Iowa is a prairie state. O'Rrien county was distinctly prairie. The grand sight of a broad prairie expanse is never to be witnessed again by O'Brien county people. The now large groves, the fences, the long lines of trees along the road sides, the tilled lands, the buildings and farm yards, the straight and squared up roads, the builded towns, the lines of railroads and telegraph lines and poles, the rural telephone lines, and many other items have each contributed to eliminate much of the idea and appearance of the original prairie.
Twenty-five miles of continuous waving prairie grass, from eight inches to four feet, and even five feet in height, solid hay so to speak, was in fact the grand sight as the original old settler saw it. In various places on this broad expanse of prairie was then often seen, with the sweep of the eye, five hundred to fifteen hundrd head of cattle grazing on nature's wild pastureage, under one management of herdsmen. Millions of sweet williams, tiger lilies and other prairie flowers were like diamonds in the grass. No sweeter tame strawberries ever grew than the wild prairie variety. No boy or girl ever paid or dropped a cent into a slot machine for purer, healthier or better tasting gum than that boy gathered on the big rozin weed stalks, two varieties, high and low in height, growing in every slough. This grass formed and furnished not only free hay to the settlers, but was made into hay twists and served as fuel, which the poverty of the settlers could not have supplied with coal. For sundry years also large haying companies camped out in tents, and cut hundreds of acres, yea, thousands of acres, and baled and shipped it to Chicago and the East. Angling roads, proving that a straight line was the shortest distance between two points, ran everywhere. The long slough grass was used to stuff in between two rows of posts, with willow strips nailed thereon, and made into warm hay barns and sheds. Even roofs were thatched with it. The prairie grass seemed to make a tough, hardy sod, hard (12)


to subdue in the first crop, or even for several crops, but was an utter failure to propagate itself. It had no seed. It moved out and grew from the roots. When once a plat of prairie sod, whether a rod square or five hundred acres, was broken or plowed up it never reestablished itself. It was forever done. Like Lo, the poor Indian, it could not stand civilization.
While mirages are still seen in the county, yet not so prominent as when the sun shone on a large expanse of the dead brown prairie grass in the fall of the year, producing those false rays or lines of light, producing an object in the distance at a higher elevation, sort of lifted up, in a hazy light cloud, as it were. For instance, in the early days Sheldon and Alton have been distinctly seen at Primghar, and vice versa, elevated in appearance in this way.
Another singular false appearance was often commented on when one viewed a whole township of wild, rolling, waving prairie grass, namely, that each way the eye gazed, it looked up hill. The rolling grass, with the sun shining and wind blowing, gave it all the appearance of a billowy, rolling sea of waxes. Before Omega and Hartley townships were settled, those broad expanses of rolling prairie grass were often referred to as "Over in the Great Beyond."
Another gruesome and awful sight, never again to be seen in the county, was in the fall when this same great expanse of thousands of acres of waving grass was ripened and dead, and the fires had burned it over, all looking much like the judgment day was at hand, and that the Good Father had actuallv set fire to the whole thing and then had run off and left his mighty works to take care of themselves. But the next spring the "Green grass grew all round, all round."


Land is the basis of wealth. This is especially true in agricultural Iowa. In O'Brien county it is especially true even with an Iowa measurement. Some other counties in Iowa have coal and lead and other items to give variety. In this county it is all exclusively farming. Its variety lays in its large numbers of crop and farm products. All estimates and enterprises in the county must hark back to the land. Everybody in the county must deal with the farmer or his land, and that direct. Interest on money went down as land went up. Prior to 1885 practically all land loans were ten per cent. From 1886 to 1896 they were eight, then went down to seven, then six, now five per cent. Prior to 1880 loans on land were only made in sums of five hundred dollars on a quarter. In 1890 loans of two thousand five hundred dollars were made, in 1900 from three thousand to four thousand dollars,


