History of Windsor Township, Fayette County,
From: Past and Present of Fayette County, Iowa
B. F. Bowen & Company
Indianapolis, Indiana 1910
Though this township was not formally organized until 1854, entries of land were made there about as early as
in any of the northern townships. David Downs entered the northeast quarter of section 5 on the 8th of September,
1849, and J. R. Eddy entered land in the same locality on the 21st of November, 1849. The township was surveyed
by Guy H. Carlton in August, 1848, and subdivided by William H. Merritt in October of the same year. But the development
of the western and southern portions was tardy, owing to the prevalence of wet land and distance to timber. The
territory was mostly rolling prairie land, with some level tracts of considerable extent, and many granite boulders
of large dimensions. Some of the early settlers lost their lives by being crushed in an effort to bury these obstructions
below the reach of the plow. But these boulders were a characteristic of the prairie townships generally, and have
been utilized, to a considerable extent. by blasting them and using the broken pieces in under pinning houses and
building basement walls. They possess two crowning virtues for such use, viz: durability and beauty.
The early settlers of this township represented nearly every European country. as well as many American states. But the Germans now predominate, and many of that nationality were among the first settlers. John G. Belschner came in 1855; Michael Bopp located on the Bopp homestead, north of Hawkeye, in 1854; William Bravener, a native of England, came in 1861; Oliver A. Brown settled in Windsor township in 1849; William Burling came to Windsor township in 1856; James Burrell, a Scotchman, settled here in 1856; A. B. Carpenter came to the county in 1860, and to his late residence in Windsor a year later; William Colby settled on his Windsor township farm in 1862; Arthur Crawford was there in 1867; Hance Cumming located on the old Cumming homestead in 1854; Thomas Cumming was here in 1865, settling in Windsor at the close of the Civil war; John Deitel came to the township in 1855, and John N. Deitel came the same year (both were natives of Germany); Andrew Doty came to Windsor in 1859, and was one of the few Who enlisted from that township during the Civil war; Robert Dutcher was a resident of Windsor in 1851; Ira and Eugene Goodspeed located in Windsor township in 1857; James Graham came at the close of the war, as did D. W. Wilbur, brother in law; each served his country in organizations from another state: Oliver P. Henderson came in 1857: Robert C. Hughes, a native of Ireland, came to Windsor in 1853; P. R. Ketchum, another Windsor township soldier, came in 1858, and his father, E. R. Ketchum, came a year later; George W. Kibbe located in this township in 1858; Nicholas Koehler came in 1855, and Joseph Mitchell, a native of Switzerland, came the same year; David Minich and his son, Sterling C., came to Windsor township in 1852; John Martin, a Bavarian, came in 1854; George Reissner located in the township in 1855; Absalom Rosier, whose father located in Dover township in 1849, is a native of Fayette county, born in 1855. He has long been a prominent farmer in Windsor township. Adkins J. Morton, a Vermont soldier, located in Windsor at the close of the war; Ransom S. Niles was a Windsor soldier and early settler; George Schrack located in this township in 1859; Jacob Schiatter came in 1856, and Nathan Shaw came ten years later; John Spitzbart came to the township in 1855; Henry Stewart came in 1855 and Thomas Swale was here a year previously; A. Y. Whitmore came to Windsor township in 1854.
The building of the two railroads, which cross each other a half mile south of the Windsor township line, and radiate to the northeast and northwest, across the southern half of the township, undoubtedly stimulated development and hastened the improvement of that section of the township. They also were the means of establishing two trading places within easy reach of the residents of the township, one of which is the handsome and prosperous town of Hawkeye. The other is Dorman, at the junction of the Davenport and St. Paul and the Decorah branch of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific. The first mentioned has three and twenty nine hundredths miles of track in Windsor township, while the latter has two and sixty five hundredths miles. These are assessed for taxation purposes at four thousand dollars and four thousand two hundred dollars per mile, respectively.
THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
Windsor township always manifested great interest in the schools, and usually pays as much in teachers' salaries
as any other district township in the county. As a result of this liberality, good teachers were generally secured,
and when one was found, his (or her) services were retained from term to term. There are eight sub-districts in
the township, each having eight months school during the year. During the school year closing in July, 1909, female
teachers were employed in these schools at an average salary of thirty six dollars and fifty six cents per month.
Of two hundred and forty three persons in the township entitled to school privileges, one hundred and ninety one
were enrolled in the schools and made a total average daily attendance of one hundred twelve. The average cost
of tuition per month for each pupil enrolled was two dollars and sixty one cents. The eight school houses are valued
at three thousand five hundred and fifty dollars, supplied with apparatus valued at two hundred and forty dollars,
with five hundred and eleven volumes in the district libraries.
PATRONS OF HUSBANDRY.
