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Full text of "Contributions of Albert Miller Lea to the literature of Iowa history"

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CONTRIBUTIONS OF ALBERT MILLER LEA 
TO THE LITERATURE OF IOWA HISTORY 



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1 



THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF ALBERT MILLER LEA 
TO THE LITERATURE OF IOWA HISTORY^ 

[This essay was awarded the seventy-five dollar prize offered in 1909 by the 
Iowa Society of the Colonial Dames of America for the best essay in Iowa 
history. The essay ha» been revised for publication. — Editoe.] 

The contributions of Albert Miller Lea to the literature 
of Iowa history are neither voluminous nor critical. They 
consist chiefly of a small book of forty-five pages, two maps, 
and two reports ; but, having been written during the forma- 
tive period of beginnings, they have an historical impor- 
tance which is out of proportion to their critical character. 
The little book gave the State its name ; the reports were 
the bases of legislation and large appropriations by Con- 
gress ; and the maps served as guides to settlers for a long 
period of years. 

Albert Miller Lea was a Lieutenant in the United States 
Army and an accomplished civil engineer — a man of varied 
attainments and remarkable foresight. He was born in 
1807 at Lea Springs — a place not far distant from Knox- 
ville, Tennessee. His father was a merchant who at one 
time held the position of Register of the Land Office in the 
State of Franklin f and his mother was one Clara Wisdom, 
who is described by her son Albert as a ''wise and prudent" 
woman. 

1 The writer desires to express his thanks to Professor Benj. F. Shambaugh 
for the assistance and helpful suggestions given in the preparation of this 
essay, to Mr. A. N. Harbert of Cedar Kapids for the use of his materials relat- 
ing to Albert M. Lea, and to Dr. Louis Pelzer and Mr. Kenneth Colgrove for 
kindly reading and criticising the essay. 

2 loiva Historical Eecord, Vol. VIII, No. 1, January, 1892, p. 201. 

Lea also describes his father as "positive, dictatorial, domineering, and 
sagacious. ' ' 



The early education of Lieutenant Lea was received in 
the common schools of Knoxville. Later he entered college, 
and was within one session of graduation when he was com- 
pelled to give up his studies on account of poor health. 
Within a year, however, he had regained his health and in 
1827 received an appointment to the Military Academy at 
West Point.3 Four years later, on July 1, 1831, Lieutenant 
Lea graduated from this institution (ranking fifth in a class 
of thirty-seven) and was assigned, after a short furlough,, 
to the United States Army.* 

The commission to the Military Academy proved to be 
the turning point in Lea's career; for instead of becoming 
a planter and land owner, as did many of his associates, 
he entered the army, came west, and directed several large 
engineering undertakings,^ giving the best part of his life 
in the service of the Government. The three years follow- 
ing his graduation were spent in going from one part of the 
country to another on various topographical and scientific 

3 Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. VIII, No. 1, January, 1892, pp. 201, 202. 
Lea received this appointment from Senator H. L. White, who was a com- 
petitor of Martin Van Buren in 1836. 

4 Letter to Senator Wm, B. Allison from the Eecord and Pension Office,, 
January 15, 1904. 

"Albert MiUer Lea was a cadet at the United States Military Academy 
from July 1, 1827, to July 1, 1831, when he was graduated and appointed 
brevet 2nd Lieutenant of Artillery. He was transferred to the 7th Infantry 
August 11, 1831, and was promoted 2nd Lieutenant March 4, 1833; was. 
appointed 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Dragoons, July 1, 1834, to rank from March 
4, 1833, and his resignation was accepted to take effect May 31, 1836." 

Lea was on leave of absence from February 1, 1836, to the date of his 
resignation. This letter is in the collection of Mr. A. N. Harbert of Cedar 
Eapids, Iowa. 

B Among the engineering services performed were the following: 

A. Drew plans for first locomotive ever constructed by the Baldwins. 

B. Famou« survey of the B. & O. R. E. where a cut was constructed by the 
use of geologic bedding. 

C. Surv-ey of the Tennessee Eiver. 

See Iowa Historical Record, Vol. VIII, No. 1, January, 1892, for a complete 
list. 



■duties.^ This kind of work, which carried him from the 
Great Lakes to the Gulf and from Oklahoma to the moun- 
tains of Tennessee, gave him a vast amount of valuable 
information concerning the pioneers and the West. Finally, 
however, he was ordered for a second time to Fort Gibson,"^ 
there to attach himself to the First United States Dragoons 
— a regiment formed at the close of the Black Hawk War. 

Upon his arrival at Fort Gibson in the autumn of 1834, 
Lea was ordered by Colonel Henry Dodge to a point near 
the present site of Bellevue, Nebraska, to pay the Indians 
a certain amount of merchandise which was due them.® 

"When he had completed this task he returned to Fort Gib- 
son only to find that his company, with two others, was lo- 
cated at a new post^ on the Upper Mississippi, hundreds of 
miles away. He immediately set out to join his command, 
taking the last boat of the season going north from St. 
Louis, and in a few days reached the town of Keokuk. The 
present prosperous city was then only "a substantial stone 
building, used as a trading station, the only house on the 
west bank for many miles below and three hundred miles 
above. "^° This was Lea's first view of the country to 
which, within two years, he was to give the name ''Iowa". 
A few days later he reported at Fort Des Moines, near the 
present town of Montrose, where he took charge of his 
company. 

On the 9th of March, 1835, orders^ ^ were received by 

6 Iowa Historical Eecord, Vol. VIII, No. 1, January, 1892, p. 202. 

7 Lieutenant Lea first reported at Fort Gibson in 1832. — See Iowa Historical 
Hecord, Vol. VIII, No. 1, January, 1892, pp. 200-205. 

8 For a full account, see an article entitled Early Explorations in Iowa in the 
Iowa Historical Eecord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 538. 

8 This new post was Fort Des Moines No. 1. — See Annals of Iowa, Third 
Series, Vol. Ill, Nos. 5-6, April-July, 1898, p. 351. 

10 Iowa Historical Eecord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 541. 

11 Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. Ill, Nos. 5-6, April-July, 1898, p. 355. 



Lieutenant Colonel Kearney to proceed with Ms command 
up the Des Moines Eiver to a certain point near the Rac- 
coon Forks and from there in a northeasterly direction to 
the Mississippi. From the latter place the command was 
to march westward until the Des Moines River was again 
reached, when a return should be made to Fort Des Moines. 
Accordingly, on June 7, 1835, the troop, consisting of about 
150 mounted men, started on the march for the purposes 
of exploration and of impressing the Indians with the power 
of the United States government.^ ^ j^ ^^s on this expedi- 
tion that Lieutenant Lea ''voluntarily assumed the duties 
of topographer and chronicler" ;^^ and to this fact we owe 
many fine descriptions of the original condition of the Iowa 
prairies as well as the Notes on Wisconsin Territory. 

The line of march followed as nearly as possible the 
divide between the Des Moines and Skunk rivers. Being in 
the springtime, the ground was still very wet and soft, ow- 
ing to the excessive rainfall. The troop proceeded slowly, 
covering only from fifteen to twenty miles a day.^^ But 
with the single discomfort of excessive rainfall, it was an 
ideal time of the year to make the trip, as the weather in 
other respects was favorable to both men and horses. The 
scenery, too, was magnificent; and Lieutenant Lea wrote 
that "the grass and streams were beautiful and strawber- 
ries so abundant as to make the whole tract red for miles ".^^ 
Game was also plentiful, and wild fowl was a part of nearly 
every meal. At a place near the present site of the city of 
Oskaloosa "a small herd of buffalo "^^ was encountered. 

12 Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. Ill, Nos. 5-6, April-July, 1898, p. 355. 
T-slowa Historical Eecord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 546 
^*Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 547. 
16 Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 547. 
18 Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 548. 



Concerning this incident Lieutenant Lea wrote : * ' It was the 
first and only time I have seen the lordly beast in his home, 
and probably the last time he appeared in that region. "^'^ 
The various pests were in evidence then as now, for at one 
place Lea declares that ''after my tent was pitched we 
killed four rattlesnakes within it, and the next day I had 
a bath in a pool, occupied by mosquitos so large that I 
pressed one in my journal, and carried for years as a 
specimen of the luxuriant growth of the plains. ' ' ^^ 

When the expedition had proceeded as far as the place 
where Boone is now located, the order was given to march 
in a northeasterly direction to the Mississippi,^® where a 
steamboat with fresh supplies awaited their arrival. After 
a rest of a few days on the banks of the Mississippi near 
Lake Pepin in Minnesota, the march was again taken up, 
this time directly westward to the district of the lakes of 
Minnesota. One of these. Lake Albert Lea,^*^ perpetuates 
the name of the Lieutenant. This region was one ''of 
lakes and open groves of oak, beautiful as English parks"; 
and when writing of it in later years Lieutenant Lea de- 

i'' This same incident is mentioned in a journal of this march in the follow- 
ing words: 

' ' [Wednesday, June the Twenty-Fourth] 

24 Marched 25 miles & encamped on the banks of the Iway a small 
stream 30 yards broad. This day for the first this season we saw Buffalo. 
Killed 5 or 6 — many of our men are recruits from the North & never saw 
a Buffalo before & therefore to them a Buffalo chase was something remark- 
able. This day was spent in eating Buffalo beef & sleep. ' ' — The Iowa Jotje- 
NAL OF HisTOEY AND POLITICS, Vol. VII, No. 3, July, 1909, p. 368. 

18 Iowa Historical Record, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 548. 

19 Iowa Historical Record, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 548. 

Near the present site of Boone the troop camped "one night near a flint 
and gravel covered conical peak, sixty feet above the plain". This is easily 
found to-day, a short way south of Boone. 

20 This lake was named by Mr. J. N. Nicollet, a surveyor, and also a friend 
of Lea. — See Executive Documents, Document No. 52, 2nd Session, 28th Con- 
gress, Vol. II, p. 73. Also Iowa Historical Record, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 
1890, p. 549. 



8 

clared, that ''Possibly, some day, I may again ride over that 
trail ; and I might well wish that my freed spirit could leave 
this green earth with the impression made just fifty-five 
years ago, as I gazed and sketched, when halted for our 
noon rest on the shaded and grassy shore of Lake Albert 
Lea. "21 Finally, the Des Moines headwaters were reached 
and the march turned southward, entering the present State 
in the neighborhood of Swea City.^^ 

By slow degrees the troop made its way to the Raccoon 
Forks,^^ near a place where the capital of Iowa is now lo- 
cated, but which at that time was simply "a grassy and 
spongy meadow with a bubbling spring in the midst. ' '^^ At 
this place, too, Lieutenant Lea was ordered to descend the 
Des Moines River in a canoe,^^ to take soundings, and to 
report upon the practicability of navigating keel boats over 
its course. This proved to be a very arduous task; but 
Lieutenant Lea reached the Fort several days before the 
main body of troops, who returned leisurely by land in the 
latter part of August.-^ 

After writing his report upon the Des Moines River, 
Lieutenant Lea resigned from the army and hastened to 
Baltimore where he published the Notes on Wisconsin Ter- 
ritory. Two years later, in 1838, he again came to the Iowa 

21 Iowa Historical Eecord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 549. 

22 The exact location can not be definitely stated. The route was on the 
west side of the river in this locality. 

23 A journal, kept during this campaign, may be found in The Iowa Journal 
OF History and Politics, Vol. VII, No. 3, July, 1909, p. 331. 

24 Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 549. 

25 Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 550 ; Annals of 
Iowa, Third Series, Vol. Ill, p. 356, also an article by General Parrott on p. 374. 

In a letter to Hon. T. S. Parvin, written April 4, 1890, Lieutenant Lea says: 
"I made a survey, in a canoe, of Des Moines river, from Rac[c]oon down, in 
1835." 

26 See map in Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory. 



country as the United States Commissioner to determine 
the boundary between the State of Missouri and the Terri- 
tory of Iowa.2^ When this task was completed Lieutenant 
Lea entered the employ of large corporations in the capacity 
of chief engineer.28 At the outbreak of the Civil War he 
followed his old friend Robert E. Lee into the Confederacy, 
where he completed four years of active service.^^ When 
peace was eventually declared, he was practically ruined 
financially; and in this condition he sought a new country, 
moving to Corsicana, Texas, where he lived until his death 
in 1890. 

The contributions of Albert M. Lea to the literature of 
Iowa history are based upon his two trips to the Iowa 
country: (1) the march of the Dragoons in 1835; and (2) 
his work as a member of the boundary commission of 1838. 
Upon both occasions Lieutenant Lea left a report and a 
map ; and these occupy a prominent place in the earliest lit- 
erature of the Commonwealth. 

THE EEPORT ON THE DES MOINES RIVER - 

The first of Lea's contributions in point of time is the 
Report on the Des Moines River which was made in 1835. 
Upon arriving at Fort Des Moines after the campaign with 
the Dragoons, Lieutenant Lea made a comprehensive re- 
port which included, besides the general conclusions, all the 
soundings, measurements, and notes of important features 

2T Executive Documents, House Document No. 38, 3rd Session, 27th Con- 
gress. This document is also found in the Iowa Historical Record, Vol. II, No. 
1, January, 1886, p. 193. 

28 Lieutenant Lea was for a number of years City Engineer of Knoxville, 
Tennessee, and later of Galveston, Texas. — See Lea's Autobiography in Iowa 
Historical Eecord, Vol. VIII, No. 1, January, 1892, p. 200. 

