|.As stated in a
chapter, the Indian title to the lands of the Black Hawk purchase
expired on June I, 1833. A few white men had settled in what is now Lee
County prior to that date. In the fourscore years since the white man
acquired full title to the land that scanty population has grown to
more than thirty thousand intelligent, industrious and cultured people.
Few men are now living who witnessed the beginning of development in
Lee County. The establishment of schools, the organization of churches,
the building of highways, the advent of the railroad, the founding and
growth of cities, are all within the memory of the few remaining
Some fifty years after the first white man established his residence in
Lee County, a few old timers, in discussing the events that had
occurred during the preceding half century, decided upon organizing
Old Settlers' Association
Accordingly an informal meeting was held at the courthouse in Fort
Madison on the evening of January 5, 1871, with Philip Viele presiding,
and R. W. Pitman, secretary. The following resolutions were
"Resolved, That this meeting be adjourned to meet at this place on the
13th day of April next, for the purpose of perfecting said
"Resolved, That all old settlers present who were inhab : tants of the
county on the 1st day of July, 1840, be invited to sign their names,
and the time of their coming into the county, to a roll."
Thirty-three men signed the roll at that meeting, viz. : James W.
Campbell, Alexander and James Cruikshank, R. W. and Lewis G. Pitman, J.
C. Parrott, Samuel Paschall, John G. Kennedy, E. S. McCulloch, Silas D.
Hustead, John H. Douglass, J. A. Casey, Elias Overton, Peter Miller,
Jacob Abel, Jacob Vandyke, Cromwell Wilson, Enoch G. Wilson, Hazen
Wilson, James Caldwell, Philip Viele, George L. Coleman, Philotus
Cowles, Daniel F. Miller, Robert A. Russell, J. E. Marsell, Isaiah
Hale, Robert McFarland, James T. Blair, Ferdinand Kiel, George B.
Leidy, Elkanah Perdew and R. McHenry.
These men may be recorded as the "Charter Members" of the Lee County
Pioneers and Old Settlers 1 Association. At the meeting on April 13,
1871, a vice president was elected from each of the six- teen
townships, as follows: Cedar, D. S. Bell; Charleston, John Cassady;
Denmark, Curtis Shedd; Des Moines, Nicholas Sargent; Franklin,
Alexander Cruikshank; Green Bay, John Morgan; Har- rison, A. Anderson;
Jackson, Guy Wells; Jefferson, William Skinner; Madison, Peter Miller;
Marion, B. Holtkamp; Montrose, G. Hamilton; Pleasant Ridge, J. A.
Casey; Van Buren, John Herron; Washington, D. McCready; West Point, R.
A constitution and by-laws was prepared by a committee, consisting of
D. F. Miller, Robert McFarland and E. S. McCulloch, and July 4, 1 871,
was selected as the date for the first annual reunion of Lee County old
settlers. That meeting was held on the fair grounds at Fort Madison, on
the date above named. Concerning the gathering, the Keokuk Gate City,
which gave a full report of the meeting, said:
"From all parts of Lee County came up the pioneers, their wives and
children. It was a gala day for them. This retrospective view of the
halcyon days, and the sorrowful, weary, toilsome ones, would alike
bring pleasant recollections to them as they recounted their hopes,
their trials and their victories, for had they not performed their duty
as God had best given them the knowledge, and according to their
several abilities? Venerable men were there, whose white hairs and
trembling limbs gave token of a lengthy pilgrimage. More than a
generation had passed since, in early manhood, they crossed the
Mississippi to carry the blessings of civilization into the wilds of
Iowa. With strong arms and true hearts, they had battled with the
perils of border life and conquered. The wilderness and solitary place
today, as the result of their labors, buds and blossoms as the rose. *
All honor to the pioneers, the heroes and heroines of the past. Future
generations will arise and call them blessed. It was appropriate that
the Fourth of July, our national holiday, should be chosen for such a
McCoun, J. W.
Fort Madison Pioneers
Judge Philip Vide, who had been selected as the orator of the day, was
unable to appear, and the principal address was given by Daniel F.
