I A Flat Dutch Turnip Begins Its Career.
II I Learn and Do Some Teaching.
III I See the World, and Suffer a Great Loss.
IV I Become a Sailor, and Find a Clue.
V The End of a Long Quest.
VI I Become Cow Vandemark.
VII Adventure on the Old Ridge Road.
VIII My Load Receives an Embarrassing Addition.
IX The Grove of Destiny.
X The Grove of Destiny Does Its Work.
XI In Defense of the Proprieties.
XII Hell Slew, Alias Vandemark’s Folly.
XIII The Plow Weds the Sod.
XIV I Become a Bandit and a Terror.
XV I Save a Treasure, and Start a Feud.
XVI The Fewkeses in Clover at Blue-grass Manor.
XVII I Receive a Proposal—and Accept.
XVIII Rowena’s Way Out—The Prairie Fire.
XIX Gowdy Acknowledges His Son.
XX Just as Grandma Thorndyke Expected.
The work of writing the history of this township—I mean Vandemark Township, Monterey County, State of Iowa—has been turned over to me. I have been asked to do this I guess because I was the first settler in the township; it was named after me; I live on my own farm—the oldest farm operated by the original settler in this part of the country; I know the history of these thirty-six square miles of land and also of the wonderful swarming of peoples which made the prairies over; and the agent of the Excelsior County History Company of Chicago, having heard of me as an authority on local history, has asked me to write this part of their new History of Monterey County for which they are now canvassing for subscribers. I can never write this as it ought to be written, and for an old farmer with no learning to try to do it may seem impudent, but some time a great genius may come up who will put on paper the strange and splendid story of Iowa, of Monterey County, and of Vandemark Township; and when he does write this, the greatest history ever written, he may find such adventures as mine of some use to him. Those who lived this history are already few in number, are fast passing away and will soon be gone. I lived it, and so did my neighbors and old companions and friends. So here I begin.
The above was my first introduction to this history; and just here, after I had written a nice fat pile of manuscript, this work came mighty close to coming to an end.
I suppose every person is more or less of a fool, but at my age any man ought to be able to keep himself from being gulled by the traveling swindlers who go traipsing about the country selling lightning rods, books, and trying by every means in their power to get the name of honest and propertied men on the dotted line. Just now I began tearing up the opening pages of my History of Vandemark Township, and should have thrown them in the base-burner if it had not been for my granddaughter, Gertrude.