History of Pleasanton, Iowa

by Emma Mark, year unknown

The daughter of Benjamin Lee and Mary Frances (Foxworthy) Mark, Emma Mark was born in Mercer County, Missouri, on December 25, 1872. She wrote two books, "History of Pleasanton" (year unknown) and "The Mark Family History." Emma began writing the manuscript for "The Mark Family History" in 1945. Her manuscript was uncompleted when she died. The work was complied, and fifty copies were given to family members. Roy Mark reorganized the manuscript and professionally published it. ( http://www.roymark.org/the-mark-family-history.html ) Emma died July 28, 1950, Mercer County, Missouri. Emma and her parents were interred at Hamilton Cemetery near Pleasanton, Iowa.


Pleasanton, Iowa is situated in Hamilton township Decatur County. The Iowa Missouri state line forms the southern boundary of the town, the township and the county.

The town is located on what was once rolling prairie. Today in the northeast part of town one can see twenty or thirty miles distant. On the outskirts in other parts of the town beautiful views are to be had for miles distant especially to the south and southwest. Unless hidden by forest equally good views could be had in early times.

Pleasanton is the fourth oldest town in the county, Leon, Decatur, Garden Grove being older. The Population has always been small and it is today the smallest incorporated village of the county.

General farming and stock raising are and always have been the principal industry of the surrounding community. The town is a trading point for the people engaged in these two industries and owes its existence to them.

Pleasanton was founded in 1854 or 55. The abstract of Lat 1, Block 1, upon which is now located Cowle's Garage building, shows that it was sold only by Daniel Bartholow, first owner, to Isaak Seymore, July 5, 1854. Records show the town platt (sic) was filed and recorded September 28, 1855. North of the section line was owned by Daniel Bartholow. Snooks and Bartholow were co-founders of the town - each founding half of the town site. Both Snooks and Bartholow received their patents from [the] U. S. Government May 1, 1855. The obituary of Snook;s youngest daughter, Mrs. David Macy, states she came to Pleasanton with her parents in 1851.

The original site as platted consisted of fourteen blocks, besides the public square, which was not numbered. These fifteen block of varying sizes were platted so as it formed three blocks wide east and west by five blocks long, north and south. The square was the middle block of the middle row. It was and still is bordered by the four main streets of the town, namely Main Street on the west, Pleasant Street on the east, Ward Street on the north and South Street on the south.

The north boundary of the original town was the street passing east and west north of the Christian Union Church. The north boundary line of the town passed between what is now the W. T. Putnam and Steve Parrish residence properties.

Three additons have been made to the original - Wm. Snook's addition, Wm. Loving's addition, and Royal Richardson's addition. Snook's addition consisted of seven blocks grouped around a large unnumbered block designated as College block. The public school building and school grounds consist College block today.

North of College bock is High Street which extends east through a part of Richardson's addition.

By the end of the year 1855 the town, then called Pleasant Plains, might have boasted a dozen houses, shacks, one room log, story and a half logs and some two or three room frames.

Opposite "the square" on the north side about half way between Pleasant and Main stood two one room log houses. In these G.M. Hinkle and a Mr. Nealey kept a general merchandise store. On the same block but facing Main street was the Howard Wilson blacksmith shop. Hinkle had been in business since 1851.

Near the blacksmith shop stood the residence of William Snook who had come in 1851. Back of Snooks dwelling was a well he had dug. It is still in use and pumps well. This well, if not the oldest, is one of the two oldest in the town. The other being on what is now the Clampitt garage lots back of where in 1855 stood the home of John D. Mills. Other early wells were the Snooks well and the Waldrip well.

On the next block, just north of Snooks was the one room house of Dr. David Macy. Dr. Macy arrived that year (1855). He is usually referred to as Pleasantons first physician and probably was after the town was platted but settlers coming in 1854 remember being directed to a Dr. Burns whom they found very ill and unable to answer calls. It is believed that Dr. Burns died in the autumn of 1859. He was a member of the Cainsville Burns family and is probably buried in Cainsville.

On the south side of the square in the southwest corner of what is now the I N. Painter house south of the M.S.U. County telephone office was a small frame shack which one William Wilson kept a small stock of groceries. (Wilson is supposed to have come in 1854). The entire contents of his store would probably not have sold for $100.

Incidentally, Wilson set out the old maple trees west of the Painter lot. These trees were set out not later than the Civil War, probably much earlier.


Pleasanton's first official name was Pleasant Plains given it supposedly by the founders because of its location on a grassy rolling plain. More often, however, in early days as Snookville, for William Snook as founder and enterprising spirit of the place.

Daniel Bartholow soon after if not before the filing of the town plot, had sold to William Loving, moved across the line to Missouri improving the Allen Carrington farm 1/4 mile south of town.

When the Post Office was moved from the Allen Scott farm to Pleasanton in 1858, its name Nine Eagles was retained, there being another town named Pleasant Plains. Then in 1865 the name of both were changed to Pleasanton to honor General Pleasanton of the Civil War. When the narrow gauge railroad came in 1833 (sic), the town's name was changed to honor an official of the company.

The new name Harding, did not prove popular, neither it is believed did the official in whose honor the change was made.

In some way not recalled he incurred the displeasure of the town. The company had demanded $10,000 to bring the road to Pleasanton. Besides the tax levied many had subscribed heavily toward the fund. The people could see no sensible reason for losing their heads in gratitude, nor did the new name seem to fit. Everyone was glad when the old name was restored. People felt they were at home again.


Some of the logs of this building are said to still be in use in the frame work of the house of Mrs. Nona Overton.

The first teacher in the Log was W.S. Warnock, who with his wife had recently arrived from Ohio. Although listed as a public school building Warnock School was a subscription (school). Its length of term was six months.

The second teacher was James Crawford, said to have been a graduate of Oberlin College. His was also a subscription school.

The third teacher is supposed to have been Lewis Hastings who came the year before. (The Decatur County History states he taught in Leon that year but he is known to have taught in Pleasanton and it is believed he was the third teacher and taught in 1857).

The fourth and possibly the last teacher was Nathaniel (Than) Barber.


Since the founding of Pleasanton four buildings have been erected in Pleasanton expressly for school purposes. Subscription schools have been held in other buildings and a few times in private homes but these served only temporarily and have never been considered in any sense public school buildings.

The first of these was "Old Log" erected in the autumn of 1855. The second The College", the third was "The Brick".

The "Old Log" stood in Block 7 of Snook's addition where the John Moore house now stands. Citizens interested in their children attending school went to the woods, cut down the trees, hauled the logs, hewed them and put up the building. The floor and seats were of puncheon, the roof was clap board. While the names listed as pupils in "The Log" only three are known to the writer. (Emma Marks) Their parents were residents here and the children of school age (some may have been too young, others too old or old enough to do without school. Money may have been too scarce in some families for all the children to go. One man who as a child attended one month in the spring of 1956 (sic) said in late life that he realized that it must have meant a real sacrifice on the part of his father to raise the $3 required for him and his two brothers for one month each.


Dr. Burns - 1854- died at about this time.
Dr. David Macy - 1855-58.
Dr. P.M. Mullinix - 1859-66 (killed).
Dr. W.E. Peters - 1869-77; resident until 1906.
Dr. E.C. Macy
Dr. Dill Greer - 1896 or there abouts; moved to Lamoni.
Dr. Minton - 18? - 19?
Dr. T.M. Lovett - 1887 to 1900; moved to Lineville.
Dr. J.B. Barrnard - 189? to 1908; moved.
Dr. Otto Macy - 189? to 1919; moved to Wyoming.
Dr. M.B. Rover - ? to 1928; moved to Leon.
Dr. Nye - 1906; moved.
Dr. Crafford - about 1885 for several years. in 189? returned and moved again in 1891-93.



A man by the name of Rhynerson taught singing school term after term. When pay pupils were not to be secured he taught for nothing, to improve the town The song book was the Dio?son.

William Snook bought a piano for his daughter, Myra, after moving into his brick residence but there seems to have been no piano teacher in town. She probably played by ear.

Royal Richardson owned the first organ in town. Some say the first in Decatur County. (Sold at the Richardson sale to a carpenter who used the wood for furniture). (Miss Mark comments on the lack of interest in having it in the State Museum).

A Mr. and Mrs. Lewis taught in the College but afterwards went to St. Louis. They were as long remembered for their beautiful China as for their teaching ability.

Two other teachers taught in Pleasanton schools and are said to have done some teaching in the College. They were Mr. and Mrs. Stanton. Mrs. Stanton was a Bartholow. In 1868 they moved to a farm west of Saline. In the 80s they moved to Dakota.

The last teacher in the College was James Alfrey. Like Lewis and Stanton he was assisted by his wife. After the destruction of the College, school was held in 1865-66 in an old building rented until the Brick could be built.

During the time of the College a subscription penmanship school was taught by a Mr. Darling (surname probably Percy). He taught a method like the Spencerian system. He used muscular movements. His examples were eagerly sought after for framing. (This section not very clear. Difficult to decipher).

