HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
James township is bounded on the north by Pleasant, east
by Valley, south by Belknap and west by York townships.
The west half is drained by Big Silver and its tributaries
and the east half by the West Botna and its tributaries. The
soil is of the best and a crop has never failed since the
settlement. It is named in honor of Stephen James, a brother
of Judge W. C. James, both of whom are now deceased. It is
destitute of natural groves of timber, but the early settlers
went to work to remedy this defect by planting artificial
groves, which have made such growth that the whole face of
the country has been changed.
The first road in the township was the old Ballard road,
which ran north-easterly from Council Bluffs past the eight
mile grove and through Newtown and to the southern part of
Audubon county, where Dr. Ballard had large tracts of land.
Although it has no town of its own it is in close touch with
Hancock, Oakland, Minden or Avoca. There has been since its
early settlement a large German element in its population
and the first church was that of the German Methodist, who
as early as 1873, had a flourishing organization, including
a large Sunday school, and at that day had erected a parsonage
at a cost of $3,500. Since then another church has been established.
The nearest railroad is the Carson branch of the Rock Island
at either Hancock or Oakland, while it is not a long haul
to Avoca, Minden or Neola.
The following is a list of the present township officers:
Trustees, H. O. Bain, Henry Nicolai, and G. S. Cutchall; clerk,
C. C. Smith; justices of the peace, S. W. Rounds and Otto
Zoeller; constable, Charles Butterbaugh; assessor, Titus Fehr.
The school board is composed of the following named citizens:
President, S. D. Blakely; secretary, M. F. Brown; treasurer,
A. G. Simon.
According to tile state census of 1905 there were two hundred
and sixty persons of school age, of which one hundred and
thirty-four were males and one hundred and twenty-five were
The salaries of teachers: $40 for first and $35 for second
Another prominent citizen is Henry Brandes, for years president
of the board of supervisors.
KEG CREEK TOWNSHIP.
The general history of this township is that of Silver Creek
up to 1873, when it was cut out of that township. This was
done by order of the board of supervisors, made October 14,
1873, and it was also ordered that the first election should
be held at the schoolhouse known as the Keg creek schoolhouse,
near what is known as the Dick Hardin farm. This is one of
the sons of the Davis Hardin that came in '38 to look after
the interests of the Pottawattamies.
The name of Hardin has been made very popular. One son (Mart,
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
was always called) having held public offices of various
kinds for years and now his son Will is the present assessor
of the city, and has been for many years and likely to be
many years more, being one of these democrats that can always
catch a lot of republican votes.
This township was named after its principal stream. This
stream derives its name from the circumstance that some early
emigrants found several kegs of whiskey that had been hidden
in the willows on its bank.
Among the early settlers who have become prominent and contributed
largely to the development of this township were: Wooster
Fay, A. W. Wyman, S. G. Underwood and Col. Wm. Orr. Of these
only Mr. Underwood is living. He has one of the finest and
well stocked farms in the county.
The first officers of the township were: A. W. Wyman, Wooster
Fay and Fredrick Miller, trustees and George Kirby, justice
of the peace.
The first road laid out was what is known as the state road,
established by Judge J. P. Casady in 1860, and was known as
the Council Bluffs and Lewis road, and for many years it was
the only road in the township.
The first school of which there is any record was taught
in 1856 in an old log cabin that had been moved out of Moffat's
grove to the edge of the prairie, and taught by Miss Catharine
Buffington. The winter of '56 was so cold that they did without
It seems but proper that we should retain and hand down the
names of the sturdy, patient men that first opened up this
most glorious country, and we take pleasure in doing so especially
as there are few now remaining with us, and we even wonder
if we have their equals with us to-day, and we will mention
a few more that came in the early times. Thomas Moffatt came
in 1856 and a Mr. Breckinridge the same year, Mr. Grierson
came in 1855 and Henry Karns opened a farm at the same date.
Mr. Grierson died in the fall of the same year that he came.
Mr. McNay and Wm. Campbell also came in an early day and have
been some of our best citizens.
The present township officers are: F. Heuwinkel, H. Kirchoff
and A. L. Ingram, trustees; Henry Heuwinkel, clerk; F. C.
