FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP (CONT'D).
THE TOWN OF WIOTA.
The site of the town of Wiota is a beautiful rolling prairie, and although the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad passed this point in 1868 a station was not located until 1872. In the latter year the town was fairly launched, its site being mostly owned by Frank H. Whitney. The plat is not recorded until November 13, 1877, and then the owners are set forth as Hoyt Sherman, assignee of B. F. Allen in bankruptcy, and F. H. Whitney. On the 20th of August, 1878, Mr. Whitney filed for record an addition to the town which is known by his name. The town is laid out on the northwest quarter of section 9, and covers about sixty acres.
THE FIRST BUILDINGS ERECTED
The first building erected on the site of the town was a dwelling house, completed in 1872 and located just east of the hotel. The second building to be occupied by the townspeople was moved to Wiota from Atlantic, by Frank Whitney. It arrived, in fair shape, in the winter of 1872-3, and was used by
Robert T. Young as a place to store grain. It was an incipient grain warehouse, or elevator, and Mr. Young had commenced to buy grain at this point in the preceding December, having thereby established himself as the first business man of Wiota. He continued in the business until February, 1884, by that time being the owner of a sure-enough elevator. In 1873 he also established a lumber and coal trade, which he conducted for many years. He bought and shipped the first live-stock, and was not only the pioneer business man of the place, but, for years, its most enterprising citizen. Mr. Young was a Pennsylvanian, but came from Illinois to Iowa.
V. M. Lahman was Wiota's first general merchant, and in August, 1875, established his business in the building afterward occupied by Ambrose Ostrander. After engaging in the general merchandise business for about three years Mr. Lahman opened a bank.
Mr. Ostrander, mentioned above, was a man far above the average. In his early years, while living in New York, he taught school and prepared himself for the ministry of the Methodist Church. He also taught in Michigan and Missouri, and, although his health failed and he was obliged to engage in mercantile lines, he kept his church career always in mind, and when he came to Wiota in 1879 had been appointed a local minister of the M. E. Church.
The first hardware store in town was established by Spurrier & Clure, in 1876, but Mr. Clure soon retired and the former (W. E. Spurrier) continued the business alone for many years. Thomas B. Scott was the pioneer boot and shoe dealer, starting his business in February, 1883, and Martin Rorah, a well-to-do farmer southeast of town and owner of considerable property in Wiota, was the first to open an exclusive grocery store (in September, 1879).
The pioneer blacksmith of Wiota was T. M. Woodson, who set up a shop here in 873. Five years later Joseph Turner, an Englishman and brother of James R. Turner, both of whom had been farming on section 3 since the early 'sixties, became a resident of Wiota and opened an establishment for general blacksmithing. In the early 'eighties he became mayor of the town. He then lived in one of the finest residences in the place, and was considered one of its most worthy and substantial citizens.
The postoffice at Wiota was established in 1873, and Oliver Coomes was commissioned its first postmaster. The first fraternal lodge was Wiota No. 346, I. O. O. F., which was organized April 20, 1876, by J. P. James, P. G., of Anita, with the following charter members: Oliver Coomes, P. G.; James Kempley, W. W. McClure, Theodore Jones, Joseph Turner, Hamilton Hemphill, George Ragan, James Morgan, Albert Beason and Nathaniel Bruyn.
Wiota was incorporated as a town in the spring of 1884, with the following officers: Joseph Turner, mayor; T. L. Malone, recorder; G. C. Hornby, marshal; T. B. Scott, street commissioner; William Christie, Jr., D. D. Hunt, I A. Boyd, William Chambers, John Irwin and E. O. Whitmore, Town Council. Although not among the largest towns in the county, Wiota now contains about 300 people, and is thrifty and growing. Her schools are especially good, being divided into eleven grades, of which three form the high school. The average enrollment is about 100 pupils. Wiota has a flourishing M. E. church, of some sixty members, which was organized in 1886.
"Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pp. 170-172.
Transcribed by Cheryl Siebrass, April, 2012.