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Title: History of Linn County Iowa
       From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time (1911)

Author: Luther A. Brewer
        Barthinius L. Wick

Release Date: February 27, 2013 [EBook #42220]

Language: English

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History of Linn County Iowa

Luther A. Brewer Luther A. Brewer

Linn County Iowa

From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time

Members Historical Society of Linn County, Iowa

The Torch Press

Copyright 1911 by
Luther A. Brewer



[Pg vii]


The history of Linn county is covered by the events of only a few years, if compared with the history of communities east of the Mississippi. The space of one life-time embraces all that has happened here since the first white man looked upon our goodly heritage. True, that life has been prolonged beyond the scriptural three score and ten years. Robert Ellis, who came to this community more than seventy years ago, and who was one of the very early settlers, yet lives in a hale and vigorous age on land he "claimed" at that time.

But if the history of the county does not cover many years, it yet is a history crowded with happenings of interest, some of the incidents being more or less stirring.

History is defined as a record of the past. It does not concern itself with the present. It has been the purpose of the editors of this volume to treat somewhat at length of the early days in the county. Those conversant with events occurring prior to the Civil war are rapidly moving on, and it is high time that their recollections of beginnings here were gathered and put in permanent form.

This has been attempted—how imperfectly done no one realizes more keenly than we realize it. But like little Mary Wood of the story, we have done the best we could in the few months given us to prepare the pages which follow. We have done some things which need not be done again by any one who follows us. We have made definite some things in our history as a county that heretofore have been matters of uncertainty. It is felt that the present volume will make an excellent starting point for some future chronicler.

The task of the historian has been an arduous one—far more arduous than can be imagined by any save those who have done similar work. Withal the task has been one of pleasure and of inspiration. The pursuit of knowledge in this instance has really been a delight.

We have been taught many things by our work that add to the sum of the pleasures of living in a day crowded with all the conveniences of the twentieth century. Our respect for the courageous pioneer men and the equally courageous and self-sacrificing pioneer women of our county has been placed high. Nobly did they suffer, enduring privations now undreamed of, and never complaining that theirs was a hard lot. We stand with uncovered heads and with a reverent feeling in their presence.

It is not possible to make due acknowledgments to all those who aided in gathering the material in this volume. Many who came here in the early years of the county have been consulted, and always with profit. The drudgery of the work of making this book has been greatly lessened[Pg viii] by their courtesy and their help. We thank them all. Some of them have been credited with their assistance in the narrative itself. In addition to the names mentioned in the text we desire to give thanks for aid and counsel to N. E. Brown, perhaps the best posted man in Cedar Rapids on the early history of the city; to Ed. M. Scott, for most valuable aid in the preparation of the chapter on banks and banking; to Capt. J. O. Stewart and Col. W. G. Dows for appreciated assistance in the writing of the chapter on our military history; to Carle D. Brown, of the Commercial Art Press, who gathered most of the illustrations for the volume; to W. F. Stahl, for aid in giving the history of the United Brethren church in the county. Robert Ellis, Mrs. Susan Mekeel, Mrs. Susan Shields, Mrs. Elizabeth Hrdlicka, Augustus Abbe, J. H. Preston, C. G. Greene, J. S. Ely, Wm. Smyth, C. F. Butler, L. W. Mansfield, and many others have assisted in gathering much valuable material concerning the lives of the pioneers.

Much that has been gathered concerning times far removed from the present, is from "hearsay," hence it has been difficult to be certain as to the correct facts in some instances. Inaccuracies may be found, but these are due to unavoidable omissions, largely on the part of those who have related these happenings and not from any sense of bias or prejudice.

All prior county histories have been consulted as well as the early state gazetteers, Andreas' Atlas, Carroll's History, History of Crescent Lodge, History of the Bench and Bar of Iowa, History of the Courts and Legal Profession, Proceedings of the Linn County Historical Society; and the files of the newspapers published in the county in an early day. It is needless to add that the early city directories have been largely used with reference to the business men of Cedar Rapids in the early days.

References to persons have been confined to mere statements of facts and have been free from undue flattery on the one hand and from anything derogatory on the other. The members of the legal and medical professions have been referred to at some length for the reason that the lawyers and doctors were important factors in pioneer days, both in the organization of the county and in the promotion of the various enterprises in our towns.

Trusting that this history may be of some value in preserving material which ere long would pass beyond reach of preservation, this work is respectfully dedicated to the early pioneers of the county, whose lives and careers the authors have attempted to describe in the following pages.

Luther A. Brewer
Barthinius L. Wick

[Pg ix]


Chapter I The Birth of Iowa1
Chapter II The First Inhabitants3
Chapter III Iowa Historically13
Chapter IV Iowa and Her People17
Chapter V The Geology of Linn County24
Chapter VI Beginnings in Linn County31
Chapter VII William Abbe, First Settler51
Chapter VIII County Seat Contests—First Railroad in County57
Chapter IX The Old Settlers' Association66
Chapter X Postoffices and Politics82
Chapter XI The Physicians of the County86
Chapter XII The Material Growth of the County92
Chapter XIII Rural Life98
Chapter XIV A Hero of the Canadian Rebellion101
Chapter XV The Newspapers of the County106
Chapter XVI The Bohemian Element in the County121
Chapter XVII The Early Marriage Record127
Chapter XVIII Historic Roads and Other Monuments142
Chapter XIX Some of the Old Settlers145
Chapter XX Early Linn County Lawyers and Courts169
Chapter XXI Chatty Mention of Bench and Bar177
Chapter XXII The Schools of the County194
Chapter XXIII Historical Sketch of Cornell College201
Chapter XXIV History of Coe College215
Chapter XXV The Old Blair Building232
Chapter XXVI Some of the Old Cemeteries242
Chapter XXVII Early Experiences in Stage and Express244
Chapter XXVIII Linn County Libraries248
Chapter XXIX Wages and Prices in County from 1846 to 1856253
Chapter XXX Some of the First Things in Cedar Rapids and Linn County256
Chapter XXXI Society in the Early Days261
Chapter XXXII Southern Influence267
Chapter XXXIII Some Township History270
Chapter XXXIV Lisbon and the United Brethren Church291
Chapter XXXV County and District Politics298
Chapter XXXVI Cedar Rapids307
Chapter XXXVII Beginnings of Churches and Fraternities in Cedar Rapids395
Chapter XXXVIII Catholicism in Linn County401
[Pg x]Chapter XXXIX Linn County Statistics416
Chapter XL The Bridges across the Cedar at Cedar Rapids and Early Steamboating on the Cedar River420
Chapter XLI Banks and Banking in Linn County435
Chapter XLII Roster of County Officers451
Chapter XLIII History of Marion, the County Seat460
Chapter XLIV Linn County in War470
Chapter XLV Odds and Ends of History and Reminiscence479

[Pg xi]


Luther A. BrewerFrontispiece
B. L. Wick4
Lewis Field Linn8
A Scene on the Cedar River at Cedar Rapids in the Fifties12
Residence of Isaac Carroll in 183912
An Early Land Deed16
Shepherd's Tavern20
Geological Illustrations24
The Astor House28
Double Log Cabin built by William Abbe32
First Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids in 185136
Residence of Williston Jones36
Daniel Seward Hahn40
Linn County Scenes44
Going Shopping48
Indian Scenes48
Former Pastors United Brethren Church, Lisbon52
Samuel W. Durham56
Some Early Members United Brethren Church, Lisbon60
Present Day Scene64
An Old Land Receipt64
Steamboat on Cedar, 188764
Dr. John F. Ely68
John A. Kearns72
A. J. Reid72
C. S. Howard72
William Stick72
The Vardy House, Cedar Rapids76
Franklin Block and Residence of P. W. Earle76
The Listebarger Cabin, Cedar Rapids76
Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Quass80
Mr. and Mrs. William Giddings80
Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Millburn80
Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Lacock80
J. P. Glass80
F. A. Helbig80
Prof. H. H. Freer84
Rev. Geo. B. Bowman84
Joseph Mekota84
W. F. Severa84
Dr. J. S. Love88[Pg xii]
J. H. Vosmek92
Fr. T. J. Sullivan92
Dr. E. L. Mansfield92
Hon. James Ure96
Judge J. H. Rothrock96
J. J. Daniels96
L. J. Palda96
Bridge at the Palisades101
The Palisades of the Cedar101
Barney McShane Cabin104
Cabin in "Cracker Settlement"104
United Brethren Church, Lisbon108
Main Street, Mount Vernon108
Alexander Laurance112
Old M. E. Church, Mount Vernon116
Street Scene in Lisbon116
School at Fairfax120
Methodist Church at Fairfax120
The Chapel, Cornell College124
Carnegie Library, Mount Vernon124
United Presbyterian Church at Scotch Grove128
Wood-Burning Engine, 1879128
Main Building, Cornell College132
South-Hall, Cornell College132
Henry Bruce House, Springville136
First Springville Band136
The "Old Sem" Cornell College140
Bowman Hall, Cornell College140
Butler Park at Springville144
Business District at Springville144
Picnic at Home of Geo. L. Durno, Springville, in 1884148
Illinois Central Depot, Central City148
Methodist Church, Center Point152
South Main Street, Troy Mills152
M. E. Church, Troy Mills156
Mill at Prairieburg156
At Old Settlers' Reunion, Marion160
A Park Scene in Marion160
Court House, Marion164
Wapsie River and Mill at Central City164
Isaac Butler168
Public School at Springville172
Methodist Church, Springville176
Home of J. F. Butler, Springville176
Methodist Church at Palo180
Scene at Springville180[Pg xiii]
Early View of Springville184
First Store in Springville184
Lutheran Church, Lisbon188
Main Street, Lisbon188
Presbyterian Church at Springville192
The Butler Farm at Springville192
Cornell College in 1865200
A Street Scene in Marion204
The Daniels Hotel, Marion204
Rev. Samuel M. Fellows, A. M.208
Commercial Hotel, Center Point212
Bridge over the Cedar at Center Point212
W. F. King, LL. D.216
Main Street from the North, Fairfax220
Main Street looking West, Central City220
An Old Grave at Springville224
Rev. J. B. Albrook, D. D.224
Prof. Harriette J. Cook224
Mrs. Margaret McKell King224
Baptist Church, Central City228
Old Barn at Central City228
James E. Harlan, LL. D.232
Congregational Church, Central City236
Christian Church, Central City236
Scene at Troy Mills240
Mill and Dam at Coggon240
High School, Central City244
Bridge Over Wapsie at Central City244
T. S. Parvin248
West Rowley Street, Walker253
Main Street, Prairieburg253
Main Street, Springville256
Quaker Meeting House at Whittier256
Main Street, Central City, from the South261
General Store at Covington261
Upper Wagon Bridge, Central City264
Henderson Bridge, Central City264
Baptist Church, Prairieburg268
Milwaukee Bridge, Covington268
The "Old School," Coggon272
South Side Main Street, Coggon272
Scene on the Cedar at Cedar Rapids276
Birdseye View Looking East, Cedar Rapids276
Cedar River Dam, Cedar Rapids276
Quaker Oats Plant, Cedar Rapids280[Pg xiv]
Street Railway Station at Bever Park, Cedar Rapids280
View of Cedar Rapids from the Island288
Railroad Yards at Cedar Rapids288
Father Flynn, Cedar Rapids296
Public and Commercial Buildings in Cedar Rapids, 1910300
Birdseye View of Cedar Rapids in 1868304
Father Svrdlik, Cedar Rapids307
Birdseye View of Cedar Rapids in 1889312
Federal Building, Cedar Rapids320
Auditorium, Cedar Rapids320
Part of Zoo in Bever Park, Cedar Rapids328
A Scene in Bever Park, Cedar Rapids328
Sixteenth Avenue Bridge, Cedar Rapids336
First Street, corner Second Avenue, in 1869336
First U. B. Church West of Mississippi River344
Coe College Buildings352
Sinclair Packing Plant, Cedar Rapids360
Black Hawk366
A Winnebago Indian366
The Slave Dance of the Sac and Fox366
Cedar Rapids Country Club House368
George Greene Square368
Riverside Park, Cedar Rapids368
Cedar Rapids in 1856369
The Old Blair Building371
Montrose Hotel, Cedar Rapids376
S. C. Bever384
Thomas Gainer384
E. D. Waln384
Rev. Elias Skinner384
J. M. May392
Capt. A. Bowman392
E. M. Crow392
Father Lowry401
St. Wenceslaus Church, Cedar Rapids404
St. Wenceslaus School, Cedar Rapids404
The Late Very Reverend Dean Gunn408
Quaker Oats Train412
Scene on Cedar River412
St. Patrick's Church, Cedar Rapids412
Mercy Hospital, Cedar Rapids416
Judge N. M. Hubbard422
Views along the Cedar River424
Park Views in Cedar Rapids432
In and Around Mt. Vernon436
R. D. Stephens440[Pg xv]
Addison Daniels440
J. B. Young440
I. M. Preston440
S. S. Johnson444
Thos. J. McKean448
N. W. Isbell448
William Greene448
O. S. Bowling448
Independent Hose Company, Cedar Rapids, 1875452
City Residences, Cedar Rapids456
View of Marion, 1868460
James E. Bromwell, Sr.464
T. M. Sinclair468
J. O. Stewart468
Col. T. Z. Cook472
Some Early Currency476
Street Views in Cedar Rapids, in 1910480


Linn County1
Showing Black Hawk Purchase184
Showing Des Moines County Subdivided185
After the Sac and Fox Cessions of 1837190
Late Division of Black Hawk Purchase191
Showing the two Cessions as at Present Divided197
Reproduction of the First Map of Cedar Rapids (part 1)316
Reproduction of the First Map of Cedar Rapids (part 2)316


[Pg 1]


The Birth of Iowa

Iowa is known as a prairie state. Prairie is a French word and signifies meadow. It was the name first applied to the great treeless plains of North America by the French missionaries who were the first white men to explore these regions.

As yet scientists have not been able to explain the origin of the prairies. Different theories have been advanced, but the interesting problem is without satisfactory and conclusive solution.

Agassiz, the scientist, maintained that America is not the "new world." "Hers was the first dry land lifted out of the waters," he wrote; "hers the first shores washed by the ocean that enveloped all the earth besides; and while Europe was represented only by islands rising here and there above the sea, America already stretched one unbroken line of land from Nova Scotia to the far West."

Iowa, also, was born, had a beginning sometime. Just how many years ago this interesting event took place it is difficult to approximate. Prof. Samuel Calvin, state geologist, says that "geological records, untampered with, and unimpeachable, declare that for uncounted years Iowa, together with the great valley of the Mississippi, lay beneath the level of the sea. So far as it was inhabited at all, marine forms of animals and plants were its only occupants."

The soils of the state were produced by the action of the ice in what is known as the glacial period. We are told how by Professor Calvin:

"Glaciers and glacial action have contributed in a very large degree to the making of our magnificent State. What Iowa would have been had it never suffered from the effects of the ponderous ice sheets that successively overflowed its surface, is illustrated, but not perfectly, in the driftless area. Here we have an area that was not invaded by glaciers. Allamakee, parts of Jackson, Dubuque, Clayton, Fayette, and Winneshiek counties belong to the driftless area. During the last two decades deep wells have been bored through the loose surface deposit, and down into the underlying rocks. The record of these wells shows that the rock surface is very uneven. Before the glacial drift which now mantles nearly the whole of Iowa was deposited, the surface had been carved into an intricate system of hills and valleys. There were narrow gorges hundreds of feet in depth, and there were rugged, rocky cliffs, and isolated buttes corresponding in height with the depth of the valleys.

"To a person passing from the drift-covered to the driftless part of the state, the topography presents a series of surprises. The principal drainage streams flow in valleys that measure, from the summits of the divides, six hundred or more in depth. The Oneota, or Upper Iowa River, in Allamakee county, for example, flows between picturesque cliffs that rise almost vertically from three to four hundred feet, while from the summit of the cliffs the land rises gradually to the crest of the divide, three, four or five miles back from the stream. Tributary streams cut the lateral slopes and canyon walls at intervals. These again have tributaries of the second order. In such a region a quarter section of level land would be a curiosity. This is a fair sample of what Iowa would have been had it not been planed down by the leveling effects of the glaciers. Soils of uniform excellence would have been impossible in a non-glacial Iowa. The soils of Iowa have a value equal to all of the silver and gold mines of the world combined.

[Pg 2]

"And for this rich heritage of soils we are indebted to great rivers of ice that overflowed Iowa from the north and northwest. The glaciers in their long journey ground up the rocks over which they moved and mingled the fresh rock flour from granites of British America and northern Minnesota with pulverized limestones and shales of more southern regions, and used these rich materials in covering up the bald rocks and leveling the irregular surface of preglacial Iowa. The materials are in places hundreds of feet in depth. They are not oxidized or leached, but retain the carbonates and other soluble constituents that contribute so largely to the growth of plants. The physical condition of the materials is ideal, rendering the soil porous, facilitating the distribution of moisture, and offering unmatched opportunities for the employment of improved machinery in all of the processes connected with cultivation. Even the driftless area received great benefit from the action of glaciers, for although the area was not invaded by ice, it was yet to a large extent covered by a peculiar deposit called loess, which is generally connected with one of the later sheets of drift. The loess is a porous clay, rich in carbonate of lime. Throughout the driftless area it has covered up many spots that would otherwise have been bare rocks. It covered the stiff intractable clays that would otherwise have been the only soils of the region. It in itself constitutes a soil of great fertility. Every part of Iowa is debtor in some way to the great ice sheets of the glacial period.

"Soils are everywhere the product of rock disintegration, and so the quality of the soils in a given locality must necessarily be determined in large measure by the kind of rock from which they were derived.

"From this point of view, therefore, the history of Iowa's superb soils begins with first steps in rock making. The very oldest rocks of the Mississippi Valley have contributed something to making our soils what they are, and every later formation laid down over the surface of Iowa, or regions north of it, has furnished its quota of materials to the same end. The history of Iowa's soils, therefore, embraces the whole sweep of geologic times.

"The chief agents concerned in modifying the surface throughout most of Iowa since the disappearance of the latest glaciers have been organic, although the physical and chemical influences of air and water have not been without marked effect. The growth and decay of a long series of generations of plants have contributed certain organic constituents to the soil. Earth worms bring up fine material from considerable depths and place it in position to be spread out upon the surface. They drag leaves and any manageable portion of plants into their burrows, and much of the material so taken down into the ground decays and enriches the ground to a depth of several inches. The pocket gopher has done much to furnish a surface layer of loose, mellow, easily cultivated and highly productive soil. Like the earth worm, the gopher for century after century has been bringing up to the surface fine material, to the amount of several tons annually to the acre, avoiding necessarily the pebbles, cobbles and coarser constituents. The burrows collapse, the undermined boulders and large fragments sink downwards, rains and winds spread out the gopher hills and worm castings, and the next year, and the next, the process is repeated; and so it has been for all the years making up the centuries since the close of the glacial epoch. Organic agents in the form of plants and burrowing animals have worked unremittingly through many centuries, and accomplished a work of incalculable value in pulverizing, mellowing and enriching the superficial stratum, and bringing it to the ideal condition in which it was found by the explorers and pioneers from whose advent dates the historical period of our matchless Iowa."

The last invasion, we are informed, was from 100,000 to 170,000 years ago—somewhat prior to the recollection of the "oldest inhabitant."

[Pg 3]


The First Inhabitants

Who were Iowa's first inhabitants is a question of some interest. Archeologists tell us that there have been found in the Mississippi Valley the remains of two distinct prehistoric races. The first human skulls discovered resemble those of the gorilla. These skulls indicate a low degree of intelligence. The first inhabitants were but a grade above the lower animals. They were small in body, and brute-like in appearance.

Next came the "mound builders." There are evidences that these had some degree of intelligence. Copper and stone implements have been found in the mounds. Whether they built towns and cities or tilled the soil is not known. Pieces of cloth discovered in the mounds would indicate some knowledge of the arts. Their number, their size, color, customs—all are lost to us. We know they existed, and that is all. Several of these mounds have been explored in Iowa. They are found in the eastern parts of the state from Dubuque to Burlington. Many interesting articles have been found in them—sea shells, copper axes and spools, stone knives, pottery, pipes carved with effigies of animals and birds. Skeletons and altars of stone were unearthed a few years ago in some of these mounds, and in one were discovered hieroglyphics representing letters and figures of trees, people and animals.

These mounds have also been discovered in the central part of the state, the valley of the Des Moines river being especially rich in them. Sometimes they are in groups, as though built for defense. It has been suggested that probably the conquerors of the mound builders were the immediate ancestors of the Indians.

When on June 25, 1673, Marquette and Joliet fastened their frail craft to the west bank of the Mississippi river where the Iowa enters it in Louisa county,[A] the only people living in what is now Iowa were the American Indians. When these venturesome explorers came ashore and ascended a slight eminence they beheld a scene of rare beauty. As far as the eye could carry they looked over an expanse covered with green grass waving in the gentle wind like the billows of the sea, with here and there a grove of oak, elm, walnut, maple, and sycamore. All was peaceful, calm, and restful; the stillness of the desert prevailed. That the country was inhabited was indicated by a thin column of smoke which arose some few miles inland from a small grove. The travelers soon reached the spot. There they found a small company of Indians in a village on the banks of the stream. The Indians were probably the more astonished of the two parties. They looked with wonder upon the strange beings who had come among them so unceremoniously and unannounced. It was probably their first view of the white man. Recovering somewhat from their astonishment, they made overtures of friendship by offering the pipe of peace.

It was soon discovered that the band was a portion of the Illinois tribe. Marquette had enough acquaintance with the language of this tribe to enable him to hold an intelligent conversation with his hosts. He told the Indians who their visitors were, and why they were there. He expressed the great pleasure he and his companions took at meeting some of the inhabitants of that beautiful country.[Pg 4] They in turn were given a cordial welcome by the Indians, one of the chiefs thus addressing them:

"I thank the Black Gown Chief [Marquette] and his friend [Joliet] for taking so much pains to come and visit us. Never before has the earth been so beautiful, nor the sun so bright as now. Never has the river been so calm or free from rocks which your canoes have removed as they passed down. Never has the tobacco had so fine a flavor, nor our corn appeared so beautiful as we behold it today. Ask the Great Spirit to give us life and health, and come ye and dwell with us."

This was an eloquent speech and demonstrated the sincerity of the welcome.

Marquette and Joliet were then invited to a feast which meanwhile had been made ready by the squaws. Afterwards Marquette wrote a description of this banquet, and it is of interest to reproduce it here:

"It consisted of four courses. First there was a large wooden bowl filled with a preparation of corn meal boiled in water and seasoned with oil. The Indian conducting the ceremonies had a large wooden spoon with which he dipped up the mixture (called by the Indians tagamity), passing it in turn into the mouths of the different members of the party. The second course consisted of fish nicely cooked, which was separated from the bones and placed in the mouths of the guests. The third course was a roasted dog, which our explorers declined with thanks, when it was at once removed from sight. The last course was a roast of buffalo, the fattest pieces of which were passed the Frenchmen, who found it to be most excellent meat."

The Frenchmen were so delighted with the beauty of the country and the hospitality of the Indians that they remained with their friends six days. They explored the valleys, hunted and fished and feasted on the choice game they captured. The natives did all they could to make their stay one gay round of pleasure. They welcomed the coming guests with genuine hospitality, and when they could keep them no longer speeded them on their way in the true spirit. Six hundred of them escorted Marquette and Joliet to their boats and wished them bon voyage.

This discovery attracted but little attention at the time in Europe, and many years passed before what is now known as Iowa appears in history.


The Mound Builders, from what information we have been able to obtain, must have lived in the Mississippi valley and at one time or another way back in some remote age they must have resided on what later became Iowa. Chronology is not definite as to when or how the Mound Builders arrived in the new world. It is merely speculation when one says that traditions point to a time two or three thousand years ago when the Mound Builders resided in the Mississippi valley and lived in villages and towns. It is true, that in various parts of the old world records have been found of other races which have preceded the races of which history has any definite record. As the North American Indians had no written language prior to the arrival of the Europeans, their traditions, consequently, go back but a short time at best.

It is true that there have been found on the American continent various bones of animals which no longer exist, and there have been found relics of a race of men who were far different from the Indians as the whites found them on their arrival. In North America these pre-historic races have been called Mound Builders, and they have been the first inhabitants of the vast plains of what later became the United States. Still, it may be possible that the Mound Builders may have driven out or exterminated some other preceding race of people, who had dwelt in this country for ages before the Mound Builders made their entrance into what is known as the New World. Who knows?


[Pg 5]

In Johnson's Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, page 125, one finds the following: "Remains of the Mound Builders are spread over a vast extent of country. They are found on the sources of the Alleghany, in the western part of the state of New York, and in nearly all the western states, including Michigan and Iowa. They were observed by Lewis and Clark on the Missouri a thousand miles above its junction with the Mississippi. They lined the shores of the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida, whence they extended through Alabama and Georgia into South Carolina. They are especially numerous in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Texas. Many of these remnants were evidently designed as works of defense or as large towers in war. No inconsiderable number appear to have been formed as sepulchre monuments or as places of burial for the dead, while others seemed obviously to have been constructed as temples or places of worship or sacrifice."

While Linn county and Iowa have not as many mounds of as much interest as, for example, the Circle Mound in Ohio, still there are a number of mounds found in eastern Iowa and a number in Linn county which would appear to have been constructed by Mound Builders, or, at least, by some pre-historic race long since extinct. Some mounds found near Palo would indicate that they must have been constructed a long time ago, for even trees of large dimensions have been found growing on top and around these mounds. The remnants certainly give evidence in places as though they had been constructed for religious purposes, which evidently is true of nearly all such remnants which have recently been discovered in Yucatan and Mexico.

Some stone implements and ornaments have been found in some of these mounds. These implements are all flint spear and arrow heads and have been worked with much care and skill. Some pottery has also been discovered, at times ornamented and at other times very coarse. Some copper implements have been found of a kind and quality as discovered in the copper region of Lake Superior, which, undoubtedly, have been worked by the Indians and perhaps by the Mound Builders. No bones have so far been discovered to indicate that the Mound Builders had the use of any domestic animals. Very seldom have human skeletons been found, which might attest to the fact that these had been dug ages and ages ago. No tablets of any kind have been discovered, which might indicate that the Mound Builders had at no time a written language.

Science has held that the Mound Builders were an agricultural people and compared with the Indians much more civilized, and that the Mississippi valley was densely populated until the arrival of the Indians. Whether the Indians exterminated them or they were driven away, or they voluntarily removed from this part of the country is still a debatable question.

"If it is really true that there were pre-historic peoples, then the oldest continent would be, in all probability, the first inhabited; and as this is the oldest continent in the formations of the geological period, and as there are found relics of man in England in identically the same strata as are shown in Linn county, why may we not reasonably expect to find relics of man—relics as old as any—in Linn county? If man once existed here, why may he not have always existed here? It is certainly unreasonable to think young Europe should alone have early relics of man.

"What place the Mound Builders are entitled to in the world's history, since they have left no relics but mounds of earth, which mounds are probably funeral[Pg 6] pyres or places of sepulchre, we can simply conjecture. We believe some rude carvings on slabs have been exhumed at Grand Traverse, Michigan, Davenport, Iowa, and Rockford, Illinois. These carvings may have reference to the sun, moon and stars; we believe the savants favor such an interpretation. As to where he lived, careful geological study of his mound may some day determine. He was a link in the chain of man's existence; tracing it to its source we may discover some hitherto unknown facts regarding man's origin, or the ancient history of America. This continent may have been more intimately connected with Asia than is at present considered....

"Compare the average life of these nations with the age of the Cedar valley; compare historic age with Cedar valley, whose channel has been cut down through the rocks between one and two hundred feet. Look at these old Devonian rocks, with their fossils as fresh as of yesterday. Look at the clay soil that overlies the rocks. Has it been changed in fourteen hundred or in six thousand years? Now look at those mounds that are on the crests of so many ridges, and say how old they are! Forests of giant trees have come and gone over them, how many times? Those mounds were built by the people known as the Mound Builders. What of their life? What of their age? What of their history? We have the mounds, and substantially the mounds only. But these mounds are an interesting study of themselves. We have not observed these mounds only in the valley of the Cedar river, above and below Cedar Rapids; our observations find them in positions as follows:


1N. W. 1/4 S. W. 1/43583711
2S. 1/2 S. E. 1/41683714
3S. 1/2 N. W. 1/41683711
4N. W. 1/4 N. E. 1/4178373
5N. 1/2 N. W. 1/42083711
6E. 1/21883711
7W. 1/21883711
8N. W. 1/4 N. W. 1/42483712
 Total   84

"No. 1 has eleven mounds, situated on the crest of a divide. The general direction of locations is from north to south, or south to north. The correct location, I believe, is from south to north; that is, they point to the north. These mounds are now raised about three feet above the level, and are uniformly thirty feet in diameter. Counting from the south, the sixth and seventh are generally within a few feet—come very near touching each other; the others are as near as, may be, two diameters apart. These remarks will apply to No. 2, No. 3, No. 5 and No. 6. No. 2 has eleven in a line (as No. 1,) and then three mounds to the east appear to be parallel, and may have had the remaining eight removed by cultivation. No. 4 is on the bottom—second bench land; are a little larger in size; the others, to make out the eleven, may have been destroyed by cultivation. No. 7 has eight in position, and then a valley intervenes, and the three additional, making the eleven, are on the ridge next to the north. No. 8 has twelve. They are on the crest of a divide which passes around the head of a deep ravine, and follow the divide at the angle. Most of these mounds (No. 8) have been lately opened, but we think no relics were found. We have been careful to find the place that the earth composing the mounds was taken from. Generally, the[Pg 7] banks of a near ravine indicate, by their shape, the place. Under the strongest sunlight, in a mound cut through the center, we could detect no indication or difference in the clay to show that it had been removed or disturbed, or that there had been any remains in it to discolor the clay in their decomposition.

"Let it be observed that the mounds are substantially north and south in line of location. They are eleven in number, uniform in size, and, I believe, cover every ridge in the vicinity of the rapids of the Cedar having the direction sufficient in length on which the mounds could be placed. They are built in the locality the least likely to be disturbed, and in the shape and of the material the most enduring. There certainly was intelligence displayed in their location and in the selection of the material of which they are constructed, as well as in the design of their form and positions. There may have been more mounds than these, but these are all that are left—all that are left of that race which might have sent from their number emigrants to people the new land, to the far west, the last continent, fresh and vigorous from the ocean, the newest born, the best then adapted for man's material and mental development."—History of Linn County, 1878, p. 319.

J. S. Newberry, in Johnson's Cyclopedia, says:

"From all the facts before us, we can at present say little more than this, that the valley of the Mississippi and the Atlantic coast were once densely populated by a sedentary, agricultural and partially civilized race, quite different from the modern nomadic Indians, though, possibly, the progenitors of some of the Indian tribes; and that, after many centuries of occupation, they disappeared from our country at least one thousand, perhaps many thousands of years, before the advent of the Europeans. The pre-historic remains found so abundantly in Arizona appear to be related to the civilization of Mexico; and the remains of semi-civilized Indian tribes now found there are, perhaps, descendants of the ancient builders of the great houses and cities whose ruins are found there."

Researches concerning ancient mounds have been carried on in a most scientific manner by Dr. Cyrus Thomas. His chief work and research have been embodied in a monograph of over 700 pages and found the 12th Report of the government publications.

Major J. W. Powell, whose studies of this subject have been considered authoritative, in his Pre-historic Man in America has the following to say:

"Widely scattered throughout the United States ... artificial mounds are discovered which may be enumerated by thousands and hundreds of thousands. They vary greatly in size. Some are small so that half a dozen laborers with shovels might construct one of them in a day, while others cover acres and are scores of feet in height. These mounds were observed by the early explorers and pioneers of the country.... Pseud-archeologists descanted on the Mound Builders, that once inhabited the land, and they told of swarming populations who had reached a high condition of culture, erecting temples, practicing arts in metals and using hieroglyphics.... It is enough to say that the Mound Builders were the Indian tribes discovered by the white men. It may well be that some of the mounds were erected by tribes extinct when Columbus first saw the shores, but they were kindred in culture to the peoples that still existed.... Pre-Columbian culture was indigenous, it began at the lowest stage of savagery and developed to the highest and was in many places passing into barbarism when the good queen sold her jewels."—J. W. Powell, quoted in Larned, Vol. I, p. 45.

Thus scientists do not agree whether or not the Mound Builders were closely akin to the Indians. However recent investigators seem to agree with Thomas[Pg 8] and Powell that the early inhabitants were much like the later denizens of the American prairies in their mode of life and means of subsistence, in their weapons, arts, usages, and customs, in their institutions and physical characteristics, they were the same people in different stages of advancement.

John Fiske, one of the scholarly writers on American history, has the following to say on the early races in the United States:

"Whether the Indians are descended from this ancient population or not, is a question with which we have as yet no satisfactory method of dealing. It is not unlikely that these glacial men may have perished from off the face of the earth, having been crushed and supplanted by stronger races. There may have been several successive waves of migration of which the Indians were the latest."—Fiske's Discovery of America, Vol. I, p. 15.

"The aboriginal American, as we know him with his language and legends, his physical and mental peculiarities, his social observance and customs, is most emphatically a native and not an imported article. He belongs to the American continent as strictly as its opossums and armadillo, its maize and its golden rods, or any number of its aboriginal fauna and flora belong to it."—Ibid., p. 20.

An Iowa investigator, C. L. Webster, some years ago examined several mounds on the banks of the Cedar river near Charles City and "found the skulls small which would show an extremely low grade of mental intelligence."—American Naturalist, Vol. 23, p. 1888.

This may go to show that the early inhabitants were different from the nomadic Indians that the first whites saw as they landed on the bleak shores of New England in the eleventh century.

Most writers on this subject are led to believe that we have conclusive evidence that man existed before the time of the glaciers and that from primitive conditions he has lived here and developed through the same stages which may correspond to the development of primitive man in Europe and Asia. Whether the first settlers in Iowa then, were Mound Builders, or Indians, or some other race may never be known, for a certainty. It is enough to say, that man existed and lived on what has become known as Iowa many, many centuries ago, and he left few if any remains which can testify to his stage of development or to his mode of living. This is no doubt true, that man existed in Linn county countless ages ago, but whether it was a different race, or simply the Indian race at a different stage of development may never be known and thus will always remain a mystery.


When the first white settlers located in Linn county the Red Men still occupied the land, and even after treaties had been fully ratified, Indians were slow to give up these choice hunting places along the Red Cedar and the Wapsie. It is needless to say that the rights of Indians were not protected and they invariably were set aside and driven away as fast as possible. Still nearly all of the early settlers were very friendly toward the Red Men, and in return received many favors from their hands. Of course, the Red Men were jealous of the whites, who gradually kept coming in and drove the Indians away. The Indians who most frequented this part of Iowa after the settlement by whites were the Sac and Fox and Winnebagoes. The Winnebagoes were a remnant of a warlike tribe, and at one time in Wisconsin were very powerful. These joined with the Sac and Fox in the Black Hawk war and were driven across the Mississippi river after the signing of the treaty of peace.


[Pg 9]

The pioneers in this county from necessity had to be friendly with the Indians. Many of the early settlers were able to speak the Winnebago language, such as the family of William Abbe, the Edgertons, the Usher family, the Crows, and many others. The Winnebagoes lingered around in this part of Iowa in the thirties and forties, when they were finally removed to Minnesota, much against their own wishes. But the Indians, rightly in this respect as in many others, were not considered, for the white men ruled and looked out for their own selfish interests and did not consider the side of mercy, justice or the rights of the weak as against those of the strong.

The Winnebagoes were considered a hardy race and respected by the whites, who showed them many favors. While the Winnebagoes had fought in the war of 1812 under Tecumseh and had sided with Black Hawk, perhaps reluctantly, in the war of 1832, they were rather friendly toward the whites, although they very much objected to disposing of all their lands east of the Mississippi river by the treaties of 1825 and 1837, when they were removed to Iowa. In Linn county they remained for a longer or shorter period of time along the rivers such as the Cedar and the Wapsie, and especially around Cedar Lake, along the Palisades, in Linn Grove, Scotch Grove west of Cedar Rapids, and in other places where there was much timber. While they were at times heartless and cruel, their relations on the whole with the early settlers in Linn county were those of friendship, and they showed the whites many favors in the early days when the scattered pioneer families were unable to acquire sufficient food during the winter months to subsist upon. The Indians always helped the whites, and frequently went out hunting, bringing back a deer, fowls, or prairie chickens, which they divided among their own people and the whites. They early became fond of the dishes made by the white women, such as hominy, honey cakes, johnny cakes, and other delicious dishes found in the homes of the early settlers on the frontier. In no instance has it been reported that any white woman was ever assaulted by any Indian in this county. In many of the cabins of the early settlers there could be found only women and children, the husbands having left for the river towns to bring back provisions, and this fact was frequently known to the Indians. The early pioneer women used to say that they feared the rough border ruffian more than they did these traveling bands of Indians, who never assaulted anyone or ever carried away property by stealth, as the border ruffians were frequently accused of doing.

The story of the Winnebago tribe of Indians can not be passed without some notice. The name Winnebago is said to mean "the turbid water people," and they are closely related to the Iowas, Otoes, and the Missouri tribes. They used to call themselves the Hochangara, meaning "the people using the parent tongue," thus, perhaps, intending to convey that they were the original people from whom others sprang. They are first mentioned in the Jesuit Relations of 1636 and 1640. It is said that they were nearly annihilated by the Illinois tribes in early days and that the survivors fled back to Green Bay in 1737 and that they resided on the banks of Lake Superior but once more drifted back to Green Bay and towards Lake Winnebago, stretching southwest towards the Mississippi river. On one of the islands in the lake which bears their name they made their abiding place for a number of years and here they buried their dead and dwelt in peace around their fire places.

In 1825 the population was estimated to be 6,000. By the treaties of 1825 and 1832 they were compelled to cede their lands to the government, certain tracts of land being reserved on the Mississippi river near what is now known as La Crosse. Here they suffered from several visitations of smallpox, which plague is said to have carried off nearly one-fourth of their number.

From 1834-35 they were removed to Iowa and lived along the many rivers in the northeastern part of the Territory as far as the banks of the Cedar and the Wapsie rivers. White settlers came in, driving the Red Men out: hunting became[Pg 10] poor and the Indians could not subsist and they were again removed to the Blue Earth reservation in Minnesota in 1848. On account of the Indian outbreaks in 1863, committed by the Sioux tribe, and in which the Winnebagoes took no part, they were again removed to the Dakotas, where several hundred perished from cold and hunger. There are now only about 1,200 under the Omaha and Winnebago agency in Nebraska, and about 1,500 in the state of Wisconsin.

The Sac and Fox were also the early neighbors of the whites in this county. The Fox was an Algonkian tribe, first found on the lakes, and who were driven south by the Ojibwa where, for self protection, they united with the Sacs and have been since known as Sacs and Foxes. They were always friendly to the British, joining them in the Revolution as well as in the war of 1812. After the Black Hawk war they were removed to Iowa and from here removed again to the Indian Territory from 1842-46. Many of the tribes kept coming back to their old hunting ground and finally they were permitted to remain on the Iowa river and provision for them was made by the legislature. About 400, known as the Muskwaki, are still found, survivors of some of the early wanderers in eastern Iowa in the early thirties. The Sacs and Foxes and the Winnebagoes were always on friendly terms with the whites and were sworn enemies of the Sioux.

Mrs. Susan Shields, a daughter of William Abbe, was on intimate terms with the Winnebago Indians, who used to gather at her father's home on Abbe's creek frequently. She learned to speak the Winnebago language, and remembered seeing many wigwams, or tepees as they were called, at the lower end of what is now Cedar Rapids. She speaks of the Indians as being kind to her and that her first playmates were Indian girls of her own age. Her brothers also played with the Indian boys and they learned to ride Indian ponies and to shoot with bows and arrows. No trouble ever arose among the young of both races in these days; rather the white boys were envious to see the liberties granted the Indian boys and how they were permitted to roam any place at pleasure, never having any chores to do.

Robert Ellis understood more or less of the Indian jargon, and still speaks of his many escapades among the Sioux, the Winnebago, and the Sac and Fox. At one time, about 1839, some 300 Winnebagoes were camped on what is known as McCloud's Run. It was late in the fall and very cold; word came in the night that the Sioux were coming to exterminate the tribe. At once they broke camp and forded the river near the mill dam, first getting the women and children across. The white settlers were frightened. By nine o'clock the next morning the camps were up on the west side of the river and the gay young bucks had brought in thirty-eight deer which had been shot during the early morning, which were served to the hungry lot who had worked all night. While the Sioux had been in the neighborhood no attack was made upon the Winnebagoes at this time.

Mr. Ellis also relates that he and two friends camped one night on the Cedar above Waterloo, where they were hunting. One morning in mid-winter a party of Sioux came to the cabin. They could do nothing but invite the Red Men in and offer them provisions and anything they had. While the Indians kicked against the whites killing their game, the friendliness of the whites seemed to satisfy them, and they left their new found friends in possession of their camps. After this discovery by the Sioux Mr. Ellis and his friends made a hasty retreat, not wanting to meet their dusky companions again when they might return in larger numbers.

Mr. Ellis relates another incident of his life among the Indians. He came to an Indian camp near Quasqueton on his way to Ft. Atkinson and had to spend the night in the camp. Unfortunately nearly all of the Indians were drunk and insisted on killing every one. The squaws, who were sober, and a few of the old men, got Mr. Ellis to help, and all the drunken bucks were tied so they could scarcely move. Mr. Ellis then retired, and in the morning all were sober and[Pg 11] untied, and then the squaws and the old men who had been sober started in to get gloriously drunk. Mr. Ellis wanted to hire an Indian to show him the way to West Union, but the Indian shrugged his shoulders and replied, "wolf eaty you." Mr. Ellis started out alone afoot over the snow covered prairie on a cold winter day and finally reached a cabin late at night, nearly overcome from cold. He still believes he would have perished if it had not been for the words of the old Indian which kept ringing in his ears all day and which added courage to his exhausted spirits.

At one time a large number of Muskwaki Indians were camping near Indian creek, and as the winter was severe and snow deep the Indians were out of food. They came to the home of Susan Doty, who gave them the best and only thing she had—hominy—which she warmed on the fire and gave to the Red Men, who expressed their thanks by grunting and continually asking for more, till the entire supply was exhausted. From that time, when the Indians returned from the hunt with a deer or two Mrs. Doty was always remembered with a good share of game.

When the Indians lost ponies they would go to the old settlers like Usher, N. B. Brown, the Hunters, Oxleys, or Dotys, asking them to assist in catching the thieves. One day Usher and Brown came to Doty's with an Indian chief who had lost his pony. Hunter was also called in, and off the party started in pursuit of the horsethief, who was caught near Viola and who made himself scarce at once, for he was branded as an outlaw by the Indians, who would shoot him at sight. The Indian was more than happy in getting back his pony. These men who were willing to help the Indians were sure to get anything they cared for which could be procured by the red brother. A white man who would help an Indian to recover stolen property was forever a friend of the Indians of the tribe.

The Indians in Linn county during the thirties and forties dressed in skins, lived in tepees, and owned ponies; all wore government blankets and had guns, also procured from the government. The men and women dressed much the same. The women carried home the game, looked after the tepee, made maple sugar, which was traded to the whites for sugar, flour, and woolen goods. Flour especially was much relished by the Indians. The localities much frequented by the Indians were along the Red Cedar and Wapsie rivers, Cedar lake, Indian creek, the Palisades, Linn Grove, Scotch Grove, and Prairie creek. In these places they would remain for weeks at a time, when they would all pull up and leave on some hunting trip, not returning till in the fall or spring of the year. Where they went to no one knew, and where they came from no one inquired. But the Red Men in early days in this county were all treated with due courtesy by the whites, who, in turn, were spared by the Indians. The best of feeling always existed among the whites and Indians.

The Sioux very seldom came into this part of Iowa. William Abbe and Robert Ellis were the agents for the government in supplying the Winnebago Indians at Ft. Atkinson with food, thus these men were well acquainted with the Winnebagoes, who, in turn, were on terms of friendship with the Sacs and Foxes. The Winnebagoes, like the other tribes, became addicted to the use of fire water to such an extent that they would sell their guns and ammunition for whiskey. One of the early experiences of W. H. Merritt as a young store keeper at Ivanhoe was to clean out the store single-handed of a crowd of drunken Indians who intended to take possession of the store for a sufficient length of time at least till they could consume the large quantity of whiskey stored therein, but they had not figured on the courage of the young man who later distinguished himself during the Civil war. Young Mr. Merritt drove out the intruders and saved the store, as well as the property of the company for which he worked.

Many of the old settlers tell stories of the quantity and variety of food these wandering tribes of Indians were capable of consuming, which seemed to be[Pg 12] beyond the comprehension of the white man. Mr. Ellis relates how he and William Abbe were notified to forthwith procure beef cattle for an Indian conference at Ft. Atkinson. These men promptly drove a large number of young cattle to Ft. Atkinson from Linn county, and the Indians consumed in a very short time rations which were expected to have lasted for several weeks.

Others have left records of straggling bands of Indians who were fed at some pioneer cabin and consumed quantities of food at a sitting several times more than the ordinary white man could eat in a week. But then it must be remembered that these Indians did not have their regular meals three times a day, by any means. They seemed to go for days and for a week without eating much of anything, and when a feast was set before them they did full justice to the repast.

The Indians had an abnormal fondness for sweets. The making of maple sugar, especially in Wisconsin, had been one of the industries of the aborigines; a little was always made in Iowa. The season for sugar making came when the first crow appeared; this occurred about the first of March, while there was yet snow on the ground. As a substitute for sugar the Indians were very fond of honey, and it was said by the early settlers that the squaws could smell a bee tree further than anyone else. These bee trees were claimed by the Indians, and woe to the white man's son who by stealth or otherwise would encroach upon the Indian's rights in this regard.

While the Indians were called cruel and merciless during the Black Hawk war and later, the pioneers of Linn county found them friendly, hospitable, devoted and loyal friends. Many instances have been cited how the Red Men risked their own lives even to assist their white friends. While they never forgave an injury, they never forgot a deed of kindness.



[Pg 13]


Iowa Historically

We take the liberty of quoting here a chapter from "The Louisiana Purchase," by C. M. Geer, in The History of North America, Vol. VIII, edited by Guy Carleton Lee, and published by George Barrie & Sons, Philadelphia, 1904. It gives in brief space the more important historical facts connected with the formation of the State.

"The governmental experiences of Iowa before its admission into the Union as a State were many and varied. Its discoverers were the missionary priest Jacques Marquette and the explorer Louis Joliet, who were living at St. Mary's, the oldest settlement in the present State of Michigan. On May 13, 1673, with five Canadian boatmen, these two men left on an exploring expedition, and on June 25, 1673, landed near the mouth of Des Moines River.[B] By right of discovery France claimed jurisdiction over the country thus visited until 1763, when the Territory was ceded to Spain. On October 1, 1800, it was ceded with the rest of Louisiana Territory from Spain back to France. On the 30th of April, 1803, it was in turn ceded to the United States by France as a part of the Louisiana Purchase.

"These changes of government had little effect upon what was to constitute the future State of Iowa, because the Indians remained in almost undisputed possession. Although discovered and claimed by France in 1673, no attempt at settlement was made until 1788, when Julian Dubuque, a Canadian, obtained from Blondeau and two other Indian chiefs a grant of lands. This claim was twenty-one miles long and extended from the Mississippi westward nine miles. The grant was confirmed, in a qualified way, by Carondelet, Spanish governor at New Orleans. Dubuque engaged in mining and trading with the Indians, making his headquarters at the place which now bears his name. The question of the validity of his claim to this great tract of land came before the United States Supreme Court in 1854, and the decision of that body was that his grant was only a temporary license to dig ore.

"In 1799, a trading post was established on the Mississippi within the present territory of Iowa. This settlement and the one at Dubuque were abandoned, so that Iowa was practically an unknown and undesired country at the time when it came under the control of the United States in 1803. It was at that time Indian territory, occupied by the Sacs, Foxes, and Iowas, with the still more warlike Sioux on the north and east.

"On the 31st of October, 1803, a temporary government was authorized for the recently acquired territory. By Act of Congress, approved March 26, 1803, Louisiana was erected into two Territories and provision made for the administration of each. The upper part was known as the District of Louisiana and included Arkansas, Missouri, and Iowa. This was placed temporarily under the jurisdiction of the Territory of Indiana. On July 4, 1805, all this northern district became the Territory of Louisiana, with a separate Territorial government.[Pg 14] The legislative power was vested in the governor and three judges to be appointed by the President and Senate. This condition continued until December 7, 1812, when the Territory of Louisiana became the Territory of Missouri. In 1821, Missouri was admitted into the Union, and this admission of Missouri carried with it the abolition of the government of Missouri Territory, so that for a time Iowa was without any government. It is a question how much law remained in force in Iowa after the admission of Missouri. It is probable that the only civil law in force was the proviso of the Missouri bill, which prohibited slavery north of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude. No provision was made for that portion of the Territory of Missouri until June 28, 1834, when Congress attached the present State of Iowa, together with other territory, to the Territory of Michigan.

"On July 3, 1836, it was included in the newly organized Territory of Wisconsin. On June 12, 1838, the Territory of Iowa was constituted by Act of Congress. This Territory included 'all that part of the present Territory of Wisconsin which lies west of Mississippi River and west of a line due north from the sources or headwaters of the Mississippi to the territorial line.'

"From the time of the purchase in 1803 up to the date of the organization of the Territory in 1838 there had been a gradual increase in the knowledge of this land and a growing appreciation of its value. There had been parties of hunters and trappers who made temporary settlements on the banks of the Mississippi in the period from 1820 to 1830. It was not till steam navigation was established on the Mississippi that there grew up a demand for Iowa lands. Southeastern Illinois and northwestern Missouri were settled and the pioneers naturally looked to the equally desirable lands in Iowa. Various exploring expeditions also contributed to a desire to settle in the territory. Lewis and Clark added to the knowledge of its western borders by their expedition in 1805. Pike in the same year traversed another part of the Territory, and these explorers brought back accounts of its great fertility and of its desirability for settlement.

"The government established a broad strip of neutral ground between the Sioux in the north and the Sacs and Foxes in the south to keep these tribes at peace, and in 1830 acquired lands on the Missouri to be used as Indian reservations. Here and there in the Iowa Territory were white men who had gained the friendship of the Indians and lived with them. There were trading posts of the American Fur Company and miners at Dubuque, who were licensed by the government to work at that point. Iowa remained the home of the Indians until the close of the Black Hawk War, when General Winfield Scott, on September 15, 1832, concluded a treaty of peace with the Sacs and Foxes, by which the Indian title was extinguished to that part of land known as the Black Hawk Purchase. This was the eastern part of Iowa and extended along the Mississippi, from Missouri on the south to the 'Neutral Grounds' on the north, and westward a distance of fifty miles. It contained about six million acres and was to be surrendered by the Indians on June 1, 1833. This gave the first opportunity for the legal settlement of Iowa by citizens of the United States.

"June 1, 1833, was fixed as the day on which the Indians were to be removed from the Black Hawk Purchase and the lands opened for settlement. The would-be settlers came in large numbers to the banks of the Mississippi, ready to cross and get the choice of the land. United States troops kept guard on the western shore of the river and prevented any persons from entering the Purchase before the appointed time. At precisely twelve o'clock, midnight, June 1st, there was a wild rush of settlers from East and South and the settlement of Iowa was begun.

"There was a rapid increase in population until the separate Territorial government was established, June 12, 1838. The first capital was Burlington, and the place of meeting of the legislature was in a church. Robert Lucas was appointed Territorial Governor, and William B. Conway, Secretary. The Territorial[Pg 15] Legislature met on November 12, 1838. Burlington continued to be the seat of Territorial government till 1841, when Iowa City became the capital.

"The Territory of Iowa had a heated dispute with the State of Missouri over the boundary line between the two. Missouri's northern boundary was the parallel of latitude passing through the rapids of the river Des Moines. There were two rapids, eight or ten miles apart, and the dispute was as to which of these was meant, Missouri insisting upon the northern and Iowa on the southern one. Each government tried to enforce its authority. In the attempt to do this, Governor Boggs, of Missouri, called out the militia; then Governor Lucas, of Iowa, called out his soldiers. Five hundred men were under arms. On the petitions of Iowa and Missouri, Congress authorized a suit to settle the controversy, which resulted in a decision favorable to Iowa.

"Further treaties were made with the Indians by which additional land was gained for settlement. A large tract of land was opened to settlers on May 1, 1843, and on the preceding night there was a rush of land seekers similar to that which had occurred ten years before; over a thousand families settled in the newly opened lands within twelve hours.

"The very rapid increase in population led to a demand for statehood. On July 31, 1840, the Territorial Legislature passed an Act by which it called for a vote of the people on the question of assembling a constitutional convention. In August the vote was taken, resulting in the defeat of the proposition by a vote of two thousand nine hundred and seven to nine hundred and thirty-seven. Another vote was taken in 1842, resulting in the same way, but on February 12, 1844, the suggestion of a constitutional convention met the approval of the majority of the electors, and without waiting for a Federal Enabling Act a Constitution was adopted by a convention which met at Iowa City, October 7, 1844, and finished its work November 1st of the same year. This Constitution was submitted to Congress by the Territorial delegate.

"Here again there was the effort to balance a northern and southern State. Maine had been admitted into the Union in 1820, and Missouri in 1821; Arkansas in 1836, and Michigan in the next year. Now, it was proposed to admit Florida with Iowa. At this time Florida was much below the required population. The Congressional debate on the subject was a long and interesting one and brought out clearly the growing jealousy between North and South. This feeling was especially strong at this time because of the probability that several southern slaveholding States might be formed from Texas.

"There was furthermore a dispute of considerable importance over the general boundary of Iowa. The Constitution submitted to Congress by the Territorial delegate provided that the boundary should be as follows: 'Beginning in the middle of the main channel of Mississippi River opposite the mouth of Des Moines River; thence up the said River Des Moines in the middle of the main channel thereof, to a point where it is intersected by the old Indian boundary line, or line run by John C. Sullivan in the year 1816; thence westwardly along said line to the old northwest corner of Missouri; thence due west to the middle of the main channel of Missouri River; thence up in the middle of the main channel of the river last mentioned to the mouth of Sioux or Calumet River; thence in a direct line to the middle of the main channel of St. Peter's River, where Watonwan River (according to Nicollet's map) enters the same; thence down the middle of the main channel of said river to the middle to the main channel of Mississippi River; thence down the middle of the main channel of said river to the place of beginning.'

"An amendment was proposed in Congress which substituted the following in place of the boundary as given above: 'Beginning in the middle of St. Peter's River, at the junction of Watonwan or Blue Earth River; with the said River St. Peter's running thence due east to the boundary line of the Territory of Wisconsin[Pg 16] in the middle of Mississippi River; thence down the middle of the last-named river with the boundary line of the Territory of Wisconsin and state of Illinois to the northeast corner of the state of Missouri in the said River Mississippi; thence westwardly with the boundary line of said State of Missouri to a point due south from the place of beginning; thence due north to the place of beginning in said St. Peter's River.'

"Of especial interest was the attitude taken by Samuel F. Vinton, representative from Ohio, in regard to the admission of Iowa. He believed that the Western States should be small in area in order that the West might not be deprived of its share in the government of the nation. It seemed to him that the policy so far pursued in the West had been wrong because the States were so large that they were sure to contain two or three times as large a population as the Atlantic States. There was at the time a provision under consideration that Florida might be divided, when either East or West Florida should contain a population of thirty-five thousand. Vinton contended that if Florida was to be divided, there should be a provision for dividing Iowa, because it was safer to give political power to the West than to the Atlantic States, for the West was the great conservative power of the Union. He stated that though the spirit of disunion might exist in the North and in the South, it could not live in the West, because the interests of the West were inseparably connected with both, and it would hold the two sections together, because it had no prejudice against either North or South and, what was of greater importance, the West was a grain growing country, and so must look equally to the manufacturing North and the cotton growing South for its market. Therefore the West must be conservative whether it wished to be or not. Vinton believed that instead of five there should have been at least twelve States in the old Northwest, and that to partly offset this injustice, small States should be formed west of the Mississippi. After considerable debate in the House, the bill for the admission of Iowa passed that body and was transmitted to the Senate, which it passed March 3, 1845.

"After a vote for admission, the constitution was submitted to the people of Iowa, who made serious objections to it. One objection was directed against the small salaries to be paid, which, it was feared, would result in getting only inferior men for official positions. The restrictions on banks and corporations proved an unpopular feature. The limitation placed upon the extent of territory claimed by Iowa was unsatisfactory to many, though the State would still have an area of forty-four thousand three hundred square miles. This reduction of area was the greatest objection, so that when the vote was taken many who were in favor of statehood voted against forming a state of such reduced area, and the Constitution was rejected by a vote of seven thousand and nineteen to six thousand and twenty-three.

"The governor called a special session of the legislature, and a bill for the re-submission of the constitution was passed over his veto. This was defeated by the people in August, 1845. On January 17, 1846, an Act was passed which provided for a new constitutional convention. This body came together in May and adopted a new constitution which did not differ greatly from the earlier instrument. The boundaries given in it were a compromise between those originally asked by the people and those granted by Congress. The matter was actively discussed in Congress when the new constitution with the changed boundaries came before that body, but the arguments were essentially the same as those previously advanced. An exciting campaign followed in Iowa, and the constitution was adopted, August 3, 1846, by a small majority. On the 4th of August the president signed the bill which settled the boundary question in accordance with the second constitution, and an Act was passed December 28, 1846, by which Iowa was admitted into the Union."


[Pg 17]


Iowa and Her People

"In all that is good Iowa affords the best."

Thus a few years ago wrote one of our state's most distinguished citizens.[C]

And his utterance found a ready response in the hearts of the men and women of our fair land, so that today the expression is an axiom. Every Iowan believes firmly in its truth.

There is no fairer land under the benevolent sun. Here plenty reigns, and prosperity has her home. Cheerful industry has redeemed the land that once was the home of wild animals and untamed savages. Iowa's waving corn fields; her meadows of luxuriant grass; her hills dotted with magnificent houses and barns; her landscape made more picturesque by the presence of fattening herds; her school houses and higher centers of learning on almost every hill; the smoke from the busy industries of her thriving cities and villages; her soil the most fertile of any known; her waste land less than that of any other equal area; her percentage of illiteracy the lowest; her mineral resources abundant; her numerous streams affording water power inferior to none—all these things and more rightly tend to make Iowans proud of their State.

Now, as a half century ago, Iowa offers "to the lawloving and the temperate; to the enterprising, the vigorous, the ambitious, a home and a field worthy of their noblest efforts."[D] She throws open to the world her exhaustless stores of wealth, her golden opportunities, and says: "Behold your reward."

N. H. Parker, writing more than a half century ago, drew this glowing picture of the future Iowa:

"As the immigrant mother leads her sons and daughters into the undeveloped paths of wealth—as civilization elevates a race out of the sloughs of semi-barbarism—as national prosperity exalts a land—or as science raises the human intellect from darkness into dazzling light—thus Iowa, with rapid strides, ascends the precipitious sides of prosperity's mountain range, bearing her sons and daughters to loftier, and still loftier peaks, and revealing to their gaze still wider and richer vistas. And the summit of this range she will never reach; for her onward progress cannot be stayed, until her arterial streams are dry—until the agricultural life-blood in her veins has ceased to flow, until her great metallic heart has been emptied. Upon the topmost summit, then, Iowa will never stand, for through countless ages yet to come, her progress—that must be forever onward—must be upward also."[E]

The people of Iowa do not stand still. Not satisfied with present achievements, they go forward, doing well to-day the tasks that are theirs, and striving earnestly to make the future better and more glorious than the past.

We can not do better here than by quoting a toast to the future of Iowa given some years ago by O. J. Laylander, a loyal son of the state:

"In the few minutes allotted to this toast scant justice may be awarded so worthy a theme. We love you, O Iowa, lusty child, resting in the mighty arms[Pg 18] of the Missouri and the Father of Waters, laughing beneath the warm kisses and the love tears of gentle May; crying aloud to all the world: 'See how I grow! How strong I am! How happy and healthy and beautiful!'

"Iowa is glorious now. The great, green carpets, fresh from the springtime cleaning, shimmer in the glorious sun. The broad, black belts of loam await with open pockets the hiding of the golden grain. Living, glowing mines of gold stud the prairies' endless velvet folds. The countless castles of the farm are bound into great bundles by the sounding wire. Above every door that opens upon honest toil is inscribed in letters of gold the motto, 'Rich, rich, rich.'

"Such is Iowa today in its wealth of land and stock. Each year the unfailing field fills the bins to bursting and grows the meat for millions.

"Material Iowa, with great leaps, has gone forward in the world's race. Manifest destiny was misread by even the wisest of our grandfathers. Even thirty years ago no prophet dared choose the gorgeous hues necessary to a true picture of the Iowa of to-day.

"Yet not alone in industrial lines has Iowa set the pace for the states. In politics she has crowded New England off the stage, and bold Ohio sits quietly at her feet. In literature and in arts she stands unashamed. Comfort and culture walk hand in hand, and happiness is a perennial contagion.

"Some fifty years ago there came to Iowa a sturdy boy. Today he calls his own one thousand billowy acres which have risen in value in steps of ten until one hundred thousand dollars would not tempt him to yield his title. One June afternoon he sat on his piazza in sweet reverie. He reviewed the wonderful development of the grand old state, and sent his imagination in search of greater possibilities. From the hedge the thrush poured forth a song of love. The humming bees thrust their honeyed tongues into the flowers on the trellis at his side. The south wind was heavy with fragrance brushed from the blooming bushes. All nature conspired to steal the old man's senses and soon reverie gave way to sleep and dreams, and this, they say, was the dream: He dreamed that it was the year nineteen hundred and forty-one, and he was celebrating his hundredth birthday. He had seen comfort and culture become as common as the summer sun. Literature and art had countless country devotees. People had ceased to hurry, and worry was unknown: and then he dreamed that he died, and sought admission at the golden gate. To his amazement he was halted and informed that he was at the wrong place. Greatly grieved, he parleyed with the guard: 'I never wittingly did a human soul a wrong. I was rich, but it was not my fault. Why must I, who have always tried to do my duty, go to hell?' 'No one said anything about hell,' was the reply. 'To the annex—the second gate to the right. You Iowa people complain so much about celestial conditions and make so many comparisons with Iowa that we have concluded to colonize you a few thousand years and send you all back to Iowa.'

"That the future of Iowa shall be such that if you shall not wish to come back, you shall at least wish to stay as long as possible, is my sincere desire."[F]

Calhoun made the assertion on the floor of the United States Senate that he had been told that "the Iowa country has been seized upon by a lawless body of armed men." Senator Ewing, of Ohio, and Senator Clay, of Kentucky, had received similar information, the former asserting that he would in no way object to giving each rascal who crossed the Mississippi to the westward one thousand dollars if by that means he might get rid of him. And these distinguished statesmen were not alone in this view. To many in the east the first comers to the territory were "land robbers," "idle and profligate characters," "fugitives from[Pg 19] justice," "lawless intruders," and worse. They were squatters "who feared neither the laws of God nor man."

Doubtless those who made these assertions were honest and sincere. They believed that only the most desperate characters, the outcasts of decent communities, had the hardihood to explore this terra incognita. They could not comprehend how persons living in settled communities, and surrounded with many of the comforts of life, could be so fool-hardy as to leave all these things for the sake of making a new home in a wilderness inhabited only by wild animals and wilder and more dangerous Indians.

But there is another side to the picture. Personal observation is always more to be depended upon than hearsay testimony. One of the most trust-worthy of the early writers on Iowa is Lieut. Albert Miller Lea. He had spent some years in the "Ioway District"; he had made a tour of observation across the state; he had most excellent opportunities for observing and studying the character of our first settlers. His testimony cannot be impeached, for he was a man far above the practice of deceit. In his Notes on the Wisconsin Territory, particularly with reference to the Iowa District or Black Hawk Purchase, published in 1836, he gives this vivid and truthful picture of our early inhabitants:

"The character of this population is such as is rarely to be found in our newly acquired territories. With very few exceptions, there is not a more orderly, industrious, active, pains-taking population west of the Alleghenies, than is this of the Iowa District. Those who have been accustomed to associate the name of Squatter with the idea of idleness and recklessness, would be quite surprised to see the systematic manner in which every thing is here conducted. For intelligence, I boldly assert that they are not surpassed, as a body, by an equal number of citizens of any country in the world.

"It is a matter of surprise that, about the Mining Region, there should be so little of the recklessness that is usual in that sort of life.... This regularity and propriety is to be attributed to the preponderance of well informed and well-intentioned gentlemen among them, as well as to the disposition of the mass of the people."[G]

Two years later another personal observer says: "He who supposes that settlers ... who are now building upon, fencing and cultivating the lands of the government are lawless depredators, devoid of the sense of moral honesty, or that they are not in every sense as estimable citizens, with as much intelligence, regard for law and social order, for public justice and private rights ... as the farmers and yeomen of New York and Pennsylvania ... has been led astray by vague and unfounded notions, or by positively false information."[H]

These people knew the pioneers, and their testimony is entitled to credence. As a class even the "Squatters" were not idle, or vicious, or ignorant. They were young men, strong and hardy, full of courage and adventure. "There was not a better population on the face of the earth," is the testimony of Senator Benton. "They made roads," says Prof. B. F. Shambaugh, superintendent of the Iowa State Historical Society, "built bridges and mills, cleared the forests, broke the prairies, erected houses and barns, and defended the settled country against hostile Indians. They were distinguished especially for their general intelligence, their hospitality, their independence and bold enterprise. They had schools and school houses, erected churches, and observed the Sabbath.... The pioneers were religious, but not ecclesiastical. They lived in the open and looked upon the relations of man to nature with an open mind. To be sure their thoughts were more on 'getting along' in this world than upon the 'immortal crown' of the[Pg 20] Puritan. And yet in the silent forest, in the broad prairie, in the deep blue sky, in the sentinels of the night, in the sunshine and in the storm, in the rosy dawn, in the golden sunset, and in the daily trials and battles of frontier life, they too must have seen and felt the Infinite."[I]

No greater tribute has ever been paid to the pioneers of our state than that given by a distinguished native of the state, Hon. Robert G. Cousins, on Iowa Day at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition at Omaha on Sept. 21, 1898. The following extracts from that masterly oration are worthy of preservation here:

"I have asked five of the ablest and most noted Americans what they regard as the chief thing or leading feature of the Trans-Mississippi region and they have invariably answered, 'Its men and women.' The other day I met one of the oldest settlers of eastern Iowa—one of those original, rugged characters whose wit and wisdom have lightened the settlers' hearts and homes for many a toilsome year—one of those interesting characters who never bores you and whom one always likes to meet—a man whose head is silvered and whose countenance is kind—and I asked him what he regarded as the principal feature of our Trans-Mississippi country, and he replied: 'Well, I'm no scholar, but I've been round here nigh onto sixty years and I reckon 'bout the most important thing is the folks and the farms.'

"Iowa became a separate territory, with the capital at Burlington, in 1838, and was admitted into the Union in 1846, and has been in it ever since. It makes little difference whether it was first settled by the whites at Dubuque for mining purposes in 1788, or, for trading purposes, at Montrose, in 1799, or opposite Prairie du Chien, in 1804 or 5, or in Lee county at Sandusky in 1820, or on the lower rapids at what is now known as Nashville, in 1829; or whether the first settlements for general purposes were made at Burlington and Davenport in 1832. The main fact is that it was well settled—not by dyspeptic tourists nor by invalids who had come west out of curiosity and New Jersey, nor by climate seeking dilettanti with two servants and one lung—but by the best bone and sinew of the middle states, New England and the old world. I do not know that there were any dukes or lords or marquises or duchesses, but there were Dutch and Irish and Scotch and Scotch-Irish and English and Americans, and they had home rule right from the start—at least they had it in the first school which I attended. The men and women who settled the Hawkeye state were not those who expected to go back 'in the fall,' or as soon as they could prove up on their claims. They were stayers. They were not men to be discouraged by winter or by work. They were men who knew that nobody ever amounted to much in this world unless he had to. Most of them began simply with the capital of honesty, good health and their inherent qualities of character. They built their cabins in the clearings and, watching the smoke curl up in the great, wide sky, felt just as patriotic for their humble rustic homes as e'er did princes for their castles or millionaires for mansions grand.

"To build a home is a great thing. It doesn't matter so much about the dimensions. 'Kings have lived in cottages and pygmies dwelt in palaces,' but the walls of a home always add something to inherent character. In the formation of character there are always two elements, the inherent and the adventitious—that which we bring with us into the world and that which our surroundings give us. Somebody said 'there is only a small portion of the earth that produces splendid people.' Our pioneers got into a good place. They had left doubt sitting on a boulder in the east and packed their things and started for the west. Rivers had to be forded, trees to be felled, cabins had to be built—the rifle must be kept loaded—so much the better, there was self-reliance. Corn and coffee had to be ground, and on the same mill—so much the better, there was ingenuity. Teeth had to be filled, and there was no painless dentistry. Disease and injury must be dealt with, and the doctor fifty miles away. Life must be lightened, lonely hearts must be cheered, and the old friends and comrades far back in the states or maybe away in fatherland, and the cheering letter tarrying with the belated stage coach—hold fast, thou sturdy denizen and gentle helpmate of the rich and wondrous empire, infinite goodness guards thee and the fertile fields are ready to reward.

SHEPHERD'S TAVERN Erected in 1838, Looking West. The
First House in Cedar Rapids. Present Site of Y. M. C. A. COURTESY
Erected in 1838, Looking West. The First House in Cedar Rapids. Present Site of Y. M. C. A.

[Pg 21]

"Ah, pampered people of the later generations, when you imagine modern hardships, think of the courage and the trials and the ingenuity of pioneers when there were no conveniences but the forest and the axe, the wide rolling prairie and the ox team, the great blue sky, the unsolved future and the annual ague! Complain of markets in these modern times and then think of your grandmother when she was a blooming bride, listening through the toilsome days and anxious nights for the wagon bringing home the husband from a distant market with calico and jeans purchased with dressed pork sold at a dollar and a half a hundred, and maybe bringing home a little money, worth far less per yard than either calico or jeans. Maybe it is all for the best, human character was being formed for the development of a great and loyal and progressive state to shine forever among the stars of the federal union....

"Civil government in Iowa proceeded with its rapid settlement. The pioneer became a model citizen. He knew the necessity for the laws that were enacted. He did not feel oppressed by government. He had experienced the losses of robbery and larceny and knew something of the embarrassment and inconvenience of being scalped. There was no hysteria about trusts and combines because they had practiced combinations themselves for mutual protection. If any one would learn the true genius and exemplification and philosophy of self-government, government of and for and by the people, let him study the records of pioneer life, the institutional beginnings, and the evolution of their laws. It would be worth our while on some suitable occasion when time permitted to talk over the interesting incidents attending the administration of justice in the early days of Iowa, the incidents of its territorial legislatures, the birth and growth of its statehood and the character of its officials. But the greatness of our state is not contained in any name. Its official history is the exponent of its industrial life and character. Its greatness is the sum total of its citizenship. In order to be just, John Jones, the average citizen, must be mentioned along with our most illustrious officials. Somebody said that the history of a nation is the history of its great men, but there is an unwritten history which that averment overlooks. The growth of a state is the progress of its average citizen. The credit of a commonwealth is the thrift of its John Jones and its William Smith, and the character, prosperity and patriotism of the individual citizen is the history of Iowa.

"The population of 97,000 which she had when admitted into the union had increased to 754,699 at the close of the Civil war. Of these about 70,000, almost one-tenth of the population, were in the war—a number equal to nearly one-half of the voters of the state. Who made the history of Iowa during that great struggle of our nation's life? John Jones, the average citizen, whether he carried a musket helping to put the scattered stars of state back into the constellation of the Union, or whether he toiled from early dawn to lingering twilight in the fields or in the shop. The best civilization is that which maintains the highest standard of life for its average citizen.

"Since the Civil war the state of Iowa has increased in population to almost 2,225,000 of people, and most of the time has had the least illiteracy of any state in the Union. Doubtless for that we are indebted to many of the older states, whose enterprising and courageous citizens constitute so large a portion of our population. With but a century of statehood and with an area of but 55,475 square miles, the state of Iowa produces the greatest quantity of cereals of any[Pg 22] state in the Union. As long ago as the last federal census, taken in 1890, it produced more corn, more oats, more beef, more pork than any state in the Union. Not long since I was introduced to a gentleman from New York city. He said, 'Oh, from Iowa—ah—let me see, that's out—ah—you see, I'm not very well posted on the geography of the west.' 'Yes,' I said, 'it's out there just across the Mississippi river. You can leave New York about noon and get your supper in Iowa the next evening. It might be worth your while to look it up. It's the state which produces more of the things which people eat than any other state in the Union. It has more miles of railroads than your state of New York, more than Mexico, more than Brazil and more than all the New England states combined.'

"The value of Iowa's agricultural products and live stock in round numbers for the year 1892 was $407,000,000, to say nothing of her other great and various industries and enterprises. She produced that year 160,000,000 pounds of the best butter on earth of the value of $32,000,000. The Hawkeye butter ladle has achieved a cunning that challenges all Columbia. The Iowa cow has slowly and painfully yet gradually and grandly worked her way upward to a shining eminence in the eyes of the world. The state of Iowa has on her soil today, if nothing ill befalls it, ninety million dollars' worth of corn. The permanent value of land is estimated by its corn-producing qualities. Of all the products of the earth, corn is king and it reigns in Iowa.

"Industry and nature have made the state of Iowa a creditor. Her soil has always been solvent and her system of farming does not tend to pauperize. She is a constant seller and therefore wants the evidence of the transaction to be unimpeachable. She has more school teachers than any other state except the Empire state and only three and six-tenths per cent of her population are illiterates. The state of Iowa has yielded the greatest dividends on her educational investments. She has become illustrious on account of her enlightenment. She has progressed further from 'primitive indifferent tissue' than the land even of Darwin himself, and in her escape from protoplasm and prejudice she is practically out of danger. Marked out in the beginning by the hand of God, bounded on the east and west by the two great rivers of the continent, purified and stimulated by the snows of winter, blessed with copious rainfall in the growing season, with generous soil and stately forests interspersed, no wonder that the dusky aborigines exclaimed when they crossed the Father of Waters, 'Iowa, this is the place!' Not only did the red men give our state its beautiful and poetic name, but Indian nomenclature runs like a romance throughout the counties and communities. What infinite meaning, what tokens of joy and sadness, of triumph and of tears, of valor and of vanquishment, of life and love and song there may be in these weird, strange words that name to-day so many of our towns and streams and counties: Allamakee, Chickasaw, Dakota City, Sioux, Pocahontas, Winneshiek, Keosauqua, Sac, Winnebago, Tama, Nodawa, Competine, Chariton, Comanche, Cherokee, Waukon, Muchakinock, Washta, Monona, Waupeton, Onawa, Keota, Waudina, Ioka, Ottumwa, Oneska, Waukee, Waucoma, Nishnabotna, Keokuk, Decorah, Wapello, Muscatine, Maquoketa, Mahaska, Ocheyedan, Mississippi, Appanoose, Missouri, Quasqueton, Anamosa, Poweshiek, Pottawattamie, Osceola, Oskaloosa, Wapsipinicon.

"Ere long some westland genius, moved by the mystic inspiration of the rich and wondrous heritage of Iowa nativity, may sing the song of our legends and traditions, may voice in verse the wondrous story of his illustrious state. Maybe somewhere among the humble homes where blood and bone and brain grow pure and strong, where simple food with frugal ways feeds wondering minds and drives them craving into nature's secrets and her songs—somewhere along the settler's pathway or by the Indian trail where now the country churchyards grown with uncut grasses hide the forms of sturdy ancestors sleeping all in peaceful ignorance[Pg 23] of wayward sons or wondrous progeny—somewhere where rising sun beholds the peasantry at early toil and leaves them in the mystic twilight ere their tasks are done, where odors of the corn and new-mown hay and vine-clad hedges by the shadowy roadside linger long into the night-time, as a sweet and sacred balm for tired hearts—somewhere, sometime the song of Iowa shall rise and live, and it will not omit the thought of that gifted son who said: 'Iowa, the affections of her people, like the rivers of her borders, flow to an inseparable union.'"

[Pg 24]


The Geology of Linn County


It is said that a certain county in Kentucky, underlain by limestone, always goes democratic; while a county adjacent, underlain by sandstone, is as invariably republican. Certain it is that a deal of politics, economics, and history depends at last analysis more or less upon the processes past and present which belong to geology and physiography. The rocks, the minerals they contain, and the water they store, the hills and valleys into which they have been carved, and the soils to which they weather, largely control the industries, locate the cities, and outcrop even in the social, intellectual, and moral life of the people. The metropolis of Linn county, for example, owes its name and place to the rapids of the Cedar, and the rapids find ultimate cause in the fact that some millions of years ago nature stopped laying a softer rock upon the ocean bed and deposited upon it one of more resistant texture. In the eastern part of the county the Chicago & Northwestern Railway runs for very good and sufficient reasons where once rested the edge of a long tongue of glacial ice, and west of Cedar Rapids its route is determined by the course taken by the turbid floods issuing from the melting glaciers. The streets of Mount Vernon and several of the main highways of the county do not lie with the points of the compass but follow the direction of flow of ancient ice-streams. The distribution of forest and prairie is due to geologic causes. The values of farm lands are markedly affected by the same influences, and we can even point out a little area which differs from its surroundings in its inhabitants and in their literacy, language, architecture, manners, and morals, primarily because it belongs to what geologists classify as the deeply dissected loess-covered Kansan drift sheet.

The inductive history of Linn county, reasoned out from what we have learned of the lie of the land, the shapes of hills and valleys, the soils and subsoils, and the underlying rocks, is a wonderfully long one. The first chapter that has been opened to inspection in the geologic record of our area is that of the deepest rocks probed by the first deep well drilled at Cedar Rapids. At a depth of 2,150 feet from the surface—1,417 feet below the level of the sea—the drill encountered a hard red siliceous rock which may be taken as the equivalent of the Sioux Quartzite, which comes to the surface at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and at Baraboo, Wisconsin. This well known building stone is used in a number of the business blocks and private residences of Cedar Rapids, as for example in the old office building of the Republican. Belonging to the Algonkian, an era so remote that its age must be reckoned in scores if not in hundreds of millions of years, the quartzite at the bottom of the deep well tells of time inconceivably remote when Linn county was part of a wide sea floor on which red sands were washed to and fro and finally laid to rest in thick deposits of sandstone. Tilted and folded and hardened by pressure, the Algonkian rocks were uplifted from the sea to form dry land of mountainous heights. After the lapse of ages the old land sunk beneath the sea, and again and again with intervals of uplift and subaerial erosion there were laid upon it sea muds, impure limestones, and thick sandstones during a long succession of geologic aeons. Samples of these deposits can be seen in the well drillings preserved in the Y. M. C. A. at Cedar Rapids and in the collections of Cornell College. For many millions of years Linn county was thus sometimes land and sometimes sea, but neither land nor sea was tenanted by aught but the humblest of living creatures. These ancient deposits concern us because they are the aqueducts by which artesian waters of purest quality are brought to our doors from their sources far to the northward in other states.


[Pg 25]

The most recent of the formations which are pierced by the drill, but which do not come to the surface within the limits of the county, is the Maquoketa shale, reached in the eastern townships at a depth of somewhat more than 300 feet. This impervious bed of altered clay stops the descent of ground water, which thus is stored in large quantities in the overlying limestones and supplies some of the important wells of the county such as that of the town of Mount Vernon. At the time when these sea clays were laid, eastern Iowa was under sea, but so near was the low lying land to the north and east that vast quantities of mud were brought in by its rivers forming deposits nearly 300 feet in thickness.


With the lapse of ages physical conditions changed and Linn County was covered with a warm shallow coral sea in which were laid the massive limestones which now form the country rock in the eastern tier of townships. In some of the quarries one may see the ripple marks into which these coral sands were heaped by the pulse of the waves, and one may pick out of the rocks casts and moulds of ancient sea shells, corals, and trilobites, which formed the highest forms of life then tenanting the Iowa seas.

The lowest beds of the Silurian belong to the Hopkinton stage, and are exposed along the Buffalo. At Hill's mill and at Nugent's quarries some layers are crowded with a characteristic fossil—a plump bivalve shell as large as a walnut, which goes by the name of Pentamerus Oblongus. The Gower stage of the Silurian rests upon the Hopkinton and embraces two types of rocks distinct in their appearance and uses. The LeClaire phase of the Gower is a hard, brittle, crystalline, magnesian limestone, or dolomite. Normally blue-gray in color, it is often oxidised to buff. It is well exposed at Viola and on the Cedar river from the Cedar County line to a mile or so beyond the Upper Palisades, southwest of Bertram. The LeClaire forms mounds in places reaching fifty and even eighty or ninety feet in height in which little semblance of bedding structures are to be seen. Here and there the rock is conglomeratic, consisting of rounded masses of the rock cemented by a less resistent matrix. The cavernous recess in the rock wall of the Palisades, misnamed the Blowout, is due to the solution of the weaker matrix and the dislodgement of the rounded masses. The rock may consist also of angular broken blue-gray fragments in the matrix of a buff and friable limestone sand. Again, the mounds, at least in part, may be made up of massive limestone with little trace of structure of any sort. On the sides of the mounds and merging into the conglomeratic or other structures the rock of the LeClaire often is stratified and the layers dip outward at angles surprisingly high. In places these tilted layers may show sharp folds. The rock of all structures is fossiliferous. Even the broken fragments of breccia are porous with moulds of minute fossils which have been removed by solution. The massive rock is largely made up in places of stems of crinoids—stone lilies which grew in the greatest profusion in these quiet waters—and the tilted layers may be made of casts and moulds of unbroken shells of little bivalves. Occasionally the saucer shaped tail and head-shields of a characteristic trilobite are found piled together and unbroken. Coral are very common in this ancient reef rock, a form resembling honeycomb being especially noticeable. And as one floats[Pg 26] down stream at the base of the cliffs he can hardly fail to notice large tapering segmented shells, either straight or slightly curved, representatives of the cephalopod mollusks.

The picturesque rock walls of the Palisades, which rise perpendicular for as much as ninety feet from the water's edge, are due primarily to the great resistance of the LeClaire rock, due to its chemical composition—for dolomite weathers far less rapidly than a non-magnesian limestone—and to the fewness of those planes of weakness called joint-planes. The joints of the LeClaire are distant and vertical. The stone breaks down, therefore, in immense blocks where undercut by the river which leave for ages the scarp behind them as a vertical wall.

Because of its qualities the LeClaire is one of the best lime rocks in the country. The impurities of the clay, the iron and silica which it contains, may run as low as one-third of one per cent. The large per cent of carbonate of magnesia present makes it a cool lime, slow to slack and slow to set, and it is to such limes that architects, masons, and plasterers now invariably give preference over the so-called hot limes burned from non-magnesian limestones. The hardness and durability of mortars made from the LeClaire rock limes approaches that of cement, and after thirty-five or forty years of weathering, joints in mason work seem almost as fresh as when first struck.

The extreme hardness of the rock and the slowness with which it weathers make it specially valuable for crushing for macadam and ballast.

The Anamosa phase of the Gower limestone is typically exposed in the large quarries at Anamosa and Stone City, Mount Vernon and Waubeek. It is a light buff or yellow limestone, with constant, parallel, and horizontal or gently inclined laminated layers. The limestone is soft to work but hardens on exposure. The saw encounters no obdurate materials and the chisel finds the fracture even and regular. Bedding planes are so even and smooth as to be at once ready for the mortar with little or no dressing. Much of the stone can be split horizontally to any desired thickness, while the distant joints permit the quarrying of blocks beyond the facilities of transportation or any possible use. Many layers are so homogenous that they can be wrought into fine carvings.

As a dolomite the stone is far more resistant than a purer limestone. In the Mount Vernon cemetery tombstones of this material, whose dates run back to the forties and early fifties, have been so little affected by superficial decay that the tool marks are almost as fresh as when the chisel left them; while marbles of half their age have broken down into ruin.

The Silurian rocks of the county measure about 300 feet in thickness. They are confined pretty closely to the townships of the eastern tier, but extend beyond their limits up the valleys of the Cedar and Wapsipinicon.


As the Silurian limestones sink below the surface because of the westward dip, they are succeeded by a bed of rock, named from its outcrop at Bertram, and found along Big Creek as far north as Paralta and Springville. This is a heavily bedded gray rock which weathers almost white. At a number of places along Big Creek it forms picturesque cliffs, and hillsides covered with huge boulders of disintegration. At one point it is seen to overlie the Anamosa beds of the Silurian, and several exposures are known where it is succeeded by the Otis limestones of the Devonian. But as it contains no fossils, so far as is now known, it can not be said to which of the two ages it belongs.


The lower beds of the Otis, as exposed at the base of the Otis quarries, along the Cedar south of Cedar Rapids, at Springville, and at Coggon, consist of soft[Pg 27] magnesian limestones, fossiliferous with many moulds of small bivalve shells of Devonian age. These pass upward into drab non-magnesian limestones carrying the principal fossil of the magnesian beds in considerable numbers. The upper limestones of the Otis differ within rather wide limits. The most common type is seen at the base of the high cliff at Kenwood on the right bank of Indian Creek—a hard, brittle ringing and thinly laminated limestone. Often it has been subjected to strains under which it has broken, and has been re-cemented with little displacement of the parts. Occasionally it is brown, and highly crystalline.


At the Kenwood cliff the eight feet of the Otis at the base is succeeded by thirty feet of buff shale and clayey limestones—a formation known as the Independence from its discovery in a shaft sunk at that city. The Independence is exposed at many points near Cedar Rapids both on Indian Creek and on the Cedar. On the Wapsipinicon it is well seen at Cedar Bluff (sec. 24 Spring Grove Tp.), at the "Wolf's Den" a mile up valley, and again in the railway cut north of Coggon. In the long cut of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway west of Linn Junction the Independence is seen in one place as a blue clay shale carrying a number of fossils characteristic of the shaft at Independence, but elsewhere the formation is unfossiliferous in the natural exposures so far studied.

Wherever found the Independence contains nodules of silica, which may reach a foot in diameter, and often angular fragments of the same material which may be as fine as sand. The formation is marked by irregularities of deposition, channel cutting by drift currents, lenses of calcerous material, and rapid lateral change in the form and constituents of the rock. All of these characteristics point to the deposition of this formation in a shallow sea near shore.

Indeed, some of the beds were apparently laid in marshes such as are now found along low ocean shores. Thin seams of coal formed in the Independence were once peaty deposits preserved by the presence of water from the decay which returns dead vegetable matter to the air. In 1871 such a seam of coal, not exceeding an inch in thickness, was found at a depth of ninety feet in a well on the farm of Mrs. C. Hemphill, near LaFayette. Pieces of the coal were taken to Cedar Rapids and Marion. A mining company was formed, and without seeking for any expert advice from geologist or mining engineer, and without any tests of the extent and thickness of the seam, a shaft was sunk after the precious fuel. Water was encountered in such quantities that expensive pumping machinery was used, and in all several thousand dollars were wasted in a search which any competent geologist could have told was foredoomed to failure.


The sea over eastern Iowa deepened after the deposition of the Independence, for there was now deposited upon its floor limestones in place of shales. The lowest of these, known as the lower Davenport beds, are hard, compact, and of finest grain, and so far as known are unfossiliferous. The upper Davenport is a tough, gray, semi-crystalline limestone which contains an assemblage of fossils of many species. Highest of these are the first vertebrates to appear in Iowa so far as our records go. Fishes which swam over our area left to be imbedded in the limestones their hard enameled teeth and fin spines. The most common of the Devonian fishes was a small shark.

In several other counties the lower and the upper Davenport limestones retain the attitude of their deposition. But everywhere in Linn county they have been broken into bits and re-cemented, forming breccia. These brittle rocks could[Pg 28] hardly give way to such immense stresses without causing sharp and violent vibrations to run through the crust of the earth, and we may therefore list great earthquakes as a part of the history of our area in Devonian times.

The best exposure of the breccia beds is that of the cut of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway west of Linn Junction. The brittle lower Davenport has here been broken and rebroken into a mass of small sharp-edged fragments, while the tough heavily bedded upper Davenport ledges have been fractured to large blocks, which sliding on each other have smoothed and grooved their sides. The breccia beds may be seen in the upper eleven feet of the Kenwood cliff, at Troy Mills, and in the cliffs along the Wapsipinicon valley as far down as near to Central City.


The Otis, Independence, and Davenport limestones form a group called the Wapsipinicon, from its outcrop along the river of that name in Linn county. The remaining limestones of the Devonian are grouped together under the name of the Cedar Valley. These consist of limestones of various types, sometimes crowded with fossils, and sometimes destitute of any trace of ancient life. They occupy the western townships of the county.


At the close of the Cedar Valley stage the sea retreated westward from our area, and Linn county became dry land. For long ages its rocks were covered with rich soils supporting a luxuriant vegetation, probably tropical in its aspect. We know that running water channelled this ancient land, for when at last in Pennsylvanian (Coal measure) time the land sunk slowly beneath the sea, there were deposited in such channels clays and sandstones, which perhaps are only remnants of wide sheets of similar deposits now removed by denudation. A mile and a half south of Marion (southeast quarter of section 12, Rapids township) a well twenty-three feet deep penetrated a bed of dark shale which carried leaf impressions of a number of ferns characteristic of the undergrowth of the Carboniferous forests. A third of a mile southeast of Lisbon, and again about two miles south of the same village, at Bertram at the east end of the railway bridge, and on the old county road between Cedar Rapids and Marion, are exposures of sandstone which in some instances contain fragments of the logs drifted from perhaps distant uplands and water-logged and sunk in these ancient sand beds. The Bertram outlier contains many rolled coral fragments and worn bits of shells of the Devonian, included in Carboniferous deposits, much as the same fossils may now be found in the river deposits of the present age in the sand bars of the Cedar.


For a succession of geologic ages our county, in common with eastern Iowa, seems to have remained dry land, for no deposits of the sea are found upon it. On both sides of the continent mountain ranges of Alpine height were uplifted, and during the immeasurable years worn down, grain by grain, to flat and featureless plains. But no deformations are recorded in our county history and the lands seems to have remained so low that little erosion was possible. We are permitted to conceive that over our savannas in Mesozoic times there roamed monstrous reptiles of strange shapes, such as are known to have existed in adjacent states. In the later ages of this era it is not impossible that during the great submergence which brought the Cretaceous sea over the Great Plains from the Arctic to the Gulf, including western Iowa, our area also may have been inundated and huge swimming reptiles such as are found in the deposits of Kansas and Nebraska may have disported themselves where now our rich farm lands lie open to the sun, while in the air featherless cold-blooded creatures larger than any bird winged their way on leathery pinions.

THE ASTOR HOUSE Erected by John Young in 1839, Looking
South The Second House in Cedar Rapids THE ASTOR HOUSE
Erected by John Young in 1839, Looking South The Second House in Cedar Rapids

[Pg 29]

During the millions of years which are included in the Tertiary ages Linn county was undoubtedly dry land. On our grass lands pastured a succession of strange and uncouth mammals evolving into higher and higher forms. Among these denizens of the county were probably herds of pig-like creatures, three toed horses little bigger than foxes, and ancestral monkeys swarming in the trees, for such are known to have existed in other states. But these chapters in the history of the county can not be written from any local records.


The warm climate of Tertiary times changed slowly to one of arctic cold. The winters lengthened and the summers becoming ever cooler and yet cooler failed at last to melt the winter snows. Vast sheets of glacial ice, such as that which shrouds Greenland today, covered much of the continent. The geologic panorama thus presents our area as buried beneath one after another of slow-moving glaciers hundreds of feet thick. The proofs of their existence are found in almost every cutting which goes below the soil. Any quarry will show the rock deeply rotted and pitted by long preglacial decay. Here and there upon its surface will be found remnants of the deep red residual clays, the subsoils of preglacial times. Upon these clays formed from the decaying rock rest stony clays in which clay, sand, and stones faceted as only glacier ice can facet, are mingled pell-mell together, as only glacier ice can mingle. Occasionally is found the unmistakable track of the glacier left on the underlying rock scraped smooth and marked with parallel scorings, as at the north end of the cut of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway at Linn Junction.

The glaciers also brought from ledges of granite and other crystalline rocks in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada the boulders which form a conspicuous feature in some of our prairie landscapes. These, the "first settlers," traveled to their destinations far more leisurely than any ox carts of the immigrant pioneers; for the glaciers can not have moved faster at most than fifty feet a day, and probably at less than a tenth that rate, judging by the rates of motion of present glaciers.

The ice sheets of the glacial epoch plastered the county thick with the stony clays which they dragged along in their basal layers. The thickness of these glacial deposits probably averages from fifty to one hundred feet. Old valleys cut in rock by Tertiary rivers were buried wholly from view, as, for example, one extending north from Prairieburg; and the farmer now plows his corn in fields which lie two and three hundred feet above the channels of ancient rivers. In places the old valleys were left to be re-occupied by the rivers. Such are the reaches of wide valley of the Cedar south of Center Point. In other places the rivers were diverted wholly from their ancient beds and made to flow in new channels which they have not yet had time to widen and deepen to their ancient measures. Such are the narrow rock bound valleys of the Wapsipinicon south of Troy Mills and of the Cedar at the Palisades.

On the final retreat of the glaciers waters from the melting ice swept over the county, leaving deposits of sand on the lower lands and in the valleys. Since the glacial epoch the rivers have cut their beds a score of feet and more below the deposits of glacial floods and in many places, as near the Ivanhoe bridge, remnants of these ancient flood plains are left as terraces or "benches" or "second bottoms." At Bertram the sands deposited by glacial waters near the mouth of Big Creek stand about fifty feet above the level of the river.

[Pg 30]


A large part of the county is covered with a deposit of fine yellow silt called loess. Dry, it crumbles into powder at a finger touch; wet, it is somewhat plastic and can be moulded into brick and tile. On the hill and uplands the loess is thickly spread, adding in places at least forty feet to their elevation. Over the lowlands it is thin or absent. This yellow earth has been and is to be of greater value than mines of yellow gold. It is of inexhaustible fertility. It contains abundant mineral plant foods, partly constituent, and partly brought up into it by ground water; and these foods are so finely pulverized as to be of readiest solution and absorption by the roots. In wet weather the loess mantle absorbs the rainfall like a sponge; in months of desert drouth, like those of the summer of 1910, it returns the water to the surface, like a wick, to preserve the crops from failure.

A disadvantage of the loess lies in the readiness with which it washes. The forest which once covered nearly all the uplands protected the soil from wash by means of its mattress of roots and the thick prairie sod was equally efficient where hill slopes were grassed over. But where forests have been thoughtlessly cut down, and steep slopes turned to plow land, it is but a few years until the brown top-soil is all washed away and the fields in spring when freshly plowed are as yellow as a deep cut in road or brick yard. The foot path in the pasture or the furrow of the plow becomes a gully in a single heavy rain, and unless checked soon becomes a gulch scores of feet in width.

By accenting the height of the ridges the loess also adds to the scenery of the county. Our area lies in a part of east central Iowa where the stony clays deposited by ancient glaciers accumulated in long ridges and belts of upland rising many feet above the intervening undulating plains. Because of the alternation of ridge and lowland no part of the state except the valley of the Upper Mississippi has so beautiful and wide and varied prospects. Over more or less of their course the rivers of the county have cut their channels lengthwise in the ridges, thus giving rise to the bold scenery of the Wapsipinicon above Central City, and of the Cedar near Mount Vernon. Some of these picturesque reaches of river and cliff and forest slope should surely be converted into county parks in the near future and preserved for the gratification of all coming generations. Unless this is done we may expect that the forests will be cut down and the hill slopes gashed with countless gullies; while the lichened rocks of the river cliffs fringed with fern and tamarisk will give place to unsightly quarries.

While Linn county was sheeted with glacier ice, no life of any sort was possible within its limits. But during the long interglacial epochs which intervened between the ice invasions, forests grew and animals now extinct roamed over our hills and plains. Among these early inhabitants may be mentioned extinct horses and the giant proboscidians, the mammoth, and the mastodon. These returned to the area after the final retreat of the ice and their remains are found in the peat bogs and river gravels. In the earliest of the interglacial epochs it is quite probable that some of the gigantic groundsloths of South America made their home here, since they are known to have done so in the western counties of the state. No traces of man have been found in the glacial deposits of Iowa, nor have any indubitable evidences of his presence in glacial times been found in North America. Sometime, we know not when, roving tribes of Indians set foot within our area, and geology gives place to archeology. And when the white man appeared, inductive history ends and there begins the history of tradition and written records.

[Pg 31]


Beginnings in Linn County

The Black Hawk war, though confined to the state of Illinois, made an epoch in the history of Iowa. It was the last of the many Indian wars, and was concluded by a cession of much of the valuable lands of Iowa to the government. Reports of the war had stirred up more or less enthusiasm as to the future of the west, and settlers began to come soon after the war had ended. Many of the officers, and others who had taken part in the war, became the government agents and officials in various capacities in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The government also, through its representatives in congress, planned great things for the west in opening canals and roads, while rivers were made navigable and steamship traffic opened up.

One must not be led to believe that Iowa was the only part of the west which grew so rapidly. The growth was general, it is true, but Iowa seems to have grown more rapidly than any other of the territories between 1836 and 1846.

Illinois was admitted as a state in 1818; Missouri three years later; next came Iowa in 1846, while Wisconsin, which had been explored in 1639, was not admitted to statehood till 1848; and Minnesota, settled as early as 1680, and having a fort built in 1820, was not admitted to statehood till 1858. Thus, it would appear, that Iowa remained a territory for a shorter period of time than any other of the western states located in the Mississippi valley, but, of course, there is reason for this. It was a prairie state, in the first instance, and on the east was bounded by a great waterway and by a state teeming with an aggressive population, many of whose people soon crossed the borderland even before the government had made proper surveys and thrown the land open to settlement.

Henry Dodge was appointed governor of the new Territory of Wisconsin in 1836, Iowa at that time being a part of Wisconsin. With the exception of a few settlements of white people along Lake Michigan and in the mining region around Dubuque there were few, if any, white settlers. Governor Dodge's work was largely with the Indians, in making contracts and ceding lands to the government. Settlers were coming in constantly and a demand for a survey of the lands was made from time to time. Survey of the public lands in Iowa was begun in the fall of 1836. Great preparations for the land sales were made. These were to take place in Dubuque and Burlington in November, 1838. The settlers who had arrived on these lands for some time prior to its survey arranged among themselves to select an arbitration association, each township making a register of all claims, and choosing one representative to attend the land sales, giving him authority to bid off the lands selected by each claimant.

A. C. Dodge was appointed the first registrar of the land office at Burlington, and George W. Jones the first surveyor-general of Iowa. One of the surveyors-general in the early '40s was no other than Judge James Wilson, of Keene, New Hampshire, a son of a Revolutionary soldier, and himself a lawyer of more than ordinary ability, a judge, and at one time a member of congress. He was appointed by General Harrison, an old friend.

At the first convention which met at Burlington in November, 1837, for the purpose of organizing a separate territory of Iowa, were the following delegates from Dubuque county, which, at that time, included a part of what later became Linn county: P. H. Engle, J. I. Fales, G. W. Harris, W. A. Warren, W. B.[Pg 32] Watts, A. F. Russell, W. H. Patton, J. W. Parker, J. D. Bell and J. H. Rose. The convention in its petition to congress asserted that there were 25,000 people in that portion of Wisconsin Territory known as "The Iowa District;" that houses had been erected; that farms were cultivated, and still people could not obtain title to their lands, and asking that the part west of the river be set aside as a separate territory. This was one of the most important conventions held on what became Iowa soil, and congress at once took action to make such provisions as were thought wise and expedient.

Linn county was established by an act of the legislature of the Territory of Wisconsin approved on December 21, 1837. The county was regular in shape, but four townships larger than its neighbors on the north and east, which were created at the same time. The boundaries received at this time have not been altered. The spelling of the name was Lynn, although it was spelled in the body of the act itself Linn; it took its name from Dr. Louis F. Linn, United States senator from Missouri, who was appointed to that office in 1833 and who was a friend and admirer of President Jackson, and much interested in the development of the west.

The eastern part of Linn county, perhaps one-third, had been part of the original county of Dubuque since 1834, the boundary line running from the southeast corner of the county in a northwesterly line a little to the west of the middle in the northern part of the county. Linn county then embraces within its limits two Indian land cessions. The eastern part was acquired from the Sac and Fox Indians by the treaty of September 21, 1832, known as the Black Hawk Purchase; the western part, or the other two-thirds, was acquired by treaty of October 21, 1837. The fourteen counties created by an act sub-dividing Dubuque county into new counties, which was approved October 21, 1837, were as follows: Dubuque, Clayton, Jackson, Benton, Linn, Jones, Clinton, Johnson, Scott, Delaware, Buchanan, Cedar, Fayette, and Keokuk. While most of these counties were established outright the wording of the act relating to Dubuque county implies that it was looked upon as the former county reduced in size, which was not correct, as this land from which these counties were laid out also included much of the Sac and Fox cession made after Dubuque county had been formed and laid out, and which county had not been ceded to the United States government.

These boundary lines were reduced in size later; however the boundaries of Dubuque, Delaware, Jackson, Jones, Linn, Clinton, Cedar, and Scott have remained as they were laid out at the time. The Territory of Iowa was created by an act of congress approved June 12, 1838.

Among the bills passed by the first legislature, which met during the winter of 1838 and 1839, was the following: "An Act to Organize the County of Linn, and establish the Seat of Justice thereof.

"Section 1. Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Iowa, that the county of Linn be and the same is hereby organized from and after the 10th of June next, and the inhabitants of said county be entitled to all the rights and privileges to which, by law, the inhabitants of other organized counties of this Territory are entitled, and the said county shall be a part of the Third Judicial District, and the District Court shall be held at the seat of justice of said county, or such other place as may be provided until the seat of justice is established.

"Section 2. That Richard Knott, Lyman Dillon and Benjamin Nye be and they are hereby appointed Commissioners to locate the seat of justice in said county, and shall meet at the house of William Abbe, on the first Monday of March next, in said county, and shall proceed forthwith to examine and locate a suitable place for the seat of justice of said county, having particular reference to the convenience of the county and healthfulness of the location.

DOUBLE LOG CABIN Built by Wm. Abbe, Linn County's First
Built by Wm. Abbe, Linn County's First Settler

[Pg 33]

"Section 3. The Commissioners, or a majority of them, shall, within ten days after their meeting at the aforesaid place, make out and certify to the Governor of this Territory, under their hands and seals, a certificate containing a particular description of the situation of the location selected for the aforesaid county seat; and on the receipt of such certificate, the Governor shall issue his proclamation affirming and declaring the said location to be the seat of justice of said county of Linn.

"Section 4. The Commissioners aforesaid shall, before they enter upon their duties, severally take and subscribe an oath before some person legally authorized to administer the same, viz: I, ............, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am not, either directly or indirectly, interested in the location of the seat of justice of Linn County, nor do I own any property in lands, or any claims, within the said county of Linn. So help me God. (Signed) A. B., etc.

"Section 5. If, at any time within one year thereafter, it shall be shown that the said Commissioners, or any of them, received any present, gratuity, fee or reward in any form other than that allowed by law, or before the expiration of six months after the Governor's proclamation, declaring the said seat of justice permanent, become interested in said town or any lands in its immediate vicinity, the Commissioner or Commissioners shall, upon conviction thereof by indictment in the District Court of the county in which he or they may reside, be guilty of a high misdemeanor, and be forever disqualified to vote at any election or to hold any office of trust or profit within this Territory.

"Section 6. The Commissioners aforesaid shall receive, upon making out their certificate of the location of the seat of justice of said county, each two dollars per day, and also three dollars for every twenty miles going and returning from their respective homes. Approved January 15, 1839."

Two of the Commissioners named in the act, Richard Knott and Benjamin Nye, accepted the trust, meeting at the house of William Abbe, two and one-half miles west of what is now Mount Vernon.

The Commissioners located the county seat in the middle of the county and named it "Marion," in honor of one of the Revolutionary generals. The Commissioners reported to the governor of the territory the completion of their work, and Governor Robert Lucas proclaimed the county of Linn duly established.

For election purposes Linn county was attached to Cedar, Johnson, and Jones, the first polling precinct being located at Westport, which had been laid out by Israel Mitchell with the expectation that this would be the county seat, Mr. Mitchell believing that the county seat should be located on the river, and that that location would be near enough the center for all practical purposes.

In October, 1838, the entire county composed one precinct, and thirty-two ballots were cast for candidates for the legislature. Charles Whittlesey was chosen for the senate and Robert G. Roberts for the house. The first county election was held in August, 1839, when three commissioners were selected at Westport—L. M. Strong, Peter McRoberts, and Samuel C. Stewart. This body had the same powers as was later conferred upon the county supervisors. This commission first sat as a body officially September 9, 1839, in the log house of James W. Willis. Hosea W. Gray was sheriff and acted as clerk of the court until a clerk was duly appointed.

The minutes state:

"The Board proceeded to the appointment of a Clerk. Thereupon it was ordered that John C. Berry be and is hereby appointed to the office of Clerk of the Board of Linn County Commissioners.

"Ordered. That the county seat of Linn County be and is hereby called and shall hereafter be known and designated by the name of Marion."

At this session W. H. Smith and Andrew J. McKean were appointed constables for the county. Jonas Martin was appointed road supervisor, his district[Pg 34] embracing all the land east of Marion and west of Big creek and east on the Marion and Davenport roads crossing Big creek. "It was also authorized that as Linn County had no safe place for the keeping of criminals that Sheriff Gray contract with the Sheriff of Muscatine County for the keeping of one Samuel Clews, and that the Sheriff borrow funds to pay for the support and keeping of said Clews while in confinement."

It seems that the board met monthly and the county was divided into three voting precincts as follows: One at William Abbe's, known as Sugar Grove Precinct, with the following judges: William Abbe, John Cole, and John McAfferty; one at Marion, with James W. Bassett, Henry Thompson, and Rufus H. Lucore, judges; one at Michael Greene's, with Michael Greene, James Cummings, and Bartimeas McGonigle, judges.

At this time Ross McCloud was appointed county surveyor and was ordered to make the survey of the county seat and report, which he did, and also to lay out additions, which was done. A county jail was also ordered erected in January, 1840, and the contract for the building of the same was let to William Abbe and Asher Edgerton for the sum of $635.00; the first money raised by sale of lots in Marion was applied on the contract for the erection of the jail.


The first survey was made in 1838, being all of Jones county and townships 84, 85, and 86 north, in range 5, west, in Linn county. This was made public in the newspapers and many settlers came in, taking the best lands that had been surveyed and squatting on the other land which they knew would soon be open for settlement. Linn Grove was an ideal place, and here in an early day a large number settled. The sale of lands in the county was advertised to take place in January, 1840. On account of the difficulties of transportation, the settlers petitioned to have the same postponed until the summer of that year, which petition was granted. George Greene, who had been a school teacher near Ivanhoe and even at that time was a man of no ordinary ability, was asked to see what could be done in changing the place from Dubuque to Marion. Mr. Greene volunteered to go to Washington and lay the matter before congress, or the men in charge of the land department. After some time he succeeded in his mission and won the grateful respect of his fellow pioneers, saving them a great deal of money. Thus, for a time, Marion was a United States land office, and the people of Linn county who had little money to spend could claim their lands without much trouble.


The first court house built in the county was a log structure for the use of the pioneers. This structure was erected during the years 1840 and 1841. As there was no money in the county treasury and as the court house was needed, the settlers donated their labor. They cut the logs, hauled them to Marion, and constructed the building, the roof being of shakes and the floor of puncheons. Among those who helped erect this first seat of justice were James and John Hunter, the Stambaugh brothers, James and Elias Doty, and others. The first case, it is said, tried in this court house was one brought against James Doty for jumping a claim on the west side of the river, adjoining the claim of Robert Ellis, the question being whether or not a man erecting a bark building and claiming the land had complied with the law. The jury was impaneled and a trial had which lasted for some time. When the case went to the jury the judge and all vacated so that the jury could use the small room in arriving at a decision. The jury was out the afternoon and all night, and at ten o'clock the next[Pg 35] morning they reported that they were unable to agree. During all this time they had had nothing to eat, and the water they had to drink was very poor. Upon this jury sat James Hunter, one of the first settlers of the county, who was the only stubborn one to hold out in favor of Doty. He used to tell later that he felt that he could never look James Doty in the face if he should consent to such a verdict as the other eleven had framed up against him. The case was tried at a subsequent term when the jury decided in favor of Doty, to the effect that while he was later than the claimant in making his claim he was a bona fide settler with the intention of becoming a permanent settler.

The next court house built in Marion was a frame structure still standing just west of the present brick building, and now used as a hotel. The present brick court house was erected by George W. Gray, the brick superstructure being built by Peter D. Harman, of Bertram, father of Warren Harman, of Cedar Rapids. Much of the carpenter work was done by that old pioneer, recently deceased, William Patterson, father of W. D. Patterson, of Cedar Rapids.

The first jail was erected in January, 1840, the contract for the building being awarded to William Abbe and Asher Edgerton for $635.00. The building was finished by May 1st of the same year. The first moneys raised by sale of lands were applied on this contract.

At the July session, 1849, the county was divided into three districts as follows: the townships of Washington and Fayette composed District No. 1; Franklin and Brown composed District No. 2; and Marion and Putnam District No. 3. At the July session, 1840, the board of commissioners began to discuss the question of township organizations. A vote of the county was ordered at the next election to determine the voice of the people; the election took place in August of that year and resulted in favor of the proposition.

Lists of townships are as follows: Marion, Franklin, Washington, Fayette, Putnam, and Brown established in 1841; Linn and Rapids, 1843; Otter Creek, 1844; Buffalo and Maine, 1848; Monroe, 1849; Spring Grove, 1853; Clinton, 1854; Jackson, 1855; College, Bertram, Boulder, and Fairfax, 1858; Grant, 1872; and Cedar, 1906.


The first records of the district court held in Linn county are dated Monday, October 26, 1840, Iowa Territory, Linn county. Pursuant to an act of the legislature of the territory, approved July, 1840, the district court of the United States and also for the Territory of Iowa met at Marion in said county on Monday, October 26, 1840. Present: The Hon. Jos. D. Williams, judge of the second judicial district for the territory; W. G. Woodward, district attorney of the United States for the district of Iowa; R. P. Lowe, prosecuting attorney for the second judicial district; H. W. Gray, sheriff of the county of Linn; S. H. Tryon, clerk of the district court; Lawrence Maloney for the marshal of the territory.

The following grand jurors were among the best known settlers: Aaron Usher, Samuel Ross, James Leverich, D. W. King, Israel Mitchell, W. H. Chambers, William Donahoo, Dan Curtis, W. T. Gilberts, G. A. Patterson, Isaac Butler, John Goudy, J. A. Gibson, Joe Barnett, Asher Edgerton, William Chambers, O. L. Bolling, Dan J. Doty, and Joseph Warford. As bailiff of the grand jury served Perry Oxley, one of the best known settlers.

The petit jurors were: D. A. Woodbridge, Isaac Carroll, G. W. Gray, B. McGonegal, John McCloud, Thomas Goudy, J. W. Willis, John Long, J. W. Margrove, Ira Simmons, John Crow, Joe Carroway, Steve Osborn, H. B. Mason, O. R. Gregory, John Nation, Thomas Maxwell, and George Yiesly.

One of the early cases of record is that of A. Moriarty vs. N. G. Niece. One of the early jury trials was that of H. C. Dill vs. John Barnett: one of the first[Pg 36] criminal cases was that of Territory vs. W. K. Farnsworth, indicted for starting a prairie fire; the jury returned a verdict of "not guilty."

The probate docket is a very small volume but is filled with entries of much historical interest concerning the old citizens of the territory. Among a number of entries can be found the following: In the estate of A. Coles, claim filed and allowed November 8, 1842; in the estate of Thomas Gray, claims allowed in 1844; in the estate of J. Barnett, claims allowed in 1843 in favor of Israel Mitchell in the amount of $4.50; in the estate of John Crow, claims allowed 1842, as well as against the estate of Elias Doty, administered upon in 1843 by M. J. Doty and Jos. Crain, administrators. The estate of A. L. Ely takes up a number of pages.

The first default case seems to be listed for the October term, 1840, that of James D. Stockton vs. Stephen Osborn, et al, the claim being assigned by John O. Gray to plaintiff. The next case was that of Thomas W. Campbell and Perry Oxley vs. John Barnett, which was a transcript from J. G. Cole, a justice of the peace. R. P. Lowe acted as district attorney, while Isaac Butler was foreman of the grand jury.

The first entry made by a native of a foreign country to become a citizen of the United States was made by Peter Garron, stating that he was then a resident of Linn county and that he was formerly a subject of Scotland of the United Kingdom of England and Ireland, and that it was his intention to renounce allegiance to Queen Victoria and become a faithful citizen of the United States.

The first divorce action was brought by Dyer Usher against Mary Usher at the October term, 1842, but it seems that the notice of publication was not served as ordered and no decree was granted.

The first decree of divorce granted was that on the petition of Mrs. Parthena C. Hewitt vs. Abraham Hewitt, rendered at the March term, 1844.


Pursuant to an act of the legislature of Iowa, approved April 3, 1868, the county of Linn became part of the second circuit of the eighth judicial district, the circuit consisting of Cedar, Linn, and Jones counties, Hon. S. Yates, of Cedar, being elected judge.

The first term was held at Marion January, 1869, when W. G. Thompson appeared as prosecuting attorney and A. J. McKean as clerk.

The legislature in a few years changed the boundaries of this circuit, making it composed of Cedar, Linn, Johnson, Jones, Iowa, Tama, and Benton counties. It was known as the eighth district of the circuit and district courts. John McKean was judge of the circuit court and John Shane, of Vinton, judge of the district court.

By an act of the legislature the circuit court was abolished and Linn county was incorporated into a district composed of Linn, Cedar, and Jones counties with three judges.


Linn county has had its share of noted trials, and many are the pages which may be gleaned from its musty records to show how treachery, cowardice, and selfishness have here, as in many other places, played their parts. It is not best to uncover many of these pages, as it would perhaps add nothing to the general information or be of any value except as historical relics of a former age.

One of the first murder cases in the county, at least as far as known, was that of Nathan Carnagy who was brutally assaulted by James Reed in Marion in 1847. Reed had been drinking heavily and got into a quarrel with Carnagy about some old trouble. Reed was arrested, tried before a jury, and acquitted.

Another case was that of the killing of Pat O'Connell by Samuel Butler in 1865, the affair growing out of a dispute over some property interests. The parties met on a public highway, a quarrel ensued with disastrous results. The jury in this case also returned a verdict of "not guilty."



[Pg 37]

John Akers was murdered in a saloon in Cedar Rapids in 1864 by one Decklots; the jury returned a verdict of "guilty." This sad affair was due to liquor, both parties being more or less under its influence at the time the quarrel began.

There are a number of murder cases of an appalling nature on record; sometimes a conviction and sometimes an acquittal resulted.

On the civil side of the calendar can be found many cases attracting attention, sometimes on account of the charges made, at other times on account of the large amounts of money involved. In this forum magnificent addresses were heard, and no lawyer practicing at the Linn county bar was ever a miser of his eccentricities, whatever they might have been. Most of them had the thread of the attorney in their nature and took to oratory like a duck to water, and most of them in these early pioneer days went in to win the jury at all hazards, possessing the power to stir the heart and to make their personality felt.


Along the American frontier were always found the outlaws; sometimes they outnumbered the honest settler and sometimes not, depending more or less upon conditions. Outlaws preferred to hover on the frontier where courts of justice were unknown and where the sons of toil, busy with making a living, had no time to defend themselves against outlawry. Some of these outlaws had committed theft and robbery and were living upon this borderland of civilization, knowing that it would be perfectly safe under assumed names. Others came here for the special purpose, knowing it was easier to make a living by theft than by honest toil. Thus, the Linn county frontier at an early date was infested with this class of people, and for a number of years the rights of the people had to be protected by associations organized for this purpose, and made up of the best class in the community, until such a time as law and order could be enforced by decrees of court and by penitentiary sentences.

When the first white settler came into the Red Cedar valley there were only two counties fully organized west of the Mississippi, with the exception of the state of Missouri. These counties were Dubuque and Des Moines. They extended from a flag station at Fort Armstrong back into the country forty miles, and from the Missouri line to a line running westward from Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin. It was a large tract of country, and offered secure hiding places for law violators. In this wild country, along rivers where the timber was thick, hiding places for the outlaw were offered, and when settlers did come in the outlaw did not like to remove, and, consequently tormented the actual settler and frequently took by stealth or force such personal property as he wanted.

In the early day the country bordering on the Cedar river was flooded with counterfeiters, and it is stated that this counterfeit money was so well made that it was difficult to tell which was the good money and which the bad and, in fact, at times it seems that the good money was a scarce article. No one was able to tell where this counterfeit money came from, but it is supposed very little, if any, was made here but that it was imported from other places and distributed by "healers" on a percentage basis. While a cry was raised against counterfeit money, only the government could handle such cases and very little was done to start proceedings. Now and then the government attorney would bring a case or two, but as a rule the defendants were generally released by a jury, many of whom were friends of the parties accused.

It was not until horse stealing became prevalent that the people arose in arms against the outlaw and formed associations called "anti-horse thief" associations.[Pg 38] It was a difficult thing at first to prosecute, as the gang was well organized and had a perfect system of stations, agents, signs, and signals. The members of these gangs which infested Cedar, Jones, and Linn counties in the early days dressed better than the honest farmer, were more charitable, and in the day time, at least, were looked upon as the most respectable persons in the community. They were shrewd and cunning in their business transactions, and hedged themselves in such a way as to escape detection and exposure for a long time. These "free booters" and plunderers would move from county to county and from community to community if things got a little hot and they feared exposure. In counties where they were in the majority they would intimidate and scare the actual settlers, even if these knew positively that depredations had been made. And frequently the honest settler who attacked and complained was forced to leave the country instead of the outlaw who had many friends who came to his rescue. Many a man who was known to make a complaint before a grand jury, to a prosecuting attorney, or judge would be trailed by a company of outlaws, threatening letters would be written against himself and members of his family, that his buildings would be destroyed by fire if he persisted in bringing suits or attempted to file an information of any kind against any members of the band.

A few of these men who were at least accused of being members of these various gangs of counterfeiters, horse thieves and other desperadoes may be mentioned.

Perhaps the most noted ones were the members of the Brodie gang, composed of John Brodie, and his four sons—John, Jr., Stephen, William, and Hugh—who came into Linn county in 1839 and were among the first settlers in this county. They were natives of Ohio. Some had lived in Michigan for a time, and before coming here had commenced their career of villainy. On account of some misdemeanor they were driven from Clear Ford on the Mohican river in what is now Ashland county, Ohio, in 1830 or 1831, and sought refuge for a time in Steuben county, Indiana. Here they remained for a couple of years when they became so notorious as to arouse the country against them, and they fled westward in about 1835 and found their way into what was known as the Rock river country, or Brodie's Grove, Dement township, Ogle county, Illinois. In this part of Illinois at this time the country was completely under the control of outlaws and desperadoes, and here the Brodies found congenial companionship.

Early in 1839 the Brodies gang were driven out by an organized society called the "regulators," composed of law abiding people who insisted upon law enforcement. They then drifted westward and located in Linn county. From this time on for a number of years there was scarcely a term of court but that one or more members of this family was arraigned for trial on some criminal charge or other.

Sam Leterel, Christian Gove, James Case, also known as Jim Stoutenberg, McConlogue, Squires, McBroom, and others were members of this gang. McConlogue resided for a time at Cedar Bluffs, later removing into Johnson county where Morse is now located. Stoutenberg resided at times with McConlogue and at times with Squires. A number of others associated with the gang and lived on the borders of Linn and adjoining counties and went by various names. Where they came from no one knew and they dropped out of sight if there was any danger of arrest and conviction.

In 1839 John Goudy and his son-in-law, Thomas McElheny, and a son settled in Linn county, and it was noised abroad that the family was very wealthy. To ascertain whether or not they had money, some time in April, 1840, a man by the name of Switzer was sent to visit the Goudys under the pretense of wanting to borrow money, the real object being to ascertain whether or not the parties kept money and whether or not he could obtain a pretended loan. The loan was declined for some reason or other, but it is supposed that Switzer learned enough[Pg 39] in his talk with the Goudy family to know that they had money and there would be a chance to make a good haul. The gang went up along the Cedar river on the west side and crossed the river about where Goudy's home was. Here McConlogue had some conversation with a person who knew him. About midnight of a day in April the door of the Goudy cabin was forced open and the inmates awoke to find themselves surrounded by five burglars who threatened their lives if they did not give up their money. Old Mr. Goudy replied that he had but little money, only $40.00, and that they could find that in his vest pocket. The vest was searched and the money found. They insisted that he had more and demanded it. The old man persisted that it was every dollar he had, or that was about the house. The leader of the gang then ordered the house to be searched and directed the occupants of the beds to cover their heads at once. In the shuffle for places Mrs. McElheny, a daughter of Goudy, recognized Switzer, who had been there to borrow the money a few days before, and also another member of the gang who was well known by the family. In the search for money a purse containing $120.00 belonging to a daughter, Hannah, was found by the burglars. In an old leather belt used by Mr. Goudy there was also a $100.00 bill which the robbers overlooked or could not find in their hurry to search the house.

They became very angry at not finding any more money, having expected to find $9,000.00 which Mr. Goudy was reported to have had in the house at the time. The robbers on leaving the house cursed every member of the family, and seemed much put out at the haul they had made. Captain Thomas H. Goudy, a married son, lived near his father's cabin. He had been a captain of militia in Ohio and his uniform was hanging upon the wall. The robbers seeing this remarked "a military officer must be a rich man," and his money was demanded, but they received nothing, and after turning over everything in the house and finding only some provisions, they left Goudy and went to the cabin of William F. Gilbert, another prominent settler in the neighborhood, who was also supposed to have considerable money. On the night in question Gilbert had stopping with him three men, the mail carrier who operated a stage between Dubuque and Iowa City, and two others. In the Gilbert house, as in the other house, the cabin consisted of only one room with several beds, and on this night Mrs. Goudy and her children occupied one bed, the strangers another bed, while Goudy and the mail carrier slept on the floor by the fire. The entrance of the robbers was so sudden that before the occupants knew what was going on they were covered with guns and clubs, and their money was demanded. Goudy rallied to defend his home, and so did the mail carrier who slept near the door. Both men were knocked down and the cheek bone on one side of the mail carrier's face was smashed completely by a blow from a club wielded by one of the robbers.

The house was thoroughly searched and the drawer of a box which was supposed to be opened by a secret spring known to no one but members of the family was forced and a $50.00 bill and some $30.00 or $40.00 in change were found and taken. While all the older members were frightened Mr. Goudy's son, during the plundering, arose in bed and recognized a neighbor—one Goodrich, who lived but a half mile distant—as one of the robbers. This neighbor had up to this time been looked upon as a respectable man. It was he who opened the drawer as quickly as though he was one of the family. The robbers secured as their share of the booty this night about $240.00. A young daughter of Mr. Goudy, who remembered well that night, was later married to Judge John Shane, of Vinton, a well known jurist and a most excellent judge.

This wholesale robbery stirred the whole country, and Captain Thomas Goudy especially, being a military man, insisted that now it was high time for the people to arouse themselves and if the officers of the law refused to do anything then the settlers would take the law into their own hands and start something going. Thomas and his father went to J. W. Tallman at Antwerp and[Pg 40] Colonel Prior Scott at Pioneer Grove for advice and counsel, and especially to apprehend one Wallace who was implicated in this robbery. Colonel Scott went among his people and organized a "mutual protective association," the settlers hunted up their rifles and shot guns, and the organization was ready to begin work. Wallace had fled, but pursuers were on his track and he was apprehended in Illinois City in Illinois, ten miles above Muscatine, by a citizen named Coleman and turned over to Thomas Goudy and his party. Coleman's reputation in the vicinity was not the best and he had been suspected of harboring outlaws, but it was stated on account of some difficulty in the division of spoils he and Wallace had had a falling out and hence Wallace's easy capture.

A warrant was taken out for the arrest of Switzer, and when Wallace was returned Switzer was also arrested and a preliminary examination was held before John G. Cole, one of the first justices of the peace in Linn county. Both of the parties were held to bail. Their cases came on for trial at Tipton at the October term, 1841, of the district court.

James W. Tallman, a resident of Antwerp, accompanied by several neighbors, started out to arrest Switzer, a large man and an ugly one. Switzer resided near Halderman's mill. At two o'clock in the morning a posse surrounded Switzer's home. He refused to open the door and they waited till daylight before he was taken in custody. Switzer's cabin was a perfect arsenal, there being guns, pistols, and ugly knives scattered all around.

Later James Stoutenberg, also known as Jim Case, was arrested at McConlogue's as an accomplice and member of the gang. He was taken into the woods near McConlogue's and examined in the court of "Judge Lynch" in order to obtain a confession from him, and he was finally tied to a tree and severely flogged. He was never seen alive again. Some assert that he left the country, and others that members of the party carried him to the Cedar river, tied him to a stone raft and left him to his fate.

McConlogue was also arrested as being a member of the gang in the robbery, but he established an alibi. Being satisfied that he was guilty of helping to plan the robbery, the pioneer settlers, duly aroused, tried him by rules not known in the ordinary law court. He was sentenced to be hanged, but finally it was agreed that this sentence should be changed to whipping, and that each one of the citizens should give him five lashes on the bare back, and if that failed to bring a confession as to the particulars of the robbery and the extent and names of the gang, then he should be whipped the second time until he died. Blows continued to fall upon his quivering and bleeding back until he implored for mercy and promised to reveal all he knew about the robbery and the operations of the "free booters." He admitted having knowledge of the Goudy robbery and that he received as his share of the booty $25.00. He also admitted that Wallace was the leader of the gang at this time and that Switzer was another member of the gang of five men who perpetrated the robbery. The members of the association after this confession let him go, but first applied a solution of salt on his lacerated flesh, followed by an application of slippery elm bark to remind him of the ordeal he had recently passed through, and which he never forgot. At this time McConlogue was under indictment in Johnson county for assaulting a man named Brown with intent to rob him; on this charge he was tried and sent to the penitentiary.

Goodrich, a neighbor of the Gilberts, who had taken part in the robbery and who had been recognized by the latter's son, was also horse whipped and gagged at the same time but he refused to answer any questions and denied having taken part in the robbery. Soon after this he removed from the county and was never heard of afterwards.

McConlogue's admission implicated McBroom, who had been known for some time previously as one of the brightest men of the gang, and who was also supposed to be a lawyer. He was also caught and whipped nearly to death near what is known as Scott's mill, without making any confession, but with threat that if anything more was heard of any attempted robbery of any kind by any member of the gang everyone, including himself, would be swung up to the first oak tree. It is needless to say that he immediately left the country and was never heard of again.

DANIEL SEWARD HAHN One of the First Settlers in Linn
One of the First Settlers in Linn County

[Pg 41]

William Stretch, an old settler, many years afterwards made a trip down the Mississippi and there in one of the river cities, either New Orleans or Memphis, he met and recognized McBroom who had been so severely flogged on the banks of the Cedar river. McBroom claimed that he had lived an honest life since removing from the Cedar river and he begged Stretch not to say anything about it, at least in his new home. Stretch agreed to this, but investigated to ascertain whether or not McBroom had told the facts, and found that he was a respectable citizen, one of the leaders in that city, and had accumulated a fortune—between forty and fifty thousand dollars.

Another member of the gang, a cousin of the Brodie boys, and in many ways a bad fellow, was overtaken in Washington township, this county, while driving and there shot by a band of what was known as "regulators" or members of the "anti-horse thief association." Seventeen bullets had penetrated his body. Who had a hand in this act is not known, although the members are said to have belonged to some of the first families of the county. When Wilson was caught he was passing through the county with a team of stolen horses which had been brought from the eastern part of the state.

The trial of Switzer, who had been indicted for burglary in 1840, was transferred on a change of venue from Linn to Cedar county. It came up at the October term of the district court, Joseph Williams presiding. George McCoy was sheriff and William Knott was his deputy. The following named persons, all well known settlers, sat on this jury: C. Kline, William Morgan, Elias Epperson, Abe Kiser, Porter McKinstry, P. Wilkinson, J. S. Lewis, John Lewis, William Denny, W. H. Bolton, Peter Diltz, and Samuel Gilliland.

Considerable excitement prevailed at this trial. Switzer was represented by able counsel who put up a great defense. Mrs. McElheny and other members of the family unmistakably identified Switzer as the person who had been there before to borrow the money and who was one of the leaders on the night of the robbery. Switzer tried to prove an alibi, and had a number of people who swore that he had been at another place on the night of the robbery. It is said that the jury was out two days and two nights and during this deliberation Switzer tried to approach Knott by saying that he wanted help and that as soon as Knott found out the jury had found him guilty he asked him to give him some sign by taking a handkerchief out of his pocket. What he would have attempted then is not known. Knott refused, the jury disagreed, eleven standing for conviction and one for acquittal.

During the trial a large grey horse was hitched in front of the building used as a court house, for what purpose no one ever understood, nor did any one know who was the owner of the horse. Switzer had a number of friends who hung around the jury and around the court house during the trial. As the jury came out one of the jurors had a handkerchief protruding from the side pocket of his coat. Switzer recognized the signal. With the nimbleness and quickness of a bare back rider he jumped on to the horse and darted away like a cyclone. Knowing the proposition Switzer made to Knott there seems to be some reason to believe that this member of the jury had given Switzer the sign. When the jury reported they were unable to agree, Switzer's friends started out to find and convey to him the result, but could not find him until the day following, when they found him concealed among some of the timber along Sugar creek.

[Pg 42]

Another warrant was issued for his arrest, but there was some delay in serving this notice and in the meantime he made his escape. In 1852 William Knott was in California and there met Switzer at Carson river in Nevada territory and had a conversation with him. Switzer admitted that he had been in a very tight place when he was under arrest in Cedar county, and he asked Knott to convey his best wishes to the juror who had hung out in his favor. Mr. Knott ascertained that Switzer's morals had not changed any on account of his removal. In 1874 Judge John Shane and his wife visited California, and upon inquiry at Vallejo ascertained that Switzer lived in that vicinity, and although a very dissolute and reckless man and feared by all, he had accumulated a handsome fortune. He also discovered that the sons were following in the footsteps of their father, and that one of them was under indictment for having killed a man.

At the time of the Switzer arrest and trial for the Gilbert robbery a civil suit had also been brought against him for the recovery of the money and a judgment was obtained. Judge Shane consulted an attorney and tried to get a transcript of his judgment in order to collect the same, but for some reason the records could not be found and the judgment could not be transcripted. Switzer died in California in 1877.

One of Switzer's best friends and a hanger-on at the court, a desperado, surrounded by a number of fellows of the same type, was Christopher Burns. He carried revolvers and bowie knives and wore a gentleman's cloak of the old style thrown loosely about his shoulders. The sheriff, his deputy, and a number of men surrounding them also carried arms, and in case the jury had returned a verdict of "guilty" it was Burns's intention, no doubt, to rescue his friend and a bloody battle would have taken place. Burns left the country immediately and was shot by a neighbor in a quarrel on the upper Missouri river in 1845.

The whipping of McBroom, Case, and others, and the arrest of Switzer and his flight put a stop to these outrages, so from 1841 to 1855, while many suspicious persons still lived in the community, they were more guarded in their movements than before, and these desperate acts did not take place, although for many years after this a good horse was not always safe property to keep in the country.


From History of Linn County, 1878

It seems that the first store was located at Westport where there was a barter trade carried on with Indians. W. H. Merritt ran a store at Ivanhoe in 1838, which was located on the government road. John Henry seems to have operated the store at Westport, but whether he bought this from Wilbert Stone is uncertain. It is stated that William, or Wilbert, Stone, sold his store or had one at Westport about 1837 where he did some trading with the Indians. He must have been there as early as 1837 because he sold out his interest to John Henry and removed further up to what became Cedar Rapids, and had been living there for some time when Robert Ellis found him on the west side of the river upon his arrival in May, 1838.

None of the land at that time had been surveyed, so all the rights the people had were known as "squatter" rights, which they sold as any other land, and which would give them the privilege of filing on it when the land would get into the market. Much of this land was handled that way. The southeastern and eastern part of the county were first settled, and then settlements were made along the Cedar river, which would be natural for the reason that people had to use the river more or less in keeping in communication with other places.

It would be impossible to give the names of all the early settlers for the reason that some only remained a short time and moved away again and the names[Pg 43] of these have been lost. A few only can be mentioned to give the reader an idea of where and how certain towns were staked out and buildings commenced. The Linn county lands first came into the market in March, 1843, and not till then, did the settlers come in any large numbers. All were anxious to get free lands. The town sites were laid out as follows, though they were only squatter's rights: Westport in July, 1838, by Israel Mitchell; Columbus (Cedar Rapids), September, 1838, by William [or Wilbert] Stone; Ivanhoe, October, 1838, by Anson Cowles; while the town site of Cedar Rapids was laid out by N. B. Brown and others August 4, 1841. The first plat, however, recorded was by the father of Elias Doty. This was recorded after the land had come into market, when Westport was re-named Newark, and was filed November 12, 1844.

The tide of civilization gradually flowed westward from the Mississippi river. The regular chain of progress is clearly shown, and forms a portion of the history of Linn county. Young men pushed bravely ahead, claiming rights to unsurveyed lands, expecting in a short time a rise in values and big money in their holdings. Many of these men were single and never intended to make this, or any other community, their permanent home. All they wanted was to pick out the best claims, erect shacks, hold them down until men with families came, who had a little money and were willing to pay so as to get a home at once. Many of these young venturesome spirits frequently in six months or a year would pick up from $500.00 to a couple of thousand for a claim, depending somewhat upon the improvements made. At times these squatters would erect fairly good log houses and stables, and dig a well or two, and would also put in a little garden stuff—potatoes and the like—so as to keep the family partly, at least, over winter. Crops and all improvements would go with the bargain. Many of these men drifted farther westward and undoubtedly lived nearly all their lives on what might be known as the border land of civilization. They preferred this kind of life, and whenever a community was settled up it lost all interest for the original pioneer; he wanted and preferred to live among frontier ruffians; would fight if he had to, and would always defend himself against any intruder. These men enjoyed this kind of a life and thrived upon it, and all they cared for was a little money, good times, and the freedom they so much craved and which the frontier afforded.

"While it is true that those who located in this county in the years 1837 and 1838 came from the east, it is also certain that this section would not have been reached so early in this century had the lands immediately west of the Mississippi been unselected. It was, and still is, the desire of genuine pioneers to find a spot beyond the confines of civilization, no matter how crude the outlying stations may be."

The first settlement of whites in Iowa had been at Dubuque, where Dubuque and his followers worked the mines at that place. This at one time was a great center of attraction, but as the government restricted settlers from coming in, they were driven back until treaty arrangements were made with the Indians, who were the owners of the land upon which the mines were located. These men who first came as miners early saw the exceeding beauty and fertility of the Iowa lands, and thus news was spread among the people of the east before the Iowa lands were thrown open for settlement. Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois were by this time pretty much settled up, and so was Missouri and nearly all the land adjoining the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Thus it was that as soon as the word came from the government that part of Iowa was thrown open to settlement adventurous men and brave women soon began to cross the Mississippi and to settle in various parts of what was then so well known as the Black Hawk land. There were no roads in those days, not even trails, and consequently a person did not dare to venture out on the prairie, but he generally followed some stream so that he could find his way back to the starting place, at least.

[Pg 44]

Most of the people who came west to settle had no idea of where to locate or of the condition of the Iowa lands. They were bold, fearless, and determined, as well as resolute, and they pushed on until they found a locality which suited their fancy and here they pitched their tents and lived in their wagons until suitable log cabins were erected.

Prior to 1829 there was not even a ferry established at any regular point on which to cross the river into Iowa; even the miner, Dubuque, when he wanted to re-cross to the Illinois side had to borrow an Indian canoe. The familiar Du Bois, who came early into Illinois in Joe Davies county, trading with the Indians, had no other means of crossing the river than in Indian canoes. By the latter part of 1829 one John Barrel was commissioned to maintain a ferry at Rock Island, which at that time was within the confines of Joe Davies county, which extended for miles and miles along the river, like Dubuque county on the west side of the river. Col. George Davenport also obtained a permit to run a ferry from Davenport across the river, the ferry charges being fixed by the commissioners so that there could be no hold-up. The following charges were made, which must have been pretty high for the people of small means in those days:

Man and horse$25.00
Horses or cattle, per head, other than cattle yoke.37˝
Road wagon1.00
For each horse hitched to said wagon.25
Each two-horse wagon.75
Each two-wheeled carriage or cart1.00
One-horse wagon.75
Each hundred weight of mdse., etc..06

To avoid paying this ferry charge a great many of the settlers started early in the spring and would cross the river on the ice and thus save this additional expense. William Abbe and his family, and many others who settled in Linn county, at least those who were familiar with the ferry charges, crossed on the ice.

George Davenport established a trading post as early as 1831 at the mouth of Rock creek, and another on the east side of Cedar river just above Rochester a short time later. Thus, gradually, there extended a system of small stores in the bayous, creeks, and rivers where trading was carried on mainly with the Indians. The settlers who came generally followed these trails and would be helped and advised where to go and where to find the best roads, and also as to whether or not the Indians in the immediate vicinity of the stores were hostile or friendly.

Block houses had also been erected near these frontier stores for protection in case of Indian outbreaks.

Another trading point was that of Rockingham which was laid out as early as 1835, and in the early forties considered one of the best villages in the territory. It was to this place the early settlers came up to 1841-42 to trade, as well as to Muscatine and Davenport.

The settlers who came late during the summer of 1838-39 were unfortunate in case they were unable to get enough hay for their stock, for the winters were very cold and there were no provisions or food to be purchased, and many a family along the Cedar river in Linn and Cedar counties during these years endured some severe trials. Money was scarce, provisions of all kinds high, and no trading posts nearer than those at Davenport, Muscatine, and Rockingham. It is said that Robert Ellis and Philip Hull came to William Abbe's on their way to Muscatine to get provisions in the fall of 1838. William Abbe gave them $15.00—all the money he had—and with tears in his eyes told them to buy what they could, for that he did not know what would become of his wife and children when that was gone, for it was all the money he had in the world. They were absent about two weeks, and brought back as much provisions as they could buy with what money they had, and by hunting during the winter they got along and helped William Abbe. In the forties William Abbe secured government contracts, and then became a well-to-do man. Robert Ellis was a partner with Abbe many times in supplying the outposts with provisions.


[Pg 45]

Many families during the latter thirties and the early forties experienced some hard times in Iowa. To make the situation and surroundings still more difficult the creeks and sloughs between the settlements were treacherous quagmires in which wagons going for or returning with provisions were sure to settle in up to the hubs, and when once in the mud there was no way to get them out except by unloading or by going to the nearest store for help, which would be many miles away. Sometimes the assistance of two or three additional yoke of oxen was secured to pull out the wagon.

The winters of 1837-38-39 and 40 began early, snow falling to the extent of a foot or two as early as the latter part of October, and it increased as the winter advanced. There was no thaw in January, and the settlers were completely shut in until about the middle of April. Then the snow all melted away and the streams were swollen so as to be impassable. Thus it was impossible to get to any place for food or for provisions until way into the summer. Consequently the settlers experienced many hardships, and much of the stock died from sheer starvation. As early as possible in the spring the settlers would unite and start off for Muscatine, Dubuque, or Rockingham for provisions, and on their return would help the needy settlers who had no opportunity to get away. Sometimes these journeys were undertaken on foot, when two or three would start off with knapsacks to get the necessary foods and medicines, and would return as soon as possible.

It is wonderful what the old settlers endured—how they walked a distance of 100 miles in less than two days. Robert Ellis walked from Michigan to Iowa; he walked to Dubuque, Muscatine, Davenport, and Burlington many times, while it is said of William Abbe that he walked easily 60 miles a day without being very much exhausted. Then, again, when roads were impassable for wheeled vehicles they would ride horseback, leading sometimes one horse to be used as a pack horse to bring back provisions.

To show with how much difficulty the early settlers toiled to get a foothold in Linn county, it might be well to state the story of the life of Edward M. Crow, who, as a young man, in 1837 came into the county to a place near where is now located Viola. He was only 21 years of age, and came west from Chicago, having previously come from Indiana. He stopped first in Illinois and having heard of Iowa, came here in search of cheap land. He was accompanied by James Dawson and James Gillilan, the latter owning a team of horses. They constructed ferry boats of their own on which to cross the river. The other two parties got tired and left. Crow later found Dawson in Illinois. They travelled over much of Iowa, back and forth, mostly on foot; sometimes together, sometimes setting out in different directions alone. Finally, both Dawson and Crow united in Jones county, staking out a claim in Linn county in July, 1837. Returning to Fox river, Illinois, again in quest of provisions, they did not come back to Linn county until in August of that year, when Ed and Garrison Crow and James Dawson began their settlement, erected a cabin and cut some hay for the winter. They were without food, and had to make another trip to the borders of civilization for provisions for the winter. The monotonous months of winter rolled by, Crow's party subsisting by hunting as best they could.

A number of settlers came into Brown township during the early years, such as Jacob Mann, David Mann, his brother, William P. Earle, Asa Farnsworth, and many others. John Crow, father of Ed Crow, John Lynn, O. Bennett, Charles Pickney, Benj. Simmons, Solomon Peckham, and Alexander Rhotan were emigrants who settled here in 1838. All those who came that year and have been[Pg 46] definitely corroborated, or who were there as real settlers, were the following: Samuel C. Stewart, Peter McRoberts, John Afferty, William Abbe, Israel Mitchell, Will Gilbert, J. G. Cole, Hiram Thomas, Joseph Carraway, Jacob Leabo, John Henry, J. Wilbert Stone, Osgood Shepherd, wife, father and several children, Robert Ellis, O. S. Bolling, Mr. Ashmore, W. K. Farnsworth, Robert Osborn, Thomas Campbell, Perry Oxley, Will Vineyard, James Hunter, J. J. Gibson, Robert Deem, Michael Donahoo, William Chamberlain, Mr. Williams, Mr. Evans, J. B. Sargent, John Sargent, A. J. McKean, John Scott, H. W. Gray, S. H. Tryon, Anson Coles, Andrew Safely, Rev. Christian Troup, D. S. Hahn, Hiram Bales, Asher Edgerton, Peter Roland, John Stewart, J. E. Boyd, Philip Hull, John Young, Mr. Granger, L. H. Powell, John McCloud, Mr. Kemp, Listebarger brothers, and many others.

The Hoosier Grove settlement was made in 1838, being in Putnam township; Isaac and Abner Cox and John Holler, and several others, settled here that year.

During the year 1839 Otter Creek was settled by Stevens, Michael Greene, Bart McGonigle, Henry Nelson, William Chamberlain, Dr. J. Cummings, Will Sullivan and Perry Oliphant.

Dyer Usher and Joel Howard ferried people across the Mississippi near Muscatine in the summer of 1839. These men died near Covington a few years ago. Usher always claimed that he was on the site of Cedar Rapids as early as 1836 and located west of the river two years later. The young men could make no money in a new country, and while they took claims they frequently left for civilization to earn a little money. So it might have been that Usher was a bona fide resident of Linn county, while he could get no employment nearer than Muscatine.

A number of persons settled early around Cedar Rapids in the timber a few miles from town. William Knowles located on what is known as Mound Farm in 1839 and gave this up to the Brodie family, consisting of parents, five sons and three daughters. The names of the sons were Hugh, John, William, Steven, and Jesse. Rev George R. Carroll speaks of the family as having an unsavory reputation. The family removed further north when some of them at least were accused of being notorious horse thieves.

Joel Leverich next became the owner of Mound Farm, a person who had somewhat of a history in the early days of politics in the county. In 1843-44 this property was purchased by George Greene.

A number of people lived along the trail between Marion and Cedar Rapids. Among those well known not already mentioned may be named Ambrose Harlan, Dave Woodbridge, J. E. Bromwell, J. P. Glass, Rufus Lucore, John and Will Hunter, Thomas Hare, Will Willis, and many others.

We quote the following from directories and gazeteers published years ago. These statements may not be correct in some details, but the facts were obtained from some who were doubtless familiar with them.

Thus Wolfe in his Cedar Rapids and Kingston directory of 1869 speaks of John Mann, of Pine Grove, as the first settler in Linn county, he coming in 1838, and of the first marriage in the county as that of Sarah Haines to Richard Osborne, in 1839, and the first death as that of Mrs. Haines, an elderly lady who died from an accident in July, 1838.

He further speaks of the first store in Westport as that of Albert [should be John] Henry in 1838. It is thought that Stone also carried on some store or trade with the Indians before this. He speaks of the second store as being operated by W. H. Merritt in 1839. This should be 1838, as is seen from Merritt's letter to S. W. Durham, found in another portion of this volume.

The first claim of land in Cedar Rapids was made by William Stone, in 1838, who built a cabin on the banks of the river on Commercial street, now First street. Is this the Shepherd cabin, and was this so-called first tavern erected[Pg 47] and occupied by Stone, who later was compelled to vacate it and give up his claim? Mr. Wolfe also speaks of the first saw and grist mill built by Brown in 1842, the second flour mill built by Alex Ely in 1845, and the first woolen factory erected by Brown in 1845. Miss Legare built a saw mill in 1851.

As late as 1869 Wolfe speaks of eight flour and saw mills being operated in and around Cedar Rapids. He speaks further of two woolen factories and the steam bakery of I. H. Shaver & Co., and of the Fish paper mill, manufacturing 300 tons of paper annually. The directory speaks of the American Express Company having an office here as early as 1859, with W. B. Mack as the first local agent.

The editor also mentions that the learned professions were represented by ten clergymen, thirteen doctors, and about fifteen lawyers.

He also mentions J. Bell's stage line running daily between Iowa City, Solon, Western, and Cedar Rapids, and also of a line to Vinton.

The following as seen by a traveller may be of interest. It is from A Glimpse of Iowa in 1846, by J. B. Newhall, Burlington, Iowa, W. D. Skillman, publisher, 1846:

"Linn county has become proverbial for the excellence of its soil, its salubrity of climate, abundance and admirable adaption of woodlands to the wants and convenience of the settler. The prairies are remarkably fertile, and of moderate extent; the timber equally and amply apportioned, generally of full growth, consisting, principally, of red and white oak, black and white walnut, linn, sugar, maple, etc. Linn county is famous for its extensive sugar orchards, from some of which 500 to 1,000 weight have been annually made. It is well watered by the Red Cedar and its tributaries, affording abundance of mill power, much of which is already improved.

"Marion, the seat of justice, is located near the center of the county, about four miles east of the Cedar, at the edge of a beautiful grove, on a gentle prairie roll. It contains several stores, a commodious hotel, postoffice, various mechanical establishments, and is a place of considerable importance."

The modern traveler speaks of broad meadows, of rich corn fields, and of large manufacturing interests. This traveler of sixty-five years ago speaks of timber which has disappeared and of maple sugar orchards which makes us wonder what they were like.

From Bailey & Hair's Iowa State Gazetteer, 1865, we gather these facts:

"The county of Linn is so named in honor of a distinguished senator of the United States, the Hon. Louis F. Linn, of Missouri. It is situated centrally in the eastern half of the state, and from fifty to sixty miles west of the Mississippi river.

"It was defined by act of the Territorial Legislature of Wisconsin, at its session of 1837 and '38; that Territory then including the whole of Iowa within its jurisdiction. The county limits were the same as they now remain, consisting of twenty Congressional townships, containing an area of 720 square miles. It is bounded on the north by Buchanan and Delaware counties, east by Jones and Cedar, south by Johnson and west by Benton. It is now divided into nineteen civil townships, as follows: Bertram, Boulder, Brown, Buffalo, Clinton, College, Fairfax, Franklin, Fayette, Jackson, Linn, Marion, Maine, Monroe, Otter Creek, Putnam, Rapids, Spring Grove, and Washington.

"The county was duly organized by the Board of County Commissioners at their first session held September 9th, 1839, at the farm house of Mr. James W. Willis, one-half mile north of the present town of Marion. The board consisted of Samuel C. Stewart, President, Peter McRoberts, and Luman M. Strong, Commissioners; Hosea W. Gray, Sheriff; and John C. Berry, Clerk.

[Pg 48]

"This Board also approved the selection of the county seat, which they ordered to be called Marion; divided the county into election and road districts; and appointed Andrew J. McKean and William H. Smith, Constables. Of the officers and persons above named, but two, Messrs. Gray and McKean, remain residents of the county, the latter being the present Clerk of the District Court.

"The first white settler in this county was John Mann, who erected his cabin on Upper Big Creek, in Linn Grove, in the month of February, A. D., 1838. He was an emigrant from the mountainous region of southwestern Pennsylvania. He was an honest, industrious, unlettered, rude sort of man. Subsequently he built a small flouring mill. A great flood in the spring of 1851 carried away his mill and himself together. The unfortunate man was drowned, and his body recovered only after several days had elapsed. The flood was unprecedented, and was thought to have been caused by a water spout. The Little Creek is said to have risen twenty feet in about as many minutes.

"The next permanent settler was John Crow, a North Carolinian, who made his home near the east line of the county on the Wapsipinicon river, in April, 1838. He was a very gentlemanly person, of more than ordinary intelligence, wealth and enterprise. He died about five years afterwards, much respected. His son, Edward Crow, Esq., now a member of the Board of Supervisors of this County, and other descendants remain. During the summer of 1838 the settlements gradually extended in the east part of the county. The only persons now recollected, of that early period, as remaining, are John Gibson, of Mount Vernon, and Andrew J. McKean, and Hosea W. Gray, of Marion. The first family west of Big Creek was that of Jacob Leabo, from Kentucky. The first west of Indian Creek was that of James W. Bassett, from Vermont. The first Justice of the Peace was John McAfferty, commissioned in 1838. The first Judge of Probate was Israel Mitchell, a Tennesseean, now residing in Oregon. The first Sheriff was Hosea W. Gray. The first Clerk of the District Court was Joseph Williams, a Pennsylvanian: now said to be in the military service at Memphis, Tennessee.

"The first officiating minister was the Rev. Christian Troup, a German Lutheran, who preached regularly in his own cabin near the mouth of Spring Creek every Sunday during the latter part of the summer of 1838. The first marriage was that of Richard Osborn and Sarah Haines, in the spring of 1839. The first birth was that of a daughter of Mrs. Samuel McCartney, in July, 1838. The first death was that of Mrs. Haines, an invalid elderly lady, who died from the effects of an accidental fall in July, 1838. The second was that of James Logan, an Irishman, who was killed by the caving in of a well which he was excavating in Marion, July, 1840.

"The first selected town site was called Westport, of which Israel Mitchell was proprietor. It was near the present site of the village of Bertram, and was selected in July, 1838. This was afterwards abandoned. The next in order of time, was called Columbus, built by William Stone, in September, 1838. He abandoned his town the next spring, there being only a single log cabin. The site was that occupied by the present city of Cedar Rapids. The next was Ivanhoe, by Anson Cowles, in October, 1838, since vacated. The fourth was Marion, the present county seat, in April, 1839.

"The first election was held at Westport in October, 1838, that being the only poll opened for the county. The only candidates were for members of the Assembly; thirty-two votes were cast. The first member of the General Assembly elected from this county was the Hon. George Greene, member of the Legislative Council, elected in 1840. The first store opened was at Westport, by Albert [John] Henry, in the fall of 1838. The second at Ivanhoe, in the spring of 1839, by Col. William H. Merritt.





[Pg 49]

"The first celebration was on the 4th of July, 1839, at Westport, Judge Mitchell, Orator. There was a dinner, toasts, and a ball, whereof William H. Smith, Andrew J. McKean and H. W. Gray, were managers.

"The fifth decennial census of the United States was taken in 1840, in this county, by H. W. Gray, Deputy Marshal. The population was 1,342. The influx of settlers for the next three years was quite rapid, during which time the population reached probably three thousand. The largest proportion of the emigration was of Southern origin. The early settlers were plain, honest, hospitable people, not much accustomed to legal restraints, and rather impatient of the slow process and technicalities of the law. As usual, in all new countries, they were annoyed by vagabonds, who flocked into the settlements, calculating on impunity in their depredations, on account of the inefficiency of the police regulations. A rude justice was not unfrequently meted out to offenders without recourse to legal forms, or the intervention of courts.

"In common with all frontier settlements, the first settlers here were poor; they were obliged to transport their produce in wagons mostly, to the Mississippi River, at points sixty or seventy miles distant. When reached at such disadvantage the markets were very low, consequently the accretions of wealth were slow, and were mainly invested in the homestead of the farmer. The discovery of gold in California with the resulting emigration, opened a good market for the farmers at home. Afterwards, eastern emigration, with the building of railroads, connecting the people with eastern markets, greatly accelerated the prosperity of this county as well as all other parts of the west. The financial crisis of 1857 interposed a check to this onward career of prosperity. It was but temporary, however, and the people had fully regained their former standing when the rebellion commenced.

"It is felt that a county which contributed one general, and fifteen field officers, with more than two thousand volunteers in defense of the Union, without draft or conscription, and without seriously lessening its productive energies, has an assured basis of future greatness and prosperity. A basis which nothing short of the entire upheaval and destruction of the foundations of human society shall be able to disturb."

In Guide, Gazetteer and Directory of the Dubuque & Sioux City Railroad, Dubuque, Bailey & Wolfe, 1868, we read of Cedar Rapids:

"The first settlement here was made in the year 1838 by William Stone, who erected a log cabin on the bank of the river in the rear of No. 1 North Commercial street. The same year Osgood Shepherd, a supposed leader of a band of outlaws, jumped Stone's claim and took possession of the cabin, and held it until the year 1841, when he sold three-fourths of his interest to N. B. Brown and George Greene, H. W. Gray, A. L. Roach, and S. H. Tryon, for the sum of $3,000.

"In 1842 he sold the remainder and soon after disappeared from the country. N. B. Brown came here in 1840, when Mr. Brown and Judge George Greene became proprietors of the water power.

"In 1841 the town was laid out and named from the rapids in the river. The first frame dwelling was erected by John Vardy and is still standing at 62 Brown street, corner of South Adams. The building known as the Old Postoffice Building, North Washington street, was built for a store by N. B. Brown, the same year. P. W. Earle's residence, 29 Iowa Avenue, was the first brick building, and was erected by Mr. Earle in 1849. Wm. Dwyer built the first hotel in 1847. This was destroyed by fire in January, 1865.

"The work of constructing a dam across the river, was commenced by N. B. Brown, July 4th, 1842, though much of the material had been prepared prior to that date. Mr. Brown commenced the erection of a saw mill, and also of a grist[Pg 50] mill the same year, and both were completed the year following. A second saw mill was built in 1851.

"The second flouring mill was built by Alexander Ely in 1844-5. The first woolen factory was also built by N. B. Brown in 1847. In 1855 a city charter was obtained, and at the first charter election, Isaac N. Whittam was elected Mayor. Railroad communication with the Mississippi was opened in 1859, from which time the growth of the city in wealth and population has been rapid and constant.

"A superior water power has attracted a large interest in manufactures of various kinds. As early as 1840 one of the first settlers determined to apply his energies to the improvement of the water power, and soon after a dam was thrown across the river, a saw mill built, and other improvements followed, till now there are located here five flouring and custom mills, one saw mill, one paper mill, two woolen mills, and one fanning mill and separator manufactory."

