Military Township received its name from the old Military Road, which ran through the area from McGregor to Fort Atkinson. It records its first citizen as John Ossian Porter. Porter, with his wife and four children immigrated to Military Township arriving in 1850 and settling on the northeast quarter of section 7, which is now part of the incorporated town of Ossian.
History records that the town of Ossian received its name from Porter, since his middle name was Ossian.
Those who record history say that the next settlers in the neighborhood were Chauncey Brooks, and Captain Caleb Brooks. Following the Brooks were Adolph Howard, John R. Howard and Charles Wood, all of who moved in after an overland trip from their home area of Erie County, Pennsylvania.
Nicholas Linbeck and family are recorded as the next settlers, while soon afterward was James Books, H.P. Nicholson, Sr., who purchased land in section 4, and Barney Boyle.
Judge John DeCou and wife who originally settled near Moneek in 1850 moved to Military Township and lived in the same location throughout the rest of his life.
Henry Scheidelmantel, now shortened to Scheidel, settled in section 5. Historians say Erick Anderson purchased a stock of goods from a Mr. Lathrop who had been located at Moneek, but when he felt that the town of Moneek was dying fast, he was glad of a chance to sell the stock. Anderson's place of business became the first store and he the first merchant. The Centennial history says, "at this time the country was poor and everybody seemed to want credit. Mr. Anderson very generously trusted them and as a result, his mercantile business was a failure.
On October 22, Rev. Nils Brandt conducted the first service in the Stavanger Church area at the John A. Axtal farm (on which Harold Hammersland now lives). By 1854 there was no unoccupied land to be had; prices per acre had moved up to $4.50 to $5.00 per acre.
The following was provided to Bill Waters the Winneshiek County IaGenWeb coordinator by Darlene C. Joyce on Mar.6, 2013.
John A. Axtal was actually born Jon Andreas Anderson Veim on 4 Oct. 1816 on the Viem Farm, Avaldsnes Parish [now Tysvaer Parish], Rogalund Norway. He emigrated in 1850, from the Axdal Farm, which adjoins Veim—his wife Marta Mallene Larsdatter—was from Axdal farm, and “John” worked there for a few years before they came to Iowa. A published diary by Pastor Koren’s wife suggests that John Axdal first settled in the “Turkey River Settlement” [which may be in western Iowa in Clayton County?], but he soon went to Military Twp, Winneshiek, IA. John and Marta had a large family, but only three children survived to adulthood: Colben, 1847; Chris M., b. about 1855 IA; and Martha Malla Marie, b. IA 1869, who married Gunder Saboe. Jon/John is said to have purposely taken the surname “Anderson,” and “petitioned to do so”, at some early point, and he is shown in most of his official American records as “John A. Anderson.” But in Norwegian church and family records, he is often referred to as John Axdahl, Axdal, or alternate spelling. John was a school teacher and a farmer. He was described in Mrs. Elizabeth Koren’s published diary as a “funny, charming little man.” In 1870, John’s son, Colben, went with a friend to Minnesota—to scout out land. They came back to Winneshiek County Iowa and organized a caravan of 16 wagons, leaving sometime between 1870-1871. These family members and friends all went to a newly developing county, taken from Redwood County MN in 1870, and they helped found Baxter Township, Lac qui Parle, MN. Some of the IA group went to other points along the river. It took the group 3 ½ weeks to reach their destinations in Minnesota. John Anderson died 17 Oct. 1902 at Dawson, Lac qui Parle, Minnesota. His children, and other of his relatives, also lived and died in this place.
Historical notes say that the Rosa boys ran the first threshing machine west of Monona. The first death in Ossian was Thomas Larson killed by an ox team running away. The railroad arrived at Ossian from points east in 1864. The railroad now known as the Chicago-Milwaukee & St. Paul was then the McGregor Western. It reached as far as Castalia by October 1863 and was extended to Ossian by 1864.
Other pioneers who are recorded as early settlers are O.O. Riveland who settled in section 22, Hans Larsen Tinderholt and Barny Kieve in section 30.
Records show the location of five cemeteries in Military Township. Near to St. Francis of DeSales Catholic Church is the large Catholic cemetery; near Ossian is the Hillside cemetery set aside for burial purposes in 1860 under the auspices of the town of Ossian. Just southwest of the town is the Ossian Lutheran Cemetery. Two well-known and early-established Lutheran cemeteries are located in the south part of the township, Stavanger and Bethany Lutheran. Records show land was set aside for the Stavanger cemetery in 1856.
Please, contact the county coordinator to submit additions or corrections.
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