Arthur Springer.

History of Louisa County, Iowa, from its earliest settlement to 1912 (Volume 1) online

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suitable fireproof building and improvements on the County Farm, for the proper
care of the poor of the county and the incurable insane." This proposition
was carried by the close vote of 664 for to 640 against, a great many people not
taking the pains to vote on the proposition. The books in the county auditor's
office show that the County Improvement Fund tax collected in the years from
1901 to 1904 inclusive, amounted to $18,637.05. However, it seems that about
$1,000 or a little over of this amount came originally from the Poor Fund and
the County Insane Fund.

The County Farm of Louisa county, together with the building and other
improvements is said to be one of the best equipped institutions of the kind 10
be found anywhere in the state.


This county has seven wagon bridges over the Iowa river.

The first one was built at Wapello, in 1873 and 1874; it was authorized by
supervisors Andrew Gamble, N. M. Letts and P. D. Bailey. It must be noted,
to the credit of Gamble and Letts, that this was at a time when the county seat
excitement was very great, and that both these men were strong advocates of
Columbus Junction.

This bridge was built by D. H. and C. C. Morrison, and its first cost was
$13,453.50. Win. G. Allen was the commissioner in charge of its construction.
The bridge has been added to since then.

The next bridge was the one over the Iowa river at Fredonia, which was
finished in 1878. It cost about $20,000, and was, at the time it was built, said
to be the longest wagon bridge in the state. The town of Columbus Junction
contributed about $5,000 to it. Cyril Carpenter was the commissioner.

The next bridge was the one at Toddtown, north of Columbus Junction. It
was finished July 4, 1879, and cost something less than $15,000. Cyril Carpenter
was commissioner.

The next bridge was at Yellow Banks, near Oakville, and the contract for
it was let on February 21, 1895. It cost $14,860.40.

The next was the Hogback bridge, north of Wapello, the contract for which
was awarded May 3, 1898, at $14,150.

This bridge had been talked of for a great many years, but had been bitterly
opposed by some of the leading taxpayers of Grandview township, as well as
by many others in the north part of the county. Jacob Lieberknecht, J. Cal.
Duncan and Isaiah Downs were the supervisors who authorized it, and they
did so on the condition that the petitioners would carry, without interest, $6,000
of bridge warrants from March 1, 1899 to March 1, 1900, and secure the right
of way to and from the bridge. On January 8, 1898, D. C. Thomas, on behalf
of the petitioners, filed a bond agreeing to comply with the conditions made by
the board.

The next bridge was the Hoben bridge. This was ordered on April 3, 1889,
the supervisors being Barton Garrett, H. M. Letts and S. F. Small. There was
considerable controversy among the people in Union and Oakland townships
as to where it should be located. Robert Carson, who had been verv active in


securing the bridge, wanted it located in section 16-76-5 ; and on May 9, 1889,
H. M. Letts was appointed commissioner to "contract for an iron bridge on the
Iowa river between Union and Oakland townships in the south half of the north-
west quarter of section 16-76-5."

Before Mr. Letts was ready to contract, there was a change in the mem-
bership of the board, Thomas Newell succeeding Mr. Garrett, and on January
8, 1890, the engineer was ordered to locate the bridge as near as practicable to
McKean's old ferry landing, in section 21-76-5 ; and the bridge was built there
that year.

The seventh bridge is in the extreme north end of the county, on the line
between Louisa and Johnson counties, and was completed in 191 1, at a cost of
$9,000, one-third being paid by this county and the remainder by Johnson county.


We omitted to give the Supervisor Districts in their proper place, and insert
them here. On June 3, 1874. the county was districted, for the purpose of
electing three supervisors, according to Chapter 39 of the Acts of the 15th
General Assembly.

The First District was composed of the townships of Oakland. Union, Colum-
bus City and Elm Grove.

The Second District was composed of the townships of Eliot, Wapello, Morn-
ing Sun and Marshall.

The Third District was composed of the townships of Jefferson. Port Louisa,
Grandview and Concord.

On June 8, 1876, the county was redistricted, the avowed reason being to
make the districts more nearly even in population.

The First District was composed of the townships of Columbus City, Elm
Grove and Marshall.

The Second District was composed of the townships of Union, Oakland,
Concord. Grandview and Port Louisa.

The Third District was composed of the townships of Eliot, Jefferson. Wapello
and Morning Sun.

At that time the first district had a population of 4.013, the second, 3,999,
and the third, 4,487. The districts have not been changed since.


