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Chapter 14

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Ioway to Iowa

by
Irving Berdine Richman

published by
The State Historical Society of Iowa
1931

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 16
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p283 The Bible

An Iowa Prayer
Yankees
The Foreign-Born
Iowa of the Old Adam

p285 An Iowa Prayer

July Fourth, 1888, on the occasion of the Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Creation of the Territory of Iowa and of the One Hundred and Twelfth Anniversary of the Independence of the United States:

Our Father, our Savior, our Helper! We thank Thee, as we gather to celebrate our early settlement and also the birthday of our national existence, that Thou art the God of all the nations on this broad earth. We thank Thee for the open Bible. We thank Thee for our country, [and] for the flag of our country, the one flag of a united nation. We thank Thee for our common schools and Christian colleges. We thank Thee for the removal of the disgrace and curse of slavery. We thank Thee for our beautiful home — river and forest and prairie. We thank Thee that the God of our fathers and defenders will continue to be our God; [so] that all Christian and moral, patriotic and decent men may be united against the one great remaining foe to our land, and even the world — the liquor traffic and habit. May the God who can turn the hearts of men, even as the rivers of water are turned, incline us to live to his honor and praise!

p286 Yankees

They come! They come!

The opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848 was opposed on divers grounds, but primarily 'because it would be the means of flooding the State with Yankees, who would be introduced by thousands'.

But if in the fifties the Yankees were coming, where were they? When in 1854 Dubuque hotels were 'overflowing'; when at Burlington 'thirty thousand crossed the Mississippi' within ten weeks; when at Oskaloosa 'a thousand passed every week'; when in 1855 Fort Des Moines suffered 'a scarcity of women' so 'dreadful' that nineteen bachelors to one married couple might be found and when in 1857 Sioux City sent forth a call for 'five hundred good-looking and industrious women' (no mere 'ladies' wanted) — where were the Yankees then?

The year 1850 saw fifty-five hundred pure bred Yankees in Iowa; the year 1856, eighteen thousand; and the year 1860, about twenty-five thousand.195

Wherever the Yankees had gone they had gone if possible in groups, church groups, groups carrying Congregationalism — p287Congregational academy, college, and town. Progress for the Yankee in Iowa was not rapid. In 1833 Julius A. Reed, a Mayflower descendant, and Aratus Kent of Yale preached at the Dubuque Mines. In 1836 Asa Turner, of Massachusetts and Yale, preached at Fort Madison. In 1838 Reuben Gaylord, of Connecticut and Yale, wrote regarding the future State of Iowa: 'Our object will be twofold — to preach the gospel, and to open a school at the outset, which can soon be elevated to the rank of a college'.

In 1843 there were in Iowa at least three hundred straight-out Congregationalists,196 among them 'Iowa Band', eleven strong, with Father Alden B. Robbins, Iowa's Puritan priest, and William Salter, Iowa's Puritan historian. 'It is calculated', said the New York Herald in 1857, 'that about three hundred thousand will emigrate this season from New England. . . . The value of the property is estimated at twenty millions of dollars but taking the actual value of the settlers to the new States it will be at least thirty million more, making fifty to sixty millions of living value departing from New England to enrich the West'.

The value might be there, but early Iowa failed to perceive the fact. Product of 'Blue Laws', Yankees were 'Blue Bellies'! And, too, they were 'Black Abolitionists'! 'Congregationalism', sums up Truman A. Douglass, 'did not find congenial soil and atmosphere p288in early Iowa'. But if the Yankee in early Iowa was little welcome, either as Yankee or Congregationalist, there was a religious body that was more than welcome — the Methodists. Aided by 'friendly sinners' this body built in Ioway at Dubuque in 1834 the first Protestant meeting house, true though it be that in 1833 preaching in private dwellings at Dubuque had been inaugurated by the aggressive Presbyterian, Aratus Kent.197

In Iowa the Yankee staked all on book learning — book learning to the top notch. Copying his forbears, the founders of Harvard and Yale, he began educationally at the top and worked down. First he established his college; then he put beneath it a foundation. 'A learned clergy!' This was the Congregational slogan. It was not the slogan of the Methodist.

Peter Cartwright
Primate of all Prairiedom

Cartwright was a Virginian; a shouting, praying, singing, Methodist preacher and Presiding Elder; bold yet with balance and a handy wit.a 'Presbyterians', he wrote, 'and other Calvinistic branches of the Protestant Church used to contend for an educated ministry, for pews, for instrumental music, for a congregational or stated salaried minister. The Methodists universally opposed these ideas; and the illiterate Methodist p289preachers actually set the world on fire — the American world, at least — while they [the Calvinists] were lighting their matches!' He declared that if Bishop Asbury, the great pioneer of Methodism in the West, 'had waited for this choice literary band of preachers, infidelity would have swept these United States from one end to the other'.198

Iowa in the days of the Andover Puritan and of Peter Cartwright was not the place Puritan had thought to find. He had thought, writes one of the Iowa Band, to find a country with 'recollections of Christian homes fresh in their memories all eager to hear the gospel'. What was it that the Puritan did find?

