Source:Henry Wildasin's Revised History of Wilton, Iowa***Containing a complete reprint of Wilton History 1854-1876 by Rider & Stevenson***1947
The first man to erect a cabin within the present limits of Wilton was Mr. Christian Marolf who came in July 1849, and erected of logs a small house opposite the German Lutheran church. The house still remains and Mr. Marolf survives, and domicils beneath its roof. Mr. M. entered the land on which he made his home, the east line of which is the street past the church. At this time he could only see one other house, that being the cabin of Mr. Stearns just west of town on the south side of the Moscow road and now the property of the estate of J. L. Reed deceased. He tells us that for several years he made hay where now stands the business part of Wilton, and that herds of deer crossed over the same ground on their way from Mud creek to Sugar creek. Mr. Christian Marolf was soon followed by Mr. Ben Maurer and Peter Marolf in 1850-1, who also obtained land near by---Mr. Ben Maurer that which now comprises North Wilton; Mr. J. P. Marolf that which is now Marolf's addition. North Wilton is at present not within the corporate limits.
On the 19th day of May, 1849, two entries of government land were made by Henry Strohm and Benjamin Kauffman, which comprised the lands now within the corporate limits of Wilton, excepting Marolf's addition. Mr. Strohm entered the eighty acres now south of the railroad, and Mr. Kauffman the eighty acres north, or what is now Butterfield's addition to Wilton.
In the month of July, 1853, Mr. Franklin Butterfield purchased from Mr. B. C. Kauffman the North fractional half of the southwest quarter of Section Number Six, in Township Seventy-eight, Range 1 West, containing 205 1/2 acres, at $2.00 per acre.
The M.& M.R.R., now the C.R.I & P.R.had been located through this place prior to this purchase. In August, 1854, Messrs. Green & Stone, Bankers at Muscatine and owners of a considerable stock in the M.& M.R.R., called upon Mr. Butterfield, and proposed to buy the whole or a part of Mr. Butterfield's interest in the land. The secret of the desire being the agitation of a branch road from this point to Muscatine, and they desired an interest in the junction. Mr. Butterfield considered their proposition, and decided to sell one-fifth interest in the whole at ten dollars per acre, provided they bought forty acres of Mr. Marolf, which is now the railroad "Y", and that portion of the town west which they did at ten dollars per acre. Mr. Butterfield now induced Green & Stone to take a two-fifths interest in the land south of the R.R., and relinquish that north of the R.R., which they readily did, as it brought their interest nearer their purchase from Marolf. In September,1854, Butterfield and Green & Stone platted out the original town on Green & Stone's forty acres and the land lying south of the R. R., which plat was recorded October 22nd, 1855, ( the following year ). Then arose the question of a name, and as it is a matter of no little moment to provide an appropriate name for a town to endure for ages---unless some unforseen and dire calamity, an earthquake, an opening of the earth, or tidal wave should mark oblivian on the spot---a name that would give dignity to its mayors and magistrates---a name that would command respect and admiration abroad; that would do to name our children and grand-children after-the-founders of our town found it no easy task to decide. One was in favor of an Indian name, but the stock was all appropriated. Another suggested Cedar Junction; but that was inappropriate, and suggestive of a small railroad station, while Mr. Butterfield warmly advocated the name Wilton, the name of his native town in Maine. It was finally decided that My Butterfield should present six names and that Messrs. Green & Stone should elect one of these as the future name. Of the six names, Wilton and Glendale were two, and after due consideration Glendale was chosen, and for nearly a year our town went by that name. But before the plat was recorded Messrs. Green & Stone re-considered their choice and Wilton was permanently chosen and so recorded.
In 1854, Mr. Butterfield sold the first lot to Mr. Henry S. Giessler, it being lot 3, Block 43, opposite Dow's elevator, for forty dollars.
Working on the road was all that was done this year. and with the advent of the graders sprung up a number of small shanties.
In July or August, 1855, Mr. Giessler built the first house, the lower front rooms of which were occupied by a stock of dry goods and groceries, owned and shipped from Seymore, Connecticut, by Tuthill & Hull, which firm name was the first to appear on a sign in front of the door. The firm of Rider & Sanford were their agents who first went to Muscatine with the stock, with the intention of operating a permanent store at that place; but soon after, as we have stated, shipped the goods to Wilton. Rider & Sanford afterwards bought out the interest of Tuthill & Hull, and carried the business on in their own name, adding to the business that of grain and pork buying.
Mr Giessler , about this time, received an appointment as postmaster and had his office in their store-room.
About this time, also, a small house was erected by J. M. Smith, on a lot given him by Green & Stone,( now the property of James Keefover ) in which Mr. J. C. Wate kept a xmall eating-house and a few groceries.
In November of this year, Mr. Butterfield sold one half of his three-fifths interest in the original town. And a half interest in what is now known as his addition ( being the north part of the R. R., and west of Cedar street ) to Mr. Servetus Tufts, receiving thirty dollars per acre for that now in the addition.
The Construction Train reached Wilton October 1st and December1st, the passenger trains commenced to run to Wilton.
At this time Messrs. Cook & Sargent, Bankers at Davenport, owned a large amount of stock in M. & M. R. R., and were interested in building up Durant, adversely to that of Wilton, and for a time a sharp warfare was waged. As soon as cars commenced running on the branch from Muscatine, the trains were run by Wilton and transferred at Durant, and the name " Wilton" was not allowed to be called on the cars---the brakeman would call out, "Muscatine Junction". A fine depot was erected at Durant, while the only accomodation afforded at Wilton was a small shed-roof building at the west end of the " Y ". The ticket agent, Mr. Robinson, sold tickets on the cars. The same parties built plank roads over bad places between Durant and Tipton and run a line of four-horse stages between those places.
But Wilton was destined to triumph; and today few know of the aspiring efforts of the Duranters,and their wealthy influential backers.
During the winter of 1855-6, a great many lots were sold, and in the spring of 1856 commenced the most active operations in building and improving ever witnessed in the history of Wilton. Early in the spring, Rider, Sanford & Butterfield commenced building a store, where now stands the frame buildings owned by F. Bacon; and when nearly completed the building caught fire and burned---being the first fire in Wilton. Owen Syas and Eli Ross were the contractors. A second building was immediately commenced, and finished---being the frames standing one door south of the Review office.
