from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906
Orin Fleming is one of the pioneer residents of Mahaska county and now lives on section 15, Prairie township. Few citizens are more familiar with the history of this county when it was a frontier district and he relates many interesting incidents of those early days and the methods of living at that time. He was born in Wood county, West Virginia, December 17, 1843, and is a son of Robert Fleming, who is mentioned on another page of this work. The father was born in Harrison county, West Virginia, September 3, 1811, and died upon the home farm in Richland township, June 28, 1894. In early manhood he started for Indiana, but on reaching Wood county, West Virginia, about one hundred miles from his home, remained there to teach school. While there he married Amy Maddox and after farming for a time in West Virginia started, in March, 1852, for Iowa, traveling by way of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to Keokuk, where they were met by Amos Bartlett, with whom Mr. Fleming had arranged to move their effects. They stopped first at Primrose, Iowa, and after several months came on to Mahaska county, reaching Oskaloosa on the second day of their travel and just before dark crossed South Skunk river. It was two o'clock at night when they reached the cabin of Amos Bartlett. The prairie was on fire that night, making it as light as day. With their family and the men who had hauled their goods from Primrose then was a company of twenty-five persons to breakfast at the Bartlett home the next morning. Robert Fleming had a sack of flour and some pork, which they bad brought with them. They set up a cook stove out of doors and did their cooking on it. For a number of years the family shared in the usual hardships and privations of pioneer life. Orin Fleming had but little education except what he gathered from reading and observation. In West Virginia he attended school for only three terms, his father being the teacher during two terms. After coming to Iowa he went to school but little for he was soon old enough to split rails, chop wood, build fences and work upon the home farm and aid in the support of the family. He made his home with his parents until twenty-one years of age, when in company with two other men he made a trip to the west, where he drove a team through Missouri and then went into Colorado as far as Cayote, which was then the terminus of the Union Pacific Railroad. They started in 1866 and were gone for nearly two years. Mr. Fleming left with two hundred dollars and returned with four hundred dollars. They lost over one thousand dollars, however, by selling some buffalo hides to a man in Colorado, who took them to St. Louis and never came back with the money. They had often sold to him before and in all business transactions he had seemed honest and reliable, so they did not hesitate to trust him on this occasion. On the trip they killed between three and four hundred buffaloes, also a large number of wolves and geese and ducks without number, so that their table was frequently supplied with fresh game. Mr. Fleming kept a diary or expense account while on the trip and some of the items are interesting, showing the condition of prices at that time: "One hundred and fifty bushels of corn at two dollars and a half per bushel; boots twelve dollars per pair; one sack flour ten dollars." The Union Pacific was under course of construction while Mr. Fleming was in the west and the workmen were guarded by soldiers from Hayes City to protect them from the Indians. On his return from the frontier Mr. Fleming went to work on a farm by the month. His father had given him forty acres of land and he purchased another forty acres, on which he built a frame house, there making his home for two years after his marriage. His was a strenuous life, for he worked untiringly in his efforts to get a start and develop his farm. He bought trees at one dollar per hundred feet of lumber in the tree and paid one dollar per hundred to have it sawed into ten and twelve foot lumber. He cut the trees, hauled them to the mill and got out the posts, and he built a five-hoard fence and thus enclosed his forty-acre farm. In 1874, however, he sold that property lying in Richland township and purchased eighty acres on section 15, Prairie township, where he now resides. This had been broken and was enclosed with a pole fence. There was a plank house, sixteen by twenty-two feet, upon the place and a prairie stable with thatched roof. Mr. Fleming remodeled the house and lived in it until about twelve years ago, when he built a large square frame residence which is one of the commodious and pleasant homes of the township. He also built a frame barn, sheds and other buildings, has good fences and the house is well painted. He also owns eighty acres a half mile west of where he now resides together with forty acres in Richland township and five acres of woodland in Poweshiek county. His land is all under a good state of cultivation, but there are no buildings upon any of the tracts save that upon which he resides, as the remainder of his land is used simply for the production of crops. On the 31st of March, 1869, Mr. Fleming was married to Miss Elizabeth Anna Evans, who was born in West Virginia, April 19, 1847, and died February 1, 1906. The parents were Hugh and Sarah Ann Evans and the family was an early one in the county. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Fleming were born eight children, of whom six are living: Ackley R., who was born January 15, 1870, married Emma Johnson and is living in Portland, Oregon; Oris Clark, born March 3, 1872, married Mattie Watland, and resides in Barton county, Missouri; Anna, born in 1875, became the wife of William F. Kindig and died in New Sharon, December 4 ,1903; Irena, born October 18, 1880, died at the age of three years, eleven months and two days; Jessie M., born May 10, 1881, is the wife of Thomas Edgar Lewis, a resident of New Sharon; Grover C., born May 21, 1884, is at home; Laura E., born March 3, 1888, is also at home; Inez M., born May 3, 1892, completes the family. Mr. Fleming has always been a democrat and has served as school director and road supervisor but has never been a politician in the sense of office seeking. He is a good citizen, honorable in all his dealings and is a well informed iran. He represents one of the old and prominent pioneer families of the county, having for more than a half century resided within its borders and from actual experience can relate incidents of pioneer life which show the rapid and marvelous changes that have occurred as the county has been reclaimed for the purpose of civilization and improvement.
Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy