Articles from 100th Anniversary Edition Independence Conservative; Centennial year 1855-1955

Thank You, Delores Martin, without your efforts much of the History information from the Centennial Newspapers would not be available



With permission of the Bulletin Journal Conservative from the 1955 Centennial issue of the Conservative.

Buchanan County had a number of "Firsts." Many of them originated in Quasqueton. According to Harry Church and Katharyn Joella Chappell, historians, Buchanan County had a number of significant "firsts."

The first store in Buchanan County was opened during the year 1842 in Quasqueton by William Richards who was called "Bill Dick." The store of Mr. Richards at Quasqueton was a general store. It was the county's first liquor store. One of its best sellers was old bourbon whiskey.

The first sermon delivered in Buchanan County was one preached by a Rev. Clark at the village of Quasqueton in the summer of 1842.

The first mill was one built on the Wapsipinicon River at Quasqueton. It was owned by William Bennett and was started in 1842. Later it was operated by W. W. Hadden who took over the operation on completion of the mill in 1843.

The first hotel in Buchanan County was operated by David Styles in 1842.

The first post office was established in this county at Quasqueton in 1845 and William Richards was appointed the first postmaster.

The first school was in a small log cabin located in Independence which was taught by Dr. Edward Brewer in the winter of 1848. The small cabin later became a blacksmith shop. Needless to say, in those early days the classes of Dr. Brewer were small.

James Jamison opened the first law office in Buchanan County in 1847 or 1848 - history books are not clear on when it was established. D. S. Lee also started practicing law in this county about the same time as Mr. Jamison.

The first marriage ceremony in Buchanan County was that of Dr. Brewer and Miss Mary Ann Hathaway, which occurred in March of 1846. The ceremony was performed by a Delaware County justice of the peace.

The first white child born in Buchanan County was Charles B. Kessler, who was the son of Mr. And Mrs. Frederick Kessler. He was born near Quasqueton on July 13, 1842.

The first known death to occur in what is now Buchanan County was in the year 1843 or 1844 when a seven year old son of Mr. And Mrs. John Cordell died. Some historians claim there were two previous deaths - one was supposedly shot to death near Quasqueton and another was supposedly frozen to death in December of 1842.

The first bank in Buchanan County was established in Independence at the old Brewer block on Main Street by Bemis, Brewer and Rozzell in 1865. This bank was used only for deposit and exchange of currency.

The first Buchanan County newspaper was "The Independence Civilian," a Democratic newspaper that came off the press for the first time on May 17, 1855.



With permission of the Bulletin Journal Conservative from the 1955 Centennial issue of the Conservative

Crossing the Bridges

The general slope of the land within the borders of Buchanan County is similar to the slope in Iowa---from northwest to southeast. Buchanan County land, although fertile, has some sand and because of the many small creeks and streams has a constant soil erosion problem. The county now has approximately 550 bridges to connect its network of roads.



With permission of the Bulletin Journal Conservative from the 1955 Centennial issue of the Conservative

Dec. 9, 1859

Dubuque and Pacific Railroad

We never were permitted to record more glorious and gratifying news than in being able to say to our readers today that the track is now laid within two miles of town and before the week is out it will be completed to the depot grounds if the weather continues any way fair. It is good news, also, to those who have been waiting some time for pay to learn that the delay was caused by some defect in the title to the railroad land, which is now removed and the pay will soon be forthcoming.

July 23, 1857

New Stage Line From Independence to Osage Three Times a Week!

Leave Independence every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Arrive at Osage every Wednesday, Friday and Monday noon, and touching Janesville, Waverly, Bradford, St. Charles and Floyd Center. Every facility will be offered by the undersigned to the traveling public, who may be sure of being carried with ease, convenience and speed.

S. Ayers, Proprietor.

April 5, 1864

The Bell

We are at last bound to have a town bell. We learned that it was shipped from the foundry at Troy, New York on the 24th of last month, and consequently it may be expected here in a very few days. The weight of the bell is 1,025 pounds and cost at the foundry $558.50. Taking freight and other expenses it will cost approximately $600, the remainder of which will have to be made up in some manner.

