Scott Co, Iowa USGenWeb Project
HISTORY OF BLUE GRASS TOWNSHIP
"From History of Scott County, Iowa 1882 Chicago: Interstate Publishing Co."
Surnames: Acton, Burnside, Bruin, Berringer, Barnford, Barclay, Barnes, Baker, Beatty, Benchoff, Bock, Catlin, Coleman, Cessna, Coates, Cleland, Clark, Carpenter, Calvin, Clawson, Cook, Dorsey, Dunlap, Daniels, Dowd, Donahue, Dorman, Dietz, Elrod, Foster, Friend, Fintel, Grant, Gabbert, Gadd, Gay, Goodwin, Greebe, Greenwald, Humphrey, Harris, Hardy, Honn, Hench, Haskell, Holmes, Johnson, Jennis, Jones, Kelley, Keferstein, Lewis, Lyon, Light, Leader, Metteer, Moore, Mounts, Morey, McGarvey, Mason, Mead, Miles, Meeke, Moss, Nicholson, Nott, Neal, Percell, Poston, Pike, Perrin, Parker, Reasoner, Robison, Ray, Reynolds, Sry, Shutt, Sanders, Stryker, See, Shann, Smith, Sharpman, Souerman, Sargent, Sutton, Schwarting, Sears, Stockdale, Tolles, Thomas, Tull, Tanner, Venard, Vanlew, Van Evera, Wallaco, Wilson, Williams, Ward and Yates.
The township of Blue Grass comprises all of township 78 north, of range 2 east of the principal meridian. It is nearly all prairie land. The notable groves are Little's, Picayune and Blue Grass Point; the latter has been all cut off and grubbed out, and the others have but very little large timber now standing. Some young burr-oak timber is growing in two or three places in the southeast part of the township. The surface is undulating, and the soil a deep, rich black loam. The township is all now under culitivation. The C., R. I. & P. R. R. runs through the northern part of it. The water shed is in sections 19, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, and through the northern tier of sections in the township. From these two sheds the water flows to all points of the compass.
The name of the township originated as follows: An old and long-used Indian trail leading from Davenport to Moscow and the Cedar River passed by a point of timber on section 31. This point seems to have been used by them as a favorite camping place, and with their ponies they killed the prairie grass, which there grew luxuriantly. In its stead spraug up blue grass, and the place was ever afterward known as Blue Grass Point. When a postoffice was established in the neighborhood, it was given the name of Blue Grass, and the township was also so named.
Rufus L. Catlin settled on section 31, in 1839; and in the spring of 1839 he rented a small cabin three miles distant from his contemplated home in Muscatine County, and then built a rail pen on his claim, and took his daughter Lousia to keep house for him, leaving his family in the cabin in Muscatine County. His daughter was then but 11 years of age, but was able to attend to all the household work of that humble pioneer home. The cooking was done in primitive style on the ground, but many strangers were entertained by herself and father while the better cabin was being erected. The latch string was always out. In a few weeks the walls of the new log house were up, half the roof on, and enough floor laid to set a bed on, when the family moved into it. The house was in this unfinished condition when the child Almira, the first in the township, was born. The little 11 year old house-keeper is still living, and is the wife of S. C Dorsey.
Rufus L. Catlin was born in New York, and is of English descent. He married Cynthia Lewis, by whom he had six children, three of whom are yet living - Louisa, Almira, and Henry. A son, Rufus B., died in Indianapolis, Ind., May 20, 1878, at the age of 39; a daughter, Arminda, died May 1, 1848, aged 13; Leander, when a small boy. Mr. Catlin died June 20, 1875, in Kansas City, where he removed in 1865.
Charles and George Metteer settled on section 33, April, 1839, and by many are considered the first settlers in the township.
Joseph Wallace settled on section 31, 1837. He was drowned in Iowa River, near Iowa City, some years ago. His family resides now near Iowa City.
Mr. Yates, from Illinois, came in 1837 and located on section 31. He left the county in 1837, and went back to Illinois, and while there sold his claim to John L. Sry.
