The following article was found in the book Early Pioneer Stories which I accessed in the DAR Library in Washington, D.C. this summer. The book was prepared for the DAR Library by the Appanoose County [IA] Genealogical Society and featured clippings of articles from the Progress Anniversary Edition of the Centerville Daily Iowegian, which came out on 14 Jan 1934. In the article, my gr-gr-grandfather Samuel Rupley Bear discusses his parents, Samuel Lewis and Mary (Rupley) Bear, and their life as early settlers in Appanoose County.
S. R. Bear of Johns township tells of the sod schools, the hard work of the pioneers, also some of their diversions, as follows: Father and mother, Samuel and Mary Bear, came to Appanoose county the winter of 1854 or the spring of 1854 or spring of 1855, from Illinois. They got acquainted with the pioneer business men of the county and Centerville and also dealt with them. He freighted from Keokuk.
I was born in Appanoose county in the year of 1856, the first school I attended was a log house with wooden slabs for seats with round logs to rest on. We had no desks and had to hold the books in our hands. The next school which I attended was held in a room in a dwelling house with slab benches.
Father and mother were hard working people whose main interest was in getting along. They did work of all kinds. Father broke up the land and planted it in corn, millet and buckwheat. He freighted when he had time, with mother helping in any way that she could. He first raised hogs and later raised cows. The hogs were butchered and sold. Father also made a cheese press and then made the cheese. There was an abundance of wild fruit at that time viz: wild gooseberries, blackberries, grapes, redhaws, blackhaws, and wild crab apples. Now and then father and mother and we children took a day off and together with neighbors and friends took a team and wagon and would go hunting. The men folks would hunt squirrels while the women folks and children would pick the wild berries. On returning home we would have a feast of young squirrel and the berries. Sometimes the neighbors would join us and a social time was held. In those days we also had much wild game of which there were chickens, turkeys, some deer and also plenty of wolves. At first we had no mail whatsoever, but later we had a mail man who brot the mail to the houses. Also we did not have the schools in those early days, or preaching, but when the schools were built there were many different activities carried on inside, for instance there were the singing schools, meetings, and also the debates.
After the first ten years the county began to get populated and was getting well filled with inhabitants.
Source: Appanoose County Genealogy Society, Early Pioneer Stories [Articles from the Progress Anniversary Edition of the Centerville Daily Iowegian, 14 Jan 1934], (Centerville, IA: by the society, n.d.), p. 28, "Main Interest Getting Along In These Days".