AN HONORED RESIDENT AND PIONEER
A history of Clay township without more than a passing reference to her first citizen, Hon. John Russell, would be lacking in one of its distinguishing features. It has been allotted to few men during their life-time, to be entrusted with the political confidences of the people to a greater degree than that accorded to this honored citizen of the county and late resident of Clay township. He was born in Fifeshire, Scotland, October 8, 1821, and was a son of Robert and Mary Williams Russell. He came to America in May, 1842, and immediately proceeded to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he remained about a year working at his trade, that of stone mason, on the new city waterworks then being built. In 1843, he entered the commercial business in Columbiana county, Ohio, and remained in this occupation until 1852. On November 29, 1849, John Russell was married to Miss Margaret Feehan. In 1852, he came west and located on the farm in Clay township, Jones county, which remained his home until his death, which occurred October 10, 1908.
John Russell was the first clerk of Clay township. He was later elected a member of the general assembly of Iowa, and as representative from Jones county, served five consecutive terms, the longest continuous service in the history of the county. In 1868, he was elected speaker of the house. In 1870, he was elected state auditor, and in 1872, was reelected to the same office by a flattering majority. In October, 1879, he was elected state senator from Jones and Cedar counties, and served four years in this capacity. He then retired to private life on his farm in Clay township.
As a public man, Mr. Russell's strength did not lie in oratory or in literary display. His strength and popularity was founded on the simplicity of his life his devotedness to the cause of the people, and his practical common sense. Personally plain but affable, unassuming but trustworthy, gentle in manner, kind and hospitable by nature, he has been crowned with the laurels of honor, and has enjoyed the proud title of "Honest John."
On October 10, 1908, after a continuous residence of fifty-six years in Clay township, Hon. John Russell was called to his eternal home, and his body laid to rest in the Wyoming cemetery. Honored in life, his memory is revered in death. He brought honor to Jones county and distinction to Clay township, and the scared spot where his ashes lie buried, will be surrounded by hallowed memories and cherished by an appreciative people.
EARLY SETTLEMENT AND HISTORY
Clay township compares favorably with other townships in Jones County. The inhabitants are industrious, thrifty and intelligent. The land is rather more hilly than Wayne township, for example, but is less so than Washington or Richland. The east and north sides of the township has more or less timber land but this is rapidly being cut off and the land being cultivated. The southwestern part of the township contains more level prairie land.
The first permanent settlers of Clay township were David Killam, John E. Holmes, Benjamin Collins, Truman Brown and Madison Brown. These, it is said, were here before 1838. John E. Lovejoy, later of Scotch Grove, came in 1839; P. D. Turner and Horace Turner came the same year, and in the following spring, Lyman Turner, their father, made this township his home. From 1840 to 1850, a few settlers came in, but in the latter year, the tide of emigrants which came pouring west, reached that place, and Clay township was rapidly settled from that time on. In 1860 the population of the township was six hundred and thirty-three. The population according to the 1905 census was six hundred and twenty-six.
Numbered among the early settlers of the township, in addition to those named were: John French, Thomas Moran, Henry Carter, John Dennison, William Eckler, M. C. Walters, Tommy Hanna, George Delong, Joseph Tomlinson, Silas Conklin, Thuel and Aaron French, --------- Richardson, Christopher Lawless, John Russell, Bead Johnston, Patrick Flannigan, Malachi Kelly, Patrick Donahue, Michael (or Soldier) Kelly, Thomas Culligan, Peter DeWitt, Isaac DeWitt, John Ormsby, Japeth Ingraham, Alex Delong, Jesse Davis, Samuel C. Reid, William Reade, Enoch Reade, Louis Reade, John Jenkins, Sloan Hamilton, John Barclay, James Kirkpatrick, Samuel B. Reid, Andrew Duncanson, Andrew Scroggie, Patrick O'Brien, James L. Hall. There was also "Timber" Dan Barnhill and "Prairie" Don Barnhill, being named from the locations of their residence; "Grey" John Supple and "Black" John Supple, the one driving a team of grey horses, the other a team of black horses.
