Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

attorney; two elevators, a hotel kept by R. A. Kennedy, the general store kept by H. A. Baker & Bro., H. A. Baker being present state senator; and a number of other stores and places of business, a Methodist and a Catholic church, a school being connected with the latter, of wich Rev. Tierney is pastor. Ossian has a good public school, with an average daily attendance of over 100, of which J.C. Murphy is principal and Miss Sarah Owens assistant. The Ossian Creamery, C. W. Williams & Co., proprietors, makes about 800 pounds of butter a day on the average. The largest amount made in any one day 1,650 pounds.

The present officers of the town are: Mayor, J. Malloy; Recorder, C. J. Mills; Treasurer, (). Thompson; Trustees, D. Jack, J. Becker, T. R. Winn, John Collins, P. H. Mills.

T. B. Wood, who removed there from Calmar, published Ossian's first newspaper, which lived but a short time, as did also the one started in 1876 by one Morey. The Ossian Independent was started in 1878 by E. L. Howe, and was published something over a year. The Ossian Herald was started August 19, 1880, by L. C. McKenney. It was purchased in the summer of 1882 by T. B. Hanna, who died in September, but the paper will probably be continued. The first number of the Herald gave the following brief history of Ossian:

"Ossian, the second village in Winneshiek county, was settled by John Ossian Porter, a native of Pennsylvania, in the year 1850. The next settlers in this vicinity were the Brookses, who came eighteen months later. To Chauncey Brooks and wife was born the first white child in the township, a daughter whom they named Mary. Mr. Porter erected the first house, a log cabin 18x20, which was for many years used for a hotel and stage station. Erick Anderson was the first merchant, and John Case the first teacher; he taught a select school over Anderson's store. In 1870 a commodious brick school-house was built, which has since furnished ample accommodations for the scholars attending school. Thomas Larsen started the village cemetery, being killed by a runaway ox team. In March, 1876, the village was incorporated, with the following officers: Mayor, George McWilliams; Aldermen, James Kennedy, H.C. Burgess, Carl Eiler, s. D. Hinckley and J. J. Smith. Clerk, James Maloy."

John Ossian Porter, the first postmaster, and afterwards county sheriff, now lives on a farm in Springfield township.

Spark's History gives the following additional particulars of the founding of Ossian:

"The original town site of Ossian was laid out by its founder, John Ossian Porter, on the southeast corner of the section. It consisted of three blocks, in all fourteen lots. It was acknowledged by J. 0. Porter and wife on the 13th of April, 1855, and was filed for record in the Recorder's office of Winneshiek county on the 30th of April, the same year. Mr. Elijah Middlebrook did the surveying. Two years later, on the 8th of April, Capt. C. E. Brooks achnowledged the plat of the first addition to Ossian, which was accordingly placed on the proper record. It consists of six blocks, containing sixty-three lots. On the 8th day of October, 1864, Capt. C. E. Brooks acknowledged the plat of his second addition to Ossian, which consisted of thirty blocks, divided into lots. This plat was properly recorded. On the 4th day of May, 1869, he laid out ten additional blocks, and called it Brooks' Western Addition to Ossian. This, so far as the records show, was the last addition to the place, and, minus the vacaion of a few blocks by Mr. Brooks, is the Ossian of to-day.

"The year 1865 marked a new era in the history of Ossian. That which was the death blow of Frankville-the railroad-gave fresh life to Ossian. During this year the railroad was built past its door. Theyear before, C. E. Brooks made a fresh addition to the place, which was far-sighted, for town lots were in demand immediately. The following year the construction of numerous dwellings was commeneed, and business interests of various kinds multiplied.

"Ossian was nearly twenty-one years of age before a single church edifice had been erected. The Catholics erected a building for worship, which was the first, about the year 1869. About two years later the Methodists built a church."

