History

Pioneers of Polk County, Iowa

Christmas in Early Days

In the very early days, very little attention was given to Christmas as a public holiday. From 1846 to 1850, the town was small, the people poor, their chief purpose and labor being to secure a living and establish homes. If the day was observed at all, it was with dancing parties and frolics by the young folks, who were alway ready for amusements, arranged by themselves, as concert troupes and dramatic barnstormers had not got this far West. The first Christmas observance at The Fort was in 1845. The Indian title to the Reservation had expired, and some of …

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Fourth of July Postcard

Fourth of July in Early Days

The pioneers were patriotic as well as public-spirited and industrious. The first Fourth of July celebration of the town was in 1846, less than four months after the town had a legal existence. The soldiers had left, taking away all the cannon, but cannon improvised from logs, and blacksmiths’ anvils,were utilized to make a noise, while the small boy echoed it by charging old smooth-bored, muzzle-loading muskets with bullets picked from cabin logs which had been “peppered” by the soldiers in some of their hilarious moments. There were no cartridges and breech-loaders in that day. Early in the day, a …

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Pioneers of Polk County, Iowa

Pioneer Women of Polk County Iowa

My reminiscences of pioneers and old settlers — the pioneer claims a little distinction because he was “first in” — has been confined mostly to the men, but the wives and mothers should not be forgotten. While they did not build houses, business blocks, churches, and schoolhouses, make laws, and lay the foundation of civic government, they did lay the foundation of what is most essential to good government, to a successful, progressive, and prosperous community. They were the home-builders, the moulders of child life. They left to succeeding generations a heritage in the character of their children (was there …

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Dijon Map of Moingona River, 1720

Des Moines — What It Means

Much has been written as to the origin and meaning of the name, “Des Moines.” That it is from the French, and means “The Monks” is true. That the city was named from the river is also true. As there were never any monks in Iowa, it is evident the name is a mis-application, or a corruption. The river was discovered by Pére Marquette and M. Jollyet, in 1673. John Dawson Gilmary Shea (1852), the eminent author of “Histories of Catholic Missions Among Indian Tribes,” “Explorations of the Mississippi,” “History of the Catholic Church of the United States,” in his …

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Parmalee and Watt's Mill

History of Parmelee’s Mill

The person who goes though [through] the country on the railroads diverging from the city, and sees the fine farm houses and their pleasing environments, has no conception of the trials and privations which encompassed their beginnings. As a rule, the pioneers located their claims near rivers and creeks. The clothing they wore, a small quantity of flour, meal, bacon, potatoes (the “eyes” to be saved for planting), salt, tea, coffee, a few dishes, and axe, a few tools, was all they had on arrival. The first move was to get shelter. Often this was a rude cabin made of …

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Sac County Iowa, Townships

“Sac County contains sixteen congressional townships, west of the Des Moines River. It contains 369,640 acres, nearly a1l, of which is desirable land for either grain or stock farms, and the larger part available for either or both combined. The larger part of these lands are railway property and these can be purchased by home-seekers, who will occupy them at once, on the most liberal terms. Many of the private holders are also selling on nearly if not quite as easy terms as the railway land company. And as to the grasshopper an tornado bugbears, it is perfectly safe to …

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Sac City, Sac County Iowa

The population of Sac City is now estimated to be 800. The place is one of the most flourishing in this section of Iowa. The present town officers are: Mayor, John Alexander; Recorder, Charles L. Early, Trustees: R. H. Lamoreux, Phil Schaller, P. H. Hankins, N. R. Flack, Jos. H. James. . In 1856 Sac City was laid out on land belonging to Hon. Eugene Criss, and was selected as the seat of government for the county. It is situated on the Coon River, about five or six miles northeast of the center of the county. The business part of …

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Odebolt Societies

Wheeler Lodge No. 398, A.F. & A.M Instituted October 1879, and worked under dispensation until June, 1880, when their charter was received. The charter members are and first officers were: J. M. Zane, W.M.; W. A. Helsell, S.W.; H. T. Martrin, J.W.; Frank Burleigh, Treasure; F. A. Cobb, Secretary. H. C. Wheeler, W.W. Field, Geo. Belt, and Mr. Douglas were among the charter members. The present officers are: E. P. Messer, W.M.; W. A. Helsell, S.W.; J. M. Zane, J.W.; C. W. Sutton, S.D.; E. Grist, J.D.; Wm. Graham, Secretary; Frank Burleigh, Treasurer. The society has a membership of thirty, …

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Odebolt, Sac County Iowa

This town is situated in the western part of Sac County on a branch of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway. It was laid out by the Blair Town Lot and Land Company in 1877. M. H. Henipen is not only the first business man of Odebolt, but is one of the earliest settlers, having been engaged in selling supplies to the laborers before the town was laid out or the railroad completed. The first house erected in the town was built by W. Van Duesen, and served both as a store and dwelling. He was soon followed by Geo. McKibbin, …

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General History of Sac County Iowa

The general history of Sac County can probably be presented in no better shape than as we give it in the following extract from a well written article, published in the Sac Sun, of Sac City, December 24th, 1880: “The immense emigration from the Eastern and East Central States which has for the past two or three years rapidly settled up the lands of Kansas and Nebraska, has during the past two years been diverted to a great extent to the more certainly productive agricultural lands of Northwestern Iowa. Many more of these home seekers might have been induced to …

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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 …

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Sac County, Iowa Early History

“This sketch is intended principally as a pen-picture of Sac County as it now is, and will include a short outline of its history and a few incidents of the life of the early settlers. “The early settlers of Sac, though they had the advantage of being able to try fruit raising under the protection of a considerable belt of timber, had small faith in the county as adapted to the growth of fruits. Consequently it was not until some ten or twelve years after the settlement of the county began that any attention was given to this important branch …

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Sac County Old Settlers Association

On June 1, 1877, the following list of pioneers was made out by the secretary of the “Old Settlers’ Association”, the same showing the name, date of arrival in Sac county and the age of the person, at the time they signed this register in 1877: William Montgomery, May 15, 1855, aged fifty-seven years. D. Carr Early, May 5. 1836, aged forty-seven years. Mrs. Early, May 5, 1856. Peter Basler, February 1, 1856, sixty- four years. Mrs. Mary Basler, February 1, 1856, sixty-three years. Isabella Miller, September 7, 1854, fifty-seven years. William Cory, September 7, 1854, thirty-six years. Enoch Ross, …

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1868 History: Morgan – Union Townships, Harrison County, Iowa

Morgan Township Morgan Township has been included under the organization of Raglan, and formed a part until the 1st of January, 1868, at which time the previous petition, it was organized as Morgan Township. Morgan lies west of Raglan and on the Missouri River, four by five miles in extent, and contains a good timber and farming land. Mondamin is the name of a new town laid off on the U.P. & S.C. Rail Road, and bids fair to be a good trading and shipping point. The first settlers of this township were E. J. Hagerman, D. W. Fletcher, I. …

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1868 History: Jackson – Little Sioux Townships, Harrison County, Iowa

Jackson Township The soldier river enters this township in the north-east corner, and leaves it about the middle of the south side. About its early settlement I know but little’ but this I do know, that its inhabitants at present are good working class of people, and that the township is composed of good and fertile land, a large portion of which is as yet in a state of nature, awaiting the plow of the farmer. LaGrange Township In 1848 while the western part of Iowa was comparatively little known, and generally considered a worthless pain, the Latter-day Saints (or …

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1868 Harrison – Jefferson Townships, Harrison County, Iowa

Harrison Township Harrison Township is the northeastern township of Harrison County. Timber in this township is not over abundant, the groves being small; but since it is surrounded by groves on all sides it cannot suffer for timber. Through it flows the beautiful Boyer’s healthy water. The Boyer is a small river, and one of the best streams for mills and water powers in the west. Springs abound in abundance, and a healthier climate or purer water cannot be found anywhere. In the latter part of 1856, or the beginning of 1857, three settlers located here and built themselves temporary …

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1868 Lincoln - Magnolia Townships, Harrison County, Iowa 1

1868 Lincoln – Magnolia Townships, Harrison County, Iowa

Lincoln Township The first settlement commenced in Lincoln Township was some time during the year 1857. James Sellick, Hiram Moore and Henry Hushaw, were among the first who broke the sod in this township and as evidence of their appreciation of the place they located, they have remained there ever since, and are now prosperous farmers. Timber is rather scarce, there not being more than one section in the whole township. The groves are Four Mile, Cockran’s and Selleck’s Grove. The first school house was built in w1860, and there are now two good school houses, in which are taught …

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