Allamakee co. IAGenWeb

Chapter 21

History of Lansing
Past & Present of Allamakee County, 1913

History of Lansing - Recollections of 1851 - Lansing in 1852/53 - City Government
The Water Supply - Fire Department - Lansing Schools


HISTORY OF LANSING (page 415-416)
The city of Lansing presents a beautiful aspect when approached from the river, appearing to be entirely surrounded by rugged hills. In summer, when these hills are clothed in richest green and the town lies half hidden in their shadows; in autumn, when nature has put on her brilliant hues; or in the early spring when the little city nestles in the warming sun, and tender growth is springing -- it is as fair a place to look upon as can be found in the valley of the great river upon whose shore it rests.

The bench upon which the principal portion of the city is built, runs down to the river with a bold, clean shore, along which flows the main channel of the Mississippi, affording an excellent landing place at all seasons of navigation.

This truly beautiful townsite was first occupied in 1848, by a man named Garrison, of whom little is known; and he seems to have left no impress upon the locality other than the name he gave to the embryo settlement where he had built his shanty, he having come from Lansing, Michigan, and this name was accepted and adopted by his successors, the founders of the soon-to-be town. He was living in a log cabin, just south of L.O. Rud's present residence, on Front street, when John Haney, Sr., accompanied by his son James, came to the place and located a claim, adjoining. H.H. Houghton came soon after and purchased Garrison's claim; and together with Mr. Haney they secured all the land for a distance of four miles up the valley to the west, or some 1,400 acres, including several mill sites along the creek. In October of the same year, 1848, and on New Year's day they moved into their new log cabin. A postoffice was established in 1849, with James Haney postmaster.

Among the early settlers were also: John Haney, Jr., G.W. Gray, G.W. Hays, James I. Gilbert, W. Ballou, F.D. Cowles, J.W. Remine, A.L. Battles, I.B. Place, H.M. Travis, J.I. Taylor, E. Hale, and G.H. Battles.

The first marriage in the place was that of James Haney and Rachel W. Hurton, which occurred February 5, 1852.

The first white male child born in the place was Frank Cowles. The first female child, Alberta Hale. Death's first claim was little Fanny, daughter of Fanny and John Haney, Sr., who died April 19, 1850, and was the first to be buried in the cemetery now on the property of Mrs. Martha Hemenway, on Front street. Others afterwards laid to rest here were: Mrs. Abram Bush, Mrs. Watson, a little daughter of A.W. Purdy, Lizzie Williams, two Patterson children, Willie Haney, Mrs. John Haney, Sr., and John Hemenway. The three last named and Fanny Hemenway, the first named, have since been removed to Oak Hill cemetery.

The first merchant who located in the new town was F.D. Cowles, in the fall of 1851; the first lawyer was J.W. Remine; the first doctor, J.I. Taylor.

The first hotel was kept by Dr. Houghton in a little log building on Front street, just north of Williams street. The first frame building was a store erected by F.D. Cowles in August, 1851, on the corner of Front and Main streets, north of Main.

The first frame hotel was the "Lansing House," which is still standing on Front street, north of Main. It was built by Abram Bush in the fall of 1851. The first drug store was kept by I.B. Place on Front street, near the Lansing House. It was opened in the fall of 1852. The first justice of the peace was an Englishman named Luckins.

In those early days the only route of communication with the world at large was by the river. During the first year the packets came but once in two weeks and seldom stopped unless for worrd or to land passengers. The mails were sent by H.H. Houghton, of Galena, and often thrown from the passing boat by the mate weighted with a stone picked up at the last landing. The Senator was the only boat running at this time. It made the round trip between St. Louis and St. Paul, the famous Captain Smith in command. As business rapidly increased other boats were put on until a packet came daily, up and down, and the event of the day was the landing of the steamboat. How interesting it would be to us now, could we stand some day and looking down the river see the Gray Eagle puffing up the stream. Perhaps it is in July of '63, we have had no news for twenty-four hours; there is a mail bag on board in which are papers and perhaps letters from "the boys" at the front. The boat swings in to the landing, a call from some one on board, "Vicksburg is taken," and a great shout goes up from the crowd along the wharf. Strangers, immigrants in their native dress, men, women, and children crowd onto the planks, all talking in their native languages. Baggage is taken off, and the fifty or more roustabouts, to the time of whistle and sone, carry off boxes and barrels, crates and bales, and carry on grain and flour. How delightful it all was as compared with the present day travel by rail!

