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History of Fayette County, Iowa,

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

Page 527

Clermont Township

Clermont town


"The first settler in Clermont, or Township 95, Section 7, who claimed the water power, as Wanzer did at Otter Creek, was ____ Delaplaine, who made a claim where Clermont now stands in 1848 and built a cabin.

In 1849, Carlton & Thompson, a mill firm at Elkader, came to the Turkey River at the point where Clermont now stands, and bought the claim of ____ Delaplaine (including Sections 33 and 34). Carlton & Thompson let the building contract to C. D. Carlton and Charles Sawyer, who moved here in June, 1849 (the latter with his family), and built two log houses on what is now Block 24, in Clermont, being the first houses in the township, after Delaplaine's rude claim cabin. Small workshops and store rooms were put up from time to time, which were made necessary by the building of the mill. Mr. Carlton opened the first stock of goods in the Fall of 1849. In 1850, Edwin Stedman, John Hendershott, Chancy Leverich, with their families, and J. B. Hough and Andrew Martin, came and settled in the vicinity of Clermont. On the arrival of Mr. Stedman and his wife, it was thought that a school must be the next thing, and accordingly one of the log workshops was vacated and converted into a school room, Mrs. Stedman being the teacher. Like all new settlements, this one used its school house for all public gatherings. In it, Rev. H. S. Brunson delivered the first sermon in 1851. Mr. Brunson came here to build a hotel, and commenced it in 1850 and '51, but after having built about half of what is now the Clermont or Brown's Hotel, he left; the hotel was finished by the mill company, and opened to the public by Mr. D. C. Carlton in 1851 or '52.

The first death in the township, so far as can now be ascertained, was a little daughter of Mr. Nutting, who settled about two miles above the mills, in the Spring of 1850. Two little girls, sisters, found some wild parsnips, and were poisoned by eating them, one of whom died.

The first marriages were Abel Nutting and Mrs. Bevins, Robert Freeman and Julia Cole. Dates not known. Edward Carlton was the first birth, born in February, 1850.

First Drowning

In the summer of 1851, Washington Sawyer and his brother Aaron attempted to cross the river just above the mill dam at Clermont, or were rowing down the stream near the shore. Washington, who was rowing the boat, looked around and saw that his head and an overhanging tree were about to come in contact. Whether his head struck the tree or not is not known, but by a sudden movement to avoid the blow, the boat was upset and the two brothers were precipitated into the rushing waters. Aaron struck out and reached the shore, but Washington, says an eye witness, made no effort save to grasp the boat and float with it calmly down the river, until it was swept over the dam, sending his body beneath the foaming waters of the river, and his soul to meet its' Master. His body was not recovered for several days, but was finally discovered in a deep pool some distance below the dam.

As soon as the saw-mill was completed, in 1850-51, it was supplied with logs by the settlers, who procured the necessaries of life by cutting timber and hauling it to the mill.

The township of Clermont was first created by the County Commissioners of Fayette County in 1850, but the little settlement had been previously so named and the post office was also called Clermont.

The early election records are lost, if any were ever made. The first Justice of the Peace was Charles Sawyer, who was elected by the town of Pleasant Valley, composed of Townships 94 and 95, Range 7, in 1850. The first election in Clermont Township, of which tradition remains, was in November, 1850, or April, 1851. At this election, which was held at the house of Charles Sawyer, there were nine voters, among whom were Charles Sawyer, E. D. Carlton, Edwin Stedman, John Hendershott, Andrew Martin and J. B. Hough. Sawyer's coffee pot was used for a ballot box on that occasion, and he was elected Township Clerk, Edwin Stedman and J. B. Hough, Justices of the Peace.

The first lawsuit in Clermont was a case of trespass, tried before J. B. Hough, Justice of the Peace. Mr. Stephens' cattle, it was alleged, had broken into Mr. Johnson's enclosure and destroyed some hay and straw, and Johnson sued for damage. Mr. Peck, of Garnavillo, appeared as the plaintiff's attorney, and William McClintock, of West Union, appeared for the defense. Judgment for plaintiff.

About 1851 or '52, the town of Clermont was laid out by Thompson & Carlton, proprietors, but the plat was not recorded until 1855, when Mr. Thompson, having purchased Mr. Carlton's interest, decided to decided to call it Norway, and so filed it for record.

This was not satisfactory to the people, who could not be induced to abandon their old and favorite name of Clermont. Mr. Thompson at last became satisfied that the name of Norway would not be accepted by the people, and he consented to abandon the name of Norway, and it was changed to Clermont by act of the General Assembly, approved July 15, 1856, and re-surveyed by Andris Brandt, civil engineer, and the town plat of Clermont recorded February 16, 1859, John Thompson, proprietor.

