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BY CHAS. H. S_PARKS.
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Decora H, Iowa :
J AS. ALEX. LEONARD,
Publisher and Bookicller.
Entered according to an act of Congress, in the year 1877,
By C. n. Sparks,
in the office of the Librarian oJ Congress, at Washington.
• . " ..v
Riverside Pkinting House,
J<Io. I Spring Street, Milwaukke, Wis,
OLD SETTLERS OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY,
THIS VOLUME IS
MOST RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED,
BY THE AUTHOR.
The present work is the outgrowth of a series of articles written for
the Republican during the spring of 1875. That spring I came to the
county, with the intention of working for the railroad company, at
Decorah. One week in its employ served to convince me that I was
not fitted for the duties assigned me. I threw up my situation, and
having had experience in the newspaper business, I sought the Repub-
lican office with a desire to obtain a situation. Messrs. Bailey & Bro.
took me into their employ, with the understanding that I should make
collections, and in my rounds, collate material and write historical
sketches of the early settlement of the county. This last proposition —
to write historical sketches — was my own, held out as an inducement to
the publishers of the paper to give me a situation. I entered upon my
duties in the vicinity of Fort Atkinson, and here struck a mine of
historical imformation regarding the early days of the county, that in a
few years more would have been irretrievably lost.
From facts collected regarding this locality, I wrote the first papers
published in the Republican. These were warmly received by the read-
ing public. So great was the interest manifested over the resurrection of
a history that had so long slept, that the editor of the Republican, aftei-
wards, picked up the pen where I had dropped it, and contributed several
very excellent and interesting chapters regarding the early history of the
county, and which, through his kindness, I have been permitted to use
in this book.
Vl HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
The friendly reception which these several articles met with on their
publication, and the deep interest felt in the subject by the early settlers,
led me to believe that a history of the county, published in book form,
would meet with that hearty appreciation and support such an enterprise
would justly merit. I therefore carefully collected and preserved every-
thing pertaining to the history of the county, within my reach, with the
intention of publishing such a work when I thought that the proper
time had arrived. During the present almost universal depression of
business would seem anything but the proper time for its publication,
yet, from force of necessity, I was compelled to issue now, if ever. This
I do at the risk of a severe loss to myself, and with a knowledge that
im]:>erfections may thereby mar its pages that might otherwise have
been prevented, by taking longer time in its preparation.
The present work has been pursued and carried through under many
disadvantages, and in the face of many difficulties. I did not undertake
the compilation of the book until the middle of January, 1877, and my
pecuniary circumstances were such that I could not throw up my situa-
tion, and therefore evenings were the only time left for labor. But these
were faithfully employed, and as a result, in less than three months time,
evening work, the History of Winneshiek County was completed.
I have endeavored, as best I knew how, to make the work as com-
plete, concise and interesting as possible, and hope that I am rightly
deserving a verdict from my severest critics that I have not labored in
I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to the many estimable gentlemen
who have furnished me encouragement, both by deed and word, in my
To Mr. A. K. Bailey I am under many obligations, for access to the
files of the Republican^ from which I gleaned much valuable information,
and for the material aid he has furnished me. The interesting chapter
on Moneek is his.
To Mr. Cyrus Wellington I return my thanks, for the beautiful poem
which closes the military history.
To the following gentlemen, all of whom have either been consulted
regarding the facts herein contained, or have contributed to its pages, 1
return my sincere thanks: Jehu Lewis, M. D. Hesper, J. T. Atkins,
O. J. Clark, J. E. Simpson, K. 1. Weiser, C. R. Willett, C. W. Burdick,
J. B. Kaye, Calmar, for the sketch of Calmar; S. I'ike, Ridgeway, for
the chapter on Ridgeway; John (). Porter and J. ImsIkt, ( )ssinn ; and
Helge Lan gland.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. VII
I would speak a word for the advertisers whose advertisements appear
in the back part of the book, as the success of the undertaking is in a
great measure owing to their Hberal patronage. These men were
actuated by a desire to aid a deserving enterprise.
To Andreas' Atlas of Iowa, I am indebted for information regarding
Decorah, and biographies of some of the eminent men that appear
With these brief explanations and acknowledgements, "The History
OF Winneshiek County " is placed before the public, with the hope
that it will meet the expectations and approbation of even the most
Decorah, Iowa, April ist, 1S77.
Historical Researches — What Prompts Them, and Their Results — The Reward
of the Pioneer — Winneshiek County — Its Streams — Thirty-five Years Ago
—Old Mission— The First Grist Mill i
CHAPTER II— INDIAN HISTORY.
The Winnebagoes — Their Fonner Home — Enjoyments, &c. — Indian History —
Habits and Characteristics — Their Funeral Services — Winneshiek, Head
Chief of the Winnebagoes — " Wachon-Decorah " — Sodom and Gomon-ah
—Three Murders — Death of Taffy Jones — Removal of the Indians 4
CHAPTER III— FIRST THINGS,
The Oldest Settler — The Pioneers — First Farmer — First Blacksmith — First
Birth — Where was Lewiston ? — Grab All and Rattle Trap — Whisky Grove
— The First Bohemians — Is there Coal in Winneshiek County? — First
Postofftce — A Souvenir — First Marriage — First Death and Grave Yard —
The First Public School — The First School Teacher 11
CHAPTER IV— FIRST SETTLERS.
The First Settlers — The First Tax List — First Assessment — A Welcome Re-
ception — A List of Settlers by Townships — The Richest Man — Bloomfield
— Frankville — Military — Washington — Springfield — Jackson — Decorah —
Madison — Bluffton — Canoe — Glenwood — Pleasant — Personality Assess-
CHAPTER V— POLITICAL HISTORY.
County Organization — County Seat Struggle — First County Officers — Judge
David Reed — Township Organization — ^The Election of 1852 — First Rep-
resentative — Hon. Jas. D. McKay — A. H. Fannon — Ninth Election-
Results of the Various Elections down to 1854 29
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
CHAPTER VI— POLITICAL HISTORY.
Levi ]?ullis — Sixth Election — Ezekiel E. Cooley — Eighth Election — Judge Reed
Holds Over — Ninth Election — Winneshiek's First Senator — Hon. J. T.
Atkins — First Special Election — G. N. Holway — J. E. Simpson — Hon. H.
C. Bulis — The County Supervisor System — Hon. G. R. Willett — A. K.
Bailey — Hon. Knudt Berg — Hon. M. N, Johnson 38
CHAPTER VII— MILITARY HISTORY.
The Alarm of War — Patriotic Meeting of Citizens — Organization of the First
Company — Miss Carrie McNair — Battle of Blue Mills — Lieut. Anderson —
Battle of Hatchie — List of Killed and Wounded — Battle of Shiloh — List
of Killed and Wounded of Company D — Capt. E. I. Weisner — Surrender
of Vicksburg — A Disastrous Charge — Lieut. McMurtrie — Lieut. C. W.
Burdick — The Battle of Atlanta — The Third Iowa Fights itself to Death. 49
CHAPTER VIII— MILITARY HISTORY.
Company H — Camp Life — On the March — Named the "Iowa Greyhounds"
— Receives its ]>aptismal Fire at Pea Ridge — Storming Ritle Pitts and
Batteries — The March to the Sea — It had its Average Number of Bum-
mers — The Loss Sustained by Company H — O. M. Bliss — A Tribute of
Valor by the Ladies of Boston — Company G — Enrolled — The Battles in
which it Participated — Death of Capt. C. C. Tupper — Promotion of Lieut.
Townsley— Lieut. Nickerson — Sergt. A. A. Burdick — Nelson B. Burdick
— Winneshiek County Contributes Three Additional Companies — Com-
panies D, K and E — A History of their Maneuvers — Their Ranks are
Thinned by Disease— Death of Col. D. H. Hughes— The Thirty-Eighth
and Forty-Fourth are Consohdated — It takes part in the Last Battle of
the War — A Short Sketch of Company D, Sixth Iowa Cavalry 56
CHAPTER IX— CONCLUSION OF COUNTY HISTORY.
The Flush Times of 1856 — First Railroad Organization — The Northwestern
Railroad — First Successful Railroad Company — The Decorah Branch —
Jubilee over its Completion — Decorah a Station of which the Milwaukee
(!s£ St. Paul Railroad Company are Proud — Statistics Showing the Railroad
Business Transacted at Decorah — The Educational Interests of Winneshiek
— Statistics that Indicate the Progress of our People — Three Celebrated
Murder Trials — Telyea, McClintock and Stickles — Old Settlers' Associa-
tion — Conclusion of County History 67
CHAPTER X— FORT ATKINSON.
Description of the Fort — An Incident — The Fort Abandoned — M^. Cooney as
a Politician — The First Settlers — The Next Comers— The Godard Family
— Sale of the Fort — Fhe Canadians — The Fort at its Zenith — Preparations
for a Great City — Banking House — A Mercantile Venture — The Swiddlers
and their Record— Their Society, and a Patriolic Celebration — The Ames
Grist Mill — Jumping Claims — The Collapse — The .Second and Third Era
of Fort Atkinson -The New Era — Conclusion 74
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. XI
CHAPTER XI— DECORAH.
Decorah — A Beautiful Valley — Day Family — Room for Man and Beast —
Water Power — A Log Mill — First Marriage — First Carpenter — First Min-
inster — Looking Up the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel — The Pure
Article — At the Close of the Year 1854 — The First Harness Shop — The
First Livery Stable — Land Office — First Bankers — A Pioneer Postoflice —
Decorah in 1857 — Newspaper History — First City Officers — Manufactures
Banking Interests — Churches — Conclusion 86
CHAPTER XII— MONEEK.
The Story of a Defunct Town — Moneek — The Pioneer Settlers — Their Nearest
Neighbors — Their Hospitality — Paddle his own Canoe — The First Mer-
chant — The Village Smithy — Medicine and the Clergy Postal Facilities
— An Incident — An Influx of Immigrants — What Moneek was in 1853 —
Its Greatest Prosperity — Its Decline — Busy, Bustling Fellow — A Deserted
CHAPTER XIII-SPRINGFIELD, PLEASANT AND HIGHLAND.
First Norwegian Settlers — The Anderson Piirty Settle in Springfield Township
— The Johnson Party Follow Close After — The First Settlers of Pleasant
Township — A Man with Many Offices — First Blacksmith — Bartolf Oleson
-^ First School House and Church — Hon. Ole Nelson — Highland Township
— Its First Settlers — The Prosperity of its Citizens — How Lars Nelson
made his Money — He Dies Worth $100,000 — The Organization of the
First School District 108
CHAPTER XIV— FRANKVILLE
An Influx of Immigration — Frank Teabout, the Founder of Frankville — First
Merchant at Frankville — The Emigrant Store — Poverty Point — " Demijohn
Argument " — Trout River — Benj . Beard — The Lathrop Flouse — The
Presbyterian Church — Twice Waylaid and Once Robbed — Suspicious
Characters — First Justice of the Peace — Frankville Early Contributes her
Quota of County Officers — Frankville's First Saw Mill — First Grist Mill
— The Religious Revival of 1857 — The Railroad Seals it Fate 114
CHAPTER XV— HESPER.
Hesper Township in 185 1 — ^Two Explorers and their Search for Homes — E.
E. Meader — The First Cabins — Opening the First Farm — Official Survey
of the Northern Boundary — The Last Civilized Dwelling West of the
Mississippi — The First Arrival of Members of the Society of Friends — Russell
Taber Builds a Saw Mill — The First Merchant — The Friends of Erect the
First House of Worship — The First Hotel — The First School House —
A Town Organization Effected — Hesper's Railroad Schemes — The Indian
Scare — The Educational Interests — The Library Association — The Lutheran
and Metliodist Churches — Hesper's Lodge of Good Templars — Conclusion. 121
Xll HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
CHAPTER XVI— OSSIAN.
The Value of Thoroughfares — Ossian Thirty Years Ago — Its Founders — An
Account of its Earliest Settlers — x\ Western Tavern — The Original Town
Site — The Second Addition- — Ossian the Rendezvous of Counteifeiters —
The Establishment of a Postoflice— Its First Postmaster — The First Mer-
chant — The First School House and First Teacher — The Assessments of
Early Days — First Death — First Doctor — Newspaper History — Hoisting
the Stars and Stripes — A New Era in the History of the Place — The
Churches — Ossian's Importance and Prospective Future 129
Founding of Marys ville, afterwards known as Calmar — Peter Clawson and
Alf. Clark its Founders — Strife between Calmar and Conover for the
Supremacy — The Iowa & Dakotah Branch Railroad — Incorporation of the
Village — Newspaper History —Societies — Churches — Hotels — Saloons — The
Natural Situation of the Place — Its Resources — Its Prospects for the
Future — Population 136
CHAPTER XVIII— RIDGEW AY.
Early Settlers of Lincoln Township — Water Courses — Danger of Pioneer
Prairie Life — The Pioneer House and its Accommodations — Ridgeway's
Birth and Christening — A Flower Blooms that Bears Seed — The Railroad
Company Becomes Magnanimous and Builds a Coop for the Accommoda-
tion of Travelers — Death of an Invalid — The Demon who Presides Over
the Ruling Evil, and his Victims — The First Nasby, and others who
followed him — Ridgeway becomes an Independent School District — Fury
of the Fire King — Ridgeway Falls its Victim and is nearly Obliterated
— Death of Daniel Rice — Recapitulation of the Losses Sustained by the 143
History of Winneshiek County.
Historical Researches — What Prompts Them, and Their Results —
The Reward of the Pioneer — Winneshiek County — Its Streafns —
Thirty-Jive Years Ago — Old Missivn — The First Gristmill.
An insatiable desire, no doubt bred by curiosity to acquire information
of the past, has ever furnished a strong incentive to the human mind to
search for historical facts amid mouldy records and ancient ruins. Each
item of interest so preserved from the devastating ravages of time has
been carefully guarded and placed on record to shine, as its age increased,
with brighter luster.
This passion of man to make himself familiar with past events has led
him to resort to all known expedients, practicable and impracticable, for
the acquisition of such knowledge. At the touch of his magic wand, a
buried Pompeii has laid bare her bosom, disclosing the secrets of her past
life — secrets that for centuries had lain buried in the debris that covered
her. As a reward of his energy and perseverance in the land of the
Pharaohs, the ruined temples, ancient obelisks, the pyramids of forty
centuries, and also the silent mummies, have each been made to furnish
information of the most ancient civilized people of the globe — the history
of a people who have silently slept in death for more than three thous-
No undertaking has seemed too great for the historian where the goal
of his ambition has been to resurrect historical facts, and no reading has
proved more interesting or valuable. Every country and nation, every
city and hamlet, as well as every individual, has its history, which is in a
greater or less degree interesting to the general reader. More particu-
larly is the early history of a new country valuable, not only for the
interest it furnishes in its individual experiences of adventure and hard-
ship, but for the lesson it teaches in the certain reward of energy and
Those of the early pioneers who forsook the pleasures of civilization
and bravely ventured into a wild and unknown country to hew a name
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
for themselves out of the native forests ; men and women who at one
time mingled more with the uncouth savage than with their civilized
brethren, are to-day enjoying the affluence of wealth and the comforts of
pleasant homes. Such has been their reward. The hardships of pioneer
life, with them, is a thing of the past, about which they can talk with
It is little more than a quarter of a century since Winneshiek County fur-
nished an ample arena for the pioneer, and here he experienced all the ex-
citing adventures, hardships and privations which make his life so interest-
ing. Winneshiek County received its name from "Winneshiek," a celebrated
chief of the Winnebagoes. The county embraces an area of 468,000
acres, mostly arable land, which is extraordinarily adapted to agricultural
purposes. The general surface of the country is diversified, the greater
portion being fine, rolling prairie, with plenty of timber land to supply
the demands of home consumption. Along the streams there are bluffs
of considerable height, which in many places present a picturesque scenery
rarely met with. The soil of the county, on the whole, is of a rich and
loamy nature, and as productive as can be found in the state of Iowa.
The county affords an abundance of clay, sand, brick and stone for build-
ing purposes, while its outcrop of Trenton limestone is burned into an
excellent article of quicklime.
The county is well watered, having several important creeks within its
borders. These afford excellent water power, much of which has been
utilized in the various mills throughout the county. The upper Iowa
River runs through the northern portion of the county, in a southeast
direction, to about the center, where in flows northeasterly, in a serpen-
tine course, to where it leaves the county on its eastern border. North
of the Upper Iowa, flowing through the townships of Canoe and Pleas-
ant, is the Canoe River, a considerable mill stream. The Turkey River
runs through the southeast corner of the county, and is only second to
the Iowa in size and importance. Such is a brief description of one of
the richest counties in the state.
What a scene of beauty such a land must have presented to the pio-
neer before the science of agriculture had marred the adornments which
nature had. lavished upon it. Above him was the blue canopy of heaven,
at his feet lay a garden of green, broken only by the embellishment of
miniature forests, in which gamboled wild beasts of every description
known to the country, while on either side could be heard the musical
ripples of crystal streams rushing swiftly over variegated beds in their
course to the Gulf Such a land must have been hailed with a glad ac-
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
claim of delight. It was to the pioneer the land "flowing with milk and
It is now thirty-five years since the first white man looked upon this
country in all its natural grandeur. Antecedent to that date we have no
knowledge that even the venturesome explorer, or the soulless and ava-
ricious Indian trader, ventured to pierce this then unknown region.
What a contrast the wild, uninhabited country of those days presents
to the present populous and cultivated land, teeming with its thousands
of human beings, making onward strides in improvement with the rapid
tread of cilivization.
Thirty-five years ago our beautiful county, now spanned with railways
and telegraphic lines — necessary implements of modem civilization —
decked with verdant fields of waving grain in summer, and dotted with
innumerable thriving and enterprising towns, was the home of the Win-
nebago Indians, then numerous and comparatively thrifty, but now com-
prising only a few wandering ones who have not where to lay their heads.
As early as 1835, Rev. D. Lowery, the man who afterwards estabHshed
the Old Mission, conducted a school of like nature near the mouth of
Yellow River. Mr. Lowery emigrated from Tennessee, and was a strict .
adherent to the sect known as the Cumberland Presbyterians. In his
youth he had received the benefits of a thorough education, and was
peculiarly qualified for the arduous duties of ameliorating the condition
of the Indians. In 1874 he took up his residence in Pierce City, Mis-
souri, where he died on the 19th of January, 1876, at the advanced
age of 82 years. Mr. Lowery was a man of marked ability, and during
the more active portion of his life was prominent in all that pertained to
the history of the country in which he lived. He was, for perhaps more
than fifty years, a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. A
man of unusual physical make up, and possessed of a large brain, which
eminently fitted him for the frontier life which he led. He was one of
our noble men, and will be long remembered by many of our people,
and especially by the early settlers of this portion of the great west.
In 1842 Mr. Lowery was appointed Indian Agent for the reservation
which included the tract of land now known as Winneshiek County.
The same year he received instructions from the Government to form a
Mission and farm on the reservation, for the education of the Indians in
husbandry and the English language, in hopes of civilizing and morally
benefitting them. The erection of the Mission was commenced, as near
as can be ascertained, in June, 1842, the Rev. D. Lowery superintending
the work. The Mission was a large, commodious wooden building,
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK: COUNTY.
located about five miles southeast of Fort Atkinson. A remnant of one
of the buildings still exists.
The Government had authorized Mr. Lowery to open a farm for the
instruction of the Indians in agricultural pursuits, the expenses incurred
thereby to be deducted from their annuity. Mr. Lowery turned over
this part of the work to his assistant, Col. Thomas. The first year, under
Col. Thomas' supervision, a farm of three hundred acres was opened,
and endeavors were made to instruct the Indians how to till the soil; but
they were so careless and indolent that but Httle work could be got out
of them. The crops planted began to show neglect. In fact the farm
began to retrograde, when Col. Thomas had a force of garrison men
detailed to cultivate it — they being paid for their labor out of the Indian
annuity. One year served to demonstrau- that the Indian as a husband-
man was a failure. In 1843, Col. Thomas, under instructions from the
Government, built the first gristmill in Winneshiek County. The Mission
and farm was continued under Col. Thomas' supervision, until the
Indians sold their reservation to the Government, when they were re-
moved, and there was no further need of these enterprises.
Lowery continued in charge of the Indian Mission some time after
building it, but finally resigned to take charge of a mission in Minnesota,
whereupon Gen. Fletcher was appointed to serve in his stead.
The Wifinebagoes — Their For7ner Home — Enjoymefits, d^c. — Indian
History — Habits and Characteristics — Their Funeral Services — Win-
neshiek, Head Chief of the Winnebagoes — " Wachon-Decorah " —
Sodom and Gomorrah — Three Murders — Death of Taffy Jones —
Removal of the Indians.
A history of Winneshiek County, without an account of the original
inhabitants, would be incomplete. In early days the Winnebago Indian
was sole possessor of this land, and here for ages he held sway. This
country had been his home for centuries. It was the heart of an Indian
paradise. From every point of the compass, his trail centered here. It
was the land of his birth, and no other furnished the same attractions for
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
him. It was here that he buried his dead, and with heathen reverence
rendered worship to the omnipotent ruler of the spirit land, which his
uncultured mind had conceived. It was from these crystal streams that
he hooked the tiny trout, and through the tangled labyrinths of these
miniature forests that he hunted the wild deer, the partridge and the
squirrel. Here, after the manner of his patriarchal form of government,
were held his councils, in which all the great men of the nation partici-
pated. Here, upon these bluffs, as he missed his mark, has he often, no
doubt, made sacrifices to appease the wrath of the Great Spirit, through
whose agency he firmly believed such results had been wrought. It was
amidst the scenes of this wild and natural grandeur that he wooed and
won the dusky maid of the forest. It was here he reared his children.
Though the land was wild, and filled with experiences that to the civilian
would seem unendurable, yet it was his home, and about it clustered all
there was to fill his rough heart with love. The land seemed to his wild
nature to contain all the enjoyments worth living for. Here, often, no
doubt, were the games and sports of the young; here too, lamentations
and sorrows, even as in later times, in burial scenes, as some old warrior,
chief, maiden, or child, was called to depart. And here, thanksgivings,
too — doubtless feasts of rejoicing at success of hunting parties, or victory
in bloody strife. Yes, up to within the brief space of twenty-seven
years ago, this beautiful valley was all full of life — primitive life of nature
and man. But now the scene is changed, and the white man is the
possessor of the land. The process has been a rapid one. A superior
race has superceded these simple children of the forest, and little more
than tradition remains to tell who and what they were, what habits and
characteristics they possessed, or who were their rulers. But such as
remain in authentic form, is here given in a bit of Indian history.
Up to 1840 the Winnebago Indians inhabited Wisconsin. In 1829
they made a treaty, whereby they ceded to the Government the entire
country east of the Mississippi, to which they laid claim. They were,
however, permitted to live on their old hunting grounds until it became
absolutely necessary to remove them. They had become an impediment
to the further settlement of Wisconsin. At this time the Government
felt compelled to require them to fulfil the terms of their treaty, and go
upon the new reservation west of the river. They were loth to relintiuish
their native hunting ground, which to them had more than a natural at-
traction; but the annuity offered was a large inducement, and finally
prevailed. This new reservation comprised a territory, the eastern bor-
der of which was twenty miles west of the Mississippi. Fort Atkinson
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
was erected in order to have in their midst a garrison with which to con-
trol them. That they needed control is evident from their habits and
characteristics, as described to the writer by all who were familiar with
The Winnebagoes were not brave and chivalrous, but vindictive and
treacherous. Instead of facing a foe and braving danger, they would
stealthily steal upon him and in an unguarded moment, wreak their ven-
gence. But these were not the worst features in this tribe. They pos-
sessed vices of a meaner and more degrading nature. They united the
art of stealing to that of lying. Anything belonging to another on
which they could lay their pilfering fingers, they appropriated to their
own use. Their lying propensities were proverbial. They regarded
the white man with envy, but stood in such fear of their Indian neigh-
bors — the Sacs and Foxes — that they dare not oppose him, but made
him iheir champion and protector against these warlike and powerful
They were more opulent in their annuities than any other tribe of
Indians. Besides about $100,000 in cash and goods paid them annually,
large sums were expended in the vain attempt to educate and christian-
ize them. A few among them could read and write; but in proportion
as they improved in book lore, in the same, and even in a greater ratio,
they deteriorated morally; and those who enjoyed the greatest advantages
were the most worthless and degraded of their tribe. Every attempt
that has been made to civilize them, has sunk them lower in the scale of
humanity. At least this is the evidence of those who are familiar with
their history. It has been reduced to an axiom, by observation and ex-
perience, that the Indian is incapable of civilization, except in rare cases.
They are gradually and surely fading away. The very approach of
civilization is a poison to them, from the effects of which there is no
escape. Its operation is slow but sure, and but a few years will have
made their annual rounds before the race will be numbered with the
things of the past, and only known in history.
The Winnebagoes, after their war with the whites in 1827, were very
peaceably disposed toward them. The Winnebagoes were genuine
Mormons; they practiced polygamy; their marriage contracts were
very simple, and to some white folks would be unsatisfactory. The
Indian lover first approached the parents of his dusky sweetheart, and
gave a present according to his means. If the old man was willing he
signified it, and this ended the transaction. The squaw had no other
alternative but to accept, and the lover would conduct his new made
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
bride in triumph to his own lodge. Their funeral services were equally
as interesting. When one of their number died they usually wrapped
the deceased in his blankets, and then prepared his grave. The Winne-
bagoes were bom tired, consequently the grave was usually very shallow,
but most always deep enough to receive th^ body in a recHning position,
and yet be below the surface. They mourned for their departed accord-
ing to the amount of whisky they imbibed. If their supply happened
to be short, their waihng and crying was feeble, but if large, their man-
ifestations of sorrow were considerably augmented, and their howling
and wailing would seem sufficient to raise the dead.
Soon after the Winnebagoes were removed to the neutral ground
which included, among others, what is now called Winneshiek County,
Winneshiek became the ruling chief of the remnant of the once power-
ful Winnebagoes. The nation was divided into several bands, each band
possessing a chief, and overall one "head chief," whose village extend-
ed several miles along the banks of the Iowa, about where Decorah now
stands. He was the most respected of all the chiefs of his nation, and
was recognized by the whites as a man of extraordinary talent and
ability. He revered and loved the whites, and could speak the English
language sufficiently well to trade with them. At this period Winne-
shiek was in the prime of life. He was a noble looking man, and a
perfect specimen of physical development. His life was made burden-
some by no less than six wives, the finest looking women of the nation.
Judge Murdock, who was well acquainted with this celebrated chief,
says that he has heard him deliver several speeches, and that he was
impressed with his oratorical genius. When he fired up, and the Hght-
nings of passion were playing across his dark face, and every nerve
quivered with suppressed excitement, the effect on his listeners was thrill-
ing to the last degree. No royal blood coursed through his veins, nor
did he win his elevation by war, but by some order of the war depart-
ment of the United States. Other chiefs were deposed, and Winneshiek
was selected for his ability, his honor and sobriety, to reign over his
Wachon- Decorah, after whom two of our thriving inland cities were
named, was another principal chief of the Winnebagoes. By the whites
he was more familiarly called " one-eyed Decorah," having lost an eye.
He, too, was a natural orator, and in his speeches would frequently boast
that he had white blood in his veins. There were three brothers of the
Decorahs, all men of distinction in their nation. Wachon-Decorah made
a speech to the white commissioners after having served in the war
8 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
against Black Hawk, which was powerful and to the point. He ex-
plained that his tribe had been the staunch friend of the whites, and had
assisted them in the war, for which they had never received any remune-
ration. Not only this, but by helping their white brethren they had
made enemies of their Indian neighbors; and they in return, had been
wreaking vengence upon them. He said : " The Sacs hate the Winne-
bagoes for helping their Great Father, and when peace was made with
the whites, they struck at the Winnebagoes — first at the family of the
speaker. When he was away from home they stole upon his lodge and
killed his wife and children ; and now he thought his Great Father must
have something for him."
It is believed that Wachon-Decorah and Winneshiek are still living,
although researches for this information has produced nothing authentic.
It was supposed by the old settlers, and many of a more recent date, at a
time when the traces of Indian graves had not been totally obliterated, that
Wachon-Decorah's remains lay interred at the intersection of Winnebago
and Main streets, Decorah. Rev. Adams, in speaking of it in his sermon,
" First Thigns of Decorah," says about the exhumation of the remains
supposed to be the old chief: " Some may recollect how our bosoms
swelled with respect for the old chief; with what reverence we exhumed
his remains ; how, in imagination, we beheld his noble form, as his skull,
with its straight, black hair, was turned out by the spade ; with what
pomp and ceremony it was planned to remove his remains to some suit-
able place, possibly a monument erected — till, in gatheiing necessary
facts for the occasion, word came back to us that Decorah was a chief
greatly respected by his tribe, an old man, considerably bent over, with
one eye put out, and his hair very gray. His hair very gray ! All but
this could have been got along with, but somehow the poetry was gone !
Enthusiasm subsided !
However, if in future years, by the lapse of time, this difficulty should
be obliterated, and any desire should remain to erect a monument to the
old chief, they can find his bones, or those of some other poor Indian,
safely deposited in a rough box a few inches below the surface of the
ground, close to the northeast corner of the Court House Yard."
If there was one class of men more than another responsible for
inciting the Indian to hostilities against the whites, it was the low, grov-
elling Indian trader. His stock of goods usually consisted of a few
worthless trinkets and a barrel of whisky ; and his modus operandi was
to secrete his stock in some dense thicket near the Indians, and close
enough to the whites for protection. He would exchange his fire-water
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
at an exorbitant price for their furs. In early days our frontier was not
slighted by this class. Soon after the Indians were removed to the reser-
vation, two men of this stripe established their retreats on or as near the
line as they dared, for they were f)rohibited by the Government from
going upon the reservation.
Taft Jones was an individual of this character. He hailed from Fort
Cra^vford, and located a trading post in the vicinity of Monona, giving
it the name of " Sodom." Another genius, named Graham Thorn,
started a trading post in close proximity to Sodom, and called it
The Indians used to frequent these places, and, of course, usually got
badly cheated. It is a matter of recollection that once in a trial before
Hon. T. S. Wilson, the first judge of this part of the country, a witness
testified to things that happened at Sodom and Gomon-ah. The Judge
was disposed to become indignant, and asked, somewhat pointedly, if
the witness was not imposing on the Court. The reply was given by
Judge Murdock, then a young attorney, " Oh no, your Honor ; these
places do actually exist."
The old Mayor of Sodom crossed long since to the other side of
During the sojourn of the Indians on their reservation three murders
were committed, to-wit : that of the Gardner family, in Fayette county ;
of Riley, near Monona ; and of Hereby, near the mouth of the Volga.
In all of these cases whisky was the inciting cause, and some of the
parties undoubtedly deserved their fate.
In the Riley case, a small party of Indians were encamped on a trib-
utary of the Yellowstone river, four or five miles from Monona, An
old Indian visited Taft Jones' den, at Sodom, and (as many a ''pale-
face " has since done in similar cases) traded all his wordly effects for
whisky. He even sold the blanket from his shoulders. Becoming
intoxicated, he was turned out of doors, and on his way to his lodge
died from exposure and cold. The next morning his son, a youth of
about twenty summers, found the body of his father lying in the snow,
naked and frozen. His revengeful feelings were aroused, and going to
the whisky- den at Gomorrah, he shot at the first man he saw through
the window. Unfortunately it happened to be an inoffensive man named
Riley. A detachment of troops under command of Lieut. David S.
Wilson, now Judge of Dubuque Circuit Court, was sent out to capture
the Indian who committed the murder. He was apprehended, taken
to Fort Atkinson, and confined in the guard-house, but by the conniv-
lO HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
ance of a sympathizing white man he escaped and was never recaptured.
Jones lived but a short time after this occurrence. Dr. Andros, of
this city, witnessed his death, and describes it as follows : " I was
traveling from Fort Atkinson to Prairie du Chien, and as I was passing
by Sodom I was called in to see Taffy Jones. I found him on his bed
in a miserable condition, and dying from chronic alcoholism. His
countenance was horrible to look upon. He seemed to have but one
thought, one wish. His only cry was whisky ! whisky ! whisky ! I told
Thorn, who was his * right-bower," that Taffy was dying, and to gratify
his last wish. A tumbler of whisky was held to his. lips, and he swal-
lowed it with all the gusto that marks the smallest babe while drawing
nourishment from the breast of its mother. In a few hours he died, a
striking illustration of the old adage, ' The ruling passion strong in
The murder of the Gardner family was caused by whisky. Gardner
kept a whisky-shop, and it seems a number of Indians called at his
place for their favorite beverage. He dealt out the whisky to them until
they were intoxicated, and he, becoming alarmed, refused to let them
have any more. They then determined to take the whisky by force,
whereupon Gardner offered resistance. He was seized by the demons
and dispatched. His defenseless wife and innocent babe were next
assassinated, and his daughter, a beautiful girl about twelve years old,
was reserved for a more terrible fate.
At the time the Winnebagoes were removed they numbered about
four thousand, and were scattered over their reservation, or what was
then called " the neutral ground." Four bands were located near the
Fort and Agency. The other bands were located more remote. Where
the city of Decorah now stands was a large band under the govern-
ment of the hereditary chief Decorah ; hence the name. This country
was at that time an Indian paradise, abounding in fish and game.
The sale of their lands to the Government by their chiefs, and their
acceptance of a new home in Minnesota, was very unsatisfactory to the
Indians themselves. For a long time they refused to comply with the
agreement entered into by their chiefs, and only consented when com-
pelled by force of United States troops. Owing to their reluctance
to remove, the whole summer was spent in their ejection. One band,
governed by a chief called "The Dandy," would not go upon the land
assigned them, but returned with their chief to Black River, Wisconsin,
where they remained till the summer of 1874, when they were finally
removed (at a great expense to the Government) to the home of the
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. n
tribe west of the Missouri. They remained on their new hunting-
grounds selected by the Government only a few months, when they
returned to their old homes without aid. This example verifies their
attachment to the homes of their childhood and the graves of their
The Oldest Settler — The Pio?teers — First Farmer — First Blacksmith —
First Birth — Where was Lewiston? — Grab All and Rattle Trap —
Whisky Grove — The First Bohemians — Is there Coal in Winneshiek
County? — First Postoffice — A Souvenir — First Marriage — First
Death and Grave Yard — The First Public School — The First School
It is difficult to discriminate, exactly, as to whom belongs the honor of
being the first permanent settler. It Hes between Mr. A. R. Young, of
Fort Atkinson, and Hamilton Campbell and wife, of Bloomfield town-
ship. Mr. A. R. Young, residing on his farm, celebrated as the defunct
Lewiston, was a member of the garrison stationed at the fort, and the
only soldier who remained and became a permanent resident. He mar-
ried a daughter of one of the first comers. If to him is accorded the
right of a setder from the time of his coming to the fort as a soldier,
then he is the oldest resident beyond all dispute. But if, on the contrary,
the honor of being a settler is not accorded to him until after he was
mustered out of the service and began to till the soil, then to Hamilton
Campbell and wife belongs the credit.
Hamilton Campbell and wife made a claim, June 7th, 1848, on sec-
tions 23 and 26, in what is now Bloomfield township, and there to-day
they are honored residents.
Dr. F. Andros, formerly of Decorah, but now residing in McGregor,
was surgeon at the fort, but on its abandonment he removed to Clayton
county, where for twenty-five years, or more, he was a useful and honored
12 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
From 1842 to 1848, the only resident families on the Winnebago
reservation, except such as were in Government employ, were those of
Joel Post and Mr. Wilcox. The latter resided about forty rods south
of the fort, on the road leading to the Indian Agency, or Mission. Both
these men were special favorites of office holders, and were permitted by
the Indian Agency to keep houses of entertainment for the accommoda-
tion of persons visiting the fort and agency. The information to be ob-
tained in relation to Wilcox is very meagre. Beyond the above fact we
have been unable to ascertain anything in relation to his history, and it
is not believed that he was long a resident.
Mr. Joel Post was the first farmer, and first actual settler on the res-
ervation. Soon after the Government had decided to establish Old
mission and Fort ^Atkinson, he conceiveu the idea that a half-way house
for the accommodation of parties engaged in transporting building ma-
terial and supplies from Fort Crawford to Fort Atkinson would prove
profitable. He therefore made application to the General Government
to establish such a house on the reservation, which he was allowed to do.
He erected a log house in 1841, on the site where Postville now stands.
The same spring, he broke up some ground and raised crops. This pre-
ceded the Mission farm by a year.
Harmon Snyder was the first blacksmith who worked at his trade in
Winneshiek County. He came from Prairie du Chien with the force
detailed to build the fort, and was employed, chiefly, in work for the
garrison. At the same time, he did a great deal of work for the Indians.
They would stand around and watch him while at his work, with won-
der and admiration. How long he remained, and whither he went,
must remain an untold story, for lack of information.
The credit of being the first white child born in the county belongs to
Miss Mary Jane Tapper, this being her maiden name. She was born at
the fort, on the i6th of January, 1841. She is the daughter of Mr.
James and Mrs. Ellen Tapper, who were married in New York city in
1838, and emigrated from there to St. Louis, arriving at tlieir destination
on the loth of May, 1840. Mr. Tapper met Government officials at
this place, and with about fifty other mechanics contracted to come out
into the then wild and comparatively unknown region of Iowa, and
construct a fort, said fort being Fort Atkinson. Mr. Tapper is an Eng-
lishman, and came to this country in 1828. He now resides two miles
southeast of Monona.
Mary Jane Tapper, the first white child born in the county, married a
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. I3
Mr. Robert M. Boyce, and resides with her husband two miles north of
The honor of being the second white child bom in the county, so far
as can be ascertained, belongs to Miss E. Thomas, of Prairie du Chien,
a lady of marked talent and pleasing social attainments. She was born
in 1844, at the Old Mission, where her parents resided, her father. Col.
Thomas, being in charge of the Mission at the time.
The settlement of the county was so rapid that in 1850 the pioneers
felt themselves old enough to organize. Prior to that time the land had
been surveyed and brought into market. In 1850, J. L. Carson was ap-
pointed organizing officer, and an election for a temporary organization
ordered. At that time there were fewer polling places than now, there
being only three. Their names serve to show where the settlers were
located. They were Decorah, Moneek and Lewiston, Many have
asked without receiving an answer, "Where is Lewiston?" My re-
searches enable me to answer this query: In 1850 it promised to be a
town of note. It was the speculator's " Napoleon;" but Lewis Harkins,
then in charge of the Government property, and Mr. Francis Rogers,
joint owners of the land, became involved in a quarrel regarding their
individual interests in the town plat, which finally resulted in the wreck
of all the bright hopes before entertained as to the future prosperity of
Lewiston. To-day there is not a vestige of its remains. Even the rec-
ords give no account of its whereabouts, and this one vote is the only
recorded evidence of its existence. In another generation this fact would
have been buried from the researches of the historian, as only a few of
the old settlers remain who are able to verify the early existence of such
a place. Francis Rogers and Lewis Harkins were the proprietors of the
land where Lewiston was laid out, and the place derived its name from
Harkins' given name. The old settlers say that Lewiston was a regularly
laid out town, situated one mile north of Old Mission, on what is now
known as the Rogers farm, owned by Aaron Young, who at that time
was Second Sergeant of Company C.
Among the defunct places of notoriety that existed in the early history
of Winneshiek County, was a spot bearing the euphoneous name of
Grab-all. The place noted by this title was a high bench of timber
land, half way between the Iowa trail and Postville. It was given this
name because the Government stationed a sergeant's guard there, to
" grab all " the Indians passing that way, for removal.
The next place worthy of special mention is Ratdetrap. Rattletrap
of early times is known to-day as Castalia. At the time the town bore
14 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
this name it consisted of one solitary log house, owned and superintend-
ed over by one of the most natural and original of Erin's daughters,
Mrs. John Powell. I have it from rehable authority that she was capable
of talking a common regiment of Decorah lawyers blind in less than no
time. It would be comforting to believe this statement, but when one
stops to consider the capability of the Decorah lawyers, it is accepted
only as a rough joke perpetrated on the old woman.
Whisky Grove was a popular resort for the soldiers stationed at Fort
Atkinson. The grove that became thus noted is located just east of
Calmar. An incident showing why it was given this name, is related
in substance as follows : It was near the time when the Indians would
receive their annuity, and the soldiers at the fort their pay, that a half-
breed procured a barrel of whisky at Fort Crawford, loaded it on his
wagon and transported it to this particular grove. The soldiers were se-
cretly informed of the fact, and the most of them got gloriously drunk.
The first intimation the commander of the garrison had of its existence
was the beastly intoxication of his men, and even then he was unable to
ascertain its location. The half-breed remained here for some time, and
carried on a thriving business. The soldiers who patronized him would
not betray his whereabouts to their commander.
The winter of 1853-4 the first immigration of Bohemians came to
the county, settling in the vicinity of Fort Atkinson. There were eight
families of them. The winter was severe in the extreme, and the follow-
ing incident is told of it :
One day in mid- winter two boys, members of a Bohemian family who
had settled near Spillville, were dispatched to Waucoma to mill. At the
time they left their homes nothing betokened a storm. But on their
return, when they were near the Van Dyke place, one of our much-
dreaded Iowa "blizzards" overtook them. The elements were con-
vulsed, and emitted forth the blindmg snow in voluminous quantities.
