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Delaware County, Iowa  



History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People

History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People, Illustrated, Volume I.

Captain John F. Merry Supervising Editor. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914 page 275-280



Chapter XXIII



Page 275


Elk Township was organized in 1853 and is congressional township 90, range 4. It lies in the northern tier, with Clayton County for the northern boundary line. On its west line is Honey Creek Township, on the south Oneida Township and on the east Colony Township.


In its primitive state this township had considerable timber, principally along the streams, Plum Creek, the largest tributary of the Maquoketa in Delaware County, has a number of ramifying branches in the southern part of the township. The northeastern part is drained by branches of the Turkey River or Elk Creek. Thus the land conditions, in so far as water and drainage are concerned, are very good. Alluvial plains, but of no great width, border Elk Creek and its branches, which make for fertile fields. And there are many of them here, as the fine buildings, fences, roads, bridges and other improvements attest.  


It definitely has not been determined who was the first settler in Elk Township, but as far as can be learned Richard T. Barrett was located here about 1840 or 1841. His name is on the tax list of 1842, which is some indication of his early settlement.


Squire Stancliffe, one of the township's first justices of the peace, came as early as 1842 and located on section 1. Benjamin Lakin was also here about this time and was one of the pioneer justices of the township.


Herman E. Steele was accompanied by his son of the same name, to this county from the State of New York, in 1945, and settled in this locality, where there were but few white men but plenty of Indians, as well as an abundance of game and wild animals of all kinds.


Jerome Baker was one of the first, if not the first, wagon maker to locate in Greeley. He, like so many of the early settlers in Elk Township, was a man of character and lived an honest upright life. He married a Miss Witter and the daughter of this worthy couple married A. B. Holbert, the noted importer of horses and the present candidate for state representative. Mr. and Mrs. Baker and Mr. and Mrs. Holbert are still residents of Greeley.


Amos Wood, one of the first settlers in this section of the county, came here in 1845. He met his death in 1874 by being gored to death by an infuriated bull.


About the year 1846, James Stalnaker and _____ McLain located on section 29 and Stalnaker erected a cabin on the land, near the future Town of Greeley. Both settlers remained but a short time and disposed of their holdings, in 1847, to Samuel Lough. About this time Grant Stebbins and one Balch located in the neighborhood. Then came Elias Hutton.


John Grant became a citizen of the township in the "forties," and donated land for burial purposes, now a part of Grantview Cemetery, at Greeley.  


John Corell settled in Elk Township in 1849, coming from the State of New York. His death took place at Greeley in 1860, and his widow, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Risden, followed him to the grave in 1878.


Henry C. Drybread was the first blacksmith to permanently locate in Greeley. He was not only a good horseshoer, but he was one of the splendid citizens that helped to make Delaware County an ideal place in which to live. Every old settler in the vicinity of Greeley has only good words for Henry Drysbread.


Samuel Penny and his wife, Elizabeth Le Lascheur, came to Delaware County on Christmas day of 1850, and settled near Greeley. Mr. Penny died in 1860 and his widow married John Harris in 1864.


Robert Hunter and his wife, Mary H. Hunter, came with his father, James Hunter, to Illinois in 1845. At Rockford, Illinois, Robert enlisted in Company A, Sixteenth United States Regular Infantry for the Mexican war and served in the Army of the Rio Grande under General Taylor until mustered out at Newport, Kentucky, in August, 1848. He came to Delaware County in 1850 and located on a quarter section of land on section 25, Elk Township, where he resided for more than fifty-seven years. The land warrant entitled him to 160 acres of land, which was offered and received in part payment for the farm upon which representatives of his family still reside, under the original patent for the same issued by the Government  and still an honored possession of the Hunters.


Eli W. LeLascheur came from Prince Edward Island in May, 1850, and with him was his wife, son Elisha, and daughter Elizabeth, who married Samuel Penny. The family settled in this township near Greeley.   



Page 276


In the early history of Delaware County one of the central lounging places in Elk Township was Mallory's Tavern, located on the stage road about three miles east of Greeley. It was owned by Elder Mallory who was a preacher as well as landlord. The four-horse stages running between Dubuque and West Union made Mallory's Tavern the half-way house, and as a rule this tavern in those early days was crowded to the roof every night by passengers who came in on the stage. Elder Mallory had two sons, Ira and John, all of whom have gone to their reward and the old tavern was long ago put to other uses.


Augustus Davis came from Ohio to Iowa in 1851, and settled in Elk Township. He was one of the charter members of the Christian Church, organized in a log schoolhouse near the Robert Hunter home, in 1857. Mr. Davis died September 16, 1913.


