Madison County

PENN TOWNSHIP

History

This township is bounded on the north by Dallas county, on the south by Jackson township, on the east by Madison township and on the west by Adair county, and is the northwest corner township of the county, and is located on range twenty-nine.

It may be questioned whether there is in all Iowa a finer township of land than this for the general purposes of agriculture. The soil is the richest of the dark loam abounding throughout the drift regions, and in this township is entirely free from stone. The fertility of the soil even approaches to rank luxuriance, and it will take ages to exhaust its primeval vigor. The location of the township is high and there is scarcely an acre of waste land in its limits. Scarcely any natural timber is to be found and the prairies sweep away in rolling undulations. This township embraces the most beautiful portion of the famed district known as the "Quaker Divide."

This township was one of the last in the county to be settled. The early settlers held the mistaken idea that the most valuable land was that covered with timber in the river bottoms or the prairie immediately adjoining it; consequently the timbered portions were the first settled and the splendid prairie lands were unoccupied for several years. This township was first settled in 1856 by C. P. Wright and James Jeffries. They dwelt here in entire loneliness until the following summer, when J. E. Darby, Thomas Wilson and David Stanton came among them and selected splendid prairie farms and united their fortunes with those of Penn township. Settlers continued to come in steadily but slowly during the early years. During the war times there was comparatively little improvement made, but in the following years the growth of the township was rapid. During the years 1867 and 1868 the population increased from 225 to 454.

As might be conjectured from the name of the township and the popular description of this territory as the "Quaker Divide," the township numbers a large number of citizens who belong to the religious body known as the Society of Friends. They are in the true scriptural sense "a peculiar people." Frugal and industrious they are surrounded by thrift and plenty; honest, kind-hearted and religious, they command the esteem of all. Rarely is the peace of Penn township disturbed by strife or evil discord.

Although generally destitute of natural forest trees there was quite an old land-mark here in the earliest days in the form of a beautiful grove. It was in this grove that David Stanton located his house. It is some six or seven acres in extent and is located on very high ground, consequently it can be seen for a wide distance and the California emigrants used to pilot their course by it. In this way it gained the name of Pilot Grove, a title it has retained until the present time.

The township is well watered by the North Branch and its tributary, the South Fork. Although the soil is free from rocks, some stone has been found in places in the township of such good quality that it has been used with success in building.

The present officers of the township are: Justices - James Simonds, Wm. Fleming; Trustees - Hiram Ford, Isaac Piper, Alex. Bell; Constables - Frederick Eish, E. R. Chandler; Assessor - Daniel Francis; Clerk - W. A. Ross.

Map

Shown below is Penn Township as it appeared in 1875.  There were about 145 families exclusive of Earlham town living there at the time the map was made although only 6 are shown and despite the fact that the township was the last of the county to be settled. The North Branch is the primary watershed in the north third of the township, Jim Creek in the center third, and Tom Creek which joins the North Branch in Madison Township is the watershed in the south third.  There were two active cemeteries as shown in 1875.

Penn Township - 1875

Maintained by the County Coordinator

This page was created on July 23, 2004.
This page was last updated Thursday, 13-Apr-2017 17:03:51 EDT .
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