Hesper Township

From southern Indiana in the spring of 1851, E. E. Meader, with his wife and 4 sons, arrived and are recorded as the first permanent settlers of Hesper Township. Records show that when the first official survey of the Iowa -Minnesota line was made, chief engineers of the survey party boarded at the Meader home.

A Mr. Wheeler built a log house on the slope in the north part of the present village of Hesper near a big spring, which for many years was the main water supply of the village.

In 1855, it is recorded that David C. Tabor with three young men as assistants, with a heavy wagon pulled by four yoke of oxen, went to Lansing, about 25 miles to the East, to transport back the boiler for a sawmill that was about to be built. They were on the road eight days, and during two days of the home trip traveled only eight miles. They came by way of Decorah and Burr Oak, coming into Hesper by the West so that they could ford the Upper Iowa River and other streams and avoid some of the worst roads and low areas.

Ed. Pew records Russell Tabor as being the original proprietor of the Village of Hesper, as it was platted in 1857. Deeds given to later property buyers contained a clause forever prohibiting the manufacture of sale of intoxicating liquor upon the premises conveyed.

A majority of the early settlers who arrived about 1856 were members of the Society of Friends and some of those included were: Allens, Batteys, Blackmarrs, Cooks, Aldriches, Benedicts, Streets, Pikes, Haines, Painters, McMullens, Worths, Mitchells, Morrisons, Whaleys, Wickershams, Talberts, Johnsons, and others.

The first Quaker meeting house in the township was built on the northwest corner of section 17, a mile west of the village, while another branch of the Friends Society conducting their meetings at the Russell Tabor house. The Friends joined forces in a common meeting house in the village, and this church, which was built in 1857, burned October 22, 1904.

The Hesper community had the reputation of furnishing more than its fair share of county officers, among them were: Wm. Johnson, George N. Holway, and H.L. Coffeen, superintendents of schools; C. E. Meader, and E. R. Haines, county treasurers; and James L. Cameron, who was a county surveyor for 22 years.

In about 1910 Hesper supported two general stores. One operated by Burre Burreson and the other by E.J. Vold; Dr. Worth operated a drug store; R. J. White handled farm machinery; Robinson Reid was the village blacksmith, and Roy Dart ran a restaurant. Dr. Gertrude G. Wellington practiced medicine; the meat market was run by B. Franklin, and John McMillan ran the sawmill and feed mill at his farm one half mile from the village.

Four cemeteries are located in Hesper Township, the first; a well-plotted well-recorded cemetery is that of the Hesper Lutheran Church. A second well-plotted and kept cemetery, and a very old one, is just south of the village which has a very old section, with this area set aside for burials in the 1850s. A few burials are located in a small cemetery on the Orville Salveson farm in section 23. In section 28, on the farm now owned by Leo Wilson, at least one Civil War veteran is buried in a small, poorly marked-cemetery-along the roadside fence.

Please, contact the county coordinator to submit additions or corrections.

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