This township was early settled. It was organized March 24, 1847, being
township 90, range 3. Its name originated in the colony of settlers
attracted to its fertile fields and beautiful surroundings.
Colony Township lies in the extreme northeast corner of the county, with
Clayton County on the north and Dubuque County on the east. Elk Township
is to the west of it and Bremen on the south.
The German element largely predominates here. Being adepts in husbandry,
their holdings cannot be surpassed anywhere in the state. Large, modern
homes, huge barns, neatly kept and highly cultivated fields all attest the
industry, thrift and progress of this people. The production of corn,
oats, wheat, cattle and dairy products add yearly to the ever increasing
wealth of the people, in the central and southern parts of the township
there is an area more than usually level and the soil is very fertile. It
is adapted to a great range of crops, and ranks with the best known
anywhere in the great fertile Northwest. Bear Creek has its origin in a
number of small branches, draining the central part of the township and
flowing southward. The northeastern part of Colony is drained by branches
of Turkey River. Rich pastures with abundance of water make stock raising
profitable in this locality.
The first person known to have built a cabin in this township was Henry
Teegardner, a trapper and Indian trader, who was here about 1838. It is
not known to a certainty that he ever brought his family to this western
home but he did reside for several years just over the line in Dubuque
The first actual settler in this township was Silas Gilmore who located in
the north part of the township early in the spring of 1839. In May, 1839,
David Moreland, William McMillen, William McQuilkin, Benjamin Reckner,
with their families, and P. C. Bolsinger arrived in this township from
Pennsylvania and located in its northern part near Gilmore's claim and
where Colesburg was afterward laid out. Bolsinger shortly after went back
to Pennsylvania but returned and permanently settled, becoming one of the
pioneer merchants. The settlement was named the "Colony" and this is
probably the origin of the name given the township.
Missouri Dickson and family came in July, 1839, and settled at White Oak
Grove about four miles southeast of the Morelands' claim. Samuel Dickson
came about the same time. The Dicksons had many adventures as hunters and
trappers, one of which is illustrative, as told by a neighbor: "A short
distance from the mouth of the Volga, there is a tributary known as Bear
Creek, which receives its name from the following hunting incident.
Missouri Dickson and his brother, Samuel, having started a large bear in
the timber of Turkey River, late in the fall of 1839, followed its
footprints in the snow until they reached the vicinity of this stream,
when they separated, Missouri following the trail, and his brother making
a circuit, in the hope of heading off the retreat of the animal. Soon
after they had parted, Missouri came up with the bear, which had curled
down to sleep beneath an overhanging rock, he fired his rifle and wounded
the bear, when it immediately turned upon him and he fled in the direction
of the creek. Dickson was wont to tell his adventure thus: 'Fur half a
mile or so, there wuz suthin' more'n daylight atween us, an' if Sam hadn't
afired just as I wuz hoovin' it across the crik, there'd been one old bear
hunter a considerably spiled.' “
History has it that the first religious services in Delaware County were
held in 1839 by Simeon Clark, a Methodist preacher from Dubuque County. He
was called Preacher Clark by the settlers and held forth at their homes.
He was an earnest exhorter and the first sermons he preached were in a
little cabin, probably occupied by Silas Gilmore, Albert Baker and Thomas
Cole, who were keeping "batch." This cabin was the first that was built in
The Moreland colony started to increase in the year 1840. Among others who
came that year were Leonard Wiltse and family, John Melugin and family,
Drake Nelson, Matthew Springer, Amasa Wiltse and William and James
During the year 1841 there came in Jared and Ezra Hubbard, Horace Pierce,
Allen Fargo, Robert Torrence, William and John Burnham, Amos Williams,
Patrick Hogan and others, who settled near the Moreland colony.
Archibald Montgomery came in May, 1842, with his family. At the time of
his death in 1875 he owned 1,200 acres of land. John D. Klaus immigrated
from Germany in 1837 and came to this county in August, 1842, at which
time he entered 120 acres of land in Colony Township, to which he added
several hundred acres as time went on.