Miller of Keokuk. It was not a long address, but was in every way in
keeping with the occasion. Following his address came a basket-dinner,
then the reading of the Declaration of Independence, and an address by
Gen. A. C. Dodge of Burlington. Col. William Patterson was then elected
president of the association for the ensuing year.
For several years the Old Settlers' Association held its meetings at
different places in the county. In 1872 the reunion was held at Pitman
Grove, near West Point. At that meeting Daniel F. Miller was elected
president of the association. The exercises on that occasion were
similar to those of the preceding year, the principal address being
delivered by Judge Joseph M. Casey. In 1873 the reunion was held at
Sargent's Grove, on the Des. Moines Valley Railroad, thirteen miles
west of Keokuk. On this occasion the program was varied somewhat by the
introduction of personal reminiscences and anecdotes of old times.
Isaac R. Campbell mentioned the fact that some years before he had
killed a bear almost on the identical spot where the meeting was then
in session. And John Hiner, a pioneer butcher of Keokuk, amused the
gathering by telling of two cub bears he bought for $25, and about a
year later took them to St. Louis to offer them for sale, having
previously received an offer of $100 for them. Upon reaching St. Louis
he found his prospective customer out of the city, and while waiting
for his return paused near a millinery shop. A mischievous boy got hold
of a hoop-pole, and, as Mr. Hiner expressed it, stirred up the animals.
The bears became excited and tore down the awning in front of the
millinery shop, but the boy was having fun, and Mr. Hiner was so busy
in trying to control the bears that he could not compel the urchin to
desist. Just in this emergency a man came along and offered $5 for the
two bears, which Mr. Hiner promptly accepted. As he was paying the
money and turning to get away, he noticed Col. William Patterson of Lee
County leaning against a lamp-post and laughing. Hiner says he lost his
temper then, but was glad to get away without being arrested for the
destruction of the awning.
Other places where meetings were held during the early years of the
association were at the old Keokuk fair grounds and at Warren Station,
in Harrison Township. In more recent years some meetings were held at
Donnellson. After this migratory existence, which continued for several
years, the upper public square in the City of Fort Madison was selected
as the place for holding the annual reunions, and this square has
become known as "Old Settlers' Park." The reunion of 1914 was held on
September 17th, having been postponed one week on account of bad
weather. The feature of this meeting was the flight of an aeroplane, in
which several citizens were carried up at different times by the
aviator. Hon. J. D. M. Hamilton of Topeka, Kansas, a native of Lee
County, had been selected as the orator of the day, but was unable to
attend on account of illness. Mr. Hamilton died a few days after the
meeting, and his remains were brought to Fort Madison for burial.
Through the work of the Old Settlers' Association many interesting
facts in early history and many relics of pioneer days have been
preserved from oblivion and destruction. In connection with this
association, it is deemed appropriate to mention a few of those who
assisted in its formation:
James C. Parrott was born in Talbot County, Maryland, May 21, 181 1.
When twenty years of age he went to Wheeling, West Virginia, where he
joined the First United States Dragoons, and in 1834 was ordered west
to subdue hostile Indians. In September of that year he went into
winter quarters at Fort Des Moines, where Montrose now stands, and,
liking the country, became a resident upon the expiration of his
military services. In 1861 he raised a company in Keokuk and entered
the army as captain of Company E, Seventh Iowa Infantry. He was
promoted to colonel of the regiment, and at the close of the war was
made brevet brigadier-general. In 1867 ne was appointed postmaster at
Keokuk and was reappointed four years later. Colonel Parrott was one of
the public- spirited, influential citizens of Lee County, and he is
still well remembered by old residents. His death occurred on May 17,
Alexander Cruikshank was born on February 2, 1805, in Norway, though
his father was a native of Scotland, a millwright by trade, who went to
Norway about 1787. At the age of twelve years, Alexander went to sea,
and during the next seven years sailed under the flags of England,
Prussia, the United States, Russia and Mexico. In 1832, in company with
a shipmate, John Thompson, he landed in New York, and after visiting
various parts of the country, located the following year in Hancock
County, Illinois. In 1834 he married Keziah Perkins, and shortly after
his marriage came to Lee County. He was the first white settler in
Pleasant Ridge Township. but in the fall of 1834 sold his claim there
