Volume I


Submitted by Lynn McCleary, November 10, 2013



Columbus City ... history continued.

pg 339

The building of the Mississippi & Missouri railroad, (now the Rock Island), from Davenport and Muscatine to Washington was at first of considerable advantage to Columbus City, even though the road did not hit the town. The nearest stations were first, Sand Bank (now Columbus Junction) and then Clifton, but for many years Columbus City was considered the town of that vicinity. Indeed, the railroad maps of that day show Columbus City as a station on the Mississippi & Missouri railroad.

Columbus City township at the time of the advent of the railroad and for some time after that was in many ways the leading township of the county. The census taken by the state in 1856 shows that Columbus City had more farmers, more laborers and more brick layers and more sawyers than any other township in the county, although Wapello township surpassed it in the number of blacksmiths, carpenters and mechanics in a few other trades. In consequence of its growing importance Columbus City people became ambitious that it should be the county seat and on Monday, September 1, 1858, presented to the county court a petition signed by a majority of the local voters of the county asking that the question of a relocation of the county seat at Columbus City be submitted to the local voters of the county to be voted upon at the coming October election.

pg 340

Joseph L. Derbin was at that time county judge and he ordered an election on the county seat question to be held in accordance with the petition and issued a proclamation to that effect on September 13, 1858. At the same time the friends of Columbus City filed with the county judge the following bond:

    "Know all men that we, James M. Robertson & Son, VV. W. Garner, Harrison & Barrett, James G. Hall, Wm. M. Clark, Samuel Reiner, John Gardner, Jacob Wren, Alfred Limbocker, Hamilton Johnson, Benj. Stoddard, F. H. Johnson, I. Myler, Wm. A. Duncan, C. Johnson, M. Shaum, Peter Merrill, Jacob Getts, Peter Fullwiler, J. S. Douglas, W. G. Allen, John M. McConnell, John F. Reiner, Wyley & Farris, John Cleves and H. S. Denham, are held and firmly bound unto the county of Louisa in the State of Iowa, in the penal sum of Twenty Thousand Dollars, to the payment of which we bind ourselves, our heirs and our administrators firmly by these presents. Dated this eleventh day of September, A. D., 1858.

    "Whereas, the undersigned have signed a petition addressed to the county court of said Louisa county, asking the question of a relocation of the county seat of Louisa county aforesaid to Columbus City, be submitted to the voters of said county at the October election next, for their approval or rejection, and whereas, the said county has been to great expense in building a new court house at Wapello—the present county seat of the said county, and the people of Columbus City are willing to assume the whole cost and burden of constructing a Court House equal in all respects to that now built at Wapello, should the county seat be relocated at Columbus City.

    "Now the condition of this bond is such that if a Court House, equal in dimensions, workmanship and finish, and possessing all the requisite offices and rooms for county offices, court hall, and jury rooms, shall be erected at Columbus City, (in the event of the people voting a re-location of the county seat at the election aforesaid, without cost, charge or burden to the county aforesaid,) and until said Court House is built, and ready for occupancy, will furnish the necessary county offices and court room free of all expense to the county aforesaid, and have a new Court House ready for occupancy or before the first day of April, A. D. 1861, and make a good and sufficient deed to said county of Louisa for the Court House square and the buildings thereon—then this bond to be void, otherwise in force.

    J. M. Robertson & Son, Sam. Reiner, H. S. Denham, James G. Hall, W. M. Clark, Alfred Limbocker, Peter Merrill, W. A. Duncan, Hamilton Johnson, Jacob Wren, John F. Reiner, Cornelius Johnson, Italion Myler, Pett fulwiler, Martin Shaum, Harrison & Barrett, Wylie & Farris, John Gardner, W. G. Allen, J. S. Douglass, John Cleves, Wesley W. Garner, Jacob Getts, J. N. McConnell, Benj. Stoddard, F. H. Johnston.

    "I do hereby certify that the above is a true copy of a bond on file in the county Judge's office for the purpose therein specified. In testimony whereof I have set my name and affixed the seal of the county court of Louisa county at Wapello, the 13th day of September, 1858.
                   (L. S.) Jos. L. Derbin,                        County Judge.

pg 341

The county seat campaign which followed was a red hot one in every respect and little was left undone by either the friends of Columbus City or Wapello to insure a favorable result. Objection was made on the part of those who were opposed to a removal of the county seat that the bond given on the removal to Columbus City was void and could not be enforced by the county in case it became desirable to do so and they had the opinions of Governor James W. Grimes, Judge David Rorer and Judge T. W. Newman to support their objections.

