History of Early Pioneer Towns in Washington County, Iowa
Last updated: 6 August 2013

This information was complied by the WCGS members and published in the Fall/Winter 2005 newsletter. Some excerpts are from the Atlas of Keokuk and Washington Counties, Iowa (1971)
This page was prepared and posted to the Washington County, Iowa GenWeb by Norma Jennings Dec 2012


  This town was laid out in October 1858 by D, H. Ainsworth, in whose honor the town was named. It is situated on the east half of the northeast quarter of section 21, township 75, range 5. A gentleman writing of Ainsworth  in the year 1864, just six years after the town was first located says "Ainsworth is the name of the first station on the railroad east of Washington.  It contains a good grain house, two stores, a steam grist mill, and several mechanics' shops. Although it is but a small town now, it is situated in a good neighborhood and having railroad facilities may in the future rank next to Washington in importance."  

  During the sixteen years which elapsed since that prophecy was recorded , Ainsworth has grown considerable but does not yet rank next to Washington in importance. (No doubt this excerpt came from the 1880 Washington county history book, according to the date 16 years after 1864.)

  One of the most commendable and praiseworthy institutions of the town is the graded public school.


  This town was laid out in 1837, by Hill, Randolph, and Hughes. These men expected to make quite a speculation out of their town and erected a double log cabin which they called the county courthouse. However, there was no evidence that it was ever used for that purpose.  Sometime afterward a man by the name of Potts located in Astoria and began a store of general merchandise. A post office was erected and named Pottsville.  After the county seat was moved to Washington, Potts left, and the post office was removed to the house of David Goble, Sr .where it remained for a number of years. The prospects of Astoria for becoming a great metropolis vanished upon selecting another seat of justice and the town site fell back to being simply an ordinary claim which fell into the possession of J. L.L. Terry. Astoria was the first county seat in the county.

  Brighton has always been proud of her claim of being the oldest town in Washington County. Although the town was not laid out until 1840, the first settlers came to Brighton in 1837.

   Silas Washburn was one of the first settlers coming on foot and alone early in 1837. His claim was just below the C. R. &  P. Railroad bridge across  Skunk River and included the land which was  the mill site for many years. In April of 1838 a relative, Seneca Beach arrived bringing his family and also Mr. Washburn's.

   These families came up river from Fort Madison in a "mackinaw"  boat. Much of the way the boat had to be pulled along with rope fastened to trees ahead as it was impossible to paddle against the current of the river.  

   Washburn's house was a one story  structure built on legs covered with clapboards and had a sod chimney.

    It was Beach's home that in 1839 held the first religious services. The Congregational Church was organized in 1841, and the names of Seneca Beach and  Eliza Beach are listed among the organizers.  Mr. Beach was the first justice of the peace.

   Another one of the earliest settler was John Brier, Sr., who was rated the richest man in the county according to the first tax list published in 1839. It was he who loaned money to Mr. Pickerell to build the first Brighton Mill. In 1841 Pickerell established the first ferry across the skunk river. The ferry was in operation for twenty-five years until the bridge was built.

  The first mercantile establishment in Brighton was owned and operated by John Lewis. It was a  one story log structure 16 x 20. Lewis was also the first postmaster with the mail arriving semi-monthly from Mt. Pleasant.

   Philo Dray born in 1840 was the first male child born in Brighton Township.

   Eldridge Reed is supposed to have been the first person to have taught a school here. The school was held in a building which tradition tells us stood in the northeast part of town. About 1841, a school house was erected just west of town, the people of the neighborhood all helping to build it.

   Of the churches in Brighton, the Methodist is the oldest. It was organized about 1842-1844, but worshiped in a schoolhouse until about 1856 or '57 when the first church was erected in 1856.

  The Christian Church was organized in 1848 and erected their first brick building in 1850.

  Hugh Henry owned and operated a book bindery at one time.

  It was in July 1854 that Brighton was visited by an epidemic of cholera which raged for a month causing death deaths at the average of one a day.  The first victim, a little daughter of Wm. Trine who came by boat from Ohio was thought to have been exposed on the way. The nature of her illness was not fully determined until her funeral. There was no known remedy for the disease. Whiskey and camphor were used internally and externally.

   George Trine, a cabinet maker could not supply the demand for caskets, but rather than risk delay, the bodies wee buried in rough boxes and graves were kept open in advance.

   Brighton was the scene of a famous shoot-out.  Dr. Hough killed Dr. Sales on Main Street in August of 1868. Dr. Hough escaped.

(coordinator note: birthplace of Norma Jennings, IaGenweb coordinator for Washington County, Iowa, for a number of years, so this little town is dear to my heart.nfj  :>))

    The town of Coppock was named after William Coppock and is the smallest incorporated town in Washington County.  At one time there were two railroads going through Coppock. They were the Galesburg and the Burlington.

    One of the forgotten pleasure parks of the nineties  was Trite's Park, owned by George Davis Trite, and located on his farm near Coppock on the Skunk River. Mr. Trite equipped the park with tables and benches for picnickers, and supplied planks from his sawmill  nearby for a dance platform.  A sand bar on the river was convenient for swimming, fishing, and boat riding. A steam boat would come up the river and give rides.

    Since the park was  located at the fifty two mile post from Burlington, the Burlington railway furnished a day coach to carry passengers for the many celebrations held in the park. The celebrators would be unloaded from the train in the morning, their special coach would be left on the side track placed there for that purpose, and when the train made its return trip in the evening, the passengers would board the coach which was then hooked to the train and be on their way home. Moonlight skating parties were one of the winter activities.

    One of the first large milling industries in this part of the state was the Coppock Mills, located ten miles south of Washington, on the Skunk River. It was erected in 1859-50 by John Bigham, contractor and builder, and owned by John Coppock, Sr. and Thomas Tucker, in partnership.  A large saw mill was built just across the river from the grain mill, and both were run by power furnished by the dam which was made across the river at this point. In 1894, E. C. Caulkins bought the grain mill and moved it to Wayland, where it was used as a feed mill.


    The town of Crawfordsville has the distinction  of being the oldest town in Washington County, the first settler, Adam Ritchey coming to the township in 1836 from Warren County, Illinois. In 1835, Mr. Ritchie and a neighbor crossed the Mississippi in search of a new home. Being pleased with the country along Crooked Creek they reported favorably and Mr. Ritchie and four or five of his neighbors, started in Feb. 1836  for the "New Purchase" as the country was then called.

    They staked off claims near a stream called Crooked creek, and all returned to Illinois except the adventurous leader who made a rail shanty near the present site of Crooked Creek bridge, three miles south of Crawfordsville.  While there he took sick and might have perished but for the Indians who prepared him food and also provided for his horses.

    After putting in about thirty acres of corn and building a cabin one fourth mile south of the present Moorhead house, he returned to Illinois and about Oct 1, 1836 brought his family to their new home.

    Several other families came the same year, among them the Neals, who were the first settlers of Crawfordsville. Among the very early settlers were William Huston, John Black, William Wooley, James McElroy and others, and Mathew Moorhead.

    In 1839 a committee consisting of Joseph, Robert, and Walker Neal, went across the creek to meet a like committee to locate a town, but as the latter failed to appear, the Neals laid out the present town of Crawfordsville and the place was known as Nealtown. . A brother-in-law of the Neals, Dr. Isaac Crawford of New Athens, Ohio, came west on a visit and the Neals proposed to him that if he would settle here, they would name the township for him.  Dr Crawford returned with his family in 1841.

    Walker Neal built the first house in town, a one story 16 x 16, all the timber used in it being taken out  of the wood, prepared and fit together by himself, without the aid of sawmills or lumberyards.

    In 1849, during the excitement of the discovery of gold in California thirteen men went out from Crawfordsville. They were James Ballou, James Crawford, Robert Jennison, Peter Mills, Caldwell Neal, Wm D. Crawford, and Charles Barker. Mr. Ballou died in the mines.

    In 1855 there was great excitement over the Kansas Border Ruffian  war and Crawfordsville sent a delegation of five men, buying a team and wagon and entire outfit. Those who went out were James and Thompson Crawford, James Allen, Thomas Smith and William Morrow. Thompson Crawfrod was afterward with John Brown , but took took sick with pneumonia and had to be left behind, thus saving him from death at Harper's Ferry and later during the Civil War he was in rebel prisons for 23 months.

    The first hotel was built by Samuel Rankin and stood on the corner now occupied by People's State Bank. It was called the "House of All Nations" from the fact that nearly every family had lived in it at some time, as it was by far the largest house in town. It was also used as a station on the underground, the earlier citizens being much opposed to slavery. Here runaway slaves were concealed during the day and at night some one would drive them to Columbus City or Iowa City, where they could be hurried on to some other station. There were seven there at one time.


    In October 1854, the town of Dayton was laid out in section 18, and what glory or prestige Wassonville may have been able to retain, it lost all its trade and for a umber of years Dayton showed signs of prosperity.  The surrounding country was well settled and very productive, these being abundant resources from which a town of considerable size might draw sustenance.

    However, the shriek of the first fire engine on the railroad sounded the death knoll of Dayton and what life and vitality it once possessed was transmigrated to the body corporate of Wellman. A new railroad was coming westward from the Mississippi. Coal mines at What Cheer had provided a new source of revenue for railway magnates and speculators, and Dayton soon was being  moved southward to a new site along the route of the railway.

    A post office was located in the northeast part of section 27, and here was also located a small village of Dublin which had two general stores, a blacksmith shop, and a creamery in 1887.

    In an article written by Winifred Carris, she said that "Dublin is for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with it, a little country store, located about 8 or o miles west of  Washington  in Dutch Creek Township. The store stands on the northeast corner of the crossroads. It is the latter of the two which used to compose Dublin. Several hoses built near give the evidences of the once-upon-time village. Before the Dublin store was built, it was known as Swire's  corners.  

    Early in 1865 an Irish man by the name of Sel Wigdon came and built a store on the southwestern corner. Since he was Irish and several of his neighbors were Irish, they named the place Dublin and so i has been ever since. When the store was built, the post office which had been kept in a private home about a mile and half west of the site of Dublin, was moved and the store owner became the postmaster.

    The one thing which made Dublin famous all over the United States was Dublin cheese.  The cheese factory was located about a quarter of a mile south of Dublin proper. It was built by a group of farmers who owned it on a cooperative basis. A family named Mangold operated the cheese factory.

    Had the railroad which was built from Washington to Knoxville passed through Dublin, it would probably a thriving city today.

    There was a celebration at Dublin in 1965. It was written up in Chicago and was on TV.  The old store is now a museum. the store closed permanently in 1963.


    Eureka was laid out in April 1857, by Jacob Z Bowman. It was located on the northwest quarter of section 18, township 74, range 7.  It never aspired to become a town of great dimensions but was a trading point of some importance in the early years.

    The Methodist Episcopal Church of Eureka was organized in September of 1849, and a frame building erected in 1858. The Baptists had an organization at Eureka, which effected in 1856. A frame building was erected at that place by that denomination in 1870. (Note by nfj. - The Abraham Snider family from Preston County, West Virginia, (still Virginia at that time) moved to Marion Twp around 1857 shortly before or after his youngest son Abraham, Jr. was born.   His son Joseph Snider, b. 1841was sixteen years old. A few years later, Joseph Snider built a nice residence across the road from the Eureka Church.  Joseph Snider was my great grandfather.nfj)

    In 1880, it was written that Eureka has postal facilities and is surrounded by a beautiful and fertile section of country. In the early days there was a post office located on Crooked Creek, near the east part of the Township, called Marcellus. this office however has long since been discontinued.  

 Grace Hill

   This town was laid out and located on Section 11. It was near the west line of the township and affords postal and trading facilities for the people from the west part of Franklin township and the east part of Dutch Creek township.  The post office was located across the line in Dutch Creek township. As to its size and pretensions, not much cane said and it is not known whether or not the projectors of the town ever had any sanguine expectations of a grand and prosperous career.


    Harrisburg was laid out by John Burris in1855. this town was located on section 14.  For a time great efforts were made to build a town. Mr. Burris bought a large amount of land in the vicinity of the town which was located on the southwest quarter of the section. Quite a number of lots were  sold and all the land in the vicinity of the proposed town was rapidly settled up. About 100 houses were built in the town on the land adjacent which was supposed to belong to Burris.  At the full tide of prosperity Harrisburg met with sudden collapse from which it never recovered, and ever since that time the material proportions have been gradually vanishing from human recollection.  The cause of Harrisburg's decline and fall was the sudden failure of Burris and the financial ruin of all who had anything to do with him.


    The town of Haskins began to exist in 1902, the year the Milwaukee Railway was built through that vicinity. win Smouse laid out the town that year, having bought eighty acres of land for that purpose from H. G. Campbell. At fist the railway company wanted to have a station farther west about one mile, but the people who owned the land in that neighborhood were asking too much money, so Mr.Smouse bought those eighty acres deeded it over to the railway company with the understanding he could have the town site privileges in lieu of giving them ground for the railway elevator and stockyards.

    A man by the name of Pickens had the first general store and shortly after William Beardsley came from Wellman to open a store which he later sold to Mr. Frey.

    Some of the first families to locate in Haskins were Mr. and Mrs. John Godlove, C. W. Stephens and family, the Pickens family, and the William Beardsleys. The town was named for Haskins after some fifty names had been submitted to the Government, and all rejected because there was a town named like that somewhere else. Finally Haskins was picked suggested by the name of one of the railway officials.


    In the early days Havre was called Havre with a short "a" not Haver with a long "a" as it is so commonly pronounced today.  It is believed that trainmen were the ones who changed the name, the "brakie" would yell ":Haver" and it carried through today.

    The town of Havre has had three bad fires, two general merchandise stores and one elevator.

    At one time there was an inland post office named Lake. The post office got its name from the fact that most of the land where the town stood was under water. The men would often go out in skiffs to fish. Millions of frogs made Havre very musical and one man was known to have remarked the town should have been named Frogtown.

    At one time there was a blacksmith shop and for some time a railroad agency. In the early thirties the elevator was torn down and that time there still was a stockyard and a store operated  by S. C. Wittmer and six residences in the town. Wittmer's store was closed around 1950.

    The Havre school was at one time known as a Benson school. During the summer Sunday School and preaching wee conducted in the building. In the winter there were singing schools, literaries, spelling school and other meetings.

    Havre was located on the Burlinton Railroad and was situated about five miles southeast of Washington.

    The town was surveyed and a plat made dividing it into blocks and alleys. his was in June 1881 and T. N. Barhydt had the surveying done.


The town of  Kalona was platted in the middle of a field on August 6, 1879, named Kalona for some unknown reason by employees of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids, and Northern Railway which was just starting through the territory at that time.

    Shortly after this platting, August 15, the same ear to be exact, things began to flourish and a man named S.E. Parker opened a general store, after erecting his own building.

    Bu 1882 the town boasted one drug store,  owned by Jesse Longwell, one hardware store, a post office located in the Parker store, a dry goods store, and two saloons.

    The dry goods, or second general merchandise store was opened by Abner Boone, whose sons, Ben and Alonzo lived in Kalona and operated it.

    Soon came a hotel, the Kalona House, owned and operated by Lawrence Shillig. It had been a school at Richmond, moved to Kalona, for a hotel building. A blacksmith shop was opened by Tony Welt, and a lumber yard owned by Amos Mellinger was not long in materializing.

    Stock buyers began to locate in town. George Abbott was the first one, and Cal Grady was one of the early ones.  Grady and Abbott came to town about 1881 and 1882.

    There was no church at first but religious service was held in the upper story of the frame school building which stood where the present Kalona school building is now located. Rev. Dorrell was the minister and professed to be of the Church of God denomination. Later, about ten or twelve years after the town was started, a Methodist Church was organized and tech Snyder Chapel belonging to the Snyder brothers was brought into town to be used for a church. It served for many years, until the present Methodist Church was built.

    The first doctor came in 1880 or 1881, and tended to all the ills of the community. His name was Franklin Rownd and he was bought out by Longwell the first druggist.

    William H. Palmer, the first agent for the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railway was cashier of the first bank to be organized.

    Most of the earlier buildings in Kalona have burned or have been destroyed. there are, however, a few residences in town that were in existence in the early days, probably built around 1880.


   Lexington was one of the latest of the Washington County towns of the pioneer period to be platted. It was laid out in April  1865, by M.D. Storey. It was in the northeastern corner of Cedar Township. No railroad came that way, so the town was abandoned.

  Two churches wee started in the community, according to the county histories, the Methodist , which flourished for many years and was a great influence in the community, and the Baptist Church , organized in 1868, with Calven Craven and his wife, Mrs. Rebecca Burham, Mrs. Elizabeth Dusenbery, Mrs. Julia Hites, Mrs. Martha Craven, Jotham Ogden, Mrs. Phoebe Ogden and Mr. and Mrs. R. Farney as charter members. A history written in 1880 gives the church membership of 96 at that time. It was  later dissolved. The Methodist Church formed in 1873. Samuel Brown, Martha Brown, James Daniels, James Dick, Catherine Dick, John G. Meloin and Deborah Meloin are listed as those who formed the first organization.


    Originally, it had only a nickname "Turkey Scratch", so called from the excellence of its grand and climate  for the raising of turkeys. Then it grew space and petitioned the government for a post office. Uncle Sam told the petitioners to get a name.

    Nira was an unusual name for a town, its origin going back t 1880 when Col. W.B. Bell was postmaster at Washington.  It was to have a post office so as was the custom, the post master at the county seat was given the honor of naming the new "child." On Col. Bell's desk was the picture of his wife Nira Bell. Why not name it Nira? It was short, it caught he public fancy and Nira it became. George Moffet was an early settler, his "Nira" being the first child born in the town.  

