Essays on just about anything
Essays on just about anything
The Mississippi River valley was French territory for generations while the settlers of what was to become the United States filled in coastal areas and started migrating in westerly directions. Incredibly fertile areas along the edges of the river often flooded but produced unlike most farmlands of the nation until the Army Corps of Engineers much later reconfigured the land from one of many lakes to rather bland drained plots. Long and narrow lots were owned by the occasional farmer; most French settlers occupied themselves with furs and trading, though some engaged slaves in mining and manufacturing.
Long following the French and Indian wars, rather secret Virginia forces conquered the area for new settlements and the area filled with land poachers, ex-military claiming bounty, and pioneers heading out of Virginia and elsewhere. Eymans and Imans were among those to the area in the late 1790s and after the turn of the century. There are stories suggesting that Imans arrived with some of the largest of migrations in history -- over 150 people in a group -- half of whom are said to have perished of some disease. These stories are hard to tie down. In tracking known names, we don't find a lot of Imans or Eymans out of Hardy missing. Some are known to have settled at "American Bottom" -- where the buried had a tendency to float out of graves during periodic floods. Settlers from the bottom started burying their dead away from home plots and parked along the edges of the Eagle cliffs where some Imans can be found. It's thought there are likely 1500 unknown burials that took place in this plot.
The photo above was taken on an early morning ride down the hill from Waterloo and out on the Mississippi river plain. Very near this wet spot the town of Harrisonville resided. This was an early spot along the river and provided landing even before the river was a staging place for riverboats, musicians, and passage to New Orleans. The original Harrisonville, once considered a potential territorial capital location, was flooded out numerous times. Ultimately it was moved once, and then abandoned with growth taking place in more secure towns up on the bluff. Felix Grundy Iman was born out here near the river in an early Harrisonville of Columbia Precinct.
Abraham Eyman, perhaps the first of the Virginians to make claims in the area, moved out of the "bottom" up onto the grassy plains near Turkey Hill before the town of Belleville was to be established in the very early 1800s. He was active at buying lots in a number of places in the area, including parcels from French estate sales for property at Belle Fontaine and early settlement on the ancient trail close to the heart of today's Waterloo. Abraham lands along Eyman road (see the first photo above) were home as Abraham rode horseback to early state legislative meetings where he'd been elected a Representative, or when he had the distance for meetings of the Lemen "Friends of Humanity" church meetings. There are Eymans living out on this prairie and farming the land to this day. Abraham's estate involved evidence of mortgages to neighbors in partnership with Henry Eyman, likely a nephew and resident of the river-side "bottoms". There is some evidence that Henry was joined by his father, a Christian Iman who had arrived at Hardy County in Virginia (most likely from Paxtang) around 1786. Henry's nephew Christian, and an ancestor of mine lived most of his life near Harrisonville along the edge of the Mississippi. This town, once a prosperous river town, and potential capital in the new territory, flooded out a number of times, and was ultimately abandoned.