On the other hand, the friends of Columbus City had the favorable opinion of Judge J. C. Hall, of Burlington, and of D. C. Cloud, of Muscatine, and perhaps others. The vote resulted in favor of Wapello by 105 majority, and the following is the vote by townships:

  For Wapello For Columbus City
Columbus City 3 417
Concord 3 93
Eliot 32 0
Elm Grove 2 91
Grandview 200 39
Jefferson 73 36
Morning Sun 67 52
Marshall 131 36
Oakland 0 81
Port Louisa 123 1
Union 0 75
Wapello 417 25
  1,051 946

Another paper published at Columbus City was the Enterprise published by James M. Edwards. No. 1, Vol. 1 is dated February 26, 1859. Mr. Edwards stated that he intended to publish a republican paper but that the politics of the paper would be a secondary matter. In asking for the support of the community, Mr. Edwards says: "In conclusion we will say that we intend to publish the Enterprise one year—if we live that long—if we do not add another subscriber to our list; unless, indeed, we should make a fortune at the business in less time, in which case we will donate the office to the New York Museum and become a candidate for congress." However, we have only been able to find thirty numbers of this paper printed, the last number being dated October 8, 1859, it being stated in that issue that owing to ill health the publication would have to be suspended. This was an exceptionally good newspaper for that day and contained many able editorial articles and occasionally, considerable local news.

In Number 2 of this paper, published March 5th, is the following item concerning Columbus City: "For the benefit of strangers we give an inventory of Columbus City. We have two dry-goods stores, two large drug stores, two groceries, one hardware and stove store, five shoemakers, three blacksmiths, two wagon makers, two cabinet makers, three tailors, seven physicians, two lawyers, two hotels, one printing office, five church organizations, an excellent school and 800 inhabitants. (The official report at that time gave but 622 inhabitants). It ...

pg 342

... also contains more pretty women, saucy boys and handsome babies than any other town of its size in the state."

The Columbus City market as given for March 5, 1859, is as follows:

    "Wheat, old, 80c to $1.00; wheat, new, 50c to 75c; corn, 35c to 40c; oats, 45c to 50c; flour, $2.75 to $3.00; meal, 50c; potatoes, 50c to 75c; beans, 60c to 75c; butter, 12 1/2c to 15c; eggs, 8c to 10c; tallow, 10c to I2 1/2c; coffee, 16 2-3c to 18 3/4c; sugar, 10c to 12 ½ c; N. O. molasses, 60c to 75c; wood, per cord, $2.50 to $2.75; hay, per ton (Hungarian), $6.00; hay, per ton (Timothy), $5.00; hay, per ton (prairie), $3.00."

There was at this time keen rivalry between Columbus City and Wapello, and many flings were taken by the Enterprise at Columbus City and by the Wapello Intelligencer at Wapello. The Intelligencer sneered at the idea of Columbus City having 800 inhabitants and we think that it was justified in so doing by the figures of the census. We quote from the Enterprise of March 19th the following bit of sarcasm concerning Wapello. "Wapello is bound to become one of the most thriving and flourishing cities in the west. Her location on the Iowa river gives her an excellent water communication over New Orleans and all the other small towns on the Mississippi, and the great Air Line railroad will soon be completed, which will place her in direct communication with New York and the cities of Europe, Asia and Africa. A company is also being formed to build a railroad to New Orleans by way of Burlington and St. Louis. We have also been informed by a citizen of Wapello that the Rothchilds intend transferring their business to that place and that they design opening a hotel on the European plan in a new building erected two years ago."

Another squib along the same line is the following: "We neglected last week to thank the Wapello Intelligencer for the handsome notice it gave our paper. We do it now, and would return the compliment if we could do so without lying."

In the same paper is the following local item: "A young man living near this place, caught one day last week a beautiful fish, weighing something over one hundred pounds. The manner in which it was done is given in another column." After searching the paper in vain for a supposed fish story, we came to the conclusion that the following notice in the marriage column was the fish story in question: "Married on the 10th inst. by the Rev. Mr. Crellen, Mr. J. S. Limbocker to Miss Amanda Fish, both of this place."

