Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


Early Deloit History

from 1850

Mason's Grove

Jesse Mason, known, as the mighty hunter, was one of the first of many Mormons who settled in Crawford County. It was after him that Mason's Grove was named. He was born in Garrett County, Kentucky, May 15, 1813.

[NOTE:3-15-17 from Sally Hain I am a descendant of JESSE MASON from Crawford County, Iowa. In your piece: Early Deloit History from 1850 Mason's Grove I figured something out. It says Jesse Mason was born in GARRETT COUNTY, KY, May 15, 1813 There is no GARRETT COUNTY, however if you You Tube: "It's Garrard County!" you will find the Kentucky pronunciation of GARRARD being "GARRETT."

The mystery of Jesse Mason's parentage and family has not been solved.

Civil War records lost from 21 counties as a result of Gen. John Hunt Morgan's and Gen. Lyon's attempts to dislodge Yankee occupation of KY soil. County Courthouses were destroyed by military operations and the remainder of County Courthouses destroyed by Southern Sympathizers.
(* represent those destroyed in military operations)
Bath Co. Owingsville
Breckinridge Co. Hardenburg
*Caldwell Co. Princeton
*Christian Co. Hopkinsville
Clinton Co. Albany
*Crittenden Co. Marion
*Cumberland Co. Burkesville
Daviess Co. Owensboro
Graves Co. Mayfield
Harlan Co. Harlan
*Jackson Co Madisonville
La Rue Co Hogensvillle
Marion Co. Lebanon
Monroe Co Thompkinsville
Montgomery Co. Mt. Sterling
*Ohio Co. Hartford
Powell Co. Stanton
Rowan Co. Moreland
Spencer Co. Taylorsville
*Taylor Co Campbellsville
*Trigg Co. Cadiz

In addition:
Rockcastle Co. Mt Vernon, KY destroyed by fire in 1874

Family and pioneering records were destroyed during the French and Indian Wars and marauding indian raids of settlers and settlements.]

In June 1850, Jesse Mason and his family started out in an ox drawn schooner and followed the divide between Mosquito and Pigeon Creeks until they reached the site of Denison. Here they built a bridge on which to cross the Boyer; it was washed away and they built another. They traveled on until they reached a beautiful virgin forest, 2000 acres in extent on the east side of the Boyer, about six miles as a crow flys, from Dunham's.

Mason was soon joined by Noah V. and George J. Johnson, Calvin Horr, and the Levi Skinner family, fellow Mormons. Before long this community was known as Mason's Grove. Jesse Mason's cabin was on the main route to Council Bluffs and soon became the stopping place of all who were seeking new homes in that part of western Iowa. Mason was like a father to the new settlers and to all the families who were passing this way. He sheltered them, fed them and stabled their teams.

The settlement around Mason's home thrived. Before five years had passed, there was a score of cabins in the grove and a friendly inter-mingling of settlers from Ohio and the east who had joined the Mormons. A Mormon Elder, Thomas Dobson, joined the group in 1851, and some of the eastern settlers accepted the Mormon religion although no church services were held.

Shortly after Benjamin Dobson had erected the first saw and grist mill in the county at Mason's Grove in June, 1854, Rufus Richardson, E. W. Fowler, B. F. Wicks and Clark Winans joined the group at Mason's Grove.

Settlers Defied Hardships and Built Empire

The hardships of pioneer life forced many of the settlers to consider pulling up stakes and going to a safer part of the United States, but Benjamin Dobson had faith in the new country and laid out a town on the farmland of John and Lucy Winans Dobson. Dobson's newly platted settlement had settlers but no buildings, while Denison had a store, a hotel, and a few cabins, but scarcely any settlers.

Deloit Gets its Name

Mason Grove eventually became known as Deloit. During the days of first settlement the mail came irregularly from Galland's Grove. Then, when a post office was established with Benjamin Dobson as postmaster, it became necessary to select a town name. The office was named "Boyer Valley" and then "Bloomington", but there were too many Bloomingtons in the United States, so the postal department requested that some other name be chosen. Mason, Mason Grove and Mason City were suggested, but finally the name "Beloit" was chosen. Belatedly the authorities found there were already to many Beloits, so rather than hunt up a new name the "B" was changed to "D" and a rather unique village name was coined.

Among the early postmasters to follow Dobson were Ethan McKim, Captain B. F. Darling, E. F. Fegtley and N. L. Hunt. Later postmasters until 1911 were Scott McKim, Sylvester Horr, J. C. Cose and Ray Shives.

Though the oldest town in the county, Deloit was the second to be surveyed into town lots. Denison was the first since it had become the county seat and later a railroad point. Deloit grew very slowly - a small town where various families intermarried and grew up as one big family. Even today, a Deloit resident speaks with great care about his neighbor; he's probably a distant relative! Deloit remained a good trading point for local farmers and takes pride in being the birthplace of Crawford County settlement.

In 1854 the first election of officers for Milford Township was held at the home of Thomas Dobson. Those elected were Benjamin Dobson, Franklin Prentice and Calvin Horr, trustees; Thomas Dobson, Justice of the Peace and assessors: Alonzo R. Hunt, Justice of the Peace and township clerk , O. F. Prentice and Calvin Horr, constables. All later township organizations evolved from this small beginning.

