True Stories From the Colorful History of Pilotburg
(from a booklet, "The History of Pilotburg" by C. W. Thomas, pub 1898)nfj

A school marm who spit - The Great Debate - Horse Racing

The First School

The first school house was built in '55, with lumber hauled from Burlington. An account of the first term of school has been given, and it is interesting to follow these pioneer children as they plod across the prairies, first to one place and then another until they had a permanent school home. Angeline Corkin taught the second term in the summer of '49. She was followed by Mary Wilson who taught down in the edge of the timber N.W. of the Burg. She chewed tobacco, and could spit as straight as any man and wasn't afraid to use physical force when any of the big boys became unruly. The school house was small 2 x 3 ft blackboard. About this time the school districts were formed, and Larkin Stucker was elected as director. It paid to be a director in those days, for we learn the one just mentioned hired Larken Stucker to teach a six month term of $45 per month, the district to rent one of Larkin Stucker's rooms at $6 a month and to pay hims so much a cord for wood, etc.

Which Day is Sunday?

    In the latter part of the '50's, the Seventh Day Adventist doctrine was preached here and a local church was organized with Henry Nicola as first elder.
    At this time there was a very great interest manifested in the Sabbath question, the Adventists believing the seventh day of the week.  
    On one occasion, Frank Evans, an elder in the Methodist church preached on the Sabbath question, and matters so shaped themselves that the people were anxious for a debate. Evans was a wiry little preacher, witty, smart, and loved a forensic fray. The adventists selected Elder D.M. Canwright, a man who was in every way the equal of Evans, to be his opponent, and the great debate was on. It was the greatest intellectual event up to that date, and possibly to the present time.  The day fixed was March 1, 1871 and it was arranged the speaking should last three days, two sessions each day, of two hours each, speakers occupying the time with alternate speeches of thirty minutes.
    The questions agreed upon were:
    1st--Do the Scriptures teach that the seventh day of the week was instituted as the Sabbath of the Lord at the creation of the world, and in such, is binding on all men through all time?
        Canwright affirmed
        Adams denied
    2nd--Do the Scriptures teach that the first day of the week is the Christian Sabbath?
        Evans affirmed
        Adams denied
    At the appointed time the people assembled in great numbers, often from three to five hundred being present, as he discussion had been in anticipation several months, and the speakers being men of acknowledged ability. On one occasion eh house was completely packed long before the hour to begin, making it necessary for the speakers to crowd in through the window. But from first to last perfect order was maintained, and the speakers, though contending earnestly for their respective positions, treated each other with due Christian courtesy.
    Judged by the results of time, it was a fruitless controversy. Both sides have long since learned that it will never be settled by argument, and are devoting their energies to more practical good.

Sporting Blood

    Though Pilotburg has always been considered an exceptionally quiet, moral place, it took on a somewhat sport attitude along in the sixties.  It all came about by Alex Sewell bantering Seid Timmons for a $25 horse race.
    No suitable place was at hand and Timmons asked permission of Jacob Mouser to make a track across one of his level forties. It was before the days of graders or even hand scrapers, but the early settler was used to overcoming obstacles. Timmons found a huge boulder, weighing over a ton, somewhat flattened on one side, and this he dragged back and forth for a quarter of a mile, until the tough prairie sod was fairly smooth. It made a single path, about two feet wide, and the finishing touches were put on with a hoe. Another track was made about twenty feet from this one and the new race course was ready for use. After all this trouble, Timmons lost his money. But this sport took, and for nearly ten years races were held every summer, usually on Saturday afternoon. It attracted more than local attention and horses from some distance were frequently brought in. Betting was always lively, ranging from a jackknife to $100 on a side. During the last two or three years a man came with a beer wagon and supplied the crowd. As far as we know, this was the only time that any one has ever made a business of selling liquor at or near Pilotburg. Mr. Mouser finally needed the land to farm, and the once famous race track was broken up, and became a thing of the past.