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Delaware County, Iowa


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History of Delaware County, 1878

History of Delaware County, Iowa,, Page 331-335

Published by Western Historical Co., Chicago, Illinois. 1878




     At the close of the Black Hawk war, in August 1832, by treaty, the Sac and Fox tribes of Indians, until then the undisputed occupants of the lands lying west of the Mississippi, included in the present State of Iowa, ceded to the United States a strip bordering on the Mississippi and extending westward about fifty miles, which was called "Black Hawk Purchase." The western boundary of this purchase was fifty miles west of the river and parallel with it, and of course included the present territory of Delaware County. This treaty went into operation June 1, 1833.

    In June, 1834, the Black Hawk Purchase was made a part of Michigan Territory, and in September following, the Legislature of that Territory erected two counties west of the Mississippi -- Dubuque and Des Moines -- the dividing line being drawn westward from the foot of Rock Island, and these counties were partially organized. July 4, 1836, Wisconsin Territory was erected, including the two Iowa counties Dubuque and Des Moines. Under Wisconsin jurisdiction, Dubuque County was divided, in 1837, into Dubuque, Delaware, Clayton, Fayette, Buchanan, Jackson, Jones, Linn, Benton, Clinton and Cedar, and their boundaries defined. Delaware was attached to Dubuque for judicial, revenue and election purposes until its organization in 1841. The county contained sixteen congressional townships, and was bounded as follows: Commencing at the northwest corner of Township 90 north, Range 2, west of Fifth Principal Meridian, thence west to the northwest corner of Township 90 north, Range 6 west, thence south on the west line of the sixth range of townships west to the southwest corner of Township 87 north, Range 2 west, thence north to place of beginning.

    It is said that Thomas McCraney, Esq., a member of the first Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Wisconsin from Dubuque, named the new county on honor of Delaware County, New York, from which he came.

     In tracing the early settlement of this county, it may be well to insert here for reference the civil township divisions of the county, as they exist at present, 1878;


Township Name Township Range
South Fork Township 87 N. Range 3 N
North Fork Township 88 N. Range 3 W
Bremen Township 89 N. Range 3 W
Colony Township 90 N. Range 4 W
Elk Township 90 N. Range 4 W
Oneida Township 89 N. Range 4 W
Delhi Township 88 N. Range 4 W
Union Township 87 N. Range 4 W
Hazel Green Township 87 N. Range 5 W
Milo Township 88 N. Range 5 W
Delaware Township 89 N. Range 5 W
Honey Creek Township 90 N. Range 5 W
Richland Township 90 N. Range 6 W
Coffin's Grove Township 89 N. Range 6 W
Prairie Township 88 N. Range 6 W
Adams Township 87 N. Range 6 W


     Coffin’s Grove is in the southerly part of Coffin’s Grove Township; Eads’ Grove in the south part of Honey Creek, and extends into Delaware; Penn’s Grove in Delhi ....


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Township; Hickory Grove, north part of Oneida Township; Hinkle’s Grove, north part of Honey Creek, near present site of York; Lindsey’s Grove, western part of Eads’ Grove; Center Grove, near center of country.

     The south fork of the Maquoketa River, a beautiful and rapidly flowing stream over two hundred miles in length, enters the county near the northwest corner, and flows in a general southeasterly direction through the townships of Richland, Coffin’s Grove, Delaware, Milo, Delhi, Union and South Fork. The north fork of the Maquoketa flows for several miles on the eastern edge of North Fork and South Fork Townships. Buffalo Creek flows across the southwest corn of Adams Township. Coffins Grove Creek empties into the Maquoketa from the west, just north of Manchester; Honey Creek from the northeast, a little above; Spring Branch flows in from the north in Milo Township; Buck Creek from the west from Hazel Green through Union Township; Sand Creek from the west from Prairie through Milo; Plum Creek from Oneida through Delhi, North and South Fork; Bear Creek, in Bremen Township, flows into the north fork of Maquoketa, in Dubuque County; Elk Creek heads in Elk Township and flows north to the Turkey River in Clayton County.

     Timber skirts the streams, but about three-fourths of the county is beautifully undulating prairie.

