History of Sharon Township

From Wolfe's 1911 History

CHAPTER XXI -- Page 273

Sharon is the northwestern township of the county and consists of congressional township 83/north, range I east, and is bounded on the north by Jackson county, west by Jones county, south by Liberty township, and east by Brookfield township. The township was organized in April, 1851, at which time it was ordered that this territory “be cut off from all or any townships to which it may have been attached,” an order somewhat misleading as it had never been anywhere attached. The first election was held at the house of Luther Teeple. Sharon township was slowly settled, probably from the fact that on account of the lack of streams, there was no timber save once in a while an oak opening. The land in the south and east is fine farming land, but in the northwest is somewhat broken and rough. The country was over-grown with tall grass, and even after the settlers came was for many years the home of deer and wolves.

The first settlements were probably made along the Maquoketa stage road by H. W. Cook in the eastern part, and Luther Teeple farther west. Teeple’s was a stopping place in early days. There is some question as to whether the first settlement in the southern part was made by a German names Balm, to the north of Lost Nation, or a countryman of his named Long, who settled to the south. Among other early settlers are David Smith, Henry and Platt Armstrong, George and Arthur Lillie, J. B. Current, John Wilcox, James H. Porter, the Gruvers, the Fraziers, the Batchelders, Jacob Burwell, George C. Read, D. D. Comstock, the Sandersons, and others.

In the vicinity of the present town of Lost Nation there were four or five houses erected in close proximity, near the solitary clump of oak timber in that neighborhood, in early days. These were occupied by the Wades, Stutesmans, Longs, Nodles and Armstrongs.

A large number of Swedenborgians located in the northwestern part of the township among the earlier settlers, and were under the spiritual guidance of Prof. Stephen Wood. Their settlement has been broken up and scarcely any of their members are left. In the northeast many German Dunkards settled, and for a time made themselves marked by their peculiar customs, but nearly all of them moved away, or were converted from their beliefs. Many Germans are taking up the old farms now.

In earlier days the post office of the township was at a place four miles or so north of the present town of Lost Nation, a village known as Smithstown or Burgess post office. With the coming of the railroad and the establishment of the station at Lost Nation, the village of Smithstown gradually dwindled away.


There seems to be no means of absolutely ascertaining the origin of the name Lost Nation. Many and various theories to account for it are set forth by the residents, some of which will here be given. It is certain that the region about the present town was called Lost Nation long before the establishment of the station, also that that the locality was not known as such by the very earliest settlers.

One version, not very widely credited, has it that a tribe of Indians starved and froze to death here in early times. Many people give credence to the story that a German named Balm was looking for some relatives here in the times when the prairie was unbroken and covered with grass high as a horse, and when asked where he was going, said that he was looking for the “lost nation.” H. V. Cook is said to have come over into this locality to buy stock from this same Balm when he settled here, to have searched for him one day and a part of the next before locating his cabin, and thus to have called it “lost nation.” Again it is related that some hunters from Brookfield township looking over the western prairie from an eminence noted the little settlement of a few houses under the clump of oaks before mentioned, and said to his companions that a hunting party was lost here, remained for some time, and named their camp “Lost Man Camp.” Others state that the name was given because of the wild and somewhat inaccessible character of the region. Perhaps none of these theories is correct.

The station established by the Sabula, Ackley & Dakota in 1871 was named Lost Nation because the surrounding country had been long so called. Some years ago there was agitation among the people of the town to have the name changed, but this was firmly opposed by the older settlers, they rightly urging that, aside from the associations to them connected with the name, it was better to have a name which expressed a meaning, even though somewhat romantic than one of the colorless names borne by the majority of American town, And it seemed to them that the possession of such a name was a valuable asset to the town.

Since the time of incorporation the town has owned a small town hall, with a jail in connection. It is one of the few towns of its size in this part of the state to be lighted by electric lights. Light and power are furnished by the Daniels & Dobling Electric Light Company, and many motors are in use in the town, and citizens in general show their appreciation of the service of the company by patronizing them. There is an electric grain elevator in operation here, by which cars of grain can be emptied very swiftly.


Below is given what is believed to be a correct list of the persons engaged in business and professions in Lost Nation in 1910:

Doctors, M. F. McNeel and W. E. Keith; dentist, V. M. Wolfe; agricultural implements and hardware, Hoff Brothers, D. Kammer & Son; First Nation Bank, Citizens Bank (see Banking chapter); general dealers, J. E. Gilroy, L. Rutenbeck, Haak & Schultz; drugs, P. B. Shelley; furniture and undertaking, L. Balster; insurance and real estate, W. C. Rutenbeck; City Hotel, James De Vine; grain, James H. Phelps; lumber and coal, R. E. Cressey; Coal, D. Kammer & Son; stock dealers, A. H. Gish & Son, M. J. Burnett, Appleton & Schoff; stock shippers and feeders, Edleman Brothers; meat markets, O. L. Piersoll, William Rutenbeck; feed mill, Henry Dobling; millinery, H. A. Gardner; livery, James Hughes; creamery stations, Oxford and G. W. Simpson creameries; jeweler, R. M. Gable; Lost Nation Telephone Company; garage, T. W. Stevenson; wagonmaker, J. D. Jenkins; ice plant; Opera House; Lost Nation Chronicle, R. M. Gable.