Search billions of records on

Appanoose County >> 1913 Index

Past and present of Appanoose County, Iowa: ... 
L. L. Taylor, editor.  Chicago : S. J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1913. 



Unless otherwise specified, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.

HOWARD F. McDONALD, a man of strong and forceful individuality, has at an early age worked his way upward to an important place in business circles of Centerville and each step in his career has brought him a broader outlook and wider opportunities. He has carefully noted and used his advantages for progress and is today one of the successful men of his part of the county, being engaged in the shoe business and otherwise influentially associated with the general business life of his community. He is a native of Appanoose county, having been born in Walnut township, April 6, 1880. His parents are George W. and Sarah A. (Long) McDonald, the former a native of Indiana and the latter of Missouri. The father of our subject came to Iowa with his parents when he was still a child, settling in Appanoose county in 1853. He grew to maturity in that section and was educated in the public schools, engaging in farming after laying aside his books. He first rented a forty acre tract and was so successful in its development and cultivation that he was later able to buy the property, which he improved until 1900. From time to time he bought more land and added it to his original tract, his holdings finally comprising six hundred and sixty acres. This farm he developed until his retirement in 1900, when he moved to Centerville, where he has resided since that time. He owns a great deal of town property, holding the title to five residences in the town limits.

In the acquirement of an education Howard F. McDonald attended the public schools of Walnut township and was graduated from the Centerville high school. After this he began his active business career, securing employment in a wholesale grocery conducted by T. R. Riggs and he continued in this position for some months. Later he was employed in the shoe store conducted by R. A. McKee and retained this connection for two years. In November, 1903, he accepted a position with the First National Bank as collector and his ability, energy and industry soon gained him advancement to the position of assistant cashier. During this time he was also secretary of the Citizens Coal Company. In 1908 he resigned his position with the First National Bank and accepted his former position in the shoe store operated by R. A. McKee. He did able work as a salesman until September 16, 1910, when he purchased the shoe business formerly conducted by T. L. Greenleaf, which he has managed since that time. He carries a large and well assorted stock, the lines of which are kept up-to-date and complete, and he enjoys a large patronage. In business affairs he has been found practical as well as progressive, and his energy and determination have enabled him to overcome all obstacles and difficulties in his path. He owns a beautiful modern home in North Ninth street in Centerville and has valuable property holdings in Boise City, Idaho. He is also connected with some of the most important business enterprises in Centerville, being a stockholder in the Mutual Telephone Company and also in the Centerville Gypsum Company.

On May 30, 1910, Mr. McDonald married Miss Myra M. Simpson, a daughter of Andy M. and Mattie (Powers) Simpson. The father came to Iowa in pioneer times and operated a farm in Washington county until 1906, when he came to Appanoose county and purchased two hundred and forty acres which he is developing and improving. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald are the parents of one child, Marion B., who is now sixteen months old.

Fraternally Mr. McDonald belongs to the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. His religious views are in accord with those of the Christian church, and politically he adheres to the democratic party. In business he is progressive, carrying forward to successful completion whatever he undertakes and utilizing the opportunities that are presented for progress, and he has thus gained a creditable position in business circles and the honor, respect and esteem of his many friends.


The real builders and promoters of Appanoose county have largely been the men who came into the region when it was unbroken prairie, and utilizing its natural resources transformed the unimproved land into rich and productive fields. In a history of the pioneer development of any state certain family names stand forth prominently, by reason of the influence, which the lives and activities of the men, who bore them, had upon general progress and advancement. In Appanoose county the name of McDonald has been an honored and respected one since pioneer times and the work which the early settlers did in development, the present generation is carrying forward in expansion. among the most notable members of the family at the present time is John C. McDonald, one of the substantial, prominent and influential business men of Cincinnati, Iowa, as well as one of the most public-spirited and progressive of its citizens. The record of the family in America extends back many years, to William McDonald, who founded the family in the states, coming in early times from his native Scotland to Mercer county, Pennsylvania, where he made a permanent location. From him was descended Daniel McDonald, the progenitor of the family in Iowa and the father of the subject of this review. He was born in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, March 10, 1814, and there grew to maturity, acquiring his education in the public schools. He married Miss Mary Stewart, a native of Ireland, and afterward resided with his wife in Mercer county for a number of years. In 1852 he moved west to Iowa, locating first in Lee county, where he engaged in farming for two years. In 1854 he moved to Appanoose county and there located upon the present site of the village of Cincinnati, which has now grown to be one of the prosperous communities of Appanoose county. The father of our subject took up a tract of raw prairie land, broke the soil and began the work of development, which he carried forward steadfastly and along progressive lines until his death, holding a high place on the list of honored Iowa pioneers of the past.

John C. McDonald was born in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, July 13, 1845. He has been a resident of Iowa for sixty years, having come to Lee county in 1852, while his residence in Appanoose county dates from 1854. He was eight years of age at the time his parents located here and acquired a limited education in the pioneer schools. From childhood he aided in the hard labor of breaking the soil and in the making of a farm, and he continued active in this line until 1863, when he enlisted in the Federal army. He joined Company E, Seventh Iowa Volunteer Cavalry, and as a private was sent west and fought the Indians on the plains, taking part in many sharp skirmishes and displaying so much courage and coolness in the face of danger that he earned promotion, being discharged on the 17th of May, 1866, as sergeant major. With this creditable military record he returned to the farm in Iowa and resumed his work, aiding his father in the operation of the homestead. He married in 1870 and he and his wife began their domestic life upon a farm upon which Mr. McDonald carried on general agricultural pursuits for ten years. In 1880, however, he turned his attention to business affairs and has since been a substantial factor in the commercial development of Cincinnati, where he makes his home. He and his brother engaged in the furniture and undertaking business for two years and afterward added to their activities by selling timber, taking their father also into partnership. In 1885 John C. McDonald purchased his father's and brother's interests and continued to conduct the enterprise alone, until he formed a partnership with another brother, under the firm name of J. C. McDonald & Brother. This association continued for some years, the partners gradually extending their activities to include almost every phase of business in the town. They organized and promoted the Citizens Bank of Cincinnati, with W. S. McDonald as cashier, John C. McDonald being also a high official. He continued active in the banking business for a number of years, but eventually the institution changed hands, although Mr. McDonald still retains his connection with it as a stockholder and director. He is a man of enterprise and marked force of character and there is no movement formulated in the township for the benefit of the community along lines of substantial upbuilding that does not receive his indorsement and hearty support, his labors being a cooperant factor in the work of improvement.

