Ellery M Hancock.

Past and present of Allamakee county, Iowa. A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement (Volume 1) online

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E. M. I IAN cm K



Allamakee County


A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and











R 1914 L.


The history of a community must be composed largely of the biography of a
few people, and, as such, may seem to some trivial and valueless. But the nation
is made up of similar individuals, and the life and character of the mass goes to
make the history and character of a world-power for good or evil to the human
race. Hence the local history is not unimportant. In submitting the following
pages to the public the writer is aware of their incompleteness as a history, and
begs the lenient judgment of the reader. After an arduous research for facts
and dates the futility of an attempt at completeness in a work of this character
has been pressed home upon him ; but he cherishes the belief that as regards the
statement of facts the work will be found generally correct and reliable. Any
errors discovered should be brought to his attention, that they may be noted for
future correction. If he has succeeded in presenting the chief points of our his-
tory in a readable and entertaining manner, and has collated the reminiscences
of others previously published or written at divers times in a form suitable for
preservation and reference, he has accomplished the task assigned him.

In this connection full credit should be given to those who have rendered
valuable assistance in the work, among whom should be prominently named A. M.
May, Ellison Orr, and Jas. T. Metcalf. The published papers of Judge Dean,
D. B. Raymond, J. S. Bryson, T. C. Medary and others have been liberally drawn
from ; and the members of the press have generally assisted willingly, the files
of the Standard, Democrat, and Mirror, having been of especial value. The
Postville history is based chiefly on the painstaking work of A. R. Prescott in the
old county history, while assistance has been freely given by Wm. Shepherd,
Geo. S. Tuttle and others. The Lansing sketch written by Dick Haney thirty
years ago, has also been utilized, with his permission, as also the interesting con-
tributions to the Lansing Mirror by Mrs. Martha T. Hemenway and Miss Fanny
Hemenway. Assistance is also acknowledged from B. F. Thomas and N. A.
Nelson of that city. Numerous others have generously responded as called upon,
among whom may be mentioned! .'O. Larson arid Mrs". M. A. R. Bellows, of the
early settlers, and R. W. Erwin in his cU scripticn of the iron mine.