Freedom — a freedom so large that it left him gasping. The Dubuque Visitor said in 1836: 'A man must be duller than the fat weed in Lethe's wharf if he does not feel the energy of his nature roused when he comes into the northwestern borders. . . . We who are pioneers have in our country newness, freshness, freedom, which never tire'. We found, said our brother of the Iowa Band, 'a people starting homes, institutions, usages, laws, customs, in a new territory; gathered from all parts of the country and the world; coming together with different tastes, prejudices, ideas and plans; and representing all shades of belief and disbelief. p290Every phase of error, that any age or country had ever seen, was here cropping out'.199

The Infidel

'Infidelity', writes an Andover Puritan, 'was presenting a bold front under the leadership of Abner Kneeland [of Massachusetts], first known in Vermont [New Hampshire] as a Universalist minister, afterwards in Boston as an Atheist [Pantheist]. He had settled with a band of his followers, male and female, upon the banks of the Des Moines, to mould, if possible, the faith of the new settlers by "substituting", as one said, "Paine's Age of Reason, for the family Bible, the dance for the prayer-meeting, and the holiday for the Sabbath." '

Kneeland had come to Iowa in 1839 and had founded near Farmington (Van Buren County) the town of 'Salubria'. The Theodore Parker of the West, Abner Kneeland was also its William Lloyd Garrison, William E. Channing, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Charles W. Eliot. Lapsing from Universalism, Kneeland in 1833 had said that he could not believe in a personal God. 'Everything', he said, 'is God. I am a Pantheist'. Nor could he believe in Christ more than in the Greek Prometheus, nor in miracles, nor in the resurrection of the dead, nor in immortality — an attitude p291making him one with Iowa's red skinned modernist, Appanoose.

When he founded Salubria, Kneeland was sixty-five years old. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and crowned with white hair. He had a wife and family, and his personal character was above reproach. In June, 1839, Kneeland wrote: 'I have had but very few opportunities as yet, to disseminate any of my views in relation to theology, as I advance them very cautiously: but whenever there is a chance without appearing intrusive I do not shrink from what appears to be a duty — a duty I owe to my fellow beings'. And in August: 'I had occasion to go Farmington yesterday; there seems to be some little movement there among religionists, such as prayer meetings, Sunday schools, etc., but I think they will not amount to much'.200

To purge Iowa of Kneelandism was scarcely for the sons of Andover. It was a forthright, Cartwright, job. Exhortation, warning, prayer, tears, song; to be 'mighty in prayer' and a 'sweet singer in Israel' ('Jesus Lover of my Soul', 'Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me')' 'to know the Bible as one knew one's own name' — these were the requirements. In one of those northern trips [1834 or 1835]', says Peter Cartwright, 'I was earnestly solicited to cross the Mississippi and preach to the few new settlers near what is now called Burlington p292City, on the west of the father of waters'. Not a cabin of the whole settlement would hold the people. From a sapling pulpit in a grove he declared 'the unsearchable riches of the Gospel of Jesus Christ'.201

Fists

Congregationalist and Methodist in early Iowa were at enmity — 'friendly' enmity. Of Congregationalists, Peter Cartwright said: 'I had never seen a Yankee and I had heard dismal stories about them. It was said they lived almost entirely on pumpkins, molasses, fat meat, and bohea tea; moreover that they could not bear loud and zealous sermons and they had brought on their learned preachers with them and they read their sermons'.

Long years agone, writes Hawkins Taylor in 1870, 'a methodist preacher by the name of Cartwright [Barton Cartwright], living a few miles west of Burlington, traveled the circuit of what is now Des Moines, Lee, and Van Buren counties, never missing an appointment. From West Point to Keosauqua there was nothing but a trail. . . . John Points [near West Point] was known as the bully of his section. . . . At that time there was a man by the name of Allan [living not far away]. Allan was from Maine, and prided himself on being a Yankee — an article scarce at that time in that section. Allan had heard of Points as p293the bully of West Point. Points was a Kentuckian. Allan sent him word that he would meet him in West Point on a certain Saturday; that he was from Maine, and that he believed a Maine man could whip any Kentuckian. With the Saturday Allan and Points met, for the first time. Their friends formed a ring, and the two men went to work. Points had ten friends to Allan's one, but no one said a word; perfect fair play was observed, until Allan said he was whipped. It was a rough and tumble fight, and never were two men more evenly matched, and seldom better men. The fight was long and desperate; both were a mangled mess when through'.

At the end of the fight both men were arrested. 'Each one pleaded that the fight was merely in fun; no harm whatever was intended; that it was merely to test the fighting qualities of Maine and Kentucky. Allan was very eloquent that Points, at least, should not be fined, as he was the victor'.202 In early Iowa Congregationalists and Methodists were at 'friendly' enmity.

