History of Windsor Township, Fayette County, IA
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.

Much sloughy land in this township (as in others) was subdued by the cultivation of flax, which for a number of years was employed for this purpose, the seed being marketable at good prices. No effort was ever made, in this locality, to utilize the fiber, except as roofing for sheds, for which purpose it is said to have excelled prairie grass.

With but few exceptions, the first settlers in this township located in the northern part, being thus near the Auburn timber, and at the same time on the most rolling land. For the same reasons the eastern part was the next choice, and the settlement of the southern and western sections was delayed until the last. But there were a few very early settlers who located west of the center of the township, and some near the western border. A postoffice was established at Hawkeye in 1869, with the late D. D. T. Hull as postmaster. Mr. Hull had four sons, George, Alphonzo, Frank P. and Thomas, who were early land owners in the vicinity of the Hawkeye postoffice of early days. Thomas Cumming was the successor of D. D. T. Hull as postmaster, and held the office for several years before the town of Hawkeye was founded. Tames Burrell, Peter Burger, J. A. Hull and Thomas Cumming had farm homes near the site chosen for the town, but not on the original location.

The Windsor postoffice was established in 1853, first on section 5, but subject to removal to other farm homes, as the postmasters were changed. It was discontinued with the introduction of the rural free delivery system. This office was discontinued in 1868 and re-established in 1869. The names of the first postmasters are also a quite complete record of the early settlers in that part of the township and for the double information conveyed, they are given here: David Downs was the first postmaster, appointed in December, 1853; he was succeeded by Horace C. Wood, in March, 1855; Wood was followed by James Johnson, Brinson W. Slocum, Byram Craft, Charles A. Sawyer, Ovram Pratt, W. M. Elmer and Charles S. Waite.

Brinson W. Slocum laid out the "town of Windsor" on section 9, and had the plat recorded in 1856, but the hopes of the founders were never realized. It was only a "paper" town.

The first election in Windsor township was held at the Austin school house, April 3, 1854. James Austin, George W. Campbell and David H. Downs were elected judges of the election, and Isaac Howe and David Downs were the clerks. Oliver A. Brown and David H. Downs were elected justices of the peace; Thomas Turner, Andrew Woodson and Robert Dutcher, trustees; Rhodolphus Eddy and George W. Thomas„ constables; Washington Cory, township clerk. and Isaac Howe, township assessor.

The first action of the trustees was to divide the township into two road districts. Jerome Millard being the supervisor in the east half and Orrison Wickham had official control of the west half.

Since there are no streams of importance in this township, the building of the pioneer mill within its borders was not among the early features of material development. But the mills at West Union. "Bloomertown," Auburn and Gouldsburg were within easy reach from the eastern and northern boundaries, and not at "impossible" distances from any part of the township.

For a great many years after the settlement began, West Union and Auburn were the only trading places for a large area of the county, including Banks, Bethel, Eden and Windsor townships, unless the people preferred to go outside of the county to Lawler or Sumner, each in a different county. A trip to the market town, to mill, or to the timber, meant for most of them a long and tedious Hays work; and though the road was a comparatively level one, it was fraught with dangers, both in summer and winter. In the former by reason of many impassable sloughs which were a menace to public travel, especially with loaded teams; and in winter, the land being largely unfenced, there was danger of being driven out of the course by blinding snow storms, since the travel seldom followed any regular track, for the reason previously mentioned.

But these pioneer hardships and dangers have been largely superseded by the better conditions which have been ushered in by the wheels of progress. It is doubtful if there is today an unfenced forty of land in Windsor township, or one without some improvement on it. The formerly wet land has dried out under cultivation, which causes more rapid evaporation, while the decrease in the annual amount of rain fall has done the rest. Windsor township compares favorably today with the best in the county. Its farm homes, splendid barns, fine cultivated fields and herds of fine stock, all indicate the thrift and industry which are essential to such development.


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.


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.

For many years a parochial school has been taught at the Lutheran church, near the center of the township, by the pastors in charge. This detracts somewhat from the average daily attendance in the public schools. as the enrollment is drawn almost entirely from Windsor township. It has been the purpose in years past to open the parochial school at a time when the public schools were closed; but this has not always been possible.


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.


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.

But energy and push predominated from the first, and when it was known that a station Would be located at this point, a trading place and grain market sprang into existence, almost in a night. Soon a hotel followed, with other stores, mechanical shops, livery stable, lumber yard, a creamery, more stores, a bank, and finally two banks, churches, a fine school building of four rooms. And during these years of business progression, the people were kept busy in building homes, laying out and improving streets, making side walks, attending to drainage and sewerage, and the multitudinous duties involved in building up a new town, at the latter end of the nineteenth century. Finally they needed a newspaper to tell of the public achievements. For a time Hawkeye and Waucoma used the same paper, with the publication end at the last named place; but this was not an altogether satisfactory arrangement and the Hawked Beacon was brought into existence, and this is the news oracle of the town at present. Will N. Rogers, a native of the adjoining township of Eden, is the editor and publisher, and under his able management the paper has kept pace with the town in the matter of development and influence.


