Western Historical Co.

The history of Jefferson County, Iowa, containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., a biographical directory of citizens, war records of its volunteers in the late rebellion, general and local statistics, portraits of early settlers and prominent men, history of the Northwest, his online

. (page 52 of 75)
Online LibraryWestern Historical CoThe history of Jefferson County, Iowa, containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., a biographical directory of citizens, war records of its volunteers in the late rebellion, general and local statistics, portraits of early settlers and prominent men, history of the Northwest, his → online text (page 52 of 75)
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of corn and vegetables ; household furniture ; 5 beds and bedding ; 1 clock ; 1
table ; with $500 in cash ; 1 cross-cut saw and other carpenter's tools.


The time was, and not many years ago, either, when the "color line" was
as clearly defined in Iowa as in any other part of the country. The act under
which Jefferson County was organized was approved January 21, 1839. The


same day an act was also approved that was intended to prevent black or-
mulatto persons from coming into the Territory. That act provided that from
and after the 1st day of April, 1839, '■' no black or mulatto person shall be per-
mitted to settle in the Territory, unless he or she shall produce a fair certificate-
from some court of the United States, of his or her actual freedom."

The act was powerless as to its purpose, for "black" and "mulatto" per-
sons did come and settle in the Territory. When Gen. Street came as Indian
Agent, to what is now Agency City, in Wapello County, he brought with him
a colored man named Charles Forrester. In 1843, when Fairfield had grown
large enough to maintain a barber-shop, Forrester came here to commence busi-
ness. Some of the people were so "shocked" at the thought of a negro doing
business "on his own hook," that they made complaint to the County Commis-
sioners, and asked for an enforcement of the law herein quoted. The Com-
missioners made application to George Acheson, who was then Prosecuting
Attorney, to have Forrester arrested and " hired out," under the provisions of
the law. Acheson refused, on the ground that Forrester had come to the Ter-
ritory before any of them — that, in fact, he had been brought here by Gen.
Street, an agent of the United States Government, and that he was just as
much entitled to the freedom of the country as "any other man." There the
matter rested. Forrester opened a barber-shop, and managed to make and save
money. He finally drifted out of sight ; but the attempt to have him arrested
and sold remains as one of the memories of "slavery days" in Iowa.

The following "deed of freedom," copied from the records in the Recorder's
ofiice, is not without interest. The object of the "deed" was, no doubt,
intended to save the deeded woman from the annoyance busybodies might
occasion her under the Black Laws of the 21st of January, 1839:

Know all men by these piesenis, That we, Mary Mosley, of the village of Fairfield, in the-
county of .Jefferson and State of lo-wa, widow of Thomas Mosely, late of Davis County, Ken-
tucky, deceased, and George W. Mosely, of the same village, son of the said Thomas Mosely, do
hereby certify and declare that the said Thomas died in the said county of Uavis, possessed of-
Caroline, a slave, who is a mulatto girl now aged about thirty-nine years, about four feet three
inches high, stout, bony frame, but not corpulent, large face, strongly-marked features, hazel
eyes, ordinary mulatto complexion, of about half-blood, with some small moles or specks scat-
tered upon the face, the two principal being one on the right side, low on the forehead, even i
with and to the right of the eyebrow; the other, on the top of the nose; of neat habits,' rather-
intelligent and cheerful and free of speech, with hair mostly straight and beginning to turn gray
on c'ose inspection, but otherwise black ; and that the said Thomas, by his last Will and Testa-
ment, recorded in said county of Davis, bequeathed the said Caroline to his widow for life, with
remainder over to the said George, his son ; and that we, the said Mary and George, afterward
emigrated to the State of Illinois, and thence to the State of Iowa, bringing with us into those-
States successively, the said slave, Caroline, as our own free and voluntary act of emancipation,
knowing and intending that the said Caroline would and did become free by our said act in car-
rying her into said free States ; and we do certify and declare that the said Caroline did thereby
become and is manumitted and free to all intents and purposes whatsoever ; and that we do not,
nor either of us, claim, and will never claim any authority over her, or right to her services, or
ownership of her, as a slave or otherwise, except so far as she may voluntarily and of her own
free-will and pleasure, accompany the said Mary, her former mistress, as a personal attendant
and companion in the capacity of a free woman of color.

