HISTORY OF IOWA.
This county is one of the most populous, popular, and, at the same time, conservative counties of Iowa. It is rich, without being aggressive; secure, without being assertive; in other words, a fine body of land, owned by a fine class of people, Harrison county has a right to be proud of herself.
Lying on the Missouri River, in the fourth tier from the southern boundary, Harrison is one of the western border counties of the state; is twenty-four miles north and south by an average of about twenty-seven east and west, and contains a superficial area of nearly six hundred and sixty square miles.
Like most of the counties in Iowa bordering the Missouri River, Harrison county presents a greater variety of surface configuration than is found in the inland counties to the eastward. A number of streams, that are more or less fully described in the histories of adjoining counties, gain the Missouri bottoms within the limits of this county, issuing from the uplands through the bluffs, causing them to assume those strikingly picturesque and peculiar shapes characteristic of the scenery of the valley of the middle Missouri. Nearly every portion of the county is well watered and drained by clear, sparkling streams and brooklets, which flow diagonally across its territory in a general southwest direction. The principal of these water-courses are the Boyer, Soldier and Little Sioux Rivers, and Wilson, Pigeon and Mosquito Creeks, several of which are of considerable size, and afford along their course in this county a number of excellent mill sites, only a portion of which have been improved. The valley of the Boyer is a beautiful tract of alluvial land, from one-half to two miles in width, bounded on either hand by gently ascending slopes until it nears the Missouri bottoms, where the surroundings become more abrupt and bold. The curse of the Little Sioux in this county is mostly through the bottoms, though where it merges from the uplands it is marked by bluffs of peculiar interest, whose tops are conical peaks, flanked by sharp-crested, spur-like ridges. One of the most beautiful valleys of this slope is that of the Soldier River, which is bordered by bluffs which are unrivaled in the variety and picturesque beauty of their scenery. The bottoms slope gently from the foot of the bluffs toward the river, and form well-defined terraces, which afford beautiful rural situations. The valleys of Pigeon and Mosquito Creeks, in the southeast, are margined by high sloping upland, and their beds occupied by tracts of rich alluvial lands, which are unsurpassed for beauty and fertility. The current of the Missouri River, which bounds this county on the west, is very rapid, with a deep, constantly changing channel, often cutting off whole sections
of land in one season. These bottoms are vast level plains, varying in width from four to ten miles, and are bordered on the east by beautiful rounded bluffs, rising from one to three hundred feet above the river level. They are traversed by low benches or undulations, which, running more or less parallel to the river, are intervened by low grounds that afford natural drainage channels, that receive and confine within bounds much of the surplus waters of the Missouri in seasons of freshets, which would otherwise flood extensive tracts of the best land for agricultural purposes in the West. A belt of cottonwood timber extends through the county up and down the river, from one-half to six miles in width, interspersed with elm, mulberry, walnut, willow, ash, etc. The cottonwood grows very large and tall. In passing over the bottoms through the timber, a person will observe a streak of very heavy cottonwood timber, and then of tall willow trees from a foot to three and four feet each in circumference. The willow follows the old bed of the river, and as soon as the channel changes and leaves the bed dry it springs up rapidly, and when the bed of the river is raised to a certain height, then cottonwood crowds in, and a dense forest is soon made. The soil in the bottom is very rich and deep, producing every kind of grain and vegetables in the greatest abundance. Corn grows very large. The grass is said to be so rich and luxuriant that cattle will keep fat on it even in winter without cutting or curing. Many farmers in mild winters have let their cattle range in the bottoms without any feed, pasturing them on the grass and keeping them in good order. Water underlies the soil of the bottoms at the depth of fourteen feet, and wherever you find water there you find quicksand. It is supposed that the whole bottom, from the bluffs of the Nebraska side to the bluffs in Iowa, has been one vast lake, and the Missouri River running through it has filled it up and formed the bottom lands. There is every indication of it. Every few rods along the bottoms you will see evidence of where once has flowed the channel of the river. The settlers on the bottoms say they are getting drier every year, and less subject to inundation. The agent who located swamp lands in 1857 relates that he rode for miles through water where there is now fine, high and dry farming lands. The low places along the bottoms are fast filling up, and where once were ponds and marshes is now dry land with good farms upon them. The Missouri bottoms will be at no distant day covered with finest farms in the Union.