Lawrence McNamee was early a member of the colony in this township, coming
from the State of New York in September, 1842, when he located on section
4, which was his home the greater part of his life. Mr. McNamee was among
the first county commissioners, was elected to local offices of
responsibility and was always looked upon as a man of the highest
integrity and influence.
Liberty Cole settled in Colony Township in 1842.
In the spring of 1843 John Platt and family came from Pennsylvania, also
William Smith from the same state. They settled in the east part of the
In 1844 William Gillam and family immigrated from "Hard Scrabble”
Wisconsin, and settled in the Landis and Dickson settlement. Jacob Smith,
a single man, came with them.
Joseph Grimes was an early settler of Colony Township, locating near the
present Town of Colesburg in 1844. The following spring he removed across
the line into Clayton County, where he built a sawmill on Elk Creek and
operated it three years. He returned to his farm adjoining Colesburg and
became a prominent citizen of the county. He was a representative in the
Lower House in 1858 and 1859 and a member of the Senate from 1868 to 1872.
He also held local offices.
George Griffith, unmarried, located here in 1845. That same year a man by
the name of Gamble, with two children, also located in the neighborhood.
In 1846 and 1847 there was a large increase in the population of the
township. Herman H. Klaus was a settler in this township as early as 1845.
In May of that year he settled on a farm, a part of which he entered at
Government price. Eventually he became the possessor of about seven
hundred acres, most of which was improved. Mr. Klaus was a leader in the
Methodist church, a steward for twenty-eight years and local preacher
Hezekiah Hubbard was born in Connecticut in 1813. He married Sarah Clark,
of Bennington, Vermont, in 1835. With his family he immigrated to Iowa in
1846 and entered 120 acres of land in this township. He was a good farmer
and citizen. Leaving Middlesex County, in Connecticut, with his brother in
1841, Jared Hubbard traveled by water and rail to York, Pennsylvania, and
from thence by stage to Pittsburg. The Ohio and Mississippi rivers were
his means of transportation to St. Charles, Missouri. From there he
proceeded to Galena and from Galena on foot to the colony, arriving in May
of the year mentioned. He first stopped with David Moreland and while
there built a barn for the pioneer, the first one erected in the county.
Eventually Jared Hubbard became a jeweler of Colesburg.
One of the earliest and most prominent settlers of Colony Township was
Thomas Cole. He was a native of England, immigrated to this country in
1832 and settled in New York. He arrived in Delaware County in 1847 and
entered land in Colony Township. In 1849 Mr. Cole returned to New York,
where he married Hannah Wilson, who was also a native of England. When he
first came to Colony there was only a log cabin in Colesburg. The
following year two more were built. He engaged in the mercantile business
here in 1849.
Wellington Wiltse, James Cole, Albert Baker, A. J. Blackmail and James
Rutherford settled in the township soon after the colony had been set up.
William H. Graves was born in New Hampshire and became a Delaware County
settler in 1848, locating in Colony Township.
George W. Ray came to the township in 1848. He at once built a home and
before many years had a farm of 160 acres under a high state of
John C. Wood was born in England in 1845. His father came to this country
in 1848 and entered a tract of land in section 16, Colony Township, where
he built a cabin, to which he welcomed his wife and son, John C. Wood, and
other relatives, on the 7th day of June, 1849. John C. Wood became quite
prominent in the county. He died at Earlville in September, 1914.
Charles Simons was a native of the State of New York, settled in Delaware
County in 1849 and in 1857 married Jane Dickson, daughter of Missouri
Dickson, the first child born in Colony Township, the date of her birth
being December 14, 1839. In 1868 Sir. Simons moved on section 24, which
was a part of his wife's heritage from her father.
Henry Bush and his wife Elizabeth came here from Pennsylvania in 1851, and
finally located on section 6, this township. John B. Bush, a son, came
with the family. In 1869 he went to Colesburg, where he operated a steam
sawmill until 1875. The following year he commenced the drug business at
Jacob Landis, Sr., came to Delaware County from Pennsylvania in the fall
of 1840 with Jacob Moreland, who was his neighbor in the Keystone State.
Landis entered 120 acres of land 2 1/2 miles southeast of Colesburg and
two eighty-acre tracts in the same neighborhood. He put up a log house
covered with "shakes" and in the following spring went back to
Pennsylvania, from whence he brought his family, consisting of Rachel, his
wife, two girls, Margaret and Eliza, and three boys, Joshua, who died at
the age of six years; Jacob, living in Colesburg, in his eighty-sixth
year; and Abram, also a resident of Colesburg, now seventy-seven years of
age. Israel Hubbard and family, Jordan Hubbard, a brother, and John
Melugin were here at that time and settled southeast of Colesburg. Robert
Torrence also located southeast of town about this time.
James Dickson, a native of Scotland, immigrated to the United States in
1849 and first settled in Indiana. He immigrated from that state to Iowa
in 1851 and settled on section 1, in this township, near Colesburg. Robert
Dickson also came from Scotland and in 1851 arrived in Delaware County and
settled near Colesburg. His parents followed him in 1853 and remained
members of his household until their deaths.
Thomas J. Conner settled near Colesburg in 1852.
Daniel Partridge was an active and industrious farmer, who arrived in this
county from the State of Michigan in 1853 and settled on section 5.
Chester Coonrod came to Delaware County from McHenry County, Illinois, in
1856, and settled at Colesburg, in Colony Township, where he resided some
time. He moved from there to Coffin's Grove Township. He remained one of
the industrious and influential farmers of the county for many years.
David Roberts was born in Utica, New York, and found his way to Delaware
County in the ‘50s, locating in Colony Township, where his son, George E.
Roberts, was born on the 19th day of August, 1857. The elder Roberts
established the pottery at Colesburg. This son is now director of the
United States Mint, with headquarters at Washington, and is an authority
on financial questions. He spent some years in Iowa as a journalist, wrote
articles dealing with the money question that gained national recognition,
and while secretary of the treasury, Lyman J. Gage appointed him director
of the mint. He was reappointed in 1903 by Theodore Roosevelt and resigned
the position in 1907, to accept the presidency of the Commercial National
Bank, of Chicago. Three years later President Taft offered him the
directorship of the mint and for the third time he is now occupying that
The first Methodist camp meeting in the county was held at the "Colony" in
the summer of 1844.
The first school was taught in the summer of 1840, in a log cabin built
for the purpose on a spot three-quarters of a mile north of David
Moreland's house. Before this cabin was "chinked," Preacher Clark held
services within its primitive walls (?). As soon as completed the first
school in Delaware County was held in this crude structure, having been
opened in the fall of 1840 by Mrs. McCleland. Two months afterward the
building burned to the ground and teacher and pupils removed to the home
of James Cole, where the term was completed. The building was replaced by
another, which stood on the edge of Colesburg. The Moreland, Mallory,
McNamee, Wiltse and Landis children were enrolled here in 1842, and Maria
Phillips was the teacher. The young lady became the wife of Silas Gilmore,
who kept "batch" in a log cabin, 1 1/4 miles from Colesburg.
The first school established in the Dickson settlement was taught by Abbie
Hall in 1844, in a small log building designed for a smoke house, which
stood on the farm of her brother Thomas Hall. In the year just mentioned
the settlers built a hewed log schoolhouse on the farm of John Platt, Sr.,
and in 1845 a select school was taught there (subscription) by John
In the year 1847 there were two schools in full running order. District
No. 1 had thirty-six pupils and No. 2, forty-one. In 1848 there were three
schools, all supported by subscription, and the teachers "boarded round."
Lawrence McNamce and John Platt Sr., were the first persons elected
justices of the peace in Colony Township.
