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TERRITORIAL PIONEERS

The Rev. Charles E. Brown Who Came to the Forks of the Maquoketa as Baptist Missionary in 1842.

(Written by Farmer Buckhorn for the Jackson County Historical Society.)


When, in writing the past of some prominent man, it becomes necessary as is sometimes the case, to expose only the delightful views as seen on life's broadway screening the alleys with silent lies, it is not a pleasant duty to perform. It is a positive delight to turn to such a man as Charles Edwin Brown, whose whole eventful busy life was as an open book with each side of every leaf turned a clean page. At his own request he was appointed missionary to Iowa territory in 1842. He left the comforts of an older community, and brought the gospel into the sparsely settled region of the Maquoketa valley, and spread it into distant wilderness parts, going on foot or by rude conveyances many miles over trackless prairies, through forests and across bridgeless waters, sometimes swimming swollen screams.

He organized and became the pastor of the first Baptist church of the Maquoketa region, which was also the first in the territory embraced in Jackson, Clinton and Jones counties. This church was organized at the house of Wm. Y. Earle, three miles southwest of Maquoketa. He organized the first Sunday school in Clinton county. His labors were not wholly confined to spiritual needs for he was intensely interested in educational matters. With his own hands he helped fell the trees and hew the logs and erect the first school house in Jackson and Clinton counties near Wright's corners. He went east to York state to seek aid in building the first academy at Maquoketa, and was one of its trustees. His good wife and others, among them Mrs. J. E. Goodenow and Mrs. Sophia Shaw, boarded free of charge the workmen who worked on the structure in order to curtail expenses of building.

His coming meant much for eastern Iowa, and especially Jackson county, as undoubtedly it pointed the way to others who became life long residents of these parts and reared families of useful citizens and ornaments to society, and some have become prominent. We believe that neither C. E. Brown's parents, nor brothers, ever came here to reside as his father and several of his brothers were ministers of the gospel laboring in other fields. His wife, Frances Lyon-Brown, however, was a sister of Mrs. Truman A. N. Walker, a lifelong and respected resident near Maquoketa.

Their son, Nelson Walker, in company with George D. Lyon, brother of Mrs. Brown, was in the mercantile business in Maquoketa in an early day and died there a the home of C. E. Brown. Another son George Walker, in later years was a member of the Washington state legislature and had the honor of naming Idaho. Mrs. Brown was also the sister of Mrs. James O. DeGrush another pioneer and lifelong resident near Maquoketa, mother of Fred DeGrush, Civil war veteran and a lifelong worker here as an
educator. Mrs. Brown was also the sister of Mrs. Stephen W. Brown (not related to the pastor) of Little Falls, N. Y., who was the mother of the late Mrs. Julia Dunham of Maquoketa.

In the Rev. Brown's own family there were those who like their father became distinguished and useful to the world giving the lie to that old saw, "for a devil give us a preacher's son." Two of his sons served their country during the Civil war. After the war Charles P. Brown was many years a faithful and successful revenue agent and is now a successful business man of Ottumwa, Iowa. James D. Brown was for many years a trusted, respected agent of the C. M. & St. P. R. R. Co. at Lime Springs, Iowa. W. C. Brown commenced as telegraph operator and by perseverance rose to be General Superintendent of all the Burlington lines of railroad in Iowa, and is now vice-president and general manager of the New York Central Railway. These sons of the Rev. Brown had no backing only their own efforts and noble qualities inherited and instilled into them by their parents.

Though Maquoketa was the Rev. Brown's first field of labor in Iowa, it was not his only one. He spent several years at Davenport and did much work there and at Rock Island and LeClaire, and afterwards at Vernon and Lime Springs in Howard county. From that county in 1877, he was elected to represent the county in the 17th general assembly of Iowa. In the session following among other work he introduced a resolution to amend the state constitution so as to authorize a majority of a jury to bring in a verdict in civil cases. It passed the House but was pigeonholed in the Senate, as a great many other things are which should become law.

He took the ground that in the early history of the jury system the unanimity rule governing verdicts was not known, that a majority of the jury was competent to deliver a verdict, was the rule in England for many years and still the rule in different European countries. The unanimity rule was the result of gradual changes in the system by designing self interest to protract litigation and was contrary to the principles of a republican form of government in which, as in this country, a majority must of right rule. It often defeated the ends of justice by hanging the jury or by leading men to return a verdict contrary to their honest convictions rather than be kept virtual prisoners an indefinite length of time. We have not space here to reproduce the entire plea for the measures which was eloquent and fraught with much sound reasoning.

There is much in our own recollections and more in that of other old settlers to eulogize the Rev. Brown, who often preached here at Buckhorn. For the details of his coming and pioneer work we are especially aided by a brief account written by himself to please his children and a few copies published in book form at their expense to distribute among immediate members of the family as souvenirs. The copy I have been allowed to use is in the Walker family. It is brief but every page calls up to intelligent minds so much endured by pioneers, so much of historical interest not only to the student of theological history but civil as well, that volumes seem passing before the mental vision. It is a modest, simple description of a noble life's work, and is of great value to those interested in early religious and civil history of eastern Iowa and reads like romance If it was twice as long it would be well worth a place in the Annals of Jackson County. We will copy mostly form it as it is much better compiled than one like me can do, who only received a little "oil of hickory" and district school education with grammar entirely left out as a not to be endured affliction.