Mr. Moses Garretson commenced what was called the first hotel, in a small building in the south-east part of town. This enterprising citizen also run the first bus and express wagon from the depot to his hotel, it being a buck-board wagon, drawn by oxen. These he would place by the side of the shanty depot and call out," A free bus to the Garretson House! " " Have you any luggage?" In the spring the DeGear House was built by Mr. DeGear, on the corner of Fourth and Cedar Streets, and is now owned by the Burk estate. This was, really, the first hotelthat could reasonably lay any claims to such a title.
Mr. Moses Garretson commenced building a new hotel this year on the corner of Fifth and Cherry Streets, and completed it the following year. This hotel is now known as the Wilton House, and is kept by Mr. Hiram Mooney.
During this year a great many buildings were put up, and often a score of new frames could be seen going up at the same time. Many of the first buildings are yet remaining, being principally built in 1856, a few of which we will mention as follows : one now owned and occupied by B. F. Tufts, and that of Mr. Dave Moore's. The one owned by the widow of Daniel Burk. Mr. S. B. Windus' house, the Harker residence, and the one now owned and occupied by John Wiley. The hotel on the corner of Railroad and Cherry Streets, lately burned. The one, now occupied by Captain Higginson, Rev.Pentzer's house, the brick house now occupied by Mr. J. G. Lyford, and the house now occupied by Mr. Strickland; Mr. Bretz's house; the house occupied by Mr. I. Windus; the brick building occupied by Mrs. Nicolaus; the house now occupied by M. F. Miller, John Brown, David Hesselgesser, and J. B. Harris.
Dr. Wm. Ross, who came the previous year ( 1855 ) had commenced the erection of the brick building west of the McIntire House, now owned by Mrs. Nicolaus, completed it this year.
During the same year Messrs. Friend & Dudley erected the first grist mill, which was run several years, when it was removed by Mr. Crisman, to Fulton, now Stockton, at which place it was soon after burned.
The Wilton Mill building was erected by Green, McNaghten & Co., to be used as a warehouse, for which purpose it was used until built into a steam flouring mill, by Wm. N. McNaghten, in the fall of 1870. This firm at that time was doing a leading business; besides carrying on a mercantile business in a frame building which they erected on the ground now occupied by the second brick building south of the bank building, they bought and shipped grain, hogs and cattle, and whatever else might be sold or exchanged.
In this year, J. D. Walker built the two-story frame now occupied by the post office, and went into the mercantile business with Mr. Adam Blair, as partner.
Mr. Robinson, at this time ticket agent, kept a stock of general merchandise on the corner opposite the Hesselgesser house. The building in which he kept his store was afterwards converted into a planing mill, which was destroyed by fire.
Mr. Henry Nicolaus came to Wilton this year, and worked the first bakery, in the frame building east of the mill. He afterwards carried on the saloon business in connection, and bought and shipped considerable grain.
Mr. E. Passmore came in the fall, and started a saloon in the brick building one door west of the McIntire House. He afterwards ( in 1858 ) purchased the hotel on the corner of Cherry and North Railroad Streets, which was built by J. C. Wate, this year. Mr. Passmore remained in the hotel business about five years.
Mr. E. C. Briggs came in the winter of 1856-7, and started the first cabinet business in the place, and died November 4th, 1861, and was the first person buried in the new cemetery.
Mr. James Ledgerwood became a citizen of Wilton this year, and engaged alternately, for several years in the lumber and grocery business.
Mr. Frank Bacon commenced his business career this year, as a clerk for Mr. J. J. Rider, whom he bought out, in the mercantile business, in 1860.
U. P. Scovil quitted his home in Canada, and took up his abode in our, at this time, bustling little village and shoved the plane and saw for two dollars per day. He afterwards started a wagon shop, and worked at both trades until 1866, when he engaged in the stationery and restaurant business until that disastrous August day, when his building and stock were reduced to a few ashes.
Mr. Mattie Parks was another, hewer of wood, who arrived here from " Merry England ", the same year and has continued in the business to the present time.
In the spring of this year, a stranger went into camp a short distance east of the Wilton Mills, and picketed three yoke of oxen and five head of horses, where he remained for two or three weeks, evidently " prospecting ." His name was Wm. H. Heath, by profession, a physician. He remained and practiced in Wilton nearly four years and being a well informed and active man, he took a prominent and leading part in the affairs of the town and was a most worthy and respected citizen.
Mr. D. Harker was another who came this year, and who has since made Wilton his home to the present time, and has been engaged in hotel keeping, restaurant, grocery and auction business, and of late years has practiced law in Justice's Courts. In 1873 he succeeded Mr. C. Baker, as Postmaster.
In the spring,Mr. F. P. Hubbert came from Rochester, Cedar county, with Green, McNaghten & Co., for whom he clerked several years. He afterwards engaged in business with Mr. McNaghten, and at the time of the fire was doing business by himself.
In the month of May of this year, Mr. McIntire became a citizen of Wilton, and erected a dwelling on lot 9, in Block 60, Butterfield's addition. M's experience with prairie winds, was, while raising the frame, to say the least, not the most pleasing,as the wind leveled his frame to the ground twice, and Mc. was obliged to put it up the third time.
It was during the summer and fall of this year, that the first school was kept in Wilton, by Miss Rebecca McClellan, and as it was before the time of school houses, her school was held in the south room on the second floor of the frame building now owned by Mr. F. Bacon, and occupied by Morrison & Bro. She had but a few scholars, but was a kind lady and a successful teacher.
The people of Wilton in 1856, although few in number, forgot not to be patriotic. The Fourth of July did not pass unnoticed. The people in town, and many from the surrounding country, marched from the corporation, behind a fiddle, to the banks of Mud Creek. A meeting had been held about a week previous by the citizens, committees appointed and everything satisfactorily arranged for the occasion. Mr. Henry Sanford was Marshal of the Day. They first met in the morning in the freight house. The committee on music had been to Muscatine and engaged a martial band for the occasion, but were disappointed upon the morning of the Fourth, when none but a fiddler appeared, and he anything but prepossessing in appearance. After the people had gathered at the freight house, the Marshal called the meeting to order and in reading the programme, when he reached " music by the band," the fiddler supposing it a call upon him, struck up Yankee Doodle, and it was some time before this itinerant musician could understand why he should stop.
The exercises at the freight house commenced with prayer by Rev. D. Knowles. Then followed the reading of the Declaration of Independence, by R. A. McIntire, and an oration by Mr. Van Horne, now editor of the Muscatine " Tribune."
Mr. Van Horne's oration is spoken of by the old settlers in the highest terms. After these preliminary exercises at the freight house, the people formed a procession and marched to the banks of the creek, where a splended dinner was provided.
Though the progress of this part of the entertainment was somewhat marred by a few unruly and evil disposed participants, who went ahead of the procession, and like the harpies of antiquity, preyed upon the banquet and plundered the table, enough was left, however, to appease hunger, and no one was troubled with thirst as three hogsheads of lemonade had been prepared for the occasion. The day, considering all things, passed away pleasantly, and finally dwindled into a dance at Roman's in the evening.
It was during this year that the first births occurred as follows: John Lamb, May 30th, 1856, Lucy Chatfield, July 27th, and Wilton Reed, November 3rd.
The first death, which we have omitted mention, occurred August 27th, 1855. The person being the wife of Lawrence Rexroth.
During the winter of 1856-7, Mr. Robinson, station agent, was superceded by C. P. Oakley. During the same winter Gideon Pierce taught school in the first school house, it being a small frame opposite Mr. Bentley's residence which was built late in the fall.
Wilton had now become a quite respectable sized village, with glowing prospects for the future; but before the year 1857 had drawn to a close, the monetary panic of this year told severely upon the interests of the town. The heretofore thrifty merchant and industrious mechanic gradually found their wallets filled with Western " wild cat " paper money, either wholly worthless, or possessed of an uncertain value. Provisions commanded exorbitant prices; hay, even straw, was scarcely to be had, and corn was worth from one dollar to one dollar and fifty cents per bushel. Town property shrank greatly in value, and many persons sold out or moved away. The hard times, however, were not felt until the latter part of the year, and the spring of 1857 opened up bright and many buildings were commenced and completed. We will mention the leading improvements, enterprises, and events as we have those of 1856.
One of the first events of the year, was the organization of a municipal government. Messrs. Thomas Hanna, Wm.H. Heath and J. J. Rider, were elected a committee to draft a charter. Article first provided " That this town shall be incorporated by the name of Wilton, and this charter shall take effect February 21st, 1857." Second, " That the officers of the town shall consist of five Trustees, a Treasurer, Clerk, and Marshal. Article third granted and defined the powers of the Board. The Trustees elected one of their number President, and another Secretary of the Board, and thus officially commenced the incorporated town of Wilton. The charter became a law, and the first Board of Trustees were elected in March, and were as follows: President, O. J. Grover; Clerk, R. A. McIntire; Trustees, Wm. N. McNaghten, H. S. Giessler, A. J. Friend; Marshal, Henry Sanford.
In the spring of this year, J. L. Reed came, and started in the harness business, in the frame building occupied by Frieden's saloon at the time of the fire.
G. M. Francis came about the same time and superceded Mr. Oakley as station agent. These two gentlemen engaged in grain and stock buying---Mr. Francis furnishing the capital and keeping books, and Mr. Reed doing the buying and shipping. They continued in business together about a year, when they settled up their business, and Mr. Francis withdrew. The parties each making between one and two hundred dollars out of the year's business. Mr. Reed continued alone.
The principal buildings built this year, were the McIntire House, by R. A. McIntire and Dr. J. B. Ware, and the two story frame school building.
July 1st, the order of I. O. O. F. was organized---J. D. Walker being the first N. G.
July 12 Aaron Park arrived from England, and commenced to work at carpentering, which he followed until 1865, since which time he has carried on cabinet-making and undertaking.
In the fall of this year M. K. Pomeroy came, and purchased Mr. Welcher's stock of drugs. Mr. Pomeroy continued in the drug business until in April, 1864, when he sold out and left town.
In the winter of 1857-8, the public school was kept in the new two-story frame school house, and was taught by Dr. J. B. Ware, Principal, and Mary Washburn, Assistant.
In the year 1858, the grading was done between Wilton and Tipton, on the Muscatine, Tipton & Anamosa R. R., the ruins of which can, at this day, be distinctly traced through the fields between these places. The grade was completed and bridges built, when all work was stopped, and the project failed. Owing to the hard times, the employees were paid for their work in dry goods and groceries, by certain persons interested in the construction, at Muscatine, which gave the road the name of " the calico road."
In the spring of this year, Mr. D. Burk located in Wilton, and purchased the property known as the De Gear House, where he opened a store and carried on business a number of years. He remained in Wilton until his demise in February, 1873, and was a most honored and respected citizen.
In September of this year, S. B. Windus came to Wilton, and commenced in the boot and shoe business, which he continued until 1871, when he dissolved partnership with his brother, I. Windus, who had become associated with him, and become sole proprietor of a like business at West Liberty.
In the spring of 1859, T. Bently came to Wilton and engaged in the tinning business for J. J. Rider, in a small, one-story, frame building, where Butterfield's brick now stand, ,joining Dr. Ross' brick store. At the end of a year he purchased the business of Mr. Rider, and has since carried on the business himself.
In June, 1860, Mr. I. Windus came to Wilton, and entered into partnership with his brother, S. B. Windus.
About the same time, S. Dodge came, who started in a general merchandise business, in the fall. His store was in the brick building on the corner of Cedar and Fourth Streets, lately occupied by the Farmer's & Citizens' Bank. Mr. Dodge continued in business about two years.
During the years 1858--9--60, there was but little done in way of improvements, and all business was at a stand-still, consequently, there was a dearth of events that would particularly interest the reader. During these years the price of produce went down to remarkably low figures, which with a wet and otherwise bad season for growing and harvesting crops contributed to the general discouraging condition of matters.