Jacob Landis built and operated a sawmill, on a branch of the Little
Turkey, about two and one-half miles southeast of Moreland's in 1848.
The Town of "Coles Burgh," now Colesburg, was laid out by Hiram Cole and
Lawrence McNamee, August 10, 1848, and is one of the oldest trading points
in the county. It is situate on the northeast quarter and part of the
northwest quarter of section 4.
Lawrence McNamee, who located here in 1842, purchased the forty acre claim
of Wellington Wiltse, on section 4, for which he gave $1,000. Joining with
Hiram Cole, whose land adjoined his, these two men became the founders of
this old town. South of Colesburg the Town of Colony was laid out in 1851,
by David Moreland, but the two places were so close together they are now
considered as one and that is Colesburg.
The first building erected on the site of Colesburg was built by Hiram
Cole in 1846, in which he opened the second store in the place. But David
Bierer was the first merchant in the place, opening a small general store
in 1843, which is said to have been the first in the county.
The postoffice here was established in 1846 and named Colony. David
Moreland was the first postmaster and received his commission August 15,
1846. On the 3d day of April, 1849, the name was changed to Colesburg. The
names of Moreland's successors in this office follow: Perry Perkins, April
3, 1849; Thomas Cole, January 20, 1852; J. B. Moreland, April 6, 1853; H.
T. Wright, April 20, 1860; J. M. Potts, December 5, 1866; S. G. Knee,
March 23, 1869; George F. Potts, December 1, 1884; James Chapman, May 25,
1889; George P. Potts, June 28, 1893; Joseph Chapman, June 1, 1897; Emma
J. Chapman, December 7, 1905.
Jacob B. Moreland put up a building in Colony (now Colesburg) in 1851, and
opened up a general line of merchandise. He became prominent in the
Richard Wilson located in Colesburg in 1851 and at once engaged in
business as a tinsmith and hardware dealer.
P. C. Bolsinger was an energetic business man and made a success as a
merchant at Colesburg. He opened a general store in 1852 and in 1860
erected a large stone building to accommodate a large stock of goods and
his numerous patrons.
One of the earliest merchants was Hiram Cole, who began business in a log
cabin that stood on or near the site of the Bolsinger stone business
Col. Samuel G. Knee was born in Pennsylvania in 1834. He came to Delaware
County in 1855 and worked at the carpenter trade until the beginning of
the war, when he enlisted, in 1861, in the Twelfth Iowa Infantry. He was
promoted second lieutenant in 1863 and before the expiration of the year
was made captain. In 1865 he reached the rank of major and in 1866,
lieutenant colonel. After the war he engaged in the mercantile business at
Colesburg and was postmaster there.
The mill still running in Colesburg was built in 1857 by Bolsinger &
Moreland. The mill had steam power and was operated by the builders until
1867, when James Caskey and James Cole purchased the property. Cole later
sold his interests to Michael Stegner, who died in 1874 and Caskey became
sole owner. It was known as a two run mill and had a capacity of fifty
barrels of flour a day. Nothing but feed and corn meal is now the product
of this old industrial concern.
The Colesburg pottery, still in operation, was built by David Roberts in
1857. The building was destroyed two years later, but restored when E.
Jones became the owner. It was afterwards purchased by the firm of Stegner
& Stillinger, who sold to F. A. Grimes and R. C. Currie. The excellent
potter's clay found in this vicinity furnishes material for the
manufacture of various earthen vessels, principally flower pots, milk
jars, jugs, etc., which arc still made at this factory. Here also is made
a good quality of building brick. Colesburg also has a creamery that has
been in operation all of twenty-five years. Prior to this Dr. R. Stedman
opened a cheese factory in 1873 and run it about four years.
Colesburg was incorporated as a town and the first election was held for
municipal officers March 17, 1893. Joseph Grimes received the majority of
votes cast for mayor; W. C. Kircheck, clerk; B. V. Burt, F. A. Grimes,
George Walker, T. S. Davidson, F. C. Knee, A. W. Rea, council: A. B.