29 The best account of this period of Lieutenant Lea 's life is found under 
the title of Colonel Lea's Reminiscences, a series of articles published in The 
Freeborn County Standard, of Albert Lea, Minnesota, from January to May, 
1890. 



10 

from the Raccoon to the Mississippi. Unfortunately this 
report, which was written in 1835 (and which was the first 
contribution relating to Iowa penned by Lea) can not be 
found. It seems to have been used as a basis for legisla- 
tion ; for in speaking of the report its author says : * ' The 
manuscript was published by Congress in 1835-6 without 
the map, and the original is in Adjutant-General's office. 
It was the foundation of all the appropriations for Des 
Moines under the care of my classmate, Sam E. Curtis. "^° 
The evidence of the commanding officer also states that the 
report was actually transmitted; for in the order book of 
Lieutenant- Colonel Kearney we find this statement: ''I 
send you his [Lea's] report. "^^ 

Despite this seemingly conclusive evidence of its existence, 
the document, which related to the Des Moines River, its 
characteristics, its commercial and economic value, has not 
been located either in the records of the War Department^ ^ 
or among the papers of the office of the Adjutant-Greneral 
of the State of lowa.^^ Its historical importance can not, 
therefore, be estimated. 

It was in connection with this report that Lieutenant Lea 
drew a map which was used, with some changes, in his Notes 
on Wisconsin Territory. In speaking of the making of this 

30 Letter written on April 4, 1890, by Albert M. Lea to Honorable T. S. 
Parvin. 

31 Order of Lieutenant-Oolonel Kearney. — Found in an article prepared by 
the War Department for Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. Ill, p. 356. 

32 Letter from War Department, December 3, 1908. 

"The report made by Lieutenant Albert M. Lea, of the 1st U. S. Dragoons,, 
in 1835, relative to the Des Moines river is not found in the Department." 
Also a letter from the War Department to W. B. Allison on August 23, 1904: 
"An exhaustive examination of the records on file in this office has resulted 
in failure to find any report made by Albert M. Lea. ' ' 

33 Letter written to A. N. Harbert by Adjutant-General M. H. Byers on 
July 20, 1901 : ' ' There are no reports from him [A. M. Lea] on file and in- 
deed his name is not found on any papers on file. ' ' 



11 

map Lieutenant Lea says: ''Without delay, I mapped the 
river and wrote a report on its character and capabilities, 
which was forwarded to the Adjutant-General ; and then it 
occurred to me that I could get an outline of the region be- 
tween the Mississippi and Missouri, and by filling it in 
with my sketches, the whole route having been carefully 
meandered, as I did the river, I could make a map that 
would interest the public, gain me some reputation and per- 
haps a little money. ' ' When the map was finished, however, 
the post commander. Lieutenant Colonel Kearney, sent for 
it and even refused its maker a copy. The next year, after 
much difficulty. Lieutenant Lea obtained a copy of his map 
from the proper officials in Washington and had it litho- 
graphed for the Notes on Wisconsin Territory. ^'^ 

NOTES ON WISCONSIN TEKEITOKY 

The second and perhaps the most important of Lea's 
contributions to the literature of Iowa history is the Notes 
on Wisconsin Territory — a small book of forty-five pages. 
When in 1836 Lieutenant Lea returned to Baltimore from 
his campaign with the Dragoons so many inquiries for in- 
formation concerning the western country were addressed 
to him^5 that he decided to write a concise and accurate 
account of the land to which so many immigrants were 
bound and over which the Dragoons had made their march. 

Such a task was an easy undertaking for Lieutenant Lea, 
since he had secured much information of the West during 
his travels and his services with the army. The demand, 
too, for a book of this kind promised to be large, as hun- 
dreds of settlers were flocking to the western country. Ac- 
cordingly, Lea wrote an account of the region which was 

^* Early Explorations in Iowa in the Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. V, No. 
4, October, 1890, p. 550. 

35 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, the preface. 



12 

then a part of the original Territory of Wisconsin and lying 
west of the Mississippi River. 

When this was finished the author went to Washington, 
D. C, where, after much persuasion he managed to secure 
a copy of the map which has been described above and 
which had been made at the close of the march in the year 
1835. The map and manuscript were then taken to Phila- 
delphia where the book was published. Lea later described 
the publication of this valuable book in this manner ; — ' ' One 
thousand copies with the map were put up by my friend, 
H. S. Tanner, to whom I paid thirty-seven and a half cents 
per copy, and put them on sale at a dollar. Being quite 
ignorant of the book trade I assumed the sales myself, sent 
a few copies by mail, and five hundred in a trunk as freight 
to Arthur Bridgman of Burlington, an accomplished mer- 
chant. The last I heard of them was on a little steamboat 
stranded on a sandbank in the Ohio."^^ The book indeed 
is quite rare, and less than a score of copies are known to be 
in existence.^'^ 

The book is small, three and a half by six inches, bound 
in pale blue board cover, and contains, besides a map of the 
•country described, forty-five finely printed pages. The full 
title of this interesting little contribution is Notes On The 
Wisconsin Territory; particularly with reference to the 
Iowa District or Black Hawk Purchase. It was written, as 
the author declares in the preface, ''to place within the 
reach of the public, correct information in regard to a very 

86 Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 552. 

87 A partial list of the owners of these books is the following : L. A. Brewer, 
Cedar Eapids; T. J. Fitzpatrick, Iowa City; Mr. Blair, Kossuth; The Masonic 
Library, Cedar Rapids; The Davenport Academy of Science, Davenport; His- 
torical Department of Iowa, Des Moines; State Historical Society, Iowa City; 
and A. N. Harbert, Cedar Rapids. 

Mr. Earl Swem, Assistant State Librarian of Richmond, Virginia, can fur- 
nish a complete list of the owners of copies of this book. 



13 

interesting portion of the Western Country ".^^ The con- 
tents, too, are confined to subjects which would interest "the 
emigrant, the speculator, and the legislator. "^^ A more 
complete work was planned, but the author never had the 
inclination nor the desire to finish it.^^ 

The Notes on Wisconsin Territory consists of three 
general chapters or divisions. The first division gives a 
general description of the country ; the second part explains 
the water courses, the local divisions, and the form of gov- 
ernment ; while in the last chapter the reader finds a descrip- 
tion of the various towns, landings, and roads. 

The country to which the author limited himself was a 
part of the original Territory of Wisconsin which he chose 
to call the "Iowa District" — a strip of land "about 190 
miles in length, 50 miles wide near each end, and 40 miles 
wide near the middle opposite to Eock Island; and would 
make a parallelogram of 180 by 50 miles equivalent to 9000 
square miles. "*^ This strip of country had been practically 
unsettled before the year 1832, being alternately in the pos- 
session of various tribes of Indians, but chiefly of the Sacs 
and Foxes. At the close of the Black Hawk War in 1832 this 
country was obtained from the Indians and the date of the 
latter 's removal placed at June 1, 1833. The treaty of 
cession was made at Davenport, General Scott being the 
chief negotiator on the part of the United States.^" As a 
result the ceded area was popularly known as "Scott's Pur- 
chase" or, later, as the "Black Hawk Purchase". 

