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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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thousand-mile journey of untold hardship.

Joseph Hill was the first Gentile arrival in the township. He took pos-
session of a tract of land in section 11 on the Missouri river, near what- is
known as the old St. John landing, on which he made his permanent
home. He came from the vicinity of St. Joseph, Mo., in 1850, and was fol-
lowed the next year by Joseph Kirby and Arthur Mann.

Samuel Kirkland and Dr. Robert McGovern came the same year, and
the former lived in this township until his death in 1880, and the latter set-
tled just over the line in Harrison county and became one of its most re-
spected citizens.

One of the oldest and most prominent settlers was Basil Fox. He was
born in Putnam county, Indiana, came to this county in 1852. When the
Civil war broke out he enlisted in the Twenty-ninth Iowa Infantry, com-
manded by Colonel Thomas H. Benton, and served until the expiration of
his term, has always been a strong republican, was a member of the board of
supervisors for two years. He finally moved to Missouri Valley.

Sherman Goss and his family arrived in 1851. Mr. Goss was shot dead
in a claim fight at Old Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, in 1854. and his widow and
children remained in the township many years. All three of his sons served
in the Union army.

To give a list of all tin- early settlers would make this history too lengthy,
so we must confine ourselves to those that hecame most prominent, without
any disrespect towards other equally good citizens. Hiram Bostwick,
witli his family, came with the Mormons, located on a large body of land on
the Missouri bottom near Honey Creek lake, and remained after exodus
of that people, built a large house that was always open to the public. He
and his good wife were noted for their hospitality. The upper part of his
big house was all in one room and was a favorite place for the young folks to
meet for miles around and have their dances, while the barns and sheds
would ho rilled with teams of the guests, and a bountiful supper would be
served. Sometimes things would get a little boisterous, which was owing to
bottles of something found in some of the sleigh-, but so goes the world.
Later Mr. Bostwick became justice of the peace, and while in that office
there was a shooting match at a sawmill near by and Nick Smith, a
tough character that always carried a rifle, no matter where he was going,
or what he was doing, was killed. It appeared that In- had some words with
a man named Fry. and knocked Fry down with the butt of his gun, and raised
it to strike him again while down, but just them a heavy quart bottle struck
Smith on the temple. He sat down on a log a few minutes and then startod
for home. Failing to reach there, a hunting party found him in a cornfield
dead. The question arose, who threw the bottle. There were perhaps twenty
in the crowd, and among them a brother of Fry's named Chris. He was
arretted and brought before Squire Bostwick, who believed in prompt en-
forcement of the law. and there heing a great crowd attracted, he ordered
the constable to summon a jury then and there to try the ease.



HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY 233

The sheriff quietly whispered the court, and as many jurors as had
been summoned were discharged and the court proceeded to confine itself to
holding a preliminary examination.

The entire crowd was sworn as witnesses, but not one saw where the bot-
tle came from. After hearing the evidence, the court remarked: "This
looks a little dark, a man is killed in broad daylight with twenty men looking
on and nobody saw it. The prisoner is discharged." And all the people said
amen.

Although this township had some bad men, and a number of murders
were committed in the early days, the great majority of the pioneers were
sterling men, just such as open up the wilderness and break the ground for
a higher civilization. It has furnished two county judges, Hardin Jones and
Abraham Jackson. The latter was a democrat after the manner of his old
namesake, and when the war came he came out strongly for its prosecution,
and became a power in the northwestern part of the county, where there was
a large anti-war element, at that time called copperheads.

Fortunately there were cool heads on both sides enough to prevent vio-
lent clashing. Perry Reel was a sample of this kind. Although his political
sentiments were known by all men, he was elected sheriff two terms, then
county treasurer, then sheriff again, even when the county was republican.

There is no record of schools previous to 1855, probably owing to the
Mormons conducting what schools there were in the earlier times in their
dwellings. On that year one was opened in an old Mormon cabin located
on section 10 and Jacob Cox was the first teacher. From this start the inter-
est increased until by 1880 there were seven comfortable school houses filled
with pupils in full operation.

The first public bridge was built over Honey creek by Basil Fox, the first
road supervisor. In 1859 Wiley B. Hatcher built a small mill on Honey
creek, the mill work being done by Basil Fox and a man named Popps, but
the dam was washed away by flood in '70 and site abandoned.

In 1865-6 A. J. Bell and E. L;>veland built a mill on the Boyer, where
the town of Loveland now is, and by which the town gets its name. It aft-
erwards passed info the hands of John Hanthorne & Co.

