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1890 Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Story County, Iowa

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state of affairs unless reminded by actual facts and experiences, a few of them are here mentioned.

In those days driving across the country with success gave scope to the tact and judgment of the driver which is now rarely remembered. To haul heavily laden wagons across treacherous fords and bottomless sloughs without accident, was the work of genius supplemented with courage. Passable fords were as well known then as the principal bridges are now; and to be informed as to the least dangerous points of attempting the various "big sloughs" was to have valuable wisdom. Even as late as from 1860 to 1865 some of those who lived on the bluffs which overlooked the crossing of Skunk River, near Cambridge, were employed as guides in crossing the expanse of low ground that is now to be passed on the grade and bridges, without a thought as to why they were built where there is ordinarily no water.. The guide, on horseback, governed by landmarks known to himself, would lead the way, avoiding the deeper places and the softer ground, followed by the team of the traveler, midside deep in water; the flood entering the carriage, the lady passengers and the luggage piled somewhat promiscuously upon the highest seats, room being made for them by the driver in broadcloth vacating the vehicle and striding one or other of the unhappy horses that floundered on with the load. The writer of this once saw the attorney-general of Iowa in this absurd position, accompanied by his wife and children. This must have been as early as 1860, for the distinguished gentleman fell in battle during the war. Is it to be wondered that the memories of the early traveler in Story County should not be cheerful, and that he should regard one such experience as more than enough?

Perhaps no single incident in pioneer life better illustrates the freaks of Skunk River in its palmy clays, and also the courage and skill. that were born of extremity, than does the experience of one even now a citizen in the vigor of life. It was an occasion in which Mrs. Julia Walker, then Miss Romane, took an involuntary and remarkable bath. In the fall of 1862, with a horse and buggy, on her way to visit some friends in Mitchellville, a little before sunset she reached the crossing near Plummer's, about two miles from Mitchellville. The road wound among the bayous in the bottom, through the timber, and was not a pleasant or attractive drive under its best conditions. But covered with water, the light fading, the dark shadows of the tress playing upon the surface and misleading the eye and judgment, it must needs have been a very brave girl that would attempt the treacherous passage at such an hour.

The fair Julia had little time for parley with the child near Plummer's house, who told her that men on horseback had crossed during the day. She had already driven many miles to find a bridge that showed above the flood, and being so near her destination, did not hesitate. With a stout heart she began to thread the labyrinth out and in among the trees, with water from fetlock to midside, holding her water course until the bridge was reached and the raging channel safely crossed. Though twilight was deepening, she was full of hope, for through openings in the trees could be seen the far-off shore. But soon the party came to grief. Deeper and deeper went the buggy, until the brave driver took perch upon the seat, as the tide rolled through the box. Even this resource failed, for, in a moment, without notice, all footing was lost, and horse, buggy and driver went into the depths. The subsequent events will probably never be told in their exact order. After a lapse of more than

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