Hardin County - Jackson Township

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

Transcribed by Linda Suarez

Congressional township 88, range 20, known now as the civil township of Jackson, is bounded on the north by Hardin and Etna townships; on the east by Clay and Etna townships; on the south by Pleasant township and on the west by Ellis township. It contains thirty-six sections and is hence six miles square. The old Chicago, Iowa & Dakota (now the Chicago & Northwestern) railroad runs diagonally from southeast to northwest. Eagle City, Berlin and Hardin City were all once village plats of this township, which was settled very early in the county's history.


This sub-division of Hardin county wsa organized into a municipality or civil township in 1853, under the administration of County Judge Alexander Smith. The early records have long since been lost, hence the first officers cannot be appended.

Concerning the Early Settlement

It was on a beautiful bright autumn day in October, 1850, when a number of emigrant wagons, drawn by five yoke of strong oxen and one span of horses, made a halt upon the picturesque banks of the Iowa river, on section 2, in what is now known as Jackson township. These pioneer wagons contained Jacob Kidwiler, wife and nine children, Adam Crim and Francis Mitchel, who had just completed their long, tedious journey from Crawfordsville, Indiana, and now became the first settlers in Jackson township, and indeed among the first to locate within Hardin county. A rude shanty was at once erected, and in this the band of homeseekers remained until the following springtime, existing as best they could. Iowa City, Johnson county, was their nearest trading post, and that city was then still the capital of Iowa, which had only been admitted into the Union four years. But "going to store to trade" did not have to be accomplished very frequently, as they had brought some provisions with them, to which they, from time to time, added fish, wild turkey, venison, duck, coon and other fine wild game. In this way, the families did not suffer much for things enough to sustain life and keep reasonably healthy. The corn they ground in wooden mortars made by Mr. Kidwiler. The Indians, some of whom still roamed about over the valley, were friendly, because Mrs. Kidwiler was thoughtful enough to give them bread and meat, thereby making friends of them. Mr. Kidwiler made one trip to Oskaloosa, which he found fortified against the Indians. The people down there tried to persuade him to return at once and get his family, before the "uprising" of the hostile savages massacred them all in a supposed northern flight in the early spring of 1851. But he informed them that he and Indians were on good terms and that ended the matter. Mr. Kidwiler built a double log home in the spring of 1851 and in this he lived until his death, in 1863. His wife laid down the burdens of pioneer life only one week after the death of her husband. The husband was a native of old Virginia, born in 1806, of German descent. They had a family of ten children, all living but one at the death of their parents. Joseph H. Kidwiler, the youngest, was the first white child born in Hardin county, the date being June 26, 1851. In May, 1865, Joseph, with others, started for Oregon, with a train of "prairie schooners," the trip occupying five months. He remained in Oregon and Washington territories until 1871, then returned to Hardin county and started a general store at Eagle City, of which further detailed mention will be made.

Adam Crim, who accompanied the Kidwiler family here, was from Virginia also. He was a single man (said to have been too stingy to marry) and he located a loarge quantity of land and resided in the township until the close of the Civil war, when he moved to Missouri and later died, the character of a miser, it is related.

In 1851 came to this township for permanent settlement Levi W. Southard, Joshua Ball, who later moved to Kansas, Levi Livengood and Solomon Livengood.

In 1852 and 1853 came R. D. Simpson, J. W. Simpson, John Leitner, Winthrop Dyer, Louis Hayden, James Fairchild, William Shafer, Thomas Huff, A. L. Walling, Rev. E. C. Crippen, Jesse Griffin, Reynolds Hayden, Lewis Hayden, Peter Haddock, James Hall and Patrick Burns.

At this late date but little of general interest can be given concerning the following who effected settlement in Jackson township in either 1854 or 1855: David Bowers, I. H. Bowers, William J. Bowers, Joseph Knowles, Patrick Muldoon, Edwn Steele, Henry Bliss, Henry L. Huff, C. G. Ankney, Erastus Pardee, John Brile, D. C. Purcell, Adam Sheely, Amos Doan, Beriah Wright, George Hayden, George Pattee, a Mr. Jordan, William Dean, Henry Smith, George Teller, John Edick and Walter Hayden.

