Clinton in 1870

SOURCE: The Clinton Weekly Herald, July 14, 1870

Its Location -- Present Description -- Growth of the Town -- Its Attractions -- Advantages -- Resources -- Manufactoring -- Lumber Interests -- Schools -- Churches -- and Business Prospects

 How fully their predictions have been verified we leave you to judge, after having persued this home sketch.

Among the first improvements of the embryo city was a church and a school house, and the next was one of the crowing efforts of the Land company toward the building of the city, namely: the erection of the Iowa Central House.  They surely intended to offer hotel privileges, if nothing more.  These improvements naturally led others to inquire into the future prospects of the place and all came to the same conclusion after the second thought.  Building lots were sold and permanent growth commenced.  It is necessary to state that this growth was sustained upon the supposition that a railroad would soon be built from this point westward.  Indeed, much was said about it and the excitement ran higher than do railroad excitements now-a-days.  A project was set on foot and a road (the Mississippi & Iowa Central) was being rapidly graded.  But a railroad commencing in a town of less than two inhabitants, with no eastern connection, and running west somewhere or nowhere, proved a poor speculation, and the project failed for want of capital and brains.  Of course, all this had a damaging effect upon the fair prospects of the young town, and improvements ceased entirely for a time.  Yet this was but a passing cloud that should soon pass over, when the sun of the town's destiny should shine forth brighter than ever. Several like projects had failed, and it seemed that the hopes of our people had left them entirely, when, on the 26th day of January, 1856, the Chicago, Iowa & Nebraska company was formed.  This project was to build a road from Clinton on the Mississippi to Council Bluffs on the Missouri, connecting here with the Dixon Air Line, which in the meantime had been built.  This road was pushed forward and completed the whole distance; but, ere the scheme had been consummated, the Chicago & Northwestern had leased the Dixon Air Line, and a consolidation effected which placed the whole line of road from Chicago to Omaha, Neb., under the management of the Northwestern company.

And now, for the first time in the history of Clinton county, did the locomotive made resonant the hills, valleys and woodlands with its shrill greetings.  This renewed life in the new town, and strangers arrived daily to settle permanently in the city.  It stimulated trade, and had a reviving influence everywhere.  When the railroad had been built and trains commenced running, its future was no matter of conjecture, and from that time to the present, it has continued to grow with striking rapidity, until (the paragraph ends here)


cannot be less than nine thousand, and comprising almost all nationalities, and representing almost every branch of industry.  During the course of little more than one decade, the town has been projected and become one of the most important cities of Iowa.

Another feature worthy of especial notice, is the relative character of the buildings erected before and after the railway had been built.  The ideas of the public became enlarged and with that growth came pride -- pride in the appearance of the dwellings and places of business.  The spirit of rivalry between towns as well as individually, too, was high and as a result of this rvalry stimulated into life by the railroad, we may point with pride to our public buildings, business blocks and elegant residences.


On January 26th 1857, Clinton became a city by an act of the State Legislature.  Indeed it seems that the founders of the town, as well as new comers, became imbued with the spirit of progression and determination, to leave no work undone that would better the prospects of the petted infant.  At the election in which the charter was submitted to a vote of the people, only seventy-nine votes were cast in its favor, and yet that number was sufficient to carry the measure by a large majority.  In April of the same year, an election was held for city officers which resulted in the choice of Samuel Crozer for Mayor, Henry B. Horton, Treasurer; Jno. M. Start, Marshall, and J. M. Ordway, Wharfmaster.  With this administration, the city of Clinton was organized, and started upon a career which has been unprecedented in its enterprise and prosperity.

Those following Mr. Crozer, and honored with the office of Mayor, were J. C. Bucher, H. B. Horton, T. J. Flournoy, J. C. Bucher again, T. S. Briscoe, W. H. Ankeney, W. J. Young, A. P. Hosford, W. H. Ankeney again two terms, L. B. Wadleigh, and lastly C. S. Taylor, our present mayor.

