Past & Present of Allamakee County, 1913
Township Organization, Center twp., Fairview twp., Franklin twp.
& French Creek twp.
The county records are very incomplete and unsatisfactory as to the organization of the civil townships, and little additional information is to be found in the township records. The order in which they were organized is probably as follows:
Linton, Taylor and Post, in 1851. At the April 1852, term of the County court the course of Paint creek was officially recognized as the division line between Linton and Taylor twps; a petition for the division of Linton township was rejected; and a petition for the separate organization of "Township 96, Range 4" was also rejected. Linton originally included the whole tier of twp 96, but Post voted separately at the April, 1852 , election, as perhaps Franklin did likewise.
Lansing in February, 1852.
Makee, Ludlow, Union Prairie, Union City, Lafayette, Jefferson and Paint Creek, in April 1852. At the December term, 1853, the boundaries of the following twps were established: Linton, Taylor, Paint Creek, Jefferson, Franklin and Post. But all these had held separate elections previous to this date. Franklin and Post were taken from Linton. Jefferson and Paint Creek from Taylor. Fairview, March 5, 1855, taken from Linton. Hanover and Iowa, March 5, 1855, taken from Union City. French Creek and Waterloo, March 3, 1856, taken from Union City. Center (or Village Creek), March 5, 1856, taken from Lafayette. This comprising the eighteen townships of the county.
Taking up the settlement and progress of the townships alphabetically the first in order is:
CENTER TOWNSHIP (pg 227-233)
At a term of the County court, March 5, 1856, an order was issued appointing O. Deremo as organizing officer to call an election for the organization of "Village Creek Township," comprising Congressional township 98, range 4, to be taken from the township of Lafayette. The election was held April 8, 1850, at the house of Eric Sund, supposed to have been situated on the southeast quarter of northeast quarter of section 20, later belonging to A.G. Oleson and now owned by David Sjogren. At this election the first township officers were elected, as follows: Trustees, E. Sund, C.J. Drake, Thomas Gordon; clerk, A. Drake; assessor, O. Deremo; justices of the peace, Thomas Smith and A. Drake.
Among the earliest settlers in the township, besides those above mentioned, the following names appear: James Bakewell came in 1850 and settled on the east half of northeast quarter of section 5; G.H. Gaegre came in '51, direct from Norway, to northeast quarter of section 9; Frederick Lenz, section 4; Abraham Bechtel and Peter J. Svenson, section 5; Samuel Bechtel, section 6; Geo. Griswold and L.T. Fearon, section 7; Peter Johnson, John Winstran, and Mons. P. Ahlstrom, section 8; John H. Ahlstrom, section 17; B.T. McMillan, section 13; Joseph Reynolds, Iver Aslagson, Andrew Anderson, and Andrew E. Amundson, section 33; Andrew Oleson, section 22; Patrick Mullen and Arne Kittleson, section 25; Patrick O'Connor, section 27; O.W. Streeter, section 16; Ole Knudson, Alva Ellefson, Ole Jacobson, and Lars Oleson Rima, section 34; O. Deremo, section 32; John Johnson and John Peterson, section 28; Andrew A. Bakkum, Osten Johnson, Eric Amundson, and Ole John Wolden, section 30; A.G. Olson, section 21; L. Olson and Ole G. Anderson, section 29; Erick Hanson and Andrew Gulicson, section 18; Peter Larson, section 19; Silas Troendle, section 9; Willard Bacon, section 22; John Reed, section 31.
Dr. O. Deremo, the organizing officer appointed by County Judge Topliff, practiced medicine as well as farming, and taught the first school in the Thomas Anderson district in the adjoining township of Paint Creek, in the winter of 1854-5. At the time of the organizing election in '56 he had the honor of selecting the name "Center" for the township in place of the name Village Creek by which the region had formerly been known, derived it is said from the numerous native villages along the valley of this stream when the country was first explored by the whites. Dr. Deremo died September 20, 1903.
It is said that the first frame house in the township was built by O,W. Streeter, in 1850 or '51 on the southeast quarter of section sixteen, the farm later owned by P.J. Swenson, and now by Eddie Larson. Streeter sold out about 1854, trading his land to Bell & Co. of Dubuque, for a stock of dry goods, with which he opened a store at Caledonia, Minnesota. In the year 1900 he was practicing law in the city of Superior, Wisconsin, where he had been for many years we believe, and where he was then conducting a suit in the Federal court involving the title to fourteen quarter sections situated within the limits of that city, having a value of several millions. According to his account he was considerable of a lawyer, and had already had two decisions in his favor in this case, but it was just then being appealed to the Supreme court, as he stated in a letter at the time to this writer.
According to Mr. Deremo, who looked up some matters of the early history of the township, the first funeral was that of Joseph Reynolds, who was a soldier of the war of 1812. He entered the southwest quarter of section 33 from the government, and was buried thereon. Rev. E. Howard conducted the services.
The first school meeting was held at the house of this Mr. Howard, on the later Deremo farm, in section 32, May 14, 1855, and Mr. John Reed was secretary. Mr. Howard was a Methodist minister who had preached at Postville as early as 1848. He had preached also at Lansing and Waukon. The first school was taught the following winter, 1855-6, by Miss L. Stillman, a daughter of John Stillman who had come here that year. It was held in a log school house situated in what was later sub-district No. 4, near west line of section 32.
The first church building was begun in 1856, by the Norwegian Lutherans, where the East Paint Creek Church now is, near Dalby.
In August, 1853, Rev. Gustav Palmquist, then pastor of the Swedish Baptist church at Rock Island, Illinois, visited Village Creek, or the Swedish settlement in Center township, and on August 10th twelve were baptised -- a significant number. Immediately after, the Swedish Baptist Church of Center township was organized with these twelve members. A.G. Swedberg was chosen pastor, and Eric Sanderman, deacon. No secretary was chosen until 1855, when John Peterson was chosen.
The first four years the meetings were held in private houses, and in 1857 a small log house was bought for $50, which was fixed up and used for a church for ten years. In 1867 a frame church was erected valued at about $1000, and was considered as a remarkable edifice at the time. This house stood on the creek bottom, but owing to the high water at times it was removed to the present site. In 1884 a small farm of twenty-two acres, with a six room house, was purches for a parsonage.
This old church building served its purpose for forty-four years, when it was torn down and a new modern chuurch built in its place, in 1911, valued at some $7,000 which was decicated September 22, 1912. Considering the few Swedes tributary to this church it may be truly said that it has made progress fully up with the times. It has the distinction of being the second oldest Swedish Baptist Church in America. During the sixty years of its existence some four hundred have been enrolled as members. At present the membership is about seventy. During this time the church has been served by the following pastors: A.G. Swedberg, A. Levin, U.P. Walberg, F. Fors, Hamren, Sjogren, C.J. Ericson, Floden, C.W. Broms, L.E. Peterson, C.F. Lindberg, Paul Johnson Sjoholm, J.R. Lindblom, A. Paulson, John Lundin, and G.D. Forsell. Rev. Paul Johnson is the present pastor.
There are three years during the history of the church that are memorable as revival years. In the spring of 1862 twenty were added to the church. In the fall of 1873 Rev. Sjogren came and preached, not as pastor. During the following January fifty were baptized, and by May seventy-four had joined the church by baptism, and not a few were restored. Rev. Sjogren was called as pastor and served eight years. In 1886 through the instrumentality of Rev. Paul Johnson twenty-seven were added by baptism.
Some have gone out from this church as ministers of the gospel, as Rev. C.W.C. Ericson and Rev. Hans Soudh; one has acquired nation-wide reputation, Rev. Dr. Frank peterson, son of the first church secretary, now district secretary of the American Baptist Foreigh Missionary Society; and one missionary to India, Miss Erica Bergman. Dr. Peterson when visiting his former home here in 1912, recalled with pleasure his early struggles for an education, fifty years before, when he attended Professor Loughran's school at Waukon and did any kind of chores he could find to do to pay his way, working early and late and studying as he could catch the time, and at night.
A Sunday School in connection with the church was organized in 1862, which has been faithfully kept up; a ladies' society in 1865; and a young people's society in 1885, which is now a B.Y.P.U. This little church in Center has weathered many storms, and stands as a lighthouse on a solid rock. The united hope is that its future may have in store still greater blessings than its past has brought.
The Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Fagri Prairie was incorporated in November 1869. The church officers at that time being: Gulbrand Hanson, president; Hans H. Fagri, secretary; Johannes Rund, treasurer; and these three constituted the board of trustees. They have a church building, but at present without regular weekly service.
The mills of Village Creek were famous in their day. Among the earliest was the Whaley & Topliff Mill near the west line of Center township, on the southwest quarter of northwest quarter of section 19. Archa Whaley bought of Elias Topliff a half interest in this forty, in 1852, and put up a gristmill here. This was one of the contesting points in the triangular election for county seat in 1856, and received 314 votes. Mr. Whaley afterwards became the sole owner of this mill and continued to operate it for twenty-five or thirty years.
About the same time B.T. McMillan erected a gristmill on the west half of the northwest quarter of northeast quarter section 13, near the east line of the township, known as the Allamakee Grist Mill, and later sold to Jesse M. Rose and himslf engaged in milling in the north part of the county. This mill came later into possession of W.H. Otis, who sold it to C.L. McNamee about 1875, and he made it famous through the county as the Union Flouring Mills for many years. He finally sold it to A.C. Doehler in 1893. It is now owned and operated by Otto Mahlow, and we believe it is the only flouring mill now running in Allamakee county except those at Waukon, Forest Mills, and Dorchester.
What was known as the upper mill, or the Deremore Mill, was not started for several years later than the others mentioned. It came into the possession of Mr. A. Deremore about 1875, and his son J.A. Deremore bought it in 1881 and ran it for many years.
The Elon postoffice and store, on northwest quarter of section 33, were kept for many years by Edward Roese. Mr. Roese but recently closed out his business and removed to the West. A store has just been opened here by the Roe brothers. Mail for this region is now supplied from Waterville. Dalby was another long-time postoffice, on northeast quarter of section 35. And another postoffice was Lyndale, kept by John Drake, northwest quarter of section 23. Center township officers are now: Clerk, Louis Drake; trustees, D.R. Anderson, Iver Thorson, J.A. Moellerman; assessor, David Sjogren; justice of the peace, F.W. Ericson; constable, J.E. Ericson.
The population of Center township in 1856 was 398; in 1910, it was 721.
FAIRVIEW TOWNSHIP (pg 233-236)
This township has the most interesting history of any in the county, having been the first visitied by white men, the French traders with the Indians. It was also the scene of the first industries in the county, engaged in by the lumbermen from Prairie du Chien with their sawmills; and the site of the old Indian mission, school, and farm, established in 1834. These subjects can be only touched upon here, being treated more fully elsewhere in these pages.
But again extracts from Judge Dean's interesting sketches written in 1880 find an appropriate place here, although a full chapter has been devoted to the Old Mission in the earlier pages of this volume.
