IOWA HISTORY PROJECT
HAIR, JAMES T., Ed. Iowa State Gazetteer, Shippers' Guide and Business Directory. Chicago: Bailey & Hair, 1865
Page 323- 332 Page 333- 344
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Scott County is situated in the eastern central part of the State, and is bounded on the north by Clinton County, on the east and south by the Mississippi River, and on the west by Muscatine and Cedar Counties. Having a water front of thirty-five miles it has many natural advantages not found in more inland counties. The boundary line upon the north is the Wau-bessa-pinnecon Sepo, which, in the Indian language sign files "place of white potatoes."*
This stream is some ten or twelve rods wide, with a swift clear current, and its banks generally skirted with timber. Its bottom lands are from half a mile to a mile or two wide, and are subject to annual overflow, affording great pasturage for stock, not being in general dry enough for cultivation. The western boundary of the county is upon rich rolling prairie extending along the fifth principal meridian, separating it from the counties of Cedar and Muscatine.
There is much in the early history of this county to interest and excite
the antiquarian and lover of research. Long before the discovery of the
Great River by Marquette and Joliet, on the 17th of June, 1673,
tradition tells us that the spot of ground now occupied by the City of
Davenport, was a large and populace Indian village. There can be but
little doubt, from the history of those early pioneers, that it was here
they first landed in their voyage down the Mississippi, after they
entered it from mouth of the Wisconsin, on the 17th of June.
There could not have been sufficient time between the 17th and 21st for
the voyages to have descended beyond this point, or to have reached the
lower or Des Moines Rapids; which some historians claim to have been the
landing place spoken of. There having been an Indian village here from
time immemorial according to the Indian tradition, fixes the fact most
conclusively, that it was at this place, Davenport, that the soil of
Iowa was first pressed by the foot of a white man. The legends of the
Indians are full of historic lore, pertaining to this beautiful spot,
comprising Davenport, Rock Island, and their surroundings.
|that this spot has
been the home of the red man for centuries and corroborating the testimony
of Black Hawk and others, as to the traditions of their fathers.
The scenery presented, in ascending the Mississippi, taking in the whole view from the point of the bluff below Rockingham, as far up as Hampton, on the Illinois shore, is one of unexcelled beauty and liveliness. Its islands, dotting the broad expanse of waters, the scenery of the bluffs upon the Iowa side and Rock Island with old Fort Armstrong, have been admired, and more sketches taken of this panoramic view, by home and foreign artists, than any other portion of the Mississippi valley.
At the close of the Black Hawk war, in 1832, there were no settlers upon this side of the river. The purchase from the Sac (or Saukie) and Fox tribe of Indians, of the soil of Scott County was made, in common with that of all the river counties, on the 15th of Sept., 2832, upon the ground now occupied by the depot building of the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad Company in Davenport. The treaty was held by General Scott.
The cholera was raging among the troops at Fort Armstrong, at the time, and for prudential reasons it was thought best to meet the Indians upon the side of the river.
In this sale, the Indians reserved a section, (640 acres), and presented it to Antoine Le Claire, Esq., their interpreter. This reserve was located upon the river between Harrison street and Bridge Avenue, in Fulton's addition to the City of Davenport, running back over the bluff to a line due east and west, a few rods this side of Locust street. They also gave Mr. Le Claire another section of land at the head of the rapids where the town of Le Claire now stands.
The treaty of General Scott with the Indians was ratified by Congress at their session in the winter of 1833. Thus did the United States come into possession of the soil of Scott County. Of the Indians from whom it was purchased, and of the tribes who had been in possession in earlier days, we should like to give a more extended notice than we are permitted in this brief history of Scott County.
The Sacs and Foxes were provided with homes in Kansas, where they now reside. They are fast dwindling away; and but a remnant is left of the tribes of the Winnebagoes, the Chippewas, Pottawattamies, Ottawas, Menomonies, and other powerful bands that were in possession of all the country from the Lakes to the Missouri, at the termination of the American Revolution. Where the sad remnants of any of these tribes are found, they present but a faint resemblance of their former greatness and renown, or of their warlike and noble bearing. A few squalid families may be found loitering about the frontier towns, made beggars by the low and wasting vices of the white man.
