Madison County



This township is the southwestern one of the county. It is bounded on the west by Adair county, on the south by Union county, on the east by Walnut township and on the north by Webster township. There is a great deal of choice prairie land in this township, but the surface is generally rolling and sometimes rough. The principal stream is Grand river, which is skirted by a heavy growth of timber. The ravines are narrow and deep, so as to be hidden from the sight of one traveling along the high divides. Such an observer might be led to conclude that there was little or no timber in the township, judging solely from what he might be able to see.

The first settlement was made in the fall of 1852 by James Nelson. He was soon followed by S. B. Barker, A. J. Hasty, Ransom Moon, J. C. Barker and J. F. Barker. J. F. Barker bought Nelson's claim and the others of the party entered land in the same vicinity.

The first house built was by Nelson, and it stood about one hundred and fifty yards north of where John H. Marley's house now stands. In February, 1853, Ransom Moon built a cabin on the stream now known as Moon branch. In April, Alvin Greer built a cabin on the branch west of Lewis Jessup's. He soon found that the land on which he had located was bought the fall before by Hasty. He then moved his house up and across the branch and broke a number of acres. He remained there about a year when he found that A. J. Stevens and Co., of Des Moines, had bought this along with all the University land in the township. He again moved, and this time went up the river into the edge of Adair county. Hasty was defrauded of his land in somewhat the same way.

In May J. C. Barker, assisted by John H. Marley and S. B. Barker, built a house near Lewis Jessup's place.

While the first breaking was done, S. B. Barker and family, A. J. Hasty and family, J. C. Barker and family, and Lewis Bragg and family, all lived in the same house.

Among the settlers in 1855 were James Pearson, Alfred Marley, Joshua Cox, O. W. Barker, Martha Wright, James McBee, Hiram Pearce and E. A. Pindle. Among those who came in 1855 were the Prestons, Dotys, Armstrong, Efferson, Lee Rawlings, Thomas, Bowles and Craven.
After this the county settled up rapidly, and now the township is nearly all under cultivation, and owned by resident settlers.

The first school was taught by Martha Wright in 1855, in a little log house near where D. C. Craven lives. The only windows were openings between the logs. The next school was taught by Huldah Lee in the summer of 1856, in a little house near the north end of John H. Marley's orchard. The next school was taught by Joshua Cox in the summer of 1858, a little south of Macksburg. The first frame school house was built in 1858, and E. G. Barker was the first to teach in it.

The early settlers used to go fifteen to twenty miles to attend church in Winterset. The first religious meetings in the township were held at private houses, by the Rev. S. B. Barker, who was truly a gospel pioneer. After him came Rev. Hiram Pearce, a Baptist; and Rev. James Rawlings of the M. E. church, and Samuel Osborne of the same church. The Baptist church was organized in May, 1855. They held meetings in private houses at first, and afterward in the school houses. They now have two church buildings. The Methodist church was organized in 1857. They have two places of worship.

The present officers are: Justices - Wm. McKivett, A. Rusk, W. O. Lee; Trustees - J. D. Harrison, D. G. Rowe, W. Cochran; Constables - H. M. Pinkney, C. S. Porter, E. Porter; Assessor - J. W. Rudy; Clerk - R. S. Bonham.


Shown below is Grand River Township as it existed in 1875.  The Grand River enters the township in Section 7 and flows south- southeast, exiting into Union County in Section 34.  For reasons unknown, the map maker placed two cemetery symbols at the same place for the Kivett and Moon cemeteries and there were no symbols for the Hickman and West Branch cemeteries.  By analysis of the cemetery records, it appears that all four cemeteries were in use by 1875.  There were approximately 110 families living in Grand River Township in 1875.

Grand River Township - 1875

Maintained by the County Coordinator

This page was created on July 23, 2004.
This page was last updated Thursday, 13-Apr-2017 17:03:47 EDT .