adams county

from the Illustrated History of the State of Iowa, 1875


Adams County is the third county on the east of the Missouri, and contains four hundred and thirty-two square miles, comprising no less than twelve congressional townships. 

The east and middle Nodaway rivers drain the major part of the area, other rivers and their branches coming through the county on the south and the eastern border.  The rivers mentioned above afford valuable water powers during the greater part of the year, and many enterprises have been started to improve the advantages thus offered.  During nearly nine months of the average year, the water powers of the Middle Nodaway are available and are used by flouring mills, saw mills, and for other purposes which will go on in increasing in importance. 

Other manufacturing establishments would deserve attention here, but for the fact that to do them justice, would divert attention from the natural facilities now under review.  About one tenth of the county is under timber, mostly young, as until recently fires were common destroyers of forest growths, but since the settlers have used wise precautions against the devouring element, groves have steadily increased in value.  The streams already mentioned and their nameless tributaries almost without number afford excellent water for stock, and the beautiful vallies, fertile beyond imagination, give illimitable promises of prosperity to men of every class.  Wells can be made in any place with but little expense, and immense varieties of timber are ready for every industry.  Wild fruits challenge the skill of the practical and skillful gardener, and coal has been found in veins thick enough to warrant the expenditure of capital in bringing that valuable deposit to a market.  One vein nearly two feet thick traverses the county from the southeast to the northwest corner, and before long much labor may be employed in realizing that promise of wealth.  Already much coal has been removed from some parts of the seam to supply local demands, and Adams county has sent portions of its carboniferous riches to more distant fields.   As fuel it is not of the first class, being much impregnated with sulphur, but it burns well and blacksmiths use it freely.  Up to the present time there has been no mining in the larger meaning of that term, the main operations having been a kind of quarrying along the banks of the different rivers.  The discovery of a workable coal bed on the Missouri slope is a fewature of more than local importance, but that aspect of the subject cannot be considered on this occasion.  The main value for Adams county consists in the possibilities of manufacturing eminence which lie buried with the forests and entombed sunshine of the centuries befre Adam himself, in that rich vein. 

Steam sawmills and a woolen factory already in operation dimly outline the prosperous future which may lift every petty town into importance as an entreport of wealth.  men who are wise enough to assess at their true value the coal measures of England, see in their prospective failure within a century at the farthest, the complete eclipse of the manufacturing greatness of that kingdom, with, as an inevitable consequence, the transfer of empire to this continent.  The possession of coal must eventually resolve all questions as to national and commercial prosperity, as only the people that have coal can afford to work iron, and those who are the masters of iron command the gold of the world.  Building stone of excellent quality has been found in various parts of the county, and the supply will be ample for all purposes.  Limestone is plentiful and first class bricks have been at all times available.


The eastern half of the county consists of prairie, and is very valuable for agricultural pursuits; the western half, equally rich in soil, being less even in surface, and therefore not so immediately available.  Generally the county might be described as undulating, with occasional vlleys which must in the course of time, with the advantages which accrue from wealth and civilization become surpassingly beautiful.

The early history of Adams county carries us back no further than 1853, when the first separate organization is recorded with Samuel Baker as county judge.  The first settler, Elijah Watters, lived in the district four years earlier, but when game grew scarce he wandered to "fresh woods and pastures new" beyond our range of observation.  There was a considerable increase of population from without until the year 1858, but after that time for a period of eight years there was hardly any change in numbers, but since 1866 the increase has been steady and great.

The Icarian community deserves special mention as well from the prominence of that body in Adams county as from the peculiarity of the organization.  The community of interest which Robert Owen preached many years ago and tried to reduce to practice in New Harmony is actually realized by this peculiar people led by M. Cabet.  The French novelist procured for his followers the name "Icarian," by writing a work which bore that title in part, in which he preached socialism as the cure for every ill which afflicts the nation and society.  That book was published in 1842, and soon after that date an attempt was made to establish a colony upon the communistic basis in Texas, under M. Cabet's prestige.  The colony sailed from Havre for Red River in 1848, but when in the next year the would be founder followed, it was his misfortune to discover that the community had been decimated and scattered by sickness and misfortune.  After much effort the colony was moved to Nauvoo, from whence the Mormons had been expelled, and subsequently a location was secured in Adams county.  M. Cabet returning to France was imprisoned in that kingdom and detained for a long time from the personal oversight of his important venture.  The prosperity of the scheme, as a whole, did not bring happiness to the propagator of the enterprise, who eventually withdrew from the work in consequence of some misunderstanding, and died in St. Louis while trying to form a new comunity.  Every male adult among the Icarians is required to vote in all matters affecting the community, and women's rights are so far recognized that the lady members are allowed to discuss such questions as concern their interests.  The management of the business of the community is delegated to a president and four directors who are chosen annually.  Equality and fraternity are the ruling ideas of Icaria.  new members may be admitted after six months probation, upon their handing over all their property to the directorate, for the benefit of the mass, after which all parties share alike in the labors and profits of every venture, but no money is given in return for labor.  There is no provision for public worship among these peculiar people, but music, dancing and recreations of various kinds are cared for with special favor by them, partiularly on Sundays.

Adams county is not yet fully supplied with railroads, but the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad traverses the county from east to west, and with little difficulty all portions of its area can procure facilities for transportation to the best markets on this continent.  Schools have been cared for by the settlers, with exemplary foresight.  The common school is within easy reach of every considerable assemblage of residents and teachers of the best kind are generally secured for the school houses, which are scattered broadcast over the land, to fit the youth for the onerous functions of free government.  As might naturally be anticipated, the community which is wise enough to prepare so well for the children, has exhibited an equally commendable spirit in its war record.

CORNING is the county seat, and the town attracts favorable notice from all travelers in Iowa.  Its railroad advantages are first-class, its situation beautiful, and the enterprising spirit of its citizens is beyond praise.  Elegant sites for villa residences, within easy reach of the town, have already tempted its business men to build cottages for their families away from the bustle of commerce; and, as their wealth continues to develop, more will be done in the like direction to increase the beauty and effectiveness of the surrounding country.  parks, already worth of the name, have been secrued as the lungs of the future city.

QUINCY was the county seat before Corning arrived at that distinction, and it is still a place of very considerable importance, with many churches and sufficient educational facilities for its population.

BROOKS is beautiffuly situated, about six miles south of Quincy, on the north of East Nodaway river.

QUEEN CITY promises to be some day worthy of its name, being well placed in the center of an excellent farming country, with all the advantages of good building material in abundance near at hand.

NEVINSVILLE, more familiarly know as NEVIN, has the double advantage of being partley in the county of Adiar and partly in Adams.  New England is largely represented in its population, and the settlement thrives.

Mt. Etna, Nodaway, Icaria, Carbon, Cave and Prescot are villages which will eventually enrich their founders.

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