There are quiet a chain of lakelets commencing near the mouth of the Little Sioux river and continuing along the bottoms. Some of them are near the bluffs, others out in the bottoms and near the river, while all have at one day been in the channel of the river or are the old bed of the Missouri. Many of these little lakes have fish in them; and are beautiful and nice little sheets of water. The channels of the streams in the bottoms are, or have been, changing.
The mouth of the Soldier River is one mile from where it was twelve years ago, and the Missouri also, at this point, is over a mile from where it was in 1855. The land in the old channel is as high as that of the surrounding country; no more subject to inundations, and is covered with a heavy growth of cottonwood. The lakelets, it is said, are fast filling up, and perhaps when the country becomes settled and cultivated will entirely dissapear [disappear]. Persons digging wells frequently find logs, driftwood, bark, etc., several feet below the surface. A farmer digging a well recently, near what is know as Soldier's Lake, found a large pocket knife fourteen feet below the surface.
The soil in the uplands consist of the light colored deposits of the bluff formation, which does not differ materially from that in the bottoms, except that the silicious material of which it is largely composed is more finely comminuted, and has a less am0unt of vegetable matter or humus. As the soil of the uplands and bottoms was derived from the same source, it only differs in degree, that in the former reaching a depth of sixty or one hundred feet below the surface. It is said that dirt taken out of wells sixty feet deep seems to produce as well as that on the surface. The soil is easily cultivated, and produces all the grains and vegetables common to this latitude in great abundance. It does not cave; wells do not have to be walled, except for a few feet down from the top and at the waters edge. The soil never bakes, but can be plowed without injury in wet weather. It stands both wet and dry weather remarkably. A failure of crops has never been known. The soil in the bottoms is more of a clay nature, and in wet weather is very sticky.
Harrison contains more timber than any other county on the Missouri slope, yet it is limited in extent, its distribution being governed by circumstances favorable to its preservation , and is consequently found in the deep shaded ravines that crowd up into the bluffs, and along the small bluff ascents. But, as observation has repeatedly shown in all parts of the state, forests are not necessarily confined to the valleys and moister localities, and thrive as well in one location as another, when the devastation of the prairie fires are checked for a period of sufficient duration to allow the young trees a few years of unretarded growth. Hundreds of acres of prairie have been overgrown with thrifty groves of vigorous young timber within the memory of early settlers, which period extends back scarce a score of years. These tracts of young forest add a pleasing feature to the landscape in these beautiful undulating divides, as that near Magnolia, and Harris' grove south of Logan, attests. Fine groves are met with in the valleys of the Soldier and Little Sioux Rivers, while the banks of the Missouri throughout its course in this county are lined with a belt of fine forest growth.
Numerous orchards have been set out in the county, and apples, pears, quinces and grapes grow in abundance, and of excellent quality. Some peaches have been raised, while in the bottom lands the finest quality of wild grapes are found in great profusion. In 1867 over five hundred barrels of wine were made from these grapes and shipped to Chicago, besides large quantities which was used at home.
Limestone is found, the best and most extensive quarries being found near Logan, from which a considerable amount is annually shipped to Council Bluffs and other points. There are also two or three other quarries which have been worked to some extent in other parts of the county.
As a stock-raising and producing county, Harrison has had quite a reputation, the native grasses being very nutritious and affording excellent pasturage at nearly all seasons of the year. Fat cattle from this county have for years been famous in Chicago markets and command the highest prices.
Daniel Brown was the first white man who settled in the county, locating where the village of Calhoun now is, April 3, 1848. His nearest neighbor was twelve miles distant, his nearest mill twenty-two miles, and nearest post office Council Bluffs, twenty-five miles. He had to go to St. Joseph, Missouri, one hundred and fifty miles for provisions that season, and while he was gone the Indians came and robbed his family of provisions and all the necessary articles of comfort. When he returned he found his family destitute of food and clothing. Soon after his return the Indians stole all his horses, and all those of the other settlers in the county. He and his son followed them for several miles, trying to recapture them, but were unsuccessful. They fired a number of shots at the Indians. The Indians frequently killed his cattle and annoyed him a great deal during the first few years of his residence in the county. The following were also among the first settlers, Silas Condit, two brothers by the name of Chase, Charles Lenpeta, James Hardy, Dr. Robert McGovern, Andrew Allen and Jacob Patee.