"In 1834 the United States, through its military authorities at Prairie du Chien, built on what is now section 19, township 96, range 3, in Fairview township, a mission school and farm. At this time Col. Zachary Taylor, afterwards President of the United States, commanded the post, and Jefferson Davis, since President of the so-called Southern Confederacy, was on duty there as Lieutenant. General Street was Indian Agent; all the agents at that time being army officers, and the Indians being under the control of the Secretary of War. The mission was for the purpose of civilizing and Christianizing the Indians, and was opened in the spring of 1835 with the Rev. David Lowrey, a Presbyterian in faith, as school teacher, and Col. Thomas as farmer. But the effort to make good farmers, scholars or Christians out of these wandering tribes proved abortive, and poor 'Lo' remained as before, 'a child of nature,' content to dress in breech-clout and leggings, lay around the sloughs and steams, and make the squaws provide for the family.
"After their removal, the Government having no further use for the mission, put it on the market and sold it to Thomas C. Linton, who occupied it as a farm a few years and sold it to ira Perry, and on the death of Mr. Perry in 1868, it became the property of his son, Eugene Perry, the present owner. the building is a large tow-story stone house, the chimney of which was taken for a witness tree' when the government survey of public lands was made.
"This house has become historic in many repects. It is one of the very prominent landmarks in the history of the development of Allamakee county, and we earnestly hope its owners will let it stand as long as grass grows or water runs, and thus preserve to those who may come after us at least one thing that may be considered venerable."
[Since 1880 the mission property has changed hands many times, and for the past year has been owned by Stephen and Michael Walsh. Several years ago the then owners demolished this fine old landmark, to utilize the stone and other building material in the construction of more useful buildings for the present day farmer.]
"It is a very difficult matter for us who live in Allamakee county today to conceive of the condition of things in the Mississippi valley when this old mission was built, in 1834, and it is still more difficult for the writer to convey a clear idea of it.
"There was at that time no Allamakee county, no Clayton county, no Winneshiek county, and in fact no territory organization, but simply a wilderness waste. The Indian tribes roamed over htis whole region, and Jefferson Barracks, a military post about eight miles below St. Louis, was headquarters for the military operations of the Mississippi valley. Just think of it! This valley knew no railroads, no telegraphs, and a very large per cent of its present inhabitants were not then born. The military post at Prairie du Chien had been established, and when they wanted to utilize the resources of this wild region about them, they detailed soldiers for the work, and in 1828, being in want of lumber, they sent a part of the garrison over to Yellow river and built a saw mill about two miles below what is now the old mission house, the remains of which was burned down in 1839.
"In 1840 one Jesse Dandley built a sawmill on the river about one mile below the mission, but the floods came and took the dam away, and the proprietor meeting with one mishap after another, finally abandoned it, and in time it was torn down.
[Probably the Jesse Dandley whose house was made the voting place of a Clayton county precinct in 1838, described on a preceding page.]
"In 1839 Hiram Francis and family came from Prairie du Chien to the old mission in the employ of the government, and remained there until it ceased to be a mission, and from him we learn that his duties were to issue daily rations to such Indians as were fed at that place, and that in November, 1840 , the last of them were removed to the Turkey river, and this school closed."
Fairview township was set off from Linton, March 5, 1855, but who gave it its appropriate name is not recorded. At its first enumeration, in 1856, the population was 177. In 1910, 321. January 14, 1858, the township of Fairview obtained from that of Taylor all of sections 3 and 4, township 96, range 3. On July 4, 1860, it received another accession, being sections 24, 25, 26, 35 and 36, from Linton; but on Januaary 10, 1867, the west half of section 26 was returned to Linton, leaving the boundary between these townships as as present existing. In January, 1873, sections 3,4 and 5 were set off to Taylor; and in June, 1874, sections 1 and 2 were also set off to Taylor township; since which last date the boundaries of Fairview have remained unchanged.
In 1858 there was a mill on the north side of Yellow river, in the southwest one-quarter of section 19, known as Maloney's Mill.
Johnsonsport -- Situated south of the mouth of Paint Creek, was an early steamboat landing, and supposed to be the place of the next permanent settlement after that at the Old Mission. Judge Dean is the authority for the statement that it was named after a soldier who had served out his time at Prairie du Chien, and was paid off and discharged in 1837. He took several Indian wives, living among the tribes or at the post, and finally settled on the river bank. Some of the older residents remembered him as "Squaw Johnson." The landing which was given his name was an important point at one time, but few houses were ever erected there. Armstrong Glover was the prominent settler here when the land was placed upon the market, and became postmaster when the first postoffice was established near this point in 1850, called "Tom Corwin." The town plat of Johnsonsport was laid out on the north front half of section 15, township 96, range 3, April 3, 1856, by Henry and Mary Johnson, Armstrong and Emily Glover, Geo. L. and Ann Miller, Wm. F. and S.I. Ross, Michael and Mary Clark, and Michael Rafter. Surveyed by Joel Dayton, county surveyor. Geo. L. Miller was justice of the peace.
The sawmill industry was thriving in this vicinity in the early days. About 1875 the Flack brothers were operating a stave-mill, employing ten or twelve men.
Allamakee -- Lay to the north of and adjoining Johnsonsport, on fractional lots 5 and 6, section 10, and was platted in February, 1858, Wm. W. Hungerford, county surveyor. The plat fails to show the names of the proprietors. At a later date a post office called "Allamakee" was established some two miles further down the river. It was in 1857 that the Prairie du Chien & Mankato Railroad Company was organized, for the purpose of bringing about an extension of the Milwaukee road which had just been open to the Prairie, up the valley of Paint Creek to Waukon and westward; and this platting of the Johnsonsport and Allamakee townsites was doubtless in conjunction with this project. Mr. Hungerford was a proficient civil engineer, and ran the line through for this proposed extension. He became quite prominent in this profession in later years. After the failure of this project these villages were lost sight of; and when twenty years later the narrow guage railroad was built up Paint Creek valley, the station was established on the north side of that stream, and is now Waukon Junction, just outside of the Fairview boundary.
Nezeka -- Was another of Fairview's paper towns, whose existence is forgotten by most of our people. it is a pity that more care had not been taken in the early days to preserve some record of the origin of the names of steams and villages, when in many instances, like this, it would have been easily ascertained. This townsite was laid out December 12, 1856, on government lots 3 and 4, section 34, by Chester N. Case, I.N. Bull, Lawrence Case, F.I. Miller, H.L. Dousman, B.W. Brisbois, Preston Lodwick and F.C. Miller; names which were later widely known. Its location was at the mouth of Yellow river, on the south side, in the extreme southeast corner of the county, and was doubtless the spot where the white man first put foot on Allamakee soil. This river is mentioned by name, by Capt. Jonathan Carver in his travels in 1766, one hundred and forty-seven years ago, when he put ashore here with some French traders; and how much earlier they had traded with the Indians here is only a matter of conjecture. It is not at all improbable that Radisson and Groiselliers may have visited this spot a hundred years earlier than Carver, even, it was so noticable and accessible in passing up from the Wisconsin where they entered the Mississippi. [See opening chapter.] And it is possible this was the site of one of the trading posts established by the indefatigable Perrot in or about 1683.
Nezeka was surveyed by Ira B. Brunson of Prairie du Chien, December 12, 1856. It was a postoffice in 1861, but did not so continue long. The site of htis village is now owned by J.M. Collins, of Waukon. For nearly a century the lower Yellow river valley has been drawn upon for lumber, and it is still yielding. Mr. J.G. Laird is the present lumber man who is operating a sawmill here, on quite an extensive scale.
In the later fifties Mr. J.F. Liebhardt bought hundreds of acres of government lands along the Yellow river with the intention of raising grapes on the bluffsides for the making of wines on an extensive scale, but the venture was never developed.
Red House Landing -- Was situated in the south part of section 22, Fairview township. At the September, 1853, term, of the County court a license was granted to W.C. Thompson to operate a ferry line across the Mississippi, between this point and the east side at or near Prairie du Chien.
As an illustration of the importance attached to this locality in the days of early railroading, and the possibility at one time of this point becoming a station on a transcontinental line, it is interesting to note a project of vast magnitude for those days which was launced in 1856 as shown by our county records, being the incorporation of the Mississippi & South Pass Railroad Company. The articles of incorporation were dated October 10, 1856, files for record January 12, 1857, and provided for a capital of $30,000,000, with privilege to increase to $50,000,000, divided into shares of $100 each, "for the purpose of surveying, locating, constructing, owning, maintaining and operating a railroad with single or double track, from the Mississippi river at or near the mouth of Yellow river in Allamakee county, state of Iowa, or at any other place in Allamakee or Clayton counties that the directors may determine, through the territories of Minnesota and Nebraska to the South Pass, at or near forty-three degrees north latitude." The instrument was executed by the following named men of more or less national reputation in financial circles, viz: Joseph Vanderpool, Jr., Samuel J. Beals, Geo. W. Matsell, Benjamin P. Fairchild, Frederick S. Vanderpool, William MacKaller, Henry R. Conklin, Allan McKeachim, and K.L. Hays, of the city of New York; and Gilbert T. Sutton, of Peekskill, New York, Mathew P. Bemis of Chautauqua county, New York, Isaac Marsh Denman of Newark, New Jersey, and Pratt R. Skinner, Henry C. Matsell and Mathew D. Finn of the state of Iowa. This was but one of the numerous projects which followed the construction of the Milwaukee road to Prairie du Chien in 1856. Within the next decade the Pacific railroad scheme was consummated by the Union Pacific from Omaha.
Of the early settlers of Fairview who took lands of the government or of the school fund of the state, in the early fifties, the following names appear to have been prominent: Wm. H. Morrison in section 3 (Paint Rock, now in Taylor township), J.H. Beckwith in section 8 (sold to Daniel Gibbs), Mathew Johnson, Michael Carpenter, Henry Johnson, Armstrong Glover, John Boswell, Peter Rider (section 16), Jacob Worth (met his death by drowning in the Mississippi river, September 24, 1883), John Walsh, Lawrence Maloney, Jacob F. Liebhardt, james McCaffery, Wm. Dennison (northwest one-half section 28), George Baker, Fielding True, Peter O'Maley, John Kelly (section 30), Louis Carding, Geo. Branshos (Nezeka), Baptiste LaPoint (section 32).
The Fairview township officers in 1913 are as follows: Clerk, T.E. Wilkins; trustees, Robert F. Aird, James Brennan, P.B. Luce; assessor, J.J. Broderick; justices, Pat Cahalan and A.M.L. Brainard; constables, Wm. Nicholson and Ed. McAndrews.
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP (pg 237-245 )
In December, 1853, the boundaries of Franklin township were established by the County court, with the east and west sides two miles further east than they now are; but on March 28, 1855, the west one-third of township 96, range 5, was taken from Post and added to Franklin; and on February 4, 1856, the west one-third of township 96, range 4, was set off to Linton, making the boundaries conform to the congressional township lines. In 1854 the enumeration showed the population of Franklin to be 321. In 1910 it was 825.
