Table of Contents

History of Clayton County, Iowa
Chapter VII


The early settlers of Iowa took a deep interest in the cause of education, which interest has always been maintained, so that to-day illiteracy among the native born is almost unknown. Clayton County pioneers were no exception to the rule, the school-house being erected as soon as a sufficient number of scholars could be gotten together for the purpose of receiving instruction. The first schools in the county were private or select schools, but the public school system was adopted as soon as a sufficient fund was created for that purpose.

By an act passed by the first General Assembly, and approved by the Governor, Jan. 24, 1847, the office of school fund commissioner was created, and Eliphalet Price was the first person elected to that office in Clayton County. A sketch of Judge Price will be found in the chapter of "Illustrious and Prominent Dead." He was succeeded in 1850 by Samuel Murdock, who served with ability and fidelity until 1858. He was succeeded by H.S. Granger, and he by Isaac Mathews, in whose term the office was abolished. Judge Murdock's biography appears in connection with the history of the bar of Clayton County, of which he is the father. On the subject of "School Fund Commissioners," Hon. John Everall, in an address delivered before the Teachers' Institute in 1875, thus speaks:

"By the old law, in force previous to 1858, the man at the head of the school interests of the county was the school fund commissioner. He had the power, and it was his duty to organize new districts and establish their boundaries. He was not obligated to confine his lines to the township boundaries. The center of a settlement was generally made the center of a district, and hence some of the peculiarly shaped districts we now have. It was also his duty to make an abstract of the reports of the district secretaries for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, but his most responsible duty was taking charge of and apportioning the school fund, a duty now falling to the county auditor, this apportionment (page 357) being the interest of the proceeds of the sale of the sixteenth section of land in each township, set apart by the General Government for school purposes. The salary of this commissioner was such pay for his services as the sheriff, clerk and district attorney were pleased to allow him, subject to the approval of the superintendent of public instruction, and amounted in this county to about $300 per year, to which was added something for contingent expenses. The law made it the duty of directors to examine teachers, touching their qualifications to teach spelling, reading, writing, geography, history and English grammar, but I never heard of a Board of Directors doing it. Districts had a right to levy a tax for building school-houses and contingent expenses, but if they wanted any more money than the commission furnished for the teachers, they had to raise it by voluntary subscription, or by an assessment of so much a head on pupils.

"Of course the school accomodations were not in those days what they are now. The first house in which I taught was of logs, with a 'shake' roof that was decidedly shaky. When new it had been the shelter of a family; when too far gone for that it had answered the purpose of a stable, and -- then it was our schoolroom. The transition was not sudden, for I remember that the Director, pointing to an old fireplace back of the extemporized desk where I was to preside in all my first-term dignity, said, "John, thar's an old hen on fifteen eggs in thar; she'll be off in a few days, and I'll be obliged if you will watch 'er a little and not let the children disturb 'er!" And so I watched for the chickens while I taught the children and all came off right as near as I can remember."

In 1849 Clayton County had 403 persons of school age, and the apportionment of money that year amounted to $238.20. In point of numbers Clayton was the twenty-fourth county in the State. The following year 607 persons of school age were reported. In 1852 there were of school age 1,558 persons. The next year 2,823. At this time there were seven schools in the county, with 330 names enrolled, five male and four female teachers, the average compensation being about $12 per month. This was probably exclusive of board, as the teacher in those days "boarded 'round," as it was called. Clayton was now about the fourteenth county in point of school population. During the next ten years Clayton made rapid strides as compared with other counties. In 1863 it had 8,800 (page 358) persons of School age, being exceeded in such population by only two counties in the State. There were organized 145 sub-districts, being fifteen more than any other county had. There were 244 teachers with an enrollment of 5,886, and an average attendance of 3,411. In 1872 there were 11,168 persons of school age, twenty-one township districts, 136 sub-districts and seventeen independent districts. There were ninety-five frame, twenty brick, twenty log and nineteen stone school-houses, valued at $135,321. The average compensation of teachers was males, $40.68; females, $26.04. In 1874 there were twenty township districts, 139 sub-districts and eighteen independent distraicts, and number of persons of school age about the same as in 1872. In 1876 there were nineteen district townships, 132 sub-districts and thirty-two independent districts. The average compensation paid male teachers was $40.43; female teachers, $28.74. there were then 11,543 persons of school age, with an enrollment of 7,804 and an average attendance of 4,551. There were 106 frame, twenty-five brick, twenty-four stone and fifteen log school-houses, valued at $153,285. In 1882 there were twenty district townships, 132 sub-districts and thirty-five independent districts. There were employed in the schools ninety male and 198 female teachers, with an average monthy compensation for males, $35.07 and females, $26.46. The number of persons of school age was 10,413, a falling off from 1876. there were 11 frame, twenty-six brick, twenty stone and six log school-houses valued at $150,145.

