April 18, 1859
We came hither from Clayton, in the Pembina, Capt.
Thomas H. Griffith, commander. She is new, having run
but one season, and is second to no boat in the
Northern Line, in beauty or speed. Everything about
her is clean, wholesome and comfortable. Her officers
are more courteous than, latterly, we find the
officers of any other line. The St. Louis boats are
very popular at all the ports at which we have
halted. The directors of the Northern Line of
Steamers, running between St. Louis and St. Paul
have, we understand, given directions to their agents
at Dubuque, Guttenberg, Clayton and other points in
that neighborhood, to take passengers, on the opening
of the lake, to St. Paul for two dollars, the same as
we paid on a Dubuque Packet three days ago, to get to
Lansing, the largest village in Allamakee couty, is
pleasantly located near the mouth of Clear Creek (aka
Coon Creek). It has a fine out-let to the country at
the west, through a ravine on either side of which
tower ambitious bluffs. Those to the northward rise,
at one point, called Mount Hosmer, to the height of
412 feet. From the apex of that mount, which was
named for the sculpturess who climbed it at an early
day -- one gets a grand view of the country, better
even than at Bellevue, of which we recently had
occasion to speak. Points to the northward, said to
be more than fifty miles distant, are seen with the
The original proprietors of the site of Lansing, were
H.H Houghton, Esq., and John Haney. Mr Houghton is
the present editor and proprietor of the Galena Daily
Advertiser; and the earliest settlers were
Willard Ballou, John Haney, and W.L. Garrison. They
came here in the early part of 1848, immediately
after the Winnebagoes, by treaty stipulations had
vacated the coutry -- then known as "neutral
ground". The place made but little progress for
four or five years, it having but seven or eight
houses in in 1852. It began to grow somewhat briskly
in 1853, and has had a steady growth ever since. We
believe the town has never been inflated. Property is
now selling at highter figures for cash, we are told,
than ever before. The population of the village, as
we learn from Mr. Wm. H. Burford, the Assessor, is
984. The number of voters in the township of Lansing
The village has seven general variety stores, and
most of them are well filled. Their proprietors are
George Kemble, Geo W. Hays, J.J. & D.L. Shaw,
Henry Nielander, Herman Schierholz & Co., Gustav
Kerndt & Brothers, I.B. Place, and Wm. C. Macbay.
The forwarding and commission merchants are G.W. Gray
& Co., W.D. Morgan, Henry Nielander, Herman
Schierholz & Co., and George W. Hays; the
druggists, J.W. Merrill and Amos W. Purdy; the
bookseller and stationer, Amos W. Purdy, who is also
the Postmaster; the hardware dealer, R.P. Spencer;
the hollow-ware dealers and tin smiths, R.P Spencer,
and Gustav Kerndt & Brothers; the furniture
dealers, Woodmansee & Davis, and G..W. Hays;
banker, G.W. Gray; boot and shoe dealers, Charles E.
Woodbury, and Riley & Pottitt; clothier, G.
Miles; watchmaker and jeweler, L.M. Elmendorf; plow
makers, Loh & Irle; machinist, John Reith;
bedstead and furniture makers by steam, H.M. Travers
& Co.; grain cradle manufacturers, and dealers in
agricultural tools, H.H. Hemenway & Co.; broom
manufacturers, Gustav Kerndt & Brothers. There is
a good supply of wagon makers and all the more common
kinds of mechanics.
The lumber trade is quite an item in the business of
this place. The dealers in the article are Shaw,
Johnson, Wood & Co., and James I. Gilbert. S.J.W.
& Co. have a superior steam saw mill. Haney,
Houghton & Co. have a grist mill on Clear Creek a
mile and a half west of the village, where there is
excellent water power. The creek is only four miles
long and is formed by eleven springs. Other water
power in the vicinity of the grist mill, is
Good brick is manufactured here, and stone for
building purposes towers to mountainous heights and
overlooks the village.
Lansing has four churches; Methodist, H.W. Houghton,
pastor; Congregational, G. Bent, pastor; Episcopal,
James Bentley, rector; and Catholic, who have
preaching once a month. All have houses of worship
but the Episcopalians.
The physicians of the place are John J. Taylor, W.M.
Perkins and A.H. Houghton; the lawyers, George W.
Camp, Samuel H. Kinne and L.H. Howe.