Frohardtand F. W. Basch, justices of the peace. No constable
qualified, which leaves a vacancy, but so law-abiding are
the people that the election of justices and constables is
only a form.
The school board consists of R. McKinzie, president; F. C.
Frohardt, secretary and H. F. Saar, treasurer. The township
has nine schoolhouses and according to the state census of
1905, there were two hundred and eighty-eight persons of school
age in the township, of which one hundred and forty-five were
males and one hundred and forty-three females to fill them.
The township has two churches, that of the Methodists on
section 19, and German Lutheran on section 2.
No country in the world can raise better crops or people
than this township.
This, the once most important township, has been nearly absorbed
by the city of Council Bluffs. It still has an existence and
is famous for its vine
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
yards and pretty suburban homes. At one time its eastern
boundary was for some miles the Mosquito creek, the citizens
having been anxious to have the benefit of the public schools.
In an early day a brick schoolhouse was built in that neighborhood
and a school maintained by the city called the Clark school,
but getting tired of paying city taxes, petitioned to be set
off, and accordingly the city boundary was drawn in for one
mile in section 19, Garner township, to a few rods in section
5 in Lewis township, so that it at present consists of some
fragments left after constituting the city of Council Bluffs,
containing about ninety adult persons and half as many children
of school age.
Small and well ordered as it usually is, it was once the
scene of the most 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 Haile 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.
KNOX TOWNSHIP AND AVOCA.
This is 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 consists 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 settled by a grove of timber about a mile and a half east
of where Avoca now stands, and although he left it and moved
away long ago, the grove retains his name until this day.
William Henderson was the next settler. He was a bachelor
and located in the grove in the 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 Headler and his two sons
came 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 township.
George Headlee settled on the Sinclair farm near 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 citizens 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 practiced medicine. He later moved to Woodbury
John Krutzmger bought the Joshua Headlee claim and built
a saw mill on the west branch of the Nishnabotna. This was
the first improvement of the kind made in Knox township, and
he later added a small grist mill to it. He was killed in
Glenwood, Mills county, in the fall of 1856, but history does
not say under what circumstances.
The River and Middle Bridge from Canal Bridge
(click on image for larger size)
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
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 tower site. Samuel Perrin of Council
Bluffs was the surveyor who laid off the town of Wooster for
The original proprietors were Townsend, Samuel Knepper and
Dr. S. M. Ballard of Council Bluffs, none of whom are now
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 mills 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, having 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 thousands 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 Railroad 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 overlooking 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
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
and Dallas, afterward the whig and republican and finally
became a leading greenbacker.
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. Gardner 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 established 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. O. 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,
In 1870 a schoolhouse was built by Byron Bunnell, in which
he taught school until the new brick was completed. And all
religious services including Sunday school were held there
until churches were built for that purpose. In 1877 a frame
school building, twenty-four by forty feet was erected on
the south side of the railroad, for the use of the people
of that part of the town, and this was enlarged in 1882 by
a two-story addition twenty-four by sixty feet.
In 1876 a three-story brick building was put up by Consigny
and Wath, with the capacity of 7,000 bushels for a steam flouring
mill, and later an addition was made as a warehouse, making
the capacity 12,000 bushels. This is known as the Centennial
mill, it having been built during centennial year.
The first religious services were held in July, 1869, when
the Rev. Charles W. Blodgett of the Metliodist Episcopal circuit
of Big Grove and Harlan, preached in the temporary depot of
the Rock Island road.
In the same year a Methodist Episcopal Sunday school was
established with Mr. Fitch as superintendent.
The Rev. George Carroll of the Presbyterian church, preached
at Avoca on the 24th of July, 1870, and organized a society
at that date.
The first pastor was Rev. p. 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. Halsted and C. V. Gardener, was appointed. The church
begun the same year, finished and dedicated in July, 1872.
The dedicatory sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr. Thompson
of Jamestown, New York.
