From the past; comes our future...

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Preserving the past of Marshall County for future generations since 1908


The second artifact for the virtual museum is a moustache cup and saucer with an image of Marshall County’s courthouse on them. These items were owned by William Benton Williams, and later donated to the Historical Society of Marshall County by his granddaughter Elizabeth Roupp.


W. B. Williams was born in New Alexandria, Pennsylvania, on April 27, 1846. Later, his family moved to Spring Hill, Illinois, near Davenport, Iowa, and at the young age of 16, W. B. Williams enlisted in Company B, Ninth Iowa Cavalry during the U.S. Civil War. He served for 3 years and was mustered out in March, 1866. Afterwards, Williams came to Marshall county with his parents preceding him to settle on a farm in the area. 


On March 7, 1872, W. B. Williams married Nancy Elizabeth Ferguson, whose parents were among the early settlers of Marshall County, arriving in 1849. Mrs. Williams was one of the first white children to be born in the county. Soon after their marriage they moved to a farm near Ferguson, but they moved back to Marshalltown in 1898. In the 1890s a $2,580 clock was installed in the courthouse tower. At this time W. B. Williams was a County Supervisor.


Nancy Williams died suddenly at her home in 1920 after being stricken with apoplexy. In 1933, W. B. Williams suffered death from pneumonia, while spending the winter in San Diego, California as he had done the last fourteen years of his life.



The Marshall County Courthouse was designed by Architect John C. Cochrane of Chicago, who also designed the Iowa State capitol. The cornerstone was laid in 1884, and the building was dedicated in 1886. 

The first artifact is a masonry trowel with the square and compasses symbolizing Freemasonry. The text on the back reads 

“Presented to

Past Grand Master

A. C. Abbott

On the occasion of

Laying the corner stone

of the

Marshall County Court House

By the Masonic Fraternity

Nov 25th A.D. 1884

A. B. 5884”


Albert Cutler Abbott was born in 1836, and died in 1903. With Marshalltown being incorporated in July, 1863, A. C. Abbott served as an officer of the city’s government for the years 1865-66, and 1867-68. In 1868, at age 32, Abbot became the treasurer of the first vestry of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Marshalltown, today known as St. Paul’s. Abbott was also the founder of Abbott Hardware and the secretary of the school board in Marshalltown for the years 1866 to 1868. One of the original ward schools was named Abbott school for A. C. Abbott. built in the Fourth Ward in 1868 at 4th Avenue at Linn Street, on the site of the present post office. The building was later remodeled and enlarged to serve the ward for approximately 85 years until it closed in 1953.  A. C. Abbott was also Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, A.F. & A.M. in 1879. As a Past Grand Master, member of Marshall Lodge No. 108, A.F. & A.M. and resident of Marshalltown, Abbott presided at the Masonic cornerstone laying ceremony for the Marshall County Courthouse in 1884. This picture is shown as displayed on the 5th floor of the Masonic Temple in Marshalltown.