Transcribed by Laurie H Constantino from CW Cruikshank’s typewritten manuscript; annotations in brackets and italics added by LHC in December 2021. For ease of reading, material quoted by Cruikshank is formatted with indentations and quotation marks that did not appear in the original manuscript. The following contains language that will be offensive to many. However, it is a historical document from a time and place where such language was common. It is a document which is very helpful to our research.
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OUR FAMILY HISTORY
C. W. Cruikshank
[Charles Wesley Cruikshank, 1863-1947, son of James Cruikshank, grandson of Alexander Cruikshank and Keziah Perkins, great-grandson of Stephen Perkins Sr and Catherine Summey]
Every self-respecting person desires to know something of his ancestors, and he would be subnormal if he did not take satisfaction in finding that they had been worthy citizens and of respectable, if not noble, birth. While the writer makes no claim to so-called royal birth, he does take pride in knowing that his ancestors were of good origin and that they belonged to that large group of just good, average folk that have ever been the salt of human society. The story I relate, there will not be, "The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power", but more, "the short and simple annals of the poor" or, may I suggest, the biographies of just "average men and women."
The sketch that follows is intended for my children and the few intimate friends and relatives that may choose to follow it through. There is no thought of it becoming a classic or a literary gem, just a homely effort to strengthen the ties of memory, when I shall have passed on.
THE CRUIKSHANK FAMILY
The founder of the Cruikshank family in Lee County, Iowa was Alexander Cruikshank [1805-1888], my grandfather. A quite complete account of his early life is found in a paper written by his youngest child, J. P. Cruikshank [John Perkins Cruikshank 1852-1944] of Ft. Madison, Iowa, and at this date December 6, 1939, the only one of that family of eight children still living. I am pleased to submit a copy of that paper as a part of this sketch.
(Read at the Cruikshank-Harrison Reunion, held at Donnellson, Iowa, June 28, 1935.)
- Alexander Cruikshank, the founder of the Cruikshank family in Leo County, Iowa was born in Kristiansand, Kingdom of Norway, on February 2, 1805. His father, James Cruikshank, was a native of Old Deer, Aberdeen Shire, Scotland. The mother of Alexander, Susan Wilson, presumably a native of Norway, but of Scotch-Norwegian parentage, was the second wife of the father, his first wife being a sister of the mother of Alexander, Jane Wilson. Only two children, a daughter by the first wife and a son by the second, constituted the James Cruikshank branch of the family.
- The father, James Cruikshank, died during the infancy of the son and the mother remarried when the latter attained the age of 12. Tendency of the children to take little or no interest in their family history caused young Alexander to grow to manhood knowing little of family record and his ancestry. Furthermore, at the age mentioned,
- Alexander left the seaport home of Kristiansand and shipped on a sailing vessel as a cabin boy.
- One year later, since his father was a member of the Masonic Craft, he was taken in charge by that Society and returned to the old Daledonian Cruikshank home community at Old Deer, where he attended school for a couple of years.
- Young Alexander knew but little of the Cruikshank ancestry beyond the family of which he was a member, except that it was an old established lineage, following the usual avocations of the Scotch families of the period through which they passed. A few were prominent in the professions, others followed pastoral pursuits, such as breeders of improved livestock, others were soldiers, and a number were sailors. The father of the subject of this sketch, James Cruikshank, was a mill-wright by trade, which accounts for his being in Norway following that avocation. A Scotch Presbyterian, he seems to have been a man of good moral and religious habits as evidenced by the following copy of his Church letter:
- "These testify that the Bearer, James Cruikshank, an unmarried man, has resided in the Parish of Old Deer for the space of six years prior to the time he left this place and went to Christiansands the 26th day of March, 1787, and had always behaved himself soberly, decently and honestly, free of church censure, and scandal, or any bad vice known to us, so that he may be admitted to any Christian congregation where Providence may order his lot.
- Given at Old Deer, the tenth of March, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety years.
- Basils A. Dawson, Minister
- John Thompson, Elder
- Jo Naughten, Elder."
- Basils A. Dawson, Minister
- After acquiring a liberal education, Father Cruikshank returned to his first love, the fascination, roving life of a sailor. Until he reached the age of 29 years, his home was on the ocean, where he engaged in various capacities from cabin boy to command of a vessel, principally on the waters of the Atlantic, Baltic and Arctic Oceans, and the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas.
- In 1824 Alexander enlisted and served for nine months in the Mexican Navy, during that country's struggle with Spain for its independence. He was wounded in a naval engagement off the Coast of Panama, for which service he was entitled to a Mexican Headright - 1200 acres of land in that Republic. Since the value of the land was only about 10 cents per acre, and since the service on young Alexander's part was mainly as a "Soldier of Fortune," no effort was ever made to exercise the right. Continuing his seafaring vocation until the beginning of the year 1832, Alexander decided to temporarily abandon the sea and become a landlubber in America. In January 1832, in company with one John Thompson, a fellow shipmate, he somewhat reluctantly forsook his ship in New York, which city at that time had a population of about 70,000.
- With the idea of trying their fortunes in the thinly settled interior, Alexander and his companion went by steam boat up the Hudson River to Albany, New York, thence by the Erie canal and railroad to Buffalo. Here, reports of
- Indian raids in the Mississippi Valley region - their intended destination - gave them a foretaste of what they were to encounter. From Buffalo they traveled by lake steamer on Lake Erie to the Town of Erie, and from there by stage to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. At the tavern where they stopped in the latter city, they met returning emigrants from the Middle West who gave discouraging accounts of hostile Indians, cold winters, wet springs, hot summers and mosquitoes, wild beasts that killed the young stock of the settlers, and other discouraging features of that region. This caused the would-be landlubbers to feel that they were making a mistake in abandoning the enchanting life on the sea for the life of a settler in a wild and sparsely settled country. The call to return to the roaming life on water of the World was beginning to be heard. "Once a sailor, always a sailor," was an additional urge to return to their first love. The final decision to give up the land venture prevailed. They planned to proceed to New Orleans by steamboat, down the Ohio River to its junction with the Mississippi, thence to New Orleans where they would have no trouble in contacting out-going vessels. On board a River steamer, they proceeded down the Ohio to Marietta, where a deplorable and fatal accident occurred to Father Cruikshank's comrade, which changed the life course of the ancestor whose memory we are honoring today. In passing the large revolving fly-wheel which passed through a pit in the floor of the vessel, and which regulated the power of the engine generated by the steam, he stumbled and fell into the pit, where he was crushed and mangled to death before the engine could be stopped.
- Father attended his comrade's burial in the Marietta Mound cemetery and sent his personal effects to his relatives in New York.
- By this sad occurrence, your ancestor was again placed in the trying position as to what course to pursue. While stopping at Marietta, he became acquainted with a Mr. Bissell who was on his way to his home at Beardstown, Illinois, where he was a large land-owner. Together, they continued to Beardstown, via the Ohio, Mississippi, and Illinois Rivers, where they met Keziah Perkins [1810-1894], a native of Lawrence County, Kentucky, who was serving as a nurse to the invalid wife of Mr. Bissell. Two years later, Father married Miss Perkins who came of Revolutionary stock. George Perkins [1754-1840], her grandfather, served under General Francis Marion, and died in Lee County, Iowa. His remains, with those of his wife [Keziah Manning 1763-1849], rest in the celebrated Sharon Cemetery in the Western part of Lee County. The State of Iowa caused to be erected at his grave twenty-five years ago, a beautiful granite monument. By the way, this cemetery bears the distinction of containing the remains of a soldier of every war participated in by the U. S. A. Government.
- After a short stay at the Bissell home, in May, 1832, our subject made his first advent into the Iowa county, then a part of Michigan Territory, crossing the Mississippi River at Keokuk, then designated as “Rat Row Landing" at the foot of the Des Moines Rapids, the settlement then consisting of not over a half-dozen cabins and shacks. Father did odd jobs during the remainder of 1832 for Mr. Bissell and others in Hancock, Adams, and Cass Counties, and Beardstown, Illinois. In 1833 he burned a kiln of brick at Montebello, then the county-seat of Hancock County, Illinois. Some of these bricks can be found in old buildings in that vicinity and in the town of Nauvoo. During that year he had a severe attack of cholera at Montebello. This was a most terrible disease,
- from which many died. My father, then a single man, often said that he owed his recovery to Dr. Isaac Galland's timely and personal attention.
The above sketch was read by Uncle John P. Cruikshank, the youngest and only living child of the Alexander Cruikshank family at that time, at a Cruikshank-Harrison reunion, held at Donnellson, Iowa, June 28, 1935. He planned to carry the sketch farther, but due to the infirmities of old age, it was not done. It is my purpose, therefore, to complete it in so far as I can. In doing so, I shall draw upon my own personal contacts, memory of incidents and facts related to me by my grandparents, my parents, and other members of the family; also upon letters, pictures, and recorded history that is available, among which the two following books are of special value: "Andreas' Illustrated Atlas of Lee County, Iowa, 1874"  and the "History of Lee County, Iowa, 1879", published by the Western Historical Co. of Chicago, Ill.  From the standpoint of local history, these two books are of special value. A copy of each is in my possession and should be cherished and retained in the family. “Andreas’ Illustrated Atlas of Lee Co." contains an excellent picture of the Alexander Cruikshank home, and both it and the History of Lee Co. contain very interesting sketches of the Old Pioneer ancestor and his wife. The History of Lee Co. also contains a most interesting account of Alexander Cruikshank's first entrance into Iowa. Since these accounts were dictated during the life of the Old Pioneer, they may be accepted as authentic. At best, the account that follows will be incomplete and, perchance, in error at times, for there are many missing links that could be supplied only by those who have passed on. Again, both memory and tradition are, at times, quite unreliable in what they report. Nevertheless, I shall use due care and sincerely endeavor to leave a record that will be true in the main.
It has been definitely established that the Old Pioneer, Alexander Cruikshank, landed at Beardstown, Ill., in May, 1832. In the History of Lee Co. (mentioned above) is found the following statement: "Mr. Cruikshank first visited “Foot of the Rapids” (Keokuk) in the fall of 1832”. But this first advent into Iowa was only a visit, and it is evident that he spent the following winter and all of 1833 doing odd jobs for Mr. Bissell and others in Hancock, Adams, Schuyler, and Cass counties, all in Ill. During this period it is evident that his acquaintance with Miss Keziah Perkins deepened into an agreement of marriage, which took place at the bride's home in Hancock county in January, 1834. From the History of Lee County, Iowa, I am pleased to quote the following:
- "In the beginning of 1834, Mr. Cruikshank took unto himself a wife in the person of Miss Keziah Perkins of Hancock County, Ill. A short time after his marriage, he started for the Black Hawk country to locate a home for himself and his wife. When he reached the Mississippi River opposite Puck-e-she-tuck [the foot of the rapids], he hired a canoe and being an old sailor he made a sail out of his blanket, and started up the river for Ft. Madison. The river was rough, and several times he expected he and canoe would part company, but he weathered the gale and landed safely at Ft. Madison. At that time, there was no sign of
- a settlement west of the few cabins at Ft. Madison, but having come to locate a home for himself and the wife he had recently taken, Cruikshank started back into the interior toward Skunk River. After prospecting a little, he selected a claim in what is now Pleasant Ridge Township, about two miles from that stream, and about the same distance to the southeast from the present village of Lowell. He prepared a shanty, and when the spring opened, he broke up about eleven acres of the virgin soil, which he planted to sod corn and raised a very good crop.
- "During the summer, Mr. Cruikshank assisted in building the barracks at Fort Des Moines (Montrose). He burned a kiln of lime that season, 596 bushels of which he sold to the United States at 12 1/2 cents per bushel. His limekiln was of the most primitive kind - a layer of logs, and then a layer of stone. When the kiln was large enough, the heap was fired from the bottom. The site of the first limekiln in Lee County was just below the "Old Orchard." He also built several of the stone chimneys to the barracks. When the troops came in from the plains in November, 1834, the barracks were ready for occupancy.
- "In the fall of 1834, Mr. Cruikshank sold his first claim which is now covered in part by the farm of the widow of the late Col. Price. After the sale, he selected another one near what is now Clay Grove, and included in the farm of Berry Wilcoxson, Esq. During the winter Mr. Cruikshank lived alone in the midst of the wilderness, and once, for a period of six weeks, did not see the face of a white man. A large party of Indians was encamped that winter on the site now covered by Lowell, but they never showed him any violence. In the spring of 1835, his wife and her family came from Illinois, and joined him in his wilderness home. In the season of 1835, Mr. C. raised about twenty acres of sod-corn on his second claim. That fall, he sold this claim to a man named Davis, who in turn sold it to John Martin, who occupied it in the spring of 1836. In 1836, Mr. Cruikshank made a third claim at the site of his present homestead, which he has continued to occupy from the time his first cabin was built thereon.”
On the first claim in Pleasant Ridge Township, the exact location of his so-called cabin is not known, but it was a sort of dugout in the bank of a small stream, as a result of which he was introduced at an “Old Settlers" meeting as the "cave man". On this first claim, John Box, a well known character in pioneer days, and a near-by settler, loaned him a yoke of oxen with which to prepare the ground for his corn.