Early Dawn g

Encroaching Civilization 17



Black Hawk War 36



County Organization 44

Allamakee County 47

The Old Mission 55



First Terms of Court k 69



The Stratified Rocks yy

Iron Hill 99

Geological Character 99



Agricultural Society 108

Farmers' Institute 112





Vote for President 114

Vote for Governor 115

Secretary of State 115



State Legislature — Senate 125

State Legislature — House 126

District Court 1 27

Circuit Court 128



Some Other Early County Affairs [42



Journalistic Adventures of Late T. C. Medary, by Himself, in 1890 147

Local Affairs — A Digression 1 52

The Craft Again 1 54

( )ff to the Front and After 155

In Conclusion 157

Another "Country Editor." — Jas. T. Metcalf 161

Others of the Fraternity 165

The County Bar 171



School Townships 183

Independent Districts '. 183

Summary of the Annual Report, 191 1-12 [86



The Standard Telephone Company 1S7

< Hher Telephone Companies 188

Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paid Railway 191

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway 191

United States Express Company 192

Wells Fargo & Co. Express 192

Western Union Telegraph Company 192

Upper Iowa Power Company 192


A Dark Chapter IO c



Judge Dean's Narrative 206

D. B. Raymond's Recollections 213

North of the Oneota 218



Center Township 227

Fairview Township 233

Franklin Township 237

French Creek Township 245

Hanover Township 246

Iowa Township 251

Jefferson Township 257

Lafayette Township 263

Lansing Township 267

Linton Township 271

Ludlow Township 273

Makee Township 274

Paint Creek Township 277

Taylor Township 288

Union City Township 301

Union Prairie Township 305

Waterloo Township 307



The Shattucks 313

Name 318

Waukon in 1858-61 321

County Officials 321

Municipal History 323

City of the Second Class 326

Waukon's Financial Condition — Spring of 19 13 328

Fire Department and Fires 331

Public Utilities 334

Railroad 335

The Waukon Schools 341

Early School History 341

Allamakee College 348

The Press 352

Postoffice 354

Public Library 355

Financial Institutions 355

Churches 361

Grand Army of the Republic 376

Spanish War Veterans 277

Women's Clubs 378

Old Company "I" 378

Captain Nichols 385



Fraternal Societies 386

Some Waukon Pioneers — One of the Maine Families 394

A Typical Pioneer 396

Other Pioneers of Waukon and Vicinity 401

Some of the F. F. Allamakees 406



Recollections of 185 1 416

Lansing in 1852-53 420

City Government 422

The Water Supply 423

Fire Department 425

Lansing Schools 426

Churches 430

The Press 44°

Financial Institutions 441

Fraternal Societies 443

Postoffice 446

Public Library 449

Military Company 449

Railroad 450

Some Lansing Pioneers 452

Pearl Button Industry 466

Early Business Items 467



Public Schools 477

Municipal 479

Churches 48/

Early Sunday Schools 49°

Fraternal Societies 49°

Public Library 49 1

City Park 49 1

The Early Professions 49 1

Postmasters 49 2

Postville Business Directory 1882 492

Militia Company 493

Newspapers 493

Banks 494

Brick and Tile Manufactory 497

Some Old-Time Voters 497

An Ancient Autograph 498

Early Villages 498



Iowa Regiments 5 01

Extracts from Diarv of Corp. F. E. Hancock of Company B 510

Shiloh Battle Field' 527

Illinois Regiments 558

Missouri Regiments 558

Wisconsin Regiments 559

Chronology 561



The "dawn of history" appeared, for what is now Allamakee county, and
indeed for all of Iowa, when Marquette and his companions floated from the
Wisconsin into the broad expanse of the Mississippi river, on the 17th of June,
1673, two hundred and forty years ago. This is true even if it be admitted,
as seems now to be fairly well established, that two French fur-hunters had
preceded them down the Wisconsin by fourteen years or more. Nothing ap-
pears to have come of their explorations until followed up by those of others,
more responsible, and under authority that might utilize their discoveries, for
the settlement and civilization of the regions thus opened up.

However, this was but the first faint glimmering of the dawn. Although
other fur-traders and the Jesuit missionaries soon began to follow the course
pointed out by Radisson and Marquette, a century elapsed before a white man
trod the soil of Allamakee, so far as any known record shows; and another
half century before any sign of permanent occupation. Three or. four genera-
tions of the native occupants enjoyed undisturbed the hunt and other rude
pleasures of their wild life, except as these were from time to time exchanged
for the more savage joys of the warpath, in struggle with adjacent tribes for
the possession of choice hunting grounds.

There can be no doubt that the explorers mentioned were the first Euro-
peans to look upon the rocks and trees of Allamakee, as the majestic bluffs along
our southern shore-line were well within their range of vision as they emerged
from the mouth of the Wisconsin river. We were situated at the earliest gate-
way to the Northwest; but partly because of our rugged and forbidding "coast-
line," and partly because the natural routes of travel were along the larger
rivers, the first explorers passed us by both to the north and south. As the tide
of exploration was thus directed to our very doors as it were, it will be of
interest to look back and trace the progress of these explorations which de-
veloped the Wisconsin river route as the most natural channel of emigration to
the regions west of the upper Mississippi, as the Ohio river was to the regions
further south, and Lake Superior to those of the far north.

In 1608 Samuel de Champlain, who was called the father of New France,
made a permanent settlement at Quebec. In 1615 he had pushed his explorations
to the banks of Lake Huron, and missionary stations were soon after established •
among the Indians of that name.


Vol. I— 1


The first European to enter the upper Mississippi valley appears to have been
Jean Nicolet, an explorer and interpreter for the merchants of Quebec, who
visited Green Bay in 1634-35, and there met the Winnebago and Mascoutin,
and made a treaty with them in the name of France, in an assembly of four
or five thousand. He related his discoveries to the Jesuit priests, and from the
translations of their writings these facts have but recently been established. It
has been inferred by some that he visited the Mississippi river; but after a
careful study it has been established that he went no further than up the Fox
river to the Wisconsin portage.* It is interesting to note that this first estab-
lished route of Nicolet. by way of Green Bay, and the Fox and Wisconsin rivers,
continued for more than two hundred years to be a main path of exploration,
travel, and commerce, to the West and Upper Louisiana.