Among the early comers into this township are found the names of the following who entered their claims and took title directly from the government, or from the state in the case of school lands; all of these as early as 1854 or prior to that year, viz: In section 1 -- John Thomas, Moses A. Ross, John B. Pettit, J.L. Holman; section 2 -- Nathaniel Mitchell, C.B. Churchill, Samuel Pettit; section 3 -- Ed. Stanley, Henry Coffman, John D. Demerre, W.F. Ross, John D. Koontz; section 4 -- Peter Moore, M.B. Lyons, Cyrus Lyons, Josiah Mitchell; section 5 -- Isaac Arnold, Wm. Wehrhan, P.M. Gilson, A.W. Hoag; section 6 -- Alexander Dawson, southeast one-quarter; section 7 -- Theodore Saucer; section 8 -- Wm. Smith, Stephen Merriau, Cyrus F. Miller; section 9 -- David Clark; section 10 -- Job D. Halsey, Alanson Coon; section 11 -- Michael Miller, John S. Clark; section 12 -- Robert Crawford, Samuel S. Holmes, James Palmer, John Briscoe; section 13 -- Geo. A. Clark, Wm. Mastin, Samuel Biggs, A.F. Newcomb, Austin and Harriet Smith; section 14 -- John S. Clark, B.C. Clark (and section 15), M.B. Henthorn; section 15 -- James McGarigill; section 16 -- James Smith, Wm. M. Smith; section 17 -- Selden Candee; section 18 -- James Latham, Wm. McIntosh, John Fulton, S.P. Hicks; section 20 -- Francis and Vine Dunning; section 24 -- James C. Smith (all east one-half section), Samuel Candee; section 26 -- Alex Falconer, James Davis; section 27 -- Samuel A. and John Gregg, John Ferguson, Mary McAndrews, Alex. Gilchrist; section 28 -- John Rowe; section 29 -- C.C. Sawyer and Jas. P. Sawyer, John Taggart (Lamborn farm); section 30 -- Henry D. Evans (and section 33), Jas. M. Sumner; section 31 -- L.B. Hodges, L.R. Herrick, J.C. Beedy; section 32 -- Joseph Collins; section 33 and 34 -- J.S. Smith; section 35 -- Thos. F. Sargent, James Carnaw (Canoe); section 36 -- Patrick Cummins.
Wm. B. Smith came to Franklin township in 1850, where he has ever since resided with the exception of one year in Howard county, lately living with his daughter, Mrs. Ida Douglass in Waukon. He celebrated his 85th birthday anniversary April 20, 1913.
Hardin-- In the early fifties this was the most important and flourishing inland town in northeastern Iowa. Located on the Clayton county line (now), in the extreme southwestern corner of Franklin township, it was but a couple of miles north of the reservation line, south of which the region had previously been settled by scattering farmers for eight or ten years. Lying on an old Indian trail from their village near Luana to the Decorah village, which route was also an early mail route and shown on early maps as the direct route between Dubuque and St. Paul, by way of Monona, Hardin, Lybrand, Granville (or Grantville), Frankville, Trout river, Decorah, Burr Oak, Elliota (Minn.), Carimona, and Rochester, it began to be settled as soon as the Indians were removed, in 1848, and there was a postoffice here January 1st, 1851, L.B. Hodges, postmaster. This was one of the four only in Allamakee county at that date, the others being Postville, Lansing, and Tom Corwin (later Johnsonsport, in Fairview); but the fifth was established the latter part of that year at Lybrand. thus it was a natural "port of entry" to the newly opened reservation, and several professional men who located here at first soon after removed to new towns as they began to promise better; instances being: Lawyers Ransom and Powers to Postville; also Dr. John S. Green; and L.B. Hodges, clerk of the District court, went to Columbus from here. James M. Sumner, one of the first county commissioners, and we believe Joseph W. Holmes, another, were from this vicinity. County Surveyors S.P. Hicks, Joel Dayton and H.O. Dayton, began their duties from this point; and if we mistake not our veteran attorney Hon. Henry Dayton, of Waukon, entered the county by this gateway, teaching the Hardin school in the winter of 1857-8.
The first store in Hardin is said to have been opened by A.D. Frazier, one of the original proprietors, in 1851, and in the following spring R.T. Burnham brought in a stock of goods. in 1855 there were five general stores, and other lines of trade well represented. On the Clayton side of the line there was at one time a large steam gristmill; and the widely known "Collins Tavern", kept by one of the town proprietors. The first school was kept by L.B. Hodges in a log schoolhouse built in the fall of 1849, in the west part of the village, barely west of the present township line. The first religious services were held in this log house, Rev. Bishop, Methodist, officiating. in 1858 and '59 a Baptist church organization existed at Hardin, ministered unto by Rev. James Schofield as missionary. This church ceased to exist about 1863.
Hardin was platted in January, 1854, by Leonard B. Hodges, the owner of the land in Allamakee county, and Joseph Collins, owner of that on the Clayton side of the line. Additions were platted in 1856, hardin Center, and in 1857, East Hardin; but the lots have been mostly vacated. The name adopted was in honor of Colonel Hardin, of Illinois.
Smithfield -- Located on the northwest quarter of northwest quarter section 24, was platted into village lots February 11, 1854, by Wm. M. and Sarah Smith, and Austin and Harriet Smith, proprietors, John R. Wilson being the justice of the peace before whom acknowledgment was made. Austin Smith established in this vicinity one of the very early sawmills on Yellow river, perhaps the earliest in this township, from which was obtained much of the lumber used in the first frame buildings in Waukon, in 1853 and '54. There was splendid waterpower here, and one of the largest flouring mills on Yellow river was later erected at this place. In 1877 it was owned by Koontz & Clark, who were operating three run of burrs, and were obliged to often run for twenty hours out of the twenty-four to keep up with their custom. This was in the prime milling days, when there were not less than six flouring mills in operation along the valley and another in course of construction at Sixteen, a few miles below. It was not long after this that wheat growing was given up.
