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Parker Smith Condit Pioneering Sketches

These are a series of sketchs written by my 2nd great uncle, Parker Smith Condit, son of Silas Whitehead Condit. These sketchs were found and transcribe by Marianna Edmonds, daughter of Mercedes Crane Edmonds on August 18, 1992 and were graciously shared by her mother. The originals are in the possession of Mercedes Crane Edmonds, a 2nd great neice of Silas who still lives in the town of Little Sioux, Iowa. Mercedes grandmother, Hannah Condit was Silas' sister and married Issac Ward Crane.


Omaha, Nebraska December 10, 1914

Silas Whitehead Condit, born to Jeptha Condit and Charlotte Smith Condit July 17, 1819; was a shoemaker by trade. Early in life he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, and was ordained to that ministry. At the time Joseph Smith, organizer of that church was mobbed in Nauvoo, Illinois, June 27, 1844, my father, Silas Whitehead Condit, with other members of the church, moved their families across the river. When the families were safely out of the mob's reach the men went back to fight, the wives of the party run the bullets to carry on the fight.

Later on Brigham Young took to himself the leadership of the Church, and in the spring of 1846 they started for Salt Lake. My father and his family were in the party. They reached the Missouri River opposite the present site of Omaha in the spring of 1847, and founded the town of Kainsville, now Council Bluffs. My father built the third house in Kainsville. Soon after this Brigham Young began advocating the doctrine of poligamy. My father and several others could not accept Young's ideas on poligamy and left the colony.

In the spring of 1848 my father hitched up his oxen, and loaded his family and a few household goods into the wagon, and started north to the country where the valleys of the Little Sioux and the Missouri Rivers join. This was the hunting ground of five different Indian tribes, and at this time was unknown to white men. There were of course no roads and no bridges, and when he came to a river that could not be forded, he would swim his oxen across, tie a rope to a wagon tongue, drag it over, then make a raft for the family and goods.

In the fall of 1848, we arrived on the banks of the Little Sioux River, near where the town of Little Sioux now stands. Father and Mother built a house out of logs, such as they could handle and covered it with bark cut from cottonwood trees. The fireplace was built out of sod; there were no windows and the door was made from split planks pinned together with wooden pegs.

Later on other settlers came and father laid out Little Sioux and River Sioux. Father was appointed the first post master in Harrison County, Iowa at Little Sioux. He was also first Justice of the Peace, and as such preformed the first marriage ceremony in the county, Silas Ellis to Lucinda Henderson. He went to this wedding dressed in his best suit of buckskin, for which he killed the deer and tanned the hides, mother had made the suit, using for thread, dried sinews from the deers spine.

In his later days father had a farm. He would sell some produce to pay his expenses and go out and preach the gospel until his money was gone, and come back for another supply and go back again. He died in 1879, a strong believer in Christ and his church.

This sketch is written by his son, born to Silas Whitehead Condit and Julia N. Condit on May 3, 1843-Parker Smith Condit.

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Omaha, Nebraska January 15, 1915
Parker Smith Condit, born to Silas Whitehead and Julia N. Condit, May 3, 1843 at Sunbery, Ohio.

By occupation a carpenter and contractor. Politically a democrat until 1902, when I joined the socialist party and still vote that ticket. When I was about fifteen years of age I was baptized in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A few years later I was ordained a deacon in the Pleasant Grove branch of said church and still hold to that faith.

When I was little more than four years old my father moved to the Little Sioux River, where the town of Little Sioux is now located. My playmates were with Indian children, with the exception of my brother John Henry. Our clothing consisted of buckskin shirt and trousers, and buckskin moccasins, coonskin caps and buffalo coats, all made by our mother. Our provisions consisted of what we could raise in the ground, our meat was wild deer, turkey, ducks, geese, and prairie chickens, and catfish. We had plenty of wild honey and cornbread. Our coffee was made from corn, and wild tea grew on the prairies. For medicine we gathered herbs from the woods as directed by the Indian doctors.

Father had a corn cracker pinned to a tree, its hopper held perhaps a peck of shelled corn. This was operated by a crank turned by hand. In this we ground our meal. After other white people moved to the country they would come for miles to Condit's mill with their shelled corn on their shoulder and grind their grist.

Our only lights were from the fire-place, and from fish oil and deer tallow put in a saucer with pieces of rag, braided and put in for a wick. This light was called slut. One winter day when father was away and mother was washing, five buck indians came in, pushed us children away from the fire and sat down. When mother asked them to move they made faces at her and refused to move. Mother picked up a heavy iron shovel intending to hit one of them on top of the head with the edge of it, but it turned in her hands and came down flat giving him a heavy blow. At this the Indians all jumped up and shook hands with her and called her heap brave squaw. (They called all men bucks and women squaws). All the indians left the house except an Omaha chief called Podeke, who had been standing in a corner. He remained till father came and would let no other Indians in.

