History of Garden Grove
Garden Grove Township
Decatur County, Iowa

The history of the Mormon migration goes back several years before they came to Nauvoo, Illinois after being forced out of the State of Missouri. The settlement site at Nauvoo has been preserved as a historical site, a step back into time when the settlement thrived.

Following the death of Joseph Smith, Jr. and his brother Hyram Smith [June 27, 1844 at Carthage Jail] the Mormons began their long trek across the State of Iowa, headed for the Great Salt Lake Valley in the territory that would become the State of Utah. The first wagons, those belonging to Charles SHUMWAY, began leaving Nauvoo on February 4, 1846.

Although February 4th felt like spring, the Mormons found themselves braving snow on February 14th and another 8-inches of snow with a bitter northwest wind on February 19th. To add to their suffering, the migrants were plagued by a lack of food, their supplies depleted within a few weeks.

Stephen MARKHAM headed a Pioneer Company that proceeded the migrants to scout out the best routes, located trading settlements, build bridges and make other preparations for those who followed.

William PRATT and his brass band provided some musical entertainment for the suffering migrants. Many times, when arriving at southern Iowa communities, the band gave formal concerts which helped raise funds for the purchase of food and supplies. Members of the party did what they could to improve their predicament by hiring out to split rails, dig wells, husk corn, and other such work when they could find it. Some did plastering or masonry work.

As the migrants made their way westward, spring arrived with additional hardships. Melting snow created swollen rivers and creeks; strong winds drove constant rain; and the once frozen ground became quagmires of mud. With wagons mired down in the mud, the migrants were lucky if they traveled more than a half mile per day.

Not only were the Mormons suffering, their draft animals did too, becoming weak and exhausted from the harsh conditions and the lack of affordable feed grain along the way.

By April 25th the Mormons reached a spot approximately halfway across Iowa and 144 miles west of Nauvoo. They named this spot Garden Grove.

Garden Grove, located on Pottawattamie [Sac and Fox] land on the eastern bank of the Weldon Fork of the Grand River, was the first permanent settlement that served as a Mormon way-station from 1846 to 1852. Cabins which were supplied with well water served as a resting place for those who were unable to continue on westward. When the families were able to continue their journey, the cabin and surrounding grounds and fields served the next family to arrive from Nauvoo, Illinois during their westward journey.

Orson PRATT wrote on May 10, 1846, "A large amount of labour has been done since arriving in this grove: indeed the whole camp are very industrious. Many houses have been built, wells dug, extensive farms fenced, and the whole place assumes the appearance of having been occupied for years, and clearly shows what can be accomplished by union, industry, and perseverance."

Within the first three weeks at Garden Grove, the Mormons had broken 714 acres of stubborn prairie sod. 200 people were assigned to improve this first way-station.

The second permanent way-station was located at Mount Pisgah, located near today's Thayer in Union County, Iowa. Soon Mount Pisgah grew larger and more significant than Garden Grove with over 2,000 inhabitants. However, in adequate shelter from the severe Iowa elements and a lack of food claimed between 300 to 800 settlers. The last of the Mormon pioneers left Mount Pisgah in 1852. Henry Peters bought the land, naming the site Petersville. Gravestones at Mount Pisgah's cemetery were either destroyed by the elements or long ago removed. A obelisk monument was erected in 1888 to honor those who perished at Mount Pisgah. Today the site is a nine-acre park and part of the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail.

". . . Every county plat held its own small drama. In Decatur, Garden Grove was a reminder of the permanent way camp (1846-1852) established by Brigham Young and the leaders of the Saints for the sick and the poor and the emigrants who were to follow. Journals left by members of the first party reveal a portrait of beehive industry. "At the sound of the horn" one of them wrote, the work began on the morning of April 27, 1846. A hundred men hewed logs and laid crisscross fences. A half hundred felled trees and shaped logs for buildings. Others dug wells, mended plowshares, struggled with the reluctant sod and planted crops. Within two weeks the job was well under way and the wagons rolled out, west by northwest, toward the Missouri [River]. . . ."
~ Greene, Lida L. Markers for Remembrance: The Mormon Trail. Vol. 16, No. 3. p. 191. The Annals of Iowa. Iowa State Historical Society. Iowa City IA. 1970.

From Garden Grove, the Mormons traveled across southern Iowa to Winter Quarters located near present-day Omaha, Nebraska.

While he camped near Locust Creek near Corydon, Iowa, William CLAYTON heard of the birth of his son back in Nauvoo. Overcome with joy, on April 15, 1946, CLAYTON wrote the hymn "Come, Come, Ye Saints." This hymn became a rallying song embraced by the Mormons.
"Come, come, Ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as you day.
'Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
All is well! All is well!
. . . Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we'll tell -
"All is well! All is well!"
Seven Mormon families were separated from the larger body of migrants in 1846. They wintered in present-day Green Bay Township of Clarke County, Iowa. These winter quarters became known as "Lost Camp." The group remained in this location until they resumed their journey to Utah in 1954.

Today none of the original Garden Grove campsite exists. The town of Garden Grove, however was founded near this site. The local school district was named in honor of these early pioneers, the Mormon Trail School District.

"The Trek Across Iowa." Church History in the Fullness of Times Student Manual. Chapt. 25. Pp. 309-321. 2003.
"Leaving Nauvoo." Mormon Pioneer: Across Iowa in 1846. Chapt. 3. 2003.
"Mount Pisgah" nps.gov/mopi/planyourvisit/site4.htm
Compiled and submitted by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2013
It has been estimated that at one time 300 families resided in and around Garden Grove. Although Garden Grove was platted in 1848, it was not recorded until 1868.