Volney -- Laid out on the northeast quarter of southeast quarter section 13, hardly a mile down the river from Smithfield, by Samuel and Margaret Biggs, February 12, 1856, according to a survey made in October previous. Plat acknowledged before Thos. Crawford, justice of the peace. There had been a settlement here for some years prior to this, and a postoffice was established in February, 1852, which was kept up until a few years ago, the vicinity now being supplied by rural delivery from Monona. The Volney mills were widely known and patronized from a very early day. It would be interesting to note the changes in ownership and management of these mills in detail, but the facts are not at hand. And, indeed, a volume might be written on the mills of Yellow river valley which have finally ceased to exist. In 1869 the mill here was known as Gurney's mill, but later in the same year D. Tangeman became part owner. In 1872 the Tangeman Brothers were in command, and both saw and flouring mill were in full blast and they were putting up a wood-working factory. In 1877 the Tangemans were running the Volney flouring and gristmills to their full capacity, day and night; also the sawmill, and a cooperage business. August Tangeman later became the sole owner and operated the flouring mill for many years.
The business of the village today consists of a grocery store by Chas. Bollman, and a blacksmith shop by Chas. Rose.
The Volney M.E. church was incorporated March 22, 1890 (this organized at a very early date), with the following named trustees: J.P. Emerson, F.W. Tangeman, H.A. Burnham, A.J. Campbell, and W.H. Adams. it has been supplied recently, we believe, by Rev. James B. Bird, from Monona.
Manchester -- Or, usually called Manchester Mills, was in section 6, close to the Post township line and the sister city of Cleveland, so that the mills here were called by either name indiscriminately. All these villages were located along the Yellow river at the numerous places where this stream offered available waterpower for milling purposes, which in the early days was of the utmost importance; and each one of them at one time or another gave promise of healthy village growth, until the decline of the milling industry.
Peter M. and Judith Gilson were the proprietors of the Manchester plat, which bears the date May 10, 1859, from the survey made by Joel Dayton in 1856. Trumbull Granger was the justice of the peace who took their acknowledgment.
Forest Mills -- Was at first known as Werhan's Mill, but received the later name of Forest Mills when a postoffice was established there, in 18--. William Werhan came to this spot in 1851, and in company with P.M. Gilson built a sawmill in 1854. In a later year Mr. Werhan bought out Mr. Gilson, who then took hold of the Manchester mill, two miles further up the river. In 1865 Mr. Werhan built a much larger and better mill, and this flouring mill has continued to do a good business to this day. In 1877 he was doing a large business in both sawmill and flouring mill. About this time the flouring industry was being rather overdone throughout the county, there being at the beginning of 1878 between twenty-five and thirty mills in the county; and soon a good portion of them had to drop out because of decreasing business in this line. A postoffice was established here of which Mr. Werhan was commissioned postmaster, and so continued for many years. He was also justice of the peace. His death occurred December 23, 1901. A store has been kept in this vicinity for a long time under different managements, and at present is conducted by Frank Russell.
A church of the United Brethren in Christ was incorporated near Forest Mills in December, 1897 (though earlier organized), of which the trustees were J.H. Hendrickson, C.W. Bender, Abe Evans, Henry Werhan, and L.H. McGhee. It continues to fourish, served by Rev. A.E. Hursh, together with the Bethel church in Post township.
In 1913 the Franklin township official roster is: Clerk, J.H. Palmer; trustees, Geo. Decker, Wm. Biggs, Herman Peglow; assessor, J.H. McShane; justices, Frank Russell and J.P. Gilson; constable, F.J. Beuge.
On a map published in 1859 the mills in Franklin township are shown as follows: Werhan's mill, in the east part of section 5, and Gilson's mell, near the center of the same section; Dawson's mill, on section 6, and a gristmill near by; Deucher's mill, on section 9, at the mouth of Williams Run; Blain's mill, on section 14, near west line; and the Hardin mills, on section 31, probably the Burnham mill, later removed to Myron.
"Sodom and Gomarrah"
While not occurring within the limits of Franklin township, the incidents here narrated took place close t its southern border, and tradition kept the circumstances in the minds of early settlers in this region. The story has been variously told, but from a camparison of different versions the facts seem to be as follows:
In the summer of 1840 when P.P. Olmsted and his brother, David, became the first settlers in Monona township, Clayton county, near the present site of the town of that name, there was a large Winnebago village some two miles northwest of their location whose chief was Whirling Thunder. The band was removed to near Fort Atkinson in 1841 or '42, but the site of their village, supposedly on Hickory creek near the county line, was later occupied by smaller bands of Indians until their final removal in 1848. The line of reservation, or formerly neutral ground, crossed the government road from Fort Crawford to Fort Atkinson at or about the present village of Luana, and conscienceless liquor traders established their resorts on this road as near to the reservation line as they dared, being forbidden over the line. One of these places was kept by Taffy Jones, a reckless character who hailed from Fort Crawford, and the passing troops between the two posts gave it the name of "Sodom." A genious named Graham Thorn started a similar resort not far away, and not to be outdone in wickedness dubbed his place "Gomorrah."
