Past & Present of Allamakee County, 1913
HISTORY OF WAUKON
The Shattucks - Name - Waukon in 1858-61
Municipal History - City of the Second Class
Waukon's Financial Condition, Spring of 1913
Fire Department & Fires - Public Utilities - Railroad
It is a curious fact that the spot on which stood the original log cabin built by the pioneer of Waukon, in 1849, is now, after the lapse of sixty-five years, still an open field of some three acres in extent, and not even subdivided into town lots, though situated but a few blocks from the very center of the city. The cabin disappeared many years ago, but it is well remembered by several of our older residents. The story has oft been told of father Shattucks locating upon this spot, but never better told, with its immediate sequence of events, than by Judge Dean in a brief narrative written in 1902 for a souvenir edition of the Waukon Democrat, gotten out by the ladies of the M. E. Church, which is very appropriate to be copied here:
In July, 1849, one George C. Shattuck, a home seeker, came to Allamakee county seeking a location for himself and family, and after roaming over this wild, unsettled country found himself on the prairie where Waukon now is. He was impressed with the beauty of the scene and its natural advantaged, with its many springs of pure and sparkling cold water gushing out of the prairie sod, making the head waters of a creek that emptied into the Mississippi river. With the wild, native grass so abundant, with plenty of forest timber within easy reach, he concluded it was good enough for him. So he staked out his claim, made what hay would want the coming winter, and went back to the settlement after his wife and family. He returned in September and built a hay shanty to shelter them until he could erect a log house on his claim. This log house was on the north side of what is now Pleasant street and between Bartlett and Armstrong streets.
From this time on a stream of emigration set in which settled in the central and western portion of the county, breaking up and improving the wild lands, making themselves homes and farms, opening public roads, building bridges and log schoolhouses, the latter often used by the itinerant preacher for church purposes. Legal matters also had their share of attention, and the feeling prevailed that the county seat which was then on the east line of the county, should be more centrally located. The 1853 legislature appointed three commissioners to relocate the same. In March following they came from their respective counties of Dubuque, Delaware, and Clayton, investigated all the competing localities, and this was the opportunity of our old pioneer Shattuck.
He invited the commissioners to his locality on the prairie, showed them the numerous springs that made Paint Creek, the abundant grass, the adjacent forests, the rich, black soil, filled them to repletion with the tenderest, juiciest venison and its accompaniments that could be procured, made a formal tender of forty acres of his land free of cost to the county, on condition that they locate the county seat thereon, convinced them that no other point possessed all these advantages or was so centrally located, and they drove the county seat stake somewhere near where the public park is now. The exact location has not been marked or remembered. There were present on this occasion representative men from the different portions of the county, and the question of What name shall we give it? was asked.
It was John Haney, Jr., suggested the name of John Waukon, a prominent chief of the Winnebago tribe, which was adopted. The people at the ensuing April election approved the action of the commissioners by a very handsome majority and Waukon is the seat of justice for the county today. But there lingers many a though of strategy, of hope and fear, as we look back over the many county seat contests that have been fought between then and now, with varying results.
Now Waukon must provide a suitable place in which to hold the approaching term of the district court. Father Shattuck had the only house on the new town site, so a subscription paper was circulated through the settlement, some donating money, others the labor of themselves and ox teams. A building that had been erected on a claim out in the country was bought. By agreement the settlers in the region round about met at the county seat stake and hauled the new courthouse in, depositing it near where the Meyer Hotel is now (the present Allamakee), and when Judge Wilson of Dubuque came to hold his June term of court he found a courthouse, ten by fourteen feet in size, built of poplar logs from six to eight inches in diameter, with chinking between the logs daubed with mud; a board floor, a grand jury room attached, made of boards in the shape of a small lean-to, a seat at the table of Father Shattuck and a shake-down on the floor for bed. The court attendants, consisting of jurors, lawyers, clients, witnesses and spectators, found places as best they could in the cabins of nearby settlers.
After this term of court the little log courthouse was occupied by the county judge and his court. He ordered the county surveyor to survey and lay out the donated forty acres as the town site of Waukon, the plat of which he admitted to record at the following December term of his court. Commissioners were appointed to appraise the value of each lot, after which they were put on the market and sold at private sale for a time. The remainder were closed out at public sale except a lot in block nine, on the east side of Allamakee street, which was reserved for county purposes, and on which he proceeded to erect a small one-story frame courthouse, about 18 X 30 feet in size as near as the writer remembers it, buying oak lumber and basswood siding from a saw mill just built on Yellow river. The front room was occupied by the country treasurer and recorder, the rear one by the county judge and clerk. The center one was used for emergencies, and still there was no room for the district court. So in the spring of 1857 the judge erected another building of one story immediately on the south side of this one and joined to it, expressly for the district court. Here judges have resided with dignity! Learned attorneys have delivered eloquent dissertations of legal lore! Criminals have been convicted and sentenced! Marriages have been solemnized and political conventions held. Should anyone wish to now visit this courthouse they will find on its yellow front a sign lettered as follows Waukon Cigar Factory, Thos. Hartley, Prop. 
By this time the public lands of the county had been sold, farms well opened up, country and town had kept pace in the general development, and Waukon could feed and shelter all who came to visit her. Public business of course kept pace with the general development and soon outgrew the capacity of these twin one-story courthouses, and something better must be provided. The people of Lansing came forward asking that the county seat be relocated within her borders, offering as an inducement a suitable location and the erection of a courthouse costing $8,000. This was contested by Waukon, which offered to donate $5,000 for the same purpose on condition that the county seat remain with them. The people of the county at the April election in 1859, decided in favor of Waukon by a majority of 420 in a total vote of 2,076.
Immediately following this the county judge prepared plans and specifications of the present brick courthouse, advertising for sealed proposals for its completion, which resulted in awarding the contract to Charles W. Jenkins, of the firm of Hale & Jenkins, and John W. Pratt, deceased, for $13,655, they taking the Waukon donations at par in payment, the county paying for the remainder. The building was completed in 1861. The settlement and development of the county has now provided for its accumulating records and business.
The writer considers that a line can safely be drawn at this point, as Waukon has been carried to a vigorous growth and can take care of itself, so he will close with a reference to the itinerant preaching of the log schoolhouse days, and will say that these meetings were very generally attended by the early settlers. Some coming on foot, more on horseback, many families in the farm lumber wagon drawn by oxen, and an air of honesty, equality, and sincerity prevailed that was very refreshing, and if the preacher failed to meet his appointment, his place would be filled by some fellow laborer in the corn field and potato patch, with little culture but with a remarkable flow of language, who would welcome us by the hymnal
Come hither all ye weary souls,
Ye heavy laden sinners come.
In the doctrinal sermon that followed the English
language was sometimes fearfully tomahawked. But a better and
higher culture has followed, with all the modern church
improvements that the increasing wealth and membership desire,
and the honest, illiterate, old, conscientious, self-contained
pioneer preacher is a character of the past.
To go back to Mr. Shattuck: he was born September 9, 1787, and was a pioneer by nature. It is said that he pitched his tent on the site of Chicago when none but Indians inhabited that region. In October, 1870, he departed from Waukon overland to make his home in Kansas. Upon leaving Mr. Shattuck published the following card:
Waukon, October 10, 1870.
As I am about to leave Waukon, it may be permanently, I wish to say good-bye to my friends here. Being among the first to settle her, I have seen this county pass through wonderful changes during the last twenty years; the wilderness of the prairie changed to rich and fruitful farms, and Waukon grown from nothing to be one of the finest villages of the state. One by one I have seen settlers make their homes here. Many of them, all with whom I have become acquainted, I have learned to love as friends. I do not know that I leave a single enemy. And so, as I leave you, I wish to bid you god-bye, hoping that God will bless you, and that prosperity and happiness may be the portion of all.
G. C. SHATTUCK.
Upon which the Standard comments:
"We are sorry to have friend Shattuck go. He is one of our patriarchs. We know of no other that can better lay claim to the name. Twenty-one years ago he drove the first wagon onto this prairie, and he can better appreciate the changes made than we later comers. Such pioneers deserve to be crowned with honor, and he held in grateful remembrance. Mr. Shattuck goes to Missouri, and thence to Kansas. As he came, so he now departs overland, driving his own horse team. Not wonderful, you say? But he is now eighty-six years old! May God bless the old man, and may he enjoy health and strength for many years to come."
In 1875 he visited Waukon once more, and the following spring, April 6, 1876, he died at the home of a daughter at Platteville, Wisconsin.
While the land selected by old man Shattuck was formally claimed and occupied by him and his sons, it was not actually purchased and paid for until 1854, it having been selected by the school fund commissioners as school land, and was patented to the purchasers, by the state of Iowa, in the fall of that year. Hence it was that in the spring of 1853 George Shattuck and his son Scott executed a bond for deed to Allamakee county. None of the land was entered in the old mans name, Scott Shattuck taking the southwest quarter of section 30. Another brother, Nelson Shattuck, bought the southwest of northeast quarter of section 31, of the United States government, June 21, 1852. And D.W. Adams, who came in 1853, bought of the state the east half of the northeast quarter of section 31, which was also school land, at the same time of the Shattuck purchase; and this made up the full square mile of our original city corporation. The original forty-acre plat of Waukon was situated partly on the land of Scott and partly on that of Pitt Shattuck, and was deeded by them jointly, and executed on behalf of Pitt by his brother Scott as his attorney in fact, in 1854, Pitt then being in California.
It is related that early in 1850 Scott Shattuck went to Dubuque after supplies, and not returning as expected, Pitt Shattuck went after him and the supplies and found that Scott had succumbed to the California gold fever; and he, too, became affected by the epidemic and followed Scott to the Golden State before bringing home the supplies. After a couple years Scott returned with certain very necessary supplies, and erected a large hotel, for those days, which was occupied in 1853, the first frame house in town, and which is still standing, next west of the present Boomer Grand Hotel.
Pitt Shattuck was here later, for a time, and his addition, on the west side of the original plat, was laid out in 1857. About this time he disposed of all his remaining possessions here, mainly in the north and eastern parts of the town, and not long after returned to California, and later met his death at the hands of assassins in some part of the great wild West.
Scott Shattuck was the original proprietor of the greater part of Waukon, having made no less than four additions to the original plat, besides selling to Delafield the tract on which his large addition was platted. Scott Shattuck enlisted in Company I, Twenty-seventh Iowa Infantry, August 16, 1862, but that fall he raises a company of cavalry in Allamakee county, which became Company F, Sixth Regiment, and of which he was commissioned captain, and they took the field against the Indians in the Northwest. He resigned April 5, 1865, and was succeeded by First Lieutenant James Ruth of Lansing. Captain Shattuck continued to reside in Waukon, in the house now owned by Henry Carter in the Second ward, which he had built before the war, until he went to Kansas, about 1869, where he was elected to the Kansas legislature in 1870. He was born in Illinois, November 20, 1828, and died at his home in Kansas in October, 1909. His last visit to Waukon was in September, 1907, when he enjoyed a reunion here with several other local pioneers and some members of his old cavalry company. A picture of the group is shown on another page.
Among the pioneers at this reunion was Mr. L.T. Woodcock, who built the two-story frame store building directly opposite the Shattuck hotel, in the same year, 1853. This was Mr. Woodcocks last visit here also (1907), as he died shortly after at his home in Cresco, where he had resided for many years.
The forty acres granted by the Shattucks to the county was actually surveyed in May, 1853; and the original plat of Waukon was admitted to record December 1st of that year.
From 1854 few towns in the West had a more steady, healthy and prosperous growth, and in 1856 it increased rapidly in population and business, fifty or sixty houses being erected during that year, the excellent farming country around filling up and furnishing her tradesmen with a wholesome retail business. The town flourished finely through the panic and hard times of 58 and 59, while the great majority of western villages were at a standstill or decreasing. Her growth was necessarily slow during and following the war, when this community made its full share of the tremendous sacrifice called for to preserve our Union, but her course was ever upward and onward; and when it became necessary to take steps to preserve her prestige among the towns of the county, the entire community put aside all petty personal jealousies, and putting their united efforts in the endeavor, succeeded in establishing for themselves railroad communication with the outside world, in 1877, thereby placing the town and surrounding country in the way of a more prosperous career than they had ever enjoyed. In the village, builders and merchants had far more than they could do; and in two years the population was increased nearly 50 per cent, being 1,310 in September, 1879.
It has been said that the name Waukon (or Wawkon, as it was invariably spelled in fifties) was that of a Winnebago Chief, commonly known as John Wawkon, and was given to this village by John Haney, Jr., at the time the county seat was located here. Some have supposed, however, that it was in honor of another chief, Wachon-Decorah, after whom Decorah was named, and which we translated in some places as The White Crow, the prefix Wachon, or Wakon, apparently being a distinguishing title of greatness or power. He had lost an eye, and was usually known as One-eyed Decori, his name being variously spelled in those days, other forms being Decorrie,De-Kauray, De-Corie, Decoria, Decari and Decorra. Wawkon or some form of that word-seems to have been somewhat common occurrence among the Winnebagoes, with whom it would appear to have signified thunder. as we find the signatures to a treaty of February 27, 1855, to be as follows: Wawkon chaw-hoo-no-kaw, of Little Thunder, and Wawkon-chaw-koo-kaw, The Coming Thunder. Among the Sioux it was also in use, and signified spirit, as, Minne-Waukon, Spirit Lake, etc. As the Sioux and Winnebagoes are both branches of the great Dakota family, it is natural this term should have similar significance with each. Captain Jonathan Carver, in 1766, gave his name to a cave of amazing depth near St. Anthony, which he writes was called by the Indians, Wakon-tubi, or Wakan-tipi, From all of which it would seem that among Indians the terms from which Waukon is derived originally signified something great and powerful, or supernatural.
N. H. Winchell, in Aborigines of Minnesota (p. 508), sums up his researches on the significance of this word as follows:
The Dakota * * * was impressed with the existence of something mysterious. * * * Whatever he could not explain he called Wakan, a word which did not mean sacred or spiritual. * * * Whenever he was surprised by something new, or saw something wonderful, whatever its nature, whether animate or inanimate, feeling or mystery was embodied in the work wakan.
In the Lansing Intelligencer, July, 1853, a visit from the venerable chief Wawkon is recorded, he having encamped near town with over one hundred of his braves. He was then described as being over one hundred years old, and as having a white head and scarred face. And in the Waukon Standard of March 12, 1868, we find that John Waukon, a son of the distinguished Indian in honor of whom this village was named, was in town the other day. He is physically a fine specimen of the red man, standing five feet eleven inches in his moccasins, slim and straight as an arrow, with broad shoulders and deep chest. Among other documents in his possession was a parchment given to his father, bearing the signature of John Quincy Adams, certifying that his father, a distinguished warrior and speaker, had visited the seat of government, held friendly council with the President, and assured him of the desire of the Winnebagoes to preserve perpetual friendship with the whites.
Mr. Huffman took a photograph of this John Waukon, of which the portrait appearing in this volume is probably a copy. What became of the old original John has bot been established, as his death has been reported at different places and dates. Our former townsman G. W. Hays, not deceased, who was in business in Lansing in the fifties, said that in 1881 he was accosted by an Indian who recognized him and introduced himself as John Waukon. He was a river had and said he had two brother, and all of the were Johns. Asked what had become of his father he answered that he died at Prairie du Chien twenty years ago.
WAUKON IN 1858-1861
A carefully preserved copy of the Allamakee Herald, issued at Wawkon, Allamakee county, Iowa, July 1, 1858, Frank Pease, editor and proprietor, has been brought to light and gives the following interesting exhibit:
George M. Dean, County Judge, Wawkon; C. J. White, Clerk District Court, Wawkon; Elias Topliff, Recorder and Treasurer, Wawkon; George W. Camp, Prosecuting Attorney, Lansing; John A. Townsend, Sheriff, Wawkon; William F. Ross, School Fund Commissioner, Rossville; John B. Suttor, Assessor, Monona; William W. Hungerford, County Surveyor, Wawkon; Dr. J. W. Flint, County Superintendent of common Schools, Wawkon; J. W. Merrill, Drainage Commissioner, Lansing (?).
