Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


1882 Crawford County History

In May, 1849, Cornelius Dunham, of Jackson county, Iowa, brought Franklin Prentice and his wife to the county, and left them at the place known as Dunham's Grove on East Boyer River, about six miles east of the present town of Denison. Mr. Prentice built a cabin for Dunham, who came with his family in the autumn of the same year, accompanied also by a man named Reuben Blake. This was the first settlement in Crawford County. The same year, Prentice took a claim at the mouth of Otter Creek, on Boyer River, near Mason's Grove.

The next settlers were Jesse Mason and family, and George J. and Noah V. Johnson, all of whom came in June. 1850, and settled at Mason's Grove, In the autumn of this year, Levi Skinner and Calvin Horr settled at the same place.

The next settler was Thomas Dobson, in the spring of 1851, who also settled in the vicinity of Mason's Grove. In the autumn of 1853, Edward Howorth, with his sons, Edward and Daniel, located at a place called Three Bee Tree Grove, in the southwest part of the county, not far from the present thriving town of Dunlap.

In 1854, the settlement at Mason's Grove received the following additional members: Benjamin Dobson, A. R. Hunt, D. J. Fowler, Clark Winans, B. F. Wicks and E. W. Fowler.

During the same year Benjamin Dobson erected the first saw mill at this place, and the following persons located in other parts of the county: John Gilbreath, John R. Bassett, and Moses and Daniel Riddle, at Coon Grove, four miles south of the present town of Denison; Mathias Didra, at Buck Grove, in the southern part of the county: Charles Kennedy and Robert D. Butterworth, at Three Bee Tree Grove, and William H. Jordan, at Lost Grove, near the present town of Crawford, on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.

John A. Dunham and Rufus Richardson came the same year. Those mentioned were all the settlers in the county up to 1855, during the spring of which year the following came: Reuben and John Vore, S. C. Dow, S. J. Comfort, Cyrus B. Whitmore, John Poordy, Isaac B. Goodrich, S. B. Greek, S. S. Sisley, John Sisley, Edward Van Vleet, James Slater and H. C. Laub. The last named settled at Mason's Grove, and the others in various places in the county.

In 1856, there were but few additions to the settlers, the following, with their families, it is believed, comprising all: George C. King, William J. Todd, John B. Huckstep, Edwin Cadwell, Tracy Chapman, Morris McHenry, Esau McKim, and Joseph Brodgen, all of whom located at Mason's Grove; and R. B. Alexander, S. Bell, B. B. Bishop and William Wilkie, who settled in the southern and southwestern parts of the county.

Hon. J. W. Denison came to the county in the autumn of 1855, and during that year and the next, selected a quantity of land for the Providence Western Land Company, and in September, 1856, commenced the settlement of the town of Denison. He brought with him Francis Reynolds and John B. Swain, who erected a steam saw and grist mill in the new town.

The first births in the county were David and George Jesse Mason, twin sons of Jesse and Eliza Ann Mason, born in 1852. The first marriage ceremonies took place at Mason's Grove, October 12th, 1853, at which time and place Rev. Thomas Dobson united in marriage George J. Johnson and Elizabeth Ann Mason, Noah V. Johnson and Jane Mason, Calvin Borr and Elizabeth Mowery. The first death was that of John A. Dunham, in the winter of 1854-5.

The first entry of Government land was made August 21st, 1854, by John Gilbreath. The first school house erected was at Mason's Grove, in the autumn of 1856, in which Morris McHenry taught the first school, a term of three and one half months, commencing November 4th, 1856. The first sermon was preached Sunday, October 19th, 1856, by Rev. William Black, of the M. E. Church, and the same day, after the sermon, the first religious society was organized, with seven members, as follows: George C. King, Mrs. E. R. King, O. S. Wright, Tabitha Wright, John B. Huckstep, Martha A. Huckstep, and Rufus Richardson.