    The railway company did not contemplate a station between Wellman and Kinross, but the neighborhood got together at C. C. Lewis' house in the summer of 1879 and decided to demand a station. J. N. Carr, William and V. W. Carris, Martin Stapleton, William Green, William Frink, Jos. Adams, William Hull, William McGahan, the Duers - Joe and Jack, Ezra Pool, and others were present at this meeting. They located the town that afternoon. The land for the town site was given by J. W. Lewis.

    V.W. Carris and Mr. Lewis established the first grain and stock market and built the first elevator, Nirkpatrick built the first store - a grocery with living rooms behind.  A cheese factory was cooperatively built and operated about 1886 or '87. Dr. Everson was the first doctor to locate in Nira and was there a number of years.

    The first teacher of the Nira school was Anna Bloise.The first term was held in the spring of 1880. Nira church was cooperatively built by the neighborhood about 1896.  The church was open to all denominations, though, for many years, the United Brethren only conducted services, they having been holding services for several years in the hall upstairs in the Carr building. The first church services were held in the make-shift school house in 1881.

    The town of Nira suddenly sprang into prominence when the National Recovery Act flourished in 1933.  It was decided to print N.I.R.A. stamps and through the efforts of Congressman E. C. Eicher their stamps were to be placed on sale at Nira, Iowa,  the first place in the United States. People came from all over to buy the first stamps and have them canceled in the town itself.

    Nira's big day was almost her swan song. At least a few months later, the post office was discontinued.


    In 1882, shortly after the advent of the narrow gauge railroad the little town of Noble in Marion Township was started.  The land was acquired from Ed Noble, for whom the town was named.  Mr. Noble had two half-sections of land nearby, and his home was just east of this land.

    The first store was built by the late John Wittmer. It was located just across the road from the beginning of the town he purchased the entire strip of land from Mr. Noble, built a store and home combined.  David Miller who had a store north of Center Chapel was forced to change locations because of the fact, the railroad right of way happened to go through his location. Mr. Noble bought the Miller building and moved it to Noble, where it was used for a harness shop by Jud Sanford. Noble at one time had two grain elevators, one run by Will Noble and one by John Wittmer.

    John Wittmer and David Miller were the two original buyers of lots in Noble. Mr. Noble built two houses exactly alike, one of which is still standing. The other was destroyed by fire.

    Joel Turney, who had a wagon shop at Trenton, tried to buy a suitable lot, chose Fairfield instead Dell Troutman was the first railway agent in Noble. A man whose name was Van Trump had the first blacksmith shop. A post office was established there, and in 1887 there was a merchandise store, blacksmith shop and grain elevator.

    Where the town of Noble stands, the community was then known as Dodds neighborhood.


    Paris was laid out b Eleazar Kinkade in July 1846. It was named Paris by a Frenchman, John Reinhart for his native city Paris, France.  The names was changed to Valley in later years.

    In about 1839 or 1840, a group of men were crossing the prairie north of Washington making out the Indian trails through the tall grasses led by a guide, A. Martin Thomson. They called him their pilot and so a beautiful grove they discovered was first called Pilot Grove, later changed to Pilotsburg. It was sort of a half way place between Crooked Creek and the English River.

    The first marriage was a daughter of Ed Farley and  John O'Laughlin, on Sept 5, 1844. the first child born in Pilotsburg in 1856 was Leroy Nicola.

    The first school house was built in 1855. Lumber was hauled from Burlington for its construction.

    Pilotsburg was always a religious center. The first comers were the Mormons, and after they left in 1849, the Seventh Day Adventists came in the fifties and built a church in 1862. The second church built by the Seventh Day Adventists in Iowa. In 1858 Methodism was introduced to the town.


    It wa son David Goble, Sr.'s land in Oregon Township.  It seemed that John B. Potts located it. It was a post office, with a swift weekly mail.


  One of the most productive parcels of land, and a pleasing location as there is in the county, fell into the hands of Thomas B. Dawson, who in the fall of 1840, conceived the idea of building a city, and as a result of this idea there was laid out the town of Richmond.

  The town was laid out in November, 1840, and is located in the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter and the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 30. In May, 1856, Mr. Dawson laid out an addition to the town, and in June the same year, John Bull laid out another addition.

    In writing of Richmond years ago, the editor of the Washington Democrat said: "Richmond is situated in the north part of the county, in English River Township, it contains a population of 300 or 400, three stores, as many groceries and the usual number of mechanics.  It has a good frame school house, and the largest Catholic Church in the county, the congregation being large enough to support a resident priest."

    I. N. Arnold of Kalona provided the Journal with some interesting bits of history. "For a few years, " Mr. Arnold recalls, "the town of Richmond was larger than Washington. Richmond was platted in 1840, one year after the platting of Washington. All the traveling then was by the mail stage. Richmond had a stage office and barn. They did a good business when Iowa City was the capitol of the state."

    In the early 1840's and '50s, English River Township had the largest population of any township in Washington County.

    Some of the pioneers of English River Township were: L.L. Tevey, David Bunker, Gideon Bear, Cyrus Cox, Mr. Mac Ilre, Mr. Hines, Henry Rathmel, James Galliger, Michael Weir, Peter Shilig, Isaac Farley.


    A few settlements had been made on English River in the north part of the county prior to 1840. The first in that section was probably made by Joseph Edelstein.  This man was originally from Switzerland.  He first located in Ohio, and then in 1838 came to Iowa to search for a new location. He took a claim on the English River, not far from the present site of Riverside.  Here he built a cabin and made arrangements to bring his family from Ohio.

    From some cause the cabin burned down before the arrival of his family in 1839, and he was compelled to live with his family in a cave near the English River until he could build another dwelling. After the completion of the new cabin he moved into it and prospered.  Besides farming he did considerable work at his trade of wagon making.

    He was a zealous Catholic and in the course of time quite a community was established in that neighborhood composed of persons of like religious faith.  One of the first church buildings of the county was erected in that locality.

    Families by the names of Diehl, Teeple, and Duvall had claims on the land which is the present site of Riverside.

    In the spring of 1939 Reuben B. Davis settled on section 32, township 77, range 6. The settlement which he began was near a creek which was named in honor of him, Davis Creek, and still bears his name.

    In 1840 he erected what in those days passed for a frame house and was probably the first of the kind erected in that section of the county. It was 16 x 36 feet, weather boarded with shaved clapboard, floored with split puncheons, covered with shingles, a stone chimney in the center, and two fire places. The house (was) originally intended for a tavern, as the military road leading north was laid out about this time. It passed near the dwelling and the owner anticipated  quite a run of custom from the travelers who were to throng this thoroughfare.  Although the military road did not prove to be as much thronged as was anticipated, the tavern did a fair business during the following years, as it was popular resort for travelers and claim hunters.
    Rubio was platted in 1902 when the Milwaukee Railway built its short line from Davenport to Ottumwa. The railway company bought land from John Fleig, Sr. and sold off lots. The railway people were responsible for giving the town the name.

    Earl Coffman built the first business building for the purpose of starting  store. I.W. Dillon bought the lots where the Rubio church  now stands in 1905 and deeded the property to the Friends Church which was built in 1906.

    Someone between the years of Rubio had a semi-pro baseball team and played games with the larger towns.

Sandy Hook

    May 5, 1841, Sandy Hook aspired to civic greatness. It had been an Indian village and wished to try the whites awhile. Jesse Hiatt and Thomas J. Gordon set the yeast in that wee bit of sponge.  The future city was placed on a sandy ridge, two miles northeast of Brighton. The founders admired President Martin Van Buren and would honor him by perpetuating through all the future years the name of his residence, "Kinderhook" but as they could not think of the name, remembering only that there was a "hook" to it, they rallied on the sand heap and let'er go as Sandy Hook. A town was planned before 1849 by William Hesseltine and another man. Tom Kyle laid out the plat and did the surveying. As nearly as can be remembered its location was on a flat area south of the Hesseltine home near the railroad.

    One of the earliest settlers in this community was Jeff Gordon. Mr. Gordon came to Sandy Hook in 1838, living in a log house. At one time the Geff Gordon farm cover about 240 acres. The orginal deed, still in the hand of relatives, was written on buckskin, an official government document.


    Sheffield was projected in a dream by Nathaniel McClure, August 16, 1845.  He probably awoke before the dream was fairly under way. However, he, with John F. Van Dyke, got in his work at Yatton in July 1856.  That was a lively milling place  until 1879, when the railway sapped it to build at Riverside.


    There were no stations built at first, a box car being used as a depot. A few years later the Titus station was built. The Titus store started in the summer of 1903. B.F.DIckson leased the land and built the store. Later Mr. McFarland bought the store and put Merle Crayne there to manage it.

    The Milwaukee Railroad went through Titus in 1902 and Mr. Wright was the first agent. Mr. and Mrs. Shendell had living quarters at the depot at one time. Mr. Shendell sold pianos and gave music lessons.