PERSONAL REMINISCENCES WRITTEN BY REV. CHARLES BROWN 1813-1893

"To the memory of my beloved wife, Frances Lyon Brown, who for nearly half a century shared with me the trials and hardships of pioneer life, whose loving, cheerful presence made the frontier cabin the happiest of homes, and whose happy hopeful disposition found a silver lining to every cloud, however dark, these reminiscences are lovingly inscribed.

I write this at the solicitation of my children and commence it this 23d day of February, 1893, the 80th anniversary of my birth. For several considerations I am admonished to be brief. I was born the 23d of February, 1813, in the town of Augusta, Oneida county, N. Y. My father, the Rev. Phillip Perry Brown, was born in the town of Bennington, Vt., and died September 1876, at Madison, Madison Co., N. Y., aged 86. For over fifty years he was a successful pastor of Baptist churches in central New York. My mother, Betsy Dickey, born in Weathersfield, Vt., was a descendant of the Scotch-Irish Dickey, who emigrated from Londonderry, north of Ireland and settled in Londonderry, New Hampshire, before the Revolutionary war. My good mother died in Hamilton, N. Y., April, 1862. aged 74. I am the second of nine children—six sons and three daughters. The two youngest and myself are the only ones now living (1893). Two brothers are buried at Port Byron, Rock Island Co., Ill., one brother at St. Louis, Mo., one in Newport, Herkimer Co., N. Y., one sister in Litchfield, Herkimer Co., N. Y., one sister at Lime Springs, Howard Co , Ia. My parents are buried at Madison, Madison Co., N. Y.

Before my recollection my parents moved to Smithfield, Madison county, N. Y., a new country heavily timbered. In the midst of poverty, or very limited means, and the hardships incident to such a new country I lived until past 18 years of age. Our sugar was made from the sap of the maple. Our luxuries were the flour short cake, the nut cake and the sweetened Johhnnie cake, luxuries not often indulged in. In the fall, we were favored with samp and milk—sometimes had a mess of brook trout. Our youthful sports consisted in apple pearings, snap and catch buttons, drop the handkerchief and like sports, sliding down hills and attending spelling schools. Our school books consisted of Webster's spelling book, the English reader, and Daboll's arithmetic. The family was blessed with good health the physician was seldom called. My father became pastor of the Baptist Church in Augusta in the fall of 1829. During the summer and fall of 1831 I worked as a farm hand for a farmer by the name of Danford Armour.

The Armour farm was at the summit of what was known as the "mile hill," the grade commencing at Lelands Tavern afterwards known as the "Five Chimney House," near the top of the "mile hill" the road forked the main road for quite a distance running southwest then south the other running due west.

The Armour farm lay along the west side of this west road, and was bounded on the east by the main road, then called the "Peterboro turnpike." The house was a small one, being one and a half story and unpainted. A small kitchen and two small rooms below and a kind of a store room and one small bed room above. An old-fashioned chimney and fireplace in the south end, with a ladder leading to the chamber standing at the side of the fireplace.

Two little boys in dresses, named Simeon and Watson, and a little girl baby in the mothers arms together with the father and mother made up the family. The following year a third boy was born, called Phillip D. The home was a very happy though an humble one.

The parents of Danford Armour came at an early date from New England to New York, which at that time was "out west". Many years later Danford returned to Connecticut to find a helpmate who was Miss Julia A. Brooks, a daughter of a thrifty well-to-do Yankee farmer. I feel the incidents are especially worth notice when I realize the influence for good throughout the west which the three little boys above mentioned have exalted during the last twenty-five years. Phillip D., Simeon B. and A. W. Armour have honored the name they bear and the place that gave them birth and are an honor to the sturdy New England stock from which they sprang. When I left the employ of Mr. Armour there was due me for four months work $32.00, which was paid me in cash.

Within a week from the time I received this money, I met an acquaintance, who knew of the amount I had received, and who wanted to borrow just that amount. He plead so earnestly and made such fair promises to pay in a short time I let him have the money. It has been on interest ever since. I went to Augusta late in the fall to learn the tanning, currying and shoe making business with Hazzard Wilber, a deacon of my father's church. In the month of September, 1832, in a three days' revival meeting, became a christian with many others and was baptized by my father, and was soon impressed with the conviction it was my duty to preach the gospel and in a few weeks entered Hamilton literary and theological seminary, now Colgate University. In the spring of 1833 Prof. Daniel Haskell, started a manual labor school at Florence Oneida county, for the benefit of poor young men. I entered that school. During term time out of school hours my roommate joined me in chopping down the big trees and preparing them for logging. During vacation, with a hired yoke of oxen, we logged and cleared the land, and thus paid a part of the expense of our education. Three winters I taught school, in the winter of 1834-35, I taught in Pittston at the head of the Wyoming Valley in Luzern county, Pa., in sight of Pittston across the Susquehanna river the Wyoming Massacre of the settlers by the British tories and Indians occurred July, 1778.

