He came, he saw, he toughed it through,
He roamed the prairie wild,
He plucked the wild sweet Williams rare.
This early roving child.
He broke the sod, he twisted hay,
He lingered through those years;
Grasshoppers were the reapers then,
His children oft in tears.
He fought with debts, chewed rosin gum;
His wife built chicken coops,
And from the tumble weeds she made
Those dainty ox-tail soups.
The homestead shanty was his home,
For beast a grass-thatched barn,
And yet to him 'twas "Home, Sweet Home,"
Where wife his socks did darn.
He had no coal, he had no wood,
For fuel he burned hay,
And when the hay gave out he burned
Machine notes he did pay.
The skies cleared off and land went up,
The sun shone on this spot;
When the discovery was made,
Twas Eden's garden lot.
The railroad engine screeched and blew,
And yelled, "Where is that town?"
That townsprang up while it passed through,
And held that railroad down.


The elm, and ash, and maple twigs,
They grew, and grew, and grew,
For wind breaks, groves, and park and shade,
When wind it blew and blew.
The modern house and barn were built,
The auto hove in sight,
And then the pioneer was glad
He'd fit that scrappy fight.
Now when, at last, at heaven's gate,
You seek that heavenly rest,
Of all that's good and great and grand,
Iowa boasts the best.
When for this best the state you roam,
Along Iowa's ninety and nine,
Just keep your eyes a squintin', 'cause
O'Brien's down the line.
Four townships long, four townships wide,
On smooth and level land,
Just four and twenty miles each way,
You'll see a sight that's grand.


The creative becomes historic. The administrative becomes merely commonplace. God created the world. It was historic. It was creative. It was distinctly pioneer. The pioneer makes history. The tilling of the soil is merely administrative.
Columbus crossed the ocean and discovered America. That was historic. In thousands we cross the ocean as the administrative part of business and tourist life. The building of the Panama canal is creative. The thousands of ships will pass through its channel as part of the world's administrative progress. Whitney constructing his cotton gin and Fulton building his steamboat were events, but we continue to spin cotton with a million spindles and run our ships in daily commonplace.
When the Legislature of Iowa, in 1850, enacted the word "O'Brien" into a statute, by naming this particular twenty-four miles square "O'Brien," it wrote down an historic event for this county. The officials in the court house will continue to write the same name for the years to come into the records as mere administrative business. The United States issues its patent to a tract of land to the old homesteader. It is only done once. It is a creative event to that title. The mere deeds and sales and use of that land thereafter is but the formal administrative handing dowm of the original historic title.


The platting of a town on the record, or the vote by the people for its incorporation, is done but once. It is creative. The later living in or sale of parts of lots in that town belongs to the usual everyday item. The building of a railroad is usually done but once. The daily train traffic thereon for the years is but the daily ordeal of travel. The time of our birth, our birth day, is our creative period. The date is historic to us. The birth of a county is in its beginning. Then it was created. The later people administer upon its effects. The selling of our school lands by its first county auditor's certificates, or contracts, was creative. The loaning of the proceeds ot these lands on school loans is administrative. The first laying out or establishment of our highways on the wild prairie was creative. We continue to ride in auTomobiles over these roads, in grim defiance and certain risk of our lives at fifty miles per hour as merely administrative, when in truth the administrator is called in. When the squatter squatted his squat, he got title by jumping first into possession. It was a decisive first historic act. The living on the land by himself and his children, though enjoyable, becomes the daily routine.
The pioneer broke the first unsubdued prairie sod. It needed to be done but once. It was among the first things. It created the wild prairie into a farm. Later on in years it became simply spring plowing. Our public parks are laid out by the pioneer. We plant a tree or a grove. This is creative. We sit beneath its shade. That is but the administrative part of our laziness. The condemnation of the acre for the school site belonged to the pioneer in the main. It was historic in the community. Thereafter the children simply came to school at nine o'clock in the morning. The building of the old homestead shanty and proving up marked a period, as likewise the building of the new modern house, but the living in same was for the every dawn.
The original building of the Big Four mills at Sheldon was historic. The people will continue to consume the thousands of barrels of flour ("Prairie Queen") as administrative, "Give us this day our daily bread." The erection of the round house and shops at Sanborn was an important event both for the town and county. Its engines and trains are sent out in dispatch as daily occurrences. The putting up of the soldiers' monument at Hartley in 1891 was itself historic, as likewise was it representative of a great national historic drama. Its people will continue to learn the daily administrative lesson of patriotism and reverence for that which is brave and heroic each day as the years go by. The first establishment of the county fair at Sutherland was creative and historic. Under the statute providing for it there can be but one association. Its annual fairs, however, will be but administrative. The en-


dowment of the public library at Paullina by Frederick G. Frothingham and the construction of its electroliers and electric plant were historic events in the town. The reading of those library books by the light from those electric lights will be a part of the routine of town life.
Other new things will occur as time moves. The pioneer will continue his work in new fields. For instance, perhaps we will yet do the further historic acts of building during the hundred years to come what will be equal to the cement highway, the Roman or Appian Way, if you please, for the automobile across the country and O'Brien county. All else will follow suit. Let us continue the work of the pioneer, and make our bow, and take off our hat in reverence both to the past and coming pioneer. Let us honor the historic and creative, that we may the better enjoy the administrative. It is the creative and historic which keeps active the memory cells in our brains.
"We linger still in memorie's cell. Engraven on our hearts."