But we doubt not the committee will provide a method by which the required amount can be easily raised. The manufacturers pronounce the bell to be a very superior one, being equal in tone and finish to anything ever turned out at their foundry. We hope very soon to hear the music.

April 13, 1898

The Independence Steamboat Co.'s boat now christened "Iowa", again rests on the bosom of the Wapsie. The repairs and refitting were completed and she was launched last week.

Jan 15, 1875


The company commenced to manufacture gas on Tuesday and the same evening a number of our business houses were for the first time lighted. Owing to the presence of air and faults in the pipes, the gas is not satisfactory as it probably will be when these impediments are removed. The company will make no charge until the 16th.

April 5, 1872


The Fayette stage while making its way north on Friday last with a load of 11 passengers, mails, baggage, etc. and drawn by four horses was overturned in attempting in attempting to cross a slough on a submerged turnpike, in Scott township, Fayette county. Nobody was hurt, but the water in the slough was plenty and very wet. Seven passengers, including a newly arrived family of emigrants, with women and children, during the remaining 11 miles, of the way into Fayette were calculated to take the romance out of travel, in that particular style and conveyance.

June 9, 1876

Stagecoach Upturned

Last Tuesday evening the stage running between Buffalo Grove and Independence, just after starting from town met with quite a severe accident, by which all the passengers were more or less injured. While running at a moderate rate, the nut on the king bolt came off causing the coach to turn over. There were six passengers inside and none of them escaped without injury.

July 18, 1900

The first automobile seen in this city came wheeling into the city from the east Friday, attracting considerable attention. It was of the steam motor kind and belonged to a Maquoketa cigar manufacturer.

Dec. 15, 1859

First load of freight

Mr. G. R. West, of the firm of West and Hopkins, who had resided among us for a few weeks past, has the honor, credit, and satisfaction of having loaded and dispatched the first freight car that left our village on the D. and P. R. R. It consisted of four tons of pork and 300 bushels of wheat.


With permission of Bulletin Journal Conservative from the 1955 Centennial issue of the Conservative


With permission of the Bulletin Journal Conservative from the 1955 Centennial issue of the Conservative.

From 100th Anniversary Edition Independence Conservative Centennial year 1855 - 1955

Willey's Have Owned The Book Store Twice

In 1894 Henry Oliver opened a book store in Independence. In 1920 the store was sold to a Mr. Schuette who operated the business until 1940, when it was sold to Mrs. Hazel Willey.

In 1945 Mrs. Willey sold the store to Mr. And Mrs. Robert Hawe. Then in 1950 Mrs. Willey and her son, Roger, again became owners of the book store.

Merchandise available at the store includes books, stationery, greeting cards, and school and office supplies.

Mrs. L. C. McGill of LaPorte City, a daughter of Henry Oliver, is the present owner of the building.

Mrs. Clyde Hayward has worked at the store for 12 years and Mrs. Dave Durr is a part-time employee.

Holzer Has Been in Business Since 1909

A. C. Holzer has one of the longest records of continuous business service in Independence. He has been in business here since 1909.

The men's clothing store was established in 1886 by Sherwood and Stocking. Mr. Sherwood died in 1899. From then until 1909 L.D. Stocking was the owner.

In 1909 he and Mr. Holzer formed a partnership which continued until Mr. Stocking's death on Oct. 5, 1923. Mr. Holzer has been sole owner since that time. He also owns the building at 203 First street east where the business is located.

The store was formerly conducted at the corner of Main and Chatham streets.

Donald H. Borchers has been employed at the store for 30 years and John W. Pappas has worked there for 16 years.

Cy and Charley's Sell Auto Supplies

Cy and Charley's Firestone, located at 915 Fifth avenue northeast in Independence, has been in business at the same location for 33 years. For the first 30 years the firm was known as Chanen Auto Supply. On Jan. 1, 1952 Louis Chanen sold the business to Forrest I. "Cy" Hearn and Charles E. "Charley" Gerken.

The firm is a distributor for Firestone Rubber Co. in auto supplies and also conducts a scrap yard.

