Homer Howard Field.

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

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foul murder ever committed in this county, an account of which is given in
another part of this history.

The township officers are as follows: Trustees, J. E. Butler, John Halle
and H. J. Smith; clerk. A. Fellentreter; justices of the peace. J. K. Cooper
and S. A. Green ; constables, J. C. Baker and D. Maltby.


This U the most important township in the county after Kane, from the
fact that it contains the largest town after the city of Council Bluffs. It con-
sists of a full congressional township, a large part of it in the Nishnabotna
valley, one of the most fertile regions of the earth.

The first settler was Washington Lewin. who came in 1851 and -ettled
by a grove of timber about a mile and a half cast of where Avoca now stands,
and although he left it and moved away long ago, the grove retain- his name
until this day. William Henderson was the next settler. Be was a bachelor
and located in the grove in tin- fall of the same year, cleared a small piece in
the timber, lived on this land several years, was married there, and later died
in the township and his widow moved to Shelby county. Joshua Headier and
bis two -on- .Mine in 1852 and settled near Newtown. This was a little village
about two miles from Avoca and consisted of a few dwellings, a store, etc.
Joseph Headlee arrived in the fall of 1852, but afterwards moved to Valley

George Headlee settled on the Sinclair farm oear Avoca, and his death
in 1854 was the first in Knox township.

Ira Baker and Thomas E. Davis arrived and made a settlement in 1853.
Baker discharged the duties of justice of the peace and also township clerk.
Josiah True, for a long time one of the leading cilizen< of the county, and
a candidate for the legislature, settled where Avoca is in November, 1857.
Cyrus True came during the same month. Jonathan Hall settled in Lewin
grove about the same time. He became justice of the peace and also prac-
ticed medicine. He later moved to Woodbury county.

John Krutzingcr bought the Joshua Headlee claim and l.tiilt a saw mill
on the west branch of the Nishnabotna. Tin- was the first improvement
of the kind made in Knox township, and he later added a .-mall grist mill
to it, He was killed in Glenwood, Mills county, in the fall of 1856. but history
does not say under what circumstances.






Joseph Lash came to the township in 1854. Jumped a claim where
Avoca now stands and built a cabin, but soon left, going down the river and
building Lash's mill.

Buck Townsend arrived in the fall of 1855 and laid out the town of
Wooster in section 21 in the winter of 1855-56, and opened a store on the
town site. Samuel Perrin of Council Bluffs was the surveyor who laid off the
town of Wooster for Townsend.

The original proprietors were Townsend, Samuel Knepper and Dr. S. M.
Ballard of Council Bluffs, none of whom are now living.

John Krutzinger laid a town just across the section line, and called
the site Newtown. This became the center of business for Knox township
until the advent of the railroad and consequent building of Avoca, when it
surrendered to the inevitable.

The first marriage in Knox township was between George White and
Miss Mary Townsend, daughter of Buck, who laid out Wooster.

The first birth was a son to Joseph Headlee and wife in 1853. The first
preaching was by Rev. Moses Shinn of the Methodist church, in a log cabin.
The second mill built was on the main branch of the Botna by Seth Hunt
and sons. This was the first regular flouring mill, but the machinery was
afterward taken out and made a part of the Centennial milk of Avoca.

Dr. S. M. Ballard laid out a state road from Iowa City to Council Bluffs
that passed through Newtown, and for many years it was known as the
Ballard state road.

The first wheat sown was in the spring of 1855, and the first threshed by
machine in the harvest of 1856.

In the present age, events move so rapidly that only those that have a
marked effect can be recorded in a work of this kind, and much as we regret
to leave our old friends we are compelled to, even as actors on the stage, hav-
ing played their part, retire to allow the others to perform their parts, and
as Knox township includes Avoca we must give some attention to this city.

It, like thousand* of other young and thriving cities, towns and villages,
owe their origin to railroads. It is not necessary to demonstrate this fact as
all are aware of it.

The original town plat of Avoca was made in 1869, when the railroad
reached that point. It was laid off by a town company consisting of John
P. Cook, his brother Ebenezer Cook, John F. Tracy of the Rock Island Rail-
road Company and B. F. Allen, banker of Des Moines.

The -first building erected was by Julius Priester in the winter of 1868-69.

The old settlers called the town Pacific. In April, '69, it was changed
to Botna. But an excursion party was viewing the site from a hill overlook-
ing the valley, when the name immortalized by Tom Moore was suggested,
and it seemed so poetical and appropriate that it was adopted.

