Buena Vista County, IA
IAGenWeb Project


Incorporated in 1875 with a pop. of 600.

Newell was named after John Newell, vice president of the Dubuque and Pacific Railroad.

The first settlers on the present site of Newell came there in the year 1869, but it was not until the following year, when the railroad was built through the county, that the town began to assume any definite form. In the month of June a station was established with E. W. Stetson as representative of the Dubuque & Sioux City railway company, the predecessor to the Illinois Central. In the month of August the town was laid out in lots and these were placed on sale immediately following. C. J. Gregg became the first station agent under the Illinois Central management and served for some time.

The first business men to cast their lot with the new town were George B. Sargent, a merchant, who opened a stock of general merchandise in a small building which was erected the same summer that the town was established. Messrs. Sweezey and Stetson that summer also opened a lumber yard and agricultural implement house. In the fall G. W. Stevens opened his railroad hotel to accommodate the traveling public, which in that early day was quite numerous. Many people were coming into the county to look for land, and many stopped at Newell, seeking farms in the fertile Coon township, which then embraced Providence, Newell, Coon and parts of Grant, as they are at present constituted.

G. B. Sargent was the first postmaster and Jesse J. Allee was his assistant. Mr. Allee also loaned money and bought and sold county warrants and notes. The first building to be erected in the town was the Sweezey & Stetson lumber office, while N. W. Condron built the second. Mr. Sargent built the third, which was his store building with a hall in the second story, and for some years this was the largest structure of the kind in the county. Hon. E. Criss, of Sac City, built the Newell hotel, and in and near the town several residences were also constructed that first year of Newell's history as a municipality.

Business at once began, and it is said that Sweezey & Stetson shipped the first car load of grain ever sent from the county in the month of August, 1870. Other business firms engaged in trade, among which was L. H. Gordon, lumber yard; O. H. Hazard, general merchandise, Orson Lee, saloon, and L. H. Bunker, a harness shop. In 1872 H. E. Harris and N. W. Condron opened a bank and real estate office, doing a good business from the beginning. Two grain warehouses were built in 1872 and B. H. E. Sickles built a kiln and commenced to make bricks. This was the first in the county.

Thomas Kannally was the first section foreman and he held this position for eight years until he removed to a farm which he bought north of town.

Newell was incorporated in 1876 and at the first election L. H. Gordon was elected mayor. The council was composed of O. H. Hazard, S. A. Parker, E. G. Chandler, W. A. Welch and L. T. Sweezey. Mr. Gordon acted as mayor for two years, being succeeded by K. I. Alexander. Since then F. P. Moulton, E. W. Foy, G. L. Dobson, William Borman, P. H. Judge, W. H. Mentor, H. S. Hunter, E. H. Cunningham and Guy E. Mack have served as mayor. The present city government is as follows: Guy E. Mack, mayor; Geo. W. Chaney, treasurer; J. H. Williams, clerk; J. C. Brown, assessor; M. W. Layman, marshal; and F. G. Redfield, J. T. Norton, H. C. Rogers, H. A. Vogel, J. M. Brooks and W. A. Waterman, members of the council. Mr. Waterman has served his town for twenty-five years as a member of the city council.

From the beginning Newell was handicapped in her growth by the topography of the country upon which the town was built. In times of high water the town would be surrounded by water, almost cutting it off from outside communication. Nothing could be done as an absence of "fall" prevented natural drainage. But finally the citizens took the matter in hand and by the expenditure of a great deal of money a system of artificial drainage was devised, whereby a canal or large ditch, nine and one-half miles in length, with four miles of branch ditches, was constructed to carry off the surface water deposited from the surrounding country. This proved effective and has proved of great value in a material and sanitary way. This project was bitterly opposed by many of the people who were immediately interested, but the men who proposed it gave their personal guaranty of the cost and pushed the project through. When it was completed and the immense benefit it conferred became known, everyone was satisfied and pleased with the result. Jesse J. Allee was the prime mover in this, as well as in many other movements for the benefit of his town and community.

From the earliest times Newell has had a splendid location for business. In early days the town was located on the direct and main traveled road from Spirit Lake, Spencer, Sioux Rapids and other northern Iowa towns to Sac City and Carroll. This brought immense patronage, as the road was bridged and about the only thoroughfare from the north to the south part of the county. Later its contiguous territory has remained unrestricted and it has today a fine and prosperous country with which to trade.

Many of the old settlers, who came to the county forty years ago, still reside in and about Newell, and they look with pride and satisfaction to the high degree of material welfare that the once swampy land has attained. As an illustration Mr. Allee has given the brief outline of the life of William Porath, who came to Newell in the early '70s. He was poor, nature had been unkind to him and left him a cripple, and with nothing but an indomitable determination to succeed, he commenced life under adverse circumstances. He assisted in the Stevens Hotel, worked out by the day, and finally, accumulating a small sum of money, bought a piece of land that seemed to be irreclaimable. But he went to work and reclaimed it, and he succeeded so well that in the years that have gone he has gathered about him enough of this world's goods to make him one of the wealthiest of Buena Vista county farmers.

