I have been watching a couple of episodes of Ken Burn’s documentary The Civil War. It reminded me of some of the things I have read about while looking in to the lives of the characters associated with the Poweshiek skipper.
Henry Parker, whose name is on the description of the butterfly, preached at the North Congregational Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts from about 1860 until 1865. He and his wife Helen moved to Iowa at the end of the Civil War so Henry could start his new career as a college professor. He preached a sermon to an all-black congregation on December 28, 1862.
Helen wrote the Sunday-School book, Rambles after Land Shells during the height of the war. Sometime during the war Helen apparently lost her infant son.
Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederacy. He received Black Hawk in 1832 when he was a captive, and made sure he was removed from his shackles and chains and treated humanely, although he remained captive.
General Winfield Scott was a general at the start of the Civil War. He negotiated the “Black Hawk Treaty of 1832” (which Black Hawk did not sign, but Keokuk and Poweshiek did) that removed Poweshiek, Keokuk, and others to lands fifty miles west of the Mississippi.
The documentary also mentioned Walt Whitman. There is a book I have seen that contains letters written by Walt Whitman and includes one to Helen’s sister, inviting Henry, Helen, and her sister to some kind of show. Sorry, I don’t remember the sister’s name right now, nor the name of the book.
William Seward (of “Seward’s Folly” fame) was a member of Lincoln’s cabinet. William Seward apparently knew Abijah Fitch, (Helen Fitch Parker’s father) and the two took an extended trip in their later years.
Does it all fit together? Maybe. Maybe not.