    A Mr. Stoddard from Vermont ran a store and the post office. The last storekeeper in the town was Charles Strohm and the store closed in 1931.  Mr. John Johnson purchased the building. The post office lasted from 1910-1913.


    The original name of the place known as Verdi was McJunkin named in honor of Hon. J. F. McJunkin. The town boasted a post office and general store, which was also used as a waiting room for those waiting on the train.  Because of the similarity of the name of McJunkin to another Iowa town, the name was changed to Verdi.

    The Rock Island Railroad ran through Verdi, trains stopped for passengers only when flagged.

    About a quarter of a mile northwest of Verdi, the first school was built. Later Memorial Miller deeded land for a school.

    Mr. and Mrs. Al Logan were the last to operate a store in Verdi.

    The place known as the James Baird farm is the only one in the community that in 1936 still belonged to the heirs of the party who purchased it from the government. In 1844, William Lewis and his neighbors, Logan and Ritchie, came from Illinois by horseback to look at Iowa land.  Mr. Lewis purchased land northeast of Verdi for $1.25 an acre. The men built their cabins while here and returned to Illinois to bring their families.


    The town was laid out in March 1848. For many years there was a good mill located there, and considerable trading was done. It was on the most popular route from Iowa City to Oskaloosa, and was the first station on the line of the underground railroad, laid out by Supt. Woodin in 1856.

    Much interest having been aroused at Iowa City concerning the fate of Kansas during the slavery agitation, a public meeting was held at Wassonville, at which several spirited speeches were made, but after the public meetings of a general character adjourned, a private meeting that an address or commission was drawn up and placed in the hands of Mr. Woodin, who seems to have been chiefly instrumental in opening up the line of communication. He succeeded in enlisting in the enterprise the most active and reliable men in the various towns which he visited who were in sympathy with the anti-slavery movement. It was  necessary to observe great caution and secrecy, as the administration was at that time in sympathy with the pro-slavery party and United States marshals were on the lookout for armed bands on their way to Kansas from the north. The underground railroad having been put into good running order, Supt Woodin and his station agents did quite a business in forwarding 'emigrants' during the fall, winter, and summer.

    In 1838 the first settlement in Lime Creek Township was established at Wassonville. there was quite a dispute over two claims that were staked out and it was settled in favor of the Watters and Wassons. they built a mill on the north side of the river. This mill burned down in 1848 and another mill was built on the south side of the river in 1850.

    By 1853, Wassonville's population was 300, caravans on their way to California, Kansas, and Oregon were stopping there to rest their teams, procure supplies, and rest from the rigors of overland journeys.

    Flood waters of the English River caused the settlement to be moved further south. In 1854 Lewis Longwell purchased the site of  Daytonville, the highest point in Washington County, and in 1858 or '59 the Wassonville post office was moved to Daytonville.


    The early history of Wellman goes back to 1838, when the first settlement in Lime Creek Township was established at Wassonville.

    In the fall of 1837 a party of hunters came up the English River, saw a promising site for a water mill and staked out a claim. The party comprised the Watters boys, James, Samuel, and Thomas; and Thomas, and Henry, Joseph, Benjamin, and Robert Wasson to guard the claim, which a few weeks later was disputed by N. W. and Daniel McFarland, who also staked out a claim that included the mill site.

    The dispute was settled in favor of the Watters and Wassons, however, and the following year the Watters and Wassons returned with their families, built a mill and laid out the town of Wassonville on the north side of the river. This mill burned in 1848 and another was built on the south side of the river in 1850.

    By 1853 Wassonville's population was 300, caravans on their way to California, Kansas, and Oregon were stopping there to rest their teams, procure supplies and rest from the rigors of overland journeys.  Jim  Lane and company stayed there over Sunday in 1856 enroute to Kansas. John Brown was here three weeks resting a lame mule and left two boxes of clothing which he expected to call for later but never returned.  Slavery was a burning question, and it is reliably reported that slaves were secreted in  Wassonville during their flight by underground railway from the South.

    Flood waters of the English River caused the settlement to be moved farther south. In 1865 Lewis Longwell purchased the site of Daytonville, the highest point in Washington County, and in 1858 or '59 the Wassonville post office was moved to Daytonville. Only a few houses and the mill remained of what was once prospering Wassonville. Daytonville's glory soon fading however, for a new railroad was coming westward from the Mississippi. Coal mines at What Cheer had provided anew source of revenue for railway magnates and speculation, and Dayton soon was being moved southward to a new site along the route of the railway.