The county was organized in 1853, when Stephen King elected County Judge; P.G Cooper, District Court Clerk; Chester Hamilton, Sheriff; William Cooper, Treasurer and Recorder; Geroge White, Surveyor; and Jacob Huffman, Coroner. The first county court was held August 5, 1853, by Steven King, Judge. First road petition present was for the establishment of a road, commencing at the south line of the county, running thence to the residence of Daniel Brown, and thence to Magnolia. The first mortgage on record was made by Samuel Jack to James Jack, acknowledged by Frank Steed, County Judge of Pottawattamie County. First deed on record was made by Ezra and Catharine Vincent, to Walter Berenger, conveying the northeast of the southeast of section 8, township 79, range 48. The first wedding was celebrated June 9, 1853, Stephen King County Judge, uniting
in the holy bonds of wedlock, John Jones and Miss Elizabeth Outhouse. The second occurred on the 16th of the following August, when the same judge united Samuel McGaven and Miss Mary M. Harden. The total number of marriages since the organization up to January 1, 1868, was four hundred and ninety.
The first district court was held by Honorable S.H. Riddle in May, 1855, at which time the first cause on the docket was William Kennedy vs D. Pate, while the total number were fur civil and one criminal. The first grand jury were: Creed Saunders, James Garnett, John Conger, Chester Staley, H. Locklin, T. Meadus, P.R. Sharp, Thomas Sellers, S.A. Seaman, Solomon Barnett, John Deal, I.H. Holton, D.E. Rainard, Silas Rue and Solomon Garnett. D.E. Brainard was appointed foreman. John Jeffary was the first person naturalized, and Thomas Thompson the second. The number of cases since the organization of the county up to November, 1867, were, civil, 749, and ninety-one criminal.
In the Fall of 1853, a party of Indians camped on Willow Creek. The settlers were afraid that they would commit some depredations, organized a company and went to drive them off. Among the number was a gentleman from Virginia, who had been a captain in the Virginia militia, and had brought his broad sword and regimentals with him, and was "decked out" in full dress and took command. He boasted of his bravery and would show the bloody red skins a trick or two" The company set out on horseback, marching in gallant style, led by their brave and daring officerin his own imagination. The bloddy savages were to be exterminated, a brilliant victory to be obtained, and the troopers were to return home covered all over with glory. While marching along to the scene of conflict, they discovered the Indian encampment about a mile ahead across Willow Creek. They halted, commenced firing, and continued it for some time. The Indians hearing it, some half a dozen warriors got on their ponies and rode towards the troopers to see what was the matter. The latter seeing the warriors approaching, suddenly imagined that they would be surrounded, overpowered , slaughtered, and scalped, broke for their homes as fast as their horses could carry them. Many of the troopers were so badly scared that they did not know their own houses, but went on past them. The warriors seeing the fleeing troopers, raised a big laugh, and rode back to their encampment in safety.
For several years the Indians annoyed the settlers a great deal by stealing or begging. Companies were frequently organized to drive them off, and some times there would be some shooting, but no one was every hurt. Mr. Brown states that in 1853 there was a large party of Indians encamped on the Boyer; he with twenty-six others went out to drive them off. The came near the encampment and formed a battle line. The chief and a half-breed got on their ponies and rode out to them. The chief proposed to
make a treaty with the whites, and it was made with the condition that the Indians should leave the county. There were 120 warriors with their women and children. The Indians left the county.
In the Fall of 1853 quite a large party of Ottoe Indians were encamped within eight miles of Magnolia. One evening the settlers informed them that they had better leave or the Sioux would attack them before morning. In the night a firing was heard by the settlers. They went upon a high bluff to see what was the matter, and sure enough the Sioux were pouring a heavy fire into the encampment of the Ottoes. The latter were screaming and yelling with all vengeance, and fled into the Missouri bottoms. The next day the settlers attacked them and drove them across the Missouri River. they swam the river on their ponies. Harrison County seemed to have been a hunting ground for the Indians, as no tribe resided in the county.
