The town above named, is the county-seat and principal town in Cass county. It now has over three thousand inhabitants, and has a large and varied industry, as the business directory given on another page will show.
The name of the town was suggested by E. H. Johnson, chief engineer of the C. R. I. & P. R. R. and was adopted by the railroad and town companies, for the reason that there was thought to be no other town in the country bearing that name.
Atlantic was surveyed and laid out in October, 1868. The town site was owned by B. F. Allen, F. H. Whitney, John P. Cook, and others. Mr. Whitney did the surveying we believe, and has acted as the agent and manager for his partners comprising with himself the town company, from the beginning of the building of the town.
The first house was built in October, 1868, on the south-east corner of Chestnut and Sixth Streets, where the building used for a court house now stands, by Henry Miller. The house was one story and-a-half in height, and contained four rooms. It now stands on Seventh Street and is a part of the residence of Romeo Lawrence. Other buildings were put up in 1868, as follows: S. T. McFadden's drug store, where Geo. Conrad's brick building is now; Montgomery & Wynkoop's drug store, north-east corner of 5th and Chestnut Streets; W. W. Parker built the house now occupied by S. N. Havens; Southwick built the building now owned and occupied by T. J. Luccock; E. O. Hoyt built a residence on Walnut Street, now known as the Tingle House; E. E. Herbert built a residence; Needles & McWaid opened a blacksmith shop on Walnut Street; P. Carney put up a wooden structure on Cushing & Palmer's corner; F. H. Whitney opened an office on the south-east corner of Chestnut and Front Streets; work was begun on the Atlantic (now Reynolds) House by John Bennett & Son; Getchel & Tichenor started a lumber yard on the lots now occupied by Whitney's elevator.
The C. R. I. & P. R. R. delivered no freight of any kind for the public until January 1869, consequently the first buildings were either built of native lumber, or of pine lumber hauled from Casey. The railroad station was not opened for business until February 1, 1869. Wm. Reynolds, Jr., was the first agent, being succeeded by W. H. Parker in 1871.
The year 1869 was a prosperous and progressive year for the embryo city. During that year the place had a wonderful growth. Very many of the most successful business men located in the town that year, some of them coming from Lewis and Grove City, and a large number from other parts of the State and from other States.
Among the earliest business men, who are still here, might be named Stafford & Hawks, Winslow & Parker, Geo. Conrad, J. C. Yetzer, Childs & Reinig, J. R. Reynolds, Jas. Tumbleson, W. K. Straight, S. T. McFadden, Richards & Montgomery, Isaac Dickerson, Wm. Waddell, E. O. Hoyt, Thos. Fox, V. O'Bryan, R. Lea, H. C. Johnson, Dr. J. H. Barnwell, T. J. Luccock, Theo. Cushing, C. B. Osborne, C. Thurman, John Yager, S. F. Martin, W. T. Walker, John Beatty, Nels Wood, J. H. Needles, J. A. McWaid. These business men all pitched their business tents in the place in 1869, excepting a few of the number who came in the winter of 1868.
The first postmaster was S. T. McFadden, who was succeeded in 1870 by the present incumbent, V. O'Bryan.
The pioneer Attorney of the place was H. T. Sharp, who arrived in December, 1868. J. T. Hanna came soon in 1869 and he and Mr. Sharp formed a co-partnership. Early in 1869 H. Temple and Julian Phelps, then of Lewis, opened a branch law office here, and soon made this their principal office. J. W. Brown and H. E. Griswold, also of Lewis, opened a branch law office here, and soon made this their principal office. J. W. Brown and H. E> Griswold, also of Lewis, did the same at about the same time. C. F. Loofbourow, who had opened a law office in Grove City, came over to Atlantic early in 1869. R. G. Phelps and L. L. DeLano were the last attorneys to desert Lewis, which they did later in the year 1869. A. S. Churchill came in 1869. The other members of the Atlantic bar, whose names appear in the business directory have located here in years subsequent to 1869.
The first physician was Dr. Sanders, who died a few years ago. The next were Dr. J. H. Barnwell and Dr. G. S. Montgomery, who removed from Grove City in 1869. Dr. Richards also came in that year. The other physicians have come in later years.
The first banking house was opened by Loring and Bennett in 1869. They built up a large business, and were for a time influential men. In December, 1870, they "jumped the town" leaving depositors to mourn over much missing money. It is presumed they are in South America. In 1870 the Cass County Bank was founded by Isaac Dickerson, John Keyes and J. C. Yetzer, with Wm. Waddell, as cashier. In 1871 F. H. Whitney opened a private bank, which he soon changed to a National Bank. In 1876 he relinquished his charter and changed again to private banking. In 1874 Smith & White built a banking house and opened a private bank. Mr. Smith withdrew and his partner, H. F. White continued the business until the summer of 1875, when he failed, causing some losses to depositors. Recently John McDaniels has opened a private bank, with Clinton McDaniels as cashier.