The city is divided into four wards, and each ward is entitled to two trustees.  As a whole, these eight trustees form the city council.  The present city government comprises the following:

Mayor -- C. S. Taylor
Marshal -- Peter McLow
Street Commissioner -- J. D. B. Williams
Treasurer -- J. H. Churcher
Assessor -- F. H. Woodworth
Wharfmaster -- L. L. Abbott


1st ward -- Prentice Holmes, --- Adler
2d ward -- S. J. Bishop, Samuel Crozer
3d ward -- R. H. Benson, B. S. De Forest
4th ward -- James McCarty, Wm. Lake

A fine two story brick building was erected some over two years ago, the upper story of which is used as a council chamber.  This building is quite large and commodious, and is fitted up in good style.  The lower story is used for the fire engine house, and is so located that a fire occurring in the business part of town can be reached in a very few minutes.  This is but one of the many striking illustrations to be seen throughout the town of the enterprise and liberality of our citizens when the good of the place is at stake.


The unthinking might reply, the location of the railroad here, and the Mississippi river, those great routes of transit combining to give the town the very best means of communication with all the commercial and grain markets of the world.  While we cannot dispute the fact that much has been gained by these, and that they are partially the producing cause of the towns growth, we are not equally satisfied as to its being a continuing one after a certain size had been attained.  More than these were necessary to build a city like Clinton, whose fame has become as widely known as that of the State.  It must be men, who work out the prosperity of a town, it is seldom or never a simple combination of fortuitous circumstances.  Who then are the men who did so much for the town?  What ones have identified their interests and their fortunes in its growth, and have worked night and day to accomplish results from which a great good should flow to Clinton.  We can only leave it to the citizens to answer.  There are many reasons why we must decline to give their names in this connection.  We may say this however, that the Iowa Land Company, of which we shall take occation to speak again was the originator of the place, and have been deeply interested in its prosperity.


As would naturally be supposed there has been and are now very active transactions in real estate.  The city has passed the time when fortunes could be made in a day by rapid increase in the price of property, but investments are desirable and safe.  Residence and business lots command ready sale and a good price at all times, and no one can hold city property at a loss.  If one desires to sell he can always do so at an advance on the purchasing price.  Especially is this true of the suburbs.  Lots can be purchased of our real estate dealers and owners upon very desirable terms, all being desirous of affording such inducements as they can to strangers to locate here.

We have visited nearly every town in Illinois and many in Iowa and we can truthfully say that we have not found a place we would more willingly invest our means in a home, considering all its attractions and advantages, than in Clinton.


of Clinton were laid out so as to conform with the course of the river, which runs very nearly in a southern direction at this point.  In all the additions to the town, which largly exceed the first plat, the streets conform with the original plan.  The streets running north and south are numbered, commencing at the river, and running back to the west boundary of the town.  These streets are eighty feet wide, and six hundred fee apart.  Running west from the river are broad avenues, one hundred feet in width, at intervals of three hundred feet.  The avenues are also numbered, but to one unaquainted with the city, we cannot give a starting point.  The principal part of the mercantile business of the city is conducted upon Second street, but much trade extens onto others leading off from Second.

Along our streets are many palatial residences and neat cottages, all nearly surrounded with beautiful and tastefully laid off grounds and trees, which give to the place in summer-time, a fresh and cozy appearance, which is pleasant in the extreme.  The streets are all supplied with good sidewalks, which are broad and solidly built.  Clinton is blessed in one matter if nothing else, her streets are never muddy, inasmuch as the soil upon which it stands is quite sandy, so that in a few minutes after a hard rain, the pedestrian can very comfortably navigate any street in the place.

Now, let us turn our attention for a few moments, to


As is the custom, and a matter of vital interest to people changing their location, to inquire especially into the religious advantages offered by their prospective home, it stands us in hand to see what we can say on the subject.  In this matter, Clinton has taken great interest, and has advanced far ahead of neighboring towns.  The people knowing that this was a matter of great importance to themselves, as well as forming an attraction to new commers, have been liberal in their donations to this cause.  We have observed that in those thowns which support a large number of churches, the society is good, and a refinement cultivated in the manners of the people -- even those who do not profess religion.  While on the other hand, those towns that have very poor religious advantages are those which "go to seed" early in life, and are notorious for gambling and drinking brothels.  Even the religiously inclined loose their respect for that which under other influences, was most dear--their religious hope.  Clinton belongs most emphatically to the former class, inasmuch as she has seven churches, any one of which would do credit to any city.


was the first organized society in Clinton.  It was organized in the year 1856, by Rev. J. B. Taylor who alternated with this place and Lyons for sometime.  Rev. G. W. Brindle followed him for two years, when he was succeeded by Rev. R. Norton.  The present fine brick edifice was erected during the year of 1865, at a cost of about $10,000.  It is a very good church building, and presents a very fine architectural appearance.  It is located on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Third Street.  A Sabbath school is connected with this church, meeting at two o'clock each Sabbath.


church was organized A. D. 1865 by Rev. J. T. Stewart, who was assigned to this point for missionary work.  His time expiring soon, Rev. D. M. Gelvin succeeded him in April 1866; following him came Rev. F. Calohan, who continued the work several months.  An effort was made to build a church edifice but failed, and soon after that society died, Mr. Calohan having been withdrawn.


church was incorporated January 3d, 1857, by the State Legislature.  The officers elected at that meeting were President, W. Lake; Vice President, R. Ralston; Secretary G. W. Patterson; Treasurer, R. Leslie, Jr.  It held its meetings in halls and other churches until very lately.  Last year the erection of a large brick building was commenced and is not yet completed.  It is located on the west side of De Witt Park.  When completed, it will be one of the finest church buildings in the place.


church was organized in Clinton on the 6th day of June, 1866, with a membership of fifteen.  The society has increased in spiritual strength and numbers until it now numbers over one hundred among its members.  A fine church was erected by this society in 1867, which is large and commodious, and does ample credit to the town, and is a standing monument to its projectors.  Rev. J. W. White is in charge, at $1,500 per year.  The church has a flourishing Sabbath school in connection, which is doing considerable good in its way.  This church is located on the south-west corner of Seventh Avenue and Fourth street.

The Presbyterian Church was organized October 26th, 1856, by Reverends Geo. R. Moore and A. W. Platt.  This society started out with a membership of ninetee, but has been exceedingly prosperous during all the years of its existence.  The present church edifice was commenced April 18, 1857.  Rev. Austin Roberts, of Lakeville, Massachusetts, preached the first sermon in it upon its completion.  The building is 30x70 feet, with a wing 14x24 feet, and cost $2,500.  It is constructed of wood.

The Protestant Episcopal Church was organized under the name of St. John's Parish, in the autumn of 1855, by Rt. Rev. H. W. Lee, Bishop of Iowa.  The first services were held in a little log hut, near the river.  A small frame building was erected A. D. 1856, by this parish, and was used when services could be obtained.  It also accommodated a private school.  The building was finally sold to the school district and moved from the lot which serves as a location of one of the neatest and most beautiful little churches we have seen for many a day.  It is built of buff lime stone, is 30x70 fee, and is of the "Early English" style of architecture.  The entire cost of this edifice was $7,000.  It is located on the corner of Fourth avenue and Third street.

The Catholic Church was organized here A. D. 1866, when a small frame building was erected for its accommodation.  This church is located on the west side of De Witt Park.  Regular services are held and the church is now in a prosperous condition.

The colored brethren of the Methodist persuasion, have also a church building on the corner of Third avenue and Third street, with quite a large membership.  They appear to be thoroughly in earnest in this work, and hold services twice each Sabbath.


Much has been done by our citizens to furnish facilities commerisurate with the wants of the rising generation and there has been hardly a year since the first rapid growth of the town commenced that did not witness some improvement in school buildings.  Our people are justly proud of the proud place attained by our public schools, and they may well be, as the following report of the schools will testify.  But first, we wish to copy a little "scrap of history" concerning the growth of the educational facilities of Clinton, from Mr. Van Deventer's sketch, before mentioned.

