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History of the Area

Native American History 

The State of Iowa was named for the tribe known as the Sleepy Ones.  Their name was the Aoiowa. 

The Sauk (Sac) and Fox (Mesquakie) Nation

They belong to the Woodland and Plains Cultures. Asakiwaki means "people of the yellow earth" and Meshkwahkihawi means "people of the red earth." "Algonquin" comes from the word "alligewinenk" which means "come together from distant places."

The Sauk and Fox people believe that long ago the Great Spirit chose a fertile valley and the land around it to be their home. He commanded that the Sauk and Fox must think of themselves as brothers. But, each would have their own sacred things. Oral history tells that the tribes originated near the Saint Lawrence Seaway in Canada. Following the settlement and invasion of Europeans on the east coast and pressures from other native nations, the Sauk moved from near Saginaw Bay in Michigan to Green Bay in the Wisconsin area. The village of Saukenuk located at the convergence of the Rock and the Mississippi rivers was their home until they were forcibly removed to Iowa and Kansas. The fight to keep the homeland at Saukenuk resulted in a war led by Chief Black Hawk. The Black Hawk war greatly reduced the band as members were killed by the American soldiers. Men, women, and children were shot as they tried to swim across the Mississippi River to safety. Sioux warriors who were old enemies of the Sauk then killed some of those that got across. Chief Keokuk was the leader of another Sauk band. His peaceful leadership helped his band survive by cooperating with the Americans.   The treaties resulting from the Blackhawk Wars required that the Indians sell their lands in Iowa for $800,000 and be removed from Iowa in two stages, in 1843 and 1845.  Appanoose County was to be evacuated in the first stage by May 1, 1843 and the land opened to settlement by the pioneers immediately. Chief Keokuk complied with the U.S. demands to move west of the Missouri territory.  

Due to contact with the white man the Native American population was reduced. The reason for this was diseases brought by the Europeans, warfare (both inter tribal and with white men), forced relocation and removal, and the destruction of traditional lifestyles. The Europeans brought with them diseases such as smallpox, influenza, measles, bubonic plague, scarlet fever, mumps, and typhoid. These diseases were not present in the Western Hemisphere and the native people had no way of fighting them, so they died by the millions.

The mother was in charge of the family home and everything in it. If the mother belonged to the Sauk people then all of her children were Sauk. The women had an important part in tribal government. Unless the women approved, a son could not take his fathers place as a sacred clan chief. The men protected the home, the fields, and the tribal hunting grounds. They went into the forest and out on the plains to hunt for game that provided food and skins for clothing and for trade. The Sauk are known for their excellent ribbon work, a form of appliqué. They enjoyed finely decorated deerskin dresses, vests, and shirts.

The Sauk farmed in villages in the summer and went to hunting grounds in the winter. Their lodges were large bark-covered wigwams with rounded roofs that let the rain and snow roll off easily. Most lodges were forty to sixty feet long and had several families living in them. Each family had its own cooking fire in the center of the lodge. Sleeping benches covered with skins and blankets ran along the inside walls.

The Sauk lived in towns from April to October. When the harvest had been gathered and the geese began to fly south, families went into the forests to build huts where they lived during the winter hunting season. People too old and weak stayed in town. A supply of food was stored in bark-lined caches in the ground and strong young boys stayed behind.

Religion played an important part in their daily life. The Sauk believed that every person, animal, and thing had its own "manito", or guardian spirit. When a hunter killed a bear, a deer, a buffalo, or any animal he thanked the "manito" of the animal for the gift it was giving to the people. Children began learning the religion of their people at an early age. Boys were taught to fast and to keep holy vigils to bring their soul closer to the Great Spirit. When the boy was old enough he made a special vigil quest. The Great Spirit would show him his personal manito, which would stay with him the rest of his life. At that time, he chose his manhood name and began to collect the sacred things that would go into his medicine bag.

Although the Sauk were a peaceful people, sometimes they had to go to war to defend their hunting grounds or their towns. Neighboring tribes such as the Osage raided Sauk lands. The Sauk were noted for their courage, and they believed that a counter raid to uphold the honor of their people should answer every raid. When other tribes invaded Sauk lands, a council was called to decide what action to take. Often war parties were sent out to meet the enemy.

Warfare had its own rules of conduct. In war, a Sauk gained honor if he could count coup. That meant that he had touched an armed enemy and lived to tell about it. Counting coup earned a warrior the right to wear an eagle feather in his crest.

The Sauk and Fox culture is based upon respect for the life within themselves, their families', their community, and all of creations'. The Creator gave this way of life to the Sauk and Fox people. The tribe is divided into clans, each with its own symbol; Bird, Fish, Bear Potato, Deer, Beaver, Snow, and Wolf are a few. A council of sacred clan chiefs governed each tribe: a war chief; the head of families and the warriors. The traditional manner of selecting chiefs and governing themselves was forcibly replaced by the United States. Appointees and a constitution patterned after the American government was formed.

Significant People of the Sac and Fox

Blackhawk - Famous Sauk chief who led a war against the U.S. for his homeland in Illinois in 1832. His autobiography was published in 1872. Black Hawk said, "How smooth must be the languages of the whites. When they can make the right look wrong and wrong look right".

Keokuk - Famous Sauk chief who was in favor of peaceful relations with the Euro Americans. Keokuk was buried in Kansas but his body was later taken back to Keokuk, Iowa, where the city still honors his name. Keokuk is the only Native American ever honored with a bronze bust in the U.S. Capital. His likeness has also appeared on American Currency.

Mokohoko - When the removal of the Sac and Foxes from Kansas took place in 1869, Mokohoko and some 200 followers refused to go to Oklahoma. He said, "We cannot give up this happy home we have loved so long. I'll never, never put my hand to the paper that says we must leave here. My own people who follow me shall live here in peace with these good paleface people as long as the moon and stars shine by night and the sun illumines the day".

Charles Robidoux - "Charlie" was the Chairman for the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri from 1920 until his death in 1973. The Sac and Fox Tribal Museum building is named after this distinguished man.

Anthony "Tony" Wapp - A great Sac and Fox Indian basketball star that traveled with Vic Hanson's All Americans, the original New York Celtics, Jim Thorpe's Indians, Olsen's Terrible Swedes, and House of David. His basketball career extended from 1929 until 1937.

Jim Thorpe - An Oklahoma Sac and Fox Indian who won the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympics. He was named the world's greatest athlete in 1950.

County History

Appanoose County was established in 1843 and originated by the Iowa Territorial Legislature on January 13, 1846. It is named for the chief of the Sac and the Fox Indian tribes who headed the peace party during the Black Hawk War. Appanoose means "A Chief When a Child."

Appanoose County was one of the main coal mining areas in Iowa during the first third of the 20th Century.

On November 1, 1844 the Legislative Assembly of Iowa ordered Andrew Leach and William S. Whitaker to locate the county seat of Appanoose County. It was soon located and named Chaldea. It was then platted by the county surveyor. The name Chaldea was later changed to Senterville, in honor of Governor Senter, of Tennessee. The spelling was changed and the county seat of Appanoose is currently Centerville.

In the summer of 1847 it was decided that the county would erect a courthouse, but nothing was done at this time. On September 10, that same year, the dimensions and plans for the courthouse were decided upon and bids were sent out. The contract was given to James Jackson for $160 and Jesse Wood completed the finish work for $119. The building was ready for occupation in April 1848. This courthouse was used until 1857.

The construction of a second courthouse began in 1860 and was completed in 1864. During this time the county business was conducted in local churches. This courthouse was destroyed by fire on the Fourth of July. It seems that people were lighting fireworks from the courthouse cupola and throwing them into the air. One rocket evidently landed in the box with all the other fireworks and exploded. The fire destroyed the cupola and most of the second floor. The county continued to use the building but finally gave up in 1903.

The cornerstone for the third, and current courthouse was laid on May 21, 1903. It cost $90,600 to build and was designed by the architects Smith and Gage. The exterior walls are covered with Bedford stone veneer and the roof is tile. The clock tower, which rises from the middle of the building, sets the building apart from all others. The courthouse is situated on a large town square and is the pride of Centerville and Appanoose County. T

The early history of Appanoose County was closely bound to that of the mining industry.  About 1860, coal mining was to grow from a small family operation to a giant business.  In 1934 there were 99 mines in the county.  Some of them were slope mines and some shaft mines were up to about 100 feet deep.  At one time, Appanoose County had the largest coal-mining payroll in the state.  Railroads were gradually extended to most of the mines for shipping of coal.

The industry became non-competitive in the 1940's and 1950's because of the poor quality of the coal, the thin seam of only about 5 feet, and the conversion of homes to natural gas and the railroads to diesel.  By 1971, there was only one mine left in the county, the Gladstone.  Mines were dismantled and sealed and the huge slag piles were used for county road surfacing.

Brushy Community

The original date of the establishment of the Brushy community is not ascertainable at this time.  We know that William Denny was the original purchaser of the property that the Brushy Schoolhouse is situated on.  He purchased this land in 1851 from the United States of America with the provision that one acre in the Northeast corner of the property be set aside for the construction of a schoolhouse.  This became known as Brushy No. 4 School.

 John and Amy Fenton came to Iowa in 1851.  Mr. Fenton donated land just north of the Brushy School for the Chariton River Cemetery, now known as the Brushy Cemetery.  Mr. Fenton passed away about a year later and was the first person to be buried there.  Mrs. Fenton eventually donated the land where the Chariton River Baptist church now stands across the road.

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