Past & Present of Allamakee County, 1913
Taylor twp - Union City twp - Union Prairie twp - Waterloo twp
TAYLOR TOWNSHIP (pg 288-301)
As originally organized in 1851 this township included the present townships of Paint Creek and Jefferson, which were set off in April 1852, and the course of Paint creek designated as the southern line of Taylor. But in 1858 sections 3 and 4-96-3 were transferred to Fairview, by the County court. These were returned to Taylor by the Board of Supervisors in January, 1873, along with section 5; and in 1874 sections 1 and 2 were likewise set off to Taylor, since which time no change has been made. It is a large and in the early days a comparatively populous township, the enumeration in 1854 showing 323 souls. In 1910 there were 881.
Harpers Ferry is the principal place in the township, and one of the oldest settlements in the county. No record is at hand as to who the first corner here was, but it is not likely there was nay ahead of Wm. Klett, who it is said located on Paint Rock Prairie before the region was opened for settlement. His death occurred in 1905. The village of Winfield was platted in May, 1852, by Wm. H. Hall and Dresden W. H. Howard as owners of the site, but in 1860 the name was changed to Harpers Ferry by act of the legislature. This was one of the places voted on for county seat in 1851 under the name of Vailsville, Horace Vail having located here prior to that time. In the early steamboat days it promised to become an important place, possessing one of the finest townsite along the river, being a level plateau above high water mark, extending back nearly a mile to the bluffs and some three miles along the river bank, or rather Harpers slough, a secondary channel of the Mississippi which permitted steamers to make landing here except in very low water. David Harper was the leading spirit in the development of the village, having purchased a large interest in the place prior to 1860, in which year his name was given to the town. He built a stone warehouse and carried on an extensive produce business, but lived only long enough to see it begin to wane. The old warehouse, then owned by his estate, was destroyed by fire in February, 1877.
A petition in district court was filed August 31, 1901, asking the incorporation of the town of Harpers Ferry, to comprise the following described territory: Commencing at the one-sixteenth post center of the northeast quarter of section 23-97-3; thence east on one-eighth line through section 24, to intersect slough, 72 chains; then commencing at same one-sixteenth post center of northeast quarter section 23, thence south 19 chains on one-eighth line to Road No. 163; thence west along said road to intersect Road No. 224; thence southwesterly along said road to south quarter post of section 23; thence south on center line of section 26, 32 chains and 10 links to the bank of Harpers channel; thence northeast along that the number of inhabitants within said territory was 253.
September 28, 1901, the court appointed the following commissioners to hold an election ans submit the question of incorporation to the voters within said territory, viz: T. F. McCaffrey, T. W. Melaven, Robert Mullally, S. E. Angell, and John Collins. Such election was held October 28, 1901, resulting in a vote of 33 for and 23 against incorporation. Whereupon on November 22, following the court approved and confirmed the incorporation, and ordered an election for officers thereof. The election was held December 19, 1901, and the officers elected were; Mayor, T. W. Melaven; Clerk, T. F. McCaffrey; Treasurer, T. A. Houlihan; Councilmen, W. H. Collins, P. J. Donahue, M. J. Gleason, L. Demerse and Robert Mullally.
The present town officers are: Mayor, P. J. Donahue; Clerk, M. D. Kelly; Assessor, P. G. Cota; Treasurer, T. A. Houlihan; Councilmen, T. A. Oestern, P. J. Houlihan, J. J. Finnegan, T. F. Calvey, and John Markwardt; Marshal, F. F. Wachter.
The present population is over 33, and T. A. Oestern is postmaster.
The Paint Rock Catholic church, located two or three miles from Harpers Ferry, is a very early organization, having been established over fifty years. Father P. A. McManus was pastor in the early seventies. A 3,000 lb bell was placed in this church in August, 1889. Rev. F. Kernan was here in 1892. It became incorporated under the statutes of Iowa, November 16, 1911, under the name of St. Josephs Church of Harpers Ferry, with Rev. Michael Sheehan, pastor, and Nicholas Brazell and Bernard J. Finnegan lay members of the board of directors.
St. Anns Church of Harpers Ferry is of comparatively recent date. This became incorporated at the same time as St. Josephs, with Thos. Cavanaugh and James J. Finnegan laymen directors. Both of these churches are under the pastorate of Rev. Michael Sheehan, and of course Archbishop James J. Keane is ex-officio president of the corporate bodies.
Harpers Ferry Court, No. 507, Catholic Order of Foresters, was organized May 30, 1895, by D. J. Murphy, with a charter membership of twenty-two. The first officers were: Chief Ranger, J. J. Finnegan; Vice Chief, M. J. Gleason; Past Chief, Thos. Kelly; Treasurer, T. W. Melaven; Financial Secretary, D. L. Fitzgerald; Recording Secretary, Robt. Mullally; Trustees, Frank Byrnes, Exelia Valley, and J. H. ONeill; Sentinels, John Kelly and Joseph Flood. The membership has increased to ninety-nine, and but few changes have been made in the official roster, which is now: Chief Ranger, James J. Finnegan; Vice Chief Ranger, J. P. Doonan; Deputy High Chief Ranger, J. F. Kelly; Recording Secretary, Robt. Mullally; Financial Secretary, J. H. ONeill; Treasurer, Thomas Cavanaugh; Trustees, J. J. Collins, Nicholas Barbaras, and M. F. Ryan; Spiritual Director, Rev. M. Sheehan.
Immaculate Court No. 439, Womens C. O. F., was chartered in 1900.
Harpers Ferry Camp No. 8274, M. W. A., was chartered June 16, 1900, and as near as can be ascertained G. W. Clark was the first venerable consul, and T. A. Oestern first clerk. The present membership is twenty-six, and the officers are: Consul, J. J. Rellihan; Advisor, A. S. Inger; Clerk, P. G. Cota; Banker, J. H. ONeill; Escort, C. L. Traversy; Watchman, F. Wachter; Sentry, Pat Burke.
