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Records :: History: Early Settlements and Settlers, 1881
Home / Records / History / Early Settlements and Settlers, 1881

Source: The History of Iowa County
Published: Des Moines: Union Historical Company, Birdsall, Williams & Co., 1881.


In 1837, a farm was established to provide work for the Indians. It was situated along the Iowa River in what is now Washington Township. The first manager was named Patterson. After the indians left in 1843, the trading post on the property became a center for business transactions by early settlers. It was leased to William Downard who operated a general store there and to Charles Kitchens, who worked the farm. In October 1845, Robert M. Hutchinson purchsed the land and the buildings.

The first white settlements were along rivers, which furnished water. The trees that grew beside them were a source of shade and lumber. Edward Ricord established himself in 1837 just east of the boundary on a strip of land that was open for settlement at that time. He built a dwelling just south of Old Man's Creek in 1840 or 1842 near the eastern boundary of the county. As the settlement grew, Ricord's cabin was where the early settlers first assembled to transact business, hold political caucuses and vote.

He was afterward joined by his two brothers, Jacob and Elisha. Elisha has gone west and is now engaged in railroad building in Colorado; Jacob is at present engaged in the boot and shoe business in Iowa City.

Among the other settlers who settled on Old Man's Creek at the earliest times was a family by the name of Convers. Erastus Convers voted at the first election at Old Man's Creek in August 1845 and it appears that William and Elizabeth Convers entered some land in that locality a short time afterward. No other land was bought in the present bounds of Greene Township prior to the year 1849.

The area extending to the north and west from Ricord's settlement became largely settled by the emigrants from the Emerald Isle and was known by the name of the Irish settlement.

Further to the north and west in an extension of the same timber was the Scots Settlement.

Records indicate that Reuben Miller explored the territory around what is now Millersburg in the year 1838.

Prior to 1844, Lineas Niles, John Burgett and a man named Cleveland built cabins near what is now Homestead.

Very soon after, a settlement was begun near what is now the town of Marengo. Among the earliest settlers there were Robert McKee, Amos Crocker, Absalom, Washington, and Charles Kitchens, William Downard and Ransom F. Mason.

Near the east line of the county, immediately south of the Iowa River, in the vicinity of what is now Homestead was the Brush Run settlement.

 In the northwest corner of the county in the vicinity of where is now the town of Koszta was the settlement first known as Hoosier Grove. It later went by the name of the Hench Settlement.

All the way from Hoosier Grove to the east line of the county, along the Iowa River, claims were taken at an early day and improvements were begun.

In the south part of the county, near where Millersburg is now located, was the English settlement, so named from the English River that flows through that region of county.


Immediately north of Old Man's Creek, in what is now York Township, in the same settlement, Henry Starry, Michael Duffey and Clark Jones bought land prior to 1849. Their names appear as voters at the first election in 1845.

Edward Spratt and John Convey were also settlers here prior to August 1845. Convey was an industrious and thrifty man and continued to reside in the vicinity of his first claim until the time of his death in 1873. James McKray, another early settler, later moved to Johnson County. Michael Roup and Reuben Smith were also among the first settlers. These names include all who came into that part of the county and settled prior to August 1845. Subsequently to 1845 the following persons settled:

Surname First Name
Butler  Edmond 
Butler  William 
Convers  Erastus 
Convers  William and Elizabeth 
Convey  John 
Duffey  Michael 
Evans  Evan 
Furlong  John 
Hanson  Stephen 
Hanson  Thomas 
Jones  Clark 
McKray  James 
Ricord  Edward R. 
Ricord  Elisha 
Ricord  Jacob 
Roup  Michael 
Smith  Reuben 
Spratt  Edward 
Starry  Henry 
Wykoff  John 
Yocum  Joseph 

Thomas Hanson who located in this settlement in early times, was of Irish descent. Duffey, McKray, Spratt, and Convey were also Irishmen and from the fact that so many of that nationality settled there, the locality was known as the Irish Settlement.

The first persons to settle along the Iowa River were the following:

Surname First Name
Adams  John 
Betts  William 
Burgett  John 
Casey  Mr. (stepfather of the Troups) 
Chase  Stephen 
Clark  Isaac 
Cleveland  M.T. 
Cleveland  M.T. 
Crawford  William 
Crocker  Amos 
Dowd  N.W. 
Downard  William (born new London, England) 
Foster  William 
Greeley  Robert 
Groff  R.B. 
Hench  William 
Hull  Orley 
Hull  Porter 
Hutchinson  Benjamin 
Hutchinson  R.M. 
Irvin  John 
Kitchens  A.P. 
Kitchens  Charles 
Kitchens  G.W. 
Kitchens  T.W.
Lanning  Lewis F. 
Lenderman  John 
Mason  R.F. 
McCorkle  William 
McKee  Robert 
Meacham  Anderson 
Niles  Lineas 
Price  Abraham 
Sprague  Howard 
Stein  Andrew 
Taylor  William 
Trotter  Edward 
Troup  David 
Troup  George 
Wilson  Lewis F. 


It was away back in the days between 1843 and 1854 that the first of the wandering Celts formed that Irish settlement known as Old Man's Creek. Michael Duffy came in 1843; Charles Gillin came in 1844, John Furlong came in the early 40's and Thomas, John, Stephen, and Edward Hanson were in Troy Township at an early date. Thomas and Stephen came in 1845 and their brothers soon followed, giving the locality the name of Hanson Settlement. Thomas Boyle came to Greene Township in 1849. He was fresh from the Mexican War and his land warrant covered the old Boyle homestead near the present site of Holbrook. Edward Pratt moved into Greene Township almost as soon as the Indians moved out, in the early 40's.

