Pat Burns

 Family and Genealogy

Map of Washington Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa

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Washington Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa

Washington Township has a large rural area with the two main communities being Fort Atkinson and Festina. The Turkey River runs from the northwest corner southeast, north of Fort Atkinson and then turning south through the middle of the Township.

Washington Township is surrounded by Calmar Township to the north, Jackson Township to the west, Military Township to the east and Auburn Township, Fayette County to the south.

Military Township is where my 2nd great-grandfather, Wilhelm Doerr purchased his farm in section 18. Festina is located in section 23 in Washington Township and the closest community to the Doerr farm (about 2 1/2 miles) and where Wilhelm and Anna Doerr were members of the St. Mary’s – Our Lady of the Seven Dolors Catholic Church, where their children attended parochial school. 

1886 Washting Township, Map, Winneshiek County,Iowa
1886 Washington Township Map, Winneshiek County, Iowa

History of Washington Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa

The U.S. Government built Fort Atkinson to protect the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) during their removal from Wisconsin. The name honors General Henry Atkinson (1782-1842), who built a temporary fort, Fort Koshkonong, in 1832 during the Black Hawk War. 

Construction of the new fort began in May 1840 and was complete by the summer of 1842. 

The regular army turned the fort over to Iowa volunteers as the troops stationed there were needed for the Mexican-American War. Father Joseph Cretin of Dubuque had ministered to the Catholic Winnebagos at Yellow River and soon visited them at the Fort. After the Ho-Chunk were removed from Iowa, the post was abandoned on February 14, 1849. 

A mission was built southeast of Fort Atkinson along the Turkey River overlapping sections 33 and 34, where several cabins, a school and a log chapel was built by Catholic soldiers, Indians and traders.  This became known as “Old Mission” and it was by this name the early Festina parish was known. Father Cretin named the church “Notre Dame du Desert” –– Our Lady of the Wilderness, because of the hardships endured by him in establishing the mission parish, he later changed the name to “Notre Dame des Sept Doleurs” ––Our Lady of the Seven Dolors, the name that has endured to the present.

By 1848 and 1849 the Indians and troops were moved from Iowa to Minnesota, opening up the neutral grounds for settlement. Fort Atkinson was abandoned. Although Fort Atkinson was abandoned as a military post, it remained in charge of the Government until 1853, when it was sold at auction.  Also abandoned at this time was the buildings in Old Mission. Pioneer settlers were then allowed to move into the region. Some former soldiers at Fort Atkinson also remained and developed farms in the area. Historical records indicate that Gottlieb (Gotleib) Krumm, Gottlob Krumm, Charles Kregg (Kreggand), and Francis Rogers and their families were the first settlers in the region around the former military post once it was abandoned.

About 20 years later, in 1869, a railroad entered the region and the town of Fort Atkinson then developed down the hill southeast of the original post grounds.

Pioneer families from Oldenburg, Indiana came in 1849 and purchased the abandoned buildings in the Old Mission farm. These Catholic families used the abandoned log Church for their services and retained the name of the Church.

In 1850 the Old Mission Post Office was established.

In 1854 between Christmas and New years, the small church burned and arson was suspected. All church records were lost in the fire. To prevent this from happening again and also because of frequent floods, a new log church was erected in Twin Springs (Festina), where a majority of the settlers lived.

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1850 Washington Township and Military Township Sections.
1850 Iowa State Map - Washington Township and Military Township Sections.

The following was retrieved from IAGenWeb website regarding Washington Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa: 1

In September of 1849 a number of families immigrated from Aldenberg, Indiana, and settled near the Turkey River. After selecting homesteads, since all families were of the Catholic faith, their thoughts centered on the founding of a church. After purchasing land in an Indian location with log huts, the best of these huts was assigned for the use as a chapel. After it was dedicated it came to be known as the Old Mission; the name has been retained to the present day.

Pioneer farm families who had a part in organizing the Old Mission Church were Jos. Huber, Anton Stadel, Andrew Meyer, George Beckel, Jos. Spillman and Jacob Rausch. The Priest sent to take charge of this humble church was Rev. G.H. Plathe.

In the spring of 1849 Josiah Goddard came to Washington Township and bought the land that had been the Old Indian Trading Post location in section 18. The land was purchased from a Mr. Olmstead.

Harrison Goddard, who recorded a few paragraphs regarding the early history of the township states that he was 9 years old when the family came overland from Greene County, Wisconsin. The family spent the winter of 1849 and 1850 in an abandoned building of Old Fort Atkinson. He stated that a man by the name of Alexander Falconer, who was a discharged soldier and had held the rank of first sergeant, was in charge of the Old Fort during that winter. In June of 1850, his father Josiah Goddard moved his family to the old trading post farm.

The nearest place to buy groceries at that time was McGregor, about 50 miles away. Most food was secured by grinding corn into meal. Pumpkins were cut into strips, dried and used during the winter for pies and sauce. He mentions that in the summer of 1850 a band of Indians came to the Goddard farm and pointing to a patch of early corn, which was in roasting-ear stage, indicated they wanted some. A sack full was gladly gathered for the Indians.

Josiah Goddard was the postmaster for a post office established in 1851 in Lewiston, 2 ½ miles southeast of Fort Atkinson on what is known as the Wendel Riha farm, then owned by Francis Rogers.

Records show that the first white male child born in the township after a permanent settlement established was George A. Meyer, whose birthday was August 1, 1849. The first white female child born was Mary Krumm, born August 5, 1849. Her father Gottlieb Krumm came to Fort Atkinson in 1848.

After the removal of the Winnebago Indians from the Old Fort in 1848, the Fort was officially sold in 1853 to John M. Flowers for $3.521. A Mr. Finkle and Mr. Clark were the builders of a gristmill in Fort Atkinson in 1857. The population is recorded as being about “500 souls.” Dr. E. Hazen is listed as the teacher of the first school at the Fort with a Mr. Sharp, originally from Fayette, as the owner and keeper of the first hotel, which was in one of the Fort buildings.

What was then known as the new town of Fort Atkinson was begun in 1869, the same year the railroad came through. The first church building was erected about the same time and a Methodist Church was built soon after. It was located on the old town site and built by S.B. Dunlop, a wealthy farmer. According to the history, it was built “largely with his money.”

The town was incorporated in 1895 and Wm. Becker was the first mayor. In 1853 the little wooden Catholic Church at Old Mission was destroyed by fire. Pioneer farmers of the day decided to rebuild the church 2 miles east of a site then called Twin Springs, which [is] now known as Festina.

The present church commonly known as the “Smallest Church” was built on the site where the original wood structure stood. It was dedicated June 15, 1885, with the expense being borne by John Gartner [Gaertner] and the Joseph Huber family [John Gaertner was married to Magdalin Bouillon, who is a first cousin of Elizabeth (Bouillon), Untereiner my 2nd great-grandmother. The reason for them building St. Anthony of Padua tiny Church will be covered in a separate post coming soon.] 

Because of Old Fort Atkinson, the old platted village of Lewiston, the Indian School and Old Mission church, Washington Township has more than its share of early history handed down from early day happenings.

Phil Huber who resides just south of Fort Atkinson states that as a boy he remembers an Indian burial party moving along the road with horses carrying the body of a young Indian girl. Burial was made on the east bank of the Turkey River about one mile south of the Old Mission Church.

Washington Township has records of seven cemeteries and burial places. It has the largest number of any township in the county. Probably the oldest one, for which the location is vague, is the burial ground adjoining Old Fort Atkinson. This is the one that was used during the time the soldiers were stationed there.

Second oldest is probably the one adjoining the St. Anthony of Padua (Smallest Church) in section 27. The land was set aside for a cemetery in 1849. There were about 90 burials with only 12 of them being well marked. Probably the next oldest is what might be called the Riha or Young cemetery located in section 28. A rock wall surrounds the small burial ground; at least one Civil War veteran is buried in this little known area.

Next oldest, based on information available, would be the cemetery which adjoins the crumbling St. James Lutheran Church located just north of Old Fort Atkinson. A large cemetery for the St. John’s Catholic Church at Fort Atkinson is located southeast of the town. It was set aside in 1875 as a burial ground.

Land was set aside for the Our Lady of Seven Dolars [Dolors] Church cemetery at Festina in 1858 and more than 500 burials are recorded in this platted cemetery. To the southwest of the town of Fort Atkinson is the Oak Hill Cemetery for Protestant burial, which is platted. The date set aside for burial purposes and total number of burials was not secured by the 1964 survey.

