Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


1882 Denison History

The county seat of Crawford County is situated a little south of the center of the county, at the junction of the Boyer and East Boyer Rivers. A portion of the town, rising upon the slopes adjacent to these streams, commands magnificent views of the valley of the Boyer, with its rapidly improving farms, the railroads, lines of telegraph, groves of timber, and other objects, adding variety and beauty to the scene.

The railroad passes along the southern edge of the town, where it makes a bend directly southwest, leaving Denison well situated as a trading point for a large district of country unsurpassed in fertility. Its agricultural resources, when developed, cannot fail to make Denison a point of great importance. It is one hundred and fifteen miles from Des Moines, eighty from Fort Dodge, seventy-five from Council Bluffs, seventy-five from Sioux City, and forty-five from the Missouri River.

The town was laid out in 1856, by J. W. Denison, from whom it derived its name, and at that time became the county seat. The town plat embraces about 700 acres, the general size of the lots being 50x160 feet, the principal streets being one hundred feet wide and the others eighty. Handsome and eligible blocks have been reserved for public parks and other public purposes. Quite a number of elegant residences and business blocks have been erected, which would reflect credit upon any city in Iowa.

Among the first settlers were Francis Reynolds and John B. Swain, who put up the first saw and grist mill in the place; R. W. Calkins, O. S. Gates, F. W. Vuescher, Jacob Whitinger, Morris McHenry, J. F. Seagrave and Eli Baer. Mary Louise Seagrave, born November 13th, 1856, was the first birth in the town, while the first death was that of a child of Francis Reynolds. There is no reason to doubt that the population of Denison at the present time is fully, if not more than, two thousand.

The town was incorporated in 1875. Its first town officers, after incorporation, were: A. F. Bond, Mayor; A. Carpenter, Recorder; J. L. McClellan, Marshal; L. Cornwell. Treasurer; C. H. DeWolf, C. F. Cassaday, John Seemann, Ward Matthews, W. J. Wagoner, Councilmen. The following are the present officers: R. Heffelfinger, Mayor; D. L. Boynton, Recorder; L. Cornwell, Treasurer; William Braddy, Marshal; C. Green, W. J. Wagoner, L. F. Carr, J. B. Romans, P. Miller, G. W. Heston, Councilmen; George A. Smith, Assessor.

Denison has two banks, the McHenry Bank, of which William A. McHenry is proprietor, and the Crawford County Bank, R. Heffelfinger, proprietor, both of which do a prosperous business.

The Germania Opera House, owned by the Germania Society, is a roomy and well built structure with a foundation of heavy masonry, cost from seven to eight thousand dollars, and is in every way creditable to the community.

The brickyard belonging to Cornelius Green manufactures on an average a half-million bricks per annum.

There are seven flouring mills in Crawford County, one at Dow City one two miles southwest of Denison, one at Denison, one at Vail, one at West Side and two at Deloit.

The Luney Bros. some time since inaugurated a series of enterprises, which reflect great credit, both upon themselves and the community. Their steam flouring mill was started in 1880, and has a capacity of about 1,000 bushels of wheat per week. This mill has three run of stone, and manufactures an excellent quality of flour. They have also in operation an extensive agricultural implement factory and foundry, from which they turn out plows, bells, shafting for mills, and, in fact, anything and everything in the line of first-class establishments of this kind.

Denison is in every respect, mechanically, professionally and in a business way, as well in the attractive as in the substantial elements of a progressive community, worthy to be the county seat of the rich and fertile county of Crawford.

The business establishments of Denison may be classified as follows: Six general merchandise establishments, three groceries, two furniture and cabinet making establishments, one boot and shoe store, two harness shops, one hardware store, two blacksmith shops, one wagon factory, one wagon and blacksmith shop, two hardware and agricultural implement stores, one agricultural implement depot, two restaurants, five hotels, four insurance agencies, one flouring mill, one brick-yard, one manufactory of agricultural implements, one foundry and machine shop, three millinery stores, one music store, two banks, four real estate agencies, three drug stores, two printing offices, one book store, one clothing store, two meat markets, one bakery, four stock and grain dealers, three lumber dealers, one creamery, two grain elevators.

The Crawford County Bulletin was started in November, 1873, by Stephens & Daniells. A. B. Keith purchased Daniells' interest in April, 1874, and in June, 1876, became sole proprietor. The Bulletin is a nine-column folio, and has a circulation of 1,200 copies. It is the Democratic organ of Crawford county, and is ably conducted.

The first newspaper published in Crawford County was established October 1st, 1860, by J. W. Denison, and was named the Boyer Valley Record. It was a twenty-eight column sheet, Republican in politics, and continued about a year and a half.

The next paper was the Denison Review, the first number of which appeared May 3d, 1867, under the management of Money & Stephens. In the autumn of 1868, Money disposed of his interest to R. W. McNeal. In 1874, the paper came into the possession of Hon. J. Fred. Meyers, who conducted it until the latter part of February of the present year. Under Mr. Myers' able management, the paper achieved an extensive reputation. His successors, the Messrs. Wrigley Bros., are gentlemen of capacity, and have already evinced an ability to fully maintain the Review's excellent reputation. Mr. Meyers has been Postmaster of Denison for a number of years, was formerly a resident of Washington, D. C., has an extensive acquaintance, and has occupied many positions of honor and trust. The Review is Republican in polities, and issues both English and German editions. It is a model of typographical neatness.


First Baptist Church. - Organized in 1858, bv Rev. J. W. Denison. The successive pastors were: Revs. George Scott, R. Dunlap, A. M. Duboc, J. B. Hawk, A. Robinson, the latter gentleman having present pastoral charge. The present membership is 120. The church building was erected in 1865, has a seating capacity of about 200, and cost, with the grounds, $7,000. It is located on the corner of Sweet and Chestnut streets. The present church officers are: J. D. Seagrave, S. W. Plimpton, Deacons; E. S. Plimpton, Clerk; Mrs. S. W. Plimpton, Treasurer; W. A. McHenry, J. R. Bassett, E. S. Plimpton, Trustees. The Sabbath School has an average attendance of about one hundred pupils. Its officers are E. S. Plimpton, J. D. Seagrave, Associate Superintendents; M. E. Jones, Treasurer; Nellie Strong, Secretary.

Methodist Episcopal Church. - The present pastor is Rev. D. Austin. This society has over one hundred members. Its present officers are: L. M. Shaw, C. Green, R. Heffelfinger, J. B. Romans, Trustees; H. C. Laub, Recording Steward; L. M. Shaw, Treasurer. The Sabbath School numbers about one hundred pupils. L. M. Shaw is the Superintendent. The church building was erected about the year 1865, at a cost of $1,800. Its seating capacity is 350. Rev. William Black, the first pastor, was succeeded by the following: Revs. Mr. Glassner, Edwin Satterlee, M. D. Collins, W. E. Smith, Mr. Glanville, B. Shinn, Mr. Waynick, Mr. Fegtly, E. Sage, Asa Steeth, J. B. Wilson, Mr. Beck, and the present pastor.

Trinity Episcopal Parish. - Organized in 1875, by Rev. William Wright. Rev. C. S. Fackenthall is the present pastor. The membeship is about thirty-five. The church building was erected in 1875, is 28x40 feet in dimensions, the total cost being not less than $3,000. Roger Hayne was the first Senior Warden, and Henry Gower, the first Junior Warden. At present J. G. Wyant is Senior Warden, William Rain, Junior Warden. The Society is free from debt. In July, 1877, the church builling was blown from its foundations by a tornado, two other church buildings also being moved from their foundations on the same night, one of them, the Catholic church building, being occupied by the congregation, who were holding services at the time. Trinity Church is located in East Denison, on the south side of Broadway. The Sabbath School has about fifty members. J. P. Fitch is the Superintendent; Miss Gracie Myers, Secretary; Miss Blanche Stone, Treasurer.

