...A man by the name of Woodcock occupied a piece of land on the east side of White cloud, just west of Hall's claim; he built a cabin and put in cultivation a small amount of land. During the fall of 1840 (October 29th), a small company of white men from Kentucky pitched their tents on the east bank of the Nodaway River (now Lincoln Township), expecting to cross the same on the following morning with their wagons, but the river being without a ford, known to them, they passed over on foot, leaving their wagons on the opposite side. Two of this company immediately began to explore the country in various directions, feeling satisfied that they had at last found a favored region, wherein they could build their future homes. The names of the two pioneers were Joseph Hutson and Thomas Heady. Like all the early settlers in the west, they had a preference for timbered districts, and while selecting land they discovered the same grove of timber from opposite directions, not knowing that they had chosen the same land, until after their return to camp.
Naturally enough, however, after detailing to each other the results of their day's rambles, it was ascertained that each had seen and not only admired the same grove, but had concluded in his own mind to select the land on which it stood. There being no courts in those days, wherein the rights of property and titles to land could be tested, they finally agreed to shoot at a spot at the distance of sicty yards, the one striking nearest the center to take the land. The distance was according stepped off and the parties proceeded to try their skill for the possession of their chosen home. In the contest, Joseph Hutson, with the unerring accuracy of many of his day, drove the center. He still lives upon the spot where this novel incident transpired, more than forty years ago, on section thirty-two, township sixty-six, range thirty-seven, enjoying the fruits of his early struggles.
Late in the fall of 1840, Col I.N. Prather, a wealthy Kentuckian from mercer County, located eight miles south of the present town of Maryville, on section twenty, township sixty-three, range thirty-five, on the White Cloud [river], in what is now known as White Cloud Township. He explored the Platte Purchase in search of a home but found no place to suit him until his eye caught sight of that beautiful tract of land (eighteen hundred acres) which was for many years his happy home-- a portion of this tract having been settled at the time by Hiram Hall, who had arrived in the spring previous.
Col Prather, soon after his settlement here, was made a colonel of militia--troops having been ordered out in anticipation of Indian troubles. It was at his log cabin that the first county court of Nodaway [page 118] County met and organized. He died in 1859. His wife still survives him at the advanced age of seventy-four years. We might state in this connection that, at the time of Colonel Prather's arrival, a man named James Bryant was temporarily living in a small cabin on the place engaged in trading with the Indians, his stock consisting principally of whisky.
From the spring of 1839, to the fall of 1840, there were perhaps, not to exceed six permanent settlers in the territory now known as Nodaway County. During this time, a number of white men had penetrated the country, some on hunting expeditions, and others with the view of locating, but its remoteness from the then centers of trade, and the country being still inhabited by roving bands of Indians, but few remained with their families. We may safely say then, that Isaac Hogan, Hiram Hall, Joseph Hutson, Thomas Heady, I.N. Prather, Harvey White and possibly one other person, were the first settlers in Nodaway County. These settlements were made in Hughes, Lincoln and White Cloud Townships, and although scattered, they formed the nucleus of a population which has increased in numbers until to-day, (1881) thirty thousand people inhabit the territory which they then settled.
Only one of these pioneers is now living. He has witnessed the coming of the mighty tide of emigration which has so rapidly settled the plains and the valleys of Nodaway County, taking the place of the red men, and watched with proud satisfaction, each new development of material wealth, which has marked the advancement of an enterprising and thrifty people. To him, forty years have wrought wonderful changes, more wonderful perhaps, than he ever dreamed of, in the days of his pioneer life, yet how much more marvelous would be the change, could he be permitted, to witness forty years hence, the grand transformations which are destined to characterize the history of Nodaway County.