The principal business establishments of Harpers Ferry comprise the following; Bank of Harpers Ferry, private bank, President, W. F. Daubenberger; Cashier, Thos. Cavanaugh. Frank Byrnes, hotel. W. H. Collins, hardware. A. E. Daman and David Murray, blacksmiths. Gilbertson & Schafer and Spinner Brothers, implements. T. A. Houlihan and T. W. Melaven, general merchandise. M. D. Kelly, groceries. Meuser Lumber Company, lumber and coal. Robert Mullally, harness. John Quillin, confectionery. J. J. Roche, meats. W. E. Wiedner, wholesale fish. The Harpers Ferry Farmers Cooperative Creamery Company was incorporated December 9, 1912, with a capital stock of $8,000, and the following officers: President, N. J. Brazell; Vice President, M. F. Collins; Secretary, J. E. Ducharme; Treasurer, Thomas Cavanaugh.
Postmaster, T. A. Oestern.
Members of the school board are: President, P. J. Donahue; Secretary, Pat Burke; Treasurer, Robert Mullally; Directors, John Doonan, John Markwardt, Thos. Cavanaugh, and B. G. Bassler.
There was the beginning of a village at Paint Rock at an early day, one Wm. H. Morrison having opened a store near the bluff of theat name in 1850, it is said, with the inevitable barrel of whiskey. He was later the school fund commissioner to select lands in this county to make up its share of the 500,000 acres granted the state for school purposes, additional to the sixteenth section grant. A postoffice was opened here and Mr. Morrison appointed postmaster. This point afforded a landing for steamers passing through Harpers slough, and at one time was ambitious of becoming a town, but its hopes faded away, as did the building before many years. Mr. Morrison went to California, and died there insane.
The village of Waukon Junction had its origin in comparatively modern times, the spot being a tangled wilderness prior to the construction of the Waukon railroad. When the success of this local branch became assured, the C., D. & M. Railroad put in a station at the junction and it was given the name of Adams, from the president of the Waukon road, D. W. Adams. When the road was put into operation, in 1877, a few houses were put up, and not long after a postoffice was established, and the name was changed to Waukon Junction. The postoffice was for many years in charge of the railroad agent at the station, but in October, 1893. Postmaster J. A. Lundin, then station agent, was succeeded by Margaret Hulse. Various changes were later made, and the present postmaster is Wm. Cahalan. The business places comprise the following: John H. Atall, blacksmith; R. E. Blackwell, general merchandise and hotel; Wm. Cahalan, hotel and grocery; Fanny Gyrion, restaurant; W. A. Stowell, general merchandise.
Among the early settlers of Taylor township not else where mentioned in this chapter, the following came in as early as 1851 or before, viz: Michael Shields, Aaron Ward, John Garin, John Ryan, Timothy Collins, Horace Vail, John and Dennis Garvey, John Hennessy, Timothy Howe, and J. P. Jackson.
The township officers of Taylor are not: Clerk, Patrick Burke; Trustees, J. H. Hogan, Thomas Kelly, Thos. Kernan; Assessor, J. W. Ryan; Justices, Patrick Burke, B. J. Finnegan; Constable, Edward Calvey.
PIONEER RECOLLECTIONS OF L. O. LARSON
In A. D. 1850 a number of Norwegian families set out from Rock county, Wisconsin, where they had resided from one to several years since crossing the Atlantic, their destination being Iowa. Arriving at Prairie du Chien they crossed the Mississippi on McGregor & Nelsons tread-power ferry, landing at North McGregor, and from there proceeded through the densely wooded country northward, forded Yellow river and Paint creek, bridging gullies along their route, and finally arrived upon what was then known as Paint Creek Prairie, in this county. Ole Larson(Rotnem) and Ole Knutson (Stakke) stopped in Taylor township, the former locating on the east half of the northwest quarter and west half of the northeast quarter of section 17, and the latter on the east half of the northeast quarter of section 17-97-3, while the rest of the company proceeded westward into Paint Creek township, where Ole Storla located on the northeast quarter of section 11 (which he had visited the year before); Syver Vold on the east half of the northwest quarter and east half of the southwest quarter of section 13, Thomas Anderson (Gonna)on the northwest quarter of section 12, and Ole Christianson section 1,97-4; Arne Knutson (Stakke) on the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter and northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 31, 98-3, in Lafayette. Prior to 1850 W. C. Thompson had located on the southwest quarter of section 29, 98-3; and Vap Sickle, Wilson and Williver (Captain N. Willivers father) had located on the bottom land on Big Paint creek in sections 30 and 31. LaTronche, Martell, Klett, and others had also settled on the prairie near the present city of Harpers Ferry prior to 1850. Nels Bottolson and Aslag Melen also came in 1850; the latter was here when Bottolson came in the fall of 1850 in company with Ole Storla, who had gone back to Wisconsin for a helpmeet. Mr. Melen had located on the northeast quarter of section 7, 97-3, and disposed of the east half of same to Bottolson. It was assumed by the knowing ones that Mr. Melen considered a helpmeet in the person of Mr. Bottolsons sister as a more valuable possession than the eighty; however, after the land deal was consummate the expected consideration failed to materialize. This is simply an illustration of the informal methods of buying and selling real and personal property in pioneer times. In the years succeeding a large number of Norwegian and Irish nationalities settled in Taylor, Paint Creek and Lafayette, among whom were: Koykenoall, Hewitt,- Sigurson, Jacob Oestern, Gullick Oestern, Ole Hunstad, Tov Olson Tveton, Kittel Olson Tveton, and Ole Olson Tveton, Helge Olson (Boen), Anton Larson (Sjellebek), Endre Endreson (Ashbraaten), Ole Halvorsen (Sauherring), Nels-. (Nummedal), Jacob Norvold, James Banks, Thomas Roche, Thomas Sullivan, Owen Sullivan, Jas. Melaven, Jas. Corrigan, Michael Clark, - Evans (Chas. Evans father), John Brazell, John Olson (Saga) Olaus (W. O.) Erikson, Jas. Barry, Timothy Collins, Pat and Mike Ryan (brothers, the former serving as assessor for eighteen years), Pat and Mike Bulger, Jas. Fagan, Daniel Johnson.
The first postoffice in this region was Paint Rock, so named evidently from the large red painted inscription appearing high up on the perpendicular wall of a precipice. The first postmaster was W. H. Morrison, and the second Otto Longerfield. This was a steamboat landing, and the postmaster conducted a small frontier postmaster was W. H. Morrison, and the second Otto Longerfield. This was a steamboat landing, and the postmaster conducted a small frontier store; but to obtain a larger and more varied supply, although the variety was limited in those days to the actual necessities, one must go to Prairie du Chien, in the summer time by rowing skiffs and in the winter by driving oxen on the ice. When the ice was unsafe they would go on foot, and draw a hand-sled with two or more bushels of hickory nuts to barter for the most urgent needs.
