place for settlers as they came to look over the
land for their future homes.
STORMS.-One of the most feared incidents was a
blizzard. It gives one a very faint idea today of them to see one of our
blizzards of late years. A Mr. Jack Gentry who lived in the edge of Lyon County,
was coming home with a load of wood and was caught in one. He became bewildered,
passed the place where he should have turned, and so unhitched his horses and
tried to lead them back, but the horses crowded him so that they tramped on him
and he let them go. He was too benumbed to tie up their halter-straps, and so
they tangled themselves up in a snowdrift. Mr. Gentry, after a night in the
storm, got to Mr. B. Murry's in the morning, badly frozen after his night's
combat with the storm.
PRIVATIONS.-Occasionally some settler would have some
awful experience. Once one who was a painter by trade and who lived in North
Sheridan was reduced to such straits as absolutely to have nothing for himself,
his wife or their three children. About his only article of value was a log
chain, which he traded for seven bushels of corn to Mr. P. Murry. This corn was
boiled and eaten, and when spring came it found them in fine health on such a
At another time a family who lived on Section 4 had
nothing to eat but frozen potatoes, and it was in the midst of a cold hard
winter. They were relieved by a neighbor who, from his scanty store, spared them
some corn. Provisions were bought and hauled from Le Mars, thirty-five miles
away; in fact, it was our trading point, and all necessities were brought from
there if the settler had any money, and if he hadn't he went without. Orange
City had only two houses, and only one was occupied.
FIRST EVENTS.-Probably the first child born in Sheridan
Township was Thomas Murry, in 1870. The first school house in north Sheridan was
built on land now owned by Mr. Kuyper on Section 22; it was afterward moved to
the Edes land, and then moved down on the northwest quarter of Section 12, where
the present school No. 1 is located.
THE STORM OF 1880-1881.-Mr. Conrad Moeller, who
homesteaded in Sheridan as a soldier of the Fifth Iowa Cavalry in 1880, recalls
the winter of 1880 and 1881, and the terrible storm of that winter. The
railroads were so blocked that they could make no trips for weeks. The Milwaukee
having been built in 1876, wagon roads and trails were out of the question,
people could not get to town for weeks, either for provisions or for mail. They
cooked whole wheat for food; it would boil up into a kind of mush which could be
eaten. Corn was also ground in a coffee mill. It was as much as six weeks before
trains could be run on the Milwaukee railroad. Sheldon was cut off for weeks
from coal and outside commerce. Newspapers were printed on regular wrapping
paper. Mrs. Catherine Savelsberg of Boyden, still preserves one of these as a
souvenir of this storm. To his recollection no loss of life was experienced in
Sioux County, but in Lyon several perished by freezing.
Boyden was the terminus of the Milwaukee railroad for
one winter, and was named for a railroad officer. At the time of the building of
the road it was a great blessing to the settlers as they had been eaten out with
the grasshoppers and a great many went to work on the construction of the road,
thus earning means to carry them through.
Some of the pioneers were as follows: In 1870-Patrick
Murry, Nelson Shaffer, Augustus Edes, John Lempky. In 1871Timothy Shaffer, John
and Beman Murry, Conrad Moeller, Wm. Brown, Carl Lempky, Peter Klap, Herman
Meynes, Henry Winter, Oelrich Heitritter, John Miller, Stephen Baird, John
Holms, Sr., John Holms, Jr., August Winter, James Peterson, Peter Jensen, W. S.
Tuttle, Ed. Lanning, P. J. Webb, Jas. Story, --- Cottel, Harry Cottel, Chas.
Cottel, Peter Beckley, John Beckley, A. P. Jensen, Jas. Vickers.
REMINISCENCE OF LINCOLN
BY W. J. NEWELL.
James H. Walters, a New Yorker of Wayne
County by birth, and a Volunteer of Co. 1, 31st Wisconsin Regiment during the
Civil War, pre-empted the northeast quarter of Section 2, 97-45, in October,
1870, and the following year released it to the government and homesteaded the
southeast quarter of the same section, where in the spring of 1871, he built a
small frame house and occupied it with his family.
The prairies were all burned over in the autumn of
1871, everything was bleak, bare and cheerless. The winter of 1871 and 1872 was
a severe one. Snow came deep and early, so deep that wagons could not be used to
advantage. There were no "ready made" sleighs, so each settler made
his own after his own idea and according to the material obtainable. As a result
the products were worthy of a place in a museum.
During the forepart of the winter a neighbor, B, called
at Walter's home when the cold became a topic of talk; B, who believed in signs
and omens, asserted that the forepart of the winter was the coldest part of it,
because he had killed a hog and a hog's melt was a sure indication of what the
winter was to be. The melt was broad at the beginning and tapered off to a
point, so that the winter would taper off and grow warmer and better. However,
the weather grew worse. Again B appeared at Walters' home during a bad spell.
Walters asked him if that was one of "his taper offs" and if so what
would it be if it was "tapering on." "O!" cried B, "I
must have got hold of the wrong end of the melt."
