Crawford County in 1865
The Iowa State Gazetteer
(Crawford County)Is situated on the western portion of the State, and is the second county east of the Missouri River, and the fifth north of the State of Missouri. It is bounded on the north by Ida and Sac counties, on the east by Carroll, on the south by Shelby, and west by Monona. The 42nd parallel of N. Lat. runs nearly through the center of the county. Crawford county is on the "Missouri Slope," and is about forty miles distant from the Missouri River.
The surface is generally rolling, in some parts approaching a level; in other parts it is quite abrupt, but not as steep as the bluffs bordering the "Missouri Bottoms." In a word, the surface is sufficiently rolling to secure thorough drainage, yet not so rough as to preclude cultivation.
This is a prairie county, interspersed with groves of timber, and although better timbered than many of the neighboring counties, the amount of timber does not exceed 2 per cent of the prairie, yet the future prospects for timber are bright. There are thousands of acres of young timber springing up all over the vast rolling prairies, chiefly burr oak, black oak and limn. These, when protected, grow up straight and vigorous. They are now growing ten to twenty feet high; only protected five to eight years. Could the annual prairie fires be stopped, the central portions of the county, with slight exceptions, would soon be vast forests.
The TIMBER is chiefly burr oak, oak, linn, hickory, black walnut, white hickory, hackberry and some cottonwood.
The SOIL is generally a deep black vegetable mold. In places, however, it inclines to sand, in others to clay, but generally it is impossible to tell, without a chemical analysis, which predominates, the clay or sand.
GRAIN - Wheat, (Spring) barley, oats, corn, peas, beans, potatoes, beets, carrots, do well here. Clover has not yet been sufficiently tried to know how it will succeed, but blue grass and timothy grow well.
FRUITS-Apples, pears, cherries, plums, gooseberries, currants, and grapes, all grow finely. Some of the wild plums are nearly, if not quite, equal to the best-cultivated varieties.
COAL-No veins of coal have yet been opened or found but coal miners generally agree that we have coal here. No quarries of building stone have yet been opened.
BRICK CLAY-There is excellent clay for brick, and an abundance of it.
STOCK-RAISING-The facilities for stock raising are all that need be asked for. The dry rolling prairies afford excellent pasturage, and the rich bottom lands give ample room for cutting hay. Stock well fed on "blue joint" need no grain. The immense number of small streams, while supplying man and beast with plenty of good water, also give the land perfect drainage. This secures health to stock, especially sheep.
STREAMS-the principal streams are the Boyer, Soldier and Nishnabotany Rivers, and their branches, all running southwest. The Boyer and its branches afford ample water- power for all the mills and factories that may be needed.
MILLS-Coburn's saw and grist-mill on the East Boyer, at Denison, McKim's saw-mill, and Dobson's saw and grist-mill at Deloit, are the only mills now in operation in the county.
The townships are, Denison, Milford, and Union.
RAILROADS-The located line of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad runs nearly through the centre of this county, following the valley of the Boyer, which is the nearest practicable route from Chicago to the great "Platte Valley Route." This railroad is being rapidly built. Trains are now running to Boonsboro, which is by the line of said railroad, 79 miles from Denison.
STAGES run tri-weekly from Boonsboro through this county to the Missouri River; also semi-weekly from Council Bluffs to Fort Dodge.
HISTORY-Crawford County was settled in the spring of 1849, Cornelius Dunham and Franklin Prentice making the first settlement at Dunham's Grove. Franklin Prentice erected for Mr. Dunham the first house in the county. It was a log house, the door being made of one slab hewn from a large black walnut tree.
The next settler was Jesse Mason, who came in June 1850, and settled in Mason's Grove. Mason was soon followed by Levi Skinner, Thomas Dobson, Benjamin Dobson, John A. Dunham, E. W. and D. J. Fowler, A, Richardson, C. Winans, B. F. Wicks, S. B. Greek, J. B. Goodrich, J. R. Basset, J. Gilbreath, C. Kennedy, D. Howorth, H. C. Laub, S. S. Sisley, H, Slater, E. Van Vleit, S. E. Dow, S. J. Comfort, E. Howorth, J. and W. Denison and others, Benjamin Dobson, in 1834 erected the first saw mill. It was at Mason's Grove, near the present town of Deloit.
ORGANIZED-From the first settlement, till April 1855, Crawford county was attached to Shelby county for judicial purposes. At the April election, 1855, Crawford county was separately organized by electing a full corps of officers: for Judge, E. W. Fowler; for Clerk of the District Court, Thomas Dobson; for Sheriff, D. J. Fowler; for Recorder and Treasurer, A. R. Hunt; for Prosecuting Attorney, Cyrus Whitmore; for Surveyor, Samuel Kennedy; for Coroner, L. Skinner: for Drainage Commissioner, John R. Bassett. The first State Road in the county was surveyed in the fall of 1855 by William L. Henderson. The first County Road in September, 1856, by Morris McHenry.
The first children born in the county were G. David and N. Jesse Mason, twins, sons of Jesse Mason, born probably in 1852. The first sermon was preached Sunday, October 19th, 1856, by Rev. William Black, of the M. E, Church, and same day after the sermon, a society or "Class" of seven members was organized by Mr. Black, being the first religious organization formed in the county. The first entry of government land was made September 4th, 1854. The first tax levied in the county was for the year 1855.
The first school house in the county was raised in the county was raised November 4th, 1856. The first school was taught in the same, by Morris McHenry, a term of 3 1/2 months, commencing December 15th, 1856. The first Sunday School in the county was organized by the M. E. Church, at Mason's Grove, Sunday, June 7th, 1857; George C. King, Superintendent.
DENISON, the county seat, is situated near the centre of the county, in the forks of the Boyer River, and on the line of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri River Railroad, and is 79 miles west of Boonsboro, the present terminus of that road.
It was first settled in September, 1856, by J. W. Denison, F. Reynolds, J. B. Swain, R. W. Calkins, O. S. Gates, F. W. Bueseher, Jacob Shitinger, Morris McHenry, J. T. Seagrave and Eli Baer. Mary Louise Seagrave, born November 13th, 1857, was the first white child born in Denison. The first death was that of a child of Francis Reynolds. The first school house was erected in 1857. The first store in 1856. The court house was built in 1859.
The Methodist Episcopal and Baptist Churches each have a society. One good district school is taught in Denison. Denison has two hotels, two stores, one lawyer, one blacksmith and one shoemaker.
Mail arrive at and depart from Denison, tri-weekly going east and west, and semi-weekly, going north and south. Population 101.
DELOIT, was laid out by Benjamin Dobson in 1857, and settled by Esau McKim, Thomas Dobson, William F. Wigt, Rueben F. Blake, William McKim and E, A., McKim. It has one district school, one blacksmith and wagon maker, one cabinetmaker and two carpenter shops, two saw mills and one flouring mill. Population 69.
BOYER RIVER is another post office in this county.
Source: Hair, James T. The Iowa State Gazetteer. Descriptive And Historical Sketches of Counties, Cities, Towns and Villages. 1865. Bailey and Hair, 164 Clark St., Chicago
Contributed by Phyllis Heller.