Among the first settlers in this township was James Martindale, who came in 1851. He proved to be one of the leading farmers in this community, as was also John Martindale, who arrived in 1851. John Martindale was a clergyman of the Christian Church and was a valiant expounder of its tenets for over a half century. He settled two miles northwest of Greeley. He organized the Christian Church at Greeley and was instrumental in erecting the building there.


Fountain Spring Mills, on O'Dell's Branch of Elk Creek


Job Odell settled in this township in 1851, coming from Ohio in that year. He built a residence on his land, which was the only one between Greeley and Delhi on the main road. A son, G. H., was one of the sheriffs of Delaware County and William Odell was a leading farmer of this township.


Samuel Lewis was an early settler in Elk Township, coming from Dubuque county in 1852 or 1853 and settling here. He married Catherine Overocker in 1854. Mr. Lewis became prominent in the township.


Thomas J. Armstrong came to Delaware County in 1852. He married Lucy M. Bellows, a daughter of Ira Bellows, who was one of the first settlers in Elk Township. Mrs. Armstrong still resides at Greeley and is unusually active for a woman her age.


Zebina Snow immigrated to Iowa from Massachusetts in 1853 and settled here in the brush, where he opened a farm consisting of 164 acres.


Henry Millen had reached the venerable age of ninety-one years at the time of his death in August, 1913. Up to that time he had been a resident of Delaware County sixty-two years, having settled in Elk Township in 1853. He joined the Advent Church at Greeley soon after his arrival and was one of its leading spirits. H. G. Millen of Marion, once superintendent of schools for Delaware County, and W. I. Millen of Earlville are sons of Henry Millen.


William Stoner came to Delaware County as early as 1853 and settles on a farm in Elk Township north of Earlville, where for many years he resided. He was a good farmer, thirty and industrious, and died in 1913, regretted by a large number of friends.


John S. Drybread came to this county in 1853 and settled on a farm on section 21, near Greeley, where he lived many years. About twenty years before his death he retired, making his home at Greeley. Mr. Drybread, or "Uncle John," as he was more familiarly known, was for many years prominent in the county as one of its leading farmers and business men, having bought and sold grain at Greeley for many years.


Father John Trowbridge, as his neighbors called him, with Philander Dawley, his son, and their families, moved from Solon, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, to the eastern part of Elk Township in 1854.


Father Trowbridge was born in 1790 and died in 1884. The forty years of his life in the West were nearly all spent in Elk Township with his son Dawley, as he was familiarly known.  Both of these men were physically strong, were also men of strong convictions and ardent Methodists.. They not only preached, but practiced the Golden Rule.


In 1906 P. D. moved to Holtville, in the Imperial Valley, California. In 1911 he died and his remains were brought to Earlville. His wife, one of the noblest of women, died at Holtville, September 27, 1914, and her remains were also brought to Earlville and now these two worthy people who lived together so many years in Elk Township, sleep side by side on the same lot in Fairview Cemetery, Earlville.


John Winters belong in the ranks of Elk Township's first settlers, coming here in 1850 and entering land on which he located and improved. The elder Winters died that spring and John's mother then built a log cabin on the farm, which gave way to a frame house in 1857, still standing on the (now Lillibridge) place.


Ira Bellows built a log cabin on his land 1 1/2 miles from the present Correll schoolhouse, in 1852. With a large family he had left the "old home in Ohio," and made his way by ox team to the blooming Iowa prairies, in the year above mentioned. A Heavy snow falling made the journey from Dubuque long and tedious; four days were consumed.


William Cattron made his first stop in Delaware County after his arrival in May, 1854, in Elk Township, and in the following year opened a store in Greeley. Mr. Cattron continued to live on his Plum Creek place until 1860, when he removed to Earlville and became prominent in all the activities of that community. From Earlville  he moved to Manchester and until the time of his death was engaged in the mercantile business.  He was one of God's noblemen, an honest man. To him and his wife, Judith, were born three daughters, Mary, Emma and Eva. Mrs. Cattron, at the age of ninety, is still vigorous, and resides with her eldest daughter, Mary, at Tacoma, Washington. The second daughter, Emma, Married Capt. John Merry in 1866, and died January 18, 1903. The youngest daughter, Eva, married Capt. W. T. Rigby, chairman of the National Military Park Commission at Vicksburg, Mississippi, where they now reside.


Duane and James M. Jenkins located here in 1856, upon land entered from the Government.