The treaty was barely signed when several families and 
miners, who had been hovering on the east bank of the 

38 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, the preface. 

39 Lea 's Notes on JVisconsi7i Territory, the preface. 

40 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, the preface. 

41 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, Chap. I, p. 8. 

*2 Salter's Iowa: The First Free State in the Louisiana Purchase, p. 155. 



14 

Mississippi, crossed over and established themselves on the 
choicest parts of the District; but these people ''were dis- 
possessed by order of government ".^^ Nevertheless many 
white families remained and some even went so far as to 
put in crops.^^ 

The climate of the Iowa District is first described, the dif- 
ferent seasons and their varying aspects beautifully pic- 
tured. The winds were of especial importance in the opinion 
of the author, being as fresh and bracing as the sea-breezes 
and very much less chilling. "The prevailing winds", he 
writes, "are from the southwest. I have known the wind 
at Kock Island, to remain constant in that quarter for three 
weeks successively".^^ The salubriousness of the climate 
was variable according to the locality. Lea thought that 
from the mouth of the Des Moines until the great bend of 
the Mississippi was reached there was liable to be much 
fever; but from Rock Island northward he knew of no 
healthier place in the world. 

The descriptions of the various seasons furnish one of 
the most interesting parts of the book, and also an oppor- 
tunity for comparison with the seasons of the present day. 
As a proof that winter is not changing to any appreciable 
extent, the description by Lieutenant Lea, written seventy- 
three years ago, may be cited. ''The Winter", he declares, 
"is generally dry, cold, and bracing; the waters are all 
bridged with ice; the snow is frequently deep enough to 
afford good sleighing."^® 

Spring was the least desirable of any of the seasons, being 
"a succession of rains, blows, and chills." The same char- 
acteristics were in evidence then as now, for Lea writes 

43 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 8. 

** Shambaugh 's History of the Constitutions of Iowa, p. 38. 

45 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 8. 

46 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 9. 



15 

that * * We have no gradual gliding from cold to warm ; it is 
snowy — then stormy — then balmy and delightful."'*'^ 

Summer was a season in which all the conditions were 
favorable to a rapid growth of vegetation. The appear- 
ance of the country during this season was very beautiful, 
as all the grasses and flowers grew luxuriantly. 

Autumn, however, was described by Lieutenant Lea as 
being ''the most delightful of all the seasons of the year." 
His description of this season, written in 1836, would apply 
to-day with equal truthfulness. "The heat of the summer 
is over by the middle of August ; and from that time till De- 
cember, we have almost one continuous succession of bright 
clear delightful sunny days. Nothing can exceed the beauty 
of Summer and Autumn in this country, where, on one hand, 
we have the expansive prairie strewed with flowers still 
growing; and on the other, the forests which skirt it, pre- 
senting all the varieties of colour incident to the fading 
foliage of a thousand different trees."** 

The soil and the character of the country are presented 
in detail, and the writer gives his opinions as to the best 
crops for the various soils. Indian corn, he believes, was 
*' peculiarly adapted" to the low lands of this district. 

''The general appearance of the country", declares Lea, 
"is one of great beauty. It may be represented as one 
grand rolling prairie, along one side of which flows the 
mightiest river in the world and through which numerous 
navigable streams pursue their devious way to the ocean ".^^ 
In another place this same area is claimed by the author to 
be superior, all things considered, to any other part of the 
United States.^^ 

47 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 9. 

■*8 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 10. 

49 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 11. 

60 Lea 'a Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 12. 



16 

The distribution of timber, water, and prairie was one of 
the unique features of this District. The beauty of the 
country seemed to have charmed Lieutenant Lea, for at the 
close of his description of its general appearance he writes : 

Could I present to the mind of the reader that view of this 
country that is now before my eyes, he would not deem my assertion 
unfounded. He would see the broad Mississippi with its ten thou- 
sand islands, flowing gently and lingeringly along one entire side 
of this District, as if in regret at leaving so delightful a region ; he 
would see half a dozen navigable rivers taking their sources in 
distant regions, and gradually accumulating their waters as they 
glide steadily along through this favoured region to pay their 
tribute to the great "Father of Waters"; he would see innumer- 
able creeks and rivulets meandering through rich pasturages, where 
now the domestic ox has taken the place of the untamed bison ; he 
would see here and there neat groves of oak, and elm, and walnut, 
half shading half concealing beautiful little lakes that mirror back 
their waiving branches; he would see neat looking prairies of two 
or three miles in extent, and apparently enclosed by woods on all 
sides, and along the borders of which are ranged the neat hewed 
log cabins of the emigrants with their fields stretching far into the 
prairies, where their herds are luxuriating on the native grass; 
he would see villages springing up, as by magic, along the banks 
of the rivers, and even far into the interior ; and he would see the 
swift moving steam-boats, as they ply up and down the Mississippi, 
to supply the wants of the settlers, to take away their surplus pro- 
duce, or to bring an accesion to this growing population, anxious 
to participate in the enjoyment of nature's bounties, here so liber- 
ally dispensed. ^^ 

The mineral resources were described as abundant, com- 
prising coal, lead, limestone, zinc, and clay. Lea believed 
these were the greatest assets of the country. The chief 
mineral wealth at that time, however, was in the lead indus- 
try which was in a thriving condition in and near Dubuque. 
''Here", writes Lea, ''are capital, western enterprise, for- 

81 Lea 'a Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 12. 



17 

eign experience, and Yankee ingenuity combined ; and they 
have brought to their assistance the powers of both water 
and steam. The smelting establishments have recently 
been much improved and are now conducted with scientific 
accuracy, yielding seventy or eighty per cent of lead from 
the native sulphuret."^- 

The larger game was rapidly beginning to disappear 
when this book was written, but the writer mentions deer, 
''some bear", and buffalo. The wild turkey, grouse and the 
wild duck were the most numerous of the wild fowls ; and 
fish of all varieties were found in the numerous rivers. 
Spearing the fish in the rapids was a favorite sport and 
large strings of pike, pickerel, catfish, and trout were to be 
had. 

Agricultural products, being least in importance at this 
time, are only briefly mentioned. The chief product then, 
as now, was corn or maize, of which the yellow varieties 
were considered the most certain and produced from forty 
to seventy-five bushels per acre. Wheat and oats were very 
easily grown, the latter usually yielding from ''sixty to 
seventy-five bushels per acre."^^ Potatoes, too, were one 
of the most important crops of the period. The stock-rais- 
ing industry was still unknown, and Lea predicted that 
"The growing of stock of various kinds will doubtless be 
extensively pursued, as few countries afford more facilities 
for such purposes "^^ — a prophecy which has been abun- 
dantly fulfilled. 

