Danbury Iowa History
Woodbury County, Iowa, USA. Click here for the HOME page.
The Danbury story was prepared by C. Jane Colbert
The Dan Thomas family came west from Freeport, Illinois, in 1864, just a short time before the end of the Civil War. Dan Thomas had purchased land in 1857 in Freeport from a land speculator named Thoams Davis. Dan, and his wife, Mary Ann Smith Thomas, and three children, Lovina, Ida, and Benjamin Franklin, came with two covered wagons loaded with sod-buster plow, small tools, feed, some furniture, several weeks’ provisions; a cow, chickens,; and good horses.
Very little sod had been broken. All you could see in any direction was prairie grass, some shoulder height to a horse, with shorter varieties along the sloughs. Cat tails grew in the sloughs, and there were no trees in the Maple River valley except along the banks of the river. Wild animals were numerous.
In 1866 or 1867 Dan Thomas started a trading post.
Liston Township was formed in 1868, and the town was called Listonville where Dan’s trading post was established. The trading post was also the post office, and a stopping place for the stage coach where people could stay over night and get meals. Dan Thomas was the first postmaster, and the first justice of the peace.
In 1873 Dan Thomas built the first building in what is present downtown Danbury. It was called the Cross Roads Store, and over the door Dan Thomas General Store.
The railroad reached Danbury in 1877.
The Danbury Public School was built in 1879.
In 1878 the town had no more than a half-dozen houses. The town had been platted by Mr and Mrs Thomas, and business men were arriving daily by train, all anxious to build establishments on Main Street. Dan Thomas had dug a well on Main Street at the intersection of 2nd and Main in 1873. As the town was growing, three more wells were dug. The one at the south end of Main Street was used for watering animals, and the one in the small town park between Louck’s Drug Store and John Hart’s Meat Market was for the business places. Tin cups always hung at this well, and anyone could secure a drink there. The first well was used to keep a big tank full for the bucket brigade, as the first fire department was called.
The town’s first officers following the elections in either 1878 for 1879 were: Mayor, Dan Thomas; Trustees (now Councilmen), George N Castle (Castle House); George W Hoskins (Blacksmith(; William Cook (Hardware-Implement); David Tangeman (Elevator); H J (Jacob) Peters (Builder and Contractor); Levi D Herrington (Herrington Livery); Recorder, J S Shoup (Professor).
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1878. A building was built in 1881 and dedicated in February 1882. The first minister to use the church was Rev James Torbet. The Centennial was celebrated in 1981.
The first Catholic Church was built in 1881 for $2500. Father Baron of Sioux City came to say Mass every other Sunday. St Patrick’s was on the west side of Thomas Street between 1st and 2nd Streets.
The charter of Due Guard Lodge No. 387 Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons was granted by the Grand Lodge of Dubuque, Iowa, on June 14, 1879. Charter members were: R H Loucks, R B Mills, Hiram Lampman, W E Churchill, L D Herrington, Wm Warner, A H Runyon, Loren L Runyon, Peter K Taylor, W D Procumeier, A A Stowell, Dan Thomas, N L Brockway, J F Scott, O Nonis, S J Merritt, George Hoskins, John P McCreegor, and Wm Smith.
If you know of any corrections or missing information please contact me.
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