In testimony whereof we have hereunto set our hand and affixed our seals this nineteenth
day of October, A. D. 1849, at Fairfield aforesaid. Mary Mosely. [seal.]

Witness : G. W. Mosely. [seal.]

Wm L. Hamilton.

Lucy M. Hamilton.

Acknowledged before Cyrus Olney, District Judge.

The above instrument of "freedom" is recorded under date of October 30,
1849, twelve years before the commencement of the great and final conflict between
freedom and slavery, the result of which was to render such instruments of writing
and record relics of barbarism.


In this connection it may be mentioned that Fairfield was an approved sta-
tion on the line of the underground railroad, along which many hundred men,
-women and children were conveyed in the later days of slavery. The old house
— a two-story one — is still standing in the southern part of Fairfield. The
keeper is still in the enjoyment of life, health and happiness, and many a poor,
panting, fleeing slave that he succored, blesses the name of Benjamin Pierce.


The first announcement of a railroad meeting was in the Sentinel of October
'6, 1848. The first railroad meeting was held January 6, 1849, Capt. Daniel
Rider, Chairman, and Dr. William L. Orr, Secretary. 0. Negus, J. Rider,
William I. Cooper, William Gr. Coop, Arthur Bridgman and William Pitkin,
were chosen Trustees to solicit subscriptions in Jefferson County. V. P. Van
Antwerp, S. J. Bayard and C. W. Slagle, a committee to memorialize Con-
gress for a grant of land.

In 1858, the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad was completed through
the county, having twenty-seven miles within the county, being assessed at $12,-
000 per mile. In 1856, the county, by vote, authorized the County Judge to sub-
scribe $100,000 to the capital stock of this road. Thirty thousand dollars of the
bonds were issued and delivered to the Company. It was decided by the Supreme
Court, in 1862, that such subscriptions were illegal, without authority and void.
Under this decision the County never issued the remaining $70,000 of bonds,
but enjoined the Company from negotiating all that it had on hand and
actually tied up, and also enjoined $15,000 of the $30,000 issued, which only
left $15,000 of the bonds for the county to pay and which it has paid with the 8
per cent interest. In 1877, the county brought suit against the Railroad Com-
pany for recovery of the whole amount paid, which, with the interest, amounts
to more than $50,000. The suit was brought on the ground that inasmuch as
the bonds were issued without authority of law are ultra viris, and were, in
fact, but accommodation paper. The suit is still pending, with D. P. Stubbs
as attorney for the county.

In 1870, the Chicago & Southwestern Railroad was completed through the
county, crossing the Burlington & Missouri at Fairfield. It has 26 4-5 miles
in the county, being assessed at $3,700 per mile. The citizens of the county
subscribed $135,000 to secure the Chicago & Southwestern Railroad.

The survey of the St. Louis, Keosauqua & St. Paul Railroad has been
made through the county intersecting the Chicago & Southwestern Railroad and
the Burlington & Missouri Railroad at Fairfield.

A tax of $40,000 was voted in 1871 to aid in building the Ft. Madison &
Northwestern Railroad.

The first train of cars entered Fairfield over the Burlington & Missouri
Railroad on Wednesday, September 1, 1858. Immense preparations had been
made to celebrate the happy event. A meeting of the citizens was held August
24 previous, over which Samuel Jacobs presided, and of which James Eckert
was Secretary.

A stirring address was issued calling the people to attend the celebration,
and committees appointed :

On the Dinner— G. W. Honn, A. R. Fulton, W. B. Rowland, William
McLain, James S. Beck, Daniel McDonald, J. L. Myers, C. S. Shafier and D.

To meet the cars at Mi. Pleasant on the day of celebration — Dr. J. C.
Ware, George Craine and C. H. Green.


41 *& ".

fe vi . ,,' 1 .J



On Arrangements — James Thompson, A. M. Scott, W. R. Alexander,
Samuel Jacobs, James Bckert, C. W. Burnham, E. S. Gage and William L.

On Toasts— K. R. Fulton, A. M. Scott and D. B. Littleton.

September arrived and was ushered in at sunrise by the firing of cannon,
■which continued every half-hour until 10 o'clock. The whole surrounding
country was in town by this time. A table had been prepared in the park,
stretching around the entire inclosure.

At 11 o'clock a train of seventeen cars filled with military and fire com-
panies and citizens from Burlington and Mt. Pleasant, also the several bands of
music from those cities.

The military fired salutes. The fire companies " squirted " water to the
astonishment and delight of the quiet country people, who had never witnessed
such exhibitions before. At 12 o'clock, the regular train arrived from the East
bringing several hundred passengers. An appropriate address of welcome was
delivered by A. M. Scott and responded to by Hon. W. F. Coolbaugh, recently
■deceased in Chicago, but at that time a banker at Burlington. After dinner in
the park, the regular toasts were read by A. R. Fulton, Chairman of the Com-
mittee :

1. '■'■Iron — The metal which transcends in value the finest gold.; its magic
tissues make distant nations neighbors."

Responded to by Senator James Harlan.

2. " Steam and Electricity."

Responded to by Prof. J. T. Roberts, of Burlington.

3. " The Iron Horse — May the time speedily come when he will stop to take
a drink in the Missouri and anon quench his thirst in the waters of the Pacific."

Response by J. L. Corse, of Burlington.

4. " The Burlington ^ Missouri River Railroad Company. "
Response by W. W. Walbridge, of Burlington.

5. "■Agriculture."

Response by Dr. Stebbins, of Mt. Pleasant.

Other regular toasts followed to the number of fifteen, when volunteers were
offered, among which was one by " a citizen " : Woman — "May her virtues be
as large as her hoops and her imperfections as small as her bonnet."

Two mammoth pyramidal cakes had been prepared by the ladies, and,
through Mr. A. M. Scott, were formally presented to Des Moines and Henry
Counties. In the evening, a grand ball came ofiF at Wells' new hall, at which
about one hundred couples were present.

Gov. Ralph P. Lowe, Hon. J. W. Rankin, of Keokuk, and Hon. Francis
Springer, of Louisa County, sent congratulatory letters.

The track of the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad crossed the Burlington
& Missouri River Railroad track at 4 o'clock P. M., Saturday, September 29,
1870. Hundreds of people were out to witness the " crossing."


In the summer and fall of 1851, was inaugurated the first movement for the
establishment of a County Fair. A notice was published in the Fairfield Ledger
calling the citizens together at the Court House on the 24th of January, 1852.
The meeting was called to order by appointing D. Rider, Chairman, and Caleb
Baldwin, Secretary. Articles of Incorporation 'were drafted, which were recorded


October 16, 1852. At this meeting, officers were elected : Benjamin Robin-
son, PJfesident ; James Beatty, Vice President ; Caleb Baldwin, Secretary ;
Charles Negns, Treasurer ; W. P. Pearson, P. L. Huyett, D. C. Brown, David'
Switzer and L. T. Gillett, Managers.

