LYON COUNTY GENEALOGY

A Lyon County History

A. T. Andreas; Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa. 1875. Published by the Andreas Atlas Co. Lakeside Building Chicago, Ills., County History. 1875 page 466 - Lyon County.

Lyon is the northwest county of the state, the Big Sioux River separating it from Dakota Territory. It is thirty-seven miles long, east and west, by about seventeen north and south, containing an area of about 575 square miles, and has an altitude of nearly 1,400 feet above sea level. The principal streams are the Big Sioux, which borders it on the west, and the Rock River with their numerous tributaries. The main branch of Rock River flows centrally across the county, receiving near the south line its principal tributary, Little Rock River, which flows through the county from northeast to southwest. A considerable tributary called Mad Creek, also rises in Minnesota and meanders nearly across the county. Among other tributaries of Rock River are Kanaranza, Otter and Tom Creeks.

These are all clear and beautiful streams, and completely water all parts of the county. The Big Sioux and Rock Rivers furnish some excellent mill sites. The valley of the Big Sioux is from three to six miles wide, and is exceedingly fertile. Along this stream are some fine groves of native timber, and there are also a few groves on Rock River, though the supply of timber in the county is quite limited. The prairies are rolling, and in fertility are unsurpassed, there being but little or no waste land in the county. The soil is generally a drift deposit, covered with a black sandy loam and vegetable mold. It produces the finest crops of cereals and grasses. Historical.

By an act of the General Assembly, approved January 15, 1851, the boundaries of the county were fixed, and the name of Buncombe given to it. By this name it was known on the early maps. By an act, approved January 12, 1853, Buncombe County and several others were attached to Wahkaw (now Woodbury) County for judicial and revenue purposes, and thus remained until its organization January 1, 1872; But by an act, approved September 11, 1862, the name was changed to Lyon, in honor of General Nathaniel Lyon, who fell at the battle of Wilson's Creek.

At the time of the creation of Buncombe County the title to the soil still vested in the Sioux Indians, but by a treaty of July 23,1851, they relinquished the title to the United States, and stipulated to remove at once to their reservation on the Upper Missouri. They did not take their final departure, however, until several years after. The government surveys in the county were not completed until 1857. Long before there were any permanent settlers in the county this was the resort of many adventurous hunters and trappers. One of the most noted was Daniel McLaren, who built his cabin on the Big Sioux at the mouth of the little creek which now bears his name. After the county began to settle he took a homestead, but finally went farther west. “Old Tom” had his cabin at the mouth of Tom Creek, near the present town of Rock Rapids, and was killed by Indians.

The names of three other daring adventurers were Roy McGregor, George Clark and Thomas Lockhart, young men from Massachusetts, who were here in the Summer of 1862. McGregor was killed by the Indians, Clark was drowned in March, 1863; and Lockhart, after many narrow escapes, returned to civilization. Lewis P. Hyde, from Minnesota, made the first permanent settlement July 23, 1866, taking a homestead on the Big Sioux River, about two miles below the present Town of Beloit. He, with his sons, built the first settler's cabin. In the Fall they returned to Minnesota and spent the Winter, coming back in Spring with their families. Sioux City, seventy miles distant, was the nearest market, and during the Summer of 1867 the Sioux Indians were their only neighbors. In the Fall of 1867 Halvor Nelson, and his brother Ole Nelson, of Clayton County, visited the county seeking a location for a mill.

Early in the Spring of 1868, with a colony, they returned to the county, and Halvor Nelson immediately set to work to build a saw mill. Part of this colony settled west of the Big Sioux River in Dakota. In May, 1868, H. D. Rice went from Clay County and settled on Rock River, locating at the place known as Doon. Mrs. Rice came in September, and was the first white woman to settle on Rock River. In August of this year Emerick Irwin and H.W. Reves, built cabins and settled near, and J.B. Hartron in December following. These persons, and the following May, Charles H. Johnson, of Wisconsin, settled on Rock River at the mouth of Otter Creek, and soon after T.W. Johnson, A.A. Johnson, Emerick Irwin, and the Messrs. McGuire, located in the same vicinity.

In June of the same year D.C. Whitehead, of Webster County, went up Rock River to look for a location. On his way be was joined by Matthias Sweesy and Delos Tonsley. On the 22nd of June they reached the point to which Mr. Whitehead gave the name of Rock Rapids, where they selected homesteads, and thus made the beginning of another thriving settlement. The following also settled in different parts of the county prior to 1870: George W. McQueen, John A. Wagner, S.G. Martin, Justice Martin, Amos Severson, Thorseten Korsted, Ole Sorenson, Hans J. Oleson, Simon Tobiason, John Albertson, E.W. Lewis and others, the colony at Beloit also receiving considerable additions.

At the close of the year 1869 the population of the county had reached about one hundred, although the first settlement was made three years before. Since this time the population has rapidly increased. On the 28th of May, 1871, the first white child was born in the county - Odena Lee, daughter of A.K. Lee. The first sermon was preached by Reverend Ellef Oleson at the residence of Mr. Nelson, at Beloit, September 6, 1870; and at the same time and place was solemnized the first marriage - that of Ole Torberson and Petrina Peterson.

