IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co. Misc. Historical Items

1865 Iowa state gazetteer

Allamakee co.

Extracted from the preface:
...this is the FIRST IOWA STATE GAZETTEER ever published, we have been careful to gather up all our information from the oldest and best informed citizens of each locality, many of whom have written for the book, placing us, and, indeed, the resident citizens, under great obligations for accurate information which otherwise could not have been readily obtained. We have also added a BUSINESS DIRECTORY of great value to the business community, which will be found mainly correct, as the names have been chiefly obtained by actual canvass. In some of the more distant and isolated paces, we are indebted to the Postmasters for the information required.....



Allamakee County

Occupies the extreme northeast portion of the State, being bounded on the north by Minnesota, and east by the Mississippi River. The entire surface of the county is more or less rolling, thus giving a pleasing variety to the landscape and good surface drainage to the soil. Though lying directly on the Mississippi River, the land lies high, rising almost perpendicularly about 400 feet from the shore, then gradually rising back, till at Waukon, near the centre of the county, it is 655 feet above the river level.

All the streams run in narrow valleys, hemmed in by abrupt bluffs, in altitude equal to the general level of the adjacent farming lands. They are very clear and pure, being formed entirely of springs, and abound with speckled trout. This prince of fish, which is not found south of this county, affords another proof of the sweetness and purity of Allamakee County waters. They are all rapid streams. Upper Iowa and Yellow Rivers, Hickory, Williams, Paint, Village, Coon, French, Silver, Patterson, Bear and Waterloo Creeks, afford immense numbers of very constant water powers, mostly unimproved.

The soil of the county is much varied. About one-third its area is prairie, hazel thickets and river bottom, consisting of a black loam from 20 to 40 inches in depth, light in texture, easily tilled, never wet, and of wonderful fertility. About one-sixth its area is burr oak openings, scarcely inferior to the prairie in richness. One-half its area is white oak and hickory openings, in which the soil is less in depth, lighter in color, heavier in texture, and producing somewhat less growth of corn and straw, but a finer quality of wheat than the prairie. Its chief deficiency seems to be in vegetable mould, consequently it responds well to the use of fertilizers, and under liberal treatment makes durable and valuable farms.

The manufactures in this county are few and unimportant. There are plenty of saw and grist mills, and a few small plow and wagon shops; but the great want of this county is extensive establishments for the manufacture of agricultural implements, such as reapers, mowers, threshers, plows, drags, fanning mills, drills, &c., &c., for which abundant water power and great tracts of convenient and suitable timber afford wonderful facilities. Choice water powers can be got for a song, and heavy timber, suitable for manufacturing purposes, convenient thereto, can be bought at 5 to 10 dollars per acre, and a market at the manufactory for all manufactures. The great increase of sheep husbandry will soon demand that our crystal streams shall no longer babble lazily over their pebbly beds in useless beauty, but that they shall be harnessed to the spindle and loom, and thus be made to yield a music no less pleasant than the unfettered stream, and a music that shall tell of our wives and daughters released from the drudgery of the spinning wheel and shuttle, and ourselves from the monopoly of railroads and steamboats, and speculators in wool.

Allamakee county, lying as it does on the Mississippi river, has a market there for all her surplus products, without the laborious cartage of inland counties; and more, she has direct access to the great pineries of Minnesota and Wisconsin, for lumber for fencing and building purposes.

This county has the usual school facilities of the State, and in addition the Allamakee College and Academy, at Waukon, the centre of the county, which gives such as choose a fine opportunity for the acquirement of a more thorough education than can be obtained in the common schools.

The climate is particularly inviting to immigrants from the north-eastern States and the British Provinces. The great elevation and rolling surface of our prairies render them free from those miasmatic vapors so prevalent in some western localities, consequently fever and ague is as much unknown on the high prairies here as it is in New Hampshire or Massachusetts; and furthermore, the dry, bracing air, peculiar to these localities, proves a sovereign preventive and sometimes cure of consumption, that scourge of New England. In fact, consumption is almost as uncommon here as yellow fever in New England.

