Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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History of Mount Vernon Township
Cerro Gordo County, Iowa

This comprises congressional township 95, range 21 west. It is bounded on the north by Lake township, on the east by Bath [township], on the south by Pleasant Valley [township] and the west by Union township. The soil of this township is of an excellent quality, producing in abundance all the crops common to this latitude. Beaver Dam creek enters the township on section 7, and flows southeast, leaving the township from section 36. In 1883 there was a large quantity of wild land in the township.


The first man to break sod in this township was Edwin NICHOLS, in 1858, at which time he broke nine acres of his present farm. He raised his first wheat in the summer of 1860. He made improvements from time to time, and in 1866 erected a house, which was the first dwelling in the township. Mr. NICHOLS did not live on the farm himself, but rented it.

Edwin NICHOLS came to Cerro Gordo county, in company with Oscar STEVENS, and brought the machinery for a steam saw mill which they established at Clear Lake. After operating the mill two seasons, Mr. NICHOLS sold his interest to Mr. STEVENS. He had, on coming to the county, purchased 400 acres of land, and, on disposing of his mill property, he gave his landed estate his undivided attention. When the rebellion shook the country to its remotest limits, Mr. NICHOLS responded to the Nation's cry for help by enlisting in company B, 32d Iowa, and after active service through three years was discharged for physical disability. He returned to Clear Lake, but impaired health precluded his engaging in any active business. He managed the improvements on his land and put it in first-class condition, and, in 1880, established his residence thereon. His farm now includes 300 acres, and is one of the most valuable and desirable homesteads in this part of Iowa. His principles are those of the democratic party.

Edwin NICHOLS was born in Massachusetts, March 7, 1827. He is a son of Charles and Fanny (COOMES) NICHOLS. They left the Bay State in 1846 and settled in Dane Co., Wis., where the father died Aug. 26, of the same year. The mother died in 1850. Of their family of eleven children, six only are living. The brothers and sisters of Mr. NICHOLS are Emmeline, Mary, Susan, John and Harriet E.

In 1852 Mr. NICHOLS connected himself with the westward tide flowing with increasing volume toward the Pacific slope, and spent two years in the mining ventures of California, meeting with signal success. His domestic history dates from May, 1856, when he was married at Portage City, Wis., to Elizabeth HENDRICKSON. Mr. and Mrs. NICHOLS have had five children Florence A., Edwin J., Charles B., (born Oct. 16, 1859, and died March 9, 1860), Charles L. and Wilfred C. Mr. NICHOLS belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic, and is a member of the Masonic fraternity.

TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: Edwin NICHOLS died November 8, 1911. Elizabeth (HENDRICKSON) NICHOLS was born March 20, 1839, and died December 24, 1916. Charles L. NICHOLS was born October 13, 1867, and died June 9, 1939. They were interred at Clear Lake Cemetery, Clear Lake, Iowa.

The next to make improvements Avas R. T. LANE, who located on section 29, in March, 1870.

Scribner CHADBONRN came from Wisconsin in 1870, and broke land on section 11, and in 1871 brought his family. In 1883 he was living at Clear Lake.

Richard T. LANE claims to be the first permanent settler in Mount Vernon township. He is a man of decided character and influence, and is warmly interested in all public or private enterprises, calculated to add to either general or individual progress. He was born in Prince Edward's Island, June 1, 1827. His parents, Joseph and Elizabeth LANE, with eleven children, came to the States in 1857, and settled in Bristol Co., Mass. His father died in 1862; his mother still lives on the homestead. Nine of the brothers and sisters of Mr. LANE are yet living Samuel, Edward, George, Philip, John, Ann, Rachel, Joseph and Herbert. Martha is dead.