In 1873, when the Grange movement was at its height, Havkeye Grange No. 1083 was instituted at the Center school house. Thirty charter members were enrolled, and constant additions were made to the membership until it became a very strong organization; but membership among the Windsor fanners was not universal. The German Lutherans, of whom there are many. stood aloof, on religious grounds. A co-operative store was established at Eden, a point near enough centrally located to accommodate the four northwest townships. It labored under some disadvantages, in that the village was remote from any railroad, and produce and merchandise had to be hauled with teams to and from the railroad points. Yet, with all these disadvantages, it was a strong competitor and generally successful in holding the farmers trade. This enterprise was under the management of George L. Noble, a well known pioneer in the county. He is now retired in the fullness of years, and living in West Union. The Grange movement gradually died out, but not until it had stimulated county, state and national politics to the recognition of some much needed reforms and prompted legislation thereon.
A very generous distribution of telephone accommodations are found in Windsor township, there being forty five and a quarter miles distributed over the territory. This exceeds the average mileage for the entire county (twenty two townships) by about seven miles, and at the same time is an indication of the progress and "fore handedness" of the people. If times were hard, and money scarce, about the first "luxury" that would be discarded would be the telephone. And yet it is a present day convenience unknown to the pioneers, and thought to be a visionary experiment up to the seventies. It brings the people in touch with each other, with the news of the community, with the market reports, the gossip of the neighborhood, and the news of the outside world, with but little effort and trifling expense. Three companies absorb the business of Windsor, the Iowa Telephone Company, the Hurmence Company and the Hawkeye Telephone Company, the two last mentioned having over thirty six miles of the system.
TOWN OF HAWKEYE.
It is difficult to follow the development of this now prominent and prosperous town. It had its inception at
the building of the Davenport & St. Paul branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad through the
southwest corner of Windsor township, in 1878. The land upon which the principal part of the town is now located
was then a piece of wet meadow land, considered unsafe for mowing purposes, except under the most favorable weather
conditions. The eighty acre tract was inclosed with a tumbled down smooth wire fence. To the north of this, in
a field and distant from the road, was the pioneer home of Peter Burger; to the northeast, and on a road running
north and south, was the home of Thomas Cumming, and the Hawkeye postoffice; south of Cumming. and on a road running
east, was the farm home of J. A. Hull, and west of the eighty acre tract previously mentioned was the pioneer home
of James Burrell. These residences, separated by from forty rods to half a mile, constituted all there was of Hawkeye
in 1878, and none of these, except Burger, was on the site selected for the town. D. W. Wilbur's land came up to
the southern edge of the eighty, but was separated by a road; and his house was a mile farther south. That the
place was considered of little importance is emphasized by the fact that the only meeting place for the community
was at the Hull school house, a mile and a quarter north, or at the Graham school house, about the same distance
south. These conditions prevailed until Hawkeye had become quite a village, and even then its first school house
was located in the town by legal process, the township board of directors assuming that its school interests were
well provided for at the old Hull school house.
EARLY AND PRESENT BUSINESS MEN.
The business men who came to Hawkeye in its early history, and who have become identified with its progress are, as now remembered: S. H. and O. N. Beyans, grain, stock and banking; Thomas Cumming, justice of the peace and merchant; H. R. Palmer and his brother, J. E., general merchandise, and in early days, extensively engaged in the butter business, buying the unsalted product, working and shipping, in connection with the mercantile business. During six years that H. R. Palmer was county clerk, his brother J. E. managed his store, after which he went into business on his own account, was postmaster several years, and sold out his business and resigned the office to go into business elsewhere. He is now at Campbell, California. H. R. still continues the mercantile business so early established. Another very early and extensive general merchandise business was carried on for years by A. J. Sible now deceased. N. Jacobs was an early merchant, the business still continuing. Charles Munson was the first and only harness dealer while he remained in business. A. S. Hathaway started a blacksmith shop and general repair business in an early day, establishing a wind mill for propelling power. His brother, U. M., is in the insurance and general agency business; and is also the only jeweler in the town. C. M. Lockwood and G. E. Hennig were early grain buyers, long since gone from the community, and Mr. Hennig is dead. A. A. Pooler was one of the first hotel keepers, and he operated a small jewelry business in connection. M. V. Henderson, Sr., was Pooler's successor in the hotel business, he having enlarged and modernized the original building, and has conducted the only hotel in the town almost continuously for thirty years. M. V. Henderson, Jr., the only son of the above mentioned, was born, reared and educated in Fayette county, and grew to young manhood around his father's hotel. At the organization of the Bank of Hawkeye, by the Bevans Brothers, he was made the first cashier, and has continued in that position ever since. This is now the First State Bank of Hawkeye, with S. H. Bevans as president. The Bop Brothers opened a banking institution which has recently been merged into the First National Bank of Hawkeye, with C. W. Bopp, president. The reader is referred to the personal biographies of the presidents of these institutions for further details; also for the history of the Free Public Library established in the town by C. W. Bopp. The organization of the three churches in the place, the building of the houses of worship, and general information regarding them, will be found in the special articles on the denominations