now eight thousand dollars to twelve thousand dollars, when needed. The writer hereof bought his first eighty acres of land in Highland township at two dollars and eighty cents per acre in 1879, which tract is now worth one hundred and fifty dollars per acre. In 1880 Herman Greve sold four thousand acres to George W. Schee for four dollars per acre. In 1877 Frank Teabout bought thirty-six hundred acres at two dollars per acre. As late as 1885 the writer and Mr. Schee together bought eight hundred acres for five dollars per acre, all now worth one hundred and fifty dollars per acre, though they in fact sold it all two years later at about twelve dollars per acre. As late as 1890 the expression was made many times by citizens that if "land ever reaches twenty-five dollars per acre I am going to sell." As late as 1902 it was selling from sixty dollars to seventy dollars. Its greatest bound has been during the past ten years, and even more true in the last five years, practicallv doubling in the last five to six years. The expression of Jurgen Renken, of Sheldon, as early as 1890, calling his land the Garden of Eden, was then treated not as a joke, but with a smile. But it now seems well settled that O'Brien county land (and nine-tenths of it is all the same in quality) is destined to command the top of most of the best counties anywhere in the country. Its crops, rains and results have been so uniform during a period of forty years that the fact is established. Actual sales verify it.


O'Brien county has only two streams that rise to the dignity of rivers. The Little Sioux river runs through the very southeast corner of the county, meandering through about five sections of land. Its adjacent lands show up some hills that might be called bluff's, and provides rough pasture, being practically the only untillable acres in the county. It flows into the Missouri. This river sported a ferry boat for several years about 1870, and approached that near to furnishing the county with a maritime port of entry. That, however, was only a part of the gaiety of its earliest officials. The Ocheyedan river cuts through section 1 only, in the very northeast corner of Hartley township and the county. In breadth of river bottom or valley it might be taken for a much larger stream, from bank to bank of outlying hill in many places exceeding a mile. The mere stream itself, however, is no larger than many parts of the Waterman. The bed of the stream was in 1909 ditched and straightened under the drainage laws of Iowa, both Osceola and Clay counties joining. The Waterman runs north and south nearly the whole length of the county and empties into the Little Sioux near Waterman's ford.


It, with the township, was named for its first citizen, Hannibal H. Waterman. It is alternately called a creek and a river. It has some considerable bluffs down towards the Little Sioux. It traverses Hartley, Lincoln, Omega, Grant and Waterman townships. Mill creek runs through Center, Summit, Dale and Union townships and assumes respectable proportions before it reaches Cherokee, where it flows into the Little Sioux. The Floyd river flows through Franklin and Floyd townships in O'Brien county, while the Little Floyd river also courses through Franklin, runs close or into Floyd and across Carroll and joins the larger Floyd just west of Sheldon, and from this Floyd river the splendid water system of Sheldon is secured. The Floyd can hardly be dubbed a river for its size in O'Brien county, though it becomes quite a formidable river at Sioux City, where it empties into the Missouri. Dry run betrays its sometimes slackness in water supply in the bed of the stream itself, though the town of Primghar, in one of the few sand beds of the county on that stream, discovered that splendid natural filter for one of the best drinking water supplies of any town in the county. It flows through Center, Highland and Dale townships. Several lesser creeks in different townships flow into the streams named.


Three things have contributed to the hundreds of fine groves and parks now seen in the county. To plant a tree and see it grow is a natural desire. This becomes both poetry and prose when the eye looks over a treeless prairie expanse, or the intense sun calls for a shade, or a howling northwest wind demands a shelter, or the cook wants some stovewood.
However, there were two other prime causes that produced the actual grove in this and other counties in this part of Iowa. There was a federal law providing for tree claims and requiring the claimant of land in a new country to plant fourteen acres of trees on a quarter section, and to keep them growing in a thrifty condition for a given number of years. This produced many of our largest groves. Indeed, as practical farming developed, and land has advanced to now one hundred and fifty dollars per acre, a farmer cannot afford to devote that much high priced land to a grove.
There has been for forty years and more a state law of Iowa, passed as an encouragement to tree planting, permitting a deduction of one hundred dollars valuation for taxation purposes for each acre of trees thus planted, if kept in healthy, thrifty condition for a period of ten successive years. As land is now valued so high, it would not deduct enough to be an incentive.


