Primary Source: "Galland's Iowa Emigrant," by Isaac Galland

Galland's Iowa Emigrant sought to provide a counter-weight to the Notes on Wisconsin Territory; Particularly Pertaining to the Iowa District by Albert Lea. Galland had arrive in Iowa in the late-1820s, and felt that Lea had overstated many positive things about the area that would become Iowa. That is not to say that Galland didn't see a lot of good in the territory, just that he thought some of Lea's observations slid into boosterism to a point that needed to be tempered.


Galland's little book offers a variety of insights into the people, plants, and geographic places of early Iowa. Galland spends a lot of time discussing Indigenous peoples, and provides a notable defense of the rights of Iowa's earliest inhabitants in several places throughout the text. Also of note are descriptions of native flora and fauna, as well as assessment of early agricultural success and failures.


“Dr. Isaac Galland, the author of Galland’s Iowa Emigrant, arrived in what is now Lee County in 1829, four years before permanent settlement began in Iowa. Moreover, Galland lived in Iowa many years before writing his book. By way of contrast, Lieutenant Albert M. Lea spent only a year in the Iowa District before publishing his Notes on the Wisconsin Territory in 1836. John Plumbe, Jr. lived in the Dubuque lead mining area only three years before compiling his Sketches of Iowa and Wisconsin in 1839. Dr. Galland, on the other hand, had sojourned eleven years in the most thickly settled section of Iowa and had in addition lived across the Mississippi in Illinois for several years before writing and publishing his Iowa Emigrant.” (i)


“As a land speculator, Galland apparently played a fast game. He is said to have put his early counterfeiting experience to good us by forging land warrants. Much of his activity centered in the Half-Breed Tract. He may have met or at least corresponded with Francis Scott Key, author of the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ who was then an attorney for a New York company having extensive land interests in Lee County. Key’s decree, dividing the disputed land among one hundred and one claimants, was recognized in one instance in 1850 by the United States Supreme Court. Galland was involved in many quarrels over the disputed claims, vrote voluminously on the subject, and was himself severely indicted in 1850…” ii)


“Although Indians are discussed too fully for a book of this kind, Galland’s Iowa Emigrant answered many questions which the prospective emigrant might raise regarding the Territory of Iowa. The boundaries, history, and general character of the population are treated, and considerable space is devoted to the rivers, lakes, wild game, and fruit of the region. The soil and climate are discussed under these categories. Officers of government, counties, towns, and post offices, land offices and their officers, Indian agencies and military posts are enumerated at the end of the volume. Galland’s Iowa Emigrant is very individualistic, containing much information that was new and useful, and it must have influenced many emigrants to head toward Iowa.” (iv)


“Aware that many publications, having in view, as it would seem, the same object, have already appeared before the public, it might be supposed superfluous to tax the reading community with any thing further on the subject. But when it is recollected, that most of those productions which have appeared in the characters of ‘sketches,’ ‘notes,’ and newspaper paragraphs, are misrepresentations both of the country and the people who inhabit it, the country being generally over-rated, and the progress of improvements greatly extolled, should be deemed a sufficient apology for this work.” (ix)


“It should also be borne in mind, that where the earth is successfully cultivated and plentiful harvests reward the labors of the field, there also will the mechanic, the artizan, the merchant and the learned professor find an ample field for the exercise of their industry, skill, enterprise and science. The privations attendant on settling a new country, are, to many persons, an insurmountable obstacle. To abandon the place of their nativity, and and to forsake forever the society of those with whom they have been associated from infancy to manhood; to exchange the shrill tone of the city bell, for the howling of the wolf or the melancholy hooting of the owl…” (x)


“Among the most prominent obstacles in settling on the frontier, from the earliest period of American history to the present time, has been the fear of a savage foe. We are told that the North American Indians are ‘monsters’ that ‘the only associations connected with the savages are of barbarity and perfidy.’ That ‘they have always been the aggressors.’ ‘The results of the repeated efforts of government to influence these Indians, by measures of kindness and benevolence, will warrant the conclusion, that it is futile to attempt any other course towards them than that of the greatest rigor and severity. The natural district between the white and red man, has at length amounted to an entire want of confidence on both sides; the proneness of the Indians to take the lives of the whites, without regard to sex or condition, whenever it is in their power to do so - form a barrier to the renewal of any good feeling on either side.’ Volumes might be filled with extracts of the above description, which are as illiberal and unjust, as they are cruel and untrue.” (xii)