But their destiny is written. The onward march of the Anglo Saxon race tells, with unerring prophecy, the fate of the Red Man! Already have his haunts been broken up in the quiet dells of the Rocky Mountains; already have the plains of Utah drunk the blood of this ill-fated and unhappy race, and ere long his retreating foot-prints will be found along the shores of the Pacific, hastening to the spirit land, the "Great Hereafter."
In 1833, Captain Benjamin W. Clark, a native of Virginia, who had settled and made some improvement on the Illinois shore, where the town of Andalusia now is, moved across the Mississippi and commenced a settlement upon the present site of the town of Buffalo, and was one of the first settlements on the soil of Scott County. He has been captain of a company of mounted Volunteer Rangers in the Black Hawk war, under General Dodge. Here, in Buffalo he made the first "claim," erected the first cabin, broke the first ground, planted the first corn, and raised the first produce in the county. His nearest neighbors at this time upon the Iowa shore, then called the "Black Hawk Purchase," were at Burlington and DuBuque.
The first stock of goods ever opened in the county, was at Buffalo, by a Mr. Lynde, of Stephenson, now Rock Island. The first orchard planted, and the first coal ever discovered and dug in this county, were by Captain Clark, in 1834. In the early part of the year 1835, he erected a public house, which is still standing, a large frame building two stories high, which, at that time, was considered a great enterprise. He brought the lumber from Cincinnati, at a cost of sixty dollars a thousand feet.
In 1836, Captain Clark laid out the town of Buffalo, it being the first town regularly laid
|out in this county. He
succeeded in building up quite a village; but there was much need of
flouring and limber mills, and in 1836 he erected, near the mouth of Duck
Creek, the first saw mill in the county, or in this part of Iowa; and
although it was on a small scale, and quite inadequate to the wants of the
settlers who began to seek homes beyond the Mississippi, yet it proved of
the greatest public benefit, and served the people for many years.
Capt. Clark claimed the honor of being the father of the first white child born in Scott County. This son, David H. Clark, now a resident of Polk County, in this State, was born in Buffalo, the 21st of April, 1834.
It will be seen, by reference to the map of Scott County, that it lacks a township in the south-west corner,) No. 78 N. R. 1 E.), of being square. As it has always been a mystery to many, particularly to the new comer, why this township should have been set off to Muscatine County, while it so naturally belonged to Scott, I will here explain.
In the first Territorial Legislature, which convened at Burlington, in December, 1837, an act was passed creating the boundaries of Scott County, as well as many others. Unfortunately for the well-being of many a town-site and village, this honorable body had too many speculators in town lots among its members. Dr. Reynolds, then living three miles above Bloomington, now Muscatine, being a member, had laid off a place called Geneva, upon which all his efforts for the county seat were centered. The manner and extent, in laying off the counties, were of course, to decide the seating of many a town site which had been made especially for the county seat. The object of Dr. Reynolds was to press the upper line of Muscatine County up the river as far as possible, so as to make Geneva central, and lessen the chances of Bloomington, which was an applicant for favor. The Davenport and Rockingham member, Alex. W. McGregor, Esq., knew that if the Scott County line ran too far down the river, Buffalo, then a rival and by far the most populous and important town above Burlington, would stand too a great a chance, so that a compromise was entered into, and this township was given to Muscatine County, which gives to our county its present ill-shaped appearance.
The survey of the public lands in Iowa, began in the autumn of 1836. Scott County survey was made by A. Bent & Son, from Michigan, U. S. deputies from the Surveyor General's office in Cincinnati. The surveys of this county were completed in March, 1837. It contains 280,516 acres.
