History of Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties
Lybrand.--The first platted town in the county, was founded by Jacob Lybrand, who came from West Union in the spring of 1850 or 1851. It is located on section 15, Post Township, and was platted May 3, 1851, from a survey made April 1st by S. P. Hicks, Deputy county Surveyor. Hiram Jones and Jacob Lybrand were the owners of the land, and their acknowledgment was taken before Elias Topliff, Justice of the Peace. Being on the main traveled road between McGregor's Landing and Decorah, it soon became a place of considerable importance for those days. Mr. Lybrand opened a store, and a post office was established there in 1851, but was discontinued a few years later. The old "double trail" to the Indian "Decorah village" ran through this settlement from "Hickory Creek" at Hardin, and crossed the Yellow River at what was called "the dry sink," from near which one of the mainly traveled branches diverged towards the north, passing west of Waukon and extending to two Indian villages in the Iowa valley near the mouth of French Creek. Mr. Lybrand was a bachelor, of somewhat eccentric habits, and was widely known as a remarkably honest and conscientious man. He remained here a few years when he removed to Minnesota and located a town, which he named St. Nicholas, on Lake Albert Lea. The town of Albert Lea got the start of his place, however, for county seat, and he went to Alexandria, that state, from which he was driven by the Indian outbreak of 1862, and returned to Allamakee and Fayette counties for a couple of years. Again going to Minnesota, he located the town of Red Wood Falls, but finally returned to Alexandria, where he died Jan. 21, 1875, upwards of seventy years of age.
Lansing--Was the second village surveyed and platted, in 1851, John Haney and Horace H. Houghton proprietors. The records declare that the plat was filed Jan 7, 1852, and acknowledged not until Dec. 30, 1852, but this is generally conceded to be an error, and that the latter date should be 51.
Winfield--This name passed out of existence about the year '60, it being changed to Harper's Ferry, by an act of the Legislature. It was platted May 8, 1852, by Wm. H. Hall and Dresden W. H. Howard, before W. F. Ross, Justice of the Peace. This was one of the places voted on for county seat in 1851, under the name of Vailsville. At one time it promised to become a place of no little importance, a secondary channel of the Mississippi, or large slough--Harpers' Slough--Permitting large steamers to land there except in very low water. The site is one of the finest along the river, being a level plateau above the high water mark, extending back nearly a mile to the foot of the bluffs and three miles up and down the river. It is still a good village, to-day, with a population of about a hundred and fifty.
Waukon--the county, as the county seat--which it is today, filed the original town plat for record December 3, 1853.
Columbus--The next in order, was also formerly an important town in prospective, and enjoyed the distinction of being the county seat about two years, from 1851 to 1853. A few little old buildings, out of repair, comprise all that remains of its original glory. Its location is on the south side of the mouth of Village Creek, and there is but little room for a town. It is sometimes called Capoli. Leonard B. Hodges, Thomas B. Twiford, and Aaron Chesebro, had it surveyed and platted June 30, 1852. Elias Topliff also had a proprietary interest in the place at one time. North Capoli is on the north of the creek and adjoins South Lansing. It was platted April 16, 1860, by Elias Topliff and J. M. Rose, "Trustees of the Columbus Land Company No. 1." Twiford and Jones, Alex McGregor, and others of McGregor's Landing, we believe, were the original locators of this village site and landing. L. B. Hodges and a man by name of Carpenter opened a land office here at an early day. Hodges is now (or was recently) Commissioner of Forestry of the State of Minnesota, and has also, we believe, had charge of the setting out of trees along the line of the Northern Pacific railroad. Twiford went to Minnesota, where he located and laid out the town of Chatfield, and became quite well to do, but lost his wealth in the crisis of 1857, and is now in Kansas.
Hardin--Is located (the original plat) partly in this county and partly in Clayton. The owners at the time of platting--January 9, 1854--were Leonard B. Hodges, in Allamakee, and Joseph and Almirah Collins, over the line. This was a point of some note for a number of years prior to this date, it being one of the four post offices in Allamakee County in 1851, the others being Postville, Lansing and Tom Corwin (later Johnsonsport). The postmaster at that date was L. B. Hodges. Additions were platted in 1856, Hardin Center; in 1857, East Hardin, and in 1859; but were mostly vacated, and the village is no larger now than thirty years ago. There was at one time a large steam gristmill here, located on the Clayton side of the line.
Smithfield.--N. W. 1/4, Sec. 24, in Franklin township. Platted February 11, 1854; acknowledged before John R. Wilson, J.P., by Wm. M. and Sarah Smith, and Austin and Harriet Smith. This is the site of one of the many excellent mills along the course of Yellow River.
Postville.--Was not platted until June 1, 1853, although its settlement dates from 1841, as before stated. The Proprietors of the town plat were Mrs. Zeruiah and George S. Hayward.