Book Learning

From the Top Down

Education in early Iowa was the higher education: it was of 'Bible' inception and built from the top down. It was rather markedly Congregational, and as such p294long lived. The oldest academy of this denomination was Denmark Academy203 established in 1843, opened in 1845; and the oldest college was Iowa College, opened in 1848 at Davenport and afterwards transferred to Grinnell, there to expand under President George F. Magoun.

Not that in Iowa the Congregationalists monopolized higher education. Even the Methodists began early to establish academies and colleges: Iowa Wesleyan University, 1842 (opened 1844); Iowa City College, 1843 (opened 1846); Cornell College (Mt. Vernon), 1853; Upper Iowa University (Fayette), 1857; Simpson College (Indianola), 1867; Morningside College (Sioux City), 1894.

Colleges, too, were established by the Presbyterians, five in number (one of them Coe College), 1851‑1891; by the Baptists, three, 1852‑1865; by the Disciples of Christ, one, 1855; by the United Brethren, one, 1856; by the Friends (Quakers), two, 1868‑1873; by the Lutherans, two, 1868‑1903; by the Catholics, two, 1843‑1873.

These academies and colleges, these institutions generated at the top, did they serve their end? They were instruments of culture, and owing to them, or to colleges like them outside Iowa, there was a surprising culture in pioneer Iowa towns. Iowa's first governor, p295Robert Lucas, said after a tour of the Territory in 1838: 'I had supposed her population was the same as generally found in frontier settlements — hospitable, yet rude; but in this I am most agreeably disappointed'. It is the conclusion of James Bryce that 'the multiplication of small institutions in the West with uncontrolled freedom of teaching has done a work which a few state-regulated Universities might have failed to do'.204

At all events the Iowa of the eighteen fifties, the Iowa of the towns, was well sprinkled with men of academic training. Miami University (near Cincinnati) alone contributed to Iowa in one year (1858) graduates as follows: Ralph P. Lowe (Governor), of Muscatine and Iowa City; J. B. Howell, P. D. Foster, S. T. Marshal, Rev. W. M. Boyce, of Keokuk; Jacob Butler, C. Foster, George S. Rea, of Muscatine, J. W. McDill, B. J. Hall, W. Wright, of Burlington; Wilson C. Hollyday, of West Point; Jared M. Stone, of Iowa City; J. B. Coombs, of Washington; R. T. Drake, of Des Moines; Samuel C. Kerr, of Sigourney; O. Newman, of Sioux City; and Joel Tuttle, of Keosauqua.

From the Bottom Up

Meanwhile the conditions of education in Iowa at the bottom (the conditions of secular education) were far from good. In 1843 Governor John Chambers expressed p296chagrin at the 'little interest the important subject of education excites among us'. In 1847 James W. Grimes noted with disgust that no provision had been made by the First General Assembly of the State for building schoolhouses by law, nor for the support of primary education by taxes.

Then (1856‑1858), with Grimes as Governor, and Horace Mann as mentor, improvement set in. Yet, as late as 1887 Iowa's Superintendent of Public Instruction pointed out 'the striking similarity of conditions educationally between Iowa and the Southern States'. And as late as 1896 the National Commissioner of Education, Dr. W. T. Harris, 'showed that the schedule of salaries for teachers for Iowa was the lowest of all the north central States'. Later still (1902) the president of the State Teachers' Association felt warranted in saying in his inaugural: 'I believe that three-fourths of the teaching of the rural schools of Iowa is absolutely worthless . . . it is the experience of every man and woman here'.205 This, despite the fact that in 1870 Iowa showed the least illiteracy of any of the States.

Nor is the foregoing the whole story. In Iowa until 1880 the State University was fed meagrely and from hand to mouth. 'I don't understand', writes a pioneer Iowa lawmaker, 'the reasons for such an attitude of constant hostility and bush-whacking opposition to p297forward movements'.206 As for the State Teachers College at Cedar Falls, it was not until 1886 under President Homer H. Seerley that it began to assume a place outstanding.

A State Agricultural College was sanctioned by the Iowa General Assembly in 1858, and in 1859 the trustees held a meeting on proposals relative to the location of the institution. Declaration, however, was made (evidently with a side glance at the Old Stone Capitol building in Iowa City where the State University was housed) that in the case of the Agricultural structure, there should be 'no costly dome, or curious winding stairs'. A good, respectable looking building was desired, 'good enough for the farmers of our State, and good enough for anybody else'.

The first Iowa school for ends distinctively secular was one conducted in 1830 on the Half-Breed Tract. This was the first school in Iowa. It was housed in a room supplied by Isaac Galland and was taught by Berryman Jennings of Warsaw, Illinois.207 By 1840 there were in Iowa 63 primary and common schools with 1500 pupils. In 1846 the 20,000 pupils of school age then in the State had at disposal 400 school districts and 100 schoolhouses. In the movement for common schools fittingly housed, Burlington and Dubuque were prominent as early as 1850; but no community made a better showing than Muscatine. Said p298the Jackson County Press in 1853: 'This enterprising city has now completed and occupies another large and splendid edifice for public school purpose costing about $8000'. About the same time the Chicago Advertiser said: 'Her [Muscatine's] public schools are a credit to any city. Two of her school buildings are in no way inferior to those in Chicago'.

