Iowa Old Press
1874 - 1895
The People's Friend
Orange City, Sioux County, Iowa
Thursday, September 19, 1895
TWENTY ONE YEARS
If seven is the number that signifies perfection in biblical
symbolism, it must be a good omen that DE VOLKSVRIEND is now
twenty-one years (three times seven) old.
When the Dutch colony in Sioux County is commemorating, with thankful hearts to God, her "twenty-five years' existence", DE VOLKSVRIEND certainly may participate heartily, now that she has fulfilled her "first three weeks." She has reason, for, since her arrival, her existance and her growth have been tied closely with the Dutch settlement since 1874. And besides -- it may be said safely -- her share in the success of her fellow colonists is calculable: in the organization of the colony, in publicizing the opportunities for everybody, in the drawing of many Dutchmen here from elsewhere, even from the Old Fatherland overseas. Till up to this day she holds faithful to the principle: To seek the wellbeing in general, and for Sioux County and the Dutch in the first place.
Everyone knows that almost from the beginning Mr. Henry Hospers was the leader of the settlement, and it did not elude his watchful eye, that if the colony were to succeed and if our fellow countrymen were to enjoy the advantages and privileges of this good land, they would need an organ through which they could speak or could be spoken to. Hospers understood the great necessity for a great number of people to take possession of a large portion of the County, in order to form a closely-knit group. Knowing that the fulfillment of this desired goal would depend largely on a printing press and on a paper, he decided to publish DE VOLKSVRIEND in 1874. In the beginning it was a small paper, with only 120 subscribers and hardly any advertisements, but yet it was filled from week to week with what was most important from, about and for the colony.
She was like a little bird
Just broken out of its shell;
But for our people's benefit
She always had her eyes open.
We have often looked at the old numbers with pleasure and
always with increased interest; they gave us such a true picture
of the life and the struggle of the first settlers. Those first
volumes (indeed, they would be worth a reprint) give us a picture
of the description of Hospers of the events of the day in the
first times, and also for the coming generation to keep in mind
the struggle of the pioneers and God's good hand over all. All
new comers were mentioned, and the section, or quarter section,
on which they settled, was pointed out. Each child that was born,
and each passing away was announced. In DE VOLKSVRIEND were
printed the catastrophes affecting each heart, blessings which
rejoiced the soul, and in this way this paper though small was a
bond tying the colonists together. One another's suffering was
felt, each happiness shared, all burdens borne together.
Besides all this, each week DE VOLKSVRIEND published the most important news from the Old Fatherland, so that many picked up the paper eagerly to read what catastrophes or blessings had hit The Netherlands. Because here in the Far West were Dutchmen who had given their hearts to America, but who still could not tear themselves away from friends and relatives, from a state of things and scenes, which were known on the other side of the ocean.
Yet DE VOLKSVRIEND was zealous to make good, faithful American citizens of the immigrated fellow countrymen. Not in the way which some seem to come into practice here and there, namely by throwing away ALL Dutch characteristics, good as well as bad, and by accepting all which is called American, good or bad; no, DE VOLKSVRIEND has tried from the beginning -- under Hospers and under the succeeding editors -- to make native in this country, and foremost in Sioux County, Dutch virtues, Dutch characteristics, and Dutch courage. And all which is native (indigenous) will become American.
DE VOLKSVRIEND has fought for and struggled with the colonists. In the
three years 1877, 1878 and 1879, when the grasshoppers ate all that
grew, it was indeed a difficult time for her to pull through, as it was
for the farmers and the tradesmen. The whole publication was virtually
paid for by Mr. Hospers; because our people were not able to pay for
their subscriptions on time, and the faithful typesetter, the late W. A.
Van Steenwijk, with some other helpers, had to be paid. Many would have
given up such a work, but not Hospers. He saw that the closing of the
Dutch weekly would do more harm to the colony than another three years
of crop failure would have wrought. And therefore the paper stayed in
existence, and contributed mightily to the fact that the courage did not
sink completely, and that energy did not stupefy (dull).
None has been more faithful to the interests of the whole county than DE
VOLKSVRIEND and at first there was a great deal to do to unmask the
I don't know whether any poet has ever been inspired by the Greek muse,
Calliope (daughter of Jupiter), to render an epic of the trip to
Calliope. Maybe not. It would indeed be too much for this godmother of
antiquity to Inspire a singer who would dare sing of the fame of the
Dutchmen at the cost of the good name of her godchild: the then present
Calliope in southwest Sioux County.