Among the advertisements the following are represented:
Prairie du Chien & Wawkon R. R. Co., John T. Clark, President; Colonel J. Spooner, Vice President; Francis Belfoy, Secretary; William W. Hungerford, Treasurer; George E. Woodward, Chief Engineer. Offices in Wawkon.
Attorneys-Clark & Webster (George W. Camp, Lansing, and M. M. Webster, Wawkon); Clark & Clark (John T. And Frederick M.); and L. O. Hatch, Wawkon.
Physicians-J. W. Flint, I. H. Hedge and T. H. Barnes, Waukon; J. S. Green, Hardin.
J. C. Beedy, Notary Public, Hardin.
W. W. Hungerford and Walter Delafield, Land and Insurance Agents and Notary Public, Wawkon.
Waukon House, James C. Smith, proprietor; M. O. Walkers stages leave this house daily.
J. Israel, Daguerrean Saloon.
Platt Beard, Mason and Plasterer.
I. H. Clark, Wagon and Carriage Manufacturer. (Mr. Clark gave up this trade for that of daguerreotying, at which he prospered. His place was where the Catholic church now stands, but he soon after sold out and returned to Peterboro, New Hampshire. He was followed in the picture business by Israel F. Alger, who learned of Clark, and also returned to his former home at Winchendon, Massachusetts, became so proficient in the art that he acquired something of a competence, which he later lost in unfortunate investments and died in poverty.-Ed.)
P. J. Almquist, Fashionable Tailor.
S. N. Bailey and L. F. Clark, House, Sign and Carriage Painters, James McFadden, Boot and Shoe Maker.
W. R. Pottle, General Merchandise.
M. Hancock, Hardware.
James Blacker, Lime
W. S. Cook, General Merchandise. (Succeeding I. T. Woodcock, the pioneer merchant-Ed.)
R. C. Armstrong, New Drug Store. (This stood on the north side of Main street, directly opposite the Presbyterian church. After the frame was raised and partially enclosed it was blown down in a blizzard.)
(Sold to Goodykoontz or Raymond. P. O. There.)
American Hotel, Silvester Nichols, at Rossville.
An item says A company has been formed in Rossville for the purpose of running a line of states through from Prairie du Chien to Ellisota, Minnesota.
What was 50 cents a bushel, oats 25, potatoes 15, corn 20: eggs, 5 cents dozen; beef, 6 cents a pound; hams, 9; butter, 10 cents.
The Herald was democratic, to judge by this excerpt from editorial remarks: The army of republican wire-pullers, gamblers and treasury plunderers, which met at Iowa City last week, have published what they call their platform, * * * etc.
I was loyally boosting for the town, however, as for example:
We hear the ringing of the anvil, the sound of the hammer and saw, the puffing of the steam engine, the din of the tin-shop, and the rattle of the carts and wagons over the streets. All is bustle and confusion, mechanics of every kind busily employed and all kinds of business going ahead vigorously. New buildings are springing up in every part of town, lawyers running around with clients in their wake. * * * Main street is being graded up, and judging from present appearances and the spirit of improvement manifested by our enterprising townsmen, we will soon have the finest streets and the prettiest town anywhere in the West. As soon as the sidewalks are built along Main and Allamakee streets * * * Wont it be nice?
Two years later the Herald had disappeared and Babbitt & Merrill were publishing the North Iowa Journal at Waukon-the new spelling coming into vogue instead of Wawkon. The issue for August 16, 1860, considers the election of Lincoln and Hamlin a foregone conclusion. The postmaster at Prairie du Chien was requested to send Waukon mail by way of Decorah, as it would then get here from one to five days earlier than by the direct route. Contract for building Allamakee College was about to be let. Wheat was up to 90 cents in McGregor.
Additional advertisers were: Hersey Brothers and J. W. Earl, dry goods; A. G. Howard, Abbott and G. H. Stevens, carpenters; N. Bailey, mason; E. C. Abbott, surveyor; W. H.
Morrison, jewelry; Bailey & Thompson and T. L. Pay, painters; G. H. McClaskey, C. J. Fisher, harness, etc; M. W. H. Hancock, meat market; W. Delafield, banker and real estate; Low & Bean, hardware; J. F. Lane, ambrotypes; G. M. Joslyn, real estate; R. C. Armstrong, county superintendent and postmaster; Belden & Haslip and S. Burlingame, wagon-making; Prothero & Shew, cabinet-making; A. A. Griffith, elocutionist, S. Nichols, hotel; Prof. J. Loughran, Allamakee high school.
A later copy of the North Iowa Journal, under the same management, the issue for April 9, `861, comments upon the loss of the county seat in the recent election:
The seat of justice of Allamakee county has been moved to the Point between the sloughs on the Mississippi river. The Point, our new seat of justice, has no name. We respectfully suggest calling it Joslyns Point. * * * But, why wiltist thou? Thats the question; what has become of your knees and your backbone and your upper lip? We refer to those few Waukonians who refuse to be comforted because the people of the county have been foolish enough to plant their county seat among the bluffs and sloughs of the Mississippi. What! Because you are beaten once out of a half-dozen times! * * * etc.
The town has three new lawyers: L. G. Calkins, W. E. Rose and J. W. Pennington.
The physicians were the same.
New stores were: McFarland & Shew, R. F. Moody and E. K. Barlett.
Drugs and Medicines-Goodykoontz Brothers, Flint & Raymond.
Other changes and additions were: A. L. Grippen, artesian wells; John Griffin, insurance and real estate; L. Anderson, livery stable; Randall Calkins & Co., Waukon Exchange Bank; Burlingame & Haslip, blacksmithing, wagons; H. Robinson, cabinetmaker and undertaker; C. J. F. Newell, blacksmith; D. W. Adams, sewing machines; M. S. J. Newcomb, lumber, southeast of Rossville; J. Valentine, lumber, Capoli.
E. L. Babbitt had recently been appointed postmaster at Waukon.
Two unsuccessful attempts to incorporated the town were made before that object was accomplished. The first election for this purpose was held February 29, 1876, resulting in 114 votes against the proposition and 98 in favor. The proposed measure was again defeated October 25, 1878, by a vote of 134 against, to 108 for.
At the February, 1883, therm of circuits court a petition was presented asking for an order to submit the question once more to the voters, which was granted, and the court appointed as commissioners to call an election C. S. Stilwell, J. B. Minert, G. D. Greenleaf, A. C. Hagemeier and J. L. Okre. The territory sought to be incorporated was one mile square, comprising the south half of section 30 and the north half of section 31. Makee township, and the affidavit accompanying the petition showed that by an enumeration taken at that time there were 1,435 actual residents in said territory. The commissioners called an election for Monday, April
2, 1883, at the office of C. S. Stilwell, at which election the vote was 187 for incorporation and 126 against. Whereupon the clerk of courts officially declared the result, by publication, and designated The Incorporated Town of Waukon as belonging to the third class of incorporations.
On April 30, 1883, was held the first election for town officers, at which the following were selected, to serve until the first regular annual election in March, 1884: Mayor, J. F. Dayton; Recorder, E. M. Hancock; Trustees, D. H. Bowen, C. D. Beeman, H. Low, G. D. Greenleaf, E. K. Spencer and M. Stone.
The first meeting of the town council was held May 2, 1883, in the office of Dayton & Dayton, at which preliminary committees were appointed; and on May 15th the council elected: Treasurer, L. W. Hersey; Marshal and Street Commissioner, J. A. Townsend.
On this date the council contracted with F. H. Robbins for the use of a room in his building on the corner of Main and Allamakee streets, being the third room from the entrance on the second floor thereof, for a council room, at $30 a year, including fuel, lights and furniture, reserving occupancy by himself when not in use by the council. On the 16th several important ordinances came up for action, and Ordinance No. 3 was adopted, fixing the license of saloons at $500 per year, and within the next few months no less than five such places were licensed, and continued until closed by the enforcement of the prohibitory law in 1886. This first council of course had many important measurers before it, perhaps the most important being the establishment of street grades and the constructing of a flood sewer across Spring avenue. July 14th specifications were adopted for a five-foot sewer to follow the survey made by J. H. Hale, from the southeast corner of Stilwell & Lows building, across Main street and Spring avenue diagonally to the west side of Spring avenue near the end of the present sewer where the same discharges into the creek. August 7th a contract was let for same to the lowest bidder, S. Peck & Son, for $1,250, or 384 feet at $3.25 per running foot; and alter this was extended north in the alley from the point of beginning. The work was fully completed and sewer accepted December 4th following the total cost being $1,456.25. At this meeting the council elected E. M. Hancock assessor, but he declining at the next meeting, O. M. Nelson was elected.
At the annual election March 3, 1884, an entire new board of trustees was elected, consisting of Henry Carter, M. C. Ferris, J. S. Johnson, H. Simonsen, J. A. Taggart and F. H. Robbins. Mr. Robbins was elected against his wishes and resigned March 18, and the council elected C. M. Beeman to fill the vacancy. A. W. Lee was appointed marshal and street commissioner. From this time until the town became a city of the second class, in 1901, the following officers served:
Mayor-J. F. Dayton, 1883-5; A. G. Stewart, 1885-7; J. F. Dayton, 1887-8; Mayor Dayton resigned January 7, 1888 (being a member of the State Legislature then in session), and to fill the vacancy the council elected C. S. Stilwell, 1888-9; D. H. Bowen, 1889-90; L. M. Bearce, 1890-2; M. W. Eaton, 1892-7; R. M. Slitor, 1897-1900; Douglass Deremore, 1900-01. Recorder-E. M. Hancock, 1883-95; C. L. Bearce, 1895-1901. Treasurer-L. W. Hersey, 1883-9; G. J. Helming, 1889-90; L. W. Hersey, 1890-6; W. E. Beddow, 1896-7; A. T. Nierling, 1897-01. Marshal and Street Commissioner-J. A. Townsend, 1883-84; A. W. Lee, 1884-5; D. R. Walker, 1885-8, J. B. Minert, 1888, resigned June 5, 1888, and Ra. A. Nichols, 1888-9, resigned October 16, 1889, and L. B. Oleson, 1889-91; J. C. Robey, 1891-3 (died in March, 1893); E. W. Cummens, 1893-1900; Dan Regan, 1900-1 (from time to time a night marshal was appointed by the town and paid by the business houses; Dan Williams served in this capacity for many years). Assessor-O. M. Nelson, Jackson Smith, S. R. Thompson and Robert Wampler, the latter serving from 1893 to 1901.
Trustees (after 1884)-1885-6, M. C. Ferris, H. H. Heiser, Levi Hubbell, J. S. Johnson, J. B. Minert, J. A. Taggart. Mr. Ferris resigned April 21, 1885, and C. M. Beeman elected to vacancy.
1886-7, C. M. Beeman, J. H. Heiser, Levi Hubbell, J. S. Johnson, J. B. Minert, J. W. Hinchon, the latter resigned May 18, 1886, and H. F. Opfer elected to vacancy.
1887-8, C. M. Beeman, James Duffy, J. H. Heiser, Levi Hubbell, J. B. Minert, H. F. Opfer.
1888-9, C. M. Beeman, James Duffy, M. W. Eaton, J. H. Heiser, Levi Hubbell, H. F. Opfer.
1889-90, James Duffy, M. W. Eaton, J. H. Heiser, J. B. Minert, H. F. Opfer, Halvor Simonsen. Minert resigned November 19, 1889, and Levi Armstrong elected to vacancy.
1890-1, Levi Armstrong, James Duffy, M. W. Eaton, J. H. Heiser, H. F. Opfer, H. Simonsen.
1891-2, Levi Armstrong, James Duffy, M. W. Easton, J. H. Heiser, H. F. Opfer, H. Simonsen.
1892-3, James Duffy, W. T. Gilchrist, J. H. Heiser, J. B. Minert, H. F..Opfer, H. Simonsen. Heiser resigned May 16, 1892, and S. R. Thompson elected to vacancy.
1893-4, C. A. Beeman, Henry Carter, W. T. Gilchrist, H. G. Johnson, J. B. Minert, H. Simonsen.
1894-5, same as preceding years.
1895-6, C. A. Beeman, Henry Carter, H. G. Fisher, H. G. Johnson, Henry Krieger, J. B. Minert. Minert resigned November 18, 1895, and H. J. Bentley elected to vacancy.
1896-7, C. A. Beeman, H. J. Bentley, H. Carter, H. G. Fisher, H. G. Johnson, H. Krieger.
1897-8, C. A. Beeman, H. J. Bentley, H. Carter, H. G. Fisher, H. Krieger, J. B. Minert. Beeman resigned March 15, 1897, and J. M. Murray elected to vacancy.
1898-9, H. J. Bentley, H. Carter, E. Dillenberg, H. Krieger, J. B. Minert, J. M. Murray.
1899-1900, same as preceding year.
1900-1, E. Dillenberg, H. Krieger, J. M. Murray, P. S. Narum, H. F. Opfer, S. M. Taylor.
Among the important works undertaken in the eighties and early nineties were the building of substantial stone arch bridges where the creek crosses the principal streets, the grading of Main and Allamakee streets and the Rossville road, and the macadamizing of streets in the business section, including Rossville road to the railroad station, for which a rock-crusher was purchased in the summer of 1893.
At the expiration of the lease of Mr. Robbins in the fall of 1884, the council leased of E. M. Hancock the front room in the second story of his building on the east side of Spring avenue, known as the Standard Block, for one year. After this the meetings were held in the offices of the successive mayors, Stewart, Bowen, Dayton, but chiefly in that of C. S. Stilwell, which latter office was finally occupied regularly until the spring of 1891, when a lot was leased of J. B. Minert near his elevator on the east side of West street, and a small ironclad frame building erected thereon for a council room and housing of the fire apparatus. The first council meeting here was held June 16, 1891, and the city continued to occupy this little building until the
erection of the present handsome brick building on Courthouse square in 1902.
In the summer of 1894 the so-called mulct law went into effect, whereupon the city council adopted an ordinance, No. 102, fixing the license for the sale of intoxicating liquors at $500, and several saloons were soon running again. At a later date, in May, 1895, the license was increased to $600, at which rate they continued to operated until in 1911 the board of supervisors decided that the new consent petitions were insufficient, and the city has since been dry.
In October, 1898, the boundaries of the town were enlarged somewhat by the annexation of a three-acre piece lying on the Union Prairie side of the west line, lot 1 in the east half of southeast quarter of section 25-98-6, being the residence lot of Dan Williams, city marshal, thus making him a resident of the corporation.
CITY OF THE SECOND
CLASS (pg 326-328)
The Federal census of 1900 having shown that the population of Waukon was over 2000 (2153), the necessary proceedings were taken to perfect the organization as a city of the second class, and the city was divided into three wards; the first comprising all that portion lying east of Allamakee street, Spring avenue, and the Rossville road; the second all that part to the west of that line and south of Main street; and third ward all the remaining area to the north and west.
At a regular meeting of the city council in May, 1901, resolutions were adopted directing city solicitor. A. G. Stewart to revise and codify the existing ordinances of the city, with a view to publishing in book form. His work was well done, the revision was adopted by the council on June 30, 1902, and published in a convenient form, making a book of 262 pages besides a full index.
The next important work taken up by the city council was the providing of an appropriate city building for the convenience of the council and city officers, as well as the public, and the proper care of the fire department and its equipment, and the preservation of the city records. This was accomplished during the year 1902 in the construction of the beautiful and substantial city hall on courthouse square, at a cost of about $8,000.
The first floor of this contains a large council room, also used for city and general elections, a city clerks office, with fire-proof vault for the records, and mayors office. The latter is at present occupied by the public library, and the large room for a reading room in connection therewith, the council meetings being usually held in the clerks office. The basement is devoted to the fire departments equipment, the floor being on the grade of Court street; and the second story has recently been handsomely finished off at the expense of the Pioneer Fire Company, for their meetings and club room.
Since becoming a city of the second class, in 1901, the official roster has been as follows:
Mayor-C. A. Beeman, 1901-05; D. H. Bowen, 1905-06 (resigned in March 1906, and M. W. Eaton elected to vacancy); M. W. Eaton, 1906-09; T. B. Stock, 1909-11; I. E. Beeman, 1911-13.
Clerk-C. L. Bearce, 1901-2; C. M. Stone, 1902-11; J. D. Cowan, 1911-13.
Treasurer-H. Carter, 1901-09; M. A. Wittlinger, 1909-13.
Assessor-Robert Wampler, 1901-05; S. R. Thompson, 1905-11; Robert Wampler, 1911-13.
City Solicitor-A. G. Stewart, 1901-05; H. H. Stilwell, 1905-07; H. L Dayton, 1907-13.
Marshal-Dan Williams, 1901-09; James Foley, 1909-12. Offices of marshal and street commissioner were then combined, and the deputy marshal dispensed with.
Deputy marshal and street commissioner-E. W. Cummens, 1901-03; John Painter, 1903-04; Lawrence King, 1904-12.
Marshal and street commissioner-Lawrence King, 1912-13.
Councilmen-1901-02: First ward, N. Colsch Jr. And T. F. OBrien; second ward, Joseph Haines and Halvor Simonsen; third ward, E. W. Goodykoontz and R. I. Steele.
1902-03: First ward, N. Colsch Jr. And T. F. OBrien, second ward, Joseph Haines and H. Simonsen; third ward, E. W. Goodykoontz and R. I. Steele.
1903-04: First ward, C. L. Bearce and T. F. OBrien; second ward, J. A. Markley and H. Simonsen; third ward, E. W. Goodykoontz and R. I. Steele.
1904-05: First ward, C. L. Bearce and T. B. Stock; second ward, Joseph Haines and J. A. Markley; third ward, E. W. Goodykoontz and I. B. Oleson.
1905-06: First ward, C. I. Bearce and T. B. Stock, second ward, Joseph Haines and Ellison Orr; third ward, F. G. Barnard and I. B. Oleson.
1906-07: First ward, C. I. Bearce and T. B. Stock; second ward, J. C. Ludeking and
Ellison Orr; third ward, F. G. Barnard and I. B. Oleson.
1907-08: First ward, C..I.. Bearce and T. B. Stock; second ward J. C. Ludeking and Ellison Orr (the latter resigned in December 07 and D. E. Hoag was elected to fill vacancy); third ward, F. G. Barnard and L. B. Oleson (the latter removed from the city in 07 and R. I. Steele was elected to vacancy).
1908-09: First ward, C. L. Bearce and T. B. Stock; second ward, J. C. Ludeking and D. E. Hoag (councilman Hoag died in July 08 and Jas. A. Markley appointed to fill vacancy); third ward F. G. Barnard and R. I. Steele.
1909-11: First ward, C. I. Bearce: second ward, Jas. Markley; third ward, John M. Lee; at large, R. I. Steele and T. F. OBrien.
1911-13: First ward, T. F. OBrien; second ward, Jas. Markley; third ward J. M. Lee; at large, W. H. Niehaus and Fred Straate.
1913: First ward, C. J. Hale; second ward, F. A. Ludeking; third ward, J. M. Lee; at large, W. H. Niehaus and Fred Straate.
Dr. D. H. Strock has been health officer almost continuously since the town was incorporated, except for intervals in which Dr. J. C. Crawford and Dr. D. H. Bowen served.
At the city election in the spring of 1913 it was voted to annex the grounds of the Allamakee County Agricultural Society, thus adding about twenty acres the to area of the corporation. This was deemed advisable for the reason that the city water-works plant is situated thereon; and the fair grounds being also used for a race meetings and base ball it was best to bring it all under the control of the city authorities. On the part of the Agricultural Society it was desirable, because they had become involved for necessary improvements and expenses, and had in 1905 transferred the entire property to the city upon its assuming and paying off their debts to the amount of something over $4,000. The city leases the grounds to the society for all purposes of county fairs and rase meetings, so the arrangement is mutually advantageous.
About the year 1901 the council caused to be made a complete survey of the city for the purpose of establishing by permanent markers the center lines and intersections of all the streets, and corners of blocks. This important work was entrusted to civil Engineer Ellison Orr, with the result that he produced an elaborate map of the city on a scale of 100 feet to the inch, with minute details, which is of great value.
At the present writing steps are being taken for the paving of the business streets with concrete and brick.
FINANCIAL CONDITION (pg 328-331)
Spring of 1913
Assessed valuation for lands, lots and personal property except
moneys and credits...........................................................................$328,000.00
Moneys and credits.............................................................................326,000.00
Sewer outlet bonds outstanding, 5 per cent.................................... $ 2,500.00
Refunding bonds outstanding, 4 per cent ...........................................8,000.00
Robertson judgment.............................................................................. 3,458.26
Total indebtedness of all kinds owing by city..................................$ 13,958.26
To offset this indebtedness as it becomes due the city has the following cash assets:-
Cash on hand in several funds..........................................................$ 7,377.34
Due from county treasurer................................................................... 3,500.00
Balance of city indebtedness...............................................................3.080.92
Property owned by city.
Waterworks system............................................................ $ 46,000.00
City hall.................................................................................... 10,000.00
Fair Grounds............................................................................. 4,500.00
Sewer outlet and septic tank................................................... 7,500.00
Total ......................................................................................$ 68,000.00
The tax levy for city purposes for the past four years were as follows:
In the year 1909 .......................................................... 24 mills
In the year 1910........................................................... 23 1-2 mills
In the year 1911........................................................... 27 mills
In the year 1912........................................................... 21 mills
In addition to the 21 mill tax in the year 1912,
the city levied a 10-mill tax to pay the Robertson judgment in
full, said judgment being the result of litigation begun in 1902.
This together with a 1-mill raise by the state, and a 4-mill
school tax raise, over which the city has no jurisdiction,
accounts for the extra high taxes this year.
The past two years the city revenue was reduced $2,700 per, this being the amount of mulct tax formerly derived from saloons.
This concise statement was compiled from the city records for the information of the public, by J. D. Cowan, city accountant, attested by the mayor and council.
FIRE DEPARTMENT AND
FIRES (pg 331-334)
At a meeting to organize a hook and ladder company, held March 16, 1869, Robert Isted in the chair, a committee previously appointed reported the names of sixty signers. Those present proceeded to elect a captain and five assistant; Augustus K. Pratt, 5th Assistant; A. J. Rodgers, secretary; H. Low, treasurer. Committee on constitution and by-laws, W. C. Earle, C. J. F. Newell, D. W. Adams. That there had been a prior organization of this character is evidenced by a notice appearing in the Waukon Standard at this time calling upon all persons having any articles belonging to the hook and ladder company to bring them at once to the corner of Main and Allamakee streets.
In 1870, September 15th, occurred the first important fire in the business section, destroying the Belden blacksmith shop, where Martins furniture store now stands and the buildings on Allamakee street north to the stone block. But we find nothing further in the newspaper files about a fire company until after the fire of April 4, 1878, which burned the Farley saloon and the Rankin building, an old landmark which stood where the D. J. Murphy block now is. It was built by Uriah Whaley in 1856, and the upper part at one time served as a lock-up.
A preliminary meeting looking toward the organization of a fire-company was then held at the courthouse, April 25th, at which D. W. Adams was chairman and A. M. May secretary, and it was voted to organize a hook and ladder company. A committed was appointed to raise funds for the employment of a night watchman; and adjournment had to April 29. The adjourned meeting proceeded to organize a company to be called the Pioneer Fire Company, D. W. Adams was elected foreman, D. W. Reed first assistant, and a committee named to solicit membership. May 2d the organization was completed by electing F. H. Robbins, 2d assistant; C. W. Jenkins, 3d assistant; John Murray, 4th assistant; John Oprecht, 5th assistant; G. M. Dean, 6th assistant; E. B. Gibb, 7th assistant; E. K. Spencer, 8th assistant; a. J. Rodgers was elected secretary; John Farnsworth, treasurer. May 10th, John Oprecht was elected nigh-watchman. At later meetings by-laws, rules and regulations were adopted, and a committed appointed to solicit funds for purchase of equipment. The foreman and assistants were directed to take charge of all hooks and ladders that were previously made and had become scattered. And August 8th there was talk of buying a hand-brake fire engine.
Then the big fire occurred on the night of August 16, 1878, destroying ten frame buildings in block 10, north of Main street, and only with the greatest difficulty was it then stayed. It originated in the two story frame store and dwelling of John P. Farnsworth, where the First National Bank is now, and burned two frame buildings to the east, being stopped in this direction at the west wall of the Hale brick block, in the middle of their present store. To the west it devoured the buildings of W. A. Pottle, Nesmith & Gilchrist. Luther Clark and L. O. Bearce, to the space burned out in the previous April. In the rear of these the Rankin barn, Hersey & Stone warehouse, and the large hotel barn of Tovey & Goodykoontz were consumed. The rear of the two frames on Allamakee street occupied by R. G. Pratt and Miss Candee, now replaced by the Hale grocery and the Stilwell office building were badly damaged. It may be recorded here, that this fire was incendiary, and was planned and executed from a small frame saloon located further to the west in the same row, which was saved by the intervening space before mentioned. The facts were nearly two years in coming to light, and the principals were finally punished with a brief term in the pen. The public exercised considerable leniency towards the culprits, partly because the old frame buildings were promptly replaced with substantial brick structures. But this by no means lessened the enormity of the offense in setting fire to buildings in which people were sleeping, although they fortunately escaped with their lives. The town was utterly unprepared to combat a fire of any magnitude, the local press recording the fact that a few unsuitable ladders and one large hook were the only equipment available. The old-fashioned bucket lines to cisterns, wells and springs, was the only water supply. A meeting of the fire company was called immediately after, but no record of the proceedings is found.
After the incorporation of the town in 1883 the question of fire protection was agitated from time to time, but no action was aroused for several years, and none but small fires occurred, until the night of April 10, 1890, when the Kennedy store building was burned. This by the way was an old land-mark, a one-story frame, built by Washington Beale in about the year 1855. He became postmaster in 1856,and the postoffice remained in this building for three years. This fire also destroyed two one-story frames to the south, where the Dillenberg block now is, but spared the little old courthouse.
Sometime in 1890 the council obtained of A. P. Petrehn of New Albin a small hand fire engine on approval, and a few hundred feet of hose, which played an important part in the next fire, the burning of the Boomer Opera House on the night of February 12, 1891, with the two frame buildings to the west. In our minds eye we can still see E. B. Gibbs on his back in the gutter to escape the heat, while directing the nozzle of this little machine to play upon the fronts of the brick buildings opposite the fire, which helped to save them. The town council concluded that the machine had paid for itself, and purchased it of Mr. Petrehn soon after. It is still preserved by the fire company as a relic, but it is still capable of good service for a small place. Before the month of February was ended the burning of the National House barn and Winters livery call for something to be done.
Pursuant to previous announcement a meeting was held at the city council room March 4, 1891, for the purpose of organizing a fire company, as proposed at a citizens meeting, held on the evening of February 25th. C. M. Beeman was made chairman and T. C. Medary secretary. It appearing that a sufficient amount had not yet been subscribed to purchase the necessary outfit, the meeting adjourned until March 6th, for permanent organization, providing the $400 required for equipment be then in sight. At the adjourned meeting March 6, 1891, the financial requirements having been met, the proposed rules and regulations for the government of the company were read, and adopted article by article by the volunteers present, who then completed the organization of Pioneer Fire Company No. 1" by electing officers for the ensuing year as follows: Foreman, Hans G. Johnson: assistant foreman, James E. Duffy: secretary, C. M. Beeman; treasurer, R. J. Alexander.
The volunteer members of the company who signed the original roll, which is carefully preserved were: Max Wittlinger, R. B. May, R. J. Alexander, Max J. Walker, A. B. Boomer, C. L. Reid, Henry Greeling, John Holahan, J. H. Heiser, Wm. Blanchard, Geo. Stone, J. B. Hays, J. S. Johnson, E. B. Gibbs, H. G. Fisher, H. G. Johnson, W. H. Hale, M. Heiser, Jr., H. Krieger, Frank Zimmerman, C. M. Beeman, C. L. Bearce, Jas. A. Markley, W. C. Brownell, Herman Thies, T. J. Kelleher, J. E. Duffy, H. V. Duffy, J. E. Mills, Leslie Bearce, Jerry Casey, J. C. Larson, L.A. Howe and A. B. Clarke.
New members were admitted by ballot from time to time until the limit of fifty members was attained. The company proceeded to purchase equipments, and interested its members with regular stated drills with the city fire apparatus.
In April, 1891, the town purchased a Howe Chemical Hand Engine for $575, which saw service in several instances and doubtless was a good investment at that time. After the installation of the waterworks this machine was sold, in 1899, in exchange for $200 worth of hose. In 1893 the community was deeply stirred by a series of barn fires, undoubtedly of incendiary origin, and in at least two instances dwellings and lives were endangered. No prosecutions were had, but the need of increased protection was demonstrated, and steps were taken for the securing of a water supply. April 17, 1895, the northeast corner of Main and Allamakee streets was the second time burned off, which probably had an effect upon the election which had been called for April 22nd, resulting in the carrying of the city waterworks proposition by a decided vote. This fire originated in the Duffy store, second from the corner, and the OBrien building next north was saved. The Martin store to the east was destroyed, but rebuilt with brick the same year. The corner was soon rebuilt with the present three-story bricks, and this was the last serious fire the town has experienced to this date, an immunity largely due to the effective organization of our fire company. We have at hand no statistics of the calls to which they have responded, but they have been numerous, and have demonstrated the efficiency of the fire department and the system.
The city water system comprises two drilled wells 577 feet deep, one Downie double acting pump driven by electric motor, capacity 100 gallons per minute, directly over well; pumps to 116,000 gallon stand-pipe, 14 feet in diameter and 100 feet high. For emergency, one Smith Vaile fire pump located over well, capacity 100,000 gallons per day. Also one steam engine to drive Downie pump. Six and a half miles of 4, 6, and 8 inch mains, with 54 double hydrants.
The fire department consists of forty-nine members, with three hose carts and 1,200 feet of 2 ½ inch hose, one hook and ladder truck with full equipment. Alarm bell on steel tower at city hall, operated from telephone exchange.
The Pioneer Fire Company, having the use of the upper floor of the city hall, have finished off the principal room and furnished it very pleasantly for their place of meeting, reading and recreation, and have invested something like $750 for this purpose. They have always been liberally patronized by the public in their entertainments, as they have themselves promptly responded to public call. A membership in such a company is an honor worth while.
Since the organization of the company in 1891, its officers have been as follows:
Foreman-H. G. Johnson to July, 1895; Wm. Blanchard to March, 1896; A. B. Clarke to 1906. (The office has been designated as Chief since 1902) R. B. May, 1906-08; B. O. Swebakken, 1908 to 1913.
Assistant-M. A. Wittlinger to ; J. M. Frederick, 1906-08; Lawrence King, 1908-12; F. A. Ludeking, 1912 to present time.
Secretary-C. L. Bearce since November, 1891.
Treasurer-R. J. Alexander since organization, March, 1891.
