Hardin is the township in Iowa Falls was originally situated. It comprises congressional township 89, range 20, and the east half of township 89, range 21. It is bounded on the north by Franklin county, on the west by Alden township, on the south by Ellis and Jackson townships and is to the west of Etna township, in which Ackley is located. It is nine miles from east to west and six from north to south. Surveyors used to call it "second rate prairie." The soil is a rich, black loam, with a gravel and clay sub-soil. Numerous bowlders are to be seen here and there throughout the township. There are also numerous small lakes and used to be pools, which for the major part have been fully drained and thoroughly subdued into excellent farming tracts, the best in the county. The beautiful Iowa river falls through the township, making a distance of more than ten miles in its graceful flow seaward. Elk run, another pretty stream, is in the northwest part of Hardin township, flowing into the Iowa river near Iowa Falls. The main branch of School creek rises on section 11, flowing into the Iowa from section 29. Rock run, a short stream, spring-fed, rises on section 12, and flows through the eastern part of the town of Iowa Falls, into the Iowa, and along its banks is some of the picturesque scenery that so always remains a feast to the eye of the passer-by. It is fed mostly by a series of mineral springs, chief among which are Courtney's, Kelley's and Chapman's springs. The towering bluffs along this short stream are of a lime-rock formation, surmounted by forest kings of more than a hundred years' growth, which are the subject of prose and poetry to Iowa writers. In many ways Rock run is one of the most remarkable streams in the Hawkeye state, having, as it does, the waters of so many healing springs. Thirty years and more ago it was written of one of the springs of this township: "The spring on the northeast part of section 29 is a strong sulphur spring, which differs from the other mineral springs of this section, in being very highly impregnated with sulphur. The water of this spring is uncommonly cold. It is on the farm owned by John Gardner."
The Illinois Central railroad was completed to Iowa Fall in April, 1866. The Rock Island (old B. C. R. & N. line) was completed to Iowa Falls October 20, 1880. The coming of these highways rapidly developed this township.
Hardin township was organized by the county court in 1854` that tribunal being then presided over by Alexander Smith. The first election was held under a burr oak tree, only a short distance from the present grist mill, where the first officers were elected: Trustees, J. F. Simonds, Henry Pilgrim, William A. Bolden; clerk, Edwin Terrill; assessor, Benjamin I. Tolbert; justice of the peace, John Caldwell. The spring election of 1856 was held at the house of Joseph Wells, when sixty-five votes were cast, showing the township had rapidly increased in its population.
The original settlers in Hardin township were Benjamin I. Talbott, Nathan Townsend and John Caldwell. They came in the autumn of 1851 and took their claims and erected snug log cabins, Mr. Talbott locating on section 18, Mr. Townsend on section 17 and Mr. Caldwell on section 20. Townsend and Caldwell, after first building their houses, returned to their families in Jefferson county, Iowa, while Talbott remained monarch of all he surveyed. Mr. Talbott hailed from Michigan and was a widower. During that long, cold winter he lived in company with a son in that lonely habitation. The following spring he married Martha Dobbins, of Honey Creek settlement, this county. They spent a honeymoon in Jefferson county, and then returned to their new home in Hardin township, this county, Mrs. Talbott thus becoming the first white woman in the township. Mr. Talbott was a Quaker of the "strictest sect" and spoke plainly; he was an excellent citizen and had much influence in the young settlement. He removed to Linn county in 1868.
Early in the spring of 1852 Messrs. Caldwell and Townsend returned with their families. Townsend lived not far from Plum Grove. His little son one day heard a strange noise in the dense woodland; going near, he discovered a pack of wolves snarling over the carcasses of a pair of bucks, who had locked horns in a terrible encounter and in the struggle had died from starvation and freezing. The wolves were frightened away by the boy. The horns of the unfortunate bucks were nailed over the cabin door as trophies.
John Caldwell's farm was situated two miles, or nearly, southeast from present Iowa Falls city. He and his family lived there during the winter of 1852-53. He had cut logs for a fireplace, and designed building a chimney, but coming down with the fever and ague, the family were compelled to hang a quilt up in the opening left for the chimney, and the son Austin, aged but twelve years, had to cut firewood for the family. The result, as one might know, was a very cold house and shivering children. The snow was fully two feet deep on a level that winter, and the little flock of chickens brought to the county by the family all froze to death before the spring came in 1853. The room was chinked up after a fashion, but many a hole could have been seen. Canal-boat berths were made by driving pegs into the logs, then boards laid on to hold the straw ticks and covering. From the scanty crop of buckwheat raised by Mr. Caldwell, his good wife ground a kind of flour in her coffee mill, sifting the precious grist through a cloth. After the ague had literally frozen out of his system, the husband was successful in shooting five fine specimen of buffalo, so the settlers had good meat, which, with buckwheat cakes and wild plums, made their diet. Bears and wild-cats were occasionally killed while the deep snow lasted. As justice of the peace, Mr. Caldwell went nine miles to marry a couple and received the legal fee of two dollars, which looked as large as two hind wheels of a farm wagon.
