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Greene County Iowa, Washington Township Memories from pioneer, Mrs. George (Jenny Stevens) Selsor, Feb. 1931

Jenny (Stevens) Selsor remembers her early days in southern Washington Township, Greene County, Iowa. She was the great-grandmother of Virgene Morse, of rural Rippey, IA. Jenny's parents are buried in the Bowers/Angus Cemetery located in southern Washington Township.

From The Perry Daily Chief, February 11, 1931

Perry Personalities, by Rev. Peter Jacobs

To have lived in this vicinity for seventy-seven years is an unusual record. There are not many pioneers left who can go back into local history that far. Mrs. George Selsor, 601 South Third Street, born in Owen County, Indiana, April 17, 1853 came to this section of Iowa in 1854 when she was a year old. The family was seven weeks on the road. Her father was Ruben Stevens. The mother, with some of the children came in a two-seated buggy drawn by one horse. They had two wagons in which they brought their household goods, each wagon pulled by a yoke of oxen. They brought a herd of some twenty cattle. They arrived Oct. 1. Her grandfather, Tilman Chance and family came to Greene County in 1851. Other families coming with the grandfather were Elija Orman, father of Tom Orman, John Chance, Mrs. Kendall and two daughters. Mr. Kendall had been killed in the Mexican War. Grandfather Chance had a family of five children. He bought a 160 acre farm for each one of them and they started their home life in log cabins. The first farm he bought was the one now owned by Tom Orman. After the marriage of one of his daughters to James Beaman, father of Sam Beaman living west of Rippey, he moved to Adel and started a store, one of the first in that village.

Serena Stevens’ father settled first on a farm known as the Wimmer farm, west of Angus. Later he moved to Linden, a small community east of the Dawson bridge. Here he and John Chance started a saw mill, working up some of the native lumber for more modern buildings than the log cabins. One of these houses built from this native lumber sixty-eight years ago is still on the Wimmer farm.

Mrs. Selsor, was one of thirteen children. The children knew what it was to wear home spun material and some of the older girls learned to spin and helped in the care of the rest. She did some of the farm work, driving a large yoke of oxen to a single plow or a harrow. She would guide them with the rope that was tied around their horns. As she would make the furrow, the other children would plant the corn. At the time, she was but a mere girl. How many women of this region have had a similar experience?

Mrs. Selsor remembers the Indian scare that brought such terror to Iowa because of the massacre at Spirit Lake. It had been rumored that the Indians were coming this way. They received the word after night. The stock was turned loose. Gathering their clothing, some food and such possessions as they prized the most, they started after midnight for Adel to join the settlers for a common defenses, or to go on to Des Moines to seek the protection of the law. Early in the morning when they arrived at Frog Creek, now in the western part of Perry, they met a man who informed them that it was only a scare. They camped on the creek long enough to get their breakfast and then returned home. Though she was only four years old, the intense excitement at the time made its impression.

The mild winter we have had this year is such a contrast to the terrible storms the pioneers of that time experienced. At one time her father and a neighbor drove to Des Moines to do some trading. They took a load of hogs with them. Before they returned an awful blizzard came up and it was seven days before they got back home. The storm was so severe that the oldest boys cared for the stock as best they could. Some of the hogs buried in the drifts were not found until several weeks later. The anxiety of that mother and her children must have been a terrific strain, for they had no means of communication and had to wait to know how the father and neighbor were until the storm abated and the folks returned.

Serena Stevens and George Selsor were married Sept. 19, 1872. He had come from Indiana in 1871. Nine children were born to them, all of whom are living. George Selsor and Helen Selsor are residents of Perry. The family moved to a farm six miles south of Perry in 1900 and came to this city in 1920, buying the place which has since been their home. Mr. Selsor died August 30, 1924 at the age of eighty three.

Mrs. Selsor knew the Potts family well. The first horse her husband bought after he came here was from the Potts family. Mrs. Selsor is qualified to become a member of the "Three-Quarter Century" Club and also the "Seventy-Years-In-Iowa" Club. Driving oxen, making homespun, living in fear of Indians, watching the wild deer, chilled by raging blizzards; these were some of the outstanding facts in the life of this hardy frontier girl.