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History of Fayette County, Iowa,

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

Page 544

Fairfield Township

Including The Towns of Taylorsville & Brush Creek


"The first white family to locate in Township 92, Range 7, was Maj. Mumford, who built a house and made a claim on Brush Creek early in 1842. In the following year, Oatman settled on the prairie northwest of the present site of Brush Creek, where he built a house about twenty-four feet square. This he soon sold to one St. John, who never returned to reside.

But scanty traditions remain in regard to these families. Elsewhere is given an account of the novel circumstances attending the birth of Mumford's child, in 1843. Mumford did but little at farming, a few acres being the extent of his efforts at tilling the soil. It is believed he gained a subsistence by trading with the Indians.

Oatman abandoned his claim after occupying it about a year.

M. C. Sperry visited Fayette County in 1843, and returned again in the Spring of 1846. He was one of the first Justices elected in Hewitt Township.

Palmer F. Newton settled in the Fall of 1847, and still remains a resident of Fairfield Township, one of the oldest residents of Fayette County.

R. Newton's was the first birth in Fairfield, in 1850. The first school house in this township outside of Taylorsville was erected in 1854.

Daniel J. Finney and wife settled in Township 92, Range 7, in 1845. William E. Newton, Finney's brother-in-law, came with them. They were all from Trumbull County, Ohio.

Hiram Brooks was killed by lightning in August, 1851. John Brooks had told his younger brothers, Hiram and David, who had just settled near him, that he would give each of them a sow and pigs, and told them where to find the swine. They went early in the morning to where the hogs were, found them, and got them in front of John's house. A storm was just beginning, and John was on the point of telling them to go into the house, when a stroke of lightning knocked David senseless, killed Hiram, and finished by killing four of the pigs. As the bolt left Hiram's gun, it melted a drop off the muzzle, where it was left as a permanent mark of its murderous track. David was restored to consciousness, but it was some time before his memory was fully restored.

About December, 1863, Benjamin Brooks and his hired boy, Franklin Sherman, were burned to death in the following distressing circumstances: The fire had just been built, and Franklin had come down from the garret where he slept. The hot stove pipe set fire to some loose articles in the garret, which communicated to the bed. When they discovered the fire, they both rushed up the ladder, and tried to throw the burning straw-tick down through the scuttle way. But stirring it only increased the flame, and they were both smothered by the dense smoke, dying before help could reach them. Mrs. Brooks seized an ax, and endeavored to cut holes through the boards, but not in time to help them. Henry Brooks was the first to reach the burning cabin, but the flames had reached such headway that nothing could be done to obtain the bodies until the cabin burned down.

In the Winter of 1861-62, John Brooks died on his way to McGregor with a load of pork. He had stayed all night at Elkader, and became deathly sick two miles beyond that town, dying next morning of paralysis.

The Gold Excitement

Several years ago, some small nuggets of gold were found on the farm then owned by Walter Brooks. Prospecting and digging began, but Mr. Brooks thought best to forbid further operations on his place; and the excitement had almost died out, when a decided excitement was started about the middle of April, 1877, by the discovery of bits of the precious metal along Bear and Moine Creeks. Among the first to discover fine specimens were Mr. Howard, Joseph Hartman, Meloin and Martin Lackey. A. V. Munger, in a few days' work, realized about $8.50 of the shining metal, one piece weighing about a pennyweight. Four pails of dirt taken off the rock yielded $1.25. One man, in a week's time, earned about $8, and his associate washed out $6 weight. The excitement was intense for two or three weeks, a good many strangers flocking in to see what the prospect was.

Gold had been found in small quantities in various localities in Fayette County. Dr. Parker discovered traces near Fayette several years ago, and the color has been found inthe subsoil in several other counties in Northern Iowa. A similar excitement was created in 1856, near Strawberry Point, and the labor expended was greater than in the recent finds on the creeks near Brush Creek.

Political Record

The records of Fairfield Township, prior to 1864, are said to have been lost. F. Glime was Clerk in 1863, and, February 6, 1864, Samuel Rice was appointed Assessor. April 11, W. C. Hicks was appointed Constable. Following these entries in the Clerk's books, are recorded the cattle marks adopted by various farmers in the township; that of D. G. Darling being a crop off the right ear and a swallow fork in the left; Charles Glime, slit in right ear; George L. Doane, crop off right ear and slit in left; William Anglemyer, slit in right ear and under-bit in left; Fred. Becker, up-slit in lower edge of left ear and B. branded on right ham; James Carnall, half moon under tip of right ear; Jacob E. Derflinger, letter D. branded on right ham; Isaac Walrath, hole in right ear and half moon under side of left ear.