In 1857 Hon. Maturin F. Fisher, of this county, was elected State Superintendent of Public Schools. He prepared a bill for a new law on the common-school question, and presented it to the Legislature. After material changes the bill passed. In Mr. Fisher's report for 1858 convincing argurments are set forth in favor of the bill as prepared. From that report it is learned there were then in the county 5,147 persons of school age, ninety-three organized districts, seventy-two schools, forty-six male and forty-seven female teachers. The average salary for males was $19.70 a month, and for females, $9.72. There were raised that year $1,717.72 by voluntary subscription for teachers. There were six brick, five stone and twenty five log school-houses.

The new law provided for a tax for teachers' fund, and gave each county a superintendent of public schools, whose duties were very nearly the same as now. For salary, he had an amount equal to (page 359) the pay of the clerk of the District Court, augmented by as much as the district presidents at their meeting might allow him, his entire pay not in any event, howeer, to exceed, by more than one-eighth that of clerk. The salary in this county was $500.

From that address of Mr. Everall, already quoted from , the following is extracted:
"In the spring of 1858 our first County Superintendent, Alonzo Brown, was elected. He was, at the time, comparatively a stranger and for his nomination and election, the friends of education were in a large measure indebted to Judge Murdock. I have, in the past, often spoken to you of him and of Mr. Emory, his sccessor. I was a frequent visitor at both their homes, and am aware that I may be too partial for a historian. About a month after Mr. Brown's election I obtained my first certificate. A history of that transaction, and the effect it had upon me when afterward called upon to examine teachers, I gave you on a previous occasion. The history of the High-School building, and its crumbling foundation, at Garnavillo, which foundation I have told you I regarded a fitting monument to the menory of the Legislature that repealed the law, is familiar to the most of you. The law provided that the directors of each township, should, at a yearly competitive examination, select three of their best scholars who should receive tuition free at the High-School.

"Mr. Brown believed that the true way to improve our schools was to improve our teachers and excite a deep interest among patrons. The latter he undertook by holding meetings throughout the county, in most of the townships, where teachers, parents and children were brought together. These meetings were highly successful. For the improvement of teachers he had, though not without opposition, a Teachers' School at Garnavillo in the fall of 1858. As our teacher, many of us met here, for the first time since that time, and has probably educated more teachers than any other person in the county, and has, besides, done very much for our educational interests. At the close of the school we held our first institute. About thirty-five teachers wee present. It was not unlike institutes we have attended since. Some of us were deficient in scholarship, but many were there who would stand well to the front at your institutes of to-day. And many of the discussions, if they could be reproduced, would, I think, convince some of the teachers of the present institutes that there is not so (page 360) much of the new under the sun as they seem to imagine. Of course there was the usual arithmetical puzzles, the usual amount of sparring and sulking among the singers, and lastly, I can assure you, there was the usual amount of flirtation. If any of the 'schoolma'ams' went home alone in the evening it was not the fault of the boys! I always dream of those old friends at our first School and Institute as they appeared then, though I know it to be a false picture. Time changes us all.

"During this institute this association was organized, with Prof. Briggs as President and W.H. Muzzy as Secretary. The winter after its organization the association met at Elkader. The minutes are lost, but I remember that we had a good meeting. A Mr. Ainsworth, of West Union, delivered an excellent address. It was our custom to hold a June session. The June session of that year was at National. The minutes of this meeting are also lost. We had a live meeting, and, for the first itme at our meetings, the Bible question was discussed. After a spirited debate, a resolution declaring it the duty of every teacher to read the Bible in school was lost, by a close vote, and a substitute adopted, which declared that it should be left to the discretion of the teachers.

"It is to be mentioned of Superintendent Brown, that he never acted as presiding officer. Notwithstanding his activity in educational matters, his constant attendance, his ever ready word in season, I never knew him to preside at a teachers' meeting. During the war he was elected President of the association, but he never accepted even that compliment from the institute. The President of the first institute was E.A. Crary. At our second institute, many of us met for the first time Mr. Emery. He brought with him quite a number of teachers from the neighborhood of Monona. Many had been attending his fall term of school, and between these and those who had been attending Mr. Briggs' school there was considerable rivalry.

"This Briggs school was one the teachers had put on foot. The High School having been abolished, several teachers clubbed together and hired Mr. Briggs to teach a two-months' fall term. About twenty-five of us attended, and I do not remember that we claimed any particular credit for spending our own money for the improvement of our own minds. For the encouragement of some who complain of hard times for teachers, I may say that $15 a month in summer and $25 in winter was then regarded (page 361) high wages. At this institute were over fifty teachers. The Journal, then published at Garnavillo, gives a long and highly favorable account of the session, rather flattering all who were connected with it. Mr. Emery presided, and John Everall was Secretary. I will take occasion to say that the account just mentioned was not from the pen of the secretary, but from that of the then editor of the Journal, friend Eiboeck.

"Our principal teachers were Messrs. Brown, Briggs and Emery, Mr. Smart running the musical department. It was here that friend Kingsley first appeared among us, and I will say to the ladies that, as there are exceptions to most rules, he may be an exception to the one I mentioned, that time changes us all, for to the best of my recollection he looked then just as he looks now! And that reminds me of a joke on Mr. Briggs, laid at Mr. Crosby's door. Mr. Crosby was a general favorite at our first institutes. Always ready with a telling story he delivered the first lecture on physiology to the teachers of the county. Some one, knowing that in Mr. Crosby's youth he had known Mr. Briggs, asked him how old he thought Mr. Briggs to be. 'Well,' said Mr. Crosby, 'that is just what older people used to ask of each other when I was a school-boy. Nobody ever knew then, and, of course, I can't tell now.'

"To return to Mr. Kingsley, who deserves more than a passing notice, at this institute he distinguished himself as a fleet runner (we played at 'goal' during recesses), and as a poet. Our leaders had been arguing for some time on a grammatical question, something about a trumpet, and whether 'the winds blew the signal for the combat' or whether it was not, 'the signal blow winds,' ect. Kingsley, thinking with others that the question should be laid away, took occasion, at roll-call, to respond in several stanzas, turning the whole matter into riducule, as he has done with serious subjects several times since. Prof. Briggs came in just as Kingsley recited something about 'that old teacher Briggs' (I forget what he made Briggs to rhyme with, but I am sure no offense was intended), and the Professor evidently thought those Monona fellows were hitting him. His combativeness was arounsed -- and being an old acquaintance I can say, privately, that this bump has a larger develpment on the Professor's head than many suppose -- and when his own name was called he responded sharply and sarcastically with a proverb sllightly changed, something about its being 'easier to contend with seven wise men who can render a (page 362) reason,' etc. This retort was a settler, and I am sure Mr Kingsley thought the Professor incapable of appreciating poetry. However, from the fact that he has read several poems at our meetings since that occasion, I conclude that he was not entirely discouraged.

"During this year association meetings were held at McGregor and at Strawberry Point. the institute in the fall of 1860 was held at Monona. Mr. Emery was now superintendent. The pay had so changed that he could not afford to give his full time to the work of his office, but, although not as active as Mr. Brown, he did good service, and the teachers became strongly attached to him. Mr. Briggs being at Pike's Peak, many of his pupils attended the fall term of Mr. Emery's school. The teachers at this institute were Mr. Barnes, Rev. J.R. Upton and the superintendent. Mr. Brown was there a portion of the time, and read a valuable address to the teachers. Again I pass over the meetings of the association, and come to the institute of 1861, held at Garnavillo. So far, the only schools in the county where teachers had attended in a body for the purpose of better preparing themselves for the work had been held at Garnavillo and at Monona. A large majority of the teachers in attendance at our meetings were from Garnavillo, Farmersburg and Monona Townships, which accounts for the extraordinary number of meetings held within the limits of those townships.