Mr. McDonald has been twice married. In 1870 he wedded Miss Mary Boyles, a native of Ohio, born in Belmont county, and a daughter of John Boyles, of that section. She died on the 30th of March, 1895, and in 1896 Mr. McDonald married Miss Alice Reed, a native of Jackson, Michigan. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald are well known in religious circles and hold membership in the Congregational church.

Mr. McDonald is prominent fraternally, holding membership in the Masonic order and in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Living in Iowa for sixty years and in Appanoose county for fifty-eight, he is one of the best known citizens of this locality, being widely recognized as a man of tried integrity and worth, of business enterprise and unfaltering determination, true to the traditions of his pioneer ancestors. His fellow townsmen honor and respect him and wherever he is known he has a wife circle of friends. Moreover, he deserves mention in this volume as one of the veterans of the Civil war, to whom the country owes a debt of gratitude that can never be fully paid.

v1 pp 365-379:

In the fall of 1912, J. C. McDonald wrote a series of reminiscent articles for the Cincinnati Review, which are here given to the readers of this volume:

Having been solicited to write for the Review some of my recollections of the older times in Cincinnati and vicinity, I cheerfully attempt the task. In the first place it should be borne in mind that what I write is only a "recollection" and not an attempt at accurate history. What I saw and heard in 1854 and subsequently, might appear and sot1nd different to other eyes and ears, and in writing these recollections I do not court criticism or compliments. If any one chooses to differ from me as to dates, names or locations I trust you will be generous enough to admit to your columns their version, written as I have this, without reflection on any one.

I was much pleased and interested in the letter of Elza Moore, of Admire, Kansas, lately published in the Review, and find that his letter has stirred the minds of a good many people, which is creating an interest in the early history of Cincinnati and Appanoose county.

I came to Iowa from Pennsylvania by river in 1852, and landed at Keokuk in the month of April, at the age of seven years. Two years later, in March, 1854, my father moved to Cincinnati, bringing with him myself and four other children. My father had previous to this, about September, 1853, made a trip to Appanoose county, to seek a location, and hearing of Cincinnati as a religious and anti-slavery center, bought here the preemption right to one hundred and sixty acres of land lying in the northeast corner of what is now Cincinnati. He bought this land from a man by the name of Meddis, later entering it by paying the government $1.25 an acre. At the same time he laid land warrants, as they were then called, on an adjoining forty acres and forty acres on the Missouri state line, making two hundred and forty acres owned by my father. One of these warrants was purchased of David McDowell, a brother-in-law, and the other from Isaac Powell, both of whom had done service in the war with Mexico and these warrants were granted to the soldiers under act of congress, dated September 28, 1850. My father paid Meddis $640 for his preemption right, including the improvements of a one-and a half story single room log house, 15 x 20 feet, a log stable and a log smoke house, a well and fifty acres fenced and about forty acres cleared, making his two hundred and forty acres, including the entry price, cost nearly four dollars per acre, a pitiful sum looking hack to it today, but a large sum fifty-eight years ago.

The first court house in Centerville, built of logs and clapboards, cost the people of Appanoose county as much per capita and wealth as the new stone structure that now adorns the center of the public square.


The land in this county was embraced by the government in what was known as the Chariton district and the "post of entry" was at the town of Chariton, then an insignificant place, and the county seat of Lucas county. It was called by everybody "Chariton Pint." In those days there were neither railroads nor wagon roads to Chariton, the only distinguishing mark being a single trail trod by horses. Many people going from Appanoose county went on horseback, traveling in a northwesterly direction, riding night and day regardless of roads, speed and everything else except direction. Many races were run by contesting claimants to get to the land office first and enter the choice tract of land.

When we came here in 1854 all the land in this district (Chariton) was open to entry at $1.25 per acre, which was being rapidly taken up by actual residents and speculators. The greatest drawback or setback to any new country was the law then in force which allowed one man with ten thousand dollars to enter eight thousand acres of choice land and hold it for the advance in price. That was done, for many persons yet living remember the vast prairie lying open in Franklin township and Bellair township until after the war closed because it was owned by speculators in the east. The homestead law which came into effect in 1861 wisely provided that no man could get more than one hundred and sixty acres from the government. If he wanted more he would have to get it from some one else. Although Missouri was admitted as a state twenty-six years before Iowa was admitted to the Union, yet the land in Putnam county, adjoining us on the south, was not yet in the market and was not subject to entry for some little time afterward. Many Iowa people went across the line and filed claims on Missouri land, which was the cause of many dissensions between the residents of that state and Iowa.


In early days, Missouri being a slave state and Iowa a free state, there was a hostile feeling between the denizens of the two states that was not obliterated until after the Civil war.

Some people may think that as I was only nine years old when I came to Cincinnati and am now sixty-seven years old, I am not qualified to write of events of fifty-eight years ago with any degree of accuracy. In this connection I wish to state that in the beginning of this epistolary effort I safeguarded myself by saying that I attempted to give my recollections and not give accurate history, but I have found that early impressions sink the deepest and last the longest.

A case or two in point will illustrate. My first view of a river was the Ohio at Beaver, Pennsylvania, and my first sight of a railroad and steamboat was at the same place and time, when I was a little less than seven years of age. They were all a vision to me; in fact, to my youthful eyes they were a revelation. Since that time I have traveled from ocean to ocean and from lakes nearly to the gulf, but no river since that time has looked like such a big body of water as the Ohio, nor any steamboat so grand or palatial, or railroad engine so majestic or ferocious, or train so long as those that I first saw at Beaver in 1852.

