Allamakee co. IAGenWeb Project
updated 09/05/2013

Postville History
A collection of articles, memoirs & stories

1875 Postville Business Directory


Mrs. J. A. Johnson – Dressmaking.
F. M. Clark & Co. – Furniture.
Mrs. N.W. Stiles – Millinery.
Ed Sheehe – Restaurant.
Stauer & Co. – Lumber.
E. J. Ferry – Jewelry.
N. J. Beedy – Groceries.
John Thoma – Restaurant.
J. Craft- Furniture and Repair.
J. R. Thompson – Painter.
Prescott & Eaton – Hardware.
Beucher & Spoo – Hardware.
J. S. Mott – Lumber.
C. W. Douglas – Blacksmithing.
Mrs. T. J. Mott – Millinery.
Leithold Bros. - Mdse and Grain.
W. F. Beaver - Blacksmithing.
J. S. Greene – Physician.
A. C. Buchwald – Meat Market.
L. A. Hoffman – Photographer.
John Moir Jr., Postmaster and Groc.
J. B. Reed & Co. – Painters.
Hall Roberts & Co. – Elevator.
W. S. Webster – Insurance.
John Head Jr. – Bakery.
C. L. Allen – Dray Line.
Hancock & Tovey – Livery.
B. Wells – Mfg. Boots and Shoes.
A. P. Abbott – Painter.
C. F. Rathbun – Livery.
Jacob Meyer – Blacksmith.
L. Brown – Physician.
Powers & Johnson – Attorneys.
F. Meyer – Wagon & Sleighs.

S. Van Hooser & Scott – Blacksmith.
Burling & Stowe – Attorneys.
A. Staadt – Drugs.
J. K. Phillips – Barber.
Bayless, Douglas & Co. - Drugs.
T. Stilles – Justice of Peace.
J.C. Dow – Wagons.
E. Schmidt - Harness.
J. H. Keller – Restaurant.
N. W. Stiles – Sewing Machines.
H. L. Hudson – Blacksmith.
L. Shepherd – Physician.
R. H. Rude – Occulist.
G. Mitchell – Pumps & Windmills.
J. Ferguson – Merchants Hotel.
Mrs. H. Mitchell – Herb Doctoress.
Roberts & Skelton – Gen’l Mdse.
D. C. Beckwith – Jewelry.
A. M. Cortis, Hardin – Store
Leithold Bros. – Gen’l Mdse.
Postville State Bank – W. S. Roberts,
Cashier; Hall Roberts, President.
Mrs. E. Scmitz – Millinery.
J. W. Corpe – Tailor.
W. T. Houghton – Physician.
W. N. Burdick – Postville Review.
J. Boswell – Waukon Stage Line.
J. F. Wilson -Agt. C. M. & St. P.
J. L. Paine – M.E. Pastor.
S. F. Smith – Baptist Pastor.
J. A. Hoyt – Congregational Pastor.
I.O.O.F. Lodge – R.N. Douglas, Secretary; J. McAdam, N.G.
Brotherly Love Lodge No. 204 A. F. & A. M. - J. Perry, Secretary; S. S. Powers W. M.

~originally printed in the Postville Review, July 28, 1875
~transcribed by Lyn Lysne
~photocopy contributed by Reid R. Johnson


The band is progressing in fine shape under the instruction of Prof. Phillips of Waukon. The attendance at each rehearsal shows that the boys are willing to do their part. The following is the line up of the players:  
Coronet:           Wm. Kozelka, Kenneth Sanders, Leslie Pettit, Paul Topel, Fred Miller.
Clarinet:           Ray Douglass, Art Topel.
Trombone:       Cloy E. Waters, R. F. Hein.
Alto:                 Harry Hanks, Roy Pettit.
Tenor:              Wm. Klingbiel.
Baritone           Fred Tuttle.
Tuba:               E. H. Prior.
Snare Drum:    A. C. Harrington, Lee Burdick.
Bass Drum:     W. G. Bulman.  
~Postville Review, Friday, November 2, 1917
~contributed by Reid R. Johnson

Settlers Arrived As Indians Left

It was in 1847 that a treaty was signed whereby this section of Iowa, then known as the "Neutral Ground," was relinquished by the Winnebago Indians, but they were not actually removed until the following year.

People in the eastern states had heard much of Iowayland and its rich, productive soil that had been labeled the "biggest bargain in all history," because the United States government paid Napoleon three cents an acre for what was later discovered to be the richest farming area in all the world.

No wonder then that upon removal of the Indians settlers began flocking here in large numbers.

