Washington Evening Journal Centennial Edition - August 1939
Updated: 27 June 2013 by Norma Jennings


Washington Evening Journal Centennial Edition--Aug 1939 

    On back 100 years ago and we see only the tiny break in the soil from which emanated, eventually this beautiful Washington of 1939. First, one crude little building and then another and another. Tiny pioneer homes, amid general stores, a shop here and there, a mill, a school, a church. So started London and Ainsworth, and Crawfordsville, Paris, Coppock, Havre, Berlin, Gladwin, Moscow, Haskins, Ninevah, Kalona, Vienna, West Chester, Amsterdam and Wellman.

    Cities and communities in that one respect follow about the same pattern that the human species follows in its journey from the cradle to the grave. First the seed, then the plant, then the ripened harvest and "dust to dust". How long the physical Washington, Iowa shall endure no one knows. It is not beyond possibility to confidently assume that in its effect upon the destiny of this civilization in this world, to "hold fast" to the good that we already have and seek ever for more more.

    The residents of a hundred years of growth and feel that the plant as developed at this century point is displaying a blossom of rare beauty. They do not discount the future, however, but look to the boys and girls of the next hundred years to add proportionate beauty and volume to the harvest of 2039.

Built House on town site in 1839

    He came here soon after the town was located and bought two lots. Settlement of Washington started soon after the town was located and bought two lots. Settlement of Washington started soon after selection of the site for the county seat of Washington County which was accomplished on the first day of June 1839.

    That fall the first settler arrived and the first building on the town site was erected. That was the beginning of the town of Washington, Iowa one hundred years ago.

    The act legislating Slaughter County (as Washington County was first known) out of  existence provided for the selection of a seat of justice in the new Washington County by a commission of three persons. Those appointed on this board were John Gilliand of Louisa County Thomas Ritchey of Henry County and William Chambers of Muscatine County.

    Gilliland and Ritchey on the first day of June 100 years ago met at Astoria (south of Ainsworth, whereabouts unknown) which had earlier been designated as the county seat of Slaughter County, and set out to locate the new town.

They made a tour of the county and examined several locations that had been proposed. The two men did not agree when they finally came to make a decision. Mr. Gilliland favored a location at the geographical center of the county, two miles north and one mile west of Washington's present town limits, at the intersection of Cedar, Jackson and Washington townships and Mr. Ritchey fixed upon a spot a mile southeast of the place where the county seat was finally located.

    Neither was disposed to surrender his position, and it looked for a time as though they would not agree, but finally the commissioners reached a compromise and it was thus that Washington was located where it now stands, a century later.

    The board of county commissioners met on August 13, 1839 when they ratified the selection of the site for the county seat and voted that the town  be "known as Washington."

    The land upon which was located this site for the new county seat was a part of the claim of Nathan Baker, and had not yet been entered, consequently it was necessary to secure the right of Nathan Baker's claim and enter the land of the land-office. It does not appear that Baker received anything for the claim and as he could well afford to relinquish part of his claim in order to have the county seat located at that place, he probably made no demand for compensation.  The commissioners, at a subsequent meeting ordered the land t be entered; and the record says that it was entered by Simon P. Teeple and Richard Moore, commissioners of Washington county, October 15, 1839.

    The Commissioners also ordered the clerk of the board to advertise  a sale of lots in Washington on Monday, August 19, 1839, to continue two days if necessary.

    The first settlement made on the present site of the city of Washington was in the latter part of the year 1839 by Joseph Adams, commonly known as "Old Quincy" Adams.  He came from Ohio, and arrived in Washington on the 17th day of October. He purchased two lots located off the southeast corner of the public square, on the corner of South Iowa and  Jefferson Street, where B. W. Bozman home is now, 302 South Iowa Avenue. He immediately set about the work of erecting a blacksmith shop and a residence. The buildings were both made of logs, the shop being 16 x 16, while the residence was 14 x 16.

   The logs for these buildings are said to have been cut by a young man by the name of Ed DeLong, on the side of Crooked Creek, just above the bridge that crosses that stream on the Brighton road.

    The furniture in the Adams home was quite scanty, and most of it was made from the crude material found in the woods, and prepared mainly with the help of an ax and auger. The bedsteads were made with rough poles and posts, cut from the young saplings in the timber, and put together in proper shape and securely fastened to the walls of their cabin by the use of these effective tools.The floor in their cabin was ,made pf "puncheon" split out of logs and hewed, but a great any of the early settlers had only dirt floors as lumber was almost unattainable and money to buy it was very scarce.

    The first court held in June 1840, in and for the county of Washington convened at the home of Joseph Adams. Because of the heat, it was held outdoors under the shade tree in a slough back of his cabin.

    In 1840 there were but twelve families residing in Washington. They were Joseph Adams, Henry McColough, Dr. George H. Stone, Daniel Powers, Bloomer Thompson, John Daugherty, Almon Moore, Amos Embree, John Jackson, John Hendel, H.A. Stone and Samuel Joy.

    Daniel Powers built the second house in washington. the building was a double log house, one and half stories high, with two large old-fashioned chimneys, chiefly remarkable for the amount of wood they were capable of consuming proportionate to the amount of heat that could be eliminated. there were two large rooms below and two above, reached by a common ladder.  It stood on south Marion Avenue just off the square. The building was intended for a tavern, and as such was used and did good service for many years.