Sketches of Leading Marengo Businessmen

Marengo wanted the railroad to come to town. The Davenport Gazette published this article listing about 60 businesses, how long they had been in business, their owners, how large an area they served, etc. The majority of sketches have a short paragraph describing the type of goods the business dealt with.

Davenport Daily Gazette
Tuesday Morning, October 17, 1879

Transcribed by: Margaret Wenzel.
Publisher: Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Scott Co., Iowa
Date: 17 October 1879
Published: Iowa County IAGenWeb, 30 Jun 2009

The County Seat of Iowa County

Its Business Advantages and Business Men

Sketches of Leading Citizens

The Live Men Who Make a Live Town

Marengo, Oct. 11th, 1879

Marengo is an attractive place having in the center of the town a beautiful park which his encompassed on the four sides by elegantly built up squares to the east, west, north, and south and by which the designated places of business can be ascertained.  The county seat being located here, the city, of course, is well supplied with representatives of the legal fraternity.  The population of Marengo is variously estimated at 2,000 – 2,500.  All the leading church denominations are represented, and the school facilities are not surpassed by any town of its size in the State.  The officers of the city are Mayor A. J. Morrison, Recorder, R. H. Kirk, Marshall, R Ratcliffe, Assistant Marshal, W. M. Pope, Council, T. J. Talbot, O. Dillon, J. Hughes, Jr., N. B. Holbrook, W. P. Ketchum, R. H. Kirk.


There is a great deal of interest manifested here in the much talked of completed railroad which is to run from Cedar Rapids to Ottumwa, this State crossing somewhere in Iowa county on its route south between this city and the Amana Colonies.  The OM&StP now running into Cedar Rapids proposed of the sum of a quarter of a million dollars be raised by these towns living along the most feasible route to build such a road the citizens of Marengo feel that their town is located at a point where the road will touch (?).   To reach Marengo, the road will have to make but a small detour from the most direct line and thus will be fully compensated by the extra amount of business which it will receive from this point.  By passing through Marengo the road will touch Millersburg, a point that is in importance to as in the county and from thence to Sigourney from which point it will have the advantage of a graded track to Ottumwa.  This was graded and partially –ed some time ago if we are not mistaken.  The most definite information that we could get was that the OM&St.P made a proposition to the Cedar Rapids, Sigourney and Ottumwa R.R. (merely a construction company organized to build such line of road) that if the quarter of a million were raised they would build such road and properly equip with rolling stock, etc.,  Nothing definite concerning the route has been settled and it remains with the towns lying along the most feasible route whether it will touch certain points or be built at all.  If the business men of Marengo want this road, they will have to put forth their best efforts to get it.  The advantage of this route to this city is that it will give immediate connection with Milwaukee.  The citizens have held a meeting and keen interest has been felt.  To give the citizens of this State a fair idea of what Marengo is we will give a very complete resume of its business men and manufacturers.


These mills are owned by the Sheuerman Bros.  They manufacture flannels, yarns, blankets, etc.  They employ 25 hands and run the mill year round.  They claim to make the best of goods and sell them all over the Northwest, and have even parties in our own city of Davenport who deal with them.  Their celebrated Marengo flannels, yarns, blankets, etc., are very fine goods


Besley (?) Bros. & Rush capacity 600 bushels a day having a run of ------ and feed.  Principal brand of flour turned out is the New Process & supplies a large territory comprising 30 miles each way and do considerable business even as far north as Fairfax and running as far east as West Liberty.  The mill has been established here for 11 years, the present firm having built and owned it the entire time.  Mr. Besley & Bros., the senior partners, are formerly from Croton (?) Falls, N.Y.


J. H. Branch, banker, does a general banking business; the institution does business on the same principle as incorporated banks, makes loans on commercial and mortgages securities, makes collections a specialty and owns abstract titles to all lands in this county.  Besides banking, Mr. Branch represents the principal fire insurance companies, both home and foreign.  Has been established here since ---- and is the most thoroughly known insurance man in Iowa county.


Clifton House, J. Shaw proprietor is the only hotel in the city where commercial travelers stop, the Park House having closed.  Mr. Shaw is a very genial landlord and is well liked.

The Lafayette Hotel is owned by J. McCombs.  This is a good house and has a large trade.  It has been here for thirteen years.