Low Priced Grain

In reading a sketch of A. B. Hughes, on of the men who came to Hardin county as late as 1859, it is gleaned athat wheat crops did not repay for the sowing, seed and reaping. One instance is here given: Iowa City and later Cedar Falls were the nearest real market points for the pioneers of Hardin county. Cedar Falls is only forty miles ditant from Jackson township, which seemed quite near at home then. The trips to "the Falls" as they called it then, usually consumed three full days, the teamster having to camp out going and coming. The average price of wheat was only thirty cents a bushel. One of these grain marketing trips in 1864 turned out as follows: Mr. Hughes loaded up a large load of wheat (forty odd bushels) into a sled, and started off for Cedar Falls, quite jubilant at the prospects of getting winter supplies of provisions and clothing for his family. Soon after starting out, a heavy snow commenced falling and the roads became so blockaded that it required eleven days to make the trip, and when he returned to Eldora he found his net proceeds consisted of thirty cents. This he gave to Josph Furry, a merchant of the place, to whom he was owing sixty cents, and had agreed to pay him on his return. In those days it took two bushels of wheat to purchase a pound of tobacco.

Concerning the public schools of this township let the reader turn to the chapter on Education and there read much concerning the whereabouts of early scholars from this township. It is good reading and true history and should be preserved in the annals of Jackson township and Hardin county.

Of the lodges, churches, etc., the general chapters will contain an account.

Villages of the Township

In 1855, Hardin City was known as one of the flourishing towns of northwestern Iowa, but fate seemed to have it marked as its own bright and shining mark. It became defunct and exists now only in memory. The plat of this village was filed for record February 14, 1854. It was located upon the northeast quarter of section 12, township 88, range 20. Lewis Hayden, who erected a saw mill and corn cracker, conceived the idea of founding this town. He had County Surveyor John Shepherd do the platting of his village, in which its proprietor had great faith at the time. William Dean made an addition to the place, calling it East Hardin City. After the mill of Mr. Hayden got fairly under good running order, he erected a two-story frame building to be used for hotel purposes. This was early in 1854. He conducted this house over a year himself, then sold to Edwin Steele, who continued it several years. In February, 1880, the last name landloard, after building his usual morning fire, returned to his bed, while the family was getting breakfast, but when called to his morning meal, he did not reply, so examination was made and it was found that he was dead, having a peaceful expression upon his pallid face.

In 1854 Beriah Wright opened a stock of general merchandise in Hardin City. The next year he was followed in the same line by another merchant, Erastus Pardee, both of whom had a good trade in the palmy days of the town.

As to the milling operations at this point, it might here be said that after the saw mill came a small corn-cracker. In 1854, Mr. Hayden bought a set of burrs that came from Cedar county, displacing the roughly-made mill stones of the original "cracker," which were none other than prairie bowlders. [sic]

The first election after organization of Jackson township was held at this mill. The election judges sat upon a saw log, with a keg of genuine whisky between them, and every legal voter was entitled to a drink.

Amos Doan started the first blacksmith shop here in 1854. The next season came the pioneer shoemaker, Mr. Horback. The first lawyer was John Fairchild, who came in 1854 and hung out his shingle, "Lawyer." His career was cut short by his death.

Henry L. Huff, so well and favorably known in later years in Eldora and Hardin county in general, came to Hardin City in the spring of 1855. Dr. Winthrop Dyer was the pioneer physician, coming in 1854 and remaining until 1858. It is stated that he was the only "regular" physician who ever practiced as a resident of this township. Doctor Hiserote, who was a sort of a homeopathic doctor, not a full fledged physician, came to the rescue of the ill portion of the community in 1857.

In the spring of 1855 a postoffice was secured, with James Fairchild as its postmaster, who after a short time was succeeded by Edwin Steele, who held it for twenty-five years and until released by death. Hiller Rickard followed him as postmaster.

As a review, it may be said that Hayden erected his mill in 1853, enlarged it in 1855 and it was destroyed by fire in 1855. He wsa offered eighteen thousand dollars for his mill and water power by an Ohio company, but, having rejected it, lost all in the fire. The mill site was then sold to a Mr. Mitchell, who built a mill costing six thousand dollars and this was supplied with two run of mill-stones. In 1865 the mill was sold to John Fossler for twenty-one thousand dollars. Dr. Vary, of Ackley, finally held the property which has long since gone the way of all the earth.

With the locating of the county seat at Eldora, the construction of railroads, which missed the town of Hardin City, and other advancements, the place has gone to decay.

Village of Berlin

In the autumn of 1857 Berlin was laid out, the surveying being executed in a workmanlike manner by Deputy County Surveyor Robert Allison, and duly filed on the record books of Hardin county. The founders were Allen Greer and J. S. Hiserote. It was situated on the east half of section 22, and west half of section 23, township 88, range 20. Allen Greer seems to have been the moving spirit of the place, for he it was that put in the first store after he laid out the town and also built a steam saw mill which was operated about five years. While a post office was badly needed by the surrounding community, the same was not obtained until 1863, when John Ross was appointed postmaster; he was succeeded by Messrs. G. H. Speers, Thompson Willer, D. Slocum and Orris Frisbie. Possibly a number followed these.

