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  • Melody Lager

When Iowa was Out West


Old books give a refreshing look into a life we will never know. One book was recently

donated by Dianne Lindt from Colorado (originally family lived in Goldfield).


Published in late 1857, “An Itinerant Ohio Pioneer” is the recollections of Rev. Jacob Young. Born in 1776, in Alleghany county, Pennsylvania, he noted his parents were Church of England and Presbyterian. His own calling to the ministry was as a Methodist Episcopalian.


The family, like so many other pioneers, had already traveled. His father was born in

Maryland, and his mother in Virginia. The young family made their first home in Virginia.

In the author’s words, “from thence they emigrated to the western country, at that time

called the backwoods, and settled near the Ohio river, about 20 miles below Pittsburgh.”

During this time, the Indian war was “raging with dreadful fury.” His mother would tend to

the children while the father cleared the land. He kept a dog by his side, as the dog

would give warning should the Indians come upon them. His mother was unwilling to

stay in such a wilderness, and the family moved to Youghiogheny, near Connelsville

(Pennsylvania).


A year passed, and the family moved to a farm in Fayettte Co, PA.

When the Indian war ended, the family moved down a river – 52 persons and 15 horses

plus furniture was on board. With the other families moving, it made the boat quite full!

When they reached the mouth of the Kentucky River, the father walked 30 miles to

Loudon station and ended up at Drennon’s Lick, Kentucky. This was in May, 1797. The

family erected a log cabin – no floor or shutters for the doors. The father was able to

keep the family in meat, and he made a small hand mill so they could grind meal for

bread.When the author wrote about the Kentucky peoples, envision Daniel Boone. They

were dressed in a hunting-shirt, buck-skin pantaloons, a leather belt, a scabbard with a

large knife, and some had hats or caps. Their shoes were moccasins, made from deer

skins. They also carried a powder horn and shot pouch, plus a gun or tomahawk.


Another interesting author is the diary of Nelson Slaikeu as he left his home in Germany

to come to America. He mentions that it took 35 days to come over the ocean, and then

landed in New York. From there, the took a train to Philadelpha, then Pittsburgh.

Another trip carried him to Chicago and Wisconsin.


He learned to say “You got no work for me” and understand “How much you want the

day?” His first job in American was pulling mustard out of the wheat field, for 37-1/2

cents per day. Within the year he had moved to Illinois and then, an August 22, 1861

enlisted in the 1st Iowa Cavalry at Burlington. After the war, he settled in Eagle Grove,

Iowa. It is a story that many of our ancestors could have shared with us as they moved

across the new wilderness to the west – settling in towns along the way before coming to

Iowa.

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