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Homer Howard Field.

History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) online

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until Mr. Maynard's death, February 26, 1876.

After the death of Mr. Maynard. Mr. Chapman took the editorial chair.
He soon became recognized a* one of the strong editorial writers of the state.

The following year Thos. 1'. Treynor, then postmaster, and John C.
Schermerhorn purchased the interest of Messrs. Gray and Mill, ami the
office was moved into the old two-story brick on the south side of Broadway
that was in an early day the banking house of Green, Ware A" Benton. The
next move was into the building between Main and Pearl streets, now occu-
pied and owned by the Metcalf Company. Ahoul this time the Nonpareil
Printing Company was incorporated, with Thos. P. Treynor. J. W. Chap-
man and Spencer Smith as stockholder.-, and the following year bought the
three-story brick at the corner of Broadway and Scotl street, and the Non-
pareil found itself back to its first home, though much enlarged and improved.
While here several changes in the ownership occurred. Mr. Treynor sold to
Spencer Smith, Mr. Chapman sold a part of his stock to C. Lefferts, and the
remainder to J. J. Steadman and Spencer Smith, who became president and
editor-in-chief.

Mr. Steadman and Mr. Lefferts sold to the Snyders, of Red Oak, and
Mr. Smith to General E. F. Test.

In the latter part of 1894 a company was organized under the name of
the New Nonpareil Company, which took over the entire plant, including the
Daily and Weekly Nonpareil and the building it occupied.

Ernest E. Hart became president, .T. II. Purcell, secretary and business
manager, and Victor E. Bender assumed editorial charge of the papers. Mr.



HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY 179

Purcell remained with the paper but a few months, and was succeeded as
manager by Mr. Bender, a position he has ever since held. In 1900 removal
was made to the present quarters in the Odd Fellows' building.

For five years from 1897 to 1902 Howard Tillon was editor.

During this year Mr. Bender purchased the interest of E. E. Hart, and
is the present president of the company.

Other papers of the county arc noticed in the part, of this history relat-
ing to the cities and towns where they are published.

BELKNAP TOWNSHIP.

This township is composed of twenty-four sections and named in honor
of W. W. Belknap, an Iowa soldier, who became secretary of war during
Administration of President Grant. What it lacks in size it makes up in
fertility.

It was set off for organization by an order of the county board of super-
visors September 6, 1872, on the petition of W. Henry Mann, D. W. Hays,
Wm. Lyman, and twenty other citizens of Center township, out of which
the new township was carved.

As near as can be ascertained the first settler was Orin Belknap, who
came from Ohio in 1854, and settled on section 10, township 75, range 40,
•the same tract of land which he sold to Judge W. C. James.

G. A. Slocum was another early settler. He was born at Pompey,
Onondaga county, New York, on the 10th day of May. 1811, and became one of
the early settlers in Huron county. Ohio. Of a roving disposition, he re-
turned to New York, but in 1844 removed to Walworth county, Wisconsin.
In 1847 went to Marquette and from there emigrated to this county, settling
in what is now Belknap township, coming with an ox team.

His first residence was constructed by himself and was peculiar, being
partly under ground, partly log and partly sod, but was very comfortable,
being warm in winter and cool in summer.

The first white child born was Samuel George Slocum. son of G. A.
Slocum, November 7, 1854.

The first marriage was that of Sylvadoy Slocum and Maxilla Belknap.

The first postoffice in the township was established in 1854. George
Reed was appointed postmaster and while he held that position he was killed
by a kick from a horse, and was succeeded by Wm. Lyman, father of the
boy that tramped into the Bluffs when the war commenced, enlisted in Com-
pany B, Fourth Iowa (Dodge's) regiment, was promoted to adjutant of the
Twenty-ninth, became major, and after the war studied law with Clinton and
Sapp, became judge of circuit court and was elected to congress in 1884.

The first death was that of Michael Beard, August 29, 1854. The first
postoffice was located about a mile east of Oakland in Mr. Reed's dwelling,
and in 1863 was transferred to the residence of Wm. Lyman, a short dis-
tance from the west side of the river.

M. T. Palmer started a store about two miles north of Oakland at the
north end of the grove in 1860. He also practiced medicine. Although



180 HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY

not a regularly educated physician, he practiced for a time, until Dr. Tobey,
the first regular practitioner, arrived, the first one who settled in the town-
ship, being in 1856. His first stoi-e was in a building that had been used
as a schoolhouse. The first mail to these offices was carried by Jas. A. Sin-
clair on horseback, the route being from Macedonia to Newtown.