Still, as late as 1868, nearly one-third of Iowa's 373,000 school population was not registered in any public institution. In 1868 Iowa had at least ninety-four private and denominational schools with 5800 students working largely 'from the top down' — to say nothing of fifty-five 'academies and colleges'. As Clarence R. Aurner reminds us, the public school was distrusted on its 'moral' side. In the public mind as late as the eighteen seventies, and even later, morality was closely associated with the religion, with the Bible. This, despite the contention by the board of education in Dubuque that 'the Free Public School can be governed and pervaded by moral ennobling influences'. In 1858 Judge Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Charles Mason, Iowa's veteran jurist (then a member of the State Board of Education), was in favor of making the Bible 'a standing text-book in every school', and to this the Board so far assented as to forbid the exclusion of the Bible from the schools. The next year the State Teachers' Association declared that 'the Bible should be read daily in the public schools'.208

p299 The Foreign-Born

The late eighteen forties and early fifties brought into Iowa (largely in Biblical groups) the foreign-born. In the proportion of such to native Americans, however, Iowa in 1850 ranked below Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Among the foreigners who came were Hollanders — rebels against ecclesiasticism. The men were 'broad-shouldered' and 'in velvet jackets'; the women 'fair-faced' and 'in caps'. Pella (spes nostra et refugium)b was their destination. 'But, Dominie, where is Pella?' 'We are in the midst of it', was the reply. 'But the dominie's little daughter, Johanna, like the little girl in the fairy story of Hans Christian Andersen, could not see anything at all. She thought to herself, "This Pella is all a make-believe".'209

Then, too, there came to Iowa Germans of whom many were artists and teachers. To Davenport came a musician who had been an intimate friend of Wagner; an artist who had been professor in one of the largest art schools in Germany; men and women of dramatic training.210 Davenport Germans presented plays of Molière, Shakespeare, Schiller. 'Farewell, my Fatherland, farewell!' sang the Davenport Maennerchor p300(1851) in strophes rendered in English by the versatile and (later) eminent John F. Dillon:

The wind is up, and the rudder creaks,

With full sails the ship her journey seeks;

Madonna guard me! thou who in grace doth all excel!

Farewell, my Fatherland, farewell!

Liberal Aristocrats

In 1849‑1850 Iowa welcomed from Hungary, under Count Ujházy, a small group of the followers of Louis Kossuth. They founded New Buda in Decatur County. Kossuth himself was to have come, but did not. 'The residence of the Governor of the colony and of Kossuth', says the Des Moines Valley Whig in 1851, 'is a log cabin fifty feet in length, twenty feet in width, the interior divided into three compartments for kitchen, dining room, and bed room. A modern cook stove stands near the fire place; kitchen utensils are on shelves. There are two beds, the snowy white of the linen contrasting with the vivid hues of their oriental coverings. A table stands near the window, covered with books and documents. A portrait of Washington is conspicuous'.211

Citizen Cabet

Then there was Étienne Cabet of France, enthusiast for democracy, the equality whereof must, he insisted, p301extend to property. Was not Jesus himself an Equalitarian? At Nauvoo Cabet purchased of the Mormons their recently vacated lands and buildings. His colony, called 'Icaria', was a Utopia, a Plato's Republic. Purity of morals, sweetness in philosophy, sublimity in faith — such were the outlines. 'We are Christians', announced Cabet, 'the Gospel is our law'. Life was to palpitate with joy. There was to be music by instrument and voice, the theatre, dancing, and public games. Nauvoo (in Illinois) was merely provisional. Iowa was to be ultimate — Iowa on the Nodaway in Adams County where there had been secured three thousand acres of land. And hither came the Icarians. In 1853 Count Ujházy, bidding Iowa adieu, acclaimed the incoming Icarians: 'As all true principles of liberty had their source in heart and spirit of France, it is most natural that social reforms should be begun by the same nation. . . . If I could have two native lands I should wish that Hungary be the first and France the second. . . . My best wishes will always be for the success of your colony'.212

Peasants

But already the influence of Cabet was sending toward Iowa men, other than Frenchmen, who sought freedom. A book by Cabet, The Voyage and Adventures of Lord Causdal in Icaria, reached a group of p302Biblical Germans — 'The Community of True Inspiration' — and to find Icaria they set forth in 1842. They came to New York, and later (1855) to Iowa. There in Iowa County they bought land — 18,000 acres. They laid out a village — an Icaria — not gay; not a place of music, of dancing, of the theatre; but a place of Teutonic austerity. Amana they called it — 'Keep the Faith'.213

Monks of La Trappe

Gloria patri, filii, et spiritus sanctiº

The followers of Kossuth quitted Iowa as the followers of Cabet entered it; but the French under Cabet had themselves been forestalled by other Frenchmen. Already there had settled near Dubuque a band of monks from an ancient Norman foundation — La Trappe. Their devoirs were three: Abstinence, Silence, Labor.

