Winnebago County, IA
OTHER TOWNS AND VILLAGES
LAKE MILLS — THE OLD MILL — PLATTING — INCORPORATION — UTILITIES — BANKS — EARLY LODGES — BUSINESS DIRECTORY, 1883
The plat of the town of Lake Mills, Winnebago County, was filed at the county recorder's office December 31, 1869 by Charles D. and Janet Smith, proprietors. The town itself was laid out on the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter of the southwest quarter and the south half of the northeast quarter of the norwest [sic] quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 2 in Township 99, Range 23 West of the Fifth Principal Meridian.
The first settler in the vicinity of Lake Mills was Joshua Thomas, who came here with his family in 1855 and located on what was known later as the Thomas farm, a part of which is now included in the corporation of Lake Mills. John Anderson came next in 1856 and located on Section 2, and the original town plat of fifteen acres was a part of this farm.
In 1864 there was constructed a grist mill at Lake Mills, or Slaunchville, as the town was then called. In 1862 and 1863 the settlers of the surrounding country demanded a grist mill which could be used the entire year, as about all the water mills were either dry or frozen up almost every winter, obliging the people to carry their grain about forty miles to get it transformed into flower. Some advanced the idea of having a steam mill built at Bristol, Worth County. In the summer of 1863 S. D. Wadsworth proposed to undertake the task, provided the citizens in and about Bristol would give the sum of $1,000 and help get the timber on the ground for the construction. This proposition was not accepted by the town of Bristol, the residents of that place believing that Wadsworth should supply the funds himself for his own business. In the early part of 1864 a delegation of men from Slaunchville (Lake Mills) called on Wadsworth at Bristol and offered him double the amount of money and work. Wadsworth willingly accepted this offer and a contract was made. C. D. Smith then took a quarter interest and the work of getting the material on the ground and of building began. The saw-mill was put into operation about the first of September of the same year. The mill for grinding first commenced doing custom work in the making of flour about the first of February, 1865.
Then the business of the country for miles around began to come to Slaunchville and it was not long before the community felt sufficiently prosperous to demand a postoffice. Slaunchville was not altogether agreeable as a name, so Dewell Martin suggested the name of Lake Mills, the derivation being evident. The mill which had made the fortunes of the town was burned in 1871, the year of the Chicago fire, but was immediately rebuilt. The firm of Wadsworth & Smith shortly afterwards transferred the business to Winslow & Conley.
C. D. Smith purchased the original town plat of fifteen acres of E. D. Hinman and had B. K. Walker lay out the town into lots, blocks, streets and alleys.
The first building erected on the town site was a store by E. D. Hinman, although the town had not then been surveyed and platted. After the survey was made the store was found to be partly in the street and was accordingly moved back. L. E. Crowell was the first merchant to sell goods in this store. Most of the merchandise then delivered over the counter to buyers had to be hauled from Austin, Owatonna and McGregor.
In 1866 S. D. Wadsworth opened a general store in an old log school house which had been constructed several years before. He continued the business here until 1867, then moved it to his dwelling, selling out after four years to W. B. Todd. The latter closed out the business three years later.
The next general store was opened in 1868 by Lewis Crowell. He continued the business about one year, then sold out to Lemuel Stilson, who sold in about a year to Abel Porter. One year later Mr. Porter disposed of the stock and quit the business.
In 1869 Larson & Company, from Osage, Iowa, opened a general store in Lake Mills. After two years they erected a building. Ole Scar was a partner in this concern, but withdrew after ten years and purchased the business of Wadsworth & Company, which he ran alone until 1883, then formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, N. I. Nelson, under the firm name of Scar & Nelson.
The next general stock was opened in 1873 by E. L. Johnson, in the building vacated by Larson & Company. Mr. Johnson continued in the business about one year, then sold out to K. H. Knudson, who closed out the stock six months later.
In the early days nearly all of the stores carried limited stocks of hardware, and it was not until 1872 that an exclusive hardware store was established. In that year Lemuel Stilson engaged in that trade at Lake Mills, but shortly moved to Forest City.