On Willow Creek, about six miles from Magnolia, there are old ruins of some kind of house that has the appearance of having been built out of burnt brick.
Mondamin, one of the heavy shipping points of the Lower Missouri Valley, is situated thirty-eight miles north of Council Bluffs on the Sioux City & Pacific Railway. The oldest settlers on the town-site is Capt. John Noyes, who with Clarke Ruffcorn, his son-in-law, came her from the east and settled in the township in the fall of 1856. The township at that time was a fraction of Raglan township. It was subsequently named Morgan, which name it still bears. Although Capt. Noyes is the oldest settler in Mondamin, he preceded Mr. E. J. Hagerman, the present postmaster, but a few weeks. The former gentleman arrived by boat, while Mr. Hagerman came by team. Both started from the same place together and, but the difference in the time required for the journey intervened between their arrivals. Previous to the arrival Messrs. Noyes and Ruffcorn, there were but four settlers in the township. Mr. David W. Fletcher, although there was no thought of a town being located in the vicinity at that time, had just previous to the advent of the gentleman named established a general merchandise store, and shortly after the arrival of Mr. Hagerman, the two formed a partnership. With one exception, no other business house was erected in the place prior to its platting, in winter of 1867-8, when the railway was first laid through the town. The exception noted was a general store erected by Capt. John Noyes, some month later.
The postoffice was established in Mondamin in the summer of the year 1868, and the D.W. Fletcher before-mentioned was commissioned as postmaster. Mr. Fletcher held the position less
than a year, when he was succeeded by the present postmaster, Mr. Hagerman. As the salary attached to the office amounted to but twelve dollars per year there was not a great deal of wrangling over the appointment. The office at present, though having considerable business, is not a money-order office.
The town was platted in the winter of 1867-8 by John I. Blair and others of the Iowa Land Company. At first, when the railroad was built, no town was platted, the calculation being to locate the town some distance north of the present site. Measures to this end were actually taken, on account of the unwillingness of settlers to part with the required land. Some of the settlers, however, reconsidered matters, and the town was eventually located where it now stands. The site comprises 160 acres, though it is not all platted. Eighty acres of this land was sold to the owners of the town-site by Capt. Noyes, and the remainder by Messrs. Fletcher and George Morgareidge, in the fall and winter of 1868. Previous to the building of the railroad, no though of a town in this particular locality was had.
The oldest building now on the town-site is the residence of Dr. T.H. Alison. This structure was erected in the fall of 1868.
Although the vicinity of Mondamin is not, strictly speaking, a wheat country, it has other resources of magnitude, and its trade in corn is not second to that of any town on the line of the Sioux City & Pacific railway, north of Missouri Valley Junction. This promises to continue, as a twenty-five year resident of the county gave the assurance that in the time specified, there had never been a failure, and but few small crops. Mondamin has cribbing capacity for 100,000 bushels of this grain, and the number of bushels handled by dealers during the year closed was 200,000. The coming year promises an increase.
In addition to corn, cattle, hogs, wood and other country products, are exported in large quantities. One dealer of Mondamin paid fifty thousand dollars last year for hogs alone.
Mondamin having reach about two hundred population, her enterprising citizens took measures at the October, 1881, term of the Circuit Court to file articles of incorporation, with a view of securing a village charter. In sequence thereto, an election to secure ratification by the citizens was had, and a mayor, clerk and five trustees, were elected. Subsequently it was discovered that in accordance with the revised statutes, a sixth trustee would be necessary to give legality to the incorporation, and another election was held. The second election resulted in the re-election of the officers first chosen, and F.M. Dupray as an additional trustee. The full board was: E.J. Hagerman, Mayor; A. Spooner, Clerk; Byron Storde, Thomas Reagan, Z.T. Noyes, E. Jones, P.C. Spooner, F.M. Dupray, Trustees. The first meeting of the board was held November 26th, 1881.
One of the most potential influences in the incorporation of the place, was the The Mondamin Independent, a neat little six-column folio newspaper published weekly, the first number of which was issued August 13th, 1881, by W.H. Wonder, who, a year before, had established in Mondamin The Musical Banner, a four-page musical journal. Besides conducting these journals, the publisher practices his profession of teaching and publishing music, organizing musical conventions, etc. The results of the incorporation are beginning to make themselves apparent in the shape of new sidewalks, etc.