ROYAL LODGE NO, 428 A. F. & A. M.
The Masonic lodge was organized June 7, 1883, with about fifteen charter members, the following being the first officers: L. T. Swezey, master; A. Pratt, senior warden; J. V. Compton, junior warden. There are very few of the charter members still living in Newell, S. R. Driver and J. J. Allee probably being the only ones. The lodge was organized in the hall they occupy at present, but they have since used two other halls, and then moved back into the original hall. The present officers of the lodge are: Master, H. C. Gordon; senior warden, Mr. A. M. Morse; junior warden, Thos. Householder; secretary, Chris. Aroe; .treasurer, S. R. Driver; S. D., Chas. Collins; J. D., Mr. Halrick; Tyler, Percy Moorehouse; stewards, E. C. Avery and Guy Mack. The present membership numbers about forty. (From 1909 history book)

Rex Lodge No.242, was organized August 14, )890. The following were its first officers: a. a., Thos. w. Anguin; V. a., Perry J. Miller; M. A., J. L. Mankey; M. F., C. E. Davis; O. G., Henry Fisher; C. C., John P. Lawton; Prel., E. Trumbeur; M. E., W. H. Mentor, Jr. ; I. G., Casper Althen; K. of R. & S., C. W. Bean. There are fifty-one members of the, lodge, the following being the present officers: P. C., E. C. Avery; C. C., C. A. Allison; V. C., Benton Harkins ; Prel., H. C. Gordon; K. of R. & S., H. A. Harvey; M. of E., F. G. Redfield; M. of W., J. L. Mankey; M. of A., Oscar Samuelson; I. G., P. C. Peterson; O. G., John Rodda, Jr. Trustees: H. C. Gordon, A. J. Larson, and J. P. Jensen. (From 1909 history book)

I. O. O. F. LODGE No.232.
The Odd Fellow lodge is without doubt the oldest lodge in the town of Newell. It was first organized shortly before 1872, but of the organizers there is scarcely a member now living in Newell. The building in which they had I their hall was burned, and their charter and records were destroyed. But the lodge was reorganized and obtained a new charter October 17, 1872, For many years they used what is now the K. of P. hall, but what was then the I. O. O. F. hall. About four years ago the lodge purchased a one story building on Main street, which was raised to two stories, the upper rooms being used for lodge rooms, and the ground floor rented for storerooms. It is the intention of the lodge to have the ground floor fitted up for a kitchen and social rooIllS. The following are the present officers: N. G., G. M. Allee; V. G., A. E. Couch; recording secretary, W. J. Newton; financial secretary, J. H. Williams; treasurer, F. G. Redfield; warden, Henry Pratt; conductor, B. Harkins; chap- lain, John Evans; I. G., J. a. Thompson; 0. G., Frank WilliaIllS; R. S. S., J. F. Bellows; L. S. S., Henry Point; R. S. to N. G., N. Parsons; L. S. to N. G., J. S. aheney; R. S. to V. G., Matt aheney; L. S. to V. G., George Rogers. Trustees: H. a. Rogers, Thos. Mankey, and M. Parsons. The lodge has now a membership of one hundred and fifteen.

The Rebekah lodge of Newell had its beginning on the 18th day of October, 1894. It was organized with forty-nine charter members, having the following as its first officers: N. G., Mrs. Helen Pratt; V. G., Mary Magness; secretary, Agnes Morse; treasurer, Fannie Ellis. There are one hundred and seventeen members in the lodge, and the following are its present officers: N. G ., Christina Sharp; V. G ., Hattie Cheney; secretary, Comina P. Davie; treasurer, Martha Rust; financial secretary, Anna Point. (From 1909 history book)

The present Eastern Star lodge began its existence October 24, 1906. About fifteen years before this, however, a lodge was organized, but it was disbanded, and remained so for several years, until the organization of the new lodge in 1906. The charter members of the new lodge were: Mrs. Sophia Anderson, Miss Iva Aroe, Mrs. Mary Beason, Mrs. Myrtle Collins, Mrs. Ida Davie, Mrs. Alice Hoyne, Mrs. Jennie Holtz, Mrs. Geraldine Householder, Mrs. Alice Jensen, Mrs. Kaia Larson, Mrs. Agnes Morse, Mrs. Sarah Pratt and Miss Lulu Moorehouse. The lodge meets in the K. of P. hall, the second Tuesday in each month. There is an enrollment of forty members, with the following officers: W. M., Mrs. Ida Davie; A. M., Mrs. Alice Jensen; secretary, Miss Lulu Moorehouse.

The Modern Woodmen of America were organized in Newell October 3, 1891. There were sixteen charter members, as follows: J. P. Lawton, F. A. Gilkey, Judson Woodring, E. Carson, J. T. Norton, W. A. Waterman, A. B. Spencer, G. W. Chaney, C. Jefferson, C. J. Robinson, James Nelson, James Jensen, J. L. Stocker, 0. S. Coe, W. L. Forbes, and E. Traumbaur. The lodge occupies the K. of P. hall. The present membership is one hundred and thirty-three, and the following are its officers: H. C. Gordon, V. C.; W. H. Wright, W. A.; C. L. Barnard, clerk; G, W. Chaney, banker; C. A. Allison, escort; F. C. Foley, physician; Ed Clark, watchman; W. L. Holtz, sentry.