     The underlying rock formation is magnesium limestone of the Niagara Group, in which are found numerous marine fossils – corals, shells, articulates, &c.  In many places the rock is exposed, and much of it is adapted for building purposes, that near Delhi being fully equal to the celebrated Anamosa stone. Near Colesburg, in Colony Township, is a deposit of fine potter’s clay and good clay for a manufacture of brick is found in various localities.  In fact, clay generally underlies the soil on the ridges, while in the bottoms the subsoil is sand and fine gravel. Alone the shores of the streams are found agates, pieces of slate and pebbles of quartz foreign to this region, and boulders scattered over the surface are the silent monuments of the glacial period.

     The correction line which runs through Delaware County, falling near Dyersville (in Dubuque County), Earlsville, Delaware, Manchester and Masonville, was run and the township lines established in 1836, by Mr. --- Burt and Orson Lyon., Mr. Burt was the son of Judge Burt, of Michigan, the investor of Burt’s Solar Compass. This was the first surveying done with the new instrument, and, says Judge Bailey, “They did excellent work with it.”

     It is conceded that William Bennett, from Galena, was the first white settler to locate within the limits of Delaware County, and that he built the first cabin on the banks of Honey Creek, in a beautiful grove now known as Eads’ Grove, on the south part of section 35, Township 90 north, Range 5 west of Fifth Principal Meridian. There is apparently some conflict of opinion as to the precise date of his settlement. Some authorities have stated that he settled there in 1836. Hon. Joel Bailey, the oldest living settler of Delaware, and perfectly familiar with the county and its settlers, says that Bennett, who was a hunter and trapper, probably built his cabin in the Winter of 1834-5 or Summer following, and occupied it with his family as early as 1835-6. Mrs. Bennett was the first white woman now known to have settled in Delaware County. Bennett remained until the Spring of 1838, when, it is said, he removed to Missouri.

    A Mr.. Lindsey was with Bennett probably as early as 1836, perhaps still earlier, and a part of the timber afterward known as Eads’ Grove was known to the first settlers as Lindsey’s Grove. The West Branch of Honey Creek was called Lindsey’s Creek, and is sometimes called by that name by the old settlers to this day.


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     Henry T. Garden, a trapper and Indian trader, is said to have built a cabin probably as early as 1836 or 1837, near the east line of the county, southeast from the present town of Colesburg. Whether he lived here with his family is uncertain, but he resided for several years just over the county line in Dubuque County, on Section 7, Township 89 north, Range 2 west, and afterward removed to Fayette County, where in February, 1843, he and a man named Atkins were murdered by Winnebagoes, to whom he sold whisky, and whom he had offended by trying to get them out of the house.  The boy escaped, slightly injured; the little girl, after being ravished by the fiends. Through the deep snow, in a cold Winter night, these poor children, wounded and bleeding, made their way to the nearest neighbor’s house, one mile, and were badly frozen when they arrived and told their tale of horror. The Indians, three in number, were afterward arrested at Camp Atkinson, and taken to Dubuque, where they were confined in the old log jail. One of them turned, “State’s evidence,” and was released. The other two were condemned to imprisonment for life. Before leaving for Fort Madison, the quarreled in jail, and the larger one killed his companion with a billet of stove wood.

    Mr. Lucius Kibbee settled in Township 88 N., R. 3 W. (North Fork), on Section 24, where Rockville was afterward located, on the west bank of the North Fork of the Maquoketa, probably in 1836 or early in 1837. Kibbee, after remaining several years on his claim, removed to Dubuque County, where he died. His widow subsequently died in Linn County, where one of the sons is still living in 1878.

    In 1837, a party of emigrants from the Selkirk colony, on the Red River of the North, mostly Scotch people, settled at a grove in the northwesterly part of Jones County, since called “Scotch Grove.” They came bringing their household goods and other movable property, including a valuable variety of spring wheat, in rude ox-carts.*  

    James Livingston and Hugh Rose accompanied them. At Dubuque, James Livingston joined by his brother Hugh, who was in Dubuque, and both brothers and Rose settled in Township 87 N., R. 3 W., a short distance below the present site of Hopkinton.

