IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co. Misc. Historical Items

Allamakee county in 1869

Allamakee County Contained 30 Cities and Post Offices 60 Years Ago

“Hardly a person is now alive” who remembers Allamakee County in 1869, a thriving territory with some 30 towns located in various townships in the county, as revealed in an old platbook of Allamakee County published by Geo. E. Warner and C.M. Foot of Minneapolis apparently in 1882. The book is bound and is in the office of the county auditor.

Allamakee residents received mail through 30 post offices with stage coaches rattling through as often as the weather would permit and the “pony express” carrying the mail when the bogged trails would not permit the passage of the stage coaches. The “cities” such as Waukon, Postville, Lansing, Johnsonport, Waukon Junction and all those fortunate enough to be one the line were served by the railroad.

Such towns as Columbus, south of Lansing, Nezekah, Johnsonport, Lansing, Cleveland, Manchester, had post offices and were thriving communities with streets platted and public squares. Ion was a thriving city as were Myron, Lybrand, Postville, all in Post township. Village Creek, Howard Center and Milton were thriving “cities” being merged slowly together in Center township standing in spite of the ravages of two disastrous fires. The village Creek Woolen Mill was going strong struggling against damage by the floods from the stream, Village Creek.

Franklin township had such thriving town sites as Volney, Smithfield, and Hardin, the latter in the early fifties the most flourishing inland town in northeast Iowa. It was called “the gateway to Allamakee.” Smithfield had one of the first sawmills on the Yellow River, and at one time had six flour mills because it had excellent water power. Volney, another briskly thriving milling [illegible] was operating flour mills day and night in order to keep up with the brisk trade of the day. Forest Mills had a post office.

French Creek township centered around the town of French Creek at the mouth of the stream, with Mrs. A.M. Bellows, wife of the founder of the town, serving as postmaster. Her daughter-in-law maintained the post office until it was discontinued in 1903.

Hanover was the only town standing in Hanover township at the time of the publication of the map now in the office of the county auditor, but the township had post offices at Ferris Mills until that site was destroyed by the 1882 storm and New Galena, center of the lead mining district had been discontinued in 1861.

Iowa township’s center of civilation, New Albin, grew from the building of the Chicago, Dubuque and Minnesota railroad, now the Milwaukee.

In Waterloo township Quandahl and Dorchester were growing cities, each with a post office. At Dorchester were the Laugenbach four mills while Quandahl’s industry consisted of a flourishing creamery.

Taylor township had two of the country’s most important communities, Harpers Ferry and Waukon Junction at the time of the publication of the map. Harpers Ferry started as Vaitaville, and later changed to Winfield and then to Harpers Ferry in honor of its importance as a steamship port, and the important citizen, David Harper. Waukon Junction was comparatively a new settlement at the time of the publication of the most growing from the establishment of the C.D. and M. railroad.

Postville was noted as one of the leading cities of the county at the time of publication of the map, with the largest elevator in northeast Iowa. The town itself was incorporated in 1873, and was a very important business center on the McGregor Western Railway, with such men as “Diamond Jo” Reynolds, Hall Roberts, John Lawler, Liethold and [illegible] playing important parts in foundation of the city.

Lansing, at the time of the publication of the map by Warner and Foote, was a thriving city, with the steamer “Gray Eagle” and other steamboats making daily stops in the summer and mail services every day of the week, winter and summer. Lansing had grown from a town of 45 to more than a thousand persons at the time of the publication of the plat of the city. The map is marked by notations of Lansing’s water supply system with the well on Front street and the well on third street, site of the accident which resulted in the death of Captain Samuel Hemenway, one of the founders of the city. At the time, Lansing was known as one of the “gateways to the west.”

The plat shows Waterville, irregularly laid out due to its beginnings from the eviction of the Riley Ellis “grist mill” half mile below the present post office. At the time of Warner and Foote’s publication the town was a prosperous little community on the Waukon and Mississippi railroad.

Waukon is platted much the same as it is in the present form in the platbook published by Warner and Foote. The churches shown are on the sites they stand now, with the parochial school now standing and with an espocal church standing on the north edge of the city.

Mayor of the city at the time was A.G. Stewart, according to the publication by Warner and Foote.

Post offices were also listed at Dalby and Elon in Center township and Lycurgus in Makee township.

~Lansing Mirror April 26, 1939; Page 1 & Con’t on pg 3
~transcribed by Diana Henry Diedrich
~note: This article was very blurry and some places almost unreadable. There may be errors.


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