[Pg 51]


William Abbe, the First Settler in the County

William Abbe, we believe, was the first white settler to locate a claim within the boundaries of Linn county. He came as early as the summer of 1836, from near Elyria, Lorain county, Ohio, seeking a location, coming via Rock Island. He followed the Red Cedar river as far as the present site of Mount Vernon, where he staked out a claim adjoining a little creek, which to this day goes by the name of "Abbe's Creek." He returned to his home in Ohio and in the winter of 1837 he again crossed the Mississippi with his family on the ice as early as February of that year, according to his daughter's statement, and in April reached the location he had selected the previous year on Abbe's creek. Here he erected one of the first cabins in the county, being about 12×14 feet square, and covered with birch bark, having no floor. In this little cabin the family lived all summer. In the fall he erected a large double log house with three large rooms and an upstairs which was reached by a ladder from within. On this creek the family lived for five years where Mr. Abbe owned four hundred acres. He disposed of this farm and removed a short distance south of Marion where he purchased another farm where he lived till he removed to Marion.

William Abbe was born in Connecticut April 19, 1800, being of English descent. When a young boy he removed to the state of New York. He was married to Olive Greene in 1824 and by her had four children: Lucy, Lois, Andrew, and Susan. Lois Abbe died young, Lucy Abbe died many years ago, Andrew Abbe passed away at San Juan, California, in 1902, and Susan Abbe-Shields now resides at Hollister, California.

William Abbe brought his wife and children to Linn county in 1837; his wife died in 1839 and was buried in a cemetery located near the farm on which he settled, about two miles northwest of Mount Vernon. He married a second time on September 13, 1840, his wife being Mary Wolcott, also from Ohio, and by her he had two sons, born at Marion: Augustus Wolcott Abbe and William Alden Abbe. William Alden Abbe died several years ago; his widow and one child, a daughter, reside in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Augustus Wolcott Abbe, an old soldier, resides in Toledo, Iowa, and has a family of eight children.

Mrs. Susan Shields was born in 1830 and was about seven years of age when she came to Linn county. She was married to John Harman March 16, 1848, who died shortly afterwards, and she later married John Shields, a resident of Vinton, Iowa. In an interesting letter on early Linn county days she writes as follows:

"There were no white people for a long time after we landed in Linn county; when they did come my mother used to let them come and stay there until they would find a place to suit them; it was always a free home for the immigrants. When we first went there I was but a child seven years old. The men I remember most were Robert Ellis, one of our first acquaintances, and Asher Edgerton, the former being with us a long time when the country was new. Of course we had men come in, such as horse thieves, and my father had some of them chained up in one of our rooms for safe keeping until they could be tried, as there was no jail for some time in Linn county.

"I went with my father to Marion, a little place then with one or two houses and a jail. We carried an iron trap door for the jail; it was in two rooms, one[Pg 52] upstairs and one downstairs. There were two men in the dungeon at the time; we took the door for this jail. My father was a justice of the peace for awhile; he was also a member of the state legislature when the capital was located at Iowa City. Later father sold our place on Abbe's Creek and purchased another on the old Marion road, of about three hundred acres, further north; there was a lovely creek, a grove of maple trees was on one side and a boundless prairie on the other side. The Indians used to come in the spring of the year to camp and make sugar; I have seen as many as five or six hundred at a time camped near our house in the timber; they always made it a camping ground at our place and they seemed to be very fond of my father, who was kind to them and who spoke and understood the Winnebago language.

"I remember well the first time I went to Cedar Rapids with my father; this was in the early '40s; there were five hundred Winnebago Indians camped there at the time. I had played with the Indians so much that I could talk the Indian language as well as themselves, so they had me to talk for them. There were only one or two white settlers there at the time. By the way, I was the first school teacher they had in Cedar Rapids; I think it was about in 1846; I still have the certificate issued to me by Alexander Ely, who was superintendent at the time. After residing on this place a short time my father disposed of his farm and removed to Marion; he also lived for some time at Dubuque where he held a government position in the Land Office, I think. The breaking out of the gold fever in 1849 caused him to get excited and he left for California, leaving the family at Marion.

"My father was a born pioneer; although born in Connecticut he went to New York when the country was new, and then to Ohio, and later came to Iowa. In California he never mined gold, but teamed and speculated; he was there about two years, returning to Iowa in 1851, remaining in Iowa only a short time when he returned to California with his son, Andrew. My father died in Sacramento, California, February 15, 1854, when about to go to Iowa to bring his family to California, and he is buried in Sacramento."

This interesting letter from a real Linn county pioneer more than seventy years of age gives only an idea of the hardships of pioneer life, and what this woman has endured as a daughter and wife of the first settlers.

William Abbe's widow, Mary Wolcott, continued to reside in Marion with her family until August 27, 1861, when she died, universally respected by all who knew her.

Mr. Abbe was an old time democrat and as such was in the state senate session, having the honor to appoint Robert Ellis postmaster of the senate, as a reward of friendship and good will. Mr. Abbe also was a justice of the peace for some time, was appointed commissioner to locate state roads, had the contract for the erection of the first jail at Marion, and was otherwise a very useful citizen. He was also master of the first Masonic lodge at Marion, and one of the best known and best educated men in Linn county up to the time of his removal to California. For a number of years Mr. Abbe was the only person in the county having ready money, loaning the same to his friends for the purchase of their claims. He held government contracts for the delivery of meat and provisions to the Winnebago agency at Fort Atkinson and to the troops at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and at other places, and thus was acquainted with many of the military officers in the Black Hawk war and with the Indian chiefs and braves of the Winnebago tribe, as well as the Sac and Fox Indians. It is said that William Abbe conversed freely with the Winnebago Indians, and frequently acted as an interpreter when matters of importance came up between members of the tribe and the white settlers; he was always a friend and protector of the Indians and frequently helped them in securing their just rights when they had been robbed by the white free-booters, hunters and trappers.


[Pg 53]

William Abbe was a kind and generous man, and his home was always open to the people who came into Linn county at an early day to seek homes. It is also said that Mrs. Abbe was an excellent cook and many of the old surveyors would ride several miles out of their way to get a meal at the Abbe homestead, for the latch string of the Abbe home was always out.

Mr. Abbe rode horseback a great deal and would be gone for weeks at a time, and while he was away the family lived quietly at home awaiting for days for his return when provisions were frequently scarce and when the snow drifts generally were large. During the first two seasons there were very few crops grown, and consequently the father was kept busy earning a livelihood, the family subsisting mostly on the chase. He traded provisions with the Indians, at times bringing home large quantities of honey which was used as sugar in sweetening black coffee as well as in place of butter on the hard johnny cake.

His son, Augustus Abbe, born on Abbe's creek in 1841, later a member of the 9th Iowa Infantry, now a retired farmer residing at Toledo, Iowa, tells the following of his father's life and history:

"There was not a time in my life when I do not remember the Indian children. I played with them constantly. Those were my only playmates in the early days. I learned a little of the Winnebago language, and got along very well. My half sister, Susan, spoke it fluently, as well as my father. I remember when I was about five or six years old a number of Indians were gathered in our house and I climbed a post, sitting on the same to watch the redskins race their horses. One of the chiefs, one that had the most gaudy clothing on, rode by very fast and picked me off the post and put me in front on his saddle, going at full gallop; he rode a long ways down through the prairie and my mother expressed much anxiety, but my father came out and stood there and watched for me to return. After awhile the Indian came back and put me safely down in front of the house, to my mother's joy—I, all the time laughing, thinking that I had had a good time. The Indian said to my father, 'papoose no 'fraid.' That pony ride I shall remember as long as I live.

"I also remember my father going away for two or three weeks at a time, and my mother fixing up his lunch for the journey. He had a pair of saddle bags filled with papers and other articles. I still remember when he put on moccasins, overshoes, and a buffalo overcoat of some kind; he would bundle up securely, kiss us good-bye and start off across the prairie at full speed. Many a time I cried, as I wanted to go along, but on these long journeys I was refused this pleasure for my father would not neglect business even for the sake of pleasing his son whom he loved dearly.

"I also remember Robert Ellis, the Ashertons, Willitts, Clarks, and many others who came to our house and talked way into the night about trips they had taken over the wide prairies of Iowa. Our cabin was full of people most of the time; they would come in late in the night and in the morning, much to my surprise, I would find a number of people at breakfast, I not knowing when they came during the night. I never knew or heard of my mother making any charge for keeping anyone over night, whether they were strangers or acquaintances, whether they were poor or rich made no difference; whatever she had she would divide with a traveller or other stranger who came to her hospitable home.

"I do not know that my mother understood much of the Indian language, but she was kind to them and the squaws used to sit on our door steps more than once. She gave them food that she had prepared, sweetened with honey which they liked very much.

[Pg 54]

"I remember going to Marion with my father many times when it was a very small village with a jail which my father always pointed out as having built. He also taught me that I must do right or else I might have to stay in that jail or some other jail if I did not. These lessons were certainly deeply impressed on me for life. I remember, also, when we removed from Marion to Dubuque. I think that was in 1847, and we remained there for some time, but I think less than a year, when we removed back to Marion. My father held a government position there in the land office, I think.

"My two uncles, Charles and Eliezar Abbe, resided in Ohio, one later removing to Michigan. The latter visited my father frequently. He was related, also, on his wife's side, to Ed Clark, an early settler in Linn county. These men were much taken up with the country and we had hoped that they would come here to locate, but they did not.

"I also, with my father, visited Cedar Rapids many times, and I do not believe I was more than five or six years of age, hardly that, when I first saw Cedar Rapids, where I was much interested in the dam and the mills. The town then consisted of a few log houses along the east bank of the river. The remainder of the town was a mass of sand burrs, weeds, and timber, and along Cedar Lake and along the river large numbers of Indians were camped, especially up along the Cedar Lake and along what is now known as McCloud's Springs. In this locality several hundred Indians would camp in the winter and spring of the year, trapping, hunting, and trading skins with the whites for red clothing, guns, and ammunition. They would hang around the flour mills during the day time where there were always a lot of people gathered.

"My mother was a member of the Lutheran church, which church she now and then attended, but there were not many churches in that day. My father was not a church member.

"I remember my sister, Susan, teaching one of the first schools in Cedar Rapids, much to the satisfaction of the members of our family. In politics my father was a stanch democrat and an admirer of Andrew Jackson. He also became acquainted with most of the officers who remained in the west after the close of the Black Hawk war, on account of his government employment in which he was engaged. He was also personally acquainted with the persons who had charge of the Winnebago school, as well as those in charge of Fort Atkinson. Nearly all the people who rode horseback from Iowa City to Dubuque came by way of Mount Vernon, and would generally stop over night at our home. I remember my father and the strangers talking over politics until way into the night, and still remember many of these discussions as to the future of Iowa and as to the political aspirations of the various parties. My father took a lively interest in politics, as well as in the development of the west, and when it was settled up he had a longing for starting another pioneer settlement. He used to say when the land was pretty much taken that it was too close, he had to get away, as he wanted more room. By training and environment he was a true pioneer and full of enthusiasm for the upbuilding of a pioneer country.

"When he was away in California we were much interested in his letters and we all wanted to go. When our father returned we asked him all sorts of questions about the gold camps of the west, and what he had experienced, and we spent whole evenings listening to his conversations. He did not take us at that time, but wanted to seek out an ideal location and get settled before he took us out there. But the day never came, and we never saw him again when he left on his second trip to California in 1852. All that we knew was that my mother received a letter from a Masonic order in Sacramento that the order had taken care of him in his sickness and had seen that he received a suitable burial. He was sick only a short time and none of his old friends was with him when he died. Robert Ellis came to Sacramento looking for his old neighbor and heard to his sorrow that[Pg 55] his friend had died only a week before. He came into Sacramento from the camps on the American river.

"After my father's death my mother resided in Marion with her family where she died August 27, 1861, at the age of fifty-eight years. As I felt downhearted at the time I joined the army and went to the front. November 29, 1865, I was joined in marriage to Cynthia Walker, daughter of an old Linn county pioneer.

"My father was also sheriff of Linn county. However, of this there does not seem to be any record, as I have been informed. He may have been appointed sheriff to fill a vacancy, or he may have been a deputy, I am not certain about that, but I know he was acting, at least, in the capacity of sheriff and caused the arrest of a number of horse thieves and other alleged criminals. My father was over six feet tall, straight as an arrow, rather slender, but very active, and I never saw a horse that he could not mount and ride at any time without the least effort.

"We used cattle for plowing, but generally kept also several horses, but these were used to drive and ride and not to work very much.

"I believe that among the early settlers of the '30s and '40s my father had the good will of all law-abiding citizens. He was affable to strangers and true as steel to his friends, and was universally respected."

William Abbe will be remembered as one of the most prominent of his day and generation in Linn county, for his kindness, his uprightness, his never wavering from the path of right. Whether amid the influences of the home circle or surrounded by the temptations of the mining camp, he was always the same sturdy, upright citizen, wanting to do right and helping his fellow men who were more unfortunate than himself.

One of his old and true friends, speaking of his long deceased friend, expressed words of deepest feeling which can be only expressed in the well known stanzas:

"Green be the turf above thee,
Friend of my better days,
None knew thee but to love thee,
None named thee but to praise."

While a great many are now of the opinion that William Abbe was the first actual settler within the confines of Linn county, a number are still of the opinion that Daniel Seward Hahn was the first settler. He came here, accompanied by his wife, Parmelia Epperson Hahn. John J. Daniels, an old settler in Linn county, and a son of Jeremiah Daniels, who came to Linn county in 1844, was pretty good authority on the subject of the early settlers. In a number of conversations had with him on this subject and from what he wrote for the Annals of Iowa, Vol. VI, p. 581, and for the Iowa Atlas, 1907, it is gathered that he was of the opinion that Daniel Hahn was the first actual settler, at least the members of the Hahn family, of whom there are a number still living in Linn and adjoining counties, claim that their ancestor, Daniel Hahn, should be awarded the honor. In the Annals of Iowa Mr. Daniels has the following:

"Daniel Hahn and his brother-in-law, Charles Moberly, came to Linn county in the spring of 1837, made a claim and built a cabin upon it, did some breaking, and in August removed with wife and five children from Mercer county, Illinois. At this time there was no house in Linn county to his knowledge."

This, Mr. Daniels says, was the statement made to him and others in the lifetime of Daniel Hahn.

This may be true, that in the early day very little, if any, social intercourse was had among the early settlers and no one paid any attention to time or place,[Pg 56] and it might be that Mr. Abbe, Mr. Hahn, and Mr. Crow might have settled at the same time, one never having known that the others had located here.

Quoting from Mr. Daniels's articles, the following might be stated:

"Edward M. Crow came to the county in July, 1837, in company with his brother, locating near Viola where they made a claim and erected a shanty; they remained there only a few days, returning to Fox river to obtain provisions, having decided to locate in the county. In the latter part of August Edward Crow and his brother and James Dawson began to work on their new possessions; about this time there came also two other pioneers by the name of Joslyn and Russell; they remained in the crude cabin during the winter and their time was spent mostly in hunting, tanning pelts and trading with the Indians. Their cabin was erected at the edge of what was known as the 'Big Woods' in Brown township."

Thus it would seem that William Abbe in point of time was the first actual white settler to locate a claim and later to settle on this claim with his family, within the confines of Linn county. True, hunters and trappers may have been here earlier, but no actual bona fide settler, as far as we have been able to ascertain. The testimony of Mrs. Susan Shields, a daughter still living, would seem to suffice as to the time when the great river was crossed and as to the time the family came to Linn county.

Honored Pioneer

[Pg 57]


The County Seat Contests—First Railroad in the County

The county seat of Linn county was established at Marion by a board of commissioners consisting of Lyman Dillon, Ben Nye, and Richard Knott. As the years rolled by the question arose as to the removal of the county seat to Cedar Rapids, where it seems that it was needed, being what was then known as the commercial metropolis of the county. The people of Marion insisted that that city was the center. While there was more or less feeling in the county over the county seat fight, the legislature of Iowa in 1850-51 created the office of county judge, which was designed to and did succeed the former legislative bodies of the several counties of the state. The judge had the same powers possessed by the board of supervisors which controlled the affairs of the county later. Among the rights and privileges peculiar to the office was that most important one of submitting to the people the question of raising money for the purpose of repairing and erecting buildings for the use of the county officers. (See Code of 1851.)

In 1855 James M. Berry was county judge, and a shrewd fellow he was. In pursuance of the law, and what he thought his duty, Judge Berry took steps to erect a jail and a fireproof building for the use of the county officers. These buildings were contracted for by a firm at Mt. Vernon, Ohio, in the spring of that year. Then the people arose in arms as to the high-handed methods of Judge Berry. Political questions were lost sight of in the court house struggle. Speakers were employed pro and con. Judge Berry's term of office expired January 1, 1856, and a successor was to be elected in August of 1855. Marion put up Judge Berry for re-election, while Cedar Rapids put up Rev. Elias Skinner, a well known Methodist preacher who had traveled about the county and who was well known by everyone as an aggressive fighter and a man who believed in what he did and would have things his way if possible. The canvass was in the aggregate with Judge Berry at 1,233 votes, while Skinner showed up with 993 votes, the judge being re-elected by a majority of 240 votes, thereby affirming by a referendum vote his policy.

Reverend Skinner is still living at Waterloo, and not long ago the writer had a conversation with him about this the most famous fight that has ever occurred in Linn county over the removal of the court house. Mr. Skinner just laughed and said he put up a good fight, but the other fellow had the votes.

In 1871 another court house fight was had, but the board held that because of many names of voters being on both petitions these petitions were defective.

In the spring of 1872 another petition was brought out for the re-location of the court house and an endless number of names were again filed pro and con. Much money was spent on both sides; again the Cedar Rapids faction was beaten, some preliminary steps were taken for an appeal but the appeal was stricken from the docket.

Another attempt was made by Cedar Rapids for a change of location of the court house a few years ago, and again the petitioners lost out, and that case has been pending on the court docket but no action has been taken, so that it has for the fourth time been lost, much to the surprise of the citizens of Cedar Rapids and to the satisfaction of the people of Marion and a large portion of the northern part of the county who have always stood out for Marion in the fights on the re-location of the county seat.

[Pg 58]


While it may have been charged at times that Iowa was slow in getting in touch with railway builders, it must be borne in mind that the first railroad to be built in the United States upon which a steam engine was used was constructed in 1829; but very little was done until about 1833-34. By 1835 there were not over 100 miles of road in active operation within the confines of the entire country. Up to 1841 not a mile of track had been laid in any of the following states: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan. By the end of 1848 there were only twenty-two miles of tracks laid in Illinois, eighty-six in Indiana, and none in Wisconsin or Missouri.

Traffic so far had been exclusively by river, lake, canal, or in wagons. Much money had been expended in opening up rivers for steamboat traffic and more or less had been voted to build roads and dig canals. But over such a large stretch of country it was impossible for the nation to do much.

As early as 1837 many citizens of Iowa and others began to agitate for a transcontinental line of railroad to run from the Atlantic states to the Pacific, and for a grant of land by congress for this purpose. Asa Whitney, of New York, an able and public spirited man, had written much in the papers proposing such a project. There was of course at that time more or less speculation as to just where such proposed railroad might pass. The southern senators proposed a road through St. Louis and across Missouri to Kansas. There was a spirit of rivalry at this time. When Chicago began to get its growth the far-sighted people of that city saw that it would be in the interests of Chicago to have the line go directly west and through Iowa, and thus cut out a dangerous rival.

The Chicago press henceforth always favored a direct route through Iowa. As early as 1838 G. W. Jones, then delegate in congress from Wisconsin, secured an appropriation of $10,000, which was expended in making a survey from Lake Michigan through southern Wisconsin.

Now the people of Iowa became active. They wanted a railroad from the lakes west, and this could only be secured by public or state aid. The legislature of 1844 joined in a petition to congress asking a grant of public land to the Territory of Iowa to aid in the construction of a railroad from Dubuque to Keokuk. The grant was to consist of alternate sections extending five miles in width on each of the proposed roads or its equivalent in adjacent government lands.

During the winter of 1844-45 a convention was held at Iowa City where nearly all the counties of the territory were represented by wide-awake young men in the interest of this railway promotion. Several proposed lines were agitated and as some of these lines did not start at any place and went to no place many of these projects failed.

The first grant of public lands in Iowa for transportation was not for railroads but for improving navigation on the Des Moines river. It was made in 1846. Strong then was the prejudice against railway promotion, and little faith did the public men in congress put in this so-called wild speculation.

The people of Iowa were so enthusiastic in the way of railway building and in the promotion of enterprises that they even ignored old political standards. It would appear that when the subject of the training of the candidates was looked into it, it depended more on what use such person would be for the work of getting a railway grant than how he would vote on the tariff or on the rights of South Carolina.

The following letter, written May 28, 1848, by W. H. Merritt to S. W. Durham, an old friend and fellow democrat, shows plainly the attitude of one of the leading men of the party, then living at Dubuque, but who had formerly resided at Ivanhoe and hence was one of the early men in Linn county. He mentions Preston (Colonel Isaac Preston), and gives his reasons for not wanting him. The[Pg 59] Leffingwell mentioned was the well-known W. E. Leffingwell, who formerly resided at Muscatine, then Bloomington, and later removed to Clinton county. He was an eloquent lawyer and a popular man. He was later defeated by William Smyth for congress in this district. Bates and Folsom were both prominent Iowa City men, and well known in political circles for many years. Judge Grant was the noted jurist of Davenport, and was a well-known railroad promoter who had much influence in early years in Iowa.

In this letter Mr. Merritt suggests George Greene as a candidate from Linn county. There is no doubt that if at this time Mr. Greene had been selected, he would have carried the district and made an enviable record as a statesman, and no doubt on account of his judgment and his keenness in business, he would have obtained from congress such favors as would have amounted to much good for Iowa in the first stages of her statehood. The letter does not show whether or not Mr. Greene had consented or would consent to such a course, although it has been stated that he most likely would have consented to have made the canvass. For congress the whigs nominated this year, 1848, D. F. Miller for the first district and Tim Davis for the second district. The democrats nominated for the first district William Thompson, and for the second district Shepherd Leffler. The whigs were strong, the total vote for president at the November elections being, Cass, democrat, 12,093; Taylor, whig, 11,144; Van Buren, free soiler, 1,126.

Leffler was elected, and Miller on a close vote contested the election of Thompson before congress. The committee on elections declared the seat vacant. Leffler, who was elected after an exciting canvass, was a native of Pennsylvania, who came to Iowa Territory in 1835. He sat in the first constitutional convention in 1844, and two years later was elected to congress by the state at large, and hence in 1848 he had the inside track. In 1856 he was again a candidate but was defeated by Tim Davis, his old whig opponent of 1848. In 1875 he was a candidate for governor against S. J. Kirkwood, and was defeated. He died at Burlington in 1879. He had been one of the trusted leaders of his party for many years.

The letters from W. H. Merritt and George Greene show what interest these men had in the railroad enterprise.


Dubuque, May 28, 1848.

"Strictly confidential.
"Friend Durham:

"Having retired from the editorial tripod I find more time to devote to my friends in the reflective and agreeable exercise of correspondence than formerly. Since my second return to Iowa it would have been highly gratifying to my feelings had I been so situated in business as to have employed a portion of my time in personal communication with my friends, in viewing scenes connected with the early settlement of Iowa, and in witnessing the numerous monuments reared to attest the prevailing, the restless and resistless enterprise of the Anglo-American. In 1838, when I first pitched my tent at Ivanhoe, Linn county had but few white inhabitants, possessed but few attractions for one accustomed to the society of one of the old Federal colonies, and was entirely destitute of political or judicial organization. Everything that the eye could behold appeared in a rude state of nature. Vast prairies which extended for miles presented no evidences of civilization, no familiar sound like that of the woodman's axe appeared to interrupt the solemn stillness of an uninhabited wilderness. The marks of wild beasts and wild men were now and then visible and the similitude was striking between the two, as though both were born to the same sphere of action and subject to the same laws of being. A sort of wildness and sacred stillness seemed to pervade the whole atmosphere. Reclining upon a buffalo robe in my tent, reflecting upon the varied scenery without and quietly listening to the solemn murmurs of the Cedar, I[Pg 60] thought I could perceive visions of earthly happiness for the man of true genius nowhere else to be found. The longer I remained upon the spot, the more it endeared itself to my affections, and the less I thought of cultivated society and the dazzling beauties of wealth, and its primeval companion, aristocracy. Nature seemed to be decked in her nuptial dress and wild beasts danced to and fro with a festive heart to the harmonious notes of a troop of forest birds.

"Circumstances forced me to leave that consecrated spot after a year's residence, and once more become a victim to the cold restraints and relentless laws of civilization. For five years was I bound by stern necessity to a habitation worse than a prison, and associated with men as little to be admired for their social qualities of character as the cannibals of old. To be engaged in merchandising among a people whose only article of faith was 'cheat and grow rich,' and whose friendship could be secured only by corrupting the morals and lacerating the heart of the innocent, was a pursuit little to be desired by one whose heart had been consecrated to a different field of enterprise and nourished by the sacred impulses of the West. Be assured I escaped from this thralldom as soon as I could, and never to this hour has my mind enjoyed that repose that it did when seated upon the banks of the Cedar and surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Ivanhoe. I experienced a kind of maternal affection for the spot, a mystic tie instinctively chains my mind to its early history, and a magic like that which bound Blennerhasset to his favorite island in the Ohio seems to pervade every recollection connected with its name and its founder.

"But I must abandon this subject, or I shall trespass upon the time and space designed for another, and convert what was intended for a political letter into a literary bore. As you manifested a friendly solicitude when here that I should take up my residence in Linn county when my studies were finished, I thought it not out of place to remind you where my inclination would lead me.

"I would speak privately to you upon the subject of a candidate for congress in this district. I understand that Mr. Preston of Linn is to be a candidate; that Leffler will be a candidate; Leffingwell of Bloomington and Bates and Folsom of Iowa City. Leffler I do not believe can be nominated. I think he has acted in bad faith with his constituents. Leffingwell has no chance, although he has the untiring vigilance of S. C. Hastings to support him. Preston I fear has no chance. He is deceived by Hastings and I fear erroneously counts upon the delegation from Dubuque. We have appointed eight delegates. I am one. I have spoken to them all and find that every man is in favor of giving the nomination to Linn County for the reason that the interest of Linn is identical with that of Dubuque in properly agitating and ultimately constructing the Railroad from this to Keokuk, but they will not support Preston because they have no confidence in his ability.

"One thing is very certain, Friend Durham, and that is that we must elect a man who is identified with this great railroad improvement. Preston would no doubt do all in his power, but he fails to unite that confidence in his favor necessary to give him the nomination. Leffler would no doubt do what he has done, give Davenport the preference. Leffingwell as a matter of course would feel but little personal interest in a railroad running through the interior of the state and forty or fifty miles removed from his immediate constituency, to whom he is more nearly allied and intimately associated in political friendship. All residing upon the banks of the Mississippi and in its immediate vicinity, except those at Keokuk and this point, are opposed to any grant by Congress for this railroad, and I can hardly conceive that it reflects any dishonor upon them as a community or as private individuals, for they are no doubt influenced like all men from natural and selfish impulses. But with Mr. Leffler the case is far different. He was elected to represent the wishes and interests of one entire community of people, eight-tenths of whom have a direct and vital interest in the success of this enterprise. He is requested and repeatedly urged by petition and memorial to give it his earnest support. But he pays no regard to their solicitations until a scheme in which he is more directly interested is matured, forwarded to him, and he puts it upon its passage through Congress. At least six weeks before a single step was taken in aid of the Davenport road in this state, petitions were forwarded to Mr. Leffler for the Dubuque and Keokuk road. In truth no move was made for the Davenport road until Judge Grant returned from Washington City, which was some twelve days after the Legislature had convened, and after the petition had gone from this place, Cascade, from your town, a memorial from the legislature, and the convention had been held at Iowa City, at which, if I mistake not, you were present. Under this state of facts I cannot but regard Mr. Leffler as hostile to this road, in which case our delegation cannot support his claim.


[Pg 61]

"As to Bates and Folsom of Iowa City, we regard them as feeling an equal interest in both roads, both proposing to pass through Iowa City. Under these circumstances what policy does it become us to adopt? Emphatically to select a candidate upon the proposed line of road. Can you not bring forward some man besides Preston? Mr. Boothe and some three or four of our leading men have suggested to me that if Linn county should bring forward G. G. [George Greene], he would get the nomination and be elected by an overwhelming majority. Mr. G. is absent and I know not whether it would suit him if conferred. He is in feeling and interest emphatically a Linn County man, but whether such a proposal would strike him favorably or meet with his sanction are questions which I am unable to solve. I think if sent to Congress he would be a working man and would be very active towards procuring an appropriation for the said road. He feels, as does every Linn county man, a very deep interest in the enterprise. I wish you would give this subject a candid investigation and then write me upon the subject.

"I have been solicited to become a candidate for the Legislature. I have peremptorily declined. I feel no particular aspirations for office. I desire to give my time to the study of the law. You will recollect that I have introduced the name of Mr. Greene to your notice without his knowledge and entirely upon my own responsibility.

"Our families are all well. Mr. Greene has been absent between three and four weeks. Remember me to all friends and believe me, your obedient servant and faithful friend,

Wm. H. Merritt.

"P. S.—Will you be so kind as to inform Wm. Greene that Mr. Bonson is anxiously waiting for that two yoke of oxen, which George contracted with him for. He wants them immediately.

Respectfully yours,

"Wm. H. Merritt."

Mr. Merritt was a man of ability and prominent in the democratic party up to the time of his death. As candidate for governor in 1861, against S. J. Kirkwood, with four other candidates claiming to run on the democratic platform, Mr. Merritt received 43,245 votes out of a total vote cast of 108,700. This testifies to Mr. Merritt's popularity among the people of Iowa.


"Dubuque, March 3, 1847.

"Dear Durham:

"I find that I cannot without great injury to my business here, leave until next week; but still I am very anxious to see the work go on. If you like my suggestion of finishing Jo's [Joseph Greene] contract first in order to expedite the arrival of the money it will be as well to have Wm. [Greene] send Andrew or some[Pg 62] other person out to bring the field notes in. I propose the finishing of Jo's first because it can be done soonest. It will not require so long to plat the work in the S. G.'s office, and it will not interfere with the operations of Mr. Ross, who will take the field at the time, or soon after, you do. He wrote Mr. Wiltse that he should return to the work as soon as the snow decayed sufficient to justify. If any, he has done but very little in the T.s south of the one you have to correct. You may get any one you please to go out in my or Jo's place at our expense. The weather may not suffer you to start out before I come down, which I think will be early next week. You will take my horse, wagon, or anything else of mine that you may need. Mr. Wiltse thinks you had better make all your calculations before going upon the ground. He thinks you can do it more correctly and with a great saving of time and expense.

"If you should consider it necessary you can employ Major McKean to go in our place; though I should think Andrew or some other good hand will do as well. If you should see fit to adopt my plan I will be at Cedar Rapids at the time the notes reach there and will bring them on immediately to Dubuque. Out of the money first received we will of course pay off the balance of the expenses of the surveys. You can show this to Wm. and Jos.

"Yours truly


"S. W. Durham, Esq.,
"Linn Co.,

The following is a report of the railroad meeting held at Marion in 1850 in which nearly all the public-spirited men of the city took part:


Meeting called to order by appointing P. W. Earle chairman and J. Green, secretary.

On motion of W. Smythe, Esq., Resolved that a committee be appointed to report names of delegates to attend the State Rail Road Convention to be held at Iowa City on the .......... day of December next.

Committee appointed by chair, H. W. Gray, Sausman, Dr. Ely, Hill of Putnam, Ashlock, Griffin, Mills of Marion.

Maj. McKean was called for to address the meeting. He proceeded to do so in an appropriate address.

On motion of Hon. G. Greene, Resolved that the delegates appointed to attend the State Rail Road Convention form themselves into a Rail Road Association and draft articles of said association for the advancement of the Dubuque & Keokuk Rail Road.

The committee appointed to report names of delegates to attend State Convention through H. W. Gray report the names of the following persons as delegates:

T. J. McKean, Hon. G. Greene, Dr. Jacob Williams, W. P. Harman, Esq., Ed. Railsback, Mr. Steadman, E. D. Waln, Freeman Smythe, J. J. Nugent, E. Jordan, Dr. Brice, Col. I. Butler, Robert Robinson, Jas. M. Berry, Isaac Cook, Esq., John C. Berry, A. R. Sausman, N. W. Isbel, Esq., P. W. Earle, Esq., William Smythe, Esq., Dr. J. F. Ely, Dr. Carpenter, Hon. S. W. Durham.

Which report was by substituting the name of H. W. Gray in place of W. Smythe, Esq., adopted.

On motion of I. Cook, Esq., If any fail to attend they appoint a substitute.

On motion of Dr. Carpenter, Resolved that the secretary inform absent delegates of their appointment.

[Pg 63]

On motion of Hon. G. Greene, Resolved that the delegates shall assemble in a separate convention if they shall deem expedient after the action of the State Convention to advance the interest of the Dubuque & Keokuk Rail Road.

Messrs. Cook, Esq., and Hon. G. Greene being called for, addressed the meeting in appropriate addresses.

On motion the meeting adjourned.

J. Greene, Secretary.

The getting of a railroad into Cedar Rapids then was the much talked of scheme, and many people believed that this would also end in failure as many other paper railroads had ended before. But the men at the head of this company were men who had a standing in the financial world and were in touch with the big banks of the country. They did not rely on the taxes voted or on empty promises, for if these failed they would still go on with the work. It is needless to add that this company, like all others, got as much tax as possible and changed the location of the route according to the amounts of bonuses offered. When the road entered Cedar Rapids it was the beginning and the end in the long struggle for railroad supremacy in the county, and decided for all times the supremacy of the river city over the county seat. The latter without a railway could do nothing more than sit down and wait till such a time as some company saw fit to extend a line across the state through other points.

For the air line known as the Iowa Central Air Line, the citizens of Linn county voted in June, 1853, the sum of $200,000 to aid in the construction of the road. In 1856 congress voted a grant of land to the state of Iowa to aid in the construction of four roads across it, including one on the line of this company. The legislature in extra session conferred the land on this road in case it was completed. A contract was let to a New York concern to complete the road to Marion, a distance of eighty miles. On account of the financial crash in 1857 the contractors failed to raise the money and to go on with the work. While the people were sore over this failure another company began building from Clinton west and had completed forty miles during the year 1858. It came as far as Lisbon by the end of this year, and this was the first railroad station within the borders of Linn county.

The Dubuque and Southwestern was extended through to Cedar Rapids in 1865, just six years after the Northwestern road had laid its track to the river and had trains running. This caused Cedar Rapids to become at that early day a sort of railway center, and opened up a new territory towards Dubuque. It was not a success financially till it was absorbed by the Milwaukee road in May, 1878.

The following letter from one of the first employes will be of interest in this connection:

"Lamar, Mo., Sept. 5, 1910.

"The Dubuque and Southwestern track was laid to Springville in the year 1859 or 1860. Mr. Jessup was president, and J. P. Farley, superintendent and manager. Mr. McConnell was road master. He owned a farm near Langworthy. I remember the first regular train was composed of one mail, express and baggage car combined, and one flat-top coach. The engine pulling the string was named 'Prairie King,' a little 14 by 16 or 18 inch cylinder. The track was laid with about 50 pound English T rail. The road had at this time three engines besides the 'Prairie King,' viz: the 'Prairie Queen,' still smaller than the King, the 'Anamosa,' and the 'Monticello,' which was of the Rogers make of engines, the other three being of Mason manufacture. The conductor, Archie Cox, engineer, Ace Owens, and Baggagemaster Watson came to our house for supper and boarded with our folks until they could get accommodations at the Bruce house, and I went the next day on the train as the first newsboy. I was[Pg 64] still newsboy when Vicksburg was taken. I then went to the army and stayed until after the war closed. I went on the road again after the war as fireman, brakeman, and baggageman. About 1870 I was promoted to conductor and stayed with the company until 1875. After Archie Cox quit the road Frank Farley took his place, and when the road was extended to Cedar Rapids, two or three years later, they put another train on, one leaving Cedar Rapids in the morning and one leaving Farley Junction in the morning. After they put on the second train Charley Farley was conductor of that train and George Farley was agent at the station at Cedar Rapids. Pat Cunningham was roadmaster for several years, and James Rollo was master mechanic and engineer for ten or twelve years. Our first stock cars were flat cars and when we got an order for a stock car we would take a flat car to the shop and put stakes and slats on in order to hold the stock while in transit.

C. H. Branch."

One of the most important occurrences in the county was when on June 15, 1859, the first railroad made its entrance into Cedar Rapids and once and for all made the town the chief city in this part of the state.

This was accomplished after many failures and after much money had been expended for surveys and in other ways. The following from men still living, who remember the affair, will give the reader an idea as to how jubilant all were on the day of this celebration:

George C. Haman was at that time running a drug store at about the same location he has now. The corner of First avenue and First street was then occupied by what was called Greene's hotel, and Mr. Haman occupied a store room in the south side of the building. He remembers distinctly the big celebration held in honor of the first train to arrive.

Mr. Haman said, as near as he could remember, that the town of Cedar Rapids had a population of about 1,500 people at that time and a big celebration was inaugurated and carried out. People from the surrounding country came to town to see the train come in, and the Indians on the reservation at Tama almost turned out enmasse to see the great piece of machinery that they had heard so much about but had never seen. The day was a great holiday, much of the regular business being suspended and the people turned out in their best clothes to celebrate what was to them the greatest day in the history of the city.

The train pulled into the city to the tune of hundreds of voices, that contained but little harmony but plenty of volume. Arms, hats and handkerchiefs were waved in accompaniment, displaying a due appreciation for the beginning of what was to make Cedar Rapids the beautiful and prosperous city that it is. A railroad was what was needed and it was now theirs.

The terminal of the road was about where the packing house is now located, and it was a couple of years before an extension was made, the track being laid as far as the location of the cereal mills, which at that time was an enterprise yet to come.

Mr. Haman says that one incident is fixed indelibly on his memory, and that was the big dance that was held that night. He was obliged to remain at the store during the day and did not get to see the train come in, but he attended the dance which continued until sunrise the next morning. He was a single man and as was the custom had his lady friend with him and was obliged to send her home in an omnibus, the then prevailing means of transportation about the city, as it was time to open the store and he did not have time to accompany her home. The dance was held in what was known as Daniels hall, located where the Masonic Temple now stands.

Another who has recollections of the great event is Emery Brown and it was in conversation between Mr. Haman and Emery Brown that these facts were collected. The road was extended to Cedar Rapids from Clinton, where connection was made to Chicago. There was no bridge across the Mississippi river at that time and the trains were ferried across the river by means of a large, flat ferry boat.




[Pg 65]

In order to secure the railroad the town was obliged to give $100,000 to the railroad company. Stock was issued in payment. James L. Bever was another man in business here at that time and he made it a point to purchase all this city stock he could, which proved to be to his advantage. The road was later leased by the Northwestern and finally purchased.

With reference to this road a Linn county biography offers the following:

"The organization under which this line came into Cedar Rapids was the Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska Railroad company, which was organized at Clinton in January, 1856. There were several railroad prospects about this time formulating in Clinton, or in places having a close proximity to the Mississippi. Finally all the railroad enterprises extending westward from the river united in the Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska railroad. When that company commenced their operations, it was expected it would have the co-operation of the Galena company. Failing to receive this it pressed forward its work unaided, and by the latter part of 1857 had the track laid as far as the Wapsipinicon river, a distance of thirty-six miles. In July, 1858, it was laid as far as Clarence, Cedar county, and in December, the same year, the road was completed to Lisbon, sixty-four miles from Clinton. The following June (1859) the locomotive steamed into Cedar Rapids, a distance of eighty-two miles from the Mississippi. There was great rejoicing here and the event was duly celebrated.

"It was a most important event to Cedar Rapids for it was the termination of a struggle for railroad supremacy in the county.

"In 1862 the road was leased to the Chicago and Northwestern company, and before the lease expired it had secured control of it. Work was resumed on the extension (for which the Cedar Rapids and Missouri Railroad company was organized), and pushed with vigor. It was completed across the great state of Iowa to Council Bluffs in 1867, where it made connections with the Union Pacific."

[Pg 66]


The Old Settlers' Association

A vigorous Old Settlers' Association has been maintained for several years, the meeting being held at Marion. Following are lists of the officers since its beginning in 1891 to date, of the members and the death roll:



Names preceded by a star note those who have died since joining the association.

DR. JNO. F. ELY An Early Pioneer in Cedar Rapids DR. JNO. F. ELY
An Early Pioneer in Cedar Rapids
JOHN A. KEARNS Came Here in 1853 JOHN A. KEARNS Came Here in 1853
A. J. REID Who Came Here in 1852 A. J. REID Who Came Here in 1852
C. S. HOWARD Came in 1843 C. S. HOWARD Came in 1843
WILLIAM STICK Came in 1853 WILLIAM STICK Came in 1853

First Brick House in Cedar Rapids

Semi-Centennial Exercises in 1906 THE LISTEBARGER CABIN, CEDAR RAPIDS
Showing Semi-Centennial Exercises in 1906

[Pg 77]

Came in 1849
Came in 1852
Early Settlers
Came in 1854
J. P. GLASS Early Pioneer J. P. GLASS
Early Pioneer
F. A. HELBIG Came in 1853 F. A. HELBIG
Came in 1853

[Pg 82]


Postoffices and Politics

The following may be of some interest, especially as to the names of the persons mentioned by S. W. Durham as proper persons with whom to consult on matters bearing upon the political issues of the day. It also shows how they fought for postoffices then as they do now, and how careful and shrewd these old fellows were in getting in touch with their constituents. According to a letter from the assistant postmaster-general, Dr. Brice is not deserving of the office, and George Melton is recommended. This was referred to S. W. Durham, as well as the change of the name of the postoffice from Lindon to Springville. It was signed by fifty-eight citizens of Springville. A. C. Dodge was born in 1812, the son of Henry Dodge. He was in congress until the territory became a state, and with G. W. Jones became one of the first two senators from Iowa. Mr. Dodge remained in congress till 1855 when the democratic party lost control of the state and a union of all the other parties elected James Harlan to succeed him. Senator Dodge was later minister to Spain. He died in 1883, having won the respect and confidence of all political parties. The letters show how carefully the friends of Dodge kept him in touch with political conditions in every township in his district.

The assembly met at Iowa City on December 4, 1848. G. W. Jones was a candidate against Judge T. S. Wilson, who lost by a majority of one. Dodge had no opposition in his own party and received the unanimous nomination. The democratic party in this session had a majority on joint ballot. He no doubt had been busy, and had his friends keep him posted on the course of events. This list no doubt was furnished him for the purpose of keeping in touch with the electors and to give him an opportunity to select postmasters in accordance with services rendered. The letters give some the name whig, which would go to show that all the remainder could be relied upon as democratic in their beliefs.

The list has names of a number of men who later became noted lawyers, doctors, and shrewd business men.

The Marion postoffice was not always a plum to fight over, as it has been of late. It was first established in 1839 at the home of L. M. Strong, a farmer and tavern-keeper within the present confines of the county seat. L. Daniels came in 1840 to start the first store, and he in turn became the postmaster for a time till he gave it up to John Zunro, who with Mr. Hoops started a grocery store and wanted the postoffice so as to have people coming in now and then.

Marion, Linn County, Iowa, December 30, 1848.

Hon. A. C. Dodge,

Dear Sir: In compliance with your request I have the pleasure to forward the following names of suitable persons in this county to be addressed by you:

Center Point P. O.: Jonathan Osborne, William B. Davis, James Downs, Samuel C. Stewart, Thomas G. Lockhart, James Chambers, E. B. Spencer, W. A. Thomas, Dr. S. M. Brice (Whig).

Lafayette P. O.: Samuel Hendrickson (Co. Com.), Nathan Reynolds, Duff Barrows, Smith Mounce, Perry Oliphant (Whig), John Wisehart, Abel E. Skinner, William Hunt, William Chamberlain, Paddock Cheadle.

Marion P. O.: And. D. Bottorff, Esq., V. Beall, Alpheus Brown, Esq., Richard Thomas, Perry Oxley, Wm. H. Chambers, Nathan Wickham, Wm. L. Winters,[Pg 83] Wm. M. Harris, Albert Kendall, Elihu Ives, Iram Wilson, Jno. Millner, Seth Stinson, Wm. Smythe, Frederick Beeler, Elisha Moore, Robert Jones, J. P. Brown, Orlando Gray, Daniel Harris, Jno. S. Torrence, Jno. Riley, James M. Berry, Thomas S. Bardwell, Wm. Hunter, Geo. A. Patterson, Captain Benj. Waterhouse, L. D. Jordan, Chandler Jordan, M. E. McKenney, Jos. Clark, Samuel Powell.

Springville P. O.: Col. Isaac Butler, Horace N. Brown, Jos. Butler, Ezekiel Cox, Esq., Wm. Brohard, Squire Rob, Geo. Perkins, Jas. Butler, Geo. House, Harvey Stone, Wm. Evans, Edward Crow, John Johnson.

Ivanhoe P. O.: Robt. Smythe, Mr. Bunker, Dan'l Hahn, Henry Kepler, And. J. McKean, J. Briney, —— Hoover, Hersia Moore, And. R. Sausman, A. I. Willits, C. C. Haskins, —— Cook, Jos. Robeson, Dr. Jno. Evans, John Stewart, —— Mason, Thos. McLelland.

St. Julian P. O.: And. Safely, Esq., (Co. Com.), —— McShane, Jas. Scott, Preston Scott, Jno. Scott, Jos. Conway, Geo. Hunter, David McCall, John Emmons.

Hollenback P. O.: Edward Railsback, Jno. Cue, Doctor Williams, Dan'l Richards, Thomas Lewis, Geo. Slonecker, Lawrence Hollenback.

Cedar Rapids P. O.: Jos. Greene, Jno. L. Shearer, C. R. Mulford, Jno. Hunter, Esq., Joel Leverich, —— Klump, E. T. Lewis, N. B. Brown, David W. King, Jason C. Bartholomew, Stephen L. Pollock, —— Nelson, Dr. Ely, Jno. Weare, Sen., Jos. McKee, Thos. Railsback, Abel Eddy, Mr. Simms.

Post Office Department
Appointment Office, Aug. 9, 1854.


S. M. Brice, the Postmaster at Center Point, County of Linn, State of Iowa, is said not to have deserved the appointment. The late P. M. recommends George Melton.

Before submitting this case to the Postmaster General, I have to request the favor of any information you may possess, or be able conveniently to obtain, respecting it.

I have the honor to be,
Very respectfully, &c.

Horatio King,

First Assistant Postmaster General.

Hon. A. C. Dodge,
U. S. Senator.
Dear Friend:

Please enquire into the matter herein referred to & let me know the result & greatly oblige,

Truly your friend,

A. C. Dodge.

S. W. Durham, Esq.

Dr. S. M. Brice was located in Center Point about 1840-41, going there from Cedar Rapids. He remained but a short time. Dr. Brice was a whig in politics, and Center Point had always been strongly democratic. He was the first postmaster of the village.

The objections set out in the letter must have been political for he was considered a wide-awake and estimable man in every particular.

[Pg 84]

Post Office Department,
Appointment Office, July 22, 1854.


A. P. Risley, the Postmaster at Springville, County of Linn, State of Iowa, with 58 citizens, recommends the change of site and name of the office to Lindon.

Before submitting this case to the Postmaster General, I have to request the favor of any information you may possess, or be able conveniently to obtain, respecting it.

I have the honor to be,
Very respectfully, etc.,

Horatio King,

First Assistant Postmaster General.

Hon. A. C. Dodge,
U. S. Senator.
Endorsed, The same of this, etc.,
Yours truly,
A. C. Dodge.

S. W. Durham, Esq.

In 1842 the first postoffice was established in the township known as Brown by Isaac Butler. It was the third postoffice in the county and was known as Springville. Mail was received on horseback weekly. A. P. Risley opened a store in 1845 and became postmaster. He is the person referred to in the letter of Senator Dodge. Mr. Risley sold out and removed a mile east of the town, and with A. E. Sampson laid out a new town called Lindon. A postoffice was secured though not without a fight, and the town of New Lindon assumed the airs of city life. A hotel and blacksmith shop also kept the town alive for the time, but it died like other towns when the railroad was secured by Springville, and the booming town of Lindon has been for many years a good corn field and a rich pasture. Sterling became postmaster at Springville after Risley. He was succeeded by John Hoffman.


While Joseph Greene was postmaster he also acted as the first storekeeper of the town, and it is related of him that he carried his mail in his hat. The following, written by J. L. Enos, in the Cedar Valley Times, may give the reader an idea of the postoffice situation up to the close of the Civil war. He writes as follows:

"The postoffice was established in 1847 and Joseph Greene appointed postmaster. Mr. Greene was removed on a change of administration, and L. Daniels appointed to succeed him. Homer Bishop was the third incumbent and held the office through a succession of years, giving very general satisfaction. At the commencement of Lincoln's administration Mr. Bishop was removed, and in accordance with a mistaken and dangerous policy which promotes men of a particular class or profession in places of trust, without regard to their moral or any other qualifications—J. G. Davenport, until then the editor of the Cedar Valley Times, was appointed.

"Those acquainted with Davenport did not suppose he would be able to present satisfactory bonds but after some little delay he succeeded in procuring them and in due course of time took possession of the office. (Though a republican in politics, Mr. Davenport had to appeal to democratic friends for these bonds. J. J. Snouffer was one of them and shared in the subsequent loss.)

Mt. Vernon
REV. GEO. B. BOWMAN, D. D. Founder of Cornell College REV. GEO. B. BOWMAN, D. D.
Founder of Cornell College
Cedar Rapids
W. F. SEVERA Cedar Rapids W. F. SEVERA
Cedar Rapids

[Pg 85]

"A large number of clerks (?) was found necessary and it became evident that the office was managed with great recklessness. Money was lost through the mail when sent to the nearest postoffice on the route, and money sent to persons in the city from adjacent offices never came to hand. Postage stamps were borrowed from neighboring offices and return payment obtained with great difficulty, and in some cases there was a refusal to pay—because as he (Davenport) said, he had already paid the amount borrowed. He was at last removed, and on settling up the affairs of the office, there was found to be a shortage to the amount of fifteen hundred dollars. His bondsmen went to work and finally succeeded in effecting a credit on a part of the amount and had the satisfaction of paying about one thousand dollars, which had been stolen from the government by this arch swindler. After minor swindling operations he absconded, thus relieving the city of the most bare-faced falsifier and swindler that has infested the city since the time of Shepard & Co., in the early day.

"George M. Howlett, the present incumbent, was appointed his successor and makes an efficient officer. In the spring of 1865 Cedar Rapids was designated as a money order office, commencing operations as such on the 3d of July following. This enlarges the responsibility of the office and great care is necessary to keep all things right—though the blanks furnished make the work simple in honest hands."

L. Daniels was another of the early postmasters. He, also, was a merchant, and so was Homer Bishop, his successor in office. It was not until J. G. Davenport became postmaster that the postoffice got into politics. In fact it was no plum worth having till about the time of the Civil war. A number of prominent men have since that time held the postoffice—such as Captain W. W. Smith, Charles Weare, Alex. Charles, Geo. A. Lincoln, W. R. Boyd, and W. G. Haskell, the present incumbent.

A. C. Taylor relates how, when he came to Cedar Rapids, he carried on his jewelry store in the postoffice building, his store being located on the alley, in the rear of where the Masonic Temple now stands. The postoffice at Cedar Rapids soon outgrew the first government building, erected in the '90s, and the second was completed in 1909 at a cost of $250,000.

If a person asked for his mail in the olden days more than once a month he was considered too important, and the postmaster would gently remind him that he had no legal right to bother a man more than once a month, at least, about such a small matter as a letter. The postoffice during the past sixty-three years has grown to enormous proportions, till it now takes the entire time of a score of people to expedite the handling of the mails.

[Pg 86]


The Physicians of the County


Among the first doctors who located in and around Marion should be mentioned S. H. Tryon, F. W. Tailor, and James Cummings. These men came before 1840. They were followed by T. S. Bardwell and L. W. Phelps. Dr. Tryon at least came as early as 1838 and was for many years a well-known public character. He acted as county clerk and held many posts of honor.

Dr. J. K. Rickey bought John Young's claim in Cedar Rapids as early as 1841 and must have been located in that vicinity at that time. What became of him is not known, and whether or not he engaged in the practice extensively is doubtful. There were not many whites there in those early days and it is a question if any had the time or inclination to be very sick. In case they were it was no doubt homesickness, for which a doctor has so far been unable to offer any permanent cure.

The first doctor who came to Cedar Rapids was inclined to blow his own horn. J. L. Enos, the editor of the Cedar Valley Times, has the following to say: "Once when he had returned from Muscatine he claimed to have lost forty pounds of quinine in one of the streams below the Cedar. Constable Lewis once called on him with an execution to secure a judgment. The doctor threw off his coat and prepared for a fight. The constable seeing his opportunity seized the coat and made away with it and found therein sufficient money to satisfy the debt."

Profiting by the example, later comers have avoided fights and have tried to pay their debts.

In the correspondence between S. W. Durham and A. C. Dodge in December, 1848, the following named doctors are referred to: S. M. Brice (whig), Center Point; Ivanhoe, Jno. Evans; Hollenback P. O., Dr. Williams; Cedar Rapids P. O., J. F. Ely.

Thus during 1848 the above named persons must have been residents and practicing physicians in their respective localities. Dr. Brice was the second doctor in Cedar Rapids. Later he moved to Center Point. These men were no doubt slated as candidates for postmasters. Dr. Brice later acted as postmaster at Center Point.

A history of the medical profession in Linn county must be largely made up of a list of names, as the intrinsic work of the medical practitioner is scarcely a fit subject matter for the casual reader.

What seems to be the earliest date in connection with which there is mention of a physician in the county annals is 1841, in which year Dr. Magnus Holmes came to the town of Marion from Crawfordsville, Indiana. Promising to be of great value to the community, Dr. Holmes passed away a short time after his arrival. Dr. Henry M. Ristine, father of Dr. J. M. Ristine, of Cedar Rapids, was a brother-in-law of Dr. Holmes, and came to Marion from Indiana in 1842. Another of the very earliest practitioners was Dr. Sam Grafton, who was located on the Cedar river at Ivanhoe bridge, on the old military road from Dubuque to Iowa City. Just when he came is not known; this was one of the earliest settlements in the county and he had practiced there for some four years previous to 1847, in which year he fell a victim to a typhoid epidemic. Dr. Amos Witter[Pg 87] was one of the first physicians in Mt. Vernon. He passed away in 1862 at the age of fifty-five, having been several years a member of the legislature. In 1886 there was still living in Viola a Dr. S. S. Matson, who had practiced there since 1845. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1832, the same year in which Dr. Elisha W. Lake, an early Marion physician, graduated from the Ohio Medical College. These two men are in point of graduation the oldest men the county has had. In northeastern Linn the first physician was Dr. Stacy, who lived on the Anamosa and Quasqueton road near Boulder church. He was a brother to the late Judge Stacy, the pioneer promoter of the Dubuque & Southwestern Railroad. Some of the other early practitioners were Dr. E. L. Mansfield, who came to Cedar Rapids or Kingston in 1847; Dr. J. M. Traer, who made Cedar Rapids his home from 1847-51; Dr. J. F. Ely, who came to the same place in 1848; and Dr. S. D. Carpenter, who came in 1849.

Dr. Shattuck, of Green's Mills, now Coggon, Drs. Lannin and Byam, of Paris, Drs. Patterson and Mitchell, of Clark's Ford, now Central City, and Dr. Young, of Prairieburg, were all pioneer doctors in their respective communities. Dr. T. S. Bardwell, who became a leading physician of Marion, settled on a farm in that vicinity in 1840, making his residence in the county date back farther than that of any other medical man except S. H. Tryon.

A rather incomplete business directory of Cedar Rapids in 1856 gives the following as physicians: S. C. Koontz, J. H. Camburn, W. D. Barclay, J. W. Edes, Smith & Larrabee, R. R. Taylor.

A complete city directory published in 1869 gives the names of the following: C. F. Bullen, J. H. Camburn, G. P. Carpenter, J. P. Coulter, J. W. Edes, Mansfield & Smith, Freeman McClelland, John North, Israel Snyder, C. H. Thompson, W. Bollinger, J. C. May. Of these, Dr. Camburn and Dr. Edes were prominent in their profession for many years. Dr. R. R. Taylor was a Virginian, who went to reside in Philadelphia about the time of the Civil war. Dr. J. C. May was a druggist as well as a very popular physician. He was a brother of the late Major May, of island fame.

A medical and surgical directory of Iowa for 1876 gives the first authentic list of doctors in Linn county to which access has been had. A list of fifty is given as in active practice in the county at that time. Only six of these remain: Dr. George P. Carpenter, dean of the profession in Cedar Rapids; Dr. G. R. Skinner, of Cedar Rapids; Dr. T. S. Kepler, of Mt. Vernon; Dr. Hindman, of Marion; Dr. Edwin Burd, of Lisbon; and Dr. F. M. Yost, of Center Point. The last of these, Dr. Yost, class of 1853 University of Pennsylvania, is the oldest living practitioner in the county. His two sons are now associated with him in his work. One other, Dr. J. H. Smith, of Cedar Rapids, has not been in practice for many years but preserves a close relation to his old calling through his presidency of the board of directors of St. Luke's Hospital. The two Doctors Sigworth are still living near their old neighborhood, having retired to Anamosa.

A registry of all physicians practicing in the county was begun in the county clerk's office in 1880-1881. It started with sixty-four names, probably the full number of those in active practice at the time. Since then about 230 additional doctors have been registered, and of this total of nearly 300 about 125 are now practicing in the county.

At Western some of the early physicians were Dr. Crouse, Dr. W. B. Wagner, Dr. Miller, all of whom preceded Dr. J. C. Schrader who removed to Iowa City. Dr. J. C. Hanshay located here in 1863 and Dr. Favour in 1877. Dr. Patterson was the first doctor in Bertram, in 1857. Dr. J. Stricklippe was an early doctor and druggist at Palo, and Dr. J. W. Firkin was the second doctor at Vanderbilt, later known as Fairfax. His son, Edgar Firkin, is now a popular druggist there. Dr. U. C. Roe came to Fairfax in 1864 for the practice of medicine.[Pg 88] He also sold drugs. The business finally drifted into a grocery store, as it seems that the settlers preferred sugar and prunes to pills and quinine.

Among names of note in the early history of these parts are those of several medical doctors whose prominence came along lines outside of their professional work. Dr. John P. Ely's name is prominently connected with the early business enterprises and later growth of Cedar Rapids. The doctor was called in the year he finished his medical studies in New York to the management of commercial and manufacturing interests in this county. The growth of these drew him gradually from the excellent practice for which he at first found time. To the close of his life, however, Dr. Ely kept himself well informed on the progress of scientific medicine. Perhaps the first autopsy in this locality was performed by Dr. Ely in the interests of both science and sobriety, if early annals are authentic, the subject having been in life notorious for his potations.

Dr. Eber L. Mansfield along with a large medical practice found time to build up successful business and real estate interests on both sides of the river at Cedar Rapids.

Dr. Seymour D. Carpenter left the practice after the Civil war and became active and highly successful in the building and financing of railroads in this state and further south. Dr. Carpenter is still living in a hale old age in Chicago.

Dr. Freeman McClelland, a talented graduate of Jefferson Medical College, won for himself enviable popularity and influence through his editorship of the Cedar Rapids Times. The flavor of his writings and rare personality are an enduring remembrance with all who knew him.

Dr. J. T. Headley, the eminent platform lecturer, at present living retired in Philadelphia, is said to have first hung out his "shingle" in Cedar Rapids.

Dr. G. W. Holmes, son of Dr. Magnus Holmes, of Marion, after finishing at Bellevue, went as a medical missionary of the American Board to Persia, where in addition to his other work he became royal physician to the Crown Prince, afterwards Shah of Persia. Dr. Holmes passed away in June, 1910.

Linn county sent a number of doctors to the army during the Civil war. The following list is as nearly accurate as to men and organizations as it was possible to make it:

Dr. H. M. Ristine, surgeon 20th Iowa Infantry.

Dr. J. F. Ely, surgeon 24th Iowa.

Dr. J. H. Camburn, surgeon 16th Iowa Infantry, also 6th Iowa Cavalry.

Dr. Freeman McClelland, surgeon 16th Iowa Infantry.

Dr. H. M. Lyons, surgeon 16th Iowa Infantry.

Dr. John F. Smith, assistant surgeon 65th Illinois Infantry.

Dr. G. L. Carhardt, surgeon 31st Iowa.

Dr. J. C. Shrader went from near Western College, this county, with the 22d Iowa Infantry as captain and later as surgeon.

Dr. Amos Witter, surgeon 7th Iowa Infantry.

Dr. T. S. Bardwell served as first assistant surgeon with the 6th Iowa Cavalry, Col. Carskadden of Marion, notably in an expedition against the Indians who were threatening the Nebraska and Dakota frontier, the male portion of the settlers there being largely absent in the Union army.

Dr. Seth Byam, of Jackson township, was surgeon in the U. S. army.

Dr. Seymour D. Carpenter, surgeon U. S. A., during the four years of the war.

Of those who served otherwise than as surgeons, Dr. J. P. Coulter was lieutenant colonel of the 12th Iowa Infantry. He afterwards was active in city and county politics and held several official positions, and distantly related to him was the late Dr. A. B. Coulter, in whose untimely passing away the community lost one of its most promising professional men.

Dr. G. R. Skinner, who came to Cedar Rapids in 1871, spent four years in the Civil war, leaving the service with a captain's commission.

Dr. W. H. French served through the war in the 89th Illinois Infantry.


[Pg 89]

Of those men whose distinctly professional work brought them especial esteem, space will allow for the mention of only a few.

Perhaps for no other one of their brethren did the Linn county profession award so universal preference as to Dr. Henry Ristine. Pioneer, patriot, and public-spirited citizen, he was first and before all a doctor, combining in generous measure the traits and faculties that make an eminently successful surgeon, with culture and genial sympathies. It could be truly said of him that he adorned his profession. His portrait hangs in St. Luke's Hospital along with that of the late Judge Greene, whom he ably seconded in the work of founding that institution. Jurist and surgeon alike believed in the hospital as the workshop without which the doctor could not do his best work, and their efforts accomplished much toward the establishment of medical and surgical justice to the physically afflicted, a form of service that deserves more and more public recognition in every community where moral justice to the criminally accused is so amply facilitated by the courts of law.

Among other well remembered physicians were Dr. J. S. Love, of Springville, Dr. James Carson, of Mt. Vernon, Dr. D. McClenahan, of Cedar Rapids, and Dr. G. L. Carhardt, of Marion. Beginning at an early date and devoting themselves exclusively to their practice till advancing age forced retirement, they all four typically exemplified in their respective communities the life of the family physician. They were, none of them, modern doctors, but they lived not only to see but to rejoice in the day of modern medicine. Long after they had ceased from practice they kept up attendance at medical society meetings, keenly alive to the advancements of medical art and scientific research there discussed. They were resourceful men, and they had labored faithfully and well with the art available in their day, how often futilely none felt more keenly than themselves. The realization that modern methods promised control of much that had baffled them seemed to lighten the burden of their declining years. Their abiding interest and faith in the future things of medicine was an inspiration to their successors.

Of medical organizations in Linn county the oldest is the Union Medical Society, founded as the Linn County Medical Society at Mt. Vernon in 1859 by Drs. Love, Ely, Ristine, Carson, and Lyon. Dormant during the war, it resumed in 1866 and ran till 1873, when its name was changed to the Iowa Union and it became a district society, taking its membership from half a dozen or more counties and centering in Linn and Johnson counties. It still meets twice a year at Cedar Rapids, occasionally at Iowa City for scientific work. Its officers now are: president, C. W. Baker, Stanwood; secretary, F. G. Murray, Cedar Rapids; treasurer, C. P. Carpenter, Cedar Rapids.

The present Linn County Society was organized in Cedar Rapids in 1903. It holds meetings twice a year and is the unit of the State and American Medical Associations. One of its members, Dr. G. E. Crawford, is the outgoing president of the Iowa State Medical Society. Its present officers are: president, Dr. A. B. Poore; secretary, Dr. H. W. Bender; treasurer, Frank S. Skinner.

There are other local organizations at Mt. Vernon and Cedar Rapids. The Practitioners' Club of the latter place meets once a month for discussion and action upon medical subjects of special interest to the members. Its officers are: Dr. H. S. Raymer, president; H. E. Pfeiffer, secretary; G. P. Carpenter, treasurer.

St. Luke's Hospital at Cedar Rapids has already been mentioned. It was founded in 1883. On its consulting staff are Drs. G. P. Carpenter, J. M. Ristine, G. R. Skinner, G. E. Crawford, A. B. Poore, and A. H. Johnson. It has an attending staff of younger men. The hospital has seventy-five beds, having recently added a new and completely appointed maternity department. Mercy Hospital, ninety beds, founded at Cedar Rapids in 1902 and housed in its spacious[Pg 90] new building in 1904, is under the care of the Sisters of Mercy. These finely equipped institutions serve Cedar Rapids, Marion, the railroad systems and their contributing territory with facilities for the best of medical, surgical and maternity work. Few realize the large amount of free humanitarian work they accomplish every year. Together with Linn county's own excellent infirmary north of Marion they represent in a material and public way the present status of medical art, science, and humanitarianism in the county. Personally and privately these are represented by the 125 active practitioners of medicine.

It will be noted that the names of only a few of these have been mentioned and then only incidentally. The scope of this sketch does not allow adequate individual reference to the remainder. Nor is this the place to record contemporary progress. The lives of all the present members of the profession belong not to the past but to the future history of medicine in Linn county. The attached list gives the names of the practicing physicians in Linn county in 1910:

[Pg 92]


The Material Growth of the County

In scarcely any locality has the material growth been so fast and substantial during the past seventy years as in Linn county. Old residents who have returned after a period of twenty-five to thirty years mention this fact, and what is true of the cities and towns is perhaps much more true of the rural districts in general.

William Abbe erected a bark cabin for the use of his family the first summer, after he came here, and built a log house that fall for his winter abode. Ed Crow, C. C. Haskins, and others also erected very frail cabins during the first year they lived within the confines of the county. John Henry, it is said, built a small store-building facing the river in the squatter town of Westport in 1838. It was a frame building about 14 x 18, scarcely high enough for any of the Oxley Brothers (who were very tall men) to enter. He also erected a small dwelling house near the store-building, which, if anything, was smaller than the store-building. All the lumber in these buildings, except the window frames and the sills, were cut in the timber adjoining the river; even the roof was cut out of rough boards, with a broad saw. The nails used were brought from Muscatine, as well as a few hinges, and the windows. These buildings were torn down in 1860. The Shepherd Tavern was also a rude log building, as was the John Young house, which was afterwards used as a hotel, with additions added later.

G. R. Carroll, in his Pioneer Life, mentions the first cabin erected by his father, Isaac Carroll, in 1839. It took about ten days to erect an ordinary cabin. "It stood on the east side of the road near Mr. Bower's nursery on the boulevard one and a half miles from the river. It was a very primitive looking structure, 16 x 18 perhaps, with what we called a cob roof, made of clapboards with logs on top to hold them in place. It was quite an agreeable change from our tent and wagons when we entered this new cabin, although there was not a great deal of room to spare after our goods were unloaded and the nine members of the family were gathered within its walls. When the table was spread there was no passing from one side to the other, except as we got upon our hands and knees and crawled under."

Mr. Carroll also speaks of the second house, which was erected the same fall on the same premises. "It was, however, not to be a common kind of a cabin, it was to be a somewhat ambitious structure for the time, in fact it was to be the best house in Linn county, and when completed, it enjoyed that distinction. It was said, that there was nothing in the county that equalled it. The dimensions of this house were 14 x 16, a story and a half high. There were in the walls of this house between fifty and sixty white oak logs, most of them quite straight and free from knots. The ends of the logs were cut off square and the corners were laid up like square blocks, care being taken to cut off enough at the ends to allow the logs to come as close together as possible so as to leave but little space for chinking and plastering when it came to the finishing up. The only boards about the entire building were in the door which I think were brought with us on top of our wagon-box, which was of extra height. The joists above and below were made of logs, the upper ones squared with a broadax. The casings of doors and windows, and the floors above and below, were made out of bass wood puncheons. Slabs were spread out of the logs and then hewn out with a broad axe and the edges were made straight by the use of the chalk line. The gable ends were sided up with clapboard rived out of oak timber three or four feet long, and then shaved off smooth like siding. The rafters were made of hickory poles trimmed off straight on the upper side, and strips three or four inches wide were nailed on the sheeting. Upon these strips shingles made of oak eighteen inches long and nicely shaven, were laid. The logs of the walls in the inside were hewn off flat, and the interstices between were shingled and plastered with lime mortar, the lime being burned by my father on Indian Creek. There were three windows below of twelve lights each, with glass 7 x 9, and a window in each of the gable ends of nine lights, which furnished light for the room above. The fire place was built up of logs on the outside and lined with stone within, and the chimney was built of sticks split out about the size of laths and plastered with clay, both inside and outside."

J. H. VOSMEK Cedar Rapids J. H. VOSMEK
Cedar Rapids
Cedar Rapids
DR. E. L. MANSFIELD An Early Cedar Rapids Physician DR. E. L. MANSFIELD
An Early Cedar Rapids Physician

[Pg 93]

The description of this house gives the reader an idea of one of the most up-to-date houses built before the year 1840. During the past sixty years many commodious farm houses have been erected, having all the modern conveniences installed, such as heating, lighting, together with bath privileges connected with sanitary plumbing. It is said that the late S. C. Bever installed the first furnace in a dwelling house in Linn county, and many people came from over the county to see such a furnace work. Now, not only cities and towns, but farm residences have installed furnaces and other kinds of heating plants, so that which was a novelty fifty years ago is very ordinary today.

The farmers in Linn county early began to invest their surplus money in farm machinery. William Ure drove an ox team to Chicago and brought back a McCormick reaper, which was the first reaper brought into the county, as far as is known. At least it was the first reaper used and operated in and around Scotch Grove. The neighbors said that Ure was foolish and it would surely break him up, but inside of one season it paid for itself. In and around Stoney Point one of the first threshing machines was used; a very small machine which was staked fast on the ground, without a straw-carrier, and operated by horsepower, which was placed on the ground loose and had to be hauled from place to place on a truck. In Linn Grove, Brown township, Washington township, and in other localities, many of these crude reapers and crude threshing machines and corn shellers were seen in operation during the season. Frequently the people who purchased these early machines lost money. The machinery was not always recommended, and sometimes the farmers were not mechanics skilled enough to make repairs when needed. A number got fooled on the first wire-binders and on the check-rowers, as well as on some of the early mowing machines, and many lost heavily in early days on thoroughbred horses and full-blooded cattle. But after all, the spirit of progress was abroad in the community, and in spite of failures, it did a great thing for the people who became interested. The advent of the reaper no doubt changed farming methods in this country. It is said that "the struggle for bread ceased when the reaper was put on the market." At least it placed the struggle for existence on a higher level. Certainly when a machine was invented that could do the work of five or six men and be depended upon, such a machine was worth having, and it soon paid for itself.

The manufacturing of farm machinery in Linn county was not a financial success, as is shown by the failure of the Williams Harvester Works, the Ogden Plow Works, the Star Wagon Works, and many other enterprises, but the spirit displayed by those who were willing to put their money into these untried enterprises, showed the mettle and the ingenuity that many of these early settlers had. People profited by these failures, made a study of the subject, and in course of time these men who lost at times on some investment or purchased machinery which was not suitable to the country, became owners of magnificent farms and up-to-date farmers by long experience.

[Pg 94]

The early corn cribs and granaries were generally built of rails, the kinks filled in with straw or hay. They of course had to be rebuilt every fall, and more or less grain was wasted. The rail corn crib was superseded by long board cribs generally built on the ground without any foundation. These cribs, when empty, were generally blown about the premises and had to be hauled back and propped up before they could be used in the fall. The farmers of Linn county frequently visited in Illinois, and there found models for economical corn cribs. They also read the farm journals, and it was not long until our farmers erected the modern corn crib and granary with gasoline engines, dumps, and elevators. These cribs were substantially built on cement foundations with cement floors, and with a driveway large enough and wide enough to house several wagons and three or four buggies at one time. The early corn crib, it is true, cost little or nothing, but they were a source of expense and annoyance, and much grain was wasted. The modern corn crib, as now erected, is built for a life time, but at a cost of from two thousand to three thousand dollars, which would have been a sum impossible to raise by the early settler, who generally paid the government price on his land by disposing of skins which he prepared during the winter, and who went barefooted in summer for the reason that he had no money to buy shoes and no time to make moccasins for himself or his children.

Thus the early farmer housed his horses and cattle in straw stacks during the winter and in the timber during the summer. Sometime a hay thatched stable was erected for the use of the horses. He milked his cows out on the snow in winter, and expected them to yield a fair supply of milk on a diet of slough hay and dry corn stalks, and would drive them to water to some creek or river once a day, using an ax with which to cut a hole in the ice. These stables would leak in spring and summer and had to be rebuilt nearly every fall. All hay was stacked outside and nearly half of it would rot during the rainy season. But hay was cheaper than lumber and for that reason a man had to figure on putting up enough hay during the summer, and take into account the waste. It was not till after the Civil war that many barns were built, and then only the rich farmer could afford them. Not till the '70s and '80s did the craze for barn building come, and now nearly every farm of any size, and nearly every farmer of any financial standing, has a good substantial barn, as well as machine sheds, all of which improvements may cost from three thousand to ten thousand dollars.

In the early days many farmers were fooled or taken in on the creamery proposition, as many of these small country creameries failed. The people then began to study the cow and the cost of producing milk and butter. True the first attempts were not a success, but the butter and milk of Linn county have during the past twenty-five years made many of the farmers wealthy. It used to be, that if the cows could keep down the grocery bill that was well done, but now, many a farmer gets a monthly milk check of from fifty to seventy-five dollars, which not only pays the grocery bill, but generally the hired man as well. But then the price of butter has increased from six cents to thirty, which makes a difference. The butter has also gradually become a better quality, and is really worth more. It is taken care of now, while in the pioneer days the cream was left out doors during the hot summer and the rancid butter was placed in a shallow slough well so as to be kept cool. It was generally not fit to use and was traded at the store for dried prunes, brown sugar, and dried herring. Thus, while the farmer may not have given the merchant much, the merchant certainly did not give the farmer anything of much value in return for his farm produce.

During the past twenty years no class of people have fared better financially than the farmers, and no class of people have become more enlightened on the subject in which they are engaged than the farmers. This may be due to several reasons. The farm journals have no doubt done much in stirring up a local pride in the vocation of farming. The farm journal has taught the farmer not to be[Pg 95] ashamed of his calling; that while he may be called a "Rube" in some localities, he is an intelligent, up-to-date, wide-awake man, who knows what is going on in the country; is familiar with political questions and interested in the welfare of the country and of the state in which he resides. During the past twenty years the farmer, especially in Linn county, has traveled much. He has attended the county and state fairs where he has seen the latest inventions in machinery. He has attended nearly all of the exhibitions held in the country from Chicago to Seattle, and has come in contact with farmers from other sections of the country as well as with financiers and men of affairs. He has traveled much on land excursions and has learned to study and understand the nature of the soil. While it is true, that these various journeys have taken some time and money, yet they have made the farmer an up-to-date man, familiar with all sides of human life, and he has discovered, after all, that he is one of the most fortunate men in the country, and financially better off than many a city brother who may wear broadcloth and a boiled shirt, but whose bank account is generally depleted. The Linn county farmer has learned during the past twenty-five years to know himself and to understand and respect the class to which he belongs. No one can become a successful person in any line of business unless he is proud of the line of work in which he is engaged. The farmer has learned this secret, and he is not ashamed to tell anyone, that he is a Hawkeye farmer, owning his own farm and caring for his own property. The Iowa farmer has kept up with the procession, and he certainly is as intelligent, as wide-awake, and as shrewd and keen as the merchant, the banker, and the professional man in his business dealings. But he came to Iowa at the proper time, and for that reason he had the advantage of the old settlers who came to New England or to Jamestown. These men came ahead of their time and before things were ripe for such settlement. The bread tools of the Virginia pioneer were the same as those of the Indians whom they despised and wanted to drive out. The first settlers of Iowa came with the advent of the reaper, when a boy fifteen years of age could cut the grain with ease, which several sturdy men had to do before with the sickle and the scythe.

We seem to think that we have had the modern inventions for ages, but the first white settlers in Linn county, whoever they may have been, knew nothing of matches; of stoves as we know them; of the telegraph or the telephone or electric lights. They did not have modern corn cultivators or stirring plows. All these so-called modern appliances have been invented since the advent of the first settler in this county. But it was not long after these inventions came into use, until some enterprising individual or firm introduced them into Linn county. It is said that it was at a Shriner meeting on the old State Fair Ground, which is now Central Park, Cedar Rapids, that electricity was first used in this county, and people came for many miles to watch this peculiar light, which some thought could only be accounted for on the ground that the operator was in close connection with the Evil One. Barnum, with his show, also exhibited electric lights to the consternation of the vast crowds that came to see his circus, and it was one of the chief attractions during the first year. People came many miles to listen and talk through a telephone, and now every up-to-date farmer has an instrument installed in his own house.

In a material way the settlers in Linn county have succeeded beyond the expectation of the most sanguine. Thrift and prosperity can be seen on every hand. The various farmers' alliances, elevator companies, banking companies, creamery companies, old settlers' unions, and all these have brought the men over the county in closer touch with each other and the farmers of the whole county have learned to appreciate the marvelous benefits derived from social intercourse. It has made them broader and more liberal minded toward one another.

The first real census of the county was made in 1840 by H. W. Gray, who found 1,373 men, women, and children here. There were no less than 200 people[Pg 96] who celebrated the 4th of July at Westport in 1838, but these may not all have belonged to the county. There was a rapid influx of people, and by 1845 it has been estimated that no less than 4,000 had declared Linn county their permanent home. The men who came here in the early days knew nothing of luxuries, for it is said that there were not over twenty buggies in the county and not to exceed two pianos. The gold excitement took many of the bright young men away, most of whom never returned. The census of 1850 shows that there were 5,444 people in the county, further demonstrating that the land seekers were still coming despite the fact that many residents must have left for the gold fields of California. By 1860 fully 19,000 residents claimed the county as their home. At the first election in the county 39 votes were cast. In 1875 there were more than 7,000 voters, and this number has gradually increased till the votes cast in 1908 were 6,558 republican, 5,008 democratic, 220 prohibition, and 121 scattering, making a total vote of 11,900. Long ago the farming districts were filled up and the country portions have not grown in population. The demand for pioneers has ceased, and the growth henceforth will be in the cities and towns, and not in the country until such a time as the cities will be compelled to expand or the people congregating therein will be enabled to seek the country to make a living. There may also come a time when the large farms will be divided up among members of the family and when it will pay better to farm on a small rather than on a large scale. If the land can be subdivided into small tracts, as in many parts of Europe, Iowa and Linn county will be able to feed a much larger population and at greater ease than can the exhausted lands of the old countries.

The soil in Iowa is as rich today and will if well cared for produce more today than it did some forty years ago. The farmers will now devote more of their time to make the farms yield more and not in the purchase of more lands as heretofore. What the modern farmer is now up against is better markets, cheaper freight charges, more local manufacturing, and increased commercial conveniences.

For many years after the lands were taken up and cultivated the farmers were unable to get rid of their products. There were no other markets than the local ones. Robert Ellis had tried the experiment of running flat boats down the river and had returned without any profits. Holmes, the Higley Brothers, Daniels, and others built flat boats at Ivanhoe and shipped wheat in the early spring down the Cedar and made a little money. But there was more or less risk, and much labor was expended, and the returns were not always satisfactory. Many teamed and hauled dressed pork, wheat, and barley to the Mississippi river, mostly to Muscatine, but after the driver returned and figured up his expenses and the cost of a few groceries and a calico dress for the wife, he had little left with which to pay interest and tax on the land.

The farmer was kept busy in paying taxes and breaking up and fencing more land. To do these things and keep his family was all he could hope to accomplish. The business man who had come here was without funds, and interest rates were high. He could not borrow enough to carry out his scheme of factory building, as he had expected. Saw mills and grist mills were erected so as to supply the local trade with enough materials for building, and enough food to live on, but that was all. The cost of transportation was high, and the cost of anything like luxuries was so great that it was out of the question to purchase any. As late as 1855 there were no markets and no means to ship anything out except by flat boats early in the spring of the year when the water was high. N. B. Brown started the first woolen mill as early as 1848. This was later disposed of to the Bryan family, but the mill never was a real success. There was no demand for the goods and the expense was too high to ship the raw products in and the finished products out. To haul any amount in a farm wagon a hundred miles over poor roads, subject to all kinds of weather, is not a success to the hauler nor to the man who hires him.

A Fairfax Pioneer
J. J. DANIELS Early Linn County Official J. J. DANIELS
Early Linn County Official
L. J. PALDA Cedar Rapids L. J. PALDA
Cedar Rapids

[Pg 97]

Even after the railroad was brought to Cedar Rapids the people did not realize that there was any other but a local market for any product. During the early years of the war, from 1862-3, the people awoke to a realization that it would pay to get in touch with a larger market, and the Chicago prices on stuff began to be quoted. R. D. Stephens built an elevator at Marion and began sending corn to the river. Cattle and hogs began to go up in price, and soon the people realized that the railroad was not built to carry passengers only, but freight as well, and that on a large scale.

In 1866 the number of acres assessed was 452,486, and the land, exclusive of towns and villages, amounted to $3,012,754. The assessment for Linn county in 1878 was 449,774 acres, $5,127,133. The actual valuation in 1855 was about three and one-half millions, while in 1900 the taxable valuation of the county was something over twelve millions.

Butter and cheese making were at one time businesses which made the farmers much money, but not till they learned how to prepare good butter and get a market established for it. Soon agents came to Iowa looking over the crops, and presently few towns were without local agents who handled stock and grain on a commission basis.

Henceforth it was the Chicago market and not the local market that governed, and the railroads were loaded down many seasons of the year in hauling train load after train load of corn and wheat and cattle and hogs, the property of the Iowa farmers. Iowa became in a short time the food producing state in the Mississippi Valley and has so remained till this day.

It was the productiveness of the soil, the manner in which the soil was prepared and the prices for farm products that made the land valuable. And it was the outside market that made farm produce worth the price it was for a local market cannot do this. The Chicago market has become the world market on many commodities, and lucky is the person who owns lands within a safe radius of such a market.

[Pg 98]


Rural Life

The rural life of the pioneers in Linn county was much the same as it was in any of the adjoining counties in eastern Iowa. The settlers were intelligent, young, active, and enthusiastic, believing in the future of the new State. The men were able to do nearly all kinds of mechanical work without any help or assistance, while the women were equally dextrous in spinning, weaving, and doing all kinds of house work. They were all clad in homespun and no false standards were maintained by the so-called well-to-do.

Wheat was the product for many years until the pest took it, and Indian corn was grown. It was soon found that wheat was expensive to raise, as seed was high, the cost of harvesting expensive, and frequently a shower or a storm when the wheat was ripe destroyed a great deal of it, so the farmer's summer work at times would be entirely gone. It cost less to raise corn, and in course of time a market was found for it, although it scarcely ever sold for more than 30 cents a bushel.

"In ye olden times" master and servant had no trouble. They ate at the same table, worked side by side during the day, and it was a sort of partnership affair throughout the season from the early spring until the crops were gathered in the fall. During the entire season the hired man had handled scarcely a dollar and he had taken up at the village store on credit in the master's name goods that would not exceed in value ten or fifteen dollars. While it has been often stated that in the pioneer days the men were overworked and underpaid, which might be true in part, still during these formative years, when everything was new, and there were no classes, all settlers were on the same level—socially and financially. It was not long until the hired man had worked long enough to get sufficient money to make a first payment on a farm, and in a few years the renter became a land owner and well fixed.

The scattered settlers during the early years of their residence in Linn county relied on their own ingenuity for everything they needed; thus, they were their own blacksmiths, cabinet makers, carpenters, tanners, stone masons, and shoe makers. They would tan their own leather, shoe their own horses and oxen, make their own crude harness, and get along and be satisfied. While they would depend on the village blacksmith and on the wagon maker, roads were impassable in the spring of the year and a yoke of oxen was not the swiftest means of getting to and from a town twenty-five or thirty miles away. Hence a farmer who had any ingenuity at all, would rather do his own work in a crude way, than have to go to town to get anything repaired which was broken.

Much amusement was also had in the early days in the various communities where men and women enjoyed meeting together at social functions. There were quilting bees, spelling schools, barn raisings, log rolling, debating schools, singing schools, and many other gatherings which frequently ended with a barn dance or a house warming supper, provided by the host and hostess.

The winter season in "ye olden times" was not an easy time of it by any means, for the pioneers went to the timber early in the morning and would stay all day and until late at night, cutting wood, making rails and getting big logs to the saw mills. It mattered not what was the kind of weather, the young man would start off to the timber with the thermometer frequently at from twenty-five to thirty below zero. Sometimes it would be pleasant in the morning when they started out, but frequently a severe blizzard would come up before night, and[Pg 99] many were the frozen hands and ears they would bring home to thaw out late at night, having been out all day in the most severe weather. But as soon as it was over it was forgotten, and the next day or the next week the young man would again repeat the same performance.

While the men were strong, active, and hardworking, the women were equally active, persevering and industrious. The girls always took care of the milk and butter; the straining of the milk was done by the slough well or in a dark mud cellar, with no stone in it, and which always kept caving in until the entire house had to be put on pillars. The wife frequently had the family washing out by sunrise and the hired girl, if the family could afford one, would work side by side with her mistress and would do both inside and outside work if needed. No one was afraid to work: in fact they were all proud of what they had accomplished.

There were not many varieties of dishes on the table in pioneer days, and still the settlers had plenty of good, wholesome food, and were always hungry. Salt pork, johnny cake, honey, and game were the customary foods of the farmer in ye olden times. They scarcely ever tasted fresh meat from spring until fall, unless some of the boys shot a little game now and then. The settlers were companionable, good natured, and contented. They traded cattle, horses, mules, and at times farms, only now and then would trouble arise as one would accuse another of smart dealings, and a lawsuit would ensue. It is related of an itinerant preacher who purchased a yoke of oxen from one of the deacons in the church, that while he was testing the oxen on a hot Sunday driving to church with his family, the yoke squatted down in a mud hole and remained there and it was impossible to move them at all. The preacher spied the deacon coming to church and was not slow in telling him what he thought of him as well as the oxen he had sold him. The deacon was not at all worried but replied, "parson, you must not forget to swear at 'em, that is the only thing they know," and drove on as though not at all offended by the remarks of the preacher.

In the early days the farmers had no cisterns, no wind mills, no deep wells. Rain water was gathered in barrels which dried up in summer and froze solid in winter, so the house wife had scarcely any rain water either summer or winter. The well was generally a ten foot shallow well dug down by the slough, poorly planked, and frequently it caved in; another well was dug much in the same manner as the old one, the new well soon meeting with the same ending as the former one.

There were few, if any, barns in the olden times and straw thatched sheds and stables were universally used. These stables were moved frequently for the reason that the farmers failed to haul out the manure which accumulated, finding that it was easier and cheaper to move the stable than to haul away the manure. Nearly all of the hay was stacked out doors and had to be cut and hauled away in order to be fed to the cattle.

The farmers were slow and backward in many things. They possessed no spirit of restlessness and took things coolly, relying, it seems, on the old adage which says that "he who drives with oxen also gets there." While they early built fairly good houses, they were slow in erecting buildings and comfortable places for their horses and cattle, and it was many years before they began to erect sheds and buildings for their machinery. Wagons without spring seats sold at from $100.00 to $125.00; reapers and mowing machines were very expensive and they were generally only a few of these in each neighborhood. The household furniture was cheap and simple; there were no such things as furnaces or hard coal burners. Mostly old stoves were in use for the burning of wood, and these perhaps were second hand, or at least had seen better days.

The young man in pioneer days generally started out in life with an ox team, a breaking plow, and a wagon. The wages for breaking were from $1.00 to $2.00[Pg 100] an acre, and when he was not breaking he would often be running a threshing machine or working in the saw mill or in the timber getting out logs. When ox teams were used for breaking, it took one to drive and one to hold the plow in the ground. A person generally broke more land than he could fence, and it was no use to sow wheat and not fence, for in those days the law permitted cattle and horses to run at large.

Corn was not cultivated on the new ground to any extent, except that each one raised enough corn for his own use but no more. The corn was generally put in by hand, plowed only once or twice with a single shovel plow pulled by one old nag.

In the early days all the cooking was done by the open fireplace; such an article as a stove was not much known. Corn bread and pork, with rye coffee, formed the average bill of fare at the wayside inn and at the farm house. The boarders actually preferred pork to venison; they got tired of game—it was so plentiful. Many a pioneer farmer could shoot from five to ten deer near his door before breakfast.

In ye olden times nearly everyone would attend church, especially in summer. While many did not belong to any church, yet they were all interested in it. They supported the churches to the best of their ability. The influence of the country church did much in making this a county which still shows the effect of the early training and of the efforts of itinerant preachers and laymen who went from place to place visiting the scattered congregations. Such preachers as Troup, Searles, Ingham, J. Hodges, Hayden, Twing, Maxin, Dudley, Rankin, Boal, Cunningham, Keeler, Phelps, Roberts, Jones, Elias Skinner, Father Emmons and many of the early itinerant ministers did much to build up churches in this county. Then there were a number of laymen in various denominations who maintained in part some of the associations themselves, such as Tom Lewis, Levi Lewis, Chandler Jordan, Henry Rogers, and the Kurtzes, Runkles, Shueys, and many of the early settlers in and around Lisbon. The community around Mt. Vernon was also much influenced by the college atmosphere and by the itinerant preachers who visited the scattered members in Franklin township. These are only a few of many such communities where an interest was kept up in the small country churches where large congregations gathered weekly for meditation and for prayer. Many old pioneer families did much to help the church.

One can converse with the old pioneer now, and he still loves to recall the old times, the old haunts and the wayside places. It was by some rail fence that a rural maiden had whispered to him as a young man, that the pain in her heart no human touch but his own could heal. It was here loved ones had spoken as they chattered away in childish whispers, when he came home from ended labors, and it was here that he took his family on Sunday to the little church where they all bowed silently in prayer, full of the faith and the hope which made his heart strong and his footsteps light. The simple mode of living in Linn county in an early date made strong men and courageous women. They were brought up to withstand the temptations of life and to despise the false veneer of a later generation. They lived up to the ideals of their way of thinking, and left sturdy families who grew up in the simple ways of the pioneer, themselves dutiful sons and daughters of the old settlers who came here in any early day to make homes for themselves and their descendants.

Truly, the pioneers should be remembered for what they accomplished, for well might they sing with the poet:

"Fading away like the stars of the morning,
Losing our light in the rising sun;
Thus would we pass from the earth and its toiling
Only remembered by what we have done."


[Pg 101]


A Hero of the Canadian Rebellion

What promised to have been a war to death in Linn county in the early '40s terminated because one of our old settlers, then a young man, said what he knew to be the fact and was willing to back it up with force. The interesting story is as follows: Political dissension had prevailed in Canada since 1820, and an open rebellion broke out in 1837. In lower Canada it began among the French settlers who wanted equality and their rights as Frenchmen, while in upper Canada it was brought about by leaders of the radical party insisting on a democratic form of government. The rebellion was lead by Lyon Mackenzie, a native of Scotland who had taken up journalism in Canada. The spirit of rebellion extended also into the United States, and many so-called filibusters joined the insurrectionists from a spirit of adventure. The papers mentioned in lengthy articles these so-called leaders, one especially being given much notoriety, one William Johnson, who, after the rebellion was put down, lived on one of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence and evaded capture. His daughter, Kate, it was said, brought him food and the soldiers were unable to locate the hiding place of this rebel who defied the government militia.

Robert Ellis met this so-called Bill Johnson at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, in 1842. Johnson asserted with a great deal of gusto that he had escaped from the Islands and was going to make his home among the free people out on the borders. He was accompanied by a woman he claimed to be his daughter who received as much attention as the valiant soldier himself. Johnson drifted into Ft. Atkinson and finally located on a claim two miles above Quasqueton, on the north bank of the Wapsie river. Here he became a sort of feudal lord, told exaggerated stories about his valor, and was surrounded by a number of frontier soldiers who claimed to have fought in the war of 1812, as well as in the Canadian rebellion. For a time Captain Bill Johnson was idolized as no other person in this part of Iowa, and it is certain that his daughter Kate was laid siege to by more than one border hero under the guise of suitor.

It was not long until the arrogant ways of Captain Bill Johnson, who jumped a claim, offended an old settler by the name of Henry Bennett, who resided near Quasqueton, and who was one of the first settlers in that community. Attempted arrests were made pro and con, but the Bennett party was successful and they drove Captain Johnson out of the community, after a sound flogging. He drifted into Marion and put up at the Phillips Hotel, telling stories of Bennett's abuse, how his property had been taken, and how he had been driven out of the county like a criminal. He wanted redress. The good people of Marion believed these stories, and soon a company was organized and provided with weapons of war to surround Bennett and demand restitution. A number of the old settlers of Marion were mustered into this company, such as George Patterson, Col. Durham, and others of the well known residents. It was in the winter of 1843, but that did not keep any of the company away from a forced march to Quasqueton. Bennett had friends and admirers also, and being made aware of the proposed attack he fortified his camp, laid in a supply of food, and had his guns ready. The attacking party demanded restitution, but the old man shook his head and told them to come on. The besiegers had to camp out, while Bennett's followers were well housed and warm. Finally the attacking army ran out of provisions,[Pg 102] and after a council of war in which the peace loving spirit prevailed, they decided to return to the quiet haunts of Marion.

Johnson still kept up his abuse of Bennett and his friends, and when that did not satisfy would resort to tales of his wonderful escapades on the St. Lawrence and how he had evaded the British officers with the assistance of his daughter, Kate. The good people at first entertained him as a guest, and he was always willing to accept of their hospitality, but stories were circulated that this so-called daughter, Kate, was not his daughter at all. But Bill Johnson still remained, having a number of supporters.

One night Robert Ellis entered the Phillips Hotel while Johnson was heaping abuse on the Bennett party and on the courts of Iowa, telling Gen. James Wilson, who was surveyor-general of the territory, the story of his abuse. He said, that the day before he and his crowd had tracked Bennett as far as Delhi where the party escaped, being assisted by William Abbe, a prominent settler of Linn county. This was too much for Ellis, and he replied as follows: "That is not true, as Wm. Abbe drove from Ft. Atkinson with me, and we arrived in Marion today, and we were together all of the time." Johnson was full of "wrath and cabbage." He arose and in a much injured manner said, "You might as well call me a liar as to say that," to which Ellis replied, "If that suits you any better I can call you a liar, because that is what you are, if you want us to believe what you have been saying here tonight. You have been telling lies about my friend Abbe." Johnson pulled off his coat and was about to strike him, when Mr. Ellis spied a hickory stick in the wood box. With that he went after Johnson, who quietly retreated, put on his coat, engaged in conversation with Wilson, and the matter for the time dropped. The story leaked out that this Canadian boaster was nothing but a coward, and there were grave doubts as to whether or not he was the person he claimed to be. Finally so much opposition arose against him that he left Marion—much to the satisfaction of the people of the county for they had seen and heard things which reflected against Johnson's relations with his so-called daughter.

In 1849 Robert Ellis drifted into the gold camps of Sacramento Valley on the American river, and who should he find out there but the daughter of Bill Johnson, now the wife of one of the miners. He learned that Bill Johnson had drifted into Southern Iowa and Missouri, where he assumed his old attitude, expecting free board and considerable consideration, but the pioneers in that community had to be "shown" and cared not much for what Johnson had been; the question was what he was then. A suitor in Mahaska county came to see his alleged daughter, but Bogus Johnson opposed and threatened him with dire disaster if he came within shooting distance. The suitor was not at all scared, having lived on the frontier longer than Johnson. The woman may have regretted the double life she had been living, and perhaps with her assistance—no one knows—Johnson was killed in a quarrel by the suitor, it was alleged, and prosecutions followed. The suitor and Kate after a long trial then drifted to California, and there Robert Ellis found them and heard the story that Captain Bill Johnson, once the terror of this part of Iowa, was a bogus Bill Johnson, and the light haired Kate was not the Kate of story and fiction at all. If it had not been for the obstreperous Bennett on the Wapsie and for the hickory stick in the hands of Robert Ellis bogus Bill Johnson might have terrorized this community much longer than he did.

Another story was also told shortly after Johnson left by one of Johnson's henchmen, an old soldier, which shows the bad character and disposition of Johnson. William Abbe, one of the early settlers, and at one time a member of the legislature of Iowa, being in the employ of the government, having a contract to deliver provisions at Ft. Atkinson, was about to return to his home in Linn Grove, which fact was known to Johnson. The soldier related after Johnson's[Pg 103] hasty departure that he and Johnson had entered into an agreement to blackmail Abbe and get some money out of him by inviting Abbe to remain in the Johnson cabin over night and then to threaten Abbe that he had assaulted the daughter of Johnson while accepting of his hospitality. Johnson was to remain in hiding while the soldier was set out on the trail to watch for Abbe and invite him to the cabin. This was done and the soldier sat out in the timber watching for Abbe during the afternoon and evening, but fortunately Abbe failed to make his appearance as expected and the deep laid plan fell through.

Bill Johnson, whatever he may have been, was certainly an expert in his line and seemed to ingratiate himself into the good graces of many prominent people. He obtained the assistance and help of Governor Chambers, as well as Surveyor-General James Wilson, and many others in the various law suits which he had with the members of the Bennett party. General Wilson, as is well known, was a native of New Hampshire and on account of the personal friendship of Daniel Webster had been appointed to this office by President Harrison. Webster had intended to slate his friend Wilson for Governor of Iowa, but Harrison had appointed his private secretary and former aide-de camp, Colonel John Chambers. Thus General Wilson had to accept the only vacancy left, that of surveyor-general. On his trip over Iowa, General Wilson was accompanied by his daughter, Mary E. Wilson, better known as Mrs. John Sherwood, who later became one of the best known writers and society women on two continents. It was at Marion, according to the report of Robert Ellis, that Johnson first met General Wilson and that the friendship sprang up between them, and it seemed as though Johnson had known a number of Wilson's relatives and a great many of the prominent men in New England. It is thought, of course, that Johnson imposed upon General Wilson and no doubt used the names of parties he had known of in some way to further his own selfish purposes.

The following may be quoted from the History of Washington County. Vol. I, p. 326, as told by H. A. Burrell:

"A Mahaska county murder case of Job Peck, the murderer of Wm. Johnson, came here on a change of venue September 9, 1843; it was a melodrama: A cultivated Canadian revolutionist, a beautiful girl Kit claiming to be his daughter, horsethieves, etc., being the personć dramatis, an elopement and kidnapping constituting the action of the piece. The Canuck was shot in his cabin and a lover of Kit was held for the crime. Kit was spirited to Pittsburg, Pa., and the lover proved an alibi; he had married Kit near Fairfield. While in jail here he did not know his bride's whereabouts nor for several months after, but he finally found her with fine people. They lived near Oskaloosa for years when they went to California. Who she was, was never known; she denied that Johnson was her father; he may have been her husband. After Peck's death she married again and had a noble family and was called the Queen of the Thousand Isles—in oil business. Johnson was the subject of state correspondence between the United States and England. A British subject, he revolted, turned renegade and spy in 1812, and robbed the mails to get information. Both countries offered a reward for him and he fled to the Isles."

How much truth there is in the above it is difficult to say. It is at least based on hearsay. Colonel Durham knew Johnson well and was one of his friends in the Quasqueton affair, and Robert Ellis also knew him, as well as the members of the Abbe family. Whether Johnson was a Canadian or a citizen of the United States or had anything to do with the war of 1812 is uncertain. At least in Linn county he claimed to be the Bill Johnson of Canadian fame. For that reason he introduced this young woman as his daughter to carry out the story, as the original Johnson did have a daughter who carried news as well as food to him in his hiding.

[Pg 104]

To supplement the above account may be mentioned the following from the "Early History of Dubuque," as written by L. H. Langworthy, and printed in the Iowa Journal of History and Politics, July, 1910:

"In 1843 a most ludicrous affair occurred. A villainous fellow palmed himself upon the people of Buchanan county as the renowned patriot and celebrated hero of the Thousand Isles, Bill Johnson. This man, with his daughter Miss Kate Johnson, was suspected, it seems, of being any other than the far-famed Canadian patriot, by the citizens of Buchanan county, who thought fit to take Johnson out in the night, tie him to a tree and whip him severely with fifty lashes on his naked back. The offenders were arraigned before Judge Wilson. The court house was crowded by hundreds of eager spectators who listened with intense interest to the proceedings: all anxious to see the laws of our country administered faithfully. The prisoners' names were Evans, Spencer, Parrish, and Rowley, charged with burglary and riot. It appeared that these defendants accompanied by several other white men and five or six Indians after lynching Johnson, ordered him and his daughter to pack up their goods and be off in two hours, and not to return at the peril of their lives. Great sympathy was felt for this Johnson and the two tender females of his household, who were thrown out in the depth of winter and obliged to travel twenty-five miles over a cold and bleak prairie; so cold that it froze one of the lynchers themselves to death, another lost his feet, and several others were severely frozen. The citizens here declared that Johnson looked as if he was born to command, and betokened in every action that he was the same old Bill Johnson, the hero of the Thousand Isles, the Canadian patriot, and the great friend of human liberty and republican institutions; while all the young bloods of the town declared that Miss Kate Johnson was a very intelligent and interesting young lady, with rare accomplishments, agreeable manners and the worthy daughter of a gallant sire. The case was conducted on the part of the prosecution by James Crawford and General James Wilson; on the part of the defense by James Churchman and I. M. Preston: the counsel on both sides in their speeches were truly eloquent, they were fine efforts of legal talent, and so great was the interest taken in this trial that the ladies attended in goodly numbers until a late hour at night, determined to hear all the proceedings and speeches to which the occasion gave rise. Miss Kate Johnson received great attention and unequalled admiration as the celebrated heroine and daughter of the renowned patriot of the Thousand Isles. The jury after being out a short time returned a verdict of guilty; one was sentenced to the penitentiary for two years and the others to a fine of two hundred dollars, which imprisonment and fines however were afterwards remitted; for lo, and behold! the next thing we hear of the hero of the isles, is that he has grossly imposed himself upon the citizens of the place, he being a different man altogether from the Bill Johnson whom he represented, of a different name and style of character, a great thief and scoundrel. Letters were received showing these facts. The next news received from him by our crestfallen beaux of Dubuque, was that a Mr. Peck, a respectable man in Mahaska county, the place to which the family had removed, fell in love with Johnson's daughter, the heroic Kate, who returned his love. But old Bill would not give his consent to the marriage. So the two turtles fled to an adjoining county where they were united in bonds matrimonial. It was some time before the reputed father knew where his reputed daughter had gone. But as soon as he did, he pursued her and entered the house of Peck with pistol in hand and took her away unmolested. But a few days afterwards while Johnson was sitting in his own house he was shot through the heart with a rifle ball from between the chinks of the logs. Peck was arrested, but on trial acquitted. The lineage of the heroine was traced back to an obscure family in Ohio, her history and romance closing alike in contempt and infamy.

Built in 1847 Near Springville

[Pg 105]

"The young swains, and especially the editorial gallants, who were so greatly enamored with the charms of Miss Katherine Johnson while in our city, often rallied each other afterwards on the subject; and some who appeared from their newspaper eulogies to be the most moon-struck while the romance lasted, and had written the largest amount of very soft poetry on the lovely daughter of the hero of the Thousand Isles, were the first to forget the object of their adoration. Alas for the fickleness of man's affection and the mutability of his attachments."

The above tells the story of how much trouble the various communities in Iowa had with bogus Bill Johnson and the various interpretations of the life and character of the outlaw and his alleged daughter. Mr. Ellis still insists that his interpretation of the life and character of this outlaw is as he tells it and no one perhaps knew the principal characters better than he did. Mr. Ellis was the first one who met Johnson in Wisconsin as he was about to emigrate into Iowa. He was one of the actors in the occurrence at the Phillips House in Marion, he was the old friend and companion of William Abbe and knew most of the men in the Bennett party, such as Evans, Parrish, Rowley, and others, and he met in California many years afterwards the heroine who had become the wife of Peck and there had a conversation with both of them. Mr. Ellis is of the opinion that when Johnson suddenly left Marion he went, to Missouri and later drifted back into Mahaska county, Iowa, where he was murdered. It was thought that Kate knew more about the murder than she let on, but living a life as she had lived it would not be best for her to tell all she knew of the various transactions with her so-called father. So far as Mr. Ellis ascertained Kate had reformed and carried herself in goodly repute among the miners of the far west where she was then known, it is said, at times as the Queen of the Thousand Isles. Her husband, it is stated, was a reputable person and had always stood well in the community up to the time of the Johnson murder, and what part, if any, he took in that no one ever knew.

Bogus Bill Johnson is said to be buried in an unknown grave in Mahaska county and no stone has ever been found that marked his last resting place.

Kate, Queen of the Thousand Isles, sleeps in one of the mountain valleys of the Sierras on the Pacific slope and no one knows just when she died or where she was buried. The dual lives of the characters in this drama ended as all such lives do end, in infamy and disgrace.

[Pg 106]


The Newspapers of the County


From the days of the early settlers until now the newspapers of Linn county have been among the most potent factors in the upbuilding of the community. They have been, as a rule, constructive newspapers. Their mission has been to build up, to help their communities grow in wealth and influence. The newspapers of the county have been noted for their sagacity and their breadth of vision, their conservatism and their tolerance. They have exerted a strong and a wholesome influence upon this and adjoining counties. In the state at large their influence for good has not been small.

The old adage that the good die young has not been true of Linn county's newspapers. The best papers today are those which were started in the earliest days of the various towns in this county. They have prospered as their respective communities have prospered. Their publishers and editors have been, for the most part, men with personal and property interests in their respective communities. That is why they have been builders and boosters. Linn county's proud position among the counties of the state, commercially, intellectually, and politically, is largely due to the fact that men of ability and integrity have worked and written and fought for the things they knew would be helpful to their constituents. And this is as true of the weekly newspapers as it is of the daily press. Very few counties in the state have had such an able corps of newspaper writers.

There were some weaklings, papers which were born and soon died. There have been a few freak newspapers. But not many. There have also been many able, brilliant young newspaper men who did good work in the Linn county editorial and newspaper offices for awhile and then left for larger fields of labor. Some of the county's ablest politicians and some of its most prominent business men have occasionally dabbled in newspapering, for the sake of some party or some pet project they were anxious to push through. That was in the earlier days. There has been very little of it in the county of late years.

In the main the newspaper men of the county have been men to the manner born, with a knowledge of the business from the ground up, men to whom the smell of printer's ink is as essential to their enjoyment of life as the scent of the sea to a sailor. If, as Elbert Hubbard tells us, art is the expression of man's joy in his work, then nine-tenths of the newspaper men of Linn county have been real artists, for they have stuck to their papers when they might have made heaps more money in some other line of business. But this love of the work so characteristic among the brethren of the Linn county press doubtless has something to do with the fact that their readable papers are read and quoted by the readers of other papers, from one end of the state to the other.

No chronological list of the newspapers of Linn county has been published, but it is interesting and instructive, and worthy of preservation in permanent form:

1851 The Progressive Era, started by D. O. Finch, in Cedar Rapids.

1852 The Prairie Star, started at Marion by A. Hoyt. Same year the name was changed to the Linn County Register, by J. H. and G. H. Jennison.

[Pg 107]

1854 Name of the Progressive Era changed to the Cedar Valley Times. J. L. Enos assumes control.

1856 Cedar Valley Farmer started in Cedar Rapids by J. L. Enos. This was a monthly agricultural paper.
Cedar Rapids Democrat, started at Cedar Rapids by W. W. Perkins & Co.

1857 The Voice of Iowa, started at Cedar Rapids by J. L. Enos. Later this was called the School Journal.

1863 Linn County Register bought by A. G. Lucas, who changes its name to the Linn County Patriot.

1864 Linn County Patriot bought by Captain S. W. Rathbun, who changes its name to the Marion Register.

1865 The Franklin Record, started at Mt. Vernon by J. T. and J. S. Rice.

1866 The name of the Franklin Record changed to the Mt. Vernon Citizen; passes into the hands of H. S. Bradshaw.

1867 The Cedar Rapids Atlas, started by A. G. Lucas. Lasted three months.

1868 Western World, started at Cedar Rapids. Republican in politics. J. L. Enos, editor.
Linn County Signal, started in Marion by F. H. Williams.
Cedar Valley Times changes its name to the Cedar Rapids Times.

1869 The Slovan-Ameriky, started in Cedar Rapids by J. B. Letovsky.
Linn County Signal moves to Cedar Rapids.
The Daily Observer, started in Cedar Rapids by J. L. Enos and T. G. Newman, father of A. H. Newman.
Linn County Hawk-Eye, started at Mt. Vernon by J. T. Rice. Purchased the same year by S. H. Bauman, and its name changed to the Mt. Vernon Hawk-Eye.

1870 The Daily Observer, which had been started as a democratic paper, changes its name to the Cedar Rapids Republican, and changes its politics to correspond.

1871 The Linn County Pilot, started by C. W. Kepler at Mt. Vernon.

1872 Name of the Cedar Rapids Republican changed to the Daily Republican.
Linn County Signal becomes the Linn County Liberal.

1873 The Lotus, started at Center Point by J. F. Wilson & Co.

1874 The Linn County Pilot moved from Mt. Vernon to Marion by A. Beatty.
The Linn County Liberal moves from Marion to Cedar Rapids and takes the name of the Standard.
The Sun started at Lisbon by J. W. Zeigenfus.

1876 The Center Point Mirror, started at Center Point by T. J. Metcalf and S. M. Dunlap.

1879 The Iowa Staats-Zeitung, started at Cedar Rapids by A. Hunt.
The Iowa Farmer, started at Cedar Rapids by Alex Charles.
The Independent, started at Springville, editions also being printed for Prairieburg and Central City.
The Stylus, started at Cedar Rapids by Ralph Van Vechten.

1882 The People, started at Cedar Rapids by A. J. Huss.
The New Era, started at Springville by J. F. Butler, passing the same year into the hands of C. S. Shanklin.

1883 The Walker News, started at Walker by David Brant.
The Daily Gazette, started in Cedar Rapids by Otis & Post.

1884 The Gazette Company organized in March and takes over the Daily Gazette. In July all the stock purchased by Fred W. Faulkes and Clarence L. Miller.
The Saturday Evening Chat, started in Cedar Rapids by A. J. Huss.
The Linn County Pilot becomes the Marion Pilot, Rev. J. W. Chaffee, editor.

1886 The Linn County Independent removes to Marion.

[Pg 108]

1888 Kvinden og Hjemmet, monthly illustrated magazine for the Norwegian and Danish women in America, with a Swedish edition, Quinnan och Hemmet, started at Cedar Rapids by N. Fr. Hansen.
The News-Letter, started at Central City.

1889 Town Topics, started in Cedar Rapids by Ernest A. Sherman.
The Monitor, started at Coggon.

1891 Saturday Record, started in Cedar Rapids by Sherman & Hatmaker.

1894 The Herald, started at Lisbon by W. F. Stahl.

1893 The Record, started at Mt. Vernon by Lloyd McCutcheon.

1902 Iowa Post brought to Cedar Rapids from Iowa City by Henry Gundling.

1903 The Tribune, established by the Cedar Rapids Federation of Labor.

1906 The Cedar Rapidske Liste, Bohemian humorous weekly.
The Optimus, started at Cedar Rapids by E. C. Barber.

1909 West Side Enterprise, started December 30th by W. I. Endicott, owner and publisher.

Much of the early history of Linn county, and more especially of Cedar Rapids, is interwoven with the history of the Progressive Era, which afterwards became the Cedar Rapids Times. The Progressive Era was established by D. O. Finch in 1851. It was democratic in politics and claimed to be devoted to the interests of Cedar Rapids and Linn county. It was a seven column, four page paper, and rather a credit to the town at that time. Worse papers have been published since.

It was but a short time until Mr. Finch had all the newspaper experience he wanted. Joseph Greene then purchased the paper and ran it until 1854. During this time Ezra Van Metre, James J. Child, Esq., and James L. Enos were successively its editors.

James L. Enos had something to do with nearly every paper that was started during the early days of Linn county. He loved the smell of printer's ink. The types had a fascination for him. He delighted to see his thoughts reproduced in print. In September, 1854, he and F. Augustus Williams purchased Mr. Greene's interest in the Progressive Era. They changed the name to the Cedar Valley Times. They changed the politics of the paper from democratic to the new Americanism of that time. Then came the organization of the republican party. Like other adherents to the American party living in the north, the editors of the Times cast in their lot with the new republican party and warmly advocated and defended the principles on which it was founded.

One J. G. Davenport figures also in the early history of the Times. He had acquired an interest in the paper, and during the campaign he was its nominal editor, although there were not wanting those who declared that he had not the ability to write a three line notice of a church supper, let alone an editorial. Anyway, he made the Times his stepping stone into the postmaster's seat, and his conduct of that office was such that an investigation of his shortages followed. His bondsmen, one of whom was the late J. J. Snouffer, made good the loss, and shortly afterwards Davenport, after some more operations of a minor character and similar nature, left Cedar Rapids.

They were rare old political fighters in those days. Politics, rather than news, was the chief end and aim of the owner of a newspaper. When Greene, Merritt & Co. closed out Davenport, having held a bill of sale on the Times office, the Times was made the personal organ of Colonel William H. Merritt in his campaign against Kirkwood. To do this it had to change from republicanism to democracy, but it waged a hot fight, Colonel Merritt being its editor. However, Kirkwood was elected and in 1862 C. M. Hollis purchased the Times and he made great success of it up to 1866 when he disposed of the paper to Ayers and McClelland.



[Pg 109]

Much might be written about some of the old printers who helped to publish those early Linn county newspapers. There has been a host of them and they have included some notable men. One was no less a personage than Mr. Rosewater, of the Omaha Bee, who once worked as a journeyman printer in the office of the Slovan-Americky. It was when he was on his way to the west. Some of the old printers have long since passed away. One of the latest of them was Stephen M. Jones, who died at Hampton four years ago. Concerning his work here in Cedar Rapids, Captain J. O. Stewart, himself one of the veteran printers of the state, writes interestingly as follows:

"Stephen Jones commenced to learn the trade in the Progressive Era office in this city, in the year 1851, serving a four years' apprenticeship, at the end of which time he went to Vinton and worked in the Eagle office, at that time conducted by Fred Layman, I believe. The office of the Progressive Era was located on the corner of First street and Third avenue, where the Warfield-Pratt-Howell wholesale building now stands, and was the first paper published in Cedar Rapids. It was an old frame building erected by the Greene brothers and formerly used as a store room. At the time of this story the lower floor front was used on Sundays by the Episcopal church for service, the printing office was overhead and the back part, three stories, including basement, was used as a store room for dressed hogs. 'Steve,' as he was called, and your correspondent were what was known as 'printer's devils.' After some years residence in Vinton Steve got about a wheelbarrow load of material and started his paper in Hampton and christened it the Hampton Chronicle, which is still among the live, able newspapers in Iowa. He was later appointed postmaster of Hampton, which position he held for twelve years.

"There is one other who would rank with us if he is still living, and he was a few years ago, on his farm near Lone Tree in Johnson county. His name is Dan Shaffer. Dan, with a Mr. Foster, whose first name I have forgotten, were employed in the office doing the work on the Iowa Supreme Court Reports by Justice George Greene, formerly of this city. This was a book of some 600 or more pages and an edition of 500 volumes. This book can be found on the shelves of many of the Iowa lawyers, especially the older practitioners. This work was all done on a Washington hand press and 500 impressions was considered a good day's work. Steve's principal business, until he was relieved by the writer, was to ink the forms from which the impressions were made. This was done by passing over the type forms two large rollers made of glue and molasses, leaving and returning onto a large wooden roller revolved by a crank at one end, which process equally distributed the ink which was applied to the two rollers by a still smaller one and designated the 'brayer'—old printers will recognize the article. For nearly two years this was the principal part of the writer's duties, interspersed with hunting up and down the banks of the river dragging out floating slabs that got away from the saw mills up at the dam, for fuel for the office, the proprietors being too poor to buy cordwood at $1.75 per cord. The paper was published by Dan O. Finch who later became distinguished as a lawyer of high ability. The last I knew of him, a few years ago, he was still living, making his home with a son some place on the Pacific coast,—Seattle, I believe. The other publisher was William Williams, son of Chief Justice Williams of this state. The material was owned by the Greene brothers. Some time later the Era office was moved to the building that stood on the corner where the Rudolph store now is. The proprietors changed hands pretty often, and finally the paper came into the hands of Robert and LeRoy McCabe, older brothers of the famous Chaplain Charles C. McCabe, who then clerked for Greene Bros. in their store under the printing office. The Masonic lodge room was in the third story of this building. While the McCabe brothers conducted the paper your correspondent graduated and started out as a full fledged journeyman printer. It may be of interest to the craft of the day to give your correspondent's salary. The first year he was to receive $35, second $50, third $75, and the fourth the princely sum of $100.[Pg 110] Out of this he was supposed to pay his board and furnish his clothing. The first job he secured after his apprenticeship was $10 per week and pay his own board. This was in the year 1856.

"The tramping jour. printers of those days, like Bret Harte's Heathen Chinee, were peculiar. As a class they were the best of workmen; bright and intelligent, knowing the 'art preservative' thoroughly, but possessed of that roving disposition so common to all printers of that time, and many of them given to drink. They would work for a time and get a little ahead and then get on a 'toot' and seek newer fields. They often resorted to peculiar methods to procure a job. I recall an incident while I was yet the 'devil' of the Era office. It was on the day we were moving the office to the new quarters. The heavy press and material had to be skidded from the second floor to the ground through a large door in the front of the building. When the heavier part of the press was partly down a rather tall, strong built, intelligent looking man put in an appearance. He watched the process for a short time not saying a word. Finally he took from his pocket a slip of dirty paper and wrote on it 'don't you need some help?' and handed it to the proprietor, Mr. Robert McCabe. He was asked if he could talk. His reply was simply by signs indicating that he was deaf and dumb. He proved an excellent help and stayed for more than three months, never indicating that he could speak. He was a skilled printer, but cross and particular, and often we 'devils' called him hard names to his face. But his time had come and he must have his periodical, and he did. He threw his money to the kids on the streets and had a jolly time, never once indicating he could speak. About the third day he came into the office and took Mr. McCabe to the lodge room above and wrote: 'What will they do to me if I talk?' Being assured that he would not be harmed and to the astonishment of the boss he reached out his hand and exclaimed, 'How are you, Bob?' The same surprise was waiting for the rest of us, and you may be assured we 'devils,' who had been giving him such choice names, were looking for a chance to hide. He soon left and I never heard of him again.

"As I have said, the publishers changed often, and for some time after the McCabe brothers left the paper it was hard to tell just who did manage the paper, the Greenes owning the material. After many vicissitudes, which all the papers of that early day had to pass through, it fell into the hands of Joseph Davenport, a practical printer who associated with him James L. Enos, well known and well remembered by the earlier settlers, who changed the name of the paper and re-christened it the Cedar Valley Times. Later it was changed to the Cedar Rapids Times, and was, after changing hands many times, finally owned by Dr. McClelland and L. M. Ayers, who published it for years, when it finally died of old age, owned and published by Dr. McClelland. The old Progressive Era was the original progenitor of your present Daily Times."

Full of interest are those old files of the Times which deal with the beginning of the war period in the history of Linn county. There is the description of a "democratic field day" in Cedar Rapids, October 10, 1860, when Stephen A. Douglas came over from Iowa City and spoke to the multitude. Bands came from Vinton and Mt. Vernon; drum corps from Bertram and Cedar Rapids. A local merchant bought a barrel of good whiskey, diluted it sufficiently to accommodate the capacity of the six thousand who made up the audience, sold all of it and counted the meeting as the best thing which ever had happened in Cedar Rapids. There was a parade of the "Wide-awakes" that night, and the visiting bands remained over to furnish a part of the inspiration. There were big posters, beginning with the couplet

"O, dinna ye hear the slogan, boys?
'Tis Douglas and his men."

[Pg 111]

That gave the editor of the Times an opportunity to write the first scare head which ever appeared in a Cedar Rapids newspaper. With the true newspaper instinct he remembered that slogan and used it for a sting at the end of the headline. This was the headline the week of the election:



Shout the Glad Tidings, Exultingly Sing; Old Abe is Elected and Cotton Ain't King—Secession Rebuked—Popular Sovereignty Now Here—Fusion Worse Confounded—The Bell Tolling for the Dead—Union Preserved—Dinna Ye Hear the Slogan."

Mr. C. M. Hollis, who was editor of the Cedar Valley Times from 1862 to 1866, gives an illuminating insight into the history of Linn county during the early days of the war:

"My office in Cedar Rapids was naturally the meeting place of politicians. There the men who controlled or sought to control got together and talked plainly. And the plain talk of politicians is very different from the phrasings which they use in public speeches. It was thus that our Linn county leaders reasoned. 'This war is becoming something in which the whole people have intense interest. They will judge of men from the fact of participation or opposition. When the struggle is over the men who control in politics will be those who have been soldiers.' And so these men went after commissions. They were wise and far-seeing and reaped reward of their prudence as well as of their valor. I saw the commission of one Linn county man made out for the majoralty in an Iowa regiment, not only before the regiment had been organized, but even before a single company had been raised. I saw another for a colonelcy, fixed out ahead in the same way, by reason of political grace and pull. Not but what these men, and others, made good officers. I am only explaining the reasoning which prompted some of them to enter service, and the means which were most efficacious in securing prominent places.

"And after a time it was considered that to get a high commission was tantamount to drawing a big political prize. Men were thus rewarded for their assistance given to successful candidates, and opponents found their way to army prominence beset with many obstacles. You know that a movement was started in Linn county to defeat Kirkwood for governor for the second term. This developed considerable strength, and a ticket was nominated with William H. Merritt of Cedar Rapids at its head. Merritt had been lieutenant-colonel of the First Iowa, and his was known as the 'fusion' ticket. It was an attempt to combine 'war democrats' and some elements of the republican party. Kirkwood was successful, and those men who had sought his defeat were, naturally, persona non grata with the state government. When commissions were going they were not remembered. Seymour D. Carpenter was one of these. But he did finally become surgeon of a regiment, because there was crying need for surgeons. Then when he was away from gubernatorial influence promotion was rapid, and the doctor was given a position as medical director of a department. Ellsworth N. Bates was another who suffered because of participation in the anti-Kirkwood movement. Mr. Bates persisted, however, and his merits and standing could not be ignored. He was elected captain of a company. With his regiment he served with more than usual credit, until he sickened and came home to die. There were others in Cedar Rapids and in Linn county who had similar experiences. Some of those who are still living, if they would but give full statements, would verify my remark[Pg 112] that the proportion of politics mixed with the patriotism of those times was greater than is generally known.

"Speaking of Ellsworth N. Bates recalls to mind one whose name deserves to be remembered in Cedar Rapids and in Linn county. He came to the town fresh from college. He was a real scholar and a man of rare natural abilities. He had the art of making friends—of gaining and retaining esteem of all who knew him. He was one of the very best public speakers I have ever heard—quick to respond to varying occasion, with ready thought and a phenomenal command of language. His choice of words and use of appropriate imagery made his addresses models of their kind. As a lawyer he met with instant success. He represented Linn county in the legislature, and was acknowledged as a strong man among the law-makers. He made a splendid fight for the state senatorship candidacy, against H. G. Angle. He was assistant secretary of the second constitutional convention of Iowa. When the war broke out he was one of those who did much to rouse sentiment for support of the government. Then he raised Company A of the Twentieth, and proved himself a real soldier in camp and field. When he came home, near to death, he had lost none of his old enthusiasm. He and I were intimate friends, and to me he told his plans for the future. Had E. N. Bates lived, I know that he would have ranked among the real statesmen of Iowa. As it was he accomplished more and had greater influence upon contemporaneous affairs than many whose deeds are very carefully preserved."

Mr. Hollis also tells us how newspapers were made in that awful period of the nation's history:

"We were not sensationalists in those days. The events that we had to chronicle needed no trickery of headlines or large type to command attention. Here are the lists of dead and wounded in an Iowa regiment at the battle of Winchester," and the old editor opened a file of the Times for 1864-65. "Do you think it needed a flaming poster effect to secure reading of that column? There are the names of friends and neighbors. To some of the readers of that paper those names represented their dearest ones. Those who had brothers or fathers, or sons or sweethearts in that regiment read over the battle lists with a fearful anxiety. We were giving weekly chronicle of facts—they have not yet been arranged into the order of definite history. When we wrote editorials it was not pretended that we understood all there was to the struggle. Only when and where we caught the partial views or grasped the immediate meaning of some development we gave our opinions. These may have been prejudiced by our personal sentiments or our political affiliations, but I believe, as a rule, the editorial utterances of those years were from the souls of the writers and had the ring of sincerity. And, with but few exceptions, the newspapers of Iowa were loyal. They directed or seconded loyal sentiment on all occasions. Few of the editors of those weeklies gained wealth or distinction, but they deserve to be remembered for a splendid work. They, too, are among 'the forgotten worthies.' It cost money to run even a weekly paper during the war years. When I began as publisher of the Times print paper cost $6 a bundle; before the war was over I was paying $16 for the same quality and amount. And wages ran up and up, as printers were more difficult to secure; until I was paying double what I had first found necessary."

At the close of the war the newspapers of the county began to turn their attention to other evils. A wave of temperance sentiment swept the county, and some of the editors were foremost among the fighters. The county was aroused by the great amount of crime. Much of it emanated from Cedar Rapids. "Can we expect," asked one writer in Cedar Rapids, "peace and quiet in a place of 3,000 inhabitants which supports not fewer than nineteen liquor establishments and several houses of ill fame and does not support a single reading room nor a public library?"

Long Prominent in Cedar Rapids

[Pg 113]

Then, as now, the newspapers were the best "boosters" of their respective communities. They were the first to point out the advantages in each community and to suggest ways in which natural advantages might lead to commercial growth and civic prosperity. Thus a writer in a Cedar Rapids paper, after enumerating and commending the progress made by the town since its organization, dwelt upon the value of the water power, pointed out how the woolen mills then in operation might be made more effective. There was an abundance of timber around Cedar Rapids at that time and he advocated the establishment of saw mills in the city. He saw no reason why staves should be brought all the way from Michigan to Cedar Rapids, when they might as well be manufactured here at home. He advocated that a packing house be established in this city, instead of shipping the hogs from Cedar Rapids to Chicago and then shipping the meat back. "This is only one item that would keep thousands of dollars in our town that now go out," he argued. He wanted a hub and a spoke factory, a fanning mill factory, and as for a "paper mill there is no better point in the state."

History moves in ever repeating cycles and some of the things for which this old editor fought are still needed today in Cedar Rapids and in other towns of Linn county. But each cycle is better than the last. Proof of this is seen in the dispute which was waged over freight rates less than a decade after the Chicago, Iowa & Nebraska Railway had been built into this city. The grain rates from Cedar Rapids to Chicago were thirty cents a hundred pounds and the noise of protest which was made then was quite similar to the noise which is sometimes


The newspaper graveyard was established very early in the history of the county and it is still claiming its victims. Among its early victims was the Cedar Rapids Democrat. It was issued by W. W. Perkins & Co. Somehow or other, democracy never flourished greatly in the Linn county newspaper field, and the early democratic editors had not learned the art of switching to a "progressive" side. So their papers died. The Democrat lived a year and a half. It deserved a better fate, for it was well edited and printed.

In 1853 a monthly agricultural paper called the Cedar Valley Farmer was commenced by James L. Enos. It lived through the first volume, but a grave was opened for it before it had reached the tender age of two years.

The Voice of Iowa was commenced in January, 1857, under the auspices of the Iowa Teachers and Phonetic associations, James L. Enos editor-in-chief, assisted by a board of corresponding editors. It was continued through two volumes and was then merged with another journal.

In the autumn of 1864 A. G. Lucas & Co. commenced the publication of the Cedar Rapids Atlas. In January, 1865, it was changed to a weekly. Then it was enlarged. Its place in the newspaper graveyard was prepared a few weeks later. The editor and publisher had gone to study the geography of other fields, but he did not take his debts with him. The office was sold to satisfy them. This so weakened the shoulders of the Atlas that it was not strong enough to hold up.

The Western World was born into a cold and unresponsive world, and soon it joined the ranks of the dear departed.

Then came the Linn County Signal which its authors hoped would be a signal success. But its signals became tangled and it failed to kick over the goal of success. It kicked the bucket instead. T. G. Newman, the father of A. H. Newman of the Cedar Rapids Candy Company, purchased the remains. From them[Pg 114] he made the office of the Daily Observer, with J. L. Enos as editor. From the Observer came the Cedar Rapids Republican. This was in 1870. In 1902 there was re-born the Cedar Rapids Times. The father Republican and the strong and lusty son Times are both in the full vigor of their powers, and this evolution of the two powerful dailies from the amoeba-like weakly Signal is the most conspicuous example of newspaper evolution and the survival of the fittest on record.

The present Cedar Rapids Times is not to be confounded with the Cedar Rapids Weekly Times which had such a long and prosperous growth under the management of Editor Hollis, and later of the good Doctor McClelland. The Weekly Times lived until the death of Doctor McClelland, and it was a power for good. Then came two gentlemen from Milwaukee who converted it into a daily. They had a great run as long as their cash and their credit held out. And they were good newspaper men, too. But they drew nearer and nearer the gateway to the great and yawning newspaper graveyard. There were many mourners in Cedar Rapids when the Times was buried. It had been purified before its death by its conspicuous work in a great tent revival conducted by an evangelist, M. B. Williams. This revival the other dailies refused even to mention. The Times had a great deal of broadcloth endorsement. But the eulogies proved to be its premature obituaries. Cash came slowly. Advertising was coy. With the fall of the leaves came the death of the Times. The Gazette bought up the household furnishings, the subscription lists and the good will. But the Times was buried, and the ghost of competition which had haunted the Gazette office was laid until the owners of the present Evening Times resurrected the name amid a riot of red ink during the strenuous municipal campaign of 1902.


The Cedar Rapids Standard, like the Cedar Valley Times, had a long life. It was first established in Marion in 1868, as the Linn County Signal, by F. H. Williams. The following year it was removed to Cedar Rapids, and Thomas G. Newman became the owner. In 1872 the name was changed to the Linn County Liberal, and the office was moved back to Marion. In 1873 James T. Simpkins became editor. The following year the plant made a final trip to Cedar Rapids and was changed to the Standard. For a long time it flourished, having a number of owners and editors. Among them were Thomas G. Newman, C. E. Heath, A. H. Newman, D. H. Ogden, H. A. Cook, Frank L. Millar, and in June, 1880, Charles H. Playter, of the Des Moines Daily Leader, came to town and bought a half interest of Mr. Millar. The firm name became Millar & Playter. This partnership continued until the fall of 1885, when Mr. Playter bought out his partner and became the sole owner. In the fall of 1886 Mr. Playter sold the Standard to S. B. Ayers, who conducted it through the triumphal period of Iowa democracy, when Horace Boies sat in the gubernatorial chair. It was a strong democratic paper and had a large patronage in Linn county at that time. Later L. S. Saner became the editor. But the hard times came. Rightly or wrongly they were blamed on the democratic party. Republicanism triumphed; McKinley was elected. The Standard of the democratic party was trailed in the dust. It soon died and took its place in the Cedar Rapids journalistic graveyard.

The Marion Pilot was established in 1871 at Mt. Vernon, as the Linn County Pilot, and C. W. Kepler was editor. In 1874 the office was removed to Marion and the paper was owned by Beatty & Whittits. It continued under this management for several years and was one of the strong republican papers of the county. In 1884 it was purchased by the Rev. J. W. Chaffee and its name was changed to the Marion Pilot. He built up a good paper, putting it in the front rank of the weekly papers of the state. But with his passing from the editorial chair and the rapid rise of the daily press in Cedar Rapids and its rival county seat[Pg 115] newspapers its power and prestige waned. In 1906 it yielded up the ghost and was assigned to an honored place among those that have passed on.

The Good Ones Which Remain


As narrated above, the Daily Republican is the outgrowth of the daily Observer. In 1872 the Observer was transferred to the Republican Printing Company, and the name, which at first was the Cedar Rapids Republican, was changed to the Daily Republican, the present name of the paper.

A daily and weekly issue was published and the paper grew rapidly. For a time it was edited by William B. Leach. In 1877 it passed into the hands of the Republican Printing Company, who put in a great amount of capital and enlarged the office. There were many editors during this period. In March, 1881, the office was leased to J. R. Sage and D. G. Goodrich, with an option of sale within a year. During this period the paper was changed from an evening to a morning issue and an Associated Press franchise was secured, giving the paper full news service.

Before the lease had expired Messrs. Sage and Goodrich had exercised their right to purchase the plant. On March 1, 1882, it was transferred to J. R. Sage, Johnson Brigham, Fred Benzinger, and H. P. Keyes. This quartette reorganized the old Republican Printing Company, with J. R. Sage as president. Nearly two years later Mr. Sage transferred his interest to Mr. Brigham, and later on Messrs. Keyes and Benzinger transferred their interest to L. S. Merchant. Messrs. Brigham and Merchant conducted the paper, Mr. Merchant as business manager and Mr. Brigham as editor, until 1892, when Mr. Brigham sold his interest and went to Des Moines to start the first Iowa literary magazine, the Midland Monthly. Mr. Sage had previously gone to Des Moines to become the director of the Iowa weather and crop service.

Mr. Brigham's interest was purchased by Luther A. Brewer, who had been assistant business manager, W. R. Boyd, who had done some editorial work for the paper while living at home in Cedar county, and by L. S. Merchant. The paper was at the beginning of what seemed to be an uninterrupted period of ownership and prosperity when death suddenly claimed Mr. Merchant in 1894. Mrs. Merchant retained her husband's interest and the paper went on as before and waged a fight against free silver in the campaign of 1896 which made it nationally prominent. Mr. Brewer in the meantime had built up a very large job printing and book binding department.

In 1898 the entire plant was sold to H. G. McMillan, of Rock Rapids, at that time United States district attorney, and Cyrenus Cole, who had for many years been associate editor of the Iowa State Register. Mr. Boyd became postmaster at Cedar Rapids, but Mr. Brewer remained with the paper as its business manager for some time. An evening edition, the Evening Times, was started in 1902, and made a rapid growth. It now has the largest circulation of any daily paper in Cedar Rapids.

In 1907 Mr. Brewer left the business and opened up a big book-making plant of his own known as The Torch Press. In July of the same year however, The Torch Press bought out the interest of Mr. McMillan and the Daily Republican and the Evening Times have since been owned and published by Messrs. Brewer and Cole. The substantial building on Second avenue which had been erected during the regime of Messrs. Brigham and Merchant proved far too small and the property was sold. A large and modern newspaper and book-making building, four stories high, was erected at the corner of Fourth avenue and Third street, the present home of the Daily Republican, the Evening Times, The Torch Press[Pg 116] Printery and Bindery, and The Torch Press Book-shop, which latter is managed by William Harvey Miner and is the biggest and most largely patronized book shop west of Chicago.


There is not a great deal of "history" concerning the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, which has been one of the conspicuous successes among Iowa daily newspapers since it was started in 1883. On June 10 of that year, the daily Gazette was founded by Messrs. Otis and Post. A weekly issue of the paper was started at the same time. In March, 1884, the Gazette Company was organized, and in July of that year the entire stock was purchased by Messrs. Fred W. Faulkes and Clarence L. Miller. The paper has had the same ownership ever since that time. The late editor Faulkes was a pungent and versatile writer, and under his editorial management the Gazette rapidly rose to a commanding position in the Iowa newspaper field. It began as a republican newspaper. But after the memorable Frank D. Jackson campaign in 1893 Editor Faulkes became estranged from Governor Jackson and some of the other leaders of the republican party. Thereafter he was inclined to espouse the cause of democracy and the Gazette came to be regarded as the democratic newspaper of Linn county. Still later it grew more independent, in matters of politics.

Since the death of Fred Faulkes the Gazette has been published under the supervision of its business manager Clarence L. Miller. Like the other dailies of the city it has abandoned the weekly field.


The Saturday Record is the outgrowth of a little amateur paper started away back in 1879 by Ralph Van Vechten, at present vice-president of the Continental and Commercial National Bank of Chicago. He was then a student with a taste for printer's ink and he started a little literary paper, known as the Stylus. Soon after that he was joined by Arthur J. Huss, and the two of them ran the Stylus. In the spring of 1882 Mr. Van Vechten went into his uncle's bank. The paper passed into the hands of A. J. Mallahan, and after a little time was temporarily discontinued. But Mr. Huss gained new courage and perhaps new capital. September 10, 1882, he started the Cedar Rapids People. It continued as a seven column folio until March, 1884, when it was bought by Fred Benzinger and R. Baer and its name changed to the Saturday Evening Chat. July 1, 1887, Fred Benzinger bought out Mr. Baer's interest and ran the paper for a number of years until he went to Chicago, where for a time he was one of the prominent figures on the old Chicago Times-Herald. Then the paper was acquired by B. R. Hatmaker, forever famous because of the sobriquet for Cedar Rapids which flashed into his mind one dreamful day—"The Parlor City."

In 1889 Ernest A. Sherman came to this city and was city editor of the morning Republican for a while. In February. 1891, he started Town Topics. He ran it until late in the spring of that year and then he consolidated with Hatmaker's Saturday Record. He became the editor, and Hatmaker was business manager until 1892 when Mr. Sherman bought the whole business. Since that time the Record has been a permanent feature in Cedar Rapids, the largest and neatest of the weeklies, being printed in quarto form on book paper with many illustrations and spicy comment on "mentionable matters" of Cedar Rapids, with all the local news well edited.


The Iowa Post was founded in April, 1881, at Iowa City. After passing through the hands of several owners, it was purchased in March, 1902, by Henry Gundling of Chicago and brought to this city. Mr. Gundling changed the paper from a weekly to a semi-weekly and in an incredibly short time he had trebled the number of his subscribers. Mr. Gundling had a high school education in Germany, followed by an apprenticeship there of three years. He had sixteen years experience in Chicago and he has travelled extensively on three continents. He is, therefore, thoroughly equipped as an editor and this accounts for the high standard of his paper which is eagerly read by a very large constituency in this and adjoining counties and especially at the colony of Amana.



[Pg 117]


The West Side Enterprise is one of the latest newspapers in the Linn county field, having been started December 30, 1909. But it is one of the liveliest as well as one of the latest. W. I. Endicott is the owner and publisher, and he is a whole newspaper force in himself. Every issue of the Enterprise contains something which makes somebody sit up and take notice. It is a paper devoted to the work of booming the west side; but it is read on both sides of the river by an ever increasing number of readers.


The Iowa Staats-Zeitung was established in the year 1879 by A. Hunt, who continued as publisher and editor for many years—until he retired from the newspaper business. The paper was then bought by John Young and afterwards sold to the Charles Stoudt Printing Company, who came from Des Moines to Cedar Rapids to make their home. The company consists of Charles Stoudt, the publisher, and E. J. Stoudt, editor. The paper is one of the largest German weeklies in the state, publishing from twelve to twenty-four pages each issue and going all over the state. It guarantees to have the largest circulation of any German paper published in Iowa.


Several other Cedar Rapids newspapers ought to be mentioned. The Cedar Rapids Listy, a Bohemian humorous paper, was established in 1906. Fr. Hradecky is its editor and publisher. The Optimus is a republican weekly edited by E. C. Barber, and is a most uncompromising foe of democracy in all its form. It was established in 1906. The Slovan-Ameriky is a democratic Bohemian paper, one of the oldest, for it was established in 1869 and has held the even tenor of its way since that time through the sunshine and storm of democracy. John B. Letovsky & Sons are the editors and publishers, and they have been putting out a good paper week in and week out, year after year.

The Tribune is the organ of the Federation of Labor in Cedar Rapids. It was started in 1903 and has had a remarkable success. Its first editor was G. F. Taylor who gave the paper a great start and it is now edited by R. G. Stewart, who fills its columns full of gingery stuff week after week and shines best when there is a big political scrap on hand.


In 1852 one A. Hoyt came all the way from New York to blaze the way of modern journalism on the prairies of Iowa. He established a paper called the Prairie Star. But the Star didn't shine long. Mr. Hoyt found Iowa so different from old New York. Like the wise men of the east, after he had let go of most of the treasures he brought with him he retraced his steps to the east and[Pg 118] the paper passed into the hands of J. H. and G. H. Jennison. They were Whigs with a big W and they renamed the Star as the Linn County Register.

When the republican party was organized, the Linn County Register became one of its most able and enthusiastic advocates in the county. The late Judge N. M. Hubbard was in active politics at that time and during that memorable campaign he conducted the Register. Ah, "thim were the days." The judge was a past master in the art of "skinning" an opponent. That was the method of political fighting in those days and no editor ever had a sharper knife than Judge Hubbard. He used to say in later years that it was one of the most enjoyable periods of his whole life.

"I made the paper grow," he said. "Everybody wanted to get it to see whose hide was put on the fence that week."

The judge lived to tell the tale, but after the fun was all over and the battle had been won he decided that railroad law practice was more profitable than editing a newspaper. The Register passed back into the editorship of J. H. Jennison. The next year Robert Holmes became its editor and subsequently its proprietor. He held this position for five years and it was five years of the most important period in the history of the county. Mr. Holmes successfully conducted the paper through the great struggle of the Civil war, and up till 1863 when he sold it to A. G. Lucas. Its name was then changed to the Linn County Patriot.

In September, 1864, there came from Cedar county, a young soldier-lawyer, S. W. Rathbun. He purchased the plant and changed the name of the paper to the Marion Register. He has been editor of the Register ever since that time. He has a few more gray hairs, a few more wrinkles, and a bit more avoirdupois than he had then, but he still wields a trenchant pen, still makes the Register a readable and interesting paper. It has been one of the most influential papers among the weekly press of Linn county, and has always been firmly republican.


The Marion Sentinel was originally called the Springville Independent, being established at Springville in the year 1879 by Fred Chamberlain, who afterwards served as county superintendent of the schools of Linn county. It was a seven-column folio, independent in politics, the forerunner of the independent papers of the county. It grew rapidly, and by 1884 had increased to a twelve-page paper. An edition was also published for Prairieburg, and one for Central City. In 1885 it had a circulation of 1600. It met with some reverses in 1886 and on July 1 of that year it was moved to Marion and its name changed to the Linn County Independent. Mr. Chamberlain made a big success of it in Marion. The name of the paper was then changed to the Marion Sentinel. Later O. M. Smith was taken into partnership. The paper then changed from an independent to a democratic paper, and has remained democratic until the present time, the only simon pure democratic paper in Linn county at the present time.

In July, 1891, Mr. Smith sold the paper to Mr. J. J. Galliven, at that time employed as train dispatcher for the Milwaukee railroad. He conducted it for less than three months, selling it on September 19, 1891, to its present owner, T. T. Williams. During the greater part of the time since then C. S. Shanklin, one of the ablest political writers of the state, has been in charge of the Sentinel's editorial page. The paper is one of the brightest and newsiest in the county.


That splendid Linn county paper, the Mt. Vernon Hawkeye, was established January 1, 1869, by J. T. Rice, as the Linn County Hawk-Eye. Mr. Rice was[Pg 119] well known in the early history of the county, and in late years was a resident of Denver, Colorado, where he died within the past year.

The Hawk-Eye was bought by S. H. Bauman on June 1, 1869, within five months after the paper was established, and its name was changed to the Mount Vernon Hawk-Eye. Mr. S. H. Bauman continued the business and was joined in partnership by his son, A. A. Bauman, January 1, 1892. On July 1, 1899, S. H. Bauman retired entirely, and the paper was then conducted by his sons, A. A. and Fred A. Bauman. This partnership was dissolved November 17, 1909, since which time the paper has been published by A. A. Bauman.

The paper has always been republican in politics and has never been shaken by the winds of temporary popular prejudice or passion. It has had an abiding conviction of political honesty and integrity and it has been conducted on a high plane. It has rendered good service in the building up of Mt. Vernon and the county generally.


The Walker News was established as a seven-column folio in February, 1883, by David Brant, at present the owner and editor of the Iowa City Daily Republican. He continued as owner and editor for seven years, and then the paper passed to the hands of Charles A. Durno, Mr. Brant going to Cedar Rapids to become city editor of the Gazette.

In July, 1891, Mr. Durno sold a half interest in the business to C. O. and J. Barry, who, in January, 1892, acquired the remaining half interest, Mr. Durno retiring. Mr. Durno was later appointed to a position in the government printing office at Washington, D. C, and died in that city a few years ago. The Barrys are still in possession of the News, which is one of the brightest and most influential newspapers in the county.


The Center Point Journal is a republican weekly, owned and edited by J. A. Mahuran, one of the ablest of the Linn county newspaper men. The paper has had its ups and downs and for a time it was chiefly noted for its ardent campaign for a fishway in the dam across the Cedar river at Cedar Rapids. That was during the days of Editor Barber.

The Journal grew out of the Lotus which was started at Center Point, May 15, 1873, by J. F. Wilson & Co. T. J. Metcalf was its first editor, and he filled the leaves of the Lotus with spice and sweetness until 1874 when W. T. Baker took charge and subsequently committed suicide. But that was not the fault of the Lotus. The office was then sold to H. A. Cook, of Cedar Rapids.

In 1876 T. J. Metcalf and S. M. Dunlap purchased the plant and changed the name of the paper to the Center Point Mirror, the first issue appearing November 18. Then Mr. Metcalf bought out Mr. Dunlap's interest, and afterwards G. L. Wilson became the owner, changing its name to the Courier-Journal. M. A. Oxley and Charles F. Floyd afterwards bought the paper and it finally reached the hands of its present owner.


Springville is one of the best of the Linn county towns and it has one of the best of the Linn county papers, the Springville New Era. Its first issue appeared August 9, 1882. It was a six-column folio, independent in politics, and was established by J. B. F. Butler. In November, 1882, C. S. Shanklin became its editor. At this time it was changed to a six-column quarto. It became a democratic paper but lately grew towards independence in politics, a growing tendency[Pg 120] among modern newspapers. There were some more changes of ownership and finally the paper was purchased by O. E. Crane, its present publisher and editor, under whom it has risen to a popularity and prosperity never before attained.


Lisbon has one good weekly, the Herald. The Sun was the first paper having been started August 27, 1874, by J. W. Zeigenfus. It was not a success at the start, or at least it did not bring in the coin of the realm rapidly enough to suit its proprietor, and he soon sold it to C. J. Weatherbee. He held it for a few weeks and sold it to W. T. Baker. Baker managed it admirably for a time but he later shot himself through the head in his office and for a time the paper was conducted by W. L. Davis for his widow. Then the Rev. Dewalt S. Fouse became its editor and did some good work upon it. So did A. M. Floyd, one of the best of Linn county's newspaper men. But finally the Sun went down.

The Herald has been vigorous and active and prosperous since it was established in 1894 and it was never so prosperous as now. Under the able management of Will F. Stahl the paper has grown in size and in circulation and every issue is filled with up-to-date news and interesting comment. It is a paper of which Lisbon should be proud.


Situated in a valley of entrancing beauty, the valley of the Wapsie river, Central City is one of the most beautiful towns in Iowa and it certainly is one of the most up-to-date. Much of its growth and its prestige is due to the fact that for many years it has had a first-class newspaper. The Central City News-Letter, which was started in 1888, has had a line of able men as its editors and they have all done their best to make the city grow. None of them ever worked harder at it than E. S. Weatherbee, who is the owner and the editor of the paper, the postmaster, the mayor, and an all-around booster for his town.


Since 1889 Coggon has had a newspaper, the Coggon Monitor. It has had a number of owners, but it is established on a firm basis. Clarence Cole was the editor until April of this year, when he sold the paper to William Crosier.


In 1893, the Mount Vernon Record was established and it has had a successful and gratifying growth under the management of Lloyd McCutcheon, its publisher and editor. Advertising came slowly at first, as it always does to a new paper, but at present the merchants of Mt. Vernon are giving it good support. The paper has been "progressive"—strongly progressive in its editorial policies and there are many progressives in that neighborhood who have backed it.



[Pg 121]


The Bohemian Element in the County

It is not the purpose of this history to note in especial manner all the different nationalities that have entered into the making of our cosmopolitan population. America is peopled by sturdy men and women who have come to this land of opportunity and freedom from all the civilized nations of the world. It is the amalgamation of these different races and peoples that has done much to give us our sturdy citizenship. Driven from their old homes by persecutions or the desire to better their condition, they have come to America and have helped populate our prairies and develope our cities. They have needed the opportunities here given them, and we have needed them in our work of erecting on this continent a nation that shall be an example to all the nations.

By far the largest and most important element of foreign extraction represented in Linn county is the Bohemian. Some of our townships are almost entirely populated by these progressive immigrants and their descendants, and a goodly percentage of the residents of Cedar Rapids trace back their Slav ancestry to old Bohemia. These people have always made good citizens. They possess the desirable faculty of adapting themselves readily to new environments. Without destroying their own vigorous vitality, they grasp quickly the best there is in our thought and mode of life. They have borne nobly their share of the burdens incident to the establishment of new centers of civilization and of progress. They have acted their part in our civic life. They have adapted themselves to and have adopted our institutions. They have helped and are helping to make the county and the city centers of growth and prosperity. Trained through the years in habits of economy, and forced through necessity to keep up these habits, their life here has often been an incentive to others to go and do likewise. Lovers of the home, their ambition is to possess their own abiding place, and that as quickly as possible. The Bohemians are not renters. They are a class of home owners, and nothing is so potent for stability in any community as this trait on the part of its people. They are indeed a thrifty people, such as every state and county and city gladly welcome. Their buildings, though many of them may be small, are substantial in their character. The gardens and the grounds surrounding the dwellings in the towns and cities are neatly kept and attractive to the eye. Their farms are well tilled and as a result grow rapidly in productiveness and value.

Our Bohemian citizens bear their part in the administration of public affairs. And they always make good in the positions in which they are placed. They have helped make our city councils; they have been men of ability and of influence on our school boards. They are numbered among our successful merchants and bankers. Indeed, there is scarce a line of human endeavor in which they have not been represented by men of capacity and of worth.

At the request of the editors of this history Joseph Mekota, himself a splendid representative of a splendid people, contributes the following sketch of the Bohemian people to this volume:

The history of the Bohemian people in Linn county does not differ greatly from the general history of this people in our country. Driven from their native land, on account of political persecution and official oppression, they sought[Pg 122] America as the haven of liberty and opportunity. They brought with them an abundance of patience, industry, perseverance, and hope. Their beginning was full of hardships, privations, and obstacles. Their chief capital was their health and willingness to toil, and their ability to stand hardship. These were their native heritage. Coming to this country poor, unacquainted with its customs, its language, and its laws, their beginning had but few silver linings.

Despite these inauspicious surroundings these early pioneers were contented and happy. Physical and material hardships and trials were cheerfully borne for the joys and sweetness of political and religious liberty. Under the broad and clear skies of the religious, political, and intellectual tolerance of America they felt the realization of the unfulfilled dreams of the glorious but unsuccessful struggles of their ancestors a century ago. Such a fine spirit towards the highest ideals in life and civilization, combined with inexhaustible energy and patience in industrial pursuits, has made this people loyal to our institutions and useful to the development and progress of our country.

The early settlers came to this county with teams and wagons. At that time there were no railroads west of the Mississippi river. Many of them came from Caledonia, Wisconsin, with ox teams. Others came by railroad as far as the Mississippi river. One member of a family who came here in 1855 said: "They dumped us out at Muscatine and from there we hired teams and conveyances to take us to Cedar Rapids. We moved south of the city and lived under a tree that summer. When we wanted to buy anything we took a sample of the article in one hand and the amount of money we wished to expend in the other and would show that to our neighbors and make them understand what we wanted."

These early settlers devoted themselves to agricultural pursuits. Most of them located on or near timber lands so that they would have plenty of fuel. Fuel was very scarce in their native land, and it was easier to build their sheds if they were in the timber. The prairies at that time were not desirable for location. A large portion of College township, which is now the best farming country in the state of Iowa, at that time was full of marshes, and high grass, and strong winds prevailed so that the early settlers avoided the prairies and located in timber districts.

The early Bohemian settlers came to Linn county about the years 1852 and 1853. So far as known, the following families were among the early pioneers: The Ligr family about the year 1852 settled east of Ely. John Posler, in the year 1853, also located about eight miles southeast of the city. In 1854 or earlier, Paul Korab and his family settled about one mile east of the present town of Western, where also settled at that time John Witousek. The Korab family came here with an ox team from the state of Wisconsin by way of Dubuque. That year, 1854, Jacob Polak located about ten miles southeast of Cedar Rapids, and with him was Joseph Sosel. These families also came with teams from the state of Wisconsin. Anton Sulek located in the north part of Johnson county in 1854, and he afterwards lived near Hoosier Grove in this county on a beautiful, elevated spot called "Hradek," and meaning "Little Castle." Many other families came in 1855 and settled along the border line between Johnson and Linn counties, in College and Putnam townships. The numbers that came were not great, and it was not until after the Civil war that large numbers of these people came to this county.

Among these people Joseph Sosel was a character of distinction. His scholarly attainments combined with his love of intellectual and political freedom easily made him the leader among his people. He was a political exile. He took an active part in the uprising of Bohemian students in the year 1848. This movement was for more political rights and broader freedom for the people in Bohemia. The uprising did not meet with success, and for his patriotic activity a price was set upon his head by the Austrian government. With many other[Pg 123] students, who were in the same predicament, he escaped to this country. With him came Karel Jonas, who afterwards became lieutenant-governor of the state of Wisconsin; and with them also came Vojtech Naprstek, who left a name in Bohemian history that is known to every Bohemian.

In this locality Mr. Sosel rendered many valuable services to his countrymen; being able to talk the English language, he became their legal and business adviser. He was loyal to his countrymen, and at all times insisted that they should learn and observe the customs of their new country. He served faithfully the interests of his people, and his memory will forever be kindly remembered by them for the many and useful services which he faithfully rendered.

Up to the time of the Civil war, the Bohemian immigration was slow, but from those that were here quite a number enlisted from this county to preserve the integrity of their new country. Among those known who enlisted were the following: J. F. Bednar, Frank Renchin, Frank Peremsky, Joseph Wencel, Joseph Podhajsky, John Maly, Joseph Zahradnik, Charles Bednar, Joseph Horak, Wesley Horak, Frank Dolezal, Joseph Dolezal.

After the Civil war Cedar Rapids became a prominent center of Bohemian population. Many came direct from their own country, others came from neighboring states, and still others came from the surrounding country in this state. So that at all times this city always had a large percentage of people of Bohemian origin, larger than any other city of its size in the state of Iowa. In the county they settled in Putnam, College and Franklin townships. From the year 1866, after the Prussian war in Austria, to 1880 were perhaps the banner years of Bohemian emigration to this country. These people all located in the city or southeast of the city. There are today in Cedar Rapids about 8,500 inhabitants of this nationality and about 2,500 more in other parts of the county. They are now scattered all over the county, but large and heavy settlements are in Putnam and College townships, these being almost exclusively settled by Bohemians. There is a large settlement in Fairfax township, and there are settlements in Franklin, Bertram, Boulder, and Grant townships.

In agriculture they are successful farmers. No better improved farms, no better buildings, no better systems of farming exist in any other part of the state than in the communities settled by these people. They are progressive and up to date in all matters. They are hard working people and devoted to the interests of their farms.

In Cedar Rapids they have also played an important part. A large majority came to this country very lightly endowed with worldly goods, but they were strong in health and body and not afraid to work. A very large percentage of these people belong to the laboring class. The women in the families worked as hard, if not harder, than the men. The first ambition of these people after their arrival in this country was to own a home. The father would work, the mother would work, and the children would work in order to buy and pay for a home. A great many of them bought vacant lots and improved them by erecting neat and comfortable dwellings. At times it was claimed they took their children out of school too early in order that they might work. In the early times there existed circumstances which could not very well avoid this situation. The wages were low; families as a rule were large and in order to pay for a home and in order that the debts be paid, and to meet expenses, it was necessary in many cases to press the children into service. This custom became somewhat contagious among the men, women, and children. One family was bound to earn and make as much money as its neighbors, and therefore had to have as many members of the family working. It is a source of congratulation that this custom, which had been one of necessity, is now losing ground among the ranks of this nationality and their children are kept in school as long as any children among other American people.

[Pg 124]

The Bohemian people from the very first held tenaciously to their mother tongue. While they were loyal to our public schools and other institutions, they took steps to preserve and cultivate the mother tongue among themselves and their children. As early as 1868 a society called the "Reading Society" was organized. The purpose of this society was to cultivate the Bohemian language; give aid to Bohemian schools; furnish the best books of Bohemian literature to the people of our city, and in every way possible to promote and awaken the love for Bohemian language and history among the people. It was a center of national life and spirit. In this laudable purpose the Reading Society of Cedar Rapids has met with unparalleled success.

The society today owns a fine library of nearly 3,000 volumes of the best works of history, art, and literature in the Bohemian tongue. Besides this, the Reading Society has always been helpful, and largely instrumental in starting, promoting, and encouraging other organizations of national character.

The Bohemian people are fond of the theatre and theatrical performances. At about the time that the Reading Society was organized, they started an association for the purpose of giving theatrical performances in the Bohemian tongue. The plays given were popular and successful, and on many occasions there was displayed splendid histrionic talent among the members of this dramatic club. Their performances were always clean, instructive, and educational. Today we have in Cedar Rapids two large dramatic associations whose performances are a credit to our city and its people.

In the matter of education, the Bohemian people always took an active part. Besides having their children attend the public schools, they took opportunity to have them taught in the Bohemian language during their vacations and sometimes on Sundays. This was so from their earliest settlement. At first one or two rooms in a public school building were used. Later on a building costing over $8000.00 was erected for this purpose. The building stands on the corner of Second street and Tenth avenue. This building has the honored distinction of being the only building in our whole country built and used exclusively as a Bohemian school.

Another institution that has brought fame and favor to our city in educational circles, is the Council of Higher Education. This was founded here in 1902. It is an organization whose object it is to furnish honor loans without interest to poor but promising boys and girls of Bohemian origin to secure a college education. Since its organization this institution has aided many young men and women who were without sufficient means to secure a college education. Last year it had sixteen students it was aiding in the various state universities and colleges. Its operation is nation wide. It has students in New York, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Nebraska, and Iowa. The funds of the institution are gathered by popular subscriptions among individuals and societies. Its scope covers every state in the Union where there is a Bohemian settlement. The institution has achieved wonders in encouraging young men and women of Bohemian nationality to attend universities and colleges.

In musical circles the Bohemian people have distinguished themselves from early times. In the beginning when the Bohemian settlers came to this city they organized a musical society. This formed a nucleus for one of the most famous musical bands in the state. Kouba's National Band achieved state wide reputation; this band has always been composed of a large percentage of Bohemian musicians.

In the material development of Cedar Rapids the Bohemian people have done their full share. In the ranks of labor they are known as honest, industrious, peaceable, and orderly. They are very largely employed in all the big industrial institutions of our city. They command the confidence and respect of their employers. This nationality is also well represented in every line of business in our city. All the professions are represented. When we consider that less than two generations ago their ancestors came here with bare hands and not knowing the English language and unacquainted with the customs and without any particular advantages, except those of honesty and willingness to work, it is remarkable that such strides forward have been made by this nationality in the realms of labor, business, and the professions.



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In religious work the Bohemian people of Linn county have accomplished splendid results. With the first settlers in this county, the Catholics of this city had a place of worship. From its modest beginning there grew one of the largest congregations in the city. And what enthusiastic and untiring workers this church has! The congregation consists very largely of the laboring class, but they have accomplished wonderful results. A splendid church building; a large parochial school; an assembly hall and a new parsonage are the reward of the patience and perseverance among the members of this congregation. St. Wenceslaus church of Cedar Rapids with its manifold work and influence is a great honor to the people of Linn county.

Way back in the late sixties, on a beautiful and secluded spot on Hoosier Creek, about one-half the distance between the present site of Ely and Western, there was erected a small church of the Reformed Evangelical denomination. There a band of devout men and women met to worship in the simple manner of the Moravian brothers. Their leader and minister was a man of grace, of purity of character and rare and scholarly attainments. His name was Frank Kun. He was a great preacher and a great teacher. For a time he held the chair of Greek and Latin at Western College, but as his congregation increased he devoted all his time to his people. His congregation was entirely of the rural class. He loved his people and in turn was loved by them. His congregation was one of the best Bohemian congregations in the United States; his sermons were masterpieces of art and beauty, full of religious fervor, stately dignity and depth. His memory will forever be revered by the people of Linn county. This church is still there; broadening its sphere of work it now has two branches, one in Johnson county, and one in Linn county, the last being the old Baptist church in Putnam township.

In Cedar Rapids the Bohemian people have three protestant churches: the Fourth Presbyterian, the Bohemian Methodist, and the Reformed church; all three are prosperous. All of them have large and substantial memberships and all of them are fortunate in having strong, capable, and popular men as ministers. Under the wise and liberal policies of these leaders these churches are doing excellent work among the Bohemian people.

There is a large, respectable element of the Bohemian population that does not belong to any church organization. They are not opposed to churches, nor to religion, but do not affiliate with any church organization. They believe that every one should be permitted to think and believe as he pleases in matters of faith. In the Bohemian language they are called "Svobodamysli." This word does not mean Free Thinkers. "This Bohemian word is made up of two words 'Liberty' and 'Mind,' and it means the broadest toleration for the religious beliefs and opinions of others; and further it means that you should give the widest latitude to the religious beliefs and forms of worship of your neighbors, and that they should do the same to you; and it further means that you should honor and respect the religious views and professions of your neighbors and they should do the same by you."

No sketch of the Bohemian people in Cedar Rapids and Linn county would be complete without referring to the Sokols. This is a society whose purpose is physical culture. The society is well represented in Cedar Rapids, and has among its members some of the best all around athletes in this country. In 1909 a team of six men of this organization captured the first prize at the National Contest[Pg 126] in New York city of the Bohemian Sokols Society in the United States. The society owns a fine building and gymnasium here. It is an old organization, dating back to about the time when the Reading Society was organized, at that time being a branch fostered by the Reading Society. The society has several instructors of physical culture and gives to boys and girls, and young men and young women, a thorough course in gymnastics.

The Bohemian people of this city are thoroughly and actively interested in the principle of modern fraternalism. Among this element the fraternal orders and societies find much favor and popularity. There are very few men and women of this nationality who do not belong to at least one fraternal order, and there are many who belong to a half dozen fraternal orders. In fact the Bohemian element in the city of Cedar Rapids is honey-combed with lodges, orders, and societies of fraternal character. The Reading Society, already mentioned, was the nucleus, from which, as time went on, manifold ramifications sprang, finally developing into an extraordinary number of fraternal societies and lodges.

At first these societies were more of a national spirit and character, but later the insurance feature became an important part. The Bohemian people have great faith in fraternal insurance. The next thing after a home is acquired, fraternal insurance is provided. Some of the societies are exclusively for men, and some are exclusively for women, but the tendency of the last ten years is to permit both sexes to become members of the same lodge. This too has its advantages, and if fraternal orders are to be more than mere insurance companies, a greater diversity of membership, greater benefits and advantages will flow from them. All the orders and lodges are in a prosperous condition. Three fine and capacious halls have been built and there is need and place for them all.

The C. S. P. S. hall was built in 1891, the Z. C. B. J. hall was built in 1908, and the Sokol hall in 1908. There is a Bohemian hall in Ely, Iowa. The Z. C. B. J. is a large and flourishing fraternal order whose supreme lodge has been located in Cedar Rapids since its organization in 1897. This in English is called the Western Bohemian Fraternal Association, and it is doing business in ten or twelve states in the Union.

In 1885 there was an Odd Fellows lodge instituted, whose members are all Bohemians, and whose rituals and work are in the Bohemian language. This lodge has the distinction of being the only Bohemian Odd Fellows lodge west of the Mississippi river. The spirit of fraternalism has had a remarkably good influence upon the character and intelligence of the Bohemian people. The financial benefits to the widows and children flowing from these societies may be great, but the moral, intellectual, and educational benefits to the members are immeasurably greater.

In the United States there are many Bohemian communities and settlements. In some of the eastern cities the settlements are very large, for instance in Chicago there are 100,000 Bohemians; in New York about 40,000; in Cleveland about 40,000; and there are very large settlements throughout Minnesota, the two Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas.

In intelligence and educational advancement, in the broad scope and high ideals of modern fraternalism, in social progress and in business and industrial enterprise, and in the professions, the Bohemian people of Linn county and Cedar Rapids rank foremost among all the Bohemian communities in the United States. This is a recognized fact among other Bohemian communities and cities in our country. We are proud of the fact that our city has won the beautiful title of "Parlor City," but more proud should we be of the fact that in all the Bohemian communities and large centers of Bohemian population from New York to California, Cedar Rapids is known as "The Bohemian Athens of America."

[Pg 127]


The Early Marriage Record

An interesting book in the office of the county clerk at Marion is the first marriage record kept in the county. Through the courtesy of County Clerk William Dennis we are enabled to give below a record of marriages that took place in the county from 1841 to 1855. The names and the dates have been transcribed with care, though it is possible some names here printed are not correct in every particular, due to the inability to read the writing in the record. As a rule the penmanship of our early clerks was distinct and readable. This is true in especial manner of the incumbency of Hosea W. Gray, who was clerk during most of the years covered by this transcript.

The book consulted in the preparation of this chapter contains both the licenses granted and the returns of the marriages. In a few instances the names in the licenses are different from those given in the returns.

A thing to be noted in this early marriage record is the youth of many of the parties. In many instances the records show the marriage of young girls of 15 and 16 years.

A number of licenses are recorded, but there is no evidence in the book that the marriages were ever celebrated, due doubtless to the failure of the officiating clergyman or justice to make the proper returns.

Many names familiar in the early days appear in this record. And it is valuable not only because it lists those pioneers who here set up their household gods soon after they arrived in the county, but also because it gives the names of the early ministers and justices of the peace in Linn county.

In this record book are recorded the licenses of the ministers of the gospel who were authorized to perform the marriage ceremony. Here are some of the names, many of them doubtless familiar to the survivors of that time:

Reverends John Hodges, Michael Summer, John Stocker, William C. Rankin, Israel C. Clark, F. R. S. Byrd, James L. Thompson, Warren B. Morey, Salmon Cowles, Isaac Searles, Henry Reed, Christian Troup, John Hindman, Allen Johnson, Uriah Ferree, James M. Fanning, Peter Robinson, Joel B. Taylor, Daniel Worthington, Luther McVay, S. H. Greenup, Duff C. Barrows, Absalom A. Sellers, Charles D. Gray, John S. Brown, John Walker, Edward R. Twining, Jacob Miller, Joshua B. Hardy, James S. Fullerton, Robert Miller, Stephen Porter, Solomon T. Vail, Abner Corbin, Richard Swearingen, George B. Bowman, David Wanerich, Nelson Rathbern, Almiron R. Gardner, John Hayden, J. N. Seeley, J. H. Harrison, Danforth B. Nicholas, John W. Boal, Isaac Whittimore, Bennet Roberts, E. D. Olmsted, Wesley R. Blake, Nelson A. McConnel, Elder Noah Willson, Deacon Pliny B. Yates, William Sayler, John Williams, Solomon Kern, Charles N. Morbeley, John Demoss, George P. Smith, Lucas C. Woodford, Alexander Colwell, Samuel Farlow, Williston Jones.

Here is the record of marriages covering the period noted:



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Springville, Built in 1855



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Historic Roads and Other Monuments

In the early days it was essential to establish means of communication between points. Where there were no navigable rivers the legislatures, and even congress, passed certain acts establishing roads. The Territorial legislature which met in Burlington in 1838 and 1839 among many other road laws approved the following passed January 25, 1839:

"That Isaac [Israel] Mitchell, of Linn county, Iowa, John G. Fay, of Cedar county, and Jonathan Pettibone, of Muscatine county, be and are hereby appointed commissioners to lay out a road commencing at Bloomington, Muscatine county, thence to Rochester and Cedar county and thence to the county seat of Linn county. That said commissioners, or a majority of them, shall meet at Burlington on the first Monday of May next to discharge their duties."—Section 3, p. 461, Laws of Iowa.

"It is further enacted that Alfred Carter, Warren Stiles and A. F. Russell, of Scott county, be and are hereby appointed commissioners to lay out a territorial road commencing at Davenport, Scott county, thence to Hickory Grove, thence to Poston's Grove, thence to Red Oak Grove, thence to Pioneer Grove, thence to Big Linn Grove, thence to the seat of justice of Linn county, said commissioners to meet, or a majority of them, to discharge their duties at Davenport on the first Monday of May next."—Section 8, p. 462, Laws of Iowa.

A number of these laws were passed laying out what were known as "territorial and state roads." For example, there was the well known Dubuque-Iowa City road passing through Anamosa, Springville, and Mount Vernon. Then there were the two well known roads passing through Marion, one known as the Toledo road running nearly directly west of Cedar Rapids to Toledo, and a road much travelled in the early day; the other road branched from the Toledo road about four miles west of the city and was an angling road known in this county as the Marengo road, the State road, as well as the Des Moines road, which also was laid out over high ground in nearly a straight angling line to Marengo, and then west through Brooklyn, Grinnell, and Newton to Des Moines. This road was used much by the forty-niners crossing the state for the gold fields of California, and now and then some farmer has picked out of his field where the old road has been changed little horse shoes, shoes used for oxen, hammers and hatchets, and other utensils which had been left or lost by the early gold seekers.

There were two roads between Cedar Rapids and Marion well known in the early days, one called the old Marion road and the other running about where the street railway now runs.

Another road which was much used in the early days was known as the Cedar Rapids and Center Point road. It was much travelled by all people from the north part of the county.

Another road was the Marion-Mt. Vernon road, as well as the Western road, and the Mt. Vernon-Ivanhoe Bridge road leading to Iowa City.

The Code of 1851, referring to the State roads, directs that these roads shall be maintained by the respective counties but that such State roads shall not be discontinued or diminished in size.—Sections 557, 558, Code of Iowa, 1851.

At this time roads were under the supervision of the county court. Later they came under the supervision of the county supervisors.

[Pg 143]

For many years it was believed that a certain hill overgrown by trees near the Milwaukee tracks in the edge of Kenwood had been a fortification erected by the United States government in the early days for defending the settlers from Indian attacks.

A school house was later erected on or near this locality and was known as "Ft. George School House." Many of the old settlers remembered this locality and called it the old fort. An investigation was made and the following letter written by Samuel W. Durham explains itself:

"The house was built by a man by the name of George, of German descent, and afterwards bought and occupied by Ambrose Harland who gave the little irregular tract and house the name of Ft. George in honor of its first owner and its having the appearance of being constructed to resist, not Indians, but cold winds as they swept up Indian creek. Harland was a character, born in Kentucky, removed to Crawfordsville, Indiana, and was the sheriff of that county. This was the home of Lew Wallace, the author of Ben Hur, and also the home of Henry S. Lane who first named Abraham Lincoln as president in a convention in Chicago in 1860. Harland moved to Linn county succeeding Hosea W. Gray as sheriff, and was succeeded by me in that office. He was a six-footer and large and would fight, but once fell heavily before Perry Oxley's huge fist."

The person who erected the house which appeared like a fort was no other than George Hesing, who owned the land and was a peculiar character in his day. He did plant cottonwood trees around the house and also scraped up dirt so as to keep out the wind and snows as much as possible from his yard. In a few years the trees grew up and the rubbish accumulated, and they gave the place the appearance and made it look like an old abandoned fortification. It is said that a certain Mr. Willard having charge of the erection of a school house near this location named it the "Ft. George School House," which name it bore as long as it stood there.

A number of plats have been filed in the recorder's office at Marion, and these have again been transcripted for public use, but before towns could be platted a number of towns were staked out before the land was laid out and surveyed by the government; of these plats we have no record. The first plat was, no doubt, that of Westport, located on the banks of the Cedar river and near Bertram. This was staked out by Israel Mitchell July 4, 1838. Ivanhoe was laid out some distance below at the present Ivanhoe bridge in the same year. Another town was staked out by J. Wilbert Stone along the Cedar river at the lower rapids within the corporate limits of the present Cedar Rapids. There is no record of any plat of this town. In 1844 Westport was again platted as Newark by James M. Doty. This is the first recorded plat and seems to have been filed November 21, 1844, by John Zinbar, recorder. (See Vol. A, p. 301, Lands.) This is now a corn field and has long since been vacated.

New Linden was another town platted in the early days; this plat was filed by P. S. Embree, surveyor, April 15, 1853, being property owned by A. E. Simpson and A. P. Risley and located on sections 27 and 28, township 84, range 5, Brown township. This, also, now is nothing but a corn field.

Another was the plat of New Buffalo in the town of New Buffalo which is filed in Vol. 4, p. 217, of the Land Records of Linn county; this has also been vacated.

The plat of the town of Mayfield was made by J. M. May and filed for record in Vol. 143, p. 624. It bordered on the Cedar river and embraced lot 4 and part of section 34, township 83, range 7. It also has been abandoned, although May's twenty-five additions, re-plats, etc., made by Major May, are still parts of additions to Cedar Rapids. Major May was a man of enthusiasm, and speculated,[Pg 144] believing, with Colonel Sellers, that in every enterprise he undertook there would be millions, but he died a poor, unknown and disappointed man.

Many of the old town sites have been vacated, and many of the old postoffices and country stores which one found throughout the county in the early fifties can no longer be found on the map. From Iowa as It Is, published in 1855, at page 153 we find the following notices concerning Linn county towns and postoffices: Spring Grove, Boulder, Central Point, Cedar Oak, Newark, St. Julien, Ivanhoe, and Hoosier Grove, besides such towns as Cedar Rapids, Palo, Marion, and Mount Vernon. The book also mentions Iowa Conference Seminary, with a three story building, and with Rev. S. N. Fellows as superintendent.

N. H. Parker in his Handbook of Iowa, issued in 1856, mentions a few more new towns not mentioned in the previous list, as follows: Fairfax, Lisbon, Lafayette, Mon Diu, Necot, Oak Grove, Prospect Hill, St. Mary, Springville, and Valley Farm. This author also speaks of the newspapers published in the county, the Register at Marion, and the Times, the Farmer, and the Democrat at Cedar Rapids.

Another handbook of the state, published by J. G. Mills, of New York, in 1857, mentions the towns set out in the handbook of a year previous and adds the new town of much promise by the high-toned name of Paris, located in Jackson township, near the present town of Coggon.

Few, if any, today can locate those villages and towns which sprang up from time to time over the county, and which long since have passed out of history and memory.

Of the newspapers published at that time only the Marion Register has continued to be issued. The others have passed away and one does not now know who were the editors and publishers of these early attempts at journalism in the pioneer days. These newspapers, no doubt, did much in keeping open the spirit of the people and in advertising the state.



[Pg 145]


Some of the Old Settlers

It is, perhaps, impossible to say even now with any degree of certainty, who was the first actual settler in Linn county. However, it is not very difficult to mention at least some of the early settlers. It is said that Dyer Usher and James Ames came up the Cedar river as far as the rapids on a hunting expedition as early as the spring of 1836; how long these men remained in what later became Linn county is not known, but it is not likely that they stayed very long. We have pretty good evidence that later during the summer came Daniel C. Doty, his two sons, James, and Elias, and nephew, Jacob Crane, as far as Bertram and viewed the country expecting to locate when land was thrown open for settlement. Mr. Doty was born in Essex county, New Jersey, in 1764, had early drifted west to Cincinnati, and by boat had come down the Ohio and up the Mississippi, landing at what is now Muscatine. His children were born in Ohio. They followed the Cedar river until they struck what became later Linn county to locate claims. There were no settlers here, and they found no people with whom to converse, but figured that here would be a good location to get cheap land when this land was opened for settlement. They returned to Ohio for their families, expecting to return the following spring, but they did not, in fact, return for three years on account of the financial depression. Israel Mitchell staked out the town first called Westport in July, 1838, which town was later called Newark, named in honor of Newark, New Jersey, where the family originally came from. Here Elias Doty, Jr., was born in October, 1841. Elias Doty, Sr., erected the first sawmill on Big creek in 1841, in the erection of which mill he was killed in the raising of the timbers. Daniel Doty, Sr., had the following sons, to-wit: James, Elias, John, and Daniel, all young men who early drifted west. Daniel C. Doty, the father of these sons, was never a resident of this county, but simply came here to find homes for his children. He died in Ohio in 1849; the widow died in Ohio in 1863 at the advanced age of ninety-eight.

James Doty, born in 1809, was the first real pottery maker in Iowa. He had learned the trade in Ohio. This crude pottery building was standing on the old homestead up to within a few years ago. At the time of his death, January 17, 1847, he had over three hundred jars, jugs, crocks, etc., ready for delivery. In this early day there was great demand for such merchandise as it was something every farmer had to have, and it could only be obtained in a few places and at high prices on account of the transportation.

Another Linn county pioneer well known in the early days was Israel Mitchell, who staked out the town of Westport in 1838. Mr. Mitchell was born in Kentucky, January 15, 1796, the son of Moses Mitchell, of Scotch descent, and on the mother's side, Elizabeth Grant, of Welsh descent, and a near relative of Daniel Boone, the Indian fighter. As a young man Israel Mitchell attended a Kentucky college and graduated therefrom. He studied for the ministry, but gave that up on account of his voice, and later took a course in medicine, but gave up the practice, as his step-daughter, Mrs. Slavin, writes, "because he was too tender hearted." He had studied law as well as surveying. After his marriage he removed to Ohio in the early '20s with his wife and two children, viz: Angeline and John Mitchell. He soon drifted into Indiana, and from there he removed to Wisconsin, working in the lead mines near Apple river in the southwest part of the state[Pg 146] as surveyor. From Wisconsin he came by way of Dubuque to Linn county in the spring of 1838 in company with John, James, and Chamber Hunter, and Jacob Leabo. They all settled on the banks of the Cedar river in sections 32 and 33, township 83, range 6. Mr. Mitchell was a widower at this time and he and his children stayed with the Leabo family. At Marion he married Mrs. Mary Ross, nee Mary Arnold, a native of Princeton, New Jersey, on November 7, 1845, Esquire Goudy, one of the first justices of the peace, performing the marriage ceremony according to the territorial laws of Iowa. Of this marriage were born five children: Luther H., Caroline, Israel, Boone, and Maris Morton. By her first marriage Mrs. Ross had four children. She died in Oregon in 1858.

Mr. Mitchell sat on the first grand jury summoned in the county, was one of the first justices of the peace in the county, and was also the first probate judge. He acted as a frontier lawyer, did more or less surveying, at which he was an expert, and in many ways was a most useful man to the community. Mr. Mitchell was a true southerner, his home was always open, and he did much entertaining. He spent much of his time interesting his friends and acquaintances in new enterprises, and in various ways tried to build up a great town on the banks of the Cedar river. Whether it was due to the failure of his new town to materialize or the western fever that got hold of him, we do not know, but just at a time when he should have remained he saw fit to emigrate, going with oxen overland with his family in 1847, locating about eight miles southwest of Portland, Oregon. Here he tilled the soil and became a noted surveyor. In 1873 he returned to Linn county to visit his old friends, giving glowing descriptions of the far west and especially of the Spokane country. On his return by way of San Francisco to Portland he fell in one of the gangways on the steamer, and received injuries from which he died a few days later after reaching home. Mr. Mitchell was a member of the Presbyterian church and affiliated with the democratic party. J. J. Daniels, his old friend, described Judge Mitchell as follows: "He was truly an educated man, and in early life had learned the science of surveying, and this was the work he was particularly called for; when not engaged in this occupation he farmed and kept a ferry. When the writer became acquainted with him on the Cedar river he was an active man on foot and could swim almost equal to a duck; bathing in the Cedar in warm weather was his usual custom. He was a medium sized man and stood very straight and erect, having black hair a little tinged with grey, large blue eyes, a high, round forehead, and in appearance resembled Edgar A. Poe, and was equally as brilliant a poet as Poe, having enough manuscript to make a book of poems. He was truly a Christian man in many acts of kindness, and verified his profession of faith in a true Christian religion."

Robert Ellis, Linn county's oldest living settler, was born in Westmoreland, county, Pennsylvania, January 20, 1817, emigrated to Ohio in 1837, later to Michigan, and started on foot to Iowa Territory in the winter of 1838. He remained for a few weeks in Cedar county and started again on foot looking for a claim in the timber near some river. Coming to the present site of Cedar Rapids the first man he found was a man by the name of Hull, who held down a claim where the T. M. Sinclair Company packing house is now located; coming further up along the river he found the tavern of Osgood Shepherd. Mr. Ellis liked the place and staked out his claim on his present location near what is known as Ellis Park. He was at work there cutting wood one day when Shepherd came along with another man, and insisted that this claim belonged to him. Ellis was not easily frightened, and as Shepherd was going to attack him, Ellis raised his ax and threatened to chop his head in two if he took another step. This threatening attitude on the part of Ellis frightened Shepherd and he and his companion retreated, Ellis never being disturbed afterwards. Shepherd never referred to the matter. The next summer when Shepherd's father died Ellis and Lichtebarger made the coffin and assisted at the burial, when Shepherd seemed to[Pg 147] be very much touched by the kindness of these two men and thanked them profusely.

Ellis became a friend of the Lichtebarger boys and also of O. S. Bolling. Bolling and Ellis assisted Tom Lewis, the old pioneer, to get his wagon and cattle across the river when he came west to locate, on what became later known as "Lewis Bottoms." Ellis worked for awhile at the Winnebago Mission at Ft. Atkinson, Iowa, where he met a number of military men who later became known in the Mexican war, as well as in the Civil war.

As he was frequently in company with men who took newspapers and who had travelled about the country, he heard of the gold excitement in California and at once crossed the country to Marion wanting to go west. At Marion he met Dan Mentzer, a man by the name of Harvey, and another person by the name of Green. They purchased an outfit and started for California in April, 1849, arriving at the diggings in that state the same summer after many hard experiences. He remained for several years digging gold as a placer miner and keeping a grocery store, and for a time he ran a stage between Georgetown and Coloma, earning express, passengers, and the mail. Here he met and associated with Sutter, the old German who discovered the first gold diggings, as well as his partner, saw Fair, Huntington, Mackey, and the boisterous Stewart, some of them "running saloons today and owning mines tomorrow." After remaining in California for seven years he returned home by way of the Nicaragua route and there met and talked with General Walker, the famous filibusterer.

Philip Hull, according to Robert Ellis, had arrived in what became Cedar Rapids just a very few weeks before he came. He says: "Hull was of my age and I took a liking to him. He weighed about 170 pounds, was about five feet eight inches tall, had dark hair and was stoop shouldered. He was a native of Ohio, and returned to Illinois or Ohio in 1840 to get married, as he was very lonesome out here on the prairies of Iowa. Hull never returned to Cedar Rapids. Mr. Hull and I walked to William Abbe's and bought four yoke of oxen, a wagon, and a breaking plow. We had but little money so we agreed that in payment for this property we should break 75 acres of land and cut and split 10,000 rails, which we did. It took two men to break, one to handle the cattle and one to hold the plow. It was no easy job on a hot day when the oxen would pull for a pond with all their might if not closely watched, and many were the times they would give us the slip and would lie down in the pond and we could do nothing but wait till the air cooled and night came on. Neither one of us made anything, and I saw nothing of Mr. Hull till I met him at Sacramento, California, where he had preceded me by several months. We often talked over our lives in Linn county, neither one at the time even believing that Cedar Rapids had any future. Hull was an agreeable companion, a splendid fellow and square in all his dealings. He preferred frontier life and would be content in no other locality except on the frontier."

Ellis says further of Wm. Abbe:

"Abbe and I were in partnership in dealing with the government. Abbe made the deals with the government and I made most of the purchases from the settlers. At one time Abbe and I had just completed a contract with the government for provisions, and then Indian Agent Harvey in St. Louis insisted that we must also furnish 100 cattle within six days at Ft. Atkinson. This was rather a difficult task but Abbe said we had to do it and we rode away in a hurry back home to buy up cattle and drive them back to be there in time. We worked day and night and had the cattle at Ft. Atkinson on time. As Abbe had to go to Prairie du Chien I was ordered to return home with $1,000.00 in gold which had been paid for the cattle. I did not like to go alone over the open prairie with the money but there was no way out of it and so I started bright and early. That[Pg 148] night I reached Quasqueton and stayed over night at a small tavern where there were all kinds of people hanging about. The next day I set out again and got down in the neighborhood of Center Point and there spied a deer. I got off my horse and loaded my gun, aimed, and fired. The horse shied and off it started on a dead run with the gold in the saddle bags. I next wanted to shoot the horse for it was worth much less than the money, but before I could reload the horse was out of range. I ran as fast as I could and in an hour found the horse tied to a tree in the timber with the gold safe in the saddle bags."

Asked how about the deer, Mr. Ellis replied, "Well, I never took time to see whether I killed that deer or not. I was so excited about that gold and that horse that I forgot the deer at that time and never turned around to look."

Since his return home Mr. Ellis has lived quietly on his claim, which now for the most part has been platted into city lots. Mr. Ellis is the only person now living who can remember when he saw one cabin here become a city of 34,000 inhabitants.

John J. Daniels, the son of Jeremiah Daniels, came to Bertram township in the spring of 1844, his father entering land on what is known as Indian creek, erecting a log house and barn thereon. J. J. Daniels was one of the first school teachers in the county. He held many township offices, and was for a time county recorder. Jerry Daniels died in 1882, and John J. Daniels a short time ago.

James Bassitt and wife came to Linn county in March, 1839, and Mrs. Bassitt is supposed to have been the first white woman to cross Indian creek, a stream which empties into the Cedar river below Cedar Rapids. A short time afterwards Rufus H. and Sarah Ann Lucore came from Pennsylvania and stopped with the Bassitts. On the first day of April, 1839, arrived Joseph H. and John Lichtebarger, locating on what became Kingston or West Cedar Rapids; later a brother, Isaac, also arrived. These brothers erected one of the first cabins, in May of that year, on the west side of the river. It is still standing.

At what became Central City arrived in August, 1839, Joseph Clark and family; this place was for a long time known as Clark's Ford. Here Mr. Clark erected a primitive grist mill by selecting a hollow gum and placing in the trunk of the tree a stone; upon this was placed another stone which was operated by a long sweep and turned on a pivot; in this rude manner enough meal was ground out to supply the family.

Joel and James Leverich arrived in this county some time in 1839, and chose for their home what became later known as "Mound Farm." Ira Leverich jumped a claim which had been staked out in April of this year by Rufus Lucore and after more or less trouble, in which the settlers took Lucore's part, Leverich had to yield and give up his pretended right. Joel was a noted character. He is described as a man of commanding presence. For a number of years he controlled the elections and it was told that "as Joel Leverich went so went Linn county." Dr. S. D. Carpenter, who arrived in 1849, has the following to say about Joel Leverich: "I had hardly got settled until I was interviewed by old Joel Leverich, the noted character of Linn county of that day. He was known as the 'bogus coon' because, as was alleged, he had to do with counterfeiters. He was a power in politics and was the kind of a man from which the modern boss has evoluted. Joel looked me over, asked where I was from, where I was going, and what my business was, etc. I was somewhat indignant and tried to be sarcastic, but Joel in terminating his interview with me squelched me by remarking, 'Young man, a fellow who wears such a hat as you may pass in this country, but I consider it d—d doubtful.' I, unfortunately, wore a black plug hat which was not the style in Iowa at that time. In after years Joe and I became fast friends and I became quite convinced that the shady stories told of him were the talk of enemies who were jealous of him because he was smarter than the greater majority of them. I was with him when he died and although he was a free thinker he passed away with all the calmness of a stoic philosopher." When on his death bed some one said to Leverich, "Joe, you have burned the candle at both ends." "Yes," he replied, "and now it burns me in the middle."



[Pg 149]

George R. Carroll in his Pioneer History, speaking of Leverich, says: "The Mound Farm did not remain long in the possession of Broady, possibly a year and a half, when it came into possession of the notorious Joel Leverich; everybody knew him and everybody dreaded him, especially when he was under the influence of liquor, which was often the case. Even his best friends then felt it to be prudent to give him a wide berth, not knowing what instant he would take it into his head to knock them down. Whiskey seemed to make a demon of him, and to attempt to reason with him while under its influence would have been as futile as to try to reason with a cyclone. His poor wife, a most patient and estimable Christian woman, would sometimes hide away from him for days lest in his fits of uncontrol and uncontrollable passion he might take her life. And yet old Joe, as he was popularly called, had a good deal of influence in the community. He was a strong partisan politician, and whoever arrayed himself against him was sure to have a hard battle to fight and in the end would very likely meet with defeat. He was as keen and cunning and wily as the old serpent himself, and it was very hard to circumvent him in his plans. He was accused of harboring horse thieves and of making counterfeit money; as to whether he ever did either or not I could not say."

While T. S. Parvin was United States attorney at Muscatine Joel Leverich was tried for counterfeiting, and while Parvin had said some hard things about Joel's mode of making a living he had also said some very nice things about Joel's wife. Later Leverich called on Parvin at the hotel, insisting upon speaking with him. Parvin's friends warned him not to do so as Joe would likely kill him, but Mr. Parvin thought he would take his chance and Joe did see him. Leverich said, "Ain't you afraid of me?" "No," replied Parvin, "you can kill me if you want to but you cannot scare me." "Well," replied Joe, "I admire your grit; I came not to scare you or to hurt you but to tell you that you did tell the truth about my wife." Some time after that Parvin passed where Leverich lived and accepted of Mr. Leverich's hospitality.

Joel Leverich's brother, James, was a saloonkeeper in Cedar Rapids and when he ascertained that Joel's death was due to his dissipation, causing a serious stomach trouble, he quit the business. Joel Leverich sold his claim in 1843 to Judge Greene. He resided near the McCloud Run for a short time and then moved to town, dying in the '40s.

One of the most unique characters in Cedar Rapids, and a person we know the least about, was Osgood Shepherd, who was a hunter and trapper and who is said to have erected the first log cabin on the banks of the Cedar river where the Y. M. C. A. building now stands, unless Wilbert Stone's claim is correct that he was first. When Robert Ellis came to the Shepherd tavern in April or May, 1838, Shepherd had lived here for some time. He had a wife and his father was living with him at that time, and he also had a number of men who hung about his place, but what their business was no one knew. The log house was about 16×20, covered with clapboards which were held in place by logs on top with ends protruding at the gables. There were also in the family three children, who made things lively about the house. This small cabin was known as Shepherd's Tavern. From Mr. Ellis's description of Shepherd, he was more than six feet tall, of a sandy or reddish complexion, was good natured as a rule and was an accommodating and agreeable landlord. He was accused of being a horse thief, but Mr. Ellis does not know that he ever engaged in this kind of business. However, this is true, that his morals were not of the highest order and it is believed[Pg 150] that he harbored horse thieves who, in fact, were his special favorites. On the various islands in the river they secreted their stolen goods. It was also stated that in Wisconsin he was convicted of horse stealing and sent to the penitentiary, but how true this is no one knows. His father and one or two children died here and were buried on top of the hill where the Cedar Rapids Candy Company's large building has since been erected. Mr. Ellis says that Shepherd told him he was from New York state and for some time had been a sailor on the lakes before coming west. He held all the land as a squatter, and when N. B. Brown, Addison Daniels, H. G. Angle, and others came they had to buy Shepherd off in order to get title to this property. The patent to this land was dated December 1, 1845, although quit claim deeds and prior rights were dated in 1843, Addison Daniels and Nicholas B. Brown being the patentees. The patents included grants in the amount of two hundred and sixty-nine acres, and showed that they had paid the amount due at the land office at Marion according to the provisions of Act of Congress of April 24, 1820.

Osgood Shepherd had a friend named Bill Fisher, who always stuck by him, and of whom Shepherd's father used to say, "that when he moved something was going to happen, but it was not very often that he moved." He was a slow-going, lazy sort of an individual, and what Shepherd saw in Fisher, Ellis never knew. Nothing is known of Fisher and what became of him. In the fall of 1841 Shepherd removed to Wisconsin and was later killed in a railway accident. His widow married a person by the name of Carpenter and removed to Linn county, residing near Center Point. What became of the Shepherd family no one has been able to learn.

Osgood Shepherd and the pioneer settlers with whom he associated were perhaps no worse or no better than the average frontiersmen. They had been trained in hardship and sordid poverty, and the women bore the stamp of the early pioneers, devoted to their families, shirking no hardships, ever willing to move westward on account of the freedom gained and the opportunities offered.

Of a different type of mankind was the progressive, enterprising and enthusiastic Nicholas B. Brown, who purchased Shepherd's claim, the most prominent figure in the history of the early days of Cedar Rapids. Mr. Brown arrived in 1840, purchasing the rights of Shepherd with Addison Daniels and others. On August 4, 1841, he began surveying what was then known as Rapids City. He improved the water power which Brown early foresaw would make the town. A saw mill was completed in 1842 and the waters of the Cedar began to make its machinery hum; this was the first real enterprise of which the town could be proud. A woolen factory was also erected by Brown, which was later disposed of to the Bryan family. In 1846 and 1847 a grist mill was also added. On account of his many enterprises in which he had to depend on others Mr. Brown was involved in much litigation, but he was a born fighter for whatever he thought was right and accumulated a fortune because he had the tenacity of purpose to hold on to what he had purchased. As a pioneer he did some excellent work and certainly was one of the shrewdest business men of Cedar Rapids in his day and generation.

Mr. Brown was born in the state of New Jersey in 1814, removing as a young man to the state of Kentucky. His first wife was Catherine Craig, daughter of Thomas Craig, one of the pioneers. She lived only a few years. His second wife was Susan Emery, daughter of one of the early settlers of this city. Mr. Brown died in 1880, one of the most honored and respected men in the community, survived by his widow and two sons, Emery Brown and Harry Brown. The widow died in 1909, one of the best known and most respected in the city, having personally known nearly all of the settlers in the '50s and '60s.

Dyer Usher is said to have hunted and trapped in Linn county as early as 1836 in company with one Jim Ames; how true this is cannot be ascertained, but[Pg 151] he did come to locate in 1838. He came of a sturdy family, was born in Ohio, and at the age of eighteen in 1832 he crossed the Mississippi, being one of the first white settlers to step upon Iowa soil. Mr. Usher brought the first divorce suit in Linn county. This business has grown by leaps and bounds since that time. He attended for a number of years the old settlers meetings and was a well known figure in the early days in this county. Mr. Usher was thrifty, honest, and fair in his dealings. He died December 11, 1894, at the age of eighty years. His widow, Rosanna Harris, died in 1909 at Covington at the age of seventy-nine. She was born June 6, 1829, in London, Canada, and with her parents emigrated to Iowa in 1845. She was united in marriage to Dyer Usher July 29, 1847. To this union were born twelve children, of whom five survived her: Willard R., of Alberta, Canada, Mrs. Alice Harris, of Estherville, Mrs. A. H. Miller, of Cedar Rapids, Mrs. Ray Lockhart, of Shellsburg, and Dyer N. Usher, of Covington. She had been a resident of Linn county for sixty-three years.

It is still a disputed question as to who was the first actual settler on what later became Cedar Rapids. It is true that Shepherd ran a sort of hotel or tavern and was the best known man in this part of the country in that early date, but it is not likely that he was the first man to build a log cabin here. Philip Hull had been located in the lower end, when Ellis arrived in 1838, and Ellis also found William or Wilbert Stone in possession of the land on the west side of the river, and he was the one who staked out what he called "Columbus" in 1838, having previously staked out Westport and sold his claim to John Henry.

Information as regards William Stone has lately been discovered through a daughter residing at North Liberty. She states that her father's name was James Wilbert Stone, but he was commonly called William or Billy; that he was born in the state of Rhode Island and drifted west into Iowa in 1832 or 1833, and that he always asserted that he built the first cabin on land which later became Cedar Rapids. It is said that he drifted west by way of Muscatine or Rock Island and followed the Cedar river as far as Ivanhoe, later coming to the rapids of the Cedar river. Mr. Ellis says that he knew William Stone very well; that he was a quiet, congenial, splendid fellow, and at this time resided on the west side, having a claim along the river extending northward to the bluff, and that a Mr. Galloway claimed south of a large cottonwood tree on the same side of the river. Stone and Galloway were on good terms and owned the adjoining claims. John Young and a man by the name of Granger, O. Shepherd, and Philip Hull were the owners or claimants of the land on the east side of the river. The daughter of Stone asserts that her father always said that he first located his claim on the east side of the river. It may be that Stone may have moved across the river after Shepherd erected his tavern, and made claim to the land near and adjoining the rapids. It is intimated by Ellis that Stone and Shepherd were not on the best of terms and Shepherd, being a large, pompous kind of a person, he might have driven the more quiet and less assertive new neighbor across the river. The daughter of William Stone, or James Wilbert Stone, Mrs. Elizabeth Hrdlicka, states that her father bought goods and traded with the Indians for furs for some years, and that the last time her father talked to her he told her that he was sorry he ever gave up the town of Cedar Rapids but did not think then that it would amount to anything. In 1843 he removed from what was Cedar Rapids to the Iowa river and married Elizabeth G. Brown and settled in Oxford township, Johnson county. To this union were born two girls: one, the eldest, died and the second girl, Elizabeth, now Mrs. Hrdlicka, was taken by her grandfather, Joseph Brown, on her mother's death when the daughter was only four weeks old. After the death of his wife Stone removed to Hudson, St. Croix county, Wisconsin. He returned to see his daughter about once a year. He died at the age of forty-eight years in the state of Wisconsin.

[Pg 152]

It seems from the story of the daughter of Stone, who is still living, that James Wilbert Stone was undoubtedly the first actual settler on the site which later became Cedar Rapids. From investigation it seems that Shepherd may have jumped Stone's claim and for that reason Stone removed across the river.

In Bailey & Hair's Gazetteer, 1865, the following mention is made of William Stone: "The next [town site] in order of time was called Columbus, built by William Stone, in September, 1838. He abandoned his town the next spring, then being a single log cabin. The site was that occupied by the present city of Cedar Rapids."

Mr. Stone was a speculator and a trader and had made some money trading with the Indians prior to the advent of Shepherd. This is true, that Stone did not harbor any people of unsavory reputations, and his whole life bears the imprint that he was a gentleman even on the frontier. Such a person people would not remember as well as a frontier character like Shepherd. Shepherd, on the other hand, whatever may have been his failings, was a man of a big heart, who attracted people to him. He had the love of adventure, and it is not any secret but that he harbored thieves and gave them more or less encouragement. Mr. Stone, on the other hand, was an honest, quiet man, the opposite of his neighbor, and it is not to be wondered at that they did not get along.

Another settler who came here at an early date was O. S. Bowling, or Bolling, who came in the summer of 1838 making a claim on the west side of the river and in whose honor Bowling's Hill in the south part of the town was named. Mr. Bowling was a quiet man, a good neighbor, and one universally loved by the old settlers.

In June, 1839, came Thomas Gainor and David W. King. These gentlemen found Wilbert Stone, the Lichtebarger brothers, and the claims of Young, Hull, Ellis, and Bowling. It is said that Mrs. Rosanna Gainer, wife of Thomas Gainer, was the first white woman to locate on the west bank of the river and consequently would be the second woman to locate in what became Cedar Rapids, Mrs. Osgood Shepherd being the first. Mrs. Gainer did not reside long in Cedar Rapids, as she died June 8, 1840, giving birth to a daughter who also died the same summer.

David W. King became one of the most enterprising of the men of that early day. He ran a ferry, platted the town of Kingston, and died, the owner of much land, in the autumn of 1854. His death caused much sorrow in Cedar Rapids.

In July, 1839, arrived Isaac Carroll and family, consisting of nine persons, all of whom were well known by the early settlers. A son, Rev. George R. Carroll, has written interestingly of the Carrolls, Weares, and others of the early settlers in his Pioneer Life in and Around Cedar Rapids from 1839 to 1849.

Another early character was John Vardy, who arrived in July 1841, and built, it is stated, the first frame house at the corner of Third street and Sixth avenue, during the summer of 1842. Mr. Vardy was a cabinet maker and an all-round person in the use of tools. He removed to Texas in 1856 where he died in the fall of 1878.

Another of the old settlers was Thomas Downing, a native of Posey county, Indiana, and a tailor by trade who at the age of nineteen drifted into Iowa and in the early '40s came to Linn county. He was a clerk in the Daniels Company store, removing in 1855 to Waverly to conduct a business for Greene Bros., of Cedar Rapids. He died in Waverly in 1896.

Samuel F. Hook was another of the residents of Cedar Rapids who came in 1845 at the age of twenty-one, a native of the state of Virginia. He died in 1848, and it is thought he was one of the first, if not the first, real store keeper within the boundaries of what became Cedar Rapids.

J. H. Kelsey was born in New York state in 1819, and arrived in Cedar Rapids in 1848. He was a carpenter by trade. He removed to Vinton in 1863, going later to Nebraska where he passed away some time ago.



[Pg 153]

Steve L. Pollock, a native of Pennsylvania, arrived in Cedar Rapids in the early '40s and married Marilla Lucore, a daughter of one of the early settlers, in March, 1844. He was the pioneer blacksmith and is supposed to have built the third or fourth house in the city. Harrison Campbell, it is stated, was the owner of the first blacksmith shop, in 1843. Mr. Pollock emigrated west in 1865 and died in Hood River, Oregon, in 1902. He was a brother-in-law of William Stewart, one of the old settlers of this city, both of them well and favorably known among the early pioneers of Cedar Rapids.

Hiram Deem was a native of Ohio and at the age of twenty-eight or twenty-nine located at Cedar Rapids and hired out to N. B. Brown. He helped to build the dam across the river, erected saw mills, and otherwise was a very useful man in a town with the boom spirit that Cedar Rapids had at that time. He was also one of the first justices of the peace and many a scrap was settled in his house, which stood on First street on the west side. He entered the army and died from exposure in a hospital boat in January, 1863.

What later became known as "Time Check" was first entered by Farnum Colby, who came here in 1839 and made his claim along the river about a mile northwest of the First avenue bridge near Robert Ellis's claim. He was a native of Pennsylvania and a very useful, hard-working man. From here he removed to Olin, Jones county, where he died some years ago.

In the early '40s also came Charles R. Mulford from Hoboken, New Jersey, and at once began as a town merchant, opening a store in the Vardy house on Third street and Sixth avenue. He was one of the most wide-awake business men of that day and had a good business, but was caught with the gold fever and emigrated in 1849 to California, where he died.

One of the best known men in the state in an early date was Col. William H. Merritt. Mr. Merritt was born in New York city September 12, 1820, and received a fair education at Lima Seminary. At the age of eighteen he was compelled to rely on his own resources and sought the west, settling in Rock Island, Illinois, where he obtained a clerkship. Through government officials and others he was sent to Ivanhoe on the Red Cedar river in 1839 to take charge of an Indian trading depot. Ivanhoe was a squatter town, being staked out in October, 1838, by Anson Cowles. To this place, which was expected to become a large trading center, came also at the same time George Greene, who taught school in the vicinity during the winter of 1839. Mr. Merritt ran the store with considerable ability, and long before the Civil war showed his presence of mind and bravery. At this time, like in all other stores of its kind, whiskey, tobacco, and groceries were sold over the same counter, and one day a number of Indians came, insisting on buying "goody toss," designated in English as whiskey. Mr. Merritt refused, as he had such orders from his employers, but the Indians insisted and began to take possession of the store, and intended to drive the young clerk out. A few pioneer hangers-on fled, but not so the young clerk in charge of the goods and the store. He got hold of an axe and with this he cleaned out single handed a whole squad of Indians, who left as quickly as they had made their appearance, much to the surprise of the white settlers, who up to this time had always fled when the redskins outnumbered them ten to one.

Mr. Merritt was related to George Greene by marriage, and the two men were much together from this time on. Mr. Merritt became clerk in the Assembly at Burlington in 1841 and in company with George Greene edited the Miners' Express at Dubuque. Later he was caught with the gold fever rush and emigrated to California, returning in 1851, becoming once more editor and part owner of the old paper. In 1855 he removed to Ft. Dodge, being appointed registrar of the land office at that place. He returned once more to Cedar Rapids and founded a banking house under the style of Greene, Merritt & Co., which firm later disposed of their banking interests to Sampson C. Bever. He was nominated[Pg 154] for governor on the democratic ticket in 1861 but was defeated by Samuel J. Kirkwood. Later he enlisted and served with distinction during the Civil war.

After the war Colonel Merritt became editor of the Statesman, one of the leading democratic papers of the state. He died at his home in Des Moines in 1891, mourned by a large circle of friends all over the state. Colonel Merritt was for half a century one of the most all-round men in Iowa and a leader of his party.

The Weare family arrived here in 1848 and for more than fifty years were prominent factors in the upbuilding of Cedar Rapids. John Weare became a noted banker and railroad promoter. Charles Weare became engaged in constructing railroads and took charge of large contracts, was mayor of Cedar Rapids, postmaster, and consul in foreign countries. He was also connected with the First National Bank of Cedar Rapids, as well as with the Cedar Rapids Water Company. George Weare became a noted banker in Sioux City, and P. B. Weare and Ely E. Weare promoters and members of the board of trade in the city of Chicago. Later they promoted steamboat traffic in the Yukon country at the time of the gold fever rush. All these were sons of John Weare, Sr., who removed here from Michigan in the spring of 1845 in order to be with his children who had previously emigrated. Mr. Weare, Sr., held the office of justice of the peace up to the time of his death in 1856.

William Stewart, a native of Pennsylvania, located in Cedar Rapids in 1847 and entered the blacksmith shop of Pollock, later putting up his own shop, and besides operating a large farm. Mr. Stewart removed to California and died there in 1891, having acquired a fortune in Cedar Rapids real estate.

Samuel S. Johnson was another Pennsylvanian who came to Cedar Rapids in 1847. He was a carpenter and joiner by trade but gave that up for farming on arriving in Linn county. Mr. Johnson lived to the grand old age of eighty-five, and passed away at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Robert Taylor.

One of the most enterprising, active business men who located in Cedar Rapids in 1849 was Dr. Seymour D. Carpenter, who was then twenty-three years of age, and had ostensibly come out here to practice medicine, but he later turned his attention to land speculations, politics, and other enterprises. Dr. Carpenter is still residing in Chicago, enjoying a hale and hearty old age.

In order to give the reader an impression of Cedar Rapids as it was at that time we shall quote Carpenter's splendid article contained in the History of Crescent Lodge, by J. E. Morcombe, as follows:

"I turned north and went to Ottumwa where I met Judge Greene, then a member of the Supreme Bench of Iowa; he persuaded me that Cedar Rapids was in the near future to become a metropolis and I decided to go there. After four days' hard riding and swimming several swollen streams, I struck the town on the afternoon of June 14, 1849; I crossed the river on a rope ferry operated by David King, who lived in a cabin on the west side; on the other side of the river stood a cabin, once the home of a man named Shepherd, and said to be the resort of thieves in an early day. I can not say that I was very favorably impressed by the thirty or forty small one-story unpainted houses that were scattered about near the river. There seemed to be a great deal of sand, and the houses were so situated that there was no sign of a street. There were three two-story houses, one on the river near the foot of what is now Third avenue called the 'Park House' in which the Greenes had their store, one on Second street in which John Coffman kept a hotel, and one on Third avenue back of the Dows & Ely block, also a hotel. I was discouraged and would have travelled further but only had about $10.00 left and from necessity had to stop. I put up at the Coffman hotel which, as I have said, was a two-story structure with a wing; it had been built of unseasoned oak lumber and was not plastered; the whole of the[Pg 155] second story of the main building was in one room and contained eight or ten beds and was the common sleeping room of the guests. The lumber had shrunk and there could be no complaint as to ventilation, however short the accommodations might be in other respects....

"Within a week I made the acquaintance of all the people of the town. Among the leading persons were William and Joseph Greene, brothers of the Judge, Lowell and Lawson Daniels, Homer Bishop and John Weare, all of whom were merchants. The three stores of which they were the proprietors would not compare well with the department stores of today, but all the same they were department stores and in their miscellaneous stocks the customer could find all he wanted—from castor oil to broad axes.

"Pollack and Stewart were the blacksmiths, and the carpenters and wagon makers were represented, but I can not recall their names. There was also a saloon kept by James Leverich, a brother of Joe, a respectable man and a good Mason. The inhabitants were mostly young people, John Weare, Sr., Deacon Kennedy and Porter Earl being the exceptions. I found three doctors already located, Dr. Mansfield, Dr. Traer and Dr. Larabee, the latter being what was called a 'steam doctor.' Isaac Cook and Henry Harmon represented the law.

"The town was by no means dull; emigrants were coming daily, and the saw mill operated by John Weare, Jr., was kept busy cutting lumber for the new houses that were going up. There was no church building, but Parson Jones preached in the school house, as did preachers of other denominations, and Sunday schools and Bible classes were in full blast.

"On the Fourth of July a grand ball was given at the Coffman Hotel, to which flocked young people from Marion and all the surrounding country; there were at least fifty couples. The beds were removed from our common sleeping quarters, which, decorated with green boughs, became a ball room. Every part of the house was crowded and the fun was fast and furious. Only one mishap slightly marred the festivities; near a stove pipe hole at one end of the room the floor was defective, and a husky reveler of more than ordinary weight while executing the double shuffle broke through and fell upon the heads below; no injury was done and the dance went on.

"Dr. Mansfield took me as a partner and in company with Judge Cook we had a room 10×16 in a small one-story building opposite the mill, the other part being occupied by S. L. Pollock and family; his blacksmith shop was nearby. Our medicines were kept on a shelf and a store box made a table; our bunks occupied one side and a few stools and two split bottom chairs made up our furniture. We took our meals at the Coffman Hotel; our field of practice embraced the settlers, not numerous, in the valleys of the Cedar and Iowa rivers and their tributaries; we made very long rides. I was called to see a patient two miles above the present town of Vinton not yet begun; I got lost in the night and waited for daylight under a tree on the bank of the river at the very place where Vinton now stands. Bilious fever and ague were the prevailing diseases, all the newcomers having to undergo one or both....

"We had mail three times a week from Dubuque and Iowa City; the Higley brothers did the service in a two-horse hack; I think Joseph Greene was postmaster. John Weare, Sr., was justice of the peace; he was a very original character, fond of company and full of interesting reminiscences extending back to the war of 1812 in which he had lost a leg. His small office was in the rear of Mrs. Ely's residence which stood on the ground where the Dows and Ely block now is. He gave 'nicknames' to many people and places which stuck to them like burrs; the First Presbyterian church building was begun that summer and as the walls were built of cement, Old Mr. Weare named it 'The Muddy,' which it retained to the last day of its existence."

[Pg 156]

Dr. Carpenter states how they tried to promote a railway from Cascade to Fairfield, held meetings concerning railway extensions, and appointed delegates from various counties to these conventions to discuss the matter fully and to authorize the government to donate land and have eastern people furnish the money. He says:

"Dr. J. F. Ely and myself were selected to go to Fairfield; we left Cedar Rapids on December 3 and after a three days' hard and cold travel reached Fairfield; Marion sent Col. I. M. Preston and Dr. Ristine. The convention met in a small school house; all the counties were represented; the Hon. C. W. Slagle, of Fairfield, then a very young man, was chosen president, and I was chosen secretary....

"We departed for our various homes thinking the work half done, but sad to relate Cedar Rapids had to wait ten years longer for a locomotive. These two meetings were, I think, the first railroad conventions held in the interior of the state. Soon opposition claims were started for east and west lines and our project was ignominiously called the 'Ram's Horn.' The next year was quite a stirring one; new people were coming in great numbers and many were leaving, for the California gold fever had broken out. Several outfits left Cedar Rapids, with one of them Dr. Mansfield, my partner, whose place was taken by Dr. S. C. Koontz, a cousin of mine, well known to the old citizens.

"That year the first brick buildings were erected; a dwelling on Iowa avenue, near Greene's opera house, and a three-story building on Commercial street by Judge Greene, which for a long time was the show building of the town; we began to put on airs.

"In the spring of 1852 a steamboat came to Cedar Rapids; it was a great event and attracted people from near and far; she brought a cargo of freight, among which were the household effects of Mr. Bever and my father, both of whom from that time forward became citizens of the town. This year, also, came Mr. Daniel O. Finch with a printing press and forthwith started the Progressive Era, the first paper in the Cedar valley. [The Era was established in 1851.] Ezra Van Metre, a talented young lawyer from Circleville, Ohio, also came that year. Everyone was rejoiced that we had an organ and the editor was overwhelmed with original matter. There were at least a dozen young fellows in the town, myself among the rest, who thought they 'knew it all,' and anxiously rushed into print. The paper changed hands in a year or two, and became the Cedar Valley Times, and continued until a few years ago."

Dr. Carpenter sold his practice to Dr. Koontz and went into the land business and in politics. Again we must quote what he has to say about the county seat fight which commenced the first few years he was here:

"Cedar Rapids claimed that she was to be the commercial metropolis and therefore ought to be the political center. The question was brought to an issue by the county commissioners ordering a new court house at Marion, subject to the approval of the voters of the county. Cedar Rapids opposed the measure, believing that the building would insure the permanent location of the county seat. Then ensued a most bitter canvass. The voters were deluged with oratory. Marion put on the stump Judge Isbell, I. M. Preston, Col. William Smyth, N. M. Hubbard, W. G. Thompson, and R. D. Stephens, against whom Cedar Rapids opposed Jas. J. Child, Ezra Van Metre, Donald McIntosh, A. S. Belt, E. N. Bates, I. N. Whittam and others. Every school district was canvassed and much bitter feeling engendered. The Marion people were more adroit politicians and carried the election, but the result did not discourage our citizens, who asserted that no election could affect 'manifest destiny.'



[Pg 157]

"About 1852 Major J. M. May came to Cedar Rapids from Janesville, Wisconsin. The Major was a stirring man with a head full of schemes. He said that Cedar Rapids was a place of immense possibilities and only wanted enterprise to make it the great town of Iowa. He bought land at the lower part of town adjoining that owned by my father, and land on the west side adjoining the river and below that owned by David King. He platted out town lots on both sides of the river, and induced my father and King to do the same, which were the first additions made to the original town. He also surveyed the island, sent a plat to the general government and took possession of it, much to the chagrin and surprise of the old settlers. Then he began to agitate the question of a free bridge. Everyone wanted a free bridge but were undecided as to the location. The Major induced my father to subscribe $1500.00, and he gave $1000.00, which with sums contributed by others in the lower end of the town secured the location below the island at the narrowest place in the river. The bridge was completed and thrown open to the public, I think, in the late fall of 1852, and proved a great convenience. The construction was defective and when the ice broke up in the spring, the heavy cakes knocked down two of the piers, and destroyed the greater part of the bridge. All the people of the town were collected on the bank of the river watching the event, and two young women who were crossing went down with the structure and were drowned. This was the first bridge built at Cedar Rapids. The next was a bridge of boats at the foot of Iowa avenue which I believe was also swept away by ice."

Dr. Carpenter speaks next of the formation of the real company who had money and who meant business in the formation of what was then known as the "Chicago, Iowa & Nebraska Railway," which built from Clinton to Cedar Rapids and to the Missouri river. "Cedar Rapids was given first directors as follows: Geo. Greene, John Weare, H. G. Angle, S. C. Bever and S. D. Carpenter, which positions we held till the road was built to Cedar Rapids."

In speaking of the amount of money put up by these men in order to get this railway it is said that $200,000.00 was pledged by Cedar Rapids, which amount was raised as follows: $100,000.00 by private subscription and $100,000.00 by city bonds. Greene & Weare, then bankers, subscribed $10,000.00; George Greene, $5,000.00; John Weare, $5,000.00; N. B. Brown, $5,000.00; S. C. Bever, $5,000.00; Gabriel Carpenter, $5,000.00, and numerous other smaller sums to make up the amount. Then a city election was had and the $100,000.00 voted by an overwhelming majority. Surveys of the route were begun at once, and from Mount Vernon and Cedar Rapids two lines were seen; one by the way of Marion, and the other by the river. It was ascertained that the latter route would be the shorter and cheaper by $100,000.00 than the former, but the company proposed to adopt the Marion route if she would subscribe $100,000.00. This she declined to do, and the river line was chosen. Work progressed slowly and the first year found the rails no further west than De Witt, Clinton county.

Dr. Carpenter speaks of another railroad venture when a company was formed known as the "Cedar Rapids & Missouri River Railroad Company" with L. B. Crocker, of New York, as president, and with Major Bodfish and a number of Cedar Rapids men as directors.

"When the legislature assembled in 1859 and 1860 we invaded the capital, and established our headquarters in an old hotel near the river, the name of which I have forgotten. Major Bodfish was the commissary of the body. We had no money to expend, but determined to be hospitable. The Major laid in a barrel of old rye whiskey; as it was before the war, whiskey was cheap; also several boxes of cigars. One of our strongest henchmen was J. W. Woodbury, a leading man from Marshalltown, and with him Peter Hepburn, now an honored congressman,[Pg 158] then a very stripling, but showing evident signs of what was in him. John A. Kasson was then a young lawyer in Des Moines, and we secured him as our attorney....

"The lawmakers were not in a hurry, but towards the last of the session they passed our bill, and you may be sure there was great rejoicing in Cedar Rapids. On our return the citizens gave us a grand banquet in Greene's Hotel, and we felt that we had at last secured a substantial victory for our city, as in fact it was, for thenceforth Marion could no longer be our rival. The cars came to Cedar Rapids in the summer of 1859, just ten years after we had our first railroad meeting, and we felt at last that hope had ended in fruition. An immense concourse greeted their arrival from all parts of the surrounding country. General D. N. Sprague, then mayor, welcomed the guests, and the citizens threw open hospitable doors to all comers. From that time forward Cedar Rapids assumed metropolitan airs as the leading town of the Cedar valley."

On politics Dr. Carpenter speaks as follows:

"From the first, on my arrival at Cedar Rapids, I became an active partisan. General A. J. McKean of Marion was the acknowledged leader, but the following was small. At the state convention in 1851, held in Iowa City, I was the sole representative from Linn county, and there were not more than fifty delegates from the whole state. State officers were nominated and also a candidate for congress. Colonel Henderson, the father of J. W. Henderson of Cedar Rapids, was named for congress, and without much opposition I secured the nomination for secretary of state for my friend, Isaac Cook, who up to that time was entirely unknown. I well remember with what surprise he received the news. Although there was no chance for his election it was the beginning with him of a long and useful career in many offices of trust, alike honorable to him and his constituents. As time rolled on and our population of immigrants from the north and especially from the New England states, and with the bearing of the whig party towards slavery, they became more hopeful, and by the year 1853 or 1854, the whigs carried the county, electing both members of the legislature and the county officers. John P. Conkey was the first member of the legislature living in Cedar Rapids, and at the same election Isaac Cook was chosen for a county office.

"About this time Charles Weare, Isaac Cook and many others cut loose from their old convictions and became ardent free soilers."

Dr. Carpenter speaks of how he abandoned medicine, how he opened a banking house in 1855, and became a land owner, having at one time as much as 1,600 acres of land near where the town of Norway now stands. He was first connected with Lehman & Kreider, later forming the partnership of Carpenter, Stibbs & Company, the firm doing business until 1861. Dr. Carpenter attended the convention at Chicago that nominated Lincoln and was one of the first to enlist in the Civil war as a surgeon. He was mustered out in 1865.

Henry E., Harvey G., Wellington W., and Major M. A. Higley were for a generation merchants, financiers, and leaders in many enterprises in Cedar Rapids. They were born in the state of Connecticut, coming to this county in the early '40s. Henry and Harvey Higley for some time operated a line of stages from Dubuque to Iowa City, and for that reason knew personally nearly all the prominent men of Iowa in the '40s and '50s. Iowa City being the capital and Dubuque the most enterprising city in the territory and state, the public men frequently travelled to and from these cities. Harvey Higley "got caught" with the gold fever and went to California, returning in a few years to Cedar Rapids. The Higley brothers made large fortunes in real estate which have descended to their children.

[Pg 159]

The brothers, C. J. and Jacob A. Hart, natives of Maryland, came to Cedar Rapids in the early '50s, and for a generation were two of the most successful lumber dealers in Cedar Rapids.

Alexander L. Ely was one of the early millers, who died in the '40s. His brother, Dr. J. F. Ely, came later to look after the business interests of his deceased brother, and for some fifteen or twenty years was a successful practitioner in Cedar Rapids. He and his wife for a generation were leaders of the business and social life of this city.

Homer Bishop was an old-time merchant, arriving in the early '40s, and for eight years was postmaster of Cedar Rapids. He was a congenial person, well known, and an enterprising and free-hearted man who did his best to build up a city on what was then thought to be the western frontier.

No doubt the first Scandinavian settler to locate within the confines of Linn county was Nels C. Boye, a native of Denmark, who emigrated to the United States in 1827 and arrived in Muscatine in 1837 and located in the vicinity of Lisbon in 1838 where he purchased land and engaged in farming. Being brought up as a merchant he removed with his family to Iowa City in 1843 and for a time operated one of the most up-to-date stores in the new capital. On a business trip to St. Louis in 1849 he fell a victim to the cholera and died there on June 23. A number of his children continued to reside in Linn county, and a number of relations are still residents of this county.

One of the old settlers of Ivanhoe was Dr. S. Grafton, who arrived there in 1843 and travelled horseback up and down the Cedar and Iowa river valleys as far as Jones or as far northeast as half way to Dubuque in the practice of his profession. He was born in Ohio in 1800, and died during the typhoid epidemic in 1845 and 1847. He was one of the best known of the early physicians, a gentleman, a scholar, and a man who did, perhaps, more during the few years of his practice to help the poor and the needy than any other of the early settlers. He was married to Isabelle Patterson, also a resident for many years of East Liverpool, Ohio, but born in Pennsylvania. After the death of Dr. Grafton she married Herman Boye, a son of Nels C. Boye. Mr. Boye was a cabinet maker and farmer. He got caught with the gold fever and emigrated to California in 1850, returning to Ivanhoe within a few years. It is said that he made more money in California seining for fish, which he had learned in Denmark, than he did in digging gold. He died in 1880 at the age of sixty-two years. The widow died January 11, 1897, at the advanced age of eighty years, and is buried at Mount Vernon.

Another of the old settlers of Bertram may be mentioned—Joseph Crane, a cousin of James Doty, who has the honor, at least, of obtaining the first license to marry within the Territory, viz: in 1840 when he was married to Agnes Boghart.

The first settlers seem to have been William Abbe, Daniel Hahn, C. C. Haskins, and Edward M. Crow. Which one of these men actually was the first settler within the confines of the county may ever remain a disputed question. We have the record when they entered lands, but this does not at all indicate that they did not live on these lands for several years before actual entry was made. The first settler in the vicinity of what became Mount Vernon was, no doubt, Charles Haskins, who located about a mile and a half east of the village in the summer of 1837. He was at least one of the first to locate in that vicinity. It is said that Daniel Hahn came in the spring of 1837, made a claim and built a log cabin, his wife assisting him in building the house. Edward M. Crow has been supposed to have been the first settler, but it seems that he came in July, 1837, in company with his brother, and located near what later became known as Viola, where he made a claim and erected a small shanty. He returned to the Fox river settlement for provisions and did not come back until in August, when he was accompanied by his brother and by James Dawson. About this time also came[Pg 160] Joselyn and Russell. Their cabins were located in the back woods in Brown township and was called "The Settlement" for some time.

Later in the fall of 1837 arrived Jacob Mann, having resided previously in Jones county. He located on what was known as "Big Creek" in Linn county, but he did not take possession of his rude cabin or claim until in February, 1838, when he and his daughter, Sarah, moved onto the claim and began housekeeping. He afterward built a grist mill on Big creek or purchased one built by John Oxley which was swept away in the spring of 1851, when Mann lost his life, refusing to leave his mill which, he said, "was dearer to him than his own life."

Sally Mann is supposed to have been, if not the first white woman in the county, at least one of the first, and many are the stories told of Sally, or rather Sarah, Mann. She was more masculine than feminine in her make-up and knew few of the customs and manners of good society. She raised cats for a living and used to sell these at fancy prices to the pioneer settlers. There was nothing attractive about Sally, for she was noted more for her strength and endurance than for grace and beauty. But even though Sally had very little to recommend her, women were scarce in those days and the settlers were, perhaps, not so particular as they later became, and on July 21, 1840, Sally Mann and Aaron Haynes were duly married by John Crow, a justice of the peace. Sally Haynes nee Mann, had many good traits of character. No one was turned away from her door hungry and she would help neighbors with any kind of work if necessary. The western life appealed to her, as it had to the members of her family, and when settlers came thick and fast she and her husband left for the far west in order, it was said, that they could breathe the pure air of the frontier. It was always thus.

"'Tis not the fairest form that holds
The mildest, purest soul within;
'Tis not the richest plant that holds
The sweetest fragrance in."

Gabriel Carpenter, a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was born in 1801. He arrived in Cedar Rapids in 1852 and invested all his funds in 500 acres of land in what has now become the heart of the city. Various additions in this city have been named in honor of this early real estate owner, who devoted all his time in the upbuilding of this city until his death in 1881. Mr. Carpenter saw many hardships in his early career in life, but with great perseverance overcame all. The first lumber he used was hauled by oxen from Muscatine. He became early interested in various enterprises in the city. He always gave liberally of his means to all worthy objects and assisted in advancing all public enterprises which he believed would prove a benefit to the city. His widow, Mrs. Maria Carpenter, born in 1820, is still living and resides in this city, honored and respected by all.

Dr. S. D. Carpenter was born in 1826, and is a son of Gabriel Carpenter. In the early fifties he came to Cedar Rapids and located here for the practice of medicine. He soon gave up medicine for the more exciting and more lucrative vocation of railway building, banking, and handling of real estate. He now resides in Chicago.

John E. Kurtz was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in 1817, emigrated to Iowa in 1847, and became one of the founders of Lisbon. He was for more than half a century a well known farmer, merchant, and miller. In early life Mr. Kurtz was a whig in politics, later going over to the republican party. A large number of his descendants still reside in this county.

Peter D. Harman was a native of Adams county, Pennsylvania, where he was born in 1816. In 1840 he came to Iowa City, locating in Linn county two years later. Mr. Harman assisted in the building of the state capitol at Iowa City, and also in the erection of the first court house in Linn county. In his day and generation Mr. Harman was considered one of the most skillful stone and brick masons in this part of the country. He died in Bertram township in 1896, and is survived by a number of children who are residents of this county.



[Pg 161]

Barnett Lutz came to Linn county in 1839 and was one of the best known of the old settlers. At the time of his death in 1901 he was one of the oldest pioneers in the county. Mr. Lutz was a true pioneer, and did much in building up the new country.

C. J. Ives was not a pioneer settler in Linn county, but he was a pioneer in developing railway properties in the state. Mr. Ives was a native of New England, coming to Lee county in 1847, drifting into mining in Colorado, and not till 1862 did he turn his attention to railroading. He was for a number of years president of the B., C. R. & N. railway, which he developed into one of the best paying railway properties in the west. He resigned when that road was absorbed by the Rock Island system. Mr. Ives during his long residence in Linn county was deeply interested in the welfare of his employees, and in the upbuilding of Cedar Rapids. He was also interested in banks, electric light companies, and other large enterprises. He was a practical business man, capable and forceful, with a mind ever active in planning and executing great things. He was universally respected by his employees, and never forgot in word, act, or deed that he was only an associate and not a superior. No railway official at the time of his death a few years ago had more friends among the railroad men than Mr. Ives.

David W. King, the founder of Kingston, settled in Linn county in 1839 when Indians were numerous and the white settlers scattered. Mr. King was a native of Westmorland county, Pennsylvania, who went to Michigan early and from there drove an ox team across the country to Iowa, entering land on the west side of the river, which land is now a part of Cedar Rapids. Mr. King operated the first ferry across the Cedar river and had to obtain his material for the erection of the same from Dubuque and Muscatine, all of which was hauled in wagons across the country. The cable used in operating the ferry was of wire, which was brought from Dubuque on horseback. The town of Kingston he platted in 1850. Mr. King was a real promoter, who early comprehended the future of Cedar Rapids. In order to induce people to locate on the west side of the river he was liberal and public-spirited, giving away many lots for factory sites and other enterprises. He passed away in 1854 at the age of forty-six, just at a time when he had attained to a prominent place as one of the leading citizens of the town, in the promotion of which he had devoted all his time and versatile talents.

Robert Smyth, who died in 1898 at his home at Mount Vernon, was in many respects one of the most enterprising men in Linn county. Born in Ireland in 1814, and emigrating to America in 1834, he drifted into Linn county in 1840 and soon became an extensive dealer in real estate, as well as a banker, and during all his life took an active part in politics. He was a member of the Sixth Territorial legislature in 1843-44, a member of the state legislature in 1846-48. Mr. Smyth was also paymaster of the United States army, disbursing more than $10,000,000.00 during his term of office. In 1868 he was once more returned to the state senate where he served for four years, and in 1884 served another term in the house. He was also delegate to many state conventions, and outside of the late Charles Weare knew more of the public men of Iowa than any other man in Linn county. Mr. Smyth was a brother of William Smyth, the well known jurist, who died a member of congress from this district.

Edward M. Crow, by some people believed to be the first actual white settler in the county, was born in Orange county, Indiana, in 1816 of ancestors who had previously emigrated from North Carolina. John Crow, the father, came to Linn county to the neighborhood of Viola in 1838, and there he died in March, 1841. It is thought that Ed Crow crossed the Mississippi river in 1837[Pg 162] and on July 4th laid claim to a tract of land on section 13 in Brown township. Thus, it would seem, that Abbe preceded him by several months. In company with Crow at that time there came Harrison Crow, a brother, as well as James Dawson, who built cabins on what is now known as Crow's creek near Viola. They also put up a little hay that fall. Thus, while these were among the first settlers, it must be conceded that they did not precede Abbe, Haskins, or Hahn in locating in Linn county. Ed Crow, it is true, was one of the early settlers and well known, a typical pioneer, but he was not the first settler, although he arrived in the historic year of 1837, when the white settlers were beginning to move into the territory not yet vacated by the red men.

In mentioning the men who were factors in the upbuilding of Iowa, Theodore S. Parvin should not be omitted. During his residence in Linn county he devoted most of his time to the upbuilding of a unique Masonic library. He was known throughout the United States as one of the leaders of that order. Mr. Parvin's love of collecting together many things was only one of the many sidedness of a remarkable personage. Mr. Parvin was born in Cedarville, New Jersey. Educated in the east, he drifted west to Cincinnati and there met Robert Lucas, recently appointed governor of Iowa Territory. Mr. Parvin had been a teacher and had been admitted to the bar so he was well qualified for his mission as secretary to the governor. After coming to Burlington Mr. Parvin was United States attorney, clerk of the federal court, registrar of the state land office, and for many years professor and regent of the State University of Iowa. During all these years he lectured and wrote much. He died June 28, 1901, one of the most widely known and most honored men in the state. "Steadfast in faith, without trace of cant, he walked the ways of life with simple trust in the Infinite wisdom and passed to his death relying on the guidance of an unseen hand," says his biographer.

Julius E. Sanford was one of the platters of the city of Cedar Rapids, and was a wide-awake, enterprising young man who for a while was in partnership with N. W. Isbell. Mr. Sanford was a native of Connecticut and was well educated on coming west where he took up the practice of the law and engaged in real estate. He removed to Dubuque in 1845, where he died in 1847, leaving a widow, Henrietta E. Sanford, who in 1848 married David Wilson. She died in 1898. Perit Sanford, who figures in early real estate transfers, was the father of Julius Sanford, and heir of the estate, as the son died without children.

Thomas Craig was an old settler in Linn county, and one of the best known men in the community. Mr. Craig was odd in some ways. He wore a white overcoat and had a fondness for horses. He was a stanch Methodist, and at times would be reprimanded, for he refused to lead in prayer. Mr. Craig died many years ago, respected and honored by all with whom he had come in contact. One of his daughters was married to N. B. Brown and another to Jesse Beechly, who recently died in his old homestead in Franklin township.

Dr. Eber L. Mansfield was born in Canaan, Ohio, in 1821. He received a classical education and also took a medical course later. On leaving home his father gave him a horse, saddle-bags, and an outfit, and he started out for himself. He taught school in Kentucky and then came overland on horseback to Iowa in 1847, crossing the Cedar river near the lower bridge. He was assisted by W. W. and M. A. Higley, two young men who later became his friends and fellow workers in the upbuilding of Cedar Rapids. The gold fever of 1850 took the doctor away from his practice, and by August, 1850, he had arrived at the gold diggings. On the way he had made money, as he doctored a great many who were sick with fevers. He purchased two teams and did teaming from Sacramento to Shaw's Flats for about two years when he got tired and sold out, returning by way of Panama and New Orleans. He came back to Cedar Rapids, which city remained his home until his death. Dr. Mansfield was one of the best known and most[Pg 163] successful physicians of his day and generation. He invested in city real estate, in bank stock, and was stockholder in insurance companies. His was a rugged, strong character. He early saw the possibilities of the city, and was one of the first to invest in its real estate. He erected brick buildings in the heart of the city which are now owned by his children, and are very valuable.