The Iowa state Legislature, at its session of 1850, in one law, in a sort of husking bee as it were, named fifty of the ninety-nine counties in one enactment. O'Brien county was christened with good Irish water from the River Boyne itself. At least that was the sentiment. It was the argument in the Legislature to have represented in these names as many different ideas and nationalities as possible, from the Indian names of Winneshiek. Poweshiek and Sac, to the patriotic names of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Clay, Webster and Polk, to the final awarding of three names of the sons of Erin, to that prince of Irish orators, Robert Emmett. to John Mitchell and then to our own Irishman, William Smith O'Brien, after whom the county was named.
William Smith O'Brien was born in 1803 and died in 1864, and was an educated man as well as a man of ability. He was an Irish politician. He was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge, in England.
He entered the English Parliament in 1828. In 1835 he was returned from the county of Limerick and for several years strongly advocated the claims oF Ireland to a strictly equal justice with England, in legislative as well as in executive measures. Professing his inability to effect this in the United Legislature, and having been committed to prison for refusing to serve on committees by the speaker's orders, he withdrew from attendance in Parlia-


ment in 1841, and joined that great Irish patriot, Daniel O'Connell, in the agitation for the repeal of the legislative union between England and Ireland.
In the progress of that agitation our William Smith O'Brien sided with the partY known as "Young Ireland." In other words, he was one of the "Young Turks," or incorrigibles or unconquered. In 1848, when that excitement resulted in a call to arms, he took part in an attempted rebellion in the south of Ireland. He was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. The sentence, however, was commuted to transportation for life. He, with other political offenders, was exiled to Tasmania, an obscure English colony, but years later was allowed to return.
It can thus be seen that Irishman William Smith O'Brien was no small man, a man worthy of a cause championed by the great Daniel O'Connell and found fighting side by side with such men as Robert Emmett and John Mitchell. The citizens of the county have no reason to be ashamed of William Smith O'Brien or of the name. He was considered by the editors of the "International Cyclopaedia" of sufficient world-wide celebrity to entitle him to a half column write-up in that great compendium of the world's great men and events.


In the beginning, while northwestern Iowa was still nine-tenths raw prairie, with scarcely a tree; with angling roads, running with the ridges of land; with waving prairie grass from ten inches to four feet in height, and with all surrounding things apparently without form and void, O'Brien county was created or rather carved out of Woodbury. Woodbury county, or Wahkaw county, as it was first called, was thus the mother hive from which swarmed eleven counties, Woodbury, Ida, Sac, Buena Vista, Cherokee, Plymouth, Sioux, Osceola, Lyon, Buncomb (name later changed) and O'Brien.
Woodbury county, thus included, was first named Wahkaw county, as recorded in chapter nine, section twenty-seven, proceedings of the third General Assembly of Iowa, in 1851. The following, or fourth, General Assembly (chapter eight), by an act approved January 12, 1853, which was entitled "An Act Organizing Counties therein named," in its fourteenth section provided that those eleven districts should be known as Wahkaw county for the purpose of collecting taxes and holding elections and courts and ordering that the then organizing sheriff could call elections at Sargent's Bluffs and such other places as he might designate. This same fourth General Assembly (chapter twelve) passed another act entitled "An Act in Relation to New Counties," on the same date, January 12, 1853, providing a method whereby


either of the eleven counties might, by a named number of citizens, petition the court of Woodbury county, directed to the judges of the court, asking that such county, naming it, might be organized and thus become a legal corporation. This law also provided for the establishment of a county seat, and also provided for the changing of the name of the mother county from Wahkaw to Woodbury county. Thus early was northwestern Iowa looking for a Missouri terminal for a future city, or capital, so to speak, for this larger territory, on first thought lighting on Sargent's Bluffs, but, for later reasons belonging to Woodbury county history, landed in greater permanency at what is now recognized as northwestern Iowa's business terminal, chief city and distributing point, Sioux City.


The petition directed to the court of Woodbury county was signed by seven so-called voters and by sundry soldiers of the Federal army, then under General Sully fighting Indians in these several states. Indeed, and in fact, Hannibal House Waterman was the only real, bona fide, legitimate and squaredeal citizen or voter in this county, though six other men (record a little confused whether six or seven) signed this petition and voted with him at the election held February 6., 1860, at the house of this first settler, Hannibal House Waterman, on his United States homestead on the northeast quarter of section 26, township 94, range 39, in Waterman township, named for him, as was likewise the stream Bowing through the whole eastern part of the county. We give below the full order of the court relating to the organization oi O'Brien county, which recites its own history.
"County Court, Woodbury County.
"January 25, 1860.
"Whereas, a petition has been presented to this court, signed by Hannibal H. Waterman and seven other citizens of O'Brien county, and I. C. Furber having made oath that the signatures to said petition are a majority of legal voters of said county, and
"Whereas, the said petitioners ask that the said O'Brien county may be organized in accordance with the provisions of law upon that subject.
"Now therefore, I, John P. Allison, county judge of Woodbury county, in the state Of Iowa, do hereby order :
"First: That the countv of O'Brien, in the state of Iowa, be and the


same is hereby organized from and after the twenty-fifth day of January, A. D. 1860.
"Second: That an election be held in O'Brien county and state aforesaid, at the dwelling house of Hannibal Waterman, on Monday, the sixth day of February, A. D. i860, for the purpose of electing officers, and that I. C. Furber act as one of the judges of said first election. "Third : It is ordered, that I. C. Furber act as organizing sheriff, and that he post notices in three of the most public places in said O'Brien county, stating the time and place of holding said election at least ten days prior to the election aforesaid, and make return of his doings to this court.
"John P. Allison,
"County Judge."' ""County Court, Woodbury County,
"January 26, 1860.
"Now comes I. C. Furber and qualifies as judge of the election to be held in O'Brien county on the 6th day of February, A. D. 1860, by taking the oath as required in section 249. chapter 25 of the Code of Iowa.
"John P. Allison,
"County Judge."


