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Dr. Isaac Galland

This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

When Dr. Isaac Galland published his Iowa Immigrant Guide in 1840, outlining the opportunities in Iowa and the kind of immigrant likely to do well there, he knew what he was talking about. Unlike other authors who often wrote their guides after a single pleasant stroll across the prairie, Gallant had crossed the Mississippi and founded the village of Nashville in 1829, four years before the Black Hawk Purchase opened Iowa to permanent settlement.

At Nashville, Galland had established the first school in Iowa, had begun Iowa's second newspaper in 1837, and initiated two magazines devoted to Iowa.

Galland's Immigrant Guide asked the question, "Can a poor man get a living in Iowa." The answer was, yes. Its fertile fields, plentiful streams and lakes, its beautiful undulating plains, all provided opportunity for those willing to work hard.

But Galland warned the riffraff not to even try Iowa. The so-called savage Sauk and Fox who inhabit Iowa are mild children compared to the dregs of white civilization. If one compares the few Indian atrocities to the massacre of Sauk at Bad Axe at the end of the Black Hawk War, and "with every other incident of savage cruelty known to the American people," wrote Galland, "the whites suffer by comparison.

And Galland knew riffraff as well as he knew Iowa. As a young man he had gone to Mexico to search for gold, been imprisoned by Spanish authorities, drifted back to Indiana during the War of 1812, became a counterfeiter in Illinois until competition drove him out. In jail, he had read a few medical texts and set himself up as a doctor in Oquawka. In between, he had speculated in the fur trade and been personal secretary to the Prophet, Joseph Smith, at Nauvoo.

Galland's Iowa Immigrant Guide made it clear that he didn't want his kind in Iowa. Not because it would ruin the idyllic state, but because he didn't want competition. Left to himself in Iowa, Galland put his counterfeiting experience to good use by forging land warrants in the prime real estate known as the Half-Breed Tract. Galland thrived on his illegal activities until in 1850, ten years after his Iowa Immigrant Guide, he himself became the subject of a book called Villainy Exposed and was indicted by Iowa authorities.

Rock Island Lines is underwritten by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and Augustana College, Rock Island.

Beginning 1995, historian and folklorist Dr. Roald Tweet spun his stories of the Mississippi Valley to a devoted audience on WVIK. Dr. Tweet published three books as well as numerous literary articles and recorded segments of "Rock Island Lines." His inspiration was that "kidney-shaped limestone island plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River," a logical site for a storyteller like Dr. Tweet.