Muscatine County Iowa

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album, Muscatine County, Iowa, 1889, page 660

Wilton Township.

WILTON TOWNSHIP comprises the greater part of township 78, range 1 west, and is bounded on the east by Fulton, on the west by Moscow, on the south by Sweetland and Moscow, and on the north by Scott County. This township is exclusively prairie, and is one of the best in Muscatine County. The history of the township is contemporaneous with that of the village of Wilton, which is situated on section 6, township 78, range 1 west, and township 78, range 2 west, on the main line of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad.

Christian Marolf, in July, 1849, erected a small log cabin within the present limits of Wilton. He was soon followed by Ben Maurer and Peter Marolf, who also obtained land near by. Two entries of land were made by Henry Strohm and Benjamin Kauffman on the 19th of May, 1849, which comprised the lands now within the corporate limits of Wilton, excepting Marolf's addition. Mr. Strohm entered the eighty acres which is now south of the railroad, and Mr. Kauffman the eighty acres north, what is now known as Butterfield's addition to Wilton. In July, 1853, Franklin Butterfield purchased from Mr. Kauffman the north fractional half of the southwest quarter and south fractional half of the northwest quarter of section 6, township 78, range 1 west, containing 205 1/2 acres, at $2 per acre. Previous to this time the Mississippi & Missouri Railroad (now the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad) had been located through this place. Green & Stone, who were then engaged in the banking business at Muscatine, and were owners of considerable stock in the Mississippi & Missouri Railroad, in August, 1854, called upon Mr. Butterfield and proposed to buy the whole or a part of his interest in the land.

Mr. Butterfield considered their proposition, and decided to sell a one-fifth interest in the whole at $10 per acre, provided they bought forty acres of Mr. Marolf, which they did at the same price per acre. He also induced them to take a two-fifths' interest in the land south of the railroad, and relinquish that north of the railroad, which they readily did. In September, 1854, Butterfield, Green, and Stone platted the original town on Green & Stone's forty acres, and the land lying south of the railroad, which plat was recorded Oct. 22, 1855. The name of Glendale was first chosen for the new town, but before the plat was recorded the name of Wilton was selected.

The first lot in the new town was sold in 1854, to Henry S. Giesler, for the sum of $40. In the summer of 1855, Mr. Giesler built the first house, the lower front-rooms of which were occupied by a stock of dry-goods and groceries, owned by Tuthill & Hull, who were then doing business in Seymour, Conn., and who were represented in this place by Ryder & Sanford, who soon bought out the interest of Tuthill & Hull and carried on the business in their own name, in addition to that of grain and pork buying. About this time Mr. Giesler received the appointment of Postmaster, and had his office in their store-room.

During the same summer a small house was erected by J. M. Smith, in which J. C. Wate kept a small eating-house and a few groceries. In November of this year Mr. Butterfield sold one-half of his interest in the original town, and a half interest in what is now known as his addition, to Servetus Tufts, receiving $30 per acre for that now in the addition.

The construction train reached Wilton Oct. 1, 1855, and two months later the passenger train commenced running to the place. At the time Cook & Sargent, bankers of Davenport, owned a large amount of stock in the railroad, and were interested in building up Durant, about six miles east of Wilton, succeeded in getting the railroad company to run the branch trains from Muscatine through Wilton, making the transfer at Durant, not permitting the name "Wilton" to be called on the cars, but instructing the brakeman to call out "Muscatine Junction." A fine depot-building was erected at Durant, while the only accommodation afforded Wilton was a small shed-roof building. But the efforts of the parties interested in Durant were unavailing.

In the winter of 1855-56 many lots were sold in the village, and in the spring following active operations in building and improvements were commenced. Rider, Sanford & Butterfield commenced erecting a store-building in the spring of 1856, and when nearly completed it caught fire and burned, being the first fire in Wilton. Moses Garretson, in a small building which he erected in the southeast part of town, commenced hotel-keeping----the first in the place. Another building was soon after erected by Mr. DeGear, in which he commenced hotel-keeping, the house being known as the DeGear House. It was located on the corner of Fourth and Cedar streets. Before the year was out Mr. Garretson commenced building a new hotel, on the corner of Fifth and Cherry streets, which was completed in the following year.

The location of Wilton is a good one, and it is surrounded by as fine an agricultural region as can be found in the State of Iowa. As a general thing the farmers are in a prosperous condition, having all the modern appliances which tend to make farmlife different from what it was fifty years ago. The village has generally partaken of the prosperity of the surrounding country. For several years it grew quite rapidly, and many elegant dwelling-houses were erected. At the present time the village is well represented by good mercantile establishments, safe banking-houses, good church buildings, and a first-class school. Various secret and benevolent societies are also engaged in doing good work for its citizens. A fine school-house was erected in 1875, on lots 9 and 10, Butterfield's addition to the town of Wilton. The plans were made by J. P. Walton, of Muscatine, and it is 60x72 feet in size, three stories high with basement. The building was dedicated Dec. 30, 1875, and cost $12,000.

