Murder and Mayhem in Scott County 


Scott County, Iowa is one of the oldest counties in Iowa. It is where the Black Hawk Treaty was signed and where the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River was built. But Scott County has also been witness to many shameful deeds.

Travel down Utica Ridge Road, where young Grace Reed paid the ultimate price for spurning the affections of a local farmer. Enter the bedroom of Margaretha Nehlsen, who

poisoned her children with chocolate candies. Hear the tale of Harry Hamilton, a former policeman turned career criminal who played a key part in perhaps the most infamous bank robbery in Scott County history.

Come and explore these stories and more with author John Brassard Jr. as he guides you through the darker side of Scott County history.

Available from Amazon in both paperback and on Kindle, Arcadia Publishing and The History Press, Barnes and Noble, and Book A Million 


Praise for ‘Murder and Mayhem in Scott County, Iowa’

“Coming from a multi-generation Scott County family – this is a very interesting book with historic stories that I had not seen before. The author paints vivid images of familiar locations in relating these stories.” – Big Country

“This author is a very good storyteller. I enjoyed the book very much. It combined my interest in genealogy, (specifically Scott County, Iowa) and true crime. Great research. – Pamela A Williams

“Have enjoyed reading these old stories.” – Amazon Customer 

“Do you love history? I love history. I studied History Education at UNI. So, when I found this local author I jumped on the chance to get this book. It is a wonderful read. Want to gaze into the past? The author weaves the stories of eastern Iowa history with current photographs of the Quad Cities. This unique technique imposes images of the past on present day. Do you travel Interstate 80? You wouldn’t believe the havoc just down the rad from where you cross the Mississippi River.” – Amanda Hook

“Eye Popping Title! I bought two copies for our library, and six to give away as gifts. Friends said they couldn’t put it down!” – Ellen M. 

“Very interesting book. Good reading, lots of stuff happen around here during the day. Very good book to read.” – Frank J. 


Scott County Cemeteries


Settlement of Scott County, Iowa, began in the early 1830’s. Towns began to spring up all along the shores of the Mississippi River, and then gradually spread west toward the interior of what would become the state of Iowa. Businessman, politicians, lawyers, doctors, and pioneers all left their imprint upon that land, and then were buried beneath it, taking their stories with them. In their book, Scott County Cemeteries, John Brassard Jr. and his father, amateur historian John Brassard Sr., bring those stories back into the light, sharing that rich history with their readers.


Praise for Scott County Cemeteries


This was an interesting book and if anyone is interested in Scott County, Iowa history and the people that lived there they will like it.” – Susan Kay Rekkas

Totally interesting book, being from the area, was especially fascinating…hope more people take time to visit and research these areas.” – Karen Hill

Scott County Cemeteries is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books a Million.




Brassard’s Attic


John writes a column for the DeWitt Observer called “Brassard’s Attic.” It covers various aspects of Clinton County, Iowa history. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad, but always entertaining, “Brassard’s Attic” seeks to educate and inform the public about the rich history present in Clinton County.


Excerpt from “Brassard’s Attic”


     “John M. Gates was born and raised in New England. He started his working life as a carpenter. Gates moved to other things, even running a museum for a few years. Eventually, he moved to Illinois and bought a mill. Unfortunately, that mill burnt down. So, in 1855, at the age of thirty-seven, he made his way west into Iowa and settled in DeWitt. And for sure, he saw and knew the hotel on the main avenue.”

-From “Civil War vet bought hotel – with a lookout (maybe)” Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In October 2017, John wrote a feature five-part piece for a DeWitt Observer special edition issue detailing some of the broader strokes of DeWitt, Iowa’s rich history.

The North Scott Press


The North Scott Press is the leading newspaper serving rural Scott County, Iowa. Providing the area with information about everything from sports to local politics, John has been providing them with quality historical columns for over a year. In 2017, they were kind enough to name John as one of their contributing writers.

  • “95 years ago: Vigilante Al Klindt was the hero of the infamous Long Grovebank robbery.” North Scott Press, Wednesday, December 7, 2016
  • “Local History: A shortage was discovered at the bank in McCausland in 1923” North Scott Press, December 28, 2016
  • Guest Column: Mississippi Valley Fair had its roots in rural Scott County.” North Scott Press, February 8, 2017
  • Guest Column: Pioneer pastor paved path for Prsbyterian parishes.” North Scott Press, June 7, 2017
  • Guest Column: Olde St. Ann’s: Testament to hard work of pioneer settlers.” North Scott Press, August 2, 2017
  • Guest Column: Long Grove legend’s heart and giving spirit were even bigger than his waistline.” North Scott Press, August 23, 2017
  • Guest Column: Cold case file: The murder of Elizabeth Brownlie.” North Scott Press, November 1, 2017
  • Guest Column: Recall 1979. You think it was cold here now?” North Scott Press, January 10, 2018
  • Guest Column: Order you book now: ‘Murder and Mayhem in Scott County, Iowa.’” North Scott Press, January 24, 2018
  • Guest Column: Ferry captain Warner Lewis Clark performed a grisly surgery, too.” North Scott Press, March 28, 2018

Other Publications


  • Who was Rev. P.J. Maher?” The Catholic Messenger, September 22, 2016
  • In 1906, tragedy strikes near Summit Church” Quad City Times, October 31, 201
  • “Should the Old Bridge Go?” Along the Lincoln Highway: The Newsletter of the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association, Volume 22, Number 1. Spring 2017.
  • “Vigilante Justice Served: Citizens of Long Grove gunned down bank robbers in 1921.” Iowa History Journal, May/June 2017.
  • A Day That Began With Death: The Hoskins Family Murders of 1919.” The Line-Up, February 27, 2018.


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