Washington Township Timeline of Events

In trying to understand the timing of events for Washington Township, Fort Atkinson, Festina and Old Mission, I have put together the following timeline of events using a variety of sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 

Timeline – Washington Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa

1832 – Treaty of September 15, 1832 Stipulated that the government should annually beginning September 1833 and continuing for twenty-seven years, give the Winnebagos $10,000, and establish a school among them, at or near Prairie du Chien, with a farm and garden, and provide other facilities, not to exceed in cost $3,000 a year, for the education of their children. Six agriculturists, twelve yoke of oxen and as many plows, and other farming tools were to be supplied by the government. 

1833 – The mission school and buildings, referred to as “Old Mission” were erected in 1833, on the Yellow River, Allamakee County, Iowa and President Jackson appointed Rev. David Lowry, a Presbyterian minister, to assume charge and Col. Thomas as second in command. This is where the Winnebago Indians were taught Christianity and farming. 

1840-1842 – Fort Atkinson, was erected to provide headquarters for the supervision of the Winnebago Indians and to protect them from predatory bands from other tribes. situated on a hill overlooking the village of that name as part of the 1832 Winnebago Treaty. The fort was named after the famous and successful fighter of the Indians, General Atkinson, the hero of the Black Hawk war, and was commenced on the 2nd of June, 1840.

Abt 1840 – An Indian Trading Post was established two miles southwest of the fort by a Mr. Olmstead and one Joseph Hewitt. It seems they had a permit from the government to trade with the Indians. The buildings, all one story high, were constructed of logs. There were five in number, two large dwelling houses, one large store, one storage house, and a blacksmith shop. Joseph Hewitt’s principal occupation was hunting, trapping, and fishing.

1840 – 1840-1842, The Old Mission Agency was moved from the Yellow River to a point on the Turkey River, in Winneshiek County, about four miles southeast of the Fort Atkinson buildings on the west side of the Turkey River in the southern portion of section 27 and the northern portion of section 34. The erection of the mission was superintended by Rev. Lowery. There were about twenty buildings at the mission. One was a large school house, another small church, while the rest were dwellings. 174 179 Location: “OLD MISSION. A post office (1850-82) in the northwestern part of section 34, Washington Township, about five miles southeast of Fort Atkinson and on the west bank of the Turkey River. The noted Winnebago Indian school and mission was located in the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 33, just a short way southwest of the Old Mission post office.” 

About 1841 – An Indian Trading Post was established two miles southwest of Fort Atkinson in Section 18 by a Mr. Olmstead and one Joseph Hewitt. It seems they had a permit from the government to trade with the Indians. The buildings, all one story high, were constructed of logs. There were five in number, two large dwelling houses, one large store, one storage house, and a blacksmith shop. Joseph Hewitt’s principal occupation was hunting, trapping, and fishing.

About 1841 – There was also a mission one mile east of the Fort Atkinson, on the Turkey River, established by Catholic missionaries. Here there were a number of graves, and at the head of each was a cross. It is unknown whether any of the graves were those of converted Indians or not.

1843 – the first grist mill, erected by Col Thomas, of Old Mission.

1846 – Treaty with the Winnebago, 1846. They were given one year to relocate to their new home. 

1847 or 1848 – The German colony, consisting of Gotlob and Gotleib Krumm (aka Kruman), Charles Kregg and Francis Rogers is said to have arrived and settled near Fort Atkinson area.

1849 – By the spring of 1849, there were several Catholic families settled at the Old Mission from Aldenberg, Indiana, using the Mission buildings as temporary shelter until they could secure some land of their own. When settled, their thoughts turned to having a house of worship, so they bought the largest and best log house in Old Mission, excepting the original school and moved it about three quarters of a mile north east of the Mission on a forty acre tract, which those five families had purchased from the government, on which to build their church (the current location of St. Anthony of Padua Chapel). These settlers were George Beckel/Bachel (who in 1851 became first County Sheriff), Joseph Huber family and his father-in-law John Gartner, Andrew Meyer, Anthony Stottle / Stadel, Jos. Spillman and Jacob Rausch.  [On the 1886 Washington Township Plat Map, you will find Huber property in section 34 and overlapping into section 27, Gartner land in section 35.]