Sheuerman Bros. are general dry goods merchants, handling besides, clothing, carpets, oil cloths, woolen mill goods of their own manufacture, hats, caps, etc.  This firm has been established in business here for the last twenty years and has a trade that leads as far south as 20 miles.  They claim to have the largest stock and best selection of goods in Iowa county.

Colonel B. F. Reno, is a dealer in groceries, queensware, glassware, tobacco, woodenware, etc.  Mr. Reno has been engaged in business here for the last ten years being the oldest groceryman in the city.  His trade extends to Ladora and even as far as Blairstown to the north, while to the south he reaches as far as 30 miles.  Mr. R. is also a buyer and shipper of farmers produce, handling a large share of this which comes to the city.  Mr. Reno informs us that the present trade offered for butter and eggs here rule higher than in Chicago.  This store handles a great deal of fruit, sometimes shipping from the east, when the supply is low here.

E. C. Alverson is a general druggist and pharmacist. He handles everything in the druggist line, besides dealing in paints, varnish, etc.  Stationery, cigars, tobacco, etc., go to make up a general assortment.  He has been established here for the last 17 years, and is the oldest druggist in Iowa county, to say nothing of the city of Marengo.  His business extends to all the county tributary to this town reaching to the south as far as 17 to 20 miles.

B. N. Loeb (?) deals in general groceries, crockery, woodenware, and farmers produce; has been established here for the past three years, although for thirteen years past he has been a resident, and has a territory extending 20 miles to the south in which he does business.  He buys principally from Chicago, although a fair portion of his goods come from Davenport and Rock Island.

H. E. Goldwaite, a dealer in ---- clothing, notions, caps, valises (?) and has been established here for the last ten (?) years, and trade extends south as far as 20 miles, handles the Springfield woolens and Germantown knitting yarns.  Clothing is the specialty of the establishment, buying directly from Chicago and eastern markets.  He carries a most complete stock and does a very large business.

W. M. Eddy is a general druggist and deals in drugs, paints, oils, etc.  His store room is considered on of the finest in Iowa county, having splendid light and --- ---- attached.  Mr. Eddy for the past 12 years has been a practicing physician and still follows his profession.  His practice extends to 12 or 14 miles, at times being called as far as Millersburg this year.  He both wholesales and retails, and says he has the largest stock of drugs in Iowa county.  He has a private telegraph wire leading to his residence from the store so that he can be summoned easily.  At the time we were visiting, Mr. Eddy was receiving a message from his wife.  This is enterprise (?) for Marengo.

A. Newbern is a dealer in jewelry, watches, clocks and various specialties (?), etc.  In watches he handles the Elgin, Waltham, Rockford and Springfield; in clocks, the Thomas, Waterbury, New Haven, and Ithaca Calendar Clocks.  Mr. Newbern has been established here for the last seven years and does a large business he says extends for between 15 and twenty miles.

W. A. Snavely is a dealer in hardware, cutlery, stoves, tinware, woodenware, agricultural implements, etc.  In stoves, he handles Reno (?) & Co, Broadway, A. Burt, Fuller, Warren & Co., Cutter ---, and Favorite.  In agricultural implements, he handles from the factories of Davenport, Rock Island and Moline.  He has been established here for the last twenty years and has a trade that extends from fifteen to twenty-five miles in the north.  Mr. Snavely is the oldest hardware and implement dealer in Iowa county.  His stock ranges from $17,000 to $20,000.

S. N. Brown is a dealer in harnesses, saddles and a light line of general hardware.  He repairs all harness in addition to his business as a general harness maker.  He has been established here eighteen months and has succeeded in building up a trade that extends to the north as far as eighteen or twenty miles.  This is a most enterprising young business man.

? N. Libby is a dealer in hardware, cutlery, stoves, tinware, farming, tools, wagons, woodenware, etc.  In implements he handles the Buckeye Reaper and Mower, Minnesota Chief Thresher, besides others; in fact, he has a full line of farm machinery.  In stoves, the Michigan Stove Co., Rathburn --ard & Co., and the Chicago & --- Stove Company.  He has been established in business here for twenty years and carries stock that varies from $10,000 to $1,000.  His trade extends to the south as far as twenty miles.  He makes a specialty of farming tools.

