Nashua's Early History
is a prosperous and important town near the
southwest corner of the county. It is situated in a
bend of the Cedar River, directly opposite the
confluence of the Little Cedar, and at the foot or
south end of the heaviest body of timber in
Chickasaw County. The town plat lies in the river
valley on dry ground sufficiently high to be above
the reach of floods with a gentle inclination
eastward. It is a beautiful location, which is
thoroughly protected from high winds in every
direction by high ground covered with timber. The
Cedar River affords very valuable and excellent
water power on the north side, just above the
railroad bridge, which is occupied by one of the
largest and best flouring mills in northern Iowa."
A.T. Andreas Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa
1875 Quotation and maps courtesy of
The early history of Nashua began with the
establishment of the first business on the west bank of the
Cedar River and the building of a log cabin by John Hall in
1854. A few other families moved in and by 1856, Andrew Sample
owned the land on which the town was platted and Enoch
Woodbridge became part owner.
Woodbridge and Sample
instrumental in laying out the town. The town was first called
Bridgeport, then changed to Woodbridge. In 1857 the name was
changed to Nashua because of the discovery that there was
another town in Iowa already named Woodbridge.
Two prominent families, Edward P. and Charles Greeley had come
from Nashua, New Hampshire and were instrumental in naming this
town after their original home. The streets of Woodbridge,
Sample and Greeley in Nashua are named after these prominent
In 1857 a hotel
was built by J.D. Hall, called The Montgomery House. By 1858 the
early businesses were a grocery store by Smiley Sample, general
merchandise stores by E.P. Greeley, Veter & Ripe, Trott & Green,
George T. Butterfield, Enoch Woodbridge, Elihu Hall, George
Fountain and James A. Webster. The first grist mill was erected
by Andrew Sample. A steam saw mill was built in 1858 by Charles
Greeley and Edward P. Greeley, it operated only a few years.
The first newspaper was published May 22, 1867
and reported that at that time Nashua had good water power from
a dam across the river, excellent stands of timber, a brick
yard, and a woolen factory was being organized. In 1867 mail
came from the north daily and tri-weekly from West Union.
In 1867 the population of Nashua was 600 with 160
students in school. In 1869 the first school building was
erected with bricks from the local brickyard and in 1885 the
first class graduated from the Nashua High School
It was largely
through the influence of the Greeleys that the railroad came to
Nashua. In 1868 the Cedar Valley and Minnesota Branch of the
Illinois Central Railroad built a line through Nashua, giving
the town an important place on the railroad map and is still in
use today. In 1868 a depot was also built for the railroad.
A wooden bridge was constructed across the river.
The city was
incorporated in 1869 with the first mayor being, T. S. Bradford.
In 1875 the first bank was established. By 1898 a creamery,
pickle factory and two cemeteries had been added to the town’s
resources. A brick power house was built in 1912. In 1902 the
Nashua Public Library was founded by the citizens of Nashua. In
1905 a new building was erected for $6000.00 from a grant
received from Andrew Carnegie.
is a stately brick building built up on a hill with two stories
and a basement. It is decorated inside with beautiful wood. It
was dedicated on January 10, 1906. In 1914, Librarian Fanny V.
Eastman reported there were 3,253 volumes in the library. In
1986 a new addition was added on at ground level and the
original library closed, but can still be toured.
churches were, The Congregational organized in 1866 and the
building erected in 1870. Methodist Episcopal incorporated and
built in 1869 and St Michael’s Catholic incorporated and built
in 1873. The historic Little Brown Church in the Vale is located
two miles outside of town and was organized on November 4, 1855
and built and dedicated by December 29, 1864.