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A History of Moscow, Iowa
By George F. McCoy and John J. Witmer

Transcribed by Elizabeth Casillas, April 20, 2015

     The unincorporated village of Moscow, Iowa is located in Sec. 9 of T. 78N R. 2W of the 5th PM with the present day Township of Moscow comprising all of that Congressional township except for 5 sections off the east side. The township is drained by the Red Cedar River which flows through the west part and by Sugar, Mosquito, Little Mosquito and Chicken Creeks. The soil is primarily Muscatine silt loam on the eastern part with widely varied types along the streams.

     Moscow was platted in the fall of 1836 by Silas Webster and Charles Drury, some settlers already being in the area. Moscow is one of the earliest towns in the area as shown on an early Nicollet map. The earliest building was probably a fort erected by LeClaire and Davenport about 1830 for the Sac and Fox Indians (at the expense of the tribe) for protection from the Sioux, with traces lift until 1838. Moscow was never an Indian trading post, although early merchants…

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    This page sponsored in memory of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Witmer by their son, John J. Witmer.

Pg 198
Picture: Explosion in Moscow 1899 – Courtesy of Curtis Frymoyer
Fred Marolf and W. R Speers were killed and four others injured when a steam boiler exploded destroying a building housing a saw mill, a feed mill and a creamery.

…did a large business with them, the nearest Trading Post being at Rock Island and later at Rochester and Napoleon.

     By 1839, the population of the Moscow area would rival that of the town of Bloomington, whose census was listed as 71. Among the settlers who came to the area in the 1835-9 years were:

     L. Andrews (drowned in 1837 swimming a river on the way home from Dubuque protecting money he had collected for oxen that had been stolen), William Adair (Addir), Rev. Martin Baker (Rochester Twp.), ----Boggs, Samuel Bratt, Delavan Bratt (his sister Azalea married Serranus C. Hastings of Bloomington who served in 6 of the 8 Iowa Territorial Legislatures and was one of Iowa’s first United States representatives in 1846. He was a lawyer who came to Iowa in 1837 and much involved with early Moscow), Hiram Brooks, Benjamin Brooks, ---- Bryant, T. Byrd (a claim speculator), James Casey, Daniel and Isaac Comstock, C. Craig, C. Clark, Timothy T. Clark (whose son Edward became editor of the Wilton advocate), Corfield (a lawyer) Luke Cunningham, Charles Drury (became a doctor later).

     William Freyburger, William Gatton, S. Gillett, Samuel Halliday (who came in 1835 selling his claim to T.T. Clark in 1836 and moved to 76 Twp.), Zebular Hate, Harvey Hatton, Jonah Hatton, Sam Hazlett, Daniel Healey (who purchased the D. Comstock farm), Edwin, Chester and William Healey, Joe and Charles Henderson, William Hendrickson, Samuel Huested, Vinton Hughes (who taught school the second year), George W. Hunt, Friend Johnson (a gunsmith), James Kefever, Joseph Keefover, Henry Kilgore, William Leverich, Ira Leverich (whose son Prof. R.W.L., born near Moscow in 1838, was…

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    This page sponsored in memory of Charles and Selma McCoy by their son, George f. McCoy.

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Picture: The Moscow Lutheran Church – Courtesy of Mrs. John Marolf
When services were no longer held in this church, the building was moved to the George Duffe farm where it was used as a farm building.

…associated with the educational interests of Muscatine Co. for many years), Joseph Leverich, Benjamin Ludlow (who with Addir and Taylor were the first election judges in 1838). Samuel Ludlow, Thomas Ludlow.

     Charles McRae, Thomas McConnell, F (Harry) Mathews, Harvey Mathis, James Mitchell, Andrew Murphy, Joseph Olds (Auld) (in the sand prairie by the Healy cemetery), ---- Patterson, Irvin (g) Reynolds and David (Davis) Reynolds in Cedar Co., William Reynolds, Robert G. Roberts (who spent a winter in Moscow between stints in Cedar Co. from which he was elected a Representative to the first Iowa Territorial Legislature), I. Romine, Alexander Chandler Ross, Elias Spurgeon, Samuel Spurgeon, George Spurgeon, George W. Stearnes.

     Samuel W. Stewart (to whom we are indebted for writing down much of the early history of Moscow), Silas Webster (proprietor), John Wilson, Matthew White, William White, William and Charles Whittlesey (who in 1837 built the saw and grist mill on Sugar Creek in Cedar Co., Charles represented Cedar Co. in the Council in the 1838 Territorial Legislature), William and Edward Yocum, William Young, William Yeager.

     The early settlers were concentrated in the area of present day Moscow with some of them residing or having fields north in Cedar County, a few being west of the river and some along Mosquito Creek. The earliest businesses were the stores of Mitchell, Ross and Casey…

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    This page sponsored in memory of the Proctor and Mussig families by Mr. and Mrs. Alva Proctor and sons.

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Picture: Section gang at Moscow around 1907 – Courtesy of Curtis Frymoyer
Mr. Desmond is the section boss of this gang of railroad workers who repaired the tracks.

…who sold dry goods, groceries and “wet goods.” Hendrikson operated a ferry and had a blacksmith shop in 1836. In 1837 Boggs and Hendrikson made a claim and operated a ferry at what was later known as Overman’s Ferry and then operated for 30 years by B.F. Tice. Ross obtained a license for a ferry in Moscow in 1838 for $7.50, his fees to be 12 ½ cents for a footman, 25 cents man and horse, 75 cents wagon and two horses, 6 ¼ cents loose cattle. Later a chain ferry operated by William Slater who also had a store was sold to Henry C. T. Lange in 1853, his rates being 5 cents footman, 10 cents man and horse, 25 cents wagon and two horses and driver, loose livestock 2 ½ to 5 cents each.

    A wagon bridge was built over the Cedar and later being replaced by a new bridge further south on the River to River Road (Hwy. 6), it being replaced by a modern structure in the 1970’s. Moscow had been on some of the early territorial roads and stage coach routes, one of the well known stage stops being the Healy farm north of town. The Mississippi and Missouri Railroad came to Moscow with the construction of a bridge in 1854 that was to serve until 1876 when the Rock Island Railroad replaced it. This was rebuilt with additional piers and widened to two tracks about 1912. The depot has been removed, the mail catcher is gone, the 10cent ticket to Wilton with several stops a day are now memories.

    The first school was organized by Comstock and Clark in a portion of the “old log house” in 1837 and may have been taught by Miss May Comstock. Hughes started a school in 1838 and in Nov. 1839 the…

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Picture: The Teufel home at Moscow 1899 – Courtesy of the Cedar County Historical Society
This house was once a hotel. It was located a block east of the Moscow store and post office.

…Muscatine Co. Commissioners Court constituted “School District No. 1, the territory embraced in the limits thereof being T. 78N R. 2W”. School No 1 of this district was 1 ¼ mile west of present day Wilton (then a part of Moscow Twp) and a description of it in 1850 was: 20’ square, 7’ high ceiling. Floor puncheons split from large trees laid on large round joists. Ceiling loose boards laid on top of good sized log joists. Writing desks were made by boring holes into the side of the house with a 2” auger and driving stout rough pins into the auger holes on top of the pins were wide slabs flat side up. Seats of slabs with wooden legs driven into auger holes. 2 windows in house one on west and one on north side made by cutting out space between two logs 10” wide and 10’ long in which window lights were placed. East end large chimney that would take a stick of wood 5-6’ long and 16” in diameter only source of heat and usually sufficient. Door on middle of south side of house somewhat related to old fashioned barn door hung on wooden hinges and leather latch string was always hung out. Roof of clapboards held in place by logs laid along on top.” Mr. Fultz added that school teachers were paid, $12-14/mo and boarded around 3-4 days at a place. Fuel supplied by donation. In Moscow, school was held in private residences and the cemetery church until 1856 when a 1 story school was built in the block NE of the present church. The 2-story schoolhouse south of the railroad tracks was built in 1867 serving as a grade school until Moscow was consolidated with Wilton in 1955. Among the rural schools that served the township were Oak Hill, Champion Hill, Evergreen Nook (known as the “Cheese box” because of its small size), North Prairie, Sand Hill and White Prairie.

     The first church service is acknowledged to Rev. Martin Baker of the Rochester area in a private residence. A log house on what is now the cemetery was used jointly by the Christians (disciples, New Lights or Campbellities) and the Mormons (or Hinkleites after their elder). The Christians built a new church about 1855 and later a…

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Picture: Rock Island Passenger Train Crossing Cedar River at Moscow - Courtesy of A. Wacker Family

…German Lutheran church was built. The Congregational church was in Moscow a short while before moving to Wilton in 1856. Beginnings of the present Methodist were revival meetings held by the Sweetland Circuit in the Christian Church building in 1877 with a Sunday School beginning in the school house in 1889. In 1890 a request was made to the Methodist District Conference being held at the campgrounds SE of Moscow to appoint a board of Trustees. The present church was built in 1891 with a basement and addition being added in 1915. Memorials to various individuals make up part of the furnishings of the church. Since 1933, it is in a charge with the Wilton Church.

     The Moscow Cemetery was platted in 1836 with the first burial being one of the town founders, Silas Webster who died June 28, 1837. An arched gate was added in 1917 and about 1950 a seven foot granite monument “Dedicated to the memory of all those resting here or elsewhere who enlisted from or lived in Moscow township and served in any branch of the armed forces of the United States----On them the light of praise shall shine forever” was donated by Charles Mellwig, replacing a small wooden obelisk memorial. Other cemeteries serving the area are the Klein (William Reynolds being the first burial) and the Duffe. The known graves in the Gatton Cemetery in the quarry area were recently reinterred in Moscow Cemetery. Some of the pioneers rest in the Healy Cemetery just across the Cedar Co. line.

     There is no agreement over the first birth in the area. Claimants are a dau. to the David Reynolds, a son to the Harvey Mathis’, dau. Thilda to the Mathew Whites, son Alex to the James Keefovers and a dau. Hannah to the John Wilsons.

     Businesses over the years were based on the needs of the community. In the early years grain milling was furnished by Ben Nye on the Mouth of Pine and by the Whittleseys on Sugar Creek. Later Campbell Bros. had a saw and grain mill and in 1866-7 a dam and mill was built by the Moscow Mill and Dam Co. later operated by Peter Bigalow. At the turn of the century the J. H. Heinley Mill Co. was in business. There have been several “farmer” saw mills in the area with commercial mills operated by William Fultz, J.E. Parker, Dan Smith and Henry Hass. Tragedy occurred Oct. 4, 1897 when a boiler in the Parker Mill and Creamery exploded killing Fred Marolf and W.R. Speer. A portion of the boiler weighing over a ton was blown 400 feet.

     General merchandise stores began with the pioneers – Mitchell,…

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Picture: Moscow Depot – Courtesy of Curtis Frymoyer

…Ross, Casey and later M. White. After the famous episode in which “Ross killed the Indian,” of which there are many versions, he sold his stock in 1839 to S.W. Stewart and left the area. In 1843 Stewart advertised his “Chair and Spinning Wheel Manufactory” and also that he would “fill a wagon wheel or make a new wagon, if ordered, for which he will take all kinds of produce, at the highest market price.” Those who followed include William Slater, Henry C.T. Lange, Garrett Coffee, E.G. McBryde, John Hirshman (bakery and candy), --Temple (boots and shoes), Chas. Ziezig (“complete line gen mdse, dry goods, groceries, drugs, grain dealer” ), Paulus Hahn, Hahn and Wahl, Frank Leimkuehler (who in the 1902 Wilton Fair catalog advised “If in need of any goods, call on Frank. Will be there for years to come. Dry goods, groceries, hats, caps, boots, shoes, hardware, barbed wire, tobacco, cigars, etc. Rural Telephone.” His store was later owned by John Rexroth, Charles White and M.J. House. Other stores were those of Geo. Albrand, C. Schwin, Chas. Chase, Henry Ploehn, Clarence Hain, Henry Beinke and Leslie Sterner.