Of all the names here given, William Eckler is the only one now living in Clay township. John Dennison lives near Onslow. John Russell died in October, 1908. Samuel B. Reid died in October, 1909. James Kirkpatrick lives in Onslow as also does Joseph Tomlinson. M. C. Walters died in the spring of 1909.
William Eckler came to Jones county first in 1851, but returned to New York state and in the year following, in company with his family and M. C. Walters and family, came to Jones county and made the frontier land their permanent home. Mr. Eckler has resided in the township continuously ever since.
This once busy center, began its existence about 1852. In that year, the spot in section 10 which afterward became a village, was inhabited, but it was not until the year 1853 or 1854 that William Eckler and James Hall erected the dam on the Maquoketa river and built the sawmill. This was run by water power. About 1863 or 1864, William Eckler and M. C. Walters built a steam mill which was then used for a sawmill, the old water mill about that time being fitted up for a grist mill. Both of these mills were familiar places to the older settlers of Clay township. It was these mills that made Clay Mills a place on the map and gave the spot the name of village. The village went by the name of Farm Creek as well as Clay Mills. M. C. Walters kept the first store, and in fact the only store. James Hall and William Eckler built the first houses. On May 30, 1867, the plat of the village was filed for record.
CLAY MILLS POST OFFICE
On November 7, 1863, the post office was established at Clay Mills, with Myron C. Walters as postmaster. Mr. Walters was reappointed November 19, 1888, and on December 24, 1900, upon the removal of Mr. Walters from the village, William N. Tippett, was commissioned postmaster. The office was discontinued February 28, 1902. At this time the rural route from Onslow was established. The mail to the Clay Mills postoffice was carried on the mail route from Onslow to Cascade.
OTHER MILL HISTORY
Mineral Creek which runs in an easterly direction through the southern part of Clay township, also claims some honors in the erection of saw and gristmills in the early history of the township.
At the bottom of what is familiarly known as Vassar Hill once stood a mill of some prominence. In the summer of 1852, Joel B. Taylor built a sawmill on Mineral Creek on the south side of the creek and on the west side of the road. It was a one and a half story building and was fully equipped with a Mulay saw, the only saw in the mill. The lumber in the old Madison Center schoolhouse in Madison township was sawed at this mill. J. F. Parks ran the mill in the winter of 1853 and the spring of 1854. In 1855 or 1856 John Vassar purchased the mill, and it was from his operation of this mill that the hill to the south of it receive its name. About 1860, the mill was abandoned for mill purposes and the building torn down.
The Hubbard sawmill was built on Mineral Creek about 1854. This stood on land now owned by Stephen Walsworth, either in or near section 35. This mill was built by Hubbard. It only ran for a few years and was then torn down.
The Diamond Mill was built on Mineral Creek further east. It was erected about 1850 or 1851 by Bert Diamond, and was always owned and operated by the builder. It was torn down in the latter part of the 60s.
Bodenhofer's Mill is better known to more of the later residents of the township. It stood on the banks of Mineral Creek on the Lime Kiln Hollow road, in the southwestern part of Section 28. This was built about 1852 and was a sawmill and also a gristmill. It was the only gristmill on Mineral Creek and was liberally patronized. Jacob Bodenhofer was the proprietor. The mill was torn down some time in the 80s.
The James Hall Creamery
The first creamery erected in Clay township was built by James L. Hall in section 17, in the summer of 1873. The creamery building was not a pretentious affair. It stood on the east side of the road and about forty rods south of the location of the old Carpenter creamery building. About the year 1876, the pioneer creamery building was moved north to a location on the east side of the road almost opposite the old creamery building. In the organization of this first creamery, the farmers in the adjacent community were rather skeptical of the advisablility of such a movement. The idea of raising calves on skim milk from a creamery was a new one, in the minds of some of the farmers, and the idea spelled ruin to their prosperity. The creamery was started however. Henry Haddock was connected with certain parts of the creamery business. James L. Hall was the pioneer butter maker in the township. The venture proved successful beyond the dreams of the most hopeful, and so much so that the former skeptics were now the most eager to keep a good thing when they saw they had one.
