Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


Morris and Mary McHenry

Celebrate Golden Anniversary

Denison Review, December 29, 1909

On December 25, 1909 at Dow City, Mr. and Mrs. Morris McHenry celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their wedding day. They are both early settlers in this county.

1855, Arrival in Crawford County

Hon. S. J. Comfort came to Crawford county in Sept. 1855 and settled near Dow City bringing his wife and three daughters, Mary L. being the oldest. Morris McHenry came to Mason's Grove in the May following.

There were no towns in the county then and people lived in the groves for the wood and shelter. Mr. McHenry came on foot from Council Bluffs and reached the home of Mr. Comfort in the evening, and owing to the absence of Mrs. Comfort, his future wife cooked his first supper in Crawford county.

He reached Mason's Grove the next evening and crossed the Boyer river to Mr. Benjamin Dobson's house. There being no bridges the crossing was made with the horses and wagon on a ferry boat on Dobson's mill dam.

There being no surveyor in the county although Mr. H. C. Laub had been appointed but never qualified as he had no compass. He made a bargain with Mr. McHenry that he would go to the County Judge at Coon Creek and get sworn in provided McHenry would work on his farm while he was away. This McHenry was glad to do. Mr. Laub had become quite a friend to the young surveyor and had been sending him quite a number of hard mathematical problems for him to solve which McHenry had worked out to Mr. Laub's entire satisfaction.

1856, First School and Church in Crawford County

Mr. Laub appointed McHenry deputy surveyor and he thus entered upon his life' work. At the August election following (1856) he was elected County Surveyor. Not finding enough surveying to occupy all his time, at the solicitation of the Mason's Grove neighborhood, he opened a day school in a log school house fitted up by J. Dobson and himself and boarded around during the winter of 1856 and 1857 thus happily passing the hard winter. This was the first school in the county.

In October 01 1856 the first church in the county was organized of which Mr. McHenry was a charter member. Rev. William Black of the M. E. church was pastor. His circuit took in Crawford, Carroll, Calhoun, Sac, Ida, Monona and part of Woodbury county. In the spring of 1857 Mr. McHenry helped organize the first Sunday school in the county. Geo. C. King was superintendent, McHenry was one of the teachers.


At the April election in 1857 he was elected County Assessor and assessed the whole county at an expense to the county of $50.50. At the August election of 1857 he was elected County Treasurer and Recorder (one office then). He surveyed the town of Denison in the fall of 1857. Not having surveying for the winter of 57 and 58 he taught school again at Mason's Grove, his future wife being one of the big girls and read in the Fifth Reader.

He did not hold on to the Treasurer and Recorder's office to which he had been elected because the judge thought he had enough other offices. In the winter of 1858 was held the first District Count in and for Crawford County - Hon. M. F. Moore, Dist. Judge: Morris McHenry, Clerk in the absence of the regular clerk, Mr. Purdy.

A Move to Denison in 1858

In May 1858 Mr. McHenry moved to Denison and took charge of the Treasurer and Recorder's office, Judge Dow having been elected to that office so that he could appoint Mr. McHenry as deputy, for the people still wanted him to do the business. He retained the office until 1872 when he declined a re-election.

The office that he prized most was Superintendent of the M. E. Sunday School to which he was elected on coming to Denison. He held that office most of the time until 1877 when he resigned and moved out of town and was succeeded by Gov. L. M. Shaw.

Marriage in 1859

On December 25th, 1859, he was married to Mary L. Comfort, daughter of Hon. S. J. Comfort, at Denison. There was at Denison only two preachers, Rev. J. W. Denison of the Baptist church. He had a job to marry John Purdy, Clerk of the District Court at Coon Grove some three miles south of town. The Methodist minister, Rev. D. P. Billings, not having been fully ordained could not act so the choice fell on the Methodist Class Leader, Mr. John B. Huckstep, who was a Justice of the Peace. Thus were married two county officers on the same evening - Uncle Morris says he took solid Comfort when he was married and has had solid Comfort for fifty happy years.


In the year 1866 he bought the right of way through Crawford county for the Cedar Rapids & Missouri River R. R. now the C. & N. W., also lands at town sites at Carroll, Maple River Junction, West Side, Vail, Denison and Dow City. The two latter were not used because arrangements were made with Mr. Denison and Mr. Dow for their lands.

Golden Anniversary Celebration, December 25, 1909

The Golden Wedding was celebrated on Saturday, Dec. 25, at their home in Dow City. None but relatives having been invited and no presents, printed in plain letters on the cards, a good many valuable presents were quietly slipped in. Congratulations and presents coming both from the Atlantic and Pacific coast. One of the most gratifying features was the hearty congratulations to Uncle Morris and Aunt Mary from the great body of nephews and nieces outside of the family.

Uncle Morris says he was born of poor, but respectable parents on the 29th day of July, 1831, in McHenry Valley, Allegany Co., New York. He is of Scotch Irish descent but in Schleswig he passes as Der Duetscher from Dublin.

Mary L. Comfort was born in Adams county, Illinois, Oct. 30, 1842. Both Mr. and Mrs. McHenry are active and cheerful, both are live members of the Methodist Sunday School. Uncle Morris having a class of six or eight boys. Uncle Morris is still county surveyor and is now actively at work on the ditch to straighten the Boyer River. Aunt Mary still keeps her windows full of flowers as of yore.

To this union five children were born, the oldest, a little girl, passing away at the age of ten months. Those living are William C., Charles, Mrs. May Wilder and Morris McHenry, Jr. There are thirteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Their children were all present except W. C. who was absent on account of sickness in the family. The children and grandchildren were there for dinner which was one of the best ever served in Dow City.

In the afternoon and evening other relatives to the number of about fifty gathered to enjoy the sunshine of this home and all were served with delicious refreshments. Because of the limited room in their house, and the great number of their friends, only the near relatives could be invited, but their hearts are large and warm enough to hold us all. One item of interest is the Uncle Morris and Aunt Mary were married in the house where C. K. Meyers is now living. The house has been added to, but still is the same.

Among the relatives present were Mr. and Mrs. Sears McHenry, L. Seemann, S. J. Woodruff, A. Heisley, C. F. Cassaday and Leon Cassady, Dr. L. M. Coon and mother of Denison, Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Jackson of Omaha, Frank Jackson of Eagle Grove, J. A. Williams and family of Council Bluffs, Mrs. T. G. Bruner, a sister of the bride, of Douglas, Wyom., Mr. and Mrs. Frank McHenry and Mr. and Mrs. Pearl Morrison of Dow City.

Submitted by Melba McDowell