H. Deffinbough (?) is a dealer in dry goods, clothing, boots and shoes, hats, caps, --- trunks, valises, etc.  This house carries a complete stock, ranging from $10,000 to 17,000; has been established here for over ten years.  Mr. D. was agent of the D. S. (?) Express Co. here 20 years ago.  He makes a specialty of buying goods strictly for cash and selling on the same principle.  At the present, Mr. D. is in Chicago buying his fall and winter stock.  He makes a specialty of the --- woolen goods which are considered as fine as any made in this state.

? Hopkins is a dealer in stationery, general --- and school books.  He handles newspapers, periodicals, etc.  His stock of dry goods, wall paper and groceries is fully extensive.  Has been established here for the last ten years, but the business was carried on previous to his taking hold of it for seven years.

A.M. Lyon is a dealer in and manufacturer of boots and shoes and makes custom work a specialty.  Fine sewed work is one of the highest recommendations that Mr. Lyon has.  Mr. Lyon is of the opinion that he has made more fine sewed work boots and shoes than any man in Marengo.  Established since 1860 in business although, he has been working at his trade since 1861.  He does work that extends far to the south in this territory.

D. Q. Reno deals in hats, caps, clothing, furnishing goods, etc.  Has been established here since 1864 (?) and does a very good business.

? ? Rutledge is a dealer in jewelry, clocks, etc.  Does repairing of all kinds and gives the utmost satisfaction as he personally attends to that part of the business.  Mr. Rutledge has been here since September 1874 and has built up a good trace.  He deals in guns, ammunition, etc., besides.

? N. Nelson is a dealer and manufacturer of boots and shoes.  Mr. Nelson has been in business here for three years although he had worked at the business for eleven years previous to that time.  His trade extends as far as ten or eleven miles into the country.

Fred Brauch is he proprietor of a good billiard hall.  He has been established in business here for the last five years although a resident for eleven years.  His goods are shipped principally from Davenport, Rock Island and Iowa City.

Charles Lascher is a general grocer.  He handles everything found in a grocery besides a full line of crockery, tobacco, cigars, fruits, confectioneries, etc.  Mr. Lascher has been in business here only eight months.  His trace extends from five to twelve miles and he is very well known.  Mr. Lascher has been a resident of Marengo for 22 years having lived here about all his life.

T. J. Talbott is the proprietor of the Washington Street Livery Stable.  The institution is personally under the charge of Mr. Talbott, who has been running this business since August, 1870 although a resident of the county since 185?.  Mr. Talbott is at present the Republican nominee for Sheriff of Iowa county having been a public officer here for the last 24 years, part of which time he served as President of the Iowa County Agricultural Society.  Mr. Talbott is one of the most thoroughly known public men in the county.

A. L. Downard (successor to A. L. Doward & Co.) owns a very complete jewelry store.  This gentleman has been in business here for the last four years, although a resident for the last 23 years and at present is assistant postmaster.  He handles the Springfield, Elgin, and Rockford watches, the Waterbury, Seth Thomas and American clocks besides a fell complement of solid and plated jewelry, which is tastefully arranged in his show case.  Has a skillful workman, who does all his repairing and setting of diamonds, etc.

Wilson & Blair are dealers in staple and fancy groceries, crackers, queensware, cigars, tobacco, notions, etc.  This firm has been established here only a short time, but have succeeded in building up a good trade, they covering a territory that extends from 15 to 17 miles.  Wilson & Blair are the successors to A. P. H--- who previously --- for four years, during which time Mr. Wilson was connected with him.  They are enterprising young business men and deserving of good support.  They sell goods very close for cash.

C. M. (?) McFall is the owner of a very nice restaurant and light grocery store combines.  Has been established here for three years and does well.

McCombs & Hickman are dealers in groceries, queensware, crockery, tobacco, cigars, confectionaries, etc.   This firm has been established for two years.  Mr. McCombs of the firm having been in the hotel business here for eleven years, and Mr. Hickman too a long time resident.  The firm drains a territory from five to twenty miles.

D. Gode is a manufacturer and dealer in boots and shoes and makes a specialty of custom work.  In eastern goods he does not deal as his own make of goods gives more satisfaction.  Deals principally in fine hand made sewed and p-- boots and shoes.  Has been established here for the last four years and his trade extends fifteen to twenty miles in this section, and he frequently ships to Omaha and the east.