"Mr. Emery's fall term had been attended by a large number of teachers, and we all went to Garnavillo expecting a profitable time. We were not disappointed. At this time attendance upon the institute was not compulsory, but we had a large one, and one of the best ever held in the county. Prof. Putnam, of Indiana, conducted it, assisted by Mr. Brown. Prof. Cramer, our third superintendent, met us here for the first time. The teachers had become better acquainted, with each other and seemed to work more in harmony than ever before. This institute will never be forgotten by its members. At this meeting a fine edition of Bancroft's History of the United States, unabridged was presented to Mr. Brown by the teachers, and indeed it was a free-will offering. Already some of the teachers, including Kingsley and Crary, had gone to the front to help Uncle Sam with the Rebellion. We missed Kingsley, for he was always opposed to whipping. He and Miss Melvina Stewart were leading disputants on the "moral persuasion" question. We thought perhaps he had gone South to illustrate his argument. Monlux, Payne, Harrington and some (page 363) four or five others enlisted during this institute. At this session was started the Friday evening sociable.

"A profitable meeting of the association was held at Windsor the following winter. I remember that Mr. Emery here called attention to the damage done our schools by the continual change of teachers. His remarks would apply to the present with almost equal force. Prof. E.B. Wakeman addressed us, taking for his text the words of Commodore Foote when receiving the rebel general's sword at Donelson, 'General, I meant to take your fort of go to the bottom'! It was an appeal for earnestness and determination on the part of the teachers in hehalf of their schools, no matter what difficulties might be encountered. Up to the time of this meeting I had not, I think, been absent from a regularly called meeting of the teachers of the county since the first institute, and, so far as I know, the first gathering of teachers in the county. But at this time, from all accounts from the South, I thought Kingsley and the other boys needed help down there, I wanted to see Kingsley, to talk over 'moral suasion' with him, so I went to find him. Over a year afterward I found him in Arkansas, and, seated on a tree, overhanging the river nearly opposite Little Rock, we had a good chat. He confessed that he believed in whipping as a last resort!

"During the winter of 1863-'64, I was home for a short time, and met the teachers at Windsor, where a watch was presented to Superintendent Emery. When I returned to my regiment I bade him what we then knew was the final good-by. He was dying of consumption. Mr. Brown, then provost marshal, called with me at the time. He was healthy and stong and could not have dreamed that he was so soon to follow from the same dread disease. Both of these excellent men was called away in middle life. there were at least twenty-two members of this association in the United States service during the war of the Rebellion, not reckoning any that have become members since the war. I do not know how many of this number are living, but know that eight are dead. So far as I now but two died in battle. Daniel Payne and Seth Martin were their names; the first was killed in the charge on Vicksburg, the other at Chickamauga. Levi King, who was known to all the old teachers as an active member of the association, died in hospital in Jackson, Tenn. I made his acquaintance at my first examination before Mr. Brown. I saw him a few hours before his death. He was propped up in his bunk, in a tent, (page 364) delirious with fever, and imagined himself at one of these meetings. He recognized me and called upon me for remarks. We will cherish his memory."

Mr. Everall concluded in some general remarks on the objects of the association, urging the teachers to carry home something of profit from the meeting, and to remember that determination, earnestness and perseverance constitute the key to success. He referred to the incoming of the Centennial year of our national life as an excellent time for the young to make good resolves, and hoped the year might be a good one for keeping them. He wanted his young friends to have an object in life worth working for and fighting for, and he wanted them to go to work and attain it. He closed by repeating a very appropriate poem, of which we give the last verse:

Choose well the path in which you run,
Succeed by noble daring;
Then though the last, when once 'tis won,
Your crown is worth the wearing.
Then never fret, if left behine,
Nor slacken your endeavor;
But ever keep this truth in mind,
'Tis better late than never.

The Teachers' Institutes were continued without the lapse of a single year until 1873. In the spring of 1874 the General Assembly of the State passed an act which was approved by the Governor March 19, 1874, under which Normal Institutes were to be organized. The following is the act:

"SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Iowa, that section 1,769 of the code is hereby amended to read as follows: The county superintendent shall hold annually a Normal institute for the instruction of teachers and those who may desire to teach, and, with the concurrence of the superintendent of public instruction, procure such assistance as may be necessary to conduct the same at such time as the schools of the county are generally closed. To defray the expense of said institute, he shall require the payment of a fee of one dollar for each person attending the Normal Institute.

