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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 20, 2017

Getting to know Lowell

Aug 02, 2017
Photo by: Submitted Lowell was quite different in the 1800s than it is today. The first child born in Henry County was born in Lowell. The main industry in the town, due to its location by the Skunk River, was the grist and saw mill. Today, Lowell is one of four unincorporated towns in Henry County.

NEW LONDON — Lowell will be in the spotlight Sunday, Aug. 13, at 1:30 p.m. at the Dover Museum in New London.

Elsie Williams and Marilyn Buchholz will present a program describing growing up in Lowell, an unincorporated settlement in Henry County, just south of New London.

Williams and Buchholz have vivid memories of Lowell inhabitants. In many small communities throughout Iowa, life revolved around celebrations, work and family. Following is a little history of the settlement in Baltimore Township.

“On the banks of a beautiful river,

Stands Lowell; the brisk little city;

A city of charms; such a city

Can scarce else be found on Skunk River.”

These lines were found in the 1879 history of Henry County. The author and the intent of the stanza is unknown. It is known from descriptions of Lowell and its inhabitants during the early days that the lines fit the town.

The first log schoolhouse was dual purpose — serving as a church and a school.

In 1836, a hurricane destroyed it. The town rented a school until a new one was built in 1857.

Since it is known settlers were not allowed on the Black Hawk Purchase until 1832, Lowell has to be one of the oldest settlements in the area. As early descriptions are read, the language used is flowery and unusual.

The first child born in Henry County was born in Lowell. A striking description of what appears to be the first marriage appears as “the first couple who were induced to share life’s burdens together were Sarah Archibald and Edward Folsom...”

Because of the power provided by the river, major businesses were grist and saw mills. Across the river was another small settlement known as Smithland. A competing grist mill was built there as well. A pottery and tile factory as well as a brewery were other early attempts at business. Of course, any mill area had a hotel where farmers could stay while they waited for their grain.

Those attending the program on Lowell are urged to bring any Lowell memorabilia they may have to share with the audience. Dover also will have a display of Lowell items and information. There will be a time for questions and sharing of stories. Refreshments will be served.

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