The History of Keokuk County, Iowa


A part of the township was in the second purchase of Indian territory in Iowa and settled in the spring of 1839 by Dr. Washington Mealey and John Mealey as the first white parties. Their claims are now the property of Samuel Singmaster, one of Iowa's most successful stock feeders and horse breeders, as he has now on hand twenty-one imported Clydesdale and Norman stallions.

In the fall of 1839 Thomas Henderson and D. N. Henderson, his second son, crossed the Mississippi at Burlington, and wending their way along the Indian trails (for there were no roads) for three days and landed on the farm now owned by Martin Sanders, about three miles from the then boundary line. The Indians visited them daily in a log shanty where they camped, passing the shanty without a door, no one near, and did not disturb anything, for they had not then contracted the bad habits of the whites.

Thomas Henderson returned to his home in Warren county, Ill., and left his son, D. N. Henderson, to work on his claim while he boarded with Dr. Mealey and John Mealey, who both lived in the same house, he then being only a youth. His history is closely interwoven with the history of the township and a short account of his varying fortunes will be appropriate, as a history of Clear Creek township without D. N. Henderson in it would be like the play of Hamlet with Hamlet left out. During the former part of the winter the Mealey families were each blessed with a new comer and D. N. had to wade in the snow into Washington county to bring some lady friends to welcome into the world the young Hawkeye. On one of these trips he had to wade in the snow while Mrs. Wasson, Mrs. Temple and Mrs. Middleton waded in the snow after him. He returned to Illinois during the winter of 1840, and while absent John Baker and Win. Shockley made claims, and in the following spring Thos. Henderson returned and settled on his claim. James Junkin settled on the farm now owned by C. Ramsey. Baker and Shockley settled on claims now owned by John Suman and John Vogle. In the same spring William Grimsby settled on a claim on which is now located the town of Talleyrand, Wesley Goss, Harvy Stevens and L. B. Homes all taking claims on government land not surveyed; and in order to protect claims it became necessary to have an organization and make a code of laws in which all who signed the code pledged their property, lives and sacred honor to stand to and abide the decision of any committee chosen to settle any claim difficulty. All the citizens signed the pledge and things moved on with scarce a jar to mar the happy families. All the first settlers had families, except L. B. Homes, and he courted and married Miss Anderson the second year after settling on his river claim, and they had one child, and she is at this writing the wife of Theodore Robison of Sigourney. About this time John Crill, Sr., and his two sons, David and John, settled on claims on Skunk river, and after living there two years sold to Robert Alexander and Michael Hornish, who came from Richland county, Ohio, and they and their families formed a nucleus with Wesley Goss as a kind of exhorter to form a Methodist church. Soon after a tin peddler and next a Methodist preacher made their advent in Clear Creek, and Rev. Samuel Sturgeon, an Associate Reformed preacher who preached every four weeks on Sunday at Thos. Henderson's house, he and his wife being both members, and D. N. sung David's Psalms, for he was then orthodox. Fears were entertained as to the propriety of allowing the Crills to settle on their claims, and a youth by the name of Mealey burned a cabin on their claim to prevent their settlement, and L. B. Homes was charged with being accessory, which upon investigation proved not to be correct. The Black Hawk purchase having been made in 1842 the whites were allowed to settle on this land. D. N. Henderson had bought a claim of W. J. Hutchinson at the place where the Black Hawk mill now stands, and L. B. Homes, who had a desire for a mill-site, determined to jump the claim. They both repaired to the location on the evening that the Indian title expired, and at midnight with their friends armed with guns and knives, Homes took possession of the house which Hutchinson had built, and Henderson's party built a log heap so near the house that it caught fire and the house had to be torn down. They then compromised and Homes bought Henderson out. Some of the boys were fined fifteen dollars, but D. N. Henderson escaped.

