Primary tabs


From the Keokuk Dispatch.

March 21st, 1854.

Public attention has been at last fairly directed to this city, and the influx of capital and population is increasing its importance and prosperity with unsurpassed rapidity. Those who have come among us are bringing hundreds of others by their favorable representations. Our levee, our hotels and streets, and the channels of travel that lead to us bear the living and undoubted proof of this. — The Railroad east and west, the Improvement of the Desmoines for 200 miles, the prominence of the Bridge matter, and other great and certain enterprises have seized upon the public, even to the Atlantic coast, with the same firm grip by which St. Louis and Chicago and Cincinnati, were so rapidly raised to eminence. The laws of nature and the laws of trade compel business to centre here, as a commercial focus, and here it will center, and all the artificial resorts of our local rivals have only served to make the fact more public and apparent.

Repeatedly have distinguished men whose prophetic pen has indicated with unfailing certainty the points for our great cities, asserted that Keokuk is the destined metropolis of the vast country above St. Louis, of which it is the gateway, and must inevitably: be one of the most important and populous cities of the western States and of the whole Union, when those States shall have reached their destiny. The prediction, in the judgment of every observing man, is no longer "a foolishness," but is justified by the actual occurrences around him. We look around us every day, upon the evidences that point to its certain fulfilment.

To say that we do not share the mutual pride of all those, who, with us, have labored for this result, would be to claim that we are not human.

But let us not pause in our efforts, nor consign to self-interest alone the work of energetic progress which can only be accomplished by a liberal and enlightened public spirit. Let our citizens, each one of them, and the city government keep up the efforts and the correspondence which, like the seed planted in this spring time, will be crowned with fruit, an hundred fold to the benefit of all of us. It is in this spirit that we shall publish all that we have room for, consistently with claims of other portions of the State, and shall cooperate with the labors of others. A little pamphlet is now being published by William Rees of this city, under the title of "A description of Keokuk." Being assured that its statements are correct and that the dissemination of them will do good, we have contracted for the advance proof sheets, and shall take pleasure in giving them the benefit of our circulation, beside what the pamphlet may command upon its own merits, and from the enterprise of our citizens.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by W. Rees, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of Iowa.


Description of the City of Keokuk.

THE CITY OF KEOKUK is situated on the Mississippi River, in Lat. 40 20 N. and Long. 14 30 West from Washington, being nearly on the parallel of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. On a direct course it is distant —

2 miles form the junction of the DesMoines River with the Mississippi.

250 miles South West from the end of Lake navigation at Chicago.

167 miles north of St. Louis.

380 miles from Cincinnati.

260 miles from the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

200 miles from the point where the Missouri coming in from the north joins the Kansas flowing from the west, at which place the Santa Fe trade will divide the north and St. Louis, being thus 50 miles nearer to that important trade than St. Louis, which at present reaps so much advantage from it, and —

750 miles from New Orleans.

KEOKUK is principally built upon a rolling piece of ground which forms a Bluff coming close up to the Mississippi river, about two hundred yards below the point where a rocky stratum filling the bed of the River, causes what are called "THE LOWER RAPIDS."

THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, which flows nearly north and south through the richest territory of the United States, and perhaps the largest body of fertile land in the world, is computed to be about 3100 miles long. In its course it forms many shallows across the whole River, by the depth of which vessels are obliged to regulate their lading. On this account it is, that from New Orleans to the mouth of the Ohio it is said to be boatable for the largest class of steamers; from this point to the mouth of the Missouri there is five and a half on the bars, at low water; from the Missouri upwards boats can ascend 200 miles higher with three and a half feet water, when their further progress is arrested near the mouth of the DesMoines by


THE LOWER RAPIDS occur at the most western point on the Mississippi River, where Keokuk is built. This point is 42 miles west of the parallel of longitude of Davenport and 65 miles west of Lyons, a circumstance the will throw the river


freight that has to go inland to a Keokuk Railroad, in preference to one either of those places, where it would have to pay for 65 and 42 miles additional transportation.

These rapids are formed by a rocky stratum which crosses the Mississippi, having a fall of 24 feet in 12 miles. At this point the lines between Missouri and Iowa States commences, viz: at the mouth of the DesMoines River, with the State of Illinois on the eastern side of Mississippi.

Every boat that arrives here during low water is obliged to unload its cargo in to the lighters, which are towed up the Rapids for several hundred miles further.

The fact that Keokuk is situate at the head of navigation during several months makes it a wholesale Depot, the freight being only 25 cents to Keokuk, when it is $1,25 per hundred to Muscatine, &c and &c.

This circumstance would not necessarily make Keokuk a point, were it not the case, that the freight and travel of the west and north-west will come down to this point to take the choice of a Southern or Eastern market, and by the same rule, Southern and Eastern productions will congregate to this point for the same purpose.

The bed of the Mississippi, as well as the banks, is generally formed of a rich sandy loam, and the consequences is, that is very difficult to make any permanent Bridge across the river, both on account of the looseness of the foundation, and the lowness of the banks. At the lower rapids the rocky stratum runs directly across the River, whilst the bluff is 120 feet above high water mark on both sides. The distance of this point from New Orleans by river is 1400 miles; by air line about 750 to 800. Keokuk, therefore, is the first and only available


built upon piers of substantial masonry work which will not obstruct the navigation.

We will now take the reader back to the mouth of the Missouri river, 200 miles below Keokuk and remind him that this river runs about 400 miles due west thro' the State of Missouri, when it takes a turn nearly north, forming the State line of Iowa on the west, it is at this point that St. Joseph, 514 miles above St. Louis, and Council Bluffs about 250 miles beyond are situated, where the emigrants for California and Oregon, congregate in immense numbers every spring, with herds of cattle &c, &c, for the Pacific coast.

Now if you take a map of the western States, you will find that in the section of land lying at the bend of the Missouri river the streams part off in three directions, one west to the Missouri river, another east to the DesMoines and the third south to the State of Missouri, leaving an elevated table land between the different head waters, reaching from Council Bluffs to the junction of the DesMoines and Mississippi rivers. From Keokuk to Council Bluffs is scarcely 300 miles, whilst from St. Louis to Council Bluffs is 750 miles, and remember, Keokuk is also nearly 100 miles nearer the eastern market by way of the Lakes than St. Louis. — These remarks are not made in disparagement of St. Louis, but to show the real position of Keokuk with respect to the interior trade of the State of Iowa and the upper part of Missouri, to which it is the natural outlet.

