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From Thompson David Ashby -- a reminiscent of his travels from Montgomery County, Indiana to Iowa during the Civil War times

Source: From "The Ashbys in Iowa" by Newton B. Ashby:

I asked your Uncle Thompson to write me his reminiscences and the following is his very interesting story:

"It has been so long since I have thought much about our trip to Iowa that I don't remember a great deal about it. We left on the tenth day of April, 1861. I was seven years old two days before we started. We started about nine in the morning, I think, made a short drive and stayed over night in Crawfordsville. The next day we made another short drive into Tippecanoe County where we stayed overnight with Aunt Zarilda and Uncle Ike Martin, mother's stepsister. From there we started full blast for Iowa under a full head of canvas. I think it was the next day that Milt Harrison and his wife and children joined us. They had been on a visit to Indiana and were going back to Iowa. There were five teams in our wagon train. Father had hired two men to come with us. Levi Martin and Frank Dickeson. They each drove a wagon and besides the wagons we had a large covered spring wagon in which mother, the girls and some of the smaller children rode. Some of the bigger boys rode in the wagons most of the time. I don't remember much about the trip through Indiana. It was very rainy and the roads were deep with mud. In some places we had miles of corduroy road, which made rough traveling. We crossed the Wabash River at Covington. The river was out of its banks. We drove through water some distances before we reached the bridge and also after we crossed it. I had never thought there could be so much water. I do not know how wide it may have been but in my remembrance it seems miles wide. As we got to Illinois we began to see soldiers drilling in the town we passed through. First we saw the "home guards" and later companies of regular soldiers. Decatur was the first large town that I remember passing through in Illinois. There were several companies orgainized there and they were drilling. They had guns with bayonets which impressed us boys very much. I thought almost all the people in the world were gathered together in those companies of soldiers and didn't see how there could be any left to fight for the South. We came to the Vermillion river one day early in the afternoon. We had had a very hard rain the night before. The river was much too high to ford and the people told us the bridge wasn't safe to cross, so we went into camp. The next morning the river was some lower. Some men came along and tried fording it. Their wagons were washed about badly and as we didn't want to get our goods wet the men decided to test the bridge. Father and Milt Harrison and the rest of the men walked across the bridge and shook it about and finally decided they would try it with one wagon. One man walked across and stood ready to catch the team which was started from our side of the river. As the team arrived without accident, a rope was attached to the end of a wagon tongue and the ream that was on the opposite bank hitched to the rope and the wagon was pulled across. Then the other wagons and teams crossed in the same way. The people in our party all walked across. Our motto was "Safety First." The next large town that I remember was Bloomington. We couldn't make a straight line in our trip as we had to make for the towns where we could cross the rivers. I think we struck the Illinois river at Pekin. Then we followed the river up to Peoria where there was a bridge and crossed there. From Peoria we went to Knoxville to Monmouth and from there to Oquaka, seven miles above the Burlington to find a landing. As there was no bridge, a steam ferry boat was using in crossing. They landed us at Burlington about five in the afternoon, that is the first section. The second section was landed about eight in the evening and was met and taken out to the camp the first party had made just west of Burlington. The next morning father left us and took the stage and hurried ahead of us to Lucas County. He had paid $1000 on the place and the balance was due the first day of May. The roads were very muddy and heavy and he thought it would be impossible to make it through in time with the wagons. From Burlington we followed the stage coach route going through Mt. Pleasant, Fairfield and Ottumwa. There was no bridge at Ottumwa so we had to go up the river to Eddyville to get across the Des Moines river. The next town was Albia and the next Chariton. Father came back to meet us and joined us near the place where Russell now stands. We had just gone into camp. The next mroning we came through Chariton, drove on to White Breast where we stopped and ate dinner. After dinner we drove to Tallahoma, stopped and bought groceries and arrived at our new home at about five on the afternoon of May third. There was some tall hollering done when we got there. Milt Harrison and family went over to old uncle Eli's Harrison (his father) that evening. While we were getting supper ready Mr. Danner and Mr. Pedigo came to see us and so we began to get acquainted with our new neighbors. We had a large one room log house. It had a loft and pegs driven into the wall for a