"At an election held in O'Brien county, at the house of H. H. Waterman, February 6, 1860, I. C. Furber was elected to the office of county judge, A. Murray, clerk of district court, and H. H. Waterman, treasurer and recorder, to hold their offices until the next general election, this being the first election after organization of the county. I. C. Furber acted as organizing sheriff at said election.
"I. C. Furber,
"County Judge."


On the same day that Abraham Lincoln was first elected President, November 6, 1860, O'Brien county's first full-term corps of officers were elected as follows: Henry C. Tiffey, clerk of the district court; I. C. Furber, treasurer and recorder; A. Murray, county judge; Sam H. Morrow, surveyor, and H. H. Waterman, road supervisor. There were eighteen votes cast at this election.



At the next, or second, general election the following officers were elected: A. Murray, sheriff; J. W. Bosler, treasurer and recorder; George Hoffman, coroner; John S. Jenkins, county superintendent of schools; A. Phillips, drainage commissioner; H. H. Waterman, township supervisor.


We give here the results of the first two elections, after its organizing election, to emphasize the fact that right here in its organization, and first two elections, is evidence on its face of a scheme to farm O'Brien county finances.
As we have previously remarked, Hannibal House Waterman was the only bona fide settler and citizen. Those other gentry, I. C. Furber, John S. Jenkins, John H. Cofer, James W. Bosler, Moses Lewis, George Hoffman, H. C. Tiffey, A. Phillips and, in a degree, Archibald Murray, and who were among those other seven named in the petition, were but a bunch of schemers who came on with others from Sioux City and Fort Dodge and organized counties and county seats for three counties, Clay, O'Brien and Beuna (sic) Vista, with county seats handily arranged for, three mile apart, at Old O'Brien, Peterson and Sioux Rapids, in which well-laid scheme the set of men who acted as officials in O'Brien county would appear as contractors in the various humbug building of bridges and other schemes in the other counties and vice versa.
H. C. Tiffey was the best business man of the bunch, so far as papers and their preparation were concerned. James W. Bosler was a politician of some note from Pennsylvania and, a grafter of western innocence, laid out the plans and did the best head work. John H. Cofer was the swamp land gentleman and schemer.
It will be observed that in the petition for organization before the court, these gentry took care that the name of Hannibal H. Waterman, the only real citizen, headed the list, and thus make a showing of good faith, and had him in the first instance appointed to the important offices of treasurer and recorder of the county, but it will be further observed that at the very first general election the same year, with still only nineteen votes cast, that the one and only one bona fide citizen and honorable man, Hannibal H. Waterman, was dismantled of the chief offices and handed the sop of the insignificant offices of township and road supervisor. Even at this late date it seems astounding that these same gentry were


thus allowed to thus organize and farm in literal fact not simply one but three counties adjoining, in so open-handed a way. It also seems incredible that such a bunch of outlandish proceedings as an organization of three counties in one batch for such financial farming as we will presently see, should have passed the serious order and judgment of the court, and that, too, by such a man so long prominent in Sioux City banking circles as Judge John P. Allison, so long a partner with George Weare in the banking firm of Weare & Allison. We hardly wish to raise a question of his integrity, especially his judicial integrity, but when we also see, later on, that this banking firm of Weare & Allison in the subsequent years purchased thousands of dollars of the depreciated county warrants, not only of these, but other counties in Iowa similarly organized, and later sued them, got them into judgment, thus putting them out of reach of defense, and later having the bonds of the county issued for them, and they usually buying them at about thirty cents on the dollar, and then collecting full face value with ten per cent interest, we are at least entitled to raise the question of his good judgment, if we do not as to his integrity.
We might also criticize with justice the early fathers or legislators of the state in leaving one lame loophole in the law above referred to providing for the organization of counties. Had these solons or lawmakers provided that no county could thus have been organized until it had at least five hundred or, better, one thousand voters, it would have saved O'Brien and many other counties much trouble. While votes of honor are often given to our pioneer solons, it would seem that O'Brien county could, without blushing, enter its protest that the General Assembly of Iowa for 1851 were thus direlect in this duty.