With the closing of navigation each year this means of communication was removed, and until spring again restored it, such business as was done had to be carried on by teams driven on the ice from Lansing to Prairie du Chien, the nearest railroad town. The ice was always uncertain; hence the mails, and all kinds of business depending upon transportation to and from the eastern centers of commerce, were largely dependent upon that most uncertain of all institutions, the weather.

RECOLLECTIONS OF 1851 (page 416-420)

After a quarter of a century, in the "front end" of 1877 one of the pioneers, Mr. H.M. Travis, wrote thus interestingly of the early days, as published in the Lansing Mirror at that time:
"At 10 o'clock, P.M., October 24, 1851, the writer stepped ashore from the steamer 'Excelsior,' 'under the bank' in front of what is now the Bates House, and was at once interviewed by a small active man, with a lantern, about as follows: ‘Do you keep a hotel?’ ‘Yes, sir.” ‘Where is your carriage?’ ‘Haven’t any; hotel only a few steps away.’ With a friend and his lady we followed mine host, who, I suppose, was the front end of Lansing hotelkeepers, as his double log house on Front street was the front end of Lansing hotels. A few steps brought us to a low log structure, and we entered. Mine host drew some chairs around the stove, near which, on a ‘shake down,’ three guests were sleeping, placed his lantern on a table and seated himself on a chair.

“A short silence intervened, when the friend with the lady remarked, ‘I would like a room.’ Landlord–‘I would like to see you get that.” Friend–‘Well, if you have no accommodations we will not stay with you.’ Landlord–‘Where will you go? This is the only hotel in the place!’ And there the dialogue ended, finally resulting in a compromise; the lady retired with the landlady; the landlord curled around the stove pipe on the chamber floor; my friend slept on four chairs, and the writer kept up the fire and grumbled, until a bright October morning ushered in a day memorable to us as the front end of our twenty-five years residence in Lansing.

“We had to see the ‘lion’ of course, and first the ‘store’ met our attention, kept by F. D. Cowles in a little building, at the corner of Main and Front streets, which represented the front end of merchandising, and was without a rival. G. W. Carver, with a $600 stock of lumber, held the front of our now extensive lumber business. Messrs. Haney & Houghton, with a sawmill at the edge of town, were the pioneers in manufacturing. Dodging the stumps, we walked through Front and Main streets, climbed the ‘Hog Back,’ and thence scaled Mount Hosmer, and enjoyed the magnificent river views, which even now so will repay the exertion. Next day we helped ‘raise’ the frame of Elisha Hale’s house, on Front street, and for weeks, every one was busy preparing for winter. Soon E. P. Bircher put in an appearance, and in a ‘leanto’ started a saloon, the front end of that now somewhat extensive business. Mine host Houghton, of the log hotel, was the resident physician, and stood No. 1 on that list. Rev. Bishop, once in three weeks, made us a visit, and gave us a sermon, preaching in private rooms, and once during the winter in a bar-room, with the whisky bottles at his back, that being the only room in town large enough to seat the twenty–five or thirty persons present. This front end of religious effort contrasts widely with our present numerous clergymen and churches. The beginning of a ministerial support was unique. The class leader was Brother G. H. Battles, who was likewise collector, and generally succeeded about as follows: A, merchant–‘Yes, here are a couple of dollars.’ B, saloonkeeper- ‘Yes, here is a dollar; tell him I took it in for whisky.’ Gambler at table in same room–‘Hold on until I win this double pot; if I do, I’ll give you a couple of dollars.’ Wins. ‘Here is your money; tell him I won it at poker,’ etc.

