« ForrigeFortsett »
not excelled in this county, or State. The village was founded by Henry and Lyman Morse, sons of “Uncle Philip" Morse, prominently mentioned in the history of Decorah. A saw mill was built there by Henry Morse in 1852. The plat of the village was recorded October 3, 1856. The Morse brothers lived there for years, and built a grist mill before they went away. Henry Morse built the grist mill for Joseph Speilman, at Spillville. Both the brothers finally went to California, having sold out their interest in Bluffton. "Greer & Boggs bought the grist mill, and ran it for some years, the first named member of the firm being John Greer who now has charge of the Greer & Hunter Mill, Decorah.
This mill, which is a prominent business institution of that part of the county, is now owned by Rice & Hale, the partners being Almon Rice, for some years holding the office of County Supervisor, as well as other offices and F. G. Hale for a time County Supervisor, and recently County Auditor for three successive terms, to January 1, 1882. Both are prominent and enterprising citizens of the county.
Bluffton is on the line of the proposed Iowa, Minnesota & Southwestern railroad, a reference to which and the tax list voted is found in the chapter of chronological history of the county, and for which the right of way is being purchased, as this is written, and paid for in cash, when demanded. The river here is spanned by a handsome and substantial iron bridge. The village, which contains about three hundred inhabitants, is connected with Decorah by a tri-weekly mail. The postmaster, A. H. Meader, is an enterprising, popular young man, who also keeps a store well supplied with general merchandise. J. J. Glossman & Co. also keep a good general store. Lange Moritz, Justice of the Peace, is one of the early settlers, while 0. E. Cooley, another old settler, can entertain you by the hour with reminiscences of early life.
The village has also a hotel, shoemaker, blacksmith, cooper and carpenter shops; physician, barber, and other small places of business. F. R. Fletcher, millwright, isone of the old citizens, and an active business man, now engaged in traveling for the sale of mill machinery.
The village of Bluffton is supplied with two churches, Catholic and Methodist. The population of the village is 102, and of the township, 807. The township as well as the village is settled with an enterprisising class of people, and especially with its prospective railroad and its fine water power, has a promising future before it.
This township is the first one north of Decorah. It takes its name from the "Canoe River," which flows through it and empties into the Upper Iowa, beyond the eastern border of Winne
shiek County. Its postoffices are Decorah, and Springwater on the Canoe River, 6 miles from Decorah, where is a good fall of water, and the mills where E. Blakeman manufactures excellent flour. Those residing in the northeastern corner get their mail, from Locust Lane, P. 0. in Pleasant township. Population of the township, 991. One of the well-known oldest settlers of the county, 0. W. Emory, came there on the 20th of August, 1849, and settled on the northwest quarter of section 17. Among the other settlers were John W. Hohn, who came here on the 30th of July, 1850, John Fredenburg, who settled on section 6, on the 20th of October, 1850, and Simeon M. Leach, who came on the 12th of May, 1851. Further particulars of early settlements are given in preceding pages of County History.
The beautiful grounds of Col. Taylor, described elsewhere in this volume, are in Canoe township, about six miles north of Decorah.
PLEASANT TOWNSHIP-LOCUST LANE P. 0. According to the tax lists, Pleasant township took its name and place in 1856. It is the eastern one of the second tier. The Canoe runs across the southern portion, and the Upper Iowa River across the northeast corner. Population in 1880 was 929. LOcust Lane postoffice is near the extreme northwestern corner of the township, has a population of about 25, and is on the triweekly mail route between Decorah and Hesper. I. T. Shipley is postmaster, and keeps a general store. It is 10 miles nearly north from Decorah.
"In the year 1850, two Germans from Pennsylvania, viz: John Klontz and Wm. Vale, pitched their tents in the northwest corner of Pleasant township, Vale choosing for his homestead what has since been known as the Locust Lane Farm, deriving its name from the locust trees that were planted on each side of the road immediately after the land was fenced in. John Klontz took up his ranch on the south side of Vale, and both went to work. . They made money, as everything they had to sell brought them good prices. Mr. Vale ona time enjoyed the privilege of holding all the township offices, except constable, at one and the same time. He was the first justice of the peace, the first assessor, and the first clerk the township had. He also built the first brick dwelling in Winneshiek County. Klontz and Vale have both since sold their farms and moved to Missouri. In the following year the first influx of Norwegians commenced. They were: Hover Evenson, Ole Magneson, and Erick Erickson, who came here from Cambridge, Dane County, Wisconsin, and Peter K. Langland, Lewis Peterson, Knudt K. Liquen and K, Erickson, from Illinois. Hover Evenson was the first blacksmith in the northern part of the county. He long since abandoned his trade, and attended exclusively to farming; he is one of the wealthiest farmers of his township. Ole Magneson and E. Erickson settled in the northeastern corner of the township. The latter is still on his old homestead, living in a house which has become somewhat noted from the fact that it is all built from one pine tree. The walls are
a solid plank, six inches thick, and only three such planks fron the floor to the ceiling in the first story and two above. The floors, roof-boards, window and door casings are from the same tree. It was all sawed up with a hand-saw, as the logs could not be moved from the place where the tree grew, on Pine Creek. Ole Magneson introduced the first reaper into the neighborhood, and was also the owner of the first threshing-machine in that township.