Around the Spring of 1852, the last of the Mormons moved onward West. They left their homes and gardens for others who followed, thus the name "Garden" and "Grove" for the stand of trees found by the first Mormon immigrants.

Settlers before 1856 were: S. F. BAKER, C. R. LAMPMAN, Ben WOOLEY, G. W. PIPER, Hiram CHASE, Edward DAWES, R. D. KELLOGG, D. STEARN, A. B. STEARN, J. R. CARY, Hugh BROWN, J. H. WOODBURY, Thomas CHAMBERLAIN, Nathaniel SHAW, Dan BOWEN, Sylvanus ARNOLD, J. D. BURNS, S. METIER, Hiram CHASE, Thomas LILLARD, John VAIL, S. P. McNEIL, and Robert McBROOM who arrived in 1850.

Early settlers after 1856 were Enos Davis, O. N. KELLOGG, William DAVIS, Amasa J. DAVIS, and several others.

O. N. KELLOGG purchased the first lots available for sale in 1849. He built the Kellogg Hotel, using a Mormon cabin and added another story on top. Kellogg and Enos DAVIS bought the gardens. DAVIS also purchased a cabin. Hiram CHASE and his family arrived in September of 1849, coming directly from Dodge's Point.

E. W. DAWES purchased the hotel property and named the business Dawes House. Later hotels were The Ohio House and Amos House.

Mordecai SMITH and Daniel WINTERS came from Lee County, Iowa, and settled about four miles northwest of Garden Grove. Because Daniel WINTERS was a minister of the Missionary Baptist Church, locals called the area Gospel Ridge.

Josiah MORGAN arrived with his family and purchased a claim west of town. He repaired the Mormon Mill. Later he moved to a farm on Gospel Ridge. Sylvanus ARNOLD bought the MORGAN property and called the area White Oak.

Early merchants were Henry B. NOTSON and Jehu BLADES. Daniel HANKINS owned and operated a flouring mill.

The first election was held in 1850. William DAVIS, Victor DOZE, and Hiram CHASE were elected as judges. Hiram CHASE served 20 years as the justice of the peace. He taught classes out of kitchen in 1845.

With the arrival of the railroad in 1871, Garden Grove experienced a boom in growth. The town was incorporated in the fall of 1879 with John D. BURNS as the first mayor.

G. W. Piper was the first postmaster, followed by A. B. STEARN, C. SHAW, J. W. BOYLE, J. O. PARRISH, and John D. BURNS.

Josephine KELLOGG, daughter of O. N. [and Harriet] KELLOGG, was the first child born in Garden Grove.

The first sawmill was drawn in from Keokuk by Tom KNAPP driving sixteen yoke of oxen, a team of horses, an two specially made wagons. The mill was set up on the banks of the Weldon River west of Garden Grove. Tom KNAPP paid the freight bill, $560.

An Englishman, John DAVIS, and his wife walked from Keokuk, carrying their small child and luggage. They arrived in Garden Grove, building the first frame house. The house was improved and later purchased by A. C. SHAW.

A fire destroyed a solid block from the corner of Main and Jefferson Streets east in February of 1884. Losses included Jenning's General Store, Woodbury's drug store, Craig's barber shop, Knapp's meat market, Brown's grocery, F. E. Stearns & Co. general store, McCaull's boot and shoe shop, Rideway's harness shop, and the post office.

On June 7, 1865, The Temple Lodge No. 170, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons was chartered with B. W. RICHARDS, first worshipful master. E. H. ALEXANDER was senior warden and A. CULVER was the junior warden. The lodge built a hall in 1869, costing $1,600.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows met from 1864 to 1872 before moving to Humeston, Iowa.

The Henry WALTON Post No. 312, Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was mustered on April 8, 1883 with approximately 12 members. First offices were held by Bryson BRUCE, S. L. WOOD, W. H. KEHLER, C. D. WHEELAND, V. L. CHESTER, Willis HINE, C. R. HALL, C. E. MATER, and Michael SULLIVAN. [Henry WALTON served during the Civil War as a 1st Lieutenant of Company D of the 34th Regiment of the Iowa Volunteer Infantry.]

The Decatur County Banking Association, under the guidance of D. and A. B. STEARNS and L. P. SIGLER, established the Garden Grove Bank in July of 1880. G. J. WOODBURY was the cashier.

Dan and A. B. STEARNS left Ohio and settled in Garden Grove in 1854. A. B. became an employee of G. W. PIPER, the only merchant in Garden Grove at the time. Whiskey was sold freely with the largest sales occurring on Sundays. Sylvanus ARNOLD, who had made the contract of A. B. STEARN'S employment, stipulated that STEARNS would not sell liquor on Sundays. PIPER accepted the agreement, breaking up the Sunday whiskey trade. Eventually A. B. bought PIPER'S store and went into business with his brother Dan.

In November of 1883, C. S. STEARNS & Brothers began their banking business. They established the First National Bank in 1900 with C. S. as president and F. E. as vice-president. It later merged into the Commercial bank with C. S. STEARNS as president and H. J. CULVER vice-president.

NOTE: Garden Grove's depot was torn down in 1964.

SOURCE: Howell, Professor J. M. and Smith, Heman C. "History of Decatur County Iowa and Its People" Vol. I. S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. Chicago. 1915.
Transcribed by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2013
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