On the second claim Mr. Cruikshank built a cabin in which he lived during the winter of 1834-35, and in which his first child (James [James Perkins 1835-1920], my father) was born May 7, 1835, the first white child born in Marion Township, and for many years prior to his death, the oldest native white person born in Lee County, Iowa. It is a rather peculiar coincidence that the cabin in which my father was born was located on the present site of the Clay Grove cemetery,
and that my father's grave is fairly within the dooryard of that old cabin.
The third and permanent claim was in Franklin Township, portions of Section two and three. The original claim contained over 300 acres, but later was reduced by sale to 227 acres. On this claim, Mr. Cruikshank built a substantial cabin, typical of those pioneer days. It served as his home until 1850, in which year he erected a one and one-half story brick house with brick burned on the farm by grandfather Cruikshank. The writer has in his possession one pair of the brick molds used to form the unburt clay. The brick kiln was located about 16 rods from the new house, and the small enclosed field just north of the barn yard was thereafter referred to as the "brickyard lot."
All of the Old Pioneer's children were born in the log cabin on this third claim, except my father who, as previously stated, was born on the Clay Grove claim, and Uncle John [John Perkins Cruikshank 1852-1944], the youngest child, who was born in the new brick home. “Andreas’ Illustrated Historical Atlas of Lee County, Iowa," contains an excellent picture of the brick house that was erected by the Old Pioneer. Incidentally, it may be of interest to know that the writer was born in this brick house, his parents residing there temporarily until their permanent domicile could be completed. Somewhat akin to "My Grandfather's Clock", this permanent domicile was raised (it being a log house) on the same day that I was born, and was completed and occupied a few days following.
The story is extremely interesting to me, for it reads like romance from the pages of fiction. I could write many pages but my purpose in this sketch is to give a brief account, and my personal impressions of the personalities and outstanding traits of character that will enable those that follow to form a fair mental picture of our pioneer ancestors in Lee County, Iowa. But I can not refrain from observing how Fate, or shall I say predestination, weaves upon the loom of life some very odd and riddle-like patterns of human existence. Thus, the paths of Alexander Cruikshank, a roaming, homeless sailor, but with seeming patrician ancestry, and Keziah Perkins, a child of frontier, backwoods training but with a background that might well imply plebeian lineage, were mysteriously, if not miraculously, joined in holy wedlock, "The bloom or blight of man's happiness.” Byron has well said, "It is strange, but true; for truth is always strange, stranger than fiction.", and so we must view the union of our two forebears. Reared amidst environments most striking in their dissimilarities and with so little in common upon which to build a home and rear a family in the wilds of the New West, their story will rival the best in romance and fiction. Starting, as they did, with nothing in the way of material goods, only as it could be supplied by their own hands from the gifts of nature, they built their rude cabins, procured their own food, and protected
themselves and their babies from the extreme cold of winter, the inherent diseases of summer, and the native instincts of the wild animals that roamed both forest and plain. Step by step, little by little, they accumulated from nature's storehouse, and, while at times the going was hard and the food was of the simplest kind, there is no record of desperate want or suffering; and I can but marvel that of nine children born to them, all grew to adult life except one who died in infancy---a record seldom surpassed under our more scientific and modern ways of sanitation. They lived the simple life with the latch-string always out to neighbors and newcomers, the which engendered a kindred feeling that developed a friendship and hospitality never surpassed and which even today is proverbial.
For fifty-four years these two ancestors lived most happily together. They saw the wild prairies and primeval forests give way to well improved and cultivated farms, luxuriant and industrial cities, free schools and self-supported churches, and a high degree of culture, refinement, and recreation, all of which produced a civilization and that independent way of life never before equaled or enjoyed by the common man.
It is not my purpose to elaborate upon these marvelous changes, for they are well known to all; but to have been a part of their beginning and to have experienced a portion of their development as was the high privilege of our two progenitors, is an inheritance that we who have their blood in our veins may well cherish with pride.
THE PERKINS FAMILY
The first known of our branch of this family was George W. Perkins, born in South Carolina, March 22, 1752 [Per his pension application, transcribed at https://revwarapps.org/r8113.pdf , George was born 1754. He did not have a middle name or initial]. Little is known of his ancestors or parentage, other than that they came from England. [George’s grandfather on his paternal line was of African descent.] He was a hatter by trade [Joshua Perkins, Georges’ father, was also a hatter, https://www.wikitree.com/index.php?title=Space:J.F._Perkins_vs._J.R._White_Trial_Notes#47 ], but more distinguished as a soldier of the Revolutionary War, serving under Marion, the Swamp Fox. He and his wife moved to Iowa in 1837, and lived with their only daughter, Mrs. Anna Graves [Anna E Perkins 1780-1862]. Here they both died and were buried in the cemetery close to the farm on which they had lived near Primrose, Iowa. Later their remains were moved to the Sharon cemetery, Lee Co. Iowa, where the state of Iowa erected a memorial monument to the memory of this Old Pioneer Soldier. [ Find-A-Grave memorial ] The monument was "erected under the supervision of the Torrence Post, G. A. R., at the solicitations of the Keokuk and Jean Espy Chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, aided by the Lexington Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution.”
The monument is made of the best quality of Barre granite, quarried in the great granite fields of Vermont. In construction, it consists of three parts and stands about five and one-half feet high. A flintlock musket and powder horn are cut in bold relief on the top piece. In the main die, on which rests the top piece, the following is inscribed:
A Soldier of the American Revolution
Born in South Carolina, March 22, 1752
Died in Lee County, Iowa, Nov. 27, 1840
Served Two Years under Marion
Oree, Brown, and Robinson
South Carolina and North Carolina.
Militias and Regulars
On the sub-base stone in letters of bold relief is inscribed:
Erected by the
The State of Iowa.
On the back side of the main die is inscribed the names of the different societies and chapters, under whose supervision and solicitations it was erected, as given above.
As part of the dedicatory services for this monument, there was an address by the Hon. J.P. Cruikshank of Ft. Madison, Iowa, a great grandson of the Old Pioneer Soldier [John Perkins Cruikshank 1852-1944, son of Keziah Perkins, daughter of Stephen Perkins Sr, son of George Perkins]. Since this address gives a most interesting and, so far as known, authentic account of the old ancestor's life, I am making it a part of this historical sketch:
- "Concerning the life and military services of the man to whose memory this noble monument is erected, there is little to be said,
or rather little that can be said authoritatively at this late date. Generations have come and gone since he was in active life. Nearly three score years and ten have passed since he was laid to rest in the quiet pioneer graveyard a few miles from this spot. The military records at Washington reveal meager, but authentic, data of his enlistments and service. The Perkins' family Bible gives simply the dates of his birth, marriage, death and place of burial. The remainder is traditional family history.
- "Born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of South Carolina, over a century and a half ago, the Old Pioneer Soldier followed the occupations of a hunter, trapper, tiller of the soil, and, in later years, dressed skins and fur pelts and manufactured them into caps, gloves, and various articles of wearing apparel. In the year of 1779, he was united in marriage to Keziah Manning, in the state of North Carolina. [Per pension application filed by Keziah Manning Perkins, George and Keziah were married 5 Apr 1780 in Bladen County, North Carolina.] Only two children, a son [Stephen Perkins Sr] and daughter [Anna E Perkins Graves], were born of this union, from which came a long line of descendants, numbering over five hundred, dead and living, scattered all the way from the Alleghenies to far Alaska. He subsequently lived in the states of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and finally, in 1837, moved to the vicinity of Primrose, in this county, then a part of the Wisconsin Territory. Here the aged couple resided with a grandson [Stephen Hardy Graves 1803-1885] the remainder of their days, which in his case was only a little over three years while his wife survived him nine years. They certainly lived the full measure of life, he dying in his 89th year and she in her 87th. Both were buried in the cemetery mentioned, near the farm on which they died. Within the last year, what was left of their remains, together with the moldering clay in which they were embedded, was disinterred and again returned to Mother Earth, in this beautiful necropolis.
- "The records of the War Department give May, 1776 as the date of his first enlistment, from the state of South Carolina. Since it was custom in the Revolutionary War, at least in that state, to enlist for short periods, even so short as one month, he is recorded as having enlisted no less than nine times in the regular service from May 1776, to May, 1780, aggregating about two years in all. These enlistments seem to have been simply for a raid or foray, and the short periods of service are in a manner accounted for when it is known that he served a greater portion of the time under Gen. Francis Marion, who had peculiar, if not erratic, ideas in regard to the manner of conducting a campaign. However, for cunning and strategy, dash and daring in his raids, no other leader of the Revolutionary period was equal to Marion, the Swamp Fox. Oree, Brown, and Robinson are given as colonels, and Gregg, LeBash and others as captains under whom George Perkins served. It is not stated that he participated in any important engagements. Seemingly in keeping with his native state's noted adherence to the doctrine of state's rights, so forcibly shown in later years, her soldiers confined their fighting to keeping the enemy out of her borders, and well they seemed to have performed that mission.
- "It is further shown that the old Pioneer enlisted also from the state of North Carolina, after his marriage. Accepting as true the usual claims of descendants of Revolutionary patriots, there were few privates in that war, but this one seems to have been an exception, as he served solely in the ranks. He also served at different times in the militias of the two Carolinas, in which service, according to tradition however, he at onetime held a minor office. In 1834, while a resident of Kentucky, he applied for and received a pension, but lived only six years to enjoy it. Strong and rugged in body and mind, but unlearned in letters, he lived the simple life.
- "His maintenance was chiefly from what he slew in the forest and cultivated in the clearings. He wore garments made from deer skins, dressed with his own hands, supplemented with the coarse woolen and cotton fabrics that his good wife carded, spun, and wove. He smoked his pipe in contentment, using only tobacco cultivated and cured by his own labor, drank his whisky straight, manufactured with his own hands in a crude domestic still that was little more than a copper tea-kettle attached to a coil of the same material. The worst that can be said of him is that he was a man who liked his dram. The fact that he lived so long proves one of two things: the brand that he manufactured and drank was a much better product than that of the present day, or his constitution was so rugged and so fortified by regular habits and the pure mountain air and crystal waters of his native country that the bad effects were completely neutralized. While it is not known that he was a member of any church, he was far from being an irreverent man. He trusted in God and kept his powder dry. He so lived, independent and oblivious of a higher civilization, never once dreaming that one day a grateful commonwealth would honor his memory with a granite memorial that will possibly endure so long as the government that he aided to establish.
- "His was a type of man born and adapted to meet the exigencies of the day in which he lived. Time and conditions have changed since then. The man with the coon-skin cap, leather breeches, and flint-lock gun that did service in war, as well as in peace, has filled his mission and passed to give place to the man who in time of peace rides a gang-plow, guides a steamship, runs a locomotive engine, or drives a chug-wagon, and in war wears a khaki uniform, carries a repeating rifle, manipulates a deadly machine-gun, lays explosive mines and blows up great vessels and vast armies by the wholesale.
- "Without detracting from the glory of the man who in spirit is the hero of this hour and this occasion, the fact is recognized that the state, in providing for the erection of this monument, had not in view the individual man so much as the principle for which he stood and fought. To us who look at it now, and to those who observe it in years to come, it is a reminder that the memory of
- those who helped to establish this government with its free institutions, and of those who have defended the same, shall be honored and kept green in the hearts of a grateful people.”
- "His bones are dust, his flint-lock rust,
- His soul is with the saints, we trust”
George Perkins moved from South Carolina to Kentucky and was induced by his grandson, Stephen Graves to come to Iowa where he lived with his only daughter, Anna, and her son Stephen, near Primrose, Lee Co., Iowa. William Graves, his son-in-law, died in Kentucky before his widow and son came to Iowa.
Under the map for Franklin Township in the "Andreas’ Illustrated Historical Atlas of Lee County, Iowa, 1874”, there is the following notation: "The first families that moved to this township were Alex. Cruikshank, George Perkins, Edley McVey, and Charles McVey”.  Since Primrose is in Harrison Township, it would seem that George Perkins first settled in Franklin Township before moving to the vicinity of Primrose, although Uncle John makes no mention of it in his review; but, since the early settlers made frequent shifts to new claims, it is quite likely true.
To George Perkins and his wife, there were born two children, Stephen and Anna. Several years before his death, my father, the oldest child of the Alex. Cruikshank family, dictated to me, at my request, a brief sketch of these two children and their families. It was given to me from memory and copied by me as given at the time; it is, therefore, subject to such errors as the lapse of time and human frailties will bring; but, since my father possessed a most remarkable memory, knew many of the persons personally, and had heard the story told in the home over and over by his mother, a daughter of Stephen Perkins, I am well satisfied that it is in the main correct. The following is the story as given to me by my father:
- "From all accounts that have come down to us, Stephen Perkins, the only son of the Old Revolutionary Soldier, was a rather unusual character, his unusual characteristics seemed to have been on the seamy side of life. As a boy and young man, he exhibited a tendency toward shiftlessness, and, when prompted to act, spent his energy in playing tricks and pranks on others. One incident that my mother used to relate will illustrate. Since his father was a hatter, young Stephen had access to many kinds of furs in which to dress himself. On one occasion, when his mother and sister were at home alone, he costumed himself to represent the Devil, and be assured that the Devil in those early days of superstition and illiteracy was a real personality with a forked tail and such other hideous quackeries as could be assigned by an over-wrought imagination. When the young man was thus costumed, he quietly slipped to the
- cabin door, opened it just wide enough to poke his hairy foot through, gave it a few shakes and withdrew it. The mother and sister were startled, but having become accustomed to face frontier life as it came, invited the mysterious being to “pear agin", whereat the rogue leaped into the room and proceeded to act the part of the demon that he seemed to be. The two lone women, fairly paralyzed with fear, crouched in a remote corner and with pitiable lamentations pleaded, "Banish, banish in the name of the Holy One, banish! Banish good Devil. Banish from our sight!” The incident became a family tradition and was frequently related by my mother with some degree of gusto.”
- "Stephen Perkins grew to manhood in the state of South Carolina, in which state he was married to Miss Catherine Summa. (There has always been some question in my mind as to the state in which Stephen Perkins was born. His mother came from North Carolina; his father, also, lived for a time in that state; and it has been my understanding that the Old Revolutionary soldier and his wife were married there. C.W.C.)
- "Later Stephen Perkins and his wife moved to Kentucky and lived in both Floyd and Lawrence counties, but their principal place of abode was on the Tug Fork of Big Sandy, near Licking Creek, not far from the present city of Louisa in Lawrence county. They lived in the state of Kentucky for several years; where several of their children, including your grandmother, Mrs. Alex Cruikshank were born. It was a typical frontier community. From Kentucky, Stephen Perkins moved to Ohio, then to Indiana, but I do not know the locations. In 1832 he moved to Illinois and took up a claim in the S.E. Corner of Hancock County. While the cabin was located in Hancock Co., my mother said that the claim included land in the three counties of Hancock, Adams, and Schuyler."
I will at this time drop the story given me by my father and give a quotation from an old book which deals with the early history of Hancock county and the adjacent territory. The title of the book is “Augusta’s Story” and was compiled by the Martha Board Chapter, D.A.R., written and edited by Harriett Cooper Catlin and Ralph W. Crane. The story deals with the early history of Augusta, Pulaski, both in Hancock Co. Ill. and Huntsville, in Schuyler Co. adjacent Hancock Co. In regard to Stephen Perkins there is the following:
- "Stephen Perkins of Kentucky, but then living in Indiana, came in 1832 with his family and took up a pre-emption right on the S.W. 1/4 of Section 6. Here he built a double log cabin and smoke house, and improved and fenced 5 acres of land. In the fall of 1834, he sold out and moved to Iowa.” (this place was purchased by Rev. William Crane--R.W.C.).
On pp. 196 and 197 of the above book, I find the following:
- "The house of the Rev. William Crane stands at the end of a lane which extends eastward 300 or 400 yards from a point on the Adams-Schuyler county line road, a little more than one-half mile south of the corner stone where these two counties join Hancock.
- Before this frame house was built, (in the spring of 1838) the family lived in a double log house which had been built by Stephen Perkins, who came here in 1832 and entered claim for the South West quarter of Section Six, Huntsville Township known then as TWO north and FOUR west."
X X X X
- "In August of 1834, the uncle of Mrs. Crane, Abraham Newfield, came with Rev. William Crane from Cape Girardeau County Missouri, to Schuyler Co., Ill. They arranged to purchase the claim of Stephen Perkins, which quarter section now forms the main portion of the Rev. William Crane Estate. They then returned to Mo. They returned to Rushville, Dec. 6, of 1834, and remained there until February, 1835, when they moved to Huntsville Township and took possession of their new home that had been purchased from Steven (?) Perkins."
In the same book I find the following on pp. 212.
- "The first marriage in Huntsville Township was performed by Rev. William Crane in the summer of 1835 --- a Mr. Cruikshank and Miss Keziah Perkins. xxx The first death was that of John Perkins on the S.W.¼ Sec. 6. He was buried at Camdon. (The death must have occurred between 1832-1835, and evidently the cemetery at Pulaski and that on the King farm had not been opened -- R.W.C.)
In regard to the marriage of Alexander Cruikshank and Miss Keziah Perkins, the account as given above is in error for the Perkins family moved to Iowa the early part of February of 1835, and my father was born on the Clay Grove claim, May 7, 1835. Grandfather and grandmother were married early in the year of 1834.
There is, also, a discrepancy in regard to the death of John Perkins as given in the "Augusta's Story". John Perkins lived to be an old man and the writer knew him when he used to visit at the Cruikshank home. He was, also, one of the brothers that made the trip to California. In my father's account, he says that William Perkins died in Ohio. It may be that in this he was in error, and that it was William instead of John that is referred to in the "Augusta's Story".
The initials "R.W.C." stand for Ralph W. Crane, a grandson of the Rev. William Crane who married Alex Cruikshank and Miss Keziah Perkins. This grandson was one of the editors of the "Augusta's Story."
I again take up the story as given me by my father.
- "He, Stephen Perkins, left Illinois and moved to Iowa in the early part of February, 1835. My mother came with them and joined her husband in his cabin home near Clay Grove where I was born, May 7th of that year. Stephen Perkins settled on a claim near the Cruikshank cabin. His claim included the land that later became the estate of Edward Courtright, adjacent to the Post Office of Clay Grove, and now occupied and owned by Clyde Overton. After a few years, Stephen Perkins sold his claim in Iowa and moved to Lewis Co. Missouri, in which state and county he died. I can not recall the date that he left Iowa.
- "That he was a man with a roving disposition is evidenced by the fact that he lived in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri ( The Augusta’s Story also places him in Indiana C.W.C.)
- "As to his occupations, it can be fairly well summed up by the expression, “A jack of all trades and a master of none." At different times in his life he was known to have been engaged in farming, salt and iron mining, Negro trade, turkey and hog trading, hunting bees and deer, ginseng trade, etc. He was what may be termed a backwoodsman. He was not much of a success in any of his many undertakings, and, if such a term may be correctly applied to him, he "broke up” three times as it is reported, selling at one time almost everything in the house to pay his debts.
- "To Stephen Perkins and his wife were born eleven children, the only thing at which this peculiar character seems to have proven eminently successful. Following is a list of their children: (1) George (2) Keziah (3) John (4) Spencer (5) William (6) Betsy (7) Talitha (8) Louisa (9) Eli (10) Moses (11) Stephen. (Note: I am not certain that all are given in the order of birth-CWC)
- "Of the above list, George was the oldest, and like his father possessed a roving disposition and died in Kansas----died while exploring the country in his wagon. He was married and had four children, two girls and two boys, but I do not know anything about them. George was named after his grandfather, the Old Revolutionary soldier. My first child, your oldest brother was, also, named for him.
- "Keziah, the second child, and my mother, married Alex. Cruikshank. They moved to Iowa and were among the first settlers of Lee County, where they lived for many years on the Cruikshank farm in Franklin Township. (Note: I plan to write more about her later -- CWC)
- "John, the third child, who had a farm in Missouri, roved around considerably. He rented his farm in Missouri and went to Galena, Ill. to work in the lead mines but returned to Missouri. In 1850 in the company of John Fugget, the first husband of Aunt Betsy, and his two brothers, Stephen and Eli, John went to California in response to the "gold rush". They made the trip with ox-teams. Here they remained for two years and engaged in mining, but did not meet with success. Eli died in California when he was about twenty-one years old. Fugget broke his leg, and when sufficiently recovered to travel, in company with the two living brothers started to return home by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Fugget died on board the vessel and was buried at sea. John and Stephen continued the journey, crossing the Isthmus on the backs of natives. They then sailed on a vessel of the Vanderbilt line to New York City, from which place they made their way home to Missouri.
- "Spencer strayed away from home and lived in the South – Louisiana I believe. He married but not much is known of him, further than that he was a strong rebel sympathizer and joined the Confederate Army.
- "William died in Ohio when but eighteen years of age. (Note: In the Augusta's Story, heretofore quoted, it is stated that the first death in Huntsville Township "was that of John Perkins." We know that it could not have been John, for he lived to make the trip to California. I am wondering, though, if the death mentioned in the Augusta’s Story could have been William, stated by my father to have died in Ohio. C.W.C.)
- "Stephen after returning from California went to Texas, Grayson County, where he died, and where his posterity still live. He married twice and served two years in the Confederate Army by compulsion, for at heart he was a strong Union man.
(Note: Uncle J.P. Cruikshank, when a young man, went to Texas and became quite well acquainted with Stephen and his family. While in Texas, he taught school in Grayson County. C.W.C.)
- "Betsy married Stephen Fugget and lived in Missouri. Fugget with the three brothers-in-law made the trip to California and lost his life as previously stated. His widow then married a Mr. Ammerman, a typical southern gentleman who owned slaves. By her first husband Betsy had several children. The family moved to Texas and as far as I know, their children still reside there. By her second husband, Betsy had one son, Wesley - a doctor - with whom she lived after the death of her second husband. (Note: Wesley Ammerman is about the same age as I. He used to visit with his mother at the Cruikshank home, and we played together as boys. He is still living, so far as I know – C.W.C. )
- "Talitha married a man by the name of Soward. From Illinois they went to California and, although Talitha and her husband are both dead, their grandchildren still live there.
- "Louisa married a man by the name of Bird [Burch LC]. They went to Texas and there died. I can give no further information about her.
- "Moses, for some reason, I have no account of him.
- "Anna Perkins, the only daughter of the Old Revolutionary soldier, was a quiet, unassuming woman and in no way comparable to her thriftless brother, heretofore described. She married William Graves. To this union several children were born. The husband died while living in Kentucky, after which his widow and two sons Stephen and Lyles, moved to Iowa. They established a claim near Primrose, Lee County, Iowa. It was through the influence of the grandsons, Stephen and Lyles Graves, that the Old Revolutionary soldier and wife were induced to come to Iowa to live with their daughter and grandsons, and in whose home they both died. Both Stephen and Lyles were married. Stephen had a large family, both boys and girls. Lyles did not have a large family. Stephen and Lyles both moved to Missouri, Lewis County, where they both died. So far as I know, their children moved to Kansas, McPherson Co., where their children still live.”
This completes the story as given me by my father. I realize that it is incomplete and that in part, it may be in error; but it is the best we have and so far as it goes, gives a fair idea of the family. The story he has given is quite typical of pioneer life --- large families, frequent moves, relatives widely separated, the whereabouts of
any unknown to the others, and many details that have been forgotten beyond recall. As I endeavor to put together the ravelled ends of this story of life here on earth, I can only wonder whether beyond the mysteries of life and death there will be a reunion of those we “have loved and lost the while." Reason brings confusion, doubts, and perchance, dismay. Hope that "springs eternal in the human heart" more sustainingly whispers, "yes". Yes,
- "Love will dream and Faith will trust
- That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.
- Alas for him who never sees
- The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
- Who, hopeless, lays his dead away
- Nor looks to see the breaking day
- Across the mournful marbles play!
- Who hath not learned in hours of faith,
- The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
- That Life in ever lord of Death
- And love can never lose its own.”
Thus has Whittier most beautifully [illegible] it is a most sustaining thought, and since it seems so universal, hence God given, may we not logically believe that it is true.
Thus far I have only briefly referred to the wife of Stephen Perkins, but in reality, through native gifts, she was an outstanding woman and the mainstay of her family. Through the dice like freaks in human society, it frequently happens that a no account man is joined in marriage with a quite superior woman, or vice versa. On his great loom of mating, Cupid brings forth some queer, if not misshapen patterns. So it would seem to have been in the union of Stephen Perkins and Catharine Summa. She was the mother of eleven children and through the nomadic, shiftless tendencies of her husband, it is known that she resided in the following states (my authority for this is my father): North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas. My father insisted, though, that the above list was not complete, and that in all she lived in thirteen different states, although he was unable to name. the others. As previously stated, she with her husband and family moved to Iowa during the early part of February, 1835. Later, they moved to Missouri, Lewis Co., where Stephen Perkins died. After his death, his widow lived in Arkansas, and Texas, then back to Missouri, and then back to Iowa, where for several years she made her home with her daughter, Mrs. Alexander Cruikshank. Here she died in June, 1875, at the advanced age of 93 --- a long, checkered, if not romantic life, indeed. I am unable to locate the exact date that she came to live with her daughter in Iowa, but know that it covered a
period of several years. Since I was born in 1863, I was twelve years old at the time of her death, and I have a very vivid recollection of her, for since my home was on the Alex. Cruikshank farm and located less than a quarter of a mile from the home of my grandparents, it would seem that I spent about half of my time there. As a result, I came to know grandmother Perkins (she was my great grandmother) as we called her, quite well. Even to this day I can recall her in memory as one of the distinct personalities of my boyhood days. Her room was downstairs in the S.E. corner of the house, just opposite the kitchen, with an enclosed porch between them. During the summer months, she spent much of her time on the porch, where she had a commanding view of the well, back yard, and garden. She was not a large woman, but was, as I recall her, almost finical in her dress and personal habits. She always wore a cap and invariably kept her cane by her side. She seemed to have one special purpose and that was to keep the chickens and children away from the well, and the rap of cane on the floor meant a general scampering. She always impressed me as rather austere so that I was rather afraid of her. I do not recall that she ever put a gentle hand on my head or in any way seemed particularly fond of children. To her, boys and dirt were synonymous and, since she had an innate antipathy for dirt, it was hard for her to tolerate a bunch of boys who were proverbially noted for having dirty feet, hands, necks, and ears, especially when they came slopping around the pump. Such were my childish impressions; but her life's history, as related to me in later years, led me to realize that I did not prize her at her true worth. Today as I try to review her career, I am proud that her blood flows in my own veins.