In 1854, John Thompson erected a brick flouring-mill, having engaged his men in McGregor, who walked out with their wheel-barrows from McGregor, and manufactured the brick of which the mill is built.


The 4th of July, 1859, was celebrated at Clermont in grand style, in the grove near town. The services were opened with prayer by the Chaplain of the Day, Mr. Cobb; John Thompson was President of the Day; the Declaration of Independence was read by Mr. Lane; oration by Mr. French. After the services at the grove, the procession re-formed and marched to the new brick block, where the table was laden with all the good things obtainable. About 500 people took dinner, after which they repaired to Union Hall, where the regular toasts were read by Mr. Larrabee, after which was supper and the whole interspersed with music.

Political Record

Clermont was incorporated August 16, 1875. The first Mayor was H. G. Clark; Trustees: C. W. D. Lathrop, Edwin Stedman, Alex. McKinley, John Crowe and J. P. Blackett; Recorder, W. M. Newell; Treasurer, Edwin Stedman. The first ordinance passed was entitled "An ordinance regulating public shows, menageries, circuses, concerts and theatrical exhibitions."

For 1876, Mayor, G. E. Dibble; Trustees, E. Stedman, L. Goodrich, John Crowe, Alex. McKinley and J. P. Blackett; Recorder, G. A. Appelman; Treasurer, W. A. Wickham.

For 1877, Mayor, G. E. Dibble; Trustees, Edwin Stedman, David Baker, Lyman Goodrich, Phillip Pfannmillen and G. A. Appelman; Recorder, James Blackett; Treasurer W. A. Wickham.

For 1878, Mayor, G. A. Appelman; Trustees, E. Stedman, L. Goodrich, E. Jogerst, D. Baker, M. M. Wood; Recorder, F. P. Harold; Treasurer, W. A. Wickham.


As before stated, the first school was taught by Mrs. Stedman in 1850. In 1852, the district purchased of Albert Palmer his old cabin on Vine street, near the river, in which school was taught until 1854, when a brick school house was erected on the site the present one occupies.

The Independent School District of Clermont was formed in 1860, and in 1867-68, the old school building was taken down and a new one erected, being a graded school, in which Prof. F. Wood was the first Principal. The present Principal is J. A. Burch.


St. Peter's Church - This church was organized in 1856, and built a small frame church, on what is now Block 40, the same year. The dedicatory services were conducted by Bishop Loras, and their wants were thereafter supplied by Father Richard Nagle for about twelve years. Rev. J. J. Quigly then preached once a month for one year, when Rev. John Smith came as the first resident Pastor. In 1870, the society commenced a parsonage, but did not finish it until 1872. It cost $5,000. Rev. M. O. Carroll succeeded Father Smith in December, 1872, remaining until the latter part of 1875. Rev. E. O'Sullivan, the present Pastor, took charge in 1876. The society is now (1878)about commencing a new church edifice 45x90, to cost $8,000. Sunday school is held every alternate Sabbath. Connected with this church, there was organized St. Peter's Total Abstinence Society, which lasted about two years, but is now extinct. John Crowe was President.

The Presbyterian Church was organized February 28, 1859. Its first Deacons were Alexander Fay, Ebenezer Hyde and A. G. Collins. First Trustees, E. Stedman, E. D. Button and A. J. Collins. These Trustees purchased Lots 10, 11 and 12, of 7, and built the church, which was dedicated October 11, 1863, by Rev. Charles R. French, who remained about ten years. Rev. Dickey preached for a short time, but the society, by death and removal, became so small, that of late no services have been held.

Church of the Savior, Parish of the Protestant Episcopal Church, was incorporated April 2, 1866, with the following Vestrymen: James P. Blackett, D. D. Sanders, J. N. Dennis, C. W. D. Lathrop and R. V. Appelman. The church was built in 1866-7, and dedicated by Bishop Lee from Davenport.

The Baptist Church was organized in 1875; services were held by Rev. J. B. Edmonson. Their present wants are supplied by M. H. Perry, from West Union every other week. They have no church building as yet.

Methodist Episcopal Church of Clermont was organized in 1856, by Rev. J. M. Rankin, Rev. H. Brunson, Presiding Elder. The members of the first class were G. G. Brainard (Class Leader), A. D. Miller (Local Preacher), H. N. Brainard, S. D. Brainard, E. Thompson and M. Miller. The successive Pastors were as follows; Rev. F. C. Mather, 1858; J. Fawcett, 1859; W. E. McCormick, 1860-61; William Cobb, 1862; R. Ricker, 1863-4 and '65; Isaac Newton, 1866; S. Knickerbocker, 1867-8; B. F. Taylor, 1869-70; S. L. Garrison, 1871-2; P. E. Miller, 1873-4; J. S. Ward, 1875-6 and '67; F. E. Brush, 1878.