The first grocery store was opened in 1875 by K. H. Knudson. He afterward merged his stock in the firm of Wadsworth & Knudson, which, as mentioned before, was purchased by Ole Scar.
The first furniture store was established in 1878 by Abel Porter. In 1879 William Wilson became proprietor of the business, and in turn sold out to J. B. Wilson.
Lake Mills postoffice was established in 1864, with S. D. Wadsworth as postmaster.
The first Scandinavians in Lake Mills were the members of nine families who came to the vicinity about 1856. Among them were Oliver Peterson, Colburn Larson, John Johnson, H. J. Knudson, John Iverson, Ch. Anderson and Louis Nelson.
The first death in the town was that of Joshua Thomas in 1858. The first birth was that of a daughter of Rev. J. B. Hill in 1859, her death occurring the same year. The first couple married were Thomas Blair and Lovica Anderson in 1860.
In 1880, the town of Lake Mills, having attained a population of 408 inhabitants, thought seriously of forming itself into a body corporate. The necessary proceedings were had and on June 7, 1880 an election was held at the Lake Mills school house upon the question of incorporating the town. J. M. Hull, H. A. Rowland and C. D. Smith were the judges of the election; and John F. Kean and W. A. Chapman, clerks. There were forty-nine votes cast in favor of the incorporation of the town and only four polled against it.
The petition for incorporation which was presented to the court described the incorporated portion as follows: “Commencing at the northeast corner of the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 2, thence one mile west to the northeast corner of the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 3, thence one mile south to the northeast corner of the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 10, thence one mile east to the northeast corner of the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 11, thence one mile north to the place of beginning, all in Township 99, Range 23.”
The petition for incorporation was signed by the following named citizens: J. M. Hull, E. D. Hinman, C. D. Smith, S. D. Wadsworth, K. H. Knudson, A. Anderson, John F. Kean, F. B. Southwick, L. L. Olson, L. S. Anderson, L. B. Nerby, W. H. Douglas, E. F. Thompson, Cahel Martin, A. N. Hill, H. A, Camp, Ed. Henderson, L. K. Hutchinson, William Smith, O. J. Conklin, K. T. Johnson, O. L. Brunsvold, G. H. Corser, William Larson, O. S. Olson, Chr. J. B. Hirsch, O. Osmundson, J. M. Henderson, H. S. Peterson, John J. Merrill and H. W. Howland.
Until the year 1895 the people of Lake Mills were without adequate protection from fire by an established system of water supply. In that year, however, the people decided by ballot to erect a waterworks system, the city council bought the site, and the contract for laying the mains and constructing the plant was let. In 1896 the firm of Winslow & Conley dug the first well.
About the same time provision was made for the installation of an electric lighting plant in Lake Mills. The same firm of Winslow & Conley was granted a twenty year franchise, and they awarded the contract for the erection of a complete electric light plant to C. G. Edwards, of Albert Lea, Minnesota. The first plant was a two-wire, direct current system and had a capacity of 400 sixteen candle power incandescent lamps.
The early history of banking in the city of Lake Mills is chiefly concerned with the history of two banks. A bank known as the Lake Mills Exchange Bank was established in 1880. In 1891 a brick block was erected by the bank. The other institution of finance was the Lake Mills Bank. The organization of this bank took place in July, 1886, when Secors, Law & Plummer, the well known [sic]banking firm of Forest City, formed a partnership with P. M. Joice, under the firm name of P. M. Joice & Company. They at once began the erection of a solid brick building, which was the first of its kind in Lake Mills. The bank opened its doors for business October 7, 1886. Prior to coming to Lake Mills, Mr. Joice had for seven years been employed in the Winnebago County Bank at Forest City. On September 1, 1890, Mr. Joice purchased the interests of David Secor and B. A. Plummer.
The present Farmers State Bank of Lake Mills was organized March 5, 1898, with the following first officers: J. B. Lloyd, president; J. B. Keeler, vice president; John R. Larson, cashier. Articles of incorporation were filed February 8, 1898, signed by the above, also Alfred Burdick and C. D. Smith. The first and present capital stock of the bank is $25,000. The deposits average about $425,000. The present officers are: S. H. Larson, president; Ole Hovie, vice president; T. S. Tweed, cashier; and C. W. Streeter, assistant cashier.