The first premium-list was published April 17, 1853, with premiums offered
amounting to $125, and the first fair appointed for the second Tuesday of Octo-
ber following. But little interest was manifested, and the sum total awarded in
premiums amounted to |45. This sum was distributed as follows :

Best stallion, J. Fletcher, |5 ; second best, P. Cloffenstine, $3 ; best mare,
W. D. Stephens, |3 ; second best, J. W. McCormick, $2 ; best two-year-
old colt, B. Travis, $3 ; best jack, L. T. Gillett, $3; best jenny, H. B. Mitchell^
f 3 ; best two-year-old mule, L. T. Gillett, $3 ; best milch cow, D. McLean,
|3 ; second best, M. Ramsey, $2 ; best bull-calf, D. Mowry, $1 ; best boar,
J. Gillett, $3 ; best butter, W. D. Stephens, |2 ; second best; S. S. Clapp, |1 ;
best oats, J. Gillett, $3 ; second best, L. T. Gillett, $2 ; best tin and sheet-iron
ware, T. Dare, $2 ; second best, J. W. Runnels, $1.

Other articles exhibited, for which no premiums had been offered, were hon-
orably mentioned in the committee's report. " The specimens of apples exhib'
ited by T. Duncanson were the finest ever exhibited in this county, and cannot
be beaten anywhere in the State."

The weather during the first fair was inclement, and many who would have
been exhibitors were kept away. The oificers were not discouraged, however,
and a fair for the next year was provided for on the 12th and 13th of October,
with premiums offered amounting to $301. This fair was a marked improve-
ment over the previous year, and premiums were awarded amounting to $274.
The officers for 1853 were P. L. Huyett, President ; J. W. Culbertson, Vice
President ; Charles Negus, Treasurer ; Caleb Baldwin, Secretary ; H. B.
Mitchell, James Beatty, Robert McCord, D. Switzer and B. B. Tuttle, Mana-

In 1854, Dr. J. M. Shaffer was elected Secretary, which office he continued
to hold for the next ten years, when his duties as Secretary of the State society
rendered a successor necessary.

In 1856, the fair was held on the Society's own grounds, ten acres for which
had been purchased of J. M. Slagle, southeast of Fairfield. At this fair, pre-
miums were awarded to T. J. Hill on large yield of corn — 144 bushels to the
acre ; L. T. Gillett, 560 bushels Irish potatoes per acre ; J. A. Galliher, 440
bushels sweet potatoes to the acre ; David Mowery, 160 bushels of corn to the
acre, and Jerome Parsons, 47 bushels fall wheat per acre.

In 1861, the constitution of the Society had been amended so as to have a
Director in each township of the county, and, in 1866, the Directors decided
upon erecting a fine-art hall and fitting up the grounds in a creditable manner.
The cost was estimated and divided among the different townships, $300 being
apportioned to Fairfield, and $50 to each of the eleven remaining townships.
Each Director was appointed a canvasser in his own township to raise by sub-
scription the amount of his assessment. The hopes of the Society were not
realized. The sums collected were as follows: Fairfield, $270.50; Liberty,
$10.50; Black Hawk, $8.50; Cedar, $3; Des Moines, $22; Penn,
$10; total, $324.50. Walnut, Polk, Locust Grove, Buchanan, Lockridge,
Round Prairie, did not respond. In the mean time the Directors, having faith
in the support of the different townships, had began a fine-art hall 36x60 feet ■
and other improvements, which could not be left unfinished, and they were
completed at a cost of over $1,000. The fair of 1866 was a greater success


than any previous exhibition, and the excess of receipts over expenses and
premiums was applied, but the close of 1866 found the Society $687 in

H. N. Moore succeeded Dr. Shaffer as Secretary in 1864, but held the
oflSce only one year. He was succeeded by John R. Shaffer, who resigned in

1874, having been elected to succeed Dr. J. M. Shaffer, as Secretary of the
State Society.

In the year 1870, a trade was made by the Society with Dr. Steele for
forty acres of land two and a half miles north of Fairfield, in which he
accepted in part payment the ten acres owned by the Society since 1856.