stairway. That fall father had a stairway built and the house plastered. The next year he added one or two rooms or rather built a connecting room between our house and another log cabin which stood near by but was in bad condition. After this we had the largest house in the neighborhood, and partly because of this and partly because of our parents' hospitality we entertained most of the preachers and other prominent people who happened into our neighborhood. There was a school house on our land just west of the old home where we had three months school in winter and three in summer. As time passed, more people arrived in our community and the prairie began to settle up. The winter of '63 and '64 was one of the coldest we ever had and the people suffered a good many hardships from the severe weather. Father and a man by the name of Parrish (this would be our Thomas Parrish, brother of Abel), had a large drove of cattle that we were wintering. They arrived at our place between Christmas and New Years. We had one of the worst storms about this time that I ever knew. Our roads were drifted full from the top of one rail fence to the other. They used ox teams to haul shock corn to the cattle for feed. A man named Jake Camerine, whom father hired to help with the feeding, froze his feet so badly that some of his toes came off. We boys used to invite the neighbor boys in to help break the steers to work. We had great times at that. We had to go to Tallahoma for our mail until about '67. We went for the mail every day during the war and usually did afterward but were not quite so anxious after the war closed. One person would bring mail for the entire neighborhood. It was usually distributed from our place. I think the Norwood post office was established in 1867 and as you know it was at our home and was named by my mother. Betty had named our place "Prairie Home," but after Norwood Post office was established that name was not much used. The Norwood M. E. church was built in '67. Father donated the land for the church and the same church is still standing although remodeled considerably before now. The railroad reached Chariton in '68. Before the railroad rached us we drove our stock to Eddyville or Burlington or Keokuk. Of the two men who came to Iive with us, Frank Dickenson had promised to stay with us a year but he got "war fever" and only stayed a few days after we arrived. Levi Martin and he both went back to Indiana and enlisted in the army there. They were both taken prisoner. Dickenson was never heard of afterwards. Martin lost his left arm and was captured. He was in two southern prisons and was almost a skeleton when exchanged. He recovered his health however and after the war was over he visited us in Iowa. He served as county treasurer in Montgomery Co, Indiana for a number of years. (son of Uncle Ike and Zarilda Martin). From the time we came to Iowa until after the close of the war was an exciting time. So many of the young men enlisted in the army that the scarcity of able-bodied men made us fear an attack from the "bushwhackers" who were active in Missouri. The Republicans had an organization called the "Union League." They held their meeting secretly at the homes of members and met once a week. The Democrats, whom we considered Southern sympathizers, called their organization the "Knights of the Golden Circle." There was strong feelings on both sides. One Fourth of July, I think it was '63, we celebrated in what we called the Lamb Grove. Gov. Stone was the speaker of the day and during his speech a man named Nels Case cheered for Jeff Davis. Then you bet there was real excitement. They gathered round him and I think he would have stretched hemp if it had not been for a few of the older men. Mrs. Wells said if any one would give her a gun, she would shoot him. One man, home on a furlough, gave her one she would probably have used it but others took the gun away from her. Case was one scared man. The older men felt they were averting a neighborhood war from which no good could come and much harm was certain to follow. I must not forget to tell you of one incident of our trip to Iowa. One night we camped somewhere in Illinois. I'm not sure where. We were told that there were horse thieves in that vicinity. Father had some very good horses so when two men came into our camp and were very friendly and interested in our horses we were suspicious. Our men got out their guns of which they had aquired a number and started target practice. One of the men was a crack shot and the others not bad. They made quite a flourish with their fire arms. Either the strangers were frightened by our military display or were not what we suspected for although some one stood guard all night nothing came of it and our horses were not molested." T.D Ashby

Have a Great Day, Pam --

File Created: 13 October 2010


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Data contained within this website may only be used with permission of the copyright holder(s), for non-commercial research and educational activities, and for personal genealogical information. © 2014 by Karen Zach, and licensed to the Indiana GenWeb (INGenWeb) Project and the USGenWeb Project. May be used in personal research with a citation.

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