Tama County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Star – Clipper Supplement
Traer, Iowa, February 4, 1887
History of North Tama
By Daniel Connell

Chapter XIV

Like people in general, where there is opportunity, our old settlers were attempted town builders. There was supposed to be “millions in it.” There must be a blacksmith shop. Were that is, there is a need for a store. They were sufficient to constitute a town. Sometimes they had a town without that much.

The late James wood, of Vinton, related to the writer he was in search of a location. At Cedar Rapids he was told of Vinton and advised to go there. With his family in a prairie schooner he started up the Cedar for Vinton. In course of time he concluded he had lost the bearing, but traveled on. Finally he met a team and asked the driver of it how far it was to Vinton. The man arose in the wagon and surveyed the scene for a time and replied: “I think you are now on the public square. That stake you see in the grass over there is the north-west corner of it.” That, if memory serves me correctly, was in 1849.

In 1855 Christopher Hester laid out a town on the northwest quarter of section 11, Perry, and named it Charlottsville in honor of a daughter. When the writer first saw the town it was larger than Vinton at the advent of Mr. Wood six years before, as Mr. Hester had a store house and very good stock.

We cannot recall who Mr. Hester’s successor was, but probably Mr. Lucas, who, in 1856, had a large stock and transacted a heavy business. George W. Free followed and commanded a good trade. He sold to A.H. Reeder. For unknown reasons he claimed to possess unlimited means, and for a few weeks the town flourished in imagination. He purchased the store from Mr. Free on credit, planned for a brick store 40 x 60 feet, two stories high, and got the cellar dug, subscribed $300 for a church edifice and mailed supposed drafts for a heavy stock of groceries from New Orleans. After waiting a time he announced the goods were at Iowa city, and that next day he should go to Vinton and send teams form that town.

That night he married an estimable lady, arose in the morning and departed on foot, and Charlottsville saw him no more. Mr. Free smelled a rodent of large size. He followed and overtook him at Independence and procured a watch. Mr. Free took possession of the store. After him J. L. Moore had it, and he removed the stock to Traer.

Charles Loop had a blacksmith shop and D. Barbour carried on the boot and shoe business for a year or two. Robert Hugh for a number of years had a hotel and a paying custom. The postoffice was usually in the store while that was open. The name was changed to West Union. It was a beautiful location – much more beautiful than its successor.

A town was talked of to be on the land now owned by J. N. Green by Messrs. Rolf and Whitney. Clark Brothers had one in contemplation on section 31, Geneseo, and H. C. Green one at the forks. None of these got farther than paper.

In 1855 George Lyman and John Connell laid out, platted, recorded sold lots in the village of Buckingham, on the southeast quarter of section 33 in Buckingham and northeast quarter on section 4 in Perry – on both sides of the town line, it is seen, which was the cause of much irritation in subsequent years. As it has been said here-in at that time Congressional lines were not considered. The sub-division of the settlement was overlooked.

In July, 1856, Dr. W. C. Stanberry, of Vinton, opened a store in the house of W. D. Hitchner with D. Connell as agent. In November a store house having been built in the village the stock was removed thither. In the spring of 1857 Mr. Connell purchase the stock and carried on business there until 1873, when he removed it to Traer. For nine years there was no other store there.

In 1865 Q. D. Hartshorn erected a store house, stocked it well, had a good trade and sold out. J. L. Graham erected a two-story store building, had a general stock and changed to hardware. C. C. Collins joined with him. Mr. Collins afterward put up a building, opened a general store, had a good trade and removed to Traer. G. W. Morehouse put a large stock in the Graham building, purchasing the house.

Barrett & Thomas built a store room and filled it with a general stock. Mr. Thomas purchase Barrett’s interest, continued in the business there and removed to that receptecal (sic) of Buckingham business, in fact Buckingham enlarged - Traer.

John Zehrung, in a store room erected by Dr. Daniel, had a drug store for a few years. He sold to O. D. Bonney who continued and removed to Traer.

Ed Vaughn for a few years done a good harness trade, also the Shropshire Bros.

William Bracken had a tin shop and hardware and done well. He removed to Traer and worked for Dennis & Averill.

Russell Jones carried on the boot and shoe business and went to Traer with it.

A Mr. Nichols opened a saloon. After a few weeks some men grading railroad one evening took possession and Mr. Nichols quit.

John and David Gault carried on the blacksmith business. They were succeeded by John Gross, who went to the war and was killed. Adam Hart followed. Later for several years Samuel Hyde was the “Village Blacksmith.” Work being plenty and more that he could do, Francis Philp opened another, and both were busy. Mr. Philp died, and Hyde followed his neighbors to Traer.

There was also a wagon shop. The Congregationalists erected a church in 1867. The Methodist also built one in 1868-9 and a parsonage. Dr. W. A. Daniel was a practicing physician for thirty years. He is there still, but retired. Dr. Gage and Dr. Rose were in practice for a few years, and for fifteen years Dr. J. A. Ladd, who removed to Traer. Dr. Smith was a young physician of promise, who resided for a time – 1860-2 – at West Union.

There were a number of carpenters at various times, but James A. Stewart was there from first to last – twenty years. He died in Traer in 1884.

The steam sawmill has been mentioned. The end came, and all that was movable of Buckingham – store buildings and stocks, houses, shops, churches and people –removed to Traer, and little but the school building remains. At the time that was built it was the second best school building in Tama county.

Continued Next Week

Chapter XV

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