 From 1850 to 1860, the Old Man's Creek Settlement was increased by many:

Surname First Name
Black  Andrew 
Boyle  Thomas 
Butler  Admund 
Butler  William 
Byrne  Patrick 
Cash  John 
Donohoe  James 
Duffy  Michael 
Furlong  John 
Gillin  Charles 
Gray  Matt 
Gray  Thomas 
Hannon  Thomas 
Hanson  Edward 
Hanson  John 
Hanson  Stephen 
Hanson  Thomas 
Maher  Martin 
McDonald  Hugh 
McShane  James 
O'Donnell  James 
Pratt  Edward 
Quinn  Hugh 
Quinn  John 
Quinn  Mrs. 
Smith  John 


 Outside what was known as Old Man's Settlement there were numbers of Irish pioneers in Iowa County. Fillmore Township had:

Surname First Name
Callan  Dennis 
Callan  Michael 
Carney  Anthony 
Carroll  Edward 
Dowes  John 
Giblin  Michael 
Jennings  John 
Masterson  Henry 
Naughton  John 
Newcomb  Martin 
Raher  Edward 
Rock  Andrew 
Rock  John 
Rock  Martin 
Rock  P.W. 
Shuell  Thomas 
Shuell  T.J. 
Tierman  James 
Tierman  Martin 

English Township invited many a son of Erin and in the list we find Edward Berry, a native of Cork, locating here in 1853. He had four sons, John, James, Stephen, and Edward. Louglin Murrin located in the township in 1855; Matt Rush, from County Mayo in 1856, John Kelly from Dublin in 1856, Michael O'Hara, from Galway in 1855; John Brammon from Galwway in 1857 and Michael Riley, from Cork, in 1860.

In Dayton Township we find Michael Cunningham in 1857, Martin Hughes in 1858, and Frank Gribbin in 1857. Luke Fitzgerald was also in Dayton at an early date.

Iowa township was also visited by the Irishman at an early period: Kinney Grove takes its name from its first settler who located here in the early 50's, but remained only for a year, returning to Connecticut. Patrick Dalton located in Kinney Grove in 1856, and his good name is remembered in his three sons, James, John and Alfred.

In Hilton Township we find James Conroy, almost direct from the banks of the Shannon, locating near the present town of Conroy in 1856. Peter White soon followed with his wife and son James A., now a state senator from this district. John Muherin, of Williamsburg, located in Hilton in 1857. He had eight sons and one daughter. Michael Dolphin was also in Hilton in 1857. Other early Celts in Hilton were Stephen glenn and William McSwiggin. Mr. Glenn resides in Marengo and is the father of J.J. Glenn, publisher of the Marengo Democrat and postmaster of Marengo.

Sumner Township in its real early days did not receive many of the Irish pioneers, but in 1853 we find John Aiken establishing his home. Between 1860 and 1870 we see the first real influx of Irish into Sumner Township. It was this period that bought Michael Sullivan, John McDonald, father of county supervisor McDonald, Michael Crane, Bernard Flanagan, William Harrigan, one of the California Forty-Niners, making two trips across the Isthmus of Panama and two around the Horn. During this period also we find John Martin, John Konich, Peter Shaughnessy, Patrick Dowd, John Stone, Michael Rohan, Joseph Murtha, Patrick Murtha, Francis McNally, Peter McGiverin, Patrick Kirby, father of Attorney J.F. Kirby, now of Williamsburg, and John Scandridge, father of William, James, Joseph, Robert and Thomas all of Iowa County. He also had six daughters.

During the period from 1860-1870 Troy township became richer by the moving in of William Welsh, Edward Boland, afterwards a representative in the Legislature. Charles Boland and John and S.R. Blythe.

Not many Irishmen were Pilot pioneers but Terrence Donohoe was among the early ones in that township. He died about 1878, his wife in about 1879. They left a splendid family of four sons and three daughters: Patrick, Timothy, John and Thomas, Bridget, Hannah and Mrs. W.H. Neal.


Among the early settlements of Iowa County was one in Hilton Township settled by men born in Scotland. In 1854 David Fleming, John Cownie, Sr., David Walker and William McLeod, all born in Scotland, entered 80 acres each in section 12 of what is now Hilton Township. At the time of making the entry at the general land office at Iowa City all were residents of Scott County, Iowa, having rented a farm near Davenport. prairie was broken in the summer of 1856 and in the fall of that year John Cownie, Sr., and David Walker, with their families, moved to Iowa County from Scott County. David Fleming  followed in the spring of 1856 and William McLeod in 1857.

David Fleming, being then unmarried, had sent to Scotland for his father and mother to come over and keep house for him. He shared his small cabine with Alexander Welsh and his wife, a sister of David Fleming, and their three young children.

Alexander Welsh, while employed in a large cut of grading west of Homestead, was caught by a fall of frozen ground and was made a lifelong cripple. The physician who was called pronounced the leg broken, while in fact the hip was dislocated. William Welsh, a son of Alexander Welsh, took over the care of the farm which his mother purchased.

The only addition to the Scots settlement on the land adjoining was made by Angus McLennan, Roderick McLennan and Donald McLennan, all natives of Scotland, and of course they became identified with the church, materially strengthening the little organization by their aid and support.

The first of the men to be called by the angel of death from the Scotch settlement was William McLeod who died at his home on the farm.

David Fleming and John Cownie, Sr., both sold their farms and returned to their native Scotland, there to die and be buried. Alexander Welsh died at his farm home and David Walker, having rented his farm, moved to Marengo, where death claimed him at a ripe old age. Donald McLennan has also died and Angus and Roderick McLennan went to live in Marengo where they died.

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