Wheatland History from the Weekly Herald: 1870

SOURCE: The Weekly Herald June 16, 1870

CLINTON COUNTY, IOWA, A Historical and Descriptive Sketch of the Past and Present.  Its Location, Population, Resources, Water Courses, Timber Lands and Climate.  ITS PEOPLE AND THEIR PURSUITS. A Sketch of Each of its Thriving Towns and Villages.

WHEATLAND. Its Beautiful Location.  Its Union Fair Grounds, Business and Business Men.

Wheatland is the fourth town in Clinton county, and is located on the Chicago and Northwestern railroad, thirty-five miles west of Clinton and twenty-eight north of Davenport.  This is truly one of the prairie gems of Eastern Iowa.  Its location is commanding, and just north of the town upon the southern slope of which it is located, is a very high elevation of ground termed by many of the citizens "Mound."  From its summit the prospect is most beautiful and interesting.  Stretching off to the south is a beautiful valley, along which we behold the busy farmer just plowing up the unrivaled soil, prospective of the coming harvest of corn; numerous herds quietly feeding upon the tender grass which has just put forth with the freshness and growth of early springtime, and many green patches or fields, which mark the portion of the valled devoted to the culture of wheat and other small grains.

Through this valley, and winding its devious course over its pebbly bed, is a beautiful stream (Yankee Run.) It is fed by perennial springs which line its either bank, and the stream finds its outlet in the Wapsipinicon a few miles south-east of the town.  We turn about and behold, as far as the eye can reach, high, rolling prairies that are unsurpassed for richness and grain growing qualities.

Wheatland was laid out thirteen years ago, upon the completion of the railroad to that point.  John L. Bennett, in connection with the Iowa Land Company, first entertained the idea of laying off a town at this point, and consequently commenced the work by staking off eighty acres into town lots.  Soon after, the Land Company bought of Mr. Bennett forty acres of land adjoining the town and laid off an addition to the young village.

In the year 1858 Mr. Bennett made another addition of twenty acres to the place, and in 1868 he made his second addition of sixteen acres.  In 1866, however, Mr. John Walraven had made an addition to Wheatland of twenty acres, making the place now cover an area of 166 acres.

There was a frame house on the tract before the town was laid off and Mr. Bennett now occupies it for a dwelling.  The first building erected on the town plat was the Tucker House and it is now used in its intended occupation, and stands on the corner of the two principal streets.  The depot was the next building erected.

According to our best information, Mr. M. L. Rogers and S. H. Rogers, his brother, were Wheatland's first merchants.  They erected a small building, which is still standing and to be seen -- and in it opened a grocery store and a saloon.

Jesse Stein purchased the first lot of Mr. Bennett and Jacob O'Tool became owner of the second.  Andrew Porter, Edward Tarltan and a Mr. Russell were among the first to settle and erect buildings.  The town was thus commenced and has continued to grow slowly but surely, until it is now a flourishing town of nine hundred inhabitants, and with prospects for the future that are encouraging.  Previous to the settlement of this place as a town, the country hereabouts was constantly the scene of the depredations of horse-thieves, and all will remember the news which reached them of the bloddy work of vigilance committees in this county some fourteen years ago.

Soon after Mr. Bennett settled here, which was some years before the railroad was located, he noticed upon going to his work one day, that many horsemen were going eastward.  This seemed strange to him and he naturally concluded to satisfy his curiosity by making inquiries of the next person who should pass that way.  He was informed upon making the inquiry, that a horse theif had been caught and that the vigilance committee were about to try him according to their laws.  Mr. Bennett knew very well that their trials always resulted in hanging their guilty victims, and wisely declined to attend.  He was, and consequently a marked man by the vigilance committee, but his life thereafter being simple and plainly honest and the country settling up rapidly, he was never again disturbed by their terrible work.

Wheatland was originally called "Yankee Run" in honor of the stream that rises near the place, but we are informed that it afterwards took its present name from the fact that immense quantities of wheat were raised there in early days.

Although Wheatland is on a large open prairie, there is within a very few miles plenty of timber, in quantities guaranteeing an abundance of fuel for years as well as supplying all other demands in that line.  There has been cultivated and set out along all the streets, a liberal supply of soft maple and elm trees.  The town does not lack in this important matter, either for the use of the different kinds of wood, or the picturesque beauty it gives to the place.