As a literal matter of fact, these "seven others" had simply and suddenly lit, as it were, for the express purpose of not simply organizing, but farming the cash or infantile credit of this and many other counties in the West. These three handy county seats in nearby corners formed a grand triumvirate. These seven others, or twenty-one in the three counties, were about as vigorous a lot of rascals as went unhung. They proceeded to issue solemn contracts and issue county warrants and other evidences of indebtedness to the enormous amount of two hundred and thirty thousand dollars (and upwards) on this one county alone. Verily the seven had her to wife, and the bride paid the bills. (3)



This phrase, "seven others," had a special meaning. One of these "seven," in a personal conversation with the writer many years ago, boasted that he was one of the seven. Said he: "We built a bridge, and then made an elaborate report. Then we drew our county warrant. Then I and we of that seven tore down that bridge. Then we built that same bridge‐excuse me, another bridge‐in another prairie slough, and drew another warrant, and so on until seven bridges were built, and each of the seven got a share. Why shouldn't we tear it down? Nobody ever crossed on it, no road there even." Then this boastful organizer of new counties, who was of a considerable literary turn of mind, laughingly and dramatically recited several stanzas of Byron's "Seven Prisoners of Chillon," in a fine oratorical voice, making special emphasis on the words of the stanza, "We are seven." Said he: "Byron's 'Prisoners of Chillon' suffered in chains for their religion. Didn't we suffer in chains like them in this then God-forsaken wilderness of a country, even worse than in chains." Then, in grim satire, he went on: "And then, with due regard to the comfort, happiness and general welfare of my dear family, I tore down that damned bridge and built for myself a 'home, sweet home.' This braggadocia statement was no joke. We, of course, can make due allowance for the magic number seven, and of his tendencies to the classical, but it was too literally true both in spirit and in fact. He then went on further: "Lumber was scarce in them days, and lumber for seven bridges was more than we could get hauled up into that neck of the woods in them days." Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he said: "Well, Mr. Peck, you are one of these reformers, and I want you to have a little credit for it, but we might as well have a little fun out of it." Had he added that the "seven others" should have been punished as Byron's Prisoners of Chillon were punished he would have hit the truer mark.


Lest, however, this first and some other chapters may raise a false and bad impression of the county; lest the outside reader may jump at a hasty conclusion, let us pause and anticipate a statement of an historic fact of this year of grace 1914. Land here is worth one hundred and fifty dollars per acre. It is true, as will be seen in further chapters and items, that our people did discuss the feasibility of a defeat of this debt, and well they might, yet finally they decided of themselves to pay it all. That high sense


of honor prevailed, that our people in the future would feel and enjoy and hand down to its future citizens a loftier pride and honor by paying off even an unjust debt, rather than to be forever subjecting themselves to be jolted by the odium of bankruptcy. The county did not even compromise. It overcame its troubles in full. In this year 1914 the county is absolutely free of debt. The last cent was paid off in 1908. At the outset, then, the reader will pardon us and at same time will feel a thrill of pride when we record these true historic words, "O'Brien county paid every cent of its debt."


Hannibal House Waterman was born March 28, 1821, in Cattaraugus county, New York, where he was raised on a farm, and attended the district school until twelve years of age, when, with his parents, they moved to Erie county. New York, where, with them, he lived until he was twenty-one years of age. He attended Allegheny College, at Meadville, Pennsylvania, for a time. Later he went into the lumber woods of that region and remained seven years. This well fitted him for the rougher experiences of the West.
Mrs. Hannah H. Waterman was the first white woman in O'Brien county, and was born in Cattaraugus county, New York, December 2, 1836, but, as a singular coincidence, Mr. and Mrs. Waterman never met until the autumn of 1852 in Bremer county, Iowa, where they were married in June, 1854. One child, Emily A., now Emily A. McLaren, of Sioux City, was born there. They resided in Bremer county until the spring of 1856, when they decided to go still further west. They arrived in O'Brien county, then Woodbury county for taxation purposes (though he thought for some time that he was in Clay county), on July 11, 1856. It was too late for a crop, consequently but little could be done that summer other than to put up meager buildings.
On May 7, 1887, one of the writers hereof (J.L.E. Peck) visited the home of Mr. and Mrs. Waterman, at their residence and on their pre-emption claim on the northeast quarter of section 26, township 94, range 39, in Waterman township, which bears his name, where they resided until, in their old age, they retired from the farm and removed to Sutherland, where he died on September 2, 1908. At this visit the writer obtained from their own lips the narrative of their lives, as well as many facts and items found in this history.
They were very hospitable people. Mr. Waterman was a tall man, full six feet, swarthy, wore full beard, of lightish color, as likewise was his hair,


which later on in years was mingled with gray, had bright, clear blue eyes, and was a hearty, pleasant old gentleman. He was an intensely religions man. He was an exhorter or local preacher. His religion moved with each movement of his body and in every hour of his life. Mrs. Hannah H. Waterman is a hearty, well-preserved lady and still resides at Sutherland. She passed through all those rugged experiences in a pioneer country.


On the occasion of that visit the writer had his horses fed in the first building ever erected in the county, built in July, 1856, a log building, in size eighteen by twenty-two feet, which was used as the first home until their second and better house was built in 1860, and wherein they lived for twenty seven years, and which was destroyed by fire in 1887. At the time of the writer's visit in 1887 they were temporarily living in the third house erected in the county, being built as a tenant house for "Old Dutch" Fred Feldman, who was his tenant. They had for years used it as a storehouse and for machinery. This building, so ancient, was in 1887 settled considerably into the ground and was situated on a little branch or spring brook of the Little Sioux river. Later on in this year of 1887 they built a fine, new, commodious, two-story frame residence, on the same ground occupied by the older home destroyed by fire. This residence is one quarter of a mile south of the mouth of Waterman creek, or river, which bears his name, and one half mile southeast of the old iron bridge, built in 1872 and which until 1897 spanned the Little Sioux river.
Mrs. Waterman pitifully referred to the loss of their home, the "old home," that had been theirs for twenty-seven years, and excused the meager household accommodations they had saved from the fire, and had not yet had time to replenish. The writer's remark to her that "fires did not always leave even millionaires in the most desirable positions in life," placed all in a good mood.
The only natural timber of any consequence in the county being on the Waterman and Little Sioux, in the vicinity of his claim and on his claim, furnished sufficient material for his log house, eighteen by twenty-two feet, which was later used as a stable as stated.
Mr. and Mrs. Waterman arrived in O'Brien county with two yoke of oxen, a wagon and household goods. As autumn was near at hand, they realized that winter was not far in the rear, and they were without food except the prospect of game, and possessed but a small amount of money.


