Home Return to Chart Index

A History of Scott County, Iowa


Published 1882


Page 275


In accordance with an act of the General Assembly entitled, " An act creating a County Board of Supervisors, defining their duties and the duties of certain county officers," passed March 22, I860' the county of Scott was organized under the new law, and at the election held Nov. 6, 1860, supervisors were elected. Each township was entitled to one supervisor without regard to the number of inhabitants. Davenport having over 12,000 inhabitants was entitled to three members of the board.

The first meeting of the board was held Monday, Jan. 7, 1861. C. Stewart Ells was elected president.

The representation was continued at one from each township and three from Davenport until 1866, when one more was added to the latter's representation. In 1868 the number was increased to five.

The law in 1870 was changed, and instead of a Board of Supervisors, composed of a representative from each township, there were three elected by the entire county, who had vested in them the same powers as the old board.

In 1874 the county availed itself of the privilege offered by the State law to increase the number of representatives on the board to five, which number is yet retained.

The following is extracted from a complete list of the members of the Board from 1801 to 1882 inclusive:

. . . . .

Page 276.

1864 Winfield—Alexander Brownlee, Sr.

. . . . .

Page 483


A society for the preservation of historical events of a nation, State, county or town is a commendable affair. The lessons of the past teach us the duties pertaining to the future. The fires of patriotism, the love of country or of home, is strengthened by a narration of such important events as tend to stir the blood or quicken to life those divine affections in man. Many a youth has chosen the life of a soldier from reading accounts of the great battles and glorious deeds of an Alexander, a Hannibal, a Napoleon, a Wellington, or our own brave and noble Washington. The lists of statesmen have been augmented by the example of a Pitt, a Webster, a Clay, or Calhoun. Patriotism and love of country have been awakened by reading the sublime utterances of Patrick Henry, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Stephen A. Douglas. The love of home', love of parents and kindred, have been strengthened by oft-told tales of the aged father or mother, especially of that pioneer father and mother who toiled early and late, hard and long, in order to give their descendants the priceless boon of a home of plenty and of peace, of refinement and love.

At a meeting of the Old Settlers of Scott County, who became residents prior to Dec. 31, 1840, held in Le Claire Hall, Davenport pursuant to a notice in the daily papers, on the evening of Saturday, Jan. 23, 1858, some 60 persons were assembled. The meeting was called to order by Duncan C. Eldridge, whereupon Ebenezer Cook was elected chairman and John L. Coffin secretary of the meeting.

The chairman, on taking his seat, expressed with a few happy remarks the pleasure which it gave him to meet so many of his old friends on this occasion, and alluded to the warm interest he had always felt in those who had stood side by side with him in the hardships and struggles incident to the early settlement of this county.

He said “that if there was anything of good about him, if he had ever been of any service to this community, and in fact for all he was at this day, he felt himself indebted to the early settlers of this county, who had always stood by him; that he had always been willing to divide the last crust of bread with anyone of them that needed, and he prayed to God that so long as he lived he might be disposed to divide with them the last shirt on his back, if any one of them required it."

On motion of James McIntosh, a committee of five was appointed by the Chair to draft a preamble and resolutions for organizing the association. The Chair appointed James McIntosh, Willard Barrows, John F. Dillon, D. E. Eldridge and Edward Richer.

. . . . .

Page 484.

On motion of John F. Dillon, it was voted that all those settlers whose wives came here prior to Dec. 31, 1840, be admitted to the festival.

The association then proceeded to elect its first officers, which resulted in the choice of the following named gentlemen: Antoine Le Claire, President; Ebenezer Cook, Duncan C. Eldridge, Willard Barrows, John Owens, Robert Christie, William Cook, Jabez A. Birchard, Adrian H. Davenport, Alexander Brownlee, Leroy Dodge, Vice-Presidents; Dr. E. S. Barrows, Corresponding Secretary; John L. Coffin, Recording Secretary; Hon. .George B. Sargent, Treasurer.

. . . . .

Page 505.