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.

The town of Hawkeye was incorporated on the t5th of April, 1895, since which time most of the systematic work in grading and street improvement has been done. The main street of the town, which runs east and west, is handsomely built up on both sides for nearly a mile, and is macadamized for the greater part of this distance. Upon this street the principal business houses, banks and the hotel are located. There are also some handsome residences located to the east and west of the business center. But the principal residence district is on the cross streets, or on a parallel street to the north. The school house and Methodist Episcopal church are located on the latter. The Catholic church on the main street, and the German Lutheran at the southwest corner of town.

A handsome little park adorns the south side of the street, for a block or more, at the business center, this being established, for the most part, on railroad lands. It is a cozy resort, in hot weather, for the women and children, and most of the out door gatherings of the people are held there.

The ladies of Hawkeye are mostly of a literary turn of mind, and have given much appreciated entertainments, especially in connection with the Ladies' Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal church. They have recently organized a History and Travel Club which promises to be an important acquisition to the literary annals of the town.


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.

Hawkeye Post, Grand Army of the Republic, was the first fraternal organization in the town. It mustered a good membership, having a large area from which to collect them, and had a prosperous existence for many years. In 1891 the annual reunion of the Fayette County Veterans' Association was held at Hawkeye, under the auspices of the Grand Army of the Republic post. But deaths, removals and the decrepitude of old soldiers, generally have committed sad havoc with the organization, and the few continuing members have united with the post at West Union, from which the charter members for the Hawkeye organization were originally transferred.

Relief Lodge No. 138, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized under favorable auspices, by G. W. Fitch, district deputy grand master, assisted by a large delegation of visiting brethren from Round Grove, Randahlia and Auburn lodges. Thirty five candidates were initiated. the lodge officers elected and installed, and a fine banquet fully discussed. This organization grew strong and prosperous, having the field of fraternalism entirely to itself for ten years or more. It was a live, working lodge during its years of activity, and still maintains its organization with a fair membership.

But the organization of Windsor Lodge No. 542, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, wrought havoc with the Odd Fellows, in that there was not a sufficient population of eligible and willing subjects within the jurisdiction of the two lodges, to properly sustain both organizations. Many of the leading members joined the Masons, and apparently lost their interest in the Odd Fellows fraternity. But we will let Grand Master Cements tell the story of Windsor Lodge No. 542.

Hawkeye has had a number of prominent physicians, but we will leave the discussion of this matter to the chapter on the Medical Profession in Fayette County, as appears elsewhere in this volume.

Barring only the town of Westgate, Hawkeye is the youngest town in Fayette county, though Wadena was incorporated a few months after Hawkeye, but that town had a nominal existence for forty five years before the first building was erected on the site of Hawkeye. Westgate was incorporated in May, 1896, and this village, like Hawkeye, came into existence as the outgrowth of railroad building through the place. Both have had a phenomenal growth, and each is located in the center of splendid contributory territory. Hawkeye has cut off, mostly from West Union, a vast area of country trade, and many people in Banks, Bethel and Windsor townships, who formerly did nearly all of their trading at the county seat, now seldom go there except at tax paying time. And the interception of this trade has been the life of Hawkeye, to the detriment of her older and formidable rival.


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!

But the Hawked school was established and housed in a little frame building, inadequate to the needs of the district, even from the first. Eventually, however, the independent district of Hawkeye was separated from the district township, and a school house was built by the corporation consistent with the needs of the growing town. This is a handsome brick building with four rooms now occupied for school purposes. Its estimated value is eight thousand dollars. During the school year ending in July, 1909 - the latest official report - there were nine months school, taught by one male and four female teachers, the former receiving a salary of sixty five dollars per month and the latter an average of forty three dollars and seventy five cents each per month. There are two hundred and seventy persons within the bounds of the district between the ages of five and twenty one years, of whom one hundred and forty eight were enrolled in the school. There were twenty nonresident students enrolled above the ninth grade. The average daily attendance in all departments was one hundred and twelve. The tuition fees contributed by the non resident students was one hundred and eighty nine dollars and seventy one cents, and the total average cost of tuition for each pupil in the school was two dollars and fourteen cents. The disparity between the school enumeration and the number actually enrolled is accounted for, in a measure, by the absence of some of the older students in attendance at higher institutions of learning. Then the radius is a wide one - five to twenty one - and few students attend even the high schools as late as their twenty first year. Many of the girls are married (and some of the boys) and other cares than the matter of elementary education absorb their thoughts.

The school apparatus in the Hawkey schools is valued at one thousand dollars. The city having a free public library of fifteen hundred volumes, and available to all, no special effort has been made to accumulate a school library, except reference books. Of these there are a hundred volumes.

Some excellent instructors have been employed in the schools of Hawkeye, whose efforts have always been sustained by the intelligent people of the community. This is one of the accredited high schools whose graduates are eligible to matriculation in the higher institutions of learning under state jurisdiction.

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