Scott Co, Iowa USGenWeb Project
HISTORY OF LIBERTY TOWNSHIP
"From History of Scott County, Iowa 1882 Chicago: Interstate Publishing Co."
Surnames: Goodard, Laughreys, Heller, Wood, Parker, Burt, VanSant, Pasten, Russell, Pinckley, Clark, Washbarne, Grace, Jacobs, Dutton, Feigley, Trucky, McIntost, Walgraven, Chenowith, Cook, Logan, Dickenson, Suyder, Hickson, Bolkan, Gates, Wright, Garrison, Emerson, Fellett, Orson, Parsons, Bennett, Perkins, Upton, Grant, Smith, Allen, Ritchie, Canfield, Apthorp, Coleman, Graves, English, Scallion, Rice, Murphy, Brogan, Bassett and Blazer.
This township lies in the northwest portion of the county, and comprises township 80, range 1 east. It was first settled in 1837 by the Goddards, Laughreys, Hellers, and Woods. The township is mostly rolling prairie, in some parts very much broken. There are several very fine groves in the township, and several creeks. George W. Parker thus describes the township:
"There is a small creek running through the central part of the township called Walnut Creek, which enters Allen's Grove Township at Little Walnut Grove, near Dixon. A small branch of Mud Creek heads in the southwest corner of the township and passes along the north side of Round Grove and enters Cleona Township. Rock Creek heads in Cedar County and enters Liberty Township in Pasten's Grove on section 6, and crosses sections 6 and 5 in a northeasterly direction to the north line of the township and the line between Scott and Clinton counties. It meanders back and forth along the line east to section 4, and then leaves the township. A portion of section 1 has some timber. Little Walnut Grove is on sections 12 and 13, and contains 100 acres. Big Walnut Grove is on sections 13, 14, 23 and 24, with about 600 acres, oak, walnut, basswood and hickory being the principal kinds. Pasten's Grove is on sections 6 and 7, and is principally oak, and comprises not far from 450 acres. Round Grove is nearly all on section 33, and contains 40 acres, mostly hickory,"
Mr. Parker, in a communication to the Historical Committee of the Academy of Science, further says of this township:
"In the mouth of September, 1836, Mr. Burt, a citizen of Michigan, received the contract from the general Government to run the 5th principal meridian line through this part of Wisconsin Territory, as it was then called. He spent some days near Fairport, below Buffalo, in getting connection with the line on the opposite side of the river. He then ran that line due north to the river above Dubuque, and then returned to a point just east of the present town of Durant, and ran the correction line due east to the river just below Le Claire. These were the first lines ran. Mr. Burt and his son, then commenced running the township lines north of the correction line, and were engaged all winter and until the month of May, 1837, in surveying the 5th meridian, which is the west line of Liberty Township. He passed through Pasten's Grove Sept. 20, 1836. The other lines of the township were run some time in the fall or winter."
In the summer of 1837, a man by the name of Van Sant, a tailor by trade, and a citizen of Cincinnati, O., came here with a contract to sub-divide four townships, 80 and 81 east, and 80 and 81 west of the 5th principal meridian. He was an acquaintance of the surveyor general, who had his office in Cincinnati at that time. Van Sant had picked up his hands in Cincinnati and they were little fitted for the work, and he knew but little about practical surveying. The result was, after spending double the time necessary, and having any amount of trouble with his help, a very poorly surveyed township, and he had to give up a portion of his contract and go back home."
Mr. Van Sant while surveying the township located a claim at Round Grove, which included the whole of the timber. He hired the Pastens, father and son to put up a log cabin. He also hired Peter Laughrey to break an acre of prairie in the fall of 1837. Before he left the Territory he sold the claim to A. T. Russell, for $300.
The first claim located in the township was in the spring of 1836 by Henry Pinckley, then living with Captain Clark, at Buffalo. It was on section 12, where the town of Dixon now stands, and called at that time Little Walnut Grove. About the same time George Washburne, another of Captain Clark's hands, located a claim at the east end of Big Walnut Grove, one mile southwest of Dixon, on section 13. Ezra Allen and the Pastens hauled the logs together and put up the house in April, 1837.
In the fall of 1846 John Heller located a claim in the grove on section 15. In the fall of 1836 or spring of 1837 Horace Wood located a claim on section 14, in the timber, and built a cabin on the bank of Walnut Creek, in the spring of 1837, and moved into it, his family being the first that settled in the township.
