Fremont County, Iowa

Fremont County History

Hamburg, 1875

From A.T. Andreas' Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa, 1875
(transcribed by Pat O'Dell,


This county is in the southwest corner of the state, and has an area of 528 square miles, or 337,920 acres.


This thriving and prosperous town is situated on the west side of the Nishnabotany River, about three miles above its confluence with the Missouri, and ten miles from Sidney. It is near the southwest corner of Fremont County, where the Nishnabotany with its beautiful valley, breaks through the long line of bluffs that extend irregularly above and below. Nature has lavished upon this locality many of her grandest and most beautiful touches.

Immediately west of the town, rises a bluff, or ridge, from the summit of which one may look over many miles of the surrounding country. It towers up nearly 300 feet above the plateau upon which the town is built, and from the top, breaks off so abruptly on either side, as to almost make one dizzy to look below either way.

Up a narrow pathway, where only a footman can climb, one may ascend to a point commanding a view of portions of the States of Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas. From this elevation, looking to the east and south, we behold the broad Missouri with its island groves, its border forest of cottonwood, with the intervening mile of alluvial bottom prairie; and beyond all, the swelling slopes and fields of Nebraska.

Down through the maize fields and the native meadows, like a silver thread, winds a brook known as Willow Creek, the water of which flow from springs reaching up along the base of the bluffs some ten miles. Appearing as a mere pathway in the grass, and stretching in a long line up parallel with the river, we may faintly see what that moving train in the distance proves to be the track of the Council Bluff & St. Joseph Railroad. But the majestic steamer still carries a portion of the trade of the upper county, for occasionally may be seen some proud craft in the distance, slowly plowing its pathway through the waters. As it moves upward on its course, we may catch glimpses of it through the cottonwood groves, and watch its curling wreaths of smoke as it "round to" to drop a portion of its burden at Sidney Landing and Nebraska City.

But we must look in another direction. Down from the northwest, meandering through a valley as fertile as any on the gobe, comes the Nishnabotany River to empty its tribute, three miles below, into the more turbid waters which have traveled on their journey more than a thousand miles from the northwest. How many hundred years ago this beautiful little river began to cut its way through these bluffs can not now be told, nor why it was. Perhaps it was, that a city in the after ages might rise here. Beyond this valley, with its green lining of trees, and looking over the bustling little city of Hamburg, to the east and north, we behold fine cultivated farms.

Twenty-eight years ago, a young German named Augustus Borcher, wandering from his native Fatherland, cast his lot here, in what was then an uncultivated wilderness, to trade with the Indians the remnant of a small stock of goods. In 1857, he conceived and consumated the project of locating a town at this spot, and not forgetting the fame of his native Hamburg on the Elbe, he gave that name to his newly founded city on the Missouri. Hamburg has now a population of 2,053.

Jacob McKissick was the first merchant in Hamburg, and built the first business house in 1858. E.W. Allen, in 1868, erected at this place one of the finest flouring mills in the West. The building is 48 by 52 feet, and four stories high. The foundation is built of brick, and the balance frame. It has a 48 horse engine, with three sets of burrs - all the machinery being new and of the latest and best patterns. It stands at the southwest part of the town on the site of a mill burned for Mr. Allen a year or two before. He is deserving of credit for his enterprise.

The first large brick business block was erected by M. Hellman & Co., and C.S. Rider & Co. in 1868. The fine building of Sipple & Co., containing the Masonic Hall, was erected shortly after.


Hamburg was orginally laid out in 1857. Since then various additions have been made to the city and are respectively called Nuckoll's Addition, H.W. Phelps' Addition, Roadroad Addition, and East Hamburg. The town was incorporated April 1, 1867. It now covers 560 acres of land, situated in sections 21, 22, 27 and 28, in township 67, north of range 42 west.

The first railroad, the Council Bluffs and St. Joseph, was completed and opened to Hamburg December 30, 1867. It is now merged in the Kansas City, St. Joseph and Council Bluffs Railroad, one of the most important north and south roads in the country. The Nebraska City Branch of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad was completed to Hamburg in 1870, and here makes a junction with the former road.

Since the construction of the railroads the town has had a sure, steady and prosperous growth. It is the natural depot for the productions of one of the finest agricultural regions on the continent, the surrounding county being exceedingly fertile, and abounding in timber of the most useful kinds. The town is admirably situated, being at the junction of the rich valley of the Nishnabotany with that of the Missouri. There is not in Iowa a more beautiful or convenient town site.

Main street, the principal business street, is a mile and three-fourths in length, perfectly straight, and one hundred feet wide. The whole town is regularly laid out, with street and alleys running at right angle. Situated at the junction of two important railroads, it has superior advantages as a shipping point. The price of wood per cord is $3.50, and coal is readily and cheaply obtained from the Iowa, Missouri and Kansas mines, over the competing line of railroad.


The principal branches of business of Hamburg may be summed up as follows: Two steam flouring mills, two steam elevators, two machine shops and foundries, two wagon shops, five blacksmith shops, one pottery, large brewery and malt house, two dealers in agricultural implements, two hardware stores, three furniture stores, one chair factory, two clothing stores, three drug stores, two book stores, two banks, one notion store, four dry good stores, six grocery stores, three hotels, two boot and shoe stores, eight restaurant, one marble shop, two harness shops, two livery and sale stable, one Democratic and one Republican newspaper, two jewelry stores, three bakeries, three meat markets, nine lawyer, five doctors, three real estate dealers, four brick yards, two barbers, four millinery establishments, four carpenters and contractors, one art gallery, one dentist, one pork and packing house, two insurance agents, three sewing machine agencies, and offices of the Western Union Telegraph Company, and of the United States and American Express Companies.


The graded system has been adopted in the public schools of the city, the divisions being into five departments, under one principal or superinendent, and managed by a board of education. The schools are well conducted and in a prosperous condition.

Arrangements are being made for the establishment also of a private or parochial school, under the management of the Sisters of the Catholic Church.


Hamburg has six churches, viz: Presbyterian, two Methodist Episcopal, Catholic, Baptist, and Christian. All have brick houses of worship, except the latter, which owns a good wooden building.


  • The newspapers published at Hamburg are as follows:
    • The Hamburg Democrat, published by W.A. Fulmer.
    • The Fremont Times, established by Eaton Brothers in 1866; now edited and published by W.W. Copeland.
    • The Pastoral Visitor, edited by George W. Robey.


The first mayor of the city was R.K. Crandall.

  • The officers for 1875 are the following:
    • Mayor, W.A. Stow;
    • Recorder, J.M Stauffer;
    • Treasurer, W.N. Smith;
    • Attorney, J.W. Dalbey;
    • Marshal, J.L. Small.
    • City Council
      • W.W. Smith
      • J.M. Alexander
      • S.M. Hewitt
      • William Kelly
      • Samuel Jacobs.
    The other towns, villages and post offices in the county are Bartlett, Deer Creek, Eastport, Farragut, High Creek, McPaul, Percival, Plum Hollow, Riverton, Tabor, and Vaughan.

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