The Town of Adel History
This town is the county-seat of Dallas County, and has a delightful situation on the west bank of the North Raccoon River, on sections 29 and 32, township 79, range 27, the original "town quarter" being the east half of the southwest quarter, and the west half of the southeast quarter of section 29, in the above mentioned township. The original town was surveyed and platted by the county surveyor, Martin W. Miller or Alfred D. Jones, of Des Moines-which work was completed May 22, 1847, the town site having been selected just previously as the proper place for the location of the county-seat of Dallas County, by the locating commissioners appointed by the Legislature for that purpose. The out-lots were afterward surveyed by O. D. Smalley, in July, 1851.
Several additions have been made to the town since it was first established, until it now extends its limits from the river to the west line of section 29, and south for a considerable distance on section 32, including a large tract of land within the corporation. The original plat was situated principally on a beautiful, level plane or second-bottom, near the river, on land formerly owned, or claimed, by John Miller; but now the town extends toward the west, over the high ridge of rolling land which opens back upon the prairie, and affords numerous beautiful building sites, on many of which elegant, commodious and costly residences have been built. Adel was the first town established in the county, and has been compelled to pass through many trials and seasons of discouragement to attain its present stage of progress, and hold its own against the adverse circumstances and influences surrounding and opposing it.
Even from its beginning for many years no very great advantages or encouraging prospects were afforded for its rapid growth and prosperity. The country around was new and uncultivated, and the settlers were yet very few and widely scattered, so that the progress in general development was exceedingly slow and somewhat discouraging for several years; during which time the town of Adel, though the first and only one in the county, made but little increase, either in size or business.
To one living in the county-seat to-day it is a difficult matter to realize what was the appearance of Dallas County and of Adel in the fall of 1847, and for a few years following.
At that early day, to one standing on the high ridge just above the present site of the public school-building and looking down on the original town site as laid off for the county-seat, only a few cabins could be seen, and no shade trees, or foliage, or two and three story brick and frame buildings interrupted the view; and then looking to the west, and north, and south, as far as the eye could see over the trackless, rolling prairies, nothing met the eye but one unbroken sea of prairie grass waving over the uncultivated lands, or the massive tops of forest trees skirting the branches of the Raccoon. No cabins, nor fences, nor barns, nor marks of cultivation and improvement could be seen, save the few original cabins and improvement on and near the site of the county-seat.
The town when first laid out was called Penoach, at the suggestion of the deputy surveyor, A. D. Jones, and retained that name until sometime in 1849, when it received its present name, the exact date of which change of name we have not been able to ascertain, as no record is found on the county books of any order changing it. It was probably done by the Legislature and the record would thus appear in Des Moines.
But much of the early history of the county-seat is necessarily involved in the general history of the county, and being there quite fully given need not be here repeated. (See history of county-seat.)
The first house in town was built by J. O. Corbell in the fall of 1847, on lot 5, block 8.
It was a small log cabin used as a dwelling house and a post-office, the owner being the postmaster and mail carrier from Fort Des Moines.
Ira Sherman sold the first goods in town-as before stated-and not long after him Benjamin Greene and George B. Warden each opened stores about the same time, in 1848 or 1849, Warden occupying the old log courthouse, and Mr. Greene occupying a small building which stood opposite the northeast corner of the court-house square. Each carried a mixed stock of goods, and these were then the only stores in town. Mr. Greene sold out to William Ellis, a few years afterward, who opened a mixed store in a smaJ1 one-story building, which stood on lot 4, block 18, just opposite the southeast corner of the square.
About 1853 Cole Noel also opened a store, keeping a general assortment, on lot 4, block 17, and about 1854-5, E. D. Smith opened a small grocery and notion store on lot 8, block 7, opposite the northwest corner of court-house square.
The first two-story frame store building erected in town was, perhaps, the one which now stands empty on lot 1, block 17. It was built by Wm. Ellis about 1855, and his stock of goods was moved into it that year, just across the street from his first small store.
Among the very first frame dwellings erected was one which stood on lots 7 and 8, block 13, and was afterward converted into a store building, and then, in connection with three other small buildings, it was burned, this being the largest one of the four.
The first brick building erected in the town was the small one-story building now occupied by G. W. Campbell as a tailor shop. This building was erected in 1856 or 1857.
The first brick dwelling house erected in town was one built by C. C. Baird, on an out-lot in the southwest part of town, soon after the brick tailor shop was erected.
The first two-story brick building erected in town is the one now occupied by Leroy Lambert as a dwelling on an out-lot in the west part of town ,on Main street. This building was used as the school-house for a number of years until the present large school-building was erected in 1869. It was built about the same time, or a little before, the present court-house.
The first three-story brick store building erected in town was Risser's large and elegant store building, about 1867-8.
The first hotel in the town was a small story-and-a-half frame building which now forms part of the "Hill House," and stood on the same ground.
Mr. R. R. Bailey kept hotel in it for a long time, as a stage station on the line of the Western Stage Company, from Davenport to Council Bluffs, this being the first and only hotel is town for some time.
In 1855 the "Plank House" was built by Jacob Frush on the site now occupied by the "Forrester House," and when this was finished and put in running order, the stage station was moved to it and thus continued until the line was discontinued. Mr. Frush kept the stage station for some time after his "Plank House" was completed, then sold out to Mr. Hale, who kept it until August, 1863, when he sold to Mr. Forrester, and has since continued under his name, but is now in the possession of A. F. Ford.
Among the first men who preached in town were Thomas Butler, Elder Castle, John P. Glenn and Elder Baird.
In 1855 there were not more than twenty-five houses, all told, in the town, and only three stores, Wm. Ellis, Cole Noel's and E. D. Smith's, as above mentioned, showing that the progress during the first eleven or eight years was not very great. After that, however, buildings and inhabitants and business increased more rapidly.
The town gave two lots for church purposes at an early day; one to the M. E. Church, situated in the northeast corner of town, an out-lot, and one to the Christian Church, situated in the extreme southeast corner of town. But these were never built upon by the churches.
We are indebted to the kindness of Judge Perkins for many of the above statistics, who also informs us that not long after coming to the county and town he performed the marriage ceremony for two colored couple here in Adel, which were the first and last and only colored couple married in the town, and perhaps in the county. The first white couple married in the town we have not been able to ascertain.
Mr. Greene informs us that the first death in town was that of the wife of Isaac Miller, son of Samuel Miller, at a very early day in the town's history.
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