     Blacksmith shops have been operated by Hendrikson, Joe Baxter, John Deimer (Danner ?), William Geller, Charles Whitcomb and J. Goetnitz (wagonmakers), John Artz, Chas. Wiese (“Saddlery & harness, hardware and carriage line”) and by the Wilhelmes, Frank and later his son Ralph whose shop was a popular meeting place for the farmers and townspeople. Frank sold machinery and parts and took care of the repair needs of the area sometimes taking as pay produce, grain or sand.

     W. Barwald (Saddle & harness mfg.), --Ransford (tanyard), Fred Hein, Charles Kebler (both Boot and Shoe mfg.) were …

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Picture: Moscow Rural Mail Carriers – Courtesy of Mrs. Florence Kean
In front of the Moscow post office and store are George Lincoln in his pony drawn buggy and John Birkhofer beside his car with which they delivered the rural mail.


     Several hotels operated between the 1830’s and 1900. They included Comstock’s, later Stoneburner; Jacob Smith-1855; Conrad Miller, hotel and grocery-1855; Bunch and Shepard, hotel and store; Rev. H.U. Roberts, store, post office, Cosmopolitan Hotel-1855; Spears Hotel (Thomas S.)-1855; Union Hotel, (John Middleton) – 1865; Iowa house (A. Christian) – 1876; Weaver & Judson-1876; J. Teufel-1899. Capt. Willard Glazier, crossing the United States to gather material for his book Ocean to Ocean on Horseback stayed at the Iowa House Oct. 4, 1876.

     Businesses of the recent past include Harry Marticke Garage, Walker Well Drilling, Tom Tharp Garage and Charles Lincoln Trucking Service.

     Businesses now in Moscow include Beinke (Larry) Plumbing and Heating, Birkhofer (Dean) Lime hauling, Proctor (Alva) Bulldozing, Stanford (Barbara ) Beauty Shop, Sterner (Ralph) Market and Tharp (Orin) Filling Station.

     Those in the medical arts included Physicians and Surgeons J.W. Jamieson, U.R. Baxter, --Stiner, Carl Van Engel and two earlier ones, Randall described by an early historian as a “regular” and Langdon “a mixture of all sorts”, and a druggist, Marrim Baker. John Teufel, a native of Moscow, became a doctor practicing for 60 years in Scott County.

     In many cases, the post office was housed in one of the stores. Postmasters include; William I. Hughes, Chas. McRae, Timothy T. Clark, Rev. H.U. Roberts, J.P. Chase, Robert Chase, C.A. Zeizig, Frank Leimkuehler, Paul Hahn, Jr., Chas. Hain, Chas. White, M.J. …

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     This page sponsored in memory of Louis Gill by his sister, Mrs. Cloe Walton.

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Picture: Putting Up Ice at Moscow – Courtesy of George McCoy

…House, Mrs. Leslie Sterner and Diane Henderson. Rural mail carriers include Bert Pirkey, George Lincoln, B.L. Morris, Harlan Beinke and Leo Ochiltree.

     Moscow had independent telephone lines with a switchboard, the best known of the “centrals” was Emma Hain, whose salary was $10/mo. until eventually raised to $12. The lines were purchased by Albert Daufeldt after WW II who later converted to a dial system. It is now a part of the United Telephone System.

     The present Township Clerk is Grant McConnaha and the Trustees are Eugene Denkman, Reuban McCormick and George McCoy.

     No lodges are in Moscow now but the past has seen the Lodge of Good Templars, Modern Woodmen and the Royal Neighbors of America. Duffe Hall was a popular spot for plays and dances and boasted a bowling alley. Cherry Bluff was a popular picnic area in the late 1800s. It was a 40 acre tract west of the river owned by the railroad with special cars for passengers going there – the 1837 Muscatine County Old Settlers picnic being one such event. Resleys Lake on the west side of the Cedar is another popular privately owned resort area. It was here that many of the Moscow Homecoming celebrations were held with a picnic, prizes for contests for the youngsters, for the oldest and those coming the furthest. It was begun in 1919 and has continued through the years but has been moved to the Moscow Conservation Park in town. The park features a shelter, pump, boat launching area, small kiddie rides, basketball court and several outside grills.

     Having the advantage of the Cedar R. and Sugar Creek and timbered areas, the community has excellent hunting and fishing opportunities. One of the early ministers from the Rochester area is supposed to have gotten into difficulties with his congregation here for throwing his lines into the Cedar on the way down to preach and pulling out his catch on the way home. The Moscow Fox Hunting club, organized in 1948, has planned hunts and game dinners.

     Moscow had an Independent baseball team in the 1920’s playing …

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Picture: Rock Island Railroad Crossing Cedar River. Looking East – Courtesy of A. Wacker Family

…other local area small town Independents as well as teams from Bettendorf and Muscatine. The battery included M. J. House, Atkins and Olson, pitchers and E. Birkhofer, catcher. In the 1950’s and 60’s a softball team was a member of an “Old Man’s Softball League.”

     “An Act to incorporate BLOOMINGTON AND CEDAR RIVER CANAL COMPANY is the title of the act passed Jan. 12, 1839 by the first Iowa Territorial Legislature that met in Burlington. With this began the unsuccessful 137 year struggle to build the “Moscow Dam.” The act called for the construction of a canal from Rochester to Bloomington authorizing up to $500,000 capital stock, specifying method of construction, rules for its use and that when Iowa became a state, the “future state” shall have the right to purchase it at cost plus. A route was surveyed in 1839 from Mad Creek across the prairie to Moscow, and it was said that the canal “was sure to make Bloomington the Cinnicinnati of the West.” The plan lay dormant awhile but has been revived many times. An 1865 survey gave the cost as $750,000 with an 84 foot fall. In 1912 a plan was advanced for an earthern dam south of Moscow to “create one of the greatest water power projects in the west” and “Iowa’s finest pleasure resort,” an 8000 acre pond. The dam itself was to carry a wagon road and a proposed Iowa City-Muscatine Interurban which was to connect with the two railroads to bring customers to the new resort. Total cost to be $7,000,000. The last big push for the project was 1946-50 when the First Iowa Hyro-Electric Cooperative attempted to construct the dam at a cost estimated variously at $18 to $58 million dollars. The attempt went to the U.S. Supreme Court before being dropped. The “Rochester Dam Project” was officially abandoned by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in Jan. 1976.

     General grain-livestock operations is now the main agricultural pursuit. In the past, Moscow was famous for its melons with several melon and vegetable markets in the area. They were also sold to…

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…groceries in area towns and a quantity of melons were shipped by railroad. Several area farmers had sorghum mills that pressed and then boiled the juice which was to become the syrup for pancakes and “molasses” cookies. The pioneers had boiled the sugar water from the maples along Sugar Creek south of town to make syrup, and the 1837 surveyor had found an Indian village and “Sugar Camp” north of town along the Cedar. An area farmer, Alvin Roberts, participated in the corn husking contests 1930-1940 winning the 1939 Iowa championship and placed 15th nationally.

     Shipment of sand by rail was a large business in Moscow. Until the advent of electrification, the harvest of ice from the Cedar furnished work for several persons. Some in Moscow constructed a motorized saw to cut the large cakes from the river ice, they would then be floated down a cut channel to a loading ramp along the bank, Henry Stoneburner would then use a team to pull the blocks to a platform that was wagon high. Teamsters would then deliver the blocks to area “ice houses.”

