IOWA HISTORY PROJECT
HAIR, JAMES T., Ed. Iowa State Gazetteer, Shippers' Guide and Business Directory. Chicago: Bailey & Hair, 1865
Page 323- 332 Page 333- 344
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Scott County, cont.
Hall, State Geologist, is inclined to the opinion that this clay is cotemporaneous with the underlying fire-clay of adjoining coal measures, and that these fissures were filled up at the same period that coal was in process of formation. These clay seams are frequently met with in digging wells or deep cellar foundations, in which situations they are often accompanied with living springs of water. From such sources are evidently derived the supplies of water from artesian bornings, which have been made with partial success in various parts of the city.
The bluff formation constitutes a well marked step in the series of quarternary deposits succeeding the drift or boulder era, and anterior to the recent surface alluvium. This formation , generally of considerable thickness, corresponding to the height of the bluff hills, forms the substratum of the upland prairies. It is composed of a great variety of earthy materials, including finely pulverulent marls, beds of coarse sand and gravel, aggregations resembling hard-an or puddling-stone, overlaid by a variable layer of yellow clay, and gradually blending with the present surface soil. These several features indicate this formation as resulting from the deposition of extensive fresh water lake These several features indicate this formation as resulting from the deposition of extensive fresh water lakes, having variable currents, and mostly shallow waters. Not unfrequently well excavations bring to view a buried soil of rich vegetable mould now covered up by twenty feet or more of lacustrine deposits, containing fresh water shells. This earlier surface soil supported a rank arborescent vegetation, and is proved by buried remains, to have been the roaming places of the now extinct tribes of the gigantic Mastodon and Northern Elephant. The upper clay in the bluff series, is everywhere extensively used for the manufacture of brick." --Davenport, Past and Present.
In 1833, the first cabin was erected by the white man in Davenport. The retreating foot-steps of the red man were still heard over these bluffs. The poles of his wigwam still stuck along the banks of this noble river. The graves of his people were still fresh upon the brow of our bluffs, and the corn hills and playgrounds of his children have been covered over with the habitations of man!
In the spring of 1836, John Wilson, or "Wild Cat Wilson," as he was called, who was an old "claim maker," (he and his boys having made and sold the one where Rockingham was located, and one where now is the farm of Judge Weston,) commenced making a claim on the edge of the prairie, on the Blue Grass road from Davenport.
George L. Davenport, Esp., made the first claim in Davenport township, immediately after the treaty in 1832, which was before the time expired that the Indians were to give possession to the whites (June 1, 1833.) Mr. Davenport had been familiar with the Indians from boyhood; was adopted into the Fox tribe while young, and had no playmates in early life but the Indian boys. He learned to speak their language and was an expert archer, swimmer and racer; ever ready to join in all their sports, and a general favorite with the whole tribe. This explains when he was permitted to go upon the lands while others were kept off until the next year; for many emigrants took possession in the autumn of 1832 after the treaty, but were driven off an had to await the time specified in the treaty for possession, viz: the 1st of June, 1833. Col. Davenport had a flat-boat and used it for ferry purposes as early as 1827, running between the Island and the main shore, carrying pack-horses, cattle and goods for the Indian trade. He also kept a wood-yard on the Island after steam boats began to run here, and brought wood from Maple Island, and other places.
The claim upon which Davenport now stands was first made in the Spring of 1833, by R. H. Spencer and a Mr. McCloud. A difficulty arose between these men in respect to the claim, or some portion of it, when, to end the dispute, Antoine LeClaire purchased from both their entire interest for one hundred dollars. This was the first transaction in real estate in the city of Davenport, some of which has since been sold as high as two hundred dollars a foot. This claim comprised that portion of the city lying west of Harrison street, being outside of LeClaire's reserve.