The Carpenter Creamery
After running the creamery a few years, Mr. Hall leased the building to Carpenter Brothers who ran it a short time, and then built the creamery on the west side of the road, this building being the one known in the modern age as the Carpenter Creamery. After operating the creamery for a few years, the business passed into the hands of G. L. Lovell of Monticello who leased the building to Charles Gilbert. Some of the farmers had not received one hundred cents on the dollar from Carpenter Brothers, and when a short time later in their dealings with Gilbert, this experience was repeated, it is no wonder the faith of the dairymen in the maintenance of the creamery business began to be shaken. A short time after the financial downfall of Gilbert, J. L. Bader of Cascade, purchased the creamery and conducted the business in a straightforward manner for a year or two and then closed the building. This building is now used for a barn, and stands on its original foundation on the premises of John Keating on section 18.
The Bader Creamery
The Bader creamery was erected by J. L. Bader in the spring of 1882 and was conducted by its proprietor and founder for a number of years. The institution did a flourishing business, and profited by the development of the dairy business under the old Carpenter Creamery. Nothing is left of the building now except a few boards standing at random, the remnant of an age that is past. This building on the north west corner of the crossroad, north of S. B. Reids residence in Section 17.
The Clay Cooperative Creamery
The Clay Cooperative Creamery was organized in the spring of 1896, the stockholders being composed of many of the most prominent and responsible farmers in the community. The officers were: president, G. B. Hall; vice-president, Henry Null; secretary, C. L. Butler; treasurer, J. Z. Mackrill; directors: John Dennison, D. W. Russell, T. L. Green and Chris Bramer. A. F. Carrier was butter maker. There were seven milk haulers, viz: James A. Scroggie, John Dew, John Stahlberg, Ed Sutton, Tom Hood, Albert Young and David Kennison. For about eleven years the business grew and flourished. A modern building equipped with modern machinery had been erected on the east side of the highway on the premises of J. Z. Mackrill in the northwest corner of section 29. The natural evolution of the dairy business, the introduction of the hand separators, the increasing expense of operation, the costly method of hauling the milk, soon began to influence the profits in competition with other creameries. These institutions became narrowed to churning stations, where no cream was separated. The hauling of cream simplified the dairy industry. Consequently the Cooperative Creamery was dissolved in the summer of 1907, and the creamery building and machinery sold. The stockholders realized less than fifty cents on the dollar of their stock. The creamery brought in many thousands of dollars to the farmers in the community during its existence.
At the present time, there is no creamery in operation in Clay township. In fact there are only three creameries in operation in the eastern half of Jones county, one at Oxford Junction, one at Center Junction and one at Scotch Grove.
The place now exists only in name. As a matter of fact it was never more than a post office, and in this capacity, the early inhabitants will tell you that the name is very familiar. The office was established October 11, 1861, and John W. Jenkins was appointed postmaster. On December 12, 1872, Hannah Jenkins was commissioned to perform the official duties of this position. The office was continued at the residence of the postmistress in the northeast corner of section 7. On January 25, 1894, the name of the chief officer at this mail station was changed, and Robert Snyder appears as the one in charge. The last person to be commissioned in this office, and the one following Robert Snyder, was his wife, Hanna Snyder, who again assumed the official title June 16, 1899. On September 30, 1902, the office was discontinued. The rural mail delivery from Onslow was established at this time, and furnished the patrons with daily mail. Prior to this time, the mail was carried on the route from Onslow to Cascade and was delivered about three times a week. There is no post office in Clay township at the present time.
THE FREE WILL BAPTIST CHURCH OF CLAY
The Free Will Baptist church was the earliest church organization effected in Clay township. On March 12, 1853, a meeting was held at the house of Myron C. Walters in Clay Mills for the purpose of organizing a church. A sermon was preached by Elder Donaldson from I Corinthians III; 9th "Ye are God's Building." After the sermon, the elder proceeded to ascertain how many wished to be organized into a church society. Six presented themselves with letters, viz: Reuben Green, William Hill, Myron C. Walters, Susan Maria Green, Margarette Walters; one presented herself for baptism, viz: Mary Hill.