The Lansing House, American, Mississippi and Farmers'
House, are the public houses; the first two being
American, and the German. Messrs. J.W. Bates &
Brother, of the excellent Lansing House, are also
dealers in stock. They own the famous trotting
stallion "Emperor," which is nearly sixteen
hands high, and weighs eleven hundred pounds. He is
of a golden chestnut color, and of good pedigree.
They also own Young Black Hawk "Vermont," a
son of old Black Hawk, and a splendid jet black
animal, recently from Vermont, whence a great deal of
fine blooded stock finds its way into the West. Bates
& Brother have a full-blooded Morgan gelding, a
solid piece of horse flesh, worth at least a thousand
dollars. He has repeatedly made his mile in the
"thirties." We understand he is for sale.
These gentlemen are doing their part to improve the
breed of horses in Allamakee county. they have also
some fine specimens of Suffolk hogs and of Brahma
fowls. We are pleased to note these efforts to
introduce the best of stock of various kinds into
Messrs. Bates & Brother are anxious to sell their
tavern stand and to give their whole attention to
farming. They would sell either for cash or land and
stock -- a rare opportunity for somebody who wishes
for a good location as hotel-keeper.
Mr. John Haney has a small orchard of apple trees,
which are doing finely. They bore well last year, and
bid fair to do better this. The orchard is within ten
rods of the Mississippi.
The Mirror, the Republican organ of
Allamakee county, is published here, by H.R.
Chatterton, Esq., an enthusiastic worker for his
From Lansing northward, for a long distance, the
channel of the river is on the East side, affording
no place for a town on the West side of the stream
for more than thirty miles. This circumstance gives
Lansing no inconsiderable amount of trade from
Southern Minnesota, and hence the importance in part,
of the place.
April 19, 1859
Our last evening at Lansing was spent at a Temperance
meeting, where we heard a well written lecture on the
Causes of Intemperance and its Remedies, by L.H.
Howe, Esq., a young lawyer of that place. Six or
eight months ago, a promising young member of the
Lansing bar, a man beloved by the whole community,
died of delirium tremens. His premature death from
the too free use of intoxicating liquors, produced a
great sensation. A temperance society was formed
immediately. Weekly meetings were held during the
winter, and monthly are now held. At each of these
meetings some citizen of Lansing usually reads a
short lecture, which is followed by other
miscellaneous exercises. The result of this movement
is that drunkards have been reclaimed, and most of
the whisky venders, for want of patronage, have been
obliged to abandon their avocation. One of them
recently broke into the Post Office there and rifled
the mail bags. He was taken to jail at Decorah,
Winneshiek county, and with four other
"birds," has since taken wing, and is still
at large. His name is William Faulkner.
Waukon is a prairie village, though in the vicinity
of timber. It is at the head of Paint Creek, thirteen
miles west and six south of Lansing. It is young, and
glitters like a gem. Almost every house and store is
new, or looks new, and is painted white. The large
school house and the only church erected, Cumberland
Presbyterian, are of the same color. A large number
of the houses have picket fences around them painted
white, with gardens in front. In short, Waukon looks
like a New England village, which the tasteful people
had forgotten to build until recently, and were just
finishing off the first year's growth. A glance at
the town will convince the stranger that he is in the
midst of an enterprising and refined people.
The first settler in Waukon was George C. Shattuck,
who came hither from Dubuque county in the summer of
1850. He is a native of Ontario county, N.Y., and is
a very worthy man.
The county seat was located here in the fall of 1853,
and still remains here -- though two attempts have
been made to have it removed. Waukon is fifteen miles
from the Mississippi river and six and a half miles
from the line of Winneshiek county. In a north and
southward direction, it is near the geographical
center of the county. there is so much strife to get
county seats removed in Northern Iowa, that we take
the liberty of suggesting that, hereafter, all county
buildings be constructed on wheels and thus made
Waukon has one banker, Walter Delafield; one grocer,
Moses Hancock; three general mercantile dealers, W.
Beale, W.R. Pottle, and W.S. Cooke; one druggist and
bookseller, R.C. Armstrong; one boot and shoe firm,
Howard & Hersey; one house dealing in stoves and
tin-ware, Low & Bean; two jewelers; two tailors;
two blacksmiths; two wagon makers, two cabinet
makers, and one harness maker.