Among the little girls carried away by the Indians was Francois Slocum, One of my pupils, a young lady, was a niece of this Francis Slocum. Fifty seven years had passed and no intelligence had ever been received of Francis Slocum. Some eight or ten years after this she was found among the remnants of a tribe of Indians in Indiana, the wife of an Indian, and the mother of grown up children. A brother and sister from Pennsylvania visited her at her Indian home and tried to induce her to go and spend the small balance of her life with them, but she declined preferring to remain with her children.

In 1838 I held revival meetings in the township of Frankfort, Herkimer county four or five miles west of Frankfort village. A good helper in these meetings was old Father Harvey, a licensed preacher 104 years old. His wife (second marriage) was so much younger than himself, her family opposed the marriage for the reasons she would soon have a helpless old man on her hands to care for. She had become old and feeble and Father Harvey being much the smarter and more active had a feeble old lady on his hands to care for which he did with the utmost tenderness and love. After this Father Harvey preached in Utica and other places.

In rising in the pulpit, as in his younger days, the first thing was to take off his coat. I love to think of these school house revivals, with the minds eye, I can see Father Harvey in his chair in front of the school house desk. With the minds ear, I can hear Father Harvey's tender and heart moving voice in prayer and exhortation During the months of April and May of 1838, preached for the Baptist church in Frankfort At this time my father, then pastor in Litchfield eight miles south of Utica, was engaged in revival meetings at Little Falls twelve miles below Frankfort on the Mohawk river. The meetings were interesting and powerful. I went down to witness the display of God's saving mercy and help in the good work. From Frankfort (bridge over the Mohawk) to Little Falls, was my first ride on a railroad. The rails were made of wood with a strap of iron about the width and thickness of a cart tire on top. The passenger coaches consisted of two apartments, each having cross seats facing each other. The passenger on one seat riding backwards. The conductor, while collecting tickets, walked on a plank outside and held onto an iron rail under the eaves of the coach. Arriving at Little Falls, I went directly to the church where the meetings were held. After the services I was taken to the home of Mr. Stephen M. Brown, sheriff of Herkimer county for entertainment and with the understanding it would be my home while 1 remained in the place. Though of the same name we were entire strangers and that was my first visit at Little Falls. Meeting with a cordial reception, I very soon felt at home. Mr. Brown's family, consisted of himself and wife, Francis Lyon and George D. Lyon brother and sister of Mrs. Brown. ("It was this chance meeting of Francis Lyon that eventually done so much for Iowa.") George had been a member of the Baptist church for some time. Francis, then twenty-five years of age, was a bright, decided and interesting convert of the revival then in progress. Rev. J. W. Omestead so long the editor of the Watchman was pastor of the church at this time.

With a class of about twenty-five, I finished the course at Hamilton July 15th, 1838. Through the agency of my brother William then pastor of the Baptist church at Newport, Herkimer county. I was invited to visit the church at Norway, four miles from Newport, with the view of a settlement as pastor. The visit resulted in a call to the pastorate of that church to commence the following November. The 20th of September at Litchfield, where my father was pastor, 1 was ordained to the work of preaching the gospel. The 26th of the same month, in the Baptist church at Little Falls, I was married to Francis Lyon, Rev. Augustus Beech officiating. The good providence of God, so distinctly marked, made no mistake in the selection of a most worthy and suitable helpmate for the young pastor.

Early the following November, we commenced housekeeping in the parsonage at Norway and also the untried and inexperienced work and responsibility of pastorial work, on a salary of $275 per annum and the use of the parsonage. We were both poor but through the kind generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Brown we had a very plain but sufficient outfit for keeping house. From this date I will associate my wife in my labors and as a general thing use the pronoun we.

For reasons that for the time seemed sufficient we remained in Norway but eighteen months. We found two of the deacons were working against us because the pastor quite often used the same text in the morning and in the afternoon presenting different branches of the same subject, this was done to avoid preaching long sermons. Not knowing what might be the outcome we quietly resigned leaving the church in peace and harmony, so that when we returned in 1851 from the missionary work in Iowa, to repair lost health we received a very cordial call to a second pastorate of the Norway church, one of the best we have ever labored with. During our residence in Norway our first child—a little boy—was born in July, 1839, whom we named Benjamin Perry.

I was appointed by the association to visit the Morehouseville church twenty miles north of Norway, far away in the dense wilderness. During our first pastorate at Norway we made a Missionary tour into the wilderness twenty miles beyond Morehouseville to a new settlement at the head of Peseca lake.

On leaving Norway our next field of labor was Warren, one of the southern towns in Herkimer Co., entering the work April, 1840. During the first year but little could be accomplished on account of the all absorbing political campaign of "log cabin hard cider, Tippecanoe and Tyler too," which resulted in the election of William Henry Harrison as president and John Tyler as vice-president. The second year manifested a good deal, of religious interest. Our increasing interest in and love for missionary work directed our thoughts to some field in the distant west. In October, 1840 in Warren, our second son, Chas. P. Brown, was born.

In October of that year, 1841, our wish was laid before the Board of the New York State Missionary Convention at the annual meeting held at Whitesborough. In the application nothing was said about salary or any local field, only send us to Iowa Territory. The convention endorsed the application and recommended an appointment by the Board of the A. M. Baptist Home Mission Society. In due time the appointment came, designating the Forks of the Maquoketa, Jackson county, Territory of Iowa, as the field, on a salary of one hundred dollars per annum and seventy-five dollars for traveling expenses to the field.