Some of the pupils who attended the College were Grace Robinson, daughter of Ebenezer Robinson (Mrs Zenor Gurly); Mary Alice Smith, daughter of Mrs. Webb afterwards wife of Dr. Peters; Emaline Works, daughter of Alanzo Works; Mary Foxworthy (Mrs. Ben Marks) Nelse Corbin, Green and Mary Waldrip, two Kelly boys, Kird and Boyd, sone of Mrs. Thos. Wilson; Myra Snooks who married Dr. E.C. Macy; Myra Fairley, Jennie Parrish (This last name crossed out).

The notes in parentheses are notes that have been made by someone else. ,p.

SOLDIERS - Hamilton Cemetery

James Corbin - War of 1812 - unmarked grave.

Christopher Adkins
Capt. Jeff Miller (also Civil War)

James Acton, Wm. Acton, James Alfrey, David Ball, Aaron Cozad, Thomas Doss, James Early, Erastus Graham, Thomas Graves, Francis Hamilton, John Hedricks, John Jones; unmarked grave, blind pensioner, E.C. Macy, James May, Benjamin Mark, John McIntosh, Capt. Jeff Miller (see Mexican War), Thomas Rains, Evans Reed, Abram Vandel, Francis Turpen, Francis Walker, John Weaver.

William Aiken

Paul Putnam
Francis Turpen

James Humphreys
Harvey Stricker
Henry Hawk
Daniel Lester
Elisha Horn; Mexican-Civil War.

**MY NOTES: There appears to be a page missing. The next page starts this way:

Rachel Turpen Purcell Scott (Mrs. Edward Purcell) is buried in Hamilton Cemetery but she is not buried by her husband but by a sister.

She had a sound mind or seemingly so until her second marriage and had two or three children but most people, and some doctors, said her mind had become confused because of constant worry and that fact that she was beside her husband when he was shot. They took her to Clarinda, brought her home and she had to be taken back. But they declared her incurable so she was taken to the County Home in 1882. She died in 1833 (sic). Her second husband took all but the baby and moved to Oklahoma where he died. (Baby was left with a relative.)

(Items from John R. Keown given to Emma Marks.)


**Per David Niswender, Rachel Turpen Purcell Scott was the daughter of Aaron Turpen and Lucinda (Miller) Turpen. She died at the County Home in 1936.
**My Note: I'm still not certain about her date of death and burial.


For one interested in the study of local history, the two cemeteries are places of interest.

The ground for the Hamilton Cemetery was given by William Hamilton and was a part of his farm. Though the burial place of many pioneers, at the beginning of the century it was a desolate, neglected place, then under the care of A.A. Cozad employed by the (?) to look after it. It was much improved, even then the appropriation was not sufficient to put it in really good shape.

Not until in 1919 when the Hamilton Cemetery association was organized was there sufficient funds or popular interest aroused, so it could be a well cared for cemetery. After the cemetery association was (?), more money was secured from the township and for the last few years no membership fees have been collected. After Mr. Cozad became too elderly to do any work, for a time no satisfactory care taker could be found. Later Mr. Hart Davis was employed and for a number of years people from all over the county every summer have loved to visit this cemetery.

While William Hamilton's grave was one of the early graves, it was not the first. There are many old moss covered headstones of a much earlier date. One is there of a Mrs. Acton, a young mother dated 1847 or 1848. That of a young colored man buried there in the 40s is of a very early date while others seemingly in the 40s are unreadable. These old graves are in the southeast corner. The early pioneers there seem to be mostly Hamiltons and Actons.

Note by Transcriber: Evidently a page of Miss Mark's account is missing here. Next page starts "the monument" and then as follows:

The wall years ago crumbled to the ground and was laid flat over the grave.

Before 1930 the known number of graves had reached 950.

Besides the grave of William Hamilton and wife, who lie in the southeast section of the cemetery, literally dozens of the graves of pioneers are to be found some with three or four generations of descendants, if not moved on buried on these grounds.

On the extreme west against the fence is the lonely grave of Gideon Walker marked by a white slab. Also near the west fence, not far from Walkers grave are those of John Keown and wife.

On the southwest corner are John Alden and wife with five of their grown unmarried children including the grave of their daughter, Eliska, pioneer teacher. The Alden lot is one of the longest in the county.

Returning to the south side where there are no many Hamiltons and Actons of an early day, one finds a long row of Corbin graves, under a large oak tree. One of these is the grave of James Corbin, a soldier in the War of 1812. Isaac Waldrip and his wife with several of their children are buried very near. Near the Waldrip lot is the grave of Robert Harrison whose son, Will, was killed at Pea Ridge. He was the first soldier of the Civil War, enlisting from Pleasanton, to lose his life. Near these graves is that of John Hedrick, first soldier of the Civil War to be buried in Pleasanton. Hedrick was brought back from near Burlington where he died in camp.