Nevertheless --those sleigh-driving heroes are worth an epic.
The going was over uncleared snow
From one to the other farm;
It was twenty degrees below freezing,
But the heart was more than warm.
The blood boiled when they only thought
Of all this roguish scheming,
Practices so long, so low, so villainous, -
Away with all this trash!
It was in those days that DE VOLKSVRIEND (through Hosper's pen) guided
the people into civic affairs, and informed them of practices of
"hunters and trappers," who did not only try to secure game along the
Rock river, but who also encumbered Sioux County with loan after loan,
without spending this cash in the interest of the people.
Among the immigrants who arrived here from Holland the summer of 1881
was the writer of this piece and his family.
Since Mr. Hospers had his hands too full with bank matters and
sundry other affairs to direct regularly and with propriety DE
VOLKSVRIEND, he wished to dispose of the magazine. That is the reason
why a newly arrived novice (who in many ways was still unfamiliar with
America's peculiarities, habits and customs) seated himself behind the
desk in the "editor's sanctum."
Mr. Hospers promised to advise the new editor in the first time, to
point out important matters which should be discussed, and to specify
pieces which were good to translate, and he was true to his promise.
But although the new editor understood a word or two of English,
the first proof (the translation and reporting of the rebellion of
Sitting Bull) was not an easy job. Sometimes the translation was
Although the Dutch was faultless
Yet it seemed to him, who read the English,
That sometimes, in those stories
A translation mistake had crept in.
He still remembers having translated the sentence "Gov. Gear says,
Iowa is in good gear" into "Gov. Gear zee, Iowa is in good gewaad."
Those who are aware of the good political machinery in Gov. Gear's days,
will understand, that although the Dutch sentence was faultless, it
still did not convey the original English meaning.
As editor, the writer of this piece did as much as he could to
follow in the footsteps of his predecessors by having the interests of
the settlement at heart. DE VOLKSVRIEND remained true to her original
intention: to be a friend to the people. The new editor had many friends
in the Old Fatherland, and he sent this magazine to many to acquaint
them with the good land here, and to tell even those without property of
the opportunities here. Besides, several of his articles, dealing with
the colony as well as with American church and political matters, were
published by Dutch magazines (e.g., De Standaard, Bet Oosten, etc.).
In imitation of Mr. Hospers, the new editor tried to make a
Christian newspaper of the paper so that our settlers (except for the
political and social news) would be informed of church matters, in the
Netherlands as well as in America. DE VOLKSVRIEND has held steadfast to
this goal up to the present time.
When the writer of this accepted the editorship, a good harvest had been
reaped (after the grasshopper plague), but the people were not yet on
top. Also the population was not numerous yet, and trading and buying
did not blossom as it does now. Mr. Hospers had begun with about 120
subscribers, and in 1881 this number had increased to 400, but that
number was indeed too small to make the paper into a good, robust organ.
Besides, there was very little to advertise, and there was not enough
competition to make this necessary. And the payment, in that time, was
not always prompt. When the writer was already editor for several years,
he needed money. In the fall he sent someone out to collect. The man
could not do everything on foot, so he took a horse. Ten days he
traveled around and visited more than one hundred families or persons.
If everyone would have paid him, he should have taken home more than
$200. He came back with not even $36. This man earned $1.25 per day, and
the rent for the horse was $1, which amounted to $22.50 for those ten
days, and the editor had barely $14 to show for.
From this fact it can be surmised how difficult it was for DE
VOLKSVRIEND to he "in good gear"; and indeed, if the editor had not
believed firmly that God had placed him in this position, he would have
run from his post. Because he felt he should persevere for God, he saw
it through with the tenacious patience of, as one could say, a stubborn
Although DE VOLKSVRIEND from the beginning did not wish to be
contentious, yet sometimes she was forced, also in the writer's time, to
fight; sometimes when someone tried to harm the settlement; sometimes
when religious questions were pending; sometimes when she was called to
take sides on political terrain. It should be said that she never tried
to be polemical, always searching for truth and righteousness. She
sometimes had to be sharp, or had to use the whip of satire.
