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Life of an Early Pioneer

posted May 28, 2018, 1:57 PM by James Nennemann
By Sherry Perkins

Editor’s note: The information below is taken from an article celebrating the life of Seymore Rhode. It was published in the “Randolph Enterprise,” May 30, 1935 a few days after his death. The article was written by Rev. Peter Jacobs of Randolph.

Seymore T. Rhode was born June 23, 1852 in a log cabin a few miles southwest of Tabor, Iowa.  Sidney was but a year old when he entered the world.  He was married to Violet Allensworth on October 24, 1880. Six children called him “father.” His own father was Joseph Rhodes who how came by wagon train from Indian in 1851. It required three months to get here as they drove cattle with them.  His great-grandfather was a master of a Southern Planation and therefore an owner of slaves.  This great-grandfather became disgusted with slave traffic, so dispersed his interests and came north to a free territory.

The cabin where Seymore was born was a one room structure typical of the simple, rough shelters that housed most of the early pioneers in Fremont County.  Animal skins were used to cover the doors-there were no windows- a log fireplace provided cooking option and heated the cabin.  There was an attic in the cabin that filled with snow during a terrible snow storm several years after his birth. To empty the attic, they carried out 22 bushels of snow.  This snow storm was argument enough to call for a new shelter. Therefore a new house was built on the homestead in 1859 and it was home for seven years. 

Wild deer and turkey provided meat for the family. Indians were seen often. They would return from their reservations in Kansas and Nebraska because hunting on this side of the Missouri was more lucrative.  One day his mother was alone with the children when her brother-in-law, Daniel Rhode, saw some Indians coming from the direction of Daniel’s cabin. He feared the worst. He found the Indians had tied up his wife hand and foot, trying to scare her into revealing where the family stored their meat.  She refused to divulge the secret place. The Indians left and the family felt it was because they heard Daniel coming back.  

Seymore ‘s mother spun, wove the cloth and made all of their clothes. She went into town, Sidney, once a year. She was so careful of her meager house hold equipment that she expected her sewing needle to last the whole year.  It was one of the items on her annual shopping list.

 Seymore started as a farmer but in a few years moved to Tabor where he was a partner in a drugstore. He also worked in hardware and groceries. When the new railroad came down the Nishan Botna River Valley in 1878, he took up residence in the newly forming town of Randolph, IA.  Here he ventured into business for himself -hardware, lumber and implements.  Later he handled grain and coal.  He was a supporter of every community endeavor.  For many years his home was the largest, most modern one in the village. The house still stands at the corner of Lambert and Randolph streets. He is leaving a legacy that will be difficult for anyone to surpass.