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The 1879 History of Jones County Iowa was transcribed by Janet A. Brandt.


Thistownship is situated in the western part of the county, north of Greenfield, the southwestern township. There is a good deal of timber in this township, the timber-land occupying nearly two-thirds of the area. The timber is mostly oak, and for quality is not excelled in this portion of the State. Many of the trees of the original forest have been cut down and removed, and their places are now occupied by numberless young and thrifty second-growths. In the northeastern portion, there is some prairie land, and the southwestern third of the township is also prairie. In these portions may be seen some of the finest farms in the county. The Wapsipinicon River enters the township near the northwest corner, crosses somewhat diagonally, and enters Jackson Township, on the east, near the center of the line running north and south. Buffalo Creek enters Fairview from the north, and unites with the Wapsipinicon just west of the site of Anamosa. On these streams are a number of excellent mill-privileges, and a goodly number are occupied by substantial flouring-mills. The whole township is well watered by these streams and their numerous tributaries. The village of Fairview is situated a little west of the geographical center, and Anamosa, the county seat, four miles northwest of it. The Additional Penitentiary of the State and the State Fish-Hatching Establishment are situated in this township, and in the north and west are the famous stone quarries described elsewhere. As a whole, this township ranks first in importance in the county.


From a letter to Mr. Edmund Booth from Gideon H. Ford, of Webster City, Hamilton County, this State, under date of October 4, 1872, we quote the following in regard to the early settlement of Anamosa and Fairview Township: "The first settlement of Buffalo Forks was commenced in April, 1838, by George Russ and Sherebiah Dakin, from the State of Maine. They laid claim to Secs. 2, 3, 4, one-quarter of 9 and one-quarter of 10. There were with them John H. Bartlett, wife and child, also a man named Smith, another named Carpenter and David G. Dumars. These came in the spring of 1838. Three of the above died that season, viz., Russ, Smith and Carpenter. Dakin was a millwright; worked in Dubuque. Then came George H. Russ, son of George Russ.
"I arrived at Dubuque on the 22d of October, and fell in with S. Dakin. He was going to Buffalo Forks next day, and asked me to go with him. He wished to sell his interest in the claim. So, in company with Timothy Davis, we started for the Forks, arriving next day in a snow-storm, the snow three inches deep. I bought Dakin's interest in the claim for $1,000. Young Russ held his father's share. Young Russ soon got homesick and I bought his share for $500. I then sold two-thirds of the claim to Davis and Walworth for $2,000. This was in January, 1839. We commenced building the mills the next spring. John H. Bartlett, I am told, is now living in Dubuque."
Mr. Edmund Booth writes: "I arrived at 'the Forks,' as they were familiarly termed—meaning Buffalo Forks of the Wapsipinicon, often abbreviated to Wapsi—in August, 1839. If I remember aright, it was on the 18th of August. I had reached Dubuque from the East some days previously, and made inquiry for George H. Walworth. I was referred to Timothy Davis; sought and found him in his little lawyer's office on Main street. He informed me he was a partner of Walworth, and that the latter was at the 'Buffalo Forks of the Wapsipinicon.' He proposed to let me have a horse which he wished to send to the Forks, and suggested the next day for starting; distance, forty miles. He informed me that a new road, known as the United States Military Road, was being laid out to the Forks, and seemed to apprehend no difficulty about the way. This Timothy Davis was, some years later, member of the Lower House of Congress for Iowa. He died about a year ago, of paralysis (1872). He was a lawyer from Missouri, a man of good intellect, clear head, and at the time, 1839, the best lawyer in Northern Iowa. His nature was ever kindly.
"In the course of the evening, after seeing Mr. Davis as above described, he called on me at Tim Fanning's log tavern, the only hotel in Dubuque, and informed me that two men would start next morning for Iowa City, then just laid out as the capital of the Territory of Iowa. They were going to attend the first sale of lots. Next morning we started accordingly. The name of one of the men was Bartlett-whether the Bartlett mentioned by Ford or not, I do not know; but judge not, as he did not appear to have any knowledge of the road, nor did he mention aught to lead one to suppose he had acquaintance with the locality of the 'Forks.' The name of the other man I have forgotten; but he was a blacksmith of Dubuque. For the journey, I had a large, strong horse, not spirited, but good. The two men were mounted on ponies. They rode at a continual slow trot, the natural pace of a pony. My horse taking longer strides, I allowed them to proceed some distance, and then a trot brought me up to them. And so it was all the way.
"As before said, the military road was being laid out, Congress having appropriated $20,000. We found a newly broken furrow along one side of the road, which, by the way, was merely a track through the grass of the prairies, and a mound of turf raised three or four feet high at intervals of a half-mile, more or less. At about noon, we reached the house of a Mr. Hamilton, two miles or so before reaching Cascade. Here we took dinner and fed the horses. There was only a woman—probably Mrs. Hamilton—in the house, and they had a small field in cultivation, no larger than a garden to appearance. The man was away. Continuing on, we soon reached Cascade. South of the river (North Fork of the Maquoketa) was a log cabin belonging to Mr. Dulong, an urbane Kentuckian. North of the river was the unfinished frame hotel of Mr. Thomas, and these were all the buildings of the place. Mr. Dulong was an elderly man, apparently forty to fifty years of age. He died some years since. Continuing on, it began to grow dark before we reached the timber of the South Fork of the Maquoketa.
