|CHAPTER II||Indian Hill (Right) from the east. (170th street) See page 253.||Some Things
About Milford Township
1860 Prairie Fire
Family of Six Perish
In the 1850’s-60’s-70’s there was a diagonal road that went from Nevada to the Webster City- Fort Dodge area. This road extended diagonally across Milford Twp in a SE-NW direction. It was along this road that an Ohio family by the name of Schweringen was traveling to their expected new home north of Dun- combe, Iowa in October of 1860. (Traces of this road were still visible from the air into the 20’s & 30’s even though the road was replaced, for the most part, by the familiar square pattern by the 1880’s.)
It was a warm pleasant fall day with a gentle southeasterly wind and as they were going to the north- west they considered this a factor in their favor. The family of two adults, a son and three young girls made some purchases of supplies in Nevada and began the last leg of their journey. After a few hours of travel, they noticed a haze behind them but being unfamiliar with the nature and destructiveness of prairie fires they elected to ignore the matter.
Some reports state that the family was “noon- ing” in the southwest corner of Sec 10 of Milford Twp while others state the family was in the northeast por- tion of Sec 9. (This, Sec 10, would be across the road east of the Comfort farmstead- of later years- or, if Sec 9, north of the Comfort farmstead. The Comfort farm- stead of the 1950’s would be one and a quarter miles north of the Sec 15 Milford School on the west side of the road). Others have said the family had passed “In- dian Hill” but there seems to be no agreement on which “Indian Hill” this was. I have heard speculation on four different “taller” hills in the area that might have been called “Indian Hill”. One is the rise in the very south- west of Sec 10; (this would have been the first hill the road skirted after leaving Nevada); the second is the hill in southeast Sec 4- the Fred McCoy hill- the stagestop hill; the third (the official Indian Hill) is the hill in Sec 4- behind (north of) Si and Cleopha Thompson’s farm- stead; and the fourth is in the southeast quarter of Sec 9 with the very noticeable NE-SW ridge and its high hill at the southwest end.
This humble author feels the family was “noon- ing” in the small glen on the northeast slope of the hill in the southwest corner of Sec 10 as there was a small spring there. This site would also conceal the terrain to the southwest and a fire coming from that direc- tion could be within 200 feet before one would have seen it or been aware of it. And, perhaps, with the team
This springtime Living History grass prairie shows the size of the grasses after a winter’s snows and rains - well over six feet tall in places.
This modern version of a wagon and two horses is probably very similar to the one used by the Schweringens.