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HISTORY

OF

DES MOINES COUNTY

IOWA

AND ITS PEOPLE

By AUGUSTINE M. ANTROBUS



ILLUSTRATED



VOLUME



CHICAGO

THE S. J. CLARKE PUBLISHING COMPANY
1915



THE NEW YORK
PUBLIC LIBRARY

731363

ASTOR, LENOX AND

TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

R 1916 L



PREFACE



In presenting this volume to the people of Des Moines County, the author
has this to say. It was with some reluctance he undertook the task of writing
a history of the county and its people. He felt such a history ought to be
written, but would have preferred that its writing would have fallen to a more
competent person. He does not claim that the work presented is a complete
history of the county in every respect, nor that it is free from error. To
write such a history would be impossible. It is the best that could be produo d
under the circumstances and within "the allotted time for its writing. The
writer has lived in the county for fifty-nine years and knew many of the pioneers
and early settlers of the county while many of the incidents of which he has
written, are from memory.

He is under many obligations to the Hon. J. L. Waite, editor of the Burlington
Ilawkeye; Hon. Arthur Springer of Wapello, Louisa County; Mrs. A. T.
I lav, the oldest living native resident of Des Moines County; Hon. Daniel
Matson of Mediapolis; the Hon. J. II. Dodds and II. C. Springer of Danville;
and to Miss Miriam I'.. Wharton, the efficient librarian of the Free Public Library
of Burlington, for valuable assistance in procuring proper material for the
work; and he is especially under obligation to lion. Thomas Merrill of Mediap-
\olis for permission to obtain information from the valuable history of Yellow
ISprings and Huron Townships written by his father, J. W. Merrill, now

deceased.

A. M. AXTROBUS.






CONTENTS



CHAPTER I

PAGl

INTRODUCTION I

CHAPTER II

THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE 8

CHAPTER III

;'I KE's EXPEDITION IO

CHAPTER IV

ORGANIZATIONS OF THE DIFFERENT TERRITORIES OUT OF WHICH DES MOINES

( OUNTY, IOWA, CAME INTO EXISTENCE I ->

CHAPTER V

INDIAN OCCUPATION I S

CHAPTER VI

BLACK HAWK PUR< HASE 22

CHAPTER VII

TOPOGRAPHY OF DES MOINES COUNTY, IOWA

CHAPTER VIII

GEOLOGY OF DES MOINES COUNTY 31

CHAPTER IX

PIONEERS OF OLD AND NEW DES MOINES I OUNTY I 1

CHAPTER X

BURLINGTON, tTS FOUNDATION AND GROWTH 95

CHAPTER XI

HISTORY OF BURLINGTON, CONTINUED ' "'

V



vi CONTENTS

CHAPTER XII

PAGE
HAWKEYE PIONEER ASSOCIATION I ig

CHAPTER XIII

EXTENSION OF THE CITY LIMITS 147

CHAPTER XIV

TRIAL, SENTENCE AND EXECUTION OF WILLIAM AND STEPHEN HODGES 1 50

CHAPTER XV

HOTELS OF BURLINGTON 1 37

CHAPTER XVI

PUBLIC AND OTHER SCHOOLS OF BURLINGTON 162

CHAPTER XVII

WAR WITH MISSOURI l8l

CHAPTER XVIII

JUDICIAL DISTRICTS AND JUDGES AND OTHER OFFICES 331

CHAPTER XIX

PUBLIC HIGHWAYS . 348

CHAPTER XX

SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR STOCK IN 15. M. R. R. CO 353

CHAPTER XXI

BANKS AND BANKING 357

CHAPTER XXII

THE SEMI-CENTENNIAL IN IOWA 364

CHAPTER XXIII

POLITICS AND POLITICIANS 387

CHAPTER XXIV

MEMBERS OF THE DES MOINES COUNTY' BAR 398

CHAPTER XXV

SOME OF THE PIONEER MINISTERS OF DES MOINES COUNTY 412

CHAPTER XXVI

MEDICAL PROFESSION 424



CONTENTS vii

CHAPTER XXVII

PAGE

Li PRESS OF DES MOINES COUNTY 1^1

CHAPTER XXVII]

RAILWAYS AND I II I.IK BUILDERS Me

i HAPTER XXIX

DRAINAGE DISTRK TS |l „ ,

CHAPTER XXX

HAWKEYE NATIVES y , _■

CHAPTER XXXI

CHURCHES OF BURLINGTON ji,;

CHAPTER XXXII

YOUNG MEN'S AND YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATIONS OF BURLINGTON. .487

CHAPTER XXXIII

FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY OF BURLINGTON 49J

CHAPTER XXXIV

CRAFO AND OTHER PARKS OF BURLINGTON |o s

CHAPTER XXXV

POSTOFFICE AND POSTMASTERS AT BURLINGTON 500

CHAPTER XXXVI

COMMERCIAL EXCHANGE 5°3

CHAPTER XXXVII

BURLINGTON, \UGUSTA, UNION, BENTON, FLINT RIVER, JACKSON, TAMA AND CON-
CORDIA TOWNSHIPS 5°4

CHAPTER XXXVIII

YELLOW SPRINGS AND HURON TOWNSHIPS . r ' S

ill U'TKR XXXIX

DANVILLE. PLEASANT GROVE. FRANKLIN AND WASHINGTON TOWNSHIPS 537



I^^^^^^^^B






















Ma



AUGUSTIXE M. ANTROBUS



History of Des Moines County



Chapter i

INTRODUCTION

A county is an integral part of a state, and a state, of a nation composed of
states. In writing a history of a county, one of necessity must write concerning
the activities taken by its people in the affairs of the state or nation, as well as
those of its own domestic concerns. The people of a county are not only citizens
of the state to which the county belongs, but of the nation of which the state is
a part. The people comprising the states at the formation of the Federal Con-
stitution were the fathers of the republic. In the preamble of that Constitution
they caused to be written, "We, the people of the United States, in order to form
a more perfect union, establish justice, etc., do ordain and establish this Constitu-
tion for the United States of America," thereby declaring they were citizens of
the republic as contradistinguished from their citizenship to state or any other
municipal body. They recognized as binding upon them as individuals the
Federal Constitution which they had created. From the premises thus laid down
it will be seen that in writing a history of a county one must take into consideration
all those things with which it is directly connected in so far as its material welfare
is concerned, as well as the mental and moral development of its people. To
write a complete history of a county one must go back of its organization as a
municipal body and discover the condition of things before it came into existence.
We want to know who discovered the country of which it is a part; when dis-
covered, and trace in a chronological order, the successive events which have
taken place in past times. In 1492 Columbus gave to Castile and Arragon a new
world. From this event we now have a white race of people inhabiting the country
in which we live. Pefore this discovery, west of that narrow strait which sep-
arates Europe from Africa, was an Ultima Tliule, an unknown region, a bound-
less ocean, in whose fathomless depths lay slumbering the fabulous but lost
Atlantas. For one hundred years and more after the discovery of the new world,
bold navigators of Spain, Portugal, France and England skirted along the coast
of the two Americas, going into bays and up great rivers, seeking to find an open-
ing whereby they could reach Cathay, which Marco Polo had in the latter part
of the thirteenth century made known to the world. A century and more had
passed before any attempts had been made towards a permanent settlement in
this country. The discovery of rich mines of gold and silver in South America
and Mexico had fired the imagination of men to such an extent that expeditions
had been fitted out to explore the vast territories lying between the Atlantic and
Pacific oceans. While on one of these expeditions, Fernando De Soto found bis