The wind swept across the bare prairies a perfect tornado. Becoming
enveloped in such a storm, they soon became confused, and lost their
way. No one can describe what their feelings were when the certainty
of their being lost on the wild prairie in such a storm dawned upon
them. Conjectures only can be made. That they thought of their
anxious parents and little brothers and sisters waiting patiently for their
return, which, alas ! would never be ; that they at times gave way to grief
as they speculated on their dreadful fate ; or again at other times would
become courageous when a ray of hope would break on their clouded
way, or when despair would fill their hearts, that they sought the Giver
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 1 5
of Life in fervent supplication to spare their lives and guide them safely
to their homes. That they did all this would be but natural. The
prayers of anxious parents availed nothing. God in His wisdom denied
their petitions. The boys were frozen to death. A drift of driven snow
was their last resting place, and the snow their winding sheet. It was
twelve days thereafter before the bodies of the unfortunate boys were
found. Both oxen were found to be alive. One had forced himself
from the yoke, and was browsing near by, while the other was held an
Mr. Aaron Young tells the following story of the early discovery of
coal deposits in the south part of Winneshiek County. Mr. Young was
a soldier at the Fort at the time of the reputed discovery. He says :
The discovery was made by one of the regular soldiers, who used to
go on horseback from the Fort and return in less than an hour's time,
bringing with him a sack of coal. These trips were always made in the
night, and alone. He allowed no one to accompany him, nor would he
divulge his secret. Although the oflEicers tried bribing him, pumshing
him, and finally got him drunk, in hopes he would be more confiding ;
but all to no purpose. His time was nearly out, and he said he calcu-
lated to open the coal mine as soon as it expired. But before the time
came his company was ordered to Florida, where he was shot, dying
almost instantly, leaving no one in possession of his valuable secret.
Another story is that the Indians used to bring coal in their blankets
to sell to the blacksmith, or when they wanted a pony shod, and that an
old Indian chief, by the name of Four-Eyes, offered to tell where the
coal was, at one time, for two ponies. But as nobody had the ponies,
the bargain was not consummated, and the old chieftain too'< his knowl-
edge away with him to the Far West. That coal was obtained in some
mysterious way by the soldier there is no doubt ; but to convince the
scientific man that he obtained it from deposits in Winneshiek County
will require stronger evidence than the above stories furnish. Every
person familiar with the geological topography of the county well under-
stands how unreasonable such an idea is.
The first church erected in Winneshiek County, excepting the old
Mission Chapel, was built about the year i8 — , in the vicinity of Twin
Springs. It was Catholic. Father Leuvent officiated. The site was
selected and the church directed to be built by Bishop Lovas, of
Dubuque, who was the first ordained Bishop in Iowa.
The first duly commissioned postmaster in Winneshiek County was
James B. Cutler, of Osage, then a sterling pioneer of the county. He
l6 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
located on the Atkin Farm, Frankville Township. The commission
confers on James B. Cutler the appointment of postmaster of Jamestown,
and bears the signature of Nathaniel K. Hall, Postmaster General under
Milliard Fillmore, and dated the i8th day of September, 185 1. Judge
J. T. Atkins served as assistant postmaster. The office was discon-
tinued March 31, 1852. Mr. Leonard Cutler and family came to the
county May 30, 1850, which places them among the early pioneers.
The father of Mr. James B. Cutler is still living at the advanced age of
Among the various souvenirs seen by the author, retained as memen-
toes of olden times, is a shipping-bill of certain mill irons brought from
Galena to Lansing by " the good steamboat called the Nominee," con-
signed to Messrs. Beard & Cutler, and dated the 29th of March, 1852.
These mill irons were used by Beard & Cutler in what was in i860
known as the Rogers Mill, on the Canoe, and now known as Spring-
water Mill, now owned by Mr. A. Bradish. The erection of the mill
began in the fall of 1851, and it was running July 8, 1852. Probably
it was the first saw-mill north of the Iowa river. ,
In 1850 a young man came from Norway to Iowa and found a spot
of ground that suited him in what is now known as Madison Town-
ship, Winneshiek County. So far as ascertained, he was its first settler.
In the year following an older man followed him, who was the father of
at least one girl. As young men and maidens will, this young man and
this maiden agreed to wed. These parties were Johannes Evenson and
Catherine Helen Anderson. At that time, as now, the law required the
parties to have a license. In order to obtain this a visit to the Judge
was necessary. Rev. N. Brandt, then a wandering missionary, was in
the county, and would perform the ceremony. And if this chance
escaped them, no knowing when another opportunity would be atforded
them. Mr. Evenson straightway started for Bloomfield Township, to
see the Judge and get a permit to enter into a matrimonial alliance.
The missionary had promised to await his return. Mr. E. found the
Judge absent. He had gone to Dubuque on official business. Imagine
the sensations of that waiting bridegroom ! Again the question : Would
that minister tarry ? After three days Judge Reed returned, and with
his license in his pocket, John turned his footsteps .homeward a happier
man. No grass grew under his feet on that trip. The minister had
remained, and the marriage ceremony was performed — the first, as the
records show, to have been performed in the county. The license for
this marriage was granted on the 5th day of October, 185 1. The
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 1 7
second marriage license was granted on the 3d of November, 1851.
The contracting parties were Erick Anderson and Miss Ann Soles.
The first death to occur in the county was that of a Government
teamster named Howard. He was engaged in the transportation of
material form Fort Crawford to Fort Atkinson, to be used in the con-
struction of the latter. On the 3d of October, 1840, a heavy snow had
fallen, and on the next day Mr. Howard started from Joel Post's place,
or Postville, to go to Fort Atkinson. A party following in his wake the
next day were surprised to find his loaded wagon in the road and team
and driver gone. They followed his track up to near the present site of
Castalia, where they found him frozen stiff in death. The same day his
remains were brought to the Fort, and on the next, or 5th of October,
1846, he was buried. This information is authenticated, and shows
that the date of the first death and graveyard preceeded the first birth
by one year, and the first marriage by eleven years. In fact, the grave-
yard had quite an encouraging start over the marriage era. However
much consolation this may have afforded the departed, they may be
assured, that in after years, the matrimonial fever swept the county like
an epidemic, finding victims on every side.
It is worthy of note that the first public school building was built at
the comers of the following townships, Decorah, Springfield, Glen wood
and Frankville, in the center of a Norwegian settlement. This event is
worthy of record, as it serves to illustrate the strong desire the Norwegian
people have to advance their mental condition. Even here, inhabitants
of a wild country, and isolated from the world as they were, they found
means of encouraging education. In 1852, principally through their
efforts, a small, unpretentious log school-bouse was built at the Corners,
and in it the late Mrs. Erick Anderson, then a young woman, taught
the first school. -
l8 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
. FIRS'I SETTLERS.
The First Settlers — The First Tax List — First Assessment — A Wel-
co?7ie Receptioti — A List of Settlers by Townships — Ihe Richest Man
— Bloom field — Frankville — Military — Washington — Springfield —
Jackson— Decorah — Madison — Bbiffion — Canoe — Glenwood — Pleas-
ant — Personality Assessments.
The previous chapters show, with considerable accuracy, who were
the residents previous to 185 1. The following chapter, perhaps the most
valuable in the entire book — valuable for the historical information it
contains — is in a great measure the work of Mr. A. K. Bailey, editor of
the Decorah Republican.
In 185 1 the county was organized. Its officers were elected, and we
may presume regularly inducted into office. They needed money in
compensation for their services, and then as now it had to be raised by
taxes. Happily the first tax list of the county is preserved. The lists
for 1853 and 1854 are gone, and this volume was rescued ten years ago
by Mr. A. K. Bailey while serving the public as county treasurer, from
a box of old papers that were stowed away in an unused closet of the
Court House. It should be scrupulously kept as a relic. It is in a fair
state of preservation. The contrast between this volume and that of
1862 — ten years only — is a complete history in itself of the rapid growth
of Winneshiek county. That of 1862 is a volume of nearly a thousand
pages of the largest ledger size. This of 1852 is but a small, home-
made book of 62 pages, composed of double blue foolscap, with its
columns ruled ofif by hand, and bound in a beautiful sample of Indian-
tanned buckskin. The warrant for collecting the taxes bears date Sep-
tember 15th, 1852; is addressed to Daniel Kuykendall, treasurer, and is
signed by D. R. Reed, county judge. The title page bears the signature
of '' Morris B. Derrick, Clerk " — a man who was, tor a time, at least, a
partner of Aaron Newell, at the old Pioneer Store, of Decorah.
This volume, we believe, is really a complete list of the residents (who
had any property) in the fall of 185 1. Although dated many months
later, the work of preparing the list was begun at a time when it would
have been impossible to include the settlers who came in 1853. We
learn from others that the assessment which was preliminary, was made
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEtC COUNTY. 19
by A. H. Fannon, the jolly old constable, who still serves the public.
He says it was begun and made early in the spring, before the immigra-
tion of 1852 had set in, and he thinks all whose names are included in
it had arrived in 185 1 or before. Mr. F. made the assessment assherift'.
says he was really the first sheriff; and this was one of the first of his
official acts. This claim is in collision with the records, and we cannot
undertake to reconcile the discrepancy. In making the list Mr. F. says
he sometimes could not visit more than half a dozen families in a day,
so widely were they scattered, particularly in the north half of the
county, but he always found a welcome reception, and a hearty invita-
tion to ''sit up to the table " when meal time brought him to one of
their cabins. The residents in the northern tier of townships, however,
strongly objected to being assessed ; not that they wished to escape tax-
ation, but because it was doubtful in their minds whether they dwelt in
Iowa or Minnesota. Mr. E. E. Meader gives this information. He,
personally, wished to be in Iowa, and had the happiness of finding,
when the lines were run, that he had located his cabin just right in order
to secure the land he wanted, and at the same time remain an lowan.
This much of outside history to the volume. Now for the stories its
pages reveal. We find in it the names of 446 persons. Perhaps some
of these were not residents, but the list contains many a known and
familiar name. A large share are assessed with personality only ; which
means that they had not secured their lands, and had only the "im-
provements," or a little stock to pay tribute on. It will be impossible
to locate most of these in making a list of settlers by townships, as we
propose to do ; but whenever lands are named, the townships and ranges
will be an unerring guide. Preliminary to this, however, let us give a
few general facts. Lands were assessed at the Government price, $1.25
per acre. As land was plenty at this price, it is fair to presume that as-
sessments were made at the full cash value. The taxes were only four
in number besides the poll tax, viz : county, state, school and road, and
they summed fifteen mills. In these later days, when assessments are
made at one-third of the cash value, taxation is high if it reaches twenty-
five mills, with township school taxes included. There are no footings
to show what the total value of the assessed property was ; but the taxes
themselves aggregated as follows :
County tax $696 68
State tax i75 o^
School tax 1 1 5 42
Road tax 230 75
20 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
besides $650 of poll taxes. This would make the total assessable prop-
erty in the county at that time, worth $182,789.
The richest man in the county was John McKay, of Washington
Prairie. He paid the enormous sum of $23.94 in taxes. Francis Tea-
bout was close up to him, being down for $23.16. Benjamin Beard
followed with $20.95. These three were the very rich men, for they
were the only ones who paid more than $20 ; or, rather, were regularly
assessed for sums that amounted to precisely that figure. The list of
other persons who paid over $10 is so short that we give the names in
Joseph Spillman, Calmar $18 96
Levi Moore, Burr Oak 17 68
Moses McSwain, Bloomfield 16 83
James S. Ackerson, Burr Oak 16 00
James B. Cutler, Frankville 15 78
Newell & Derrick, Decorah 15 73
Ingebret Peterson, Decorah 14 82
Isaac Callender, Frankville 14 32
Samuel Allen, Bloomfield 14 30
O. W. Emery, Decorah 13 81
<!iideon Green, Bloomfield 13 59
C. E Brooks, Military 13 04
David Bartlett, Canoe 12 76
J. T. Atkins, Frankville 12 29
Joseph Huber, Washington ii 27
Abner DeCow, Bloomfield ii 24
W. F Kimball, Decorah ii 17
Wm. Cummings, Bloomfield II 13
Richard M. Carson, Washington ii 13
Wm. Campbell, Bloomfield ii 05
Andrew Mayer, Washington 10 83
John W. Smith, Frankville 10 72
James D. McKay, Frankville 10 09
This table indicates that the wealth of the county then centered on
Washington Prairie. Decorah with her present capital certainly makes
a poor showing. The population, too, was most numerous there. This
the following table, showing all the names to which land is assessed, will
more clearly show. Although the majority of those named have passed
away, there are enough familiar names to make it interesting reading,
and worth preserving :
Samuel Allen 200 Charles Hawthorn 40
G. B. Abbmar 40 Benj. Hawk 200
Charles Anderson 160 John W. Jenkins 160
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Geo. Blake 240
John Braumire 80
Samuel Clark 140
John Cowen 360
Wm. Clark 20
Grace Cohen 40
Jonathan Dean 80
David Duff 120
Abner DeCow 480
Wm. Elliott 40
Samuel N. Faint 80
Gideon Green 400
Levi Grundy 80
Adam Garen 40
Samuel B. Jones 80
Tasa T. Kendt 40
Maria Lacy 40
Henry McSwain 160
Moses McSwain 120
John Mc^Iartin 40
Nathan McKinley 80
Henry Noble 40
Andrew Stewart 120
Margaret Slaught 40
Kund Thompson 40
Richard Thomas 80
John Thompson 160
J. T. Atkins 1,60
Antin Anderson 80
Robert Angers 160
Christ. Anderson 80
Lucy Adams 160
Henry Brandt 160
John C. Buckley 260
Benson Egbert 160
Thomas Beard 400
Benjamin Beard 480
Wm. Beard 40
Wm. Birdsell 240
John Bennett 80
Besalid Bennett 160
Isaac Calender 520
William Cummings 400
James Cutlip 180
Edward Carter 80
Francis Carlton 80
David Duff 160
Emanuel Dean 160
James Dunn 160
Francis Durst 40
H. D, Evans 240
J. H. Gellelan 80
Egbret Gulbranson 80
Joseph Gordon 80
Ole Hulverson 160
J. H. Hawk 240
Isaac Hawk 240
John Halver 160
James Kilgore 160
Edward Knight 240
Benj. Knight 80
John Krauder 40
Alanson Loomis 160
Ole Anderson Loma 80
J. D. McKay 160
John McKay 480
Miron Dean 40
M. McSwain 200
John Martin 320
Drury Mays 160
John F. Neider 80
Erick B. Olson 240
Erick Olson 160
Knud Olson 160
Robert Pierce 160
Samuel Peterson 160
Harris Reed 160
D. Richtie 160
J. H. Ransom 160
Dwight Rathbun 240
Walter Rathbun 160
John W. Smith 320
Jas. B. Schenck 160
Andrew Stewart 40
James Smith 160
S. Schrekner 80
Josiah r. Tuttle 200
George Teeple 160
Francis Teabout 640
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Levi Hubbell i6o Knud Tolefifson 87
Samuel Hood 80 Elizabeth Tuttle 40
Elizabeth Joiner 160 Wm. Woods 120
Matlen Johnson 320 Oliver F. Woods 80
John Anderson 160 William J Peck 160
Mary Ashby 40 Andrew Sharp 160
Chauncy Brooks 160
C. E. Brooks 160
Dolvy Howard 1 60
John O. Porter 160
Geo. Bechel 80
Martin Bechel 80
T. H Semiss 80
Jacob Smith 40
Tolef and Lars Tosten 200
Charles K. Wood 40
Jas. C. H. Miller 80
Andrew Meyer 200
John L. Carson 160 John S. Neal 160
Geo. A. Clark 160
Wm. H. Fulton 160
John Gardner 320
Lewis Harkins 160
Joseph Huber 440
P>ancis N. Palmer 160
Harvey P. Waters 80
Gardner Waters 160
Aaron Young I
Jacob Abrahamson 160
J. B. Cutler 40
Knud Gulbranson 120
Ole Gullikson 160
Egbert Gulbtanson 80
Halvor Halvorson 160
Erick Clements 160
O. A. Lomen 80
Ole Larson 80
Wm. Lansing 160
Michae] Omlie 80
Thomas Simonson 160
T. Holverson 80
Ole Tostenson 80
Jacob Abrahamson 80
Thos P. Barker 80
Ann Bowie 40
John L. Carson 200
William Day 160
M. A. Meintner 160
I'hilip Morse 200
Joseph McGehee 80
Newell & Derrick 42
R. G. Newland 40
Claiborne Day 1 60 Engebret Peterson 480
Nathan Drake 160
Adams Dexter 160
O. W. Emery 327
N. S. Gilbert 74
Thor Gulbranson 120
Geo. W. Hazel 200
Adam Heckart 240
W. F. Kimball 200
Daniel Kuykendahl 280
Amasa Perkins 40
William Parker 80
Thomas Robertson 160
Joseph Reed 240
A. Simmonson 160
Jason Tuttle 160
John R. Townsley 80
Abraham Taxell 40
Geo. A. Wigeland 160
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 23
H. Anstenson 80 Peter Jamison 200
Ole Asleson 40 Chas. McLaughlin 40
John Evenson 80 H. Oleson 40
Jane Fletcher 40 Wilson Smith 200
Ever Gulbranson , 80 Tolef Tuleston 160
Ole Gunderson 80
Benjamin Disbie 80 M. A. Meinter 160
Philo S. Curtis 80 Levi Moore 40
E. Chapmen 320 Geo. Smith 160
Geo. A. Clark 160 Robert Stockton 160
Emery Burritt 203 James Turner 74
Geo. R. Emery 40 Daniel Wheeler 80
S. E. Fairbanks 160 Henry Wilson 40
Bernard Harmon 160
James J. Ackerson 160 J. Hornson 196
John Bodinson.. 40 L. Iverson 75
David Bartlett 480 Thos. Kennedy 40
Samuel Bolinger 160 John Knudson 240
Jas. B. Cutler 40 David Kinnison 204
Wm. T. Cochrane 80 S. M. Leach 240
J. Freedenberger 200 E. B. Horton 160
B.F.Giles 120 Elizabeth Potter 40
N. S. Giblert 80 Ole Snear 40
Michael Gatlin 154 Wm. Shirley 40
Lorenzo Gates 160 N. Updegraff 160
Joseph Harper 160 Wm. B. Updegraff 320
H. Holverson 160
J. T. Atkins 80 Permany Hantly 40
Robert Angus 80 C.N. Hatch 40
Philander Baker 160 Nels Johnson 160
John Barthel 160 German Johnson 163
Levi Barnhouse 80 Geo. Keatings 80
John C. Buckley 40 Wm. Kyrk 40
David Bender . . . , 160 John S. Morse 80
Daniel Becknell 80 Lyman Morse 80
L Carmichael 40 Thor Severson 100
Chas. Benjamin 120 W. Sanford 1 76
Julien Dougherty 40 Tosten Nelson 80
F. M. Fuller 160 Lebrend Whitney 40
Torkel Hanson 160 Leroy C. Walter 320
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Benj. Beard i6o John Klontz i66
J. B. Cutler i6o Peter K. Londgon 120
H. Halverson 40 Ole Magneson 160
This completes the entire list of landed assessments, and, it will be seen,
includes only twelve of the twenty townships. Of the eight others no
mention is made. These were the four in the northern tier, and four out
of five on the west side. The fifth has only one assessment, and that
is to a resident in Calmar township. That there were dwellers
or squatters on this territory is beyond question ; because some
of them — like Mr. Header, D. D. Huff, and others, who came
as early as 185 1 — are still living on the land they selected in
that year. These lands, however, did not really come into market
until a year or two later, so that settlers could acquire title. For this
reason they were assessed, if at all, with '* personahty " only. A list of
these will complete, what I believe to be the most perfect list that can
be obtained of the really " first settlers " — those who were here and took
part in the organization of the county. In the foregoing lists, as well as
in the following, there are doubtless some non-residents ; but these can-
not, at this late day, be selected out. The names that follow are those
of persons of the latter classes, who cannot be assorted into townships as
a whole. Many of them, however, can be readily located by the reader :
Andrus, Erastus V.
Bisby, L. W.
Brush, Samuel F.
Carson, Richard M.
Howard, John R.
Johnson, John R.
Johnson, John G.
Olson, Ole (five of 'em)
Olson, Holver (two)
Pierce, D. W.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Chase, James G.
Dexter, Oscar C.
Fannon, Acles H.
Good water, Benjamin
Hanky, Ole A.
Hufif, D. D.
Hazlitt, Thomas J.
Kincaid, A. L.
Krumm, G. S.
Krumm, G. L .
Klein, J. N.
Moore, James R.
Moore, James F.
Meader, Ezekiel E.
Miller, J N.
Spencer M. B.
Sherwin, M. B.
Tate, George W.
Varnall, John H.
Perhaps it would be well to follow up the list of the first taxpayers
with a list of the early settlers, so far as such is obtainable. Such a list
is necessarily, in a great measure, a repetition of what has been given in
previous chapters. Through the kindness ot Mr. A. K. Bailey I am
permitted the use of the old settlers' cards, taken as admission tickets at
the door of Steyer's Opera House at the time of the organization of the
Old Settlers' Association, July 4, 1876. It was the object of the inventor
of this mode of gaining admission, not only to make the cards serve
that purpose, but also to give a condensed history of each individual ;
and in order to serve this purpose, to the best advantage, printed cards,
with blank spaces to fill, were used. The person gaining admission
by this means was obliged to fill the blank spaces left for that pur-
pose, -and which, when filled, would give his age, when married, to
whom and what year, and the date of his settlement in the county, as
well as the number of the section on which he settled.
The following list of the very earliest settlers is quite complete :
Hamilton Campbell and his wife Sarah came to Winneshiek County
26 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
June 7, 1848, and settled on Sections 23-26, Bloomfield Township.
Hamilton Campbell was born in 1802, and married in 1837.
Gotlob Krum and wife came to Winneshiek County on the 29th of
June, 1848, and settled on the N. W. Q. of Section 17, in what is Wash-
Gotleib Krum, June 29, 1848, Washington.
David Reed and wife, settled on the N. E. Q. of Section 25, August
1 5, 1848, Bloomfield Township.
Daniel Reed settled on the N. E. Q. of Section 25, August 15, 1848,
John N. Topliff settled on the S. E. Q. of Section 25, in Bloomfield
Township, April i, 1848.
Andrew Meyer and wife came to Winneshiek County on the 1st of
April, 1849, and settled in Washington Township, on Section 23.
Phenenas Banning settled on the N. W. of N. W. Q. of Section 5, in
what is now Bloomfield Township, in June, 1859.
William Day and Elizabeth, his wife, came to ^Vinneshiek County
and settled on what is now Decorah, on the loth of June, 1849. John
F. Day, same. Richard V. Day, same. Claibourne Day, same.
O. W. Emery came to Winneshiek County on the 20th of August,
and settled on the N. W. Q. of Section 1 7, Canoe Township.
Josiah Goddard, Jr., October 10, 1849, Decorah.
The following are settlers who made a permanent settlement in the
county in 1850 :
David Kinnison and his wife Henrietta, who settled on the N. W. Q.
of Section 7.
John DeCow and his wife Mary D., who settled on the N. E. Q. of
Section i, in Bloomfield Township, June 29.
A. O. Lommen and his wife Seigie, who settled on the E. y^ of N.
W. Q. of Section 2, in Springfield Township, June 12.
Erick Anderson settled on the S. E. Q. of Section 24, Springfield
Township, June 12.
A. K. Anderson came to Winneshiek County on the 20th of June,
and settled on the N. E. Q. of Section 23, Springfield Township.
Tolef Simianson and his wife Betsy came to Winneshiek County July
2, and settled on the N. E. Q. of Section i, Springfield Township.
Russel Dean, April, Bloomfield Township.
Ole G. Johnson settled on the S. W. Q. of Section 31, Glenwood
Township, July 2.
Nelson Johnson and his wife Anna came to Winneshiek County on
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 27
the 2d of July, and settled on the N. E. Q. of Section 36, Decorah.
Grin Simmons came to Winneshiek County on the 3d of July, and
settled on the N. E. Q, of Section ;^6f Decorah Township.
E. G. Opdahl came to Winneshiek County on the 4th of July, and
settled on the N. E. Q. of Section 14, Springfield Township.
Albert Opdahl settled on the N. E. Q. of Section 14, Springfield
Township, July 4th, and his wife, Mary H., settled on the N. W. Q. of
the N. W. Q. of Section 13, Decorah Township, July 25.
John W. Holm came to Winneshiek County on the 30th of July, and
settled on the N. E. Q. of Section ^^^ Canoe Township.
Benjamin L. Bisby came to Winneshiek County on the ist of August,
and settled on the S. W. Q. of Section 29, Hesper Township.
Peter K. Langland and his wife Emma, came to Winneshiek County
m August, and settled on the N. W. Q. of Section 10, Pleasant Town-
John Evanson came to Winneshiek County on the 25th of September,
and settled on the N. E. Q. of Section 32, Madison Township.
Christopher A. Estrim and his wife Juger Caroline, settled on the S.
half of S. E. Q, of Section 5, on the 3d of September, Frankville.
John Fredenburg settled, the 20th of October, on the N. W. Q. of
Section 6, Canoe Township.
WiUiam Padden and wife, settled the 25th of November, Section 28,
John Rosa, came to Winneshiek County with his father, and settled on
Jacob Dufi", Frankville.
Edward Tracy, Decorah.
Walter Rathbun and his wife Welthie, came to Winneshiek County in
March, and settled on the N. W. Q. of Section 16.
The following is a partial list of the pioneers who came to the county
in 185 1 :
E. C. Dunning and wife, settled on Section 16, Decorah Township,
Geo. Blake, April, Bloomfield Township.
Russell Dean, April, Bloomfield Township.
E. E. Clement, Springfield, settled March i, on the S. W. S. W Q. of
Section i, Springfield Township.
D. D. Huff and his wife Anna, settled April 26, on the S. E. Q. of
Section 29, Hesper Township.
28 * HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Peter E. Haugen, came to Winneshiek County on the 12th of May,
and settled on the N. W. Q. of Section 31, Decorah Township.
Simeon M. Leach and his wife, settled the 12th of May, on the S.
W. Q. of Section 17, in Canoe Township.
A. V. Anderson and wife, Permelia, settled the first part of June, on
the N. E. Q. of Section 24.
Torkel Hanson and his wife, Sophronia, came -to Winneshiek County
about the 15th day of June, and settled on the N. E. Q. of Section 25^
Christopher Evans, settled the 15th of June, on the N. E. Q. of Sec-
tion 32, Glen wood Township.
Iver G. Ringstad and wife, settled in Madison Township, on the 30th
of June, on the S. half of Section 29.
Herbrand Onstine, settled in Madison Township.
Helge Nelson Myran, settled in Madison Township, on the S. W. S.
W. Q. of Section 9.
Ole M. Asleson and wife, setded July 12, on the N. E. Q. of Section
8, in Madison Township.
William Birdsall and his wife, Mary, settled on Section 28, Frank-
ville Township, on the 13th of August.
Gulbrand Erickson Wig, settled in September, on the S. E. Q. of
Section 36, Madison Township.
Gulbrand T. Lommen, settled on Section 33, Decorah Township.
Ole Kittleson and wife, settled on Section 17, Decorah Township.
W. L. Iverson, Pleasant.
Isaac Birdsall, Frankville.
Ole Tolefson Wig, and his wife, Thora, settled on Section 31, Deco-
George. V. Puntey, settled on Section 30, Burr Oak Township.
A. K. Drake, Decorah.
Erick Olsen Bakke and wife, settled on Section 5, Frankville Town-
Nathan Drake, settled on Section 7, Glenwood Township.
RoUand Tobiason and wife, settled on Section 10, Springfield Town-
It cannot be claimed that this chapter is spicy, and it may not be as
interesting to the general reader as those which have preceeded it ; but
for historical purposes it is one of the most important that could be
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 29
County Organization — County Seat Struggle — First County Officers —
Judge David Reed — Toumship Organization — The Election of 18^2
— First Representative — Hon. Jas. D. McKay — A. H. Fannon
■ — JVintk Election — Results of the Various Elections down to 18^4.
There is no portion of history more difficult to write than the poHtical
history of a people. Especially is this so when the active participants
in the various political struggles of the past are still living. Each one
interested has an opinion of the issues of the contests in which he was
engaged, and which are generally the opposite to those of his opponents.
In interviewing many who buckled on the political armor in days gone
by, I was astonished by the many strange versions given me, of political
affairs of early days, and which, if published as told by the different
authors, would furnish little more than a medley of contradiction. Such
being the difficulty of gaining information, I refrain from entering into
extended details concerning the various political contests that have ag-
itated the county, and rest content with publishing the plain, historical
facts, so far as ascertainable.
In order to do this acceptably, I shall quote quite extensively in this
first chapter of political history, from an historical address delivered by
Mr. A. K. Bailey, on the 4th of July, 1876, before the Old Settler's As-
sociation of Winneshiek County, at a meeting held in Steyer's Opera
In that address Mr. Bailey said :
" Five hundred and seventy pioneers in 1850 ! No wonder they were
thinking ol getting under the pale of the law. That winter some of the
residents began to feel as though they were able to take upon themselves
the dignity of an organized county. Judge Price, of C'layton, was up
taking the census, for state purposes, the previous fall, and being the
representative of this entire Northeastern Iowa, he offered to attend to
the matter for them. Accordingly, January 15th, 185 1, an organizing
act was approved by the governor, and became a law. It constituted
Winneshiek an organized county, and after March ist, 185 1, appointed
John L. Carson the organizing sheriff, and directed him to set the stakes,
one at, or near Louisville, on the Turkey River; another at, or near
30 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Swainey's mill — meaning McS wain's — on the Turkey River; and a third
at, or near Decorah, on the Iowa River, as points that might contend for
the location of the county seat, at an election to be held on the first
Monday in April. On the first page of the first record of the county, I
find this brief certificate as the only result :
STATE OF IOWA, )
Winneshiek County, j I hereby certify that at an election held in
the County of Winneshiek, and State of Iowa, on the 7th day of April,
A. D. 185 1, Decorah was duly elected to be the county seat of said
In testimony whereof, I have set my hand the 14th of April, 185 1.
J. L. Carson, Organizing Sheriff.
"This is all the record says, but there is a story behind it which has been
told me under the strongest injunctions that it must not go into print.
The county seat location has ever been the bone of contention and bitter
strife in new counties, and Winneshiek was no exception. I may say
that Decorah was not probably the choice of an actual majority of the
settlers. Had all the votes been fairly polled, and especially had the
election returns been correctly made, and properly certified to, Moneek
would have unquestionably been chosen ; but why it was not so, is a
story to be told ten, fifteen or twenty years hence. Decorah was legally
designated, at -any rate, and here the capital has remained until this day.
But it has not been a peaceful abiding place. From that day until 1856
or 1857, the question of re-location was an ever present issue in individual
schemings and all elections. It was the hidden spring behind all plans
and outside appearances — the point of attack and defence. Moneek, it
is true, soon gave up its claims, for its prosperity began to wane in 1852
or 1853. Louisville never got beyond a name, and a paper existence —
if, indeed, it ever arrived at the latter stage— through the quarrels of its
proprietors, Francis Rogers and Lewis Harkins. Both these embryo
cities gave way for another rival, in the town of Freeport, where a few
enterprising, pushing men had settled. This rivalship culminated in the
" And this resulted in the passage of the law, which has ever since
created much difficulty in the matter of a re-location of a county-seat.
I refer to the law authorizing a vote on petition of a majority of the
electors polled at the last preceding election. Under this law, in 1856
Freeport appeared as an applicant for a vote on re-location. In the fall
before 420 votes were polled. Their petition was signed by 400 peti-
tioners ; but it was met by a remonstrance bearing nearly 800 signa-
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 3 1
tures. The Court, our venerable friend Judge Reed, presiding, decided
to grant no vote. The July following another petition of the same
tenor was presented, it being signed by 451 names. Another remon-
strance was forthcoming, signed by 715 persons. In both cases the
petitions and remonstrances were certified to by affidavit as containing
only names of actual residents. The last appeal met with a fate similar
to the first. The case was removed to the District Court on a writ of
certiorari, and was ended by a decision of Judge Myirdock, affirming
the decision of the County Court. In the following year the erection
of the Court House at Decorah began, and Freeport gave up the
" Such is a short history of the selection of the county capital. I may
add that perhaps at no time in the history of the county has there been
any more desperate struggling or any harder work done than in the
caucuses and elections which preceded and culminated in these contests.
From the best information I can gain, I am strongly of the opinion
that notwithstanding the affidavits as to actual citizenship which accom-
panied the petitions and remonstrances, Freeport labored under the
disadvantage of being off the main line of immigration which was
pouring in, and through to the West, as well as Minnesota. There are
stories still told how money was used and promised, but from the best
knowledge I can acquire, I think this is not true. If sharp practice
was played, and " shenanigan " was used, we, to-day, looking back
upon those times, cannot say that evil has come of it. The result was
to prevent the county-seat from getting upon wheels ; and when a
settled conclusion was reached, the work of building up and improving
began immediately, and has been pursued so steadily that every resident
of Winneshiek feels it a matter of pride that his county town is
excelled by no other of equal size in the entire State. He knows that
it has a repute far and near as a bustling, enterprising, well-built manu-
facturing and commercial young city, situated in the center of a dense
population, draining a section unrivaled for its agricultural wealth.
" The question of organization was settled by the selection of a county
seat, as we have seen. It remained to put in motion the machinery
which should perfect the work. If I am rightfully informed, the resi-
dents came together some time in July following at the log cabin of
Nelson Johnson, Esq., in the southeast corner of Decorah township, and
held the first caucus. As a result of their deliberations, when election
was held, on the fourth day of August ensuing, the following persons
were chosen :
32 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
David Reed over J. R. Morse, as County Judge.
George Bachel over James F. More, as Sheriff.
Francis Rogers over William Vail, as Supervisor.
John N. Kline over R. G. Nuvland, as Surveyor.
Daniel Kuykendahl over P. Morse, as Recorder and Treasurer.
E. W. Aldrich over D. Bender, as Coroner.
Isaac Underhill, F. Joseph Huber and Joseph Brown served as
Judges of Election, the first two certifying to the result as Justices
of the Peace, whether by appointment, or as elected in the spring, is
more than I can say ; 82 ballots, all told, were cast, and Mr. Huber,
still a citizen of Washington Township, is with us to-day to personally
attest the validity and fairness of the first vote. In April following John
McKay was elected School Fund Commissioner, and W. F. Kimball
Clerk of the Courts. In my researches I almost came to the conclu-
sion that salary- grabbing was not a latter-day invention, for, at the very
first I found the Judge, Clerk and Treasurer coming together at stated
intervals, each reporting the fees he had received, and dividing the them
between themselves impartially. The Treasurer would then report the
cash in the treasury, and this would also be divided with equal impar-
tiahty, and then the County Judge would issue county warrants to each
one for the balance found due. This sj^stem, however, lasted only until
taxes were levied and collected, and then ceased.
" David Reed was the first County Judge. He was bom in June,
1799, and consequently was 52 years of age when first elected County
Judge of Winneshiek County. His regular term of service covered
four years — years, too, of the stormiest character, in which, as the
autocrat of the county, he could share the responsibilities with no one,
and shirk no duties. Of course his conduct was sharply criticised, and
in his time he bore his share of public obloquy. Judge Reed held the
oftice of County Judge by the suffrages of the people, continuously,
from 1851 until 1855.
"We, at this day, would decide promptly, that at most only the vote
of Bloomfield township should have been thrown out. The court de-
cided to set aside the entire election, as to judge, and declared no one
was elected. One of the assistants has explained to me, that instead of
being satisfied with this, there were some who ' cussed the court like
pizen,' because they did not declare the entire election void. The result
was to continue Judge Reed in office for two years more, during which
time he built and left as his legacy, the (for the times) splendid court
house, which is only now becoming too cramped for public use.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. "33
'' George Bachel, the first sherift", is still an active, influential citizen of
Jackson township. The duties of his office were not very burdensome,
and he is to-day as hale as many a younger man."
Francis Rogers, the first supervisor, was one of the oldest residents of
the county, and was noted for the many litigations he had with his
Daniel Kuykendahl, the first recorder and treasurer, had his office at
his home, which was a log house situated under a bluff near a large
spring, about a half a mile out of Freeport, on the Lansing road. The
duties of his office at that time were not very arduous, and his mode of
keeping the records was somewhat primitive. He had not even a
decent desk at which to write. It was his custom to record his deeds,
and then pigeon-hole them between the cracks in the logs.
Information in regard to the history of these first officers is very
The number of votes cast at these early elections is one of the best
indices of the incoming of early settlers, and a few words will give these
data. At that first election there were, as has been stated, 82 votes cast ;
in April following, there were 180; in August, 1852, 150; in April,
1853,224; in 1854, 280; in 1855, 521; in 1856, 816; in August,
1857, 894; in October, 1858, 1,288; in the Presidential election of
i860, 2,162 ; in the Presidential election of 1876, 4,100.
We have seen that there were three distinct points recognized at the
very commencement as having claims to prominence in the county.
Polls were held for each of these three first elections at these places only,
and they were called precincts. It was not until 1854 that even a single
name appears on the records to show that any other title than that of
precinct was given to them. March 8th, 1852, it was ordered by the
county court that elections should be held in the ensuing xA.pril, at the
following places :
In Precinct No. i, at house of Wm. Day.
In Precinct No. 2, at house of Francis Rogers.
In Precinct No. 3, at house of John DeCow.
This is our only information as to the first division into what we have
since known as townships. Their boundaries we can only infer from
subsequent entries. In July, 1852, the division line between precincts 2 '
and 3 was changed, and made to run between ranges 7 and 8, thus
throwing, as the record says, one more tier of townships into the third
precinct. From this I infer that the 3d precinct originally consisted of
what is now known as Bloomfield and Frankville townships, and was six
34 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
miles wide, east and west, and twelve long. Precinct No. 2 covered
three times as much territory, and was eighteen miles wide, and twelve
long. This left all the remainder of the county — now comprising
twelve organized townships — in precinct No. i. March i, 1852, the
latter was so divided as to make wiiat is now Canoe, Bluffton and Or-
leans townships, with the townships north of them, precinct No. 4.
February 5, 1854, what are now Military and Springfield were divided
from Washington (now named for the first time) and created township
(not precinct) No. 5.
March 6, 1854, Township 98, range 7, was separated from " Decorah
Precinct," and was called Township No. 6. It is now known as Glen-
March 11, 1855, "Burr Oak Precinct" was divided, and the entire
tier on the north line of the county was called Burr Oak. The remain-
ing part of the precinct was named Canoe. At the same session of the
county court, township 99, range 10, was set off and given the name of
On the tax list of 1855, proper names are given to each of those
precincts. Precinct No. i had become Decorah, Glenwood, Canoe,
Burr Oak and Pilot Grove; township No. 2 appears as Bloomfield and
Summit (now Frankville), and No. 3 had been divided into Military and
Washington ; but no record other than I have quoted appears upon the
court minutes as to these and subsequent changes. According to the
tax lists, in 1856 Pleasant township took its name and place; in 1858
Summit had become Frankville, and Pilot Grove, Orleans; Springfield
had been separated from Military, Calmar and Sumner from Washington,
and Hesper and Fremont from Burr Oak. In i860 Madison was taken
fi-om Decorah, and Highland divided from Pleasant; and in 1862 the
symmetry of all the townships was completed by the di\asion of Lin-
coln from Sumner, and Jackson from Washington.
The curious in matters of nomenclature might wish to pause here and
ponder on the derivation of these names, but the space that speculations
would occupy on this subject can be more profitably used otherwise, and
I pass on to the several elections held in the county.
The second election held in the county after a permanent organiza-
tion had been effected was, April 5, 1852. The total number of votes
polled at this election was 180. This election, as the records show,
gave the county its first School Fund Commissioner and District Clerk.
The successful parties who first bore the honors of these ofiices were,
respectively, N. S. Gilbert and W. F. Kimball. Out of 180 ballots
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
. cast for School Fund Commissioner, N. S. Gilbert had 4 majority over
his opponent, John D. McKay. There were 156 votes cast for the
office of District Clerk, of which number W. F. Kimball received 88,
and his opponent, James B. Schenck, 68. Kimball was declared elected
by 20 majority. The vote for Coroner stood as follows: J. B. Chase
had 66 votes, and his opponent, Wm. Painter, 44. James B. Chase
was elected Coroner. At this election, for the first time, the new county
helped elect a District Judge, and it showed its steadfast faith and high
appreciation of Judge T. S. Wilson, by giving him 162 votes.
As a result of the third election, held in August, 1852, the following
offices were filled :
M. B. Derrick was elected District Clerk by 18 majority. H. K.
Averill was elected Surveyor. James D. McKay was elected Prosecuting
Attorney by 29 majority.
James D. McKay was born in Livingston County, New York, on the
24th of February, 1 8 15. Until 16 years of age he was taught the
common branches of an education by his father, when he was sent to
the Genesee Wesley an Seminary, situated at Lima, New York, to be
fitted for the ministry. He also studied law under James Butler, a
cousin of Gen. Butler. At the age of 2 1 he became acquainted with
Julia Stone, to whom he was married September, 1836. He immi-
grated to Winneshiek County in October, 1851, and settled on the S.
W. Q. of Section 15, Township 97, Range 7, where he still resides. He
has served the public as Prosecuting Attorney and Member of the
Assembly. In 1854, at a District Convention called at Waukon (the
district then was composed of Allamakee and Winneshiek Counties) he
was nominated for Representative, and elected. In the Legislature he
favored the " Maine Liquor Law," which was adopted by the Iowa
State Legislature. In this election he ran on the Republican ticket, which
was successful, not only in the district, but throughout the State, so
much so that the former power held by the Democrats was wrested
from them. A Republican Governor was elected in the person of
James W. Grimes, and a majority secured on a joint ballot in the
As a result of the fourth political contest, held in April, 1853, the
following persons were chosen to fill the various offices :
Aaron Newell was elected for District Clerk, over his opponents, W.
F. Kimball and N. S. Gilbert. ■
N. S. Gilbert was chosen as Recorder and Treasurer.
H. K. Averill was elected County Surveyor.
$6 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
J. F. Moore was elected Drainage Commissioner.
A. H. Fannon was elected Coroner.
Acles Haven Fannon was born in Wythe County, Virginia, April 17,
1800. He settled at Freeport, Winneshiek County, in 1850, and laid
out the town, and for several years engaged in tavern-keeping. He was
the first mail contractor to carry the mails to Decorah. He contracted
to carry the mails from Hardin to Decorah, from Decorah to Fort
Atkinson, and from Lansing to Decorah. He was elected Coroner in
At an election held in Winneshiek County on the ist of August, 1853,
there were 175 ballots cast.
N. S. Gilbert was in the field for Recorder and Treasurer, without op-
position, and was elected, there being only three scattering votes polled.
N. S. Gilbert, the second Recorder and Treasurer of the county, was
an estimable young man, possessed of great energy. He was efficient,
proud spirited, and decidedly the most shrewd man called upon in early
days to administer county afiairs ; notwithstanding that he was freely ac-
credited With the possession of all these qualifications, the tongue of
scandal, soon after his induction into ofiice, roiled him about as a sweet
morsel to its taste.
James F, Moore was declared elected Sheriff", over Lewis Eddy and
A. H. Fannon.
Elijah Middlebrook was elected County Surveyor. There was no
opposition candidate for Surveyor.
Samuel Kendall was elected Coroner.
^The newly elected Sheriff, James F. Moore, failed to qualify, and
Judge Reed, therefore, declared the office vacant, and appointed Wm.
F. Kimball to fill it.
Soon after the election the newly elected Recorder deserted the country,
leaving the county without a Recorder and Treasurer. Judge Reed
appointed Thos. L Hazlett to fill the vacancy.
Mr. Gilbert was not a defaulter, nor did he desert his office intention-
ally, although at the time he left this was the current report. The ad-
ditional crime of eloping with a Mrs. Moore, the Sherift"'s wife, was
charged to his account, and it is true that the parties left Decorah
together, and afterwards went to St. Louis and lived as man and wife ;
yet at the time of their leaving Decorah, it is plain that there was no crim-
inal intent or previous arrangement. It was in the spring of the year, and
Mr. Gilbert, instead of intentionally deserting his office, went on a
journey to St. Louis to purchase goods. Mrs. Moore was on her way
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 37
to friends in Wisconsin, and had started on the trip with the avowed
purpose of leaving her husband. Mrs. Moore defended her course on
the ground of ill treatment received at the hands of Mr. Moore. While
at Lansing waiting for a steamer, they had occasion to hold'~a private
conference, which was interpreted, by prying parties, as a criminal inti-
macy. The report, at the time unfounded and untruthful, was freely
circulated. Mr. Gilbert having compassion for the woman, and being
ashamed to return to his home, took her under his charge. Things had
come to such a crisis that they now resolved to elope, and did so, going
to St. Louis.
Nelson Burdick was elected Recorder and Treasurer, over N. Otis, by
James Van Pelt was electea Sheriff over A. H. Fannon, by i88 ma-
Henry K. Averill was elected Surveyor, and Phillip Morse, Coroner.
On the ist oi April, Aaron Newell resigned the office of Clerk of the
District Court, and Nathaniel Otis was appointed to serve in his stead.
In the April election of 1S56, there were 816 votes polled. The only
officer elected was School Fund Commissioner. There were plenty of
candidates in the field, willing to assume the responsibilities of this office,
as the following list will show: J. E. B. Morgan, Elijah Middlebrook, J.
P. McKinney and Thomas Bell. J. E. B. Morgan was elected to fill
the office by 48 majority. This office was discontinued during Morgan's
At the April election in 1854, John McKay was re-elected School
Fund Commissioner, over LI. Stewart.
Elijah Middlebrook was elected Sheriff, by 20 majority, over James
Nelson Burdick was elected Recorder and Treasurer, over Wm. F.
Kimball, by 73 majority. Mr. Burdick filled the office acceptably.
He was continued in office until 1859.
Wm. Painter was elected Drainage Commissioner.
38 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
POLITICAL HISTORY. '
Levi Bullis — Sixth Electioti — Ezekiel E. Cooley — Eighth Election —
y^udge Reed Holds Over — Ninth Election — Winneshiek' s First Sena-
tor — Hon. J. T. Atkijis — First Special Election — G. N. Holway —
J. E. Simpso7i^Ho7i. H. C. Bulls — The County Supervisor System
—Hon. G. R. Willett—A. K. Bailey— Hon. K^iudt Berg— Hon. M.
The second chapter of the poHtical history of the county commences
with the spring election of 1854. At this age of the county, office began
to be worth striving for. The county had increased wonderfully in
population and wealth, and the force and energy of its hardy sons was
fast developing its resources— so- much so that it could afford to pay its
public servants well for their ser\dces. At least, such is a logical suppo-
sition, as office-seekers were ever numerous and willing to serve the
public. In May, of this year, came to the county and settled at its
capital, a young lawyer, just in his prime, who for many years afterward
\vielded a strong political influence in county affairs.
Levi Bullis was bom April 5, 1828, in West Plattsburg, New York.
He lived in Plattsburg until 26 years of 4.ge, and there acquired his
education. He early attended the Balston Springs Law School,
and acquired a legal education. In 1853 Mr. Bullis left his old
home and came to Illinois, where he remained about a year, when he
was induced, by the flattering reports he received from Averill, an old
schoolmate, to emigrate from there to Iowa. He reached Decorah
May, 1854, and immediately commenced the practice of his profession.
The first week after his arrival he tried a case and won it. Mr. Bullis
was elected one of the original members of the Board of Supervisors in
i860. Although active in politics in the county, yet this is the
only office he was ever elected to. It was his friends that
he worked for in politics, and not himself, and not unfrequently
have they succeeded through his instrumentality. Mr. Bullis is
characterized with a rough exterior and a warm heart. He has aided
mqfe young men to position, and placed them on the road to success,
than perhaps any other man in the county. He was married in 1864
to Abbie R. Dibble, of Whitehall, New York.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 39
The many political contests that followed that of 1854 were waged
by two parties known as the Bullis and Cooley factions. The parties
were named thus because their recognized leaders were respectively Levi
Bullis and E. E. Cooley. Many rich incidents could be told that took
place in the contest that ensued under the dictatorship of these men.
At the sixth election, held in August, 1854, there were 262 votes cast
for the office of State Representative, of which number James D.
McKay received 194, and his opponent, Wm. H. Morrison, 68. James
D. McKay was declared elected.
Aaron Newell was elected Clerk of the District Court over Daniel
Albert B. Webber was elected Prosecuting Attorney over Calvin
The newly-elected Prosecuting Attorney failed to qualify. The County
Judge appointed Dryden Smith to fill the vacancy, and he, too, resigned.
J. T. Atkins was appointed, accepted, and served through the term.
In the seventh political contest held in the county, April, 1855, a vote
was taken on the prohibitory liquor law. The result stood as follows: for
the law, 167; and against it, 169.
Hon. E. E. Cooley was elected Prosecuting Attorney, over Levi Bullis,
J. B. Onstine and William Bailey.
Ezekiel E. Cooley was born in Victory, Cayuga County, New York,
Jan. 12, 1827. He received an academic education, and at the age of
17 commenced teaching school, which occupation he followed five years.
In 1847 he emigrated to Kentucky, where he taught, and read law with
Judge Trimble, and was admitted to the bar in 1849. He returned to
New York, and fi-om there emigrated to Decorah, in October, 1854,
where he has ever since continued the practice of his profession, with an
exception of one year spent in the army.
In 1857 he was elected member of the first Legislature, under the new
state constitution, and served with marked ability. He was appointed
postmaster of Decorah, in 1861, and held the office until he resigned, in
1863. In September, 1864, President Lincoln appointed him commis-
sary of subsistence, with the rank of Captain of cavalry. He was
brevetted Major for meritorious conduct, and was honorably discharged
in November, 1865. In 1868 and 1870, he was warmly supported by
the Republicans of his county for the nomination to Congress, but the
other counties of his district carried the majority for his competitor.
Mr. Cooley was married at Dubuque, in 1865, to Miss Jane*M.
Rhodes, then of that city.
40 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
In the legal profession Mr. Cooley has few peers in Northern Iowa,
and few have made themselves a better public and private record. He
has ever had the interest of his city and county at heart, and has been
identified with many of the enterprises that have proved beneficial to
the community in which he has so long resided.
The eighth election was held on the 6th of August, 1855, and resulted
in the choice of the following persons to fill the respective county
In this election there were no less than five candidates for the office of
County Judge. The canvassing board returned the following count :
Joseph Gibbons had 205 votes for the office, while his opponents m the
race had the following number of votes respectively : J. T. Atkins, 195;
William Painter, 10; David Reed, 9, and N. Otis i.
Joseph Gibbons received 10 more votes for the office than were cast
for J. T. Atkins. But Jas. B. Cutler, in behalf of himself and others,
contested the election. A court was formed to hear the case. Judge Reed
presiding, with C. L. Childs and J. D. Jenkins assisting, by choice of the
parties. A hot contest ensued ; no less than twenty-seven witnesses be-
ing examined. The case was this : the trustees of Bloomfield township
had changed the voting place from Moneek to Castalia, without giving
the required legal notice. Thirteen persons were found who testified
that they went to Moneek, as usual, to vote, and not hearing of the
change, were unable to do so. They also swore that if they had voted
it would have been in favor of J. T. Atkins as County Judge. The lawyers
were heard, of course, and the whole case was gone over most profoundly.
That an informality existed in the vote of that township was quite clear.
Its effect upon the entire vote was the main question. We at this day
would decide promptly, that at most only the vote of Bloomfield town-
ship should have been thrown out. The court decided to set aside the
entire election, as to Judge, and no one was declared elected. One of
the assistants has since explained, that instead of being satisfied
with this, there were some who ''cussed the court like pizen," because
they did not declare the entire election void. The result was to continue
Judge Reed in office for two years more, during which time he built and
left as his legacy, the (for the times) splendid court house, which is only
now becoming too cramped for public use.
L. Butler resigned the office of Liquor Agent on the 26th of June,
1856, to which office he had previously been appointed. The duties of
this officer were to superintend the sale of liquors in the county, that is.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 41
to see that no one trafficked in liquors except those who sold
it for medicinal purposes.
Butler's resignation was accepted, and H. C. Bulis appointed to fill
the vacancy, on the 30th of June, 1856. This office was discontinued
at the expiration of his term.
The tenth election was held in August, 1856.
L. W. Griswold was elected Prosecuting Attorney, over S. A. Tupper,
Nathaniel Otis was elected Clerk of the District Court, over D. H.
Hughes and G. W. Esty. Previous to this election the county had been
organized into eleven voting precmcts.
This election gave to Winneshiek County her first senatorial officer, in
the person of J. T. Atkins.
At this date Winneshiek county was but a portion of the 34th Sen-
atorial District, which was composed of the following counties : Win-
neshiek, Allamakee, Howard, Floyd and Mitchell. The total vote of
this entire senatorial district was 2,331, of which number J. T. Atkins
received 1,599, as against 716 for Edward Ellis, his opponent.
J. T. Atkins was bom in Phillipstown, Worcester County, Mass.,
April 4, 181 1. The early part of his life was spent in the Eastern States,
where he followed steamboating as a vocation during the season when
navigation was open, and taught school duiing the winter months. He
received a common school education. Mr. Atkins immigTated to Indiana
in 1835, where he commenced a real estate brokerage business. In 185 1
there was much talk of the " new purchase " a part of which was Win-
neshiek county. The Judge contracted the fever, and came to Winne-
shiek County, Iowa, in the autumn of that year. Here he resumed his
old business, that of land speculating, and also practiced law for several
years, but not being a resident at the county seat, he concluded to
abandon his.profession and give his attention solely to his speculations.
October ig, 1854, he was appointed Prosecuting Attorney and Enroll-
ing Officer, by Gov. Kirkwood. He was elected County Judge, at one
time, but failed to qualify. In 1867 he was chosen to represent this
county in the State Legislature.
The first special election was held on the loth of October, 1856.
The question at stake was whether the county should vote $100,000 in
aid of the Northwestern Railroad. There were 926 votes cast in favor
of it, and 505 against.
The eleventh election was held in April, 1857, in which contest
James B. Smith was elected to the office of Sheriff. George N.
Holway was elected to the ofiice of County Assessor.
43 HISTORY OF WINNESHIRK COUNTY.
George N. Holway was bom in Sandwich, Mass., September 29,
1826. He received his education at Sandwich and Providence. He
immigrated to Iowa in 1852, and made a permanent settlement at
Hesper. He soon afterward became identified with the political affairs
of the county. He was first elected County Assessor. He has been
elected to the olBce of Treasurer, Supervisor and County Superintendent.
In 1859 Mr. G. N. Holway was a candidate against Judge D. H.
Hughes and L. D. Griswold. In this election he was barely defeated.
Mr. Holway has done more, perhaps, than any other citizen, for the
advancement of the educational interests of the county . The election of
1859 is noted as having been the most exciting political fight that
ever disturbed the quiet of Winneshiek County. It was a struggle
between the Cooley and Bullis factions for the supremacy. It was a
bitter personal fight, and the atmosphere was laden with abusive per-
sonal attacks and vituperation.
James E. Simpson was elected to the office of Drainage Commissioner.
James E. Simpson was bom in New York City, August 10, 1833. He
received his education in the public schools of that State. He immi-
grated to Allamakee County in 1855. In that county he was engaged
in teaching school and surveying until the summer of 1856, when he
moved to Decorah, and that winter taught the public school of the
latter place. That spring he was appointed Deputy County Surveyor,
in which position he continued as Deputy and County Surveyor until
i860. In i860 he was appointed Deputy Clerk under S. W. Paul. He
was elected County Superintendent in 186 1, which office he resigned to
enter the United States service. He enlisted in Co. G, Twelfth Iowa
Volunteers. He was made Orderly Sergeant, and promoted to Second
Lieutenant. He resigned his Heutenancy during the summer of 1862,
on account of ill health. On his return home he again resumed the
office of County Superintendent. In 1863 he was appointed Deputy
Provost Marshal of Winneshiek County, which office he filled until he
was mustered out of the service in 1865. In 1866 he was appointed
United States Revenue Inspector of the Third Iowa District. It 1868
he was retained as one of the twenty-five United States Revenue
Agents, and remained in the service until September, 1876. He was
married to Mary A. Rankin, of Frankville, in July, i860.
L. W. Griswold resigned the office of Prosecuting Attomey July 11,
1857. Dryden Smith was appointed to fill the office made vacant by
Griswold's resignation, July 21, 1857, and was elected as Prosecuting
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 43
Attorney in the October election, 1857. The following winter, this
office was abolished.
The next election was held August, 1857, at which there were 894 votes
cast for County Judge. L. W. Griswold was the successful candidate
for this office over S. A. Tupper.
J. B. Smith was re-elected Sheriff over E. M. Farasworth.
Nelson Burdick was re-elected Recorder and Treasurer over J. Oleson.
L. W. Ludlow was elected County Surveyor over David Gorsuch.
Amos Hoag was elected Coroner over George Cooney.
There were 345 majority for the new State Constitution.
In the October election following, E. E. Cooley was elected State
Representative by a majority of 512, over Wm. F. Kimball.
Dryden Smith was elected Prosecuting Attorney by 481 majority over
S. A. Tupper.
Dryden Smith was an Indianian. He early came to the county, and
figured quite prominently in political affairs.
The spring election of 1858 was held on the 14th of April. The
only county officer elected in this contest was that of Superintendent of
Public Instruction. It was the first officer of this character elected in
the county, and H. C. Bulis was the man on whom this honor was con-
ferred by the people.
Hon. H. C. Bulis was born in Chazy, Clinton County, New York, on
the 14th of November, 1830 He studied medicine in Vermont, with
Dr. A. C. Butler, and graduated at the Vermont Medical College,
Woodstock, Vt. He came to Winneshiek County a young man, in
October, 1854, and taught the first month of the second term of school
that was taught in the village.
Politically the doctor was a strong Clay Whig, and latterly as ardent
a Republican. Previous to his being elected County Superintendent he
had been appointed commissioner for the sale of intoxicating liquors, by
Judge Reed. At the expiration of his term this office was discontinued.
He was next elected a member of the Board of Supervisors, and was
made its president. In 1865 he was elected State Senator, and served
his constituency four years in this capacity, during which time he was
elected a trustee of the Iowa State University.
In 1869 he was returned to the State Senate. He served one year of
his second term, during which time he was elected President /r^ tern, by
the House of Representatives.
In 187 1, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of the State. His
thorough knowledge of parliamentary rules pecuHarly fitted him for this
44 HISTORY OF WJNNESHIEK COUNTY.
new. responsibility. He discharged the duties of this office honorably,
efficiently and faithfully.
In August, 1876, he was appointed by President Grant a member of
the Indian Commission, whose duty it was to' treat with the Sioux
Indians for the purchase of the Black Hills territory. Dr. Bulls was
absent five months on this mission. The object of the commission was,
iinally, successfully accomplished.
In the October election of 1858, there were 1,305 votes polled for
Clerk of the District Court. S. W. Paul was declared elected to the
office, over K. K. Buckman, by 190 majority.
James E. Simpson was elected County Surveyor, over David Gorsuch.
In the elections of 1859, the following officers were elected :
Erick Anderson, Sheriff; S. W. MatLcson, Clerk; T. W. Burdick,
Recorder and Treasurer; A. K. Averill, County Surveyor; John R.
Howard, Coroner; \V. F. Coleman, County Superintendent of Public
In the fall election of i860, which took place on the Tuesday next
after the first Monday in November, S. W. Matteson was re-elected
Clerk of the District Court.
In i860 the County Supervisor system took the place of the County
Judge regime, each organized township being represented in the Board
by one representative. In 1870 this gave place, in turn, to what is
really the commissioner system, but the officers were still called super-
The following persons have filled these offices since that date : M.
S. Drury, G. C. Winship and A. Arneson, elected in 1870. M. S. Drury
was re-elected in 1872, and the number of members being increased to
five, F. G. Hale and C. Sydow were elected at the same time.
F. Brittian was elected in 1873. Charles Meyers and G. C. Win-
ship re-elected in 1874.
Peter Morton and Turner Callendar were elected in 1875, and H.
Giesing was appointed to fill vacancy caused by the death of Charles
In 1 86 1 the following persons were elected to fill the various county
M. V. Burdick, State Senator.
W. H. Baker and Ole Nelson, State Representatives.
Erick Anderson, re-elected Sheriff.
S. W. Matteson, re-elected clerk of the District Court.
T. W. Burdick, re-elected Treasurer and Recorder.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 45
E. Baldwin, elected County Surveyor, which office he held continu-
ously until 1869, being re-elected in 1863-5-7.
C. McKay, Coroner, which office he held until 187 1, being re-elected
In 1862 the following offices were filled by election and appointment :
S. W. Matteson, re-elected Clerk of the District Court, and re-elected
H. C. BuHs, appointed County Superintendent.
J. M. Wedgwood elected County Superintendent October, 1862 ;
re-elected in 1863-5-7-9.
T, W. Burdick resigned the Treasurership to enlist in the United
States army, in 1862, and G. R. VVillett was appointed to fill the
vacancy made by the resignation.
Following IS a list of the names of the men who have been elected to
the office of State Senator :
H. C. Bulls, in 1865; re-elected in 1869; Dr. Bulls resigned in 1871.
Hon. G. R. Willett was elected to fill the vacancy caused by the
resignation of H. C. BuHs, and was again elected to the office for four
years in 1873.
Hon. G. R. Willett was born in Lacadie, Province of Quebec, No-
vember II, 1826. Though born in Canada, yet both his parents were
Americans. He spent the early part of his life in Canada, and received
bis education there. He studied law at Champlain, New York, and
graduated at the Albany Law School. He was admitted to the bar in
that city in 1856. He practiced law in Champlain until 1857, when he
came west and settled in Decorah. He raised the first company of
volunteers to fight for the Union, namely. Company D, Third Iowa
Infantry. He was wounded in the knee in 1861, which so disabled him
that he was obliged to resign and return home. In 1864 he was elected
County Judge. During the winter of 1874 he was elected President
pro tern, of the Senate. He was Chairman of the Committee on Con-
stitutional Amendments, and during the session of 1875 he ^^^s Chair-
man of the Judiciary Committee. He was also a member of the Com-
mittee on Railroads, Insurance and Judicial Districts. From 1868 to
1872 he was President of the Winneshiek Woolen Manufacturing Com-
pany. He was married at the age of 2 1 to Miss Alinda C. Kellogg, in
Champlain, New York. Mr. Willett has occupied many high posi-
tions within the gift of the people, and has always discharged his trust
honorably and faithfully. His legal ability is recognized abroad as well
46 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
as at home. As evidence of this fact, the reader is referred to his
appointment as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
The following persons have been elected to represent the county in the
State Legislature :
Knudt Berghand Warren Danforth, 187 1.
Knudt Bergh was born in Norway, and came to America when a boy,
with his father, and settled in Highland township. Mr. Bergh early ap-
preciated the value of an education, and strove with all his energy to
attain the high place he afterward reached in educational circles. An
adopted citizen, he became an American in all that the name implies.
He was an exemplary man, and revered by all who knew him. In the
legislative halls of the state he served his county with fairness and
Mr. Bergh was a graduate of the University of St. Louis. He after-
ward became one of the professors in the Norwegian Lutheran College.
His health failed him, and in 1873 he visited his native country, where
he died of consumption, on the i6th of June, 1875, at Eide, Hardanger,
H. B. Williams, elected in 1864, to fill vacancy caused by the death of
James B. Brown and H. B. Williams were elected in 1865.
H. B. Williams and J. T. Atkins were elected 1867.
H. B. Williams and O. A. Lomen were elected in 1869.
Warren Danforth and John DeCow, 1873.
Warren Danforth and M. N. Johnson, 1875.
M.*N. Johnson, born in Racine County, Wisconsin, March 3, 1850,
immigrated to Winneshiek County, Iowa, the same spring. He attended
the public schools, fitted himself for college at the Upper Iowa Univer-
sity, and graduated in class '73, at the Iowa State University. He also
graduated in the law class of '76, at the same institution. He entered
politics in the fall of 1875, and was elected by the Republicans to the
the State Legislature. He was elected Presidential elector in 1876.
The following persons have filled the oftice of Sheriff:
A. S. Skofstadt, elected 1867.
Knudt Thompson, elected 1869, and re-elected in 187 1.
C. H. Hitchcock, elected 1873.
J. H. Womeldorf, elected 1875.
Dan Lawrence was elected Clerk of the District Court in i866.
M. P. Hath way succeeded D. Lawrence, in 1868.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 47
S. E. Tubbs succeeded M. P. Hath way, in 1870, and was re-elected
A. W. Brownell was elected in 1874.
E. B. Hutchinson succeeded A. W. Brownell, in 1876.
The following persons have filled the office of County Treasurer for
Winneshiek County :
A. K. Bailey, 1863.
G. N. Holway, 1865 and 1867.
G. T, Lomen, 1869 and 187 1.
Edwin Klove, 1873, 1875, 1876.
A. K. Bailey was born Nov. 18, 1835, ^^ Wales, New York.
Wesley Bailey, h's father, through his abolition principles, became pub-
lisher of a newspaper, with the avowed object of doing his share towards
educating public opinion in the interests of the downtrodden slave.
A. K. Bailey, at thirteen years of age, entered his father's office as an
apprentice. He acquired a thorough knowledge of the printer's trade,
which has since proved invaluable to him as a publisher. He came to
Decorah in March, i860, and commenced the publication of the Re-
publican^ April 5, i860, in partnership with his father. Mr. Bailey, as
County Treasurer gave universal satisfaction, and filled his office with
credit to himself and the county. In 1868, he was appointed Post-
master of Decorah, which official position he has ever since filled with
efficiency. His position as publisher has compelled him to take an
active part in politics. Mr. Bailey has many warm friends and some
bitter enemies. His enemies, generally, are those who have been
thwarted in political schemes. He is an honest, sympathetic, generous
and benevolent christian. Mr. Bailey is a politician, not a schemer, and
a man of strong character, whose word is its worth in gold.
In 1864, the Recorder's office was separated from the Treasurer's, and
that same year John E. Powers was elected as the first independent
Recorder. He was re-elected, 1866.
Cyrus McKay was elected Recorder in 1868, 1870 and 187 1.
Chas. Steen succeeded C. McKay, in 1874, and was re-elected in
Henry Toye was elected County Superintendent in 187 1.
G. N. Holway succeeded H. Toye, in 1873.
Nels Kessey was elected County Superintendent m 1875.
W. C. Adsit was elected Surveyor in 1869, 1871, 1873.
J. L. Cameron was elected in 1875.
48 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
F. W. Knox was elected Coroner in 1871 ; A. C. Ferran in 1873, and
A. H. Fannon, 1875.
The political contest of 1876 deserves more than a mere mention in
a work of this character. A complete history of this campaign, so far
as participated in by Winneshiek County alone, would be sufficient to
make a neat volume. The political campaign of 1876 gave to Winne-
shiek her first member in the National House of Representatives. This
event alone entitles the Centennial political struggle to more than a
The honored son on whom this distinction was bestowed was Hon.
T. W. Burdick. The office sought the man, and not the man the office.
Unknown to him, his friends in the County Convention nominated him
as Winneshiek's favorite for Congressional honors, and sent a soHd dele-
gation to the Congressional Convention, instructed to vote for T. W.
Burdick. The Congressional Convention was held at McGregor, Sep-
tember 6, 1876. Mr. Burdick went into the Convention supported by
only the nineteen delegates sent from Winneshiek County, but these
nineteen stood by him, first and last, until, on the twenty-second ballot,
the unanimous vote of the Convention gave him the nomination for
Congress, amidst cheers and great excitement. Two years before a
Democrat had been elected to Congress, and the district was known to
be close. The contest that followed was perhaps the fiercest ever waged
in the district.
The Democrats had nominated J. M. Griffith, of Dubuque, who,
being wealthy, could contest the ground more advantageously than any
other member of his party eligible for the place. He fought his battles
with the fierceness of desperation. Money was lavishly spent, and
no doubt advantageously. Yet Mr. Burdick was elected by the round
majority of 1,267. Winneshiek headed the list of all the Republican
counties in the district by giving him 1265 majority.
Appended is a sketch of his life, written the year before his nomina-
tion, and published in Andreas' Atlas :
" Theodore W. Burdick, cashier of the First National and Savings
Banks of Decorah, is a native of Pennsylvania, born October 7, 1836.
He removed with his parents to Winneshiek County at the age of 17,
having previously acquired a good English education, his father having
intended him for a collegiate course at Oberlin. The removal to the
west, however, interfered with that arrangement, and on their arrival at
Decorah, in the spring of 1853, he was employed as the first school
teacher in the place, the first school-house having just then been
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 49
completed. The following spring his father was elected County Treas-
urer, and he took charge of the office and also that of County Re-
corder, discharging practically the duties of both until he became of
age, in 1857. At the next election following he was elected County
Treasurer, and filled the office in a most faithful and satisfactory man-
ner till 1862, when he resigned to enter the army. He was commis-
sioned Captain of Company D, Sixth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry, in which
capacity he served for three years — till 1865. Four brothers besides
himself were in the army, and three of them lost their lives in their
country's service. On his return from the army Mr. Burdick pur-
chased an interest in the First National Bank of Decorah, of which he
was elected Cashier in 1866. Since the war he has held no public
office, but has devoted himself exclusively to business. Both in his
public and private relations, for a period of over twenty years, since he
became a citizen of Decorah, he has been noted as a gentleman of
honor and integrity, of good business talents and irreproachable char-
The Alarm of War — Patriotic Meeting of Citizens — Organization of
the First Company — Miss Carrie McNair — Battle of Blue Mills —
Lieut. Anderson — Battle of Hatchie — List of Killed and Wounded —
Battle of Shiloh — List of Killed and Wounded of Company D —
Capt. E. /. Weisner — Surrender of Vicksburg — A Disastrous Charge
— Lieut. McMuririe — Lieut. C. W. Burdick — TJie Battle of Atlanta
— The Third Lowa Fights Itself to Death.
On the 20th of April, i86i,just six days after the booming of cannon,
heard at Sumter, had sounded the alarm of civil war, a meeting of the
patriotic citizens of Winneshiek County, and Decorah in particular, was
held in the Court House. It was held for the purpose of giving expres-
sion to the outraged feelings of a liberty-loving people at the atrocious
stroke made against human freedom and American liberty, and to
declare their adhesion to the old flag that waved from the Court House
dome above them.
5© HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
The meeting was called to order, and Capt. John H. Simpson made
Chairman. This distinction was paid the aged gentleman because of
his efficiency in commanding and his co-operation with the first militia
company ever organized in Decorah.
Capt. John H. Simpson was i)orn in Ganston, England, March 22,
1796, and died at Decorah July 2, 1869. He had been a member of
the Royal Life Guards (Body Guard of the King) and as one of the
battalion, was on his. way to the field when the battle of Waterloo was
fought. In 1828 he came to America and settled in New York City.
He came to Decorah in 1850, and here for thirteen years he lived an
honest, blameless life. He was elected Captain of the Decorah Guards
on the formation of the company in 1859.
There are men yet Hving in Winneshiek County who remember the
memorable meeting over which he presided, and how his patriotism
gave vent, in the greatest effort of his life, in a patriotic speech that
sent the blood tingling through the veins of every listener. In this
speech he tendered the remainder of his life for the defence of his
country, though the snows of sixty-five winters rested on his brow.
He was not accepted. Younger men, with stronger sinews and harder
muscles, volunteered their services.
But one week intervened before there was a reorganization of the
Decorah Guards, and men better fitted for the hardships of a soldier's
life superceeded the members of the original company. The Decorah
Guards, as they originally were, underwent a complete transformation,
only three of the old company being retained in the ranks of the new
organization. The old officers resigned, and new ones were elected.
This was the first company of men in Winneshiek County to enlist in
defence of the Stars and Stripes. They were men in the full vigor of life,
men of sterling worth, the very flower of our young county, as the
following summary of the company indicates : The oldest men in the
company (two of them) were aged 36, one 34, one 32, one 31, one
30, one 29, two 28, three 27, three 26, six 25, eight 24, seven 23, ten
22, nine 21, nine 20, eleven 19, ten 18, making a total of officers and
men of 85, with an average of 22 years, 8 months and 22 days.
The company was known as the Decorah Guards, until mustered into
the service ; then they assumed the name of Company D, Third Regi-
ment of Iowa Volunteers. The officers of the new company were :
Captain— Q. R. Willett.
First Lieutenant — Emilius I. Weiser.
Second Lieutenant — Ole A. Anderson.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 5!
Orderly Sergeant — George McKay.
Second Sergeant — A. H. McMurtrie.
Third Sergeant — C. W. Burdick.
Fourth Sergeafit — Robert Ray.
First Corporal — E. M. Farns worth.
Second Corporal — Milton Ross.
Third Corporal — Charles P. Brown.
Fourth Corporal — Joseph S. Nefif.
This company was enrolled in Winneshiek County, and ordered into
quarters by the Governor of the State May 21, 186 1. The com-
pany left Decorah for Keokuk, their rendezvous, May 28, 186 1, and
was mustered into the United States service June 10, 186 1. The date
of the company's departure from Decorah for the scenes of war will
remain a memorable one in the recollection of the hundreds of citizens
who met on Court House Square to bid the boys a last farewell. The
ladies had prepared a beautiful flag, which was presented to the com-
pany by Miss Carrie McNair, whom I feel compelled to more than
casually mention ; and in order to do so I shall be obliged to digress
from the main subject.
Carrie McXair was bom in Livingston (bounty, N. Y., about the year
1832. She came to Decorah in the year i860, at that period in our
national existence when the very atmosphere w^as deadened with treason-
able imprecations against the Union, and when the cloud of rebellion
had so spread its mammoth proportions as to nearly obscure the bright
sunlight of freedom. Being a womaii of strong emotional nature, a
lover of liberty and union, she early identified herself with the Union
side of the controversy that then threatened a separation of states ; con-
sequently, out of respect and appreciation of her noble nature, and her
sympathy with the Union, she was chosen, of all other women, better
fitted to make the presentation. In 1862, following the many bloody
battles, and not infrequent disastrous engagements, Miss McNair felt
that there was need of her services in the crowded hospitals. With a
heartfelt desire to render the Union any service in her power, and an
anxiety and willingness to alleviate the sufferings of brave men who had
fallen wounded in their country's cause, she became a nurse in a soldiers'
hospital at St. Louis. She served in this capacity until the end of the
war, and furnished aid and comfort to thousands of poor unfortunates.
Following the presentation of the flag, there was a presentation of
Bibles and Testaments. The scene was such as never had occurred
before, and was solemn, impressive and trying.
52 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
The Company, in vehicles, pursued their course to McGregor, and
from thence to Keokuk, and from here, soon after, they were transported
to scenes of active service, in Missouri.
The first hard fought battle that the Company engaged in was at Blue
Mills, Sept. 7, 1 86 1, although previous to this they had been engaged in
many hotly contested skirmishes. In the battle of Blue Mills the
Unionists were driven back.
Wm. B. Miller, of Company D, was killed in this engagement, and
Capt. Willett, Second Lieut. Ole Anderson, and private Wm. B. Heckert,
were seriously wounded. Capt. Willett's wound occasioned his resigna-
tion, and the promotion of Lieut. E. I. Weiser to the captaincy of the
Lieut. Anderson fell, wounded in the temple, and was left on the field
for dead. Company D having been obliged to retreat, he fell into the
enemy's hands. His body was stripped of all its clothing but his pants,
and he was robbed of everything by the rebels. The next day after the
battle the rebels were obliged to retreat, and then Company D reclaimed
his body. Lieut. Anderson lay unconscious three weeks, and it was a
question for a long time afterwards whether he would survive or not.
He entered the army a perfect athlete, and a perfect man, physically and
mentally, and to-day, from the eftect of that wound, incurred at the cost
of duty and bravery, he is a mere wreck of his former self. As an officer
he was efficient and brave to a fault.
The battle of Shiloh, fought on the 6th and 7th of April, 1862, was
the next great conflict in which Company D participated. Under the
hottest fire and amid the most trying scenes. Company D behaved itself
with coolness and bravery . After passing through that fiery ordeal, a
summary of the loss it sustained showed the following : Killed — Edward
Knapp, Hans H. Stenson and Samuel D. Smith. Wounded — Capt. E.
L Weiser, Corp. J. H. Farber, Geo. H. Culver, Jas. S. Daskam., Hans
Gulbrandson, Thos. Heath, Peter B. Hulverson, Knudt Knudson, Mat-
thew Kellogg, Gilbert Knudsor, Henry H. Sheldso, Geo. H. Kelly,
John Jas. Fisher, Hiram S. Daskam.
The batde of Hatchie, fought on the 5th of October, was the scene
of the next hotly contested engagement in which Company D took an
The Company lost the following : Wounded — Capt. E. L Weiser,
Corp. C. C. Watson, Geo. Culver, Martin E. Oleson (mortally), and
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 53
In the battle of Hatchie the second Captain of Company D was made
incapable for active service by a rebel bullett.
Captain E. I. Weiser was born m York, Pa., April 10, 1835, ^^^ ^'^-
igrated from the place of his nativity to Decorah, in 1856. Being
possessed with a warm heart and genial nature, and a patriotic love of
country, the threats of war against the Union aroused his impulsive
nature to a desire to make any sacrifice — hardship, suffering, even life
itself — in his country's cause. As a result, when the first cry of a dis-
tressed country was heard, calling on her sons for protection against the
assaults of traitors, Capt. E. I. Weiser was the first and foremost of
her patriots in Winneshiek County to respond. Capt. E. I. Weiser was
the first man to enlist fi-om Winneshiek County in his country's service,
in the late civil war. He enlisted as a high private in Company D, and
was elected First Lieutenant at the first election held by the Company.
Capt. E. I. Weiser participated in many warm skirmishes and two
hard-fought battles. He was wounded at Shiloh ; also at Hatchie, on
the 5th of October, 1862. The wound he received at Hatchie dis-
abled him from further active military service during the war. Eight
months he was detained in the hospital by his wound, and seven of
these eight months he was compelled to lie in one position — on his
back. He was with his company one week while it was at Memphis.
While here the boys of Company D presented him with a silver pitcher,
as a mark of their regard and the appreciation they had for him as a
soldier and commander. Capt. Weiser was brave, cool, efficient, and
possessed all the noble attributes requisite in a successful commander.
His physical disability is a glonous certificate of his bravery.
Company D next went to Memphis, where it remained six months,
and from thence to Vicksburg. They were engaged in the seige of
Vicksburg up to the date of its surrender. Vicksburg surrendered July
4, 1863. The white flag was raised on every fort at 9 a. m. on the 3d.
The rebels sent out a flag of truce, and wished to surrender on condi-
tions. Gen. Grant sent back word that nothing but an unconditional
surrender would be accepted. On the 3d, when the white flags were
hoisted, all firing ceased. The rebels came outside of their works, and
held a sociable with our boys. On the 4th of July, at 10 a. m., the
rebels marched outside of their works, were drawn up in line, and
stacked their arms, and promptly at 11 a. m. the Stars and Stripes
proudly floated over the rebel works.
In this seige, on the 26th of June, Thomas Kelly, of Company D,
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
was mortally wounded. He lived about a week, having won, in dying, the
honor of being the bravest among the brave.
The Third Regiment received orders on the 5th to take up their line
of march for Black River, to look after Johnston, who, with a large
force, had been prowling in the rear. On the 12th of July, 1863, about
225 men of the Third Iowa, among which number were many of Com-
pany D, made an assault on rebel works, behind which were ensconsed
about 10,000 of Johnston's men. The result of this assault was a whirl-
wind of death. In the first volley fired by the enemy 125 out of the
original 225 were almost instantly mowed down There were about
800 men engaged, but 225 that ventured right into the jaws of this
fiery hell. The commander in charge was immediately relived of com-
On the 7th of July Johnson evacuated Jackson, the scene of the last
engagement, and here, in rebel hospitals, were found the wounded who
had survived the disastrous charge of the 12th inst. Among the number
was Lieut. McMurtrie, who had both legs broken by rebel shots. His
right leg had been wounded with a piece of shell, and was so badly
shattered that amputation was necessary. The left leg had been broken
by a minie ball.
It was found necessary, on the 21st of July, to remove the wounded
to Vicksburg. The journey had to be made in ambulances. Lieut.
McMurtrie was among the unfortunates that had to submit to the
removal. Words cannot express the sufi^ering this trip entailed upon
him in his weakened condition.
On the 23d he was placed on a hospital boat to be sent north, but
died before the boat left the wharf, at 2 p m., July 25, 1873.
Lieut. A. McMurtrie was born at Homer, Michigan, June 30, 1837.
He came to Iowa in 1856. He was promoted First Lieutenant of Com-
pany D, May 21, 1862.
Lieut. McMurtrie was endowed with a great moral character, which
lost none of its noble attributes by his army career. He died a brave
soldier, lamented by his comrades in arms and all who knew him.
C. W. Burdick was promoted First Lieutenant, to fill the vacancy
caused by Lieut. McMurtrie's death, which post of duty he held from
that time until his three years enlistment had expired. At this time
Lieut. Burdick was the only commissioned ofticer in the company.
During three years' service, Lieut. Burdick was oft' duty but twelve days.
He took an active part in every skirmish and battle in which his com-
pany was engaged, and was never touched by an enemy's fire. Few
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 55
men, and I doubt if any, in Iowa can show a better record than this.
The engagement at Jackson was the last of any note in which Com-
pany D took an active part. The time of enlistment of Company D
expired on the loth of June, 1864. The Company was stationed at
Kingston, Georgia. All that did not re- enlist, started home to be mus-
tered out of the service. Many of the boys remained. At the memor-
able battle of Atlanta, fought July 22, 1864, the Third Iowa hterally
fought itself to death.
The boys of the third and Company D went into this battle with that
Spartan valor that had characterized them, individually and collectively,
in many a hard fought engagement. As the battle grew raging hot and
desperate, a handful of our undaunted men, among whom were a rem-
nant of Company D, gathered amidst the pelting shower of shot and
shell, and there around our flag and banner they stood its guard in the
most perilous moments. The color-bearer, the bravest of the brave,
relinquished his hold by death alone. Still the mass stood there fighting
madly for its defence. Their number fast decreasing by death, their
hopes began to fail, and, as they surrendered themselves to the enemy,
they tore the emblem of our nationality, and regimental designation, into
pieces and into shreds, which concealed, they proudly brought back to
us, untouched and unsoiled by impious and traitorous hands.
56 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Company H — Camp Life — On the March — Named the "-Iowa Grey
HoiPids " — Receives its Baptismal Fire at Pea Ridge — Storming Rifle
Pits and Batteries — The March to the Sea — // had its Average
Number of Bicm77iers — The Loss Sustai?ied by Compaiiy H — O. M.
Bliss — A Tribute of Valor by the Ladies of Boston — Company G
E7tr oiled — The Battles in which it Participated — Death of Captain
C. C. Tupper — Promotion of Lieut. low7isley — Lieut. Nicker son —
SergL A. A. Bur dick — Nelson B. Bur dick — Winneshiek County
Contributes Three Additio7ial Co77ipa7iies — Compa7iies D., K and E —
A History of their Maneuvers — Their Ranks are Thin7ied by
Disease — Death of Col. D. H. Hughes — The Thirty-Eighth and
Thirty-Fourth are Co7isolidated — // takes part in the Last Battle of
The War — A Short Sketch of Compa?iy D, Sixth Lowa Cavalry.
Company H, Ninth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, was organized at
Decorah, in the months of August and September, 1861, and was mus-
tered into service at Dubuque, on the 24th of September, the same year.
After remaining at Camp Union, Dubuque, until the middle of
October, the Regiment was sent to St. Louis, and went into camp at
Benton Barracks. A few weeks were passed in the usual routine of
camp duty, when the regiment was ordered to Pacific City, Missouri,
and passed some little time in guarding railroads and arresting guerillas.
During this time the regiment was perfecting its discipline ; and the
diseases incidental to the climate and season, joined to the hardships of
camp life, were thinning the ranks of all men who were deficient in
When the expedition against Price was organized, the Ninth was
ordered to Rolla, Mo., and after a week spent in camp at that place,
started on the march for Springfield. The march was made in winter,
and the crossing of the Gasconade, the roads knee-deep in mud, and
the cold, inclement weather tested the endurance of the men, and when
the regiment was placed in the advance, after the capture of Spring-
field, it earned its title, "The Iowa Greyhounds," by marching 135
miles in four days in the pursuit of Price. (Company H received
its " baptism of fire " at Pea Ridge, and the day before the fight
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 57
marched forty miles on a half-pint of corn-meal to the man. It
mustered fifty-two men when the fight opened ; twenty-two were un-
wounded at the close of the struggle.
On that field the boys, most of them beardless, who six months before
were laboring on farms and in workshops, showed themselves able to
defeat the practiced riflemen of Missouri and Arkansas, the Rangers of
Texas, and the trained regiments of Louisiana.
The march across Arkansas, in the summer of 1862, followed the
conflict at Pea Ridge. Some time was passed in camp Helena, and in
December the regiment took part in the first attack on Vicksburg. The
expedition up the dark Yazoo, and its unfortunate results, were amply
avenged at Arkansas Post, January 10, 1863.
In all the operations that culminated in the capture of Vicksburg the
Ninth was actively engaged — from digging in the canal to storming
rifle-pits and batteries. . And in the charge on the 2 2d of May, Com-
pany H lost eighteen men killed and wounded out of a total of twenty-
six men in action, and of these nine were killed on the field or mortally
wounded. From Vicksburg to Jackson, thence back to Vicksburg, up
the river to Memphis, thence to Tuscumbia, where a severe conflict
took place, then up the sides of Lookout Mountain, under the lead of
Osterhaus, followed by a rapid pursuit of the routed foe, and the fight
at Rmggold, is a brief outline of the work Company H took part in
during 1863. The majority of the company re-enlisted as veterans, and
after their return from furlough the boys found themselves a part of the
mighty host Sherman was about to lead " to the sea."
For seventy days from the opening of this memorable campaign the
members of Company H who participated in the operations, were con-
stantly under fire, with perhaps a slight intermission prior to the crossing
of the Chattahooche. The fights at Resacca, New Hope Church,
Burnt Hickory and Kenesaw Mountain, showed the valor and disci-
pline of the Ninth. On the 2 2d of July the Ninth was one of the
Iowa regiments that, under the eye of Shernian, recaptured the battery
of DeGress, and drove the rebels, at the bayonets' point, from the
entrenched line they had wrested from the loyalists. At Ezra's Church,
on the 28th of July, and at Jonesboro, where the fate of Atlanta was
decided, the boys of Company H were actively engaged.
After the capture of Atlanta and the pursuit of Hood, who was left
to the " tender mercies " of Thomas, the boys followed Sherman to the
sea, and Company H furnished its full quota of able and accomplished
'* bummers." From Savannah the company marched through the
58 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Carolinas, taking part in any " little unpleasantness " that came in the
way, and actively participating in the closing fight at Bentonville.
After resting a few days at Raleigh, the regiment marched to Washing-
ton and took part in the " Grand Review," and was shortly after mus-
tered out of the service at Louisville, Ky.
That Company H did its whole duty, the following figures, taken
from the Adjutant General's Report, prove :
Company H, 9th Iowa — Total killed and wounded 53
Total killed and died of wounds 19
Company D, 3d Iowa — Total killed and wounded ^^
Total killed and died of wounds 9
Company G, 12th Iowa — Total killed and wounded 9
, Total killed and died of wounds 4
Company E, 38th Iowa — Total killed and wounded o
Company K, 38th Iowa — Total killed and wounded i
Total killed and died of wounds i
Company D, 38th Iowa — Total killed and wounded i
Total killed and died of wounds i
The above table shows the extent of the loss sustained by Company
H in battle, as compared with the reported losses of the other com-
panies organized in this county from the same cause. I do not think
the above figures do full justice to Companies E, K and D, Thirty-
Eighth Iowa, for no regiment organized in the country suffered to
such an extent by disease. Stationed in localities where to breathe
the air was to inhale death, the boys of Company E, D and K per-
formed their allotted duty, sustained by naught save the feeling of
patriotism, and faced death uncheered by "the shout of victory, the
rapture of the strife."
Died of disease :
Company D, 3d Iowa 10
H, 9th Iowa 15
G, 1 2th Iowa 17
E, 38th Iowa 34
D, 38th Iowa 37
K, 38th Iowa 37
Company H, at the time it was mustered in, was commanded by M.
A. Moore, who achieved no particular distinction. He resigned in the
spring of 1863, and was succeeded by O. M. Bliss, who enlisted as a
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 59
private and secured promotion by meritorious services. Capt. Bliss was
as true a soldier as ever drew a sword. Brave, earnest and patriotic, he
" dared to lead where any dared to follow." After facing death on
twenty fields he died from injuries received by a fall from his horse
while acting as Major after the capture of Atlanta. J. H. Phillips suc-
ceeded to the captaincy, and commanded the company until its service
In writing this brief sketch of the career of Company H, embracing
a period of nearly four years, and services performed in eight States,
from the Ozark Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, a hundred incidents
and memories crowd on the mind that space will not permit me to
relate. Nearly sixteen years have elapsed since " we took the oath of
muster with right hand raised to heaven," and, in looking back, the
boys of Company H will instinctively date their memory of army life
from the bitter, persistent struggle in the wild ravines of the Ozark,
where their first blood was shed. And during all subsequent campaign-
ing. Pea Ridge was the standard whereby to measure the severity of
the conflict. And the boys of the Ninth will ever remember, with proud
gratification, the tribute their valor received from the ladies of Boston —
a stand of colors emblazoned with the name of their fiercest battle.
The third company raised in the county was the one that became
Company G, Twelfth Iowa. It was enrolled at Decorah in September,
1 86 1, ordered into quarters at Dubuque, September 30, and mustered
into the United States service November 5, 1861. It was officered as
Captain — C. C. Tupper.
First LieuUnafit — L. D. Townsley.
Second Lieutenant — J. F. Nickerson.
Orderly Sergeant — J. E. Simpson.
The company became a portion of the regiment from the date of its
muster in, and from that time on until disbanded always acted well its
part. Company G was noted in its regiment for its excellent moral
status and soldierly efficiency. It saw hard service, and took an active
part in the following hotly-contested battles : Fort Henry, Fort Don-
aldson, Shiloh, seige of Corinth, Corinth, Jackson, Vicksburg, Jackson
seige and capture, Brandon, Tupelo, Nashville, and Brentwood Hill.
Besides these battles, the company did excellent service as skirmishers.
The company early met with a severe loss in the death of its first cap-
tain, C. C. Tupper.
Capt. C. C. Tupper was bom at Auburn, New York, December 24,
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
1832, and came to Decorah in May, 1857. He had received a liberal
education, and prior to taking a residence in Iowa had served as agent
of the Associated Press and local manager of the telegraph offices at
Buffalo and St. Louis. He was admitted to the bar soon after his
arrival, but for a brief time edited the Decorah Journal, a Democratic
newspaper. When the war broke out he took an active and intensely
patriotic interest in every movement. Military life was always attractive
to him, and he was unusually well versed in the manual of arms. He
assisted in organizing the two companies from Winneshiek County that
found place in the Third and Ninth regiments, and helped prepare them
for the field. When it became evident that a third company must be
drawn from the county, all eyes turned toward Capt, Tupper to take its
lead. Although of a frail constitution, and physicnlly unfitted for the
severe trials of army life, his patriotism overrode all prudence, and he
consented. The company was rapidly recruited, and assigned to the
Twelfth Regiment of Iowa Volunteers. But Capt. Tupper's associa-
tion with the company was only a brief one. He was idolized by his
men, beloved by all his associate officers, and thoroughly respected by
his superiors. But these could not protect and defend him from disease
and death. While going from Dubuque to St. Louis with the regiment
he caught a severe cold, and in six weeks died at Benton Barracks, in
St. Louis, a victim of capilliary bronchitis. In this death the terrible
evils of war were first brought directly home to the community of which
he had been a member. He had been the leader in its best social
circles, the active abettor of every public enterprise, and his death
carried sadness and mourning to almost every household in the county.
Of friends who mourned his death there were scores upon scores ; of
The sad event narrated above necessitated the promotion of Lieut. L.
D. Townsley to the captaincy of the company, which office he held
until mustered out of the service, November 25, 1864. He was taken
prisoner at the battle of Shiloh, in which engagement he sustained a
severe wound in the left arm, and suftered with the rest of his brother
officers the hardships of prison life. After his exchange he was often
employed in important detached duties, which he always filled with
credit to himself and country. He served out his entire term of service,
and is now residing in Chicago.
Lieut. J. F. Nickerson was made First Lieutenant, and was stunned
at the battle of Fort Donelson with what was supposed to be a solid
shot from the enemy's batteries. From this he never recovered, was
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 6 1
sick and ill the morning of the Shiloh fight, but persisted in going out
with his company to the firont, was taken prisoner, and died in rebel
prison at Montgomery, Ala., May 31, 1862. Kind but firm, a noble,
brave man, beloved by his fi-iends and all who knew him, a martyr to
Orderly Sergeant J. E. Simpson was promoted to be Second Lieu-
tenant, but resigned on account of ill-health in 1862, and is now living
A. A. Burdick, Second Sergeant, was made Orderly and then First
Lieutenant, and was killed at the battle of Tupelo, July 14, 1864, He
was the Quartermaster of the regiment, and had been ordered to the
rear with his train ; but after seeing his wagons properly " parked " he
came to the front, and volunteered to assist in bringing forward ammuni-
tion. While thus engaged he was struck by a shell and instantly killed.
He died as a soldier would wish to die, with his face to the enemy and
in the heat of battle. Lamented and mourned by all who knew him,
no better man or braver soldier ever offered up his life that his country
might be saved.
Anton E. Anderson, Third Sergeant, became Second Lieutenant,
served with credit to himself until mustered out, at expiration of term of
service, December, 1864, and died at his farm, some years after the war,
near Eldorado, Iowa.
Robert A. Gibson, Fifth Sergeant, became Orderly Sergeant March
27, 1863, was promoted to First Lieutenant December 2, 1864, became
Captain of his company January 23, 1865, and for a time was Captain
and Provost Marshal at Selma, Ala., and served with great credit to
himself to the end of the war. He was then appointed Second Lieu-
tenant in the regular army, and was killed by the accidental discharge
of a pistol at Fort Randall in 1867.
Jacob H. Womeldorf, First Corporal, became Fifth Sergeant, was
taken prisoner with his com^pany at Shiloh; was held prisoner for some
time, and suffered great hardships that so broke down his health as to
compel him to return home in 1863. He is now Sheriff of Winneshiek
Nelson B. Burdick was Eighth Corporal, and but a youth at school
when he went into the service. He contracted the measles at Benton
Barracks, and was never well afterwards. He took part in the battles
of Fort Henry, Donelson and Shiloh. Warm-hearted, generous to-
wards all, he became a universal favorite. The hardships endured in
62 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
rebel prisons were too much for his impaired frame. He reached home
and died among his friends.
" He has fought his last battle ;
No sound can awake him to glory again."
John Steen, private, became Quartermaster Sergeant in 1864, and his
whole term of service to the end was marked with ability and efficiency.
Since the war he has held several positions of responsibility and trust,
and is now living at Fremont, Neb.
The regiment was ordered to Davenport for final pay and discharge
January 25, 1866.
In 1863 Winneshiek County again came to the front and contributed,
for the suppression of the rebellion, three companies in addition to the
brave men she had before sent. These companies were, respectively,
D, K, and E, and formed a part of the Thirty-Eighth Regiment. Henry
A. Cleghorn was Captain of Company E.
Company K was officered as follows :
Captain — Samuel B. Califf.
First Lieutenant — Levi Freeman.
The officers of Company D were :
Captain — George R. Humphreys.
First LieuteJia7it — Newton Richards.
Second Lieutenant — E. J. Barker.
These companies were mustered into service at Camp Randall, Du-
buque, Iowa. From here they were transferred to Benton Barracks,
St. Louis, Mo., where they spent Christmas and New Years, 1863-4.
They were next transferred to Fort Thompson, which they retained
charge of nearly six months.
The Thirty-Eighth Regiment was next transferred to the main forces
then besieging Vicksburg. In this siege the Thirty- Eighth, including
the thre# companies from Winneshiek County, formed the extreme left
of the Union line. Their position was in the very heart of a malarious
swamp, and here was contracted the germ of a disease which after-
wards carried off these brave men by the hundreds. Within ten days
after the surrender of Vicksburg the Thirty- Eighth weie ordered to
Yazoo City, on the Yazoo River. At Yazoo City the regiment remained
about a week. While there the disease bred in the swamp opposite
Vicksburg began to break out, and many men died. The regiment
returned to Vicksburg. They were next ordered to Port Hudson to aid
in the subjugation of that place, but did not reach the scene of action
until the stronghold had fallen. The Thirty- Eighth remained at Port
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 63
Hudson about a month, and while here the disease contracted in the
swamps broke out in all its virulence. So universal was the prostration
of the soldiers, that during the month, there were on an average from
three to fifteen only in the whole regiment that reported able for duty.
Almost hourly the death of a companion in arms was announced to his
sick and dying comrades. It was while lying here that the regiment
met with its severest losses. Here it was that they lost their beloved
D. H. Hughes was commissioned Colonel of the Thirty-Eighth Regi-
ment by Gov. Samuel Kirkwood. He was born in Jefferson County,
New York, September, 183 1, and died August 7, 1863. He died from
the disease which carried almost universal death to his entire regiment.
Col. Hughes graduated at the Albany Normal Institute in 1853. In
1854 he was employed on the Prairie Farmer^ Chicago. He married
Adaliza JVIatteson, in Watertown, Jefferson County, N. Y., in March,
1855, and immediately thereafter came to Decorah, engaging in the
practice of law. Col. Hughes was a man of commanding stature, fine
presence, the soul of honor, and became a lawyer of considerable repute.
He was a Democrat in politics, but was elected County Judge of Win-
neshiek County in the fall of 1859, notwithstanding the county then, as
now. was of strong Republican complexion. He was the candidate of
his party for State Senator in the fall of 1861, and only failed of an
election by nine votes. The Colonel was a War Democrat from the
outset, and pending the consideration of a petition of prominent Re-
publicans and Democrats to become an independent candidate for
Judge of the District Court of the Tenth Judicial District, hearing the
cry of his country for more troops, Judge Hughes promptly cast aside
his political opportunity to enter upon a patriotic duty ; and, warmly
espousing her cause, made a stirring canvass of the county in that
behalf, and thus drifted into the army.
Col. Hughes, while stationed at New Madrid, was called to St. Louis
as Judge Advocate in some trials then pending, and from his bearing on
that occasion, and the ability he displayed, upon the conclusion of the
trials the Court (and it was a Court of strangers to him, too) unani-
mously recommended his promotion to Brigadier-General, which docu-
ment, however, he would not allow to go forward, alleging as a reason
his brief experience as a military commander, and that there were
already lives enough under his charge. Such was his modesty and
noble character. Col. Hughes died respected and beloved by all his
soldiers, and not more universal was the mourning in camp over the
64 ' HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
death of their commander than that of his host of friends at home.
The Thirty-Eighth took their departure from Port Hudson for New
Orleans, where they remained about three months. It was next trans-
ferred to Point Isabel, on the Rio Grande River. After leaving Port
Hudson Company E was without a commissioned officer for nearly a
year. The regiment was next sent to Brownsville, Texas. While here
Quartermaster T. R. Crandall was made Captain of Company E, and
Walter Green was made its First Lieutenant.
August, 1864, again found the regiment in New Orleans. From
here it was sent to Morganzie Bend. While at Morganzie Bend the
Thirty-Fourth and Thirty-Eighth v/ere consolidated, and afterwards
known as the Thirty- Fourth. The new regiment numbered 1056 men.
Company E, of Winneshiek, and Company F, of Fayette, were like-
wise consolidated, and afterward known as Company K. Capt. Rogers,
of Company F, and Lieut. Green, were relieved of duty, and T. R.
Crandall made Captain. H. T. Shumaker, of the original Company
F, was made First Lieutenant, and O. J. Clark made Second Lieuten-
ant. Company D and K were likewise consolidated. The Thirty-
Fourth participated in the siege of Fort Gains and Fort Morgan, on
Mobile Bay, and here it remained until these forts capitulated. The
Thirty- Fourth was also present at the charge on Fort Fisher. The regi-
ment was engaged in the last battle of the war, which was the taking of
Fort Blakesly, the day before Lee's surrender. In this engagement, in
just eighteen minutes, over 1,500 Union soldiers were slain and wounded.
The regiment was mustered out of the service at Houston, Texas, but
did not disband until it reached Davenport.
Company D, Sixth Iowa Cavalry, was the last company donated to
the Union cause by Winneshiek County. Although the men compos-
ing this company enlisted with the intention and expectation of fighting
rebels, they were transferred to other fields of duty — which was even
more undesirable — that of fighting Indians. The company was mus-
tered into the United States service in February, 1863, with the follow-
ing officers :
Captain— H. W. Burdick.
First Lieutenant — Sherman Page.
Second Lieutenant — Timothy Finn.
Orderly Sergeant — W. H. Fannon.
The United States forces, in which was Company K, had several
engagements with the Indians, each time coming out victorious, with
great loss to the Indians and small loss to themselves. Company D
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 65
was engaged in the battle of Whitestone Hills on the 3d of September,
1863. In 1864 the company was engaged in five different battles with
the Indians. The company was mustered out of the service in October,
The brave who died in the mountains of Arkansas, the marshes
of Louisiana, the rocky fastnesses of Georgia, and the swamps of Caro-
lina, are remembered less vividly by their old comrades as year by year
passes away, and when this generation has gone there will be none to
recall the names of the youthful heroes of Winneshiek County who
faced fatigue and sickness, steel and ball, and died in the fierce front of
battle, facing the foe, or fell victims to malarious diseases. But while
their individual memories will have perished, the cause for which they
died, the cause for which they perished, the cause of liberty and human-
ity will remain, and future generations will derive fresh courage to
struggle for the right from the glorious example of the citizen-soldiers
who crushed the " Great Rebellion."
"THE IOWA BOYS."
The bugles of war sound through the land,
From ocean to ocean, o'er prairie and town,
Who is so Dase as to tamely stand
While traitors tear "Old Glory" down ?
What though fortune may sometimes frown,
And battles be lost, we will never yield ;
Victory yet will our banners crown
When "The Iowa Boys " are in the field.
Answered the State that never had failed
Once in its duty to freedom and right :
" Here are my children, when law is assailed,
Freely I give them to aid in the fight ;
When treason is conquered by loyalty's might,
Home let them come with no stain on their shield."
We marched, and the stars on the flag grew bright,
For "The Iowa Boys" were in the field.
66 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Up from the battle M'here Lyon died
Rose the notes of our proud refrain ;
Donelson's victory quick replied,
Pea Ridge echoed it back again ;
Vicksburg swelled the triumphant strain,
As in base surrender the rebels kneeled,
And California called to Maine:
*' 'The Iowa Boys ' are in the field!"
I^ookout Mountain re echoed our tread
As we marched embattled upon his brow,
While the sun of victory crowned his head.
And the clouds rolled dark in the vale below.
Back to Atlanta we hurled the foe,
Shattered and beaten his columns reeled ;
And our colors, all blood-stained and shot-torn, show
That "The Iowa Boys " were in the field.
With Sherman we marched to the waiting sea
That thundered a welcome upon the strand ;
And as sweeps the whirlwind so swept we
Through the length and breadth of the Southron's land.
At last, in the " Grand Review " we stand.
The battle is won, and no stain on our shield,
While praise to the victors rose full and grand.
And "The Iowa Boys " marched home from the field.
Ah, not all ! Full many a heart
Mourns to-day in the soldier's home ;
And the eyes that saw him through tears depart
Will weep for aye, though he never come.
When we marched in pride past the Capitol's dome,
When thousands shouted and bugles pealed
In the " Grand Review," we all missed some
Of "The Iowa Boys " who had died on the field.
Died on the field of their honor and fame,
Whose blood-drenched sod is their fittest pall,
With never a blot on their soldier name,
Dying that liberty might not fall.
Dying to break the slaves' dark thrall.
Whose charter of freedom their life blood sealed ;
Comrades, this toast in silence all :
** 7i? ' The Iowa Boys ' who have died on the field. ''^
HISTORY OF WiNNESHlER COUNTY. 67
CONCLUSION OF COUNTY HISTORY.
The Flush Times of 18^6 — First Railroad Organization — The North-
western Railroad — First Successful Railroad Co7npa?iy- — The Deco-
rah Branch — 'jubilee over its Comple[io7i — Decor ah a Station of
which the Milwaukee b' St. Paul Railroad Co7?ipany are Proud —
Statistics Shoiving the Railroad Business Transacted at Decorah —
The Educational Ititerest^ of Wiiineshiek Coimty— Statistics that Indi-
cate the Progress of Our People — Three Celebrated Murder Ti'ials —
Telyea, McClintock and Stickles — Old Settlers'' Association — Conclu-
sioft of County History.
In 1856 everything was booming. The abundant resources of a new
country had reached a high state of development, money was plenty,
and the prospects for the future bright. One thing alone seemed lack-
ing to make the people perfectly satisfied with their condition — better
facilities for transportation. The time had passed when the products of
the county could be transported sixty miles to market by ox-teams
without suffering much inconvenience and loss. The time had come
when a railroad was a necessity. The railroad fever was raging through-
out the West, and far-seeing ones realized the immense value that would
sweep in on iron rails drawn by the iron horse. After a due amount of
talk and agitation, the Northwestern Railroad Company was formed.
Decorah was its headquarters, but they took in prominent citizens of
Clinton. John Thompson, of Clermont, became President; O. C. Lee,
a banker at McGregor, Secretary ; W. F. Kimball, of Decorah, Treas-
urer ; Eb. Baldwin, Chief Engineer ; and E. E. Cooley, Attorney.
With a mighty faith in the future, business men put down their names
for stock by the thousand dollars' worth, and $80,000 of the capi-
tal was actually subscribed. Whether it could all have been paid
for is another matter. With such a start as this, the Company felt it
could appeal to the public spirit of the people, and the county was
asked to bond itself to the amount of $100,000. Strange as it may
seem to later comers, who worked and toiled to gather together the
few thousands which the railroad actually cost when it did come, the
people enthusiastically came forward and voted aye. The bonds were
printed, after some delay, and were all ready to be formally signed,
sealed and delivered, when the Supreme Court stamped the law under
68 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
which the bonds were being put out, with the word " unconstitu-
tional." The scheme collapsed, and the county was saved a burden of
debt, which might have retarded its progress for all the years past, as
well as scores to come. It is worthy of note that when the railroad
did come to us it followed the line marked out by those pioneers, and
proved that their plans were wise and far-sighted, if they were a dozen
years ahead of the times.
Several attempts were made before a railroad was finally built. The
Company to succeed was the McGregor Western. This company was
organized January 19, 1863. The commencement of the road was at
North McGregor. Work was commenced in March, 1863, and in one
year the road was in running order to Monona, fourteen and one-half
miles. The work was completed to Postville in September, 1864, to
Castalia in October, 1864, and to Conover in August, 1865.
Decorah, at this date, had become a thriving inland city, well sup-
ported with newly-started manufactories. Her citizens looked upon the
road that was to pass them by with a covetous eye. Railroad connec-
tion, with river and lake transportation, was necessary to the future
prosperity of the place. This was readily comprehended, and every
effort was put forth by an energetic people to secure better transporta-
tion facilities. As a result, proposals were made to the managers of the
McGregor Western Railway to build a branch line from Conover to
Decorah, nine miles. The citizens of Decorah pledged themselves to
furnish $40,000, as a bonus, provided the Company would build the
nine miles of road, which the managers agreed to do. Nearly $18,000
was paid in by the people of Decorah, and, on the other hand, the road
was graded and bridged, ready for the superstructure. But the main
line having been leased to the Milwaukee & Prairie du Chien Company,
work on the branch was suspended in September, 1865.
The road is now operated under the management of the Milwaukee
& St. Paul Railway Company, by which name it is known. The
branch was completed to Decorah in September, 1869, in accordance
with the agreement made by the Company with the citizens of De-
corah. The event was one of great importance to the capital city of
the county. A day of celebration and rejoicing was given in honor of
the event. Large crowds of people thronged to the city, and many
availed themselves of the opportunity offered and made excursion trips
to Conover and back.
Hon. E. E. Cooley delivered an address, in which he ably set forth
the great value the new railroad would be to Decorah and the sur-
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 69
rounding country. At the time, his predictions seemed to many to be
extravagant; yet as the years have come and gone, even greater
advantages than were foretold by the eminent orator, have been real-
ized as the natural result of this intercourse established with the outer
commercial world. ■
Authentic information conclusively affirms that the nine miles of the
Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad known as " the branch," and connect-
ing Decorah with the main Hne, pays more (by double) to the mile than
any other nine miles of the entire road.
That the above may not seem as an empty assertion, herewith are
given the figures of freights received and shipped, and other reliable
data, from which the reader may form his own conclusions. The books
of the Company for 1875 show that there were 23,824,000 pounds of
freight received at Decorah, and the amount paid on the same to be
$68,873.58. The freight forwarded for 1875 amounted to 45,643,015
pounds, on which was paid $138,317.50.
The above amounts received for freights are exclusive of advance
The sale of passenger tickets at this station was as follows :
These total amounts give as the total earnings of the Branch for the
year 1875 $224,112.53, which is a good index *"o the wealth and pros-
perity of the county, the immediate result of an energetic people.
The citizens of Winneshiek County were not engaged in work all
these years that alone improved the material features of the county —
work that resulted pecuniarily advantageous, such as agriculture, build-
ing, etc. — but found time and money to devote to the mental advance-
ment of the young and growing population. The people of Winne-
shiek County are peculiarly an educational people. It seems to be the
chief aim of nearly every parent to give his children an education, and
all measures tending to this result have been heartily encouraged. So
strong has the popular will been in this direction that educational inter-
ests seem to have outstripped all others. County Superintendent Kes-
sey's report for 1876 makes the following showing: The number of
graded schools are 9; the number of ungraded, 125. The number of
teachers employed during the year was 190, of which number 72 were
70 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
males and ii8 females. The compensation paid to male teachers
averaged $39.74; females, $27.28. The muster-roll of Winneshiek
County's school children shows the small army of 9,332, of which
number there are 4,939 males and 4,393 females. This army of youths
is marshaled in 134 school-houses, where they receive their educa-
tional training, and these school-houses are kept in repair at an average
cost of $10,162.67, and the teachers who drill this small army are
employed by the county at a cost of $37,294.98 annually.
The foregoing statistics regarding shipments and receipts at the chief
railroad station in the county furnishes every reader with the facts from
which can be deducted the wonderful material growth and prosperity of
Winneshiek County. The educational statistics likewise furnish reliable
data from which correct conclusions can be drawn regarding the educa-
tional interests of the county and its wonderful growth.
Winneshiek County has had its sensational murder trials. No less
than three celebrated trials of this character have engaged the attention
of the courts, and furnished excitement to the public, since the organi-
zation of the county. The first trial for murder was held in 186 1. The
defendants were John Liven good and Delilah A. Telyea, who were tried
for the murder of Charles Telyea, the husband of Delilah A., in the
October term of Court, 186 1, before Judge Williams. When the
charge was first made against the guilty parties, the Grand Jury failed
to find an indictment, on the ground that the body of the murdered
man had not been found ; but the case was brought before the next Grand
Jury, who brought in a bill. Public opinion was strong against the
accused, and great excitement prevailed. The public was agitated to
such an extent over the matter that the defendants' attorneys sued for a
change of venue, which was granted. The case was taken to Clayton
County, where the parties were tried. Livengood was found guilty, and
sentenced to the penitentiary for life ; while Mrs. Telyea was acquitted,
although public opinion generally considered her guilty. Livengood
was pardoned out at the end of ten years, and is supposed to be now
living somewhere in Northern Wisconsin.
The next case to enlist attention, and set the public in a state of fer-
mentation, was that of Charles D. Seeley, for the murder of William
McClintock, tried before Judge McGlatherty, February 11, 1872,
Seeley was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to the peniten-
tiary, at hard labor, for fifteen months.
The third and last murder trial, and by far the most exciting, was that
of Helen D. Stickles for the murder of her husband, J. P. Stickles, by
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. /I
poison. A condensed statement of the facts in the case are these :
On January 4, 1876, John P. Stickles, to all appearances, was enjoy-
ing perfect health. That afternoon he was suddenly taken sick, and
died within a few hours, with all the attendant symptoms of poisoning
by strychnine. The next morning, as the news circulated from mouth
to mouth, giving in detail the sudden and horrible death, the conviction
was forced upon the community that either a fatal mistake had been
made in administering medicine to the unfortunate man, or a wanton
and terrible crime had been committed. A post-mortem examination
was held, which served to strengthen the previous theory that J. P.
Stickles had died from poison. The stomach was sent to Chicago for
analysis. Dr. M. P. Hatfield, the chemist who made the analysis, sent
back word that he had found strychnine. As a result of the continual
agitation of the question by the public, and the evidence produced, the
Grand Jury, at its March session, 1876, indicted Helen D. Stickles for
murder. The case came on for trial in the District Court, Judge Reuben
Noble presiding, in June. The trial lasted nine days, during which
time the excitement was intense and unabated. O. J. Clark, Prosecut-
ing Attorney, was aided by J. T. Clark in prosecuting the side of the
State, while C. P. Brown and Cyrus Wellington made themselves noted
as criminal lawyers, by the ability with which they defended the accused.
It was one of the most stubbornly-contested trials ever held in the
county. Public opinion very generally condemned Mrs. Stickles, but
the jury disagreed, standing five for acquittal to seven for conviction. A
change of venue was granted the accused, and the case was taken to
Fayette County for trial, where it is now pending.
In concluding these chapters on County History, I know of no more
graceful way of arrangement than by weaving in an account of the Old
Settlers' Association, organized on the 4th of July, 1876. The event is
one of historical importance, and is deserving of a place on record. It
is to these pioneers, their character, energy and industry, that we are
to-day, in a great measure, indebted for our thrift and prosperity. It is
they who make our history so interesting in the first chapters, and they
to whom we should feel in duty bound to say a parting word.
On the 4th of July, 1876, a grand celebration was held in Decorah.
This occasion was seized upon to hold an old setders' meeting. Steyer's
Opera House was selected as the place for holding the meeting, and
other necessary arrangements were perfected. Two hundred and twenty-
two in all attended the meeting. Of this number I am able to tell the
year in which most of these pioneers came to the county :
72 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
5 of 1848
7 of 1849
22 of 1850
25 of 185 1
21 of 1852
2 I of 1853
32 of 1854
57 of 1855
32 of 1856
Many men and women in attendance wore brows frosted with time,
yet were hale and hearty, showing a remarkable preservation. They
came to the county when it was an Indian's paradise, men and Avomen
yet sturdy, on whose faces are stamped the index of their character, in
which is easily read the energy, perseverance and determination indis-
pensible in a pioneer. They commenced in this (then) wild land, on
the very borders of civilization, to make homes for themselves and their
children. Their thrift of to-day answers how well they have succeeded.
Appended herewith is the official report of the meeting :
On July 4th, 1876, the Old Settlers of Winneshiek County met in
Steyer's Opera House. Hon. E. E. Cooley called the meeting to order,
and Hon. John DeCow was chosen Chairman, and Geo. N. Holvvay
and Erick Anderson, Secretaries. The meeting was then opened with
prayer by Rev. H. B. Woodworth.
The hall was comfortably full, all being surprised by the very large
number of old settlers present. ^
An historical sketch of the settlement of the county, which had been
prepared by A. K. Bailey, was then read, and at its conclusion,
on motion of Mr. James Simpson, a vote of thanks was given Mr.
A. K. Bailey for his able address and early history of Winneshiek
On motion of Capt. T. W. Burdick, a committee was appointed to
prepare a plan for an Old Settlers' Union. Capt. T. W. Burdick, A.
Tracy, J. F. Huber, Nelson Johnson, and William Beard were ap-
pointed. While the committee were out, Hon. E. E. Cooley addressed
On motion of D. O. Dahly, it was requested to publish Mr. Bailey's
The committee then made their report.' Moved and seconded that
the report be received. Carried. Amended, that the time of the old
settlers be fixed at July 4, 186 1. Carried.
On motion of L. Standring, a committee was appointed to select
officers for the ensuing year. Carried.
HISTORY or WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 75
Committee reported the following :
President — ^John DeCow.
Vice-Presidents — T. W. Burdick, Nelson Johnson and E. E. Cooley.
Secretary —K. K. Bailey.
Tr e astir er — A. Bradish.
Executive Committee — Not reported.
While the committee were out, A. K. Bailey read two letters from old
settlers — one from Col. Taylor and one from S. M. Leach.
Then adjourned. Geo. N. Holway, Secretary.
As Iowa is the center diadem of the Union, so is Winneshiek County
one of the richest and brightest jewels that make it such. As Iowa, of all
the States, has been one of the principal stages on which have been acted
all the attributes pertaining to freedom, equality and justice, so has
Winneshiek County stood in relation to the other counties that compose
our great State. For what we are, every man should be proud ; and
the debt of gratitude for these blessings and privileges is justly owing to
the sterling class of emigrants that first settled these prairies. Our free
soil, free labor, free schools, free speech, free press, free worship, free
men and free women, were their free gift and contribution.
74 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Description of the Fort— An I?icideJtt — The Fort Abandoned — Mr. Cooney
as a Politician — The First Settlers — The Next Comers — The Goddard
Family — Sale of the Fort — The Canadians — The Fort at its Zenith —
Preparations for a Great City — Banki7ig House — A Mercantile Ven-
ture — The Swindlers and their Record — Their Society, and a Patriotic
Celebration — The Ames Grist Mill — Jumping Claims — The Collapse
— The Second a?id Third Era of Fort Atkiiison — The New Town —
The history of the Old Fort and Old Mission is, properly, the tirst
pages in the history of Winneshiek County. There is no place, perhaps,
throughout the entire county, that can furnish a richer fund of histor-
ical information than Fort Atkinson. For the first few years in the
history of the county, it was the only abiding place of white men within
its boundary limits.
The fort bearing the name of the successful Indian General, Atkinson,
the hero of the Black Hawk v/ar, was commenced on the 2d of June,
1840. A company of mechanics, about fifty in number, contracted to
do the work. Among the number was James Tapper, residing at
Monona. These men were escorted from Fort Crawford, Wisconsin, to
the place selected for the fort, by Company F, Fifth U. S Infantry,
commanded by Isaac Lyon.
A captain of artillery named Sumner, who became the illustrious Gen.
E. V. Sumner of the late war of the rebellion, superintended the building
of the fort, aided by Happy Jack, his First Lieutenant. Sumner was
every inch a military man, and a good engineer, as his work will attest
even at this late day, considering what he had to do with.
Sumner held command of the fort until the Mexican war, when he
was detailed to fields furnishing more active service. Happy Jack was
a jolly fellow, and had been a sailor in his early days. He was unstable
and rattle-brained, and was always getting into some difficulty. He was
afterward killed in one of his reckless exploits.
The fort was built tor the protection of the Winnebago Indians from
the hostile and predatory tribes surrounding them, as well as for the
protection of the pioneer settlers. It was stone masonry work, situated
on an eminence north of the present town of Fort Atkinson, and origin-
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
ally consisted of four main buildings, and two gun houses, as represent-
ed in the following diagram : '
[A, B, C and D, Barracks or Main Buildings ; F and H, Gun Houses ; E, Powder
House ; G, Flag StafiF,
The fort was built in the shape of a square, inclosing an acre of
ground, the material of which it was built being prepared at Fort Craw-
ford. The cost of making a wagon-road, the same ever since known as
the Old Military, and transporting the material to its place of destina-
tion, augmented the cost of building the fort to the enormous sum of
$93,000. It was afterwards sold at public auction to private parties for
$3,521. In 1845 Capt. Sumner still held command of the fort. The
force at that time consisted of a company ot infantry and one of dra-
goons. In 1846 Capt. Sumner left for Mexico, and the fort was then
76 HISTOrV 6f WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
garrisoned by tWo companies of volunteers. Capt. James Morgan of
Burlington, succeeded to the command of the infantry, and Capt. John
Parker, of Dubuque, to the command of the dragoons. In 1847 Capt.
Morgan's company was mustered out of the service, and C'apt. Parker
given entire charge of the fort until the removal of the Indians, in 1848.
It was found necessary to use force to compel them to vacate the coun-
try. Capt. Knowlton, afterwards Judge Knowlton, was detailed to
assist the command under Capt. Parker.
At the time the company commanded by Capt. Parker was stationed
at the fort, an incident occurred which verifies the old maxim that " two
of a trade can never agree." The Orderly of the company was a
young lawyer hailing from Connecticut, who had been a prominent man
in the political arena. The Second Sergeant was also a young lawyer,
who hailed from Vermont. On a certain occasion a dispute sprang up
between them ; words were plenty, as is usual with lawyers, when Ver-
mont says to Connecticut, " If you did not rank me, I would thrash
you like h — 1." To which Connecticut replied, " I waive my rank."
They adjourned from the parade-ground, and stripped for the contest.
The number of rounas fought deponent saith not; but as the story
goes, Vermont came off victor.
" Vermont "' afterwards located at Garnavillo, and practiced law.
While here he was arrested for horse-stealing, and very suddenly disap-
peared. He is to-day a prominent lawyer of Plattsburg, N. Y. The
lawyer whom I have designated " Connecticut " became a distinguished
jurist in this District, and now occupies a piominent position as an
influential citizen in this State. He believes, with all his strength
and might, in narrow-gauge railways, but is a broad-gauge man.
After the removal of the Indians, in 1848, there was no further neces-
sity for keeping up militarj^ appearances, consee^uently the fort, as a
military rendezvous, was dispensed with ; yet the Government did not
entirely abandon it. A man named Alexander Faulkner was appointed
to look after it. Soon after, Faulkner was relieved by George Cooney, a
well-known citizen of the county, who is yet living in the vicinity of
the old fort.
In 1852, Mr. Cooney was appointed to take charge of the old fort
and Government buildings at Fort Atkinson. That wire-pulling and
shrewdness were necessary in those days, as well as at the present time,
in order to obtain places of trust under the Government, is peculiarly
exemplified in the manner of Mr. Cooney 's appointment. A short time
after the election, Mr. Cooney happened into Mr. Gilbert's store, and
iilSTORY OF W^INNESHIEK COUNTY. J J
in conversation with Mr. Moon and Mr. Churchill understood that Mr.
intended trj^ing to obtain the commission to preside over the
fort and Government property. Mr. Underhill said that he was a
Democrat, and could get it. Mr. Moon claimed to be a fellow Demo-
crat, and consequently stood the best show for the appointment. Mr.
Cooney remained neutral, but determined, then and there, that neither
of them should have the coveted place. The next day Mr. Cooney
sought McKay's postoffice on a mission known only to himself. He
mailed a letter to his old friend Judge Murdock, asking his aid in obtain-
ing charge of the fort. In the next mail he received an answer, telling
him to prepare for the fort. Mr. Cooney was elated at his prospects of
becoming a Government employee, and on reaching home told his wife
of his good luck. She was incredulous at first, but when shown the
Judge's letter, accepted it as an actual reality.
The permanent settlement of the county commenced in 1847. In
that year the pioneers and homesteaders came to this county, to-wit :
Gotlob and Getleib Krumm, Charles Kregg and Francis Rogers. They
arrived in June, of that year. Gotlob Krumm cam.e direct from South
Germany to Fort Atkinson. The first habitation of this family, con-
sisting of Gotlob, his wife, and two little children, was a deserted Indian
wigwam, standing beside a beautiful spring. In it they lived a few
weeks, until Mr. Krumm, with the help of Charles Kregg, built a log
house, which also stood by the spring, and was the first house built and
occupied by an actual settler in this part of the county. But it has long
since been torn down, and the ground where it once stood yields yearly
a rich harvest of golden grain. The clear, crystal waters of the spring
have been taken from its bed of many-colored pebbles, and are con-
veyed through a leaden pipe down to a beautiful grove, where it is
somewhat surprised to find the same pleasant family, with a few addi-
tions, occupying a more grand and spacious dwelling, surrounded by
beautiful trees, shrubbery and flowers, with a huge barn and granaries in
In 1848, previous to the removal of the Indians, George Bachel came
to the fort prospecting. The following year he returned, bringing with
him his family. He was accompanied by five other families, all of
whom made a permanent settlement in Washington Township. Those
who accompanied Mr. Bachel were Joseph Huber and family, Andrew
Meyers and family, and Jonah Rausch and family. These people pos-
sessed the requisite courage and determination indispensable in the early
settler, and went to work with a will to build a home in what was then a
78 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
thoroughly new country. These hardy settlers never despaired ; they
knew there was hard work to be done, privations to undergo, ere they
would view the bright and prospering future in store for them. That
their greatest endeavors and highest expectations have been crowned
with success, even beyond their own anticipations, their present affluent
circumstances bear evidence. The most of these parties still abide on
the old homesteads, which cost them in their early life much privation
and hardship, but in their old age is their support and comfort. It will
be noticed that all except Mr. Rogers were Germans.
In the fall of the same year (1849), Josiah Goddard, Sr., moved in
from Wisconsin, bringing a family consisting of seven children. He
purchased the " claim " of one Olmstead, an Indian trader, and now
occupies it as a homestead. The buildings of the trading post were
built in the same form as the fort, enclosing a hollow square. A black-
smith shop, situated at the southwest corner of the buildings, and one of
the store buildings, are still standing, and have been in use from that day
to this. At that time, I learn from Mr. Goddard, Jr., there was a small
farm house close to the fort, occupied by a Mr. Kilpatrick. It is the
same property now owned by the heirs of Joseph Morse. Mr. G.
remembers the place very distinctly, because in passing it, the day after
his father moved, he saw standing by the roadside a barrel full of wild
honey, of which he took a slice. At that time the country was full of
bee trees, and parties from Wisconsin traversed the country hunting
them, and buying honey of others. Mr. Goddard, as above stated, still
resides on the farm he then purchased, enjoying a genial old age. His
sons h.ave grown up around him into useful, honorable, prosperous
citizens, occupying over 1,500 acres of land, worth from $25 to $40 per
Prior to these dates we have no knowledge that there were any settlers
in the county, although there may have been a few, who had crept over
the line and settled on that part of the reservation which is now in the
southeastern corner of the county.
In 1853, after the removal of the Indians, the fort became useless as
Government property, and the administration then in power decided to
dispose of it at public auction.
On the reception of this news, in July, 1853, one of the Day boys
visited Mr. Cooney at the fort, and informed him that the fort and Gov-
ernment buildings attached were to be sold at auction the next Wednes-
day. This intelligence was sad news to him ; he undoubtedly would
have much rather heard of somebody's wedding. By previous agree-
HISTORY or WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 7^
ment he had promised to inform certain parties of the sale when it
should take place ; and he immediately dispatched a messenger with the
intelligence to H. D. Evans and S. A. Clark, of Prairie du Chien, and
another to the Bishop at Dubuque. On the morning of the sale these
parties were present, bring with them $4,000 in gold to purchase it with.
John M. Flowers, Captain Frazier, and a gentleman from White Pigeon
were also on the ground in hopes of purchasing the fort.
The Flowers were extraordinary characters, and played no little part
in the history of Fort Atkinson. There were two brothers of them, and
were classed with Charley Clark, Coleman and Tavernier, as "the
Canadians." These Canadians came to the fort with the intention of
making a living easily. They had somehow got the impression that
Fort Atkinson was destined to be a great city, and thought it afforded a
rich field in which to exercise their wit and shrewdness to benefit them-
selves. In language not to be misunderstood, they were sharpers.
Flowers wanted to get possession of the fort property, and induced
a widowed English lady by the name of Newington, to purchase it —
he bidding the same off. As the bidding progressed and the price
advanced in the Fort, Flowers became fearful that he would not be able
to make the purchase, and asked those bidding against him, what they
would take to stop where they were. Clark, Evans and the others held
a consultation, and as a result, agreed to take $25. Flowers said he
would give it, and accordingly wrote his note for the amount. Said
note read as follows :
" I owe you $25, for value received.
"J. M. Flowers.
" Dated Fort Atkinson, 1853."
Four years after this note was given, Mr. Evans placed it in Mr.
Cooney's hands (who was a Justice of Peace at the time) for collection.
Three years later Mr. Cooney got his pay out of Flowers in sawing.
The fort was sold to Flowers for $3,521.
In 1856-7, these operators were in their glory. One would suppose
from the cloth worn, and the grandeur assumed by the Canadians — or
" higher class," as they termed themselves, to distinguish them from the
plainer and honest citizens of the town — that it was a fashionable water-
ing place, or favorite retreat for the wealthiest nabobs in the land. Old
Fort Atkinson, under their regiitie, attained the meridian of her splendor.
The capitalists— or Canadians— of the place, fitted up rooms in the fort
in a costly and expensive manner . That they possessed some money no
one doubted ; but all those with whom they had any dealing supposed
So HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
them to be immensely rich, when in fact they had only what they dis-
played — sufficiently enough to affect the wealth they hoped to accumu-
late through trickery, and by assuming the role of millionaires.
They represented themselves to the credulous men they dealt with, as
retired gentlemen, who sought this secluded place in the interior, for
Flowers was pleased with the bargain he had m.ade in the purchase of
the fort, but was somewhat chagrined on receiving the intelligence that
the sale did not include the eighty acres of land on which the buildings
stood. He immediately set his scheming brain to work to devise some
plan by which he might get the land into his possession. F. VV. Cole-
man, a very clever fellow, and Flowers made out an affidavit, setting
forth, in very strong language, the grievances of one Caroline Newington;
stating that Mrs. Newington was the widow of an English officer, and a
lady of rank and station ; that her husband had fallen in battle — giving
some oudandish name as the place where his death occurred ; and that
the money with which she had made the purchase was all she had in the
world. The document concluded with a strong appeal to the govern-
ment, praying that the land in connection with the fort might be con-
sidered a part of the purchase. Through the influence of H. M. Rice,
Senator from Minnesota, and Armstrong, Secretary of State of Minne-
sota, they succeeded in getting their petition through Congress, granting
the eighty acres prayed for at Government price.
The capitalists then sent east for a surveyor, and on his arrival had
380 acres laid off into city blocks. (I will state here that the surveyor
never received his promised remuneration, and was obliged to pawn his
compass in order to raise the necessary funds with which to return
home.) In conversation with these capitalists one would infer that they
contemplated a city at the fort second to none in magnitude in the whole
When so much had been accomplished, the next necessary step
resolved upon to insure the prosperity of the city, was the immediate
establishment of a hotel. The victim was found in a newly arrived im-
migrant from Canada. He was roped into buying one half of the fort
buildings for the trifling sum of $7,000. For a time the new landlord
was elated over the rushing business he was doing. Retired gentlemen,
capitalists and laborers, all shared the hospitalities of his house. When
the time approached for settlement the landlord was surprised to find that
his guests had no money, and the emptiness of their pockets was only
exceeded by their willingness to pay him in town lots,
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 8f
The several proprietors and capitalists of this mythical city were to be
seen at all hours of the day on the principal avenues and thoroughfares
with a map, blank deeds, pen and ink and notary seal, ready to transfer
their valuable real estate to other hands. By appearances the casual
observer would very naturally conclude that the fort was destined to be a
second Chicago. For a time business was prosperous, and every one
Flowers & Brother were capitalists, and proprietors oi a saw mill, and
ever ready to furnish material for building purposes, at a minimum rate.
Of course, a great city must necessarily have a banking house ; and
who, in this immaculate place could be found more able and capable
(and I add willing) of handling other people's money than Flowers &
Brother. A banking house was organized under the name and firm of
Wheeler, Flowers «Si Bro. Checks and drafts were printed, safes pur-
chased, and contractors and architects engaged to erect a suitable building.
The contractor being rather slow in furnishing the building, Mr. Job
Flowers, a member of the firm, thought it too bad that their capital
should be lying idle, and argued that it would be policy to invest in wild
land, until such time as the building should be completed. Mr. Wheeler
did not care to invest in wild land ; but concluded that it would be
advisable to loan his money, which amounted to several thousand dollars,
to his partners. The Flowers Brothers obtained the money, and invested
the same in wild land.
In a short time the building was completed, and Mr. Wheeler thought
it time to open bank and commence business. But on examination his
CO -partners were found to be penniless, and his money invested in wild
land, which they had mortgaged for twice its value. Consequently the
banking speculation was abandoned, and Mr. Wheeler was obliged to
pawn his safe in order to raise money sufficient to enable him to return
to his friends in the East.
A gentleman by the name of Wood was enticed to the fort by this
Canadian ring. He engaged in the mercantile business, investing about
$15,000 in the same. He, also, hke the hotel-keeper, did a first-class
credit business. Everybody seemed willing to take his goods on time ;
especially were the capitalists eager to do this. Later in the year, as
Mr. Wood's payments became due, and his creditors flocked about him,
he became convinced of the advisability of collecting his outstanding
accounts. Being honest himself, he gave everybody else credit for the
same moral attribute. He very willingly trusted the capitalists, thinking
his money ready when called for. He proceeded to make his collections.
Sa HISTORY or winneshiek county.
As he demanded of the capitalists his dues, he received in reply the
answer: " I have no money at present;" capitalist drawing forth at the
same time from an inner coat-pocket, a map of the town, and pointing
out his possessions, would continue, " but I have some very desirable
property which I should be glad to exchange on account." The mer-
chant being conscious that town lots would not buy goods in New York,
nor pay for what he had already bought on credit, would very respect-
fully decline to make the trade.
Mr. Wood became disheartened at the gloomy prospect before him,
and wished to close out his business while he yet had something left.
The capitalists were ready to make the puschase, on condition that he
would take real estate and city property in exchange. Mr. Wood
thought the real estate better than nothing, and made the transfer ; but
when he came to examine the records, he found the property which he
had traded for to be burdened with incumbrances, and himself a penni-
less man. He returned to the East, no doubt wiser than when he left
there. To-day he is one of the wealthiest merchants in Pittsburgh, and
worth more than all the capitalists Fort Atkinson had in her palmiest
These here related are but a few of a long catalogue of swindles and
rascalities in which these Canadian gentlemen indulged. John Flowers
borrowed $1,500 from J. P. McKinney, then a resident of the fort,
promising to give a mortgage on his saw mill. The saw mill had pre-
viously been mortgaged for more than its real value, and, as a conse-
quence, Mr. McKinney never received back a cent of the money loaned.
They swindled Mr. Vaughn, of the fort, out of $6,000 of borrowed
In 1857 the Canadians reached the pinnacle of their existence. The
fort was in the hey-day of its prosperity. It was the favorite resort of
the society-loving people of Winneshiek County. And whatever may
be said of them otherwise, they certainly were unexcelled in the art of
"entertaining" in the most perfect and "high-toned" style. Evening
dress parties were regularly given, of the most select character, only
those appearing who could afford to dress in the prevailing style. The
gentlemen played their role exceedingly well, while their ladies were
ever most hospitable and entertaining.
The 4th of July, 1857, was observed in great style by the Canadians.
The emblem of liberty was hoisted, bands discoursed sweet strains of
music, stirring and patriotic speeches were made, and the day wound up
with a grand display of fireworks and a select ball, attended by all the
titSTORY OF WINNESHIEK COtJNTV. ^5
elite of the surrounding country. It is a day well remembered by all
the old settlers who attended it.
In 1857 a grist mill was commenced on the site where the Ames Mill
now stands. Finkle & Clark were the builders, and they received a
certain portion of the town-plat for building the mill, getting a warranty
deed for the same. Mr. McMillan, a resident of Fort Atkinson, who
resided, previous to 1857, in Canada, and an acquaintance of Finkle,
was induced by Finkle to accompany him to the United States, and aid
in the construction of the mill, with promises of a fair remuneration.
The mill was completed in November, but, owing to some miscalcula-
tion of the architect in laying out the foundation, when the water was
let through the floom it undermined the wall, and rent the mill in twain,
precipitating a portion of it into the Turkey River. The mill was
reconstructed shortly afterward. The partners then became involved in
a personal embroglio, and in order to made a satisfactory adjustment of
their difficulties, made an assignment of the mill property to Coleman.
Clark afterward became dissatisfied with the agreement, and proceeded
to divest the mill of certain property contiguous to it. Coleman, about
this time, entered Clark's house during his absence, and abstracted from
his private desk a receipt for $1,000, as payment made on the mill. As
a result of these illegal transactions, Coleman arrested Clark for petty
larceny, and Clark, not to be outdone, had Coleman arrested for grand
larceny. An exciting and protracted trial was held at the Fort, Willett
appearing for Clark, and Bullis for Coleman. Neither case amounted
to anything more than trespass. Coleman was a wealthy man, but not
in the sense that the Flowers were. Being a shrewd and crafty man, he
early discovered the character of the men with whom he had to deal,
and knew that if he would preserve to himself his wealth he must ever
be on the alert. To protect himself against the machinations of his
cunning associates, he kept a diary, in which he recorded the minutest
transactions, or most common conversations had with those with whom
he came in contact ; and as he was about the only one of the whole
clique who had any capital to speak of, the balance sought to pray off
of him ; hence this safeguard of his. He was continually in litigation
with his fellow operators, and his diary always turned to good account.
Coleman had entered a forty, which is now known as the Amy Farm,
and stationed a Mr. Scott (who afterwards became Lieutenant-Gov-
ernor of Arkansas) on said forty to hold the same for him. As soon as
Scott had obtained possession, he " claimed " it as his own, and would
not surrender on any condition. At this time Mr. Coleman was on
84 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
friendly terms with Charles Clark, who, perhaps, of all the Canadians,
was best known throughout the county. Clark's operations were as
original and multifarious as the " Heathen Chinee's," and it was seldom
that he and Coleman were not at swords points. When friends, these
two men sometimes worked together in harmony, when occasion war-
ranted mutual benefit. They were both interested in this claim, and
determined to get possession of it at all hazards. Accordingly, they
visited the claim, and demanded the key to the shanty and his immedi-
ate vacation of the premises. Scott swore that he would never sur-
render the claim, whereupon Clark and Coleman took him down by
main force, and rifled his pockets of the key. The victors then secured
the services of two men to remain on the claim and hold it for them.
But these men, as soon as they were put in possession, declared it their
own, and would not surrender until paid fifty dollars for their right.
The money was paid, and a man's services secured whom they thought
they could trust; but he likewise proved traitor to their interests, and
was only induced to relinquish his claim on receipt of fifty dollars. This
made the third time in one day that this claim was jumped.
Scott commenced suit against Coleman and Clark for highway rob-
bery ; but the suit was compromised, the former agreeing to take town
lots, and call their difliculty settled. Scott afterwards presented the
deeds to Clark for acknowledgment, but he declined to do it until paid
for the property.
It is estimated that in 1857, when the Fort was at the summit of its
grandeur, it had a population of 500 souls. A public school, of course,
would be a necessary adjunct to so thriving a community. Conse-
quently one was organized, and an estimable and capable teacher was
found in the person of Dr. E. Hazen, now a professor in the medical
department of the State University, and generally acknowledged as
standing at the head of his profession in the State. To Dr. Hazen
belongs the credit of teaching the first school at the Fort. The Doctor
had met Mr. McKinney and wife, at the commencement of Oberlin
College, and was advised by them to emigrate west. He was then a
young man, and had graduated. Mr. J. P. McKinney, assisted by his
wife, taught the second term of school at the Fort. The school session
was held in one of the fort buildings, and their enrollment of scholars
numbered nearly 100.
A Mr. Sharp, from Fayette County, kept the first hotel in the place.
He dispensed his hospitality in one of the fort buildings. Following
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 85
close in his wake came Thomas, the man so severely bitten by the
To Mr. George Cooney belongs the honor of being the first Justice
of the Peace in the place ; and that he did a lucrative business there is
every reason to believe, although his mode of conducting business when
first inducted into ofiice was somewhat strange, to say the least, as the
manner of his docketing the following case will serve to illustrate :
A man named Spillman was arrested and brought before the 'Squire
charged with having run a pitchfork into a breechy cow. The case
should have been entered on the Justice's docket, " The State of Iowa
vs. Spillman ;" but Mr. Cooney, in his unusual way, entered it " Cow
Martin Bachel was the first Constable elected.
J. P. McKinney was the first Notary Public.
The panic of 1857 came like a besom of destruction. It was dis-
astrous in its effects upon those who had real capital to rest upon. It
was especially disastrous to those who were dependent upon their wits.
Our capitalists became reduced to sore straits, and they bethought them
it was time to shift for winter quarters. Speculations were barren, and
real estate had decreased in value until corner-lots could be purchased
for a bushel of oats. They sold all their available property, and pawned
their shotguns and game dogs in order to get the necessary means with
which to find a warmer harbor for the winter. The next year a few of
these parties returned, but not with the intention of remaining.
This closed the second era in the history of Fort Atkinson. It was a
lively, interesting and entertaining era while it lasted, and the foregoing
may only be considered samples of many similar incidents that a
veracious narrator might collate. The ten years that followed were
uneventful, and must be passed over lightly. A third era dawned with
the advent of the Iowa and Dakota Division of the Milwaukee & St.
Paul Railway. It was the era of real business life and growth, sub-
stantial, steady and certain. Its future may not be all that the specula-
tors of 1857 anticipated, but it is certainly on a fairer road to attain
municipal size and importance than it could have attained under their
management with the most favorable circumstances.
The new town of Fort Atkinson was commenced in 1869, The same
year the railroad entered the place, J. T. Clark's Addition was made to
the town, August 28, 1869. This addition was formerly known as the
Tavernier Farm, and was sold to J. T. Clark at sheriff^s sale several
years previous. Its location is on the south-west quarter of Section 8,
S6 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTV.
Town 96, Range 9. Main street is eighty feet wide. All the other
streets are sixty feet wide. The blocks number from i to 14, inclusive.
About this period the first church building was erected. It was
located north of the old fort, and built by the aid of subscriptions. The
Methodist Church was built soon after. It is located on the old town
site, and was built by the aid of S. B. Dunlop, a wealthy farmer residing
near by, and largely with his money.
Business men came in, and Fort Atkinson became at once one of the
important towns of the county. In 1873 its shipments of such pro-
ducts as grains, live stock, flour and millstuffs, dressed hogs, butter,
eggs, etc., aggregated nearly 7,250,000 pounds, or 360 car-loads.
Decor ah — A Beautiful Valley — Day Family — Roo?n for Man and Beast —
Water Power — A Log Mill — First Marriage — First Carpenter — First
Miiiister — Lookijig Up the Lost Sheep of the House of Lsrael — The
Pure Article — At the Close of the Year 18^4 — The First Harness
Shop — The First Livery Stable — Land Office — First Bankers — A
Pioneer Postoffice — Decorah i?i i8^y — Neivspaper History — First City
Officers — Manufactures — Bankitig Lnterests — Churches — Conclusion.
Decorah is the county seat of Winneshiek County, connected with the
main line of railroad from Chicago and Milwaukee to St. Paul, by a
branch railroad ten miles m length, and is a flourishing young city of
nearly 4,500 inhabitants. It is located in a very beautiful and pictur-
esque, wide valley on the Upper Iowa River. The valley is deep, the
plain upon which the greater part of the town is built being more than
200 feet lower than the highest surface of the table-lands by which it is
It is seated in the midst of a beautiful and extensive amphitheatre of
hills, the most of which are of handsomely rounded outlines, while
others present to the view perpendicular and high limestone clifls, many
of which have been rounded and worn into rude columnar and other
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. Sy
shapes by atmospheric and corrosive agencies, in such a manner that
they suggest to the mind the idea of artificial structures, and while you
have them in view, with a little aid from the imagination, you can
easily imagine that you are looking at the lofty turreted walls of some
The persons destined first to look upon this beautiful valley were the
Days. They came in the month of June, at that season of the year
when nature had dressed the blufis and valleys in its beautiful mantle
of green, when the atmosphere was laden with the sweet aroma of flow-
ers, when nature wore its blandest smiles, when the wild and unbroken
country appeared in the hey-day of its youth, in all the radiance of its
The history of Decorah from its first settlement has been ably written
by Rev. E. Adams, whose comprehensive and humorous production is
here given, in preference to what might be less interesting, if written by
" In the month of June, 1846, in the midst of the picture we have just
sketched, though at the time somewhat faded out, yet with seventy-five
or one hundred Indians gazing upon the spectacle, their tents still stand-
ing — with the graves of the dead scattered about where now run our
streets and stand our dweUings — in this month of June, 1849, could have
been seen an ordinary emigrant wagon, with horses detached, and
arrangements being made not for a night's camping merely, but a per-
manent stay. This of course, as everybody is aware, is what is known
the country around as the " Day Family," consisting of nine persons;
starting from Tazewell County, Virginia, the year previous, touching at
Cassville, Wisconsin, then for a short time on a claim in the east part of
the county, near John McKay's, thence to this place. McGregor was
then but a landing, but seldom landed at. What some of us have trav-
eled as the old stage road, was but an Indian trail, with only two settlers
upon it between here and Monona, at what is now Frankville.
" Beyond this, westward, were but two white families, by the name of
Reams and Button. The head of this Button family was suspected of
horse-thieving, and was, at an early date, visited by a deputation of nine
men from Linn County, anxious that justice should be extended even to
the farthest limits of the country then known. No evidence was really
found against him ; but upon the hint that his absence would be as good
as his presence, he soon left, selling his claim to a man by the name of
Johnson, of whom the farm was purchased by its present occupant, Mr,
SS HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
" But to return to the inmates of our emigrant wagon. The first
thing, of course, was a covering for the head, and then more permanent
arrangements for the winter. A temporary cabin, 16x16, to serve ulti-
mately as a stable, had already, by way of anticipation, been partially
erected by some members of the family who selected the site, and this
was soon sO far completed as to admit of moving in, and the sam^e night
a tavern opened on the premises, where from that day to this the hospi-
talities of the "Winneshiek House " have ever been extended. In that
first season, when, by the presence of surveying parties, horse-thief
hunters, or the rush of travel on Indian trails (!), the accommodations
within were somewhat straightened, the guests, in the mild evenings of
our autumnal climate, of course could find a welcome bed t5n the green
grass, just outside, and ample space for the horses as they stood tied to
Indian stakes. No need then for the old sign, " Room for Man and
Beast;" it was all room, and all the room there was was apparent to
everyone. Before winter, however, a more commodious building was
erected, the main part 20x25, '^^^^^ ^ wing attached. This was made of
logs, shingled, lathed and plastered, — really, for the time, quite an im-
posing structure. This is the building known as the " old log house,"
and which made its disappearance but a few years since.
" In this connection it may be proper to say that the present ' Winne-
shiek House" was built in the years 1854 — 5. The frame was hewn
from the native timber, the lath and shingles obtained at Lansing, while
the siding is of the pine that once skirted the banks of our river, got out
at what was known as Carter's mill, at Plymouth Rock. Considering
its size, and the difiiculty, at the time, of obtaining and collecting material,
no wonder that it was two years in building ; completed Decemoer 24,
1855. The ' Decorah House,' as it was originally built, was finished
prior to this, in 1854, and has since been enlarged at different times to
its present dimensions. An allusion to the ' Tremont House,' finished
in 1857, and burned the winter of 1867, gives us a glance at the hotel
business amongst us, commenced in that first log house, though perhaps
there is another that some one will say ought to be named — ' The Cen-
1^" Almost coeval with this branch of business commenced another, which
now appears in the history we have commenced. I allude to the im- .
provements of our water powers. In the same season of 1849, there
came a man with his family, who, the year previous, on an exploring
tour through this region, had seen such visionsof mill- wheels, mill-stones,
of saw-mills, turning lathes, possibly of woolen mills,, even, in connection
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 89
with the curves of our river and the adjacent springs, that he had
already made his claim and put up his cabin on the square ; — a man
who, endowed by nature with more than ordinary mechanical skill, has
been following up his visions ever since — one who is still frequently upon
our streets, the fruits of whose labors all of us are reaping, more or less,
— one of those by whom the world is more benefitted than is by the
world acknowledged. This man, as, of course, many of you know, was
William Painter, a native of Greene County, Ohio.
" His cabin was built upon the property known as the Butler property,
nearly opposite the present machine shop, where, as the fruits of his
labor, may now be seen the first well dug in town. In his family was
the first birth, his son George Patten, born in the fall of 1849, in honor
of which, and because he took the name of two sons of the Day family
— George, Patten — he afterwards had the present of a town lot. In his
milling propensities Mr. Painter commenced immediately in 1849, ^^
what is known as the Spring or Dunning's mill, soon taking into company
with him one Aldridge. He brought a small pair of burrs from Cincin-
nati, and set them running by the simplest of machinery possible, in a
log mill about sixteen feet square, some of the remains of which are still
to be seen. The Heiviy posver was in his claim, but he did not think it
best to commtence the improvement of this till his means should be m.ore
ample and the country better settled. This power, however, was not
long to rem.ain in waiting, for soon there came to our town another, the
third fam.ily, February, 185 1, in which there was the same propensity for
milling to which we have alluded, as a kind of family trait, true to which,
the descendants of this family may still be seen threading our water-
courses in search of more powers yet to be improved. I allude now, of
course, as many of you again know, to the Morse family, the respected
father of which is still among us, whose cheerful face is often greeted with
the famihar title of "Uncle Phillip." Pie, with his wife and two children,
moved in with Mr. Painter, but soon built him a cabin on the back part
of the lot on which the Tremont House stood. He built, a year or
two afterwards, in August and September, 1852, the first frame dwelling
in town, which is still standing, and occupied at present by our fellow-
citizen Mr. Driggs (now occupied by Mr. Bonestdl), just west of the
" In his family was the first marriage in town, as the records have it :
" Married — August 22, 1852. — Henry T. Morse to Hannah C. Cliase.
"John S. Morse, Minister.
" The Mr. Morse now Hving in Freeport.
9° HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
" But we must not by these pleasing items be drawn down our thread of
history too rapidly. In the same season that he came, the summer of
185 1, Mr. Morse bought of Mr. Painter a portion of the Heivly water
power, and commenced the saw mill now upon it, he and Mr. Painter
building the dam and race together. Mr. Painter built, about the same
time, a grist mill, the frame of which still stands within the walls enclos-
ing the present building. About this time the Spring Mill was sold to
its present owner, Mr. Dunning, whose family was the fourth in town.
Thus commenced, and to the joint labors of these men — William
Painter, Phillip Morse, and E. Dunning — are we indebted for the first
beginnings by way of improving the abundant water power with which
we are favored, the value of which we do not yet begin to realize, but
which is being improved from day to day. No doubt their labors at this
early date had much to do in making this a point, as well as drawing
hither other branches of manufacture, to which reference may be made
in due time.
"In the same year, July 3, 185 1, the first lawyer made his appearance.
Undertaking to walk out from Lansing, he got lost by the way and
stopped the first night at a Norwegian's house, six or eight miles east of
this. Starting on the next morning, he came along about noon to the
log tavern, and inquired the way to Decorah, rejoicing, no doubt, to be
at his journey's end ere he had found it. His name was John B.
Onstine. The second of this profession that came out was Dryden Smith;
the third, A. B. Webber ; the fourth, John L. Burton ; the fifth L. Bullis ;
the sixth, E. E. Cooley, who came October, 1854; — and so on.
" Mention has been made of the houses being built. Of course there
were carpenters here at this early date. The first in town was a man by
the name of Stevens, who soon left for California, where he has since
died. The second was our fellow-citizen Mr. WiUiam E. Taylor, who
came in November, 185 1. He bought the chest and tools of Mr-
Stevens, the first brought to town — which chest and many of said tools
are doing good service at the present day.
" The mercantile has ever been a prominent interest among us. This
too, was started at an early date in the summer of 185 1, by Aaron
Newell, with a partner by the name of Derrick. They opened their stock
of goods — not a very large one ; indeed, some say about a wheelbarrow
full — in the smoke-house on the Winneshiek premises. They soon
moved, for better accommodations, to a kind of slab shanty, until they
could build a real frame building, the first store, and the first frame build-
ng, in fact, built in town, advertised and known as the " Pioneer Store,
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 9 1
at present owned and occupied by the firm of Goddard & Henry, and
by them enlarged to its present dimensions. This was completed in the
summer of 1852, and was for the time quite a building, furnishing in the
second story a public hall called Newell's Hall. Could we but have a
few of all the transactions within that hall, of county courts, caucuses
and, I am afraid, of dances too, and all sorts of things, it would give us
a pretty good clue to the early history of the times.
[The old " Pioneer Store " building has since burned down, and a
large brick building now stands upon the old site, occupied as a store by
Ellsworth, Goddard & Co.]
" In connection with law and commerce, the Gospel soon came, in
the person of a Methodist preacher, who presented himself at the cabin
of Uncle Philip Morse, on the errand, as he said, of looking up the lost
sheep of the House of Israel. Being assured that he had found them,
he walked in. That night there was preaching in to^\Ti, and a class soon
organized. This preacher was Elder Bishop, and made arrangements to
preach monthly, taking Lansing, Monona, and the country about in his
circuit. A few weeks after, a congregational minister, Mr. A. M. East-
man, made his appearance and established monthly meetings at the log
tavern. Hence sprang the two first churches organized in town. Their
subsequent history, the date of organization, the time of building their
houses of worship, etc., with a notice of other churches since and more
recently formed, would take us further down the history we are pursuing,
and require more minuteness than time will permit to-day.
" We were in the year 185 1, — quite an eventful year. Let us see what
we have : Three log cabins ; one hotel ; a lawyer and two merchants,
partners in trade ; with other families and persons that might be named,
though the census would not be large ; the water power beginning to be
improved ; regular preaching once a month by two different denomina-
tions, and a County Seat, with of course a regular session of the County
court (an august body). This year of 1851 is really the most interesting
by way of beginnings of things among us, and we might dwell here
entirely ; but we will come down a few years later by brief a glance, here
and there, at what is transpiring.
" In 1852, some new comers are added, and new trades introduced. It
was in this year that the first blacksmith shop was started, by an old
Californian, who burned his own coal in what he called " Cruson's Hol-
low." He blew his bellows in a building now occupied by Mr. Golz as
cabinet shop ; and as he pounded his iron, was somewhat of a dealer in
real estate, also. By him the whole block on which the Howell House
92 . HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Stands, now the residence of Mr. Goddard, was purchased for $20.
The block opposite, where is the residence of Mr. Horace Weiser, for
$40. A few additional frame buildings there must have been at that
time, though probably not many, as this blacksmith's wife was designated
as the " woman that lives in the frame house." His name, as near as
can be ascertained, was A. Bradish. He also carried on the tin trade,
and had as a hired journeyman, one George C. Winship.
'■' It was in this year, too, as I think, that another very lucrative business
was started, though it gives no pleasure to mention it. But we read
that when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord,
Satan came also; and the historian must be faithful.
" About this time, down under the hill, in a kind of a spring house,
near Day's spring, was a man, (we will not call his name at this time,)
boasting that he had " the pure article " for sale, but it was afterwards
ascertained that it had been well watered on its way to this place, at
Trout Run — a whisky fraud, no doubt. This traffic soon crept up into
dayliglit on Water street (which it has never fairly crossed as it would
seem), and was subsequently in the hands of one Gookins, whose estab-
lishment not long afterwards was destroyed, and the place for once
cleared of liquors. This, however, was more the result of a quarrel
among his patrons than a movement of reform among the people. The
absence of the spirits was but temporary. To the place, though swept
and garnished, they soon returned, with at least seven others added,
which have gone on increasing ever since. In justice to this Gookins,
however, it ought to be said that there is reason to believe that he be-
came a better man, as some of us used to meet him in prayer meetings,
and as one interested in Sabbath Schools. So in the history of the town
have some exchanged the business referred to for a better, and to as
many as will do likewise will we most heartily give the right hand of
" In 1853 the population increases. In this year Amnion, Scott & Co.
came in — the first to add steam to our water power — the beginning of
what has culminated at last in the present foundry and machine shop,
an establishment no less useful than ornamental to the place. It was in
this year that the town was first laid out, and the original plat made
ready for record, August 18, 1853. The man is still living (Judge Price,
of Clayton County) who claims the honor of suggesting the idea to the
members of the Day family while yet in the log house. The idea, how-
ever, was not entirely new to them, though by his encouragement,
doubtless, their purpose was strengthened. He claims, too, the credit
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 93
of suggesting the name Decorah, and tells how, after supper, he
took a piece of chalk and marked out on the table how the town could
be laid off.
In 1854 the first school-house was built, the same that now stands on
the old site, recently changed in color and fenced for domestic uses.
The first teacher employed was a young man in the greenness of his
youth, fresh from Vermont, seeking a location for the practice of medi-
cine. He had come in through Monona, and was greatly discouraged
by the residents here, so far as the prospects of medical practice was
concerned, but he had the offer of the school, with $30 per month, if
he could pass examination. An examining committee was appointed,
and a day set for the ordeal. The day came, and with it one of the
com.mittee, who examined him, found him qualified, and gave him a
certificate. He com.menced school, taught a month, flogged a child of
one of the directors, and raised quite an excitement in the district
thereby. By this time his practice had commenced. He didn't care
whether he taught or not. The result was, another man took the
school off his hands, and he devoted himself to liis profession, which he
has modestly followed ever since. His name was H. C. Bulis. The
committee-man who examined him and gave him his certificate was
Levi Bullis. The new teacher was Charley. Allen. That old certificate
(by the way, the first ever given in the place) is still kept as a relic of
the past. Whether brought out in later times as evidence to the people
of qualifications for Senatorial honors, is not ascertained.*
At the close of this year (1854) let us see, if we can, how the town
looks. Our three cabins of 185 1 have increased to quite a little village
of fifteen or twenty buildings, counting hotels, stores, stables, shops and
*The author wishes to say that since the delivery of this discourse a mistake has
been discovered in this matter. The school-house was built the year previous (1S53)
and a school taught in it by a young man who came with his father's family in that
year from Crawford County, Pa., and settled at Freeport. After teaching that winter
be was for four years the Acting Treasurer of the county, till of age, when he was
elected for three successive terms to fill that office, until in the war he served as Cap-
tain of Company D, Sixth Iowa Cavahy, after which he became Cashier in the First
National Bank, where he may now be found — Mr. T. W. Burdick. To him certainly
some credit is due. Since the organization of the county its treasury has never
suffered from a single embezzlement or fraud. Mr. Burdick shows his certificate,
signed by >Ir. H. K. Averill, and a list of his scholars, about forty-six in number,
with the names of the parents. He says that he "boarded 'round,'' taking in his
range the families in Cruson's Hollow on the east, and the Moore and Child places on
the west, and that such was the growth of trees and underbrush around the school-
house, that one could hardly see it at four rods' distance.
94 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
buildings of all kinds. On the other side of Dry Run, so-called, to the
south and east, stands one now occupied by Dr. Bolles ; on Broadway,
two — the old school-house, and the one occupied by myself, though less
in size then than no^^'. The rest, a dozen or fifteen in number, were
scattered along Water Street, commencing with the old building, or a
part of it, now occupied by Mr. Keyes for a carpenter shop, including
some of the old buildings on the opposite side, a Httle further up ; then
up to the hotel stands the Pioneer Store, and so, with a building here
and there, on one side of the street or other, up to the cabins of Mr.
Painter and Mr. Morse, aforesaid. The population probably was about
loo. At this time traces of Indian graves were not all obliterated ; a
half dozen or so had indeed been leveled to prepare the site of the
Winneshiek House, then building.
But here, again, how easy to slip down among the things that we
have done, instead of keeping back in the past.
I will detain you by an allusion to only one year more, that of 1855.
In this year our town made marked progress. Many new-comers were
added, and many new kinds of business introduced ; among them the
Pioneer Harness Shop was opened by J. C. Spencer.
The first livery stable started was by Clark Kenyon and C. E. Dicker-
man. Said Dickerman also sold the first drugs, with an assortment of
other things, such as could be turned to advantage, though the first
regular drug store was opened the year after by E. I. Weiser & Bro.
What gave the place an especial impetus in this year of 1855, was
the establishment of the Land Ofiice for the Turkey River Land Dis-
trict. The bill constituting this Land District passed Congress in
March, 1855, mainly by the efibrts of Gen. jone.s, of Dubuque. What
consideration any persons in Washington were to receive for getting the
office here — how they somehow failed of getting what they expected,
and, displeased thereby, aided in removing the office early in 1856,
need not be told. Nor need a minute detail of land-office times here
be entered upon. They must have been wild and curious times. The
ofl[ice was finally opened the day before Christmas, 1855, ofiice hours
from 9 to 12 only, each day. The town was crowded with adventurers
from all parts of the country, with a rage for land almost barbarous.
For two weeks, until some system was established, entrance was gained
to the office by brute force. He who could get his hand upon the
handle of the door, and maintain his position until office hours, was first
best. The entrance was by an outside stairway leading to the second
story. The building used for the office still stands, occupied as a board-
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 95
ing-house, one door east of the harness shop of Mr. Noble. The white
paint but partially hides the old sign " U. S. Land Office." One night,
with the thermometer 35 degrees below zero, a man stationed himself at
midnight at the head of the stairs, and endured the bitter cold bravely,
for his chance. By morning both his feet were frosted, but still he held
his ground. A while after daylight the crowd, gathered behind him down
the stairs and out into the street, passed up to him a warm breakfast and
hot coffee, in honor of his persistence, and good-naturedly cheered him
to hold on, which he did. Som^etimes these throngs would begin to
gather at i o'clock p. m., and stand all night for the next day. At the
same time, in the rear of the building was another pair of stairs, and
those within the ring could somehow get entrance to the office, and
enter all the land they chose by paying the officials something. Head
clerks in this way received their hundreds of dollars for a single night's
work. This, too, was known. How this company of men ever got
through the winter without continued contentions and outbreaks, to say
nothing of tearing the office to the ground, as they threatened to do, is
indeed a wonder, especially when we are told— and we would not say it
if we had not been told so — that the quantity of liquor used that winter
was by no means limited. It is also remarkable that during this time
not a theft or robbery was known. This is the more so, as the amount
of gold, or its equivalent, then in town was almost incredible — some say
not less than half a million. In proof of this the man can be pro-
duced, and he then but a youth, who affirms that in peculiar circum-
stances he was constituted by acclamation chief treasurer, to hold in safe
keeping for the time being such effects as might be upon the persons of
parties present. Belts filled with gold, packages of warrants, etc., were
thrown together into a dry-goods box, over which he was to stand
guard until the equilibrium of the assembly should be restored, the con-
tents of which box counted out over $320,000. The circumstances
alluded to I need not hint further than to say that it was about Christ-
mas, just as news came that the office was to be really opened. Such a
young man, so Stand(r)ing in the esteem of his fellows for sobriety and
honesty, deserves to prosper as a retired banker, in the honest calling of
a farmer. We wish him a railroad close to his house.
" In this winter and spring of 1855-6 nine banking houses were in full
operation, two of which remain — that of Weiser (Sc rilbert, now Winne-
shiek County Bank, and one of Easton, Cooley & Co., now First
National Bank. Heavy stocks of goods were opened. The popula-
tion and business had taken such a start that Decorah was the chief
g6 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
center of trade for the whole region round about, even for a hundred
miles or more, especially north and west.
"When the Land office was removed, in 1S56, some people and some
things left with it, but many staid. The town got a start, and we kept
on growing. No railroad, indeed, yet, but still we live. I will follow
down the history no further. But you will allow me here to note one or
two interesting and a few first things with which I have met that have
failed to find a place in the history given.
•' William Painter ate watermelons that grew on a patch of ground at
the lower end of town in the street near Mr. Keyes's carpenter shop,
from seeds scattered by the Indians at a dance and feast held there. A.
Bradish feasted on strawberries plucked upon the lot where he built his
shop, now Mr. Golz's cabinet shop.
" To Deacon James Smith belongs the honor of making the first plow
manufactured in town, in a blacksmith shop which he erected, now
used as a stable in the rear of Mr. Eckart's cabinet shop. He also
ironed the first buggy made in town. The buggy was made by an
enterprising Welshman, who came to town in 1854. He, like the first
lawyer, walked out from Lansing to take a view, liked the prospect, and
soon commenced a business that took the shape of agricultural ware-
rooms, on which is the name of " G. Phelps."
" The oldest cat in town, probably, is one called '' Bob " (it is 13 years
of age) whose kittenhood commenced in the mercantile life in the store
of Dr. Green and Hazelett, in West Decorah, thence to the old Dicker-
man stand, now the leather sto;"e of Mr. Cyrus Adams, thence to its
present quarters in the store next the postoffice, with Father Green.
With much wisdom from the past, with an amiable and serene old age,
do they jog along in Hfe together.
" Of the equine race, the oldest resident probably is one called
" Dandy," brought to this place in the energies of a 6-year-old by Mr.
Filbert, now owned by Mr. Weiser, still powerful in his old age ; a good
moral horse, in one respect at least, never by his masters subjected to
the infections of the race- course — what we wish could be said of all
" The first Court was held in the Log Tavern, on the first Monday in
September, 185 1. There being no business. Court adjourned until the
following October. At this time the county revenues were seventy
cents. Warrants issued, $6.
"The first m.ail entered town June, 185 1, and consisted of one letter
and two newspapers. Lewis Harkins, mail-carrier; C. Day, post-
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 97
master. It is said in those days he carried the postoffice in his pocket.
. " I have aheady mentioned the first well dug, the first birlh, and the
first marriage. The first death was of a Mr. Chase, who died in the
fall of 1852, and was buried, of course where we used to bury our dead
— in the brush on private property (we are almost ashamed to tell
where and how) till the enterprise of Mr. James E. Simpson, in 1861,
gave us a cemetery.
" Thus, my friends, have I given you a few items of our early history
Some of you, doubtless, see mistakes and omissions. You will pardon
these. I have given simply what I have met with in my inquiries
made at snatches of time.
"Allow me a few words in conclusion. Gratitude is due to God to-day
for His kind and preserving care. Some of the earlier residents, indeed,
are no more. Of the Day family, five have been taken: two sons, one
in Oregon and one in California, two daughters, one 14 and the other a
little older, dying while attending school at Madison, V\/'is. Father Day
we buried in the autumn of i860; Aaron Newell in 1862. And so
might we mention others. But yet a goodly number of the older resi-
dents are still with us, and many not here are in other places.
" In 1857, just nine brief years from the first settlement made in De-
corah, a wonderful transformation had taken place. The whites, armed
as they were with the advantages of a superior civilization, made strides
in progression that were wonderful. The beautiful valley, first seen by
the Days, had changed from an Indian paradise to an Israelite's Garden
of Eden. The beautiful carpet of green which the land had so long
worn in its wild and natural state had been upturned by the science of
agriculture, and made productive with a luxurious growth of vegeta-
tion unknown to it before. Everywhere the change was marked. In
place of the Indian teepe, the valley was dotted with the homes of the
white man. Hardly a trace of the red man remained. The umbrage-
ous woodland along the banks of the Iowa, in which Nature's child
had his home, had disappeared. The rushing waters of the Iowa had
been bridled, and made to do service in grinding the farmer's grist. In
short, the metamorphose was complete. Where but a few years before
Indian trails had been, were now to be seen the busy streets of a pros-
Decorah knew no check in its growth and prosperity after securing to
itself the county government. That event assured its good fortune. It
gave to the town a healthy stimulus. A town large enough to aspire to
the dignity of a land office, and a county seat at that, certainly required
gS HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
a newspaper as its exponent and representative to the outer world.
Consequently we find one Tracy, in 1856, issuing his prospectus, and,
after a time, regular issues of the Decorah Chronicle. Tracy was the
nominal editor, but it was well understood that a genial lawyer with a
literary- turn, named M. V. Burdick, really wielded the gray goose-quill.
Its fortunes were varied, as pioneer enterprises of this kind usually are,
but its legitimate successor exists to-day in the Decorah Republican. A
complete history of the newspaper enterprises would make an interest-
ing chapter of itself The Republican is the oldest paper published in
the county. Wesley Bailey & Son succeeded to the control of this
paper m i860, and in 1867 the title passed to A. K. Bailey & Bro.,
which firm has ever since continued its publication. There have been
twenty-five distinct enterprises of this kind within the past twenty years,
with no less than forty-three difterent proprietors, of which the Decorah
Reptiblicaji, the Bee, the Radical, the Fosien, For Hj emmet dcadi. the Church
Weekly, all issued at Decorah, and the Guardian, at Calmar, are the
sole survivors. The Fosten is the only Norwegian newspaper published in
the State. It is ably edited by B. Annudson, In 1866, George
Hazlitt commenced the publication of the Winneshiek Register. The
Bee of to-day, edited by H. Woodruff, is its legitimate successor.
The ambition of the town increased with its growth until, in 1857, it
clothed itself in the garb of an organization. The records show the
date of the first meeting for this purpose to have taken place on the
first Monday of April, 1857. As a result of this convention, an elec-
tion was held on the 30th of June following, and Hon. E. E. Cooley
was duly elected President.
The town derived much of its trade from the travel over the road
connecting it with Frankville, which latter place was striving for the
superiority, with very flattering prospects. There were but few main
routes leading to the outward world, but these were extensively traveled.
Yet, the facilities for commercial intercourse were limited. On account
of no more rapid transit than stages, -trade was carried on at a great
An act of incorporation was procured for Decorah on the 6th of
March, 187 1, and as a result of the first city election the following
officers were chosen :
Mayor — Charles F. Allen.
Clerk — G. W. Patterson.
Treasurer — E. I. Weiser.
City Attorney — E. E. Cooley.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 99
Marshal — John T. Baker.
Aldermen — G. O. Rusted, G. W. Adams, N. Burdick, John Greer,
J. L. Pennington, A. D. Thomas, J. H. Montgomery, O. J. Clark.
By becoming a corporation, the young city secured for itself many
advantages, which proved more beneficial than at first supposed.
The old settlers exhibited their good judgment in the selection of
Decorah as the county seat, which has proved itself in more than one
way. One of the strongest evidences of this fact is the excellent water
power that abounds in and about the place. There are no less than ten
good water powers, and eight of them are in active operation in dififer-
ent kinds of manufactures. At present there is fully $500,000 invested
in these interests at Decorah, among which are five flouring mills, one
woolen mill, two machine shops, two manufactories of agricultural
implements, two breweries, one soap factory, one stone and marble shop,
Hutchinson's steam cracker-baker}'-, steam packing-house, egg-packery,
Amnion, Scott & Co., manufacturers of agricultural implem^ents,
founders, machinists and millers, is the largest manufactory and com-
bine the greatest variety of any in the city. The agricultural works
were founded by John Ammon, in 1853, who came here from Quincy,
111,, among the first settlers. The milHng business was established in
1870, the Company purchasing the mill of Henry Heivly, formerly
known as the Painter Mill. George W. Scott became a member of the
firm in 1870. The interests of the firm were then incorporated in a
stock company, which has ever since continued, with John Ammon,
President ; George W. Scott, Secretary. Mr. Scott came originally
fi-om Pittsburg, Pa., where he received an excellent business education,
and the success of the Company is in a great measure credited to his
The Decorah Woolen Mill Company built a large four story brick
factory, in 1 86 7, at a cost, inclusive of machinery, of $35,200. The
Ice Cave Flouring Mill is the largest in the county. It has six run of
stone, and was built by Greer & Hunter, in 1874, at a cost of $40,000.
They manufacture flour for the Eastern market exclusively.
The Trout Run Woolen Mill, erected at a cost of $10,000, and
built by A. A. Aiken, in the years 1866 and 1867, was the first manu-
factory of this character in the county. It was destroyed by fire in
The banking interests are well represented in Decorah :
i. The First National Bank, J. H. Easton, President; T. W. Burdick,
^?7< lOi 7
roo HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Cashier. This bank was first established in 1854, under the firm name
of Easton, Cooley & Co., and was one of the few banks that survived
the financial crash of 1857. In 1870 it was changed to the firm of
Wm. L. Easton & Son, the latter being J. H. Easton, who is now pres-
ident, and under the national banking act of 1864, .became the First
National Bank of Decorah. The resources of the bank, as reported in
1874, were $271,357.87; circulation, $66,500.
2. The Savings Bank was established in 1873, and has met with very
3. The Winneshiek County Bank, H. S. Weiser & Co., is the oldest
bank in the state that has had a continuous existence under the same
name. It is doing a lucrative business, and has been of great service
in aiding the developement of this northern section of Iowa.
The banking house of S. W. Matteson, successor to C. E. Dickerman,
was established in 1867. Collateral loans and commercial paper form
the leading feature of this bank.
The citizens of Decorah are imbued with a high estimation of educa-
tion. They almost to a unit endorse the American system of public
schools. And first among the educational institutions of the place is its
graded Public School. The school building, inclusive of furniture, cost
$20,000. The school is divided into nine grades, and all the branches
from the primary to the high school course are taught. The school
possesses a philosoi^hic apparatus.
The Decorah Institute is another important educational institution.
This institute is under the management of Prof. J. Breckenridge, a fine
educator, and assisted by an efficient corps of assistants. This institution
offers a rare inducement to the young man or woman seeking an educa-
tion, and parties from the surrounding counties and Minnesota avail
themselves of the opportunity.
The Catholics also have a select or parochial school in the city, which
is well attended.
The Norwegians have what is called the Norwegian Lutheran Col-
lege. It is supported by the contributions of Norwegian congregations
throughout the country, chiefly those of the Northwestern States. The
building stands on an elevated site, a little west of the city of Decorah,
and has connected with it an area of thirty-two acres of beautiful
rolling ground. It is an imposing structure, in the Norman gothic
style of architecture, and was erected at a cost of $100,000. The main
building and one wing were erected in 1865; the other wing, com-
HISTORY OF WI>rNESHIEK COUNTY. lOX
pleting the original design, was added in 1874. The course of study
embraces a preparatory department and a full college course.
This institution has had its infancy as well as its days of prosperity.
Its growth, however, has been steady and permanent. It was first
opened at LaCrosse, Wis., in 186 1, was transferred here in 1862, and
moved into the present building in 1865. In LaCrosse it began with
eleven students. It had thirty-two on its commencement in Decorah,
and eighty on its entrance into the present building. Now it has over
200. A class has been graduated every year since 1866. There are
eight professors and two assistant professors. L. Larson, President ; J. D.
Jacobson, Secretary. Few institutions are more creditable to the young
and growing Northwest than this, which has been erected by the intelli-
gent zeal and generosity of one class of our foreign population, who
evince, by this enterprise, that they are awake to the spirit of our civili-
zation, and mean to keep abreast of the times.
No less than six church-spires point heavenward, in evidence of the
love borne by a grateful people for the all- wise Giver of earthly boun-
ties, and through whose kind providence they have tasted prosperity.
Many of the church buildings are costly and elegant. The finest is the
Norwegian Lutheran, located on Broadway, near the handsome resi-
dence of Mrs. H. S. Weiser. This building is one of brick and stone
masonry work, and was erected at a cost of $20,000. It was built in
1875-6. The next finest church edifice is the Methodist Episcopal,
recently completed at a cost of $13,000, and dedicated December 20,
1874. The Congrega^onal Church was built in 1S60, and dedicated-
in November. It cost about $6,000. The Catholic Church was
erected at a cost of about $7,000, in 1865. The Christian Church
occupies the old Methodist building, the first church built in Decorah.
The Episcopal Church, located on Broadway, and completed in 1876
at a cost of $5,000, is a model of neatness and taste.
To-day Decorah is the s:em city of Northern Iowa. Its business
interests are in a flourishing condition. Its people are prosperous.
Nature and art have lavishly expended their forces in its behalf. Its
peculiar location, rich natural resources, and refined society conspire to
make it a city desirable to inhabit. Its rapid growth, and almost
unparalleled prosperity in the past, threatens even to be outdone in the
future. Surely, we have a city of which to feel proud.
I02 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Tlie Story of a Defunct Town — Moneek — TJie Ploiieer Settlers — J heir
Nearest Neighbors — Their Hospitality — Paddle His Own Canoe —
The First Merchant — The Village Sffiithy — Medici7ie and the Clergy
— Postal Facilities — An Incident — Aji Influx of Immigrants — What
Moneek was ifi iSjj — Its Greatest Prosperity — Its Decline — Biisyy
Bustling Fellow — A Deserted Village,
" Those \vho are familiar with the early history of the county, will
remember that when its organization was perfected, the most flourishing
settlement was neither Decorah or Fort iVtkinson. And those who have
read the previous chapters contained herein, and Rev. E. Adams' ' First
things of Decorah,' will remember that there is good evidence that the
residents of both these places were evidentl)' afraid of that third town.
The latter, in examination of the records and witnesses, did not venture
to inquire deeply into the first county seat vote, and he intimates pretty
plainly that sharp practice was resorted to in order to shut out the over-
whelming vote which this third town might secure for the coveted honors
and the profits arising from its pre-eminence as the county town. The
name of this town was Moneek, and in writing township histories, a
chapter is devoted to it, because it evidently was, in 1850, 185 1 and
1852, the toremost town in the county; and because a veritable history
cannot be complete without the story of its rise, growth and decay.
The records show it the oldest town in the county, and there is every
reason to believe that at one time its opportunities were most favorable,
and it bade fair to lead any that might be started as its rival. The
recorded plat shows that is was surveyed in January, 1852, although the
plat was not recorded until the November following. Decorah was not
platted and recorded until the year following, viz: August, 1853.
Frankville came into existence similarly, in October, and was followed
by Freeport in May, and Calmar in November, 1854, and Ossian in
April, 1855. That year saw a number of other towns begun, some of
which have a hvely existence still; while others never got beyond the
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. Io3
record in progress toward village existence. This seniority is enough of
itself to give Moneek prominence in a history of the county.
*' It was situated on the north fork of the Yellow River, on the south-
west quarter of Section i, in Bloomfield township. Tremendous hills,
well wooded, surrounded it, and it nestled cosily in the valley of the
river, on a site that originally must have been charmingly beautiful.
" The pioneer settlers were Moses S. McSwain and Abner DeCow.
To these may be added John DeCow, who joined them a year later.
All of them were Canadians, but McSwain resided for a while previous
in Illinois, and probably obtained there some ideas of the western
methods of doing things. They had a town site in their eyes from the
commencement. The two arrived at Moneek in July, 1849, ^^^ lived
in their tent wagons until a log house 12x16 was built. They com-
menced the same season to build a saw mill, which was afterwards noted
all over the adjacent country as the mill.
" Their nearest neighbors were Joel Post, at Postvilie, and two families
who had "squatted" on the military road. These were David Reed,
the first County Judge, and a man named Campbell. Besides these,
there were the Hawks, and Isaac Callender, over in Frankville. R.
Tillotson joined them the same year. He was a millwright, and helped
them to build the mill. This was completed in July, 1850. In the
spring of the latter year, Russell Dean and Geo. Blake, with their fam-
ilies — also from Canada — ^joined the new settlement. June 2gth, 1850,
John DeCow, ex-County Judge, and since Member of the State Legis-
lature, also moved in, he, too, coming from Canada. He found all of
the four families occupying the one log house above mentioned, yet it
was large enough to receive the fifth family until another house, the
second m the embryo city, could be built.
*' The hospitality of the early settlers was unbounded. Like the
modem omnibus, their old log habitations had always room for more,
and the new comer surely received a warm welcome. How this small
building accommodated the five families during the six weeks in which
he was putting up his own house, the Judge can now scarcely tell. He
does tell that he brought a few provisions with him, and when these
were exhausted he was compelled to go to Elkader and McGregor for
more. After making his purchases and buying a cow, price $20, he
had left, as working capital, the magnificent sum of $4.30. Returning
home, he hired out to McSwain and Abner DeCow, who were partners,
to work at the mill for $18 per month. This engagement lasted only
I04 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
one month and twenty«two days, when he struck out to paddle his own
" The same year Blake went south, and Dean went west about a mile
and a half and put up log houses on " claims " of their own.
*'In the spring of 1851 the first frame building was built by A. and J.
DeCow. This they rented to a man named Johnson, from Illinois, who
brought on a stock of goods, and became the first merchant.
" His capital was sniall, the amount of trade limited, and he soon
' busted.' McSwain bought out his remnants, and sold out the stock.
Having neither money or credit with which to purchase more goods, the
mercantile business came to an end for the tim.e being.
" The same year John Duff came along, liked the looks of the settle-
ment, and built a blacksmith shop, which he sold in the fall to Phil.
Lathrop (the same who was landlord at Frankville, seventeen years ago)
The latter united butchering to blacksmithing, and soon after added
merchandizing. About the same time he built a house, which, when
completed, was opened for the entertainment of man and beast, and the
village had a hotel. It was not large, but in those days it was thought
to be 'a good one.*
"In 1852, George Crawford, who afterwards went to Burr Oak Springs,
— another defunct town of early promise — became a member ot the
community. He was, likewise, a Canadian, and brought goods, mostly
cloths, with him. He was a tailor by trade, and did a thriving business,
which soon required the aid of a journeyman. He soon added groceries
to his stock — dry and • wet ' — and prospered as long as Moneek was in
" James F. Andrews, a retired Baptist m.inister, with two sons, and
their families, became residents in the same year. They added another
store. One of the sons was a doctor, and so the town secured the benefit
of clergy and medicme by this really large acquisition. They, however,
only remained about a year. The town was outgrowing the settlements,
and was not large enough to support so many * middlemen.'
" Louis Boughner, also a Canadian, but of German descent, came
along in the same year, opened his kit of tools, and sat down uj^on his
shoemaker's bench. That winter the hamlet began to feel as though it
was of sufficient importance to be recognized by the General Govern-
ment, anS postal facilities were demanded. During the winter, or the
following spring, these were secured, and Boughner had so far won the
confidence of the people that he was chosen tu serve as the village
Nasby. The office was supplied by * Winneshiek ' — a postoffice then
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. lOC^
situated between Castalia and Postville, at which Mr. D. A. Reed, of
Decorah, was then deputy postmaster. It is related by Mr. Reed, that
his brother-in-law was postmaster, and he served as deputy. By this
arrangement the mail- carrier or any one calling for mail was sure to find
one or the other at home. The convenience of this arrangement was
very great, because the postmaster and his deputy only lived a quarter
of a mile apart.
"That year, 1852, saw a large increase to the settlers outside, as well
as in Moneek. Among those who came were Col. D. D. Webster,
David Huff, Philip Husted, Andrew Stewart, and John W. Smith. The
first three still reside on the farms they occupied, surrounded by large
families, and prosperity. , About that time Dr. Riddle, an Ohioan, setded
in Moneek. He now lives at or near Nora Springs. Dr. A. B Hanna,
now of Elkader, followed a year or two later, and succeeded Boughner
as postmaster, holding the office until it was thrown up, some time in
"In 1853, Geo. W. Esty settled there, and is to-day the sole owner of
what was then a most thriving village. He came from New York, and
found the village to consist of eight dwellings, one saw mill owned and
operated by Abner DeCow, one blacksmith shop, worked by John Duff,
Jr., two stores, kept by James F. Andrews and George Crawford, a shoe
shop and postoffice, managed by Boughner, and two liquor saloons, one
kept by George Crawford as an adjunct to his store, and the ether by a
man named Walker, who enlisted when the war broke out, and died in
battle. The Yellow River then contained double the water it now pos-
sesses, and the saw mill was easily able to run five months in the year.
The timber in the neighborhood was superior, and this won the mill a
wide and high reputation.
" At the time of its greatest prosperity, Moneek contained scarcely a
score of buildings, divided into dwellings, shops, &c. But it had a large
outlying settlement ; and it was this, probably, that made it feared by
the dwellers in Decorah and Fort Atkinson when the county seat vote
was taken. They were sufficiently numerous to give the other two points
a ' close call ' in a fair poll. Failing to receive poll book in time, the
people of Moneek held an election with as much form and regularity as
they could devise, but not sufficiently so as to prevent the vote from
being thrown out. What might have been, if there had been more de-
termined watchfulness by the people of the village, it is impossible to
tell. What did happen is very easy to narrate.
"Its decline began in 1855. Judge DeCow saw it commencing in
Io6 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
1854, and sold his 160 acre claim adjoining the plat for $1,800, to a man
named Barnum. The place has been sold twice since, but never for as
much money. With the proceeds the Judge settled on the place he now
owns, and is very thankful that he took that tide in his life at its flood.
The tax list of 1855 shows that the Moneek merchant's assessment was
$800 for four lots ; and Abner DeCow's tavern stand was valued at the
same figure. In Decorah, at that time, there were only four assessments
of greater amount, and two others only equaled it. The causes for its
decline were few and simple. Settlers were thronging into the country
and opening other sections. Post routes and lines of communication
were being established. Nature was rather against Moneek. It was
nestled away in the valley of the Yellow River, surrounded by mountain-
ous hills, and not easy of access. Notwithstanding this, the founders of
the place evidently thought Moneek had such a start that its growth was
sure and permanent ; that roads must come to them ; they could not be
* left out in the cold.* One thing is certain, that while the post routes
were being established, the Moneekers were too busy with their ' corner
lots.' In the meanwhile, a busy, bustling fellow named Frank Teabout,
had settled on the ridge, and, when the state road was run, he was look-
ing after his interests. The line was established on the ridge ; Frank-
ville sprang into existence ; and ere they knew it, the great tide of im-
migration which set in was sweeping by them, along the ridge road, but
bringing no grists to be tolled and ground for the benefit of Moneek.
It had its method of egress, but no artery of trade. The result was
certain. Those who were in trade one by one sold out, or abandoned
the place ; and by the time it was ten years old it was indeed a deserted
village. Early in the sixties its postoffice was thrown up.
" McSwain remained until about 1865, when he left, principally be-
cause the neighborhood was getting too warm for him. The rights of
property were not rigidly observed by everybody about that time ; but
who it was that was careless as to other people's titles, was not known.
At last an old buggy was missed from the road where it had been left.
Inquiry was made as to its whereabouts for several days ineffectually,
until Judge DeCow went down to McS wain's to look at some
sheep the latter wished to sell. As the families had not visited for a long
time, he took his wife and children along. During the day the children
went to the straw stack to play, and pleased themselves by climbing to
the top, and sliding down the stack. McSwain's boy, however, cautioned
the Judge's son not to slide down on a certain side, because there was a
wagon under there ! This excited his curiosity enough so that he
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. io^
remembered to tell his father about it on the way home in the evening.
It instantly struck the father — there is the missing buggy ! The suspicion
was more than hinted to the owner, and a search proved it to be the
identical buggy. McSwain settled the matter, but used afterwards to
charge the sheep with being the sole cause of the difficulty. He
reasoned it out somewhat after this manner : If he had not owned the
sheep and wanted to sell them, the Judge would not have paid him that
visit; the boys would not have been sliding down the straw stack; the
buggy would have remained hid until he could have run it off. Ergo :
the sheep were wholly to blame !
"This discovery gave the neighbors cause to suspicion McSwain when-
ever anything was missing, and as there was considerable horse-thieving
going on about that time, it became too unpleasant a place to stay. As
soon as he could dispose of his property he folded his tents, and hied
away to new fields.
"The plat of the village was vacated in i8 — , and it is now part of
a good farm, which a clever, thorough going farmer, Mr. G. W. Esty,
above mentioned, annually plows, sows and reaps. Occasionally a new
comer inquires, ' Where was Moneek ?' and the query calls up a smile
on the face of an old settler, as he cheerfully answers and thinks of the
swath it cut in the years which are so recent, and yet in the hurry-
skurry of more important events, seem much longer than a fifth of a
loS HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTV.
SPRINGFIELD, PLEASANT AND HIGHLAND TOWNSHIPS.
First Norwegian Settlers — The A?iderson Party Settle i?t Spring fie I
Toiunslup — The Johnsoji Party Follow Close After — The First
Settlers of Pleasant Township — A Man with Many Offices — First
Blacksmith — Bartolf Olesoji — First School House a?td Church —
Hon. Ole Nelson — Highland Township — Its First Settlers — The
Prosperity of its Citizens — How Lars Oleson Made His Money —
He Dies Worth $too^ooo — The Organizatio7i of the First School
From the most reliable information, it would seem that the first immi-
gration of Norwegian settlers came in the year 1850. But to whom
to accord the honor of being the first actual settlers — whether to Thor
Peterson and his party, who afterward settled in Calmar Township — or
to the Erick Anderson party, who settled in Springfield Township, is a
question. The Anderson party emigrated from Dane County, Wis.
and included the following persons : Halvor Hulverson, Ole Gullickson,
Knudt Anderson, Ole and Staale Tostenson. This company was joined
at Prairie du Chien by Ole Lomen and Andrew Lomen. Mr. Erick
Anderson served the party as guide and interpreter.
The Anderson party finding land in Springfield Township that suited
them, took up their claims thereon in June, 1850. But it seems that
the Peterson party had preceded them by a a few days, and had laid
claim to the very land on which Anderson's company had squatted.
At that time there was a county organization for the protection of
settlers against claim-jumpers, if such they can be called.
It was an imperative law with this association that the man who first
registered his claim at Moneek had a perfect title to the same. The
Peterson party demanded that the Anderson party move off" what they
called their claims; but the other party was determined not to sur-
render their claims until obliged to, and consequently they immedi-
ately dispatched a representative to Moneek, whose duty it was to
ascertain if the Peterson party had registered their claims. On exami-
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. tOQ
nation, he found that no registration had been made, and he took
advantage of their tardiness, and registered the claims for his party.
The matter was finally compromised, the Anderson party paying some
indemnity for their usurpation.
The July following a fresh band of immigrants made settlements
In Springfield and vicinity. The names of the heads of these families
were as follows : Nelson Johnson, Germund Johnson, A. Simmonson,
Toleff Simmonson, Andrew Houge, John Johnson, Knud G. Opdahl,
Ole Tosteson, Mikkel Omlie. A. K. Anderson and John Thune were
young men at the time.
Engebret Peterson Haugen followed these in October, after having
spent the summer in travelmg over portions of Wisconsin and Minne-
sota. He actually squatted on a claim back of Red Wing, but could
not hold it because it was still Indian territory. Coming down the
river, he heard of these fellow countrymen, and came out here. He
liked the country, and settled on the magnificent farm still belonging to
his estate. This farm was the old H. M. Rice trading-post. The store
used by Rice was standing, and for five years later serv^ed Mr. Haugen
as a dwelling. His family, however, did not arrive until May following.
They came from Beloit, where they had located in 1842, when that
territory was new. Peter E. Haugen, the son, was a boy 16 years of
age when the family removed to Iowa. They came direct from Nor-
way in 1842. Inasmuch as immigration from that country did not com-
mence until 1838, Mr. Haugen can be called a pioneer settler in the
fullest sense of the term.
In the year 1850, two Germans from Pennsylvania, viz: John Klontz
and Wm. Vale, pitched their tents in the northwest corner of Pleasant
Township, Vale choosing for his homestead what has since been known
as the Locust Lane Farm, deriving its name from the locust trees that
were planted on each side of the road immediately after the land was
fenced in. John Klontz took up his ranch on the south side of Vale,
and both went to work with indomitable energy . They soon had large
fields, and a market for all they had to sell at their very doors. They
literally coined money, as everything they had to sell brought them good
prices. Mr. Vale seems to have been the literary man of the two, for
he at one time enjoyed the pnvilege of holding all the township offices,
except Constable, at one and the same time. He was the first Justice
of the Peace, the first Assessor, and the first Clerk the township had.
He also built the first brick dwelling house in Winneshiek County.
Klontz and Vale have both since sold their farms and moved to
no ttlSTORV OF WINNESHIEK COUNTV.
Missouri. In the the following year the first influx of Norwegians
commenced. They were : Hover Evenson, Ole Magneson, and Erick
Erickson, who came here from Cambridge, Dane County, Wis., and
Peter K. Langland, Lewis Peterson, Knudt K. Liquen and K. Erick-
son, from Illinois. We will now take up these persons separately, as
they all figured in the early development of the county.
Hover Evenson was the first blacksmith in the northern part of the
county, and as such he enjoyed the trade of the whole country for
miles around. But, as there was not enough business to keep him
employed, he also improved his homestead. He long since abandoned
his trade, and attended exclusively to farming, which has paid him a
rich reward, as he is one of the wealthiest farmers of his township.
Ole Magneson and E. Erickson settled in the northeastern corner of
the township. The latter is still on his old homestead, living in a house
which has become somewhat noted from the fact that it is all built from
one pine tree. The walls are a solid plank, six inches thick, and only
three such planks from the floor to the ceiling in the first story and two
above. The floors, roof-boards, window and door casings are from the
same tree. It was all sawed up with ^i^ hand-saw, as the logs could not
be moved from the place where the tree grew, on Pine Creek. Ole
Magneson was a very thrifty farmer. He introduced the first reaper into
the neighborhood, and was also the owner of the first threshing-machine
in that township.
Next in order comes Peter K. Langland, who settled on Section 3,
and at one time was the owner of almost the whole section. When he
settled in Pleasant Township he had two boys and one girl, but has
since become father to twenty-four, of whom only two or three are now
living. His two boys grew up to manhood, but both of them came to
theif death by accidents. One was caught in the tumbling-rod of a
threshing-machine, and literally torn to pieces. The oldest was crushed
to death by the tipping of a load of lumber.
I must not forget to mention Knudt K. Liquen. To show what
a man can do if he attends strictly to his business : He came here with-
out a cent in his pocket. He was still in debt for his fare from Norway
to this country to a lady friend, who paid his passage for him. Liquen
picked out his land in Section 2. But what should he do? Still in
debt, and no way of getting money. A friend suggested that he pro-
pose to the young lady who had paia his fare, and thus get his first debt
paid. He immediately acted on the suggestion, and started back to
Illinois, where the object of his search resided. He walked the whole
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. Ill
distance, some 250 miles. He was successful in his mission, and
brought back his bonny bride (who was his senior by five or six years)
to the wilds of Iowa, and settled down on his claim, where he has since
hved. He is now the owner of nearly a section of the best land in
Pleasant, and, by leading a strictly temperate life, is to-day one of the
most respected and wealthiest farmers in that township.
In the year 1853 there was another influx from Dane County, Wis.,
promment among whom were Bottolf Olson, Magne Langland, H,
Hendrickson, Sven Olson, Ole Thorson, and others. Their history may
be stated as a general one. All of them were poor when they first
came, and had to struggle hard for a living, but are now all well-to-do
farmers and fathers of large and respected families, some of whom have
occupied responsible positions in society. The family of Bottolf Olson
is deserving of special mention. He had three boys and three girls,
four of whom were of age when he settled in Pleasant. The two oldest
boys did not remain on the homestead very long, but shifted for them-
selves. The two young men were never inside of a school-house, but
were soon masters of the language, that they could read and write readily.
In 1858 Ole B. Olson was one of the first settlers of Dakota Territory,
and was elected the first Judge of the territory, which position he
occupied until his death, in 1875. Erick B. Olson, the younger brother,
was one of the first four men who climbed the mountains of Colorado
in search of gold, in 1859, and is still a resident of Gold Hill, Colorado.
The rest of the family is still in Pleasant, except the old lady, who died
a few years ago.
I will now take the reader back to a kind of general history of the
township. The first school house was built at Locust Lane, in 1854,
and served, also, as a church for every denomination. The second
school house that was built is still standing, and is known as the Elling-
son school house. This was built of logs, quite large, and intended to
serve as a church for the Lutheran congregation that was then organized
in connection with Highland and Spring Grove. It was built mostly
by private funds; every farmer would bring so many logs and work so
many days. This district consisted of portions of four townships, viz :
Pleasant and Highland, in Winneshiek, and Waterloo and Hanover, in
Allamakee. The first school was taught by one James Lennon, of
Frankville township, when all the big boys and girls attended school,
apparently more for fun than for study. The late Hon. Ole Nelson
taught the first school in this house, and was also the first Norwegian
Representative in the Iowa Legislature,
112 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNtY.
In 1855 and 1856, almost all the land was taken up, and what was
not was bought up by speculators when the land office was in Decorah.
Among those who came later may be mentioned K. Thompson, who
became sheriff of this county in 1870, and was as good an officer as the
county ever had. Also Peter Sampson, O. W. Ellingson, the Johnson
Brothers (of whom there were seven at one time) who are all well and
favorably known in the township. There is also another fact worth
mentioning, and that is this, that almost every one of the pioneers that
came into the township in the years 1852-3-4, with the exception of one
or two, are still living on their old homesteads, which shows that the
pioneers must have been a strong, healthy and vigorous set of men.
Previous to the year 1851, Highland Township was a wild and
unsettled region, with the vast country lying west of it. But in that
year, while the savages were still now and then to be seen in consider-
able numbers, three young men — Erick Davidson, Magne Nelson and
Hagen Mastad — immigrated, in the spring, from Dane County, Wis.,
and some time in June, of that year, settled about one mile north of
where Highlandville is now situated. For about one year these three
young men held undisputed control of the country for miles around. In
the spring of 1852 there was quite an influx of immigration, and among
the most notable were the Arnesons, Knudt Bjorgo, M. John, Nels
Nelson, Sr., with a family of three boys, viz : Andrew, Ole and Nels,
Jr., who have played quite a conspicuous part in the history of High-
land Township. In the same year Albert Stoneson made his appear-
ance with a blooming young bride, and commenced housekeeping and
selected his homestead a little north of the three that first settled here. He,
with all the rest of them, had no means to speak of; but he went dili-
gently to work, and soon made himself independent, and has long been
one of the wealthiest farmers of this township. He is now surrounded
by a large family of young men and women.
In the years following there were quite a number that came to High-
land Township, among the most notable of whom was E. Berg, father
of the late Hon. K. Berg and Rev. J. Berg. K. Berg had preceded his
father to this country, and had made his home, before his father's
arrival here, in Dane County, Wis.
When Decorah enjoyed the palmy days of the United States Land
Office, Highland Township suffered with the rest of the county in
respect to her unoccupied lands. Every acre was gobbled up by specu-
lators, and great was the struggle among the squatters M'ho had not
already a United States patent on their homestead. A great number
HIS*rORY 6r WINNESHIEK COUNTY. tl3
lost their land, as they were not able to borrow money at the then
ruling rate of interest, which was 40 per cent. 'The immigralion then
ceased for quite a while, and was almost at a standstill till i860, or the
beginning of the War of the RebelHon. But in the meantime the pio-
neers of Highland had not been idle. Most of them had become well-
to-do farmers, and many of them were already on the road to wealth,
of whom I must not forget to mention Lars Olson, who came from
Muskegon here in the year 185 1 with only a few hundred dollars. He
began to lend his money at 40 per cent, and in the short space of
twenty years had amassed a fortune of almost $100,000, without any
kind of speculation whatever. Olson died about three years ago, and
his money is divided among his large family of ten boys and girls, who
are scattered over the southern part of Minnesota.
About the year 1856, a school district was organized, consisting of
almost the whole township. At that time the township was not very
thickly settled. In the spring of 1857 a small log school-house was
erected, which has long since given place to a large and commodious
frame building, with all the modern improvements. It was in this old
log school-house that the late Prof. Berg taught his first English school,
and where K. Bjorgo, Jr., learned his A B C's. He is now a young
minister of the Lutheran Synod, of marked ability, having few equals
and no superiors among the younger ministers. Martha K, Bjorgo was
the first child born in the township.
In 1857 a Lutheran congregation was organized in Pleasant and
Highland Townships, and they, in conjunction with Spring Grove,
Minn., called C. L. Clauson as their spiritual adviser. He served the two
congregations for some time ; but his labors became too arduous, and the
congregations separted, about three years after their organization, Spring
Grove retaining the minister, who only lived a few years longer, he
being the first Lutheran minister that died in this country.
114 HISTORY or WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
An Influx of Immigration — Fra?ik Teadout, the Founder of Frank-
ville — First Merchant at Frankville — The Emigrant Store — Pov-
erty Point — '■''Demijohn Arguments ^^ — Trout River — Benj. Beard
— The Lathrop Il9use — The Presbyterian Chtirch — Twice Way-
laid and Once Robbed — Suspicious Characters — First Justice of
the Peace — Frankville Early Contributes Her Quota of County
Officers — Frankville^ a First Saw Mill — First Grist Mill — The Re-
ligious Revival of 185'/ --The Railroad Seals its Fate.
In 185 1-2-3 ^^'^ county was deluged with a healthy immigration.
They were men noted for their integrity, perseverance, and a determina-
tion to succeed. They came in their covered carts drawn by oxen, with
the family support hitched on behind in the possession of a good milch
cow. A great many of these men found their homes on Washington
Prairie. The earliest pioneers were the Hawkes, Moses Hostetter, J.
Callender, Christopher Anderson Estrem, Wm. Padden, the Rosa
family, Jacob Duff, Walter Rathbun, and others whose names I have
been unable to obtain. These came in 1850 or early in 185 1. Among
the number who drifted into the county in the years 185 1-2 were J. T.
Atkins, the Beards and Cutlers, John and James D. McKay, Joel Pagin,
Wm. Birdsell, Philip Husted, Isaac Birdsell, Erick OlsoiT Bakke, James
B. Schenck, and others too numerous to mention. This immigration
had the effect to change the wild prairie of a year or two previous into
the garden of Winneshiek County. The construction of houses was
carried on until they dotted the prairie from every conceivable point of
the compass. Under the strenuous efforts of the settlers the county
began to assume a civilized garb. The native heath of the bounding
deer was uncovered for agricultural purposes, and the lairs of the vicious
timber-wolves converted to the uses of man. The county bore the
appearance of health, wealth and prosperity. Although not possessing
all the luxuries of life, actual want never confronted them. With the
liiSTORY OP WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 115
small crops they were enabled to raise, and the abundance of game
easily secured, they weathered through the first years very comfortably.
Deer were numerous, prairie-chickens plenty, the small streams abounded
with speckled trout, while larger fish were to be obtained from the Iowa
River. With these, and what they were able to raise, it would seem
these hardy pioneers fared sumptuously.
Along with the tide that rolled over the country in 185 1 was a man
noted for his wealth, energy and perseverance. He had heard of the
new El Dorado ; in fact, he had investigated it, and became convinced
that its resources were vast, and when developed would make one of the
richest agricultural districts in the world. He foresaw all this, and came
to stay, bringing with him a herd of cattle. Among others who pre-
ceded him was one Timothy Fuller, whose claim he purchased and
settled on. This man is known all over the county as Frank Teabout,
the founder of Frankviile.
This same year he erected a small building for a store, and built his
residence, which at that time was considered palatial — the finest struct-
ure throughout the whole county. This same building was destroyed
by fire several years ago. These buildings were the nucleus about which
was to form one of the liveliest towns known to the early days of Win-
neshiek County. The store building was not destined long to remain
unoccupied. There was no store within miles where the settlers, who
by this time had become quite numerous, could supply their demands
for merchandise, with the exception of one at Moneek. It was plain to
be seen that a store here would furnish a section of country in a radius
of many miles, and the merchant who should first open his stock of
goods was sure to prosper. The store building was hardly completed
before a peddler came that way who had an eye to business, and made
negotiations with Mr. Teabout, whereby he got the privilege of putting
in a stock of goods. Peddling suddenly lost all its charms for Mr,
Currier, for this was the name of the first merchant of Frankviile.
He unloaded his peddler's wagon and commenced trading at once.
Mr. Currier carried on the mercantile business at this place for two or
three years, during which time he did a lucrative business. He finally
sold out his business to Mr. Frink, and he to Mr. Teabout, who finding
the capacity of the store becoming too small for the increasing business,
erected a larger and better building, which bore the name of " Emigrant
Store." This building contained a large hall, the most commodious, at
that time, to be found anywhere in the country, and in it were given
many dances, and held many important meetings. The name of the
ix6 HISTORY or WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Store is suggestive of two things : First, it was a bid for the patronage
of the hundreds of emigrants who passed by its door every day on their
way to Southern Minnesota. Secondly, it was what its name implied,
*«The Emigrant Store.' It was the last store of any consequence at
which emigrants could supply themselves with the necessities required to
see them through to their destination.
In 1852, Frankville was little more than a trading point, at which
lived the only inhabitant and proprietor, Mr. Frank Teabout ; but about
this time an event transpired which gave to it life and brighter prospects
for the future. A commission had been appointed to locate the State
road for the benefit of immigrants seeking homes in Northwestern Iowa
and Southern Minnesota. This commission held undisputed authority
to locate the road, according to their judgment, to the best advantage.
It was plain to be seen that wherever this road ran it would be a great
advantage to that section of country, and especially would it act as a
stimulus to the germ towns along its route, for over this route must travel
the great caravans of immigration pouring into the country.
The Road Commission had their headquarters at McGregor, the des-
ignated point from which the road would start. For months this road
had been talked of, and all kinds of speculations made as to the route it
would take. The settlers lining the Military road felt siire that it would
only serve as an auxilliary to their established highway, while those
further to the northeast were determined that they would have the benefit
of it. As a natural consequence, when the time arrived for a session of
the commission to be held at " Poverty Point," better known to-day as
Monona, a strong lobby, representing these various sections and their
interests, were on hand and busily using all the artifices at their com-
mand to induce the commission to locate the road through that section
of country that would most benefit them.
A strong lobby from the vicinity of Frankville was in attendance, and
the result of their labor proves that their arguments were more potent
with the commission than those of their opponents. They succeeded in
securing the road. It is stated, on good authority, that the founder of
Frankville carried " the arguments " that secured the location of the
road, in a large demijohn. It is also in evidence that his opponents
used the same kind of " arguments," but not being so wealthy, did not
take along so large a demijohn as did the Frankville man. His op-
ponents were crest-fallen and discouraged as soon as they caught a
glimpse of Teabout's " argument." They knew its efficaciousness, and
that such a bountiful supply as was exhibited could not help but
HISTORY or WINNESHIEK COUNTY. II7
secure the coveted road. Mr. Teabout, self-conscious of success, let the
commissioners smell the jug, then took a bee-line for Frankville. They
of course followed, and declared their track to be the line of the road.
The military fellows took up their homeward march, much chagrined.
The location of the road is the greatest event in the history of Frank-
ville, for without it, in all likelihood, the place would never have been
anything more than the residence of Mr. Frank Teabout. As it is,
Frankville is a pleasant village, and at one time figured conspicuously in
the history of tne county.
Among the men who represented the embrj^o Frankville before the
commission at " Poverty Point," and labored for its interests, was one
who strenuously objected to the "Demijohn Arguments." He looked
upon the merits of his case alone, and would sanction no device that
even savored of anything improper. Let his name be placed on record :
It was Benjamin Beard, a man ol thrift, enterprise, and strong moral
character. At that time he figured conspicuously in the history of the
county, and was regarded as among its most eminent men. He settled
on Washington Prairie in 1850 or 185 1, and brought with him more
wealth than, perhaps, any other man, with the exception of Frank
Teabout. The history of his hfe is an incessant labor for the temporal
and spiritual welfare of the community in which he resided. He was in
the minority in his objection to "demijohn argument," and consequently
what he said disregarding its use, had little effect. It was near night
when the Commission arrived at Mr. Teabout's residence, and they of
course accepted his hospitality until the next morning. On the next
day Mr. Teabout lead the Commissioners to Decorah, they declaring
their line of march to be the location of the new road. There were
other parties besides Mr. Teabout who studied self-interest in the loca-
tion of the State road. Among the number was John McKay, a re-
spected farmer, and in 185 1 the largest tax-payer in the county. He
secured the passage of this desired highway through his farm. Mr.
McKay had the same ambition for a town that actuated his neighbor,
Mr. Teabout, and took measures looking to the accomplishment of such
a purpose. His first work in that direction was the establishment of a
postoffice, which was eft'ected on the discontinuance of the Jamestown
office. He also secured the location of a store at this place. This
town bore the name of Trout River, and at one time was a strong com-
petitor of Frankville. The postoffice was continued at this place for
nearly two years, from whence it was moved to Frankville. It is claimed
Il8 HISTORY OF xriNNESHIEK COUNTY.
that this move was effected through a compromise entered into between
the respective founders of the two towns.
Immediately on the location of the road, as if by magic, a town
grew up about the nucleus that had previously been built, and was
given the name of Frankville. Frankville very soon became the great
center of attraction. Moneek became discouraged, and moved the
greater part of its worldly effects up to the new town. Among those
who came from Moneek to Frankville was Lathrop and others. As
predicted, the road was crowded with immigrants seeking homes in
Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota, and Frankville became a town
of great importance. The mercantile interests were represeiited by
Adams <fe Houg, Teabout and Peter Beard, who kept a complete stock
of dry goods and a general assortment of everything in the mercantile
The Lathrop House, an impressive three-story frame building, was
built by Phillip Lathrop in the year 1854. This hotel was well pro-
vided for, and did a good business. The building was destroyed by fire
in the winter of 1857-8. Mr. Lathrop was absent at the time of the
burning of his house, at Des Moines, lobbying through a bill asking the
location of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum at Frankville, the people of
that place pledging land and material in aid of its construction. It will
hardly be necessary to say that they failed to secure the location. Mr.
Teabout replaced the building destroyed, by another, which long afforded
hospitality to the traveler. Mr. Lathrop served as landlord in the new
building for some time afterward.