“Winter’s snows clothed the scene; winter’s ice shut us in from the outer world, a weekly mail our connecting link with civilization, half a dozen frame buildings finished and unfinished; three log houses; three or four ‘shanties’–this was Lansing twenty-five years ago. A. L. Bush opened his hotel, and they glory of the log Astor departed. Many will remember Bush’s Christmas ball. Private social parties, not at all exclusive, were the rage , and very nice they were too. The resounding axe of the woodman made vocal the island opposite town, whereon our former townsman, William Fleming, Esq., then ‘one of the Maine“ boys,’ in chopping cord wood, ‘illustrated with cuts’ the front end of his since extensive lumber business. The weekly debating society was the central point of the local literary effort, and the writer has never since felt himself quite as important as when reading the minutes, or announcing the subject for discussion. Let us mention some of the contestants. West–English, staid and decorous; –Craig–a fiery Scot; Conner–with his shrewd Irish wit and rapid utterance; keen reasoning Bush; argumentative Hall; sneering Streeter; Valley–the champion laughist, etc., not to forget J. W. Remine, Esq., of Virginia, the pioneer resident lawyer, who wielded his tongue with the same aggressive sharpness with which, on another occasion, he slashed with his knife the arm of a hotel guest at Bush’s drawing the first Lansing blood shed by Southern hands.

“Early Lansing was not without sentiment; Cupid was busy here as elsewhere, and the wedding of James Haney opened the ball matrimonial, being the front end wedding, and the front end concert consisted of the hideous music ‘red headed Shaw,’ made by drawing a rosined 2x4 across the edges of an open goods box, beneath the window of the nuptial chamber. The birth of a son to Mr. And Mrs. F. D. Cowles scored the first item on our native census list, a business since by no means neglected among us. The grain trade, since grown to such huge dimensions, had that winter its front end. A load of wheat was brought to town, purchased by Mr. Cowles at 40 cents per bushel, stored in a hogshead and some boxes in the unfinished building of E. Hale, and for want of a market sold for chicken feed. ‘Great oaks from little acorns grow.’”

LANSING IN 1852-53 (page 420-422)

From old files of the Lansing Intelligencer, established by Wm. H. Sumner in the fall of 1852, the following items were gleaned and republished in the Mirror thirty-six years ago, and are now the only existing published record of the business and social conditions existing in those days, and hence of historical interest.

In the advertising columns we notice: “The names of I. B. Place, one door south of Lansing House, who had ‘just returned from St. Louis with a large stock of goods;’ E. P. Bircher dealt in groceries and provisions, ‘at the sign of the Elk Horn;’ T. E. Williams, ‘corner Levee and Williams streets,’ kept a plough and stove depot; James Peacock, ‘on the Levee, corner of Fourth block,’ dealt in goods, ‘wholesale and retail, at Dubuque prices;’ the Lansing House was owned by J. & J. Grant; Chas J. McGee was the furniture dealer; Geo. W. Camp and Remine & Shaw practiced law, and the latter firm ‘kept land warrants for sale;’ Dr. J. I. Taylor ‘returned sincere thanks for liberal patronage and hoped by close attention to still merit a liberal share;’ O. E. Hale had ‘just opened a large and well selected stock of goods,’ the partnership between Mr. Hale and D.H. Patterson having been dissolved.

“D. D. Brown quaintly announces his return from the East, ‘after selecting his nice stock of goods, which has just arrived by telegraph, disdaining the common way of your slow-plodding, time-serving, conscience-wearing ice boats and land schooners.’ His calicos were ‘warranted to suit the gravest matron and the most exquisite belle’ and to be without his teas and coffees ‘would be a sin unpardonable.’

“The steamboats were represented by F. D. Cowles, ‘agent for the Galena & Minnesota U. S. Mail Line,’ consisting of the steamers Nominee, Ben Campbell and Dr. Franklin.

“A Christmas ball was held at ‘Messrs. Haney’s building,’ and the managers were somewhat numerous, viz.:-For Lansing, W. E. Gardner, W. H. Sumner, J. W. Page, J. W. Remine; for Decorah, A. Newell, J. B. Onstine, C. Moore, Claiborne Day; for Waukon, A. J. Hersey, A. I. Burnham; for Columbus, Uriah Whaley, W. C. Thompson. The floor managers were J. I. Gilbert, J. P. Hughes, Jno. Haney, J. S. Mobley, Scott Shattuck, D. D. Chase, and we may suppose that an entertainment of such cosmopolitan character must have been a great success.”

There was a rivalry between Columbus, Lansing, and the now city of McGregor then called McGregor’s Landing. Early in 1853 umbrage was taken at the action of Mr. Garber, who introduced in the Legislature a bill to memorialize Congress for a grant of land for the construction of a railroad from Lansing to the Missouri river, it being claimed that Lansing never asked such action, and that the bill was introduced to unfavorably contrast that place with McGregor’s Landing, which place desired the railroad.

