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Shelby County


1889 History Index

Biographical History of Shelby and Audubon Counties
History of Shelby County, Iowa




About 1880 the Hawkeye Telephone Company built a line of telephone to Harlan from Avoca. It soon became known as the Iowa Telegraph and Telephone Company, and from that incorporated into what is now known as the Iowa Union Telephone Company. In Shelby County it operates an "exchange" at Harlan, Kirkman, Irwin, Defiance and Earling, besides many private lines, some going to farm houses, allowing daily market reports from eastern markets.

The first banking business transacted at Harlan by a home concern was in 1873, when C. J. & D. M. Wyland, who were engaged in real-estate business, began banking on a small scale in a little lean-to building, where they remained a short time and found a good paying banking business growing on their hands. They were obliged to remove to a frame building, 14 x 166 feet, which then stood on the west side of the public square; but this soon became too small a room, and in 1880 they erected a fine, substantial brick banking room, in which is now operated the Bank of Harlan and a general land and real estate office.

The Shelby County Bank was incorporated under the laws of Iowa, in December, 1880, with a cash capital of $50,000. W. E. Hazen was the first cashier. It is what is known as a State bank, and has been successful from the commencement. Its present officers are: W. W. Wheeler, President; B. Kees, Vice-President; M. K. Campbell, Cashier. Its place of business is within its own brick building, situated east from the public square.


W. H. Axline,drugs.
L. Frost,drugs.
J. S. Gross,drugs.
J. F. Huntzinger,drugs.
Mills & Pexton,drugs and books.
Daniel Chase,groceries.
Cyrus A. Mentzer,groceries.
W. Pitman,groceries.
D. W. Crouse,groceries.
W. W. Wheeler,hardware.
Canfield & Taylor,hardware.
Nathaniel Booth,farm implements.
James McConnell,farm implements.
E. B. Wicks,boots and shoes.
J. H. & J. W. Ramsey,boots and shoes.
French & True,general store.
Joseph Beh,general store.
Blotckey Bros., general store.
B. Griffith,general store.
George S. Gibbs,general store.
George Holdefer,general store.
Eidamiller,general store.
William H. Carl,furniture.
O. F. Graves,furniture.
Tinsley Bros.,jewelry store.
J. F. Brock,jewelry store.
Henry Bocken,tailor.
K. P. Jorgenson,tailor.
H. H. Luccke,clothing.
J. H. & J. W. Ramsey,clothing.
C. Will Fisher,photographs.
R. P. Dammand,photographs.
R. Boyd,marble works.
J. E. Miller,harness shop.
Joseph Crique,harness shop.
A. W. Bergstresser,harness shop.
W. C. Campbell,editor Tribune (Dem.)
Oungst & Rhinesmith,proprietors Republican (Rep.)
Cox & Hanson,proprietors Industrial American (Labor.)
B. F. Eshelman,dentist.
City Hotel,A. H. Vaughn, proprietor.
P. B. Hunt,lumber.
M. J. Murry,grain elevator.
J. F. Platt,grain elevator.
Lockwood Bros.,grain elevator.
L. L. Jarvis,livery barn.
Frank Crouch,livery barn.
Sheller & Phelps,real estate office.
Shelby County Bank,M. K. Campbell, Cashier.
Harlan Bank,C. J. & D. M. Wyland, proprietors.
Opera House,C. J. & D. M. Wyland, proprietors.
Miss M. Dunnington, millinery goods.
Mrs. A. L. Potter,millinery goods.
J. L. Stanley,meat market.
S. J. Ramsey,meat market.
J. W. Chatburn,proprietor roller mills.
Cass & McArthur,wagon-makers.
E. A. Cobb,physician.
E. B. Moore,physician.
J. H. Waite,physician.
E. J. Smith,physician.
E. L. Cook,physican.
R. S. Kirkpatrick,physician.
Smith & Cullison,attorneys.
J. I. M.,attorney.
Platt Wicks,attorney.
Robert P. Foss,attorney.
Cyrus Beard,attorney.
Gammon & Byers,attorneys.


A postoffice was established at Harlan in 1858, the first postmaster being William Henderson, who kept the office at his residence, on the left bank of the Nishnabotna River. Among the postmasters who followed him were: William A. Gray, D. H. Randall, H. C. Holcomb, N. W. Babcock, S. P. Kinsey, Sr., B. I. Kinsey. The last named served until April 1, 1888, and was succeeded by Jonathan B. Stutsman. S. P. Kinsey and his son held the office for fourteen years. The office became a money-order office in July, 1874, the first order being issued to J. E. Rockwood, for $1.05, payable to E. S. Tupper, of Des Moines. The full number of money orders issued up to November 27, 1888 was 24,436, or an average of about five per business day for the whole time.


From the earliest date the people of Harlan have sought for the best educational advantages, never begrudging the money thus expended. The first term of school taught on the present site of Harlan was held by L. W. Woodruff in a log house which stood where now stands the City Hotel. It was in the summer of 1859. The next to teach were Mrs. William Gray and Miss Sue Dunnington, who taught in the brick house erected by Isaac Plum, in the summer and fall of 1859. This building was 20 x 24 feet, and stood where the Methodist church now stands, and served as school-house, public hall for church and political gatherings, as well as county fairs. Could this building have recorded its own history ere it fell back to dust, it would have unfolded a story of pioneer days full of thrilling events and happy incidents. As the population increased this became too small, hence in 1871 it was torn down and a two-story frame house erected on the original six school lots purchased at an early day. It cost $2,500, and was 25 x 50 feet on the ground. A few years later an addition was made to it of two more school-rooms, which served the district until 1881, when the beautiful high school building was completed. The old frame house was converted into a residence for John Derks, and was destroyed by fire a few years later. The new building was erected by S. Bryan, at a cost of $18,000. It is a three-story building, divided into nine departments, and is of most modern design throughout, and is steam heated. One janitor, J. B. Swain, has thus far been employed at $40 per month, and through his excellent management the building, engine and heating appliances have been kept in good repair.

Ten teachers are employed at this time, the principal receiving $1,200 per year, while eight assistants receive $45 per month, and one $55 per month. The present (1888) enrollment of scholars is 625, the majority of which reside in Harlan.

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Transcribed by Cheryl Siebrass, August, 2015 from "Biographical History of Shelby and Audubon Counties", Chicago: W. S. Dunbar & Co., 1889, pg. 263-265.

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