As there were no school houses at this time it was
proposed to have a school, there being children enough in the neighborhood.
There being no more convenient place, the home of Walters was used as a school
house, there being but one room down stairs, that room was used as kitchen,
parlor, dining room, recitation room, etc., Mrs. Walters doing her housework
between sessions of school. For the use of this room and the fuel the district
allowed the sum of three dollars per month, and the teacher drew $100.00 for a
term of three months. One afternoon when the school was in session a genuine
blizzard from the northwest changed the outlook in loss than one minute; the
wind was high. snow was falling, the air was filled with snow and the cold was
penetrating. The school continued, it had to, no one could have lived to travel
home. Happily Mrs. Walters' larder was well supplied, and her bedding was in
good supply. At night the children were put up stairs in improvised beds on the
floor. The next morning that dormitory was proof of what the night had been, the
wind had driven the snow under and between the. shingles and through the roof in
such a manner that it hung in festoons, ropes, strings and bunches from the
rafters, while the beds and everything below the roof was covered with snow four
inches deep. Nature had been kind and spread a blanket of purity over the
sleepers and undoubtedly aided in keeping them warm, for they all slept well and
got out steaming in the morning. This storm continued three days; drifts did not
form much because there were but few obstructions to cause drifts, but in many
eases where they did occur a slight change of wind would carry them away.
Webster Merrill, L. Merrill, Josiah Pierce and brother located on Sections 6 and
8 about 1868 and were probably the pioneers in Lincoln Township, as diligent
inquiry fails to bring to light any who came earlier; but about the first of the
seventies from 1870 to 1872 came D. Burdick, L. P. Kenyon, J. H. Walters, C. C.
Sawyer, M. Kuhn, Arthur Lang, Nelson Rombough, Charlie Lillie, J. Weatherwax,
Ben Wise, Henry Schultz, Tillman Ozias, M. D. Ozias, W. S. Okey, Mrs. Elizabeth
Harwood, Newell Harwood, John Whalen, D. O. Gardiner, Philip Buckley, Lewis
Barth, Eric Sneve, lngbrit Anderson, Ole Law, Henry Lutjens and his brother,
Fred Albert Satrum, Chris Hooker, J. M. Stickney, M. Maguire, P. L. Solan, T.
Buckley, Fred Wiese, Julius anti Charlie Seager, Peter Anderson, D. F. Caine,
Fred Sorg, Pat Solon, Frank Doty, W. J. Newell, James Tobin, John Hurley, M.
Hogan, B. Sullivan, Big Jerry and little Jerry Sullivan; Were have been a few
others, but at this date this is all I can recall.
THE FIRST HOUSE.--Undoubtedly the first house on
Section 6 was built by Web Merrill. It was a log cabin of two rooms, each room
about 14x16. Most of the settlers built sod houses when they first came.
POST-OFFICE.--The first settlers got their mail at Le
Mars; it was a long trip and only a trail to go by, so when one settler had
occasion to go to Le Mars, he would bring the mail for the whole neighborhood.
Later on there was a Post-office at Sheldon, then Doon, and finally a Post-once
was established on section 12 and called Athol, and nearly all of the settlers
got their mail there. Then came Post-office May Delle, in the southwest part of
Lincoln and a Post-office in Rock Township called Royal Ridge; this one was near
the Lincoln Township line and these Postoffices supplied our wants pretty well.
Then came the town of Pattersonville on the Milwaukee Railroad. Pattersonville
was named for a Railroad official who was killed between Sanborn and Sheldon. It
was laid out on the homestead of Nelson Rombough. Pattersonville was changed to
W inland but this name only lasted a little while until it was renamed Hull, in
honor of Hon. J. A. T. Hull.
The first blacksmith shop in the township was located
on Section 2.
FIRST DEATH.-Probably the first death in the township
was Major Jones, an old soldier. He had come into this part of the country as a
surveyor and located a great many people in Lincoln Township. This work exposed
him a great deal, so he was taken sick with typhoid fever at the home of Mr.
Webster Merrill in the northwest part of the township. This gentleman was cared
for by the different settlers, each in turn taking his night to sit up and care
for him. ' Mr. Jones died and the settlers gathered together and made his coffin
out of rough pine boards. The hearse consisted of a lumber wagon, the mourners
were the whole community. As there was no minister, the Masonic burial service
was read at the grave by Lafayette F. Knight. The spot selected for the burial
was on section 16 (the place now known as Doon.) The body was afterward removed
to Hope cemetery at Hull.
The township had a good many soldiers who homesteaded
land. The spirit of these men did not pass away with them, but when the country
called for troops in the Spanish American War of 1898, the little town of Hull
sent to the front a company of troops which was the largest for the size of the
town, of any company in Iowa. The company was composed of some of the best boys
that the community afforded. While the war only lasted a little while, yet it
called for sacrifices, and Lincoln Township and the town of Hull will ever
remember these sacrifices; the death of Benjamin Follrich was a direct result of
this young man's patriotism. The company was commanded by Capt. M. D. Odle; 1st
Lieutenant, Wm. Wilkinson, and 2nd Lieutenant, Bert Swafford.
GRASSHOPPER RAID.-The grasshoppers touched this section
on their way north in the fall of 1872, but the first devastation of crops
occurred in 1873 when nearly the entire crop was destroyed, and this was
repeated for five successive years. In regard to numbers,, you glean some idea
when we remark that a lady, noticing a cottonwood leaf about the size of a man's
hand pretty well covered with them, she walked up to the tree and counted the
grasshoppers that jumped from the leaf which tallied 41. They would choose the
hardest packed ground to deposit their eggs, the deposits consisted of a sort of
casing about an inch long and nearly as large as a lead pencil and was filled
with small, nearly round eggs. Many a time have the farmers taken a sod of
ground indoors in the winter and watched the coming-out process. When they first
break out of the egg they are a bright red but soon turn white.
FIRST CROPS.-The settlers first concern was to get some
ground broken and some corn planted; this was done after breaking by taking an
ax and splitting the sod open and dropping in a few kernels of corn, then we
struck a blow with the pole of the ax beside the hole to close it up, or,
stepping beside the hole and pressing it shut; this was our corn planter.
Potatoes we would plant where the gophers had thrown out the dirt; sometimes
when breaking sod we dropped them in the furrow and covered them with the next
sod. They needed no further care, the sod was too tough to work and the potatoes
did well. About the second year after the sod was broken, everything would grow,
as it had been rotted. Peas, beans, pumpkins and corn were a good sod crop, that
is, they would do well in the sod the first year.
Some of the incidents of the time when the township was
almost a pathless prairie and when the people had to be out after night are
amusing. Mrs. C. C. Sawyer had occasion to go from their residence to that of
Whalens in the evening, a distance of about a mile and a quarter; the road led
along the old trail in a northwesterly direction, Wen a path led from the trail
up to Mr. Whalens; she followed the trail and in the dark failed to and the
path, she traveled along the trail, not knowing what else to do or where to turn
as she was completely bewildered; after a long tramp she finally saw a light
very faint and far away, so she traveled toward it in a straight line. She held
to her course as nearly as she could, losing the light when she would go down in
a depression and seeing it again when she came upon the level of the prairie,
sometimes getting too far to one side or the other and losing it altogether, but
finally came to the door of what she supposed was a neighbor's house and
knocking was received by Mr. Merrill on Section 6. She had traveled nearly
twenty miles in her bewildered condition and supposed sue was only a few miles
INDIAN SCARE.-The fall of 1874 was an exceptionally
thrilling one for the old settlers of Sioux County for besides the usual
devastation of crops by grasshoppers, we had one of the greatest scares of our
lives, as out of the northwest there loomed up a mighty Indian war cloud of
sufficient magnitude to make it appear that the Indians were sweeping down upon
us like the blizzard of January 7, 1873 and January 12, 1888, or a Kansas
cyclone kicked in end, ready to strike us "head on"; that they had
annihilated all the people of Sioux Falls, Canton, Beloit and the waters of the
Big Sioux River were crimson with the blood of their victims. This rumor was
apparently so well founded that hundreds of the settlers left their claims and
took their families and went to Sheldon. The night of the scare was very calm
and quiet and one could hear wagons going all night and all to the east to
Sheldon. A few, however, remained and in a few days the rest came back when they
had heard of the falsity of the rumor, but it aptly illustrates the alarms and
trials of the settlers.
HULL.-Hull is the metropolis of Lincoln and surrounding
townships. It is a modern and up-to-date growing village with a fine system of
water-works, schools, churches, banks and all kind of stores, elevator, mill,
hotel, etc. It has churches of several denominations, fine streets and well kept
lawns and its business men have been able to hold the trade of the surrounding
country. Hull affords a market for all products of the surrounding country which
is in the most fertile district in Iowa, and the enterprise of Hull's business
men seconded by that of the community tributary to the town has made it a pride
to its citizens and friends.
THE FIRST REFORMED CHURCH.
D. J. WERKMAN
The First Reformed
Church of Pattersonville (now Hull), Iowa, was organized September 29, 1885,
under the leadership of Rev. Jas. De Pree of Sioux Center, Iowa, and Rev. A.
Buursma of Orange City, Iowa. Seventeen members constituted the first
enrollment. The consistory was composed of J. D. Werkman now of Zeeland, Mich.,
J. H. Smidt now of Orange City, as elders. B. Niemeyer, Sr. as deacon, who is
now elder emeritus of this church.
The Rev. A. Zwemer (now of Holland, Mich.), was the
first pastor; he served jointly the church at Hull and at Middleburg (Free Grace
Church), until April 11, 1888. At the April classis it was decided to combine
Hull and Boyden under 'one pastor. These two churches called Rev. B. W. Lammers
who took charge of the two fields August 23, 1888 to April 1891, and pastor of
church at Hull only from April 1891 to October 1892. Through the generosity of
the Congregational Church at Hull, the members of the First Reformed Church were
allowed the use of the Con-...