The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Eleven

The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Eleven

The old farrow cow stil gave enough milk to cream our Red Root tea. This was our fair until our first deep snow fell. Just then came the sad disappointment. The long expected $800 payment that was due on the old farm that we sold back in the old Buckeye state was all lost in a law suit we had in court back there. Only about one bushel of soft corn left to work on. So Bro David just lit right out with the gun and sold it for a low price and bought corn. And in about three weeks we traded a dry cow for corn. I suppose it is not necessary for me to say that by this time we were gladly willing to come to corn bread and Red Root tea with a faint supply of pork to mix in occasionly. This was our full fair during the winter of 1853. An other $800 came due on the old Ohio homestead that we had sold before coming west. We got that alright. And we very soon had two yoke of oxen with covered wagon on the way to Muscatine for a supply of provisions. In about ten days the old ox wagon rolled up with 20 hundred (sic) lbs of flower, 376 lbs dried apples, one keg of sugar, one keg of molasses. One sack of coffee and I’m sorry to say we had to have a keg of tobacco. But I’m glad to say that I have long since quit the practice. So ended our hard times. Red Root tea and corn bread went by the board. I just thought I never would get tired of wheat bread and good store coffee.

Now I want to just say that we were all cheerful and happy through it all. It looks worse to me now when I look back over that event than it did when we were in the midst of it. My mother always cheered us up by saying when we had hard fair the Lord gave us a good appetite. I want to say with respect to my mother, while she was blind or nearly so, she was always cheerful and happy and somehow she always inspired the whole family with the same spirit.,

Experience of R. J. Laughlin (Robert John)


This is the end of Robert’s Journal, and the end of Robert. There is more to the Tanglewood story and my Great Grandfather, David William– the American Civil War, time spent at recovering from a gunshot wound at Jefferson Barracks, and then venture into No-Man’s Land, the area where the Border War Occurred in unison with the Civil war. The following chapters will require more research, and more time.

The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Ten


The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Ten

The spring was very cold and backward and we had neither hay nor straw. We fed corn and let the horses and cattle eat haisel brush and also let them brouse the tree tops that we cut doen for our house logs. Our stock all got through with the life but I can tell you they enjoyed the grass when it came and I can tell you also that when we got our house built we enjoyed a house of our own once more. By the time we were pretty well sued to corn bread for wheat bread was out of stile in those days. We had plenty of pork that we brought with us from Jasper CO and left at Indiantown but during the month of May it was all stolen but about 40 or 50 pounds. That left us in bad shape, hardly enough to give us a mess on Sunday morning. The old mottle fased farrow cow just gave us enough milk to cream our Red Root tea right good for that was all the kind of tea we could afford. Money was entirely out of the question, it was corn bread and Red Root tea for breakfast and Red Root tea and corn bread for dinner and both for supper. So after all we had a kind of variety.

Before long our hogs began to wander off for want of corn to feed them. They went down the slough until they got to Sugar creek and then the creek until they came to Iowa river and in the fall they were wild and they were all killed off but three, two shoats and there mother. The two smaller ones we killed for our meat and kept the old one. Well now I must go back to the corn bread experience. We choped in sod corn the first days of July which proved which proved rather late to mature but by the time it was in good rosting ears our supply of corn was exhausted. So we went to greating soft sod corn and when we got tired of that we shelled it and pounded it into hominy morter. So you see we still had a variety.

[Note: This journal was generated by the youngest son, Robert. He often refers to Bro David. Bro David was my great grandfather. And while reading this text I marvel that I came to be.]