"SECTION 2. He shall monthly, and at the close of each institute, transmit to the county treasurer all moneys so received, including the State appropriation for institute, to be designated the "institute fund," together with the name of each person so contributing and the amount. The Board of Supervisors may appropriate such additional sum as may by them be deemed necessary (page 365) for the support of such institute. All disbursements of the institute fund shall be on the order of the county superintendent, and no order shall be drawn except for bills presented to the county superintendent, and approved by him for services rendered, or expenses incurred in connection with the Normal Institute."

The first institute held under this act was in August, 1874. J.F. Thompson, County Superintendent, delivered an excellent address before this institute, from which the following is extracted:

"I wish to remind you, fellow-teachers, that we are on probation in this Normal Institute. The eyes of a watchful public are upon us, and the other similar institutes that are being held throughout the State, and, if we succeed in accomplishing the good that we should do in these institutes, the effect will be felt upon the schools of the State, and, in the near future, it will be easy for the friends of popular education to secure from our law-makers a system of normal schools inferior to none in the Union. I need not say to you that I have had an anxious solicitude for the success of this institute, for it it succeeds in awakening the teachers and people to a realization of the needs of our common schools, and raising the standard of teachers' qualifications, it will give an impetus to education throughout the State, and tend to elevate the condition of our schools, and raise the dignity of the profession.

"I am glad to meet so many of you here to-night. True, as is generally the case, many of those who need the benefit of the normal school most are not here. The expense and trouble were to great, and the teachers' wages too small to justify their attendance, and I greatly fear that school officers will continue to feel that they pay such teachers fully enough for their services -- and who can blame them? Right here let me make a suggestion for your consideration. If you wish higher wages or a better situation, do your best to prepare yourself to fill a higher station. If you receive but $15 per month, try to earn $30, and when you receive $30, earn $50, if possible, and your efforts will ere long be appreciated, and the position you seek will come to you. Study at home, read works on teaching, attend normal schools, do everything in your power to excel in your profession, being assured that true excellence in any profession will be discovered and amply rewarded.

"This brings me to consider what we should accomplish at our Normal Institute, and I may state what I consider should be our objects, under three heads:

(page 366) "First, to obtain a more thorough knowledge of the branches we have to teach.

"Second, to learn the most improved methods of imparting that knowledge to others.

"Third to strengthen the bonds of union between us and our coworkers in the cause of education, and imbue us with a more exalted view of our work and love for our chosen profession.

[Transcription note: this next section was not transcribed - pg 366-369 - continuing mid-way down page 369]

(page 369 partial) Since 1874, the institutes have been held regularly every year, under the State law. The following is the attendance of each Norma Institute held in Clayton County since the adoption of the law of 1874:


The old law was defective, yet it did good work in its day, and was a fitting introduction to the more perfect law that established Normal Institutes. With the ushering in of this law at the beginning of Mr. Thompson's administration there was a decided change for the better. The attendance was much larger and teachers studied more vigorously than ever before. They seemed to realize that to advance in the profession and keep with the times would require hard study, and not only of the subject to be taught, but of the best means of presenting it to their classes. "Three things were characteristic of our first Normals," says Mr. Oathout, "books, fans and croquet."

Alonzo Brown, the first Superintendent of Public Schools for Clayton County, was born at Dryden, N.Y., March 6, 1821. When quite a boy he set out with his father, to explore the western part of the State, which was then new and thinly settled. He was (page 370) so pleased with it that he persuaded his father to emigrate, which he did soon afterward, locating in Chautauqua County. Here he grew to be a man, received his educaton, and by dint of hard work and close study he obtained a thorough knowledge of the English language. A friend thus writes of him:

"Here he stepped forth from the paternal roof a finished gentleman, an honest man with a mind stored with examples and precepts which would adorn a philosopher, and an education which any might be proud of, to act his part in the great drama of life. Like thousands of those who have risen to greatness in American, he commenced a school for the instruction of the young. Having a cheerful and pleasing countenance, with a happy faculty of imparting knowledge to others, he soon became the most popular teacher in the county. It was while engaged in this business that he procured a set of law books, and during his leisure hours he acquired, with hard labor and much toil, a knowledge of the law.