Officers elected in 1864 (polling place at Taylorsville) were B. F. Little and James Richard, Justices; Z. G. Allen, D. T. Finley, Peter Kuney, Trustees; F. R. Heynds, Assessor; J. N. Crawford, J. D. Kuney, Constables; and the election return is signed by S. Wescott, Clerk. S. P. White was appointed Assessor January 16, 1865.

For 1865, Mr. Anglemeyer, Adam Becker and George L. Doune, Trustees; Orson Blackman, Clerk; G. H. Millen, Assessor; J. D. Kuney and John Keith, Constables. There being a vacancy, A. Ainsworth was appointed Assessor February 8, 1866, who also became Clerk during the year.

For 1866, O. R. Robbins and J. M. Burlin, Justices; Joshua Mead, Stephen Wescott, William Anglemyer, Trustees; Jacob Walrath, Clerk; George L. Doune, Assessor; James Barnes, John Wood, Constables.

For 1867, A. Ainsworth, Joshua H. Mead, Talcott Rawson, Trustees; Stephen Westcott, Clerk; George L. Doune, Assessor; Henry Beman, William Hawley, Constables.

A special election was held October 31, 1868, on the proposition to levy a three per cent. tax in aid of the construction of the Davenport & St. Paul Railway, which was defeated by a vote of 69 for the tax and 122 against it. January 30, 1869, the tax question was tried again, but was defeated by a vote of 130 against the measure to 17 for it.

For 1868, Joshua H. Mead, Daniel J. Finney, Jerome Wilcox, Trustees; O. R. Robbins, Benj. Shambaugh, Justices; George L. Doane, Reuben Moon, Constables; Henry Palmer, Clerk; Sylvester P. White, Assessor.

For 1869, Joshua H. Mead, Isaac Walrath, Joseph Gunn, Trustees; John Hutchinson, Clerk; Andrew Ainsworth, Assessor; Benjamin F. Emory, Melvin Lackey, Constables.

For 1870, Jonas Gunn, D. D. Brooks, George Deming, Trustees; O. S. Blackman, Clerk; Palmer F. Newton, Assessor; Henry Beerman, Chancey B. White, Constables; John Hutchinson, Benjamin Shambaugh, Justices.

For 1871, Adam Becker, D. D. Brooks, O. S. Blackman, Trustees; Frederick Becker, Clerk; Andrew Ainsworth, Assessor; John Lickis, N. F. Beman, Constables.

May 21, 1872, a special election was held, to determine whether the township would vote a three per cent. tax in aid of the Iowa Eastern Railway, which was defeated, the vote standing 130 against to 129 for the measure. June 22d, another election was held on the same proposition, which was carried by a vote of 150 to 130.

At the November election, 1872, held for the first time at Brush Creek, John Hutchinson and Benjamin Shambaugh were elected Justices; Adam Becker, William F. Lackey, M. F. Little, Trustees; J. O. Hoover, Clerk; Edward Rice, Assessor; John Lickiss, William H. Predmore, Constables. For 1873, J. M. Walrath, Clerk; Wm. F. Lackey, P. F. Newton, Frederick Becker, Trustees; D. D. Brooks, Assessor; John A. Wood, John Lickiss, Constables. For 1874, J. H. Walrath, Clerk; Ed. Rice, Assessor; J. A. Blanchard, Wm. F. Lackey, Adam Becker, Trustees; John Hutchison, Benj. Shambaugh, Justices; Eber White, R. L. Newton, Constables. In 1875, J. H. Walrath, Clerk; John A. Blanchard, Assessor; Wm. F. Lackey, Adam Becker, Wm. C. Gleim, Trustees; O. R. Robbins, Justice; Henry F. Beman, Constable. For 1876, Daniel Walrath, Wm. Lackey, Geo. W. Genung, Trustees; Frank Gates, Clerk; D. D. Brooks, Assessor; Benj. Shambaugh, John Hutchison, Fred. Gleim, Justices; S. R. Rice, A. P. Simmons, H. F. Beman, Constables; Frank. Gates, Collector. For 1877, Frank Gates, Clerk; A. Oldfather, Assessor; Frank Gates, Collector; W. F. Fackey, P. F. Newton, W. C. Gleim, Trustees.