We now return to the Rapids. If you will be at the pains of running your eye along the map, you will find that a little beyond the Rapids, a small stream runs from due north-west, parallel with the DesMoines river. Between these two streams is another elevated table land, called here "the Divide," which runs several hundred miles north-west without a single stream to materially impede the great travel on the route. It is here that the city of Keokuk is situated.

We will now ascend the DesMoines river, and see what encouragement we have to expect any thing to sustain a city at its mouth, from this channel. The


Desmoines river runs thro' the richest country in the United States, 206 miles up to Ft. DesMoines in the centre of the State of Iowa. It is only navigable for about five months in the year, in consequence of the great fall in the river, 308 feet. But the government of the United States has donated 1.500,000 acres, for the purpose of furnishing funds for improving the Desmoines by Slack-water navigation, and the work is expected to be commenced in the spring. This improvement will create an immense water power upon the Desmoines, and at the mouth, near the Rapids, a ship canal is to be constructed affording a fall of 20 feet at the junction of the two rivers.

It may be noticed that it is an important consideration in the location of a city, whether it is on the east or west of the Mississippi river. A town on the west side, as Keokuk is, must flourish, when a town on the eastern side must languish, and for these reasons — In a new country, the produce naturally flows to the East, where the market for articles of food is higher, whilst those who want manufactures naturally seek the same point, where the greatest choice is to be found. Hence, a farmer loads his team in Iowa and goes east to Keokuk, and this will make that city rise, but a farmer in Illinois will not carry his produce to a city west-ward, and therefore, there is nothing to sustain that city except the business of those persons whose affairs are on too small a scale to make it worth while to travel.


We cannot furnish a more satisfactory description of the Desmoines river country, than is contained in the following report of S. R. Curtis, Chief Engineer of the Desmoines river improvement.

"No country can produce more agricultural wealth than that within sixty miles on either side of this river. This is no exaggeration. Every acre, both of the bottom and up land, is similar in appearance and fertility to rich bottoms so much admired in Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania. Timber, coal, stone, plaster paris, earthenware and other articles at present unthought of, but incident to the valley, will be transmitted through this channel. The water power accumulated at each dam can be, and should be afforded low, for the purpose of attracting to the country all kinds of manufactories. No country can afford greater, and I doubt whether any can afford like advantages to manufactories. The cheap productions, the soil, the climate, the connection with the Mississippi, and through it to the wool, cotton, and in fact to all other countries, combined with the permanent, cheap, and immense power for moving machinery, create an accumulation of advantages which must soon be observed and occupied by those engaged in various kinds of manufacture. The product of every species of mechanical skill will be added to the articles of the commerce of the Desmoines improvement.

In addition to these resources, which must grow out of the immediate vicinity of this work, there is a more extended view of the matter, which I alluded to in my former reports, and will now more definitely refer to. This is the first improvement designed to draw in the resources of the country west of the Mississippi, and though we ought not in advance to boast an example, we certainly ought to avoid a discouragement to similar enterprise. There are several rivers west of the Mississippi, longer than the Desmoines, which at first would appear to command the undivided commerce of all their branches. Such is the appearance on the map of the Missouri, and its tributaries. But the sandy bed, and varying channel of the Missouri, is a great obstacle to navigation, and of any fixed or permanent improvement. Such is the hazard and uncertainty of its navigation, that in some instances, goods are brought up the Mississippi as far as Hannibal, and hauled across the country in wagons, to the vicinity of St. Joseph on the Missouri, a point more than one hundred and fifty miles west of Hannibal. If then, trade can take this course, from Hannibal to the Missouri at St. Joseph, how much more likely to go from the


head of this improvement, a much less distance to Council Bluffs; a point much further up the Missouri. When the Desmoines improvement is completed, and paid for, the only object of tolls will be to improve and repair the work. Supposing, however, we adopt the same rate of tolls that are now charged on the Ohio canals, the toll and transportation from the Mississippi to the forks of the Desmoines, would not exceed the twenty cents per hundred. To encourage "through" freight tolls should be reduced on freight going west of the upper extremity of the work, and by this reduction the transportation per hundred from the Mississippi to the Forks, will be as low as fifteen cents.

Let us then compare the probable cost of transportation from St. Louis to Council Bluffs on the two routes. — the Missouri and Desmoines:

Freight of 100 pounds from St. Louis to St. Joseph on the Missouri river, as quoted in the newspapers of St. Louis, $1.50
From St. Joseph up the Missouri to Council Bluffs, say, .50
Freight of 100 pounds from St. Louis to Keokuk on the Mississippi river, as quoted by the newspapers in St. Louis, .12 ˝
Add freight on the Desmoines improvement from Keokuk to the Forks of the Desmoines, .15
Add freight by wagons over land from the Forks to Council Bluffs 120 miles at the same rate now paid from Keokuk to Eddyville 7 ˝ cents per mile, .80
  $1.67 ˝
Saving on the freight of 100 pounds by taking the Demoines route, $0. 92 ˝

or 46 ź per cent better than the Missouri route.        

Make a similar estimate of the downward freight from Council Bluffs to St. Louis, and the result will be similar and in favor of this route. There is also time and insurance, decidedly in favor of the Desmoines river route; so that taking all things into consideration, the matter is mathematically certain that, except in times of high water in the Missouri, the trade of Council Bluffs will incline to follow down this improvement. By extending this improvement up the Racoon river, as far as possible, and adopting a rail or plank road, or other means to cheapen transit across from the Forks to the Council Bluffs, the difference will be more in favor of this route, and must secure the trade of that point.

But it is not this point alone that is reached. We enter the great valley of the Nebraska, and all the upper branches of the Missouri; and offer to the commerce of these valleys the cheapest and most expeditious route for their products. A country of a thousand miles extent, capable of furnishing vast and unknown agricultural and mineral products may, by wise and discrete energy in the prosecution of the work, become tributary to the improvement now in progress on the Desmoines.

