The following descriptions were prepared by B. F. Crenshaw of Marengo and are verified by the government surveys of this territory issued in the early days.

Iowa county history is told in a quaint way by a few marks and notes that were found in the earliest records of the contract and the survey as made by our government. Our east line was the first contracted survey in the county. The contract was let October 16, 1840, to George H. Harrison, to run the east line of Iowa to the west line of Johnson. He completed his work on making this survey during the second quarter of the year 1841. Three years later the contract for the survey of the subdivision of township 81, range 9, was let on September 9, 1843, to J. E. Whiteker, who established the lines during the fourth quarter of the year 1843. Mr. Whiteker, also at the same date, was awarded the contract to run the lines along the subdivision of township 81, range 10, which takes in a part of Amana Township and a part of Marengo Township, stopping at a line along the center of the road leading out southeast of Marengo.


It is in Whiteker´s notes of the distances and courses of the Iowa River that we find our old early history of the trading house and the Indian farm. This old Indian farm was in existence in the early part of 1843. The west line was over at the center of section 33, taking in about one hundred and twenty acres of the northeast quarter of section 33, about eighty acres being the south half of section 28. A small lot in section 27, about forty acres, most all of the northwest quarter of section 34, a greater part of the northeast quarter of section 34, about one-half of the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section 35, which brings it about one mile northwest of the Rock Island station at South Amana. The Indian farm extended west of South Amana about one hundred and twenty rods, taking about one hundred and twenty acres out of the southeast quarter and about the same out of the southwest quarter of section 35, township 81, range 10. The original lines were shown by the government survey and were made by J. E. Whiteker, who took the contract for making the survey of the subdivisions on September 9, 1843, and surveyed the same during the fourth quarter of 1843. The old trading house is thus found, indisputably, to have been located on the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of section 35, Amana Township.

The old Indian farm takes in a part of the Amana Society´s land, a part of the C. C. Bigbee land, a part of the Porter farm, a part of the Hoefmeister

Vol. I-17

farm, a part of the Shonborn farm and ends at the center of section 33 and 28 in the McDonald land. Its southeast line runs up to the break between the bottom lands and the hill lands.


The first school in Marengo was taught by Mary Bishop. She taught the school just east of the Catholic Church, in a log schoolhouse, in the year 1850, having an attendance of a dozen pupils and receiving about five dollars for her services. Marengo became an independent school district on April 1, 1861. The transition from the district to the graded school was not great. James Root, Jr., the principal, ordered the work graded and reorganized. In the fall of 1869 C. P. Rogers became principal, and he reduced the schools to eleven common school grades and in 1871 a four years’ high school course was added.

The first school established in Victor was held in a blacksmith shop which was built and owned by L. W. Hunt. It stood on the south end of the lot afterward occupied by a saloon. This was in the spring of 1863; Mrs. Joseph Barker was the first teacher. In the fall of 1865 a house was built for school purposes and used until 1870. It was later occupied by the Catholic Church. John G. Simpson, Melvin Wigton, Phillip Uhl and John H. Funk were chosen as the first directors of the independent district of Victor; M. T. funk was the first treasurer and George W. Wilson the first secretary. In 1870 the district erected a building for school purposes, which stood about one-half mile south of the business portion of the town. In October, 1873, the building was destroyed by fire, and in 1874 a new building was constructed. The schools were first graded in June 1869. After the destruction of the schoolhouse by fire the Presbyterian and Methodist churches were rented for school purposes. In the summer of 1874 the new building was put up at the corner of Harrison and Fourth streets.

The first school in Troy Township was kept at the log house of William Evans after he had removed to his new log house in the winter of 1850-1.

The first school in English Township was on the northeast quarter of section 8 in 1854. There were twenty scholars. It was taught by a young man from the East. The first school in Millersburg was in the fall of 1855 and was taught by John William Sharp. The graded school was established in January 1869, and the following persons were the first directors: J.V. Hatter, A. W. Young, J.P. Sivard, A. H. Akers, J.B. Elliott and A. Griffith.

The first school in Sumner Township was taught at the Ohio School in 1850, on the southwest corner of section 30.

The first school in Honey Creek Township was taught by Josephus Talbott in a house constructed on the Lanning farm. He had twelve scholars. This school was built by volunteer labor of the residents and cost $150.

The first school in Washington Township was at John Bishop´s house on section 21, taught by one of the Bishop girls. The first schoolhouse was on the Cary place, section 14, built about the year 1855.

The first school in Pilot Township was taught by Sarah Vandyke in Christian Myer´s smokehouse, on section 34, at a salary of $11 per month for three months. She had seven scholars. This was before the year 1860. The first schoolhouse


was built in South Pilot District by Stahl & Boyd, at a cost of $400, in the year 1860.

It is aid that the first schoolhouse in York Township was the White School, which was a frame one built about the year 1858.

The firs schoolhouse in Cono Township was a log one, built by the neighbors in 1848, sixteen by eighteen feet. Josephus Talbott was the teacher.