When Civil war broke out, Berlin was a sprightly village, having twenty-five dwellings, a general store, blacksmith shop and a wagon repair shop. In 1882 nothing of business or industry remained in the once prosperous place save one small store, a blacksmith shop, a school house, and seven or eight dwellings. Several fires destroyed much of the property of the town at different times, three stores being included in such conflagrations. At this date (1911) there are only two or three buildings left, the methodist church, a school house and a shop.

Eagle City

Another of the defunct towns of Jackson township is Eagle City, on the southwest corner of the southwest quarter of section 31, townshp 89, range 19. It was platted by its owner, Samuel Fossler, and recorded for legal reference in the county records of villages, may 18, 1878. This was not quite a "paper town," but of little consequence in a commercial sense. In 1883 it contained only one store, owned by J. H. Kidwiler; a blacksmith shop, by Jeremiah Hubbard; one grist mill, the property of Samuel Fossler, and about a helf dozen dwelling houses. A saw mill was among the early day industries and in 1865 the waterpower site was sold to Samuel Fossler, who erected the Eagle City Flouring Mills. A large turbine wheel propelled the mill, which had three run of burrs. The mill was a substantial, three-story structure. At this point on the Iowa river the head, or "fall" for water power is nine feet, a good power indeed. With the saw mill attached, the plant was valued in 1880 at ten thousand dollars.

A post office was obtained here in 1878, with Joseph Kidwiler as postmaster. Mail was received twice each week from the Eldora office.

Village of Owasa

Owasa is situated in Jackson township, a station point on the Chicago, Iowa & Dakota (now Northwestern) railroad line, on section 17. It was platted by K. H. Smith and son, of Eldora, in 1883. It now contains about one hundred people, and it is trying hard to become an incorporated village, which may be effected during this year.

A postoffice was established in 1884, the year after the railroad went through. The station agent, M. Frisbie, was the postmaster. Following him came O. D. Nichols, engaged in the mercantile business and who held the office in his store building. September 1, 1894, S. I. Nichols, the widow of O. D. Nichols, ws appointed, and she served until February 22, 1901, when Arthur Sanders was appointed and served until February 22, 1904, and was succeeded by B. Luella Sanders, who served until March 23, 1905, and was followed by Joseph Fuller, who is still in office.

A rural route was established from this postoffice in 1904. July 27, 1905, under postmaster Joseph Fuller, the office was entered, by the back way, the safe opened and rifled to the extent of seventy-two dollars in stamps and cash. The robber was never caught.

Business Interests

The first general dealers in Owasa were J. H. Smith & Son, of Eldora, who put in a stock of goods in 1883.

The first to deal in grain was a Mr. Abbott, from Marshalltown.

The first hardware was sold by T. J. Buchanan.

The first grocery was established by Ransom Brothers.

The earliest blacksmith was H. G. Manley.

The first harness makers were Tisher & Van Avery.

The first restaurant was established in 1908 by Clarence Frisbie.

J. H. Smith sold the first lumber and established a yard.

The first meat market was established by Cash & Glass.

Ray Mathews established the first drug store.

The Savings Bank was established in 1907.

The business of 1911 (month of January) was in the hands of the following persons:

Bank - Owasa Savings Bank.

General dealers - Joseph Fuller, S. Jackson.

Hardware - C. Ruggles, J. A. Nichols.

Restaurant and hotel - John Lackey.

Blacksmith - J. F. Kirkpatrick.

Drugs - F. B. Downs.

Meats - Carl Conklin.

Physicians - Dr. L. O. Carey.

Grocery - - - Gaton.

Pool Hall - G. S. Kasch.

Harness shop - O. C. Stubbins.

Feed barn - Leslie & Van Orsdel.

Station agent - V. Kenney.

Grain dealers - Farmers Co-operative Company and Davis & Moser.

Live stock - Kirkhuff & Glass.

Lumber - Davis & Moser.

A creamery was established at this point in 1898 and run about five years, and where it stood now stands the Farmers Co-operative Elevator.

Township Officers in 1911

The following named are the township officials in 1911: Justices of the peace, J. Gunn, G. Bailey; constable, J. Lackey; clerk, F. L. Guthrie; trustees, P. Ransom, A. J. Bear, J. L. Simpson.

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