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Copyright 1999-2013,
 all rights reserved.

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

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

  
 

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Chapter II.

UNION COUNTY.

Geographically, Union County is situated 175 miles west of the Mississippi, and 80 miles east of the Missouri, on the high table-land lying between the two rivers, and in the second tier of counties north of the Missouri State line.  It contains about 275,000 acres, divided into twelve Congressional townships, and, at the highest point, is 1,280 feet above the level of the sea.  The climate is pleasant and healthy, and at all seasons of the year breezes fan the prairies, with never a day so sultry but that a cooling breath brings comfort to laborer or traveler.  The evenings are delightful, however heated the day may have been.  The weary artisan may lie down to rest at night and in the morning rise refreshed and prepared for his daily toil.

Old settlers say that sonsumption was never known to attack a victim here, and chronic or constitutional diseases are not frequent.  Malarial diseases, while more frequently met with, are of rare occurrence as compared with localities badly drained and supplied with poor water, good water being here readily obtained by digging wells from fifteen to thirty feet deep.

The larger portion of the county is a gently undulating prairie, resembling the waves of the ocean suddenly arrested in their swell and changed into soil, there being, however, a sufficient amount of timber and bottom lands to give variety to the face of the country and to gratify the tastes or prejudices of all who may wish to locate here.  Grand and Platte Rivers drain the greater part of the county, and in the immediate vicinity of such is considerable broken land, much of which is or has been covered with a fine growth of native timber, principally oak, ash, elm, hickory, maple and cottonwood.

The first settlers generally made their homes in the more protected localities, adjacent to a grove or stream, and many of them still continue to reside on the spot where they first located.  More recently, the prairie lands have been in demand and now command higher prices than the broken land near the rivers.

The soil is principally a black, sandy loam, from two to six feet deep, and, for farming purposes, inexhaustible.  Being devoid of rocks, stones or stumps, it is easy of cultivation, and produces large crops of grain and grass.  Unlike the clayey lands in the eastern portion of the State, the land in this county can be worked readily, after even severe rain storms, the sandy nature of the soil, coupled with the natural drainage, rendering this possible without inconveniences or detriment to the growing crops.  Another important feature is its capability to resist severe drouths, which will sometimes occur in any country, a failure of crops from this cause being comparatively unknown.

Among the first settlers it was generally supposed that any attempts at fruit growing would at best meet with but indifferent success, and they were accordingly rather slow to improve in that direction.  A few of the more enterprising, however, planted orchards, which are to-day in full bearing, a credit alike to their owners and to the county.  So soon as it became evident that fruit could be successfully grown, trees were very generally planted out, and are now just commencing to bear fruit, thus yielding quick and profitable returns.

As an agricultural and stock growing county, Union, though new and but partially developed, will compare favorabley with any other in the State, her high, rolling prairies and alluvial bottom lands forming a basis of wealth and prosperity which cannot be overestimated; also, her numerous water courses, constituting a perfect natural system of drainage, and at the same time furnishing an inexhaustible supply of water for stock and mechanical purposes, are a source of profit as well as convenience to the neighboring settlers.

Of the productions of the county we may say that corn is the staple, the reliable crop of all our farmers; wheat, oats, basrley and rye are also extensively cultivated -- ordinarily with profitable results.  Flax has of late years met with much favor, and yields quick and satisfactory returns.  The soil is peculiarly adapted to the raising of root crops, which often astonish the most experienced by their wonderful growth.

Native and English grasses flourish well, making  a luxuriant growth and are as rich and nutritious as can be found in any part of our country.  Favorable weather usually enables the husbandman to gather in this crop in the very best condition, and stock is easily kept upon it throughout the entire winter without the use of a particle of grain.

(MORE TO COME)

 

 

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