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FIRES. The more noteworthy fires which have occurred in Waukon are as follows: On the night of Sept 13, 1870, a fire originated in M. G. Belden & Son's blacksmith shop, standing where Martin's furniture store now is, destroying all on the northeast corner of Main and Allamakee streets, comprising the blacksmith and wagon shops of Belden & Son, the flour and feed store of R. Isted & Son, and the boot and shoe shop of A. Plubiska. Total loss about $3,700, insured for $1,900.
On Sunday morning, April 14, 1878, before daylight, a fine originated in Farley's saloon on the north side of Main street, and consumed that and the Rankin building next west. Loss $1,025; no insurance. The Rankın building was an old land mark, built in '56 or '57 by Uriah Whaley, and had been used for various purposes in its day. The second story was once used for school purposes; and the upper part at one time served as a lock-up for criminals awaiting trial.
On the night of August 16, 1878, a fire was discovered about 10:30 o'clock raging in the wall of Farnsworth's frame store building and dwelling, on the north side of Main street, and destroyed the frame row of stores on that street, and stables, etc. to the northward, comprising: J. P. Farnsworth, two story grocery store and dwelling; W. A. Pottle, two story building occupied by Bentley with jewelry; Carter & Eaton, boots and shoes, and Miss Dean, millinery; Nesmith & Gilchrist, two story building, occupied by drug store; Pleimling, tailor shop, and two families; Luther Clark, three story residence and store; L. 0. Bearce, one story harness shop; Lewis Reid, one story and basement saloon; Sam'l. Huestis, two story building occupied below by Miss Townsend's millinery rooms, and offices above; A. H. Hersey and M. Stone, two story warehouse; John Rankin, small barn; Tovey & Goodykoontz, large hotel barn and sheds. The total loss amounted to about $12,000. Although some supposed the fire to have been incendiary, not until more than fifteen months had rolled by was the evidence sufficiently developed to warrant any arrests. December 1879, Wm. Hennessey, H. A. Hewit and Cliff. H. Wood were arrested for the crime. The first had been keeping a saloon which bore the reputation of a bad place, and which the two others, young men were in the habit of frequenting. Hennessey was placed in the Decorah jail in default of $10,000 bonds, while bail for the others was fixed at $500 each. Hennesey's trial took place in May following, resulting in a verdict of guilty and sentence of twenty years in the penitentiary. On this trial H. A. Hewit testified that he and Cliff. Wood were in Hennesey's saloon on the night of the fire after the others had all gone home, and that Hennessey went behind the bar and took up a beer glass in which was a ball of candle wicking, and said he had had it soaking for two
days in kerosene; and that Hennesey put the ball in Wood's coat pocket and told them to put it in a knot hole which they would find in the siding of Farnsworth's building and set it a-fire; that they did so, Wood putting the ball in and Hewit applying the match; and that although he had been drinking considerable that day he knew enough to know that he was setting the fire, etc. Wood's testimony corroborated Hewit's in all essential particulars. Hennessey appealed, but the decision of the lower court was affirmed. Wood and Hewit took time to plead, and bail was fixed in $2,000. At the next December term Wood plead guilty and received a sentence of four years. Hewit plead not guilty
and the case was continued. At the May 1881 term it came to trial, when the jury disagreed. The case was continued from term to term until May 1882, when it was finally tried and the jury brought in a verdict of not guilty.
History of Lansing: Early Settlement; Resources and Commercial
Facilities; Railroad Festivities; Population; City Government; Fire Department; Water Supply; Death of Capt. Hemenway; The Local Press; Churches and Societies; Original Town Proprietors; “Wild Jim.”
BY DICK HANEY.
Lansing, the largest town of Allamakee county, is situated on the Mississippi river, twelve miles south of the Minnesota state line, and eighty-one miles north of Dubuque, in a valley which is about one mile in width, and through which flows a beautiful stream called Clear creek. The business portion of the town is built upon a high bench of ground at the foot of Mt. Hosmer, one of the most noted bluffs on the river.
The town, when viewed from the river, appears to be entirely surrounded by rugged hills. In summer, when these hills are clothed in garments of richest green, the town lies half hidden among its shade trees, and the shadows of the bluffs, as heautiful a place to look upon as can be found anywhere in the Mississippi valley. The high ground upon which the principal portion of the town is - built, runs down to the river, leaving a bold, rocky shore, along which flows the main channel of the river, affording at all seasons of navigation an ample supply of water, and landing places for all kinds of upper river steamboats.
This truly beautiful town site was first occupied in 1848 by a man by the name of Garrison, who had made a claim, and was living in a small cabin where the town now is, when, in the fall of that year, John Haney, Sr., came to the place, in company with his son James. Soon after Mr. H. H. Houghton, of Galena, Ill., purchased Garrison's claim, and in company with John Haney, Sr., secured all the land lying in this beautiful valley for a distance of three or four miles, and in 1851 he and Mr. Haney laid out the town of Lansing.
Among the early settlers were: James Haney, John Haney, Jr., G. W. Gray, G. W. Hays, James I. Gilbert, W. Ballou, F. D. Cowles, J. W. Remine, A. L. Battles, I. B. Place, H. M. Travis, J. 1. Taylor, E. Hale, and G. H. Battles.
The first marriage in the place was that of James Haney and Rachel W. Hurton, which occurred Feb. 5,1852.
The first white wale child born in the place was Frank Cowles. The first female child Alberta Hale. The first death was that of Fanny Haney, the daughter of John Haney, Sr., who died April 19, 1850.
The first merchant who located in the new town was F. D. Cowles; the first lawyer was J. W. Remine; the first doctor, J. I. Taylor.
The first hotel was kept by Dr. Houghton in a little log building on Front street, just north of Williams street. The first frame building was a store erected by F. D. Cowles in Aug., 1851. It stood on the corner of Front and Main streets, north of Main.
The first frame house erected in the town was the “Lansing House,” which is still standing on Front street, north of Main, and is occupied as a hotel. It was built by Abraham Bush in the fall of 1851. F. D. Cowles opened the first stock of goods in the fall of 1851. The first drug store was kept by I. B. Place on Front street, near the Lansing House. It was opened in the fall of 1852. The first justice of the peace was an Englishman named Luckins.
From its earliest settlement Lansing grew steadily, and enjoyed a prosperity not surpassed by any town in the west. It was known to have one of the best steamboat landings on the river, and in a few years after its first settlement became the supply point for a vast tract of country in northeastern Iowa and southern Minnesota, which was then being rapidly settled. Emigrants from the east and all parts of Europe came by hundreds, seeking homes among the then beautiful valleys of Allamakee, and on the prairies beyond. These people came by boat and made their way west with ox-teams, or on foot, as best they could. Soon the fertile soil of this new land began to yield its harvests of golden grain. For a distance of more than one hundred miles west, and nearly as far north and south, wheat and other kinds of grain