In 1849, an experienced woodsmen by the name of Abiathar Richardson settled in northeast Iowa. He built himself a small log cabin when he arrived and then in 1851 constructed the first frame house in Buffalo township fashioning every joint, every beam and splitting all the shingles out of local oak and walnut timber. He painted his home a vibrant shade of red, described perfectly in early accounts as the "romantic color."
The village that grew up around Richardson's house was called by three different names: Mudville, Buffalo Grove, and Buchanan. Richardson laid out and platted the settlement himself in 1857. His house was used as the polling place or the township's first election and was a stage coach in from 1857 to 1886. Richardson was also the community's first postmaster and ran the post office out of his home for twenty-eight years.
Mudville was a bustling town, with a grocery and dry goods store, wagon shop, blacksmith, steam-powered mill, broom factory, school, church and town hall. But in 1886 the Chicago Great Western Railway built tracks one and a half miles north and buildings were moved to the new town of Aurora.
John Jakway and his family acquired the Richardson's home in 1894 and John's son Glenn Jakway lived there until 1967. Now, the area is owned by the Buchanan County Conservation Board and the house is on the National Register of Historic Places. Today the Richardson-Jakway house is all that remains of Mudville. It is decorated with furnishings from 1850-1890 and tells many stories of pioneer life. See the swooping calligraphy in the large warrant register, imagine picking up your mail in the tiny post office room and walk the span of the large room upstairs which was used for town meetings and dances. Several of the home's hand-hewn beams are exposed to show the original workmanship and an area of the interior wall is dissected to reveal the accordian lath.
You can visit the park anytime and walk the Historic Loop Trail around the house. Detailed kiosks describe different aspects of the home's history. Period crops, flowerbeds and a kitchen garden with heirloom varieties are maintained on site by Mary Davis, master gardener and president of the Richardson-Jakway Foundation. Tours of the home's interior are by appointment only.