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Some Early Settlers of the Rippey Area by Roger L Crumley MD, April 10, 2020

While doing some family genealogy during his self-quarantine for coronavirus mitigation, Roger Crumley, MD discovered some interesting facts about the earliest days of Greene County, Iowa. He graciously shares his findings.

Some Early Settlers of the Rippey Area

Roger L Crumley MD   April 10, 2020 

                Doing some family genealogy while being self-quarantined for coronavirus mitigation, I discovered some interesting facts about the earliest days of Greene County, Iowa.   Greene County was created out of Dallas County in the 1850’s.  While Truman Davis was the first settler of the new County, at least one account has it that Sylvanus G.  Crumley was the second.  Both lived near the Raccoon (“Coon”) River between the subsequent sites of Jefferson and Old Rippey.  (another account has Enos Buttrick and Richard Hardin, to have arrived next after Davis.)  (Buttrick’s creek, Hardin creek)

            In summer of 1850 Sylvanus Crumley left Lee County, Virginia and came to Iowa via a “prairie schooner” (covered wagon) drawn by 5 oxen (or horses).  His travelling group also included his father, the Rev. Isaac D. Crumley (Sr.), Sylvanus’ older brother William P. Crumley, his 2 married sisters Lydia and Hannah Crumley, and their 2 husbands, who were brothers.  Lydia was married to Valentine S. Babb, and Hannah’s husband was Kelley S. Babb.   One of the Babb couples also had a baby who apparently made and survived the arduous trip.  (Imagine the rigors of that 850-mile trip by covered wagon from Virginia to Greene County, Iowa with very few bridges and only a few roads, at least for the last 400 miles.) They found that their new area had only 1 or 2 other “white” settlers, while wigwams, Native Americans, elk, and deer were abundant.  Rev. Isaac Crumley was my great, great grandfather, and William P. Crumley my great grandfather.

Rev Isaac D. Crumley’s wife Rachel had died earlier that same year (1850). It is not known if he had made the move to Iowa because the Church asked him to, whether he felt adventurous (he was 53 years old in 1850), or possibly just wanting to re-start his life after his wife died.   In any event Rev Crumley now had 4 of his offspring travelling with him, and a 5th (Isaac D Crumley, Jr) either arrived at the same time, or shortly later. The group stopped for a few days in the area of current Dallas County, and then moved on to Greene County.

Greene County was in the process of being split off from Dallas County (having previously been a part of it).  The 2 Babb families, and 3 Crumley boys/young men began to settle in the area near the Coon River, southeast of Jefferson, and thought to be near (if not actually in) the site of what was to become Old Rippey.   Having arrived in 1850, these early settlers were there before either Jefferson or Rippey were surveyed and platted (Jefferson, 1854; Rippey (1855).   The surveyors/planners of Jefferson were G.S. Walton and Robert M Rippey, and surveyors/planners of Old Rippey were a Judge Daniels and William P Crumley.     But times were still hard, winters severe, and no amenities were nearby.  The nearest post office was 50 miles away at Fort Des Moines, and they had to travel to Warren, Marion and Mahaska counties for provisions and supplies, with no roads to mark their course or bridges to cross the many creeks and rivers.   Deer and elk were plentiful, but only until the winter of 1855-56.  That year the snow was so heavy that these deer and elk could not escape various predators, many of which included the settlers with clubs. It is said that ever since that winter the Greene County area has had relatively few deer and elk.

The County began organizing in 1854.  The first officers were William Phillips, county judge;  Sylvanus G Crumley, county clerk; Treasurer and Recorder, James H. Phillips/  Sheriff, Rev. Isaac D. Crumley; County Attorney, Norman Daniels. So interestingly Greene County's first Sheriff was a Methodist minister (Isaac D Sr.)

In any event the Crumleys were active in the new county order.  Not long thereafter came the Civil War.  Isaac D Crumley Jr was killed in the war, and William P Crumley (my great grandfather), also fighting with the Union Army, came home to Old Rippey on furlough from the Civil War in April 1861. He got sick and died of “black measles” (prob. either smallpox or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) at his home in Old Rippey on April 15, 1861.  He was only 37 years old.  His son William Halsey Crumley (my grandfather) was born 3 days after his father William P passed away. Wm Halsey operated stores in Rippey until he died in May 1935.

Sylvanus G Crumley jointly operated the Walton and Crumley General Store in Jefferson.  Rev Isaac lived to the ripe old age of 90 (died in 1887), as did his daughter Hannah, who died in 1918 after moving to Jefferson. (Hannah H Smith).  So Rev. Isaac Crumley, his offspring, and the Babb spouses arrived together in 1850 , and many stayed in Rippey/Jefferson area for many generations thereafter.