IOWA HISTORY PROJECT
HAIR, JAMES T., Ed. Iowa State Gazetteer, Shippers' Guide and Business Directory. Chicago: Bailey & Hair, 1865
- transcribers notes: the transcribers have altered the page
layout from the original book by typing the footnote comments
entirely & directly following the (*) footnoted and in a
different color text. The original
book put the footnotes at the bottom of the pages, where they frequently
were printed on more than one page. No other changes have been made.
The southeast part of the county is included in
the Lead District, and mining is an important branch of the business of
There are three large prairies and several smaller ones. The largest of these is High Prairie, beginning in township ninety-two of range three, three miles west of the Mississippi, extending in a north-westerly direction, gradually receding from the river up to the north line of the county, where it is distant from the river ten miles. Its width varies from one to six miles. The whole western country with its wealth of delightful scenery, does not afford more beautiful landscapes than are to be seen from several of the highest points of prairie.
A similar prairie, from one to four miles in width, lies between the Turkey and Volga rivers, commencing near the junction, extending northwesterly, and is terminated by a belt of openings in the sixth range. Its rolls are much higher and not as gently undulating as High Prairie.
Garden Prairie, extending from the northwest of Delaware, across the southwest of Clayton into the southeast of Fayette, is from one to three miles in width, well watered, thickly settled, and much more gently undulating than either of those before mentioned.
STREAMS -- The largest stream passing through the interior of the county is Turkey River, from two to four chains in width, running rapidly through eight townships, and far below the general surface of the surrounding country, (as in fact do most of the streams in the county) with a bed varied by smooth limestone, pebbles, and white sand, for the most part between high rocky bluffs, occasionally widening out to nearly a mile in width, leaving valuable bottoms of deep rich alluvial soil, some of which are prairie and others heavily timbered.
The timber bordering on Turkey River is of excellent quality, and extends on either side from one to five miles, and consists of the usual varieties found in Iowa, viz: white, burr, black, pin and yellow oak, linn, maple, black and white walnut, hickory, elm, ash, aspen and ironwood. Its tributaries from the north are Cedar, Dry-mill, and Pony Creeks; and from the south, Blue Belt, Little Turkey, Peck's Branch, Elk Creek and Volga River.
The Volga passes through four townships, and is a very clear, rapid stream, one chain wide, with gravelly bottom, bounded by deep slopes mostly covered with scattering burr oaks. there are occasional bottoms as on the Turkey, but of less extent. Its principal tributaries are from the south, and are Bear, Honey and Cox Creeks.
The streams emptying into the Mississippi are Bloody Run, about one mile north of McGregor in township 95, Snymagill in township 94, Buck Creek in township 93, Miners' Creek at Guttenberg in township 92, Turkey River opposite Cassville in Wisconsin, and Panther Creek in township 91.
The south fork of the Maquoketa passes through the southwestern township of the county.
In township 94, range 5, Robert's Creek sinks, and rises again about three miles southeast, under the name of Pony Creek.
GEOLOGY -- The rocks frequently met with, exposed in the bluffs along the streams, and which underlie the greater part of the county, are coralline and pentamerus beds of upper magnesian limestone, resting on a stratum of white friable sandstone -- this sandstone is exposed at the foot of the bluffs on Turkey River, and Buck Creek, and was struck in making the road up Clayton Hill from the river, near the foot. It is white with shades of light yellow, very compact, and is well adapted to making mortar, and is so weakly cemented, that it may be easily excavated with a shovel or spade.
Cass, township 91, range 6, lies within the drift region, described by Prof. Owen, as the largest in the world, which he calls the Cedar Drift. The drift rock, boulders or lost rock, as they are usually termed, are mostly of porphyritic granite.*
Upon the shores of the Mississippi, are pebbles in great
variety; little granite boulders from the size of a pea
to that of a hen's egg, gneiss, basalt, greenstone,
hornblende, chalcedony, carueliau, agate, porphyry and
quartz both opaque and transparent. Many of the
earnelians and agates have been picked up, and after
passing through the hands of the lapidary, have made
beautiful settings for pins, rings and watch seals.
There are numerous petrifying springs along the Mississippi, at the foot of the bluffs, and in some instances in the ravines opening to the river, and around them are to be found fine specimens of moss and other substances in a state of perfect petrifaction.
In the northeast part of the county there occurs a bed of lower magnesian limestone, in the shape of the letter U, or perhaps more like a pitchfork, including within its prongs a shell bed about two miles in width. The Snymagill passes through this shell bed, and nearly follows its course to the Mississippi. The prongs are about three miles in width, and unite some fifteen miles northwest from the mouth of the Snymagill, and extend nearly to Yellow River in Allamakee county.
The lead bearing beds of upper magnesian limestone extend across the Mississippi from Illinois, at Bellevue, and are bounded on the west by a curved line which meets the lower prong of the forked bed before mentioned, in the vicinity of Clayton, where it re-crosses the river to the east into Wisconsin.
Some extensive lodes of lead have been found on Panther Creek in Buena Vista township, and have been profitably worked to a considerable extent. On Turkey River, from three to four miles above its mouth, there have been discovered pockets containing lead in small quantities. Large quantities are found in the vicinity of Guttenberg on Miners' Creek, in the horizontal openings of the rocks.
Above the place known as Frenchtown on the Mississippi River, the ore is found in small quantities exposed in the crevices of rocks, said to be the lower magnesian limestone.
Lead also has been found in numerous instances occurring in small quantities, back from the river as far as four or five miles, in different places from McGregor to the south bounds of the county.
That portion over which the lead bearing rock extends, and in which the mineral has been found in greater or less quantities, contains an area of about seventy thousand acres, a large proportion of which is not only well timbered, but when cleared, is a good quality of land for agricultural purposes.
EARLY HISTORY -- This county was established within its present limits, under the name of Clayton county, previous to the organization of the territory of Iowa by the Legislature of Wisconsin, by an act approved December 21st, 1837, and until the next year was attached for judicial purposes to DuBuque county.
The first settlement was made in the spring of 1832, by Robert Hetfield and William W. Wayman, on Turkey River, about four miles from its mouth, on the north side, nearly opposite Millville, on the place known afterwards as the Lander farm, and on the Pierson farm by Captain William D. Grant. Previous to their settlement, however, there had been a cabin erected at the mouth of the river that was used as a ferry house.
Until this time explorations had been confined principally to Turkey River, and those had mostly been made by miners, and persons in search of mineral, who were started out by the excitement consequent upon the discovery of rich lodes of ore at Galena and DuBuque. Some of these parties followed up the river to its head, thence striking across to Lake Pepin, returned in canoes procured of the Indians, down the Mississippi. But few came for the purpose of settlement.
In January, 1836, Dr. Frederick Andros made a claim on
the edge of High Prairie, about one mile southeast from
where Garnavillo is now situated, built a cabin and
placed it in charge of a man whom he had employed to
occupy the claim and make rails. A man by the name of
Loomis made a claim about the same time, adjoining that
of Dr. Andros. A claim was also made by John W. Gillet,
which covered a part of the ground now occupied by
Garnavillo. He built a cabin and moved into it. During
the spring, William Correll made a claim in Farmersburg,
built a cabin, and spent the summer in learning the
French language and splitting rails. Allen Carpenter made
a claim three miles northwest of Correll's. In June or
July, Mr. Gillet brought on a breaking team, and
commenced plowing on the prairie, which is believed to be
the first prairie broken in the county.
On the 15th of July, Elisha Boardman, Harry Boardman, Horace D. Bronson, and a man by the name of Hastings, started on horseback from Green Bay, followed up Fox River to the Portage, where they found a Mackinaw boat belonging to the American Fur Company, that had just discharged a cargo of furs, and was about returning. In this the Boardmans took passage down the Wisconsin to Prairie du Chien, and then hired a half-breed to take them in his canoe to Cassville, where they joined Bronson and Hastings, who had proceeded to that place on horseback, following along the course of the river. Here they crossed the Mississippi and went up to Hetfield's, where they left their hoses to recruit, and with two others procured of Captain Grant and E. Price, Esq., they commenced an exploration of Turkey River, accompanied by Grant.*
A few other persons settled on Turkey River and its tributaries during the fall, and some improvements were made by way of building saw mills. William Rowan began one on Little Turkey and sold out to Robert Hetfield, who got it to running before winter set in. William W. Wayman began one on Elk Creek near its mouth. Boardman and Bronson began one on
Dry Mill Branch on section 17, township 93, range 4, in
December. When they commenced work upon it, the stream
was sufficiently large to carry a saw mill to do a good
business. One morning in February, 1837, upon going to
the stream they discovered, much to their astonishment,
that it had entirely disappeared and there was no water
the first of June, Bronson commenced building a saw mill for Hetfield on
Buck Creek, about four miles from Garnavillo, which was completed in
After Court the Sheriff commenced taking the FIRST CENSUS, preparatory to an election for the purpose of organizing the county, also including the present State of Minnesota which was attached to Clayton for judicial purposes. *
On the 12th day of June, the organic law of the territory
of Iowa, received the approval of the President, and took
effect on the 4th of July following.
Herman Graybill's -- judges, John W. Gillet, Patton
McMellan and Baldwin Olmstead. No. 3, at Jesse Dandley's
-- judges, Jesse Dandley, Allen Carpenter and C.S. Edson.
No. 4, at Boardman's Mill -- judges not appointed.
Permission was given to "precincts not having a
sufficient number of votes to organize, to cast their
votes at the nearest precinct adjoining their place of
The county commissioners during the summer, commenced the laying out of Prairie La Porte, which is part of the present town of Guttenberg, having secured the site for the benefit of the county. C.S. Edson, the county surveyor, was employed to do the surveying. the plat was filed for record on the 6th day of December, by H.F. Lander, Patton McMellan and W.W. Wayman, commissioners. *
The official bond of
H.M. Rice, as Justice of the Peace at St. Peters, now Mendota, opposite
Fort Snelling, in Minnesota, was duly approved and filed on the twelfth
day of November.
On the 30th day of March, by resolution of the Board of Commissioners, a tax was levied of one half of one percent on all taxable property, and $1 on each poll. On the 11th day of May, Robert Hetfield was appointed agent for the county, to sell the village lots of Prairie La Porte, for the purpose of raising funds to erect county buildings, and a contract was entered into by the commissioners with Horace D. Bronson and Jesse Jones to build a court house, for the sum of $2,450.*
On the 15th day of May, 1840, the U.S. Government leased
of Thomas P. Burnet and Alexander McGregor, the grounds
for warehouse purposes, upon which the same season was
erected the old warehouse which is still standing at
issued a patent for the same to Giard,
in his own right. The whole tract was sold by the heirs of Giard, to James
H. Lockwood and Thomas P. Burnett of Prairie du Chien, for the sum of
three hundred dollars.
The following list of subscriptions was received by the commissioners “to be expanded in the erection of public buildings for the said county, provided the seat of justice is located at Elkader: -
Upon canvassing the returns of the April election, it was
ascertained that neither place had received a majority of
all the votes cast. Garnavillo received 254; Guttenberg,
177; and Elkader, 115.
The COMMUNITY COLONY was organized in July, 1850, in this county by Joseph Venus, Johan Enderes, Fred. Weis, H. Pape, T. Nagel, K. Kopp. Jacob Pensar, Lewis Weinel. Johhan Taffz, Michael Bramme, Joseph Gremfer and W. Krisinger, for the purpose of carrying on agricultural, mechanical arts and trades, and such other industrial pursuits as they might deem expedient and desirable. The capital of the association was made up by joining the individual property of its members, and consisted of four hundred acres of land in sections 7, 8 and 18, township 92, range 4, and eighty acres in sections 13 and 14, township 92, range 5, valued at $1,800; stock, teams, farming utensils, tools and furniture, $1,200.*
LIBERTY COLONY was organized in June, 1851, chiefly through the management of Christian Wullweber, and the articles of association were copied, with a few slight alternations, from those of Community Colony. Wullweber was president, Frederick Koch treasurer, and Fredk Uffel secretary.*
GUTTENBERG The Town of Guttenberg is pleasantly
situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River, about
forty miles above DuBuque, and about six miles above the
mouth of the Turkey River. The location of the town is on
a handsome prairie, extending from the base of the bluff
half a mile eastward to the river, and about three miles
in length. This prairie received from one of the early
French Missionaries the name of Prairie LaPorte
The Door Prairie.
The first municipal election was held in April, 1851.
Since that time the growth of the town has been onward
and upward. Every year has witnessed new and substantial
improvements, and a large increase of trade and business.
From the fact that there has
been no railroad leading westward between Dubuque on the
south, and Winona, Minnesota, on the north, a distance of
over two hundred miles, and also the streams flowing with
a general easterly course for many miles through the
counties westward, causing the wagon roads to be
constructed as a matter of convenience, with this place
as the focus, McGregor has a necessarily been the great
grain and produce market for a wide extent of rich and
productive farming country.
ELKADER, the seat of justice, is a flourishing town of
about 700 inhabitants, situated on both banks of the
Turley River, and near the geographical centre of the
other about 6,000 barrels of flour per annum; four
general stores; four grocery stores; two cabinet shops;
one foundry; three lumber yards, and one stave and
heading factory. About 130,000 bushels of wheat are
shipped annually. Population, 500.
|-transcribed & submitted by Lisa Hanson-Braun & Sharyl Ferrall http://iagenweb.org/clayton/|
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