Brush Creek

(Fairfield Township)

This flourishing town is located on the east half of Section 28, Township 92, Range 7 (Fairfield). It was laid out in the Spring of 1856, by B. F. Little, Surveyor, the land being owned by C. D. and T. E. Shambaugh, although a small portion of the plat extended over on the land owned by D. J. Finney, F. R. Hynes, Nelson Huckins and Isaac Walrath. The first settler on the town plat was Charles Moe, and, for some time after he sold, the location was called Moetown. Moe sold to the Shambaughs Dec. 20, 1856, agreeing to give possession March 1st, but on the 22d of February the house was burned down. When the Shambaughs arrived with their families, they were compelled to build a shanty as a temporary shelter. They hauled 5,000 of green lumber from a saw-mill at Fayette, and built with it a structure containing five rooms. Here the two families resided, opened up a stock of goods, and kept hotel. The stream of emigration was at its highest tide, and from the 1st of April forward the house was packed nightly with Western home-seekers, one morning's receipts being $28. Early in April, C. D. Shambaugh fell sick, and was confined to the house for a month. Early settlers will remember that the snow did not disappear until about April 10th, and that the nights were frosty. Several mornings in succession, before the fire was built, says Mr. Shambaugh, the frost would be a quarter of an inch thick on his chamber walls. When it rained, his wife put pans and plates on his bed to keep the clothes as dry as possible.

T. E. Shambaugh proceeded soon after their arrival to build a log house in place of the one that had been burned. The new structure was 24x42, and thither, when finished, the families removed, business included.

Melvin Lackey settled at Brush Creek in the Fall of 1856.

Mr. O. R. Robbins was the first purchaser of a lot on the site of Brush Creek (1856), paying $20.00 for the lot on which O. H. Osborn's house now stands, and on which he built the house, in the Summer of 1856.

The year 1856 and the first half of 1857 represent the golden era of the West; and at this time it looked as if Brush Creek might become the possessor of either the Dubuque & Pacific or the 'Ram's Horn' Railroad. But the Dubuque line went directly west, the 'Ram's Horn' project proved abortive, and Brush Creek meekly accepted the prospect of being a little hamlet for all time.It grew but little for years, there being usually a store - sometimes two - a blacksmith shop, cooper shop and one or two carpenters in the village. The town was not even of sufficient inportance and influence to be made a polling place, for the elections were held at Taylorsville until 1872, when Brush Creek stepped forward and effected a change.

A Thief Shot

On the night of July 5, 1866, Mr. Cozzens, who lived near Brush Creek, was waked by his wife, who told him she heard an unusual noise at the barn. He arose, went out, and saw a man crouching down, near the stable door. He returned for his gun, which he loaded hastily with buckshot, and went out again, just in time to see the thief mount one of his horses, to ride off. He fired, with hasty aim, and followed a little way, only to see the man and horse pass out of sight.

In the morning, Cozzens noticed that blood had fallen. Following up this sanguinary track, he discovered the thief lying dead, about forty rods from the stable. Nothing could be found in the pockets of the dead man's clothing whereby he could be identified.

In 1868, Brush Creek contributed $10,000 to the stock of the Davenport & St. Paul Railroad Company, and was made a point on the line of that projected road.

In 1870, when it became reasonably certain that the road would be built, the town was brought into notice, and the business houses had doubled prior to the arrival of the first train. The track was completed to Brush Creek July 8, 1873; and on the 22d, the first car load of freight was received. From that day to the present, Brush Creek has developed very rapidly, and now has a population of about 1,000.

September 24, 1867, occurred the death of T. E. Shambaugh, a much respected citizen, who had made the town his home over twenty-one years.

In 1874, the railroad company not having yet built a depot, the citizens of Brush Creek contributed $2,500 for the purpose; but the company being in very straightened circumstances, the money was converted to other uses; whereupon the Brush Creek people brought action for the recovery of their money, which secured the building without much further delay.

The Pacific Block, 50x86 feet on the ground and two stories high, was built in the Summer of 1875.

October 13, 1875, several citizens of Brush Creek engaged in celebrating the result of the election the day before by anvil firing. On the bottom anvil an open ring was placed and filled with powder, the other anvil being set on the ring. Frank Gates applied the heated rod, a loud explosion followed and the ring was sent, with the velocity of a bullet, through his left thigh, crushing the bone and detaching the cartilage almost from knee to hip. A council of physicians decided that amputation was necessary, which was successfully performed.


The first school house in Brush Creek was removed here in 1858, from the Newton district, and the first school taught in it, after its removal, was by Samuel Taylor. The growth of the town from 1868, forward, necessitated a larger building, and in 1877 a brick building, two stories high, 40x60, was erected, at a cost, including seats, of about $5,000. The brick work was done by John Wood, and the carpenter work by Ezra Stowell. The district is now organized under the independent system, the officers being W. F. Lackey, President; J. A. Thompson, Secretary; A. Rawson, Treasurer; P. F. Newton, M. W. Page, J. Richards, W. D. Little and Z. G. Allen, Directors. George Brousseau is Principal of the school, assisted by Emma Andrews and Emily K. Allen.