Mrs. L. Henderson is the owner of a very fine millinery and notion establishment.  She handles zepbyrs (?) cardboards, Germantown yarns, etc.  Mrs. Henderson is the agent for the celebrated Butterick & Co.’s patterns for this county.  This establishment has been doing business for ten years, although Mrs. Henderson has represented it but two years.  Her trade extends all the way from fifteen to twenty miles.

Mrs. A. J. Swenzey is a dealer in millinery, notions, zepbyrs, and boards, etc.  She has been established here for six years and runs, in connection with her business, dress making and domestic paper fashions.  Her trade employs six persons in the busy season of the year and she ships goods to Ladora, Victor, and surrounding smaller towns.  She supplies wholesale a great deal.

H. N. Rodman is a dealer in fancy groceries, toys, notions, confectionery, tobacco, cigars, etc. Mr. Redman has been in business here since 1865 and controls a trade that is principally local although he has considerable business in the country surrounding.  He buys principally from Chicago, Davenport, and Rock Island.

Z. Gilbert is the owner of a very nice photograph establishment.  He makes photographs in all colors such as India ink, water colors, and crayon.  Has been in business here since April last, and prides himself on having the best establishment in the county.  He takes pictures from gems to life size in a very accurate manner.  His trade extends all over this country.  Some of the samples of his work, which he showed us were very fine

Mrs. S. J. Thompson is a dealer in dry goods, boots and shoes, hosiery, and notions, etc.  She is at present changing her stock as fast as possible, intending to handle --- and boots and shoes exclusively ---.  Mrs. Thompson has been in business for the last eight years, having been engaged in commercial life all the time of her residence here.  Her trade extends from 12 to 20 miles into the country.

G. W. Green is a harness maker and has a good establishment.   Has been in business here for 7 years, and is well known.

Ruthven & Fretz, dealers and manufacturers in furniture, also undertakers.  They deal in bedroom sets, parlor furniture, fine bureaus with marble tops and everything to be found in a first-class furniture store.  Mr. F. has been engaged in the furniture business for the last 8 years, although the firm has been organized for three years.  They ship their goods from --- to 30 miles.  In undertaking, they are well supplied, having caskets to common cases.  They deal a great deal with the Davenport Furniture Company of our city.  They sell very --- and --- credit trade.

H. Herburt is a dealer in hats, caps, boots and shoes, and fancy goods, and general notions.  Mr. Herburt has just established here having come from Burlington, Ia from which he brought a very stylish lot (?) of goods.

He makes a priority of handling --- goods, and --- --- --- ---.
J. Hale is the proprietor of the livery

C. H. Groff, dealer in the fancy and general millinery and dry goods.  This establishment has been under his management for the last 10 years and offers a very large inventory.  In addition, Mr. Groff was associate editor of the Republican, a good paper, which well represents its name.

J. F. Eyrich is a dealer in boots and shoes; Has been in business here for the last twenty four years and his trade extends as far as 10 to 15 miles in the country.

J. B. Lyon is a dealer in confections, cigars, tobacco, etc.  He runs in connection a bakery, which is supplied with an oven large enough to accommodate his trade both in Marengo and in the country; also a restaurant where people can be accommodated at all times of the day.  This gentleman is a very enterprising business man and is one of the --- men of Marengo.  Mr. Lyon has been in business here for the last five years although a resident for the last twenty years and his trade extends from 10 to 12 miles.

J. L. Allen is the proprietor of a first-class barber shop situated on the south side of the square.  Mr. Allen has been here in business for the last eleven years.  His is  very well known.

M. G. Good & Co. are buyers and dealers in grain, coal, but sell butter and eggs.  These gentlemen buy all around this section extending into the country for --- miles and along the line of the CRI&P from Iowa City to Malcom.  They have been established here for 18 months, although Mr., Peterson of the firm has been residing here for the last eleven years.  The business here is represented by Mr. ---eter and Mr. Good of this same firm having headquarters in Chicago.  They are the largest buyers in this section shipping three car loads of eggs and butter alone every week.

M. Merritt is a dealer in hardware, cutlery, stoves, tinware, etc.  Mr. Merritt has been in business here for three years although a resident of the county for 18 years.  His trade, confined principally to the southern part of the county although he has an extensive trade here at home.  Mr. Merritt was formerly of Ohio, where he was the owner of a large farm.

