Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


The first white man to live in Iowa land was probably a French Canadian trader named Jean Marie Cardinal. He had been a trader with the Pawnee tribe as early as 1750. Cardinal married the daughter of a Pawnee chief named Careche-Cormanche and also bought an Indian slave named Nicolas Colas.

In 1754, the three moved to Wisconsin. Cardinal built a cabin at Prairie du Chien and this was the first permanent white settlement in the Upper Mississippi area. He became interested in land west of the Mississippi where Indians told him were deposits of lead. In 1760 he built cabins and brought laborers to work mines in what became Iowa.

As a trader and miner, Cardinal became wealthy and developed a bitter hatred of the British. He lived on the Iowa side of the Mississippi during the Revolutionary War. When he learned that the British were advancing an army down the Mississippi and planned to attack and capture St. Louis, Cardinal hurried to St. Louis to warn the Spanish authorities.

During the siege when the British attacked St. Louis, Cardinal was killed. Thus it can be said that a white man living on Iowa soil died fighting the British during the Revolutionary War.

(Hawkeye Tales. Hubert L. Moeller. Lake Mills Printing, 1953.)

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick