The Illustrated Historical Atlas of Sioux County Iowa

Part III Section 2 Page 19

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began his studies at Hope College, Michigan, in 1875 and graduated in 1882. After teaching school for two years, he began his Theological studies at Hope seminary, in 1884, and graduated in 1887. He entered upon his field of labor at Waupun, Wisconsin, where he remained four years.
     He took charge of his new field at Marion, New York, September, 1891, where he labored for five and one half years. In December of 1896, he began his labors in his new charge at Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he remained for two and one half years.-
   The present pastorate at Maurice was begun June 1, 1899, and since then the church work has been carried on without any interruption, and with kindly feeling between pastor and people.



     Fifty years ago, what now comprises Center Township was an uninhabited country, except by scattering pioneers who lived in huts or prairie schooners. The early history of this township is very much like the whole western country. There being no wooded streams, the wigwam of the Indian was seldom, if ever, pitched upon its soil.
     FIRST HOMESTEAD.--According to the old records, the first homestead entry was made May 23, 1857, on southwest Quarter of Section 4, and May 30, 1857, on Northeast Quarter of Section 29. Many entries were made in 1857 and 1858, so that probably the greater part was homesteaded about that time.
     The real settlement of Center was not commenced until 1880 to 1882, but there were some evidences left of the old pioneers, such as places where dugouts or shanties had been, and traces of cultivation of the land. But this all had passed away and the title to the land had passed to speculators. To the knowledge of the writer, there is not a single original homesteader or his descendant now living on the original entry.
     ORGANIZATION PERFECTED.-In June, 1.882, the Board of Supervisors was petitioned to set off from Reading and create a separate civil township known as Center.
     Twelve names appeared upon the petition of which W. J. Taylor and A. De Weerd are still living in Center Township.
     The petition was granted and an election called and held November 7, 1882. The Judges were T. J. Knowlton, T. H. Teeslink and Day Warner. Clerks, W. J. Taylor and J. H. Brown.
     Center has not a railroad crossing it or touching it at any place. Center Chapel, a name given to a church built by members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was at one time well and regularly attended, but at the present time there are no church services, the church having been sold and is to be moved away. Although without churches or railroads, Center is a very rich and prosperous township.



