Daytonville, Iowa Historical Account Published in 1889

From The Wellman Advance  - originally published Friday, December 6, 1889.


 Its Early History and Reminiscences.

Chapter VII.

Dayton was laid out in September 1855, by Lewis Longwell as heretofore mentioned.  Hotels, stores, shops, and dwelling houses began to loom up in great numbers, compared with the old town.  James Cornell was the first to have a building ready for occupancy.  J.D. Jury and Isaac Longwell were the first harness men.

John L. Hess purchased some lots at a sale and erected a blacksmith shop and dwelling thereon.  He continued at the business there some 12 or 15 years and then retired to the farm where he still lives and enjoys good health.  At the lot sale mentioned above some thirty lots were sold and immediately built upon by the purchasers.  To the readers who are not familiar with the early history of Daytonville, we will here state that the town went by the name of Dayton till 1878, when by legislative enactment it was changed to Daytonville, in order to facilitate the delivery of the U.S. Mail.

James Cornell was the first landlord at the first hotel in the new town.  But this monopoly soon came to grief, for on the opposite corner James W. Crawford erected a much larger hotel structure, which in later years was moved to Wellman and now stands between the Advance office and the railroad track, and is owned by W. A. Downing.

This hotel was destined to divide the spoils with the "Heights of Jimmy Cornell," as it was appropriately styled by Pat Canady, a humorous Irish genius of that day.

All manner of public gatherings were held in the hotel buildings, such as dances, shows, parties and elections, and occasional prayer meeting or religious services.

William Allen, now of Kalona, was the first merchant in the new town, but was soon followed by T.U. Downing, who moved there from Wassonville to a room in Crawford's hotel.

About this time Henry Seabrook of Maryland, put in his appearance with a stock of Iron and set of tools and erected a blacksmith shop, which stands   today, presided over by Mr. Seabrook, as faithful and efficient a blacksmith as ever kindled a forge.  This shop was soon followed by one erected by Mathias Whetstine.

Thus the new town was launched with two hotels, three blacksmith shops, two stores of general merchandise, two harness shops, with carpenters in abundance.  To this new town came a shoemaker from over the sea, John Reisman, father of our Charley.  Later he engaged in the general merchandise business, which he was successful, and so continued until his death a few years ago.

Luckily, a schoolhouse was quickly built, and the youthful ideas in the booming new town were taught how to shoot.  Many of our people can recollect the good old school days of Dayton.

In 1860, Father E. W. Twining, a Methodist minister of Washington, began holding a series of meetings in the school house.  Many a slumbering soul was awakened to duty and as a result joined the Methodist church.  A building was erected the following spring and continued to be the "consecrated spot" in old Dayton for many years.  

This same church building now stands within the corporate limits of our town, a standing rebuke to our city and the denomination worshipping there, and the community who permit such a wretched structure to exist as a monument of gratefulness for all these years of uninterrupted prosperity, bestowed upon them by a kind and indulgent Providence!  (Pass the hat for a new church building.  EDS.)

Dr. W.R. Nugent was the first physician and surgeon to locate in the place, where he practiced medicine till after the war.  He now resides in Oskaloosa, where he has a drug store in partnership with his son.   He was also a member of the Board of Trade in Chicago and has made and lost fortunes in a day.  T.J. Brink tried his hand at carpentering, milling, law and preaching, and when last heard from was on a claim in Kansas listening to the doleful hymn of a Western coyote.
(To be continued next week.)

1889 articles from Wellman Advance  - Community History Project, January 14, 2005. View Original Images

Chapter I

Wassonville Mill from The Palimpsest, January 1961 Iowa State Historical Society, "Iowa -  Land of Many Mills" - (1940) Jacob A. Swisher.  Photograph courtesy of Susan Webb Wright

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Chapter VI

Chapter VII

Chapter VIII

Project Wassonville 2007


Yellow:  Fillmore and Greene Townships - Iowa County
Blue: Liberty Township - Keokuk County
Red: Lime Creek Township - Washington County


Map showing the tri-county area including portions of Washington, Keokuk and Iowa Counties in Eastern Iowa.  Hinkletown and Wassonville were trading and stage stops on the early leg of the east-west Diamond Trail that carried settlers from the Eastern Iowa port cities on the Mississippi River to Fort Des Moines and points westward, including California and Oregon.  Additionally, Wassonville sat on the north-south route of the Iowa City-Oskaloosa Road.  From the county maps published in the 1875 Atlas of Iowa.


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