Swimming to that Next Meeting
Bellevue to Linn County
When, in its session between November of 1837 and January of 1838, the legislature governing the Territory of Wisconsin set the boundary between the newly formed counties Dubuque and Jackson on the west side of the Mississippi River, they appointed Captain W.A. Warren Enrolling Clerk of the House and later Organizing Sheriff, roles that came with responsibilities of establishing elections and other necessary infrastructure of a new county. (The latter job was nearly lost to an unscrupulous early resident of Jackson County who had submitted to the Wisconsin governor a fraudulent petition. But the ruse was detected and Warren proved to be the rightful candidate for Sheriff supported by the petitioners of Bellevue.)
Captain Warren took his job seriously, communicating, in the newly forming territory of Iowa, not only with residents of Jackson County but also with new residents of Linn County. In later years he told a story of traveling from Bellevue to Linn County (no precise date given). On horseback, he seems to have crossed the Maquoketa and its North Fork without undue difficulty. But he reached the Wapsipinicon River in what is now Jones County after heavy rains. It was impossible to ford the flooded river and night was approaching, so he waited until morning. The night, he later recalled, was filled with the howling of wolves nearby so he dared not fall asleep. In the morning, though the swollen river was not much improved, he stripped off his clothing, strapped it to his saddle, and swam across the river, leading his horse. He reached the Linn County settlers safely and returned east again to do Jackson County’s business.
Source: SHSI: The History of Jackson County Iowa, Chicago, 1879.