The first death was that of Lyman A. Wagner, son of John A. Wagner, December 26, 1870, aged four years and twenty days. The first school was taught in the Winter of 1870-1, by Mrs. D.C. Whitehead, at Rock Rapids. ON the 25th of July, 1871, was commenced, by C.E. Bristol, at Rock Rapids, the publication of the first newspaper - the Rock Rapids Journal. At first this paper was printed out of the county. The first paper printed in the county was the Lyon County Press, the first number of which was issued at Doon, September 20, 1872, by L.B. Raymond & Co.

On January 1, 1871, Lyon County severed its connection with Woodbury, and was organized as an independent county. At this time the county was divided into two civil townships - Lyon and Rock. The first election was held October 10, 1871, at which ninety-seven votes were polled. The following county officers were elected: Charles E. Goetz, Auditor; James H. Wagner, Treasurer; D. C. Whitehead, Clerk; T.W. Johnson, Sheriff; Thomas Thorson, Recorder; L.A. Ball, Superintendent of Schools; Ethan Allen, Surveyor; and J.S. Howell, Charles H. Johnson and H.T. Helgerson, County Supervisors.

 

The county officials for 1875 are:

Thomas Thorson Auditor   Harmon Cook Clerk
James H. Wagner Treasurer   Oatis B. Depee Recorder
Moses Nixon Sheriff   W.S. Peile Supt. of Common Schools
F.W. Allen Chairman of Board of Supv.      

ROCK RAPIDS. - This is the county seat, and is situated on a beautiful prairie tableland at the junction of Rock River and Kanaranzi Creek. Adjoining the town there is a very pretty grove of native timber, and the river here furnishes several excellent mill sites. There is an abundance of rock suitable for use in the construction of dams. BELOIT. - This place is situated on Big Sioux River, at the extreme southwest corner of the county. There is fine water power here, and also some beautiful groves of maple, elm and other kinds of timber. DOON. - This town is situated on a smooth plateau on the east bank of Rock River, at the confluence of Mad Creek, Rock and Little Rock Rivers. It commands a fine view of the valleys of these streams. Two fine water powers are furnished at the point. LARCHWOOD. - This is the central point of a large colony from Illinois, and is surrounded by excellent farming lands. It is in the northwestern part of the county.


 

Patrons Iowa State Atlas. page 515 LYONS COUNTY.

NAME

Residence

Business

Nativity

Came to State

Post Office

ROCK TOWNSHIP.

 

Convers, T. E.

Rock Rapids

Hotel

Iowa County, Ia.

1845

Rock Rapids

Martin, J. N.

Sect. 18

Farmer

St. Lawrence Co., N.Y.

1861

Rock Rapids

Ojers, R.H.

Rock Rapids

Harness Maker

Ogle Co., Ill.

1869

Rock Rapids

Shade, J. Rock Rapids Hotel Perry Co., Pa. 1860 Rock Rapids

Rock Rapids

Hotel

Perry Co., Pa.

1860

Rock Rapids

Thompson, J.K.P.

Rock Rapids

Atty & Land Agent

Wyandot Co., Ohio

1857

Rock Rapids

Van Sickel, E.E. Rock Rapids Merchant Orleans Co., Ohio 1866 Rock Rapids

Rock Rapids

Merchant

Orleans Co., Ohio

1866

Rock Rapids

Whitehead, D.C. Rock Rapids County TreasurerLandcaster Co., Pa. 1849 Rock Rapids

Rock Rapids

County Treasurer

Landcaster Co., Pa.

1849

Rock Rapids

DOON TOWNSHIP.

 

Johnson, T.W.

Sect. 36

Farmer

Knox Co., Ohio

1869

Rock Rapids

Johnson, C.H.

Sect. 6

Farmer

Knox Co., Ohio

1869

Rock Rapids

Kitterman, John

Sect. 7

Farmer

Perry Co., Ind.

1844

Rock Rapids

LARCHWOOD TOWNSHIP.

 

Lewis, E.W.

Sect. 13

Farmer

Delaware Co., Pa.

1869

Beloit

LYON TOWNSHIP.

 

Thorson, E.W.

Sect. 36

County Auditor

NORWAY

1854

Beloit

DALE TOWNSHIP.

 

Cook, Harmon Sect. 24. Far.& Clk. Courts Hendricks Co., Ind. 1857

Sect. 24

Far.& Clk. Courts

Hendricks Co., Ind.

1857

 

 

Rock Rapids Business Directory, page 568 LYON COUNTY. ROCK RAPIDS.

J.K.P. Thompson

Attorney at Law and Land Agent

D.C. Whitehead

Attorney at Law and Land Agent

T.E. Convers

Hotel

J. Shade

Hotel

R.H. Ojers

Harness Maker

E.E. VanSickel

Merchant


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