Mr. Waterman started his hired hand, a one-armed Dutchman, to Fort Dodge, with instructions to purchase five hundred weight of flour and two hundred weight of meal. Sad were the tidings to the ears of Mr. and Mrs. Waterman, as the hired man, on his return, informed them that all he could procure was a few hundred weight of flour. Trappers, stragglers, bands of Indians through the country, and occasionally an emigrant like himself, going somewhere west, soon made inroads on the flour.


In December, 1856, this one-armed Dutchman was again detailed with the two yoke of oxen to go southwest in search of more provisions. This time he went as far as Shelby county, traversing what is now Cherokee, Ida and Crawford counties. A severe winter set in, snow first falling in great quantity, which continued to increase until everything was enveloped, after which the weather became intensely cold. The one-armed man found himself powerless to return, snow-bound in a strange country, with two yoke of cattle looking to him and his one arm for support. He did not, because he could not, return until spring. While putting in the winter in Shelby county he kept his oxen (all four) alive by digging corn from the stalks out in the snow, doing this work, remember, with but one arm. After Dutchy had dug corn all the winter to keep the four oxen alive, the owner of the corn took the best pair of oxen as pay for the corn, besides getting Dutchy's work for nothing. Dutchy returned, as stated, toward spring, minus one yoke of oxen and the hair on the oxen he brought back was turned the wrong way, not in very good condition for opening up a new farm.
In the meantime a family by the name of Black was burned out down in Cherokee county and Mrs. Black and her child were brought up to Mrs. Waterman's on a hand sled, and they had to feed the woman, the child and those who brought them to their house for some days. The Black family literally lived in the snow banks four or five days, in their desperate effort to reach Mr. Waterman's house, where they were heartily welcomed and made as comfortable as possible. All this preyed on the small stock of provisions. Mr. Waterman's family subsisted for six weeks, during that winter, on beef, except a small allowance of flour Mrs. Waterman reserved for her babe.


In addition to all these troubles, they must also undergo an experience with the Indians. The first Sunday after they arrived in the county, a band


of five Indians visited them and were very friendly. Numerous other friendly dealings with the Indians followed. Sometime in February, 1857, the Indians seemed to be somewhat scattered and roamed down the river from Minnesota where they lived. Many of the bands visited Mr. Waterman on very friendly terms and paid for everything. They said they would not beg, had plenty of money, and many of them showed Mr. Waterman several hundred dollars in gold, saying, "We got heap money, too much money."
It appears that when these Indians had arrived down the river at Smithland in Monona county, or near there, they had coralled a number of elk in the bend of the river and killed the whole herd. Some of these Indians (Sioux) had, in the past, perpetrated stealings of corn, pigs, etc., greatly to the annoyance of the settlers. General Harvey had notified the Indians to keep off the lands belonging to the settlers. Mr. Waterman thinks there were about sixty armed Indians in the whole band. By some means the whites at Smithland and in that vicinity took possession of all their guns, and the Indians were allowed to camp near town. The Smithland people aver that they intended to set them across the river in the morning, and return their guns to them. But in the middle of the night a boy rode into the Indian camp with the story that General Harvey was coming and right on hand. They stampeded like so many wild devils, leaving guns, dead elk and everything. The next day they ascertained that General Harvey was nowhere near and concluded that it was a put-up job to beat them out of their guns and game. It was too late for the Smithland people to prove that they were going to return the guns.
The father-in-law of J.L.E. Peck, George H. Wilkinson, who lived for many years in Primghar, was in Smithland just after this incident occurred in 1857. The people of Smithland, says Mr. Wilkinson, at that time conceded that Smith, the founder of the town, had acted rashly, and that the act of the Smithland people, or those in charge, was wrong.
Of course these Indians at once became hostile. At this crisis the settlers dared not return the guns. This left the Indians in the dead of winter without guns or provisions. They started for their home in Minnesota and the farther they proceeded the more angry and hostile they became.
At first they commenced stealing, and then to take guns from the settlers.
On their return from Smithland, Mr. Waterman told the writer, "Seven big strapping Sioux bucks stopped at my house; they were so tall I had to look up at them." These same Indians had been to his house before, and very friendly, but this time they were ugly. They introduced themselves by rushing into the house and reciting the Smithland affair and a harangue about


