May 15, 1891
PIONEER DAYS IN PLYMOUTH COUNTY
An Historic Account Of The Early Settlement, Organization, and
Subsequent Development of the County by Townships
Interesting Reminiscences, Adventures, Amusing Incidents and the
Hardships Connected with the County's History from 1856 to 1891,
Including the "Homestead" and "Grasshopper" Days.
By W. L. Clark
Location-Description-Organization-Pioneer Settlement-Village of
Westfield-Schools and Churches
This is the second township from the north line of the county, and is
one the western border. As constituted at present it comprises all of
congressional township ninety-two, range forty-eight west, except the
northern tier of sections, which is included in Portland. It also
contains a part of range forty-nine, which takes in all that portion
east of the Big Sioux river. Westfield was one of the two original
civil townships of Plymouth county. When the county was organized (or
soon after) it was divided into Plymouth and Westfield civil townships.
Later on, Westfield was included in Johnson township, but May 3, 1878,
took its present bounds.
The general typography of the township is rolling and indeed rough. Its
streams are the Westfield creek, running from the northeast to the
southwest, emptying into the Big Sioux river. Broken Kettle Creek,
which flows through the southwestern part, is also quite a stream. The
populations in 1885 was 211, 180 of which were American born. At
present there are not far from 560 population. The only village in this
township is Westfield, on section 27, a mere hamlet consisting of two
stores, a blacksmith shop, the post office and church.
Hunters and trappers had from time to time gone over this section of the
county, but not until 1857 was any attempt made at settlement. During
the year 1857, the following took up land under the preemption act:
I.T. Martin, Thomas McGill, John Hipkins, Joseph Geson, and Mr. Vidito.
The hard times of 1857, together with the oncoming of the Civil War,
caused the township to become depopulated, and for a time almost
The Western Land company platted what is now referred to as Old
Westfield village, in 1858, it being then believed that the Dubuque &
Sioux City railway line would cross the Big Sioux at this point and run
on to Yankton, Dak.
No further attempt was made to settle the township until 1871; from that
year, on to 1878, a number came in to make homes for themselves. Among
the number may be here mentioned George Cilley, in the north part.
Rufus Clark settled in the northern part in 1879-80. He finally removed
to Colorado. William Foster came in 1873 and bought land near the plat
of Westfield, of his brother. He sold in the fall of 1888 and removed.
VILLAGE OF WESTFIELD
Westfield was platted in August, 1877, on sections twenty-six and
twenty-seven. At an early day an attempt had been made to get the
county seat located there instead of Melbourne, in Plymouth township-the
center of the county. This idea was abandoned, however, in 1880.
The first goods were sold at this point in 1877 when Thomas Trendle
opened a general store and was appointed the first postmaster in the
newly established post office of Westfield. In the spring of 1886 a
general store was opened by Luke Wheeler and wife. The wife of Mr.
Wheeler was appointed postmistress to succeed Trendle, and still keeps
the office. In the spring of 1888 William Chapman put in a general
stock of goods and is still in trade. The first and present blacksmith
is a man named Plutz. The first school in the township was held at
Westfield in 1878.
Considering the light settlement of this township, it supports schools
quite well. There are four sub-districts, each having a good school
building. No township in the entire county has so great a number of
shade trees as Westfield, which township, official reports show, has
While there are no flourishing religious societies within her borders,
there are a good many Christian men and women. Services are held by the
Methodist, Congregational, and Advent denominations, at the various
school buildings, chiefly at the one located at the village of