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
The Catholic church of Avoca was organized by the Rev. Father
McMenomy 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 minister. A church was built in l874-75
and dedicated May 23, 1875, and a comfortable parsonage bought
A union Sunday school was organized on the south side of
the railroad on the 16th of September, 1877; the first superintendent
was J. I. 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
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, A.
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. O. Seiffert,
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 Ledwick 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 politica1 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
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
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 membership 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 machinery 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
The Harlan branch of the Rock Island road 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. Weis and Maxwell and True; agricultural implement
dealers, Hart and Co., T. O. Meridith and W. H. Van Brunt;
lumber, Ainsworth & Waterman and Seiffert & Weis;
hardware, H. C. Norton and harness, Wilson.
In 1870 the Rock Island Railroad Company built a large hotel
and dining hall at their station, which was managed by John
Jones, formerly of the Pacific House in Council Bluffs, until
the company adopted the dining car system.
Biographical sketches of all the men and women that have helped
to build up this beautiful young city would make this volume
too large, but we will endeavor to continue to record the
most prominent names and events as they have transpired.
When a city grows 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
If some Rip Van Winkle should come along that used ,to travel
the old Ballard road, he would be surprised to see a full
fledged city of two thousand inhabitants organized as follows:
Mayor, J oh!! Fletcher; city attorney, A. L. Preston; clerk,
Nels C. Nelson; aldermen, Charles D. Schmidt, Albert Meitzen,
Charles Lockhart, Wm. Neumann, John H. Jenks and John Marxen.
The city marshal and his deputy constitute the only police
force, the former serving 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, English, 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 Maccabees, Society of Danish Brotherhood,
U. S. Grant post of G. A. R. There are two general stores,
one department store, two hardware and three drug
HISTORY OFPOTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
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.
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 carrying
heavy stock, three barber shops, four doctors, three lawyers
and five saloons. It also had a brass band of twenty-one pieces.
In the city, according to census 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 Pritchard and James Wilson; clerk, J. B. Grimson; justice
of the peace, Theodore Rohlfs; constables, Jas. Trobaugh and
Rickliff Plahn; assessor, L. C. Ward.
We take pleasure in making special mention of Mr. J. B. Blake,
personally known to the author for a half century. He 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 Council Bluffs, where
he was universally respected. That his declining years may
be as peaceful as his earlier were honorable is the wish of
The earliest history of Lewis township is identical with
that of Kane, the latter for many years having included the
former and also Garner township.
In 1875 Kane was subdivided, bringing the three to their
present shape. The present boundary is north by city of Council
Bluffs and Garner township, 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
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 Council 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
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
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 southwestern corner of Keg Creek township,
enters Mills county. Although it is generally thought Lewis
has but two railroads, 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
The township officers are: F. G. Knowles, F. W. Beck and
H. C. Jenkins, trustees; Peter Rief and Wm. Steele, justices
of the peace; H. A. Ellerbeck, 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 seventeen 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:
H. A. Ellerbeck, president; W. C. Vanpelt, secretary and Joseph
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 naturally brings all the
trade of the township 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.
LAYTON TOWNSHIP AND WALNUT.
Previous to 1873 the territory embraced in Layton township
was a part of Knox, but in that year on June 7 the petition
of W. S. Cuppy, Thomas Ledwick, G. N. Robinson and forty other
citizens of Knox township, was
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
presented to the county board of supervisors, asking that
honorable body to divide that township, and on the matter
coming up, the following resolution granting their petition
"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 the 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 implement
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
The Walnut News was established in 1878 by A. O. Cram8r,
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
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 Campbellites.
In 1875 there was erected, at a cost of $5,000, a handsome
two-story public 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 superintendent was Professor William Hubbard with three
The statistics for the year 1881 show the following in regard
to the township; Number of subdistricts, eight; number of
ungraded, eight; number of months taught, nine; teachers employed,
male, two, female, thirteen; number of pupils, males, one
hundred and two, females, ninety.
There were three secret societies, Walnut lodge No. 122,
Legion of Honor, was the first to organize. The first officers
were: W. H. Linfor, president; W. H. Bowman, vice-president;
J. C. Spangler, recording secretary; J. H. Henry, foreman;
W. F. Moreshell, financier; J. B. Case, chaplain and W, Gardiner,
The second secret society organized was Moriah lodge No.
