The Town of Wellsburg

Wellsburg is regarded as one of the best trading centers in Central Iowa. There is possibly not another town under 500 inhabitants within an area of a hundred miles around us that does as large a volume of business during the year as this town. There are at present three elevators, and their grain receipts for the year exceed those of any other town in Grundy county. There are five general stores which do a business on an average of $175,000.00 a year. There are three hardware stores, the same number of implement dealers, two lumber yards and two banks.

The town is located in the center of one of the best farming sections in Iowa. The farmers are specialists in their line of business they are unusually prosperous and naturally a town that draws its support from such a people possesses an advantage that helps to keep it in the front rank of thriving towns in Iowa. The town has a good system of water works, it has a splendid gas lighting system and a new $10,000 school house is to be one of the improvements made in 1911. Property values are high and they are going higher. Incidentally Wellsburg showed a larger percentage of population increase in the 1910 census than any other town in Grundy county.

--Atlas of Grundy County, Iowa, 1911


Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow

A Pen Picture of One of the Liveliest Little Towns in Iowa.
A Few Items Regarding the Town's Progress.

A year ago citizens of Wellsburg came together and resolved to incorporate their town. The thought was carried out. Wellsburg was incorporated, and active, wide-awake men were put in as officers. The town immediately awake and began the improvement, which is still going on. We venture the assertion that Wellsburg has made more advancement in this, its first year, as a town, than any other place in Iowa has done in the same length of time. A representative of the Democrat has made almost weekly visits to Wellsburg and has noted the improvements and the awakening.

During the year just passed a good jail has been built, and a rock pile arranged for. The latter has a tendency to keep vagrants and tramps at a distance, but those who do come this way generally contribute a little towards macadamizing our streets.

The work of macadamizing the streets was begun January 1, and will be completed early this spring. When this is finished, our town will have the best paved streets in Grundy or Hardin county, with sidewalks in front of every house in town, also from the depot to the business center, a distance of six blocks.

Five more blocks of sidewalk and five more street crossings will be put in as soon as the weather will permit this spring.

Mayor's Report
For the year just ending the mayor reports the receipts of $13.72 from poll and other taxes, in work and cash. From fines collected the school fund received $107.00. The total number of convictions this first year in the mayor's court was 63. The number sentenced to jail by the mayor was seven. The number of fines remitted by the mayor, four. The first improvement ordered was an eleven foot sidewalk, which was put down in front of all business houses about July 1, 1896.

Mayor's Report For The Past Year
March 8, 1897
Gentlemen of the City Council: I herewith present you with my yearly report of my office for the year commencing May 13, 1896, and ending March 1, 1897:
The number of trials under the state law was as follows:
Disturbing the peace  13
Assault 8
Larceny 3
Intoxication 5
Resisting officer 1
Profanity 1
Disorderly conduct 1
Not Convicted 3
Total 35

The number of trials under ordinance were:
Remitted fines 1
Disorderly houses  27
Total 28

Total number of cases tried was 63
Total amount of fines collected under the state law, $99.00.
Sent to jail 9
Cases settled 1
Remitted 2
Not guilty under state law  3

Fines collected under city ordinance 
  for disorderly houses
Licenses 26.00
Poll tax 13.72
Grand total from all sources $714.72

Respectfully submitted,
W. T. Chinn, Mayor

Treasurer's Report
Receipts and disbursements for the town of Wellsburg for the year ending March 9, 1897:
Fines $786.40
Licenses 26.50
Poll tax and property taxes  13.72
Total $826.62

Lumber, jail, road work, crossings, 
  sidewalks, and general expenses, total
Balance on hand $116.21

The City's Officers
We give below a sketch of the town officers during the first year of its incorporation. Their portraits will be found on a separate sheet of fine paper, and are presented to our readers as a souvenir of the first year of the incorporated town of Wellsburg. What has been accomplished by these efficient officers will be found elsewhere in this issue.

The Mayor
William T. Chinn was born in Rock Island, Ill., August 27, 1852. After attending public schools and receiving instruction from private teachers, he took the medical course at the State University of Iowa and also graduated at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Iowa, at Keokuk, Iowa. He holds state certificate No. 3595, A.

Dr. Chinn practiced in his chosen profession in both Scott and Muscatine counties, coming to Grundy county in November of 1894.

It was through his efforts and the assistance of others that Wellsburg was incorporated. He has shown himself thoroughly competent to manage municipal affairs, being broad-minded and working always for the city's advancement.

Mayor Chinn is personally known to inhabitants of northwest Grundy, and highly spoken of by them. A visit to his hospitable home, presided over by his excellent wife and entertaining daughter, Mabel, will convince all that Dr. Chinn deserves the kind words from his friends and neighbors. Mayor Chinn is well read in his profession, and also keeps himself posted on national, state, and local politics, and is qualified to fill any position our people could bestow upon him. As a mayor his judgment is clear. He believes our laws were made for everybody and he deals out justice accordingly. He knows no clique or clan and gives all cases a thorough investigation, his only desire being to do his duty. Our people have shown their appreciation of this worthy townsman by electing him to the office of mayor for another term.

Our Treasurer
John G. Bullanger was born in Dyersville, Dubuque county, Iowa, in 1861, and resided there with his parents until he was 23 years of age. He went to Jesup, Iowa, and accepted a position as harnessmaker with Theo. Miller, he having worked seven years at this business at Dyersville. After leaving Jesup, Mr. Bullanger worked at Earlville, Dyersville, Worthington, Dubuque, and finally returned to Jesup and again accepted a position with Theo. Miller, and was married in October, 1893 to Miss Mary Miller, a daughter of his employer. He remained with Mr. Miller for three years more, when he moved with his family to Wellsburg, and accepted the position of harnessmaker with Martin & Faust, which position he still holds with the Martins, Mr. Faust deceased.

The subject of our sketch has given the people of this community good service as a harnessmaker since he has come to Wellsburg and is a fine fellow socially. Everybody knowns John.

Our Recorder
John H. Muller was born in Leer, Germany, July 4, 1845, of German descent, came to this country in 1868, locating in Grundy county on a farm five miles southeast of Ackley, Iowa. He moved to Chicago in 1890, where he lived four and one-half years. He worked on the ornamental work of the World's fair buildings for a year and a half and was expressman for about eighteen months. He came back to Grundy county two years ago and located in Wellsburg where he engaged in the butcher business. Mr. Muller was elected as recorder of the town of Wellsburg the first year of its incorporation and has been re-elected to that position for the coming year. Mr. Muller is well known in this community and has the respect of all.

Deputy Marshal
Dick Peters was born one mile north of the town of Wellsburg, and has resided here ever since. He farmed with his father, Jacob Peters, until February, 1896, when he entered the lumber, coal and lime business with Claas Primus. He is a thoroughly reliable young man and has been conducting a very good business here for the past year. He is the deputy marshal of the city.

Our Aldermen
Peter Klugkist
Peter Klugkist was born in Weener, Ostfriesland, Germany, in 1862, of German parentage. He came to Chicago, Ill., in 1882, where he worked at the bench as a journeyman shoemaker for two years, he having served an apprenticeship of seven years at this trade in his native country. In 1885 he came to Grundy county and located in Wellsburg. He accepted a clerkship with Joseph Doyen, a general merchant which position he held for two years. In 1887 he purchased the stock of his employer, and has continued the business here since that time. He has a fine store building to which he will add another story in the spring. A special feature of his store is the neatness of arrangement and cleanliness with which he keeps his goods and building.

Mr. Klugkist is a lover of fine horses and has several good ones of his own. He is a public-spirited man and is always one of the first to take hold of anything of benefit to the town or the people of Wellsburg. He does business on business principles and has the esteem and respect of the entire community.

D. H. Bonacker
D. H. Bonacker was born in Johnstown, Pa., in 1857; left there with his parents at the age of 6 years, and located at Freeport, Ill., in 1863, where they resided until the spring of 1877 when he came with his parents to Clinton, Iowa. In 1879 they moved to Ackley, Iowa, where his parents still reside. Mr. Bonacker lived in Ackley for seventeen years, during which time he worked for four years with the firm of Martin & Faust, and afterward engaged in the furniture and agricultural implement business for himself. Over a year ago he was again employed by Martin & Faust to take charge of their store at Wellsburg. He was married to Miss Louisa Heffelmeyer at Ackley, Iowa, in 1882, and now has a nice family of two boys and four girls.

As will be seen by the foregoing sketch Mr. Bonacker is a man who is thoroughly reliable, and has made a host of friends during his short residence here.