Another case is that of a man by the name of Andrew J. Borelan, of Donnellson, Iowa, who, if still living, is eighty-one years of age. It so happened in 1852 that in getting a place to set his foot in Iowa, my father rented a place belonging to the father of this man Borelan, near Warren, in Lee county. A double log house with shed additions to the rear afforded a home for my father's family, and this man, A. J. Borelan, who was then twenty-one years old, had just been married. The two families lived peaceably in this house for a time and the next spring may father rented another farm in the vicinity and moved to it, while in the spring following he moved to Appanoose county, and Mr. Borelan was lost sight of. It often occurred to me to make a visit to the old places near Warren where we lived those two years, and I often thought when passing through on the railroad, as I have done many times, that I would stop off and make the coveted visit, but have never done so.

About four years ago I proposed to my brother Albert that we go and see the old stamping ground and visit any of the old neighbors whom we once knew and might perchance find. We went, but we did not see but two persons whom we had seen during the two years we lived there. The rest had either died or moved away. We did, however, see the man of all others whom we wished to see - A. J. Borelan. We introduced ourselves, telling him that we were the sons of Daniel McDonald, who lived in the same house with him in Warren county, in 1852.

You can imagine our surprise when, pointing to me, he said "You look like your father," and then pointing to brother Albert, said, "but this man doesn't look like him a bit." Everybody who knew my father and us boys will verify the correctness of the statement made by Mr. Borelan. Thus had my father's image been carried on the retina of the eye of this man's mind for over fifty-four years.

In olden times the farmer had to sharpen his scythe before attacking the job of cutting wheat, and the schoolmaster usually sharpened his quill pen before he wrote copies for his pupils.

We had the honor of a visit in Lee county in 1853, from L. R. Holbrook, John T. Matkins and J. H. D. Armstrong, of this place, whose acquaintance my father had made in his quest for a location some weeks before, and on his return trip Mr. Holbrook took a load of our goods, such as we could spare over the winter, and brought them to this place, storing them until we arrived later. Accordingly, about the last day of February, 1854, we loaded our penates and lares into two wagons, driving a small herd of cattle and a drove of fifty sheep behind the wagons. The custody of the animals was given to William Hamlin, a neighbor boy, and to Oliver C. Rinker, who had been attending school in Lee county and wished to return to his home in Appanoose county. Many persons reading this article will remember Mr. Rinker as being at one time a prosperous merchant of Livingston, this county. The roads were good and we made good time, arriving in Appanoose county on the 1st day of March. We stayed over night with a man by the name of Steel, about a mile south of Centerville. The farm afterward was purchased by James Hughes, who made it his home until his death. The next morning we came south and west over the unfenced prairies, following a well beaten road, until we came to Shoal creek. The first places I can remember north of Shoal were the residences of Charles A. Stevens on the west side of the road, and William Phillips, on the east. We crossed Shoal creek at the old ford about a quarter of a mile above where the road now runs and also crossed Little Shoal, the small creek that runs east a half mile, north of Cincinnati. We came up the hill to the first farm owned by Henry P. and John Baker, brothers, the former being the father of Henry H. Baker, our well known smithy. This farm was later sold to Lewis Harris, who lived there until his death, a few years ago. James Milner now lives on the place. Following the ridge, we came to the farm of William McClure, afterward sold by him to a Mr. Webster, who in turn sold it to a Mr. Mitchell. After the death of the latter the farm fell into the hands of Albert Mitchell by purchase and inheritance. He has subdivided the p1ace, which originally comprised three hundred and twenty acres and now owns but one hundred acres, the remaining two hundred and twenty acres being now the suburban residence portion of Cincinnati, which is owned and occupied by a hardy population of one hundred or more Austrians.

The next farm we came to was that of Bazel McKeehan, now owned by the E. J. Gault heirs, and south of that E. J. Gault lived on the hillside south of old Thistle Mine No. 1. The farm west of that was occupied by William M. Cavanah, but is now owned by H. H. Baker. The next farm on the north side of the road coming west was the one hundred and sixty acres that my father bought of Mr. Meddis. We arrived at the end of our journey about ten o'clock. Although Mr. Meddis had agreed to vacate March 1st, and my father had in advance written him that we would be here at that time, yet when we arrived we found that Mr. Meddis had made no attempt at vacating and did not give promise of soon doing so, although he had four grown sons and four yoke of oxen to help him. He had taken eighty acres of land two miles west and had put up a log house preparatory to removing thereto. That eighty acres was afterward owned by Daniel Varner, later by Norman Green and still later by G. W. Streepy. L. R. Holbrook, who owned and occupied a log house sixteen feet square, standing on the lot now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Mitchell, generously offered us a home with him until such time as Mr. Meddis could vacate. You may be sure with Mr. Holbrook's family of five and my father's family of seven, that little log house was well filled, and when it came to sleeping, his two sons, Charles K. and George W., with my brother Albert and myself, were sheltered in the home of Solomon Holbrook.


After a few days, which seemed like a long time to wait, Mr. Meddis vacated and we moved into our new home; a sorry place it was, a lonely log house, one room below and a ladder for a stairs to an attic room above. No trees, or shade, or shrub, except a few wild gooseberry bushes set out in the garden, fenced in with home-made split palings. We adapted ourselves to the conditions and were soon at home to ourselves if not to our neighbors. We built a porch in front 8x20 and two bedrooms as a "lean to" in the rear, covering the 10X20 with the roof so flat that when it rained a little more water came into those two bedrooms than fell outside. March was a beautiful month that year, something like two years ago when there were thirty-five days of balmy weather in succession. My father sowed his wheat and it was up and through the ground before April 1st, and everything indicated a generous harvest, which was fully realized in proper season, and we were soon well pleased with our new home.