The first Sunday School was organized at Mason's Grove, under the auspices of the M. E. Church, with twenty pupils, on the 7th day of January, 1857, George C. King being the Superintendent. The first lawyer was S. J. Comfort, who was also the first acting Prosecuting Attorney, Dr. David McWilliams was the first physician.

Up to April, 1855, Crawford County was attached to Shelby for civil purposes. At the April election of that year the following county officers were elected: E. W. Fowler, County Judge; Thomas Dobson, Clerk; A. R. Hunt, Treasurer and Recorder; D. J. Fowler, Sheriff; Isaac B. Goodrich, School Fund Commissioner; Cyrus Whitmore, Prosecuting Attorney; Samuel Kennedy, Surveyor; L.S. Kinner, Coroner; John R. Bassett, Drainage Commissioner. At this time there was but one election precinct in the county, all the votes being cast at Coon Grove, in what is now Denison Township.

New county officers were chosen at the following Augnst election, at which time John R. Bassett was elected County Judge. Judge Bassett transacted his first official business September 3rd, 1855, on which date he acted upon a petition for a county road, refusing to grant the petition for reasons set forth in the records as follows:

"I set the road petition aside on these grounds: In the first place, I cannot find out that there were notices as the law prescribes in three public places in the county. Secondly, the notices not agreeing with the petition. Thirdly, and the greatest objection, is that there was no one offered to enter bonds for the security of the payment of the Commissioner, providing the road was not finally located. For these objections I hereby set the road aside and pronounce not in accordance with law."

On the 3d of December of this year, the Judge, Clerk and Recorder met and reported their accounts of moneys received from August 1st to December 1st, the Judge having received $5.75; Clerk, $3.00; Recorder, $8.70. Total, $17.45. They made an equal division of the amount and appropriated it toward the payment of their salaries. William L. Henderson, having been appointed surveyor and agent to select the swamp lands, made his report December 5th, 1855, and was allowed $150 for his services.

The first estate administered upon was that of Cyrus B. Whitmore, John Vore being appointed administrator. The location of county roads constituted a large proportion of the business of the County Judge. Judge Bassett continued to serve in this capacity up to the organization of the Supervisor system.

The following persons constituted the first Board of Supervisors: Thomas Dobson, Milford Township; Henry C. Laub, Denison Township; Daniel Howorth, Union Township. Daniel Howorth was President, and S. J. Comfort, Clerk of the Board.

The Court House at Denison was completed in the autumn of 1858. It is built of brick, 30x40 feet, and two stories high. The various county offices are in the lower story, and the upper story is used as a court-room and for various public meetings. The cost of the building was about $6,000. It is located in the center of the public square, a beautiful rolling track of ground, which is enclosed by a neat fence and planted with finely growing trees. Good bridges have been erected on all the principal roads over the streams.

About five miles below Denison, in the Boyer Valley, there is a semi-circular group of ancient artificial mounds. There are about nine of them, situated on a plateau or table rising above the lower bottom. They are about five feet above the general level of the ground. Another similar group is located on the second bottom at the mouth of Paradise Creek. Human remains have been found in some of them, showing that they were burial places.

Crawford County's present population is fully 15,000. There are 458,333 acres of land in this county, the valuation of which. for 1879, was $2,747,198; for 1880, $3,752,648; value of lots, $220,590; of personal property, $458,214; of railroad property, $326,646. 'I'he property valuation for the present year is not as yet obtainable, but there are certain indications of a most highly gratifying increase. There are thirty and one-half miles of railroad in the county, and two hundred miles of telegraph wire .

The present county officers of Crawford County are: A. D. Moloney, Auditor; G. W. Heston. Clerk of Courts; L. M. Cornwell, Treasurer; M. Smith, Recorder; J. D. Jones, Sheriff; E. M. Ainsworth, Superintendent of Schools; M. McHenry, Surveyor; A. McMartin; Chairman Board of Supervisors.

Crawford County's population in 1880 was 12,413; the total vote of the county for Governor at the election of 1881, was 2,136.

Source: History of Western Iowa Western Publishing Company, 1882, Sioux City.