IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

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History of Clayton County, Iowa

Read Township

Clayton Center

Read Township
(page 1069-1072)

This township was organized March 4, 1856, and was named in honor of Robert R. Read, an early and much respected pioneer of the county, whose sketch is given in the chapter of "Illustrious Dead." He held various offices at different times, and earned the high regard of his fellow citizens. It is situated in range 4 west, and of its twenty-seven sections twenty-four lie in township 93 north, while two whole and two half sections lie in the next tier south. There is both wood and meadow land, and the soil is considered very good. It is watered by several small creeks,a tributary to Turkey River. The people of this township are entirely agricultural, and there is but one village, Clayton Center. The soil is well cultivated, and the population is industrious.

The first settler within the limits of Read Township (then a part of Garnavillo) was Joel Post, who settled on or near section 9, in the spring of 1838. After him came Elias Misner, who settled on section 22, then sold out and went to Texas. Then came Mrs. Mary Uriell, with her three sons, Patrick, Michael and John, locating on sections 27 and 34, in the spring of 1839. Both of Michael's brothers and their mother have since died. A sketch of Michael's life is given elsewhere in this chapter. Other early settlers were Martin Brassell, Constantine Gallagher, Alexander Falkner, Patrick Rogers, Eugene Rogers and Asaph Griswell. The southern part of the township was settled mostly with Irish, and the northern part with Germans and Americans.

Michael Uriell was born in Ireland, Sept. 25, 1816. His parents, John and Mary (Gleason) Uriell, were both natives of Ireland. In that country Mr. Uriell died. Mrs. Uriell soon after, in 1838, emigrated to America with her three sons, of whom Patrick was the oldest. Michael the subject of this sketch, was second, being twenty-two, and John was the youngest. Patrick was married before emigrating, but Michael and John were single. All of the boys had passed their early life on a farm, and had few educational advantages. They possessed, however, the qualities most essential to success, frugality, health, strength, energy and indomitable perseverance, and so were well fitted for the task of making for themselves a home and acquiring a competence in this new country. That they succeeded the citizens of Clayton County of Read Township cheerfully attest.

Mrs. Uriell and her sons landed at New Orleans, whence they proceeded to St. Louis. Remaining there a few months they again journeyed north, arriving at McGregor, Nov. 1, 1838. They first went to Farmersburg, and then in the spring, to what was subsequently made Read Township, but was then a part of Garnavillo. Joel Post was the only one who came before them. Mrs. Uriell, and Patrick and John have all served their allotted time, and are numbered with that throng fast swelling with the departed spirit of Clayton's early settlers.

Michael settled on the northwest quarter of section 29, and has lived there ever since, with the exception of the first five years after making his claim. He was appointed by J. E. Fletcher, Indian Agent, to act between the Government and the Winnebago Indians, which duty he discharged for the term above mentioned, and then settled permanently at home.

Mr. Uriell has never sought office, indeed has rather avoided what his fellow citizens would fain almost thrust upon him. He was the second Justice of the Peace in his township, and filled that office for two years. At the succeeding election, Mr. Uriell relates, he wrote ballots against himself all day, and escaped election by two votes. He served as Supervisor four years under the law directing that there be one from each township, or twenty-two for the county, and since the plan of three supervisors was adopted, he has served six years. The only offices he has ever coveted are those of School Director and Road Commissioner, for he is deeply interested in having good roads and good schools.

He was married Nov. 6, 1849, at Dubuque, to Catherine Sullivan, of Dubuque, who was also of Irish descent. They have had seven children, and buried six. Frank is the only one who survives.

Mr. Uriell is a man of liberal views and high principles, and has won the enduring regard of the citizens of Clayton County, of all sects and of all parties. He is at the present time President of the Old Settlers' association, in which he has always taken an active part.

On the retirement of Mr. Uriell from the Board of Supervisors, the North Iowa Times paid him the following merited compliment: "In the retirement of Hon. M. Uriell, the county loses the services of a valuable and honest servant; one who has faithfully discharged the duties devoling upon him with a zealous and earnest desire to benefit those for whom he was laboring. We believe we are but expressing the feelings of the people over the county when we say that in the retirement of Michael Uriell, Clayton County has parted with an honest, faithful, upright servant."

The Uriell brothers started a large breaking team and broke the first farm in Read Township, which was then about equally divided between Garnavillo and Boardman.

"In those days," writes Michael Uriell, "business moved slow. There was not a blacksmith shop in the county, and I used to go to Prairie du Chien to get my plow fixed, and to Catfish Mill, Dubuque, to buy a little flour.