The people I can remember in addition to those I have already named as being here when we arrived are: Walter S. Johnson, Dr. D. R. Ball, who lived where J. V. Leseney now lives, though in a very unpretentious log building, which was burned down a few years afterwards. Then west of that where T. A. Johnson lives now, Dr. Ball's mother lived in a log house with her two daughters and one son, Colvin. The husband of Mrs. Ball was detained in Ohio and did not join his family for some time after. Both families moved from here, the old man going to Nebraska where I saw him in 1865, both he and Colvin being in the army. West of Mrs. Ball was J. H. B. Armstrong, who lived in the largest house of any one in the neighborhood It was a story and a half double log house - in fact all the houses built here in an early day were built of logs - with a porch in front and shed addition in rear. West of that was Moses C. Robertson, who lived in a house that was sided with boards and white- washed and looked like a painted frame house. We all thought it was great for a new country. Then came Josiah Gilbert, A. M. and G. W Streepy, William Stinson, Michael Ross, and John and Jacob Calvert. To the north were William T. Reynolds, John Shepherd, David Moore, George Whitsell, Samuel C. Cooley, James Hibbs, Jesse Thomas, George Rigler, James Ridgeway, John Fulcher, Nathan Stanton, David Green, Widow Stanton with her sons Austin, Ervin, Edward, and daughter Josie, Henry Adamson, J. B. Gedney, John Frost, Andrew Buntain, James X. Gibson, Rev. Robert Hawk, Absalom and Isaac Adams, and Elias Fox, known as "Mink Skin' Fox, and some others whose names I cannot now recall. Going east from town William M. Cavanah, E. J. Gault, a Mr. Skipton and two sons, James and Elijah, and Washington Cline, the father of our Albert Cline, A. M. Cline and W. W. D. Cline and Isaac and William Davis, Conrad Mullennax, "Judge" Allen, and the Harpers and a Mrs. Hearty, with a family of three sons and several daughters, all of whom were married but one. Then on the south of town lived John Kemery, Mr. Updyke, Joseph Crowder, Charles R. Crowder John A. Crowder, Seth B. Stanton, John Middleton and James Middleton, Isaac Fox, Isaac Nelson, Henry Besse, James Wright, John, Arthur and Thomas Points, and Isaac R. Skinner, and others, whom to mention would lengthen this chapter.

It was characteristic of the early settlers that as most of them had come from timbered or wooded states like Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Missouri or Kentucky, they first settled close to streams so as to be handy to wood for fuel, buildings and fences, and to water and stone, and regarded the large prairies as places to be avoided on account of lack of those necessary articles. The greatest mistake ever made by the early settlers was that of requiring the farms to be fenced and let stock run at large, not recognizing the philosophic question that live stock needed fencing and that land did not.

William Shepherd, the father of John mentioned herein, and the father of the late Rebecca Boyles, and Mrs. J. H. B. Armstrong, lived here in 1854. He had raised a large family, lost his wife late in life, remarried and had a family of three small children when I first knew them. He died, and the wife and mother not long after, and left these small children to the care of their relatives. There also was a man by the name of Stotts, who used to pound the face off the hill on the creek south of what is now F. C. Hand's coal mine, in quest of coal, and he was successful in his labors. He died at J. H. B. Armstrong's at an early day.

The first bit of affinity romance occurred also about 1854. A man by the name of Hawkins had married a daughter of Mrs. Hearty, mentioned in this article, and they were to all appearances living happily; but one morning Mr. Hawkins arose and found that his wife had eloped with one of the hardest lookers in the neighborhood, whose name, I believe, was Haggerty, but whom everybody called "Hardscrabble." Mr. Hawkins did not pursue the erring couple, but allowed them to wend their way westward unmolested. Simeon Baker, a son-in-law of Samuel Ball and no relation to our H. H. Baker, was also here and had the distinction of building the first log residence in the town, on the lot now owned by Dr. A. P. Stevenson. Many readers will remember the old house, as it stood there not so many years ago. A quaint old character was Phillip Hawk, a brother of Rev. Robert Hawk. He was a bachelor and a recluse and was supposed to have much of the "filthy." He made periodical trips from somewhere to nowhere and made this town on his horseback journeys, stopping always at L. R. Holbrook's. Another occurrence which we all thought was quaint, too, in the brother of Phillip Hawk, was that he, the Rev. Robert Hawk, who by the way had come to America from England, took a notion to move to Australia with his wife and three daughters. He sold his farm to Francis Gault, now owned by Hester M. Gault, and shipped via England to the largest island in the world. He got there, too, after many months, as letters from his daughters to girl friends here afterward testified.


I spoke of John Kemery living south of town. He owned one hundred and twenty acres, which was afterward known as the A. S. Brown place, while later it was owned by his daughter Jennie and still later sold to J. F. Woodburn. This man Kemery had a wife and several children, the youngest an infant. One day when he came in from work he found all the children, but his wife was missing. The husband made search and then gave alarm to the neighbors, who joined in the search. They dipped the well dry, fearing she had gone for water and fallen in. They searched the cornfields. The news spread like wild fire. People came for miles around and an all night search through timber and brush and prairies resulted hopelessly. People came and went speaking in whispers. School at the little log schoolhouse was demoralized, we boys and girls attending more to the latest news from the search for the lost woman than to our studies. At the end of the second day's search she was found in the woods up Middle Shoal, in the neighborhood where Logan McClure now lives. She was scratched and torn with brush and briers and was demented. Mr. Kemery sold out soon after to A. S. Brown, Sr., and removed to Decatur or Ringgold county. I remember the deal for the farm from Mr. Kemery to Mr. Brown, as the business was transacted in my father's house. The terms were cash. I do not remember the amount but Mr. Brown counted the money out in gold and piled it on my father's dining table, which made quite a "pile," and it looked like great riches to me. In olden times people carried their money on their person, in their socks, or hats, or coat linings, or in a belt buckled around their waist, and for defense against possible attack or robbery, they carried a bowie knife or a small pistol called a Derringer.