Although the writer believed that he had not been put in his position by
accident, but had been guided by the Lord to come into contact with DE
VOLKSVRIEND, yet he did not feel as completely at home in the editor's
"sanctum" as would have been desirable.
In The Netherlands he had worked in the field of evangelism among adults
and youth. He would have liked (to follow the inclination of his heart)
to have used this paper for evangelism. But the cost for additional
space for religious matters, besides the ordinary news, was too
prohibitive. Therefore, in the summer of 1884, he handed over the job to
Mr. A. J. Betten, well-known in the history of the settlement and of the
county. He was a man of sound judgment, a former partner and often the
right hand man of Mr. Hospers (especially when concerned about settler's
interests) and a man of decided principles in the political as well as
What the writer of this paper was not able to do, Mr. Betten
accomplished: the augmentation of more room for religious articles. DE
VOLKSVRIEND was enlarged from a seven-column folio to a six-column
quarto, and instead of the former four, she numbered now 8 pages.
Therefore it became possible to discuss more extensively civic as well
as religious matters, and more room could be given to editorials and
letters to the editor. The paper did not only become more useful, but
also indispensable for our people. The writer of this stayed on to help
Mr. Betten with the lay-out, and rejoiced that the paper not only
increased in size and contents, but that she began to share financially
in the general prosperity of our people. The population Increased and
with that her subscribers; trade Increased tenfold and competition
forced advertising in all fields, so that the Income could only improve.
In former years DE VOLKSVRIEND had done her part to encourage
immigration to these parts, and to encourage industry, and now she began
to harvest the fruits.
It was with great pleasure that the writer of this continued to work
with Mr, Betten for another 6 years (from 1885-1891) on DE VOLKSVRIEND,
and he would have regretted to leave had not his heart been in the labor
which he is doing now under God's guidance: the proclamation of the
Since 1888 he had intended to leave, hut, despite many difficulties, he
had felt he should continue, and this was probably one of the reasons
which made Mr., Betten decide to hand over DE VOLKSVRIEND to the present
owner, Mr. H. P, Oggel in the summer of 1891. Mr. Oggel, M.D., in those
days was a professor at the Northwestern Classical Academy.
Dr. Oggel was already well-known to Christian Dutchmen because of
his publication of DE CHRISTELIJKE HERAUT of Pella, a well-edited
magazine, which existence was suddenly discontinued to the sorrow of
many. As can be expected, the publication of DE VOLKSVRIEND could be
entrusted to him, and indeed he has never put this expectation to shame.
Being a good writer, and being assured of the co-operation by many
for literary work, DE VOLKSVRIEND, under his control, became one of the
most widely read Dutch papers in America; this speaks for itself, taking
into consideration that it was published by the youngest and smallest
settlement (in comparison with Michigan and Pella).
With respect to the necessary tools, Dr. Oggel made many great
improvements. The old-fashioned handpress had already been replaced by a
Cylinder handpress in this writer's time. Since the circulation
increased from year to year, it became necessary to purchase a
steampress. Mr. Oggel purchased a Babcock Standard press, which was not
only a great improvement, but which also compared favorably with any
Also he provided the printing office with two "job" presses, to be
able to print all kinds of small and large printing, from cards to
posters and tickets. Till this moment this poem does not suit him:
He was not a sad printer
If the printing were only a better business
(This is a Dutch pun, and almost impossible to translate, for it would
not make sense).
When Mr. Oggel accepted his work as publisher, his paper numbered
almost a 1000 members. At present (after 4 years) the number of
subscribers has climbed up to almost 2000, which is a satisfying result,
and which has been reached by much hard work.
DE VOLKSVRIEND has always been a constant proponent of the
Republican principles. Not because the Republican party is completely
without spot or blemish, but because in the editor's opinion, that party
was most faithful to the indivisibility of the Union, for the rights of
the people, and for the interests of the nation.
Religiously she stood at the side of the Calvinistic Reformed faith,
although she rather tread the terrain of practical Christianity than
that of polemics.
It is hoped that God will bless DE VOLKSVRIEND for a long time to
come, and set her (under the guidance of the present owner) as a great
blessing for the good people of the Dutch settlement in Sioux County and
vicinity, and for many outside of it.
We ask God's blessing on the publisher and those who work with him
in the printing office, and also with the readers!
[end of the front page]
By Henry Hospers
By A.J. Betten, Jr.