But, during the year 1861, though money matters and business remained about the same, the war of the rebellion having commenced, a few events in its connection transpired that will always be of interest in the future citizens of Wilton.
The history of that gigantic and sanguinary struggle for National existence, and the principles of Freedom, is too voluminous to be stored in the mind, and of even the leading events, many escape our memory. But when we narrow the field to the neighborhood or home events, the details appear as clearly as in the troubled days when they took place, and the call for volunteers, the enrolling, the drills, the marching away, the announcements of battles, the news of death, are fresh in the memory, and the long array of familiar faces of those who cheerfully responded to the call to defend our homes and country, vividly appear to the mind's eye whenever spoken of.
It will always be remembered, with patriotic pride, that Wilton responded nobly. Two full companies were organized in Wilton of nearly two hundred men. The first was Company D, of the Eleventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry. The second was Company G. of the Thirty-Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry. The first Company ( D ) was organized in September, 1860, and was officered as follows: A. J. Shrope, Captain; B. F. Jackson, First Lieutenant; Andrew Walker, Second Lieutenant.
Of those who went from Wilton and vicinity, were Reuben Fobes, Matt Kean, Beecher Chatfield, James Leverich, Henry Seibert, Jno. Hughes, James Kelley, Samuel Edwards, Wm. Fultz, Augustus Port, Winston T. Shifflet, David B, Spillman, Jacob H. Long, Harvey Walker, Hiram Ayers, Newton Ayers, Augustus C. Blizzard, F. J. Bailey, Joseph H. Blakely, Hardy H. Blakely, John Beam, M. B. Bowles, Albert Bradford, Thomas J. Cory, James S. Clarke, Irwin Cooper, Alex C. Campbell, Peter Craven, C. O. Cooper, C. W. Derby, Perry Duncan, Benj. F. Herr, Mandrid Hart, Reuben Hartman, Sylvester Knouse, John J. Keevar, Wm. Leverich, Chas Laport, Albert Lodge, Marion Leverich, John W. Lafever, Oscar F. Lodge, John Millsap, Roderick R. McRea, Mortimer W. Vann, Wm. K. Wall, F. M. Walker, Wm. White, John A. Nellis, Albert Wiker, Andrew Moore, Wm. H. Nellis, George F. Ours, Buckner Pomeroy, Peter Pentico. Oregon Prescott, J. C. Porter, Van V. Reeves, Ira. H. Shifflet, Alexander Thorn, William H. Walton, Chas. Walters, Theodore Farrier, J. P. Musselman, Austin B, Yeager, F. M. Edge, R. P. Gilbreath, Issac C. Gould, C. Herr, George Kiser, Abner Moor, Edward McDonald, George W. Miller, Jeremiah Miller, Reuben H. McClain, Henry Rice, and Perry Starrett.
They were a fine body of men and received their baptism of fire at the battles of Pittsburg Landing and Shiloh, the killed and wounded being nearly one-third of the force of the company. Appended is a list of those killed, and who died afterwards of wounds received in those battles.
Henry Seibert, Thomas J. Cory, Peter Craven, Wm. Leverich, and Wm. White were killed, and John A. Hughes, George Miller, Beecher Chatfield, and R. R. McRea were severely wounded at the battle of Shiloh, April 6th, 1862. R. R. McRea afterwards died of his wounds. Van V. Reeves was wounded at Lovejoy's Station, Georgia, and Perry Starrett at Kenasau Mountain.
The Comapny " went veteran " at Vicksburg, in February, 1863, numbering thirty-six, under the following commissioned officers: Andrew J. Shrope, Captain, Augustus C. Blizzard, First Lieutenant, and James M. Kean, Second Lieutenant.
In March they came home under command of Lieutenant Kean, on furlough, and were joyfully received by friends and relatives. Speeches, dinners, and a good time generally was the order for the ensuing thirty days, at the end of which time they returned to the field where they joined Sherman's forces ( then moving on Atlanta ) at Ackworth, Georgia, and were under fire eighty-four days in succession.
They continued with Sherman through Georgia and the Carolinas, and took part in the grand review at Washington, at the close of the war. James Kelley was promoted to Captain, October 27th, 1864.
Company G. was organized in August, 1862, and mustered into the U. S. service at Muscatine, September 18th, 1862.
The officers of this Company were Simon H. Dixon, Captain; Lewis F. Creitz, First Lieutenant; and Abram Shane, Second Lieutenant.
Those that went with this Company from Wilton and vicinity, were I. W. Harris, R. P. Gilbreath, E. P. Hoover, Linus S. Cory, John Ours, Phillip Patterson, W. S. P. Keller, L. B. Jennings, Cyrenus Parish, Charles Burgan, Seth J. Arnett, George Burgan, John Bernett, J. H. Byers, Alfred Cooper, F. T. Duncan, Samuel Garber, Levi Gallanar, J. H. Harden, Levi W. Hart, Jacob Kyger, C. H. Lampy, I. R. McCartney, John Mench, J. H. Perry, W. O. Phipps, M. L. Rodebush, Theodore Rayner, Owen Syas, E. H. Sterns, G. T. Sterrett, J. H. Turner, W. H. H. Wright, Geo. W. Wise, S. H. Wise, George Wildasin, David M. Baxley, Robert M. Ward.
The principal engagements in which this Company took part were at Jackson, Miss., Vicksburg, Miss., Jackson, second time, Tupelo, Miss., Red River Expedition, Nashville, and investment of Mobile, Alabama.
We are unable to give a full list of casualities of this Company, as we have only been able to ascertain the following:James Byers died of wounds received at Jackson; Willis Phipps,killed at Vicksburg, and David Curry, killed at Yellow Bayou, La.
In conclusion, we may say of these Companies, that they nobly performed their duty as defenders of the Union, and none have a brighter record than they. We have not mentioned the names of the many who lost their lives by disease, contracted in malarial swamps, or caused by the excessive heat of the " Sunny South," as it would occupy more space than can be given, and if we attempted to go into details, we would fall short of doing justice to those brave boys.
There were many who went from Wilton in other regiments, but as we have no list, we are obliged to omit their names.
In the interval between the times of enlistment of these two Companies, to wit: In the year 1862, a draft was talked of, and a notice was given that every person between the ages of eighteen and forty-five must report to the Medical Board at Muscatine to be examined as to their ability to do military duty, and it was during this examination that the remarkable discovery was made that all but two, who were able-bodied men had enlisted; or in other words, that there were only two able-bodied men in Wilton.
Many laughable incidents in connection with this examination could be written, but we forbear.
In 1862 the Soldier's Aid Society, of Wilton township was organized and worked earnestly and effectually in the good cause. The officers of this Society were, Wm.McNaghten, President, F. P. Hubbert, Secretary, A. J. Friend, J. L. Reed, and D. Mahanna,Relief Committee. This Committee raised, within a day or two, the sum of $675 in cash, and through the years of 1862--3--4, in cash and donations, over $1,500.00. In 1862, J. M. Smith encouraged enlistments, by paying $2.00 to every volunteer, and at one time paid out $108.00.
The ladies of Wilton took an active part, and maintained during the War, an organization, forming a part of the County Sanitary Commission. Few can call to mind the entire list of ladies who belonged. The following are the names of a few who perhaps,by taking a more active part, are remembered: Mrs. S. Dodge, Mrs. M. K. Pomeroy, who were Presidents, Mrs. I. K. Terry, Mrs. James Ledgerwood, who were Treasurers, Mrs. D. Burk, who was Corresponding Secretary from the first, Mesdames McNaghten, Pratt, McIntire and Hobert. Many others took an active part, and at frequent intervals would meet at Mrs. Burk's or Mrs. McIntire's and make piccalilli, pick lint, make bandages, and other needed hospital necessaries, for which many a soldier thanked the unknown benefactors.
Mrs. Dodge learning that pillows were a scarce and much needed article in the hospitals, donated a fine feather bed, and the ladies met at Mrs. McIntire's and made a great number of small pillows out of it. As a sample of how those noble men remembered their benefactors, when they knew whom to credit, we cite the following incident as related to us by Mrs. Burk:
A company of Soldiers from Cedar county were taken into private houses and given a good meal of victuals. Nine were taken in by Mr. D. Burk, and when through with their meal, wished to pay for it, but Mr. Burk refused, only requesting that they should report, when they returned home from the War. Years after, agreeable to promise, a gentleman called upon Mr. Burk, and reported that he was one of two who survived, of the number who were entertained by him, and he called to renew thanks for himself and his seven slain comrads.
Going back to 1860 again, we notice the following persons who came to Wilton & engaged in business:
E. E. Bacon commenced to clerk for Frank Bacon and continued until 1867, when he opened a hardware store. He sold out to Messrs. Hall & Kiser in the spring of 1875, and removed to Los Angelos, Cal., for his health.
Mr. A. F. Strickland, who engaged in the harness and agricultural implement business with Mr. John Addis.
In 1861, C. Hucke started in the harness business and continued until 1868, since which time he has followed the butchering business.
In 1862, A. V. Jewell commenced in the grocery business, and sold out to Earhart & Hixon in ' 63.
In 1863, the order of A. F. & A. M., Wilton Lodge No. 167, was organized, with James H. Leech W. M.
In the fall of " 63, Messrs. Brigham & Romulous Reed started in the dry goods business, in the brick store, corner of Cedar and Fourth Streets, previously occupied by Mr. Dodge, and continued until 1866, when they closed out and moved away.
In this year Earhart & Hixon bought the grocery business of A. V. Jewell, and continued until 1866, when they sold out to N. Michaels.
F. Miller engaged in grain buying this year, and in the years 1866--9, carried on a general merchandise business, in the G. A. R. building, and afterwards where the Grange store now is.
In 1864, Wilton township was cleared from draft by paying the sum of $1,800.
In this year Wm. Bacon commenced to clerk for F. Bacon, and in 1876, started in the clothing business with A. C. Cooper, in the brick building south of the bank.
Mr L. Davis, also came this year, and carpentered until 1869, since which time he has engaged in the furniture business.
Mr. L. L. Lane , arrived this year in April, and bought out the drug business of M. K. Pomeroy, which business he has continued most of the time up to the present.
Mr. S. Strohm started in the lumber business this year, and kept his yard where F. Bacon's two brick store buildings now stand.
Among the commences of 1865, were G. M. Frenzel, who built his present place of residence and place of business, where he has since kept saloon.
Dr. Fuller, who remained until 1866.
Mr. G. Graaf, who started a tailoring business, afterwards adding merchant tailoring, which business is now carried on by his sons, Hanry and Herman.
C. Thomsen, who started in the boot and shoe business, and whose sign is now to be seen of Fourth Street.
John Wise, who started in the tin and stove business, which business he followed until 1872, when he sold out and engaged in the employ of the C. R. I. & P. R. R.
John Wiley moved up from Muscatine, and opened in the grocery business, and in the spring commenced to act as agent for the United States Express Company, which occupations he follows at the present time.
In this year, J. J. Rider, seeing the need of better facilities for handling grain, erected the first elevator building on the ground now occupied by Dow's elevator.
A. C. Blizzard started the first clothing store in this year, in company with Aaron Crisman, on the corner of Cedar and Fourth Streets, in the frame built by Mr. Welcher, for a drug store. Mr. Blizzard was one of the early comers. About the year 1856, he worked for Mr. Wildasin, on his farm a mile south of town, afterwards was employed by J. J. Rider, and still later by F. Bacon, as clerk until the War, when he enlisted in Company D, Eleventh Iowa. He served his time, was promoted to a Lieutenancy, and re-enlisted for another three years. Mr. Blizzard purchased the interest of Mr. Crisman, and continued the business until the fire of August 20th, 1874, burned him out of business.
We omitted the name of Joseph Ours, when speaking of 1861, and will now say that Mr. Ours started a livery stable in connection with the hotel, then called the Wilton House, but afterwards called Ours House. He also took an interest in the hotel business with D. Harker, who was at the time proprietor. In July, !867, Mr. Ours commenced running the Tipton Hack, and carrying the mails between these points, and continued four years. In 1873, he again took the hotel, then called the Reed House, and carried on the hotel business until December, 1875, at which time he sold out to Aaron Baggs, who was landlord until the hotel burned April 19th,1876.