The present subordinate officers are: Hook and Ladder Company, Herman Thies, captain; Hose Company No. 1, E. W. Kiesau, captain; Hose Company No. 2, John DeWild, captain.
In May, 1891, C. W. Jenkins was appointed chief of the fire department; but for the past many years D. R. Walker has filled this position efficiently, now designated as Fire Marshal.
On the 30th of July, 1894, the city council adopted an ordinance granting an exclusive franchise to M. B. Hendrick to erect and maintain an electric light and power plant for a period of seven years, which was approved at a special election held August 13th following; but the terms and conditions under which the franchise was granted not being complied with it was allowed to lapse. March 28, 1896, a like franchise was granted Chas. F. Speed, which was approved at a special election held April 21st, and a plant was installed the same year.
In 1896 also the town acquired telephone facilities, upon the extending of suitable privileges to the Standard Telephone Company for the use of the streets for necessary poles and wires. The Iowa Union Telephone Company had previously obtained permission and strung its wires to the courthouse, in 1887.
By a vote of the electors in the year 1895, the city council was authorized to take the necessary steps toward the establishment of a waterworks system, and to issue bonds to pay for same. Contracts were duly entered into, and a well drilled on the county fair grounds north of the city limits, by Palmer & Sandbo, which was accepted in June, 1896, at a cost of $1,443.75; the well having depth of 577 ½ feet, and supplying an abundance of excellent water. A pumping station and stand-pipe were thereupon erected, and in the course of the summer the mains were laid, buy contractors Crellin & Lovell, and the system put into operation under management of the city authorities. Some two years later it was found advisable to have a second well drilled, but it was not completed and accepted until September, 1899. From time to time the system has been extended, until it now comprises over six miles of 4 to 8-inch mains, besides a considerable extent of 2-inch pipe.
A complete modern sewerage system was installed in the years 1910-1911. Bids for the work were opened June 1, 1910, ten in number and ranging from $20,492.75 to $27,069.62, and contract let to the lowest bidders. Thill-Manning-Whalen Company, who completed about two-thirds of the work that year and the balance the following spring and summer. The outlet and septic tank was contracted and completed by John A. Dahlsad. This with extra compensation for various expenses not contemplate in the specifications bringing the total cost of the plant to approximately $25,000.
On the 9th of May, 1857, several of the prominent citizens of Lansing adopted articles of incorporation of the Lansing, Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota Railroad Company, to build a railroad to the state line, towards the south bend of the St. Peters river in Minnesota, with a capital of $4,000,000. Not to be outdone, Waukon proceeded to organize the Prairie du Chien & Mankato R. R. Company, with a capital of $5,000,000, the articles of incorporation of which were signed at Waterville, October 15, 1857, by Scott Shattuck, F. Belfoy, Wm. F. Ross, W. H. Morrison, J. Beebe, N. A. Beebe, Col. J. Spooner, W. W. Hungerford, Geo. E. Woodward and L. T. Woodcock. The board of directors for the first year consisted of John T. Clark, William H. Morrison, J. Spooner, Francis Belfoy, Geo. E. Woodward, N. A. Beebe, William F. Ross, William W. Hungerford, A. B. Webber, J. T. Atkins, H. L. Douseman, Albert L. Collins, and T. R. Perry; and the officers were: John T. Clark, president; Francis Belfoy, secretary: W. W. Hungerford, treasurer, and Geo. E. Woodward, chief engineer. The last mentioned has since become an architect of more than national reputation. Books were opened for the subscription of stock, and the line surveyed that fall through Winneshiek and Mitchell counties to the state line, commencing at the mouth of Paint creek.
We find a record of October 20, 1858, when the second annual meeting of the board of directors was held in the office of the company here. That meeting was largely attended and very enthusiastic. Every county along the line was represented. Over $14,000 stock was subscribed on that day. Letters were read from distinguished railroad men in Wisconsin and Minnesota, all speaking unqualifiedly of the Paint creek route as the very best west from the Mississippi in northen Iowa, and predicting its completion at an early day. For the second year J. T. Atkins was president: N. A. Beebe, vice-president; Hungerford, secretary, and J. T. Clark, treasurer and attorney.
April 27, 59, a delegation from Waukon attended an enthusiastic railroad meeting at Prairie du Chien, and were met at Johnsonsport by the ferry boat and brass band from that town. But it was all of no use. All hope was not abandoned, however, and April 15, 1862, the Prairie du Chien and Austin R. R. Company was incorporated. This also came to naught, and February 4, 63 was organized the Prairie du Chien and Cedar Valley Railroad Company, which resulted as had the others.
In 1871 the B., C. R. & M. Road was extending up towards Postville, with the intention, as stated in railroad meetings at Independence and elsewhere, of extending on northeast by way of Waukon to the river. This gave new hope, only to be followed by disappointment again. Then Judge Williams narrow gauge enterprise was planned and partially executed. Propositions were made to Waukon in 1872 for a branch to this place. We accepted, and did our full part, by way of voting aid, subscriptions, surveying, etc., till the eastern financial end of it collapsed, causing an abandonment of the project, but not until several lines were surveyed to Waukon from the Iowa Eastern, by way of Monona and Postville.
Waukon had become used to disappointments by this time, and the subject was pretty much at rest till the fall of 1874. Then Lansing began to agitate the county seat question again. This was the one thing needed to rouse our citizens to action, and they took hold of the matter in earnest. After considerable talk and canvassing of the matter, articles of incorporation of the Waukon and Mississippi R. R. Company were adopted, with the following incorporators: W. C. Earle, A. E. Robbins, C. Paulk, Jacob Plank, H. S. Cooper, John Goodykoontz, P. G. Wright, C. Barnard, H. G. Grattan, Jeptha Beede, C. O. Howard, G. P. Eells, H. H. Stilwell, C. W. Jenkins, G. M. Dean, F. M. Clark, C. S. Stillwell, J. W. Pratt, L. Howes, J. A. Townsend and James Duffy. Until the first election by the stockholders, the officers consisted of C. D. Beeman, president; H. S. Cooper, vice-president; C. S. Stilwell, secretary, and John Goodykoontz, treasurer. At the annual meeting of the stockholders, April 6th, officers for the ensuing year were elected as follows: D. W. Adams, president; C. D. Beeman, vice-president; Martin Stone, secretary; L. W. Hersey, treasurer; and G. W. Stoddard, W. C. Earle, Jas. Holahan, H. G. Grattan, H. H. Stilwell, and Fred Hager, directors.
The directors authorized a survey as soon as possible, which was begun April 19, 1875, and completed May 21, under the direction of D. W. Adams, J. H. Hale, and J. W. Earle. Meanwhile a committee had been at work since January securing the right of way. May 22, payment of accrued claims was provided for. Contracts for grading were let May 28th, and about the first of June dirt began to fly, high hope being entertained of the completion of the road that fall. The grading was completed late that summer, many of the bridges put in, and ties got out ready for the rail. It was at first the intention to lay a hardwood rail, but a meeting August 25th, iron was decided upon. In December, an attempt was made to negotiate a loan, which failed, as did a similar attempt in January following. The difficulty was not so much in securing the money wherewith to purchase the iron, as in obtaining it on such terms as would save the road to the stockholders and not make it necessary that it should pass from their control. Efforts to this end were continually being made. At the general meeting in April, 1876, the old officers and directors were reelected. Up to April 1st the sum of $33,533.57 had actually been collected on stock subscriptions. March 15th, a law was passed by the general assembly permitting townships and incorporations to aid in the construction of railroads, and in accordance therewith an election was held in Makee township April 26th, at which a five per cent tax was voted by 342 to 101. Union Prairie township voted a three per cent tax May 17th, by 113 to 51; but aid was refused by Ludlow May 19th, where a three per cent tax was asked, by Jefferson, May 22d (th same), and by Hanover, May 25th, where only a two per cent tax was called for.
