Hardin County - Eldora Township

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

Transcribed by Linda Suarez

The township in which is situated the county seat, Eldora, is also named Eldora, and comprises congressional township 87, range 19. It is located south of Clay township, bounded on the east by Grundy county, on the south by Union township and on the west by Pleasant township. It contains the usual thirty-six sections of land and is a most excellent farming section. The Iowa river flows through the western portion of this township and provides a hundred dollars to two hundred dollars per acre in this neighborhood. The Iowa Central and Northwestern railways both pass through this township, crossing one another at Eldora.

When Hardin county was organized in the spring of 1853 there were but two townships, Morgan and Latham, and Eldora was then included in Latham township. The first business of County Judge Alexander Smith was to create townshp 87, range 20, was set off and called Eldora civil township. Subsequently Pleasant township was cut off from the west.

Early Settlers

To have been the first settler in so goodly a section of the county as Eldora township is now known to be, is indeed an honor not held by many Iowa citizens. This fell to the lot of Samuel Smith, who came to these pasts in 1850, late in the autumn, after the frosts had cut their first swathe over the blooming prairies and wild forest. Nature seemed at her best, and quiet pervaded the gently winding banks of the pretty Iowa. Mr. Smith had come in the spring of the same year with his father, Samuel Smith, Sr., and brother, Alexander Smith, stopping in Union township during the summer. In the meantime the junior Smith made his selection of land, claiming the northeast quarter of section 29, of what is now known as Eldora township. There he built a comfortable cabin and moved into the same in the fall, thus becoming the first settler within the township, as now described.

Other very early settlers in this township were Jonathon Conger, R. L. Parker, Jacob Davis, F. B. Stout, I. Zieger, Mortimer Hulbert, Samuel R. and Jonathon Edgington, S. B. Moran, J. D. Putnam and possibly a few others. Year after year the prairie and timber lands of this township were taken up by actual settlers who desired to build for themselves good homes of a permanent character, and how well they succeeded can be observed by one as he drives over the township now, sixty years after the first rude log cabin home was established by pioneer Smith.

Eldora township has the honor of being the seat of the first school house within Hardin county, and also for having taught the first term of school. A log house was built in the summer of 1853, two and a half miles southwest of present Eldora city, on what came to be known as the Conger farm.

The first religious services in the township were also held in the log school house just mentioned. Rev. J. R. Lowrance, of the Cumberland Presbyterian faith, was the preacher in charge. A church of this denomination was organized in 1853.

What was styled by early historians in this county as "representative men" of Eldora township were given as: Junius A. Furman, S. W. Tash, Henry Tolman (the pottery maker), John N. Gerhart, I. N. Hunter, John Hall, Watson B. Ackles, Edwin Gilchrist, Otis Hall, Reuben Billings, Henry Jackson, George Emerson, Clifton Clark, John Graham, Garrett Van Voorhes, S. W. Boyd, Theophilus S. Hudson, Edward Estabrook and Henry F. Follett.

Towns and Villages

By a reference to the list of village plats in the general chapters of this volume, it will be observed that Eldora township has had several, including Xenia, Bunker Hill City and Eldora.

Xenia was platted June 1, 1857, by Robert Allison, deputy county surveyor, on land owned by John Putnam. It was situated on the southwest quarter of section 28, township 87, range 19. It was too near to Eldora to ever amount to much, although at one time a flourishing village, with a general store, blacksmith shop, wagon shop, a fine mill, and about a score of buildings. In 1882, the hamlet had dwindled down to the mill and a half dozen houses. The government discontinued the postoffice there in the seventies. The village was possessed of a fine school, but the place is now only a thing of memory.

Bunker Hill City, another defunct village of Eldora township, was platted in the fall of 1856 by the Bunker family, which family consisted of a mother, five sons and several daughters. They are said to have been anything but good citizens, but had a notion that they might reap a reward by selling town lots, as some of their neighbors has done, so they engaged in the "paper town" enterprise, naming it after their own family name, not after Bunker Hill of Massachusetts fame. The place is described in the plat records as being the south half of the southwest quarter of section 13, township 87, range 19. The plat was handsome, but never materialized or attracted business men. Later the land was owned by Gardner Spencer and A. Tucker, and long years ago was legally vacated.

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