First white men to land on Iowa soil, were Marquette and Juliet, in Louisa

First white child born in Louisa county was probably Carvalho Killough,
son of Thomas D. Killough, born in Port Louisa township in August, 1836.
This honor has been claimed for several : first, we believe, for Mrs. John P.
Walker, who was born in December, 1836; next it was claimed for "Jack" Mc-
Cleary. who was born in October, 1836; then came James Higbee, at one time
president of the Old Settlers' Society, who was born in Marshall township in
September, 1836. But now. on the authority of Mrs. McDill, it seems quite
probable that Carvallm Killough is the very first. It has been claimed that one




of William Milligan's boys was born in Eliot township on January 7, 1836. We
have not been able to get satisfying information as to this.

The first permanent settler in the county was probably Christopher Shuck,
earlj- in 1835.

First land plowed in the county was by David Morgan, for Christopher
Shuck, in 1835 in Jefferson township.

First Banking House — kept by Bird, Brown & Reach, in the building now
used for a jail.

First Whig convention in Iowa was held at Wapello in 1840.

First Agricultural Society was held in Louisa county.

First County Medical Society was in Louisa county.

First Welsh sermon preached in Iowa was by Rev. David Knowles, on Long
creek, west of Columbus City.

First mill in Louisa county was probably put up by Win. Kennedy in Port
Louisa township, although the mill of Thomas L. Rose, in section 14, 73, 3, on
Honey creek was one of the earliest.

First clerk, Z. C. Inghram.

First sheriff, Samuel Smith.

First court, held by David Irvin, April 22, 1837.

First treasurer, Z. C. Inghram.

First recorder, Z. C. Inghram.

First member Iowa Territorial Council, James M. Clark.

First member Iowa Territorial House, Levi Thornton, Wm. L. Toole.

First postoffice, Black Hawk, May 27, 1837.

First postmaster, Wm. L. Toole.

First county seat. Lower Wapello.

First school taught, in Toolesboro, 1839.

First schoolhouse, built in Toolesboro, 1839 or 1840.

First school teacher. J. W. Ferguson.

First wedding, was of Henry Long and Nancy Layton. Their license was
the first issued in the count}", and was issued on June 2, 1837. The marriage
is claimed for both Jefferson and Grandview townships ; the return on the
license shows that it was solemnized by Wm. Milligan. J. P., but does not say-
where. The best opinion is that the marriage was celebrated in Grandview

James Erwin, a native of Ireland, was the first person to be naturalized in
Louisa county. This was at the June. 1839, term of the district court, — fudge
Joseph Williams being the judge.

First resident lawyers, — Francis Springer and E. H. Thomas, settled in
Wapello, December 28, 1838.

It is probable that J. W. Brookbank was the first doctor ; he was certainly
the first doctor in Wapello.

The following article taken from the Columbus Gazette is worthy of preser-
vation, especially because it relates to a part of the county that was first settled.
It is written by Mr. O. I. Jamison, and is but one of the many good things
which he wrote in his effort to get up a county history:



"Ever drive from Wapello over to Toolesboro? It's not the nicest drive in
the world, especially about this time of the year, but it's historic. You strike
historic ground the minute almost you get on the river, if it is right to call the
river ground. The foundation of the second pier of the bridge was put in for
the old Philadelphia, Fort Wayne & Air Line railroad. This was probably
as early as 1855. Nearly twenty years after, the foundation was utilized in
building the first bridge across the Iowa in Louisa county. This was in 1872,
and the bridge was a combination affair, since replaced by steel with one or
two additional spans on the east side. Going on east less than a mile you come
in view of a part of the old grade of that old road, close to where 'Old Cooper'
lived, and Carpenter, who was connected with the Estep-Koontz crowd. Near
this point, south of the road is where young Davis was killed twenty-five years
ago by a tree falling on him ; while in east of that, where the road turns to the
south, John Keever cut Silas Ruby to pieces with his jack knife, one night.
Then through the brush a mile and you will crime to the E>rendle homestead.
It, at one time, belonged to the Guest estate but was first occupied by Henry
Warnstaff. Henry, we think it was. Here it was that Sam Chaney got his
wife, who was a daughter of Warnstaff. This was in territorial times. Ik-
came sauntering along one fine Sunday morning, with his rifle on his shoulder,
as was his habit. She went with him for a walk. Thev went down to the
river, got in his boat and floated and paddled down the Iowa to its mouth :
down the Mississippi to the Missouri line, where they were married. They
rowed themselves back, his rifle furnishing them the most of their food during
the entire trip. This was one of the romantic weddings of the time. Just east
of the old Warnstaff place was at one time, the Widow Morris' homestead.
Mrs. Morris and all her folks were thrifty and a good class of citizens. She
had several daughters, among them twins. Henrietta and Marietta. But these
folks all had the nerve. We think it was when Perry Keever married one of
the Morris girls that a party from Wapello went out to charivari them. They
were invited in to take supper, but this did not suit their fastidious tastes. They
preferred money to buy a keg or two of beer, or they would roast chickens 1 >n
the premises. Mrs. Morris could hear her chickens squall and so could the
girls. One of the twins went to the door and told the fellows that when the
chickens began to squall again she proposed to begin to shoot. Of course they
didn't believe she meant it. but when the next batch of chickens raised a racket,
she was as good as her word and the shotgun was brought into play. That
ended the banquet for the boys. Her aim had been good, and several carried
away in their legs and bodies souvenirs of the occasion. One of them, we think
it was Johnny Owens, had the doctors picking bird shot out of him for a day
or two. Very fortunately no one was seriously injured. Some of the boys
caught a brother of the girl who did the shooting in Wapello once, and pounded
him up pretty thoroughly. . . .