2 HISTORY OF DES MOINES COUNTY

grave in the waters of- the great river which washes the shores of Des Moines
County. In 1640 Coronado and companions, lured by the call of the wild and
the seven fabled cities of Civola amidst the mountains, in which they were told
were rich mines of gold and silver, started from the Spanish settlement on the
shores of the Pacific, fought their way over mountains, passed by the cliff dwellers
of Arizona, thence proceeded east over deserts of sand on which grew the thorny
cactus, then over the great plains on which roamed unmolested the bison, and
came to the Missouri River. Where, worn and weary, there they halted ; then
retraced their steps to the place from which they had departed. During, and after
these times of adventures on land, pirates and buccaneers infested the seas, prey-
ing on ships laden with the products of the mines of Peru and Mexico and rich
cargoes of spices and fruits. In 1O07, 115 years after the discovery of Colum-
bus, the first permanent settlement was made at Jamestown, Ya. In 1620 the
Pilgrim Fathers made a settlement in what was subsequently called New Eng-
land. ' In 1626 Peter Minuit bought from the Indians Manhattan Island for
the equivalent of $24. Between 1607 an d 1680 permanent settlements had been
made along the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Georgia. This is the time during
which is called the "Swarming of the English." Canada was discovered by Henry
Cabot in 1497. The first settlement, made in 1544 by the French, was at St.
Croix Harbor, and the country discovered became known as New France. In
the near future the French founded Quebec and Montreal. Through the St.
Lawrence, the then Xew France, they had communication with the great lakes,
and to all that uninhabited part of the country west of Pennsylvania, and lying
south of lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior, and by portage, from the Fox
River to the Wisconsin, thence to the Mississippi River, and thence to the Gulf of
Mexico. What was to be the destiny of this country, lay between two peoples ;
one the Anglo-Saxon, the other Celtic. Neither had a primary right to the soil,
it belonged to the Indians, the first discoverers and settlers. Why the people of
Des Moines County are not French instead of English in nationality, has been
determined by what was done in succeeding times. The French held the vantage
points of this vast territory. The English colonists had a long line of settlements
along the coast of the Atlantic, a feathery edge of battle line, without the means
of entering into this land except over mountains and through dense forests. The
struggle was to be for a land more beautiful and fruitful than the one which the
eyes of Moses, when dimmed with age, saw from the top of Xebo. France laid
claim to this land by right of discovery. The English claimed it, because of the
discovery of the coast line. The French voyagers and missionaries went together;
one to discover and claim for his King the land discovered, the other, to claim
what was discovered for Christ, and where one set up the standard of his King,
the other, near by, erected the Cross of Calvary ; established a mission, and made
known to the wild savage there dwelling, the name of the Redeemer of Mankind.
There were no obstacles, which were permitted to retard their progress, no dan-
gers they would not face. Silently and alone, they paddled their frail barks along
the margins of the great lakes, and at vantage points erected their several stand-
ards ; there to mark the place for the erection of a fort, there also to be built a
church of logs, on which was to be placed a bell, whose solemn sound penetrating
the dense forests would call their wild dwellers to prayer. Where the discoverer
designated, the military power of France came, built a fort which was mounted



HISTORY OF DES MOINES COl NTY 3

with a few pieces of rusty cannon. There it erected log houses for soldiers' ti-
ters surrounded by stakes driven in the ground and pointed at their tops I"
guard this vast extent of territory a line of such forts had been established at
vantage points, commencing at Fort Du Quesne at the confluence of the Monon-
gahela and Ohio rivers. Due north from this fort, another was erected on the
shore of Lake Erie. These were the strategic points to bar the invasions of the
English; especially Fort Du Quesne. Another had been erected at what is now
called Detroit, to guard there, that narrow neck of water, to prevent entrance
from Lake Erie to Lake St. Clair, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Michigan.
Another was erected at St. [gnace at the Straits of Mackinac, to guard the
entrance to Lake Michigan. The occupation of the French was a military occu-
pation, with little, if any, effort, to make homes for a people, who had C e to till

the soil, to conquer a wilderness and make it administer to their outward wants.
The missionary came with the discoverer to convert the inhabitants, nol to con-
quer the red skinned Canaanites who dwelt in this land, lie came to point them
the way to Lleaven and God, instead of digging in the ground, "to dress the earth
and keep it." Contemporary with the French discoverer and missionary, came
the "Couer Des Boies," the trapper and hunter, lie was the pioneer of trade;
was the familiar of the Indian; lived in his wigwam, dipped hi - dirty wooden
spoon into the same bowl of succotash with the Indian; squatted around hi- camp
fire, learned his speech, engaged in his chats; wooed and won tin dark skinned
maiden of the forest, who gave birth to his child; but always faithful to tin one
to whom he had plighted his love. During the long cold winters, he set his traps
amidst the woods and along the margins of rivers and lakes, and daily plodded
from one to the other, and when night came, skinned the animals caught, pre-
served their pelts to await the coming of spring time; then, loading them in
canoes, commenced his long journey along the edges of the lakes, then through
the St. Lawrence to Alontreal and Quebec, which were his only markets. When
there in glowing tones described the country from which he came, arousing
others to follow his course. Such was the character of the men and tin co
tions which existed at those times, and continued to exist for more than a cen-
tury, in the territory out of which has been carved the states of Michigan, Wis-
consin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky. Tennessee, .Mississippi, Alabama, and
the states west of the Mississippi River. A young lad of twenty-one years of age.
named George Washington, with a small hand, was directed b) the governor of
Virginia, in the winter of 1754, to proceed and warn the French to leave what was
called the Ohio Country. In midwinter, through dense forests and over frozen
rivers Washington carried out his commission. I laving arrived at Lort I )u
Quesne he was hospitably entertained, but given to understand his majesty the
King of France was ruler of all the territory lying to the west, and thi
there to guard it. On May 28, [854, on his homeward journey. George Wash
ington had the temerity to attack a French scouting party, whose commander wa
killed. On the 3d of July of the same year, he fought with the French what is
called the battle of the ••('.real Meadows." The action taken by George Wash-
ington in these attacks, precipitated what is known in history in this country as
the "French and Indian War." and in Europe, as the "Seven Years' War." When
Gen. lames Wolfe lav dying on the Plains of Abraham, and I'.ritish red ■■..its and
American militia were thundering at the gates of Quebec, all the claim of right