After an examination regarding their faith, and finding they all agreed in sentiment with the Free Will Baptist church, the articles and covenant as laid down in the creed of that denomination having been adopted, the right hand of fellowship was given by Elder Donaldson, and prayer was offered by him.
M. C. Walters was chosen clerk, and the name of "Free Will Baptist Church of Clay" was adopted. M. C. Walters was chosen to apply, in behalf of the new organization, for membership in the quarterly meeting to be held with the Buena Vista church in April, 1853, and to represent the congregation at that time. On the request of Mr. Walters, made to that body, the Clay church was accepted as a member of the quarterly meeting.
M. C. Walters was chosen deacon and continued in that office until his removal to New York state about 1900. The present deacon is William Eckler, and the present clerk is W. N. Tippett. The deacons chosen at different times were: M. C. Walters, Lewis Beckwith, S. L. Carpenter, William Eckler. The clerks have been: M. C. Walters, C. W. Sutton, W. N. Tippett. The present trustees are: William Eckler, G. B. Hall, W. N. Tippett.
The church prospered in the early days of the township history and in due time, about 1865, a church building was erected at the location known as Frozen Hill. This building yet stands, and in the most recent years has been known as the Bethel Presbyterian church, though yet owned by the Baptist society. Here the community met for the worship of God and the study of His Word for many years. After some years the use of the building was generously offered to the Bethel Presbyterian church who used it conjointly with the Baptist church. Among the pastors of the Clay Baptist church have been: Elder Reives, Slater, Maxon, Anderson, O. E. Aldrich and George Bullock.
After many years of public testimony to their love for their Saviour, the Baptist congregation became so reduced in numbers by deaths and removals that they could no longer maintain regular public worship and this condition has continued to the present time. The organization has been continued, though no active part has been taken in the continuation of regular services.
THE BETHEL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The broad expanse of prairie lying north of the early village of Wyoming, had among its earliest settlers, several Presbyterian families mostly from Scotland and the state of Ohio. Previous to the year 1861, occasional services were held, Rev. George E. Delevan, who was in charge of the Presbyterian church at Wyoming at the time, was the preacher. This beloved pioneer died at Wyoming in the spring of 1861.
By invitation of some of the members of the Presbyterian faith, Rev. James L. Wilson of the Dubuque Presbytery, located at Scotch Grove, commenced preaching at John Paul's schoolhouse, known now as the Valley School, three miles north of Wyoming, in the same township. Rev. Wilson's first sermon there was on Sunday, June 16, 1861. Arrangements were made for the continuation of the services, and the appointments were maintained regularly once in two weeks until the close of the year, 1864.
At the beginning of the year 1865, the meetings were removed to a more central location and to a more commodious schoolhouse in Clay township, two miles further north. The attendance and interest at once increased. A part of the time services were held at the former location where the attendance and interest was well maintained. At the new place now called Defiance Hill, the first sermon was preached January 8, 1865. Besides the regular preaching of the Word, the Lord's Supper was frequently administered here, the session of the Scotch Grove Presbyterian church with the minister from the same place having charge of the sacramental service. On these occasions, as well as at the regular communion services at Scotch Grove, a considerable number of the people from this community were received as members of that church.
Previous to the commencing of the meetings at Defiance Hill schoolhouse, there was farther north, in the eastern part of Clay township, an organization of the United Presbyterian church, called Mt. Hope church, supplied with preaching by Rev. A. J. Allen, beginning in 1856. He having ceased to labor, and there being no regular supplies, the organization became languishing and disbanded in 1865. The records of that noble little church were lost in the fire which burned the house of the elder of the church, Mr. James Kirkpatrick, in the year 1859. This elder and the chief part of the members of the United Presbyterian organization a few years later became identified with the Presbyterian meetings being held at Defiance Hill. The members of this early organization were mostly from the Presbyterian church of Ireland, but some were from Scotland and other places.
