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Delaware County, Iowa  



History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People

History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People, Illustrated, Volume I.

Captain John F. Merry Supervising Editor. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914 page 297-314



Oneida Township

Congressional township 89, range 4, was organized September 29, 1855, and named Oneida. It is bounded on the north by Elk, on the east by Bremen, on the south by Delhi and on the west by Delaware townships and the beauties of its prairies and richness of soil early attracted the pioneers seeking homes in this great state. In and near the timber along Plum Creek the first locations were made, but it was not long before the settlers realized in full the value of the prairie soil and in the course of a few years the plains were dotted with the buildings of prosperous and contented farmers.


Plum Creek, the Maquoketa's largest affluent in Delaware County, with its ramifying branches, extends to the northern part of this township on the east and the north half. The soil is thin in some parts of the township, rock ledges showing near the surface. Sands that bear evidence of having been carried by winds in the glacial period appear near Earlville and pretty generally throughout the township. On section 7, in a low ridge, there are from four to six feet of sand resting on an old soil bed. However, Oneida Township has some of the finest farms in the county; a general air of prosperity is noticeable on every hand.


The first person to take up a residence in this locality was William Van Order, but upon what section has not been determined. It is known, however that a brother-in-law, named Wilson, lived near him. Wilson was, in the words of a certain strenous ex=president, "an undesirable citizen." whose bad reputation led Van Order to remove to another part of the county, Wilson was finally shot by settlers whose horses had been stolen, presumably by him, and he was buried, so it is said, in Adams Township, where he met his death.


Andrew J. Rector came early. He was a North Carolinian by birth. In 1849 he arrived in Delaware County from his adopted state, Indiana, and lived there many years. It was in this house the first election was held in Oneida Township after its creation, the place having been designated for the purpose by County Judge F. B. Doolittle. Mr. Rector died in 1904.


A. S. Scott and family emigrated from Ohio in 1851 and located in this township on section 13, near Almoral. A. R. Scott came in 1853 and some years later settled on section 10.


J. A. G. Cattron was one of the foremost men in Oneida Township. He removed from Indiana in 1854 and with his family settled on Section 2. He was prominently identified with township affairs and held several offices. Mr. Cattron was also a great church man and one of the founders of the Methodist Society in this vicinity. He was trustee and one of the incorporators of the Earlsville Methodist Episcopal Church. A man of good judgment and industrious habits, he accumulated several hundred acres of land and all in all was a good citizen.


William Cattron came to the township with his brother John in 1852. They first stopped at Delhi and from there walked across the prairie and chose land on section 2, which they entered. They then returned to Laporte County, Indiana, from whence they brought  their families to the new home in Oneida Township. Six months later, William sold his interest in the claim to his brother, and located in Elk Township. John Cattron built a log cabin on the prairie claim, hauling lumber from Guttenberg.


The last Government land unclaimed by settlers was entered by E. B. Conger and James Jones, who came to the township in 1853. Mr. Conger's father was with the party.  Among others who came this year were James Ball, William Hefner, I. R. Williams and Joel Seger.


James Ball, still living, as has been mentioned, came to this township in 1855. He entered a tract of land, part of which the limits of the Town of Delaware, and built a small frame residence. He prospered in his undertakings as farmer and live-stock dealer and is now taking the shady side of life gracefully and happily.


John Cruise and son by the same surname, settled in Oneida Township in 1853, when the country was wild and still meandered by bands of Indians, who temporarily camped in the groves close by their cabin.  The elder Cruise lived to be over eighty years of age.  The younger man became prominent in the county government, serving as sheriff three successive terms, securing his first election to that office in 1861 He became a large land owner, was an extensive breeder and raiser of live stock, carried on dairying and was generally an active, wide-awake citizen and is now a resident of Manchester and at the age of seventy-seven operates his own automobile.


Jasper S. Hunt settled in this township in the early '50s and for many years resided on section 32.  Mr. Hunt ws one of the most active in organizing the township in 1855.


John P. Fear and D. M. Smith became identified with Oneida Township in 1852, settling near the present Village of Delaware.


William Hockaday came to Delaware County from Dupage County, Illinois, and settled in Oneida Township, married a Miss Rogers and to them were  born eight children, five boys and three girls. Mr. Hockaday   an old team and a few dollars in his pocket when he came to Iowa.  Now he is one Delaware County's many retired farmers. He served in the One Hundred and Forty-first Illinois Infantry is a member of the G.A.R. and of the Jones Mill Grange and while his home is now in Manchester, Iowa, where he spends his summers, for the past three seasons he has with his wife and a few Delaware County friends spent the winters in Southern California.


E. A. Seger was born in the State of New York and came to this county in 1854, with his father, Joel Seger. L. G. Seger, another son of Joel, came at the same time.


William E. Wilson settled in the township in 1854. One Pierce also settled here in the same year and bought eighty acres of land, for which he paid $700__ a big price for the time.


Walter S. Sanderock, a native of England, emigrated to the United States in 1945, and to this county in 1855, locating in Oneida Township.


W. G. Strickland removed from Massachusetts to this county in 1856 and settled on section 11, this township. At the time of his locating here he had a wife and two children.


James F. and Electa B. Enos, with their son, James B. Enos, settled here in 1856 and entered land, upon which the family resided and prospered for many years.


In the spring of 1856 several families of the Congregational faith came in, among whom were Rev. J. A. Kasson, Rev. H. N. Gates, Daniel B. Noble, L. O. Stevens and F. W. Dunham. They made a little settlement on and near section 11. This was called Stafford Colony, which later became known as Almoral (See Almoral).


Joseph Dunham, father of F. W., J. B. , Buel and Abbie Dunham came from Franklin County, Vermont, and located at Almoral in Oneida Township in 1856.


F. W. Dunham was the first postmaster at Almoral, afterward became principal of the Earlville school and later of the Manchester schools. His children both of whom are now living, are Judge George W. Dunham, Manchester, and Mrs. Laura Barrett of Vermilion, South Dakota. Mr. Dunham died many years ago, but his widow, who several years after became Mrs. Sanborn, still resides at Manchester and is dearly loved by all who know her.


J. B. Dunham, usually called "Bicknell," succeeded his brother, F. W., as postmaster at Almoral and continued to hold that office until his death a few years since. He was one of Oneida Township's best men. His widow now resides at Manchester and his two sons at Oneida.


J. B. Taylor came in 1855, George M. Earl, William Everton and Benjamin F. Kahl came in 1857. Of course there are many others who located in the township this year and the immediate years succeeding, but even if their names were at hand, want of space will not permit mention of them here. However, in the second volume detailed sketches of most of the prominent pioneers will be found.




The original Town of Earlville, first known as Nottingham, was laid out on sections 35 and 36, in October, 1857, for the Iowa Land Company, by its president, R. B. Mason. The plat was filed for record in the county recorder's office on the 22d day of the month mentioned. The village was named Nottingham in honor of the leading officials of the railroad company, then first operating within its circumscribed limits.


The first person to locate on the land here was a man named Downer, who came in 1857, and remained but a short time. He disposed of his interest to George M. Earl who, accompanied by Henry Bentley, arrived in the locality that year. Bentley did not stay long and before leaving sold his share in the land to Earl, whose name is now dignified as the appellation for the second largest and important town in Delaware County.


Joel Seger located in the new town in 1853 and was the first carpenter in the community. He built the first schoolhouse in the place, a small frame structure.


There is no record or account of anyone following Seger onto the future townsite until 1857, when the Dubuque & Sioux City (now Illinois Central) reached the place. That year the townsite was laid out on the Earl Land and settlements therin were quite numerous. On December 10, 1857, the first train arrived in the growing trade center and both the postal authorities and railroad company changed the name to Earlville. The old name of Nottingham clung to the place abd in 1861, Judge Baily of the County Court, enforced the name on the place by judicial order. However, this was changed to Earlvill at the time of the incorporation of the village as a town later on.


The first mercantile establishment here was opened by Benjamin Thorpe, Sr. in the spring of 1857. He kept a general line of goods then in demand by his patrons, and soon after he had established a good trade. F. Bates began in the same line of business in a building, the upper story of which was used as a hall, which was the first one in town. This hall was used for many purposes, including religious services of the sects recently organized.


Earlville soon became a leading trading point and grain market, the railroad facilitating transportation to a degree scarcely looked for by the settlers, and in 1858 Benjamin Thorpe built a warehouse for the storage of grain, which came in from the fertile farms many miles around. Within a short time two more grain depositors were built. But so much grain began seeking the markets in the east, that they became inadequate for the purpose and an elevator was built in 1861, by J. S. Harris and Joseph Deiley. This was one of the three elevators on the line of the railroad at that period. In 1864, the elevator passed into the hands of Josiah Tilson and later Hersey & Company became proprietors. The latter firm built another elevator in 1875, with a capacity of 15,000 bushels, being erected on the foundations of an elevator built by Hersey & Company, destroyed by a cyclone in 1869, the year it was put up.


By the year 1877, Earlville was well on the road towards reaching its ambition to become one of Delaware's important marts and had dry goods and general mercantile establishments, groceries, shoe stores, harness shops, hardware stores, wagon and carriage factories, blacksmith shops, furniture stores, jewelers, druggists, physicians, milliners, tailors, coopers, butchers, a livery stable, established by J. B. Taylor, first in the town and still in operation by a son; and other lines of business, including a newspaper, a indispensible luxury in a community of intelligent people.




A petition, signed by many citizens of Earlville, was filed in the Circuit Court, May 10, 1882, praying that the village be incorporated as a town. The matter coming before the court , Judge John C. Lacey granted the prayer of the petition and appointed George Staehle, Sr., F. Werlmeister, W. H. Merton, Samuel F. Parker and L. G. Hersey a committee to call an election, to ascertain the wishes of the electorate. An election was thereupon called to be held Monday, June 12, 1882, at the drug store of J. S. Harris & Son, and its results showed that the proposition was carried by a majority of 59, out of a total vote of 101. On the 8th day of August, 1882, an election was held for town officers, and the following persons were chosen: Mayor, Samuel F. Parker; Clerk, C. Starr Barre; trustees, Charles Schubert, Charles B. Bush, George G. Williams, L. G. Hersey, George Staehle and Alex Riddell.


The council held its first meeting on the evening of August 21st, in the office of the Graphic. Members of the council were all present, but the mayor elect was absent. On motion of Staehle, Mr. Hersey was made mayor, pro tem, and presided.


On motion of Staehle it was moved that a tax of 3 mills on the dollar of assessed valuation of taxable property be levied; also that 5 mills be levied on all farm lands of ten acres and over within the corporation, for the ensuing year, for road purposes.


Councilman Riddell nominated John Cruikshank for marshal and Councilman Williams nominated J. B. Taylor. On a ballot being taken Cruikshank received the appointment, at a salary of $25 from September 1 to the next annual election.


The mayor was authorized to appoint a committee of three on ordinances and for that purpose named Riddle, Staehle and Bush.


A committee, consisting of Bush and Williams, was named to take the measurement of the railroad tracks within the corporate limits. The place selected for the next meeting was the Hersey Building; and this is the manner in which Earlville started out on its career as an incorporated town.