Robert and Peter Wilson, bachelor brothers, from Scotland, first settled in Cedar County, and then in Blue Grass Township, Scott County, about 1839. They located on section 32.
Among the other settlers were Samuel and Francis Little Alexander and Horace Dunlap, Henry Shutt, James Grant, Peter and Robert Wilson, Robert Brunside.
Mr. Foster, the Wing candidate for county commissioner, handed us the following little article for publication accompanied by a goodly slice of Father Bruin, which we pronounce superior to one of Moore's best sirloins. We hope Mr. Foster will run as well as successfully in the political chase as he did in the following chase which he so well describes:
Blue Grass, Scott County, Oct. 14, 1846.
Mr. Sanders: - Between 12 and 1 o'clock of this day, a very large bear passed my house within a few rods of the door. Having a horse at hand ready for the chase, I procured a shot gun - no other being at hand, and thus equipped I pursued old Bruin a mile and a half, which brought me up with the object of my prusuit. Not thinking it prudent to attack with small shot I commenced calling for help, which soon brought young, Mr. Humphrey to my assistance with a rifle and a few dogs. We then commenced firing upon the bear, which gave a running fight for about half a mile through a corn-field, after which he ascended a tree on the premises of Mr. Gabbert. At this time we were joined by two or three more good Whigs, and then, you may be sure, we had fine sport. The eleventh discharge took effect and laid the bear dead. His weight was supposed to be 300 gross; the net weight 214 pounds; hide weighed 34 pounds. The animal measured eight feet in length when stretched. While in the act of dressing our prize some half dozen of our Democratic friends came up. It appeared that they had got a glimpse of the beast, but were unsuccessful in pursuit. We claim a Whig victory, which we trust is a prelude to a more glorious one on the 26th.
The settlers of Blue Grass Township first held services in 1839 at the residence of Mr. Berringer, at the funeral of his wife. There are now three churches in the township, the Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist. The first church edifice was erected in the township in 1853 or '4 on section 3 by the Presbyterian denomination. It was used for several years, then sold and moved away.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, of Blue Grass, was organized in the spring of 1859, by Rev. Friend. At the organization 42 persons were received as original members. The first religious services of this church were held in the Baptish church of Blue Grass. The names of the first officers of the church were as follows: George Percell, V. F. Nicholson, J. E. Burnside, D. Lyon, Joseph Mounts, William Johnson, Thomas Venard, William F. Tolles. During the same year the church erected their first house of worship in Blue Grass, size of building, 26 x 36, and one story high, valued at $550. In 1879 it was removed to Cross Roads, where it is still used as a house of worship by the M. E. society. The present church was erected in 1879, during the pastorate of Rev. C. S. Jennis. It is a beautiful specimen of architecture, designed by the Rev. J. R. Reasoner. Size of audience room, 40 x 46; parlor on south end, 20 x 20; height of ceiling, 20 feet; height of main spire, about 70 feet; heated by furnaces; value of building, $4,000, present insurance on same, $2,500. The first pastor was Rev. Friend, who served the congregation in that capacity for two years, from 1857 to 1859. During his services he conducted a revival which resulted in the addition of 42 members to the church on probation. In 1859 Rev. A. Stryker became pastor and stayed two years. He held a revival during his stay which resulted in 43 conversions, 40 of whom joined the church on probation. In 1861 Rev. John Elrod served th e chruch as pastor for one year. Rev. William Poston was the fourth pastor and continued with the church two years. In 1802 he was succeeded by J. T. Coleman, who remained one year and was then succeeded by Rev. J. Harris in 1865. Rev. G. W. Barnford was the seventh pastor and stayed with the church two years. O. P. Light took charge of the church in 1868 and remained two years, after which Rev. C. Morey came, in 1870. During his stay the congregation enjoyed a revival; 112 were converted and 103 united with the church. In 1871, Rev. M. See became pastor and remained one year. In 