The first newspaper printed in Atlantic was the Cass County Messenger, by H. C. Johnson, who removed his office from Lewis in the spring of 1869. The paper is now called the Atlantic Messenger, the publishers being Johnson & Willey. The second paper was called the Dailey Free Press and was established in the summer of 1869 by Upham & Sibley, E. O. Upham being the editor. In July or August, 1870, the paper suspended. In February, 1871, Lafe Young established the Atlantic Telegraph, which he continues to publish. In the spring of 1876, a new cylinder, press and steam engine were put into the office. In May, 1874, D. M. Harris, established a Democratic paper called the Cap Sheaf which he conducted until the fall of 1875, when he sold the office to James Pugh, who started a temperance paper called the Northwestern Journal. The Journal lived until the spring of 1876, when it was suspended. Shortly after the suspension of the Journal, the material was used in reviving the Cap Sheaf, by J. A. Crawford and others. The revived paper lasted but a few weeks. December 1st, 1876, Goldie Bros. & Collins took possession of the office and started the Atlantic Democrat, with Charles Collins as editor, which lived just three months.
S. E. Huse was the first Justice of the Peace, being appointed in 1869. He held the office but a short time.
At the general election in October, 1869, Atlantic won the county-seat from Lewis. The vote stood: for Atlantic, 618; for Lewis, 275; majority in favor of Atlantic, 343. The county offices were moved from Lewis to Atlantic in December, 1869. The main contest over the county-seat matter, and the main excitement, was at and previous to the June meeting of the Board of Supervisors, when that body was asked to order a vote on the question of removal. For weeks before the Supervisors met men were scouring the county with petitions and remonstrances, and there was not a man in the county but what had signed one or the other, and some vertebrateless fellows had signed both.
February 8, 1871, Atlantic suffered her first serious loss by fire. On that night several buildings located where the Conrad and Huse brick buildings are now were destroyed, as follows:
S. T. McFadden, druggist, building $2,000, stock $5,000, stock mostly saved. P. Kirby, boot and shoe dealer, building $900, stock $3,500. Geo. W. Barber, jeweler, lost a building, stock mostly saved. Stafford & Hawks, dry goods dealers, lost very largely of their stock. McGrew & Loofbourow, lost a building worth $1,500. J. B. McGrew, lost in grocery stock $500. Buildings belonging to King Bros. and Mr. Green were also destroyed, that belonging to the first named parties being the house occupied by Stafford & Hawks. J. H. Barnwell, M. D., and C. F. Loofbourow, attorney lost books and papers of considerable value. Miss Lucy Allman, photographer, lost goods pertaining to the photographic art, to the amount of $150 probably.
Tuesday, July 18, 1871, about 5 p.m., a rain and hail storm passed across Cass county, from the northwest to the southeast, doing a great deal of damage to crops. The storm belt was about five miles wide. In Atlantic, the damage to buildings was severe. A new brick store room, just up and enclosed, belonging to Stafford & Hawks, was blown down. Its size was 23 x 80 feet. D. F. Hawks and A. D. Boyd, were in the building at the beginning of the storm, trying to put boards up in front to protect the plastering. Mr. Hawks escaped without injury, but Mr. Boyd was struck on the head by a falling pillar, and considerably injured. He recovered. John Lawson, a Swede workman, was buried in the ruins, but was taken out and found to be not seriously injured. The new Presbyterian church was damaged to the amount of $500. Much damage was done to property in town by the breaking of window glass. The storm was very unusual, none like it ever having occurred in this section before or since.
T. J. Byrd, was a Justice of the Peace in Pymosa township, about ten years, and was holding that office when the town of Atlantic was started in 1868. In the fall of that year Mr. Byrd solemnized the first marriage, that ever took place in the town. The bride and groom were a couple of Danes, who could speak and understand English very imperfectly. The marriage took place in a little upstairs room on Walnut Street, which was almost the only house on the street. The "court" kissed the bride, who seemed to be as happy as a queen. Ten days later she died suddenly with heart disease.
The first school house was built in Atlantic in 1870 at a cost of $11,000. It is a large brick structure. The second house was built in 1875 at a cost of about $7,000, and is equal to the first one although costing less. The schools of the city have been well conducted in the past, and have fitted many of the rising generation for future usefulness. There are in the city about 700 children of the school-going age. A Very large corps of teachers is employed, and good wages are paid.
The first grain elevator was built in the winter of 1870-1 by Applegate & Kelly, the material being removed from LeClaire, Iowa.
In March, 1875, the Atlantic flouring mill, being then owned by a company, was destroyed by fire. The establishment was re-built the same year by G. W. Norton and A. A. Lincoln. Mr. Norton was one of the former owners. The town has been comparatively free from losses by fire.
For statistics concerning the churches and benevolent societies of the place, see pages 61-68.
From the History of Cass County, Iowa Together With Brief Mention of Old Settlers
by Lafe Young, Atlantic, Iowa: Telegraph Steam Printing House, 1877, pg. 111-115.
Transcribed for Cass County by Cheryl Siebrass, July, 2013.