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History of Iowa

Volume III



TAMA COUNTY was created by act of the Legislature on the 17th of February, 1843, and attached to Linn for judicial, election and revenue purposes.  It lies in the fifth tier west of the Mississippi River and in the middle of the State north and south.  The county contains twenty congressional townships, embracing an area of seven hundred twenty square miles and was named for the Fox Indian chief Taimah.  The Iowa River and numerous tributaries flow through it in a southeasterly direction, most of which are bordered by native groves.

The first white settler in the county was H. N. Atkinson who, on the 18th of May, 1848, entered a tract of land near the Iowa River about three miles west of where Tama City stands.  Isaac Asher and family settled on Indian Creek in the fall of 1849.  William, Anthony and Robert Wilkinson, brothers, from Ohio, with their mother and three sisters settled in Richland township in October, 1849.  Before the close of 1851 many families had located in other parts of the county.  Among the early settlers in the vicinity of Toledo and Tama City were J. C. Vermilya, George Carter, R. A. Redman, Dr. Wealey Daniel and Judge Graham.

An election was held at the house of R. A. Redman near the Iowa River, on the first Monday of August, 1852, for the purpose of organizing a county government.  The first officers chosen were John Vermilya, judge; John Ross, treasurer and recorder; D. D. Applegate, clerk; and Myron Blodgett, sheriff.  In 1853 J. M. Ferguson and R. B. Ogden were chosen commissioners to locate the county-seat.  They met at the house of Judge Vermilya and after examining various places proposed, selected the spot where Toledo stands and gave it that name.  The first newspaper in the county was issued at Toledo in the spring of 1856 by M. V. B. Kienton and named the Toledo Tribune.

Tama City was laid out in the summer of 1862 on the north side of the Iowa River and on the line of the Northwestern Railroad.  It was first named Iuka but a few years later the name was changed to Tama City.  In 1874 a company built a dam across the Iowa River and brought water by an aqueduct to the city making a valuable water power.

The Musquakie Indians have a reservation in the county where several hundred of them live.  Traer is a town in the northeast part of the county on the line of the Burlington and Cedar Rapids Railroad.

TAYLOR COUNTY was created in 1847 and first attached to Pottawattamie.  It lies on the Missouri State line in the third tier east of the Missouri River and contains five hundred forty-eight square miles.  The surface is rolling and the principal streams are bordered by woods.  The Platte, East Nodaway and West One Hundred and Two rivers and many smaller streams flow through the county in a southwesterly direction.  The name "One Hundred and Two" was given to the river in early days by a party of surveyors who were running a line for a military road from some point in Missouri.  The place where their line struck this branch of the Platte was one hundred and two miles from the starting point.

The first white family known to have settled in the county was that of Jonah Reed who took a claim near the Page County line in 1844.  Stephen H. Parker took a claim in the county in 1846.  In 1851 the population had reached three hundred ninety-three and Elisha Parker was appointed to take steps to organize a county government.  At an election held in February the following officers were chosen:  Jacob Ross, Levi L. Hayden and Daniel Smith, commissioners; John Hayden, clerk; H. Bennington, probate judge; John Hayden, treasurer and recorder; and J. B. Campbell, sheriff.

Most of the early settlers lived in the southern part of the county in the disputed territory, supposing they were in Missouri.  Although they owned no slaves, on account of their poverty, they were strong advocates of the system.  They lived in the rudest log cabins and subsisted on pork, corn dodgers, whisky and coffee and such small game as the country afforded.

The first term of court was held at the cabin of Jacob Ross by Judge Sloan in September, 1851.  The first attorney in the county was Benjamin Rector who became a prominent lawyer.  He raised a company for the Fourth Iowa Cavalry in the War of the Rebellion, was promoted to major, taken prisoner and died at Helena in January, 1863.

Commissioners were appointed to locate the county-seat in 1852 and selected a site on the west bank of East One Hundred and Two River where, by order of the county judge, a town was laid out and named Bedford.  O. W. Tenno erected a double log cabin, the first in the town plot, which was used for a store and dwelling for many years.  The first newspaper in the county was established in February, 1858, by Joseph H. Turner at Bedford and named the Iowa South West.  The Burlington Railroad has a branch running from Creston through Bedford and Taylor County.  The county was named for General Zachary Taylor, the twelfth President of the United States.

UNION COUNTY lies in the second tier north of Missouri, in the fourth east of the Missouri River and contains four hundred thirty-two square miles.  It was created in 1851 and in the original bill providing for its establishment the county was named Mason, for judge Charles Mason.  Just before the passage of the bill in the Senate, upon motion of Mr. Morton, the name Mason was stricken out and "Union" inserted.  At that time, after years of better conflict over the institution of slavery which threatened a dissolution of the Union, a compromise had been effected which was believed by many would permanently settle the dangerous controversy and insure the perpetuity of the Union.  Hence the name given to this new county.  Grand River, Twelve Mile and the Platte are the principal streams traversing the county and their banks are covered with timber.

