There's nothing especially complicated about why people moved to Iowa in
general and Lucas County in particular. Our ancestors behaved then exactly
as we do today, only the economy has changed. We go where the jobs are. They
went where the land was.
Although there had been settlement along Iowa's east coast during the 1830s,
the state really opened up during the 1840s. South central Iowa opened up in
1843 with expiration of the Sac and Fox title beyond the Red Rock Line,
thence in stages farther west to the Missouri. Settlement commenced in Lucas
County during 1846, and so on. Iowa was the frontier. This was where you
could buy land for $1.25 an acre from the government. The other great
farming states --- Ohio, Illinois, Indiana --- were full-up. Missouri had
been settled earlier and the best land was gone. Legally you couldn't settle
west of Iowa because at that time the Plains were Indian territory. Iowa was
the best game in town.
Land at $1.25 an acre was a terrific deal. If you were poorer, you could
afford the farm here that you couldn't afford in Indiana or Ohio. If you
were richer, there was lots of money to be made by purchasing land for $1.25
an acre, then selling it for more to later settlers. If you were an aspiring
merchant or professional, you had a better chance in a new market than you
did in an established market. If you had a large farming family in Ohio or
Indiana where the good land was occupied, you headed west where your sons
and daughters had a better chance of getting a good start.
Family followed family into Iowa and friends followed friends.
All sorts of interesting groups settled in Iowa, but not because of
persecution. Only the native population, persecuted and driven out, and the
Mormons, persecuted and driven through, were motivated by fear. The land
drew the others, as did the increased likelihood that their unique
communities had a better chance of surviving intact in sparsely populated
places. These include The Community of True Inspiration (the Amana
Colonies), Old Order Amish, the Icarians in Adams County, Abner Kneeland's
utopian community called Salubria near Farmington, and others.
When the Plains state opened up, they were settled by Arkansans,
Missourians, Iowans and Minnesotans who moved on because the land was cheap
and opportunity beckoned. And so it went.
It was always the land and the opportunity that drew them.