This purchase was thought to be too far from town, and the Directors hesi-
tated to make the improvements necessary for its occupancy as a fair-ground.
In 1872, another trade was made with David Alter for twenty-five acres from
the southwest quarter of his farm, the new purchase being but one and a quar-
ter mile from the city limits. The price paid was $2,500. Alter received in
payment the land purchased of Steele at $30 per acre, in all $1,200, and the
Society's three notes for $433.33 each, payable January 1, 1873, 1874 and

1875, secured by mortgage on the land sold to the Society.

The Directors proceeded at once to erect suitable buildings and track which
were completed in a substantial and permanent manner, but when finished they
found themselves in debt some $7,000. About this time, the stringency in
financial affairs began to be felt. The Society was unable to meet its obliga-
tions and its grounds were sold under foreclosure of mortgage. A fair was
held in 1875, but in 1876 and 1877, it was not thought advisable to make the
attempt. The present year, 1878, it was determined to make an effort to re-
organize, and a successful exhibition was the result. The grounds, which
remain as when sold under the mortgage, are beautifully located and admir-
ably fitted up and there is no doubt but the Society will regain possession,
and, with an improved condition of affairs, will again be in successful opera-


The Iowa State Agricultural Society, which has just held its twenty-fifth
annual exhibition, was born in Jefferson County, and, belonging to the county
history, it is but proper that its origin should be mentioned in this connection.

At the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Jefferson County Agricult-
ural Society, held October 13, 1853, it was, on motion of C. W. Slagle,

Resolved, That the officers of the Society be instructed to take immediate steps to effect the
organization of a State Agricultural Society, and that the officers use their influence to have said
Society hold its first annual exhibition at Fairfield in October, 1854.

The following persons at that time constituted said oflBcers : P. L. Huyett,
President ; Caleb Baldwin, Vice President ; J. M. Shaffer, Secretary.

Charles Negus, Joseph Fill, John Andrews, Jacob Ramey, William S.
Lynch and James Beatty.

The above committee reported at the regular meeting of the Board of
Directors held November 26, 1853.

The following circular letter embodies their report. This was made up by
a subcommittee consisting of P. L. Huyett, Caleb Baldwin and J. M. Shaffer.

The undersigned, appointed a committee of the Jefferson County Agricultural Society to
confer with the different agricultural societies in the State of Iowa, for the purpose of organizine

a State Agricultural Society, respectfully invite your Society to be represented by delegates

nine in number — to meet at Fairfield, Jefferson County, on December 28, 1853, to confer with
delegates from the other county societies.


You are earnestly solicited to be present, that the immediate organization of a State Society
may be completed, and that the time and place of holding our first State fair may be determined
upon. Associations not notiiied through their officers are also invited to be represented. Papers
throughout the State favorable to the organization of such an association will please copy the
above notice. P. L. Hutett, ,

C. Baldwin, [- Committee.

J. M. Shaffer, )

Pursuant to this call, a number of delegates met at the Court House in
Fairfield. D. P. Inskeep, of Wapello, was called to the chair, and D. Shew-
ard, of Jefferson, appointed Secretary.

The credentials of delegates showed a representation from five counties —
Henry, Jefferson, Lee, Van Buren and Wapello.

Communications from Scott and Muscatine were read, and also one from
Hon. James W. Grimes, of Des Moines County ; after which, on motion, a
committee of one from each county society represented was appointed to draft a
Constitution and By-Laws.

The committee was as follows : Thomas Sivetor, Henry County ; P. L.
Huyett, Jefferson County ; Josiah Hinkle, Lee County ; Timothy Day, Van
Buren County ; J. W. Frazier, Henry County ; with J. M. Shaffer, Secretary
of Committee.

• The Constitution reported and adopted provides that " The style of the
Society shall be ' The Iowa State Agricultural Society,' " and its object the
promotion of agriculture, horticulture, manufactures, mechanics and household
arts. Any citizen of the State became a member by payment of not less than
$1 on subscribing and $1 annually thereafter. '

The ofiicers to consist of a President, Vice President and three Directors
from each county society, who together constituted a Board of Control.