"Passing through the timber, the new road being pretty good, the light from the chinks of a log cabin at last gave us assurance of human habitation, and a chance for a night's lodging. It proved to be the dwelling of Daniel Varvel, situated on the South Fork of the Maquoketa, and where is now a portion of the town of Monticello. On the maps of the place, it is designated as Monticello. Reaching Varvel's, he put the horses in a stable, near by—a log stable, by the way, with a loft above for hay. In the house were some dozen or fifteen men, in the employ of the U. S. Government contractor, and engaged in laying out the Military road. They had come thus far with the work. Varvel prepared supper. He was at that time wifeless, and no woman in the house. Supper of ham and eggs, corn dodgers and coffee. Breakfast, ditto, the next morning, eaten with a hearty relish after such a long ride. No beds for us with this crowd. After an hour's talk, Varvel took the lantern and led the way to the stable. We mounted the ladder outside, and with our saddle-blankets for covering, slept on the hay (we three) till morning, the horses feeding and resting beneath us. And this was my first night in Iowa after leaving Dubuque. A word here about Varvel. He was from Kentucky; married some years after this, our first meeting; with George H. Walworth, he laid out the town of Monticello, south of the river.
"His children grew up and removed further West. He followed them a few years since, and I do not know now whether he is living or dead. After breakfast, we left Varvel's, as the place was called until Monticello was laid out and named. The road was tolerably well marked by wagons, and at about noon, we passed the first land plowed since leaving Hamilton's, and Hamilton's was the only plowed land we had seen since leaving Dubuque. This second piece of plowed land, then just broken, consisted of five acres, the claim belonging to David G. Dumars, and the identical ground on which the county fair had been held for some years. Passing by this, and when at about the intersection of what is now Main and High streets, Anamosa, a large-sized man came lazily along the road toward us. We stopped and made inquiry. He told me to take a road to the right a few rods further on. This man was David G. Dumars. He went on toward his breaking; and, bidding good-bye to my two companions, who were bound for the new capital of the Territory and prospective wealth through the purchase of town lots, I turned into the road to the right. A mile and a half brought me to the log cabin referred to in G. H. Ford's letter, the body which had been built by Russ & Dakin. Here I found G. H. Walworth, who was an old acquaintance, and about fifteen to twenty other persons engaged in building a dam and saw-mill. The day was Sunday, and the people scattered, some reading, some lounging about, some gone to "the Prairie," as the settlement south of the timber was called. That settlement then consisted of eighteen log dwellings, and extended along the south border of the timber from Highland Grove to Viola; of course, these two latter names not being given till years afterward. I have related my journey as above merely to convey some idea of the aspect of the country, buildings, etc., and have named every dwelling we saw after leaving the little hamlet of Dubuque.
"I give here a list of the early settlers of the township; most of the list was obtained from John G. Joslin, ten years ago; Clement Russell and family arrived in July, 1837; John G. Joslin and family, in August, 1837; Ambrose Parsons and family, in May, 1838; Benonia Brown and family, in October, 1838; Lathrop Olmsted and family, in April, 1838; James Parsons, with his son Silas, in April, 1838; John Leonard and wife arrived in the autumn of 1838; Calvin C. Reed, in 1838; Gideon H. Peet, in the spring of 1839; Henry Van Buskirk, in the spring of 1839; Samuel Kelly, in 1838; Edmund Booth, in August, 1839; Henry Booth, in May, 1840; Col. David Wood, in June, 1840."
This small village of about fifty inhabitants, is situated a little west of the geographical center of the township of Fairview, and four miles southwest of the city of Anamosa. It is situated at the border of the timber-land, on the most delightful portions of the prairie land of Fairview Township. Near this village are found some of the first farms in the county of Jones, and had it been the fortune of its inhabitants to have secured the passage of one of the several lines of railroads that traverse the county, it would doubtless have made one of the first towns in this part of the State. The situation is indeed a delightful one.
At present, there is one small general and a small grocery store. The Postmaster is Mr. A. Merrill, and he is also the proprietor of the grocery store. He is an old resident of the place, having resided in the house where he now lives since 1853. There is a two-story frame schoolhouse and two churches. The Baptist Church is the oldest in the county, a history of which is given elsewhere.
The Methodist Church was built last year and dedicated June 28, 1878. The Pastor is W. F. Dove. The cost of the building was $1,200, and, though the society is small, they have paid all indebtedness and own their church without any incumbrance. The Trustees are William Manly, John Reed, Fredrick Leper, J. B. J. Porter and A. Dawes. The Methodists have had an organization for many years, but no church edifice until last year as stated above.
The Church of God have an organization, but no church edifice. They contemplate building soon. Nathan Blood is their Pastor.
Previous to June, 1837, no white man had settled in what afterward became the village of Fairview or in the township of that name. At the date named, Clement Russell, wife and four or five children, originally from the State of New York and last from Michigan, reached the place by wagon, in the search for a permanent location combining both prairie and timber land. Here he fixed his abode, and the aspect was really one of beauty. The prairie, six miles in width, ran east and west, and the sun apparently rising out of the prairie on the east and setting into the prairie on the west.
Russell, having lived in Michigan, was already a frontier's man, a farmer by occupation, and, in the course of the first year, had erected his log cabin, some 25x18 feet, and opened up a farm. John G. Joslin, Benonia Brown and others, with their families, came in the months following the arrival of Russell, and, in 1839, there were along the timber border of the prairie eighteen log dwellings, all, except one or two over the line in Linn County, being in Fairview Township.
In 1839 or 1840, Lucas being Territorial Governor, a speck of war-cloud arose along the line separating Iowa from Missouri. Word was passed for a meeting of young men, at Russell's house, with a view of enlistments for the deadly fray. Of those who enlisted, eighteen placed themselves in line as volunteers. Some were armed with guns, and some, for the fun of the thing, with poles or cornstalks. The war-cloud soon blew over, and Lucas, the testy, rested in peace.
At that time and subsequently, down to the removal of the county seat to Anamosa (then Lexington), Russell's was the place for public meetings other than religious, and for general elections, except for the last year or two before removal, when, through some agency or other of some person, the election was ordered by the County Commissioners to be held at Eli Brown's new frame barn. This was at the east end of the "settlement," so called, at that day, and not at all agreeable to the general public; but it was near the center of the township, and "center" of township or county has been a catchword ever since, without regard to center of convenience or population. The scenes at Russell's-the familiar name of the locality-were various, and often amusing. It was the point where all roads met, and the main road-the military-leaving that place, was the one leading to the bridge across the Wapsipinicon. Hence Russell's was the general rendezvous of the settlement.
For several years, the number of votes polled in the precinct was about 33, and so it continued until 1847, when C. C. Rockwell, the first lawyer in the county, came and set up in his profession at Lexington, and, as Deputy to William Hutton, County Clerk, inserted Lexington in the order for the next general vote of the precinct, to the great disgust of Eli Brown's barn and everybody living near it. The balance of the public wondered somewhat at what they looked upon as a bit of legal impudence, but as Lexington was not objectionable and was more respectable than a barn, general acquiescence followed.
Russell's, as already stated, was the point for public meetings. It was also the place for discussions of all kinds, and for brawls as well, when such occurred. The few persons of that day now living can remember bloody faces and black eyes, and most frequently the bloody faces and black eyes were confined to two or three persons. The quarrels usually grew out of difference of opinions, combined with whisky, and the enmities generated were never permanent. In less than a week, all were as friendly as ever, and ready to extend a kindness or a helping hand to each other.
The nearest store was at Dubuque, over forty miles away. Of the prominent men residing here and in the vicinity, John G. Joslin was one of the most intelligent, and most influential and most respected; Ambrose Parsons was solid, good-hearted and naturally dignified; Gideon Peet was kindly and pleasant; Benonia Brown was industrious and thrifty, and died at the age of 103; Clement Russell was of wiry make, nervous-bilious in temperament, good-hearted at bottom and throughout, and disputative; John Leonard was of large frame, great physical strength, and indolent, but worked well, and was often employed by his neighbors for that reason. Besides those named above, the settlers, as a whole, were good men and women and orderly. In short, they were good samples of the best people residing in New York and New England.
In 1841, Russell laid out the village of Fairview. Reuben Bunce and Mr. Gilchrist came soon after with a load of goods, which they were peddling through the territory. They stopped at Russell's, then a general tavern for travelers, and concluded to remain and open a store. The front portion of Russell's log cabin was set off for the purpose. They also purchased a number of lots of the newly laid-out town. Gilchrist soon sold out to Bunce and left. Out of the question of paying for the lots, litigation arose, and the District Court, for several terms, had it on hand. Lathrop Olmstead, who lived just outside the plat of Fairview, was tall and slender, and, for all the world, remained one of Washington Irving's Ichabod Crane. He, at Fairview, and Barrett Whittemore, at Bowen's Prairie, were the first two persons who undertook to teach school in this county, and both at about the same time-winter of 1840-41. Olmstead started overland for California in 1849 or 1850, and is supposed to have died on the way, as nothing was ever heard of him afterward. The first school he taught was in Marlin Peet's house, which was empty at the time.
Among the residents of Fairview after 1840 were Edmund Booth and Dr. Sylvester G. Matson. In the vicinity, and extending eastward along the border of the timber, were John G. Joslin, Henry Booth, Benonia Brown, Dr. Clark Joslin, Eli and George H. Brown, and westward were Julius A. Peet, Marlin Peet, James. Silas and Neely Parsons, Gideon Peet (the father of the Peet family in the settlement) and Gideon N. Peet. Next to the last was Ambrose Parsons. Then came Alex. Rhoton and John Crow. John Crow and family came from Virginia. He was a courtly and dignified gentleman, and had the handsomest couple of mastiffs and horses in the settlement. The names given above are only of the heads of families of that time.
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