For early habitations, the most rude, quaint, and primitive shelters were hastily constructed upon arriving and selecting a location, as the wagon which had served the purpose of parlor, kitchen, and dormitory combined, on the way, must henceforth become a mere farm wagon, except when needed for church going. A quaint vehicle known by the Scandinavians as a Kubberulle, the wheels being sawed from large logs, was also used for conveyance by those in more indigent circumstances, for church going as well as farm use. The usual shelter was composed of crutches set in the ground, with poles laid in the bifurcated top ends, and on these poles long sections of elm bark were laid, with weights to hold them flat to shed the rain. Bushes were set around the sides, and door and windows were considered a superfluity. In a shanty of this type the Ole Larson and Ole Knutson families dwelt for a while, and under the large boxes set on poles laid on the ground a large rattlesnake had ensconced itself for many days. Children as well as adults passed in the aisle between the boxes day and night, but under the surveillance of a kind providence not one of us was harmed. A wound from the serpent would have been fatal, as there was no doctor near, and no whiskey, that adjunct of civilization being absolutely prohibited in the Ole Larson family, as well as the filthy weed.
One man, a bachelor, Asle Knutson (Stakke), felled a large hollow basswood tree, cut off a section about sixteen feet in length, and in one end stuffed any armful of hay, then pushed his belongings in at the other end and himself next, drawing an armful of hay into the aperture after him. A knot hole in the side of the log served for ventilation, and being on the east side also served as a timepiece by admitting the daylight. Other dug caves into banks and roofed with birch bark and then turfed. For floor, split logs with the flat side up were used, and boards for doors were sawed from logs rolled onto high benches and sawed with a pit saw, one man standing on the log and the other underneath it. Fences were made of rails, six to eight rails high, with stake and rider, called a worm of Virginia fence. For splitting rails men were paid forty to fifty cents per day, sometimes without board, and rails sold for 410 per m.
Blue joint grass was cut for forage with scythes, and the women raked the swaths into mows and helped stack it. Corn was planted in the upturned sod by cutting a slit in it with an axe; and small grain was sown by had and harvested with a grain cradle by the men, and as a rule the women followed with a rake and bound it into sheaves, and not infrequently did they also have a cradle, in the shade of a shock, with a roseate cherub in it slumbering sweetly in its swaddling cloth.
The first grain threshing was done with a flail, which the sinewy mountaineers handled with a dexterity equaling that of the native Australian in hurling the boomerang. Horses and oxen were also used to trample the grain out, when the sheaves were laid in a circle on the frozen ground. The first reaper, a J. H. Manny, was bought by Ole Larson in the early fifties and cut grain for many neighbors as well as his own. The first machine threshing, by dilapidated outfits, was done about 1852-3 by the Vold brothers, Ole and John, and 1853-4 by Henry McCoy. About 1854-5 Ole Larson bought the first new machine, a J. I. Case, Racine, Wisconsin, which was known as an apron machine, a Pitts model, four horsepower with jack and belt. The cylinder bars are of wood (it is in evidence here yet) with barbed teeth driven in, and the concaves are of the same material. No stacker, but a short picker. In coming the outfit was frozen in on the boat at Turkey river, and had to be hauled here on sleighs after Christmas, when threshing operations commenced, as people must have grain of which to make the staff of life. The writer was the river on the horsepower, and though a boy, is presumed to remember the time.
The Riley Ellis corn cracker at Waterville was the first mill to convert the maize into meal for making mush and corn bread, or to use the term of the southern darkies, Johnnie Constant, as there was not wheat from which to make flour bread, or Billy Seldom. I believe that the mill of Rev. Valentine (Hon. E. H. Fourts grandfather) was the earliest in this section to convert wheat into bolted flour on Village creek. In the earliest 50s a sawmill was put into operation on the site of the later Beumer & Haas flour and sawmill, and a half mile east of this was a shingle mill, owned by one Wilson, that shaved the shingles off steamed blocks of hard wood by a large revolving blade, with water power. The sawmill a short distance below the Lawrence Kelly place, on Big Paint, I think was called the Dye & Williver mill. Coming up from the Bulger valley recently I was reminded how my brother and I carried maple sap home from this valley in the spring of 1851, to use instead of milk with corn meal mush, as cows were few and the late cut prairie grass, blue joint, contained but little nourishment for them. If the mill was overcrowded, or for other reason the grist was late in coming, the coffee mill was pressed into service to grind the indispensable corn meal for mush or bread; but the modern complaints of dyspepsia, constipation and appendicitis were unknown in those days.
Virginia deer were very numerous in the 50s and 60s and even into the 70s, though in the winter of 1 56-7, the noted crust winter, these noble denizens of the forest were ruthlessly slaughtered, it being merely a mania for killing, as the animals were extremely lean from starvation. Derermo in Fairview, and Dye and Williver (our Captain Williver) with John Ingmundson (later Captain Ingmundson) were noted sportsmen by the still hunt in Taylor. Rail splitting, however, monopolized the time of the average pioneer, hence he feasted but little on venison. Wolves, foxes, wildcats and skunks were not lacking in numbers, and strychnine was the only mode of exterminating them. There was no bounty, nor price on furs then, as now in 1913. The prairie hen, quail and pheasant, the former two gregarious and easily trapped, and all easily shot, formed a valuable by-dependence in the meat line in those days. Every stream was abundantly stocked with speckled trout and other varieties of the finny tribe, affording splendid diversion of Young America with hook and line, besides replenishing the oft depleted larder. The biggest ordnance in the locality for a time was a fling-lock rifle owned by Ole Larson that was said to have executed vast havoc among the bruins of the Scandinavian jungles. It was transformed into a percussion cap lock, and is still in possession of the family. Aslag Espeset was one of the great hunters in the Waterville section, shooting five deer in one day with an old muzzle loader, standing behind a large rock loading. Capt. John Ingmundson, the hunter above referred to, went to Wisconsin, and entering the army, fell in the battle of Stone River, December 30, 1862. This is mentioned in The Northmen in America.
(Mr. L. O. Larson must have practiced faithfully with that old fling-lock during his boyhood, as he has later acquired the title of the mighty hunter of Taylor.)-Editor.
Mr. Hicks, from near Hardin, was our first surveyor, and Mr. Sutter, of same locality, the first assessor in this locality, and possibly his beat included the entire county then.
I must not omit to mention the prairie fires that came as regularly as did the frozen grass in late autumn, and only for the fire breaks, a burned strip around the hay stacks and field fences, not a stack or a fence would have been left in it wake.
The firs schoolhouse was built in 1854-5 in the district now called the Climax, but then included the Excelsior and St. Joseph also. Miss Harriet Phipps, now Mrs. E. Tisdale, taught the first school, commencing in May, 1855, She was then but fourteen years of age, and her salary was $15 per month, minus board, but she says it was then equivalent to 4100 now. Ole Larson was the school director that employed her.
Before there was spiritual food to be obtained there being no ordained clergymen during the first few years here, Ole Larson, who had served in the capacity, or, perhaps better, function, of klokker precentor (leader of psalmody) during divine services in the parish whence he came in Norway, as well as parochial school teacher, gathered the youthful element together here on Sundays, read the text, and all joined in singing a few hymns, thus maintaining the religious spirit of the land of their birth. He also for a number of years here acted as klokker at religious services held in private dwellings and in the summer time in barns, mainly in Thomas Andersons house and Arne Barskrinds barn, the latter in section 3, Paint Creek. Martin Ulvestads Northmen in America says the Paint Creek congregation, the first Norwegian Lutheran congregation in the county, was organized by V. Koren, pastor, in 1854, and its first church was build in 56 near Dalby. It is now the Old East Paint Creek church, the dissenters taking the name, while the congregation retained the church property.
Probably the first suit at law in Taylor was that of Ole Larson vs Asle Knutson (Stakke), about 1852, the latter making an attempt to jump a part of the formers land. Court was held at Columbus, by Judge Wilson, I think, and the case was decided in favor of Mr. Larson. The first case of homicide, and I believe the only case in this section, was that of the aged father of Thomas and Iles Roche, who was killed by two strangers on the farm now owned by Mrs. Barney McCormick, on the east line of Paint creek. The Evans family lived there at the time, but Charles chanced to be away from home.
When J. W. Remine, the first lawyer her, came as an emissary of Asle Knutson to talk with father about the above mentioned land case, none could understand English, but that he said you wrong and that was guessed at. So father sent me along with Surveyor Hicks to Hardin (Collins tavern then), where I attended school in a log schoolhouse on the government road from McGregor west, and stayed with Mrs. Hicks and her sister, Miss Baker. While Mr. H. Was away the women sent me home to pick hickory nuts for them, and I became lost, sleeping out one night in the tall blue joint grass on Yellow river, in November, in a section where bears were said to prowl in those days. I wandered until the Sencebaugh men working on a road sent me to their home with one of the girls who hand brought their dinner, and the next morning Mrs. Reuben Sencebaugh took me on a horse, behind the saddle, to Waterville, and from there I was acquainted with the way. In 1849, the year before locating here, Ole Larson, Ole Storla, Erik Espeseth and Ole Grimsgaard had visited this region and followed an Indian trail up the Paint Creek valley to the Big Spring at what is now Waukon, where they ate their lunch and retraced their steps, as they thought that locality too far from navigation-or future market place.
This bold and rocky bluff, with its high precipice facing the Mississippi river like an immense natural bulletin-board, which it practically was in the old days, is situated near the lower corner of Taylor township, and was an ancient landmark when it was first mentioned by any writer, When and by whom among the white explorers of this region it was first so-called is shrouded in mystery. It gave its name to the creek which rises at Waukon and empties into the river a mile below long before there is any known record, and which appears on the very earliest and rudest maps of the region as Paint creek or Paint Rock creek. Near here was the slaughter of an entire French half-breed family by the Indians in 1827, as narrated in an early chapter of this volume. At the time the county was first settled there was on this cliff the painted figures of animals, with the work Tiger, and some symbols of undoubted Indian origin. The appearance of the word quoted indicates that the white man had a hand in decorating this rock, and it is natural to suppose that at the time of the establishment of the Neutral Ground in 1830, as narrated in a previous chapter, this may have been done to mark the southern boundary thereof so plainly that it would be a warning to the roaming natives. But it was evidently an accident that the painted rock should coincide with the southern line of the Neutral Ground at its river terminus, being approximately twenty miles in a direct line from the mouth of the Upper Iowa, at Brookings Bluff. Judge Murdock said the painting was there in 1843 and looked ancient at the time.
There has been no end of speculation as to the origin and purpose of these inscriptions, and much has been written about them. But that it was originally the work of Indians, and probably the Sioux, is fairly well established. It may have been first decorated many generations ago, and the inscriptions renewed from time to time as they began to fade. Captain Carver does not mention it in 1763, nor Lieutenant Pike in 1805. The very first allusion to it we have been able to find was by Major Long in 1817. There were other similar paintings spoken of by various writers among the explorers, among the more prominent being that on the east side of the Mississippi in Illinois, which Father Marquette describes in his journal of 1673. S. W. Kearney in 1820 speaks of a painted rock on the east side of the Mississippi about nine miles below Fort Snelling. And on any ancient map of Minnesota there is shown a Paint Rock Creek on the west side of the river, in that state. Schoolcraft also mentions a Paint Rock on the upper Mississippi, but does not locate it definitely. And there were also some rocks with like designation on the Des Moines river, in the central part of Iowa. (Salter, p. 250) In 1823 Beltrami, in speaking of our Paint Rock, says the savages pay their adoration to this rock, which they annually paint.
In his personal narrative of the Early Times and Events in Wisconsin, Hon. James H. Lockwood, an early settler at Prairie du Chien, writing in 1855, says, in speaking of the Sioux Indian medicine men and their sacrifices to the Great Spirit: On the prairies are often found isolated granite rocks, which, from their isolated and scattered appearance, are considered holy, and every Indian who passes them either paints them with vermilion or leaves a piece of tobacco as a tribute. Hence the great number of places in this country where the Sioux were accustomed to pass that bear the name of Painted Rock.
In the case of his Paint Rock under discussion, it was not so readily accessible as to admit of every passing Indian making a contribution; but a camping party with leisure, of either natives or whites, could with little difficultly gain or position on a narrow ledge where these figures appeared. Mr. Ellison Orr, of Waukon, who is an authority on Indian mounds and relics, visited the spot about 1911 for the purpose of a close inspection of these once prominent figures, and we are permitted to copy his notes, as follows:
About one-half mile above Waukon Junction at the mouth of Paint creek, on the northwest of northeast of section 3-97-3, a wide and deep dry ravine, after running almost parallel to the canyon of the Mississippi river for over a mile, opens into it.