The first general store opened in the place was by Norton and Jones in
July, 1869, and after a while located on the northwest corner of Elm and
High streets. A man by the name of Beedle started a meat market, but was
bought out by Abram Harris, who kept the first regular meat market in the
place. He was from Ottawa, Illinois ; a democrat in 1844 and voted for Polk


and Dallas, afterward the whig and republican and finally became a leading

John Acker, the oldest settler, came in March. '69, before the track-
was finished to Council Bluffs. There was not lumber to be had here to build
him a house, so he had it shipped from Atlantic, and as soon as his building
could be completed, he went into the general hardware trade, his being the
first business house on Elm street.

The first mayor after the town was incorporated was Milo H. Adams.
Capt. C. V. Gardner and Thomas Ledwick opened the first lumber yard. Gard-
ner also commenced the publication of the Avoca Delta in 1870.

Shortly after the railroad commenced running regular trains, Stephen
Caldwell began buying and shipping grain. When the postoffice was estab-
lished Thomas Ledwick was made postmaster. Clarence M. Peterson was the
first child born where the city now is. on March 4, 1869. The first public
school building of the independent school district of Avoca, was a two-story
brick, thirty-six by eighty, in 1876. An addition of the same material and height
was added in 1880. The first meeting of the city council was held March 15,
1875. Milo Adams was mayor: G. Diedrich, recorder and H. 0. Leiffert. J.
M. Jones, C. H. Norton. W. T. Mead and Stephen Jackson, trustees; Orin E.
Beswick, marshal: E. W. Davis, treasurer, and John Cool, street commissioner.

In 1870 a schoolhouse was built by Hymn Bunnell, in which he taught
school until the new brick was completed. And all religious services includ-
ing Sunday school were held there until churches were built for thai purpose.
In 1877 a frame school building, twenty-four by forty feel was erected on the
south side of the railroad, for the use of the people of thai part of the town,
and this was enlarged in L882 by a two-storj addition twenty-four by sixty

In L876 a three-story brick building was put up by Consigny and YVath.
with tin- capacity of "T . < M m > bushels for a steam flouring mill, and later an
addition was made as a warehouse, making the capacity 1.2,000 bushels. This
is known as the Centennial mill, it having been built during centennial year.

The first religious services wen- held in July, L869, when the Rev. Charles
\V. Blodgetl of the Methodisl Episcopal circuit of Hi. , Grove and Harlan,
preached in the temporary depot of the Pock Island mad.

In the same year a Methodisl Episcopal Sunday school was established
with Mr. Fitch as superintendent.

The lov. George Carroll of the Presbyterian church, preached at Avoca
on the 24th of July. L870, and organized a society at thai date.

The first pastor was 1>V\. 1¬ї. M. Hughes, who also had charge of the
church at Atlantic and preached alternate Sundays at the latter place and
Avoca. In 1871 a building committee, consisting of Rev. Mr. Hughes, F.
Waterman, Thomas Ledwick. J. M. Ilalsled and C. V. Gardener, was
appointed. The church begun the same year, finished and dedicated in
July, 1872. The dedicatory -mnini wa> pleached by the Rev. Dr. Thompson
of Ja -town. New York.


The Catholic church of Avoca was organized by the Rev. Father McMen-
oniy of Council Bluffs in 1876. It soon passed into the charge of Father
Edward Gault of Atlantic.

At the organizing of the church there were but six Catholic families in
the town, but by 1882 there were about three hundred persons in Avoca
and surrounding country receiving its ministrations.

The first Congregational church was organized June 12, 1870. This was
the first church organized in the place, with Rev. C. D. Wright the first min-
ister. A church was built in 1874-75 and dedicated May 23, 1875, and a
comfortable parsonage bought in 1880.

A union Sunday school was organized on the south side of the railroad
on the 16th of September, 1877 ; the first superintendent was J. T. Hazen. It
was organized under the auspices of J. S. Love, missionary of the American
Sunday School Union. In 1882 it had a class of ninety members, with J. T.
Nelson as superintendent.

Mount Nebo Masonic lodge was organized June 7, 1871, with P. B.
Hunt as master; Josiah True, senior warden; John Cool, junior warden;
Daniel Hunt, secretary and R. G. Barlow, treasurer.

