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Heritage & Genealogy & Plymouth County Iowa


My name is Martha and figured it's time to create a heritage page about my county,and various family history here in Plymouth County Iowa.



It's farm country,and those who migrated here in the last century,pretty much took up farming as a living.


We're not the most famous county in Iowa,and the history here in itself may not be numerous as some of the neighboring counties,but the historical events that happened in this area,and the heritage behind them is still definitely worthy of the history books.


However,Lewis & Clark did make it up this way,and we're they camped later on became Sioux City.So that's some historical significance with sharing the origins of our county,even though 3-4 counties can claim this here in the state.


Even though a French Fur Trader by the name Theophile Bruguier is officially credited with being the first to settle here.It's kind of amazing the French were the first of many who settled communities across the U.S.,but later on the heritage that continued the town/communities to grow seem to be other nationalities.


Sioux City officially became a township sometime in 1857,and the population in the county really started to grow.It's hard to believe the population was only around 400 back then,but back then that was considered a good sized community west of the Mississippi.


The town grew greatly in size with people coming from all over to settle here,and back in the day there was a lot of business here,and a person could actually get a job in a variety of fields,such as a farm hand,the saw mill,working on cattle farms,to a job associated with the rivers here.The rivers were the main source of transportation of good coming into,and exiting Sioux City.



By the time 1880 came around,Plymouth County had a population of 7,500.Then in 1884 to population grew 15,514,and it 1886 it was  22,358,and the population almost doubled by the time 1890 came around.


There was plenty of work to be had,and the city itself was very modern,and ahead of its time as far as technology goes.


The Story Behind the Sioux City Museum


Another interesting piece of history here is the Sioux City Museum.The museum itself is history,and I'll share the reason why with you.


The story starts,and it's not a story,it's actually a factual case of fraud/theft by those who swindle a community.These types of people have been around since the dawn of time,so theft by swindle by all means is nothing new,and Sioux City is not the first victim to such dishonesty.


The man's name was John Peirce,and he got away with his swindle for over a hundred years.Even after his death for almost a century he was considered a hero to many,but as records come to light,researchers exposed his swindle,and now he has this piece of history attached to his name.This guy even had streets here named after him,talk about a wake up to the community,but it's part of our heritage,and we look back at him in a different scope now.


Let us begin.


There was a financial panic in 1893,and most all the leading businessmen here in town felt the crunch.Many went broke,and the other half went broke,and in debt making the situation even worse for them.In situations like that back in the day,there were no second chances when a business went belly up.Lenders didn't take chances in those days,maybe they would of if they could have charged some of the interest rates they have in today's market,but that's just a pun to the story of John Peirce.


Anyways,while other businessmen were working in an honest way to pay back their debts,Mr.Peirce was looking to dishonest ways,and just to get out of town all together.He was calling it quits.


You have to understand the influence,and the respect he had form so many.He was a decorated wounded Civil War hero,and he was Mr.Sioux City himself in helping the town boom,and grow.


The museum as I mentioned earlier,was his mansion here on the north side of town.


He held a rigged nation wide lottery,and sold 1 $ tickets.He sold around 40,000 tickets,and the winner happened to be a businessman he was deeply in debt with,and records that came to light recently show the title of his house was transferred over to the winner several days before the drawing.


However,Mr. John Peirce wrote a very sincere letter good-bye to Sioux City that was published in its local newspaper.He did get away with it,and played right up to the very end as a trusted man.We're fortunate he didn't swindle the life saving of another,and stuck to his lottery ticket scheme,but perhaps he decided with that route because they payout would be higher.We'll never know.


If you're ever in the area,stop in and check out his old mansion.As I said earlier it's now a museum,and I guess you can even rent the place for weddings,and such.I'm sure a lot of good conversation arises there,and it looks like a very interesting place.There is a lot of history connected with the mansion,so it's worthy of a visit.


When it comes to the heritage here in Plymouth County..Oh boy do we have it!


Norwegians,Polish,the Swedes,Lithuanians,and even the Spanish celebrate their history here in the county,and there is a bit of history attached to all.


It's nice to see the community celebrate,and embrace their heritage.


The best ways to look into a communities heritage is to ask questions,visit museums,and maybe grab a cup of coffee at one of the many cafe's,or coffee shops here in town.Many of the retired farmers,and not retired of course frequent these locations,and boy do they have some stories to tell.Talk to the elderly,and ask them how far do their roots go back here in the community,and odds are you'll get an all day conversation out of them.


Another source I recommend is the "Louis & Clark Interpretive Center".Go there for a visit,take your time to soak in all they have to offer,and you'll walk away a personified historian on Plymouth County.


I can't express enough the information on the past this Interpretive Center has to offer,and one thing I really like is it has a lot of artifacts from the Native American that were present here at one time also,and has the history of our county starting from its birth.You won't find a better place,that will give you a better understanding our county.So please if the history & heritage of Plymouth County interests you,then make this place the first stop for historical information.



For further genealogy & heritage research just check the links here.I have a little bit of my family history below,and would be glad to help those with Irish roots in the area with questions,or surname help.I'm not an expert in the tracking down part,but know a variety of resources I check to get my data.


I'll be adding more information in the days ahead.I really enjoy the heritage of our county,and find all who live here interesting people,and every one of them having an interesting history.


Surname "Gavins" in the Plymouth County Area



I will start off with the better of my information on my family tree,and dwell back deeper when I have more information on the past of us Gavins.


At present moment most of our family is here in Iowa.A good majority of us reside here in Plymouth County.One of the best places to live,and one of the best places to raise a family.


Life in the old country (Ireland) was difficult in the 19th century,not to mention difficulties as well in the 20th century.So many of us ventured to the new world looking for a better life.


Here are some interesting facts regarding the "Gavin " name.Our last name was spelled that way,but to many Gavin's in the same area added an S to my family's last name.


Gavin's who settled here in the U.S. in the 17th century.


 * Daniel Gavin in 1654 arrived in Virginia

 * James Gavin in 1685 in New Jersey


Gavin's who settled here in the U.S. in the 18th century.


  * John Gavin in 1713 in Virginia

  * Anthony Gavin in 1735 in Virginia

  * John Gavin in 1773 in Pennsylvania

  * Thomas Gavin in 1774 in Maryland


Gavin's who settled here in the U.S. in the 19th century.


  * Michael Gavin in 1851 in New Orleans Louisiana

  * William Gavin in 1851 in San Francisco California

  * Joaquina Gavin settled in Puerto Rica in 1876

  *  Patrick Gavin in Philadelphia in 1880


So as you see,the Gavin family has an interesting heritage.So now onto my family tree,and hope to meet others to share information,and matbe compare notes.I'm always learning something new while looking into my family history.



Descendants of Patrick James Gavins


Patrick James Gavins Arrived in Virginia November 23 1914 in good spirits & good health.



He married a beautiful Irish girl by the name Deloris McGuire in 1918 and they gave birth to little Jimmy,Patrick Jr in 1920,and Thomas in 1922.


In 1927 they made their way west to settle in Minnesota with the hopes of taking up farming once again.I believe both Patrick & Deloris we raised on farms,as were there parents,and their parents before them.I never thought much on Irish farmers.There are a lot of Irish farmers in Ireland,but you don't hear to much about them here.It's maybe a good thing,because the only mention of Irish farmers in the history books in the "Irish Potato Famine".


Things didn't go as expected,and they ventured south some for work,and a good place to live.When they arrived in Sioux City Iowa.They knew they found home,and their roots would flourish to this day.


They then gave birth to another child of the name James Gavins.He was officially born in Sioux City.


Of course their children carried on the tradition of having children themselves.


The Gavins children also had children and I'll start with their first child Jimmy.In 1937 he married Ivy Johnson.They gave birth to a George Gavins in 1938.That's my grandpa,and he passed on in 2008.But he left a legacy of us children behind,and without him,and his love none of us would be here today.


George married Janet Olson and they had 3 children.Myself Martha,Joan and Clayton. 


All us brothers & sisters reside here in Plymouth County and Iowa we consider home,and can't ever imagine us leaving this beautiful state. 


Now let me move on to my children,and grandchildren.Then I'll add my sisters family,and my brother Clayton's family.


I was born in 1956 (Martha) and in 1973 I married Chris Anderson.Here are our children,and I'll separate by paragraph their children.


In 1975 of April we gave birth to our first child.We named him Willie and he was a handful up until his 5th birthday,but none the less he's been a blessing,and the best son any parent could wish for.He also added a wonderful addition to our family.Our first grandson.


In 1995 Willie married Barbara Johson,and the gave birth the following year bringing a little boy into the world,and giving him the name Cody. 



My sister Joan was born in 1960 and in 1980 she married Steve Carver.They had 3 children.Barb,Janice,and Claire.


Barb was born in 1981 and married Randy Evans in 2001 and they had 2 children.A little girl they named Jade in February of 2001,and just last year a little boy they names Corey.(2011).


Clayton Gavins was born in 1963 and in 1987 married Elizabeth Paulson.They gave birth to a set of the most adorable twin girls you could imagine in June of 1990.Paula & Christine Gavins.


Paula is now engaged to Brian Foster and we're all keeping an eye to see if this couple adds another addition to the Gavins family tree.


This is just the later branches of our family tree.Next week I'll be adding our family history in Ireland,and what inspired our journey to chance it in a New World.


Interesting enough with great surprise we can track our heritage as far back as 1458 in Ireland.Yes,some of the research lacks some data,but all in all we are off to a good start and thankful we could go back as far as we did with the limited records of that time.


Those were certainly the days,and it would be so interesting to go back in a time machine,and see for ourselves what life was back in those days.


So right now laying out my notes to add more o this page on the Gavins history.


Any questions you may have,you can mail me at


Thanks & happy genealogy hunting!!