Other early settlers in Hardin township were as follows: Dr. J. F. Simonds, Capt. Samuel White, John Race, George P. Griffith, James R. Larkin, J. L. Estes, Hosmer Stevens, Peter Collins, Samuel Parkinson, Benjamin Holding, Thomas B. Knapp, J. S. Smith, J. F. Brown, M. C. Woodruff, Charles McQuestern, Dr. J. H. Foster, Robert Murphy, Joseph Wells and family, Henry Macy, Allen Thompson, J. T. Lane, Peter Gray, J. J. Cobb, Jacob George and family, Henry Fiddler, Nathan and James and Samuel Adamson, Mrs. Sarah Haines and family, Chauncy Pond, James McWherter, W. H. Foote, Lindley M. Hoag, J. L. Hoag, L. F. Wisner, Daniel Lane, Edwin Terrell, Orren Foster, David Mitchell, William Jones, Wells E. Fisher, John Barrett, John Mann, Albert Button, W. E. Taylor, Frank Taylor, S. Bowman, and H. J. Skiff.
A Reminiscence of Nathan Townsend
"In the autumn of 1852 a party of surveyors made their headquarters where the city of Hampton now stands, in Franklin county. Provisions were very scarce with the settlers that fall, but the surveyors had brought with them a liberal amount of supplies. Mr. Townsend's stock of flour becoming exhausted, he applied to the surveyors for the loan of a barrel of their flour, which he promised to repay as soon as he could transport a quantity of provisions from Jefferson county, which he as intending to do as soon as possible. The provisions were brought in due time and Mr. Townsend and sons started for the surveyors' camp to return the borrowed flour. It was now mid-winter and extremely cold, and the suffering of the party was intense. Before reaching the surveyors' camp in Franklin county, they came upon five buffalos, but without molesting them, they continued their journey, and soon afterward met two hunters, names Maine and Reeves, who assisted them in delivering the flour, and then they all started to return to the spot where the huge buffalos had been sighted. These they soon found and, having surrounded and brought them to bay, succeeded in despatching all of them. They then rturned to camp and the next morning Mr. Townsend and Reeves started out to dress and bring in their game. Thomas, the eldest son, went out with them, with the team, to bring in the coveted meat. The weather was still extremely cold, far below zero, it being in the month of February, and his sufferings were something terrible; but eventually the game was all dressed and sufficient meat secured thereby. The wolves, however, had in their absence, appropriated a share of it to themselves." -- Hardin County History of 1882.
First Marriage, Birth and Death
Samuel Parkinson and Almira Stevens were united in marriage in 1854, the first to be joined in Hardin township. John Caldwell, the pioneer justice, perform the ceremony. Their first born had the honor of being the first child to see the light of day in what is now the city of Iowa Falls.
The first birth in Hardin township was Oliver Townsend, son of Nathan and Sarah Townsend, born in the fall of 1852. He reached mature manhood and moved to California where he lived at last accounts.
Hardin township's first death was that of Mrs. Daniel Lane, who, in 1855, laid down the burdens of pioneer life and was buried on the sloping hillside near the present Illinois Central depot.
The Original Postoffice Squabble
Marietta postoffice, in Marshall county, was the nearest mail facilities the settlers in Hardin township had until an office had been established at Eldora. Before that event mail was received after a full two-days journey to Marietta. When Eldora got an office a smart, godd-waling ox team could make a trip to the postoffice in one day. Finally, it was decided that better mail accommodations must be had in the township and that an office ought to be established in the neighborhood of Rocksylvania, or White's Mill, now known as Iowa Falls, and two petitions were circulated, one for Rocksylvania and one for White's Mill. Doctor Simonds prepared and sent the petition for the latter point to Gen. A. C. Dodge, who wrote back that he wanted to know whether there were any Democrats in the township to whom the office could be given. The Doctor wrote evasively, that, being on the border, things were in a chaotic state in politics; still there were a few persons in the vicinity that still voted for General Jackson. Mr. Talbott's position was for Rocksylvania. General Dodge replied to this petition that there should be apostoffice granted, if the postmaster and other responsible persons would bind themselves that there should be no expense to the government. Doctor Simonds wanted it in one place and Talbott, of course, wanted it in another. The postoffice department wrote they must make a compromise. "What does thee think about it," queried Mr. Talbott. It was finally decided that Mr. Talbott should have the office, Edward Terrell be postmaster, and the name Rockwood given the office. Talbott still persisted in calling it Rocksylvania. Notwithstanding the mixed-up name, some calling it one thing and some another, this office was of great benefit to the few pioneers thereabouts. "Rockwood postoffice" was known on the postal records at Washington for a period of two years. The next office in Hardin township was established at Iowa Falls.
The first religious services in Hardin township were held in 1852. The denomination was that of the Friends and the service was held in a log cabin on section 12.
The first school in the township was held in 1854, in a log house erected for the purpose by the neighbors. It stood near School creek and the first term was taught by George P. Griffith, who later served this county two terms as its surveyor.
The First Village Plat
Rocksylvania was the name given to the first village platted in Hardin township. It was platted Novemver 1, 1854, the surveying being executed by Thomas Mercer, on the east half of section 18, township 89, range 20. This was the first record platting, but pioneer Talbott had surveyed out a village plat, now occupied by the business section of Iowa Falls, but on account of the opposition with which he met concerning the name he wanted, "Rocksylvania" (meaning "Rocky wood," sylvania meaning woods and the land being rocky), the proprietor would not have his plat recorded, but soon sold his platting to Captain White, including the mill property, in the autumn of 1854, and then platted the one described at the opening of this article.