1872 Rev. J. Pike began his services as pastor and remained two years. He was succeeded by J. B. Hardy in 1874 who also remained two years. In 1876 S. H. Thomas became pastor and stayed with the church three years; was then followed by C. S. Jennis as pastor in 1879 who remained with the congregation two years. W. H. Honn took charge of the church in 1881, and stayed one year. Rev. H. V. Tall is the pastor at the present time. He held a series of revival services beginning January 1 and continued nearly five weks, at which a great deal of interest was manifested; 40 confessed to be converted, 30 united with the church on probation, and three by letter. Present officers: Class Leader, James E. Burnside; Stewards, Recording, J. Gadd; District, James E. Burnside, Thomas Cessna, John L. Coates; Trustees, James E. Burnside, Thomas Cessna, John L. Coates; Benjamin Johnston, Thomas Venard, James Mc Garvey. Those in full membership with the church, 59; probationers, 33; total, 99. The church is in a prosperous condition and unity and peace prevail. The Sunday-school of this church was organized Nov. 15, 1870. First superintendent, William Poston. Names of present officers: Supt., Mrs. H.P. Tull; Ass't. Sup'., Dr. B. T. Gadd; Sec., Louise Fintel. Teachers, B. T. Gadd, Rev. H. V. Tull, Thomas Cessna, Mrs. F. Vanlew Mary Acton, Emma Fintel. Average attendance about 75
The Presbyterian Church was first organized in 1852, at the residence of the late Mary E. Robison, by James D. Mason. The original members were: James Wilson and wife, Robt. S. Wilson and wife, Robert Humphrey and wife, J. H. Robison and wife, Mary E. Robison. Officers: Elders, Robert S. Wilson, James H. Robison. Robert Humphrey. The first services were held by Rev. Enoch Meade at a school-house which stood on the northwest corner of section 3, Buffalo Township. Pastors: Revs. Enoch Meade. Cleland, George Ray, William Shann, John M. Jones, J. D. Mason, Barelay, Nott, Clark, A. N. Tanner, T. Hench, Williams, William Gay, Haskell. The church now numbers 31 members. The elders are Isaac Barnes, James Van Evera and Cortez Wilson. The trustees are John Barnes, James Van Evera and S. Anderson Robison.
The Baptist Church of Blue Grass was first organized on Aug. 30, 1845, at the house of John Perrin, with the following named persons as charter members: John and Rachel Perrin, William and Catherine Daniels, Lyman and Abigail Carpenter, and Ezra Carpenter. Elder Morey delivered a discourse. Elder Smith then gave the right hand of fellowship and pronounced it the First Baptist Church of Blue Grass. The increase of members of the church soon became so great that the house of John Perrin was too small to hold service in; accordingly the propriety of building a new house of worship was considered, and a commitee appointed to raise the necessary funds. After much delay the meeting-house was finished, and in August, 1854, the congregation met for the first time in their new church. As they had had to borrow $400 to complete their church, an appeal was made to the public for money to pay the debt on the house, and the committee collected what they could from the members, charging each one according to the amount of his property. Until 1849 the church was without a regular pastor. Lyman Carpenter, licensed minister, occasionally spoke words of cheer and comfort to them, while various traveling preachers ministered unto them. The church felt the need of having some one to break the bread of life to them. Accordingly Mr. Lyman Carpenter was asked to accept an ordination, that he might more fully become their spiritual adviser. He did so, and through his influence many souls were added to the church. The statistics of the church for 1858 are as follows: Baptized, 8; received by letter, 7; by experience, 3; excluded, 2. The number of teachers in the Sabbath-school, 17; scholars, 100; volumes in the library, 420; membership of the church, 58. In October, 1860, Mr. Carpenter after 15 years of earnest labor in the church, left there for California, leaving behind him many warm friends and hearty well-wishers. The pastors who have been called to the church since then are Revs. E. M. Miles, G. W. Dowd, A. F. Sharpman, Gilamn Parker, Mr. Goodwin, H. Holmes, A. C. Kelley, H. Williams and others. On Aug. 9, 1879, Rev. W. L. Ward was called to the church. He stayed five months, and since that time they have had no preaching. The present membership of the church is 31.