But when land during this tree planting period from 1874 to 1886, was only worth about sixteen dollars per acre and the taxable value at about four dollars per acre, it can be figured that from four to five acres of trees would deduct half the taxes on a quarter section of land, and this grove would be about the right size for other purposes.
One great handicap was to get the trees at all, much less a variety. Tree agents could sell them, but the people in those times had no money to pay a price for a choice tree variety. The one available tree was the later-on almost despised Cottonwood. These little slips, from a foot to three feet high, grew on the sand bars along the Missouri river by the hundreds of thousands and could be pulled up by the hand. Adam Towberman, a homesteader, made many trips to Sioux City and, with light wagon, could bring back fifty to a hundred thousand trees. He sold them from two to eight dollars per thousand. Soft maple slips were likewise procured, though more often maple seed by the bushel was procured and the little trees grown from the seed. White willow cuttings were planted also. Many little trees were actually planted in the tough unsubdued sod. It was then much of a public question and even debated in the lyceums and farmers' institutes. Others more fortunate procured choice varieties of young trees from the old homes in the East or from the nurseries, as ash, hard and silver maples, birch, chestnut, walnut, elm, the evergreens and other trees. In this year 1914 fully half of these cottonwood trees thus planted have been cut down, as likewise mamwillow groves. The long lines of cottonwood and willow trees along the road sides sapped too much high priced land. During those years it was the duty of the county auditor to establish these tree claims for taxation purposes on the tax list. George W. Schee and J.L.E. Peck were the auditors during the eight main years of this tree planting and claims for trees, namely, during the years 1876 to 1884. But as a result these fine groves were secured, giving so comforting a relief to the appearance of the country and to the homes, as likewise serving the people in many public gatherings.


In the first place, for thousands of years, it raised the luxurious prairie grasses. A soil that can produce such growths as were originally seen on the prairies of O'Brien county possesses the strength to grow any thing on earth corresponding to this latitude.
O'Brien county is proud of its mud, mud that is mud, the rich black loam stuff, the mud that smears the clothes and hands, the mud that hogs root up,


the mud that raises corn. While corn is king and chief, it is not a one-crop country, but is an all-around-crop country.
This rich black loam soil can grow weeds spelled in capital letters, It may not be creditable to a gardener or a farmer to find that garden or farm a weed patch. But it is creditable to a soil that it has the strength and durability to grow weeds, weeds, and still more weeds, year after year. O'Brien county is even proud of its weeds, its rank weeds, its great big weeds, three feet, four feet, five feet, six feet, as tall as a man, as tall as the best crops, all but as tall as the tops of King Corn. Its people are proud of both King Corn and King Weed.

"Where grows the lusty great big weed.
There man can safely plant his seed."

It is not the big weed that O'Brien county people frown upon, but rather upon the man who will slovenly let them grow to the extent of a weed crop. The historic fact, however, remains that our lands raise much more corn per acre than twenty years ago. Indeed up to as late as 1880 it was discussed by our own people whether in fact it was a corn country. It is the corn fact, long now established, that has added its now high price and value. These higher prices reached have produced also intense and better farming.
But O'Brien county has the man that scours the plow, that kills the weed, that saves the corn, that feeds the hog, that buys more land, that raises the grass, that feeds the sheep, that grows the wool, that clothes the kid, that feeds the horse, that pulls the plow, that plows the corn, that feeds the steer, that makes the meat, that sells for the cash, that buys the "House that Jack Built."
In other words, O'Brien county is strictly agricultural; being all the time cow, all the time steer, all the time horse, all the time hog, all the time butter and eggs, sometimes of everything, plenty to eat. no famines, no hunger, plenty all the time and to spare.


Did we ever grasp the full meaning and extent of that word or phrase as applied to O'Brien county? Do we fully measure it? That not only all the eggs are not in one basket, but that eggs are but one item in the basket, or, even still broader, only one of the items in the half hundred baskets. How many sections of country or communities are dependent on practically one item as an outlook for their families? When that fails, all fails. It may be


