The Illustrated Historical Atlas of Sioux County Iowa

Part III Section 2 Page 20

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     The full legal number of schools (9) are in operation. The wages paid to teachers and money spent for equipment brings us the best teachers and our schools are certainly high class. A number of older pupils attend the high schools in neighboring towns and at present several of our young people are at college. A number of our teachers are and have been for several years tile product of our own schools. Quite a difference between present educational opportunities and those offered by Mrs. Sneer's Kitchen school in '81.
     On Mt. Joy, a high hill in the northeastern corner which has been so named, are two churches. The Church of God, built in 1893, and a Norwegian Lutheran Church, built a few years later. A store started here at the cross roads did a good business for a time, but burning down for the second time, was not rebuilt. There is now a small blacksmithing and machine shop. Large herds of cattle, hogs and sheep are fattened and marketed annually. The farmers are nearly all heavy feeders. Land is raising and has raised a great deal in value. Some farms are selling as high as $80 to $100 per acre at present. Contrast this with $15.00 fifteen years ago. We may never send anyone to the Senate, we don't ever expect to see one of oar number in the President's chair, but we can raise corn and feed cattle. Remember.



     Sioux County was organized some time prior to 1868. From what little history we have been able to find the less said about it the better. With the assistance of my friends and what data I am able to collect, will give it mostly from the date of my arrival, which was August 11, 1869.
     I have in my possession the first book used by the township clerks to record the proceedings of the Board of Trustees and the first Minutes read as follows:

Calliope, Sioux County, Iowa.
February 20, 1869.

     Buncombe Township Board of Trustees met pursuant to notice. Present--Wm. Maulam, A. St. Clair and J. L. McCrery. Board called to order by J. L. McCrery, Chairman. Ordered that an election be held on the first Saturday in March to elect three Sub-Directors for School District No. 1, Buncombe Township, Sioux County, Iowa.

(Signed) R. R. McCrery, Clerk.
(At this time Sioux County was all in Buncombe Township.)

     The second meeting recorded states that R. R. McCrery resigned as clerk and Rufus Stone was appointed to fill vacancy at same meeting. A. St. Clair was appointed member of Board of Supervisors to fill vacancy caused by resignation of R. R. McCrery. At next meeting Peter Romine's name appears as a member present of the Board of Trustees. Records, however, show no action constituting him such member. The date of this last meeting before the arrival of the writer was June l, 1869.
     I will never forget when my brother, G. B. West, Eli Johnson and myself drove over the bluffs five miles south of Calliope and Mr. Johnson, who was driver, stopped the team at the highest point and pointed out the town of Calliope to us away up the river and I suppose that the same remark made by my brother at that time has been repeated many times, viz.: "isn't that a most beautiful valley."
     We arrived at our destination a little late for dinner, but Mrs. Stone, wife of Rufus Stone, who has been named as Township Clerk and was also County Treasurer, Auditor, Recorder, Clerk of Courts and various other officers, (Calliope was at this time no County Seat), proceeded to welcome us and in short order had a fine dinner ready for us. And we gave no sign or intimation that it was not thoroughly appreciated.
     The residents of Sioux County, with the exception of three families, lived at Calliope, and were the following persons: Rufus Stone, Mrs. M. A. Stone, F. P. Stone, D. U. Stone, Miss Emma Allies, Alexander Johnson, Sr., Eli Johnson, a single man, Andy St. Clair (a Frenchman), Peter Romine and Charlie Boone, who acted as deputy officers. There were three log houses in Calliope at this time and a frame building, 14 by 16, which did duty as a court house and for county offices.
     The three families spoken of outside of Calliope, were: Bellisfields, 15 miles up the Rock River; then about 4 miles farther up the river was John Wilson and his son, Ira S. Wilson, lately surveyor of Sioux County; and about four miles farther and a little above where Rock Valley now stands, was the Runyon family.
     During the month of August, this year (1869), Calliope experience its first boom. Our old friend, Geo. H. Root, together with his wife and family (Mrs. Root being still alive at this writing at the advanced age of 66 years), their son G. H. Root, his wife and two small daughters, Albert Root and wife, another son, H. H. Lantz, a son-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. Root, and A. C. McDonald (the first carpenter to appear in the new county), coming from Appanoose County. There were several others who came in about this time, among whom were the two big Lambert boys from Cherokee County.
     The writer took a trip back to Harrison County after chopping and floating logs down to Otis Mill, located 6 miles down the Sioux, to get his team. Found household goods for my brother at Sioux City on return. After this hauled lumber from Sioux City for the first school house in Sioux County. This house is now standing and has been used as a residence for several years.
     All the land broken at this time in Sioux County was ten or twelve acres upon which was a good crop of oats which all hands assisted in harvesting and stacking. The stacking was done near the residence of H. H. Lantz, who was doing the stacking. During this stacking a baby girl was born to Mr. and Mrs. Lantz, being the first white child born in the County of Sioux. She was named Effie September Lantz, she is now Mrs. T. E. Granger and lives at Eagle Grove, Iowa.
     In the spring of 1870 a large colony of Hollanders came into tile east end of the county and went to work with a will to make of the fertile prairies of Sioux County the best part of the best state in the Union, which it is today. This spring brought also many new comers to the west part of the county, among these we recall at this time: J. L. Chenoweth and wife, Chas. Whalen and family, John and Doe Whalen (single men), Ab. Sargent and family, W. H. Harvey, Charlie Tarbox, Samuel Heald and son Fred, S. A. Hammond and family, L. D. Sherman and family, Uncle Burket with a large family and Charlie French, Selah Van Sickle and O. J. Dunham. All of these, with the exception of the Healds, located in what is now Reading and Washington Townships. Samuel Heald bought an eighty acre tract one-half mile south of the Calliope town site as later laid out and platted as Heald's addition to Hawarden, and hereon built this house in 1871 and occupied it until 1888, replacing it by a substantial brick structure.