and removed to what is now Marion Township. Still later he removed to
Franklin Town- ship, where he continued to live for many years. Some of
his descendants are still living in the county. James W. Campbell was a
son of Isaac R. Campbell, who settled at Nashville (now Galland) in
1830. James W. Campbell attended the first school ever taught in Lee
County, where he resided practically all his life. In his address to
the old settlers' meeting in 1875 he recounted many interesting
incidents of early days, and his address was afterwards printed and
William Patterson, although not one of the original thirty-three who
signed the roll, but was the second president of the association, was
born in Virginia, May 9, 1802. Four years later his father removed to
Kentucky, and later to Missouri and Illinois. In 1837 Mr. Patterson
came to Lee County, first locating at West Point. In 1846 he removed to
Keokuk and engaged in the mercantile and pork-packing business. He was
a member of the first Territorial Legislature of Iowa and was
influential in securing a settlement of the boundary line dispute
between Iowa and Missouri. He was commissioned colonel of militia by
Governor Lucas and authorized to raise a regiment to resist any
invasion from Missouri. He after- wards served several terms in the
Legislature, was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1857, was
three times mayor of Keokuk, postmaster of that city for several years,
and was otherwise identified with the political affairs of the
Elias Overton, who settled in Marion Township in 1836, was a native of
Hartford County, North Carolina, where he was born on January 12, 1807.
Upon coming to Lee County he lived in a rail pen until a cabin could be
erected. He afterwards became one of the large land owners of Marion
Exum S. McCulloch was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, July 3, 1812,
and removed with his parents to Illinois in 1826. He served in the
Black Hawk war, and in the fall of 1835 came to Lee County and selected
a claim. He returned to Illinois, but the next spring, in company with
two brothers and his parents, came back and took possession of the
land, being one of the earliest settlers of Harrison Township. He
served several terms in both houses of the Legislature, and assisted in
the revision of the Iowa Code. His death occurred on April 5,
R. W. Pitman, who was secretary of the meeting at which the Old
Settlers' Association was organized, was one of the pioneers of West
Point Township. He was born in Kentucky, April 27, 1827, and came to
Lee County with his parents when about nine years of age, making the
trip from Kentucky with an ox team. They crossed the Mississippi River,
nearly opposite the site of the penitentiary at Fort Madison, on April
20, 1835. Although his opportunities to acquire an education were
limited, Mr. Pitman, by self-study, became a well informed man. He was
noted for his generosity and public spirit, and was active in promoting
the interests of the Lee County Agricultural Society.
Peter Miller, another "charter member 11 of the Old Settlers 1
Association, was born in Maryland, March 9, 1808. After a residence of
several years in Ohio, Mr. Miller came to Iowa in the fall of 1836 and
soon afterward started the first blacksmith shop in Fort Madison. He
was elected the first county treasurer of Lee County in 1838; was
appointed postmaster the next year, and served three years as mayor of
Fort Madison shortly after the town was incorporated. The latter years
of his life he was engaged in the lumber and mercantile business.
Nicholas Sargent, a native of Essex County, Massachusetts, came to Lee
County in 1837, when he was about forty-two years of age. Fie settled
near the present Village of Vincennes, where he cleared and developed a
fine farm. He had thirteen children, eight of whom grew to maturity,
and some of the family are still living in the county.
Two of the thirty-three men who signed the original old settlers 1 roll
were natives of Lee County. John H. Douglass, a grandson of General
Knapp, the founder of Fort Madison, was born in that town on June 20,
1836, and James Cruikshank, a son of Alexander, was born in Marion
Township on May 7, 1835.
It is not within the province of this history to discuss the early
career of the Mormon Church. On May 9, 1839, Dr. Isaac Galland
presented Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, a tract of land where the
Town of Nauvoo, Illinois, is now situated. Smith laid out the Town of
Nauvoo under a charter that conferred extravagant and dangerous powers
upon the city officials. At that time the Mormons were a political
power in Illinois, and both the leading parties were afraid to
antagonize them. Under the circumstances Nauvoo became a breeding place
for outlaws, and probably the true story of all the outrages committed
by these outlaws will never be told. Fugitives from justice sought
refuge there, and if anyone should be arrested witnesses could always
be found to prove an "alibi."
