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itation has in a little more than a third of a century been peopled by its thousands, who successfully pursue all the different trades, mercantile pursuits and learned professions, while from school-houses and numerous churches arise lofty spires, expressive of the fact that in intellectual and religious attainments, as well as in industrial and commercial pursuits, the city is well up in the march of events, and the people in full sympathy with advanced ideas--when we consider these things we are lost in astonishment and are led to the conclusion that all things are possible to an industrious and enterprising people who breathe the pure air of the western prairies.
There are persons yet living in Knoxville who well remember the time that the people of the town were too few in number and too poor to build a school-house, when two or three hundred dollars would have sufficed to erect one fully as pretentious as any in the neighboring county seat towns. Now Knoxville has two elegant school-buildings well adapted for gradedschool purposes; both in the appearance and conveniences of these buildings, as well as in the number and character of the instructors, the people of Knoxville are as well provided as are the people of the most wealthy and enlightened portions of New England.
There are persons who will read this book that have not forgotten how their hearts sank within them when coming to this country they found the people wholly given over to worldly pursuits; not a single temple of worship, even ever so humble, had been built, and not a single religious organization had been formed. They also remember the trials, disappointments and self-denials through which they passed, before they succeeded in dedicating to the worship of Almighty God "the little church around the Such of our readers can best estimate the liberality, industry and perseverance which have been essential on the part of the people of Knoxville in the erection of its ten churches, and the voluntary contributions which have been requisite from year to year in keeping up these religious organizations.
In another part of this work it has been related how that at one time the settler was compelled to travel more than a hundred miles to have a grist ground, to purchase his necessary supply of dry-goods or groceries, to procure agricultural implements, to dispose of his surplus farm products; now Knoxville, in its various commercial and manufacturing institutions, supplies all these needs. There are grist-mills, grain-elevators, iron foundries, woolen-mills, dry-goods establishments, grocery stores and stores of general merchandise without number. It will be impossible to particularize at this place, but be it said that in a little over a third of a century there has been built up a city whose school-houses and churches, whose mercantile and manufacturing institutions, whose professional men and artisans will compare with those of any city of its size in the Union; a city whose past record and future prospects are alike matters of congratulation, and a city which for its size and pretentions has more real solid wealth than any other in the State of Iowa.
The place chosen as the site of the seat of justice was designated by the locating commissioners as the northwest quarter of section seven, township seventy-five, range nineteen. The town site thus selected was described by the locating commissioners as a "high, level prairie or plateau, about one mile south of the exact center of the county, and in the near neighborhood of excellent timber."
After selecting the site of the seat of justice it remained to christen it. The locating commissioners suggested the name of Knoxville, in honor of the memory of Gen. Knox, a distinguished Revolutionary soldier; this name was adopted and upon laying out the town the county cominissioners complimented the locating commissioners by naming two streets in their honor; Robinson Street was named after Joseph Robinson, of Scott county, and Montgomery Street received its name in memory of James Montgomery, of Wapello county, these two commissioners being the persons who located the city of Knoxville.
The first survey of Knoxville was made in January, 1847, the plat being filed on the sixth day of that month. It consisted of twenty-three blocks; there were two rows of blocks of five blocks each north of the publicsquare, one east, two west, two rows of blocks of three blocks each south and extending still further south of this along Second Street were three blocks.
In December, 1849, there was an additional survey, the plat being filed on the 26th of that month; this survey comprised enough additional land to made the town a complete rectangle.
The third survey was made in September, 1852, the plat being filed on the 17th of that month; this survey comprised all the remaining portion of the town quarter.
The following was the order:
"I, Joseph Brobst, county judge of the county of Marion, State of Iowa, do appoint F. M. Frush, county surveyor, to run out the balance of the town-quarter into whole blocks, and said F. M. Frush completed the survey with Joel Stanley, E. G. Stanfield, Isaac Anderson and Luke McKerns' assistance, and makes seven blocks which is the balance of the town-quarter, numbered as follows: Numbers 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54 and 55, and block 49 is set apart by Joseph Brobst for burying purposes. Also the county judge appointed appraisers to the above six blocks, who were sworn, and appraised them as follows: Lot 50 at $30, 51 at $40, 52 at $55, 53 at $15, 54 at $65, 55 at $50."
In the first survey the streets were made eighty feet wide, alleys ten feet and lots 120x60 feet. In the third survey the blocks were made 256x240 feet and the streets fifty feet wide.
In addition to these original surveys there have been nineteen other additions as follows:
Rufus Eldridge's Addition, October 25, 1855.
East Knoxville, March 18, 1856.
North Knoxville, April 29, 1856.
South Knoxville, May 8, 1856.
Southwest Knoxville, June 4, 1855.
Walter & Roach's Addition, April 15, 1857.
Hillis' Addition, October 1, 1857.
Jones & Hank's Addition, December 31, 1870.
Northwest Knoxville, December 31, 1870.
Jones' Addition, January 17, 1871.
Bittenbender & Ayers' Addition, February 8, 1876.
Baker & Jones' Addition, November 4, 1876.
Reno's Addition, October 27, 1876.
In January, 1854, there was an election held in Knoxville to decide whether the town should be incorported. At this election there were sixtyfour votes cast, of which there were cast in favor of incorporation, 60; against, 4.
Upon the canvass of this vote, the following order was made:
"Whereas, a majority of the legal voters of Knoxville, Marion county, Iowa, on the 28th day of January, 1854, have voted in favor of having said town incorporated, notice is hereby given that an election will take place at the court-house, in the said town of Knoxville, on Thursday, the 9th day of February, 1854, for the purpose of choosing three persons to prepare a charter for the said village.
"Knoxville, January 30, 1854.
"JOSEPH BROBST, County Judge."
An election was held in accordance with the foregoing order with the following result:
The three persons having the highest number of votes proceeded to prepare a charter which was submitted to a vote of the people on the 7th day of April, 1854, with the following result:
For the charter...
The charter as adopted consisted of twenty-seven sections.
Section one is simply a declaration that the town of Knoxville is incorporated.
Sections two and three refer to the powers vested in the corporation, and the legislative authority which is vested in a mayor and board of alderman. Sections from three to twenty have reference to the duties of officers, elections, etc.
Section twenty limits tax levies for corporation purposes to one-eighth of one per cent.
The remaining sections have reference to collection of taxes, time of holding elections, amendments. The charter is signed by E. W. Ridlen, J. M. Walters and Charles Burham.
We are unable to give the names of the first officers elected under the charter, but the following is the list of mayors from 1857 till the present time:
1857-1859-E. G. Stanfield. 1859-1860-H. D. Gibson. 1864-J. L
McCormack. 1865-E. G. Stanfield and N. J. Hodges. 1866-1868-B. F. Williams. 1868-1870-W. B. Carruthers. 1870-E. W. McJunkin. 1871-1873--C. B. Boydston. 1873-G. K. Hart. 1874-1878-George W. Crozier. 1878-1880-J. K. 'Casey. 1880--B. W. Clark.
No saloons have been licensed since the incorporation of the town. In 1872 some men established a beer saloon just outside the corporation. The corporate limits were extended so as to include all the area within one mile from the center, thus compelling the beer saloon to change its quarters.
The following financial statement will show the state of finances some twenty-three years ago.
The meetings of the council were first held in E. K. Woodruff's shop. At meeting of the council in August, 1857, the plan of building a prison or calaboose, as adopted at a previous meeting, was reconsidered. On motion the building was changed to the following plan:
Twelve feet square, eight feet in the clear, bottom sills eight inches square, two center joists above and below, the plank to be oak, one and a half inches in thickness, the entire building to be double and nailed with eight-penny nails, five nails in every six inches, square roof, to be shingled, and building to be set and built on eight pillars of stone.
This motion was adopted.
The sum of $90 was allowed Furguson & Bro. for erecting the building, and the ground upon which prison was built was leased of C. G. Brobst, at five dollars per year.
The present officers of the city are as follows:
Mayor-B. W. Clark.
Recorder-T. G. Gilson.
Aldermen-First ward, A. J. Briggs, A. J. Kerr; Second ward, J. F Greenlee, Wm. McClure; Third ward, W. W. Looney, W. W. Belville. Attorneys-Crozier & Young.
Street Commissioner-F. J. Brobst.
The population of Knoxville increased rapidly from 1854 to 1860; the rapid increase which began in 1854 being the cause of the movement to incorporate, and the fact is evidenced by the numerous additions which were laid out during the years mentioned. From 1860 till 1875 the growth of the city was slow, and we find that but few additions were laid out. In 1875 the first railroad entered the town, and its growth has been rapid ever since. As to the population in early times, we have already seen that in 1854 there were sixty-four votes cast at the election to determine on incorporation. These sixty-four votes represent a population of from three to four hundred. The population in 1875 was 1,699, when there were dwelling-houses to the number of 350. According to the census of 1880 there were in Knoxville on the first day of June. 2,577 inhabitants.
The period during which there was the most rapid growth in business and improvements, as well as in population, was the six months following the completion of the C., B. & Q. Railroad. During that period extending from January 1, 1876, to July 1, 1876, the sum of $130,000 was expended in solid improvements. Among these improvements were the following: Addition to Tremont.
I. H. Garretson, business house.
Business houses by Weyers and Huffman....
Addition to elevator...
Business house, John Reaver
Business house, Hayward & Underhill.
Among the improvements which have been made since that time, the Opera House Block and the two school-houses, being public improvements, are most deserving of mention.
The Opera House Block was erected in the summer and fall of 1876 by Ruffner, Neifert & Co. The first story is occupied by store rooms, the opera hall being on the second floor. It is 40x80 feet and will comfortably seat five hundred persons. It has a large and well furnished stage, with first clase modern scenery, painted by a distinguished artist from Quincy, Illinois. The hall is reached by a stairway of five feet width which affords ready means of ingress and egress.
The public school buildings were erected in 1877. When the second survey of the town was made in 1849, block 35 was set aside for school purposes. On that lot a small log school-house was erected, and this afforded all the school accommodations the town had till 1858, when a two-story