The first school in Greene Township, as also the first in Iowa County, was kept in Edward R. Ricord´s house and taught by Caroline Cole, in the year 1844. The first house for school purposes was built in section 3, township 78, range 9, by John Coulter, though E. R. Ricord was the contractor. The first teacher here was Emily Umphrey, and she had twenty scholars. She received $12 a month and boarded around the district.

The first schoolhouse in Iowa Township was built on section 1. It was built of logs, and the men were taxed to defray the expenses.

The first school in Hilton Township was taught on the farm of Samuel Thornton by Mary Thornton, his granddaughter. She had eight scholars and received $8 per month.

The first schoolhouse in Lenox Township was on the southeast corner of section 2. It was built by volunteer labor.


Two brothers, Anthony and Edward Morley, were drowned in the bayou of the river just north of the town of Marengo on January 14, 1866. They attempted to cross on the rice on their way to town, but broke through. They clung to the edge of the ice until numbness compelled them to let go. Two days later their bodies were found.


The manuscript of R. B. Groff has the following:

“Charles Irish came into my office in Marengo, stating his father, Captain Irish, of Iowa City had lost a horse, and that he had traced the thief to Cedar Rapids and the Dutch colony, and that he must have come this way. After a description was given me of the horse and thief, I came to the conclusion that the man had called upon me a few hours ago in search of land and left on the Des Moines road. I strapped on a revolver, ordered out my horse, and accompanied him in pursuit. We followed up about six miles, near where Kime lived, or on the rise just beyond the cemetery; saw the man. We followed when he got out of sight over the hill, and came up to him; yet as he dismounted near Bears, Irish knew his father´s horse, seized the man, accused him of horse stealing. I found the thief could not understand English; I explained to him in German our business; told him he would have to go to Iowa City to stand a trial. He was willing because he said he had bought him of responsible parties. He was arraigned next day; I defended; Woodin, now of Sigourney, prosecuted; bound him over and had him sent to fort Madison for five years. He gave his name as Christian Genesku.”

Mr. Groff also related the following: “Three brothers, by the name of Rhodes, came here in 1856 from Missouri. They brought with them a nice


span of bay mares which they sold to a man named Tart, and a span of heavy iron grays. These were sold to Mr. Norton. Men came and proved property to the last span and critically examined the former span. In a few days after a man came and took the mares from Tart, for which he had paid $180 in gold and had peaceable possession for eleven months. This raised the community against them. Information was sworn out by Dr. North on Sunday morning, July 16, 1858. Two fled, one was arrested, bound over, and sent to the penitentiary. If the others had been caught they would have found their stock in trade reduced to a single halter and the trees would bear up something more than bitter acorns.

“A man named Bunker came among us, passing counterfeit money in the Oneida County Bank, New York, in the fall of 1854. He was pursued by the sheriff and posse, was seen in the distance to dismount, tie his horse and disappear in the thicket north of town. When the crown came up they searched the bushes and found $250 in counterfeit money, supposed to have come from his pocket. The county regulators made him leave. A few days afterward a tree in Tama County, near Toledo, had an appendage.”


On Monday evening, October 21, 1872, fire originated in a building on the northeast corner of the square, owned by Jacob Franz. Several frame buildings were consumed before the blaze was under control, the loss amounting to about six thousand dollars. This same corner was rebuilt and later burned to the ground, the Holden Hotel being the third.


In October 1875, William B. Taylor was elected to the office of county auditor. He continued for a year or more to manage the business of his office with success, until May, 1877, when Deputy Treasurer Baird suggested to Treasurer Baumer that there was something “rotten in Denmark.” A few bills had come in which were too large. On Tuesday evening, May 22d, the deputy treasurer and E. E. Alverson made an examination of the books. It was found that changes had been made in the registration of warrants aggregating the sum of $400. A called session of the board of supervisors was immediately held and Mr. Taylor confessed his dishonesty. Taylor was arraigned for preliminary examination and placed under heavy bond. After having made a full examination of the books, Mr. Alverson reported that the total amount of defalcation was $2, 677.80. Taylor was arraigned for trial at the February term, 1878, and in the following August was sentenced for a term in the state prison.

Mr. Taylor was a very popular man and had a creditable war record; and up until this episode his record as a civilian was excellent. It is said that all men have their price; that, in other words, none are so perfect that they will not yield if the proper inducements are offered. This seems to have been the inducement and the opportunity which overcame William B. Taylor´s better nature. After his manipulations were made public and he had been bound over by the grand jury and had given bail for his appearance for the trial, he forfeited his


bonds and left for parts unknown. However, later he was located in Oregon, whither he had fled, and was brought back to Iowa County for trial. After the trial and the conviction there was a great amount of sympathy for Taylor and his family, his wife being from one of the most highly respected families of the county. After some satisfactory adjustment with the county officials and a short term in the county jail, Mr. Taylor was released from custody and at once returned to his family in Oregon, where he has since lived an honorable life and became a respected citizen.


The Iowa County Agricultural Society was organized in May, 1857, and the first fair was held at Marengo in October of the same year. The following were the first officers of the society: Alex Hutson, president; A. T. Cross, William H. Messenger, William Moerschell, vice presidents; Robert McKee, recording secretary; J.C. McConnell, corresponding secretary; James Miller, treasurer.