The First National Bank of Lake Mills was organized in February, 1898, with the following officers; [sic] J. C. Williams, president; G. S. Gilbertson, vice president; B. H. Thomas, cashier; and S. H. Larson, assistant cashier. On August 1, 1898 the new home of the institution on Main Street was opened for business. The present officers are: C. E. Paulson, president; 0. V. Eckert, vice president; J. M. Tapager, cashier; and T. J. Severson, assistant cashier. The capital stock is $50,000; and the deposits amount to about $300,000.
The Farmers State Bank was the successor of the Lake Mills Exchange Bank.
The first meeting in Lake Mills of the Masonic fraternity as a lodge was held on the evening of April 4, 1887. Petition had been made by sixteen members of the fraternity to form a lodge and a dispensation had been granted under date of March 18, 1887. Regular and special meetings were held and quite a number of additions were made to the roll of members during the probational period. On June 5, 1888, Arion Lodge, No. 488, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, was regularly instituted by a charter from the grand lodge of Iowa.
Sully Post, No. 180, Grand Army of the Republic, was installed by the acting adjutant general of the Iowa Department on June 18, 1893, starting out with twenty charter members.
Aurora Lodge, No. 412, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was instituted July 22, 1880. M. E. C. Miller acted as the installing officer. The charter members of this lodge were: Charles J. B. Hirsch, John T. Kean, O. J. Conklin, L. L. Olson, and A. Anderson. At the first meeting the following candidates were voted upon favorably: J. M. Hull, Joseph Tennis and F. B. Southwick. At a meeting held September 2, 1880, Ole Scar, K. H. Knudson, C. D. Smith and W. A. Chapman were balloted for favorably.
General merchants—Ole Scar, Southwick & Nelson, William Larson and Oliver Nelson.
Not a little of the success of the city of Lake Mills must be attributed to the coming of the railroads. When the steel rails were laid trade with other markets was made easy and the business of the town began to grow. The Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad was built in the year 1879. The object in extending the road through this region of the country was to connect the coal fields to the south with the business interests of the north. W. D. Washburn, of Minneapolis, came here and consulted with the business men of the county. Something of the organization of an independent railroad company at Forest City and the relation of it to the M. & St. L. is described in the chapter on Forest City. The road was put through to Forest City in the fall of the year 1879 and the first passenger train went through on December 3d. The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad constructed their line through the city of Lake Mills in 1899. The construction train first reached this point March 1st.
To the original plat of Lake Mills many additions have been made, surveyed, recorded and all because of the growth of the population and the necessity for extension of the city limits. Among the more important of these additions are: Hinman's Addition, June 29, 1896; Nelson & Hylbak's Addition, June 12, 1913; and the Irving Place Addition, March 13, 1914.
The Lake Mills Club, an organization for “charitable, educational, social and recreative” purposes, was incorporated August 13, 1898. P. A. Helgeson was the first president.
Located in Buffalo Township, twenty miles northwest of Forest City, on the Rock Island Railroad, is the town of Buffalo Center, one of the most enterprising and energetic of the smaller cities of the state. The town has a system of waterworks, an electric lighting plant, two banks, a newspaper, fire department, four general stores, six churches, and a population of near 1,000 people.
The plat of Buffalo Center was first filed July 25, 1892, by J. Thompson, Clara K. Thompson, J. F. Thompson, Julia A. Thompson, C. H. and F. L. Kelley, proprietors. J. H. T. Ambrose was the surveyor of the town plat, at the request of the above. This plat consisted of the southwest quarter of Section 17, Township 99, Range 26 West. It has now been vacated, however.
On July 30, 1894 there was filed in the county recorder's office a second plat of Buffalo Center. This comprised a part of the southwest quarter of Section 17, Township 99, Range 26 West, also a part of the northwest quarter of Section 20 in the same township and range. Frank H. Fisk surveyed this new plat at the request of the Buffalo Center State Bank.
On January 18, 1894, a petition was filed asking for the incorporation of the city of Buffalo Center, also claiming a population at the time of 350 people. The petition was signed by the following: J. S. Ulland, M. Jackman, B. A. Pannkuk, L. B. Draper, R, Rowley, E. M. Wilson, Charles S. Dempsey, Knute H. Helle, L. E. Trefz, Ed. Staadt, E. J. Wood, E. E. Secor, J. J. Roach, M. O. Smith, G. P. Dempsey, T. O. Thorson, John Tegland, E. W. Russell, P. E. Lyon, P. J. Johnson, E. M. Bakke, N. P. Johnson, G. A. Jorgenson, O. G. Bugton, Frank Wilson, Albert Nash, J. W. Woodcock, C. E. Anderson, John S. Daum, A. Cady, O. A. Sawdey, H. G. Gardner, T. S. V. Wrollie, L. A. Hauge, R. Johnson, A. M. Gunder, Sam Nelson, N. A. Dreesman, L. H. Gotwalt, William Kane, G. K. Lien, M, Jackman, O. M. Greinder, L. M. Slaba and Ord Curtis. E. E. Secor, J. S. Ulland, L. M. Slaba, George Dempsey and H. G. Gardner were appointed commissioners of election by the court. The election to determine the question of incorporation was held February 17, 1894 and resulted in a vote of 106 to 2 in favor of it.
A bank called the Buffalo Center Savings Bank was incorporated December 17, 1892, with a capital stock of $12,000. The first directors were: B, A. Plummer, J. Thompson, John Law, G. S. Gilbertson, J. F. Thompson, E. E. Secor, C. J. Thompson and C. H. Kelley. This bank filed dissolution proceedings April 18, 1894, and the liabilities were assumed by the Buffalo Center State Bank. The Buffalo Center State Bank was incorporated January 8, 1894 by the following; [sic] J. Thompson, B. A. Plummer, J. F. Thompson, C. H. Kelley, K. K. Hellernd, C. J. Thompson, E. E. Secor and G. S. Gilbertson, with a capital stock of $25,000. The Citizens State Bank of Buffalo Center was incorporated April 7, 1898, for $30,000 by the following: J. Thompson, J. F. Thompson, B. J. Thompson, T. Jacobs and P. M. Joice.
The Farmers Trust & Savings Bank was incorporated May 21, 1914, for $20,000, with the following officers: J. J. McGuire, president; E. B. Aukes, vice president; F. L. Sharon, cashier; C. I. Anderson and H. D. Feldick, directors. E. E. Sapp is now assistant cashier. The capital stock is the same at present and the deposits amount to about $250,000.
The First National Bank, dating from 1898, is officered by the following: C. W. Gadd, president; J. W. Woodcock, vice president; J. J. Guyer, cashier; B. McDermott, assistant cashier. The capital stock is $50,000 and the deposits amount to about $250,000.
The city of Thompson, with a population of close to 575 people, is located on the Rock Island Railroad, in King Township, fourteen miles northwest of Forest City. It has two banks, a newspaper, five general stores and other places of business such as drug stores, hardware stores, elevators, etc.
The plat of Thompson was filed March 24, 1892. The survey was made on the 22d and 23d of March, 1892, by Frank N. Pitkin, at the request of J. F. Thompson, vice president of the Chicago and Iowa Western Land and Town Lot Company. Frank Thompson, Steve H. Pitkin, Mortimer Cooper and O. T. Severs were assistants on the survey.
The survey was described as follows: Beginning at a point 1241 feet east of the northwest corner of Section 26, Township 99. Range 25 West [sic] and on the north line of the said Section 26, thence south 1321 feet, thence east 1399 feet, thence north 1322 feet to the United States quarter post, thence west on section line 1399 feet to the place of beginning. A second plat filing was made June 11, 1892, describing the land as the south half of the southwest quarter of Section 23 and the west half of the northwest quarter of Section 26, Township 99, Range 25.