An interesting old settler was Mr. Edward W. Bennett. He was born
in Nova Scotia in 1805. He was a democrat and the writer of these lines
was a strong republican. He had admonished the writer to never pass his
house without stopping and, after one experience of their hospitality, one
would hardly disregard the admonition.

After the horse was stabled, fed and bedded and yourself served with an
excellent supper, he would kindly say to his venerable wife: "Annie, please
leave some water in the tea kettle on the stove," and we would adjourn to the
best room, where a bright fire blazed in an old-fashioned fire place. On the side-
board were a can of choice smoking tobacco and a couple of decanters glitter-
ing in the fire and lamplight. And he would say : "Now we can leave poli-
tics out of doors and take comfort."

He had been all over the world as a sailor, had been captain of police in
Buffalo and his conversation was as instructive as interesting. In the mean-



234 HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY

time the quiet little wife would sit knitting, but they are gone, and we almost
wonder why it must be so.

In the winter of '71, the peoi^le were shocked to hear that John S. Goss
had shot and dangerously wounded his cousin, Sherman Brown. It appeared
that they had had difficulty during the summer, which was continued until it
culminated in tragedy. Brown lived about two weeks.

In the trial it appeared that Brown was the aggressor and the jury
brought in a verdict of not guilty.

Shortly after this an elderly man named Samuel Fickle was killed by
being shot. It was in his house after dark. Hearing a noise outside, he
went to the door and received a load of buckshot and was instantly killed.
There never was sufficient proof to warrant a conviction by a jury, but public-
opinion pointed to a step-son, between whom there had been bad feeling for
some time.

On the evening of the presidential election of 1872 at the store of Alfred
Frazier, a man named James McMillan got into an altercation, which re-
sulted in McMillan falling dead.

The first report was that Frazier. who was a powerful man, with one blow
of tlic fist felled him to the lloor. This was not proven at the trial, and he was
acquitted. Mr. Frazier regretted it, some of his friends say, to the extent
that it affected his whole life up to the time of his death in 190G.

In 185G a Baptist church was organized where Loveland now is. The
original membership was twelve persons, viz.: W. A. Reel and wife, John
Deil and wife. Hardin Jones and wife, Mary A. Frazier, Cynthia Mace, Ed-
ward Latham and Josiah Skelton. In 1880 they erected a church at a cost
of sl.MDil. and the membership had grown to seventy-five at that time. Rev.
John Case was the first pastor. It i- claimed to be the oldest Baptist society
west of the Des Moines river. From 1887, when the Chicago & North-
Western Railroad entered, that was the only one in the township until the
advent of the Illinois Central in 1899. This road established a station named
< liable. There is but one store there as yet. Loveland is the largest village
in the township. Population about two hundred and fifty: has two general
-lores, a lumber yard, elevator and feed mill.

Owing to the level condition of the Missouri bottoms, the streams com-
ing down from the upland subjected the former to overflow, much to the
damage of many of the residents. To remedy this an extensive system of
ditching was inaugurated in 1903, part of which was by joint action with
Harrison county. Considerable delay has occurred, but at the present writ-
ing it is being pushed rapidly, and it is believed by the promoters that many
thousands of acres that are comparatively worthless will be redeemed.

The present township officers are: Ed. Wilson. J. A. Currie and W. J.
Myers, trustees: ]). H. Bailey and M. C. Brocious, justices of the peace; J. R.
Hutchinson, constable: Oscar E. Copeland, assessor, and Orel Jones, clerk.

Charles P. O'Neal, of Loveland. is president of the school board; Bruce
W. Morehouse, secretary, and J. W. Frazier. treasurer.

According to the state census of 190.". there was a school population of



HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY 235

three hundred and twenty-five between the ages of five and twenty-one years,
and for which ten good schoolhouses are provided.

About two-thirds of this township is on the Missouri bottoms and the
soil is inexhaustible.

In the extreme northwest corner of this township is a beautiful lake
called Noble's lake, after a man of that name, who in early times had a saw-
mill near it, and, although he has long since died, the pretty lake perpetuates
his name, and is a favorite place for fishing parties.

SILVER CREEK TOWNSHIP.

This township was first settled by Mormons who were a part of the great
exodus from Nauvoo. They made claims and, after staying one year, nearly
all sold out to Gentiles, who came after them, or abandoned them.

The first man to open a stage station between. Wheeler's Grove and Coun-
cil Bluffs was a Mr. Gardner, and this was the only one between the two
points. He soon sold out to a Mr. Moore and moved on with the .Mormons
to Salt Lake. In 1854 John Bratton bought out Mr. Moore, and for three
years longer there was a stage route through here, though a postoffice that had
been kept here was discontinued when Mr. Moore removed from this point.

The first settler that came with the intention of staying was Pleasant
Taylor, but when the stage route was changed, he followed it and established
a station farther north on the same stream that has been known ever since
as Taylor Station.

John Bratton was the second permanent settler, a native of Pennsylvania.
but came from Ohio here. He was an excellent citizen, was for a time a
member of the first board of supervisors when that body superseded the
county judge in county affairs. He finally went to Silver City in Mills county.

The first schoolhouse was at this station, it being a log cabin with a turf
roof, and the first teacher was Miss Maggie Weirich, of Council Bluffs. This
was in 1857. In 1861 a frame schoolhouse was erected, also a church. In
1860 a Protestant Methodist church was organized with seven members, but
without any regular pastor. Jason Parker was the first justice of the peace.
The first marriage was between George E. Smith and Mrs. Clarrissa Wheeling.
The first child born in the township was a son to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wells.
Mrs. Bratton attended the birth of the child. She followed the profession of
midwife for all that section of the country for years, and her husband that
of a preacher. The first death of an adult was that of Mrs. Margaret Piles in
August, 1857. An infant of hers died in July of the same year, and both were
buried near the station.

During the Pike's Peak excitement the station was a lively point, from
sixty to seventy teams would pass through daily. Tn 1858 five hundred Mor-
mon emigrants passed through on the stage road with hand carts, not a
single horse in the entire outfit. They seemed to feel happy and not to realize
the terrible journey before them.

A terrible tragedy occurred in this township in the summer of 1875.
Jordan Clark, a man nearly sixty years old, moved into the township some



236 HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY

years before and opened up a farm. From the same neighborhood in Illi-
nois came a man named Joab Stoves and his wife. During the winter of '74
and spring of '75 a clandestine correspondence sprang up between Clark and
Mrs. Stoves. Stoves intercepted an incriminating letter, and some effort was
made for reconciliation, but without effect. Stoves shot Clark, killing him
instantly. He was tried and acquitted on the plea of emotional insanity.
After this, Stoves and his wife became reconciled and lived together and re-
turned to Illinois.

The first schoolhouse was erected on section 32, near the residence of
John Vankirk. In 1882 one was completed at a cost of $1,200.

The first road was the stage road already mentioned. This was changed
to a line three miles further north. This mainly in the interest of the West-
ern Stage Company. The first county road was what was called the Living
Springs road, the bridge built mainly at private expense, the heavy timbers
being donated by Macedonia citizens, who wished to have the use of it.

The religious interests were mainly in one church organization. In 1878
YV. H. Hartman, of Glenwood, Mills county, organized a branch of the Chris-
tian church at schoolhouse No. 3. what is known as the Pontius schoolhouse,
but afterwards in 1881 it was changed to the Silver Center schoolhouse, as
the greater number of the members lived nearer to this point.

The settlement of this township was not as rapid as those reached by
railroad, still there was a constant influx of inhabitants, but not until 1905
did it have a town of its own. when the town of Treynor was incorporated.
Situated in the extreme northwest corner, it commands a large part of the
trade of not only Silver Creek, but also of Hardin. Keg Creek and Washing-
ton townships.

Among its business institutions are the Treynor Savings Bank, two gen-
eral stores, one furniture and implement house, one drug store, one livery
barn and two saloons. It has a full set of city officers, to-wit: Mayor, Ferdi-
nand Schoening; clerk, T. P. Carter; marshal, Fred Schrede, with six alder-
men. It also has two churches (German Lutheran | and an independent
public school, with an attendance of forty pupils.

The township organization is as follows: Trustees, Perry Kearney,
Julius Strohbehn and J. O. Moss; clerk. F. W. Ouren; justices of the peace,
Jurgen Jensen and Henry Parker; constables, none: assessor, C. E. Springer.

The subdistrict school directors are as follows: Pleasant Valley — Presi-
dent. F. M. Smith: secretary. Perry Kearney; treasurer, W. A. Allensworth.
Sucksdorf — President, F. H. Schultz; secretary, P. N. Sucksdorf; treasurer,
Jurgen Heesch. Silver Center — President. George A. Stevens; secretary, Her-
man Schnepel; treasurer, August Dammrow. Lone Star — President, John
Trede; secretary, John Clark; treasurer, G. W. Kauke. Valley — President,
.Tames T. Fox: secretary, I. H. Stevens: treasurer, J. G. Moss. Living
Springs — President. A. T. Rains; secretary. F. W. Ouren; treasurer. Henry
Anderson.

The school population, according to the state census of 190."i. exclusive of
town of Treynor, was two hundred and fourteen, of which one hundred and
sixteen were males and ninety-eight female-



HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY 237

VALLEY TOWNSHIP AND HANCOCK.

The petition for organizing this township was signed by W. F. Travel'
and one hundred and sixty other legal voters, and, after a full hearing, it
was ordered that the township should comprise congressional township 76,
range 39.

The first election was held at what is known as the Acker schoolhouse on
the 8th of October, 1878, and one hundred and twenty-six votes were cast.
The elected officers were : Judges, W. C. Barton, James Livingston and H. C.
Hough; clerks, A. M. Battelle and W. H. Benjamin.

The trustees chosen were: W. C. Barton, S. Armstrong and S. D. Acker;
clerk, R. M. White; assessor, R. D. Ballard.

Among the oldest settlers was A. M. Battelle, who came in 1855, when he
crossed the state from Keokuk with a wagon, taking two weeks to make the
trip. His household goods were shipped by river from Wheeling, W. Va.,
around by St. Louis to Council Bluffs. The road from Keokuk led through
Ottumwa, Eddyville and Afton. Afton had been located, but not a house
had been built. He found three almost impassable sloughs about ten miles
south of Lewis and persuaded a man who was breaking prairie to help him.
He had to carry his wife and children across, as it was all the oxen could do
to get the wagon through. Winter set in early and snow fell to a great
depth and for weeks settlers were compelled to live on hominy and venison,
of which latter there was plenty, as deer were easy to capture, owing to the
deep snow.

At last an old trader went with two yoke of oxen to Council Bluffs for
food for the settlement, and was two weeks on the trip. He got stalled in a
drift within two miles of home, but settlers helped him out and he arrived
safely, and sold his flour for $6 per hundred. No mail could be had nearer
than the Bluffs.

Joseph Headley, another old settler, was born in Pennsylvania in 1826,
came to Iowa in 1841, and settled within the present limits of Valley town-
ship in 1852. He came in a wagon with his wife and made a log cabin his
first home. His nearest milling point was Glenwood, Mills county, forty
miles away.

The first winter or two were severe. Wages were but fifty cents per day
and corn $3 per bushel, the few settlers lived mostly on corn bread and game,
and when they did raise wheat and market it, after hauling it forty
miles, 'they were compelled to sell it for fifty cents per bushel. The religious
matters of the township have been liberally provided for. The Knox Pres-
byterian church was organized March 23, 1873, by Rev. N. C. Robinson, with
eight original members, consisting of Robinson and wife, Thomas Daal and
wife, James Sendee and wife, Mary Ray and Sarah Birney. The first pastor
was the Rev. Andrew Herron, of Atlantic. New Hope Baptist church was
constituted in 1875 by the Rev. E. Birch, who was the first pastor. There
were thirteen members. Many members having moved away, the church
was abandoned in 1879.

The United Brethren church was organized by Rev. Mr. Adams in 1875.



238 HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY

The M. P. church of Valley township was organized in 1879 by Rev. B. F.
Poorman. The society or order of A. H. T. A. was represented by lodge No.
95 and constituted in the spring of 1879. H. Cook was the worthy president ;
Emerson Smith, secretary, and Joseph Moore, treasurer.

The Carson branch of the Rock Island railroad was completed and put in
operation in the summer of 1880. The same summer F. H. Hancock, of
Davenport, who owned the land now constituting the townsite, laid out the
town. Samuel Armstrong built the fast house, beginning it in October, 1880,
and C. W. Newman opened a coal yard about the same date, and near that
time he established a blacksmith shop.

The first store was erected by B. F. Stevenson, in the grocery business,
but it was soon transferred to E. Kinney & Co. F. II. Hancock began buying
grain in December, 1880, and in two years l>nught and shipped 325,000 bush-
els of corn. His elevator was finished in June, with a capacity of 25.000
bushels.