In April, 1870, a petition was sent to the Dubuque Presbytery signed by a number of members of the Presbyterian society, and some others, asking for the establishment of a Presbyterian church at this place. Accordingly the Presbytery in session at Jesup, on the 27th of April, 1870, appointed a committee to attend to the matters at some time convenient to themselves and to the people. This committee consisted of Rev. Samuel Hodge of Hopkington, Rev. James L. Wilson, of Scotch Grove, and Hon. John McKean, a ruling elder of the Anamosa church.
The organization was effected at Defiance Hill, June 14, 1870, under the name of the Bethel Presbyterian church, the following persons entering the new organization by letter, mostly from the Scotch Grove church, viz: James Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Jane Kirkpatrick, William H. Chatterton, Mrs. Hilah S. Chatterton, Stephen R. Streeper, Matilda B. Streeper, Andrew Scroggie, Mrs. Grace Scroggie, Andrew Duncanson, Mrs. Marion Duncanson, David H. Orr, Henry P. Chatterton, Mrs. Alice P. Chatterton, Mrs. Jane Young, Mrs. Ann Reid, Mrs. Margaret Paul, Mrs. Mary J. Hawley, Mrs. Mary Neelans. John Paul was accepted as a member on profession of faith.
The organization was perfected by the election of Andrew Scroggie and Stephen R. Streeper as ruling elders. John Paul and James Kirkpatrick were elected deacons.
Of the above named charter members, five are still living, namely: James Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Ann Reid, Mrs. Mary J. Hawley, Mrs. Mary Neelans and John Paul.
The new church prospered and in due time the question of building a house of worship arose, and was discussed. A site for the building was chosen, and one thousand, two hundred dollars subscribed toward its erection, but about that time the railroad came to Onslow and the organization of a Presbyterian church at that place had a tendency to check the building plans of the Bethel church. About the same time, the Bethel church was generously offered the use of the Free Will Baptist church building. This offer was accepted, and in this building, the Bethel Congregation has held regular services ever since.
The following ministers have served as pastors since the organization of the church, namely: Revs. J. L. Wilson, John Rice, Henry Cullen, Alexander Scott, J. A. Hahn, Philip Palmer, J. R. McQuown, P. A. Tinkam, and the present pastor, S. B. McClelland.
The ruling elders have been: Andrew Scroggie, Stephen R. Streeper, Andrew Duncanson, Thomas Hamilton, John Neelans, William Fletcher, John Dennison, Isaac N. French.
The deacons have been: James Kirkpatrick, John Paul, A. P. Ornsby, John Dennison, David H. Orr, Ahab DeWitt, Joseph W. Orr, Robert Scroggie, R. W. Chatterton, C. S. Ames. In 1901, the office of deacon was abolished, and the office of trustee established. The trustees have been: James Kennedy, C. S. Ames, R. W. Chatterton, C. L. Butler, Robert A. Scroggie.
The church organization for 1909, is as follows:
Session: Pastor and moderator, Rev. S. B. McClelland; elders, John Neelans, William Fletcher and Isaac N. French.
Sabbath School: Superintendent, R. W. Chatterton; assistant superintendent, William Fletcher; secretary and treasurer, Miss Alice Green; organist, Miss Ina Young; assistant organist, Miss Alice Green.
Ladies Missionary Society: President, Mrs. Adella E. McClelland; vice-president, Mrs. Minnie Kennedy; secretary, Mrs. Fannie Hicks; treasurer, Mrs. Hattie Chatterton; secretary of literature, Mrs. Mary H. Neelans.
The church has pursued the even tenor of its way, sometimes making vigorous strides, at other times more lagging in its progress, but still advancing in the work to which it has been called, an uplift in the community and an honor to the Kingdom. A series of revival meetings were closed in the early part of October, 1909, which added much to the enthusiasm and strength of the church, the meetings being conducted by Evangelist Foote, with the assistance of the regular pastor, Rev. S. B. McClelland.
The Bethel church has never had a resident pastor. During the first ten years or more of its organization, the pastor of the Scotch Grove church also served as pastor of this church. About 1883 or 1884, the Bethel church and the Onslow church united in the support of the same pastor, the regular services in the Bethel church being held every Sunday afternoon, the pastor residing at Onslow. This relation has continued down to the present time. The church building is located in the southwest corner of section 17, in Clay township, the location being known locally as Frozen Hill. The church is a central institution in the community, and is the nucleus around which clusters precious memories and the influences for good which predominate in the country on all sides.