William Rogers, a native of Ohio, where he was born in 1830, came to Linn county and settled in Rogers Grove in the early forties. Mr. Rogers was an enterprising man and was one of the first to erect a saw mill and to raft lumber down the river to Muscatine in order to find a market for it. In an age when straw sheds were common he went to work and erected one of the best and largest barns in the country. In this barn he stacked his grain and threshed it by walking the horses over it, the wheat dropping through the floor to a floor below where it was cleaned. Mr. Rogers died many years ago, one of the best known men in southern Linn county. His widow, Elizabeth McNie, is still living, making her home with her son, James M. Rogers, of Fairfax township.

Chandler Jordan, born in 1820 in the state of Maine, came to Linn county in 1844, where he made his home until his death a short time ago. Mr. Jordan was a lifelong member of the Baptist church, which he supported and in which he was an active worker all his life. He was interested in the public schools, and in public affairs in general. Jordan's Grove is named in honor of this sturdy old pioneer.

G. W. Matsell, for many years a resident of Buffalo township, where he owned some 2,000 acres of land which he purchased at an early day, was a well known character in New York city in the old days of Tammany Hall. He was chief of police and a prominent politician for many years till the breaking up of the party with which he was closely associated. Then he came here where his family still resides. Mr. Matsell of course spent much time in New York, where he had financial interests, but he liked the west and enjoyed the summers in Iowa. He was a democrat of the old school, but never entered into the game of politics after coming west, having had his fill of it in the New York political ring for many years.

The Matsell home was a hospitable one and many were the people George Matsell entertained during his residence in Iowa. Visitors came from all over the country, for he was well known. Mr. Matsell entertained royally and knew how to entertain. The history of New York city cannot be written without the mention of G. W. Matsell, police chief, a member of the Committee of Seventy, and a well known character for many years during the stormy days of the Civil war. His son still resides on the old homestead.

Robert Safely was a native of Scotland. He emigrated to New York at the age of fourteen. He saw the first engine to run with steam in the state of New York. For many years Mr. Safely was master mechanic for the old B., C. R. & N. system, and was a familiar figure on the streets of Cedar Rapids up to the time of his death, a short time ago. Mr. Safely was an expert mechanic and up to the time of his death was interested in everything pertaining to mechanical science.

Many of our earlier citizens only remained here for a shorter or longer time and left for other parts where they later attained to prominence. Who does not remember W. H. Ingham, one of Kossuth county's pioneers, who lived in this county in 1850 and for five years was engaged in surveying and locating lands for early settlers? Judge Thomas Burke, a noted character of Seattle and now wealthy, tried his luck at the law here waiting for clients who never came. When Mr. Burke was picked up by J. J. Hill on the coast then every one wanted this once briefless barrister as his legal adviser. Bishop C. C. McCabe lived here for a number of years, and no one had any idea that the rollicky, fun-making, joking young beardless lad in the employ of Judge Greene and others would develop[Pg 164] into a great lecturer and a Methodist bishop. Dr. J. T. Headley, of lecture fame, practiced medicine here in the late sixties, and was a quiet, unassuming man, who minded his own business and devoted days and nights to books and science. Here lived for some years the eloquent divine, Rev. Fawcett, a person of great eloquence and force of character who left Cedar Rapids better for having lived in it. One cannot forget Rev. Elias Skinner, now living in Waterloo, also a Methodist minister of force and eloquence who at various times lived in Linn county. Rev. Skinner, despite his eighty-three years, is well and hearty and can relate many things which occurred in this county in the fifties and sixties. He writes as follows:

"I think Linn county is about the very best county in Iowa. Five different times I had my home in old Linn. I never did anything worthy of special mention at either time. In each of the four places where I lived I blundered into doing things which I would rather not have recalled. So please excuse me. I write with pencil because I can't guide a pen.


E. Skinner."


Ladies and Gentlemen of the Old Settlers' Society: In calling this assemblage to order I wish to say to you all, to the new-comers, the strangers who honor us with their presence, that, in the name of our society, we bid you a most hearty welcome and say as a good hostess would, come again.

Many of you I knew in territorial times, when we were seeking and establishing new homes, in the far new country beyond the Mississippi, and aiding in our humble way to lay the foundation of the present famous commonwealth of Iowa. The first settlements were made along and near the Mississippi river. There were but two counties, Dubuque and Des Moines, and the country was called the Black Hawk Purchase. The purchase negotiated with the Sac and Fox Indians, by General Scott and Governor Reynolds, at the close of the Black Hawk war, consisted of a strip averaging about fifty miles wide, beginning in the northeastern part of the state and running to the north boundary of Missouri, though not on a straight line, at a point fifty miles west of the river. It was under the jurisdiction of the territory of Michigan, and was represented in congress, as a territorial delegate, by George Wallace Jones.

In 1837 a few townships in the northwestern part of this county were surveyed by a surveyor general deputy named Haight. And soon thereafter Edward Crow and a few other adventurers came. Their only roads were fragments of Indian trails. They were delighted with the country and the smooth, polished surface of the unbroken prairie in all the grandeur and sublimity of its primeval state. Sages have sung of the charms seen in the face of such solitudes and I would say that I never felt nearer the great Creator and Ruler of the universe than when in regions before untrod by civilized man, where the forces of nature reigned supreme, and no sounds broke the silence except the hoo-hooing of owls, the drumming of pheasants, the bugle notes of the swan, the quacking of smaller fowls, the barking of prairie wolves, and in a timbered country, the hungry, desolate howl of the large wolf, and sometimes, though seldom, the piteous wail of the panther. It's no wonder that Moses retired to the top of a distant mountain with the roar of thunder and the flashes of lightning beneath him to talk with God.

In 1838 another strip of country was acquired from the Indians, embracing the remainder of Linn county. Possession was given in 1839, when a continuous immigration commenced, which dates back to the coming of many of the families represented here today, our respected secretary among them, and not long after that our treasurer. Previous to its organization in 1839, Linn county was, with Jones county, attached for judicial, revenue, and election purposes to Jackson county. In 1838 the territory of Iowa was struck off from Wisconsin, Robert Lucas was appointed governor by President Van Buren, and William Wallace Chapman was elected first delegate to congress, with both of whom I was acquainted in the constitutional convention in 1844. Governor Lucas was a Virginian by birth, though raised in Ohio, where he had served as governor. He was one of nature's noblemen, not for pomposity and fine equipage, but for all the traits that make up true manhood—modesty, courage, honesty, integrity, patriotism, and morality.


WAPSIE RIVER AND MILL Built in the '50s at Central
Built in the '50s at Central City

[Pg 165]

Soon after the organization of the territory the Missouri war began. This related to the boundary line between the two states. It lasted some time, but like the Ohio and Michigan war, was bloodless, though a good deal of patriotism and red tape and military titles were shed. The trouble was finally settled by the surveyors and the courts.

In 1839 Linn county was organized. The first officers were John C. Berry, commissioner's clerk or auditor; Hosea W. Gray, sheriff; Dr. Tryon, clerk of the court; Luman W. Strong, Samuel C. Stewart, and Peter McRoberts, county commissioners. Squire Strong was a potential factor in all Linn county affairs. Mr. Stewart was distinguished for his piety. His wife was a sister of those sturdy pioneers, the Scott brothers. In 1840 the territory contained 43,000 inhabitants; Augustus C. Dodge was elected delegate to congress, and George Greene a member of the territorial council, or senate, to represent Cedar, Linn, and Jones counties. In 1841 the remainder of Linn county was surveyed by the United States deputies, with all of whom I was acquainted and in their camps—but chiefly with Mr. Welden.

After these surveys were made, claim-making and improving and trading became very lively, and the ratio of immigration increased all the time. There was more disturbance and trouble and fighting about claims than from all other causes put together. I will give only a few instances of the many with which I am acquainted. A man by the name of Wolcott, near Mount Vernon, had his claim entered. He reported it to the claim association. They sent a committee of three men to the intruder and demanded that he should release and cancel his purchase, which he refused to do. Whereupon they procured a conveyance and told him that he must go to Dubuque with them. Knowing the settler's law was against him, he made no further resistance, but went before the register and receiver, cancelled his entry, and his money was returned to him. The matter came up shortly after that before the grand jury at Marion on the charge of coercion and kidnapping. Samuel Hunter, Sr., of Hunter's Cross Roads, was one of the jury, Joseph Williams was judge, P. W. Earle, clerk, and Nathan Peddycord, of Yankee Grove, was another juryman, and I was foreman. William Abbe and Squire Waln of Mount Vernon were witnesses. Robert Smith was secretary of the claim association and Oliver Day or Allison Willits president. No bill was found and the matter stopped and never reached the supreme court.

Another claim case originated in the Dry Creek country, and came to a climax in a rather exciting way. There were a number of us attending an Indian banquet and pow-wow at a place called Wick-i-up Hollow, near the Cedar river, two or three miles south of the Oliphant and Ashlock neighborhood. The regular guests were seated in a semi-circle in the wick-i-up; we were only callers. The exercises consisted of short talks, chants and choruses, each keeping time with a deer's bladder dried and filled with air and some buckshot in it to make it rattle, all accompanied with the music of a sort of home made fife. The banquet or dinner to follow was being cooked by the women. It consisted, as far as I could see, of dried venison, stewed dog meat, beans, and pancakes. Before the dinner was ready some of our party went outside and renewed a quarrel that[Pg 166] had been pending for some time about their claims. Pretty soon the lie was passed, and it was immediately followed by a blow, and directly five or six were in the fight all at once. The struggle and angry shouts of the combatants frightened some of the Indian women who were near and they ran screaming away. This broke up the exercise in the wick-i-up and the braves rushed out, thinking that their women were being misused, for a brave man will always resent an insult to his wife. The fight so disrupted everything that we left without waiting for dinner, especially as some had to withdraw for repairs. The Chambers were in it. William Garrison and some of the Nations were in it, but not Carrie with her little hatchet. John Hunter and, I think, Dyer Usher, were there, but not in the fight. The case came up before his honor, Aaron Usher, a justice of the peace, who fined some of the participants $1.00 each, which ended the litigation and the claim dispute.

The last claim case I will mention was of much greater magnitude, and out of it originated the Bill Johnson war, in which several lives were lost, including one Indian. It began in Buchanan county. William Bennett and a man purporting to be Bill Johnson of the Canadian patriot war were the principles in the extensive trouble. Bennett was an enterprising, public-spirited man and had a quantity of workmen and retainers helping build the first grist mill at Quasqueton, on the Wapsipinicon river. He was a man of sturdy muscular frame, swarthy complexion, dark eyes, strong jaws, a man who would be a good friend or a bad enemy. Johnson was older, tall and angular, with black bushy hair, on whose lips shone no smile, under whose brow lurked treason, stratagem, and spoil. I became acquainted with Johnson in a rather romantic way, which you will excuse me for relating, as it shows some of the perils and hardships incident to the settling of a new country. On the 12th of November, 1842, a deep snow fell and remained till the next April, with additions during the winter. It has always since been called the hard winter of 1842 and '43.

During the winter my friend, Anderson Chambers, later a prosperous business man of Muscatine, and I had been up in the country between the Wapsipinicon and the Volga. The snow drifts were so deep and the day so dark that night overtook us several hours ride from any human habitation. Before dark we went into a little scattering timber on a small stream and under the bluff hitched our horses to a bush. We found some dry poles and got some dry rotten wood out of a tree, scraped away the snow with our feet, and with the aid of a flint and some tow and powder, we managed to start a little fire. Matches were not then in use. We cut some brush and laid it on the ground, spread one horse blanket on that to lie on, and with another to cover us and our saddles for pillows, we slept through the long night until daylight, when we resumed our ride. About the middle of the forenoon we came in sight of an improvement in the edge of the timber, and I knew by the smoke that so gracefully curled that a frontiersman's log cabin was there. We went into the house, which was neat and clean, and told them of our hard experience during the preceding night and day. They kindly sympathized with us and soon made us comfortable. It proved to be Bill Johnson's place. Kate Johnson and another young lady, Miss Kelso of Davenport, were there. They busied themselves about setting us up a fresh, warm, ten o'clock breakfast. I relished it more than any other breakfast I ever ate, the zest of which was no doubt heightened by being served by so charming a hostess, and me a susceptible bachelor, too.

Johnson explained his being there in this wild region by saying that he had participated actively in the Canadian patriot war against the Dominion of Canada, that the attempted revolution had failed, that he had lost all his property by it, and had been driven and chased all through and among the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence river in his boat with his daughter Kate, that a reward had been offered for him, that he had given up all hope of success and determined[Pg 167] to seek safety and quietude by coming to this country. All this seemed plausible, as I heard the brave deeds of the patriots rehearsed in song and poetry. But in escaping that trouble he ran into the jaws of another at the outset. It seemed that in coming into a strange neighborhood, instead of making the people his friends by conciliation and prudent conduct, he got into trouble at the start by taking possession of the claim of one of the Bennett party. They remonstrated and he promised to pay for the claim, but never did, though Johnson claimed that the trouble was about the location of the county seat. Not long after I was at his place, after giving him notice, they determined to oust him. They took him out in the brush and gave him a very severe flogging, loaded him and all his belongings into sleds and sent him out of the country. He applied for aid at Marion and Dubuque, and Surveyor General Wilson, a New Hampshire man, took him and his daughter Kate to Iowa City, in his fine Boston made sleigh, to interest Governor Chambers in his behalf. When the hostilities came to an end, the result was disastrous to both parties. Bennett became a fugitive and his mill building was stopped. Johnson was shot. Kate found her a loving, trusting husband. Hosea Gray made considerable money out of it; Ormus Clark, the first permanent settler of Central City, spent a lot of money for defense, and Colonel Preston laid the foundation of his splendid fame and fortune as an attorney from it.

The public land sales had been advertised for this winter and the people were illy prepared to go to Dubuque to enter their claims on account of the deep snow, some for scarcity of clothing, and all for scarcity of money. Many had saved their last 12-1/2 and 6-1/2 cent silver coins and their 5-franc pieces to make up the necessary sums. In view of the difficulties in the way, a mass meeting was held, and George Greene was appointed a special agent to go to Washington City for the purpose of having the land office removed to Marion. He went and saw the commissioner of public lands; he saw Stephen A. Douglas, chairman of the committee on public lands, and President Tyler, and came back with an order for the temporary removal in his pocket, which I doubt if any other man could have done. He stood luminous among all the bright men who first settled in Linn county, or the territory either. The people of Linn county, and of Cedar Rapids especially, should ever remember his labors and efforts in those early days which brought them prominence and prosperity. All now acknowledge Linn county to be without a peer and Cedar Rapids is the best interior city in the state, except Des Moines with its immense coal beds.

The land office was located in the first, and then only brick house in Marion. Judge Berry afterwards dispensed boundless hospitality in it. It was built and owned by William H. Woodbridge, or "Democ Woodbridge," a very enterprising young man. He was one of five from this county who enlisted in the Mexican war. He was with Scott's army of invasion and the Mexicans "welcomed him with bloody hands to a hospitable grave." Another of the five, Major McKean, as he was then known, who was a member of the first constitutional convention in 1844, and later a brigadier general in the union army, lies buried in the Marion cemetery. Another of the five, Captain Sausman, who gallantly bore the flag at Chepultepec, died in California. Captain Gray is alone, and alive and likely to be, as you would think if you could see him running an intricate surveyor's line through a section. The fifth one, Samuel D. Thompson, is with us amply provided for in his declining years by a munificent government, in recognition of his military service in nearly all the wars since the time of Anthony Wayne, and as the old song says:

"There is no more work for brave old Joe.
He's gone to the place where all good soldiers go."

[Pg 168]

The land sales drew large numbers from all the surrounding country, and made lively times here. Joseph F. Chapman and Oliver S. Hall, Sr., hotel keepers, flourished. Those who had the money got titles to their lands, and those who had not still held their claims until such time as they could enter them at private sale. In the spring the land office was moved back to Dubuque.

In 1844 the first constitutional convention was held at Iowa City. The constitution failed of ratification. In 1846 another convention was held and the state fully admitted under that with our present boundaries. Iowa was then the most western state, and a line drawn south from Sioux City, its western limit, would have run further west than any other state or territory, except Texas, which was annexed the year before. It now occupies a conspicuous central position in the American union, and a leading one in agricultural productions. It is honored with two members of the president's cabinet and the most influential member of the American senate.

After our acquisition of California the waves of emigration westward began, sweeping over the great American desert, as it had been called, planting agriculture and industry in its path, forcing its way through the mountain passes and over the sun-dried plains, to the Pacific ocean at the Golden Gate, where floats the commerce of oriental Asia.

"No pent up Utica contracts our powers;
The whole of this boundless domain is ours."

When I look in the faces of this multitude I see before me but few who were men and women grown when I first came here. Some of you gray-haired ladies and gentlemen were then, as the Indians called them, petite squaws or skinneways. Your fathers were Niseshin Shomoko men. But I think scarcely more than a dozen are now living in this county who were then men and women. And

"I feel like one who treads alone
A banquet hall deserted,
Whose music is hushed, whose guests are gone,
And all but me departed."
ISAAC BUTLER Pioneer Resident of Springville ISAAC BUTLER
Pioneer Resident of Springville

[Pg 169]


Early Linn County Lawyers and Courts


Fifty years ago the judiciary of this county, as well as of the entire country, was quite different from what it now is. There were but two terms of court in a county, and Linn being a large county, terms here lasted about two or three weeks. In the smaller counties, one week or less was sufficient for the transaction of all the business. The grand jury was composed of fifteen men instead of five or seven, as at present, and twelve out of the fifteen had to concur in order to find a bill of indictment. At present the concurrence of a less number than the whole is sufficient. The members of the grand jury selected their own clerk from their own number. They had no authority to act on the minutes of the examining magistrate, but it was obligatory on them to have the witnesses before them, and to examine them personally.

There was no official shorthand reporter to take down the evidence on the trial of cases in court. If the attorneys desired to perpetuate the testimony, or any part of it, they either wrote it down in long hand themselves, or selected some outside person to do it; generally some young lawyer. And sometimes the judge would make the only minutes of the trial that were kept. From these imperfect notes, however taken, the judge was required to determine what should go to the supreme court when he came to settle the bill of exceptions: no easy task. When court opened on the first day of the term—which was done with great outcry—the judge at once empaneled the grand jury, and then proceeded to make what was called a "preliminary" call of the calendar, at which cases that were not for trial were dismissed, continued, marked settled, or otherwise disposed of. When that call was completed, he then made the "peremptory" call, and all cases that were for trial were then disposed of as they were reached. There was no assignment of cases for trial as now practiced, but the lawyers had to be ready in each case when reached.

Court week was generally regarded by the people as a sort of a picnic or holiday, and they came in from the country for several miles around to hear the lawyers spar with each other, and catch the "rulings of the court." The court room was generally packed with listeners. Then political meetings were generally held during that week when everybody was there and lawyers ready to do the speaking; and they furnished fine entertainments indeed.

The bar of Linn county in the early fifties was an unusually strong one, said by some to be the strongest in the state. There were Judge N. W. Isbell, Judge Isaac Cook, Judge George Greene, Judge William Smyth, and Col. I. M. Preston. A little in the rear of the above worthies were N. M. Hubbard, R. D. Stephens, Wm. G. Thompson, J. H. Young, Thomas Corbett, and J. W. Dudley. Except Judge Greene and J. W. Dudley, all of these persons lived in Marion.

N. W. Isbell, the first county judge in this county, was selected by the legislature in 1855 as a member of the supreme court, and filled the position with honor and credit to himself and the state for several years, and was afterwards appointed judge of the district court during the Civil war, but resigned both positions on account of ill health. He was a very learned man and a profound lawyer. He greatly enjoyed the investigation of legal questions,[Pg 170] possessed an acute and analytical mind, and one richly stored with the results of historical and general reading. In the practice he was not partial to jury trials, much preferring the presentation of legal questions to the court. He had quite an aptitude for affairs, and became successful as an enterprising railroad builder, projecting the old "Air Line" Railroad, the pioneer of the present route of the C., M. & St. P. Railway across the state. He left a comfortable estate to his family, dying about the year 1865. He was of small stature and insignificant in appearance, but with a large head, though small features. Indeed he very much resembled the Hon. Wm. H. Seward in face, head, and stature. He was rather of an irascible temperament and consequently easily thrown off his balance—but no member of the bar was more highly respected than was Judge Isbell for uprightness, honesty of purpose, general intelligence, deep reading in general literature as well as in the law; and his blameless life made him a beloved citizen.

I omit further mention of Judge Greene as there is elsewhere in this work a lengthy sketch of him.

Isaac Cook was born and raised in eastern Pennsylvania and became the possessor of a sound education as a basis for the legal studies he afterward pursued. He served quite a while on the district bench, and was there noted for the care, time, and fairness he devoted to the cases he was called on to hear and decide. His mind was not so quick or rapid in its movements as some others, but it was very accurate in its conclusions. He was a fine chancery and corporation lawyer, and no better pleader ever drew a petition than Judge Cook. He was for many years toward the close of his life general counsel for the predecessors of the C. & N. W. Railway Company and the Iowa Railroad Land Company in the state of Iowa. Though he had an office first in Marion and then in Cedar Rapids, he always lived on his farm just south of the former place, in a plain, comfortable brick house. He was a broad shouldered, stock-built man of a dark complexion, and chewed an immense quantity of tobacco. He had, we believe, more practice in the supreme court of the United States than any other lawyer in Iowa in his day.

William Smyth, first county attorney of Linn county, was appointed judge of the district court to succeed Judge J. P. Carleton about the year 1854, when he was but thirty years of age. He was regarded as an ideal judge. He was of Scotch-Irish descent, and had received a thorough education when young. His education was perhaps more thorough than broad, owing no doubt to his early surroundings. His legal lore was as near exact and profound as was possible, and covered completely the whole circle of legal learning. One who knew him well said, that in commercial law, the law of real estate, and in pleading, he had no superiors and but few equals in the state. He was a trial lawyer in the fullest sense of that term. Careful in the preparation of his cases, methodical in the introduction of his testimony; and in his presentation of his client's cause to a jury, his arguments were close and convincing, logical if not eloquent. He was, perhaps, after his retirement from the district bench, generally regarded as the head of the bar of the county. His knowledge of the affairs of the nation, and the principles of our government was most exact and comprehensive. For wealth of general information, profundity of legal learning, and urbanity of manner and dignity of deportment, he was not surpassed by any man in the state. Indeed he was early recognized as one of the leaders in affairs as well as of the bar of the state. He and the firm of which he was a member had the largest practice and the best clientage in the county. His practice extended to many of the neighboring counties, such as Benton, Tama, and Iowa, where he had local partners, and where he attended the terms of court. He was a valuable member of the committee that revised the laws of the state as embodied in the Revision of 1860. He was offered a place on the supreme court bench but declined it. He was a[Pg 171] delegate to the Republican National Convention at Chicago in 1860—having been a democrat before the slavery question gave rise to the republican party, he naturally sided with Governor Chase, whose political path led in the same direction as his own, and gave that statesman his earnest and persistent support in the convention, voting for him to the last as his choice for president. He was a formidable competitor of Governor James W. Grimes when the latter was elected to the United States senate in 1858. In 1868 he was elected to congress from this district and died while such member in 1870, at the early age of forty-six. Of all that goes to make up a first rate man and citizen—intelligence, ability, industry, perseverance, honesty, and morality, he was in full possession, and enjoyed the confidence of the people to a greater degree than any other citizen in the county. He was patriotic and brave and served during the war of the rebellion as colonel of an Iowa regiment, and while so serving, he contracted the disease that caused his early death. He was the fortunate possessor of a splendid frame, being nearly six feet in height, and had a large, well formed head—his carriage erect and movements stately and deliberate. He was a model christian gentleman, courtly and polite, with a winning personality. He too was a man of affairs and left a comfortable estate to his family.

Colonel I. M. Preston, born in 1813, was in many respects a remarkable man. Thrown on his own resources when quite young, he learned the trade of carpenter and joiner, but read law while working at his trade, was admitted when about thirty years of age, came to Marion, opened an office, and at once took a position in the front rank of trial lawyers. He was particularly successful as a criminal lawyer. He possessed a very quick, subtle, and keen mind, and was remarkably resourceful in expedients in the trial of cases. Some lawyers were better pleaders others more learned in the law, but none more apt in furnishing the facts to fit the case, and but few, if any, excelled him in marshalling those facts in his presentation to the jury. In time he acquired great fame throughout the state as a lawyer and public speaker. He was early appointed district attorney for the district in which he lived, and in 1846 was commissioned by Governor Clark colonel of an Iowa regiment of militia. He also served as county judge of Linn county, and at different times served in both branches of the legislature. He was the father of Judge J. H. Preston and E. C. Preston, both members of the bar, and residents of the city of Cedar Rapids.

N. M. Hubbard, later known as Judge Hubbard, was certainly the most brilliant and noted lawyer that ever lived in or graced the bar of this county. He was appointed in 1865 judge of the district court, and served till January 1, 1867. With a mind keen, bright and luminous, a sound understanding, a rich store of observation, an unparalleled command of language, a readiness in repartee, and unlimited power of invective, he was unsurpassed by any man in the state, and by but few in the nation. He was for thirty years general attorney for the C. & N. W. Railway Company in Iowa, and upon his death left a generous estate.

Hubbard's early partner, R. D. Stephens, while a good lawyer, was certainly a past master in finance, and was better known as a banker than lawyer. He established the First National Bank at Marion, and the Merchants National Bank in Cedar Rapids. He died several years ago, quite wealthy. Both Hubbard and Stephens came to Linn county from the state of New York in 1854. In the political campaign of 1856, Hubbard edited the Linn County Register, predecessor to the Marion Register.

Major J. B. Young was probably the possessor of the best education of any of the lawyers of his time, and was a well read lawyer, a strong advocate, careful and painstaking, but unfortunately possessed an irritableness and quickness of temper that was not calculated to advance the cause of his client in a law suit. He died when comparatively young, when on his way home from California where he had gone on account of his failing health.

[Pg 172]

W. G. Thompson, better known as Major Thompson or Judge Thompson, still resides here at the ripe old age of eighty-one. But few of the present generation know all there is about Judge Thompson. Born and reared in the state of Pennsylvania of Scotch parentage, with a fair academical education, admitted to the bar when a little past twenty-one, he came to Linn county in 1853, and at once leaped into prominence as a lawyer and politician. In quickness of mind, versatility in extremity, readiness of retort, flashings of wit, volubility of speech, touches of pathos, flights of eloquence, and geniality of disposition, and popularity with the masses, he had no superior in eastern Iowa, if he had an equal. It has been said of him that he could sit down to a trial table in a case of which he had never before heard, and try it just as well as though he had had months of preparation. He has been county attorney, state senator, presidential elector, major of the Twentieth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, district attorney, chief justice of Idaho, member of the legislature, member of congress, and judge of the district court. And in filling all of these positions, he has served the people faithfully and well. And in private life and as a practitioner he has surely been "a man without a model and without a shadow."

J. W. Dudley lived in Cedar Rapids as Thomas Corbett did in Marion. They were both careful, pains-taking, and judicious lawyers, not particularly noted in any special respect, but safe, sound, and trustworthy. They have both been long since dead.

J. J. Child and I. N. Whittam were also members of the bar in the early '50s. They both lived in Cedar Rapids. Judge Whittam was noted for his industry, care and patience in regard to any matter in which he became engaged. He did not claim to be a man of mark or a great lawyer, but certainly acquired and retained the confidence as an advisor of many of the best citizens in Cedar Rapids and vicinity.

J. J. Child, long since dead, was said by those who knew him best to be one of the best lawyers in the state. Though not an advocate, his learning in law was wide and deep, and no client ever made a mistake in following his advice. Unfortunately his habits of life seriously impeded the good results that could have flowed from such a prolific source.

After these, came others to fill their places, but the most of them are here now, and have received special reference and personal mention in these pages.

The entire state in 1857 was divided into twelve judicial districts, with one judge in each district. Accompanying the act was the constitutional provision that new districts could not be created oftener than one new district in four years. Within about ten years the business in court became so congested that relief was necessary and was sought in all directions. Finally, in 1868, the legislature passed a circuit court bill, which by its terms divided every district into two circuits and provided a judge for each circuit. The circuit court had concurrent jurisdiction with the district court in all cases at law and in equity, and sole jurisdiction in probate matters and in appeals from justices of the peace, but it did not have jurisdiction in criminal cases. The same legislature abolished the county court that formerly had jurisdiction of probate matters. In further defining the duties and powers of this court, the law created what was called a general term, to which all appeals from, and application for the correction of errors by the district and circuit courts would lie. The personnel of that court consisted of the judge of the district and the two circuit judges, and it sat twice a year. In this district one of the sessions was held in Marion and the other in Iowa City. The district comprised the counties of Jones, Cedar, Linn, Johnson, Benton, Iowa, and Tama. The first three counties constituted one circuit, and the latter four the other one. The limitation of the right to appeal when the amount in controversy was less than one hundred dollars was then passed. An appeal finally lay from the decision to the general term of the supreme court. When a case was decided at the general term, the judge to whom it was referred for a decision wrote out the decision in an opinion as the supreme court judges do, but the opinions were not reported in the books.


[Pg 173]

The next legislature materially changed the law. It abolished the general term and consolidated the two circuits, cutting out one of the judges—each court retaining the jurisdiction it had—and provided for appeals directly to the supreme court.

Then in 1886, the constitution of the state was radically changed by a vote of the people so that the limitation on the number of judicial districts and number of judges was removed. The circuit court was abolished, the office of district attorney was abolished, and that of county attorney created. There was a prosecuting attorney for each district before. The legislature then created as many districts as was thought necessary, and as many judges to a district as were deemed sufficient to transact the business. This law is still in force. This became the new eighteenth judicial district, composed of the counties of Linn, Cedar, and Jones, with three judges.

The first district judge for Linn county after the adoption of the new constitution in 1857, was Hon. William E. Miller, of Iowa City, and Isaac L. Allen, of Toledo, was elected district attorney—this in 1858. Allen was afterwards attorney general of the state.

Judge Miller was well equipped for the position. With a thorough common school education, and having been a practical machinist when young, and with strong common sense, he had a naturally good judicial mind that had been improved by careful study and years of practice in the law. He came to the bench an intelligent, fair, and courteous judge. He resigned in 1862 and entered the Union army as colonel of the Twenty-eighth Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He afterwards served as circuit judge and finally as supreme judge of the state. From the resignation of Judge Miller till January 1, 1867, the district bench was graced in its occupancy by Judge N. W. Isbell, C. H. Conklin, and N. M. Hubbard.

Judge Miller was a broad-shouldered, short, squatty fellow, and though a good lawyer and jurist, he was an indifferent advocate, and not particularly strong as a trial lawyer.

Judge Conklin was probably the most scholarly, accomplished and profound lawyer that ever sat on the district bench in this part of the state. His home was in Vinton, and while he lived among the people there he did not seem to be of them. He was a strong, tall, raw-boned man, always carefully dressed, with a most marked intellectual face, and he was certainly one of the most eloquent advocates that ever stood before a jury in eastern Iowa.

Judge James H. Rothrock, of Tipton, was elected judge in 1866, and served on the district bench till in February, 1876, when he was, by the governor, appointed to a seat on the supreme bench, which position he filled for over twenty years, when he voluntarily declined a further renomination. He, too, entered the Union army in 1862 as lieutenant colonel of the Thirty-fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and served with credit till sickness compelled him to resign and come home. Judge Rothrock was not a learned man in the sense of having a college education or having possessed an extensive breadth of general reading in history or science, nor was he fluent of speech, or particularly adroit as a practitioner, but he possessed naturally good judgment, a most thorough common English education, a good knowledge of the law and its basic principles, a sound understanding, with an innate sense of justice. He was patient and even tempered, dignified, and kind. He made a splendid nisi prius judge. His opinions were always plain, couched in good strong Anglo-Saxon, terse and sound, and will long bear the close and sharp criticism of posterity. Whenever he announced a principle of law, it was accepted without dispute as the law on the point involved.[Pg 174] Judge Rothrock was a large man of fine physique, impressible presence, and very genial when off the bench.

The Hon. John Shane, of Vinton, succeeded Judge Rothrock on the bench of this district in 1876 and served till 1882, when he resigned on account of ill health. He possessed a much better education than did Judge Rothrock, and the scope of his general reading was not only broad, but judiciously directed. He loved the law for the very sake of it and never tired of investigating its ofttimes hidden mysteries. He was well liked as a judge, was convivial and sociable to a degree.

The judges who have filled the position on the district bench since Judge Shane's retirement are many and able, but can scarcely be said to belong to the olden time.

Of the few circuit judges that held court in this county, we can say that they graced the position they filled with ease, but they belong rather to the present time than to the past age. But Judges Yates, McKean, and Hedges will long be remembered by the older inhabitants as capable, learned, and upright judges.

In the palmy days of the lawyers and judges described, the law libraries were meagre and the books few. There are probably now a dozen law libraries in the county, any one of which contains more books than were in the county in 1860, and there are some that contain twice or three times as many. The practicing attorney was then thrown more upon his own resources, and compelled to depend more on his own power of analysis and discrimination than at the present time, which doubtless made them stronger, more self-reliant, and resourceful. And the judges were called upon to decide rather how the law should be than how it had been pronounced to be by some other tribunal, which was no doubt strengthening to them.

[Pg 175]


Chatty Mention of Bench and Bar

The history of any community is not complete without a sketch of the members of the bar, for in the Temple of Justice every phase of human life is seen. "Here one hears the cry for vengeance and also the kind pleadings for mercy." The members of the bar, especially in the early day, understood public opinion and discovered what men truly were and not what they were reputed to be. At this early day the lawyers were the tribunes of the people. They were men of brilliant intellect and of intense passions, and in trials which created universal interest in the sparsely settled community they swayed the minds and hearts of their hearers in a remarkable degree. It was an age of oratory, and Linn county in that day had its quota of brilliant intellects who remained here for a shorter or longer period of time and in no small degree assisted in the upbuilding of the county and the state.

In order to make this sketch as brief as possible, and in an endeavor to picture the men as they were, we shall attempt to give a little of the humorous side of their characters and follow in the footsteps of Channing who said "anecdotes are worth pages of biographies."

Many of the early members of the bar were men of education and refinement, possessing a snappy humor that set courts and juries roaring. Many a long day's trial was brightened by some sally of native wit fresh from the frontier. These men were active in politics, were promoters of steamboat lines, stage companies, and paper railroads, who, in course of time, became legislatures, judges, and financiers. They all labored for the upbuilding of the infant state, where they had invested all their surplus means, having faith in Iowa's future. In every way possible they tried to upbuild its infant industries.

Linn county was set off by act of legislature in 1837, while Iowa was then a part of Wisconsin Territory. In August Governor Lucas set off Johnson, Cedar, Jones and Linn counties in one legislative district. The attorneys from Linn county who appeared at Iowa City at the July term, A. D. 1847, were Isaac M. Preston, John David and William Smythe, all of whom became noted lawyers before that body later. The judges on the bench at this time were three well known Iowa jurists: Williams, Wilson, and Kinney.

The first court was held at Marion October 26, 1840, presided over by Joseph Williams, who had been appointed to the judgeship July 25, 1838. At this term of court, according to the records, there were present District Attorney W. G. Woodward for the federal government, R. P. Lowe, prosecuting attorney, H. W. Gray, sheriff, T. H. Tryon, clerk, and L. Mallory, marshal of the district. On the first grand jury sat Israel Mitchell, founder of Westport, who had been appointed probate judge on January 16 of the previous year. The first justices in the county were: H. B. Burnap, John G. Cole, John M. Afferty, John Crow, William Abbe, and Israel Mitchell. Some of the first county judges were: Norman Isbell, Dan Lothian, J. Elliott, A. H. Dumont, and J. M. Berry.

During these early days there were two terms of court, one in January, and the other in June. The cases brought involved small amounts, but for the number of inhabitants of the county there was a great deal more litigation then than now. Some of the early lawyers in Marion and Cedar Rapids were: I. M. Preston, J. E. Sanford, N. W. Isbell, Isaac Cook, Henry Harman, William Smyth, J. J. Child,[Pg 176] Joe B. Young, Dan Lothian, C. M. Hollis, J. David. N. M. Hubbard, R. D. Stephens, Tom Corbett, George Greene, Israel Mitchell, D. O. Finch, A. S. Belt, John Mitchell, G. A. Gray, and C. L. Murray.

Among the attorneys in practice during the early '50s in Cedar Rapids were the following: Henry Lehman, E. M. Bates, C. V. Tousley, J. J. Child, R. G. Welcher, D. M. McIntosh, T. J. Dudley, Jr., A. Sidney Belt, and Dan O. Finch, the latter being also editor of the Progressive Era. In 1861 came J. Munger and N. R. Graham, and during the next year Edward Stark, who formed a partnership with A. S. Belt. In 1862 came W. A. Dodge. During the early '60s George Greene and I. M. Preston were in partnership, Greene having an office in Cedar Rapids and Preston in Marion. Hubbard and Stephens were in partnership in Marion in the early '60s, Stephens running the law business while Hubbard went to "the front."

The attorneys locating here in the '50s and '60s were engaged in railway promotion, in politics, and in booming towns, although they did not neglect banking and fire insurance. There were towns which had two or three lawyers in the early day which have none now, which would indicate that litigation in the early days was more profitable than later. In conversation with a number of the old lawyers this has been told, that the land business was the best paying law business during the pioneer days. It is also stated that much of the litigation in the early days was to defend horse thieves and other criminals. How true this is the writer does not know.

In the early days there was a class of people called "Terrorists" causing the settlers much annoyance and trouble. They were a band of looters who came along to scare people by reporting threatened Indian attacks, and when the settlers had fled to a place of safety others of the band came along and looted the abandoned houses. The "Copperhead" movement also extended into this county during the early period of the war, and more or less litigation grew out of this excitement.

Among some of the well known lawyers of the pioneer days of this county who have played a more or less prominent part at the bar, in politics, and otherwise, may be mentioned John David and J. E. Sanford, who came to Iowa in 1840. They were both bright men and had an exceptionally large practice in land titles. Any examiner of abstracts in this county will find Sanford's name frequently as holding much of this land, also that of H. W. Sanford, a relative. Thomas Corbett came from the east in an early day, was one of the characters at Marion, and became a well known attorney, removing from Iowa in a short time on account of his health. He became a hero soon after he married a well known lady in Marion whose people were well to do. As Corbett had nothing but brains for assets, one of the brothers of the bride did not like this marriage and came to the house of a friend just after the wedding with a party of young fellows to horsewhip the groom, who was not a very large man, but an active one. The groom was not at all backward about meeting his antagonist and gave him a thrashing to such an extent that he had no cause to forget it very soon, much to the enjoyment of the crowd who all took Corbett's side. It was not long until Corbett displayed great ability as an attorney, and became financially successful as well.

Norman W. Isbell located in Marion in 1842, being a native of Ohio. He served as county judge, in which position he rendered excellent service. In politics he was a whig, but when the slavery issue sent that neutral party out of existence, Judge Isbell became a republican. In 1854 he became a partner of N. M. Hubbard, which partnership continued up to about 1860, with the exception of the time when he held office. In 1855 he was elected supreme judge of the state, resigning in 1856 on account of failing health. In September, 1862, upon the resignation of Judge William E. Miller, Governor Kirkwood appointed Judge Isbell to fill the vacancy on the supreme bench. He was elected at the expiration of the term, but resigned in 1864, removing to California on account of illness, where he died of consumption the following year at the age of forty-six. All the members of the bar proclaim Judge Isbell one of the keenest lawyers who ever practiced in this county, at least in that day. His applications of legal principles were sound and his illustrations apt and catchy. He was not a great jury lawyer in the true sense of the word, and perhaps not as well known among the masses as many others, but among the legal fraternity Judge Isbell was looked up to as a safe lawyer and most excellent judge, who by hard study had attained to high rank among the jurists of this state. His son, N. G. Isbell, practiced a short time here, but removed to Michigan where he died many years ago, before reaching middle age.



[Pg 177]

Another lawyer of much ability and universally respected was Isaac Cook, a native of Chester county, Pennsylvania, who located in Palmyra, Missouri, in 1844, and later practiced law in Dubuque, and also in Marion, removing to Cedar Rapids in 1848. He was elected to the bench in 1857. Judge Cook was of a quiet turn of mind, a man who never gave a sidewalk advice which he had to take back. He was elected the first city attorney in Cedar Rapids in 1850, and was tendered a banquet upon his resignation from the bench in 1858. He was also the first president of a republican club organized in Linn county. Judge Cook died in 1878, honored and respected by all who knew him.

John Mitchell came from Maine in 1853, entered Judge Isbell's office, and was admitted to the bar in 1857. He was later a partner of Judge Smythe and Judge Lothian. Mitchell died a few years ago, one of the oldest practitioners in the county.

R. D. Stephens was born in New York in 1829, and came to Marion in 1855 without means, but with a splendid training and with a lively interest for business. He entered the law office of Isbell & Hubbard, later becoming a partner of Judge Hubbard. Mr. Stephens at an early date became interested in politics, and later became famous as a commercial lawyer and financier. He died in Cedar Rapids as president of the Merchants National Bank, and was rated one of the wealthiest men in the county. His son, R. D. Stephens. Jr., is now a practicing attorney in Chicago.

Joe B. Young was born in 1832 in Pennsylvania, and was admitted to the bar at Iowa City in 1853. He located in Marion and was prosecuting attorney in Linn county, a member of the legislature, and later a member of the state senate, and for a time pension agent for the state of Iowa. Joe Young was cross and crabbed in the court, frequently opposed the judge, as well as the opposing counsel, and displayed on many occasions bad temper, not to such an extent, however, that he ever lost sight of his client's interest or his case. He was a stubborn legal fighter and was recognized as a great lawyer who never gave up until he had exhausted all his resources. He died in 1876, one of the best known attorneys in eastern Iowa, universally acknowledged the greatest wit and the most sarcastic in retort of any man who practiced at the bar. He saw only one side of a case and that was his side and he always maintained that, backed up by proof, there was no other side. Even in church matters he differed with the majority, and organized a new church, paying for it himself, so as to have things his own way. He was a most signal man in his profession, always a student, and seemed to know everything which would likely reveal where motives start and where the secret springs of conscience were in a long drawn out law suit.

D. M. McIntosh was a native of South Carolina, and located in Cedar Rapids in the '40s. He was small of stature, with a ruddy face and long hair, making an imposing figure in the court room. He possessed considerable legal ability, had many friends, and was one of the best known men in Cedar Rapids. He died in 1859, mourned by a large circle of friends, who for years remembered how this[Pg 178] brilliant son of the south had on many occasions lighted up the dull path of the law with a glow of fancy and spiced his remarks by the charm of frontier oratory.

Colonel J. M. May was another attorney who was well known in Cedar Rapids, and who located here at an early date, and after him May's Island is named. He was erratic and wasted a large fortune in litigation with his relatives and neighbors over rights of various kinds. He died in Cedar Rapids a short time ago.

I. N. Whittam was another of the pioneer lawyers who died a few years ago, having located in Cedar Rapids in 1854. He assisted Judge Greene in getting out "Greene's Reports of Iowa." He was in continuous practice up to the time of his death.

Ellsworth N. Bates, coming to Linn county in the early fifties, was quickly known as the silver tongued orator of the Cedar Valley. He was the first city attorney, appointed in 1856, at $20.00 a year. He served till 1860. Mr. Bates won fame and honor as a lawyer and editor, and being a person of tact and force of character, he won many friends. His glowing tribute to the men who built the railway, at the June celebration in 1859, gave him prestige as a great orator. Mr. Bates enlisted in the Civil war and died from exposure a short time afterwards.

George Greene, who died in 1880 at the age of sixty-three, was one of the best known men in Iowa at the time of his death. Born in England, Mr. Greene educated himself in Buffalo, studying with George P. Baker. In 1838 he came to Davenport and began to make a geological survey of Iowa. After he had worked for six months at this kind of work, which was not at all congenial, he located in Ivanhoe, Linn county, and taught the first term of school in that vicinity. In 1840 he was admitted to the bar at Iowa City, locating later at Marion, where he began the practice of law. The next year he was sent to the legislature. Here he became acquainted with the prominent men of the state, and as the law business was not flourishing he removed in 1845 to Dubuque, and while nominally in the practice he became editor of the Miner's Express, which was then one of the nourishing papers of the territory. Three years later he formed a partnership for the practice of law with J. J. Dyer. In October, 1847, Judge Wilson resigned his office of associate justice and the governor filled the vacancy by appointing George Greene, who from that day to the day of his death became a figure of importance in politics as well as in financial affairs in Iowa. Judge Greene was a man of marked ability, having had excellent opportunities and being possessed of untiring industry. In 1848 he was elected one of the supreme court judges by the joint vote of the two houses of the General Assembly and served for six years from January 15, 1849. During his term of office he reported the decisions of the court. These decisions were published in four volumes and are known as "Greene's Reports of Iowa." In 1851 Judge Greene removed to Cedar Rapids, where he engaged in banking and where he was one of the most active citizens in persuading manufacturers to come to this city. He was instrumental in securing the Chicago & Northwestern, and the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railways to pass through Cedar Rapids. In politics Judge Greene was a democrat until the Greely campaign, when he became a republican. Few, if any, have done so much among the early settlers in securing capital to be invested in Iowa. Judge Greene travelled much and personally knew many financiers in this country and in England, many of whom invested much funds in farm lands, town lots, in bonds, and stocks, in Linn and adjoining counties. After locating in Cedar Rapids Judge Greene had a number of partners. While he, himself, did not devote himself actively to the law business, the firm generally had a large practice. He was in partnership with Judge Hubbard, Cyrus Benley, A. S. Belt, and with Judge Dudley.

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A. Sidney Belt was a southerner by birth, a person of much ability, of engaging manners, and well known in his day throughout Linn and adjoining counties.

Colonel Isaac M. Preston was born in Bennington, Vermont, in 1813, the son of a revolutionary soldier. He learned the trade of cabinet-making. At an early age he drifted west, remained for awhile in Ohio, and finally located in Marion in 1842, where he began the practice of law. Three years later he was appointed district attorney, serving two years. In February, 1846, he was commissioned colonel to organize troops for the Mexican war. He served as probate judge of Linn county for four years. He was appointed by President Polk, United States attorney for Iowa in 1847. In 1850 he was elected to the house of the Third General Assembly, and after serving one term was elected to the state senate where, during four years in the Fourth and Fifth General Assemblies, he was one of the most prominent legislators of that body and took an active part in the enactment of the Code of 1851. Colonel Preston had more litigation in his day and generation than any one person in this and adjoining counties. He was strong before a court, tactful and invincible before a jury, and especially in the defense of criminal cases he had no superior. The bar of Linn county during the early days was one of the strongest in the state, and Colonel Preston during his long and active practice before the supreme court, held a high place and was recognized as one of the leading attorneys of eastern Iowa, a position to which he early attained and which he continuously held up to the time of his death.

William Smythe was born in Tyrone county, Ireland, in 1824. He emigrated with his parents at the age of fifteen to America and located in Linn county in 1840. He studied law at Iowa City, and in 1848 opened an office in Marion. In 1853 he was appointed judge of the fourth judicial district, serving four years. In 1858 he was chosen by the Seventh General Assembly one of the three commissioners to revise and codify the laws of the state. This work was accepted by the legislature and became what is known as the "Code of 1860." Judge Smythe was also appointed upon a commission of legal inquiry, and was one of the commissioners to negotiate bonds by the state to provide a war defense fund. He served two years in the army as colonel of the Thirty-first Iowa Infantry. In politics Judge Smythe was a republican, and from the beginning of his legal career he took more or less interest in politics. In 1868 he and Judge Hubbard were the republican candidates for congress, a campaign which was waged with much bitterness, so much so that friend turned against friend and neighbor against neighbor. It is said that a few days after Hubbard's defeat he met a shoe-maker on the street who had been a former friend but who had been persuaded to vote for Smythe, and Hubbard said to him, "Jack, you will not need to buy any bristles any more, just reach your hand over your shoulder and you can pull them out of your back, for there is nothing about you but a hog anyway."

After Judge Smythe's nomination William Leffingwell was put up by the democrats to beat him, Leffingwell being one of the noted orators of the state, but Judge Smythe was victorious. He attained to a high place as lawyer and as a constructive statesman. He possessed a profound intellect, was popular among the masses, and a just and honorable man. He passed away when he had just reached middle life, one of the ablest and most versatile men in Linn county at the time of his untimely death.

Judge N. M. Hubbard, who was a unique character and one of the best known men in Iowa for many years, was born in Oswego, New York, in 1829, the son of a Methodist minister. He was reared on a farm and began life as a blacksmith, although later he obtained a university education. Judge Hubbard located in Marion for the practice of his profession in 1854, later removing to Cedar Rapids. In February, 1856, he was a delegate to the state convention which met at Iowa City, where he helped to organize the republican party. During the war[Pg 180] he assisted in organizing the Twentieth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, in which he was chosen a captain, serving under General F. J. Herron. In March, 1863, he was promoted to judge advocate and served in the army until he was breveted major in 1865. This year he was appointed district judge, resigning after having served a year, to accept the position of general attorney for the Northwestern railroad in the state of Iowa.

The sayings of Judge Hubbard would fill a book of many pages, but many of them would need to be sterilized before put into type. Many of these witty remarks are still repeated during a lull in the court room when stories take the place of dry facts. He was truly an original character, not only as a political manager of a great political party, but as railway counsel, and as a person who filled a large place in the political arena of Iowa for many years. A few of these sayings may give the reader an idea of the man as he really appeared during these years of his political and legal career in Iowa.

At one time being asked how a new assistant behaved who had been appointed local attorney for the railroad of which Hubbard had charge, he replied, "Tim is a real bull in a china shop; what he don't smash he dirties."

Speaking at one time of a technical lawyer, he added, "here is my friend J, he is so technical that he will fall all over a crowbar to hunt for a pin and not even see the crowbar, mind you."

While judge on the bench, some pompous doctor who was a witness asked leave to go home to look after his patients, and the judge quietly replied. "You had better stay here so as to give your patients a chance to get well."

At another time an attorney who had formerly been governor got the worst of it in Hubbard's court, and he appealed to him as a man and friend, saying that the judge evidently must have forgotten that he held his position due to his appointment while governor. Judge Hubbard coolly replied, "Yes, I remember that very well as being the only decent act of your term of office," and went on ruling against him as he had before.

On a hot June day Hubbard was trying a case against John Weare, one of the old pioneer bankers of this county. There was a lull in the proceedings, and as the jury was walking out of the court room Weare pulled out a large red handkerchief to wipe the sweat from his brow, when Hubbard in his peculiar articulation, for which he was noted, piped out, "John, it makes you sweat to tell the truth, don't it?" The crowd laughed, and the cutting sarcasm was never forgotten or forgiven by the aged banker, who was at the mercy of his old antagonist.

During one of the many political campaigns a Des Moines paper accused Hubbard of giving away five hundred tickets to delegates. He was asked by a friend about this and Hubbard replied. "That is a lie, I gave away eleven hundred tickets this year, that is all."

During the Parrott fight for the governorship of Iowa, Hubbard at first supported his old friend, but when he saw the turn affairs were taking he suggested that Parrott withdraw, but the candidate refused, adding that he had so many delegates pledged, and furthermore felt that he had Providence on his side. Hubbard simply replied, "Well, you can take to Providence and I will take to Shaw."

While arguing a case before the supreme court, the opposing counsel had pounded the table a great deal during his lengthy argument. When he concluded, Judge Hubbard arose to reply in the following little speech: "I am strong. I can pound this oak table to pieces for I have been a blacksmith in my time, and I will pound this table into splinters if you say and if it will help me to win this suit." He went on in this manner until the members of the court laughed, and even the opposing counsel saw the ridiculousness of his performance.



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During one of his last appearances in court he was called by the opposing counsel an "old mossback who might have been a great lawyer, but that was many years ago." When the lawyer concluded all eyes were turned on the old judge. As he arose to reply he said: "True. I am old and not what I used to be, and I suppose I am fast getting to be an old mossback." Then he went on telling of the old lawyers he had known at the bar in Iowa in the early day. He spoke of the methods of the old advocates, and of their bitter political fights, then added, "They never tried to bolster up a witness, defraud an antagonist, or blackmail a client as they do now, and if the real up-to-date lawyer must do such a thing in order to become great and prominent, then I thank God I am an old fogy of a lawyer and belong to the former generation."

Judge Hubbard at one time abused Bill Harper most unmercifully in a suit, and Bill Harper threatened that he would maul Hubbard into a dish of jelly at sight. The judge one day appeared in court shortly after the trouble, when Major Thompson said, "Judge, Bill Harper is looking for you." The judge looked around, for he feared Harper, and not seeing him, replied in somewhat of a gusto, "I saw him in the park and if he had done anything to me, he would never have been Bill Harper at all, he would have been dead."

At another time while the judge was defending a railroad company in a damage suit involving a large amount of money a colored man had sworn positively to facts in a case which everyone thought he knew nothing about. In the trial of the case the judge turned to an old friend, and a "Copperhead," saying, "I am glad there are some Copperheads here; I fought to free the nigger. I stood up to be shot at, now, by gosh, I am a Copperhead. A man who will swear in court like that nigger did today ought to be a slave and should never be free."

Judge James H. Rothrock was a native of Pennsylvania, and as a mere lad removed to Ohio where he acquired his education at Parker's Academy and at the Franklin University. He was admitted to the bar at Greenfield, Ohio, removing to Tipton, Iowa, in 1860. He was elected to the house of representatives in 1861 and was elected speaker pro tem. He entered the army as lieutenant, and upon his return from the army formed a partnership with Judge W. P. Wolf, which lasted until he was nominated for judge of the eighth judicial district in 1866. He performed services as judge in that district with ability and impartiality. He was serving his third term when he was appointed to the bench of the supreme court.

A few stories may be related of Judge Rothrock which in a way illustrate his wit and exemplary character:

Judge Rothrock had been trained in the general principles of law and did not go much on statute law. At one time he was one of a committee to examine a number of persons for admission to the bar, and a young, bright fellow seemed to have committed to memory much of the statute law of the state, but knew nothing of general principles. The judge quietly said to the young man. "You surely are in a bad way, my friend, because the legislature might in a night repeal all the law that you know."

At another time he was on the bench in Linn county when George W. Wilson, as receiver, brought in a wagon load of books to prove up a certain assignment. Judge Rothrock asked why all these books were brought in, and Wilson replied, "To show up the receivership in the case, your honor." The judge smiled and said. "Don't you think this failure was due to too much bookkeeping?"

At one time as he was assigning cases, and not being familiar with some of the members of the bar, Tom Corbett appeared in a case assigned for trial. The judge quietly asked Mr. Corbett's name and as Mr. Corbett arose to speak Judge Hubbard blurted out. "Jot him down plain Tom, that is enough." Mr. Corbett blushed crimson, whispering to another attorney that he would get even some day. Judge Hubbard many times afterwards became the prey to Corbett's heartless raillery, his sharp retorts, and pungent wit.

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At one time there were a number of lawyers engaged in a hotly contested will matter where Judge Rothrock presided, and as the attorneys talked back and forth across the table and there was more or less disturbance in the court room, the judge leaned quietly over, saying in a very pleasant manner to one of the lawyers who had done most of the quarreling, that he did not see why he was sitting there. The attorney quick as a flash replied, "You've got me now, Judge, I don't know."

After his retirement from the bench Judge Rothrock was frequently called in to assist other attorneys in the trials of equity cases. It became a standing joke among the members of the bar that when they found cases in which Judge Rothrock had written the opinion which held just the opposite of what he was contending for, they were certain to rub it in, much to the judge's embarrassment.

While Judge Rothrock resided at Tipton he came up to Marion to preside over a term of court and as there were but few persons around he asked the bystanders if there was anything doing this term of court, to which they replied that they did not know. He said, "Is Doty here," and they replied that he was. Then he asked, "Is Harper here?" and they said he had been present for the past day or so. Then he said, "Bailiff, take my grip and coat, there will be something doing this term of court; I guess I will stay awhile."

It was Judge Rothrock who made the famous entry of record in several cases after Doty and Harper had fought for thirty years, "settled by agreement, each party to pay his own costs, peace declared, the same being duly ratified by the court." During these years Harper had lost everything he had, and Doty was content to have his lawyer share the income out of an eighty acre tract of land and thus felt that he came out about even. He figured that the lawyer got the better half of the income of this farm during all the years the litigation continued.

In 1876 Rothrock was appointed member of the supreme court. He removed to Cedar Rapids, where he resided until his death in 1899. For thirty years he was a member of that body and materially assisted in laying down many sound legal principles which courts in the west have since followed.

Judge Rothrock was not known as a brilliant judge, but was profound, and a man endowed by nature with the judicial temperament which so well fitted him for the bench. His opinions have always been known for clearness of apprehension, tempered by integrity and impartiality.

J. J. Child, a native of the state of New Jersey, drifted into Cedar Rapids in 1854 for the practice of his profession. He was a large man, somewhat stooped, of scholarly attainments, and besides had more than ordinary native ability. Few, if any, excelled Mr. Child in knowledge of legal principles and their application to existing facts, although many excelled him in the court room and before juries.

J. J. Child, J. J. Snouffer, and I. N. Whittam were instrumental in obtaining the special charter for Cedar Rapids in 1856. In the municipal affairs of Cedar Rapids Mr. Child held many offices up to the time of his death in 1889. He possessed talents of a very high order, but his mode of life lessened his influence in the community. Capable of most any position, he achieved little or no success, and died poor and unknown, because the baneful influences of drink sapped his vitality and ruined a brilliant intellect.

One of the most original characters in the '70s was Jerry Lynch, who had practiced law in Benton county before coming to Cedar Rapids. Mr. Lynch was resourceful as a lawyer, had a keen sense of humor, and possessed a great deal of ability. It is said that when Jerry had two glasses to the wind he was in his element, especially in defending a criminal, for it is said of him that "he always denied everything and asked for proof." At one time he was prosecuting certain persons and realized that he had no proof. The rain was pouring down, and as he looked out of the window he said with all the dignity of a judge, "Your Honor, on account of the inclemency of the weather I dismiss the case."

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At another time he was opposed by several lawyers who made fun of his partner's military record. There is nothing that so touches the Irishman's heart as an exhibit of disloyalty, and Jerry arose to reply, saying, "My friend on the other side laughs at my co-counsel's military record. Let me tell you what he did during the war. He sat on top of the northern mountain peak of Vermont with his breeches padded ready to slide into Canada at the first intimation of the draft." There were a number of soldiers on that jury and it is needless to say that Jerry won his ease, regardless of the legal questions involved.

Mr. Lynch at one time defended a saloonkeeper, and was waiting his turn as Judge Shane passed sentence of "guilty" upon one after another. Jerry arose to speak for his client saying, "It is an unpleasant duty I am called upon to perform. I defend the worst saloonkeeper in Cedar Rapids. He runs the worst hole-in-the-wall in Cedar Rapids, and I have been in there myself and I am ashamed to tell your honor that it is so. I am not defending my client, for he is a law-breaker and everybody knows it." And he went on telling about the depraved individual who ran the saloon, and then he began: "I am not defending the saloon, I would not be here for that, but that man has a wife and children, and as nice children you ever did see." Then he went on telling about the kindness of that wife who was mistreated by a drunken brute of a husband till tears came into many eyes in that room. The sympathies of the judge were aroused and Jerry's client was duly acquitted.

Frank Hormel came to Cedar Rapids as a young man, from Ohio, possessing education and courteous manners. It might be well said of him, that from nothing he attained to an income of $10,000.00 a year. Mr. Hormel was lank and lean in appearance; was a student who devoted his nights to old "Father Antics," the law. He argued to the court with much success and was discreet and dexterous before a jury. He was kind hearted and generous to a fault, and attracted friends by the brilliancy of his conversation.

Mr. Hormel has been declared by the older members of the bar as a remarkable man for adroitness in a law suit and for knowledge at every stage of the case. He was a person of many parts and varied culture, who just before he had turned fifty was literally worn out on account of the strenuous life he had been living. He set his stakes high and paid the penalty.

Just after the Civil war a number of young men drifted into Linn county, a number of whom had seen service and who later became lawyers, doctors, and bankers in this and adjoining counties.

Among a number of attorneys who located here during the '60s these may be mentioned: Mason P. Mills, John J. Powell, Charles B. Keeler, Frank Hormel, Judge Leach, Judge Spangler, T. J. Dudley, Jr., A. R. West, H. G. Bowman, D. L. Palmer, J. C. Davis, J. W. Bull, A. V. Eastman, Henry Rickel, C. M. Hollis, C. S. Lake, Judge J. D. Giffin, Colonel Charles A. Clark, B. F. Heins, and many others. These were all young men and all became more or less noted in the legal profession, as well as socially and politically.

Mase Mills was a business getter, but not a sound lawyer. He neither had the ability nor inclination for discrimination. He said of himself that in his native place when a boy, when a medicine faker threw out peanuts for the boys to fight over, he always got his share. In the rough and tumble of law suits he was fairly successful for the reason that he always associated himself with lawyers of ability. He was a jolly good fellow, a great mixer, and knew men.

Mr. Powell had been in the army, was a college graduate, and soon took a leading place among the attorneys at the bar in this county. He passed away in January, 1908, one of the best known and most highly respected citizens of the city of Cedar Rapids.

Benjamin Franklin Heins was in his day and generation a much talked of man. Of Ben Heins many stories may be told. He was noted for getting his English mixed and his penmanship conformed to no rule, while Murray's grammar had never come under his notice. A wag once demurred to Ben's petition as follows: To count one, for the reason that it could not be read; to count two, because it was unintelligible, and the demur was sustained. Ben ran for alderman and gave up a day or two before election, as he had one hundred votes to the good. The day after election his friends met at his office to ascertain the cause of his defeat, when Ben broke out, "Well, gentlemen, I did not know till today that there were two hundred liars in my ward."

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Ben was not a great lawyer, but he had much business. During the Texas oil speculation one of the oil boomers came to Ben and offered him fabulous wages to take him around among his German clients to sell oil stock. Ben soon saw the trick and replied to the boomer as follows: "My enemies won't bite on this proposition, and I do not wish to soak my friends in this way. You better look for some other sucker."

Mills & Keeler were in partnership a number of years, mostly engaged in railway litigation. Mr. Keeler became known outside the confines of the state, and died scarcely past middle life at the head of the legal department of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway, with offices in Chicago. Mr. Keeler was short of stature, with black hair and beard, and in a law suit very nervous. It is said that during the Bever will trial Colonel Clark, in the midst of the trial, said to Keeler, "If you will only put a feather in your hair, Charley, you would make an ideal Mephistopheles without any further makeup." Mr. Keeler was a shrewd, wide-awake lawyer, whose mental constitution peculiarly fitted him for the practice of law, who possessed the faculty of crowding the salient features of a case in a few words, and who knew better than most lawyers what the law ought to be if he could not cite a case in point. He was cold-blooded and had few warm friends, but everyone acknowledged his abilities. His restless brain simply burnt up his tissues long before his time.

Mr. Bowman excelled as a brilliant jury lawyer, who by his magnetic personality knew how to handle a jury and to obtain a favorable verdict, especially on the defense in a criminal suit where he could appeal to the sympathies of the jury. Mr. Bowman possessed the magnetic quality to attract persons to him, and was one of the most resourceful lawyers at the bar.

Of the early practitioners at the bar all have passed away or have retired except Judge J. H. Preston, a son of Colonel Preston, still in practice in Cedar Rapids, and Major William G. Thompson.

Major Thompson must be given space in this sketch. He was an associate of Hubbard, Isbell, Cook, Stephens, Corbett, Young, McIntosh, Mitchell, Sanford, David, and Greene. Judge Thompson is a native of Butler county, Pennsylvania, where he was born in 1830. He was reared on a farm, received his early education in a log school house and became a teacher. He attended an academy where he remained two years, when he began the study of law, supporting himself by working for his employers. At twenty-five he was admitted to the bar, and in 1853 located in Marion for the practice of his profession. He was a member of the state convention at Iowa City in 1856 when the republican party was organized. In this year he was also chosen a member of the state senate, serving in the Sixth and Seventh General Assemblies. In 1864 he was one of the presidential electors, and was elected district attorney, serving six years. The office of general justice of the territory of Idaho was offered him in 1879 which he accepted, but was elected to congress from the fifth district the same year to fill a vacancy and was re-elected for the next regular term. In 1885 he was elected to the Twenty-first General Assembly and was an important factor in the impeachment proceedings against Auditor Brown. In 1894 Judge Thompson was appointed judge of the eighteenth judicial district and served in that capacity until he retired a few years ago on account of advanced age.

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A few stories may be told about Major Thompson to give the reader an idea of the man and of the times. Tall, spare, and of commanding stature, with a wonderful command of language, he would convulse a witness or magnetize a jury with his quaint sayings, and in a minute would melt them into tears with his pathos or arouse them to indignation by his denunciations of what he believed was wrong.

In the Bever will case, in which Thompson appeared for the contestants, he was to open the case to the jury, when Hubbard who had full charge of the case, said that he wanted Thompson to speak at least two days. The major replied, "Great God man, what shall I say to that jury except that here is the will and there are the girls, they should have part of this estate?" He made the longest jury argument he ever made in his life, which did not exceed forty minutes, but he won the case.

Another incident in the Bever will case might be mentioned. After the case had gone to the highest court the parties agreed to compromise. They objected to fees which were very large. Sheriff Dan Kinley had a fee bill of $1,000.00, which the parties contested. The motion was set down for hearing, when Kinley stepped up and wanted his matter disposed of. Judge Wolf was on the bench and asked if the sheriff had any lawyer. He replied, "No, I asked several lawyers and they all claimed they were retained on one side or the other." The judge looked down upon an array of lawyers, counting about fifteen, and said, "All right, go ahead gentlemen." As the long string of lawyers came out after the hearing Major Smith came along and said to the judge, who came out with Kinley, "How about that motion for fees, Judge, which you have been hearing?" "Well," replied Wolf, "there were twenty lawyers on the other side, and after lengthy arguments Dan and I managed to beat them."

When Judge Thompson was on the bench he used to sentence criminals like this: "You deserve just ten years in the pen, or as long as the law allows. You should stay there. I never heard any good you ever did. But I see your wife here. She looks like a good woman: I'll give you thirty days in jail."

At one time a woman came to Thompson to get a divorce from her husband. The judge heard her story. She stated that when the husband came home and the meals were not ready he would simply rave. "How does he act when you do have the meals ready?" "Oh, he acts all right then," replied the woman. "Well," said the judge, "I advise you to go home and feed the brute, and you will have no trouble."

On the stump the judge was often accused of waving the "bloody shirt," and he used to reply to his opponents that "he knew what he was waving, because he had been there." When in congress the major was a member of the committee to try the contested election cases. Colonel R. G. Ingersoll was one of the attorneys frequently employed by the contestants and he became very friendly with the members of this committee. One morning as the colonel entered and found the major looking over some of the records, the great orator, looking at the Iowa congressman, said, "Major, I like you." Thompson looked up and inquired, "Why so, Colonel?" "Well," replied the magnetic orator, "because if I can establish the fact that my client is running on the republican ticket I have won my case with you, but it takes a great deal more to convince the other members of your committee."

George W. Wilson was an old character at the bar of Linn county, and many are the cases on our county records with the words, G. W. Wilson per se. He brought more worthless cases than any other firm or individual and was the owner of more tax titles than any other individual in this or any other county in Iowa. His tax titles were so clouded that the court intimated in a certain execution "that they would never fasten on anything in particular."

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Linn county has had its share of "constant litigants." The dam across the river has been a constant eyesore, with rights vested and otherwise. There has not been a time since the franchise was granted by the state for dams up to the present time that some suit has not been pending in the district or supreme court involving some phase of the property rights of the respective owners in common. The so-called legal ownership of the dam is now supposed to be vested in the city of Cedar Rapids, and fees are no longer forthcoming, so during the past few years there has been a lull in this branch of litigation.

William Harper, J. W. Traer, J. P. Glass, John Weare, W. S. Cooper, N. B. Brown, Colonel J. M. May, J. J. Snouffer, G. W. Wilson, Theresa O'Connell, Doc Paul, and Lewis & Mason kept the legal mill grinding for many years. However, by common consent, Elias Doty, son of one of the first settlers, seems to have held the trump card for litigation in the number of suits that he has brought and defended. He is something like Micawber in this particular that "he has become acquainted with the law by being made a party so often." It is said that Doty started his litigation by taking a law book in a horse trade, from which he got a smattering of law, which volume was cited in many trials until some up-to-date lawyer ruled the book out before a justice because it had been printed in England.

The Bever will case was one of the most hotly contested cases in the county on account of the large interests at stake and the prominence of the interested parties as well as the prominence and standing of the attorneys employed.

Many have questioned whether the lawyer of the future will occupy the same position in the community as the pioneer lawyers. The legal business is rapidly changing, and before many years the successful lawyer will be one who renders legal opinions as to what the law is before suit is brought, and there will be less and less of great speeches delivered "amid full houses and loud cheers." The pioneer lawyer arose to distinction and political preferment by force of his native ability. It is doubtful if we shall in the future have a class of attorneys who will play such an important part in the upbuilding of the county and of the state. It is doubtful if we ever shall look upon their kind again.

The practicing attorneys of Linn county at this time are as follows:

F. B. Armstrong, E. C. Barber, A. R. Berry, U. C. Blake. Charles W. Bingham, Don Barnes, Fred A. Bowman, George F. Buresh, Frank C. Byers, C. M. Brown, Charles A. Clark, Frank G. Clark, C. F. Clark, William G. Clark, A. T. Cooper, W. L. Crissman, J. C. Cook, J. H. Crosby, W. L. Cron, William Chamberlain, H. R. Churchill, F. F. Dawley, F. J. Dawley, C. J. Deacon, Vincel Drahos, L. D. Dennis, M. J. Donnelly, O. J. Felton, E. A. Fordyce, Elmer Green, J. W. Good, J. M. Grimm, W. J. Grunewald, T. M. Giberson, E. W. Griffiths, S. M. Hall, Warren Harman, G. J. Hedges, J. N. Hughes, C. D. Harrison, Louis Heins, F. W. Hann, Frank A. Heald, J. W. Jamison, E. C. Johnson, L. M. Kratz, J. C. Leonard, J. J. Lenehan, G. P. Linville, Fred Luberger, Joseph Mekota, R. A. Moses, Matt J. Miles, Stephen Novotny, E. C. Preston, J. H. Preston, Thomas B. Powell, M. I. Parter, Frank H. Randall, Mac J. Randall, John M. Redmond, John A. Reed, C. B. Robbins, Henry Rickel, H. C. Ring, C. S. Smith, M. P. Smith, William Smythe, W. E. Steele, John D. Stewart, A. H. Sargent, Roland Shaver, H. E. Spangler, C. R. Sutherland, L. J. Storey, G. R. Taylor, P. W. Tourtellot, J. H. Trewin, J. M. Tallman, C. G. Watkins, Charles E. Wheeler, B. L. Wick, J. U. Yessler, Cedar Rapids; H. C. Printy, Center Point, Iowa; Thomas Davis, Central City, Iowa; E. A. Johnson, B. J. Laucamp, Lisbon; F. L. Anderson, James E. Bromwell, M. W. Courtney, W. S. Griffiths, James M. Gray, Charles J. Haas, B. P. Harding, C. S. Lake, William G. Thompson, J. M. Thompson, D. E. Voris, Marion; C. W. Kepler, Louis H. Kepler, G. M. Wilson, F. T. Davis, William Glenn, Mt. Vernon; D. D. Stevens, Paralta, Iowa; Thomas Ware, Troy Mills; A. W. Fisher, Walker; Homer James, Springville.



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In pioneer days the township justice played an important part in the growth and progress of the community. He acted as the safe counsellor and the family adviser. He drew up all sorts of legal papers, settled strifes, legalized marriages. It was in the justice court that the new lawyer would show off his ability. It was an age when "wit and whiskey were the principal things at the bar," and the early lawyers by nature possessed the one and frequently partook of the other.

Before these country tribunals these young fellows at the bar were not miserly of their eccentricities by any means. The justice courts in olden times were held under the oaks in summer and in blacksmith shops and grist mills in colder weather, and here when law was not made, the politics and gossip of the day were often discussed. The justice was always a leader in his community, and he led in many ways. The story frequently went "as goes the justice so goes the township." The voter placed faith in the judgment of the justice and he ruled the community sometimes with an iron hand. However, the dictatorial justice soon lost caste and some one else would be chosen at the next election. Much good work was done by the frontier justice as peace maker, for often where quarrels arose involving a whole neighborhood he would fix it up in some way, asserting with all the powers at his command that "it was a dirty suit" which must be settled.

They were as a rule men of character and of influence, and fearless when it came to dealing out justice to offenders and those who openly violated the law. Of course they were backed by the sturdy farming population who could be depended upon to stand up for the rules as laid down by the justice.

Many stories may be told at the expense of the country justice. It is related of an old New Englander in Monroe township that when a case came before him as to certain offenses and the attorney for the defendant saw that the feelings of the justice were against him he made a motion that the guilt or innocence of the victim be put to a vote of the house. While he thought this was a little strange, still his sense of justice and his New England training asserted itself and the crowd voted that the party should go free, against the protest of the attorney for the state.

Dr. J. H. Camburn was an able justice. The way he would take things in hand and decide matters were worth going a distance to see and hear. Dr. Camburn was decidedly practical and had good sense. It is said that John Weare made a better justice than Dave King, for King had friends at times whom he wanted to help while Weare had no friends.

Justice Snyder, of Putnam township, sentenced a poor fellow at one time to the penitentiary for stealing a bee tree when a tree of that kind and a whole acre of land on which it grew would not be worth more than $5.00. The constable marched the poor fellow across the country to the sheriff's office, awaiting further instructions. The sheriff sent the constable home and told the prisoner to go home, as the justice had exceeded his authority. The scare at least made the poor fellow forever afterwards an ideal citizen and the justice always thought that he had done a good job after all even though he had exceeded his authority.

Many of the fathers and grandfathers of the present generation look back with pride upon the work accomplished by their ancestors who held down the justice's office in some of the townships of the county. Who does not remember such names as J. G. Cole, Isaac Butler, Bob Hodgin, Ed Crow, William Abbe, Burnett, Coquillette, Knickerbocker, L. L. Davis, Israel Mitchell, Wm. Ure, R. M. Gunnison, Wm. Cooper, J. S. Anderson, John Stewart, C. W. Phelps, Aaron Mohr, Thos. Goudy, J. M. Afftery, J. W. Babbitt, W. H. Hunter, H. B. Burnapp, J. Shearer, Geo. Greene, and scores of others.

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These frontier justices were many of them men of culture and education, such as Mitchell and Judge Greene. Many of them were shrewd, as Wm. Ure, Gunnison, Butler, Nugent and many others. These men saw into schemes which were frequently played upon men of the community and woe unto the man who got caught in such a game in the new community where all stood by the justice and the justice's rule was the supreme law in those days. But the country justice, whatever his ability, always decided on the side of justice and mercy.

The country justice was a self made man of sound judgment and by fair dealings was the arbiter of the fortunes of the county in an early day. He is worthy of mention as a type of the pioneer who took an active interest in the upbuilding of the county and in preserving order and enforcing law.

The following items show the importance of the justices in "ye olden time." These were found by a member of the S. H. Tryon family and presented to the Linn County Historical Society.

Linn County,
Iowa Territory,

To any Justice of the Peace for Linn County, or minister of the Gospel, These in the name of the United States are to authorize you to join in matrimony Mr. James Hunter and Miss Mary Rogers and fail not to make due return. March 10, 1840.

S. H. Tryon. C. D. C.

Executed by the undersigned on the 14th day of March, 1840.

Israel Mitchell, J. P.

Iowa Territory,
Linn County,

To any Justice of the Peace or Minister of the Gospel in the name of the United States of America, These are to authorize you to join in matrimony Mr. Joseph Barnett and Miss Mary Libo.

Given under my hand and seal of office this 20th day of June, 1840.

S. H. Tryon, (seal)

District Clerk.

Territory of Iowa,
Linn County,

To any Justice of the Peace or Minister of the Gospel in the name of the United States of America; these are to authorize you to join in matrimony Mr. Henry Donahoo and Miss Sarah Ann Burgess.

Given under the temporary seal of said County.

S. H. Tryon, Clerk C. C., L. C., I. T.

C. W. Phelps, Justice of the Peace, married David Mann and Sally Lewis April 16, 1842, William Adair and Sabrina Williams on the 17th day of December, 1840, George Adair and Elizabeth Ellen Smith on the 6th day of January, 1841, and Mr. John Leverich and Miss Lucy Ann Smith on the 25th day of February, 1841.

John Stewart, Justice of the Peace, married James R. Briney and Mary Stamberg on the 10th day of March, 1841; and married Mr. Andrew Arnett and Miss Jane Johnson on the 8th day of June, 1841.

Aaron Moher, Justice of the Peace, on the 4th day of July, 1841, married John Dwyer and Miss Minerva Plant.

John G. Cole, Justice of the Peace, married David Hunter and Sarah Jane Rogers on the 23rd day of July, 1840.



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William Abbe, Justice of the Peace, on the 10th day of June, 1840, married Mr. Asher Edgerton and Miss Julia Deale.

John Cron, Justice of the Peace, married Mr. Aaron Haynes and Miss Sally Mann, on the 21st day of July, 1840.

Thomas Goudy, Justice of the Peace, on the 3rd day of November, 1840, married Hosea W. Gray and Miss Nancy Smith.

Jno. Hoddes, a Minister of the Gospel, married Mr. John Riley and Miss Mary Ellen Bigger on the 22nd day of July, 1841.

