The History of Black Hawk County, Iowa

Less than half a century has rolled into eternity since the Indian title to any portion of the soil of Iowa was extinguished, and the Black Hawk Purchase permitted the resistless tide of emigration westward to flow across the Mississippi, and only thirty years ago the Winnebagoes reluctantly left their Iowa Reserve, the southern line of which was very near the northern part of Black Hawk County. Less than thirty-five years have elapsed since Sturqis and Adams built the first rude log cabins in the valley of the Cedar, and the first brave and hardy pioneers settled on the beautiful prairies of Black Hawk. But these fleeting years have been replete with eventful changes of history that it has been the purpose of this work to gather, arrange and preserve for transmission to posterity as one of the almost countless chapters in the annals of this great country.

The task has been an arduous and responsible one. Some years had passed, after the first permanent settlements by Sturgis, Adams, Hanna, Virden, Melrose, Mullan, Newell and others, before any written records were made; and of those who settled in the county in 1845, only one now remains to tell the story of their hardships and privations.

The compilers have been forced to depend upon the remembrances of the early settlers for many of the incidents recorded in the following pages. But memories fail with the accumulating burdens of years, and events that were vividly recalled ten or fifteen years ago, are now so nearly forgotten that they return with difficulty at the call of the historian. The reminiscences of James Newell, one of the pioneers of Iowa as early as 1834-5, written by himself before his decease, kindly placed at the disposal of the historians by S.H. Packard, Esq., of Cedar Falls, have furnished some interesting and valuable matter for this work. Large numbers of circulars and letters addressed to Township Clerks and old settlers, asking for information for this work, have not been answered, with one or two honorable exceptions. It has often occurred, also, that different individuals have given sincere and honest, but, nevertheless, conflicting, versions of the same events, and it has been a task of great delicacy to harmonize these conflicting statements. This work has been done with much care and discrimination, with the sole purpose of arriving at the truth. How well this task has been performed, the intelligent reader must judge. It will be strange, indeed, if, in the multiplicity of names, dates and events no errors, no omissions be detected. The compilers do not dare hope that, in all its numerous and varied, details, this work is absolutely correct, nor is it to be expected that it is beyond criticism ; but it is hoped and believed that it will be found measurably correct and generally accurate and reliable. Great care has been constantly exercised in its preparation in the hope of making it a standard work of reference, as well as a volume of interest to the general reader.

Such as it shall be found, however, our work is done, our offering completed, and it remains for us to tender our acknowledgments to the people of Black Hawk County for the patronage that has enabled us to present them with this volume, and for the courtesy and kindness generally extended to our representatives, to whom has been entrusted the work of collecting and arranging the historical record herein presented to that posterity who, in the not far distant future, are to take the places of the fathers and mothers of today, so many of whose names are honorably recorded in the following pages.


Table of Contents


History northwest territory
History of Iowa
History of Blackhawk county from its early settlement to the present time
Town histories



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During M. Talon's explorations and Marquette's residence at St. Ignatius, they learned of a great river away to the west, and fancied as all others did then that upon its fertile banks whole.tribes of God's children resided, to whom the sound of the Gospel had never come. Pilled with a wish to go and preach to them, and in compliance with a request of M. Talon, who earnestly desired to extend the domain of his king, and to ascertain whether the river flowed into the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Ocean, Marquette with Joliet, as commander of the expedition, prepared for the undertaking.