Adams Township History
This township is the second one from the west, in the south tier of townships in Dallas county, and is known in the government surveys as ,congressional township 78, north, of range 28, west, of the 5th principal meridian. The South Raccoon river passes almost centrally through it, east and west, while Panther creek flows into it from the north, and Bear creek from the southwest, each emptying- into said river near the middle of the township, about a mile apart.
Adams township is, therefore, well supplied with water, drainage, timber, coal, stone and mill privileges, as well as fertile soil and excellent farming lands, both on the prairies and capacious river bottoms.
The settlements are becoming quite thick, the land being principally taken up and cultivated, and it has a good many well improved farms, the citizens being generally enterprising, thrifty, and well-to-do farmers.
Like that of Van Meter township, the district of country now known as Adams township, was for a long time divided up, and constituted parts of other townships, a strip off the north side about two miles wide being joined to Adel township, and the remainder, in connection with part of the west half of Van Meter, forming what was called 'Coon township for a while, and then finally all was thrown into Adel township, and so remained for a number of years, until the following order, as found on the records, settled it in its present form, January 4th, 1869:
Ordered, That congressional township No. 78,
range No. 28. heretofore included in the township of Adel, be formed into
a new township; and that the boundaries of said new township shall be the
boundaries of said congressional township 78, range 28; and that said
township shall be called and known as Adams township. And it is further
This order established the new township of Adams in its present form, and no order appears on record of its having been changed since, being still bounded by the lines of said congressional township 78, range 28.
The new township was named after Stephen Adams, one of its present honored citizens, who was one of the influential ones in getting it set off from Adel, and organized as a separate township, as above described.
It appears that a difference of opinion existed with regard to a railroad tax about to be voted on in Adel township, to which tax most of the citizens of Adams were opposed. In order to save further trouble and settle the matter peaceably, and in the most satisfactory manner to all, a petition was gotten up, signed by Mr. Adams and others, and presented to the county court, asking that the territory above described be set apart and organized as a separate township, which petition was granted, and Mr. Adams was appointed by the court to complete the organization of the said township in pursuance of law, the township thus taking the name of Adams.
We are indebted to Mr. George S. Hills for the principal information regarding the early settlement of Adams township, who came in May 18, 1846, and settled on his present homestead, sections 10, 11, 14 and 16, where he still lives, comfortably fixed and well provided. John Longmire, his neighbor, adjoining on the west, and Tristram Davis, who settled just adjoining the latter on the west, were perhaps the first settlers in Adams township. Mr. Longmire and Mr. Davis came in the month of February, 1846, selected their claims, made some improvements, and returned for their families, and then moved out here again, arriving May 14, 1846; at the same time with George S. Hills, John Davis, a brother, and Levi Davis, a son of Tristram Davis, and perhaps others, all came in at the same time and settled along the north side of South Raccoon, adjoining one another, with their farms extending down on the fertile river bottom lands.
Levi A. Davis settled on a claim just east of George S. Hi1ls, while his uncle, John Davis, settled just west of Tristram's claim, and that fall Archibald Crowl came in and settled on a claim just west of John Davis.
During the summer or early fall of 1847, Nathan and Abner McKeen settled on the west side of Panther creek. There are doubtless other settlers who came in during this period of time, whose names and locations and dates of arrival we cannot ascertain, but the above named persons were among the first and, perhaps, the principal ones. The settlement and improvement gradually increased until the year 1850, when there was quite a brisk immigration which filled up the township quite rapidly. The winters of 1847-8, and 1848-9 were considered by the settlers as the hardest they ever witnessed before or since, and it required very careful work and management on the part of all in order to succeed in wintering through.
The north half of Adams township was generally settled first, along the timber and bottom lands of the South Raccoon and Panther creek, and in these localities are now found the greatest number of old settlers, and some of, the best farms in the township. Other localities, however, were gradually settled, and with their greatly increased advantages were not long in catching up with their older neighbors.
The first claim-pen in the township was built by Tristram Davis in the spring of 1846. It was simply a log pen about sixteen feet square, built up hurriedly so as to form the sides of a house, and let stand there for awhile so as to secure his claim. He afterward covered it with bark and lived in it all summer.
John Longmire built the first log house in the township, in the spring of 1846, also. It was 16x18 feet, built of round logs scotched down at the corners during the process of building, and afterward the sides were hewed down, making it a finished hewed-log house, in which he lived many years, until he next built a larger hewed-log house.
George S. Hills built the first frame house in the township, 24x48 feet, a story and a-half high, with a one-story kitchen, in 1857, in which he lived until a few years ago, when he built another new frame house, his present residence.
The first death that occurred in the township was that of a child of some travelers passing through, whose name is unknown.
The child died on the journey and was buried in the Davis burying ground. This burying-ground was located on the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 16, and was a donation of Tristram Davis to the general public for that purpose, but it was never deeded to anyone. When he sold out he made a reservation of the grave-yard land, but still failed to deed it to trustees, and it still remains in that unsettled condition, for which reason, perhaps, not very many have felt secure in burying their friends and relations there, not knowing into whose hands it might fall.
The first death among the settlers of the township was that of Miss Matilda Hill, and her sister Malinda also died about two weeks afterward. These deaths occurred in July, 185G, and the remains of both were interred in the Davis burying-ground.
There are at least two other places of burying in the township, though only one of these is regularly fenced. It is south of the river, on section 14, and this one, with the Davis burying-ground, are the only ones fenced in the township.
There is no church building in Adams township, and no church organization that we can learn of; the people generally going to the neighboring towns to church.
The first attempt at building a school-house in the township promised fairly at first but finally proved a failure. The need of such an institution being felt, the citizens met and decided on their plan, each one agreeing to do his share by furnishing necessary materials. Some promised to furnish the materials for the sides, others the ribs, others the roof, others the floor, etc., etc., and the plan seemed to be working nicely; but it turned out that some of those who promised were prompt and faithful to fulfill their promises, while others failed, so the whole scheme fell through, and the result was they had no school-house until one was built by law, in 1853, which was a frame house 16x18 feet, situated on the southeast quarter of section 11.
The contract for building this house was let, with the understanding that when the property of the district so increased as to be sufficient to payoff this debt by a tax of 15 mills on the dollar, a tax should then be levied to that effect and the debt paid off.
At this time the entire township constituted one district, being then only part Penoach township, and the house being so far distant from many parts of the school district when finished, it was not at all profitable or convenient for many families to send to the school, and such did not feel like submitting to the tax levy for this purpose.
It was proposed by George S. Hills and others, in view of these difficulties that all those living sufficiently convenient to the new school-house should pay their per cent of the proposed tax in advance, and thus payoff the contractors and workmen. This was done, and a sufficient amount in this way was soon raised and paid in, and all the debt squared, those paying their money, in the mean time, each taking a note from the district for the amount paid, to draw ten per cent interest until the district should be able to lift them, or until the school district should become small enough for all within its bounds to attend the school, then a tax should be levied and' the notes raised.
The original cost, including house and apparatus, was $161, and notes were given out by the district for this amount, in return for money paid in, and loaned by individuals to pay off this debt. These notes range in amounts from $3 to $25, and by some mismanagement on the part of those placed in charge of financial affairs of the district, none of these notes have ever yet been paid, but are treasured, rusty and worn, by those who, loaned the money for the benefit of the district in the time of need, and for the advancement of the cause of education.
The following is a copy of one of these notes held by George S. Hills, which, after an hour's search, was dug out of a huge pile of old papers, where it had remained buried for years. The original note was not drawn on buckskin but it will wear yet for many years, and would be as good as gold if he could only draw the money on it. But he congratulates himself that he is not alone in the boat, as there are numerous others in with him, and some singing to the tune of $25. The note reads as follows:
To the Treasurer of District No.4, Penoach Township:
You are hereby authorized to pay Geo. S. Hills ten dollars, with interest at ten per cent per annum until paid, from date. This January the 13th, A. D. 1854.
This house was built by J. W. Garoutte, in 1853, and was used as the school-house of that district until about six years ago, when a new one was built, and the old one was moved away for a dwelling-house, for which purpose it is still in use.
The first public school in the township was taught in this house during the winter of 1854-5, by Samuel J. Garoutte.
Miss Mary Holt succeeded him as teacher the next term, and kept a private school in the same school-house, being paid by George S. Hills.
Stephen Adams, for whom the township was named-taught the first
There are now ten good school-houses in the township.
The first water-mill in the township was built in 1856, by Charles Bilderback, on the northwest half of section 16, on the banks of the South Raccoon river, the same site where Mitchel & Payton's mill now stands, and Samuel J. Garoutte was the millwright who constructed it.
Messrs. Mitchell & Payton afterward purchased the property and now have a fine water-power flouring mill, kept in good repair and doing a thriving business. This is the only mill in the township.
There is plenty of coal in the township, along the streams, in thin veins eighteen to twenty inches in thickness, but no mines of great importance have yet been opened-and worked. Marsh's bank is the only one worked to any extent in the township.
The Bear creek stone-quarry is also located in Adams township, and is perhaps the most extensive one in the county.
They are not working it now to any great extent but in the summer seasons from twenty to thirty hands general1y employed.
Adams township also has one fine iron bridge across the South Raccoon river at Mitchell & Payton's mill, 160 feet long, and also one at Panther creek, built by the county.
The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad passes through the south east comer of Adams township, and the stone-quarry branch runs up from Earlham, a distance of about a mile and a-half from the south line. The township has no post-office in its limits, but De Soto and Earlham supply the need.
Source History of Dallas County, Iowa its Cities
and Towns by Union Historical Company in 1880. Published by Mills & Co. in
Des Moines, IA.
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