The History of Keokuk County, Iowa



In 1850 this township contained a population of ninety; in 1855 it was 676, and in 1875 there were 1,260 inhabitants. In April, 1845, the township of English River was organized and comprised all of Liberty, English River and Adams. The first settlement was made near the present site of South English by James Mehaffee and Jacob Bowers, in the year 1844. In 1845 James Thomas and John Houston came. The family of James Thomas was the first, the others being unmarried, and located on the northwest quarter of section twenty-two. Houston located on section twenty-four, near the present site of South English, and this place was for a number of years called Houston's Point. James Chambers and H. H. Rodman settled soon after on section thirty. Thomas Morgan settled in 1847, and the following winter Chambers Rodman froze to death. He started to Sigourney early in the morning of a mild winter day, and while there became somewhat intoxicated. He did not return, as was expected, in the evening. The next morning some young men started from Houston's Point to hunt for deer, and had not proceeded far until they heard Rodman's dog bark. Being attracted by the barking of the dog, they proceeded to the spot, where they found the dead body of Rodman frozen stiff. The first birth in that neighborhood was the daughter of H. C. and Rebecca Rodman, March 27, 1846. The first death was that of a child of James Thomas.

The township was organized with twenty voters, in April, 1852. The snow was at that time one foot deep. At this, the first election, the following officers were chosen:

Trustees—Joel Slate, H. H. Rodman and James Thomas.

Clerk—Henry Fawel.

Justice—W. S. Slate.


The present township officers are:

Justices—Thomas Leasly and A. D. Spickerman.

Constables—Bacon Holmes and R. Webster.

Trustees—T. A. Morgan, Adam Wheeler and W. A. Gore.

Clerk—J. H. Root.

Assessor—D. N. Coffman.


This section of country has always been noted for the enterprise, independence and intelligence of its citizens. The first settlers were from that part of the Union where churches and free schools abounded, and those who have since settled have been of the same character, consequently schools and churches were early organized.

The Methodist Episcopal was the first organized, in 1851, with the following named persons as members: Joel Slate and wife, Martin S. Slate, L. E. Slate, H. H. Rodman and wife, and S. M. Glandon. The Baptist was the second organization, in 1855.

A union Sunday-school was organized in the fall of 1857, by a Baptist preacher from Iowa City, with the following officers: superintendent, Joel Slate; secretary, M. Slate; librarian, S. M. Glandon. It had a library of two hundred volumes.

The M. E. Church built the first meeting-house, in 1859.

The first sermon preached was at the funeral of Chambers Rodman, by Father Elliott, a Baptist preacher.

South English now has three meeting-houses, to-wit: Methodist, Baptist and Christian. Webster has two: Methodist and Congregational. White Pigeon one: Christian.

The first school we have any account of was taught by S. M. Glandon in 1851, and the school-house was no modern structure, as there were no windows to it. Webster had the first frame school-house, and it is doing duty yet, although built in the fall of 1854. There are now ten schools.

The first marriage was Lem. Brinor to Miss Dinah Houston, in June, 1852, M. S. Slate officiating. The first death was a child of James Thomas.

The first frame house was built in 1852, by S. M. Slate, and is a pretty good house yet. Mr. Slate has lived in the house ever since, until last fall, Twenty-three years without moving is something unusual in Iowa. The first store was kept by Ethan Post, and it is said of him by the early settlers that he could generally by found at his post—fast asleep. The first saw-mill was built by William Slaydon. The first postmaster was H. H. Rodman.

Of the old settlers there is still living here Grandmother Houston, and Rebecca Rodman (widow of Chambers Rodman). James Thomas is living in Oregon; H. H. Rodman in Missouri. In addition to the above there are several citizens still living there who have been in the township for over twenty-five years. Among them are Thomas Morgan, Mrs. Huxford (daughter of H. H. Rodman), S. M. Glandon and wife, M. S. Slate, Cordy Glandon and family, and Moses Hall and wife.

The town of South English was laid out in March, 1855, and was located on sections 23, 24, 25 and 26. Since the railroad has been located through the township, there being no suitable depot grounds in the old town, a new addition has been laid out near the depot, a short distance from the old town, and a large number of the houses are now being moved there. The first store was started shortly after the town was laid out. At present South English is quite a business point and bids fair to become quite a town, now that it has railroad facilities.

          J. F. White, dealer in dry goods, groceries and general merchandise is the leading merchant of the place, and a man of large capital and great influence. There are few men in the county who have so wide-spread reputation as Mr. White. Especially in that part of the county has he exerted a wide-spread influence and contributed much toward the development of the country.

C. F. Crosby is a dealer in groceries; he is also a very successful business man and possessed of large influence. The following other firms are doing a good business: W. T. Coffman & Co., drugs; W. T. Platt, drugs; W. M. Shepherd, hardware; Geisler & Garlick, lumber; J. F. Mead, blacksmith; J. Q. Lewis, saddlery; N. C. Miller & Son, livery. There is a first-class hotel kept by U. Younkin. The following are the leading physicians: W. W. Newsome, A. Hale and Dr. Cocklin.

The "Western Herald " is a sprightly newspaper published here, a brief history of which is given in the chapter on the " Press of the County."

The Methodist Church was organized in September, 1851, and a frame church-building was erected in 1858, at a cost of $600. Revs. Messrs. Hestwood, Orr, Skinner, Manderville, Shain, Teter, Baker, Smith, Miller, Davis and Wycoff are the ministers who have been pastors. The membership at present numbers thirty-one. Of the original members Mr. Slate and S. M. Glandon are yet active communicants.

The Christian Church was organized in 1856. In 1875 a frame building was erected at a cost of $1,200, which was dedicated the same year by Elder Carpenter, of Oskaloosa. The present membership numbers twenty.

The South English Lodge No. 263, I. O. O. F., was organized October 10, 1873, C. F. Crosby, T. A. Morgan, A. Klindschmit, F. E. White, John Nyswaner and J. C. Wilson being the charter members. There are forty members of the order at present.

Naphtali Lodge No. 188, A. F. & A. M., was organized August 10, 1865. A. D. Griffin, Henry Meeker, B. F. Black, W. P. Teeters, J. D. Kirby, J. G. Miles, S. M. Waters, S. M. White, J. F. White, Wallace Harmonson, Wm. Hartsock, James McLaughlin, Solomon Hallett, were the charter members. The following are Master Masons: A. D. Griffith, Henry Meeker, J. F. White, Thos. Seerley, W. W. Newsome and J. C. Wilson. There are at present thirty-four members of the order. The present officers are: J. C. Wilson, W. M.; W. H. Wait, S. W.; Wm. Sloan, J. W.; J. F. White, treasurer; D. N. Coffman, secretary; J. Axmear, S. D.; C. D. Kemball, J. D.; Thos. Seerley, tyler.



Is located on sections 6 and 7 and was laid out in June, 1855. It has a post-office and one church. This is a Christian Church and was organized in 1859 by Elder E. Scott. A. Carmichael and wife, A. J. Lutton and wife, M. Higgins and wife, C. K. Wheeler and wife, and R. Smith and wife were among the first members. A frame church was erected in 1875 at a cost of $1,200. The present membership is thirty-five. The church was dedicated in 1875 by Elder J. N. Smith.



This town is situated on sections 30 and 31 and was laid out in April, 1854. It is a place of considerable business and contains a post-office and two churches, Methodist and Congregational. The former was organized in the fall of 1853. Wm. Reed and wife, Thomas Morgan and wife, and M. J. Monicue were among the first members. A frame church-building was erected in 1873 at a cost of $2,100. This building was dedicated to the worship of God in December, 1873, by Rev. James Hill. Reverends Messrs. Orr, Mandeville, Sherman, Smith, Robison, Elrod, Kendrick, Pugh, Davis, Miller and Wycoff have been some of the pastors. The present membership is sixty-seven.

The Congregational Church of Webster was first organized at South English in October, 1866. In September, 1870, the congregation changed its place of meeting from South English to Webster, and in 1871 a frame church-building was erected at the latter place, costing about $1,800. The building was dedicated the same fall by Joseph Pickett of Des Moines, who was chiefly instrumental in erecting the building and contributed liberally toward the building fund. The pastors thus far have been E. B. Ellis, F. Crang and James E. Moore. The original members were, Charles Hoyt, Susanna Hoyt, Emma J. Hoyt, Delia C. Root, J. H. Root and Laura A. Root. The membership now numbers forty-eight.

Webster has always been a good trading point and with the new impetus it has recently received by the extension of the B., C. R. & N. railroad, promises to become a place of considerable importance.

Transcribed by Pat Wahl. Thank you, Pat!


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