Lea estimated that the population in 1835 was sixteen 
thousand, representing every State in the Union. No 
higher compliment could have been paid them than the one 
given in the Notes on Wisconsin Territory. "The char- 

52 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 41. 

53 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 13. 

54 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 13. 



18 

acter of this population is such", says the author, ''as is 
rarely found in our newly acquired Territories. With very 
few exceptions there is not a more orderly, industrious, ac- 
tive, painstaking population west of the Alleghanies, than is 
this in the Iowa District. . . . For intelligence, I boldly 
assert that they are not surpassed, as a body, by an equal 
number of citizens of any country in the world ".^^ Even 
in the mining camps very little disorder was found, and 
"the District is forever free from slavery "^"^ — a condition 
which was a blessing in the judgment of the author. 

"The trade of the District", writes Lea, "is confined al- 
most entirely to the grand thorough-fare of the Mississippi". 
There were ten or twelve steamboats which carried the lead 
and farm products to St. Louis, which was the only market 
of any importance. It took three or four days for one of 
these boats to run from St. Louis to the Lead Mines and as 
a consequence there was a boat each way daily. The rail- 
road was several hundred miles from Iowa at this time but 
we are told that a railroad was being pushed westward from 
New York along "the southern shore of Lake Erie" to Chi- 
cago and thence to the Mississippi. "This work", writes 
Lea, "would place the center of the Iowa District within 
sixty hours of the city of New York ; and if any of the ' down- 
easters' think this project chimerical, let them take a tour 
of a few weeks to the Upper Mississippi, and they will 
agree with me, that it is already demanded by the interests 
of the country. ' '^'^ 

To the student of Iowa history the Notes on Wisconsin 
Territory is also interesting since it gives the first unofficial 
account of the organization of the District, which in 1835 
was composed of the two counties of Dubuque and Demoine. 

55 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 14. 

56 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 14. 
67 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 17. 



19 

At the time of the writing of the book the government of 
the District was in disorder. The Territory of Michigan 
had assumed the form of a State government ; and the Ter- 
ritory of Wisconsin, to which the Iowa District was later 
attached, was not yet formed. The Claim Association, 
too,^^ which was an extra-legal institution, is described by 
the author as an organization made by the people of the 
District who ''have entered into an agreement to support 
each other in their claims against any unjust action of the 
government or against any attempt at improper speculation 
by capitalists at a distance. And those who know the po- 
tency of such leagues will feel perfectly assured, that what- 
ever is protected by this one, will be safe from molesta- 
tion. "^^ 

Decidedly the most interesting part of the first chapter, 
as well as of the whole book, is the references made to the 
name "Iowa". It is now agreed that it was the publica- 
tion of this book which brought the name "Iowa" into gen- 
eral use. One prominent writer precisely summarizes this 
opinion in the statement: "It cannot of course be said with 
absolute certainty that the name 'Iowa District' was used 
for the first time in this book. On the contrary it is alto- 
gether probable that this was not the case. But since the 
name was fixed and made generally prevalent through the 
publication of Lieutenant Lea's book and map, it is proper 
and accurate to say that Lieutenant Lea is the father of the 
expression 'Iowa District' ".*^ 

The manner in which Lea came by the name "Iowa" is 
given in the book itself. The name was not taken, as some 

68 For a full account of the Claim Association see Shambaugh's Claim Asso- 
ciation of Johnson Cowity; and also Shambaugh's History of the Constitutions 
of Iowa. 

B9 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 18. 

80 See article hj Benjamin F. Shambaugh in Annals of Iowa, Third Series, 
Vol. Ill, p. 641. 



20 

have claimed, from Iowa County in Wisconsin. On this 
point Lieutenant Lea tells us that "the District under re- 
view has been often called 'Scott's Purchase', and it is 
sometimes called the 'Black Hawk Purchase', but from the 
extent and beauty of the Iowa Eiver which runs centrally 
through the District, and gives character to most of it, the 
name of that stream being both euphonious and appropriate 
has been given to the District itself ".^^ 

The name as applied to the river was spelled ''loway"^^ 
and extends back a hundred years or more when the French 
spelled it "Aouway". In later years, after the State was 
formed. Lieutenant Lea tried to have the spelling changed 
to *'Ioway", which as he declares ''it ought to have been".^^ 

His descriptions of the waterways furnish the student 
with much valuable information, as most of the streams have 
the same names as in 1835, very few having been changed 
since then. The Skunk Eiver, however, bore at that time 
the more dignified name of Chicaqua,^^ and the Iowa was 
oftentimes known as the Bison or Buffalo.^^ 

The Mississippi is given the most attention as that river 
was the great thoroughfare of the period. Next in impor- 
tance is the Des Moines River and its tributaries, which are 
also described in detail. The various bends, rapids, and 
fording places are outlined, and any deposits of minerals 
or stone are also mentioned. The contiguous lands and 
their value for future settlement are described and esti- 
mated. 

The Iowa River was the favorite of Lieutenant Lea and he 

81 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 8. 

62 Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. Ill, p. 641. 

63 Letter of A. M. Lea to Editor H. G. Day of Albert Lea, Minnesota, dated 
January 1, 1890. — In collection of Mr. A. N. Harbert of Cedar Eapids, Iowa. 

64 See the map in Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory. 

65 See the map in Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory. 



21 

never mentions it without becoming enthusiastic. He de- 
clares "it presents to the imagination the finest picture on 
earth." Other rivers which the writer describes are the 
**Pine", the "Wabesapinica", the "Great Mequoquetoia", 
the "Tetes des Morts", and the "Penaca or Turkey river". 
Other small creeks and sloughs are also mentioned, which 
had no importance except as landmarks. 

Two tracts of land which were the subjects of much spec- 
ulation are discussed by Lea. The first of these is the 
"Half-Breed Tract", a portion of land lying in the angle 
between the Des Moines and the Mississippi rivers. The 
history of this tract is related from the time of the treaty 
of 1824 with the Sauk and Fox Indians. Not only is the soil 
of this tract described, but the various small streams are 
mentioned, the conditions of its inhabitants explained, and 
the validity of the land titles discussed. 

The second tract is that strip of land known as "The 
Indian Reserve", or "Keokuk's Reserve". This comprised 
a strip of land along the Iowa River containing four hun- 
dred square miles. At this time the Indians had removed 
in large numbers and the whites were eagerly awaiting a 
chance to seize upon some of the choicest parts of the Dis- 
trict. 

The descriptions of the towns are of exceeding interest, 
since the struggling little villages of that day are now in 
many instances thriving cities ; while in other cases no rem- 
nant remains of what promised to be prosperous and weal- 
thy communities. Keokuk was a town which derived its 
chief importance from the rapids in the Mississippi, for all 
boats were forced to stop and change their freight.^^ The 
town lots were held in common by the owners of the "Half- 
Breed Tract". 

68 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 35. 



22 

Fort Des Moines, now no longer in existence, was then an 
important place.^'^ A good landing was located here, and 
much fine farming country was close by. A legend claimed 
that this was the location of an old French settlement ; and 
some remains of such a settlement were to be found. 

Madison (Fort Madison) was located upon the site of old 
Fort Madison, which had been burned during the War of 
1812. This town had been laid out in 1835 and gave great 
promise of growth.^^ 

Burlington was a town of four hundred inhabitants and 
was beginning to boom. Lots were being bought and sold 
with remarkable briskness, and the town impressed one as 
a rich business center.^^ 

lowa,'^^ ^'a town to be laid out", and located at the great 
bend of the Mississippi, between Davenport and Muscatine, 
is mentioned as the future metropolis of the District."^ ^ 
' ' Should the seat of Government of the future State of Iowa 
be located on the Mississippi, it would probably be fixed at 
Iowa. . . . And if it be located in the interior, it must be 
near the Iowa river". This proved to be the case, as the 
seat of government was located at Iowa City.'^^ 

Considerable attention is given to Davenport, "a town 

67 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 35. 

68 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 35. 

69 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 36. 

70 Lea 's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 37. 

Lieutenant Lea had bought a large strip of land at the mouth of the Pine 
Eiver and had platted the District. Later he organized a ferry and immigra- 
tion company, but lacked the necessary capital to carry his project through. 
A letter written by Lieutenant Lea's daughter, Lida L. Lea, on January 5, 
1904, says: "He [A. M. Lea] had some 'wild lands' for which he refused 
$30,000 and afterwards forgot — in other business enterprises, — and allowed 
to be sold for the taxes". — See Acts of the Territorial Assembly of Iowa 
for 1840-1841 for the Articles of Incorporation, Chapter 63. 

71 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, pp. 37, 38. 

72 This forecast is typical of those made by Lea and shows the accuracy 
and care usually exhibited in his writings. 



23 

just laid out on a reserve belonging to Antoine Leclaire".''^ 
The most interesting part of the description of this town 
has historical significance in regard to the location of the 
capital city. ''The town", says Lea, ''is laid out on a lib- 
eral scale, with a view to its becoming a large city. Three 
public squares have been reserved from sale, one of which, 
it is supposed by the proprietors, will be occupied by the 
public buildings of the future State of Iowa ; for they con- 
fidently predict that the seat of Government of this forth- 
coming commonwealth will be no other than the city of 
Davenport itself. Nous verrons"J^ 

Dubuque (or Du Buque as it was then spelled) was the 
most prosperous of any of these towns ;"^ for besides a 
population of over 1200 it had twenty-five dry goods stores, 
numerous groceries, four taverns, a court house,' a jail, and 
three churches. It was claimed that the art of mining was 
"more skilfully practised at these mines than in any other 
part of the world"."® 

Many other towns are mentioned which have long since 
ceased to exist. Among this class of towns was Catfish, a 
small town laid out in 1832 in the region of the mines south 
of Dubuque. 

Eiprow was another small town of which Lieutenant Lea 
declared "here are some of the finest smelting establish- 
ments in the world." 

Kasey's, a town to be laid out by a gentleman bearing 
that name, was on the present site of the city of Muscatine. 
As this was close to the town of Iowa, in which Lea was in- 
terested, the town of Kasey's was not given a very allur- 
ing write-up. 

73 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 39. 

74 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 39. 

75 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 41. 

78 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 41. 



24 

THE MAP OP THE IOWA DISTEICT 

In connection with the Notes on Wisconsin Territory is a 
map of the District of which mention has already been 
made ; and this was one of the two maps of the Iowa coun- 
try drawn by Lieutenant Lea. It is ''a Map of Wisconsin 
Territory, compiled from Tanner's map of United States, 
from surveys of public lands and Indian boundaries, from 
personal reconnoissance and from original information de- 
rived from explorers and traders ".'^'^ Among the latter was 
Captain Nathan Boone, a son of the famous Daniel Boone 
and an intimate friend of Lieutenant LeaJ^ It was largely 
through Boone's aid that Lea secured the information con- 
cerning the river courses and the Indian lands which made 
the map one of the most accurate of the period. '^^ 

The map is interesting, in the first place, from a mechan- 
ical standpoint. It is small, about 16 by 22 inches, and 
very finely drawn. The coloring is excellently done in 
bright shades^^ and the engraving is perfect. Upon it we see 
some of the roads then in existence, all the towns, and a 
few of the winding Indian trails. We can also see the 
streams with their old-time spelling — although most of the 
rivers bear the same names as at present. 

77 Lea had not traveled over western Iowa, which at that time had never 
been explored, and it was necessary to use the information of trappers and 
traders. 

78 Nathan Boone was Captain of Company H of the First United States 
Dragoons. In 1832 he had surveyed the Neutral Strip, a tract of land forty 
miles wide which divided the Sioux and the Sac and Fox tribes of Indians. — 
Annals of Iowa, Third Series, Vol. VII, p. 436. 

79 Other maps of this District during this period are John Plumbe 's and 
J. H. Colton's maps of 1839; J. H. Colton's and Jesse Williams' maps of 
1840; Newhall's map of 1841; Willard Barrow's map of 1845.— See The 
Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. I, p. 82. 

80 The coloring of the early maps was in very bright shades and their lasting 
qualities were very great. 



25 

One of the most interesting features of the map is the 
route taken by the Dragoons in 1835.^^ This is very clearly 
shown, with the camping places, the distances covered daily, 
and any peculiar geographical formations plainly marked. 
Among the latter is a high mound located a short distance 
below the present city of Boone.^- A large part of the pres- 
ent States of Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota 
is also outlined. The completeness, the accuracy, and the 
simplicity of the map caused it to be generally used both 
by the governments^ and by individuals. 

THE KEPORT ON THE IOWA-MISSOURI BOUNDARY 

Next in importance to the Notes on Wisconsin Territory 
as a contribution to the literature of Iowa history is the 
report made by Lieutenant Lea as United States Commis- 
sioner to locate the Iowa-Missouri boundary. When the 
Territory of Iowa was created by an act of Congress on 
June 12, 1838,*^ a controversy with the State of Missouri 
had already arisen concerning the boundaries of the two 
jurisdictions. Accordingly, on the 18th of June Congress 
passed an act which empowered the President of the United 
States to cause the southern boundary of Iowa to be ascer- 
tained and marked.s^ This act provided for the appointment 
of a commissioner who should work with a commissioner 
from the Territory of Iowa and one from the State of 
Missouri. Following the provisions of this law, President 
Van Buren appointed Lieutenant Lea as Commissioner for 

81 This route covered over 1100 miles. — See Iowa Historical Eecord, Vol. VI, 
No. 4, October, 1890, p. 535. 

82 See note 18 above. 

83 Iowa Historical Eecord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p, 550. of. note 92. 

84 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. V, p. 235. 