There was also a Royal Arch chapter and an Eastern Star. The latter
was organized January 29, 1879, under the title of Queen Esther chapter, No.
50, with F. Waterman, W. P.; Mrs. D. Hunt, W. M. and Mrs. A. M. Gardner,

Delta lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized
March 8, 1878. J. M. Jones was the first N. G. ; J. C. Hetzel, V. G. ; M. B.
Nelson, P. S. ; F. M. Hoops, R, S. and H. 0. Seiffert, treasurer.

Avoca lodge of the same order was instituted April 19, 1871, where the
work was conducted in English. Its place of meeting was the same as that
of Delta lodge. A. W. Coffman was the first N. G. ; Steven Jackson, the first
V. G. ; Dr. O. H. P. Shoemaker, the first secretary and J. H. Arnold, the first

The Avoca Delta, a republican weekly, was established by Thomas Led-
wick and C. V. Gardner, the first number appearing January 1, 1870. One
side was printed in Chicago and the other at the office of the Harlan Herald
at Harlan, Iowa.

August 1, 1870, it changed hands, becoming the property of J. C. Adams,
who fitted the office with new material and press. In 1873 the office was
destroyed by fire, but the citizens at once raised $550 and donated it to Mr.
Adams to enable him to resume the publication of his paper.

The paper was also enlarged from a six to a seven column folio, and in
fourteen days from the day of the fire it reappeared.

In January, 1882, it was again enlarged to a seven column quarto. It
continued republican in political matters, but made the interest and welfare
of the town its principal mission.

The Avoca Herald, a democratic weekly, nine column, neatly printed
journal, was established by A. P. Cramer in August, 1880, and like the Delta
it devoted itself to the interests of Avoca with commendable tenacity.

The society of the V. A. S. was organized on the 24th of May, 1880,


with ten charter members. The first were O. B. Nelson, rector; Charles Uhden,
vice rector; Dr. F. K. Dabney, scribe; H. B. Crofts, speculator and Rev. George
D. Wright, questor.

In November, 1880, a German musical society was formed with a mem-
bership of twenty persons and called the Avoca Mannerchor. Mayor Deidrich
was president, Charles Uhden, secretary and H. Hebbelm, treasurer.

A fire department was established, consisting of fifty-four members, called
the Red Jackets and having a good hand engine.

The Avoca brewery was established by Jacob Kampf in 1874, with a
capacity of eight hundred barrels per year. The cost of building and machin-
ery was $20,000.

A creamery was put in operation by a joint stock company in 1882, which
collected milk from a district of fifteen miles in extent.

The Harlan branch of tbe Rock Island mad was built in 1878, and the
Carson branch south was put in operation in 1879.

The Leading merchants up to 1882 carrying general stocks were: B.
Deidrich, O. B. Nelson, Charles Uhden and H. Stevens. Drugs, P. Weifi and
Maxwell and True; agricultral implement dealers, Hart and Co., T. O.
Meriditb and W. II. Van Brunt; Lumber, Ainsworth & Waterman and Seif-
ferl & Weis; hardware, II. C. Norton and harness. Wilson.

In 1870 the Rock Island Railroad Company built a large hotel and dining
hall al their station, which was managed by John Jones, formerly of the
Pacific House in Council Bluffs, until the company adopted the dining car

Biographical .-ketches of all the men and women that have helped to build
ii]) this beautiful young city would make this volume too Large, but we will
endeavor to continue to record the nio-t prominent names and events as they
have transpired.

When a city grow- up within a township it naturally concentrates all
the business within itself, and as Avoca has outgrown Knox township it will
require more extended notice than the balance.

If some Rip Van Winkle should come along that used to travel the old
Ballard road, he would be surprised to sec a full fledged city of two thousand
inhabitants organized as follows: Mayor, John Fletcher; city attorney, A. L.
Preston; clerk. Nels C. Nelson; aldermen, Charles 1>. Schmidt. Albert Meitzen,
Charles Eckhart. Wm. Neumann. John II. Jenks and John Marxen. The
city marshal and his deputy constitute the only police force, the former serv-
ing on day and the latter on night duty.

On looking around he would find two banks, two newspaper offices, seven
churches of the following denominations: Methodist, Congregationalist, Eng-
lish, also one German of same denomination, one Presbyterian, German
Lutheran, Catholic and United Brethren.

