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.

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