85 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. V. p. 248. 



26 

the United States ;«^ and Governor Lucas appointed Dr. 
James Davis.^"^ But Governor Boggs of Missouri failed 
to appoint a man to represent his State, 

As soon as Lieutenant Lea received his appointment he 
hastened to St. Louis, arriving there on September 1, 1838.«« 
After securing the necessary amount of help and instru- 
ments he came north to Keokuk, and there he met the Iowa 
commissioner. These two spent most of the winter in ex- 
amining and surveying the country, and in going over the 
various documents connected with the history of the con- 
troversy.^^ Finally, on the 19th of January, 1839, Lieuten- 
ant Lea submitted his report to the General Land Office. 
It was printed as an Executive Document and used exten- 
sively in the debates in Congress.^^ 

This report is remarkable in many respects, and for some 
years was the most important and most widely known work 
of Lieutenant Lea. It is concise, gives a full and accurate 
history of the land in dispute, and states clearly the issues 
which Congress must decide. 

After an introduction outlining the work done by the com- 
missioners, a history of the tract in dispute is given.®^ It 

86 Executive Documents, House Document No. 38, Third Session, 27th Con- 
gress, p. 5; also Gue's History of Iowa, Vol. I, p. 175. 

87 Gue's History of loiva, Vol. I, p. 175. 

88 Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. VIII, No. 1, January, 1892, p. 204. 

89 Among these documents may be noted the following : Act creating State 
of Missouri; Act creating Territory of Missouri; several important letters; 
copies of a Spanish Land Grant. The latter is a copy of one of the four land 
grants made by the Spanish Government from territory now within the limits 
of the State of Iowa. It is signed by the Governor, Zenon Trudeau, and reads : 

"St. Louis, le 30 Mars, 1799. 
' ' II est permis a Mr. Louis Honore d s 'etablir au haut du rapide de la riviere 
Des Moines. ' ' 

90 See files of the Congressional Globe for this period, 1838-1848. 

91 Beport on the Iowa-Missouri Boundary in the Iowa Historical Record, Vol. 
II, No. 1, January, 1886, p. 193. 



27 

relates how in 1808 the Osage Indians ceded this land, com- 
prising the northern part of Missouri, to the United States 
government. A few years later, in 1816, Colonel John C. 
Sullivan surveyed these lands and ran a line which was 
commonly considered the northern boundary of Missouri. 
This line started at the *'01d Northwest Corner", a point 
one hundred miles due north of the mouth of the Kansas 
Eiver, and was supposed to run due east to the **Des 
Moines Eapids". But owing to carelessness in correcting 
the needle, the line run by Colonel Sullivan was two and 
one-half degrees north of east when the Des Moines River 
was reached.^2 

Four years later, in 1820 when the people of Missouri 
formed a State, they used the words "to correspond with 
the Indian boundary line"®^ in their petition to Congress; 
and thus the dispute arose. Missouri claimed that the ' ' Des 
Moines Eapids" were in the River Des Moines, while Iowa 
claimed that the phrase referred to those rapids above Keo- 
kuk in the Mississippi or "Les rapids de la riviere Des 
Moines" of the French period. 

Four lines at once presented themselves for the considera- 
tion of the commissioners; and these were carefully ex- 
amined. First, there was the old Indian boundary or Sulli- 
van's line which extended west to the Missouri River. Sec- 
ond, there was the parallel of latitude passing through the 
Old Northwest Corner of the Indian boundary. Third, there 
was the parallel of latitude passing through the Des Moines 
rapids in the Mississippi. And fourth, there was the paral- 
lel of latitude passing through the rapids in the Des Moines 
River at the Great Bend, near the present site of Keosauqua. 

82 Beport on the Iowa-Missouri Boundary in the Iowa Historical Record, Vol. 
II, No. 1, January, 1886, p. 194. 

»3 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. Ill, p. 545. 



28 

The first line appeared to be the just one and the line 
commonly used; but it did not conform to the law, which 
called for a ''parallel of latitude ".^^ And though the other 
three lines were parallels of latitude, yet they failed to pass 
through the required rapids or the Old Northwest Corner. 
Lieutenant Lea concluded that the old Indian boundary, or 
Sullivan's line, ''is the equitable and proper northern 
boundary of the State of Missouri; but that the terms of 
the law do not allow the Commissioner to adopt that line."^^ 

This report on the Missouri-Iowa boundary caused much 
discussion in Congress. The committee to which it was re- 
ferred was unable to settle the question, and for a period 
lasting over ten years it was a subject of much debate in 
both houses. Congress at last found itself unable to settle 
the question and the case was taken to the United States 
Supreme Court, where the opinions and sound judgment of 
Lea, as exhibited in the report, were affirmed by the deci- 
sion^® handed down by Mr. Justice Catron, who said in part ; 
* * This court doth therefore see proper to decree, and accord- 
ingly order, adjudge, and decree, that the true and northern 
boundary line of the State of Missouri and the true southern 
line of the State of Iowa, is the line run and marked in 
1816 by John C. Sullivan ".»^ 

A map of the Iowa country accompanies the report and 
is the second drawn of this section by Lieutenant Lea.^^ It 
is large, about 24 by 36 inches in size, and shows northern 
Missouri and the lower one-third of Iowa. The most in- 
teresting features of the map are the different lines which 

84 United States Statutes at Large, Vol. Ill, p. 545. 

05 Executive Documents, House Document No. 38, 3rd Session, 27th. Con- 
gress. Also Iowa Historical Eecord, Vol. II, No. 1, January, 1886, p. 193. 
98 Found in 7 Howard 660. 

87 7 Howard 679. 

88 Executive Documents, House Document No. 38, 3rd Session, 27th. Con- 
gress. 



29 

were in dispute. These lines are so drawn that the issues 
present themselves without a word of explanation. The map 
is decidedly superior to the one which is found in the Notes 
on Wisconsin Territory in that it is more accurately drawn, 
the rivers, too, having their permanent names by this time. 

OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS 

Those already mentioned comprise the most important 
contributions of Albert Miller Lea to the literature of Iowa 
history; but there are some other writings of lesser impor- 
tance which should be noticed. Among these lesser contribu- 
tions the most important is the autobiography of Lieutenant 
Lea^^ which was published in the loiva Historical Record. 
This contribution explains some of the conditions which ex- 
isted at the time of Lea's work in Iowa and gives a graphic 
account of Iowa pioneer life.^^*' An article of nearly the 
same importance is also found in the same publication and 
is entitled Early Explorations in lowa}^^ This gives in a 
conversational manner the story of the march of the Dra- 
goons in 1835, and is considered by most students as the 
best account of the march ever written.^^^ 

99 A longer autobiography was prepared by Lieutenant Lea for the Minne- 
sota Historical Society and published by the Albert Lea, Minnesota, Freeborn 
County Standard, on March 13, 1879. 