The early days of Iowa were not lacking in sensations, though the country was but sparsely settled in 1852 as compared with today. Then there were about two hundred thousand people in the whole state, while now there are two million more than that. There was then not a single tie or iron rail in the state; now it is crossed and cris-crossed like the web of a spider, with railroad tracks.

Many murders were committed in the early days and were as numerous in comparison with the population as now, if not more so. There were no means of keeping money and valuables safe, it being generally carried on the person or hidden about the house. The first year we lived in Iowa many were the blood-curdling tales told us of murders and robberies in the eastern part of the state. The murder of Colonel Davenport, of Rock Island, and the hanging of the Hodges at Burlington for divers murders, were all fresh in the minds of the people, and many a time, especially after night, have I clung to my mother's skirts, listening to the recital of those bloody deeds as told by the neighbors.

When we came to Cincinnati in 1854, we found that the pioneer had been far ahead of us and had in places trod the prairie grass and killed some of the snakes. Some of the pioneers, like Daniel Boone, fearing that civilization was getting too near and population too dense, had sold or traded their land and gone west to California, or elsewhere. The four farms, cornering on what is now the public square, were owned by L. R. Holbrook, two hundred acres, on the southwest; Solomon Holbrook, one hundred and sixty acres, on the southeast; Daniel McDonald, two hundred acres, on the northeast; and John T. Matkins, one hundred and twenty acres, on the northwest. My uncle, John McDonald, came from Pennsylvania in May, 1854, and purchased the one hundred and twenty acre farm from John T. Matkins, so that the two Holbrooks and two McDonalds were the owners and proprietors of the land on which the original town was platted and laid out, which was accomplished on the 7th of March, 1855.


J. F. Stratton, county surveyor, surveyed the land and made the plat - twelve lots on each corner - and the same was acknowledged by the proprietors and their respective wives, three of whom were named Mary and one Esther, before J. H. B. Armstrong, justice of the peace. The plats were ordered recorded by Amos Harris, county judge, and were recorded by John T. Overstreet, recorder, on the 25th of March, 1855. I have the original plat in my possession, which is somewhat dimmed with age and mutilated with handling. Since that plat was made there have been several additions platted and added to the original town. Coming into possession of some of the land owned by my father, I have been instrumental in platting two additions and joining in two others. My father, with J. R. Putman, made one, J. H. May one, he and his sisters one, he and Smith & Clawson one, Albert Mitchell and wife two, Solomon Holbrook three, J. N. Marsh one, known as Maple Park, and E. J. Gault one subdivision. The county auditor caused to be platted and recorded many lots that had never been platted or numbered. The town now as incorporated, is one and three-quarter miles east and west, and one mile north and south. It has not, however, all been built on and perhaps never will be.


The first postmaster and merchant that I knew in Cincinnati was Walter S. Johnson, the father of the late Allen Johnson. He kept his office and store in a shed addition to the house owned by John T. Matkins, where the May sisters now live, but the house now occupied by them is the third built on the site. After the farm of John T. Matkins was sold to my uncle, John McDonald, Walter S. Johnson built a small frame store on the corner now occupied by C. A. Comstock, to which he removed the postoffice and his stock of goods. In 1855 William M. Cavanah built on the corner now occupied by the Odd Fellows block, and put in a stock of goods. Mr. Johnson removed to Bellair, a rival village, and Mr. Cavanah became postmaster. In this connection I might add that the business of handling mails was not only new, but light. Mr. Cavanah did not have much idea of business, so when it became necessary to obtain a supply of postage stamps, he enclosed five dollars in a letter to the postoffice officials at Washington, asking the return of its value in stamps. The stamps were duly sent and with them his five dollars with the trite proverb attached, "Fools make feasts and wise men eat them."

About the year 1856 Bazel McKeehan lived in a pretty good log house on the spot where Edward Gault now lives. He was a poor man, honest and industrious as the sun in midsummer, and the happy possessor of a big family of children, which had arrived in his home with the regularity of the returning seasons; and you can well imagine his astonishment when one morning, near the anniversary of our American Independence day, he rose early and found a young babe on his door steps. His hands went up in horror at the thought of the additional burden he would have to assume if he had to take this babe also. He was willing to accept all that came to him in the usual and accustomed good way, but to have his burdens augmented in this irregular and alien manner, was more than he was prepared for. Mrs. Josiah Gilbert had lost a babe a short time before this unexpected find, and to mollify her grief, thought to take this charge off the family of Bazel McKeehan, but the youngster was too vigorous and noisy for her and after a couple of weeks the authorities found a home for the waif with Hugh B. Fox and wife, who had no children. The boy found a good home and was reared to manhood, afterward married and raised a family. You may talk of close corporations but the parentage of this child has been kept a secret for fifty-six years.

From the year 1854 until the breaking out of the Civil war in 186I, there was a great influx of immigrants into Iowa and Appanoose county and Cincinnati had its share. I might mention the following as being some of the many who came during that period and settled in this town or vicinity: John Kirkpatrick, David M. Rice, James J. Rice, Thomas Rattan, Geo. W. Maddux, Dr. Hall, John P. Boyles, William B. Adamson, Francis Gault, Henry Gault, John Russell Matkins, James Beer and sons, Peter, George W., Moses N and Joseph; George Beer and son William A.; John Strickler and sons, Andrew R., William B. and John H.; John B. and Newton McDowell, Reese E. Chandlee, Henry H. Baker, and Henry Baker, a brother of Simeon; Elias Ervin, Samuel Ervin, A. S. Brown, Sr., and Jr.; Joseph Cline, George Hamm and son Frank; George Jaquiss and son Thomas; William Jaquiss and son Henry; Henry Languith, John Patterson, John Fox, H. B. Fox, Asa Smith, Edward S. Harper, Asa Harris, James King, Robert B. Rice, J. M. Rice, and mother and sisters; John Bowhon, Thomas L. and Creed M. Bozwell, E. O. Smith, L. G. Parker, Joseph Glasser, J. W. Stevens, A. E. Stevens, Alva B. Leonard, Abraham Hoover, Thomas Wilkinson, Herbert and Alfred Capper, John Buck and sons Charles, Sylvester, Eli, Elias, Edward, and Jasper; Jacob I. C. Green. The war coming on operated as a deterrent to immigration, and the town and county did not increase in population very much during that period, aside from the refugees that sought shelter from political persecution in Missouri and other states. Notable among such accessions were the members of the Wolfinger family, James Putman with a large family, and Joseph Gorsuch with another 1arge family, from Tennessee.