Much has been done by the citizens in beautifying the town in other respects, which has served to make it one of the most beautiful little places west of the Mississippi.  Thus each citizen has taken great pride in keeping his especial property in repair, and in laying off and beautifying his grounds.  Beautiful and substantial fences have been placed before many of the residences, and the residences themselves have been painted up nicely, lending a charm to the place that many lack.

During the summer of last year (1869) Wheatland was incorporated as a town, and accorded all the privileges pertaining to that title.  Many years have her citizens suffered for want of sidewalks and other matters, for which a township cannot be taxed.  It is a wonder to us, too, that people who have a reputation for thrift and enterprise should so long neglect a matter of so much importance and such vital interest to the town's welfare.  This matter has at last been remedied, and as a consequence, new sidewalks are being laid along most of the streets, other matters attended to that have been so long neglected.

Wheatland has never been considered a strong temperance town, and even now it has several saloons, yet the citizens are quietly at work to root out this damning influence.  A temperance order has been organized and we are informed that much good has been accomplished by it.  It is asserted that two young men, who were on the downward course to ruin, have been reclaimed and are now respected members of society.

Much attention has been given to the important matter of schools and now Wheatland may be classed among the first of Iowa towns in this branch of enterprise.  Where so much depends upon our public schools in fitting the young to bear the burdens of life, it is fitting that we should look closely into this matter and do even more for our children than our "fathers" did for us.  The good people of Wheatland realize this, and have been working for the future welfare of their town by placing at the disposal of every child, be he rich or poor, a good common school education.  A fine brick building, two stories high and embracing four large and commodious school rooms, was erected during the summer of 1868.  It is beautifully located on the hill, in the north part of town, and cann be seen far in the distance.  It was built of brick, made right here, and will stand as firmly upon its foundation in ages to come as now.  We fear, however, that greater accomodations than it affords will be required very rapidly.  One hundred and fifty pupils attend the different departments this summer.

The churches of a place are always a matter of town pride, and of course, Wheatland is no exception to that rule.  Although the number and style of artitecture are not quite as encouraging or fine as some larger towns enjoy, yet they do very well for a town the size of Wheatland.  Those having building, are the Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed.  The Methodist people have grounds, and have erected a very neat and commodious parsonage, in which services are now held.  We learned that a church will be created by this society the present season.  The Baptists have also erected a parsonage.  Much interest has been manifested in the churches at all times, and we expect to see them greatly improved in the next few years.  Earnest pastors preside here, and have accomplished great good in a moral as well as a religious point of view.

The society of Wheatland is very good, as all will admit who remain there long enough to see into its workings.  The town is not yet large enough to be divided into cliques as in many places and the cordiality with which strangers are treated is agreeable alike to all.


A matter of great pride to the citizens of Wheatland, inasmuch as it was through the influence and enterprise of some of her business men that it was established.  The counties represented in this fair are Scott, Jones, Jackson, Cedar and Clinton, all of which are represented in each annual exhibition.  The society was organized during the summer of 1861, and the first fair was held on its grounds in the autumn of that year.  At the first meeting of the society held in Wheatland, June 1st, 1861, over one hundred and fifty members joined, and elected H. B. Potter, President; M. L. Rogers, Vice President; C. W. Fogg, Secretary; Hon. C. E. Leffingwell, Treasurer; and Milo Lathrop, Marshal.

Great praise is due to Mr. Leffingwell and many others of Wheatland for their energies and the earnestness with which they have worked to secure the location of the grounds at their town.  The Society have now given eight annual exhibitions and the liberality with which they have been patronized speaks volumes for the enterprise and thrift of the farmers of the different counties represented.

Now the country represented in this society is -- one might say with truth -- the garden of Iowa, and we think after having seen most of it, and by conversations with persons from all sections, that no finer farming land was ever cultivated than is found in the counties mentioned.

One can not wonder then that this society has been so successful in all the years that it has been in progress.  Nor can one doubt its future career of success under these fortunate circumstances.

The society having their fair grounds located at Wheatland, during the fair season makes times very busy in that place, besides bringing in much trade that would otherwise go to other towns.  Of this society Abner Piatt is President; Geo. Lathrop, Vice President; E. Carter, Secretary; S. H. Rogers, Treasurer and Ira Carter, Marshal.  It is now in debt about $500.00 but with fair success this fall will not only liquidate that debt, but have money left in the treasury.  Great preparations are being made that will insure success at their meeting this fall and all who wish to spend a pleasant and profitable week, should make preparations to attend and bring with them something in the way of agricultural, animal or mechanical products.

Wheatland, like many other places, is an aspirant for a new railroad, and in this matter has been more successful than many neighboring towns.  The Davenport and St. Paul road is now being graded through the town, and as all the necessary amounts have been subscribed, the road will surely be completed at no distant day.  With the railroad and shipping facilities thus afforded, who can say that there is not a bright future for this little town.

As Wheatland is situated in a fine grain growing and stock raising district, the shipments from that station have been unusually large.  Below we append a few figures in relation to the shipment of the above and other products for the year ending May 1st, 1869.

Number of horses, 98; cattle, 345; hogs, 1,148; dressed hogs, 210,310 pounds; lard and pork, 20, 189 pounds; wool, 6, 718 pounds; wheat 113,200 bushels; corn, 15,663 bushels; other grains, 71,301 bushels; other agricultural products, 56,540 pounds; other animal products, 32,172 pounds and 205 barrels of flour; making Wheatland in the aggregate, the second agricultural shipping point of the county.

The businessmen of Wheatland are a live set of men and generous to a fault.  Much of the prosperity of their town is due to their untiring energy and earnest work, and there is not one of them but feels a responsibility in that direction.

The dry goods trade is well represented by C. G. Rogers, Petersen & Bro's, Rea and McCollough, C. H. Potter, H. V. Stutz, and Rogers & Carter.

In the grocery line there are two establishments, consisting of W. H. Hicks and Welch & Bro's.  Hardware is represented by A. Smith.  In the stove and tin ware trade we find that Spottswood and Wa??haven are the exclusive dealers and are just now driving a spendid trade, which has been built up by industry, fair dealing and an evident desire to give satisfaction to all their customers.  Jeweler, Spottswood.

Drugs and books are represented by Dr. T. D. Gamble and J. A. Frost; furniture, Jacob Wirth; lumber, Wood, Hall & Co., and C. H. Sanford; grain dealers, J. H. Barrett, A. McDermid, H. V. Shurtz, F. B. Bissell and D. Mohr; bakeries, A. Dresden and S. Hempsted; photograph rooms, Randolph; millinery rooms, Miss Purcell and Mrs. Rea; shoemaker shops, Peter Kroger, Wilke & Koburg and several others; harness shops, O. J. Thornton and L. S. Beers; justices, J. Dutton and E. Wood; agricultural implements, John Walraven, F. J. Deppe and Saulsbury & Harris; wagon makers, Everhart, McCorney & Co.; hotels, Tucker House and Munson House.

We kno of no place where a practicl brick-maker could locate with a better prospect of success than Wheatland.  There is clay in great abundance and of a quality of great superiority, which has produced some of the best brick in the country.  Wood sells very low and water is in abundance.

It is evident that there will be a great improvement in Wheatland in a few years and that said improvements will be of a substantial character, and of course many bricks will be required.  The can be manufactured in the town as cheaply as in other places, and with the feeling of town pride existing, a good brick yard, or two or three for that matter would be liberally patronized.  Of course, a small capital would be required and if there is a man of the necessary attainments let him go to Wheatland and we will guarantee him a good and paying business.

We were much pleased with our visit to Wheatland and we hope to renew our acquaintance at some future time.

Before dropping the curtain upon this interesting town, we wish to speak a word in behalf of the Tucker House, not more for the benefit of the hotel than in  behalf of the traveling community.  We arrived there a stranger an hungered and its proprietor took us in -- to his well furnished dining room, where we soon realized the influence of a "square meal" upon our weary spirits.

The "Tucker" is one of the neatest and most home-like hotels we have visited in many a day, and under the inspiriting influences of its proprietor, Mr. E. M. Tucker, it has become noted among traveling men as a place of rest by the wayside.

We wish to express our thanks to C. E. Leffingwell, Esq., E. Carter, Jno. L. Bennett, J. Dutton, J. Stine, Jno. Walraven and many others, for their many courtesies so freely tendered and for information given, without which the above had never been written.  That success may attend them in all their undertakins and that their town may realize all that is hoped for it is our earnes wish.