Special Collections Department
403 Parks Library
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2140

MS 647
Iowa Hunting Journal, circa 1871-1874

Descriptive summary

title: Iowa Hunting Journal
dates: ca. 1871-1874
extent: 0.21 linear ft. (1 half-document box )
collection number: MS 647
repository: Special Collections Department, Iowa State University.


Administrative information

access: Open for research
publication rights: Consult Head, Special Collections Department
preferred citation: Iowa Hunting Journal, MS 647, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.


Historical note

The name and background of the author of the journal is unknown, although from the journal one learns that he lives either near or in Charles City, Iowa. Before his occupation while writing the journal (which is unknown), he was in the cattle business for two years with his dog (Old Bull). The occupation of the author at the time of the journal and hunting trip was probably as a store owner or other supply or retail business. There are lists at the beginning and end of the journal listing people, amounts owed, and if they have paid these debts. There is a possibility that after the hunting trip the author and his traveling companions joined the army in northwest Iowa. Towards the end of the journal, the author describes how he and his companions met a group of soldiers from Wisconsin and enjoyed their company so much that they think about joining them after arranging their business in Charles City.


On their journey, the author and his companions travel with horses and at least one dog. The people he mentions in his journal, although never mentioned by their full names, include Friend H, F. H. (probably an abbreviation for Friend H), Old Fur ("as we call him"), The Elder, and Mr. E (possibly the same person as The Elder) and H. The Elder, Old Fur and H are mentioned the most frequently within the journal. The Elder was probably a Reverend since at one point in the journal "rever" is crossed out before he writes "The Elder" and Rev Mr E, very likely the same person as The Elder (since he also mentions an Elder E), is used at least once.


Collection description

The collection (ca. 1871-1874) contains one handwritten journal, and includes a transcription of the journal. The bulk of the journal contains the author's description of his hunting trip from Charles City to Lost Island Lake, Iowa. There is a possibility that the narrative was written after the hunting trip, since the only date in the narrative portion (Wednesday, March 29) appears before the first entry. In addition, breaks in the narrative occur very infrequently. The dates 1871-1874 were chosen for the creation dates of the journal since there is an 1874 in the list portion of the journal, and a Wednesday, March 29 occurred in the year 1871. Although the descriptions are brief, and there is no explanation for the reason for the hunting trip, the author describes life on the Iowa prairie in the late nineteenth century.


The first pages of the journal contain notes and lists including the measurements of a pelican the author describes in the journal, supplies, and people (their names, amounts owed, and if they have paid). The last few pages also contain listings of supplies and their costs, a few lists of animals and birds along with numbers (presumably the total number they caught and/or killed), and again, as at the beginning, people and amounts owed. Most of the listings at the beginning of the journal are in a different handwriting than the narrative, so most likely these lists were created by his wife.


In the narrative portion of the journal, the author describes a trip from the author's home in or near Charles City, Iowa (often just C. C. in the journal) and a little past Emmetsburg (spelled Emmitsburg in the journal) to Lost Island Lake, Iowa. At the beginning of the narrative, the traveling group is camping outside in Iowa at the end of March. Since March 29 is the first and only date in the narrative, it is unclear how long the hunting trip lasts. It may have been just in the spring since the author mentions chilly weather throughout the narrative.


The hunters pass through or stop near Mason City, Clear Lake, Buffalo Grove (probably a different town than the one formerly in northeast Iowa), Forest City, Crystal Lake (Cristal Lake in the journal), Algona, and Lost Island Lake. He travels with a variety of companions, including Friend H., Old Fur, The Elder and someone just referred to as "H." The journal includes descriptions of the traveling companions' hunting activities, the preservation and stuffing of the pelicans and fish, prairie life, habitations (including a sod house), fauna, people they meet, and the challenges they encounter (including storms, the frequent wind and a prairie fire). The hunting travelers primarily hunt waterfowl, fish and other water animals, such as ducks, geese, pelicans, cranes (spelled "crains" in the journal), hawks, pickerel, buffalo fish, and muskrats (referred to as just "rats" in the journal). The travelers encounter homesteaders and several sod houses, and at one point there is a brief description of one of these sod houses. He also comes across several abandoned or empty dwellings. Once the author begins describing his experiences in western Iowa, he mentions several times that there are very few people and settlers in the area. After Lost Island Lake, located in northwestern Iowa, the author and his companions turn back towards their home in Charles City, and the journal ends ten miles before they reach home.


Container list









1871-1872 ca.



Transcription (created in 2010)