A Topical History of Cedar County, Iowa


A recent lament has been heard in reference to the fact that certain portions of pioneer history of Indian Warfare cannot now be written since those who were participants in those events of the long ago made no record that has been preserved or seemed to consider the events of the time of importance enough to make mention of them in any permanent form.

For this reason those who attempt to find authority for this phase of American history will lock in vain for the sources.

Recently it was suggested that the points of interest in the campaign of Abraham Lincoln in the Black Hawk war be marked in some suitable way. This only emphasizes the tendency of the times to take more interest in fixing the points in local history while those yet living can verify the facts as they appear. This will leave in some form a distinct feature of the community.

Pride in one's own province is not a distinguishing characteristic of the mov- ing population that settled this portion of the United States. Only enough remain to furnish a suggestion of the former early settlers and they are the ones who must furnish the data for all the unmarked or unrecorded material that one may rightfully use in an attempt to write on any topic.

A visitor to New England is constantly reminded of the events in his country's history that took place in that vicinity. He cannot escape the sight of monument, inscription, or relic, and he is led to inquire why these should be in this part of the United States and so few in comparison in his own environment. Many things that should have been recorded and those concerned been the better able to relate or preserve for future relating are now passed beyond recall. Future generations will never continue a custom for which no incentive is furnished. That should be the aim in all attempts in writing history to furnish some inducement to the generations following to produce a better citizenship, a better method of doing things, that those who come after may endeavor to rise higher in the attempt to reach ideals.

It is not expected that every item of importance can be gathered into a small volume by any one in a brief time, but a grouping of events topically, that will give a fair account of the times in which they occurred, will be the measure of sincere effort. The first aim is truth, the second the place where the truth is found so far as it can be located.

The history of a county may lead me far astray in the search for the beginning of things and the temptation to follow these suggestions to the end has been very great. The limit, however, must be placed somewhere and all would not agree on the point. It ought to be safe enough to stop with matters that have to do with the development of the coUnty directly and its relation to its neighboring territory.

Cedar county citizens were interested in the preservation of all that goes to assist in the preparation of such a volume as early as 1868. At that time the members of the Board of Supervisors and other citizens met in the clerk's office in the court house for the purpose of organizing, in some way, to forward historical facts to the state department at Des Moines. This was the object of the meeting as stated by Lawrie Tatum, one of the leaders in the movement. He emphasized the fact of the necessity of such action if the history was ever made possible. John S. Tuthill was the chairman of this meeting and Wm. Elliott the secretary. Resolutions offered by Lawrie Tatum were adopted in the following form: Resolved, That there be at least one person appointed for each township to collect and collate all the facts and circumstances attending the settlement, rise, and progress of his township, and forward the same to Judge Tuthill by January 1st if possible.


Table of Contents

Section I.
Pioneer History 11

Section II.
County Organization and Government 53

Section III.
Towns and Townships 101

Section IV.
Educational 155

Section V.
Church and Its Organizations 184

Section VI.
Industrial Affairs 236

Section VII.
Transportation 267

Section VIII.
Judicial Matters 301

Section IX.
Military History 328

Section X.
John Brown in Cedar County 410

Section XI.
The Press and Literary Organizations 452

Section XII.
Fraternal Organizations 474

Section XIII.
The County in the State and Nation 486

Section XIV.
The Professions 492

Section XV.
Miscellaneous 499
Reference 513


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At a meeting of the "Old Settlers Association" in Tipton, June l0, 1910, the secretary reported twenty-seven deaths during the year since the last meeting. At this meeting those who came in 1836 to this county were asked to stand. Only two arose, and from personal reports obtainable only six are now living who came in that early time. Personal interviews in this chapter of accounts secured from those able to give correct facts will reveal who these six are. The tM was also called on dates up to 1850. Very few survivors of these early days are now found in this county, they are fast passing and many, very many, interesting facts must be omitted because no one is now living who could have furnished them. Many points of interest in this county that have events of value associated with them cannot now be exactly located because the character of the surroundings has been so changed or distinguishing marks removed. If errors creep into pioneer accounts they are due to crossed memories or lack of opportunity to verify the historical data by actual record which was not made at the proper time. The earliest settler was not concerned with keeping any record of the present, as he knew it, for us at this date to reproduce as history. He had enough to do then to keep himself and his family supplied with the bare food and clothing necessary for existence and while happy enough and possessed of a keen appreciation of his situation, willing and more than anxious to better his condition he was alive to the future only in a material and physical sense at first. This does not mean that he had no thought for elevation of mind, of morals, but that he was after a home, independence of fortune, freedom politically, and comforts for his family which must be carved out of a wild country. He was willing to give his life, his very blood, if need be, to carry out this plan. This one purpose possessed him and if he was not concerned with keeping records on paper or in marking spots of historical interest so that they could be identified by posterity, we at this date must forgive him and do the best we can to put facts into form for preservation. We must draw from every possible source for this chapter and shall be indebted to many for assistance. It may not be true that people arc more selfish or thoughtless than in these pioneer days, but they certainly are less social. They fail to respond to calls of a personal nature in the same way, due doubtless to the great demand on time for the multitude of duties that now come to each individual if he fulfills his daily round of occupations. Then the social and charitable element in the character came to its highest degree of expression and what belonged to one became in distress or need the property of all. One has written something as follows concerning the early days: "They were void of hypocrisy themselves and they despised it in others. They hated cowardice and shams of every kind, and above all things falsehood and deception. The stranger, so long as honest and trustworthy, was made welcome as one of the household. To tender pay for service of this kind was offensive to the possessor. If one fell sick and needed care and attention it was immediately at hand. Such service was cheerfully rendered and the needs of a new country made skillful nurses of housewives. A neighborhood was a social unit and what was the interest of one became the interest of all. When work needed a force of men, they united the men of the community and no one needed to make a second request. In a sense all felt the need and could not enjoy his good fortune unless shared by his neighbor.