327, I. 0, O. F., on September 25, 1875.
The charter members were: J. W. Snyder, C. W. Merrill, G.
C. Hunt, O. M. Bruce, W. H. Brundridge, J. M. Turner and G.
T. Mix. The first officers were: Noble grand, J. W. Snyder;
vice grand, G. T. Mix; recording secretary, W. E. Turner;
permanent secretary, James Ledwick and treasurer, F. H. Green.
The third society to organize a lodge in Walnut was the A.
O. U. W. Walnut lodge, No. 194, A. O. U. W., was, organized
by charter granted June 25, 1879. This lodge in 1882 had a
membership of forty-two and the officers were: W. L. Williams,
master workman; Wm. Woodring, foreman; A. S, Amey, receiver;
Wm. Gardiner, financier; Henry Ott, overseer; W. O. Hubbard,
past master workman; Robert Boat, guide; W. R. Spencer, inside
watchman; J. C. Spangler, outside watchman and H. A. Cummings,
Although history is constantly being made, we at times neglect
to record it, being too busy, but it is proper that at least
each generation should leave data by which those that succeed
us can keep advised as to whether we are advancing or retrograding.
It has recently been claimed that in many counties of Iowa
the last census shows a decrease in population. This seems
unnatural for so young a state as Iowa and one so highly endowed
by nature. It is possible that the high price of land here
may have driven young men to where it is cheaper, faster than
its excellent quality has attracted strangers to it, or again,
for years there has been a great strife to show rapid gains
in population that in many instances resulted in padding the
returns as appeared in the case of our neighboring city, where
the census of 1890 showed forty thousand more than that of
1900. Be this as it may, we are not prepared to believe that
this township or Pottawattamie county has retrograded.
The town of Walnut at this time contains the following list
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
tions: Three banks, four general stores, two exclusive grocery
stores, two drug stores, four restaurants, three blacksmith
shops, two wagon shops, two photograph galleries, two elevators,
two livery stables, one flouring mill, three implement stores,
one cement block factory, two lumber yards, two hardware stores,
three physicians, one meat market, one harness shop, one tailoring
establishment, three barber shops, one steam laundry, one
millinery store, one dentist, one newspaper, two real estate
offices, four hotels, two billiard halls, four saloons, one
exclusive shoe store, one clothing store.
The religious organizations are represented by Catholic,
Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches. The Masons,
Odd Fellows, A. O. U, W., M. W. A., W. O. W., Knights of Pythias,
G. A. R., Homesteaders and German Verein each have organizations.
The city also has its waterworks and electric light plant
and fire company. Citizens claim a population of one thousand
five hundred and for their banks $1,000,000. The city has
a graded school with superintendent and seven teachers.
The city government is constituted ai1 follows: Mayor, E.
C. Thompson; clerk, .C. S. Spangler; city council, J. B. Johannasen,
Dr. Morris Moore, Orris Mosher, Jr., J. C. Vollsted, W. S.
Sankey and N. H. Lewis.
The township officers are as follows: Trustees, G. W. Craney,
Wm. H. Jurgenson and Frank Hanna; clerk, F. C. Hector; assessor,
John Schmidt; justices, E. C. Thompson and J. B. Johannsen.
School board, H. F. Sievers, president; John Schmidt, secretary;
J. W. Craig, treasurer.
According to census of 1905 there were in Layton township,
exclusive of Walnut, two hundred of school age, of which one
hundred and eight were males and ninety-two females. In Walnut
town there were three hundred and four, of which one hundred
and fifty-four were males and one hundred and fifty were females.
