Iowa's Bellevue War/The Littleton Brothers in the Civil War

Oct 1, 2014

Not many of us are aware of an event that occurred in 1840 in Bellevue, Iowa, a town along the Mississippi River in Jackson County, south of Dubuque.  It was there on main street that a massive frontier gunfight took place, between outlaws and vigilantes.   The shoot-out was between a posse led by sheriff W.A. Warren and a group of men led by W.W. Brown, who attempted to usurp the territory's representative in the 1838 election.  The war drew national attention and resulted in the death of several men including three members of the posse.  For the 175th observance of the event next year, The Bellevue Arts Council is planning a commemoration involving the descendants of outlaws, vigilantes and bystanders.   The group is doing an active search for descendants.   For the first part of the program today, Charity speaks about the war with Susan Lucke, of the Bellevue Arts Council.

Also this hour, we hear about another little-known but significant Iowa event from the 19th century, the death of six Iowa brothers in the Civil War.  This is the largest loss of life in one immediate family in any war in United States history.   The Littleton brothers were from the small town of Toolesboro in Louisa County in southeast Iowa.  In fighting with the Union forces, brothers Thomas, William, George, John, Kendall and Noah all died from wounds, disease or other calamities.  Charity speaks with Tom Woodruff of Davenport, a member of the Louisa County Historical Society.  He discovered the story of the Littleton brothers when he found a scrapbook of Louisa County newspaper clippings dated 1846 to 1906.   In the 1860 census, the brothers are listed as mulatto, a term used at the time to indicate mixed race.

Also on program, we hear from artist Will Thomson of Armadillo Arts in Iowa City, who has designed an 11-foot-tall black granite monument to honor the Littleton brothers.  The Louisa County Board of Supervisors has donated a plot of vacant land in Toolesboro adjacent to the Toolesboro Indian Mounds as a site for the monument.