The first school taught in the township was by Wm. Lyman, Sr., and
was supported by voluntary contribution by the little community.

J. L. Fetter was the first school director, and let the contract for the
first schoolhouse for .$690. The house was finished in 1861, and when com-
pleted payment was made, all in silver, the contractor being Cyrus True, of
Newtown.

The first house in Big Grove, n<>\\ Oakland, was built in 1856 by Wm.
Walker for a store room.

The first bridge across the Botna was begun in December, 1855, and
finished in March, 1856. The abutments were timber cribs filled with earth. It
was one hundred and twenty feet long, roadway fourteen feet wide, and
consisted of three spans. Previous to this the settlors had to go to Macedonia,
the river not being fordable here.

No money was paid for building of this bridge. G. A. Slocum pro-
cured the settlers to sign a contracl to furnish material or labor, and in this
way it was built, G. A. Slocum, Samuel Dey and Orin Belknap, who were
mechanics, doing mos1 of the work.

One of the notable events of early days was the murder of Edward M.
Benlon by -lame- Vest in October, 1868. Benton was in the employ of
the Western Stage Company, who had a station at Big Grove. Vest was a
farm hand in the employ of W. M. West. The scene of the murder was a
little log cabin kept by three women of bad repute, and Vest boarded with
them. Benton called in the night and, being refused admittance, broke
down the door and made an attempt to get in, when Vest grabbed a hatchet
and struck Benton twice on the head with the blade and cut him so badly
that he died before morning. Vesl made his escape and no effort was made
to capture him, nor wa> any inquest held.

In I860 a young man named Albert Griffith was plowing in a field of
J. L. Fetter's with a yoke of oxen when one of them became entangled and
in trying to extricate him. lie was kicked to death. He was buried in Big
Grove cemetery in section 10. Other- buried then wire Peter S. Johns, one
of the soldiers drafted from .lame- township; Wm. Elliott, a soldier of the
civil war, who died while undergoing the amputation of a wounded leg;
an unknown emigrant of L857, who was drowned while bathing in the
Botna river: and the eldesl son of J. R. Cook. who. in trying to reach the
upper Botna bridge when the river was out of it- hank-, missed the bridge
and was drowned March 28, 1875.

Goods were sold on the present site of Oakland before the town was laid
out, Mr. Slocum had a store room and stock of groceries, when Jacob Cohn
came from Council Bluffs to start a general store at Big Grove, and the
groceries in stock were transferred from Slocum to Cohn. W. II. Freeman
put up a new building in the Grove and Cohn moved to that. He soon be-



HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY 181

came a bankrupt. D. B. Freeman took charge of the assets and he and W.
H. Freeman opened up in the same place on their own account.

J. B. Matlack afterwards acquired W. H. Freeman's interest and again
that of D. B. Freeman, after which D. B. Freeman became sole owner by
purchase from Matlack. Through successive changes rapidly made the busi-
ness finally came into the hands of Potter and DeGratf.

The building of a branch railroad of the Rock Island Railroad down
the Botna valley from Avoca changed the character of the hamlet of Big
Grove, standing in the primeval forest, to an important town. The town
of Oakland was laid out by Thomas Tostevin and Samuel Denton, surveyors.
The first residence on the new site was erected by Dr. S. Stewart and the
first store building by J. C. Norton, J. M. Estes and E. H. Wineland in the
upper part of town.

The plat of the lower part of the town was made September 13, 1880,
on the lands of W. II. Freeman, David Freeman, John Bates, Ambrose
Bates and Thomas Tostevin. The next spring, 1881, Thomas Tostevin
platted a portion of the town in the upper part on the lands of John T.
Baldwin.

The town was incorporated under the laws of Eowa by the circuit court
of Pottawattamie county on the first of May, 1882. An election having
been held on the 26th of April at which W. H. Freeman was chosen mayor;
S. S. Rust, J. L. Caldwell, John McDonald, Austin Goff, L. F. Potter and
Charles Bryant, councilmen; E. G. Barley, recorder; B. F. Freeman, treas-
urer; D. H. Morrison, marshal, and W. W. Begler, city attorney. A news-
paper, the Acorn, was started by John C. McMannima and John G. Julian
May 1, 1881. The first issue was dated May •">. the same year. In August
following A. M. Lewis became editor and proprietor, and on the 1st of March,
1882, A. M. Lewis sold to A. T. Cox. It has been independent in politics,
working for the interest of the town and surrounding country, and its efforts
are appreciated by the business public.