J. P. Stuart, a Minister of the Gospel, married Mr. Robert Cunningham Shinn and Miss Martha Marcissa Willis on the 8th day of September, 1840.

John M. Afferty, Justice of the Peace, married Elisha Freeman Williams and Julian Clark on the 4th day of July, 1840.

James W. Bapitt, Justice of the Peace, married Mr. Mark Morris and Julia Ann Carpenter on the 4th day of July, 1840; he also married Frederick Grambow and Miss Martha Harris on the 1st day of September, 1840.

Israel Mitchell, Justice of the Peace, married Mr. James Hunter and Miss Mary Rogers on the 14th day of March, 1840; he also married Mr. Joseph Barnett and Miss Mary Libo on the 21st day of June, 1840; also Mr. Henry Donahoo and Miss Sarah Ann Rogers were married by the same party on the 2nd day of August, 1840.

The above named clerk who issued the licenses was Dr. Socrates H. Tryon, who was appointed clerk of the Third Judicial District of which Joseph Williams was judge. He was also the first physician to locate within the boundaries of Linn county.

George Greene acted as deputy clerk during the year 1841, and he issued also several licenses to marry well known Linn county people, some of whom were: Sarah Rogers to Wiley Fitz during January, 1841, and Mary Stambaugh to James R. Briney in March, of the same year.

On March 2, 1841, Sally Hanes makes a sale of one red cow, two sows and eight shoats for $20.00 to Jacob Mann, which fact is attested to by Isaac Butler and that the goods were delivered in person and money paid.

In Otter Creek township before W. H. Hunts, J. P., on August 30, 1852, the following case was docketed: "State of Iowa vs. Orin Draper, Felony," charged by William Garretson, attempted to poison his family and himself; that he is in fear of the defendant and dare not leave his home and follow his occupation. That William Cress duly brought the defendant into Court; that defendant denied that he was guilty and asked for trial. J. Hunt appeared for the State; defendant pleaded his own case; that after examination of witnesses separately and arguments made, the testimony all being understood by the court, thereupon it is considered that defendant go free without day or date.

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The Schools of the County

Schools in Linn county came into existence almost as early as the first settlers arrived here. Most of the pioneers came from homes of culture and refinement and hence appreciated the value of an education. There were no public schools at first. Teachers were employed by private subscription. Lessons were taught in the settler's cabin, fitted up with rough boards or puncheons, and of course the attendance was small.

The organic law which provided for the division of Wisconsin and Iowa makes no provision for education, and no reference to it. On January 15, 1839, an act was passed by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Iowa, providing for "grants of property made for the encouragement of education." This act has no bearing whatever on our present school system. It deals expressly with donations and gifts for educational purposes.

The real beginning of our present school system is embodied in "An Act to Establish a System of Common Schools," approved by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Iowa, January 16, 1840.

There are many surprises in this bill when one compares it to our present school laws; in fact, many of our school laws have not been materially changed since the enactments of 1840. It is interesting to note that according to the provisions of this bill, the school library is not a new idea, but it was provided for. In Section thirteen, paragraph five, the qualified voters in each district were given power to "impose a tax sufficient for the purchase of a suitable library case, also a sum not exceeding ten dollars annually, for the purchase of books to be selected by a vote of the district, by the district board, when so directed." Paragraph six of the same section designates "the place where the library shall be kept, and the person by whom it shall be kept;" and states that "the superintendent of public instruction shall establish the necessary rules for the regulation of the library." Section fifteen provides that "every person elected to any one of the above offices who, without sufficient cause, shall neglect or refuse to serve shall forfeit to the district for the use of the library the sum of ten dollars, to be recovered in an action of debt by the assessor before any court of competent jurisdiction."

Another interesting item is the fact that school inspectors instead of school directors at that time had charge of the schools. In Section twenty-three, these inspectors are provided for in the following words: "There shall be chosen at each annual township meeting, three school inspectors in the same manner as other township officers are chosen, who shall hold their office until others are chosen."

It was the duty of these inspectors, according to Section twenty-nine of this Act, to examine closely all persons presenting themselves as candidates for teaching in their township, and although a certificate may have been issued to a teacher, if the inspectors became dissatisfied, under Section thirty, they might again require the teacher to be re-examined, and if in their opinion the teacher was found wanting the requisite qualifications, their certificates might be annulled by giving the teacher ten days' notice, and filing the same with the clerk of the township.

Judge Milo P. Smith when entering upon the duties of his school at Wire's Corners, just east of Springville, was examined by this method, and it is[Pg 195] quite interesting to hear him tell his early experiences in the schools of Linn county. Quite vividly does he bring to one's mind the sparsely settled condition of the neighborhood around Springville and Viola, when relating an incident regarding his trip from this school house to a party where he had been invited to spend the evening. After arranging his records and outlining the lessons for the next day, the Judge states that he started for his destination, and about ten o'clock at night realized that he was completely lost. Evidently he must have traveled in a circle, for he states that about two or three o'clock the next morning he saw a gleam of light flash out of a door. Starting immediately in that direction, he arrived at the place where the party was held, just in time to ride home with the young folks.

At the same session, a law was passed regarding the sale of the school lands, and this law was approved January 17, 1840.

On February 17, 1842, a bill was passed creating the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The duties of this officer at this time was very limited; they being of a clerical nature instead of those of a supervisor. Of course there could be no school districts or anything of that nature organized in the county until after some county organization. The bill calling for the organization of Linn county was not passed until 1840. It is quite interesting to know that it was at this time that the Commissioner or rather what is known to-day as the Supervisor Districts were laid out. The bill reads as follows:

"Section 1. Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Iowa, That the board of county commissioners in and for the county of Linn, be and they are hereby authorized and required to lay off the county aforesaid into three county commissioners' districts, prior to the first day of August, A. D. eighteen hundred and forty-one, making the division as nearly as possible in proportion to the population of said county; and the districts shall be classified by said commissioners as districts number one, number two, and number three.

"Sec. 2. That at the next general election there shall be elected from district number one one county commissioner; and alternately thereafter there shall be elected from each district one county commissioner annually, in accordance with the provisions of an act organizing a board of county commissioners in each county in this Territory, approved December 14th, A. D. eighteen hundred and thirty-eight, in like manner as though the county had been divided under the provisions of said act.

"Approved, December 31, 1840."

This is especially interesting, inasmuch as there has been a great deal of discussion of late regarding the number of supervisors in Linn county. The districts as laid out at that time remain today.

By an act of the same Assembly, approved June 13, 1841, Marion was established as a seat of justice of Linn county, and the commissioners of Linn county were authorized to employ agents to sell lots.

The office of the superintendent of public instruction seemed to have been short-lived, for on February 17, 1842, an act was passed by the territorial legislature which repealed the act of creating the office of superintendent of public instruction.

In 1846 an act was passed January 15th, which in some respects amended an act "To Establish a System of Common Schools," which was passed in 1840. This bill (the one of 1845) really made what is now known as the county auditor, the educational head of the schools, and provided a tax for their support.

In chapter 99, page 127, of the Territorial Statutes of 1847, there is an act relating to the common schools. In section 36, page 134, it provides that at the[Pg 196] next annual township election (which evidently must have been held in the spring) there was to be elected a school fund commissioner. This commissioner is what is now known as the county superintendent of schools, and his duties were many and varied.

In the election book it is shown that in April, 1852, out of the six hundred and ninety-one votes cast, Alpheus Brown received five hundred and seventy-three, and was declared elected. In the formation and alteration of school districts, the records of the county go back as far as 1849, in which records Mr. Brown signed as school fund commissioner. However, this may be attributed to the fact that previous to 1852, Mr. Brown was clerk of the county board of commissioners, and the duties of the school fund commissioner devolved upon that office at that time; consequently the presumption is that when he entered upon his duties as school fund commissioner, and began to make up his records, he naturally took from the records of the clerk of the board of county commissioners the things which belonged to the office.

Mr. Brown held this office for three full terms, also about six or eight months additional time, although Albert A. Mason was elected and qualified as county superintendent of schools in the election of April, 1858. Mr. Brown served until January, 1859, as school fund commissioner. This came from the fact that the county superintendent was provided for by the Statute of '58, the election taking place on the first Monday in April, but at this time some of the duties devolved upon the county superintendent. By chapter 36 of the Statutes of 1858, section 1, the office of the school fund commissioner was continued until the county treasurer was elected. The presumption is, therefore, that for about six months we had both a school fund commissioner and a county superintendent of schools in this county.

It is possible, also, that Mr. Brown served as a sort of triumvirate, as he was school fund commissioner by election, for the simple reason that Mr. Mason may not have qualified until three or four days after the time set; he was also school fund commissioner by the extension Statute, and county superintendent of schools from the fact that his successor had not qualified; in fact in some of the school reports, he signed as both school fund commissioner and county superintendent. However, Mr. Mason entered upon his duties and served as superintendent of schools for one term, when Ira G. Fairbanks (who by the way, still lives in Mount Vernon) was elected as his successor.

It is a difficult matter to state who was the first school teacher in the county. In 1839 several schools were in operation. In July of that year Elizabeth Bennett taught in Linn Grove, and later that same year Judge Greene taught at Ivanhoe. One of the noted schools of the early day was the one known as the "Buckskin School," in Linn Grove, so named because teacher and scholars alike attended clad in buckskin suits.

The first school district was formed in 1840 with Marion as its center. After that school houses sprang up in every direction. The buildings were constructed out of logs; the seats were benches hewn from slabs or logs, and so were the desks.

Colleges early sprung up in the county. Of the three that flourished here more or less at one time, the history of two—Cornell and Coe—are given at length. These institutions are now in splendid condition.

The third institution that in its day was a power for excellence in educational lines was Western, founded in 1856 on the borders of Johnson county at the little town of Western, in College township. Of this institution the late Jesse A. Runkle, some years ago, wrote as follows:

"In January, 1856, Iowa City became the western terminus of the only railroad in the state, and no other was built within a couple of years. The fine country surrounding Western, would easily lead one to believe that the early plan was feasible, to make the school an industrial one, where deserving young men could make their way through school by devoting some of their time to agricultural work. But Western was unfortunate in two things: First, none of the railroads that were built in Iowa, ever came near the town. It seems as if a Nemesis had brooded over the place, for even the interurban now being built between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City swerves from a direct line, and misses both Western and Shueyville by about a mile. Second, the surrounding country began to be possessed by a population that in the main had little or no sympathy with religious education, and the older generations were alien in thought and temper to our American institutions. These things made the task of maintaining the college at that point a most heroic and arduous work."

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After some years of struggle, the college was removed to Toledo, where it now wields an influence second to none in the state.

One of the early educational centers in Linn county was the private school established in 1850 in the Greene Bros. block, which stood on the corner of First street and First avenue, Cedar Rapids, where now stands the building owned by Sunshine Mission. It was founded by Miss Elizabeth Calder, a native of New York, and who in 1855 married R. C. Rock, the first hardware dealer in the city, who came here from Burlington and whose place of business was located on First street a few doors south of the corner of First avenue. This school prospered and was conducted by Miss Calder for four years when it was discontinued.

One of the first, if not the very first, teacher in Cedar Rapids was Miss Susan Abbe, daughter of the old pioneer. She taught in this city in 1846, the superintendent being Alexander Ely.

Miss Emma J. Fordyce, at present a teacher in the Cedar Rapids high school, contributes to this work the following sketch of early schools in the county, and more particularly in the city of Cedar Rapids:

"It is not often in this changing country that a person lives a lifetime in one community and sees the schools grow from their beginning. This has happened to me. Of the early country schools but two memories remain: a visit in the summer, and one in the winter. There remains an impression of very homely school houses, equally homely surroundings, and very little comfort without or within. It is a standing wonder that even now an Iowa farmer is much more likely to provide an up-to-date fine building for his cattle than a beautiful, well-ordered school-house for the education of his children. A little has been done, but by far too little.

"Early Cedar Rapids was a little village surrounded by groves of oaks, crab-apple, plum, and everywhere the climbing wild grape. Between these groves were the sand hills on which grew vast quantities of sand-burs. Where the Methodist church now stands was a hill which sloped toward the railroad. Where the old Presbyterian church was, the children coasted down 'Pepper Grass Hill;' and where Mr. Crozer's florist establishment is, was a deep and wide pond which, on occasions of heavy rain, furnished water for rafts made from bits of sidewalk.

"The earliest school was on the site of the present Granby building, but of that school I have no personal knowledge. The first school building in my memory was the three-story one which was erected in 1856. It had a white cupola, white trimmings to the windows, with a high, solid board fence, painted red, surrounding it. An iron pump at the side furnished refreshment to the spirit and ammunition for the wetting of people. On the lower floor on the side next the railroad, Miss Elizabeth Shearer taught the children. She was a woman of fine family, fine attainments, and of great patience of spirit. Superintendent[Pg 199] Ingalls was in charge of the school at that time. C. W. Burton followed him the next year. His school board was A. C. Churchill, president; Benjamin Harrison, treasurer; J. W. Henderson, vice-president; D. A. Bradley, secretary. These were assisted by three directors, J. F. Charles, W. W. Smith, E. E. Leach. Mr. Harrison had a unique way of collecting taxes from the delinquent foreign citizens to whom our system of collecting them was a dark puzzle; when they refused to pay, he notified them that on a certain day if the taxes were not forthcoming, he would sell everything they had and apply the proceeds to tax payment. The auction was often begun, but never finished, as the taxes were always forthcoming.

"Mrs. E. J. Lund was one of the earliest of Cedar Rapids teachers. For many years her inspiring example and her patient work developed good children out of bad, and she finished her life's work by taking care of all the poor and unfortunate of the county. The Cedar Rapids superintendents were Professor Humphrey, 1861-4, Professor Ingalls, 1864-5, C. W. Burton, 1865-70, J. E. Harlan, now president of Cornell, 1870-5, F. H. Smith, the latter part of 1875, J. W. Akers, 1875-81, W. M. Friesner, 1881-5, L. T. Weld, 1885-6, J. P. Hendricks, 1886-90, J. T. Merrill, 1890-1901, J. J. McConnell, 1901—, twelve men in thirty-four years. The list shows plainly the growing tendency to keep a superintendent for long periods at a time.

"The high school principals show the same tendency; A. Wetherby, from 1870-1, E. C. Ebersole, 1872-73, W. A. Olmsted, 1871-2, Miss Mary A. Robinson, 1873-86, Miss A. S. Abbott, 1886—.

"The original high school building contained four rooms. In 1876 it had a corps of three teachers: Miss M. A. Robinson, Miss E. J. Meade, Miss Estella Verden, and had an attendance of 106 pupils; it now has twenty teachers with an attendance of 838 pupils. In 1876 there were five buildings in the city; there are now sixteen. Of the teachers thirty-one in number in 1876, there are two left: Miss Emma Forsythe and Miss Emma J. Fordyce. In 1876 the total number of pupils handled by thirty-one teachers was 1,752. In 1911, with 181 teachers, there are 6,122 pupils, not quite six times as many teachers, but showing a smaller average number to each teacher. Evidently the school-houses have always been crowded, since the superintendent's report of 1876 says: 'We have in the school district five school buildings, and these are taxed to their utmost to accommodate the pupils already enrolled.' He also remarks pensively: 'In your wisdom for the coming year, you have reduced the salaries of your teachers, and in some cases the reduction has been such that some of your best teachers have been compelled to seek employment elsewhere.' Since no following superintendent makes the same complaint, it is evident that school boards do improve. As to salaries, the salary of the superintendent in 1883 is given as $1,000; in 1911 as $3,000, which means the magnificent increase of $42 a year; not a great temptation. The salaries of the teachers increase in the same period about $25 a year. Comment is unnecessary.

"As to the high school, the graduates of 1873 to 1885 were but eleven pupils, with nine times as many in 1908. Amongst the older and pioneer high school teachers were Mr. Wetherbee, Miss Ella Meade, and Miss Ada Sherman, who afterward decided to doctor bodies instead of minds, as it paid much better. Mr. Olmsted, the principal of 1872, who left Cedar Rapids in 1873 to found a business in Chicago, died a hero. He lost his life in his burning building trying to save his bookkeeper.

"The tendencies in school work are shown by the fact that the reports of the early superintendents are largely lists of members of the school board, while the later reports give large tabulations of expense. It is to be regretted that Iowa has not adopted a series of uniform reports, giving items almost impossible to[Pg 200] discover as these reports are at present made out. The older schools report seventy-two pupils to a primary teacher. The newer reports are silent on the subject. Since efficiency comes in handling the right number of pupils, it would certainly be wise to keep a careful account of this item.

"The courses of the schools show the growth in public service. The courses of the high school in 1876 are twenty; those of the high school in 1910, eighty-three. All of the older and more prominent citizens served as school directors at one time or another. In 1858 J. L. Enos was president of the board, Freeman Smith, secretary, W. W. Smith, vice-president, J. T. Walker, treasurer, W. W. Walker, director. In 1859 the names of R. C. Rock, E. H. Stedman, J. P. Coulter, and J. M. Chambers appear. In 1860, S. C. Koontz, Henry Church, William Stewart, J. H. Camburn, and William Richmond served. In 1861, W. W. Smith, George M. Howlett, Henry Church, William H. Merritt, A. C. Churchill, and S. L. Pollock directed affairs. In 1862 E. G. Brown, A. C. Churchill, J. F. Ely, George M. Howlett elected Mr. Humphrey superintendent of schools. His reputation seems to have been that of a man of great strength and the bad big boys stood in awe of him accordingly. C. W. Burton, the superintendent of 1865, was noted for his cleverness in mathematics, and his deep interest in horticulture.

"All of these early directors, superintendents, and teachers were hard workers and great optimists. History has confirmed that optimism, and from the services of these men developed a race of ambitious, energetic, moral citizens to whom the present Cedar Rapids owes a great debt of gratitude."

Through the courtesy of County Superintendent Alderman we are enabled to give below some interesting data regarding our schools:

In 1873 the number of school corporations in the county was 42, increased to 87 in 1909. The number of ungraded schools in the former year was 178, and 166 in the latter year. The average number of months the schools were in session has increased from 6.6 in 1873 to 8.9 in 1909, and the average compensation from $39.78 to $73.50 for males, and from $26.33 to $50.85 for females. The number of female teachers employed in 1873 was 244, and in 1909, 503. The number of male teachers was 90 and 40 respectively.

In the matter of attendance there has been a vast betterment. In 1873 there were 460 boys and 544 girls between the ages of seven and fourteen not in school. In 1909 these numbers were 29 and 17.

The value of school property in 1873 was $240,105; in 1909, $814,300. The value of school apparatus was $2,309.50 in 1873, and in 1909, $20,035.25. There were in 1873 in the school libraries 482 volumes, which was increased to 17,079 in 1909.

There are now between twenty-five and thirty fine school buildings in the country districts. They are modern in all respects, being supplied with slate blackboards, hardwood floors, ventilators, cloak rooms, bookcases and cupboards. Several have furnaces and cloak rooms in the basements. Some of the buildings are supplied with telephones, making it possible for the county superintendent and patrons to communicate direct with the school.

The plans and specifications for these buildings are owned by the county, and are furnished gratis to the school districts wishing to build. All of these school-houses except two or three are not only provided with libraries, cloak rooms, etc., but are also provided with a good organ.

This year there is being installed a hot air ventilating system which keeps the warm air pure, the cold air being taken directly from the outside and passed through the hot air radiators before being allowed to enter the school room.


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Historical Sketch of Cornell College


Linn county may well take pride in the history of her oldest school of higher education, founded in 1853, when the county held but 6,000 people. But the beginnings of Cornell College are of more than local interest; they are thoroughly typical of America and of the West. Cornell was founded in much the same way as were hundreds of American colleges along the ever advancing frontier of civilization from Massachusetts to California—a way which the world had never seen before and will never see again.


Cornell owes its inception to a Methodist circuit rider, the Rev. George B. Bowman, a North Carolinian by birth, who came to Iowa from Missouri in 1841, three years after the territorial organization of the commonwealth. This heroic pioneer, resourceful, far seeing, and sanguine of the future, eminent in initiative and in the power of compelling others to his plans, was one of those rare men to whom the task of building states is intrusted. He was not himself a college man, but with him education was a passion. To found institutions of higher education he considered his special mission. Hardly had he been appointed as pastor of the church at Iowa City in 1841 when he undertook the building of a church school, called Iowa City College. In 1845 Rev. James Harlan, a local preacher of Indiana, was chosen president, and with one assistant opened the school in 1846. The next year Mr. Harlan was elected state superintendent of public instruction, and the college was closed never to be re-opened. It had at least served to bring to the state one of its most distinguished citizens, afterward to be honored with the United States senatorship and the secretaryship of the interior. Meanwhile Mr. Bowman had been appointed presiding elder of the Dubuque district, which then included much of east-central Iowa. The failure of the premature attempt at Iowa City had not discouraged him; he awaited the favorable opportunity he still looked for—suitable local conditions for a Christian college in the state. It is a long-told legend, even if it be nothing more than legend, that when Elder Bowman came riding on horseback to the Linn Grove circuit, he stopped on the crest of the lonely hill on which Mount Vernon now stands. From its commanding summit vistas of virgin prairie and primeval forest stretched for ten and twenty miles away. Here there fell upon him, the circuit preacher, the trance and vision of the prophet. He saw the far-off future; he heard the tramp of the multitudes to come. Dismounting, he kneeled down in the rank prairie grass and in prayer to Almighty God consecrated this hill for all time to the cause of Christian education. And it is a matter of authentic history that in the spring of 1851 Elder Bowman and Rev. Dr. A. J. Kynett, in the parsonage at Mount Vernon, planned together for the early founding and upbuilding of a Christian college on this site.

With the characteristic initiative of the Iowa pioneer, Bowman did not wait for authority to be given him by anybody, for articles of incorporation to be[Pg 202] drawn up, or even for a title deed to the land on which the college was to stand. Early in 1852 he laid his plans for the launching of the school. On the Fourth of July of this year an educational celebration was held at Mount Vernon, which drew the farmers for miles about the town, and other friends of the new enterprise from Marion and Cedar Rapids, Anamosa, Dubuque, and Burlington. The oration of the day was delivered by State Superintendent Harlan on the theme of Education, and at its close ground was broken formally for the first building of the college. A month later a deed was obtained for the land and the following September the guardianship of the infant school was accepted under the name of the Iowa Conference Seminary, by the Methodist Episcopal church.

In this highly democratic manner Cornell College was founded by the people as an institution of higher learning, which should ever be of the people and for the people. It was born on the anniversary of the nation's natal day, and was to remain one of the highest expressions of patriotism and civic life. Christened by the head of the educational interests of the young commonwealth, supported by its citizens, protected by a charter from the state, and exempt as a beneficent institution of the state from contributing by taxation to the support of other institutions, the college was thus begun as a state school in a very real sense.

One can not read the early archives of the college without the profoundest admiration for the pioneers, its founders. Avid of education to a degree pathetic, they depended on no beaurocracy of church or state; they waited for no foreign philanthropy to supply their educational needs. They laid the foundations of their colleges with the same free, independent, self-sufficing spirit with which they laid their hearthstones, and they laid both at the same time.


In January, 1853, the first meeting of the board of trustees was held, and in the fall of the same year the school was opened in the old Methodist church at Mount Vernon. Before the end of the term a new edifice on the campus was so far completed that it was available for school purposes and "on the morning of November 14, 1853, the school met for the last time in the old church and after singing and prayer the students were formed in line and walked in procession with banners flying, led by the teachers, through the village, and took formal possession of what was then declared to be a large and commodious building."[J]

The first catalog—a little time-stained pamphlet of fifteen pages—lists the following faculty:

The first board of trustees is also noteworthy:

Rev. George B. Bowman, president, Mount Vernon; E. D. Waln, Esq., secretary, Mount Vernon; Rev. H. W. Reed, Centerville; Rev. E. W. Twining, Iowa City; Rev. J. B. Taylor, Mount Vernon; Jesse Holman, North Sugar Grove; Henry Kepler, North Sugar Grove; William Hayzlett, Mount Vernon; A. I. Willits, Mount Vernon.

The roster of students enrolls 104 gentlemen, and 57 ladies. Among them are familiar and honored names, some of which are to reappear in all later catalogs of the school, either as students of the second and third generation, or as trustees and members of faculty. Four Rigbys, for example, were students in 1853. In[Pg 203] 1910 the catalog lists three Rigbys, one a student and two members of the faculty. The first catalog contains the names of no less than nine Keplers as students, six stalwart young men from North Sugar Grove and their three sisters. Four Walns are enrolled from Mount Vernon, two Farleys from Dubuque and two Reeders from Red Oak.

In 1853 the population of the entire state was only about 300,000. Not a railway had been projected west of the Mississippi river. And yet the scattered settlements sent across the unbroken prairie and the unbridged rivers no less than 161 students to the young school on this the first year of its existence. The most important route to Mount Vernon was the military road extending from Dubuque to Iowa City. Both towns contributed their quota of students, Dubuque sending no less than twelve, although the entire population of Dubuque county was then, less than 16,000. Considering the difficulty of communications, the poverty of the pioneers, the wide extent of the sphere of influence of the school is remarkable. Students were drawn this first year from as far to the northeast as Elkader and Garnavillo. They came from Dyersville and Independence, from Quasqueton and Vinton, from Marengo, Columbus City, West Liberty, and Burlington. Muscatine alone sent seven students. This town was at the time the point of supply for Mount Vernon, and the materials for the first building of the college except such as local saw mills and brick kilns could supply were hauled from that river port.[K] Students came also from Davenport, Le Claire, Princeton, and Blue Grass in Scott county, from Comanche, and from the pioneer settlements of La Motte and Canton in Jackson county. The eight hundred students of Cornell today reach the school from all parts of the state and the adjacent portions of our neighboring states by a few hours swift and comfortable ride by rail. But who shall picture in detail the long and adventurous journeys in ox cart and pioneer wagon and perchance often on foot of the boys and girls of 1853—the climbing of steep hills, the fording of rivers, the miring in abysmal sloughs, the succession of mile after mile of undulating treeless prairie carpeted with gorgeous flowers stretching unbroken to the horizon, the camp at night illuminated by distant prairie fires, until at last a boat shaped hill surmounted by a lonely red brick building lifts itself above the horizon, and the goal of the long journey is in view!

No doubt there were other hardships awaiting these students after their arrival. Rule No. 1 of the new school compelled their rising at five o'clock in the morning. They were expected to furnish their own beds, lights, mirrors, etc., when boarding in Seminary Hall. It is interesting to note that they paid for tuition $4.00 and $5.00 per quarter, and for board from $1.50 to $1.75 per week. The next year the steward's petition to the board of trustees that he be allowed to put three students in each of the little rooms was granted with the proviso "that he furnish suitable bunks for the same." The catalog's statement regarding apparatus is a guarded one: "The Institution is furnished with apparatus for illustrating some of the most important principles of Natural Science. As the wants of school demand, additions will be made to this apparatus." And that regarding the library is wholly prophetic: "It is intended to procure a good selection of readable and instructive books, by the commencement of the next academic year, to which the students will have access at a trifling expense. With these books as a nucleus, a good library will be accumulated as rapidly as possible. Donations of good books are solicited from friends of the institution." In the next catalog it is stated that "a small but good selection of readable and instructive books has been procured," the remainder of the statement being the same[Pg 204] as that of the first year. This statement appeared without change in all succeeding catalogs during the remainder of the first decade.


As early as 1855 the articles of incorporation were amended changing the name of the institution to Cornell College, in honor of W. W. Cornell and his brother J. B. Cornell, of New York City, men prominent in business and widely known for their benevolences to various enterprises of the church. It will be noted that Cornell College was thus named several years before the founding by Ezra Cornell, of Cornell University at Ithaca, N. Y.

The first year of the school under the new collegiate régime was that of 1857-1858. Rev. R. W. Keeler of the Upper Iowa Conference was made president, Principal Fellows of the Seminary taking the professorship of Latin. Two years later President Keeler reentered the more congenial work of the ministry, and Principal Fellows was elected president of the college, a position which he held most acceptably until his death on the day after commencement June 26, 1863, thus completing a full decade of years of service in the school.

President Fellows had come to Cornell from the Rock River Seminary at Mount Morris. His character and the quality of his work left lasting impressions on his pupils at both institutions. Thus Hon. Robert R. Hitt, of Illinois, writes of him as follows: "He was a diligent, acute, and active student, and his personal character was admirable. It is the fortune of few men to exercise so wide and prominent an influence from a position which, to the ambitious, is not considered eminent." And Senator Shelby M. Cullom has written: "I regard Professor Fellows as one of the best men I ever knew. I said it when I was under him at school, and now that I am over seventy years of age, I say it now. He was strong, honest-hearted, full of kindness, and a splendid teacher."

His colleague at Cornell, Dr. David H. Wheeler, described him as "a man sweet-spirited, pure-minded, of fine executive ability, a rarely qualified teacher, a patient sufferer, a tireless worker, a model friend."

A word may be said as to the members of President Fellows's faculty:

Miss Catharine A. Fortner, a graduate of Cazenovia Seminary, N. Y., was sent out in 1851 by Governor Slade, of Vermont, as a missionary teacher to Iowa. Her success near Tipton was so marked that she was chosen as the first preceptress of the institution. In 1857 she resigned to marry Rev. Rufus Ricker, of the Upper Iowa Conference.

Wm. H. Barnes, professor of languages in 1854-1855, resigned to accept a professorship in Baldwin University, Ohio, and is known as author of several works in history and politics.

His successor, Rev. B. W. Smith, after leaving the school in 1857 became pastor of several of the largest churches in northern Indiana, and president of Valparaiso College.

Dr. David H. Wheeler, professor of languages in 1853-1854, and professor of Greek from 1857 to 1861, when he was appointed U. S. consul to Genoa, was a brilliant and versatile man, author of a number of books, professor for eight years at Northwestern University, editor for eight years of the New York Methodist, and for nine years president of Allegheny College.

The brother of President Fellows, Dr. Stephen N. Fellows, has a large place in the educational history of Iowa. He assisted his brother in laying the foundation of Cornell College, being professor of mathematics from 1854 to 1860, and later occupied the chair of mental and moral science and didactics at the State University of Iowa for twenty years.

On account of her long connection with the college, from 1857 to 1890, Miss Harriette J. Cooke exerted a more potent influence on the institution than any of her colleagues of the first decade. Miss Cooke came to Cornell from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and brought the best culture for women which New England then afforded, as well as an exceptionally forceful personality, and rare natural aptitudes for her profession. From 1860 to the time of her resignation she was dean of women, and her influence for good on the thousands of young women under her care is incalculable. After long service as an instructor she was made a full professor in 1871, the first woman in America, it has been said, to be thus honored. Her chair for fifteen years was history and German, and after 1886 history and the science of government. On leaving the college she studied the methods of deaconess work in England, wrote a book upon the subject, and returning to her native land became one of the leaders in this new department of social service. For many years she has been closely connected with the University Settlement of Boston. On the recent celebration of her eightieth birthday she received hundreds of letters of loving congratulation from her former students of Cornell, and each of these letters was answered by her painstakingly and at length.



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The first ten years of the institution were marked by a singularly rapid growth, considering the fact that they included the darkest days of the Civil war, when nearly every male student was drawn from the college halls to the service of his country. At the end of the decade the faculty numbered eight professors and instructors, and 375 students were enrolled, fifty-one of whom were in college classes, the largest enrollment of collegiate students in the state, unless at the State University. The assets of the institution amounted to $50,000 in notes and pledges, a campus of fifteen acres, and two brick buildings which compared not unfavorably with other college buildings in the west and with the earlier halls of Harvard.

In a large measure this exceptional growth was due to Elder Bowman, to his initiative and wide and powerful influence. The chief problem then as now was one of sustenance, and as a college beggar Bowman was incomparable. He travelled over the settled portions of the state, winning men to his cause by a singular personal charm, and enticing even out of poverty money, promissory notes at altitudinous rates of interest, farm produce, live stock and poultry, household furniture and jewelry. His barnyard at Mount Vernon was continually stocked with horses, cattle, and chickens—votive offerings to the cause of higher education. A citizen of the town once told me how under some mesmeric influence he bought at high price from Elder Bowman an old book case and coal scuttle, begged somewhere for the school. This prince of college beggars once returned from Dubuque with a silver watch which he had plundered off the person of an eminent minister of that city.


Nothing is so tame as the history of a college once the interesting period of its childhood is over, and the history of Cornell is exceptionally uneventful among colleges. No building has been destroyed by fire or tornado. No famous lawsuit against the school has been defended by some Webster among the alumni. None of the faculty has won notoriety by sensational speech or erratic morals.

The salient feature of the forty-seven years since 1863 is a marvelous growth unparalleled in some respects in the history of education. The campus has been enlarged by addition after addition until now it measures sixty acres, including the larger part of the long hill and wide athletic fields along its northern base. To the two first buildings, still used, one for the chemical, biological and physical laboratories and the other for class rooms and society halls, there have been added South Hall, built in 1873 and now used for the engineering and geological laboratories; the Chapel, completed in 1882, a stately Gothic structure of stone, containing the auditorium, seating about 1,500, a smaller audience room, the museum,[Pg 206] and several music rooms; Bowman Hall, built in 1885, as the well appointed home of ninety-two young women; the library dedicated in 1905, the gift of Andrew Carnegie; the alumni gymnasium in Ash Park, built in 1909, a noble structure, one of the largest of the kind in the state, besides several minor buildings used for allied schools and professors's residences.

The material equipment has made a phenomenal growth, until several of the scientific laboratories are reckoned among the best in the Central West, and the library, numbering 35,000 volumes, ranks as third in size among the university and college libraries in the state, and second to but one of the city libraries of Iowa. The museum includes several collections which rank among the largest in the west: the Kendig collection of minerals, the Norton collection of fossils, and the Powers collection in American anthropology.


From the beginning Cornell has been a relatively large school measured by the number of its students, and its growth the last decades forbids it longer to be called a small college. Indeed, for many years it has maintained its place as the largest denominational college, or among the two or three largest, in the United States west of the Great Lakes, reckoned by the number of students of collegiate rank. The attendance has steadily risen until, in 1909-1910, 741 students were enrolled, 450 of them being in the college of liberal arts. The steady growth in numbers of collegiate students evidences the satisfaction which the school has given to its patrons, and an ever widening influence and power. Moreover, it has increased the efficiency of the school by the inspiration of numbers and the intensity of competition in all departments of college life. By bringing together students from all parts of the state and scores from other states, some with the polish of the city and others with the sturdy strength of the country, it has escaped the narrowness of the provincial and has attained something akin to cosmopolitanism.

To make Cornell an institution state-wide in its patronage and influence was the evident purpose of its founders. Nothing was further from their minds than a local college for the students of a town or county, or one drawing its patronage from a few contiguous counties. The trustees have been chosen widely over the state and the attendance from all parts of Iowa has been surprisingly large, considering the many excellent colleges the state supports. In an investigation made a few years since of the geographic distribution of the students it was found that 41 per cent of the collegiate students came from beyond the borders of the patronizing conference, and the counties west and south of the Des Moines river furnished 20 per cent of the students in attendance from the state. The college has thus grown to have a state-wide field.


In explaining the growth of Cornell college we must recognize, of course, that it has grown up with the country. We must relate the growth of the school directly to the material prosperity of this land of corn and swine, to the marvelously fertile soil and to the era of expansion in which our history falls. The fact remains, however, that the college has obtained somehow a good deal more than its due share in the general advance. While the population of the state increased 330 per cent from 1860 to 1900, the collegiate attendance at Cornell increased 720 per cent. The college has grown more than twice as fast as has the state, and that notwithstanding the numerous good schools which have sprung up to share its patronage.

We can not doubt that much of the success of the school has been due to its strategic position. It is located in a suburban town of the chief railway center of[Pg 207] eastern Iowa. From Cedar Rapids long iron ways, like the spokes of a wheel, reach in all directions to the limits of the state and beyond, and bring every portion of the commonwealth and the adjacent parts of our neighboring states within a few hours ride of Cornell college. It is located also in east Central Iowa, an area of the state the first to be settled and developed, an area surpassed by none in the fertility of its soils, and the wealth which has been produced from them. To these geographic factors, advantages shared in like degree by none of the early competitors of the school, we may assign a place similar to that given such factors in explaining the growth of New York city and of Pittsburg.

While the college had thus had the city's advantages of communication and markets because of its nearness to Cedar Rapids, it has retained all the peculiar advantages which inhere in a location in a village. Like Bowdoin, Dartmouth, and Oberlin, Cornell has found in the small town, rather than in the city, an ideal college environment. It has never permitted the presence of saloon or other haunt of vice. The citizens with whom the students have made their homes have been people of culture drawn to the town by its educational advantages. In all that makes for the intellectual life, in libraries and collections, in lectures and good music, and church privileges, Mount Vernon has had more to offer than perhaps any city of the state; while the temptations and distractions, the round of low amusements offered by the city, have been fortunately absent.


More than geographic location, it is great men and great plans that make great schools. Let us give much credit therefore to the men who have administered the college as members of its board of trustees. Our debt to them is like that of Michigan University to its board of regents whose wise plans pushed it early to the fore among the state universities of the west and far in advance of the place to which geographic causes alone would have assigned it. Some of these were pioneers of only local fame, such as Elijah D. Waln, Henry D. Albright, William Hayzlett, Jesse Holman, Noah McKean, and Dr. G. L. Carhart, men whose memory will ever be cherished in Mount Vernon. Others were men of note in the early history of the state, such as Hon. Hiram Price, of Davenport, Jesse Farley, of Dubuque, and A. P. Hosford and W. H. Lunt, of Clinton. Especially to be noted is the long service which the trustees have given to the school. Of the members of the executive committee Col. Robert Smyth, sturdy Scotch Presbyterian, was a member for twenty-eight years until his death in 1896. On the same committee Hon. W. F. Johnston, of Toledo, long president of the board, has already served for thirty-three years. Col. H. H. Rood, another of the members of the executive committee, has served continuously as trustee since 1867, and Capt. E. B. Soper, of Emmetsburg, since 1878. Captain Soper has long been one of the most influential members of the governing board, and it is to his initiative and faith that the alumni gymnasium is due. Dr. J. B. Allbrook has served since 1874. H. A. Collin was treasurer of the college from 1860 to his death in 1892. Hon. D. N. Cooley, of Dubuque, served as trustee for twenty-four years, and Hon. W. J. Young, of Clinton, for twenty-six years, their terms of office being terminated only by death. Of the present board of trustees there may be named as among those longest in service, F. H. Armstrong, of Chicago; Hon. W. C. Stuckslager, of Lisbon; E. J. Esgate, of Marion; Maj. E. B. Hayward, of Davenport; Hon. Eugene Secor, of Forest City; Dr. Edward T. Devine, of New York; T. J. B. Robinson, of Hampton; John H. Blair, of Des Moines; Rev. W. W. Carlton, of Mason City; Rev. E. J. Lockwood and John H. Taft, of Cedar Rapids; Hon. Leslie M. Shaw, of Philadelphia; R. J. Alexander, of Waukon; E. B. Willix, of Mount Vernon; Senator Edgar T. Brackett, of Saratoga, N. Y.; O. P. Miller, of Rock Rapids; Rev. Homer C. Stuntz, of Madison, N. J. and N. G. Van Sant, of Sterling, Ill.

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Among the eminent men who have served the college we must give special mention to Rev. Alpha J. Kynett, one of the pioneers of Methodism west of the Mississippi, who served on the board from 1865 to his death in 1899. Dr. Kynett was the founder of the great Church Extension society and for many years was its chief executive. In this capacity he probably built more churches than any man who has ever lived. For a third of a century he was a close friend and adviser of the college, and all his wide experience and his ability as an organizer and financier were always at its service.


In 1863 occurred the sad death of President Fellows, under whose superintendence the school had been organized. He was succeeded in office by William Fletcher King, a graduate of the Ohio Wesleyan University and a member of its faculty, who thus brought to Cornell an acquaintance with the scope and methods of one of the best colleges of the middle west. At the time of his election to the presidency Dr. King was professor of Latin and Greek at Cornell, and thus for the second time a president was chosen from the ranks of those actively engaged in the work of higher education rather than, as was then almost universally the custom, from those of another profession. In 1908 Dr. King resigned his office after a term of service of forty-five years. For a number of years he had thus been the oldest college president in the United States in the duration of his office. His administration was essentially a business administration, with little talk but much of doing. There was in it nothing spectacular, and no pretense, or sham. No discourteous act ever strained friendly relations with other schools. Dr. King made no enemies and no mistakes. He was ever tactful, poised, discreet, far-seeing, winning men to the support of his wise and well-laid plans but never forcing their acceptance. The college itself is a monument to this successful business administration. For Cornell does not owe its success to any munificent gifts. Like John Harvard, W. W. Cornell and his brother left the college which perpetuates their memories little more than a good name and a few good books. No donation of more than $25,000 was received until more than forty years of the history of the college had elapsed. Whatever excellence the college has attained is due to the skill and patience of its builders and not to any unlimited or even large funds at their disposal.

On the resignation of Dr. King, the presidency passed to his logical successor, Dr. James Elliott Harlan, who had served as vice president of the college since 1881. He had long had the management and investment of the large funds of the college and the administration of the school in its immediate relations with the students. Just, sympathetic, patient, he had won the esteem of all connected with the college, and to him was largely due the exceptional tranquillity which the college had enjoyed in all its intimate relations. Dr. Harlan was graduated from Cornell College in 1869. For three years he was superintendent of the schools of Cedar Rapids, and for one year he held a similar place at Sterling, Ill. From here he was called to the alumni professorship of mathematics in Cornell College. The larger part of his life has thus been bound up inextricably with the school. He knows and is known and loved by all the alumni and old students. The first year of his administration was signalized by the erection of the new alumni gymnasium, and the second by the conditional gift by the general educational board of $100,000.00 to its endowment funds.

REV. SAMUEL M. FELLOWS, A. M. First President Cornell
First President Cornell College

The dean of the college since 1902 has been Professor H. H. Freer, a graduate of the school of the class of 1869, and a member of the faculty since 1870. Dean Freer was one of the first men in Iowa to see the need of schools of education in connection with colleges and universities and was placed at the head of such a school—the normal department of Cornell—early in the '70s. As has recently[Pg 209] been said of him by Pres. H. H. Seerley, of Iowa Teachers College, "his connection with teacher education is probably unexcelled in Iowa educational history and no tribute that can be paid could do justice to his faithful endeavors." Dean Freer has been most intimately connected with the administration for many years. In 1873 he organized the alumni, with the help of Rev. Dr. J. B. Albrook, for the endowment of a professorship. At that time there were but 108 living graduates, forty-seven of whom were women. Of the men, only thirty-eight had been out of college more than three years. Yet this audacious enterprise was carried through to complete success and was followed by the endowment of a second alumni chair. In all of the great financial campaigns Dean Freer has been indispensible, and the moneys he has secured to the college amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. More than this, by his wide acquaintance throughout the state and by his cordial friendship with all old students, he has been one of the chief representatives of the college around whom its friends have ever rallied. Since 1887 he has been professor of political economy in the college, and now occupies the David Joyce chair of economics and sociology.


Of the nearly 300 teachers who have been enrolled in the faculties of the college there is space for the mention of but few names: Dr. Alonzo Collin, who began by teaching all the sciences and mathematics in the young school in 1860, and resigned in 1906 as professor of physics; Dr. Hugh Boyd, professor of Latin from 1871 to 1906; Prof. S. N. Williams, head of the school of civil engineering since 1873; Prof. George O. Curme, professor of German from 1884 to 1897, now a member of the faculty of Northwestern University; Dr. W. S. Ebersole, professor of Greek since 1892; Dr. James A. James, professor of history from 1893 to 1897, now teaching in Northwestern University; Prof. H. M. Kelley, professor of biology since 1894; Dr. Thomas Nicholson, professor of the English Bible from 1894 to 1904, now general educational secretary of the M. E. church; Dr. F. A. Wood, professor of German from 1897 to 1903, now member of the faculty of University of Chicago; Prof. Mary Burr Norton, alumni professor of mathematics, whose connection with the faculty dates from 1877; Dr. H. C. Stanclift, professor of history since 1899; Dr. Nicholas Knight, professor of chemistry since 1899; Dr. George H. Betts, psychology, who entered the faculty in 1902; Prof. C. D. Stevens, English literature, since 1903; Prof. C. R. Keyes, German, since 1903; Miss Mary L. McLeod, dean of women, since 1900; Prof. John E. Stout, education, since 1903.

The continuity, the long terms of service of the administrative officers and the professors, can hardly be too strongly emphasized as a potent factor in the growth of the college. If the history of the school had seen a rapid succession of different presidents and frequent changes of faculty, if there had been changes in plans and purposes, factions and struggles, and the loss of friends which such struggles entail, if the power of the machinery had been wasted in internal friction we may be sure that the story of the college would have been far other than it is.


The graduates of Cornell now number 1,446. This small army of educated men and women have scattered widely over all the states of the union and to many foreign countries. They have entered many vocations. The profession receiving the largest number is teaching. Of the 1,139 graduates including the class of 1905, reported in the catalog of 1908, ninety-seven have been engaged in teaching in colleges and universities, and 165 in secondary and normal schools. One hundred and forty-nine have entered the law, and 139 have entered the[Pg 210] ministry. Business and banking were the employments of 113. Medicine has been the choice of forty-nine, and engineering and architecture of fifty-two. The foreign missionary field has claimed thirty-four, and social service in charity organization societies, deaconess work, social settlements, and the Y. M. C. A. and the Y. W. C. A. have engaged twenty-six. Thirty-two have engaged in farming, and twenty-six in newspaper work. The women graduates of the school very largely have been induced to enter the profession of matrimony. Up to 1876, for example, ninety per cent of the alumnae had married. Of later years the larger opportunities for professional service, opening for women, and no doubt other general causes, have decreased the percentage, but of all women graduates up to the year 1900, seventy per cent have married. Of these forty-two per cent have married graduates of the college. The common error that college education lessens the opportunities of woman for her natural vocation is disproved, at least so far as Cornell college is concerned. The marriages of the graduates of Cornell have been singularly fortunate. Among the more than 1,400 alumni, there has been so far as known but two divorces. Considering the high percentages of divorce in the states of the Union, rising as high in some states as one divorce to every six marriages, the divorceless history of the Cornell alumni witnesses the sociologic value of the Christian co-educational college.

In numbers the graduating classes have steadily increased. The first class, that of 1858, consisted of two members, Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Cavanaugh, of Iowa City. Classes remained small, never exceeding five, until the close of the Civil war when the young men who had entered the service of their country, and who survived the war, returned to school. In 1867 eleven were graduated, and in 1869 the class numbered twenty-two. The last decade the graduating class from the college of liberal arts has averaged sixty.


President Charles W. Elliot, in one of his educational addresses, after enumerating what the community must do for the college, asks, "And what will the college do for the community? It will make rich returns of learning, of poetry, and of piety, and of that fine sense of civic duty without which republics are impossible." That Cornell has made all these returns in ample measure is shown by the roster of the alumni with its many eminent names in the service of state and church. More than fifteen thousand young men and women have left the college halls carrying with them for the enrichment of the community stores of learning, poetic ideals of life, and vital piety. The fine sense of civic duty which the college breeds finds special illustration in the crisis of the Civil war, and here we may quote the eloquent words of Colonel Harry H. Rood in an address delivered at the Semi-Centennial of the college in 1904:

"The first seven and a half years in the history of this college was a period of struggle and embarrassment. The spring of 1861 seemed to be the beginning of brighter days. A railway had brought it in touch with the outer world, and the effects of the great financial panic of 1857 were passing, enabling the sons and daughters of the pioneers to enter its halls to secure the education they so greatly desired. The sky of hope was quickly overcast, and the storm cloud of the Civil war, which had been gathering for half a century, burst over the land. The students of Cornell were not surprised or alarmed. The winter preceding they had organized a mock congress with every state represented, in which all the issues of the coming conflict were fully discussed and understood.... The first regiment the young state sent out to preserve the Union had in its ranks a company from this county—one-third of the names upon its muster rolls were students from this school. The first full company to go from this township into[Pg 211] the three years service had one-third of its membership from this college, and the second full company from the township, in 1862, also had an equal number of Cornell's patriotic sons. In the great crisis of 1864, when President Lincoln asked for men to relieve the veteran regiments and permit them to go to the front, almost a full company were college men. In the class of 1861 only two men were graduated and both entered the service.... The record shows that from 1853 to 1871 fifty-four men were graduated from the college, and of these thirty had worn the blue."

During the war the college had much the aspect of a female seminary to which a few young boys and cripples had been admitted by courtesy. In 1863 but twelve male students were registered in college classes, and at the commencement of this year all upon the program were women except a delicate youth unfit for war and a boy of sixteen years. This commencement was unique in the history of the college. On commencement day the audience of peaceful folk seated in the grove quietly listening to the student orations was suddenly transformed to an infuriated mob, when one girl visitor attempted to snatch from another a copperhead pin she was wearing. So strong was the excitement, that the college buildings were guarded by night for some time afterward for fear that they might be burned in revenge by sympathisers with the south.[L]

Near the close of the war it was seen that many of the soldier students of the college would be unable to complete their education because of the sacrifices they had made in the service of their country. A fund of fourteen thousand dollars was therefore contributed by patriot friends at home and in part by Iowa regiments in the field for the education of disabled soldiers and soldiers' orphans. No gift to the school has ever been more useful than this foundation, which aided in the support of hundreds of the most worthy students of the college.

Two of the students of Cornell were enrolled in the armies of the Confederacy. Of these one became a lieutenant in a Texas regiment. At one time learning that one of his prisoners was a Cornell boy and a member of his own literary society, the Texas lieutenant found Cornell loyalty a stronger motive than official duty. He took his prisoner several miles from camp, gave him a horse and started him for the Union lines.


From the beginning Cornell college has been coëducational. In the earliest years of her history some concessions were made in the courses of study to the supposed weakness of woman's intellect, and "ornamental branches," such as "Grecian painting," which seems to have been a sort of transfer work, "ornamental hair work and wax flowers" were grafted on the curriculum for her special benefit—branches which soon were pruned away.

Woman's presence seems to have been regarded in these early years as a menace to the social order, safely permitted only under the most rigorous restrictions. So late as 1869 Rule Number Twelve appeared in the catalog—"The escorting of young ladies by young gentlemen is not allowed." This was a weak and degenerate offspring of the stern edict of President Keeler's administration:

"Young ladies and gentlemen will not associate together in walking or riding nor stand conversing together in the halls or public rooms of the buildings, but when necessary they can see the persons they desire by permission."

For many years these blue laws have been abrogated, and the only restrictions found needful are those ordinarily imposed by good society. The association[Pg 212] and competition of young men and women in all college activities—an association necessarily devoid of all romance and glamour—has been found sane and helpful to both sexes, and no policy of segregation in any form has ever been as much as suggested.

The social life of the college has always been under the leadership of the literary societies. They are now eight in number: The Amphictyon, Adelphian, Miltonian and Star for men and the Philomathean, Aesthesian, Alethean and Aonian for women. The students of the Academy also sustain four flourishing societies, the Irving and Gladstone, Clionian and King.

These societies meet in large and rather luxuriously furnished halls in which they entertain their friends each week with literary and musical programs, followed by short socials. Business meetings offer thorough drill in parliamentary practice and often give place to impromptu debates which give facility in extemporaneous speaking. The societies also give banquets and less formal receptions from time to time and in general have charge of the social life of the school. Members are chosen by election and the rushing of the incoming freshman class is a fast and furious campaign, occupying a week or so of the first half-year. However it may affect studies, it certainly develops friendships and promotes the rapid assimilation of the large number of new students in the body social of the school.

The societies have always been in effect fraternities and sororities so far as social advantages are concerned, and they have performed the function of the best fraternities in the intellectual and moral supervision which they have given their members. But the literary societies have been more than fraternities, and under their supervision the social life of the college has been lived on a distinctly higher plane than had its organization been purely social and for recreation only. They have also been markedly distinguished from fraternities in their democratic character. Instead of excluding fifty or even seventy or eighty per cent of the students from their privileges, they have given their inestimable social advantages to practically all who cared to join them. They have thus prevented the growth of a leisured class of students whose sole interest in college is found in its recreations and who have been allowed the control of the college social life. Indeed, so valuable in the history of the college has this social organization proved that students have suggested that it be extended to other colleges by means of affiliated chapters.


During the earlier years of its history the college received few notable gifts. It was largely sustained by innumerable small contributions to its current expenses and endowment funds made by devoted friends whose generosity and self sacrifice deserve the praise bestowed upon the widow who cast her mite into the treasury of the temple. The larger gifts which have been made in endowing chairs, with the amounts and dates of the foundation and names of the donors, are as follows:

1859 Hamline Professorship of Greek Language and Literature, $25,000, by Bishop L. L. Hamline.

1873 D. N. Cooley Professorship of Civil and Sanitary Engineering, $10,000, by Hon. D. N. Cooley, Dubuque, and Oliver Hoyt.

1873 Alumni Professorship of Mathematics, $50,000, by The Alumni.

1885 W. F. Johnston Professorship of Physics, $50,000, by Hon. W. F. Johnston, Toledo.

1902 Edgar Truman Brackett, Jr., Professorship of History and Politics, $30,000, by Hon. Edgar T. Brackett, Saratoga, N. Y.

1904 David Joyce Professorship of Political Economy and Sociology, $50,000, by David Joyce, Clinton.



[Pg 213]

1904 Lucy Hayes King Foundation, now in support of the presidency, by ex-president Wm. F. King, $50,000.

1910 Alumni Professorship of Geology, $50,000, by The Alumni.

Among the other notable gifts to the college must be mentioned that by the Hon. Andrew Carnegie, of $50,000 for the erection of the Carnegie library, dedicated in 1905.

The largest donations to the college have been those of its president emeritus, William Fletcher King. Most valuable of all have been the long years of service, but besides these he has given from time to time many financial gifts to meet current needs and near the end of his term of office, he crowned his benefactions not only with the endowment of the professorship just mentioned, but with the munificent gift of $100,000 to found 100 scholarships in memory of Margaret Fletcher King. At the unveiling of the bronze tablet in her memory, in 1904, Hon. L. M. Shaw spoke these fitting words: "It is my privilege to witness the unveiling of a tablet erected in memory of a saintly woman who came in bridal clothes and left in cerements, and who spent the entire thirty-eight years of her married life wedded as completely to Cornell college as to William F. King, and who served both with equal faithfulness and with unfaltering devotion. Words are inadequate to measure the influence of a Christian woman's life spent amid surroundings such as have existed here for a generation. Neither does bronze suffice to prophesy the lift toward righteousness and higher citizenship of what is here done by the bereaved husband in the name of Margaret McKell King.... The tablet so thoughtfully erected to her memory and the endowment of scholarships so generously made by Dr. King guarantee the perpetuation of the sweet influence of a noble life and extend the benison of Christian education to one hundred students per annum, on and on, far beyond the ken of those who knew her and knowing loved her."

In 1910 the general education board made a conditional gift to the college of $100,000 for endowment, and of the $300,000 to be secured to meet the conditions nearly half has already been promised in sums among the largest ever given to the school.


In the fifties Cornell college was a very simple organization. In the first year of the college as distinct from the seminary, six teachers taught the entire round of the college course, which then included but forty subjects, each pursued for but three months. Besides Latin, Greek and mathematics, there were offered six terms in science and seven in the following subjects: Natural Theology, Evidences of Christianity, Moral Science, Butler's Analogy, Mental Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Elements of Criticism. This simple curriculum was stated by the catalog to embrace "the course of study in Mathematics, Languages, Sciences, and Belle Lettres which is prescribed in the best colleges and universities. It is thorough, extensive and systematic." All the same, both Cornell and "the best colleges and universities" have found that college courses could be made more "thorough and extensive" if not "more systematic." Latin, for example, at Cornell now offers eleven half-year courses instead of nine third-year courses as in 1857-1858. Sciences, which then offered six terms, now offer thirty-seven half-years and form five strong departments with their own professors and assistants. In 1875 the department of English Literature was organized, and the same year special teachers were employed for the first time in public speaking, although the School of Oratory was not organized until 1891. History and Politics became a distinct department in 1886. Courses in the English Bible were offered in 1894, and in Sociology in 1900. In all, the last catalog lists more than two hundred half-year collegiate courses of study.

[Pg 214]

The college has been among the foremost in the west in adapting and enlarging its courses to meet changing ideals. As early as 1873 the department of Civil and Sanitary Engineering was organized, in which hundreds of young men have received a valuable equipment for the work of life. One of the earliest recognitions of education as a collegiate subject was when courses in this science were offered at Cornell in 1872—the beginning of the present strong school of education. In 1900 and 1901 special directors of Physical Training for both men and women were first employed.


During all these changing years since 1853 the spirit of Cornell has remained essentially the same. It has made for scholarship—a scholarship honest, tireless, and fearless in the search for truth; it has cherished culture; it has fitted for service and has sent forth its students to perform, in the words of Milton, "justly, skilfully, and magnanimously all the duties both public and private of peace and war." It has ever been a religious spirit, too, this spirit of Cornell, and kindling in thousands of young hearts has inspired them to purer, stronger, and more helpful living.

The influence of Cornell may be summarized by a quotation from an editorial in the Cedar Rapids Republican in 1904, reviewing the history of the college:

"Fifty years of college work and college building; what does it mean? What is it these men, about whom we have been writing, have done? The half can not be told. No research, however painstaking, could discover it all, for only a portion of such work is ever seen of men. For fifty years a constant stream of beneficent influences has been flowing out from this institution. The pure water which gushes from a spring on the hillsides, who can trace? A certain portion will refresh those who dwell near its source. The remainder flows away to form a brooklet that 'joins brimming river' which carries ships, waters cities, and finally augments an ocean current that washes illimitable shores. But for these springs the everlasting ocean would dry up. The stream of beneficent influences which has been flowing from this institution on the hillside down yonder, has been carried around the world—into countless fields of human activity and high endeavor—into homes where mothers teach their children to avoid those things that are of the earth earthy—into business establishments where the golden rule is not always turned toward the wall—into legislative halls where statesmen and patriots are needed—into the judiciary of state and nation—into the cabinet of the president of the United States—into all callings and all professions—into all countries and all climes. May it flow on forever and forever!"

[Pg 215]


History of Coe College


There is an interest, and a charm peculiarly its own in tracing a stream that has grown to be a river back to its head waters in some lake or mountain spring. And when instead of a river we trace backward a college to its source and fountain head, this interest and charm come to possess a sacred value and are full of hallowed associations. And the charm and interest become complete when this matter is pursued by one who is not only a historian but also a participant in the transactions which cover years of time and call up many holy and tender memories of scenes and places, and yet more, of persons who were fellow-workers in the good cause and the most of whom have passed from earth.

The fountain head of Coe College, whose history it is now proposed to record, is to be sought and found in the mind and heart of the Rev. Williston Jones, the pioneer pastor of Cedar Rapids, who for the years between 1849 and 1856 was the minister of the First Presbyterian church of this city. Mr. Jones was a most zealous servant of his Divine Master, and labored zealously for His cause, not only in the local field, which was then so newly opened for settlement, but in the whole outlying region. His heart felt the needs of this entire middle west, which, as a fertile wilderness, was offering such inducements for the pioneer settler, and he longed to do his part to the utmost in assisting to provide this region with a gospel ministry. To this end, he opened a School of the Prophets in his own home.

We now avail ourselves at this early point of our history of the valuable contributions furnished by the words of the Rev. George R. Carroll, in his most interesting little volume entitled Pioneer Life in and Around Cedar Rapids, 1839-1849.

"Mr. Jones had persuaded one young man, the writer of this sketch, to devote his life to the gospel ministry. But there was no school here in which he could begin his studies. At last the zealous pastor decided to undertake himself the task of preparing that young man for college. Meantime, other young men heard of the arrangement, and persuaded Mr. Jones to admit them also to the same privileges. The result was the formation of a class of sixteen or eighteen young men who occupied the unfurnished parlor in the pastor's house, which was temporarily fitted up for the purpose. One of the number was chosen to act as monitor each week, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones came in at different hours of the day to hear the recitations in the various branches of study pursued. The branches studied were reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, Latin and Greek. This school continued its regular sessions for about six months, and was successfully wound up with a public exhibition under the shade trees in front of the pastor's residence on the hill near the Milwaukee depot. The following young men were among the students of that first school: George Weare, John Stony, Cyrus E. Ferguson, Murry S. D. Davis, Amos Ferguson, Isaac W. Carroll, Mortimer A. Higley, William E. Earl, William J. Wood, Edwin Kennedy, George R. Carroll, James L. Bever, and George W. Bever."

[Pg 216]

We also avail ourselves of an extract from the Fortieth Anniversary First Presbyterian Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1887, on which occasion Mr. Carroll in his biographical sketch of the Rev. Williston Jones, our first pastor, used the following language:

"Mr. Jones was deeply interested in the subject of raising up a native ministry. That is to say, he believed that it was important that we should seek out young men from among the people of the west to labor in the west. It was, therefore, his constant aim wherever he met a Christian young man of any promise, to lay before him the claims of the gospel ministry, and urge him prayerfully to consider the question as to whether or not God had called him to the sacred office. This fact, of course, led him to take a great interest in the subject of education. There were no schools at that time where a young man could even begin a course of study for the ministry. He felt the embarrassment of the situation. He had at last found one young man who had decided to study for the ministry, but there was no school in Cedar Rapids where he could make a beginning of the study of Latin or Greek or any of the higher branches of study. At last he decided to undertake himself the task of preparing that young man for college. In a short time, a dozen or fifteen more, hearing of this arrangement, begged the privilege of joining that lone student in studying under Mr. Jones, and before he was aware of it, he found himself at the head of a school for young men. This was in the autumn of 1851. He had erected for himself, meantime, a house of the same material of the old church, cement. It still stands on the hill north of the Milwaukee depot. The parlor of that house was at that time unfinished. It was lathed but not plastered. Mr. Jones said to the young men, if they would get one coat of plastering put onto that room, and put in some temporary seats made of slabs, they could have the use of it for a school room. The offer was promptly accepted, and, in due time, the school began in good earnest. One of the number would act as monitor in the school-room for a week, and then another, until the honor had been enjoyed by all. Mr. and Mrs. Jones were the first professors of the institution, coming in at regular hours to hear recitations. The branches of study pursued in the new academy were reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, algebra, grammar, Latin and Greek. Due attention was also given to composition, declamation, and vocal music. For six months that school continued in perfect harmony and marked success. The term closed sometime in June, I think 1852, with public exercises appropriate to the occasion. The place of meeting was in a grove immediately in front of the school-room. The order of exercises, as nearly as I can remember, consisted in singing and prayer of course, recitations, reading of essays, and declamations. Everything passed off pleasantly and satisfactorily, and I believe the school was pronounced a success. This effort convinced Mr. Jones more than ever of the need of a permanent school of a higher order. He therefore wrote on to Knox college, I think to Professor Blanchard, to see if one of the graduates could not come and take charge of the school. The result was that Mr. David Blakely, then a recent graduate of Knox college, came in the fall of 1852 and opened the school in the church. The school then assumed the name of the Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute. Mr. Blakely held the position of principal of that school for two years, and then resigned his position to enter the active work of the gospel ministry, in which he is still engaged. During all this time the school was kept up with unabated interest, many students coming in from the country round about, and several from remote parts of the state. At least three of the members of that school entered the ministry, and are still engaged in the active duties of the sacred calling: one. Rev. Hiram Hill, in California; another, Rev. William Campbell, in Kansas; and the third in this state. It was during the spring of 1853, I think, that Mr. Jones was sent as a commissioner to the General Assembly (N. S.) which met in Buffalo, N. Y. During his absence the school at home occupied his thoughts and called out all the energies of his ardent nature. He determined if possible to secure aid in the east by which to place the school upon a permanent basis, having for its chief end the education of indigent young men for the gospel ministry. He was not disappointed in his purpose. Guided no doubt by an all-wise Providence, he met Mr. Daniel Coe, who listened to his earnest appeal, and gave him the money with which the eighty acres of ground, where the college now stands, and these two lots now occupied by this church and chapel, and a lot now occupied by the M. E. church, were secured, Dr. J. F. Ely making the purchase. You will see then, that out of the little school, started in the first pastor's house, has grown Coe college, and Rev. Williston Jones was its founder."

W. F. KING, LL. D. Long President Cornell College W. F. KING, LL. D.
Long President Cornell College

[Pg 217]

It can thus be easily seen that the yearning of Mr. Jones to see a school provided in Cedar Rapids was a fire in his bones. And so, when in the providence of God, he was in attendance at a meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church (New School) which was held in May, 1853, in the city of Buffalo, N. Y., he sought to interest everyone whom he met in the cause of Christian education in the west. At that same session of the General Assembly was a minister of the Presbyterian church from the Catskill mountain region of New York state. He said to Mr. Jones, in substance. "I cannot help you myself, but I believe I know a man in my section of the country who can and will, and if you come home with me to Durham, Greene county, New York, I will introduce you to him." The man alluded to was Mr. Daniel Coe, an elder of the church, already deeply interested in the cause of Christian education and preparing to help according to his ability when the suitable opportunity was afforded.

Mr. Jones went to Durham and met Mr. Coe, and presenting to him the matter nearest to his heart, the founding of a school of christian learning in the new world beyond the Mississippi. Mr. Coe gladly consented to assist in the enterprise. The sum promised, $1,500, would be considered in these days a very meagre one, but in 1853, and in Iowa, it must have seemed like $15,000 or more would seem now to us, and Mr. Jones must have welcomed the proffered aid with delight.

When he returned to his home in Cedar Rapids and to his brethren of the Presbytery of Iowa City, of which he was a member, he made such encouraging statements concerning the treatment he had received at the General Assembly, and especially concerning the offer of Mr. Coe, that there was formed in Cedar Rapids a corporation by the name of the Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute, which prepared articles and filed them for record August 9, 1853. All persons owning one share of stock each in the Institute became thereby members of the corporation, each share of stock being of the value of $25.00. Article twelve of the fourteen articles of corporation reads as follows:

"The Iowa City Presbytery in consideration of five scholarships for the first five years, and of ten scholarships thereafter, shall have the right to nominate all teachers of the Institute, subject, however, to confirmation by the Board of Directors, but this right shall be forfeited if said consideration should at any time fail."

There is no reason to suppose from the records that this consideration was ever fulfilled.

Article thirteen gives the names of the directors: Williston Jones, John F. Ely, W. W. Smith, Seymour D. Carpenter, Addison Daniels, Isaac Cook, William Greene, John L. Shearer, and Aaron Van Dorn; and the following persons as officers of the board: George Greene, president; Samson C. Bever, treasurer; David Blakely, secretary.

It is very interesting to note that of these persons there is one who survives to this day, Mr. W. W. Smith, who at a very advanced age still lives at Minneapolis.

[Pg 218]

The first meeting of this board of directors was held July 18, 1853, and it was at that meeting that Mr. Jones presented the instrument of writing signed by Daniel Coe, of the county of Greene, in the state of New York, making a conditional donation to the Institute of the sum of $1,500, of which the following is a copy:


"Know all men by these presents that I, Daniel Coe, of the town of Durham, County of Greene, and State of New York, in view of the educational wants of the great and growing West, and in expectation of its resulting in the establishment of a permanent institution of learning, do hereby engage to give in behalf of Iowa City Presbytery, connected with the constitutional General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church which met at Buffalo, May 19th, 1853, to Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute the following sums for the object hereinafter specified, to-wit: Four Hundred and twenty-five Dollars ($425.00) for the purchase of as large and suitable tract of land as practicable as a site for the location of the institute. And Seventy-five Dollars ($75.00) for fencing of the same. Also One Thousand Dollars ($1000.00) to be appropriated in the best manner for a farm contiguous to the site, the avails of which are to be appropriated to the best advantage for the benefit of such students as may need to assist themselves by manual labor. Of these two sums the first mentioned, consisting of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), can be secured to the Institute as a part of its property by the erection upon its site thus purchased of a building costing at least Two Thousand Dollars ($2000.00), and the last mentioned One Thousand Dollars ($1000.00) can be thus secured by bringing the Institute into successful operation. Provided that if these conditions fail, or if the Institute be removed or diverted from its original design, either or both of these donations shall be forfeited, and the land purchased shall revert back to the said Daniel Coe, his heirs, executors, or administrators.

"Dr. John F. Ely, Hon. George Greene, Dr. S. D. Carpenter, Isaac Cook, Esq., James Ferguson, and Williston Jones are hereby authorized to act for me in the selection and purchasing for said Institute the above mentioned site and farm, and are to draw on me for the money; of which sum Seven Hundred Dollars ($700.00) can be drawn at any time, and the remaining Eight Hundred Dollars ($800.00) one year from the date of this engagement.

"It is my strong desire that this Institute should be made available for the education of females as well as males."

It is evidently to be seen that it was the purpose of Mr. Coe to enable the directors of the Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute to maintain a school of learning to be conducted in a building within easy access to the town, and at the same time aid such students as needed assistance through the products of the farm purchased on the edge of the town. Steps were taken at once to procure two sites, one for the school building, the other for the farm. And after considerable inquiry and debate, two sites were chosen and purchased: the one for the school building consisting of the two lots on which the First Presbyterian church of this city now stands and has stood since 1869; the other for the farm, consisting of a plot of eighty acres, of which the present campus of Coe College of ten acres, is the southwestern extremity.

The town lots were purchased for $275.00. The eighty acres were bought for $1000.00. These eighty acres were obtained from Mr. Otho S. Bowling by Dr. John F. Ely, who bought them with Mr. Coe's money for the Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute. The date of the purchase is December 5, 1853. Mr. Bowling had obtained the land at the price of $820.00 from the executors of the estate of Mr. Joshua Phillips, of Franklin county, Pennsylvania. Mr. Phillips had died[Pg 219] at his residence in Pennsylvania at some time between the 15th of December, 1852, and the 4th of January, 1853, and he had himself obtained the property in Cedar Rapids by patent from the United States government May 1, 1848. So that the plot of ground which figures in such a vital manner in the history of Coe College had passed through but two hands before being transferred to the Collegiate Institute from the government which had obtained it from the Indians.

It has also appeared that it was the wish of Mr. Coe and the design of the directors of the school that the building to cost $2000.00 should be erected as soon as practicable upon the town lots. But the erection of this building was delayed for various causes and especially in consequence of the lack of funds. Meanwhile, a school of very elementary character was maintained in the building used as their house of worship by the First Presbyterian church, and Mr. David Blakely was obtained as principal at a salary of $400.00 per annum, payable quarterly.

As time went on it was found to be more difficult than seemed probable in the beginning, to obtain subscriptions for the erection of the building of a school of just the character that seemed within the feeble means of the directors. And it became even more difficult, if not impossible, to maintain the school in the building occupied by the Presbyterian church. For it would appear that this community of Cedar Rapids was in process of organizing a general public school system, and no place seemed to exist for a parochial school of the elementary character that was then being conducted by the Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute, at least in so small a community and one so feebly provided with material funds.

Therefore, through the want of proper sustenance, everyone connected with the Institute and notably the principal upon whom the chief burden fell became wholly discouraged and the Presbytery of Iowa City, that had a certain relationship to the school and interest in its success, proposed to put the school on wheels and offer it to the highest bidder, naming several localities among which were: Vinton, Waterloo, Lyons, Cedar Falls, Newton, and Iowa City.[M]

It will surely be of interest to learn [See Minutes Iowa City Presbytery, Mt. Vernon, February 4, 1857] that the citizens and proprietors of Comanche offered a site and subscriptions to the amount of $10,000, or $200.00 more than any other town, for the location of the Collegiate Institute of the Presbytery. Vinton also made a strong bid for the school and hoped to capture it, and might have done so had it not been that the eighty acre plot of ground, which was the only financial asset of the institution, was securely fastened down in Cedar Rapids, and Mr. Coe hesitated as to the propositions for the removal of the school.

But these internal and external discussions acted in a very unfavorable manner upon the Institute, and led to the winding up of its affairs, for there is no record of any meeting of its board of directors subsequent to July 26, 1859.

Meanwhile, a new star of hope arose in the heavens, and for several years at least it was a star of considerable brilliancy. It was made known, namely, that the will of Mr. Lewis Baldwin Parsons, a benefactor and philanthropist, and who died in Detroit, Michigan, December 21, 1855, after a successful life as a manufacturer in Buffalo, N. Y., contained a bequest setting aside a very considerable amount of money to found a Presbyterian college in Iowa. It could not be a matter of surprise, therefore, that the brethren in Cedar Rapids, who had struggled so hard to found a college with Mr. Coe's donation, and who had been so sorely disappointed, should now with enthusiasm welcome the thought that the Parsons legacy might be located here and be added to the Coe donation, and thus become the foundation of a strong college in Iowa in connection with the Presbyterian church. Accordingly, steps were taken to incorporate a new body of stockholders into an organization to be known as Parsons Seminary. The date[Pg 220] of the first meeting with this end in view is November 10, 1866, and the following persons were chosen to serve as officers until the annual meeting in December: Rev. James Knox, president; Hon. George Greene, vice-president; Dr. John F. Ely, secretary; and Mr. S. C. Bever, treasurer.

At the annual meeting, December 3, 1866, the following officers were chosen: George Greene, president; James Knox, vice-president; John F. Ely, secretary; W. W. Walker, treasurer.

It was resolved immediately that Mr. Coe should be requested to deed to the new organization the eighty acres of land already donated by him to the Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute, and at a meeting of the board of trustees of Parsons Seminary, held January 4, 1867, Judge Greene, president of the board, reported that he had visited Mr. Daniel Coe at his home in Durham, N. Y., and had procured from him the deed to Parsons Seminary of the land in question.

This most generous act of Mr. Coe reveals the large and unselfish character of the man and declares the nobility of his motive to promote the cause of high christian education in the west.

This act of Mr. Coe also gave great encouragement to the board of trustees of the seminary to proceed in their work, and they proceeded vigorously to raise what must in those days have been a considerable sum of money, for the purpose of erecting a suitable building for college purposes upon the edge of the eighty acre plot nearest to the town. The two town lots which had originally been purchased for the location of the school building were sold to the trustees of the First Presbyterian church, to become the site of a house of worship, which building was erected by them in 1869, and still stands a substantial edifice of stone, facing the public square long known as Washington Park, now George Greene Square.

The ways and means and plans for this new building occupied the attention of the board for many meetings during the years 1867 and 1868, and the work was pushed with all vigor to enable the trustees to open their seminary in the new building in the fall of 1868.

Meanwhile, the school work was inaugurated, pending the erection of the building on the college grounds, in the Wadsworth block, a row of unpretentious buildings resembling a barracks, on Second street and Fifth avenue, in the school year 1867-8. The principal of this school was the Rev. A. B. Goodale, a Presbyterian clergyman who survived in southern California until a few years ago.

Mr. Charles J. Deacon, our highly esteemed and greatly respected fellow citizen, who has spent a long and useful life among us, as an attorney, and who has been for several years a most valuable trustee of Coe College, was one of the first students of Parsons Seminary, and he has furnished us the following reminiscences which we gladly incorporate in this historical sketch:

"I came to Cedar Rapids and enrolled as a student in Parsons Seminary early in September, 1868. The school had been in progress under that name for a year previous, but then for the first time entered into the new building, now the west half of the main building of Coe college. This school was then prosperous and the body of students very enthusiastic. Dr. A. B. Goodale was the principal and Prof. Augustus Maasburg was the professor of Latin, Greek, French, and German. Miss A. D. Kelsey, a graduate of Mt. Holyoke, and a most estimable lady, had charge of the primary department, and also taught many of the classes in mathematics, and had charge of the botany class. Miss Lindsay, a sister of Mrs. Goodale, taught painting and drawing. A few weeks after the school opened, Professor and Madame Masurier came, and Professor Masurier took charge of the music, and Mme. Masurier was given the care of the French class. I remember also that Miss Addie Goodell, now Mrs. Birdsall, of Lake City, Iowa, was a student in the seminary, and it became necessary to have an assistant in the primary department, and she was employed in that capacity.



[Pg 221]

"At the beginning of the year 1868-1869 the school numbered over one hundred students. They were, of course, largely from the city of Cedar Rapids, but they came also from the surrounding towns of Fairfax, Springville, Center Point, Central City, and some from the farms within a few miles of the city. They came also from Vinton and Marengo, and some from more distant portions of the state, and I remember two from the state of Illinois, and one from Nebraska.

"The school year was divided into four terms of ten weeks each, the tuition being $7.50 per term. I remember there was some falling off in the attendance at the close of the second term in mid-winter. In the spring we were told that Dr. Goodale would have an assistant in the person of Mr. J. W. Stephens. When he came he was introduced to us by Dr. Goodale as his assistant, but it soon developed that he was the principal of the seminary, Doctor Goodale having about that time accepted the pastorate of the Presbyterian church at Marshalltown. The attendance at the spring term under the conduct of Dr. Stephens was much smaller than in the fall, but the school continued until the 20th of June, when it closed for the summer vacation. It issued a catalogue as it had the previous year and announced the opening for the following September.

"I returned to the school in the fall when it opened for the third year, being the second year in the new building, and found many of the old students. The school, however, was much smaller than at the opening of the previous year. It also dwindled very much during the year, and when we closed in June, 1870, my recollection is that it numbered about forty students. Mr. Stephens announced that it would be continued, however, and the school opened again in the September following. I did not return to the school, but went to the State University of Iowa. Mr. Stephens continued the school until the following spring, and then closed it. [We understand that Mr. Stephens is still living in connection with Park College, Mo.]

"One thing that is quite clearly impressed upon my memory is the meeting of the Synod of Iowa, North, in this city in the late winter or early spring of 1869. The application of the Parsons legacy and the endowment of the college was then a very prominent question in Presbyterian circles. Cedar Rapids was a most prominent applicant for the location of the college to be thus endowed, and the seminary had been named Parsons Seminary with a view to attracting that legacy here. A large representation of the synod visited the college at the time I speak of and addressed the students. Amongst others, I remember Doctor Spees, then of Dubuque; the Rev. Samuel Howe, and Mr. Alexander Danskin, of Marengo. They said to us that we were now a college, that whereas yesterday we were a seminary, today we were a college. There was much enthusiasm manifested among us by this statement, and we all felt satisfied that the matter had been practically settled. Subsequent facts proved that their statement was a little premature.