1849 – April 1, 1849, Andrew Meyer and wife settled in Section 23, Washington Township.

1849 – June 29, 1848, Gotlob Drum and wife settled on the NW Quarter of Section 17, Washington Township.

1849 – In February 1949 the Winnebago Indians had been relocated to Minnesota. Fort Atkinson, Old Mission, The Indian Trading Post and probably the small mission just east of Fort Atkinson were all abandoned. Although Fort Atkinson was abandoned as a military post, it remained in charge of the Government until 1853, when it was sold at auction.

1849 – Josiah Goddard bought the Old Indian Trading post in Section 18 from Mr. Olmstead. Three or four acres of this land had been broken up by the Indians.

1849 – In September, 1849, the first Mass was read in the Old Mission Church. Bishop Loras sending a priest who walked in from either Dubuque or McGregor, Iowa. From then, services were held once every four months, if it was possible. Pioneer farm families who had a part in organizing the Old Mission Church were Joseph Huber, Anton Stadel, Andrew Meyer, George Beckel, Jos. Spillman and Jacob Rausch. The Priest sent to take charge of this humble church as Rev. G. H. Plathe. 

1849 – The first white male child born in the township after a permanent settlement established was George A. Meyer, whose birthday was August 1, 1849. The first white female child born was Mary Drumm, born August 5, 1849. Her father Gottlieb Drumm came to Fort Atkinson in 1848. 

1849 – The winter of 1849/1850 Harrison Goddard (9 years old at the time) and his family spent the winter in an abandoned building of Old Fort Atkinson. He stated that a man by the name of Alexander Falconer, who was a discharged soldier and had held the rank of first sergeant, was in charge of the Old Fort during that winter. In June of 1850, his father Josiah Goddard moved his family to the old Indian Trading Post land. 

1850 –  Judge Burdick found, in 1850, at the present site of Spillville, Mr. Spillman to the the only settler.

1850 –  Judge Burdick found that there was a saloon in Twin Springs (Festina).

1850 – Old Mission Post Office was established., postmaster was John L. Carson. 

1850 – Abt 1850 – Fort Atkinson Post Office was established, postmaster was Lewis Harkens, proprietor of Lewiston.

1851 – Joseph Hewitt left the country and located at Clear Lake, Iowa. 

1851 – January 15, 1851 Winneshiek County was formed. John L. Carson was appointed Organizing Sheriff, to assume duties March 1st.Very soon after the organization of the county, steps were taken for the election of officers. The election was held on the 4th of August, 1851 and resulted in the election of officers. Among them Joseph Huber served as one of the judges of election.: “ Mr. Huber, still a citizen of Washington Township, is with us to personally attest to the validity and fairness of the first vote.” 

1851 – Jos. Goddard was the postmaster for a post office established in 1851 in Lewiston, 1 1/2 miles southeast of Fort Atkinson on what is known as the Wendel Rita farm, then owned by Francis Rogers. 

1852 – Mr. Cooney was appointed to take charge of the old Fort Atkinson fort and government buildings.

Abt 1852 – The buildings at the mission located about a mile east of the fort, on the Turkey river, was destroyed by a prairie fire.

1853 – Fort Atkinson was officially sold in 1853 to John M. Flowers for $3,521. It was a bit of a bidding war between several others, he promised the others $25 in value each to step out of the bidding. Mr. Cooney, who was in 1852 appointed to take charge of the old fort and government buildings, found his “occupation gone.” 

1854 – Between Christmas and New Years, the Old Mission Catholic Church was destroyed by fire. This divided the congregation, though by this time there were quite a number of settlers, and in the place of one, there sprung up, three churches in different localities, likely closer to the communities these pioneers settled, one being in Twin Springs (Festina), where they would build St. Mary’s – Lady of Seven Dolors Catholic Church.

1854 – St. Mary’s – Our Lady of Seven Dolors, Catholic Church in Festina was established. A School was attached in 1880s.

1857 – A Mr. Finkle and Mrs. Clark were the builders of a gristmill in Fort Atkinson in 1857. The population is recorded as being about “500 souls”. Dr. E. Hazen is listed as the teacher of the first school at the Fort with a Mr. Sharp, originally from layette, as the owner and keeper of the first hotel, which was in on the the Fort buildings. 