The zealous Jesuits, frequently accompanying the licensed traders, were
the reporters of what they discovered, though they were not usually the first to
visit the new regions. In 1641 Fathers Jogues and Rambault arrived at the out-
let of Lake Superior, the falls of St. Alary ( Sault Ste. Marie), where they met
a band of Pottawottomi fleeing from the Dakotas, "who lived to the west of the
falls about eighteen days' journey." Two adventurous French traders, by name
Radisson and Chouart, the latter often called Groseilliers, passed a year or two
among these warlike Dakotas. or Naudowessi (Sioux), in 1654-55, but their
place of staying is not clearly established, the best authorities locating it at the
Isle Pelee, or Prairie Island, (at or near the head of Lake Pepin). Winchell says:
"If we are to accept the implication of Radisson himself, he had apparently been

011 the Mississippi and had seen the country far toward the mouth.

There is great difficulty however in accepting this assumed trip down the Mis-
sissippi, and some authorities have rejected it as fictitious. If we consider,
however, that Radisson * * relates what was 'tould' him by some people

that he met. we may perhaps attribute some of his discrepancies to his imperfect
manner of narration." But it appears probable that these explorers sailed down
the Wisconsin and discovered the Mississippi in 1655 (or 1659), and that they
ascended the latter river to Prairie Island, where they spent about a year, and
returned by the same route.

Keyes says : "The first white men actually to view the 'Great Water' and to
set foot upon what is now Iowa soil appear to have been Pierre Radisson and
Medard Groseilliers. * * * In the .spring of 1659 f they determined to
visit the Mascoutins, or Fire Nation, and passing up Fox river crossed the
portage to the Wisconsin, and sailed on down into a greater river. Here are
Radisson's own words: 'We went into ye great river that divides itselfe in 2,
where the hurrons with some Ottonake & the wild men that had warrs with
them had retired. There is not great difference in their language as we weare
told, against those of the forked river. It is so called because it has 2 brandies.

*Father Paul Lejeune and Father Bartholem-y Vimout, 1640-1642. — X. H. Winchell in
"The Aborigines of Minnesota," published by the Minn. Hist. Soc. 191 1. and Charles R.
Keyes, Ph. D.. in "Annals of Iowa." Jan., 1912, "Earliest Explorations of Iowa Land."

tWinchell says they returned to Xorthern Minnesota in the early spring of [655 by the
south shore of Lake Superior, suffering famine and frost, to an appointed rendezvous with
the Sioux, when they met to celebrate the feast of the dead, in the early spring, and after
six weeks passed directly back to Chequamegon Bay, on Lake Superior.




the one towards the west, the other toward the south, wch we believe runns to-
wards Mexico.' " There is no doubt that Radisson and his associate entered the
Mississippi river and gazed out upon the high bluffs of Iowa land at 'about
where McGregor now stands. * * * Thwaites is of the opinion that the
west branch of the forked river, as Radisson calls the Mississippi, may have
been the Iowa river. Richman, in his sketch of 'Mascoutin, a Reminiscence of
the Nation of Fire," considers it the Upper Iowa river. There appear to be
good reasons for believing it was really the Missouri river. Raddison's informa-
tion on this point was manifestly hearsay.

The news of the great river conveyed to Canada by Nicolet and Radisson
created great enthusiasm, both among the traders and the missionaries who ever
followed closely upon their heels in their zeal for new fields of labor. An
expedition was fitted out from Montreal in the spring of 1660, but was attacked
by the Iroquois and dispersed with some loss of life.

Not until 1665 was further progress made in western exploration, when
Father Pierre Claude Allouez coasted along the south shore of Lake Superior
to La Pointe, on Chequamegon bay, where he established the mission of the
Holy Ghost, near the present Ashland, Wisconsin. Here he wrote about the
Dakotas, who dwelt to the west, toward the great river called Messipi, and this
appears to be the first mention in literature of the name "Mississippi." In 1669
the renowned Marquette succeeded Father Allouez, who about this time estab-
lished the mission of St. Francis Xavier on the west shore of Green Bay, and
soon after returned to Sault Ste. Marie, although he "longed to visit the Sioux
country and see the great water the Indians called the Missi Sepe."

