite Shoppe). This old oak log courthouse was built for the sum of $218 and was accepted by the board in Jan. 1845. It was used for every possible purpose; school was taught here, the gospel preached and justice dispensed. The doors of the old court house were always open, and there the weary traveler often found a resting place.

The controversy as to where the county-seat should be began with the organization of the county in 1844 and continued till 1857, a period of 13 years. The south eastern part of the county being the first to be settled, it was argued that the seat of justice should be located with reference to the center of population, rather than a geographical center. In 1846 the commissioners were appointed to relocate the county seat of Keokuk County. They designated a place and called it Lancaster. This location had previously been known as Lafayette.

On moving the county seat to Lancaster, it became necessary to erect another courthouse. This, the second courthouse, was completed in Jan. 1848 at a cost of $609. It stood at the S. E. corner of the public square in

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A glimpse into the past...

Lancaster. The building was two stories high and was 20 x 30 ft. There was also a jail erected at that place.

After considerable litigation and controversy the county seat was returned to Sigourney from Lancaster. The next courthouse was built in the center of the public square at Sigourney, at a cost of $16,000, and was dedicated the night of July 4, 1859. At this time there were only 12 business houses in Sigourney. All but two were small frame buildings.

When the Keokuk County courthouse built in 1859 was torn down in 1909, the present day courthouse was erected. The corner stone was laid June 8, 1909, and the building was dedicated Sept. 12, 1910.

1909 Courthouse
Present day courthouse..Built in 1909.
Lancaster Court House
Lancaster Court House. When this picture was taken it was being used as a home by the Corbin Utterback family.

The first sheriff of Keokuk County was George W. Hayes. He was a very eccentric individual, and some of his peculiarities, as exhibited during the days of his official dignity, are cleverly delineated by one who then knew him:

"In weather hot or cold, wet or dry, he always wore the insignia of his office in the shape of an old blue blanket overcoat.

"To see him the first time was to know him at any other time or place. We had occasion one day to place in his hands a subpoena in which several persons were defendants. To avoid the repetition of all their names, we added, as is usual after the first name, the abbreviation, et al, meaning, also others.

"In the course of a week, Hayes returned the writ, declaring that neither he, nor any other of the witnesses he had notified, were acquainted with or knew anything of this man et al."

.1879 Courthouse
Next court house built in the center of the square at Sigourney. Dedicated July 4, 1859.

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The Keota Lions Club

MEMBER OF LIONS INTERNATIONAL

Is Proud To Be A Part Of Keota
and Its l00th Anniversary


DEDICATED TO
Community Service

 

lOWA LIONS SIGHT CONSERVATION FOUNDATION

 

1973 OFFICERS

Ron Shafer - President George Chase - 1st Vice-Pres. Bob Schreurs - 3rd Vice-Pres.
Joe Harding - Tail Twister Raymond Herr - 2nd Vice-Pres. Keith Kent - Lion Tamer
  Bill Henderson - Secretary-Treasurer  

1973 DIRECTORS

Doyle Palmer   Keith Herr
Dale Singleton               1 year
  Mel Leiting               2 years
Bob Adams   Norbert Flander
  Bill Werning - Retiring President  

1973 MEMBERS

  Tom Mills  
Don Bermel Deane Morris Wesley H. Jones
Dorvin Bohr O. D. Palmer C. D. Kirkpatrick
Don Callen Lewis Powell Jr. John E. Klein
Richard Carmichael Roger Richardson Donald Laing
Clifford Conklin Walter A. Smith Elvin Luers
Maurice Conrad Bruce Stoutner Richard Lyle
Clayton Funston Marion Stoutner Bob McDowell
Paul Hammes Forrest Tucker Keith Wells
  Wayne Zehr  

 

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A glimpse into the past...

The following story of Pioneer life in Lafayette Township before and after the town of Keota was founded refers to ancestors of families who are residents of this community. Hosea N. Newton mentioned in the story was the great grandfather of Mrs. Genevieve Newton White and great-great grandfather of Chas. N. (Chuck) White. This original Newton farm remained in the Newton family until 1969 when it was sold; however, Mrs. White still occupies the home. Another great-grand-daughter of Hosea N. Newton compiled the following story of events from the diaries kept by Hanno P. Newton. The original diaries have recently been donated by the family to the Wilson Memorial library, Keota, Iowa.

PIONEER EXPERIENCES IN KEOKUK COUNTY
1858-1874

"On the N.Y. Central R.R. going along at a great rate, reached Cleveland. Ohio about sundown but still kept a-traveling." Thus wrote Hanno Newton in his diary in 1858 when he, with his parents, were enroute from Connecticut to Iowa to establish a home in the section of Keokuk County then known as Dutch Creek and now the site of the town of Keota: Hanno had started to keep a diary two years before, and he continued this day-by-day account of events until his death at the age of ninety.

Hosea N. Newton and MaryAnne Bolles Fiske, natives of Cheshire County, New Hampshire, were married in Hinsdale, where their son Hanno was born in 1838. Hosea, who was engaged in the business of making oyster kegs in Hinsdale, moved his family to Fair Haven, Connecticut, in 1840, where he continued to engage in his business as cooper and where he taught his son the trade.

The pioneer spirit which had brought Richard Newton to Massachusetts from England in 1638 imbued his descendant, Hosea. After hearing reports from friends about the opportunities in Iowa, he made an exploratory trip in 1856 and bought 160 acres of prairie land at $1.25 per acre. Two years later he moved his family to Iowa.

Even though the family did not travel by covered wagon, as so many of the immigrants of that time did, the account of their trip makes interesting reading. From Fair Haven they took a stagecoach called the "King's Omnibus" to the dock at New Haven, where they boarded a steamboat at ten o'clock at night; nine hours later they arrived at New York, "two hours behind time on account of the heavy fog on the sound." They took a hack to the Gerard House, where they remained until six o'clock at night when they took "the cars" for Albany, New York, arriving there about midnight. At two o'clock in the afternoon of April 8, three days after they had left their home at Fair Haven, the Newtons arrived at Chicago. After visiting a few days in and around Chicago, they boarded "the cars" at Aurora at ten o'clock in the morning and that night at 6:30 they were met by friends at Davenport. Finally, on April 16 they arrived at Columbus City in Louisa County, the end of the railroad. They hired a man with team to take them to Washington that afternoon, and the next morning hired the same man to take them on to Lafayette Township in Keokuk County, about 22 miles. They lost their way and did not reach their destination until five o'clock in the evening. They "stoped (sic) at Hinman's (a hard place). Evening called upon a Mr. Farrand."

The Newtons had come to what must have seemed the end of the world. They had a farm, but there were no buildings on it, not even a tree or a stick of wood, as they were to discover when they started to mark out the places where the buildings were to be placed. They had left the civilized and populated East, had brought all their personal belongings and perhaps some furniture with them, but they had no place to live and no place to bring their "goods," making it necessary to leave them at Columbus City.

After looking the situation over on Sunday, the day after their arrival, they decided that the Farrand's looked like a good place for them to stay, so early on Monday morning,"before breakfast," Hanno wrote, "Father went over to Mr. Farrand's and arranged boarding for us." It was here that they stayed for three months, and it would appear that Mr. Farrand was very cooperative and helpful in getting the new family adjusted and started on their new venture. He is mentioned in many subsequent entries as accompanying them on trips for supplies and as working with them on various farm operations.

Their next step was to buy a team of horses for $250 and a cow for $20. They then borrowed a wagon and went to a sawmill, nine miles south on Skunk River, for lumber, getting their loads stuck in the mud twice on their way back to Mr. Farrand's. The day after this strenuous trip they built a stable for the horses and cow. None of their land being broken that first year, they rented a small piece of plowed ground for corn, but it was a very wet season and they did not get their corn planted until June 10.

Supplies were difficult to obtain because of the long distances which they had to be hauled. About two weeks after their arrival, Hanno, in company with Mr. Farrand and Mr. J. D. Batterson, went to Iowa City, about 40 miles away, to buy some necessary equipment. Leading Hanno's team and driving Mr. Farrand's, they made the trip to Iowa City in 11 hours. On the return trip the roads were muddy and their loads were heavy. They spent the better part of two days driving home. Getting through mudholes really took patience. For example, one line in the diary states quite simply what must have spelled patience as well as brute strength: "got stuck in a mud hole so that I did not get out for over two hours."

Once home, however, Hanno and Hosea lost no time in getting started on their building program. The next morning they "took the loads down to our place, unloaded them, afterward commenced digging the cellar."

While the Newtons had arrived on their farm on April 17, it was not until June 21 that they went to Columbus City
for the rest of the "goods." Since their barn was not ready for "living in" for another month, we can only conjecture

 

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A glimpse into the past...

as to what they did with their "goods" during that time. The trip to Columbus City and back is an interesting little story in itself. Mr. Hinman and Mr. Miller went along, driving their own teams, making three wagon loads that they hauled the 35 miles. They made the trip to Columbus City in one day, then were delayed in getting started back the next day because, in the words of the diary, "The Freight Agent being away.. could not get our goods untill (sic) about 11 o'clock." Once the goods were loaded on the wagons and the return started, troubles multiplied. First, the roads were very bad. and their loads were heavy, Hanno's being 1,800 pounds; then Hanno lost his "pail and halters"; the next day "Mr. Hinman broke a whiffle tree"; and finally, on their second day out from Columbus City, darkness overtook them when they were only five miles from home. The "roads being so bad we concluded not to go any farther tonight, borrowed a sythe (sic) and cut some grass for the horses, then went into an empty house and camped on the floor." Altogether, it took them three and a half days to make the round trip of 70 miles.

Many loads of lumber from the sawmill were needed before they had enough to complete the farm buildings. Finishing lumber and other supplies had to be hauled from Iowa City, each trip usually consuming two or three days. But at last, three months from the date of their arrival, the barn was finished, and, in the words of the diary: "We quit boarding out...moved into our barn, it is quite comfortable."

For four months, then, the barn was their home. On September 21 they "got ready to raise our house," and on October 9," moved into the chambers of our new house, seems some better." The finishing work on the house continued until November 24, Thanksgiving Day, when the diary reads: "Run off lime for plastering. Never worked before (on) Thanksgiving day." They were working against time now, for the winter was soon to set in. On November 29 they "laid chimney," and on December 2 they plastered the lower part of the house. Snow began to fall about four o'clock that afternoon, and they did not get the plastering finished until eight o'clock. They then brought the stove down from upstairs, and by eleven o'clock had it set up and "a fire going hot."

The fact that the Newtons first built their barn—a barn substantial enough for them to live in for several months— and then erected a plastered house indicates that they differed from the typical pioneer of the fifties. Most of the early settlers first built a rude cabin, heated by a fireplace, for their family shelter; later, they might build a rough leanto shed to house their animals. That the Newtons were building on such a grand scale must have been a cause of wonder and envy to their neighbors.

Hosea turned his skill as cooper to that of carpenter and thence to cabinet maker. He became known. ultimately, as an excellent cabinet maker, and we know that he had plenty of practice in the trade. He made their own furniture, such as bedsteads, bureaus, washtubs, and a bookcase with pigeonholes; he also made machinery such as wagons, sleds, a seeder and wheelbarrow, and plows. Not only did he use his skill at carpentry for his own work, but he was called upon to do a good bit of that kind of work in the neighborhood. When the Newtons became firmly established. there were many entries in the diary, such as the following: "Father went to work for Mr. Jones—frameing (sic) his house." Even during that first summer, when they were so busy with their own house, they were called upon to help their neighbors with building projects, one such call being to help "raise" a neighbor's house. But there was fun as well as hard work at those house-raisings. After the Newtons had raised their own house, Hanno wrote in his diary: "haveing (sic) plenty of watermelons when we got through we eat some."

From time to time other buildings were added to the Newton farm homestead: on August 11, 1869, they "raised the Granary," and a month later they finished a cowshed. By 1867 the family had outgrown the original house, and an addition was built.

The growing family is accounted for by the fact that in 1862 Hanno married Maria DeBerard, who, with her parents, had moved onto a corner of the section opposite the Newtons some two years before. By 1867 three children had been born to the couple, all girls. Since they needed more male help on the farm, they took a boy, Charlie Ames, "to raise." Add to this the fact that there were many guests coming to the Newton home from time to time, often staying over night—one wonders where they all slept. The original house had a living room, bedroom, kitchen, and pantry down stairs and four bedrooms upstairs. In 1867 a large room was added to the back of the house and used as kitchen and dining room.

Crowded conditions again existed in 1871. That was the year that a branch of the Rock Island Railroad was extended from Washington through Sigourney. It cut through the Newton farm, and the Newtons took some of the laborers to board, which in those days meant rooms as well. There were by this time five children, making 11 people altogether in the family—add to this the railroad men—where would guests be put? But guests they did have, as indicated by Hanno's entry: "today the first time in two weeks but what there has been someone here besides our own folks."

During the first years in this new land, the Newtons spent much time during the winter months in the woods over
near the river, cutting and hauling wood to burn and to make fence posts. At times they camped over night, bringing home two loads instead of the usual one. It is doubtful if this kind of camping was enjoyable; to take the sting out of their problem, the Newtons, with neighbors J. Sherman and Doty, built a "cabin to camp in" in the winter of 1862-1863. Even at that, one can be reasonably certain that the cabin was merely a protection from the wintry blasts.

In addition to carpentering and wood cutting, there was farm work to do, even that first year, and while they probably did not do very much on their own farm that first summer, they did do some farm work for their neighbors. On June 16, "Helped Father finish planting corn over to Mr. Case's today," which, by the way, was quite a late date to plant

 

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A glimpse into the past...

corn. However, it made good corn, as Hanno testified in an article in The Keota Eagle in May, 1877.

Other farming operations mentioned that first summer were mowing and putting up hay, mowing buckwheat, and husking corn. It would appear that these operations were all performed by hand, since it took two men all day to mow an acre and a half of hay. The next year special mention is made that they cut hay with a machine. Corn of course, was all husked by hand. Since there were no fences, they had some difficulty in keeping the cattle out of the corn; in July of that first summer there are several entries in the diary indicating that someone usually stayed at home to herd the cattle.

The pattern of the rapid development of farm machinery from hand operated to horse operated is clearly shown in the diary. Hay was cut by machine as early as 1859 and 1860, while corn was still being planted by hand after the field had been "marked" out, but in 1864 some corn was planted with a two-horse planter. In 1859 the plowing was done with a homemade shovel plow, but in 1863 and 1864 the Newtons made a sulky plow. They took the "hind wheels of H. Case's wagon, set the tin, and fited (sic) them onto the plow." Sowing wheat was done with shovel plows in 1861, but in 1863 they "bought pattern right of a seed sower," and set out to make one. The pattern was evidently a good one, since the entry on March 30 stated that the "machine worked very well."

Threshing in 1864 was accomplished by the cradling method, but was soon changed to the reaper except, as in 1869, when the ground was so wet that they had to revert to cradling. Until 1871 corn was hoed by hand, all hands helping, even the womenfolk, but that year they bought a corn cultivator which must have revolutionized the operation.

The crops raised by the Newtons included corn, wheat, oats, buckwheat, rye, and sorghum. No mention is made of the varieties they grew except in the case of wheat, when Fife, Tea, and Club were cleaned with a fanning mill in 1863.

Since there were no native trees on the Newton land, they planted trees from time to time. By 1863 they had a hedgerow "between Smock and us," and that year they set out some willows. The next year they bought more "willow cuttings at $2.00 per thousand," and also set out cottonwood sprouts. In 1867 they started a seedling bed of maples, using seeds which they had had sent from the East; in 1871 they set out the maple seedlings.

Fences very soon became a necessity, and the work of building them was commenced in 1859. Rail fencing was the cheapest kind to build, but it was a time-consuming job. There were countless entries made in the diary of which the following is typical: "Father and I went to timber and split rails." Merrill E. Jarchow cites an example of the time which it took to make a rail fence: "it required 6,720 rails, fourteen to the rod, to fence eighty acres, while the job of splitting the rails took one man about 67 days. Further, it required 1,920 stakes and 960 blocks for the support of such a fence." When we read about the times that the sheep strayed , and how they sometimes had to hunt for several days before they found their cows, we can appreciate the fact that they must have been very eager, indeed, to get fences built as soon as they could. It is not clear from the diary whether they fenced their fields or their stock in first.

What they did for water the first year is a mystery, but in August, 1859, they went on a hunt for stone to "wall a well," which they were digging and in which they installed a chain pump.

Doing a little conjecturing from the fact that willows seemed to be a good kind of tree for them to plant, and the fact that in 1860 they hired a Mr. Gordon with a ditcher to make "113 rods of ditch," we can conclude that part of the farm, at least, was quite wet. Another pretty good proof that they had some low, wet land, as well as that there was a bit of humor in Hanno's makeup, is an entry on March 1, 1861: "At noon heard Frogs sharpening their teeth for the first time this year." At the present time there is a so-called "slough" which cuts through the farm and across which, at one place is a bridge. Probably this is where the ditching was done. Aside from this slough, the entire farm is tillable, and probably the slough was a very valuable factor in the worth of the farm, since it provided water for the stock during the summer.

As was the case with most of the farmers in southern Iowa, the corn-hog program proved to be the most profitable for the Newtons, since that is the most consistently reported on. Early in their farming, they sold much of their livestock already butchered, their chief market being Washington. One day in January of 1862 they butchered 12 hogs, the next day they "killed two cows," and two days later "killed eight turkeys." They established connections in the East where they could sell turkeys, chickens, and geese: dressing as high as 60 turkeys or "51 turkeys and 28 geese" in one day. This was not easy work, and the remuneration was very little as evidenced by one entry in 1869, after they had dressed 35 geese. Hanna wrote: "Tough work. Took geese to Washington and got 50 cents a piece for them." While frequent reference is made concerning the dressing, packing, and shipping of fowl, no mention is made of the price received from the East. The only mention made of the price of dressed turkey was that which were sold in Washington in 1872 when they received eight and a half cents per pound.

On a farm there are many projects which one may follow to turn one's time and resources into cash. The Newtons tried various ones, such as the dressing of fowl and the butchering of hogs and beef. At one time Hanno tried raising bees, but that did not turn out as well as some other projects, for he wrote: "went to work to take care of bees, got stung so bad had to have the doctor." Only once during this period is any mention made of the sale of eggs when, in 1860, they received seven cents per dozen. They may have sold butter occasionally , but only once was any mention made of it, when they "sent 100 lb....to Washington." One project which was successful year after year was that of

 

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A glimpse into the past...

making sorghum molasses; in 1861 they made 900 gallons, which they sold at twenty cents a gallon. There was much work to it: cutting wood from the timber, hauling it home, piling it in readiness for the fire which would be kept burning continually for days; in addition, they had to strip the cane and then boil and watch the molasses.

The food which the pioneers had to eat, although of interest to us today, apparently did not seem important enough to Hanno to write about, except in the case of the special treats like oysters which were shipped them from the East. One entry is typical: "rec'd a 2 gall. keg Oysters from H.C." When such a shipment would arrive the Newtons would give a series of oyster suppers, one time inviting the older folk of the neighborhood, and a few days later the younger set. To these people who had been brought up on seafoods such as oysters, lobsters, and codfish, a shipment of such delicacies must have been deeply appreciated.

Having been easterners, they, of course, had their Boston baked beans and brown bread. As was the custom in those days, they also took wheat and corn to the gristmill and had their own flour and corn meal made. In their garden they raised their own potatoes, carrots, turnips (in 1864 they "pulled" 17 bushels), pumpkins, and dry beans.

While there are not many accounts of trapping, hunting, or fishing, these undoubtedly were favorite sports which often proved profitable. Traps were set for prairie chickens, mink, and muskrat, and occasionally Hosea and Hanno attended wolf hunts. On one such occasion, Hanno reported they "got badly fooled...nary Wolfe was seen." Fishing in the Skunk River was good, and "lots of fish" were caught, but the kinds were not mentioned.

Neighborliness was one of the greatest assets which pioneers had. Although their houses were not close together, the occupants lived in close association with each other, being dependent upon one another for their social life, for help in getting various farm and household jobs done, and for assistance in times of need.

Entertainment in those early days was pretty much of the homemade variety, and much of it was educational in character. The singing school was probably the most popular and the longest lived. There were also geography schools, arithmetic schools, the spelling bees and the literary societies each of which seemed to survive for only a year at a time.

Fairs and circuses and neighborhood parties came in for their share of participation, but the diary does not go into detail concerning them, only an occasional remark such as "had a tip top time" or "had a first rate time," indicating that the event had been pleasant.

There were two holidays which usually called for a special celebration: the Fourth of July and Christmas. Thanksgiving was mentioned occasionally as being a day when they went to a neighbor's for dinner, or they had neighbors to their place. The first account of a Fourth of July event was in 1859, when Hanno wrote: "Afternoon 10 couple of us took a ride rode until 5 P.M. stoped at the school house about 3 hours, then came here and took supper afterwards drove up to Scotland." And the next day the diary continues: "Got home about 4 o'clock this morning... had a house full of company to supper. Old folks."

Each year, it seems, they attended the Fourth of July celebration at a different place: Washington, Cramer's grove, Cochran's grove, Talleyrand, Keota. One year they had the celebration in the Newton grove. There were usually about 1,500 people at these celebrations, so it is no wonder that one year was enough for the Newtons.

During the first years in Iowa, Christmas seems to have been just another day; sometimes there would be a school meeting in the afternoon, sometimes the family went right on with their farm work, one time gathering corn, another time going to the river for wood, and one year they "ground out 40 gall. sorghum juice for Vinegar." But from 1870 on there were more festivities arranged for each year. The year 1873 was the first time that a church program was attended by the Newton family, but from then on they took a very active part in the planning and the work of carrying out the Christmas "Festival."

Hosea and Hanno were lodgemen, both belonging to the Masonic and Odd Fellow lodges for many years. In 1928 Hanno laid claim to being the oldest Mason in length of membership in southeastern Iowa. At the time of his death in 1929 he had been a Mason for 65 years and an Odd Fellow for 71. Although Hanno had been a Mason since 1864, he did not take the "chapter" degrees in Keota until about 1921. More important to the life of the community than the social events, however, was the cooperation among the members of the neighborhood. The men folk pooled their manpower when certain farm jobs, such as haying, threshing, and even plowing and planting, were to be done. Persons with special skills were called upon to perform their jobs for all the neighbors. At first Mr. Doty made their boots; they would go to him and be measured, and about a month later they would return to get their finished boots. Later, when the DeBerards moved into the community, Mr. DeBerard did shoe repair work. As was mentioned above, Hosea was called upon for carpentering and cabinet work. Hanno, who possibly had a little more education than his neighbors, contributed to the life of the neighborhood in the drawing up of papers such as the "draft of LaFayette Township." He also acted as clerk at public auctions.

The weather, of course, played a very important part in the life of the pioneer farmers, and Hanno faithfully recorded each day's weather conditions. For the most part these notations are short and of little interest, except in the case of unusual storms such as the one recorded on May 22, 1873:

About 2 P.M. there came up a very heavy rain with a good deal of large hail and a tornado started near Lancaster tore a number of houses to pieces there and came on towards Keota destroyed a number of buildings came on to the east side of Clear Creek. Destroyed Nick Engledinger's house and killed his wife and child. Destroyed Mr. Carter's house and Barn destroyed about 50 head hogs 20 head horses 1 bull 1 cow etc.

 

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Keota Cenntinial Book © Copyright 1973
Keota Centennial Committee

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