Scott County was organized and named after Gen. Winfield Scott, at the session of the Legislature of Wisconsin Territory, which met at Burlington, in December, 1837. The same act provided for holding an election for the county seat, on the third Monday, in February, 1838. An act also was passed authorizing an election of county commissioners to be held at various places in the county, on the third Monday of February. This Board of Commissioners were to do all the business of the county, as Judge of Probate, and take care of all suits at law, etc. Major Frazer Wilson had received the first appointment of sheriff from the territorial Governor. The first Board of Commissioners elect were Benjamin F. Pike, Andrew W. Campbell, and Alfred Carter. On the 4th of July, 1838, Iowa was separated by act of Congress from the Territory of Wisconsin, and organized into a separate territory. Robert Lucas of Ohio was the first Governor who made the following appointments for Scott County: Willard Barrows, Notary Public; Ebenezer Cook, Judge of Probate; Adrian H. Davenport, Sheriff; Isaac A. Hedges and John Porter, Justices of the Peace. D. C. Eldridge received the appointment of postmaster. At the first election under the new Territorial Law, in September, W. W. Chapman was elected delegate to Congress; Jonathan W. Parker, Member of Council; J. A. Birchard and Laurel Summers, Representatives. Clinton County was then attached to Scott for Judicial purposes. The First District Court met in Davenport, in October, 1838, the Hon. Thomas S. Wilson, presiding. Several attorneys were admitted to the bar but little business was done. The fourth Monday of August, 1840, was fixed as the day for holding an election to decide the location of the county seat which had been a source of contest between Rockingham and Davenport for the preceding two years. This was the third election held and it resulted favorably to Davenport, and the long vexed question was put to rest; the citizens of Davenport building the court house and jail free of expense to
|the county. The county
was from this time rapidly settled, and Davenport are in proportion, until
in 1853, it had a population of 3,000.
The Mississippi & Missouri Railroad was organized in 1853, with a capital stock of six million dollars, the corporation to continue fifty years from date. On the first of September, the ceremony of breaking ground took place. It was a day full of interest to the people of Davenport. Many of the old citizens, who had for years been living on in hope and confidence, now began to feel all their most sanguine wishes gratified. The Rock Island & Chicago Road was near completion, and the first locomotive was soon expected to stand upon the banks of the Mississippi River, sending its shrill whistle across the mighty stream, and longing for its westward flight across the prairies of Iowa. The occasion was one of universal rejoicing. A great and important object had been accomplished for the city, county and State. As Mr. Le Claire,* who was selected to perform the ceremony of removing the first ground, came
|forward, pulling off
his coat and taking the wheelbarrow and spade, he was greeted by a most
tremendous and hearty cheer. The ceremony took place near the corner of
Fifth and Rock Island streets. A vote was taken in September in regard to
the county taking stock in the road. There were but three hundred and nine
votes cast, and out of these but two were against subscribing to the
stock. The amount taken by the city was seventy-five thousand ($75,000)
dollars, by the county, fifty thousand ($50,000) dollars, and by
individual subscription, one hundred thousand ($100,000) dollars. On the
22d of February, 1854, the long contemplated railroad from Chicago to Rock
Island was completed, and by it the Atlantic and Mississippi were united.
The Pioneer Settlers' Association of Scott County was organized in January, 1858, and its first Festival held at the "Burtis House," on the 22d of February. It was decidedly the greatest occasion of the season. Some time during the month of December, 1857, a call was made through the city papers for all the old settlers of Scott County who had become residents prior to the 31st of December, 1840, to meet at Le Claire Hall on the 23d of January, 1858. In answer to this call, about sixty were present. The meeting was called to order by D. C. Eldridge, Esq., one of the first settlers of the county, and E. Cook, Esq., was elected Chairman, and John L. Coffin, Secretary of the meeting. At this meeting, an Association was formed, a preamble and resolutions were passed, and Antoine Le Claire elected the first President. At a second meeting, on the 30th of January, a constitution and by-laws for the Society were presented, approved and adopted, and the Pioneer Settlers' Association was duly organized. The constitution provides for an annual Festival, to be held on the 22d of February of each year, the first of which came off, at the Burtis House, on the 22d of that month.
