Source: Osceola Centennial Issue 1851-1951, section 3, page 7.
Editors Note: This article is based on a manuscript found by Ashton and Sumner Jamison among their father, T.B. Jamison's, effects. T. B. was the son of Robert and Christiana Kyte Jamison who were the first permanent white settlers in Clarke county. Its author or the occasion for which it was written are not known, but clues within the manuscript set its date at 1909.
A family by the name of Richards came from Warren county and located a claim in the year 1850. If this is correct, they were the first white settlers in Osceola township so far as we have been able to learn. Alexander Collier settled in the south part of Osceola township in 1851. In May of that same year the William Gardner family moved fromWarren county and settled on a claim where they built a log house on what afterwards became the Jake Lingle farm.
In the Gardner family was Levi, son of William Gardner, and Miss Rachel M. Stark, daughter of Mrs. Gardner. On July 4, 1851, at their home located as stated, Levi Gardner and Rachel M. Stark were married; John Sherer, justice of the peace, officiating. The license was procured at Chariton, Iowa. This was the first marriage in Clarke county of which we have any knowledge and this couple are residents of Osceola at this date.
On August 16, 1851, county commissioners John Sherer, Bernard Arnold, and Dickinson Webster, Jr. were notified where the county seat was to be located. That same day the commissioners entered into an agreement with Howe and Richards to purchase 160 acres for the county seat. Jerry Jenks was the county surveyor and surveyed the 160 acres into lots, commencing the survey on August 29, 1851.
First Lots Sold
On October 13, 1851, the sale of lots was held and 25 lots brought $551.00. Terms of the sale were one-third in six months, one third in 12 months and the balance in 18 months. Bernard Arnold bought the first lot sold, being lot 8 in block 16, for $25. The lot on which the Howe hotel (later the Garner hotel) stands was purchased for $28.00 by John Sherer. Osceola lots were purchased by persons fro Chariton, Albia, Fairfield, Koesauqua and Warren county.
81 Votes Cast
At the general election held August 2, 1852 for state and county officers there were but two voting places in the county. One in Osceola township where 67 votes were cast and in Doyle where 14 were cast for a total of 81. Henry Allen was elected to represent Wapello, Monroe, Lucas and Clarke counties in the legislature. His opponent was W. H. H. Seind. Moses R. Lamson received 53 votes for clerk, beating Israel Miller.
Built First Hotel
John Sherer came to Osceola in the fall of 1852 and wintered in a double rail pen house situated at the southwest corner of the public square now occupied by the Pritchett block,and in the spring of 1853 he raised two hewed log houses on the lot now occupied by the Howe hotel, being lot 2 in block 14. McCaga Collier and Levi Gardner helped to raise these houses which were used as a hotel for a number of years.
People would go 10 miles to assist in a house raising. These houses had puncheon floors and clapboard roofs. When sawmills came, lumber was used instead of logs. McCaga Collier hauled the second load of lumber used in a house in Osceola. Adam and Jake Lingle located south of Osceola two miles in 1853 and were regarded as wealthy farmers as they owned several forties of timber, and timber was scarce. In 1854 land was entered within a half mile of Osceola at $1.25 per acre. This was the rolling land. To get the best land it was necessary to go out three or four miles from town.
Keokuk was the trading point for this country and it took two weeks to make a round trip with oxen, the only teams used for freighting in the early 50's. One dollar per hundred was the price for hauling. Salt was $10 per barrel and whisky was about the same price.
In marking out a road to travel over the prairie from South Mill to Osceola two yoke of oxen hitched to a 14-foot log were used. E. M. Smith and Edward Woodward, James Turner, Greenville Dodd, and others participated in marking out the way. Erve Smith rode seven miles to a neighbor's, William Bell, to borrow meal to make bread for some visitors from Indiana.
Off to Mill
Red Rock was the milling point and when E. M. Smith and Marinda E. Collier decided to get married, they found Judge John A. Lindsey, who issued the licenses for marriage, had gone to Red Rock; so they went to Chariton and got their license and were married there.
In the spring of 1854 John Sherer sold the hotel corner and the two log houses to L. D. Fowler and that corner has been used continuously as a hotel ever since. Before the present one was built, all three of them were moved off. That corner has never had a destructive fire, while over two thirds of the ground around the public square has been burned over, some of it more than once.
P. J. Goss had the contract for building the first court house which stood on the north side of the square. It was built in 1854 and was used for many years, then moved to the south part of town and made into a dwelling.In the fall of 1854 cholera visited Osceola and claimed for its victims seveal citizens of the town and surrounding country. It was supposed to have been brought here from the river in freight.
The first M.E. church class was in the summer of 1854. Eight persons were present: Mr. and Mrs. Dickinson Webster, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Fowler, Almira Lamson, Leaura Fowler and P. L. Fowler. a Sabbath school in which the study of the Bible was taken up was conducted in the same building. These meetings were held in a small building on the east side of the square.
The running race course was from the center of the alley on the east side of the square to the second street south of the square, a quarter of a mile. The first horse race I ever saw was over this course, December 25, 1854. There was no snow on the ground and it was a pleasant day. The purses was $10. A black horse owned by Mr. Clark won out over the bay horse owned by the Smith Mill people.
Paper Money Unreliable
Good milk cows sold for $7 to $9 each. Gold and silver was the desirable money. We had paper money but it was unreliable; might be regarded good today and worth nothing tomorrow.
The county charged 4 per cent per month on delinquent taxes, 48 per cent a year! It had been customary to sell the speculators and non residents land for tax but when the tax buyers came in and bid off the residents' land for taxes the fun began. The first man that did it came near being whipped. But a compromise was effected and after that taxes were paid more promptly.
The district school house stood on the lot now occupied by Senator Tallman and Benjamin Felger. D. B. Waterhouse, Maggie Duke, now Mrs. L. D. Bennett were among the first teachers of my recollection. The select, or higher schools, were taught by Profs. Blake, Lewis, Scott and Heacock. The M.E. church, court hose and other buildings were used as school rooms.
First White Child
Florence Amanda Lamson was the first white child born in Clarke county. (This is in variance with other reports, which says Elizabeth Kegley was born before Miss Lamson and was the first child born in Osceola - Ed.)
In April 1854 when we came to Osceola there were shocks of hay in the public square and I have seen the square burned off when it was very dangerous to the buildings on the south side. Prairie fires were almost as destructive then as cyclones in these days, for they would burn buildings and grain. In one instance several peopele were burned to death inWard township.
(Editor's note-- The manuscript ends with a single page containing the following names. It is assumed it is a list of the earliest settlers as recalled by the unkown writer); Lindsey, Jenks, Sherer, Butcher, Collier, Howe, Stephenson, Funston, Jamison, Chaney, Kennedy, Minton, Williams,Webster, Hall, Farley, Lewis, Jenkins, Robinson, Christy, Barnard, Glenn, Carder, McNeil, Arnold, Freeman, McDonough, Mason, Johnson, Hanks, Hewett, Kyte, Harlan, Hood, Landis, Ellis, Reese, Kelley, Barnhill, Rowland, Majors, Burrows, Chambers, Linder, Lingle, Gardner, Dye, Richards, Woolman, Danields, LaFollette, Koontz, Miler, Sanders, Lamson, Bell, Campbell, Parrish, Glunt, McGrew.
Last Revised August 31, 2010