Original dates, fixing certain facts not generally known to our people, are found in an article appearing on the 4th of January, 1853, when Mr. Sumner writes that “but four and one-half years have elapsed since the Winnebago Indians left this region, and the whites began to claim and settle.” (The date appears to be June, 1848.) He continues, “The site of the present town of Lansing was claimed and settled four years ago last June (June, 1848) and a post office established the following year” (1849).

The result of the presidential election was, in the county: Whole number of votes cast, 266; for Scott electors, 142; Pierce electors, 124; deduct from Scott electors “for irregular votes” 41, and from Pierce, 93. Lansing gave Scott 33, Pierce 9; Columbus gave Scott 23, Pierce 9.

The county seat was a bone of contention. December 4, 1852, a meeting was held at Ezra Reid’s in Ludlow township, at which Edward Eells was chairman, John W. Remine and C. J. White secretaries, to “take into consideration the propriety of locating a county seat at the geographical center of the county.”

By act of the Legislature, approved January 24th following, commissioners were appointed to relocate the county seat. “Resulting in its being located at Waukon that spring, as narrated in another chapter.)
A literary society was organized at the house of James Peacock, and the officers were: President, John J. Shaw; vice, C. J. McGee; secretary, J. I. Taylor; treasurer, Geo. W. Camp. One of the first questions discussed was,

“Resolved, That the removal of the county seat from Columbus to the center of the county will be injurious to the town of Lansing, and confer no real benefit on the county at large.”

Rev. Samuel Storra Howe was announced to preach the first Thanksgiving sermon, “in the schoolroom over the printing office,” and Rev. Mr. Bishop was “expected to preach soon.”

As a matter of local importance, it was stated that the postmaster at Columbus, Mr. Lowe, “received a mail on the 25th ult., and the 3d inst.” showing the limited facilities in that respect. The editor hears of a project for a semi-weekly stage to Decorah, and in a subsequent issue insisted on an “increase of mail service between Lansing and Fort Atkinson, to two trips per week in two-horse carriages!”

The official post routes, in those days were: From Lansing to Fort Atkinson, 45 miles; Lansing to Lycurgus, 10 miles; St. Paul to Lansing, 250 miles, all once a week.

The postmaster was James Haney, and the assistant, S. D. Cowles. Richard Luckins was the justice.

Mr. Watson had “just returned from Prairie du Chien, with one hundred barrels of flour in his flat boat.”

Columbus was then a place of importance, and “O. W. Streeter, agent,” offered a quantity of goods.

The lumber interests were represented by Mobley & Gilbert, wholesale and retail dealers in merchandise and lumber. In March, 1853, they sold out to George W. Gray. F. D. Cowles offered the public “a few thousand dollars’ worth of goods.” J. W. Page advised those whose “harness was breaking” that he was the party to repair it. And S. H. Haines was running the sawmill.

Market quotations were: Wheat, 40c @ 55c; oats, 25c; vension, 3c @4c; quail, 3c; prairie chickens, 10c; butter, 10c; sugar, 5c @ 9c; coffee, 10c @ 11c.

Announcement was made February 22d, for the establishment of postoffices at Volney and Rossville.
As late as May, 1853, the editor complained of “nearly breaking his neck over the stumps and projecting roots” in Main street, and the same issue actually claimed for the frontier town, in a really able article, full of facts and figures, the trade of Winneshiek, Fayette, Howard, Chickasaw, Mitchell, Floyd, Worth, Cerno Gordo, Winnebago and Hancock counties!

The population of Lansing township, by the census taken in May, 1854, was: Males, 241; females, 199; total, 440. Of these there were 88 voters, 85 militia. The place was then designated as “a flourishing business town,” and some contrast was editorially made with the census of 1850, “when there was no Lansing beyond a log cabin,” and, indeed it remained so until the summer of ‘51, and only then were the “substantial improvements made which not show the stranger what Lansing is.”

CITY GOVERNMENT (page 422-423)

Lansing was incorporated as a town in 1864, and organized under the general state laws as a city of the second-class by order of court July 1, 1867.

The first municipal election was held in Hays’ Hall, September 17, 1867, resulting in the election of the following officials:
Mayor, S. V. Shaw; solicitor, John S. Monk; treasurer, G. Kerndt; marshal, Thomas Spurrier; trustees, G. Kerndt, S. H. Kinne, George Hewit, C. C. Bates, James Coard, S. B. Johnstone, Jacob Haas, and A. H. Woodruff.

From that time to the present the following named have held the office of mayor: S. V. Shaw, 1867-9; Samuel H. Kinne, 1869-72; Henry Nielander, 1872-3; Wm. H. Burford, 1873-4; Theodore Nachtwey, 1874-6; Samuel W. Hemenway, 1876 to time of his death, May 6, ‘77, when Phillip Bockfinger became mayor pro tem until May 9th, E. A. Blum appointed pro tem by the council until special election July 2d, he was elected mayor until March, 1878: John M. Hancock, 1878-80 (Mr. Hancock resigned March 24th, and S. H. Kinne appointed pro tem, until April 26th); Robert Hufschmidt, 1880-83; Theo. Nachtwey, 1883-89; W. H. Burford, 1889-92 (Burford was suspended March 28, 1892, and removed from office May 23d following); G. H. Markley elected to fill vacancy, and reelected, 1892-99. Robert Hufschmidt, 1899-03; A. M. Fellows, 1903-07; J. J. Dunlevy, 1907-09; Anton J. McCafferty, 1909 (Mayor McCafferty died September 2, 1909, and J. J. Dunlevy elected to fill the vacancy September 4, ‘09); J. J. Dunlevy, 1909-13; J. P. Conway, 1913, present incumbent.

Clerk: W. H. Burford, 1867-9; J. G. Orr, 1869-71; C. Otto Rose, 1871-76; G. A. Rockwell, 1876-80; Jas. T. Metcalf, 1880-81; John J. Dunlevy, 1882-85; and N. A. Nelson, 1885 to this time, 1913-

The official roster at this writing, April 1, 1913, is as follows: Mayor, J. P. Conway; clerk, N. A. Nelson (and clerk waterworks); treasurer, C. M. Kerndt; solicitor, J. W. Dempsey; assessor, H. C. Short; marshal, W. H. Guider (and street commissioner); night police, ___________; weighmaster, P. Gilroy; superintendent of waterworks, C. F. Riek; health physician, C. C. Lytle (and health officer); councilmen, at large, Ole L. Moe and J. C. Brophy; first ward, Martin Kohlstad; second ward, Frank Dolphin; third ward, Henry J. Rettinger.

The city is lighted by electricity from the plant of the Upper Iowa Power Company, which also does the pumping for the city water system and supplies power for other purposes.

The telephone service is furnished by the Standard Telephone Company, through a well equipped exchange with one hundred and thirty-four ‘phones.

THE WATER SUPPLY (page 423-425)

The question of a water supply had long been one of the vital interest to the citizens of Lansing, and the need was more deeply impressed upon them by the disastrous fires of 1877. The only was of obtaining water at fires had formerly been by a bucket line to the river.

In the spring of 1877 steps were taken to meet the demand. A stock company was organized and duly incorporated as the Lansing Artesian Well Company of Lansing. The Swan brothers, of Boscobel, Wisconsin, were employed to do the drilling, and operations were begun early in the spring by drilling a well on Main street, at the intersection of North Third.

Subsequently attempts were made to sink wells at the west end of main street, and on Front street at the foot of Main. The well was abandoned, and soon afterward closed up by means of wooden plugs. The Front street well developed a fine flow of water, but was also abandoned for years because the company were unable to prevent underground leakage. This well has since been connected with the Third street well which was in all respects a perfect success. Its depth is 778 feet. At the time of its completion it was estimated to discharge 372 gallons per minute. The water is at all seasons of uniform temperature, agreeable to the taste, and considered to possess superior medicinal properties. It is supplied to citizens, and the city for fire purposes, and affords a most abundant supply of pure and cool water for all purposes, having sufficient head to force itself into the second story of buildings in the principal portion of town. During the summer drinking fountains are maintained by the city on Main street where this excellent water can be obtained by all, as “free as the air we breathe.”

Beyond question the artesian well has proved itself to be one of the most important enterprises ever attempted by the citizens of Lansing. Its usefulness cannot be overestimated. These gratifying results were largely due to the individual efforts of Capt. Samuel W. Hemenway, who first suggested the drilling of an artesian well; who demonstrated by means of his superior skill and knowledge of such subjects, the certainty of success, and who, when success had been attained, and the people were rejoicing in the splendid result, lost his life while superintending the completion of the magnificent public work his ability, energy, and perseverance had produced. So intimately is his memory interwoven with the history of this public work, that it seems impossible to leave the subject without a brief review of his life and the painful circumstances attending his tragic death.

On the afternoon of Thursday, May 3, 1877, the Third street well being then an assured success, Captain Hemenway entered a deep cut on Main street to personally superintend the joining of sections of the main water pipe to be employed in supplying water from the new well. While thus engaged the embankment on the north side gave way, and the unfortunate man was literally buried alive. Assistance was instantly at hand, but some little time was required to remove the large quantity of earth and rocks that had fallen upon him. When rescued from his perilous position it was found that one limb was broken in several places, and that he had probably sustained severe internal injuries. The gravest apprehension proved too true, and, notwithstanding the best medical skill and kindest attention of friends and neighbors were bestowed upon him, with a community’s united prayers for his recovery, he died on the following Sunday, May 6, 1877.

His funeral, which occurred on Tuesday, May 8th, was attended by the municipal authorities, all the civic societies in the city, delegates from neighboring Masonic organizations, and the largest concourse of people ever assembled in Lansing to perform the last sad rites for one of its citizens.

Mr. Hemenway was born on the 19th of February, 1839, at Potsdam, St. Lawrence county, New York. His earlier years were spent in that vicinity. In 1855 he became a resident of Lansing, and was foreman in the agricultural implement factory of his brother, H. H. Hemenway, until the year 1862, when he entered the service of his country, as a member of Company B, Twenty-seventh Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He was commissioned captain by Governor Kirkwood, October 3, 1862. For faithful service he was promoted to the office of major, and was mustered out at Clinton, August 8, 1865, having served three years without the loss of a single day by leave of absence. Mr. Hemenway was a republican in politics. As chairman of the republican county central committee in the campaign of 1876, he achieved a remarkable victory and had he lived would have received deserved recognition at the hands of his political associates. At the time of his death he was mayor of the city, superintendent of the well company, a leading member of the Masonic organizations of the City, and in all respects the most active, enterprising and useful citizen of Lansing.

The present system of waterworks in connection with these wells was constructed in 1903, and with the extensions to this date, 1913, cost about $25,000. The supply is obtained from two artesian wells about eight hundred feet deep, and pumped to a reservoir on the bluff 240 feet above the level of the railroad track. There are two and a half miles of water mains, of eight, six, four and two inch capacity. There are about one hundred and fifty takers, 105 of which are supplied from the reservoir (all metered), and the balance from the artesian wells direct. Pumping is now done by electric power; but there is also one steam pump of 500 gallons capacity in reserve, in case of fires, or other emergency.

There are water bonds outstanding as follows:

Four and one-half per cent bonds due July 1, 1923 .............. $7,500.00
Six per cent bonds due at option of city ................................. $4,900.00
Total bonded indebtedness (March 31, 1913) ...................... $12,400.00

FIRE DEPARTMENT (page 425-426)

A meeting was held at the office of Mayor Burford February 25, 1871, for the purpose of organizing a fire company. Mayor Burford presided, and S. P. Darling acted as secretary. Proper committees were appointed and the meeting adjourned to March 2d. This meeting and several others immediately following resulted in the organization, April 1, 1871, of “Hope Fire Company No. 1,” with the following officers: R. V. Shurley, foreman; P. H. Pierson, first assistant; S. W. Hemenway, second assistant; W. H. Burford, secretary; Herman Schierholz, treasurer; W. J. Bort, first pipeman; and Phil Dignan, second pipeman.

December 3, 1873, the company was reorganized under the present name of “Rescue Fire Company No. 1,” and the following officers elected: Foreman, Capt. E. B. Bascom; first assistant, Jacob Schaach; second assistant, John Corell; secretary, T. C. Medary; treasurer, J. B. Thorp; steward, J. G. Orr.

In July, 1874, John Corell was elected foreman, retaining the position one year, when Jacob Schaach was chosen, and so continued until July, 1881, when John Dunlevy succeeded him.