1858 – Land was set aside for the Our Lady of Seven Dollars Church Cemetery at Festina in 1858 and more than 500 burials are recorded in this platted cemetery, including our Wilhelm Doerr and his grandson, William Doerr.

1869 – What was then known as the new town of Fort Atkinson was begun in 1869, the same year the railroad came through. The first church building was erected abut the same time and a Methodist Church was built soon after. It was located on the old town site and built by S. B. Dunlop, a wealthy farmer. According to history, it was built “largely with his money. 

1873 – Turkey River Bridge, was built. Located southwest of Festina, was the third largest bowstring truss bridge in the United States. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, then removed from the register in 2010 when it was demolished and replaced.

1882 – Post Office at Old Mission was closed. 

1885 – Johann Gaertner (aka John Gartner) and the John Huber family [husband of Johann Gaertners daughter Mary Anna (Gaertner) Huber built the St. Anthony of Padua Chapel on the site where the first church had been. Although it is frequently referred to as the Smallest Church, it is actually St. Anthony of Padua Chapel. The area next to the Chapel is marked on the map as The Smallest Church Park. This Chapel had it’s vision in France when John Gartner, as a young man serving Napoleon’s army from Leipzig to Moscow, which ended at Waterloo, during the Russia Campaign. When he left home, his mother made a vow to erect a chapel in honor of Saint Anthony to the Mother of Jesus if her son would return alive, which he did; but she was unable to do so before her death. See my post on St. Anthony of Padua for the story (coming soon). It was dedicated June 15, 1885, with the expense being borne by John Gartner and Joseph Huber family.

1886 – John Gartner died at the the age of 94.

Undated notes:
Phil Huber who resides just south of Fort Atkinson states that as a boy he remembers an Indian burial party moving along the road with horses carrying the body of a young Indian girl. Burial was made on the east bank of the Turkey River about one mile south of the Old Mission Church.

Attribute:

  • 1886 Washington Township Plat Map. Plat book of Winneshiek County, iowa, 1886. Warner & Foote’s 1886 Plat book of Winneshiek County, Iowa. The university of Iowa Libraries, Iowa digital Library. Plat of Washington Township 96, North. Range 9 West of the Fifth Principal Meridian. Winneshiek Co. Iowa. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/atlases/id/2420/rec/2 (Accessed 20 Jun 2019).

Citation:

  1. Washington Township, retrieved from the iagenweb website online at https://iagenweb.org/winneshiek/townships/washington.htm (Accessed 6 Aug 2019).
  2. Iowa Ghost Towns, Winneshiek County, retrieved from IowaGhostTowns.com website online at: http://www.iowaghosttowns.com/winneshiek_county_iowa.html (Access 1 Aug 2019).
  3. The Old Mission, Past & Present of Allamakee County, 1913 Chapter 6, retrieved from IAGenWeb.org website online at https://iagenweb.org/allamakee/history2/chap6.htm (Accessed 30 Sep 2019).
  4. Winnebago Mission School and Trading Post, posted by Dennis retrieved from Access Genealogy website online at https://accessgenealogy.com/iowa/mission-school-and-trading-post.htm (Accessed 30 Sep 2019)
  5. Treaties with the Winnebago PDF, 1816- 1861. p. 300. Retrieved from nps.gov website online at https://www.nps.gov/efmo/learn/historyculture/upload/Appendix-E-1.pdf
  6. The 1837 Winnebago Treaty, posted January 2, 2015 at Native American Netroots website online at http://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/1806 (Accessed 30 Sep 2019)
  7. Washington Township, IAWebGen.org website at https://iagenweb.org/winneshiek/townships/washington.htm (Accessed 30 Sep 2019).
  8. Alexandrer, W. E., Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties, Iowa. Sioux City, Iowa: Western Publishing Company, 1882. Retrieved online at https://archive.org/details/historyofwinnesh00alex/page/n7 (Accessed 1 Oct 2019).

Disclosure:
The family Information was retrieved from a variety of family trees, webgens and family stories. I will note citations as appropriate and hope the information assists you in your research, but please do not use this as proven evidence. Feedback is welcome!

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved.
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