BRIDGE ACROSS THE MISSISSIPPI.--- On the 17th day of January, 1853, an act was passed by the General Assembly of the State of Illinois, entitled "An Act to incorporate a Bridge Company by the title therein named," of which Joseph E. Sheffield, Henry Farnham, J. A. Matteson and N. B. Judd were the sole incorporators. The Company was incorporated for the purpose of constructing a Railroad Bridge across the Mississippi River, connecting the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad, at Rock Island, Illinois, with the Mississippi & Missouri Railroad, at Davenport, Iowa. The capital stock was four hundred thousand dollars, raised on four hundred bonds of one thousand dollars each, the payment of which was guaranteed by the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad Company, and the Mississippi & Missouri Railroad Company. The work of location and construction commenced in the spring of 1854, under Henry Farnham as chief engineer, and John B. Jarvis as consulting engineer. B. B. Brayton, of Davenport, had charge of the work as resident engineer. The corner stone of the first pier, erected at said bridge, was laid in the presence of a large number of citizens of Rock Island and Davenport. Hon. Joseph Knox, Ebenezer Cook, George E. Hubbell and others made appropriate remarks on the occasion. By the spring of 1856, the entire work
|was completed, and
attracted the attention of travelers, historians and scholars from every
part of the country. It was deemed a great triumph of art, a noble
achievement of enterprise, to connect the Eastern and Western banks of
this old Father of Waters, with a continuous railway, over which the
products of Iowa might roll onward to Eastern markets, without delay.
This bridge is fifteen hundred and eighty feet long, and thirty feet high across the Mississippi to the Island, and four hundred and fifty feet across the slough, from the Island to the Illinois shore. The entire cost of both bridges, and the railroad connecting them across the Island, was about four hundred thousand dollars.
AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY.--- The first Agricultural Society ever formed in Scott County, was in January, 1840. Alexander W. McGregor, Esq., was chosen President; G. C. R. Mitchell, Esq., Vice President; John Forrest, Esq., Secretary, and A. Le Claire, Esq., Treasurer. At this early day but little interest was felt by the patrons of the Society, and it was suffered to go down. But little, if anything, was done for agricultural interests in the county until 1853, when in August of that year, two prominent farmers, H. M. Thomson, Esq., of Long Grove, and Eli S. Wing, Esq., called a meeting, and a new Society was organized, H. M. Thompson being elected President, James Thorington, Esq., Secretary, and Jno. R. Jackson, Treasurer. The second year of this Society (in 1854) the first Fair was held in Davenport having the same officers elected as in 1853.
In Jun, 1854, a Company was organized called the "Fair Ground Association of County, Iowa." This Company purchased eight acres of land lying near Duck Creek, some two miles from the city, at a cost of two hundred dollars per acre, enclosed about four acres with a tight board bench seven feet high, and built sheds and workshops for the second annual exhibition which took place the 24th and 25th of September, 1855. This exhibition was creditable to the Society and Scott County, showing an increasing interest of the people in agricultural pursuits.
DAVENPORT. -- Davenport Township has bluff lands that are somewhat broken near the river, until we reach a point three miles above Davenport, where it opens out into a beautiful prairie, called Pleasant Valley. The bluffs, or timber line, between the river and prairie, is from one to two miles wide, and was formerly well wooded.
By the "bluffs" of the Mississippi River, we do not mean here that they are an abrupt or perpendicular ascent, but a gentle rise from the river or bottom lands; not so steep but roads may be constructed up almost any part of them. The general elevation of these bluffs, or high lands, is about one hundred feet above the waters of the Mississippi and in many places of very gentle ascent, and covered with cultivated fields and gardens to their tops.
But Davenport Township differs from all others upon the river in the beautiful rolling prairies, immediately back from the river, after passing the bluffs. These prairies are not broken, as is common with those that approach so near the river, but are susceptible of the highest state of cultivation. Back of the city of Davenport, the slope from the top of the bluff to Duck Creek, covered as it is with gardens and fields, is one of uncommon beauty and richness, and the farms that now cover the prairie for seven or eight miles back cannot be excelled in any country. Duck Creek, which passes through the whole length of this township, rises in Blue Grass, some ten miles west of Davenport, and running east, empties into the Mississippi five miles above the city, its course being up stream, parallel with the Mississippi, and only one or two miles distant from it. It affords an ample supply of water for stock, and is never dry in summer, being fed by numerous springs along its course. Its Indian name is Si-ka-ma-que Sepo, or Gar creek, instead of Duck Creek.*
"The geological substratum, upon which the City of Davenport is located, is a white or light gray limestone, characterized by its fossils to belong to the Hamilton group of Devonian Rocks. The limestone crops out along the river banks of the upper portion of the city. It
presents, near East Davenport, perpendicular cliffs, varying in height from 15 to 25 feet above low water mar; thence occupying the bed of the Mississippi River, it forms the lowest chain in the course of the Rock Island rapids, re-appearing again, similar in character, on
Rock Island proper and the corresponding left bank of the Mississippi. The shores of both banks of the river are here strewn with water-worn pebbles of this white limestone, variously mixed with smaller fragments of transported igneous rocks, including agates, cornelian, and numerous forms of porphyry.
This bed of limestone underlies the whole city of Davenport, appearing on or near the surface at its southeastern border, extending from East Davenport to Perry Street. Thence to the western limits of the city it is more deeply covered under alluvial deposits. This rock, together with its alluvial covering, forms a gentle ascending slope from the river bank, to the irregular line of bluff hills, which here bound the valley of the Mississippi. Where this rock is largely developed in steep mural faces, as adjoining and just below East Davenport, the bluffs approach near the river bank, leaving little or no space for bottom levels. This gives a somewhat rugged character to this locality. In following the western course of the river, the limestone dips lower beneath the surface, and the bluffs recede, thus giving greater width to the valley portion of the city towards its western border.
The bluff formation, attaining an average elevation of 150 feet above the river level, presents on its outer edge abrupt slopes and rounded crests, commanding extensive views of the river above and below. Extending back from the river, this formation is cut up with deeply trenched valleys, variously branched and thence emerging on the upland prairie beyond.
These several features collectively, combine a pleasing variety of external scenery, and offer grading facilities easy of application, and well suited for the purposes of drainage.
Referring more particularly to the special characters of the formation above alluded to, we notice the underlying limestone strata to be composed of a series of distinct beds, varying considerably in structure and composition.
First of these in a descending order is an irregular shaly bed, containing the greater part of the fossils which serve to characterize this formation. These strata are more largely developed to the south and west, being the common surface rock on both sides of the Mississippi some eight or ten miles below the city, at and adjoining the town of New Buffalo. In this latter locality the rocks are replete with fossils easily procured, and in fine state of preservation. Within the limits of the city this bed is exposed at only one locality, formerly known as Le Claire quarry, now foot of Farnham Street. The rock here crops out just at the foot of the bluff, at an elevation of about forty feet above the river level.
To this fossil ferrous bed succeeds the more common surface, consisting of a white or light colored rock of slate texture, weathering on exposure into thin irregular fragments. This character of rock shows a variable thickness of from five to twenty feet, and is well exhibited at the lower point of Rock Island, forming the greater part of the exposed rocky cliff on which old Fort Armstrong was built.
To this slately rock succeeds a more compact bed, mostly massive and heavy bedded. Its texture varies from that of a close irregular breccia of light color, and exceedingly brittle to loose strata of blue argillaceous rock, readily disintegrating on exposure to the atmosphere. Intermediate to these we generally notice several seams of a more earthy gray rock occurring in even beds, and frequently containing masses of fibrous gypsum. These latter seams furnish the best quality of building rock in this vicinity, being in fact the only rock suitable for dressing under the hammer. This seam is of very variable thickness, being in some places entirely wanting, while in adjoining localities it attains a thickness of several feet. The main bulk of the limestone quarries, being made up of the heavy bedded and irregular seamed rock, is only suitable for foundations or rough ashlars work.
Aside from building purposes this limestone contains no minerals of any economical value, occasional spangles of sulphurate of zinc or moderate sized crystals of calcareous spar being the only minerals worthy of note. The slatey surface layers are employed for conversion into quick-lime, but the product is of rather indifferent quality.
One peculiarity of this limestone formation deserves more than a passing notice, both from its singularity and also its connection with the subterranean distribution of water. This peculiarity consists in the frequent occurrences of fissures filled in with clay, evidently in the perpendicular face of quarries, here they are seen interrupting the regular series of rock strata with masses of grayish, very adhesive clay. These seams vary in width from a few inches to several feet, and are frequently bottle-shaped, narrowing above and bulging out below. Professor ...... cont. on page 333.
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