“While this disregard for national character, in the most dignified body of legislators on the whole face of the earth, is so obviously manifested, we should not be astonished if the brigands of our own and other countries, encouraged by so dignified an example, should practice their profession upon these helpless people, though it should be upon a much smaller scale; such, for instance, as horse stealing, robbing them of the result of their toil, such as meat, skins, &c., and through cowardice, inflict upon the injured Indian a most brutal castigation, with a view of terrifying him from a resort for redress or revenge. The very blankets were stolen from around the dead bodies of Indians in their graves, at the mouth of Rock River, in the celebrated Black Hawk war, and after being washed and smoked, were carried to their homes by white men. The bones of the celebrated chief, Black Hawk, have been stolen from his graveII Thus it seems, that these ill fated people are first to be cheated out of all the products of their country by the traders; then to be robbed of the country itself by the government; and, lastly, as they refuse to be slaves, their bones are destined to become articles of traffic and speculation. Would to Heaven, for the honor of our common country, that this was an exaggerated picture of the facts in the case. But, alas! One thousandth part of the truth is not told, nor can it be at this time. We may smile over our ill-gotten gains, or forfeit with impunity the confidence of a community whom we no longer fear, but sooner or later the oppressor will lie as low as the helpless being upon whm he has trampled. You must first expunge from the breast of the Indian his memory, or you can never gain his confidence.” (xiii-xiv)


“Des Moines: This name was given to this stream by the French traders, and is interpreted ‘The Monks’ River.’ The Indian name, however, is ‘Ke-o-shaw-qua,’ the origin of which they account for, as follows, to wit: They say, that when their ancestors first explored this country, they found, residing on the bank of this river, an old man without family or human companion, and that his name was Ke-o-shaw-qua; hence they called it Keoshawqua’s river. The French seem also to have had a view of the same circumstance, when regarding this lonely inhabitant as a recluse, they named it (La riviere Des Moines) or ‘The river of the Monks.” (7-8)


“It (DMR) is about 400 miles in length, and averages about 300 yards in width. Its head waters interlock with the branches of the St. Peters, and in its course it passes diagonally through the neutral ground, and receiving the Racoon river and many other fine tributary streams, it continues its course through the centre of that district of country, of which the new State of Iowa must soon be formed. Its waters are transparent, and its current swift and shallow; it abounds in fish, and springs of excellent water are in many places found in great profusion along its shores. The bottom lands are not very extensive, except in some places, but they are of a rich alluvial soil, covered generally with a heavy growth of forest trees, such as black and white walnut, hackberry, sugar tree, cherry, locust, mulberry, coffee nut, some buckeye, and all the varieties of oak, &c.” (8)


“Upon the banks of this river are already situated the flourishing towns of St. Francisville, in Missouri, Farmington, Van Buren, Rochester, Lexington, Bentonsport and many others, all now rapidly improving. Its shores are also lined with beautiful farms as high up as to the Indian Agency, above which the white people are not yet permitted to settle.” (8)


“Iron ore and stone coal have been found in abundance in every part of this country where they have been searched for. There is no doubt that lead ore will be discovered in great quantities on the neutral ground, as soon as that district of country is subjected to a proper examination.” (8)


“In passing up the river Des Moines, above the Indian Agency, we are in a district of country which still belongs to the Sauks and Foxes but which it is presumed the United States will soon purchase from them. This tract, together with the neutral ground, is a most desirable section of Iowa, not only on account of the fertility of the soil, the timber, the water power and its mineral productions, but also on account of the centrality of its location, in reference to the contemplated boundaries of a new State.” (9)


“Two sections of land and four mills have been added to their improvements since last year. The mills on Soap creek are calculated to do a fine business, and are so near the settlements that the businesses will be thronged, as it is the only mill for 50 miles that has water to run this summer. Sawing to any amount can be done there, and much lumber is wanted in the adjoining country. The other mill is at the Indian town, though also nearly completed, is not as fortunately situated as to water: I apprehend it will only operate about five or six months in each year.” (14)


“At the Indian towns on the Des Moines, I have had three fields broke up and substantially fenced, and at the desire of the Indians have had 100 bushels of wheat sowed on the farms...I presume the field of 640 acres on the Iowa will be ready for delivery over in 15 or 20 days. When that is completed, the Suaks and Foxes will have four fields broke and fenced, on the Iowa and Des Moines, and be prepared to farm to a considerable extent. These Indians have the most flattering prospects of doing well and living happy.’” (14)


