John Gilbert had established a store in Pleasant Valley where he then laid out the town
of Napoleon. This became the county seat for the newly-formed Johnson County and also the first post office in the
county. John Gilbert was appointed the first postmaster on March 2, 1839. Gilbert died the next day and was buried near
his trading post. His remains were removed to the village ceme- tery a few years later, but since the new grave was not
adequately marked is now lost. When Iowa City became the county seat the village of Napoleon declined and is now gone,
even though having been the focal point for the very first settlements.
Other early settlers who came in 1837 included Samuel and Joseph Walker, William Wilson, S. C.
Irowbridge, Henry Felkner, William Sturgis, John Henry, Geo. W. Hawkins, Jacob Earhart, John Cane, S. B. Mulholland,
Samuel Bumgardner, A.D. Stephens, Pleasant and Jonathan Harris, S. B. McCrory, and the Hamiltons. These settlers were
mostly of Early American or "Yankee" stock. Of the ethnic groups the Irish were among the first in Johnson
County. Philip Clark was born in Ireland. Others of his nationality were Patrick Smith and his wife Mary, John Conboy,
James Wicks, William Croty and Michael McGinnls.
Among the early German Settlers were Casper Dunkel, Casper Nick, Matthias Lane, Joseph and Gregory Gross,
Christopher H. Buck, Ferdinand Haberstrob, Peter Stoetzer, Jacob Wentz, F. Froshart, and Philip Schwertfager. Among the
early Scotch were George Andrews, William Kemp and David, Henry and Will Gillaspy. Beginning in 1838 the movement of
settlers to the area increased rapidly not only from the named sources but from all others as well.. Bohemians began
arriving in 1840 and soon were coming in large numbers, establishing settlements in the northern part of the county in
The rolling hills to the southwest of Iowa City became known as the Welsh Hills, for it was in this area
where the hardy Welsh pioneers settled in 1844 when they began to come to seek new homes and better opportunities.
Their passion in the arts was for music; the Welsh Male Quartette was well known for many years. Expression
through instrumental music has brought the Welsh almost as much acclaim and they made an enviable place for themselves
in the yearly Eisteddfod in Iowa.
The Welsh Congregational Church was organized by the Reverend David Knowles a missionary preacher, on
January 20, 1846. Charter members were Oliver Thomas, David D. Davis, Thomas D. Davis, William Clement, Susanna Jones,
Martha Davis, Ann Thomas and Richard, Edward, Hugh, Margaret and Elizabeth Tudor. The following members were received
by letter between 1846 and 1849: William Evans and wife Sarah, Evan D. Evans and wife Jane, Richard Pugh and wife Ann,
Richard Williams and wife Jane, Thomas C. Jones and wife, David Lloyd and wife, Catherine Watkins, Marie Williams and
Lewis Evans. Regular services in this church have been discontinued but a Homecoming picnic is held each year the first
Sunday in July.
The first Amish settlement in Johnson County was made along Deer Creek in Washington Twonship in the
spring of 1846. The following families had arrived there to make their permanent homes when their first church was
organized in 1851: Daniel P. Guengerich, wife and four children; William Wertz, wife and probably two children; Peter
B. Miller, wife and eight children. These came in April and October 1846. Also Daniel Schoettler, wife and eight
children; John Kempf, wife and eleven children; Benedict B. Miller, wife and three children; arriving in April and
September 1850. Also Jacob Swartzendruber, wife and child; Frederick Swartzendruber and wife; John Guengerich, wife and
three children; Christian J. Guengerich, wife and four children; Daniel J. Guengerich, wife and three children; Henry
Stutzman and wife. These latter arriving in April 1851.
Apparently Elizabeth, 19 year-old daughter of John Kempf, George. 20 year-old son of Jacob Swartzendruber
and Elizabeth, 20 year-old daughter of John Guengerich were also members of the church at that time to make up the
total of twenty-seven members when the church was organized.