And another thing. The Dutch Calvinists of northwest Iowa were not rebels or rabble-rousers, not given to pick a fight with the political powers that be. They'd just as soon operate under the radar, after all. Sure, they'd left Holland for taking on the liberals of the State Church, but that was different. That was religion, a whole different state of affairs. You don't mess with God, after all--at least not their version of him.
So while I'm Dutch and capable of prejudice, it's 140 years later now, and I think I'm capable of some objectivity here. And what I'm saying is this: I'm quite sure those shysters at Calliope--at what became Hawarden--were dastardly crooks and deserved what the rebellion the hearty Hollanders brought to them on that fateful day in January, 1872, when, that morning, the lot of them left from Mrs. Rowenhorst's Orange City tavern. Think of it--55 sleighs altogether--out front, their leader Mr. Van der Waa and his mule team.
No roads to speak of yet. No fur coats either, those sleighs packed with straw for warmth. Thank goodness for wooden shoes.
Their mission--wrestle the government of this new county--Sioux County--out of the hands of the Calliope crooks and bring it into the bosom of newly-founded Dutch Calvinist righteousness. Like I said, I still side with the Dutch. But then, I am one.
The Calliope crooks were all of that and more. It's a story oft repeated throughout the white settlement of the Plains--the very first adventurers in a place like Sioux County were pioneers all right, hungry entrepreneurs who realized early on that there was gold in them thar' hills, even if they were made of Loess and not stone. All you had to do is own 'em. And all you had to do to own 'em was claim 'em.
The Calliope crooks were real estate people who came up the river from Sioux City, crowned each other with political titles like Judge and Register of Deeds, and proceeded to divvy up the land--which, of course, they'd taken from the Sioux--and sell it to intrepid settlers like this hearty band of Dutch Reformed folks.
But you don't mess with their the Dutch when it comes to righteousness. It didn't take long and the Hollanders had had enough. There'd been an election, after all, fair and square--and they'd won. They decided as long as the government was in Calliope--early Hawarden--they were going to continue to get the shaft.
Wasn't good. Wasn't right. So off they went that morning, 55 sleighs over the snow, west on not much more than footpath, to Hawarden, to take the government away from the evil-doers, the criminals.
Sheriff Tom Dunham met them and said they'd get the goods they were after only over his dead body, or words to that effect. The Hollanders told him they hadn't come all this way to be bested by some tin horn. Furthermore, they said if he really wanted to fight, he'd likely end up taking a bath in the frigid waters of the Big Sioux, less than a mile west.
The Hollanders, that morning, were no church choir. Dunham tossed in his hand when he saw clearly what he was doing was little more than a bluff.
I don't know how they did it really, but the huge safe that kept all the records of early Sioux County, their main concern, was hoisted somehow onto one of those sleighs for the long ride back to Orange City, or what there was of it in 1872. Those Hollanders--my own great-grandfather could well have been among them--wanted the government they thought they'd earned by an election the Calliope crooks ruled invalid, and the safe was all they needed.
Somehow, that safe made it to Orange City, and Orange City became the county seat, as it is today.
Of course, I could be wrong. I'm one of 'em myself, a fifth-generation Dutch Calvinist. And I know my people could be--and still are--more than a little self-righteous now and then. Sure.