The oldest inhabitant in point of residence perhaps is Mrs. Albert Mitchell, who came to Cincinnati with her father, L. R. Holbrook, in the year 1850. Oliver K. Holbrook, a cousin, came the following year.

Charles Sumner Armstrong seems to be the oldest native born inhabitant, having first seen the light in 1853. My first recollection of him was as a babe in short dresses, unable yet to talk. The oldest persons in point of years now living in Cincinnati are: Henry H. Baker, eighty-two; Joseph Morrow, eighty-four; Mrs. Amelia Wood, eighty-eight; Mrs. Sophronia David, eighty-six; Samuel Corporon, eighty; and Elias Ervin, eighty-six.


I have heretofore spoken of William M. Cavanah, one of the pioneer merchants, who erected a store building with dwelling combined. He hung out a sign for a hotel. It was a swinging board, erected on a frame attached to a high post set in the ground, and notified the public that he kept the "Cincinnati House, 1855." This man did a good business for a while and seemed to prosper. He took in a partner, by the name of Thomas Rattan, built a store room in Caldwell township, about two miles east of Exline close to a mill, and removed his family thither. In a short time his wife died and he moved back to his store in Cincinnati. It so happened that, while he was a republican in politics, his children fell heir, through their mother, to a negro slave in Kentucky. As strange as it may seem, Mr. Cavanah ordered the slave sold, which brought nine hundred dollars and he became guardian for his children for that sum. This was an object lesson to many people here of the baneful influences of slaveholding and the consistency of the partisan.

Pleasant W. Johnson, a brother of Walter S., who was a printer by trade, a poet also on the side, and a telegrapher, married the oldest daughter of Mr. Cavanah, a beautiful girl, about the year 1860, moved west and got a position with the Western Union Telegraph Company as an operator. Both he and his wife fell sick with typhoid fever and died at Julesburg, Colorado, within a short time of each other

'SQUIRE FLANNIGAN AND HIS MATRIMONIAL MARKET Runaway and mismated couples from Iowa sought this modern Gretna Green, and the town was the point where all roads centered to the much sought Justice Flannigan. Couples from here would slip down on a Sunday and get the nuptial knot tied. I remember William D. Armstrong and Ann Rigler were going to school. They took a sleighride on a Sabbath evening beyond the state line and were in their places in school Monday morning as though nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. John T. Harl, father of the Harl boys, also took one of the Rigler girls and was tied to her for life at the same bureau.

An old lady and a broth of a lad ran away from Oskaloosa, sought this market and were made man and wife. But all the people united by this man in marriage did not live in Iowa. A man by the name of Robert Knowles told me in 1859 that he induced the daughter of Burleigh Bramhall, then living in Putnam county, Missouri, to marry him, so to the justice they went on a Sunday evening and 'Squire Flannigan solemnized the marriage. After the ceremony the 'Squire sat them down to supper, filled them up on good things and then they hied themselves to the wood pile, where the men filled their pipes and smoked. Then Knowles "jewed" the justice down to twenty cents for his fee and afterward gloried in relating the manner in which he got supper and two dollars worth of marriage all for the simple sum of two bits.

About the first marriage that I can remember as having taken place here was that of Walter S. Johnson and Miss Sarah S. Gibson, February 11, 1855. Charles R. Crowder and Matilda Johnson had been married before our arrival, on November 10, 1853. I also remember a hurry-up marriage between a Miss Stanton, niece of Seth P. Stanton, and a Mr. Gordon, in which the bride borrowed a wedding gown belonging to Mrs. W. S. Johnson, who had been married a short time previously. Later I had the honor of attending a wedding in part, as I loaned my coat to my best chum to attend the nuptials of Pleasant W. Johnson and Miss Elizabeth Cavanah. Afterward weddings were not such a novelty, though the young swains were backward and the maidens coy. There was not nearly the same ease and familiarity between the sexes as exists today. However, as in the days of Noah, there was marriage and giving in marriage, and Henry Gault married Hester McClure, Thomas McClure Ella Ball, Daniel McClure Miss Anna Griffith, of Putnam county, Missouri; Alexandria LaFortune Christina Ball, Thomas Norwood Ann Atkinson and Wesley Norwood Adessa Atkinson, the two grooms being brothers and the brides sisters. George Frush, of Fairfield, married Jane Armstrong, Elza Moore married Sophia Gilchrist, Truman Gilbert married Laura Moore, Edwin Barber married Maria Stanton. Other marriages were Austin Stanton to Miss Woodmansee, of Lee county, John Fox to Sarah J. Boyles, Ervin Stanton to Elizabeth Elliott, of Drakesville, and Wallace M. Harvey to Nancy J. Conger.

A little incident in the courtship line, amusing to us youngsters at the time, is in relation to Thomas Stanton and Colvin Ball, who were each paying court to the same girl. Stanton easily led in the contest, notwithstanding Ball's attempts to persuade the girl to drop his rival. He also tried his blandishments upon Stanton in an effort to have him drop the girl in his favor, his chief argument being "I need a wife a good deal worse than you do." The facts in his case were, however, that he needed a wife about as badly as a cart needed three wheels, as he had at that time the encumbrances of an almost blind mother and two sisters to support. As often happens, both Ball and Stanton failed in securing the hand of the girl they coveted, and Stanton married Miss Mary Lane, of Centerville. The wife of Ball was a girl from Nebraska.