"He had heard of the Great West; of ocean prairies, of majestic rivers, far toward the setting sun. Here was a place for his genious and a field for his labor. With the same desire for adventure which fills every American mind, he turned his footsteps toward Iowa. In the summer of 1856 he settled at Garnavillo. He was not long among us ere his usefulness was discovered, and even before he had gained a legal residence among us, he was elected Justice of the Peace. For several years he held this office with satisfaction to the people and credit to himself.

"Iowa had changed her Constitution, and in 1858 adopted and promulgated a new code of laws, among which was a great and intricate system of schol laws. His mind clearly and quicly saw the advantages of such a system on the future welfare and happiness of our State, and with the utmost untiring energy he assisted in putting it in operation. He was almost unamimously elected Superintendent of Public Instruction for the county, and proved the right man in the right place at the right time. The new system was intricate; no one seemed to understand it. There was neglect and indifference about putting it into execution. He took hold of it with a master's hand, unfolded all its windings and mysteries, explained and analyzed in every part of the county, all its parts and sections, organized new school districts, gave plans for new school-houses, instructed teachers in their several duties, and organized a teacher's institute, which remains an honor to its founder, and a credit to its members.

(page 371) "During the war Mr. Brown was appointed United States Deputy Marshal, the duties of which he discharged with promptness and fidelity. When the Governor of Iowa issued an appearl to the people imploring them to send to our suffering soldiers sanitary supplies, this appeal touched the heart of this good and loyal man. He loved his country, and the thought that those who were fighting her battles, fighting for the flag he so dearly loved, were suffering for the necessaries of life, nerved him to make an effort for their relief. He forgot his own private affairs, and bent the whole energy of his soul toward raising supplies for the army. He traveled days and nights, addressed assemblies, appealed to the patriotism and loyalty of every man and woman, held up the suffering condition of the poor soldiers bleeding and dying in a strange land for the common necessaries of life. The people responded. They gave, and they gave freely. The result was that he went to the Sanitary Fair at Dubuque with his full measure of supplies. Thanks poured in on him from every quarter. Ladies and gentlemen bowed to and honored him, and the weak languishing soldier blessed the name of Alonzo Brown. In consequence of his industry and perserverance, Clayton County received the prize of a large and beautiful flag. On the Fourth of July, as it annually returns, this may be seen floating from the flag staff in Garnavillo.

"Sincere and patriotic as he was, ardent and energetic as he was for the public good, great and noble as were his public acts, his social life eclipsed them all. IN the social circle he was loved and admired by all who knew him. HIs kind words, merry laugh and innocent jests made him the life and soul of a company.

He had a smile for those who loved him
And a sigh for those who hate.
And whatever skies were o'er him,
Had a heart for any fate.

"He was the first at the bedside of sickness, and the last to leave. Often when little children were afflicted with a dangerous epidemic would he hold them in his arms, striving to soothe their dying moments. On one occasion when a little sufferer was about to close its eyes forever, almost the last words upon its lips were, 'Ma, Mr. Brown will save me.' Then did the tears gush like rain from his manly eyes, as he bent o'er the dying form of his neighbor's child.

"He believed in the great God and in the immortality of the soul. His ideas of a future state were both beautiful and philosophical. (page 372) He studied Nature and obeyed her commandments. He loved the excitement and sport of the chase; was a fine woodman and one of the best rifle shots in the country. But this philanthropist and benefactor, this kind husband and indulgent father, this faithful friend and true companion, is now no more. He died in Chautauqua County, N.Y., March 6, 1867."

Horace Emery was a worthy successor of Alonzo Brown, and did much for the public schools of the county. He was born in Andover, N.H., Sept. 18, 1830, and was the son of JOseph and Mary (Gordon) Emery. He was educated in the schools of his native village. About the year 1853 he came West and located in Monona Township, and for the first year visited different portions of the county, then engaging in the mercantile business, in company with R.R. Olmsted, following that business for several years. In December, 1859, he married Susan, daughter of James Parker, who emigrated from Oneida County, N.Y., in 1854, to Clayton County. One daughter blessed this union -- Maud, who yet resides in Monona. In 1859 Mr. Emery was elected County Superintendent, and re-elected in 1861, serving until 1863. As a testamonial of the esteem in which he was held by the teachers of the county, he was presented by them with a fine watch. Mr. Emery died in 1864, of consumption, mourned not alone by his family, but by all who were so fortunate as to be numbered among his acquaintances. He was a good man of whom it could truly be said,

None knew him but to love him,
None name him but to praise.

