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History of Guthrie and
Adair Counties, Iowa, 1884

Adair - Introduction.


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Adair County,


Chapter I.


To enter upon the work of writing up a history of Adair county, to detail its early settlement, its gradual growth in all its detail up to the present time, to give the annals of each town and village, each body or corporation, and the history of its more prominent men, both of the past and present, is no light task, nor to be approached in any spirit of levity.  That, which in the columns of a local newspaper, might sound both witty and pertinent, should not adorn the sober pages of history.  Much that is suited to familiar gossip and general yarn-spinning, and is really entertaining, must be strictly kept out of these annals, or else the dignity of history be confounded.

Let us then soberly and calmly approach the work and conscientiously discharge our task, without fear or favor, for posterity must be the judge as to its merit, if such it have.

For countless ages, prior to the advent of white men in this section of the Great Republic, these virgin prairies lay untilled, the abode of savage beasts, wild game, both four-footed and winged, and scarcely less savage man, the red man of the aboriginal race.  For years he roamed and hunted over these plains and hills, caring only for to-day, and casting thoughts of the future to the winds.  Here he built his frail teepee and brought his little family.  We are told by those who have studied upon the subject, that the Indian, especially of the valley of the Mississippi, were not, as a general thing, gregarious in their habits, preferring to live in single families, or small knots of kindred at the most.  Sometimes, to be sure, they were found in considerable villages, but a close observation leads to the belief that where this occurred it was when they did so for defense, or some of the ideas that a community of interests drew them together temporarily.  Be that as it may, there is no record of any extensive village or permanent abiding place of these savage nomads to be found within the boundaries of what is now Adair county.  Indians there were, and sometimes a collection of three, four of five tepees were seen by the pioneers, but nothing that would lead to the belief of this being anything more than a hunting place.  Game abounded on all sides.  Wapiti, sometimes called elk by the old settlers, but which is of a different species from the true elk, red deer, bear, and sometimes a stray buffalo, wandered over these rich pastures, singly, in groups, or in large herds.  Beaver, mink, sable and other fur-bearers disputed the possession of the streams with myriads of finny tribes, and the Indian was in Paradise.  But soon a change came over all this, upon the advent of that bold, hardy, Anglo-Saxon race, in its march from the shores of the Atlantic westward. to found new empires -- new states of this glorious confederacy.  The white tilted wagon that has marked the downfall of the native race and the dawning of a new era for the country in so many states, began soon to show themselves within our boundaries, and soon the aborigine, feeling the incompatability of the two races, took up his march toward the sunset, fleeing before the march of civilization, faintly shadowed forth by the pioneers who first stuck their stakes in this, then, wilderness.

The pioneers!  how that word strikes a responsive chord in every bosom --- how at its sound we conjure up the bold, hardy and adventurous father of a family packing up a few indispensables and turning his back upon the parent roof-tree, all its conveniences and luxuries, and plunging into a savage and untried wilderness, far in advance of the hosts of civilization, there to carve him out a new home.  Rugged men, with nerves and muscles of steel, and hearts bold as the vikings of old, they merit our fullest admiration of their heroism, for heroic it was, this defying of nature in her wildest moods.  Let, then, the tablets of history bear their honored names, that when, in a few short years, they have been called to the land of the hereafter, their deeds and actions perish not with them, and that coming generations may have ever before them the bright examples of these noble men.

Rough were they in many cases, and uncouth, yet in them lies the true nobility that lifts a man from an ignominious position and places him upon a high pedestal.  Burns, the Scottish poet, truly says:

"The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The gold the gold for all that."

And although in many cases these bold pioneers were men of limited educations and social training, men who would be out of place in the gilded salons of society, or the silken boudoir of beauty, still they were possessors of a noble manhood that is the monopoly of no race or caste.  Then honor to these noble men, and women, too, that first broke the way for civilization into the wild prairies of Adair county;  that here planted the seeds that have grown into such a flourishing community;  that have had a prominent hand in making it what it is.

When these argonauts first came here they were completely isolated from their kind.  No railroads and, in fact, no roads of any kind, connected them with the far away land of their kin.  No house in which to dwell, until they could rear their humble log cabin, no neighbors to render aid in sickness or trouble, no one to close their eyes in death --- alone.  Life with them was not all a rosy dream, but a hard and bitter struggle with want, penury and privation, and the wonder is that they should still be spared to us, after almost a life-time of toil and conflict, but still many of them linger this side of the grave.  Let us then hasten, and inclining the ear, listen to their tales of by gone days, the story of their lives, the description of their acts during the heroic age, that history may inscribe them upon her tablets, a monument, when they are gone, more enduring than stone or bronze.

The men of to-day, hardy sons of heroic sires, prominent in official or in commercial circles, also deserve a place in history, for "each day we live, we are making history," and the details of the rise and growth of the business interests of the county are not without their value in observations on the gradual rise of this section from barbarism and a wilderness to the teaming farm-lands, interspersed with cities, towns and villages, as we now find it.  These and many other things will engage attention, but yet the keynote of the whole, under-running the whole, like a minor chord in music, will be found the sorrowful thought that all must pass away.  These old settlers must be gathered to their fathers; the men so full of business and activity today, must go down into the grave; the youth and budding maiden, rise to manhood and womanhood, linger and decay, and even children that now linger 'round their parents' knee, give place to other people and other things.  Then the value of history will be better understood, when all these actors upon the stage of life have lain down,

"With patriarchs of the infant world, -- with kings,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre."

Then posterity will hail with gladness these annals of the times and deeds of their forefathers, that they may pattern after their noble sires.



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