English Colony - Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb

The English Colony of Lee and Van Buren Counties
Researched and recorded by    Erma DeRosear  
New Additions to the English Colony from Erma's family records  May 2002

Snyder-Gabby (Old English Cemetery)   Earliest burials in Van Buren Co., near the first campsite.

Ninety four people, members of the British Immigrant Mutual Aid Society which was organized in England in the mid 1840's came to Lee Co. Most of the members were very poor. This group left London on Feb 14, 1845 and sailed from Gravesend on or about the eighteenth to come to America and seek a better life. The society chartered the "George Washington of Baltimore Maryland to bring them to America. The group had passage in the hold of the ship, blankets were hung for partitions for each family. Their provisions were vegetables, salted meat and fish. Everything was cooked in a net bag that was tagged so each family could get it's own. The cooking was done on one big stove.

In England they were vassals, living in poverty, with little hope for them or their children improving their lives. J.B. Newhall, a newspaper man from Burlington, was lecturing in England. He told them of the opportunities available in the United States and in Iowa. The group made their plans to leave for America.

After a voyage of seven weeks, the group arrived at Keokuk, Iowa sometime in May. They could not go up the river to Burlington because of the rapids below Montrose. William Bateman, leader of the group, found that they could buy land if they went a little farther north of Keokuk. He purchased a section of land for $1.25 per acre and received the deed for the same. It was thought if each family had 10 acres they would be able to support their families. Most of the land was prairie. Conquering the slough, or prairie grass, to plant crops was a great obstacle that lay ahead of them. There was only one farmer in their group.

The English Colony settlement was 4 miles west of La Crew in Cedar Township, Lee Co. Most gave up on the idea of farming and many left the area. Some are known to have moved on to St Louis, Missouri. A few of the remaining group were able to acquire more land from the ones that left. By the year 1924 there were only three living on the original ground

Only a few remained, leaving a legacy to their families, to prosper and enjoy the good life in America and Lee Co. Names relating to the English Colony; Bateman, Brestow, Thomas, Lightfoot, Langwith, Clark, Ware, Beard, Atkinson, Etheredge, De Rosear. Humphrey, Cook and Sivil.

Notes: These people settled near the border of Lee and Van Buren Co. They lived and died in both counties. You will find the English colony families buried in the Van Buren cemeteries, Bonaparte City Cemetery and Old English Cemetery, and in Lee Co., the Sharon Cemetery in Harrison Twp.

See Van Buren County Gravestone Photo web site for selected gravestone photos for Snyder-Gabby cemetery.

Reprinted with permission thanks to Sally Youngquist, Lee Co. IAGenWeb Project.

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