The fraternal organizations are represented by one Masonic lodge, one
Odd Fellows, one Rebecca lodge and encampment, one of Knights of Pythias,
one of Modern Woodmen, one of Woodmen of the "World, one of the Mac-
cabees, Society of Danish Brotherhood, U. S. Grant post of G. A. R. There
are two general stores, one department -tore, two hardware and three drug


stores, one of clothing and shoes exclusively, one exclusive grocery store, two
bakeries and restaurants, four hotels, two livery stables, one foundry and
machine shop, one planing mill, one canning works, two blacksmith shops,
Centennial mill and elevator, one elevator and implement house, Fred Tankey,
manager, and one implement house exclusively, C. H. Norton, manager.

The city has its waterworks supplied from wells with standpipe pressure,
electric light plant, public library, courthouse and jail. There are also two
German singing societies, public graded school with superintendent and six
teachers. There is also an independent fire company, two lumber yards carry-
ing heavy stock, three barber shops, four doctors, three lawyers and live saloons.
It also had a brass band of twenty-one pieces. In t lie city, according to cen-
sus of 1905, there were of school age, five hundred and forty-seven, of which
two hundred and sixty were males and two hundred and eighty-seven females.
In Knox township outside of city there were two hundred and forty-two, being
one hundred and twenty-one of each sex. The board consists of H. P. Lassen,
president; H. V. Rock, secretary and Martin Plahn, treasurer. Compensation
of teachers, $40 and $35 for first and second grade teachers respectively.

The township officers are as follows: trustees, Henry Weis, Hugh Pritch-
ard and James Wilson; clerk, J. B. Crimson ; justice of the peace, Theodore
Rohlfs; constables, Jas. Trobaugh and Rickliff Plahn; assessor, 1.. <'. Ward.

We take pleasure in making special mention of Mr. .1. B. 1 Slake, per-
sonally known to the author for a half century, lie was a pioneer merchant
in the town of Crescent at its birth. In early life he was married to a Miss
Bennet, one of Pottawattamie's most lively daughters, and later came to Coun-
cil Bluffs, where he was universally respected. That his declining years may
be as peaceful as his earlier were honorable is the wish of the author.


The earliest history of Lewis township is identical with that of Kane,
the latter for many years having included the former and also Garner town-

In 1875 Kane was subdivided, bringing the three to their present shape.
The present boundary is north by city of Council Bluffs and Garner town-
ship, east by Keg Creek township, south by Mills county and west by the
Missouri river. It is the largest township in the county. The east half is
high rolling prairie, and breaking into steep bluffs from two hundred to
two hundred and fifty feet high, where they meet the Missouri bottom, and
flat from there until it meets that stream.

There is no richer land on earth. Even those steep bluffs are rich soil
and will endure drought as well as the bottom lands, and they are well adapted
to raising fruit and especially grapes.

Some thirty years ago the river took a notion to make a change in its
course, and proceeded to remove two or three farms to help fill the Gulf of
Mexico, and in doing so unwittingly created a beautiful lake four miles south
of Councill Bluffs. This did not receive much notice for quite a number of
years, when it was discovered that on the south side there was a sandy beach


that for bathing purposes could not be excelled short of the sea shore. Mr.
E. H. Odel was one, if not the first to make this discovery, and steps were
immediately taken to utilize it. Home-made boats were first constructed and
temporary bath houses sprung up like mushrooms.

At first people flocked down in buggies, buses, carryalls and horseback.
The next season a large pavilion was built on the north side and "a track
built and dummy trains put on, trees set out and steam launches put on the
lake to take passengers to and from the beach. Each season the business
increased until at this writing it has become one of the most popular pleasure
resorts away from the sea coasts. Elegant electric cars run every five minutes,
a town has been built, boat, base ball and golf clubs formed, and, in fact, it
has become a baby Coney Island, and on a pleasant Sunday ten thousand is
no unusual attendance.

This township is named in honor of three Lewis brothers that settled here
in an early day.

The St. Joseph Railroad passes through this township going south, and
the Wabash going southeast, leaving it on section 25, and passing the south-
western corner of Keg Creek township, enters Mills county. Although it i-
generally thought Lewis has but two railroad?, it has in fact five, as the Rock
Island, Milwaukee and Great Western in making the curve to enter the city
pass through a few rods of it, but only enough to swear by.

The township officers are: F. G. Knowles, F. W. Reck and II. C. Jen-
kins, trustees; Peter Rief and Wm. Steele, justices of the peace; H. A. Eller-
beck, assessor; G. C. Plumer, clerk and Julius Schultz, constables. There are
two churches, St. Paul's Evangelical on the southeast corner of section 26,
and another at Dumfries station on the Wabash.