Grandmother Perkins was born in North Carolina but I have no knowledge of her parentage, further than that they originally came from Pennsylvania, and were known as “Pennsylvania Dutch". She died June 1875, and was buried in the Clay Grove cemetery, near her daughter, Mrs. Alex. Cruikshank.
Of the persons mentioned in the preceding pages, I had a personal boyhood acquaintance with several, and while a delineation of their individual characteristics, based upon such observations, can not have great value of accepted finality, I believe that it will prove both interesting and informative. I will, therefore, submit the following reminiscent sketches, the first being of the Old Pioneer and founder of the Cruikshank family in Lee County, Iowa:
Of all the personalities of my childhood, outside my parents, grandfather Cruikshank takes first place. What is more, from the standpoint of approved character, he has ever lived in my memory as a prince among men and a model of exalted manhood.
Born of Scotch parentage, his background was Calvinistic-Presbyterian, and while he had but little sympathy with the dogmas that grew out of it, its influence did much to establish in his mind attitudes toward God and man.
As previously stated, his father died when he was about five years old. At the age of twelve he left home to accept service on board a sailing vessel of those days as a cabin boy, from which time he was compelled to meet the vicissitudes of life alone and without the guiding hand of paternal care. For fifteen years-- yes, those fifteen formative years of habit and character building---his home was on board various types of ocean vessels, among strangers, and surrounded by vices and temptations so common to the roving, reckless, if not buccaneering, life of a "sailor before the mast,” during the early part of the eighteenth century. That he ever gave it up, or that he came through it with clean habits and high ideals of Christian manhood, is prima-facie evidence that he possessed those innate traits of character that ever distinguish those “well-born".
Grandfather inherited what seemed to me a rather striking physique. While not commanding in stature, he was well proportioned and symmetrical in build. He was about five feet ten inches in height, weighed about 160 pounds, muscular with no surplus fat, and lithe and straight as an Indian. Up to the last years of his life, he stood and walked erectly and frequently made the trip to West Point (about four miles) and return on horseback. Probably his most distinctive physical attribute was his long flowing beard, which he groomed with both care and pride. He was not bald but his hair which he wore in rather long flowing locks was thin, especially on the top of his head. Both hair and beard were almost snow-white---not just gray. He had high cheek bones, a Grecian nose, high forehead, dark blue eyes, a firm but sensitive mouth, and in general bearing that was regal. He possessed rare dignity and self-control, made friends and loved their company, but avoided gushing familiarity. He was. hospitable almost to a fault and "latch string" was ever out to all. At times his home was like an orphanage, and to have-accepted pay for a night’s lodging would have been to him a violation of good manners, approximating an insult. In all he did, “Modesty is the color of virtue”; as a
result he never sought publicity. Public-spirited, even to the detriment of his own family, he was satisfied to assist but preferred to let others contact the public eye. He was at his best in the “council room” with his family and friends and, as such, proved a most potent stabilizer in the community and county in which he was so universally and richly respected.
As an illustration of his sensitive and retiring nature, I will relate a personal example: Grandfather had a large apple orchard, in which were thirty-two different varieties of apples. It was his custom to enter samples of his apples at the annual agricultural fair, held each fall, at West Point; and it was my good fortune to assist him in selecting, and preparing the exhibit---usually five of each kind. To climb the trees and select what seemed the choicest fruit and then carefully take them to grandpa for final inspection was one of my most cherished boyhood events. Then, when so selected, to go with him to the fairgrounds and assist in a small way to place them, was another rung in my youthful ambitions. But it was the closing scene that fairly took me to “Fairy Land", for it quite frequently happened that “our” apples wore given first prize----never under second place. The award for first prize was usually 5.00, to get which it was necessary to go to the central office and stand in line with many others, and answer to the call of the name to whom the award had been given. This grandfather did not like to do. He did not like the publicity that it gave, and I always felt that it seemed to him mercenary beyond good taste. As a result he would ask me to go for him, and no boy ever accepted a challenge with greater joy. I have had thrills, both up and down, in my life, but none have ever surpassed the one that came to me when that $5,00 bill was placed in my hands, for I well knew that grandfather would "divvy up", my share generally being $1.00.
Grandfather had a sense of the most rigid honesty. To do a little or mean thing for personal gain was foreign to his thinking. His standards were such that he fairly “leaned backwards” in his attitudes. As a result his word was as "good as gold" for all who knew him. An incident, related to me by my father, will illustrate: During the early days when emigrants were "moving west”, it was common for these “movers” to stop and spend the night in his barn yard. On one such occasion, a party so stopping asked if they might fill their bed ticks with fresh straw from the newly threshed grain, which request grandfather most gladly granted. So they emptied the old straw out of their ticks and re-filled them with the new. When all was completed, they continued their journey. After they had been gone several hours, grandfather noticed that the hogs were rooting about in the straw that had been emptied out of the ticks. He further observed that they seemed to have a bag, or sack, that they would lift up and drop. Upon investigation, he found that the bag contained quite a sum of gold money (several hundred dollars, as it later proved). Realizing what had taken place, he saddled his horse, took the bag of gold and started out to overtake the "movers". They had travelled about ten miles, when he came up with them causing them to be somewhat puzzled at his appearance; but when they were shown the bag and fully realized what had happened, they were fairly overcome with gratitude at the return of their money which they had not missed. When they offered to reward grandfather for his service and honesty, he promptly replied that he could not accept pay for doing what he
considered an obligation. When this story was related to me by my father, it made a deep impression on my mind, and I am passing it on.
I cannot say that grandfather was a shrewd business man or trader. He left the roaming life of a sailor and came into the wilderness of the Black Hawk Purchase with but one outstanding ambition, that of building a home and becoming a useful member of society. The task before him was not an easy one. All that he possessed was good health, well directed zeal, and high resolutions. The final results depended upon the efforts of his two hands and those of his good wife. He made some headway by doing odd jobs and day labor; but to meet the government's price for the land included in his claim, he borrowed money at the rate of 33-1/3% for interest, which interest was paid by barter--a yoke of oxen. The first few years proved a real struggle, but with the assistance of his wife who was well schooled in the methods of frontier ways, he won. In the efforts that followed, he seemed to have no desire to measure his success in the number of acres owned---rather, he sought to build a suitable home for his family, a home not only distinguished by reasonable thrift, but one, indicating also the distinctive marks of culture and refinement. To this end, he set out both fruit and ornamental trees, built, for that day, what may be termed a palatial home, an equally good barn and other out buildings. His orchard, garden, front yard, feed lots, all neatly fenced were outstanding for good taste and arrangement, and the two rows of evergreens, consisting of Norway Spruce, balsam fir, arborvitae, white pine, Scotch pine and other varieties that paralleled each side of the walk in the front yard, as well as the "Locust lane" will never be forgotten by those who saw them, and nothing enkindles in my soul greater enthusiasm than the memories of my boyhood days, spent in the wholesome atmosphere of that Old Homestead---yes, and the deep regret of my declining years is to view its present dilapidated condition, as I pass by.
Grandfather was not a member of any church organization, but his standards of living were such that his life would have put to shame many who were affiliated with such institutions, and who were quite noisy in their Christian professions. He was by no means atheistic in his beliefs, and his bearing toward the church and Christian people was most respectful. His attitude toward God was one of profound reverence, and he accepted the Bible as a sacred guide in the affairs of men. True, he had but small regard for many of the dogmas proclaimed by many of the so-called Christian sects who so arrogantly proclaimed themselves God's chosen elect. To him religion was a sacred matter between each individual and his Maker-----something that was genuinely real in guiding one in his daily conduct.
In discussing the subject of religion with him one time, when I was a student in the Denmark Academy, I expressed certain doubts that came to me. In a most kindly manner, he sympathized with my mental reactions, stating that when he was about my age he had access to Tom Payne's "Age of Reason", which had a place on board the ship by the side of the Bible, and that for a time it had a great influence on his outlook on life and the hereafter; but as years passed by, and especially after the birth of their first child - my father - his feeling and attitudes
gradually came back to his childhood beliefs and with a firmer faith in what they meant and for what they stood. It was so kindly given and in such an understanding way, that it made a lasting impression upon my mind so that its potency has remained with me to this day. And now when doubts do come, as come they will, I find satisfaction in going back to that “firmer foundation" of Christian faith upon which my grandfather based his trust. Grandfather read the Bible consistently and during his closing years, daily. He especially enjoyed the Psalms, and when his eyes had grown dim with age, I can in memory still see him with his open Bible and a kerosene lamp before him on the table. In order to read the printed page, it was necessary for him to bring his eyes and lamp close to the open book. With both arms thus surrounding the Bible and lamp he read, while we, his casual observers, were in constant anxiety for fear that through some mishap he would upset his lamp. Such are the infirmities of old age!
In politics grandfather was a Jefferson, Jackson, Douglas Democrat. While strong in his convictions, he was considerate of the feelings and opinions of others, and was never abusive, like grandmother. He opposed secession, but had but little sympathy with Lincoln in trying to co-erce the seceding states, contending that slavery was a local matter, and that each state had a sovereign right to protect its domestic interests, even, if necessary, to withdraw from the Union. He, therefore, was not in sympathy with the Lincoln administration.
Thus, I could continue until I had written a volume, but with one more observation, I will close this personal reminiscent sketch: I was twenty-five years old when grandfather Cruikshank died. From the day of my birth to that eventful hour, I saw him almost daily. Our lives were so interwoven that they became almost as one---father and son--, and after the lapse of many years, I now pay him this tribute: through the years of our intimate social, business, and friendly intercourse, I can not recall one single act on his part that seemed to me little, or mean. Neither can I recall one single instance of his telling a smutty story or making himself cheap by trivialities unbecoming. a gentleman. I loved and respected him most highly, but I never allowed myself to presume or take undue familiarities in our relationship. He possessed that quiet dignity and equanimity of mind that always made me feel that I was in the presence of superiority, most graciously exhibited without ostentation or outward display--yes, a feeling akin to that which comes to me when I read the life history of George Washington.
I have no desire to portray grandfather as a saint, for he was truly human and beset with mortal frailties common to all; and amidst the vexatious vicissitudes of the business world, as well as in the remote chambers of his inner life, he undoubtedly met his temptations and his defeats. Even so, he, nevertheless, was most truly endowed with that rare strength of character and that discriminating sense of propriety and justice in human relationships, which together gave him a distinctive poise and self-control, hence made him an unusual personality among his fellow men. Especially were those commanding
qualities exhibited in the presence of women and children, and I repeat that during the years that I was so intimately acquainted with him, I never knew grandfather Cruikshank to commit what seemed to me one act unbecoming a true gentleman-----yes, high praise, and true.
A Few Notes
As previously stated, grandfather left his home in Norway when twelve years old. He returned but once, when about fifteen years old. He made only a short visit and then went back to the sea, and never again saw his mother and half-sister, and so far as I know, never communicated with them. This always seemed rather unusual to me, and what is more, grandfather did not seem inclined to talk very much about it. He appeared more willing to talk about his father and his people than about his mother. I had the feeling that he was none too happy over his mother's second marriage, but that is largely conjecture on my part. When he left home at the close of this last visit, he took with him certain keepsakes which he carried with him while on the ocean, and which became souvenirs in the family. I can not be certain that my knowledge is complete or entirely correct in regard to these family tokens, but I will give the list as I know it.
First, was his father's James Cruikshank, church letter, given at Oldeer, Scotland, in the year 1790. Since a copy of this letter has been previously made a part of this sketch, it will not be repeated here. It was most highly cherished by grandfather. At one time while carrying it in his pocket, it got wet and as a result is badly faded, making it difficult to read. It is the only recorded record we have of grandfather's ancestry, for which reason it is a most important document in our family. It is now in my possession, and I have it framed and under a glass cover.