The first store here was established by Peter Collins, who continued two or three years. The first postoffice in the township was situated at this village, and was named after a hard fought contest, spoken of already. Nettie Sanford, who was an old-time graphic historic writer on Iowa cities and towns, once wrote this paragraph concerning developments at "Rocksylvania":
"Rocksylvania, proper, east of the depot, had a steam mill built in 1856, and a building which received the cognomen of the 'Crystal Palace.' It was a stone structure with a flat roof, and A. A. Wells, the builder, paid out considerable money for its construction. Mr. Wells, a very energetic man, tried, this summer, a new arrangement for building a barn. It was constructed, at least the walls thereof, of common stove wood, about sixteen inches long, and laid up with lime mortar."
However, all efforts to build up this town failed. Iowa Falls, its more fortunate rival, secured most of the newcomers, and Rocksylvania of today has been swallowed up as one of the neat suburbs of Iowa Falls.
Among the representatives and good citizens of this township, who were foremost in the development of the country, may be named the following: Nathan Hunt, of section 35, who settled in Hardin county in the spring of 1863. He was born in Clinton county, Ohio, in 1835. He was united in marriage in a log cabin in 1864 in accordance with the teachings of the society of Friends, of which they were devoted members.
Israel Klopp, of section 24, was a native of Bucks county, Pennsylvania, born in 1835, moved to Ohio and from there to Stephenson county, Illinois, finally coming with his parents to Black Hawk county, Iowa, in 1863.
John A. Martin, a native of New Hampshire, born in 1817, entered a college preparatory for entering the ministry, remained a year or so and abandoned the idea and learned the tailor's trade. Later he followed merchandising and farmed until 1863, when he came to Hardin county. In 1866 he bought two hundred and twenty acres on sections 11 and 12 of Hardin township, paying twenty-five dollars per acre. In 1878 he disposed of twenty acres of his land upon which was located the famous "Pool of Siloam."
Others who came in before the close of the Civil war period or about that date were: Spencer W. Brown, 1864; David J. Alvord, 1864; Isaiah Biggs, from Ohio, came to Hamilton county, Iowa, in 1856, and to Iowa Falls in 1865. Then came A. P. Hill, a Vermonter, born in 1822, who settled in Whiteside county, in 1861. He enlisted in Company C, Eighth Illinois Calvary, under Capt. Alpheus Clark. After the war he settled, in 1865, in Hardin county. The same year came J. A. Harp, locating on section 27, where he owned, in 1880, four hundred acres of land. E. M. Bird settled on section 13 in 1865 and owned three hundred and twenty acres. Henry Moseley came to this county in November, 1865, settling on section 16 on a half section of wild land he bought at a low figure.
E. R. Calkins accompanied his parents west in 1856 and to Hardin county in 1866. E. R. Calkins located on section 15, where he had one hundred and eighty-one acres.
November 15, 1856, George B. Senter files for record the plat of a village which he named "Georgetown." It is described in the county town plat books as being situated on the southeast quarter of section 14, and the northwest quarter of section 23, township 89, range 21. This is at a point about a mile and a half southwest of Iowa Falls. One dwelling house, a stable of the early Iowa type, and a few stakes driven in the ground to mark the blocks and lots, were all that was ever shown to the enquiring passer-by as he enquired for Georgetown. Subsequently Mr. Senter became mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, in which role it is to be hoped he succeeded better than in town building in Iowa!
City of Iowa Falls
In passing over the fair and fertile domain of Iowa, one will never find a more beautiful situation for a town site or city than is to be viewed at Iowa Falls. Its natural scenery is seldom surpassed in the state, unless possibly along the heights overlooking the Mississippi River, or in the famous "Switzerland of Iowa," in Decorah county, northeastern Iowa. Benjamin I. Talbott, already named as the first settler in Hardin township, purchased from the government, in 1851, a greater part of the present site of Iowa Falls. He, in company with Captain White, there platted "Rocksylvania." Talbott was a Quaker and wanted peace, but he also wanted the above name for his new town site, though others did not desire it thus called, so he went to another section and there platted and had recorded "Rocksylvania," which was near by, and is now a part of the city proper.
In 1855, Messrs. Wilder, James L. Estes and Hosmer Stevens came in and purchased of Captain White his interest in the town plat, and in April, 1856, George P. Griffith, county surveyor, laid out and platted, according to law, the original town of Iowa Falls, on the east half of section 13, township 89, range 21. This plat was filed for record June 28, 1856, and since then many have been the additions and sub-divisions made to the place now so well known.
Before the laying out of the town there had settled quite a goodly colony of hardy, intelligent and enterprising families. The first enterprises of the place were the saw and grist mills. Benjamin I. Talbott, in 1853, constructed a dam across the Iowa river at this point, and erected a saw mill. Captain White arrived very soon thereafter, became his partner, and finally bought him out, when he enlarged the mill, and placed in operation a run of burrs. The Iowa river at this place originally run over a rocky ledge, which made a pretty water-fall -- hence the name "Iowa Falls," but which after the building of the mill dam were to forever be lost sight of as "falls." The stream was rapid and the rapids or falls indicated good water power to the first persons who visited the picturesque spot. As time went on, the mills at Iowa Falls were much improved and enlarged, so that many of the farmers living as far west as Fort Dodge and Webster City, and even northwest as far as Liberty and Goldfield, in Wright county, came here for milling, until those points had secured mills of their own. In Civil war days much flour was sent from these mills to the broad, almost trackless, prairies of the northwestern country. "Iowa Falls XXXX Flour," a brand well known, was sought for in many an Iowa home. The first paper sacks put out in this part of the west were sent from the old Iowa Falls mills. The mill is now owned by Harp & Roberts.