Nauvoo being just across the river from Lee County, there was a large
number of that faith, or sympathizers called "Jack Mormons,' 1 who
lived on the west side of the river. Among these was Bill Hickman,
whose home was near the present village of Galland.He was a member of
the famous Danite band, which it has been said "was composed of the
most desperate members of the church- men whose very souls were steeped
in blood, and who would scruple at nothing commanded by their more
desperate leader, the prophet."
Hickman was at one time captain of this band. He owned a fast horse,
and scarcely a public meeting was held at which he was not present,
carefully listening to everything he could overhear. He and his
followers appropriated the property of anti-Mormons, or Gentiles,
without compunction, and where such property could not be taken by
stealth they took it by force. Hickman was indicted for stealing meat
from an old man named John Wright and sent to the Lee County jail, but
was never tried.
The Mormon outrages in Lee County culminated on May 10, 1845, in the
murder of John Miller, a Mennonite preacher, and his son-in-law, Henry
Leisy, who lived about three miles southwest of West Point. A cap found
on the premises was recognized as belonging to one William Hodges, and
upon this clue William and Stephen Hodges, two brothers living near
Keokuk, were arrested. On May 15, 1845, five days after the murder, the
Hodges brothers and Thomas Brown were indicted by the grand jury at
West Point for the murder of John Miller, by stabbing him, on the
Saturday previous. The case was finally tried in Burlington, a change
of venue having been granted, the jury returning a verdict of guilty in
the case of William and Stephen Hodges, and they were hanged by the
sheriff" of Des Moines County on July 15, 1845.
The excitement following the murder of these two inoffensive citizens
was increased by the murder of Colonel Davenport on July 4, 1845, at
Rock Island, Illinois, and resulted in the organization of the people
into a band of vigilantes, which commenced a war of extermination. It
is not certain that any citizens of Lee County belonged to these
vigilantes, but it is certain that many of the people on this side of
the river sympathized with that organization. Public indignation in Lee
County found expression in a meeting on October 16, 1845, at which
stringent resolutions denouncing the cruelties of the Mormons were
adopted, and an Anti-Mormon ticket was nominated. Judge Edward
Johnstone was the principal speaker at the meeting, and one of the
resolutions was that the Mormons should be expelled from the country —
"peaceably if possible, forcibly if necessary."
The Anti-Mormon candidates for the Legislature were Col. William
Patterson and Capt. Jesse B. Browne. An address to the voters and
taxpayers of Lee County was issued immediately after the meeting,
calling attention to the merits of these candidates, their pledge to
use every effort to expel the Mormons, and asking the support of the
The Anti-Mormon ticket was elected by a substantial majority, and the
Mormons, seeing the handwriting on the wall, began making their
preparations to leave the country. After the real Mormons were gone
their sympathizers, still remaining in the community, continued horse
stealing, petty larceny and counterfeiting, but the assassination of
reputable citizens was ended. One incident that made the expulsion of
the Mormons easier was the fact that Prophet Joseph Smith had been
assassinated on June 27, 1844, while confined in the jail at Carthage,
Illinois, and the loss of the leader had left the members of the Mormon
Church in a somewhat disorganized condition.
Among the noted characters of early days in Lee County was Matthew
Spurlock, generally referred to as "Old Spurlock, the counterfeiter."
He was a native of Virginia, but spent his early manhood in Eastern
Kentucky, where he first became known as a counterfeiter. From Kentucky
he went to Alabama, but got into trouble in that state, and some time
in the '30s located at Augusta, on the Skunk River. There is no
positive evidence that Spurlock was ever engaged in the actual
production of counterfeit money, but the reputation he had won he
turned to good account. He nearly always carried some bright, new
silver coins, which he exhibited as samples of his own make, and when
he found some one desirous of making some "easy money" offered to sell
him counterfeit coins at greatly reduced prices. After the deal was
made, some friend of Spurlock would impersonate an officer of the law
and frighten the purchaser out of the community. It is said that in one
case Spurlock secured $1,500 from a Burlington man by this method. The
money received through this channel rarely did him much good, as he was
an inveterate gambler and nearly always lost. After a residence of some
years at Augusta, he removed to Schuyler County, Illinois, where he
lived until about 1843, when he went to Jefferson County, Iowa, and
died there in 1858. Some of his children continued to live in that
county and became good citizens.