In 1665 also. Nicolas Perrot left the east and spent several months with
the Pottawottomies around Green Bay. In the spring of 1666 he entered the
Fox river and visited the Outagamies, or Foxes, who dwelt above Lake Winne-

Perrot was a very active agent for the French Crown throughout the north-
ern region then known, and was the authority who summoned the chiefs from
fourteen tribes to Sault Ste. Marie in 1671 to celebrate the formal taking pos-
session of all the country along the lakes and "southward to the sea," by the
erection and ceremony of consecration of a large cedar cross. Alongside of the
cross a cedar column was also erected, marked with the lilies of the Bourbons.
Thus, says Bancroft, "were the authority and the faith of France uplifted in
the presence of the ancient races of America, in the heart of our continent.
Yet this daring ambition of the servants of a military monarch was doomed to
leave no abiding monument — this echo of the middle age to die away." Allouez
and Joliet were among the fifteen Frenchmen present on this occasion.

It was now well known that a great river to the west ran southwardly, but
it was not known whether it flowed into the Gulf of Mexico or, as they hoped,
into waters leading to China. Soon after this, Father Jaques Marquette and
Louis Joliet, the latter as agent for the French government, were given authority
to make an expedition for the purpose of solving this question.

Starting from St. Ignace, a mission station at the straits of Mackinaw, on
the 13th of May, 1673, these two distinguished men, with five boatmen and two
birch-bark canoes, coursed along the north shore of Lake Michigan and Green
Bav, and found there a welcome at the mission of St. Francis Xavier established


by Father Allouez four years before. Continuing their journey, they paddled
up the Fox river to the portage, launched their canoes in the waters of the Wis-
consin, and on the 17th of June, 1673, emerged from that river upon the broad
bosom of the Missi (great) Sepe (river, or water), "with a joy I cannot ev-
press," writes the devout Marquette in his journal. Marquette named it "Con-
ception River," because of the day on which it was discovered, and it appears
by that name on a map which he drew after returning from the expedition,
printed in some of the earlier histories, and the original of which is said to be
still preserved in St. Mary's College at Montreal. He says, "the river is narrow
at the mouth of the Wisconsin, and the current slow and gentle ; on the right is
a considerable chain of very high mountains. It is in many places studded with
islands." He found "ten fathoms of water; its breadth is very unequal, some-
times three-quarters of a league and sometimes narrows to three-arpents or two
hundred and twenty yards."

They did not stop here, but proceeded on their journey south. As they passed
down the river and the banks became less precipitous the country appeared to
them more promising, and occasional herds of buffalo were seen grazing on the
prairies. It is to be presumed that they made their camp on the western bank
at times, but no record of any stop or landing is made until after eight days
they approached the extreme lower corner of the state, where they first saw
Indians, and stopped for a few days in a village of the Illinois tribe, who at
that time occupied most of the present Iowa.

Continuing their journey, at a point near the present city of Alton, Illinois,
they were startled by the sight of a painting of a monstrosity in human form,
high up on the face of a cliff, which was attributed by Marquette to the work
of the evil one himself, and he would have destroyed the sacrilegious picture
could he have gained access to it.

[This is mentioned here to show that there were several "painted rocks"
along the course of the upper Mississippi. This one is said to have remained
until 1850 or later, when the rock was quarried out for building purposes. — Ed.]

The party proceeded on down the river arriving at the mouth of the Arkan-
sas river in July, where the Indians they there met informed them that in ten
days more they could reach the mouth of the Mississippi. They were now near,
or below, the point where the unfortunate De Soto had discovered this river
in 1 541, one hundred and thirty-two years before. Having determined that the
great river emptied into the Gulf of Mexico instead of into the Pacific ocean,
on the 17th of July the voyagers set out on their return. It was a different
proposition, pulling up stream, and upon arriving at the mouth of the Illinois
river they gladly availed themselves of the guidance of the Indians up that
stream, and the Desplaines, and portage to the Chicago river, whence they pro-
ceeded along the shore of Lake Michigan to the mission at Green Bay, where
they arrived before the end of September. Marquette's strength was exhausted
and he remained here for the winter to rest. But he was thereafter an invalid,
and although he once more resumed his work his death took place May 19, 1675,
on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. The following year his bones were re-
moved to St. Ignace and interred beneath the floor in the chapel there.

