For a few years, from maybe 1835 to about 1839, three small villages of Meskwaki were located along the Iowa River, in or near what is now Iowa City. Settlers and would-be settlers hung around—some crossing illegally into what was Indian territory.
There were a small number of trading houses in the area, the first one belonging to the American Fur Company. It was constructed in 1830, and two or three others were built within a few years.
The Indians were known to assist the white settlers. From History of Johnson County, Iowa ( 1883, author unknown) comes the following account:
“Early in the summer of 1838, Patrick Smith moved into the claim cabin which stood on the bank of the Iowa river, in the town site of Napoleon, the first county seat. Mrs. Smith was sister to Philip Clark, and she gave birth to a daughter some time in August, 1838, in that cabin. It is remembered that her delivery was lingering and tedious; that she lay in great suffering about two days: Mr. Trowbridge had got into his horse and started to Bloomington (Muscatine) for a doctor, but was called back by the news that the child was born. Some Indian women of Wapashasheik’s village had heard of the ‘white squaw’s’ condition, and immediately gathered wild herbs or roots from which they made a decoction and gave her to drink; and in a few minutes thereafter she was safely delivered. When Trowbridge was going to the stock range to catch his horse he met some of the Indian men and told them why he must hurry to get his horse and ride to Bloomington for a doctor; they told their midwife women about it—and the result was as above stated.”