First arrivals in what later became Postville, settled in Whiskey Hollow, later known as Springfield, southeast of town. Several families by the name of Reed were among these. In 1848 Elias Topliff and Henry Noble located on farms west of here.

In 1850 there came here the Stevensons (James was a brother of Mrs. Joel Post) Reuben Smith who later built the Old Stone House which still stands and is a favorite picnicking place for many, the Carrithers family, the Prescotts, including A. R. Prescott who is known to many of our older residents, and others.

In 1855 Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Russell came from Rockford, Ill., and he built a house where Mrs. C. F. Radloff now lives. It is said of the Russells that they were most hospitable folks who took in many of the strangers as they arrived in this community and made them feel right at home. It was in their home that the Congregational church (now a component part of the Community church) was organized, and missionaries and ministers of all denominations and creeds found a ready refuge in the Russell home at all times.

The Higbys and the Stiles family came to this section in about 1857, as did Mr. Hazelton, who was one of the first storekeepers here. Webster & Stevenson also operated a store. In that early day, most of the "business district" was centered around the present Lutheran church intersection, and George Hunt operated a store on the corner lot where Pearl Ellis now lives. Mr. Loveland owned that store and the time fixed for that ownership is 1862.

It was in that section of town where shops and dwellings soon sprang up like mushrooms with the coming of more and more settlers. Also at that place was built in the early '60's a frame school house in which all religious services by the various denominations were held as well as many public meetings.

This was in the period of the Civil War and funeral services for soldiers who died or were killed in action were held in this old school house. There, too, was held the memorial service for the martyred president, Abraham Lincoln, of which one early historian reports, "George Henderson, Judge Edmonds and others conducted an impressive service. It was a very sad occasion and people wept as if it were for one of their own family or personal friends."

Among early stores here was the one of Josiah Reed & Co., opened in 1851. A blacksmith named Draper opened his shop here in 1851 also. He sold his shop to James Roll who also built a small hotel.

Things began to boom from the start in this little hamlet located on the Military road, halfway between Ft. Crawford, Wis., and Ft. Atkinson, Iowa. But the real growth started when the railroad reached here in 1864. Of that gala event and how it caused the removal of the business section "from the hill" down where it now is, we shall write next week.


~contributors notes: From my mother's scrapbook entitled "Postville". Her clippings are from the Postville newspaper. She did not hand date the clipping or make note of who wrote it.
~source: Postville newspaper, unknown date
~contributed by Mary Durr

History Told Of Postville

Waukon, Wed., Nov. 14, 1917
Reminiscences of Pioneer Days.

Complying with a request by the Allamakee County Historical and Archeological Society, this article was written by Mrs. Jennie Leui from memoranda of conversations with her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. James Orr, about the early days of the settlement of the country in and about Postville.

My father, James Orr, came to Iowa from Tyrone, New York, in the spring of 1855.  This was then the land of "The Far West" and was considered by the people of old "York State" to be practically out of the world.

Chicago was but a village with unpaved streets and the railroad was built only as far as Galena, Illinois.  Transportation from there to Dunleith, (now East Dubuque) and from there up the Mississippi river by steamboat to McGregor.  The steamboats did a big business in those days carrying settlers and their goods into the new country and their produce out.  McGregor was then and for many years after a very important shipping point.

Postville in 1855 consisted of a log tavern located where now stands the McEwen home, three small dwelling houses and a small grocery store west of where the German Lutheran church now stands.  At that time Springfield ("Whisky Hollow") was a close competitor and Hardin was away ahead, boasting of grist mill run by steam, blacksmith shops (where oxen were shod) and wagon shops, stores, a postoffice and a school house.

The log tavern in Postville originally stood on the NW of the NE of Section 33, town 96 north, Range 6 west, on what is now a part of Darias Orr's farm, and was built in 1841, being first occupied by Joel Post, after whom Postville and Post township were named, and who had a contract to furnish supplies to Fort Atkinson.

For reasons stated in the County History it was torn down in 1843 and moved to the location given above.  To this day pieces of old blue dishes, crockery and horse shoes are occasionally plowed up in the field where it stood.  What lucky ones they should be.  In 1855 the cholera was brought to Postville.  A number died of it and were buried in the new "Burying Ground".  Land in Iowa then could be bought of the Government for ten shillings an acre.  Later the land that had some improvements such as plowing or fencing, for eight, nine or ten dollars per acre.

Currency in use was mostly gold and it was that that the government required in payment for its land.  The settlers then banked what little they had of this in some hiding place, often under a rock in the "root hole" as the excavation under the house for holding vegetables was called.  There was also a bank paper currency in circulation but the settlers were afraid of it and often refused two dollars for one in gold.