The county was entirely unsettled in 1846 when the Mormon emigration began from Nauvoo westward through Iowa.  At this time many of the Musquaka Indians, under their chief, "Johnny Green," occupied hunting grounds along Grand River.  A large body of Mormon refugees moving westward were overtaken by severe winter storms in Decatur and Union counties.  Several hundred men, women and children, unable to endure the hardships of winter travel through an unsettled country, stopped in a grove on the Grand River bluff in Union County and dug caves for shelter form the storms.  Here they also built log cabins and cared for the sick and feeble until spring.  They built a mill run by horse power and many remained several years cultivating land and raising crops.  This furnished a refuge for others who could here recruit from the hardships of the journey and replenish their exhausted provisions.  The place was named Mount Pisgah by the Mormons.

In 1850 many settlers came into the county and purchased the improvements made by the Mormons.  Among them were William L. Lock, J. H. Stark, Joseph and Norman Nun and Benjamin Lamb.  Henry Peters bought the Mormon mill and laid out a town which he named Petersville.  A store, hotel and several small houses were built and for a few years it was the business center for the people of the county.  In 1851 Amos C. Cooper and Isaac P. Lamb settled in the southern part of the county in Pleasant township and the following year William Grosbeck and Lewis Bragg located in the northeast corner.

The county was organized in 1853 by the election of Norman Nun, judge; John Edgecomb, sheriff, and I. P. Lamb, school fund commissioner.  The first term of court was held at Petersville in the fall of 1853 at which Judge A. A. Bradford presided.  The commissioners located the county-seat near a beautiful grove on Twelve Mile Creek, in February, 1855, and gave it the name of Afton at the suggestion of Mrs. James Baker.  The town of Highland, laid out near the center of the county was a competitor for the county-seat and losing it also lost its buildings which were moved to Afton.

In 1869 the town of Creston was laid out on the line of the Burlington Railroad.  The principal division of this road in Iowa and the machine shops were established at Creston and it eventually became the county-seat.  The first newspaper in the county was established in the summer of 1859 by Morris and Ryan, named the Afton Eagle.  It was Democratic in politics but after the election of Lincoln in 1860 it was purchased by L. Raguet and became neutral.

VAN BUREN COUNTY was created in December, 1836, and named for Martin Van Buren who had been elected President of the United States.  It then included a portion of the present county of Davis.  In 1838 enough territory was taken from Henry and the original county of Demoine to make the boundaries of Van Buren as they now are, after detaching a part of its territory which was added to Davis.  The present county contains four hundred eighty-four square miles and lies in the second tier west of the Mississippi River with the southern boundary the Missouri State line.  The Des Moines River flows through it in a southeasterly direction for a distance of forty-five miles, having numerous tributaries and borders of excellent timber, dividing the county about equally between woodland and prairie.  Coal and building stone are abundant as well as water power.  The first settler in the county was Abel Galland who took a claim near where Farmington stands, in 1832.

The first white man who built a cabin where Keosauqua now stands was John Silvers who took a claim in 1835.  During the same year Isaac W. McCarthy, John Tolman, E. Pardom and others settled in the same vicinity.  In the fall Silvers sold his claim to Mr. Seigler whose wife was the first woman in the county.  In 1837 a company composed of James and Edwin Manning, James Hall, John J. Fairman and others purchased the Seigler land and laid out a town which was named Keosauqua, the Indian name for the Des Moines River.

Farmington had been previously laid out and was the first county-seat where Judge David Irwin held the first court in April, 1837.  Many towns were platted in the early days and the rivalry for the county-seat was very sharp.  An act of the Legislature of 1839 located it at Rochester but the Governor vetoed the act.  Commissioners chosen the same year by the Legislature located the county-seat at Keosauqua.

Another town was laid out in 1839 by R. King just below Keosauqua which was named Des Moines City.  A dam was built across the river at this place and a flour dam was built across the river at this place and a flouring-mill erected.  In the fall of that year a small steamer, the S. B. Science, ascended the Des Moines River to this dam.  It was loaded with Indian goods, provisions and whisky and was under the command of Captain Clark.  In the summer of 1843 a weekly newspaper was established at Keosauqua named the Iowa Democrat; its proprietors were Jesse M. Shepherd and John T. Mitchell.  One of the first railroads built in the State was the old Des Moines Valley which was projected by citizens of Keokuk to follow up the valley of the Des Moines River from that city to the Minnesota line.  This was the first railroad in Van Buren County

WAHKAW COUNTY was created in 1851 by act of the Legislature from territory originally embraced in Benton when that county extended to the Missouri River.  The bill which created this county when reported to the Senate gave the name of "Floyd" in memory of Sergeant Floyd of the Lewis and Clark expedition who died in camp in 1804 and was buried on the east side of the Missouri River south of Sioux City.  The Senate passed the bill as introduced but it was amended in the House by striking out "Floyd" and inserting "Wahkaw," an Indian name.

An act of the Legislature approved January 12, 1853, provided for the organization of the county and selected commissioners to locate the county-seat, the name of which should be Sergeant's Bluff.  A later act of the same Legislature changed the name of the county to Woodbury, and on the 22d of January, 1853, Wahkaw County ceased to exist.