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP--CASTALIA. This is the southeastern corner township of the county. The headwaters of Yellow River flow through its northern part. Population, 1,010. Castalia village and postoffice is about a mile southwest of the center of the township, and is on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, which reached there October 12, 1864. The population of Castalia by the census of 1880 was 108. It has two churches. A. W. Kramer, postmaster, keeps a general store, and there are other branches of business.

The bistory of Moneek, in a preceding chapter, is an early history of the settlement in Bloomfield township, in which it was located; as is also the brief mention of Rattletrap, the name given to Castalia in early times. Hamilton Campbell and wife, claimed by some-as previously recorded—to be the first permanent settlers in the country, came there and settled sections 23 and 26 on June 7, 1848. David Reed and wife, and Daniel Reed, settled there August 15, 1849. Other record of early settlers is found in that of early settlers of the county, in a previous chapter, John N. Topliff and Russell Dean, being among them.

GENERAL REMARKS. It will be seen that no attempt has been made to enumerate the churches and school houses in the different villages and townships but only prominent ones. The general enumeration has been given in a preceding chapter. Some of the finest churches are situated away from villages and are prominent landmarks on the rolling prairie, their location being such as to accomodate the residents of the country about them.

The voting places at general elections are one to each township, except Calmar, which has its first voting precinct at Calmar, and the second at Spillville, and Washington township, with its first precinct at Festina and the second at Fort Atkinson.

And right here the attention of the writer is called to the different spellings of the county,“Winnesheik.” The printer of this volume has caused the word to be spelled Winneshiek; it is so spelled in Sparks' history of the county, and in Tuttle's History of Iowa. But the people of the county almost invariably spell it "Winnesheik," and it is so spelled in Andreas' Atlas of Iowa. But, however the spelling may be, it is pronounced as if spelled "Win-ne-sheek," with the accent on the first syllable.

RIVERS AND RAILROADS. The Upper Iowa River, with its abundant water power, enters the county at the northwest corner, flows southeast to Decorah, and thence by a zigzag route leaves the county in general direction a little north of west. The Turkey river runs across the southwest part of the county and furnishes valuable water power. Tbe Canoe river is a small stream in Canoe and Pleasant townships. The Yellow river rises in the southeastern part of the county. There are numerous other small streams.

The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway enters the county at its southeast corner, and its main line runs diagonally through it in a northwesterly direction. From Calmar a branch runs northeast to Decorah, and the Iowa & Dakota and the Davenport branches in a southwesterly direction until beyond the limits of the county. The principal railroad stations are Decorah, Calmar, Ossian, Castalia, Fort Atkinson, Conover, and Ridgeway. The other prospective roads are referred to elsewhere.

SHAPE AND SIZE OF COUNTY--ITS CHARACTERISTICS. The townships were intended to be six miles square, but in completing the survey on reaching the northern line of the State it was found that it lapped over one mile into Minnesota, so the northern tier is but five miles wide from north to south, making the county 29 miles wide from north to south, and 24 miles wide from east to west.

We have previously given the position and boundaries of Winneshiek County. It's considerably over 400,000 acres are mostly arable land, well adapted to cultivation. The surface of the county is diversified, alternating between rolling prairie and timber, with bluffs along the principal streams. It has plenty of clay, sand, brick, and stone for building purposes, and its limestone out-croppings can be burned into a goodly quality of lime.

POLITICAL. In politics, on national issues the county is generally republican. But in county matters, party lines are not always closely adhered to, and frequently one or more Democrats are elected on the county ticket-occasionally, nearly all of them. The vote at the Presidential election of 1880 was Republican, 2,474; Democratic,1,415; Greenback, 212.

GEOLOGICAL FEATURES. The rocks exposed in Winneshiek County range from the lower sandstone as far up as the lower beds of the Galena limestone. The Lower Magnesian is seen on Canoe Creek, six miles north of Decorah, and is a hard crystalline rock of a light gray color. The central portion of the county is chiefly occupied by the Trenton 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 farmers 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 trimmings 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.

« ForrigeFortsett »