Milton.--On Section 18, Lafayette township, was laid out by Jesse M. Rose, December 7, 1854. He it was who here built the first flouring mill in the county, in 1853. Afterwards, in March, 1857, Mr. Rose had another tract of land, lying to the east of Milton, divided into lots and blocks, and named it after the stream -- Village Creek. In the latter year, also, September 7, Eldridge and Marilda Howard (Mr. Howard was a Methodist divine) platted a tract of land adjoining the original town plat of Milton on the north, and called it Howard Center. All three surveys are now spoken of as one town, Village Creek, which was the name of the post office when established there about 1857. An effort was made to have it called Milton, but there was already an office of that name in the State. Hon. L. E. Fellows, now of Lansing was the first postmaster. Its population in 1880 was only 167, but it is an important manufacturing community, possessing several flouring mills and a woolen mill, which will be alluded to under the head of manufactures.
Ion. --In Linton township, was surveyed and platted by D. W. Adams, January 1, 1855, for Sewall Goodridge, Chas. W. Cutter and Abram J. Kennison. Population in 1880 was fifty-five. This place was sometimes called Bunker Hill.
Rossville. --The first settlement here was made in 1850 or 1851 by Wm. F. Ross. It was laid out May 31, 1855, by David and Catherine E. Skinner, Wm. F. And Sarah I. Ross, Elias and Mary A. Hatfield, in accordance with survey made by Joel Dayton, county surveyor, May 15, and acknowledged before Jackson Mitchell, J. P. This village was at one time an aspirant for county seat honors, but failing therin its prospects were blighted. A steam sawmill was among its notable features in the early days. There are now three church buildings--Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist, --a good schoolhouse, hotel, and two stores.
Volney--On the eastern line of Franklin Township was laid out by Samuel and Margaret Biggs, February 12th, 1856, in accordance with a survey made the previous October. Thos. Crawford, J.P., took the acknowledgment. We have not been able to ascertain the date of its first settlement. The Volney flouring mills have always been among the best in the county. Population in 1880, 93.
Cleveland.--In the extreme southeastern corner of Post township, is one of the places that existed only in prospective, though the land was laid out in town lots March 3, 1856, by James M. and Marie Ann Arnold, who settled there about 1850, or 51. It is near Reuben Smith's location of 49. John Laughlin was the Justice before whom they acknowledged.
Johnsonsport --At the mouth of Paint Creek, was the earliest steamboat landing in the county and is supposed to be the place of the first permanent settlement outside of the Old Mission, the circumstances of which have been related in another place. Of course it was an important point in the early days, though but few houses were ever erected there. In 1851 there was a postoffice at this point called "Tom Corwin," with Armstrong Glover as postmaster. It was laid out as a town April 3, 1856, by Henry and Mary Johnson, Armstrong and Emily Glover, Geo. L. and Ann Miller. Wm. F. and S. I. Ross, Michael and Mary Clark, and M. Rafter. Geo. L. Miller, J.P. This was on the N. Fr " of section 15, Fairview township, and was surveyed by Joel Dayton, County surveyor.
Allamakee --Lay to the north of and adjoining Johnsonsport, on fractions 5 and 6, section 10, and was platted in February, 1858, by Wm. W. Hungerford, County Surveyor. The later post office of Allamakee was some two miles further down the river. After the settlement of Lansing, Columbus and Harper's Ferry, this point dwindled into insignificance, and with the exception of a time when it was brought to notice as the river end of the mythical Prairie du Chien and Mankato Railroad, remained in that condition until the construction of the Waukon and Mississippi Railroad, in 1877, again brought it into prominence, but its original names are now lost in the post office of "Waukon Junction."
Nezekaw --Is one of those mythical towns whose very site is utterly unknown to a majority of our inhabitants, and whose name is almost forgotten except when discovered on the map. It existed (only on paper) to the south of the mouth of the Yellow River, on fractions 3 and 4, section 34, Fairview Township. It was laid out December 12, 1856, by Chester N. Case, I. N. Bull, Lawrence Case, F. I. Miller, H. L. Dousman, B. W. Brisbois, Preston Ledwick, and F. C. Miller.
Chantry --Is another of the old town sites that have almost faded from the memory of all except those who are familiar with the records. It was laid out by Augustus French, Aug. 24, 1857, on the northeast fraction of section 12, Lafayette Township, five or six miles below Lansing, and doubtless had hopes of one time becoming a useful and perhaps important river point.
Alton --Is still another of the hopeful young villages of the fifties, which are nearly forgotten. Its situation was in the Iowa valley, on section 1 in French Creek Township, near the mouth of the stream of that name. It was platted Jan. 5, 1858, by W. W. and Nancy Woodmansee.
Buckland --Is the site of Buckland Mills, and is located on the Yellow River, very near the center of Linton Township. Laid out April 28, 1858, by Austin and Harriet L. Smith, John and Lucy Davis, and Asa and Cordelia Candee; acknowledged before James H. Stafford, J. P. The town plat was vacated May 10th, 1881.
Manchester --Is known as Manchester Mills, in the northwest corner of Franklin Township, on the south half, northwest quarter, southwest quarter section 6, and is so near to Cleveland that the names are used interchangeably. The plat bears date of May 10, 1859; surveyed by Joel Dayton in 56; and is acknowledged by Peter M. and Judith Gilson, before Trumbull Granger, Justice of the Peace.
New Albin --The youngest town in the county, had a population in 1880 of 423. Its location, on the banks of a large slough just south of the Minnesota State line, is well adapted for a large town, being high and level ground, and only its distance from the main channel of the river prevented its becoming such, as it has a large section of fertile farming and dairy lands, through the northern portion of the county, naturally tributary to its market. It owes its origin the building of the Dubuque & Minnesota Railroad, in 1872, being laid off into blocks and lots in November of that year by J. A. Rhomberg, J. K. Graves, S. H. Kinne, Hily Ross, and administratrix of John Ross.
The New Albin Herald, a six-column folio sheet, was established about June 1st, 1873, by Dr. J. I. Taylor, who placed his son, James E. Taylor, in immediate charge of it as a publisher. The following year it was discontinued, and the Spectator, an eight page paper, was established by E. S. Kilbourne, who continued its publication until May 1879, when he removed his office material to a new town in the West.
Myron. --Is situated on the Yellow river, in Post Township, near the north line, and dates its platted existence only from May 8, 1873, although it is an old-time settlement and far more titled to be styled a village than many of the mythical towns so called. It has possessed a large and excellent flouring mill for many years; also a store, post office, blacksmith shop, etc.
Lafayette--Was a settlement on the river, in the township of that name, a short distance above Chantry. The first comer was on Gordon, in 1850. It was a good boat landing, and at one time possessed two stores and a large steam saw-mil; but if the land was laid off into lots it was never platted. In 1857 the saw-mill was changed to a grist-mill by Kinyon & Amsden , and in 1859, we believe, was called Foot's Mills. At this date no settlement to amount to anything exists there.
Paint Rock --Was another river point that "was to be," on Harper's Channel, in Fairview township, section 3, near the Taylor line. At an early day (probably in 1850) Wm. H. Morrison, at one time School Fund Commissioner, brought a small stock of goods and the inevitable barrel of whisky to this point, where he built a small house and started a store. His building has disappeared, and there is but one house there at this time. Mr. Morrison afterward went to California, where he died insane.
Waterville. --A thriving village of 75 or 100 inhabitants, on Paint Creek, fourteen miles from Waukon and nine from the river. The first settlements in the neighborhood were made in 1850. In 1854 the Waterville mill was erected by Nathaniel Beebe, and the same year Col. J. Spooner came and bought land, and the following winter or spring purchased a part interest in the mill, which was then completed and put into operation. Col. Spooner returned to the East in the fall of 1854, but in May 1855, came on again with a stock of goods and started a store, in which he was joined by Daniel P. Carpenter. In 1856 James Beebe built a large frame hotel, the outlook at that time being very promising for the future growth of the place, possessing, as it does, three of as good water-powers as can be found anywhere in the valley. Here was organized the old "Prairie du Chien & Mankato Railroad Company." After the collapse of this enterprise the many natural advantages of this village site were lost sight of, until its growth was renewed upon the construction of the W. & M. Railroad in 1877, since when there have been several substantial stores and a grain warehouse erected, and it is now a live little market town, the only railroad station between Waukon and the Junction. Although laid off into lots and streets at an early day, it has never been platted.
New Galena. --The old village of this name was situated on the north side of the Iowa River, in Hanover Township, at the mouth of Waterloo Creek, and nearly opposite the mouth of Mineral Creek, which comes in from the south, through what was at one time supposed to be a rich lead region; hence the name of the creek and settlement. The land in which it was situated was bought of the government by Peter Lander, July 1, 1852, who sold it to Phineas Weston, of South Bend, Ind., June 22, 1853. In 1856 one A. C. Tichenor discovered what he supposed to be paying quantities of lead, in the valley of Mineral Creek, and not having sufficient means of his own to carry out his plans, went to New York City to get men of capital interested, stopping in Indiana to see Phineas Weston, the owner of the land, with whom it is supposed he made satisfactory arrangements for opening a mine. In New York he succeeded almost immediately in interesting one Jas. T. Moulton, who laid the matter before another party of some means, Aug. F. Lee, and together they proceeded to act in the matter. Mr. Lee came on with Tichenor, looked over the ground, procured specimens of the ore and had it tested, and everything proving satisfactory Moulton and his son Arthur came on with all the necessary materials and laborers and proceeded to erect buildings. Among others, they built a large store, which was filled with a huge stock of goods purchased in New York by F. M. Clark, who had accompanied Tichenor east for that purpose, and who clerked for Moulton & Lee until the following January. At one time the company had as many as a hundred men in their employ. The village site was laid off into lots and streets, and some of the lots were sold at good round prices; but it was never platted. The village at its best comprised some eight or ten houses, but they have disappeared, and at this time the land where the town stood is one of the best farms in the Iowa valley, and owned by Levi Green, who purchased it from the creditors of the lead mining company. Some of the buildings were moved off, and others left to fall to pieces. Among the latter was a large stone barn, which stood until a couple of years ago or so, a monument of the New Galena folly.
But to return to the mining operations. The company penetrated the side of the bluffs on Mineral Creek and took out ore in such quantities that they felt warranted in erecting a smelting furnace, which was done some fifteen rods south of the bridge which was built at a later day, and smelted a considerable quantity of ore--how much we cannot tell--but it did not pay. The ore was mostly in the shape of floats, but they kept on, hoping to strike a paying "lead," In this they were disappointed however as no well defined lead was developed, and the store part of the venture was the only thing about it that paid. In the spring of 1857, Tichenor had run through what little means he had invested in the concern, and Moulton and Lee, disappointed in their bright expectations, were inclined to blame him for the result of the enterprise, and so cast him off. The elder Moulton took to drink; and sometime in the course of a year the whole thing collapsed under the stress of circumstances. The creditors got what they could out of the property, and we believe Moulton and Lee returned to the east. Tichenor, it seems, could not give up the idea of getting riches out of a mine, and sought the mines of the west. Only a year or two ago he was heard of in connection with a fraudulent mining concern, shares of stock in which he had sold to the extent of $20,000 or $30,000, and having been discovered in his game, had skipped out.
Among our county records we find the "Articles of Association of the New Galena Lead Mining and Real Estate Company," entered into on the 18th day of August, 1857, and to continue twenty years with the right of renewal.
"James Thorington, James T. Moulton, J. Arthur Moulton, Aug. F. Lee, Wm. L. Easton, Leonard Standring, Warren Ballou, James I. Gilbert, Grant Telford, Milo C. Fuller, Alanson H. Barnes, D. B. Defendorf, L. B. Defendorf, S. H. Kerfoot, James L. McLearn, Robt. L McClelland, Horatio Hill, Solomon Goodrich, E. E. Cooley, and their associates, and such persons as may hereafter become stockholders in the Company by these articles incorporated," formed themselves into a body corporate under the name and style above mentioned, "for the purpose," the document goes on to say, "of mining, smelting, and manufacturing lead, and for the purpose of acquiring, by purchase or otherwise, any lands in the State of Iowa, or any other State or Territory in the United states; and for laying out such lands into towns or villages, additions to town or villages, and disposing of the same at private or public sale; and also for engaging in internal improvements, manufactures, agriculture and commerce, and in any or all financial or monied operations not inconsistent with the laws of the State of Iowa,: etc., etc. The document further provides that the capital stock shall consist of $200,000, of $20 a share, with power to increase to not exceed $500,000. The principal place of business was to be the village of New Galena; and "the directors shall cause semi-annual dividends to be declared out of the profits of the Company." About how many dividends were declared may be readily imagined. We believe this company did continue to operate the diggings for a time, but they were finally abandoned entirely. The diggings mentioned by Prof. Hall as located on the southwest quarter of Sec. 13, 99, 6, were doubtless the ones operated by this Company; the land is now owned by the Fitzgeralds. The first lead taken out was probably near by the smelting furnace.
Wexford --By right of priority of settlement, this community, situated in the southern portion of Lafayette Township, some three miles from the Mississippi, on Priest Cooley (or creek), should have been mentioned earlier in the list of villages, having been settled in 1851. In the spring of that year Father Thomas Hare, the first Catholic Missionary in the county, came here direct from Ireland, and with material said to have been brought from Dubuque, erected a frame church, supposed to have been the first church built in the county, and called the place Wexford. This church, we understand, was built at Father Hare's own expense. In earlier life he had been a missionary in Virginia, but had returned to Ireland. He was independent of the Bishop, and operated on his own responsibility. His field of operations reached over a wide extent of country. He was a genial and influential man, and drew to this county a large immigration of his countrymen, who settled around him at this point.
Union City --Is the name of a settlement on
the north side of the Iowa, above the mouth of French Creek,
which was to have been platted as a village and so gave its name
to the township in which it is located. It was never laid out,
or, if it was it was never platted and entered on record.
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