EARLY HISTORY ARTICLES
REMINISCENCES OF 75 YEARS AGO IN TAYLOR
From the Blockton News we take the following interesting
story of early days in Taylor county as written by Mrs.
M.E. Ledgerwood of Blockton on May 6, 1923, a few days
after her 75th birthday. Mrs. Ledgerwood was born on the
Miller farm three miles west of Bedford and in the span
of her life has witnessed the transformation of the raw
country into its present state of development.
"My maiden name was Miller. I was born 3 miles of
Bedford, Iowa, Taylor county, on May 1, 1848 and have
just passed the 75th mile post. I have seen Taylor county's
prairie's change to fine farms, log cabins to fine dwellings,
prairie schooners to fine autos and the sheep wool dresses
to fine silks, but not so comfortable as the wool dresses.
My father's name was Henry Miller and my mother's name
Elizabeth Lowe Miller. There were three children in the
family. My sister, now Mrs. Robert Taylor of Bedford, is
two years and four months older than I am and my brother
was younger. In May, 1850, my father went with an emigrant
train to California to dig for gold. He was gone five years.
Mother received word from him that he would be home on a
certain date. He arrived at St. Louis where he was murdered
and robbed. So we lost father, the money, and the land, as
father had borrowed for it and had gone to California to
earn the money to pay for it.
Two years later mother married Dr. Luther Bent. We
moved to Savannah, Mo., as my step-father's folks lived
there, but as most of his practice was in Taylor county we
soon afterwards moved to Bedford. There were just five
cabins in the town. One of them was the hotel where we
stayed until a cabin was built for us. The Indians came
to town quite often and we got used to them. I do not know
what tribe they belonged to but they seemed to be peaceable.
My mother raised the second family of seven Bent children.
My brother Curtis Bent, and sister Lottie Cloud, live in
Bedford, my old home.
In 1871, I was married to Joseph F. Ledgerwood a Civil War
soldier. He served in Co E 46 Iowa Volunteer Infantry. Nine
children were born to us, one son dying in infancy. Four
girls and four boys are living - Mrs. Effie Mesler, of
Diagonal; Mrs. Jessie Spooner, of Geuda Springs, Kansas;
P.P. Ledgerwood, of Blockton; John H. Ledgerwood of Lockrige,
Okla.; Mrs. Chattie Carlson of Delphos; Mrs Mary Huntley of
Blockton; Joseph Ledgerwood of Blockton; Luther Ledgerwood
of Cedar Rapids. Their father died Dec 22, 1918. I have
20 grandchildren living, and 5 dead and 2 great grandchildren.
My children have seen many of the modern inventions -
telephone, electric lights, railroads, and all kinds of
modern machinery as soon as I did, but they cannot boast of
eating as many different kinds of wild game - deer, buffalo,
antelope, bear, wild turkey, prairie chicken and quail.
I am anxious to know what they will invent in the next
25 years of my life. I will just wail and see "Seeing is
My Grandfather Lowe, was a surveyor and county judge.
Grandfather Miller was a hunter. He would be gone for
days with the Indians on a big hunt, killing deer and
other wild game. He hunted with Daniel Boone in his
younger days in Kentucky.
The early settlers seemed to enjoy themselves. Just
raised enough to feed themselves and stock as there was
no market for the surplus. The largest job the men folks
had to do was wash the sheep and clip the wool. The women
carded it into rolls, then spun the rolls into thread
colored it any color and wove it into cloth which was
cut out and made into garments. Their cabins were full of
something good to eat - all kinds of wild meat, wild honey,
wild fruits, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. They were a
contented people and the very cleaverest. I have seen deer
more than once around my Grandfather Millers door and he
would kill one and sometimes two before they ran away.
In the early days they did not have matches - just flint
rock and tow to make a fire. In April one year the fire went
out so mother sent my sister and I to a neighbor's to get
some fire. My sister fell and spilled the fire in the dry
grass and then we had to do some running. My mother and
grandmother saw the fire, but we outran it. We told them we
did not get the fire so they pulled grass and twisted it
into knots and caught it in the fire and then ran to the wood
pile so it was not long until they had fire to loan. The
fire we set was terrible as everything was dry and the grass
was four or five feet high, and a high wind was blowing.
Much feed was burned up and some of the settlers came near
getting burned up in it. The settlers cursed the Indians -
thought they had set it. Mother lived to be 92 years of
age and went to her grave not knowing that we set that
wasteful fire by accident. I was about 5 and my sister 7
years of age at the time. I am now 75. Those were the
days of risk and we run them."