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A Cattle Drive in Iowa

From a distant land, afar
Had come my grandfather great,
He followed west his star
And came to Iowa state...

From the World Old
He saw the New unfold...

In 1876,
In America's hundreth year,
He joined a cattle drive,
To the ranch of a pioneer...
1

Some cows for a Goodenow
Were gathered together to go,
With drover and leather ahorse,
They set upon their course...

From bits of history,
                Likely pieced,
It seems the bovine beast
Were herded first
To a railroad train,
That then traversed
                 The Iowa plain...

They rode the iron west
To a junction known as Grand
2;
Where the cattle pent, egressed,
And ahoof, were driven o'erland.

With reason 'tis thought,
Their travel was wrought
Naught by dark of night,
But travel by ray of light...

From County Greene
        through Calhoun,
By Lake City way and Sac,
They crossed the River Raccoon
3,
Driving from side and back...

*Imagine now:
The drove of cattle going...
And picture how
They grazed on grass a growing
Grass astir in the wind...
And drank of stream aflowing
Drank their fill, wet-chin'd..

Imagine too,
Them sloshing and wading through
The depth of a watery slough,
In marsh, where cattail grew...
    Cattail aburst with down,
    Where singing was heard
    Of a redwing bird,
    Black on beige
          and bit of brown...

Imagine horse and rider,
A cow with calf beside her...
Their onward toil and tramp,
On soil, wet, dry or damp...

As herd and horses pass,
They bent and trampled grass;
Behind they trailed a wake,
That ox and equine make...
      Prints of hooves unshod,
      Marked the way they trod...

Imagine the horizon ahead,
Where hill and sky do meet,
Terrain for onward tread
For cloven and cattle feet.

And beyond a hill, anon,
The azure sky moved on,
As they continued to track,
Across the county Sac
4.

Their faces they could see
In places, nary a tree
...5

Upon the prairie, see them,
Amid the grassy stem...
Passing the prairie flower,
6
The rose so pretty there,
Passing a prairie plower
His hand a-guide a share
A team with him to back,
   Plowing the furrow black...
*

At length they came
To the Indian Creek and branch,
At length to the R. L. claim
7,
The Royal Goodenow ranch.

Thus my kin, my affinity,
Did arrive and there appear
In this region and vicinity,
In our nation's century year...8      
John Riedell

Notes:
  *Between the asterisks* I've used some imagination.
1. Royal L. Goodenow.  Property was in Sac Co., northwest of Lake View
2.Grand Junction, Iowa, west of Ames.
3.Empties into the Des Moines River, which flows to the Mississippi.
4. County named for Sac or Sauk Indians.
5. There was an absence of trees because of annual prairie fires
in Sac Co.  There also is an account of their lack.
6. The wild rose, state flower of Iowa.
7. Sect. 1, Clinton Township, Sac Co.
8. Our nation's centennial, 1876.

 

 
   
 

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Site Last Updated on 09/17/12