The first fair, as mentioned, was held on Wednesday and Thursday, October 7 and 8, 1857. The ground selected for the exhibition was just east of the old bridge between the house of Robert McKee and the Iowa River. Although there was not much money to be expended on elaborate exhibits and farm displays, the fair was very creditable, and a large number of people attended. The ladies exhibited fine needlework, drawings, knitting, quiltmaking, butter, preserves, jellies and other products of their handiwork. Stock, honey, vegetable and other products of the farm were also shown.

At present the society has about forty acres immediately east of the town of Marengo. The buildings for all purposes are abundant and well kept; in addition there is a splendid half-mile race track, a large amphitheater and grandstand.

There is some question as to the location of the first fair held in Iowa County, and by some it is claimed that at a later day the place was changed on account of lack of buildings at that time at the place chosen, north of the McKee home, and that the first fair was held at the northwest corner of block 18, Marengo, and that the fair north of McKee´s residence was held at a later date. However, these fairs have been held annually ever since the first exhibition and are largely attended.

In the early times more attention was paid to agriculture, poultry, horticulture, culinary and artistic handicraft departments and to livestock exhibits. But of later years these departments, with the exception of the livestock division, have been sadly neglected. The implement display and the public school division are good and the track display is largely advertised. The races are the features which draw the large attendance and make the fair practically self-sustaining. In this regard the same may be said of the Victor fair. That any department of the fair should be neglected in communities which could easily fill all halls and pavilions with fine exhibits seems inexcusable. In pavilion and in poultry and stock departments the Williamsburg fair is especially good. But this is exceptional. There are only a few fairs in the state which take such an interest in general exhibits.

The cause of this inexcusable neglect seems to be threefold. First, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that these exhibits would be nothing new; second,


the premiums offered are generally too small to induce competition; third, the people attend the state fair, where they see so much of the best of everything that they have little ambition to review the lesser exhibits of their home fair.


At the first meeting of the board of supervisors in January 1867, a resolution was adopted confirming the purchase of a half section of wild land from N. B. Holbrook, the same to be improved and equipped as a county poor farm. The county paid $2,300 for this land, which is located in the northwest corner of Troy township. A building was erected on the farm in 1868, 30 by 36 feet in dimensions, two stories in height, with a basement. The building was used for about ten years, when the order was issued to the various county homes of the state to make provision for the insane. Then it became necessary to erect a more commodious building. This was constructed in the fall of 1878. It was a frame structure, the main part being arranged for the family of the steward, dining hall, kitchen, etc. The old building was moved from the original site and out of it was constructed a wing of the main structure. These improvements cost the county about forty-eight hundred dollars.

In 1911 the county set aside funds for the construction a new county poor house, one which would be large and efficient enough to supply any demand which might be made upon it. The new building was accordingly erected at a cost of $34,000, and is easily one of the best county farm buildings in the state. There are three floors to the building, besides the basement. The rooms for the inmates, the sick rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, lavatories, heating plant, and, in fact, all the rooms and equipment are of the most modern construction. There are thirty inmates in 1915, not enough to fill the home, but frequently there has been full capacity, about sixty-five. The building is constructed of brick and stone, with wide veranda for each floor. The farm adjoining is quite productive and supplies occupations for those of the inmates that are able to work.

The farm is not wholly self-sustaining, but the satisfaction of knowing that those unfortunate inmates have a comfortable place of abode is a source of comfort far more gratifying than would be the saving of the extra expense.


Like many other counties, Iowa County has had a great amount of trouble in the past in subscribing aid to railroad corporations. In 1858 Iowa County negotiated with the Mississippi & Missouri Railroad Company, which corporation proposed to build a railroad across the county, on the condition that the county should issue to it, in the form of bonds, the sum of $100,000. An election was held on May 15, 1858, on this question and the proposition was carried by a vote of 591 to 517, giving a majority of 74. This railroad is now the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific.

After the bonds were issued and the road constructed through the county, the officials of the county, namely, the board of supervisors, refused to pay the bonds on the grounds that the railroad company did not fulfill all the conditions



Erected in 1884

named in the original proposition. This refusal resulted in much litigation and the supervisors, refusing to comply with certain orders of the federal count, were summoned to Des Moines to answer for contempt. After much additional expense the county officials made the proper provisions for the payments of the bonds.

Five years previous to this occurrence, in August, 1853, a petition had been presented to Judge Wallace, asking that an election be held to decide the question of subscribing $20,000 to the capital stock of the Lyons & Iowa Central Railroad. On the 31st of August the judge ordered an election to be held on October 8, 1853. The proposition was defeated by a vote of 127 to 22.

The petition for the vote on the Mississippi & Missouri railroad question was presented to the county judge on April 15, 1858, and was signed by 294 of the legal voters of the county.

The payment of the bonds, with interest at 10 per cent for twenty years and the expense of litigation, cost the county the large sum of $400,000. The indebtedness was cleared up about the year 1880.