cotton. It may be rice and only rice. It may be a syndicate mill. When the mill stops, work stops. It may be some immense factory plant, with a strike on, when, after that, the judgment. It may be a rubber plantation or an all-fruit community, or a single fruit specialty. So many places it is one or none.
But in O'Brien county how different? A goodly number of hogs, it is true, may die. It is a loss. But the same disease will not ordinarily take off a bunch of horses or sheep at same time. One steer may die, but not usually a whole car load. Oats may be short, but corn is not dependable on the same days of growth or rain as the oat crop.
O'Brien county happily belongs to that part of the surface of the earth where its people are the chefs of the earth. They feed the world, the communities comparing to these situations. In doing this, its people are well fed themselves. Verily its eggs are not all in the same basket.
The following are among its egg baskets, not merely nominal egg baskets, but full-up baskets that bring the cash: Wheat, flax, blue grass, turnips, peas, vegetables, butter, cream, oats, millet, timothy, beets, tomatoes, fruits, milk, corn, hay, alfalfa, parsnips, cucumbers, flowers, cherries, rye, pasture, straw, carrots, melons, gardens, eggs, plums, barley, clover, corn cobs, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, cheese; Little Fillers—Horses, chickens, peacocks, cattle, ducks, pigeons, hogs, geese, bees, sheep, turkeys, mules, guinea fowls, farm labor, town avocations, trees for wood, railroad labor, rise in value of lands. These are all items not merely that can possibly be raised, but are found in the total number on practically two-thirds of our farms, as annual revenue producers.
The O'Brien county farmer safely sleeps on his bed of ease with the happy and secure thought that it seldom occurs that any considerable number of the above egg baskets are dependent on the same destructive storm or disaster, and never does it occur, or has it occurred (save in the one and only one grasshopper scourge in an early day, when the measure of crops was small), when either all, a half, or even a large number of same have been at such a risk.
Other countries have famines as historic incidents. O'Brien county has for thirty-five successive years had its regular crops in plenty as its annual item of history. This statement that all O'Brien county eggs are not in one basket becomes a truism and an established fact. These now nearly two score successive crops fixes this historic value. "To have and to hold in permanency and tenancy in common for all its people." Filled with plenty, here stands the Hope Box of O'Brien county.



O'Brien county is in a cold, yet temperate latitude. The forty-third parallel of north latitude passes east and west through the county, two miles south of Primghar, or two degrees or one hundred and forty miles south of midway between the equator and the North pole, the best part of the temperate zone. We have cold winters and often heavy snow. Of course it is cold. It tingles the fingers and the cheek. Comfortable houses are needed, and such buildings are found universally on the farms. Plenty of coal is necessary. Cold weather is healthy. It thickens the blood. Nature accommodates itself. The body adapts itself. It is a dry and not a damp cold, however, during its colder period. Cold puts vim into people. It makes them hustle, walk faster and work harder, and the work brings results. It generates activity and energy in both man and the soil. It heaves it up and starts it moving. It reorganizes its parts. The soil doesn't lay dead still all winter as in the southern climates. Its melted snows in the spring are equal to rains. The snow banks and snow contain a sediment or quality even superior to rain. Freezing and rain and snow are the farmers' best hired hands. Our people say, let it freeze; simply hustle and keep from freezing. Everybody has his heavy overcoat for driving, and when working it is not needed.


In the first place, the county is uniform in its shape, a perfect square, twenty-four miles each way. Its sixteen townships are each uniform in size, six miles square. Possibly we should make the exception that the city limits of Sheldon have been made a township known as Sheldon township. This was done that it might always have two justices of the peace within its corporate limits. Its highways also are practically uniform, namely nine-tenths of its road mileage runs east and west and north and south, and on section lines. The percentage of irregular roads is very small. This uniformity is made possible by reason of its being uniform in so many other respects. It is uniform in its topography. In the main it is a level county. It is gently rolling, but these gentle rolls or undulations are quite similar in size throughout the county. Its original prairie conditions were also uniform. The same prairie grass covered all its surface. Its surveys and boundary lines between land owners are in the main uniform straight lines. It has no meandering boundary lines. Its very soil is equally uniform and of about the same quality, being all a rich, black loam. The same prairie growths and


grass for thousands oi years could produce none other than a uniform soil. Its underpinnings, or subsoils, are likewise of universal sameness, a clay slightly mixed with sand, that allows the rains and water to go down and up. These subsoils, or filtered underpinnings, form a continuous strata and reservoir for nature's supply of the purest water, and which renders the crops so uniform in both quality and quantity. While this strip or that may at times get a larger supply of water than another, yet inasmuch as there are such a variety of crops maturing at different seasons of the year, it is true to the fact that never in fifty years will these dry streaks for a month hit all the crops of the year. As a round up each year, taken separately, the crops are well distributed from farm to farm. As a result O'Brien county has never had a famine. Resulting from this sameness, it's drainage in regularity and with scarcely a damage, follows. It does not have monster ditches to be dug like in many other counties, with heavy assessments to be levied for a seven-year period, making a lien equal to a mortgage. In the whole period of the county it has only had one county ditch, and that cutting across one single section of land, in the very corner section of the county, at the northeast corner, in straightening out the Ocheyedan river, where it cuts across that one section of land. Both Osceola and Clay counties are burdened with many miles of this ditch. In many counties, even in quite uniform Iowa, these big ditches become very much of a burden. O'Brien county drainage is limited to mild tiling, small in comparison. The land is all so very much alike in all its qualities and conditions that each eighty or quarter section is able to amply drain itself. Even each small farmer is king and manager of his own little farm and kingdom. In many extremely flat counties, even in Iowa, and more markedly in the extremely flat portions of northern Minnesota, the drainage of any one farm is so dependent on a cooperative drainage of a whole township or more that the small farmer is swallowed up in the swim and drowned out. and thereby ceases to be a fullgrown director of his own affairs. Neighbors, it is true must yield to each other in the natural accommodations of drainage from little into big tile and paying the difference as will accomplish the movements of the surface waters and at same time keep every foot of soil in cultivation. But in O'Brien county this has been such a mild question that actual litigations relating to same in the whole period of the county could be counted on the fingers of one hand. This tiling becomes simply a part of ordinary farming. As a further result, its wells, both for the farm houses and for stock, are both uniform in the fact that ample water is found on every farm and can be secured in the main on all parts of the farms, and at quite uniform and reasonable


depths. Digging wells simply involves in most cases the mere value of labor in the digging. It is not a big problem, as in many states. The quality of all water in its wells follows suit with the other uniformities. Having no minerals or oils of any kind in the county, the water is free from acids or alkalis. It boundary lines all being straight, it follows that its fields for this and that crop are or may be made in square form or at least in parallel proportions. There are but few point rows in the corn. The wire stretcher on the corn planter can quite generally be made the length of the full quarter section. Its very few little fringes of timber, limited indeed to but a few tracts down on the Waterman and Little Sioux, conduce to this. Very few farmers need to build even a culvert, much less a bridge for the mere farm accommodation. Two of its main railroads run almost a bee line east and west through the county and cut those farms in square lines. Its rain falls are quite uniform from year to year. There is much sameness also in that the whole energies of the people are devoted to agriculture. We practically have no factories. The nearest approach to a manufacturing idea would be the Big Four mills at Sheldon, employed in the manufacture of flour, but even that is distinctly agricultural. Its people are uniform also in this, that as a mass they all Americanize. Our foreigners are all of the agricultural idea, becoming at once a part of loyal America, and satisfied with O'Brien county conditions and prosperities. Its farms in size are well distributed. Its large farms or ranches, as we have seen, are scarce. It is not, perhaps, uniform as a one-crop country, but it is uniform in its variety of its farm crops and stock. On every farm, large or small, may be seen something of the countywide results, wheat, oats, corn, barley, vegetables, hay, pasture, farm homes, cattle, horses, hogs, sheep, a full line of farm machinery, with each farm and farm family sufficient unto itself. We have no frictional foreign elements in the county, or divisions of people that fail to assimilate or to become a mutual part of the common mass. Its school houses even, in the main, are two miles apart. Often we hear the expression that this and that road through the county, and this, too, for the whole twenty-four miles, is a school house road, so regularly are they built. Its children are also uniformly in the schools for the uniform school year of nine months, and therefore its people uniformly can read and write. Its people are uniformly of the white race. Two colored men only homesteaded in the county, and one other colored man resided for some years in the early period at Sheldon, but they, even, are long since gone. At this date. 1914, and for more than ten years not a single colored man has resided in the county, and this, too, not because they have been notified to remove or have been driven out, simply the question never


arises. The county positively has no race question, colored or otherwise. Its people all freely affiliate and intermingle on all public matters. The county has always been free from chronic feuds. It is the very opposite of Breathitt county, Kentucky. As a result its courts, during all the years, have been uniformly free from notable criminal trials. Its public and private life fill no place in head lines of the daily papers. It can truly be said that ninety five per cent of its people are independent and self-supporting within themselves and their own efforts. This is uniformity calling for a record mark. Its towns, its townships and its individuals, like the county, have practically rid themselves of the serious debts and conditions in this history recited as part of its early pioneer troubles. Often do we hear the remark, that when you look at or inspect one tract or quarter of land in O'Brien, you have seen it all. It has no sand dunes, or sand beds, of miles in extent, not one single case, and no extensive gravel pits, to make the farms or country spotted or scabby either in appearance or for use. It is all the "same black stuff," in truth and fact, as we hear so many times stated, not by the mere land agent, but the sober owners of the farm. This one uniformity has deceived some good O'Brien people, or their sons, in later years, in attempts to purchase cheaper lands in other states, where it is spotted in all those irregularities of sand and gravel, swamps and lakes, jagged hills and pot hole sloughs, with perhaps neither outlet nor inlet, as seen in many other counties. Neither do we find those long stretches of hard pan, stumpage, lack of wells and water, big ditches and other bad features in farming communities. This expression, "when you see one farm vou see it all," means much to O'Brien county. Probably there is not one county in fifty in the whole United States where uniformity in so many lines, and on nearly all agricultural lines, is so prominent. In result, its whole seventeen thousand people are uniformly contented.


While O'Brien county is not a fruit county in specialty, it has surprised its own people in this line. In the raising of corn, it was long discussed in the early years whether it would be a corn country or not, yet now we are in the midst of the great corn belt. Likewise with fruits, it was similarly discussed. It is this much of a definite success, that practically three-fourth of all the farms have bearing orchards of good size, which makes the test. The culture of fruits has not, however, reached the stage wherein shipment of fruit has been seriously an item. It has no lakes, rivers or other waters to temper the atmosphere or weather. Our quite rigorous winters limit the


fruits to the hardier varieties. The local towns as yet consume the entire output that can be spared by the farmers. However, this item as a farm revenue producer is no small matter. The home fruits sold in the local towns have a freshness that is not always secured in fruits shipped in. On public occasions in the county many varieties of fruits of the larger and smaller varieties are exhibited. The home fruits raised do this much, they add decisively to the daily bread of our people within themselves, and insure even in this item the independence of our people.


A lady who grew up from childhood on the prairies of Highland township handed us the following list of wild prairie flowers. There may be many others: Buttercup, blue bell, crocus, flox, golden rod, indigo flower, purple or prairie apple, shoe string, tiger lily, white prairie flower, sweet william, wild rose, lady slipper, violet. In the fringes of timber along the Waterman and Little Sioux there are also a few timber varieties.


The county has its full complement of rural free deliveries, telephones, cream stations, creameries, farmers' elevators and other organizations and facilities connected with farm life. There being ten towns well distributed in its territory where each of these modernisms may be found, it also follows that practically every farmer has access to each. Each town telephone exchange, large or small, now has direct connections with from five to fifteen farm phone lines and each town has from two to four rural free deliveries. The farm elevators, while they do not handle all the grain or sell all the coal, maintain competition.


The development of our public roads is a part of our county history. As time moves on this item becomes more important. The automobile and motorcycle and the movement of heavy machinery have each increased this importance. These new necessary movements prove that they should remain sixty-six feet wide. Yet how often do we hear it expressed that they should be reduced to forty feet, pointing out a few weeds at the side of the roads at the present time as a reason. Let the little items seen every day on any ten