LATTER DAY SAINTS CHAPEL
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints built a church in section twenty-two, near the present residence of Ed Green in Clay township in the summer of 1897. This is a plain building twenty-eight by thirty-six feet and appearing about like the average country church. The building cost about one thousand two hundred dollars.
The local organization or "branch" at the time, had about fifty members, widely scattered throughout Jones and Jackson counties. Other branches have been organized within the same territory, and members in each case have united in the nearest church. At the present time there are about forty-seven members, many of these still widely scattered.
The following are some of the early members: Mr. and Mrs. James Johnson, Mrs. Louisa Myatt, Mariner Maudsley, Edwin Lowe, Miss Lizzie Haller, Mrs. Maria Kelsall, Mr. and Mrs. O. E. Green, Rachel M. Green, Susan Green, Willard Thomas, Amelia Thomas, John Wier, Cora Wier and D. J. Dierks.
The church has always depended largely upon missionaries sent out by the general church for its ministers. Among these were the following: John S. Roth, of Grinnell, Iowa; William T. Maitland, of Des Moines, Iowa; O. B. Thomas, of Lamoni, Iowa; John W. Peterson, Lamoni, Iowa; Oscar Case, Morehead, Iowa; Fred Farr, of Greene, Iowa; J. B. Wildermuth, Osterdock, Iowa; James McKerman, Muscatine, Iowa.
The church was dedicated by Joseph Smith and J. W. Peterson. The former is president of the reorganized church and a son of the original founder of the church established in 1830. A large congregation of people from all the surrounding country gathered to hear the man whose name had become famous because of its association with the Orientalism of Utah.
THE VILLAGE OF CANTON
The village of Canton, properly speaking is only partly in Clay township, but its early history is so much associated with the early history of Clay township, that a history of the township is not wholly complete without some reference to this once thriving business center. The assistance of Levi Waggoner, now eighty years of age, has been helpful in securing the data of this sketch of the Canton history.
Canton is one of the earliest settled towns in this part of the state. As early as 1843, we find J. E. Hildreth making improvements at the present site of Canton. In that year the Canton water power was first improved by J. E. Hildreth who built a sawmill on the east side of the Maquoketa river; this mill he operated about two years when it was destroyed by fire. After the fire he sold his interested in and around Canton to J. J. Tomlinson, and took up a new location on the present site of Ozark, four miles north, on the north fork of the Maquoketa River.
J. J. Tomlinson thus became sole proprietor of what there was of Canton about 1844 or 1845, and in addition became the owner of about eight hundred acres of land adjoining. Mr. Tomlinson now began to rebuild the sawmill on a much more extensive scale, a mill with a capacity of one thousand feet of lumber per hour. In connection with the sawmill Mr. Tomlinson built a machine shop for the manufacturer of all kinds of wood work, such as wagons, lumber, furniture, all kinds of lath work. The capital investment amounted to over twenty thousand dollars in this business alone. Mr. Tomlinson also built a grist mill and woolen factory on the west side of the river soon after or about 1845. This is the beginning of the mill about which the memory of so many of the early settlers of Clay township centers, and which was one of the most flourishing institutions in eastern Iowa for many years.
Mr. Tomlinson's business was now flourishing on both sides of the river. At that time there was neither grist mill or sawmill nearer than Dubuque on the north, and Anamosa on the west. And in those early days, Iowa was a wheat country, and wheat was a staple crop which gave Mr. Tomlinson a range of country more than forty miles in extent from which to draw his supply of wheat. His mill was never allowed to stand idle, day or night. The same was true of his sawmill and machine shop. The two mills together gave employment to over sixty men, in one way and another.
