IOWA HISTORIC PROPERTY STUDY:
Sealls House
Olin, Iowa
HADB #53-016 / ISI #56-0691
July 2011
Prepared by Timothy S. Weitzel...
Iowa Historic Property Documentation Study
Sealls House
HADB #53-016
Iowa Site Inventory #53-00691
Timothy S. Weitzel, M.A...
PREFACE
SEALLS HOUSE HISTORIC PROPERTY
(Interpretive Summary)
The Sealls House located at 208 E. Locust Street, Olin, Iowa...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
iii
Zimmer 2009). The Iowa State Historic Preservation Office concurred...
Preface
iv
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The author wishes to express sincere appreciation to Eugene Rearick for his cooperation in open...
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Figures............................................................................................
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
vi
LIST OF FIGURES
I N T E X T F I G U R E S
Title .......................
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
vii
A P P E N D I X B : R E P R E S E N T A T I V E P H O T O G R A P H...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
viii
24. Upper Story, Front Room scuttle to attic and wall structure......
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
ix
8. 1893 City of Olin plat map..........................................
1
CHAPTER 1
I N T R O D U C T I O N
The City of Olin, together with grant administration assistance from the East Central ...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
2
Methods
In the fall of 2008, the State of Iowa was well underway in s...
Chapter 1: Introduction
3
Purpose of the Funding Source
The federal involvement is related to the 2008 natural disasters i...
4
CHAPTER 2
N A R R A T I V E D E S C R I P T I O N O F T H E H I S T O R I C P R O P E R T Y
The Sealls Property, 208 E. ...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
5
Olin is situated at the distal end of an upland ridge that trends som...
Chapter 2: Narrative Description
6
BUILDING DESCRIPTION
The Sealls house is a one and a half story residential building wi...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
7
Main Floor Description
On the main floor, from the outside, there is ...
Chapter 2: Narrative Description
8
Flooring in the kitchen is small square tiles. The west gabled addition and upstairs bo...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
9
Stylistic Elements
The stylistic orders of the Sealls House, such as ...
10
CHAPTER 3
H I S T O R I C A L B A C K G R O U N D
Because residential vernacular buildings develop over time, and their...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
11
including losses due to natural disasters, as well as open lots rema...
Chapter 3: Historical Background
12
Great Seal of the Iowa
steam shovel and in 1931 there was a train wreck near town (Oli...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
13
and the amalgamated Sauk and Meskwaki. The uprising known now as the...
Chapter 3: Historical Background
14
towns were laid out by fur traders and others engaged in trade of goods and produce wi...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
15
Seeley had arrived at the future site of Olin somewhat after the fir...
Chapter 3: Historical Background
16
The second plat filed in Olin was a contemporary of Seeley’s Walnut Fork and was named...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
17
and funding for future improvements, including obtaining rail access...
Chapter 3: Historical Background
18
segments of these trails (Figure 4). Cleveland likely would have used the trails to go...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
19
Principal Highways and Stage routes during the Territorial Period as...
Chapter 3: Historical Background
20
hand, the prevalence of towns by the name Junction, are usually an indication of an ap...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
21
a small rail company to connect their communities from Savannah, Ill...
Chapter 3: Historical Background
22
Jones County as a whole, and the State at large, Rome Township’s population did not in...
Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study
23
to Davenport for supplies prior to the general store opening in eith...
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july
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The Property Study was specified as a mitigation treatment as part of the adverse effect to a historic property that resulted from the proposed demolition of the property affected by the 2008 flooding in Iowa and federally funded through a CDBG Disaster Recovery grant. The property study was accepted by the Iowa SHPO within 30 days of its submission.

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Sealls House Historic Property Study 2011 july

  1. 1. IOWA HISTORIC PROPERTY STUDY: Sealls House Olin, Iowa HADB #53-016 / ISI #56-0691 July 2011 Prepared by Timothy S. Weitzel, M.A. Historic Preservation Specialist Community Development Division On Behalf of the City of Olin and East Central Iowa Council of Governments
  2. 2. Iowa Historic Property Documentation Study Sealls House HADB #53-016 Iowa Site Inventory #53-00691 Timothy S. Weitzel, M.A., Historic Preservation Specialist Iowa Department of Economic Development, Community Development Division A Mitigation Treatment Supplemental Disaster Recovery Community Development Block Grant Home Acquisition Program on behalf of City of Olin, Iowa The 24 CFR Part 58 Responsible Entity July 2011
  3. 3. PREFACE SEALLS HOUSE HISTORIC PROPERTY (Interpretive Summary) The Sealls House located at 208 E. Locust Street, Olin, Iowa was constructed approximately in 1895 or within a few years of that date. The house exhibits distinctive features in some of its decorative elements, ready-made and shipped to Olin and applied as decoration according to the tastes of the owner and builder of the house. The styles embodied in the design palate are therefore a local interpretation of broad themes in the architecture of Midwest American homes spanning the last decades of the 19th century and into the first two decades or so of the 20th Century. Property Deed Records and detailed City plat map further refined the suggested the date of construction. An unusually wet winter and late spring thaw in 2008 lead to generally high water content in the soil (Buchmiller and Eash 2010). Over the late spring and summer, one community after another in Iowa succumbed to higher than usual rainfall. With the ground already saturated and creeks, streams and rivers running higher than usual, the heavy rainfall had virtually nowhere else to go but into the adjacent floodplain. Within towns, this cause substantial damage to a record number of properties, many of them historic and occupied by low to moderate income residents. Following a Presidential Disaster Declaration, Congress enacted as series of public laws to allow federal agencies and dollars come to the rescue. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security moved in to provide relief first. At the same time, officials knew that FEMA funding would not be enough. As the Emergency Management Division of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security geared up for record number of reconnaissance surveys to identify and evaluate historic properties, IDED with the help of state and federal representatives in government secured a supplemental disaster recovery Community Development Block Grant through US Department of Housing and Urban Development. One program under those allocations aims to minimizing future risk to loss of life and property by removing those properties that were demonstrated to be in a hazardous location on the flood plain. The homeowner must voluntarily apply to the program. Other programs involved rehabilitation of flood damaged properties, repair and construction of public sewers and flood control structures and assistance to business among others. The Sealls house is modest residence and the last surviving example of a of its specific design type in Olin. A city-wide reconnaissance survey conducted in spring 2011 indentified a handful of other Gable front and wing houses, none of which retain historic integrity. Of the houses that retain their historic integrity, the vast majority, well over three quarters of the total, are larger Queen Anne homes. One is a fairly large Art and Crafts period bungalow. Few smaller houses retain integrity. The machine-made applied ornament to the upper gable end on the street side of the Sealls House along with the bracket supports under the oriel and the corner plinths all speak to a design that is unique among its peers in Olin. However, events have aligned in such a way that is it no longer practicable and feasible to retain the house on its original site. Working in advance of the CDBG flood acquisition program, The Iowa Homeland Security survey team recommended the house located at 208 E Locust Street, Olin Iowa, as eligible to the National Register and FEMA adopted the recommendation as their Agency Determination (Svendsen 2010, Svendsen and
  4. 4. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study iii Zimmer 2009). The Iowa State Historic Preservation Office concurred with the finding (Ammerman 2009). As a result, the City of Olin adopted this finding as their determination of eligibility for the building. Therefore, the intended acquisition and demolition of the flood-affected property means that the adverse effect to a historic property must be mitigated. Properties listed in the National Register receive limited Federal protection and certain benefits under the National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulations at Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 800. The National Register, criteria for eligibility, and standards for evaluation are delegated to the National Park Service under supervision of the Secretary of the Interior. For more information concerning the effects of listing, and how the National Register may be used by the general public and Certified Local Governments, as well as by local, State, and Federal agencies, and for copies of National Register Bulletins, contact the National Park Service, National Register, 1849 C Street, NW, NC400, Washington, D.C., 20240. Information may also be obtained by visiting the National Register Web site at www.cr.nps.gov/nr or by contacting the Iowa State Historic Preservation Office, State Historical Society of Iowa, Department of Cultural Affairs, 600 East Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0290. The Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation are found in the Federal Register, Vol. 48, No. 190 (Thursday, September 29, 1983). A copy can be obtained by writing the National Park Service, Heritage Preservation Services (at the address above).
  5. 5. Preface iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author wishes to express sincere appreciation to Eugene Rearick for his cooperation in opening his flood ravaged house to be photographed and evaluated.
