From Jackson Sentinel Centennial Issue:
Z. MONTAGUE WAS THE FIRST LA MOTTE MAYOR
Narrow Gauge Road, Churches, Fires, Make Town's History
LaMotte, a town of 325 citizens, is located 20 miles north of Maquoketa on the gravel road which was known as the old Davenport-Dubuque post road. The land was purchased from the government in 1847 at $1.25 an acre by Owen Montague, who before his death, willed the park site located in the center of the town for recreational purposes and the grounds for a public school building.
About the same time that the land was purchased, David Montague and John E. Goodenow established a mail route from Davenport, through Maquoketa, Andrew, LaMotte, to Dubuque, one of the earliest mail routes in the state. Mr. Montague named the town after Alexander LaMotte, who was born in Paris in 1818 and died in 1871. Mr. LaMotte was buried in a cemetery ten miles southwest of Maquoketa, and his only living son, LaFayette, now resides in Brighton, Iowa.
Z. Montague was named first Postmaster.
With the coming of this road LaMotte became a community and business center. However, the town site was not surveyed until 1873, incorporation following six years later, in March, 1879. Z. Montague was the first mayor.
Also in 1879 came an event which made LaMotte a business center-the narrow gauge railroad, a branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul system, was built through the town to Zwingle and then later on to Cascade. This gave the town connection with the main line running through Bellevue, and also with the Mississippi river traffic. The narrow gauge operated until 1933 when it was replaced by a gas rail locomotive. Two years later the track and equipment were sold and since that time the town has depended upon trucking service.
Church history in LaMotte dates back to 1853 when a Methodist church was built, the pastor always residing at Andrew and traveling up to La Motte each week. By 1914 the members had all moved to other cities in the state so the church was sold to the German Lutherans. They dedicated it May 3, 1914, as St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran church.
The first Catholic church was built by the Rev. Peter O'Malley, of St. Theresa's, in 1893. In 1904 the parsonage was built at LaMotte and a resident pastor, Rev. G. L. Luehrsman was installed. He was followed, after his death, by the Rev. John H. Friedman who, in 1908, built the convent for the Sisters of St. Francis. The parochial grade school and ninth and tenth grades were conducted in the same building- until 1921 when the high school building was erected. Grades 11 and 12 were offered and LaMotte is now proud of an accredited high School, in 1926 the Rev. H. J. Loosbrock, the present pastor, succeeded Father Friedman.
In 1903 a brick structure was built for the public school, the old building erected in 1868, being torn down. The new building was used until a few years ago.
Outstanding dates in the progress of LaMotte are 1900 when the municipal well was drilled and the waterworks system installed; 1917 when the local farmers purchased the switchboard and telephone equipment from the Interstate Telephone Co., and 1930 when the LaMotte Creamery Co. built one of the finest farmers creameries in the county, now known for LaPride butter. The telephone company now serves 265 subscribers.
Other business houses today include three general stores, three implement firms, drug store, two shoe stores, barber shop, garage, service station, two carpenters, undertaker, dentist, two taverns.
FIRES BRING TRAGEDY
Disastrous fires have caused considerable damage in La Motte. In July 1900, the loss of the Sprank fire was estimated at $18,000. The stock yards, cattle and grain elevator were destroyed July 25, 1910, the loss being $22,000. Columbia Hall, which had been built in 1874, used for a cheese factory, and then converted into a hall in 1893, was destroyed on December 17, 1914, but was rebuilt the following year.
Other fires in 1915 were the conflagration in January when the Electric hall and Ford garage burned to the ground, and in June when fire destroyed the store of Hingtgen Co.
Two deaths caused by fire, have occurred in LaMotte, one on November 4, 1929, when James Mcinnis of Dubuque met a tragic death in a fire which broke out as he was cooking for a railroad crew on the C. M. & St. P. railroad. A year later, on October 17, 1930, Alfred Teslow, 22 of Decorah, burned to death in the fire which completely destroyed the town hall. An hour before the fire was discovered, Dtslow had been placed in the town jail, a part of the hall, on an intoxication charge. The fire company was unable to fight the blaze as all fire equipment was in the burning building. In addition to the loss of the two-story town hall, a barn and several sheds nearby were also destroyed.
The oldest resident of LaMotte is Mrs. N. B. Nemmers, who purchased her home in 1882. Mrs. N. A. Hoffmann ranks second, having purchased her property in 1883. One of the oldest buildings in town is owned by Mrs. N. B. Nemmers. It is the birthplace of Major Noble, George Washington Winner, a 36-inch midget who traveled many years on the show circuits and who died in Seattle a few years ago.
Town officials this year are John M. Hoffmann, mayor; J. C. Nemmers, treasurer; W. P. Herrig, assessor; George C. Nemmers, clerk. The councilmen are William Manderscheid, Matthias Konrardy, Leroy Koos, Jacob Hoffmann, and Dr. F. R. Ahlers. N. J. Nemmers is postmaster and the rural carriers are J. C. Noel and A. M. Beringer.
[Source: The Jackson Sentinel, Maquoketa Iowa, Centennial Edition, June 1938, transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman]
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From an 1887 Newspaper:
INJUNCTIONS AGAINST SALOONS
[ Daily Inter Ocean, Chicago, Illinois, Tuesday, April 12, 1887, submitted by Mary Kay Krogman]
- - 1928 - - IOWA TOWN FORBIDS MEMORIAL DAY SPORT
LA MOTTE, Iowa, Feb. 20. The town council of Lamotte, Jackson County has passed an ordinance prohibiting dancing and all forms of public sport including the playing of baseball, May 30, “Memorial Day.” Engaging in dancing and sports of that day is made a misdemeanor by the ordinance and any persons engaged in promoting such dancing or any form of public sport on Memorial Day may be punished by a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $50 for each offense, and in default of payment shall be confined in the jail not to exceed ten days. Similar action has been taken in other towns of the county.
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