Yes, the McGuires came back to Lyon County, but this time, they came by auto or flew in by plane or perhaps used a combination of both to arrive in Rock Rapids for the annual Heritage Days celebration in June. It was a grand reunion for the McGuire clan to make this journey back to their “roots”! One can only imagine the good conversation and reminiscing that took place during their visit! Most of them grew up in Rock Rapids, attended the local schools, and remember many of the early businesses that made up main street. If they hadn’t been back since their graduation, I am sure they noticed a lot of changes!

I understand it took many hours of planning by James McGuire, who is retired and living in Des Moines, to plan the McGuire reunion. I am sure many had a hand in the plans to bring all of the McGuires together.

The first McGuire to arrive in Lyon County was James McGuire, the older of the McGuire brothers, who finally settled in Lyon County. He often told of his journey to Sioux City, and then since that was the extent of the railroad, he told of his walk to Lyon County and his swimming the Floyd and Little Rock Rivers. He said he saw only three houses enroute as he crossed the prairie.

The following year, James and his brother Patrick came overland from Tipton, Iowa, Cedar County, with all of their possessions and provisions, some 400 miles, to establish a home in Lyon County. They bought their land in Lyon County from the U. S. Government, and paid $1.25 per acre. The deed is signed by Ulysses S. Grant.

The first priority was building some type of housing. Logs had to be hauled from the western end of the county along the Big Sioux River. Shingles for the roof were bought and hauled from Heron Lake, Minnesota. Getting the materials to build was no small matter as there were no trains at that time; everything had to be hauled by horse-drawn wagons. In 1871, a log cabin stood on the site designated as the new farmstead, which was located on the west half of section 36, Rock Township, Lyon County.

The logs were held together at the corners by wooden pegs. The chinks in the logs were sealed with clay.

In 1874 Patrick married Bessie Doyle and their three sons, John, Jesse, and Wade, were all born in the log cabin. In 1884 they moved into a new large house.

In 1884 James married Catherine Egan, and they moved into the log cabin. Their children were Edward, May, and Nellie. One of Patrick’s sons, Jesse J. McGuire, became the county sheriff.

For decades, the old McGuire cabin just sat there, three and one-half miles east of the Lakewood Corner. We complain that sometimes it seems that our houses are hard to heat. Give a thought to the pioneers who built their homes here over a hundred years ago. One of these was the McGuire cabin which stands in the West Side Park in Rock Rapids. The pioneers did not have any problems such as the lack of oil or natural gas. They had wood from the trees along the creeks, buffalo chips, twisted grass, and corn cobs to burn, and they seemed to get along really well.

Larry Long who lives in Valley Springs, South Dakota, has an interesting “the rest of the story” telling what he knew about the log cabin. His dad was Shannon Long, and the family lived on the Lakewood Corner, six miles south of Rock Rapids at the intersection of Highway 75 and the George, Iowa, road. “My dad had heard of the logs in the building from the people that lived on the farm. I think their name was Faber. Someone had tried to buy the building, but they did not sell it.

“I went over and asked about getting logs and offered to take the siding off, pull the nails, and pile the lumber neatly, if we could have the logs. This is what happened:”

“Dad and my younger brother took the wood off the sides. We had to run a hose from the house to the cabin to fight off the wasps which were very bad. All three of us were bitten many times. I think the wasps were in the chinking between the logs in the cabin.”

“Dad made little 3 x 3 white cards that we stapled to the logs, N-1, N-2, S-1, etc., which gave us the directions the logs were facing. We then rolled the logs down boards onto an old race-car trailer and took them back to the Lakewood Corner where we planned to reassemble the cabin just west of the store.”

“At the time, Dad, had a lot of antiques along with the station. He really liked memorabilia and relics from the past. This was long before most people realized the value of antiques and started collecting them.”

“In 1960, someone recognized the historical rarity and value of the little log cabin and told the Kiwanis Club about it. They decided to make the preservation of the log cabin a project. My mother says my father donated it, but my brother and I remember being paid $150.00 for it. The money might have been for our work, or Dad might have paid us, I don’t know. I don’t believe the logs were put back as my dad marked them when the Kiwanis Club re-erected it at the West Side Park where it stands today. They put the poorest logs on the bottom so they could be reinforced with concrete. I am so glad it has been preserved.”

“My mother and brother remember the cabin, and I remember just exactly where it sat on the McGuire farmstead.” Larry Long, Valley Springs, South Dakota.

The log cabin was then moved from the McGuire farm in 1960 by the Rock Rapids Kiwanis Club as a community project. Many fund-raising events were held to help in the cost of erecting it at the West Park of Rock Rapids where it still stands today.

In the early days, the McGuire cabin was a stopping place for many early settlers and was noted for its hospitality. It was later used to house visitors and threshers during harvest. James McGuire’s son, Jimmie McGuire, stayed in Rock Rapids and remembered much of the old days of the log cabin. He remembered it as a place where the steam boiler was placed during butchering, and it was later used for storage purposes. The cabin was allowed to stand, probably partly for sentimental reasons, and it still could be used for a variety of things.

So it finally had a moment of glory once more during Heritage Days, June 2004, when McGuires from all over, converged on Rock Rapids where grandsons, great-grandsons, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters of the original two pioneer McGuires gathered to pay homage to the venerable old building by rededicating the building as it is well on its way toward its second hundredth year of survival. The rededication was held during a special ceremony on a sunny Sunday morning, Father’s Day, June 20.

There seem to be no McGuires residing in Lyon County at the present time, but for one weekend in June, there were lots of them to pay homage to their ancestors and to a visible part of their indomitable spirit.

Written by Evelyn Halverson


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