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1890 Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Story County, Iowa

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Page 124 of 460

travel was over the unenclosed prairie, and wherever practicable followed the dry and hard summits or divides, often at an expense in distance. Of necessity many low places were to be crossed on the quivering sod, or through depths of mud where much travel had worn it through. In these experiences the wily Jehu would drive at the bog in fury, hoping to so far pass it by virtue of inertia that the leaders could at last reach solid footing on the farther side and drag forth the coach before it had time with its human freight to sink hopelessly in the mire. Many an absurd and sorrowful experience was had in transit. If the coach "mired down," fair women were borne on the shoulders of brave men to solid ground. Heavy baggage was removed as best it could be done. Extra force of team and driver, with long cables, were transferred from other coaches. Farmers were induced, by round sums in hand paid, to extricate the coach, or carry the load to the nearest station, or to the end of the route. These adventures were not confined to the humble and unknown traveler, but judges, governors, generals, some of whom still live, could tell tales of woe then experienced.

It was in one of these coaches that the world came near losing the valuable services of its recent distinguished and most able first assistant postmaster-general. He was then the youthful and plain " Ret " Clarkson, full of hope, courage, and promise, engaged on the staff of the great journal of which he has been so long editor and owner with his no less able brother. The coach was overturned, and Mr. Clarkson was very seriously hurt. He was brought to Nevada, where he laid by for repairs which only time and care could give. Thus did Story County in that early day have somewhat to do with civil service reform.

The early settlers did not expect nor demand of the Government the amount of consideration now accorded to the pioneer. Before the days of free homesteads, land for the landless, and squatter sovereignty, as political slogans, it was thought to be fair treatment to the man on the frontier if the Government gave such protection as enabled him to save his scalp for his own head. He was charged from 5 to 25 cents for each half-ounce letter, according to the distance. There was no free delivery even in cities, and the family in the country that was within a few miles of a post-office was in luck to that extent. The post-office least distant from the settlement on East Indian was at Apple Grove, in Polk County. This was a station of the stage company on the lines both from Iowa City and Oskaloosa to Fort Des Moines, then briefly described as " The Fort." The lines from the east, by way of Newton, and from the southeast, by way of Toole's Point, came together near the Apple Grove station. It happened that some of the settlers on East Indian had friends at Trullinger's Grove. The mail of East Indian settlers was sent to Trullinger's by unofficial hands, and forwarded as opportunity offered. Settlers west of Skunk River got their mail in these times at "The Fort." These were the conditions and facilities for Story County, from the first settlement until the building of the county seat was begun.

The first post-office established in the county was at Nevada. It happened that when the commissioners met, June 27, 1853, to locate the county seat, T. E. Alderman was present. He then determined to make the proposed town of Nevada his future home. On his return to his residence in Henry County, he made application for the postmastership of the office,which must necessarily be soon established at the new county seat. His recommendations were from his home in Henry County. The application was granted; his commission was sent him.
Page 124 of 460

© 2012 Mark Christian
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