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ALBANY
in WESTFIELD TOWNSHIP

 the HISTORY OF
 FAYETTE COUNTY, IOWA 1878
pp 516

a Village gone

 



This was Main Street Albany (now a horse camp grounds) There was another street to the left or east.  Two Streets ran north and south.  I have forgotten the exact number  of east/west streets.  It was 5-6. The school would was about in the middle and on the left of the above street. Merchants and craftsman had shops sprinkled along all of the streets with houses and log cabins in the gaps.


View from Albany Bridge.  The Old Mill and Village ofAlbany  would have been to the left about 1/2 mile.  There were a few houses and small farms along the roads and trails around Albany.  From 1850+, throughout the 1800's it would be a busy agricultural community with a major mill and furniture factory.

The Albany Bridge across the Volga River has been left standing.  The old road south through Albany and up the hill back to Fayette  has been closed since the 1980's.  Hiram Marvin moved his mill from Frog Hollow Creek just around the bend to the left and up river about one mile about 1856.  

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URGENT---PLEASE, PLEASE:  ANYONE OUT THERE WITH LIVING HISTORY OR ANY INFORMATION OF THE ALBANY, LIMA, FROG HOLLOW AREAS POST TO ME SO WE CAN SAVE THE MATERIAL.  IF YOU LIVED, WORKED, FARMED IN THE AREA, WRITE UP YOU MEMORIES.  IT IS URGENT TO SAVE ALL THAT WE CAN AS THAT LIVING HISTORY CAN NEVER BE REGENERATED AGAIN.  JUST DO IT!!

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The first Villages in the County---The early platted villages in Fayette county were: West Union-June 1850, Westfield-July 1851, Auburn-1851, Volga City (Lima)-Oct 1851, Taylorsville-Feb 1852, West Auburn-Sept 1853, Centerville (adjoining Taylorsville)-May 1854, Albany-July 1854, Elgin-Feb 1855, Fayette-June1855.

Several features around the Albany area are labeled on this map from a 1919 Atlas of Fayette County.  During the 1800's the early trails into Albany where in similar locations, however by 1919 some were gone and only used as farm roads.  

  


It is 1878, you have taken the Lima Road three miles to the northeast from the Village of Fayette in a sleigh drawn by your favorite winter pulling horse 
to visit friends and relatives for the Holidays.  You will stay overnight in the Village of Albany, down the steep hill in front of you, Albany Hill, and you can see the turn to the right down Main Street.  Albany is a thriving pioneer community of several hundred with a major grist mill, furniture factory that ships chairs, tables, etc. out by teamsters and the new railroad running by Lima,  just on the other side of the valley ahead of you.  There are schools, craftsmen, shop, merchants and many small farms in the valley and surrounding hills.  Everyone is trying to make a living and improve their lives, many are just trying to survive in a new land.  

 

 


This Valley in what would be Westfield Township, Fayette County, Iowa was a major hunting and camping grounds for several Native American Nations.  Albany/Lima was a prosperous pioneer valley from the late 1840's into the mid 1900's when horse/oxen farming would give way to mechanized farming.  After WWII the villages of Lima and Albany declined rapidly, to near non-existence by the late 1950's.  In the 1960's the Iowa State Conservation Commission began buying out the entire valley from Lima, up Frog Hollow, Albany, and all the way to Big Rock near Fayette, with the intention of building a large dam near Albany creating a large recreational lake.  All of the small farmers in the area sold or were legally forced to sell the land wanted for the project.  After geological studies determined the limestone of the valley was too porous to hold water the lake project was downsized to a small impoundment in Frog Hollow.  Thus from the late 1960's to the present the area from Lima to Big Rock have been in a  state of biological succession toward the original woodland of the past, only interrupted by the horse trails and any other activities that the Conservation Commission fancies.  Succession to the original forest community the Indians were living in and the first settlers explored would take at least another hundred years of undisturbed growth without logging or bulldozers,  and of course that will not happen.  The Villages of Albany and Lima no longer exist, except in the memories of a very few of us old enough to remember.  If you happen to be lucky enough to actually remember the Lima/Albany Villages and area, I would like to add your living history to these pages.  If you have any only pictures of Albany/Lima, I would like to get some digital pics to add.  Email Z Please!!

 

 

 


Earl's Albany Mill in 1868, was located on the Volga River, just on the southeast corner of the village.  
This was a major, well known,  grist mill in the area.  Farmers came for many miles to have grain ground.