Oakland Lodge No. 442 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was
established at Oakland on the 13th of January, 18S2. with the following
officers: T. C. Alexander, N. G. ; N. Young, V. G. ; A. M. Lewis, secretary;
W. D. Johnson, treasurer.

The Big Grove Grange of Patrons of Husbandry was instituted by General
William Duane Wilson, editor of the Iowa Homestead, in the spring of 1871.
The charter membership was twenty, and increased to sixty, while the grange
continued to act as such.

For the establishment of a Masonic lodge the first meeting for organiza-
tion was held at Big Grove in March, 1874, and the lodge instituted as Ark-
Lodge No. 335, under dispensation from the grand lodge, upon the recom-
mendation of Mt. Nebo Lodge of Avoca.

J. C. Chapman was grand master at that date. The dispensation is
dated 10th of June, 1874, A. L. 5874, the year of the grand lodge 32, and
is signed by J. C. Chapman as grand master and T. S. Parvin as grand
secretary, and evidenced by the seal of the Grand Lodge of Iowa.

The dispensation constituted Fletcher Dunham master of the lodge; W.



182 HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY

H. Freeman, senior warden; H. II. Gillette, junior warden. With these
the lodge was duly constituted, and at the ensuing meeting of the grand lodge
the subordinate lodge was properly and regularly clothed with power to work
under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Iowa.

The Big Grove Missionary Baptist Church of Jesus Christ was organized
August 11, 1881, with the following as members: Jacob Rust, Eda E. Rust,
Susan Huff, Margaret J. Reed, Eda McGee, M. T. Palmer and Caroline Palmer,
seven persons in all. The society was organized under the counsel of the
Rev. E. W. Hall, pastor of the Baptist church at Lewis, in Cass county,
and James W. Brown, clerk of the church at Lewis. The first meeting
was held in the dwelling which now constitutes the residence of John Bird,
the building then being used for a sehoolhouse. On the second Sunday in
November, 1861, George L. Reed ami Almas Huff were received as member-,
and in December Mr. Reed was baptized, and the sacrament of the Lord's
supper administered for the first time.

A preliminary meeting was held at Big Grove September 16, 1881, for
the purpose of organizing a Congregational church society.

The confession of faith as laid down in the authorized manual was
accepted, articles of faith and a constitution were drafted by a committee
composed of Messrs. Norton. Snyder, Shepard and DeGraff. The following
persons became . member- by signing the same: J. C. Norton, Susie Norton,
Sarah Lyman, H. C. Snyder, C. R. Johnson, Lottie Shepard. W. L. Nokes,
H. B. Shepard M. J. DeGraff, L 11. Shepard and Frank Shepard.

Rev. John Todd, of Tabor, preached to the congregation in the store
room of J. B. Estes on the 19th of October, 1880. The first officers were
H. C. Snyder, clerk; Mrs. Sarah Lyman, treasurer; A. Johnson, L. B.
Shepard and J. C. Norton, trustees, and .1. ( '. Norton, deacon.

Work was begun on a new church in September, 1881, and was so fat
completed as to be suitable for use in tin- winter of 1881. The cost was
$1,500, and the same was furnished and dedicated.

The peculiar situation of Oakland is favorable for building up a large
local business, being far enough from larger (owns to prevent local trade
from being drawn away to them, and being surrounded by as fine an agricul-
tural country as the world can show, the town has made steady progress,
and an old timer, on going there in this year of 1907 would look in vain
for the old land marks of the days when the western stage crossed the
Botna and wallowed through the mud bottom and wound around the south
end of the grove and up the hill to Reed's station, who also kept the post-
office.

On stepping from the cars now he finds himself on a well graded street
with cement walks and lined with up-to-date business houses, most of which
are of brick.

Among these are the three department stores that would be a credit to
any town of ten thousand inhabitants, one exclusive grocery store, one boot
and shoe store, two drug stores, two furniture stores, two millinery stores, one
hotel, two restaurants, two meat markets, three barber shops, three coal
yards, two cement block factories. There are two lumber yards carrying



HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY 183

heavy stocks, two elevators with one of which is connected a feed mill, three
livery stables, three agricultural implement houses. Among the trades are
three blacksmith shops, one wagon shop, one tailor shop, three harness shops.

