IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co. Misc. Historical Items

The Postville Review, April 1882 carried the following article:

From Waukon Democrat--The Early Settlers' Association was held at Barnard Hall, March 15th, 1882. James DUFFY, president. Officers: L.E. HOWE, vice-president; Geo. M. DEAN, secretary; Geo. W. HAYS, treasurer; P.C. HUFFMAN, honorary member of the society. After business was taken care of, Mr. John S. BRYSON read the following history of his township, Paint Creek.......

History of Paint Creek Township

On the morning of the 8th of May, 1850, James BRYSON and family arrived at what was then called McGregor's landing, now the city of McGregor with teams and baggage and at once started for Garnavillo, the county seat of Clayton county, seeking a home. After resting him two days, they in company with part of Robert MOORE'S family who had made a claim on Paint Creek, started for Allamakee county following the trail by way of what in now Monona, then called Sodom in consequence of its wiskey trade with the Indians, then down Hickory Creek to Clark's ford on the Yellow river, then north to the "old stake" in Jefferson town ship now the farm owned by Elias PETIT, and short distance east of his house and down on to Paint Creek, where they camped May 11, 1850.

Mr. BRYSON located on sections 17 & 18 when Thomas and Robert MOORE and John GHRAIM had made claims about nine months previous while the Indians were yet camped there for their last winters hunt, this being a favorite hunting and camping place for them. They were gone when the BRYSON family came in, but the sketetons of their wigwams remained, and the brands and ashes of their camp fires showed that the new settlers occupied as the departed.

Five of the wigwams or teepees stood close by the finest spring on Paint Creek. this spring was covered with a blanket of moss from two to six inches thick, showing that it had been a camping spot for a long time and the wild deer dare not come to eat the moss, bu they did the first winter following. We cleared the most of this off the head of the spring and the water boiled up from ten to twelve inches flowing over the beautiful green moss as clean as a crystal and as cold as if it came through a mountain of ice.

We found here many flint arrowheads two tommy-hawks or hatchets, one dead Indian pony, and many buffalo and elk horns. The Indians had for years dug up the wild sod in the valley in patenes and raised a crop of what we called squaw corn, but we broke the first sod in what is now Paint Creek on the 15th of may 1850.

The government put the land into market at one dollar and a quarter per acre about the first of November following, and found us with more claimed than we had money to pay for, but Mr. William H. MORRISON who lived near the mouth of the creek, having ben appoint'd as agent to select a portion of the 500,000 acres granted by the General Government to Iowa for school purposes came around and we entered our claims as school lands; thus helped us as well as many more poor settlers by giving us time to get money and make our payments without submitting to the extortions of the land sharks, as the settlers called those who speculated in lands and reaped a rich harvest at the expense of the hard working pioneer.

In the summer of 1850 a large number of Norwegians came in from Wisconsin and settled on the prairie north of the creek among whom were Swen Enderson HELSA, Ole O. STORLA, Thomas ANDERSON, Lars KNUDSON, Nels TOLITSON, Ole SEVERSON and Bennett HARMONSON who lived in their canvass covered wagons until they could build something to get into, and the most of these families are well-to-do farmers in paint Creek today.

Theodore and John M--- and W. McCOY came in about the same time. James R. CONWAY, Reuben SENCEBAUGH and others came in very soon after and settled on the south side of the creek. In the summer of 1850 a family named ELLIS, from Linn county, Iowa, came in a selected mill sites on the creek at what is now Waterville and near what is now BEUMER's mill and one of the , Riley ELLIS, located a mill site just around the bend below Waterville, known as Peter IVERSON's mill, where he put a pair of two foot French burr mill stones on a few logs built over the creek which were kept running all winter cracking corn for all who came. These burrs stodd out of doors, and the next spring, '51, they, were inclosed, and a small bolt of book muslin was attached for making buck wheat flour. Then we lived sumptously, substituting buck wheat cakes and wild honey for our former diet of pork and corn dodgers and people came from all quarters with their little grists and in all sorts of conveyances, some from what is now Waukon, some form the Iowa river. It was here I first saw Scott SHATTUCK, late from California, and when I first saw he held in one hand a piece of raw pickled pork and corn dodger, and in the other hand a larg eknife with which he was cutting alternate slices of each for his luncheon. This was the first grist mill ever built in the county if it had capacity enough to be called a mill. I run this mill most of the time the first eight months.

During this year, 1851, Nathan'l BEEBE commenced getting out timbers for what is now known as the Waterville mill, and Colonel SPOONER and Mr. CARPENTER came in and joined him, and the mill was built, and started in the winter of 1852 & '53. They also opened a store in the spring of 1853 near the mill.
In the spring of 1851, Thomas B. TWIFORD, of county seat notoriety, and William McCOY built the Thomas ELLIS' saw mill about 3 quarters of a mile above where BEUMER's mill now stands and it did a good business untill 1860.

By this time many settlers had come in, the Norwegians generally settling on the north side of the Creek, the Irish on the south side with a few Americans and other nationalities sprinkled in and among them, but the larger percent of settlers were "of foreign" birth. (continued next week)

Old Settlers' Association, procedings continued from last week:
The county records fail to show when the township was organized by the election of township officers, but there is an entry on them dated Dec. term 1853, as follows: Paint Creek township organized so as to conform to the congressional township of town ninety seven, range four. The trustees gave the town ship its present name and the records show the first elefction to be held in Riley ELLIS' mill where the corn cracker was August second, 1852, James BRYSON, George WATKYNS and Reuben SENCEBAUGH, being the judges of the election, and William McCOY and Thomas G. ELLIS were the clerks. The oaths were administered to the clerks by James BRYSON and to the judges by William McCOY. The trustees appointed William McCOY township clerk. These are the earliest dates our records show. The next election was held on the first Tuesday in November 1852 and was the Presidential election. The third election was held on the fourth of April 1853, and is the first record I find of the election ot township officers, being for trustees, James BRYSON, Andrew MITCHELL and Reuben SENCEBAUGH; for clerk William McCOY; for assessor James BRYSON; for constables John BRYSON and John STULL; for justices of the peace James BRYSON and Reuben SENCEBAUGH. At this election there were cast for the county seat, fifty-eight votes of which Columbus had forty-nine, and Waukon nine. The trustees held two meetings in the winter of '52 &'53, one to appraise and divide section sixteen, and the other to divide the township into road districts, doing their work so well that the districts remain the same to this date.

In 1856 Mr. James BEEBE built a large frame hotel in Waterville, capable of accommodating all the guests that a town on one thousand inhabitants would furnish, but it failed for want of patronage, and its builder is now in New Mexico. In 1857 was organized in this hotel the Prairie du Chien and Mankato Rail Road Co., with Hon. John T. CLARK, now of Postville, as President. The object was to build a railroad from the Mississippi river at Johnson port connecting there with the rail road from Prairie du Chien and running up the creek to Waukon, thence west to Calmar and on to Austin, St. Paul and Mankato, Minn. Engineer Wm. W. HUAGERFORD was the active man in the enterprise, and devoted considerable time to it, making surveys and locating the line from the starting point on the river, to the state line in Howard county. The most of the resident right of way on the entire line was secured and about $40,000 in subscriptions and donations to the capital stock were secured. The enterprise failed, the extension being made via Bloody Run and Monona, in Clayton County.

In the spring of 1857, SPOONER and BEEBE started at Waterville the first tannery ever built in the county. They purchased a recipe for tanning with Japonica and using it with hot liquor, thus tanning the hides in a few days so that they could put it on the market and get returns quicker than the old ways of tan bark and cold water. They ran this business about two years, but it not proving profitable, they abandoned it.

-source: Postville Review, April 1882 issues
-contributed by S. Ferrall

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