The first lumber sold was by Seifferl A: Wiese to W. II. Benjamin, .June
3, 1881, the first day of opening their yard. G. Deidrich, mayor of Avoca.
started a general store in October, 1881. Battellc & Bavan opened a saloon
and also engaged in buying hogs. Whismand & Archer opened a general
store. The Anderson Bros, opened a saloon and restaurant, and A. A. Ander-
son opened a meat market, and Dr. C. Hardman and Brother a drug store,
and Samuel Armstrong opened a hotel. W. II. Patterson opened a law of-
lice, W. S. Williams was postmaster: I. <;. Carter, constable; Henry Carter,
drayman; J. Reed, carpenter; Paul Reed and Ira Cook, plasterers.

The town had at that time over "lie hundred persons.

The Methodist. Episcopal church was organized in 1874, bui was known
a- the Valley church. The pastor was Rev. William Armstrong, It had
seven original members, I. G. Carter and wife. W. II. Clements and wife, Mrs.
Martha Reed, Mrs. Ira Cook and Mrs. Andrew Carrier. They had also a
Sunday school of which W. W. Whipple was superintendent.

Valley Lodge, No. 439, I. O. O. V.. was instituted December 9, 1881.

The first officers were Samuel Bell, \. G.; A. II. Whittaker, V. G. : W. S.
Williams, permanent secretary; Fairfield Thayer, recording secretary, and
William Converse, treasurer.

At the present time the town of Hancock has three hundred inhabitants.
It has two elevators, the DesMoines, with -T. C. Lake, manager, and the South
Branch, with W. R. Stevenson, manager: three general stores, one hardware
and implement store, one furniture and one drug store, one hotel, one livery
stable, one bank, two blacksmith and machine shops, two churches, Methodist
and Presbyterian, graded scl 1. with principal and two assistants, one har-
ness shop, one jewelry store, barber shop, one machine shop, one meat market
that does its own killing, one opera house, two lumber yards, one cement block
works and one cannery.

The Odd Fellows and Modern Woodmen each have a lodge.

The present township trustees are: L. C. Hannah. Th imas Green and



HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY 239

J. H. King; clerk, H. M. Eagers; justices of the peace, N. A. Lindsey and M.
H. Anderson ; assessor, R. J. Coe ; no constable qualified.

According to the state census of 1905, there were in Valley township,
exclusive of Hancock, two hundred and twenty-nine of school age, of which
one hundred and twenty were males, and one hundred and nine females. In
the town of Hancock there were ninety, of which forty-seven were males and
forty-three females.

The school board is as follows: President, S. R. Searle; secretary, Albert
Peterson ; treasurer, J. W. Warner.

On September 1, 1906, August Kruger, an elderly man. suddenly became
insane, and from his porch commenced shooting at passersby with a shotgun,
and it was not until several were wounded, as well as Kruger himself, thai
he could be subdued. He was at last overpowered, and. after his wounds
were dressed, taken to Avoca for further treatment.

WRIGHT TOWNSHIP.

Wright is a full congressional township, being township No. 7.",, range
38. It is drained by Walnut creek that bisects it running south. There is
but little native timber, except in the southeast corner on the East Botna.
The land is of the best quality, like that of (he adjoining townships. The
first house built was by a squatter named Campbell. He had a wife and two
daughters, and for a long time his house was the only stopping place on the
road to Wheeler's Grove.

The first death was that of a child of that family. It is thought they
finally went to Missouri.

Owing to its distance from water or railroad transportation the country
was slow in settling up. The first marriage was that of Henry Shank and
Sophronia Dean in April, 1858. The first birth, of which note is made, was
that of Jessie VanRipper (now Mrs. Wright) May 8. 1858.

Levi Mills built a house for a tavern on the northwest quarter of section
22, which was later kept by Mr. Whipple as a station for the Western Stage
Company on their route from DesMoines to Council Bluffs. To the west of
Whipple Station J. B. Deloy established a small store, and a postomce was
authorized at the same place, known as Whipple.

Alexander Evans bought a claim of land and its improvements in 1855
from Granville Pearson and thus became the second settler in the township.
Of the old settlers who came in '55, were Amos AVest, Edward Dean and Charles
Fenner; in '56, William VanRipper and Samuel Place, and in '57, L. A. Burn-
ham. Samuel Place settled on section 36. He enlisted in the Union army
and died in the service. Levi Milks was a native of Ohio, by vocation a hotel-



Online LibraryHomer Howard FieldHistory of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, from the earliest historic times to 1907 (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 59)