June 10, 1876, the W. & M. R. R. Security Company was organized for the purpose of devising means for completing the road, but was dissolved September 19th, the securities furnished by the members being returned to them. And on the same date the W. & M. R. R. Guarantee Company was organized, for the purpose of completing, equipping, maintaining and operating said railroad. The incorporators were: Dudley W. Adams, L. W. Hersey, Holahan & Buggy, J. W. Pratt, A. Hersey, Henry Dayton, E. K. Spencer, W. C. Earle, A. J. Hersey, A. E. Robbins, A. Plubiska, C. W. Jenkins, C. D. Beeman, H. G. Grattan, H. H. Stilwell, Low & Stillman, John A. Taggart, J. H. Hale, Lewis Reid, Azel Pratt. And the officers: D. W. Adams, president; C. D. Beeman, vice-president: J. W. Pratt, secretary; L. W. Hersey, treasurer; H. G. Grattan, auditor. The assets of the W. & M R. R. Company were leased to the Guarantee Company fo a number of years for the purpose indicated. In December the iron was contracted for in Milwaukee, upon favorable terms; and an order was made to enforce the collection of delinquent stock.
At the annual meeting of the original railroad company in April, 77, the following officers were elected: D. W. Adams, president; C. D. Beeman, vice-president; H. G. Grattan, secretary; L. W. Hersey, treasurer; James Holahan, Conrad Helming, W. C. Earle, H. H. Stilwell and C. W. Jenkins, director, June 30th J. H. Hale was elected chief engineer. July 27th H. G. Grattan resigned as auditor and Jas. Holahan was elected. September 3rd, at the annual election of the Guarantee Company, D. W. Adams was reelected president, A. E. Robbins, vice-president; J. W. Pratt, secretary; L. W. Hersey, treasurer, and Jas. Holahan, auditor.
H. H. Stilwell was attorney for the company, and D. W. Adams general superintendent of the road.
In July, 1877, first mortgage bonds were issued to the amount of about $30,000, and taken by Messrs. Fairbank, Bradley and Parks, of Massachusetts, interest eight per cent payable semi-annually. And a short loan of $15,000 was secured from J. H. Fairbank of Winchendon, Massachusetts, ample real estate security being given. The rolling stock was purchased the latter part of that month, and the delivery of iron began early in August. Track-laying began September 4th: the locomotive was received September 11th; reached Waterville, nine miles, September 25th; and on October 27th, fifty-three days from the time the first rail was laid, the track was completed, twenty-three miles, to Waukon.
Thus, after twenty years of disappointments, hoping, waiting, and working, Waukon became a railroad town, with a road of her own building. Just twenty years to a month from the time of the first railroad survey up Paint creek valley, a road was completed over that route; and this village and vicinity entered upon a new era of prosperity. It was entirely independent of any other road or corporation, the people of Waukon having struggled through with the enterprise single handed.
At the time of its completion the rolling stock of the road comprised one twelve-ton locomotive, sixteen box cars, five flats, and one passenger. The cost of the road and its equipments amounted to about $121,000, or nearly $5,300 per mile, and its total debt was about $50,000, bonded for five years. No great splurge or celebration was indulged in, but on the day of its completion an impromptu affair was gotten up for the entertainment of the people who happened to be in town, and the railroad employes in particular, from an account of which in the Standard we quote as follows:
On Saturday, October 27, 1877, at 3 oclock P. M., the engine Union Prairie rolled up to the platform of the Waukon depot, Thos. Clyde, engineer; O. H. Bunnell, fireman, and Henry Lear, conductor. For the preceding few days as the end of the track approached town the number of visitors had constantly increased, until on this day a large crowd of people, consisting largely of ladies, were assembled at the depot and below to witness the last of the track-laying, and get a sight at the first appearance of our locomotive. When the train reached the depot platform the flat cars were soon crowded to their fullest standing room, chiefly by the ladies and children, and the Waukon band played a joyous strain in welcome. At this point in the proceedings everybody stood still until the camera had secured a photograph of the lively scene for all to look at and laugh over in future years (which is reproduced herewith); after which the first passenger train. consisting of five flats, densely packed, ran down the road a couple of miles, with the band playing on the front car, and soon returned with whistle sounding, amid considerable enthusiasm and amusement. * * * At 5 oclock, headed by the band, the hands repaired to Barnard Hall, which had been decorated with flags, as had also most of the business houses. Here, to the number of about sixty, they were treated to a bountiful hot supper, including all the delicacies of the table which the ladies of Waukon so excel in providing, served by the ladies themselves. After the hands had satiated their appetites the public generally fell to and did full justice to the repast; and so amply had the ladies provided for sixty or eighty railroad hands that it is estimated some five hundred people were served with supper at the hall, free. * * * After supper the floor was cleared and those so disposed participated in a social dance. * * * There were in town during the day an unusual number of people, although no public announcement of any demonstration had been made.
The railroad began carrying the mails February 11, 1878. A month or two before the complection of the road to Waukon, Mr. E. B. Gibbs, then station agent on the river road at Harpers Ferry, was engaged to take charge of the new station at Waukon, and he proved a valuable asset to the new corporation, with its inexperienced officials, in getting this office into proper working order. In December following, The American Express Company began doing business over this line; and November 6, 1870, a telegraph line was completed; and both these branches of railroading were added to Mr. Gibbs duties. The work incident to the opening of a new office, providing it with the proper books and blanks, and practically operating this independent line with its insufficient shipping facilities, was immense, but Mr. Gibbs was equal to the occasion. When he finally took time to determine whether or not to make this his home. He decided th question by buying a lot and building a comfortable dwelling, and has for over thirty-five years proven a valuable asset to the business and social interests of the town, as he had at first been to its railroad interests. For a third of a century he retained the position o agent at this station, under the various railroad managements, resigning to take up the local management of the Upper Iowa Power Company and electric lighting system, in Waukon.
At the annual election of April 2, 1878, the company elected D. W. Adams, president, H. G. Grattan, vice president, L. W. Hersey, secretary, C. D. Beeman, treasurer, and Jas. Holahan, Henry Dayton, W. C. Earle, c. Helming and C. W. Jenkins, directors.
In September, 1878, James F. Joy, of railroad fame, came here and purchased a controlling interest of the stockholders, the officers of the Guarantee Company being succeeded by: J. F. Joy, president; F. O. Wyatt, vice president and general manager; C M. Carter, treasurer; H. H. Stilwell, secretary; and the road passed into the same management as the river road, with a prospect of being pushed thought into Minnesota. The officers of the old original company resigned, and were succeeded by: F. O. Wyatt, president; W. J. Knight, vice president; C. M. Carter, treasurer; H. H. Stilwell, secretary; and Frank Adams, S. A. Wolcott, J. F. Joy, L. W. Hersey and A. E. Robbins directors. That fall and winter a party of surveyors ran a line for a proposed extension northwest into Minnesota, and also preliminary surveys toward Decorah, which city in August, 79 voted a four per cent tax in aid of an extension to that place via Frankville. That route having been abandoned, grading was begun on the line down Coon Creek, and in October Decorah again voted a tax to aid in its extension, and the work was prosecuted vigorously, until stopped by the approach of winter.
In the spring of 1880 grading for the extension was resumed, the piers erected for four iron bridges across the Oneota river, and several miles of track laid from Waukon, when, in May, the lines of the C. C. D. & M. Railroad, of which this was a feeder, passed into the hands of the C. M. & St. P. Railroad Company. It was said that the Chicago & Northwestern was negotiating for these lines, and had nearly accomplished their purpose when by a little unnecessary delay in making their final inspection of the properties the game was lost to the Milwaukee managers, who had been closely watching it and by the sudden turn of a card secured the stake. As it turned out, work on the Decorah extension ceased early in July, when the track had been laid almost to the river the rails and ties were later taken up, and the right of way abandoned.
In 1885 the road was widened to standard gauge.
~transcribed by Diana Diedrich and Debra Richardson (The Shattucks)
(pages 319, 329 & 339 have photos, and pages
320, 330 & 340 are blank)
Continue Chapter 20
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