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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Paws on a Tree

A bear walks into a bar and the bartender asks what him “What will you have?’ The bear goes “Can I have a gin?” The bartender goes and grabs a gin and comes back and hands the bear his gin. The bear goes “And tonic.” The bartender says “Why such the big pause?” The bear looks down at his paws and says “I don’t know—from my Mom I guess”.

As the bear in our story realizes, inherited traits from parents aren’t just passed out in random fashion. Inherited traits are passed through the genes of parents to children. I believe everyone stops and wonders why they are like they are. Michael Crichton once said— “If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ” As a County we are at a significant time in our history. A time of transition and change, I believe it is important to know where we come from— “our ‘tree”.

The first settlement of Tama County was recorded in the spring of 1849. The honor of the first settlement belongs to Isaac Asher, a farmer from Shelby Indiana. He settled about one half mile west of the present site of Butlerville (near present day Montour) in Indian Village Township.  Asher settled first in Marshall County, on May 18, but the beauty of Indian Township attracted his attention, and in the spring of 1849, he permanently settled in Tama County with his wife and eight children, and was the first white settler in the County. He broke the first sod and planted the first crop of corn.

The second family that settled in Tama County, were those of Anthony, William and Robert Wilkinson, who came from Coshocton County, Ohio, and permanently located in what is now Salt Creek Township (near present day Chelsea), on the 12th day of October, 1849— they were accompanied by their mother and three sisters. Anthony and William had been soldiers in the Mexican war and had just received their land warrants, and in due time located the same. Their brother Robert purchased land near them in the same township. The Ashers and Wilkinsons were the first and only settlers in 1849.

So what did we learn about the foundation of Tama County? What did we learn from the planters of the Tama County “tree”? For me, I learned that Tama County wasn’t built on get rich quick gold grab of California— it was built by two families that worked hard and cleared and farmed the land with a labor of love.  It was that labor that bonds families together and demonstrates the true value and importance of family— that is who we are, for that is where we came from.


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