The first school in Delaware County was taught by Mrs. McCleland at
Colesburg in 1840, in a little log cabin. The building burned down and was
replaced by a hewed log structure, in which the pupils were taught by
Maria Phillips. In 1853 a one-story brick school building was erected and
is still standing. This soon became too small and a two-story brick
building was put up, in which four teachers instruct the pupils. The
school is graded. This building and the little one close by would not
accommodate the children of the community, so that in the fall of 1914 a
new one was erected. It is a two-story brick structure, with basement, and
has all modern improvements and conveniences. Its cost was about eleven
This bank is the outgrowth of a private banking concern, established by A.
W. Rea, in a little frame building two doors north of the present building
about the year 1891, and operated until 1907. Articles of incorporation
were issued for the Farmers Savings Bank, January 12, 1907, to F. A.
Grimes, John W. Bush, M. W. Lovett, F. W. Klaus, J. S. Merton, Robert A.
Gull, George Flynn, W. H. P. Bristol, C. H. Jacobs, P. D. Peck, G. A.
Dodge, James Knee, F. S. Vorwald and H. Brockmeyer. It was capitalized at
$10,000, and the first officials were: President, F. A. Grimes; vice
president, John V. Bush; cashier, P. D. Peck; assistant cashier, J. Y.
Bush. On December 3, 1910, F. A. Grimes was succeeded in the presidency by
M. W. Lovett and A. W. Rea was made vice president. Mr. Rea died in April,
1914, and his office was filled by P. D. Peck. Mr. Peck had resigned the
cashiership March 1, 1914, and William Hammond, of Clayton County, was
elected to the office. At the same time J. R. Grimes was elected assistant
The capital stock of the Farmers Bank was increased to $18,000. May 25,
1912, and that same year the directors erected a two-story brick home,
which was occupied in January, 1913. The present officials are: President,
M. W. Lovett; vice president, P. D. Peck; cashier, William Hammond;
assistant cashier, J. R. Grimes. Capital stock, $18,000; deposits,
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
This church was organized in the schoolhouse near where Colesburg now
stands, in the fall of 1842, by Rev. Barney White, assisted by Rev. Simeon
Clark. Thomas Cole was the first class leader, and John Nagle and Missouri
Dickson, stewards. The first board of trustees was George Gilmore, Henry
Klaus, William Bragg, Hezekiah Hubbard and Perry Perkins. In 1849 Rev.
John L. Kelly was pastor. The church building was erected in 1849 and
dedicated in the fall of that year by Rev. George B. Bowman. Rev. George
Larkin became pastor at this time.
Among the first members, in addition to those already mentioned, who
joined the church in the '50s and '60s, were: William Admire, Dora
A. Lang, Emily McNamee, M. C. Nichols, R. T. Jewell, Esther Gilmore, Ellen
Gilmore, L. A. Huffsmith, Laura Simpson, Cynthia M. Fosler, Melissa A.
Mills, Mehitable Conrad, Emma A. Walker, Martha A. Annis, Orline Smith,
Cynthia B. Smith, Eliza Walker, Mrs. J. Martin, Mrs. Steward, Miss
Warnock, Isabella Rea, Maria Carrier, Charles Boardrnan.
The succeeding pastors to Reverend Larkin were the following: George L.
Garrison, C. L. McNamee, Reverend Hillman, C. W. Copeland, W. G. Moore, N.
H. Sparling, William Young, J. A. Ward, C. W. Burgess, S. Goodsell, C. F.
McLean, L. U. McKee, E. Will, T. N. Cook, J. H. Thompson, James Hankins,
E. L. McNamee, G. S. Roberts, T. W. Potter, J. F. Webster, C. F. Paine, B.
D. Alden, G. W. Dunham, Herbert M. Chambers, C. W. Rogers, I. R. Sanford,
F. C. Witzigman, J. C. Erb, Reverend McBride, F. P. Cassady, R. F.
Webster, George A. Harvey and Oliver J. Feller, the present pastor.
