Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick



Branches usually taught in common district schools, including the elementary principles of Algebra and Natural Philosophy--$3.75. Higher studies in Mathematics, Mental and Moral Science, Chemistry, Astronomy, Rhetoric, Logic, Ancient and Modern Languages--$4.50. Keosauqua, April 17, 1851. (The advertisement for the Keosauqua Academy as it appeared in the Western American.)

The first term of this institution began on May 20, 1851 and lasted 11 weeks. In the announcement for the third term of the same year on December 5, Latin and Greek were mentioned as languages to be taught. Beginning June 30, 1852 the fifth term added instruction in French and German.

A descendant of John and Priscilla Alden of Mayflower fame, Daniel Lane was an orphan. He was born in Kennebee County, Maine on March 10, 1813. His mother died when he was a baby, followed by his father’s death when Daniel was only four years old.

A turning point in his life came at the age of 16, when he became a follower of Christ. After graduating from college, he taught English and modern languages for two years, then entered Andover Theological Seminary, graduating in 1843 at age 30. Brother Lane preached his first sermon in Keosauqua on November 12, 1843 where he was an organizer of the Congregational Church.

Mr. Lane graduated from an academy, a college, and a theological seminary, could speak foreign languages, and was equipped with several years of teaching experience. Lane maintained an excellent moral atmosphere in his school, thus people desired to have their younger children under his influence. Miss Mary Wilkins was employed to teach primary classes, for which she received $3.08 per week, as well as her own tuition.

The flourishing institution attracted students from neighboring counties in Missouri and Iowa, but Mr. Lane’s frail physical condition was very apparent and sometimes classes were cancelled because of his illness. He bravely carried on a double load of teaching and preaching, but in the fall of 1853, he chose to close his school and became principal of the Preparatory Department of Iowa College in Davenport.

Lane’s Academy was located in the Des Moines House, originally a tavern near the court house. The large dancing hall was made into two school rooms by means of folding doors. Other parts of the building were occupied by private families at this time.

Although Lane’s Keosauqua academy only operated for three years, several prestigious students included Voltaire Twombly, who received a Congressional Medal of Honor for Civil War heroics; Edwin Stannard, a wealthy owner of flouring mills; Winfield Mayne, first graduate of Iowa Wesleyan College; Stephen Fellows, wealthy farmer; Chloe Funk, wife of Twombly; Sam M. Clark, editor of Keokuk’s Gate City and member of Congress; and others who became well known lawyers, bankers, executives, teachers, and educators.

One of his former students said, "I think Mr. Lane’s success as a teacher was the result of his splendid scholarship and ability to impart knowledge, to his kind, wise and firm control of scholars, and to his broad views and aims." He envisioned greatness and personal profit for his students, through whom he contributed greatly to the future welfare of Iowa.

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick