Herman A. Mueller
1856 or 1857 there came from Greene County, Pennsylvania, William
Heaton, a very eccentric man, who who always did things very
different from anyone else. Later, he became a prominent citizen
and a leader of the Greenback Party in Madison County during its
palmy days, whose principles he defended everywhere and all the
time with all the power of speech at his command. Mr. Heaton was
familiarly called "Uncle Billy" Heaton and was well
known in this part of the state. He was an idealist and a dreamer.
He bought large tracts of the best prairie land in Lee Township,
and conceived in his mind of building a town and establishing a
seminary on the broad prairie between Badger Creek and North
He laid out a town in the
Northeast Township in Madison County, Iowa, in the southeast part
of the northwest quarter of Section Twenty Seven (27), and called
it Grandview. The site at present is owned by John McLaughlin. The
town was surveyed by J. M. Laird October 5, 1857, and was deeded
to future lot holders April 14, 1858, which deed was approved by
the County Judge, John Pitzer, and recorded June 1, 1858 in Book
"E", page 527. The town was laid out in forty two blocks
of twelve lots each. Each lot of 56 feet by 168 feet. Two streets
running each way through the town 100 feet wide, the other streets
are each 80 feet wide.
The said William Heaton
then proceeded to sell town lots in Grandview under the following
contract: He obligated himself to invest the entire proceeds, less
the expense of the sale of these lots for the purpose of
instituting and maintaining a Seminary of the highest grade, in
which shall be taught all branches usually taught in similar
literary institutions, the proceeds to be invested as follows:
block to be reserved for the Seminary building
quarter of a block to be reserved for a Primary School building.
quarter of a block each for three churches, the denominations to
be selected by a majority vote of those who may purchase the other
(4) All the
remainder to be invested in the erection and maintenance of the
Then there followed a long
agreement as the appraisement, selection, and payment of these
lots. It was also to be inserted in the deed, that if the owner
permitted the sale of intoxicating liquors, or gambling, he would
forfeit said lot for use of the Seminary. The writer has in
possession one of these contracts made with Ira C. Walker October
5, 1857, signed by William Heaton and Ira C. Walker.
Said Heaton agreed that on
the 18th day of June 1858, or when the purchasers met to select
said lots, that he would file a bond for $50,000 to faithfully
dispose of funds coming into his hands by said sale of lots.
Davies' History says that in the summer of 1858, Mr. Heaton and
quite a large number of citizens met on the ground, and speeches
by B. F. Roberts and others, setting forth the great importance of
a Seminary of learning at this point, etc.
"From some cause,
which we are unable to give, the praiseworthy enterprise was
abandoned, and there is nothing to this day to show for the Town
of Heaton, but the stakes that were driven in the ground to mark
the lots." Davies' history was published in 1869, eleven
years later. Mr. Heaton lived in Lee Township until about 1885 or
1886, when he returned to Illinois where he was a large property
owner. He died several years ago. His son, Daniel Heaton, lived at
Greenfield, Iowa fro Many years; another son, Abner, lived on the
Lee Township farm and now lives at Greenfield. A son Jester
Heaton, lives at Winfield, Kansas. The old settlers in Lee
Township can relate many stories and anecdotes concerning the
eccentricities of "Uncle Billy" Heaton.
note: One would think that a project of such a grand scale would
have left historical records as to why it was abandoned but none
seem to exist. The scheme seems to have some characteristics of a
scam but it obviously was not since "Uncle Billy"
wouldn't have stayed around another 20 years before removing to
Illinois. Even Davies, whose book was published while almost all
of the principals were still around, did not publish a reason for
the seminary's demise. Perhaps the project wasn't financially
feasible or not enough subscribers anted up to make a go of it.
and edited by Kent Transier