About the time the first mill was being enlarged, came Samuel Parkinson, who opened a small store of general merchandise, the first in Hardin township.
In 1855, sometime in the spring of the year, an attempt was made to establish an office at White's Mill, which, however, resulted in failure, the office being given to Mr. Talbott for his new town of Rocksylvania, Iowa Falls then being unknown to the world. In 1856 the postal department decided to establish a mail route between Cedar Falls and Fort Dodge. Nettie Sanford, the well known historical writer of this section of Iowa, later so well known at Marshalltown as one of the editors of the News, gives the following interesting item on postoffice at Iowa Falls:
"It was deemed necessary that the postal highway about to be established between Cedar Falls and For Dodge should take in Iowa Falls on its course west. T. I. McChesney, who later resided in Ellis township, Hardin county, the state company's agent, was interviewed. He sat on a log not far from the anxious lot owners, who stood around him, him whittling a stick, as they laid the project before him in a persuasive manner, urging their claims above those of Hardin City. McChesney finally made a contract that the stages should run through the village, the citizens binding themselves to make a road and give the passengers a good stopping place. Of course the enterprising citizens were not to be abashed by this last proposition, though Mr. Estes said in an aside, 'By George! I don't know where we can put strangers in our cabins.' The road was built after this wise: A team started, fastened to whiffletrees, and by the compass a line was drawn to Down's Grove, now called Ackley. The sloughs were fixed a little by poles and grass, though no permanent bridges were built. The streams were forded, and in muddy times the passengers were obliged to alight and each carry a rail to pry the old red stage coach out of the water and mud. Very few ladies traveled in the coaches at this early day, and of course this statement of rail lifting does not apply to the gentler sex. The grass was very high before the cattle cropped it down, its feathery tassels coming up to the backs of the horses."
A mail route would be of little use, unless they could obtain a postoffice, and the department at Washington was importuned to establish one at this point. The office at Rocksylvania was finally ordered discontinued, after two years and more, and it was removed to Iowa Falls. James R. Larkin was appointed the first postmaster, he being one of the original town site proprietors. He resigned in favor of James S. Smith, who held on during President Buchanan's administration, giving way to A. E. Arnold's appointment by President Lincoln. He served until the fall of 1867, when Andrew Johnson removed him when he was cutting the heads from off most of Lincoln's office-holders. The complete list of postmasters at Iowa Falls is as follows: James R. Larkin; James S. Smith up to the Civil war; then came A. E. Arnold to 1868; George W. Chapman, W. A. Plantz, M. C. Woodruff, William H. Weldon, T. B. Knapp, James P. Carleton, R. A. Carleton, J. S. Buttolph, J. L. Whinery, W. E. Weldon.
Iowa Falls became a second class officein 1902. There are now thirty-six passenger trains daily and of thse about one-half carry mail. There are now six rural mail routes, averaging twenty-five miles, extending out from Iowa Falls, all being established in July, 1900. The last year's postal business of the Iowa Falls office amounted to $12,994.10. The amount of money order business for December, 1910, was, orders issued, $4,868; orders paid, $2,943; number of orders issued, 887; number of orders paid, 290.
The history of the incorporation of Iowa Falls dates from an election held July 24, 1869, resulting in the choice of the following named town officers: Mayor, O. W. Garrison; recorder, S. M. Weaver; trustees, Joel W. Hiatt, Isaac B. Thomas, Robert Wright, Hosmer Stevens, A. E. Arnold; treasurer, S. G. Gibbs. Wright declining to serve as trustee, Mr. Arnold was appointed to take his seat.
The mayors have been: O. W. Garrison, 1869; J. S. Smith, 1870; G. W. Chapman, 1871; J. C. Waldron, 1872; S. M. Weaver, 1873 to 1880; O. W. Garrison, 1880; J. S. Smith, 1881; C. Cowan, 1882; H. Cady, 1884 to 1890; W. H. Woods, 1890 to 1892; S. P. Smith, 1892 to 1893; G. L. Whitney, 1893 to 1896; W. H. Woods, 1896 to 1900; F. M. Williams, 1900 to 1902; J. H. Funk, 1902 to 1906; B. R. Bryson, 1906 to 1912.
Iowa Falls was made a city of the second class in 1896, since which time it has had mayors holding two years.
No city of its size can be found in all Iowa with a better quality of pure water and a finer water works system. This pays a profit to the city of more than a thousand dollars a year.
A volunteer fire department, aided by hook and ladder and other apparatus, have reduced the fire losses to a minimum.
The city cemetery is under control of the Ladies Social Society, formed in 1859, and no finer burying place can be seen in the county.
The system of public parks at Iowa Falls is superb, and with the return of each summer time thousands visit these beautiful spots nature has made and which men have cultivated and improved. Among these may be named Elk park, on the Iowa river, consisting of twenty acres, filled with deer and elk and other animals; Bliss Riverside park, another charming spot; East Iowa Falls park; Park river drive, which ends at the mouth of Rock run, the famous Indian resort. Prospect Point, at the Lower Palisades, is a delightful spot, showing the rough ledged river front of solid rock, with many cedars growing out from its side and overhanging the water. Wildcat Glen, another part of the Palisades, is sought out by lovers of nature.
Water Works System
Bonds to the extent of about fifteen thousand dollars were issued in June, 1892, under Mayor Smith, the same to run ten or twenty years, at option of city. The water plant was constructed and now furnishes the best of water and affords a great fire protection to the place.
The city is given the advantage of electric lights through a private corporation, to which a franchise was originally granted in 1894. Stock was also taken by many men in Alden and now the two cities are illuminated by the same plant at a nominal cost.
The public library ordinance was passed in November, 1898, and is referred to at length elsewhere in this work.
The following are at the head of the city government in Iowa Falls at this date, January, 1911: Mayor, B. R. Bryson; clerk, J. O. Gregg; assessor, E. Fitzgerald, Sr.; waterworks superintendent, B. Morgan; solicitor, F. M. Williams; marshal, Frank Gifford; treasurer, W. S. Walker; street commissioner, B. O. O'Malla; councilmen, J. L. Farrington, T. A. Fayant, B. E. Purcell, C. L. Gade, S. W. Wright and A. B. Baxter.
While Iowa Falls has never been noted as a manufacturing place, aside from its old-time and present flouring mill interested, yet it has been noted in years gone by for its stone quarries and lime product. These are not so much counted on today as its two immense stone crushing mills, that of the Barber Asphalt Company and the Ellsworth Stone Crusher, each working many men and finding sale far and near for the products of their plants. Then there is the poultry and creamery business of S. P. Wadley & Company, which firm employes fifty men a part of the season and fifteen all the year round. Other industries are the farm gate factory, employing ten men, and the Gasoline Engine Manufacturing Company, employing forty workmen.
Lodges, Churches, Banks and Schools
These important adjuncts to a modern city, in Iowa, are all treated in separate chapters, under their proper headings, hence will not be mentioned in this chapter. It may be added, however, in passing, that but few towns of its size in the Hawkeye state have more excellent public schools and more beautiful church edifices than Iowa Falls. Her banking interests are known the state over for their solidity.
The Silent City
In all ages, among civilized people, there has been due respect for the resting place of the departed dead, and even among half civilized races this has been considered a most sacred duty. In Iowa Falls the men who founded the town were so busy in looking after the immediate needs of the little hamlet, that they neglected to provide a proper burying place for those who might soon die within their midst; hence the women had to band themselves together and provide a cemetery for the place and they have long years since been repaid by having it said of the city that "no finer cemetery and none better cared for can be seen between the two great waterways which bound the commonwealth, than the one seen at Iowa Falls."
The beginning of the cemetery movement in Iowa Falls was after this wise: What was styled the Ladies Social Gathering Society was formed November 29, 1859, at the home of Mrs. H. P. Jones. They drew up a constitution which was headed as follows: "The uncertainty of life, and the certainty of death, which has been verified in our midst, warn us to provide for the dead while living, and as no quiet retreat has been set apart sacred to the rest of the departed, therefore, we, the ladies of Iowa Falls, do associate be governed by the following constitution and by-laws." article eleven of the constitution reads: "No disparaging personal remarks shall be countenanced by the association. Any member making such will be subject to reproof." The first officers were: Mrs. H. P. Jones, president; Mrs. S. M. Estes, vice-president; Mrs. J. S. Smith, secretary; Mrs. E. C. Sager, treasurer.
August 6, 1861, the association was out of debt and it was incorporated with a capital of two hundred dollars, with one hundred shares of two dollars each. Its incorporate title was "Ladies' Social Gathering of Iowa Falls."
It was related in 1882 of these thoughtful women and the noble work they performed, that they had platted in 200 blocks, with eight lots to each block. Additions had been made to the original plot; a vault had been built, costing $600; board fencing, $60; iron and stone fencing, $1,240; wire fencing, $60; evergreens and shrubs, $200. All this had been accomplished since that day, May 28, 1860, when the ladies planted a national flag on the rough, uncultivated tract of brush land, now a part of the cemetery, and where before the sum went down they, assisted by the invited gentlement, had cleared off the land and burned the brush.
The passer-by today observes one of the best cared for and most beautiful burial places in all northern Iowa. The grounds are shaded from one end to the other by rich, dark evergreen trees, which, both in summer and midwinter, when snow mantles the earth, present a befitting scene, the evergreen being ever appropriate to the memory of the dear and departed dead. The monuments and receiving vaults are numerous and well cared for by the association in charge. Among the notable monuments may be mentioned that of the Wisner-Hatch families, a very high, imposing shaft of the obelisk type.
With the return of each gentle springtime, and the recurrence of Memorial or Decoration day, the hundreds of little mounds are smoothed down and the tender shooting blades of grass are bathed by the tears of friends yet left this side the strand, as true mourners who have lost friends who have been her laid away to rest, hard by the banks of the gently rolling Iowa. The city may well take a just pride in this the city of the dead.
The present officers are as follows: President, Mrs. E. S. Ellsworth; vice-president, Miss Mary Bliss; secretary and treasurer, Mrs. Jennie Thorp; superintendent, F. E. Foster; directors, Mrs. Robert Wright, Mrs. E. S. Ellsworth, Mrs. Margaret Tower, Mrs. E. J. Shipman, Mrs. F. E. Foster, Mrs. H. J. Foster, Mrs. Jennie Thorp, Miss Elizabeth Tower, Miss Mary Bliss, Mrs. J. W. Rinehart.
The humane spirit of the people of Iowa Falls is to be seen in many ways, and in no manner to a greater degree, perhaps, than in the maintaining of the hospital within its borders. Its history, in brief, is this: In the fall of 1900 John O. Cross died, bequeathing by will, among other amounts, three thousand dollars to be used toward erecting a hospital in Iowa Falls, providing it should be done before the expiration of two years. The city of Iowa Falls then proposed to purchase a site if the necessary funds could be secured. Two or three thousand dollars were secured from citizens of Iowa Falls and the balance, some fourteen thousand dollars, was donated by Hon. E. S. Ellsworth, founder of Ellsworth College and general philanthropist, who is now deceased. The building was erected and dedicated, September 25, 1902. Since that time, with the exception of six months, when it was closed for lack of funds, it has been open and caring for the sick of Iowa Falls and vicinity. At present it is owned by the city, but managed by a board of trustees.
The officers at this date (January, 1911) are: Rev. Hrdcastle, president; J. L. Marks, secretary; J. B. Griffith, treasurer, and Mrs. Margaret M. Stoddard, superintendent. The board of trustees are Mrs. E. S. Ellsworth, Mrs. Robert Patten, J. B. Griffith, Rev. Hardcastle, J. L. Marks and R. A. Feist.
During the past two years seventy to eighty patients have received treatment here each year.
A small tax from the city due this year will materially aid the management, but outside of this small sum the hospital depends upon the outside for its support. The buildings are situated in a quiet, beautiful location, near Rock run, in the eastern portion of the city.
The following account is given of this library by the present librarian, Mrs. Florence G. Anders:
In October, 1878, about a dozen of the young ladies of Iowa Falls formed a reaing circle which was known as the D. W. C. Society. These young ladies met frequently for mutual benefit and pleasure. They worked faithfully for several years and by giving entertainments of the various kinds, gathered together a collection of books which were loaned to the members under certain regulations. In 1891 the library, consisting of four hundred volumes, was turned over to the Young Men's Christian Association, which had recently been organized, and these books formed the nucleus of our public library.
About this time the ladies of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union made a proposition to the Young Women's Christian Association to keep a reading room in connection with the library open four evenings each week, the Young Men's Christian Association to furnish the janitor and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union the librarian for each evening, each organization to furnish half of the fuel and light expenses--the books and the reading room to be free to everyone.
The proposition was accepted and this arrangement continued for several years. As a result of this work there grew an organization which began in 1895 as a regular corporation under the name of the Iowa Falls Library Association. To this association the Young Men's Christian Association tendered their library and furniture, which was gratefully accepted. A stock company was formed and a library fund created by selling shares to the amount of one thousand seven hundred dollars. This fund was added to at various times by small donations of money and by the proceeds of suppers, entertainments, etc. A small fee was charged for the prvilege of taking books, but the reading room, which was maintained also, was open to the public entirely free.
The library was kept open six hours each day for ten months in the year and three days each week through the months of July and August.
O. B. Chassell was the first librarian appointed. He held the position but one year, resigning in the spring of 1896. Mr. Chassell was succeeded by Miss Lulu E. Osgood. In August, 1897, Miss Osgood resigned and the place left vacant was filled by the appointment of Mrs. Florence G. Anders, the present librarian. The names of those who were responsible for the success of this undertaking and constituted the board of directors of the library association are as follows: W. H. Woods, J. L. Farrington, George E. Courtney, Mrs. H. C. Miller, Mrs. L. E. Jones, Mrs. E. S. Ellsworth, Mrs. J. D. Steere, Miss M. H. Bliss and Rev. T. M. Price.
In 1989 the trustees decided to petition the city council to establish a free public library. In 1899 a tax was voted, a one and a half mill levy was set aside for library purposes. A board of trustees was appointed and the library, consisting of less than one thousand volumes, was formally presented to the city. In November, 1901, under the direction of Miss Tyler, secretary of the Iowa library commission, the library was reorganized on a systematic basis and the books classified and catalogued according to modern methods. In 1903 correspondence was had with Andrew Carnegie and he promptly donated ten thousand dollars for a library building upon the usual conditions. This amount was supplemented by a large donation from E. S. Ellsworth. An ideal site was secured by the city council and in May, 1905, our beautiful and substantial building was completed and furniished ready for use.
During all this time the interest in the work of the library has steadily increased and has been shown, not only by the use of the library, but by many valuable gifts of books, etc. The ladies of the City Federation of Women's Clubs have been especially loyal to its interests and have donated several hundred dollars for the purchase of books. Under the careful management of the board of directors the library is now in a thriving and prosperous condition and is constantly growing in usefulness. It contains nearly four thousand volumes and maintains a good reading room equipped with about thirty-five periodicals. It has a well patronized children's room and a reference department of several hundred well selected books. It is now regarded as a fixed factor in the local educational system, not only as touching the public schools an college students but it is constantly patronized by the several women's clubs of the city whose membership quickly recognized its value and assistance in all research work. The present members of the board of trustees are J. L. Farrington, president; Mrs. E. S. Ellsworth, vice-president; J. L. Welden, secretary; Mrs. M. H. Bliss, Mrs. L. E. Jones, Mrs. W. L. Walker, Mrs. A. B. Miller, L. W. Lansing, W. V. Shipley.