Much of the early success and prosperity of Frankville is justly
accredited to its founder, Mr. Frank Teabout. He possessed wealth,
and lavished it on the various enterprises that benefitted his town. To
be concise, Mr. Teabout is an energetic, money-making man, generous
and public-spirited, of strong likes and dislikes, and when once im-
pressed favorably with an object does not hesitate to give it his support.
Mr. Teabout looked upon his town with favor ; in fact, was very solicit-
ous of its welfare, and, as a natural consequence, at its beginning took
an active part in whatever benefited it. In 1852 he built the Presby-
terian Church, and gave it to that denomination — the first house of
worship built in the vJlage. This church edifice was early occupied
by Rev. D. VV. Lyon, a preacher who divided his time between Mc-
Gregor, Monona, Frankville and other points. While the Rev. D. W.
Lyon was exercising his talents in teaching morality, other elements of
the community were trafficking in liquor, and thereby exercising a
HISTORY or WINNESHIEK COUNTY, 1 19
contra influence. The founder of the town kept a bar and did a lucra-
tive business. One day, when the town was at its acme, a man entered
his saloon and said : " Well, D croaked last night ; did you hear
of it ?" '• No," said Teabout, and continued : " You don't mean to say
that he is dead ?" " Yes," was the answer, " as dead as a mackerel —
died of delirium ire?nens /" " Well," answered Teabout, " sorry, very
sorry to hear that ; he was a good customer. I have been selling him
three gallons a week."
As an illustration of the importance Frankville attained when at its
acme, it will only be necessary to state that the Free Masons of Decorah
used to go to the former place to hold lodge meetings.
Frankville, like all lively towns in a new country, had its desperate
characters, although less known than is frequently the case. Robberies
and bold attempts at it were not infrequent. Mr. Phillip Lathrop was
twice waylaid and once robbed. On one occasion Mr. Lathrop had
returned from Chicago, where he had been to dispose of some stock,
and had a large sum of money on his person. It was late when he
reached home. Darkness, that boon companion of criminals, had
shrounded the earth in gloom Mr. Lathrop, after partaking of his
supper, repaired to the bam to look after a blooded horse he owned. It
seems that the movement had been anticipated by the desperado who
laid in wait for him, and when the opportune time arrived, dealt Mr.
Lathrop a fearful blow with a heavy club, which felled him senseless.
The would-be assassin tore open his victim's shirt, and abstracted a
package containing $700, and immediately decamped. The robber
evidently was in a great hurry, for had he stopped to make a careful
examination, he might have found an additional package containing
$5,000. As it was, in his haste to escape detection he scattered $100
of the amount he had secured along the track as he fled. This amount
was saved to Mr. Lathrop.
There was a family living on Washington Prairie who were very sus-
picious characters, and were looked upon with much distrust by the
settlers. It was firmly believed that their house was the rendezvous for
all the desperadoes and law-breakers of the country. A woman of dis-
reputable character, who had shared their confidence, and no doubt
abetted and aided them in their criminal practices, became angry with
them for some fancied or real slight, and divulged many very unsavory
things. Among other things, she told that they were the murderers of a
missing peddler. Although it was believed that the peddler met such a
120 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTT.
tragic fate, yet nothing could be proven that would inculpate them in
Where law-breakers abound peace officers are necessary. A Mr.
Bateman was the first Jus^^ice of the Peace in Frankville. He was a
native of Wisconsin. For the enforcement of a due regard of law, the
people of Frankville thought they could give him no better officer to
assist in that duty than Moses Hostetter, and consequently he was
chosen the first Constable.
In 1853, and thereabout, Frankville was the seat of learning — the
Athens of Winneshiek County, as it were. At least, she could boast of
more professional men. She had no less than three distinguished attor-
neys, men who did not think it beneath their dignity to accept an office
from their fellow citizens. These men were J. T. Atkins, who served
the peopfle as Representative and Senator, and James McKay, the first
Representative elected after the organization of the county. John D.
McKay served the public as an attorney.
In 1854 Mr. Teabout built a saw-mill at a cost of $1,500. This mill
did a good business, its owner finding a ready sale for all the timber it
could saw. The mill was sold to Mr. Cutler. No trace of it remains
to-day. In 1856 Mr. Teabout built a large steam grist mill, of two
run of stone, at a cost of $10,000. Although the county possessed
some very valuable mill sites, yet but few of them had been utilized.
As a result, the steam grist mill, during the first few years of its exist-
ence, was a financial success ; but as the country settled up, and the
numerous water powers throughout the county became utilized, the
steam mill began to cease paying very large dividends, and was finally
sold by the proprietors to Messrs. Beard and Cutler, who transferred the
machinery to their Spring Water Mill, on the Canoe. Parties used to
come from Southern Minnesota to get their grist ground at this mill.
In 1867 Frankville experienced a revival. The chief mover in the
good work was a Rev. Mr. Taylor. Many converts were made and
much good effected through the christianizing influence wrought through-
out the community by this missionary. Among the number converted
was Mr. Teabout. He was trafficking in liquor at the time. He then
had in stock about $800 worth of liquors, which he rolled into the
street and made into a public bonfire. Ever since this sacrifice Mr,
Teabout has not sold a dollar's worth of liquor.
The Methodist Church was built in 1873. This denomination had
htjld services previously in other buildings. To the Rev. Mr, Webb is
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK. COUNTY. 121
said to belong the honor of being the first minister of this denomination
to officiate in the place.
Frankville continued to prosper until the Milwaukee & St. Paul Rail-
road cut it off; then came its decline. The town numbers about 300
inhabitants, has several stores, two churches, an excellent school, and
possesses many wealthy and influential citizens — men noted throughout
the county for their sterling qualities. Most of these are men who
came to the county poor, or comparatively so, but through industry and
perseverance have been enabled to accumulate a handsome competency.
Hesper Township in iS^i — Two Explorers^ and their Search for
Ho77ies — E. E. Meader — The First Cabins — Opening the First Farm
— Official Survey of the Northern Boundary — The Last Civilized
Dwellifig West of the Mississippi — The First Arrival of Members
of the Society of Friends — Russell Taber Builds a Saw Mill — The
First Merchant — The Friends Erect the First House of Worship —
The First Hotel — The First School House — A Town Organization
Effected —Hesper' s Railroad Schemes — The Indiafi Scare — The
Educational Interests — The Library Associatiojt — The Lutheran
a7id Methodist Churches — Hesper' s Lodge of Good Templars — Con-
Previous to 185 1, the territory now embraced in Hesper Township
was wholly uninhabited and almost unexplored. In February, of that
year, two immigrants, in search of a location, left their families at one
of the settlements on the Volga, in Clayton County, and set out with
the intention of pushing their explorations through Winneshiek and
beyond, or until they found a region of country which would satisfy
them as a future home,
122 HISTORY .OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
When they passed through Decorah there were then in the place only
three houses (log cabins) occupied by three families — Day, Painter and
Morse. Proceeding eight or ten miles to the northwest, they met with
a warm welcome, and found lodging at the house of a man named
Mclntyre, on the very outskirts of the Winneshiek settlements. In
those days, when passing travelers were seldom seen, and neighbors few
and far between, the loneliness of the pioneer families was often very
oppressive, and the arrival of an entire stranger was greeted as warmly
as the visit of an mtimate friend under other circumstances. The desire
for society seems inherent in the human heart, and any one coming to
settle on the frontier was sure of a hearty welcome from those already
located. There was, for the same reason, a feeling of distrust and
antipathy toward land speculators, who would select the choicest tracts
and hold them, unimproved, till the labors of actual settlers upon adja-
cent tracts had greatly enhanced their value. Kindly as our two ex-
plorers were received, their inquiries about land were coolly met, and
not very satisfactorily answered, till their entertainers were convinced
that they came with a view to actual settlement, and not as speculators.
Then a man named Waterman, who was at Mclntyre's, told of a scope
of country lying to the northward, which he believed would just meet
their wishes, and offered to go with them next day to view it, as he was
intending to locate a claim in the same vicinity. The offer was gladly
accepted. The next morning being very cold, yet with but little snow
upon the ground, it was decided to leave the team at Mclntyre's and
proceed to make the intended explorations on foot. Several other men,
including Mclntyre and son, joined company with them, making eight
in all. After several miles' trampiiig, they came into the neighborhood
of the site where the village of Hesper now stands. An inspection of
the surface, soil, timber, water-supply, and general '' lay of the land,"
satisfied the immigrants that this was the place they were looking for,
and that further exploration would be superfluous. At that time this
portion of the county had not been surveyed (was not yet upon the
market) and as the boundary line between Iowa and Minnesota had not.
been run, there was some doubt as to whether it lay in the State or the
Territory. Our immigrants, therefore, decided to go to the land-ofiice
at Dubuque, learn, as far as possible, whether the chosen spot lay within
the State of Iowa, and take steps for securing a claim to such lands as
they had selected.
One of these men was E. E. Meader, the first permanent settler in
Hesper Township, and still one of its honored citizens. He was born
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 1^3
in the State of Maine, in the year 1814, was married to Lydia A. Felker
1836, removed to Southern Indiana in 1837, where he followed the
occujDation of a carpenter and builder. Having decided to change his
location and calling, he started with his family for Iowa in the autumn
of 1850, to seek a home and devote himself to the cultivation of the
soil, the wonderful fertility of which he had heard so highly praised. In
one of the Clayton County settlements he found a temporary stopping
place, when, falling m with a Mr. Frazier, from Wisconsin, who was,
like him, Seeking a new home, they came together in the manner just
related, and made their first inspection of the lands upon which they
Visiting the land office after their prospecting tour, they were assured
that the locality chosen would fall within the State of Iowa, and so they
made immediate preparations to return and begin improvements. Ac-
cordingly, in March they came with their teams, encamped in the
woods, and prepared building sites as follows : Meader on what after-
ward proved to be the southeast quarter of section 10, and almost on
the very spot where his present residence stands ; Frazier on the south-
west quarter of the same section, the site now occupied by the dwelling
of Thomas Truman. They next cut and hauled together logs for build-
ing a house on each site, and then were obliged to go eight miles to
obtain hands to help put them up. Some weeks previous to this Water-
man had come with his family, and encamped on a part of section 11,
near where Russell Taber's steam mill now stands, and was engaged in
making sugar from the sugar-maples in the surrounding woodland. On
the occasion of raising the two houses Mrs. Waterman presided over
the cuhnary department, and the simple meal, composed of such mate-
rials as were obtainable, and served in a style suited to the circumstances,
was eaten with a hearty relish. The occasion was one of general good
feeling and social hilarity, and was long remembered as the first gather-
ing in Hesper Township of that kind which early settlers in any coun-
try know so well how to appreciate. When the company dispersed,
there were to be seen standing, the walls of the two pioneer cabins of the
neighborhood — the walls simply. The roof and floor were to be an
afterwork. In the days following the proprietors cut timber and split
out enough clapboards, or " shakes," to roof both buildings, piled them
outside the walls, and then started back to the Volga settlements for
their families. For some reason, now forgotten, Frazier did not return
to his claim till the following autumn, so that the Meader family was
obliged to come alone. Late in the evening of the nth of April, 1851,
124 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
they reached Ackerson's, about four miles from their destination, where
they were persuaded to pass the night. But early next morning, with-
out stopping for breakfast, they pushed on to their new home, set out
the cook stove beside the unfinished house, and there, in the open air of
that chill April morning, Mrs. Header prepared and set before her hus-
band and five children, the first of many thousands of meals which she
was destined to serve upon the same spot.
The walls of the house had not even a doorway, and the first pro-
ceeding after breakfast was to cut an entrance, and then to put oh the
roof, for which purpose a supply of nails had been brought in the
wagon. By night the family had a shelter overhead, and a loose, tem-
porary floor of split boards ; but the walls being entirely without chink-
ing, and only a blanket hung across the doorway, the first night, which
was stormy, with wind, rain and snow, was cheerless enough.
By a dint of hard labor, patient endurance, and the advance of the
season, they were, in the course of a few weeks, settled in comparative
The next most pressing matter was to get in a crop of corn before the
season for planting was past. To Mr. Header farming was a new oc-
cupation, and especially such farming as was adapted to the location and
circumstances in which he found himself placed. He succeeded, how-
ever, in obtaining help to break ten acres of prairie, and proceeded to
plant it in a manner familiar to all early settlers of the prairies, but
strange enough to persons from the older states, and to very many of
the present residents of Iowa. The tough prairie sod, thinly sliced and
turned over by the breaking plow, afibrded no loose soil for covering the
corn if planted in the ordinary way ; so the expedient was adopted of
cutting a hole with an axe or crowbar, dropping in the seed, and
pressing the cut together with the foot or by another blow with the
implement used. This was the usual process of planting " sod corn,"
and often a fair crop was realized, with no further labor except gather-
ing, the toughness of the sod precluding the possibility of any cultiva-
tion. In this way was planted the first ten acres of corn in the new
settlement. But when it was all in, and had laid long enough to be up
and growing, a new difticulty appeared, and one the possibility of which
our newly-fledged farmer had not anticipated — the seed was bad, and
had rotted in the ground. Nothing remained to be done but attempt
to procure seed that would grow, and then re-plant the field. After
much inquiry and trouble a sufticient quantity of an inferior variety of
com was found which seemed to have retained its vitality, and the re-
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 125
planting was accomplished by the 6th day of June. Although the
season was quite unfavorable, a comparatively fair crop was gathered,
amply sufficient for house supply, with a small surplus for sale. A small
crop of buckwheat was also raised that first season.
The same summer a man named Larsen, a native of Norway, located
a claim on the southwest quarter of section 9, and nearly the same time
a Mr. Brown located on the southeast quarter of the same section.
Frazier arriving with his family in the fall, so the extreme isolation of the
first few months was in a great measure relieved.
The following spring marked an epoch of interest in the history of
this locality, as well as in that of the State, for then it was that the
official survey of the northern boundary was entered upon. For several
days the Engineer Corps made the little settlement their headquarters
while engaged with their duties in the vicinity, and added to its material
prosperity, as well as enlivened it socially during their stay. Stopping
again as they returned from, the final completion of their labors, they
reported that the house of one Nichols, erected that spring five miles
west of Hesper, but on the Minnesota side, was the last civilized dwell-
ing they fell in with on their route from the Mississippi River to the
In the summer of 1853 there was quite an influx of settlers, among
whom might be mentioned Tristram Allen, a member and minister of
the Society of Friends, or Quakers, who, with his tamily, came from
Michigan in August of that year, and bought out Frazier's claim, upon
which he settled and lived for almost twenty years, or until a short time
before his death, which occurred in 1873.
Two months later several other families of Friends came from some
part of Michigan and settled, some of them within the limits of this
township, and some just over the line in Minnesota. Thus was begun
the nucelus of the Quaker Settlement at Hesper, which has ever since
been one of the prominent features of the place. Among those who
came at this time was Geo. N. Holway, a native of Massachusetts, but
for a time before his coming to Iowa a resident of Michigan. He pur-
chased and settled upon the claim located by Larsen, on section 9,
where he lived for a number of years, and then removed to Decorah,
where he still resides. Also Joseph Gibbon, D. Allan, Ansel Rogers,
and Abraham West.
In the spring of 1855 was held the first regularly organized meeting
of the Society of Friends in the new settlement, and in the course of
the summer a number of families of that persuasion came in from Ver-
126 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
mont, adding materially to the Quaker element and to the prosperity of
the settlement. Among these were Russell Taber and his brothers, who,
having purchased the clami originally located by Waterman, began to
make preparations for erecting a steam mill. This they got in running
order, so as to do sawing, before winter set in. This mill, with its sub-
sequent additions and enlargements, still stands on the north side of the
village of Hesper.
During the winter a small building was put up, a stock of goods pro-
cured, and the first mercantile establishment in the place was opened, by
H. H. Whaley, on the corner now occupied by Header's store.
With opening spring came another influx of immigrants, among them,
several families of Friends, from Indiana, and in the course of the sum-
mer of 1856, the members of that society erected a meeting house, on
the southwest corner of section 10, from which place it was, a year
later, removed to a lot within the bounds of the town, then being first
On the third day of July, 1856, T. N. Wilson arrived with his family
from Jackson County, where he had stopped for two years after coming
to the State, from the East. Immediately after his arrival he began
preparations for erecting a house, which, with subsequent additions and
enlargements, is the hotel he now occupies. On the last day of July,
the building was so far completed that the family moved into it, and on
the third day of August it was first opened for the entertainment of
travelers, since which time it has been the principal stopping place for
strangers in the town of Hesper.
The following year still more marked advances were made in the way
of enterprise and improvement. In April, the first Methodist Quarterly
Meeting was held in Wilson's house, and the Rev. Mr. Lease, then quite
a young man, was placed upon the charge as minister. In the summer
a school house was put up on a lot where the building now stands, but '
no longer used for its original purpose ; it is now known as the " Grange
Hall." The first term of school in this house was taught by Edward
W. Holway, and at this time a resident of Cresco, in Howard County.
The same summer a blacksmith shop was erected by H. A. Maydale,
and several other buildings going up, with quite a demand for building
lots, it was decided to lay out a town under the name of Hesper, a con-
clusion which, it seems, was not fully entertained previous to this time.
Accordingly a survey was made, a plat drawn on the 27th of December,
1857, and recorded on the 25th of February, 1858. From that time
forward the place had a definite name and prospect. The township was
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. I27
organized the same year, it having previovsly been included with Burr
Oak, and shortly after, — the exact date of which the writer has been
unable to ascertain, the Hesper Postoffice was established, with H, H.
Whaley as first Postmaster.
Year by year the little town slowly improved and increased in size and
importance ; not with the mushroom growth of temporary points of
speculation, nor with the great strides of a central trading mart, but with
the steady, healthy prosperity of a quiet rural village, which is all it
claims to be.
It is true that an occasional railroad scheme has raised anticipations
almost to fever heat, and for a time accelerated the common pulse-rate,
but these are only what every community are liable to be attacked with
at intervals, making a casual disturbance of equilibrium, but in no way
interfering with the general steady course of events.
Though peopled so largely with the peace-loving Quakers, this town-
ship furnished a full quota of soldiers during the war of the rebellion,
and at the time of the Indian outbreak in Minnesota, the settlement was
thrown into a state of great anxiety and fear on account of its exposed
and comparatively defenseless situation. Couriers were dispatched in
every direction, men and arms collected, and preparations made for as
stubborn a defense as possible, in case the worst should come. But the
mounted scouts sent out to scour the country to the northwest, after a
ride of many miles, and an absence of several days, came back reporting
no signs of Indians in all the country through which they had passed.
In the course of a few weeks the excitement died away without any
sanguinary result, but it is still fresh in the memory of those who passed
through it, as a season of general trepidation, panic and distress.
The educational interests of the place early began to assume a degree
of no small importance. Scholars from other parts of the county and
adjoining portions of Minnesota, flocked to the public school of Hesper,
and their progress in learning gave it a deservedly high reputation. In
the course of time the old schoolhouse was found to be too small to ac-
commodate the pupils and the present elegant and well arranged build-
ing was erected, in 1872.
In March, 1868, a library association was formed, under the name of
" The Philomatheans," and a small, but well-assorted circulating library
was collected, which has done much toward cultivating the literary taste
of those who have taken advantage of the privileges offered to the mem-
bers of the association, The number of volumes now in the library is
128 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Hesper has likewise, always shown an unusual interest in the cause of
morality and religion. The membership of the society ot Friends at
this place being yearly increased by immigration from the New England
States, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, it became necessary to build a
larger place of worship, which was accordingly done in the summer of
1870. About the same time, or perhaps a year earlier, there being a
heavy Norwegian population in the surrounding country, and these be-
ing mostly of the " Established Church " of their own country, they
erected a Lutheran church just on the outskirts of the village southward.
It is a neat frame building, with a bell-tower, which contains a good,
clear-toned bell. On occasions of the regular church service, the
audience room is always crowded with an eager and attentive congrega-
In 1873 there was a Methodist Church built, in a pleasant location in
the western part of town. This elegant structure, surmounted by a
graceful spire, adds much to the attractive appearance of the village,
besides affording a comfortable and pleasant place for the religious ser-
vices of the society.
In the cause of temperance Hesper has always maintained a high
rank. No drinking saloon has ever been able to secure a foothold in
the place, and the only attempt ever made to establish one was nipped in
the bud by the friends of temperance, who were thoroughly aroused by
the threatened invasion of their community by a foe so destructive of
morality and good order. In the year 1861, a lodge of Good Templars
was organized and kept in active working order for some time, but it
was, at length, suffered to go down. In February, 1876, a reorganiza-
tion was effected, and now the Hesper Lodge is one of the largest and
most active in the state, with an enrollment of 125 members in good
Having no railroads or other means of public transportation, Hesper
has never figured very largely as a point for trade. The interest in this
direction being at present limited to two dry goods and general variety
stores, and one drug store. In manufactures and mechanic arts it ranks
rather higher, there being a steam saw mill and general wood-work
establishment, with a small foundry and machine shop in connection
with it; three wagon and sleigh shops, three blacksmith shops, three
boot and shoe shops, one for harness making, one tailor shop, one mil-
linery establishment, and a photograph gallery.
To the visitor the village presents a remarkably attractive appearance,
on account of the almost universal air of neatness and comfort exhibited
HISTORY or WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 129
by the dwelling houses and and their surroundings, as well as on account
of the elevated location, from which a charming view is obtained over
much of the surrounding country, and especially to the northward.
And, finally, the people of Hesper, though regretting the inconvenience
of their isolation from railroads, seem generally satisfied that their town-
ship is second to none in the county, in the possession of those elements
which go to make a community healthy, self-supporting, law-abiding,
comfortable, intelligent and happy.
TJie Value of Thoroughfares — Ossian Thirty Years Ago — Its Founders
— A?i Account of its Earliest Settlers — A Western 7aver7i — The
Original Town Site — The Second Addition — Ossian the Rendezvous
of Counterfeiters — The Establishmeiit of a Postoffice — Its First Post-
master — The First Merchant — The First School House and First
Teacher — The Assessments of Early Days — First Death — First
Doctor — Newspaper History — Hoisting the Stars a?id Stripes — A
New Era in the History of the Place — The Churches — Ossian^ s
Importa7ice and Prospective Future.
In the infancy of Winneshiek County, as with all new countries, the
location and opening of each thoroughfare for travel was hailed with as
much joy as was the prospects of a railroad in latter times. The per-
manent location of a thoroughfare insured the prosperity of those
living in its immediate vicinity, for over these roads must come the sea
of immigration flooding the land. Over them must be transported the
products of the country and the necessaries of life needed by the settlers
— no luxuries were in demand — and as a natural effect following the
cause, along the margin of these thoroughfares, at convenient distances,
small towns, or the germ of such, sprang into existence, serving as a
center at which the commercial interests of the country could be trans-
acted. No wonder then tha.t the location of roads were much striven
130 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTV.
for, and especially those of that character known as State roads. State
roads were located by the State, and were considered permanent, while
county roads would be re-located or discontinued. The location of a State
road ever furnished an object of contention, and was regarded covet-
ously by all the settlers that it would be likely to affect in the remotest
degree ; consequently the reason of the strife between the settlers on
Washington Prairie and those along the Military Road, in trying to
secure to themselves the location of the State road, spoken of to some
extent in the history of Frankville.
Although the settlers along the Military Road failed in securing the
(their) cherished object — the location of the State road past their doors
— yet they possessed one thing to furnish them consolation — they had
the Military Road, over which, at this time, the principal travel was
In 1850 there came to the county a man who was impressed with the
beauty and fertility of a certain section located on the margin of the old
Military Road. It was on an undulating prairie, in which Nature had
seemed to vie with herself in spreading upon it her store of wealth with
a lavish hand. The land was dressed in the tints of summer, and the
occasional leafy groves breaking the monotony of the aspect lent en-
chantment to the scene. The land smiled with radiance, decked as it
was in the adornments of nature. As the man contemplated this pano-
rama his heart filled with admiration, which could find expres-
sion only in rapture over the scene spread out before him. Here
at last was the place that he had long sought and had found not. Like
Archimedes, he felt like exclaiming aloud. Eureka! Here, on the
margin of the old Military Road, he would settle and make for him-
self a home. The question whether to pitch his tent here or not was
not debatable. To behold the location was to decide in its favor.
This man, like others who settled near the main thoroughfares in a new
country, had his dreams of the future, and saw stored away in his
cas'les built on air the reward which he surely hoped to reap at a distant
day. Feeding on his bright hopes of the future, here on this wild,
beautiful and isolated spot he willingly became an exile for the time
being. He believed his location suitable for a large town, and fondly
hoped, as setders came in and the country matured, that others would
be of like opinion, and gather about him, actuated with the same desire
— the building of a town which he hoped would eventually become the
capital of the county. At this time, for a distance of five miles around
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. i^i
him, there was not to be seen, curling skyward, the neighborly smoke of
a single settler.
John Ossian Porter/ at the time of his settlement here, was in the
prime of life. He was born in Henderson, Jefferson County, N. J., in
the year 1822, and at the age of 20 was married to Miss Emily Wilkin-
son. His wife was 17 years of age at the time of their marriage. At
25 years of age Mr. Porter moved with his family to Mercer County,
Pa., where he followed farming for a living, and two years later he
moved to Crawford County, the same State, where he kept hotel. He
followed this business but one year, when, in company with his wife and
four children, he immigrated to Winneshiek County, Iowa, settling on
the northeast quarter of section 10, township 96, north of range 8, west
of the principal meridian. In the early history of the place Mr. Porter
took a very conspicuous part. He was frequently engaged in litigation,
and it is said by those who knew him best in other days that he resem-
bled the heathen Chinese.
" For ways that are dark,
And tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar."
This is affirmed on good authority, and the writer doubts not, with
good reason, Mr. Porter was undoubtedly engaged in many " crooked "
transactions, although nothing of a criminal nature has ever been
proven against him in a court of justice.
The next settlers in the immediate vicinity, which was afterward des-
tined to be Ossian, were the Brookses, who came a year and a half later.
Chauncey Brooks had married Janett Newcombe. The natural result
of this matrimonial alliance was an offspring born to them in the spring
of 1852, which was the first white child born in Ossian. She was
christened Mary. Capt. Caleb Brooks and Chauncey built a small,
unpretentious log cabin, and lived the first years together. One of them
afterwards built a stone building, which was used for years as a hotel.
J. O. Porter was the first to build. He erected a frame building,
18x20 in size, near the site of the old Quarter House, used years before
by persons on their way from Fort Crawford to Fort Atkinson, and so
named as it was considered a quarter of the distance between these
places. This house became noted as a tavern, although the proprietor
never " hung out his shingle," and is justly credited with being the first
hotel in the place, and J. O. Porter the first landlord. During the year
the land-office was located at Decorah, John Ossian Porter's house was
a celebrated station for the stages running from McGregor west.
132 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
The next settlers following in the wake of the Brookses were Adolph
Howard, John R. Howard, and Charles Wood. They came from Erie
County, Pa. Nicholas Limebeck and family came next, and for a time
at least rented land of Mr. Porter before making a permanent settle-
ment. About this time James Brooks, the Nicholsons, Barney Boyle
and McManus, took up their abode in this section.
The original town site of Ossian was laid out by its founder, John
Ossian Porter, on the southeast corner of the section. It consisted of
three blocks, in all fourteen lots. It was acknowledged by J. O. Porter
and wife on the 13th of April, 1855, and was filed for record in the
Recorder's office of Winneshiek County on the 30th of April, the same
year. Mr. Elijah Middlebrook did the surveying. Two years later, on
the 8th of April, Capt. C. E. Brooks acknowledged the plat of the first
addition to Ossian, which was according placed on the proper record.
It consists of six blocks, containing sixty-three lots.
On the 8th day of October, 1864, Capt. C. E. Brooks acknowledged
the plat of his second addition to Ossian, which consisted of thirty
blocks, divided into lots. This plat was properly recorded. On the 4th
day of May, 1869, he laid out ten additional blocks, and called it
Brooks' Western Addition to Ossian. This, so far as the records show,
was the last addition to the place, and, minus the vacation of a few
blocks by Mr. Brooks, is the Ossian of to-day.
In the early days of Ossian it was charged that a band of counter-
feiters made it their rendezvous. Although counterfeit gold pieces were
in circulation, and the " queer " " shoved " by suspicious persons, and
other evidence existed that the nefarious business was being plied in this
vicinity, yet no action was ever taken for the punishment of the sup-
posed guilty parties.
Ossian assumed its name at the time of the establishment of the post-
office at that place. Mr. Goddard was very anxious that a postoffice
should be established here, and this result was finally brought about
through his influence and labor. He circulated a petition asking the
location of a postoffice at this point, which was unanimously signed.
The petition was finally granted. Mr. J. Ossian Porter was made the
first postmaster, and the new office was ever after known by his name.
Several years after the first to wn plat was made, Mr. Porter erected a
shanty, and gave the use of the same to Erick Anderson, in which to
conduct a mercantile business. Mr. Anderson purchased a stock of
goods of Lathrop, who was located at Moneek, and had by this time
begun to sensibly feel that the town was dead, and was glad of an
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. I33
opportunity of selling. This stock was transferred to Ossian, and thus
did Ossian acquire her first store and first merchant. At this time the
country was poor, and everybody seemed to want credit. Mr. Ander-
son very generously trusted, and, as a result, his mercantile pursuit was
The first school was taught in a room over Erick Anderson's store,
and a young man by the name of John Case taught it. This school
was a select one, and was paid for out of the pockets of its patrons. Un-
fortunately for the growing up youths of the place, Ossian had no
public school building for years after that period when she needed such
an institution. The residents were divided as to the best location for
such a building, and forever quarreling about it. As a result, no build-
ing was built, and the young children were the sufferers thereby.
The first school-house built in the village is now occupied as a saloon.
About the year 1870 a large commodious brick school-house was built,
which at present furnishes ample accommodations for the scholars that
attend the public school. In the year 1871, or thereabout, a German
school building was erected.
Almost from its earliest inception — from the time that its proprietor
kept his jug well filled, down to the present time, — Ossian has been cel-
ebrated for its traflic in intoxicating drinks, and street brawls were not an
infrequent occurrence in its early history. The place used to be quite a
rendezvous, as it were, for the sporting men. Here they would
brmg their scrub horses and have their scrub races, which often grew
exciting and furnished much amusement. There were other amusements
beside horse racing, to lighten the gloom, if such ever fell athwart the
path of these settlers. Dancing was another favorite amusement, and
considering the disadvantages under which it was pursued, must have
been much relished and very exhilirating. Every week, about, a dance
was announced to come off at the house of J. O. Porter, and here, at
the appointed time, the boys with their girls would gather from every
point of the compass. Jimmy Buller was the only musician, and the
only tune he could play was, " Pop Goes the Weasel." This he would
play and they would dance all night, making the old building fairly
shake with their tread.
The first death to occur in the vicinity of Ossian, as near as can be
ascertained, was that of Thomas Larsen. He was killed by an ox team
running away with him.
In 1856, a Dr. Haskell became a resident of the place. He was a
quack, and dealt in quack medicines. Dr. Blakeman was really Ossian's
t34 HtSTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
first physician. He did not remain long. Dr. N. A. Drake was the
first physician that permanently located at Ossian and made a success of
Porter & Brooks were the first attorneys, or rather pettifoggers that
the place had.
To the Rosa boys belongs the credit of running the finst threshing
machine west of Monona. They were ever busy, and did a lucrative
T. B. Wood gave Ossian its first newspaper enterprise. It lived but
a short time. A second Enterprise was started in 1876, which likewise
had a brief, but brilliant existence. In 1877, the Ossian Independent
was started, by E. L. Howe. It remains for time to say whether this
last venture shall succeed or not.
About the year 1861, when the whole country was in a fury of ex-
citement over the secession of the Southern States, an event occurred
which is worthy of record in the history of Ossian. Her chief propri-
etors, Porter and Brooks, and a blacksmith named Henry, were Dem-
ocrats, and talked favorable to the south, in a joking way. It was the
wrong time to joke on so serious a subject. The loyal men of the sur-
rounding country, and from the vicinity of Castalia, organized and paid
Ossian a visit with the avowed purpose of humiliating her proprietors.
They raised a liberty-pole, and floated from its top the Stars and Stripes.
The year 1865 marked a new era in the history of Ossian. That
which was the death blow of Frankville — the railroad — gave fresh life to
Ossian. During this year the railroad was built past its door. The
year before, C. E Brooks made a fresh addition to the place, which was
far-sighted, for town lots became in demand immediately. The follow-
ing year the construction of numerous dwellings was commenced, and
business interests of various kinds multiplied.
Broughton was the first druggist.
Ossian was nearly twenty-one years of age before a single church
edifice had been erected. The Catholics erected a building for worship,
which was the first, about the year 1869. About two years later the
Methodists built a church.
To-day Ossian is the second place of importance in the county. As
the shipments by railroad is an indication of what the place is, the
figures are here given : In 1874, Ossian shipped 266,505 bushels of
wheat, 1,871 bushels of oats, 8,820 bushels of barley, 1,693 live hogs,
and 428,000 dressed hogs. This statement shows a business done, sec-
ond only to that of Decorah. At the present writing, Ossian has a
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 135
population of about 700 souls. The city was incorporated March, 1876,
and as a result of the first city election, the following city officers were
Mayor — Geo. McWilliams.
Aldermen — James Kenedy, H. C. Borgess, Carl Eiler, S. D. Hinckley
and J. J. Smith.
Clerk — James Maloy.
Around Ossian is a broad, open prairie, of the richest description,
which is nearly all under cultivation, and presents to the eye a black
surface, indicative of a soil of the most productive nature. It is a ship-
ping point for a large section of country, the shipments from this station
comparing favorably with any other along the road.
Ossian has not yet reached its acme. It will continue to progress for
years to come, and in the future, promises to be one of our most flour-
ishing inland cities.
136 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Founding of Marysville, afterwards known as Calmar — Peter Clawson
and A If Clark its Founders — Strife between Calmar and Conover
for the Supremacy — The Iowa and Dakotah Branch Railroad —
Incorporation of the Village — Newspaper History — Societies —
Churches — Hotels — Saloons — The Natural Situation of the Place —
Its Resources — Its Prospects for the Future — Population.
" In the early part of the year 1854, the first building was erected in
Calmar by Peter Clawson and Alf. Clark, natives of Sweden, who came
from California about that time, and located at this place. This build-
ing was little more than a shanty, but served the double purpose of
variety store and dwelling house, Clark & Clawson being the occupants
and the first merchants of the town.
"John P. Landin, my informant, tells me that the town site, sur-
veyed a little later in the season — himself helping to carry the chain —
and was then platted and dedicated to the public, by Clark, the owner
of the land. On the completion of the survey it was found that the
" store " stood in the center of Main Street. Before winter, however,
Clarke & Co. had erected three other buildings of more pretentions, —
a hotel, the Calmar House, which burned down in August, 1873, ^
store, on the site now occupied by P. Olson's building, and a saloon,
which stood on the ground now occupied by the Huston House.
Clark and Co. ran the new store, one Henry Miller the hotel, and
Hans Gulbranson the saloon, while Landin served for some time in the
capacity of hostler in the hotel stable. On account of the scarcity of
shingles in the river markets at the time, the hotel was roofed in the first
instance with canvas, or sheeting, and so remained for several months.
Landin dug the first well in town, during the same year. It was sunk in
the public square, and when down about fourteen feet, but before coming
to water, it was left uncovered. One night Clawson, in a journey from
the saloon to his store, walked into it. As there was no water in town
HISTORY OF WINNESHTEiK COUNTY. 1 37
at the time, it is fair to presume that the ardent he got at the saloon was
clear, and it made him so " loose " and limber that he was not in the
least harmed by the fall. " On the 9th of July, 1854," says Landin^.
" before I ever saw Calmar, or the site where it stands, I stopped at Fort
Atkinson, ate supper, stopped over night and breakfasted next day with
Squire Cooney. After hoeing corn a while as an equivalent, I inquired
of the Squire if there was any of my countrymen in the vicinity, and he
told me that there was one by the name of Clark keeping store at
Whisky Grove, and I came up here. It was my first day in Calmar.
Whisky Grove, it appears, was a name often applied to this locality in
" The town was by Clark named "Marysville," and went by that name,
for about one year, when a postoffice was located here, and, on account
of there being another Marysville in the state, the name was changed to
"Calmar," This latter name was also of Clark's choosing, and was
given in remembrance of his native town of " Kalmar," situated on
Kalmar Sound, on the southeast coast of Sweeden. Clark was the first
Postmaster, and his successors have been P. M. Stanberg, D. S. Lovejoy,
and John Scott, the present incumbent.
"In the year 1855, Landin erected a wooden building on the site now
occupied by the Clawson & Landin Block. In that building he opened
up a grocery busmess, and sold whisky and beer — the latter he brewed
himself in an underground cave near by. A large percentage of his
sales were paid in butter and eggs. At that time he paid from six cents
to nine cents per pound for butter, and three cents per dozen for eggs.
Whisky sold at five cents a glass, so that for only one dozen and eight
eggs a man could get a " square drink," and if a customer wanted a
"nog" it was common for the trader to throw in the egg "free gratis."
"During the next year (1856) the original portion of the Huston
House was built by Clark, and is the oldest structure now standing in
town. After this there were the usual changes ana improvements com-
mon to small country towns, for a number of years. The place was
slowly thriving, but nothing of importance occurred until the fall of 1864,
at which time the track of the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway
was laid into and past Calmar. No depot was built here, and no side
track put down, and the people were quite despondent at the prospect
of being totally ignored by the railroad company, and having their village
passed by with no more notice than if it had been a straw stack. Con-
over, three miles further west, was the terminus of the road for the
season, and there the company built a depot and put in side tracks.
138 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Conover was seemingly the fortune favored locality. During the follow-
ing winter and spring it was a point where material lor construction was
gathered, and a general rendezvous for the railroad operatives ; and for
some lime it bid fair to become the " boss town " of the county. Like
a Pacific Coast mining camp, it was of mushroom growth. In the course
of six months from the starting it had attained a population of about
twelve hundred, and boasted several hundred buildings, including stores,
hotels, butcher shops, and some fourteen saloons — the latter doing a
"land office" business. Town lots were held at a fabulous price, and
the lucky farmer whose land adjoined the new metropolis considered his
fortune secured. The Conover man, with an air of patronizing sympa-
thy, advised his Calmar friend to " move up," and not waste his exist-
ence in so dull a place as Calmar, assuring him that in no event could
it again become of any importance except as a suburb of Conover.
Some of our townsmen credulously acted on this advice, with the subse-
quent experience of the prodigal son. A few months after this the
railroad commenced building a depot and putting down side tracks in
Calmar. .\11 the business men were as tickled as a boy who has
narrowly escaped a threshing. Some of them exhibited their good
feeling by helping the workmen to carry and place rails on the track, and
making themselves generally useful, until it seemed to occur to them that
the track at that stage would be put down without their help, and that
their enthusiasm was manifesting itself in a somewhat ludicrous manner.
After this quite a rivalry sprung up between the two villages, and it
seemed uncertain for a couple of years which would come off victor.
But as tne railroad was completed further on, Conover's inhabitants were
in part withdrawn. Her trade gradually diminished and her prosperity
disappeared. People moved away and took their buildings with them,
the renegade Calmarite took his store or his dwelling, piece-meal, or
mounted it on skids, and then attaching a long string of oxen, slowly
and mournfully moved back into the bosom of his first love, a sadder,
but doubtless a wiser man. This was done by deserters to surrounding
towns, until the village up the way had to a great extent disappeared,
which disappearance was helped along by a disastrous fire occurring
about the same time. Of late years there are some unfeeling persons
who, all unmindful of the former glory of the little village, persist in
calling it " Gone-over;" but it is not altogether gone, and there are still
some good men staying there. In fact it seems to be a remarkable place
for staying^ as all who have passed by rail between this point and Decorah
can testify. The jolly conductor, who, in the winter of 1873, gained a
HISTORY OF WtNNESHIEK COUNTV. t$<)
reputation as a "snow-bucker," seems to have a decided tendency to
s/av in Conover ; so much so that his passengers often wonder if he has
concluded to seU/e there. Though quite able to buck his train through
a formidable snow drift, in any ordinary locality, in Conover he would
seem to be unable to propel himself through a bank of moonshine.
But the little town is still a good place to rest. It has about it that
" Hold-on- boy s-don'l-fiet-it-won't-take-you-long-to-rest-an-hour" sort of
an air, that is perfectly irresistible. It is fair to presume that if the
" Seven Sleepers " had not awakened till recently, and should have
first opened their eyes in that village, instead of making many strange
inquiries, and exhibiting surprise at the changed appearance of the
modern Ephesus, or the altered look, or behavior of the inhabitants,
they would have merely looked around a moment, stretched their limbs,
yawned, and then turned over and commenced another nap. The
Trojan spirits who still cling to the fortunes of that village are certainly
deserving of the highest praise. Like the stem Roman soldier who
stood guard at the gate of Pompeii, and still refused to leave his post,
though the sky " rained fire and ashes," and the molten, bubbling flood
advanced, threatening sure destruction, they deserve to be embalmed in
history. But when they shall have tired of the unequal struggle against
destiny, Calmar stands with open arms to receive them as the honored
representatives of her former rival.
" In the year 1868, work was commenced on the Iowa & Dakotah
branch of the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, with Calmar as its eastern
terminus and junction with the main line. During the year, track was
laid as far as New Hampton, considerably increasing the trade of the
town, and adding to its importance as a shipping center as the road was
pushed further into the interior. During the next year the Decorah
branch was built, but for a year thereafter the trains of that branch did
not run farther east than Conover, since which time Calmar has been
the eastern end of their run and the point of passenger transfer. But,
as already stated, these trains still make a siay at Conover.