Thomas Dobson became the first Justice of the Peace and performed the first marriages. On October 12, 1853, he united George J. Johnson and Elizabeth Mason, Noah V. Johnson and Jane Mason, and Calvin Horr and Elizabeth Mowery. These were about all the marriageable young people at that time in the area, and the licenses had to be procured from the county judge of Shelby County.

Fourth of July in Deloit in 1857

In spite of the fact that Indian scares had made many people in the county give up their homesteads and leave, Deloit decided to hold a county-wide Fourth of July celebration in 1857. This was the first celebration in the first organized county. After the cost of a flag had been taken from the $14.70 collected for the affair, the rest of the money was turned over to the women, who used it to prepare a dinner for all who attended.

When the young and old were gathered around the feast, which the women had spread on long tables set under trees, several of the settlers played stirring airs on their fifes and drums, and everyone forgot for a time the privations and dangers of frontier life.

First School Was Rustic in 1856

Log walls, a floor, slab seats for benches and a dirt fireplace. That is the description of the first school house in Crawford County, started Nov. 4, 1856, at Mason's Grove, one-half mile outside of present Deloit. The teacher, Morris McHenry, was paid by donations from the scholars and parents. The Dobson's had cut and piled logs to be ready whenever a location could be found.

Finally the time came in November 1856 when they passed the word that the building would be raised on a certain day. Everyone work hard to accomplish the job. The Dobsons sawed the lumber, dug the mud, and made the stick chimney for the fireplace. With the neighbors assisting, the schoolhouse was completed, even to the latch string in the door, by December 15, 1856. The first school in Crawford County was then opened.

Boyer Bridge Completed in 1860

Dobson's mill was only across the river from Deloit, but a bridge was not completed until 1860. John A McIntosh directed the first church service of the Latter Day Saints in the small Deloit school house in August 1858. A brick chapel was finally erected in 1866. Four years later a Mormon church was organized with eleven charter members and Elder Thomas Dobson was resident pastor. During the 1860's there were nearly a hundred Mormons in and about Deloit, and the little church held services in three different school houses, on alternate Sundays, until a brick church was erected at Deloit in 1866.

First Pioneers of Mason's Grove and Deloit

Jesse Mason was born in Garrett County, Kentucky, May 15, 1813. He married Malinda Edwards in 1832, and they became the parents of six children. Malinda died in 1845. Jesse then married Eliza Johnson and they became the parents of nine children.

While the family lived in Mason Grove a small band of Sioux Indians stopped at the Mason home while Jesse was away on a hunt. He returned home just in time to find the Indians about to appropriate everything in sight. He cut himself a good big whip and ran at them, hitting all that he could reach, shouting "get right out!". He succeeded in driving them across the Boyer River. Eliza and the children were very frightened.

When Jess died, October 25, 1891, he was living at Lamoni, Iowa.

John and Lucy Dobson: He was born December 21, 1834, another son of Benjamin and Keziah Dobson, in Tazewell County, Illinois. When old enough he commenced work in the fields of his father's farm. Later, he used an ox team to break the land on the site that later became the town of Deloit. Among his earliest recollections were the many trips to Council Bluffs, hauling lumber and other merchandise.

On February 18, 1855, he married Lucy Jane Winans, who was born May 22, 1836, near Warren, Trimble County, Ohio. She was the daughter of Clark and Catherine Winans, early-day settlers of Deloit.

The Dobson became the parents of the following children: Marina, who became the wife of Jesse Mason; Clinton M., who resided in Washington State; Franklin C,; Julian Elihu and Junius Elias, twins who lived in Idaho; Cara, who became the wife of Graham Wanless; Edith C.; and two deceased.

John and Lucy united with the Reorganized Church in 1866 and established a home at Deloit where the missionaries always found a welcome. After fifty-six years of married life, John died October 1, 1911 at Deloit. Lucy died at the home of her daughter January 6, 1929, survived by five of her children.

Noah V. Johnson, a well-known settler of Mason Grove, was born October 22, 1833, in Clay County, Missouri. He eventually came to Mason Grove where he worked for Jesse Mason. He married Sarah Jane Mason, October 2, 1855. She was Jesse Mason's daughter, Noah and Sara Jane became the parents of twelve children.

Noah, in addition to his job at the mill and farming pursuits, became engaged in stock raising and was a prominent citizen of the community.

Alonzo H. and Margaret Hunt: He was born in Saratoga County, New York, the son of Walter Hunt of English ancestry. Alonzo was reared and educated in New York and, in 1848, came west. He first located near Dunlap, Harrison County, and then came to the Mason Grove (Deloit) area. He married Margaret Dobson, daughter of Benjamin Dobson.

Alonzo served in the Civil War and died from his wounds in an Omaha hospital while still in service. After the death of her husband, Margaret returned to her father's home in Deloit and died November 25, 1905, survived by three sons and one daughter.

David McKim, widower, moved to Deloit with his family in 1869. He was born May 21, 1822, at Potterville, Pennsylvania, the son of James and Elizabeth. He married Malida Phillips, March 9, 1848. To this union were born seven children.