"Just about a quarter of a mile east of the Morris home, under the hill,
stood a shanty, years ago, beside a spring, now and for many years known as
the 'Snake' spring. A lady reader of the Gazette writes of this spring as
follows :


*' 'The Snake spring, situated on the farm now owned by Mrs. Korn, is still
called by that name. The woman who killed the snakes was Mrs. Dan Cooper.
She and her brother, Will Kominsky, killed seven hundred and eighty-three in
one day, so says Mrs. John Wehmeyer, who lives about one mile west of the
spring. L. K. Potter says he went to the place one warm day and the snakes
began to come out by the hundreds, so it seemed to him. They were all blue
racers.' . . .

"Farther down this road about half a mile still stand the remains of a little
building, long occupied by 'Daniels,' or McPherson. McPherson was a very
peculiar man but his neighbors all liked him for his honesty and accommodating
ways. But a man must deal fair with him. It is his son who is now serving a
life sentence at Fort Madison for killing the Morning Sun marshal. . . .

"At this place you go up the bluff and the first house you come to was, for
a number of years, the home of James Erwin, still frequently referred to as the
Widow Lowrey place. She was a daughter and partly inherited the place from
her father. . . . Next to this and only a few hundred yards south is the nil
Billy Clark place. This family is well worthy of mention, as Mr. Clark and his
wife came here in a very early day, in 1835; his family a year later. They came
from Lafayette, Indiana, and first settled in Wapello at the place now occupied
by M. Carrigan and wife. There were seven children by the first wife. Of
these, Mrs. Jane C. Vanloon was the oldest and only daughter. She lives in
Wapello. James B. Clark is dead, as is also Samuel. John, William, R. B. and
Daniel are still living, or were recently. James and Samuel both served in the
Mexican war ; William and Daniel in the War of the Rebellion. John and William
live in Oklahoma, R. B. lives in Wisconsin, but for a number of years lived in
Minnesota. There was a preacher, Clark, an uncle of William M., who came here
in a very early day and helped lay out the original town of Wapello. William
Clark entered the old Clark place in Jefferson township when that country was
very new. They were great hog raisers, the bottoms in those days being well
calculated for that business, but it took a stake and ridered fence, and a good
one, to save the crops from their depredations. We hear it hinted that clogs,
rifles and shotguns were often pressed into service as supplemental fences. Will-
iam Clark was the last of the boys to occupy the farm. He sold it out and went
southwest near twenty years ago. Frank, a half brother, still lives in Jefferson,
the only one of the family of that name in the county.