Another keepsake that grandfather brought with him was his father's watch. It was an open-faced silver watch, called a “bull's’-eye" on account of its thick, rounded crystal. Its diameter was about that of a silver dollar and almost as thick, giving it a rather globular shape. It was given by grandfather to my father, who in turn gave it to me. My father prized it very much and cautioned me to take care of it and not let it go out of the family; and it grieves me very much that it was stolen out of my trunk while living in Ft. Madison. Father used to speak of it frequently and, rather than disappoint him, I never had the courage to tell him that it was lost---just another “white lie" to my credit.
It had the appearance of good workmanship and undoubtedly in its day was a good time piece; but, as I knew it, it never ran. We talked of having it repaired, but the works were so out of date that the jewelers did not recommend it.
Another memento was, or is, what we used to call a match box, or a “spectacle case". As I recall it, it was about six inches long, two inches wide, and two inches high, made of brass with a lid hinged on one side. The most striking thing about it, though, is the series of
figures and dates upon the lid and sides. We always felt that, could they be correctly interpreted, they had some meaning, but, to us they were hieroglyphic characters. The box is now in the possession of Uncle John, and as I recall a recent conversation about it, he sent the box to a firm that makes a study of "old relics", and that they pronounced it several hundred years old and very rare, there being only one other known to them.
The souvenirs mentioned above, I have seen, but my father used to mention another that he said was either lost or stolen. It was a silver bird that at one time ornamented the top of a silver tea-pot in grandfather’s home at Kristiansand but I can give no further account of it.
While I am upon the subject of relics, I will speak of an old chest of drawers, or bureau as we called it in our home, that is now in my possession. My father wrote a brief history of this "Old Bureau" for me which I still have, written in his own handwriting, I will include his sketch, which follows:
History of Old Bureau
James Cruickshank, Donnellson, Iowa
(Feb. 26, 1914)
- “A cherry log was cut by my father in the year 1838, and hauled to a saw-mill on Sugar Creek, owned by Mr. Walker, and run by water power. Father had it sawed into one inch boards (thick)--strong inch. Was not squared, just ripped through, we called feather-edged. Then he laid the lumber up over-head in our log house for a floor--laid it loose. It was there 9 or 10 years. I think it was in the year of 1849 or 1850, after we had built the new brick house, then we took it to West Point to a cabinet maker firm by the name of Alexander & Leach. They dressed it and made it into the present bureau. I think it was made in 1852 or 1853. After father's death, mother gave it to sister Kate. She could not take it to Idaho with her so my wife bought it from her. I wish it to stay in the family.”
(Note: It was the request of my father that, after his death, the bureau should be given to me)
When it came into my possession, it was badly scratched and marred, so I refinished it, doing the work myself. It took a most beautiful finish for the lumber came from a choice tree, and it is today one of our most treasured articles of furniture.
I also have one of the brick molds that grandfather used in making the brick for his new home, erected on the old homestead in 1850. It was, of course, a hand set, made of cherry lumber, and formed six bricks at one filling.
Miss Keziah Perkins
As I venture to depict something of the personality of Grandmother Cruikshank, I am confronted with two paradoxical observations. The first one refers to the marked dis-similarity of those inborn characteristics of character of grandfather and grandmother Cruikshank, that seemed to govern and dominate their respective individual tastes, mental reactions, and outlook on life. The second seeming in-consistency refers to a similar, pronounced un-likeness between grandmother and her own mother.
This rather apparent antithesis in the psychological reactions that were so pronounced in grandfather and grandmother, probably can be best explained by the assumption that nature keeps a more even balance through the law that “opposites attract". Be that as it may, as previously stated, grandfather possessed those attributes of mind, heart, and body that were clearly those that a progressive civilization had pronounced cultural, refined, and gracious - all of which led to social conduct, stamped with the amenities of those well-born, and truly patrician in bearing. Such qualities must have been innate, for his environment had been largely of the opposite nature.
Grandmother was endowed with equally native ability, but their reactions were along different lines; for, by both nature and training, she was primarily utilitarian, hence, highly practical, and bluntly direct. She was not a servile conformist, but truly individualistic, hence did not pay much attention to many of the established conventionalities of society. Coming from a long lineage of frontiers-men, she had been schooled in the hardships and cager advantages of those early pioneers who so nobly blazed the way to a better and more civil existence. Hence, the absolute demand for the bare necessities of life took first place in her thinking, and the social graces concerned her but little.
Although there was this marked difference in the personal characteristics of these grandparents, their opposite gifts seemed to be supplementary, and together grandfather with his quiet dignity, refined instincts, and self control, and grandmother with her direct, practical, if less cultured manners, built their home and reared their large family most successfully and happily, amidst the trials, reverses, and pleasures of a new country. They had their differences, and I have heard grandmother fret and scold at Cruikshank (I never heard her call him by his first name) for some of his idealistic and ethical ideals, which seemed to her impractical and absurd, and to which he listened with patience and respect; but never did I witness a "scene" that could be called embarrassing to an outsider. There was always mutual confidence and co-operation, as together they strove to do their part in creating a new and better social order within the wilds of the Black Hawk Purchase.
The second inconsistency mentioned above refers to the very noticeable dis-similarity between grandmother Cruikshank and her mother. This seeming incongruity was exhibited in their mental attitudes, physical
aptitudes, and that inherent sense that determines personal and individual tastes of likes and dis-likes, harmony and discord, and establishes those subtle processes in the human mind, out of which comes personal standards of conduct and the propriety of human action. When judged from the rebound of those inborn individual qualities, there was little to indicate that one was the mother, the other the daughter. Any effort to adequately explain such phenomenon can prove of small value, further than to observe that in the laboratory of human life, the mother’s womb, nature cuts, at times, what seems to be in the eyes of finite minds, some freakish didos. There, amid the labyrinthian maze of conception, the organisms of cell life unite to form new integral units of living beings; and occasionally in the established cycle of Divine laws, there are "throw backs" to ancestral types that seem to produce offspring very different from either parent. This is not an uncommon occurrence. Sometimes it is highly complimentary; in other cases, it is quite humiliating, and during the days of large families extreme cases were referred to as the "black sheep”.
A similar thought is most beautifully expressed by Lord in his “Beacon Lights of History" in his essay of Samuel, the Bible character, which I am pleased to quote as follows:
- "One of the greatest mysteries of human life is the seeming inability of pious fathers to check the vices of their children who often go astray under apparently an irresistible impulse or innate depravity, in spite of parental precept and example---thus seeming to show that neither virtue nor vice can be surely transmitted, and that every human being stands on his own individual responsibility, with peculiar temptations to combat, and peculiar circumstances to influence him. The son of a saint becomes mysteriously a drunkard or a fraud, and the son of a sensualist becomes an ascetic. This does not uniformly occur; in fact, the sons of good men are more likely to be an honor to their families than the sons of the wicked; but why are the exceptions so common as to be proverbial?”
I am a member of the Presbyterian church, and while I have no sympathy with the Calvinistic dogma of foreordination, I do, nevertheless, believe that our general course through life is quite positively predestined in our mother's womb. By this, I mean that through our God-given native abilities, we are best fitted to do certain things, and that our success will be highest, if we follow the path for which our talents best fit us; also, that our failures will be most marked when we undertake to do those things for which we have but little or no aptitudes, all of which is well exemplified in the pedagogic formula of "putting square pegs in round holes," or misfits.
With this digression, into which I have injected something of my own philosophy of life, I will again resume my sketch of grandmother Cruikshank. What has been said in these detouring; observations, may be irrelevant and have but small bearing on this sketch, but it has given me an opportunity to put into concrete form certain ideas that have crystallized into well-established conclusions, to which my years of experience, observations, and meditations have led me.
Grandmother grew to be very fleshy, so much so that it was hard for her to get about, or even to get up, when sitting. As a child,
I used to be amused to see her rise from her chair. When possible she would get hold of the table or some object with her hand, and then she would swing the upper portion of her body forward, then back, repeating these movements and with each forward movement gain sufficient momentum that would in time enable her to come to a standing position. As I remember it, she seldom left the house further than she would walk, due to her inability to get into and out of a wagon. During the closing years of her life, (three or four as I recall it, ) she was largely confined to her bed, and it was necessary to rig up a derrick with which to get her in and out of it.
To become fleshy seems to-have been a characteristic of the Perkins family, and her brother George grew so much that way that he virtually choked to death as a result. With the view of keeping her flesh down, grandmother took to smoking, and I shall never forget that old clay pipe that she used, for I tried to smoke it once, and only once. It had but little effect on keeping my flesh down, but it did bring my dinner up. Even though she was abnormally fleshy, she was not a large-boned person, and when a young woman, her weight was around one hundred twenty-five pounds, and I have heard grandfather say that he could easily carry her when they were married. Her normal weight and size then would be similar to that of her granddaughter, Mrs. Grace VanDyke, at a corresponding age.
Grandmother was truly a child of nature. Through both inheritance and environment she had imbibed the subtle influences of the primeval forests to the extent that she was fully imbued with their spirit and talked their language. In an effort to explain the mysteries of nature surrounding them, combined with the instinct of self-preservation, the early pioneers deduced many suppositions, forebodings, and signs that to them augured coming events, based largely upon the supernatural outlook, and out of which grew up many local superstitions. In this lore, Grandmother was well versed, and her practical mind led her to use past experiences and traditional attainments to their reputed advantage. She knew the medicinal herbs and prescribed their use with much skill. She knew the habits and habitats of both animal and plant life, and the processes necessary to fit them for use to men. She was a born agriculturist, horticulturist, and florist, and her garden and flowers were ever outstanding for their abundance and beauty. She possessed an inborn bent for planting seeds and with marvelous success, for they seemed always to grow and develop. As a result the garden, the orchard, and the nearby cornfields received her special attention and became alive with growing things, and in retrospect I can most vividly see her plodding about in the garden and fields. As a result, the family table was always supplied with an abundance, and never was I allowed to go hungry when grandmother was around.
Grandmother was more at home out of doors than in the house. Her practical mind gave her a sense of thrift, hence she was by impulse a natural provider. She had about all kinds of poultry common to the farm, and to care for them and her garden was her delight, and the “varmints” including the polecat that dared to molest her hen roosts
were sure to meet with a hot reception. From this, it is easy to conclude that she was not a "spick and span" housekeeper. And here is where she was so unlike her mother. As previously stated, her mother was almost finical; if not pernickety, in regard to her personal appearance, cleanliness, and house-keeping. In such matters grandmother was truly antipodal. She lacked those graces of daintiness and harmonious arrangements that one associates with effeminacy. ln her direct, practical methods, she was primarily concerned only with results, and while not filthy, she was at times sloppy and careless of both personal appearance and house-keeping. When her girls grew up, much alone this line was corrected, but grandmother remained about her original self. In memory, I can still see her plodding her way back to the house with her apron full of vegetables, eggs, fruit, etc., and not in-frequently with a piece of fence rail or wood under her arm; for it made no difference that there was always plenty of stove wood for fuel, she seemed to take satisfaction in salvaging the wreckage that accumulated about the place. She did not wait to have it cut to stove-length---she just opened the stove door and pushed in as much as would go, leaving a portion, often as much as two feet, sticking, out. When the portion in the stove had been consumed, she would then push what remained in until all was burned.
From the standpoint of book learning, grandmother would be called illiterate. Uncle John states that she attended school one term but it must have been of small consequence, for to all the legal documents on record, she made her mark (x). As I recall her, she could read by spelling out each word and in doing so whispered each letter in a half audible tone. The almanac was her constant companion, out of which she in some way gained a fund of knowledge. Grandmother, in some way hard to explain, had acquired a most liberal accumulation of proverbs, saws, jokes, stories; conundrums, and quotations from good literature at which I still marvel. She was a born story teller and "we children" used to beg her to "tell us a story". Some of her stories, like “Jack and the Bean Stock”, “Cinderella”, “Little Red Ridinghood”, “Mother Goose” and “Fairytales” were well suited for young children and she told them with great gusto and reality. Other stories had grown out of the experiences of the family and the communities in which she had lived, some of which like “Run White Devil or the Black Devil will Get You", “Pear agin", and the “Hanging of John Walker" by her uncle “Billy" Graves were quite thrilling, if not tragical. Many others were humorous and ridiculous. The stories that she told for "we children" were always quite proper, with the exception that sometimes there might have been too many bogeys ("boogers” we used to call them) to induce restful sleep. Her stories were exceptionally well told and eagerly listened to by “we children" with eyes and ears wide open. The stories that she told for adults were frequently "tainted" and told, as it seemed to me, with the purpose of shocking, what seemed to her, somebodies super-sensitive modesty. In this respect she was very different from grandfather, but he accepted it, without protest, further than to ejaculate “Oh, Kizie!", as he called her, when the indecorum of the situation approached the ridiculous.
