Pioneer Day at Forest Park Museum recalls old settler rigors

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The rugged pleasures of pioneer living were safely recreated Wednesday morning at Pioneer Day at Forest Park Museum.


A number of metro families rustled up pushcarts and little covered wagons Wednesday morning as they recreated aspects of the pioneer settlers and the experiences of Iowa’s original illegal immigrants.

The two-hour event featured family-friendly activities across the museum grounds, from the strip of restored tall grass prairie to the rough-cut log cabin to the yard of the one-room schoolhouse.

Memories were revived of the flood of white settlers who immigrated to Iowa after the signing of the Black Hawk Treaty in 1832, with southern Iowa attracting many settlers from Kentucky and Tennessee and northern Iowa bringing settlers from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and states farther east.

The sufferings were recalled of the Mormons in Iowa in the winter of 1846, at places such as Mount Pisgah, Garden Grove, Winter Quarters and the Grand Encampment, where more than 700 immigrant men, women and children died of exposure, malnutrition, scurvy, tuberculosis, pneumonia, malaria and other diseases.

Our lot is happier and more blessed now in Iowa, where civilized settlement has advanced so far that even our pigs live indoors in health and safety and are no longer subject to the risks of the natural environment.

Inside the museum, interactive audio-visual exhibits bring to life the past of Dallas County, including the pioneer period and the rise of the railroads, an event celebrated in recent weeks in the Perry Sesquicentennial Celebrations.

“The arrival of the railroad ended the pioneer era and brought the modern age to Dallas County,” the programmed voice said in the exhibit.

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