DAVID W. WALTON
High on the list of Iowa’s pioneers appears the name of David W. Walton, for he was the first white settler in Cedar county, arriving here in the year 1835. He was born in New Jersey in 1789 and was a son of William and Ursula (Compton) Walton, natives of England. His youthful days were spent in New Jersey and in early manhood he learned and followed the blacksmith’s trade. Having arrived at years of maturity he wedded Miss Mary Parker of Cross Keys, New Jersey, near Trenton, and soon after their marriage they removed to Jackson county, Ohio, where Mr. Walton engaged in the milling business. He remained in that county for a few years, after which he took his family to Tippecanoe county, Indiana, where he remained for several years. He was there residing when he heard of the fertility of the Black Hawk Purchase and determined to ascertain the truth of the statement by personal investigation. Accordingly in the summer of 1835, accompanied by his son George, who was then nineteen years of age, he came to Iowa to assist his son-in-law and daughter, John and Eliza Miller, in their removal to what is now Muscatine county. Traveling over a considerable portion of the state, Mr. Walton determined to locate in Cedar county and chose a tract of land near a small stream, to which he gave the name of Sugar creek because of some sugar maples which he discovered upon its banks, two or three miles south of the place that he had determined to make his home. He staked out two claims on what is now the south half of section 15, township 79, range 2, and there erected a log cabin which became the pioneer home of the family in a district hitherto unoccupied by a white man. He at once began working the prairie that he might plant crops and thus provide for his family. Continuing his explorations in this part of the state, he named not only Sugar creek, but also Otter creek, Mud, Crooked and Elkhorn creeks, Burr Oak and Coon Groves. For a time he worked for Levi Thornton in a black-smith shop on what is now the Muscatine slough. This was in 1835.
Mr. Walton remained in Iowa until late in the fall of that year, after which he returned to Indiana to spend the winter. In the spring of 1836 he again came to this state, accompanied by his wife, five sons and two daughters. They were amply provided with all the necessaries for frontier life, including an excellent breaking team of four yoke of strong and heavy cattle, together with hogs, cows, horses, dogs and cats. They crossed the Mississippi river at Rockingham on the 1st of May, 1836, and soon arrived at the place which Mr. Walton had selected as his future home. Then began his actual and permanent settlement on the 10th of May, 1836, entitling him to the honor of being the first settler of Cedar county, while to Mrs. Walton belongs the credit of cooking the first meal ever prepared by a white woman in the county. During the season of 1836 the father and sons put under cultivation one hundred acres of land. The ground, which was broken in 1835, was planted in corn, also other ground was plowed immediately after their arrival and sowed to spring wheat, so that to the Waltons is due the credit of preparing the ground, planting, sowing and harvesting the first crops grown in Cedar county.
Mr. Walton is an excellent specimen of the hardy western pioneer, outspoken in his language but honest and straightforward in all his dealings. He therefore won the esteem and confidence of all who knew him. He was an ardent whig and was elected by that party in the contest of 1841 to the office of probate judge. He was frequently addressed by the title of colonel, to which he was entitled from the fact that he was appointed to the command of a regiment in the territorial militia in 1848 by Governor Dodge of the Wisconsin territory, of which Iowa then formed a part.
Mr. Walton resided in Cedar county for a number of years and worked at his trade of blacksmithing in connection with farming. In the winter of 1850 he took a trip on the Mississippi to hunt and trap and on his return by boat became afflicted with the dread disease cholera which was then prevalent and passed away just as his boat anchored at Muscatine on the 1st of May, 1850. His boat and effects were brought to his home and his grave was made in Sharon cemetery near the old claim which he had secured fifteen years before. His wife survived him until March, 1865, and was then laid to rest by his side.
Although none of his children are yet living in this county, some of his grandchildren are here found. His son, George Walton, sold his farm in Farmington township and with his family went to live in Texas, where he died in 1895. Another son, David, owned a large tract of land in Farmington township, which he sold in 1884, and then removed with his family to the vicinity of Miller, South Dakota, where he passed away in February, 1908. William Walton, another son, went to Montana and died in the Bitter Root valley several years ago. John Walton left this county at an early day and died in New Orleans. Mrs. Mary Alkire, the eldest daughter, came to Iowa a few years after the family had settled here and took up her abode in Wayne county, where she passed away. Mrs. Eliza Miller, another daughter, was an old settler of Muscatine county and after living there for a number of years sold her farm and spent her remaining days in Union county. Mrs. Catherine Miller, the third daughter, lived in Sugar creek township for a long period but spent her last years in Maquoketa, Iowa, her remains, however, being interred in Sharon cemetery near her old home. James C. Walton, the youngest of the family, lived continuously in Sugar Creek township for seventy-two years and passed away June 22, 1908, at the age of seventy-eight years. Such is the history of the oldest family of Cedar county.