As household goods could not be transported so far, we sold all except clothing, bedding, a common table and stand, which, could be conveniently packed in boxes, and a kitchen rocking chair, for the comfort and convenience of the mother in caring for the children on the journey. We also bought a cook stove of small size, which we took to pieces and packed in straw. Our goods, well packed in boxes, weighed about 1,600 pounds. Monday, May 2, 1842 we left Utica on a canal line boat for Iowa. These boats had a comfortable cabin with berths in the bow for passengers and a good cook and dining cabin in stern and the space mid-ship for freight and baggage. The fare, with board and lodging, was two cents a mile, and no charge for young children. We had good traveling company, the board, clean and nice, the captain and hands pleasant, sober and accommodating, so that the trip from Utica to Buffalo,—200 miles—was comfortable and pleasant. We arrived at Tonawanda, twelve miles from Buffalo at twelve o'clock Saturday night, and as the boat did not run on Sunday we lay by until 12 o'clock Sunday night arriving at Buffalo just at daylight Monday morning.

Our goods were transferred from the canal boat to the steamboat Great Western Captain Walker, which was to leave for Chicago that evening. We felt that we were fortunate. The fare from Buffalo to Chicago had just been reduced by reason of competition, from $20 to $18. The freight on our goods from Buffalo to Chicago was $18. When the time arrived for leaving the harbor there were some 800 passengers on board probably not fifty of them had ever been on the water before and nearly all going to Illinois, Wisconsin and regions beyond. It was nearly dark when the great steamer was fairly out upon the dark but quiet waters of Lake Erie with ominous clouds gathering in the west. The cabin passengers were very generally gathered on the promenade deck some looking back upon the lights of the city and towards the homes and loved ones there, some looking out sadly upon the dark waters, others looking anxiously upon the gathering and threatening clouds in the west, and very many with tearful eyes. It was one of the most intensely interesting, solemn scenes we ever witnessed and took part in. We retired to our state room, but I guess not to sleep much. The storm came down upon us in the night, but our noble steamer met and faced it bravely, and brought us safely into the harbor at Cleveland. The effects of the storm upon the stomachs of the passengers were readily inferred by the slim attendance at the breakfast table. We lay at Cleveland a few hours for the wind to subside. Except having the same thing repeated on Lake Huron, which compelled us to lay by at Preqsue Isle four hours, we had pleasant sailing to Chicago, where we arrived Sunday at 1 p. m., and put up at a small two-story tavern called the New York house. In the evening we attended meeting at the Baptist church, and heard Elder Thomas Powell preach. The house stood on the lot now occupied by the Chamber of Commerce building.

This church building was built by boards and battens up and down, with no ceiling except naked collar beams, rafters and roof boards. The court house close by enclosed by a common fence and ornamented with forest shade trees, looked like a five acre lot with a brick court house way to the north side of it.

Monday we hired a man from Bockford, who had been in with a load to take us and our goods to Savanna on the Mississippi river. It was a lumber wagon. After loading the boxes, the rocking chair we had brought from our New York home was fastened on top of one of the boxes, a little chair purchased at one of the furniture store was fastened beside the rocker. My good wife cheerfully mounted and took her seat in the rocking chair with the youngest child in her lap and the other one by her side remarking: "Now this is first rate." I took a seat beside the driver with our feet resting on the whippletrees ready for a trip of 200 miles to our future home in Iowa Territory.

We were fortunate in having a dry spring and did not have to use the poles in the streets of Chicago to pry us out of the mud. We stopped the first night twelve miles out on the Elgin road. Second night stopped at a log tavern sixteen or eighteen miles west of Elgin at Pigeon Woods. Here a ravenous appetite was destroyed by badly tainted ham and in consequence of two stage loads of passengers to provide for our bed was on the floor. Early next morning we proceeded on our journey and got breakfast at a small cabin tavern at or near where Marengo now stands. At noon were at Belvidere where we enjoyed a short visit with Prof. S. S. Whitman, one of our former teachers at Hamilton. Here too, we visited the public square and looked upon the stakes then standing of the burying place of an Indian chief. The Indian was gone but the upright poles and a few remnants of his burial dress yet remained—a sad memorial of the past. That evening at 9 o'clock we arrived at the west side tavern at Rockford. Our driver went to his home in the little village, and we to supper and rest expecting to resume our journey in the morning. To our disappointment our driver had been subpoenaed in a suit to come off that week and could not resume the journey until the next Monday. While tarrying we found a good home and kind friends in the family of Rev. Solomon Knapp, pastor of the Baptist church. We preached for Elder K., the following Sunday—our first sermon in the west.