 


---OF ALBANY  (inserts from "Chats with Old Timers")
Albertson's Store at Albany:
A little breeze of the national political winds that were blowing in 1856, and something to stimulate some memories of the more glorious days of our neighboring village of Albany, come to us out of this old advertisement found in the Pioneer commencing March 17, 1856. "KANSAS MUST BE FREE:" 1000 volunteers wanted immediately, to meet at Albany, armed with the "needful," to buy at Prime Cost Albertson's large and extensive stock of clothing, dry goods, groceries, glassware, hardware, woodenware, hats and caps, boots and shoes, paints and oils, dyestuffs, drugs, and medicines, notions, trimmings, etc. Having determined to emigrate to Kansas the present season, I now offer my entire stock of merchandise at Prime Cost, for "Pay Down," or approved paper on time. A good opportunity is offered to a person wishing to engage in the mercantile business. For particulars, inquire of C.A. Newcomb, West Union, or the proprietor, at Albany. All those indebted to the subscribe either on notes or accounts due, are requested to call and settle immediately. Albert Albertson, Albany, March 17, 1856.

Who was Albertson? Where did he come from? What is remembered about him? Where was his store? What became of it? If he went to Kansas whet became of the family? What other stores, or other lines of business were there at Albany about that time, and who were the most active citizens around there?

Albany was the third town started in Westfield township. The original proprietors of the town plat, and the main promoters of the town were Albert Albertson and Edwin Smith. A Mr. John Dollarhide apparently started into the venture with them but sold out to Albertson and Smith before the plat was recorded. Albany became quite a thriving and aggressive village.

Indian Politics at Albany---There may be some political inspiration abut the valley at Albany. I believe the folks over there for many years were the predominating political group in Westfield township. When Lamont Perry, one of my school mates, in abut 1898, I think, prepared his high school graduating speech he discussed his subject with me, which was something about the Indian life in Fayette county. I remember his telling me some of the things that his uncle (by marriage) Andrew J. Hensely, who came to Fayette county before the Indians were moved away, had told him. The only point I remember now was that once there was a meeting of Indians in the valley at Albany, at which meeting they chose a chief. I have never seen this in any history.

Albertson a Promoter of Albany---The advertisement of Albert Albertson in the Pioneer made me curious about the man. I find no biography in any county history. The deed records and old newspapers, however, indicate that he was one of the most enterprising of our local pioneers. He was one of the first investors and business men at West Union. From December 14, 1853, to May 17, 1854, he ran one of the largest advertisements in the Fayette County Pioneer for his General Merchandise store in West Union, in which he referred to the business as The Arcade Saving Bank. As one of the first advertisers in the county he surely "praised himself highly." May 24, 1854, Levi Fuller and H. Chandler began advertising their opening of a wholesale and retail hardware "stand" at West Union in "the well known stand formerly occupied by Albert Albertson as a store room."

His Later Career---May 30, 1855, there was published a dissolution notice (dated May 3rd) of the firm of Albert Albertson and Edwin Smith at Albany and it was announced that Albertson would continue the business. In the March 17, 1856, issue of The Pioneer Albertson began running his closing out ad printed before in these columns. Dec. 6, 1856, he asked debtors to meet him at C.A. Newcomb's office in West Union between Jan. 1 and Jan. 6th, 1857, to pay their accounts. Whether this Albertson who was an early booster in two Fayette county towns did, as advertised, go to Kansas, I do not know. The last trace of him I find is a quit claim deed, for a West Union lot, executed Nov. 21, 1865, in which his residence is given as Chicasaw county, Iowa. Did he move a little further west from Fayette county and pioneer more towns or enterprises?

---Business of Albany 1858---

Northern Iowa Cabinet and Turning Shop---At Albany, Iowa, operated by E.E. Chandler, advertises their workmen among the best in the county; announce to citizens of Fayette county, and the rest of the world, they will furnish all kinds of cabinet furniture, bedsteads, bureaus, tables, whiffle-trees, neckyokes, hubs, etc.

F. (Fleming) Jones---at Albany, has in operation a chair factory and is prepared to furnish on shortest notice chairs of all descriptions, warranted for one year, and delivered at any place within four miles.

James K. Kent---at Albany, was still to be found at the old shop. Blacksmith, horses shod $2.75 per span, or $3.25 on time. All other work for cash in proportion. Oxen shod for $3.25.

---MARVIN'S MILL

Licille Whitely writes: The Marvin family probably has been engaged in the saw-mill and grist-mall business more years than any other family that has lived in Fayette count. Hiram Marvin, whose name sometimes appears as D.H. Marvin in very early records, was one of the early settlers of Westfield township. June 8th, 1854, he "entered" the SW 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of Sec. 11-93-8, now owned by Ralph Dickinson. (In 2000, this would be on the valley creek, just to the north of the old road which runs to the west up the hill from the Albany horse campground. For those old enough to remember the town of Albany, the road to Fayette off the north end of Albany led up the steep hill to the west. Marvinís first mill would have been off to the north of that hill and on the creek in the valley.) November 5th 1856, he acquired from John P. Davis, then of Allamakee county, the SW 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of Sec. 23-93-8, at a cost of $210. (Marvinís second mill location was very unknown in modern time. In 2000, the old Albany bridge is still standing across the Volga River. If you were to leave the Albany horse campground and go across the bridge to the south, and walk the old road which then led up the hill to the south, looking off the west you would see the Volga River running directly along a steep bluff before coming out into the flats along the long road. It was in the junction area of the bluff and flats that Hirum Marvin built his second mill.z/2000.) It is on this latter forty above Albany that Marvin's saw-mill and grist -mill was located for many years. Mr. Marvin was born in New York state, in 1806; married Abigail Taylor, also a resident of New York, in 1826, and came to Fayette county in 1854, after nineteen years' residence in Michigan. Whether he had engaged in any milling business before coming to Iowa we do not now know.

