Sac County Iowa First Settlements

“The first settlement was made by Otho Williams, who came from Michigan in the autumn of 1854, with his family, and took up a claim in the timber near Grant City, in the southeastern part of the county. He and his family were the first white inhabitants of Sac county, but during the two succeeding years quite a number of settlers made their homes either in the same neighborhood or in the vicinity of Sac City, and Otho Williams, at the end of about two years, complained that ‘folds are gittin’ to thick ’round yer,’ and he and his family ‘folded their tent like the Arab, and silently stole away.’ In other words, they sold their claim and disappeared in the direction of the setting sun. No one knows where they went. If they still live and preserve their aversion to near neighbors, they must be somewhere in the Rocky Mountain region. In the spring of 1855, Leonard Austin, F. M. Cory, Wm. Wine and David Metcalf, with their families, W. M. Montgomery, with his mother and sister, and S.W. Wagoner and Henry A. Evans, single men, took up claims in the county. On the 5th of August Eugene Criss and family arrived in the county, and located near Sac City. A few days later William H. Hobbs located in the same neighborhood. During the fall the population of Sac County was augmented by the arrival and settlement of John Condron, Joseph Lane, Joseph Williams and S. L. Watt, with their respective families. This, so far as we can learn, is a complete list of the population of the county up to the close of 1855.

“In the spring of 1858, the settlers in congressional townships 87, 88 and 89, in range 36, now forming the townships of Wall Lake, Jackson and Delaware, thought that there was good reason to fear that all vacant land in those townships would be bid in by speculators at the annual land sale at Sioux City, thus preventing its immediate settlement. Nearly all the settlers, though not ready at that time to buy, wanted some of this land for their own use. They therefore met together and arranged matters, and when the day of sale came, the room in which the sale was held was packed full of settlers, and no others could make their way in. No bids were made, and the land was kept open for preemption.

“The first mill in, the county was built by Wm. Lane, on the Coon river, near Grant City, late in the fall of 1856. That winter was so very severe that it has ever since been known as the ‘hard winter,’ but nevertheless, com was hauled to the mill from Sac City and vicinity on hand-sleds. Many families ground their own corn in coffee mills. Provisions, flour, etc., were generally brought from Des Moines.

“In 1856, Sac County, which had previously been attached to Greene County for all administrative purposes, was granted a separate jurisdiction. S. L. Watt was the first County Judge, and the County Judge of those days was an autocrat, performing the functions of the present Board of Supervisors and County Auditor, and also, in part, those of the Judge of the Circuit Court. H. C. Crawford was first County Clerk, and F. M. Cory was first Treasurer and Recorder.”

Sac County Iowa, History of Western Iowa, 1882

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