Another time three Indians came after we had gone to bed, and smashed in the door. One fell over the plank table standing in the middle of the room, and which contained all our dishes. (We had no cupboard). He began putting the contents of the dishes in the buffalo skin he had tied around himself for a coat. Another was talking to father and the third sitting by the fire with his gun pointed at father, and kept fooling with the lock. Mother, who was in bed, said to father, "Silas, do you see that Indian with his gun pointed at you?" Father answered, "Yes," then mother jumped up seized the rifle standing at the head of her bed, cocked and leveled it at the head of the Indian with the gun. Father took the rifle away from her, and put it back in its place. The Indians then all ran out leaving everything as they had found it.

If it were not for the lack of space I could mention a number of times they came in to kill us, but were frightened away. They called my father "Tunger-maw-he", meaning Big Knife. The Indians killed and scalped a neighbor family consisting of a man and wife and five children. After taking the contents of the house they burned it. This happened only seven miles from our home.

The first wheat flour I remember of seeing; I was seven or eight years old when father brought us a few pounds on his pony from Kainsville. (Now Counci1 Bluffs) At that time we had five neighbor families, mother made bisquits of flour and asked them all in to dine with us. We thought it was a grand feast. A short time after this I saw my first cook stove, called a shangha. It was a funny looking thing.

I never had more than seven or eight terms of schooling. The first term of school I attended was taught by my cousin, Alexander T. Crane, in Little Sioux, Iowa, in the winter of 1857. The teacher had to board around with patrons of the school, week about as part pay for teaching. The rest of his salary was paid in garden produce. The school house was built of logs chinked with mud. There were pegs put in the walls and a board laid on them for desks and the seats were slabs with pegs put in for legs, so the scholars all sat in a row around the room facing the wall, and had to turn around to face the teacher.

I built the first frame house for Alexander T. Crane in the early fall of 1869 on his farm near Little Sioux. This house had the first pine shingles used in this part of the country. The rest of the lumber used in the house was all cotton-wood for which I cut the logs from my own timber, hauled them to the mill belonging to father and myself, sawed the lumber, kiln dried it, and dressed it by hand. This house still stands with the original roof, and is used as a granary.

I had the first charter to operate a ferry across the Missouri River at the mouth of the Little Sioux River. I built a flat boat, and put on a horse power for my first ferry. Later on I bought a small steam-boat and later this boat was used to transfer wood and lumber to Omaha.

I was deputy post-master for a few years at Little Sioux, when the mail was carried by stage. I also served four years as deputy sheriff of Harrison County, Iowa. In the spring of 1885, I moved to Omaha, Nebraska, and now conduct a small grocery store at 3602 Lake Street.

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Omaha, Nebraska January 15, 1915

My father's brother, Amos W. Condit, was a shoemaker by trade. He was killed in the year of 1847 at a little place called Traders Point located on the Missouri River near Council Bluffs, Iowa. Afterwards, the river changed its course and left a body of water which is now called Lake Manawa. The town was surveying a road through a piece of ground owned by a man named Gean, and he stood in his door with a rifle in his hand and swore, "The first man that crossed the ground he would kill." My Uncle did not know this, his shop was but a block or two away and he heard loud talking and saw a crowd of men and thought he would go and see what was the matter. He pulled off his apron and laid it on the bench and started to where the crowd was, and had to cross this piece of ground and when he had got part way over, Gean shot and killed him without warning. My father with others took Gean to Fort Des Moines in an open wagon, which was the nearest place of court and lodged him in a log jail. Afterwards, Gean broke jail, went west, got into a riot and was killed. This was the story told by my father. He was there at the time it happened.

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Omaha, Nebraska January 15, 1915

My grandmother, Charlotte Smith Condit, died at the house of her son Silas Whitehead Condit, near where the town of Little Sioux is now located in Harrison County, Iowa. In the spring of 1854 she came to live with us, and said "She came to die with us, and that it would not be long." She was with us a few months when taken sick and begged father not to bury her body there, for she was afraid the wolves would dig it up. Father promised her he would not. She died December, 1854, during a bad blizzard, so father had to make a rough box for her body and keep it in the back room for three weeks until the weather got so he could hitch up his oxen to a sled and take it twenty-two miles for burial.

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All of the above sketches were written by Parker Smith Condit when he lived at 3602 Lake Street, Omaha, Nebraska. He had been asked by the Condit Family Association to provide information on the children of his father and as much information as he knew on the families of his brothers and sisters. These sketches were part of the results but one of them ever made their way back to the Condit Family Association in Newark, New Jersey.

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