miles of roads in the county give the answer. The farmer should be safe with his load of grain, as likewise the automobile man and transient.
We see automobiles everywhere, whirling on with momentum and speed, with flash lights to scare a horse, and human life on board, all at the mercy of the momentary emergency and of the driver who should have ample room to meet and dodge the other moving objects as he meets them. At one moment it is a horse and buggy, with a lady and a baby in her arms, who has dropped her lines. Next it is four o'clock, with a dozen school children on the highway ready to banter a dare with your auto or hitch on behind a wagon. Then the dare-devil motorcycle thunders by at sixty miles an hour. Just at that point in the road is a road grader with six horses and a half dozen men to pass, with tools strung along the road. A little further on is met a big modern traction engine, drawing a threshing outfit in three parts, one behind the other. Then of a sudden you see coming a big hay rack with thirty children out for a picnic. Then you pass a funeral procession, and all at once appears, out of a narrow lane between a row of willows, a couple loads of corn, with wagon beds three box high. Then all at once here comes the usual caravan and tribe of gypsies, with twenty horses, tied in bunches of four, with no block system to keep them on or off the track. Then you meet a farmer driving fifty fat steers to market, a bunch of sheep, a half dozen loads of hogs, then a well augur outfit, then fifty chickens, some guinea hens, twenty rapid moving ducks, and likely a fierce dog to race with the auto for fifty rods. The road tiling and drainage also needs space.
This sixty-foot road will all ultimately be graded from side to side, not in humps, but like Michigan avenue in Chicago, even and symmetrical, and the future history of road building of the now eleven hundred and fifty miles of roads in O'Brien county will record the fact that it is all needed in the future developments of travel and drainage and safe movement.


This being strictly an agricultural county, farmers' institutes have been regularly and annually held, alternating in the several towns. These have been supplemented by farm festivals, harvest home gatherings, watermelon davys, corn-judging contests, horse shows, nail-driving contests, and county, district and ladies' fairs. These sundry gatherings are on many occasions represented by specialists and instructors from our State Agricultural College at Ames, illustrating that this college bureau of farm information is in real touch with the actual occupations. The farm auction sales also occupy


somewhere in the county two-thirds of the days in the fall and early winter, and again in the spring, and rise higher than merely auctions. The public does not tire of them. Such auction sales as conducted by auctioneers W. S. Armstrong, John Cowan, Frank Myers, Charles Hopfe, Edward O. Evans, P. A. Leese, J. N, Burson and J. A. Benson, become also schools of farming where the farmers and stockraisers meet and exchange practical ideas of farming, stockraising, crops, values and markets.


The people did make two little staggers at the coal question. On January 7, 1874, the board of supervisors of the county passed a resolution offering a reward of one thousand dollars to any person who would make the discovery of a vein of coal not less than three feet in thickness and of actual merit. However, nothing ever came of it, and we mention it simply as an item to show that it was discussed. The geologist, however, has probably settled beyond a question that nature's great elements in the original upheavals of creations of the crusts of earth in the county did not provide for the county either minerals or coal. It is not in the cloth for O'Brien county. It is strictly agricultural. With no waste land, in this fact, it has its compensations. At the June session of the board of supervisors for 1889 the board offered a prize or reward of twenty-five dollars per ton for one hundred tons of coal at any time mined in O'Brien county.


O'Brien county has been blessed in having its lands well distributed in small sized farms. She has had no colonies settle as renters on lands owned by large syndicates or nonresident landlords, like some of the surrounding counties. Practically all her large farms have been managed by actual citizens. We will make note of a few large farms


In 1880 D. Edward Paullin, after whom Paullina was named, bought nine sections of land in Dale and Union townships and proceeded at once to put on very large improvements. It was all broken up. He expended from fifteen to twenty thousand dollars in improvements and machinery. Indeed his ranch buildings were little towns of themselves. He was an English-


man and was a stirring man. He farmed on a very large scale, until November, 1883. when he sold to Hudson Mickley. He later resided in Lemars, in Plymouth county, where was a large colony of Englishmen, including the Close brothers, James B. and William B., who held large landed possessions in both Plvmouth and Osceola counties. Mr. Paullin was killed in a game of polo about 1903 at Lemars. Hudson Mickley farmed all those lands on a similar scale for the seasons of 1884-85-86. These lands were later divided up into ordinary sized farms and sold.


In 1874-75-76-77 Franklin Teabout, a man of much vim and energy, opened up several large ranches on sections 25 and 36 in Lincoln, and sections 3, 10, 11, 14 and 25 in Summit and another ranch in Clay county, in 1877 he bought thirty-six hundred acres, at fifty cents per acre, with taxes on same to be redeemed of one dollar and fifty cents per acre, of Daniel T. Gilman, of Sioux City, same being part of the above lands. Mr. Teabout was an actual farmer and actual citizen. He erected quite extensive buildings on his main ranch on section 36, in Lincoln, which, with its many renters and ranch hands, made up quite a colony. Mr. Teabout had had a remarkable and successful career in large farming in Winnesheik county, Iowa, the small town of Franklin, in that county, being named for him and the seat of his farming operations there. He and William H. Valleau were the first merchants and grain buyers in Sanborn and other points. He was the father of Mrs. George H. Valleau, of Sanborn. These lands also were long ago divided up and sold.


John H. Archer has filled many large fields in the county. This item is but an enumeration of large farms and farming operations in a group. In extent of acres, being about thirty-five hundred acres in actual farming, in and around Archer. Iowa, named for him, his is the largest tract in continuous farming for the long series of years in the county, farmed and managed by one man. Mr. Archer has personally superintended each tract. Indirect oversight from crop to crop, item to item. He has carried it out from the basis of small tracts under various arrangements of rentings and otherwise, rather than as one farm. This is by no means the limit of his land holdings, he being the owner of sundry landed interests in other places. He came from England when a young man, and married the daughter of a


farmer, E. L. Ballou. He has bought land from year to year, and held on to everything once purchased. The gradual, if not to say phenomenal, advance in land values in the county during his time in the county has proved the wisdom of his policy relating to land.


Chester W. Inman was, after Hannibal H. Waterman, among the first four real farmers who in number of acres, arose above the quarter section proposition. He came in 1868. He was also one of the early actual citizens who became a county official, he being county treasurer and also was a member of the board. He opened up a large ranch of five hundred and eighty acres on section 26, in Grant township on the Waterman. The spot of his residence was one of the few really picturesque and scenic farm residences in this locality. O'Brien county was mainly a plain level of merely prairit sameness. The bluff here on the Waterman would even be somewhat of a bluff on the Missouri river. It was an ideal spot for the poetic or romantic. It seemed pitiful that his public turmoils and individual private property tribulations should have prevented the enjoyment of his dream, for be it said Mr. Inman and family were people who could have enjoyed the picturesque. He was a man of considerable breadth. He attempted to farm on a large scale through the grasshopper scourge and discouragements. He built what was in those times considered a mansion, costing in those cheapest of times some thirty-five hundred dollars, and in truth was beyond the times, and big farming could do none other than fail, and he lost all. This residence was a three-story building, with a large hall in the third story, evidently constructed with a special idea of large entertainments and gatherings.


Among the large farms of a section of land in size we might also mention those of Joseph Hain and John Bowley, in Floyd, of Oliver M. Shonkwiler and George W. Schee, in Hartley township, of Hector Cowan, in Dale, of Neil McKerrall and Frederick G. Frothingham, in Union, the Rodgers section in Caledonia and the farm of Mathern Brothers (Frank and Antone), in Highland.


Jonathan A. Stocum had for many years been an instructor in Bryant & Stratton's Commercial School in Chicago, but at intervals had purchased


sundry O'Brien county lands at tax sale during the years when its affairs were in trouble, but in 1871 he had procured many tax titles on same and proceeded to open up a large ranch of eight hundred acres in Lincoln township, and farmed the same until his death in 1891. He resided in Sanborn and conducted his ranch from there. He was not simply farming, but was a breeder of fancy stock, the inventory of his estate showing some forty fine bred horses and other stock in proportion. His was among the earliest efforts at the better grade stock proposition in the county. Further references will be made to Mr. Stocum in the section relating to Sanborn, he having been the pioneer attorney there, and, with John Lawler, a high official of the Milwaukee road, having platted Stocum & Lawler's addition to Sanborn, and engaged in other of the early town of Sanborn enterprises.


Samuel J. Jordan was among the early settlers in Grant township, and opened up a ranch of eight hundred acres. He has been among the few of the large ranch owners who has continuously resided actually upon the land itself during all the years, and conducted in person his large farming operations and stock raising direct from his family residence. As his sons, Ralph C. Jordan, now a member of the board of supervisors, and Clay P. Jordan, of Jordan's Bank at Sutherland, have grown up they have become a practical part of the broadening business of both farming and banking. They have also been among the few large farmers who have included in and incorporated as a part of their large farming all those modern, up-to-date and highly developed devices in the construction of barns, buildings, water works, dairying and machinery equipments, even in the details, on the lines as taught and suggested at Ames Agricultural College. Other items will appear as to this family under other heads.(13)

O'Brien County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project