“Wahpaakootas: This ill-fated tribe, from being once warlike and a terror to their enemies, have, since 1813, nearly been exterminated. Many have been cut off by marauding parties of the Sauks and Foxes, besides those who fell in battle. This state of things, in connexion with the small-pox, has left but 325, and they are wending their way to their destiny with rapid strides. This tribe, in conjunction with the South Yanetons of the river Des Moines, once held nearly all the soil comprising the beautiful territory of Iowa. It was taken from them by conquest, by the Sauks and Foxes, and a part of it has now fell into the hands of our Government. Continually harassed by their old enemies, the Sauks and Foxes, they can raise no corn, although they inhabit a beautiful country, from the head waters of the Des Moines to the Cannon rivers, the Mixed Lakes and on the Blue Earth river. Water power abounds in this portion of the country. These people claim an equal right in the famed pipe stone quarry, on the Red Pipe Stone river, with the Susseeton Sioux.” (15)


“The buffalo is found in abundance on Red Pipe Stone, Jacques or James, St. Peters and Red rivers; they continually recede before the white population, and are now only occassionally found on the head waters of the river Des Moines and Lower Iowa.” (18)


“Elk are frequently found much nearer the white settlements, and, occasionally, even in the limits of the present settlements.” (18)


“Deer are not very abundant, being hunted out by the natives; still, however, there are many hundreds of them killed yearly.” (18)


“Bears are scarce, but the Indians succeed every winter in obtaining more or less of these animals, as appears from the skins which they bring to the traders.” (18)


“The Wolf. There are a few of the large black wolves, and some grey, but the most numerous of this class of animals are the Prairie wolf, which is something above the size of the fox. These animals have not yet proved troublesome to any extent to the farmers; and probably never can, as the country is not adapted to their security, against the search of the hunter - having to burrow in the earth, in cretain elevations of the prairie, they are readily found and easily destroyed.” (18)


“Many of those animals which have been so industriously destroyed for their skins, as the beaver, the otter, the musk-rat, the mink, &c., are becoming scarce; the beaver may be said to be almost extinct, while but a few of the otter remain. It is true that the musk-rat abounds in great plenty in some places, and they are said to be found in the greatest abundance about the sources of the Raccoon River.” (19)


“The groves in all this vast region of country, are enlivened with the morning matins and evening vespers of a great variety of singing birds.” (20)


“The wild turkey, which was so abundant on the Ohio in early times, is but rarely found in Iowa: I have, however, seen large flocks of them on the river Des Moines, more frequently than in any other part of the country.” (20)


“The prairie hen obtains in the greatest abundance, and more especially in the vicinity of the white population. Qualis are also numerous, but the pheasant is rarely seen. Swans, geese, brants, and an almost endless variety of ducks are in the greatest abundance along the rivers, upon the lakes, and not infrequently upon the prairies.” (20)


“The crow and the black bird are sufficiently numerous to be at times troublesome to the farmers.” (20)


“Bald eagles are quite common, while the grey eagle is scarcely ever seen. Buzzards and ravens are also frequently seen.” (20)


“The little humming-bird is likewise often seen, examining the flowers for his food.” (20)


“The honey bee is doubtless a native of this region; - they are found in the greatest abundance, as we advance beyond the white population.” (21)


“The earliest fruit, which ripes in the last of May or first of June, is the strawberry. It grows in barren land, or adjoining the timber in prairies, and often on the second bottoms, which are of a sandy soil. This fruit is of an excellent flavor, and in some seasons can be obtained in almost any quantity.” (21)


“Blackberries grow plentifully, in those places where the timber has been either cut down by the hand of man, or where it has been prostrated by hurricanes; these are also a very pleasant berry, but not so delicious as the strawberry.” (21)


“Raspberries are not as plentiful as the foregoing, but they are very common in the country.” (21)


“Gooseberries are in many places in the greatest abundance and of the best quality; they are large and smooth and of an excellent taste.” (21)


“Plums abound in a great variety of size, color and flavor, and grow on trees or bushes in a variety of solid, some of them are of an excellent flavor.” (21)


“Crab apples are found plentifully about the head of water courses in the edges of the prairies, they are very large and make excellent preserves, having a fragrant smell and a fine golden color. Several varieties of hickory nuts, the black walnut, the butter nut, the hazel nut and the pecan, are plenty in many places.” (21)


“Grapes. Both summer and winter grapes, and of several varieties, both in size and flavor are found in the country. Wild cherries, the black haw, the red haw and the paw-paw, are also found here.” (21)


“Cranberries grow in the greatest abundance in the northern parts of this territory, and are obtained from the Indians by the traders in large quantities.” (21)


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