On motion the following named officers were continued for the year 1859 : Antoine Le Claire, President; £. S. Barrows, Corresponding Secretary; John L. Coffin, Recording Secretary. The president then appointed a committee to report vice-presidents and treasurer. The committee reported as follows: Ebenezer Cook, G. C. R. Miller, Henry C. Morehead, Charles Metteer, Jabez A. Birchard, John Coleman, Lemuel Summers, Jesse R. James, Alexander Brownlee, Warner L. Clark, Vice-Presidents; James McCosh, Treasurer.

. . . . .

Page 508.


At a meeting of the old settler's held Sept. 26, 1861, at Judge Grant's office, the question which had long been agitated of erecting a monument on some lofty eminence overlooking the city of Davenport, on which should be inscribed the names of all the old settlers, again arising, it was resolved that it should be done, and for that purpose a committee composed of the following persons was selected:

From Pleasant Valley—J. A. Burchard and G. G. Hyde.

Le Claire—A. H. Davenport and James Jack.

Princeton—Giles M. Pinnco and R. Bennett.

Winfield—H. H. Pease and Alex. Brownlee.

Allen's Grove—Johnson Mars and Lewis Fuller.

Liberty—Peter Goddard and John Trucks.

Cleona—John Olds.

Hickory Grove—Phillips Baker and John Porter.

Blue Grass—Charles Metteer and Robt. Wilson.

Buffalo—W. L. Clark and James E. Burnsides.

Rockingham—E. Mead and John M. Friday.

Davenport—W. Barrows, D. C. Eldridge, Harvey Leonard, Robert Christie, James Grant, Jos. A. Le Claire and James Mackintosh.

The committee was instructed to report as early as next annual meeting.

Mr. Willard Barrows was chosen chairman of the committee, and requested the gentlemen composing it to meet on the next Saturday, Oct. 5, 1861.

Association adjourned.

. . . . .

There are other references from minutes to be added from original document for Alexander Brownlee and J. C. Brownlee.

. . . . .

Page 540.


In this chapter are given a few reminiscences of the pioneers of Scott County. Where the historical committee differed with the writer, corrections are made by footnotes.

. . . . .

Page 544.


We left Scotland March 31, 1826, and landed in Canada about the middle of May the same year, and continued there chopping farms out of the woods until 1835, when we got very much dissatisfied with British rule in that province, and after much thought we concluded to turn all that we owned into money and seek a home in the United States, somewhere in the far West. Accordingly, toward the end of June 1838, with all that we owned turned into money and clothing, our destination being the southern part of Illinois, we started up the Ridua Canal and Lake Ontario, and landed at Queenstown, and had quite a tussle with the Canada authorities before we could get across the river (that was the year of the McKinzie rebellion), but finally succeeded in shaking off the dust from our feet against both British and Canadian rule forever. As soon as we got across, the people — our new friends — all seemed so friendly that we felt as if we had got home.

Just at this time a very fine, grave-looking old man stepped up and said, "I will take you up to Buffalo in time for the boat,” but as we were about to finish the bargain, a wicked-looking sinner came up swearing and said: “-That old Presbyterian, deacon though he be, will leave you on the road halfway there. You old rascal, you know that you are going to cheat these people. I will take you half-way for half the money and that is all that he will do." However, we felt religiously inclined and so concluded to go with the deacon; but sure enough he did leave us half way and comforted us with a lie, saying that he was connected with the railroad and that the train would be along soon and take us to Buffalo. The train did come along and took us too, but we had to pay our own way. This was our first lesson in Yankeedom.

Next day found us on Lake Erie celebrating our first "Fourth of July," between Buffalo and Cleveland, where we landed that night and engaged our passage next day on the canal for Portsmouth, on the Ohio River. We were nine days on the canal crossing the State of Ohio, — rather a slow way of traveling now-a-days. We did not need to stay long before we got a steamboat. We went aboard and set sail for Alton, Illinois, where we arrived in due time. After securing a house and making the women and children comfortable Alexander and myself started into the country; after traveling a long time both in the south of the State and up the Illinois River, we came back pretty well discouraged, having seen nothing that would suit our idea for a settlement: in the meantime we heard some reports of the Black Hawk purchase as it was then called (now Iowa). We concluded to take a look on the west side of the Mississippi, called at Burlington, stopped a little while there, and finally got to Davenport, where we landed on the 25th day of August, 1888, then only a city in prospect, — one small store and one tavern, with two or three board shanties and one log cabin; the tavern contained more people than all the rest of the town besides.

This year the Territorial Legislature met in Burlington, 1 think for the first time. There was no land in market for two or three years after we came to Long Grove; the people held their land by claim. After inquiring we found that all the timber along the river was claimed, and the squatters held their claims at such extravagant prices that we concluded not to indulge them in their greed; so we turned our faces to Long Grove; and after a tedious walk (there was no livery stable) through sloughs and long grass (there were no roads) we arrived at our destination, but, behold. Long Grove was all claimed too. Here we found a man and his wife and one child by the name of Elder, from Pennsylvania; and an old man named Alvord, from New York, who had taken claims; and yet another man by the name of Coats, who owned a claim, but lived in Davenport, who afterward was associated with Davies in the planing-mill[1] business.

We next went east to Warren Grove, as it was then called, now Walnut Grove, and here we learned that Coats and a man living in Dubuque by the name of Pease claimed all that grove; then we went up the Wapsie River bottom and found two old bachelors by the name of John and William Quinn, living in a log cabin, seemingly content with their lot, although not within five miles of any neighbors; from there we went to Allen's Grove where we found Allen himself, after whom the grove was named, and a family by the name of Dunn; then to Poston's Grove, where we found the venerable Poston himself, " monarch of all he surveyed."

These I believe were all the white people in Scott County outside of the river settlements.[2]

After due consultation we came to the conclusion to return to Davenport and try to buy Coat's claim in Long Grove, as we were pretty sure that lie only held it for speculation. So rather than get into a quarrel with him we concluded to give him $160, which lie readily accepted, and now, according to the law of custom, we owned 160 acres of timber In Long Grove and as ranch prairie as we wanted to claim, for it was only the timber that there was any value in those days.

I think we had neither deaths, births nor marriages within four years after we settled in Long Grove.

Davenport was the nearest post office and continued so for many years.

My brother, William Brownlee, came and settled here with his family, live in number, in 1840, and built the first frame building in Scott County outside of Davenport.[3]

Sunday-school and religious services were commenced in 1839) and have been kept so ever since on every Lord's day with but few exceptions, and a Church was regularly organized according to the New Testament plan in 1840. James Brownlee's house being used for both Sunday-school and meeting-house; about two years after, say in 1842, the whole neighborhood turned out and hauled logs from the Wapsie and built one, which was used for a school-house and all kinds of meetings — religions, political and school— for many years. The first regular preacher's name was James Rumbold; he was an elder in the Christian Church of Davenport.

The first school was opened in 1841, and the name of the first teacher was Kennedy; he was a straight Catholic; he opened an independent school; that is, one on his own responsibility. I think this was in 1841.

The price of flour the first year we lived here was $11 per barrel; pork, $15 per hundred weight; horses, none for sale; cows, $28; potatoes, $1 per bushel; but in two or three years after this, when we got something to sell, wheat sold from 30 to 40 cents per bushel; corn, 10 cents; pork, 75 cents per hundred; eggs, 3 cents per dozen; and all this must be payed in what was called in those days store pay, out of the store. If calico was 30 cents per yard or sheeting 20 cents, it made no difference.

As to local government we did not have much, and indeed did not need much, for the neighbors were few and very friendly, much more so than they are now; but if some ill-disposed person did happen to come in among us he was disposed of in this way. A meeting was called and two or three appointed to notify the person that he must not be seen in those parts after a certain date. That generally proved effectual, and under these circumstances the taxes were light; the whole taxes for a family owning or claiming a quarter section of land with a goodly amount of stock would be from four to five dollars per year; however, it took considerable planning and scheming to raise even that amount.

The land I think came in market in 1840 or '41. That was quite an exciting time for it was reported and generally believed among the settlers that speculators were coming from the East to bid off all the good farms, and to overcome this trouble they all combined together and chose one man to bid off all the settlers' lands, and the first man that made a bid that was not authorized was to be arrested and put under guard until the land sale was over. This answered the purpose; the settlers ail got their lands It did not benefit them much after all, for many of them had to borrow money at 40 and 50 per cent, which some of them were never able to pay.

