Hardin County - Alden Township

The Past and Present of Hardin County Iowa
ed. by William J. Moir. Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1911

Transcribed by Linda Suarez

Alden Township is located in the northwest part of Hardin county and comprises all of congressional township 89, range 22, and the west half of township 89, range 21. It is bounded by Franklin county, on the south by Buckeye township, extending also over that of portions of Ellis township. It is bounded on the east by Hardin township and on the west by Hamilton county. It took its name from Henry Alden, one of its first settlers. It now has a population of seven hundred and seventy-eight

Alden township was organized in 1856, by the county judge and the first election was held at the house of George B. Nelson, April 7th, that year. The first officers were: Trustees, Summer Kemp, Henry Alden, J. W. Cowles; clerk, Martin Pritchard; justices of the peace, Lott Clover and James Holden; assessor, S. Elwood.

Pioneer Settlers

Dr. John Crawford, who came in 1851, effected the first settlement in this township, on section 1, township 89, range 22, where he remained some time, but subsequently removed to Nebraska.

The next settler was Pleasant Jones, who came from the south part of Hardin county in the fall of 1852, locating on section 12, but years afterward went to Missouri, first living in Guthrie county, this state.

Thomas M. Bailey came the same season from Indiana, locating on section 12. The next year came J. L. Hitt, from Indiana, settling on section 18, township 89, range 21. He moved to Nebraska in 1866.

Asher Bolden, also an Indiana man, came in the fall of 1852, locating in section 20, township 89, range 21, where he died in October of lung fever. He was buried on the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of section 12.

In the spring of 1853 arrived from Indiana Willaim Meyers, who settled on section 1, township 89, range 22, where he died in 1863. He was buried in the old cemetery. His widow was the oldest person residing in the township in 1883.

Another settler of 1853 was Philemon Plummer, who came from Indiana in the spring of that year, locating on section 13, township 89, range 22. Later he moved to Guthrie county, then to Missouri, and still later to Oregon.

In 1854, the settlement of this township was increased by the settlement of Summer Kemp, of Massachusetts, in company with Henry Alden, for whom the township was named when it came to be fully organized. Kemp claimed a part of section 13, township 89, range 22. Alden located on section 18, in township 89, range 21. He died there in 1877.

Other pioneer settlers in this township were as follows:

William Myers, a native of Virginia, drove through to Alden township with an ox team in 1853, locating after their six weeks' trip on section 1, where his wife died in 1863. In 1883 he was counted Alden township's oldest settler.

John Barrett came in 1854 from New York and bought a quarter section of land in section 16, but his improvements were made at a later date.

Of the founder of the town of Alden, Henry Alden, the village history will speak in detail.

W. H. Foote came to Hardin county about April 1, 1855, and located on section 16 of Alden township. In the forties he established, in Wisconsin, what was called "Foote's Express," between Madison and Milwaukee.

J. C. Sperry first came to Alden in 1856, then went on to Colorado and followed mining for five years, went back to his old home in Connecticut and again in 1865 settled in Alden. He married Mattie Lovejoy.

Jesse Rogers (Deacon Rogers) came to Alden in 1856 and farmed until 1870. Through his efforts, largely, the Congregational church of Alden was formed at an early day. He was beloved by all who knew him.

Martin Pritchard came to Alden in 1856 and opened the first blacksmith shop. He spent some years in Colorado and then returned to Alden to resume his old trade. He as the first township clerk of Alden township; wsa a member of the board of county supervisors, under the old system; vice-president of the Old Settlers' Society and held many local offices.

Another settler of Alden township was Alden Catlin, a native of Massachusetts. He was by trade a carpenter and assisted in building the first house in the town of Alden.

Franklin Draper came to Iowa Falls in 1855 and the year following settled in Alden. In 1857 he moved his family to a farm on section 14, where he died in 1880.

Other very early settlers in Alden township were: Wilson R. Mason, Robert M. Treat, J. G. Whitney, C. D. Pritchard, Loren Burnham, A. A. Davis and C. P. Johnson and Stephen Whited. The last named served as county auditor two or more terms.

First Events

The first marriage in the township was that uniting Charles Philo sand Hannah E. Bolden, July 1, 1856. They were married by Justice of the Peace Lott Clover.

The first birth in this township was Charlotte, daughter of Dr. John Crawford, in the winter of 1852-53.

The first death recorded in Alden township was Mary Ann, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Myers, July 28, 1853. Her remains rest in the old Alden cemetery.