The Milling Industry
From an early date, Iowa Falls has had notoriety as a milling center. First, the rapid falling waters of the Iowa river, rushing madly onward to the far-off sea, were caged up by the crude dam constructed by pioneer Benjamin I. Talbott in 1853, and made to propel a saw mill which cut much of the lumber used at an early day in the vicinity. Then Captain White bought the water-power and made many improvements, including the erection of a burr-stone grist mill, among the earliest ones in this part of the state. What was known as the Iowa Flouring Mill was erected in 1857 by Messrs. Estes, Larkin & Stevens. It was a lime-stone building, more than four stories high ans twenty-eight by forty feet in size. Originally, it had three central discharge water wheels and two run of mill-stones. As a custom mill, it supplied a vast amount of territory. It was patronized by the settlers scattered here and there over the prairies as far west as Fort Dodge, as far north as central Wright and central Franklin counties, and east as far as New Hartford, Black Hawk county. Farmers used to come to the mill at the "Falls" and so numerous were they that many times they were forced to remain several days before they could get their grinding done, paying hotel bills at the old Woods or Jones hotels. A week was not considered a long time to make these semi-annual milling tours in.
The gentlement who erected these mills operated them until 1859 and then Robert Wright had charge of the property many years, he being one of the owners since 1862. The firm then became Estes, Woods & Wright. Several good dams were washed down stream in the history of the mill. In 1872 improvements were made, including the introduction of new Eclipse water wheels and an additional run of burrs. Mr. Wright was an Englishman, who had mastered the milling trade in England, coming to Hardin county first in 1856.
After the death of Messrs. Wood, Estes and others, who had owned this property, it passed into the hands of Harp & Roberts, present proprietors, who bought the interests of the several heirs in 1892 and still operate the mill successfully. They also run the C. & N. W. elevator.
In 1882 the roller system was installed and in 1898 the plansifter system added. One of the old original run of stones still does work in the grinding of feed, although fifty-three years have come and gone since first placed in position in this mill. This is the oldest water mill in this section of Iowa, and where there used to be a dozen mills within a distance of thirty-eight miles up and down the Iowa, from this point, now there are only two left.
Listen to the water mill
Through the livelong day,
How the clicking of the wheel
Wears the weary hours away.
Languidly the autumn wind
Stirs the withered leaves,
In the field the reapers sing,
Binding up the sheaves,
But a proverb haunts my mind,
And as a spell is cast;
That the mill will never grind
With the water that has passed.
A woolen mill was in operation at Iowa Falls in 1882, operated and owned by John Creath, he taking hold of the factory in December, 1881. The mill had been erected several years before and continued to run until the woolen mill industry was virtually swallowed up by the trusts and mor improved plans of producing woolen fabrics.
Items of Unusual Interest
From an historic address before the Old Settlers' Association of Iowa Falls, by that ready writer and speaker, Marcus C. Woodruff, very many years ago, and which was published in a book more than twenty-five years ago, we take the liberty to extract many of the facts which here follows:
Some time during the winter of 1855-56, Lyman F. Wisner and Joshua Sger came and at once procured a lot for a store. Wisner bought some land and became the largest land owner in all central Iowa, before his accidental death in the late eighties. These two young men were peddlers, using a one-horse shay for moving their merchandise from place to place. The following year they erected a store building at Iowa Falls, which store stood where the Sentinel office later stood. Among others who soon followed in the tide of emigration was Moses Hatch and family, and his herd of cattle. His family consisted of himself, his wife and one daughter, the latter a tall, fair-haired girl of seventeen, in a green frock, and riding one of the horses. In after years this girl became the wife of Mr. Wisner, the first banker of Iowa Falls. The first hotel in the place, aside from the improvised one of Captain White, was kept by Alfred Woods and called the Western: it was built in 1857. Among the early inhabitants was Uncle Jacob George, whose farm and pleasant home were widely known. Uncle Jacob and his good wife were very pious people, the old lady in particular being a zealous and devoted Christian woman. They were stanch Methodists and were always reckoned among the strongest supporters of the church they loved, and the yellow-legged chickens they supplied to the clergymen were as numerous as the flocks of the largest farmers roundabout. These devout parents reared a large family of children, and the domestic circle, as gathered together every evening in the unpretending cabin for worship, was of itself a respectable congregation. I have often seen these good Christian people thus reading in turn from the Scriptures, and at the close of the chapter the old patriarch kneel in humility in the midst of the family group and supplicate heaven's mercy upon them all, and pledge themselves afresh to the service of the Divine Master.
Within a year or two after Iowa Falls has a human habitation and a name, the population multiplied rapidly, and visions of the teeming future, full of promise and happiness, warmed our ambition into unwonted activity. Among the crop who came in a little later were William Church, the village blacksmith; J. K. Senter, who tried to make Iowa Falls out of Georgetown; O. B. and A. E. Arnold; Delos Mott, now one of Hampton's largest farmers and capitalists (this was in 1883 when Mr. Woodruff wrote), Uncle Heth P. Jones; Uncle Ben Holding, who won enduring fame by beating Buttolph in a swearing match; Uncle Elijah Odell, the most exemplary saint the town ever knew; Alfred Woods and his pioneer hotel; Rev. Williston Jones, who erected the first church building on the town site; William E. Taylor, who long refused to conform to the eastern new-fangled custom of wearing boots and shoes; and Billy Burgess, the omnibus proprietor of Iowa fame, who never missed a train or a meal of victuals and the father of numerous pirs of handsome twins. He began as coach driver and wound up as proprietor of a coach line.
