Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick



“Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some had the judgment to live in Keosauqua for awhile.” --George G. Wright, U.S. Senator

Statistics back up historians who have commented that an unusual number of wealthy, educated, and talented people pioneered Van Buren County. Between 1850 and 1865, Keosauqua was home to six men who later became US Senators; a dozen men destined to be Congressmen; three who became US judges; and six whose wealth was estimated between two million and one hundred million dollars! Several others became military giants, four or five were railroad tycoons, many became distinctive lawyers or ministers. Among the prominent businessmen was a rich Copper king. One of our politicians once secured a million votes as candidate for President of the United States!

John F. Dillon, a Keosauqua millionaire who sat on the Iowa Supreme Court, later became a wealthy lawyer in New York . Connecticut born Seth Richards once owned 65,000 acres of Iowa land, then moved to Oakland, CA where he tripled his already large wealth, and left an estate worth $5,000,000! Ed Manning came to Van Buren County in 1837 and died one of Iowa’s wealthiest citizens. He invested in railroads, land, and banking and owned a chain of general stores. Whiskey distiller Alex J. Davis, initiated a venture in Black Hawk City across from Iowaville, and later moved his operation to Montana where he made a large fortune.

Other famous men from (or once residing in) Keosauqua include George F. Wright; George S. Wright; William A. Clark; Joseph R. Knapp; Delazon Smith; John Henry Gear; Billy Mason; J. B. Howell; Samuel M. Clark; Augustus C. Hall; Benton J. Hall; George J. B. Weaver; John A. T. Hull; William Webster; E. K. Valentine; Elisha Cutler, Jr.; Josiah Bonney; Capt. V. P. Twombly; Judge Henry Clay Caldwell; Judge Robert Sloan; Dr. Samuel Elbert; Major Hugh Brown; H. M. Hoxie; W. W. Baldwin; C. C. Nourse; Calvin Manning; George B. Redd; George Stidger; and F. M. Hunter.

Through history, Keosauqua’s citizens have always played an important role in Iowa’s development and affairs, and several have achieved national prominence and acclaim. We should be proud of our people and their achievements!

(Annals of Iowa #31, Iowa Historical Society, 1951-1953.)

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