Driven from France by illiberality, the brotherhood in 1848 sought America. In 1849 Bishop Loras of Dubuque offered them land near that city. A building of medieval Gothic — white stone walls, arched windows, buttresses and spires — crowning a hill backed by trees and green fields. Such to‑day is the Iowa monastery of La Trappe.214 Amana and La Trappe! 'A number of former Catholics', we read, 'have subscribed to the faith' of the Inspirationists of p303Amana — even a Catholic priest 'wearied with the pomp and ceremony of the Church of Rome'. La Trappe at Dubuque permits to its voiceless votaries the inspiration of the eye: 'cloistered avenues', gardens aflame with salvia, roses, and peonies. Amana permits to votaries a German garden: old-fashioned four o'clocks, lady slippers, marigolds, and geraniums.

St. Donatus of Old Luxemburg

Among Catholic institutions near Dubuque, aside from La Trappe, St. Donatus greets us — chapel and seminary. Long has it rested in the little valley of Têtes des Morts. Thirteen priests it has supplied to the Catholic Church, and sixty-three sisters for the veil. It treasures a relic from the skeleton of good Donatus himself (dead over a thousand years). From the chapel there ascends to a Golgotha a winding way marked by altar stations of the Cross.215

The Revival

But, recurring to religionists in early Iowa who were native Americans, the Methodists and the Baptists led. They gave to the Commonwealth the 'camp meeting' and the 'revival'.

'Upon the right bank of the Des Moines river. . . . above the mouth of Chequest creek', says a pioneer of 1837, 'there was selected our "first temple", since p304known as "The old church tree". . . . This first service was . . . widely heralded and largely attended. There were perhaps a hundred people, including many Indians' — the latter on the edges of the crowd with blankets over their shoulders. 'I seldom pass that elm tree to this day', observes our pioneer, 'but that I unconsciously look at its roots as I did that day at Mr. Hill's [the preacher's] direction when he screamed: "Oh sinner, Look! Look! (bending with hands nearly to the ground) while I take off the hatch of hell!" . . . He did this after so arranging matters that I was sure young people in general, and I, in particular, were but a few inches above the rotten ridge pole of the burning pit. What a relief when he quit'.

Billy Sunday, Iowa revivalist, Fairfield, Iowa, 1907: 'My God, my friend, if the Lord would only draw back the veil which is between you and your coffin, you would leap back in horror to find it so near that you could reach out and touch it'.

In his account of the revival under the tree our pioneer of 1837 relates that beneath this tree, 'in citizen's clothes and with great stove pipe hat', he last saw Black Hawk. The old chief lay asleep, but what made the sight of him noteworthy was the hat.216

p305 The Methodists and the Baptists gave to early Iowa the camp meeting and the revival, but in things secular the Methodists took precedence. To them Iowa was indebted for James Harlan (United States Senator), Hiram Price (Congressman), George G. Wright (Supreme Court Judge and United States Senator), James B. Weaver (Congressman), William E. Miller (Supreme Court Judge), C. F. Clarkson (Editor), and John Mahin (Editor).

As between Iowa Methodist (an Emory Miller, for example) and Iowa Congregationalist a point is to be noted: the Methodist, a 'Gospel Ranger', sped here, sped there; the Congregationalist, Puritan in fixity, took stand once and forever. George R. Rice officiated at Council Bluffs for sixty years; William Salter at Burlington for over fifty years; Alden B. Robbins at Muscatine for fifty years; Edwin S. Hill at Atlantic for forty years; Ephraim Adams at Decorah and Waterloo for thirty years. As, at the close of life, each pastor of the Iowa Band laid down his task, he passed, so it is said, to the brother next in age his staff — emblem, like the torch of the Greek, of a course unfalteringly run.217

Biblical at the outset, education in Iowa continues in a degree still Biblical. To‑day the Catholic, the Quaker, the Hollander, the Lutheran, seeks to keep p306the training of youth under denominational control; and this, in the case of the Hollander and the Lutheran, to the extent of fostering the use of the Dutch and German tongues.

Shrines in early Iowa were denominational. But one there was that was undenominational — Amity College in Page County. Here early Iowa had one altar to the Unknown God.

Peter Cartwright and the Congregational Deacon
(As told by Cartwright himself)

'Well, my Kaintuck boy, said the deacon to me, for so he used to call me, 'what ails you?'