The girls, who became Mrs. J. L. Miller, Mrs. Anna Winans and Mrs. George Winans all came to Deloit with their father. A son, William, became active at Deloit and later went to Independence and sons Scott and Raub went to Des Moines. In Deloit, David married Mrs. Elizabeth Finch on April 12, 1877. Called "Uncle David" he lived with his daughter Mrs. J. L. Miller and died at the age of ninety-one on July 8, 1913.

Prominent Citizens of Deloit

Source: Biographical History of Crawford, Ida and Sac Counties, Iowa, Lewis Publishing Company, 1893.

R. H. Childress, one of the successful business men of Crawford county, was born September 2, 1846, a son of J. M. Childress, Sr. He was reared in Clark and Lewis counties, Missouri, received a good education, and in 1886 bought an interest in a sawmill in Mills County, Iowa. He did a profitable business there for some time, but sold out before the erection of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad in Iowa, in 1878.

He came to Crawford County the same year and rented land for a time near Vail. In 1887 he bought his present farm of 120 acres of rich land, which is now well improved, has a good barn, an orchard of small fruits, and raises a fine grade of cattle.

He was married at Vail, Iowa, to Miss Sarah L. Botts, who was born, reared and educated in Lewis county, Missouri, a daughter of Ben Botts.

James Wickwire, one of the successful and enterprising farmers of Crawford County, was born in Clinton County, Iowa, December 7, 1858, a son of Charles Wickwire, a native of Madison County, New York, and of English and Scotch ancestry. Our subject's mother was formerly Christina Fulck, of Pennsylvania Dutch descent.

James was reared and educated in his native county, where he remained until 1880. In that year he bought and improved wild land in Crawford county, which is now one of the best farms in the neighborhood. He owns 320 acres, has a beautiful dwelling of gothic style erected at a cost of $1,250. His barn at 34 x 40 feet cost $600.

George Winans, a farmer of Crawford County, was born near Sheffield, Bureau County, Illinois, February 18, 1848, a son of Clark and Catherine (Shively) Winans, natives of Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

The parents (Clark Winans Sr.) were married in Trumbull County, Ohio and soon afterward went to Hamilton County, Illinois, two years later to Bureau County, Illinois, in 1854 came on with ox teams to Boone, Iowa and September 17, 1854, landed in Crawford County. Clark Sr. bought a claim of Jesse Mason, on which was a small house and a few acres broken. A few years later a good frame dwelling was built on the old site, also large barns and other conveniences.

Mr. and Mrs. Winans were the parents of ten children, Lucy Dobson of Deloit, Iowa was his daughter by the first marriage. Mr. Winans held the office of County Supervisor eleven years and was a popular man in his community.

George Winans was reared on the old home farm, and in early life was employed in driving ties for the North Western Railroad, also worked some years for Sol L. Slater, his brother-in-law. He now owns a fine farm of 270 acres, a good dwelling, beautiful groves and orchards and everything necessary for a well- regulated farm.

Mr. Winans was married September 27, 1877, at Denison, Iowa, to Miss Sabina McKim, a native of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, and a daughter of David McKim, of Deloit. She was nine years of age when she came to this city, were she was reared and educated.

George Winans and wife have one son and two daughters: Ray, born August 6, 1878; Mabel Fay, July 17, 1883; and Bessie Clare, March 1, 1886.

J. M. Childress, a successful business man of Crawford County, was born in Clark County, Missouri, June 16, 1850, a son of J. M. Childress, Sr., who was born on the Licking River, Kentucky. The latter was a son of John Childress, a member of an old and prominent Virginia family.

J. M. Childress, Sr., removed to Clark County, Missouri, when a young man, received a college education in his native State, and was a lawyer by profession. He was in the Clerk's office at Waterloo, Missouri for a time and was one of the first County Surveyors of the county, having made many important surveys. He also did a large mercantile business for many years.

J. M. Childress was reared in Clark County, Missouri, until 1863, and in that year went to Canton, Missouri. In 1874 he came to Crawford County, Iowa and for eight years farmed on rented land near Vail. In 1892 he bought his present fine farm, where he has a good Southern style house, and a beautiful grove and orchard.

Mr. Childress was married in Lewis county, Missouri, to Miss Charlotte E. Botts, a native of the county, and a daughter of Ben and Martha (Lincoln) Botts. Mr. Childress and wife have had eight children, namely: Charlie Tilden, Mattie Conyers, Amy Blanche, Harry Milton, Elsie Mabel, Rob Harvey, Josephine and Charlotte Lois.

Mr. Childress has served as Trustee of his township, as a member of the School Board and is an intelligent and popular business man.

Deloit News Articles in the Denison Bulletin, 1873 - 1898

Sources: 100 years Progress Edition of the Denison Review and Bulletin - 1851-1952

Roots of the Reorganized Latter Day Saints in Southern Iowa by Pearl Wilcox.

Biographical History of Crawford, Ida and Sac Counties, Iowa, Lewis Publishing Company, 1893.

We thank Melba McDowell for submitting this material.