settlers of Washington County
(Excerpts from Burrell's History of Washington County, Iowa (1909)
1837. Few came this year, on
account of the grouchy Indians. But Silas Washburn and Morgan Hart
reached Brighton. Washburns claim included the mill site, and
he made a cabin on the national bank lot. They slept in their
clothes, on prairie hay, in a shanty, that winter, and did not have
carpet, lace curtains, piano, silverware, napkins and finger bowls, but
they had health plus. Hart became a prominent man, serving with
superb common sense on the board of commissioner.
Josiah Smart kept a trading post on the north side
of Crooked Creek and traded with the Indians, and left when they did.
For several years a large section of tree bark, bearing Indian
picture writing on its inner surface, lay on his store roof, and
finally rotted. If only some one of archaeological tastes had
preserved it, given it to the county historical society, it would
now be worth its weight in bank notes, if not in gold. It is said
that Smart's wife was a full-blooded squaw. She did not
organize the first W.C. T. U., in this county, and rarely wore a blue
or white ribbon. She advertised in her own proper, or improper, person
her husband's goods. The choicest he kept locked in a valise, but she
is charged with purglarizing that, and then proceeded to publish the
glad tidings of greater joy to the bucks and squaws and they raised
more hades than maize. If all is true they say about her, she was the
first "horrid example" in our history, When she was jagged with this
sort of locomotor ataxia she could walk seven Indian trails at once,
whether they ran parallel or at right angles, and give the war-whoop in
solo or chorus. I shall always regret that editor Heacock never met
this ornament of her sex.
J. W. Neal came to Crawford township and built a
cabin south of the bridge across the branch south of Crawfordsville.
there was a block house or fort that he shared the first night, and
seven families had gathered there, but six of them moved out. Neal kept
guard all night, but the Indians swarming all around made no attack.
Other comers were Isaac Pence and family and his son Samuel and family,
with the Gobles, and settled in Crawford on a claim sold by John Drake
for two hundred dollar, improvements thrown in; and Thomas and John
Caldwell, Henry Osborne, Wm. Huston, James McElroy, Wm. Wooley, Wm.
Kinnear, Wm. Kinsley, David Sykes, Nathan Griffith. Mr. Kinsley started
a nursery in '37 or '37 and many an orchard was its offspring.
Wm. I. Harvey located on what was later better known
as the Stewart farm on the Brighton road a mile from Washington.
The scene shifts to English river, where there was
more brush. Joseph Edelstein, a Swiss, made a cabin, but it burned
before the family came from Ohio, and they holed up in a cave awhile.
He was a farmer and wagon maker, and being a Catholic, he attracted
settlers of that faith.
In the fall James, Thomas, and Samuel Watters and
Joseph, Hiram, Benjamin and Robert Wasson went hunting on English river
in Lime creek township, and in camp noted a promising mill site, made a
claim and cabin and left Hiram Wasson to hold the fort. A few weeks
later, N. W. and Daniel McFarland came, staked claims, including the
mill site and land to the east, built a cabin and took squatter
sovereignty. But the first set of men won out, and built a mill the
next year on the north side of the river. It burned in '48, was rebuilt
and used as a saw mill till '56. The present mill was erected in'50 and
does a good business.