Most of the river face of the bluffs along here is almost sheer vertical walls of rock, sometimes over two hundred feet in height. At the foot of the precipices is another hundred feet of talus of earth and rock debric sloping down to the river bank.
At the point of bluff where the small lateral valley meets the larger one, at a height of 30 to 40 feet above the foot of the precipice, a narrow shelf runs along the face of it for a distance of several rods. Just above this shelf the calcareous sandrock is smeared and stained with patches of mineral red, all that is left of pictographs of animals or other objects that gave it name. The rock has weathered away so much that the figures with two exception can now be made out.
The two which remain represent the heads of an animal with horns, probably a buffalo, or perhaps they may represent some Indian deity.
At the bottom of the cliff, under these figures, some twenty feet in height of the rock base just at the point is Jordan sandstone, and for ten feet up from the point where the slope of loose rock and earth begins are hundreds of vertical, or nearly vertical, slashes or marks such as might be made by rubbing the edge of a celt or stone ax up and down on the sandrock till a V-shaped groove or crease was made. 6, 8, or 10 inches long and from a half to an inch deep, many of which are all but obliterated.Among these are remnants of figures also cut in the rock. The grooves forming these figures differ from those of the vertical slashes in being half round.
As usual there are also a few initials, and names certainly made by the whites.
Accompanying this is a photograph of the Paint Rock Bluff point looking northwest from the waters edge of Harpers Channel, which is reproduced here by Kindness of Mr. Orr.
TOWNSHIP (pg 301-305)
At the March term, 1852, the county court, a commission was issued to Ensign Chilson to organize the township of Union City by an election to be called for April 1st. The township as organized comprised all of the present townships of Iowa, Waterloo, Hanover, and French Creek, besides Union City; but no record has been found of the election of officers. The name was that given to the settlement in embryo on the north side of the Iowa above the mouth of French creek, but no plat of the village so called was ever put upon record.
In 1856 Mr. E. T. Albert and family came from Wellsville, Ohio, and in April, 1858, Benj. Ratcliffe, a brother-in-law, from Wheeling, Virginia; and they settled on adjoining farms on the Iowa river, in this township, where the town of Union City was to be located, at the river crossing called Chilsons Ford, on the line between sections 34 and 35. This was so called from Mr. Chilson, a blacksmith who made his claim here, but sold it to one Davidson, and he to E. T. Albert. The latter built a large stone house known as Alberta House, to be used as a wayside hotel, this being the main thoroughfare from Lansing to points many miles north in Minnesota, and was called the Main Minnesota Road. Mr. Albert sold out to a brother-in-law, John Gilchrist, in 1864, and he to his son J. J. In 1886, who sold to the present owner, Joseph Hartley, in 1892.
The first bridge across the Upper Iowa was built at this ford in 1859, paid for mostly by private subscriptions of the enterprising business men of Lansing, which was the point chiefly interested in the trade to come from this part of the county, and beyond. In 1861 and 62 the proceedings of the Board of Supervisors show appropriations from time to time for repairs on this bridge. And in 1863 a petition of S. V. Shaw and others shows that in 1859 the sum of $1,175 was expended in erecting a bridge across the Iowa River near Bellows at what is called Chilsons Ford on the county road; that it was built by private subscription, but there was $330 pledges uncollectible. This bridge was later taken out by floods or ice gorges, and a ferry was then established by Porter Bellows of French Creek until a bride was built in 1866 or 67, which was replaced by the iron bridge known since as the Ratcliffe bridge, put in some eight or ten years later.
The high bluff which stands out boldly one half mile north of the river crossing, between Alberta House and their own home, Mrs. Ratcliffe named Mt. Hope, and their farm Mt. Hope Farm, and known as such to this day. One Dr. Rogers was located on this land in 1855, succeeded by A. H. Pickering, who sold the land to B. Ratcliffe in 1857. The first schoolhouse was built on the north line of this farm, and later one in front of Mount Hope. The church, manse, and cemetery are also on the same farm. Mrs. E. T. Albert taught the first school in this (Clear Creek) district, and in the township, in the winter of 1858-59, in one room of their house, to accommodate their own large family, the Sheckletons, Merrits, and some from outside territory. A sabbath school was held in this house until the schoolhouse was built-Robert Wampler was one of the pupils. The schoolhouse was built in the summer of 1859, in which John D. Cole, a resident of the district, taught the next winter. He removed to Lansing in 1860, was a gallant soldier during the war, returning to and residing in Lansing until near the close of his long and useful life.
Marshall Merritt was the first postmaster at Clear Creek, from its establishment in 1856 until he sold out to Ed. Waters and removed to Minnesota in 1860, when Benj. Ratcliffe was commissioned, holding the office for twenty-five years, when he resigned and the office was discontinued, mail going to French Creek and Dorchester. Mr. Ratcliffe was elected to the House of Representatives, in the 17th General Assembly, of Iowa, sitting in 1878. He continued to reside upon this farm until his death, January 1, 1900, aged 86 years. A grandson, Benj. Hartley, now owns the farm.
Two miles north of this point, in Clear Creek valley, were the families of Lusks, Dennisons, and Wamplers, coming from Pennsylvania in 1854 or 55, who after a number of years sold out to Germans and went west. Near them was Patrick Fitzgerald, with five sons, who opened up and settled on small farms, but who is the sixties sold out and went a few countries south and west, where they have all prospered. Just south of the river were early setters, Brooks, Kibbys, and Donovans.
Three or four miles west up the river a number of English families settled on a piece of bench or table land, still known as the English Bench. These were the Bulmans, Saddlers, and Hartleys; also Reburns, P. McGuire, and Dr. S. D. Allen who practiced medicine. Some of the first two named are still there, but the rest have given place to others. The Elephant is a lone bluff fronting a bend in the Oneota and sloping back to the English Bench. Not so high as some others, it suggests the animal in a reclining posture.