In the first constitutional convention, which met at Iowa City on
October 7, 1844, and continued in session until the 1st of the
following month, Lee County was represented by Charles Staley,
Alexander Kerr, David Galland, Calvin J. Price, James Marsh, John
Thompson, Henry N. Salmon and O. S. X. Peck. The constitution framed by
this convention was rejected by the people at an election held on
August 4, 1845.
The second convention met at Iowa City on May 4, 1846. The Lee County
delegates in that convention were David Galland, Josiah Kent, George
Berry, Enos Lowe, Shephard Leffler and George Bowie. This convention
adjourned on May 19, 1846, and the constitution was ratified by the
people on August 3, 1846, by a majority of 456.
Under this constitution Iowa was admitted as a state. It remained the
organic law of the state until 1857, when the present constitution was
adopted by a convention which assembled at Iowa City on January 13th,
and remained in session until March 5th. Lee County was represented in
that convention by Edward Johnstone and William Patterson, and the
district composed of Lee and Van Buren counties was represented by
Flood and Storm
Fortunately for the people of Lee County, the greater portion of the
surface lies high enough that no flood of the Mississippi River has
ever wrought great damage to property, yet it may be of interest to
know at least the dates when some of the great floods have
The old French archives at Kaskaskia, Illinois, contain mention of a
great flood of 1724, but all accounts of the event are based on Indian
tradition and are not altogether reliable. The same archives contain an
account of a great flood in 1772, and mention the fact that the crops
around Kaskaskia were completely destroyed by the flood of 1785.
The years of 181 1, 1824 and 1826 are noted in history as times when
the great Father of Waters wrought considerable damage along its
course, but the first great flood of which there is any authentic
account regarding Lee County occurred late in the winter of 1832-33.
That winter was one of unusual severity, ice forming in the Mississippi
more than thirty inches in thickness. It was broken by a sudden rise in
the river, and at the foot of the Des Moines rapids, in front of
Keokuk, a great ice gorge was formed. An elm tree three feet in
diameter standing on the levee was cut more than half off by the
floating ice, about four hundred cords of wood were carried away, and a
large quantity of pig lead piled up at the boat landing was buried
under the mud and not recovered until the fol- lowing June. Several
steamboats were seriously damaged by floating ice and some smaller
craft were completely wrecked.
The great flood of 1844 is still remembered by a few of the oldest
residents. Nearly all the streams in the county overflowed their banks,
and again there was an ice gorge at the foot of the rapids, where the
ice was piled up to a height of more than thirty feet. Considerable
damage was done to river shipping, and several weeks passed before all
the ice melted away.
The flood in the spring of 191 2 attracted more attention than any
preceding one, for the reason that the great dam at Keokuk was then in
process of construction and many expected to see it carried away. The
winter of 191 1-12 was severe, and the ice in the river was much
thicker than usual. About 2 P. M. on Sunday, March 24, the ice broke
and came over the rapids in huge volume. It piled up against the
coffer-dam to a height of thirty feet or more above the top of that
structure, and the banks of the river were crowded with people,
expecting every minute to see the destruction of the work, in which
they were happily disappointed. The coffer-dam resisted the pressure,
but a small army of men were on guard day and night during the next two
weeks to protect the work against the high waters. On April 7th a storm
came down the river, which threatened to complete the destruction the
ice had failed to accomplish. Several cars loaded with sand, ready for
just such an emergency, were rushed to the scene, and more than five
thousand sacks of sand were piled on the coffer-dam, thus enabling it
to resist the action of the wind and water.
One of the greatest storms in the history of Lee County was the cyclone
of July 4, 1876, which did considerable damage. Probably the greatest
one instance of destruction wrought by this storm was the unroofing of
St. Mary's Church at Fort Madison, and otherwise damaging the building.