In 1866, considerable business was done in Wilton and a number of valuable improvements made.
Of the men who became identified with the business interests of Wilton this year, were A. W. Stryker, who, in company with L. H. Covell, started in the dry goods business, in the corner brick lately occupied by the Farmer's & Citizens' Bank. Mr. Stryker afterward bought Mr. Covell's interest in the store and continued two or three years in his own name--his son, Charles Stryker doing the business.
W, Griswold, who with his wife, Mrs. Julia Griswold, carried on the millinery business until his death in July, ' 74.
Fred Frieden, who opened a saloon, and continued in the same place until the fire of ' 74.
In the summer of this year, the Collegiate Institute building was built. It was then called Wilton Seminary, and was built by a joint stock company.
In the fall, the Grand Army of the Republic Hall was built by the returned soldiers of the late War. It is the building now owned by the Wilton Free Masons, and known now as Masonic Hall.
At the same time J. L. Reed erected the second elevator, a short distance west of the one built by Mr. Rider, and on the same side of the railroad.
Numerous other buildings and improvemants were made, work and money plenty, and Wilton again basked in the sunshine of prosperity.
It was no uncommon thing to see Cedar Street filled with farm wagons for the distance of two blocks waiting to discharge their loads into the elevators, and often the jam of wagons would continue until late in the night.
The following year, 1867, was as good, and during this year J. L. Reed built his brick bank building and started a private banking business, which he carried on very successfully until his death.
Dr. Wm. Ross, also, at the same time, built his fine three-story brick store, opposite Mr. Reed's, on Cedar Street.
In 1867, the following persons commenced in business, and became residents of Wilton.
Dr. W. H. Baxter, who came from Moscow, where he had practiced Medicine since 1852.
Dr. C. E. Witham, from Ohio, who opened an office in Ross' building, where he continues to hold forth.
G. W. Rummel, who commenced and carried on a tinning and stove business, until he sold out to Oscar Shaw, in 1872. In 1874 he took a half interest with Mr. Shaw, and early in ' 76 sold his interest, and soon engaged in the dry goods and grocery business, with M. G. Witmer, they buying H. W. Scott's business and good will.
C. B. Strong, who, on January 1st, purchased of T. Lewis, the stock of groceries formerly owned by Mr. Jewell. Mr. Strong still continues in the business.
D. Ruff, who started in the boot and shoe business and still continues.
George Stemm, who embarked in the harness business, which occupation he still follows.
F. C. Conant, who, in November, started a photograph gallery, in the building occupied by Mr. Stryker's store.
J. H. Fox, who in the spring, and in the year 1870, started a lumber yard, and also ran the hack to Tipton, and carried the mails until July 1st,1875.
In August of this year, the first newspaper was started, under the name of " Wilton Chronicle," edited and published by Baker & Thompson.
In the spring of 1868, J. L. Reed sold his elevator to J. G. Lyford & Co. The firm was J. G. Lyford & D. T. Gilman. These gentlemen bought and shipped grain, and Mr. Reed, for a time, withdrew from the grain business.
The same season, M. C. Ott bought the meat market business of John Thede, and carrying on the business ( except a short interval ) until he sold out his business to the Farmer's Butchering Association, May 1st, 1875.
H. W. Scott also started in business this year. He bought F. Miller's stock of dry goods and groceries, which were then contained in the building now occupied by the Grange store. Mr. Scott continued until the spring of 1876, when he sold out to Rummel & Witmer, his store then being in Butterfield's brick building, corner of Cedar and Fourth Streets.
This year Dr. Woodhouse opened, for a short time, an office in Wilton, but poor health soon obliged him to retire.
The first event of the year 1869, was the burning of J. G. Lyford & Co.'s elevator, in January, which took fire about four o'clock in the morning and by day-break was a heap of smoking ruins together with several thousand bushels of grain. It was only by the most desperate efforts that Mr. Rider's elevator was saved.
In April of this year, J. E. Myers started a second hardware store in B. F. Tufts' building, south of Dr. Ross' drug store.
W. A. Cooper became a resident of Wilton this year, and engaged in various occupations; was in the mercantile business with C. Witmer in 1871--2. He afterwards clerked for F. Bacon, and early in 1876, engaged in the clothing business with W. H. Bacon.
L. T. Sheets, also, came this year, and in 1873, bought the livery business of J. H. Fox, and still carries on the business.
In 1870, J. J. Rider sold his elevator to C. H. & T. T. Dow, who have since carried on the business.
In the summer of this year, F. Bacon built the fine double brick store building, on the corner of Cedar and Fourth Streets, now occupied by his dry goods store, the hardware store of O. Shaw.
In 1872, A. N. VanCamp bought an interest in D. A. W. Perkins' law and insurance business, and not long afterwards bought Mr. Perkins' entire interest. We should have stated the Mr. Perkins moved to Wilton from Durant about the year 1868; was the first Mayor of Wilton, and held that office until he removed from town in the year of 1872.
In 1872 M. C. Ott built the brick meat market on south side of Fourth Street.
In this year, Dr. A. A. Cooling located in Wilton, and entered into partnership with Dr. Witham in the practice of medicine.
Dr. A. O. Mudge arrived the same year, and has practiced dentistry to the present.
O. Shaw purchased an interest with Mr. Rummel in the tin and stove business this year.
In the spring of 1873, Messrs. Warren and Thomas Witham built a flax mill in the south-west part of town, and encouraged farmers to cultivate flax. The enterprise, though meeting at first with fair success, was abandoned after the second season, on account of the removal of the import duty on jute, which immediately took the place of flax so much as to render its production unprofitable.
The events of 1874 will always be remembered with special interest by those who had their homes in Wilton. The first event was the discovery of the fossil remains of the Wilton Mastodon, which was discovered and dug up a short distance south of the corporation line, on the 20th day of June, A. D. 1874. What gives especial importance to this discovery is that the bones are the largest ever found. The length of the scapula ( shoulder blade ) is three feet and five inches long, and two feet and five inches wide in the widest place, and weighs fifty and one-half pounds. Some of the vertebrae measured eight and one-half inches in diameter. Only a part of the bones were recovered. A portion of them are now in the possession of Dr. Witham, but the greatest portion, and the finest specimens were purchased by Prof. Woodman and taken away.
