Tuesday, April 9, 2013

More from Savanna

Yesterday, April 8, 2013, I visited the public libraries in both Sabula, Iowa, and Savanna, Illinois. I also stopped at the store of Frank Fritz, from the TV show American Pickers. I also found the Mississippi Palisades State Park, the Pioneer Monument in Savanna, the location of the Indian wigwam used by the Pierce family the first night they arrived and the location of the first Pierce house which later was replaced by the Rhodes "Steamboat House."

The Sabula Public Library is very small which fits the town and is only open four hours a day. Yesterday the hours were from 9:00am to 1:00pm. I spent over two hours there and quickly learned that, although Jane Rennets Langford, Oscar's sister, can be found there in the 1860 federal census, there was no other information about her. Since Savanna is right across the river, the Sabula library has a small collection of books about its Illinois neighbor. It was here that I first saw pictures of Fidelia Langford's mother in law and father in law, Aaron Pierce and Harriet Bellows Pierce. I also learned the location of their home in Savanna, and that their daughter Mary Jane is considered the first white child born in western Illinois, and that Mary Jane married riverboat pilot Captain John Brown Rhodes. Further, that Mary Jane and Captain Rhodes built a "Steamboat House" just after the Civil War on the site of the original Pierce home, which still stands today, sort of.
Next stop was the Mississippi Palisades State Park. This was a Civilian Conservation Corps project of the New Deal era and it provides a really nice vantage point for some of the widest parts of the Mississippi River. 
My next stop was the Pioneer Monument pictured here:
The inscription reads :
"On this ground stood the Indian wigwam occupied by Aaron Pierce and his wife Harriet Bellows Pierce and their four children, November 4, 1828. The first white settlers of Savanna."
If you click on the picture and use the zoom tool you can be read it for yourself. One of their children was Lorenzo Dow Pierce, later Fidelia's husband.
Directly across the street sits the "Steamboat House", pictured below, built by Captain Rhodes on the site of the original Pierce house :

I also obtained a drawing of what this house looked like originally. Like many steamboat pilots' houses this one sat right on the river and had a cupola on the roof where family could watch for the approach of the boat. It also contained a two story extension on the right side that has since been removed.
I also went around the river side of the house to give you their views of the river.

Then I went to the Savanna Public Library where I was able to buy a copy of "The Story of Savanna Early Settlement 1828-1850" by Alice M. Bowen. Alice Bowen was also a descendant of the Pierce family and she clarifies some facts that have been confused in other accounts. She wrote this in 1928 as part of the 100th anniversary of Savanna. She provides charming details about the early settlers. One detail that I found exquisite was that a log was hollowed out and used as a cradle for the first Carroll County settler baby, Mary Jane Pierce.
Also at this library I was able to see some artifacts of Harriet Bellows Pierce, pictured here:

The top picture is a bonnet worn by Harriet and the bottom is a embroidery that she wore, perhaps as a shawl.
And lastly I stopped briefly at the antique mall belonging to American Pickers co-star Frank Fritz. Frank was not in but I was able to see a lot of old stuff and a lot seemed familiar from the TV show.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Savanna, Illinois Pioneers

I learned a while back that Oscar's sister, Fidelia Emily Langford had married Lorenzo Dow Pierce and that they lived most of their lives in Savanna, Illinois. 
Lorenzo Dow Pierce was the son of Aaron Pierce and Harriett Bellows Pierce. Aaron Pierce is considered the founder of Savanna Illinois because he was the first white settler in western Illinois.
Below is from the City of Savanna:
Settled in 1828, and receiving its city charter from the State of Illinois in 1875, Savanna began as a river town. Savanna was originally a stopping point for steamboats during regular runs between Galena, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri. The evolving transportation lines also added to Savanna's success as a growing city. Settled by true pioneers, this land offered its citizens an opportunity to begin a new life, acquire land, and a chance to accumulate wealth from the river's steamboat and barge traffic. The story of these pioneers is the same story of the thousand lured to the far west with rumors of opportunity and fortune. It was for this reason that a young pioneer from Boston, Aaron Pierce, and his wife began their long journey west. For years these unsettled pioneers searched to find a haven of peace and plenty. They enlisted the services of Vance Davidson, a kind of soldier of fortune, who told them of a beautiful valley on the bank of the Mississippi. He had discovered this area on a recent journey from Rock Island to Galena. The Pierce family, led by Mr. Davidson, traveled an old Indian trail through the deep woods in an ox-drawn covered wagon. Upon arrival they found themselves atop a lofty pinnacle of land overlooking the Mississippi (this is currently the site of the former city hospital). Below was a valley lush with burnished-gold savannas and natural beauty that would later become Savanna's downtown. Aaron housed his family in an Indian hut for temporary shelter near what is now 1018 Main Street (near the Savanna Sabula Bridge). This area had river front access, plenty of trees and was full of wildlife. Aaron took advantage of the area's natural resources and began to sell cord wood to steamboats as fuel - - a cash industry for the early settlers. 
Also from the Find A Grave website we learn that Harriet Bellows Pierce was trained at a music academy in Boston and taught music lessons on the prairie.
Aaron and Harriet Pierce are buried in Savanna.The beautiful view that is described above is available from the Palisades State Park located on the bluffs of the river.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

William Rainey Marshall

The Langford family continues to provide amazing bits of American history. Today, as I worked to develop the family tree further, I came across William Rainey Marshall. He married into the Langford family with his 1854 marriage to Abigail Elliot Langford. Abigail was named after her grandmother, Abigail Elliot, and was the daughter of George Langford II and Chloe Sweeting. She would have been a niece to Charles Langford and a first cousin to Oscar Langford. Her brother was Nathanial Pitt Langford.
William Rainey Marshall was the fifth Governor of the State of Minnesota serving two terms from 1866 to 1870. He was born near Columbia Missouri, and worked his way north being caught up in the "lead rush" that brought a lot of miners to Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. He was at various times a lawyer, miner, surveyor, dairy farmer, banker, newspaper publisher, bank commissioner and stock raiser. He also served in the Wisconsin State Assembly before coming to Minnesota.
William volunteered to fight in the Civil War and the Dakota War and was quickly promoted to officer duties in both. He served in the Minnesota territorial legislature prior to statehood.
As Governor he repeatedly supported a black suffrage amendment which was ultimately passed. The state of Minnesota had a population surge during his time as Governor doubling to over 350,000 people. The railroad mileage quadrupled.
His politics were Republican and he organized the first convention of the Republican Party in Minnesota. His religion was Swedenborgian.
Abby Langford Marshall was the fifth First Lady of Minnesota. Marshall County Minnesota was named in his honor. He and Abby had one son, George Langford Marshall, who only lived to be 29 years old. Like many Langfords,  William moved to the Pasadena, California area where he died in 1894. More information about him can be found on Wikipedia.com.