Through the courtesy of Joel Magnuson of Orchard City, let's visit today with Joel's great-grandfather, Samuel Edwin Iams, who was born in 1844.
Joel has at his house a handsome, very old, Iams family trunk, which holds many treasures.
The Iams trunk belonged to Samuel. It and Samuel's home were inherited by Samuel's son, William, Joel's grandfather.
Joel's mother was Evelyn Iams, William's daughter. Evelyn married Erick Magnuson.
During William's later years he came to live with Evelyn, Erick and Joel. The Iams trunk came with him.
The Magnuson parents were interested in history and past generations of their families. Erick was the historian in his family. Joel shared their interest in their heritage, and continues the adventure of learning more about the family members who preceded him.
Joel has written a monograph about Samuel's life, and written it in the first person.
Samuel was born April 21, 1844, in Middletown, Ohio, to John Iams, born in Pennsylvania, and Jane (Pitman) Iams, born in Ohio.
Samuel had four brothers and sisters: Freeman, born 1838; David, born 1840; Laura, born 1842; and Emiline, born 1846.
John Iams was very harsh with his children. David left to stay with great uncle Eli Iams in Iowa when he was 16. Sister Laura went with him.
Laura later married in Iowa. She came home to visit their family in 1858 and bought Samuel a gift, HALE'S HISTORY of the UNITED STATES, From Their First Settlement As Colonies, To the Close of Mr. Tyler's Administration in 1845, published in 1848.
Samuel says, "Mother was a learned and gifted teacher and taught all of us the three "R's" and history. Father, on the other hand, had a limited concept of the written word, but he could cipher well."
In 1861 the Civil War was underway. Samuel says, "Things were tough at home. I could not connect with Father. At 17 years old I walked to Winona, lied about my age, and joined the army, Second Regiment of the Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, Company A."
Samuel saw a lot of action during the Civil War. His handsome discharge certificate speaks of that action --
"To all whom it may concern
Know ye that
SAMUEL E. IAMS
Enlisted from Winona Co, Minn. June 26, 1861 and was mustered into U.S. service at Fort Snelling, Minn., June 26, 1861 as a private of Co.A. 2nd Regiment Minn. Vol. Infantry
"Under Capt. J.W. Bishop and Col. H.P. Van Cleve to serve three years, or during the war. The Regt. was assigned to the 3rd Brig. 1st Div. 14 Corps. of the Army of the Cumberland.
"He participated in the following engagements: Mill Springs, Shiloh, Pittsburg Landing, Triune, New Ulm, Tullahoma, Chicamagua, Chatanas, Lookout Mt., Mission Ridge, Buzzard Roust, Atlanta Campaign, including Resaca, Dallas, Kenesaw Mt., Peachtree Creek, Marietta, Uxay Creek, Siege of Atlanta, Jonesboro, Siege of Savannah, Averuaboro, Bentonville, and Raleigh. Said S.E. Iams was confined in hospital Somerset, Ky. for about 4 weeks on account of measles. He was discharged Dec. 16 '63 at Chattanooga, Tenn. To reenlist as a Veteran in same Co. & Regt. under Capt. L. Ober and Col.J. George for three years or during the war.
"He was Honorably Discharged July 11, 1865 at Louisville, Ky. in account of the close of the war."
The war was over.
Samuel said, "I mustered out in 1865 after Lee surrendered. I used some of the war funds to purchase a horse to ride home with my 1864 muzzle-loaded colt rifle, pictures, my metals and silver watch, and enough cash to homestead in Minnesota.
"I married Elizabeth Caroline Meade on Sept. 3, 1865.
"I used some of my war funds and Elizabeth's parents helped us homestead a 160-acre plot cater-cornered from their 160-acre homestead. We stayed with Elizabeth's folks while I put up a log cabin on the homestead," he said.
Elizabeth's brother Francis and Samuel's sister Emiline married and moved to their own land claim. Several other young couples moved into the area and homesteaded. The men worked with each other, and with older residents who had been in the area longer. All helped each other in cutting virgin timber for cabins, dragging timbers home, searching out rocks for foundations of homes, laying bark across prairie sod roofs. Samuel borrowed his father-in-law's team to plow acres to plant wheat.
Samuel built a stone fire place, the only heat for the cabin, which had to be stoked during the night. He said, "Over the fire I put a stand and iron pot to cook and boil water in. We had saved the cutoffs from the building process for firewood, and hoped it was enough to last the winter."
In 1870 community members noticed the start of a railroad building. With the railroad came a post office and railroad station. The post office required the town have a name and Delevan was chosen.
In 1875 Samuel had "reached my limit." He had planted more wheat to make up for two prior bad years. By mid-summer millions of locusts cleaned out everything green in five days.
In the battle of Chattanooga Samuel was shot in his left leg. The Army reassigned him to teamster duty, transporting goods wherever they were needed. The land where he now lived was mostly prairie, few trees on claims, but everyone cooked and kept warm with log fires.
Samuel said, "I could still cut wood, so my livelihood became providing firewood for the growing town. I also started bringing in goods from the larger towns 25 miles away."
Samuel and Elizabeth had a still born birth in July 1866. In May 1868 daughter Ida Mae was born; in July 1870 daughter Martha Jane was born; son Francis Edwin was born in May 1874; and son William Charles was born in January 1883. In January 1889 they adopted a two-year-old daughter, Martha Elmira, a daughter of Elizabeth's late sister and late brother-in-law.
In Joel's monograph of Samuel's life, Samuel's son William states, "Father passed away March 9th at his home in Delavan at the age of 66. Funeral ceremonies were held in the Delavan Baptist Church and he was interred in the Iams plot in Rice Lake Cemetery. Thus ends a very full and eventful life. His memory lives on in the lives of five children and 24 grandchildren."
Joel, having completed the monograph of Samuel's life, looks forward to researching Grandfather William Iams and learning about his life.
"My main goal in completing this adventure is to let people know of the importance of sharing history early, with the interested members of the family, before it is lost. My elders did this for my siblings and me," Joel says.
"We can only surmise our future by the study of the past. This includes health issues.
"We are a development of our ancestors. Everything that happened to our ancestors contributes to what we are today," he said.