The membership is now fifty, and the attendance at Sabbath-school, sixty.
This church was organized December 5, 1846, by Rev. James Hill, at the
cabin home of James Cole. The members were J. A. Reed, John W. Potts. Mrs.
Eliza Potts, David Malvin, Catherine Malvin, Samuel Malvin, Sarah Malvin
and Mary Black. The first pastor was Rev. James Hill, who remained until
1847, when he was succeeded by Rev. E. B. Turner. A church was built on
Main Street, in 1849, and in November of that year was dedicated. Reverend
Turner retired from the pastorate in 1854 and was succeeded by Rev. M.
Graves, whose successors were Reverends Parvin, Matthews and Amos Jones.
At the present time the church is without a pastor.
The Catholic people held mass here as early as 1855, and during the
pastorate of Rev. Michael Lynch a church building was erected, in 1857.
The present one was built in 1877, under the pastorate of Bernard Cole.
This church is now attended by a priest from Elkport.
A Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in 1859 and a building
erected the same year. Rev. P. H. Crides was the pastor. This society went
out of existence all of thirty years ago and the church building is now
used for other purposes.
INDEPENDENT ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS
Colony Lodge, No. 50, I. O. O. F., was organized August 17, 1853, with the
following charter members: S. T. Dickson, Jacob B. Morcland, George W.
Bush, John W. Strader, and Alonzo H. Mallory. The first officials were: J.
B. Moreland, N. G.; John W. Strader, V. G.; George W. Bush, Sec.; Samuel
T. Dickson, Treas.; John R. Jones, I. G.; A. H. Mallory, O. G.
Colesburg Lodge, Daughters of Rebekah, No. 428, was organized October 20,
1899, with the following members: George and Ellen Knee, Robert and Belle
Currie, Frank A. and Emma J. Grimes, A. M. and May Rea, E. W. and Cora
Knee, M. L. Westcott, M. C. Smock, Joseph and Emma J. Chapman. H. W. and
Nancy Graves, G. T. and V. M. Barnhart, G. A. and E. V. Dodge, H. and
Blanche Wilson, J. H. Knee, Mrs. R. Lockridge, J. R. Beddon, Mrs. Mont
Beddon, Isa Franks, Jane Blaker, John Currie, Delia Currie, Ida Bolsinger.
The lodge now has a membership of about one hundred.
Constellation Lodge, No. 67, A. F. & A. M., was organized August 22, 1855.
The charter members were Israel Otis, J. A. Hooker, A. H. Eaton, P. C.
Bolsinger, L. Shepard, D. G. Kindell, J. W. Clark, J. Wright and J.
McWilliams. Israel Otis was installed W. M.; J. W. Hooker, S. W.; A. H.
Eaton, J. W.
Minnehaha Lodge, No. 344, Order Eastern Star, was organized on the 19th
day of October, 1903, by Mesdames Ida Bolsinger, Lou Bush, Belle Currie,
Effie Jacobs, Ida Knee, Lucia Lockridge, Mollic Landis, Len Moreland, Mary
Rea, May Rea, Mate Walker, Blanche Wilson, J. K. P. Bolsinger, J. A. Bush,
R. C. Currie, C. H. Jacobs, C. F. Knee, W. E. Lockridge, A. L. Landis, A.
W. Rea, A. M. Rea, W. S. Shaker, George W. Walker, F. C. Wilson and Miss
GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
S. G. Knee Post, No. 517, G. A. R., was organized August 25, 1896, by the
following veterans of the Civil war: George F. Potts, George H. Walker, W.
S. Adams, Frank Thayer, James Knee, A. W. Rea, George T. Barnhart. James
McMahon, August Imscher, J. K. P. Bolsinger, Eli Wingston, George W.
McKinney, John S. Merton.
There are also organizations here of the Modern Brotherhood of America,
Modern Woodmen of America and Gleaners.