     Hugh Livingston came southward with a party who left Red River in 1835. They came with carts to the point where St. Cloud now stands, where they constructed boats and floated down the Mississippi River to Dubuque, where Hugh remained until the arrival of his brother, and the remainder of the party settled at Apple River, Ill.

     In 1837, Milo Jones, of Milwaukee, secured a contract for subdividing a number of townships in Iowa, including eight of the southern townships of Delaware County, and, during that Summer and Fall, these townships were surveyed by him and Joel Bailey.  They found four settlers here at that time, vis.: Lucius Kibbee, Hugh Livingston, James Livingston and Hugh Rose.  

    A Mr. Porter, from Ohio, subdivided the townships in the northern part of the county during the same year, but the work was very imperfectly done.

      The surveyors in this part of the county found only Wm. Bennett and ---- Lindsey, at what has since been known as Eads’ Grove.

       The first settler in Township 89, Range 3 (Bremen), was a Mr. John Flinn. The date of his settlement is not certainly known, but it was probably in the Fall of 1837 or Spring of 1838. He located on Bear Creek, a little east of




 * These carts were clumsy two-wheeled vehicles, made without a particle of iron, drawn by a single ox, in thills, harnessed like a horse. The harness consisted of wooden banes, and rawhide tugs and breeching. With these primitive carts, these hardy pioneers traveled 1,100 miles, piloted by an old trapper named Fred. Dixon.


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 the center of the township, where John Bolton now (1878) lives.  He lived for some time the only settler in the township, and was followed by the by the Bockenstedts, seven brothers, who became prominent residents.

      It is stated and generally believed, that the first white child born in Delaware County was born to William Bennett, in the Fall or Winter of 1837-38, but it lived only a few days, and its death was the first recorded.

     Early in the Spring of 1838, Bennett and his family removed southwestward, and his father-in-law, William Eads, and his family, removed from Galena and occupied Bennett’s cabin, in the timber since known as Eads’ Grove.

     John Hinkle, whose wife was Eads daughter, came with Eads and settled near him. Hinkle afterward attempted to make a claim further north, in a little grove afterward called Hinkle’s Grove, near the spot where the village of York was subsequently laid out.

     In the same Spring, in March, Thomas Nicholson and his sons, William Nicholson and Montgomery Nicholson, located near the Maquoketa, in the east part of Township 87, N., R. 4 W. (now included in South Fork Township), where Hopkington now stands, built a cabin and broke a little prairie.

     A few days after the Nicholsons, Joel Bailey, who had assisted in the survey during the previous season, Cyrus Keeler and John Keeler came from Milwaukee.  They had intended to locate where Hopkinton now stands, but, arriving there in March, they found that Nicholson and his sons were ahead of them, and they came up the river and located on Section 10 and 15, Township 88—5 (now Milo), at the place since called Bailey’s Ford.  Here they built a cabin and “broke” about twenty acres of prairie—the first breaking of any considerable size in the country. The Keelers were the cousins of William B. Ogden, late of Chicago. Cyrus died in 1846. Mr. Bailey has been closely identified with the history of the county from that day to the present.  He possessed, to a remarkable degree, the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens. Modest, retiring and a man of sterling worth and unimpeachable integrity, he was often called to positions of honor and trust, and faithfully discharged his duties as an officer and as a citizen. He became first County Surveyor, when the county was organized, and served on term as County Judge. Judge Bailey now resides in Manchester, one of the oldest living settlers of the county, honored and respected by all who know him.

    Bailey’s Ford was afterward a station on the stage road from Dubuque to Quasqueton and Independence, and in 1855, a post office was established, called Bailey’s Ford. Joel Bailey was appointed Postmaster, succeeded, about 1857, by Amos H. McKay. The people of Delaware Center and Burrington obtained their mail at the office until the establishment of a Post Office at Manchester, soon after which the office was discontinued.

