Early Calhoun County History
Transcriber's Note: The earliest settlers described in this article settled along the Raccoon River 4 miles southwest of Lake City. In the first sentence a reference is made to the Carseaddon farm. This spelling may not be exact. On the 1884 plat map, find a farm one mile west of Lake City with another hard to read name that looks like Carskaddon. In the article, reference is made to Big Grove or Grant City. This is just a few miles west of the Calhoun County line. Cass County, Michigan is in the southwest corner. Paw Paw Illinois is in northeast Lee County.
John Condron and Wm. Impson came to Calhoun county together, a short time after Mr. Comstock, and stopped for a time on the south side of his claim, on a part of what is now the Carseaddon farm. They afterwards located in section 22-86-34 and on which place near the Oxenford mill Mr. Impson did the second breaking done in the county. This location included the N. R. Hutchinson farm. During the year 1855 Mr. lmpson built a short distance north of the N. R. Hutchinson farm house, a small log cabin in which he carried on the business of blacksmithing for nearly two years and was of course entitled to rank as the pioneer blacksmith of Calhoun county. The two families remained together during most of the time they resided in the county, until finally, about the year 1856, Mr. Condron moved to near Grant City or Big Grove as it was then called where he lived until the time of his death which took place June 10, 1877. His faithful wife following him three years later.
John Condron was born in the year 1808 in Monroe county, state of Pennsylvania, emigrated to Columbus Ohio, while young, then went to Hancock county, Ohio, in 1830 on a hunting expedition where he remained five years, in which county he was married to Mary Williams. He emigrated to Michigan in the year 1835 where he lived until 1854, when he came to Iowa in company with his six children and son-in-law, Mr. Impson, arrived in Calhoun County as above mentioned. Mr. Condron was an expert hunter and trapper and took great delight in fishing. Game and the fur animals being so plentiful, he expressed himself as being in his element and much pleased with the county in every way. He was understood by those who knew him to be intelligent, honorable, straight-forward and generous. The stranger always found a welcome and shelter at his dwelling and shared in his hospitality. Living a consistent Christian life, his works live after him in the memory of those who knew him.
"Honor and fame from no condition rise, Act well your part, there all the honor lies."
Wm. Impson sold his interest in the claim on section 16-86-34 to W. Ripley in 1857 and moved to Grant City, where he has carried on the business of blacksmithing most of the time since. Mr. Impson was married to Ellen J. Condron in the state of Michigan in the year of 1846, immigrating to this county in 1854. He with John Condron were the second in order of the pioneers of the county, building the second log cabin and doing the second breaking. Mr. Impson is a man of sterling qualities, as a citizen he is held in high esteem by his fellows, with a host of warm friends as neighbors. The departure of this worthy family in 1856 for Big Grove, or Grant City, was greatly regretted by his pioneer neighbors, the ties of friendship having become almost sacred by the privations of frontier life and a constant commingling with each other.
Wm. and John Oxenford, Alford White and John White left Cass county, Michigan, in the fall of 1854 for Iowa. Their conveyance consisted of two horse teams and one extra horse. They halted for some time at Paw Paw, Illinois, and spent the time in grouse hunting and other amusements. Finally came on by way of Dixon to Fulton and crossed the Mississippi on a boat so small that but one team could be ferried over at a time.
Came from there by way of Iowa City to Des Moines where they halted for the winter with a former Cass county man by the name of Webster, and who in company with the male members of the company, came on up to Calhoun county and arrived at Peter Smith's late in the afternoon about three days after leaving Des Moines.
Wm. Oxenford bought the land which has since been known as the Henry Sifford place. Alford White bought the land now owned by Cyrus Fulkerson and the J. L. Tompkins farm.
The company went back to Des Moines for the winter, when Alford White Returned to Michigan and purchased a King of the West threshing machine in which Wm. Oxenford was interested. This machine was shipped to Rock Island and from there hauled by teams to Polk county where the first job of threshing was done with it for Peter Mormon and Jesse Mormon a short distance north-east of where Mitchelville now is. This threshing machine was finally brought to Calhoun county in the year 1857 and flourished with great eclat and without competitors until 1860, when the second one was brought to the county by E.M. Reynolds. It may be mentioned that the railroads were being built into Iowa, for Mr. Reynold machine was shipped to him at Iowa City. Previous to the arrival of the first thresing machine grain was tramped out with horses.
The parties mentioned above moved their families up from Des Moines early in the spring of 1855 and immediately commenced improving their new farms. Wm. Oxenford remained on his farm until 1858, when he went into partnership with Christian Smith and purchased the mill on Coon River in the year 185?. Christian Smith sold his interest to Oxenford Bros. who, with varying fortune, have conducted and managed the same until the present time. During this time many losses were met and overcome, notably a complete destruction of the property, including one thousand bushels of wheat by the flood which came in the spring of 1866. During the summer however they rebuilt and were ready for operation again by the first of December following. The waterwheel and part of material was shipped to them at Glidden. In bringing the water-wheel from Glidden, the team was swamped in crossing a slough and the load remained there six weeks before it was gotten out.
This mill sawed the lumber for the first frame house erected in the county which was a store building 16x24 built by Peter Smith and David Reed in the fall of 1856. This store building was the first house erected in Lake City. Wm. Oxenford joined the company that went north at the time of the Indian massacre at Spirit Lake during the winter of 1856-7. He went through some hardships from fatigue and severely cold weather but came back without having seen an Indian.
During the fall or winter of 1855-6 and among the accessions to the population of the county was Chas. Amy, a man who on account of his scholarly qualifications, knowledge of county government, proficiency as an accountant, knowledge of book-keeping and business matters generally, filled, within the line for which his qualifications were most specially adapted, and for a period of twelve years, a position the most important of any man among those early pioneers.
Charles Amy was born in one of the New England States from where he came to Logan county, Ohio, in early life and followed the profession of teaching for many years. During the ten or twelve years of his residence in Ohio he was known as a peaceable and morally conscientious man with scholarly attainments of more than ordinary character, and withal the credit of being famous as a mathematician. Mr. Amy emigrated to Cass county, Michigan, about the year 1846 where he followed the profession of teaching most of the time until the year 1855 when he came to Calhoun county where he resided until the time of his death which took place August 24, 1874.