Our soil is such as would gladden the heart of an eastern farmer. Corn grows on the same ground for a lifetime without manure, and without any perceptible decrease of crops. For wheat this is one of the best counties in the West. Potatoes, melons, cabbages and other garden "truck," are grown with astonishing ease; currants, gooseberries, strawberries, grapes and raspberries, flourish in the highest perfection. Plums of fair quality grow wild in unstinted abundance, and the apples of Iowa challenge the world. That the soil of Iowa is eminently adapted to the growth of fruits, no one will deny who is at all acquainted with the facts. In regard to the fruit growing qualities of the soil in this county we will give the opinion of a gentleman residing at Waukon, who has spent the best years of his life in fruit growing in a new country. He says: "I have an orchard of 1400 trees just coming into bearing, and a nursery of about 75,000 apple trees, in which I have acquired some very dear bought experience, and I have come to this conclusion: In growing apples, grapes and small fruits, Northern Iowa can compete with the other States most successfully, for we have never in twelve years had a spring frost to injure blossoms. We get hardly apples, and invite competition. The following are eminently successful and hardy: Red Astrachan, Red June, Tetofsky, Sweet June, Oldenburg, Alexander, Holden, Pippin, St. Lawrence, Baily Sweet, Jonathan, Fameuse, Winesap, English Golden Russet, Tahman Sweet, N. Spy, Rawles Jeanette.

WAUKON, the seat of justice for Allamakee County, is situated on a fine rolling prairie, 18 miles southwest from Lansing, and 28 northwest from McGregor on the Mississippi River, in the midst of one of the finest farming districts in the West. Seven unfailing springs welling up through the green turf of the prairie, first brought the emigrant to this spot. These springs still supply the village with water of crystal clearness, and in unstinted abundance; a boon of which the inhabitants are justly proud, and for which they are duly thankful.

The first settlement was made in the fall of 1849 by G. C. Shattuck, who occupied the land now covered by the village. In the spring of 1853 the county seat of Allamakee County was located here by State Commissioners, on account of its central position, handsome site, abundant water, convenient timber, and easy accessibility. The decision of the Commissioners was at once ratified by the people. Since then the place has increased with a healthy growth till now it contains about 900 inhabitants, 10 stores, 5 churches, a fine Court House, College, etc., etc.

The streets are straight, and a large number of shade trees have been planted; the houses are mostly painted white, and with generous gardens, are enclosed by neat fences that give the whole place a snug and homelike appearance. The first settler was G. C. Shattuck, who came in the fall of 1849; D. W. Adams, and L. T. Woodcock, came in 1853 and built and opened a store; C. J. T. Newel commenced blacksmithing, and A. J. Hersey, a store about the same time; W. R. Pottle, L. O. Hatch, and J. Israel, came a few months after. All these eight first settlers are now living and all living here, including the old pioneer Shattuck.

The chief manufactures are a steam saw-mill, grist mill, agricultural implement manufactory, with blacksmiths, harness makers, shoe makers, etc., etc., to supply the demand of an extensive farming country. The churches are Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic and Dutch Reformed.

Allamakee College, located here, is a fine brick structure, 50 by 70 feet, 3 stories high, under the charge of Professor Stone, and has at present about 200 students. This institution furnishes abundant educational facilities for the youth, and attracts a very superior class of settlers to both town and surrounding country. Few western towns are so highly favored in this respect as Waukon. Trade is good and grows with the growth of the country and development of its resources. This location is eminently healthy; its great altitude, pure water and freedom from marshes, exempts the citizens from ague, and purity of the atmosphere is highly favorable to consumptives. The writer of this article, (of a consumptive family,) left Massachusetts twelve years ago, very much debilitated with a cough of three years standing, and now - owing to prairie air and out-door habits - is enjoying robust health.

Altogether, Waukon claims a high place among villages for its beauty of location and taste in improvement, health, educational and religious privileges and general intelligence and morality of the people. It is a most desirable place for a residence for such as do not crave the noise and confusion of the metropolis.

LANSING is situated on the Mississippi River, one hundred miles north of DuBuque, and ten miles south of the State Line of Minnesota, at the mouth of a ravine about three-fourths of a mile wide. The river here has a bold shore, making a good landing for the largest class of boats. The first settlement was made in the winter and spring of 1852. Among the early settlers were John Haney, jr., W. Ballou, James I Gilbert, F. D. Cowles, J. W. Remine, G. W. Gray, G. W. Hays, A. L. Battles, I. B. Place, H. M. Travis and J. I. Taylor. The first male child born was Frank Cowles; the first who died was Fanny Haney. The first lawyer in the place was J. W. Remine; the first physician, J. I Taylor; and the first newspaper published was the Lansing Intelligencer, by W. H. Summer, commenced in the fall of 1852. Soon after the first settlement, bands of roving Indians infested the streets, making night hideous with their war songs and dances, and for several years they made annual pilgrimages to a burial ground situated near the town, where many of their deceased braves had been deposited years before. Here, for many nights in succession, they would form a circle around the dead and wildly chant their requiems.