In 1872 the city purchased a Rumsey & Co.’s hand fire engine, and to this was added hose carts and hook and ladder wagon. With this inadequate outfit the company fought fires until 1885 after the Concert Hall fire, when ta large hand pump was added. In 1895 the hand pump or “man killer” was disposed of, and a steam fire engine purchased. Other necessary apparatus has been furnished by the city from time to time, and today we have a well-equipped fire department.

In 1891 the company purchased a fire bell which was placed in the City Hall tower. After the City Hall was burned down the bell was sold for old metal. The most important fires were as follows:

Bockfinger & Boeckemeier wagon shop, and most of the block, February 3, 1871.
Farmer’s home, February 27, 1877.
Germania House barn, Congregational church and most of the block, March 6, 1877.
Hemenway & Barclay sawmill, September 3, 1881.
Concert Hall and block, May 23, 1885.
Sawmill dry kiln, March 30, 1891.
Gaunitz & Schwab’s boat store February 10, 1895.
City Hall, November 10, 1900.
Box factory in August, 1910.

Rescue Fire Company No. 1 is a volunteer company with a present membership of twenty-two, limited by ordinance to thirty members. The officers now are: President, Richard A. Dunlevy; secretary and treasurer, A. C. Widmeier; foreman, Carl Kohlstad; first assistant, Roy Roeder; second assistant, John Woodward; nozzlemen, B. Sweeney, S. Glynn, Leo Tully and Karl Beck.

The equipment consists of one wagon for hose, hooks and ladders, three hose carts, and 2,000feet of hose. There are twenty hydrants, supplied from the reservoir at from ninety-five pounds pressure in the lower places to seventy-five or seventy at the higher levels. The alarm is a fire bell, fitted with electric bell-striker connected with the telephone central.

The steam fire engine, purchased in 1895, is still in the possession of the city, but is not needed and awaits a purchaser.

LANSING SCHOOLS (page 426-430)

About the year 1850 Governor Slade of Massachusetts sent teachers through-out the new West, who came full of zeal for their work. One of these, Miss Barrows, came to Lansing and opened the first school. Some time later she married Doctor Houghton and for many years taught a select school here. There are a number still living here who remember the gentle ways of their first teacher. Mrs. Delia D. Purdy was the next teacher. The first public school was commenced on the 7th day of February, 1853, under the charge of the lamented Mrs. Purdy, the board of directors being Geo. W. Camp. O. E. Hale and E. B. Baldwin, Martha Haney, Delia Hale, Lydia Rockwell, Lizzie Wells, Thomas Healy and E. Hover.

In 1861 there were two select schools: Professor Haven’s high school in the Congregational church, and Miss Williams’ select school. In the district school taught by H. O. Dayton eighty scholars were enrolled, and in the Mirror of December, 1861, a call is made upon the people to consider the pressing need of a new schoolhouse. No move was taken for two years, however, when upon petition of prominent citizens an election was called to consider the organization of an independent school district to include the town of Lansing. The election was held on March 23, 1863, and twenty-six votes cast, all in favor of such separate organization; and on April 4th following, an election of officers, resulting as follows: President, A. H. Houghton; vice president, Wm. Kelleher; secretary, L. M. Elmendorf; treasurer, G. Krendt; directors, S. B. Johnston, E. Ruth, Chas. Schierholz.

Whole number of votes cast, seventy-four.

About May 1st Mrs. Hazleton and Miss Stillman were employed to teach the summer term, at a salary of $20 per month.

May 4, 1863, the board voted to purchase the lot next east of the old schoolhouse lot for the sum of $225, and proceed to build a stone schoolhouse thereon, the main building 40x56 feet, with projection 14x30 feet for entrance; and on June 5th the contract was let to Gottlieb Englehorn and Valentine Beissell.

May 9, 1864, Director Schierholz was instructed to purchase a bell. And on July 2, 1864, the new schoolhouse was accepted from the contractors. The old school building was moved onto Main street.

August 24, 1864, David Judson, of South Bend, Indiana, with Mrs. Helen Judson as assistant, were employed to teach the school for the ensuring year.

In 1867 a contract was let to E. B. Bascom for an additional to the schoolhouse to accommodate 100 pupils.
In 1868, the first ward school changed to a primary department of the Lansing graded school.