Monday morning we started in good health and good spirits on the Galena stage road to twelve mile grove, then directly west toward the Mississippi river—good day, smooth roads and brought up at Mr. Crane's cabin in Crane's Grove about sundown and there we stopped for the night as it was eighteen miles to the next grove. Mrs. Crane, a woman in middle life, had just come in from the stable yard with a pail of milk. She was a Kentuckian. In reply to the inquiry, if she could keep us over night, she replied, "O I reckon though I'm mighty tired. The old cow gives a right smart of milk, nigh onto a half a bushel." Next morning the teamster found one of his horses dead—had over fed with grain. We hired Mr. Crane to take us eighteen miles to Cherry Grove. We stopped over night with a farmer, Mr. Gardner, a brother-in-law of Mr. Crane, who took us next morning to Savanna. We crossed over with our goods that night to Charleston—now Sabula—and put up at the tavern. Next morning we hired a man to take us twenty-live or thirty limes to our journey's end. In consequence of rain we did not get a very early start. At noon we stopped at a log cabin on the west side of Deep creek for dinner. The woman had nothing but eleven eggs. These we boiled, but the children would not eat them and we passed no other human habitation until long after dark and the children had cried themselves to sleep. At midnight we dove up to the cabin of Mr. C. M. Dolittle, the end of our long journey. The good folks got up, gave us our supper, then gave us their bed and the teamster a settee in the room for his bed and Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle and the children, who had been in bed with them retired to the loft.

Tired and worn by the long journey, especially the last 200 miles in a lumber wagon, we retired to rest four in a bod and rested sweetly with no unpleasant dreams. Our stopping place was about one mile south of where Maquoketa now stands, close by the old ford at the head of McCloy's mill pond. The country around which we could not see by reason of darkness, we could not see the next morning by reason of a fog. As we were poor and our support, except the $100 pledged by the missionary board, was to come from the field, we made some inquiry about the church with which we were to labor. But to our surprise there was no church and the settlement was new with only a few Baptist members scattered over a large territory. The prospects that morning were not only foggy but somewhat blue, a feeling however, we deemed best to conceal. Our good wife did the same thing, made no complaint, nor expressed a word of regret. In the morning in company with the brother of the log cabin, we called on some families two or three miles west or northwest. In our walk the wind breezed up took all the fog away, and with it went all our blue feelings for a most charming prairie landscape was spread out to the south and southwest with the Maquoketa timber for a background on the north. The only drawback to my good feelings was the thought, But how does my dear wife feel about the prospects? This troublesome doubt was very soon relieved, for on my return the good woman met me several rods from the door with her bright cheerful face, and her words of greeting were, "Charles we have come to Iowa to do good and will stay and trust in the Lord."

We met a cordial reception not only by the Baptist families, but by the settlers generally. We arrived on our field May 26, 1842, having been twenty-four days on our journey. An appointment had been arranged by the Des Moines association for a meeting at Iowa City commencing June 3rd, for the purpose of organizing a territorial missionary convention. As Brother Doolittle had a large family our temporary home was moved to Brother Levi Decker's, a mile east of Wright's corners. Sister Decker very kindly offered to take care of the children and thus enable Mrs. Brown to go with me to the Iowa City meeting. We were furnished by Brother Doolittle with horse and wagon, a kind of half and half vehicle between a buggy and a lumber wagon.

We started June 1st, and was directed to take a trail at the west side of Beuben Riggs field which would take us to Bergoonsford on the Wapsipinicon river—no inhabitants on the route. We missed the trail but having a pretty correct idea of the direction did not get lost.

When in sight of the Wapsie settlement we came up to one of those peculiar brooks from three to five feet wide and from three to four feet deep with perpendicular banks. We tried to persuade the horse to jump but there was no go. He was willing to go back or in any direction rather than jump the chasm. But we were not to be balked in that—twenty miles on our road and an uninhabited prairie. So I got Mrs. Brown across and the baggage, then starting far enough away to get the horse on a fast trot gave him a smart blow with the whip on nearing the chasm and over we went. While the seat and some other things left in the wagon took various directions. But mind you, the parson took the precaution to be on his feet when that run was made.

We got over and stopped at the first house for dinner. We left an appointment for preaching Tuesday of the next week on our return, and proceeded on our journey and stopped for the night at Tipton, the county seat of Cedar county, where we left an appointment to preach on the following Monday evening. There was a log court house and a log tavern.

The next day Tuesday we arrived at Iowa City. There were no railroads then west of the state of New York. The western boundary of lands opened for settlement then was about 18 miles west of Iowa City, and the western border counties beginning at the south were Van Buren. Jefferson, Washington, Johnson, Linn, Buchanan, Fayette with Clayton on the north. On returning we were on time to meet our appointment at Tipton on Monday evening and the Wapsie appointment on Tuesday, arriving home late at night and found all well.

The next important temporial matter was to select a location and build a log house. Log houses were all the go in that region then as there were plenty of logs but no saw mills. Having become acquainted with the neighbors about Wright's corners, two and one half miles south of where some years later was located the village of Maquoketa, we concluded to locate there. Nobody need ask for better neighbors than we found in the families of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Wright, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Wright, Mr. and Mrs. Levi Decker, Mr. and Mrs. John Riggs, Mr. and Mrs. David Bentley and others.

