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1890 Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Story County, Iowa

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is embowered in groves, through which is scattered a population of probably 500, as estimated.

On October 15, 1852, James Alexander decided to enter some land on the west bank of Skunk River. He was followed by John D. Sanford, who entered land adjoining on December 26, 1853; and he, in turn, followed by Samuel A. Patterson, with an adjoining entry October 24, 1854. These three pieces cornered together. In 1851, however, a Maine man, who had spent some years as superintendent in the Lake Superior copper-mines, and afterward located in Illinois, came to Story County site prospecting. This was Josiah Chandler. He looked over the Skunk bottoms, then water covered, and selected an elevated site, which was then surrounded by water, but above high-water mark, as that on which he should settle. This is now owned by J. Lee. He went back and persuaded Sylvanus and Jairus Chandler and others with families to come with him, and work a saw-mill in the midst of the valuable timber that lined the bottoms. Within a couple years after his first arrival, a log store and inn was built by Jairus Chandler. It is not known just when Josiah and Jairus, with Mr. Alexander, secured the site of the present town as above entered, but it may have been as late as 1854. Josiah concluded he would plat a town of about square dimensions, with its streets running parallel to the river instead of in cardinal directions. He did so, and named the new town Cambridge, and, of course, the plat is like the old French surveys. The center is near the school building in the park. The plat was not recorded, however, until November, 1856, although it is Dr. Grafton's opinion, that it was laid out probably three years before. The saw-mill, built in 1854, did a good business, with J. Batterson as sawyer, and in August, 1855, the house now used by McKee's meat market was built on the plat. The first store was built not far from the site of Baldwin & Maxwell's.

In the winter of 1855-56 thirty-one persons were led to the new town by Mr. Chandler, and the entire company wintered in the McKee house, with curtains for partitions. Among these were Wallace Williams, G. A. Macy (a blacksmith), Isaac Mitchell, Esq., Joseph Jones, Esq., John Cook, Sebastian Rubar and others. On one of his trips that winter Mr. Chandler met in stage coach to Des Moines a young Baltimore physician, Dr. W. H. Grafton, and persuaded him to come to Cambridge and look over the site. He came in January, 1856, and the result was an agreement between them to put up a large grist-mill, which now stands in half-ruin but still running. The mill was finished September 1, 1857. Dr. Grafton was the first and only physician, and often crossed the Skunk bottoms in a boat to visit patients. He also had nearly every person soon indebted to him for ague medicine and care, and as there was no money circulating, he took their notes, which he turned over to merchants on his own bills; the merchants in turn gave these notes to Des Moines merchants for goods, and the Des Moines parties would pay them back for produce, until they would often pass this way as currency for a time. The second store was erected on the corner of Third and Water Street, on Lot 6, in 1856, by Williams & Alexander, and was the only store until after 1860, during which time there was no growth scarcely. Almost all the houses were on Water Street between Second and Fourth. Mr. Macy and S. Bossuot, now of the hotel, were among those who built. The gold-fever of the mountains led many to go away in 1859 and 1860, and among these were Williams and Mitchell, to Colorado, and Chandler, Grafton, Livingston and others, to Pike's Peak. The place

Page 207 of 460

© 2012 Mark Christian
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