In 1874, primary school in Simonson’s Hall.

In 1876, another branch school was opened on North Second street, known as the second ward school. In 1880 it was removed to the Congregational church building– Temple Hall.

In 1892, the pupils of this school were transferred to the main building and the school discontinued. The South Lansing school was also discontinued.

In 1880, Plein school opened and continued until 1892 when it was transferred to another district.

In 1892 a contract was let to Grant Ladd for an addition to the main school building.

The following have been superintendent of Lansing schools: D. Judson, H. M. Pratt, J. H. Hazleton,S. S.Henderson, H. H. Haske, Jno. Hinchon, E. K. Maryatt, W. A. Gibbons, J. R. McKim, W. D. Guttery, F. M. Shippey, J. B. Knoepfler, S. M. Mowatt, J. F. Smith, H. H. Schroeder, Geo. W. Galloway, to 1902. Professor Knoepfler was afterwards elected state superintendent of public instruction; and has now for many years been on the faculty of the State Teachers’ College at Cedar Falls.

Since 1902 the high school has been under the charge of the following:
Superintendent–Geo. Galloway, 1903; W. H. Ray, 1904-07, resigned and John S. Hilliard elected to vacancy; John S. Hilliard 1907=10; W. A. G. Ellis, 1911-13, Frank Vorhise elected for 1913-14.

Principal–Mabel E. Gilchrist, 1903-4; Minnie L. Wilson, 1905-8; Vera Marston, 1909; Abbie F. Laughlin, 1910-11, resigned and Carrie J. Perkins to fill vacancy; J. Alice Wilson, 1912.

Assistant Principal–(High school extended to four years.)–Georgia Whitley, 1905; Susan Kilpatrick, 1906; Clara Tolstrap, 1907-8; Gena Minkler, 1909; Agnes Carney, 1910-11; Helene Bakewell, 1912.

Since 1902 the offers of the board of directors have been: President, W. H. Riser, 1902-4; Julius Boeckh, 1905; W. T. Piers, 1906-7; Wm. F. Saam, 1908-0; H. H. Gilbertson, 1910-11; W. E. Albert, 1912-12; secretary, N. A. Nelson, 1902-13; treasurer, J. W. Thomas, 1902; Mr. Thomas died, and B. F. Thomas elected to vacancy, 1903-13; directors at present are, W. E. Albert, Julius Boeckh, H. H. Gilbertson, E. J. Roggensack and Wm. F. Saam.

The school enumeration as a June 1, 1913, was 494. The enrollment in the city school was 259, and in the Catholic school, 164, a total of 423. The public school library contains about seven hundred volumes in good condition, and 300 to 400 in poor condition.

The estimated value of the public school property is $20,000.

No one, perhaps, ever connected with the Lansing public schools, exercised a greater or more beneficial influence upon the community than Miss Mary Monk, who taught here for more than forty years. Upon her death, which occurred April 23, 1913, in her sixty-sixth years, the local press voiced the universal respect and almost veneration in which she was held; and from their notices it is learned that she came to Allamakee county in 1865, and after teaching a few terms in the country schools she was elected a teacher in the Lansing public schools in 1866 and taught in that school, with the exception of one year, until 1908, during all of this time having charge of the grammar department. There are few families in Lansing today who have resided here during any considerable part of that period who have not had some representative in her classes, and all of these feel a sense of personal loss today. In a number of cases two generations of the same family have been her pupils, and for many years it was thought, and rightly so, that anyone who completed the course in the public school without having had a year or two of her instruction had missed an important part of his common school education.

How great an influence her painstaking, conscientious and scholarly work during that formative period of a young student’s life has had, can never be fully estimated. We do know that many a man and woman who has achieved success in the world does give Miss Monk the highest possible credit and does say that much of whatever success he has won is due to the high ideals of right living and right thinking which, of far more importance than the mere lessons from the books she taught so well, it was ever her aim and purpose to instill. How well she succeeded in this is amply demonstrated by the high, almost reverential, regard in which she has ever been held by all who had at any time been her scholars; and by all of them, as well as by the entire community, her death is mourned as a distinct personal loss.



-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; Ellery M. Hancock, 1913, pg. 415 - 430
-note: pages 417 & 427 have photos and pages 418 & 428 are blank
-transcribed by Diana Diedrich

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