In the chapters devoted to literature, the bench and bar, and the
medical profession, extended mention is made of a number of men and
women of Lee County who have won distinction in those professions. The
county has likewise been well represented in politics and diplomatic
In national politics Samuel F. Miller served for many years as one of
the judges of the Supreme Court. John N. Irwin, who was elected mayor
of Keokuk in 1876, was appointed territorial governor of Idaho in 1883,
by President Arthur; governor of Arizona in 1 890, by President
Harrison ; and on April 1 8, 1 899, was appointed minister to Portugal
by President McKinley. William W. Belknap served as secretary of war
under President Grant, and George W. McCrary in the same office under
President Hayes. John B. Howell, the veteran journalist, who was born
in New Jersey, July 4, 1816, came to Lee County in the spring of 1849.
He was editor of the Keokuk Gate City until 1870, when he was elected
United States senator to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of
Hon. James W. Grimes of Burlington. In the lower house of Congress the
First Iowa District was represented by Daniel F. Miller, from 1849 to 1
85 1 ; by Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, from 1857 t0 ^63; by George W.
McCrary, from 1869 to 1877, an d by Samuel M. Clarke, from 1895 to
1899. Mr. Clarke was a son of Rev. Samuel Clarke, the Methodist
minister who held the first quarterly meeting in Keokuk, and was
associated with Mr. Howell for some time on the editorial staff and
later as part owner of the Gate City. In 1906 Charles A. Kennedy of
Montrose was elected congressman from the First Dis- trict, and was
reelected at each succeeding election, still holding the office in 19
In the political affairs of the state, Ralph P. Lowe served as governor
and judge of the Supreme Court; Joseph M. Beck and John F. Kinney also
served upon the Supreme bench of the state. Jesse B. Browne, one of the
pioneer lawyers, who came to Lee County in command of a company of
Dragoons stationed at old Fort Des Moines, was the speaker of the house
in the First State Legislature in 1846. William A. Hornish was state
printer from January to May, 1853, when he resigned. Daniel S. Lee
became adjutant-general on April 3, 1851, and served for four years.
This office was also occupied by Noble Warwick, a Lee County man, from
June 27, 1878, to the following August, when he resigned. James D. Eads
was superintendent of public instruction from 1854 t0 I %57- And Drs.
J. A. Scroggs and Walton Bancroft, of Keokuk, each served for some time
on the state board of health.
In all walks of life, whether as farmer, artisan, merchant,
professional man or public official, the sons of Lee County have, as a
rule, given to their calling their best endeavors and have left behind
them reputations for character and ability that reflect credit upon
themselves and the county in which they lived.
More than a century has passed since Louis Honore Tesson, in 1796,
established the first white man's domicile within the confines of what
is now Lee County, and more than three-quarters of a century since the
county was organized by the Territorial Legislature of Wisconsin in
1836. The growth in population, as shown by the United States since
1840, the first official census after the county was organized, is
shown in the following table:
From this table it will be seen that the greatest proportionate growth
during any decade was from 1840 to 1850, when the increase in
population was over two hundred per cent. Twice in the history of the
county there has been a decline between the years of the census — once
from 1870 to 1880 and again from 1900 to 1910. The decrease in
population during these periods is due chiefly to the opening of new
lands in other parts of the country, which offered inducements to men
of moderate means to acquire homes. This change has effected all parts
of the county about alike, A as may be seen by a comparison of the last
three official census reports relating to the population, given by
townships, to wit:
In the above table the cities of Keokuk and Fort Madison, and the
incorporated towns, are included in the townships in which they are
situated. Notwithstanding the decrease in population, the wealth of the
county has not fallen off, but statistics concerning the various
industries indicate a steady and substantial increase in the amount of
capital invested and the value of the output of farms and factories,
and more money was expended for schools and road buildings in 1913 than
in any preceding year of the county's history.
In the foregoing chapters a conscientious effort has been made to show
the progress of Lee County along industrial, educational, professional
and religious lines, as well as her part in the military and political
affairs of the state and nation. As a fitting conclusion to this work,
the following list of the principal events leading up to the settlement
and organization of the county, or having some bearing upon its more
recent history, has been compiled for ready reference. At first glance,
some of these events may seem remotely connected with the county's
story, but each one wielded an influence in shaping its destiny.