represented. W. G. Hurd, a near by farmer, was early on the ground as a hardware and furniture dealer and still continues. George W. Ward, now deceased, was in the livery business in Hawkeye in early days, and his son, George Ward, also deceased, was among the first to engage in the transfer business and general teaming. Charles Freiberg succeeded to the Ward livery business and still continues. Graham & Shank, of West Union, established a lumber business in the town, and this has been conducted, either by a member of the firm or a local representative, since the founding of the town. Mr. Parsons, of Maynard, conducted a lumber business in Hawkeye for a short time; otherwise Graham & Shank have been alone in the occupancy of the field. A stock company, with a local representative or two, opened a general stock of merchandise in the brick store building, which was erected, we understand, for this purpose. It was the first brick building erected for mercantile purposes, though the Bopp Brothers Company, a corporation formed for the promotion of building interests and material development, own several other brick buildings at present, one of which is the modern home of the First National Bank. Mr. Ossman was the first shoemaker - still in business; and the Burkharts were early in the mercantile business. John Belschner was an early resident and business man in the place. Byron Mabon and Ed. R. Clark were early stock dealers, and D. W. Wilbur has been engaged, more or less, in the grain and stock business since Hawkeye was founded. Some of his land, at the southwestern extremity of the town, has been platted and sold for building purposes. Mr. Wilbur is one of the most extensive land owners in the township, and is a man who has to be well known to be appreciated. He is a generous, warm hearted friend, but an uncompromising enemy. T. N. Carnall has been the station agent at Hawkeye for many years, and has become thoroughly identified with the social, fraternal and literary functions of the place, as well as an active business man whose interests are varied and extensive. John Schlagel has long been identified with the lumber business of Graham & Shank, and is an active and useful citizen of the community. John Shales and A. B. Peters have been interested in the development of the place from early days the former as a carpenter and builder, and the latter as a merchant and postmaster. John B. Palmer is an extensive contractor and builder - a son of Caleb M. Palmer, an early resident of the county, who spent his last years on a Windsor township farm. I. G. Chamberlain was one of the first hardware merchants in the place, and J. C. Foot was among the first in the restaurant business. Later Mr. Foot was identified with other lines of business. Michael Riley, a student of the writer's forty years ago, has been the section foreman almost from the building of the road, and is an old settler in Hawkeye. His wife, who was Mary Cassaday, and a student in the same school with her husband, is conducting a restaurant in the town. Chris. Keegan was early in the saloon business in Hawkeye, but removed to Westgate where lie now lives, a law abiding and respected citizen. V. S. Webb was the first druggist in the place, and his wife, Minnie (Eastman) Webb, was the first music teacher. Other druggists have been Walker, Foote, Fisher, Brooks, all continuing the first and only store.
Hawkeye is the home of quite a number of retired farmers who have built comfortable homes and added to the general
growth and prosperity of the town. Among the first of these were the McGoon brothers. R. F. and Albert, who soon
became interested in various lines of business, but principally in stock and grain. G. W. Chamberlain, a very early
pioneer in Bethel township, where he owns a large and valuable farm, is living in Hawkeye enjoying a well earned
respite from the active labors which characterized his earlier life. Gurnsey Smith is another retired farmer whose
productive years were fraught with success, and who is now enjoying the comforts of his fine home in the western
edge of town. C. A. Weed and William H. Barnett retired from their farms and located in Hawkeye, but were not permitted
to long enjoy the fruits of earlier labors and self denials, both being deceased. John D. Dooley, a retired farmer
from Center township, and a representative of the first company organized in Fayette county for the Civil war.
is justice of the peace in Hawkeye. Frank van Bogart is another veteran soldier retired from the farm and living
in Hawkeye. James H. Blunt may be classed as a retired farmer, though his activity in the superintendence of his
farms and stock business rather contradicts the imputation. No doubt there are several others whose names should
appear in the list of business men or retired farmers whose investments and business interests have done as much
for the town and community as any that are mentioned, and we must apologize to them for the unintentional omission.
Hawkeye has three principal lodges, besides the usual complement of fraternal insurance organizations, some
of which maintain a regular local organization, while others operate only through local officials who attend to
the financial business of collecting assessments, etc.
As previously intimated in this chapter, the first school accommodations of the village were at the Hull school
house, a barren and unsightly location a mile and a quarter to the north of the embryo city. For a time the children
traversed the prairie road, in winter obstructed with snow, and in summer waded the tall, wet, grass, for there
was but little travel over the road, and it was only a blind track, almost obliterated by the luxuriant growth
of wild grass. Finally the patrons of the school petitioned the township board to be set off into another district,
or to have a second school provided at township expense. The second of these propositions was the only one upon
which the board took action, and really was the only one over which they had jurisdiction. This they peremptorily
denied, and the aggrieved patrons took appeal to the county superintendent of schools. He heard the case on the
ground, being well informed as to the needs of the town, and the inconvenience of school attendance of small children
at the Hull school house. After a patient hearing, continuing two days, he reversed the action of the township
school board, and ordered them to sustain a school in Hawkeye. Politically speaking, the county superintendent
got more than one "black eye" because of his interference in this matter, as the writer can fully verify!