4 HISTORY OF DES MOINES COUNTY

of the French to what is called Canada, and that portion to which it laid claim
east of the Mississippi, passed away, and England became the owner and master
of the land extending from the long line of Atlantic coast to the Mississippi. In
1763 peace was declared by which England acquired this territory. But such was
the decree of fate, to hold it only for a short period, for in 1775 England engaged
in war with its North American colonies and lost them at the termination of the
Revolutionary war.

The treaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain was con-
cluded at Paris on the 30th of November, 1782. This treaty fixed the boundaries
of the United States. That portion pertaining to its western boundary set out
in substance, "The line on the north was to pass through the middle of Lake
Ontario, to the Niagara River; thence along the middle of said communication
into Lake Erie; thence through the middle of said lake, until it arrives at the
water communication between that lake and Lake Superior; thence through
Lake Superior north and to the Isles Royal and Philipeaux, to the Long Lake;
thence through the middle of said Long Lake and the water of communication
between it and the Lake of the Woods; thence through said lake to the north-
western point thereof ; and, from thence on a due west course to the Mississippi
River ; thence by a line to be drawn along the middle of said Mississippi until it
intersects the northern-most of the thirty-first degree of north latitude. South,
by a line to be drawn due east from the determination of the line last mentioned,
in the latitude of thirty-one degrees north of the equator to the middle of the
River Apachicola or Chatahouche; thence along the middle thereof to its junction
with the Flint River, thence straight to the head of St. Mary's River; thence down
the middle of the St. Mary's River to the Atlantic Ocean." It will be seen from
the above described boundaries what is now called Lake Huron was called Lake
Superior; and what is now known as Lake Superior was called Long Lake in
the Treaty of Paris. By the treaty the southern boundary line was sixty miles
and more north of the City of New Orleans, thus preventing the United States
from having the free navigation of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico,
which subsequently caused so much "inquietude" to the people of the United
States as expressed by President Jefferson, and which led to the acquisition of the
territory known as the District of Louisiana.

In 1762 France ceded to Spain all her possessions west of the Mississippi
which extended to the Rocky Mountains. This territory was subsequently trans-
ferred by Spain to France, and acquired by the United States in 1803, and is
known in history as the Louisiana Purchase. So it is, the source of title which
the inhabitants of this county hold to their lands comes from France. In 1668,
Marquette, a Jesuit priest, founded a mission at St. Mary's Falls, and two years
later established one at Point St. Ignace. While at St. Ignace, Marquette learned
from the Indians the existence of a great river far away to the west. It was
pictured to him in glowing terms, its waters deep and wide, and smooth, and as
flowing through the most beautiful of lands. That upon its shores dwelt tribes
of red men who fished in its waters, hunted the deer in the woods bordering its
banks, and the big bison that roamed the prairies beyond the woods. These
stories excited his imagination and inflamed the zeal of this disciple of Loyola
to make known to the natives of this land the name of the Redeemer, and to
strengthen and extend the name and fame of the Holy Catholic Church. On the