In temperament, grandmother was inclined to be impulsive and at times brutally frank. On questions that touched her deeply, she could be abusive, intolerant, and tactless. Among such questions, were those that grew out of the Civil War. Since I was born in 1863, just a few months before the decisive battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, my early years were spent amid the tragic contentions that grew out of that war and the reconstruction problems. When the war broke out, my father and mother were living in Missouri, and it seemed that father would have to enter the war. It was apparent that he could not do so and leave mother and her two children alone in that state. As a result they moved back to Iowa and built a log house on grandfather's farm, just a few rods from the Cruikshank home. Until this log house could be completed, my parents made their temporary abode with grandfather and grandmother, in which home and time, I was born. My mother's people were strong Union sympathizers and my mother thought as they did; but what was worse to grandmother, my father became a Lincoln Republican, hence the “black sheep” of the family. Loyal and kind in all other respects, grandmother was intolerant and abusive to the point of being insulting, upon the question of slavery, and no Southern rebel could have fought the cause for the South more un-compromisingly than she. “Black abolitionist!", “Nigger lovers", “Go marry your daughter to a nigger, if you love them so well”, “Lincoln baboons”, “white trash” were a few of her gibes that I can still recall. In brief, a Lincoln Republican was the limit of political depravity, and to know that her first born, my father, was one made her the more intolerant. For his stand on the part of my father, she was inclined to blame my mother. Father more like his father, did his own thinking and said but little in answer to his mother’s tirades and went calmly on his own way. With mother, it was different, and she would frequently answer back in similar kind. On other subjects, there was only kindly and mutual respect and co-operation, and in case of need or distress, each would have made any sacrifice called for, even to the supreme surrender of life itself. The influence of those early childhood scenes and contentions made a deep impression on my mind and even to this day, they remain among the most vivid recollections of my boyhood days. It is hard, yes, impossible, for any person who did not experience something of the strife engendered by the Civil War, to realize the depths to which the souls of its participants were moved, or the bitterness of feelings and strife that it produced.
Grandmother was not religious woman. By that I mean that she was not demonstrative, and like grandfather, did not often attend church. If I recall correctly, though, father told me, that in her younger days, she was baptized and joined the Baptist congregation. If so, she gave no indication to that effect as I knew her. Like grandfather, she respected sacred things and never spoke irreverently of God and the Bible, to my knowledge; and when the end approached, she met death serenely as if "drawing the mantle of her couch about her and lying down to peaceful slumber”, which leads me to wonder whether any type of religion can do more.
As a picture is a combination of light and shadow, so life is a mixture of calmness and strength, the good and the bad; therefore, in presenting the facts as reported to me as well as my own personal observations, in this sketch, I have endeavored to do so frankly and with fairness. Hence, if certain things said in regard to grandmother appear somewhat uncomplimentary kindly bear in mind that they are no more so than could be remarked in regard to most of us---yes, may I say all of us. The multitude responds to life differently. Some are reticent and self-centered, so that it is hard to evaluate their motives and objectives; others are so open that they “wear their thoughts on their coat-sleeves", and upon them we pass judgment more freely. In all instances we may come wide of the mark, and to that extent we should be most charitable in our conclusions.
But in closing this effort to portray something of the character and personality of grandmother Cruikshank, I have left for my last consideration what I deem her outstanding trait, viz., her "good heartedness”, "her sympathy for the unfortunate", and “her willingness to assist in the time of need. Yes, grandmother with her many seeming eccentricities was a good woman, and I mean good. A loyal helpmate to her husband, a kind and loving provider to her children, a gracious and considerate friend to her neighbors, and an affectionately indulgent grandmother were among her crowning attributes - the fruitage of a benign and sympathetic nature. I often heard grandfather say that "Kizie” was sincerely good hearted, and that she was a better woman than he was a man; and even now as the twilight of my life deepens to its close, my gratitude goes out anew to “dear old grandmother, who was so kind to me when I was a child. With these qualities of goodness so pronounced, grandmother's seeming external shortcomings sink into insignificance. Shakespeare has said, "The evil that men do live after them; The good is oft interred with their bones". Not so with grandmother, for her spirit "goes marching on" through the lives of those that knew and loved her, and it is the hope of the writer that those who deign to read this humble tribute to her memory, may catch something of the magnitude of her un-selfishness and the wholesome sway her memory still holds over me, her oldest living grandchild.
John Perkins and Betsey Perkins Ammerman
I have written at some length in regard to grandfather and grandmother Cruikshank, because l knew them best; but l had a passing acquaintance with two other members of Stephen Perkins' children, viz., Uncle John Perkins and Aunt Betsy Ammerman. When I knew them, both were living in Missouri, Lewis County. Aunt Betsey was a widow and as I recall it, Uncle John Perkins’ wife was also dead. They used to come to Iowa, making the trip with horses and wagon, to visit grandmother Cruikshank, their sister. About one week was the duration of their stay, and through these contacts I received my impressions.
Uncle John Perkins was what can be called a "character", or what may be hotter termed a “singed cat”. Unlike his sister, grandmother Cruikshank, he was rather "lean-and lank” and impressed me as an Andrew Jackson type. He had travelled much and had a fund of knowledge,
which, with his native talents, made him an excellent conversationalist. His discourses could be both serious and chit-chatty, but they frequently were enlivened with original stories and a rare drollery that kept his listeners on their toes. He was highly individualistic, a pronounced trait in the Perkins family, and in his thinking and social reactions was pretty much of a law unto himself. The thing that sank the deepest into my memory was his attitude toward “strong drink" and the problems of the Civil War. In regard to strong drink, he was a radical temperance man; in regard to the Civil War, he was just as strong in his sympathy for the Union Cause as his sister, grandmother Cruikshank, was for slavery and the Confederate cause. In the discussion of this question, grandmother would bluster and scold while Uncle John would grin and with his drollery answer jokingly and with an occasional thrust that went home. Since my father was a Union man and the only member of his family that voted the Republican ticket, it gave me, as a boy, much satisfaction and added faith in his judgment, io hear Uncle John stand up for the same cause.
While somewhat irrelevant, I will relate an incident that took place when I was a child that will throw additional light on the political situation of Reconstruction days.
It will at least give a slight color to the political feelings of that time. It will, also, prove an interesting example of what controlling influence parents have in establishing ideals in the minds of their offspring.
In the fall of 1868, when Grant and Seymour were the candidates for the presidency, it happened that I was one day up to grandfather's home, where I spent much of my time. It further happened that my grown up uncles and aunts, who were still at home, found much amusement in teasing me. On this particular day one or more (probably more) of these "grown-ups” taught me to "hurrah!” for Seymour and a "rope" with which to hang Grant,” all of which I entered into with much enthusiasm. The "grown-up” then told me that when I got home I must repeat my "hurrahs” for Seymour to my father and mother. (In imagination I can still see the twinkle in their eyes). I did as I was told, but the reception was rather cool, and I was rather sharply told to "keep still". That night, sitting on my fathers lap for a bed-time story, he explained to me that he was for Grant and quite fully why he thought Grant the better man of the two. My little head was too young to comprehend it all, but one thing was certain if father was for Grant, then I would be too. The next day when I appeared at grandfather's home, there were the "grown-ups" in full force asking me to hurrah for Seymour. Nothing doing; and to their amusement, if not amazement, I shouted for Grant with all the cockiness of a bantam rooster. It is good to recall such little incidents of childhood cling to us.
Of Aunt Betsey Ammerman, I can not speak further than to observe that in appearance and bearing she was conspicuously different from her sister, grandmother Cruikshank. Instead of being fleshy, she was taller and rather slender, as I recall her. She possessed a rather cultural bearing and those social graces that characterize educated people. It may have come from the fact that her husband owned slaves, thereby bringing her into the environment of leisure and that southern aristocracy that grew out of it. Be that as it may, she did not make the lasting impression on my young mind as did her more erratic brother John.
Letter Written by Uncle John Cruikshank
Ft. Madison, Iowa
I recently wrote to Uncle John, asking certain questions in regard to the family. He very kindly answered at some length, and since his letter is both interesting and valuable from the historical standpoint, I am making it a part of this historical sketch. When it is recalled that Uncle John wrote this in his EIGHTY-SEVENTH year and while confined to his bed, it will seem more remarkable. While it does not co-inside in all of its particulars with the report given me by my father, in the main the two accounts give about the same general thought as to the facts. I consider this letter most valuable, and am happy that I can make it a part of this sketch. The letter follows:
- Ft. Madison, Iowa, 12/30/39
- C. W. Cruikshank,
- Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
- Dear Charley:
- Your letter of inquiry regarding, the Perkins-Cruikshank family was received some two weeks ago, but owing to so many holidays and a score or more of visitors, I could not get sufficiently settled down to make reply. I find that while age does not decrease my thinking faculties (rather increases them), it is more difficult to express my thoughts, especially on paper when it becomes an irksome effort.
- Most of my letters are written in pencil and sent to Emma for copying. I find that I have almost, if not completely, lost the ability to efficiently concentrate my thoughts to dictate a long letter--liable to repeat what I am to say. Again, in pencil writing, I am at a loss to correctly spell at times---often use words such as derivatives, affixes, in particular, and I can’t find them in the small dictionary that I use as an aid in spelling.
- Interrupted again by a friendly caller--getting dark and will lay it over for the New Year.
- Happy New Year! January 1, 1940.
- Will try and answer your inquiries in regard to the Perkins-Cruikshank families.
- Inq. 1---Yes, a few short terms in a so-called “Loud” school in Kentucky. (This answer was in regard to whether grandmother [Keziah Perkins Cruikshank, L.C.] ever attended school--C.W.C.)
- Inq. 2--In regard to mother’s signature---I do not recall any legal documents that mother was required to sign except the following:
- Deed to Isaac N. May for the S.E. part of the fractional N 1/2 of the home farm received from the Government,
- Deed to John Martin for the E 10 acres of the N.E. 1/4, N.E. 1/4 (fractional) Sec. 2.
- Deed to John Roth--40 A off the South side of the farm, afterward deeded by Roth to your father.
- Deed to Myer home farm (This was sold after her death, C.W.C.)
- Deed to William May for 40 Acres that father bought from the Ritter family
- in 1865 or 6, paying $400 for the tract that he sold to May for $600. It adjoins the Blacksmith forty on the west. This was the only land deal that father ever made in which he received a profit, and he would not have taken the profit, if mother and the family had not jumped on him and insisted that he take it. For some reason of his own, he did not believe in un-earned profits. Yet, he always advised me to invest in land---by that he meant profits in the increase of land values. He failed to take into consideration the decrease in land values. He was offered $50.00 per acre for the home farm following the Civil War, and when the German asked if $60.00 would buy it, he said the farm was not for sale at any price---an unusual construction of the moral law.
- Returning to the signature question: Along in the early sixties, the daughters of the family put mother through a series of trials in writing her signature by guiding her hand so that she could make a row of crow feet that passed very well for a legal signature. President Jackson had very little, if any, school attendance. The greater part of his literary education he acquired after 18 years of age. No other president left fewer autograph signatures than Jackson.
(Note: a,b,c, etc. are subdivisions of No. 4, starting this page)
- Inq. 3---Grandfather, Stephen Perkins, settled in Ill. in 1832. Am unable to state that his entire family remained there with him, or even accompanied the family there. Three, probably four, of the sons worked in the lead mines at, or near Dubuque, soon after the mines were discovered, 1832-1835. It can be safely said that the family began to disintegrate soon after it arrived at Quincy, early in April 1832.