According to the state census of 1905 there were four hundred and seven-
teen of school age in the township, with ample school room. The pay of
teachers is, for first grade, $40, second grade, $35 per month. The board
of education is as follows: II. A. Ellerbeck, president; W. C. Van pelt, secre-
tary and Joseph Nansel, treasurer.

Although Lake Manawa has become a very popular resort, it has exacted
a pretty heavy toll in human life. In 1892 three young men were drowned
by being swamped while crossing in a storm, and later the same year, a
young man went down the toboggan slide into deep water and drowned before
he could be rescued. Three men were drowned in April, 1904, a young
woman in 1905 and six in 1906 by the breaking down of a wharf on the
south side during a rush.

The close proximity to the city natural 1 \ brings all the trade of the town-
ship to that center. The most prominent feature of this township is the state
school for the deaf, of which more will be said later on.


Previous to L873 the territory embraced in Layton town-hip was a part
of Knox, but in that year on June 7 the petition of W. B. Cuppy, Thomas
Ledwick, <!. N. Robinson and forty other citizens of Knox township, was


presented to the county board of supervisors, asking that honorable body to
divide that township, and on the matter coming up, the following resolu-
tion granting their petition was adopted:

"Be it ordered that Township 76, Range 38 and Township 77, Range 38
be and is hereby organized into a civil township to be known as tbe Township
of Layton."

The first election was held in the town of Walnut on October 14, 1873.
Layton township was the last in the county to attract the land agent and
settler. The reason probably was owing to the distance from market. With
the construction of the railroad the conditions were changed and speedily
brought this great body of land into notice.

As now constituted it covers a full congressional township of thirty-six
sections of as good land as can be found outdoors, and capable of supporting
a population of five thousand people.

It is bounded on the north by Shelby county, on the east by Cass, south
by Lincoln township and west by Knox. It has but one stream of any
importance, that of Walnut creek, running from its source in Shelby county
nearly south until it finally empties into the Botna.

The first settlers were E. B. Hinckley and family, Oscar Lodge, Leander
Lodge and Henry Orcutt.

With the advent of the Rock Island Railroad, Mr. Hinckley became the
agent for its lands, opened an office and did a very successful business. The
settlers flocking in from all directions the settlement grew rapidly, wagon
roads began to be in evidence.

The original plat of the city of Walnut was surveyed and platted by
what was known as the Allen company. Several additions have been made
until it takes in the half of section 9.

The first settlers in the town were Dr. Plinny. D. Holcomb, D. Hison
and E. R. Hinckley.

The first store was opened by Leander Lodge, and the first postmaster
was E. R. Hinckley.

In 1877 Walnut received her charter as a city, and the first election
resulted in placing the city government in the hands of the following officers:
Mayor, W. H. Linfor ; recorder, J. B. Johnson ; marshal, Robert Gilbreath ;
city council, J. H. Henry, O. M. Bruce. Charles Lebeck, I. T. Spangler,
Wm. Hill and J. B. Johnson.

The. population and business increased rapidly in the city as well as
in the country and by 1800 there were in the city four dry goods stores, five
groceries, seven saloons, three drug stores, one jewelry store, one furniture
store, two millinery stores, one bank, three elevators, three agricultural imple-
ment stores, two blacksmith shops, one harness shop, two carriage shops, two
hotels, one barber shop, three lumber yards, two shoe shops, two lawyers,
three doctors, and one flouring mill. This was built in 1872 by Moses Thuns
and Co. It had a run of four buhrs and a capacity of fifty barrels of flour
per day.

The Walnut News was established in 1878 bv A. 0. Cramsr, and edited


by Dan Cramer, brother of proprietor. At this time (1880) there were two
churches, one Presbyterian and one Catholic. The first Sabbath school was
in the depot building of the railroad in 1873, under the auspices of the

In 1875 there was erected, at a cost of $5,000, a handsome two-story pub-
lic school building. At the opening there were twenty-five pupils under the
charge of Miss Kate Williams. It was opened as a district school but in the
fall of same year was changed to a graded school with a principal and two
assistants. There were in 1881 two hundred and thirty pupils. The super-
intendent was Professor William Hubbard with three assistants.

Online LibraryHomer Howard FieldHistory of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 59)