Mr. LANE was married July 29, 1857, to Abbie A. CARPO. She died July 22, 1859, leaving two children, one of whom is now living Harriet. Mr. LANE was married again April 1, 1860, to Amanda R. STAPLES. Five of six children born from the second marriage are still living Abbie (Mrs. George BABCOCK), Petronella, Dora, Annie and Claudia. In 1864 Mr. LANE settled in Wisconsin, and in 1869 fixed his residence in Mount Vernon township.

TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: Amanda R. (STAPLES) LANE was born October 31, 1833, and died January 13, 1906. She was interred at Mount Vernon Cemetery, Mount Vernon Township of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa.

Following Mr. LANE came David R. BABCOCK, from Wisconsin, who settled on section 10, in 1871, where he resided until 1882, when he returned to Wisconsin. After him came John HAWKS, in 1871, locating on section 31. He afterwards sold and moved to LeMars, Iowa.

In 1872 Mr. SHAFER settled on section 31, where he was living in 1883.


June 3, 1878, the board of supervisors of Cerro Gordo county set apart the territory embraced within the limits of congressional township 95 north, range 21 west of the 5th principal meridian, and thereby organized the civil township of Mount Vernon. The first election was held at the school house located on section 11, Oct. 8, 1878, and resulted in the election of the following named officers:

Trustees, M. KENNISON, R. T. LANE and Barnard CAMPBELL; clerk, C. R. McFARLIN; assessor, Ellis BARLOW; justices of the peace, W. R. WINTER and Barnard CAMPBELL; constables, D. R. BABCOCK and William BRAY; road supervisor, C. R. McFARLIN.

When the polls were closed, the judges of election, E. O. GREGORY, R. T. LANE and C. R. McFARLIN, cast lots to decide the respective length of terms the trustees elect were to serve, and thus Barnard CAMPBELL was chosen for the term of three years, R. T. LANE two years, and M. KINNISON one year. C. R. McFARLIN was appointed to deliver the election returns to the county auditor, which was done on the 9th day of October, 1878.

The first assessment showed the valuation of real estate to be $113,039, and personal property amounted to $5,943.

At the election held Oct. 14, 1879, the following officers were elected:

Trustee, M. KINNISON; clerk, Z. QUINCY; assessor, H. HARMON; justice of the peace, David SULLIVAN and constable, Joseph BARLOW.

The officers for 1833 are: Trustees, R. T. LANE, M. SCHOW and Francis LATHAM; clerk, C. R. McFARLIN and assessor, H. HARMON. The persons elected justices of the peace and constables refused to qualify.


The first marriage was that of George BABCOCK to Abbie A. LANE. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Milton FRANKLIN.

The first birth in the township was Anna, daughter of R. and Amanda LANE, born June 25, 1874.

The first death occurred in the spring of 1874. It was the wife of Jonathan BROWN. The next death was Mary, a daughter of David R. BABCOCK, who died in the fall of 1874.


The first school in Mount Vernon township was taught in R. T. LANE'S house, by Mrs. R. T. LANE, in 1869. The only pupils that term were Harriet L., Abbie A. and Petronellia LANE, the children of the teacher. This was when Mr. LANE lived on the NICHOLAS farm. The second term taught, Mrs. LANE was again the teacher, at their own house on section 29. Here there were four pupils, two of Mrs. LANE'S children and two of Samuel JOHNSON'S.

The first school building was built on the section line between sections 2 and 3. This was erected in 1872, at a cost of about $400. The work was done by Oscar STEVENS. The first teacher here was Miss Henrietta SIRRINE.


The Methodists organized a society in this township at an early date, holding meetings at the CHAPMAN school house. The meetings were at first conducted by Rev. Thomas FORBER. In 1883 the organization had been abandoned.

"Mount Vernon Township." History of Franklin and Cerro Gordo Counties, Iowa. Chapt. XXXI. Pp. 908-10. Union Pub. Co. Springfield IL. 1883.

Additional information from WPA Graves Survey and cemetery transcriptions

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2011



  • 1895 Mt. Vernon Township Plat Map

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