The population of the town increased rapidly, business houses began to multiply, and all classes of mechanics sought this as a desirable place to locate. In 1862 a great portion of the business part of William street was consumed by fire, but was soon rebuilt - brick and stone taking the place of wood.

The town contains two establishments for the manufacture of lumber, sash, doors and blinds, etc.; one grain cradle factory, and plow and broom factories, and one flour mill; also one National bank; ten general, two dry goods, two drug, two jewelry, three hardware, and four clothing stores. There are seven church organizations, Congregational, Episcopal, German Methodist, Lutheran, Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic. There is also a fine graded school occupying a large and commodious stone edifice, and three halls. Masonic Hall occupied by Evergreen Lodge, No. 144; stated communications, Thursdays, on or after the full moon. Good Templar's Hall, occupied by Lansing Lodge, No. 196; meetings on every Friday evening. German Hall, occupied by the Gesang Verein; meetings on Tuesday evenings. Two weekly papers are published; the Weekly Union, by G. W. Haislet, and the North Iowa Journal, by J. G. Armstrong. Five hundred thousand bushels of grain were shipped from this point during last year. The supply of fruit is as yet small, but the farmers are now taking a deep interest in this branch, and from the great number of fine young orchards throughout the county, it is probable that fruit can be had in a short time in great abundance. Quarries containing different kinds of stone, from the soft sand stone to the hard granite are numerous, and supply an abundance of building material. Mount Hosmer, directly north of the town, rises 420 feet above the level of the Mississippi River. The view from its summit is not surpassed in beauty if equalled by any part of the Mississippi valley. Population, 2,000.

POSTVILLE is in the southwestern corner of the county, on the McGregor Western Railway, 25 miles from McGregor. It contains three churches, Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian; also three general stores and one drug store. Population, 200.

VILLAGE CREEK is in the eastern part of the county, on the Mississippi River. It has one Methodist Church, one general store, two flour mills, and one woolen manufactory. The township is well supplied with timber, and is well watered. Population, 180; township, 504.[may be 904]

HARPER'S FERRY is in the southeastern part of the county, on the Mississippi River. It has one flour mill and three general stores. The township is composed of good rich farming land, and is well settled. About fifty thousand dollars worth of produce is shipped from here annually. Population, 150; township 500.

ALLAMAKEE is in Fairview township, in the southeastern part of the county, and on the Mississippi River, eight miles above McGregor. It is an excellent steamboat landing, but is used chiefly as a wood point. The soil is good, especially adapted to wheat. There is a good water power here and plenty of timber. The place contains two churches, Methodist and Roman Catholic, and one stave factory, one barrel factory, one flour mill and one general store. Population, 100.

is in the southeastern portion of the county, seven miles from the Mississippi River. It contains two churches, Baptist and Methodist, and one general store. The Yellow River at this point affords good manufacturing facilities, which are as yet unemployed. Pop., 100.

WATERVILLE is in Paint Creek township, 18 miles from McGregor. It has a Lutheran Church, two flour mills and one general store. Population of township, 800.

FANDON is a post office in Jefferson township, 24 miles northwest of McGregor, on the stage route to Waukon. Population of township, 1,442.

The remaining post offices and villages are Capoli, Clear Creek, Cleveland, Dorchester, Elon, French Creek, Lybrand, Lycurgus, Makee, New Galena, Nezeka, Rossville, Union Prairie, Volney and Wilson's Ford.

- source: Iowa State Gazetteer : embracing descriptive and historical sketches of counties, cities, towns and villages, which include much valuable information respecting the agriculture, manufactories, commerce, educational and religious institutions, population and history of the state : to which is added a shippers' guide and a classified business directory of the manufacturers, merchants, professional and tradesmen of Iowa, together with their business address; by James T. Hair; Chicago: Bailey & Hair, 1865; pg 89-92, Allamakee County.

- transcribed by Anne K. Woodworth for Allamakee co. IAGenWeb

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