The merchandise business was not a whit behind the business of the mills. Between the years of 1852 and 1857, there were six well kept stores in Canton. The principal one was conducted by E. M. Franks. His stock consisted of general merchandise of the amount of eighteen thousand dollars. The Smith Bros., Tom and James, had stock of the value of ten thousand dollars. Tomlinson & Smith had a stock of six thousand dollars. A Mr. Dawson, two thousand five hundred dollars. J. Brenneman, two thousand dollars. William Lowe, hardware, two thousand dollars. William Hannah, drug store, two thousand dollars. There were also at that time four practicing physicians, towit, Dr. Thomas Gracey, Dr. Johnson and the Belden partnership, consisting of M. J. Belden and W. P. Belden.
About the same time E. M. Franks also conducted a packing plant through the winter season, with a capacity of handling one hundred hogs per day, although he handled dressed hogs only. This was the practice in that period of time, in all sections of the country, both east and west. Mr. Franks was also an extensive dealer in cattle and hogs and at most any time in the period of which we write, during the 50s, from three hundred to five hundred head of cattle could be counted in his yards at any time. He also had from three hundred to six hundred hogs on feed at any one time. In fact Canton was a first-class market town for anything the farmer had to sell in the line of cattle, hogs, wheat, corn, oats or hay. The store provisions were hauled from Dubuque, and the store keepers frequently took such products in trade for groceries and dry goods.
In those days, by far the greater number of teams were ox teams. Mr. Tomlinson at all times kept not less than twenty yoke of cattle at work drawing logs from the woods to his mills, and a less number in delivering the lumber to Dubuque, Cascade and other points.
These were years of Canton's greatest era of prosperity. About the year 1854, the grist mill, together with the woolen factory burned to the ground. In 1855, Mr. Tomlinson rebuilt the grist mill, but the woolen factory was never rebuilt.
About the year 1866, the Midland Railroad was projected, and the business men began to look for new locations along the line of that road. E. M. Franks bought several hundred acres about eight miles west of Canton along the proposed line of the road, and including the present site of Onslow. Mr. Franks now began the disposal of his shelf goods in quantities to suit purchasers. His fresh goods he moved to his new location at Onslow.
Mr. Tomlinson also made his escape to the gold regions of the Rocky Mountains, after selling his holdings to Dr. George Trumbull of Cascade at a price of less than one-half he could have obtained before the Midland road was built. From this time on, Canton's decline was rapid.
It was about this time that Dr. Trumbull sold his grist mill to Robert Becker, who in turn sold a one-half interest to a Mr. Peck, forming a partnership under the name of Becker & Peck. Under this partnership the business was conducted for several years, or until wheat became so scarce that the parties could no longer find it profitable to continue in business. Becker & Peck now dissolved partnership, and in the deal the grist mill remained in the hands of Robert Becker who operated in a small way on the slim supply of wheat that constantly grew less till the manufacture of flour was entirely discontinued. From that time, the mill was used as a feed and custom mill only. Mr. Becker, now thoroughly disgusted with his mill property, traded to one Alex Clark, for a half section of land in Kansas. Mr. Clark was a Scotchman with considerable business tact, and with his pleasing address he won friends, and for many years conducted a flourishing business grinding feed. Mr. Clark continued to operate the mill until about six years ago when he disposed of his mill property, and since that time, the mill has changed hands several times. L. B. Parshal is now the owner of the property, and if the present plans mature, the Canton mill property will be so revolutionized that its early owners would not recognize the place. There is no better water power in eastern Iowa than at Canton. There is a good water fall, and the foundation for the dam could not be improved. At this point, the banks of the river are of solid rock, and the bed of the river is of the same solid material. A dam properly build would stand for ages.
THE CANTON POST OFFICE
The Canton post office was established on July 15, 1844. Since that date when John J. Tomlinson received the first commission, the postmasters with the dates of their appointment, have been, in their order: Robert B. Hanna, December 10, 1853; Miles F. Simpson, April 25, 1854; Thomas Smith, July 29, 1854; Thomas Gracey, November 4, 1856; William A. Smith, August 24, 1857; William B. Hanna, July 20, 1859; John W. Dillrance, August 22, 1859; W. B. Hanna, August 19, 1861; James B. Camp, March 7, 1865; Leander B. Sutton, October 24, 1865; John W. Reade, June 5, 1867; John Baldwin, October 8, 1868; John T. Bayliff, June 15, 1869; George W. Kelsall, December 31, 1872; Lyman B. Parshall, March 30, 1886; John C. Ripperton, July 19, 1887; Alfred Frey, December 21, 1891; Hannah E. Ripperton, April 1, 1893; Alexander Clark, April 19, 1895; Ned L. Sutton, June 4, 1897; Robert H. Buchner, the present incumbent, April 23, 1908.
The Canton of today is but a remnant of its former prosperity. The old buildings are the undisputed habitation of bats and owls. One store, the mill, one blacksmith shop and a few scattered dwellings, including the schoolhouse and the mill, constitute the Canton of 1909.
OFFICIAL ROSTER CLAY TOWNSHIP
|1857—||Election held in Sutton schoolhouse, April 6, 1857. Trustees: S. R. Howard, J. P. Ames, Isaac DeWitt; clerk, John Russell; justice, L. G. Drake; constables, C. C. Sutton and C. Hicks.|
|1858—||Election held in Sutton schoolhouse, April 5, 1858. Trustees: Joseph P. Ames, S. R. Howard, and A. Gowing; clerk, John Russell; justice, Joseph Tyron; constables, William B. Gress and C. C. Sutton; supervisors: No. 1, Luke Potter; No. 2, Bethuel French; No. 3, James Hall; No. 4, Cyrus Anderson; No. 5, B. Sharpless; No. 6, Platt Jennings.|
|1859—||Election held October 12, 1858. Trustees: A. Gowing, B. C. Slater and Thomas Johnson; clerk, James L. Hall; assessor, S. R. Howard; justices, Joseph Tyron and J. Z. Mackrill; constables, William B. Gress and R. B. Wilcox.|
|1860—||Trustees: J. Ingraham, Richard Hayner and Isaac DeWitt; clerk, J. C. French; assessor, Charles F. Vincent; constables, Cornelius Hicks and William A. Smith.|
|1861—||Trustees: Jacob Bodenhofer, E. A. Cohoon and Joseph P. Ames; clerk, J. L. Hall; assessor, S. R. Howard; justices John Brinimon and William H. Peck; constables, George Howard and R. B. Willcox.|
|1862—||Trustees: William Paul, Japhat Ingraham and J. W. Jenkins; assessor, S. R. Howard; clerk, J. L. Hall; constables, R. B. Willcox and H. Smith.|
|1863—||Trustees: S. R. Howard, James McDaniel, Patrick Donahue; clerk, William G. Jenkins; assessor, E. E. Brown; justices, E. Harwood and Joseph Tyron; constables, John Potter and B. Grogan.|
|1864—||Trustees: William Eckler, Albert Howard; clerk, William Paul.|
|1865—||Trustees: G. A. Hanna, A. Howard and William Paul; clerk, R. Hayner; justices, William Eckler, A. Harwood; assessor, E. E. Brown, constables, R. B. Willcox, John Patton.|
|1866—||Trustees: Albert Howard, Hiram Dubois and C. W. Sutton; clerk, James L. Hall; assessor, E. E. Brown; constables, John Patton and R. B. Willcox.|
|1867—||Trustees: Albert Howard, C. W. Sutton, Daniel Canole; clerk, James L. Hall; assessor, E. E. Brown; justices, William Eckler and R. G. Dye; constables, J. F. Sutton and David Moore.|
|1868—||Trustees: A. Howard, J. L. Hall, S. L. Carpenter; clerk, W. H. Peck; constables, David McDaniel and J. F. Sutton; justices, William Eckler, A. Isenhart.|
|1869—||Trustees: Albert Howard, William H. Chatterton and William Gates; clerk, W. H. Peck; assessor, James L. Hall; justices, William Eckler and A. Isenhart; constables, W. A. Eckler and W. A. Smith.|
|1870—||Trustees: J. D. Barnhill, W. H. Chatterton and J. H. McDaniel; clerk, W. H. Peck; assessor, E. E. Brown; justice of the peace, C. W. Sutton; constables, W. A. Eckler and George Carr.||