The year 1859 was noted for its hard times. The Wapello Intelligencer at that time had some of its issues nearly taken up with sheriff sales and trustee sales and similar advertisements, but it would be news to many to learn that Governor Lowe of Iowa issued a proclamation on the subject. We found the proclamation published in the Enterprise of April 2d as follows:

    "Whereas the past winter has been one of special trial and destitution to many of our people, on account of which we should humble ourselves before him who directs us in ways and to ends unseen by human wisdom, according to His own pleasure; and whereas abstinence from food, accompanied with religious humiliation and the prayer of faith, in seasons of public distress, are recorded among the duties of all Christian communities, I therefore, would respectfully recommend Friday the 22d day of April next, to be observed by all the people of this State as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, that thereby we may propitiate a kindlier Providence and be 'fed once more with the heritage of Jacob.'

pg 343

    In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and affixed the great seal of the State of Iowa. Done at Desmoines, the 28th day of March, A. D. 1859, and of the Independence of the United States the 84th, and of this State the 13th.
                           Ralph P. Lowe
           By the Fovernor, (L. L.)
                   Elijah Sells,
                   Secretary of State.

In the Enterprise of April 9, 1859, we note that Rev. William Salter of Burlington was to preach at the Congregational church that evening, being Saturday, and on the next day, morning and evening, at the usual hours.

Another item gives an account of a meeting of the Temperance League on Thursday evening, after which Dr. Salter delivered a lecture.

We also find in the same paper an advertisement of the Congregational church, Rev. D. E. Jones, pastor.

The Enterprise of April 15, 1859, notes that J. W. Porter will commence his school on Monday next, that the new building of Harrison & Barratt was nearly completed, and that it was the largest business building in the county. The third story was then being fitted up for the use of the Masons.

The following from the Enterprise of April 23, 1859, explains itself:

    "We do not know of a county in this state that is worse off for post offices and mail facilities than Louisa county. In some parts of the county the citizens have to send ten or twelve miles for their mail matter. A post office should be established at Clifton, one at Fredonia, one at some convenient point in Elm Grove township and one near Long creek on the Wapello road. These are all necessary to the convenience of the people and we shall do all in our power to secure them. A daily mail route between this place and Burlington is much needed and we hope to have it ere long."

This paper contains the advertisement of Charles Cutkomp, boot and shoemaker; also William Darrow, physician and surgeon, with his office at Clark & Colton's store; William A. Colton, notary public and conveyancer; Wesley W. Garner, notary public and conveyancer. It also contains the advertisement of T. W. Boies, proprietor of a lumberyard at Clifton, also Douglas & Berry, general merchandise.

The Enterprise of April 30, 1859, gives the names of the Columbus City Pike's Peak expedition as follows: "William G. Allen, Jacob Getts, John Reiner, William Reiner, James Paschal, T. W. Brown, B. H. Eaton, L. Mitchell, wife and two children, Jonathan Pierson, David Knott, Peter Merrill, Joseph Neal, Samuel Luckey and Ed Suplee." The paper states that this company departed on Thursday last for Pike's Peak, with excellent teams and an abundance of provisions, for a six months' adventure and that a company of six or seven would leave Columbus City the first of the following week. It also states that one or two companies would go from Elm Grove about the 10th of June and that recently a company had left from Fredonia and also one from Grandview.

In the issue of this paper for May 26th is recorded the organization of a lodge of Good Templars, the officers being as follows: W. C. T., J. M. Edwards: W. V. T., G. W. Limbocker; W. R. S., W. S. Robertson; W. T., W. O. Kulp; ...

pg 344

... W. I. G., J. J. Wylie; W. O. G., James Manly; W. C., Dr. J. Cleaves; W. F. S., William B. Berry; W. M., Dr. William Darrow.

The Enterprise of June 9, 1859, records the return home of the Columbus City company of Pike Peakers. The Union Guards were called out, and accompanied by the band and a large number of citizens, met them about a mile and a half west of town on the Washington road and saluted them with a volley of rifles of the Union Guards. After this Andrew Gamble on behalf of the citizens of Columbus City welcomed them back to their homes in a "neat and appropriate style." This speech was responded to "in a capital manner" by Lieutenant J. L. Grubb on behalf of the gold seekers. After this a song was sung by those who had been to see the "elephant," the song being entitled "Pike's Peak Humbug." It consists of sixteen verses, the last of which was as follows:

"The Columbus City boys are good grit,
As sure as you are born;
But they've been sold, without any gold,
And now acknowledge the corn."