"In the year 1853. there was another influx from Dane County, Wisconsin, prominent among whom were Bottolf Olson, Magne Langland, H. Hendrickson, Sven Olson, Ole Thorson, and others. In 1858 Ole B. Olson was one of the first settlers of Dakota Territory, and was elected the first judge of the territory, which position he occupied until his death, in 1875. Erick B. Olson, the younger brother, was one of the first four men who climbed the mountains of Colorado in search of gold, in 1859."
“The first school-house was built at Locust Lane, in 1854, and served, also, a church for every denomination. The second school-house that was built is still standing, and is known as the Ellingson school-house. This was built of logs, quite large, and intended to serve as a church for the Lutheran congregation that was then organized in connection with Highland and Spring Grove. It was built mostly by private funds; every farmer would bring so many logs and work so many days. This district consisted of portions of four townships, viz: Pleasant and Highland, in Winneshiek, and Waterloo and Hanover, in Allamakee. The first school was taught by James Lennon, of Frankville township. The late Hon. Ole Nelson taught the first school in this house, and was also the first Norwegian Representative in the Iowa Legislature."
"In 1855 aud 1856, almost all the land was taken up, and what was not was bought up by speculators when the land office was in Decorah. Among those who came later may be mentioned K. Thompson, who became sheriff of this county in 1870, and was as good an officer as the county ever had. Also Peter Sampson, O. W. Ellingson, and the Johnson Brothers (of whom there were seven at one time). Tnere is also another fact worth mentioning, and that is this, that almost every one of the pioneers that came into the township in the years 1852-3-4, with the exception of one or two, are still living on their old homesteads, which shows that the pioneers must have been a strong, healthy and vigorous set of men.
This township is the western one of the central tier of the county. The Turkey River flows diagonally southeast through the township, a little west of the center, on it is Daubersmith's mill. Ridgeway railway station, post office and village is near the center of the eastern half, about one mile from the township line. Population of township in 1880 was 992. Ridgeway has a population of about 350, and quite a number of good stores, elevator and grain ware houses, and other places of business. D. 0. Aaker, late State Representative, of the firm of Galby & Aaker, is one of the prominent business men. S. Pike, hotel keeper, has been its historian in times past, and from his writings the present sketch is mostly gleaned.
“The first settlement was made in Lincoln Township in the spring of 1852, Knud Alfson built a small house and broke up a few acres on Section 27, while Lars Thompson commenced about the same time on Section 34. In the fall of the same year, Jacob Knudson and Kittle Sanderson established themselves on Section 22. The next year Gunder Kittleson, Albert Kittleson, Gullick Thompson, Tove Thompson and Thomas Thompson, settled in the immediate neighborhood, while John Seleir, 'Michael Farrel, Charles Straun, John Wholehan, Nels Olsen, Charles Junck, H. W. Klemme, Andrew Michael, Philip Kratz and Wm. Blackburn, came in during the two or three years following. "The township of Lincoln was formerly reckoned as an integral part of Decorah, an arrangement that did not last very long, as a reconstruction of the map was soon effected, by which the present township was apportioned to Sumner, and upon the authorized survey and platting of townships, was given its present name.
In 1866, Ridgeway existed only its name. About this time, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. P. railway having reached there, the railroad company built a house for their accommodation, and Mr. S. Pike soon after took charge of it. The building was 16x32 feet base, one and a half stories high, divided into several compartments, and ceiled throughout with good matched flooring. Mr. Pike with his wife moved into the house December, 4, 1866, a day ever to be remembered in their experiences of housekeeping. Though the ground had been frozen for some time previous, the heavy rains that had fallen the preceding week had thawed the earth again, and the different gangs who were grading the prospective grounds, and also a gang of track layers who were putting in a switch and laying a spur of track for present accommodation, had made the house a place of resort for shelter during the heaviest of the rains, and when they reached there about dark of that rainy December night, the prospect was dreary enough. Fred. Gashorn and James Kinney, antedate Mr. Pike's claim to the title, "oldest inhabitant," by about two or three weeks. They did not live within the limits of the present village, however, but were about a hundred rods below, the winter was unusually severe and protracted. the last passage of the snow plow being on March 28, 1876, and that after a three days' effort from McGregor.