The settlers very generally and generously turned out, with teams and axes, and went five or six miles west to a small grove and cut and hauled logs for a house about twelve by sixteen or eighteen feet. In a week or two the body of the house was up, logs hewed on two sides. My neighbor, Mr. John Riggs. wishing some lumber, joined me in going up the Maquoketa river eighteen miles, for some sawed lumber must be had even for a log house. As we must raft the lumber down the river, we went on foot, made our purchase, and started down the river the next day, in the afternoon, with a steering oar in front and one at the stern. The river, at that time, ran through a dense wilderness with a thick underbrush, with two or three cleared patches in the whole distance. The river was low, and we had much trouble and hard work by reason of snag sand bars, frequently having to jump into the water to pry the raft off these obstructions. About sundown we came to a small cleared patch where an old hermit by the name of Lodge lived. We called at his cabin to see what the chances were for stopping over night, as the next clearing was several miles below. The cabin was eight by ten or twelve feet with a crib made of poles for a bed, and a chicken pen in one corner of the room. We discovered at once there was no show for us there, and we must try to get down to the next clearing or camp out. The night was cold, for the season and we tired and hungry. Darkness in that dense forest, was coming on rapidly and we finally concluded to risk a run on the river, and if we suffered shipwreck we could not be any worse off. So we cut loose and let her drive, for it was not long before the darkness was so dense the stern man could not see the oar one at the front. The raft kept going while every moment we expected to run foul of snags, or on to a sand bar. But, to our surprise, it reached the clearing about 10 or 11 o'clock without any mishap whatever. We concluded our good fortune was because it was so dark we couldn't see to steer it on to logs and sand bars. We could see neither house nor house light, and calling obtained a response from a cabin some distance towards the north side bluff. We found a comfortable cabin with an old fashioned fireplace, with a good, cheerful fire; but the inmates were in bed, except the man who got up to answer our call. He gave us some bread and milk for supper, and then we began to cast about for a place to sleep. There were two beds in the small room on bedsteads with three persons in one and three in the other, when the man should return to bed; and there was a bed on the floor in the corner by the fireplace, and two men in that. The men very kindly proposed to wheel and lie across the bed, and thus make room for two more. Tired as we were, we had a good sleep and a pretty good rest. The next day we very easily completed the river part of our homeward journey. From the river landing we had to haul the lumber three miles to Wright's corner. Wright's corners were on the line between Jackson and Clinton counties, and our house was fifteen or twenty rods in Clinton county on the east side of the road running north and south, and the east fork of Prairie creak in front on the west—the road between the house and the creek. With rough, loose boards for lower and chamber floors, we moved in without doors or windows. I had to go to Dubuque, forty miles, for stove pipe. But we were happy when we were settled in our own home, although without furniture except table, stand, stove, rocking and a little chair, and a few dishes, all of which we brought with us.

Our first bedstead was made of hickory poles. We fortunately brought a few carpenter tools along with which we could make such needful articles of furniture. With one of our boxes we made shelves for dishes; with another we made a cupboard for books, etc.; with another we made a place for the oldest little boy to sleep. We, including neighbors, went right to work and put up a log school house. This was located a few rods south of our house, and before there were any floor, door or windows, we started a Sunday school with Thomas Flathers, superintendent. This was the first school house built either in Clinton or Jackson counties, and this was the first Sunday school organized in Clinton county. This schoolhouse furnished a place for one of my preaching appointments. Bro. Earl's house, five or six miles west of my house, was another. Bro. Earl's house was just a shell of a frame—a lower floor in part—no stove or fireplace—the fire for cooking and warming was on the ground near the center with a hole in the roof to let the smoke out. But it did not all go out and the congregation were quite frequently in tears.

Another one of my appointments was at a private house twelve miles up in the timber on the ridge. A day or two previous to one of my appointments the owner of the house killed a monster panther near by. It was trying to catch one of his hogs. The first sermon I preached in Iowa was in Mr. John Shaw's unfinished log house where Maquoketa now is, the second at Iowa City; the third at Tipton, the fourth at Bagoons on the Wapsie, the fifth at the M. E. quarterly meeting in their log meeting house over in the timber. The house had no floor and I think no windows. The light came in through openings between the logs. My preaching place where Maquoketa now is was in a sod covered log cabin built for a blacksmith shop. During that summer I preached in Rock Island once, Davenport four times, Marion three times, Tipton once, Andrew twice.

In running our raft down the Maquoketa river we passed the clearing where Jackson murdered Perkins. He had his trial at Andrew that summer and was convicted and hung from the limb of an oak tree near the court house at that place. The cash receipts on salary was confined exclusively to the $100 pledged by the missionary society and a heavy draft on our cash was postage of 25c on nearly every letter received, and if some friend inclosed a $1 bill the postage was double. In a short time after moving in our cabin was Bloomfield postoffice and Elder Brown was postmaster, and received all his letters free. Yes, free. How good to get a letter from the old home without taking the last quarter to pay postage. We had a mail each way on horse back once a week.

On Aug. 31st, a meeting was held at the house of Brother Earl for the purpose of organizing a Baptist church. The organization was effected and embraced the following members: C. M. Doolittle and wife, Jason Pangborn and wife, Wm. Y. Earl and wife, Levi Decker and wife, Elder C. E. Brown and wife, Esquire Taylor and wife, Mrs. Eliza Mallard, Mrs. Mitchell. The following are names of other Baptist members living in the region: Ebenezer Wilcox and wife living on Bear creek, Mr. Woodworth living twelve miles up in the timber, Mrs. John Wilcox living at South Grove, Mrs. David Bentley living at Wright's corners, old Mr. and Mrs. Clark living a mile east of where Maquokta now is, Mrs.. Esquire Palmer living at Andrew.

Brother Jason Pangborn came from northeastern New York. Sister P., a refined excellent Christian, was perfectly blind—became so before leaving the eastern home. When we called on the family they were living in a small log cabin located at the extreme northeast corner of the quarter section on which the Midland depot is now located and very near where the house now stands in which brother and sister Pangborn died. In that little cabin without the first comfort or convenience with herself husband and four small children to care for, this good woman with no word of complaint was with extended hands feeling her toilsome way in total darkness, caring for loved ones. Several years afterwards we attended the funeral of her little boy. She had never seen his face. At the close of the service she wished to be led to the unclosed coffin. There she stood for a few minutes tenderly and lovingly with the tears fast dropping from her sightless eyes, passing her hands over the cold face of the dear little one saying, "I have never seen my dear child's face, I must get an impression of how he looks." The dear mother has gone where she can see.

At the meeting in June at Iowa City arrangements were made for a meeting the 16th of the next September at Davenport, for the purpose of organizing an association embracing all the churches on and north of the Iowa river. When the time come to go to Davenport, our good brother Doolittle would furnish us a horse, but the wagon we had for the trip to Iowa City had left the settlement. The horse I could ride but that would not fill the bill. All were anxious that Mrs. Brown should go, so I secured the loan of the hind wheels and axletree of a hoosier lumber wagon, went to the fence and got poles suitable for thills, and with a board on wooden pegs were soon ready for the forty mile trip. We had a bundle of oats for a cushion and enjoyed the ride across the prairies and through groves unmarred by the vandalism of man. The first human habitation we saw was at Point Pleasant, where we crossed the Wapsie river at Kirtley's ford.

Although road carts were not as common and popular as now, we felt no embarrassment in riding along the main streets of that young city—Davenport—and in driving up in front of the residence of Dr. Witherwax. The meetings were held in the chamber of a small frame building on Front street. The following churches were represented (the first organized in the territory): Bath—now LeClaire, organized June, 1839, with six members; Davenport organized September, 1839, seven members; Dubuque organized Aug. 1840, eleven members; Bloomington—now Muscatine, organized Oct. 1840 five members; Iowa City, organized, June 1841 eleven members; Forks of the Maquoketa, organized Aug. 1842 with 14 members; also the church of Bock Island, 111. Every church north of the Iowa river were represented except one on the line between Jones and Delaware counties.

The following winter the longest and coldest, set in early in November by a heavy fall of snow. Our log house away out on the bleak prairie in an unfinished condition, was unsuitable to winter in. So, with the consent of the missionary board, we moved to Davenport with the expectation of moving back to Maquoketa in the spring. We at once engaged in the good work with the churches at Davenport and Bock Island.

To save space and cost of printing in the Annals of Jackson County, we must leave the interesting details of the Reverend's life work outside of his Maquoketa field, and only follow with an historical outline. For some reason he did not come back to the Forks of the Maquoketa except at intervals for five years. In the summer of 1843 he made several missionary trips up the river and organized a church at Port Byron, IlI., and another at Camanche. In that year he went to Dubuque—80 miles—by land to attend the first annual meeting of the Davenport association. In one place he states: "Captain Wilson ran the ferry between Davenport and Rock Island and during the summer of 1843 substituted the horse boat in place of the little scow and yawl, a very great improvement."

His next field of labor was at LeClaire, where he moved in 1844. In June of that year we find him going with two others (James Turner and Wm. Palmer) by horse and wagon to Mt. Pleasant to attend the second annual Territorial Missionary convention. On account of high water in a stream they had to devise an impromptu ferry out of the wagon bed and with a grape vine as anchor line run the wagon and their clothes across after which the men and horse swam. The Elder Brown had swam across first to land the ferry and its several cargoes. The elder said: "Swim we must or go back; to go back was no part of the programme." From another place we quote: "During our stay at LeClaire, a comfortable meeting house was built with a stone basement. The credit so far as human agency was concerned, for this house was due largely to Mrs. Brown. We spent the winter of 1844-5 in New York state and during our stay Mrs. Brown collected nearly enough to make a good beginning, and encourage the church to build. The pastor quarried the rock and tended the mason. In the summer of 1845 Elder J. N. Seeley, pastor of the church at Muscatine, with a man and horse, towed a large river lighter, or scowboat, fifty miles up the river to Port Byron opposite Le Claire for lime to build a house of worship at Muscatine. I gave him lumber for doors and windows. That was the way meeting houses were built in Iowa in early days." (The reader must not mistake the pastor, J. N. Seeley, for J. O. Seely who is only "Farmer Buckhorn" and not so much of a pastor as he is a pasture where newspaper publishers and historical societies too poor to buy literary grass can graze free.)

In 1847 we find Elder Brown moving back to his early field of the Forks of Maquoketa where he built a house on land donated to him by J. E. Goodenow the, same being the southwest corner of Platt and Eliza streets. While living there Nelson Walker (before spoken of) died at his house and on June 9, 1848, the nine-year-old son of the Rev. Brown was drowned in the Maquoketa river. While here his appointments covered Lamotte twenty miles toward Dubuque; Pence's school house 9 miles west on Bear creek, formerly known as Shake Bag schoolhouse now south edge of Baldwin; Burleson's or Buckhorn six miles west; south settlement; Andrew and Cascade. Wouldn't that circuit wilt the collars off some of our brick pavement preachers?

