Van Meter History
This town is a station on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, and is something of a mining town. It is situated on the northwest corner of section 27 and the northeast corner of section 28, and is therefore within a mile of the center of' Van Meter north and south, and about in the exact center east and west. Its site is in the valley of the main Raccoon River, and being thus on low valley land, it is surrounded with high hills and woodlands, which afford some attractive natural scenery.
This main railroad passing through it makes it an important shipping point, not only for stock and general farm produce, but also for wood and coal, there being an abundance of timber in that vicinity, from which the railroad company and various prairie towns along the road obtain large amounts of cord-wood. There is also a good coal mine opened and in good working order at that point, the largest in the county, which makes pretty large shipments and sales of coal each year. The account of this mine is given in full under "Coal Mines," in the first part of this work.
Considerable wood is being delivered to the railroad company, and a contract of about 1,500 cords of wood is now being filled.
The town was laid out about 1869, and the land on which it stands was formerly owned by Mr. Wilson. Clayton's addition was afterward made.
The first house in the town was built by Mr. Wilson, the former owner of the land, and this house was perhaps built before the town was laid out.
E. D. Smith kept the first store in the town, and carried a mixed stock of goods.
The first postmaster was W. H. B. Wilson, and the present one is W. H. Jennings.
The town now has about 300 inhabitants, and is surrounded by a rich country and thick settlement of we1l-to-do, thrifty farmers.
The town of Van Meter was incorporated a little more than a year ago. The petition for incorporation was granted June 1, 1877, and was filed for record December 28, 1877. J. R. Van Meter, T. E. Moore, G. O. Briggs, W. H. Jennings and B. F. Goar were duly appointed as commissioners on corporation and corporation elections. We have not been able to ascertain who were the first town officers elected, nor the date on which the first election was held, but it was not long after the petition of incorporation was granted by the court.
The following is a list of the present officers:
Bullis. Recorder-M. A. Little. Treasurer-Phillip Hunt.
THE PUBLIC SCHOOL-BUILDING.
In the town is a two-story frame structure, of two rooms. It was built about 1870, and a good school is taught in it, with quite a large number of pupils in attendance. There are two teachers employed. Principal--J. F. Curren; Assistant-Miss Hoover.
The town has no lawyers and no saloons, rather singular coincident, especially for a mining town; but the people are generally peaceable and prosperous, and go forward industriously in the even tenor of their ways.
There are two churches in the town, each well finished, comfortable frame buildings. The United Brethren Church, Rev. S. E. Dennis, pastor, and the M. E. Church, Rev. Osborn, pastor, each having a large membership for the size of the town.
We would be glad to give a more complete sketch of each of these churches, but cannot, as the material is not at hand. A request was made for each party to send in the statistics, but they have not come; hence the omission.
The following is a list of the business houses and firms as they stood at the beginning of the year 1879, as nearly as could be ascertained:
W. H. Jennings, dry goods, groceries and general stock; Goar Brothers, dry
goods, groceries and general stock.
Hardware.-C. W. Bogue, general stock.
Drug Stores.-M. A. Little, J. B. Rubinson.
Restaurant.-H. A. Bullis.
Notion Store.-Richard Graham.
Millinery Store.-Charles Linthurst.
Blacksmith Shops.-Samuel Hobaugh, McNair Brothers, blacksmith and wagon
Carpenters.-Alexander Logan, A.. C. Akers.
Physicians.-Dr. C. M. Dodge, Dr. C. K. Smith, Dr. Kirk Woodruff.
Harness Shop.-S. L. Doty.
Meat Markets.-W. T. Clayton, Welch & Hunt.
Shoe Shop.-L. S. Thomas,
Express Agent.-.M. A. Little.
Station Agent.-Charles Linthrust. His son is the telegraph operator.
Hotel.-Graham House, Richard Graham, proprietor. The property and
building are owned by C. McCoy.
Boarding Houses.-H. A. Bullis, proprietor; C. M. Dodge, proprietor.
Flouring Mill.-J. R. Vanmeter.
Grain Dealer.-Samuel Cook.
Elevator. -Owned by W. B. White, of Des Moines. It. was built by Miles White, being the first and only one in the town. It is a large one well fitted up, and through it is shipped a great deal of grain annually.
Lodge, I. O. O. F., No. 257.-This lodge was organized by grant of charter in
1871, with five members, whose names are as follows: Stephen Adams, Shubal
Ellis, S. L. Doty, William Hoffstott and J. D. Ellis.
The present officers are: L. W. Clayton, N. G.; S. B. Kenworthy, V. G.; F. M. Ross, Rec. Sec.; Philip Hunt, Perm. Sec.; William Hoffstott, Treasurer.
The ex-officers just retiring are: J. S. Hall, N. G.; L. W. Clayton, V. G.; H. R. Van Meter, Rec. Sec.; Philip Hunt, Perm. Sec.; William Hoffstott, Treasurer.
The present membership numbers 26. The lodge was at one time much more prosperous until about three years ago last fall when another lodge at Booneville, called "Forest Lodge," was organized by grant of charter from this lodge, which greatly reduced the numbers and strength, taking at one time 16 members from this lodge. But they are now regaining from this embarrassment and are increasing gradually in growth and influence.
Rebecca Lodge.-This lodge was organized in October, 1874, by grant of charter from the 'Coon Valley Lodge, and for a while was quite flourishing; but of late it has been neglected somewhat, and during the past year have held no regular meetings. The object was a benevolent one and while in working order the designs were effectually carried out by the members.
The charter members were, as nearly as we can ascertain, as follows: Mrs. William Hoffstott, Mrs. William Shull, Mrs. A. M. Logan, Mrs. S. Parks, Mrs. J. J. Smith, Mrs. J. D. Ellis, Mrs. S. L. Doty, Mrs. F. M. Evans and Mrs. A. Pearse.
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