Mr. William C. Earle has a steam saw mill, with a
planing machine attached. He does a variety of
The hotels of Waukon are the Nicholas House, kept by
Sylvester Nichols, and the City Hotel, V. Dunlap,
The Allamakee Herald is published at the
county seat. It is Democratic in politics. Its editor
and proprietor is Frank Pease, Esq. who has kindly
made us acquainted with many citizens of this place.
Waukon has five churches, Baptist, L.M. Newell,
pastor; Presbyterian, J.C. Armstrong, pastor;
Methodist Episcopal, W.E. McCormick, pastor; and
Wesleyan Methodist and Universalist, the last two
having no pastor.
We find here five lawyers, John T. Clark, L.O. Hatch,
Richard Wilber, M.M. Webster, and Frederick M. Clark;
and two physicians, J.W. Flint and I.H. Hedge.
The School Directors of the township are Moses
Hancock, President; C.J. White, Vice President; A.G.
Howard, Secretary, and William K. McFarland,
Among other improvements here, fifty rods of sidewalk
are being put down; A.J. Hersey is erecting a block
of three stores; Shattuck & Woodcock are putting
up a large store, with a stone basement and heavy
columns in front, and Mr. R.C. Armstrong, the
Postmaster, is putting up a two-story brick house. A
few smaller houses are being built. The Methodist
Episcopal people have just voted to erect a house of
worship this year. In short, Waukon is progressing
faster, we believe, than any other small village in
Northern Iowa. Its population is a little less than
six hundred. Most of its growth has been during the
last two years. It bids fair to become a smart,
though never a great inland city. The country around
it is very fertile.
The people of Waukon are sanguine that the Prairie du
Chien and Mankato Railroad, which has been surveyed
to Otranto, in Mitchell county, a distance of
ninety-two miles, will be built in a short time. The
right of way has been secured most of the way, and
the contracts, we are told, are to be let next fall.
This road will leave the Mississippi at Johnson's
Landing, in Allamakee county, and run through Waukon
and Decorah. At Otranto it is to intersect the road
through the Cedar Valley.
Allamakee is probably as well watered as any county
in this part of the State -- though not by so many
large streams as some counties. The Upper Iowa, the
largest river which flows through it, waters with its
numerous little tributaries, the two northern tiers
of townships, and empties into the Mississippi ten
miles north of Lansing. Coon Creek, formed by eleven
springs, runs four miles and empties into the
Mississippi at Lansing. Village Creek rises in the
western part of the county, near Waukon, and empties
into the Mississippi at Capoli (aka Colombus) one
mile south of Lansing.
Wexford Creek runs through the township of Lafayette
and empties into the Mississippi a few miles south of
Capoli, in Paint Rock Slough. Paint Creek has its
head waters in Springs at Waukon, and running through
Jefferson, Paint Creek, a corner of Taylor and
Fairview townships, empties into the Mississippi at
Allamakee, or Johnson's Landing. Yellow River runs
through the four southern townships, and with its
little affluents, waters them abundantly.
The Upper Iowa and most of its branches are well
timbered, largely with oak. The Yellow river is noted
for its excellent walnut, linn and elm. There is
timber on all the creeks.
Aside from Lansing and Waukon, the principal villages
are Rossville, Milton, Dorchester, New Galena,
Hardin, (partly in Clayton county), Ion, Postville,
Waterville, and Capoli. The last four or five places
mentioned are very small. Rossville has two or three
hundred people, a steam flouring mill, a steam saw
mill, two stores, and two hotels.
Milton, which place we may visit on our return, has
three water flouring mills on Village creek; several
saw mills; two stores; two hotels; a large school
house, used for church purposes on the Sabbath; and
between two or three hundred inhabitants. it is four
miles from Lansing.
The loveliest site for a town in Allamakee county, is
conceded to be Winfield, (Wexford Post office) in
Taylor township, on the Mississippi, fourteen miles
south of Lansing by land, and about the same
distance, we believe, north of McGregor. The levee is
natural, with a pretty grade, and the village plat --
thirty feet, perhaps, abouve the river -- is as level
as a house floor, with a sprinkling of threes to
decorate it. The bluffs at that point retreat a
considerable distance from the river. Half a mile
from the landing is a spring stream, of sufficient
bulk for hydraulic purposes, and a fall of twenty-two
feet in a distance of forty rods. The proprietors of
the town are Daid Harper, who resides in the place,
and E.W. Pelton, of Prairie du Chien. Mr. Harper is
Postmaster and one of two merchants of the village --
if village it can now be called. There are not more
than half a dozen dwelling houses on the site of the
A plow and wagon shop is about to be erected, and
other improvements are under contemplation. On so
beautiful a site for a village, we should rejoice to
see one rise.
