Saturday, August 06, 2016

The house at Chariton Point

Lucas County's Old Thirteen Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, led local troops --- most attired in floor-length skirts of the day --- in a river-to-river effort between 1910 and 1920 to mark the route of the Mormon Trail across Iowa.

This was an effort undertaken in partnership with the Iowa Historical Department and two of the giant stone and bronze-beplaqued markers, installed in 1917 but not dedicated until 1923 when the project was complete, remain to commemorate their efforts.

One is located on the courthouse lawn; the other, at what sometimes is known as the Chariton Point Farm southeast of Chariton, right along the old trail, known by many today as the Blue Grass Road.

The Chariton Point marker, when it was erected, was located in front of this old house (top), probably built by Ebenezer and Margaret (Wyant) Badger, but long since demolished and replaced. It stood on the approximate site of the log-cabin "inn" operated by William S. "Buck" and Edna Townsend where, during the fall of 1849, commissioners gathered to locate the new Lucas County seat and organize the county.

Fortunately, the Daughters commissioned this snapshot of the old house and included it in the official scrapbook of their activities from 1899 into the early 1920s --- a substantial but very fragile volume that now lives in an archival box at the Lucas County Historical Society museum. By the time the photo was taken, the farm had been sold to the William B. Campbell family and this more than likely still was their home.

It's impossible to trace the earliest transactions involving this tract of land because they involved pre-emption claims that never were recorded.

But the historical record, such as it is, suggests that the 160 acres of which the "Badger farm" was a part were claimed first during the spring of 1847 by members of the Nickerson family party, Mormons bound for Utah who wintered down along the Chariton River during 1846-47, then came up to high ground to make claims that could be sold or traded later to help finance the trek onward to Utah.

During June of 1847, Thomas Brandon --- a young man who had settled during 1843 with his family in southwestern Monroe County, north of Iconium --- traded two heifers for the claim and moved there. He was joined during November of that year by the Townsends, Buck and Edna and their children, who moved in with Brandon for the winter.

In the spring of 1848, Brandon sold out to the Townsends for a horse and a two-horse wagon and went back to Iconium. 

The Townsends at the time were the only permanent settlers at Chariton Point, although indications are that other Mormon pioneers continued to use Chariton Point as a place of rest and respite well into 1849. The Townsend cabin, small as it was, functioned as an inn where travelers might find a meal, perhaps a bed, at least a place to camp.

Buck and Edna moved on, most likely during the fall of 1849 or very early spring, 1850, and sold out to John Howard and his wife, Mary. Mary Howard died on Oct. 12, 1850, however, and John moved back to Jefferson County, from whence he'd come.

He sold the property to Ebenezer and Margaret (Wyant) Badger, who had just arrived in Lucas County that fall from Indiana with their older children. When the Badgers moved in, the house on the property most likely still was the old Townsend inn. Margaret described it as a two-room cabin with mudbrick chimney, two windows and clapboard doors.

As the years passed, the Badgers built the house shown above and it remained the family home until Margaret's death on June 20, 1896, nearing her 78th birthday.

After that, the farm was sold to William B. and Nancy Campbell and it still was their home when that big stone with a plaque attached was parked nearby during 1917.

No comments: