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value from a few hundred dollars up to $20,000. By an appraisement made last year, the total worth of these houses was estimated at $117,150. Of the original log structures, erected by the pioneers, but two remain.
The streams of the county are spanned by bridges of all kinds, representing an actual outlay of nearly a quartermillion dollars. Thirty-eight of these are iron bridges, fourteen are stone-arch, four of combined iron and wood, and the remainder are substantial wooden superstructures upon solid stone abutments.
Of private buildings for public use an even better record can be made. The church buildings number nearly two score, or one to every 650 of population. Those of the Methodist denomination are most numerous, being a round dozen in number; but those of the Norwegian Lutherans (eight in number) are the largest and most costly. The Catholics have six structures, all large and fine buildings. The remainder are divided among the different sects, representing the Congregationalists, Friends, Episcopalians, Adventists and Universalists. In a few cases, and only a few, a church debt exists, but of a trivial amount.
This is the work of but little more than a quarter of a century. It is no longer a pioneer region. The foundations are all laid and well laid-for a broad and intelligent civilization, and the full enjoyments of all the comforts and few of the deprivations of life in a land which, if not "flowing with milk and honey," is rich in all the elements of agricultural wealth.
This review is fittingly supplemented with the following from the United States Census of Winneshiek county, for 1880: Bloomfield Township, including village of Castalia...
1,010 *Castalia village.
108 Bluffton township, including village of Bluffton.
807 *Bluffton village..
102 Burr Oak Township, including village of Burr Oak.
826 *Burr Oak village..
199 Calmar Township, including the following places.
2,043 *Conover village..
168 Calmar town...
617 *Spillville village
340 Canoe Township...
991 Decorah Township, including the following places.
4,559 Decorah City, including West Decorah..
3,524 Frankville Township, including village of Frankville.
970 *Frankville village..
158 Fremont Township, including village of Kendallville..
692 *Kendallville village.
75 Glenwood Township.
1,190 Hesper Township, including village of Hesper.
1,000 *Hesper village...
212 Highland Township
782 Jackson Township.
797 Lincoln Township..
Total.... *Unincorporated villages.
The War for the Union; Prompt Response to Calls; the First
Company and its Glorious Record; Battle of Shiloh; Surrender of Vicksburg; Battle of Atlanta; Our Heroic Dead and Wounded; Other Companies from Winneshiek County; the March to the Sea; Gallant Deeds to the Final Battle of the War; the Wounded Living and the Martyred Dead.
Winneshiek County may well remember with pride the patriotism of her devoted sons in the war for the Union. Immediately on the report of the attack of the rebels on Fort Sumter, men stood ready to respond to the call of the Government for troops, and within a week steps were taken, at a public meeting held at the Court House, to organize and offer a military company to the Government. That the people as well as officials of the county were prompt to encourage those who should step forward for their country's service, and care for the families they left behind, is shown by the following resolutions which were passed at the time by the County Board of Supervisors, and which were fully carried out:
“Resolved, That under the present aspect of national affairs it is the duty of every community to do its share toward the defense of our common country.
"Resolved. That it is the duty of the county to drill and cause to be equipped at least one company of men; that in order to do so an appropriation by the county, enabling every person to aid in his due proportion in the common defense, is most just and equitable; that the men who risk their lives and spend their time should be provided with the means to be of service as soldiers, and that an appropriation made in pursuance hereof should have precedence of all other claims; therefore,
"Resolved, That the county funds now in the hands of the treasurer of Winneshiek County, be and the same are hereby appropriated, not exceeding the sum of $2,000 for the purpose of equipping the military company known as the Decorah Guard', and that the Clerk of the District Court be and he is hereby authorized to issue county warrants to Levi Bullis, D. H. Hughes and C.C. Tupper, who shall constitute a committee for the negotiation of said county warrants, and the purchase of said equipments, the said committee first giving bonds to said county, conditioned that the said appropriation be used for the purpose designed, faithfully and truly.
“Resolved, that the families of each member of the 'Decorah Guard' receive the following weekly allowance during their term of service, viz: Three dollars per week for the wife, and one dollar per week for each child, to the extent of three."
Many of the actors in those stirring scenes are men from among us, while several who remained at home contributed these resolutions to Spark's History, and to it we shall be indebted for most of the remainder of this chapter.
On the 20th of April, 1861, just six days after the booming of cannon, heard at Sumpter, had sounded the alarm of civil war, a meeting of the patriotic citizens of Winneshiek County, and Decorah in particular, was held in the Court House. It was held for the purpose of giving expression to the outraged feelings of a liberty-loving people at the atrocious stroke made against human freedom and American liberty, and to declare their adhesion to the old flag that waved from the Court House dome above them.
The brave who died in the mountains of Arkansas, the marshes of Louisiana, the rocky fastnesses of Georgia, and the swamps of Carolina, are remembered less vividly by their old comrades as year by year passes away, and when this generation has gone there will be few to recall the names of the youthful heroes of Winneshiek County who faced fatigue and sickness, steel and ball, and died in the fierce front of battle, facing the foe, or fell victims to malarious diseases. But while their individual memories will have perished, the cause for which they died, the cause for which they perished, the cause of liberty and humanity will remain, and future generations will derive fresh courage to struggle for the right from the glorious example of the citizensoldiers who crushed the "Great Rebellion.”
It was Abraham Lincoln, our noble, martyred President, who said at Gettysburg, "The world will not long remember what we may say here, but they can never forget what we have done here." And it is a fitting thing that the custom of observance of May 30, of last year, as Decoration Day, has been established; a day when we can strew with flowers the graves of those who sleep in our cemeteries, and revive the memories of those who sleep in
distant or unknown graves, holding the names of them all in grateful recollection, and rendering more precious the heritage they have transmitted to us and to our children.
The meeting was called to order, and Capt. John H. Simpson made chairman. This distinction was paid the aged gentleman because of his efficiency in commanding and his co-operation with the first militia company ever organized in Decorah.
Capt. John H. Simpson was born in Ganston, England, March 22, 1796, and died at Decorah, July 2, 1869. He had been a member of the Royal Life Guards (Body Guard of the King) and as one of the battalion, was on his way to the field when the battle of Waterloo was fought. In 1828 he came to America and settled in New York City. He came to Decorah in 1850, and here for thirteen years he lived an honest, blameless life. He was elected Captain of the Decorah Guards on the formation of the company in 1859.
There are men yet living in Winneshiek County who remember the memorable meeting over which he presided, and how his patriotism gave vent, in the greatest effort of his life, in a patriotic speech that sent the blood tingling through the veins of every listener. In this speech he tendered the remainder of his life for the defense of his country, though the snows of 65 winters rested on his brow. He was not accepted. Younger men, with stronger sinews and harder muscles, volunteered their services.
But one week intervened before there was a reorganization of the Decorah Guards, and men better fitted for the hardships of a soldier's life superceded the members of the original company. The Decorah Guards, as they originally were, underwent a complete transformation, only three of the old company being retained in the ranks of the new organization. The old officers resigned, and new ones were elected. This was the first company of men in Winneshiek County to enlist in defence of the stars and stripes. They were men in the full vigor of life, men of sterling worth, the very flower of our young county, as the following summary of the company indicates: The oldest men in the company (two of them) were aged 36, one 34, one 32, one 31, one 30, one 29, two 28, three 27, three 28, six 25, eight 24, seven 23, ten 22, nine 21, nine 20, eleven 19, ten 18, making a total of officers and men of 85, with an average of 22 years, 8 months and 22 days.
The company was known as the Decorah Guards, until mustered into the service; then they assumed the name of Company D, Third Regiment of Iowa Volunteers. The officers of the new eumpany were:
Captain-G. R. Willett.
This company was enrolled in Winneshiek County, and ordered into quarters by the Governor of the State, May 21, 1861. The company left Decorah for Keokuk, their rendezvous, May 28, 1861, and was mustered into the United States service June 10, 1861. The date of the company's departure from Decorah for the scenes of war will remain a memorable one in the recollection of the hundreds of citizens who met on Court House Square to bid the boys a last farwell. The ladies had prepared a beautiful flag, which was presented to the company by Miss Carrie McNair, whom I feel compelled to more than casually mention; and in order to do so I shall be obliged to digress from the main subject.
Carrie McNair was born in Livingston County, N. Y., about the year 1832. She came to Decorah in the year 1860, at that period in our national existence when the very atmosphere was deadened with treasonable imprecations against the Union, and when the cloud of rebellion had so spread its mammoth proportions as to nearly obscure the bright sunlight of freedom. Being a woman of strong emotional nature, a lover of liberty and union, she early indentified herself with the Union side of the controversy that then threatened a separation of states; consequently, out of respect and appreciation of her noble nature, and her sympathy with the Union, she was chosen, of all other women, better fitted to make the presentation. In 1862, following the many bloody battles, and not infrequent disastrous engagements, Miss McNair felt that there was need of her services in the crowded hospitals. With a heartfelt desire to render the Union any services in her power, and an anxiety and willingness to alleviate the sufferings of brave men who had fallen wounded in their country's cause, she became a nurse in a soldiers' hospital at St. Louis. She served in this capacity until the end of the war, and furnished aid and comfort to thousands of poor unfortunates.
Following the presentation of the flag, there was a presentation of Bibles and Testaments. The scene was such as never had occured before, and was solemn, impressive and trying.
The Company, in vehicles, pursued their course to McGregor, and from thence to Keokuk, and from here, soon after, they were transported to scenes of active service, in Missouri.