J. A. Schafer
J. A. Schafer was born in Campen, Germany, and came to this country in 1865, locating in Steven county, Ill., and came to Grundy county twenty-nine years ago, locating two miles east of Wellsburg. He has been engaged in the machinery business in this town for twelve years. Mr. Schafer has the respect of this community and is a steady and trusty man.

J. Doyen
J. Doyen, one of Wellsburg's first alderman, was born in Lubbertsfehn, Amtaurich, Germany on the 10th of September, 1853. He came to this country with his parents in 1867, and located on a farm near Wellsburg. in 1876, Mr. Doyen was married and moved to Chicago, where he resided for about seven years. He again located in Wellsburg in 1883, and entered the general merchandise business, which he successfully conducted until 1887, when he sold to Peter Klugkist. He then opened a general hardware and implement business and is today conducting a very successful business in this line. His advertisement may be found in another column.

J. L. Hartman
J. L. Hartman was born near Nelsonville, Ohio, in November, 1858, and came to Linn county in 1861, with his parents. After this they made several changes, but their home was at Springville, Iowa. In 1872 the family moved to Hardin county, where he resided until he moved to Wellsburg in 1892. On arriving at this place Mr. Hartman opened a blacksmith shop and is conducting a very successful business in that line at the present time. He has followed farming principally and owns a fine farm in Hardin county.

Claas Primus
Claas Primus was born in Campen, Germany, in 1851, of German descent, and came to this country with his parents in 1856, locating in Sheybogan, Wis. He moved to Illinois in the spring of 1857, and came to Grundy county in 1865, his parents locating on the old Primus farm four miles southwest of Wellsburg. He worked on the farm with his parents for ten years when he married Miss G. Riekena, and began operating a farm for himself, which farm he still owns. In 1894 Mr. Primus opened a store in Wellsburg. This business he still conducts and in connection has a lumber and coal business with Mr. Peters.

Mr. Primus was chairman of the board of supervisors for four years and served six years on the board, and has held a number of other influential positions in the county. He was alderman during the first year of the incorporation of Wellsburg and holds the respect of the entire community.

Town Officers
Town officers for ensuing year elected March 1, are as follows:
Mayor John Muller
Recorder John Bullenger
Assessor Wm. Reinhart
Alderman J. L. Hartman and W. Trey
Street Commissioner  Peter Klugkist

Shipping Statistics
Some idea of the amount of business done in Wellsburg may be gleaned from the following report, made by the agent of the B., C. R. & N. railway, at Wellsburg:
Tubs Butter Lbs.
Martin & Faust  2,157 152,795

Cases Eggs
H. B. Koolman  236
C. Primus 661
P. Klugkist 166

Cattle Hogs Grain
J. A. Carton Co.  111 307
Geo. Wells 17 7 9
Various 13 4 1

Mdse. received, in round numbers, 1,500,000 pounds yearly.

Neessen Bros. and Primus & Peters handled each about seventy cars of lumber, coal and building materials.

Egg Statistics
From May 1, 1896 to Oct. 21, 1895, J. L. Sperry, Grundy Center's creameryman, purchased eggs from the following dealers, which the figures will explain:
H. B. Koolman 756
Peter Klugkist  677
Claas Primus 230
Total 1663

W. F. Graham
W. F. Graham was born in Wigtonshire Scotland, August 15, 1870, of Scotch descent. He remained there until 16 years of age. Came to Earlville, Ill., in February, 1886. In 1887 he went to Elgin, Ill., and accepted a position with the Elgin Butter company, remaining about a year when he was sent to Watertown, Wis., by this firm where he conducted a creamery for them over two years. He then moved to New Hartford, Iowa, where himself and brother purchased a creamery. This firm of Graham Bros., also conducted two creameries in the western part of the state, one at Hull, and one at Sioux Center, both in Sioux county. After four years the brothers sold out their business and the subject of our sketch visited his old home in Scotland for about one year. Returning to New Hartford in October of 1895, the brothers again formed a partnership and purchased the Dairyville, Grundy county, creamery. This they conducted for one year, when W. F. sold his interest to his brother and purchased the Wellsburg creamery December 1, 1896.

This creamery receives about 45,000 pounds of milk a week, is conducted on thorough business principles and the product is all shipped to New York where it brings the top notch in prices. Mr. Graham attended the National Butter Maker's association at Rockford, Ill., in 1894, and secured a bronze medal for the product of the New Hartford creamery. He is a man in love with his business and Wellsburg is fortunate in securing him as one of her business men. The Wellsburg creamery is in position to handle all milk brought to it and pay the highest prices. Our farmers will be wise if they add more cows to their herd and those who have not as yet gone into the milk business should investigate the subject. We have good grass in the county and the market for milk is always good compared to that for grain. Study on this subject will help our farmers to solve the problem of how to make money out of their land.

--Grundy County Democrat (Grundy Center, Iowa), 11 March 1897

The City of Wellsburg

Wellsburg is situated in the northwestern part of Grundy county in the midst of the richest farming community in the state. For miles on either side thrifty German farmers, happy in the possession of their homes, have joined hands with the business-man in making Wellsburg one of the most important towns of its size in Iowa. Its many business lines are represented by five general stores, three hardware store, two drug stores, three implement stocks, two furniture stocks, harness shops, two lumber yards, two elevators and one of the most substantial banks in the county; besides hotels, restaurants, livery barns, shops, etc., all well capitalized and prosperous. The Rock Island railway furnishes ample provisions for freight and passenger traffic. The town is provided with city water, a local and long distant telephone system; together with the best of school and church facilities. New cement walks are being layed along every thoroughfare while substantial business blocks and beautiful homes adorn the well kept streets. Wellsburg has long enjoyed a steady, healthy growth; her citizens are happy, entertaining and hospitable constituting an ideal place to enter business or live in retirement.

Dr. W. T. Chinn Mayor
Dick Claassen Clerk
Charles Beibershimer  Treasurer
R. J. Williamson Attorney
George Moeller Marshal

H. B. Koolman, Pres.  D. J. Riekena
Walter Neessen John Tjaden
D. J. Peters Joseph Doyen

--The Wellsburg Herald (Wellsburg, Iowa), 11 January 1907, pg 4

Monday Fire At Wellsburg Brings $6000 Loss

Old Church Building Owned By Doyens Burns With Much Machinery

Fire Monday afternoon destroyed the old church building at Wellsburg owned by the Doyen estate, causing a loss estimated at $6,000. The building was used as a warehouse for the storage of new farm machinery.

The fire originated between the ceiling and the roof of the building. When it was discovered the flames were coming through the roof. The fire company responded promptly after the alarm was turned in but before they got there the entire inside of the building was in flames. It was not possible to remove any of the contents. The fire company turned two hoses loose on the building and they were able to hold the blaze within the walls of the building. The roof and the interior of the building and the contents were completely destroyed. Nothing but the shell of the building remained and this was partly burned from the inside. What is left is not worth enough to pay the wrecking charges.

The building was located in the northeast part of town. There was a strong wind from the south. Had the fire not been kept confined within the walls it would have been difficult to save the Tjaden residence property directly north of the building.

The cause of the fire is not known. It is possible that it might have caught from a lighted cigarette carried to the building by a sparrow. The building was locked at the time and there had been no one inside of it during the day.

The skating rink west of the burned building suffered some damage to the floor.

The loss is a severe blow to the owners as they carried no insurance on building or contents. The Doyens have two other buildings in town in which they carry a portion of their stock. There is insurance on the other buildings and the stock they contain. They believed that this building being pretty well out of the fire range would justify them to get along without any insurance protection.

The new farm machinery in the building may have some salvage value. Such pieces as may have some value will be rebuilt and offered for sale.

The burned building was the first church erected in Wellsburg by the Reformed denomination. It was built 34 years ago. The rapidly growing congregation outgrew the first frame building and in 1916 it was replaced by the present modern and commodious church. J. C. Doyen bought the old church building and moved it to the vacant lot which it since occupied.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 25 June 1931

Main street Wellsburg is considered the two business blocks of Adams Street. It was a two-way street until 14 April 1958. At the 17 March 1958 Community Club meeting, Mayor Luke Groninga introduced discussion the possibility of making the two business blocks one-way going north. After considerable discussion the club voted unanimously to go on record as favoring a trial run for the proposal. Backed by action of the Community Club, Main Street became one-way on 14 April 1958 in an effort to relieve the hazardous heavy truck travel from the south and to allow ease in parking on both sides of the street when approaching from the south.

--Wellsburg Herald (Wellsburg, Iowa), 20 March 1958