The township soon settled up with good, sober citizens, for there was not a drop of liquor of any kind sold or used in Clear Creek for several years after it was settled, and peace and happiness reigned supreme. Sunday-schools were organized, and no sect seemed to be strong enough to attempt to persecute. But finally the Methodists got the lead in church matters, and, as usual, they began to lay down rules of moral conduct for all classes. But the others, although in the minority, refused to follow the dictates of the Methodists, and would once in a while trip the fantastic toe, and thus two sets, both orthodox Christians, edged off, and would have been at open war had it not been for Mr. Grimsley, Thomas Henderson and George Gray. Difficulties then arose, and some left the church with disgust, and some were turned out. But a few held fast to the faith, and revived again, and built a log church at the place now known as the Hornish Graveyard, as Michael Hornish donated three acres to be under the care of the Methodists, and to be a public burying ground for all who wished to occupy the same. Their church has had its ebbs and floods, sometimes in prosperity and at others in adversity, and at this date they have a frame house, in which they hold their meetings in Talleyrand; but their members are but few, and very little life is manifested in their devotions.

While writing on the church subject, we will give the church history of each denomination.

The Associate Reformed Church never organized in Clear Creek township. They only had occasional preaching, and finally organized in Washington and Brighton.

The Seceders held occasional meetings at Mr. Junkin's house in the early settlement of the township, but never made a permanent organization; and united with the Seceders of Washington county, and built a church three miles east of Talleyrand, many of its members residing in Clear Creek township, among whom are (and were) Thomas Jeffrey and family, and E. Kinkade and family; and as the two last named churches have united under the name of United Presbyterians, they still hold their meetings at the old Seceder Church, east of Talleyrand in Washington county; and prominent among its members are John Jeffrey, Samuel Ford, A. II. Ford, Nathan Garrett, Moses Hons, William S. Balaton, and their families. They never proselyte, and never receive any into their church who are not well versed in the ritual, and of course they have but little trouble with their members.

At the time that Lee split the Methodist church the United Brethren organized a church at the Greenlee school-house, Mr. Cligren and Frederick F. Lyons as pastors. It continued for several years and finally disappeared.

The Baptists organized a church at the Shinbone school-house in the year 18—, and have continued to this writing, and have a church in Talleyrand with a membership of —. They have a good frame house, with a steeple and bell. Prominent among their members are A. N. Herich, William Johnson, Uriah Johnson, S. E. Johnson, Dan'l Rand, Austin Conely, John Shockley, David Marquis, J. M. Sanders, Thos. Cowdery, and all their wives; and Mrs. Jenks and Mrs. Powers, widow ladies.

The Catholic church is a substantial brick building, two miles northwest .of Talleyrand. Its members number —. Theirs is a strong organization, and outside of the church but little is known of its workings. It is well sustained by its members, among whom are Paul Pfeifer, Frederick Berg, John Vogle, John Seeman, Peter Quier, Jacob Conrad, and many others who seem to be zealous in the cause they have espoused.

The Presbyterians built a church at Talleyrand, but the church finally went down and was sold.

The German Methodists organized a church at Talleyrand, and erected a. building, which is still used by them.

The Adventists held a series of meetings in 1869, and created quite an excitement. Mr. Cornell, a Campbellite, held a discussion with them, and seemed to get ahead in the debates; however, they prospered for a time, but of late they seem to have about disappeared.

In 1859 a barn belonging to Mr. Singmaster was destroyed by fire. Circumstances led the people to suppose that the fire was caused by an incendiary, and the suspected party was taken by a number of Mr. Singmaster's neighbors and barely escaped being hung. He was afterward indicted by the grand jury, and being convicted was sentenced to the penitentiary. Clear Creek township is known to the real estate dealer as township 75, range 10; and in 1850 had a population of 242; in 1856 the population was 678; and in 1875 it was 1,270.

It is not as level as the township north, nor considered as good for agricultural purposes as Richland, but owing to the fact that lumber was of easy access it has always been a favorite region for emigrants. The present officers are:

Justices of the Peace—D. N. Henderson and George Starr.

Constables—P. Heisdaffer and John Briar.

Clerk—E. F. Henderson.

Trustees—T. Stuckland, John Englendinger and N. Wehr.

Assessor—John Hornung.

Talleyrand, the only town in the township, was laid out in March, 1857. It is located near the center of the township, on sections 13, 14, 23 and 24. It, for its size, has the usual number of stores, shops, churches and physicians, all of which are in a prosperous condition.

Transcribed by Steven McBride. Thank you, Steve!

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