History of Adams Township, Wapello County, IA
From: History of Wapello County, Iowa
By Harrison L. Waterma, Supervising Editor
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. Chicago 1914


Adams Township occupies all of the congressional township 71, range 14. It lies in the southwestern corner of the county, with Monroe County on the west and Davis County to the south of it. The Township of Green is its eastern boundary, and Polk Township the northern. The land, which is high roiling prairie, is drained by Bear Creek and Little Soap. There is some coal. The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad enters the township on section 6, and running in a southwesterly direction, leaves its boundaries at the northwest corner of section 7.

This township was organized in June, 1844, and at the first election James F., Adams, R. B. Holcomb and Lawson Bradley were the judges.

Among the first settlers in this township were James F. Adams, for whom the township was named; Theophilus Blake, Cyrus Van Cleave, Lawson Bradley, the Brocks, Drapers, Raistons and others.

Caleb Cloyd came in 1844 and bought a farm in section 8, Adams Township. With the assistance of his father, he cleared the land and became a successful farmer. Mr. Cloyd died in 1891, leaving a widow, who was the daughter of a pioneer of 1843. This couple were the parents of several children born in the community.

N. Derby was a veteran of the Civil war. He settled in Wapello County in 1846, and was one of the pioneers of Adams Township.

John Lober, after coming to Adams Township in 1849, worked at shoemaking until 1875, when he started a general store at Blakeshurg.

B. Abegg was a native of Ohio. He came here in 1851. He served in the Civil war.

M. Nichols wads born in Wapello County in 1851 and married Lizzie Reedborn in the county in 1852. This family located in Adams Township.

D. W. Shepard engaged in farming in this township in 1853.

Samuel Millard settled here in 1854. He was prosperous and enterprising. He held important township offices.

W. A. Arnold settled in Adams Township in 1855. He was a native of Ohio.

Allen Johnston came to Wapello County from Ohio with his family in 1855, and located on a farm one mile northeast of Blakesburg. He came to Ottumwa in 1867; began selling sewing machines, cutlery, machinery and many other useful articles.

G. Schoech, a German immigrant, located here in 1856. He became prosperous and reared on an Adams County farm, a large family of children.

Benjamin Fritz, a German immigrant, located on a farm in this township in the '50s. He built a residence, married and reared a family of eight children. Soon after marriage Mr. Fritz left the farm and became a merchant at Blakesburg. Henry Fritz, born on the homestead, succeeded his father in the Blakesburg establishment.

C. Rosman located in the township in 1857.

J. B. Miller, of Ohio, came to Blalcesburg in 1857, and the following three years had a tin and stove establishment. He removed to Ottumwa in 186o, and in the following years was identified with the firm of Kraner, Washburn & Company.

C. S. Bomar, a native of Kentucky, came to Wapello County in 1858, and opened a general store at Blakesburg in 1866.

As a matter of course, there were no mills or anything else in the county made by man. Many who came at this day were compelled to go to distant mills for flour and corn meal. Some went to Moffett's mill on the Skunk River; at Augusta, in Des Moines County, seventy five or eighty miles distant; others went to Meek's mill in Van Buren County, forty or fifty miles distant. Some used an old coffee mill, with which to grind buckwheat for cakes. Six and eight days were frequently spent on these mill trips.

It was in the early '4os that the first schoolhouse was erected. It was built of hewn logs, with ground dimensions 20x30, and was located at Cross Roads, on the edge of Vvapello County, about one mile north of the southwest corner. It was long known as the Jay schoolhouse. The first teacher was Elizabeth Ricketts. She had for her pupils children of Archibald and Charles Dorothy, Enoch Way, the Ellsworths, James A. Begg, the Cowans, John Commons and Grinstaffs. The building was used for many years also for church purposes. Then a church building was erected across the line in Monroe County, and was attended by settlers of Adams Township.


Blakesburg is located on section 7 and is a railroad station on the line of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. It was laid out in 1852 by Theopliilus Blake and Cyrus Van Cleave, pioneer settlers of the township. The hamlet is situated upon high rolling prairie, and at the time of its birth, was near a heavy body of timberland. In this vicinity there is considerable coal. In 1856 the place had grown to considerable importance and contained a good grist and sawmill, four dry goods stores, three blacksmith shops, a wagon and plow shop, a cabinet shop, shoemaker, gunsmith, tailor and saddler's shops. There were aiso three physicians, two ministers, and a lawyer.

Both the Methodist and Baptist societies early organized, and put up houses of worship in the town.

In 1860 there were 265 people, residents of the village; this number had increased by 1910 to 344.

Among the first settlers was Daniel Carl, who located here in 1847. Hem was justice of the peace thirty four years, and was given the distinction by Judge Hendershott of being the best justice in Wapello County.

Capt. S. G. Finney located in the vicinity of the town in 1854. He built the first brick house in Blakesburg. The building later became the home of the Blakeshurg bank.

The first merchants were Butcher & Van Cleave, and Leighton & Warden. The Leighton mentioned was the father of A. C. Leighton, of Ottumwa, and the junior member of the firm was Dr. C. C. Warden, later of Ottumwa. Other early merchants were Samuel Hurst and the Long brothers.


The postoffice was established in Blakeshurg, January 24, 1851, with William Kinder as postmaster. He was succeeded February 2, 1853, by S. H. Butcher, and S. G. Finney took up the burdens of the position February 28, 1857. During his administration the name of the office was changed to Amador, December 8, 1857, which meant the reappointment of S. G. Finney at that time. His successors in office under this name were as follows: S. W. Hurst, June 8, 1859; S. A. Swiggett, April 20, 1861; G. A. Derby, August 23, 1862; J. F. Adams, November 6, 1863; under Mr. Adams administration, on August 25, 1865, them office was renamed Blakesburg, and has so continued to the present day. Mr. Adams was reappointed and held the office until he handed it over to his successor, D. C. Ryboit, September 3, 1866. Those who followed Mr. Ryholt are the following named persons: B. F. Pratt, February 9, 1869; C. W. Pratt, February 12, 1872; D. C. Ryboit, April 14, 1874; D. L. Hardy, March 23, 188o; L. F. Stuart, July 22, 1885; Charles W. Reading, April 25, 1889; Mrs. Samaranus Barnes, April 11, 1893; Moses H. Abernathy, April 17, 1897.


The Blakesburg Savings Bank was established in 1900, with a capital of $20,000. J. T. Hackworth is president; Walter Abegg, cashier. The surplus and undivided profits are $10,000; deposits, $90,000.


W. H. H. Asbury, who resided in Ottumwa at the time, prepared the following history of the part played in the great war by Blakesburg boys, which was read here on the occasion of the Blakesburg Old Settlers' and Old Soldiers' Association meeting, held August 24, 1903:

President Lincoln issued his first call for soldiers April 15, 1861, to serve for three months. The Blakesburg boys answering this call were Ermon E. Macstick, Z. M. McAllister, Joseph Berkey, Jr., James Blake, John Coen, George W. Graves, George Lottridge, William Reed, W. H. H. Asbury, Henry Blake, Conrad Stocker and H. H. Hornbaker, they enlisting in a body at Ottumwa in Capt. C. C. Cioutman's company. The company was filled to its maximum and was ready to go to the front in less than a week from the date of the president's call.

Failing to get his company into the regiment allotted to Iowa, the governor offered Captain Cloutman's company a place in the Second Iowa Infantry, a three year regiment. On the company's reorganization for three years, eight of the twelve boys from Blakesburg became a part of the company, to wit: Ermon E. Macstick, who in less than a year became the company's captain; Z. M. McAllister, Joseph Berkey, Jr., James Blake, John Coen, George W. Graves, George Lottridge, and William Reed. Of these eight young fellows, two, Joseph Berkey, Jr., and James Blake, were killed in the Second Iowa's famous charge on Fort Donelson, February 15, 1862, all the Blakesburg boys participating in the assault.


During the months of June and July, 1861, a "home guard" company was drilling in the streets of Blakesburg at least two days of each week. The people of the burg were scarcely a day during this time out of hearing of the fife and drum. Out of this "home guard" company there went into the Third Iowa Cavalry in Augusta, Alvin H. Griswold who was made a second lieutenant of the company, George W. Stamm, who was promoted through the various grades of minor company offices to that of first lieutenant; Thomas Commons, who became an orderly sergeant; John D. Pickett, A. K. Ewing, W. H. Blake, A. D. Woodruff, Willard S. Lewis, John Church, George W. Holt, Aaron Millard, James M. Miller, August Ortloff, Robert Terrill, Nathaniel W. Williamson, Thomas Bourman, Nathaniel Barnes, William Austin, W. H. H. Asbury and Andrew J. Graves, all became members of Company K of the regiment, except Barnes, Asbury and Graves, who were members of Company D, E and M, respectively. On the regiment's return home in February, 1864, on veteran furlough, the following Blakesburg boys joined, to wit: Samuel Austin, Adolph Carlton, Walden W. Lewis and Hugh McQueen.


Of the Blakesburg "squad" who went into the Third Iowa Cavalry, Lieut. A. H. Griswold was killed by the enemy in ambush at Village Creek, Arkansas, June 27, 1862; A. K. Ewing was killed in battle at La Grange, Arkansas, May I, 1863; James Monroe Miller was killed in the assault on Columbus, Georgia, in the last battle of the war east of the Mississippi, April 18, 1865; William Austin and Thomas Burman were captured at Ripley, Mississippi, June 11, 1864, carried to Andersonville, where they died of starvation. W. H. Blake returned home broken in health and died at his mother's home in Blakesburg shortly after the close of the war, as direct a victim of army service as any who died of battle wounds. Robert Terrill died of pneumonia while at home on veteran furlough, in February, 1864.