In traveling over Pottawattamie county one naturally wonders
why the great railroad lines crossing the state from east
to west have avoided the best tier of counties in the whole
state. This applies more particularly to the western part,
where in going from Madison, Adair, Cass or eastern Pottawattamie
to Council Bluffs or Omaha a person must pass through Shelby
or Mills. However, Pottawattamie has managed to survive and
grow in wealth and population, and a person now passing where
the roads were mere trails, following the divides over miles
of treeless prairies and now finds excellent roads running
on section lines and each farm with an artificial grove, he
feels impressed with the amount of progress that one generation
has made, and although Lincoln, like several of her sister
townships, has no railroad or town of her own, it is but a
short drive to one in any direction. In fact a person can't
get ten miles from a railroad in Pottawattamie county. Farming,
including stock raising and fruit growing, must always be
the business of the people and as such, prosperity is certain
to follow the active and prudent worker.
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
The present township officers are as follows: Trustees, Jacob
Carbuhn, Carl Rothwisch and Geo. Hardenburg; clerk, M. E.
Reimer; justices of the peace, Thos. Peterson and John Goetsch;
assessor, H. P. Jacobson. No one qualified as constable.
George Eichhorn, A. E. Young, B. Geiss and Fred Swengle are
among its prominent citizens.
According to state census of 1904, there were two hundred
and thirty-eight persons of school age, of which one hundred
and twenty were males and one hundred and eighteen were females.
The first election in Lincoln was on the same day of the
general election in November, 1876.
W. A. Clapp was chosen township clerk, H. B. Jack, Samuel
I. Pope and Andrew McCormick, trustees and Joseph Battersley,
justice of the peace.
This is a full congressional township of most excellent land,
but destitute of native timber except along the streams. Among
the first settlers were: Wm. H. Painter, Patrick Howard, H.
B. Jack, W. A. Clapp, Samuel I. Pope, John A. Frank, Elias
Yeoman, Christ Dramyer, John A. Chipman, Wm. Linkletter, Geo.
Woods, Charles Mamfer, Geo. Roberts and R. M. Allen. By the
year 1882 great progress had been made.
In the year 1872, when Mr. Painter came, there were neither
church, schoolhouse or store nor bridge, but so active were
the people that by 1882 there were nine schoolhouses of uniform
dimensions and costing $800 each.
There were also six bridges, built at cost of the county
and cost from $1,600 to $1,700 each. Three of these were over
Big Walnut creek, two over Little Walnut and over Graybill
It will be remembered that on the 12th day of February, 1853,
steps were taken to divide Pottawattamie county into three
townships. This was done at a special session of the county
court, which was constituted of the county judge, T. Burdick,
who held the office at that date and made necessary order,
and S. T. Corg was the clerk of the court and made up the
record of the transaction. The record so made s1¥ltes
in substance that the former division of the county into election
precincts be discontinued, and the county of Pottawattamie
divided into three townships, viz., Macedonia, bounded on
the north by the north line of the county, east by the east
county line, south by the south county line and west by the
meridian or range line running north and south across the
county between range 40 and 41. It will be seen that this
created Macedonia township with the same territory that now
constitutes the twelve easterly townships or fully two-fifths
of the county, and the history of the present Macedonia properly
begins at that date, although some incidents date previous
The first settler was Thomas Jefferson Ring. He was born
in Massachusetts May 24, 1804. Came west and reached Louisiana,
Missouri, in 1848, and came overland from there, and arrived
at old Macedonia May 1, 1848, in time to raise a crop of corn
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
In 1850, when the emigration to Salt Lake was at its height,
the Botna was out of its banks for three months and caused
great delay and suffering to those who were on their way west.
Mr. Ring had secured a lot of flour from Council Bluffs before
the river rose and this he divided with those on the east
side, and when this supply failed they were compelled to resort
to pounded corn.
The next settler after Mr. Ring was one by the name of Jacob
Myers, from Ohio, who built a saw mill and then a grist mill
in connection with one Haws at the old town of Macedonia.
This mill was built in 1848 but was washed out in the great
flood that followed its construction, and after this Mr. Myers
went to Michigan, and was lost sight of. Previous to this,
however, J. B. Stutsman, one of the first merchants of Council
Bluffs, had bought a half interest in the mill and Wm. Martin
the other half, and in 1851 they erected a saw mill and in
1853 a grist mill, which was managed by Z. Losh, an experienced
miller, for a year and by others until another flood in 1861
which took the second mill out and the site was abandoned.
But for a long time before and after the place was called
Macedonia it was called Stutsman's Mill.
And it might be pleasant to the Macedonians to know that
this same old time, generous, enterprising gentleman is at
this time living at Harlan and that he carries his ninety
years as lightly as most men of seventy. He also opened the
Another old timer that arrived about this time was a Mr.
Tuttle who afterward went on to Utah.
In 1852 a Mr. Hanshalder bought the stock of Stutsman and
conducted the business in the same building. The first school
in the township was taught by Joseph Lyman, when but a boy
of sixteen or seventeen, of which we shall hear more, as he
was one of the boys you can't lose. This school was taught
in a rented building, there being no way to have one built
by the public. A blacksmith named Henry Adams started a shop
in 1852 and conducted it for two years and sold out to John
The first postmaster was Calvin A. Beebe, who lived on the
Tompkins farm and it was kept here; and here the first election
after the organization of the township was ordered to be held.
Fink and Walker had the contract to carry the mail between
Des Moines and Council Bluffs, and there was a weekly service
each way. As soon as events justified it, the Western Stage
Co. put daily coaches on the route by way of Big Grove and
continued until the Rock Island Railroad was built in 1869.
The first schoolhouse built at public expense was erected
a little east of the old town, A. M. Denton being the contractor.
The finishing lumber was brought from Boonville by wagon.
. J. Z. Lash came in as before stated and conducted Stutsman's
mill a year, but in 1856 he discovered a good mill site a
few miles above and there he erected what was known for many
years as Losh's mill. With the advent of the C. B. & Q.
branch railroad, the new town of Carson sprang into existence,
which will be noted under another head. That company commenced
building a branch from Bastings on their main line, and had
it completed and trains running to a point three-quarters
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
of a mile east of the old town at the river on the Fourth
of July, 1880. Here a new town was laid out and also called
Macedonia. This company consisted of Hon. B. F. Clayton and
R. H. Woodmancy of Macedonia, T. J. Evans of Council Bluffs
and T. J. Pattee, general manager of the C. B. & Q. Railroad.
The first store erected in the new town was by R. H. Woodmancy,
the first carpenter shop by J. T. Bird, and the blacksmith
shop by Henry Keeler and Co., and a new schoolhouse was built
the following season. The Cumberland Presbyterian church organized
a society as early as 1871, under the auspices of the Rev.
J. W. Carter. From the date of its organization until 1880,
services were held in the schoolhouse in old Macedonia, but
in the fall of the latter year they erected a neat edifice
in the new town at a cost of $2,000 without incurring any
The Methodist society that was organized under the direction
of Rev. Thomas H., Smith was reorganized in 1873 under the
supervision of Rev. Henry De Long. When the new town was established
they sold their house and built a church costing $3,000.
The first child born in the new town was in September, 1880,
to Mr. and Mrs. William Dye, and the first death was that
of Mrs. Emma Mitchell in the same month. The first marriage
ceremony was performed by Rev. J. W. Carter in the marriage
of Mr. Charles Beesley and Miss Ora Lowe in August, 1881.
An Odd Fellows lodge was established on the fourth of February,
1881, with W. Dye, E. L. Cook, A. M. Cole, E. A. Vanvranken,
A. S. Staggers and J. S. Rainbow as charter members, and the
officers installed at the organization were: W. Dye, N. G.;
A. M. Cole, V. G.; E. L. Cook, secretary and E. A. Vanvranken,
The first hotel was the Macedonia House and was opened by
Geo. H. Kaler.
The postoffice was removed from old to new Macedonia and
Ohio Knox was made postmaster and through his efforts it was
declared a money order office. In 1880 Meckelivert & Young
erected a steam elevator, and during the first season managed
two hundred and fifty thousand bushels and in 1881 over five
hundred carloads of grain.
A new Howe truss bridge was erected across the Botna at the
old town in 1881.
A joint stock company was organized in 1880 to conduct a
banking business under the laws of Iowa, and known as the
Macedonia bank, the shareholders being George Meckelivert,
Richard Meckelivert, D. L. Hinshimer, of Glenwood, and William
Dye, of Macedonia.
The Masonic fraternity established themselves in the town
shortly after it was laid out, Ruba lodge being organized
in the winter of 1881, with a membership of seventeen. John
Craig was made the first worshipful master; J. M. Kelley,
the first senior warden; D. L. Bulla, the first junior warden;
Ohio Knox, secretary; B. F. Clayton, treasurer; S. A. Jones,
senior deacon; D. W. Bomff, junior deacon; J. W. Carter, chaplain,
and A. B. Rayburn, tyler.
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
The most notable event in the early days was the great fire,
which, in March, 1882, destroyed the main portion of the town,
but the buildings destroyed were rapidly replaced.
The terrible cyclone that wrought destruction in Grove township,
passed near old Macedonia, and was plainly seen from there
as it passed on towards Wheeler's Grove.
Long before this an occurrence happened that should not be
omitted. It appears that in 1859, at a shooting match, into
which whiskey entered pretty largely, a young man named Alf.
Pierce lost his life. At the time a man, named Batchelor,
kept a store where the old town still stands and with his
family lived in rooms in the rear of the store. The merchant
sold whiskey to the crowd during the match, but towards evening
the boys, getting boisterous, the merchant closed the store
and retired to the back rooms with his little family. After
a while some of the young men wanted more whiskey, and, the
front being closed, they went around to the rear and entered,
at the same time demanding more liquor, and, on being refused,
became abusive, whereupon Batchelor took down his gun and
shot one of them named Alf. Pierce, dead. It caused great
excitement, and during the trial that followed, nearly the
entire population of the township were present. Mr. Batchelor
was defended by Judge A. V. Larimer and D. W. Price. The latter
in the closing argument made the effort of his life and for
nearly a half century it has had no equal at the Pottawattamie
county bar, and the verdict was not guilty.
During the nearly half century that has intervened great
changes have occurred here as well as elsewhere. The railroad
has invaded this quiet nook a young city as a natural result
has sprung into existence, supplanting the old village, while
the almost boundless prairies have been transformed into as
fine farms as can be found anywhere.
So far the events related applied to the township, which
has been reduced to twenty-four sections, by cutting off twelve
in forming the township of Carson.
The town of Macedonia was incorporated in 1892 with the following
officers: Mayor, J. M. Kelley; recorder, S. H. Hopkins; marshal
and street commissioner, W m. Marshall; treasurer, T. 1. Clark;
council, E. E. Smith, W. Dye, T. J. Young, E. H. Sempel, E.
B. Lane and A. I. Mitchell, M. D.
At this writing it has one bank, one hotel, two general stores,
one restaurant, one hardware and furniture store, two drug
stores, one elevator, one implement house, one livery stable,
one lumber yard, one brick yard, one meat market, two blacksmith
The Methodists and Presbyterians each have churches. It has
a graded school with principal and four assistants. The fraternal
order are represented by one Masonic lodge, one of Odd Fellows,
one of Modern Woodmen and Royal Neighbors. It has also a neat
opera house and a newspaper, the Botna Valley News, one milliner
and dressmaking establishment and two barber shops.
The present city administration is as follows: Mayor, J.
HISTORY OF POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY
recorder, H. K. Dye; marshal, W. L. Hobson; aldermen, A.
M. Miller, Grant Pilling, Milton Osler, H. A. Smith, J. M.
Kelley and T. C. Nickey.
The town, according to the census of 1905, had one hundred
and nineteen persons of school age, of which sixty-four were
males and fifty-five females.
The township, exclusive of town of Macedonia, had, males
ninety-five, females eighty-eight.
The board of directors are E. A. Seaberg, president; G. T.
Clayton, secretary, and W. J. Hamilton, treasurer.
The township officers are as follows: Trustees, N. L. Hobson,
John R. Maynes and A. C. Lewis; clerk, Thos. I. Clark; constables,
W. L. Hobson and Abe Branden; assessor, J. M. Coons.
Although this is one of the smallest townships, it possesses
as good soil as can be found on earth, with streams that are
utilized for power, fair groves of timber and quarries of
stone,. and is occupied by as progressive and up-to-date people
as can be found anywhere.