   The Calliope post office was kept here by Mr. Heald from 1873 to 1888. This was a regular stopping place for the traveling public for a number of years. The picture of this house was drawn by L. C. Fay, twenty years later from memory.
     In the spring of 1872, my brother, his wife and little girl, then two years old, and myself were going onto our claims of 80 acres each, which we had taken under the Preemption Act. The winter previous to this Congress had passed an Act allowing a soldier the privilege of taking one hundred and sixty acres of land inside the R. R. limit, therefore, we agreed that he should take the land we had selected which was then the southwest quarter of section 2, Township 94, Range 47, being now in Washington Township. We afterward bought a relinquishment of the northwest quarter of Section 22, same township upon which I made homestead entry and proved up and received patent as he did for his quarter, signed by U. S. Grant, President of the United States (we each having served our country during the Civil War).
     The settlers had been coming into the norm and ease part of the county so rapidly that from this time on tie Township of Buncombe began to grow beautifully less. One Congressional Township after another was taken off, gradually reducing it to a fractional township of about eighteen sections.
     By again referring to the Trustee's Record of Buncombe Township, I find that at a meeting of the Trustees nerd oil the 11th day of August, 1871, a petition signed by one-third of the resident tax payers was presented to the board and a special election ordered to be held on the 6th day of September, 1871, at the school house on Section 11-94-47. Notice of which should be published as required y Chapter 102, Laws of the 13th General Assembly for at least 20 days before such election. According to a contract made and entered into by and between said Buncombe Township and the Sioux City and Pembina Railroad whereby said railroad was to do a certain amount of construction work before the trustees of the township were to order the tax levied the proposition carried by a large majority. The next matter of record is the submitting to the Board of Trustees an estimate of the work done. This instrument is attached and recorded both by the township clerk. The road was built to Calliope in the fall of 1875. Up to this time everything had been hauled from Sioux City or LeMars and there was great rejoicing throughout the Big Sioux Valley. The trustees continued to meet at Calliope until January 9, 1872.
   On the 22nd day of January, 1872, the Hollanders, one hundred and fifty strong, headed by Judge Pendleton of Sioux City as legal adviser, came over to Calliope, unannounced, and took away without opposition, the safe with all books of record and hauled them over to Orange City during tile coldest weather we had that winter. They were a little hasty, however, for a decree of the district court ordered them returned at once. At the next general election, the fall of 1872, the County Seat was legally moved to Orange City.
     From this time on Old Buncombe began to prosper as never before. New settlers were coming in until there was not a vacant quarter section of government land left and the breaking of the sod and patches of growing crops were to be seen on every hand.
     The grasshopper plague of which so much has been said and written, was the next drawback and the worst that Sioux County ever had. Although they had been seen here from 1868 up to 1873 they had visited us only in small numbers. About the fail of 1873 they came and deposited their eggs in any and every spot of bare ground in sight, especially were they to be seen by the millions on every patch of new breaking. Here myriads of the young were hatched the following spring and these were the ones that did the greatest damage to the growing crops as they had to stay until they were old enough to get their wings and fly away to greener fields, they being at this time full grown hoppers. And by the time they left they left nothing green but the prairie grass. They did not pass up any kind of garden track, were especially fond of onions which they would eat clear into the ground. They seemed very ravenous from the day they were hatched and started to move. If they were along a public road or on the prairie they did not cease to hop until they found some kind of crops upon which they could feed and they seemed very industrious as they neither slumbered nor slept. By watching a piece of grain you could see them hopping in the evening. This was proven as there would not be much green left in the morning. Well they continued to visit us, young ones hatch out in the spring and old ones fly over, alight and deposit their eggs in the fall and fly away again (only when the wind was favorable), however. Those unacquainted with the situation will wonder how the people stayed so long, the easiest thing in the world, had to have somebody help them let go. Like the fellow with the bear. Those that had friends with money left as soon as possible, the rest are here yet.