J.A. Cramer was the third to fill the office, being elected in 1863, and serving one term of two years.

George Cook was elected in 1865, and served two years.

William A. Preston served from 1867 to 1869. A sketch of Mr. Preston is found in the bar chapter.

John Everall served two terms, from 1869 to 1873. He was a good officer.

John Everall, now a farmer, P.O. Farmersburg, was the son of Richard and Elizabeth (Liversage) Everall, natives of England, who came to America in 1850, located in Lodomillo Township, and afterward moved to Farmersburg. He was born in England, April 20, 1839; he was educated in England, and in Clayton County; he studied law some time, and from a lawyer's office enlisted in the Twenty-seventh Iowa Infantry, Company E., Capt. Drips. (page 373)He was in many battles, and was wounded at Tupelo, Miss., in 1864, by a musket ball in the mouth, taking away a portion of his lower jaw. He was discharged at Keokuk, Iowa, in June, 1865. During his service he was a correspondent of the press at McGregor. After his return he purchased a farm, and has followed farming ever since. In 1865 he married Bellonia, daughter of G.L. and Martha (Evans) Renshaw, natives of Virginia. They came to Clayton County, Ia., and died here. By this union there are five children -- Martha, born Jan. 20, 1869; John, Feb., 16, 1871; George L., June 10, 1873; Bruce, Sept. 12, 1877; the babe was born Oct. 23, 1881. Mr. E. is a member of the A.F. & A.M. fraternity, and is Master of the lodge. He has held the office of County School Superintendent for four years, the duties of which he faithfully discharged. Has held most of the township offices, and in all has been a valuable and efficient officer. He has voted the Democratic ticket. He has been Secretary of the Clayton County Agricultural Society for several years, and has contributed much toward its success.

J.F. Thompson succeeded Mr. Everall and also served two terms. Mr Thompson did much to forward the interests of the schools in the county. A sketch of him will be found in the chapter of "National, State and County Representation."

Percival W. McClelland, who was first elected to the office of Superintendent of common schools of Clayton County, is a native of Ohio, having first seen the light of day in Licking County, in that State, Oct. 14, 1846. He was the son of Rev. E.J. and Miranda (Wescott) McClelland, natives of New York. Percival W. was the third in a family of three children, and was educated in the State University of Iowa in 1873. He at once engaged in the profession of teaching, continuing to be thus employed until elected to the office of Superintendent. In 1880 he was united in marriage with Mary Ann, daughter of Aonzo Winkley, of Monona. She was born in Meriden, N.H., March 21, 1860. One child was born unto them. Mrs. McClelland died May, 1882. Mr. McClelland resides in Monona and is a member of the Elkader Lodge, I.O.O.F.

Orlando De Shay Oathout, the present Superintendent of Schools, was born at Eaton, Madison County, N.Y., Sept 2, 1839.

O.D. Oathout
(page 639)

He was the son of S.H. and Eliza (Abbott) Oathout, both natives of New York. S.H. Oathout was the son of John Oathout, of New York, and John's father was Alexander Oathout, who also, lived in New York. Alexander's father, Yohannes Oathout, came (page 374) from Holland about 1775, settling near Albany, N.Y. Our subject on his mother's side was descended from the Pilgrim Fathers. S.H. Oathout was married Jan. 1, 1834, at Lebanon, N.Y., to Eliza Abbott. He was, in his earlier years, a mechanic, and afterward became a farmer. They had eleven children, eight of whom are living. Of these Moses W., the oldest, is a farmer in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa; Orlando D., our subject, is next; George W., is at Luana, Clayton County, a wagon-maker and painter by occupation; Josephine married Mathew Lytle, a farmer of Monona Township; H.C. is a farmer in Cass County, Iowa; A.C. is a farmer near Hardin, Clayton County; Alpha M. married David A. Church, a farmer in Franklin County, Iowa; and Alice A. is at home at Luana.

