A Compilation History of Grand River

Richland Township
Decatur County, Iowa
The land where Grand River eventually was established originally was an ancestral hunting and gathering ground for the Sac and Fox. They harvested sugar maple sap in the spring and nuts in the fall. During the winter of 1851-52, approximately two hundred Pottawattamies encamped on the creek west of the YOUNG farm, located east of present-day Grand River.

One time, while camping on the YOUNG farm, the women 'borrowed' a young William H. "Bill" YOUNG. At the end of the day, he was returned to his mother, fully clothed in buckskins and moccasins which were adorned with beadwork.

My grandfather, Homer FOLAND, often would find artifacts such as arrowheads and stone implements while working in his fields.

With the upcoming arrival of the Humeston & Shenandoah Railroad, the town located approximately a mile from the west bank of the Grand River was laid out in 1881 by E. C. PERKINS for the Town Lot Corporation. The corporation was organized with the purpose of laying out towns along the route of the railroad.

This site was selected after the town of Westerville, located north of the site, passed down the railroad's office to establish it as a railhead.

Several of the early residents suggested names for the new town, which included Beulah and Westerville. During a public meeting held in 1881, C. H. CHAPMAN, proprietor of the Chapman House, made a motion to call the town Grand River. His motion carried and the name was adopted.

When lots were opened for sale, they sold rapidly. The town had a good business from its very start, helped by the existence of the railroad.

By 1886 the following businesses were established:
                    S. C. Jennings, general store Brothers and Fear, general store
 Samuel Landes, barber shop Bay Brothers, grocery store and livery stable
 Wm. B. Howard, agricultural implements A. C. Turner, wagon & blacksmith shop
 C. Smith, harness shop & coal Dr. Bone and Cole, drug store
 C. W. Stanley, general merchandise Taylor & Overholtzer, meat market
 Kirkendall & Day, wagon & blacksmith shop Treanor Sisters, millinery shop
 J. D. Hargove, Valley House Hotel Chas. H. Chapman, Chapman Hotel
 Patrick Griffin, Postmaster Noah Farenstaff, clothing store
 The school building was erected in 1876; Union Church in 1881.

At the first meeting of the town council December 26, 1899, the following were sworn into office:
Patrick Griffin, Mayor James C. Brothers, Clerk A. L. Ackerley, Treasurer
T. T. Beck, Councilman J. Switzer, Councilman J. H. Crees, Councilman
Wood Binning, Councilman J. W. Robinson, Councilman
V. R. McGinnis drew up the articles of incorporation.

The only serious problem that Grand River faced was that there wasn't a bridge over the river. This problem was resolved when an iron bridge was constructed in the summer of 1887, located 1/2 mile east of town.
Early residents of Grand River included: Schuyler JENNINGS, C. H. CHAPMAN, A. R. TAYLOR, John BURHAM, Dr. H. C. BONE, Doctor LANDES, W. J. BECK, and H. C. JENNINGS.

The first business building, known as the Blue Front, was constructed by BOSWORTH & MILLIGAN. The Blue Front operated as a grocery store until it was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1905. Some accounts state that G. W. BRADSHAW established Grand River's first store in 1881. He later entered into partnership with Mr. LAMB. Schuyler C. JENNINGS established a store in 1886.

Patrick GRIFFIN established a bank in 1889. It conducted business as a private institution under the name of Bank of Grand River. A. L. ACKERLY purchased the bank in 1899. It operated as a private bank under the same name until it was incorporated under the name of State Savings Bank of Grand River on July 1, 1900. The name was changed by 1915 with A. L. ACKERLY, president; Patrick GRIFFIN, vice-president; J. C. BROTHERS, cashier; and Charles KELLEY, assistant cashier.

The Farmers Bank was established in 1903 with J. SWITZER, president, and A. R. SWITZER, cashier.

With great fanfare and her streets filled with many celebrants, Grand River her centennial anniversary in 1981.

"Reflections of Grand River: 1881 - 1981." 1981.
Grand River Alumni Book, 1969, Vol. 4
Compilation and submission by Sharon R. Becker, July 2013; updated November 2015
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