The Christian Church was organized in April, 1858, under the ministration of Elder Brittell, then residing at Strawberry Point. The meeting to organize the society was held in the dining room of Shambaugh's hotel, and the first members were C. D. Shambaugh, wife and daughter; T. E. Shambaugh, wife, sister and mother; M. F. Little and wife; B. F. Little and wife; Jacob Hill and wife; and the Elders chosen were C. D. Shambaugh and M. F. Little, and the Deacons were T. E. Shambaugh and Jacob Hill. The Pastors since the organization have been Dr. Wallace, of West Union; Elder George Rich, of Maynard; Elder John Martindale, of Greeley; Elder Charles Rowe, Elder G. L. Applebee and Elder W. G. Sweeney. Elder N. A. McConnell has made occasional visits to the church for the purpose of revival work, his first visit being in 1859. A series of meetings was held by him during that visit in Lackey's wagon shop, the result being over thirty additions to the young church. Almost every subsequent visit was productive of excellent results. Elder Rowe has also done much to build up the church. The present membership is about one hundred and twenty.

The church edifice was erected in 1865, at a cost of $2,000. The size is 32x42 feet. The bell was purchased in 1876. The cost of the bell and belfry was about $500.

The present officers are: Elders, C. B. Roe, F. Glime, B. F. Little; Trustees, C. B. Roe, M. J. Thompson, John A. Thompson.

This is the oldest church of the Christian denomination in Fayette County, the church at West Union having become dormant.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at Brush Creek, in the Spring of 1876. Among the members were N. R. Hathaway and wife, Mrs. J. H. Wood, Mrs. L. D. Carpenter, Mrs. Zina Allen, Mrs. Mary Elitharp, Mrs. Mary J. Moore, J. O. Hoover and Mrs. Alice I. Hoover.

The first class leader was John Gladwin, which position he still holds. J. O. Hoover and N. R. Hathaway are the present Stewards. The Trustees are N. R. Hathaway, John Gladwin, Z. G. Allen, John Blanchard and J. O. Hoover.

The corner stone of a church edifice was laid by the society, June 1st, of this year. The structure is to be of wood, and will cost about $2,000.

The present Pastor is Rev. J. VanNess of Strawberry Point. The church has a membership of twenty-one.

The United Brethren Church, now existing at Brush Creek, may be fairly dated as beginning on the evening when Rev. Mr. Brown preached his sermon at the O'Rear cabin, in 1847, for he and other evangelists of that faith preached continuously from that time, in the southeastern part of Fayette County, and as fast as possible, organized little churches. Recent efforts have given the church at Brush Creek considerable accessions to its membership; and on Monday, June 3, 1878, the corner stone for a new church was laid, under the direction of Elder Sutton, of Muscatine. The proposed edifice is at the head of Main street, and from its site, one can look down over most of the village. It is to be of brick, with cast-iron caps for windows and doors, which, with the other trimmings and et ceteras, is to be painted a light stone color. The body of the church will be sixteen feet high in the clear - about the right height to suit the majority of speakers. It is thirty-two feet wide by forty-eight feet long, with a tower rising in front, to the height of thirty-two feet, surmounted by a light tapering spire.

The Building Committee are W. R. Morley, Jonas Gunn, Lucius Carey, O. R. Robbins and Dr. C. F. Waldron. O. R. Robbins is the builder. The carpenter work will be done by R. Newton and M. L. DeWolf.


York Lodge, No. 202, A., F. & A. M., was organized at Taylorsville under dispensation dated Dec. 18, 1866, Jan. 26, 1867, by the following members of the Order: S. P. White, W. M.; Hiram Gernoud, S. W.; Charles Herriman, J. W.; S. R. Rice, Treasurer; Peter White, Secretary; Peter Kuney, S. D.; Stephen Seward, J. D.; Charles Glidden, Tiler; John Lowe, J. D. Kuney, William Pratt. The Lodge charter was issued June 5, 1867, and the Lodge was constituted June 29, Nathan Scofield, D. G. M., presiding. The Lodge remained at Taylorsville until late in 1873, when the place of meeting was transferred to Brush Creek, the first session at this place being November 8, 1873. The present hall, over C. D. Shambaugh & Son's store, was dedicated December 27, following. The present officers of York Lodge are: J. H. Walrath, W. M.; S. H. Hysham, S. W.; James Cooney, J. W.; J. A. Blanchard, Treasurer; John Hutchinson, Secretary; A. Beman, S. D.; E. S. Stowell, J. D.; J. D. Kuney, Tiler; S. H. Allen, S. S.; O. H. Osborn, J. S. The present membership is thirty-four. Meets Saturday evenings on or before full nmoon.