" In the year 1869, under the provisions of the Municipal Incorpora-
tion Act, Chapter 51, Revised Statutes of i860, Calmar was made an
incorporated town, and was duly organized by the election of municipal
officers in March, 1870. John Scott was elected Mayor, and was re-
elected in 187 1. In 1872 John W. Tower was elected Mayor, and in
1873-4 the citizens chose S. V. Potter to fill that office. In 1875 the
mande was worn by A. E. Manchester, and E. Pennington is the present
incumbent. Since the incorporation of the town, several miles of side-
140 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK. COUNTY.
walks and cross-walks have been built, Town Hall erected, and many
other public improvements made.
" In the year 1870, Calmar first boasted a newspaper. It was called
the WhmesJiiek Representative, and was published and edited by T. B
Wood. It was continued here for about a year, and was then removed
to Ossian, where it died a natural death shortly afterwards. The next
venture in the newspaper business was undertaken by S. S. Haislett.
He issued the first number of the Calmar Guardiaii on the 19th of
April, 1876, and has ever since continued its publication.
The Free- Masons have a Lodge in Calmar with a membership of
forty-five. Their hall is over the postoffice, and is neat, commodious
and well furnished. The Lodge is out of debt, and its growth and
influence in our town has been rapid and benificent.
" The Sons and Daughters of Temperance also have a Lodge here,
and although organized only about a year ago, it has about forty active
members, and is doing a good work. Their hall, on the upper floor of
the Anderson-Landin Block, is large and well arranged. In them is
also embodied the ' Calmar Dramatic Club,' which for the last four
years has been one of the recognized institutions of the place. Their
hall is furnished with a stage, scenery and all the requisites for success-
ful dramatic representation.
" Calmar is not a ' City of Churches," but the near future is full of
promise in that direction. The Norwegian Lutheran Society have a
substantial stone edifice, occupying a commanding eminence in the
eastern limits of the town, which was built in 1857, but has since been
enlarged and refurnished. The Methodists hold public worship in the
school building at present, but have hopes of being able to build before
long, while the Roman Catholics have purchased grounds near the
center of town, and will shortly commence the erection of a fine church
"The Calmar Graded School, with Prof. J. A. Klein as principal,
and Miss Isbell, assistant, is being conducted in a very creditable manner,
and exhibits on its rolls for the present term the names of 125 pupils.
The school building is large, well ventilated, and a model of convenience.
"The hotels are the Calmar Hotel, the Huston House and the Ameri-
can House, all well kept and doing a good business. Our town is still
in need of further hotel accommodations. Any person with sufticient
capital to erect a first-class hotel building here, and to furnish it in good
shape, having at the same time the * talent to run an hotel," will find a
good opportunity for a paying investment.
HISTORY Of WINNESHIEK COUNTY. t^t
" The manufacturing establishment of Miller, Giesing & Co. is one of
the live mstitutions of the place. Besides turning out numerous bob-
sleighs, carriages, etc., this company turned out last season 125 wagons.
The ' Calmar Wagon ' is fast gaining a wide reputation.
" For the size of the place, Calmar has fewer saloons than any other
town in the county, though there are five here in active operation, each
paying a license of $100 a year to the corporation for the privilege of
selling ale, wine and beer.
" John Hammer and — . Umheifer run the Calmar meat markets, and
R. Dixon and C. J. Lindgren are the knights of the strop and razor.
Prominent among our contractors and builders are L. O. Moon and J.
" Calmar is situated on an elevated ridge, directly on the line of the
old Military Road, which formerly led from McGregor to Fort Atkin-
son, and is about five miles southeast of the latter place. The sur-
rounding country is a high rolling prairie, with beautiful groves of
young timber here and there, some of which have been planted, and
others that have grown up since the ingress of the first settlers. No
finer prospect can be found in Northern Iowa than is afforded from the
Landin Block, in Calmar. Especially is this true in autumn, when a
peculiarly heavy haze often lingers in the great troughs between the
prairie swells like the arms of a stretching sea, while the summits of
the swells, with their russet-tinted groves, and farm houses, stretch away,
one beyond another, like island ridges, the whole forming a beautiful
and fairy-like archipelago. To the west and south, here and there a
glimpse may be caught of the timber fringe marking the course of the
Turkey, while northward may be seen patches of the blufty highlands
which lie contiguous to the Upper Iowa. Taken altogether, a more
pleasingly-diversified landscape would be hard to find. A more health-
ful locality than Calmar can not be found within the State. Being high
and dry, it is exceedingly free from malaria, and when other and lower
localities are stifling in a dead air, under a sweltering sun, Calmar
almost invariably has a cool, refreshing breeze. Excellent water is found
at a depth of from 16 to 30 feet.
" Besides. being a railroad center, and the home of scores of railroad
employes (thus making the railroad directly tributary to the trade and
prosperity of our town) it is in the very heart and center of the famous
Winneshiek wheat-fields, and as Winneshiek is the banner wheat county
of the State, so is Calmar the banner township. There are many cattle
and hogs raised for market by the surrounding farmers, and may be con-
142 HISTORY Of WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
sidered among the staples. Good building-stone is found in unlimited
quantity only a short distance from town.
"The population of Calmar is from 700 to 900, consisting of native-
born, or Americans, and Norwegians in about equal third parts, the
remaining third being composed of Germans, Irish, Swedes and Bo-
hemians, altogether forming quite a diversified, energetic and very indus-
trious community. With a most delightful and healthy location, with a
population containing no drones, with her excellent railroad facilities —
about to be further extended by the continuation of the Iowa & Dakota
division of the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway, still further west — with
her central position in the great wheat fields, and the growing impor-
tance of her trade and manufactures, Calmar has every reason to antici-
pate a future of unusual growth and prosperity, and it scarcely needs a
prophet to foretell that her anticipations will be realized."
HISTORY or WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 1 43
Early Settlers of Lincobi Township — Water Courses — Danger of
Pioneer Prairie Life — The Pioneer House and its Accofnmodations
— Ridgewaf s Birth and Christening — A Flower Blooms that Bears
Seed — The Railroad Company beco?nes Magnanimous and Builds a
Coop for the Accoynmodaiion of Travelers — Death of an Invalid —
The Demon who Presides over the Ruling Pvil, and his Victims —
The First Nasby, and Others who followed him — Ridgeway becomes
an Independent School District — Fury of the Fire King — Ridgeway
Falls its Victim and is nearly Obliterated — Death of Daniel Rice
— Recapitulation of the Losses Sustained by the Fire — Conclusion.
The first settlement was made in Lincoln township in the spring of
1852. Knud Alfson built a small house and broke- up a few acres on
Section 27, wliile Lars Thomson commenced about the same time on
Section 34. In the fall of the same year, Jacob Knudson and Kittle
Sanderson established themselves on Section 22. The next year Gun-
der Kittleson, Albert Kittleson, GuUick Thompson, Tove Thompson and
Thomas Thompson, settled in the immediate neighborhood, while John
Seleir, Michael Farrel, Charles Straun, John Wholehan, Nels Olsen,
Charles Junck, H. W. Klemme, Andrew Michael, Phillip Kratz and \Vm.
Blackburn, came in during the two or three years following.
The township of Lincoln was formerly reckoned as an integral part of
Decorah, an arrangement that did not last very long, however, as I am
informed a reconstruction of the map was soon effected, by which the
present township was apportioned to Sumner, and upon the authorized
survey and platting of townships, was given its present name.
The first birth in Lincoln was a daughter of K. Alfson, an intelligent
young lady, still unmarried, I believe.
The Turkey River runs through the western portion of the township,
144 HISTOHY or WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
affording considerable power, some of which is improved. Dauber-
smith's mill, about two and one-half miles from Ridgeway, is on the
stream, and doing a fair milling business. There are several small
water courses arising from springs in other portions of the township,
which wend their way through sloughs and sharper depressions towards
both the Turkey and Iowa.
Those who have settled upon the prairies of the west since the genius
of enterprise commenced the building of railroads over their trackless
wilds, can form but a faint conception of the hardships, trials and
dangers to which the pioneers were exposed. For years the only mar-
kets for the products of their farm were trading posts, some times a
hundred miles away; and in the fall of 1863, most of their wheat was
hauled by horses and oxen to McGregor, over a hundred miles, and by
" ways that were dark " at that. The farmers of Lincoln were not ex-
empt from the general inconvenience and harhships of pioneer life, and
many thrilling stories have I heard them tell of snow blockades wherein
the proceeds of the sale of a load of wheat would all go to pay hotel
bills, while their families at home were anxiously looking for their return.
In 1866, Ridgeway existed only in name. About this time the
railroad company built a house for their accommodation, and Mr. S.
Pike soon afterwards took charge of it. The building was 16x32 feet
base, one and a half stories high, divided into several compartments,
and ceiled throughout with good matched flooring. Mr. Pike with his
wife moved into the house December 4, 1866, a day ever to be remem-
bered in their experiences of housekeeping. Though the ground had
been frozen for some time previous, the heavy rains that had fallen the
preceeding week had thawed the earth again, and the different gangs
who were grading the prospective grounds, and also a gang of track-
layers who were putting in a switch and laying a spur of track for present
accommodation, had made the house a place of resort for shelter during
the heaviest of the rains, and when they reached there about dark of
that rainy December night, the prospect was dreary enough. The mud
was over an inch deep on the floor, but they succeeded in getting a stove
up, and, with boards laid upon chairs, made their couches for the night,
not, however, until the boys had shoveled a cart load or two of mud out
of the house. In a few days they had the house so that it presented a
more cheerful aspect. Adapting themselves as best they could to the
circumstances, they lived nearly isolated from their kind through a long
and cheerless winter, being all alone, with the exception of two families
who had followed the work from Conover, and reached that place about
HISTORY or WINNESHIEK COUNfT. 145
two weeks before. The parties were Fred. Ganshorn and James Kinney^
who antedate Mr. Pike's claim to the title, " oldest inhabitant," by
about two or three weeks. They did not live within the limits of the
present village, however, but were about a hundred rods below. The
winter was unusually severe and protracted, the last passage of the snow
plow being on March 28, 1876, and that after a three days' effort from
The village of Ridgeway lies in Lincoln township, about midway
between Calmar and Cresco, on the line of the Chicago, Milwaukee and
St. Paul Railway. The place had neither pope, bishop nor priest at its
christening ; nor was it developed under patronage, but " growed," like
Topsy, under rather discouraging circumstances. Its horoscope was cast
by a class of jugghng peculators, whose interests centered in the railroad
towns on either side of it, and whose prophetic afflatus against the
place was further augmented by a few subsidized echoes in the employ
of the railroad company. In fact, so faithfully did misrepresentation do
its work for the first two years after the railroad was completed, that
hardly any one could be found with temerity or pluck enough to take
advantage of the inducements oftered in the natural capacities of the
place for a grain market. A settled indifference on the part of the rail-
road company, manifest in their inattention to their own interests here
up to that time, and for a year or two subsequent, grew out of the active
opposition of certain officials at an earlier day. It appears from the
records that Judge Noggle, attorney for the railroad company, who
secured the right of way through this region, bought the quarter section
upon which the village is now located, for S. S. Merrill, general manager
of the road, at first, but soon after secured it for himself, but failed to
divide as had been done at Conover and Cresco, hence the war. The
place remained for nearly a year after the road was completed to Cresco
without a single effort being put forth in the way of improvements, and
to J. L. Flowers, formerly of Fort Atkinson, belongs the honor of break-
ing the spell. Craving the force of an ill-boding prophecy, he came to
the. place in the month of July, 1867, and built a grain warehouse. The
ice being broken, he was soon followed by Gilchrist & Co., who built
another. Other parties of different professions and business came to
the place, and some, with some fear and trembling, began to build.
Dr. A. M. Blackman, who with W. H. Allen, of Beloit, Wis., had bought
the quarter section of Noggle about the time Flowers began to build,
came on in October and put up a large building for a drug store and
dwelhng. Allen, who meantime had established a lumber yard in the
14^ HISTORY or WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
the place, set a force at work about the same time on another large
building for a general merchandise store, which was soon completed and
filled by D. C. Monty, from Conover, for the winter trade. About the
same time Flowers built a small dwelling house for his family. Two or
three more were erected by other parties, and by the time winter set in
the place was fairly alive with business. The next year improvements
went on rapidly. Several more grain warehouses were put up, and the
activity in the grain trade at this place since has been perceptibly felt,
not only by the railroad towns on either side of it, but even in Decorah
Up to this time the railroad company had no building for the accom-
modation of either passengers or freight, but at a special meeting of the
stockholders, directors and principal officers of the company, in the
summer of 1867, a bill favoring the building of a depot at this place
was introduced, and alter considerable discussion, carried, and an appro-
priation of $257.75 voted for that purpose. The seventy-five cent was
not in the original appropriation, but was a contingent, specifically
for repairs on the platform alreany standing, a structure 50 feet in length,
18 inches high, and 4 feet 23^^ inches wide, built the year before for the
accommodation of the public, and which, from hard usage and constant
wear was iii a sadly dilapidated condition. In accordance with the de-
cision of the council, a force of carpenters, under the inspiration of the
$257, was set at work, and a depot built — an imposing structure, 16x24
feet base, and towering heavenward not quite enough to endanger the
language of the builders. The building when completed consisted of
one reception room for the traveling public, a ticket office, baggage room,
telegraph office, smoking room, and store room for general merchandise.
Whenever business was at flood tide, a vacant room, 7x12 feet, in the
hand car house, which was built double and stood near the depot, was
used as a store room for surplus merchandise, and sometimes the overplus
was shielded for a few days by the canopy of heaven. Seriously, the
whole institution as it stood, was a disgrace to the company, and a
pointed insult to its patrons and to the town. The platform from which
travelers had to enter the the cars, or to alight therefrom, if by chance
the train stopped opposite it, which did not always occur, as a means of
exit or entrance, was really dangerous to life and limb. I will give one
instance of the many that occurred here under the old regime, to show
the inconvenience and danger to which the traveling public were sub-
jected from insufficient accommodations. A lady, the wife of J. Mc-
Evoy, of Beloit, Wis., an invalid suffering from that baleful diseas^:
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 'I47
consumption, came through on the cars to this place early in March,
1869. The trip was undertaken under advice, as a change, it was
thought, might benefit her. The train stopped as usual, baggage and
express cars opposite the platform ; passenger coaches stretching way
back, with a ditch on either side, wherein passengers might alight if they
wished to stop. The invalid, with a child in charge, two years old,
attempted to get off, but the distance from the car step to the ditch was
so great that she failed on the first trial, and, as the bell rang at that
moment for a start, she caught the child in her arms, and in sheer des-
paration was about to jump from the train, when a lady who fortunately
happened to be passing at that moment, noticing her dilemma, came to
her aid. Taking the child from her arms she placed it on the bank, of
the ditch, and then helped the invalid down just as the train was starting.
In striving to reach the platform i some fifty feet away, she wet her feet;
a severe cold followed, attended with such unfavorable symptoms that it
was deemed advisable for her to return home the next week. Attended
by one of her sisters — there were two here at the time, whom she came
to see — she went back, and in about two weeks jthereafter, was laid in
Although the moral element has been steadily on the increase for a
few years, the place had been up to this time the theatre of a full aver-
age of disgraceful brawls, street fights, accidents, and fatalities conse-
quent upon the demands of the insatiate demon who presides over the
ruling evil — strong drink. The first serious case of probationary pen-
nance was a broken leg. The next victim, Lars Thompson, fell under
the rear car of a freight train that was backing in upon the side-track, at
10 o'clock at night, and had both legs cut or crushed off below the
knees. A few weeks later the chapter closed for the time in the death
of John Wholehan, who, under the influence of liquor, wandered from
the village a couple of miles up the railroad track, and was struck in
the breast by an engine coming down and instantly killed. The case of
Thompson, the first serious railroad accident at this place, threw the
town into considerable excitement, and while everybody was anxious,
and nobody willing to act the part of the Good Samaritan, C. Larsen, a
poor man, but one whose humanitarian principles were not warped or
chained by considerations of self-interest, came forward and offered his
home as an asylum for the sufferer. He was, accordingly, under the
directions of Dr. A. M. Blackman, who just then arrived upon the spot,
carried to Larsen's house, followed by an excited crowd, who immedi-
ately filled the room into which he was taken, clamoring to know if
i4^ HISTORY OP WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
there was any hope in the case. " You shall see," said the doctor,
throwing off his coat and rolling up his sleeves, at the same time drawr
ing a huge jack-knife from his pocket, a hint coupled with an admoni-
tory objurgation to the crowd (considerably varied from any form laid
down in the Sacred Canon) that sent them out of the room in a jiffy.
Having cleared the room, the doctor called to his assistance three or
four whose nerves were not altogether unstrung, and after explaining to
them in a few words the desperate nature of the case and the necessity
of immediate action, said he would undertake to amputate the man's
limbs and save his life, if they would but obey implicitly his directions.
The amputation was performed, the poor fellow's limbs dressed, and he
comfortably arranged on a couch. In about two months thereafter he
was "stumping " the town apparently unaffected morally by the chas-
tisement — one of those cases wherein the mercy of the Lord, signally
manifested in connection with the rod, would appear to be without
: About the time Flowers began to build his warehouse, Mr. S. Pike
sent in a petition to the Postmaster General containing the names of
nearly all the men in the township, for a postoffice — a petition that met
with prompt attention — and by the time business opened Ridgway had
a postoffice in running order, Mr. Pike receiving the appointment as
postmaster with a salary commensurate with its prospective business —
$12 per year. Though not only willing but anxious to serve the coun-
try, the new postmaster, after getting the machine in running order and
attending it a few weeks conjointly with Hank Garfield, who had been
appointed deputy, turned the business over to Louis Heinberg. Monty
failmg in business soon after, the postoffice was kept in the same build-
ing by Heinberg until fall, when Dr. George Bolles, of Decorah, who
in a brief visit to the place detected the inducements offered to capital,
bought it of Allen, and put in a good stock of goods. This occurred
in the fall of 1868. As the Doctor's store was the best place for the
office, Mr. Pike transferred it to him, and he held it during the fi^ve
years he remained in trade here. After building up a prosperous trade,
the Doctor sold out and went to California. J. L Ringstad, who bought
him out, succeeded to the postoffice, at which time the office was pay-
ing a respectable revenue. Ringstad was one of the chief sufferers by
the fire which swept the village with the besom of destruction the next
spring (1874) losing his store and nearly all his stock. His loss was,
however, pretty well covered by insurance, so that it did not fall so
heavy on him as some others.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 149
. Ridgway was organized into an independent school district during
the year 1875, since which time it may be said our scholars are advanc-
ing in their studies. It has a good school house, with an average
attendance of scholars during school terms ; but they are not well
advanced. Educational interests have always dragged here, but there
are hopeful indications of a more general effort in that direction in the
immediate future, for which the people of Ridgway may be thankful.
There is but one church edifice in town, and that a small wooden
structure built by a body of dissenters from the old established Luth-
eran Church among the Norwegians. This house is not completed,
and is seldom used. The Methodists and Adventists hold meetings in
the school house.
In the spring of 1874 (May 9) Ridgway was swept by a fire that
seemed for a time determined to wipe out the entire village. The fire
started m a small untenanted wooden structure on the corner where the
Herchmer House now stands. A continuous blast from the south swept
across the Square, taking everything in the line of the wind. The
weather had been very dry for some time previous, and the densely-
packed wooden row fronting the railroad was simply a line of tinder-
boxes through which the fire swept without let or hinderance, and one
hour from the time the alarm was given four-fifths of the business inter-
ests of the town were in ashes. The fire originated with two little boys,
4 years old, lighting a cigar in the house above mentioned. The fire
devoured everything in its course, including, besides the business row
and dwellings, four grain warehouses, the depot (unlamented) and a
fine water-tank, which the Railroad Company had just completed. The
entire loss could not, however, be reckoned in dollars and cents, as one
human life was sacrificed to the destroying element. Daniel Rice, a
saloon-keeper, who, in the excitement attending the awful holocust, had
been trying to check the flames and save his house, finding that all
must go, removed his horse and buggy from the barn to a place of
safety, and then, entering the saloon, took what money he had in the
drawer, together wilh a small tin box containing notes, other papers,
and about $200 in money, and rushed out with them just as the fire
swooped down upon his house. Passing through his barn, which stood
about thirty feet from the rear end of the saloon, he crossed to the
other street and threw the box into his buggy. Just then he remem-
bered a package of $700 in greenbacks which he had stowed away in a
little snuggery back of his money drawer but a few days before. He
«50 HISTORY OP WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
hastened back to the house, which was then in flames, as well as his
bsrn. As he passed through the barn the fire struck him, but, thinking
only of his money, he crossed the yard to the rear door of the house.
But the flames barred his entrance. Reluctantly he turned back, pressed
his way through the burning barn, and was discovered as he emerged
from it, his clothes all on fire. A party of men were guarding Gulbran-
son's harness shop at the time, and one of them, with a bucket of
water, hastened to extinguish the fire. But it was too late to save him.
He had inhaled the fiery blast, and, as the event proved, was beyond
hope. He passed into David Dorn's house, and was followed by Mr.
Pike a few moments after. S. Pike cut the shirts, two heavy cotton
ones, from his back, which was severely burned, as were his arms, from
which the sleeves hung in fragments. Not much concern was mani-
fested toward the unfortunate man, as it was supposed that he had not
inhaled the flimes, and would recover. When Dr. Blackman arrived in
town about an hour later, however, the case appeared more serious.
The Doctor found his lips and spots on his face literally cooked, and
said he had undoubtedly drawn the flames into his lungs, a statement
verified next morning, when it was apparent exudation had commenced.
No reaction took place from the first, and he died at 9 o'clock on the
morning of the nth. The loss of property was very severe. The
total number of buildings — stores, saloons, dwellings and barns — burned,
were thirty- four, leaving fifty-nine unburned— the latter being almost
wholly dwellings and outbuildings. A careful estimate of the total
losses incurred amounted to $48,730, of which amount only $11,850
was covered by insurance.
Immediately after the fire the Railroad Company set to work build-
ing a depot. The structure, when finished, presented a striking con-
trast to the old one destroyed by fire. Instead of the narrow and
cramped accommodations of the old trap dignified by the name, they
have now ample room for every department of their business. The
water-tank was also rebuilt, and with one of the best wells on the road,
is an important adjunct in the management of its rolling stock.
To-day the village has completely recovered from the severe losses it
sustained by the fire. Its business interests have continued to increase,
and, as a result, larger and better business buildings serve the accom-
modations of trade.
The pressure of hard times is very sensibly felt in every branch of
business ; but in a young town like this, of strong and vigorous growth,
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
its interests are too firmly interwoven with the general weal of the coun-
try around, to suffer any lasting depression from this cause. With the
retrenchment and reform " forced upon its citizens by dire necessity "
from the failure of crops and other causes, they are made familiar with
economy in its strictest sense, and will, in common with others, profit
152 HISTORV of WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Among the settlers who came to the county in 185 1 were the follow-
ing persons :
E. C. Dunning and wife, Decorah.
E. E. Clement, Springfield.
D. D. Huff and wife, Hesper.
Peter E. Haugen, Decorah.
Simeon M. Leach and wife, Canoe.
A. V. Anderson and wife, Decorah.
Toikel Hanson and wife, Decorah.
Christopher Evans, Glenwood.
Iver G. Ringstadt and wife, Madison.
Herbrand Onstine, Madison.
Helge Nelson, Myran, Madison.
Ole M. Asleson and wife, Madison.
Ole Kittleson and wife, Decorah.
William Birdsall and wife, Frankville.
Gulbrand T. Lommen, Decorah.
Gulbrand Erickson, Wig, Madison.
Philip Husted, Frankville.
W. L. Iverson, Pleasant.
Isaac Birdsall, Frankville.
Ole Tolefson, Wig, and wife, Decorah.
George V. Puntey, Burr Oak.
A. K. Drake, Decorah.
Erick Olsen, Bakke, and wife, Frankville.
Nathan Drake, Glenwood.
Rolland Tobiason and wife, Decorah.
The following persons settled in Winneshiek County during the year
Andrew Sheets and wife, Decorah Township.
Silas B. Irvin and wife, Burr Oak.
E, L. Reynolds, Decorah.
B. F. Giles, Canoe.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY. 1 53
Nelson Burdick and wife, Decorah Township.
Lucy P. Fannon, Decorah.
Austid Guneson and wife, Lincoln.
Elling Olsen and wife, Frankville.
Hans Gilbertson, Mellaas, Bluffton.
Alonzo Bradish and wife, Decorah.
L. S. Pederson and wife. Pleasant.
Gulbrand Gulbrandson and wife, Springfield.
Peter Sampson and wife. Pleasant.
Leonard Cutler and wife, Frankville.
Leonard Cutler, Jr., Frankville.
James Lennon, Madison.
William Beard and wife, Frankville .
Charles L. Child and wife, Decorah.
K. Kendsen, ,
J. J. Running, Springfield.
William M. Fannon and wife, Decorah.
In 1853 the following persons took up their permanent settlement in
the county :
Henry Kniss, Glenwood.
Martin N. Rotner, Canoe.
Amos Smith and wife, Canoe.
Hiram Manning and Wife, Burr Oak.
Erick G. Egge and wife, Madison.
A. Vance and wife, Bloomfield.
Svend Olsen, Bedne, and wife, Pleasant.
Lewis L. Cook and wife, Glenwood.
Ole O. Rovang, Springfield.
Alexander McKay, Decorah.
James Tyler and wife, Canoe.
John Lennon, Decorah.
Knud Knudson, Sr., Madison.
Knud Knudson, Madison.
John Van Pelt, Decorah.
H. Henterman and wife, Decorah.
Frank C. Lennon, Frankville.
Ole P. Rocksvold, Glenwood.
O. C. Hanson, .
54 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
In the year 1854 the following persons were added to the list of old
John Frederick Thilig and wife, Decorah.
Francis Tucker and wife, Decorah.
David C. Bacon, Decorah.
O. Blanchard, Canoe.
Jacob Rotner and wife, Canoe.
Simon Hanson and Mfe, Glenwood.
B. O. Dahly and wife, Decorah.
S. O. Wilson and wife, Decorah.
C. R. Pike and wife, Hesper. »
John Ammon and wife, Decorah.
Edward R. Scott and wife, Madison.
Ole Anfinson, Tvedt, and wife. Pleasant.
Even Thj^keson and wife, Springfield.
David P. West and wife, Canoe.
Knut Thompson, Pleasant.
Gettorm Allen and wife, Decorah.
Lewis William Beard, born in Frankville.
Ira Bloomfield, Decorah.
Peter Erichstad, Glenwood.
George C. Winship and wife, Glenv.ood.
E. E. Cooley and wife, Decorah.
G. W. Oxley and wife, Bloomfield. *
Lysander Bowman and wife, Hesper.
George Merrill and wife, Decorah.
William Fineld and wife, Fremont.
J. Henderson, .
Truls A. Edger, .
Thore Bolson, .
A. C. Hitchcock, Fremont.
A. Richardson, .
The year 1855 saw the following names added to the list of old
Halsten Nelson, Springfield.
William Drew and wife, Glenwood.
H. S. Tucker and wife. Canoe.
John Meagher, Decorah.
Cyrus Williams and wife, Frankville.
HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
Phillip Pfister and wife, Pleasant.
Samuel Wise and wife, Pleasant.
William Glover and wife, Canoe.
Gilbert O. Rusted and wife, Decorah.
Henry Adams and wife, Decorah.
Thomas Eckart and wife, Decorah.
D. N. Hawley and wife, Decorah.
M. R. Bentley, Jr., Madison.
J. C. Spencer and wife, Decorah.
John Greer, Decorah.
William Putney, Canoe.
Norris Miller, Decorah.
C. E Dickerman, Decorah.
Amos J. McKay and wife, Decorah.
John D. Kelley and wife, Decorah.
W. G. Sawyer and wife, Decorah.
Fletcher Brittain and wife, Hesper.
John Steffes and wife, Washington.
James Gorean, Decorah.
Pell M. Smith, Decorah.
Peter Knudsen, Madison.
Joseph McMahon and wife, Decorah.
George D. Draper and wife, Decorah.
C. Fred Hiller, Decorah.
Edwin M. Farnsworth, Orleans.
Michael Womeldorf, Pleasant.
John Beadle and wife, Bloomfield.
B. T. Barfoot and wife, Decorah.
John Finn, Decorah.
W. B. Updegraff, Decorah.
C. B. Fingerson and wife. Burr Oak.
John M. Akers and wife, Decorah.
Leonard Standring, Decorah.
Patrick Roney, Decorah.
James Drew and wife, Glenwood.
Albert M. McKay, Decorah.
Gates M. Forbes and wife, Decorah.
Jacob Ammer, Decorah.
James P. McKinnie, Washington.
Patrick Flemming, .
156 HISTORY OF WINNESHIEK COUNTY.
George Yarwood, Calmar.
M. H. Howard, Orleans.
James Bucknell, Decorah.
W. H. Bently, Bluffton.
John Henderson, .
Martin Botsford, Canoe.
George W. Adams, Decorah.
J. Nelson, .
William Pake, —
Ole P. Tenold, -
The following persons became residents of the county during the year
1856, and with this year properly ends the credit of being an old
settler. The names that appear here are but a partial list of the settlers
that made homes in the county during these first years of its history :
Charles G. Howard, Decorah.
C. N. Goddard, Decorah.
Henry Heivly and wife, Decorah.
William C. Adsit, Decorah.
Jeddidiah Miller and wife. Canoe.
Mary A. Simpson, Decorah.
Edward Riley and wife, Decorah.
Fred B. Landers and wife, Decorah.
A. G. Seavey and wife, Decorah.
P. F. Brown and wife, Decorah.
J. H. Womeldorf and wife, Decorah. •
Ogden Casterton, Highland.
Emilius I. Weiser, Decorah.
James F. Simpson, Decorah.
Silas Dayton and wife, Decorah.
Delilah C. Reed and husband, Decorah.
Andrew Gulikson, Decorah.
Gilbert GuUikson, Decorah.
Robert Bucknell and wife, Bluffton.
Thomas N. Wilson and wife, Hesper.
Gunder Helgeson, Madison.
Thomas Dolan and wife, Madison.
Martha A, Simpson, Decorah.
John Dinger and wife, Canoe.
Cyrus McKay and wife, Decorah.
Thomas O'Brien and wife, Glenwood.
R. W. Kirkland, Decorah.
L. H. Talber, Hesper.
R. F. Shear, Canoe. *
James Striner, Decorah.
A. O. Lommen, born in Springfield.
To tht Farmers of Winneshiek and Adjoining Counties:
Having established ourselves in the business of selling FARMING MA-
CHINER Y at this point, we are desirous of calling the attention of the farming
community to our list of machines, which we have found, after an experience of nine
years in the business, to be the besi adapted to the wants of the farmers in Northern
Iowa and Southern Minnesota ot any manufactured in the United States; and we pro-
pose selling them to you at prices within the reach of all.
When you want anything in our line, give us a call, and if we can't suit you with
Goods and Prices, tell us why, and we will try again.
Here is our List of Machines for the Season of 1877;
Buckeye Mo\Ter and Reaper— Combined
Buckeye \A%\kX, Mo^ver.
Warrior MoiTer, 4 feet 3 inclies, and 4 feet 7 incbes Cut.
Empire State Mou'er.
Seymour Mower. Triumpli Reaper,
I¥ei¥ Manny Reaper— Combined. Economist Reaper. 6 ft. ct.
Roberts. Thorp Sl Co. Tibrating- Tliresber.
Minnesota Cbief Tlireslier.
Garr, Scott & Co.'s Indiana Tlireslier. Garr, Scott &
Co. Tliresliin§r Eng-ines.
Tandiver & Quincy Corn Planters
Cballeng-e Corn Planter.
Standard Riding Corn Cultivator.
Badger Riding Corn Cultivator. Eagle Riding and
^Valking Cultivator. Eagle Walking Cultivator.
Dexter Walking Cultivator.
Eagle Reversible Steel Tootli Ilarroiv— 72 teeth.
40 and €0 Teeth Scotch Harrow.
Randall's Pulverizing Harro^v. Tictor Self-Dump Rake.
Star Hand-Dump Rake.
The Hart & ]\'orton Fanning Mill.
REMEMBER ! That every article in the above list is strictly FIRST
CLASS, and fully warranted by the manufacturers and by us ; and as
we are not paying a lot of agents to bore you to death, you will save
their salaries by buying from us.
Remember that we Sell only the Best Machines and Challenge Competition.
Office and Warerooms, Opposite Ammon, Scott «& Co.'s Machine
Shops, Water Street, Decorah, Iowa.
PAULK ifc COMSTOCK.
The Very Best Route
cmcieo, NEW i oek
Ne-w England, the Canadas,
It is the only Northwestern Line connecting in the same Depot in Chicago, with
any of the great Eastern or Southern Lines, and is the most conveniently located
with reference to reaching any depot, hotel or place of business in that city.
Minneapolis Depot, corner Third Street and Washington Avenue, South ; City
Office, Nicollet House.
St. Paul Depot, corner Jackson Street and Levee ; City Office, ii8 East Third St.
Winona Depot, head of Center Street, on Mark Street ; City Office, corner Center
and Third Streets.
La Crosse Depot, on Vine Street and Levee.
Tlie only TUroug^b JLine betff-cen Minneapolis, St. Paul^
l¥inona, LaCrosse, Sparta, Slii^vaukee
jgi^* Palace Sleeping Cars and Day Coaches, with Westinghouse's Improved
Automatic Air Brake, on all trains.
A. V. H. CARPENTER,
Gen. Pass, and Ticket Agent.
S. S. MERRILL, J NO. C. OAULT,
General Manager. Ass't General Alaaagei.
John Ammon, President.
Geo. W. Scott, Secretary.
AMMOM* iCOTT ^ €0
Founders @ Machinists,
ESTABLISHED, 1853. INCORPORATED, 1870.
Capacity, ^100,000 Barrels
SsUbllsbed 1133. lacoiporatel 1870.
Pioneer Drug Store.
E, I, Weieer. Bmiiiet
AND DEALER IN
Drugs, Medicines, Perfumery, Toilet Soaps, Brushes,
Pocket Cutlery, Pocket Books, Trusses, Shoulder
Braces, Wall Paper^
School Books, Slates, Blank Books, Stationery.
Paints, Oils, Putty, Varnish, Benzine, Kerosene,
Turpentine, Tar and Wa<?on Orease,
LAMPS, LANTERITS, SHALES, &L0BES AND LAMP CHIMNEYS,
And all Articles Kept in a First-class Drug Store.
Prescriptions Compounded with Care at all Hours ^ Day or Night.
r^Farmers, Physicians and Country Merchants will, at all times find my Stock
COMPLETE, and of the BEST QUALITY, and will be sold as LOW FOR
CASH as by any similar establishment in the County.
Siore First Door East of Winneshiek County Bank,
Water Street, Decorah.
H. B. Georg-e, I^r^op., Ossian, Iowa.
This Hotsl is conveniently located near the Depot.
G. L. FAUST,
Bw #i' w« '-^^ .^
W. H. VALLEAU, Prop'r.
The Winneshiek House has been re-built, and is the best furnished
hotel in the city, and under the stewardship of W. H. Valleau, ofters
superior accommodations to the traveling public.
PIANOS @ OKGANS
Of first-class manufacture, in variety of style and price. Dealing largely
with manufacturers, enables us to give the lowest prices, and most fav-
orable terms as to time payments. Every instrument fully warranted and
satisfaction guaranteed. Sheet Music and Books, Piano Covers and
Stools on hand.
A. A. AIKEN.
:!D^^i>i^al;^ tifiuni^mt A^a^^m^^
The best of facilities are here offered for obtaining a musical educa-
tion at much less expense than in the larger cities.
Dealers in Staple and Fancy
Dry Coods, Clothing,
H'ts> Caps, Boots, Shoes. Groceries, ic,
For CASH. All Goods are Sold at
LOWEST PRICES HERE.
Water St., Decorah^ Iowa»
Moses Creer, Jr.,
FINE WATCHES, CLOCKS,
Silver and Silver Plated Ware.
Violins, Accordeons, Spectacles.
All Kinds of Sewing Machine Attachments, Needles,
Jewelry Repairing Neatly Done and Warranted.
BANKING HOUS£ OF
S. W. MATTESON,
BANK OF DISCOUNT AND DEFOSIT.
Receives Time Deposits. Certificates of Deposit Issued Bearing Interest.
Collections Made. Gold Exchange^ Notes ^ Mortgages and Com-
mercial Paper i?t General, Bought.
Collateral Loans and Commercial Paper form the leading feature of the business.
3,000 acres of Land, (wild, improved and timber land,) in Winneshiek County, for
sale. Also, lOO town lots in Deporah.
©« W. GMAWM
— GENERAL AGENT FOR —
C.H.&L. J. Mccormick
Is now so near perfection that any farmer wishing to purchase a ma-
chine of its style, if he will but make an examination of it for himself,
will readily see its merit. We claim for it over all others, that of strength^
durability J and lightJiess of draft, and its perfect working in all its several
parts. We challenge the world to produce even its equal, let alone its
Our Improved Advance.
'The Advance is a combined machine in the strictest sense of the
word, having two bars of entirely different construction, one perfectly
adapted to mowing, and the other to reaping, thus making two distinct
machines combined in one, at a cost very little above that of a separate
The Improved Prize Mower
Is a two-wheeled machine with jointed bar, and cuts a swath four feet in
width. // cuts equally well on rough or smooth ground , and in thick,
matted grass or clover, as well as in thin light stuff. The draft is light,
and being made of the best materials, it is very durable.
A. W. ADAMS,
Pioneer Photographer and Artist.
Artistic Work, of All Kinds, of Superior Excellence, Unequalled Else-
where in the City, Guaranteed.
Corner of "Water and. "Winnelsagro Streets, - - Decorah, Zo^ra,
"^ ~ O. J. CLARK,
Attorney and Counselor at Lai^«
COLLECTIOJVS PROMPTLY MADE.
Office on 'Winnebago Street, - - - Decorali, Iowa.
MXmmj iii Coiaiilfeif at Law
OfJiGe Over Winneshieh County Banh,
Established, A. D. 1854.
REFERENCES the BEST.
~ L. McCONN,
Office Over Gullickson's Hardware Store,
I would say to all persons who may need Artificial Dentures, or Dental
Work in any of the departments of my Profession, that I am permanently
located in Decorah, and am now thoroughly fitted and prepared to
perform any and all dental operations in the most scientific and complete
style of the profession.
M. L. McCONN.
Pianos and Organs
WHOLESALE AND RETAIL.
W. W, KIMB AIjIj
State and Adams Sts., Chicago, 111.
The Largest Music House on tlie Continent.
.Innuai Sales JVearly $2,000,000.
My Stock Consists of a Full Supply of the following Makes :
Hallett, Davis & Co., W. P. Emerson, W. W. Kim-
ball, and J. P. Hale's
Smith American, W. W. Kimball, and Shoninger
German and American Professors and Composers of Music pronounce
the Hallett & Davis Piano the Leading instrument of the world. Twenty-
seven thousand now in use, and making as many of the best homes in
America happy. One hundred and fifty First Premiums awarded for its
superior tone and finish.
Smith American Organs
Show 155 First Premiums awarded for Best Organs. Seventy-nine thou-
sand now in daily use.
Parties wishing to buy on time can do so by calling on my local
For further particulars address,
Superintendent of Agencies,
207 !$tate St., €liica?o< III.
B. O. DAHLY'S
^m^ormm of Jfasljioii
HOW IT LOOKS TO A STRANGER.
Chief among the commendable enterprises, of which the city boasts,
and of which we wish to make especial mention, is B. O. Dahly's
Wholesale and Retail Emporium of Fashion.
We make particular mention' of this establishment for several reasons.
First, because it is everything its name implies. Secondly, because it is
incomparable in its elegance to any similar house west of the Metropo-
litan cities of the East. And thirdly, because it is directed exclusively
to the sale and manufacture of Ladies' wearing apparel.
B. O. Dahly's Emporium of Fashion is one of the peculiar features
of Decorah. Here we find a truly palatial " Emporium of Fashion,"
filled with a stock of the richest and most fashionable dress and millinery
goods, embracing a bulk and variety that would do credit to the best
houses of its kind in Chicago or St. Louis. It is the largest depot of
ladies' fashionable goods west of Chicago, and has a trade that is truly
wonderful. Only a man of such exquisite taste and indomitable energy
as Mr. Dahly could succeed in carrying such a large and rich assort-
ment of goods in an interior location, and even he would not venture it
in a less wealthy, cultivated and go ahead city than Decorah. But his
trade is not confined to Decorah and Winnesheik County. The fame of
his establishment has spread throughout all Northern Iowa and Southern
Minnesota, and the knowledge, that he makes a specialty of manufac-
turing ladies' clothing, of all descriptions, in the most complete and
fashionable manner, secures for him the custom of ladies of wealth and
culture, from a very extensive region. His cloak department is special-
ly popular with the ladies of Northern Iowa. — Central West, Milwau-
1862. HEADQUARTERS is??.
— FOR —
Buy ONLY the BEST 3Iachines, and BUY of a
J. J. MARSH,
Offers for the season of 1877, the following line of im-
plements, each of which is known as the very
best of its class :
Marsh Self-Binder, J, I. Case Threshers,
Marsh Harvesters, HolHngsworth Sulky Rake,
Champion 6 ft. Reaper, Tiger self-dump Rake,
Champion Light Mower, Furst & Bradley Hay Rake.
Wood's Iron Mower, Gorham Riding Cultivator,
Superior Seeder and Drills, Parlin Corn Cultivator,
McSherry Broadcast Seeder, Garden City Cultivator,
Watertown Spring Wagon, Brown Corn Planter,
The Studdebaker Wagon, Union Corn Planter.
Foust Hay- Loader, Scotch Drag, 40 teeth,
Mishawauka Feed Mill, Clipper Iron Beam Plow,
Woolridge Field Roller, The Diamond Plow,
Hollow. tooth Drag, 72 teeth. Breaking Plows, &c., &c.
Call at the headquarters before you buy! I keep only
the best Machines, and give my personal guarantee on
everything I sell.