     After the hoppers finally left, Old Buncombe again prospered as never before. The Close Bros. of England, located at LeMars and bought all the railroad lands that were in the county and bought such homesteads as they could get at from four to five hundred dollars per quarter, picking up a good many at these prices. About 1879 they began building, usually putting a house, barn and granary upon each quarter section, and furnishing employment for a great many people as they were anxious to break up as much as possible in a short time.
     The writer moved with his family into Calliope in the winter of 1880 and went to work at carpentering with my brother, who had returned from Illinois and put up buildings on several of the Close Bros. farms. We built several houses on the east side of the railroad track this winter, working all winter, although we experienced some extremely cold weather. Along toward the last of December, Mr. David Stephen, who owned and operated the only general store in Calliope, took a trip to Sioux City, via Elk Point, South Dakota, (wagon route) and on his return trip stopped at Jefferson, South Dakota. They put him in a bed in a room from which a smallpox patient had lately been removed. Mr. Stephens came on to Calliope and within a few days was taken very sick laying in bed over the store where were some of his own family. After a few days he was covered with corpuscles and felt a little better, getting up and going down into the store and walking around town exposing a number of persons. Finally some one who had once had the disease, told him that he had smallpox. He went at once to the residence of Mr. E. A. J. Estes and was there quarantined by the Board of Trustees. They at once secured a physician and took what precautions were by them deemed necessary to prevent the spread of this dread disease.
     Mr. Rufus Stone was one of the first to take the disease and one of Mr. Stephen's clerks named Samuel Ewait. They were both reported doing well when a severe blizzard struck this place and it was impossible to keep them from taking cold and they both fell victims of this, our first scourge. There were sixteen cases in all and only two deaths. We think this remarkable when we consider the inexperience of all concerned. To show the inhumanity of man in times of panic will quote two instances. Every town within miles of Calliope was quarantined against us and the trains on the Milwaukee Railroad would go through town as if they had been sent for. If a person that wanted to send word to his family at some other point would approach a train they would threaten his life if he came nearer. As in my brother's case, who was almost beside himself because he could not hear from his family. There was a car load of cord wood that laid at Elk Point almost two weeks while we were suffering for fuel. Having soon exhausted what stock Mr. Stephen had on hand, W. D. McClure, the local member of the Board of Trustees, and Samuel Heald went to Portland with a team to get some flour, groceries, etc. They started very early in the morning and the extreme cold had kept the guards at home too late to stop them and they got into a hotel before the scared ones knew of their presence. One man in all the town dared approach, viz. John Sophie, who came to them and told them to stay in the hotel and avoid arrest. He kindly took their order for supplies and agreed to send flour upon first train, but would not take any of their money as they supposed it tainted. These men lived one mile from town and had not been near anybody with small pox. But you could hear some of the most horrible stories of how they were dying like sheep and the farther you got away from here the larger the stories and the more scared the people.
     At this time there was no sanitary fund provided and the board was sadly in need of funds. The writer, at this time township clerk, together with W. D. McClure, Chairman, and E. J. Earll, a member of the board of Trustees, were sent to orange City to make an effort to raise five hundred dollars ($500.00) to tide us over this calamity. We got over there without any mishap but there were a good many scared ones. Mr. Hospers finally consented to let us have the money and we borrowed from Buncombe Township the sum required and set-...


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