WAPELLO COUNTY was created in February, 1843, from territory embraced in the original county of Demoine.  It lies in the fourth tier west of the Mississippi River and in the second north of the Missouri State line and contains four hundred thirty-two square miles.  The Des Moines River flows through it from the northwest to southeast, dividing it into nearly equal parts.  The banks were originally  covered with a heavy growth of timber and more than half of the county is under laid with coal of good quality.  The county was named for the Fox chief Wapello, his name signifying "the prince."

On the 1st of May, 1843, the lands of this county were opened to settlement and several hundred persons who had camped along the western border of Jefferson hastened in to take claims.  Many conflicts arose over the hastily made boundary lines which were usually settled peaceably by the claim committees chosen by the settlers for the purpose of deciding such contests.

The first election was held in April, 1844, at which the following county officers were chosen:  J. M. Montgomery, L. E. Temple and C. T. Harrow, commissioners; P. C. Jeffries, probate judge; Joseph Haynes, sheriff; Thomas Foster, treasurer; M. J. Spurlock, recorder; Charles Overman, clerk; and Hugh George, surveyor.  The commissioners chosen to locate the county-seat selected the site where Ottumwa stands.  Here a town had been laid out by the Appanoose Rapids Company in May, 1843, and named Ottumwa, and Indian word signifying "rapids" or "tumbling water."  The commissioners gave the place the name of Lewisville but the town proprietors refused to accept that name and adhered to the beautiful and appropriate Indian name "Ottumwa" and thus preserved for the future city the name which had never before been given to a town.

Among the pioneers who made the first improvements at the new county-seat were Dr. C. S. Warden, William Dewey, S. S. Norris, P. C. Jeffries, David Glass, W. H. Galbraith, John Myers, David Hale and Herman P. Graves.  In 1844 the town consisted of nine log cabins and one small frame house.  David Hale kept the first hotel in a log cabin and S. Richards opened a store in a similar building.  The mail was carried once a week on horseback from Keosauqua.  Rev. T. M. Kirkpatrick was the first minister in the county, holding services in a wigwam on Keokuk Prairie in 1843.  Dr. Charles S. Warden was the first physician, coming from Kentucky in 1843.  He for many years practiced medicine over all that region.  Ezekiel Rust taught the first school in a log cabin.

In August, 1848, a weekly newspaper named the Des Moines Courier was established in Ottumwa by J. H. D. Street and R. H. Warden and was at that time the most western paper in the United States.

In early days J. P. Eddy kept an Indian trading post in the northwest corner of the county on the bank of the Des Moines River.  He continued to keep a store there after the removal of the Indians and in 1843 laid out a town which he named Eddyville.  Agency City, seven miles east of Ottumwa, takes its name from an old Indian agency which was established in an early day at that place.  It was the first town laid out in Wapello County.  In August, 1859, the Burlington Railroad was completed to Ottumwa and the following year the Des Moines Valley Railroad came in from Keokuk.

WARREN COUNTY lies in the third tier north of Missouri, in the fifth east of the Missouri River and contains five hundred sixty-nine square miles.  It was created in January, 1846, and named for General Joseph Warren who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill.  In 1848 the northern tier of townships was attached to Polk County.  In 1853 these townships, with the exception of  a fraction lying north of the Des Moines River were restored to Warren.  Three rivers, North, Middle and South River flow in an easterly direction through the county and are bordered by fine timber.

The first settler in the county was John D. Parmelee who built a log cabin and erected a sawmill on Middle River in 1853, where lumber was manufactured for building the fort at Raccoon Forks.  William Mason took a claim near Palmyra in the spring of 1845 before the Indians removed from the region.  Among the earliest pioneers were Henry James, Robert Rees, P. P. Henderson, Samuel Hayworth, D. Booker, Alexander Grindler and Alfred D. Jones.  Early in 1849 P. P. Henderson was appointed sheriff to organize the county and the first commissioners were Samuel Hayworth, Alexander Grindler and D. Booker.  During this year the commissioners chosen to select a site for the county-seat met at the house of Alexander Grindler and decided upon a place near the geographical center of the county a mile north of South River where a town was laid out and named Indianola.  Among the first to build houses and settle at the new county-seat was Zebulon Hackett, P. P. Henderson and Amos Booker.

The first election was held on the 1st of January, 1849, at which the following officers were chosen:  judge of probate, Thomas Feagans; sheriff, P. P. Henderson; clerk, Jonathan Dillon; recorder, William Ginder; surveyor, Henry Hays; commissioners, Samuel Haworth, Alexander Grindler and Daniel Barker.  In September of the same year the first court was held in a log school-house by Judge McKay at which Barlow Granger was district attorney.  A log court-house was built at Indianola in 1851 which for several years was used also for church services, public meetings, political conventions and schools.  A newspaper was established at Indianola by John W. Murphy who issued the first number of the Republican on the 24th of August, 1855.  It survived less than a year and was succeeded by the Indianola Visitor, published by J. H. Knox.  The Methodists organized the first church in Indianola in 1850.  At the annual conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church held at Indianola, in August, 1860, steps were taken to establish a seminary under the auspices of that denomination, which in 1867 became "Simpson Centenary College."

Carlisle was laid out in the northern part of the county by Jerry Church and Daniel Moore in 1851.  Norwalk was laid out by George M. Swan the same year near the northwest corner of the county.  The first railroad built was a branch of the Rock Island running from Des Moines to Indianola which was completed to that place in October, 1871.  The first movement of the citizens of Warren County to secure a railroad was made as early as 1853.  Efforts continued for nearly eighteen years before the county-seat became connected with the railroad lines of the country.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, when first created, was given the name of "Slaughter" in January, 1838.  On the 25th of January, 1839, the name was fortunately changed to Washington and the boundaries arranged as they now exist.  This is the second county west of the Mississippi River in the third tier north of Missouri and embraces five hundred sixty-six square miles.

The first white settler was an Indian trader, Joseph Smart who, in 1834, established a trading post neat the mouth of Crooked Creek.  In February, 1836, John Black and Adam Ritchey with two brothers and several neighbors took claims in the southern part of the county near the Henry County line.  Here they built cabins and opened farms and during the following year Isaac Pence and family, Milo Holcomb and John B. Bullock took claims near them.  In the fall of 1836 Richard Moore and others settled in Washington township about three miles from where the county-seat was established.  Immigration increased rapidly from this time and in 1838 the county had a large number of permanent settlers.  In 1837, when the county was called Slaughter, a town had been laid out in the present township of Oregon named Astoria, which became the county-seat and here a log court-house was built.

In 1839 commissioners appointed to select a site for the permanent county-seat located it at Washington.  In December of the same year Joseph Adams built the first house, a double log cabin one part for a residence and the other for a blacksmith shop.  The second house was built by Daniel Powers for a hotel with two rooms on the ground and a loft above.  The store was opened in May, 1840, by John Daugherty.  Rev. J. L. Kirkpatrick, a Methodist minister, organized a religious society in October, 1839.  Thomas Baker was the first postmaster and Dr. George H. Stone the first physician at the county-seat.

A mill had been built on Crooked Creek as early as 1837 by Milo Holcomb and John B. Bullock.  The first post-office in the county was Pottsville, of which David Goble was postmaster; it was supplied with mail semimonthly by M. Higbee who carried it on foot from Wapello in Louisa County.  On the 17th of June, 1839, Judge Williams held the first court at the new county-seat.

About the year 1844 a newspaper was established at Washington by Lewis F. Walden and J. F. Rice called the Washington Argus and was Democratic in politics.

In August, 1858, a branch of the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad was completed to Washington.   Brighton is a thriving town in the southeast part of the county on the line of the Southwestern Railroad.  The principal streams flowing through the county are the Skunk and English rivers and Crooked Creek, the banks of which are bordered by native timber.

WAYNE COUNTY was created on the 13th of January, 1846, and lies on the Missouri line about midway between the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers, containing five hundred twenty-three square miles.  It was named for General Anthony Wayne of the Revolutionary War.  Branches of the Chariton and Grand rivers flow through the county in a southerly direction cutting channels to a depth of from one hundred to one hundred fifty feet.  These streams are usually bordered by timber and numerous groves are scattered over the county.

In 1840 D. S. Duncan, H. P. Sullivan and H. B. Duncan of Kentucky took claims on Grand River close to the State line near the present town of Lineville.  Other settlers soon came, locating in the timber lands along the streams.  Among them were Henderson Walker, Benjamin Barker, Hiram Mason, I. W. McCarthy, Joseph Rains, George Garman, Seth Anderson and Isaac Wilson.  In November, 1850, Dr. I. W. McCarthy was appointed sheriff to organize the county.  The following officers were elected in August, 1851:  Seth Anderson, judge; Thomas McPherson, clerk; D. Payton, recorder and treasurer, and I. W. McCarthy, sheriff.  Thirty votes were cast at this election and the amount of revenue the first year was $64.30.

The commissioners chosen to locate the county-seat in the spring of 1851 selected the site where Corydon stands and gave it the name of Springfield but as there was already a town of that name in the State, upon the suggestion of Judge Anderson, it was changed to Corydon for a town of that name in Indiana.  The ground was purchased by the county, a town platted by Benjamin Barker and J. F. Statton, the lots appraised and offered for sale.  George Garman purchased the first lot for thirty-eight dollars upon which he built a house in which he opened a store.  The first sermon was preached by Rev. Morgan Parr, a Christian minister.  In the spring of 1852 a term of court was held by Judge McKay in an unfinished log house.  The first newspaper in the county was the South Tier Democrat established in 1858 by Cutler and Binkley at Corydon.  Lineville, which lies near the State line, in the southwest corner of the county was the first town laid out, in 1848.  Allerton is a thriving town four miles southwest of Corydon.  The Chicago and Southwestern Railroad was the first built into the county.  The Chariton River was named for a French trader who was the first to establish a post near its mouth in Missouri.  His name was also given to a county in Missouri where his old trading post stood and later to the county-seat of Lucas County in Iowa.