The general business of Mondamin, classified, is as follows: Three dry goods and grocery stores, two grocery and notion stores, one drug store, jewelry store, hotel, restaurant, two hardware and tin-shops, furniture store, blacksmith shop, wagon shop, two livery stables, shoe shop, stock shipper, three grain dealers, meat market, billiard hall and saloon, agricultural implement dealer, lumber yard, harness shop, carpenter shop, dealer in music books and sheet music. There is also a notary public and insurance agent. The bar has one representative here, and medicine three.
CHURCHES, SCHOOLS AND SOCIETIES
Mondamin Congregational Church SocietyThis society was organized with about thirty members, in the early part of 1876, by Rev. C.N. Lyman, of Onawa. Mr. Lyman still ministers to the spiritual wants of the congregation, and holds services in the school house once in two weeks. Although somewhat at a disadvantage for the present regarding a place of meeting, arrangements have been made for the erection of a suitable house of worship the coming spring, and over $700 have already been subscribed for the purpose. The society, owing to the departure from the vicinity of a number of its original members, is now not quite as large as it was at the outset, and at present has but about twenty-five members. The society has also a Sabbath school in connection therewith, of which P.C. Spooner is superintendent. The average attendance is about forty-five, and services are held every Sunday morning in the school house.
MethodistAlthough there is no organized Methodist Society, of any branch, in Mondamin, there are a number of adherents to the doctrines of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and for their benefit services are held in the school house once in two weeks by Rev. H.J. Smith, of Little Sioux.
Other Religious SectsAlthough there are numerous representatives of other religious sects in this vicinity, particularly Universalists, there is no other organized society beyond the one mentioned above. The sect particularized has occasionally been preached to by various itinerant brethren of their belief.
Mondamin Public SchoolsAlthough the town is incorporated, Mondamin, as yet, has not been made an independent school
district, but the limits within the jurisdiction of the town school is known as Sub-District No. 1 of Morgan Township. It is believed, however, by those in a position to know, that the sub-district has sufficient population to warrant its admission as an independent district, and that this consummation will soon be attained. There are 100 pupils in the sub-district. The sub-district erected a one room building, 30x40 feet in dimensions, in the fall of 1871, when the sub-district was first organized, but the increased attendance has necessitated the renting of another room. This difficulty, however, is soon to be met by a larger public edifice. The first sub-director was E.M. Harvey. The present
one is E.J. Hagerman.
Mondamin Lodge No. 392, I.O.O.F.This lodge was organized May 22d, 1879, with charter members as follows: F.M. Dupray, N.G.; E. Jones, V.G.; J.A. Yost, S/' A.W. Garrison, P.S.; F.W. Brooks, C.M. Gilmore, Byron Strode, Thomas Byers, B.J. Faylor, members. Six other members were also initiated the same evening, and of these several were immediatlely place in officers' vacant chairs. The lodge was organized by D.G.M.J. C. Miliman, of Logan. The lodge at present contains thirty-four members, with the following officers: B.J. Taylor, N.G.; Benjamin Morrow, V.G.; J.A. Yost, S.; R. B. Hall, T.; F.M. Dupray, W.; B. Strode, C.; T. Morrow, R.S.N.G.; T.C.F. Brenneman, L.S.N.G.; C. Gilmore, O.G.; William Griffith, I.G.; A. Forrester, R.S.V.G.; E. Jones, L.S.V.G.; Anton Uhrig, R.S.S.; Z.T. Noyes, L.S.S. The lodge which is in a flourishing condition; meets in Noyes' hall every Saturday evening.
Mondamin LyceumThis society has just been organized with thirty members, and its history is yet to be made. The object is intellectual and social development.B. Strode is the President and the Society holds its meetings in the schoolhouse on Friday night of each week.
Mondamin Chorus ChoirThis society consists of about fifteen members, and it is non-sectarian in character. The object is musical cultivation. The choir meets every week in the schoolhouse.
Visit our family of homepages and join
Copyright © 2000 - 2001 D. J.
All Rights Reserved
Webmaster: D. J. Coover - firstname.lastname@example.org