The following named citizens have served Earlville as chief executive and clerk: 1882-83, Parker, mayor; Barre, recorder; 1884-85, George Staehle, Jr., mayor; Barre, recorder; 1886, G. H. Bush, mayor; Barr, recorder' 1887, George Staehle, mayor; S. K. Virtue, recorder; 1888, J. H.  Trewin, mayor; S. K. Virtue, recorder; 1889, H. G. Millen, mayor;  S. K. Virtue, recorder; 1890, E. H. Rassel, mayor; S. K. Virtue, recorder; 1891, W. I. Millen, mayor; S. K. Virtue, recorder; 1892, S. W. Klaus, mayor; S. K. Virtue, recorder; 1893, S. W. Klaus, mayor; S. K. Virtue, recorder; 1894, James Currie, mayor; S. K. Virtue, recorder; 1895James Currie, mayor; S. K. Virtue, recorder; 1896, James Currie, mayor; S. K. Virtue and E. South, recorder; 1897, J. B. Taylor, mayor; E. South, recorder; 1898, J. B. Taylor, mayor; E. South, recorder; 1899, J. B. Taylor, mayor; E. South, recorder; 1900, J. B. Taylor, mayor; E. South, recorder; 1901, J. B. Taylor, mayor; E. South, recorder; 1902, J. C. Nieman, mayor; R. V. Lucas, recorder; 1903, j. c. Nieman, mayor; R. V. Lucas, recorder; 1904, H. A.. Tobie, mayor; R. V. Lucas, recorder; 1905, H. A. Tobie, mayor; R. V. Lucas, recorder; 1906, S. S. Douglas, mayor; C. B. Rogers, recorder; 1907, S. S. Douglas, mayor; C. B. Rogers, recorder; 1908 John Werkmeister, mayor; William Hunt, recorder; 1909, John Werkmeister, mayor; William Hunt, recorder; 1910, John Werkmeister, mayor; William Hunt, recorder; 1911, John Werkmeister, mayor; William Hunt, recorder; 1912, J. M. Dunn, mayor; William Hunt, recorder; 1914, H. A. Tobie, mayor; William Hunt, recorder.




On the evening of May 10, 1887, the town was threatened with destruction. Fire was noticed in a frame building, occupied by a saloon, but it had gotten under such headway before its discovery, that before means could be taken to subdue its ravages the flames had spread and consumed three blocks of business houses, including residences and churches. The Congregational Church and parsonage were in ruins; the Voit residence, a handsome brick structure costing $5,000, met the same fate; also T. O. Eaton's meat market, F. Werkmeister's furniture establishment and residence, George Staehle's hardware store and lumber yard, Alex Riddell & Company's general merchandise store, Bush & Klaus, general merchandise, E. Healey, farm implements, the Garfield Hotel, a new brick building; Farmers Hotel, also a new brick building; Shubert & Hess, wagon shops, John Young's carriage factory, and others. The loss was placed at over two hundred thousand dollars, on which was some insurance.




The heavy losses by fire sustained by Earlville citizens awakened them to the imperative necessity of installing a system of waterworks, as security in a measure at least, against a repetition of the calamity. To this end the matter was presented to the electorate of the town in the spring of 1900 and the question of bonding Earlville to the extent of $5,000 for the construction and maintenance of a system of waterworks was carried by a generous majority/ It was not until 1903, however, that construction of the improvement began. In that year an 8 inch well, 175 feet in depth, was drilled in the rock, when a bounteous supply of pure, clear water was obtained. A reservoir, 36 feet in diameter and 15 feet in depth, was built, giving a capacity of 112,000 gallons of liquid, on Reeder's hill, one-half mile southwest of town. The elevation of the reservoir is so intense as to afford a pressure of forty pounds, more than sufficient to throw a stream over the tallest structure in the community. Six-inch cast iron mains were laid and with a building in which pumps were installed. Earlville completed its waterworks at an expenditure of about eight thousand dollars.''