The earliest school taught in the township was by Martin Pritchard in the winter of 1856-57, in a house built for such purpose, on section 18, township 89, range 21. In 1880 there had come to be eleven good school houses and pupils enrolled to the number of four hundred.

The first religious services in this township were held by the Disciples or [sic] Christian denomination, in the summer of 1853, by Philemon Plummer, who preached in a log house on section 18, to an overflowing house.

The Town of Alden

Henry Alden made the first settlement on the site of the thriving town of Alden, in June, 1854, driving through from Naperville, Illinois, with an ox team, looking for a mill site, intending to go into the milling business. In company with Summer Kemp, both originally from Massachusetts, they journeyed north to near the Minnesota line, after crossing the Mississippi river. When they crossed the Iowa river they met Thomas Bailey, who told them of fine, cheap land and a water-power down the stream at the present site of Alden, so they abandoned a plan they had entertained of going to Sioux City, and located in Hardin county. They at once put in a mill dam at Alden and put in a "flutter" wheel, and constructed a crude mill, Uncle Ben Tlbot, of Rocksylvania, being their millwright. The mill-irons were hauled from Naperville, Illinois. Soon after this Kemp retired and in 1855 the property passed to J. W. Cowles, who sold to Stephen Whited and he to Henry Alden. The saw mill was destroyed by high water in 1862. In 1859 the mill was bought by G. M. Woodbury, of Marshalltown, who that year improved the dam and put in grist-mill machinery. It was sold to George Rule, of Clinton county, in 1863, who, after another year, sold to William Sherrard, who made substantial improvements and retained it ten years. Then it passed to a Mr. Von Berg, of Galena, Illinois, who added a new stone dam and the following year sold the property to William Pagle, who in 1882 changed it into a a modern roller process mill. The old Alden mill was known far and near, and scores of farmers came with grists from over the broad prairies of Hamilton and Wright counties in the sixties to obtain their flour and meal. The mill, which now grinds seventy-five barrels per day, is owned by Hoskin & Birdsall, who will add a fine cement dam the present the present year, 1911. H. E. Schultz owned the mill a few years.

A steam saw mill was put in operation on the Iowa river at Alden in 1856 and cut all the native lumber used in that section of Hardin and Wright counties until 1873, when it was removed to Webster county.

The Silent City

The first burying place in Alden was on section 13, where many of the first settlers were laid away to their long rest. It was never regularly platted. In 1878 the Alden Cemetery Association was organized, with George H. Richardson as president. Land was bought adjoining the old burying ground by the township of Alden, and donated for cemetery uses. The first interment was Walter Massey, son of S. M. Massey, who was drowned in the Iowa river. The grounds have been nicely kept and with the return of each springtime the sacred mounds are bedecked with flowers and the little mounds carpeted with green. Within this sacred enclosures are at rest many of the good citizens of Alden and vicinity.

Grand Army of the Republic

Alden has one of the five Grand Army posts of Hardin county. It is Whitcomb Fairbanks Post No. 436, named for the first soldier who gave up his life in the Civil war from Alden. He fell at Shiloh, where, refusing to surrender, he was pierced through and thorugh by rebel bayonets. This post was formed in 1888 by thirty-three old veterans. There have been sixty-three on the rolls, but they have died or removed until only eighteen are now left. The meetings are not regular, but the charter is still in force and on Memorial day and other occasions they rally "around the old flag once again." The first commander of this post was Dr. J. W. David and the present commander is John Hoskin. Twenty-four comrades are buried in the Alden cemetery.

Henry Alden

Henry Alden, the founder of the town of Alden, for whom it was named, was born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, in 1801. While there he was engaged in farming pursuits, and in 1841 he came to DuPage county, Illinois, reamined a short time, then returned to Massachusetts. In 1854 he came West as far as Naperville, Illinois, and in June, 1854, in company with Summer Kemp, came to Iowa, locating at Alden. He entered the land where now stands the town of Alden, and began the erection of a mail and laid out a town. From the time of his arrival he entered into the building up of a town with much zeal, sparing neither time nor money to make an ideal place in which to live. He did all in his power to induce settlement. He was very publicly spirited and gave much of his means that others might be benefited thereby. His favorite quotation was: "An honest man is the noblest work of God." His chief aim in life seemed to be to prove his own nobility. He was gathered to the reward of the truly just and upright, in 1877, passing from the scences of this life in the month of September, when the leaves were turning to amber and gold. His family consisted of wife and children. Mrs. Alden died in February of the same year in which he died.

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