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The Christian Family's Western Journey
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The Christian Family's Western Journey

The Christian's "Western Adventure" written by Rhea (Barnum) Staser and Minnie (Odell) Cummings
Imbelishment by Paula Bedell

Back in 1863, Great-Grandpa (Frederick) and Great-Grandma (Delia) Christian decided to go 'west'. They packed up a covered wagon, corralled their two small daughters, Evaline Maria age 8 (Grandma Barnum) and Lenora, age 6 (Aunt Nory) and accompanied by Ira Christian, Great-Grandpa's brother, started on their carefree way. Among their possessions was an extra horse the purpose of which only Great-Grandpa knew- but probably the others guessed.  Down near Jackson (Michigan) he made a trade with a big burley colored man and through somewhat professional experience bettered himself in the deal. Next day word made the rounds that the loser was threatening violence and was out to "get" Great-Grandpa, which word Great-Grandpa sincerely believed.  After dark, he pulled up his rig and by lantern light removed enough rail fence to drive the rig through, drove back into the thick woods, then returned and carefully replace the fence and covered all tracks before returning to the retreat. They made very quiet as they heard this fellow pass many time in the night searching for their camp and tensely hoped the horses would not whinny. The horses remained quiet. How long they kept to the woods I do not know but they stayed until they learned the loser had given up and moved on.

Their western journey ended at Alden, Iowa where they expected to meet two other families, plans unknown to me. The others had gone on after waiting and Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma lived there some three years. While there, they became the parents of twin daughters, Ida Mae and Eda Carrie (Aunt Idy and Aunt Edy) on April 20, 1864... [The county is well watered by the Iowa River and its tributaries, which stream enters on the north side, about five miles east of its northwest corner, and flowing transversely through it passes out within a mile and a half of its southeast corner. The Iowa, in this part of its course, flows quite rapidly, and at an ordinary stage of water has perhaps an average of 100 feet in width, while the shores are usually high, rocky bluffs, in many places rising in bold, perpendicular palisades some fifty or sixty feet above the level of the stream, and alternately change from one side to the other, with but a limited area of what are usually called bottom land. These bluffs are usually flanked by a series of elevations, rising and extending back for some distance, and embracing the valuable timber belt of the county.] ...Alden was described as a pretty place in a flat valley partly surrounded by great hills at a distance in somewhat of a horseshoe arrangement, on the other was also a valley and a town.  Suddenly the Indians unexpectedly went on an uprising and left a trail of destruction headed towards Alden.  The little town over the hills was burned and the people of Alden turned out in horror to watch the smoke, [The old town of Alden was laid out by Henry Alden, in 1855. This was afterwards known as Upper Town. N. A. McClure & Co., of Cubuque, and Lott Clover, of Alden, in 1856, laid out Clover’s Addition. This was known as Lower Town. The Central Addition was laid out by Raymond, Peabody and Hawes in 1857, the land having been bought of Henry Alden for $100 an acre. This addition was located between the other two, and was on neutral ground. A great many who afterwards settled here located on this addition, fearing that either Upper or Lower Town would eventually be abandoned, which has since proved true.]... and then they could see Indians all around the horseshoe. That was too much for the Christians.  Great-Grandpa shook his shirttail around and packed up the wagon, pronto, all their worldly goods. And they skedaddled out of there that very night (Aunt Nory has said they carried the two babies on a pillow).  At top speed they reached the nearest railroad...[ALDEN - This place is on the west bank of Iowa River, about six miles above Iowa Falls, and one mile from the line of the Iowa Division of the Illinois Central Railroad, where a station is located... "Railroad: In 1868 the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad was completed to this place. During the winter of 1868-9, a depot building was erected."]...sold everything including Great-Grandpa's beloved horses and came back to Michigan on the train.  Uncle Ira stayed in Iowa and was married there.  He entered the "Army of the Rebellion" and was killed in the war.

[1875 Hardin County, Iowa History; County Histories by Andreas, A. T; Excerpts from The History of Hardin County, Iowa, Springfield, Ill.: Union Publishing Company, 1883.] , Paula J. Bedell, 2005

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