the "bad white men" down there. They stalked into the house and began stealing. Six of them had guns they said they had taken from settlers. They took combs, files, pocket compass, Mr. Waterman's only white shirt, scissors, and, in brief, all they could lay hands on, in value to forty or fifty dollars. They next proposed to take his gun. Dutchy had not yet returned from his trip southwest for provisions and his gun was to his mind the big half he had. Mr. Waterman showed resistance, when one of the bucks, Mr. Waterman says, "struck me in the back with a squaw hatchet. I had a long scuffle with one of them which was terminated by the other bucks, except one, leveling their guns at me and firing, but their guns fortunately were loaded only with power, except a young buck's gun, which he fired into the ceiling where the bullet lodged. I am satisfied they only intended to frighten me, but they got my gun just the same. After this little introductory was over, they quieted down to quite an extent. Then they commenced to banter me on the proposition to sell the gun back to me. They finally agreed on two dollars and fifty cents and I handed over my last money. Then they left."
This same band of Indians was next heard of in the vicinity of Peterson, three and one-half miles up the river from Mr. Waterman's, where they committed other and similar outrages, leaving there for the scene of that terrible massacre in the vicinity of Spirit and Okoboji lakes, thence on to still greater outrages in Minnesota. It is quite probable, had Mr. Waterman's home been just a little further on, that, in their anger as they proceeded, he would have met the Spirit Lake results.
While a little outside the historic facts in O'Brien county, yet, as these Indians were at Mr. Waterman's just the second day before the massacre, it is proper that a brief statement of that awful affair should be given. This massacre commenced at the home of R. Gardner, on the southwest bank of West Okoboji, on the morning of March 8, 1857, but a few days after the unfortunate Smithland affair. Mr. Gardner and family were at breakfast. An Indian entered and was given a place at the table. Soon others entered and were given places also. They all at first pretended friendship. They were treated kindly and shared the hospitality of Mr. Gardner's home. After a little time they began to be overbearing and demanded ammunition, together with other articles. They remained at Mr. Gardner's some hours and when they left they took his cattle with them. Toward evening Mr. Gardner ventured from home for the purpose of ascertaining the true situation of affairs. Below we give the words of Abbie Sharp Gardner, as contained in her history of the massacre, a history of three hundred and twelve


pages: "Father hastily returned, saying, 'Nine Indians are coming, now only a short distance from the house, and we are all doomed to die.' They entered the house and demanded more flour, and as father turned to get them what remained of our scanty store, they shot him through the heart, while other Indians instantly turned upon mother and Mrs. Luce, seized them by the arms and beat them over the heads with the butts of their guns, then dragged them out doors, and killed them in the most cruel and shocking manner." The entire family were butchered, except the author of the history, who was taken captive and retained for many months, the full particulars of which are given in her account above referred to.
Later on, in 1895, the Legislature made an appropriation of five thousand dollars to erect a monument, which was built, commemorative of the massacre. It is a fine granite shaft, fifty-five feet in height, with proper inscriptions. The dedicatory services were held on the lake and on the spot in the summer of 1896, and were attended by the writer hereof. Citizens from all over the state were there. During the several succeeding days the bones of forty-six of the victims who suffered the same fate were gathered from up and down the lake. These dreadful massacres produced numerous scares in O'Brien county. At one time a mere flock of sandhill cranes caused the scare. At another time a herd of hogs frightened a whole neighborhood, and at another a drove of cattle. In fact, it was the fear produced by that real calamity, rather than the scares themselves.


It takes courage to say good-bye. Mr. Waterman said good-bye in New York to come west. Thousands have done likewise. Charles Dickens tells us that many of us, when we fear to say good-bye, will remark to some friend, "I will see you again," when they know within themselves that that very remark is the real good-bye. In 1862, when, with six covered wagons, the family, with others, started from the old Eastern home, the little five year-old brother of the writer had said the fond farewells to all the relatives, and then at last to grandmother, and the writer lay down in the bottom of the covered wagon, and looked back at grandmother as long as she could be seen, and past the turn in the road. When still several weeks on the road, and the day's travel seemed tedious and the horses were tired, this little fellow broke out, "Usses left usses grandma, but usses hasn't left usses selves." The grit that could say good-bye was on hand to do and dare‐yes, on hand ready to advance to the front of the stage in a new country and do


his part. That quality has made this country strong. It produced grit and courage to meet the emergency. It has also done one other thing in every community in the West, not only for O'Brien county, but all over the United States. It has furnished to every county in the country the combined brain power and resourcefulness from everywhere else on earth. Thus O'Brien county has its Germans, Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Hollanders, Irish, English, Scotch, French, and in fact, people from every state in the Union, and all together have added strength and made up that combined forty-horsepower of character that has made this a great, great country.


We would not be true to the history of the county did we not give both the sunshine and shadow, its "darkest Africa" period as well as its automobile age. O'Brien county has had its share. Indeed, perhaps a county would not rise to its best level, like individuals, unless it had to overcome the plagues of Egypt, so to speak.


On the 30th day of May, 1857, occurred the birth of the first white child in the county, Anna Waterman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hannibal H. Waterman. She was the second white child born in the three counties of Clay, Buena Vista and O'Brien. Eleven children in all were born to Mr. and Mrs. Waterman. Anna Waterman was married to D. W. Kinyon and they moved to Woodbine, Iowa, where, later, after a few days' illness, she departed this life, leaving her husband and the three children.
Mr. and Mrs. Waterman were members of the Methodist Episcopal church, he uniting at the age of seventeen. He was very emphatic in his religious views and quoted much Scripture, carrying the same out in his devotions, and he was much of an exhorter in his religion. He believed that all things were ordered from on high during all these years for his good.
The following additional statements were written down in full and read to him by the writer at the time, to which he assented.


About the last month of 1859, one James W. Bosler, a short man of sandy complexion, came up into this country from Sioux City and proposed


to organize a county. Bosler achieved a later fame with J. W. Dorsey, ex-United States senator, in the "Star Route" frauds and operating, with Dorsey, an extensive cattle ranch in New Mexico.
The very idea of organizing a county for one man's benefit was preposterous. When Mr. Waterman was interviewed by Bosler concerning the matter he replied: "I am farming and know nothing about organizing." Bosler assured him that he could have the choice of the county offices and it would be well not to make any objections. Bosler then departed. But in a short time Mr. Waterman ascertained that this man Bosler originally came from Pennsylvania, and that others were coming from Sioux City for the purpose of organizing.


Early in February, 1860, Bosler, with seven or eight others, arrived, among them I. C. Furber, Henry C. Tiffey and Archibald Murray, who said an election would be held February 6, 1860. Two or three of the number left for Sioux City before the day appointed for the election arrived. The day arrived and the election was held in Mr. Waterman's house. The ballot box consisted of a hat and the total number of votes polled were seven, only five of which pretended to belong to either Woodbury or O'Brien county. Two votes were borrowed, one from Buena Vista and one from Clay county, James A. Gleason from the former and a Mr. Freeney from the latter. Mr. Waterman says both men were from Clay county, but the record says Gleason was from Buena Vista. They all voted. Mr. Waterman was generously elected, as assured by Bosler, to the office of treasurer, recorder and superintendent of schools. These unusual doings, said Mr. Waterman, will explain the indebtedness of the county.
Soon after this election the old log court house was built directly in front of Mr. Waterman's house and is the "temporary office" the record speaks of as built by Archibald Murray for the county judge. I.C. Furber, Archibald Murray, L. McClelland and H. C. Tiffey boarded with Mr. Waterman the remainder of the winter.


Everything went pleasantly with this Sioux City crowd until in the summer of 1860, when John H. Cofer, Charles C. Smeltzer and one Messervey, hearing of the lucrative pasture the Sioux City fellows were enjoying,


came up from Fort Dodge with about a dozen men. Gofer conveyed the idea to Mr. Waterman that they were actual settlers and would immediately proceed to the opening up of farms, which would be the means of bringing many other settlers into the county. By this time, says Mr. Waterman, "I began to perceive that Bosler was a shrewd, far-seeing man, whose chief mission evidently was to procure the dollars. Myself and family welcomed Cofer, or the Fort Dodge crowd, as actual newcomers and settlers. A brisk contest and feud at once sprung up between these Sioux City and Fort Dodge crowds, the latter being in the majority, and a fight was on for supremacy. I sided with Cofer because I thought he was here for actual settlement. My course enraged the Sioux City crowd against me. This contest between these factions was so fierce for a time that I feared an actual physical combat. The two factions finally compromised, as necessarily they must. One of the conditions of this compromise was the exaction by the Sioux City crowd that I must get out and keep out of public matters. Evidently I was not what they wanted."


"A short time after this I was notified from Sioux City that my land was jumped by one Charles E. Hedges, and that H. C. Tiffey, Bosler and Furber were the instigators of the scheme. This report was soon confirmed. It was not long before I was waited upon by this trio of gentlemen, who took it upon themselves to inform me that they would let me have my land back and release the contest provided I would resign the county offices I held. What else could I do? To be sure there was plenty of land, but there were my improvements. I did resign December 11, 1860, as the records show." The abstract of title on Mr. Waterman's land also shows that Charles E. Hedges was so connected with same and that they made the lever strong enough to make him be good.
"I think," says Mrs. Waterman, emphatically, "that that was a good sized price to get our own land back, that is the idea of it." Mr. Waterman added, with much emphasis and earnestness, "I have never been in half the danger, or suffered so much from the Indians, as from the whites." Mr. Waterman added that they were all rebel sympathizers and of Southern principles, and that H C. Tiffey was a Virginian, a speculator and Southern gentleman, James Bosler, though from Pennsylvania, was a rebel, as likewise was Furber, though the latter was from Massachusetts. John R. Pumphrey was also from Virginia, though he served in the Union army for a short time. At one election during the war there were only two Republican


votes cast in the three counties. In fact, these new states during the war were dodging places for many rebels and copperheads.
Mr. Waterman was exceeding" emphatic "that there were some mighty mean white men in this world." Mr. 'Waterman further went on to say:
"I have never read over that earliest record, but I am satisfied from what I have heard that it contains entries to which I never consented, and that funds were drawn in my name by those fellows that I never knew of or realized except to my proper amount. I attended to my farm, and H. C. Tiffey did the office work; I knew but little about it, and was forced out in the same year in order to get my land back. The record says. I think, "that Bosler took my place," but he did not; he sent his clerk, whose name was Stuart, up from Sioux City to do the work and I thought for years that Stuart was the official." Henry C. Tiffey died at Fort Dodge about 1871.
Waterman says that the "eighteen-foot square court house" was in fact about fourteen by twenty feet in size. And, also, that that log court house was used on his farm for a year and six months and that one Moses Lewis also lived in it as a residence. Moses Lewis committed suicide some years ago at Fort Dodge. Mr. Waterman continued:
"They tried to purchase forty acres of me for a county seat, but I had had all the experience with them in the land business I cared for." Land was finally bought of H. C. Tiffey and then it was that O'Brien county was born. The old log court house was then moved to old O'Brien and later on used as a school house and residence, and in 1868-1869 by Bostwick and R. G. Allen as a blacksmith shop, and still later by W. C. Green and Lem C. Green as a stable. Meantime Waterman built the then new house (the one that was destroyed by fire in 1887) for the Cofer family. Then all but Mr. Waterman and family moved to Old O'Brien.
Mrs. Hannah H. Waterman taught the first school, with three scholars enrolled. But before the fall term was taught in 1860, the new magnate, Cofer, preferred that his daughter should teach, and she followed, with seven scholars.
Right here the reader will no doubt be pleased to know that Bosler was, once at least, the loser, as the following will show: "While the log court house was being built, a work bench sat in front. Bosler arrived from Sioux City on horse back. Pie tied his horse to the work bench and, while Bosler was absent for a few minutes, some Indians sneaked up and stole the horse. This was the last ever seen of Bosler's four footed propeller.
"About this same period Jacob Kirchner erected the first school house,


