History of Buchanan County, Iowa

The following history is the result of the joint labor of its two editors, for about ten months; together with that of several assistants in certain departments of the work. With two exceptions, the editors hold themselves responsible for every thing herein contained, for which no other authority is expressly given. The first exception is that of Township Histories. All of these but two were prepared by a gentleman of indefatigable industry and undoubted truthfulness, who spent several weeks in visiting the different townships, and collecting from all accessible sources, but mostly from the lips of old settlers, the material for his sketches. That these are as reliable as anything based upon human memory can be, we have no doubt. The gentleman referred to has had considerable literary experience; but in these Township Histories he has aimed rather at brevity and clearness of statement, than at anything like literary ornamentation. The other exception is that of the Township Bio- graphical Sketches. These were prepared by the subscription canvassers, and were of course written under great inconveniences and difficulties. They came into our hands for revision. A few redundancies were pruned away; some grammatical errors, incident to hasty composition, were corrected; and that was all the revision which, under the circumstances, was found practicable. We trust, however, that few, if any, important errors have gone into print, and that those specially interested in these sketches will find them, on the whole, satisfactory.

The sources from which our information has been derived for the preparation of this work have been perhaps sufficiently acknowledged in those portions of the world in which the various items of information are embodied. But we desire here to make more especial acknowledgment to the publishers of the Conservative and the Bulletin for their kindness in granting us free access to the files of their papers; to the clergymen who so cheerfully furnished us with historical sketches of their several churches; to all the county officers, not only for the unobstructed use of their records, but frequently for their valuable assistance in examining them; to Mr. Charles H. Little for the use of the entire file of the Buchanan Guardian of which he is the fortunate owner; and to the Hon. Stephen W. V. Tabor for admission, at all times cordially granted, to his magnificent private library. If through inadvertence, we have failed to mention, either here or in the body of the work, an>- kind helpers to whom we are specially indebted, let them be as- sured that the omission is not due to any lack of a grateful appreciation of their kindness.

Of the fidelity (or the want of it) with which we have performed our work, our readers must be the judges. Of one thing only are we at all inclined to boast: we think we may safely say that no count}', whose history has as yet been written, can point to so full and complete a record of the doings and sayings of its heroes in the war for the suppression of the Rebellion, as that contained in the present volume. That no other county could furnish the materials for such a record, we would not presume to say; but certainly we know of no county among whose soldiers there were so many Xenophons, equally capable of wielding the pen and sword, as among the .soldiers of "Old Buchanan."


Table of Contents

General History

I. The Aboriginal Inhabitants 12
II. Physical Features 23
III. Historical Address 42
IV. Settlement and Population 48
V. Early Mails and Means of Communication 50
VI. Early Commerce 53
VII. Hunting, Trapping and Fishing 56
VIII. Erection and Organization of Buchanan county 61
IX. The County Seat War 63
X. The Court and the Bar of Buchanan County 64
XI. Interesting Cases 71
XIa. County Societies 80
XII. Railroads 93
XIII. Provision for the Poor 98
XIV. The Hospital for the Insane 99
XV. Buchanan County in the War of the Rebellion 103
XVI. Buchanan County Schools 210
XVII. Civil List of Buchanan County 213
XIX. The Buchanan Press 218
XX. General Biography 219
Townships and Villages
Independence 230
Washington 281
Liberty 295
Perry 311
Fairbank 332
Hazleton 337
Buffalo 352
Madison 362
Byron 369
Fremont 377
Westburgh 384Sumner 389
Jefferson 404
Homer 413
Cono 423
Newton 430


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All history is local. Even the strictest biography interests itself, more or less, in the birthplace and early home of its subject, and in all the scenes of his later achievements. Every man is closely identified with his surroundings. He becomes a part of them, and they of him; and it would be as easy for him to exist separate from space as for a historian to write a history of his life entirely disconnected with that of the place in which he lives.

As with the history of individuals and peoples, so with that of all popular movements, whether in civil, religious, military or political affairs. The history of a government or a war, of a reformation in religion or a revolution in party politics, can not be written separate from that of the territories in which they occur. All events are local, and so must their history be. But the most of the great histories of the world are local in name, as well as in fact. The history of France, of England, or of America, pertains, if we follow the literal sense, even more to the territory than to the nation. We may say that the chief interest attaches to the people; but it is only as the soul is more interesting than the body. If the two could be separated, the history of both, together with all human interest in them, as constituting a living entirety, would come to an end. But though all history, strictly speaking, is local, yet the name "local history" is applied exclusively, we believe, to those historical collections which have of late become so common, and which are limited to small territories those of towns corporate, townships, or separate counties.

Local histories, therefore, do not differ from others so much in kind as in extent. The history of a county contains, or should contain, all the elements which enter into that of a State, or of a nation. Every history pertaining to a limited territory, whether great or small, should contain a description, more or less minute, of its physical features and natural advantages; an account of its aboriginal inhabitants, of its settlement and subjugation by the people who now occupy it, of its gradual development of its resources, of the growth and extent of its internal improvements, of its advancement in art, science, literature, morality and religion ; in short, of the progress which its people have made in all that goes to make up that complex social condition to which we give the name of Christian civilization. As subsidiary to all this, it must contain an account of its civil divisions, and biographical sketches of those who have occupied, within its borders, prominent positions in social, financial, civil or military affairs. And if it is illustrated with portraits of its deserving citizens and views of its finest edifices and most picturesque scenery, these illustrations will aid the descriptions of the historian in producing their most vivid impression upon the mind of the reader.