A reporter once wrote me: "In the fall of 1856 I lived in your county.
At that time the land was still a part of Woodbury County. The first
work there was carried out by me, Mr. Mills and a hunchbacked
four-footer. We did not do anything but mow and stack hay. We have
never decided who of us was the greatest ass."
According to statistics there were 10 inhabitants in Sioux county in the
year 1860: nine men and one woman. In the year 1865 this number
increased to 20 and in 1869 the population amounted to more than one
hundred souls. From the history of these early years very little is
known, except that the so-called administrations issued quite a few
debentures, which later settlers had to pay.
If you desire other information about the history of the pioneers in the
first years of the colonization here, the limited length of this article
and hardly do justice to this subject. It seems to me that this task
could better be handled by one of the first pioneers who has been a
witness (like the mother of the colony, Mrs. Vennema) from the beginning
to all that has happened here to the Homesteaders. We should also pay
attention to the fact that in those first years it could storm quite a
bit, and that many things happened in those blizzards that now are lost
The writer of this piece settled here in the year 1871.
In this colony at that time there already lived 70 to 80 families. Many
of those lived in fairly good frame houses. The others lived in sod
huts, or so-called "dug-outs." A small part of the land was already
cleared. Wheat and potatoes had already been cultivated.
In 1870, Mr. Tjeerd Heemstra -to accommodate the pioneers - had begun a
retail store. In October he was elected to the "Board of Supervisors."
On January 1, 1871, he was elected by the Board to be their chairman.
In August of 1870 one of the first pioneers, Mr. Jelle Pelmulder (for
whom the first frame house was built here) was appointed Clerk of the
Court. In this office he served (by election) till 1887. He was also
the first teacher in this colony. From December 1, 1870 until March 1,
1871, he was the teacher of youth in the schoolhouse (illegible/ ..Twp.
95, R. 44.
In 1870 three deceased were mourned. The first one was the aged widow
Rijsdam. She was interred on the homestead of the family.
In the family of Chris Nieuwendorp the first son was born; they called
The first public worship service was held at the home of S.A. Sipma,
Sec. 14, T. 95, R.44.
The place which was to be Orange City was laid out by a surveyor from
In the year 1870 a house and school building had been built there. The
population consisted of three people: a carpenter (Mr. A.J. Lenderink)
and his wife and son. The last named is our current County Auditor.
The first winter, except for the last week in December, had not been
The first colonists, when they arrived here, had already experience a
year of difficulty.
As it seems to us, several of our settlers are fairly prosperous.
But with many this wealth consists of the rich soil, with the capital
being the hope of a good harvest.
Mr. Henry Hospers, the leader and principal adviser in the matters of
colonization, was still living in Pella. In the spring of 1871 he sent
a builder here, Mr. Gleysteen (now a man of substance in Alton), who
constructed a store on the north side of the town square. When the
building was almost completed it was swept from its fundamentals by a
violent storm on a certain Sunday. It was put back in its place by the
builder and it was very quickly completed.
That same Sunday, south of the town, a stable and a team of oxen were
burnt on the homestead of Rijsdam.
Within a short time the newly constructed store did a brisk business.
The first load of goods that came in consisted of edibles: grits,
barley, rice, peas, flour, fish, coffee, sugar, syrup, etc. The agent,
who probably did not have a large amount of capital at his disposal, or
who did not really know what was demanded of such a new colony, did not
give credit. Butter and eggs were exchanged for goods. Besides, many
barely had a medium of exchange.
The owner of the store came here from Pella shortly after the store had
opened for business, to settle here permanently. When he came into the
store for the first time, some one said to this writer: "There is the
Father of the colony, from now on everything will go well." It did not
last long or he found a new medium of exchange. He did not lack ink and
paper. From time to time he filled the void by bringing into
circulation the so-called "store orders," which were just as saleable in
Orange City as any other kind of "fractional currency." The father of
the colony generally took the ploughing of prairie land for these orders
as payment. Further he had to see how he got his money.
The settlement expanded. The population steadily increased. In Orange
City that summer about eight houses were built. In a short time the
place was provided with a hotel, a smithy, shoemaker and barber. If one
wanted to be served by a butcher or baker then one can be served a short
distance out of town. Every farmer provided his yard with from one to
five acres of trees. This was at that time a shelter against the fierce
northwest wind and assured an exemption from payment of part of the tax.
