View of Fayette in 1898 looking northeast, from a hill overlooking the the railroad yards. The hill was destroyed for a local rock quarry during the 1930's-1970's. The 1873 railroad depot is the larger building in the center right. A windmill was used to fill the water storage tank used by the steam engines. Grain storage and shipping was in the larger buildings middle left. The old stone railroad cut was a half mile up the track to the left. All the buildings in view are homes, with College Hall being the larger building in the upper right center with a steeple. The south start of the two blocks of businesses and main street would be two blocks to the left of College Hall. Most of the trees in the city proper had been cut by early pioneers and the town would not be fully "wooden" again until into the 1940's, with hundreds of trees being destroyed by high winds in the early 1970's.
A Fayette County Pioneer of
1843, R. L. Hensely, wrote "The Pioneer Poem for the 4th annual Fayette County Harvest
Home Picnic at Klock's Island in 1892. Before reading his poem he remarked:
" If this poem when it ends should fail to be a charmer,
just remember this dear friends, It was written by a farmer."
by R.H. Hensely,
In 1843 when we came here,
All the woods were full of deer,
You'd meet a panther here and there,
And now and then a great black bear.
All our steps with care we'd take,
Or tread upon a rattlesnake:
We lived in houses made of logs,
And every man had guns and dogs.
Our fences were then made of rails,
Wheat was tramped and threshed with flails:
Our hogs lived wild out in the woods,
And at Dubuque we bought our goods.
In traveling 'round for many miles,
Looking through the forest wilds,
Where deer and bear had left their tracks,
No tree was marked by woodsman's ax.
From place to place as man would pass
He made his own way through the grass:
Across the prairies for many a mile,
Were Indians all in singe file,
It is the honest laboring grange
That has wrought so great a change:
With strong and energetic hand,
They made their mark upon the land.
Now all the prairie and the plain
Are waving field of golden grain:
Look till eve, from early morn
See all the valleys clad with corn.
Grey haired sires and young men brave,
Maidens fair and matrons grave,
Children bright and babies sweet,
At Harvest Home each year we meet.
Now a work to our farmers friends;
It is on us the world depends:
We draw our living from the soil,
Our hands are seared with honest toil.
Throughout the land from west to east,
We furnish food for man and beast;
Some may seek an easier place,
But tilling the soil is no disgrace.
Band and store, mill and shop,
Only for us they would stop,
On a thousand hills our herds are seen,
Grazing on their pastures green.
Our horses, cattle, sheep and swine
They all are fat and looking fine;
Our dairy stock is hard to beat,
Our poultry yards are all complete.
Among the counties, ninety-nine,
Are many others rich and fine;
Of all the counties, east or west,
Still we love Fayette the best.
For timber, water, soil and stone,
There is no better county known;
Our forest timbers beat them all
With oaks and maples straight and tall.
Brooks and rivers, springs and rills.
Ripple out from all the hill;
Good building stone and lime and sand
Are all right here at our command.
Good stock and crops of every kind;
Now, to all who think to roam
In other lands to seek a home,
In church and school we're not behind.
Stay right here is our advise,
We have almost a paradise;
In Fayette County your name record,
Where labor always reaps reward.
Be a citizen firm and true.
Friends will be many, enemies few,
Here half a century have we spent,
While many others came and went.
To risk our fortunes, wheat or chaff,
We fain would risk the other half,
Here we had our childhood plays,
Here we spent our manhood days,
Here we spend our toil and seat,
Here we still are laboring yet,
Here is where we found a bride,
Here is where our parents died.
Many other things we find
Our affections here to bind.
The Opera House in 1898, on the SE corner of Main and Clark Streets, would become the Masonic Temple in the 1900's. In the late 1900's the building fell in disrepair and like almost all of the other historical building and houses in Fayette was slated to be town down in early 2k. There is now interest in reconditioning and saving the old Opera House.
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