Plains Settlers: Daniel Fitzgerald Became One of the Iowa Settlers

My great-grandfather Daniel Fitzgerald came to Iowa in the 1850s to escape the famine in Ireland. He lived all along the Mississippi River, from Keokuk to McGregor, finally settling at Harper’s Ferry, Iowa. After the Civil War, he crossed the state to take up a farm in Pocahontas County, 40 miles from any town.

His party traveled thru spring rains in a wagon pulled by oxen. These pioneers carried with them squash, pumpkins, carrots, cabbage, salt pork, sugar, and coffee. Departure from Harper’s Ferry was delayed a day, until April 2, because Great-grandfather refused to do anything on April Fools’ Day unless he had to.

Wood was scarce and costly, and a customer who did not have the cash, that is gold or silver, did not buy. Flour, tea, salt, coffee, and other staples were sold for cash on the barrel head-or no sale! Grandfather had enough money to build a frame house and to put in a crop. He planted sod corn and about 20 acres of wheat the first year, and each year more ground was plowed until the land was all broken. 

Ed Murphy
Fonda, Iowa

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.