IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

History of Clayton County, Iowa
Chapter XXIV

Cox Creek Township

Littleport * Mederville * Osborne

Cox Creek Township
(page 729-731)

Cox Creek township is township 92 north, range 5 west. It is a full township of thirty-six sections, and is bounded on the north by Boardman, on the east by Volga, on the south by Lodomillo and on the west by Sperry. The Volga River flows in a winding course through the middle of the township, and the country is drained by numerous small tributaries to the Volga. The largest of these is Cox Creek, which flows from the southwest. It was named from Phillip Cox the first settler. Doe Creek is six miles long, extending north and south. Honey Creek is ten miles long and flows northwest.

The first settlement of Cox Creek Township was made in 1842 by a man named Phillip Cox, who remained there a year or two, and then removed from the county. A German family namedFalldorf came soon after and settled on a place about three miles south of the new village of St. Johan, but they were troubled a great deal by the Indians and almost starved to death, and finally removed to Galena. From them the name of Dutch Hollow originated. In 1844 William Bente settled here, and in 1845 Captain Dennis Quigley. In those years, from 1844 to 1848, deer were "as plenty as sheep in a well filled pasture." The woods and the prairies abounded with them. Mr. Bente counted in a single drove forty-two deer.

James Dickerson came to this township in 1847 and located on section 30. He now lives at Clear Lake, Cerro Gordo County.

Geo. S. Peck came to this township in 1848 and located on section 20, where he now lives, having acquired a good home and other property.

Samuel Hines also was an early settler, locating on section 33, where he still lives.

Norman Scoville came in 1847, locating on section 29. He had been in the Black Hawk war.

Norman Lanphier came in 1848, and located on section 19. He afterward moved to the Volga bottom, where he died in 1881.

Wm. Kane also came in 1848 and located on section 6. In 1880 he removed to Rooks County, Kan.

Avery Clarke came about 1849 and located on section 20. He enlisted in the Seventh Iowa Cavalry and was killed in a battle with the Indinas while serving in Minnesota.

Dennis Quigley located in Cox Creek in 1846, and lived there wuntil 1877. The he moved to Osborne County, Kan., where he now lives, at the age of eighty-two.

The first birth in the township was John, son of Joseph Dickerson; it occurred in 1847.

There are at present eight school-houses in Cox Creek Township, and the value of the school property is $3,050. There are 362 children of school age.

The first religious services were held in 1848, by Rev. Henry Gifford, of the Free-Will Baptist Church, in the house of Norman Scoville. There are two churches, both Roman Catholic, in the township.

The Cox Creek Church of the Sacred Church was built in 1875, at an expense of $2,000. It was paid for by subscription, collected by Rev. M. J. Quirk. This Father was the first pastor of the church. James Burns, Englebert Ollinger, Bartholomew Dillon, James Ivory, Timothy Glenning, John Dunn and Michael Carr (who gave the land for the church) were among the first members of the church. The first relgious services were held in private houses, particularly at the homes of Michael O'Brien, James Joy and B. Dillon. They were conducted first by Father Michael Lynch. He was succeeded in turn by Father McGinnis, Father Nagel, Father Obyrne, Father Quigley, Father Quirk, Father Coyle, Father Hackett and Father Rowe, the present pastor. The present membership is 225, and the church is now prosperous, and the building is soon to be put in throrough repair. There is a Sunday-school of forty members, organized in 1875. The average attendance is thirty-five.

There are four cemeteries in Cox Creek. Up to 1845 the township was a part of Volga Township, so named by Col. Wayman, after Volga River. Cox Creek had at this time, according to Captain Quigley, five legal voters, and two loafers from Prairie La Porte, who came to vote with them - "all Democrats," said Captain Quigley, "but myself." He was a Whig. Whisky was plenty and was furnished by Col. Wayman at fifty cents per gallon, and with game in abundance the old settlers had a lively time.

In 1846 a dispute arose about the location of the polls. A part of the five voters desired the election place located in the cetner of the township at the mouth of Bear Creek, adn the others were for keeping it at Elk Creek. Finally it was agreed between the voters that they would meet at the mouth of Bear Creek and decide by a vote where the elections should be held. Accordingly they met on the 23d day of April, 1847, each party anxious to carry their point, and whisky in those days generally carried the election. There were six voters present who brought with them seven jugs of the "tanglefoot." The ballot proceeded, resulting in a tie, three for Elk Creek and three for Bear Creek. Puzzled for some time what to do to settle the vexed question, it was proposed to shoot at a mark, and the party which exhibited the greatest skill with the rifle should be declared the victor, and have the right to locate the polls. Each voter had his rifle with him, and, all agreed, the contest began. Captain Quigley proved too much for his Elk Creek opponents and fairly carried the day. The poll was accordingly located at the mouth of Bear Creek.

The present township officers are: F. W. Hochhaus, clerk; Henry Dohr, John Brinkhaus and Dennis Hays, Trustees; Charles Mentzel, Assessor.