Soon after the location of Wilton, Presbyterian services were held by Rev. John Hudson, the place of meetings being in the old school-house on the hill, Lyceum Hall, and elsewhere. In 1859 Rev. William C. Mason preached to the Presbyterians of Wilton for six months. On the 14th of May, 1860, the congregation at Wilton was set off from Sugar Creek Church, in Cedar County, which was organized in 1856, and by a committee of the Cedar Presbytery formally organized into a church. In the fall of 1866 a house of worship was erected at a cost of $2,800, and was dedicated in February, 1867.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in December, 1856, by Rev. John Jiesel, and shortly afterward a small frame church-building was erected, which was replaced in 1867 by a fine brick building. A commodious parsonage was also erected, and both church and parsonage were destroyed by fire, Aug. 20, 1874. In 1875 both buildings were rebuilt.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Wilton originally formed a part of the Muscatine circuit. Rev. H. Wharton, of Hebron circuit, Cedar County, held the first services in Wilton in the depot or freight-house. In 1857 Rev. J. B. Hill conducted a successful revival, and over fifty persons were received into the church. In 1860 a church-building was erected and dedicated, which was used until 1878, when the present church-edifice was erected at a cost of $3,800. The parsonage was built in 1876, at a cost of $2,000.

The Congregational Church of Wilton was organized in Sugar Creek Township, Cedar County, July 9, 1854, and known as the First Congregational Church of Sugar Creek. In August, 1855, the location of the church was changed to Moscow, but was soon afterward located at Wilton, and at a meeting held June 20, 1856, new articles of incorportation were adopted, and the name changed to the First Congregational Church of Wilton. Steps were at once taken for the erection of a church-building, which was completed and the first services held therein Aug. 30, 1857, by the Rev. D. Knowles, pastor.

The Free-Will Baptists organized a church in this place Feb. 20, 1864, with the Rev. I. Dotson as pastor, with eleven constitutent members. The congregation has since disbanded.

The Roman Catholics commenced services in Wilton in the fall of 1857, the first mass being celebrated by the Rev. Peter Mahn. During the summer of 1858, the first church was planned and erected under the supervision of Father Mahn. It was a small frame building, and was located in the south part of town. This building was used until 1868, when a larger and better edifice was erected.

Wilton Lodge No. 167, A.F.& A. M., was instituted under dispensation, April 21, 1863, and chartered June 3d, of the same year. The charter members were James S. Leech, W. M.; C.P. Reynolds, S. W.; A. B. Yeager, J. W.; A. L. Healey, Treas. W. N. McNaghten, Sec.; W. H. Baxter, S. D.; J. S. Addes, J. D.; C. M. Macomber, Tyler. The lodge has been in a prosperous existence from the beginning.

Pulaski Lodge No. 107, I. O. O. F., was organized under dispensation, June 5, 1857, and chartered Oct. 15, 1857, with the following named charter members: J. D. Walker, N. G.; William N. McNaghten, V.G.; F. P. Hubbert, Rec. Sec.; P. S. Corey, Treas.

The Wilton Seminary Association was organized in 1866, and S. L. Lawerence, I. K. Terry, F. Butterfield, S. Wildasin and William McClain appointed Trustees. A deed to the ground was given to the trustees, May 1, 1866, by Benedict and Elizabeth Maurer, to be used for school purposes, the trustees agreeing to erect a good seminary-building within one year. Two years after the seminary was erected the trustees entered into an agreement with the Free-Will Baptists of Iowa to let that denomination have the use of the seminary for a term of years, and give them a majority of the directorate in consideration of their keeping up a school and erecting near the seminary a boarding-house costing from $12,000 to $15,000. At the expiration of seven years a dissatisfaction having arisen among the stockholders, it was sold by public sale and bought by the Baptists, who contiued a school until 1880, when it was bought by the Congregational Association, and is still under their control as the Wilton Academy. In 1885 there being a debt of about $2,5000 which was paid off by Mr. C. W. Norton, and since that time it has borne the name of the "Norton Normal and Scientific Academy." Since it has passed under the present management the school has met with excellent success. The present Board of Directors are the Rev. A. B. Robbins, Pres.; C. B. Strong, Sec.; C. W. Norton, H. A. Hollister, Dr. A. A. Cooling, the Rev. E. P. Smith, the Rev. M. A. Bullock.

The Union Bank of Wilton was organized in June, 1878, incorporated August 19, and authorized to commence business Sept. 13, 1878. The first officers were L. L. Lane, Pres.; Samuel Wildason, Vice Pres.; J. L. Geisler, Sec.; S. C. Root, Henry Will, Peter Daut, C. B. Strong, D. W. McCroskey, George Frenzel, and Thomas Kenna, directors. Of the capital stock there were $52,900 subscribed, 50 per cent, of which were paid in, or $26, 450. The earnings of the bank were permitted to accumulate until they amounted to the subscribed capital, which was then credited to the respective stockholders, since which time there has been a surplus of $15,000 accumulated. The present officers of the bank are C. B. Strong, Pres.; H. Wildasin, V. P.; J. L. Geisler, Cashier.

The Farmers' and Citizens' Bank was organized in May, 1874, and authorized to commence business June 1, 1874. Its first officers were Frank Bacon, Pres.; J. D. Walker, Vice Pres.; J. E. Myers, Cashier. Its authorized capital was $50,000. Its present officers are J. D. Walker, Pres.; J. H. Pingrey, Vice Pres.; Frank Bacon, Cashier. The bank is in a flourishing condition.

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