High water in the Missouri, will carry off the trade in that channel and reverse this calculation. [were it not for the fact, that when the river is high the current is so strong that none but first class boats can make headway against the violent current — ED.] But the Missouri is generally low, and prices of freight are therefore generally stated high. Take general rules, and apply the data as you please, and you will arrive at this result. The Desmoines Improvement has every reason to contend for the trade and travel of the far west.

No other river can compete with the Desmoines in susceptibility of permanent improvement in this region, and in competition with this design.

An important item of commerce on this river will be derived from the valley, to which I have before alluded. Stone coal appears to increase in quantity, and quality, as we proceed up the Desmoines. It is found in many places in bluff


banks, where it can be wheeled directly from the mine into the boat; and we may form an idea of the convenience of mining from the fact that, with the imperfect arrangements now adopted, it is delivered at the mouth of the coal bank at Fort Desmoines, at two and a half cents per bushel. This is the bank belonging to Mr. Van, and I suppose is no more than fair specimen, since I found the strata of coal in different places to vary from two to eight feet in thickness, and this stratum at the Forks is about five feet thick.

As the Desmoines coal field is the farthest west, it is of great importance to Mississippi valley, and it will be a matter of interest connected with the proposed rail road to the Pacific, since this valley will probably offer the nearest and most convenient fuel to supply the destitute country west of the Missouri.

Gypsum (plaster paris) is found near Ft. Desmoines, in large cliffs of inexhaustible masses, and at present prices in St. Louis, it would be a profitable article of commerce, if the improvement were completed. The magnesian lime stone, and the white, red and yellow sand stone, which prevail in great abundance along the entire length of the improvement are so excellent and easily prepared for building purposes, that they will also some day be carried to towns on the Mississippi."


We now proceed to state the connections of Keokuk with Railroads.

The first we mention is the Keokuk, Ft. Desmoines and Minnesota Railroad. $1,100,000 of a subscription is promised on the road, 160 miles in length. The Engineer has returned from surveying the route, and states that there is a business enough already to support the road. He was surprised to find the country so thickly settled. He understood that half the corn raised on the route was not consumed. This road is expected to be commenced this season.

Should the appropriation of the land made by the Senate pass the House, this road will unite with one from Burlington and go on to the Missouri river, as well as the one thro' Ft. Desmoines, making two western roads.

The Keokuk road at Ft. Desmoines connects with the Rock I. and Council Bluffs rail road, which is already under contract. It is however anticipated to make a rail road striking off at about 50 miles from Keokuk, when the population on the route will justify the undertaking. The Keokuk, Ft. Desmoines and the Council Bluffs road may be counted as two roads advancing to immediate completion. —

3d. There is a road contemplated from Chicago, in connection with the Military Tract road.

4th. The Bureau Valley rail road projects a connection from Chicago to Keokuk.

5th. The Wabash and Mississippi rail road, 251 miles in length, which runs in an air line from Philadelphia thro' Lafayette to Keokuk, is offered for by contractors at $25,000 per mile fully equipped. But, should any delay occur with the whole road, the intention is to commence the construction from Keokuk to MacComb and thence to Bloomfield in Illinois this spring, thus giving Keokuk a connection with the East nearly direct.

6th. A rail road from Keokuk to Clayton, Illinois, can be completed by forty miles only of additional road running into the road, which terminates at Quincy. This road forms nearly an air line connection from Ft. Desmoines to St. Louis.

7th. An offer has been made by the Lyons rail road company to continue their road on to Muscatine and thence down to Keokuk.

8th. The great New Orleans and St. Paul rail road, for which an application for a donation of land is now before Congress, is intended to run thro' St. Louis to Keokuk.

9th. And last tho' not least, the great national Pacific rail road, it is expected will have to pass thro' Keokuk on account of the facility of bridging the Mississippi


at this place, as well as the fact that Keokuk is on the air line from Boston, thro' Detroit, to the mouth of the Kansas river, and thence to Santa Fe and along the Gila river valley to San Diego on the Pacific. All these roads are converging to Keokuk, on account of these two facts — It is the head of navigation on the Mississippi, and the first place at which the river can be bridged.

10th. We have omitted to mention that Lieutenant Stevens has surveyed a route for a rail road to the Pacific, commencing at Keokuk and passing up the divide or ridge between the Desmoines and Skunk rivers, and found the route admirably adapted for grading for a rail road, and striking a pass in the Mountains 1500 feet lower elevation than the South Pass. Should our government keep out of war and spend their means in making iron rails whilst other nations are making iron cannon, we may expect to see an amount of improvement in Iowa, in the shape of railroads, which will put Keokuk where she ought to be, that is, growing more rapidly than Cincinnati herself.


As this communication professes to be ingenuous exhibition of the real position and advantages of Keokuk, the fear of being considered an enthusiast or an impostor shall not induce a suppression of the truth. We proceed, therefore, to state that Keokuk is the pivotal point where the trade of the Pacific ocean will cross or concentration on the Mississippi River, not only for the United States, but for Europe. In proof of which, the following statements are furnished from the


If a line be stretched from the most eastern part of North America to the most available route for a Rail Road to the Pacific on the southern line of the United States, it will be found to commence at Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the British possessions, and passing thro' Keokuk on the Mississippi River, crossing at the head waters on the Gila River, and running thence to San Diego on the Pacific. A more northern terminus on the east would interfere with ocean navigation by the propinquity of NewFoundland, and a more southern connection would obstruct railroad communication by the Gulf of California.

To this Route the New York and Boston, as well as Philadelphia routes, are or will be forthwith connected by the Keokuk Atlantic and Pacific Rail-road, as also the Baltimore and Charleston Rail-roads. The southern States are already willing and able to complete, each one within their own borders, their roads that necessarily will find their converging termini in the great Diagonal Rail Road which compromises all interests without sacrificing those of any single State.

Government therefore, will be fully disentangled from unconstitutionality of action by confining its action to those lands which are entirely in government possession. All that the general Government will have to construct of the Railroad will be from the mouth of the Kansas River south-westerly to the neighborhood of Santa Fe. New Mexico could then construct her share of the Road, as Missouri, Illinois and the other eastern states have already done, as also California should do for a portion of the Road that runs thro' her southern extremity. Should any aid be needed by some States as being youngest in our confederacy, it might be afforded as advance and not as a donation.

