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History of Cass Co. 1877

IRANISTAN.

THE PIONEER TOWN OF THE COUNTY.

The village was on Indian creek, two and-a-half miles west of the present town of Lewis. During the years 1851-2-3-4, it was the trading point for the county, although at various times during those years, and in fact almost all the time, there was one or more small stores at Indiantown. The towns were only a mile and-a-half apart, but Iranistan having been started first held the sway. In 1853 Peter Hedges kept a tavern in Iranistan; W. C. Croff run a blacksmith shop; Leander McCarthy, of Winterset, and Bradshaw & Ball conducted general stores, with small stocks; Hi Barnes, who was the pioneer gambler of the county, and very successful, kept a saloon and grocery; J. Tague also kept a grocery; and if we mistake not T. J. Byrd kept a grocery there at that time. Iranistan was a regular frontier place. It was "fast" in all that that word implies. The town was inhabited by a set of jolly fellows. They were perhaps ignorant of many of the ways of cussedness invented since then, but they were thoroughly posted, up to the date at which they lived. Hi Barnes' saloon was the popular resort, and Hiram was the chief among them. The back room of his little saloon was fitted for gambling purposes, and many a traveler westward bound for the land of gold left that little room a poorer and sadder man. Barnes was a "sport" in every respect. He could out-run or out-jump any man in the settlement, and was ready for a foot-race or a trial at jumping with any settler or any stranger at any time, for any amount of money. One or two instances may be cited to show the excessively frontier style of the place. In the Summer of 1853, a young school teacher, who happened along that way, was accidentally drowned near the mill dam on Indian Creek. The body was recovered after considerable search and was robbed of quite a sum of money, which it was known the young man possessed. Then the body was left in the water, tied with a rope to prevent it from floating away, while a lot of half-drunken fellows made, or tried to make, a coffin, with a saw and a hatchet, in the back room of a saloon. John R. Kirk visited Iranistan that day for th first time, having been in the county but a short time,and says he remarked to his brother-in-law, R. D. McGeehon, who was with him that if that was a specimen of the civilization which prevailed in Cass county, he would ahve to go back to Illinois. He did not go back however, but soon became convinced that the Iranistan roughs were not fair specimens of the county's citizenship. On a Sunday afternoon during the same Summer, a traveling preacher undertook to expound the Gospel to the Iranistanites. The only place he could get to speak in, was Hi Barnes' saloon. While he spoke in the main part of the saloon to a number of listeners, the gambling tables were in full operation in the little room. When the preacher had gotten well warmed up to his theme a young man tossed a roulette ball out of the door of the little room, striking the minister exactly between the eyes. Such playfulness was too much for the minister. His sermon was broken off abruptly. He mounted his horse and cantered eastward. He was a stranger in the county and was never known to be in Iranistan afterward. Eli Watson informs us that the first Sunday that he was in the county was in April, 1852. He visited Indiantown and Iranistan on that day. At the "Botna river, where the Lewis bridge is now, he found a man preaching to a small number of people; at Indiantown he found Flan Cranney (who was the dancing master) with his class out "hoeing it down" enthusiastically if not artisically, while Sam Peets played the violin; at Iranistan he found Hi Barnes' saloon full of men playing all kinds of games at cards, from "old sledge" to "cut-throat" euchre.

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. 13-15.
Transcribed for Cass County by Cheryl Siebrass, July, 2013.

 
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