In the spring of 1849 Henry Mitchell, John G. Hooker, John Stillwell, Isaac Wilsey, Andrew McGruder, Jacob Hendricks,
Samuel Smith and Martin Neel conceived the idea of founding a town in Liberty Township, near the southeast corner
of the county. Accordingly they employed Stanford Doud, county surveyor, to lay out a town in the west side of
section 35, township 74, range 18. The survey was made on June 2, 1849, but the plat was not filed in the recorder's
office until the 28th of the following November. It shows seven blocks of eight lots each, but since then several
additions have been made to the town. The most important of these are Lyman's, Odd Fellows', Flanders', Blee's,
Newcomb's and Pasco's. A majority of the proprietors were from Hamilton County, Ohio, and it was from this fact
that the town derived its name.
The first house in the new town was built in the winter of 1849-50, by Nathaniel Linn. It was a double log cabin
and Donnel says it was built on the compact snow, three feet above the ground, and remained there until there came
a thaw that allowed it to settle to the ground. Isaac Wilsey was the first postmaster; the firm of Linn & Smith
was the first to sell goods, and. Henry Edwards was the proprietor of the first hotel, a hewed log house afterward
destroyed by fire.
On February 24, 1900, the District Court of Marion County received a petition signed by thirty eight residents
asking for the incorporation of Hamilton. James D. Gamble, then judge, appointed J. E. Reddish, P. M. Francis,
M. J. Faivre, W. R. Sullivan and George C. Davis commissioners to hold an election on March 26, 1900, when eighty
five voters expressed themselves in favor of the proposition and twenty seven votes were cast in the negative.
Upon receiving the returns of this election, Judge Gamble ordered an election for municipal officers to be held
on the last day of April, when G. W. York was chosen mayor; G. N. Kitzmiller, clerk; J. E. Reddish, treasurer;
Thomas Preston, G. S. Gibson, T. J. Williams, H. V. Long, Edward Thompson and M. J. Faivre, councilmen. Since that
time Hamilton has been an incorporated town.
Hamilton is located on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and Wabash railroads, twenty one miles southeast of
Knoxville. In the immediate vicinity are large deposits of coal and a number of mines are operated near the town.
Four teachers are employed in the public schools, there are two general stores, a postoflice, a hotel, a Methodist
Episcopal Church, telegraph and express offices and a number of smaller business concerns. According to the United
States census for 1910 the population was then 391, and in 1913 the property of the town was assessed for taxation
at $77,516. Besides the transportation facilities afforded by the two railroads, Hamilton has a daily stage line
running to Buxton, Monroe County.
Shortly after the town was laid out it came to be widely known by the unromantic name of "Jake's Ruin,"
and Donnel gives the following explanation of how the name originated:
"During the surveying of the town the surveyors got drunk, and Jake Hendricks became so unsteady that, in
the performance of his duty as chain carrier, he had to go partly on all fours, holding to the long grass to maintain
his equilibrium. Being one of the proprietors of the town, and also the original owner of the land on which it
was located, he became reckless in the expenditure of time and money in the indulgence of his propensity for dissipation.
Mrs. Hendricks was greatly distressed at this downward career of her husband, and one day, having visitors, she
took occasion to acquaint them of her great trouble, bitterly declaring that the town would be Jake's ruin. The
words seemed so suggestive that it was thereafter so called and so known at a distance. Even strangers coming from
a distance were wont to inquire the way or the distance to Jake's Ruin."
History of Marion County, Iowa
And its People
John W. Wright, Supervising Editor
W. A. Young, Associate
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Also see -Towns and villages with links
City of Knoxville
City of Pella
Marion County, IA
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