Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


1875 History of Crawford County, Iowa

These extracts from the 1875 publication include the early settlers, the first events in the county, the formation of the civil government, the newspapers, and the towns that existed in 1875. Section headings were added for easier reading.

The following surnames were found in the 1875 history: Alexander, Baer, Bassett, Bell, Beuscher, Bishop, Black, Blake, Bitterworth, Brogden, Cadwell, Calkins, Chapman, Comfort, Denison, Didra, Dobson, Dow, Dunham, Fowler, Gates, Gilbreath, Goodrich, Greek, Henderson, Horr, Howorth, Huckstep, Hunt, Johnson, Jordan, Kennedy, King, Laub, Mason, McHenry, McKim, McNeal, McWilliams, Meyrs, Money, Mowery, Poordy, Prentice, Reynolds, Richardson, Riddle, Seagrave, Sisley, Skinner, Slater, Swain, Stephens, Todd, Van Vleet, Vore, Whitinger, Whitmore, Wicks, Wilkie, Winans, Wright.

The First Settlers in Crawford County

In May, 1849, Cornelius Dunham, of Jackson County, Iowa, brought Franklin Prentice and his wife to the county, and left them at the place known as Dunham's Grove, on the East Boyer River, about six miles east of the present town of Denison. Mr. Prentice built a cabin for Dunham, who came with his family in the autumn of the same year, accompanied also by a man named Reuben Blake. This was the first settlement in the county. The same year Prentice took a claim at the mouth of Otter Creek, on Boyer River, near Mason's Grove.

The next settlers were Jesse Mason and family, and George J. and Noah V. Johnson, all of whom came in June, 1850, and settled at Mason's Grove. In the Fall of this year Levi Skinner and Calvin Horr settled at the same place. The next settler was Thomas Dobson, in the Spring of 1851, who also settled in the vicinity of Mason's Grove. In the Fall of 1853, Edward Howorth, with his sons, Edward and Daniel, located at a place called Three Bee Grove, in the south-west part of the county, not far from the present thriving town of Dunlap.

In 1854, the settlement at Mason's Grove received the following additional members: Benjamin Dobson, A. R. Hunt, D. J. Fowler, Clark Winans, B. F. Wicks, and E. W. Fowler. During the same year Benjamin Dobson erected the first saw mill at this place, and following located in other parts of the county, to-wit: John Gilbreath, John R. Bassett, and Moses and Daniel Riddle, at Coon Grove, four miles south of the present town of Denison; Mathias Didra, at Buck Grove, in the south part of the county; Chales Kennedy and Robert D. Butterworth, at Three Bee Tree Grove; and William H. Jordan, at Lost Grove, near the present town of Crawford, on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. John A. Dunham and Rufus Richardson came the same year.

Those mentioned were all the settlers in the county up to 1855, during the spring of which year the following came: Reuben and John Vore, S. C. Dow, S. J. Comfort, Cyrus B. Whitmore, John Poordy, Isaac B. Goodrich, S. B. Greek, S. S. Sisley, John Sisley, Edward Van Vleet, James Slater and H. C. Laub. The last named settled at Mason's Grove, and the others at various places in the county.

In 1856, there were but few additions to the settlers, the following, with their families, it is believed, comprising all: Geo. C. King, Wm. J. Todd, John B. Huckstep, Edwin Cadwell, Tracy Chapman, Morris McHenry, Esau McKim, and Joseph Brogden, all of whom located at Mason's Grove; and R. B. Alexander, S. Bell, B. B. Bishop, and Wm. Wilkie, who settled in the south and south-west parts of the county.

Hon. J. W. Denison came to the county in the Fall of 1855, and during that year and the next, selected a quantity of land for the Providence Western Land Company, and in September, 1856, commenced the settlement of the town of Denison. He brought with him Francis Reynolds and John B. Swain, who erected a steam saw and grist mill in the new town.

First Births, Marriages, Death, and other Firsts in Crawford County

The first births in the county were David and George Jesse Mason, twin sons of Jesse and Eliza Ann Mason, born in 1852. The first matrimonial transaction took place at Mason's Grove, Oct. 12, 1853, at which time and place Rev. Thomas Dobson tied three silken knots, binding six willing hearts, as follows: George J. Johnson and Elizabeth Ann Mason; Noah V. Johnson and Jane Mason, and Calvin Horr and Elizabeth Mowery. The first death was that of John A. Dunham, in the Winter of 1854-5.