On March 17, 1894, there was filed a petition asking for the incorporation of Thompson. This position was signed by the following: H. G. Beadle, C. P. Jessen, M. J. Cunningham, H. Erickson, E. S. White, Ernest Siljenberg, O. G. Beckjorden, T. M. Wilkison, L. F. Ozmun, Nels J. Wasley, C. J. Shauger, J. M. Johnson, Jr., G. B. Johnson, J. F. Lynch, L. A. Grant, M. O'Neil, A. Helm, T. C. Knapp, J. L. Johnstone, Ole Jerde, S. C. Castleman, Hans Anderson, H. L. Huitz, E. E. Thompson, O. Finstad, F. W. Thompson, Ole Berge, W. T. Kendall, L. L. Spencer, Eugene Reiley, E. E. Brewster, F. M. Linehan, L. T. Brethaner, M. L. Thorsheim, W. E. Grant, John Ellickson, H. C. Mortenson, James Ellickson, C. T. Fletcher, George Wilkison, J. T. Hyde, and Thomas Nugent. The petition set forth the fact that the population of Thompson at that time was fully 230 people. E. E. Brewster, J. F. Lynch, J. L. Johnstone, W. T. Kendall and J. M. Johnson were appointed commissioners to hold the election for the purpose of deciding the question of incorporation. This election was held according to statutes February 15, 1894. For incorporation there were cast 47 votes and against it only 3 votes. The order of the court for incorporation was dated February 24, 1894.
The Farmers Savings Bank of Thompson was incorporated and articles filed August 31, 1892, by the following: G. W. Beadle, G. R. Maben, S. C. Gardner, James Ellickson and M. Johnson. The capital stock was placed at $10,000.
The State Bank of Thompson filed articles of incorporation October 31, 1896, with a stock of $30,000. J. F. Thompson was the first president; F. N. Vaughan, vice president; and W. B. Vaughan, cashier. The articles were also signed by J. Thompson, B. J. Thompson, E. Huntington, William Larrabee, I. N. Perry and Josiah Little. The present officers are: B. J. Thompson, president, [sic] J. O. Osmundson, vice president; G. Gordon, cashier; and H. W. Nelson, assistant cashier. The capital stock is still $30,000 and the deposits amount to $150,000.
The First National Bank of Thompson, which dates from 1897, is now officered by the following named: N. E. Isaacs, president; C. Larson, vice president; T. E. Isaacson, cashier; L. E. Isaacs, assistant cashier. The capital stock is $50,000 and the deposits average $230,000.
Leland is a town of 200 people, on the M. & St. L. Railroad in Forest Township.
The official plat of the town of Leland was filed July 15, 1887. The town was laid out by the county surveyor, L. T. Thompson, by direction of John D. Leland, on the southeast quarter of the northeast fractional quarter of Section 2, Township 98, Range 24 West. The survey of this forty acres was made on July 8 and 9, 1887.
The first structure on the site of the town was a hotel building erected in 1880 by Ole Ambrosen for keeping the crew of men then working on the M. & St. L. Railway. About the same time Matt Johnson moved the store building from the original Benson's Grove to the location of the present town. Pat Mahar rented this building and there kept the first store in the town, succeeded immediately by Ole Michaelson and J. D. Leland. T. J. Butcher erected the first residence. The postoffice was moved from Benson's Grove by the efforts of Mr. Leland and the name changed to Lelandsburg, which has since been contracted to simply Leland.
On December 31, 1894, swearing a population of 215 people, the citizens of Leland presented to the courts a petition, praying for incorporation. The petition was signed by: Julius Jasperson, G. H. Onstad, P. E. Branstad, J. H. Johnson, M. Michaelson, George Napper, W. P. Buren, 0. Michaelson, Henry Smith, A. E. Wilcox, George W. Brown, H. S. Onstad, A. Anderson, George Anderson, Ole Peterson, O. F. Clement, R. Rierson, Nels Quam, Andrew Johnson, J. Winkelman, Charles F. Jenks, Harald Haraldson, T. L. Hallam, F. T. Maidens, Charles Isaacs, Albert Thompson, R. L. De France, F. J. Bowman, O. C. Napper and L. Fingelson. The election, in charge of Commissioners Onstad, Branstad, Johnson, Michaelson and Jasperson, was held February 28, 1895, and resulted in a vote of 34 to 14 for incorporation.