It was at this time we find the Rev. Brown and wife doing noble work in behalf of the Maquoketa academy, and going to York State to solicit funds to aid in the enterprise. In 1850 the nearest stage route to Chicago was either Galena or Rock Island. In June, 1850, he went to take J. O. DeGrush and wife, who had been out to make them a visit to Rock Island and went with a lumber wagon so as to bring back a load of goods for some merchant and coming home was on the road the most of the night. There being a heavy dew and cold for the time of year he contracted inflammatory rheumatism which laid him up many months.

In 1851 he concluded to return to Herkimer Co., N. Y. to recruit his health among his old friends and relatives. After some time health improved, he accepted charge of the church at Norway his earliest pastorate, where he and Mrs. Brown first set up housekeeping. Here he brought order out of chaos, created by a former pastor's preaching too much anti-slavery doctrine from the pulpit. Elder Brown never mixed politics with his sermons. He was at heart, however, a strong anti-slavery man, and we find him in a 4th of July oration delivered at Le Claire, July 4th. 1845, making an eloquent argument against slavery.

In the spring of 1857, he was sent by the Home Missionary society to find a new field of labor in northeastern Iowa. "Glad indeed," he says, "to return to our beloved Iowa." He left Buffalo, Tuesday evening, July 14th, 1857, on the steamboat, "Southern Michigan," for Toledo. Arrived at Toledo 2 p. m. the next day. Left Toledo that evening on Michigan Southern railroad, arriving at Chicago 8 a. m. next day. Mrs. Brown and children went by railroad to DeWitt, Iowa, and he waited in Chicago for his horse and buggy which was shipped by freight at Toledo. They arrived at 4 a. m. next day. Drove his horse from Chicago to Maquoketa where he found Mrs. Brown and the children well and happy. After visiting relatives and friends at Maquoketa eight or ten days, and leaving the family he started for northeastern Iowa, July 30th, 1857, via Dubuque and stopped at Dubuque the first night. From Dubuque for forty miles traveled over the same road he traveled in company with Elder B. F. Brabrook in 1848 to Garnavillo, Clayton county, to be at a meeting on Pony Creek, or in Pony Hollow, and assist in organizing a Baptist church. This was about three miles north of Elkader, Clayton county. To attend this meeting Elder Brabrook traveled from Davenport, one hundred and twenty miles, and Elder Brown traveled from Maquoketa, eighty miles. Pony Hollow was one of Elder Ira Blanchard's preaching stations. After leaving Dubuque he traveled to Bossville, Alamakee Co., where he found Elder James Schofield with whom the missionary board had directed him to take council as to a field of labor. But the Rev. Schofield not being acquainted with the country west left it to the Rev. Brown's own judgment. He went to Winneshiek county.

Next we And him helping to organize a church at Vernon, Howard Co. Next we find him at Strawberry Point helping to dedicate a church after which he traveled 65 miles back to Vernon where he had concluded to make his home. He says after arriving at Vernon the next two days he helped Elder Whitman stack oats and on Sunday preached twice to two good congregations, and Monday mowed hay. Wednesday, Sept. 2nd, started with two teams for Lansing on the river for his goods. Saturday 4 p. m. he got back to Vernon and Sunday preached there. The next Wednesday he started with a one horse wagon for Maquoketa, 150 miles, for his family, where they had spent the time while he was looking up his field of labor. Friday, Sept. 11th, he arrived at Maquoketa, Saturday he rested and Sunday preached for the pastor, Elder Holms (another good old man after Elder Brown's own heart, the writer knew them both well and Elder Holms died in Buckhorn where he often preached.)

The next Tuesday the Rev. Brown started with his family of five with his one horse rig for Howard county and reached there the next Monday evening. In that vicinity we find him living and laboring the most of thirty years. In 1858 he was elected County Superintendent of public schools, serving in that capacity for three years at a salary of $1.50 per day and pay his own traveling expenses. We also find him teaching several terms of the Vernon district school at a salary of $18 and $20 per month and still going on with his pastoral work. In July, 1858, he organized the Lime Springs Baptist church. In 1868, he moved to Carroll County, Ill., where he remained two years pastor of the York Baptist church, returning to Lime Springs, Howard Co., Iowa, in 1870, and lived at Lime Springs old town. In the spring of 1870 a Baptist church was built at Lime Springs and he and an old Brother Baptist called "Father" Buckland, 80 years of age, quarried the rock for the foundation, then made a bee to get them hauled.

In 1871 he built himself a house at Lime Springs. In 1875 he and Mrs. Brown spent a year at the old New York home returning in 1876 and again became pastor of the Lime Springs church. In 1877 he built another and his last house at Lime Springs twenty rods south of the depot. In that house his dear companion died June the 12th, 1887.

In October, 1877, as we have before stated, he was elected state representative to the 17th general assembly from Howard Co. He was 74 when Mrs. Brown died after which he spent some time in his home keeping every thing as near like she left it as possible but finally went to his children dividing his time between them and occasionally preaching here and there. He preached several sermons in Maquoketa and Nashville after he was 80 years old. We do not know how it is with the readers but we have followed the history of the old man's life work with interest and satisfaction.


Source: Annals of Jackson County, Iowa, Issues 1-7, Reprinted from the Maquoketa Record. Maquoketa, Iowa: Jackson County Historical Society, 1905, pp. 45-61.
 

 

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