The Richardson-Jakway Historic Site is a partner site in the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area. This site, located at Jakway Park just two miles South of Aurora, provides a glimpse into the 19th century home, farmstead, and community. Abiathar Richardson, a native of the state of Maine, arrived in Iowa in 1849 and built a log cabin on the west side of Buffalo Grove. In so doing, he became the first settler in what came to be known as Buffalo Township, Buchanan County, Iowa.
For nearly a year he was the sole inhabitant. Then he induced a couple who were on their way west, Silas Messenger and his wife, to take his cabin as their home. Richardson stayed with the Messengers for the next year.
In 1851 he built his new home - the first frame house in the township. He painted it the "romantic color of red" as described in an early account.
Abiathar Richardson was described as an experienced woodsman who had worked in the ship building trade in his native Maine. He fashioned every joint and every beam. He split the shingles out of native oak and walnut from his own timber.
Buffalo Township was officially established in 1852 and a little village grew up around the Richardson house. The village was known variously as Buchanan, Buffalo Grove or Mudville. The settlement was laid out and platted by Richardson in 1857.
His house was used as a polling place for first election ever held in the township. It also housed the Buffalo Grove post office from 1857 to 1885. Abiathar Richardson served as the first postmaster. The "old red house", as it came to be known locally, was the stopping place for the stagecoach line which was established through the area. It served as a stage coach inn from 1857 to 1886.
By 1881 the following businesses were located at Buffalo Grove: groceries and dry goods - John M. Price; groceries and dry goods - Theodore Williams; wagon shop - Robert Trotter; blacksmiths - John Ripke; G.D. Russell and William Bradley; steam-powered feed mill - Johnson Allison; steam sawmill - William Bradley; wind grist mill - J. M. Price; wagonmaker - G.D. Russell; physician - J. M. Price; postmaster-John M. Price; and broom manufactory - J.W. Russell. There was also a town hall, church and a school in the village. Abiathar Richardson died in 1872 and the home passed to his family.
The little village thrived until 1886 when the Chicago Great Western Railway laid their tracks one and one-half miles north of Buchanan and the town of Aurora sprang up. This was the death knell for the little village. Most of the buildings were moved, during the next winter, to the bustling community of Aurora.
In 1894 the Richardson family traded this farm for a farm owned by the John Jakway family. Later, the Palmer family became tenants of the Jakways and lived here for several years. Then, Glenn Jakway, John's son, moved into the house around 1910 and remained there until his death in 1967.
After Glenn Jakway's death, the farm was sold to the Buchanan County Conservation Board and became known as the Jakway Forest Area. In 1985, the "old red house", now known as the Richardson-Jakway House, was included on the National Register of Historic Places because of its historical significance. A popular feature of the Jakway Forest Area is the Jakway nature trail.
Click here to download a Jakway Park Visitor's Guide (PDF)