The first transfer of real estate in Iowa County was from Jacob Ricord to Henry Lutchin. The territory in question was described as: the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter and the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 3, township 28 north, range 9 west, containing eighty acres. Edward R. Ricord and Lambert Lamberts were the witnesses; Henry Starry, justice of the peace, and Robert McKee, county recorder, signed the deed in their official capacities. The date is November 2, 1846.

The first real estate mortgage was dated September 15, 1847, and was between Joel Culver and William McCorkell and was in consideration of the sum of $800.

The first chattel mortgage was made August 26, 1853, between John Knox and Hugh B. Lynch. The consideration was $30 paid by Lynch to Knox.


The following data on the population of the county for different years of its existence are compiled from the United States census reports:

In the year 1847 there were 435 people in Iowa County; in 1849 there were 600; in 1850 there were 822; in 1851 there were 1,000; in 1852 there were 1,323; in 1854 there were 2,307; in 1856 there were 4,873; in 1859 there were 7,018; in 1860 there were 8,029; in 1863 there were 8,544; in 1865 there were 10,258; in 1867 there were 12,390; in 1869 there were 14,738; in 1870 there were 16,644; in 1873 there were 16,572; in 1875 there were 18,456; in 1880 there were 19,221; in 1885 18,190; in 1890, 18,270; in 1895, 18,964; in 1900, 19,544; in 1905, 18,977; in 1910, 18,409; in 1915, 17,946 without Parnell and Millersburg. The population of the towns in 1915 is: Marengo, 2,200; Williamsburg, 1,170; North English, 933; Victor, 655; Ladora, 215; Parnell, ___; Millersburg, ___. The population of the townships is: Dayton, 689; Lenox, 360; Pilot, 698; York, 758; Marengo, 571; Sumner, 584; Lincoln, 732; Iowa, 800; Greene, 967; Amana, 1,655; Washington, 446; Cono, 174; Hilton, 708; Fillmore, 850; Troy, 765; Honey Creek, 743; Hartford, 719; English, 872.


The first courthouse was a log structure, with one room and was located on the north side of the public square. The order for the erection of this courthouse was made by the board of commissioners at their meeting on April 14, 1847. The commissioners at that time were: William Crawford, Thomas Hanson and Lewis F. Wilson. William Hench took the contract for the erection of the building and completed it the same year. Upon examining the house the commissioners concluded it was not what they wanted and they refused to accept it. This did not discourage Hench; however, as any kind of a house would bring splendid rent in those days. He even offered to rent the building to the county for purpose of holding the district court therein pending the erection of a more suitable building for a courthouse.

The second courthouse was constructed some years later and was located on the east side of the public square. On October 11, 1851, the building was insured for $200 in the Troy Fire Insurance Company of Troy, Wis. The old courthouse stood for a great many years and was later known as Readman´s store.

The third courthouse was also located on the east side of the public square, a few feet north of the old courthouse. The first measures taken for the erection of this building was in 1861. The report made by the board placed the building on lot 4 of block 14. The plans for getting the money and executing the work were so completely covered by useless committees and formalities that the work could not be pushed as it should have been. The work dragged along and it was but a few years after completion that it was found necessary to enlarge the structure. In 1869 an addition to the courthouse was begun and in due course of time completed.


The new Iowa County courthouse, which was dedicated December 20, 1893, is one of the best courthouses in Iowa. It is constructed of Berea stone, 93 by 74 feet in dimensions, and is two stories in height, with a tower rising 137 feet above the ground. The interior is finished in antique oak; it is heated with steam and lighted with electricity. The county official records are housed in fireproof vaults entirely. The following story of the preparations for getting this structure is taken from the dedicatory address of Levi H. Rinehart, chairman of the building committee:

“On November 14, 1891, in response to a petition signed by a large number of voters, the board ordered a special election to be held on December 29th following, on which the people were to vote on the proposition to authorize the expenditure by the board of $50,000 arising from the sale of certain swamp lands owned by the county and lying in Ida and Cherokee counties, in the erection of a courthouse at Marengo. After a vigorous, but for the most part good-natured campaign, the election was held and showed our people nearly equally divided, there having been 1,956 for and 1,830 against the proposition, leaving a majority of 126 votes in favor, or a little over three per cent of the total vote cast.




“then the opponents of the proposition, as they had a right to do, commenced a proceeding in court to test the validity of the election, and at the end of the usual course of procedure the Supreme Court of Iowa held that that election was regular and conferred upon the board the power contemplated in the above proposition.

“In the meantime, it was deemed to the interest of the county in selling its lands, to secure such modification of the then existing law as to authorize sales to be made by auction in the counties where the land lay, instead of upon sealed bids to be filed here, hundreds of miles from the land, as required by the old law. Senator Kelly and Representative Patterson took charge of the matter and secured the passage of a new statute conforming to what was thought the method of sale most likely to bring the highest price for the lands. As the law required an appraisement of the lands the board appointed Messrs. John Cownie, Jr., William Welch and Michael Weiss as appraisers. Mr. Welch declined to serve, and H.C. Bartlett was appointed in his place.

“On March 22d to 24th, year 1892, the lands were sold at auction and the price realized was, in the aggregate, $49, 717.99, being $3307.99 in excess of the appraisement.

“The next problem was to select a suitable architect and whether to base this selection upon competition or direct choice. The latter course was adopted, and Messrs. Foster & Liebbe, of Des Moines, were chosen.

“It is sufficient to merely mention the well-remembered contest in Marengo over the choice of a site, exceeding as it did in bitterness the larger contest whether we should have a courthouse or not. The board deemed it to be to the interests of the county to locate the building in the public square at Marengo, and, while advised by their attorney that they had no power to use it, had the opinion of other attorneys that they might properly do so, and although threatened by injunction proceedings, insisted upon this location. The suit brought to restrain such use was decided against the board, who acquiesced in the decision, and after a great deal of controversy among advocates of different sites, finally selected the place where the building now stands. In due time the work went forward without further litigation. The grand total of the expense of the enterprise was $57, 608.16.”


Not only were there objections to the name of Marengo during the first score or so of years of the county´s existence, but the location of the town, and the fact that it was made the county seat, caused a great deal of disturbance and engendered much bitter feeling which has survived to the present day. It was urged that the county seat should be in the geographical center of the county; and from this point of view it should be. In the early days the Iowa River and Bear Creek persistently overflowed and covered the ground in Marengo with water. Various new locations for the county seat were suggested, and every time there arose considerable excitement over the question.

In March, 1857, the enemies of Marengo started a movement to have the county seat moved to Genoa bluffs, in the western part of the county. George W. Watson presented a petition signed by 517 people asking that the question


be submitted to the voters at the general election of April, 1857. However, the county judge issued an order, dated March 13th, the contents of which are as follows: “This day the affidavits of J. L. Gardner, John M. Sullenbarger and Matthew M. Blair were filed, showing that D. L. Sullenbarger, A. Rugles and F. G. Barnett, who signed the petition for the removal of the county seat to Genoa Bluffs, were not at the time of signing legal voters of Iowa County. Also, at the same time Christopher Smith, T.S. Pensall, Thomas Boyle, Elisha Ricord and A. D. Riley, whose names appeared on said petition, and filed their affidavit that they never signed nor authorized any person to sign the same. Also, at the same time, came H. Chapman, Henry Gibson, William Broaker, David Maul, William H. Maul and William Graham, whose names appear on said petition, and filed their affidavit that they signed said petition, but were, at the time of signing it, not legal voters of Iowa County. Now, therefore, after deducting the illegal voters from said petition, the said petition does not contain the requisite number of signers to order an election.”

In 1864 there was a petition presented to the board of supervisors asking that the vote of the people might be ordered on the question of removing the county seat from Marengo to Williamsburg. There being the requisite number of names on the petition, the supervisors submitted the question at the election in November, 1864. Marengo won out by a vote of 968 to 500.

In the late ´80s the question of changing the county seat from Marengo to Williamsburg again became a live issue. Much rivalry was displayed between the two cities and much enmity. The various advantages of the two towns were advertised, and a petition by a certain number of voters for an election to decide the debate was presented and ordered. This election was held in November, 1887, and there was 3,780 votes cast. Of this number Marengo received 2,219 votes and Williamsburg received 1,561, giving the former a sweeping majority. There has been no organized attempt since this time to have the county seat changed, and, since the building of the beautiful courthouse in Marengo in 1892-93, the renewal of the strife is very unlikely.


“North English was called Nevada when first laid out, but nicknamed Soaptown, which still follows it. It was so named on account of M. B. Vincent, who was a soap boiler, and a very conspicuous character in laying out the town. Mr. Vincent has some very good qualities, one of which is that he is a good republican; but the most of his good qualities are so covered up by repulsive manners that the community fail to see them, hence the name Soaptown. We could not run the town at all by the name of Nevada, because Nevada is the name of the county seat of Story County, and our business got so badly scattered, part here and part in Story County. On this account a grand council was held by the chief rulers and high estates of Nevada and among the other resolutions passed was one to change the name of the village, so that we could keep our business in Iowa County. Those of us who were better versed in law examined the statutes and found that the name of the town could be changed by petitioning the board of supervisors of Iowa County. Consequently, a fervent prayer went up to the board of supervisors, at the next term, with many signers; but on account of lawful






notice not having been given, it failed at the first meeting. Many became discouraged, but there are always some, who will persevere, and so it was in this case, and at the next meeting of the board the name was changed to North English.”


May, 1868: “Our new schoolhouse which, having existed for years in gloomy and doubtful prospect is now a matter of certainty, and almost of reality. Our board of directors is efficient, being composed, as it is, of men who feel a deep interest in the general cause of education, and home schools particularly. These men, in the strength and dignity of their manhood, have ventured the erection of a school edifice that will be both creditable to themselves and useful to the youth of Millersburg and vicinity. The building is to be 28 by 42 feet, two stories, each twelve feet high, with belfry, and is to be divided into three departments, two below and one above. The contract is let to our townsman, S. G. Sweet, at $4,500. The building is to be ready for use by the first of October next.

“Stores and shops of different kinds in the town number twenty. Business is all astir and each department is prosperous. We think that there is not another town in the county, save Marengo, that has a better trade this this.

“New farms are now making about the town in every direction. Hundreds of acres will be broken and fenced this year. Emigrants are pouring in and this part of the county, from present indications, will soon become thickly settled. The prospect is now that our crops will be good and abundant.”


“In compliance with general order No. 11 of the Grand Army of the Republic, Post No. 92, met in Millersburg on the 30th ult. and repaired to Sankey´s Ford on Middle English, where they procured sod, with which they returned to the Millersburg graveyard and neatly sodded the graves of their deceased comrades. Returning to town, a procession was formed which marched to Jones´ Grove where short but appropriate speeches were made by soldiers. Mr. John Akers delivered an oration, which was very pertinent, touching and telling. Mr. Gow, of our town, delivered an able and interesting address. Also, J. G. Berstler, who was a brave officer during the war, made a short speech, which evinced strong sympathy for his country. The ladies did well their part: they strewed flowers and wreathes upon the graves of the departed heroes.”


June 16, 1868: “Our town is improving rapidly this season. A number of fine buildings have already been erected and some more are under way. We think that there is no town in Iowa County that can complete with Millersburg for horse racing, unlawful crowds, fighting, quarreling, drinking and gambling. The three last Saturday afternoons there have been one or two horse races--$10 a race. Sabbath, June 7th, there was one race through town. On Saturday, June 13th, there was considerable quarreling, ending or resulting in giving Thomas Boltz and M. Ingraham each a pair of black eyes, after which they paid a fine of


$2 each. Peace was ordered by Justice Disbroe of Pilot Township. Our justices in all cases have adopted the $2 fine system, thereby giving license for $2, making it useless to arrest or cause them to be arrested. On Saturday, June 6th, there were two drunken men in town; one of them fell off his horse and his friends were compelled to carry him to his home. Alcohol and beer are plentiful and dealt out freely in Millersburg.”

This article was signed “Jasper,” and the contents of it created a healthy stir in Millersburg. The next week´s issue of the Republican brought out a reply signed by E. S. Athearn, excerpts of which follow:

“I will now call attention to ´Jasper.´ As a local correspondent this gentleman (?) is waging bellum horida et bellum lothale—a horrid and deadly war against Millersburg and has created quite a sensation among our citizens. Jasper, under cover of a fictitious signature, bravely blows his vilifying blast, poisoning the very atmosphere, and rendering it loathsome for good people to breathe. In his first article Jasper says that we have not enough enterprise to improve our public square. He had forgotten that our citizens had just emerged from a most destructive war and that they have been heavily taxed for the last seven years. And Jasper says we have no church buildings. The fact is we have two good meeting houses and a prospect of a third one this summer. In regard to the fighting, racing, drinking and gambling, his remarks are an outrage upon the town. Very few drunken men are on the streets and it requires the boldest kind of lying and the shrewdest kind of smuggling in order to obtain a drop of alcohol, whiskey, brandy or wine. Our druggists are very strict. The fight Jasper mentions has been the only one in the past year. Who Knows? Perhaps Jasper has had more than that with his wife at home.”

This answer brought forth another article from “Jasper” and so the debate continued, much to the delight of the readers. “Jasper” finally withdrew from the contest.

This is but an example of old-time journalism. This kind of controversy was considered “good stuff” after the war and in the years a half century ago. All that was necessary was for some verbose writer to send a letter for publication, “vilifying” a town or belief among the people, and then the fray started, often becoming extremely bitter.


Doctor Hendershott was appointed postmaster in Marengo in place of R. A. Readman in October, 1856.

First masonic Lodge in Marengo was instituted. G. A. Wooley was worshipful master; J.H. Gray, senior warden; J. Crenshaw, junior warden.

The mails were only received twice a week from the East and once a month from the West, all carried by stage coach line.

The first advertiser from Koszta was the San Huston dry goods and general stores. This was in September, 1856.

The first advertisers in Marengo were: W. C. Cary, harness and saddlery; Readman and Loverage, general store; E. Downard, dry goods and general merchandise; Doctor Grant, physician; W. D. Crenshaw, stove and furniture; Dildine and Martin, attorneys; B. F. Crenshaw, dry goods, hardware, merchandise, boots and shoes. This was in 1856.


The first dry goods store in Marengo was the old trading post moved up from the colony or Indian Farm.

The first dry goods store advertised in Iowa County was the one kept by L. Q. Reno on the west side of the part, also the ones kept by B. F. Crenshaw on the northwest corner of the park and Joseph Crenshaw on the east side of the park. The first shoe store was kept by W. D. Crenshaw, opened in the year 1854.

The water sawmill was operated by John C. Gartner in 1854.

The first steam sawmill was constructed by John Miller and Amos Potter in 1855.

The first ferry at Marengo over the Iowa River was owned and operated by Robert McKee at the foot of Bridge Street.

A list of the early attorneys at Marengo as gathered from the early files includes the following: Richard B. Groff, J.C. McConnell, D. D. Dildine, H.M. Martin, C. Hedges, William McCullough, Abe Huff, C. J. L. Foster, of Montezuma, A. F. Cross, of Millersburg. W. H. Dillon was the first prosecuting attorney of Iowa County and died while holding office at Marengo on April 5, 1857.

Some of the early doctors were: James W. Grant and E. C Hendershott, regulars; H.C. Chase, homeopathic; J. P. Bartlett, D. Alverson, Brecker, McFall, regulars and M.H. Worth, eclectic.

Some of the early land agents were: J.C. McConnell, John Miller, E. L. Ogle, J.C. Burne, William Downard, John Mc T. Gibson, E. C. Hendershott.

On November 20, 1856, N. J. Cornish bought out the Exchange Hotel.

The survey of the M. & M. Railroad was at Marengo on January 1, 1857, and was celebrated by an oyster supper and banquet also speeches by McKee, Gartner and Hull.

Early business firms were as follows: William and E. Downard, H. D. and N. Rosenberger; J. R. Flaugher, dry goods; Dr. Iverson, groceries and provisions; J. M. Korts, groceries; M. Byers, general store; S. K. Dey, bridge builder; J. E. Graham, dry goods and groceries; W. C. C. Ray, harness and saddles; A. R. Cutright, boots and shoes; P.C. Neull, dry goods; G. F. Eyeric, boots; at Genoa Bluffs were: the Rosenbergers, furniture and undertaking; W. B. Daniels, retail and wholesale; J. Crenshaw and Ream Ratcliff, drugs; further at Marengo were: George Horton, first wagon maker; John Stocker and Daniel Cripe, first plasterers; Doctors Black and Miles, dentists; Flowers and Loverage started the Great Western Store in Marengo in the fall of 1857.

The first mechanics were as follows: carpenters, Hamilton brothers, George Clippinger, Charles Baumer, Dan Clippinger, Jesse Burkey, Gus Baumer; blacksmiths, Richard Lanning, James Liddle, William Liddle; wagon makers, George Horton, Brown C. Plants, Phillip Vought, J. Smokey; shoemakers, G. H. Eyerick, A.R. Cutright, Henry Shafer bought out Cutright, Richard Bartlett, Mr. Colton.

The first annual fair of Iowa County Agricultural Society was held at Marengo in October, 1857, and was a great success. At this time the state fair of Iowa was held at Muscatine.

Early accidents were as follows: George Stoner was bitten by a mad dog in 1856, but with a treatment of cauterization and a generous draught of whiskey managed to recover; James Gentle was bitten by a prairie rattlesnake but also recovered via the whiskey route. In October 1857, John Bear, living eight or


nine miles west of Marengo on the Des Moines road, fell from a haystack and broke his back. He was a well-liked man.

A steam sawmill was built by John Miller and Annis Patter in 1856. B. F. Crenshaw bought out Miller and he and Patter added the gristmill. A Mr. Skellington owned a steam sawmill in Millersburg in this year. There were also in this latter town at this time five dry goods and grocery stores, one hardware, and a drug store kept by A. J. Morrison.

The steam sawmill and gristmill at Koszta was at this time owned by William Hench and was reported to have been doing a fine business. A steam gristmill was constructed at Genoa Bluffs by Rosenberg and John Stoner.

The first surveyors of Iowa County were James A. Pain, C. H. Holbrook, F. M. Connolley, all of Marengo.

On September 10, 1857, Judge Wallace, county judge, issued a proclamation for an election on the second Tuesday in October of the same year on the question of taking $100,000 in stock in the M & M Railroad. This was rejected by a majority of votes cast at the election. Another election was called for May 15, 1858.

The first paper issued in Iowa County was the Iowa Weekly Visitor by Clinton Edwards at Marengo on September 6, 1856.

The first delinquent tax list was published in the Republican on April 30, 1857.

The first tannery in Iowa County and Marengo was started by B. F. Crenshaw at his steam saw and flour mill.

On August 25, 1857, bids were advertised for building the first schoolhouse in Marengo by Robert McKee.

The first Presbyterian minister of Marengo and Millersburg was Reverend Fairley. He preached alternate Sundays in the two places. Next came Reverends Lemon, Rodgers and Cain.

The first marriage notice published was of the wedding of John Bole and Julia Lanning at Koszta; Charles Balmer and Susan Talbott, of Marengo came second in the files. The first death noted was that of a child belonging to E. C. and Mary Hendershott, also the death of William Danskin, early settler, noted.

The first discussion of female suffrage in Marengo occurred in October, 1854.


The advertisements at the first of this year included the names of: W. L. Huston, attorney; Charles Barber, proprietor of Anglo-American House; W. D. Eddy, homeopathic physician; Isaiah Morris, real estate; C. Hedges, Martin and Kagy, attorneys, also Miller and Smith, John H. Murphy and brother, F. B. Banks, John J. Penn, lawyers; Doctor Alverson; J. M. Ratcliff, proprietor of Roebuck Hotel; William Beck, merchant tailor; D. Wilson, proprietor of Union House at Millersburg; Templin and Feenan, attorneys; James H. Feenan, war claim agent; N. B. Vineyard, real estate; Isaac N. Hardin, “fashionable barber;” I. M. Lyon, boots and shoes; J. P. Cone, proprietor of Marengo Hotel; Dr. I. P. Wilson, dentist; Remus Ratcliff, cooper shop; Charles Eckhart, wagon maker and blacksmith; E. C. Goudot, proprietor of Western Brewery; C. D. Hostetter, jeweler; Dr. J. Nichols, dentist; J. A. Nowlin, groceries; L. Q. Reno, merchandise; Park and Green, harness; O. Dillin, flouring mill; G. W. Williams, cash


drug store; Jacob Franz, meats; Philip Vogt, wagon maker; Jacob Walter, blacksmith; Sheuerman Brothers, general merchandise; Libby and Martin, hardware; J. R. Seerin, general.

