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EARLY SETTLEMENT. 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 male 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
came pouring into Lansing, to be transported by boat to the markets of the world. The commerce of the place in those olden times—in the times of wheat-was enormous, Lansing being for a number of years the best wheat market on the Mississippi river.
During these years the town increased wonderfully in population. Substantial business blocks were erected, elegant residences built, and many fine fortunes were made. In 1872 a railroad reached Lansing from Dubuque, constructed along the west bank of the river. To this enterprise the citizens contributed liberally, besides voting a five-per cent tax in its aid. The road is now controlled by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul R'y Co. The completion of this road to Lansing was an important event in its history.
Prior to this time the river was the only means of communication between Lansing and the world. With the closing of navigation each year this means of communication was removed, and until spring again restored it, such business as was done had to be carried on by teams driven on the ice from Lansing to Prairie du Chien, the nearest railroad town. The ice was always uncertain; hence the mails, and all kinds of business depending upon transportation to and from the eastern centers of commerce, were largely dependent upon that most uncertain of all institutions, the weather. During these early, ante-railroad days numerous efforts were made to construct an ice-boat, engine, or machine, that would supply the much-needed means of transportation between Lansing and Prairie du Chien. Parties at the latter place, at one time, constructed a huge iron monster, resembling a steamboat and locomotive combined, which they prepared to launch on the ice at Prairie du Chien, having given due notice to the towns and wood-boat landings above, just at what precise hour the wonderful invention might be confidently expected to arrive at their respective ports. A large portion of the population of Lansing remained awake for two nights anxiously watching and waiting for the arrival of the ice-boat, car, or what not it was called. But they waited in vain. It never came. And the complete or partial ice embargo of each winter was not removed from the trade of Lansing until the construction of the railroad before mentioned. This road, the Chicago, Dubuque and Minnesota Railroad Company, originally the Dubuque and Minnesota Railroad Company, was incorporated Dec. 16th, 1867. The names of the incorporators were: J. K. Graves, J. M. Merrill, Platt Smith, E. H. Williams, and Joseph Herod. On the 27th of January, 1869, J. E. Ainsworth reported his reconnoisance of the proposed line, and the next year capital was invested in the enterprise. The ground was first broken, with appropriate ceremonies, at Eagle Point, at 3 o'clock, Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 18th, 1870. Two years later the cars were running into Lansing. In recognition of the work that had been accomplished, and the many beneficial results which were expected to follow its completion, the citizens of Lansing prepared for a grand
RAILROAD CELEBRATION. Wednesday May 8th was set apart as the day for the ovation. Invitations were extended to representative delegations from all the towns on the line of the road and elsewhere.' To enable people to accept the invitations the railroad provided a special excurtion train which left Dubuque at 8:30 A. M. drawn by two engines, the "Lansing" and the "J. K. Graves,". both appropriately trimmed with flags and evergreens. There were over one thousand excursionists on the train, accompanied by the Germania Band, of Dubuque.
The train arrived at Lansing in safety at 2:15 P. M. and was received in royal style by salutes of cannon from the bluffs, and music by the Lansing Cornet Band. A reception committee consisting of Hon. L. E. Fellows, Capt. E. B. Bascom, Jos. T. Metcalf, Gustave Kerndt and Theodore Steidle met the party at the foot of Main street and escorted them to Concert Hall, where a magnificent banquet was spread. The movements of the vast crowd of strangers were admirably managed by Capt. E. B. Bascom, chief marshal, assisted by Maj. Samuel W. Hemenway, Capt. James Ruth and Capt. S. O. Smith. Concert Hall was beautifully decorated. The tables were arranged on either side of the hall, the ends towards the center carried around towards the stage.
On the stage and in the center was the Press table, arranged by Mr. C. W. Hufschmidt. The newspaper men who enjoyed its many luxuries reported at the time that "it presented a more tempting sight than editor, reporter or printer had ever seen. That it was a 'fat take all around." Just below the footlights was the Railroad table presided over by Hon. S. H. Kinne, then State Senator from Allamakee county, and his accomplished wife. Everything connected with this table was fully in accord with the Senator's known reputation for hospitality. At the right of the stage the mayor and council of Dubuque occupied table No.3, arranged by mayor Nielander, of Lansing, and arranged with entire satisfaction to the tastes and capacities of the parties occupying it. Table No. 5, was nicely ari anged by Mr. R. P. Spencer for citizens of Dubuque, next to this was table No. 7, arranged by George H. Bryant for Dubuque guests. Then came table No. 9, arranged by Theo. Nachtwey for guests from Guttenburg. Table No. 11, was arranged for guests from Clayton by Mr. W. A. Travis. Next to this was table No. 13, arranged by J. W. Thomas for guests from Waukon. The guests from Decorah were seated at table No. 15 presided over by Mrs. S. H. Hazleton. No. 17, next to the door was arranged by Mrs. Purdy for the guests from Harper's Ferry, De Soto and Dorchester. The first table on the right as you enter