- Inq. 4--(a) Stephen Perkins with the remainder of the family settled at Clay Grove in 1835 --- one claim only. (c) Moved to Missouri in 1837. ( d) The George Perkins referred to in the Atlas, I think was George Perkins, Jr. [This is George Washington Perkins, Stephen Perkins’ oldest son. L.C.] I have no knowledge that he ever lived in Franklin Tp. He may have lived with father for a short time, until he settled in Marion Tp., 1 1/2 miles due north of Old Tuscarora. He put out an orchard and established a nursery, also took a claim near Primrose and established a nursery, and subsequently lived near Centerville and in Franklin Co., Kansas, having a nursery at each location. In fact was of the same type as the famous “Apple seed Johnny”, who carried a bag of apple seed and planted them in various-locations where stopped, regardless of soil or adaptation. (e) Uncle John B. Perkins also made claim one mile N.E. of the George Perkins nursery claim in Marion Tp. It seemed to have been in part a small prairie, or glade in the forest where he made his improvements and set out an orchard, carrying out the Perkins idea. This orchard and indication of a building foundation remained a relic of former habitation, un-fenced and surrounded by the original forest, up to as late as 1870, the apple orchard still bearing fruit, seldom allowed to mature on account of the marauding youngsters. I have often visited the lonely glade, the abandoned home of a relative, getting a kick out of its weirdness; have eaten the fruit of the trees such as it was. One tree, however, a Rambo, at one visit I found had, for some cause, escaped the greedy appetites of the kids, matured and mellow. (f) As to George Perkins, Sr. [1754-1840, son of Joshua “Old Jock” Perkins. L.C.], and wife [Keziah Manning (1763-1849) L.C.], I am quite certain they did
- not join the Stephen Perkins family in the river rout to Quincy, Ill. They must have come with the Stephen Graves' family via river, possibly, wagon route, a short time after the Perkins family, settling at Primrose. I have no certain information as to the date or route of the trip from Ky. to Iowa----neither as to the relationship of Stephen Graves to George Perkins, Sr. However, mother in her tragic account of the hanging of one John Walker by uncle “Billie” (William) Graves, then sheriff of Lawrence Co., Ky., was the executioner, I take it, that was either the sister of "Aunt Anna” (Graves) Perkins, or the husband of the daughter of George Perkins, Sr., and aunt Anna (Graves) Perkins, and that Stephen Graves was the son of said “Billie" Graves, sheriff. During my short visit in Louisa, county seat of Lawrence Co., Ky., 25 or 30 years ago, I came in contact with an aged man of unusual intelligence for the location, who knew our relatives that lived in that region of Ky. and Va. (from hear-say only) through his parents. This informant (can't recall his name) give as his version, gained from a traditional source, that George Perkins, Sr, was a provincial mountaineer---a “Hill-Billie”? I suggested. "Yes, since you have made the inquiry.” I further gathered from the "Big Sandy" Ky., district raconteur the following summary of the traditional accounts as I now recall them, relative to the Perkins Graves families, some of which are feebly corroborated by statements from relatives: The Revolutionary ancestor was a man of the mountaineer type of the English descendants of the James town colony, self-constituted and tenacious, a squatter on public land, who paid little, if any, taxes, but was a member of the state militia and a foray fighter for the Government, whenever his services were required. The senior Perkins' occupation was that of a hunter, trapper, and furrier---who dressed fur-bearing animals for the market, and then manufactured it into clothing for the local trade. As to the second generation of the Perkins family: Stephen Perkins, the only one of the name, seemed to have been more modern in character, as well as occupation---a jester that did not take life very seriously; a trader who bought hogs, more often rounded up unmarked wild hogs that had strayed from the neighboring herds, as well as their off-spring, all of which were feeders off the abundant mast of the forest, then domesticated by being "penned in" on a small amount of corn feed, then driven to market at Richmond, Va., and sold. Stephen also bought "sang" (ginseng), a herb that grew in abundance on the mountain sides, removed with a tool called the "sang hoe"; stored in “sang house" and as mother said was "clarified" (kiln-dried). The “sang" season was in the fall after frost had killed the tops. It was then transported by “packhorses” over the Cumberland Mountains to the nearest sea port which was likely Norfolk or Portsmouth, Va. It was there sold to exporters who shipped the "charmed root" to China, where at that time the “Chinks” regarded it as valuable for its supposed magic as well as medicinal powers---good luck to man, hence man root, on account, of its resemblance to a man by being forked--ginseng, in the Chinese language, is man.
- It seems that grandfather Perkins was more or less of a speculator, making money and then losing it in unprofitable ventures---starting
- schemes and abandoning them, a sample of which was the laying out, and actually platting the town of Tuscarora on land about one-fourth of a mile north of the N.W. corner of father's home farm, on which the log school house of Tuscarora was afterward erected. The proposed town plat was located on the north and south road on land now owned by a Raid or Metzger.
- Information from father really supports the supposition that Stephen Perkins was the instigator of the proposed town, notwithstanding the credit for the platting (signatures to the plat that I have seen) are George Perkins [son of Stephen Perkins L.C.] and, if not mistaken, John B. Perkins [son of Stephen Perkins L.C.]---also one or two others, The plat under consideration was never legally recorded. While I am slightly hazy as to the source of information, I am positive as to the cardinal points recited above. Along with my failure to recall the name of my Ky. informant in regard to the Perkins and Graves families, the above is a regretful illustration of the prevailing Perkins feature of starting something, only to the abandonment of the same, which feature I have, also, inherited in a measure---visualized in the nice, new imitation calf-bound diaries, furnished by advertisers. In some of these, I began the New Year, starting in fanfare flourishes, dwindling down to common-place events in less than a month, then skipping a day or two until and after March first, the daily white spaces were "white forevermore." I still have one book irregularly maintained for 1938 and one for 1939 up to our Golden Wedding and my birthday coming at the same time and many other events following to the extent of abandonment, or at least, as I hope, a suspension only, of my personal, family, and local records of events. As to state, nation, and international events, one can get them in bound volume of "Current Events”. (Magazines) in any up to date library.
- Getting back to your inquiries, or rather the Graves family, regarding which you made no inquiry, but I believe will be of interest to you. My Ky, informant, as I remarked, did not have much to say about it. However, he gave me the impression that the members of which he had second hand information, viz., William Graves (Uncle Billies, the sheriff) and Stephen Graves, were office holders in the county. Possibly he may have told me of the relationship to each other and their relation to great grandma Graves Perkins, whose remains, along with her husband, George Perkins Sr., you and I dis-interred from the Primrose cemetery, and re-interred in the Sharon cemetery. If such relationship were given to me, it is gone beyond recall, unless (only a remote possibility) I should unearth some misplaced letter, or pencil memoranda in my overfilled office vault that would at least "waken the lost chord.”
- Final summary of Perkins-Graves families: It occurs to me that in a paper that you read to me not long ago, summing up the careers of George Perkins, Sr., Stephen Perkins, Sr., and the known sons of the latter, that none of them ever achieved any success, financially or otherwise, or in words to that effect. This view is true only in a measure, in what you ascribe as a successful career. Viewed financially, none of them acquired wealth of land or personal property as generally considered. Yet, not one that I knew personally or from a hear-say source was rich, neither was he poor. All were self-centered, self-sustaining and most of them were fairly well-to-do. None, in a certain
- sense, were ."Heavers of wood or drawers of water" for other people. Practically all of the Perkins strain (including the Graves stock) were small “boned”, a few stocky or corpulent, like mother and Uncle George [son of Stephen L.C.]; nearly all possessed small hands and feet, not given to hard labor. Your father inherited a combination, the Perkins-Cruikshank lineage.
- As I have-in-before pointed out some of the propensities of the two Southern families, were their migratory trend, their seeking of new homes, their lure of lead and gold mines, and the more progressive ventures of laying out towns and planting orchards and nurseries in various locations. In this connection, it is important to mention that George Perkins, the Second, (jR,) [son of Stephen L.C.] is credited with planting the first bearing orchard of grafted trees and nursery; laid out another town in Kansas, having previously been one of the founders in laying out the town, now the city of Centerville, Iowa. Uncle George had six sons in the Civil war on the Union side, while his brother, Stephen, and possibly his brother Spencer of Texas and Louisiana respectively, were impressed into the Confederate service. None of the Perkins-Graves families owned slaves, except Stephen Perkins, Sr., mother’s father who owned two, husband and wife. This accounts for the fact that all of the children of Stephen Perkins Sr, were at heart loyal to the Union cause, except Aunt Betsie (Perkins) Amerman, whose husband was the owner of at least a dozen blacks, when he moved from Mo. to Texas in 1861, in the belief that the South would be victorious. Mother was, also, more of an ardent sympathizer of the Southern cause.
- I can not close this summary of the male members of the two families under consideration without some mention of the feminine portion thereof: First of all was Catharine Perkins, the wife of Stephen Perkins, Sr the mother of eleven children and the outstanding head as to natural ability, economy, and longevity, matrimonially connected with the Perkins lineage. Born in North Carolina of an obscure ancestry---maiden name--Summa ( sounds foreign)---Father died, mother’s maiden name---Masters--nothing more, except from traditional sources, Ancestry--English, Welsh, and a small measure of German---dialect peculiar, not Southern. The name woman she pronounced “wooman". She was wholly devoid of book lore, but possessed a remarkable innate intelligence, especially in the domestic sphere in which she lived. Added to her fundamental base, Grandma acquired a certain amount of culture from living in eleven states of the Union, mostly Southern, keeping in touch with the better class of society, whenever it was possible for her to do so. Autocratic, but just, in demeanor; intolerant toward the so-called “White trash” of the South, shrewdly hoarding of the gold to the extent of secreting the greater portion from the Confederate Government in exchange for worthless Confederate Bonds, Grandma managed to maintain her individuality for ninety years, along with about $500 in gold.
- Your grandmother, and my mother and the eldest daughter of Grandma Perkins, Keziah (Perkins) Cruikshank, in some respects were the opposite in individuality from grandma Perkins, mother having inherited more of the Perkins's blood (traits), while Mother had the same independent basis, necessary for pioneer life. She possessed a more liberal and tolerant view point than her mother, Grandma Perkins; a strong family
- affection---neighborly, preferring entertaining to being entertained, however; was especially kind and thoughtful of the poor, took pride in filling their hand bags or baskets with fruits (usually apples of which we had plenty, nearly all seasons) and left-overs when leaving. Mother had a remarkable love for the beautiful in nature--flowers, both garden and wild; ornamental trees and shrubbery, also the useful herbs (medicinal) and tees of the forest, their use and nomenclature; the heavenly bodies, their movements and eclipses; a weather prophet, obtained from the almanacs and traditional sources, along with a fund of mental impulses.
- There was one feature in mother’s mental caliber that I could never fully understand where and how she became possessed with it, viz. her abundant fund of ancient proverbs, old sayings, and conundrums, and quotations from English Literature. I have often heard her speak of an old English Reader, owned (or borrowed) by the family which may account for the English quotations. I recall a verse that she taught me to recite for company, when slightly over five years of age, running something like this:
- “If I were so tall so I could reach the sky,
- And grasp the ocean with a span,
- I would be measured by my soul,
- The mind is the standard of the man.”
- “If I were so tall so I could reach the sky,
- She never could have obtained the proverbs from the Bible. I never saw her open the book to read, unless to prove her contention in an argument, and then she would have to get someone to find what she wanted. Furthermore, Mother had an in-exhaustible supply of anecdotes--quaint, humorous, or tragic, according to the hint the reminder might suggest. Like her brother, John, and granddaughter, Jeannette McGuire, with a little more language-culture, she would have made an excellent raconteur of a decidedly Perkinesque-type. (copyright reserved) Aunt Elisabeth (Fugate) (Perkins) Ammerman was probably better educated than any of the Stephen Perkins daughters; having slave help during her second marriage, she had more leisure for culture and the amenities of life; notwithstanding, she bore the pioneer stamp of the Perkins lineage.
- Louisa (Perkins) Bird---I am somewhat hazy in regard to meeting her in Texas. I remember her husband, Hiram Bird, a “good pipe smoker” as Mother used to say. One son, Charles, “Chuck” nickname, who moved to Clay Co., Texas, where he held the office of treasurer of that county for 6 or 8 years, and two nice daughters, one, Naoma, I recall attending her—don’t remember the others name. Strange to admit, I can’t clearly remember “Aunt Lou” sufficiently to form any conception of her personality. I have a vague idea she died after my first visit in Texas, while I had left Grayson County to make an unsuccessful effort in the wilds of western Texas as a land surveyor, and as a cowboy and a “cotton picker” in the vicinity of Vice President Garner's home county, near the Mexican border.
- In regard to Talitha (Perkins) Soward—“Aunt Till”: Being the youngest daughter of Stephen Perkins, Sr., all I know about Aunt Till, having never met her, is hear-say evidence. From indications gathered
- from such source, she seems to have inherited the dominant and frugal traits of Grandma (Summa) Perkins and the adventurous instinct, of the Perkins' family. It must have required unusual courage for a young woman, like Aunt Till, to undertake a trip with her two brothers in an ox-drawn wagon, soon after the Calif. fold discovery; over an uncharted trail, through a desert country, beset with hostile savages.
- I need go no further in elucidating the character of this masterful feme-sole type of our pioneer forebears. The pioneer element, like the savage, the buffalo and the deer, are gone; they are no longer needed, except in a few undesirable lands in the arctics and the tropics.
- In closing my story and account on the Perkins lineage, I hope I have not over-drawn, nor under-estimated any one of the family under consideration. Furthermore, it is not my intention to convey the idea that the tribe was of any greater importance than any other pioneer family in the settlement of the states. It simply filled the niche, fittingly provided by the natural law in the development of civilization.
(Answers 5 and 6 after No. 7 should appear here)
- Inquiry #7---Regarding Grandmother Perkins' estate, my recollection is that her estate duly administered on and the money, consisting of nearly $500,00 in gold, was allowed Father and Mother for (her) maintenance, possibly Grandma left a will to the same effect.
- Inquiry #5-- Your Aunt Kate's first child, Albert Dunlap, now deceased, was born along about the first of September, 1864, in a mormon settlement, called “Pleasant Valley”, in eastern Idaho, almost 100 miles south of Bannock City, Montana Ter., their final destination. She remained in P.V. about two weeks. In the meantime, Mr. Dunlap rode one of their horses to Bannock to secure a building for a home, returning for sister Kate and infant. Bannock at that time was a stirring mining camp of about 2000, the capital of the Territory, now a deserted camp of less than 100 inhabitants. Within one month after their arrival there, the territorial legislature convened, and Mr. Dunlap was appointed as its clerk.
- Inquiry #6---Grandma came to live with us early in 1869 or 1870.
- Inquiry #8--- The second cabin home, I believe, consisted of two ground floor rooms and a loft.