As to the climate, I do not think there has been any perceptible difference during the 40 years that we have lived here.

And as to the game, the prairie chickens were very plenty. We used to catch them in traps by the bag full, and quails were equally plenty; the deer likewise were plenty; I have seen as high as 20 in one drove; there were also some wild cats and plenty of prairie wolves, who were very destructive to both our sheep and poultry, especially the former.

And as for the Indians, we have frequent visits of goodly numbers of them, but they were always civil until the night before they were going to leave; then we had to watch our corn cribs.

Having concluded to make Long Grove our future home, we set about getting a place that we could live in through the winter. Accordingly we went about finding a team to haul out some lumber, and Mr. Dillon (the present Judge Dillon's lather), who had just arrived a short time before to make a home like ourselves, willingly consented to take out a load of lumber, and with that and some logs we built a house, which we lived in through the winter; and after going to Illinois for a cow and a yoke of oxen, and fixing up things generally, brother Alexander started down the river for the family, who were still in Alton, and left me to look after the claim, and that was the sorriest time in all our travels. He left for Alton Oct. 15, and expected to be back in two or three weeks, but I never heard a word of them until the day before Christmas; just about the time they ought to have readied Davenport there was a steamboat sunk on the rapids and I naturally concluded that they had gone to the bottom of the river with that boat; but on the day before Christmas three covered wagons landed at Long Grove, with the women, children and all the outfit. The reason of the delay was, the women and children had been sick and could not be moved because there was so much ice in the river that the boat had to unload at Warsaw, which compelled our folks to either stay there all winter or hire teams to bring them on, which latter they did at $3 per day each until they returned. We were now all right, all together, and all pretty well, in our log cabins.

. . . . .

Page 1055.


J. C. Brownlee was born in Canada West, May I5, 1836, and is the son of William and Christina (Miller) Brownlee, both of Scottish descent. In the fall of 1839, in company with his parents, he came to Scott County, where his father located in Long Grove Township, where he died in 1844. His mother continued to carry on the farm until her death, in 1875. J. C. Brownlee resided with his mother until 1865. His education was obtained in the common schools, with one term in Iowa College. He was married Dec. 7, 1865, to Mary Ann Roberts, who was born in England, February, 1847. Six children came of this union — Eva May, Minnie, John, Jenny, Luella, Mary. Mr. and Mrs. Brownlee resided in Long Grove until 1874, when he moved to his present farm, three miles north of Davenport, consisting of 80 acres, worth $130 an acre.

They are members of the Christian church, in Davenport. In politics, Mr. Brownlee is a Republican.

. . . . .

Page 1073.

Edward Roberts was born in North Wales, Oct. 24, 1816. His parents were Thomas and Mary (Foulks) Roberts. Edward resided with his parents until he was 13 years of age, when he was hired out to a gentleman, whom he served six years. He then engaged with another party as a gardener, and remained with him until he left his native land for the United States, in 1865. In 1846 he married Jane Jones, who was born in 1814, in North Wales. Four children blessed this union — Mary Ann, now Mrs. J. C. Brownlee; Hannah, now Mrs. Christy; Daniel, and one who died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts are members of the First Presbyterian Church, in Davenport, and live on the farm which they purchased shortly after arrival in Scott County. Mr. Roberts, in politics, is a Republican.

. . . . .

Page 1096.