December 14, 1865, a meeting of the members was held to consider the propriety of building a church edifice. May 26, 1866, the society adopted Articles of Incorporation and elected a Board of Trustees as follows: William Blackett, James Brown, J. S. Rubert, E. Thompson, A. Flemming, O. G. Brainard and F. S. Palmer. The corner stone of the church was laid June 4, 1866, P. E. Brown officiating, assisted by Revs. J. Gould, I. Newton and H. S. Church. The walls of the building were laid up during that year, and then work was suspended for want of means. In 1873, the contract to finish the building was awarded to S. S. Steel, and the church was completed and dedicated November 9, 1873, by Rev. J. W. Clinton. The total cost of the church, including the site and furnishing was $5, 432.94. The society since its house was erected has been and still is in a flourishing condition.


Clermont Lodge, U. D., A., F. & A. M. - The dispensation of Clermont Lodge, A., F. & A. M., was granted by J. R. Hastrock, Grand Master, on the 18th day of April, 1860. The petitioners were Charles Sawyer, R. B. Appelman, P. G. Wright, J. B. Hough, D. D. Sanders, A. D. Miller, Orrin Hough, Thos. Alvey, Wm. Alvey. The first officers elected, U. D., were: Charles Sawyer, W. M.; R. B. Appelman, S. W.; P. G. Wright, J. W.; Orrin Hough, Treasurer; A. D. Miller, Secretary; J. B. Hough, S. D.; Wm. Alvey, J. D.; Thos. Alvey, Tiler.

The charter of Clermont Lodge, No. 160, was granted June 5, 1862. Charles, W. M.; R. B. Appelman, S. W.; P. G. Wright, J. W., and other charter members. First officers under charter, the above, and J. P. Calvin, Treasurer; D. D. Sanders, Secretary; J. B. Hough, S. D.; John Miller, J. D.; A. D. Miller, Tiler. The present officers are: C. W. D. Lathrop, W. M.; E. M. Callender, S. W.; T. H. Whiting, J. W.; W. A. Wickham, Treasurer; O. P. Miller, Secretary.

The Lodge has always been in good condition. Now numbers over 60 members. Only two members have died - Bro. Ball, in the Summer of 1863, and H. E. Wipert, in 1874. The Lodge has a fine hall, well fitted up, and is in a thriving condition.

Clermont Chapter, No. 62, was organized May 5, 1871. Charter members - B. H. Hinkley, J. P. Blackett, R. B. Appelman, D. G. Goodrich, George W. Irwin, C. W. D. Lathrop, R. S. Dickenson, R. S. Barclay, C. F. Weck, Peter Nicklaus. Its first officers were: B. H. Hinkley, H. P.; J. P. Blackett, K.; R. B. Appelman, Scribe; C. F. Weck, Treasurer; D. G. Goodrich, Secretary; R. S. Barclay, Tiler. Present officers are: J. P. Blackett, H. P.; T. H. Whitney, K.; C. F. Week, Scribe; G. F. Mitchell, Secretary; W. A. Wickham, Treasurer; H. H. Thompson, Tiler.

I. O. OF O. F.

Clermont Lodge, No. 134, I. O. of O. F., was organized January 11, 1876, and the following were its charter members: H. A. Windon, W. C. Lewis, George D. Beaton, John J. Hopper, E. T. Smith, Henry, Henry Wilmott, B. W. Branch, W. A. Wickham. Its first officers were: W. C. Lewis, N. G.; Henry Wilmott, V. G.; H. A. Windon, R. S.; C. W. Ehrlich, P. S.; W. A. Wickham, Treasurer. The present officers are: H. C. Warner, N. G.; E. W. Appelman, V. G.; E. H. Whiting, R. S.; B. W. Branch, P. S.; W. A. Wickham, Treas.

Brick City Lodge, No. 81, A. O. U. W., organized August 14, 1876, with following charter members: H. C. Warner, C. B. Nickols, Paul Ellings, V. K. Gass, G. F. Mitchell, C. W. D. Lathrop, F. P. Harold, M. C. Payne, W. A. Wickham, Amos Longfield, D. H. Whiting, C. F. Weck, John J. Hopper, J. P. Calvin, William Putnam, H. A. Windon. The first officers were: H. C. Warner, P. M. W.; T. H. Whiting, M. W.; V. K. Gass, F.; F. P. Harold, O.; D. E. Baker, Rec.; H. H. Windon, F.; G. F. Mitchell, Recorder; C. W. D. Lathrop, Guide. Present officers are as follows: C. W. D. Lathrop, P. M. W.; W. H. Wickham, M. W.; B. F. Dibble, F.; A. Longfield, O.; D. E. Baker, R.; F. P. Harold, Financier; F. H. Whiting, Recorder; H. C. Warner, Guide."


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