The Mt. Hope Presbyterian Church was organized in August 1858, at the house of E. T. Albert, by Rev. Joseph Adams of Frankville and Rev. Chas. Fitch, Presbyterian ministers, Rev. A. H. Houghton, Congregational, of Lansing, being present. Ten members were enrolled, and E. T. Albert and Benj. Ratcliffe elected elders. Rev. James Frothingham of Caledonia Presbyterian Church, and ministers from Frankville, came at stated times; but Dr. A. H. Houghton also served this congregation, holding services also in other schoolhouses in Union City, French Creek and Iowa townships for some years, and was a faithful and self-sacrificing man. The Mt. Hope church was built in the summer of 1870, and cemetery laid out adjoining. A manse was built a few years later, all on land given by Benj. Ratcliffe, and a resident pastor has been supported for many years.
Mrs. Bellows, to whom we are indebted for the greater part of the foregoing reminiscences of Union City and French Creek townships, also contributes the following item of history: On September 1, 1862, the dwellers in the valley in Union City were astonished to see many teams coming down the Minnesota road from the north, each loaded with household goods and the family. Inquiries brought out the fact that they were fleeing from a reported Indian uprising farther north, and they continued on their way to Lansing, objects of wonder all along the route until they told their story. Neighbors thought the Alberta House as good as a fort, though the many windows would have been of good service to the invaders as well as to the defenders. Others whose fathers and brothers were doing scout duty spent the night at Mt. Hope farm. The next day a procession of teams went north again, assured from reports received at Lansing that the New Ulm massacre did not reach far south of that point. Sept. 1st is still referred to as the date of the Indian Scare.
The first 4th of July, celebration was called a Sabbath School celebration and held on Mt. Hope farm in 1858, attended by all from far and near. The program included a poem entitled Liberty by a twelve year old girl, identity known only to the reader and writer, and an address by Rev. Dr. A. H. Houghton. Martial music was a feature of the occasion, as we had a fifer from New York and a drummer from Pennsylvania, the latter resplendent in a costume worn when he played on training day back home, consisting of a green coat, white trousers, and a tall black hat surmounted by a red feather. For twenty years perhaps these S. S. Celebrations were regularly held, in different localities, and such men as S. H. Kinne, L. E. Fellows, and Chas. Paulk, and others of ability, though it a pleasure to address the assembled people.
In the northern part of the township, G. W. Carver was among the earliest arrivals, moving onto what is called Portland Prairie in May, 1852, and securing a large claim. Shortly after a land commissioner made a selection of three quarter sections adjoining his claim, for Iowa school lands, and Mr. Carver contracted for this also, under the state laws, and continued to hold the same until it reverted to the government, as the commissioner had selected too much land, and the among the last selected was the first to be withdrawn. Mr. Carver had some difficulty in attempting to hold this land against other claimants, and the matter went into the courts, those pioneers lawyers, John T. Clark and G. W. Camp being the opposing counsel. The case reached the United States courts, where it remained for ten or fifteen years, until finally with the assistance of Henry Dayton, our member of the Iowa House in 1872, a special act of the legislature was secured reimbursing Mr. Carver for the loss of the land. During the first winter, Mr. Carver said he went to Riley Ellis mill on Paint Creek to get some corn ground, but found it laid up for repairs. He then went on to Yellow river, where he bought more corn, getting a few bushels each from settlers who could spare it, which he got ground there and started for home. The journey occupied two weeks, and his family near starving. Deer were very plentiful at this time; and straying Winnebagoes numerous. In his later years Mr. Carver resided in Lansing, where he had started the first lumberyard before locating on his farm, and where he died February 29, 1897.
Samuel Evans, settled near Carvers, and a large family from Maine, consisting of Josiah Everett, five sons and two son-in-law. Chas. Harvey and W. Pease, and other relatives, giving the settlement the name of Portland Prairie. In the early seventies all of these removed to Nebraska, where several of them became prominent in state and county affairs, builders of railroads, bankers, and prospered generally. In addition to the early settlers mentioned above, the records show the following names among those who took government land in Union City township prior to 1855. Jackson G. Coil, Bernard H. Deters, Jeremiah Shumway, Patrick Hays, and John G. Gerling.
The following additional items are culled from Old Times on Portland Prairie, by H. V. Arnold, in 1911.
About the year 1855 William Hartley, a native of England, came from Indiana to the Iowa river, where he kept a tavern on the Lansing road.
The winter of 1865-6 was marked in its latter half by a great depth of snow. The 31st of March was a moderate day, with a south wind, and that night a terrific thunder storm ensued, with a heavy down-pour of rain. All of the ravines became rushing torrents and many bridges were swept away, including the Iowa river bridge on the road to Lansing. (The fixes the date of the taking out of the Chilsons Ford bridge, rebuilt during the ensuing year.)
The people of Portland Prairie were accustomed to have a big picnic celebration annually on the Fourth of July, and that year the held it at this crossing of Oneota. In those times scarcely anyone in the whole neighborhood possessed such a thing as a buggy or other light rig. The family parties or other groups had to travel to such gatherings in common farm wagons, if too far to go on foot. Many teams of the prairie people journeyed down to the river, the day being favorable. The bridge there, swept away the previous spring, had not yet been rebuilt, but teams easily crossed at a gravelly ford just above where it had stood. A flat-boat had been used for a ferry when the water was higher than in its summer stage. The picnic was held in a grove close to the river and a little above the bridge piers. Quite a large assemblage of people were present, some of them presumably from that neighborhood.
In regard to the bridge at this point Capt. Bascom of Lansing writes: In 1856 or 57 I built a ferry boat for Porter Bellows which was used until a bridge was built at Chilsons Ford as it was then called. The first bridge here was built by a man named Curts, I think, in 1859. This was taken out by the ice. I built a bridge here for the county in 1866 or 1867, 160 feet long.
The St. Johns Lutheran church of Union City was incorporated September 30, 1884, as the Evangelical St. Johns Community, with the following named trustees: Henry Bisping, Gustav Pottratz, Henry Welper, John Schulze, and Henry Kruse. At present, this church is served we believe by Rev. F. C. Klein as a pastor.
The population of Union City township was 138 in 1856, and 613 in 1910.
Township officers in 1913 are: Clerk, Henry Bisping; Trustees, John A. Schulze, E. J. Sadler, G. W. Weimerslage; Assessor, Henry H. Rober; Justices, Ben Hartley and John E. Martin; Constable, Wm. Sadler.