Two employees of the firm have been there for 25 years and a third man has worked there for 14 years. Employees and the length of their service are: Herman Cousins and Fremont McGee, both 25 years; O. M. Rowland, 14 years; Lloyd Blumenshine, three years; Sylvester Dravis and Otto Dravis, both two years; Donald A. Hearn and Sammie Ray Leach, each one year.

Graham's Has Served Residents 53 Years

The company now known as Graham's Department store in Independence has been in business here for the past 53 years. For the first eight years it was called Lattimer and Graham, and has been under it's present name for 45 years.

The store, which sells general merchandise, was first located in the A. and P. building and then moved to its present location in the Odd Fellows building. The store was extensively remodeled in 1952.

A. B. and Eva Casson, the manager and his wife, have been with the company for nine years. Other employees of the store are: Pearl Smith, 11 years; Mary funk, six years; Elsie Guernsey, five years; Sarah Jones, three years; Reginald Thornton, two years; and Beverly Merfeld, one year.

Frank Spears Owns Service Station Here

The Speers Service station located at 801 First street west in Independence has been owned by Frank Speers since 1933 and has been a dispenser of Texaco Petroleum products since 1934.

The station was formerly known as Millard Service station and Armstrong's Service station. Former owners include Dick Cone, John Rowland, William Armstrong, and Burrell Millard. The Shirk Oil Co. owns the building.

The old station was torn down and a new one erected in 1952.

Jerry Schuman has been employed at the station for two and a half years.

A Bit of Hardware Was Gamble Start

The Gamble store in Independence had its beginning in 1933 at the present location of the Home café. It was moved in March, 1934, to the Charles Briggs building, next door east of the present location where it has been since March, 1944.

Chester O. Hanson was the first owner and still owns the building where the store is located. He sold the business in 1948 to Dean L. Mace. Maury Cook has been owner since Sept. 1, 1954.

The firm originally started with a few automobile tires, batteries and "a bit of hardware." The stocks and lines were gradually increased to include paint and wallpaper, household items, appliances, floor covering, sporting goods and such building materials as roofing, siding and insulation.

Lyle W. Fletcher has been manager since Sept. 1, 1954, and Eileen Greco has been bookkeeper and clerk since Feb. 1, 1955.

West Side Elevator Does Custom Grinding

The West Side Elevator was formerly known as Farmers Coop. It has been in business in Independence for 27 years.

Present owner and manager is I.J. Weber. Assistant manager is Norbert Weber. I.J. Weber owns the building at Tenth avenue and Third street northwest.

The business sells coal, grain, feed and fertilizer and does custom grinding and mixing.

William Jones and Roy Hummel are part-time employees of the firm.

Holland's Have Been Realtors 33 Years

Holland Realtors, dealers in real estate and insurance, have been in business in Independence for 33 years. Owners are J.L. Holland and sons, Tam and Ron.

The building where the firm is located on East Main street is owned by the Kemmerer estate.

Mr. Holland's two sons, Tamlin and Ronald, have been with the firm since 1945.



With permission of the Bulletin Journal Conservative from the 1955 Centennial issue of the Conservative

From 100th Anniversary Edition Independence Conservative; Centennial year 1855-1955

It is interesting to note that in 1850 Buchanan county had more native-born residents of Virginia than native-born New Englanders. The make-up of the county'' population was ever-changing.

A break-down of the census of 1880 in Buchanan county showed that 2,176 of the settlers had come from New York state; 1,032 were natives of Ohio; 984 from Illinois; 853 from Pennsylvania; 767 from Wisconsin; and 375 from Indiana.

Prior to 1855 there were very few pioneers in Buchanan county who had migrated to the United States from foreign countries. But as the heavy European immigration to the U.S. got underway in the second half of the 19th century the county welcomed a number of foreign-born families. By 1875 more than one-eighth of the population of this county was foreign-born. Most of the newcomers were from Ireland and Germany.

In 1880 the total foreign population was 2,758. A breakdown shows that there were in that year 910 persons from Ireland; 805 from Germany; 338 from England; 91 from Scotland; 64 from Denmark; and 52 from Sweden and Norway.

By the year 1870 historians report that there were no known Indians living in Buchanan county. In 1870, however, there were nine Negroes who lived in Independence and the number of Negroes had increased to 29 by the year 1880.

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