His first mill was a failure. Frank Jones and Thomas R. Parker say that Mr. Marvin first build a mill on the Burns Creek, or Frog Hollow Creek (to the northwest of Albany, now the Albany campground on the Volga Lake Recreational Area in 1999), near where Ralph Dickinson is living (in 1938). This first mill was far from successful, due to insufficiency of waterpower. Undaunted, he moved his equipment to the Volga on the forty in Section 23, probably after 1857, and a few of the foundations stones of the old building may be seen a short way up the river from where Frank Holtzman now lives (1938), (this would be the area downriver about a half mile from the old Albany bridge which is still standing in 1999, Z).
Two men, Chandler and Ward, in early days operated a furniture factory in a building on Marvin's land and connected with his mill, using the mill shafting to run their turning lathes. They went to the (civil) war and were both killed. Marvin then used the furniture factory building for his mill purposes. Chandler and Ward owned land nearby. For this mill Marvin made a deep mill pond, this time getting sufficient power to do a thriving business, securing feed grinding and wood sawing business from many folks living on the prairie around (and to the west of) Fayette. In those days Marvin's Hill, now so seldom ventured upon by the traveler, was a busy thorofare for traffic, with its loads of logs, lumber, grain and grists. The heavily wooded hill across the served as a source of lumber for those who contemplated a barn or house "raising."
Marvin's Road: The long rocky road which extends up the side of the bluff to the east of the mill site, and which is not topped by Doc Sperry's rustic little "cabin in the woods", was dug out and put through by Marvin himself, and was, at that time, known as "Marvin's Hill." (This would eventually become the road leading into Albany from the south when the Albany bridge was built. Until that time river fords were used.)
A much-talked of incident, which occurred while Marvin was operating the mill, was related to me by Mr. T.R. Parker, who stated that he used to live right beside the mill, and that he used to spend a great deal of his leisure time fishing at the base of the mill. A team drowns in the mill pond. A fine team of horses was left untied outside the mill by a farmer, living at that time near Hawkeye, who had come to have some feed ground. The team, probably thirsty, started down the bank to the deep mill pond. The owner, seeing them and being aware of the possible outcome of such a step, grabbed the lines in an attempt to guide them back up the bank. The strain on the lines was too much and one them broke, letting the team fall into the pond. The owner of the horses could not swim, and Marvin dared not go into the cold water because of a very recent recovery form illness, so there was little to be done but watch the horses flounder and finally give up the losing battle and drown. Mr. Parker speaks of this as a time of great excitement to hem, and of his desire to get (take) his father's dinner to the Marvin sugar "bush" (sorghum fields) where he was working in order to be the first with the news. The sugar "bush" was located near the first spot where Marvin started in the milling business.
Marvin as a public officer. In addition to his milling and farming, Marvin served five or six years as Justice of the Peace and supervisor from the Albany area. Mr. Marvin acquired considerable land around his mill property, owning at one time about 200 acres.

In 1883, the Marvin mill property was conveyed to Erastus ("Broad") Hammond, of Fayette, a stone mason, and also a bee keeper who was seeking a better place than in town for his bees. In exchange for the mill and some farm property Mr. Hammond conveyed to Marvin the town lots and brick house which are still in possession of the Marvin family, being the property now occupied by Lloyd Marvin just north of the Main street bridge (this property was the brick house just across the old 150 bridge to the north of the road. When the new bridge went in during the 1980's the highway went through the old Marvin property and the house was to the south of the highway. The flood of 1999 has lead to the condemning of all properties to the north of the river (in Canada) and all building will be torn down in the flood plain, Z).
It is told that George Earle operated the old (Albany) mill after H. Marvin quit. We find no record yet that he owned the land and we wonder if he leased the mill outfit from Hammond. The mill business was discontinued about 18??, and the old building was moved away to become a hay barn.

The Iowa Postal Card (newspaper) for May 9, 1890, mentions the death of Hiram Marvin at Fayette, on may 6, 1890, at eighty-four years of age, and the editor, O.C. Cole, said this of him: "He was for many years owner of what was once Marvin's Mills, a couple of miles down the Volga, and has had varied interest in the bank, the elevator and other property, at various times. We have know Mr. Marvin for thirty-four years and can bear testimony that he bore the reputation of an honest man, a reliable friend, and a good neighbor. In his later years, he became an ardent believer in the doctrines of Modern Spiritualism. He has always been a good friend to the writer.

As a mill owner Joseph H. Marvin, son of Hiram, will probably be the subject of a separate sketch.  O. W. Stevenson, "Chats with Old Timers," 1938-1943.

 

 


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