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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 662~




Lorenzo Dutton was born February 28, 1826, in Meredith, Delaware county, New York, the son of Oliver and Polly (Jones) Dutton. His mother was a native of Long Island, his father of Connecticut. His father was a farmer and came west first on a visit in 1858, then returned to his old New York home, but in 1877 came back to Fayette county and lived with Lorenzo until his death, in 1885. His paternal grandfather was a soldier of the war of 1812. Lorenzo was the second of seven children, six of whom lived to maturity. He was educated in a private school in Meredith, attending school in winter and farming in summer. When nineteen, he was working for his uncle, and was called out one night to defend the community against anti-renters, who had terrified the citizens, and remained on duty about two weeks. Then he went to Steuben county and worked in the fields in summer and in the woods in winter, remaining there for two years before returning home, in March, 1848.


In May, 1848, he, with Henry and Charles Jones, William Blanchard and W. W. Bailey, started west from Utica, where they took the train to Buffalo, then went by boat to Chicago. Then there were no railroads west of Chicago, so they stayed there a while, then walked to Beloit, then rode with teamsters to Galena, and from there went to Sand Prairie where they hired as hay hands. In July they started on foot to the Turkey River country, and passing through Dubuque and Colesburg, came to Elkader. There the first grist mill was being put up by Thompson, Sage and Davis, who told Mr. Dutton and his companions of the prairie northeast of West Union, and said that there was one shanty already put up there. They started there on foot the next day with a few provisions, struck a military road, followed it to where Ed. Heiserman now lives and there ate the last of their food. Though each had a gun, game was very wild. A man came along with a team going to Old Mission to harvest, and they all went there with him and stayed over night, got some provisions and started back to the prairie mentioned. That night they slept in Indian wigwams. They looked around east of West Union, then followed the track to the breaking and cabin, which consisted of four forks covered with basswood, with room for only two, and two men were already in it. They had an ax and tools. As it was raining, the travelers built a fire to get dry. The next morning most of them were sick. They started on in a northeast direction and about noon reached the place where Mr. Dutton's farm house now stands. Here they finished their provisions, with the exception of one slice of bread. They then went through the timber to a point eight miles above Elkader, remained out all night, and the next day found a settler and dealer with the Indians, Wanser by name. Then Mr. Dutton and Henry Jones went to Sodom, Gomorrah, and other places in Clayton county, then back to Elkader.


Jack Thompson, the miller, and Carlton took Mr. Dutton to look over the Fayette county land again, and he and the Joneses decided to settle here. So they went to Sand Prairie and bought provisions, a wagon, ploy, pitchfork, hoe and scythe, also three yoke of oxen, and started for the prairie, stopping at Elkader to buy a little lumber, and arrived at the place September 11, 1848. They set up forks and with the lumber made a shanty, thatching the roof. They discovered a number of bee trees and lived on "slapjacks" and honey. They cut hay and stacked it and Jones, who had been west before, said they ought to burn around the cabin. They tried this and the wind changed and burned the shanty down and also burned the haystacks. They hauled logs and built another shanty. On November 2d and 3d eighteen inches of snow fell and the snow stayed on until April. They had no shelter for the oxen and turned them out for exercise. Jones started after the oxen one night and never got back until morning. Dutton started out the next morning, hunted them all day, and returned without cattle, but with frozen feet. He went on his hands and knees for two weeks and did not entirely recover until 1896. Henry Smith's boys found the cattle about a week later and returned them. One went past the yard and on to Elgin. Once during the winter Henry Jones went to Old Mission to buy corn, and afterwards Mr. Dutton took the oxen and home-made sled and went after corn. The other Jones was then in Clayton county. There was a man near who had hay, so they took the cattle there, where two of them starved to death. January 1st Mr. Downey, who lived where the breaking was, came to cut logs, stopped over night with the boys and left a barrel of flour. In the spring Mr. Dutton broke ten acres on his claim and put in winter wheat. The crop was a failure, but they cut it and threshed with a traveling thresher. One day he was hunting bee trees and found Dutton's cave, in which he killed eighteen rattlesnakes.


In the fall of 1849 he returned to Steuben county, New York, and married Malinda A. Hawley, returning to Iowa the next May. He farmed with Henry Jones that summer and then dissolved partnership. Jones was afterwards county surveyor. Mr. Dutton had settled in section 3, on a three hundred and twenty-acre claim, but a friend entered part of it and he lost it. He got one hundred and twenty-five acres and forty acres school section. That fall he went to Dubuque and got a land warrant on the eighty-five acres north of his claim. This was in timber and he cleared it. He had traded the school land for the building of a house in 1858. He lived here until he came to West Union in 1896. While on the farm he raised a great many hogs, first raising Chester Whites, later changing to Poland-Chinas. In 1853 he had bad luck. He had bought a team of horses and put them on a threshing machine; the thunder scared them, and one of them ran his foot under the tumbling rods and broke his leg. At this time he had one cow and had raised a calf to be two years, when it died, probably killed by lightning.

Mr. Dutton is the father of the following children by his first wife, who died October 1, 1868: Lily F., born May 5, 1851; Carrie H., now Mrs. Hackett, born December 1855; and Elsie Mabel, deceased, born June 1857. Mr. Dutton was married on October 5, 1881, to Mrs. Christ Verity, who was Sarah Ann Preston. Mrs. Dutton is a Methodist, while Mr. Dutton is a Christian in belief; he helped organize the Baptist church of West Union in 1852, and took an active part in church work for some time. He voted for Fremont and has since been a member of Fremont's party. His first vote would have been cast for Taylor in 1848, but he was snowed up and could not go to the polls. Mr. Dutton is one of the oldest men now living in the county and his experiences in the times when the country was new are extremely interesting. He is a splendid example of the type of men who conquered the wild country and made it the productive region that it is now."


~transcribed for the Fayette Co IAGenWeb Project by Georgianna Gray


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