TOWNSHIP (pg 305-307)
Union Prairie was early organized, the election for that purpose being held April 1, 1852, under a commission issued to Geo. Merrill, who had taken a claim on the north side of section 23. Many of the earlier setters in this township were truly pioneers, such as the Eells brother, Gilletts, James Reid, Bush, Merrill, Harris, Horton, Conner, Raymond, Isted, and others, and special mention of them is made in the recollections of G. M. Dean and D. B. Raymond, in a previous chapter. Mr. Dean fails however, to mention his own coming to this township in 1853, when he bought a farm on section 23. But he later became identified with the town of Waukon. John Wallace came in 1853 but later settled in Ludlow. Christopher McNutt took land in sections 10 and 15 in 1850; and Wm. M. Dibble in section 13. The following took government land in 1851: Thomas Downs in section 12; John Magner and Wm. Rea in 18; John, Thos. And Denis Haley in 24,28, and 33; Benj. Woodward in 35, and John Miller in 36. Others shortly after were: Pat, John and Dan Curtin in section 7; James Griffin, section 7; Wm. Jones, section 12; Michael Donovan and John OBrien, section 18; Patrick Connolly, section 3; Cornelius Toohey and James McNamara, section 5; Thomas Stack, section 8; Conrad Helming, section 33; and a little later Jacob Plank, J. F. Pitt, Richard Ryan, Simon Ludeking, Nathaniel Pierce, Henry R. Pierce, John Goodykoontz. It is a curious coincidence that the two last named and D. Jaquis in Ludlow, all prominent citizens and members of the Waukon M. E. Church, died within the one year, 1875. Mr. Pitt before going onto his farm first built a house on a lot east of where th episcopal church later stood, in Waukon, not farm from Father Shattucks cabin; and since retiring from the farm he has bought and still lives in the Duffy house, one block south of his original home of nearly sixty years ago.
In his reminiscences of the early days Mr. D. B. Raymond wrote the following, in 1882, shortly after the death of James Reid, and it seems to be appropriate here. Mr. Reid was born in Pennsylvania, and in 1851 came to Union Prairie and settled on the place where he died February 10, 1992.
Uncle Jimmy, as he was called when the writer knew him nearly thirty years ago, was truly a remarkable man in his way, plain and honest to a fault. At first acquaintance his manners seemed uncouth, but a warm heart was his, unless some gross injustice aroused him and when insulted or attacked he was a tiger, and woe to the man who risked the force of his great brawny arms and fist, which was like a maul. He was a great hunter and his persistent pursuit of game was nearly always crowned with success. He was a remarkable marksman and always had great pride in his rifle. During the winter of 1852 and 1853 he killed nearly seventy deer (I speak from memory). The writer on many occasions accompanied him in hunting expeditions; being then young I was no match for the old hunter, and generally was out winded by him. The last exploit I remember in this line was a raid on the Yellow river; one Peter Gilson had improvised a grist mill near where a little village was afterward started and named Cleveland. On this hunting trip uncle Jimmy displayed more than usual vigor; the second day I was shelved from fatigue and the old man proposed seeking shelter at Gilsons for the night, some five or six miles up the river fut where we were at sunset. The day was very cold and the sunset denoted a biting cold night. While deliberating, two deer appeared on the bluff opposite, the old hunter raised his rifle and fired and a fine doe made the snow her winding sheet. It being across the river I suggested we leave it until morning and we started for the mill. At nearly dark when half way over there, I gave out the old man relieved me of my gun and other traps; his step was strong and sure; I staggered after him and we finally reached the mill. A supper of biscuit and coffee refreshed us, but our bed was cold sacks of grain and the rush of water through the flume beneath was the music that kept us company while attempting to sleep. In the morning the old man told of the great distance he killed the deer, to other parties, who doubted the story; uncle Jimmys wounded honor caused a careful calculation, and the d distance proved fully seventy rods, being ten more than he claimed.
The Union Prairie postoffice was established in 1852, in the northwest corner of section 26, with Edward Eells as postmaster. At his death in 1859 it was removed a half mile further west, to the stone house of Loren Eells, where it remained until discontinued, about 1868.
In 1893 a post office called Connor was established in the southeast corner of section 7, near the West Ridge church, at the house of Jeremiah Ryan, postmaster. Here it remained until put out of commission by the free rural delivery.
St. John the Baptist Catholic church, of West Ridge, is an old organization, but we have no data of its history. With the other Catholic churches of the county it was formally incorporated in November, 1911, under the charge of the present pastor, Rev. F. McCullough, the laymen directors at that time being Francis Drew and David OBrien.
A mile or more southeast of this church, in the west part of section 17, a sawmill was in operation in 1859, on Coon creek.
And on the southwest part of section 9, a little country store had been established by O. E. Hale, which he conducted for a number of years and it was widely known as Haless Store, becoming a sort of landmark for travelers in this region of bluffs and crooked roads.
The south and east part of the township settled up early, so that the population of Union Prairie in 1854 was 308. In 1910 it was 775. Township officers are: Clerk, J. T. Baxter; Trustees, Andrew Onsager, J. E. McGeough, Thos. Farley; Assessor, Owen Piggott.
The northwest township in the county contains a smaller area than any other except Fairview, comprising but thirty full sections and a narrow strip only of the north six sections, south of the Minnesota state line. .It was organized from Union City township by an order of the county court, March 3, 1856. And by an enumeration in that year contained a population of but 157. Like most of the others there is no record of the early township officers elected.
The earliest settlement seems to have been made in the northeast corner, in 1851, by Mrs. Jas. Robinson and her four sons, on Portland Prairie. John Coil also located near them. Edmund and Harvey Bell took government land where Dorchester now stands, in June, 1853. And not long after a village spring up her called.
Dorchester - In 1855 or 56 a log gristmill was built here by the Bells, which became quite a convenience to the dwellers of Portland Prairie who had heretofore been obliged to go to bellows mills or to Lansing. Some time later this mill was replaced with a large frame building with facilities for making flour. The miller here at one time was one McMillan, an excellent miller, who later operated a mill on Winnebago creek over in Minnesota for some time, and then ran the Billows mill in French creek, which became popularly known as McMillans mill. A store, blacksmith shop, and wagon shop were soon in order, and a sawmill was built on Waterloo creek above the village, and owners of timber lots began to haul in logs to supply themselves and others with lumber.
