OF 10 \\ m\
( ! l!-'|'t MM) l'< >V\'Kf,l
U i: PRINTED FROM THE JANUARY r ^
OF THE IOWA JOURNAL OF HISTURY AM'
!">rTTlCS PUBLISHED AT IOWA CITY IOWA HY
I'ATE lUSTORICAL SOCIETY OF IOWA
CONTRIBUTIONS OF ALBERT MILLER LEA
TO THE LITERATURE OF IOWA HISTORY
I -• '■ ^
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"
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
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
■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
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-
' ' [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.
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
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
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,
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.
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. ' '
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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-
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.
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.
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-
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
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.
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-
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.
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-
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-
68 Lea's Notes on Wisconsin Territory, p. 35.
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.
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
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-
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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-
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
Iowa City, Iowa
LB N '12
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
016 093 603 4 •