After buying an eighty of Section 28 on which was a log cabin and twenty-five acres of improved (plowed) land, my father returned to New York, returning the following spring with my mother, Miss Margaret A. Ellison, (a bride).  The railroad was then completed to Dunleith.  From there they journeyed to McGregor by steamboat.  The twenty-five miles inland to their new home was made partly by stage, (a four horse stage running from McGregor to Fort Atkinson), and the rest of the way with an ox team.  If they could have glimpsed ahead fifty years and seen the hundred, more or less, of autos that travel daily over this same "Old Military Road" what an unbelieveable vision it would have been.  However the wide sweep of the prairie, the many wild flowers, trees and birds, new and strange to the young pioneer women, furnished a ride that was a never ending novelty.  She was curious to learn about these new and strange things and they were nowise backward in "stuffing" her with such choice information as that the burr oak in its season was covered with beautiful white flowers like a snowball bush.

Let us accompany the bride to her home and see how the pioneers lived "the simple life" in those days.  We will see a log cabin, 16 X 16, whitewashed inside and out, one story high, one door and one window, and a shake roof split from oak logs.  There was but one room.  That was the home and its furnishings were a rag carpet, a stove, two bedsteads standing end to end with room for a flour barrel between, a table, a cup-board, a couch and a few chairs.  A spring of pure water gurgled up near the door.  Song birds were more numerous than now and a world of wild flowers was everywhere.  This home was typical of those of the neighbors only perhaps a little more luxurious than some.  With one exception all the settlers lived in log houses, the exception being the Dobson home on what is now the Arthur Marston farm and which is still standing, being used for a granary.  None of these old log cabins are standing now.  The "Old Stone House" on Yellow River was built in 1855 by Reuben Smith and is now almost too far gone to be restored.

Wild pigeons, prairie chickens, quails and the deadly rattle snake were over abundant.  The quails are plentiful no more, the wild pigeon is extinct and the rattle snake of the prairie, the massasauga, too, is extinct.  Of all the birds the whip-poor-will was the most tame, coming evenings to sit on the cabin door step to sing its lonesome song.  The wild pigeons were so numerous that they were at times like clouds in the sky, and from their nesting grounds on Yellow River the noise of their activities could be heard for several miles.  You can imagine how plentiful they were when they ate the young corn, roots and all, from a forty acre field.  They fed their young mostly by going south to the Illinois wheat fields, returning with the wheat in their crops and feeding by regurgitation.  My father never heard or saw panthers, but a black bear was killed not far from the home and wild cats were common.  At one time he saw twenty-two deer in one herd and wolves were only too plentiful for years.  Wild plums, crab-apples, blackberries and red raspberries were exceeding abundant and of the finest quality and flavor as were the wild strawberries.  Apples were a great luxury, the only orchard in this part of the country being the Laughlin orchard of four acres, and the fruit although mostly seedlings, sold readily for $1.00 per bushel.  This orchard was set about 1854 but every tree died long since and now not a trace of it remains.

The "Past and Present of Allamakee County" states that the second school house in Allamakee county was built in 1852 on Section 28.  This was on the land my father bought.  He is confident it was built before that date, possibly in 1850, as the contract which the settlers had with the government permitting them to build on the land which then belonged to the government, and which was for a school house several years after for five years, expired in '55, and he let the building be used for a school house several years after that.  Among the teachers were Miss Higby, Sam Orr and my mother.  A township board attended to their hiring.  My mother had fifty pupils and received the munificent salary of $3.00 per week.  This was in 1857.  This log school house, located about forty rods northwest and across the wide prairie slough and little creek from where the Post log tavern stood in 1841.  This school house served both for school and church purposes and there were not a few who came to worship in the little building.  Among them were the Henderson's, Williams, Aleck, George and David who afterwards was Speaker of the House of Representatives in Congress, John Moir and sister, Mrs. Post, Mr. and Mrs. Russell, Mrs. Lassey, Mrs. Early, the Stiles, Stephensons, Mackeys, Bates, Higbys, Suttons, Laughlins, Minerts, Pattersons and Orrs.  Mr. Marston was the preacher and came every Sunday across the scrub brush lands with an ox team and lumber wagon, his wife sitting in a chair in the back of the wagon.  The men's Sunday shirts were of a cloth called "hickory" and the women's Sunday finery was shawls and shaker bonnets.  I have been told that these bonnets were a most unpleasant head gear, as one could neither see nor hear well though the inability to see was then not so great an objection for there was no curiosity to see what the other women wore as all bonnets were alike.  The men sat on one side and the women on the other.  The singing was strictly congregational and those pioneers had lusty voices and used them, some being very good singers and could boast of singing in the choir back east.  Sometimes it is said they fairly raised the roof.  My father tells that the first Sunday my mother attended service the building was packed full to see the new bride from way down east.  The women especially were curious as to the latest styles which she was supposed to bring with her.  Her bonnet made a great hit.

