1868 Boyer – Calhoun Townships, Harrison County, Iowa

Boyer Township

Boyer township is bounded on the north by Harrison and Lincoln townships, on the east by Shelby County, on the south by Jefferson and Cass and on the west by Magnolia township. The settlement of this township commenced in the year 1851. Among the first settlers were Richard Musgrave, Evans Obanion, Thos. Thompson, J. Jeffrey, Geo. Mefford, Mathew Hall and Lorenzo Butler. The names of the groves in Boyer Township are Twelve Mile and Bigler’s Grove.

The first settlers found here wild fruit, such as plums, gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, and grapes, in abundance; and there still continues to be plenty of these fruits, proving that tame fruits of a better grade will do well, although it must be admitted that the settlers have been very slow until quite lately in trying to raise them. They also found plenty of wild game.
Their nearest point of trade and traffic was Kanesville, (now called Council Bluffs, ) a distance of forty miles. Their nearest mill was on Pigeon creek, a distance of twenty-five miles. The old mill is now in ruins.

In about 1850 two school houses were built, one at Bigler’s Grove and one at Woodbine. The Episcopal Methodist organized a church with six or seven members. This was a small beginning, but “from the small acorns large trees do grow,” and from this small church has sprung up a membership of two or three hundred. They have just finished a good church building at Woodbine.
Some time in the year of 1855 or 56 Mr. L. D. Butler erected a grist mill on the Boyer in that part of the township known as Woodbine. This mill ground wheat and corn. Mr. Butler was one of the most energetic and enterprising men of the early settlers. He kept the first post office and opened the first store in the township; and Woodbine became quite a business point. In the summer of ’65 he sold his mill and its privileges to Messrs. Clark & Dally, who erected close to the mill a woolen factory, costing $27,000, and opened a first class country store. Mr. Butler also kept up his store with a increase of stock.

Soon after the woolen factory was completed Mr. J. W. Dally bought out the interest of his partner. Mr. Dally is an energetic, thorough businessman and makes the factory profitable to himself and a blessing to the country.


Woodbine was laid off in October, 1865, on prairie, where up to that time not even a wagon road crossed the town site. The town now contains about three hundred buildings, all told. It contains two dry goods stores, two hotels, two drug stores, one grocery store, one saddle and harness shop. one lumber yard, two physicians, and one produce dealer. When this town was first laid off the railroad company had their station here, and proposed to build their round house, tank, machine shop at this place, but in the summer of 1867, they changed their design and moved their division to Dunlap, and there built these contemplated buildings. This was hard on Woodbine. But there is one thing which the company can never do, ant that is to take the surrounding country from them. While it must be admitted that the loss of these buildings the place lost much, still when we look at the broad farms, and know that in less than one year, perhaps, they will number twice what they now do, we feel that Woodbine is scarcely up with the country. It is emphatically a farmer’s town, and will be supported by them. They come here to market their grain and produce, and buy their merchandise. Although it is not expected that Woodbine will become a great city, it is confidently believed that it will always be a good trading point, and that although its growth may not be so rapid as some other places, it will continue that healthy growth which is permanent.

Sad Incidents

While we think of progress and prosperity, the gay scenery of nature’s choicest works, intermingled with artificial structures of man, our mind forgets that we are mortal. In the summer of 1865, three little girls about 5 or 6 years old, went to the Boyer (near where the woolen factory now is) to bathe. Two of them, one daughter of John Obanion, the other daughter of James Foster, waded in too deep. The other seeing them struggle, ran as fast as she could to the house and gave the alarm. It was too late and the little ones were dead…May 6, 1868, near the same place, a little boy about two years of age, son of Lewis and Sarah Scripter, while playing along the bank of the creek slipped in… Mr. David Selleck, Henry Richardson and George Cole assisted in the search.


The construction of the flouring mill of Davis & Donmeyer commenced by Chatburn and Davis in the summer of 1865, under the personal supervision of Mr. Chatburn. Under his control it was a good mill. Mr. J. W. Donmeyer bought Mr. Chatburn’s interest and set about improving the machinery and the buildings. The mill is situated on the Boyer about two miles south of Woodbine.

Calhoun Township

In the history of this township is involved the earliest history of the county. The germ and radiating point of her civilization having been selected here in January 1848, by the distinguished pioneer, and now worthy citizen, Daniel Brown. having been an early pioneer in Illinois, strong and athletic from fearless adventures, he was the fit man to honor and undertaking calling forth the most brilliant genius, noble courage and daring intrepidity. In March he constructed a rude log hut on the eminent prairie upon which the town of Calhoun now stands. On the 6th of April, 1848, with his family, make claim by possession of the first land in Harrison county Iowa. Closely following the settlement of Mr. Brown was Mr. Lutz, who became a near neighbor and the coming May four families came into the County–Messrs. J. Vincent, O. M. Allen, Gay Cleveland and Davis. The early settlers immediately began tilling the ground, and the following autumn were blessed with a bountiful harvest of corn. Henry Reel from Indiana a honored agriculturist was the next to settle in the Boyer valley.

The nearest post office for this township for years was Council Bluffs, distant twenty-five miles, which accounts somewhat for the slow settlement at this early day. Yet a sufficient number of claims in 1852 to justify an organization of the County.

Calhoun Messrs. Wills, Beldon & Johnson laid off the town of Calhoun, July 5th 1853. Mr. Hardin commenced the mercantile business in the town, but the first heavy stock was by his successors, the firm of W. S. & E. W. Meech, in 1855. At an early day the town of Calhoun was one of the most important business points in the county, but the railroads have left it on each side, at such a distance as to effect materially its business interests. W. W. rose is the leading merchant of the place, at present, and doing a fair business. The town at present has twenty-one dwellings houses, two stores, one school house and a new school house under construction. In the year 185–Jas. Hardy, Esq., erected a mill on the Willow. Calhoun township was organized at an early date, with Squire Messenger for Justice of Peace, and S. Stanwood constable. An educational interest was early manifested, and now the township supports a number of excellent schools. Isaac Cox, an early settler in the Boyer valley, a man of high character, vigilant and active, did as much toward the advancement of educational interests as any other man. The Sup. of Common Schools for Harrison county in 1867, Mr. R. N. Day, is a resident of this township. The first school was taught by Mr. Brigham in Calhoun, 1865. The first death in the township was in 1854, William Brown, son of Mr. and Mrs. D. Brown.

Indian Troubles

In the spring of 1848, when Mr. Brown was on a trip to Missouri to procure provisions for the summer, the Indians came to his house and began plundering and destroying all that could be found. At last, lifting away a quilt hung form the wall of the house, (placed for the purpose of concealment), he espied half a dozen guns hanging one above another. One looked, and with the familiar ugh! The others in turn repeatedly raised the quilt and peeped behind whereupon, all supposed there was a man secreted for each gun, and left the building immediately. But enough had already been taken to place the family in a starving condition ere the return of Mr. Brown.

A heavy skirmish took place on the Boyer river between twelve whites and thirty Indians. Near a dozen rounds were fired when most of the Indians were captured and given a French leave to cross the Missouri river in a hurry. At one time six Indians stole two horses from Mr. Lutz; four of the Indians being already mounted, they were all rightly rigged out for a march. The thieves were found out immediately, and six men (all at that time in this part of the county) started in pursuit. A few shots were exchanged at the outset, but no person on either side injured.

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