The Dorchester postoffice was established in 1856, and a mail route opened up from Brownsville, Minnesota. Dr. T. C. Smith, who came in that year, was the first postmaster, and retained the position for many years. J. M. Tartt went into business with Smith in 1858, and the firm name of Smith & Tartt was a household work throughout this section for a long time. Mr. Smith eventfully removed to Villard, Minnesota, where he died December 30, 1905.
In 1870 the business of Dorchester comprised the Langenbach flouring mill (the Waterloo Mills run by C. J. Langenbach for many years), four blacksmith shops, two wagons shops, Smith & Tartts store, a boot and shoe shop, and S. H .Haines, produce. Dr. R. C. Ambler was their physician. In 1873 the village plat was laid out by the proprietors, S. H. And Elsie T. Haines, and placed on record. We have no date at hand in regard to the early schoolhouse here, but a substantial brick schoolhouse was built in 1878. In 1877 besides the flouring mill there were two stores, two blacksmith ships, hotel, shoe shop, tailor shop. There were then two churches, as now, German Methodist and Catholic. Also a flourishing temperance society with thirty members, and a lyceum meeting every Saturday evening.
In 1913 the town supports two stores, two blacksmith shops, wagon shop, hotel and restaurant, millinery shop, garage, from implement house, meat market, and last but not least, a bank. The present postmaster is L. Coppersmith, who was holding the position as far back as 1892 or longer, and rural routes supply Quandahl, and Bee, Minnesota. A creamery was in operation for many years until recently. The flouring mill is now owned we believe by C. J. & Herman Schwartzhoff.
The Dorchester Savings Bank was incorporated February 7, 1912, and began business in July following, having erected a substantial two story frame building, equipped with modern safety devices for protection of depositors. The capital stock is $10,000; and the April, 1913 statement, shows deposits of $37,950.68; and total assets of $48,136.41. Its officers are: President, Wm Kumpf Vice President, Wm. Schwarzhoff; Cashier, J. H. Larkin; Directors, the foregoing officer with L. H. Gaarder, Jas. T. Bulman, A. T. Nierling, and O. J. Hager.
Dorchester Camp. No. 4585, M. W. A., was chartered March 19, 1897, the first officers being, Consul, E. J. Goble; Clerk, T. A. Danaher. The camp now numbers seventy-two members, and the present Consul is Levi Sires, and Clerk, Jacob Kumpf.
St. Marys Catholic church of Dorchester was one of the early churches in that part of the county. Rev. F. McCullough was pastor in 1892. In 1911 it became incorporated, Archbishop, James J. Keane being ex-officio president as in all such corporations; the pastor, Rev. T. G. Brady, ex-officio vice president, and Wm. Schwarzhoff and Wm. Duffy laymen directors. Father John Sheehy in the pastor now in charge. This congregation is now preparing for the erection of a fine new house of worship.
St. Johns M.E. church in Dorchester was incorporated August 30, 1882, with the following named board of trustees, viz: C. J. Langenbach, Fred Luehr, Henry Wenig, Henry Steinbach, and George Wenig. Its present pastor is Rev. A. C. Panzlan, who officiates also at the church on Mays Prairie.
The Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Waterloo Ridge, became an incorporated body March 25, 1869, the trustees being Hans Johnson Gaare, John Svenson, and Peter Martinson; and other incorporators were Anders Larson and Ole Clauson. Their present pastor is Rev. O. Wangenstein. This church is located on the north side of section 18, a beautiful and commanding site on the ridge overlooking the valleys of Bear creek on the south, Waterloo creek on the east, and Winnebago creek to the north. Their grounds are said to be the most neatly kept of any country churchyard throughout this region. A stone church building was erected here at an early day, which has just been replaced with a handsome and substantial edifice costing some $15,000, which was dedicated in the spring of 1913.
The first enumeration of Waterloo township, in 1856, showed a population of 157. By the census of 1910, it was 751.
Township officers are: Clerk, P. C. Evenmoe; Trustees, Hans Tilleraas, H.W. Teff, and O. N. Thompson; Assessor, S. J. Svendson.
Among those who early purchased lands of the government in Waterloo were also: Patrick Griffin, John W. Albee, Michael Larson, Angeline E. Haines, Henry Schulz, Bernard Emholt, Bernard Koenig, Jacob Kumpf, Theo and Christian Schwartzhoff, Cash. McGlenn, G. Ammundson (at Quandahl), Henry and Edward Malone, Patrick McLaughlin, Knudt Tobiason, Michael Cavanaugh, Alfred Green, Henry Clauson. At a later time, about the year 1870, N. J. And P. J. Quandahl bough lands in section 30, and quite a settlement sprang up here which became known as the village or postoffice of
Quandahl - Where N. J. Quandahl established himself in a store and was postmaster for many years. He died but a few years ago. About the time of his death the postoffice was discontinued, and the village is now supplied by delivery from Dorchester. In the nineties there was a flourishing creamery here, owned by a Mr. Johnson for nearly twenty years, when in January, 1906, it was purchased by patrons and reorganized as a Farmers Cooperative Company. The store is now conducted by J. S. Quandahl, and there is also a shoe shop and a blacksmith shop.
Waterloo township participated in the Indian scare also, as related by Mr. Arnold in his Old Times on Portland Prairie.
The Sioux Indian massacre of August, 1862, though mainly confined to Western Minnesota, spread a feeling of insecurity and alarm east to the Mississippi, largely owing to the absence of so many men serving in the Union armies and the weakness of the garrisons at the few military posts on the frontier. There were but few lines of telegraph then, hence false or exaggerated reports, due to excitement, were all the more apt to be far carried and remain longer uncontradicted. There were on Indian hostilities nearer than perhaps 150 miles; yet many families turned their stock loose in the fields and taking to their teams started for the river towns. Most of them turned back after the temporary panic had subsided. Some would-be refugees from the country west of Portland Prairie reported that the Indians were at Spring Grove, and several families gathered and started for Lansing, but having been halted at the Albee place it was thought best to ascertain whether or no they were about to fly from an imaginary danger. .So C. F. Albee and Asa Sherman rode to Spring Grove, and learning that there was no cause for alarm they came back, and the refugees returned to their homes.
He also says in the war period and later, The prairie people got their milling done at Dorchester. The mill there, with two run of stone, did the custom work of the surrounding country, and generally there were so many orders ahead that farmers had to leave their grist and go a second time for the same, several days later.
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich
(pages 289, 299 & 309 have photos & pages 290, 300, 310 & 312 are blank)
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