Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick
The Keosauqua-Portland Road
Around 1841, a major roadway was designed that would link Keosauqua to Portland, the largest town within the northwest reaches of Van Buren County. There is some evidence that it followed roads or trails already in existence, but some of these were very poor quality--little more than Indian trails. In those days, trails between the two villages crossed the river at Rising Sun, or at Ely’s Ford and traversed through some very rugged, heavily timbered territory.
Rising Sun was on the north side of Chequest Creek, opposite Pittsburg (first called Troy.) Pearson Ford provided a natural crossing point except during times of high water.
From this crossing, the road was laid out up the long, steep Pittsburg Hill, and followed rather closely to today’s J40. A couple miles southwest of Pittsburg, it joined with the road from Ely’s Ford.
Just east of the Lebanon Cemetery, the proposed road veered to the northwest, and then followed V64 from about 1 ½ miles north of Lebanon. At the point where it crossed Chequest Creek was Green’s Mill, one of the specifications of the road. Green’s Mill was Chequest Township’s first settlement in September, 1834 by Henry Musseter and Lorenzo Ellis.
From Green’s Mill, the road went west to Stringtown, near the Van Buren/Davis County Line a short distance north of the present town of Troy, and from Stringtown, angled northeast into Portland, later known as Leando. (Stringtown was a small village existing in what is now Davis County, according to some of the older maps.)
The road was never completed. Exterior lines of Chequest Township were run by Uriah Biggs in 1840, and subdivided by James Freeman in May, 1841. If the major roadway had been completed as planned, chances are the northwest area of the county would have developed much more rapidly.
Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick