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History of Fayette County, Iowa,

A history of the County, its Cities, Towns Etc.

Page 563

Fremont Township


"The first settler within the boundaries of Township 91, Range 10, was Carmi Hickox, who, on the 17th of May, 1853, located on Section 17, on the edge of the Little Wapsie timber, and but a little way from that stream, where he erected his cabin. His nearest neighbor lived three miles south; the next nearest was three miles north, and other settlers were about fifteen miles east.

The first birth in this township was the posthumous son of Carmi and Electra Hickox, Hiram C., who still lives in the township, a support to his mother in her declining years.

The next settler was Bartlett Obenchain, who came in the Fall of 1853, and the next Spring rented Mrs. Hickox's farm.

In 1854, Joshua Birch settled at what is now called Corbly's Grove; and during the Fall of that year, Philip Obenchain, Easton Ship and John Fortsch also made locations.

In 1855, Peter Corbly settled at the grove which now bears his name. The other accessions during that year were A. B. Dickey, S. S. Leach, N. W. Spears and L. C. Dudley. Mr. Dudley built his first mansion of hay; but, during the same year, built a frame house - the first in the township - the lumber for which was hauled from a mill four miles north of West Union, about twenty-eight miles away.

The order of the County Judge, establishing the township of Fremont, is dated November 4, 1856, and on the 6th of April, 1857, the first election was held - S. S. Leech, S. R. Maclay and P. M. Corbly officiating as Judges; L. J. Curtis and N. W. Spears, Clerks. The place of meeting was at the house of R. W. Lawrence, then occupied by A. Ritchie. The officers chosen were H. W. Zimmerman, Justice; John Strong, S. R. Maclay and J. Burch, Trustees; L. C. Dudley, Clerk; C. Cline, R. W. Lawrence, Constables. It is said that the name of Fremont was bestowed at the suggestion of N. W. Spears. Other names proposed were 'Little Wapsie' and 'Jackson.'

At the first meeting of the Trustees, a resolution was passed, calling upon the Trustees of Oran for a division of the road money, voted prior to the separation of the two townships.

The first school officers were elected in December, 1856: P. M. Corbly, President; N. W. Spears, Secretary; P. M. Obenchain, Treasurer. N. W. Spears taught school during the same Winter, in his own house, for a salary of $10 a month. He had seventeen pupils enrolled, some of them going a distance of three miles. When a heavy storm would rise, the teacher would keep his pupils all night. P. P. Obenchain kept an evening school during the same Winter.

The first school house was built of logs, in the Fall of 1857, the citizens generally contributing labor to forward the enterprise.

In August, 1857, the election was held at the house of N. W. Spears. Twenty-seven votes were cast, indicating a Democratic preponderance of nine.

The first lawsuit, after the township was organized, was before John Strong, Justice of the Peace, in which John McCunniff was plaintiff and Nathan King defendant, the suit being on a promissory note. The trial was held January 5, 1858, with judgment for plaintiff.

Rev. James Burch, a Baptist minister, held the first religious services in the township at the house of E. Ship, in the Spring of 1856. Mr. Burch was a local character, who is said to have learned to read after he was married. The Elder was very fond of hunting, and would occasionally hunt and preach on the same expedition.

Rev. Mr. Allen, of West Union, a United Brethren minister, and Rev. H. W. Zimmerman, a Methodist, held meetings during the Autumn of the same year.

The United Brethren Church was organized, in the Spring of 1857, by Rev. Mr. Murphy. The first members were P. M. Corbly and wife, John Strong and wife, Richard Lawrence, Oliver Kelly and wife, John Bessey and wife.

The Methodist Church was organized, at the same time and place, by Rev. Mr. White, of Greeley's Grove Circuit, the members being H. W. Zimmerman and wife, N. W. Spears and wife, Joseph Chichester and wife and Mrs. Angeline Morehouse. The moving cause of the organization of both these churches was a very successful revival held just before.

Rev. Peter Colgrove settled in Fremont in the Spring of 1859, and, during the Summer, baptized five persons in the Wapsie. He brought the first melodeon to the township. Mr. Colgrove died in August, 1860.

The first marriage in the township was solemnized by H. W. Zimmerman, in October, 1859, the parties being S. R. Maclay and Miss Elizabeth Corbly.

The construction of a mill was begun, in 1856, by James Obenchain, but he disposed of the property, before much work was done, to Joseph Chichester, who selected another site - on Section 30 - and completed the mill.

In 1860, Mill Post Office was established, with Mr. Chichester as Postmaster.

Three road districts were established about the time the township was organized. In March, 1858, another district was established.

Early in 1857, A. B. Dickey donated an acre of ground on the southeast part of his farm for a cemetery, and the first interment therein was the remains of a child of Nathan King.

The brick school house on Section 33 was built in the Fall of 1859, by Peter Colgrove, assisted by James F. Babcock, the latter teaching the school the following Winter.

The 'White' school house was erected the following year by; H. L. Matthews. First teacher, S. C. Beck.

The 'Red' school house was built, the same year, by Charles Goodrich. First teacher, N. W. Mallery.

The 'McSweeny' building was constructed in 1867, by E. T. Older. First teacher, Anna M. Older.

The 'Baker' school house was not built till 1869. Mrs. Augusta Baker was the first teacher.

During the war, a Soldiers' Aid Society was formed, the officers of which were: Mrs. N. W. Spears, President; Mrs. L. C. Dudley, Secretary; Mrs. E. T. Older, Treasurer. The society did very much in collecting and forwarding needed supplies to the boys at the front, who were enduring the privations and dangers incident to the soldier's life.

A union Sabbath school was organized in 1864, with John Dickman as Superintendent.

In January, 1876, as Dennis Madigan and his brother, residents of Fremont, were loading logs, between Cornhill and Wadena, a huge escaped, by the breaking of a chain, rolling back upon Dennis and breaking his leg in three or four places, from the effects of which he died a day or two after.

The Methodist Episcopal Church edifice, in this township, was dedicated for worship June 30, 1878, Rev. R. Swearingen, Presiding Elder, officiating. After the services, a basket dinner was disposed of in the grove near the church."


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