  6. 6. TABLE OF CONTENTS List of Figures.............................................................................................................................v List of Tables ...........................................................................................................................viii Preface.......................................................................................................................................ii Chapter I: Introduction............................................................................................................. 1 Chapter II: The Property In 2011.............................................................................................. 4 Chapter III: Historical Background ......................................................................................... 10 Chapter IV: Construction History........................................................................................... 30 Chapter V: Significance........................................................................................................... 33 Reference Sources.................................................................................................................. 34 Appendix A: Building Elevations, Plans and Sketches........................................................... 36 Appendix B: Representative Photographs............................................................................. 46 Appendix C: Reference Figures and Tables ........................................................................... 83
  7. 7. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study vi LIST OF FIGURES I N T E X T F I G U R E S Title ..................................................................................................................................... Page Relative locations of key political geographic features important in Olin History............... 16 Principal Highways and Stage routes during the Territorial Period...................................... 29 A P P E N D I X A : B U I L D I N G E L E V A T I O N S , P L A N S A N D S K E T C H E S Number...................................................................................................................................... Page 1. North Elevation Sketch ....................................................................................................... 36 2. Trim and Doors Sketch........................................................................................................ 37 3. Basement Plan Sketch......................................................................................................... 38 4. First Floor Plan Sketch......................................................................................................... 39 5. Upper Story Plan Sketch ..................................................................................................... 40 6. Roofline Sketch ................................................................................................................... 41 7. Elevation: Primary Façade, View South.............................................................................. 42 8. Elevation: Tertiary Façade, View West............................................................................... 43 9. Elevation: Tertiary Façade, View North.............................................................................. 44 10. Elevation: Secondary Façade, View East............................................................................ 45
  8. 8. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study vii A P P E N D I X B : R E P R E S E N T A T I V E P H O T O G R A P H S Number Page 1. Sealls House, View SW........................................................................................................ 47 2. View NE ............................................................................................................................... 48 3. View SW............................................................................................................................... 49 4. Property, View NW ............................................................................................................. 50 5. Accessory Building, View NE............................................................................................... 51 6. Accessory Building, View SW.............................................................................................. 52 7. Neighborhood, View SW..................................................................................................... 53 8. Neighborhood, View SW..................................................................................................... 54 9. Neighborhood, View NW.................................................................................................... 55 10. Neighborhood, View NW.................................................................................................... 56 11. Neighborhood, View NE...................................................................................................... 57 12. Neighborhood, View SE ...................................................................................................... 58 13. Basement, central room..................................................................................................... 59 14. Exterior of south wall of central room, door to west passage.......................................... 60 15. Front Room or Parlor, View E............................................................................................. 61 16. Front Room or Parlor, View NW......................................................................................... 62 17. Front Room or Parlor, Dining Room, Kitchen..................................................................... 63 18. Dining Room and Doorway to Bath.................................................................................... 64 19. North wall of dining Room and Entry................................................................................. 65 20. Covered ceiling, leaking evident......................................................................................... 66 21. West Room and Closet under stairs................................................................................... 67 22. Stairs from Main Floor to Upper Story............................................................................... 68 23. Upper Story , Leaks evident ............................................................................................... 69
  9. 9. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study viii 24. Upper Story, Front Room scuttle to attic and wall structure............................................ 70 25. Accessory Structure. Pot belly heating stove..................................................................... 71 26. Detail of Applied Gableboard ............................................................................................. 72 27. Detail of corner pilaster...................................................................................................... 73 28. Detail of Oriel ...................................................................................................................... 74 29. Detail of Northwest building Corner .................................................................................. 75 30. Detail of coal chute set in modern cast concrete block wall............................................. 76 31. Detail of Chimney................................................................................................................ 77 32. Detail of Water Pump ......................................................................................................... 78 33. Detail of Cast Concrete front stoop and hand worked railing........................................... 79 34. Detail of East Wing, Exterior of North wall ........................................................................ 80 35. Detail of handmade wooden awning................................................................................. 81 36. Detail of handmade wooden flag pole bracket ................................................................. 82 A P P E N D I X C : R E F E R E N C E F I G U R E S A N D T A B L E S Number Page 1. Location Map................................................................................................................... 83 2. Composite USGS Map...................................................................................................... 84 3. LiDAR Hillshade Relief Map............................................................................................. 85 4. 1838 General Land Office Map ....................................................................................... 86 5. 1875 map ......................................................................................................................... 87 6. 1877 map ......................................................................................................................... 88 7. 1893 map ......................................................................................................................... 89
  10. 10. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study ix 8. 1893 City of Olin plat map............................................................................................... 90 9. Schematic Representation of Land Use History as of fall 2008 ..................................... 92 LIST OF TABLES I N T E X T T A B L E S Title Page Historic Population Estimates for Olin, Jones County, and the State of Iowa.......................................22 Professions Listed for Rome Township in 1850 Census......................................................................... 23 A P P E N D I X C : R E F E R E N C E F I G U R E S A N D T A B L E S Title Page Table of Historic Persons, Occupations and Immigration Details.......................................................... 92
  11. 11. 1 CHAPTER 1 I N T R O D U C T I O N The City of Olin, together with grant administration assistance from the East Central Iowa Council of Governments and technical assistance provided by the Community Development Division at the Iowa Department of Economic Development participated in this project. The city of Olin, as Responsible Entity for the CDBG project, examined the property and determined that the damage to the property was substantial and that the level of damage outweighed the total value of the property. Beyond this, the CDBG was unable to repair the property due to its location in the floodplain. Given that few other options were available other than to acquire and demolish the property, the City had limited options to provide assistance to the homeowner other than to proceed to apply for assistance to acquire and remove the property from the floodplain. With just the one property in the Olin CDBG acquisition program, there were a limited number of choices in the type mitigation to be performed. A general pattern of history for the house and community were established. Although limited by the available resources, an intensive residential property study containing a comprehensive documentation of the history and architecture of the property was accomplished. This document is the result of this study. The mitigation treatments for properties affected by the 2008 Natural Disasters were originally designed to go beyond the direct documentation of a property with the intent to provide something additional that will be of lasting value to historic preservation in the affected communities. As research progressed on the Sealls House it became evident that documentation of association with historical events, trends, and people would be difficult because there has not been a concerted effort to describe the History of Olin since the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the town, held in 1985. Previous to this, the most recent historical description for the community was prepared in the early part of the 20th Century. For this reason, there has been a greater level of attention directed at providing a public interpretation of the people, events and broad patterns of history that form the historic context for the larger area that includes Olin and goes beyond the specific property that is the focus of the mitigation effort. This document is prepared as a mitigation treatment to one of these historic properties, the Sealls House in Olin, Iowa. The signatory acceptance of this document by the State Historic Preservation Office indicates fulfillment of the prescribed mitigation treatment—the activities agreed to by the consultation parties as representing an at a minimum and adequate and sufficient compensation for the loss of a Historic Property due to a federal undertaking. Purpose This document is an intensive historic property documentation study of the Sealls House, 208 E. Locust Street, Olin, Iowa. The document intends to discover any historic associations as well as provide an in- depth discussion of the architectural history of the building and its associated land parcel with discussion of how these relate, interact with and were shaped by the courses of events in the City of Olin, Jones County, and the State of Iowa.
  12. 12. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study 2 Methods In the fall of 2008, the State of Iowa was well underway in securing funding and making plans to recover from the 2008 natural disasters in a manner that was Historic background information and intensive research reviewed the site forms prepared previously for the property along with a search for county and town plat maps or atlases, a search for Sanborn maps, City directories, and township and City historical census and tax records information. The current owner (as of June 2011) provided access to a copy of the abstract of title to the property for review and graciously allowed visits to the property on two separate occasions ahead of property acquisition by the City. On April 30 and May 25, 2011, Tim Weitzel, IDED Historic Preservation Specialist conducted on-site visits, exterior and interior survey, and background research on behalf of the City of Olin. A reconnaissance tour of the majority of the town on both sides of Walnut Creek was also made by the author. Although the initial determination of eligibility was made outside of the CDBG undertaking, the assessments of building condition, research, architectural descriptions, photography and sketch work not otherwise attributed are credited to the author. The opinions expressed herein are not reflective of broader departmental opinion, goals or policy and should not be taken out the context of the purpose for this report. Conducting background research and onsite inspection, the Historic Preservation Specialist at IDED attempted to discover what information there could be found about the history of the property, to identify potential association with persons, events or patterns of history and to document its current and original condition. Research included examination of the plats, atlas, fire insurance maps, county histories and indexes available at the Iowa State Historical Archives in Iowa City. Research also involved an extensive, potentially exhaustive internet search for background information, maps, census data, and historical narratives for individuals associated by title or other records with the property. An oral interview was conducted on two occasions during site visits with the current homeowner. Plat maps and atlases, state and federal census and tax records available for the 19th Century in Rome Township and Olin do not indicate addresses of the individuals recorded. Insurance maps do not cover the majority of Cronkhite’s Addition. City Directories are lacking for Olin. The scrapbooks, photos, and other memorabilia at the Olin Heritage Center indicate the community has a long and proud remembrance of their associations with military service, especially with the Second World War, and especially the Navy. Former residents of the property and the Community were invited to contribute any knowledge of local history to the project. The Jones County Historical Society was invited to contribute any information for Jones County history. Lead by Richard Harrison and Don Wherry and their membership especially document photographer Jim Christiansen the Society has had the foresight to provide their county history in an accessible, digital format for all to see and learn from. More to their credit, the effort has been entirely voluntary with support from their membership and the IAGenWeb project and we can therefore set aside some of the issues with inconsistency of format and it can be understood that the overall format is intended for an audience much broader than professional historians. Homeowner, Eugene Rearick, reported additional floods, some minor, some more severe and described efforts to repair the house along with various details as he was able to recall them about changes he has made to the property. Members of the Henry and Julia Hanken family were contacted but were unavailable for comment
  13. 13. Chapter 1: Introduction 3 Purpose of the Funding Source The federal involvement is related to the 2008 natural disasters in Iowa, which, in April of that year resulted in heavy losses to property due to sustained and severe flooding of the Wapsipinicon River. As a result, the owner of the Sealls House became eligible for assistance through the supplemental disaster recovery Community Development Block Grant, specifically under the program that offers homeonwers the voluntary opportunity to sell their property to the City which will then contract to safely demolish building to reduce future risk to loss of life and property due to flooding by removing flood prone properties from the floodplain. Although many properties across the state were repaired and rehabilitated for continued use, a number of Historic Properties received damage in amounts too large to feasibly repair and when combined with program requirements to limit exposure to future flood hazard risks the conditions for providing assistance to homeowners require removal of property and construction of green space that will serve as a buffer area for future flooding.
  14. 14. 4 CHAPTER 2 N A R R A T I V E D E S C R I P T I O N O F T H E H I S T O R I C P R O P E R T Y The Sealls Property, 208 E. Locust St, is located on Lots 3, 4, & East 12 Feet of Lot 5, Block 3, Cronkhite’s Addition to Olin. Olin is located in Section 13, T83N–R3W, Rome Township, Jones County, Iowa (Figure 1). This location is about 41.9988 degrees north latitude and 91.1396 degrees west longitude. (UTM Coordinates: 15 654075 4651321). The property is a set of two buildings, including a single family dwelling and an accessory building that is a combination garage, shop, and storage building. An active well is located just behind the primary building, below a concrete stoop. To establish the potential significance of a building or neighborhood, it is necessary to develop a historic context within which to evaluate a property. One aspect of the history of a built up area is its history of land use, which further informs the need of what other potential there is for historic properties within a given area. This chapter will describe the natural and built environment, discuss the neighborhood and then will provide an in depth description of the property as it stands today. It is assumed that most houses are residences first and their purpose is to provide a home to its owners. As a result, architectural review anticipates changes to a building over time. Different owner-builder partnerships arrive at these improvements with greater or lesser degrees of success. Each house is weighed in its current condition against the original design and intent for the building and also gains the context of its own history and that of its neighborhood, community and persons or events associated with the building. Some houses retain architectural or other historic significance, many do not. Any time there is a reduced sense of historic integrity, the importance of associations with events or persons of significance becomes more distinct because a building with only moderate architectural integrity may still be significant for its historical association with events, patterns of history, or individuals who are historically significant. NEIGHBORHOOD DESCRIPTION Olin is a small community with a population of about 700 people in 2009. The community is located on the right bank of the Wapsipinicon River, just above the point where Walnut Creek branches from the main channel (Figure 2). The town is located in the Iowan Surface Landform Region, an area that was been down cut by wind and water erosion during the Pleistocene with additional large scale erosion (mass wasting of land surfaces) in the early middle Holocene. As a result, The hillsides have natural step-like structures owing to erosion contacting former subsoil horizons in which heavy clay accumulations create an impermeable barrier to groundwater and naturally resistant to movement unless overly dry or saturated. As part of former land surfaces, the impermeable clay forces groundwater to remain somewhat close to the surface flowing toward the Wapsipinicon (Figure 3).
  15. 15. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study 5 Olin is situated at the distal end of an upland ridge that trends somewhat abruptly downward to the floodplain of Walnut Creek on the south edge of the Central Business District, but trends much more gradually from there to the north east and the Wapsipinicon River. The Wapsi valley is oversized due to ancient periglacial outwash flooding that would have occurred at depths tremendously greater than today’s flood events. As a result the channel is meandered and at places abraded. This tends to create slower water rate and flood waters can only be accommodated by overflow into the adjacent floodplain. Areas of relatively poor drainage and high water table form Marshy areas along the floodplain margins. In the past, the river would frequently cut new channels but modern agriculture and landownership has attempted to restrict the river to much narrower channel. Many streams cut across the floodplain on the way to the river. The lower reaches of these channels also have been embanked with earthen levies. In addition to Walnut Creek, there were four other creeks in the Olin area, including, just below town, Sibles Creek that Joins Walnut Creek, Catfish Creek north of town that was rerouted, possibly by the railroad after that creek washed out the railroad berm in 1927 and then placed into a channel protected by earthen levies (Figure 2, Olin Heritage Center 2011). The fourth was a small stream channel that formerly ran through town and is visible on a late 19th Plat Map (Figure 8). The flooding is perhaps exacerbated by the naturally occurring sizable reduction in width of the valley just below Olin. As the Wapsipinicon leaves Anamosa, it enters a broad outwash basin about 15 miles or so in length. However, just below Olin, the river has cut through an area of resistant material (glaciofluvial sediments high in clay content or bedrock outcrops) as the Wapsi heads toward Hale, especially in the north–south transect through the west half Section 17, T83N–R2W. The resulting width of the valley is much narrower and the valley lacks the capacity in additional floodplain area to accommodate flooding, and the water likely tends to back up from this point. American settlers to the Olin area found Walnut Creek to have a rate of flow sufficient to power mills and the wetlands and steam corridors formed a riparian habitat with groves of trees to use to build and as fuel for cooking and heating and supported early industry in saw milling (Figure 4). The neighborhood is comprised of Houses more than 50 yrs old that have been altered, houses less than 50 years old, pre-manufactured housing, and lots vacated since the flood. Of the houses more than 50 yrs old, most are 1 ½ or 2 stories tall. There are a variety of forms, including four square, side gable, and front gable. Newer forms are based on vernacular ranch styles, including raised ranch, two stories tall with split foyer or split level entrance as well as one story ranches. The building set backs are not consistent, which along with the wide variety of styles and forms, indicates a protracted period of growth further indicated a lack of a focused time period with which to establish a historic context. One of the most direct means to establish a historic context for a district is continuity in development, especially if that development is focused into a relatively short time period. Also congruity in styles and forms can be another means to establish commonality within a subset of a community. Absent these and there usually needs to be a fairly direct association with specific events or persons or a distinct example of a discernable broad pattern of history which is also significant. In this example, however, there are a number of alterations to the neighborhood setting, design, and materials that have not achieved significance in their own right. These alterations include replacement siding (cement tile, metal, hardboard, and vinyl) and replacement windows and doors. Most porches have been permanently enclosed. Some new houses have been built, where as others were removed in the past or recently due to flood hazard mitigation through FEMA voluntary acquisition and health- safety demolition programs. These alterations have sufficiently diminished the materials, design, setting and association to the point that historic integrity has been lost. The statement of significant for the neighborhood therefore will indicate this area does not constitute a historic district.
  16. 16. Chapter 2: Narrative Description 6 BUILDING DESCRIPTION The Sealls house is a one and a half story residential building with asymmetric massing with primary facade oriented to the north. Its form is front facing, gabled-ell-and-wing house with a one story side wing oriented east to west. The house was built on a relatively modest stone foundation, and its structure was a wooden frame. The roof originally was likely wooden shingles. In form and arrangement of mass and bulk, the house effectively calls upon the rural architecture of the Eastern United States and the folk interpretations that were made there of European, especially English Country aesthetic and organic architecture (Gottfried and Jennings 1989, 2009). The primary building, the dwelling r residence, clearly indicates that damage was sustained from the flood in 2008 and there are further indications of other episodic and gradual damage due to floods and frequent high water table. There appears to have been problems with contracted work on the property, particularly the roof. Because power was cut to the property and the meter pulled, all portions of the building are at best a semi-conditioned space. The property as it existed in 2008 had no permanent means to redirect water or to remove it from below grade on the property. A very small west wing was built at the back of the west elevation. The side wing on the east elevation and a projecting rear addition and the original open porch were modified to increase the usable space of the home and to update the house with important amenities, namely running water, kitchen and lavatory facilities and heating. Despite additions there has been an attempt to maintain similarity in cladding and exterior trim work. The alterations therefore are most notable in the foundation materials and roofline and to a lesser degree there are some minor inconsistencies in the building fenestration—the windows and doors have some alterations. Foundation and Basement Level Description The builder utilized locally available foundation stone. The front-facing wing was and is an open gable form. The roof over the original wing may have been gabled as well, but it’s difficult to discern due to extensive alteration. The basement under the original house is rock-faced, dolomitic limestone dressed only along the courses. Above grade, the walls are close to being coursed, rock face limestone but below the grade line they verge into a jumble closer to coursed rubble trending to uncoursed or puzzle rubble (c.f. Phillips 1994). It appear to be a type of stone widely available in Jones and Cedar County (Anderson 1998). As discussed in the Olin Industry section, rock quarries have been present locally since the last third of the 19th century. Under the south addition, the base course is a form of massive, rectangular concrete block, possibly cast on site or brought in by rail or wagon, which is overlain in places in rock- faced, coursed limestone. In other areas, such as the east coal room, the original stone is overlain in modern concrete block. The basement floor has been paved in all but the central cellar and was visibly wet at the time of the visit. The central cellar retains a dirt floor. The exposed courses of the west addition appear to be rotating and slumping inward. The foundation under the rear and east additions is typical concrete block similar to modern concrete masonry units. The porch is supported by an open brick lattice or honeycomb brickwork of extruded, high-fire, high quality face brick with a raked finish and definitely not locally made. Both the front steps and rear entry stoop are cast concrete. The rear entry stoop also serves as a cover for the well head and place to mount the steel pump, which reportedly still functions.
  17. 17. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study 7 Main Floor Description On the main floor, from the outside, there is a small oriel with paired 1-over-1 double hung windows, which is repeated in the upper story. A decorative board with turned spindles and pierce work is hung in the gable end. On the west elevation there is an accent window above the double hung window which also lines up with the basement window. The entire east side appears to have modifications to foundation and roofline due to a series of additions. On the back elevation, an addition was added to cover the back entry area and the basement entryway and add a bathroom. This area correlates to the modern block foundation. However, the modern block foundation extends under the dining room. There are two rooms on the first floor that appear to be detailed in what would be a Primary order of decorative treatment. Only these primary rooms had decorative trim, the front room or parlor and the room contained in the wing, or dining room. The door and window trim were fairly simple but flush beaded with quirks rather than raised detailing. The flush beads occurred as four narrow v-notches or quirks providing greater relief for the three unraised bead lines. Ogee plinths were used for base blocks along with square upper corner blocks with concentrically circular paterae. Under the windows, the apron was a piece of the flush-beaded casing. The windows were simple sashes, with one over one lights. The interior doors are four panel, with the lower panels being smaller than the top. The two primary entry doors, originally opening onto e the porch in the ell, is a half-glass, sash door with segmented arch over the single, clear glazed light. The decorative base board is now entirely missing. Previously the boards had been removed, dried and replaced but conditions and circumstances worked against replacing the baseboards on this occasion. The hardware sets on the more elaborate doors was Ornamental Aesthetic akin to Eastlake style fittings. The walls have been replastered at some time before 2008, but only with a rough coat, not really either a brown or scratch coat, but non-uniform plaster, probably gypsum and note lime, was completed before it was painted. The plaster has been removed to about the height of the meeting rail of the windows on most of the first floor, and entirely in the west addition, which is a few inches above the high water mark still visible on the windows and a few vertical trim boards. The ceiling trim in the front room is a 2 ½ inch cove. All of the ceilings on the main floor have been replaced with a paper fiber acoustic tile. Finish flooring on the first floor is limited to the primary rooms (front room parlor and the dining room). It is thin strip flooring, possibly oak, but the grain is hard to see. These floors are puckering and buckling from the moisture in the basement and possibly the leaks from above. There is no visible joint where the east addition was added on but this is visible from the porch were a corner board runs down the middle of the wall and this lines up with the approximate location of the central room of the foundation in the basement. The flooring in the west bedroom is wider strip flooring, which appears likely to be pine or fir and usually would only be found in the upper stories or servant areas of larger homes. It probably was used here as an economical measure. The original use for this room is not known. It has been used as a bedroom for some time. The flooring in the kitchen and bath are synthetic composite sheet material or tile. The finish flooring in the primary rooms (front room and the dining room) is thin strip flooring, possibly oak, but they have been scoured hard and not refinished so the grain is hard to see. The flooring is buckled in several spots. There is no visible joint where the east addition was added on. The flooring in the addition is wider strip flooring, which appears likely to be pine or fir. The kitchen and bath look like they were updated in the 1940s, with the modern metal cabinets and new fixtures you could get then. The few remaining light fixtures, such a metal fitting with glass shade in the north bedroom, give the impression the house was probably wired for the first time in the 1930s or 1940s.
  18. 18. Chapter 2: Narrative Description 8 Flooring in the kitchen is small square tiles. The west gabled addition and upstairs both have a lower-order trim, than the primary two rooms. It is plain and utilitarian when compared to the fluted work in the front room and dining room. The porch has been enclosed, the east roofline altered, and an imposing addition to the rear and east elevation has made a noticeable difference in the style of the building. It is not easy to discern what the original nature of the property was. The foundation and exterior trim work suggest the building was either a gabled-front-and-wing building, with several later additions, or it was a variant of that form or front-facing gable with up to three original wings and then later altered through additions. The front porch does not appear to be original and rather appears to date to the mid-20th Century. However, some relatively unique aspects probably indicate this addition has gained significance in its own right, despite the modifications to the original design. A wooden slat awning, the decorative treatment to the porch skirt made in face brick, a purpose-built concrete stoop and a handmade bracket for a flag pole suggest a great deal of pride in ownership of the building. These features are well-executed and therefore retain a high level of workmanship. Some of the materials match the existing structure, other do not but perhaps compliment it, or otherwise are not highly detracting from the original, with the exception of the changes to roofline, which has altered the massing, and the foundation block. The manner in which the rear addition was added and the changes that this made to the roofline as well as the enclosure of the porch appear to be fairly well executed. While their design are perhaps not very compatible to the original design, the reader is reminded that the building is of a vernacular nature, with only a light degree of architectural styling. The materials and the decorative treatments for the cladding and window trim match the original. The foundation materials along the west elevation are not very compatible with the appearance and design of the original stone. Upper Story Description The stairway to the upper floor is a box stair, with narrow fliers, tall risers, and runs in one long flight. The area beneath the stairs is a closet. The stairs are carpeted. The rooms to either side of the upper floor landing rise another step into each room. The ceilings are plaster, where it has not collapsed, exposing the lath. The walls are papered in a mid-1980s pattern. The trim in the upstairs and addition are of a plain, utilitarian, nature with 1 x 3 or 1 x 4 boards, butt joints, and no back band. The windows have thin, milled lumber bullnose stools and another 1 x 3 or 1 x 4 dimensional board as the apron. Access ways leave the south room upstairs and allow entrance to the east and south attic areas. An attic hatch is located in the north room of the upstairs. A mid-century pressed class shad covers the light in the north room. The south room has a bare bulb with a twist switch fixture hanging from the electrical wire (fabric insulation). Both upper story rooms have a structure in the wall adjacent to the stairwell reminiscent of wall chimneys seen in multi-story brick buildings near the roof. The house entirely wood framing and it is not clear how such a feature would be supported. It is clear they structures extent do the roofline due to the large amount of leakage around them. If these were chimneys, they have been reduced down to the roofline. The chimney still visible on the roof runs through the south room extending from basement through the roof. Today a modern HVAC system has an air handler and heating chamber in the upper floor and heat pump looking air conditioner on a pedestal outside next to the kitchen. Like the studs on the first floor, the roof rafters and original knee walls also appear originally to be unplanned, full dimension, machine-sawn boards. Later additions are readily identifiable by the presence of planned, nominal dimension lumber that has the appearance of fir rather than pine.
  19. 19. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study 9 Stylistic Elements The stylistic orders of the Sealls House, such as there are, are first and last styled elements bought and applied in a vernacular manner. That said, more details can be conveyed by selecting an order with which the majority of the building features are aligned. The Sealls House is at the core, Front-and-wing form with a 1 ½ story front, open gable with a one story wing. The form and exterior ornamentation have elements in a Cottage Order with predominantly Picturesque Aesthetic details, though there are some elements borrowed from the Italianate Aesthetic (Gottfried and Jennings 2009). The exterior of the building also featured a few elements with discernable styles. The applied gable decoration has the appearance of carpenter gothic construction details and stylistic elements, including steep roof pitch, open gables, oriel, fleur-de-lis, a four pointed star, and wheat or acanthus floral elements. This matches much of the stylistic feel of the house, its roof pitch, the rough dressed foundation stone, the plain sawn clapboards and trim, and simple one over one windows and the Oriel especially references a cottage aesthetic. However the segmental arch main entry doors and in particular the console or foliate brackets beneath the oriel are distinctly Italianate in appearance. The Interior styling is limited to the front two main rooms and kitchen. The Primary Order is largely Italianate Aesthetic with some overlap in trim, and hardware with the Ornamental Aesthetic (c.f. Gottfried and Jennings 2009). The house was laid out in a very modest and utilitarian nature and as a result, opportunities in which to embellish the basic form of the walls, doors, trim and so on are limited. The stairway has no balustrade or newel. The largest opening between rooms does not have a screen, colonnade, or pocket doors. The interior design included both elements of classical revival that align best with the Italianate order that also feature elements of Ornamental Aesthetic details. These are limited in the parlor and dining room. Ornamental work includes fluted vertical trim boards and paterae, entry doors with semi-glazed, segmented arch windows over two panels, but Hardware akin to Eastlake (Gottfried and Jennings 2009). Effectively no ornamentation was used or applied in the remainder of the original house. Elements distinctive of the modern colonial revival from the middle of the 20th century were used in the Kitchen remodel. Together, along with a purpose-built feel to the floor plan and layout, the thrift and modesty of features used daily, such as stairs and bedrooms, all speak to a house built on a budget, and with materials available locally, either as raw material or bought as finished goods. Following the civil war, and in the city advertisements it is clear that all kinds and sorts of building materials were available, shipped in by train, no doubt. The modesty of the design and ornament speak possibly to thrifty homeowners but also it should remembered the economic and social situation, following the Panic of 1893 and the temperance prohibition of the last quarter of the 20th Century. Description of the Accessory Building Historic preservation reserves the term building for habitable and occupational construction while the term structure is tends to be reserved for construction with engineered design, such as bridges, viaducts, tunnels, outdoor facilities and so on. However, most planning and property assessors will use the term structure to mean the same thing as a building, as in primary structure, secondary structure, or assessor structure. The property includes a secondary or accessory structure—a building with a vehicle door on back that is built into a hip roofed wall dormer and looks somewhat like it has an agricultural origin. The rear vehicle door faces a ramp built of limestone consistent with the original foundation of the house. The ramp provides vehicular access from the alley into the lot and the door of the accessory building. The alley otherwise is elevated above the adjacent lots to the north of its alignment and extends from 18 inches to three feet above the back yards along its length. Rearick stated this was a modification of the outbuilding by Hanken, who was a lineman for the Olin-Morley Telephone Company. Rearick added the two stall garage door on the north side of the accessory Building.
