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Center Township

The following history is from the Clinton Herald, July 4, 1976:

Set up in 1852, Center Township has had its boundaries altered several times as more townships were created.  The township saw a great influx of immigrants between 1852 and 1857.

The township prospered during work on a proposed railroad line, and the railroad work bolstered businesses in the area and spawned the town of Elvira.  The project ended suddenly, although the township life survived.

Elvira was platted in 1854, named for the wife of W. H. Gibbs, the owner of the original platted site.

(Established 1852; previously part of De Witt)


Cherry Wood

23 Aug 1852 - 11 Oct 1854

Renamed Suffolk


29 Dec 1854 - 28 Feb 1907

Formerly Cherry Wood, Suffolk and Suffolk.

Pleasant Prairie

  On Brophy's Creek, West of Elvira


  Site of Plugtown school


11 Oct 1854 - 29 Dec 1854

Renamed Elvira


39 Elvira
40 Center Grove

Biography of Center Twp.

Center was organized in March, 1852, and the first election held in April, at the house of Jacob Lepper.

When, in 1851, Adam Kelley, the present patriarch of Elvira, located on the knoll where Joseph Bair now lives, there was only one house, the small (Bohart) place, between there and Camanche, and Daniel Earhart was the only resident on the road to Lyons.  Henry Winters, W. E. Leffingwell, N. S. Warren and J. Lepper were living in the vicinity, toward the northwest.  Lewis R. Buckhead lived where Sam Kelley is now located, and owned an enormous claim, since subdivided into many productive farms.  Soon afterward, many energetic settlers arrived and began to convert the prairie into homesteads.  Among them were the Thiessens, Ahrens, John Kinkaid, L. K. Kellogg, the Ingwersens, Travers and the Rices.

The first tavern on the stage-route, between Lyons and De Witt, was kept by Jacob Lepper, at the grove in Section 13.  It was of brick, and a well-known wayside inn.  The post office was established at Suffolk.  Its present name of Elvira was bestowed by W. H. Gibbs, in honor of his wife, when he laid out the town-plat.  During 1855-57, Elvira was a very lively trading point, the stores of Hinman and Allen, the latter kept by one Huntington, doing an immense business for a large tributary section.  A post office was, in 1865, established at Elvira through the efforts of Judge Cotton and R. A. Lyons.  Jesse Travers was the first Postmaster, and at his death, in September, 1874, was succeeded by the present official, N. E. Brooks.

United Presbyterian Church. -- On the 26th of December, 1853, Rev. Alexander Pattison organized an Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church at the house of Jacob Bohart, in Center Township, to be called the Congregation of Pleasant Prairie, and under the care of the Presbytery of Keokuk.  The persons present at the organization were W. W. Beatty, Adam Kelly, Peter and Jacob Bohart.  Messrs. Beatty and Peter Bohart were at this time elected Ruling Elders, and ordained on the 29th of January, 1854, at which time the first communion was celebrated, there being fifteen communicants.  Rev. Mr. Pattison officiated and also administer the sacrament of baptism to two adults and twelve children.  During the winter of 1854-55, a call was extended to Rev. John B. Clark, and he was installed as the first Pastor, his charge including Le Claire Prairie, Port Byron and this Church.  Mr. Clark was, however, during the following summer, killed by lightening, at his home in Le Claire Prairie.  Eleven more members had been added to the Church,  May 31, 1855.  March 23, 1856, Rev. R. S. Campbell began his labors, preaching on alternate Sabbaths here and at De Witt, where a Church had been organized.

During that period, the congregation had held their services in private houses or in schoolhouses.  On the 16th of March, 1856, at a meeting held at the house of Jacob Bohart, it was decided to build a house of worship, and, during that fall, a church, 36 x 44, was erected in the village of Elvira, on ground donated by R. A. Lyons, and which was formally occupied in the following spring.

In 1857, the Church became the United Presbyterian Church.  Mr. Campbell continued his pastoral relations until August, 1865, when he resigned this charge and remained at De Witt.  The membership had increased to forty-seven.  In 1866, Rev. Thomas Calohan was called to the pastorate and remained until September, 1868, when he was deposed from the ministry by the Presbytery of Le Claire.  The name of the Church had, during his stay, been changed to the Elvira U. P. Church.  During the summer of 1869, Rev. D. Nicoll was called to the charge, in connection with the Church at De Witt, two-thirds of his time at the latter place, and commenced his labors October 1, 1869.  Rev. Johnson succeeded Mr. Nicoll in 1875, remaining one year.  After his removal, Rev. G. W. Hamilton was called, as the Pastor, in 1876, and is still with his people.  Since his connection with the Church, their house of worship has been repaired, frescoed and refurnished, making it one of the neatest country church buildings in the county.

SOURCE:  Allen, L. P., History of Clinton County, Iowa, Containing A History of the County, it's Cities, Towns, Etc. and Biographical Sketches of Citizens, War Record of it's Volunteers in the late Rebellion, General and Local Statistics, Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men, History of the Northwest, History of Iowa, Map of Clinton County, Constitution of the United States, Miscellaneous Matters, &c, &c., Illustrated.  Chicago IL; Western Historical Company, 1879

1925 Atlas of Clinton County Center Twp. Farmer's Directory