VINTON, a small post-village, capital of Benton co., Iowa, about 55 miles N. W. from Iowa City. Its origin is very recent. (Baldwin's New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States..., 1854)
VINTON, the county seat of Benton County, is situated on the Cedar River, about five miles north of the geographical centre of the county, and is a flourishing town of fifteen hundred inhabitants. The railroad is not yet completed to the town, but no doubt it will be finished, and in operation to that place, within twelve months, or before the close of the year 1866. Vinton is one of the main points on the route of the Cedar Valley Railway, connecting the C. & N. W. R. W., (which runs across the southern end of the county,) with the northern portion of the State, and the extensive pine forests of Minnesota.
The timber adjacent to Vinton is of the best quality found in Central Iowa, and is the largest body of the same on the Cedar River. Three large saw mills are in active operation, and make immense quantities of lumber. Owing to the extent of the timbered lands, wood is much cheaper than at any other point on the river, thus presenting a great inducement to actual settlers, by diminishing the cost of opening a prairie farm, and lessening the expense of fuel.
The town is situated immediately on the bank of the river, which is very high, and never subject to overflow, and a fine free bridge spans the river at the north end of Main street, affording a safe passage to and from the town. The river at this place is broad and beautiful, with a rapid current, and the water perfectly clear and pure. The forest on the north bank is nearly two miles in width, while on the southern bank, the timber breaks away, leaving a strip of beautiful prairie, touching the river itself, and upon which the town is located. Dame Nature has done much to make the situation pleasant, and the taste displayed by the citizens in the construction of their residences and grounds, renders it really captivating. A line of steamboats used formerly to ply upon the river, but about the commencement of the war was withdrawn. Boats of light draught could navigate the river during the spring and autumn months, ascending as far north as Cedar Falls.
Vinton was first settled in the year 1846, by C. Leverich, G. Billy White, J. Royal, J. F. Beckett, Aaron Webb, I. D. Simison and others, who built log cabins on the site of the present town.
For the next three years after its first settlement, the growth of the town was not rapid: but after that time, such was the great influx of immigrants, that the place became one of importance—stores and saw mills were established, and the country, for a distance of twenty miles around, contributed to its growth and prosperity.
The first lawyer who made Vinton his home, was John Alexander, now County Judge of Sac County.
The first physician in the town was one C. W. Buffum.
The first white child born in Winton, was William M. Traer, son of Dr. J. C. and Marcia W. Traer, on the 21st day of May, 1852.
The first death occurred in the spring of 1851, Mr. Samuel Roseberry, and the second was the death of James F. Beckett, in November, 1851.
The original town was laid out in the month of November, 1849, by James Leverich, and was called Fremont, in compliment to the intrepid Col. John C. Fremont. It was located on the west half of section 16, township 85, north of range 10, the site having been selected and voted by the electors of the county at the August election of that year, as and for the county seat of the county. It was surveyed, platted and acknowledged on the 29th day of November of said year, by Irwin D. Simison, Surveyor, who had previously officiated as Clerk of the District Court.
One of the first justices at Vinton was David S. Brubaker, who dispensed justice in a small frame building in town.
The Vinton Eagle newspaper was established in the month of January, 1855, by F. Lyman, In starting his paper, Mr. Lyman encountered innumerable obstacles, but by dint of great perseverance and ceaseless work, the Eagle was established on a good basis, and is now in a flourishing condition. The present editor and proprietor is W. W. Hanford, who became connected with the paper in 1857.
There are manufactories of various kinds at Vinton, but not sufficient to supply the demand for the articles made. The water power of the Cedar River is excellent, and sufficient for any and all purposes. A woolen factory is very much needed; as also factories for the making of all kinds of agricultural implements. There is an abundance of timber adjacent to the town, of the very best quality, which can and should be used for manufacturing purposes. The stone found in the Vinton quarries, than which there is no better in the State, is amply sufficient for all uses for years to come, and is used extensively for building. Brick kilns are in constant operation, supplying brick of the best quality to the people for many miles around.
Vinton is destined to be one of the important towns of Central Iowa. Its facilities and advantages are equalled by few, and excelled by no other village in the State. The inhabitants are intelligent, steady and of industrious habits. They are peculiarly a temperate people. there being no whiskey shops in the town. The educational interests of the place has been well cared for by the people, and one of the best schools in the western country is in successful operation. The building was erected in the year 1864, at a cost of about $13,000.
It is built of brick, three stories in height, and divided into six large rooms, each of which will be occupied by a teacher. The house is an imposing structure, occupying an eminence near the centre of the town. The board of directors is composed of business men of the place, all of whom are determined that the school shall be conducted in the most approved manner.
THE IOWA STATE BLIND ASYLUM is located at Vinton. It is a fine structure, four stories in height, and built of stone, taken from the quarries adjoining the town. The building was commenced in 1859, and completed in 1860, under the supervision of the architect, R. S. Finkbine, of Iowa City. The Principal of the institution is Rev. Reed Wilkinson, who has under his care about sixty pupils of both sexes. The Principal is assisted by an able corps of instructors, all of whom reside at the institution. The asylum is one hundred and eight feet in length, by seventy feet in width, and is situated about the centre of the grounds, which comprise forty acres, and are beautifully laid out in walks, ornamented with all kinds of trees and shrubs.
Many of the private residences are elegant, and most of the streets being adorned with trees, the appearance of Vinton is quite picturesque.
Vinton is the place of residence of the Hon. Charles H. Conklin, Judge of the Eighth Judicial District of Iowa.
The Court House is situated on a public square, in the business portion of the town, and is a fine structure. The grounds are handsomely laid out, studded with shrubs, evergreens, and the different varieties of ornamental trees, forming a very attractive place for the people during the summer season. The court room is about sixty feet in length, by forty feet in width, and is in the second story; while the lower one is divided into rooms occupied by the various county officers. It was built in the year 1856, during the administration of S. Douglass, County Judge, and cost the sum of $16,000.
Vinton contains five churches, viz: Baptist, Methodist, N. S. Presbyterian, O. S. Presbyterian and United Presbyterian; also three general stores, five groceries, two hardware stores, two hotels, two banking houses, one flour mill, two saw mills, two drug stores, two lumber yards, and the usual number of mechanical shops. (Hair's Iowa State Gazetteer..., 1865)