It was during the winter holidays of 1858 that John B. McDowell wedded Katherine Colvert. Their wedded life was a short one, for in about eight months McDowell died and later the widow wedded Jacob Straw, of near Centerville. She soon again became a widow, Straw meeting a sudden death by being killed by falling tackle from a derrick at the Watson mine, which had been sunk in front of his property. Katherine then remained a widow until her death.


The early settler had hardships to encounter that the present generation knows nothing about. Everything was new and raw and the prairie had to be broken up. Almost every other man had a work team consisting of from four to seven yoke of oxen and with a plow some of them made a business each summer of breaking the prairie for those who desired their services. Most of these teams subsisted on prairie grass, into which they were turned out at nights to graze and then had to be rounded up in the morning. The heavy dews made the grass very wet and in wading through it, the men's clothes would become soaked but had to be worn until the sun had dried them on the wearers.


There were no threshing machines for a year or two, nor machines to grind the grain. Farmers were compelled to clear off a place on the ground and either flail or tramp it out with horses or cattle, and when it was winnowed you may rest assured it would not be entirely clean. The nearest mills were Drakesville and Bonaparte, and they were not fully equipped with appliances for making the best flour. Grain would be loaded up by the farmer and hauled to mill between thirty-five and seventy miles away, and a week was consumed in procuring and bringing home a grist of stuff that was scarcely edible

In a new country wild game is generally plentiful but not so here. Poor Lo, the Indian, had cleaned the ranges pretty well and had gone west to grow up with the country and seek new hunting grounds. Still there were a few deer in the woods, a few wild turkeys and prairie chickens without number; but they, like the Indians, could not stand civilization, and in a few years sought the wild further west and north.

There is a brackish spring a mile or so south of Cincinnati, known as the Deer Lick, of which fabulous stories used to be told of hunters lying in wait for and killing deer when they came to drink its saline waters. If any of the poor, innocent animals ever met their death at this place I know not, for I never saw either hide or hair of any. I did see, however, in the summer of 1855, three live deer come out of the woods north of town and up the ridge to nearly where the school house now stands. They stopped and took a look at the few new houses, then turned tail and took to the woods again. I looked with longing boyish eyes at the zoological exhibition and ran for my father's rifle, but sad to relate, as many deer got back into the woods as came out of it.


Markets for farm produce were distant and were reached by earthen roads. It was a three days' drive to Keokuk, Fort Madison and Burlington, and all supplies bought by the early merchants had to be hauled by team from those points, a week being consumed in making the round trip. The price for hauling was $1 per hundred pounds. Contrasting the price of hogs today with that of the late '50s, say about the panicky year of 1857, I know of farmers slaughtering their hogs, hauling the fresh pork to Keokuk or Alexandria, Missouri, and selling for $1.50 per hundred weight -only a half cent per pound above what the hauling was worth. No wonder the early farmer got rich!

We had one advantage those days in that some enterprising man would appear at our homes with a wagon load of goods and sell to the consumer. The first of this class of merchants that I remember was the late William Bradley, father of D. C. and J. A. Bradley, of Centerville. He had a two-horse outfit, rigged out in good style and carried an honest line of goods, which he sold at reasonable prices. He was of such a jovial nature and so pleasing to deal with that we were always glad to have him come. As he was a Pennsylvanian, like my father, he often, on grounds of nativity, made our home his local headquarters.


The building of houses and fencing of farms was a difficult proposition. My father spent the best seven years of his life in getting from the stump, rails to fence and cross fence one hundred and sixty acres and material for building a new house and barn.

If the farmers of Appanoose county had recognized the fact that unfenced land would not stray away and that cattle and other stock, unrestrained, would, and if they had fenced their stock and let the fields remain unfenced, they would have been tens of thousands of dollars ahead, say nothing of the loss of stock by straying and loss of fencing material (rails) by decay, for it is a notorious fact that no sooner do you lay up a rail fence than just that soon it begins to rot down. A frame house had to be cut from the timber from cellar to garret, sills, joists, studs, siding, flooring, lath, shingles; all cut, hewed, sawed, rived, shaved, planed and dressed, even to door and window sash, and most of it was done by hand.

The swiftest and surest means of locomotion was by horseback. Very few of the early farmers owned a team of horses; most teams were oxen. Saddles were scarce, sheep skins were substituted and buggies were more scarce than automobiles are today. In fact my father brought the first buggy to the place, it being an open, two-seated one, which, standing in open sun and weather for lack of shedding, soon went like the Deacon's "one horse chaise."

Mail was received but once a week - on Saturday. Dr. John B. Armstrong, an old and prosperous physician and now a resident of Gardner, Kansas, was the first carrier. He made the trip on horseback to Centerville and returned the same day. A few years later, when the Civil war came on, people became so anxious for news that they took turns and voluntarily carried the mail on alternate days, and after the war a tri-weekly mail service was established by the government from Centerville to Unionville, Missouri. This service continued until 1873, when the advent of the first railroad brought us a daily mail. Of course no such thing as a daily paper was thought of. All papers were weekly and the majority of them were of republican proclivities. I remember among the papers taken here were Horace Greeley's Tribune, from which as a boy, I drew a good deal of anti-slavery inspiration. The National Era, another anti- slavery paper published at the national capital, had many readers, and the paper, edited by the ex-slave, Fred Douglas, also had some readers. My father was a subscriber to all these in addition to the Dollar Times, of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Free Presbyterian, of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and the Juvenile Instructor for children, published at Syracuse, New York.


Schools and churches had been established when we arrived. The early settlers were of a religious nature and had organized a union Sunday school.

