History of Johnson County, Iowa

The writer of this History of Johnson County is under obligations to several persons for their friendly co-operation, and in some cases very especial and valuable assistance in preparing matter for our use, or furnishing documents, taking us to a personal inspection of historic scenes and localities, etc., without which we could not have succeeded in making so valuable and complete a work as ii here now presented.

Hon. Henry Felkner furnished us, in his own handwriting, his well written sketch of the pioneer days, in which he was himself so prominent an actor in the affairs of the young community. Hon. John P. Irish said with a plump, hearty welcome; "There's all my newspaper files; and there's my library; take anything you want, whenever you want it, and as long as you want it — all Task is that you bring it back!" Col. S. C. Trowbridge, who is himself a walking encyclopedia of early history, and has more old historic documents tucked away for time of need than any five other men in the county, was more than generous in his kind and helpful assistance in finding old documents and records which we wanted; and in many ways his friendly offices were most valuable, for all which the whole county as well as ourselves owe him lasting thanks. Others who look some pains to assist us either with their own writing, or with books, records, documents, reports, transcripts, etc., that were really needful, were: Prof. T. S. Parvin; President J. L, Pickard; ex-Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood; Prof. Samuel Calvin; Prof. G. Hinrichs; Mr. Bohumil Shimek, a University student from Jefferson township; M. W. Cook, of Oxford; Mrs. Mary Hamilton, of Clear Creek, assisted by Bryan Dennis, Hon. George Paul, and others of the old, old settlers; A. G. Runyon, of Penn township; LeGrand Byinglon, of Lucas township; Postmaster Jacob Ricord; County Auditor, A. Medowell; Clerk of District Court, Stephen Bradley; Wm. H. Fleming, of Des Moines, who was for ten or twelve years private Secretary to successive Governors of Iowa, and is now preparing a volume of state census and all civil statistics by counties and townships; and to the venerable Hon. Edward Langworthy, of Dubuque. Also to the superintendents of the State Blind Asylum, Deaf Mute Asylum and the Penitentiary at Fort Madison, for full and prompt response to our inquiries after Johnson county people in those state institutions. Some of the other controlling officers of state institutions either paid no regard to our request, or else flatly refused to give us the information desired.

The labor of preparing a full history of this county has been very great, for there is a great amount of real history here, more, perhaps, than in any other county in the state, owing to the State Capital, State University, and other institutions having had their beginnings here.

We had no friends to puff nor enemies to punch ; no old sores to pick open, nor old scores to even up ; but "with charity for all and malice toward none," we have wrought patiently, diligently and conscientiously at our task to the end. We have aimed to make this volume so reliable and complete that it will take rank at once as a standard cyclopedia of John- son county history and interests, alike in the family, the private office, the county offices, or the township board meetings. And trusting that this high aim has been reasonably well achieved, we herewith submit our volume to the judgment and the service of its patrons.


Table of Contents


Discovery and Occupation 17
The Original Owners 25
Pike's Expedition 29
Indian Wars 30
The Black Hawk War 35
Indian Purchases, Reserves and Treaties 37
Spanish Grants 41
The Half-Breed Tract 42
Early Settlements 44
Territorial History 51
The Boundary Question 55
State Organization 59
The Agricultural College and Farm 64
The State University 66
State Historical Society 72
The Penitentiary 72
Additional Penitentiary 73
Iowa Hospital for the Insane (Mt. Pleasanty) 74
Hospital for the Insane (Independence) 74
Iowa College for the Blind 75
Institution for the Deaf and Dumb 77
Soldiers' Orphans' Home 77
State Normal School 79
Reform School for Girls 79
Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children 79
The Reform School 80
Fish Hatching Establishment 81
The Public Lands' 82
The Public Schools 96
Political Record — Territorial Officers 100
Officers of the State Government lOO
The Judiciary — Supreme Court of Iowa 103
Congressional Representation 102
War Record 104
Infantry 108
Cavalry 119
Artillery 122
Number of Troops furnished by the State of Iowa, during the War of the Rebellion, to January 1, 1866 125
Constitution of the United States of America and its Amendments 126
Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes 138
Interest 138
Descent 138
Wills and Estates of Deceased Persons 139
Taxes 140
Jurisdiction of Courts 142
Limitation of Actions 142
Jurors 142
Capital Punishment 143
Rights of Married Women 143
Exemption from Execution 143
Estraya 145
Wolf Scalps 145
Marks and Brands 145
Damages from Trespass 145
Fences 146
Mechanics' Liens 146
Roads and Bridges 147
Adoption of Children 148
Surveyors and Surveys 148
Support of Poor 148
Landlord and Tenant 149
Weights and Measures 150
Definition of Commercial Terms 150
Notes 151
Orders 151
Receipts 151
Bills of Purchase 151
Confession of Judgement 151
Articles of Agreement 152
Bills of Sale 153
General form of Will for Real and Personal Property 164
Codicil 166
Satisfaction of Mortgage 166
Forms of Real Estate Mortgage 166
Form of Lease 167
Form of Note 168
Warranty Deed 169
Quitclaim Deed 170
Bond for Deed 170
Charitable, Scientific and Religious Institutions 171




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Iowa, in the symbolical and expressive language of the aboriginal inhabitants, is said to signify "The Beautiful Land" and was applied to this magnificent and fruitful region by its ancient owners, to express their appreciation of its superiority of climate, soil and location. Prior to 1803, the Mississippi River was the extreme western boundary of the United States. All the great empire lying west of the " Father of Waters," from the Gulf of Mexico on the south to British America on the north, and westward to the Pacific Ocean, was a Spanish province. A brief historical sketch of the discovery and occupation of this grand empire by the Spanish and French governments will he a fitting introduction to the history of the young and thriving State of Iowa» which, until the commencement of the present century, was a part of the Spanish possessions in America.