On the 7th day of June, 1874, the Farmer's & Citizens Bank was organized and officers elected. The stock---$50,000---was all taken in less than six weeks by the best business men in Wilton and vicinity, a majority of them being well-to-do farmers, which at once made the new institution reliable and very popular.
Thursday, the 20th day of August, in the year 1874, will be an epoch in the annals of Wilton. The town had just entered upon a fall business of unexampled prosperity. The products of thousands of surrounding fertile acres, attracted by the excellent prices and shipping facilities here, had begun to pour through this gateway to the East, and business of every kind quickened under the impulse of dollars thus thrown into circulation. Wednesday was a field day, and Thursday was fast following in its wake, when suddenly, at a few minutes before three o'clock, the ever dreaded cry of fire ! ---now rendered doubly dreadful by instant consciousness of the parched condition of everything and the absence of any adequate means of resistance through the streets!
The fire began in Reed & Dow's elevator, on Third, or railroad street. The cause is not certainly known. It is generally attributed to sparks from a locomotive, but there are those who affirm that the fire was first inside the building. The dense black smoke drifted up and across a little east of north, hanging like a pall over the now thoroughly alarmed village. Flames soon followed the smoke and wrapped the tall building from foundation to roof ridge, the wind, which quickened with the heat, flinging them over the narrow street in such a manner as to speedily disperse the brave men who were on the roofs of Steiner's buildings making unavailable efforts to save them. Other men were striving to save the valuable steam elevator a few rods west belonging to J. G. Lyford, but all to no purpose. It was but a few pregnant moments after the seizure of Steiner's buildings before the frame tenements occupied by Rexroth, Lantry and Opitz, and then the elevator opposite them, were a seething mass of flame. Then it did begin to look as if Wilton must burn!
Attacked both in side and rear, the buildings north of Steiner's fronting on Cedar Street were taken in quick succession. First, Illingsworth's two small frames---one occupied by Pearno's barber shop and the other by a harness shop. Next, Graaf & Sons' two-story frame, occupied by Graaf Bros., with a large stock of clothing, most of which was saved. Then there was a narrow street where one more desperate attempt was made to stay the flames. But there was no organization, but little water and comparatively no facilities, and the willing and brave men were soon forced to give over the unequal contest.
" Save the east side !" was now the cry, " or the whole town will go!" The undertaking looked almost hopeless. Opposite the raging fire was a row of wooden buildings with fire-traps of awnings reaching out, and as if it were inviting destruction. Men threw water upon them while the heat would permit them to stay in the street, and then opened doors to dash it out, or poured it down from over the roofs, which were now well occupied. This, together with a most fortunate change of the wind from south-west to south, under Providence won the battle. But all this time the hungry fire was marching on up the west side of the street, and much more rapidly than we are telling it. Fred Frieden's two-story frame, occupied as a saloon below and a dwelling above, was quickly run over to catch the old frame building with a brick front, belonging to J. L. Reed, and occupied by G. T. Coffee for a general store. A two-story brick building also belonging to Mr. Reed, and occupied below by the Grange store was next. Into the upper part of this Dr. Mudge had but a day or two moved both his dental office and residence. He lost nearly everything; part of the goods below were saved. The fine and handsomely finished brick occupied by Reed's Bank was the next victim. The cashier took the money and most valuable books and papers from the vault, and locked it up to care as it might for the remainder. U. P. Scovil's book store and restaurant followed into the fiery baptism, so rapidly that very little was saved; and the same was the case with Hubbert's, also a frame. Mr. F. C. Conant, who lived upstairs, had an ill wife to remove and lost a good part of his furniture. Another frame belonging to D. T. Gilman, and occupied by C. J. Hutchinson with a large and valuable drug stock---but little of which was saved; then Blizzards Clothing Store, and then another street and another chance for life.
And here the successful fight to which we have alluded on the east side was supplemented by a like effort on the north, and with the aid of the streets and brick buildings on both opposite corners, the hungry fire was compelled to take a large dwelling in the rear of Blizzard's, belonging to John Wicke, and be content. But all this time flying brands had been threatening buildings in almost every part of town. Men, women and children were watching---and saving--- their homes. But the German Lutheran Church some three blocks from the fire, and one of the best church buildings in the city, seems to have been unnoticed till too late; the parsonage, which was close by, going with it. This concludes the sorry enumeration, and does not represent the events of much more than a single hour after the first alarm was given. The Davenport Fire Department was telegraphed for help within fifteen minutes after the fire was discovered, but although they made all haste to respond by a special train that made twenty-five miles in twenty-four minutes, the fire had substantially run its course when the Fire King steamer and Rescue hand engine arrived. They went manfully at work and exhausted the supply of water in playing upon the vault of Reed's Bank and the piles of burning grain for an hour or more. They did all they could and did it willingly and promptly, impressing all both with their gentlemanliness and efficiency. Their prompt effort in our behalf, as well as that of Superintendent Kimball, and railway company, was we think, fully appreciated by the citizens of the town.
