The Wapello Republican
June 18, 1981, Section B, Page 78

Transcribed by Shirley Plumb, June 22, 2018

One Of The Earliest Settlements In County Was Once Site Of Ferry

     Iowa Town, one of the earliest trading points in Louisa County, was established in 1837 near what was the mouth of the Iowa Slough.

     Vestiges of the Iowa Slough still remain, especially in its southernmost reaches near where it meets the Mississippi River. However, much of the water from the slough has been drained, and only with the aid of serial photographs can one really trace its path.

     The Iowa Slough was probably once the bed of the Iowa River. Some natural phenomenon changed the river’s course, making the old riverbed a slow-moving, slow draining body of water that was for the most part silted in or drained by farmers.

     Iowa Town was located just west of the mouth of the Iowa Slough, on the banks of the Iowa River. Old maps and serial photos point to an area just west of the present bridge over the Iowa River near Oakville as the likely site of the once-bustling community.

     The community was probably located on the south side of the river.

     In April of 1837 a Rufus P. Burlingame procured a ferry license to run a ferry across the Iowa River at Iowa Town, and in July of that year a tavern license was granted to a William Dupont.

     Records of an election held in March of 1838 revealed that Iowa Town was the voting place for all of the present township of Eliot, the lower part of Wapello township, and probably a part of Jefferson.

     The community was never platted, and sank into oblivion not many years after its founding.

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Louisa County Towns

     In 1837 five licenses to operate ferries across the Iowa River were granted to companies in Wapello, Harrison, Florence, Iowa Town and Sterling. The ferries were to run dawn to dusk.

     Ferry landings were licensed at:

     Cuba City, which is mentioned at the mouth of the Iowa River;

     Tecumseh upriver from the Mississippi and Black Hawk (these names were also used for early Toolesboro);

     Sterling, on the west bank of the Iowa River, settled by Franklin Baas, known as Frank’s addition to Toolesboro in 1856;

     Yellow Banks, which is believed to be the bridge site near Oakville, described as the north side of the Iowa River between Iowa Town and Tecumseh;

     Iowa Town in Eliot Twp., an early trading post;

     Florence, which was, according to history, one of Chief Keokuk’s villages;

     Wapello, which was divided into Lower, Central and Upper Wapello, each wishing to be their own area;

     The port of Harrison – now Port Louisa Township;

     Little known Pittsburg, which was possibly the landing site near the Iowa Cedar fork.

     Toddtown was a booming transportation center on the north side of the Iowa-Cedar rivers fork with a ferry landing, although the name is not listed as such in district court licensing of ferries.

     The final landing before river traffic left the county was at McKean’s Landing in Catteese territory. Catteese became Oakland township in 1839 when the land was joined to Louisa County. The ferry landing is described as being near where the Hoben bridge now stands.

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