Jacob Heller purchased the claim of Henry Pinckley in Little Walnut Grove in the fall of 1836, and in the spring of 1837 John Grace and M. C. Jacobs broke up some of the prairie on the north side of the creek, on section 12. This was the first breaking done in the township. A variety of produce was planted which yieided an abundant crop that summer. Mr. Heller moved on to the claim the last day of July, 1837, his son John and family going with him, making three families in the township on the first of August, 1837.
Those living in Liberty Township, Aug. 1, 1837, were Jacob Heller, wife, and daughters Elizabeth, Hannah and Harriet; John Heller, wife and son Jacob, and daughter Eleanor, now Mrs. Feigley; Horace Wood, wife, and two children; John Grace and Mark C. Jacobs, two young men who lately came from Ohio, who were at work for Mr. Heller.
M.C. Jacobs located a claim on the northwest quarter of section 24, and lived there until his death in 1877. John Grace located his claim in Allen's Grove Township, and lived there until his death in 1879. He was buried in the Dixon Cemetery. Horace Wood died many years ago, and nothing is known about his family by the old settlers. Jacob Heller and his wife both died in 1845, in the house that they first moved into at Little Walnut Grove, and are buried in the cemetery near by. Cornelia, wife of John Heller, died at Toronto, Clinton Co., March, 1873, and was buried in the cemetery at Little Walnut Grove. Harriet Heller married Leroy Dutton, Jan. 1, 1844, and died in March, 1845. Of the 15 persons in the township on the 1st of August, 1837, eight are known to be dead. There are living at the present time in the township, Mrs. Hannah Heller Parker, Mrs. Eleanor Heller Feigley and Mrs. Elizabeth Heller Haile. These are all that are left of the settlers of 1837. The settlers of 1838 were: John Trucky, wife, and son Abraham, and daughters Eleanor, Elizabeth and Ruth; James Laughrey, wife and two children. John Trucky died at Toronto, Clinton Co., and was buried at that place. M.C. Jacobs was buried at Dixon. James Laughrey and wife died at Union Grove, years ago. In the summer of 1837 Mr. Heller broke considerable prairie and sowed the first fall wheat sown in the township. The seed was brought from McDonough Co., Ill.
The land in this section was advertised for sale at Dubuque in 1839, but the sale was adjourned until July, 1840. There was a meeting largely attended by the settlers along the Waspsipinecon held at the house of Jacob Heller, in June 1840, for the purpose of self-protection at the sale. Resolutions were passed, and James McIntosh selected as bidder for Scott and part of Clinton Counties. This was necessary as but few had the money to pay for their land, and there were plenty of sharks ready to take their improvements. The plan was for the settlers to attend the sale en macse, give the number of his land to the bidder, and when the auctioneer called that number the bidder let it pass, but if a speculator was to bid, he was to be settled with on the spot. Only one had the temerity to bid on a claim belonging to another. The words had hardly passed his lips before he was lifted over the heads of the crowd and passed out of Iowa in a hurry, and when they pitched him on Illinois soil he was in a demoralized condition.
In the summer of 1842 the citizens of Long Rock Creek and Posten's Grove united and built a log school-house on the west side of section 4, and near the banks of Long Creek. This was the first school-house in the township, and had split puncheon seats. Mary Parker, now Mrs. Walraven, of Wheatland, was the first teacher. Rev. Mr. Chenowith was probably the first to preach the gospel in the township. The first claim was made by Henry Pinckley. The family of Horace Wood was the first to permnently settle in the township. A daughter of Horace Wood was drowned in 1838, the first death in the township. The first breaking was done on the claim of Jacob Heller. The first produce was raised by Jacob Heller. Jacob Heller also sowed the first fall wheat in the fall of 1837. The first parties married were James Haile and Elizabeth Heller and G. W. Parker and Hannah Heller, March 13, 1842. Rev. Mr. Chenowith performed the marriage service. At this time Mr. Chenowith boarded at the house of William Cook and was in charge of the Davenport circuit. He afterward married Hannah Logan, daughter of Andrew Logan, editor of the Iowa Sun. He soon after quit preaching, built a small house north of Duck Creek and tried farming. He then studied law, moved to Maquoketa, remained here a few years, then left for Oregon. His wife died on the way at Fort Kearney. Mr. Chenowith subsequently became judge in Washington Territory.
As already stated, in the summer of 1842 the first attempt was made at the improvement of the mind by the establishment of a school near Posten's Grove. It was not much of a school but still was a beginning, out of which has grown the present excellent school system.
Liberty Township has eight sub-districts, with 365 children of school age, and an enrollment of 305. There are one stone and seven frame school-houses, the total value estimated at $5,125. The town of Dixon is an independent district, having 105 pupils and an enrollment of 90, and a frame school-house valued at $2,000.