A frame school house was built in 1858 in the extreme southwest corner of Section 33, about four rods from the section corner and just south of where the Lutheran parsonage now stands.  School was then discontinued in the log house on Sec. 28, the district being divided, a part of the pupils going to the Minert school a mile north where for a time school was held in Mr. Minert's frame granary.  The present Minert school house was built in 1862.  The pupils of the other half of the old district went to the new school at Postville.  The old log building was afterwards moved on to Sec. 33 and rebuilt almost on the site of Mrs. Post's log tavern and was for years the home of James Whalen, an old Irish railroader who worked with pick and shovel and wheelbarrow in the construction of railroads in England and Wales and on the "York and Erie" railroad and canal and on the levees of the Mississippi river in the United States.  Afterwards the land was bought by James Orr and later the building was torn down.  James Orr was the first teacher in the new school house beginning school in 1859.  Among his pupils was D. B. Henderson, afterwards Speaker of the House of Representatives.  Church services were held in this new building till the different churches were built.  The first church donation was held in what was known as Russell Hall.  The support netted $94 and wishing to make it $100 a number ate a second time, among them Mr. (afterwards Governor) William Larrabee who took Mrs. Post to her second meal for the evening.  The first and only barbecue ever held in this part of the county was held at Postville in the fall of '63 and was given as an incentive to patriotism.  David Henderson and Wm. B. Allison were the speakers.  It was a great success.  Feeling ran high between the Democrats and Republicans then and there were many that went home with bloody noses that night.  It was on that day that it was known who had to go to war on President Lincoln's first draft for soldiers.  The railroad was completed to Postville in 1864, the first train arriving August 8th.  First a box car and then a board shanty served as a depot and then the building which stands here at the present time and which was built over fifty year ago.  (Since the above was written this depot has been replaced by a fine new one finished in pebble dash, 1916)

When the railroad came and left Hardin to one side its glory faded as did that of Lybrand, a town with expectations located near the northwest corner of Section 15 and on the "Stage Road" from McGregor to Decorah.  The mill was torn down and moved away and the stores were closed but for years one of the blacksmith shops persisted.  In front of it was the quaint sign, "Horse and Ox Shoeing."


~source: clipping from my mother's scrapbook entitled "Postville".  She has not hand dated it and it is from the Postville Herald.
~contributed by Mary Durr

Early History of Postville

by Mrs. Hall Roberts, 1916

The settlement of Post township by white people was begun when Joel Post and his wife came to occupy the house (or shanty) at the half-way station between Ft. Crawford, Wisconsin , and Fort Atkinson, Iowa, which had been built by U.S. troops. The records tell us that Mr. Post had a permit from the commanding officer at Fort Crawford, with certain restrictions. One was, he was not to keep spiritous liquors in his house on any pretense whatever. Neither must he sell liquors, either directly or indirectly to Indians, or to U.S. soldiers, under the penalty of being immediately removed. His acceptance is recorded as having taken place Jan. 12, 1841 --- just seventy-five years ago.

The first building was out near Darious Orr's. Later a larger log house was built on the site of Mrs. James McEwen's house, also a large frame barn where Mrs. James Fay's house stands. The old flat stone doorstep of the house still lies in Mrs. McEwen's yard. They still use water from the old well that Mrs. Post told me her husband dug and walled up himself. This house proved to be a nucleus around which settlements were made. A number of men who have since became famous in the civil and military history of the country were accustomed to visit this house and partake of its cheer. Among them Colonel Nathaniel Lyon, General Pleasanton, and others who were prominent in the Civil War.

A treaty for the relinquishment of the neutral ground was made in 1847, although the Indians were not actually removed until the following year. Very soon after this other settlers came in. Among them several families by the name of Reed, who settled near Springfield, or Whiskey Hollow, as it was called in an early day. The next year Elias Topliff, Jr. and Anna Reed were the first couple married in Postville, or even in the county, on Dec. 16, 1849. They were married by Grove Warner, Justice of the Peace.

A postoffice was established in January 1849. It was called Postville, and Joel Post was postmaster. He died on the 24th of January and never knew of the appointment as it did not arrive until several days after his death. In 1850 several new settlers arrived in the town, among them are a few names familiar to many of us. James Stevenson, a brother of Mrs. Post; Reuben Smith, builder of the old stone house; Mr. Carithers; the Prescott family, including A.R. Prescott, then a young man, and many others following on in close succession.