a frame building, wherein John R. Pumphrey first resided after he was married. In those days they had what they called 'swamp land goods' (see item entitled Swamp Lands), and traded warrants for them. Tiffey bought some second-hand goods, and presented every woman in the county with a new dress. Mrs. Waterman was also presented with a whole box of goods from Tiffey. All our trading before W. C. Green opened his store was done at Sioux City and Fort Dodge. We would send our boarders to market for us in trips made by them.
"I.C. Furber remained in the county only two years, and before he departed expressed himself as being ashamed of the manner in which he jumped my land. 1 always considered Furber, at heart, a good meaning man. I first met Rouse B. Crego (later county treasurer) at a camp meeting near Smithland. I could never understand Crego. He was part of the time a very bad man, and part of the time a Methodist preacher. He could conduct a good-sized drunk or a revival meeting with the same energy.


"The first actual homestead entry that was maintained was by Archibald Murray. A man by the name of Zolier, a German, however, had had his warrant on the land first, namely on the west half of the southwest quarter of section 14, township 94, range 39. I showed it to him and located him, but he soon got discouraged, folded his tent and departed. I then showed it to D. W. Inman, and he decided to take it. I wanted settlers, but these officials at Old O'Brien didn't want any." The reader may judge why. Archibald Murray hastened to enter it. His object was to prevent Inman from settling. The evidence appeared from various sources that no settlers were desired by these Old O'Brien officials. The Inmans then went up into what is now Grant township and located, as the Grant list will show. These brothers, Daniel W. Inman and Chester W. Inman (later county treasurer), were the first legitimate settlers in O'Brien county after Hannibal Waterman and Old Dutch Fred, though Henry F. Smith and Ed T. Parker arrived about the same time, or in 1868. Moses Lewis, H. C. Tiffey and Archibald Murray each did a little gentleman farming close to town, or, as Mrs. Waterman said, "Mrs. Lewis and her boy done it."


"I am der peoples. Der rest all be officers. Don't it?" Fred Feldman, or Old Dutch Fred, entered and homesteaded the west half of the north-


west quarter of section 34, township 94, range 39. (James H. Scott. however, got the United States patent.) Mr. Waterman built a tenement house, Dutch Fred plastered it and rented Waterman's farm. But little is known of his history. He told Mrs. Waterman he had deserted from the German army and was living a secluded life to escape the punishment of death. His "frau" would not follow him to so wild a country. His quaint expression, "I am der peoples und der rest he de officers," was used sarcastically by the newer settlers referring to the hunch of looters then in office, and whom each new voter desired to root out. He died in 1873 with the request that he be buried by the side of his friend, Archibald Murray. Sentimental requests in a new country are not always fulfilled. Poor Old Dutch Fred, who had lived a hermit life, far from wife, home and fatherland, to escape King William's wrath, could not enforce his request. Old Dutch Fred, who would shake his ragged clothes, and laugh, "dese be boor dines mit clothes, but Old Dutch Fredt be under here und his heart beat shust like udder mans," lies buried in a lonely grave on his homestead claim, unmarked and soon, perhaps, unknown.


Mr. Waterman had pre-empted his land. He was entitled to a homestead. He made an entry on the northwest quarter of section 22, township 95, range 40, Highland township, and got it under way, when his land was jumped again. A woman living on that section heard of it and, taking her child in her arms, walked thirteen miles to inform him of what was going on. That woman was Henrietta Richardson, wife of John Richardson, later residents for many years of both Primghar and Sanborn. Mr. Waterman was too late and lost his land, but remembered with gratitude this arduous effort of kindness on the part of Mrs. Richardson. In justice to Mrs. Catrina Dobricka, the patentee, it may be said it was not her doings. Again Mr. Waterman concluded that this is a wicked world and that the whites can "out-devil" the "Injuns."


It will thus be seen from the above narrative of Mr. Waterman and from other items in this history that up to 1869 O'Brien county was in a complete state of irresponsibility. She was an orphan without a guardian, a ship, though sound, whose helmsmen and crew were in the hold playing


hookey with the cargo, expecting to let her float as best she might as soon as they had had their fill. Their only passenger, Mr. Waterman, could but look on. It was as if the United States government should have organized the state of Iowa, with ninety-nine men, one man for each county. The record list of the old homesteaders shows that they nearly all came in 1870, 1871 and 1872. They began to stop such doings as soon as they could get control, and would have gotten control sooner had it not been for the grasshopper scourge. O'Brien county has been much abused for these doings, but, as is seen, there were none to say nay or object. The main body of the debt was created the first four or five years. The looters during that period had the majority. It can be seen from the one item of H. C. Tiffey making presents of so many dresses and goods that the bunch were nursing their job, and postponing the fatal day when their doings would be ended by the votes of an exasperated people, as was later done.

O'Brien County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project