HISTORY OF DES MOINES COUNTY

other hand, M. Tolon, the governor-general of Canada, was just as anxious to
extend the dominions of his king, as Marquette was to extend the knowledge of
the Gospel to the benighted heathen inhabiting this far away land, and to find out
whether that great river flowed into the Pacific Ocean, or the Gull ol Mi :i o
One Joliet, under the direction of the governor-general, was to be the commander
of the expedition which consisted of himself, Marquette and five French-Cana-
dians. On the l8th of May, 1673, they started from .Mackinac on their perilous
journey of discovery and of converting the heathen whom they might find. I
bell of the church at St. Ignace called to prayers the denizens of the forests,
after which they were to witness the departure of these bold adventurers. No
attempts of persuasion could induce them to forego their perilous journey.
Marquette said to them "he was willing to encounter all dangers of the unknown
regions, even to lay down his life, for the salvation of the souls of these children
in the far away unknown regions who dwelt along the great river." The paddles
of the canoes all day long kept striking the water, as silently they coasted along
the north side of Lake Michigan until they came to the smooth waters of Green
Bay; then they passed up into the Fox River and Lake Winnebago, and came to
a village of Miamis and Kickapoos. A mission had been established at this place
the previous year. Marquette caused to be assembled the chiefs of those tribes,
and addressed them. Among the things he said to them was, "M\ friend lure
with me (pointing to Joliet) has been sent forth by his king, to discover new
countries, and I am an ambassador of God going with him, to make known to the
people the truths of the Gospel." At this place two Miami guides were furnished
to pilot them to the Wisconsin River. On the 10th of June, with all the inhabit-
ants of the village present, they took their departure into a region where the fool
of white men had never trod. Under the direction of their guides they ra
the portage from the Fox to the Wisconsin River; their guides returning, they
proceeded down the Wisconsin with its gloomy forests on both sides, when on
the 17th day of June their canoes shot out on the broad white waters of the I lie.it
Mississippi at a point more than eleven hundred miles north of where one hundred
and thirty-two years before Ferdinando De Soto had discovered the lower Mis-
sissippi. It was then, the veil of mystery which had hid from the view of white
men this unknown land was lifted. Rapidly drifting with the current of the
great river, they pursued their course, not knowing whether they would enter
the Gulf of Mexico, or their barks glide out on the smooth waters of the Pacific.
They saw great herds of Buffalo standing on the banks of the river, and many
deer which came to its margins, there to slake their thirst. ( )n the _>4th of June
they passed the high bluff which is the eastern border of Crapo Park in Burlii
ton, where on the 23d of August, 1S05, Lieut. Zebulon M. Tike, a -on ol a
hero of the Revolutionary war, unfurled the stars and stripe- [32 years after-
wards. From the time they departed from the village of the Miamis and Kicka-
poos on the Fox River, they had been unable to detect the trace of a human foot,
until on the 25th of June they stopped at a place where they found some 1 races of
human beings, and a path which led out to a prairie to the west. Following the
path for several miles, they saw in the distance', a strip of woodland extending
in a southwest direction and smoke coming from amidst the woods. Eagerly they
sought this a human habitation, and arriving there, found a village of wigwams.
On the banks of another river which flowed in an easterly direction, they found



6 HISTORY OF DES MOINES COUNTY

also two other villages a few miles away from the one first discovered. Here our
voyagers stayed for several days, Marquette preaching to them, while Joliet
made known to them the Great Father, the King of France. A dispute exists
as to the place where they landed and saw the foot prints. We will not take sides
in this controversy. We quote from the history of Iowa by Gue: "The exact
location of the point on the Mississippi where Marquette and his party landed is
not known ; but from the meager description that was given, nearly all investi-
gators agree, that it must have been near where the Town of Montrose stands,
in Lee County, at the head of the lower rapids. The village at which the
explorers were entertained was called by the Indians Mon-in-go-na. Whether
the same name was given to the river along which their villages were built is not
certain." Nicolet gives the following version of the matter and of the origin and
meaning of the name "Des Moines" which was given to the river by the earliest
white settlers in its valley. He writes: "The name which they gave to their
settlement was Moningonas or Moningona (as laid down in the ancient maps
of the country) and is a corruption of the Algonquin word Mikonang, signifying
at the road. The Indians by their customary elliptical manner of designating
localities, alluding in this instance to the well known road in this section of the
country, which they used to follow as a communication between the head of the
lower rapids and their settlement on the river that empties itself into the Missis-
sippi ; to avoid the rapids. This is still the practice of the present inhabitants
of the country." Prof. Laneas Gifford Weld in a well considered article pub-
lished in the Iowa Journal of History and Politics in January, 1905, contends
with force and reason, that the place where these voyagers landed and discovered
the human foot prints and the villages of Indians was on the Mississippi near
Port Louisa in Louisa County, Iowa, sixty miles or more north of the site of
Montrose. Professor Weld's contention, as we understand it, is based on an
error of Marquette as to the latitude of the place where they landed. That if the
correct latitude be taken, it places their stoppage near Port Louisa. Marquette
says, after they had reached the mouth of the Wisconsin, "Proceeding south and
southwest we find ourselves at 40 north ; then at 40 and some minutes, partly
southwest after having advanced more than sixty leagues since entering the river,



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