History of Jones County, Iowa


The mission of the historian is to chronicle things and events as he finds them, and preserve them according to the fact, rather than to give to history the coloring he thinks it ought to have. The recording of the organization, progress and condition of the county, commercially, socially, religiously, educationally and politically, past and present, is not a matter of interest and value for the present generation alone; future generations will peruse these pages to learn of the past, and from force of circumstances, will be compelled to accept the facts herein presented, as matters of undisputed historic reference. To gather and transcribe the data of this volume in the short space of six months, has been a large undertaking, and what has been accomplished in that period of time, will be disclosed in the pages of this history.

The History of Jones County, published in 1879, has been of valuable assistance in compiling this volume, and its pages have been freely used in this history so far as applicable. The cheerful assistance rendered the editor by those solicited for information and contributions, forms one of the most delightful memories of this task. To meet these people in their homes, in their places of business, and on the street and highway, and secure their hearty cooperation in making this work a success, has been one of the most enjoyable features of the labors we were called upon to perform. The friendships formed, the cooperation manifest, the appreciation expressed, and the satisfaction experienced in securing a history of our home county, have been encouraging features in the role as historian.


Table of Contents

Early Settlement 23
Infant Pioneers 24
Some First Things in Jones County 25
Historic Setting of Jones County 26
Political Organization of the County 27
First Election of County Officers 28
Some Early Commissioner's Records 29
Election Precincts 30
Organization of Townships 31
The Topography of Jones County 33
Tornado History 42
Earthquake History 44
Flood History 46
State and Federal Officers from Jones County 49
Jones County in the Legislature 49
County Officers 51
County Organization, 1909 56
County Expenses, 1865 59
County Expenses, 1878 59
County Expenses, 1895 60
County Expenses, 1908 61
County Expenses, by years since 1880 62
County Assessment by Townships, 1864 63
County Assessment by Townships, 1879 64
County Assessment by Townships, 1895 65
County Assessment by Townships, 1909 66
Comparative Table of Property Valuations, '61 to '09 65
Growth and Development of Jones County Population 67
Comparative Population by Townships, 1860-1905 67
Crop and Produce Statistics 68
Tax Levies for 1909 68
County Seat Questions 70
Educational 74
Political Status of Jones County 80
Election Returns, 1876-1908 82
Early Marriages and Marriage Licenses, 1839-1855 83
Early Dairying 90
Odds and Ends 92
Jones County Medical Society 96
Jones County Farmer's Institute 97
Jones County Sunday School Association 98
Jones County Good Roads Association 99
Jones County Old Settler's Association 99
Lynch Law and the Vigilance Committee 102
The Country Farm 105
The Judiciary 107
The Jones County Bar Association 109
Jones County Attorneys, 1909 109
Meteorological and Climatology Tables, Jones County 109
Civil War History 116
List of Soldiers in Jones County in 1885 182
The Spanish War 193
Banks and Banking 194
Railroads 207
Mileage and Assessed Valuation Per Mile 215
The Jones County Calf Case 216
The Catholic Churches in Jones County 219



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The first white settler in Jones county was Hugh Bowen who settled in Richland township in the year 1836. As "all roads lead to Rome," so all roads to the spot where the first white man called home, will lead to a locality south and east of Bowen's Prairie. A short sketch of the life of this historic man would be appropriate in these pages, but the records are unkind, and will reveal but little of the career of Hugh Bowen. R. J. Cleaveland in his "Reminiscences of Rome." given on another page of this volume, states something in regard to the character and personality of the man.

Tradition also states that Jones county is entitled to the distinction of including the territory in which the Black Hawk war ended in 1833. The "Annals of Iowa" however, add no light on the subject. As handed down to the present generation, the story goes that the Black Hawk Indians were pursued by the American army, of which Lieutenant Jefferson Davis of the regular army, and Abraham Lincoln, an officer in the service of the Illinois militia, were in command. The Indians were chased to the banks of the Maquoketa river, at a point on the southern border of Richland township, called Dale's Ford. Here the Indians took their stand. The river was high and the current swift. While oner half of the Indian warriors took their stand in defense, the other half crossed the raging torrent on improvised canoes, and these in turn, maintained a defense while the others crossed the stream. When all had crossed the river, they turned and fled through the brush and timber. The American army, not caring to plunge their horses into the swift, flowing and turbulent waters, and believing the Indians were too exhausted to continue their depredations, turned back; and the Indians were not heard from again. This military strategy on the part of the Indians, as given by tradition is worthy of praise and of being written in story and in song. We are unable to find any authentic record of this traditional fact of history.

Much has been written of the heroism of the pioneers of Jones county, and of the wealth of character, and richness of possessions that has descended to posterity. To all this glory, the pioneer who has blazed the way to the civilization, settlement and enrichment of Jones county, is fully entitled. The men and women of the early day, from the viewpoint of this age, were institutions of greatness. Through them the hidden resources of the county have been developed, the character of the people moulded, and life and living made to shine with a bright reality.

Jones county will compare with her sister counties very favorably. In the moral tone and industrial prosperity of its inhabitants, it will stand second to none in the state. Its prosperous homes and improved farms, speak of the fertility of its soil and proclaim the culture of its people; its numerous schools and churches tell in glowing terms of the attention given to the development of mind, and the strength of manhood and Christian character.