In 1855 Mr. and Mrs. S.J. Russell came from Rockford, Illinois; later he built the home where Charley Radloff now lives. The Russells were exceedingly hospitable people and very few persons coming to the town but what were invited to their home and made welcome there. The Congregational church was organized in their house, and ministers and missionaries of all donominations and creeds always found a harbor at this home. Like one of old; they kept a prophet's chamber. About this time a siege of cholera visited the settlement, bro't by people who contracted the disease on a Mississippi river steamboat. There were six or seven deaths and all were laid in the new burying ground. the Higbys and Mr. Stiles and family arrived at just this time.

In 1857 Mrs. Post built the National Hotel, the house which W.C. Thoma now occupies. At that time it was considered a very fine up-to-date hotel, surpassing any in the surrounding country. I remember hearing people say that Mrs. Post herself hauled -- from McGregor -- much of the lumber used in its construction. She ran the house for a few years after which there were a number of different proprietors -- Rob Barclay, Mr. Noble, Mrs. Post's son-in-law. Later Mr. VanHooser bought the property and kept the hotel several years.

Mrs. Post was a woman of strong temperance principles. She could never be induced to deal in liquor even though public sentiment was not against the business as it is today, and there was great opportunity for profit. I remember hearing her once tell the story of a man coming along who had a barrel of whiskey, or some kind of strong drink, which he urged her to buy and sell to patrons. She would not be persuaded to do so. He left the barrel on the wagon for the night, and when he found it empty in the morning, no one could explain the leakage. mrs. Post said she thought the liquor was less harmful on the ground than in men's stomachs. I dare say that when the man came that way again he was more watchful of his wet goods.

Mr. Hazelton, after Mr. Russell, was another early store keeper; also Webster and Stevenson. A little store on the corner of the Pearl Ellis lot was managed by George Hunt, a young man from New York; Mr. Loveland was proprietor; this was in '62 or '63. By this time several dwellings and shops had been built on the main street (the old Military Road) and stores had been enlarged and rebuilt. A frame school house was built in which all religious services and public meetings were held. I remember attending many war meetings, funeral services for soldiers who died or were killed in the war. One that was very impressive was the service after Lincoln was killed. Geo. Henderson, Judge Edmonds and others I cannot recall gave talks. It was a very sad occasion. People wept as it were for their own personal friends.

In 1864 the railroad was built, the first train arriving on the 8th day of August. I recall the day we came down to see what we had so long been waiting for -- the sight of a railroad train in Postville. First a box car, then a little board shanty for a depot. Business had received an impetus. The elevator was being built by the wealthiest men of the country -- General Lawler of Prairie du Chien and Diamond Joe Reynolds. When it was completed in 1864, it did a very large business, the payrool of its employees amounting to $500 per month; Mr. Purigo was superintendent and Hannibal Stone was secretary. Business continued to thrive so long as this was the terminus of the road; after that it was not so good. General Lawler once said to a man on the train as they were coming in sight of the elevator, that it was the monument of two -- fools. It has stood the wear and tear of business for over fifty years. Once it was set afire by an incondiary, but discovered in time to prevent its destruction. There have been many changes in methods of operation. First the huge boiler with wood as fuel; later coal was used; then the gasoline engine and now the electric power. We wonder what will be the changes in the next decade.

The first saloon was kept by a man named Pete Bowen -- that was after the railroad came. In early days there had been a saloon and brewery at Springfield, or Whiskey Hollow. In time they all came to Postville. Dr. Green came from Hardin; Mr. Glines also with his jewelry and repair shop. Mr. Peasley was a furniture dealer and his wife was a dressmaker. The first millinery store was started by Mrs. Schmitz, her husband having a harness shop in the same building, located where Frank Sebastian now lives. The first furniture store was run by Mr. Ingalls; Mr. Prescott later becoming his partner. N.W. Stiles was the first druggist, occupying the building now used as a poultry house. It was also a postoffice for a time. The Postville Review was established in 1873; the first issue being for March 19th. I well remember the interest taken in it by everyone. At a meeting of citizens the name for the new paper was discussed and decided on. Mr. McCormick was editor. Two years afterward he sold to Mr. Burdick. The first bank was established by Roberts Brothers in a corner of their store. It was known as the Roberts Bank. This was in 1877. It later became the Postville State Bank.

The town was incorporated March 11, 1873.


~notes: Mrs. Robert's history likely appeared in a local Postville newspaper, but no source was given on the microfilmed article
~source: microfilm # 985414, Salt Lake City--Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1976
~contributed by Roseanna Zehner
~transcribed by S. Ferrall


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