- Yours Truly,
- J. P. Cruikshank
[Pages 38-44 discuss the Harrisons, author Charles Wesley Cruikshank’s mother’s family, and are not transcribed]
John Perkins Cruikshank
Presented by his nephew, Charles Wesley Cruikshank
John Perkins Cruikshank was the youngest of eight children, born to Alexander and Keziah Cruikshank, pioneer settlers of Lee County, Iowa. For sixty-three consecutive years, he has been a resident of Ft. Madison and one of its highly respected leaders, both in politics and affairs of business.
Through the experience of his parents, who were among the first white settlers of Lee County, coming here on March 4th, 1834, the through his intimate personal acquaintance with the Old Settlers of Southeastern Iowa, and through his own immediate contacts with the Court House records and local affairs, he became widely conversant with the early growth of Lee County and was, in all probability, the best informed person in the State in regard to its history and that of the adjacent counties. His interest in such affairs gave him a wide acquaintance and a congenial fellowship of kindred minds that early led to his becoming a life member of the State Historical Society of Iowa, in the promotion of which he took an active interest.
His passing, therefore, is truly significant, for it takes from our midst one of the few remaining personalities whose span of life, supplemented by his paternal associations and his extensive social and business contacts and connections, carry back to the very dawn of the coming of the white settlers into the Black Hawk Purchase, and follow through and embrace so much of what has taken place in Lee County, from the days that the Indians surrendered their beloved hunting ground; west of the Mississippi up to the present time, 1944, a life and a career indeed typical of American civilization and most truly symbolical of those stalwart pioneers that subdued the primeval forests, cultivated the virgin prairies, and made possible our present day civilization.
Mr. Cruikshank was born on June 22, 1852, on the original claim and homestead of his parents in Franklin Township, and, with the exception of three to four years, spent his entire life in Lee County. His long and useful career closed on April 16, 1944, when the angel of death wafted his immortal spirit to the Great Beyond, at the advanced age of 91 years---9 months---and 24 days.
Mr. Cruikshank spent his youth and teen years on his father’s farm and received such elementary education as was then offered in the rural schools. It early became apparent that he had no real interest in the routine of farming. His aircastles were among books, rocks, and the world at large. The compelling urge of innate wanderlust led him twice during his teen years, to leave home, “run away” as it was then termed, to be later reclaimed by anxious parents. In response to the inevitable, through the assistance of his parents and that of his own efforts, he was permitted to attend such higher institutions of learning as were then offered in private schools, and he availed himself of this opportunity through short isolated terms at the following places: P.P. Root at West Point, Howe's Academy at Bonaparte, Prof. Beard's Academy at Pilot Grove, and at Whittier College at Salem, Iowa.
He taught his first rural school at District 5, Franklin Township, better known as the Kile District. In the fall of 1874, he entered the State Normal School at Kirksville, Missouri, where he spent five months with the purpose of better preparing himself for teaching. In 1875, he went to Texas, Grayson County, where certain of his mother’s relatives lived. He was in Texas and Mississippi for about three years, where he taught school, engaged as a land agent, public surveyor, and in the company of a band of cowboys crossed the Rio Grande in pursuit of Mexico cattle thieves. On his return from Texas, he taught the village school at Franklin Center during the fall and winter of 1879-1880. In the fall of 1880 he went to Bannoch, then Montana Territory, where his brother-in-law, Samuel Dunlap, operated a drugstore in which he assisted for about one year. His drugstore experience gave him an urge to study medicine and on his return to Lee County, he attended the Medical College at Keokuk, Iowa, for the year 1881-1882. Pressed for finances with which to continue his medical course, he became a candidate for County Recorder of Lee County, to which office he was elected in the fall of 1882 and in which capacity he served for two consecutive terms. His business experience in the recorder’s office proved very much to his liking, and at the close of his second term he established the “Farm Loan and Abstract Agency”, in which he continued up to the time of his death.
At the time he organized his private business, Fort Madison was passing through the excitement of a “boom”, due to the coming of the Santa Fe railroad, and for a short period he was associated as a partner in the real estate firm of Peters, Mc Cray, and Cruikshank; but he soon found his own private and restricted field more to his tastes, hence the partnership? was dissolved and he again took up his former and more personal occupation, for which he was so well suited, both from the standpoint of training and native judgment. Since that day, the sign of “J.P. Cruikshank, Farm Loans and Abstracts” has un-ostentatiously stood like a kindly landmark-----the symbol of dependability and probity in the business world.
With the assistance of his efficient secretary, Miss Emma Potts, he attracted through his reputation for business acumen and square dealing a splendid clientele, and, at the peak of his prime years, his books showed over a million dollars of money and realty under his direct supervision, much of which was in the nature of a trust, placed in his hands by those who had full confidence in his integrity and judgment. No doubt there were errors in judgment that resulted in mistakes, but never at any time during his many years was there ever a whisper of dishonesty or misappropriation in connection with his many transactions-----truly a record that bespeaks high praise.
For the past several years, due to failing health, he had been unable to give that personal attention to his business that he so much desired; but through the guidance of his trusted secretary and the. business discernment of his son-in-law, Mr. F.H. Meinzer, the affairs of his office and in his name have been successfully continued. Even here, he made frequent visits to his office for consultations; and for
similar purposes to the Lee County Savings Bank, of which firm he has for many years been a member of the board of directors. His passing brings to a close one of the leaders of his community, who, in the words of one of his business associates, "He has stood like a mighty oak amidst the progressive scenes of a changing world.”
In politics, he was a consistent Jeffersonian Democrat, ever loyal to the fundamental principles upon which that party was founded and always ready to give of his time and means in its service. he was ever active in its councils and served on many committees that guided its policies. In addition to his election to the office of county recorder of Lee county, he was, also, honored in the fall of 1899, by being elected to the Lower House of the General Assembly of Iowa, in which capacity he served for two consecutive terms. While his record as a law-maker may not have been outstanding, he rendered acceptable service, unstained by the slightest suspicion of fraud or graft. He sought the position more for the experience that it would bring him than the thought of making "office seeking” a profession.
In religion, like his father, he was not demonstrative nor active in church work; but he possessed a deep sense of reverence for things sacred and never spoke irreverently or slightingly about the church or church members. He sincerely felt that the relation of man to God was a very personal experience, and that it should not be controlled or hedged. about by dogmatic creeds. He truly accepted Christ's Way of Life as the basis of a progressive and humanitarian civilization and as a code of ethics, beautifully summarized in the Golden Rule. He had but little use for an over dramatized religion, or that emotional type that could be put on and off like a coat or a pair of shoes. His religion was one of living and doing, and, with Edgar Guest, he could truly say,
- "I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
- I'd rather one should walk with me than merely show the way.
- For the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creed-------
- To see good done in action is what everybody needs."
In that faith he lived and in that hope he died. His closing years brought no gloomy forebodings of the hereafter; for he had an abiding faith that a merciful God would award immortal souls according to their good or bad deeds in the body, rather than through certain formal and prescribed declamations or ritualistic creeds prescribed by man. While it may not be generally appreciated, Mr. J.P. Cruikshank, in the quiet recesses of his own heart, was deeply reverent and sincerely religious, to which those who knew him best and the following facts will truly testify.
On March 11,1944, J.P. Cruikshank on the confession of faith in the ninety-first year of his life was baptized and joined the Union Presbyterian Church of Fort Madison, Iowa.
The following letter to the writer from Rev. Walter L. Turney, pastor of that church, most vividly gives the facts as they occurred, as it also reflects the sincerity of purpose of the act.
- Fort Madison, June 28, 1944
- Mr. C.W. Cruikshank
- Mr. Pleasant, Iowa
- My dear Mr. Cruikshank:
- In reply to your inquiry of June 22nd as to the steps which led up to the Baptism and reception of your Uncle, Mr. John P. Cruikshank, to full Communion in the Church, let me first say the whole thing came about by his personal invitation.
- For some twelve years occasionally Mr. Cruikshank and I had many very congenial visits and became very close friends, he often called me Pastor Turney, or would say “how is my Pastor today?” At one time or another he would bring up the fact that his father was a Presbyterian and his mother had been a Baptist, and wanted me to know he respected their chosen Churches but could not enter his mother's Church because of a dislike to their mode of Baptism and would say “one of these days I am going to unite with the Church of my Father.”
- Early March of this year Mrs. Meinzer called our home and said her father wanted to be Baptized and received into the Church, and asked that proper arrangements be made to answer his request, I took Elder Fred Fischer with me to represent the Session and I Baptized him March 11, 1944 and received him into the fellowship of the Church.
- At the time he said, “I am satisfied I am old enough to know what I want” and also “I suppose people will think I am a coward to do this because I am soon to die, however this is not so, I do it because I believe a man should, and would have done it long ago if my family had not been divided.” He seemed to have a profound respect for his parents and was very happy in the thought of the coming reunion. The End.
- Sincerely yours,
- Walter L. Turney
June 18, 1889, John Perkins Cruikshank and Martha Lewis Ball were united in marriage, at St, Louis in the home of the bride's parents, Captain Spencer and Martha (nee Spears) Ball. They at once established their residence where for 55 years they have been prominent in both social and business circles. To this marriage, two children were born, who died in infancy and Molly Louise, Mrs. F.H. Meinzer, who with her husband has been living with her parents since it became necessary for Mr. Meinzer to take over the active management of Mr. Cruikshank's business.
Of the old pioneer family Mr. Cruikshank was truly, “The last leaf upon the tree", for his parents and all of his brothers and sisters had preceded him in death, and for several years:
- The mossy marbles rest,
- On lips that he had pressed
- In their bloom,
- And the names he loved to hear
- Have been carved for many a year
- On the tomb.”
But he leaves to mourn his death, his faithful wife and daughter, who have so tenderly and patiently cared for him during his lingering illness; also his many nephews and nieces and their children; a host of friends and business associates that knew and respected him in life.
Due to his almost fatherly interest in them and the further fact that for several years he has been the only connecting link, binding them to the splendid traditions and sacred memories of the other members of the Old Pioneer Family, his many nephews, nieces, and their children have symbolized in him the embodiment of all that is dear and fine in the long line of family relationship, and to them he has ever become most endearingly
To them words can not express all the term implies or fully portray the memories that surround it like a sacred halo, for truly
- “The flowering petals of the mind
- Lose half their fragrance in the speech.”
To them he has become a symbol of that fine relationship that binds human hearts and kindred minds with the compelling ties of mutual trust and respect. During his declining years, they have looked forward to the return of his succeeding birthdays with an anticipated pleasure and his greetings of sincere welcome that they knew awaited them. They have marveled at his even patience and his almost super faculty of enjoying life, even though sorely afflicted. They were never depressed in his presence by the sad image of the "bier and the shroud”, rather were they inspired by his buoyancy of living and meeting his relatives and friends, and were truly cheered by the sincerity of his "glad to see you”, good-byes”, and the ringing admonition, “will look forward to seeing you next year". His foibles, mistakes, and even his faults to which human nature is heir, were dimmed to insignificance in the warmth of salutations which seemed contagious and in that keen interest that he ever seemed to manifest in the welfare of each, even to the youngest of the clan.
Yes, Uncle John, you will be missed, for your passing leaves a void-and undefinable something that can never be replaced. The beautiful flowers that surround your casket are but the emblem of an abiding love in the hearts of those who knew you; and like the fragrance and beauty of the flowers can never die. While we mourn your going, we rejoice in the memories of your long and useful life; and though we can not fully understand, we can not believe “that by chance this world began” and though,
- “No voice is heard, no sign is made,
- No step is on the conscious floor;
- Yet love will dream and Faith will trust
- That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.”
For with Whittier we are inspired to believe
- “The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
- That Life is ever lord of Death,
- And love can ever lose its own.”
Mr. Cruikshank’s closing years were truly beautiful. Though hopelessly afflicted in body, he was patient, considerate of others, and sincerely grateful for the care and attention put forth to meet his needs. He enjoyed the visits of his friend and relatives and was never happier than when reviewing the events and acts of which he had been a part. His memory was a storehouse of knowledge and experiences, and his active mind surveyed the past and planned for the days to come. Thus, to the end he lived, never derepressed by gloomy forebodings of the future. Shakespeare’s “Life fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf" or Bryant’s “The worm, the canker, and the griefs are mine alone" had no appeal to him. Rather he sang with Malloch,
- "As I grow old, it seems l
- Grow old as grows the western sky
- When day is coming to its close.
- The winds of life
- Die down, the hate, the hurt, the strife,
- The waters calm, the waves all still.
- I want no triumph, wish no ill
- To any man. Now from my heart
- The ancient angers all depart.
- New friends I know, new songs are sung,
- New joys are mine------yes, I grow young
- As I grow old.”
When it was evident that the end was near, he quietly met the challenge and without fear and strined by an unfaltering trust in a just, and merciful God, he quietly passed to the Great Beyond, to meet, "those angel faces that he had loved and lost the while."
- ↑ "Andreas' Illustrated Atlas of Lee County, Iowa, 1874," images and partial text
- ↑ "History of Lee County, Iowa, 1879".
- ↑ Andreas' Illustrated Atlas of Lee County, Iowa, 1874
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