'O!' said I, 'deacon, I have been up [to Belpré in Ohio] among you sober, formal Yankees till my soul was nearly starved to death, and this is a ride-day with me, and there is nobody to interrupt my loud singing, shouting, or preaching. . . . And now, deacon, right here on this ridge . . . we must get down and pray to God till he converts your soul. If I can get you converted, we can go to Belpré and scare your cold, stiff Congregational preachers and the devil off' . . . Down I leaped from my horse and said to the deacon, 'Get down; you must be converted right here. Come, get down, or I'll pull you off'. . . . When we knelt, I urged him to pray . . . but to pray out I could not prevail on him to do. At length he took a long breath and uttered a piteous groan. I cried 'Amen!' . . . All at once he stood erect on his knees with a heavenly smile on his countenance. Then p307he uttered, 'Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good-will to men! I am happy in God.' From this out . . . we had success and a religious spirit that caused the people to love loud preaching, and even loud shouting, without giving them the headache.

p308 Iowa of the Old Adam

Congregationalists (the Iowa Band) and Methodists (followers of Peter and the other Cartwrights) made Iowa Biblical by displacing or suppressing the disciples of Abner Kneeland. Later, the Episcopalians ('proud of ancestry and privilege') took part in evangelization. Iowa's first Protestant Episcopal Bishop (1854) was Henry Washington Lee, D. D., of Rochester, New York. The names of certain counties of Iowa, if read from south to north are 'Lee', 'Henry', 'Washington'. 'Dr. Lee', exclaimed a fellow churchman on the former's consecration, 'must go to Iowa — his name Henry Washington Lee is inscribed in the soil of the State'. As for Iowa's second Episcopal Bishop, Rev. William Stevens Perry of Providence, Rhode Island — he was consecrated in 1876.

One July Fourth, Bishop Perry, by request of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, preached in the cathedral an 'American sermon'. The Bishop, as he himself relates, met on this occasion the Prince of Wales (Edward VII) and members of the Prince's family. The Prince observed that his family were not church goers. Whereupon one the Princesses interjected, with some humor, that when she p309heard that the 'Bishop of Iowa' was to preach, she resolved to attend from the thought that the Bishop of Iowa must, of course, be a 'Red Indian'.

It was before the day of either of the Bishops named that Iowa (in spots) became recklessly an Iowa of the Old Adam.

George Davenport — Banditti — Edward Bonney
(A Life Beyond)

Colonel George Davenport was known as a 'good pal'. He liked company. Withal he liked song. Company he was wont to bring to his house on the island of Rock Island from the town of Davenport across the Mississippi. To this town in 1842 there came from Cincinnati a relative of Davenport's — a young woman eighteen years old. Rose was her name, and she had a captivating voice. Often she sang for the Colonel and his household. Furthermore, she belonged in Davenport to a famous church choir (St. Anthony's) and her voice, sustained by flute, violin, and cello, was at times borne to the Colonel from the Iowa shore. On the island of Rochester Island in the eighteen forties George Davenport led a contented life.

On July 4, 1845, seated in his arm chair in the front room of his house, with his family absent at a celebration of the day, Colonel Davenport heard a noise p310in a back room. He opened the door between and was confronted by three men, one of whom shot him through the thigh. The gang seized him, threw him down, bound and blindfolded him, and extorted a disclosure of the whereabouts of his money. They then left their victim covered with blood to die. The treasure obtained was $400 in notes, a five franc piece, a gold watch and chain, a gun, and a pistol.

At the time of the Davenport murder, who should be living in Iowa (at Montrose) but Edward Bonney — a man who had just brought to the noose two robbers who were also murderers. To Bonney the Davenport case was referred. Bonney in a few months was able to fasten guilt (with penalty of hanging) upon six men — Baxter, Fox, Birch, Young, and John and Aaron Long. The activities of the six were horse theft, counterfeiting, house robbery, and as incidental to the latter, murder. Of the four sorts of crime in which the murderers of George Davenport specialized, horse theft was the chief. House robbing yielded disappointment; the sums 'raised' fell much below expectation. It was so in the Davenport case.218

Places in Iowa favored by horse thieves were dells and gorges along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and inland from the former stream on the Cedar-Iowa and the Des Moines. On the Mississippi such a place there was in Jackson County — the 'Big Woods'. To p311Bellevue in Jackson County in 1837 had come a party from Michigan. They drove good teams and were led by William W. Brown, a man of striking physique and engaging manners. Withal, Brown's wife was a woman handsome, accomplished, and above all, kind and helpful. Brown set himself to hotel keeping and to cutting wood and selling it to steamboats. He employed a score or more of men.

Soon after Brown's coming to Bellevue, counterfeit money began to appear thereabouts and horses and cattle to disappear. Brown became a justice of the peace. When any of his men were charged with horse or cattle theft (as they were) Brown befriended them. He provided alibis. Of interest to Iowans is the fact, developed by Bonney, that the men guilty of the murder of George Davenport (three of them at least) had been retainers of Brown's in his operations in and around Bellevue.219

Buried Treasure

William Fox alone of the gang tracked by Bonney saved his 'earnings'. Iowa was his bank — a spot of Mother Earth in the bluffs along the lower Des Moines. Had the Davenport murder yielded $30,000 or more, it was his purpose to retire with his share to normal life.