As I have already stated, one reason that my father located here was that the community was a temperate one. The church was Wesleyan Methodist, it being the anti-slavery part of the parent Methodist church. The church building was the log schoolhouse situated on land now owned by W. B. Strickler at the cross roads, three-fourths of a mile west from the public square in Cincinnati. This building was constructed of logs, with the long, uneven ends protruding two ways from each corner, long enough for turkeys to roost on. It was, perhaps, 16X20 feet in size. The minister was Rev. John Elliott, of Drakesville, who came on foot once in two weeks, and stopped a few days each time with members of his congregation. Later Rev. George Jaquiss came. He never failed in his sermons to denounce the slaveholder and the saloon keeper. He was succeeded by Rev. J. T. Locke, who remained until the society was absorbed by the formation of the Congregational society. These ministers above named, however, were not the only ones who served the church up to 1867. I remember Revs Lumery and Connor and Rev. Robert Hawk who also filled the pulpit. It was not long until the Methodist Episcopal conference placed a man in this field and he preached on alternate Sundays. About 1858 the Free Presbyterians organized a society, they being an anti-slavery offshoot from the old school and new school Presbyterians. Their first minister was Rev. John Fisher, who betrayed them by trying to serve two branches of the Presbyterian church at the same time. He was dropped by the Free church and left the town, but afterwards served the church in Centerville. Later, this society was absorbed by the formation of the Congregational society. The Wesleyan and Free Presbyterian churches stood for the abolition of slavery and after the war, there being no need of their further existence, they were merged with other societies.

The Methodist preachers I can recall on this charge were Revs. Cyrus Morey, Charles Clark, Miller, Thomas Stephenson, Swanson, J. M. Mann, Hurt, Kirkpatrick, J. W. Orr, James Hunter, J. A. Sinclair. The early exhorters whom I can remember were: John Kirkpatrick, Dr. J. W. Hall, Anthony Martin, John Delay, Lucien Bryant, Calvin Spooner, J. R. Matkins.

The first building erected by the Methodist society was in 1869 but this has since been remodeled, reseated and greatly improved.


The old log schoolhouse and the new one erected in town served for many years for all kinds of gatherings. With three religious bodies in existence, they sometimes made appointments that conflicted, but the matter was always settled amicably and sometimes union meetings were held. The United Brethren, Dunkards, or German Baptists, and the Christian denomination also held occasional meetings at the schoolhouse. The first church building erected in the town was by the Free Presbyterians in 1859. The structure was of brick and stood on the lot now occupied by the Congregational church. It was dedicated before it was completed, January 1, 1860. The Rices, McDonalds, Mr. Robertson and a few others were the main contributors to this enterprise. In a short time the building was leased to a new society of the United Presbyterian faith. Their pastor was Rev. John Beard. The society only existed for a short time, however. Later another attempt was made to organize a Presbyterian society in the town. This time it was by those of the new school. The congregation was ministered to by Revs. Bloomfield, Wall and a Rev. King of Moulton. This church, too, was short lived.

WILLIAM BARTON McDONALD, who married Lucinda Dale, removed from Indiana to Iowa in 1855 and settled on a farm of three hundred and seventy-six acres, three miles northeast of Centerville. In 1902 he retired to Centerville.

JOSHUA MILLER was the senior member of the law firm of Miller & Goddard, of Centerville . Mr. Miller located here in 1850, went on a farm and at intervals studied law under Harvey Tannehill. He was admitted to the bar at Centerville in 1856. He served as justice of the peace and in 1876 was elected state senator.

N. E. Murdy

Prominent among the leading progressive and substantial business men of Moravia is N. E. Murdy, a registered pharmacist, who since 1904 has been engaged in the drug business, his activity contributing not only to his individual success but constituting also a factor in general development. Mr. Murdy is a native of Appanoose county, born in Moulton, May 5, 1878, and is a son of William M. and Emeline (Wamsley) Murdy, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Indiana. the father came to Iowa in 1857, bringing with him his widowed mother, his father having died in Pennsylvania. The mother of our subject came to this state with her parents in 1848, her father, Wendell Vincent Wamsley, being one of the earliest settlers in Washington township. He took up land in that section when his nearest neighbor, John Cupp, was two and a quarter miles away, the next nearest, Mr. Sutton, residing at a distance of six miles. When the father of our subject came to this site he bought land in Washington township and in the course of years added to this holdings, acquiring three hundred acres, which he still owns. However, he has now retired and he and his wife make their home in Moulton. Mrs. William E. Murdy is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.

N. E. Murdy was reared at home and acquired his education in the district schools of Washington township and in the Moulton high school, from which institution he was graduated in 1899. Afterward he taught school for two years, but in 1901 took up the study of pharmacy under C. A. Powers, of Moulton. Continuing in the employ of Mr. Powers for a time, he then went west to Aberdeen, South Dakota, where he worked in a drug store for a year, returning at the end of that time to Moulton. On the 5th of April, 1903, he passed his examinations and received his diploma as a registered pharmacist. Having bought the business conducted by his former employer, he had managed it alone for six months, when he sold back to Mr. Powers a half interest, and shortly afterward disposed of his other half interest, and in May, 1904, came to Moravia, where he purchased the drug business owned by F. C. Smith & Company, to the management of which he has given most of his time and attention for the past eight years. He is an able, resourceful and enterprising business man and his methods are at all times practical and progressive. As a result his patronage has extended rapidly and has reached gratifying proportions, placing him among the men who are an influence in business circles of the city.

On the 14th of October, 1903, Mr. Murdy married Miss Elma Painter, of Kirksville, Missouri, and to their union were born three children, two of whom are living, Paul Painter and Newton Gordon. Mr. and Mrs. Murdy are devout members of the Methodist Episcopal church.

Mr. Murdy is well known in fraternal circles, holding membership in Antiquity Lodge, A. F. & A. M., and in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He is a loyal democrat and active in public life, being a member of the present town council and of the Moravia school board, bringing to the discharge of his official duties the same well-directed energy and good judgment which have distinguished the activities of his business career. In al of his dealings he is thoroughly reliable and straightforward, and in matters of citizenship helpful and progressive, giving his aid and influence to many measures for the public good.