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History of Fayette County, Iowa,

A history of the County, its Cities, Towns Etc.


Western Historical Company,

Successors to H. F. Kett & Co.


Page 338
First Land Entries
The first entry of lands in Fayette County, as recorded, was made by Horace Bemis, who entered the northwest quarter of ne quarter of Section 5, Township 92, Range 8 (Smithfield Township) Jan 17, 1847. There was the claim of William Orrear and James Beeatty, and was the extreme northern limit of the surveyed lands in the county. William Anderson and Chauncey Brooks entered land in the Township in 1848.

John P. Moyne made the next entry, of east half of southwest quarter of Section 17, Township 92, Range 7 (Fairfield Township). Horace Bemis, Hiram Brooks and John Brooks entered land in Fairfield in 1848 and Jared Taylor, Palmer F. Newton, Jesse Brooks and Martha Hunt in 1849.

Robert Alexander entered the southwest quarter of of Section 26, Township 93, Range 8, July 9, 1849. Several other entries were made on the same date. John W. Lane and Horace Andrus entered during 1849.

John W. Lane entered part of Section 30, Township 93, Range 7 (Illyria Township) July 16, 1849. George Culver entered parts of Sections 22, 26, and 27, by land warrant, June 25, 1849. Andrew Hensley entered Section 19, Oct 13, 1849.

David Downs entered the northeast quarter of Section 5, Township 94, Range 9 (Windsor Township) Sep 8, 1849, and J. R. Eddy entered land in the same township, Nov 21, 1849.

William Wells made the first entry in Township 94, Range 8 (West Union Township) of the northeast quarter of Section 17, Dec 5, 1849.

Thomas Woodle entered part of Section 13, Township 93, Range 9 (Center Township) Jan 16, 1850. Philip Herzog made an entry in the same township shortly after.

Samuel Conner entered part of Section 14, Township 94, Range 7 (Pleasant Valley Township), Nov 26, 1849.

Gardner Waters, Sep 23, 1850, entered parts of Sections 4 and 5, Township 95, Range 9 (Auburn Township).

Francis P. Rosier, L. Rosier, Jacob K. Rosier, George N. Rosier and Thomas Turner made first entries in Township 95, Range 8 (Dover Township) Sep 28, 1850.

Henry D. Evans entered part of Section 27, Township 95, Range 7 (Clermont Township) Dec 27, 1850.

James Austin entered part of Section 35, Township 95, Range 10 (Eden Township) Jan 27, 1851; and on the same date the same man entered the north half of the northwest quarter of Section 2, Township 94, Range 10 (Bethel Township)

Henry Maynard entered the southwest quarter of Section 14, Township 92, Range 9 (Harlan), Mar 18, 1851.

William A. Sims entered the southeast quarter of Section 21, Township 91, Range 10 (Oran Township) Nov 3, 1851.

James Nelson Pitkin entered part of Section 35, Township 91, Range 9 (Jefferson Township) May 9, 1851.

John C. Folsom entered the west half of northwest quarter of Section 25, Township 91, Range 7 (Putnam Township) Nov 4, 1850.

Theodore WIilson entered part of Section 30, Township 93, Range 10 (Banks Township) Jan 6, 1852.

Thomas Rand entered parts of Sections 31 and 32, Township 92, Range 10 (Fremont Township) Jan 16, 1853.

Peter L. Moe entered the south half of northeast quarter of Section 1, Township 91, Range 8 (Scott Township) Oct 10 1854.

In November, 1848, snow fell to the depth of eighteen inches, and remained until April, 1849. It was a cold, hard winter for the settlers of Fayette as well as other sections of the state. In 1848-49, before the surveys were completed, and before the lands were in market, the settlers organized a Claim Society for the purpose of mutual protection against claim jumpers.

By the re-apportionment act, approved January 15, 1849, the  counties of Dubuque, Clayton (including Fayette), Delaware, Buchanan, Black Hawk, Winnesheik and Alamakee were intitled to two Senators, and the counties of Dubuque, Delaware, Buchanan and Black Hawk. three Representatives jointly, and the counties of Clayton, Fayette, Winnesheik and Allamakee shall have one Representative.

April 23, 1849, William Wells, from Monroe, Greene County, Wisconsin, came to Knob Prairie and purchased the claim and cabin of David Smith, near the southwest corner of Section 17, occupied the premises and built a substantial log house.  Mr. Wells was a skillful bee hunter. Wild bees were numerous, and this was a land literally "flowing with wild honey," if not with milk.The groves were full of "bee trees" and the pioneers always had plenty of honey and wax. They made candles of the latter. Holding a cake of wax to the fire until it became warm and pastic, thin slices were shaved off with a sharp knife.  This wax would be wrapped around a piece of candle -wick (or when that was un unobtainable luxury, a piece of cotton cloth was substituted) and moulded into it by hand; more was was added to it in layers until sufficient size was attained, and the log cabins of the pioneers were illuminated with wax tapers that a king might envy.

The mode of finding bees was simple. The hunter was provided with a small box, in the bottome of ehich a piece of honey comb was provied with a lid in which a piece of glass was set.  There was also a slide by which the honey could be shut from the bees in the top. Sometimes a piece of bee bread was taken along to be burned to "toll" the bees.  Arriving at the scene of operation, the hunter watched untill he found a bee on a flower, when he would quietly approach with his open box, suddenly shut the lid and the bee finding itself imprisioned would fly up against the glass, the slide would then be closed until the insect became quiet, when it would be gently opened and the bee would soon drop down upon the honey and go to work. The box was then opened and the bee rising in the air would circle round a few times and then strike a "bee-line" for t's tree. It it was near, it would be but a short time before there would be several bees return to the treasures the first had found, indicating some mode of communication bwtween these industrious and intelligent insects; watch their flight, the hunter was soon able to determine what diretion to take and seldom failed to find the tree.

Mr. Wells was very successful, and, says Judge Rogers, "would often have several barrels of honey in his cabin at one time.

The first letter recieved at the new settlement was written by Simeon B. Forbes, who was living where Elgin now stands, to his brother-in-law, William Wells, in 1849, and was addressed to the latter at "Knob Prairie." The messenger was Thomas Wells, who carried back the answer addressed to Simeon B. Forbes, "Shin Bone Valley."

In May, Henry F. Smith and Stephen Bailey settled near "Knob Prairie. " Smith built a cabin on the southwest corner of Section 9.

In July, Gabriel Long and Joshua Wells located in the vicinity.

Oliver A Brown settled in Township 94, Range 9, in May of the same year.

 In May, Henry F. Smith and Stephen Bailey settled near "Knob Prairie." Smith built a cabin on the southwest corner of Section 9.

In July, Gabriel Long and Joshua Wells located in the vicinity.

Oliver A. Brown settled in Township 94, Range 9, in May of the same year.

Thomas Woodle, Thomas Douglass and Thomas B. Sturgis came and selected claims near the geographical center of the county, on and near Section 13, Township 93, Range 9, in 1849, and near "Gamble's Grove," and returned for permanent settlement in the spring of 1850, when M.V. Burdick, Peter Osborn, John Hanna and Phineas F. Sturgis settled near them.

In the spring of 1849 Harvey Light and Erastus A. Llight made a settlement on Section 13, Township 93, Range 8, where Lima now stands, and built a saw-mill that year, also a sort of grist-mill or corn-cracker, and commenced grinding corn the next year."