In addition to the stores above named are two exclusive dry goods stores,
two billiard halls. The city has two banks. The religious element is repre-
sented by one Methodist, one Congregational and one Christian church.
In schools the city is constituted an independent district and is provided
with a graded school in charge of a superintendent and ten teachers. Four
doctors look after the health of city and surrounding country, while but
one attorney is required for to keep legal matters straight. This may be
owing to the fact that Oakland has no saloon. It has a very neat little opera
house, and a jail for rent. The city has its own waterworks, the supply
being supplied from wells and the pressure obtained from a standpipe.

In addition to other improvements it has miles of cement walks.

The fraternal organizations are represented by one Masonic lodge, one
of I. 0. 0. F., one of the K. of P., one of Woodmen of the World, and
one of Maccabees.

Mayor, L. S. White. Population one thousand two hundred. Persons
of school age in city according to the state census of 1905, three hundred and
six; township outside of city, one hundred and ninety-two; total, four
hundred and ninety-eight, of which two hundred and thirty-nine were males
and two hundred and sixty-four females. Directors: President, Frank
Zentmire; secretary, W. R. Frantz; treasurer, E. P. Denton.

Compensation, first-grade teachers, $40; second-grade, $35.

Township trustees: R. H. Carse, Clark Fickel and E. P. Denton.
Township clerk, F. A. Nash. Justices of the peace, W. C. Davis and W. B.
Butler. Constables, J. E. Forsythe and W. D. Ball. Assessor, M. H. Parks.

BOOMER TOWNSHIP.

The order to constitute Boomer was made June 8, 1858. It formerly
was a part of Rockford. It is a full congressional township, being bounded
on the north by Harrison county, east by Neola, south by Hazel Dell, and
west by Rockford townships.

The first election under the new organization was held on the 12th of
October, 1869, at the house of Samuel Bateman. and township officers were
chosen.' There were nineteen votes cast, of which eighteen were democratic
and one republican. This one was that of Z. Remmington, referred to in
part of history of Neola.

The first township officers chosen were Samuel Diggle, Wm. Fouts and
Joseph Mohat, as trustees; Henry Gittings, clerk, and Samuel Bateman, Sr.,
and Joseph Bardsley, justices of the peace. There is no record of constables
having been elected.

The first settler was Lee Bybee, a Mormon, who, with a number of fam-
ilies, established a camp and built cabins as was their custom during their
temporary sojourn while enroute from Nauvoo to Salt Lake. In two or three



184 HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY

years these moved on and their camping ground was later included in the
farms of L. S. Axtell and George Drake.

The names of the first births and deaths are not known, but the first
wedding was a double one, the parties in one being William McKeown and
Miss Eliza Jane Hall, and in the other, Ezekiel Cheeny and Miss Lucy
Hardy. This was in 1848. The latter couple subsequently went on to Utah
and were lost sight of.

The first school opened was in Bybee's camp in the winter of 1847-8.
J. L. Deforest was the teacher, who afterward died in Harrison county.

The persons most active in securing the organization were Judge Hall
and I. M. Sigler. The latter being the strongest kind of a democratic and
something of a wag proposed the name of Bloomer as a joke on D. C.
Bloomer, who was equally as strong a republican. But Judge Sherman
spoiled the fun by leaving out the "1," making it Boomer, which was adopted.

The first highway laid out was what is known as the Harris Grove and
Council Bluffs road, laid out by Edward Latham, as commissioner, in 1853,
and the first bridge a wooden one across tin- North Pigeon near William
McKeown's. Nearly all the first settlers were English and accustomed to
reaping with the sickle. Ike Sigler had the only grain cradle, which was
as much a wonder to them as the McCormick reaper to us a halt' century
ago.

The first fanning mill was owned by Robert Kent and lie charged his
neighbors toll for using it. I. M. Sigler was tor many years a prominent
citizen. He died about 1888 in Nebraska from the effects of a fall, and his
remains were brought home for interment. He was a soldier of the Mexican
war and a native of Indiana.

Mr. L. S. Axtell has always been a. highly useful eiitzen, was a ~ehool
teacher in Council Bluffs in the early days, where he married a Miss Wade;
has represented Pottawattamie county in the legislature and was for several
years county superintendent of schools.

Boomer has been at a disadvantage compared with her neighbors in
having neither a railroad nor town. It has as good soil, however, as the sun
shines upon, well adapted to grain or stock raising. It also has groves of
native timber that have been a wonderful help to the settlers.

The township officers at ilii- writing i L907) are C. M. Axtell, J H. Page
and G. H. Darrington. trustees; and Nels Christianson, clerk; J. M. Axtell
and Geo. H. Darrington. justices of the peace: C. L. Thomas, assessor; and
G. F. Page and Wm. Wright, constables.