The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Nine

Five miles below Newton on Elk Creek we bought 2/3 interest of 10 acres corn with house and fire wood for the winter for $60. We also bought corn in a crib and good corn for 14 cts per bushel. That dident look much like paying $3.00 per bushel for cornmeal or $18.00 per barrel dor flower. We stayed there until the last of March 1852. Then we started for Tama CO. It was a butiful day to start. But having a little stock we’d bought during the winter being two cows with calvs, one colt and 19 hogs, we had trouble starting them, so we only got 6 miles that day and staid the night at North Skunk River. Next morning it was frozen up solid and the wind whistling cold from the northwest. But we pulled out from South Timber Creek 18 miles across the prairie, but only got two or three miles out on the prairie when there came up a terrible storm of snow from the northwest, so terible that we couldent drive our stock against the storm. The hogs ran under oxen and under the wagons for shelter until we ran over two of them killing both of them. We then turned down into a deep ravine where the blew joint grass stood about 6 ft high and there sheltered the best we could until the next morning. Sun dogs just glittering out brightly. Bro David and I cralled out and built a fire with wood that we carried with us and after feeding the teams we made a big coffee boiler full of coffee holding it over the fire until it boiled then we crawled into the covered wagons and ate frozen bred, frozen ham with hot coffee. When breakfast was dispatched we got mother heaped in between two feather beds in the ox wagon with sister Mary to take care of her because she was almost. (Our teams by this time were 2 yoke of oxen and one span of horses). Bro David drove the ox team and father drove the cows and hogs. I took my youngest sister, Jane and the horse team and drove to South Timber Creek. Oh but it was cold, severely cold. When I got to Timber Creek I drove down into a deep ravine where it was sheltered on all sides and I chopped down a tree as quickly as possible and built a log heap fire. When I got the fire started I got a chair out of the wagon I found my sister in a kind of stupor, not hardly willing to get out of the wagon but I pulled her out of the wagon and got her to the fire and then I started back to see how the oxen team was getting along. I met them two miles back on the prairie. And glad to find them all getting along pretty well but Mother. She was getting a little cold and very tired of lying so long between two feather beds. But when we got down to Timber creek the logheap fire was in good shape. I’ll tell you we enjoyed the fire. Mother said it was as comfortable as a parlor. We had a warm supper and dinner and we enjoyed it to. And sleped good that night. Next morning the weather had moderated and we drove to Indiantown that day and stayed there a number of days. During this time we had a terrible snow storm. It snowed, rained and hailed. It thundered and lightened until the snow was about 15 inches deep but beginning about the first days of April the snow lay only a few days. Then we had to muster all the force we could and got two skilful men to help swim the Iowa river before it would overflow its banks. We got two canoes and lashed them together and canoed our corn hogs (17 head), two calvs and all our lumber over. We then swam out two horses, one yearling colt, two cows and four work oxen. The whole entire scene lasted two days. The 2nd night we lay on the north bank of the Iowa river. During the night we had the privilege of enjoying a dashing rain. Next morning we pulled out for our destination in what we called Panther hollow on Sec 28 Tp 84 Range 16 west. There we camped until we had a double log cabin 17 by 17 ft. When it was built it was called the best house in Tama CO.

The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Eight

A Sequential History of how Tanglewood Came To Br – Part Eight

We tugged on westward and finally we came in sight of the great Father of all waters. It was about 3 ft. higher than ever known before. we drove down to the river and waited for 3 hours for the old steam ferry. When it arrived we were soon safely on the boat, but had to ferry about 6 miles to ferry across the old River. So you may know that it is big river. Well, I want to just say while I supposed there was a good deal of cholera there, the business going on there did not indicate anything of the kind. We then felt that we were on Iowa soil and then again struck anew for Des Moins. Having a plank road to travel on how nice the wagon did roll. It made us think of the old Buckeye state again. But it only lasted about 12 miles and we were dumped off again into the mud worse than ever. We wallowed through mud, horses often being done in the mud and being mud all over. And brother David and I were mud all over, two. We drove until it was too dark to find a place to camp. Just at dark being Saturday evening we crossed one of these broad flat sloughs so we double teamed as usual, but I won’t try to tell you how we got over and brother David and I worked until about 10 o’clock washing the mud off the horses. I won’t say any thing about the mud on ourselves, but will just say that for the first time I had the brews.

We rested there over Sunday but it did not seem like Sunday to us. There were teams plowing through that slough all day long – ox teams 3 to 4 yoke to a wagon.

What hooping and yelling at the oxen. Sometimes double teams or any other way to get over. That was something new to us especially on Sunday. On Monday morning we felt rested if it was in mud. And we again rolled toward Ft. Des Moins. And we were not sorry to find the roads improved as we traveled westward. When we got up to Oskaloosa our course was changed by following the advice of a very kind old gentleman who suggested going across the Skunk River near Newton in Jasper Co. for cheap winter quarters.