In the autumn of 1835, Antoine LeClaire, Maj. Thos. Smith, Maj. Wm. Gordon. , Philip Hambaugh, Alex. W. McGregor, Levi S. Colton, Capt. James May, with Col. George L. Davenport, met at the house of the latter gentleman, on Rock Island, to consult as to the propriety of laying out a town upon Mr. LeClaire's claim, on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The arguments offered in favor of such a project were, the unexplained fertility of
the soil, the necessity for a town at some future day at the foot of the rapids, the unrivalled beauty of the location, its healthy position, &c. This meeting resulted in the purchase from Mr. LeClaire of all the land west of Harrison Street, running along the bluff as far west as Warren street, and thence south to the river, at a cost of two thousand dollars. The town was named after Col. George Davenport. It was surveyed by Maj. Gordon in the spring of 1836, who is said to have performed the service in less than a day, with his mental vision very much obscured by a certain decoction called by the Indians scuti-appo, the "whit man's fire water."
The first improvements within the present city limits, were made by Mr. LeClaire, upon the ground now occupied by the Mississippi & Missouri Railroad depot, in the spring of 1833. But nothing in the way of farming or the more substantial improvements, took place till May, 1836, when Dr. James Hall and his two eldest sons took a contract from Mr. LeClaire to break a certain amount of land on his "reserve," as it was called. This tract for breaking lay east of Brady street, beginning near the present corner of Brady and Second, extending up Second to Rock Island, and as far back as Sixth street. This was contracted for at five dollars and acre, except a certain portion, which the Halls were to have free of rent, and two dollars and a half an acre for breaking, which they planted in potatoes and corn, obtaining the seed from Fort Armstrong, paying a dollar and a quarter a bushel for potatoes. The next year this same ground was rented to the Halls for fifteen dollars an acre, upon which they sowed some wheat and raised a crop.
The first public house or tavern, was built on the corner of Front and Ripley streets, in 1836, by Messrs. LeClaire and Davenport, and opened by Edward Powers, from Stephenson. The next year it passed into the hands of John McGregor, from Kentucky.
In June, 1836, a very important personage arrived, brining with him all the ingredients of a pioneer whisky shop, the first introduced upon the soil of Scott County. It was Capt. John Litch, from Newburyport, N. H. He had been a seafaring man, was far advanced in life, of a jovial disposition, full of anecdotes, and ever ready to toss a glass of grog with any one who desires to join him. His log shanty stood on Front street, below the subsequent site of Burnell, Gilbert & Co.'s mill.
A ferry across the Mississippi was established in the year 1836, by Mr. LeClaire, who was appointed postmaster and carried the mail in his pocket while ferring. It is said that his percentage due on the first quarter was seventy-five cents! The ferry soon passed into the hands of Capt. John Wilson, who ran a flat-boat with oars until 1841, when it was supplied with a horse ferry, and in 1843 by a steam ferry boat.
The first white male child born in Davenport, was a son of Levi S. Colton, in the autumn of 1836, who died at the Indian village, on the Iowa River, in August, 1840. The first female child was a daughter of D. C. Eldridge, still living. Alexander W. McGregor opened the first law office, in 1836. A. M. Gavit, a Methodist minister, preached the first sermon, in the house of Mr. D. C. Eldridge, corner of Front and Ripley streets.
In September of this year, 1836, a treaty was held with the Sac and Fox Indians, on the banks of the river, above the city, where the house of Mrs. Brabrook now stands. Governor Dodge was Commissioner on the part of the United States to secure a tract of land upon the Iowa River, called "Keokuk Reserve." There were present at the treaty about a thousand chiefs, braves and warriors, and it was the last assemblage of the kind ever held here to treat for the sale of their lands. Mr. D. C. Eldridge was present, and relates the scenes at this treaty. Keokuk was head chief, and principal speaker on the occasion. Black Hawk was present, but not allowed to participate in the treaty, standing alone, outside of the group, with his son Nau-she-as-kuk and a few other friends who were silent spectators. This was the last time the old chief ever visited this vicinity, which to him had been one of the dearest spots on earth, and around which his affections had clustered from boyhood.*
at the close of this year, 1836, there were some six or seven houses in the original limits of the town, and the population did not exceed one hundred, all told. There was but one main street, or public road leading through the town. This was up and down the river bank, or Front street. An Indian trail, which afterwards became a public road, led out of the city nearly where Main street is, passing by the corner of 6th and Main, following the top of the ridge near the residence of Mr. Newcomb, and running across the College Grounds, intersecting Main street on the West side of the square. Another Indian trail leading from the town, was from the residence of Mr. LeClaire, where the Depot now stands, passing up the bluff where LeClaire street now crosses Sixth, and entered Brady opposite the College grounds. Although a treaty had been made with the Indians and they had sold their lands, yet they still lingered around the place so dear to them. The trading house of Col. Davenport was still kept open, on the Island, and furnished supplies for them.