The Court of Honor, composing sixty-three charter members, was organized in Newell on the 12th day of October, 1898. Its first officers were as follows : H. C. Gordon, W. C,; Viola Hains, W. V. C.; J. P. Lawton, recorder; Mary Lewis, chaplain; T. A. Powell, treasurer; Anna L. Point, conductor; F. L. Point, guard; Frank Sauter, sentinel; F. C. Foley, medical director. There is at present a membership of fifty-three, with the following officers : Mrs. Ida Davie, chancellor; Mrs. Mary Brown, vice chancellor; Mrs. Anna M. Point, conductor; Mrs. Lydia Stocker, chaplain; H. C, Gordon, recorder; F. L. Point, guard; J. C. Brown, sentinel; F. C. Foley, M. D.

The organization of the Danish Brotherhood of America was effected December 17, 1901. There were eighteen charter members of whom the following were the first officers: Jens Christensen, P. P. ; Niels P. Jensen, P. ; Matt Nielsen, V. P. ; Niels P. Jensen, S. ; Hans Christensen, T. ; Peter Mathiesen, G. ; O. P. Olson, I. G.; Hans Mathiesen, O. G. ; August Nielsen, T. R. The lodge meets in the K. of P. hall. There is an enrollment of forty-three members, with the present officers : P. C. Peterson, president; Carl P. Hoag, vice president; August Nielsen, ex-president; Chris. Frederiksen, secretary; L. P. Madisen, treasurer . (From 1909 history book)

Auxiliary to the Danish Brotherhood is the Danish Sisters society which was instituted on the 21st day of April, 1908. The following persons constituted the first officers: Ida M. Mathisen, P. P. ; Engeline M. Hoeg, P.; Marie H. Pedersen, V. P. ; Tillie Christensen, S. ; Laurine Mathisen, T. ; Christine S. Jensen, G.; Christine M. Paulson, I. G.; Dorthea K. Kinnerup, O. G., The name of the lodge is Henriette Lodge, No.109. (From 1909 history book, and still in existence in Newell)

G. A. R.
On May 27, 1886, the following veterans of the Civil war organized their ibranch of the Grand Army of the Republic: P. T, Anderson, F. H. Smith, W. A. Welch, C. F. Chipman, W. H. Stott, E. A. Knapp, J. T. Chaney, J. L. Doxsee, J. Hunt, H. J. Scoville, M. Tyfe, Sylvester Culven, Joseph Schultz, R. H. Smith, Loyal Kuney, and Darnel Wood.

The Woman 's Relief Corps was organized in Newell on March 15, 1894, composed of the following members: Maggie Doxsee, Ida Cunningham, Mary Chaney, Belle Norton, Lucy Stetson, Agnes L. Miller, Mary Parsons, Ollie Gilkey, Caroline Mankey, Helen Scoville, Mary Brown, Isabella Davie, Lottie A. Robinson, Sophia Anderson, Eldona Redfield, Arena Blakesley, Carrie Schultz, Alice Rogers, Matilde Tutell, Catherine Fulmer, Lavina Tutell, Maggie Tutell, Augusta Patzke, Jane Parsons, Emma Stott, Helen Pratt, Ella Shumway, Myrtle Parker; Fanny Ellis, Corrina Parsons, Kate Forbes and Julia Parker.

The Seventh Day Adventists of Newell organized themselves during the latter part of May, 1908. The organization thus formed was the Sunday school, and sixteen persons constituted the membership. Elmer Olson was elected the leader for the society, Flossy Atwood, superintendent of the Sunday school; Anna Peterson, secretary; and Mrs. M. L. Peterson, treasurer. The meetings were held for several weeks in a hall, a vacant store building, and when that became occupied, they met around at the homes of the members. Anna Peterson is the superintendent of the Sunday school, and Elmer Olson the secretary, the latter being also the leader of the society. There is a present membership of nineteen persons.

Newell Homestead N 0. 678, of the Yeomen lodge was organized February 22, 1901, with about thirty-five charter members. The following were elected the first officers: G. L. Fredenberg, foreman; Maude B. Dodge, M. of C.; A. F. Morse, correspondent; D. B. Gillman; M. of A.; James O'Brien, physician; D, C. D. Fulmer, overseer; Albert Winter, watchman; Frank McFarland, sentinel. The lodge has a present membership of thirty-eight; the officers are constituted as follows: E. K. Bergmen, foreman; Agnes E. Morse correspondent; Charles Prentice, M. of A.; Mrs. Alta Dodge, M. of C.; C. H. Trabel, physician; M. Steger, overseer; Oscar Samuelson, watchman; S. Callahan, sentinel.

Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole.  Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa.  Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, 168-177.