Sometime in the winter of 1847 a band of Winnebagoes, then encamped on Hickory creek, collected in the neighborhood of these cabins for a spree, and one of their number, an old man, traded all his belongings, including his blanket, for whisky, and his dead body was found the next day by his son, where he had died from exposure and intoxication, doubtless, though perhaps he had been maltreated. At any rate, the son being filled with the desire for revenge crawled up to one of the whiskey dens, in the evening, and fired his gun through the window with the intention of killing Jones, or Thorn, but unfortunately mistook his man and killed an inoffensive customer named patrick Riley. The young Indian was captured by a detachment of troops and brought to trial, found guilty of manslaughter, fined $500 and sentenced to ten days' imprisonment. He was defended by Samuel Murdock, the pioneer lawyer of Clayton county. It is said that he was confined in the Fort Atkinson guardhouse from whence he escaped with the connivance of a friendly white man, and was never recaptured.
Jones live but a short time after this occurrance. Dr. Andros, a pioneer physician, was present at his death, having been called in as he was passing from Fort Atkinson to Prairie du Chien. He found Jones on his bed in a miserable condition, dying from chronic alchoholism, his one desire being for more whisky. Thorn left the country, but returned after the Indians were removed to Minnesota.
There has been more or less dispute over the location of the Sodom and Gomorrah cabins -- as was the case in the originals of Bible times -- and in July, 1907, Capt. John Tapper of Monona, an old government teamster of those days, drove some iron pegs to designate the respective spots as he remembered them. From the Monona Leader, of a date in July, 1907, these quotations are made:
"Capt. John Tapper first set foot on Monona soil in 1840 and in the fall of 1841 and a part of the year of 1842 was a teamster in the employ of the government between Prairie du Chien and Fort Atkinson, transporting military supplies, so that he became familiar with the locality and wll acquainted with the people along his route of travel over the old military road. He was for many years a resident of Monona township, conducting a farm two miles east of Monona. As he was familiar with Minneapolis, St. Paul, St. Anthony Falls and Minnehaha Falls all through their early period in the '40s, so he became familiar with this section in its earliest pioneer days, and in relating the story of the settlement of the country has proven time and again the accuracy of his statements, in the naming of persons who took an active part in the destiny of htis great west country, and in locating prominent points of material interest to historians. For a man of his age, now past eighty-eight years, he is still robust, healthy, active and energetic, and if put to the test, would no doubt run a foot race, leap the hurdle, or wrestle with his even weight, and be the victor in each bout. From Captain Tapper we gain the information for this article, locating to a certainty the two rival saloons, named Sodom and gomorrah.
"The Military road, as laid out by the government, and in use until the construction of the railroad between Monona and Luana, followed the ridge from near the Snell farm along the present line of the railroad, passing through Main street from where the depot in Luana is now located, northwest, thence directly west. The wagon road now is north of the railroad track and the original line of the Military road. The objuect in following the ridge was to avoid the sags, deep gullies and ravines, through which it was impossible to haul heavy loads of merchandise. All government wagons then in use were hauled by six mules, driven by one line, the driver riding on the nigh mule and with a six foot black snake whip could make the mules get-up-and-get and pull for dear life, and by the resound of the crack of the whip give notice of the coming to the loungers at Sodom and Gomorrah."
Then follows a detailed description of the locations of the respective cabins at Luana, and the contentions over the water supply for same. The two places were rivals for trade, and every means was resorted to for controlling the patronage. Continuing the quotation:
"Taff Jones was proprietor of the cabin called Sodom. He was of Irish-Welsh descent, his father from Ireland and his mother from Wales. Taff was a pugilist by nature and practive. He was always ready for a scrap and brooked no threats in his hearing. His fighting qualities were tested on every possible occasion and he had many an encounter with the soldiers and the rough and ready fellows who were hoofing it through the country in search of homes. Notwithstanding the brutal part of the man there was a kindness of heart in Taff Jones. To a friend he was a friend indeed. While the exterior of the man was of the brutish type, the inner man gave demonstrations of a worthy character. there were two sides to the man, the good and the bad. He could fit a case to either as his emotions seemed to dictate. After three or four years he left the country and Sodom became a thing of the past.
[Note the discrepancy: Dr. Andros said he died there.]
"Graham Thorn was the proprietor of the Gomorrah cabin. He was a discharged soldier -- Hospital Steward -- from Fort Crawford, having served two enlistments in the regular army. He came into this country in the latter part of 1840, following in the wake of the moving Winnebago Indians, bringing with him a few dentist tools and a case of medicine, and to some extent administered to the sick and needy.
"Upon the reservation Thorn built his first log cabin, about five rods west of the corner store, which he named Gomorrah. While Thorn was absent at Prairie du Chien, purchasing a supply of liquors and groceries, the U.S. Dragoons came along and finding Thorn's cabin on the reservation set fire to it and it was burned to the ground. Only a pile of ashes were left for Thorn to view on his return. Nothing daunted, however, Thorn proceeded to rebuild, this time locating his cabin on the south side of the main traveled road as previously described.
"Sodom and Gomorrah, as now located, were about an eighth of a mile apart, in view of each other. Thorn remained selling liquors and nicknacks until he got into trouble with a roving band of Indians and in a fight killed one of the braves. Becoming alarmed and fearing the vengeance of the Winnebagoes, Thorn skipped the country. His cabin was burned to the ground, supposedly by Indians. On removal of the Winnebagoes to another and distant reservation, Thorn returned and again built a log cabin, this time on the Andrew Walch farm, in the field near the junction of the Monona and McNeil roads, about where the bunch of evergreens appear, in the neighborhood of five rods west from center of north road. Here Thorn resided for several years. He was here in 1852, since which time no trace is had of him. Perhaps someone of the '50s can throw light on his future movements.