"In these early days Rev. David Lowry was agent of the Government for the Indians on the 'Neutral Ground', as it was then called, authorized to open up a large farm for the Indians and teach them the arts of husbandry. This drew the attention of men and teams to that place, among whom was your humble servant. I staid there during a part of three administrations, those of D. Lowry, James McGregor and J. E. Fletcher, the latter of whom finally led the Indians on to the Crow Wing River, far up into Minnesota.

"All the grain raised before the construction of the Elkader Mill was very little profit to those who raised it, there being no machines to harvest it and no market for it when threshed. The wheat we raised in 1840 remained in the stock-yard for four years, and could not be sold in this county for twenty-five cents a bushel; but the erection of the Elkader Mill by Thompson, Sage & Davis, gave a new impetus to farming, and from that date Clayton County began to prosper; the people had bread to eat and a market for their surplus grain. No men ever had more power over the inhabitants of a new country than they had, and no men ever exercised it so leniently.

"The people, after a time, came in here to settle very fast, but we were all quiet until Judge Price organized us into a little body-politic of our own. The town was organized just in time to take part in the county-seat contest that first sent the county seat to Elkader. At this election, held at the house of John Barrett, the men who voted were in earnest. Every man had a reason of his own, and as there was no liquor to be had, it was pleasant to hear the arguments pro and con. Victory, however, turned in favor of Elkader by two votes, and in all subsequent elections since that time. Read has stood by Elkader.

The first election held in Read was at the house of John Barrett, Apr. 7, 1856.

The first religious services were conducted in various private houses, by Father Joseph Cretin, in 1841-1842. He came occasionally to the settlements at first from Prairie du Chien, and then from Dubuque. He was afterward the first Bishop of St. Paul. The first church was built some time after at Clayton Center by the Lutheran denomination.

The first school-house was built of logs July 2, 1850, and the first school was taught by James O'Kief. There are at present five school-houses, and the school property is valued at $3,500.

The first mill was the celebrated "dry mill." Elisha Boardman selected a site for a mill on a creek which seemed to promise ample power, and engaging men to build the mill, he left for Canada at attend to some personal affairs. Not long after his absence the creek became dry. The men, however, went on and erected the mill according to instructions, and in the spring freshet they managed to saw one or two logs. The water went down again, and in this predicament the mill was found by Mr. Boardman on his return. The cause of the water's mysterious disappearance lay in the presence of a sink a half mile up the creek where the water goes into the ground, not reappearing until three miles lower down.

No attempts have been made since to establish either mill or factory in the township by water-power, and this "dry mill" has gone to decay. The creek on which it was built is the only one suitable for mill purposes in Read.


Clayton Center
(page 1072-1073)

The village of Clayton Center was surveyed in April, 1856, by Lewis Brockman, for Fred Hartman, as proprietor. It is situated on the southeast quarter of section 8, township 93 north, range 3 west of the fifth principal meridian.

The first house was built by Fred Hartman, and the first store by J. L. Hagensick.

The first wagon-maker was Conrad Grotz, the first blacksmith was Charles Krull, and the first shoemaker was John Scheopf.

Dr. Scheit was the first physician in the township. He remained one year in Clayton Center, and then went to McGregor, where he died. The only physician now is C. W. Hagensick, a graduate of Joplin College, Mo.

The Lutheran Church, located at Clayton Center, was first built of stone, in 1856, and was rebuilt of wood in 1874. The society was organized by Rev. Mr. Schiller. Among the first members were three Hankimer brothers, Mr. Hartner, Mr. Lintner, Mr. Mitchell and two Brandt brothers. The first Trustees were Fred. Hartman, Adolph Hankimer and Wolfgang Lintner. Rev. Mr. Schiller, the first pastor, served four years, and then was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Stockfield, who remained but a short time. Rev. Mr. Schultz then came and remained one year, and after him came Rev. Fred. Seifert, the present pastor, who has led his flock for twenty eyars. He has in his ministry baptized 1,234 children, married 302 couples, performed burial rites for 307 persons and confirmed 443 persons. The presnet Trustees are Carl Stelich, E. Lemke and William Lewis. The present membership is about forty.

The postoffice at Clayton Center is the only one in the township. The first Postmaster was J. L. Hagensick, and the present Postmaster is C. W. Hagensick.


This chapter concludes with biographical sketches.


transcribed by Roxanne Barth
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; 1069-1073


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