History of Auburn Township, Fayette County,
From: Past and Present of Fayette County, Iowa
B. F. Bowen & Company
Indianapolis, Indiana 1910
This was one of the original township organizations in the northern part of the county, and was noted in early days because of the location of grist mills at the town of Auburn and the close proximity of the territory to the Indian Reservation, just across the line in Winneshiek county. At the beginning of the settlement of Auburn township, the territory now embraced in Fayette county was attached to Hewitt township, Clayton county. The boundaries of Auburn township were somewhat indefinite prior to the reorganization of several of the northern townships (Auburn among them), October 8, 1850. It then was made to include all of the present township of Auburn and all of Windsor. It is not known that this township ever held an election while attached to Hewitt township, of Clayton county; but the reorganization proceeding established the voting place at the house of Morris B Earll, who, with Oliver Brown and James Austin, were designated as judges of the election.
THE TOWN OF AUBURN.
The first dwelling erected in the township was the home of James B. Earll, who, in 1849, began the erection
of a saw mill at the mouth of Little Turkey, and two years later he and his sons erected a flouring mill, which
began business in September, 1851. The latter proved to be of great benefit to the people, in that the question
of "going to mill" at Elkader or Dubuque had previously been a serious matter. The mill was liberally
patronized by people from our own county, as well as from Vinneshiek, and even from southern Minnesota. The success
of this enterprise doubtless stimulated the building of a second mill in the town of Auburn, and both these industries
were operated with success for many years. In fact, it is probable that the early founding of the mills had much
to do with building up the town, and making it for years one of the principal trading points in the county. The
town of Auburn was once a formidable candidate for the county seat, as appears elsewhere in this volume. There
were few industries known to the pioneers that were not soon introduced into the town of Auburn, and it possessed
an air of business thrift in keeping with the intelligence and high standing of the promoters. Saloons and a brewery
were a part of the town's varied industries, and they and the Iowa House did a thriving business during the years
that the settlers from distant points were attracted to the place by the mills. But mercantile establishments and
mechanical industries were early introduced and such names as Hull and Hiram Hoagland, John A. Griffith, Samuel
Hull, James Boale, Rev. S. D. Helms, Z. McJunkin, I. S. Lane, the Irving family, F. G. Carter, J. S. Pence, A.
L. Dunn, Torode and Eastman, Augustus Turner (who was killed while undermining a bank of earth), the Billmeyers,
McCleerys, the Belknaps and others, all remind us of pioneer days when beautiful Auburn was in her glory. But of
the once prosperous and populous town, little remains save the beautiful natural scenery. The postoffice is still
retained, known as Douglas postoffice, and there are two small stores there; but the hotel was long since abandoned,
and later the building was burned; the mechanics have found more profitable employment elsewhere, and most of the
village residents have returned to their farms or removed to other towns.
CHURCHES AND LODGES.
There have been two church organizations at Auburn in past years, but with the removal of many of the inhabitants
of the place, and the practical abandonment of village organilation, the churches have suffered correspondingly.
In 1866 the Methodist Episcopal church there was formally dedicated, and was prosperous for a number of years.
We believe the building was finally sold for other purposes. In 1877 the United Brethren, under the pastoral charge
of Rev. A. W. Drury, erected a church in Auburn, and this was dedicated by Rev. E. B. Kephart, of Western College,
on the 30th of September, 1877, being then free from debt. The pastors of the United Brethren church at West Union
supply this class and maintain the organization.
The handsome little village now known as Saint Lucas was, in early days, known as Stottle Town, so named in
honor of one of the early settlers in that locality. "Old Mission" was another pioneer village, intimately
associated with the Winnebago Reservation near by. But this interesting point was across the line in Winneshiek
county, and is spoken of in the department devoted to state history. Aside from being located in one of the richest
farming sections in Fayette county, St. Lucas has but little history outside of the Catholic church and parochial
school which make the village famous. The origin of the name is mentioned in the article on the Catholic church
in Fayette county, by Mr. and Mrs. John Owens.
St. Lucas was incorporated as a town on the 6th day of March, 1900, and has since made rapid progress in building
and in assuming "city airs." The people being all of the same nationality, of the same religious and
political faith. an air of peace and tranquility prevails which is not usually found in villages of a mixed population.