The year 1900 brought the first bank to the town of Leland. Through the efforts of B. A. Plummer, president of the First National Bank of Forest City, the Farmers Savings Bank was organized in that year. The capital stock was placed at $10,000 and in November 1900, the bank commenced business. B. A. Plummer was elected the first president; J. D. Leland, vice president; and Charles Isaacs, cashier. In the next year Leland and Isaacs resigned and their places were taken by O. Michaelson and E. G. McGreevey respectively. The present officers are: O. Michaelson, president; L. T. Thompson, vice president; E. G. McGreevey, cashier; and Leona Buren, assistant cashier. The capital stock is $10,000 and the deposits about $65,000.
The town of Rake has a population of about 225. It is located on the Rock Island Railroad, in Lincoln Township, twenty-eight miles northwest of Forest City.
The plat of Rake was filed August 9, 1900. Thomas H. and Mary Brown were the owners of the land included within the plat, namely: part of the northeast quarter of Section 16, Township 100, Range 26 West. J. H. T. Ambrose surveyed the ground.
The State Savings Bank of Rake was incorporated and articles filed March 5, 1914, with a capital stock of $15,000. The first officers were: A. A. Rake, president; S. C. Jensvold, vice president; J. A. Rake, cashier; L. E. Bolstad, A. E. Helland, Ed. O. Holverson, John R. Unterdahl and Alfred Christopherson, directors. The present officers are: A. Christopherson, president; S. C. Jensvold, vice president; J. Rake, cashier; A. M. Erdahl, assistant cashier. The capital stock is still $15,000 and the deposits average $80,000.
Scarville is a town of 150 people, on the Chicago and Northwestern Railway, in Logan Township, eighteen miles north of Forest City. The plat of Scarville was filed October 11, 1899. The land named consisted of part of the northwest quarter of Section 19, Township 100, Range 23 West, also part of the northeast quarter of Section 24, Township 100, Range 24 West. C. T. Dyke, a civil engineer and surveyor of Mason City, Iowa, at the request of the Iowa & Minnesota Town Site Company, surveyed the town on the 20th, 21st and 22d of September, 1899.
In 1904 Scarville was incorporated. On May 2d of that year a petition was presented to the court asking for the same and signed by T. J. Folken, S. S. Hanson, I. O. Iverson, N. Levorson, A. Iverson, Peder Langeland, H. Iverson, Jake Thompson, Thom Jorgenson, T. Lund, P. H. Moe, S. A. Dale, Oscar Severson, C. L. Tuley, W. E. Campbell, Nels Mandahl, O. J. Folken, C. K. Nelson, John H. Moe, A. Anderson, Albert H. Peterson, A. N. Brudvig, Jr., W. J. Nagel, John Folken, John L. Larson, Alf Sime, John O. Reue, S. Knutsen. The various formalities were observed according to law and on March 17, 1904, the election was held. There were 30 votes polled, divided as follows: for incorporation, 27; against incorporation, 2; defective, 1.
The Scarville Bank was established in 1903. C. L. Suby is the president of this institution now; and A. M. Larson, cashier. The capital stock is $10,000 and the deposits about $80,000.
Benson, afterward changed to Lelandsburg and then Leland, was platted and the plat filed May 19, 1880. It was laid out at the direction of David Secor and John Law on the southwest quarter of the northwest fractional quarter of Section 1, Township 98, Range 24 West. J, H. T. Ambrose, the county surveyor laid it out on the 12th and 13th of May, 1880.
The plat of Norman, twenty-one miles northeast of Forest City, was filed June 15, 1880. It was laid out at the request of John S. Dahle on the 1st of June, 1880, on the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 12, Township 100, Range 23 West. J. H. T. Ambrose did the work of surveying. Norman is now upon the R. F. D. route from Emmons, having no postoffice of its own. Mount Valley is a discontinued postoffice in the township of that name, now supplied with mail by rural route from Forest City. Ratna, Tweten, Vinje and Delano are small communities without postoffice, permitted to decline for want of a railroad or other incentive to grow.
A History of Winnebago County and Hancock County, Iowa. Vol. 2. Chicago: Pioneer Publishing Company, 1917. 138-49. Print.
Transcribed by Paul Nagy