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There is no proper place in history for the element of fiction. In the correct delineation of a landscape the artist judiciously employs both lights and shades; so the historian must need contrast the true and the false, that the eternal beauty and symmetry of truth appear, but draw upon the imagination, he may never. As in the landscape, the true outline of objects is obscured in the shadows, requiring the full blaze of day to bring them into proper view, so history brings out the facts partially obscured in the haze of tradition-itself never history.
The history of the growth of any branch of knowledge has a double interest; that which comes to it from the knowledge itself, and that which comes from its relations to the history of the operation of the human mind. Men think under the limitations of their times; they reason on such material as they have; they form their estimate of changes from the facts immediately known to them. What Matthew Arnold has written of man's thoughts, as he floats adown the “River of Time,” is most true. Says he :
“ As is the world on the banks,
So is the mind of man.
Impressions thus received, the mind will modify and work upon, transmitting the products to other minds in shapes that often seem new, strange and arbitrary, but which yet result from processes familiar to our experience, and to be found at work in our own individual consciousness. And this is the necessity that renders history, as entirely distinct from tradition, imperative. Here the province of the historian begins. It is imperative on him that he record facts as they are, freed from the gloss given them by verbal transmissions.
Lucas county ranks among the first in political influence, and is not behind in the intelligence of its people and its jealous regard for education; its material resources are practically unlimited, and the promise for its future ever brightening. Now, to clearly understand this happy present, its glories and its greatness, its opportunities and its wonders, it is our duty to look back to their sources. We shall find that the seeds which have so auspiciously borne fruit in this present generation, were sown by men tried and true; men who deserve to be remembered, not merely as historic names, but as men in whose broad breasts beat the noblest hearts, and within whose rustic homes were to be found the very bone and sinew of this Western world; men whose sterling worth and integrity have contributed very largely to its present high position.
The whole history of this county is one of surpassing interest, and the more it is studied the clearer does it become that underlying its records are certain truths, which afford a clew to the causes that have contributed so powerfully to bring it to its present marked prominence. They will be found identical with those which have influenced the history of the nations during many centuries. To narrate these facts is the object of these pages; with what success this has been done, we do not presume to say. It has been our aim to learn and present the truth, without favor or prejudice.
It has heretofore been possible for the scholar, with leisure and a comprehensive library, to trace out the written history of his county by patient research among voluminous government documents and dusty records, sometimes old and scarce; but these sources of information, and the time to study them, are not at the command of most of those who are intelligently interested in local history; and there are many unpublished facts to be rescued from the failing memories of the oldest residents, who would soon have carried their information with them to the grave; and others to be obtained from the citizens best informed in regard to the various present interests and institutions of the county, which should be treated of in giving its history. This service of research and record, which very few could have undertaken for themselves, the publishers of this work have performed. While a few unimportant mistakes may, perhaps, be found in such a multitude of details, in spite of the care exercised in the production of the volume, they still confidently present this result of many weeks' labor, as a true and orderly narration of all the events in the history of the county which were of sufficient interest and value to merit such a record.
Authenticity is always difficult in history. Much passes for history which is mere anecdote, and thát domain is always doubtful. Other facts, again, come to us through the prejudice and colours of personal narration. Great care has, therefore, been necessary to prevent publishing misconceptions as history. There has been admitted no statement of fact without ample authority, and mentioned not even the slightest incident without the support of creditable testimony. Attention is called to one feature, considered of special value—the introduction of the original records for all transactions directly affecting the interests of the county. Concerning the first records and the facts they teach, little or nothing need be said. Of this period in the county's history there have been explored for evidence, every known early document, and, where not mutilated, they have been presented in full. If, among the pages devoted to early settlers and settlements, the sentences seem short and broken, and the method of treatment faulty, it should be borne in mind that the nature of the data renders any other method of presentment impossible. Accuracy, rather than finish, has been the object held steadily in view.
In the preparation of this volume, the oldest residents and others have cheerfully volunteered their services in the undertaking, adding largely to the value of the results obtained. Special thanks are due to the following named persons, who have not only aided us by placing at our disposition much valuable matter, but have themselves devoted much time to searching records, and afforded every opportunity in their power to perfect the chronological sequence and accuracy of the data used: Moses Folsom, S. F. Stewart, D. D. Waynick, Doctor W. W. Waynick, J. Lee Brown, county auditor; Richard Reed, county recorder; W. K. Larimer, clerk of courts; Elijah Lewis, county treasurer; George H. Ragsdale, proprietor of the Chariton Patriot; Branner & Best, proprietors of the Chariton Leader; Colonel Warren S. Dungan, I. N. Elliott, J. M. Hanlin, county superintendent of schools; N. B. Gardner, Esq., Hon. S. H. Mallory, Joseph Braden, G. J. Stewart, M. J. Burr, and other old settlers in the various townships of the county. Throughout the county are many impossible to name here, who have freely given what of history they had. The clergy and other church officers, and those of civic associations, have been universally obliging in placing at our command the needed statistics of their several societies.
Under the sway of cause and effect, historic events cannot stand alone; they form an unbroken chain. This history of so limited a territory as a county in Iowa, has its roots not only in remote times, but in distant lands, and cannot be justly written out without consulting the influence of such a foreign element; nor can such a county history be understood in all its relations, without a historic review of at least the state of which the county is a part; hence, we feel that in giving such an outline we have been more faithful to the main purpose of the work, while we have added an element of independent interest and value. We little doubt that this book will be a welcome one to the inhabitants of the county, for all take a just pride in whatever calls to mind the scenes and incidents of other days. It is presented in the belief that the work done will meet with the heartiest approval of our readers; and if, through that commendation, it awakens an earnest spirit of enterprise and emulation among the younger citizens of the county, it will be a source of just pleasure and congratulation to