Madison County




By Herman A. Mueller


          This little trading point is about eighteen miles southwest of Winterset, and is on the divide constituting water shed between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers It is surrounded by a splendid scope of country and is in the midst of a very fertile farming and stock raising region. Grand River, worthy of its name, wends its way closely by the town and in an early day not only supplied water power for milling and other purposes but upon its banks stretch bodies of timber by Nature for the uses of mankind.

          Macksburg was laid out on sections 9, 10, 15 and 16, March 23, 1874, for the owners of the land, William Octavio Lee, Joseph Hughes Mack, Elihu G. Barker, Andrew J. Hastie and John D. Love; Robert A. Patterson, surveyor.  The name adopted is taken from one of the prominent early settlers of Grand River Township, whose high character, indomitable energy and enterprise are chiefly responsible for the establishment of this one of Madison County's commercial centers. Dr. Joseph Hughes Mack will long be remembered for his own sterling characteristics and Macksburg will further serve to perpetuate his name in local history.

          Near the town site of Macksburg a post office was established in 1863 and given the classic name of Venus.  Andrew J. Hastie, a pioneer of the township, was installed as postmaster, and the office continued in existence until 1870, when it was abolished for the reason that no one could be found to assume the onerous (?) duties of the establishment imposed by the Government. However, the office was reestablished in 1871 and when Macksburg was founded the office was removed to the new town and given its name, with Dr. Joseph Hughes Mack in charge, and from this time on Macksburg began to grow and soon assumed the proportions of a village that gave evidence of one day being able to take its place in the front rank, as a business and shipping point.

          John H. Marley and John D. Love, both of whom were at one time in charge of the post office, were first in the field as merchants and were active in increasing the interests of the town and its upbuilding. Other mercantile establishments and industries secured a footing in the "burg" and today there are a number of business enterprises that call to the place a class of people well equipped to purchase goods suitable to their means, which is saying a good deal, as they come from farming districts surrounding the town that cannot be surpassed for fruitfulness and prosperity anywhere in the State of Iowa.

          In the center of the town is a block of ground which was a donation from Dr. John H. Mack for park purposes. It is a pretty spot and on its four sides are ranged most the business houses. The park was originally the site of a schoolhouse and was secured by Doctor Mack by trading other property for it.

          While Macksburg does not have in her confines a printing press, her business interests, schools, churches and local gossip find a place in the Macksburg Record, a five-column quarto, established in 1911. The paper is edited by Mrs. Shell and published at Lorimor.  With its bank, several general stores, among which is also the post office, implement concerns, lumberyards, drug and drygood stores, livery stables and garages, elevator and recently acquired railroad facilities, Macksburg continues to retain her place in the county's commercial affairs and socially the town is considered par excellence.


          The village of Macksburg was incorporated as a town, November 5, 1876.  Dr. Joseph Hughes Mack, M. Osborn, John D. Love, J. D. Rawls and William Octavio Lee were appointed commissioners to provide for and call an election, which was held at A. J. Mack's store. The judges of election were A. I. Mack, William Octavio Lee, M. Osborn; clerks, George Dudley and John D. Love. Dr. Joseph Hughes Mack was elected the first mayor of the newly made municipality. At this time the business interests were represented in the following industries: general stores, Love, Sharp & Company, Levi Wolf; hardware, Lee & Lafler; drugs, J. J. Clark; millinery, Mrs. Mahan; insurance, William Octavio Lee; carpenter, Levi T. Townsend; shoes, Gray Mahan, A. Kirtland; harness, J. T. Johnson; blacksmith, Herbert L. Harden; wagon maker, Alfred Hammers; physicians, Joseph Hughes Mack, John A. Rawls, Thomas M. Comuck; hotel, Truman H. Gilbert.


         The first bank in Macksburg was established in August, 1902, as a private concern, by L. W. McLennan, of  Afton , which continued under Mr. McLennan's sole control until in April, 1903, when the Macksburg National Bank was organized. The incorporators were L. W. McLennan, Jeremiah M. Wilson, Levi T. Townsend, Joseph Hughes Mack, Cass Pindell, Ira D. Harrison and Martin Rowe; and first officials, J. M. Wilson, president; Joseph Hughes Mack, vice president; E. O. Klingaman, cashier.  Capital stock, $25,000.

          In March, 1904, W. W. Walker succeeded to the cashiership, and in 1908, upon the death of Doctor Mack, Levi T. Townsend was elected vice-president by the board of directors. Jeremiah M. Wilson met an untimely and tragic death, June 21, 1910, and was succeeded in the presidency by Levi T. Townsend; at the same time Mr. Harrison went into the office of vice president. The latter died in November, 1910, and Martin Rowe became vice-president. Finally, Mr. Townsend disposed of his stock and Eugene Wilson, son of Jeremiah Morgan Wilson, was made president of the institution on February 8, 1913.

          Plans have been completed for a new bank building, which will stand on the corner of North and East streets. The structure will be a one-story brick and it is anticipated the new home of the bank will be ready for occupancy in the spring of 1915. Present officials: President, Eugene Wilson: vice president, Martin Rowe; cashier, W. W. Walker . Capital, $25,000; surplus, $10,000; deposits, $62,000.


          The Macksburg circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the fall of 1874 and consisted of the following places: West Branch, Pleasant View, Hebron, Pleasant Valley and Skunk Hollow. The congregations of the last four held services in schoolhouses. The Macksburg society first met for worship in the Kivitt schoolhouse and continued so to do until the church was built in 1874. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Rev. Thomas Berry and the regular pastor was Rev. A. Thornbrugh. Up to this time Macksburg was a part of the Winterset circuit. Rev. Thomas Berry became president of Simpson College and, in 1876, secured enough subscriptions to meet the quite heavy indebtedness of the society. At this time Rev. Isaac M. O'Flyng was the pastor. Ministers following the last named were: D. O. Stuart, September, 1878, to September, 1879; F. D. Funk, 1879-80; George M. Jeffrey, 1880-81; B, A. Fassett, 1881-82; J. H. Sensency, 1882-83; J. D. M. Buckner, 1883-84 ; J. H. Warfield, 1884-85: John Webb, 1885-86: A. O. Miller, 1880-87; E. E.  Raymon, 1887-88; William Johnston, 1888-89; J. S. Mason, 1889-90; W. E. Harvey, 1890-92; Isaac M. O’Flyng, 1892-94; F. S. Bunting, 1894-96; M. H. Ellis, 1896-97; D. Martin, 1897; F. B. Dunn, 1899-1901; C. Knowl, 1901-02; J. G. Duling, 1902-04; Charles E. Trueblood, 1904-00; W. C. Smith, 1900-07; J. N. Hosier, 1907-08; Ivan R. Mills, 1908-10; Roy N. Spooner, 1910-12; L. B. Shannon, 1912-14; Fred E. Whitney, 1914.

           This church has a membership in the circuit of 200 and at Macksburg 76, with an average Sunday school attendance of 80. In the fall of 1914, the church building met with improvements that cost about $3,000. On the lot adjoining the church is a neat and comfortable parsonage.

           West Branch society was organized in September, 1855, by Rev. W. C. Williams, who delivered the first sermon at the home of Reverend Rawlins, a local preacher. The succeeding meeting of the society was held at the home of James Pearson, and the members continued to meet here the following four years, at the expiration of which the Pearson schoolhouse was requisitioned for the purpose and used until the church was built at Macksburg. This appointment was originally a part of the Afton (Union County) and Ringgold Mission and then became identified with the Afton circuit and remained therein until the formation of the Macksburg circuit in 1874.

           Pleasant View society came into being in 1856, under the direction of Rev. Joel Mason. The initial leader was Samuel W. Milligan and services were held at the home of Jerub Richmond until the year 1865. From here the society moved to the F. M. Walker schoolhouse, which later was purchased, remodeled and dedicated to all things sacred. The appointment originally was a part of Brooklyn, or Ohio, circuit and remained as such until 1807, when it became part of the Winterset circuit and then, in 1878, was transferred to the Macksburg circuit.

          When organized, Hebron was one of the appointments in the Macksburg circuit and so remained until 1883, when the church was removed 2 1/2 miles south, to Union schoolhouse No. 2.  Rev, J. D. M. Buckner was in charge.  Hebron was annexed to Orient circuit in 1889.

           Skunk Hollow appointment at the time of its organization was a part of the Macksburg circuit and later was consolidated with Pleasant Valley, in order the better to build Zion Church .  The union of the two charges, however, was never satisfactory.

            Pleasant Valley society was organized by Rev. W. C. Williams, who preached his first sermon to this charge in the Peters' schoolhouse, where services were held the succeeding six years and then the Pragg schoolhouse was used and the society came to be known as the Pleasant Valley class. In 1881 it was consolidated with the Skunk Hollow class and Zion Church was built by them in 1881-82.

           Bethesda Baptist Church was organized May 5, 1855 at the home of Alexander Barnum, who, together with his wife, was of the organizing members.  The others were Hiram Pierce, the first pastor, and wife; Dr. Joseph Hughes Mack and wife, William Kivett and wife, Ransom Moon, John H. Bray and wife, Capt. Elihu G. Barker and wife, Robert and Catherine Wilson, John A. and Sarah N. Marley, Nancy A. Barker, Mary Moore, and Elizabeth Rawlins. The first church was a small frame affair that was built the year of the organization, and stood on the hill one-half mile southwest of town. The present building, also a frame, was erected in 1874 and cost about two thousand dollars.  Its predecessor was removed to a lot subsequently purchased by I. C. McKibben.  

           Rev. Hiram Pierce occupied this pulpit a number of years, but how many could not be learned and the early church records were burned in 1911. During the past four or five years the church has not been supplied with a regular pastor and the church membership, at one time quite large, has been decreasing steadily, through deaths, removals and other causes. It is now anticipated that soon a resident pastor will be secured. The present number of names on the church rolls is 32.


Grand River Lodge, No. 406, I. O. O. F., was organized October 2, 1880.  Macksburg Encampment, No. 186, was organized October 21, 1902, and Hawthorne Chapter, No. 350, Daughters of Rebekah, was organized October 23, 1896.

           At one time the Grand Army Post was able to muster at its meetings quite a large body of veterans. But what with the ravages of time and disease, the ranks of the post have so thinned out that the organization now can scarcely muster a corporal's guard. There is still a Woman's Relief Corps that meets occasionally.  Evergreen Camp, No. 4133, M. W. A., was organized August 12, 1896.


          Macksburg has a railroad. That fact is certainly worthy of mention before the closing of this chapter. Whether it always will have one or not is as Rudyard Kipling says, another story. Be that as it may, the Creston, Winterset & Des Moines Railroad, having a line of track twenty-one miles long- and reaching from Creston to Macksburg, was built in 1912 and on the 31st of December of that year the first train of cars entered the town. The line has been in operation under many vicissitudes practically all its life, and it is said that unless the property is placed under different management, Macksburg will be bereft of an improvement in which she took a great deal of pride.


Information taken from the book, “The History of Madison County, Iowa, 1915”

Transcribed by Judy Wight Branson

Edited by Kent Transier


The Founding of Macksburg (Madisonian Version)

Winterset Madisonian

Thursday, September 25, 1873

Page 4

     Macksburg – Madison county has a new town – Macksburg. It is situated in Grand River township, about the center of the township. The country surrounding it is as lovely as ever lay to the sun. Even the famous Quaker divide cannot surpass it in beauty. Two business-houses already front the public square, and others and dwellings will soon be erected. Two dry goods stores and two physicians occupy the ground. The town is situated about half way between Winterset and Afton and should command the trade of quite a large section of the country. There will be a public sale of lots on the ground on Saturday, September 27th, and lots will be given to parties who will occupy them. Dr. Mack is proprietor of the town and he will push it forward with is untiring energy. Success to our young sister.

Transcriber's Note: The date of this Madisonian article would lead one to conclude that the date of the town's layout was earlier than the "1874" put forth in the article by Mueller.


Transcribed and edited by Kent G. Transier



Maintained by the County Coordinator

This page was last updated Thursday, 13-Apr-2017 16:53:21 EDT .