The construction of any other road that that proposed, viz: a Diagonal road, involves the necessity of making several roads, and thus the active capital of the nation will be compelled by the irresistible and, so far, despotic and unconstitutional action of the general Administration to remove its operations from the states of the Union, where teeming millions are cultivating their rich lands, and greatly need Rail-roads, and to transfer their energies to grading Deserts, where naught but wild sage will grow.



As confirmatory testimony of the truth of the statements contained in this pamphlet; we insert some extracts from the speech of Gen. Van Antwerp, well known in the political world for many years, and for a long period Commissioner of Public Works of Iowa.

IN SPITE of difficulties that would have crushed out the life of any other place — Keokuk has gone on to grow, and improve, very rapidly, while the business with the back country, embracing half the State, has more than kept pace in its increase with her growth in population; so that it probably equals in amount, to day, that of any other two towns in Iowa. Nor will this increase be checked for an hundred years to come, or until she shall have reached the point, as I have predicted above, where the whole world will recognize her as THE GREAT CITY UPON THE MISSISSIPPI!

Improved materially the Missouri never can be. There is no making it navigable, by Locks and Dams, if the wealth of the world were at command to do it with — as may be done with the Desmoines, which rises in Minnesota, and traverses Iowa 400 miles diagonally, through as rich a country as the sun ever shone upon. And the Missouri must consequently remain, for all time to come, of secondary importance to Railroads, during three fourths or more every year. — Remember that fact, and what advantage, I ask has St. Louis over Keokuk, in point of locality? Nay, is it not all the other way? I shall endeavor to show such to be the case.

When some 25 or 30 years ago, St. Louis had already become quite a town, and Keokuk, with all Iowa, was yet occupied by the Indians, and no white man living here, it was the remark of one of the most sagacious citizens that St. Louis ever had — the late John Mulanphy — as repeated to me long since by one who heard it from his lips, that were he young, as when he came here, and this point subject to be settled by the whites (which of course it was not, at that period) HERE, at ‘the foot of the Rapids’ — he would drive his stakes, and risk making his fortune, through the growing up of a great city! And this was said before Railroads were scarcely dreamed of. What then, would he probably have said now? Mr. Mulanphy, looking of course to the GREAT WATER POWER here.

It is but sixteen years ago last summer I, who now address you, ascended the Mississippi for the first time, from the mouth of the Ohio to Fort Snelling, (near the Falls of St. Anthony,) (August 1838) I returned, when Iowa had just been organized into a Territorial government with only some 23,000 inhabitants. She has now 300,000, or more! Minnesota, a flourishing Territory! and Nebraska, even now demanding to be made a Territory. What population will these three, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, all lying North and West of this point, contain at the end of this century — 46 years hence? Who can tell? Perhaps ten millions — certainly the half of it!

What are the relative advantages of Ohio and Iowa? The former has 40,000 square miles; the latter 50,000 — being one fifth more. The former with some valleys, the Scioto and Miami's for instance, equal, to a limited extent, perhaps to that of the Desmoines, has large scale tracts of poor lands, and much that is little better than waste. Iowa has none — not an acre in an hundred thousand, but what, in time, will be cultivated. Ohio has iron and coal; and so has Iowa — to as great an extent at least, if not greater. Iowa has both lead and gypsum, in inexhaustible quantities — neither of which I believe are found in Ohio. — The latter has Lake Erie upon the North, and the Ohio river upon the South, while Iowa has the Missouri on the West, and the Mississippi on the East, with the Desmoines cutting her into two equal parts, from North-west to South-east. When Ohio began to settle, there were no Railroads to it, nor for long, long years thereafter; nor canals within her borders; nor decent roads of any sort, to travel over. It was all through the dense forest, and deep mud — up to the hub! Iowa has already one Railroad completed up to her border, and will have two or three more, in as many years. She has, during a large portion of each year, good roads leading to all parts of her territory. Add to these that she has better health, by far, than Ohio had, at the same age, or even now; and who can doubt that her population will increase with greatly more rapidity than that of Ohio has done, and that it may easily reach, by 1900, three millions of souls! I believe it will, and that Minnesota and Nebraska will keep pace with her; and that all this growth, with some aid from a portion of Illinois, and western Missouri, will contribute towards making Keokuk the great city she is to become.

But to return to the relative natural advantages of Keokuk, and St. Louis — her only really serious rival, as I have before remarked; and that merely because she ‘got the start.’ I have already alluded to Keokuk as BRIDGE POINT on the Mississippi. That a Bridge can be built here, without interrupting navigation in the least, is certain. With banks 150 feet high, on either side, just above the town, and at the foot of the Rapids: a narrow river between them; no islands; and clean rock bottom entirely across — the matter is placed beyond all doubt. Where else can it be done? At Rock Island? It must


be a draw, bridge there I presume, if any — a great eyesore always in the way of navigation. At St. Louis? Their papers are beginning to talk of it — but how preposterous? with mud bottom, and low banks on either side. Why, I have gone on quite a large Steamboat myself, out of the second story of a store in St. Louis, and sailed in her seven miles across the great American Bottom — which extends far to the North and South, above and below that city, to the Illinois Bluff! A charming point, truly, for a Bridge over the Mississippi; with the turbid waters of the Missouri, and its monster rises, added to its own! No, there are two points, and two only, where the Mississippi can be bridged without obstructing navigation — which will never be submitted to — and they are Keokuk and Lyons; very important advantages to both of them, as time will show.

Second: the GREAT WATER POWER here, directly at our doors — a fall of 18 feet in the Mississippi, in a distance of 6 or 7 miles; a matter of itself sufficient to insure the building up of quite a large town here, were there nothing else to do so — a second LOWELL, by and by, when the Capitol and the labor come, with the population, to call the power into requisition — as come they surely will! St. Louis has no such water power — nor Alton, nor Quincy; nor any point below nor above us, until the falls of St. Anthony are reached, six hundred miles in the north.

Third: As to HEALTH. Keokuk is a healthy point. Practically, I know this to be so. During the four or five years that I have lived here I have had less sickness in my family, and less to pay to Doctors, by two thirds, than during any four or five years since my marriage; and quite as little, I have no doubt, as families usually have, anywhere in New England, or on the banks of the Hudson. And so, I believe, it has been with my neighbors generally, it must, in the nature of things, continue to be a healthy place. Situated on high ground, averaging 100 feet at least above the river; with pure water; no marshes nor bottoms near it; and the Mississippi running by its side, a clear, clean stream, with bold shores, and wholly free from snags to gather up drift or ‘rafts’ — how can Keokuk, in a latitude midway between Philadelphia and New Y. be otherwise than generally healthy? But, how is it in St. Louis? Sewer and drain it as they may, until they drain her treasury empty, she will never become anymore clean and tidy city than she is now. The experiment has been sufficiently tried to establish that fact. Nor can the great American Bottom, opposite there, more than half a dozen miles in width, and ten times as long, ever be so drained as not to be a prolific source of impure air, to be swept over the city with every breeze from the East.

Then as to making it always a clean place: Nature seems to have a special reference to this, by one ravine from north to south, through its center; with another from west to east; both cutting through solid rock; uniting below the present limits of the town — and then passing into the Mississippi. What a grand provision for drainage and sewerage — a work, I am rejoiced to already see commenced, by the large Culverts on Johnson Street, and Main and Blonders. —

Fifth: The COAL conveniently within our reach. First, there are the Kingston coal banks, in Illinois, the best, it is said, in that State. They are but 100 miles east of us; our projected Eastern Railroad passing directly over them. But more important still is our own great Iowa, or "Des Moines Coal Field," traversed by the Des Moines river, which flows into the Mississippi just below Keokuk. Dr. David Dale Owen, the distinguished Geologist, who surveyed the State of Iowa, by order of the U. S. Government, is reported to have said, while speaking upon this subject, before the American Scientific Association that — "The Iowa river meanders near the eastern margin of this coal field * * * * It is upwards of two hundred miles in the direction of the valley of the Des Moines across the great coal fields. Westwardly, it extends from the Des Moines river nearly across the State of Iowa. The entire area of this coal field, in Iowa alone, can not be less than twenty thousand square miles, in all embracing a country nearly equal in extent to the State of Indiana."

Sixth: The DES MOINES VALLEY; of whose beauty and fertility I need hardly speak, its reputation being already coextensive with the Union, causing it to be visited by tens of thousands of emigrants every year; as perhaps the most desirable locality now open for settlement in the Great West. The Des Moines river is now, as you all know, about to be improved, under a contract recently made, and by the aid of a liberal grant of lands from Congress. The improvement is to consist, mainly, of some 30 large Locks and Dams, which will carry Steamboats, of a good class, 200 miles up the river, to Fort Des Moines. Independent of the facilities for taking up goods, and bringing out products, what an immense water power, for manufacturing purposes, will this create! And who can doubt the incalculable advantages to be derived from it to Keokuk?

Seventh: The ROCK which abounds in every hill and ravine around us, lying in regular straits, of different thickness, varying from a few inches to several feet — all as accessible as could be desired, and of a most excellent quality for building purposes. How do all strangers admire them, when hewn into shape, and put into our buildings? There is enough of them to build up a LONDON, if need be: and covered by a soil upon which the very best of gardens can be made, and are made, by the citizens of Keokuk.

And so as to Keokuk and St. Louis. After once beginning to feel the influences which the completion of our Railroads, east and west, are destined to exercise upon the rapid growth of our town, we shall draw hundreds of mechanics and manufacturers here, where ten will go to St. Louis — mark it! And with the dawning of that era will the vigorous and tremendous growth of Keokuk commence!

But, says somebody, "It will take us a long time to overtake St. Louis; she has 100,000 inhabitants, and we have but 5,000." I answer first, that we have got our 5,000 in but little more than half a dozen years — in 1845, at any rate, there were less than 500 people here — which it took


St. Louis over a century to accomplish: It was not until 1829 that she had that number; and then if I mistake not, she was more than an hundred years old. But go back with me 25 years, to 1829, when I first visited the West; and let us see how her cities then ranked as to population. New Orleans had 60,000; Cincinnati 25,000; Louisville 12,000; St. Louis 5,000; and what is now Chicago — none! save a few soldiers, with their officers. This latter point was then a Military Post, from which a friend, stationed there as an officer in the U. S. Army, had written to me but a little before I left home to come west, as follows: "We have here a lake upon one side, and a prairie on the other, as far as the eye can reach; our only neighbors are the Indians and wolves; and we send once a month to Fort Wayne, Indiana, for our letters and papers!" Chicago, from none, has run up to 60,000 — and, in ten or twenty years more will outstrip in the race, New Orleans and St. Louis both. And so will Keokuk, in tens times ten; or less — possibly in half the time, as I verily believe! At any rate, that she is destined to grow amazingly, the very moment that a Railroad is built to connect her with the East, and another to the West — both now likely to be commenced soon — is as certain as that we live. And that in comparatively few years, if we be but true to ourselves, she will become A GREAT CITY, I have as little doubt.

Such, fellow citizens, are the views held by me in reference to the FUTURE of Keokuk — views not hastily formed and embraced, but the result of much thought and reflection. Where, upon the map of the World, I ask, in the interior of any country, and situated on one of its great rivers, is there a point presenting as great natural advantages as this, for the growth of a large city; and combining all those that I have pointed out to exist here, to wit: A perfectly feasible BRIDGE POINT, upon a stream navigable 2,000 miles, without hindrance to craft of any sort. WATER POWER to an almost unlimited extent; HEALTH, such as a large majority of the great cities of the world never had; a SITE placed upon ground beautifully undulating, and elevated an hundred feet and more above the river, which runs by three of its sides, passing in a broad circle around a point — not a turbid stream, like so many of the rivers of the west, but clear, clean water; and this site commanding many beautiful views for miles around; COAL enough, near at hand, to supply the world; directly back THE VALLEY OF THE DESMOINES, another beautiful and clear stream of remarkable uniformity of width, with good banks and rock bottom; and running through the State 400 miles, in every half dozen of which a great water power will be created; ROCK directly under foot, and every where around about, in inexhaustible quantities; and of a superior quality for building purposes; and all this under a government not only of ‘Republican form,’ but in a State where slavery does not exist, and where labor and enterprise, and capital, find their greatest stimulus, and receive their highest reward!

I invited attention here last fall to a proposed rail-road from Chicago to Kansas as a point from which to start the great Pacific Railroad. A line drawn from Chicago to Kansas, as will be seen by looking at the map, passes through Keokuk; and on that line a road will be built, ere many years, and become one of the most important in the whole West! That, therefore, is an enterprise that ought to be considered in earnest; opening a correspondence with the citizens of Chicago and Kansas upon the subject. Thus would be drawn here the attention of the citizens of those two places, and ultimately brought about, I have no doubt, the connection of CHICAGO, KEOKUK, and KANSAS. — three of the strong points in the Great West!

Between Keokuk and the mouth of the Desmoines, the bank of the Mississippi is occupied by a flat Bottom which sometimes overflows. At the distance of 500 feet from the river, the Bluff rises rather steep, to an elevated table land on their summit, about 120 to 150 feet above the bed of the river. When the Bluff is graded, the surplus earth that is removed will fill up this bottom and render it an excellent location for Boat Yards, Machine Shops, &c., For this reason it has been, it is said, selected for the Depots of the Desmoines', and other Rail Roads.


On the Bluff, about half a mile below the present corporation of the city of Keokuk, and half a mile above the Desmoines ship canal, Rees' addition to Keokuk is laid out. This plat is laid out with a garden in the centre of each block and a public Park for the use of the citizens. The streets are 90 feet wide, the lots 50 by 120, and the price and terms favorable to actual settlers. Wm. Rees at Keokuk, J. L. Talbot, Cincinnati, and Dr. Scott, of Pittsburgh, can be confered with by any person wishing to procure a home, for a mere trifle, in the commercial capital of the upper Mississippi.

It is expected that arrangement will be made with the Penn. Central Railroad, and the Michigan Central Railroad by which purchasers of small means, in the East may secure themselves a home in this beautiful and thriving city, and have


a year's credit on their passage money; so that a party having only $50 to $100 in cash, can engage a house and lot ready for the reception of his family, and have his passage money credited him for a year, by giving security to the Railroad company on the House and lot.

After leaving the city of Keokuk, a short distance, you find the bank of the river very flat and annually subject to overflow with no bluff from which to get a supply of filling up. Churchville is built on this flat, below the mouth the Desmoines, but increases very slowly. On the opposite side of the river is Warsaw, Ills. on the high bluff, built about fifteen years before Keokuk, and containing half the same number of inhabitants. After this, the lowness of the banks forbids the creation of any cities for the greater part of the distance of St. Louis.


We now enter upon that point in the position of Keokuk in which she holds an altogether unrivaled position.

The land on the Iowa (west) side of the River is admirably adapted for constructing a canal for the passage of Boats above the Rapids, being too low a great part of the year, for Boats of any burden. This Canal, it is computed, may cost about One million dollars, a small sum for such an improvement when we consider the immense results producible by it.

The fall on the Rapids is 24 feet in 12 miles, 18 feet of which occur within 5 ˝ miles of Keokuk. A company has been chartered for constructing a canal for letting boats up in low water, for the purpose of supplying the city with water, and of furnishing water power for factories. This will give the vast Mississippi river as a feeder affording sufficient water power to turn all machinery in Massachusetts. When it is remembered that we have a river, the great Amazon of the north, with thirty thousand miles of continuous navigation, by which to convey our raw material from, and our manufactures to all the western and southern states, it can immediately be comprehended that these advantages alone are adequate to make Keokuk a city as populous as Louisville, Chicago, or St. Louis.

In addition to the fall of 24 feet on the Mississippi, we have the Desmoines with a fall of 308 feet in 200 miles, of which fall 21 feet are at the junction of the Desmoines and Mississippi, a mile and a half below the city.

Besides water-power the immense Coal bed up the Desmoines, which is ready opened within 25 miles of the city, may afford her the same advantages as Pittsburgh, tho' we think it the part of candor to state that the quality of the Coal is by no means equal to that of Pennsylvania, the mines having been as yet but partially worked.

The Lead mines of Galena and Dubuque furnish abundance of material for every manufacture in that line, whilst the Iron and Copper mines of Lake Superior, which furnish those minerals in a state of almost perfect purity, are very conveniently situated for the transportation of their treasures of the factories of Keokuk, there to pay tribute to the skill and industry that fashions them for the various uses of the giant West.

The trade of St. Louis requires, it is computed, the industry of 50,000,000 operatives; there is therefore no lack of a market for any amount of manufactures. As the Mississippi is always navigable, when open, and is seldom closed, except for about six weeks in the depth of winter, there appears no hindrance to the residents of Keokuk competing with other cities on their own markets.


The gradual rise or fall of real Estate gives a true indication of the growth of a neighborhood. Keokuk, however, has been retarded in the first years of its


growth by the litigation with respect to the titles. Since "The Decree," as it is generally termed, has apportioned the various shares the rise has been very great. We furnish a list of the —

(per front foot)     off'd ask'd
Lots on Main st. between river & 4th $8 to $10 $40 $100 $125
on Main st. between 4th and 10th $1 to $3 $5 $100 down to $25
on st. next Main, 5th f'm river, 50 cts. $1

The price of Lots is still unreasonably low in Keokuk. Just think; only $50 for a lot of 25 foot front barely one mile from the river, in the Commercial metropolis of Iowa, and probably of the whole Upper Mississippi! How long will they remain at that price? Two corps of Engineers started this week to select a route for the great central rail-road of Iowa. The Lafayette rail-road is to be commenced this spring. And the other public works. But we have named them before. We may calculate that in five years the price will be $300 to $500.

It is a result of the lateness of the establishment of the Decree title that all the leading brick stores appear as if erected at the same date, no one previously having been willing to make improvements until the title was authenticated.

Should any one still fear that in settling in Keokuk he might lose his improvements we introduce here the article in the code of Iowa, especially made for the benefit of innocent purchasers of land &c., the title of which may eventually prove defective.