   The land office at Dubuque was established in 1838. Thomas McKnight, who was Deputy Superintendent of the United States Lead Mines, at Galena, in 1828-9, was the Receiver. The first entry made at this office was by William Phillips, who made and entry Nov. 1, 1838, of land in Jackson County. The lands in Delaware County were first proclaimed for sale Nov. 5, 1838. Abner Eads (William’s brother) and Richard F. Barrett entered some land in Township 90 N., R. 5 W. (Honey Creek), Nov. 12, 1838.  Eads lived in Galena, Ill., and undoubtedly, made his entry for speculative purposes; wife and son spent the Fall of 1840 here. In December, 1838, one Jeremiah O’Sullivan entered land near Eads’ Grove.

    After building his cabin and breaking prairie in the Spring, Mr. Bailey worked, during the Summer of 1838, for Mr. Delong, at Cascade, Dubuque.... 



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      County, and in the Fall, having raised some wheat and corn, Bailey and his employer carried a load of each to Sage’s mill, on the Little Maquoketa, six miles from Dubuque, the nearest mill the settlers had. When their grists were ground, they returned to Dubuque, where they peddled out their flour and corn meal. This was the first flour carried to the Dubuque market from the western settlements. Thomas McKnight, the Receiver of the United States Land Office, purchased one sack of the flour and then requested Mr. Bailey to wait until he found Mr. Morton, the Register, who said Mr. McKnight, must “patronize home productions,” and who bought another sack. Thus , forty years ago the first load of flour carried into Dubuque from the West was peddled out in the streets of the town.

    The next Fall, 1839, Mr. Bailey, having raised a crop of wheat of his own, again started for Sage’s, still the nearest mill, with forty bushels of wheat, loaded on a wagon drawn by three “yokes of oxen.”  In two days, he reached the mill, but the water was low, several “grists” were ahead of him, and he was obligated to wait a week for his turn; while waiting, he boarded with the miller, and paid for his board by working in the blacksmith shop. When at last his “grist” was ground, he returned to Dubuque, where he peddled out his flour as before and purchased some groceries, clothing, etc., and returned home – having been absent two weeks. There were no roads nor bridges then, and the trail was a hard one to travel. This was the first flour sent to market from Delaware County.

     During the first session of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa in the Winter of 1838-89, by an act approved January 25, 1839, James Fanning, John Paul and Benjamin C. Pierce, were appointed Commissioners “to lay out a territorial road running the most practicable route from Dubuque to the settlement in Delaware County.” These Commissioners were directed to meet at Dubuque on the first Monday in June following, and “proceed to the discharge of their duties.” The road was laid out to the county line east of Rockville. The Commissioners were very cautious about locating a road in Delaware County.

     John W. Penn made a claim in a little grove, since called Penn's Grove, in the northern part of Township 88, Range 4, on the bank of Plum Creek, in 1838, and built a cabin in the Spring following.

     At the close of 1838, the Delaware settlement had not increased very materially, although the county had been visited and examined during the Summer and Fall be a number of men, some of whom afterward became actual settlers. At Ead's Grove the only families were those of William Eads and John Hinkle.

    Early in the Spring of 1839, Silas Gilmore settled in the northern part of Township 90 north, Range 3 west (Colony), near the present residence of Lawrence McNamee, Esq.  One B. T. Lounsberry entered some land in the vicinity of Eads Grove, April 4th, and, eight days after, Eleazer Frentress, one of the earliest settlers in Dunleith, Ill., entered lands in the Grove, now (1878) occupied by his son, John B. Frentress, and two brothers. Frentress also entered some land further north, at Hinkle Grove (now York). May 22d, David Moreland, William McMullen, William McQuilkin, Benjamin Reckner, with their families, and P. C. Bolsinger, arrived from Pennsylvania and located in the northern part of Township 90 north, Range 3 west, near Gilmore, where Colesburg was afterward founded. McMullen and McQuilken located on the prairie, about a mile west of Moreland's. Bolsinger went back to Pennsylvania, but afterward returned again and settled. This settlement was named the "Colony," by Judge S. Wilson, and from this the present township of Colony took its name.


~ The History of Delaware County, Iowa, Pages 331-335. Published by Chicago: Western Historical Co., 1878.

~ Contributed by Debbie Clough Gerischer

~ transcribed by Constance Diamond for Delaware County IAGenWeb