Levi Moffet - Except from "The History of Des Moines County, Iowa", Page 595 and 596
Contributor: Robbhaas Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
Levi Moffet was born in York State, in the town of Oppenheim, Montgomery County, May 10, 1800, from there he went to Orangeville, Columbia Co., Penn., living there many years. There be was married to Elizabeth Keck, January 29, 1824, by William Scott. The family was increased until it included five children. In 1834, Levi Moffet traveled West, prospecting for a location suited for the erection of a mill. In company with a man named William Smith, Levi Moffet worked on a dam near LaHarpe, Ill. expecting to erect a mill there. He then returned to Orangeville for the purpose of organizing a colony to locate in Illinois. The undertaking was successful, and Mr. Moffet purchased a flatboat, which was loaded with furniture, mill machinery, bought in Ohio, tools, provisions, and thirty barrels of Orangeville whisky. When the entire party had taken quarters on board the flatboat, it consisted of the following men end their families: Levi Moffet, George Coltson, Mr. Drake, Z. Lotos Moffet, Jesse Wilson, Lott Moffet, Peter Barb, Mr. Gideons and Mr. Hosford. Besides these there were in the colony. Robert Chestnut, carpenter, and Fred Kessler, millwright, employed by Levi Moffet, also Mr. Lee, Cibby Bauers and Dr. Farnsworth. The flatboat with its cargo started down the headwaters of the Beaver River in the spring of 1835. At the mouth of the Cumberland River, in Kentucky, while attempting to effect a landing, the boot sprung a Ieak, which necessitated the unloading of almost the entire cargo. Here the goods and emigrants were transferred to a steamboat bound for St. Louis. Robert Chestnut and Fred Kessler, however, remained in charge of the flatboat, which was repaired, and by them brought to the mouth of the Ohio River, where the balance of the goods were loaded on a steamboat, and passage on the same secured by the two men for St. Louis. The flatboat was left to the mercy of the waters. In St. Louis, the entire party was reunited and lived for about one week in an abandoned stone-cutter’s shanty on the bank of the Mississippi. From this point the colony went by boat to Warsaw, where they separated, branching out into Illinois, mostly settling near La Harpe. Upon his return to the dam built before leaving Illinois. Levi Moffet was not satisfied with the locality, and decided to look further. Hearing of the Skunk River, he started out with Fred Kessler to inspect that section of country, which resulted in the purchase of John Whitaker’s mill-site claim, including a fractional quarter-section of land. The transection took place in May, 1835, and William Smith, of La Harpe, was a partner in the claim. After an absence of nine days, Levi Moffet and Fred Kessler returned to La Harpe, and moved the goods and the family to Skunk River; William Smith now joined the party. Arriving at their destination May 12, 1885, work was immediately begun by Moffet, Smith, Chestnut and Kessler on a dam and saw-mill, which was soon in running order. In one corner a one-stone run was placed to grind corn and wheat, and this was the first mill in Iowa. At this time, Mr. Edwards, Basey, Alexander Robertson and John Haynes lived in the vicinity. As soon as the existence of a mill became known, settlers came from all directions which fact induced Levi Moffet to lay out town lots on the claim owned by William Smith and himself. In 1837, William Smith sold out his interest in the mill and claim to Levi Moffet in consideration of the sum of $5,000. The same year Moffet built a regular independent flouring mill. As soon as the village of Augusta was founded, John Whitaker moved his prairie store into the town where he continued to sell goods for eight years. In the fall of 1838, Levi Moffet purchased of the Government the land included in his claim. In 1840, a few Mormons came from Nauvoo, III., and purchased a mill-site and built a saw-mill, but only remained a short lime. The mill passed into various hands, and, in 1878, was carried away by high water. In 1844. Moffet & Jones built and launched a steamboat to run on Skunk River, and named it “Maid of Iowa." Mrs. Moffat died March 29, 1838, and on June 17, 1940, Mr. Moffet married Mrs. Antoinette Roff, of St. Louis. During the last four or five year of his life he suffered much, and died March 11, 1857, of apoplexy. His oldest son, Joseph, succeeded the departed pioneer in business. After leaving Augusta, John Whitaker made several changes of location, but now resides in Fort Madison, and rather than be idle, keeps a store in the front part of his dwelling. Mr. Moffet's family still lives in Augusta. The founder of the village of Augusta is said to have been a man of fine personal appearance, intelligence and education, very social, fond of telling a good story. and always prepared for an argument, particularly if of a political nature. Mr. Whitaker is splendid specimen of Iowa pioneers; he is about six feet three inches tall, and when in the prime of life weighed about two hundred and fifteen pounds. He has always been noted for his generous hospitality, truth in all things, and strict integrity. He was first entitled to a vote in 1816, and commenced his polities as a Democrat, and has remained such ever since.
From "The History of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns, &c, a Biographical Directory of Citizens, War Record of Its Volunteers ... General and Local Statistics ... History of the Northwest, History of Iowa, Map of Des Moines County", Western historical Company, January 1, 1879