  20. 20. 10 CHAPTER 3 H I S T O R I C A L B A C K G R O U N D Because residential vernacular buildings develop over time, and their interpretation of national and world trends in architecture are specific to a given place, architectural historians tend to regard surviving examples as important to local history in that they the remaining tangible examples of the trends and tastes in architecture of the period available in a readily visible and direct manner as well as informing the viewer about key aspects of local economic and social conditions. The neighborhood provides much of the associations of land development, when and why the subdivision was built town was a place to obtain finished goods, sell produce, and interact with the other people in the township. The town was also the nerve center for communications—post office, newspapers, telegraph and telephone office, and social halls were all located in the Central Business District alongside stores and shops. As the town expanded toward the railroad, much of the focus of the town also shifted toward the connection with the outside world. The hotel would be situated near to the Depot. Before land use zoning ordinances, Industrial operations could occur anywhere but usually were found on the edges of town. The townspeople at the time the house was constructed were the merchants, workers, clergy, clerks, professional services, and leaders of the community and the residential streets that naturally grew out from the Central Business District, or Main Street, is where the townspeople lived. Before Television, much of life was carried out along Main Street but visitors to other people’s homes were a frequent and even common occurrence. Socialization was entertainment and vice versa. HISTORIC CONTEXT FOR OLIN Olin is a small incorporated community that has a substantial number of front gabled and Gabel-ell-and- wing buildings. A fairly large number of Folk Victorian and Queen Anne styled homes featuring round turrets and canted turrets. Many buildings have a American Colonial Revival stylistic influence. Most buildings have frame construction, and there are three or so brick buildings. Walnut Creek has a fairly steep-sided valley. The majority of potentially historic buildings are north of that divide. Much of the town south of Walnut Creek dates to the 1960s and later. The contemporary Public Library and more recent school building are on the south side of town, as is the current grain elevator. The Central Business District features mostly brick clad buildings, including an 1893 Brick Front Commercial and a 1903 Masonic Hall. Most of the well-preserved buildings are within a block or two of Jackson Avenue, which is also the main thoroughfare through town. Examples include 100 W. Cleveland St, 100 E. Maple St., 509 Jackson St., One brick bungalow is fairly large and retains a high degree of integrity and there is an Italianate house that is in a moderately good state of preservation. Integrity at the District type of property appears to be lacking. The residents have for the most part kept up on improvements, with major changes occurring once per decade or so to a majority of the housing stock. For many reasons,
  21. 21. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study 11 including losses due to natural disasters, as well as open lots remaining available for infill, many homes have been built since 1960. The town of Olin was officially incorporated in 1878 with a population of 392 following a State circuit court action which granted a request in the form of citizens’ petition but quite likely also had at least been encouraged by the Chicago, Milwaukee, & St. Paul Railroad (the Milwaukee Road). The town had been plated as early as 1854, which at that time there were effectively three unincorporated but adjacent villages that represented a single community. In many ways, the last decade of the 19th century was a high water mark for community development in Olin. Olin adopted a centralized electrical utility in 1909 when Oxford Junction Light, Power, & Mill Co initiated a franchise to provide electricity to the local population. The town implemented centralized city water and sewer utilities in 1898. Prior to this, a city well was located along Jackson Street, probably at 2nd Ave. A photo of this well is available in County Histories and at City Hall in Olin. A one-cent from around 1898 to 1907 is a hand tinted color image that depicts Olin as an Idyllic, Victorian farm village in the Upper Midwest. A copy of the post card is in the collection at the Olin Heritage Center (Ellison 2011). Consistent with other Idyllic villages in the upper Midwest, Olin has seen its share of memorable occasions, ranging from curious happenstance to the devastating for community growth and prosperity. Two minor earthquakes had little effect on Olin in 1890 and 1909. In 1904, one of two banks in Jones County that failed before the Great Depression and regarded at the time as the single greatest financial disaster in the history of the county. R.J. Cleveland recalled the winter of 1842–43 was especially severe, the coldest he recalled from 1840 to 1979. A severe snow storm was recorded 1959. Several tornadoes and windstorms have passed through Jones County over the years, including an 1860 tornado that killed two children when their farm was mostly destroyed in Rome Township and Olin reportedly felt the effects as well. A county- wide 1898 mesocyclone or strait line winds destroyed over 7,000 windmills in the county and blew barns over in the north. Another event that figures prominently in historical accounts of Olin is the Olin College, founded when the town was incorporated, but closed within two years due to problems with their public relations image. The founding of small, private colleges that failed to thrive into the present are unfortunately not uncommon in Iowa History. Those events appear in county histories but appear to have had little to no effect on the course of events for the growing town. On the other hand, two fires along Jackson Street shattered growth in the central business district (Corbit 1910). In 1876 a fire of unrecorded causes expanded out of control and destroyed nearly the entire east side of Jackson Street including some residences. Only the harness shop at the south end was saved by a bucket brigade, probably operating from the well or Walnut Creek. The second fire occurred 1892 and was thought to have been intentionally set (Corbit 1910). This fire resulted in total loss to the west side of the central business district excluding only two frame buildings again on the south end, nearer to the town well and river and within reach of the bucket brigade. The town hall and its records of Rome Township, the School and other important documents were also destroyed at this time (Corbit 1910). In the great misfortune, the Olin Recorder was destroyed physically but the operation was rebuilt within a month. The outcome of the two fires was the opportunity to build a brick clad streetscape that is largely what survives today. Today the Olin volunteer hose company is prominent fixture of the community, proudly hosting annual fund raising events. Floods of the Wapsipinicon River have repeatedly affected Olin including 2008 when 80 homes were outright destroyed or substantially damaged due to record flooding (23 ft or 9 feet above flood stage). The US Geological Survey has also recorded previous major floods on the Wapsi in 1968, 1971, 1993, and 1999, 2004, and again in 2010. In 1927 a flash flood Catfish Creek washed out the 1912 railroad berm built with a
  22. 22. Chapter 3: Historical Background 12 Great Seal of the Iowa steam shovel and in 1931 there was a train wreck near town (Olin Heritage Center 2011). During television coverage of the latest flood event in 2010, Aaron Alderson, a resident of Locust Street and a neighbor to the Sealls House quipped to the KCRG reporter that “I don't know, I guess I'm fortunate to live on the flood street again. They ought to just rename the street probably,” Alderson said. Those same neighbors spent 3 days building sandbag flood walls that provided largely ineffective to stop the invading water. The USGS has reported that flood discharges and peak elevations were at record levels for the middle reaches of several Iowa Rivers, including the Wapsi in 2008. In 2006, the Olin area became the subject of attention as a three span, bow string arch, wrought Iron bridge was flown from its original site crossing the Wapsi between Olin and Hale, to its new location several miles upstream near Anamosa. The Olin area was once the setting for a number of wrought Iron bridges which were installed to cross the relatively large number of streams and rivers in the area. The iron bridge for the road (Iowa Highway 38) over the Wapsipinicon was replaced with a concrete deck bridge in 1959. The highway had been converted to asphalt hard surface in 1957. The Early Years: Settlement and Growth in the US territorial period Olin is located in Section 13, T83N–R3W, Rome Township. This vicinity is within the Second Black Hawk Purchase, 1832. Although there were some, especially American fur traders who entered the territory before this time the land was officially opened for settlement in 1833. The earliest settlement to present day Jones County (1837) was Hugh Bowen, in 1836. The first political division of the County was by electoral precincts. Walnut Precinct, an area that include all of the area in corresponding to the congressional survey area of township T83N, and half of T84N and R1W to R3W. The area was given the political division name Walnut Precinct. In 1842, the precinct system was converted to Civil Townships, and Walnut Precinct became Rome Township with no alteration of the political boundaries. Over the next decade and a half, the townships were subdivided and began to confirm with greater regularity to the Congressional Townships delineated by the Government Land Office Survey. The Iowa Territory was organized and incorporated within the United States in 1838 and continued until statehood was granted by Congress in 1846. Jones County is located in a Native American land cession from 1832. Originally it had been in a large province of New France, name Louisiane (1682–1764), held by Spain for France (1764–1800), and finally included in the US Louisiana Purchase of 1803 from France and governed for about a year as the US District of Louisiana (1804–1805). From that point, the area was under the jurisdiction of the Territories of Louisiana (1805–1812), Missouri (1812– 1821), Michigan (1833–1836) and Wisconsin, including the District of Iowa (1836–1838), the succeeding territories being the area remaining after an area gained sufficient population to be granted statehood and was then cleaved out of the larger territory, orphaning the remainder. County formation followed a roughly similar process. Organization and regulation in Iowa began primarily when the Michigan territorial legislature organized the first two counties (previous settlements had remained largely unregulated). From 1821 to 1833 the area that became Iowa briefly reverted to an unorganized federal territory intended to be inhabited by displaced Native Americans from East of the Mississippi and the new state of Missouri, which created a new drive toward establishing states due to the Missouri Compromise. Jones County is located in the area known as the First Black Hawk Purchase or less commonly as Forty-Mile Strip or Scott's Purchase. The acquisition was an attempt to formally compensate the acquisition of land form Native American nations by execution of an international treaty— itself still a somewhat new concept. The treaty also served as a formal declaration to end recent hostility between the United States
  23. 23. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study 13 and the amalgamated Sauk and Meskwaki. The uprising known now as the Black Hawk war was an outcome of centuries of displacement and the attempted revolution by members of Sauk and Meskwaki tribes under the leadership of Chief Blackhawk was seen as a last stand to fend off the invading Americans. The Americans conversely saw the Sauk and Meskwaki as former British allies and they stood in the way of expansion. The uprising was in many ways was an aftershock of the War of 1812 but also was response to the forced relocation of Native American tribes, which had become an active federal policy under President Andrew Jackson, 1829–1837. For the still young United States, an “Era of Good Feelings” was melted away with Jackson’s polarizing stance on many issues, among them slavery, Native American Removal, and a system of rewarding political support with political favoritism, not the first, or the last, but certainly a point in time when this became yet another sore point between opposing political viewpoints. The second Wisconsin Territorial Legislature meeting at Burlington during the winter of 1837–1838 approved the subdivision of Dubuque County and organization of nine additional counties, including Jones County. Not too long after that decision and before adjourning the legislative session they decided to create a separate Wisconsin Territory with a capital closer to the Wisconsin settlements where many of the members of the assembly lived. The Iowa Territorial Legislature met in the fall of 1838 and confirmed the decisions to create nine new counties, retaining the name of Jones County whose namesake was the congressman from the Wisconsin Territory. The first election of officers occurred in 1839 and the first political divisions were established 1840. One of the earliest recorded settlements known in Rome Township was platted north of the present location of Olin. It was named Elkford (Figure 4). The existence of this settlement is something of a mystery. Due to the loss of early township records, the only firm evidence is in the form of the Government Land Office Survey and other accounts appear to be derived from this source. One possible explanation is that the inhabitants laid out a claim and then returned east to gather their family and for one reason or another were unable to return to their claim. It was common for a claim to be staked and then to not actually live on the claim until a number of years later. John Merritt is one such example as is the platted town site was situated in the northeast quarter of Section 11, a location about a mile north of the current city (Western Historical Company 1879). At the time of the General Land Office Survey of Rome Township, January 13 to February 3, 1838, the survey team recorded the location and name of Elkford but noted that although the town was visibly laid out, no improvements had been made. The name Elkford appears next to a settlement an early territorial period map of the surveyed counties of Iowa (Coulton in Cole 1920). Little more can be said without speculation. However, it is intriguing to consider that John Merritt had set up a cabin in 1836 and quietly returned to New York, returning the next year with his father, his many brothers and their families. The GLO and Settlers in their reminiscences recount the large stands of timber that occupied the overly broadened river valley and the tributary channels. The large Groves of trees, including the one labeled “Sugar Grove” in Sections 15, 14, 22, and 23. As confirmed in R.J. Cleveland’s reminiscence from this time, platted towns were easy to spot (Corbit 1910, Western Historical Company 1879.) They typically were cleared of brush and all but the largest trees ended up as materials to stake out the streets and blocks, and too, much of the wood that attracted settlers to an area was burnt as fuel and it appears that Rome was not an exception. Segments of well established trails were noted by the Government Land Office survey team and R.J. Cleveland remarks on the existing of previously made trails during the early settlement period. At the beginning of the settlement period in the Black Hawk purchases, paper towns were abundant and usually were staked out and plats filed by earlier Euro American settlers to the area. Competition was variable, but a wide variety of incidents ultimately worked in favor of some town sites over others. Often times these
  24. 24. Chapter 3: Historical Background 14 towns were laid out by fur traders and others engaged in trade of goods and produce with Native American Tribes in the area. One estimate for the number of Native Americans in the State at the time of initial settlement in 1832 was 8,000 with about 50 American settlers. That number rapidly inverted, and by 1840 population estimates were 43,000 settlers. Not infrequently settlers were in to be found across the Mississippi River in “Indian Territory” ahead of the approval to settle in Iowa. If found, companies of US Army Dragoons were obliged to remove them back to the east side of the River (for example Van der Zee 1916). The Dragoons also were charged with keeping the peace between tribes as well and most of the forts in Iowa were a testament to this fact. Absent of other information, it would appear Elfkford likely never caught on as an idea or possibly, the settlement was founded too far in advance of support structure. John Merritt reportedly set up a claim cabin in the general vicinity of Elkford as early as 1836, but due to the large number of encounters with Native American, he decided to return to New York. When he returned, it was with many of his adult sons, brothers, and their wives and families and his father and they set up in Section 3. Careful examination of early plat maps indicate that a cemetery was reported in the vicinity of Elkford in Section 11, appearing variously to the southwest or north east of the turn from a northerly track to a westerly track before the Olin to Newport Road branches form Green Rd to head up pas the Merritt homestead in Section 3. The location of the cemetery symbols are in the same NE ¼ of Section 11, Rome Township, the approximate location of the Rome 11 Cemetery. It appears at least one or more pioneer families lived in the area of Elkford for at least a time sufficient to require the dedication of a cemetery. At the same time, the confused locations of the cemetery through the 1870s, disappearing by 1893 suggests some level of confusion existed through the 19th century but according to at least one local land owner, the headstones are extant but have been removed from their original location in the cemetery. Beyond the cemetery, these early settlers left behind few traces of their time in Rome Township. At around the same time that the land survey was being completed, the first Euro American birth in the county was recorded in separate homestead area. Rebecca Merritt was born two miles west of present- day Olin in 1839. John Merritt in 1837 had settled in what is now the southern part of Jackson Township, on the right bank of the Wapsi and at a location later platted as Merritt’s Timber, (Section 33, T84N–R3W). Merritt was preceded in the county by Hugh Bowen and John Flinn at Bowen’s Prairie in 1836 and in that same year Daniel Varvel and William Clark at Monticello. Also in 1837, an unnamed African American settled near Pleasant Grove in Hale Township. During the 1839–1840 County Meeting, Road districts and in 1840 Election Precincts were assigned numbers. The Precincts were Bowen Prairie, Farm Creek, Buffalo Fork, and Walnut (Western Historical Company 1898). The areas unequally divided the county with Bowen Prairie taking the northwest quarter of the county, and the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of the county, Farm Creek having the remaining three-quarters of the northeast part of the county, Buffalo Fork, taking the south west and northwest of the southwest quarter of the county, and Walnut taking the rest. As population grew, regular townships of 36 sections, six miles on a side, were divided out of these early townships. People living in Walnut township in 1840 may later be found living in Hale Township in 1851 without having moved. Rome Township 1837 Olin proper has its origins in two platted communities laid out in the tallgrass prairie of the Iowa District, Wisconsin Territory. Walnut Fork was organized by Norman B. Seeley. Adjacent and to the east of Walnut Fork, was the platted village of Rome, which appears to have been championed, if not directly organized, by Richard J. Cleveland. Seeley arrived in 1839 and Cleveland in 1840.
  25. 25. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study 15 Seeley had arrived at the future site of Olin somewhat after the first wave of settlers who came in 1837. The first families listed included John and Joseph Merritt, Orville and Oran Cronkhite, Francis Sibbals, Isaac Simpson, Moses Garrison, George Saum, Thomas Green, Horace Sealy, and the Booth, Brown, and Joselyn families and others soon followed. By 1840–1841, at least 15 families are recorded in the area. Household sizes were quite large at this point in history, so the total population may reasonably be assumed to be many times the number of recorded surnames. Seeley was a man of purpose and he directly went to work building a log cabin, a hearth for iron working, and a sawmill that began operation on Walnut Creek the same year, the second in the County. He added a grist mill in 1841 and his settlement, which became known as Walnut Fork, had secured a foothold in the tallgrass prairie, which was a good start. A good image of what an early Iowa gristmill of the 19th Century looked like is provided in a July 10, 1965 reprint by the Monticello Express of a 1900s photo of the 1848 Eby’s (Applegate’s) grist mill and saw mill south of Monticello. The 1840 plat of Walnut Fork is still evident in the subdivision record for Olin, and is situated west of Jackson St between Locust and 2nd St (Figure 5). The claims of Iowa ghost town indexes to the contrary, this location is on the hill that is now occupied by the Olin, a safer and drier location to live, even if the mills were located along the creek. The success of Seeley earned him the chance to name his portion of the county Walnut. In 1841, when a post office was established at Walnut Fork, Seeley became the postmaster and the post office retained the name Walnut Fork even after Seeley’s capture and untimely death at Andersonville during the Civil War. The first political division of the county for purposes of democratic representation occurred in 1842. Seeley’s precinct was called Walnut Fork or Walnut Precinct, the current location of Olin. Contrary reports notwithstanding, this early village were situated on the higher ground west of Walnut Fork at the approximate location of the Central Business District for Olin.
  26. 26. Chapter 3: Historical Background 16 The second plat filed in Olin was a contemporary of Seeley’s Walnut Fork and was named Rome. Rome developed on a similar trajectory to Walnut Fork. The plat for Rome was accepted in 1842, three years after Walnut Fork was settled, but just two years after Rome was settled and apparently much sooner than the official plat was filed for Walnut Fork. Like its Classically derived namesake—Rome, Italy—in the Iowa Territory, Rome was located on higher ground along both sides of a sinuous body of water, Walnut Creek, and perhaps occupying several hill tops and side slopes. Despite while the township name was changed from Walnut to Rome, the post office continued to be known as Walnut Fork until 1872, when two additions to Olin were added. The town was platted as Olin in 1854. Despite many romantic portrayals of the settlement of the Northwest Territory and the tallgrass prairie areas beyond it and west of the Mississippi River whereby the intrepid pioneer would enter the frontier and live off the land, many of the first Americans to arrive in the area that would become eastern Iowa never completely left cash economies. Early settlers seemed to realize the importance of economic ties to the east to provide a steady supply of goods and services and conversely to provide markets for the frontier goods to be sold. Despite the Puritan roots of New England, most people moved from the east to the Northwest Territory with the acceptance of risk in return for the opportunity to become wealthy. To secure permanent trade relations, settlements and eventually towns would be needed. But among the first things sought out by nearly every fledgling community were the Post Office, a recorded Plat, Seats of Government, From there, the local council and mayor would be able to control the generation of revenue Relative locations of key political geographic features important in Olin History—Walnut Fork, Rome, Smith’s Addition, Cronkhite’s Addition, and Elkford. Bloomfield was an apparent name given to this a Stage Coach stop in this area for 1840–1849. Several land additions followed incorporation R3W OLIN Platted 1842, 1854 Incorporated 1878 R4W Walnut Fork (Platted 1854, settled 1839) Rome (Platted 1842, settled 1840) Cronkhite’s Addition to Olin (1873) Smith’s Addition to Olin (1873) Walnut Creek T83N Elkford (before 1838) T84N
  27. 27. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study 17 and funding for future improvements, including obtaining rail access and finally major industry and commercial operations. Nearly every early historical account will enumerate the locations and dates of the first post offices. It is a perhaps unfortunate reality; however, that post offices and post masters both were somewhat ephemeral, easily displaced or removed to another location at the time that their post was superseded by another community in size and relative importance. As one of the early forms of official recognition, the post office was a position eagerly sought. Early post offices were little more than an appointed postal clerk who was also usually conducting business in trade, milling, or other profession and had enough ties to the area to be reliable place to send the mail. Consistently there was the drive to file a civil plat, build population to the point where the area could be recognized by the government, and then seek out the local or regional seat of for the new government that would be formed. The two platted villages that can still be seen in the Jones County assessor’s information appear to have been in direct competition but perhaps in a friendly way for the first quarter century or so of the community’s history. By the time of the first recorded histories in the early 1870s, the Civil War had come and left and the economy of Olin was on the rise to a high point in the 1890s. Transportation, the Railroad, and Incorporation of Olin Until the arrival of the railroad in the last quarter of the 19th Century, travel to Olin was restricted to overland routes (Thompson). Although a system of canals had been proposed for Iowa paralleling major rivers in their flood plains, this idea never developed (Sage). Even though steam boats had traveled north along the Mississippi as early as 1820s, and assertions contemporary to about 1840 that the Wapsi was navigable, the Wapsi was at once too meandered, to rapid a current, and also presumably too unpredictable throughout the year to allow for steamboats especially along the middle stretch of the river (Van der Zee 1905, Cooper 1958). Logically, no roads existed at first, other than the occasional trail used by Native Americans and the odd explorer or fur trader. For the most part, these improvised roads remained packed only by use, and were judged by at least on historian to have been inadequate for team wagons (Van der Zee 1905). The first appropriations for roads in the Iowa Territory were made in the 1836 session and concentrated on making Burlington accessible to other established settlements, such as Keosauqua, Keokuk, and Dubuque. In the 1838–39, roads were extended to the new capital located Iowa City. In 1839, territorial representatives to Congress secured funding for a Military Road connecting Dubuque to Iowa City, Mt. Pleasant, and the Missouri Border and an Agency Road from Burlington to Agency City near Ottumwa. The Military Road was laid out under direct supervision of a surveying engineer with a marker furrow plowed by Lyman Dillon. Although no other federal appropriations were granted in the next many years, Van der Zee notes the exceptional success of obtaining even the funds for the Military Road due to the generally poor economy following widespread economic downturn in 1837 (Van der Zee 1905). Beginning in 1840, the Territorial Legislative Assembly made it a legal requirement that voting citizens perform three days service work on building and improving roads and building bridges or pay a fee in lieu of the work (Van der Zee 1905, Thomson 1989). In his memoir, Richard J. Cleveland mentions the particular trouble it took to travel in eastern Iowa before the railroad. R.J. Cleveland mentions in his memoir having walked 50 miles to Dubuque for supplies dozens of times in the 1840s and once to Davenport. The 1838 Government Land Office survey recorded
  28. 28. Chapter 3: Historical Background 18 segments of these trails (Figure 4). Cleveland likely would have used the trails to go northward, ford the Wapsi at a favorable location and join the Federal road somewhere northwest of Monticello. This account is repeated with others traveling to Iowa in the 1830s. Although the common mental image of early settlers was traveling by covered wagon, most early settlers had invested their wealth in supplies and tools and traveled as they could, by lumber or supply wagon if on the Cumberland Trail through Indiana, or by boat down the Ohio, and up the Mississippi or across the great lakes. Many times a pioneer would settle first in Midwest but between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. After a time, some proceeded on to Iowa for a number of reasons, but many times it was because they had little money, and there was opportunity in the west to earn a better living. It can be learned in the several accounts of Old Settlers Reunions, that until the last half of the 19th century, many pioneers did not have sufficient assets to buy a wagon and may traveled as far as they could in someone else’s lumber or supply wagon and then proceeded as needed by foot, which is what R.J. Cleveland did. Although Cleveland caught a ride on a lumber wagon, several others arrived with oxen, or horses, or both as well as wagons. Others did leave Ohio, Indiana or other states well-equipped. George Saum, did bring wagons and draft animals, as did Orville Crohkhite. Both ultimately were very successful, as was Cleveland. As time passed, people were able to travel by stage coach, but this was not available to the first pioneers. That anyone, let alone many pioneers would travel hundreds of miles in any manner, to undeveloped area suggests the travelers sought opportunity and thought they had a reasonable chance of obtaining success. It is assumed that the popular account of early Iowa published by Albert M. Lea, a former US Army Dragoon, and similar accounts in Galland’s Iowa Immigrant 1840, published and promoted by William C. Jones provided a vivid image that greatly promoted life on the frontier in Iowa. However, within 10 years, many farmers did arrive with or acquired oxen, horse, and because extremely successful. Despite the hardships, Cleveland recalled with great pride and satisfaction in the opportunity to have been a pioneer. Still, the Wapsipinicon and other waterways, such as Walnut Creek could prove difficult to Ford, adding another level of complexity in getting from here to there in eastern Iowa. Ferries were essential, and a number of people made their fortunes in early Iowa history running ferries at crossings on the Mississippi, Mathias Ham or Antoine Le Claire, for example. The Territorial Legislature, later County Governments) set the rates that could be legally charged. The first Ferry available to cross the Wapsipinicon River was established in 1847. Ferries, though, were susceptible to the random nature of rivers and the demand for bridging rivers and streams became increasingly sharp. Cleveland noted no ferries or bridges in the Jones County existed in early in the history of the Olin area. With the economy recovering and the US industrial revolution reaping rewards in technologies for forming and shaping metal as well as mining coal, it was only a matter of time before marked improvements would arrive in Iowa. A bridge was built over the Wapsipinicon River at Newport in 1865. Newport was the first County Seat, formerly located in Lot 2, Section 33, T84N–R3W) Jackson Township and consisted just Adam Overacker’s log cabin designated to be the courthouse. The County Seat moved to Lexington (Anamosa) the following year. Several wrought iron truss bridges for roads were built in the Olin area in the 1870s, mostly by the King Iron Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio (Western Historical Publishing Co. 1879). The railroad bridge over the Wapsi was built in 1872, a simple pony truss. Walnut Creek Bridge was built 1877 at Olin, replaced 1917(Western Historical Company 1879, Olin Sesquicentennial Committee 1985). As bridges were built, the roadways to and from them were improved to the point that they were generally passable by horse and wagon.
  29. 29. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study 19 Principal Highways and Stage routes during the Territorial Period as describe by Van Der Zee The fact that travel to the vicinity of Jones County was difficult on a good day and an entirely overland venture, at least as far as most American settlers were concerned, certainly had much to do with the continued lobby on the part of the Iowa Territory to Congress for transportation authorizations. It is clear that while George W. Jones was representative to Congress from the Wisconsin Territory had much to do with the improvement of Federal roadways (Van Der Zee 1905). L likewise, they had much to do with railroad appropriations spurring the railroad rivalries of the third quarter of the 19th century. Every town wanted to be part of good railroad connection, and every railroad company wanted to be the first to connect to any area (Thompson 1989, Cole 1920, Sage 1974, and Schwieder 1996). These appropriations no doubt lead to the rapid increase in economic output from Iowa as it moved from supplying lumber, lead, and furs becoming a leading producer of grain, dairy, and meat with secondary specialties used locally, including beer, wine, brick, tile, coal and all manner of locally manufactured goods. The duality of the railroad development era was despite the potential for rapid growth and development the railroad could bring, there was a less than permanent nature of towns in the face of the apparent whimsy of railroad companies. As can be seen in Olin, many towns expended large sums of capital and physical effort to obtain the favor of a railway (Thompson 1979). Often times these investments paid off but usually at the expense of other towns that were not served directly. In addition to ready transport for goods and passengers, railroads could bestow the favor of a workshop, roundhouse, or refueling/watering station on a town. This usually meant many jobs for a good number of years. The Milwaukee Road, for instance, based its principal shops in Iowa out of Dubuque (for example Jacobsen 2011). On the other
  30. 30. Chapter 3: Historical Background 20 hand, the prevalence of towns by the name Junction, are usually an indication of an appendage to a town or where a town sometimes picked up and moved to be connected with transportation by rail (Thompson 1989). The Railways of the 19th century had several distinct advantages that made them a vast improvement over many other types of transport. Once steel and fuel were plentiful, the rails could be laid just about anywhere. Railroads also made use of the influxes of immigrants as a ready source of labor to prepare grades, build trestles and bridges and lay track and even move streams in many instances. It can be noted that the former location of Catfish Creek ran near the center of Section 11 and 12, and appears to have originated in Section 16 in the 1875 plat map. By 1875, the railroad had diverted the course of at least one stream to the north (Andreas 1975, Burlingame 1877). Rechanneled streams are an occurrence in Iowa History and examples can be found in studies of other localities, for example USGS plat maps and local and county historical accounts (for example Weitzel 2005). Railroads in Iowa began in 1854 with the Mississippi & Missouri Railway that extended into Eastern Iowa Thompson 1889, Weitzel 2005). Other companies had an interest in railroading, and with their persuasion, the U.S. Congress passed a sweeping land grant bill in 1856 whereby railroad companies could expect a six mile right-of-way on either side of the main alignment. The idea was to provide ample opportunity for alternative routes when engineering or other obstacles were happened upon. In areas where the full 6 miles were not available, the grant could be made up in alternate locations. Depending on opinion and judgment of some historians, many of the early railroads only existed on paper until the investors were bought out by the official company (Thompson 1989, Western Historical Company 1879). In this somewhat cynical view, the paper roads were meant to diffuse liability and protect the investors. With a few notable exceptions, many planners for railways consistently underestimated the level of work necessary build a new railway and likewise were over confident in the potential investment returns. In many accounts, once construction began expenses outpaced capital, The Iowa Central Air Line Railroad, is perhaps the best known example of this. As a result, so the alternative viewpoint