The next recorded visit of Europeans to our vicinity was that of Father
Hennepin, in 1680. He was a member of the party of Cavelier La Salle who had


undertaken an expedition to the mouth of the Mississippi, by way of Lake
Michigan and the Illinois river, and was constructing therefor a large boat at
a fort he had built at Peoria, Illinois, which, after the failure of this first attempt
was named Fort Creve-Coeur. Of the four priests in his party, it seems that Hen-
nepin was the least popular, and La Salle conceived the idea of sending him to
explore the head-waters of the Mississippi. Father Hennepin accepted the mission
with no good grace, but started in an open canoe with two companions, Accan and
DuGay, in the last days of February, 1680, amply provided with presents for
the Indians, as well as provisions, guns and ammunition. They fared well until
the 12th of April, when, landing at a point now supposed to be at or just above
Prairie du Chien, to roast a wild turkey, they were made captive by a large war
party of Sioux, and taken to their homes in the region of Lake Mille Lac in
northern Minnesota, reaching there in May. Here the three were adopted, each
by a different chief, and so separated from each other. In the summer the
Indians determined on a buffalo hunt, and Hennepin, disgusted with Indian life
and the semi-captivity which had deprived him not only of his liberty but of his
stock of goods brought along for presents, of which his captors had nearly
despoiled him, told them that a party of Frenchmen were to meet him at the
mouth of the Wisconsin river, in the summer, with a new supply of goods and
thus obtained permission to go to meet them at that point. Hennepin asserts
that La Salle had promised this, but the statement is questioned, especially as
Hennepin's mendacity was later established by a book of travels he published
upon his return to France.

Hennepin and his companion, DuGay, started down the river, arriving at the
falls on St. Anthony's day, in honor of which event he gave them the name which
became permanent. Long before reaching the Wisconsin, however, they met a
party of the Sioux who had outstripped them to that destination and found
no Frenchmen there ; and they returned with the Indians to the site of St. Paul,
where they had heard there were five more white men awaiting them. They found
them to be Daniel Greysolon DuLhut (Duluth), and four companions, who had
been two years among the far-off lodges of the Sioux, and other tribes to the
north, exploring under the patronage of the Canadian governor, having entered
that region by the way of Lake Superior. At the approach of autumn the entire
party, eight in number, started upon their return to Canada, by way of the Wis-
consin river. At its mouth they found no traders and no Indians.

From this time on the visits of traders and travelers to the Mississippi by
the Wisconsin river route became more frequent. In 1683 Nicholas Perrot was
sent to the Iowa and Dakota Indians to establish friendly alliances ; and it is
supposed that it was about this time that he established Fort St. Nicholas on the
Mississippi river just above the mouth of the Wisconsin and a short distance
below the present city of Prairie du Chien. (Keyes, in Annals of Iowa, Jan.
1912.) He also established a post on the west side of the Mississippi near the
site of Wabasha, Minnesota, called Fort Perrot. And in 1685 Fort St. Antoine
on the east side, at the mouth of the Chippewa river.

Salter, in his "Iowa, the First Free State in the Louisiana Purchase," p. 30,
says: "The Indian trade of the upper Mississippi centered at the mouth of
the Wisconsin river, where trading posts were established, some of them on
the west bank of the Mississippi. Thence traders and missionaries went up


into the Sioux country or down the Mississippi, or followed a long path to the
Missouri river overland, which was marked on English maps as the 'French
Route to the West.'" And at page 17: "Perrot was the first trader with the
Indians upon the Mississippi, and made several establishments: one among the
Sioux near Lake Pepin, another near the mouth of the Wisconsin, probably
in what is Clayton county, Iowa. The latter had his Christian name. It was
Fort St. Nicholas. * * * While thus engaged. Perrot was commissioned

Online LibraryEllery M HancockPast and present of Allamakee county, Iowa. A record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 58)