    This was the beginning of Wellman, for the new village was laid out on land owned by Joseph Wellman in 1879. The President of Burlington, Cedar Rapids, and Northern Railway, gave the village its name, in honor of Mr. Wellman.

    For six years it developed as an unincorporated town. In response to the need for ordinances and village officers to direct the affairs of the town in public interest, the circuit court of Washington County was petitioned by 28 electors residing in the territory to become incorporated and the court appointed J. W. Gemmill, C. G. Clark, Charles Grassell, W. A. Downing and J. L. Mathews to hold an election to decide the matter. The election was held on Oct. 23, 1885, and the majority of voters favored incorporation and he next step was the election of officers.

    The election was held on Dec 3 of the same year and according to the "Portrait and Biographical Album of Washington County" published in 1887, the following officers were elected to serve until the regular annual election in March 1886. T. J. Allen was elected Mayor, D. F. Kirkpatrick, Recorder, B. W. Nicola, J. L. Mathews, E. F. Smith, Henry Longwell, James Wisner and Lewis King, councilmen.

    A letter written on Sept. 1879 from Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wellman states, "Two families have moved into town. Fifteen or sixteen buildings are going up. We can hardly look out without seeing grain or hogs going to market. They have a telegraph office down here. They had a dispatch from Washington City two or three days after they put it up. The lots sell from about $100 to $250 per lot. There are going to be three dry goods stores, a hardware store, a grocery store, and a restaurant. We don't knowhow many hotels there will be."

    The following is part of a letter from Isaac Leighton. "S(h)ingles are three  dollars per thousand in our new town. The depot is two stories high.  There are eight or ten buildings in town and more are going up every day. Last Thursday thirty-two loads of stock and grain came into Wellman. The cars are running west of the county line."

    On Jan 19, 180, Mr.Isaac  Leighton wrote that, "the two o'clock train had thirty one cars yesterday."

    Some important events in the history of Wellman was the removal of the Methodist Episcopal Church from Daytonville to Wellman in about 1881, and the building of the public school.


    The town of Wellston was founded in 1903, named after W. W. Wells.  The town had at one time a general store, bank, lumber yard, stockyards and a blacksmith shop. the last store was in operation about 1950. The Milwaukee Railroad went through Wellston in 1903. The town was located about twelve miles southeast of Washington.  
West Chester

  The land where West Chester is located consisted of wild prairie with log cabins dotted here and there before 1872. The railroad company bought the land from Ed Clemons and sold it by subscriptions to start the town. It was the first organized  for a railroad town, the only one in the county west of Washington on the Knoxville branch. The railroad went through in 1872.

  The first building was the depot and in the west end of it was the Post Office. The town was named Chester in 1872. Later it was fund out that there was another Chester, Iowa and so in the spring of 1873, they named it West Chester.

  The second building was the elevator built in 1872 by Tom Downing. He also built the old  hotel on the corner that was just west of the barber shop. At that time, it was used as a general store. He and his family lived in the upstairs. Soon after this, the building west of the bank was built for a drug store and was later made into a restaurant. The lumber yard and office were erected next.

  The first dwelling house built in West Chester was built in the summer of 1873 by John Winters.  The second residence was built by Jim Crayne. then Ed Clemens built a building in  1873 which was built for a hotel and used for that purpose for several years. It was there that the first telephone exchange was operated by Mr. Dayton.

   The first school house was built in the summer of 1873, and the first teacher was Ellery Poster. Lida Booth taught after Poster's death. Others who taught in the little frame building were Sadie Smith, Laura Doolittle, Walter Kleese, and Nellie Skipton. then came the old brick schoolhouse built in the early '80s. Among the first teachers were Vincent Nash, Abbie Boyer, Mr. Arthur and others.

  From this sprang the consolidated school. On Sundays the schoolhouse was used for Sunday School and preaching. The first Sunday School was organized in the fall of 1873. John Elrod was the first minister to preach the Gospel in West  Chester. Later, a Methodist Church was built, and in 1886, a Baptist Church was built.

   The only factory West Chester ever had was the Cheese Factory built in 1886 and which lasted until 1906. It was built by A. G. Leet in 1886 and was owned and operated with the help of his wife and son Willard.


    Yatton was located on the northeast quarter of section 19, township 77, range 6. It was laid out by John F. Vandyke and Nathaniel McClure, in July 1856. It was at one time an important trading point, and among other important business interests was the location of the best flouring mill in the county. Upon completions of the railroad to Riverside in 1872, Yatton began to decline, and it was not many years till all business of the town, with the exception of the mill, was transferred to the new town.