"Both of the cabins were in size about 12X14 and while they answered the purpose for which they were erected there were times when their capacity was fully tested. Drunken brawls were of frequent occurrence in both places and many hot encounters between the proprietors, soldiers and roving Indians are remembered. the U.S. Dragoons were constantly on the trail between Prairie du Chien and Fort Atkinson, made necessary by the scattering members of the Indian tribes and the constant travel of homeseekers who began pouring into the country. Up to 1844 there was only a scattering of settlers' cvabins to be seen on this broad prairie, and while there were earlier selections of homesteads their occupancy was delayed until the government began the movement of the Indians further north, sixty miles above St. paul. H.M. Rice had the contract with the government for the removal of the Red Men from this immediate vicinity."
FRENCH CREEK TOWNSHIP (pg 245-246 )
This township was officially organized March 3, 1856, being taken from the township of Union City as originally organized, and comprises all of the congressional township 99, range 5, with the exception of the north half of sections 4, 5 and 6, which owing to the meandering of the Oneota river was left in the jurisdiction of Union City. It was mostly settled in 1854, the population in '56 being 278.
Alton was the only village platted in this township, and it was a paper town, laid out January 5, 1858, by W.W. and Nancy Woodmansee. It was situated on section I, near where French Creek flows into the Oneota, or Upper Iowa river. The plat was placed on record, and perhaps some few lots sold, but it soon became unknown and but few now remember that there ever was such a place on the map.
French Creek Postoffice was established in 1859, with Porter Bellows as postmaster, commissioned by President Buchanan. His wife, Mrs. A.M. Bellows, succeeded him at his death in 1879, serving until her death which occurred in January, 1894, when Mrs. M.A.R. Bellows served until the family removed to Waukon in January, 1903, when the office was discontinued after an existence of forty-three years.
This township took the name of the creek flowing through it, called French Creek from a man by the name of French, who lived near the head of that stream when the first permanent settlers located in its valley.
One of the first settlers in French Creek township was Porter Bellows, coming in the spring of 1851, from Rockton, Illinois, and settling on the Iowa river just south of Union City. Many tepee poles were standing near the bend of the river, opposite the mouth of Clear creek, where the Indian thicket bore plenty of grapes, plums, gooseberries and crab apples; and just above on the side hill was the Indian burying ground. Mr. Bellows drove several hundred sheep from Illinois by way of Mineral Point, Wisconsin, crossing the Mississippi on a ferry below McGregor. There were no made roads leading to the new home in the Iowa river valley. Ravines were without a break, smooth and grassy. During the first winter supplies were brought from Monona, to a point on the high ridge nearest the house, and drawn down the hill on hand sleds. Mr. Bellows built one of the first gristmills in the county, near the mouth of French Creek, at the foot of a high lone bluff rivaling Mount Hope on the opposite side of the river and valley, which they named "Owl's Head." This was so named because of a large stone or boulder which stood out on the flat summit of the front crags. Some years later it was struck by lightening and knocked into the valley. To this mill came settlers with their grists from the surrounding country and from points far distant in Minnesota.
The first manufacturing plant on French Creek was a sawmill operated by Barney Hunt below where the Leppert schoolhouse is located. Farther down the valley at the confluence of a large spring with the creek one Gordon had a shingle mill for a time. These were very early structures. George Wild built a sawmill above the mouth of Silver Creek about the year 1861; but a few years later built the second grist mill on French Creek, selling later to Henry Hirt, who sold to J.W. Hartley and the building was removed.
The first schoolhouse in the township, probably, was built on the Bellows farm in 1861, although several terms of school had been taught in the district in a vacant dwelling house.
Mr. Bellows served as justice of the peace during his life, and was one of the county supervisors for a time, besides filling other township offices and that of postmaster as before referred to. At the top of the high hill just west of his place were the families of John Stone and J.T. Beetem, coming in 1854; the las a tall Kentuckian with a family of boys, two of whom, Charles and J.T., served in the army and later opened up farms near by, but after the death of the father in the late sixties sold out to Germans and all emigrated to Nebraska and South Dakota, where they prospered. Other early settlers were the Schusters, and J. Asbacher and Geo. Wild, young men. In the valley were Wm. Yeoman, Geo. Kibbly ('51), Clark, and Daniel Lahey.
Among others the following took land of the government in other parts of the township: John A. Wakefield in the extreme south, on Lansing Ridge, 1850; Geo. W. Spence, '51; N. Till, Benedict Troendle, and A.G. Howard, in '52; Edward Mahoney and John O'Brien, '53; and in '53 or '54 and closely following were, Geo. Munz, Martin Engelhorn, Patrick McCormick, James O'Donnell, Michael O'Brien, Wm. Collins, James Harkins, James Deviny, Michael Kelleher, Terence Brushnahan, J.M. Lisher, Tim and Phil Meagher, John Ronan, Pat McCauley, Thos. Howes, Andrew Collins, Cornelius Casey, Andrew Leppert, Jas. Sweeney, martin Devit, and James Dougherty.
The only church organization possessing a house of worship in French Creek township, we believe, is the German Methodist church located on the south lin of section 10, where services are sustained at more or less regular intervals, conducted, we believe, by Rev. John F. Daacke.
The present township officers of French Creek are: Clerk, P.J. McCauley; trustees, Joe Zoll, James Howes, J.T. Welsh; assessor, J.C. Ebner. The population of the township in 1856 was 278; and by the census of 1910, it was 498.
~transcribed by Sharyl Ferrall
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