Says this sketchist. "From the first laying out of Clinton, much attention has been given to the organization of a proper system of public schools.  In July 1856, the territory now known as the 'school district of the city of Clinton,' was laid out and organized by the County School Fund Commissioner.  The first election of officers was held on the 25th day of July, 1856, when John C. Bucher, Daniel H. Pearce and Henry McCormick were elected directors.  In September following, the enumeration of pupils showed that there were 173 in the public schools.  It was not however until May 1857, that the first public school was opened.  The building used, was that now occupied by W. A. McKenzie, on Fifth avenue, and which for three years afforded all the accomodation our school possessed.  At the annual meeting of the school district in March, 1860, arrangements were made for building a school house on the east side of De Witt Park.  At this time there was an empty school treasury, but a tax was voted which would become payable in the following January.  The board of trustees at this time consisted of Wm. F. Coan, F. P. Wilcox, C. H. Toll and John C. Bucher.  By anticipating the tax and advancing money from their own private pockets, the board were enabled to build and furnish the first school house in Clinton, at a cost of about four thousand dollars."

From the autumn of 1860, when the district numbered four hundred and fifty pupils between the ages of five and twenty-one years, the number has constantly increased until now the number cannot reach far short of sixteen hundred.  Five thousand dollars in bonds were appropriated in March of 1860, for the purpose of erecting another building on the west side of De Witt Park.  That, reader, was the commencement of the present magnificent brick building that now occupies that site.

Twenty-three teachers are now engaged in the schools, and have an attendance of about fourteen hundred pupils.  Five buildings are employed to accommodate this army of children, and the probabilities are, that the number will continue to increase from year to year, as the town increases in population.

The brick building above mentioned has been enlarged and improved, until its entire cost has reached $25,000.  It is a two story building, contains on the first floor four intermediate schools, with the superintendent's office.  The second story contains one higher intermediate, three grammar and the high school.  Thus it will be seen, that this building accomodates nine different schools.

In South Clinton, another brick school-building was erected in 1869, costing about $5,000.  It is not yet completed, although the lower story is now in use.  The second story will be completed during the present season, when the total cost of it will be the amount above stated.  Four primary schools are taught in this building now, and an intermediate will be introduced in a few weeks.  We regret that we have not the time and space to visit these school buildings, and give an elaborate discription of them.

Besides the above, we have two frame buildings, one on the east side of De Witt park, accommodating four primary schools, and one on the east side of Clinton Park, accommodating one.  The German school occupies Turner Hall.

The branches taught run from the primer for the little urchin just learning to read, to latin and Greek, each study being persued in the department to which it naturally belongs.  A regular three years course is given in the High School, fitting persons for entrance in almost any Western College.  The whole is under the superintendence of W. B. Howe.

The following is a list of teachers:

W. B. Howe,  Miss M. Stewart
Miss E. A. Soper, Miss M. A. Robinson, Miss H. M. Ankeny
Mrs. W. B. Howe, MIss M. E. Crane, Miss A. Brown, Miss H. C. Crandall, Miss L. E. Fereby
Miss L. A. Woodward, Miss M. Young, Miss M. C. Bell, Miss L. E. Woodward, Miss E. A. Spencer, F. L. Walls, Miss A. McKeil, Miss G. A. Keith, Miss E. W. Berry, Miss C. E. Goodale, Miss M. L. Daniels
Mr. and Mrs. Geo. T. Krenz

The board of school officers and directors are

Edward H. Thayer, President
C. E. Bently, Secretary
W. F. Coan, Treasurer
E. H. Thayer, J. P. Brewer, J. W. Gottlob, J. E. Carpenter, E. A. Wadleigh, F. H. Farr.

The district has a small bonded debt which will be liquidated by the tax collected this year.  The bonds have never been below par.

We ar indebted to Dr. Reynolds, the Ex-Secretary of the Board, for the facts, who appears to be an earnest work in the educational cause.