On March 4, 1867, a city election was held in Greenfield with the following officers chosen: Mayor, C. D. Hostetter; recorder, Isaac Goodwin; marshal, G. W. Williams; treasurer, N. B. Holbrook; assessor, F. M. Jeffers; trustees, Robert McKee, William G. springer, N. B. Vineyard, L. Q. Reno, J. R. Flaugher.

March, 1867—A. S. Blakeslee, agent of the Merchants Union Express Company, has established his office in the Variety Store, west side of the square.

September—various new buildings are now in the process of erection about the square. The foundation is finished for the two-story brick of Messrs. Wilson on the southwest corner. Mr. Reno has also commenced to put up a one-story brick adjoining his store on the east. The new bank building is nearly completed and will be ready for occupation in a few days. Mr. Sherman has commenced a large two-story frame on the west side of the square, to be used as a store.

Chief among certain classes of advertisements running during the year are of a few saloons and shooting galleries. One of the saloons was equipped with a soda fountain, evidently for the accommodation of the women while the men repaired to the rear for the cool lager.

In the political campaign of this year a great deal of trouble was stirred up over the question of the unfitness of the county jail. A number of prisoners had escaped during the year. Sheriff Aikers came in for a large amount of abuse from the newspapers on account of the faulty construction of the bastille.


A severe temperance wave swept through Washington Township, Iowa County, in February of this year. Speeches were made by prominent men on both sides of the question.

Clara Barton, the organizer of the Red Cross Society, spoke in March, 1868, at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Marengo, narrating incidents of the battles of Bull Run (2d), Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam and the assault at Fort Wagner.

In this year Edmund Hopkins, of Marengo, and Mr. Bailey, of Elgin, Ill., completed plans for a flouring mill on large scale, including the damming of the Iowa river and bringing the water within the corporate limits of the city by means of a canal about one mile in length.

The republicans of Marengo organized a Grant Club on April 7, 1868. C. D. Hostetter, Isaac Goodin, A. B. Eshleman, F. M. Connolley, T. J. Talbott, S. J. Murphy, C. V. Gardner and M. P. Smith were leading spirits in the organization and held the first offices.

An agitation for good shade trees in the residence and business district of Marengo was stirred up in the summer and many were planted. Most of the fine old trees now in the city were set out at this time.

A sheriff´s proclamation issued in this year advertised the public sale of a copper still kettle seized on the premises of John Lemley in Greene Township, Iowa County, where he was illegally making whiskey.



January 7—Williamsburg having incorporated, an election was held for city officers for the ensuing year. The following were chosen: mayor, W. R. Evans; recorder, E. Long; councilmen, D. T. Jones, B. Harris, W. G. Fletcher, P. C. Powers, J. E. Jones and J. Dobbs; assessor, O. A. Taylor.

January 28th—a new post office has been established in Greene Township, near St. Michael´s Catholic church. It is called Holbrook and Thomas Boyle, Esq., has been appointed postmaster.

February 18th—the mail service between Marengo and Lytle City is to be curtailed, to end at Williamsburg. Lytle City and Holbrook will be supplied from Callan on the Milwaukee Road.

March 2d—the city election resulted as follows at Marengo: J. N. Rumple, mayor; M. A. Simmons, recorder; O. W. Butts, treasurer; E. L. Ogle, assessor; J. S. McMillan, street commissioner.

June 17th—the census returns of Iowa County, as returned by the assessors, show the population of the county to be 18,110, a decrease compared with that of 1880. Three townships, Amana, Lincoln and Troy only, show an increase.

In this year there was six prosperous churches in Marengo; the Methodist Episcopal, first Presbyterian, St. Patrick’s, Episcopal, Christian, German. The water system had this year reached perfection for fire purposes, the improvements during the year costing about three thousand dollars. The fire department then comprised three companies of twenty-four men each: Phoenix Hose Company No. 1, Rescue Hose Company No. 2 and the Marengo Hook and Ladder Company. There were the following societies: the Masons, Odd Fellows, Sir Knight Lodges, Northwestern Legion of Honor, Iowa Legion of Honor, Ancient Order United Workmen, V. A. S., and Grand Army of the Republic. Company K, a unit of the Third Iowa volunteer Infantry, was stationed here under the command of Col. J. B. Wilson.


The city election at Marengo on the first of March 1886, resulted as follows: J. N. W. Rumple, mayor; M. A. Simmons, recorder; F. O. Goldthwaite, treasurer; C. A. Simmons, G. W. Swezey, trustees; J. S. McMillan, street commissioner; E. L. Ogle, assessor.