states, new companies were created to prevent the loss of the lucrative land grants as the initial investments ran into debt and receivership, which was a frequent occurrence (Sage 1974, Thompson 1989). The difference is more of a point of view, perhaps. In any case, railroad construction east of the Mississippi had proven to be a worthwhile investment. A vision for linking the eastern United States with the west coast took hold and planning began for the first and subsequent transcontinental rail routes. To hasten private investment, President Lincoln authorized an incentive for the first railroad to reach the Council Bluffs Terminus of the Iowa segment of the future Transcontinental Railroad. Land grant authorization came with a more than generous offer in the form of land grants in return for meeting specified completion dates. The penalty for failure was forfeiture of the land grants. Four principal rail routes across Iowa had been planned in the initial Land grant program (Thompson 1989; Sage 1974). Through the 1860s, as the parent companies of the first four railways enjoyed success and a fifth railroad was started in 1863 with a completion date set for 1875 (Thompson 1989, Sage 1974). This railway eventually became the Milwaukee Road and had two alignments in Iowa. The northern track was intended to connect Chicago to Prairie Du Chien, and from there crossing to McGregor then northwest to Cresco and on to Minneapolis and St. Paul, reaching Canton, South Dakota by 1879. A branch line pushed on to Sioux City with connections to the southern track. Due to the Panic of 1873, this segment did not meet the specified deadline and the company had to be reconstituted to renew the grant and prevent forfeiture to inventors (Western Historical Company 1879, Sage 1974). The southern route had originally been intended to run from Jackson County to Hardin County and on to the Dakotas Western Historical Comply 1879). The townspeople of Sabula and Ackley envisioned
  31. 31. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study 21 a small rail company to connect their communities from Savannah, Illinois to the Dakota Territory (Western Historical Company 1879, Corbit 1910). It was organized in 1870 as the Sabula, Ackley and Dakota railroad which made it about one third the distance across Clinton County from Sabula before it ran out of financial steam. Its counterpart in Illinois was the Western Union Railroad but it like the northern route—the Milwaukee & Mississippi and Dubuque & Pacific—it was controlled through small front companies by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad (Sage 1974, Thompson 1879). The Sabula, Ackley and Dakota Railroad was bought out by the same company (Western Historical Company 1879). As was the case with many small railway companies in Iowa in the 1850s–1875, the smaller company enjoyed the backing of a larger, usually silent partner company which assisted their efforts in connecting Olin agricultural producers in Rome Township to Chicago (Thompson 1989, Sage 1974, Western Historical Company 1979). By 1872, earlier in some accounts, the southern track of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad had reached Olin, and continued on toward Marion, Iowa (Thompson 1989). In fact, continuing the history of the Milwaukee Road further back, O. Cronkhite and D.A. Carpenter of Rome also invested in the Sabula, Ackley and Dakota Railway Company a n attempt to revive the failed 1859 Anamosa Branch of the Tipton Railway and the second attempt to bring a rail line to Olin (Western Historical Company 1879). Cronkhite, the settler of 1837 had become less than 20 years later a successful farmer who understood and was driven by the need to be connected to markets. It is no surprise, then, that the platted name for the town was not Sealy’s Walnut Fork, or Cleveland’s Rome. Instead, the 1854 plat carried the namesake of General Superintendent of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad—D.A. Olin (Western Historical Company 1879, Corbit 1910). In 1872, the focus of development in the slow but steadily growing villages of Walnut Fork and Rome was drawn to the north end of the current community, with the anticipated arrival of the Sabula, Ackley & Dakota Railroad (North West Publishing Company 1893). In 1873, two areas of the community were platted as additions to Olin (Western Historical Company 1879). Walnut Fork and Rome became part of the Olin town plat in that year. Five years later in 1878 and following a rise in prosperity and growth due to the railroads that the town officially became incorporated. At the time of incorporation, Olin consisted of several small enclaves or formative communities, including the original town sites of Rome, Walnut Fork, and the two 1873 additions to the town plat of the platted but unincorporated town of Olin that included Cronkhite’s Addition in the northeast part of the community and Smith’s addition, in the northwest corner. The central business district was located in Rome. Most of the institutional space for churches and the Public School were in Walnut Fork. The Livery was in an unincorporated area until Cronkhite’s Addition. That addition and Smith’s Addition were mostly residential, and most lots were occupied, except where Catfish Creek ran through town. Much of the area between was still empty lots (Figure 7, Figure 10). Again, it is apparent that Elkford was proven not viable before even Norman Seeley founded Walnut Fork, but the name of the community remained part of local history through the first (Western historical Company 1879). By 1910, Corbit does not even mention Elkford. Olin Demographics Professions and Trades The first Federal Census was taken in Rome Township in 1850 with population of 584. That number was just 442 people in the State census for 1852 and some of the families that arrived earlier were not listed. In 1854, the State Census recognized separate totals for Rome Township (539) and Town of Rome (104), returning to just the township for the for 1856 (737). The Federal Census of 1870 recorded 1068 for the entire township. The population in 25 years had roughly doubled. Unlike the dominant trend the trend of
  32. 32. Chapter 3: Historical Background 22 Jones County as a whole, and the State at large, Rome Township’s population did not increase tremendously with the coming of the railroad, that arrive in 1873. In 1885, the State Census recognized Olin, at 487. There were 634 in the Township. The federal census again collapsed the total in 1910 (1236). The state census for 1895 and 1925 show Olin at 648 and 646 respectively, which was a period of stability for the town but Rome Township lost population during that time going from 927 to 689. From census data, we find that in the first Federal Census, immigrants came to Rome Township from 17 states, three countries, and Iowa. 188 or 32% of the 584 people moved from Ohio and 94 (16%) had moved from Indiana. 137 or 23% came from Iowa. Just over 3% came from another country, either Germany or the United Kingdom (England or British North America). Historic Population Estimates for Olin , Jones County, and the State of Iowa Year Rome or Olin Rome Twp Jones County State of Iowa 1833 — — — 10, 531 1838 — 15 families — 22, 859 1840 — — — 43,116 1846 — — — 96,088 1850 — 584 3,007 192,214 1854 104 643 10,481 — 1860 — — 13,306 674,913 1870 — 1,068 19,712 1,194,020 1880 — — — 1,624,615 1885 487 1,121 18,300 — 1900 19,444 2,231,000 1895 648 1,575 — — 1960 — — 20,693 2,758,000 2010 702 — 20,638 3,046,355 Olin Commerce Unlike many other townships in Jones County, but closer demographically and philosophically with Madison and perhaps other townships, the pioneers and second generation immigrants to Rome Township included predominantly American Citizens from the East, including Massachusetts, Virginia, New York, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire and 8 of 27 came from Ohio, a goodly number, nearly 30%, of the Patrons to the Andreas Atlas. One patron came from Germany. Three were natives to Jones County. In the early days of the settlements at Olin, there were not a great many options for supplies and materials. It is clear that many came to farm and immediately went about farming when they arrived. Many farmers grew wheat, something relatively unknown as a potential crop today. Other grains included oats and maize corn. It is fairly clear that little was available off the shelf or readymade before about 1850. R.J. Cleveland indicated many times he had walked the 50 miles to Dubuque more than 50 times and once
  33. 33. Sealls House Historic Property Documentation Study 23 to Davenport for supplies prior to the general store opening in either 1847 or 1848. As first roads, then bridges, then railroads and finally highways were built, the range of available goods as well as potential markets expanded dramatically, and in comparison perhaps exponentially by the middle of the 20th C. when food became marketable to the world. Much of the grains if not all was consumed locally or regionally at first but as transportation improved, milled grains were sold to markets outside the area. Norman Sealy set up grist mill to accommodate local trade in flour. Olin was on a stage coach route, and mail arrived in this manner (Van der Zee 1905, Cleveland 1910). Livestock was brought into the state, but at first this was mostly for products rather than as meat, such as butter and cheese or wool. Again, by the 1880s, hogs and cattle were sold as meat in addition to an increase in products made. Throughout the 19th century, farms remained diversified, growing three or more grains, peas, beans, potatoes, buckwheat, oats, corn, wheat, maintaining pastures, selling grass, clover and hay seeds, and making butter and cheese, wool, and meat. Miscellaneous other crops and produce included flax, honey, wax, hops, and wine. Two noticeable trends through the period were increasing specialization, decreases in number of crops per farm, and increasingly selling raw materials, like unprocessed grains to larger mills further away and such as milk to dairies rather than making butter and cheese on the farm. Another striking trend is the contrast of settler reminiscences of the general fertility and depth of native soils and the use of fertilizers by the 1870s. Cut wood continued to be an agricultural product throughout the 19th century. Eventually wood would be all but replaced by coal (Coal Age 1911). In the 1921 Atlas, there were two banks operating and merchants listed included the Olin Rug Factory, and the Hog Reliance Company, makers of medication and remedies for pigs, which was becoming a big business. There is little doubt that once a stable settlement was established and transportation was secured that the prosperity of Olin was mainly dependent upon goods and services in support of the famers of Rome Township. By 1850, a merchant and clerk along with a number of skilled tradesmen and a few professionals had moved to town. In the 1860s, Inland Revenue tax receipts from Rome indicate trade and fees for physician-surgeons, carriage, keepers of Stallions, retail liquor, slaughtered hogs, conveyance, miscellaneous retail and general, unspecified income. During the same period, Walnut Fork reports sales in Hogs, Sorghum, Retail, Carriage, Watch, and Hotel. All of these materials came and went primarily by overland route to Dubuque. By 1870, the town added a shoe Maker, veterinary Surgeon, Wagon maker. Professions listed for Rome Township in 1850 Census Farmer Carpenter Black Smith Physician Others Total (1850) 138 9 3 2 6 158 People 10 Professions 87.3% 5.7% 1.9% 1.3% 3.8% 100% In 1875, successful farmers outnumbered all other trades 2 to 1. Some famers were successful enough to have hired hands and domestic servants on staff. Professional Services available in the last quarter of the 19th Century included attorney, Justice of the Peace, Physician and Surgeon, Land Surveyor and Teacher. The teacher and butcher were of diversified interests and both also professed to be farmers. Trades included Carpenter, Sawyer, Sawmaker, Cooper, Clerk, and Blacksmith (Andreas 1875). At this time, finished goods locally available included cut meat, grain, cut lumber, lath, shingles, lime, plastering hair, building sand, stucco, paper, mouldings and millwork, other building supplies (Andreas 1875). By 1893, Olin’s businesses included purveyors of building supplies included window glass, sashes and doors, and Portland cement delivered most probably by rail, and the brick and tile works as in

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