The committee suggested Fairfield as the most suitable place for holding the
first annual fair, and proceeded to the election of ofiicers, which resulted as
follows :

President, Thomas W. Clagett, Lee County ; Vice President, D. P.
Inskeep, Wapello County ; Recording Secretary, J. M. Shaffer, Jefferson
County ; Corresponding Secretary, C. W. Slagle, Jefferson County ; Treasurer,
W. B. Chamberlin, Des Moines County.

Also three Managers from each of the following county societies : Lee, Van
Buren, Henry, Jefferson, Wapello, Mahaska, Polk, Des Moines, Louisa, Mus-
catine, Dubuque, Johnson and Scott.

On motion of Mr. Sheward, a committee of five was appointed to memorial-
ize the General Assembly of the State of Iowa, praying for the passage of a bill
rendering pecuniary aid to the furtherance of a permanent establishment of a
State Agricultural Society in this State.

On motion, it was resolved to hold the first annual fair at Fairfield,
Wednesday, October 25, 1854.

A paper being prepared, the following agreed to become members of the
Iowa State Agricultural Society :

Charles Negus, J. M. Shaffer, D. P. Inskeep, Aaron Lapham, J. W. Frazier,
Josiah Hinkle, J. T. Gibson, Stephen Frazier, Evan Marshall, Thomas Siveter,
John Andrews, B. B. Tuttle, Eli Williams, P. L. Huyett.

The newly-elected officers went to work with enthusiasm to prepare for the
coming exhibition. Early in February, 1854, Judge Clagett, the President,
issued a stirring address to the farmers of Iowa, which was followed in April
by one from Secretary Shaffer, in which the officers were requested to meet in
Fairfield on Tuesday, June 6, to arrange a list of premiums. The premium-list


prepared at this meeting was small compared with the present abilities of the
Society, amounting to $1,171. It was but natural that in preparing the first
premium-list there should be many omissions. " Louisa " having complained in
the Iowa Farmer that no award was offered for female equestrianship, Presi-
dent Clagett replied in the same paper :

I can assure your fair correspondent " Louisa," that the cause of her complaint was not
overlooked by the officers of the society in making out the list of premiums, but we were afraid
that our funds might be insufficient for the purpose. My gallantry, however, will not permit
her appeals to go unanswered j consequently, I have directed a premium to be offered at my own
expense, of a fine gold watch, to the boldest and most graceful female equestrienne who shall
enter the list, each lady to be accompanied by a cavalier. The premium to be awarded under
the direction of a committee composed of ladies and gentlemei^

Now, come on. Miss •' Louisa," with all your female friends, as this is to be a fair test of
superior horsemanship among the ladies of Iowa. There must be no backing out now, as the
banter is accepted and the watch will be ready for delivery to the fair winner.

T. W. Clagett, President.

Caleb Baldwin, J. M. Shaffer, B. B. Tuttle, D. Sheward and J. M. Slagle
were appointed a committee to prepare the grounds for the coming fair.

They secured six acres of ground adjoining the town, on land owned by
Gage, now occupied by the Chicago & Rock Island depot, which they inclosed
with " a substantial straight rail fence ten feet high," erected sheds and stalls
upon all sides of the inclosure and sixty rail pens for sheep, hogs, etc. A track
1,500 feet in length and 20 feet wide was prepared, with a rope guard around
the same. The amount expended for lumber, canvas, rails, labor, etc., was
f 322.20. The Secretary had received up to this time for membership fees $62,
which was turned over to the committee, who borrowed $220 additional, to be

Online LibraryWestern Historical CoThe history of Jefferson County, Iowa, containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., a biographical directory of citizens, war records of its volunteers in the late rebellion, general and local statistics, portraits of early settlers and prominent men, history of the Northwest, his → online text (page 52 of 75)