Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

limestone, which gradually passes into the Galena in the southwestern part. At and about Decorah the Trenton limestone-of the Lower Silurian period—is finely displayed, this rock forming the whole thickness of the bluffs which border the river here. It is crowded with fossils, especially in some of its lower exposed strata, where were found the beautiful and wonderful specimens referred to in the sketch of Decorah. There is a thickness of from 100 to 130 feet displayed in the bluffs west of town, where the rock is a pure limestone of a light gray color, and crowded with fossils. Near Calmar the lower beds of the Galena crop out. At Ossian the rocks are similar, and at Ft. Atkinson the Trenton and the Galena appear.

POPULATION, PRODUCTS, RESOURCES AND FINANCES. The population of the county was 546 in 1850; 13,492, in 1860; 23,570, in 1870; and 23,937, in 1880. In the last decade, more especially in the early part, there was a falling off in the increase of population, a large territory being opened up to the westward, but there has been an increase in the past few years, and a prospect of a more rapid growth in wealth and prosperity.

A few years ago this was the banner wheat county in the State. Several failures of crops caused the attention of the farm'ers to be turned, to a considerable extent, to dairying and stock raising, the soil and face of the country, and its numerous springs, making it particularly favorable for those pursuits. The extensive Decorah, Ossian, Ft. Atkinson and Hesper creameries are mentioned in sketches of those townships, as are also the stock farms in Decorah, Orleans, Fremont and Hesper townships. But these by no means represent all the dairying and stock raising industries, which are scattered all over the county.

Notwithstanding the great progress of dairying and stock raising, grain growing will not be abandoned, but will have its place, and no insignificant one. Enriched by stock and the rotation of crops, the soil will continue the old fertility of our grain producing lands, and their products readily give employment to more mills and manufactories. There are in this county six mills devoted wholly or in part to the manufacture of flour for the eastern market, and sixteen more devoted to custom work,

There are scores of unused water-powers. The Upper Iowa River bas an average fall of eight feet to the mile, and affording more available water-power than any river in the State. In no part of its course are these more accessible than in the windings of the river at and near Decorah. The other streams also furnish abundant water-powers. Besides the principal streams, innumerable springs and the rippling streams that flow from them, furnish a lavish supply of pure water in all parts of the county. The county is rich in building material. Its fossilized limestone quarries are almost inexhaustible; from these were furnished the trim

mings of the Minnesota College for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind at at Faribault, and from the richer specimens of fossil stone, mentioned in the sketch of Decorah, are made many beautiful ornaments. Easily worked quarries of sandstone, in the eastern part of the county, furnished the elegant trimmings of the Norwegian Lutheran College, Decorah. In Washington and Orleans townships cream-colored brick is made that rivals the celebrated Milwaukee brick.

The finances of city and county are in excellent shape, as is shown in a previous chapter of County History. Out of debt, with good public buildings, churches and school-houses, plenty of substantial iron bridges over the streams, and all paid for, taxes, will consequently be low, and education and church privileges unusually good. It is a good place to live in.

CLIMATE, SOIL AND SCENERY. The latitude of Winneshiek County is about the same as central New York and Michigan, but the winters are less broken and changeable. Winter usually sets in about December 1st and sometimes earlier, and continues until March, with generally a “January thaw; the weather thereafter usually growing milder till spring opens; but without the sudden changes of New England, and the long, drizzling rains of the Central and Eastern States. The air is invigorating, bracing, and wonderfully pure. No district in the Union will excel it in sanitary considerations. An article in the Decorah Republican has thus admirably and truthfully described the soil and the face of the county:

"The soil of the county is not excelled. It is a rich black loam with a depth of from one to six feet. It has a slight admixture of sand, just enough in quantity to make it friable and easily worked. It is well known to the scientific farmer that the land best suited to most small grains, and in which the earthy, saline and organic matters are distributed in the proportion best adapted to impart fertility and durability, is a soil based on the calcareous rocks. This condition particularly characterizes the country bordering on the Mississippi and its tributaries in this latitude, as well as for a distance above and below.

“The county is well timbered, nearly, all the larger streams being bordered by a growth of both hard and soft woods. Originally about three-eighths of the county was prairie, and the same proportion burr oak openings. The openings have been mostly cleared and improved, having now the general appearance of prairie."

Truly this is a goodly County of a goodly State. May the true spirit of enterprise richly develop its ample resources, and the children of the present be worthy successors to the pioneers of

the past.

HISTORY OF ALLAMAKEE COUNTY,

CHAPTER I.

BY E. M. HANCOCK.

Prefatory; Origin of County Name; Topography; Geology; Arte

sian Wells.

"The lapsing years joined those beyond the flood,

Each filled with loves, griefs, strites and honest toil;
And thus, as shadows o'er the checkered plain,

Children their fathers followed to the grave,
The fruitage of their lives and deeds is ours.