Chap.LXXX, Section 1233. When an occupant has color of title, and in good faith made any valuable improvements, and is afterwards found not to be rightful owner. — 1236. The plaintiff (true owner) may pay the appraised value of improvements and take the property. — 1237. Should the plaintiff fail to do this in reasonable time the occupant may take land at appraised value. — 1238. Or otherwise, both have an interest according to appraisement of land and improvements separately appraised. — 1239. The purchaser at a judicial or tax sale has color of title. — 1240. Any person who has occupied land for five years, or for less than five, if he has paid county tax for one year, and two years have elapsed without proffer of repayment has color of title. — 1244. These provisions are retrospective.


There are no public buildings of any amount at present in our city except the Medical college and a very handsome school-house that the citizens have just erected, which would be an ornament to any of our western cities. There are besides one Methodist meeting-house and another to go up in the spring (capable of holding 1200 to 1500 people,) one Catholic, one Presbyterian, one Baptist, one Episcopalian. The Seceders are about building a church, and the Unitarians hold a meeting in a public hall. A member of the society termed Christians has engaged a place for stated meetings.

During the last eight months of the year 1853 four Factories, one hundred Brick houses and two hundred Frame houses have been erected. For the coming season the erection of two hundred Brick and three hundred Frames is contemplated by residents, exclusive of any that shall be erected by incomers.

Between 3 and 4 million bricks made last summer, and as many as 6,000,000 will probably be made this year; several new Brick yards being about to be started.

There is an abundance of clay on the land for making brick. The stone in the


bluffs may be had for building purposes, at fifty cents per perch, and the lumber necessary for building is brought down the Mississippi in logs, and sawed at the mill Keokuk. The price of brick is $5,00 per thousand; and of inch pine plank, middling stuff. $21,00, per thousand feet; Pine shingles $3,50, per thousand; Oak $5,00 to 6,00, per thousand. Stone for building Fowler's houses of chip stone, may be had delivered on the ground for sixty cents per perch.

The population of Keokuk, as furnished by the United States Gazetteer, was in 1845, 500; in 1850, 2,773; in 1852, 4,663. Since 1852 the population has increased in an accelerated ratio.


STATISTICS OF FINANCE. — The amount of City Bonds outstanding is $48,301; an installment of $5,000 has just been received from the State University funds.

The eight per cent Bonds of the city are readily disposed of, at ninety five cts. on the dollar.

The City authorities have been extremely cautious hitherto, not to run into debt. It is to be hoped that hereafter they will view a liberal issue of bonds for utilitarian works, as a means of the city getting into credit.

STATISTICS OF CRIME. There are no licensed groggeries in Keokuk, nor any tolerated. The result is, there have been only 4 commitments from the Mayor's court during 3 months. In 11 months previously there were 110 cases before the Mayor.

STATISTICS OF HEALTH. — The rapid current of the Mississippi river, and the elevation of the site of city, cause it to be considered one of the healthiest, if not the healthiest place on the river. Fever and ague can hardly be considered endemic more than in Philadelphia.

The city has expended $30.000 in improving the Wharf, and in 1853, $130,000 was expended in M'Adamizing one street one mile out, besides several blocks in the business part of the city. The Wharf is very handsomely graded, and when finished according to the present arrangements will occupy the front of two or more blocks.

The appraised value of the Real Estate of Keokuk, from the Assessor's books, is $1,550,000.

The number of Steamboat arrivals last year was about 1200.

The government of the city consists of a Mayor and two Aldermen from each ward — the following gentlemen, who constituted the Board of City Officers last year, have just had their official acts endorsed, by their reelection by a very large majority — B. S. Merriam, Mayor; James Lynch, Marshal; C. F. Conn, H. T. Reid, Aldermen 1st. ward — J. M. Estes, D. B. Smith, Aldermen 2d ward — W. M'Kee, Thos. Wickersham, Aldermen, 3d ward.

There are also four Justices of the Peace in the city among whom we name E. COLE, Main st. between Second and Third, fourth door above the Post office; who will attend to all kinds of legal business. Moneys collected, and claims of all parties adjusted with promptness. Land Titles examined, &c.


GAS WORKS. — Are contemplated, to be commenced by the 1st of Sep. 1854.

WATER WORKS. — A company has offered to supply the city with Water Works and the proposition is now before the Common Council.

HOME IMPROVEMENT. — Swan & Co. of Allegheny city, Pa. have taken the


contract to clear the rocks out of the Mississippi, for $5,65 per cubic yard. Whether they will be able to keep them out remains to be proved; the work however, will give employment to a great many hands.

The Desmoines and Minnesota Railroad, and the Lafayette air-line Railroad are contemplated as works of the coming season. Two corps of Engineers have started this week to select routes.

DES MOINES IMPROVEMENT. — The contractor has just returned from the East, and come for the purpose of making a permanent location. He expects to complete the Improvement within 3 years from the first of July. This improvement will bring about $1,000,000 into circulation in Iowa.


Labor is pretty high in Keokuk, as appears from the following scale:

Day laborers get about $1 to 1,25 per day; Carpenters, $1,75 to $2;
Bricklayers, get about $1,75 to $2,00 per day; Blacksmiths, $1,50 to $2;
Cabinet Makers 10 per cent above Cincinnati prices; Shoemakers, St. Louis Bill, about 10 percent above Cincinnati prices;
Chair Makers get $12,00 per week; Stone Cutters, $1,75 to $2, per day;
Printers' wages low, only 25 cents per 1000 ems.  


Every kind of mechanics who manufacture for shipment, will find great opening here for making a location. For the immediate wants of the city we mention some trades which have no representatives here. We have no Wood Engraver not Lithographer, probably the work would not sustain an artist permanently at present. We have no Brass Foundry, we shall want a Gas Fixture Store for our Gas Works. Those who understand building Fowler's houses, would find a good deal of employment here — then we have room for Stocking, Match, Broom, File, Brush makers, and in fact any kind of manufactures.


PUBLIC AND HIGH SCHOOLS. — A spacious School House is to be opened this spring. It is 50 by 60 feet, three stories high, and capable of holding 900 scholars, (we think by the way, that smaller schools are preferable. — ED.) One course includes English, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. $3 per annum is to be assessed on each scholar in this Department.

THE HIGHER COURSE. — Includes Greek, Latin, and Mathematics, so as to fit the student for entering a University of the first class. $7,50 per annum, it is computed, will be the extreme amount assessed upon each scholar in this Department.


F. A. WHITESCARVER, inventor and patentee of the Self-calculating Transit, and late of the Virginia and Tennessee Rail Road, has opened in his line, in this city, and has connected a school with his establishment that affords an opportunity for practical instructions in Civil Engineering and Surveying that is far preferable to a mere collegiate course.


This establishment is a private enterprise, conducted by Rev. W. H. Williams and Lady, who were at the head of the Alabama Female Institute, and also of the Jacksonville Female Academy for many years. The building is an elegant Stone Octagon villa, situated in the highest and most select portion of the city. The studies embrace every branch, viz: The first rudiments up to Mathematics, Language, Music, &c., &c. The charges range from $4,50 to $5,50 per quarter. — Music on the Piano, $10 extra, and each of the languages $2,00.



The Medical department of the Iowa University, endowed by Government, affords facilities to the Student at Keokuk, that are not obtainable in any other city in the West.

A Hospital has also been established by the citizens, in connection with the College, which affords students an opportunity of practical study.


D. L. M'GUGIN, M. D. Professor of Physiology, Pathology & Microscopy.
FREEMAN KNOWLES, M. D. Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine.
J. C. HUGHES, M. D. Professor of Surgery, and Dean of Faculty.
J. E. SANBORN, M. D. Professor of Chemistry and Materia Medica.
E. R. FORD, M. D., Prof. of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children.
EDWARD A. ARNOLD, M. D. Professor of Anatomy.
P. VAN PATTEN, M. D. Demonstrator of Anatomy.


To those not availing themselves of Scholarship, fees $10 to each Professor.

Matriculation fee, $5,00; Diploma, $30,00; Privileges of Dissecting Room, and Demonstration, $5,00.

Board in the city, and Medical Books, can be obtained on very favorable terms.

The Iowa Medical Journal is published monthly at the College, at $2,00 per annum, and will be found valuable to every practitioner.


Statement of the Nature of the Land Titles of the Half Breed Tract, on Which Keokuk is Located.

The Half-breed tract, formerly a portion of the Louisiana purchase, is a reservation of land made by the Sac and Fox tribes of Indians in a treaty concluded with the United States. August 4th, 1824, by which those relinquish to the United States all their right, title, interest, and claim to the lands which the said Sac and Fox tribes have or claim within the limits of the State of Missouri, which are situated, lying and being between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and a line running from the Missouri at the entrance of the Kansas river, north one hundred miles to the north-west corner of the State of Missouri; from thence east to the Mississippi. It being understood that the small tract of land lying between the rivers Desmoines and Mississippi, and the section of the above line between the Mississippi and the Desmoines intended for the use of the half-breeds belonging to the Sac and Fox nation. They holding it however, by the same title, and in the same manner that other Indian titles are held, 7 U. S. Stat. at large, 229. The tract of land thus reserved and designated for the use of the Sac and Fox half-breeds contains about 119,000 acres. This tract of land was not in the State of Missouri, and not comprised within the boundaries of the land ceded. But by another treaty concluded at Fort Armstrong, in Sept. 1832, the said half-breed tract was included in the cession of lands then made to the United States.

By an act of Congress approved June 30th, 1834, the qualified interest held by the half-breeds in the land in question, was converted into an absolute estate in fee. This act relinquished and vested in said half-breeds "all the right, title and interest which might accrue or revert to the United States, to the reservation of land" describing it as reserved by the treaty of 1824, and then the act proceeds to vest them "with full power and authority to transfer their portions thereof by sale, devise or decent according to the laws of Missouri." 4 U. S. Stat. at L. 741 chap. 167.

The half-breeds availing themselves of the right, fee and alienation thus acquired, transferred their interests to a large extent to other individuals.

On the 14th of April, 1840 Josiah Spalding and twenty others filed a petition in the District Court of Lee County for a partition of the tract among the respective owners. The petition named Euphrosine Antaya and several others as defendants. The petitioners set forth that they have a legal title to, and are seized in fee simple of 23 and one third full shares, and 5135 acres of land in that tract commonly called the half-breed tract. the petition then describes the particular claim; the share of each petitioner with the name of the person or persons from whom derived is defined in the petition, and in refering to the interests of the defendants named in the petition it avers, that they, their heirs and assigns, and other persons, whose names and places of residence are unknown to your petitioners are tenants in common with your petitioners in said premises.

A writ of summons was issued and returned that the defendants were "not found," and thereupon at the April term of the District Court an order of publication was made. At the October term additional parties were on application admitted as plaintiffs to the petition; and several persons made their appearance, and time was given them to file their answers. By consent the Court tried the cause, and entered a judgment of partition. The judgment recites as follows: "No other persons known or unknown having appeared or made any claim or objection, and the said claims of petitioners and defendants, and their respective proofs and conveyances being by the Court heard and considered, it is therefore by the consideration of the Court and with the consent of the said parties, this 8th day of May A. D. 1841, ordered and adjudged, that the claims of rights of the said parties respectively to the undivided portions of the land mention and described in said petition amount in the whole to 101 equal portions. The judgment set forth the portions to which the several parties were entitled and ordered that they should be confirmed accordingly, and that partition amount of the tract should be equally and fairly made, among the parties, petitioners and defendants to the exclusion of all other persons. The judgment designated S. B. Ayers, H. Booth and Joseph Webster, as Commissioners to make the partition into one hundred and one shares of equal value, and report the same to the court for confirmation. At the October term, 1841, of said court, the commissioners presented their report dividing the land into shares as they had been directed, excepting certain islands in the Mississippi and Desmoines rivers, which are reported to be so situated that partition could not be made of them without prejudice to the owners, and they therefore recommend that they be sold. By consent of counsel and all the parties concerned, the Court then ordered, adjudged and decreed, that the report and all things therein contained to be ratified and confirmed, also ordered the allotment of shares to be made by the Commissioners with specific directions. The judgment or decree of partition, the report of the Commissioners designating particular property under each share as numbered and divided by them, the final judgment of confirmation and the allotment of the various shares to the respective owners are set forth in detail with clearness on the record.

The above constitutes what is called the "Decree." By the law of Iowa an occupant with defective title must be paid the appraised value of his improvement; this is termed the "Possession Title," and between these parties formerly much litigation has arisen until they acquiesced on the above basis. Warrantee Deeds are now given by the Decree owners.