History Cono Township, Iowa County, IA
From: History of Iowa County, Iowa And its People
By: James C. Dinwiddie
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. Chiago 1915


As early as the year 1843 William Foster came and settled on section 8, township 81, range 11, and afterward went to Keokuk County. Andrew D. Stephens came about the year 1844 and located on section 1. He was a native of Ohio. Isaac Craig arrived about 1843 and took a claim in section 9, but did not stay very long. John Adams came about 1843 also. It is said that he was the first settler in what is now Cono Township. He went to Iowa City in '46. It is probable that he built the first house, of rails and sod, in the township. Robert Furnas came from Miami County, Ohio, in 1845 and in the fall of the year reached Keokuk County. The next spring he went over into Johnson County and on July 4, 1846, commenced laying the foundation of a cabin in Cono Township. In September he brought his wife and family. William Greenlee, of the Buckeye State, settled on the northwest corner of section t in the fall of 1846. J. W. Athey came from Indiana at the same time and took a claim on section 8. He later moved to Marengo and there died. Squire Brown also came in 1846 and settled in the north part of section 8. He was from Indiana. Alexander Hutson arrived in the spring of 1847 and located on section 6. He died in 1875 and was buried in Dayton Cemetery. He was a native of Maryland. Elijah Trueblood came from Indiana in 1846 and settled near the center of section 3. He was from Indiana and afterward went to Benton County.

The first marriage in Cono Township was that of John Gwin and Caroline Wilson in the spring of 1848. Andrew Meacham married them at the log cabin of Robert Furies. The first white child born in the township was Henry Clay Greenlee, a son of William and Esther Greenlee, born in 1848. John Adams did the first breaking of land in the township.


Squire Brown and Judson W. Athey both entered land on July to, 1846, the former in section 8 and the latter in section 6. Following them came: William Greenlee, February t, 1847; Robert Furnas. February 8, 1847; Elijah Trueblood, July 7, 1848; William Alvey, July 18, 1848; Richard B. Groff, October 12, 1848.


Cono Township was organized by official order on March 3, 1856, and the first election was held at the brick schoolhouse on the first Monday in April, 1846. At this election the following were elected: trustees, Robert Furnas, William Fumas, R. M. Merrifield; justices, Alexander Hutson, S. T. Coats; constables, F. B. Merrifield, Robert Pearson; clerk, David Furies; assessor, J. W. Athey.


This town was laid out by William Greenlee on June 27, 1857. It was located in the southwest quarter of section 1, township 81, range 11, and named Dayton in honor of William L. Dayton, who was republican nominee for vice president with Fremont in 1856. It became quite a flourishing country village at one time, but there is nothing resembling a building left at this time.

[From an interview with John R. Brown]

The tribes of Indians most prominent in this territory were the Musquakies and the Pottawatomies. In the memory of John R. Brown there was once quite a tribe of Sioux Indians encamped near his father's home, staying there all the night. After they had gone in the morning another bunch of Indians -Musquakies- overtook them at Knapp Creek. Both sides had whiskey with them and were in all degrees of drunkenness and sobriety, so naturally a fight started. The settlers who were friends of both took a hand in the fight and quieted them. As a rule, however, the Indians were peaceable. There was a white man named Henry Sprague who sold them whiskey by the barrel, and on occasions the red men would get offensive. Billy Greenlee took the Musquakies to Kansas, but after a time they came back and located at Tama.

Mr. Brown's father came from Ohio, when he was but twelve years of age; in fact, many of the settlers of Cono came from the Buckeye State. There were very few of the settlers from foreign lands. Land was first settled along the stream, for the reason that the eastern people had always been used to timber and believed that the timber land would be the most valuable. Then again, they were handy to water and fuel. Many of the settlers located on Buckeye Creek.

When the corn was ready to pick the farmer would gather a few loads and the neighbors would come over at night and help shuck it. It was the rule that the first girl finding a red ear would have to kiss all the boys. In other localities it has been that the first boy finding a red ear could kiss all the girls.

The breaking plow was equipped with a standing cutter. Ten yoke of oxen were used in breaking the prairie; the boys drove the lead yoke through hazel brush and underbrush six and eight feet high. Horses were not used as it was thought they would not be strong enough. Spring seats in wagons were a luxury. The coming of the first buggy, owned by Billy Sayres, was an event. He drove to camp meeting with his sweetheart, Miss Baugh, in the first trip.

In the winter of 1855 John R. Brown's father and grandfather caught enough timber wolves to realize bounty sufficient to enter 16o acres of land near the Johnson County line, just east of Lake Amana. Mr. Brown's father drove from his home to Muscatine to have his grist ground; Iowa City was the market for dressed pork. He also drove hogs to market at Marengo; these hogs were wild, in fact, so wild that they ran all the way to town and the men had difficulty in keeping up with them.

Tobacco was raised in very small quantities by some of the settlers. Everybody made hard and soft soap. The general of the people was good, although the seven year itch and the ague occurred often.

Every farmer had sheep in those days. They would card the wool and Aunt Jane Furnas had a loom and she would spin it. It was then taken to Glasses mills between Cedar Rapids and Center Point and woven into cloth.

A list of the early settlers of Cono Township follows: Frank Merrifield, George Meyers, Peter Myers, Squire Brown, Judson Athey, Alexander Hudson, John G. Macy, Doctor Steenberger, Milton Merrifield, Robert Furies, Sam Mills, Doctor Furnas, David Debree, Billy Greenlee, David Hessey, Ebenezer S. Brown, Levi Brenton.

On being asked about the nature of pioneer buildings and reasons for limited household furniture, Mr. Brown pointed out an old log house standing in the rear of a beautiful large two story modern frame farm dwelling. "There," he said: "is the reason. That's the first house, the pioneer home. We had no room for much furniture, no money to buy it, and no convenient way to bring it away out here from such distant markets." Then pointing to another house, a one and one half story dwelling in a fair state of preservation, "there is the second; and here," pointing to the larger one, "is the third stage of Iowa County farm progress." He then called our attention to his old log corncrib and the old log barn by way of contrast with his fine large barn and corncribs with all modem equipments and machinery.

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