Tuesday, August 17, 2010

George walked from New York to Iowa--TWICE.

George Frain (father of Mary Catherine Frain Smith).

Mary Painter Frain (mother of Mary Catherine Frain Smith)
George Frain was my G-G-G-Grandfather. In 1840 he moved from New York to Cedar County, Iowa, between Liberty and Cedar Rapids. He took a farm, 40 acres of unimproved land and built a shanty to live in while he homesteaded it. Hr cut down trees and built a 16x16 foot house with a 16x16 foot lead-to for a bedroom. He sawed out slabs for the doors and the floor. He stayed all summer working. He built a sod fence around the entire 40 acres and dug a ditch outside as a fire barrier and so nothing could jump over.

There were Indians in the neighborhood and many nights he slept on the roof of his shanty. He would hear them come into the room below hunting for food. Once found they would leave.

He raised potatoes, beans, and corn that summer and in the fall after harvesting his crop he walked back to New York. The next spring we returned to Iowa with is wife, Mary and his children, John, Peter, Rachael, Elizabeth, and Mary Catherine (my G-G-Grandmother). With everything they could carry they walked to Pittsburg where they bought a raft with a shanty for shelter. They sailed to the mouth of the Ohio River then up the Mississippi to Muscatine, Iowa. Here they disembarked and traveled by wagon to the farm.

Mary Catherine slept in a trundle bed under her parent’s bed, her sister Margaret was born after they moved here.
This story is from Smith family stories by Violet Leonard written in December 1967.


  1. And yet today most of us can't walk from too far out in the parking lot and will circle endlessly just to get a few steps closer!!

  2. I have distant cousin we've documented walked from NC to IN, twice, before 1820... yes, I'm amazed, as well.
    Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
    and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

  3. Rachel Frain (Goldbeck) was my Great,Great,Great,Great Grandmother so I guess we are related. I have photos of her grave in Vancouver Clark County Washington but I don't have any pictures of Rachel when she was alive, I have no idea what her face looked like.