No portion of the great West, has the Indian been so loth to leave as the hunting and fishing grounds of Rock Island and vicinity. It is said to have been one of the severest trials of Black Hawk's life, to bid adieu to the home of his youth and the graves of his ancestors. When carried past Rock Island a prisoner, after his defeat and capture at the battle of Bad Axe, he is said to have wept like a child. The powder horn worn by him at his last battle, has recently been obtained from an old Pioneer soldier of the Black Hawk war and presented to the State Historical Society, by R. M. Prettyman, Esq., of Davenport. For many years after the removal of the Sacs and Foxes to their new home beyond the Mississippi, parties of them would pay an annual visit, and even now one sees the aged warrior walking over our city, pointing out to his children places of interest now covered by the wigwams of the white man. Even the fish taken in the As-sin-ne Sepo, (Rock River,) were considered by the Indian better than any caught in the Mississippi or elsewhere. When the order came for their removal, it was with bowed heads and lingering steps they took up their line of march. towards the setting sun, the children of destiny, a persecuted race, seeking an asylum from the oppression of the white man.
The Sacs and Foxes, on their removal from here, first settled on the Iowa River; and after the second purchase, they removed to the DesMoines River, where they remained until the last sale of their lands in Iowa, when government provided them a home in Kansas.
The first marriage ceremony in Davenport took place in the spring of this year. The parties were Wm. B. Watts and a niece of Antoine LeClaire, Esq. Mrs. Watts died a few years afterwards, and was buried in Mr. LeClaire's private burial ground. This spring also the first brick-yard was opened by Mr. Harvey Leonard, from Indiana, on Sixth, between Main and Harrison streets. Mr. Leonard not only manufactured the brick, but was a master-builder, and carried on the business for many years. In 1851, he was elected Sheriff, an office which he held many years.
The spring of 1838 found the infant settlement laboring under many discouragements. Immigration began to set in for the West, and the drooping spirits of the inhabitants revived . Buildings began to increase, a church or two was organized, a school opened, and things began to wear a brighter aspect as the genial rays of the sun began to warm vegetation into life.
Early in the spring, Mr. LeClaire laid out his "First Addition to the Town of Davenport," upon his "reserve," as it was called. This included two tiers of blocks forming Harrison and Brady streets, running back as far as Seventh street. No title as yet, in fee simple, had been obtained by the proprietors of the town, and title bonds only were given to purchasers. In this new addition to the town, Mr. LeClaire could give clear titles, and was
able to sell lots on long time to actual settlers. This put new life into the inhabitants, and the immigrations coming in the spring, was much larger than any previous year, and the town for the first time began to make progress in improvement.
The Legislature passed an act incorporating the town of Davenport, and at the April election Todolphus Bennett, was elected Mayor, and Frazer Wilson, Recorder. Dr. A. C. Donaldson, D. C. Eldridge,John Forest, Thomas Dillon and Capt, John Litch, were elected Trustees, These were the first officers of this Township. The meeting of the first Town Council soon followed, and James M. Bowling, was appointed Treasirer, William Nichols, Street Commssioner, and William H. Patton, Marshal. The first seal used by the City Council, was by a vote, and American twenty-five cent piece.
During the summer , the first brick house was erected, by D. C. Eldridge, on the N. E. corner of Third and Main streets. The old part of the Catholic church was also built this summer, the brick work by Mr. Noel, and the carpenter work by Nathaniel Squires. The Rev. J. M. Palamorgues was placed in charge at its organization. Religious services were held at various places in the towm, as opportunity presented. The first regular preaching was a sermon by Rev. Mr. Gavit, of Ohio, at the house of D. C. Eldridge.
On the 7th of July, 1838, Andrew Logan, from Pennsylvania, arrived with a printing press, and on the 17th of September following, issued the first number of the Davenport Iowa Sun, a newspaper which at that day was put forth under many discouragements.
The first Fire Department of Davenport was organized the 27th of July, by requiring every man who occupied a house to keep two fire buckets always in readiness, and to use them in case of fire.
Three churches were organized in 1839, and a Female Seminary started by the Misses O'Harra. A Common School was also opened by a Mr. Blood. The first paint shop, by Riddle & Morton; the first wagon shop by Seth F. Ehiting; and the first drug store by Charles Lesslie, were opened this year.
But the greatest acquisition to the town this year, the crowning point, and the wonder of the age was the completion of the LeClaire House, at a cost of thirty-five thousand dollars! The building of this house at so early a day, was an enterprise the equal of which is seldom undertaken. The progress of the town or county -- did not warrant it, yet confidence in the future, and the enterprising spirit of Mr. LeClaire, carried forward the work to a successful completion.
In August 1841 the Davenport Weekly Gazette issued its first number. Alfred Sanders, Esq., the senior editor, was from Cincinnati, Ohio. The first number was issued on the 26th of August, and from that day to this not a single number has been missed in its regular publication. On the 3d of September, 1853, it was converted into a tri-weekly, and the following year, on the 16th of October, 1854, they began to issue the first daily paper ever published in this portion of the State. In 1855, they introduced the first stream press ever put in operation in Iowa, a large size Taylor and Hoc press, which is still doing good service.
The most stirring incident of 1845, was the murder of Col. George Davenport, upon Rock Island.*
The "Iowa College Association" was formed in April, 1844, but no decided steps were taken, or location made, until 1846, when Davenport was selected as the place of location, "provided the citizens would raise $1,500 for buildings and furnish grounds for a site." Trustees were elected the following spring, and a building erected on the bluff near Western Avenue, between Sixth and Seventh streets. The institution was incorporated in June, 1847. In March, 1854, the College grounds (being liable to have streets cut through them) were sold, and a new location of ten acres purchased between Brady and Harrison, above Tenth street. Here the present College edifice was erected, with boarding houses, in 1855, and in August, 1859, the present location was sold to the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, for school and educational purposes, and the Iowa College was removed to Grinnell, in Poweshiek County.
On the 17th of January, 1848, the first steam mill in Davenport was put in operation by A. C. Fulton. It had been but five months and twenty-two days in building. The main building
was fifty-seven by sixty feet, four stories high, with an engine room twenty-seven by fifty feet. Mr. A. Nugent was the first miller.
The opening of Burrows & Prettyman's mill followed, on the 29th of January. It was more magnificent than that of Fulton's, if possible. His mill was forty-two by sixty feet, three stories high, and built of brick, and since enlarged. (That of Fulton's was of wood.) There were four pair of four and a half French burrs, two bolts, and they would turn out about two hundred barrels of flour per day. Hiram Johnson was the first miller, in this mill-- one of the best millers west of the Alleghany mountains.
Fire Department. -- The first permanent organization of a Fire Company in Davenport took place in 1856. At a meeting held on Saturday evening, July 26th, at the office of R. D. Congdon, corner of Second and Brady streets, R. M. Littler was chairman and H. S. Slaymaker, secretary. A committee to prepare a Constitution and By-Laws for the organization, and a committee to present a petition to the property holders of the city, for their aid, was appointed. The committees reported at a meeting of the company, held on Monday evening, July 28th. The Constitution was adopted and eighteen persons signed as members. The name adopted for the company was "Independent Fire Engine and Hose Company." Two engines were purchased, with hose and hose-carriage and tender, and Davenport could now boast a regular Fire Department, numbering over one hundred members. Previous to this time the company had attended several fires, and handled buckets to great advantage.
The City Council purchased the lot on Brady above Fifth street, where the present engine house stands. A building was erected at a coast of forty-five hundred dollars. The apparatus was removed to the new house in the fall of 1857.
Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company, No. 1, and Fire King Engine Company, No. 2, were organized during the winter, and early the ensuing year they were equipped with apparatus. The Pioneer's Trucks, Ladders, etc., were paid for by subscription. The Fire Kings purchased their engine, at Chicago, of Metamora Company, No. 2, and paid for it twelve hundred and twenty-five dollars, and two hundred and fifty dollars for two hundred and fifty feet of hose. This was also raised by subscription. The engine arrived in March, 1858.
In April, 1858, Rescue Engine Company, No. 3, was organized, and they were furnished with the engine "Witch," and the hose tender "Tiger," and five hundred feet of hose.
Public Buildings. -- The public halls for the meeting of the masses are: Metropolitan, which is decidedly the largest and most brilliant of any and was built by R. B. King, Esq., in 1847. Odd Fellows' Hall, in Wupperman's Block, is large, neat, and finished with much taste. LeClaire Hall was built at an earlier day, and does not attract that attention which it once did, but is roomy and substantial. Gregg's Hall and Mervin's Hall, are both large and pleasant rooms, and for the purposes designed, are of the first order. The German Theatre, Lerchen's Hall, and some others of smaller dimensions, make up an ample supply for public places of business and amusement.
Our County Jail is worthy of note. It was built in 1856, under the superintendence of Hon. Wm. L. Cook, then County Judge. It is hewn stone, and built on the modern improved plan of prisons, and is one of the best buildings of the kind in the State of Iowa. The Court House is the same one built in 1841.
The hotels of this city are numerous and of every grade. The oldest of any note is the LeClaire House, built in 1839, by A. LeClaire, Esq. The Scott House is one of the best public houses in the city, and is conducted in the most approved style. It is beautifully located on Front street, in full view of the city of Rock Island, the Railroad bridge, old Fort Armstrong, and has an extended view up and down the river. The Pennsylvania House was built in 1854. In 1857, the great increase of business induced the proprietors to enlarge it, by erecting another building, of the same size, by its side, raising it another story and putting on a new roof over the whole of galvanized iron. It is one of the most substantial buildings of the kind in the West. It is sixty-four by one hundred and thirty feet on the ground, built of stone, five stories high. It contains one hundred and ten rooms, and, in its basement, has an artesian well one hundred and fifty feet deep, eighty feet of which distance was bored through solid rock without a seam.
The Burtis House exceeds, in magnitude and splendor, all others of the city. It is a simple dining room, surrounded on three sides by parlors, hall, bedrooms, closets, etc., rising to the height of five stories, including basement. The whole structure is one hundred and eighteen feet, on Fifth street, and on hundred and nine feet on Iowa street. The dining room is thirty-nine by eighty-one feet, supported by iron columns. There are one hundred and fifty sleeping rooms in the house; basement, eighteen rooms; first floor, eighteen, exclusive of the rotunda; and the remainder of the rooms are distributed on the floors above. The house itself is on the railroad, and but a few steps from the depot.
Public Schools.-- In the city of Davenport there are seven public school houses, many of which are costly and commodious buildings, and all supplied with able and efficient teachers. The public schools of the city are all under a Superintendent, who has a general oversight of all the common schools, is Principal of the intermediate school, and has a general oversight of each district in the city. In no city west of the Mississippi River are the common schools in better condition than in Davenport. Much pains has been taken to elect men to regulate the school affairs, who were intelligent, and of high moral character. Although there are many deservedly popular select schools, yet the common schools have been conducted upon such a decidedly improved plan, that they are patronized by many of the best families in the city.