Next to the Clark place is the old Willard Mallory home, which is now owned
by Mrs. D. D. Parsons ; then the old Judge Coe and Harmon Mallory places, all
settled about seventy years ago. George Hook's son George, and young Erwin.
son of Mr. and Mrs. Sam T. Erwin, occupy these places. They are two of the
very few in Jefferson township who bear the old pioneer names. As you go on,
about the first house in the village of Toolesboro was the one built and long occu-
pied by William L. Toole, a prominent character in that community long before
Iowa became a state. In the yard surrounding this building, in an early day,
occurred the first murder, probably, committed in the county after its settlement
bv the whites. . . . This puts you on the main business street of Toolesboro,
the only village in the township, though there was an 'Iowa Town' up the river
above Yellow Banks, platted at one time. But it was only a paper town. This
historic road, however, did not always stop at Toolesboro. It was the main, in


fact, the only thoroughfare leading to the historic Burris City, which flourished
about 1855, ^56 and 1857. We are told that hundreds and hundreds of dollars
were expended on this road between Toolesboro and Burris City. This must
have been a great convenience when it came to moving the empty houses away
from the town site after the boom burst and the town became tenantless. All the
houses were eventually torn down and taken to other places to be rebuilt. There
is not a stone nor timber left of the town, though the old historic road continues
in good repair in most places."


Jt is almost impossible to get anything accurate concerning the early ministers
of the county. The main reason, perhaps, is that there were scarcely any of them
located here in the early days. Those who came, preached a sermon or two and
left ; they left little or no record behind them. Besides, it seems they were quite
scarce among the pioneers. Reverend Reuben Gaylord, who was one of the early
Congregational preachers in this territory, said in 184 1 : "The farmer, the me-
amongst the army of pioneers.

One of the very earliest ministers in Louisa county was James R. Ross, who
married Benjamin Stoddard and Sarah Bevins on June 15, 1838. but we do not
know whether or not Mr. Ross was located here for any length of time. He was
an elder in the Church of God and came here from Kentucky, as will be seen
by the paper recorded in the first record book of the county, which is given in
chapter seven. The histories of Columbus City and Wapello and Grandview
contain references to most of the pioneer preachers of whom we have any record.
From the conference records of the Methodist church we get the names of the
ministers of that denomination who were stationed at nearby points in early years,
and it is probable that some or all of them at different times preached in this
county. In 1840 these records show that Isaac S. Stewart was at Burlington,
Thomas L. Kirkpatrick at Alt. Pleasant, Joseph L. Kirkpatrick at Crawfordsville,
and Xathan Jewett at Bloomington (Muscatine) ; and that in 1841 Rev. Stewart
was at Burlington. Daniel C. Cartwright and Moses F. Shinn were at Mt. Pleas-
ant, John llayden at Crawfordsville, and Joseph L. Kirkpatrick at Bloomington.
Jn 1842 Joseph L. Kirkpatrick was at Grandview and John Hayden at Craw-
fordsville. In 1843 Micajah Reeder was at Crawfordsville, Joseph L. Kirkpatrick
at Yellow Springs, and Luther McVay at Grandview. In 1844 Reeder and Kirk-
patrick had the same stations as in 1843, and Laban Case was at Grandview. In
[845 Robert Rice was at Wapello, Michael See at Yellow Springs, and Sidney
Wood at Grandview. In 1846 Robert Rice was at Crawfordsville, and John H.
Dennis at Grandview. The others, so far as we have any record of them, will
lie found in the history of the different localities. Another early preacher was
George M. Hinkle. who had a ferry on the Iowa river a few miles north of Wa-
pello. Another was Hezekiah Johnson, who performed a number of marriage
ceremonies in the early days here. Others, some of whose names appear else-
where in this work, were Rev. Fisk, a Presbyterian minister and school teacher;
Solomon Cowles, Hiram Smith. George C. Vincent, Charles Burnham. Jackson
Duff, Dan W. Ellidge, L. B. Dennis, F. R. S. Byrd, Josiah Yertrees, John Holmes,
Alexander Blaikie. Elijah Lathrop. Then there was Jeremiah Smith, father of


James R. Smith. Another was E. B. Tripp, better known as Benjamin Tripp, who
afterwards went west and became a Mormon elder, attaining very high rank in
the church.

At a somewhat later period Rev. G. X. Power, brother of Judge J. C. Power
of Burlington, was stationed at Toolesboro for a while.

In this connection it may be of interest to give the statistics of the census of
Louisa county taken in 1905, in regard to the religious belief of those over ten
years of age: Advent, 14; Baptists, 151; Catholic, 233; Christadelphians, 2;
Christians, 278; Christian Science, 2: Church of God, 159; Congregational, 185;
Disciples of Christ, 16; Dunkard, 11 ; Episcopal, 21 ; Evangelical, 136; Friend, 5;
Holiness, 15; Jewish, 1; Latter Day Saints, 1; Liberal, 2: Lutheran, 71;
Menonites, 3; Methodists, 1,761; Orthodox, 1; Plymouth Brethren, 2; Presby-
terians, 1,272; Protestant, 54; Reformed, 137; Salvation Army, 4; Spiritualist,
1 1 ; Unitarian, 1 ; United Brethren, 282 : Universalist, 10. There were 7,793 for
whom no returns were made.