No effort was made in the way of improvements until about a year after the road was completed to Cresco. In July, 1867, J. L. Flowers built a grain warehouse, and Gilchrist & Co. another soon afterward.
A drug store by A. M. Blakeman, and a general merchandise store were built the same year, and a post office established. A small depot building was also erected in 1857. The next year there were many other improvements, and business greatly increased.
Ridgeway was organized into an independent school district during the year 1875. It has a good school house, with an average attendance of scholars There is one church edifice in town, and that a small wooden structure built by a body of dissenterfrom the old established Lutheran Church among the Norwegians. The house is not completed, and is seldom vsed. The Methodists and Adventists hold meetings in the school house.
In the spring of 1874 (May 9), Rideway was swept by a fire that threatened to wipe out the entire village. The fire started in a small untenanted wooden structure on the corner where the Herchmer House now stands. A continuous blast from the south swept across the square, taking everything in the line of the wind. The weather had been very dry for some time previous, and the densely-packed wooden row fronting the railroad was simply a line of tinder boxes through which the fire swept without let or hinderance, and one hour from the time the alarm was given, four-fifths of the business interests of the town were in ashes. The fire originated with two little boys, four years old, lighting a cigar in the house above mentioned. The fire devoured everything in its course, including, besides the business row and dwellings,, four grain warehouses, the depot (unlamented), and a fine water-tank, which the railroad company had just completed. Daniel Rice, a saloon-keeper, in trying to save his money, was burned so that he died. The loss of property was very severe. The total number of buildings-stores, saloons, dwellings and barns-burned, were thirty-four, leaving fifty-nine unbumed, the latter being almost wholly dwellings and out buildings. A careful estimate of the total losses incurred amounted to $48,730, of which amount only $11,850 was covered by insurance.
Immediately after the fire the railroad company set to work building a depot. Instead of the narrow and cramped accommodations of the old trap dignified by the name, they have now ample room for every department of their business. The water-tank was also rebuilt, and with one of the best wells on the road, is an important adjunct in the management of its rolling stock. The village has
completely recovered from the severe losses it sustained by the fire. Its business interests have continued to increase, and, as a result, larger and better business buildings serve the accommodations of trade.
In 1877 Ridgway had a newspaper for a short time. The Ridgway Register, published by F. A. Howe.
MADISON TOWNSHIP. The eastern line of this township crosses the center of the county. In 1860 Madison was separated from Decorah township and given an existence of its own. The first settler was
Johannes Evenson, in 1850, whose marriage to Miss Catharine Helen Anderson was the first marriage in the county. The license was granted on the fifth day of October, 1850, and the ceremony was performed by the well-known Rev. N. Brandt, now pastor of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, Decorah, but then a wandering missionary. The hunt for the license, so as to take advantage of the presence of the minister and have the marriage performed, and the waiting for Judge Reed to return from Dubuque to grant the license, are more fully related in an early chapter of this history. Other settlers were Iver G. Ringstad and wife, June 30, 1851, on section 29; Ole M. Asleson and wife, July 12, on section 8; Gulbrand E. Wig, in September, on section 36; Helge N. Myron and Herbert Onstien, all in 1851. Edward R. Scott, now a prominent farmer of Madison township, settled there with his wife in 1854. Population of the township, 781. The residents get their mail at Decorah and Ridgeway. The Upper Iowa River runs across the extreme northeastern part of the township.
DECORAH. This township, city and county seat are described in the preceding chapter.
GLENWOOD TOWNSHIP. This is the eastern of the central tier of townships. The Upper Iowa River runs across the northern part. "Trout River" running north through the central part, empties into it. Population about 1.200. Woodville P. O. is about two miles southeast of the center of the township, on the Decorah and Waukon daily mail route, and Thoten P. 0. in the Rocksvold neighborhood, toward the northwest part. The Washington Prairie P.O., in Frankville township, and the Freeport P. 0. are convenient to some of the inhabitants. There are ample water powers and several mills in the township. The large spring and caves on and near the Decorah and Waukon road, are often visited by picnic parties from Waukon. The large cave not far from “Trout River” in the southern part of the township, is described in the account of pleasure resorts near Decorah, given in the preceding chapter.