WEBSTER COUNTY, as first established in January, 1853, is now Hamilton, but by an act of the same General Assembly, which took place six months later, the counties of Yell and Risley were united under the name of Webster and the original county of Webster was named Hamilton.  In July, 1855, the south half of Humboldt was added to Webster.  The latter county was named for the famous Massachusetts lawyer, Daniel Webster, and these numerous changes in boundaries were made through the influence of the proprietors of the towns of Webster City and Fort Dodge in order to secure to them the county-seat.

Henry Lott and others went into the Des Moines valley near the mouth of the Boone River in 1847 and soon after Isaac Bell, Jacon Mericle, Tolman Woolsey, D. B. Spaulding, Orsborn Brannon, John Tolman, Thomas Holliday, and William Pierce settled in the southern part of Webster County along the Des Moines River and tributaries.  Rev. John Johns was a famous hunter and pioneer preacher in that vicinity.  Up to 1853 about one hundred fifty settlers had made homes along the river south of Fort Dodge.

In August, 1853, an election was held and the following county officers were chosen:  William Pierce, judge; Tolman Woolsey, recorder and treasurer; Jesse Goodrich, clerk; J. Doty, sheriff, and John Tolman, school fund commissioner.  A town was laid out on a beautiful prairie between the Des Moines and Boone rivers in the fall of 1853 named Homer which was made the first county-seat.  There the first court was held in the fall of 1854 by Judge McFarland.  Granville Berkley was the first postmaster at Homer, which made a rapid growth.

The old fort had been vacated by the soldiers in October, 1853, and Major William Williams had charge of the abandoned Government property.  Soon after the land, which had been reserved for the post, was offered for sale and purchased by a syndicate at the head of which was Major Williams.  In March, 1854, the survey and plat of the original town of Fort Dodge was completed, the survey having been made by S. C. Wood of Boone County.  The syndicate consisted of Colonel Jesse Williams, John Lemp, Bernhart Henn and George Gillaspy and was known as the "Fort Dodge Land Company."  Major William Williams was the resident manager who made the purchase of the lands and caused the town of Fort Dodge to be laid out.  A post-office was established and Major Williams was appointed postmaster.  In 1855 a United States Land Office was established at Fort Dodge and the town became a competitor to Homer for the county-seat.

Among the earliest settlers at Fort Dodge were John F. Duncombe, John L. Cheyney, H. Beecher, H. A. Cramer, C. H. Vincent, W. O. Ruggles, E. G. Morgan, John Garrahty, Albert Morrison and Ezekiel Hinton.  A plan was devised by citizens of Fort Dodge and Newcastle, on the Boone River, to divide the county and make each of these towns the county-seat of the new counties thus created.  The first step was calling an election in April, 1856, for the removal of the county-seat from Homer to Fort Dodge.  By cooperation of the citizens of Fort Dodge and Newcastle and the entire northern part of the county Fort Dodge was successful.  The Legislature of 1857 divided the large county of Webster, creating the county of Hamilton out of the eastern part and the county-seat was established at Webster City, the new name for the town of Newcastle.  The division line between the new counties left Homer close to the west side of Hamilton and was a death blow to a town which had made a remarkable growth, and was at one time the most important in northwestern Iowa.  Business and citizens deserted it, houses and stores were left without tenants and for years it was a deserted village.

The boundaries of Hamilton were made identical with the original county of Webster the present county containing none of the territory of the original county of that name.  On the 26th of February, 1857, the north tier of townships of Webster County was annexed to the new county of Humboldt, leaving Webster with an area of seven hundred twenty square miles.

The first sermon preached in Fort Dodge was by the Rev. J. H. Burleigh in the fall of 1851 in a hospital tent.  Williams and Lemp operated the first store in 1855 and C. C. Carpenter, afterwards Governor, taught the first school in the winter of 1855-6.  Hoyt Sherman and E. W. Lucas of Des Moines bought the first lots sold in Fort Dodge in March, 1855.  John F. Duncombe opened the first law office in April and Dr. S. B. Olney was the first physician.  The first hotel was opened in 1854 by W. R. Miller in one of the barracks.  In July, 1856, A. S. White established the first newspaper in northwestern Iowa, at Fort Dodge.  It was a weekly Democratic journal named the Fort Dodge Sentinel.  The first railroad built into the county was the Iowa Falls and Sioux City which reached Fort Dodge in May, 1869.  In Webster County are found extensive deposits of gypsum and its manufacture into stucco is one of the most important industries in the State.  A history of the establishment of a military post at Fort Dodge is given elsewhere.

WINNEBAGO COUNTY lies on the Minnesota line about midway between the east and west boundaries of the State.  It was at one time a part of the old county of Fayette but in 1851 was created by act of the General Assembly with present boundaries and named for the Indian tribe that at one time occupied a portion of northern Iowa.  The county contains nearly twelve congressional townships, making an area of four hundred three square miles and was at different times attached to the counties of Polk, Boone and Webster.

The first white settler within the limits of Winnebago was George W. Thomas who, early in 1855, took a claim and opened a farm at Rice Lake.  On the 27th of September of the same year John Mabin made a claim on the east side of Lime Creek where Forest City stands.  P. Tennis, J. Gilchrist and J. C. Bonar arrived during the summer of 1856 and Robert Clark, john S. Blowers, A. T. Cole, Henry Allen, J. L. Hitt and others settled in the southern part of the county with their families.  In the fall of the same year Samuel Tennis, Archibald Murray and William Gilbert made homes in the northern part of the county.  In 1857 several Norwegian families arrived and from year to year many of their countrymen joined them, making a large settlement of that nationality.  Most of the early settlers made their homes in the groves along Lime Creek which were numerous and abounded in game.  This stream is a tributary of Shellrock River and affords good water power.  Twin Lakes and Rice Lake in the eastern part of the county are clear and beautiful sheets of water.  The greater part of the land of Winnebago west of Lime Creek is rolling prairie of great fertility.

In the fall of 1856 Judge Robert Clark laid out a town on the west bank of Lime Creek, half a mile from the south line of the county, which was named Forest City.  A post-office was established of which Mr. Clark was post-master.  He built a mill on the creek and opened a store.

The county was organized in the fall of 1857 by the election of the following officers:  Robert Clark, judge; C. H. Day, recorder and treasurer; B. F. Dinslow, clerk; John S. Blowers, sheriff, and C. W. Scott, superintendent of schools.  In 1858 the commissioners chosen to locate the county-seat gave it to Forest City.  On the 14th of June, 1867, J. W. Kelley issued the first number of a weekly newspaper named the Winnebago Press.  It was printed on an old hand press which was first used at Belmont when that town was the Capital of Wisconsin and Iowa.  It was moved to Burlington in 1837 and used to print the second paper established within the limits of the Territory which became Iowa in 1838 and is reported to have done good service on papers at Osage, Mason City and Ellington before it was taken to Forest City.  In the fall of 1869 the village of Lake Mills was laid out by Charles D. Smith where a large mill was built.

WINNESHIEK COUNTY was established in 1847 from territory embraced in the original county of Fayette.  It lies in the second tier west of the Mississippi River and extends north to the Minnesota line.  It is one of the large counties containing twenty townships, embracing an area of six hundred ninety-four square miles.  The county was named for a noted chief of the Winnebago Indians whose name appears on the records "Kinnoskik" which signifies "coming thunder."  The surface of the county is divided between prairie and woodland, with high bluffs along the streams.  The Upper Iowa and Turkey rivers with numerous tributaries flow through it.

Fort Atkinson was erected in 1840 when the country was occupied by the Winnebago Indians who remained until 1848.  A mission school was also established for the education of the Indian children, in connection with a large farm, where efforts were made to teach them agriculture.  After removal of the Indians the mission was abandoned and the farm sold to white settlers.

Among the first settlers were Francis Rogers, George Bachel, David Reed, F. J. Huber, William Day, George Ream, William Painter and Philip Morse who took claims in 1848.  In 1849 Painter and Aldridge built the first mill in the county on the Upper Iowa River near where Decorah now stands.  William Day built one of the first log cabins, in 1849, where Decorah was located.  It was occupied by his family of nine persons and also sheltered travelers until winter when he built the Winneshiek House.  Several families built cabins near him in 1850-51 and a village grew up which was given the name of Decorah, for an Indian chief of the Winnebagos, whose village and burial ground was at that place.

In 1851 the first steps were taken to organize a county government and a vote was taken upon the location of the county-seat which resulted in the choice of Decorah.  The officers chosen were David Reed, judge; Joseph Brown, clerk; George Bachel, sheriff, and David Kuykendall, recorder and treasurer.  The first term of court was held at the house of William Day in Decorah in September, 1851.  J. B. Onstine was the first lawyer and Aaron Newell opened a store the same year in a "slab shanty."  Elder Bishop of the Methodist Church was the pioneer preacher who came in 1851.  A school-house was built in 1853 in which T. W. Burdick gave instruction.  For several years efforts were made to remove the county-seat from Decorah which delayed the building of a court-house until 1856.  In 1855 a United States Land office was established which brought many there to enter land.

In 1856 the Decorah Chronicle, a weekly newspaper, was established.  A college was founded in 1865 at DEcorah by the Norwegian Lutheran Synod.  A branch of the Milwaukee Railroad was built to the town in 1869.

WOODBURY COUNTY is one of the largest in the State, embracing an area of eight hundred seventy-three square miles.  It was first named Wahkaw but changed to Woodbury, January 22, 1851, in honor of Judge Levi Woodbury of the United States Supreme Court.  The county lies on the Missouri River in the fourth tier south of Minnesota.  Along the river in this vicinity is a broad expanse of level bottom land of great fertility, varying in width from five to ten miles.  The bluffs beyond are high, steep and in places broken into deep ravines and lofty ridges, gradually spreading out into gently rolling prairie.  The principal interior streams are the Floyd River, branches of the Little Sioux and Maple rivers and Perry Creek.  The Big Sioux forms a part of the western boundary.