The Blue Grass Cemetery is located in section 5, near the village. It was first used as a burial place at the death of Verba A. Burnsides, on the 5th day of August, 1840, and sold a great many lots to numerous parties. It was organized as the Blue Grass Cemetery in 1872, as the law directs. It is well located, carefully cared for, nicely ornamented, contains many beautiful and costly monuments; in a word, a delightful city of the dead.
Village of Blue Grass
Blue Grass was laid out in 1853 by J. E. Burnsides, John Perrin and James W. Reynolds, on sections 31 and 32, in Blue Grass Township, and sections 5 and 6 in Buffalo Township. The first postmaster was John Perrin, who held the office from 1849 until he was succeeded by Mr. Colvin in 1853. Present incumbent, Dr. J. Gadd.
The first store was opened by a merchant of Muscatine in 1852, and was succeeded by that of John Baker in the spring of 1853. The first blacksmith was Christ Meeke, in 1852. The first wagonmaker was Henry Greebe, in 1853, who after remaining a few years moved to Nebraska, where he has since been honored with a membership in the Legislature of that state. The first boot and shoe maker was Wm. Souerman, in 1855. The first carpenter shop was opened by Wm. Moss in 1853. The first hotel was built by J. E. Burnsides in 1854, and kept by Garret Clawson. The first church was built in 1854 by the Baptist society. The second church was built in 1859 by the First Methodist Episcopal society. This house was moved to Cross Roads in 1879, and rebuilt, and is now used as a church. The society in the same year erected on the same lot the present church, a beautiful specimen of architecture, at a cost of $4,000. The third church was erected in 1873 by the Presbyterians, an excellent building and well cared for. The first school-house was erected in 1859, at a cost of $1,050. The first steam flouring mill was reected in 1856 by J. E. Burnsides as superintendent, paid for by subscription from farmers; was sold to M. Donahue, who, after it had been run several years by W. Neal, removed it to Davenport, and there rebuilt; was afterward sold to Johnston, who sold it to Beatty. It was burned several years ago. The second steam flouring mill was erected in 1857 by Mr. Dorman, which is now run by John Greenwald.
The present population is about 350. The first brick in the neighborhood west of Davenport, in the county, was made by Ezra Carpenter in the summer of 1845, in a yard in section 6, now embraced within the town limits. While the hands were digging the clay out of the bank, when about six feet below the surface, they found the fossil remains of a mastodon; the tusks, teeth and some of the other bones were in a good state of preservation. The tusks resembled petrified hickory, and were estimated to be about 11 feet long.
Walcott was laid out in 1853, on sections 7 and 8, by Cook & Sargent, and the first passenger train that ever run over the M. & M. Railroad carried a delegation to attend a sale of lots in the village. The first store was opened by F. W. Keferstein, who removed to Davenport in 1871. The postoffice was established in 1855, and its first postmaster was Mr. Keferstein, who was succeeeded by Henry Sutton. Bernhard Schwarting is the incumbent. The first blacksmith was Samuel Benchoff. The first harness shop was by Bock & Sears. A warehouse was built by the railroad company in 1855, and an elevator built by private enterprise in 1867. It is now owned by Stockdale & Dietz. It was originally 22 x 60 feet. It is now 22 x 84. The proprietors handle 400,000 bushels of grain annually. They also ship about 10,000 head of stock annually. The shipments at Walcott annually amount to 650 cars of grain, 500 cars of stock, and 100 cars of flour. There are now two large stores, two wagon shops, three blacksmiths, one agricultural implement, one stove and tin store, one butcher shop, two boot and shoe shops, one steam flouring mill, erected in 1872, at a cost of $20,000, equipped with the best of machinery, and has a capacity for turning out 150 lbs. of flour each 24 hours.