Le Claire Township was first settled in 1834 by Eleazer Parkhurst, who purchased a claim just above the north line of the "reserve," of George W. Harlan, who built the cabin thereon. The cabin was built as early as February, 183-i. The reserve spoken of was a tract of 640 acres at the head of the rapids, given Antoine Le Claire by the Indians when they made their treaty with the whites in 1832. They had at the same treaty presented Mrs. Le Claire with a similar amount of land where the city of Davenport now stands. The reason of this gift was out of friendship for Mr. and Mrs. Le Claire. He had been with them from boyhood, either in the employ of the Government, or agent for the Fur Company, as interpreter, and was very popular with them. The American Fur Company at an early day had a trading house on a small island some three miles below Le Claire, called Davenport's Island, afterward Smith's Island, and then Fulton's Island. The Indians came across Rock River, Meredosia Swamp, and from the Wapsipinicon River to this " post" to trade. The Indians loved to dwell along the thick-timbered lands of the Pau-ke-she-tuck (rapids), or swift waters, where they found an abundance of fish and also much game. The forest was dense all through the country lying along the Mississippi River, from Spencer's Creek, at the head of Pleasant Valley, to Princeton, and was of large growth. The Indians often returned to their forest home at the head of the rapids, and in 1837 one thousand of them encamped where the town of Le Claire now stands.

. . . . .

Page 1107

The Church of Christ at Le Claire.—(in the third Lord's day of December, A. D. 1843, a small number of individuals, male and female, gave to each other the hand of fellowship, pledging themselves to God and to each other to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ, to take the word of God as the only rule of faith and practice, and as a congregation took upon themselves the name of Church of Christ, meeting at Le Claire.

James Brownlee, of Long Grove, Scott Co., Ia., having preached the gospel among us, mainly through his instrumentality, being accompanied with Brother William Davenport, the above organization was effected, in December, 1813, with the following original members: Phillip Suiter and Hannah Suiter, Ira F. Smith and

Nancy Smith, William McGinnis, Griswold Vanduzer and Louisa Vanduzer, Mary Ann Suiter.

In February, 1846, Stevan Burnett visited the church and preached the gospel. Milo M. Pollock and Mary Ann Pollock were united by letter of commendation.

Early in 1846 the church was called together, and came to the conclusion to build a house to worship in, and the same fall was ready for occupation.

In the years of 1846 and 1847 Charles Levan was called as an evangelist. In November, 1847, N. A. McConnell commenced to labor among them as an evangelist. The Lord, through his instrumentalities, added quite a number to the church. In 1853 and 1851 Dr. Getcbell titled the pulpit. In 1856 Ephraim Phillips was employed by the congregation.

The first elder of the organization was Wm. McGinnis, who filled the position for the first 10 years, and also held the office of secretary and treasurer.

The first deacons were Griswold Vanduzer and Ira F. Smith.

First pastors: Charles Levan, 1847; N. A. McConnell, 1847; Dr. Lusey, paid the church several visits; Ephraim Phillips, 1856, who supplied the pulpit some three years, and quite a number taken into the church; G. W. Sweeney, 1863-1864, and through his preaching quite a number came into the church; W. D. Swaim, in 1874; N. A. Smith, in the latter part of 1875, remaining two years; N. C. Wilson. Their present pastor is Joseph P. Martindale. Meeting regular every Sabbath.

Their old church, which was built in 1846, becoming unfit to hold services in, they sold it and bought an edifice of the Presbyterians. The building is a frame structure, and has a capacity of seating 400 persons. The original cost of building was $1,200, but they have expended some 400 more. William McGinnis took an active interest in the welfare of the church. The present elders are Wm. McGinnis. W. P. Hadley, J. C. McGinnis. The present deacons are J. W. Arnold and Evans Penry. There is a membership of between 30 and 40 working members. They have a Sabbath school connected with the church, having an attendance of about 70 on an average. The present superintendent of the Sabbath school is Rev. Martindale.

[1] A Planing mill is the final processing plant for lumber. After the lumber has been through the sawmill and seasoned, it comes to the planing mill. The principal machine there, the planer and matcher, dresses (finishes) the lumber and with the aid of a profile attachment patterns the wood into different stocks, as furniture components. Other equipment in the planing mill includes molding machines (to cut molding to size) and varieties of saws. From Encyclopedia Brittanica – Ian Brownlee 

[2] There were quite a number of white people at this time living in the settlements named, in addition to which there were many other settlements found in the county not mentioned by Mr. Brownlee. See township histories. — Ed.

[3] Mr. Brownlee is mistaken, as at this lime there were hundreds of frame buildings in the county. This house was probably the first in Long Grove — Ed.



Return to Chart Index