S.H. Oathout came from New York May 28, 1855 with his family and settled in Monan Township, a half mile west of the present village of Luana. He still lives on his farm there, which contains 340 acres of land, all under high cultivation. Mr. Oathout is now seventy-three years of age, and his life companion is still living at the age of seventy-one. Both are active and energetic for people of their age and have always had good health. May they be spared many years longer.

When the family came to Clayton County our subject was fifteen years of age. He had attended achool in New York, and after coming here he pursued his studies in the old brick schoolhouse near Luana, where he "graduated" at the age of eighteen. This school-house was afterward torn down and the brick were used in building the residence of Louis Heckendorf, in Luana. After leaving school, Orlando remained on his father's farm until the age of twenty-one, when he taught his first school in Grand Meadow Township. He taught this school, which was in the P.G. Baily district five winter terms. He has since taught in many places, among them the Grand Meadow school one term; West Grove, Allamakee County, one term; Hardin, Allamakee County one term; Luana two terms; Humphrey's district, Monona Township, two terms, Hope, independent district, Farmersburg, six years and a half; Clayton as principal, four terms. In October, 1881, he was elected County Superintendent of Schools. The opposing candidate was John Everall, and from the latter's deserved popularity (owing to his excellent social qualities, his having served as County Superintendent two terms, and his having been a soldier during the civil war) the election was very close. Mr. Oathout received 2,100 votes, and Mr. Everall, 2,009 votes.

(page 375) While at home, Aug. 17, 1871, Mr. Oathout was thrown from a mower in front of the sickle, receiving injuries which rendered an amputation necessary. This operation was performed by Dr. Scott, of Monona. While under the Doctor's care, he was nominated for County Superintendent against Mr. Everall, who was then completing his first term. Mr. Oathout was elected by 500 majority -- to stay at home! Mr. Everall's popularity was too great.

Mr. Oathout was married Dec. 28, 1880, to Mary F. Ruegnitz, of Clayton. She is the daughter of Carl Ruegnitz, a cooper by occupation, at Clayton. Mr. Oathout is a staunch Republican, and is a strong temperance worker. He signed the pledge at the age of seventeen. He is a member of the Congregational church. He became a member of the Clayton Lodge, No. 143, A.O.U.W. in 1880. As soon as he was installed in his office as County Superintendent, Mr. Oathout instituted several radical reforms in the management of the office, and now careful system is visible in all his work. He keeps a full record of all examinations of teachers who receive certificates, and a separate one of those who are rejected; an account with the normal school fund; a record of appointments in appeal cases; one of examinations, both regular and special, and a journal of all work done as County Superintendent. He intends soon to have books prepared in which to keep copies of all district reports, which are sent in to the State Superintendent. He has in his office the latest edition of Webster's Unabridged. Mr. Oathout's administration will assuredly be fruitful of excellent results. He has a private library valued at $900, which contains many choice works. His specialties are mathematics and phonography. He uses Graham's system of the latter. After losing his right hand, he learned ot write with his left hand by practicing on a small blackboard. He has studied several systems of phonography -- Isaac Pitman's, E. Webster's, Elias Longley's, Ben. Pitman's and Andrew J. Graham's, the use of which he is satisfied to continue. His course of mathematics has been very thorough, comprising arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, analytical geometry, surveying, calculus and mathematical astronomy. Among his rare books is Isaac Newton's Universal Arithmetic, published. Mr. Oathout has not had the advantage of a college education, but his success is due to indomitable perserverance in study. For example, he worked a while week at the "grindstone problem," and later on he spent three weeks on a problem in calculus.


Transcription note: The transcriber has taken some liberty in the transcription of this chapter in order to better organize it for research purposes. The portrait of Mr. Oathout has been placed with this chapter, although it appears in a different part of the book. Additionally, some sections determined by the transcriber to have little research value have been left out of this on-line version.

-transcribed by Sharyl Ferrall for Clayton co. IAGenWeb, May 2006
-source: History of Clayton County, Iowa, 1882, Chicago: Inter-State Publishing Co., 1882. Reproduced by the sponsorship of the Monona Historical Society, Monona, Iowa, reproduction Evansville, Indiana: Unigraphics, Inc., 1975;
page 356-375

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