Transcribed by Ann Selvig, from:  Allerton, Iowa Centennial,
July 5-6 1874 -1974, 100 Years



     Around 1850, the pioneers left the eastern states and made their strenuous journey westward in their Prairie Schooners with their families, cows and pigs.  They reached a territory known as Wayne Co., Iowa.  Some settled on this land where the soil had hardly been turned by man, while others pushed on westward.

     ++Although Iowa was organized as a territory in 1838, this region was not legally opened to white settlers until after the treaty of 1842 with the Sauk and the Fox Indians.  Four years after this treaty, the boundaries of the county were defined and the original survey of the north 3 tiers of townships was made shortly thereafter.

     +Wayne is the fifth county west of the Mississippi River in the southern tier of counties.  It comprises of twelve full and four fractional congressional townships.  The fractional townships border the state line, which cuts off two tiers of sections and a little more from the south side, leaving the area of the county about 525 square miles, or 336,000 acres.

     The natural drainage of the county is complete.  It is divided into two systems by a well-defined watershed, whose general course is nearly due east, a little south of the center, through the entire county, although it turns southward very soon after passing into Appanoose County.

     The route of a portion of the Mormon emigrants in their exodus from Illinois in 1846, lay along this divide, which was consequently known for many years as the Mormon Trail.  Other prairies extend from this tract southward, separated from each other by the timber tracks generally found in the valleys of the streams.

     The general surface of the county is rolling.  The soil is a deep rich loam derived from the drift, with a liberal mixture of vegetable mold, very productive, and adapted to the growth of corn, wheat, oats, rye, etc. in abundance.

     The native grasses grew luxuriantly when the country was first settled.  Tame grasses, such as timothy, clover and blue grass were found to thrive equally well, and are now very extensively cultivated.  With such abundance of grasses, farmers early turned their attention to stock raising, which they found very profitable, and which is now carried on very extensively.  Abundance of excellent pasturage, hay and water make it one of the foremost counties in the state for this purpose.

     Coal has not been found in abundance in this county.

     Good building stone is not abundant, although there are some exposures of good limestone, chiefly in Wright and South Fork Townships.  Materials suitable for making good brick are abundant.

     The timber of the county is of sufficient quality for ordinary purposes.

     Much attention has been given to hedging within the last decade, and its success is fully demonstrated by the miles of vigorous hedge now to be seen within the county.

     The experience of many in fruit growing within the same period has caused them to look forward to the time when there will be a good bearing orchard of all the fruits adapted to the latitude upon every farm in Wayne County.

     The first settler in what is now Wayne County, was H. B. Duncan, who, after a tedious journey of two months from Kentucky, on the 13th of Nov. 1841, located near the present village of Lineville, in Grand River Twp.  At this point he erected a cabin, twelve by fourteen feet, himself and family sleeping in wagons until his cabin was made ready for occupancy.  Mr. Duncan supposed that he had settled in the state of Missouri, and had the honor of being on the county Commissioners of Putnam Co., and also probate judge and representative in the Missouri Legislature for that county.  Before his death, which took place several years ago, he filled several important positions in Wayne Co.

     ++A dispute over the Missouri-Iowa boundary line in 1839, came to a war between the two states, known as the Honey War because of the destruction of bee trees, over the issue.  Forces for a Civil War were being mustered by both sides when it abruptly came to an end and left to the decision of the U. S. Gov’t.  The case was decided in Iowa’s favor in 1851 – thus moving the line southward which now includes Wayne County.

     +Prior to its organization, the county was attached to Appanoose, for judicial, revenue and election purposes.  On the 8th of Nov. 1850, Dr. Issac W. McCarty was appointed organizing sheriff by Judge Wm. McKay and on the 13th of Feb. 1851 Wayne Co. was duly organized.  At the Aug. election of this year, county officers were elected as fellows:  Seth Anderson, Co. Judge; Thomas McPherson, Clerk; D. Payton, Treas. and Recorder; Issac W. McCarty, Sheriff.  At this election thirty votes were cast.  The amount of revenue of all kinds for the first year footed up $64.30.

     Three commissioners were appointed by the Legislature to locate the county seat.  They discharged their duty in the spring of 1851 selecting the site of the present town of Corydon.  During this time the town was partly surveyed.  The lots were owned by the county, and were sold at public sale, after being appraised.  The first lot was sold to George Gorman, Nov. 8, 1851 for $38.00.

     The name selected by the commissioners for the county seat was Springfield, but Hon. George W. McCleary, Sec. of State, wrote the clerk that there was another town in the state of that name, and suggested the name of Anthony – for Gen. Anthony Wayne. This name met the approbation of the clerk, but Judge Anderson, being from Corydon, Ind. preferred the name of Corydon.  Being unable to agree, it is said they finally determined to decide the matter by a contest at poker.  In this the judge proved the victor and so the county seat of Wayne Co. received the name of Corydon.

     The first Dist. Court was held in the spring of 1852, in a cabin hastily constructed and still unfinished.  The floor was laid down loosely, and only half the roof was on.  The walls were neither chinked nor painted, and the judge’s desk was a keg.  Judge McKay, however, expressed himself as satisfied and was completely at home in the “cabin courthouse.”  A grand jury was duly empaneled and committed to the charge of the sheriff.  Having no jury rooms here in those days, they were conducted down to the slough, or ravine, in the south part of the town of Corydon, where they seated themselves on the grass to make inquisition of such matters as might be brought before them.  No person appearing to give evidence that any offense had been committed in the county, they returned in the evening and reported to the court accordingly.  They were duly discharged, feeling none the worse for their labors.  There were but three cases to be disposed of at this term.  On the second day it rained, and a violent gust of wind carried away a portion of the papers, just as the first witness had been sworn, and as they could not be found, the trials had to be postponed.  Among the attorneys present at this term were A. Harris and H. Tannehill, both of Centerville.

     A Court house was built in 1856 by William F. Lancaster and John Davis, which cost the county $600.00.

     Chariton River derives its name from a French trader, who at an early day had a trading post near its mouth, in Chariton Co., Mo. Medicine Creek, three branches of which head in this county, received its name from an incident that once occurred at Gregory’s Ford, in Grundy Co., Mo.   A doctor crossing the stream at that point on horseback, when its waters were somewhat swollen, became submerged, pill bags and all.  His medicines were dissolved and commingled with the waters of the stream, and thereafter the people called it Medicine Creek.  Dick Creek was named by a party of hunters who encamped on its banks in memory of one of their oxen that died there.


+ From Illustrated Historical Atlas, The State of Iowa 1875

++From Iowa – the American Guide Series 1938

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