100 itowa Historical Becord, Vol. VIII, No. 1, January, 1892, p. 200. 

101 Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 535. 

102 A Journal. An important and very valuable document came to light in 
the autumn of 1908 at Madrid, Iowa, where it was claimed that Albert M. Lea 
was the author. The title of the document was the "Journal of different 
Marches Made by the Dragoons in the years 1834 and 5 with some remarks". 
It was in a faded handwriting, signed "L — ", and agreed so perfectly with 
the known facts that very few questioned its authorship by Lieoitenant Lea. 
But upon close examination of the manuscript many features came to light 
which proved beyond a doubt that it was not written by the gifted Lieutenant. 
In the first place, the journal of 1834, which describes day by day the march 
of the Dragoons into the Pawnee country, could not possibly have been written 



30 

In 1890 Lieutenant Lea wrote a series of articles for a 
paper 1*^3 published in Albert Lea, Minnesota, which deal not 
only with the early history of Iowa, but also relate to the 
Civil War and to incidents in the life of the author.^o* Some 

by Lea for he did not join that regiment until its return to Fort Gibson in 
the autumn of 1834. 

The Journal of 1835, moreover, was not written by Lieutenant Lea, for it 
gives a daily account of the marches from the Raccoon Forks to Fort Des 
Moines No. 1. Since Lieutenant Lea covered this distance in a canoe upon 
the Des Moines River, and was not with the troops over that portion of the 
march, it was an impossibility for him to keep such a record. 

There are also other evidences in the body of the text to prove that it did 
not owe its authorship to Lieutenant Lea. Nor is external evidence lacking to 
prove this statement; for the handwriting, the rhetoric, the orders of the com- 
manding officers, all go to show that Albert M. Lea did not write these journals. 
However, the fact that they were written by an unknown man, who signed 
himself "L — " does not in the least lessen their value. They compare accu- 
rately with the known and reliable sources concerning the march, such as the 
map in the Notes on Wisconsin Territory and the account given by Lea in a 
magazine article. In fact they touch upon phases overlooked by Lieutenant Lea 
himself and must be considered as a valuable addition to the literature of the 
early history of Iowa. 

The Journal has been edited by Louis Pelzer and published in full in the 
July, 1909, number of The Iowa Joubnal of Histoey and Politics. 

Lieutenant Lea has described his trip from the present site of Des Moines 
to Fort Des Moines No. 1, in the Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. VI, No. 4, 
October, 1890, p. 550, in these words: "The next morning, a bright Sunday, 
I got orders to reconnoitre the Des Moines river, by descending it in a canoe, 
to ascertain the practicability of navigation with keel boats, with a view to 
the establishment of a military port. A goodly Cottonwood was selected, my 
men set to work with a will, and at sunrise Tuesday I bade adieu to the camp, 
and aided by a soldier and an Indian, started on my toilsome task, sounding 
all shoals, taking courses with a pocket compass, estimating distances from 
bend to bend by the time and rate of motion, sketching every notable thing, 
occasionally landing to examine the geology of the rocks, and sleeping in the 
sand despite the gnats and mosquitoes. We made the trip without an accident, 
and leaving our canoe with Capt. White at the trading house, we footed it 
to the fort, where we arrived many days before the main body, who returned 
leisurely by land, and arrived in fine order, without the loss of a man, a 
horse, a tool, or a beef, which were fatter than at the starting, after a march 
of eleven hundred miles." 

103 Freetorn County Standard, Albert Lea, Minnesota, edited by H. G. Day. 

104 Lea was an intimate friend of President Jefferson Davis; and he claimed 

relationship to General Robert E. Lee. In the early part of the war, however, 



31 

of these articles are especially valuable as they give the 
Indian's side of the Black Hawk War,^'^'^ just as Lieutenant 
Lea heard it from the lips of Black Hawk himself. In an- 
other of these same articles we are told of the formation 
of the United States Dragoons.^°<^ A cavalry regiment of 
five companies was formed at the close of the Black Hawk 
War, and this, declares Lea, ''was the cause and neucleus of 
the First United States Dragoons". 

The last of these lesser contributions^"'^ is a letter by 
Lieutenant Lea, which deserves special mention as it throws 
some light on the name "Iowa". It appears that the name 
was spelled *'Ioway" by the earliest settlers; but in order 
to satisfy their desires for Latin endings, George W. Jones, 
the Territorial Delegate to Congress,^"^ and Lieutenant Lea 
agreed to spell it "Iowa". Several years later, after the 
State had been formed, the original spelling seemed pref- 
erable ; and in this letter the writer asks his friends to re- 
vert to the old spelling of "loway". 

The contributions of Albert M. Lea^°^ are not numerous^ 

Lieutenant Lea incurred the disfavor of Jefferson Davis and never rose higher 
than the rank of Major. 

At the battle of Galveston, Albert M. Lea fought against his son, who was 
a Lieutenant on a Federal gunboat. The younger Lea was slain and the article 
telling of this battle is the most pathetic story ever written by Albert M. Lea. 

105 Lea, accompanied by General Parrott, visited the lodge of Black Hawk. 

106 Article published in the Freeborn County Standard on January 30, 1890. 

107 Letter written to H. G. Day of Albert Lea, Minnesota, on January 1, 1890, 
preserved in collection of Mr. A. N. Harbert. 

108 Por a complete history of the Territorial Delegate see an article by Ken- 
neth W. Colgrove entitled The Iowa Territorial Delegates in The Iowa Journal 
OP History and Politics, Vol. VII, No. 2, April, 1909, p. 230. 

109 Lieutenant Lea was a very careful writer and most of his writings agree 
perfectly with official records and documents. The map in the Notes on 
Wisconsin Territory, however, was based to a considerable extent upon data 
furnished by Capt. Nathan Boone; and a comparison of this map with the 
present map of the State shows its defects. — See Iowa Historical Record, Vol. 
VI, No. 4, October, 1890, p. 550. 



32 

neither are they in the best sense critical. The author 

did not realize the part they would play nor the influence 

they would exert. They are, however, remarkable in many 

respects. They give us real pictures of the virgin Iowa 

prairies, of the streams, and the homes of the pioneers. 

They were in most respects accurate and reliable, concise 

and clear. These contributions though few in number are 

prized by all students of Iowa history. They are, indeed, 

the most enduring monuments to the life and memory of 

Albert Miller Lea. 

Cliffokd Powell 
Iowa City, Iowa 



LB N '12 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 



016 093 603 4 • 



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