Thursday, March 24, 2016

Diary of James Milo Nosler: Introduction, part 2

Continued from Part 1.

James Milo Nosler (1843-1886), my 3rd great uncle who kept a diary for many years, was born in Putnam County, Indiana.  When he was six his parents took him out to Iowa to visit an older brother, and soon after the family moved out to Iowa:

When I was about six years old my parents took me and Will on a visit to Wapello to Iowa to see Wieth and Mary who had married and gone out before and also to look at the country.  
Since James was born in 1843 then the year he is discussing is probably 1849, and likely in the the spring, as the next passage indicates they got back by summer.  William "Will" Nosler (1840-1914) is his brother, my 2nd great grandfather.  Wieth is their oldest brother, Riley Wyatt Nosler (1822-1878), and his first wife Mary? Jane Turner (1822-abt 1850).

James doesn't explain how they traveled from Indiana to Iowa.  It doesn't appear to be by train, at least in Iowa itself, which didn't have railroad until a few years after this trip.  The National Road ran right across Putnam County (between Indianapolis and Terre Haute), so my theory is that the family may have taken that all the way to Vandalia, Illinois, and then from there to the Mississippi on the same road  to St Louis possibly (but not part of the National Road officially which stopped in Vandalia because of lack of funding after the 1837 financial panic).  

Conner Prairie has an overview of transportation in Indiana from 1800 to 1860.

The Historic National Road from Wikipedia, courtesy of Citynoise.  Putnam County is between Terre Haute and Indianapolis.

Or, they could have taken the National Road to Terre Haute, and then taken the Wabash and Erie Canal, and then to the Ohio and then Mississippi?:

From Wikipedia, the Wabash and Erie Canal, courtesy of Charles Edward.

I suspect that Wapello was Ottumwa (which is in Wapello County), and that James and his family may have taken a steamboat from the Mississippi up the Des Moines River.  

From Enchanted Learning.  Jasper County, just east of Des Moines, is where James'  sister Mary Vowell lived with her husband Bird Vowell.

As you can see in the right image, Iowa was only just beginning to be settled, and much of it along the watershed area of the Des Moines River.  From "Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States."

We got back during the summer and the next spring father sold out "root and branch" bound for the West; got through safe enough to Bird Virott [Bird Vowell, 1826-1902] in Jasper Co.  (He is Mary's man [James' sister Mary Ann Nosler, 1829-1904]); stayed there a short time and moved on into about Des Moines thru a little village, Jushapse***, 300 or 400 inhabitants on the Des Moines river.  
I haven't a clue what "Jushapse" was actually called, since the French were in the area it might be a French sounding name, or even a mishearing of a Native American name.  ***EDITED TO ADD: A view of the original writing provided by one of James Milo's direct descendants made me realize that "Jushapse" is just the word "perhaps".  This is yet another lesson to me that it is always important to get as close to the original writing as possible.
After perhaps perambulating around in this country a few days, he [I'm assuming James' father John?] struck a trade. (John [this is likely James' brother John Houston Nosler, 1831-1907, whose descendant John Amos Nosler started the Nosler ammunitions company] was married [to Matilda Farmer, 1832-1897] just before we left Indiana, but had not gone to house keeping yet). 
Father [John Nosler, 1800-1864] bought a good tract of land 5 1/2 miles north of Des Moines on Beaver Creek on which was situated a good saw mill, good house and well, and thought we was at home, but oh what a home it was!  In a few days we all began to feel kind sick, then cold, then we would begin to shake, and finally our teeth began to rattle.  Oh horror of horrors we had the Iowa ague [Ague: Usually malaria but can be any feverish illness with fits of shivering--more on Iowa ague here].  No use now for James Milo to squall; old ague is so miserable.  We were at times all down, but father, but finally we wore it out by the quinine, but it left its mark on me in shape of an ague cake that almost covered one side and did not disappear for weeks.  
In the 1850 John Nosler and family were among the residents in a community in Polk County, and if John was on the same land as he was in the 1852 Iowa census then this was in the area of Jefferson Township, Polk County, Iowa (some history here).  I need to find the land purchase record for this tract of land as I don't have a record of this yet.

Beaver Creek is indicated by the "A", in Jefferson Township, Polk County, Iowa (about 6 miles north from downtown Des Moines).  From on Jefferson Township, Polk, Iowa.

It was in the spring of 1850 when we came to this place, and for the three succeeding years I enjoyed myself, I think better than ever before.  I was a boy and had no cares, surrounded by kind and indulgent friends.  Will and I were continually together, and when I now look back on those days they seem only the shadows of a bright, but receding dawn.  The only thing, I think, that marred that happiness was occasionally spills of the croup, of which I had a mortal fear. 
It was during the winter of '53 that father had a tremendous spell of sickness, and nothing I guess but his strong constitution ever brought him through it.  He had been away busily engaged running the mill ever since he bought it with the exceptions of two or three summers as they came far and near for lumber and ghrists (he had built a ghristmill) and had been working on the water from which he took cold and disease set in.

© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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