IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

History of Clayton County, Iowa
Chapter XX

Boardman Township

Boardman Township
page 634-636

This township is so named in honor of Hon. Elisha Boardman, for many years an honored citizen, and one of its first settlers. It lies in the second tier of townships from the West, and comprises township 93, range 5 west. It is watered by the Turkey River and its tributaries. Turkey River enters the township on section 5, and in its tortuous course flows in a southeasterly direction, emerging on section 36. About one-third of the township is timber, the remainder being openings and prairie. Back from the river, upon the high prairies, the soil is a rich black loam, yielding abundantly of all the cereals pertaining to this climate.

     The first settlers of Boardman Township were Elisha Boardman and Horace D. Bronson, who settled upon the site of the presnet village of Elkader in 1836. They were the first immigrants that crossed the Mississippi at what is now the city of McGregor. Baldwin Olmsted was the next settler in 1837. In 1838 Freedom Howard was added to the number. At about the same time came John Downie and Jerry Gould. Other early settlers were Michael and John Stence, P. R. Moore, H. H. Singer, John Roberts and Joel Post.

     The first farm opened was that of Elisha Boardman. He had tried milling with the poorest posible success, as is seen in the history of Read Township, and he now tried to make something by farming. The first few years he would have succeeded very well at this new pursuit had it not been for the Indians, who, after he had only about six acres broken, stole three of his oxen. Procuring others at Prairie du Chien [Wisconsin] Mr. Boardman continued farming, but in 1844-'5 the river rose to such a height that all his crops were washed away, and the labor of two years lost. These misfortunes would discourage the most sanguine, but Mr. Boardman overcame them all by industry and shrewd management. He always kept "above board," and yet his house was always open to all who sought his hospitable roof. The Indians often came there. One day Little Hill, who was called a prophet by the Winnebagoes, came with two other chiefs to Mr. Baordman to purchase some corn of him; but being told that he had none to see, they asked permission to grind some of their own in his corn cracker which he had brought on to meet the requirements of a grist-mill. He cheerfully granted them the privilege, which he had done on many another occasion, but the Indians soon got into a quarrel among themselves and returned to their camp. An hour after, as Mr. Boardman was going to his barn, two shots were fired at him, neither hitting his person, but passing by him so close that they might have terrified him. They did not, however, and he continued his work as though nothing had occurred.

     The first school-house in the township was erected in Pony Hollow and was built of logs. The school was taught by Miss Melissa Howard. Here also were held the first religous meetings. An itinerant preacher, Rev. Sidney Wood, would come occasionally and exhort to the few scattered settlers.

     The first election held in Boardman Township was in 1838 at Boardman's house, and was in the "fourth precinct." This precinct extented as far west as the Cedar.

     In 1838 the anniversary of American independence was celebrated for the first time in Boardman Township, on the table-rock back of A. D. Cook's residence.

     The first couple married in Boardman Township were H. H. Singer and Martha Gould, in 1840. The next was Alex. Paul to Mary Gould.

     The earliest record in regard to school matters is in 1848, when A. D. Griswold was Inspector of Schools for the township. The following is an extract from his report of Sept. 28 of that year:

     "Number of persons in the town of Boardman under the age of twenty-one and over five, 114. Whole number of scholars in District No. 1, organized and reported, forty-five. School taught three months by a man at $15 per month. Average number of scholars taught, twenty-seven. District No. 2, organized and reported, thirty-nine. School taught three months by a woman at $1.25 per week. Average number of scholars taught, fourteen. Amount paid for schooling in the township, $60. Districts No. 3 and 4 have not reported and are not organized."

     One-year later, in 1849, District No. 3 reported through its secretary, S. W. Stewart, the number of persons between the ages five and twenty-one to be twenty-three.

     In October, 1849, Mr. Griswold reported to Hon. E. Price, then School Fund Commissioner of Clayton County, a statistical table, from which the following items are taken:

No. of persons between five and twenty-one 50
No. of pupils in each school 30
No. of teachers in each school 1
No. of days each school was taught 154
Average cost of tuition per pupil, per month $80
Aggregate amount paid teachers during the year
from school fund and voluntary subsription
Average compensation of male teacher per month $18.00
Average compensation of female teacher per month $6.00
Cost of district school-house $184.00

The following are the names, birthplaces and ages of the teachers then employed: E. V. Carter, thirty, Ohio; Emeline Ames, eighteen, Garnavillo, Iowa.

     Since then the rude wood school-house has given way to the magnificent structure on First street, Elkader, built at an expense nearly $15,000.

