History of Wapello County, Iowa
Wapello County in many of its topographical features is similar to the state as a whole, which consists of level or rolling prairies, with occasional deep valleys, with gentle or abrupt slopes according to the depth the streams lie below the prairie, and the character of the material through which they have carved their courses.
The Des Moines River traverses the county from northwest to southeast, having, with its numerous tributaries, cut its way through the overlying strata of clays, shales and coal beds, down to the limestones, thus exposing to view and making accessible a vast amount of mineral wealth.
Untold ages were required for the forces of nature to make this preparation for the habitation of man, but many more thousands of years intervened, of which there is little or no record, before civilized man appeared on the scene.
The present history endeavors to give a record of events within the county, beginning with the establishment of the Indian agency in 1838 at what is now the town of Agency.
At that time the valley of the Des Moines and the adjacent hills, a pari of which is the present site of Ottumwa, was occupied by the Sacs and Foxes under their chiefs, Wapello and Appanoose.
Under the terms of a treaty, on May 1, 1843, the Indians gave up the territory now comprising the County of Wapello and the white man moved across the border and occupied the land.
All of these occurrences are graphically portrayed by Major Beach, who became Indian agent on the death of General Street, in 1840, and who continued his residence in the county until his death in 1874.
We have given a record of the organization of the several townships, so far as data were obtainable, that of the several towns in the county and of the City of Ottumwa; and the progress and present conditions of agricultural, industrial and transportation developments in the county.
In doing this we have used any and all available historical material, reminiscences by early settlers, found in previous histories or in the press, and interviews with a few of the small number of surviving first settlers.
Some may complain on account of mention of some individuals and omission of others. Our reply must be that a true history should not merely try to please or exalt the individual, but to use him only so far as he was instrumental in recording or shaping things that make for the growth and well-being of the community.
Viewed from this standpoint, we confidently believe the history submitted will stand the test of any fair criticism.
Table of Contents
INDIAN TREATIES AND THE NEW PURCHASE 17
INDIAN AGENCY IN WAPELLO COUNTY 23
FILE SADLY OER THE PRAIRIE INTO A STRANGE COUNTRY 45
THE PIONEERS 55
PIONEER LIFE 71
GEOLOGY OF WAPELLO COUNTY 83
WAPELLO COUNTY ORGANIZED 97
OTTUMWA IS INCORPORATED 117
SOUTH OTTUMWA 133
THE MEDICAL PROFESSION 193
THE BENCH AND BAR 199
THE PRESS 225
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS 231
FRATERNITIES AND SOCIETIES 245
PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT THAT FAILED 255
CENTER TOWNSHIP 267
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP 277
COLUMBIA TOWNSHIP 291
AGENCY TOWNSHIP 3O5
DAHLONEGA TOWNSHIP 313
RICHLAND TOWNSHIP 317
ADAMS TOWNSHIP 323
PLEASANT TOWNSHIP 331
COMPETINE TOWNSHIP 335
GREEN TOWNSHIP 339
POLK TOWNSHIP 343
KEOKUK TOWNSHIP 345
HIGHLAND TOWNSHIP 347
CASS TOWNSHIP 351
WAPELLO COUNTY IN THE CIVIL WAR 355
KELLEY AND HIS MOTLEY ARMY 427
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Rev. William Salter, a pioneer clergyman of Burlington, was a close student of Iowa history and a voluminous and entertaining writer on subjects pertinent thereto. On November 3, 1900, he delivered an address in the Congregational Church of Burlington in commemoration of the meeting of the first Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa, November 3, 1838. His theme gave him a wide range of thought, which he covered in a general way, clearly outlining the salient features of Iowa's history. As the space in this work is limited, the Reverend Salter's address is given the preference to a more extended relation of the many important events be- longing to the history of the state, and follows:
The name of Iowa first appeared a little more than two centuries ago as that of bands of Indians who roamed over the vast region between Lake Michigan and the Missouri River. They were nomads, not like the Arabs, with flocks and herds and some measure of civilization, but in a low stage of savagery, living by the chase and by fishing. They occupied from time to time small villages scattered here and there upon water courses of the region. They were found upon the Milwaukee River in Wisconsin and upon rivers that still bear their name in this state; the Iowa, that has a tortuous course of more than two hundred miles, and the Upper Iowa. For a more continuous period since the discovery of the country than any other tribes, the Iowa Indians had villages in Iowa. Hence the state bears their name.