On the 8th of July, 1874, occurred one of the most destructive hail-storms in the West. Its direction was from northeast to southwest, and the extent of country damaged was four miles in length and one mile wide. Its duration was aobut twenty minutes. On about twenty farms the loss of crops was total. These farms averaged sixty acres in crops. The loss may be estimated at $8 an acre, or $9,600 in all. There were also an equal number of farms upon which the loss was from one-fourth to one-half of the crop. This loss has been estimated to be $3,200, which makes a total loss of $12,800, which is believed to be a low estimate. The damage was done by hail entirely. There was very little wind blowing at the time. No stock except chickens was killed, and damage was done only to crops. It is said that the hail-stones averaged as large as hen's eggs, and one was measured that was twelve inches in circumference.


(page 731-735)

The site upon which Littleport is situated was formerly the rallying ground of the Indians of this section of the country. They made this point their center. Here were held their councils of war; here was smoked the pipe of peace. Often were the red men called together, and the manner of which they assembled has been described by Mr. Quigley. One of the chiefs would ascend the highest hill in the vicinity of Littleport and there discharge his rifle three times, the report of which attracted the attention of neighboring camps, and these signalled their neighbors in a similar manner, and so on until all the tribe were notified. In a short time they were all assembled in the valley, feeling themselves secure in the ravines and under the dense forests of the Volga and Elk. It was here too, where they concealed their stores when starting upon an expedition. After one of the gatherings above described, they would load their canoes with piles of peltry and move down the Volga, stopping at the mouth of the river, where Colonel Wayman and Fred Hartge kept a trading port, where they exchanged their furs for powder and whisky. Drinking usually commenced of such occasions, and quarreling was its natural result.

The unassuming village of Littleport is situated on the Volga River, nine miles from Elkader and twelve miles from Volga City. It was laid out in 1857 by Dennis Quigley, on the southeast quarter of section 25, township 92 north, range 5 west. G.L. Gifford's addition was laid out Nov. 9 and 10, 1874, and upon it are located the hotel, depot, warehouse and lumber yard.

Mr. Quigley, the founder of Littleport, settled on its site as early as 1846. He was a fearless old pioneer, who had no terror of redskins or frontier life. He lived there twenty-five years, during which time he held the offices of Postmaster and Justice of the Peace. In his seventy-fifth year the spirit of the pioneer seized him again, and in company with his wife he traveled 600 miles by wagon and made a new home on the inviting prairies of Western Kansas. Everything looked lovely to his eye until ravenous pests destroyed his crops, when he and his good old wife sighed to be back again on the unpestered lands around Littleport, and made the journey in their wagon as they had when they were westward bound with hearts full of hopeful expectations. The spirit of unrest revived again, however, and again he went westward and settled in Osborne County, Kan., where he has made a permanent home, and is now, although in his eighty-second year, said to be as full of life as he was when he fought a pitched battle with a bear, which in the early days of his Littleport life made an attempt to rob him of a pig. In that attempt Bruin forfeited his life as a penalty for his greed and his disregard for Mr. Quigley's pluck. Since his settlement in Kansas he has made eight trips by wagon to his old home, making in all distnace of 9,300 miles.

G. L. Gifford, who came to the valley in 1839 with his parents from the East, when but fifteen years of age, settled in Littleport in 1851, and engaged in merchandising, hotel-keeping and farming. In 1859 he went to Pike's Peak, where he remained one year. He still lives in Littleport, one of its most respected citizens. He relates many reminiscences of early times. Among his interesting stories he relates one of a family of Winnebagoes, in which there were two brothers, known by the whites as George and Joe. George, the elder brave, although he was characterized as a sour, ill-natured fellow, was lucky enough to win the affections of two meek-eyed, copper-colored maidens, both of whom he made his wives. Joe had set his heart on the younger of George's wives and yearned to take her to his bosom. The spark of jealousy which crept into George's heart grew day by day into a flame, the full force of which burst out on the occasion when the tribe was celebrating the birth of his first child by his other wife. All the braves had imbibed very freely of the dangerous fire-water, the natural effect of which was to furnish fuel to George's jealousy, and urge him to imitate the deed which branded Cain as the first murderer.

While under the maddening influence of liquor he seized a club, and with one demoniac blow dashed his brother's brains out. His brother-in-law, Chunkter, espoused the cause of the slain Joseph, and challenged George to deadly combat. The women of the tribe, in expectation of trouble, had hidden their warlike weapons, but the antagonists forced them to produce two monstrous knives, armed with which they engaged in what proved to be a deadly fray. The first plunge of George's weaon sent Chunkter's spirit to the happy hunting grounds, and he himself withdrew from the contest holding his bowels in with his hands, to keep them from escaping through an aperture opened in his diaphragm by Chunker's unerring blade. His doom was already sealed, but under a law of the Winnebagoes the father was reqired to end the existence of one son, who should be guilty of the life-blood of another, and with the firmness of the old Roman Praetor, who condemned his son to die, old Cutnose seized the shot-gun and sent a deadly load of leaden bullets into the throat of his fratriciadal son.

The three bodies were buried in one grave at the foot of a hill, near the water's edge, in the presence of several whites, among whom was Mr. Gifford.

Old Cutnose felt like the old chief Logan, and dolefully chanted, "There is no one left but Cutnose now," for the only male members of his family occupied that grave at the foot of the hill. For weeks he and the squaws of his family tarried near the sacred ground, chanting their supplications to the Great Spirit to turn away his wrath from them. To appease the Deity they nightly kept a blaze burning on the graves, visited it in the evenings, poured out the sorrows of their desolate hearts, and again at midnight. It is to be charitably hoped that he was heard. He believed he had been, for when pinching hunger finally drove him out in quest of meat, he killed a deer, and to him this was a token that he had been heard, and that the Great Spirit would pursue him no longer with vengeance.

Old Cutnose's war spirit was broken, however, for which he may be charitably excused, when it is known that the frosts of eighty winters had helped to whiten his head. When a short time afterward the Sacs and Foxes made a raid on the Volga from the Maquoketa, and slaughtered fifteen Winnebagoes, and there was reason to believe that they would follow down the river and wage further war, the subdued old warrior ungallantly sought refuge under Mr. Gifford's bed, deeming that a haven of perfect safety from the old-time enemies of his tribe.

Shortly after, Mr. Gifford abandoned the mercantile business, and another store was established by Morat and the Peick Bros. A. Hofer now of the McGregor News, was also among the prominent citizens of Littleport in its earliest days.

The first wagon-maker was Anton Buchael. The first blacksmith was Charles Helderman. The first shoemaker was Wm. Bremner. The first saw-mill was built and operated by Dennis Quigley, in 1849. A wagon and carriage manufactory was begun in 1865, by Charles Helderman and Anton Buchael. Charles Riegnitz manufactures hoop-poles largely, and ships them to many cities.

The first school was taught by Cynthia Abbott. The first sermon was preached by Rev. N.W. Bixby, of the Free-will Baptist church in G.L. Gifford's residence, in 1854.

The first physician was M.M. Newman, who came in 1879. The only physician at present resident in Cox Creek is Dr. John Fisher, a graduate of Rush Medical College.

The hotel built by Mr. Giffordf is now leased to William Brown. Mr. Quigley was the first Postmaster. He was succeeded by F. Moradth, and he by F. Peick. The present Postmaster, Emil Tiede, received his commission in 1880.

The Roman Catholic church, a short distance from the village, was built in 1870, by the parish of Littleport. It was superintended and erected by D. Hays. Father J.J. Quigley was the first pastor and preached the first sermon. After one year he was succeeded by Father Michael Quirk, in 1872. He was in charge nearly five years, and was succeeded by Father B.W. Coyle in 1876. He is the present pastor. The first executive committee were Dennis Hays, John Farrell and Timothy Murphy. They purchased forty acres of land in 1876 for the church and for a cemetery. The present membership is about thirty-five families. There is a Sunday-school of 100 in connection with the church.

(page 735-736)

This village, formerly known as St. Johan, was laid out in October, 1868, by County Surveyor J. A. Cramer, for Louis Reuther and Henry Meder.

The first house was built by James Beatty, in 1854. The first store opened by Louis Reuther, in 1869. Joseph Unternahrer came from Chicago in 1868 and opened a blacksmith shop.

A saw-mill was built in 1854 by James Beatty. This was torn down and a fine new one erected by Henry Meder and Louis Reuther in 1866. In 1867 they also built a fine stone flouring mill, with three run of stone. Both these mills run by water.

The first school was opened in 1857, and was taught by John Nugent. Present school is taught by Bridget Downing. It has an average daily attendance of fifty-five. There is no church organization here, but there is occasional preaching by the Methodists and Lutherans in the school-house.

There are two hotels here. The first one was built in 1879, and is run by Ferdinand Albrecht. The second one was built first for a store, in 1879 it was opened as a hotel; it is run by H. L. Gifford.

The postoffice of Mederville was established in 1870. Mr. Henry Meder has been Postmaster from the first.The business of the office averages about $70.00 a year.

The population of Mederville is about fifty at the pressent date.

(page 736)

Osborne was surveyed Nov. 15, 1879, by S. L. Peck, County Surveyor, for Thomas and Elizabeth Osborne, proprietors. It is situated on the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of section 9, township 92 north, range 5 west.

The postoffice of Osborne was established in 1878, with J. J. McDermott as Postmaster. He was succeeded by a P. Schmitz, the present incumbent. The first to settle here after Mr. Osborne was William Carter, who built the hotel just north of the railroad. The Volga River and the railroad known as the Volga Branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad, both run by the place. Besides the hotel and postoffice there is a store owned by Alfred and Mary Albrecht, a wagon-shop managed by William Knospe and a blacksmith-shop kept by P. Schmitz. The depot was burned in 1880.


This chapter concludes with biographical sketches.

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; 729-731


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