     The history of Boardman Township is, to a great extent, to be found in the history of Elkader, the county seat of Clayton.


page 636-644

The village of Elkader was aid out in 1845, by John Thompson, Chester Sage and Timothy Davis. It was surveyed by John M. Gay, County Surveyor, on a portion of sections 22 and 23, most of it being in the latter, township 93 north, range 5 west. East Elkader was surveyed in November, 1853, for Amos Warner. Amos and Esther Warner made an addition to East Elkader in 1859. South Elkader was platted in 1852. Proprietors were Eliza Bronson, Horace D. Bronson, J. P. Dickinson, Henry Hindle and Phoebe Hindle. Horace D. Bronson and Jane C. Lair made an addition to South Elkader in 1856. Fielding Snedigar made an addition to East Elkader in 1868. Robert L. Freeman and Julia Freeman made an addition to Elkader in 1872. In 1879 West Elkader was surveyed, H. B. Carter, proprietor.

John Thompson, the first of the original proprietors of Elkader, was born in Scott County, Ky., Jan. 20, 1804. His parents were Gilbert and Jane Thompson, the father of Scotch and the mother of Irish descent. They emigrated to this country at an early day, and located in Maryland. The families soon after emigated [sic] to Kentucky. By this union there was a family of nine children - five sons and four daughters. In 1821 Gilbert Thompson and family removed to Pike County, Mo., and bought a farm. In connection with farming he followed his trade of millwright. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson died in Pike County. As soon as John became of age he embarked in a mercantile enterprise, in company with Joel Campbell and Benjamin Burbridge. This he prosecuted but a short time when Mr. Burbridge and he sold their interest to Mr. Campbell, and embarked in the stock trade, which they followed for five years. In 1836 Mr. Thompson came to Dubuque, bringing with him a general stock of provisions, such as pork, sugar, teas, etc., and engaged in trade for some time. He afterward went into the dry-goods business with Dr. John W. Finley. In 1844 he came to Clayton County and entered lands, and in 1846 moved here, when he commenced the erection of the Elkader Mills, in comapny with Sage and Davis. The mill was completed in 1849. After a short time he built a mill in Clermont at a cost of $25,000, which proved a complete success. The Elkader Mill was burned in 1858, and in 1861 he returned and rebuilt it at a cost of $10,000. This he sold before its completion. In 1864 he built the Motor Mill at a cost of $50,000, of which he still owns a two-thirds interest. In 1837 he married Mary Hall. She died in 1847. Mr. Thompson has two daughters - Jane, now Mrs. Appleman, living at Clermont, and Nettie, living at home.

Mr. Thompson has been noted for his active interest in all public enterprises, and he has taken a prominent part in the building up of Elkader. By industry, energy and economy he has accumulated a competence, but he has been to a certain extent unfortunate of late years in one or two enterprises. He is universally esteemed as a neighbor and a citizen, and his business experience and sagacity are recognized by all. Now in the fullness of his years he quietly lives in his comfortable home in East Elkader, amid the scenes of his earlier activity.

Chester Sage was born in Massachusetts. He came West and located in Wisconsin, afterward moving to Dubuque, sometime previous to 1836. He there engaged in the milling business. In 1844 he came to Clayton County, and with Messrs. Thompson and Davis built the mill and laid out the village of Elkader. In 1856 he sold out his interest in the mill to his two partners for $12,500. On this basis the mill was then worth $37,500. He returned for a short time to Massachusetts, then came to Michigan and invested his money in pine lands. He sold out at a good profit. He built two lake schooners, but these proved a loss. He took them to the Gulf of Mexico, where they also proved an elephant on his hands. He finally sold them, taking as part pay land in Texas. This land he got very cheap, much of it at ten cents an acre. He went into the stock buiness and made a snug fortune. At the breaking out of the Rebellion he was living in Western Missouri. The Confederate Genral, Price, camped with him at one time, paying him in Confederate warrants. The Union forces treated him much worse. They accused him, without reason, of being a rebel, and took all his cattle, shot all his mules and burnt his house. Broken in spirit and wrecked in fortune, Mr. Sage returned East to his early home where he died. He never married. Mr. Sage was a man of integrity, enterprise and tact, well liked by all who knew him.

Timothy Davis, the third founder of Elkader, was a very enterprising man, and one as closely identified with the early interests of Clayton County as any man could be. He was concerned in the laying out of many towns and villages in Wisconsin, Iowa and, Missouri. A full sketch of Mr. Davis is given under the heading of "Illustrious Dead."

The name adopted by the proprietors was suggested by Mr. Davis. Abd el Kader was a bedouin emir of Algeria, who made a brave defense of his country when invaded by the French. In 1832, at the age of twenty-three, he had made himself so popular among the Arabs that he was elected their chief, and for sixteen eyars he fought desperately to drive out the French. He was taken captive in 1848, and released on parole in 1852. He died in 1879. In admiration of this brave man Elkader was suggested and adopted as the name of the village. The land east of the river, was bought by Elisha Boardman, while that west of the river was purchased directly from the government. The mill was begun in 1844, before Elkader was surveyed. The saw-mill was put in operation the following year, but the grist-mill was not completed until 1849. This is part the same mill which now stands. It had at first four run of stone, and now has six. The dam is ten feet high. The mill was at that time the finest in this section of the country. None in Dubuque could compare with it. It ground about 5,000 bushels of wheat the first year. As before stated, Mr. Sage sold out his interest, in 1856, to his partners. In 1863 Mr. Thompson sold out his interest to Mr. Beardsley, who subsequently sold out to Mr. L.V. Davis, who had succeeded his father, Timothy Davis. Mr. Davis was then sole owner for a time. He then sold to his brother, Wilson Davis, and J.V. Smith. The presnet owners are J. V. Smith and Wolfgang Smith.

The first dwelling was built by Mr. Sage. The first store was built by Thompson, Sage and Davis, nearly opposite the prenet postoffice. The goods were bought in St. Louis and shipped through McGregor, then called McGregor's Landing. Custom came to Elkader from as far as 150 miles away. The first blacksmith here was Mr. Park, who came in 1845. Thompson, Sage and Davis also built the first hotel, in 1850, which still stands as part of the prenet Boardman House. This name it has had from its first erection. The first brick building was built on the site of the present postoffice building, in 1851, and was used as a cooper-shop The first brick residence was built in 1851, where lawyer R. E. Price now lives. In 1851 the first bridge was built at Elkader, across the Turkey. Previously passengers crossed below the dam by a boat attached to a line stretched across the river.

Among the first buildings of importance in Elkader was the stone building between Mulberry and Main streets, extending from Front street to the river. It was built in 1853, by E. G. Rolf, at a cost of $6,500, and was used as a general store. The steamboat "Elkader" unloaded breight at this building in 1854. This was the first valuable building in Elkader. Mr. Rolf was unfortunate and the building passed into the hands of Benjamin Salter. The building was for about ten years used as a court-house.

In 1856, in order to support the claims of Elkader to the county seat, a printing office was equipped, and the Elkader Tribune was started. This paper lived about two years. There are now three papers published in Elkader, for an account of which see the chapter entitled "The Press."

In 1856 the county-seat contest began, which after many elections and many eyars of rivalry was ended by the permanent location of the county seat at Elkader. A full account of this interesting contest is given in the chapter entitled "The County Seat and Public Buildings."

The first school-house was built in 1847, on the west side of the river, on a lot given by Thompson, Sage and Davis. It was located on Front street, and the school was taught by Miss Woodward, a sister of S. T. Woodward.

The elegant structure now standing in Elkader is one of the finest in Northeastern Iowa. The main part of this building is 40 x 75, with a vestibule in front 24 x 40, running up, with dome 60 feet from the ground. The building is two stories high and each story is 14 feet in the clear. The main part, in the first story, is divided into three rooms, and the vestibule in front is occupied by two flights of stairs, halls, two cloak-rooms and two libraries.

The school was graded in September, 1870, and a course of study was adopted at that time. None was published, however, until 1875. changes were made several times, and the one now in force was adopted in September, 1881. The first principal was W. H. Palmer. After him the position was filled successively by J. W. Spangler, J. F. Thompson (afterward County Superintendent, and now Clerk of the Courts), S. N. Bixby (now a physician at Strawberry Point), P. W. McClellan (afterward County Superintendent, and now residing at Monona), J. F. Thompson, and J. E. Webb, the present incumbent. Mr. Webb is assisted by J. N. Hamilton, in the Grammar Department, Janie Skinner Indtermediate Department, Ellen Egbert & Amelia Murdock, in German.

This school is justly considered one of the best in the county.

It has long enjoyed an enviable repion, and many successful teachers ahve been educated in this school. It ranks as a high school, has regular graduation exercises, and its examinations are held before a committee of citizens chosen for the purpose each year.