The religious element in the township is represented by Catholics, Christians, Congregationalists and Methodists, with churches at Dixon and Big Rock.
Village of Dixon
The village of Dixon was platted and plat recorded, April, 1854, by Jonathan Parker, for R.S. Dickenson. It was originally located on the southeast quarter of section 12, Liberty Township, but subsequent additions have extended it into Allen's Grove Township, on a portion of section 7. Mr. Dickenson was a man of enterprise, and for a time gave his personal attention to the building up of a thriving village. The location chosen was a good one, and at the time it was made was on the public highway between Davenport and the great Northwest.
About the time he laid out the town, Mr. Dickenson started here a hotel for the accommodation of the traveling public, and a store for the benefit of the inhabitants living in the vicinity. This was the first store and first hotel in the place.
The village was of slow growth until 1870, when the railroad was completed to the place. It then took on a new lease of life, and for a time was in a very flourishing condition.
The postoffice was established here in 1854, with Mr. Dickenson as postmaster. He was succeeded by C. B. Snyder, who held the office about two years. In 1867, W. H. Hickson received the appointment, and has since been re-appointed every four years. His management of the office has been pleasing to its patrons. In July, 1880, it was made a money-order office, and the firstorder was drawn July 7, by Ole Bolkan, in favor of Peter C. Bolkan, for the sum of $6.
The elevator was erected in 1876, by a stock company, the principal shares being taken by the farmers in the community. Its entire cost was something over $12,000, and it is supplied with the latest improved machinery. It was built in a very substantial manner, and is conveniently arranged for the rapid handling of all kinds of grain.
The citizens of Dixon manifest great interest in the public schools of the place. A graded school is maintained, with William M. Grace as principal, and Mrs. Jennie Grace as assistant. Prof. Grace has introduced many of the most improved Normal methods in the schools, greatly to the advantage of the pupils.
The Christians and Methodists maintain public worship in the place, the former having a house of worship.
In the spring of 1882 the village contained 250 inhabitants, with two general merchandise stores, one grocery, one hardware, one drug, four saloons, one machine shop, one lumber yard, one agricultural implement store, four blacksmith shops, one meat market, one elevator, one furniture store, two stock dealers, two physicians, two shoemakers, one hotel, and a postoffice.
Village of Big Rock
This is a pleasant village, in the northeast part of the township, and was laid out by Peter Goddard, in July, 1855. Previous to this time a settlement had been made, and a start made in building up a new village. A stage route was located through here from Davenport to Anamosa, and a postoffice was established in 1853, with Eli Goddard as postmaster. He served until 1855, when Don C. Gates was appointed. Mr. Gates was succeeded in turn by G. W. Parker and George Goddard, and was re-appointed in 1865, and served until December, 1881, when he resigned, and O. E. Wright was appointed.
The first store started in the place was in 1853, before the town was platted. A Mr. Garrison was the pioneer in the mercantile trade.
The first hotel was also established about the same time, by Peter Goddard, and known as the Big Rock Hotel.
The religious wants of the people are here supplied by the Congregationalists and Catholics. The former organized a congregation here as early as 1866. Rev. O. Emerson being the officiating minister. Nine persons signed the articles of agreement - Isaac Fellett and wife, Orlando B. Clark and wife, Orson E. Wright and wife, Mrs. Orpha E. Goddard, Mrs. Eliza B. Parsons and Rudolphus Bennett. Officers were not elected on its organization. The first holding the office of deacon were Josiah L. Perkins and Cyrus M. Parsons, who were appointed October 31, 1862. The first meetings of the congregation were held in the school-house. In 1868 they built their house of worship, 28 x 40, 16 feet high, at a cost of $2,500. A bell was subsequently put in at a cost of $140. Those serving as pastors were Revs. J. R. Upton, S. N. Grant, George Smith, A. W. Allen, George Ritchie, T. Canfield, Rufus Apthorp, W. L. Coleman and A. Graves. Services are held every Sabbath, morning and evening, and a prayer-meeting and Sabbath-school are maintained. The present deacons are Orson E. Wright and D. F. English.
St. Patrick's Catholic Church was erected in 1875 - '76, prior to which time services were held in private houses. Father Scallion held the first services here, and afterward Fathers Rice, Murphy and Smith. Father Brogan was the first after the house of worship was erected. The building is a frame, 32 x 50 feet, and cost $1,600, in addition to some labor performed by various parties. The congregation commenced with four or five families, and now numbers 30.
The Big Rock Creamery is one of the institutions of the place. It was established in the spring of 1880, by John A. Bassett and M. T. Blazer. About 400 pounds of butter are made daily.