Horace C. Merry was one of the men who assisted in building up Elk Township from its early days. He was a native of New York and in 1853 removed to Ohio.  The far West attracted his notice and in 1857 he found his way to Iowa and became a citizen of Delaware County, first locating in Elk Township. In 1866 Mr. Merry became a resident of Oneida Township, settling on a farm in section 23. Capt. John F. Merry, supervising editor of this history was a son. For several years the elder Merry was a justice of the peace for Elk Township, and during this period of his official activities there lived at "Yankee Settlement" two brothers named Peet --Schuyler and Cornelius. It chanced that two of 'Squire Merry's neighbors had a disagreement which brought them into the justice court and, as was quite common, the Peets figured as opposing lawyers. The trial came on during the winter, when the farmers had more time to spare than anything else, so that 'Squire Merry's court room (the sitting room of his residence) was more than comfortably filled by the neighboring farmers. Captain Merry was then but a lad in his teens, and was well supplied with curiosity, an attribute always to be found in boys.  Therefore, it was not strange that he hurried home from school on this particular day, to hear what the lawyers had to say in the case before his father. The captain, now a boy of seventy years, still has clearly in his memory how those lawyers lambasted each other, using language such as only the bitterest enemies were expected to call up; but what surprise the callow youth most, after the vitriolic tongue lashings had ceased, was to see there brothers, who had so violently reviled each other, get into the same seat of their conveyance after the trail, and rife home together, a distance of twelve miles, in amiable and brotherly converse.


The pioneer has never been slow to realize the inestimable virtue of knowledge, and their immediate efforts, after building a habitation, have always been to devise plans for the educated of their children. To this end subscription schools were the initiative and when too poor to provide a schoolhouse for pupils and teacher, a room in the cabin of a settler always could be found for the purpose. The Elk Township settlers were no exception to the rule. Provisions early were made for the children's education and in the later '40s a quarter of section 30, and Miss Emma Wood was introduced as the first teacher.

The Poultney schoolhouse stood on the northeast corner of the present Wulfekuhle farm, and children of the community gathered in this old log house to be taught the rudiments of an education. Mrs. Robert Hunter taught here in 1855, Addie Orcut in 1856 and Martha E. Merry in 1857. And the crude structure performed an important part in other interesting historical events of Elk Township, for within its homely walls religious meetings were held, that brought in the men, women and children from far and wide, to hear the gospel expounded by the circuit rider,  who was then in the heyday of his popularity. As a matter of fact, a resident minister was a little too much of a luxury in those days even to be thought of. But they soon came. Spelling schools, singing schools, political meetings, festivals, all had a place in this primitive temple of learning. The Christian Church of Greeley was organized in the Poultney schoolhouse. Rev. F. X. Miller, a Methodist clergyman, first appeared here on horseback with his saddlebags, containing a Bible, a change of linen and a song book, in 1857, and expounded the Word to the satisfaction of an appreciative audience and the glory of the cause.

In a letter recently written by this veteran of the church militant to Capt. John Merry,  he portrays, in a measure, the scenes of the early days brought to mind by the little old Poultney schoolhouse: "I was sent to Delaware circuit in the year 1857. The circuit then included 'Yankee Settlement,' now Edgewood, Greeley, Eads' Grove, and York. Poultney schoolhouse was then built of logs, if I remember correctly. A man by the name of Hiram Cooper was postmaster at that time. My first work as a circuit preacher was to preach at "Yankee Settlement,' 10:30 A. M.; Greeley, 3 P. M.; and Poultney in the evening. The schoolhouse was usually full, mostly of young people. They gave me a good hearing. At close of service all would start in their wagons across the prairie, led by yourself (Captain Merry) singing 'Rain, Rain, Lord, Send It Down Among the People.' It sounded good, I assure you, for it gave me am inspiration for my work. Brother John Cattron took me home that night and treated me like a kid. That was the beginning of my ministry, fifty-seven years ago this fall. My impression is that Father Trowbridge was class leader, but I am not certain. I remember him well as a grand, good man, and very active. I was a single man at that time and remained so until 1864. As you stated in your letter, you remember me as a boy, which is true. I was not quite twenty-one years old *** I remember very distinctly that I enjoyed preaching at Poultney very much, for the reason that the brethren were very responsive. That was a great year for me all over the circuit. I was sent from conference. Reverend Churchill, who worked for me that year, was a supply under the presiding elder. We held revival meetings in every schoolhouse on the circuit and also in the church at 'Yankee Settlement.' There were somewhere near two hundred conversions. Much of my time was spent at the home of A. R. Loomis, Manchester. Mrs. Loomis assigned me a 'prophet's' room, and Mr. Loomis a stall for my horse, showing me the bin containing the oats and telling me to see that the animal was well fed. I have never forgotten their kindness. The children were all small then, but were always at the gate when I returned from my trip around the circuit, to open it for me.  I do not forget the treatment received from the William Cattrons of Greeley and James Prestons and Isaac Prestons of 'Yankee Settlement;' and the Watsons at Greeley."   


~ source: History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People, Illustrated, Volume I. Captain John F. Merry Supervising Editor. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914, Chicago. Call Number 977.7385 H2m.

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