A. O. of U. W.

Pacific Lodge, No. 65, was instituted May 11, 1876, by J. M. Ferris, of Elkader, D. G. M. The first officers were: Grier W. Whelan, P. M. W.; Isaac A. Smith, M. W.; William Marshall, G. Fl.; Myron W. Page, O.; Oscar H. Osborn, Rec.; Eugene M. Voorhees, Fin.; Almon Rawson, Rec.; Marcus H. Lackey, I. W.; William House, O. W.; A. B. Vines, G.; C. K. Leonhart, C. A. Lewis and M. W. Page, Trustees. The remaining members were: C. D. Little, D. P. Boyce, Charles J. Wheeler and J. H. Shaw. The present officers are: B. F. Little, P. M. W.; W. C. Gleim, M. W.; D. Walrath, F.; L. L. Wood, O.; A. Rawson, Rec.; Edward Rice, Fin.; H. N. Gregory, Rec.; J. A. Wood, I. W.; E. W. Peterman, O. W.; J. H. Little, G.; M. W. Page, F. Gleim and George Genung, Trustees. William Marshall and O. H. Osborn have been representatives to Grand Lodge. The present membership is about thirty. The Lodge meets every Wednesday evening at Masonic Hall, having removed from their former room June 5. The affairs of the Lodge have been well managed, for the Society has on hand a cash surplus of about $250.


(Fairfield Township)

This village is located on Sections 22 and 23, Township 92, Range 7, and was laid out by Jared Taylor. The survey was made by Henry C. Lacy. (See general history.)

The first breaking done on the sections on which this village is located was by M. C. Sperry, in 1846.

Dr. Taylor settled here in 1851, and began the practice of medicine.

The saw-mill at this place was built by William Stevenson in 1854. Joshua Mead helping to do the framing. The first store was started by _____ Bassett, in 1852. Robert Powers and Nathan Putnam started in business two or three years later.

A school house, of logs, was erected in 1851, and school was taught in the building by Clarissa Seeley, now Mrs. Moyne.

This was used till the needs of the district required a larger structure, and in 1857 a frame building was erected. A succession of United Brethren ministers held religious service in the log school house, among whom are recalled the names of Rev. John Brown, who began to preach in the township in 1848, followed by John Dolahide, Rev. ___ Shafer, Rev. ___ Moore and the Rev. J. S. Rock. Rev. Mr. Moore, before his missionary work began Lafayette County, had been preaching in Delaware County for several years.

Killen Voshell and Hannah Taylor were married at Taylorsville in March, 1851, by Jared Taylor, J. P.

The next marriage consummated in Taylorsville was that of Jesse Voshell and Anna Dempster, in the Fall of 1853, the nuptial blessing being bestowed by G. H. Miller, J. P.

The first hotel in Taylorsville was by Hacob Hartmen in 1856, but for two or three years before this time, George L. Ransom provided for the needs of travelers at his dwelling house.

Lewis Ludlow, a German, settled near Taylorsville about 1855. Old settlers relate that he had a good deal of talent for drawing and painting. Mr. Bassett was a tall, stoop-shouldered, long-nosed man. He was much given to talking about Quasqueton, where he had formerly resided, and where he afterward returned. Once while Bassett was gone to his former home, Ludlow got a big board, on which he drew Bassett, full size, with his finger pointing to a sign that read 'Quasqueton, twenty-eight miles.' This Ludlow nailed to the hitching post near Bassett's store. When Bassett returned, he saw that the joke was on him, and allowed the portrait to stand a week or ten days.

Smith & Towsler, in 1857, was one of the succession of firms that did business at Taylorsville. Phil Smith, the senior partner, slept in the store. He became convinced that it was necessary to have a watch dog, and invested in a canine warranted to be ferocious enough to eat up any burglar at sight. That night he chained up the animal near his bed, and retired to rest. As his slumbers began, he commenced to snore with such terrible effect that he howled just once, sprang up, breaking his chain as he tried to escape, jumped through a ten-dollar pane of glass, and disappeared, never to return.

A. M. Childs was in the mercantile business at Taylorsville in 1860. This town at that time was doing a large trade, and it is said that Childs has often sold


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