The First National Bank of Elkader received its charter May 11, 1871, and commenced buisness May 24, 1871. The first stockholders were H. B. Carter, R. A. Richardson, Vice President F. H. Carter, Cashier Isaac Havens, William Larrabee, Frank Larrabee, George herdrich, A. D. Cook, M. B. Clark, Timothy Davis, J. A. Hysham, C. C. Crosby, John Linton, H. H. Carter, S. T. Woodward, E. A. Woodward, H. S. Granger, S. M. Larrabee, A. M. Larrabee and M. J. Granger. The capital stock of the company has been from the first $50,000. The present officers are: H. B. Carter, Cashier, and E. V. Cater, Asst. Cashier. The following is the lawst annual statement to the Comptroller of the Currency made May 19, 1882, and embraces the following items:

Loans and Discounts 46,486.83
Overdrafts 7.76
U.S. Bonds to secure Chirculation 50,000.00
U.S. Bonds on hand 200.00
Due from Reserve Agents 37,315.76
Bank Property 10,199.92
Expenses and Taxes paid 160.53
Cash 19,328.75
Redemption Fund with U.S. Treasurer 2,250.00
Due from U.S. Treasurer 65.93
Total 176,014.68
Captial Stock paid in $50,000
Surplus Fund 8,300.00
Undivided Profits 169.73
Circulating Notes Outstanding 28,800.00
Dividends unpaid 792.50
Deposits 87,108.07
Due other banks 844.38
Total 176,014.68

The Elkader Creamery was built by C. F. & H. C. Stearns and Edgar Partch in 1878, but operations were not begun until the following summer. Mr. Partch sold out in August, 1881, to Messrs. Stearns who are the present proprietors. This establishement has steadily enlarged its business from the start, and is now one of the best creameries in this section o fthe country. Running but two cream wagons the first year, nine of them are now constantly employed in visiting the farmers in the surrounding country and gathering in visiting the farmers in the surrounding country and gathering the cream skimmed from vast quantities of milk. During the year 1881, this creamery made 118,250 pounds of butter, which were shipped to Philadelophia, New York and Chicago.

The following is a complete business directory of Elkader: General stores--Carter and Mills, C. H. and H. C. Stearns, Jo Lamm and Charles Leibrock; hardware stores--Stearns and Whitney, and Kenkel & Falkenheimer; drug stores--Valt Boller, Joseph Tipton and Bayless and Hagensick; tailor shops--Fred Rathman, August Ueker, Fred Schneider and Mr. Horn; furniture and cabinet store--H. C. Grotewohl; grocery--Henry Mellen; jewelers--F. Keltenbach and A. B. Moreland; restaurants--Thomas Cummings, Adolph Katschkowski, Henry Schoch, Martin Ditner and Mrs. Theresa Reuther; millinery shops--Mrs. Frank Leibrock, Mary Oglesbee, Clara Rathman and Mrs. McKittrick; baker--Mr. Bingham; shoe shops--Corn Ryan, Ed. Russell and Geo. Strobel; butcher shop--A. Kramer and Bro.; saloons--Charles Hartman, Wash. Sargent and Geo. Strobel; billiard hall--John Kossuth; hotels--Kouis Schroeder (Schroeder's Hotel), O. Wade (Boardman House, and Pat Mullen (Farmer's Home); barber shop--Frank Liers; harness-shops--George Wolf and Pat Garaghty; cigar manufactory--John Hagensick; creamery--C. H. and H. C. Stearns; marble shop--John Prior; paint shop--Frank Dement; lumber and lime--Jacob Stemmer; machinery--James Jack, Andrew Eberhardt and Joseph Thompson; bank--Barter and Son; wagon-shops--Charles Schoch and Son, and Kossuth and Bro.; blacksmith shops--Dan. Gleason, David Livingood, Tim Gleason, and Martin Daley.

The postoffice at Elkader was established in 1848, is now quite an important one as a distributing office, and does a good business in the sale of stamps, and in the issue and payment of money orders. For the year ending April 1, 1882, 1,119 money-orders were issued, in value $139,959.24. The amount received for stamps, etc., was $1,514.58. Total number of letters and parcels mailed, 46,353. The first money order issued at this office was Aug. 8, 1866, to Snedigar and Stearns, for $32.50, and was payable to the St. Louis Lead and Oil Company, St. Louis, Mo. The first order paid was for $25.00, payable to William Winch, Ceres, Clayton County, Iowa. The remitter was Augustus Thornley; and the order was paid Aug. 23, 1866.


This chapter continues with Religious (page 644-648) and Secret Societies (page 648-650) and concludes with biographical sketches.

Your help is needed to transcribe the remaining pages of Boardman twp.

transcribed by Roxanne Barth
source: History of Clayton County, Iowa, 1882, Chicago: Inter-State Publishing Co., 1882. Reproduced by the sponsorship of the Monona Historical Society, Monona, Iowa, reproduction Evansville, Indiana: Unigraphics, Inc., 1975; page 634-650


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