In the year 1912 the authorities of the corporation installed a small dynamo at the pumping station to utilize the excess power there and furnish lights for the streets. This arrangement was so satisfactory, it created a demand for more lights, both for public and private use. To meet the enactments of the citizens in this relation meant the construction of a larger plant and the matter was submitted at the polls December 9, 1913. While the question of issuing $10,000 in bond for the purpose was answered in the affirmative by the electorate the project was defeated for the time being through a technicality which necessitated the resubmission of the proposition at another election, held September 14, 1914. But not waiting for the election, being held assured of its confirmatory results, all the necessary equipment for a first class lighting plant, including dynamos, one 35 horse-power engine and one 25 horse-power, both of the Bessemer type, was set up in the waterworks power house, a two-story brick structure, and now the Town of Earlville owns two splendid utilities -- waterworks and an electric lighting system.




Earlville has a very good city hall, a two-story brick building, erected in 1888. In the front of the ground floor is the equipment of the fire department used by a volunteer company. To the rear are cells or iron cages, for the safe keeping of law-breakers. The upper story is devoted to the council chamber and mayor's office.




The banking facilities of Earlville are excellent, all needs of the citizens in that respect being amply provided for by the State Bank, which began existence as a private financial concern in 1882. The firm of Conger Brothers were the first proprietors, having George W. Dunham, now Judge Dunham of Manchester, as cashier. The bank in course of time was the property of A. H. Conger. On September 1, 1887, H. Millen & Son took charge and later added W. I. Millen, another son of the senior member of the firm. H. G. Millen and W. J. Millen, then conducted operations as Millen Brothers.


The bank was organized as the Savings Bank of Earlville in 1895, the incorporators being J. C.  and W. T. Wood, Ed Bisgrove, Thomas Cousins, C. M.  and D. M. Laxson, H. G. and W. I. Millen and George Staehle, Sr. The capital was $20,000. C. M. Laxson, president: J. C. Wood, vice president; D. F. Laxson, cashier. In 1887 the deposits were $10,000.


The bank was reorganized in 1902 and chartered as the State Bank, with a capital of $25,000. President, C. M. Laxson; vice president, W. T. Wood; cashier, H. G. Millen; assistant cashier, W. I. Millen. The latter resigned and was succeeded by Emor Millen, who remained until 1904, when his place was taken by D. F. Laxson. Present officials, C. M. Laxson, president; Edward Bisgrove, vice president; D. F. Laxson, cashier. Capital, $25,000; surplus and undivided profits, $27,000; deposits, $225,000.



On the 12th of February, 1858, the postoffice was established at Earlville and S. D. Moody commissioned postmaster. The names of his successors follow: C. B. Stowe, commissioned November 9, 1858; J. S. Harris, December 5, 1860; J. G. Verplank, March 29, 1861; Cummings Sanborn, January 4, 1864; R. L. Jones, September 17, 1867; R. H. Van Wagenen, January 4, 1886; J. G. Cousins, December 18, 1890; William H. Flynn, October 25, 1894; J. C. Cousins, August 22, 1898; R. V. Lucas, October 11, 1902; Philip M. Cloud, December 22, 1905.




Earlville has always been recognized as one of the foremost towns in the county in all matters pertaining to education. As early as 1853 a school was erected on what afterwards became the townsite. Joel Seger, a carpenter settling here in that year, was the builder. The little cabin school had for it's first teacher Benjamin Thorpe, Jr., and the building was utilized for various purposes until 1859, when a two story frame structure took its place, C. C. Gilman being the contractor. This old school stood for many years and instructors presiding within its walls had for pupils lads and lassies who became the bone and sinew of the county.


Earlville was made an independent school district in 1865. H. N. Gates under the new dispensation was appointed principal and Mary Ellis, assistant. Later, additions were made to the building, to meet the growing demand for more room. The attendence at this time is large and the erection of the new building, a two-story brick, a year or two ago, was a necessity and its cost was cheerfully met by the parents and taxpayers of the community.


~ source: History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People, Illustrated, Volume I. Captain John F. Merry Supervising Editor. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914, Chicago. Call Number 977.7385 H2m.

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