The winter of 1856-57 was a peculiarly cold and stormy one. The quails and prairie chickens were frozen in great numbers, and the whole bird and brute creation suffered intensely. One day the stage driver from Fort Dodge reported a large herd of elk between Pilgrims Grove and Skunk Grove. The next morning a party of six or more men, armed with trusty rifles and a jug of Hardin county whiskey, which froze the first hour out, started with sleighs after them. The mercury stood thirty degrees below zero, bu the excitement of the chse did much to keep the men warm and from freezing later on. The party brought home fifteen elk, but this was not without its unpleasant features and the trip was often referred to by the members of the party, as having "paid dear for the whistle."
Later, the same cold winter, a wild buffalo crossed the town plat of Iowa Falls, passing eastward across the public square, having been driven by the cold and hunger from the bleak plains of the Northwest. Doctor Foster seized his gun, and then commenced a foot race between the Doctor and the buffalo, each intent on something to eat. The Doctor pursued him with a resolute purpose, as he ever did fever and ague rioting in the veins of a wretched patient. The buffalo was shot, presumably by the good physician! He said so, anyhow.
Conflagration of 1874
During the hot, dry month of July, 1874, Iowa Falls was swept through its entire business portion by a very disastrous fire, which greatly crippled the struggling town and at a time when it could at least endure the loss. Without going into detail concerning this fire, it certainly will be of interest to many who recall the calamity to read a few paragraphs from the ready pen of editor M. C. Woodruff, who then resided at Iowa Falls, and which runs thus:
"To you who witnessed the destruction the spectacle ws surely appalling. To see building after building swallowed up by the flaming jaws of the insatiate monster, and whole blocks melting before the fiery breath of the crackling and hissing destroyer, was a scene of terrific grandeur, which cannot but hold an eternal place in memory. And how yet more terrible and enduring is such a spectacle when reflecting that the destruction was your own. Many of those buildings were shrines of pioneer memory; the speaking tokens of early struggles and hardships; memorials of early struggles with the untamed wilderness; the seal of consecration to this home of young manhood and womanhood; the testimony of beckoning properity, which industrious hands had carved out of the possibilities that nature had planted here. They were given up with more regret and tears than the world will ever fully know. But the energy which planted the settlement in primeval wilds, and hewed out such grand results, saw, even in this overwhelming calamity, only a fresh field for new struggles and victories, and the unfortunates at once set about the work of restoration. I will stop a moment to recall one peculiarly interesting incident of this great Iowa Falls fire.
"While the wreck of the homes and hopes was yet smoldering--the fire having died away for lack of anything more to destroy--a small, lone woman was seen to stand in the warm ashes of her home, sorrowfully surveying the calamity which had befallen her. House, barn, sheds, fences--everything that the house contained, save the plain, work-day suit she wore--even the landmarks which told the boundaries of the homestead lot--lay in ashes at her feet. Here were the industry and frugality of toil--some years in irremediable wreck; even the little household gods--these, too, were a part of the ruin which no mortal power could restore.
"For a brief hour this houseless, homeless and penniless woman stood in the ashes of her former home; precious visions of years of comfort and happiness force themselves through her blinding tears, and the heart within her ached and throbbed with unavailing agony over the black ruin before her. Nothing was left her--not so much as a change of raiment; all, all was gone.
"But hers was a brave soul. When relieving tears had done their natural office, the sighs and sobs had softened the heavy heart-ache within her, she rose to her feet, turned her steps from the irrecoverable past, and with equal fortitude and courage, began life anew. How her bravery has been rewarded, you know better than I. I simply know that, by dint of tireless industry, noble courage patient fortitude and heroic self-denial, Mrs. Agnes Jones has acquired another home, and, what more and better, has furnished to us and the world an example of womanly courage and heroism worthy to be embalmed in song and story."
In conclusion Mr. Woodruff said to the old settlers assembled:
"And now of Iowa Falls I find it difficult to speak in such terms of moderation as my relations here tonight require of me. I like it and its people too well to sit in critical judgment upon them. Here I stood at the very threshold of manhood, and resolved to make Iowa Falls my permanent home. Here I brought a young and devoted wife, in whose patient and loving companionship, twenty-one years have sped by with flying feet; here most of our children were born; up yonder, in your beautiful city of the dead, rests in his silent bed our first-born babe, awaiting the summons of Him who said: 'Suffer little children to come unto me for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven'; here an only sister and a dear old mother live, hallowing the spot, as only the name Mother can. Here are many of the friends of my earlier manhood, the grasp of whose hands and the kindling of whose eyes tell me of a friendship as pure as your running brooks and as enduring as your rockribbed hills. Every hill and vale, the rippling river, the bubbling springs, the hum of the old mill, the lively peals of the familiar school bell and the solemn tones of the church bells, all speak to me in tenderer sounds than I hear anywhere else on earth."
Present Township Officers
The present township officials are: Justice of the peace, J. Mallory; constable, C. H. Reynolds; clerk, L. W. Coleman; trustees, C. K. Mason, J. J. Hensing, J. V. Richtmeier; assessor, M. F. Johnson.