The location is naturally beautiful, and the surrounding country one of the most fertile farming districts in the
county, and of which advantages the frugal Germans have not been slow in showing their appreciation. While the
German language is prevalent in every home, and is spoken in preference to any other, nearly all the elderly people
can speak very good English, and all their children are educated in both German and English.
This township is organized for school purposes under the district township system, which embraces one sub director
for each school district, who, when properly organized, transact most of the business of the district township.
With the exception of voting school house taxes, we believe the power of the boards of directors is absolute, within
the limitations of the state school law. This authority is vested in the township electors; but if they neglect
or decline to act in the matter of providing a school house fund, the board of directors may then act; but ordinarily
the directors are satisfied with the action of the electors in such matters and seldom interfere with their authority.
Twelve of the twenty townships are organiled under this system, the remaining eight townships being organized for
school purposes under a system known as rural independent districts. This system was abolished some years ago,
but districts then organiled were not disturbed by the change of law relating to such organilations. Under either
the district township system or the rural independent organilation, the boards of directors are organiled by electing
from their own number a president, and from the district at large a secretary and treasurer. These are the executive
officers of the board and are endowed with considerable official authority. In the independent districts three
directors are elected - one each year, for a term of three years. They determine the duration of the school, the
wages to he paid teachers and the secretary and treasurer of the board, etc., without regard to these conditions
in adjoining districts in the same township. But in sub districts under the district township organilation, the
duration of the school year and the teachers' wages are fixed on a uniform scale, and are not changed except in
exceptional cases. Many objections were entered against the rural independent organilation, some of which were
well taken; and this led to the change in the law in reference to their organization, and, perhaps, had something
to do in eliminating existing evils in the districts that were not disturbed by the change in the law. But it would
seem that the people residing in the independent districts were fully satisfied with that system of school organilation,
in that the law prohibiting further organizations of that kind also provided means whereby such districts could
return to the district township system, and none of them, in this county, at least, have ever taken advantage of
this provision of law. We speak of this matter thus fully at this time, and shall hereafter mention the school
organilation in other townships as "sub districts" or "rural independent districts," without
INDEPENDENT DISTRICTS OF AUBURN AND ST. LUCAS.
As intimated at the beginning of this article, the village of Auburn opened her first school during the winter of 1852-3, and a year later had the most valuable school building then to be found in Fayette county. For many years the little town took a special interest in maintaining its high standing in educational affairs, and had an excellent school of two departments, employing the best talent to be secured. But for a number of years past the school has been reduced to one department, and its curriculum is only on a par with country schools in adjoining territory. During the year ending with July 1, 1909, there were seven and one half months of school in the district, taught by three female teachers, at an average monthly salary of thirty seven dollars. The number of persons of school age (five to twenty one years) now in the district are: Males, twenty four, and females, seventeen. Of these an average daily attendance of twenty two was attained for the school year, at an average cost of tuition per month for each pupil, of two dollars and eighty five cents.
ST. LUCAS PUBLIC SCHOOL.
By a combination of circumstances this village was enabled to sustain a school of ten months' duration during the past year. The total enrollment was forty three, with an average daily attendance of thirty. The school was taught by one female teacher at an average compensation of forty four dollars per month. Since the assessment value of the property in the proposed new independent district is greater than that of any other sub district in the township, it is a fair presumption to assume that the board of directors of the district township of Auburn. willingly paid for the excess of time taught and the increase of salary in the St. Lucas district. Having no official report on this subject, we are obliged to dispose of the subject in the manner here stated.
The Turkey valley in Auburn township, with its adjacent commanding bluffs, is picturesquely beautiful, and a
source of admiration with all who visit the locality. Falling Springs, situated near the line between this township
and Windsor, is one of the natural features of adornment to which the ingenuity of man has added with a view to
making it a resort for those seeking rest and recreation during the summer time. The place has been fitted up by
the owner, Martin Fell, with electric lights, proper seating, etc., until it is even more attractive by night than
by day. See personal sketch of Mr. Felz for fuller description.