Folks say the curse goes back to when Meeks cheated Joseph Smith in 1837. Smith and his followers come out from New York looking for the Promised Land. Smith had a land claim signed by the territorial governor. Them Mormons was so poor they pushed handcarts full of all their earthly possessions.
The spot was prime, ten square miles on the winding Des Moines river, rich black soil with groves of trees in the river glen. Smith named it Elah.
But somehow Meeks got that claim away from Smith, got it changed so it said it was him who owned it. Meeks had his boys roust out them Mormons, push them onto the ferryboat at gunpoint. He changed the town’s name to Bonaparte and that was that.
Subsequent years brought first floods, then several killing frosts. A fire burned up downtown. Finally, a tornado.
And Meeks alive through most of it.