On homesteads more and more buildings were erected. The already cleared
land appeared to be fruitful.
On a certain Sunday in June the Rev. Winter from Pella preached here in
the school house. During the afternoon service a violent storm broke
loose. The land was enriched by a mild rain.
July 12, 1871, the First Reformed Church of Orange City was organized.
In this same year the Dutch Chr. Ref. Church was also organized, with
about thirteen families.
In Calliope (the county seat) the first issue of the Sioux County Herald
The fall elections were at hand. The colonists were in close agreement
with the pioneers of the neighboring settlements of the county.
September 29 a convention was held. The candidates were nominated. The
second Tuesday in October was election day. The sixteenth day of this
month the Board of Supervisors met and declared the following persons as
having been elected to the respective offices:
Henry Hospers, member of the Board of Supervisors
A.J. Betten, Jr., Auditor
J.W. Greattrax, Treasurer
T.J. Dunham, Sheriff
H. Jones, Surveyor
John Newell, Superintendent of Schools
J.O. Beals, Coroner
A severe winter set in. The homesteaders, who had to make long trips to
get fuel, were often in danger in the blinding blizzards and severe
In December the county clerk and the newly elected auditor went by foot
to the county seat. It was a generally impassable road, covered with a
deep layer of snow. It was only twenty-five miles. Now and then they
tumbled up to their arms in the soft snowbed, yet then there was the
opportunity to rest a bit, and the clerk at those moments smoked his big
Dutch pipe. By star light they arrived at their destination. After a
short stay they returned home again.
On the first of January 1872 the newly elected officers with some of
their friends went again to the county seat. The weather was quite
cold. The Board was meeting. Mr. Hospers was allowed a seat as a
member of the Board after the swearing in of the oath. (He kept this
office until November 16, 1887, when he resigned because he had been
elected representative.) The other elected officers did not enjoy the
privilege of accepting their offices. Two members of the Board refused
to give their approval to bonds they offered. On January 9 there was
another meeting with the same result. The new "county father" tried to
protest this treatment, but he had only one voice and the opposition had
two. January 10 Klaas Jongewaard, with one of the prospective officers,
went by sleigh to Orange City. They lost their way quickly and wandered
around till midnight. They saw a haystack in the field where they took
shelter and rested a bit. After having searched the surroundings they
continued the journey and arrived - still unfrozen - at the house of a
waggoner. The Board was adjourned till the 21st of the month. Many
people wanted to attend this meeting. A lawyer went along to plead the
case. On January 22 a great number of colonists came to be present at
the meeting. When no conclusion could be reached, Mr. Hospers returned
home. The people thought that the disapproval of the bonds happened
because of something unfavorable about the functioning officers. Later
it was shown that this suspicion was not ungrounded. People met again.
After an unanimous decision all books and appurtenances of the County
were taken, loaded and brought to Orange City. It was late when they
left. It was extraordinarily cold, and many had strange feelings in the
nose or stiff ears. Some were so cold that they fainted when they
warmed themselves too closely at the big fire. But with coffee and
lunch such people revived again quickly. After some time the matter was
set straight. A new law was passed, by which people could appeal to a
higher court. They did appeal. After a while the newly elected
officers were installed in the new offices.
January 12 is remembered by many as the day in which a heavy snow storm
broke loose, which continued for three days. During this blizzard, in
the humble cottage of the blacksmith, a son was born, who survived that
storm and subsequent storms up to this day.
In a similar snowstorm, the county clerk almost got lost on his way
home. He returned and arrived back in town with an ice and snow covered
face. In that storm a widow in town went out and got lost. After an
anxious search she was found near the manse (being built then) and saved
in time. More such events could be recited, but they are all similar.
Not withstanding these dangers, the colonists have been kept remarkably
safe in all these feared and dangerous storms. In the first years not
one of the perished because of them.
In the spring a large number of families settled here.
In this year the Sioux City and St. Paul railroad was built. This saved
many a long trip, and the opportunity for the transport of grain and
building materials, fuel, etc., improved vastly.
Number 50, volume 1, of the Sioux County Herald was published in Orange
City and began to talk a little Dutch.
The field of the farmer appeared to be fruitful. His work was rewarded
with a good crop.