The following church statistics for Louisa county are taken from the census
of 1905 :


Catholic, 1 ; Christian, 2 ; Congregational, 2 ; Free Methodist, 1 ; Methodist
(Episcopal), 11; Presbyterian. 5: United Brethren, 2; United Presbyterian, 2.
Total, 26.


Catholic. 1 ; Christian, 2 ; Congregational, 2 ; Free Methodist, 1 ; Methodist
(Episcopal), 11: Presbyterian, 5; United Brethren, 2: United Presbyterian, 2.
Total, 26.


Catholic, $1,000; Christian, $11,000; Congregational, $3,000; Free Methodist,
$800; Methodist (Episcopal). $33,000: Presbyterian, $28,700; United Brethren,
$6,300; United Presbyterian, $15,000. Total, $98,800.


Catholic 150; Christian, 850; Congregational, 360; Free Methodist, 250; Meth-
odist (Episcopal), 3.600; Presbyterian, 1,590: United Brethren, 800: United
Presbyterian. 760. Total. 8.360.


Catholic, 60; Christian. 175; Congregational, 145: Free Methodist. 29: Meth-
odist (Episcopal), 1.070; Presbyterian, 550; United Brethren. 213; United Pres-
byterian, t,^. Total, 2,575. ■


Catholic, 10; Christian, 70; Congregational, 155; Free Methodist, 30; Meth-
odist (Episcopal), 850; Presbyterian, 440; United Brethren, 184; United Presby-
terian, 195. Total. 1,934-



Congregational. 2; Free .Methodist, 1 ; Methodist ( Episcopal), 5; Presbyterian,
2; United Brethren, 2; United Presbyterian. 2. Total, 14.


Congregational, $2,200; Free Methodist, $600; Methodist (Episcopal),
$7,900; Presbyterian, $3,300; United Brethren, $2,600; United Presbyterian,
$3,800. Total, $20,400.


Catholic, $1,000; Christian. $11,000; Congregational, $5,200; Free Methodist,
$1,400; Methodist (Episcopal), $40,900; Presbyterian, $32,000; United Brethren,
$8,900; United Presbyterian, $18,800. Total, $119,200.


Next to rinding out something definite about the early ministers and their
meetings, the most difficult problem we have met is to get satisfactory informa-
tion concerning the early schools and school teachers. It is probable that John
VV. Ferguson taught the first school in the county, in Toolesboro, and there also
was probably erected the first schoolhouse in the count)'. Professor Macy in
discussing "Institutional beginnings," expresses the opinion that the public
school system in this state was not really in operation until about 1855. This
is a very interesting subject and one that ought to be near to the hearts of all
who are interested in the general welfare, ami we have therefore thought 11
best to give considerable attention to it.

The first superintendent of public instruction was in the territorial days, the
office being filled by William Reynolds, and his first report is found in the appen-
dix to the journal of the council of the fourth legislative assembly. According
to that report, Des Moines county then had eight of its nine townships organized
for school purposes, and seven of them had elected school inspectors, but none
had made a report to the superintendent. It is stated, however, that there were
several good schools in Des Moines county, which were liberally supported.
Burlington alone had seven schools, one in which the higher branches of English
education were taught and another devoted to the education of young ladies.

Of the thirteen townships in Lee county, four had reported. These four had
been divided into school districts, most of which appeared to have been organized
and were acting under the law. Denmark township had five districts, and it is of
interest to know that district Nb. i had forty-five persons of school age and had
voted to have four months of school in the winter and three in the summer, and
had levied a tax of $103.21, $90 of which was for the support of a school and the
balance for a library. We quote what the report says about Louisa county: "In
Louisa county the townships have organized and there are several organized dis-
tricts ; some acting under the law, I am informed, reported to the clerk of the
court who, not having reported to this office, I can only speak from personal ob-
servation of the schools. There have been several taught in the county during
the past summer— some very good— and there are several in operation this win-


ter. There appears no want of zeal. Want of schoolhouses and teachers, and
the scattered situation of the inhabitants, pleads excuse."

We have made diligent search for the reports referred to by Superintendent

Online LibraryArthur SpringerHistory of Louisa County, Iowa, from its earliest settlement to 1912 (Volume 1) → online text (page 48 of 54)