Churches.-- First Methodist Episcopal Church; organized in 1842. Situated at the northeast corner of Fifth and Brady streets. Rev. H. Baylis Pastor.*
First Presbyterian church; established in spring of 1838. Situated on Brady street, between Seventh and Eighth streets. Rev. McC. Anderson, Pastor.+
Christian Church; organized July 29th, 1839. Situated on the east side of Brady street, between Fourth and Fifth streets. Elder James Challen, Pastor. ++
St. Anthony's (Catholic) Church; organized in 1838. Situated at the northeast corner of 4th and Main streets. Rev. Father J. A. M. Pelamorgues, pastor.*
Second Baptist Church; organized Oct. 7th, 1851. Situated at the southwest corner of 4th and Perry streets. Rev. D. S. Watson, pastor.+
United Presbyterian Church, organized as the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, in 1854, situated at the corner of 11th and Scott streets. Rev. Henry Wallace, pastor.++
Davenport Congregational Church was organized on the 30th day of July, 1839, by Rev. Albert Hale, then agent of the American Home Missionary Society. It was re-organized as Edward'd Congregational Church, August 17, 1861. It is situated on the north side of Fifth, between Brady and Main streets, Rev. William Windsor, pastor.#
Trinity Church (protestant Episcopal) was organized November 4th, 1841. It is situated on the southeast corner of Fifth and Rock Island streets, Rev. T. Emerson Judd, pastor.*
Saint Kunigunde's (German Catholic) Church, organized in 1855, situated on the east side of Marquette, between Fifth and Sixth streets, Rev. Anton Niermann, Pastor.
Saint Luke's Parish (Protestant Episcopal) organized April 4th, 1856, situated on Griswold College grounds, Rev. Horation N. Powers, Rector.+
Sainte Marguerite's Church, (Catholic,) organized in October, 1856, situated at the northwest corner of Tenth and Leclaire streets, Rev. Father Henry Cosgrove, Pastor.
Societies. -- Scott Division, No. 1, Sons of Temperance, organized October 5th, 1847, meets every Friday evening, in Temperance Hall. Adar Lodge, No. 257, I. O. G. T., organized July 13th, 1861, meets every Tuesday evening, in Temperance Hall.
Davenport Lodge, No. 37, A. F. & A. M., meets Monday on or before full moon, in Masonic
Hall. Davenport Royal Arch Chapter, No. 16, . F. & A. M., meets second Tuesday in each month, in Masonic Hall.
Davenport Lodge, No. 7, I. O. O. F., meets every Tuesday evening, in Odd Fellow's Hall. Scott Lodge, No. 37, I. O. O. F., meets every Thursday evening, in Odd Fellows' Hall. State Encampment, No. 3, I. O. O. F., instituted April 3d, 1848, meets second and fourth Fridays in each month in Odd Fellows' Hall.
Davenport Turner's Society, organized 1852, meets every Wednesday night, at Larmon Hall. Davenport Gowerbe Verein (Mechanic's Association) was organized January, 1861. Hall west side of Western avenue, between Fifth and Sixth streets. Kranken Verein, (German Society for relief of the sick.) Hall, Second street, between Ripley and Scott streets.
German Amateur Theatre Society. This society has the finest hall in the city, a library worth $2,000, wardrobe worth $2,000, and music $500. The actors are all amateurs, and receive no pay for their performances, with the exception of prominent actors who are occasionally engaged for a short time. The hall was built by a joint stock company. The officers are elected on the first of April and October.
Young Men's Associated Congress, organized August 15th, 1860. Public sessions, Saturday evening of each week. Young Men's Library Association, connected with the Associated Congress, organized January, 1864. Library contains 1,200 volumes.
Population of the, 12,000.
East Davenport is a small village, on the Mississippi, about a mile from Brady street. It was laid out by Wm. H. Hildreth, Esq., and Dr. J. M. Witherwax, in 1852 and 1853. The location is one of some beauty, being on a broad ravine, having gentle slopes, even from the highest point of bluffs. It is on a bend of the river, just below the Rock Island reef or chain of rocks, at the foot of the rapids, which forms a beautiful eddy in the river, where boats can land at all stages of water, and is a safe harbor for rafts, where they may lay up in windy weather, or when seeking a market at Davenport or Rock Island.
The village is located upon the site of an old Indian town or encampment. It contains some five hundred in habitants, has a district school house, with school and worship on the Sabbath, by Methodists and other congregations. There are two flouring mills, a first rate saw mill and two stores. Also brick yards and stone quarries, which, in former limits of the city of Davenport.
North and West Davenport are terms applied to the suburbs of Davenport, and contain many fine residences.
LE CLAIRE. -- At the treaty in 1832, with the Sac and Fox Indians, they gave to Antoine Le Claire, Esq., a section of land at the head of the Rapids, (640.) They had, at the same treaty, presented Mrs. Le Claire with a similar amount of land where the city of Davenport now stands. The reason for this gift was none other, we believe, than out of friendship and respect for Mr. and Mrs. Le Claire. He had been with them from boyhood, either in the employ of the Fur Company or of the Government, as interpreter, and was very popular with them. The American Fur Company, at an early day, had a trading house on a small island some three miles below Le Claire, called "Davenport's Island," afterwards "Smith's Island," and now Fulton's Island." The Indians came across from Rock River, Meredocia Swamp, and from the Wapsipinicon River to this "Post," to trade. The Indians ever loved to live along the thick timber lands of the "Pau-ke-she-tuck," (Rapids) or swift water, where they found abundance of fish. There was much game also. The forest was dense all through the country being along the Mississippi River, from Spencer's Creek, at the head of Pleasant Valley, to Princeton, and was of large growth. A corresponding tract also of like character lay along the opposite side of the river.
The Township of Le Claire, in its general character, is similar to other river townships; perhaps rather more uneven along a portion of its bluffs, but its prairie lands back are among the choicest in Iowa, and well settled by enterprising and industrious farmers.
The first settlement of Le Claire was not upon that portion to Mr. Le Claire by the Indians, but was by Eleazer Parkhurst, Esq., we believe from the State of Massachusetts.
He purchased the claim just above the North line of the "Reserve," of George W. Harlan, who built the cabin in the present limits of the city of Le Claire, and was the first actual settled claim in the township. We believe this cabin was built in February, 1834. His brother, the late Sterling Parkhurst, Esq., was the second settler, but the same season Nathan and Martin W. Smith settled below the town where the old mill now stands.
The town of Le Claire was laid out into lots in the Spring or Summer of 1837, by the Town Company, surveyed by Wm. R. Shoemaker assisted by Henry S. Howell, both U. S. Deputy Surveyors. About the same time, Mr. Parkhurst, having disposed of a part of his claim to Col. T. C. Eads, they jointly laid out the town of Parkhurst.
The two towns Le Claire and Parkhurst were for many years rivals in point of progress, and exhibited many of those traits so common among the embryo cities of the West. Soon after Parkhurst was laid out, its name was changed, with that of its Post Office, to Berlin, and finally to Le Claire.
Col. T. C. Eads made the first important improvement in Parkhurst, in the summer of 1837, by the erection of a large frame dwelling, thirty by forty feet, two stories high, and was one of the wonders of the age.
Lemuel Parjhurst, Esq., first opened a store in 1839, in the little stone building in Parkhurst, now owned by Mr. W. Gardner. In 1840, the old stone building yet standing on the bank of the river, at the foot of Walnut street, was erected by Eleazer Parkhurst. The same year, he and his nephew, Waldo Parkhurst, who settled there in 1837, opened in the stone store a large stock of goods of all kinds, and continued in the same until 1849, when the firm was dissolved.
In 1851, Messrs. Davenport and Rogers purchased of Mr. Le Claire the remaining strip of land lying between the two towns of Le Claire and Parkhurst, and laid it out into building lots. This gave a new impetus to business of all kinds, Mills and manufactories were erected. Mechanics of all kinds settled in the place, and many large brick stores were erected, so that in 1855, on petition of the inhabitants of birth towns, the Legislature, by act, incorporated the City of Le Claire, including within its limits the town of Parkhurst. Since that time the business has deceased, and the town, although containing a population of about 1,200, has very little of its former business. It has now two general, three groceries, one drug store, one brewery, one saw mill, one shipyard and various mechanical shops.
BUFFALO is on the Mississippi River, ten miles below Davenport. It contains one Presbyterian Church, one general store and one saw mill. The first settlement in the county was made here by Capt. B. W. Clark. Among the other early settlers were: James M. Bowling, Joseph and Matthias Mounts, Elias Moore and Andrew W. Campbell. Buffalo township has more timber than any other in the county. There are thousands of acres now covered with a growth that has arisen since the first settlement that will cut from twenty to fifty cords of wood to the acre. It is estimated that there is five times as much timber in Buffalo township as there was at the time of the first settlement, in 1834, a fact showing how easily timber may be produced, if cared for and the annual fires kept out of the woodlands. Population of village, 300.
PLEASANT VALLEY is on the Mississippi River, nine miles north of Davenport. It has two churches, Methodist and Free Will Baptist; also one flour mill and one general store. Population, 150; township, 750. No one who has passed through that portion of the county lying upon the river, above Davenport, called Pleasant Valley, terminating at the point of bluff at the mouth of Spencer's Creek, can for a moment forget its natural beauty. A short distance above East Davenport, the bluffs recede from the river, leaving the bottom lands a mile wide, very little of which ever overflow. The gently sloping bluffs continue for several miles, sometimes approaching and then receding from the river, forming at times landscape views of unsurpassed beauty. And now that these lands are dotted over with tasteful and well cultivated farms and gardens, from the river even to the top of the bluffs in
places, it presents one of the most lovely rural scenes upon the Mississippi. This lovely valley received its very appropriate name from one of its earliest settlers, Mrs. J. A. Birchard.
The first settlement of that valley was coeval with that of Buffalo Township. In the fall of 1833, Roswell H. Spencer, Esq., built a log cabin upon the bank of the river a little below the present ferry landing from Hampton, on the opposite side of the river, to Valley City, a town laid out upon this side of the river. The same strata of limestone rock that underlies the head of the Rapids. There are some springs of pure, cold water, gushing forth at the base of the bluffs, near Messrs. Spencer's and Birchard's, on Duck Creek, and on Crow Creek, called in Indian "Kaw-ka-kaw Sepo." The timber lands, called "Spencer's Woods," were of immense value to this part of Scott County, in furnishing abundant material for the settlement of Pleasant Valley.
During the winter of 1833 and 1834, J. B. Chamberlin, Esq., moved into the cabin built by Mr. Spencer, his being the first white family in the valley. In February or March, they had a son born, who was the first white child born in the township. In the spring of 1834. Mr. Chamberlin built a cabin on the bank of the river, a little above the mouth of Crow Creek. In addition to Mr. Spencer and Chamberlin, the first settlers were Mr. Daniel Davison, Calvin Spencer, and James Thompson.
In 1835, Davis and Haskel built a grist Mill, the first ever built in the county, or in this part of the State. It was situated on Crow Creel Just above where the present river road crosses the stream, and although of most rude primitive kind, having two common boulders, rough hewn, for stones, yet it was one of the most essential improvements of that age. Settlers came from a great distance for several years to this mill. It was a log building, and after serving the public faithfully for many years, it was allowed to tumble into decay. A saw-mill, the first in the county, was also built in this valley, in 1835, by Captain Clark, of Buffalo. This was situated on Duck Creek, near it's mouth. These two mills, humble as they were, supplied the wants of the early settlers, not only of Pleasant Valley, but of all the surrounding country for many miles.
One peculiarity, not only of the adaptation of the soil of Pleasant Valley, but of her people, is the raising of onions. In all Iowa, and probably nowhere west of the Mississippi River, are there so man onions raised as in this township. Tens of thousands of bushels are annually shipped as the products of this Valley. From three to four hundred bushels to the acre is considered a common crop, while some have raised as many as five and even six hundred bushels to the acre. The onions raised are of a most excellent qualify, and bring the highest price in the Southern market.
PRINCETON is on the Mississippi River, twenty-one miles above Davenport. It has two churches, Methodist and Presbyterian, and an order of the Sons of Temperance. Also two drug stores, three general stores, one Grocery, one flour mill, and two saw mills. Population about 700.
BLUE GRASS is in the southwestern part of the county between the Mississippi River and the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad, ten miles west of Davenport. It contains three churches, Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian; one general store and one woolen factory. Population 300.
WALCOTT is on the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad, twelve miles west of Davenport. It contains one Presbyterian church, and two general stores. Population 200; of the township 1,200.
DIXON is situated in the northwestern portion of the county, eight miles from Wheatland, the nearest station on the Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska Railroad, and one mile west of the Wapsipinicon River. It contains two churches, Methodist and Christian. The soil of the township is a loose rich black loam. Walnut Creek furnishes good water power. Good quarries of building stone are in the vicinity. Population 75.
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