A Pictorial History

by Margaret Corwin & Helen Hoy


Nelson Fancher, an ex-California gold miner, opened Waterloo's first general store in 1853 when he took his "fine span of bay horses, Dick and Ned" to Dubuque and loaded up on dry goods, ready-made clothing and farm implements which sold like "hot cakes." He married Elizabeth Virden. photo: from Harman History.


John H. Leavitt was president for 50 years of what later came to be called the Leavitt & Johnson Bank and in that interim was one of the pillars of the community. With four other citizens, he founded the First Congregational Church and for fifty years served as trustee chairman and was one of its most faithful members. In 1870-1871 he was elected to serve in the State Senate. He was chairman of the committee which brought the Illinois Central machine shops in 1869 from Dubuque to Waterloo as well as chairing the committee which secured the Chicago Great Western Railway for the city.
Photo from Hartman History

Lorraine Washburn, son of pioneer, Levi Washburn, and a private in the Third Iowa Infantry, was the first Waterloo soldier killed at Blue Mills Landing, MO. When the train brought Peter Dorlan, the first wounded man home on a cot, businesses were closed and the plow left, to welcome the hero home.

Five thousand Cedar Valley residents turned out to wave and kiss good bye 100 county volunteers getting on a Dubuque and Sioux City train commandeered by a Union general. The night Waterloo learned Lee had surrendered, April 11, 1864, Commercial Street became a mass of humanity with the Central House lit from top to bottom, cannons firing, rockets flying, a torchlight parade eight abreast led by Judge Couch and J. H. Leavitt singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".
Photo from Hartman History

Henry Nauman, Waterloo's first manufacturer, came to the town in 1856, and hauled all the material used in building his home from Dubuque.

Photo from Hartman History

Rensselaer Russell, lent his money and name to the Russell-Lamson Hotel. In 1857 he started up his own banking business with M H Moore which opened the First National Bank in 1865. He sold out of the banking business and then went into real estate full time. His first daughter, Genevieve, died at age six and his second daughter, Lillian waited for marriage until after the death of her father. She then married Clyde Lamson, builder of the Russell-Lamson Hotel in 1914. Photo from Hartman History


Matt Parrott, born in New York, was a Waterloo publisher and one of the city's most honored state officials, serving as lieutenant-governor of Iowa in 1985. In 1869 he and J J Smart bought the democratic Iowa State Reporter from H Q Nickelsen. Mr. Parrott served on the City Council from 1877 -1881, was Mayor in 1877, re-elected for two more terms, and candidate for governor in 1897. He died in April, 1900.
Photo courtesy of Matt Parrott and Sons Printing Company


To find out about acquiring a copy of the book, "Waterloo, A Pictorial History." contact:

  • Waterloo Public Library
  • Publisher:
    Quest Publishing
    Rock Island, IL 61201
  • Printer: Bawden Printing, Inc.
    Eldridge, IA 1983

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