     In looking back over the thirty-seven years that have come and gone since the first permanent settlement in what is now known as Washington Township, it seems more like a dream than something real. Then it was one vast trackless prairie without tree or shrub; but these conditions have all passed away and the township is now thickly settled with prosperous farmers possessing good homes and improvements.
     The land is gently rolling, the soil a dark loam. The township is watered by Indian Creek and its tributaries. The west half of the township was deeded land and owned by non-residents; this land remained vacant for a number of years after the government lands had been settled and improved, and was used by the homesteaders to graze their surplus stock on.
     Corn, oats, wheat, cattle, horses and hogs are the main products. Dairying has become an important industry, and where on the fenceless prairie was picketed the lone cow of the early settler, today these lands are inclosed and occupied by improved dairy herds, furnishing a sure income to their owners.
     Washington Township has no towns or cities. The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad passes through the north part of the township. The town of Ireton located on the same across the line in Reading Township furnishes a good market for all farm products, and Hawarden to the west is another good trading point.
     Le Mars, in Plymouth County was the nearest market town of the early settlers, and here they got their mail and supplies, making necessary a Journey of from eighteen to twenty five miles and return to post a letter, or receive mail. Here too, was the nearest point to a Doctor; they were seldom called and at such times, it was usually found necessary to revise the census returns. The first settlers hauled the most of their lumber for building purposes from Stows and Pattons saw mills near the Missouri River south of Elk Point, S. D. The lumber was cut from green cottonwood logs, and it was often necessary to wait while it was sawed. It made very poor building material as it would warp and shrink until it furnished a doubtful protection from the elements. Some covered their houses with tar paper and some inclosed them with sod, in either case there was no lack of ventilation. Fuel was mostly procured from the timber along the Sioux and Rock Rivers. When the supply along these streams was exhausted, some hauled their wood from the Missouri River, taking two days to make the trip. Some burned corn, it being a cheaper fuel than that shipped in by rail.
     The farm machinery of those early days was crude compared with that of the present. The harvesting machines were self rakes and droppers. The latter machine left its gavel directly behind the sickel bar, so that it was necessary to have sufficient men to bind the grain while the machine was making the circuit of the field. It usually took four or five men. When the marsh harvester was introduced two men did the binding, standing on a platform with a small table in front of them to lay the grain on while being bound. The wire binder was next introduced. This machine had a brief career as the twine binder was soon invented, which has done away with a large share of the hard work of the grain fields.
     The threshing machine bore little resemblance to the modern ones; they were small and run by horse power. If they threshed three or four hundred bushels of wheat or six to eight hundred bushels of oats in a day it was something to brag about. There were three men with the machine, the farmers furnished the balance of the crew, which consisted of four pitchers, two band cutters, one to measure the grain and sack it, and if the machine had no stacker, as was often the case, it took three or four to care for the straw, besides two hands were employed to take away the grain. Such crews were something frightful to cook for as every woman who passed through those strenuous times will certify to.
     GRASSHOPPER TIMES.-In 1874 large swarms of grasshoppers came from the west and for six years they destroyed more or less of the crops, discouraging many of the homesteaders, who sold out and moved to more promising fields.
     GOVERNMENT LAND.-In 1870 there were eight sections of government land in the township. These were Sections 2, 12, 14, 22, 24, 26, 34 and 36. The following are the names of those who settled and improved these lands: Section 2-G. H. Root, H. H. Lontz, Gordon West, Chas. Tarbox; Section 12-John Ingledo, John Toplington, Luther Colvin, A. Sargent, J. M. McDonald and A. J. Whitney; Section 14-John Whalen, S. Percy, John Chenoweth, Wm. Harvey, B. Young and Lucy Bell; Section 22-Chas. Whalen, Jas. Walrod, Wm. West, Harvey Hoard, Julius Morey; Section 24-Levi M. Black, Chas. French, Samuel Soulie, J. French and Albert Corey; Section 26-Philo Curtis, Marion Morey, Charles Collins, J. Peckham, Aaron Willey and Jas. Willey; Section 34-James Kersey, John Kersey, Daniel Kersey, John Hatch, Wm. Miller, Sarah and W. H. Gibson; Section 36-Levi Showalter, David Richardson, E. J. Earl, Nelson Taft and F. Worcester.
     SOME LATER SETTLERS.-Among those who came in at a later date, bought lands and improved them, were John Kirkpatrick, M. McNally, Jno. McNally, M. Fritz, H. Witt, F. Schimming, S. R. Bader, Wm. Morgan, T. W. Searle, L. Searle, A. Younie, B. Lawton, John Lawton, J. Patrick, M. A. Kaar, Frank and Fred Earl, James O'Meara, J. and E. French, Fred Nanninga, T. H. Pryor, A. Denninbrink, Levi Bushby and others whose names I do not recall.
     SOME OF THE PROMINENT SETTLERS.-Among those who were prominent in the early settlement of the township were:
     Mr. Levi M. Black came from Henry County, Indiana, with his wife and two children, Enoch and Harley. Mrs. Black was an invalid and they came west hoping the change would restore her health, but it failed to improve her condition. On March 13th she passed away, being the first death in the township. Mr. Black was elected County Auditor in 1873 and served one term. When the town of Ireton started he moved there and entered the mercantile business, was appointed the first postmaster of the town, served a number of terms and is the present incumbent of the office. His son, Enoch, is a prominent merchant of Ireton, and Harley is engaged in business at Sioux Falls, S. D.
     M. McNally and family came from Sabula, Jackson County, in 1873. They bought and improved the east half of Section 35. They have added to their holdings and are now quite extensive land owners. His family consists of six children, Alice, John, Frank, Nelly, Michael and Andy. They are all residents of the township. Mr. McNally was elected County Supervisor for six terms. He is an extensive cattle raiser and feeder.
     William Morgan bought, in 1882, the west half of Section 1. He engaged quite extensively in stock raising and feeding, was elected county treasurer for a number of terms. A few years ago he sold his farm and moved to Ireton. The Close Brothers, a firm of English capitalists who came and bought lands in 1880 did much to improve the country. They bought a number of sections of wild land, also a number of farms from the early settlers. On these lands they built comfortable buildings and planted groves which adorn and beautify the landscape. These farms were worked by tenant farmers, for a number of years. As the land increased in value they sold out. Most of these lands are occupied by their owners.
     FIRST SCHOOL.--The first school house built in the township was built on the northeast corner of Section 11, and known as the Tarbox school house. Miss Flora Shaw taught the first term. The scholars were Munro Ingledo, L. Ingledo, Alice and Lona Percy, Fanny Duboice, Nelly Sargent, Grant Root, Carrie Whitney, Orpha, Herman, Emma and Albert Hodam, and Charles, Emma and Ellis Burkett. At that time the accommodations were meagre, so much so that the teacher found it necessary to curtain off a corner of the school room for a sleeping apartment, taking her meals with the family of Mr. Colvins, across the road. In this school house the first election was held, but no record of this election remains. However, there was no great struggle for office as there were more than enough to go around.
     As we view the conveniences, comforts and luxuries of today and compare them with the hardships of pioneer days, we find this compensation, all were neighbors then, distance formed no dividing line, the latch string was always out and though the table was often spread with coarse and simple fare, all were welcome. Those who came to make themselves homes and subdue the stubborn prairie sod were young or middle aged, and such vigorous lives had appetites that made all rood, pie.
     One by one they have gone, some to other lands, but the majority with folded hands of dust sleep the silent sleep beneath the sod. Of all of those who received homes from the generosity of Uncle Sam, only Julius Morey and the writer of these reminiscences are residents of the township.



     The Civil Township of Eagle coincides with Congressional Township 95, Range 47, and is in the western part of Sioux County, bordered by Garfield, Center, Washington and Buncombe on the north, east, south and west respectively. It was formerly a part of Buncombe Township and was legally organized as a civil township during the Calliope-Hawarden fight of 1884-85. The first board of trustees met January 29, 1886, its members being Geo. Coates and J. C. Read. Their only action was to appoint Robert Blunt, D. N. McCullough and John McLaughlin road supervisors.
     The first settlers came from Ohio. Ben Sheets settled on section 31 shortly after the Civil War, and Tom and Seal Van Sickle settled in the northwest corner of the township in 1869. Peter Romaine had run bands of sheep over this country for some years before making his headquarters at Calliope.
     The Van Sickles abandoned their homesteads, or at least Sheets came into possession of them later, having sold his own to J. C. Read. Sheets lived on the Van Sickle land until about 15 years ago when he moved to Mount Vernon, Iowa, to enable his son, George, to fit himself for the ministry.
     The early history of this section of the country seems to center around the Sheets family. Sheets himself was a tall, stately Ohioan of mixed nationality and woefully lazy. He often told the following story on himself: When a boy he refused to labor. His father told him he could either work or starve. He took the fasting and stood it three days, blissfully loafing around the place and laying around hay stacks. The pangs of hunger, however, brought him to terms and he disgraced himself by real work.
     Mrs. Sheets was a daughter of W. J. Bussey, one of the pioneers of the county. She was well educated and energetic. She taught the first school in this vicinity in her kitchen. There were 8 pupils but attendance was irregular and in the winter smallpox broke out and it was closed. Clara Sheets, the only daughter, died in 1883 and was the first to be laid to rest at Pleasant Hill, now Grace Hill Cemetery at Hawarden. The neighbors cut away standing corn to make way for the procession.
     These and other pioneers suffered many hardships. The grasshoppers came in '74 and took everything for 2 years. The epidemic of smallpox and the terrible winter of 1881 threatened to depopulate the whole county. However, in 1885, settlers began to flock in and soon nearly all was settled up. Many of the leading families of the present time settled at that time.
     Eagle Township seems to have been a half-way place for settlers. The first people in the west end of the county were from Ohio and so were the first settlers here. The east end of the county was settled by Hollanders. After the first few families of easterners, families from various parts of this and other states settled hereabouts. Later Germans, Hollanders, Swedes, Norwegians and a few Danes came here direct from the fatherland. The Norsemen are in the north of the township and are now being pushed by the Hollanders from the east. Owing to the mixed nationality there has been very little sociability among us.
     SURFACE.-Eagle Township is rolling and well-drained. All of the land has been under the plow at some time although much is now in grass.
     DRAINAGE.-Six Mile Creek flows diagonally across the south eastern and Dry Creek across the northwestern part of the township. Both are streams of considerable size and were once well stocked with game fish. The seine has, however, been their end. Streams were both free and clear and had many deep pools until the prairies along them were broken, but now they are muddy and shallow. The pickerel no longer basks In the sun and the wild duck pauses not to rest.
     The soil is rich Missouri loess and produces abundantly the crops common to this region. Corn is the staple. The soil on a number of farms is badly run down, but most farmers are keeping stock and endeavoring to maintain the fertility of the soil. The yield of corn has been greatly increased by the growing of legumes. Probably one-quarter of the area of the township is now in clover.
     Until recently there has been practically no fruit grown, but now there are several orchards bearing.
     There are no towns or railroads in Eagle Township. Business is done at Hawarden and Ireton on the south and at Hudson and Sioux Center on the east. A few of the farms are 8 to 10 miles from market. There seems very little hope of ever having a town any nearer.


Continued on Page 20


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