Home > History Home > 1877 History Home
History of Cass Co. 1877


The town bearing the above name, was situated three miles east of the place where Atlantic now is. It was surveyed and platted in 1856, by David A. Barnett, Albert Wakefield, John R. Kirk, A. G. McQueen, Addison P. Thayer, V. M. Conrad, John P. Wheeler, and E. W. Davenport. It was established for speculative purposes and doubtless when it was first staked out, with its broad streets with their big names, and with its parks and public square, it was, by its proprietors, looked upon as a big bonanza. It is fair to presume that its projectors sawin the dim distance, a county-seat, with a fine court house and other public buildings. The town was located on a beautiful piece of land, but circumstances prevented it from enriching its proprietors.

A. T. Drake kept a very small stock of goods in the place in the year 1856. He retiredfrom trade after a brief experience, to engage in the hotel business. Mr. Drake built the house that is at this time known as the "old hotel."

Rev. William Douthat, an aged Presbyterian preacher, started a select school at Grove City, sometime in the year 1859. It was his intention to try to build up a college at that point. He sold scholarships in the usual way, and many of the prominent citizens of the county, Samuel L. Lorah, D. A. Barnett, John R. Kirk, R. D. McGeehon, and K. W. Macomber, among the number, purchased scholarships, and aided the venerable educator so far as they could. Mr. Douthat was a man of finished education, a good teacher but was somewhat eccentric in manner. He conducted his school, or embryo college, two years-and-a=half, when he became discouraged and abandoned the project, and returned to Pennsylvania, where he has, from that time to the present, preached the strictest Presbyterian doctrine, unmixed with the popular mildness in touching up erring sinners, which has prevailed to some extent. While Mr. Douthat conducted the school at Grove City, he very often preached in that place and in other parts of the county, but he talked to the unregenerate, in language, too plain to be popular. The room in which he conducted his school was a small log cabin that stood on D. A. Barnett's farm, and which is still in a good state of preservation, although it is at present used for a granary. James S. Barnett, and Henry K. Macomber, mere lads then, were among the old professor's pupils, and lively students there were, we do not doubt.

The post office at Grove City was establishedin 1857, and was called Turkey Grove, for the reason that there was another Grove City in the State. Mrs. David A. Barnett was the first postmistress; Wm. Curry (now of Des Moines) succeeded Mrs. Barnett, and was the first postmaster; A. T. Drake kept it a while and was succeeded by R. D. McGeehon, who was postmaster during the years of the war. Mrs. Albert Wakefield had charge of the office when it was discontinued in 1869.

James Jarvis, who does not now reside in the county, was the first blacksmith in the place.

Miss Mary Curry, (now Mrs. Seaman) taught the first school in the Grove City settlement in 1857. She taught in a little house on John R. Kirk's farm, and that little house still has an existence.

Dr. D. Findley, now of Atlantic, was the first physician to locate in Grove City -- settling in that place in 1861. He remained but a few months, going from that place to Lewis, where he resided until 1873, when he removed to Atlantic. The second physician was Dr. Morris Hoblit, who is now dead. The third was Dr. Geo. S. Montgomery, who settled there in 1863, and remained until Atlantic was born in 1869, when he located here, and engaged in the drug business.

The principal hotel in Grove City was built by John R> Kirk, in the year 1856. Mr. Kirk conducted the hotel until 1857, when he was succeeded by A. T. Drake,who was succeeded by D. A. Barnett. Mr. Barnett was succeeded by Mr. Leech, who was followed by A. C. Tharp. Mr. Tharp sold to James Tumbleson, who moved the house to Atlantic in 1869.
< br /> George Conrad came to the county in 1855. In 1860 he opened the first regular store in Grove City. Hisfirst stock cost him less than fifty dollars in Council Bluffs. His first counter was a walnut slab. His first sale was a paper of soda, for which he received fifteen cents. During the first year his stock averaged from $200 to $300. Mr. Conrad's progress from that small beginning, will compare favorably with that of the most successful business men.

R. D. McGeehon opened a store in 1862, and conducted it until the establishment of Atlantic, when he followed the tide and removed to the new railroad city. McGeehon and Conrad conducted the only stores in the place, until the railroad excitement of 1869 brought in others.

At the March term, 1857, of the county court, E. W. Davenport acting as County Judge, A. G. McQueen, R. D. McGeehon, and 112 others, presented a petition praying the court to submit to the voters of Cass county, at the April election, 1857, the question of the removal of the county-seat from Lewis to Grove City, according to provisions of chapter 46 of the session laws of the General Assembly of Iowa, for the year 1855. At the same time came S. M. Tucker and one hundred and sixty-three others, with a remonstrance asking that the question be not submitted to a vote of the people. Judge Davenport refused to grant the prayer of the petitioners, because the remonstrance contained the greater number of names.

The Grove City folks stuck to their text, however, and in 1858, they petitioned the County Judge, Lorah, who ordered a vote on the question of removal. The vote occurred in October of that year, and Grove City was defeated.

A Methodist church was built in the place, which is mentioned in the chapter on churches.

In 1868, when the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad was being built across the county, it was the general impression that Grove City would be a station and a good one. Believing this, a number of business houses were opened in the place that year. Among the new comers, were J. W. Winslow, dealer in dry goods, (now of the firm of Winslow & Parker, Atlantic); G. W. Norton, (now of Atlantic mill); P. Kirby, dealer in boots and shoes; P. Carney, liquor dealer; Kaufman & Co., clothiers; Montgomery & Wynkoop, druggists; J. H. Barnwell, physician; C. F. Loofbourow, attorney at law. All of these citizens removed to Atlantic when it was demonstrated that Grove City was not to be made a station on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. They, however, joined with the land owners, about the place, in making resistance to the establishment of a station where Stlantic is, and only succumbed when all hope of a station at their town was gone.

During the progress of the work on the railroad, and before the road had passed that place, Grove City was a lively village.

The first man hanged in the county was swung to a locust tree near Grove City, by a mob, in 1868. His name was Mike Kelley, and he had killed a man by the name of Tom Curran in a saloon in the town. Kelley had had his preliminary examination before Esquire J. L. Smith, and had been bound over to the district court. Then the night after the conclusion of the trial, a mob took him by force from Constable Lew Bigelow, and his assistant, Tom Jordan, who were guarding him, and hanged him, as stated. The members of the mob were masked. The killing of Curran is said to have been unprovoked.

Grove City, at present, has no business houses, all her business men having removed to Atlantic so soon as the fate of their own town was known in 1868. There are, however, at the town site, a Methodist church and a good school house.

Dr. John Welsh, was the first physician in the county. He located at Iranistan in 1853, and remained about a year.

F. E. Ball, built the mill on Indian creek at Iranistan in 1853, and the same year sold the mill and the Iranistan site to Stephen T. Carey, of Council Bluffs. For the forty acres on which the town was laid out, Carey paid $500. The plat of Iranistan was recorded in 1854. Nelson T. Spoor, (a to John A. Spoor, of Washington township) bought an interest in the mill and town in 1854. Carey died in 1854, and the mill and town site passed into the hands of Wm. N. Dickerson, a man by the name of Jones and others. The mill was the first one in the county, and was of great service in furnishing the pioneers with lumber. It has changed hands often since its construction andis now changed to a grist mill, and is owned by Mr. Oster.

Job Haworth kept a store in Iranistan, in an early day, selling out in 1855 to H. B. Jolly, who departed not long after buying the store,to the regret of some creditors.

O. O. Turner kept a grocery in Iranistan in 1853.

Sam Peets, Caleb Brown, and Wm. Cadwell, were the first carpenters to locate in the county. The two first named were fiddlers, and furnished the music (of both the chin and strong variety) for all the pioneer dances, and for Flan Cranney's dancing school as well.

Iranistan was a frontier, mushroom village, subsisting on the patronage of the emigrants. Its existence was of but a few years, but the merchants and saloon keepers made money for a while very rapidly. One man who sold whisky in the place in the Summer of 1853, informs us that in three months he cleared five hundred dollars in gold, and he thinks that if the liquor he sold tended to shorten the livesof the class of emigrants then going through, it did no great harm.

The town had two good-sized hotels in 1853-4-5 which did a large and flourishing business. One was kept by the Buckwalter Brothers, and still stands being occupied by J. B. Gouery as a residence.

From the History of Cass County, Iowa Together With Brief Mention of Old Settlers
by Lafe Young, Atlantic, Iowa:  Telegraph Steam Printing House, 1877, pp. 17-20.
Transcribed for Cass County by Cheryl Siebrass, July, 2013.

Site Terms, Conditions & Disclaimer
Home > Top