The losses and insurance we have been at considerable pains to collect as correctly as is consistent with the excitement attendant upon such an event, and think the following statement is full and substantially reliable:
Loss Insurance Reed & Dow's elevator--------------------------------$6,500 $3,000 Grain in same-----------------------------------------6,000 2,500 Lyford's elevator------------------------------------10,000 6,000 Grain in same-----------------------------------------5,000 2,000 Steiner's brick and stone buildings-------------------4,000 1,000 Fixtures and furniture----------------------------------500 ------ A. Rexroth's house------------------------------------1,000 ------ S. Rexroth's goods in same------------------------------300 ------ A. Roman's house--------------------------------------1,200 ------ Lantry's goods------------------------------------------300 ------ A. Opitz' house and shops-----------------------------1,500 ------ Illingsworth's buildings--------------------------------500 ------ Pearno's barber shop & harness shop---------------------200 ------ Graaf & Sons' building--------------------------------1,500 1,000 Graaf Bros. goods in same-----------------------------1,100 1,000 Fred Frieden's buildings, goods & c.--------------------900 ------ J. L. Reed's buildings--------------------------------7,500 ------ Coffee's store----------------------------------------2,500 ------ Grange store--------------------------------------------400 ------ Dr. Mudge's fixtures and furniture--------------------1,000 ------ U. P. Scovil's building-------------------------------1,000 ------ Fixtures and goods------------------------------------1,500 ------ Dowding's jewlry----------------------------------------100 ------ F. P. Hubbert's building------------------------------1,900 ------ D. T. Gilman's building-------------------------------1,200 500 Dry goods and Conant's furniture----------------------4,000 ------ Hutchinson's drug stock-------------------------------3,500 2,500 Blizzard's building-----------------------------------1,000 700 Blizzard's stock----------------------------------------700 2,000 Wicke's Dwelling--------------------------------------1,000 ------ German Lutheran Church--------------------------------4,000 4,000 (for church and parsonage) Parsonage---------------------------------------------1,000 Pastor's library----------------------------------------600 ------ Damage to other buildings-----------------------------2,500 unk'n Total------------------------------------------------75,000 26,200No small damage was sustained from the heat by buildings opposite the fire, some of the occupants of which showed grit enough to lock up their goods and direct their endeavors to the checking of the fire. Much damage also resulted to stocks of goods which were summarily moved from buildings that did not burn. The day was unusually warm, which, added to the heat of the fire, made the air in the streets of our burning town almost unendurable. Fortunately a good many teams came in from the country, and were the means of saving nearly all of the stocks from the burning buildings.
The night that followed the day was a sad one to many who had lost all, and a busy one to many more who were gathering their household goods from all corners of the town, for a great many dwellings had been deserted, as it seemed at one time as though the whole town would burn.
The next morning presented a sad sight---smoking ruins covering what had been the day before the busiest and most valuable part of Wilton. But encouragement was soon given by Mr. J. L. Reed, who, while the standing walls of his bank were still hot, set teams to work hauling material for new buildings and was the first to commence rebuilding, followed almost simultaneously by the rest, and in less than three months the district so cleanly burned over was rebuilt with better and larger buildings than those destroyed.
During the year 1874, the people of Kansas and Nebraska suffered severely from the devastation caused by the grasshopper plague, and called for help from the more fortunate sister states. Iowa responded nobly to the call, and no town in Iowa did more to aid the sufferers than Wilton. Large donations of clothing, provisions, and seed, were forwarded, amounting in all to over a thousand dollars. In one day, November 26th, the day of National thanksgiving, there was raised at a festival and supper, given by the Ladies' Aid Society, $157.00; at the Congregational church $15.00; and at the Lutheran church $34.00, making in all a cash collection of $206.30, raised in one day. The people of Wilton have always responded liberally in aid of the unfortunate.
The year 1875 presents few items of importance other than those of every day occurrence. The most important was the building of the new brick Public School Building. A vote was taken at the general school election, March 8th, on the question of issuing $10,000 in school bonds for the building of a new school building. The result of the vote was for bonds and tax, 131; against bonds and tax 126; majority for bonds and tax, 5. Work was commenced on July 17th, 1875, and on December 30th following, the building was completed and formally opened by a dedicatory address by Judge Brannan, of Muscatine.
July 26th, J. C. Sharp purchased the City Mills of the estate of Wm. McNaghten.
During this year our town calaboose was built, and two fine brick store buildings on the west side of Cedar Street, the first on the corner of Fourth and Cedar Streets where A. C. Blizzard's clothing store stood before the fire, and the other on the west side of Cedar Street between Frieden's and Graaf.
In the afternoon of the 4th day of November, a calamity befell our town, through an accident that happened to Mr. J. L. Reed, which terminated in his death at an early hour the next morning. Mr. Reed was driving in his buggy, and when near the residence of Owen Syas, his horse became frightened and unmanageable, by which Mr. Reed was thrown violently to the ground, causing injuries which terminated, as stated, in his death. Mr. Reed had, for a number of years, been one of the leading and most enterprising business men of Wilton, and to him, more than any other person, is the town indebted to for its speedy recovery from the fire of the previous year. Mr. Reed came to Wilton in the spring of 1857, and engaged in business with a limited amount of means, and in the comparatively short time of eighteen years had amassed a considerable fortune.
In April of this year, Dr. C. M. Hobby established his home with us and opened an office over the bank. Mr. Hobby had, some two years previous, opened an office in Wilton, but after a practice of a year, removed to Michigan.
In the fall of this year, P. S. Hollingsworth purchased the book store and restaurant business of U. P. Scovil.
January First, of the Centennial year, was ushered in by ringing of bells and blowing of steam whistles. It is doubtful that another town in the State of the same size, could, or did, out-do Wilton in those outward manifestations of patriotism. Wilton, as a town, had seen but little more than one-fifth of the one hundred years, ( the age of our Republic,) yet our town at this time is a city compared to those of the times we celebrate this Centennial year. With a population of thirteen hundred and forty-four ( exclusive of North Wilton, which is out of the corporate limits ) and with about forty business houses, six churches, and two new ones contemplated, and since built. With a fine new Public High School building, and a Collegiate Institute, the people had every reason to rejoice.
In February, Messrs. Hall & Kiser sold their hardware and agricultural business to W. F. Hayford of Durant.
In March, the two papers published in Wilton---the "Exponent" and " Herald "---were consolidated and a new paper--- the "Review"---started.
These close the principal events down to the Fourth of July, 1876, the time designed to close our history. We have found it impossible to include a mention of all and everything that has been said and done during nearly a quarter of a century in a pamphlet the size of this, and many sibjects of interest have been unintentionally, and others unavoidably omitted.
Hoping that our readers will pardon us for any deficiencies they may discover, we will close by giving an account of the manner Wilton celebrated the Centennial Fourth---a day long to remembered by our citizens. We copy the account as given in the "Review" of the 6th.
Back to the Wilton History Index Page
Back to the Muscatine County Gen Web Page