The Indian title to this part of Iowa was extinguished in 1847.  Early in 1848, forty-four years after this region was visited by the Lewis and Clark exploring expedition, a single adventurous pioneer, William Thompson, made his way up the Missouri valley and settled at Floyd's Bluff, within the limits of what is now Woodbury County.  Here he built a log cabin, opened trade with the Indians and laid out a town which he named Thompsonville.  After Wahkaw County was created this became the county-seat, but having no steamboat landing, made but little progress and in a few years was abandoned.  In May, 1849, Theophile Brugnier a Frenchman who had married an Indian wife, built a cabin on the bluff near the mouth of the Big Sioux about two miles above where Sioux City stands.  In the fall of the same year Robert Perry, an eccentric but well educated man from Washington D. C., settled near a creek where Sioux City stands; he lived there several years and his name was given to the creek.  In 1850 Paul Paquette built a cabin about two miles from the mouth of the Big Sioux River.

In 1853, soon after the change of name, the county was organized and the county-seat located at Floyd's Bluff.  The first county officials were Marshal Townsley, judge; Hiram Nelson, recorder and treasurer; and Joseph P. Babbitt, clerk.  At this time Woodbury County embraced a large territory north and east which has since been divided into several counties.  In 1854 J. K. Cook, a government contractor, came with a party and bought claims in the vicinity of Sioux City.  Among those who owned claims in this locality was the gallant General Lyon who was killed at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, the first year of the Civil War.  In the winter of 1854 Sioux City was platted and among the pioneers in and about the new town were Joseph Lionels, Hiram Nelson, Francis Chappel, G. W. Chamberlin and Marshal Townsley.  In July 1855, a stage line was established supplying the town with weekly mail.  The first term of court was held at Floyd's Bluff by Judge Riddle in September, 1855.  Numerous settlers arrived in Sioux City early in 1856 and the population of the new town was one hundred fifty.  By a vote of the people the county-seat was moved from Floyd's Bluff to Sioux City where a United States Land office was established in 1855.

The Omaha, a steamboat from St. Louis, arrived at Sioux City in June, 1856, loaded with provisions and lumber framed ready to be converted into houses.  In July a steam sawmill was built.  The first white women in the new town were Mrs. S. H. Casady and Mrs. J. R. Myers who arrived with their husbands in the summer of 1855.  By the close of the year 1856 the population had increased to more than four hundred, and ninety buildings had been erected.  On the Fourth of July, 1857, S. W. Swiggett issued the first number of a weekly newspaper named the Iowa Eagle.

In 1853 Mr. Shook settled on the Little Sioux River at a place which took the name of Correctionville.  R. Candreau, C. Bacon and M. Kellogg arrived the next year.  For many years Correctionville was a station on the old stage line from Fort Dodge to Sioux City.  Another one of the early settlements was made on the Little Sioux River near the south line of the county at Smithland.  In 1857, when Inkpaduta's band of Sioux Indians came through this settlement on the way to Spirit Lake, hostile demonstrations were made and the settlers gathered and disarmed a number of the Indians.  The savages stole other arms, however, and continued their journey up the valley.

Sergeant's Bluff was laid out in 1856 by Crockwell and Dr. Wright of Independence.  It was a rival of Sioux City, lying six miles south.  In 1857 a newspaper was established by Cummings and Ziebach, named the Western Independent which was later removed to Sioux City where it became the Sioux City Register.  The Sioux City and Pacific Railroad was completed to Sioux City in March, 1868.

WORTH COUNTY was created in 1851 and named for General William J. Worth who was prominent officer in the Mexican War.  It lies on the Minnesota line in the fifth tier west of the Mississippi and contains an area of four hundred two square miles.  Tributaries of the Shellrock River and Lime Creek flow through the county in a southerly direction and in the northwest portion are Silver Lake, Rice Lake and Bright's Lake, all small sheets of water.  There were originally about 10,000 acres of native woodland along the Shellrock and in groves scattered over the county.

The first settlements were made by Gulbrand Olsen and Norwegian companions in June, 1853.  They made claims on the Shellrock near where Northwood stands where water power was found.  In the spring of 1854 Simon Rustad, Chris. Amandsen, Ole Lee and three brothers named Hart settled in a grove on the Shellrock near the State line.  In 1855 D. H. Phelps, Tilly McWithy and Hiram Bilton with two sons made claims in the same vicinity.  In May, 1855, Charles Johnson took a claim at Rice Lake in the vicinity of Bristol.  During that season many families settled in that part of the county and at Silver Lake, on Elk Creek, at Wright's Grove and Glen Mary.

The town of Northwood was laid out in November, 1857, by Charles Wardell and the next year Lemuel Dwelle and Joel Dayton platted additions to it.  The first store was opened in September by B. H. Beckett in the first frame building which was erected by S. H. Franklin.  Goods were transported from McGregor by wagon, a distance of one hundred thirty miles.  A post-office was established in 1857, of which Dr. S. H. Franklin was postmaster.  In the summer of 1858 Charles Wardell built a dam across the Shellrock River and erected a sawmill.  The town of Bristol was platted in the spring of 1857 by Chancy S. Lane and J. S. Loveland, in the western part of the county.  Dr. James Keeler had settled on the site of the town in 1856 and the largest settlement in the county had grown up in that vicinity.  A store was opened in Bristol in 1857 and a post-office was established the same year with Dr. James Keeler postmaster.

The county was organized in October, 1857, and the following officers were chosen:  Dr. James Keeler, judge; C. S. Lane, treasurer and recorder; B. K. Walker, clerk; Lorin Turnure, sheriff; and Amos Bentley, prosecuting attorney.  Bristol and Northwood were from the first rivals for the county-seat and the commissioners appointed to select a location gave it to Bristol.  The citizens of that town realized the dangers of ultimate removal, as their town was near the west line of the county.  To remove this peril they petitioned the Legislature for the purpose of securing a change in the county boundaries by adding a portion of the territory of the east side of Worth to Mitchell and annexing a part of Winnebago on the west.  In this they were not successful and in 1863 the county-seat was removed to Northwood by a vote of one hundred fifteen to forty.  No court-house had been built at Bristol and the first term of court was held in a log cabin by Judge John Porter in September, 1859.  On the 24th of October, 1869, the first newspaper, called the Northwood Pioneer, was issued by P. D. Swick  The Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railroad runs through the county from south to north and the Milwaukee runs through the southeast corner.

WRIGHT COUNTY was established by act of the General Assembly in 1851 and named for Silas Wright, a New York statesman and Governor Joseph A. Wright of Indiana.  The county lies in the third tier south of the Minnesota line and in the sixth west of the Mississippi River.  It is twenty-four miles square and contains five hundred seventy-six square miles.  The Iowa River runs through the eastern portion of the county from north to south and the Boone River flows through the western tier of townships in the same direction.  Excellent borders of timber are found along the banks of these rivers while the land between was, in early days, a vast rolling prairie of great fertility.

The first pioneer who made a home in the county was Major Anson Brassfield who, in 1854, made a claim on the banks of the Boone River in what is now Liberty township.  The following year he constructed a dam across the river and built the first mill in the county.  S. B. Hewett, his son, S. B. Hewett, Jr., and N. B. Paine of Massachusetts, in 1854 settled at Eagle Grove near the Boone River where they opened farms.  H. B. Martin settled the same year near the mouth of Otter Creek where he laid out the town of Liberty.  The same year three families located near the Iowa River, not far from where Belmont stands and William Stryker made a claim at Bach Grove.  In 1855 Dr. L. H. Cutler, A. Dumont and T. Oliver took claims near the Iowa River in the vicinity of Belmont.  In July of the same year William Gray, H. Luie and A. Overcracker settled near the Iowa River in the northeast corner of the county.  C. H. Martin located on the Boone River in the northwest corner in 1855.

The first meeting to organize the county was held at the cabin of S. B. Hewett in Eagle Grove in the spring of 1854.  At an election held in August the following officers were chosen:  David Dean, judge; C. H. Martin, clerk; Anson Brassfield, recorder and treasurer; S. Crapper, sheriff; S. B. Hewett, Jr., surveyor, and N. B. Paine, prosecuting attorney.  In 1856 John Melrose built and opened the first store in the county at liberty which was the first county-seat.  A town was laid out on the Iowa River in the summer of 1856 by A. Dumont, J. Elder and E. Rogers and was first named Crown Point, afterwards changed to Belmont.  A dam was constructed across the Iowa River where a saw and grist-mill was built by Dr. L. H. Cutler, who also built the first house in the new town.

Several small lakes are found in the county the largest of which is Wall Lake, in the township of that name.  In early days a wall of boulders was found along its shores, crowded there by the floating ice driven by the winds for thousands of years and from this wall the lake derived its name.  When the first settlers arrived a large elm tree stood upon the southeast shore of a beautiful little lake lying near the geographical center of the county.  It was given the name of Elm Lake.  Cornelia Lake was named for the daughter of E. K. Eastman, one of the early settlers.  Twin Lakes lie about four miles north of Cornelia.  The first settler at Wall Lake was E. P. Purcell who built a cabin on its northern shore in 1856.  Here he lived with his family for five years before the arrival of other settlers.

The first newspaper in the county was established by George D. Ingersoll at Liberty in 1861.  It was named the Wright County Free Press and was published weekly.  In 1865, one hundred twenty acres of land were purchased by the county near its geographical center where a town was platted and named Clarion, which became the county-seat.  The largest town in the county has grown up at Eagle Grove where the Northwestern Railroad crossed the Mason City and Fort Dodge line.

YELL COUNTY was created by act of the General Assembly in 1851 and embraced all of the present territory of Webster except the north tier of congressional townships.  It was named for the second Governor of Arkansas, Colonel Archibald Yell, who was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican War.  The county had never been organized up to 1853, when by act of the Legislature it was incorporated with the new county of Webster.  This county was formed by uniting the former county of Webster, which had first been named Risley, with Yell County, making thirty-two congressional townships, to which the name of Webster was given.  By this act the county of Yell ceased to exist.



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