     What was described by a 1914 Motor Guide as “Deep sand bar, ½ mile” brought about the construction of one of the first concrete roads in Iowa, still in existence. A ½ mile portion of the River to River Road leading to the wagon bridge over the Cedar was paved in 1914 with various types of mixtures being used as an experiment. Local tradition is that the worker turnover was so great, since it was all handwork, that if you were on the job 2 days you were foreman.

     The largest industry in the township is W.Q.I., a large scale quarrying operation on the west side of the river. The corporation is headed by B. Wayne Carpenter and has quarries in Muscatine, Cedar, Dubuque, Delaware and Clayton counties. The local quarry has a fleet of Roll Dump trucks to deliver crushed rock for road use and also supplies a high grade agricultural limestone.

     An 1865 history stated that “A quarry of good limestone is opened by the railroad west of Cedar River” but the major development of the quarry must be attributed to Otto Wendling. He first buildt bridges but was asked by Mr. Halbfuss, the Co. Eng., if he would buy a rock crusher. He started with a $3600. Investment, including $1700 for the crusher, in the Wild Cat Den area in 1934 and then moved to Melpine, but that rock was of poor quality. The county then bought Cherry Bluff west of Moscow and Wendling moved two crushers there. Seventy WPA men, hauled from Muscatine, were employed wheeling rock in wheel-barrows to the crushers.

     In 1938 Wendling leased from Marticke on the east side of the road and quarrying continued there until 1960. In 1954 he bought from Healy on the west side where the B.L. Anderson Co. had leased for a short while and started stripping there. He sold to Carpenter (W.Q.I.) in 1958 and continued stripping for him for 2 or 3 years. Wendling recalls that when he first started, it was hard to sell rock and his first load of lime was sold to Henry Brown for $1.00.

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     This page sponsored in memory of Mr. and Mrs. V.C. Walton by their son, Lonnie Walton.

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Early Methodist Meetings in Moscow

     “In 1841 Daniel L. Healy built the first barn in the neighborhood. In that barn the Methodist held the first quarterly meeting held in this region. At that time, a quarterly meeting was an event of much importance, long looked for and eagerly expected. People came from all over the circuit. The circuit that Ferree rod included high Prairie, west of Muscatine, on the south and Center Point, sixteen miles north of Marion in Linn county, on the north and ten or twelve miles at intermediate points. It was what was called a two weeks’ circuit. He preached at each of these points once in two weeks. When we went to quarterly meeting we expected to be fed Saturday and Sunday and the expectation was promptly and cordially met...When the meeting was appoint at Healy’s he knew it meant a heavy tax upon his corn crib and larder, but that was cheerfully met. Bumgardner, Healy and Col. Hardman furnished the first places for holding large eetings inthis region and each of them felt honored that they had the opportunity to do so The quarterly meetings of those days were a great social and religious power. All went expecting to have a good time and they had it; They sang tunes then that are not old yet hat two or three hundred persons could throw their weight upon, to their level best and not start a stitch…At those meetings they had their best preachers and the preacher did his best. When he got fairly underway an odd amen wound greet him, but as he warmed up to his work they increased in number and quality and by the time he reached his peroration they came thick and fast, well mixed with hallelujah and glory. When the love-feast came round a doorkeeper was appointed and those who wished to take part must have a ticket – no dead heads in that crowd; they were a live, devoted, earnest, enthusiastic wide awake and zealous company and Methodists to the toenails. Their time, talents and money gave vim to prayer. God bless the Methodists.”

     “In 1841 Uriah Ferree, the first regular Methodist preacher we had, began to preach in Moscow; he was a fair preacher, a good man and a good pastor. He preached once in two week, they all used the old frame house that Ross built.” ~ From “Early Settlement of Moscow and Vicinity” by S.

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