The school board consisted of Joseph Mackland, president; secretary,
Geo. H. Darrington: treasurer, Lewis Peters. Pay of teachers; firs! grade.
*)•»: second, .$35 per month, respectively.

According to state census of 1905 there were four hundred of school age
in the township, of which two hundred and twenty were males and one
hundred and eighty were females.



HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY 185

CRESCENT TOWNSHIP.

From February 12, 1853, Crescent township formed a part of Rockford.
At the latter date u petition, signed by A. J. Williams and thirty-seven other
citizens of the territory comprising Crescent township, asking that the terri-
tory be set off is a new township, and it was granted. This territory consisted
of congressional township 76, range 42, and township 76, range 43, also a
fractional part of township 76, range 44. This included its present territory
as well as that of Hazel Dell and part of Xorwalk. It was also ordered that
an election for township officers be held at Crescent City in April, 1857.

The first settlers were Mormon- that came with the great exodus that
halted at Council Bluffs and overflowed into the adjacent territory.

Some of these renounced allegiance to Brigham Young though still
adhering to the faith as expounded by Joseph Smith. These remained here
and have proved to be some of our best citizens.

Among the number were David Wilding, an Englishman, William
Strong, Robert Kirkwood, Scotch. II. A. Terry, S. M. Hough and Joseph
McCoid were natives of New York.

No citizen is better known that II. A. Terry. For years he has devoted
his time to demonstrating that fruit of all kinds adapted to this parallel of
latitude could be profitably grown here, and he has succeeded in proving it.
and in his old age is reaping the benefit of his earlier labor.-. He was among
the first to organize the first agricultural society of which L. M. Kline was
president; D. S. Jackson, vice-president; J. E. Johnson, treasurer; and H. A.
Terry, secretary. This was in 1856. For many years his seed business ex-
tended from St. Joseph, Mo., to Fort Pierre. Dakota.

Mr. Kirkwood was a plain farmer and desired no office, but the people
insisted on his representing them on the county board of supervisor-, to
which they elected him a number of terms, and. further, his party wished to
send him to the legislature, but he declined the honor.

The first highway opened was the road from Crescent City to Council
Bluffs through the valley of the Little Pigeon, and in the crossing of that
stream the first bridge was built.

The first schools were probably kept by the Mormons and taught at
some of the residences.

In September. 1855, Reuben Barton. David Dunkle. Win. McMullen,
Henry McMullen and Solomon McMullen met and organized the school town-
ship of Little Pigeon, district No. 7.

L. J. Goddard was elected president of the board, David Dunkle, secre-
tary, and Reuben Barton, treasurer. L. J. Goddard was employed by the
other members to teach at $30 per month until a schoolhouse could be built.

A log schoolhouse was soon built and fitted up near the line between
Crescent and Hazel Dell townships. The floor was of puncheons, smoothed
by an adz, with earth roof. The seats were slabs with flat side up, with
holes bored and pins put in for legs.

These are the germs from which the great universities, with their be-



186 HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY

quests of millions, have grown, and the foundation upon which the greatest
nation of earth was laid.

. The next summer Miss Sophronia E. Whitcomb, now the venerable wife
of Rev. Henry DeLong, was the teacher, and the house was crowded. For
several years this was the only scbool within a radius of seven miles.

The second building was erected on Pigeon creek, near the site of the
Parish mill. From this time on the interest increased with that of the popu-
lation until before the division by detaching Hazel Dell, Crescent contained
eleven subdistricts, all with comfortable houses.

In the division Crescent retained five of the houses, to which two had
been added previous to 1880. At this date ten teachers were employed, four
male and six female.

The first postoffice was at Ellisdale farm, two miles south of what was
destined to be Crescent City. Tins was in April, '56, and the first post-
master was L. J. Goddard. On Crescent City coming into being it was
moved to that place. It will be remembered that Crescent City is older than
the township, it having been organized in the spring of 1856.

The original proprietors were Joseph E. Johnson, H. A. Terry, S. M.
Hough, Samuel Eggleston, L. 0. Littlefield, L. J. Goddard, 0. H. Dutrow,
D. S. Jackson and R. \Y. Steele. Joseph E. Johnson erected the first business
house in 1856, and Mr. Johnson opened a general store the same year in
that building. Samuel Eggleston soon followed with another. The third
was built by a Mr. Piper, who built a large one but a short distance from
the other two. Business not requiring so large a building, it was converted
into a town hall. In 1857 few town- away from railroads presented greater



Online LibraryHomer Howard FieldHistory of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 59)