Two outfits of teams of those who started for Pike's Peak did not return but went on to the gold fields—all of them returning later with the exception of B. H. Eaton, who remained in Colorado and gained prominence and wealth—was at one time Governor of Colorado.

The same issue also chronicles the fact that Harrison & Barratt had moved into their new store room, where they had just opened the largest stock of goods ever brought to the county.

As an indication of the business being done at Clifton, the new railroad station north of Columbus City, we note an advertisement in this same issue of a new lumberyard owned by J. M. Campbell, managed by J. L. Collins, agent, with office in his grocery store.

The Enterprise of June 23d notes that William Darrow had opened a new grocery and provision store two doors south of Clark & Colton's drug store.

The Enterprise of July 7, 1859, gives an account of the 4th of July celebration held on Long creek. The Union Guards were present in full uniform, provided with thirty-three rounds of blank cartridges, and left Columbus City at half past six o'clock in the morning. The order of their assembling and march said that they would march to the German camp grounds on Long creek. It is said that many people went from Columbus City and that Marshall, Elm Grove. Morning Sun, Concord and Wapello townships were well represented and that the number in attendance was two to three thousand. An oration was delivered by Mr. Stoughton, and an address by B. F. Wright.

It is said that the first school in Columbus City was held in the winter of 1843-4 and was taught by Dr. John Cleaves in a brick building, owned at the time by Colonel Garner. The school was taught the following winter by Colonel Garner himself. In the fall of 1846 the voters of school District No. 3, which included Columbus City and considerable territory outside of the town, met at the store room of H. S. Denham to permanently organize the district and to pass upon the question of erecting a school building. At this meeting a tax was voted and the directors were authorized to contract for the erection of a brick …

Photo of Rev. David Knowles


... building, 20x30 feet. There were twenty-six votes cast, all but one of which were in the affirmative. In February, 1847, tne directors let the contract for the erection of a building on lot 3, block 5, for the sum of $300 and this building was completed ready for use by October of the same year, and that winter school was taught in this building by William J. R. Flack. The next year Allen W. Pease taught school during the winter term and was succeeded in turn during four winters by J. Highfield, Mr. Bigsby, I. N. Chandler, and Thomas L. Baird. Miss Sarah Twiggs taught school there in the summer of 1853, and James K. Atchison in the summer of 1854. In the summer of 1855 Miss Mary Wylie taught a term of school in the Christian church building and the next summer Miss Mary Wear of Mt. Pleasant taught school in the church building. In the winter of 1855-6 school was taught in the school building by Mr. Fulton. In the fall of 1856 the directors found that the school building was not suitable for the purpose and condemned it and rented the Christian church and also a part of H. S. Denham's store building. A new school building was erected by the school district in the fall of 1856 and the spring of 1857. A meeting had been held for this purpose in March, 1856, and a tax levied therefor. The contract was let to George D. Harrison, of Columbus City, and a man by the name of McCarter, of Springfield, Ohio, for the price of $2,985. The building was of brick, 30x50 feet and two stories high and erected directly north of the old building. This building was used until the summer of 1878, when an addition was built on the north side of it, 30x60 feet, two stories high, at a cost of $2,330.

The people of Columbus City have always been liberal in support of schools and have usually succeeded in having good schools.

Columbus City has always been noted as being well supplied with churches. One of the earliest church organizations perfected there was that of the Church of Christ, or Christian church, sometimes called Campbellites. It is said that the first meeting to organize this church was held at the house of Barstow Williams, about two miles from Columbus City, and that for a number of years the meetings were held at the houses of the various members. A house of worship was erected about 1852, said to have cost $500 and was used until 1868, when a $3,000 structure was erected. Among those who served as pastors in the church at Columbus City were: Arthur Miller, Smiley Bonham, Moses Warren, Joshua Swallow, Jonas Hartzel, Samuel Lowe, Joseph Lowe, Freeman Walden, J. K. Cornell, John Errett, Simpson Ely, J. H. Painter, L. B. Ames, J. Madison Williams, E. W. Miller and L. C. Wilson.

The Methodist Episcopal church of Columbus City dates its organization back to territorial days in 1840, and it is to be presumed that somewhere there is a record of the doings of this congregation and of the various ministers who served it and the dates of their service, but we have not happened to hit upon any one who could enlighten us on this matter. The Methodists erected a fine church building in 1866 and the church is still in a fairly flourishing condition.