Banditti pelf! Buried treasure! Bonney himself felt p312the lure. 'I was also anxious', he says, 'to get some clue to Fox's money on the Des Moines River in Iowa, feeling confident that the money of which Col. Davenport was robbed was concealed with it'. 'Fix, John [Long] and I', said Birch to Bonney, 'travelled on [after the murder] until within one or two miles of the Des Moines River, when we stopped at a farmhouse. . . . Here John purchased some bees-wax . . . we left the main road, passed down a ravine . . . stopped, and made preparation to conceal the money and watch. They told me to take the bees-wax and lay it on a rock to warm in the sun. A portion of the paper money . . . was put into a glass bottle. . . . This bottle, containing some eight or nine hundred dollars [not all of it from Davenport], was sealed over with bees-wax, and buried near that place, together with about two hundred dollars in silver tied up in a cloth. Davenport's watch was also inclosed in bees-wax to prevent injury from wet, and buried with the money. . . . Fox passed on a short distance up the bluff, and buried it'.

'A few hours', says Bonney, 'before the execution of the Longs and Young [they were hanged at Rock Island], John Long informed a friend of Baxter's, that when Fox buried the money in the bluff on the Des Moines River, he made certain landmarks by which he or his friends could find the money'. Immediately p313after the execution, Bonney started in search of the money. 'I found the marks', he says. 'The fallen leaves from the forest trees had covered the ground, obliterating every mark where the earth had been removed, but after a close search I found where the robbers had deposited their treasure, and found three American half dollars, and two Spanish quarters, with other marks which proved that the money had been dug up and removed in the night, doubtless under the direction of Fox, after his escape' — for escape he did.220

A Life Beyond

George Davenport had been murdered and white men would avenge him. But there remained a duty to be performed by the Fox Indians, a band of whom had gathered about Fort Armstrong. There must be assured to the dead man a life beyond.

At the head of Davenport's grave, which was near the Davenport dwelling, the Foxes placed a white cedar post. This they now (on July 25th) embellished by brush and paint with headless human figures — symbols of Sioux killed by them in war. Fox braves, bearing each a war club, then paced rhythmically three times around the grave in direction opposite the course of the Sun. At each revolution the braves voiced a fervent prayer gesticulating toward the Sun and toward p314the northeast — the direction of the Mississippi River Sioux. It was implored of the Sun that he open to the departed the Sun portals. It was demanded of the Sioux that they attend the departed in the Sunset and be forever his bondmen there.221


The Author's Notes:

195 F. I. Herriott's Did Emigrants from New England First Settle Iowa? p47.

So great in 1855 was the craze for lands in Iowa, by Yankee and other immigrants, that in 1856 fear began to be felt that the supply might not hold out. Iowa boasted a hundred counties, but there might be need of more. Twice was Congress memorialized. Leet 'the northern boundary of Iowa be extended westward to the Missouri River'. So spake the memorials. Had they been heeded, nine counties would have been added to Iowa — nine counties of the present South Dakota — and again would Iowa have been Iowaland.

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196 Truman O. Douglass's The Pilgrims of Iowa, p57.

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197 Edmund H. Waring's History of the Iowa Annual Conference Methodist Episcopal Church, 1833‑1909 (Introduction by Rev. Emory Miller), p15.

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198 Autobiography of Peter Cartwright, pp119, 121.

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199 Ephraim Adams's The Iowa Band, pp33‑36.

In Iowa in 1842 there were said to be not more than 2133 professing Christians in a population of about 60,000. — Adams's The Iowa Band, pp54, 58.

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200 Mary R. Whitcomb's Abner Kneeland: His Relations to Early Iowa History in the Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. VI, pp340 et seq.

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201 Of Kneelandism in relation to Iowa Methodism, Barton Cartwright (p440)(a relative of Peter Cartwright) wrote: At a point near Davenport 'there lived a man named Church who was once a Presbyterian minister but had become a convert to infidelity under Abner Kneeland. He had come to hear me preach. From a rich church he had made his way to a log cabin on the prairie and he admitted to me that, in the condition the world is in, Christianity is better than infidelity'.

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202 Hawkins Taylor's Recollections of Thirty-Four Years Ago in the Annals of Iowa, Vol. VIII, pp339, 340.

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203 Thomas P. Christensen's Denmark — An Early Stronghold of Congregationalism in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XXIV, p108; see also Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. VII, pp1 et seq.

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204 James Bryce's The American Commonwealth (Early edition), Vol. II, p714.

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205 Clarence R. Aurner's History of Education in Iowa, Vol. IV, pp65, 278; Leonard F. Parker's Higher Education in Iowa, passim.

In point of sheer literacy (ability to read) Iowa in 1870 stood first among the States. — Iowa Historical and Comparative Census 1836‑1880, p. xxxvi.

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206 Many of the most powerful clergy of the State 'were ordained in denominations that maintained academies and colleges of their own. This extensive group of denominational schools presented a united front against the University. While the clergy of each might differ, frequently with bitterness, on points of dogmatic theology, doctrine, discipline and the plan of salvation, upon one point they were in cordial union, and joined as heartily against the University as they divided in respect to their several ideas of religion'. — John P. Irish in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. VIII, p555.