The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Seven

The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Seven

After we got on the boat we dropped the doubletree from point of the tongue loosing the lead team. And just as the leads being loosed they jumped overboard with the double tree and single trees hanging to them. We then droped evey thing to look after the excited team. We swim them back to the first end of the boat and got them in without any damage and was soon gently moving across the Illinois River. With glad hearts we arrived on the Peora side. Finding the streets crowded with people and teams, it did not look much like the people were all ded with cholera yet. However, we thought there was a good deal of cholera there. Having surmounted the dreded difficulty of crossing the Illinois River, with renewed courage we again struck for Ft. desMoins. But, oh the mud, the mud we had to contend with. I want to just say by way of explanation that 1851 was known as the rainy season. I’ll say we found it out to a demonstration. We plowed on west meeting from two to three heards of fat cattle per day going east. They did not ship beef on the cars as now. And you can imagine how we would leave the roads for moving wagons to get over. We had to leave the main road sometimes for two and three days at a time and we could only make about 16 miles per day. When we got about halfway through the state of Illinois the sad old story came to us about the cholera at Burlington where we were intending to cross the Mississippi. All ded again with cholera, nobody left to run the ferry boat. A little further on we camped at the Vermilion River where we got sad news from an emigrant that had become discouraged and bought a little 20 acre patch on the Vermilion River where milk sickness was prevalent. He had a lamentable story to tell us about Iowa. He said the cornmeal was worth $3.00 per bu. and flower was worth $18.00 per barrel and couldn’t be had at that. He said his son-in-law wouldn’t stop but went on for Iowa and he just expected he would starve to death. He almost cried when he left us. My father’s answer was, we have two good teams and if it is so bad as that we can come back to Ills. to winter. But he calculated to see Iowa. It took him until 10 o’clock to tell his sad story about the starvation out in Iowa. In the morning we saw about 20 rods up the hill side in the timber on what was called the stomping ground, the wood were just white with bones. They told us that it was where cattle had gathered to fight flies and had fallen with milk sickness.

The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Six

The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Six

We stopped and rested over Sunday on the edge of this terrible swamp where milk sickness was prevalent. There was a family of 13 just close to where we camped over Sunday that all but three died with milk sickness. Cattle and Sheep also died with the same disease. People take it from drinking the milk and eating the butter. So we let the milk and butter alone. And knowing that the plague did not extend over into Iowa, we took courage. And after the Sunday rest we started anew for Iowa. Filled brimfull of the western fever. But oh what roads. How we did have to wallow through the Indiana mud. But hoping for something better we courageously tugged on. As we neared the western border of Indiana the roads still grew worse. But when we got into the state of Illinois we struck the grand prairie which was rather exciting to us as it was the first prairie that had seen. So we rather forgot about the mud for a little time. But the excitement began to dye down and the sad news came to us that at Peora one hundred miles ahead the cholera was raging. Yea that they were all dead. Not enough left to run the ferry boat. My mother being almost blind got somewhat discouraged, but Father never let discouragement ketch on. Traveling at the rate of about 16 miles per day, we finly arived at Poera finding the Illinois River all over the bottom everywhere. We had a dredful time getting on the ferry boat. The water being spread so wide over the bottom we had to drive about twenty rods into the water to get to the Ferry boat. We got three of our horses down and came very nearly drowning one of them. We worked west deep in the water for about two hours under the cruel cursing and daming of the boatmen to drive on. The cursing for about an hour and a half when one of the men plunged into the water waiding out to help us, but did not succeed so well as he thought for. But it stoped his multiplied oaths to drive on, drive on.

The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came to Be – Part Five

The Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Five

Robert made quite a point of his conversation. David’s youngest son, Fred Laughlin, told me this story:

“David was quite an astute business and cattleman. He accumulated much land and owned a full section [640 acres] north of Blue Mound, Kansas. One time Robert was visiting his brother, David. One day they went to see David’s section of land and the cattle. This was on Friday. They visited on the way and were having a wonderful time. Along toward evening they were still some distance from Blue Mound. Robert became quite excited and kept asking how much further to reach the land. Finally Robert grabbed the lines and whip and really belabored the mules. David was very much amazed and astonished that Robert would act so. “My religion says I can’t travel after sundown on Friday.””


A Memoir by Robert John Laughlin, Youngest Son of James

On the second day of July 1851, we started for Iowa with two good teams and a covered wagon. There were six of us in all; Father, Mother, two sisters, one brother, [and] I, being 18 years old and the youngest of the family. We left the little village town of Lafayette situated in the north part of Richland County, Ohio. We being filled with emigrating spirit, we pushed on westward making quite a number of short visits in the west part of the state. But, leaving the old Buckeye State we got into the low, swampy lands of Indiana. Oh what slumping and plowing we did have. And as we progressed westward we struck what is known as the Black Swamp. We were about one-third of the time on what is called corduroy bridge. That was logs cut and rolled in against each other. It was about ten miles across it. But I thought the longest ten that I ever traveled.

A Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Four

A Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came To Be – Part Four

(by Rutherford J. Laughlin, a grandson of the above named David. – 24 Aug 1970.)

(The following comments are by Rutherford J. Laughlin, 3rd son of Elmer E. Laughlin, grandson of David Laughlin, great grandson of James Laughlin.)

David’s brother, Robert, wrote an interesting story describing the cross-county trip the family made from Ohio to Iowa. The family consisted of James Laughlin, his wife, his two daughters and two youngest sons, David and Robert. James was in the War of 1812. There were quite a few rumors of invasions into Ohio by the English and the Indians. In 1814, the rumor was quite real, so the male residents of Ohio joined the local militia of Ohio and were inducted into the army. James was in the regular army for 20 days. His service record gave him the privilege of entering land whenever treaties were made with Indians. In 1849, he received the privilege to enter land from the Sac & Fox Indians in Tama County, Iowa. Previous to 1865 land was sold to veterans on the preference basis. It was either fifty cents or $1.25 per acre. James decided to look at the land, pick out a location and move his family to this new land, selling his established farm in Ohio.

[“]Robert, the author of the story, did not write of the reason for the poverty they endured. My father, Elmer, explained that George, the oldest son of James, was mechanically turned, was ambitious, etc. [.] He bought the first steam sawmill in that community in Ohio. James, the father, signed the note. George could not meet the payments. The holder of the lien sued and tied up the second payment, which he was to receive on the sale of the farm. This left James and family strapped for any cash. Communications were very limited in those days so they didn’t know why money did not arrive. So, they starved it out for a full year. When money finally came, the troubles were over. James went on to accumulate much land and property in Iowa.

A Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came to Be – Part 3

A Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came to Be – Part Three

James had two older sons who had reached their majority; George and James. George had bought one of the first steam engines. He was going to do thrashing and run a sawmill, using the engine as power. This venture was unsuccessful. His father had co-signed the note. Since he had sold the Ohio farm on contract, proceeds from the sale was attached and in court, so the first payment was given to the lender. The family had left for Iowa, fully expecting to receive the payment, as it was recounted in the following memoir written by his youngest son, Robert. This explains why the family had such a hard time the first year.

As the money came in from the Ohio farm, James bought more Iowa land and gave to his children. He was considered a good businessman. The land James gave to his two daughters, Mary and Jane, is still owned (1969) by two granddaughters of Jane Laughlin Ferguson, namely Mrs. Twedt and Mrs. Mills, who still live in Marshalltown, Iowa.

A Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came to Be – Part Two

A Sequential History of How Tanglewood Came to Be – Part Two

James’ wife, Elizabeth Lee Laughlin (sister to General Robert E. Lee) voted against moving away from their Ohio farm in Jefferson County, Ohio. She was content with their farm that was clear of any debt, James was 65 years old, and she was loosing her sight. In the end, she was outvoted, and the pages that follow are copied directly from a diary kept by Robert, the son who served in the War of 1812, along with his father.

There are misspellings in this text. I’ll leave them as I find them. Robert wasn’t along. The Louis & Clark Journals have mosquito spelled fourteen different ways.


Perhaps the following will help to explain why a man of sixty-five years would leave his home in a well established community in Ohio for a pioneer life in Iowa in 1851. James Laughlin, with his wife, Elizabeth Lee Laughlin and four of his children”: Jane, Mary, David, and Robert made the move.

James Laughlin was born in 1786, and married Elizabeth Lee in 1819. James was in the War of 1812, with William Henry Harrison at Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio, 1st regiment, 1st Rifle Company, 2nd Brigade, Ohio Militia, with Colonel John Andrews and Captain James Alexander, from August 6, 1812 to February 25, 1813. Discharged at Fort Meigs. (Source: National Archives, Washington, D.C. File no. B-L-WA-29363- 80-55)

Having a service record and since this was before the Homestead Act, he was eligible for a grant of new land. He did not exercise this option to secure land until 1850, when he made a trip to Iowa to locate the land he was to enter. I am not sure of the price, but I believe land could be purchased for $1.25 per acre from the U.S. Government by anyone. A man with a service record could purchase so much land at half price. The land in Tama County, Iowa was being offered to Veterans of the War of 1812, before it was opened to the public for sale.