Another Columbus City religious organization is that of the United Brethren in Christ, which was organized early in the '40s. The first annual conference of this church held west of the Mississippi river was held at the house of H. S. Denham in Columbus City, in May, 1844. This is the same building that was afterwards occupied by Italian Myler as a residence.

pg 346

One of the strong organizations of Columbus City and vicinity is the United Presbyterian church, which was organized in the fall of 1844, the Rev. William Smith being the pastor. The first regular pastor was said to be Rev. George V incent, who afterward became quite prominent in church work. Rev. Alexander Storey acted as pastor of this church for more than twenty years and the church was called, by many outsiders,,"Storey's church."

The Baptist church of Columbus City was organized in November, 1850. In 1862 a brick building was erected. In 1871 the congregation divided, some of its membership organizing a separate congregation at Louisa Center.

The Congregational church of Columbus City was organized October 25, 1846. The first pastor was Rev. Aaron L. Leonard, born in Pennsylvania, in 1812. He served at Columbus City from 1847 unt'I 1849, and later was pastor at Danville for six or seven years. He died in New York state in the year 1900.

Rev. David Knowles was pastor at Columbus City from 1849 to ^52. The next pastor there of whom we have any record, was E. O. Bennett, who served from 1856 to 1858. From 1858 to 1860 the pastor was Darius E. Jones. Mr. Jones was a versatile man and became much noted in the church world and in musical circles. He was at one time a manufacturer of carriages and hardware. He was also chorister in several noted churches. Among them being Plymouth church in Brooklyn. For a time he was assistant secretary of the American Home Missionary Society. He was also for a while editor of the Congregational Herald and of the Western Weekly at Davenport. He was the Iowa agent of the Bible Society, and colonization agent of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Company. He was also pastor at a number of other places besides Columbus City, among them being Newton and Wilton. He is probably best remembered as the author of "Temple Melodies" and "Songs of New Life" and as the composer of "Stockwell" and "Martina." For many years during his active connection with the church and its work he was by common consent looked upon as the leader of song service at its association meetings, and it is said that "the presence of Darius E. Jones was always and everywhere the signal for a sing." He died at Davenport, August 10, 1881.

Next after Mr. Jones came Robert Hunter, who served as pastor from 1860 to 1867. We have but little account of Mr. Hunter other than that he was pastor at Clay and Nevinville in Iowa and that his entire service in the state covered the years from 1855 to 1872, at which latter date he died at Nevinville. Frederick Crang was the next pastor. He was an Englishman, educated in the Church of England, had been a surgeon in the British navy and had practiced medicine in New York and Illinois. His service at Columbus City extended over the years from 1867 to *86o. The next and last pastor of this church was Rev. J. E. Elliott, who served in 1869 and 1870.

The Associate Presbyterian church built a house of worship in Columbus City in 1851 and afterwards erected another building in 1886.

For many years the Masons had a lodge in Columbus City, which was organized there on February 24, 1857, as Columbus City Lodge, No. 107. Subsequently this lodge was removed to Columbus Junction and its history will be given in connection with that place.

The Odd Fellows still maintain a lodge in Columbus City, it having been instituted there on August 23, 1872, under the charter name of Columbus City ...

pg 347

... Lodge, No. 246, I. O. O. F. Its charter members were David McMichael, L. G. Baldwin, G. W. Breneman, John Jacobs, T. R. Jones, David H. Griffith, Joseph M. Dotson, Edward McSweeney and W. F. Hall. Its first officers were: David McMichael, N. G.; G. W. Breneman, V. G.; W. F. Hall, Sec.; L. G. Baldwin, Treas. The total membership of this lodge up to the present time has been fiftythree. The names of the deceased members are: James W. Carr, David A. Robbins, Dr. I. M. Smith, Sherman Shaum, Henry Ady, George W. Speath, Otto Schabilion and George Schmidt.

The corporation of Columbus City joins Columbus Junction at the Gamble corner, and the two are connected by a good cement sidewalk.

In later years Columbus City had two other newspapers; one was the Nonpareil, published by Allan D. Hickok, and the other was the Safeguard, started at Columbus City by Robert H. Moore, but later removed by him to Columbus Junction.

The population of Columbus City has been as follows: 1854—149; 1859— 622; 1870—850; 1880—605; 1885—519; 1890—459; 1895—485; 1900—388; 1905—423.

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