The Catholic Church Society. - This Parish was organized by missionaries more than twenty years ago. The first pastor was Rev. Mr. Kelley, of Omaha. The church building was erected in 1872. It is a frame structure and cost $1,700. The congregation have made arrangements for the building of a fine brick structure during the coming season, the money for which has been already secured. The estimated cost is $4,000. Rev. M. C. Lenahan, of Vail, is the present pastor. Services are, for the present, held every alternate Sunday.

The German Lutheran Society. - Rev. G. Haar is the present pastor of this prosperous church organization. The church edifice is a brick building formerly used as a school house. It is very neatly and comfortably furnished. The organization of the society dates back from eight to ten years.

The Presbyterian Society. - The present pastor of this society is the Rev. J. J. Franklin. The church edifice was erected in 1872, at a cost of $1,775. Although the membership is not so large as that of the Baptist or M. E. organizations, yet the society is in a substantial and encouraging condition.

The Public Schools. - Prior to the organization of the Denison independent school district, Tracy Chapman, Michael Riddle and A. D. Moloney, composed the Board of School Directors of a section of country embracing the entire county, with the exception of Union and Milford Townships. The first teacher of whom the writer has information was H. C. Laub, who was followed by I. T. Martin, John Funk and Miss Jennie Haskell.

The first school house was a frame building, about 14x20 feet in dimensions, situated on the hill in East Denison. This building has long since ceased to be used for school purposes, and has been moved so many times as to make further trace of its whereabouts indefinite. A brick school house was next built, which is now used as a church building by the German Lutheran Society. The independent school district was organized about ten years since.

The first Board of Education was composed of the following gentlemen: Dr. William Iseminger, Morris McHenry, E. S. Plimpton, W. J. Wagoner, and two others, whose names the writer was unable to learn.

A. M. McNeal, an attorney now living in St. Louis, was the first teacher after the independent organization. He was followed by Rev. Mr. Gunnison, a Baptist minister, who was succeeded by a Methodist clergyman, whose name the writer was unable to learn.

Z. T. Hawk was the first regular Principal of the Denison schools. He had three assistants. Under his management, the Denison schools first took definite form, were graded, and began the systematic and thorough development of which the citizens of the town are justly proud.

There are now two school buildings. The first, a large brick structure of four departments and two stories in height, was erected in 1872, at a cost of $16,000, which figure, however, it is proper to add, is conceded to be altogether disproportionately large in comparison with the real value of the building. It is located in the western part of town, southwest of the Court House, and is known as the West Side building.

The second school building was erected in 1877. It is a two-story frame, having two large rooms, is about 28x48 feet in dimensions, and cost in the neighborhood of $2,500. It is located near the center of town, and is known as the East School building.

The total enrollment of the district, at the last enumeration, was 369 pupils; the average attendance is about 300. It is more than probable that another school building will be added during the present year.

The present corps of teachers is as follows: Prof. M. Booth, Principal; Miss Nettie M. Dick Grammar School, West; Miss Lillie Barr. First Primary, West; Miss Hattie McAhren, Second Primary, West; Miss Kittie Barr, First Primary, East; Mrs. Mary Wade, Second Primary, East.

The present Board of Education is as follows: C. Green, President; W. J. Wagoner, E. S. Plimpton, William Iseminger, Albert Palmer, John Seemann; C. F. Bond, Secretary; R. Heffelfinger, Treasurer.

Devotion Lodge No. 282, A. F. & A. M. - Instituted in 1869. Rev. B. Shinn was the first W. M.; C. H. DeWolf, the first S. W.; H. C. Laub, the first Secretary, and L. Cornwell, the first Treasurer. There were nine charter members. The present membership is fifty-five. Meetings are held Wednesday evenings of each month, on or before the full moon. For the present the Lodge meets in Masonic Hall, over H. C. Laub's place of business. A fine Lodge room is being fitted up in the McHenry block. This Lodge is in a condition of very gratifying posperity. The following are the present officers: C. H. DeWolf, W. M.; G. W. Stephens, S. W.; M. Goldheim, J. W.; G. W. Heston, Secretary; W. J. Wagoner, Treasurer.

Denison Lodge No. 94 , I. O. G. T. - Instituted in 1876. Meetings are held every Tuesday evening in Court House Hall. The membership is twenty-five. The present officers are: D. O. Johnson, W. C. T.; Mrs. H. J. Matthews, W. V. T.; Miss Hattie Harris, R. S.; Miss Hattie McAhren, L. S.; Mrs. E. S. Plimpton, Treasurer; Rev. A. Robinson, Chaplain.

Crawford Lodge, Iowa Legion of Honor. - Instituted in 1880. First officers: H. N. Wheeler, President; A. D. Wilson, Vice-President; N. J. Wheeler, F. S.; N. F. Smith, R. S.; N. Richards, Treasurer. Present officers: A. B. Keith, President; James Wygant, Vice-President; N. J. Wheeler, F. S.; M. E. Jones, R. S.; A. D. Wilson, Treasurer. The membership is fifty-two. Meetings are held on the first and third Thursday evenings of each month in Masonic Hall.

Root Post No. 58, G. A. R. - This Post was mustered in the autumn of 1881, with eighteen charter members, as follows: E. D. Partridge, Geo. W. Heston, W. A. Porter, A. J. Bond, H. L. Wilkinson, A. I. Phelps, S. W. Plimpton, Jr., R. W. Lownes, A. Simmons, Edward Miles, M. Smith, J. S. Gilbreath, W. H. Snow, B. W. Garlough, G. L. Wright, C. A. Lawton, H. S. Gulick, J. G. Vassar. The membership is thirty, and meetings are held on the second Friday evening of each month in Court House Hall. The following are the officers: Geo. W. Heston, Commander; G. L. Wright, S. V. C.; Jud. Bond, J. V. C.; I. T. Phelps, A.; S. W. Plimpton, C.; H. S. Gulick, Q. M.; E. D. Partridge, S.; R. W. Lownes, O. of D.; Benj. Garlough, S. M.

Denison Lodge No. 151, A. O. U. W. - Present officers: I. T. Roberts, M. W.; John Bayles, Foreman; S. W. Plimpton, 0.; A. T. Weld. Recorder; D. H. Gill, Receiver; A. Anderson, Financier; D. O. Johnson, P. The Lodge has a membership of forty four. and meets the first and third Friday evenings of each month in Masonic Hall.

Eureka Collegium No. 77, V. A. S. Fraternity - Instituted the autumn of 1881, with thirty-six charter members. First officers: William Familton, Rector; J. S. Nicholson, V. R.; G. A. Smith, S.; G. W. Heaton, Q.; G. L. Wright, U.; L. J. Carter, Spec.; Dr. W. W. Holmes, M. E. Present officers: J. S. Nicholson, R.; Albert Palmer, V. R. The remaining officers the same as before. Meetings are for the present held at J. S. Nicholson's office, on the first Monday evening of each month.

W. C. T. U. - The Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Denison is in excellent working condition. and has done work for the cause of Temperance. Mrs. H. C. Laub is the President.

Denison Lecture Bureau. - This is an association whose object is to furnish the citizens of Denison intellectual entertainment by utilizing "home talent." Weekly lectures are given, which are largely attended, and which have been productive of highly beneficial results .

The Public Library. - Denison has a public library of quite respectable proportions. The library is temporarily located in the rear of A. Steel's furniture store. Steel is the Librarian .

Denison Cornet Band. - The Denison Cornet Band is composed of twelve members, and is quite a creditable organization. W. J. Wheeler, President; M. E. Jones, Secretary; F. Wahl, Treasurer; William Adams, Leader.

Source: History of Western Iowa Western Publishing Company, 1882, Sioux City.