June 21, 1673. Marquette and Joliet landed near Montrose, on their
voyage down the Mississippi, and were the first white men to set foot
upon Iowa soil.
, 1796. Louis Honore Tesson settled where the Town of Montrose now
stands, on a grant of land given him by the Spanish Government of
April 30, 1803. Treaty of Paris, by which Napoleon transferred the
French Province of Louisiana to the United States. The present State of
Iowa was included in the territory thus acquired.
October 31, 1803. Congress passed an act authorizing the President to
take possession of the region purchased from France and establish a
temporary government therein.
October 1, 1804. Louisiana divided into the Territory of Orleans and
District of Louisiana. That part of the new purchase now comprising the
State of Iowa was by this act made subject to the Territory of Indiana.
January 11, 1805. Territory of Michigan established by act of Congress.
Later in the year Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike passed up the Mississippi
River, on an exploring expedition to its headwaters, and on August 21st held a council with the Indians about where Montrose
is now situated.
1807. Iowa made a part of the Territory of Illinois.
September, 1808. Fort Madison established by Lieutenant Kingsley.
1812. Territory of Missouri established and Iowa included in the new
September 3, 1813. Fort Madison evacuated and burned.
September 13, 1815. Treaty of peace with the Sac and Fox Indians of
Iowa concluded at Portage des Sioux.
1820. Dr. Samuel C. Muir built the first house in Keokuk. In this
year Lemoliese and Blondeau, French traders, established posts on the
Mississippi River in Lee County.
August 4, 1824. The Half-Breed Tract, embracing the southern half of
the present County of Lee, established by treaty with the Sacs and
July 1$, 1830. Treaty establishing the "Neutral Ground' 1 between the
Sacs and Foxes on the south and the Sioux Indians on the north.
1832. Capt. James White made a claim and built a house on the site of
the present Town of Montrose.
August 2, 1832. Last battle of the Black Hawk war, in which the Indians
September 21, 1832. A treaty concluded at Davenport, Iowa, by which the
Sacs and Foxes ceded to the United States the strip forty miles wide
across Eastern Iowa known as the "Black Hawk Purchase."
June I, 1833. Title to the lands of the Black Hawk Purchase becomes
fully vested in the United States. In this year the first post office
in Iowa was established at Dubuque.
June 28, 1834. President Jackson approved the act attaching Iowa to the
Territory of Michigan.
September, 1834. The Legislature of Michigan created two counties —
Dubuque and Des Moines — in what is now the State of Iowa. Lee County
was a part of Des Moines.
1834. In this year Fort Des Moines was established by Lieutenant
Crosman, where the Town of Montrose is now situated.
April 20, 1836. President Jackson approved the act of Congress creating
the Territory of Wisconsin, which included all the present State of
Iowa, the act to take effect on July 4, 1836.
May 11, 1836. The Dubuque Visitor, the first newspaper ever published
in Iowa, made its appearance, with John King as editor.
December 7, 1836. Lee County established by an act of the Wisconsin
March 27, 1837. First term of the District Court in Lee County began,
with Judge David Irvin presiding.
April 3, 1837. First election for county officers in Lee County.
April 17, 1837. First meeting of the board of county supervisors held
in Fort Madison.
January 19, 1838. Special act passed by the Wisconsin Legislature for
the incorporation of the Town of Fort Madison.
May 7, 1838. First election for president and board of trustees of Fort
Madison — Philip Viele elected president.
October 3, 1838. Chief Black Hawk died.
November, 1838. First sale of Government lands in the Black Hawk
Purchase conducted at Burlington. A large number of Lee County settlers
attended the sale.
January 25, 1839. Governor Lucas approved the act of the Iowa
Legislature locating the penitentiary at Fort Madison.
March 9, 1840. The commissioners appointed by the Legislature to locate
the permanent seat of justice of Lee County reported in favor of
February 12, 1842. The Legislature of Iowa passed an act grant- ing the
Town of Fort Madison a new charter.
April 4, 1842. Isaac R. Atlee elected the first mayor of Fort Madison.
September 8-10, 1842. First agricultural fair in Lee County held near
March 20, 1843. The county seat of Lee County located at West Point by
a board of three commissioners appointed by the Legislature.
June 27, 1844. Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, killed while a
prisoner in the jail at Carthage, Illinois. The event created great
excitement in Lee County.
August 4, 1845. An election held to decide the county seat question.
Fort Madison made the permanent seat of Government by a decisive
1846. First bank in Lee County opened at Keokuk by George C. Anderson.
December 28, 1846. Iowa admitted into the Union as a state.
December 13, 1847. Keokuk incorporated and the incorporation was
approved on February 23, 1848.
January 3, 1848. First election for city officers in Keokuk. William A.
Clark elected mayor.
April 1, 1855. Two hundred Mormons from England and Wales reached
Keokuk on their way to Salt Lake. Two hundred more arrived ten days
later. They remained in camp for several days at Keokuk before starting on their journey across the plains.
, 1857. The cities of Keokuk and Fort Madison connected by a line of
April 17, 1861. The first "war meeting" in Lee County held in Keokuk.
April 18, 1 861. A large and enthusiastic "war meeting" at Fort Madison.
May 14, 1 861. The First Iowa Regiment mustered into the United States
service at Keokuk for three months. Lee County was represented in four
companies of this regiment.
August 5, 1 861. Battle of Athens, Missouri, near the Iowa border. Some
Iowa men were engaged.
February 20, 1868. The first artesian water in Lee County struck at
Keokuk in a well drilled by Joseph Kurtz at his brewery on the plank
July 4, 1870. A fire in Keokuk destroyed several buildings at the
corner of Fourth and Blondeau streets.
January, 1871. First railroad completed across the state to Council
January 14, 1871. One of the greatest snow storms that ever occurred in
Iowa. The snow drifted to the depth of six or eight feet in places and
travel was impeded for several days.
April 13, 1871. Lee County Old Settlers' Association organized. Annual
reunions have been held since that date.
April 19, 1871. The first railroad train crossed the Mississippi River
on the bridge at Keokuk.
July 4, 1881. Corner-stone of the Keokuk Public Library laid bv the
Grand Master of Iowa Masons.
December 7, 1887. The first train of cars crossed the Mississippi on
the bridge at Fort Madison.
February 27, 1888. Commencement of the big strike on the Chicago,
Burlington & Quincy Railroad lines.
August 28, 1890. First electric street car appeared in Keokuk.
1893. The Cattermole Memorial Library in Fort Madison opened to the public.
1895. Electric street cars introduced in Fort Madison. The street railway in Fort Madison was completed in July,
1887, and cars were drawn by mules until 1895.
May 17, 1898. The Fiftieth Iowa Infantry mustered into the United
States service at Des Moines for the Spanish-American war. Lee County
was represented in Companies A, F and L.
October 1, 1907. President Roosevelt visited Keokuk.
November 5, 1912. Presidential election. Woodrow Wilson, the democratic
candidate, carried Lee County by 1,662 plurality.
August 25-28, 1913. The big dam across the Mississippi River at Keokuk
formally opened with a big celebration. Thousands of people came to
witness the ceremonies.
June 1, 1914. The new post office building at Fort Madison opened to
Postscript - In Lieu of a Preface
In bidding the reader good-by, the editors and publishers of this work
desire to say that every effort has been made to give to the people of
Lee County an authentic and comprehensive history —authentic, because
so far as possible the officials' records have been used as sources of
information, and comprehensive, because, it is believed, no important
event in the county's history has been neglected.
The work has been one involving great care and labor and much of the
credit is due to old residents for their ready and willing cooperation
in the collection of data regarding events of by-gone years.
The editors and members of the Advisory Board take this opportunity to
express their obligations to the county officials and their assistants,
and especially to thank the librarians of the Cattermole Memorial
Library at Fort Madison and the Keokuk Public Library, for their
uniform courtesies while the work was in course of preparation.
of Lee County,
Iowa, by Dr. S. W. Moorhead and Nelson C. Roberts, 1914