"Another thing that comes to my recollection is the visit of the committee to locate the Parsons legacy in the spring of 1870. This committee was headed by Doctor Craig, then pastor of the church at Keokuk, now of McCormick Seminary, Chicago. The committee made a very thorough examination of the buildings and of the grounds and of the location generally. I distinctly recall their walking over the grounds. The trustees of the seminary, being informed in advance of the coming of this committee, were preparing to create a good impression. A few days before their expected arrival, the ground, which had been leveled off in front of the college, and which consisted of coarse sand, was ornamented by some fifty or sixty evergreen trees, and a large amount of black dirt was hauled in upon the sand with the expectation of spreading it over the sand to present a surface of good soil with a large number of evergreen trees set out in an ornamental[Pg 222] order. Unfortunately, however, the committee arrived earlier than was anticipated and the black dirt had not been spread over the sand. To render the situation still worse, a high wind was blowing the day the committee were here and the sand was drifting over the dirt piles and filling up against the lower board of the fence. What the effect of this was upon the committee I have no means of judging. It is, however, interesting to notice that the Parsons legacy never came to Cedar Rapids.

"I could mention many names of Cedar Rapids citizens who as boys attended school at Parsons Seminary during those early years. Mr. C. C. Greene, Mr. John S. Ely, Mr. George B. Douglas, were all there with me. Mr. George W. Winn, also a trustee, used to go there for private lessons in German from Professor Maasburg. Mr. C. L. Miller, of the Gazette, Emery and Harry Brown, and Elmer Higley are names that also occur to me readily. I could mention, likewise, many ladies who studied there in those early years. The Rev. Alexander Danskin, editor of one of our church papers at Detroit, Michigan, was a student there at that time, afterwards graduating from Wabash College; also the Rev. R. M. L. Braden, who likewise went to Wabash College.

"These are a few of the things that come to my mind as I review my two years in Parsons Seminary."

It can easily be read between the lines of Mr. Deacon's reminiscences that Parsons Seminary, however enthusiastic its support was at the beginning, did not continue by any means to be an entire success. We must look for the explanation of this very largely to its lack of financial resources. It was living largely on hopes, and hopes that were not destined to be realized. Mr. Coe's donation, lying in the eighty acres of land, was utterly unproductive of a revenue, and the Parsons legacy, which consisted of four thousand acres of wild lands in various counties in Iowa, had not yet been located in Cedar Rapids, but was hovering in the air as a glittering object which several localities in the state were reaching out to obtain.

It would be an interesting and instructive pursuit to trace the history of this legacy both within the Presbyterian synod of Iowa and within the various cities of the state which made bids for its attainment. The story, as far as Cedar Rapids is concerned, is one of bright hopes, earnest aspiration, valiant endeavor and achievement, to be followed by severe disappointment and bitter regret. The citizens of this city went heroically to work to raise the sum of $75,000 to be subscribed and added to the Parsons legacy [then estimated to be of the value of $50,000], and this again to be added to the Coe donation of eighty acres of land, which were continually increasing in value through the growth of the city of Cedar Rapids. These three sums, when added together, would furnish, it was intelligently felt, a very substantial endowment as the beginning of a college. We have often been told that when this campaign for the raising of the $75,000 had been successfully completed, there was such a general jubilee in our city that instinctively in demonstration thereof the whistles of the locomotives and manufacturing establishments were merrily blown. But all these plans went agley. Although committees from the synods of Iowa had presented unanimous reports recommending that the Parsons legacy be located at Cedar Rapids, it was eventually taken to Fairfield to found Parsons College. The fund of $75,000 which was raised in Cedar Rapids fell to the ground because of the failure to meet its vital condition of the bringing of the Parsons legacy here, and so, once more, all that was left for us was Mr. Coe's donation of the eighty acre plot and the indomitable spirit of a few of the citizens of Cedar Rapids to plant in our city an institution of higher learning in connection with the Presbyterian church.

It is idle at this late date to discuss the wisdom or the folly of those men in the synod who were responsible for this result. It were wholly unproductive to[Pg 223] speculate what might have been accomplished by the union of all our educational forces here in Cedar Rapids. What is written is written, what is done is an accomplished fact. Presbyterians are not in the habit of quarreling with Divine Providence, but are the rather given to rejoicing in the sovereignty of God. It is quite conceivable that results already visible can give occasion for gratitude that we have now the two colleges, Coe and Parsons, instead of but one, as was once so ardently hoped for here at Cedar Rapids. If anyone in the years between 1870 and 1873 made an error in judgment in objecting to the merger, the only way to rectify it now is by pressing all the more for the promoting of the endowment and the buildings of both the colleges, the one at Fairfield, and the one at Cedar Rapids.

But the facts are that through the force of circumstances, the school at Cedar Rapids was obliged to suspend its work, and little or nothing was done in the building erected in 1868 from 1871 to 1875. Then for the third time, and under new auspices, was the work begun afresh, and it took place on this wise: On the 26th of April, 1875, the trustees of Parsons Seminary held a meeting, at which meeting a committee of the Presbytery of Cedar Rapids was present for the purpose of consulting with the board to the end that the seminary building and the Coe legacy located at Cedar Rapids might be made available for the establishment of a school of a high order under the care of the said Presbytery. This committee had been appointed by the Presbytery at its session at Anamosa April 24, 1875, and they presented to the board of trustees of Parsons Seminary a formal report in writing, which expressed the readiness of the Presbytery to undertake the care of the school at Cedar Rapids on condition that all its debts be cancelled, and its charter be so amended as to give to the Presbytery the power to appoint its board of trustees. The Presbytery also pledged itself to do all in its power to maintain the school and open it in the school building by the 1st of October, 1875. The board of trustees consented to the proposition of the Presbytery and resolved to change the name of the institution from Parsons Seminary to Coe Collegiate Institute. The articles of incorporation of Parsons Seminary, which had been adopted October 30, 1866, were amended May 11, 1875, to meet the new conditions. The board of trustees was fixed at the number of eighteen, and the power to elect them was vested in the Presbytery of Cedar Rapids, or in the synod of Iowa North, if the said synod shall assume such power with the consent of said Presbytery. The first election was appointed to take place in the fall of the year 1876.

Mr. Daniel Coe had passed from earth in the interval between December 23, 1866, when he deeded the eighty acres of land in Cedar Rapids to Parsons Seminary, and this date in 1875, when these new relations with the seminary were entered into. He left a daughter, an only child, who had become the wife of Mr. J. E. Jewell. This daughter, Mr. Coe's sole heir at law, with her husband, entered in a very friendly manner and measure into the new plans of the institution, and nobly agreed to permit the school to avail itself under certain conditions well understood and agreed to, of the advantages accruing from the revenues of the property.

On the 21st of September, 1875, it was announced at a meeting of the trustees of Coe Collegiate Institute that correspondence had been conducted with the Rev. R. A. Condit with a view to his being made principal of the school. Mr. Condit was then elected to that office. This event marks the entrance into the work of Coe College of a personality of rare value in himself and of rare value to the institution of learning which he served most faithfully for a period of thirty years after his appointment in 1875. Robert Aaron Condit was a man of sweet spirit and gentle demeanor; he was a Christian and a scholar. No one ever doubted his piety or his moral integrity. The students who for a whole generation passed under his care all loved him because he loved them, and was himself so lovable. His influence upon them was mild, but effective, and we venture to say without[Pg 224] fear of contradiction, that all the alumni of Coe College who knew him as their preceptor recognize the fact with gratitude that they are better persons for having known him. In the weak and struggling days of Coe Collegiate Institute before it emerged into its present larger, stronger growth, as Coe College, Robert Condit was a factor peculiarly fitted for the task providentially laid upon him, and his full value to the college can scarcely be over-estimated or even stated sufficiently.

On the 8th of March, 1876, Prof. J. W. McLaury was employed to assist Mr. Condit in the school, his salary being raised by voluntary subscriptions. Mr. McLaury's services, though valuable, were not long retained by the institution.

At the meeting of the board held December 28, 1876, the report of the election of the trustees by the Presbytery October 4, 1876, was made, as directed by the charter. And at the same meeting the following officers of the board were chosen: Hon. George Greene, president; Thomas M. Sinclair, vice president; D. W. C. Rowley, secretary; George W. Winn, treasurer. It was at this meeting that the present writer took his seat with his brethren for the first time as an officially accredited member of the board. And it is a matter of grateful, tender recollection to him, that he has remained to this day in unbroken relation with the institution in all possible varieties of official position and duties upon its manifold committees. And it is a solemn recollection with him that he alone remains on the board of all those who have served with him for thirty-four years.

He can well remember the tone and atmosphere of the meetings of the board, which he was then called upon to attend. It was truly a day of small things. The meetings were frequent and they were often lengthy, and we must truly say they were usually dreary, and we went from them with depressed hearts. For the questions for discussion were mostly, not how to promote high christian learning, but how to pay the debts of Parsons Seminary. And the problem was, how to pay something with nothing. There were notes at two of the leading banks of the city, notes which were increasing fearfully by the compounding of interest at ten per cent, and there were notes held by individuals who had loaned money to the seminary, there were mechanic's liens of sums unpaid in the erection of the building put up in 1867-8, and to meet these obligations there was nothing in sight. For all moneys that found their way into the treasury were needed, and more than needed, to pay current bills to teachers, heating and lighting bills and such minor fees. We remember that our treasurer was once garnisheed by the brother of one of our teachers for the payment of his sister's salary, and some sort of compromise settlement was effected.

We have not a thought or word of disparagement concerning any member of the board at that time. But it would have required men of heroic mold and prophetic vision to face those problems. The president of the board, the Hon. George Greene, a name never to be mentioned in this city without a tribute of respect, was deeply immersed in his own private interests and was compelled to be absent from home a great part of the time. Soon after the date of which we speak, he insisted upon pressing his resignation as president of the board. Other prominent business and professional men on the board were also engrossed in large personal interests. The ministers on the board, however valuable though they may have been for counsel concerning educational questions, were quite helpless in grappling with the financial problems which from necessity were uppermost.

The Rev. James Knox had passed from earth October 10, 1875, after having contributed valuable services to the college during the eleven years of his pastorate in this city. We here insert the following tribute to Mr. Knox, which was presented at a meeting of the board of trustees March 8, 1876, and was adopted, all the members present standing:

"In the providence of God the Rev. James Knox, former vice president of this board, having been removed by death we take this opportunity to record our testimony to his exceeding worth as a man and his wisdom and faithfulness as a minister of the gospel, and to his great devotion and usefulness to this institution, having been connected with it from its earliest days, and having given to it his best strength and ability for many years, and his very latest prayers. We feel that his place cannot easily be filled and that in him the college has lost one of its truest and best friends."


[Pg 225]

There was one notable exception to all these. One personality stands out from the midst of his brethren and to him more than to any other element at this critical period of the history of Coe College do we attribute the fact that we have a college today, and one with such promise and potency. We refer to Mr. Thomas M. Sinclair. Mr. Sinclair had come to Cedar Rapids in 1871 a young man not quite thirty years of age. He was pursuing a large manufacturing business, that of pork packing, with rare energy and intelligence, and with great success. He was making money, and his great desire and single aim was to use this money with a keen sense of responsibility to God and usefulness to his fellow men. He was a man of rare christian character, one among ten thousand. It may truly be said of him that he walked with God. Coming into this young country from the older world, he took a most keenly active interest in all things that pertained to its welfare, and it was a fortunate thing for Coe College that he came to Cedar Rapids at such a time as he did. The cause of christian education was one of his most treasured conceptions of opportunity, and he identified himself with the representative of that cause which he providentially found to his hand in this struggling institution.

Seeing the imperative need of relief from debt which Coe Collegiate Institute manifested, he determined in the nobility of his heart that he would pay out of his own pocket such obligations, principal and interest, as lay against the institution, although they amounted to several thousand dollars. And this he gladly did in all such cases as he could not induce those who owned these obligations to cancel them themselves. And thus it came about one happy day that he could declare the college was actually free from all such incumbrances. Then he and several of his colleagues, inspired with new hope and courage, and determined to launch the institution upon broader and deeper waters, went before the synod of Iowa North, which met at Waterloo, Iowa, in October, 1880, and asked the synod to assume the care and control of the Institute, free from debt, and possessed of a building, and of eighty acres of land in the city of Cedar Rapids. The synod accepted the proposition, and steps were taken at once to frame articles of incorporation of a new organization to be called Coe College. The articles were filed for record on the 16th day of April, 1881. Proper deeds were drawn and filed for record which conveyed to Coe College all the properties owned by Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute, Parsons Seminary, and Coe Collegiate Institute, and thus the line of inheritance and descent was duly established. In these negotiations relating to the transference of the property through the hands of Mr. and Mrs. Jewell, negotiations which required great care in the handling, the valuable services of Mr. A. V. Eastman should be mentioned. Mr. Eastman served the college most valuably for several years at this period as its secretary. He subsequently removed from Cedar Rapids to St. Paul, Minn., and still later to St. Charles, La., where he died most suddenly several years ago.

We have now emerged with our history from the intricacies of a somewhat tortuous channel, and we have passed out from shoals and shallows to enter upon clearer, deeper, broader waters. Henceforth we are to pursue the story of the institution known as Coe College, which, with devious fortunes, but with perceptibly increasing volume, has been filling its place and doing its work under the charter prepared in 1881. Certain changes have been made to this charter,[Pg 226] more or less important, but Coe College is the same institution, conducted by the same incorporation from 1881 to the present time.

The first item which we are called upon to record at this period of the history of our college, is the lamentable death of Mr. Thomas M. Sinclair, which occurred on the 24th day of March, 1881. The circumstances were peculiarly startling. By an accident he fell through an open hatchway in his own packing house and never recovered consciousness, although he continued to breathe for several hours. We can never forget our emotions over this event. It was truly an inscrutable Providence. Mr. Sinclair was at that time a young man, full of vigor and energy. He was a pillar of strength upon whom many leaned. He had done so much to bring the college up to this point of its new beginning that both he and we were looking forward with desire and delight to what might be accomplished through his co-operation. But it was willed otherwise. We cannot interpret the event, but may we not even now at this comparatively far removed time from its occurrence use it in memory of him for the greater glory of God and increase of the college. "He being dead, yet speaketh."

Dr. Stephen Phelps, then the pastor of the Presbyterian church at Vinton, had been very prominently connected with the college ever since its reconstruction as Coe Collegiate Institute in 1875. And now, when it became Coe College, under the care of the synod, he was invited to become its president. He was by nature and grace a pastor greatly beloved by his people, and very useful in the community at Vinton. It was a great request to make of him to ask him to lay down his pastoral office and undertake the new and untried work of a college president. And this was made especially significant because he was asked to preside not over an institution already well endowed, richly equipped with buildings, and possessed of the prestige of a generation, but over an institution still in the process of formation, without any endowment or equipment or faculty or history. He paused to consider his duty, and decided to come to the college and with the help of God to undertake the task.

He was a man of many gifts; an eloquent preacher and lovable pastor who attracted young people to him, and a man of consecration and singleness of aim. His pure spirit and untiring energy were rewarded with much success in spite of the many difficulties which resulted from the limitations of the new situation. He remained in the presidency of the college six years, when he resigned his office to go back to his loved work in the pastorate, to which he felt called of God. He became the pastor of the Presbyterian church at Council Bluffs, and has subsequently served other churches, until at the present time he is in charge of the church at Bellevue, Nebraska, where he lives enjoying the respect and affection of all who know him. He will ever be cherished as the first president of Coe College.

Another figure that rises very prominently and pleasantly before us, as we go back to this period of our history, is that of the first treasurer of Coe College, Mr. John C. Broeksmit. Mr. Broeksmit became the treasurer of Coe Collegiate Institute in 1878, and passed on into the new administration in 1881, and continued in the exercise of his duties as treasurer until he was made treasurer emeritus in 1903, when Mr. John M. Dinwiddie, our present very efficient treasurer, assumed the duties of the office which Mr. Broeksmit laid down. In the formative period of our college history it was very important that the charge of our slender funds should be placed in hands which were trustworthy, not only because of honesty, but also because of business ability and experience. Mr. Broeksmit possessed ideal qualities for a treasurer. As auditor of the B., C. R. & N. R. R. he was accustomed to the handling and careful accounting of the funds of that corporation, and he brought his knowledge, judgment, and integrity to bear upon the financial affairs of the college. We always felt secure in placing these affairs in his hands, and we were not disappointed. Besides his services as[Pg 227] treasurer, he also rendered valuable services as a trustee, always faithful in attendance, and giving his full and entire interest to the matters in hand; wise in counsel, kind and genial in manner, and friendly in attitude, he was a peculiarly attractive co-laborer. He should be written down as one who loved his fellow men. His decease in March, 1907, at the age of 82, was universally lamented.

We note the fact that Williston Hall was completed as a boarding hall and dormitory for young ladies in 1881-1882, and the college building, which had been occupied more or less since September, 1868, for school room purposes, was enlarged in 1884 by an addition which simply duplicated the original building.

In 1882 the Rev. E. H. Avery, D. D., who had succeeded Dr. Phelps in the pastoral charge at Vinton when Dr. Phelps came to Cedar Rapids to be president of Coe College, came into the board of trustees, and was elected president of the board. He remained in this office until 1899, when he removed to California where he subsequently died. Dr. Avery's long administration of seventeen years was marked by his qualities of cool, calm judgment, enlightened understanding, and zealous attention to educational interests. He was punctual in attendance at the many meetings of the board, and of the executive committee, coming down from Vinton many times at much sacrifice of personal comfort and the laying aside of his pastoral work, and during that long and eventful period, marked by so many changes from 1882-1899, it was fortunate that we had so wise and safe a president of our board as Eugene H. Avery.

On the 13th of May, 1887, the Rev. James Marshall, D. D., was elected president of the College to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Dr. Phelps. Dr. Marshall was an alumnus of Yale University and had spent several years in New York City in city missionary work. He entered upon the duties of his office in September, 1887. He brought with him to these duties a mind matured and well rounded, a culture produced by wide reading and considerable foreign travel and residence, and an intelligent appreciation of college work. He had a strong sense of the value of discipline in college life. He was much assisted by his cultured wife, whose attractive personality won for her a valued place in the hearts of the students. Mrs. Marshall died in Cedar Rapids after a brief illness in November, 1892, leaving her husband sadly alone, for there were no children in the household. Dr. Marshall labored on bravely in his work until September, 1896, when, just at the opening of the college year, he was stricken down with pneumonia, and his death occurred after a few days amidst circumstances of peculiar solitude. His funeral services were conducted at the First Presbyterian church of this city, September 13, 1896, and the address on that occasion was given by Dr. J. Milton Greene, then of Ft. Dodge, Iowa, now of Havana, Cuba, and a life long friend of the deceased. Dr. Marshall is the only one of the presidents of our college who has departed this life, and he died literally in the harness. In summing up his life and work we avail ourselves of the words which it was our privilege to report to the board at their meeting October 13, 1896:

"He was a man of power, the power that is born of the possession of a high ideal and consecrated purpose and unusual faculty to organize, and an unflagging zeal to execute and perform. He never spared himself. He forgot himself, but he never forgot the college. His works do follow him. These works which remain with us are the strong and united faculty which he organized, and which he inspired with his own high ideals, the noble standard of scholarship to which he elevated the curriculum, the beautiful campus, which is a wonder of improvement when we contrast it with what it was when his hands first touched it, and the example of industry and energy which his life has furnished. It seems pathetic that he should have passed away without seeing the fulfillment of the hopes he so dearly cherished, and the plans be so wisely formulated. But it is a common thing in this world that one should sow and another reap. One conceives the[Pg 228] building of the house, but leaves it to another to build it. Yet no one ever thinks that the former lives in vain."

The college pursued its work in the year 1896-7 without a president, and it is a happiness to note the fact that owing to the harmonious cooperation of a devoted faculty and a sympathetic body of students, the year passed with much smoothness and prosperity.

On the 5th of August, 1897, the Rev. Samuel B. McCormick, D. D., was called to the presidency of the college from the pastoral charge of the Presbyterian church of Omaha, Neb. He entered upon the duties of his office with the opening of the college year 1897. He soon made it manifest that a man of great vigor was directing its affairs. He went at his work with a spirit almost fierce, and he kept at it with a persistency that compelled things to come his way. His energy was contagious, and his colleagues in the faculty and on the board of trustees felt it from the day he came among us until the day he left. The pace he kept was not always pleasurable, but it was always fruitful. It was during the seven years of his administration that great growth of the college was experienced in the size of the faculty, the number of the student body and increase of college buildings. The financial campaign that was undertaken to secure the $25,000 promised by Mr. Ralph Vorhees, of New Jersey, on condition of our raising $125,000 additional, was successfully conducted when Dr. McCormick was president. It was he who brought to Coe College the Rev. H. H. Maynard as field secretary, and the two men worked together with congenial vehemence and brought things to pass. Among the things which were brought to pass was the present college gymnasium a very useful and attractive asset.

In the summer of 1904 Doctor McCormick was invited back to his old home in western Pennsylvania to become the chancellor of the Western University of Pennsylvania, located at Pittsburg, and which is now called the University of Pittsburg. This invitation was attractive to him chiefly because it seemed evidently to offer him unusual opportunity of enlarged usefulness in the educational field to which he had devoted his life. Yet it plainly caused him a struggle to sever his connection with Coe College, and with Cedar Rapids as a city. For in the seven years of his life here, he had become strongly attached to his friends and to the community which were strongly attached to him. He also left this portion of our country, the Mississippi Valley which was to his mind so full of hope and promise, with great reluctance. Yet it was clear to him that he ought to go, and we parted from him with much regret September 15, 1904.

Marshall Hall and the Athletic Field House were erected in the summer of 1900, the latter the gift of Mr. C. B. Soutter. The College Gymnasium was completed in 1904.

During the year following the departure of Doctor McCormick the duties of the presidency were discharged by Dr. Stephen W. Stookey. Dr. Stookey was an alumnus of Coe of the class of 1884, the first class to be graduated after Coe became a college. He was always from the beginning greatly attached to the college, and after teaching a while in the schools of Manchester, Iowa, he returned to his alma mater in 1892 to become professor of the natural sciences. From that time onward he filled a place of very distinguished usefulness in the institution, commanding the high respect of his fellow workers in the faculty, the student body, and the board of trustees, until 1908 when he left Coe to assume the office of the presidency of Bellevue College, Nebraska, a position which he still occupies very much to the benefit of that school of learning.


Now Used as a Store and Post Office

At this point of our story we note the fact that at the October meeting of the board of trustees in 1899, Mr. C. B. Soutter was made the president of the board. Mr. Soutter had been a resident of Cedar Rapids since 1881 when he came from New York city to fill the very responsible place in the business house of T. M.[Pg 229] Sinclair & Company made vacant by the death of Mr. Sinclair. The duties of the management of the large packing house were very onerous and responsible, yet Mr. Soutter was able, besides fulfilling them, to give much of his valuable time to his duties as a trustee of the college, to which he was called in 1883. He had already, therefore, for many years, shown marked interest in college work and adaptation for it by taste and culture when in 1899 he was felt to be the logical successor to Dr. Avery in the presidency. He entered at once with zeal and intelligence upon his new and enlarged duties. He was unintermitting in his attention to them until he resigned his office in October, 1907, and, greatly to the regret of his brethren, withdrew from the board of trustees.

On the 23rd of December, 1904, Dr. William Wilberforce Smith was chosen president of the college to succeed Doctor McCormick. Doctor Smith was not a clergyman as his predecessors had been and as hitherto has been usual with American colleges in their selection of a president. He had studied at Princeton Theological Seminary, and had been graduated therefrom, but he had never been ordained to the ministry. He had followed the vocation of a teacher, and was called to the presidency of Coe from the Berkely School in New York city, a school of high grade for boys. He entered upon his duties as president of Coe College at the opening of the college year 1905, and remained with the college for three years. He is now occupying the very honorable position of head of the School of Commerce and Finance in the James Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois.

His administration was marked by three notable events, all of which indicate stages of great progress in the history of the college: First, the successful launching of the plans to put the college on the list of the accepted colleges of the Carnegie foundation for the advancement of teaching. This took place near the close of the year 1908. Second, the attainment of the Science Hall, given by Mr. Carnegie at the cost to him of $63,500 upon the condition that the college raise $45,000 for its maintenance. Third, the successful completion of a financial campaign whereby a conditional grant of $50,000 was obtained from the General Board of Education [John D. Rockefeller Foundation] on the condition that the college pay all its debts and raise in various funds the sum of $200,000 additional for endowment and buildings. This campaign increased the assets of the college by $293,000.

It was during this campaign that the services of the Rev. Dr. H. H. Maynard, field secretary of the college, were so peculiarly strenuous and so uniquely valuable. Dr. Maynard merits most honorable mention for his bold conceptions and his heroic execution of them, wherein the word "fail" was expunged from his dictionary. Dr. Maynard left Coe College in the summer of 1908 and has become the vice president and field secretary of the University of Omaha, Nebraska.

In the year 1908-9 which followed the resignation of Dr. Smith, the college was governed by a commission of four members of the faculty, who distributed among themselves the duties of administration. The result was a smooth and prosperous year, although at the end of it all parties concerned were looking very wishfully towards a filling of the vacant office of the presidency. At length, on the 7th of September, 1909, Rev. Dr. John Abner Marquis, pastor of the Presbyterian church at Beaver, Pa., was chosen to be the head of the college. After due deliberation he decided to accept the call, and on the 12th of October, 1909, he was presented to the students and friends of the college as the president-elect. He returned to Beaver to sever his relations with the church there, with the Presbytery and synod, and he came in December and entered upon his duties. On the 13th of June, 1910, in connection with the exercises of commencement week, Doctor Marquis was formally inaugurated president of Coe College. This was the first time in which formal exercises of this character were observed in connection with setting a president over the institution, and the occasion was greeted accordingly with[Pg 230] peculiar pleasure, and large use was made of it to perfect a relationship which it is believed augurs great things to the advantage of the college. Doctor Marquis has been so short a time in his office that it would be too soon to speak of what he has done, but it is not too soon to say that in the brief period in which he has been president of the college, he has already awakened the fondest hopes and most steadfast convictions that under his administration the institution over which he presides is destined to move forward to a future which will far surpass any measure of size and value that it ever attained in the past.

On the same week in last June in the midst of the commencement season which witnessed the inauguration of Doctor Marquis, ground was broken on the college campus by Mr. Robert S. Sinclair for a chapel in memory of his father, Mr. Thomas M. Sinclair. This memorial chapel was prepared for almost thirty years ago very soon after Mr. Sinclair's death, but the execution of the purpose has been long delayed. But now at last we see our thoughts and wishes about to be realized in the erection of a building which shall from its beauty and the purposes which it is destined to fulfill be a worthy monument to keep in perpetual remembrance a man, who, in his life-time, did so much to make it possible for us to have a college at all.

We have now accomplished the purpose for which we set out. We have, to the best of our ability, traced the history of Coe College from its beginnings to the present time. We have followed the Institution from its fountain head in the heart and home of the Rev. Williston Jones, when a handful of young men gathered in his parlor for such elementary instruction as could be given by the zealous pastor and his wife, down to the present day, when more than three-hundred students, young men and maidens, gather in the halls of buildings erected and equipped for college purposes, and one of these buildings at least prepared and provided along the most progressive modern lines, the equal of any in the land. Today the faculty of thirty-two persons conducts the teaching of a curriculum which embraces every department of learning that is recognized as belonging to a liberal education. And these teachers have been prepared for their work by special training and selection.

The endowment also has grown from the paltry sum of $1,500, furnished in 1853 by Daniel Coe, to the sum of $450,000, and the total amount of money invested in the plant known as Coe College must exceed $750,000, which is surely no mean aggregate.

In the course of our history, we have seen a feeble rivulet sink at least twice in the sands only to reappear with new volume and freshness further down the bed of the stream. And we see it now a river of such dimension that it cannot disappear again. We have seen the work of the heroic men who have nobly spent upon the college in the days when it sorely needed their help. Such men were not wanting in the days of emergency but were sent from God. They could not have known as we now can plainly see what they were doing. They wrought in faith what it is now given us to possess in sight. They sowed in weakness what we now reap in power. Surely the lesson is plain and impressive; surely the teaching of this historical sketch is to the purport that we with our larger resources should enrich the institution which they sustained and promoted in their poverty.

They could not see how much worth their while it was to give and labor for Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute, for Parsons Seminary, for Coe Collegiate Institute, for the institution was then but a tender, feeble shoot, whose future development was an uncertainty. We now can plainly see that it is well worth our while to give and labor for Coe College, for it is now one of the most potent and promising of all the colleges in this Mississippi valley. And every intelligent mind who has any powers of observation and has any experience of college work, knows full well that as colleges grow and prosper they need more financial help. It would[Pg 231] be the extreme of selfishness and folly to take the view that Coe College is now strong enough and rich enough to advance on its present assets to meet its future.

Its needs are greater than ever. But it presents itself not as a beggar or a suppliant, but as a splendid opportunity for investment. It presents itself as the finest possible place to locate something to be spent in buildings, equipment, and endowment whereby in the course of the years, and we may even say the centuries to come, this money can go on yielding the richest conceivable dividends in the preparation for life and leadership of those of our choicest young men and women who shall come hither from near and far to enjoy the privileges of a college education. And thus as we close, our history becomes really an appeal.

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The Old Blair Building

The Kimball building in Cedar Rapids stands on the site of an old landmark—the Blair building. This building, with the land and railroad companies it housed from time to time, was the center of much history in the development of Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. It is difficult for us to realize now what an immense influence these companies in the early days had in the settling up of the central west. A debt of gratitude is due the men who risked their fortunes in this developing work that many of us now are too apt to forget. Had it not been for the railroads these early patriots projected into the unsettled portions of these states the development of the west would have been greatly retarded. Immigration would have been slow, for people are never eager to settle in farming communities where there is lack of transportation facilities to get the produce of the farms to market.

It is felt that a brief account of the influences that went out from this center is entirely appropriate here. In fact it is needed as a part of this history of Linn county. Greatly to our regret the gentleman responsible for the historical data given below wishes his name withheld, but through modesty only. What is here printed was furnished by one who knows whereof he speaks, for as Virgil once wrote, "of it he was a great part."


John I. Blair, of Blairstown, New Jersey, being then the president of several railroad companies having their general offices and official headquarters at Cedar Rapids, erected a building to furnish adequate room for the business of these companies and for the First National Bank of Cedar Rapids, in which he was heavily interested. This building was known as the "Blair Building." In its time it was much the most pretentious structure in the city. It was located at the corner of Eagle and Adams streets—now Third street and Second avenue—was two stories in heighth with a high mansard roof, and set above and back from the street. The plans for this building were made by W. W. Boyington, then the most prominent architect in Chicago. It was what might be termed of the "court house" style, having more the appearance of a public building than one erected for commercial purposes.

On May 23, 1868, Mrs. Mary A. Ely purchased of A. C. Churchill, for Mr. Blair, lots 6, 7, and 8 in block 15, including the brick dwelling house thereon, for the sum of $10,000. Mrs. Ely afterwards conveyed this land to Mr. Blair, who deeded it to himself and Oakes Ames as trustees for the several companies who contributed to the cost of the land and the buildings.

The work of construction began in the autumn of 1868. The building was completed and occupied in the spring or early summer of 1869. The total cost of the land, the new building, and the overhauling of the dwelling house was $54,418, which was paid by the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad Company, The Iowa Rail Road Land Company, the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad Company, the Sioux City and Pacific Railroad Company, and the First National Bank of Cedar Rapids.

JAMES E. HARLAN, LL. D. President Cornell College JAMES E. HARLAN, LL. D.
President Cornell College

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In 1870 the dwelling house and the land lying southwesterly of the wall of the Blair building was sold to John F. Ely for $11,000. In 1884 the First National Bank conveyed its interest to the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad Company, and thereafter, until the liquidation of the bank in 1886, occupied the banking room as a tenant. When the bank had gone out of business, the railroads had been sold and the offices moved away, and the real estate holdings of the companies very largely reduced, the owners having no use for the space for their own purposes, and the building being so constructed as not to be useful for commercial purposes, it was decided to sell the property. It was advertised for sale. A customer not being found at private sale, it was sold at public auction on May 2, 1888, to David P. Kimball, of Boston, Massachusetts, for $25,000.

Mr. Kimball, together with his brother L. C. Kimball, of Boston, J. Van Deventer, then of Clinton but later of Knoxville, Tennessee, J. E. Ainsworth, then of Council Bluffs but later of Williamstown, Vermont, and P. E. Hall and Henry V. Ferguson of Cedar Rapids, organized the Kimball Building Company, to whom the property was conveyed.

During the year 1888 the Kimball Building Company rebuilt the Blair Building, extending its exterior walls out to the street line and added a new portion so as to cover the entire lot, making the building when so completed 76 feet on Second avenue and 140 feet on Third street, four stories high, and thereafter known as the "Kimball Building."

In addition to being the president of all of these railroad companies, Mr. Blair after 1862 gave personal attention to their construction and was in absolute control of their affairs in the west. These railroads came to be called the "Blair Roads," and were so generally spoken of in the public prints. From this people generally came to think that he was nearly the sole owner of all, or at least personally owned a controlling interest in the whole group. This, however, was not the fact. Mr. Blair's individual ownership averaged about one-sixth, about another sixth being owned by his associates in the Lackawana Iron & Coal Company of Pennsylvania, among which were Joseph H. Scranton, of Scranton, Pa.; Moses Taylor, of New York, and William E. Dodge, D. Willis James, and James Stokes, who then comprised the firm of Phelps, Dodge & Company.

The controlling interest was always owned by a group of New England capitalists and their associates, who were at the same time the controlling stockholders in the Chicago, Iowa & Nebraska Railroad Company—the line already constructed from Clinton to Cedar Rapids. Among these latter were Oakes and Oliver Ames, of North Easton, Mass.; John Bertram, of Salem, Mass.; Charles A. Lambard, of Maine and later of New York; William T. Glidden, David P. Kimball, Joseph and Frederic Nickerson, of Boston, and Horace Williams, of Clinton, Iowa.


In May, 1856, congress passed what was then called "The Iowa Land Bill," making grants of land to the state of Iowa to aid in the construction of four lines of railway across the state, one of which was to be from Lyons City, thence "northwesterly to a point of intersection with the main line of the Iowa Central Railroad near Maquoketa, thence on said main line running as near as practicable to the 42nd parallel across the state of Iowa to the Missouri River." The general assembly of the state by an act approved July 14, 1856, granted the land inuring to the state for the construction of this line to the Iowa Central Air Line Railroad Company upon certain conditions contained in said act. That company began the construction of the road in the year 1856, considerable grading was done at different points along the line as far west us Anamosa, but the panic of 1857 coming on the work was stopped and never again resumed by the Iowa Central Air Line Company.

[Pg 234]

It being quite probable that at the next legislative session the state would resume this land grant and forfeit the rights of the Iowa Central Company, and pass the grant over to some other company who would undertake the construction of the road; for the purpose of obtaining this grant, the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad Company was organized on June 14, 1859, by the prominent eastern stockholders in the Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska Railroad, together with John Weare and John P. Ely, of Cedar Rapids, and G. M. Woodbury, of Marshalltown, Iowa.

In March, 1860, the state resumed the land grant from the Iowa Central Company and made it over to the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad. Work was begun on the line west from Cedar Rapids in 1860. The bridge over the Cedar river was built in the winter of 1860-61, and forty miles of track completed to Otter Creek Station (now Chelsea) during the year 1861, and to Marshalltown in December, 1862. Milo Smith, of Clinton, Iowa, was the chief engineer and had charge of the construction of the road until it reached Marshalltown.

In 1861 John I. Blair became largely interested in this enterprise, and thereafter took control of the construction beyond Marshalltown. After 1862 W. W. Walker was chief engineer until the road was finished. Track was laid to State Center in 1863, and on July 4, 1864, to Nevada, and to Boone in December, 1864, but the road was not surfaced up, finished and put in operation from Nevada to Boone until the succeeding year.

In July, 1864, congress made an additional grant of land to the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad, and authorized it to change its line of road so as to connect with the Union Pacific Railroad at Council Bluffs. Work beyond Boone began in December, 1865, the track was laid into Council Bluffs in January, 1867, but regular service between Woodbine and Council Bluffs was not instituted until April of that year.

In July, 1862, the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad was leased in perpetuity to the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad Company, which company then owned the line from Chicago west to the Mississippi River opposite Clinton, Iowa, and operated the Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska Railroad under lease. The lease covered not only the portion of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad then built, but the entire line to the Missouri river when the same should be completed.

On June 2, 1864, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad Company was consolidated with the Chicago and North-Western Railway, and from that time the operation of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad under the lease was by the Chicago and North-Western Railway Company.

L. B. Crocker, of Oswego, N. Y., was the first president of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad, and until 1866. Mr. Crocker during this period was active in the financial affairs of the company, and especially in obtaining the land grant from the state and the supplemental grant direct from the United States. While not a man of large means, he was possessed of great energy and foresight.

John I. Blair was president from 1866 to 1871, when he was succeeded by Horace Williams, who remained the president until the company went out of existence in 1884.

In 1884 the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad was sold to the Chicago and North-Western Railway. It was in fact a consolidation, but for convenience in handling the transaction it was made a sale, the Cedar Rapids Company deeding its railroad and all rights and franchises pertaining thereto to the Chicago and North-Western Railway Company, receiving its pay in the stock of the latter company, which stock was distributed pro rata to the stockholders of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Company, after which the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad Company closed up its affairs and went out of business.

[Pg 235]


An act of congress passed in 1862 authorized and required the Union Pacific Railroad Company to construct a railroad and telegraph line from Sioux City to a connection with the Iowa branch of the Union Pacific Railroad, whenever there should be a line of railroad completed through Minnesota or Iowa to Sioux City, Iowa. On July 2, 1864, the original Union Pacific act was amended, and among other things it was provided that the Union Pacific Railroad was released from the construction of said branch, and such company as should be organized under the laws of Iowa, Minnesota, Dakota or Nebraska, and be by the president of the United States designated and approved for that purpose, was authorized to construct said branch and receive therefor lands and subsidy bonds to the same extent that the Union Pacific Railroad would have done under the act of 1862. It was further provided that if a railroad should not be completed to Sioux City across Iowa or Minnesota within eighteen months after the passage of said act, then the company which should have been so designated might commence, continue and complete the construction of said Sioux City branch.

The Sioux City and Pacific Railroad Company was organized in August, 1864, to construct this branch line and was by the president of the United States designated and approved for that purpose. The corporators and first board of directors were Platt Smith, L. B. Crocker, M. K. Jesup, James F. Wilson, A. W. Hubbard, Charles A. Lambard, Frederick Schuchardt, William B. Allison, and John I. Blair. Soon afterwards the Sioux City and Pacific Company passed under the control of Mr. Blair and his associates in the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad. The necessary money to build and equip the Sioux City and Pacific was principally furnished by them. The general offices of the company were first at Dubuque, but on the passing of the control to the Cedar Rapids people headquarters were moved to Cedar Rapids.

Construction was begun in the spring of 1867. The Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Company built six and a half miles of railroad from Missouri Valley Junction to California Junction, where it connected with the line of the Sioux City and Pacific. These six and a half miles were turned over to the latter company. Track laying began at California Junction in September, 1867. Thirty-six miles were completed by the first day of December, 1867, and the line to Sioux City in February, 1868. Early in 1869 the entire line was completed and in operation between Missouri Valley Junction and Sioux City and to Fremont, Nebraska, where connection was made with the Union Pacific Railroad. The cars were ferried across the Missouri river during the summer months, and crossed on a temporary bridge during the winter months up to the fall of 1883, when the bridge across the river was completed and opened up for business. L. Burnett was the engineer in charge of construction of this railroad and superintendent in its operation until January 1, 1878.

This company received from the United States a grant of land comprising the alternate sections within twenty miles on either side of the line of the railroad. But as nearly all of the government land within these limits had already been disposed of, and where the grant of this company lapped over the grant to the Union Pacific Railroad, each company received half, so this congressional grant only amounted to about 42,500 acres. There was acquired through a consolidation with the Nebraska Air Line Railroad a state land grant of 46,000 acres. The company received from the United States a loan of six per cent bonds to the extent of $16,000 per mile of road constructed between Sioux City and Fremont, and issued its own first mortgage bonds to an equal amount.

This company up to August, 1884, operated its own road and also leased and operated the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley road, as the same was from time to time extended. The earnings of the railroad were never sufficient to pay[Pg 236] the interest on the first mortgage bonds. The avails of the two land grants and the proceeds of the sales of the town lots along the line up to 1875 (when the remaining land assets were sold to the Missouri Valley Land Company) were used to make up the deficiency. After these assets were exhausted the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River, and Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska Railroad companies, through loans and other methods of assistance, made up the deficit until the sale of all of these roads in 1884.

In 1880 the Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska, and the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River companies by purchase from the individual stockholders acquired over ninety per cent of the capital stock of the Sioux City Company. This stock was in the treasury of these railroads at the time of their purchase by the Chicago and North-Western Railway Company in 1884. Through and under that purchase the Chicago and North-Western Railway Company became the controlling owner of the Sioux City and Pacific and moved its general and operating offices away from Cedar Rapids.

John I. Blair was the first president of the Sioux City and Pacific Railroad Company and was succeeded by Horace Williams in 1871. Mr. Williams was president until the fall of 1877, when he resigned and was succeeded by Oliver Ames. Mr. Ames remained president until the control of the railroad passed into the Chicago and North-Western Railway Company.


In the Iowa Land Bill of 1856 a grant was made to aid the construction of a line of railroad from Dubuque to Sioux City on the same terms as fixed for the other three trunk lines across the state, viz: a grant of every odd numbered section within six miles on either side of the railroad, and where such odd numbered sections had already been disposed of by the United States, the railroads were authorized to select an equal number of acres from the odd numbered sections within fifteen miles of the line of the railroad. This grant was given over by the state of Iowa to the Dubuque and Pacific Railroad Company, which company began the work of construction but afterwards failed and was reorganized as the Dubuque and Sioux City Railroad Company. This last named company continued from time to time to extend the line westwardly, so that in 1867 it was completed and in operation to Iowa Falls.

Considerable right-of-way had been acquired between Iowa Falls and Fort Dodge and the grading already commenced when a sale and transfer of the right-of-way, the uncompleted work and the portion of the land grant belonging to the line west of Iowa Falls, was made to John I. Blair and his associates. The Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad Company was organized on October 1, 1867, and on January 7, 1868, by a contract of that date, took over from the Dubuque and Sioux City Company all the right-of-way west of Iowa Falls and the work already done, also the proportion of the land grant inuring to the line west of Iowa Falls and all of the rights and franchises of the Dubuque & Sioux City Company pertaining to that portion of the line.

Prior to this date, viz: on September 13, 1867, the Dubuque and Sioux City Railroad Company leased to the Illinois Central Railroad Company the portion of its road already constructed to Iowa Falls and also the line to be thereafter built from Iowa Falls to Sioux City. This lease was for twenty years or in perpetuity at the option of the Illinois Central Railroad Company. The legislature of the state of Iowa on April 7, 1868, passed an act ratifying the said sale by the Dubuque and Sioux City Company and vesting the land grant in the Iowa Falls Company.



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The work begun by the Dubuque and Sioux City Company was vigorously prosecuted so that the road was completed and in operation to Fort Dodge early in 1869. In the fall of 1870 it was finished through to Sioux City and the entire line turned over to the Illinois Central Railroad Company for operation under the lease. J. E. Ainsworth was superintendent of construction. In the original articles of incorporation the principal place of business of this company was fixed at Dubuque, Iowa, but in October, 1869, the articles were amended and the main office of the company moved to Cedar Rapids. John I. Blair was the first president. He was succeeded in 1871 by Horace Williams, who remained at the head of the affairs of the company until the control of the same passed into the hands of the Illinois Central Railroad.

In March, 1887, the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad Company sold to the Iowa Rail Road Land Company the remaining acres of its land grant and all assets accruing from land transactions. At that time all of the individual stockholders of the railroad company sold their shares to the Illinois Central Railroad Company, who moved the offices of the corporation from Cedar Rapids to Dubuque, and afterwards consolidated the company with the Dubuque and Sioux City Railroad Company.


This company, while a Nebraska corporation, soon after its organization and up to 1884 kept its general offices and accounting department in the Blair building in Cedar Rapids. It was organized at Fremont, Nebraska, in January, 1869, to construct a line of railroad up the Elkhorn Valley, in Nebraska, and obtained a land grant from the state of Nebraska amounting to about 100,000 acres, also some county bonds from Dodge and Cuming counties, Nebraska. In 1869 John I. Blair and his associates in the Sioux City and Pacific, and the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River enterprises obtained control of the company, and undertook the construction of the railroad. Ten miles of track north from Fremont were laid late in the season of 1869. In 1870 the road was finished to West Point, and leased to the Sioux City and Pacific Company, which company from that time on continued to operate (under said lease) the several extensions of the Elkhorn road up to August, 1884. In 1871 the road was extended to Wisner, a distance of fifty-one miles from Fremont, where the terminus remained until 1879, in which year the main line was built to Oakdale, and six miles of track laid on the Creighton branch north from Norfolk. In 1880 the main line was extended from Oakdale to Neligh, and the Creighton branch finished to Plainview. In 1881 the main line was extended to Long Pine, and the Creighton branch finished to Creighton. In 1882 the main line was extended to Thatcher, and in 1883 to Valentine. In August, 1884—at the time of the purchase of the Iowa roads by the Chicago & Northwestern—this last named company acquired all the stock in the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad, and thereafter the work of extension was pushed vigorously.

In the two succeeding years a line was built into the Black Hills country and the main line of the road extended to the eastern boundary of the state of Wyoming. Between 1884 and 1888 several lines of railroad in the south Platte country of Nebraska were constructed by the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Company. L. Burnett, was engineer in charge of location and construction until the road was completed to Wisner. From 1879 to 1889—during which period the main line from Wisner to the west line of the state, the Black Hills branch as far as Whitewood, and the South Platte lines were built—P. E. Hall was superintendent of construction and J. E. Ainsworth chief engineer. John I. Blair was the president from 1869 to 1872, Prince S. Crowell, of East Dennis, Massachusetts, from 1872 to 1876, and James Blair, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, from 1876 to 1883, when he was succeeded by Horace Williams, who remained the president of the company until the control was taken by the Chicago & North-Western Railway Company in 1884.

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The major portion of the land grant to the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad—transferred to The Iowa Rail Road Land Company—was situated north of the main line of the Cedar Rapids & Missouri River Railroad. In 1876 a large portion of several counties was vacant and still the property of the land company, so the stockholders interested in the Cedar Rapids & Missouri River Railroad and The Iowa Rail Road Land Company decided to build branch lines north from the main line to the end that purchasers might be found for the land and thus settle up the country, and furnish business for the main line. The Maple River Railroad Company was organized in that year to build these lines. The money for the building of the same was furnished by the stockholders in the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River, and Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska companies, they taking the stock and bonds of the Maple River Railroad Company issued for construction. The road was leased to the Chicago & North-Western Railway Company in advance of construction. Work was begun in the fall of 1876, and in 1877 the line was completed from Maple River Junction to Mapleton, a distance of about sixty miles.

In 1879 a branch was built from Wall Lake Junction to Sac City. This Sac City branch was extended to Holstein in 1882, and in 1883 to Kingsley. The building of the above lines was under control of P. E. Hall, vice president. J. E. Ainsworth was the chief engineer. In 1884 when the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River, Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska, and Sioux City and Pacific roads were purchased by the Chicago & North-Western, the Maple River Railroad was included in the sale, and from that time on became a part of the Chicago & North-Western Railway, which company has since extended the branch line from Kingsley to Sargeants Bluffs, thus making another through line from the east into Sioux City, and also extended the main line from Mapleton to Onawa.


In 1882 congress granted to the Sioux City & Pacific Railroad Company the right to build a bridge across the Missouri river to connect the Iowa and Nebraska portions of its railway at the point where the line crosses the river between Missouri Valley, Iowa, and Blair, Nebraska. The Sioux City & Pacific Company not being financially able to undertake the work, assigned its rights under said act to the Missouri Valley and Blair Railway & Bridge Company, which company was organized in 1882 for the purpose of building the bridge and its approaches. The capital stock of the bridge company was subscribed for by the several railroad companies whose roads made up the through line from Fremont to Chicago, viz: the Sioux City and Pacific, Cedar Rapids and Missouri River, Chicago, Iowa & Nebraska, and the Chicago & North-Western companies, each taking stock in proportion to its mileage in the through line between Fremont and Chicago. The money for the construction of the bridge was raised principally by the sale of bonds, which bonds were guaranteed—both principal and interest—by the several railroad companies who were stockholders in the bridge company. Work was begun early in the summer of 1882 and the bridge completed and opened for traffic in November, 1883.

When the bridge was opened for business it had cost about $1,300,000, of which $400,000 was for the bridge proper across the channel of the river and the other $900,000 for the approaches and protection work. Several hundred thousand dollars have since been expended in protecting the river banks so as to hold the channel of the river under the bridge. After its completion the bridge was operated by the Sioux City and Pacific Railroad Company under a contract.

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Horace Williams was the president of the bridge company from the date of organization to the time when the control passed to the Chicago & North-Western Railway. P. E. Hall was vice president and in general charge of construction. George S. Morrison was the engineer who made the plans and directed the building of the bridge. When the Chicago & North-Western Railway Company took over the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River and the other roads in 1884, it became the owner of the entire capital stock of the bridge company and moved the accounting offices away from Cedar Rapids.

The total grants of lands to these companies by the United States, the state of Nebraska, and several counties in Iowa, amounted in the aggregate to about one million, nine hundred and ninety thousand acres. As the several railroads were projected it was the policy of the companies to acquire land around the stations and plat and sell town lots. For convenience in distribution of the proceeds to the stockholders, and in handling the real estate, land and town lot companies were organized from time to time to take over and dispose of not only the land grant lands but of the purchased lands and town lots.


This company was organized in 1869 and its capital stock distributed pro rata among the stockholders of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad. The land grant of that railroad company was conveyed to the land company on September 15, 1869. In 1887 the Iowa Rail Road Land Company bought from the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad Company for cash, all of its remaining unsold lands and the bills receivable, and other assets resulting from previous sales.

From time to time thereafter, through consolidation and purchase, all of the remaining real estate and bills receivable of these several land and town lot companies and of the Moingona Coal Company, which were under common control, passed to the ownership of The Iowa Rail Road Land Company.

The Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad was finished in 1867, and the land grant completely earned then. From that time on the officers of the railroad company and of its successor, the land company, for thirty-five years persistently and continuously worked to have this land grant finally adjusted so that the tracts actually granted might be definitely known and the companies receive evidence of title thereto. Their efforts were finally successful in 1902.

John I. Blair was the first president of this company. Horace Williams was president from 1871 to 1872. In 1872 J. Van Deventer, then of Clinton, Iowa, and later of Knoxville, Tennessee, was elected president and remained so until 1889, since which time P. E. Hall has been the president of this company.

Henry V. Ferguson, now vice president of this company, came into the employ of these companies in 1868, and has been continuously in their service since that time. P. E. Hall has been an officer of The Iowa Rail Road Land Company since 1871.


The Blair Town Lot and Land Company was organized in June, 1871, and took over the unsold town lots and purchased lands along the line of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad, and also the avails from previous sales. It was consolidated with The Iowa Rail Road Land Company in 1888.

The Sioux City and Iowa Falls Town Lot and Land Company, organized in 1871 to dispose of the town lots and purchased lands along the Iowa Falls and Sioux City railroad between Iowa Falls and Sioux City, was consolidated with The Iowa Rail Road Land Company in 1888.

[Pg 240]

The Elkhorn Land and Town Lot Company was organized under the laws of the state of Nebraska in February, 1871. There was conveyed to this company the land grant made to the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley road, also the purchased lands and town lots at the several stations between Fremont and Wisner. This company was consolidated with The Iowa Rail Road Land Company in 1899.

The capital stock of these three companies was issued pro rata to the stockholders of the respective railroad companies along the lines of which these town lot companies respectively operated.

The Missouri Valley Land Company was organized in May, 1875, and purchased for cash the remaining unsold portion of the land grant of the Sioux City and Pacific Railroad Company, as well as the unsold town lots and purchased lands belonging to that company. This company was consolidated with The Iowa Rail Road Land Company on May 3, 1901.


When the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad was extended west from Boone there was purchased for account of the stockholders of that company certain timber and coal lands at and near Moingona—where the line of railroad crosses the Des Moines river. The Moingona Coal Company was organized in June, 1866. These coal and timber lands were conveyed to that company, and its shares of capital stock ultimately allotted pro rata to those stockholders in the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad, who had furnished the money for the construction of the line west of Boone—known as the third division of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad. The town of Moingona was platted and put upon the market and coal mines opened at that point, which mines were operated continuously for about twenty years. In 1899 mining operations had ceased and the personal property of the coal company having been closed out, the remaining real estate was turned over to The Iowa Rail Road Land Company.

The aggregate sales up to 1910 made by these railroads, land and town lot companies and this coal company, including land grant lands, purchased lands, and town lots, amount to sixteen million, six hundred and sixteen thousand dollars. The taxes paid by said companies on said real estate while held by them amount to two million, seven hundred and forty-seven thousand dollars.

For many years it has been fashionable for magazine writers and a certain class of politicians to severely criticise and condemn the public men of that day for their action in making land grants to railroad companies. The members of congress have been characterized as imbecile and corrupt, and the recipients of land grants denounced as thieves and robbers. While it is quite probable that in some cases sufficient care was not exercised, and that such grants sometimes have been a little too liberal, looking at the situation as it was in those days and the subsequent results, there can be no doubt whatever that the policy was a sound one and the action of congress in most of the cases exactly right.

A large portion of what is now known as "the middle west" then consisted of vast unbroken stretches of prairie land, impossible of settlement because of the want of timber for fuel and building purposes. This territory could not support a population until transportation facilities were provided for carrying in the necessary lumber, fuel, and supplies, and carrying away the agricultural products as the land should become cultivated. The price of the land at private entry was then $1.25 per acre. The government gave half of the lands within the land grant limits to the railroads and immediately advanced the price on the even sections to $2.50 per acre, not only getting the same amount of money for the same acreage, but making sales of the government land much more rapidly.



[Pg 241]

Soon after the first of these grants was made it became the policy of the government to give away its public lands to actual settlers. Until the railroads were built through these vast bodies of vacant lands it had not been possible for the United States to even give away its lands, but after the construction of such roads the whole of this vast territory was in a few years occupied by actual settlers. This settlement and the growth in population and wealth resulting therefrom have more than any one thing contributed to the present greatness of this United States.

The land grant railroads taken as a whole have not been a source of much profit to the original stock and bond holders. In many cases the companies have been forced into extensive and costly litigation to protect their rights; taxing authorities—both county and state—have regarded these land grant companies as legitimate prey. The fact that these several lines of road were built in advance of settlement and civilization in almost every instance, made the first earnings of the roads insufficient to pay interest on bonds issued for construction, let alone dividends to stockholders, so that quite often a large portion of the avails of the sales of these lands had to be used to pay interest on the bonds.

A majority of the land grant railroads have gone through reorganization and foreclosure, some of them several times. In the cases where there has been a profit to the original investors, it has been no greater than it ought to have been considering the risks run.

[Pg 242]


Some of the Old Cemeteries

The father of Osgood Shepherd, who died in the summer of 1839, was interred at the top of the hill above the tracks on A avenue in Cedar Rapids where the Cedar Rapids Candy Company has erected a building. During the excavation several other graves were found, but it is not known who were buried there.

Another cemetery where a number of old settlers were buried was on Fifth avenue and Eighth street where W. W. Higley later settled; these bodies were removed when Oak Hill Cemetery was laid out. At Linwood burials were made at an early date. One of the first cemeteries was known as Craig's cemetery on section 7 in Franklin township about three miles west of Mt. Vernon. Elias Doty was buried here in 1841 and James Doty in 1847. Members of the Craig family and many others of the first settlers were also buried here. This cemetery is not now kept up and it is not even surrounded by a fence.

Campbell's cemetery was set off by Samuel Campbell, who donated an acre for cemetery purposes. Here Samuel Craig was buried in 1840, members of the Oxley family, the Hunter family, and of the John Paul family, also of the Smith, Berry, Snyder, Blaine, and Darr families, names familiar to all who have a knowledge of early Linn county history.

The Rogers cemetery, laid out by old Dan Rogers, is on the west side of the river near Ivanhoe. Here, also, are buried many of the first settlers who lived on the west side of the river.

A little to the north of Cedar Rapids near the Illinois Central track the relic hunter can find some ruins of what is known as "McCloud's Run." Only a few crumbling ruins remain of what used to be an old mill known to all the old settlers in the county. Through this picturesque valley runs a winding brook known as "Cold Stream," a beautiful rivulet whose clear transparent water plays sonorous music as it runs swiftly over the pebbles as if hastening to join its forces with the Cedar. The surrounding hills have in a good measure been shorn of their beauty by cutting down the timber, and now only the naked clay hills remain, offering a poor pasture for cattle. West of this stream on top of the hill overlooking the city can be found a few broken headstones and some mounds, but no flowers and no evergreens can be seen, not even a fence of any kind, for this little space, like all the surrounding hills, is given up to the pasturing of cattle. There in the vicinity of the city are more than ninety mounds showing that Linn county was from the earliest time a fit abode for man. Who these first settlers were we do not know; they have left us no other relics but these mounds; their funeral pyres and a few carvings indicate that they were Sun and Star worshippers, but whether they belonged to our Indian race has never been ascertained; however, the mound builder serves as a chain in man's existence.

On the top of this hill is located the family cemetery of the McCloud family. John McCloud came here in 1838, and for a number of years was one of the prominent men of this county. From an examination of the small marble slabs thrown about in confusion, scratched by the hand of vandals, are to be found the following inscriptions: "Departed this life June 6, 1846, Hester, consort of John Vardy, age 37 years; in life beloved; in death lamented." "Angelia, died August 30, 1852." "Grant, died March 29, 1852." "Alpheus, died December[Pg 243] 28, 1861." "Eliza Jane, died January 11, 1862." "Ester Ann, died January 11, 1861, 15 years." All were children of John G. and J. McCloud. "John McCloud, died November 10, 1863, age 61 years 7 months and 29 days."

Mrs. John Vardy died in 1846 and was buried in this cemetery. Many of these places are neglected, and weeds grow in profusion and the head stones are marred and weather beaten so that the names, dates and deaths of many pioneer men and women have been effaced. This is the history of many neglected burial places in various parts of this county.

Owners of land on which these small places are located think more of their value for corn lands than they do as places for a cemetery, and in many localities these cemeteries have been changed into pastures and corn fields and not even a headstone can be found to tell where some dear father or mother was buried in the long ago.

The Egyptians, Jews, Greeks, and Romans all protected the burial places of their dead, and after a lapse of 2,000 years we can still go back and find something as to how the dead were cared for, and the very place in which they were buried venerated by succeeding generations, while out here in Iowa after a lapse of only half a century many of these places have been neglected and ignored and now some descendant returning to the home of his fathers may be unable to find any trace of where they were buried. Certainly some protection should be offered by the county or the state so that these sacred places may be preserved and the memory of the old settlers duly honored for what they accomplished during the pioneer days in Linn county.

Spring Grove cemetery, near Palo, is one of the oldest cemeteries west of the river. Many of the early settlers have been interred in this lot.

A few of them are: Dyer and Hiram Usher, Charles Dickey, John Garrison, Peter Davis Burt, Thomas Spencer, George Mathew, J. Z. Drake, Caldwells, the Rawson and Tweed families, F. Klumph, Mrs. Dyer Usher, and many others.

Dyer Usher as well as the other members of the Usher families was always friendly with the Indians and in return shared the good will of the various Indian tribes. In an early day one of the chieftains died and was buried in the cemetery lot of the whites according to the Indian customs. This brave was interred with bows and arrows as well as with the dead carcass of a horse or Indian pony. Here the Indian brave has slept for many moons, ready at the final day to join the good Indians on a fleet charger for the happy hunting ground in the by and by.

In the Wilcox cemetery, near Viola, Edward M. Crow and his two wives, many old pioneers as well as old soldiers are laid to rest.

Shiloh cemetery, in Rapids township, has been the burial place for many years of the old settlers in that part of the township.

Scotch Grove cemetery, near Fairfax, has also been used for many years and here are interred most of the old settlers who died in that part of the county.

The Marion cemetery, the Lisbon cemetery, the Center Point cemetery, where is interred a Revolutionary soldier, as well as the Oak Hill cemetery in Cedar Rapids are all places where a large number of the old settlers have been buried during the past fifty years.

The town cemeteries seem to be kept up while the country cemeteries are neglected.

[Pg 244]


Early Experiences in Stage and Express

One way to learn of the history of a city is by studying its developments and the men who were its leaders in progressive enterprises and in things political. It is another phase of the matter, none the less important, to study the lives of the men who did the persistent everyday work three hundred and sixty-five days in the year and sometimes, it seemed, almost twenty-four hours in a day. Cedar Rapids was fortunate in having a large number of both classes of these pioneers.

Among the latter class who worked steadily and everlastingly from the time Cedar Rapids was a straggling little village to a city of its present size and who aided materially in its upbuilding is W. Fred Reiner, in the early fifties a stage driver out of this city, and for many years after a messenger of the American Express company. It may be safe to assume that Mr. Reiner handled as much money and bullion in pioneer days as did any man in Linn county. His experiences were common to the stage driver and express messenger of the early day. How he overcame one difficulty after another, escaped highwaymen, pulled himself out of mud-holes, etc., as he interestingly relates, is what was the life of the real pioneer of the early fifties and sixties. The events which are most vivid in Mr. Reiner's mind are those which occurred after he became an express messenger for the American Express company.

We are indebted to the Republican for the following interesting account of the experiences of Mr. Reiner in the stage and express business:

It is fifty-three years since Mr. Reiner, at the age of eighteen, left his home in Germany to risk his future in America. Coming west, he settled for one year at Columbus, Ohio, then pushing still farther west, he came to Iowa City in 1854. Here for a little while he did teaming and other work, then began driving stage between Marengo and Iowa City. Soon he was driving for the Western Stage Company. In 1857, while in the employ of his company, he drove the first stage from Calamus, near Dewitt, at that time the terminus of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, to this city. It was while on this route running to Calamus that Mr. Reiner first became acquainted with Conductor Holten, now of Des Moines, and well known all over Iowa as the oldest conductor in the employ of the Chicago and Northwestern.

After working in this capacity for a while Mr. Reiner returned to Cedar county and took up farming. Soon coming back to Iowa City, he went to the stage company's office and was immediately given a stage between that place and Cedar Rapids.

One day while on his route he met at Solon the proprietor of the stage company coming from Iowa City with a four-horse stage. The new stage drew up along where Mr. Reiner was, and the proprietor called, "Fred, I want you and your team." Wondering what was going to happen, Mr. Reiner immediately unhitched his horses, and the driver of the leadhorses on the other stage had also unhitched his. Mr. Reiner's team was put on as the leadhorses, and he was told to get on the stage. While coming on into this city the proprietor informed him that he was to run the new stage from this city to Springville, at that time the end of the Dubuque and Southwestern railroad.



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As the railroad was pushed nearer and nearer Marion, the stage route became shorter and shorter, until it was finally between Cedar Rapids and the county seat. It was while driving between this city and Marion that he began to carry express, and that in an unusual way. One of the express messengers who ran into the county seat and whose home was at that place, had to accompany the express down to this city each night on the stage. There being no return stage until morning, he was compelled to spend the night in Cedar Rapids. He would very often ask Mr. Reiner to take charge of the express at Marion and bring it to this city. The express messenger was Dr. J. M. Ristine of this city, now one of the best known physicians in the state.

One day Supt. Thomas Adams, of the American Express company, was at Marion. He opened a conversation with Mr. Reiner in the course of which he asked him if he would be willing to take a position as express messenger on the western end of the Northwestern, at that time nearing the city of Boone. Mr. Reiner took the matter under advisement, and later accepted the position.

Going to Boone, Mr. Reiner was given the first express route from that city through to Omaha. With the railroad stopping at Boone, and nothing more than a mere trail to follow, with a few stopping places, this route on to the Nebraska city was everything but pleasant. Nevertheless Mr. Reiner took hold of the work, and on November 7, 1865, after forty-eight hours of almost continuous riding, he carried the first express ever hauled by the American Express company into the city of Omaha.

Early in the morning of the last day a stop had been made at Council Bluffs for breakfast, and when Mr. Reiner was ready to continue the regular stage had gone. The local agent hustled around and found a carriage which he turned over to Mr. Reiner, so that the first express which the American Express ever took into Omaha did not go by stage, but by carriage.

There was nothing delicate or easy in the route assigned to the new messenger. He left Boone on Tuesday afternoon. The stage, by changing horses at regular intervals, went steadily on during the afternoon and night, and all the next day and night. Early Thursday morning it would pull into Council Bluffs, where a stop for breakfast was made. The trip was then continued to Omaha, which was reached during the forenoon. Leaving Omaha that same afternoon at four o'clock, the return trip was commenced and kept up until Boone was reached at nine o'clock Saturday morning. As Mr. Reiner had previously driven stage he was nearly always found upon the seat with the driver. Thus he was exposed the same as the driver was. Through all kinds of weather, the blizzards of winter and stifling heat of the summer, these trips were made with greatest regularity. Gradually, however, the railroad was worked farther and farther westward, and the stage driver's route shortened accordingly.

During this period of his life Mr. Reiner had many trying and sometimes exciting experiences. Although he is modest about relating them, those which he told a reporter illustrate what the messengers of that period had to contend with.

"I remember one time," said Mr. Reiner, "it was in the spring of the year and the roads were in terrible condition. From Panora to Boone there was one slough after another. We were driving along one night. I was on the box with the driver, when we came to a wide slough. There were tracks where others had driven through, but of course, we could not go across in the same place for fear of cutting through. But the slough looked all right, so we started in a new place. We had got into the center when suddenly the wheels cut through the sod and the stage sank into the water-soaked ground clear up to the axles. The four horses began floundering around in a most dangerous manner. Both the driver and I jumped from our seats down into the mud and water, and as soon as possible unhitched the horses.

"There we were, stuck in the middle of the slough with nine passengers on the inside of the coach, one of them a woman. They, of course, had been aroused by the disturbance, and now called loudly to know what they should do. There[Pg 246] was but one thing that could be done, and that was to get out and wade to shore. This they did, one of the gentlemen carrying the woman on his shoulders. They were told that if they would follow the road for three miles they could find lodging for the night. A spring snow was on the ground, and the air was cold, but they started on their way. The driver, capturing one of the horses, jumped on it and rode for help.

"I was left there alone. In the stage coach was my express containing some very valuable property which I did not dare to leave under any circumstances. There was but one thing for me to do, and that was to wade back to the stage coach and climb in and stay there until help should arrive. This I did. I wrapped myself in my buffalo robe which was the best I could do, but it was far from comfortable.

"In the morning help came and we were pulled out of the mud hole. A fresh set of horses was hitched to the stage and we were soon at the next stop. Here we met all the passengers. They had had good beds to sleep in and warm breakfasts, so were anxious to be off. I hastily swallowed a cup of coffee, and still in my wet clothes, climbed up on the box seat, and rode all that day and the next night without a rest. This was but one of the experiences which were familiar to stage drivers and express messengers of that time."

Although during his twenty-five years of service for the American Express company Mr. Reiner never lost a penny which had been placed in his charge, it was not because he did not have his opportunities to do so.

"There was one experience," he remarked, "that I remember well, and which came as near being a hold-up as I ever had. It was the same week that an additional express messenger had been put on the route between Boone and Omaha, and our routes had been altered accordingly. The stage left Boone on a Monday afternoon and was in the neighborhood of Denison. It was a bright night and the horses were jogging along at a good gait.

"Suddenly ahead the driver saw two men crouched by the roadside. As we drew near they both sprang out into the road and began firing at us rapidly. One of the first shots struck and killed the rear horse on the left hand side. The other three animals sprang forward with such force that they fairly jerked the harness off from the animal which had been shot. They circled to the right and the wheels of the coach ran over the fallen animal. The animals continued their circling until they completely reversed the coach, then they turned and ran down the road along which we had just come. It was always believed that the highwaymen did not know of this change, and thought the stage carried express as before. But the fact was I had left Boone on Monday instead of Tuesday.

"The driver, according to the story he told me afterwards, was cussed most roundly for not stopping the team, but he insisted that the shooting the robbers had done so frightened the horses that they had become unmanageable. Although the highwaymen were far from satisfied with the explanation they made the best of a bad matter, and began to search the driver to see what they could find. He gave them his pocketbook, which, he said, contained forty dollars. That, by the way, is more money than I ever saw him have at one time, and considerably more than stage drivers usually carried. The hold-up men took the money and gave the pocketbook back to him, as it contained some papers he wished to save and which were of no value to the robbers.

"Soon after this incident, while going over my route one cold night the driver stopped the team and called to me. I sat in a seat on the inside with my revolvers lying beside me. Getting out of the door, the driver told me there was a man crouched down in the road ahead of us. We were out on the prairie some miles from a station. I went forward, with no feeling of pleasure, to investigate. The man came forward also and I recognized him as a fellow who had been lying[Pg 247] around one of the stations for several days. I asked him what he wanted and he replied that he wished to get in and ride for a ways. Although the night was cold I could not let him in for fear that he had companions farther up the road and was only getting inside to get the lay of the land. The express was unusually valuable that night. The fellow ran along behind the coach for some time, but the horses gradually outdistanced him, and that was the last we ever saw of him."

After the completion of the railroad, Mr. Reiner was given a position as express messenger on one of the trains. "Many times," said the veteran express messenger, "I have literally had the car floor paved with gold and silver, over which I walked in doing my work. We had carried lots of gold and silver bars east from Virginia City, in Nevada. In order that, the weight should be evenly distributed the bars were spread like paving bricks all over the car floor. The following description, written by a reporter from one of the Council Bluffs papers while Mr. Reiner was yet at Boone, gives a description of the work of carrying the bullion:

"While viewing the scenes at the transfer yesterday afternoon, we boarded W. F. Reiner's Northwestern express car and beheld a scene that caused our hump of inquisitiveness to jump. Mr. Reiner is a messenger of the American Merchants Union Express company, and will have served in his present position and on his present route seven years in November next. He lives in Boone. On the floor of his car were sixty-seven gold and silver bricks. That is, each brick was composed of gold and silver in compound. In some of them, silver predominated—in value. They resemble silver almost entirely in color. They are of somewhat irregular sizes, though nearly every one of them weighs more than one hundred pounds. Some of them were much more refined than the others. The amount of gold and silver in each one is stamped on the face or top, in different lines, and the total value of the brick is added in a third line. The value of each metal is marked, even to a cent. How those values can be so accurately determined in a compound brick is beyond our knowledge. Fifty-seven of those bricks which we yesterday saw, were worth $101,950.80. The remaining eleven were worth $15,077.57. They were mostly from Virginia City and are being taken to New York. Mr. Reiner informed us also that these bricks are carried only by the Northwestern and Rock Island roads. On some days he has had as many as 160 of them in his car. They are taken east nearly every day."

For ten years Mr. Reiner lived in Boone, then a redivision of the road brought him back to this city. For the next fifteen years he continued to run out of this city and do active service. Thirteen years ago the terrible strain he had undergone in the earlier years of service for the company began to tell upon him and he broke down in health. Then, if a private company ever did a good and wise thing, the American Express company did it. They said they realized the value that Mr. Reiner had been to them when they were getting established in Iowa and running their route through to Omaha, and they would not forget his efficient services now that he was getting old.

[Pg 248]


Linn County Libraries



The Iowa Masonic Library, "unique in idea and unapproachable in scope," is an institution of which Cedar Rapids is proud, and to which the Masons of Iowa point as a satisfactory answer to those who would question the purposes of the fraternity.

As early as 1844 the late T. S. Parvin, grand secretary and librarian of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, A. F. & A. M., from its organization until his death in 1901, began the collection of books which today is world famous. With rare discernment and infinite patience this vast wealth of treasures has been gathered together and placed at the disposal of all students.

The library, for years housed at Muscatine, later in the Burtis Opera House at Davenport, was removed to Iowa City in the year 1867, where it remained in rooms rented for that purpose until 1883 when it had so far outgrown its quarters that a new and more permanent home was needed. At the annual session of 1883, the Grand Lodge set aside $20,000.00 for a fireproof building, and, the citizens of Cedar Rapids having offered to donate a lot and $10,000.00, it was decided to build in that city. The site selected was ideal, fronting on one of the most beautiful avenues, in the residence district, yet within a few blocks of the business portion of the city. The front of the building, which is of red pressed brick trimmed with sandstone, consists of two stories and an attic, while the rear part is two stories, and under all is a basement, well lighted and ventilated by a wide area-way. Surrounded by a well kept lawn and beautiful shade trees, it presents a very attractive appearance.

So rapidly did the library grow that in 1901 the trustees were authorized to purchase the adjoining corner lot on which was a fine brick residence. This has since been used as a general reference library and reading room, known as the Annex. Both buildings have recently been improved and re-decorated until today one entering either one finds "a place of quiet and beauty, where sightseeing is a delight, and study an absolute pleasure." On the right of the main entrance is the Grand Master's room, furnished in dark and massive oak, thoroughly in keeping with the dignity of the fraternity. On the left, a lighter treatment in decoration and the mahogany furniture make the reception room a delightful apartment in which the friends gather and are made welcome. The fireproof doors at the end of the entrance hall open into the library proper, filled with book cases on every side, and in the center of the room are large glass cases containing thousands of rare and interesting curios. The upper floor of this hall is a gallery guarded by an iron railing and lighted by the skylight above. This, too, is filled to overflowing with books and display cases. On the walls of both rooms hang pictures of the long line of Grand Masters who have ruled the craft in Iowa from 1844 to the present time.

T. S. PARVIN Long Grand Secretary Iowa Masons T. S. PARVIN
Long Grand Secretary Iowa Masons

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The leading feature of this library is naturally the Masonic department. Here in cases adorned with meaning symbols are to be found all the standard works of the fraternity and those which later scholarship has contributed to the history, philosophy and ceremonial of Masonry, together with the proceedings of all Grand Lodges, Chapters, Commanderies, Councils, Shrines, Chapters of the Order of Eastern Star, and all Masonic organizations of the world. This department also contains the constitutions, by-laws, monitors, and rituals of all Masonic bodies, both American and foreign. Masonic periodicals and magazines from all parts of the globe are on the shelves in perhaps more complete sets than can be found in any other library. Many rare and costly works have been added, some few of which are unique, no other copy being known to exist.

The early history of Freemasonry shows traces of the influence of other secret societies, and it in turn has influenced almost every other secret organization. A Masonic library would therefore be incomplete without the history, literature and ceremonies of these associations. This semi-Masonic department includes all works bearing upon the secret societies of the American revolution, the early secret societies of the middle ages and France, works pertaining to the history of the Nestorians, Dervishes, Thugs, Druids, Rosicrucians, the Guilds, etc.

As Masonry is closely linked with art, archaeology, mythology, and religion, a large collection of this class of material finds place in the general reference library, now housed in the Annex. The French and German books, comprising some four thousand volumes, the government publications, and a large number of proceedings have been removed to the basement, while the attic is crowded with duplicate proceedings, magazines, and pamphlets without number.

Another interesting feature is the Iowa department containing works by Iowa authors, as well as all works pertaining to the history of the state.

In order to make this collection of the greatest possible benefit to its patrons, it has been classified and a card catalog of the books has been made in accordance with approved library methods.

For the casual visitor the principal attraction is the museum, which contains archaeological, mineralogical, and geological specimens from all parts of the country. Here the relics of ancient American races and tribes give evidence of prehistoric culture, while the ruder implements, weapons and pottery of the aborigines make a notable collection. One large case contains only weapons of warfare; another is filled with Iowa birds. An unusual collection is the one of shoes from China, Japan, India, Burma, Siam, and several other foreign lands. The case of colonial relics is especially interesting to older visitors. The book lover finds the case devoted to rare and beautifully bound books the supreme attraction, while the small boy enjoys the stamp collection, the post card display, the birds, and the "freaks" of nature exhibited here. Masonic badges, medals, coins, old diplomas, charters, manuscripts, aprons, and other old lodge paraphernalia are artistically displayed in the various glass cases. Scattered throughout both buildings are many pictures, fine art pieces in bronze, bisque, and marble, antique vases, jars, pitchers, and various pieces of modern pottery, all donated by friends of the library.

In the autograph letter department are three large double cases each having one hundred and forty glass covered drawers devoted exclusively to this material. Here may be found the signatures of noted literary men, the presidents of the United States, governors of Iowa, and others prominently identified with the history of the state as well as noted men of the fraternity.

In 1901, upon the death of T. S. Parvin, the founder of the institution, his son, Newton R. Parvin, was elected Grand Secretary and librarian. He is peculiarly fitted for this responsible position, having served as deputy to his father for twenty-five years, and, like his father, is giving to the building up of this splendid library the "enthusiasm and energy of a single-purposed life."

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N. R. Parvin being Grand Secretary as well as librarian, the headquarters of the Grand Lodge are in the library building, and in the three splendidly equipped vaults are stored many valuable papers and records. A card index giving the record of every member in the state has recently been completed and placed in one of the vaults.

The entire expense of maintaining the library is met by an annual tax of ten cents for each member in the state. All expenditures are under the supervision of a board of three trustees appointed by the Grand Master for a term of six years. Those composing the present board are W. S. Gardner of Clinton, W. L. Eaton of Osage, and Crom Bowen of Des Moines.



The people of Cedar Rapids had felt the need of a public library. In the seventi