John Heery of Milton,
Wisconsin walked to the Shell Rock Valley, then back to
Dubuque, and on November 22, 1850, filed a claim, part
of which is now Heery Wood State Park. He thus became
the first landowner but was not among the first
settlers, because he did not return with his family
until the spring of 1852.
The first settler in the Clarksville area was Joseph
Hicks, who came from Rock County, Wisconsin in December
1850 and built a cabin on the north side of what is now
Sportsman's Park. Robert T. Crowell helped the Hicks
family move but returned to Wisconsin. He returned in
1852 and settled on a farm northeast of town. Mr. Hicks'
father Henry, who was a blacksmith, came the following
spring and filed a claim for 120 acres near his son.
That area at the time was called "Coon's Grove".
On September 16, 1851 Jeremiah Perrin arrived and
settled on the farm at the first bend of the road east
of town; now the Neal Stauffer home.
On July 6, 1852 the 32 family members of the Clark-
Poisal wagon train arrived here after traveling 28 days
from Indiana. They set up camp near what is now "The Old
Cemetery", decided to stay, built one large log cabin
for the whole group to live in, and prepared for the
winter. Thomas Clark soon traveled to Dubuque, the
nearest land office, and took out claims on a strip of
land four blocks wide and running south almost to the
river, from what is now Superior Street and east of what
is now Main Street.
In May of 1853, it was decided that enough people had
settled in Butler County to organize a County
Government, so three commissioners were sent here to
locate a spot for the County Seat. After, what would
seem some rather bizarre events, they drove "the stake"
for the site of the Butler County Court House in the
block where the old school stood, now post office,
library etc. It was agreed that this new village, which
didn't even exist yet, would be named Clarksville. To
set up the new government an election was held, but no
one ran for office, stating that "there was no money in
it." The town was surveyed and platted in August 1853,
but with no place to record it, they waited over a year
for the County government to finally be put in place. On
October 27, 1854 the Town of Clarksville was recorded,
just after the offices were opened.
The construction of the Courthouse was started in 1856
and finished in 1856 at a cost of $18,000. In 1860,
after considerable conflict, the County Seat was moved
to Butler Center. Ten years later in 1870, the local
school district bought the vacant building for $2,800
and turned it into a schoolhouse.
The town and surrounding area began to grow by leaps and
bounds as more and more people arrived, which included
both farmers and businessmen, who along with their
families, began their life on the new frontier.
Page Online: 25 Oct