J. W. Waltz is a dealer in dry goods and groceries, hats, caps, boots, shoes and farmers produce.  The firm has been established here, for 10 years although a resident for 16 years past.  His trade extends from five to twenty miles into the country and does a large local business.  Mr. Waltz was formerly from the State of New York.

?  Scott   a dealer in coal, lime, salt, cement, hides (?), etc.  Mr. Scott has been in business here for the last 18 months and has a trade that extends from 15 to 25 miles.  He makes a specialty of handling coal, getting it from Centerville, Delta, Newton, and Monroe.  Mr. Scott handles half of the coal that comes into this city.  In the winder, he handles a large amount of coal.

Ketcham & Bros., dealers in lumber and grain.  This firm has been established here since 1860 and are one of the oldest firms doing business along the line of the CRI & PRR.  They handle grain that is hauled in here for 15 to 25 miles; their shipments will amount to about 300,000 bushels of grain a year.  In lumber, they are the principal dealers also in the city.  The millings (?) of the firm on the 19th of August were completely gutted by fire; their loss amounting to $20,000.  They are now a full running firm and doing as large a business as every.

Henry Bell is the proprietor of the Star Mills Gilt Edge New Process flour.  Mr. Bell has been in this business about 11 (?) months although closely connected here for 13 years.  His mill has three run of stone and the sale of flour extends some 20 miles.  This is a very good flour.  They grind about 150 bushels of wheat per day.

Liddle & Robeson proprietors of the Depot Blacksmith Shop.  They have been in business here nearly one year and are very well known.  They have a trade that comes to them from a long distance.

A. Hand & Son deal in groceries, crockery and have a general stock.  This firm has been established here for thirteen months although Mr. Hand has been in this county for the last sixteen years.  Their business extends as far south as twenty miles.

O. J. Card (?) is a dealer in furniture and carries on the business of undertaking.  He handles goods from nearly all furniture factories from the toy chair to elegant chamber sets.  He has been established here for the last five years and his trade extends about twenty miles to the south.


N. B. Holbrook, real estate and loan and collection agent on the north side of Square next to Clifton House.  He has been engaged in his present business fifteen years.  His trade ---- ---- mainly in Iowa county although it --- reaches Benton and Poweshiek county to some extent. 

L. C. McBride, Justice of the Peace and collection agent, office south side of the square.   Has been justice of the peace for four years past.


Rumple & Isaac (?), Lawyer --- --- building practice in ----------.

Freeman Hirch, ---- lawyer office in Bank Block, practice in State and Federal courts.

Hedges & Alverson, lawyers office south side of square; practice in State and Federal courts.  Mr. Hedges of this firm is the Republican nominee for State Senator.  He will undoubtedly be elected.

Dr. H. G. Griffith, office north side of square practice confined to Iowa county.

Dr. D. C. Brockman, off ice north side of square practice confined to Iowa county principally.

Daily and Weekly Democrat, owned and edited by J. G. Senora (?); Mrs. D. H. Richards connected with the office is the editress of the Victor Index, which is published by the Democrat office and sent on to Victor, Iowa, in absence of a paper there.  The Daily Democrat is a lively little paper and deserves the support it gets from the citizens of Marengo.  It is the only daily published in a city of this size in the State.

The Republican owned by Sperring (?) & Crenshaw, a lively weekly paper edited by Crenshaw assisted by C. H. Groff.


            Mr. C. H. Groff, associate editor of the Marengo Republican, is to be highly commended for the masterly manner in which he has conducted the course of the Republican during the last campaign and the impending county election.  Mr. C. H. Groff will furnish THE GAZETTE hereafter with information both political and local coming from this city and locality.  Any information imparted to him will be thankfully received by THE GAZETTE.

Gustave Holm is the representative and business manager of The Democrat forthis city.

Marengo has a very ----- hand.

M. W. Weeks, formerly from Ohio, but for the last two years a resident of Marengo is connected with the Marengo Masons in the capacity of ruler (?).

H. R. Crenshaw is postmaster, A. L. Downard is assistant postmaster.
J. B. Wilson is recorder for Iowa county being now on his second term.  A. M. Henderson is deputy recorder.


E. H.