During the summer of 1861, other Blakesburg boys went to the front as follows: William K. Litsey, Conrad Stocker, Watson Woodruff and Daniel Stocker as members of the Seventh Iowa Infantry; Daniel Easeley, Jr., Silas Adams, Lawson Carlton and R. W. Tuttle, First Iowa Cavalry; Hiram Hull, Eighth Iowa Infantry; A. N. Stamm, Fourth Iowa Cavalry; George Ryboit, Seventeenth Iowa Infantry; the four Stocker brothers, Hiram, Henry, Isaac and Alvin, Thirtieth Iowa Infantry; Capt. D. L. Hardy and Joseph Shay of the First Colorado Cavalry. Of these William K. Litsey was killed at Layo Ferry, Atlanta campaign, May 15, 1864, and Watson Woodruff died in the hospital at Keokuk, of wounds received in the same engagement.


During the slimmer of 1862 the Thirty sixth Iowa was organized. Blakesburg and its tributary neighborhoods furnished many men for this regiment, Company B being largely made up in Adams Township. These men were: Capt. S. A. Swiggett, B. F. Abegg, John W. Ayres, Lucius Bond, William Daniton, Nelson Derby, John R. Fent, Lacy Garlinghouse, Ashford Goode, Daniel Goode, Peter Goode, George Howard, Thomas Kendall, John W. McMahill, Amos J. McCormack, H. A. Pratt, Earl Barrows, Ben Carter, Orin A. Derby, Thomas Peters, S. J. Bader, C. W. Reeding, John H. Smith, P. R. S. Tinsley, David S. Turpin, John Wood, Jacob West, Levi West, John N. Belles, Isaac N. Belles, W. C. Derby, and Calvin Smith, all of Company B; Asa S. Baird, Marshal Law, Laurel Belles and John T. Riddle, all of Company A; Anderson Hopper, William H. Taylor and J. S. Robertson of Company K.


Of the above, Isaac N. Belles, Banion O. Custer, Benjamin Carter and Isaac Belles were killed at Marks Mills, Arkansas, April 25, 1864. The following were wounded in the same engagement: Lucius Bond, James B. Fent, Levi Gates, Peter Goode, Thomas J. McCormack, Calvin H. Smith, Daniel Williams, David E. Williams, Albert Grimes, Thomas A. Carter. Those who have died were Earl Barrows, Henry R. Fent, J. II. Smith, David S. Turpin, John Wood, Samuel H. Terrell, W. H. Taylor and Joseph Robertson.


Number of Blakesburg men in the Thirty sixth Regiment, total, 44; killed, 4; wounded, to; died, 8; total, 22. Fatalities and wounded being just one half of the number enlisted. All those in the battle of Marks Mills who were able to travel were taken to Tyler, Texas, as prisoners of war.

In 1863, J. C. Barrows, George Reed and Charles C. Ross entered the Eighth Iowa Cavalry, and W. S. Coen and Frank Perrin joined the Fifth Iowa Cavalry as recruits.


Blakesburg furnished a contingent of "old boys" who went into the Thirty seventh Iowa Infantry known as the Grey Beards. They were Theophilus Blake, Sr., Thomas Lottridge, Benjamin Asbury, Joseph Berkeyson, Charles W. Derby, William Fent, Isaac Hornbaker, Silas Reynolds and Frederick Schroyer. While these old boys were not intended for active field duty they were quite as valuable to the service as the younger and more active regiments in guarding prisoners and doing post and garrison work.

Of the above, Theophilus Blake, Sr., returned home on sick furlough, in 1864, and died shortly afterward. All these are now dead except C. W. Derby, now in his eighty eighth year, and who lives with his son, Nelson, near Blakesburg.

Thus I have briefly gone over the part taken by Blakesburg people in the great slaveholders' rebellion. The subject is worthy of better treatment than I have given it. I think I am correct as far as I have gone, but I fear there are some omissions.

In conclusion I will call your attention to the fact, that in no campaign west of the Alleghenies, but in some part a Blakesburg soldier could he found. Blakesburg soldiers were at Belmont, Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, luka, Pea Ridge, Moors Mills, Hartville, Helena, Vicksburg, Jenkins Ferry, Marks Mills, Little Rock, Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain, Sherman's campaigns of a dozen battles before Atlanta. Some were fighting Indians and guarding emigrant trains. Some of them were with "Sherman's dashing Yankee boys" that went "marching through Georgia." They were in the great cavalry raid in 1864, that annihilated Price's army in the states of Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas; some of them were in that greatest cavalry movement ever made, that left Gravelly Springs, Mississippi, in February, 1865, and in three columns rode over Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, and fought in the last battle of the war at Columbus, Georgia, April 18, 1865. Some of them were in the chase to catch Jefferson Davis and his cabinet, but a Michigan cavalry regiment had the good luck to make the capture. Blakesburg boys were all right in the Civil war, and made a good record. None were better.

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