The grave of James Alfrey killed (murdered) in 1866 is also near, among the old graves. Farther to the north, not far from the south gate are the graves of William Snook and wife. On Decoration Day they are a mass of white bloom.

In the old part of the cemetery also are the graves of George Morey and wife who came to the township in 1852 from Nauvoo, Ill.

David Ockerman, a local Methodist minister and his wife are buried not far from the Snooks' graves.

At no great distance from the east fence, back under the shade, are two old graves that makes one wonder whose they can be. They are marked with marble slab on which it is stated, "Here rests The Honorable ___________ Potter." These people, someone recalls, were brought here from New Buda for burial. But why "The Honorable" no one seems to know. Some believe that the Honorable Mr. Potter had been in the very early days a member of the state legislature. (If so, it was before 1853.)

Another couple whose graves have provoked us is that of the Earbs (Miss Marks tells that the old stones were replaced and that since the Earbs had come west with two grown daughters, one of whom married a Burrell and another married a Pickins, and her daughter married a Dr. Nalley, it was assumed some descendant had replaced the old stones with new ones.)

In the old part near where for years there was a tall Norway spruce are the graves of James C. Early and his first wife for so many years a merchant in Pleasanton, respected for his honesty and fair dealing. Besides these graves are those of Mr. Early's second wife. To Abram Reese, a gardener in St. Louis before he came to Pleasanton, is due the City Park, the Square of early days where one time cattle roamed at will and geese flourished on the abundant smart weed, hissing at every passer-by.

On the east side of the new cemetery are buried D.E.C. Macy and his wife. She the last of her family and he Pleasanton's longest resident physician.

Near the driveway entrance is the grave of Aaron Cozad to whose interest and devotion the cemetery today owes its excellent condition.

Much farther to the north and slightly to the west is the grave of Benjamin L. Marks and wife. He who outlived by six years all other Hamilton veterans of the Civil War continued alone, until too feeble to place flags each year at the graves of his twenty-five comrades in arm, as well as on those graves of those of other wars.

On the northwest side of the new cemetery is the grave of Paril Put (?) first soldier of World War I buried here. The first and only grave of Spanish American War veteran is that of William Aiken, native of Mississippi brought here from Missoula, Montana for burial. Incidentally what is unusual for this locality he is said to have been a graduate of Harvard University. He was a son-in-law of James Estes.

Jeff Miller, veteran of both the Mexican and Civil War is buried here.

The grave of John Painter is in the northwest section of the cemetery. He was the oldest and only son of John Painter to spend his life here. He started the telephone exchange and the first telephone system in the town and community.

The grave of Mrs. Edward Purcell, whose husband was killed because he refused to say "Hurrah for Lincoln" (He was a Douglas man) is beside her sister. (Probably no room by her husband.) by H.H.H. Mrs. Rachel Turpen Purcell Scott was a mental patient at Clarinda and at the Decatur County Farm. I believe she died at the County Home.


Marjorie Black's store was where Putnams now is on n.w. corner of block, north of park.

The College was built before the Civil War, about 1859. There were Speakings" there during the war. Blown down June, 1865.

Vams Wyatt killed Ed Purcell, an Irishman. Dykes militia were on "a general tear". Ordered Purcell who was in a wagon with his wife and child going to his home north of town. Wyatt (drunk) ordered Purcell to salute the flag. He did so. Then he ordered him to "Hurrah for Lincoln". Purcell said "Damn Lincoln" and Wyatt shot him. Wyatt was arrested and taken to Leon to jail but very soon the union men went to Leon and brought him home.

During a political speaking during the war, F.H. Binkley, drunk looking for a stairway, walked out the door on the south and fell 8 feet below. Getting up unhurt, he said, "Someone fell out of there and I was the first one to know."

Transcriber's notes: (Question marks indicate where manuscript was not legible or where spelling was difficult to determine.)

MY NOTES: findagrave.com has a lot of information and headstone pictures for Hamilton Cemetery, Pleasanton, IA. There is also a picture of Emma Mark with her headstone. It says "A book is available written by Emma Mark and published by Roy Mark. If you are interested in this family you may learn more about it and it's availability at the following link.


I am going to check this out. I'm still looking for Rachel Scott's burial; there is no headstone. She is buried next to Robt. G. Scott -- could he have been her last husband? Also would like to know where her first husband Edward Purcell, is buried.

I hope you've enjoyed this transcription by Emma Mark; I found it to be quite interesting and fun to share. Nancee

(Given to me to copy by Mrs. Roscoe Hamilton)
Copied by Nancee(McMurtrey) Siefert, June 16, 2014

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