The first entry of government land was made August 21, 1854, by John Gilbreath. The first school house erected was at Mason's Grove, in the Fall of 1856, in which Morris McHenry taught the first school, a term of three and one-half months, commencing Nov. 4, 1856. The first sermon was preached Sunday, Oct. 19, 1856, by Rev. William Black, of the M. E. Church, and the same day, after the sermon, the first religious society, was organized with seven members, as follows: George C. King, Mrs. E. R. King, O. S. Wright, Tabitha Wright, John B. Huckstep, and Rufus Richardson. The first Sunday School was organized at Mason's Grove, Jan. 7, 1857, George C. King, Superintendent. It was organized under the auspices of the M. E. Church, and had twenty pupils.

The first lawyer was S. J. Comfort, who was also the first acting Prosecuting Attorney. Dr. David McWilliams was the first physician.

Formation of the Crawford County Civil Government

Up to April, 1855, Crawford County was attached to Shelby for civil purposes. At the April election of that year the following county officers were elected: E. W. Fowler, County Judge; Thomas Dobson, Clerk; A. R. Hunt, Treasurer and Recorder; D. J. Fowler, Sheriff; Isaac B. Goodrich, School Fund Commisioner; Cyrus Whitmore; Prosecuting Attorney; Samuel Kennedy, Surveyor; L. Skinner, Coroner; and John R. Bassett, Drainage Commisioner.

There was at this time only one election precinct in the county, all the votes being cast at Coon Grove, in what is now Denison Township. New county officers were chosen at the following August election, at which time John R. Bassett was elected County Judge, who transacted the first business September 3, 1856, which was to act upon a petition for a county road.

On the third of December of this year the Judge, Clerk and Recorder met and reported their account of moneys received from August 1st to December 1st, the Judge having received $5.75; Clerk, $3.00; and Recorder $8.70. William L Henderson, having been appointed Surveyor and agent to select the swamp lands, made his report Dec. 5, 1855, and was allowed $150 for his services.

The construction of the court house in Denison was finished in the Fall of 1858. It is built of brick, is 30 X 40 feet, and two stories high. It stands in the middle of the public square, a beautiful rolling tract of ground, now set with handsome shade trees and enclosed in a neat and substantial fence.

First Board of Supervisors

The following persons constituted the first Board of Supervisors: Thomas Dobson, Milford Township; Henry C. Laub, Denison Township, and Daniel Howorth, Union Township. At their organization in January, 1861, Daniel Howorth was chosen President. S. J. Comfort was their Clerk. Their first session continued six days, during which time various county matters received attention.

The Press

The first newspaper was established October 1, 1860, by J. W. Denison. 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 made its appearance May 3, 1867, under the management of Money & Stephens. In the Fall of 1868 Money disposed of his interest to R. W. McNeal. The Review is a neatly printed, readable, and thoroughly local paper, Republican in politics, and now under the able editorial conduct of J. Fred Meyrs, late of Washington, D.C.

The Crawford County Bulletin is a reliable and well conducted local paper, receiving a good degree of well deserved patronage. It was established in 1873, is independent in politics, and editorially is controlled by Stephens & Keith.

County Officials for 1875

Andrew D. Molony, Auditor
Lewis Cornwell, Treasurer
All C. Smith, Sheriff
Walter S. Wilson, Clerk of the Courts
John B. Poitevin, Recorder
Newton F. Smith, Supt. Of Com. Schools
Robert Hope, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors

The Towns

As had been before stated the town (Denison) was laid out in 1856 by J. W. Denison from whom it derived its name, and and at that time became the county seat. The town plat embraces about seven hundred acres, the general size of lots being 50 X 150 feet, the principal streets being one hundred feet wide and others eighty.

Among the first settlers were Francis Reynolds and John B. Swain, who put up the first steam saw and grist mill in the place. R. W. Calkins, O. S. Gates, F. W. Buescher, Jacob Whitinger, Morris McHenry, J. F. Seagrave and Eli Baer. Mary Louise Seagrave, born November 13, 1856, was the first birth in the town while the first death was that of a child of Francis Reynolds.

Deloit - This is a village and post office near Mason's Grove, six miles north of Denison. It was laid out by Benjamin Dobson in 1857.

The other villages and post offices are: Boyer River, Dowville, Kiron, Vail and West Side.

Source: Andreas, A. T. Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa. 1875. Andreas Atlas Co., Lakeside Building, Chicago, Illinois.