The result of the election again was according to the wishes of the
On October 16 a meeting of the Circuit Court was held in Orange City for
the first time, with the Hon. Addison Oliver as Judge.
On November 11 the Board of Supervisors met and declared by resolution -
according to the results of the election - that Orange City was the
county seat of Sioux County. After several days the books and
appurtenances of the County were taken to Orange City.
Up to now there was steady progress. The pioneer still has limited
means, but with thrift and industry there seem to be good prospects.
There are still many privations which people face, but, speaking in
general, they have a particular privilege: the peace that they enjoy.
As it was form the beginning, there is much visiting, a bond of unity
and the guarding of each other's interests. Even in the most humble
cottage generosity and hospitality are always shown. Conflicts of a
serious nature hardly ever arise anymore, and if they do arise, they are
settled amicably most of the time. Each is ready with word and deed for
the other. Lawsuits seldom occur.
From the beginning on, religion was a big thing for most of the people.
The Book of books was considered to be an indispensable guide for life.
Education and religion had a place in house and heart. Who cannot but
appreciate these privileges.
The worship services were first held in private homes; they were led by
laymen, unless a preacher was present from somewhere else. Later they
met in the town schoolhouse.
On July 12, 1871, the first Reformed congregation was organized. In
time this congregation called a preacher, namely the Rev. S. Bolks, who
accepted the call and moved here in the year 1872. He served the
congregation till July 1878.
In the year 1872 a particular religious revival existed which lasted for
a considerable time. Many chose "the good part," and many were added to
the congregation. The congregation had been organized by about forty
members, and at the end of 1872 the membership had climbed to more than
three hundred. Thus an imperishable good was received and enjoyed.
Many hearts were strengthened by grace before the time of stress and
At the end of that year the population of this colony amounted to almost
fifteen hundred souls.
On January 6, 1873, the Board of Supervisors met in Orange City for the
Mr. Henry Hospers was elected president of the Board.
On January 13 the District Court met for the first time in Orange City.
The county was threatened with a suit for $10,000 for fraudulent
debentures. It was contested and the loss averted.
In the spring the prospect of the farmer seemed to be favorable again.
Until June the fruits grew luxuriantly. But in this month a winged army
of eaters descended on the fields. They were grasshoppers. In their
voracity they seemed to eat all the corn. Man is helpless against this
army. There were days of depression and sadness. But they were also
days of prayer. Not long after this plague was lifted. Very much was
destroyed. But enough was left to thank the Giver for all good things.
On May 19, 1874, there was an election about the question as to whether
or not there should be a yearly tax of ten mills to pay off county
debts. It was defeated by 194 to 117.
The First Reformed Church was given a sum which was large enough to
begin the erection of a church building. They decided to build. Otto
Rouwenhorst was the builder. The materials were taken to Orange City
from East Orange by the people; the transportation was therefore free of
On June 2, 1874 a new County Court House was put out to be contracted.
It was built on the town square. Mr. Gerrit Dorsman was the builder.
The grasshoppers flew over us in numerous swarms. Now and then they
descended in heaps and id intermittent damage.
On June 20 the first number of De Volksvriend came into print.
The third Sunday in July the grasshoppers in mass descended and covered
the face of the land. On Thursday they ascended with much noise and
disappeared even quicker than they came. Quite a bit was destroyed.
There was much left, however. For many this catastrophe meant a time of
depression. The damage was very uneven; for some it meant much damage,
for others, little.
Another sad occurrence happened in the West Branch area on September 25.
Two of the colonists (Kleuvers and Wesselink) had gone out for
fire-wood. They crossed the Rock River in a dangerous spot and were
On October 13 the Herd law was accepted by popular vote.
In February 1875 requested aid was give to the distressed in a
There was talk of buying a section of land, to make it productive, and
to use the yield for the establishment of an Academy in time. Some felt
that we should wait to see whether more of those winged eaters would
From time to time there was talk about the building of a windmill. A
meeting about this was in the Courthouse in March 1875. Eight hundred
dollars for this purpose was inscribed. The cornmill was built
southeast of town.
The field of the farmer bore rich fruits. Because of any abundance of
rain and stormy weather much corn was damaged. In the fall much damage
was done to the plants by rain.
Some seemed to think that the increase in mice in the fields was
In the beginning of October the first Sioux County Fair was held.
During the last part of the month the first exam in medical school was
Much damage occurred this fall in the form of prairie fires.
On January 6, 1876, a premium of $2,000 was offered by the Board of
Supervisors for discovery of coal in this county. Later this was
increased to three thousand. The premium has not been demanded by
In this month an agricultural society was organized. They met on
Saturday afternoon and debated various subjects. e.g.: "The elevator, a
curse for the farmer"; "The wheat crop, the greatest advantage for the
farmer"; "The pulpit exerts more influence than the printing press."
During the winter months many youngsters amused themselves in the
country spelling school.
A young men's society was organized with older men leading it.
In the month of May a free Christian congregation was organized.
The crops promised much, on June 13 a rumor was circulated that the
redskins were coming. This caused much anxiety. They did not appear;
the weapons were put away again.
Two weeks later the grasshoppers appeared in mass and stayed about 10
days. The damage was uneven; in some places much was damaged and I
other areas hardly at all. Much corn was left. But for those who have
been repeatedly hit this was a cause of pressure and discouragement.
From the north part of the county some of the people departed for
elsewhere. Among our settlers there were a few who wanted to leave, yet
everything possible was done to encourage them to stay. Only a few
"John Credit" played a large role meanwhile and was becoming
The Board of Supervisors decided to build a prison. This was contracted
by Jno. Sembke on September 6, 1876.
The building of a poorhouse was contracted by W. S. Okey.
The barn on the seed-farm was contracted by A. J. Lenderink.
F. E. Hewitt was the first workhouse master. From this colony only one
pauper was under their care.
The county was threatened with lawsuit of about $37,000 for fraudulent
debentures. The Board delegated Mr. H. Hospers to go to Dubuque, Ia.,
and he was able to settle the sum for a little more than seven hundred
dollars. This matter had been repeatedly brought to court and had cost
the county already much money and effort.
In May of 1877 two Reformed churches were organized; one in Alton and
one in Sioux Center.
The grasshoppers of the previous year laid their eggs here, especially
in the sod of the newly ploughed field. In the month of June the young
grasshoppers appeared and did much damage. Various means were tried to
destroy or drive them away, but there was much advice and little cure.
The next month the grasshoppers from the north flew over and took with
them the group from here. In spite of the eaters there was much left to
On November 15, 1877, around 11:30 a.m. earth tremors were felt.
In the year of 1878 the farmers had a bad crop. Much damage was caused
by an abundance of rain. Many were forced to mow the corn with the
grass mower, to rake it together and put it together like haystacks.
Because of the extraordinary heat and heavy rain storms part of the
grain had been driven to the ground and could not be found. During the
month of September the grasshoppers arrived. They did little damage.
They left quite a few eggs.
In the month of October much damage occurred due to prairie fires.
There was death among the cattle. Cause was, as one knows, smut in the
The Brass Band, which had been organized here, received new instruments.
In the spring of 1879 there were complaints about drought.
In the month of May the Sioux County Bible Society was organized.
The young grasshoppers appeared and did much damage. All sorts of means
were used to destroy them. It is a disheartening and difficult work, in
which one was only partly successful.
On the last Sunday in June the Rev. A. Buursma (called by the First
Reformed Church,) was installed by the Rev. J. W. Warshuis, with many
During the last part of June and the early part of July, heavy storms
and thunder caused much damage and calamity.
The small grains were continually ravaged by the destructive eaters.
Not much was left of wheat and oats. During the last part of July the
grasshoppers moved away.
The farmers met with the purpose of trying to find means to fight the
spreading of glanders among horses.
In August a storm arose which raged like a hurricane. Wind and hail
caused much damage over the West Branch and on the Rock River.
The harvest of corn and flax was a disappointment. Corn was a good crop
During the last year that the plague visited this locality, much has
been written about the grasshoppers. The observations varied a great
deal. Some had painted it too light (according to some observers,) or
painted it too dark (according to other observers.) Let it be. Despite
the difficult and sorrowful years, the hand of the industrious has
always been blessed. The tie of unity, the helpfulness to carry one
another's burdens had been a great blessing. We are speaking in
general, because there were exceptions.
We do not boast about the people. Because what does man have that he
has not gotten first from a Higher Hand? Let us praise the Lord for His
goodness. The expansion of this settlement, despite adversity,
continued slowly yet steadily, so that the population of this colony
amounted to three thousand souls at the end of the year 1879.