April 28, 1859
We are once more progressing towards home. Thus far
in our travels on the Mississippi, we have chosen
boats connected with the Northern of St. Louis line.
The officers are courteous and obliging and are doing
much to make the line popular.
In our notes on Allamakee county, last week, we
hinted that, on our return, we might visit Milton.
This we have done, and find it a quiet little
village, in a lovely little valley, reminding us of
the happy spot so charmingly described by Johnson in
the story of "Rasselas." The village
contains about one hundred and seventy inhabitants,
and is located on Village Creek, three miles from its
mouth, and four miles from Lansing. the first settler
was Jesse M. Rose, who came hither in the autumn of
1851, and built the first grist mill -- excepting
corn crackers -- in the county. He is the father, so
to speak, of the mills in Allamakee, he having built
five in the county. Among the other early settlers
were O.S. Conkey and Peter Valentine, both, like Mr.
Rose, influential men of the place.
We find here three grist mills, the proprietors being
Jesse M. Rose, Peter Valentine, and A. Deremore.
These mills are all on Village Creek, which is a
remarkable stream. It rises near Waukon; has its
origin entirely in springs, and though but fourteen
miles long, has sixteen or seventeen good water
powers. We have seen but few springs more copious and
none more lovely in the State. The water is as clear
as crystal, and in several places the sand on the
bottom of the stream is almost as white as chalk. The
most inveterate toper must love water -- if he should
sojourn in this valley during the dog days.
Milton was formerly known as Village Creek, and the
latter is still the name of the Post office. James
Erickson, Esq., is the Postmaster. David Sidey and
Thomas Engleby are the merchants. Mr. Erickson has
the only shoe shop in the place. there is a harness
maker, a gunsmith, a shingle maker, two blacksmiths,
a wagon maker, and a cabinet maker -- all the
mechanics we find here. A tinsmith would probably do
well. the Valley Temperance House is the only hotel
One public school is kept here eight or nine months
in the year. The church organizations are Methodist,
Episcopal, and Independent Methodist, Eldridge Howard
and S.H. Greenup supply the desk of the former
society, and Peter Valentine the latter. All three
are local preachers. One is a farmer, one a miller,
and one a hotel keeper, and all are hard workers
manually. Mr. Howard was on the circuit for several
years, and left it on account of ill health. He is a
hospitable man and a highly esteemed citizen. There
is neither a lawyer nor physician in Milton. One
medical man, we should think, would do well.
Where wigwams and Indian corn fields stood ten years
ago, Milton, hidden from the world by high bluffs on
two sides, obscure and unknown is slowly rising. It
may one day be a large village for some of its best
water power is unimproved. Other mills, a cloth
factory, &c., will no doubt, be built here at no
very remote period.
Three miles below this village, at the mouth of
Village Creek, and one mile south of Lansing, is
Capoli, known to all Mississippi boatmen and
tourists, as Columbus. It was settled ten years ago,
but has not progressed much, having less than a dozen
families. Mr. W.C. Thompson, the first permanent
settler, still remains. His brother, John C.
Thompson, is a cabinet maker and a daguerreotypist, a
mechanical genius, and almost alone in the
manufacturing business. Peter Valentine, of Milton,
has a steam saw mill there; Wolcott & Conkey, a
storage, forwarding and commission house, and Mr.
Wolcott, a hotel.
When Allamakee county was organized, the seat of
justice was located at Columbus. It was removed to
Waukon in 1853. The name of Capoli was substituted
for Columbus in 1857. It has a good landing, and the
citizens are sanguine that a town will yet rise
there. The people of Waukon, have some interest
there, and in connection with the forwarding
merchants of Capoli, are about to erect a warehouse.
It is thought that a ferry will soon be established
between Capoli and the mouth of Rush Creek, on the
other side of the river, and a mail route through
Capoli to Waukon.