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207 Clarence R. Aurner's History of Education in Iowa, Vol. I, pp281, 282; Theodore S. Parvin's The Early Schools and Teachers of Iowa in the Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. III, pp445 et seq.; Orville F. Grahame's The First Iowa School in The Palimpsest, Vol. V, pp401‑407.

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208 Clarence R. Aurner's History of Education in Iowa, Vol. II, pp121, 197.

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209 Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. III, p254.

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210 Dr. A. L. Hageboeck, Davenport, Iowa; 'Davenport to‑day sustains a Municipal Art Gallery (C. A. Ficke Collection), which is probably the only municipal institution of the kind in the United States, one rich in masters: Poussin, Rembrandt, Salvator Rosa, Claude Lorraine, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Inness'.

So far as music was concerned, the Yankees themselves achieved notable things in Iowa between 1866 and 1871. Under the tutelage of H. S. and J. E. Perkins of Boston, they founded at Iowa City the 'Iowa State Normal Academy of Music'. The Academy presented with great credit not only such composition as Mozart's Twelfth Mass (chorus of some seventy-five voices), but also Haydn's Creation and Mendelssohn's Elijah, the latter for the first time west of Chicago. A pupil of the Academy was 'Hope Glenn', who later appeared in opera in Europe. — Pauline Grahame's The Academy of Music in The Palimpsest, Vol. X, pp328 et seq.

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211 Lillian M. Wilson's Some Hungarian Patriots in Iowa in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XI, pp479 et seq.

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212 Icaria in the Annals of Iowa, Vol. V, p848; Ruth A. Gallaher's Icaria and the Icarians in The Palimpsest, Vol. II, pp97 et seq.; Thomas Teakle's History and Constitution of the Icarian Community in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XV, pp214 et seq.; Charles Gray's The Icarian Community in the Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. VI, pp107 et seq.

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213 Bertha M. H. Shambaugh's Amana, The Community of True Inspiration Charles F. Noe's A Brief History of the Amana Society 1714‑1900 in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. II, pp162 et seq.; Perkins and Wick's History of the Amana Society; Bertha M. H. Shambaugh's Amana in The Palimpsest, Vol. II, pp193‑228.

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214 Bruce E. Mahan's New Melleray in The Palimpsest, Vol. III, pp265‑309; Perkins's History of the Trappist Abbey of New Melleray.

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(p442) 215 Welker Given's A Luxemburg Idyll in Early Iowa (a brochure).

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216 George C. Duffield's Frontier Church Going — 1837 in the Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. VI, pp266 et seq.; Cal. Ogburn's The Pioneer Religious Revival in the Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. XV, pp483 et seq.

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217 The Iowa Band and Daniel Webster. — On October 24, 1852, Daniel Webster ('god-like') died at his home in Marshfield, Massachusetts. The relation of the Iowa Band to the commemoration of Webster's life and character is striking. Rev. Ebenezer Alden of Tipton, Iowa, one of the Band, preached at Marshfield (where, having taken the 'back trail', he had become Congregational pastor) Webster's funeral sermon. He was not the only Iowa clergyman to preach a funeral sermon for Daniel Webster. In Muscatine, another 'Alden', a member of the Band, the Rev. Alden B. Robbins, spoke from the text, itself a sermon, Psalm 82, verses six and seven: 'I have said, you are gods, but ye shall die like men'.

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218 Edward Bonney's The Banditti of the Prairies; or, the Murderer's Doom (Philadelphia, 1855).

Thayer's Note: A partly conflicting account of Davenport's death is given in N. H. Parker, Iowa As It Is in 1856, p169; a historical sketch of the house and a photo are found in John Drury, Old Illinois Houses, pp126‑127; a contemporary report of Fox Indian ceremonies at his grave is given in The Palimpsest, 2:379‑381.
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219 Harvey Reid's Thomas Cox, pp126, 134, 144; History of Jackson County, Iowa (1879), pp324, 357‑364; Orville Grahame's The Vigilance Committees in The Palimpsest, Vol. VI, pp359 et seq.

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220 Edward Bonney's The Banditti of the Prairies; or, the Murderer's Doom.

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221 Based on an account in the Davenport Gazette of July 31, 1845, cited in The Palimpsest, Vol. II, pp379 et seq.


Thayer's Notes:

a A very brief but memorable picture of the man is painted by Rufus Rittenhouse, an eyewitness, in Boyhood Life in Iowa, p13.

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b The reference is to a sign that, according to Kor Postma, Greetings from America (5), was posted at the entrance to Pella, reading in full In Deo Spes Nostra et Refugium: "In God is our hope and refuge". The phrase is old, but not strictly speaking Scriptural although the sentiment is. It is found in the Instituta Regularia of the 6c monk Junillus, but became truly popular only several centuries later, in prayers and pious literature of the Middle Ages; then filtered down to family crests and the like. It ultimately derives from Psalm 91 (90), verses 1 and 9. At any rate it is appropriate to the religious foundation of Pella, the name of which can be thought of as meaning "refuge": for the somewhat abstruse details, see my note to "The American Occupation of Iowa, 1833 to 1860".


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