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Illustrated Centennial
Sketches, Map and Directory
of Union County, Iowa.

Published by C. J. Colby, Creston, Iowa (1876).


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Chapter I.




This State originally was embraced in the territory known as the "Louisiana Purchase," which was acquired from France under the treaty of 1803, and the first white man who settled on its soil was Julien Dubuque, a French trader, who, in the year 1788, obtained from his government a large grant of land, including the site of the city of Dubuque and the rich mineral lands adjacent thereto.

He there built a small fort and for many years carried on a profitable trade with the numerous tribes of Indians whose hunting grounds were contiguous to him; he also discovered the valuable mineral deposits in his vicinity, which have since been so richly developed, and, in a small way, carried on a mining business, traces of which, it is claimed, can be seen at the present time.

In 1810, Dubuque died, and for nearly a quarter of a century thereafter no white settler made a permanent home within the limits of this State. Occasionally a trader, hunter or trapper would make a temporary sojourn, but nothing more.  In 1838, several companies of persons from Illinois and adjacent States, crossing the Mississippi, settled near where the city of Burlington now stands, and these were the nucleus around which has since gathered the present population of the State.

In the year 1834, the Territory was, by act of Congress, placed under the jurisdiction of the State of Michigan, and two years later was transferred to that of Wisconsin. 

From 1833 to 1838, considerable accessions were made to the white population by settlers from Eastern States, and numerous settlements were founded, extending along the river from Keokuk to Dubuque.

In the year last named, the Territory of Iowa was organized and embraced not only the present State of Iowa, but also Minnesota and Dakota, with a total area of 194,000 square miles.  The first territorial officers were installed at Burlington, July 4th, 1838, and the capital was there temporarily located, but was changed to Iowa City in 1839, where it remained until the year 1857, when it was removed to Des Moines, the present capital.

In 1844, Congress was petitioned to admit Iowa into the Union as a State, but as some features of the proposed State Constitution did not fully harmonize with that of the United States, it was not until two years later that the obstacles were removed and the Hawkeye State became on of the sisterhood, being the twenty-ninth State admitted into the Union.

In 1857, a convention, elected for that purpose, met in Iowa City and framed our present State Constitution, which was adopted by the people after a sharp contest -- the vote being, for 40,311, and against 38,681.

As at present organized, the State has a length from east to west of 300 miles and a breadth of 208, with an area of 55,000 square miles, or upward of 35,000,000 acres; its eastern and western boundaries are formed by those noble streams, the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, which, with their numerous tributaries, the Des Moines and Iowa on the east, and the Big Sioux, Boyer, Soldier and Nishnabotna on the west, form a collection of rivers such as few other States can boast, either for navigable or other purposes.

Appropriately named "Iowa" from the Indian "beautiful land," no State presents greater inducements for settlement and investment, and the quick calculating eye of the emigrant seeking a home is not slow to perceive and profit by the many advantages offered by the high rolling prairies and alluvial bottom lands which are to be found all over the State; and when we add to these advantages its admirable territorial position, salubrious climate, and beautiful undulating scenery, what wonder that already the Hawkeye State boasts a population of over a million and a quarter of intelligent, enterprising citizens, whose beautiful prairie homes surrounded by groves of fruit and forest trees speak words of welcome to other thousands "hedged in" in older and more densely populated countries?  Millions of Iowa's best acres are only awaiting the breaking plow of the settler to laugh with a golden harvest, and will yield ample compensation to every man who will put forth his hand and gather in the sheaves.

With nearly the whole of its area covered with a soil as fertile as that of the famed valley of the Nile, with 24,000 square miles of coal fields underlying its surface, with 3,100 miles of railroad spreading like a net over the State, and last, but not least, with its population actuated by that Anglo Saxon spirit of grit and enterprise which is so marked a characteristic of its citizens, the future of Iowa is safe, and thousands who may hereafter make their homes among us will forever bless the Greeley slogan, or whatever other impulse first actuated them to make their homes in these "great gardens near the setting sun."

Here the free spirit of mankind at length
Throws its last fetters off, and who shall trace
A limit to repress its matchless strength,
Or stay its swiftness in the onward race?



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