-The Annalist. A history of our county must necessarily consist largely of narratives of a personal or biographical character, as the history of a comparatively few individuals is the history of this entire region during the early days of which we are called upon to write. It is eminently fit and proper that the deeds of these pioneers should be placed on record in a convenient and permanent form for preservation, ere the hand of the relentless harvester has plucked the last of them from among us, and sealed their lips forever upon the facts they might relate regarding the early settlement and development of the country, which will be of increasing value and interest to their children, and children's children, as the years grow upon years. Already have so many of them gone to that bourne whence no traveler returns, that anything like a complete record of the settlement and organization of the county is beyond the bounds of possibility. It seems hardly credible that no record of the organizing election of Allamakee County can be found either among the state or county archives; but it would appear that the organizing Sheriff had failed to make report of such election; and not even the scratch of a pen remains of the transactions of county business under the old Commissioner system. In some instances not the slightest record is to be found regarding township organizations. And now:

"Beneath those whispering pines, that oak tree's shade,

Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his warm cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep."

-Gray. To collate the facts still accessible and record the history of the works by which they have left us so goodly a heritage as is our fair county to-day, would be a pleasing task were it not so

fraught with difficulties and disappointments, because of the failing memories and consequent conflicting recollections of those still left who were witnesses of and participants in the events of the early days. But if this work is ever to be done the time is opportune.

In the preparation of these pages great care has been taken to verify dates and statements by such records as are obtainable, and to corroborate by cumulative testimony. Errors will doubtless be found, but we believe that in the main the history is accurate and reliable. No similar work has heretofore been attempted, and we therefore have nothing to build from as a basis. The writer is indebted to the valuable and interesting sketches prepared for the Makee township Early Settlers' Association in 1880, by G. M. Dean, and to the sketches by John Bryson, and others, for quotations here and there; and by diligently poring over old newspaper files he has discovered numerous items of interest bearing upon our early history, and establishing dates that could not otherwise be obtained. To those who have in any manner aided in his researches, he would express his thanks. If he has, in the time and space, to which he was limited, succeeded in putting together in permanent shape and convenient for reference the more important facts relating to the county history, and in an acceptable manner, it is all he expected to accomplish.

NAME.

There are two theories as to the origin of the name "Allamakee," each of which has its supporters. One of these theories is that it is the name of an Indian chief. The other is about as follows, as we find it stated in the proceedings of a meeting of the Early Settlers' Association of Lansing, published in the Mirror of Nov. 28, 1879:

“Dr. J. I. Taylor spoke of the subject of the selection of the name of the county, as he had it from John Haney, Jr., deceased. It was his recollection that David Umstead, in the Legislature from this unorganized portion of the state, gave the county its present title. An old friend of Umstead was Allen Magee, an Indian trader, who was familiarly known to the Winnebago tribes, and, in their guttural dialect, called Al-ma-gee. Calling to mind this fact, Mr. Umstead caused the name 'Allamakee' to be inserted in the organizing act, and it was thus legalized."

Which of these theories is correct we will not attempt to decide, although we incline to prefer the first. According to the official records “David Umstead" did not represent this section in the Legislature which organized this county (the Second General Assembly). Samuel B. Olmstead was a member of the First General Assembly, which held two sessions: Nov. 30, 1846, to Feb. 25, 1847, and Jan. 3, 1848, to Jan. 25, 1848. During the first of these sessions an act was passed defining the boundaries of sev

eral counties, among them the then unorganized county of Allamakee, and it is probable its name was officially given at that time. David Umstead was a member of the Second Constitutional Convention, in 1846. We have been to some pains to investigate this subject, but find nothing fully authoritative. Col. S. Č. Trowbridge, a resident of Iowa City, who came to Jowa in 1837 and surveyed and organized Johnson County, states positively that "the name Allamakee is an Indian name purely, all speculative theories to the contrary notwithstanding.'

TOPOGRAPHY. Allamakee County occupies the extreme northeastern corner of Iowa, with the Mississippi river on its eastern border, Minnesota on the north, and Winneshiek and Clayton counties on the west and south respectively. It is about twenty-nine miles in length from north to south; twenty miles from east to west at the northern line, and twenty-eight in extreme width through the center tier of townships, averaging about twenty-three; giving an area of 664 square miles. At the southern line of the County the Mississippi river is about 625 feet above the sea level. Along the river front the County is bordered its entire length with a bold outline of bluffs from 300 to 400 feet high, from the tops of which the surface gradually slopes upward until at Waukon, eighteen miles back, it reaches an altitude of 655 feet above the river at low water mark.

The Upper Iowa River and its tributaries water the northern portion of the county; Village Creek and Paint Creek take their rise near its centre and flow eastward into the Mississippi. The former north and the latter south of east-while the Yellow River takes its course through the southern tier of townships. These streams have all cut their channel deeply into the rocks, especially the Upper Iowa, which flows through a narrow, winding valley, with bluffs on either side which have an elevation near its mouth but little less than those along the Mississippi. In many places the fall of these streams is quite rapid, furnishing the very best of water powers. Along the courses of the Iowa and lower part of Yellow Rivers, and a strip four to six miles wide on the river front, the surface of the country is of course, rough and badly broken, but much of this bluffy country is well wooded, as are also many of the valleys of the streams, as well as the uplands in some portions of the county. Back from the river the county rpresents a more attractive appearance to the agriculturist. The oak and hickory openings, the rich hazel-brush lands, the prairie with their deep, black loam, the warm and sometime sandy valleys, together with the rich alluvial deposits of the river bottoms, afford a diversity of soil well adapted for all his purposes.

The prairies occupy the central and western portions ofthe county, as well as parts of the extreme northern and southern

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »