Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


1882 Vail History

The prosperous and progressive community of Vail is located about six miles west of the eastern line of the county, and was laid out in the summer of 1871. The town-site is owned by the Blair Town Lot and Land Company, and by other parties, who have made additions thereto. The surrounding country, for a distance of twenty miles north and south, tributary to Vail, is of a most excellent quality.

Vail was incorporated in the spring of 1875. The first Mayor was Josiah McHenry, who was succeeded by the following in order: W. W. Anderton, Josiah McHenry, A. D. Young, F. B. Huckstep, the latter of whom is the present incumbent.

The following are the present town officers: F. B. Huckstep, Mayor; J. S. Nesbit, Recorder; E. Ryan, Treasurer; M. McGrath, Marshal; Thomas Ryan, Street Commissioner; J. P. Fitch, A. L. Strong, J. H. Barrett, E. Darling, E. B. Bannister, John Cousins, Councilmen.

Dr. James De Wolf, the present postmaster, and who came to Vail in the autumn of 1870, was the first bona fide settler of the town. He erected a store-building and warehouse where the postoffice now stands. He also "broke" some land, and in return for a car-load of wheat raised thereon, obtained the first stock of goods that were placed on sale in the town.

John Liddle started a blacksmith shop in Vail in 1871. During the winter of 1870-7l, there was nobodv on the present town-site of Vail, save Mr. De Wolf, his son John, and the trackhands employed upon the railroad.

The depot building was erected in the summer of 1871, but no agent was located therein until September, 1872. George Head was the first depot agent.

In the summer of 1872, the following engaged in business at Vail: J. F. Powers, furniture; L. P. Mooney, general merchandise; E. B. Bannister, hardware; Mrs. E. B. Bannister, millinery.

The next year Greenough & Bullock, of Denison, established a branch drug store at Vail. Josiah McHenry built the first hotel in the autumn of 1872. Since 1873, there has been a steady and constant growth, until at the present time it is safe to estimate the population of the town at from seven to eight hundred.

A classified summary of the business establishments is as follows; General stores, four; grocery, one; hotels, two; livery, three; blacksmith shops, four; wagon shops, two; drug stores, three; shoe shops, three; paint shop, one; printing office, one; hardware, three; agricultural implement depots, three; grain elevators, three; flouring mill, one; lumber yards, two; butter and egg depot, one; restaurants, two; jewelry, one; banks, two; barber shop, one; insurance agencies, two; real estate and loan, three; lawyers, three; physicians, three; meat markets, two; stock dealers, two; machine shop, one; grain dealers, four; furniture, two; harness shops, two; brickyard, one; brewery, one; saloons, four; millinery stores, two; coal dealers, four.

G. A. W. Davison started the Crawford County Observer in May, 1878, and after conducting it about year and a half, sold to J. Otto Engstrom, The paper was started as a six-column folio and was all printed at the home office; subsequently it was changed to an eight-column folio and published on the co-operative plan.

In the spring of 1880, Engstrom sold the paper to Gregg & Roberts, the latter of whom became sole proprietor in the autumn of the same year, and continued to conduct it until his death, in the spring of 1881, when his father, J. H. Roberts, Sr., ran it for a short time, and then disposed of it to H. C. Ford.

Mr. Davison repurchased the paper October 1st, 1881. and is the present editor and proprietor. The Observer is now a five-column quarto, is independent in politics, has a circulation of 500, and is one of Western Iowa's neatest and newsiest weekly publications.

John Short, of Boone County, started the Vail Flouring Mills in 1875. He was assisted by liberal subscriptions from the citizens in the establishment of the enterprise. The building is of three stories in addition to the basement, has four run of stone, and a steel buhr for grinding feed. It also has a grain sheller and elevator in connection. There are, besides, two more steam elevators in Vail, one owned by Benson & Wagner, of Chicago, the other bv J. P. Fitch, The flouring mill is filled with the very best and latest improved machinery, and turns out a grade of flour of unusual excellence.

The Citizens' Bank is located in the post office building, and is conducted by J. H. DeWolf. The Traders' Bank, on the corner of Warren and Passaic streets, is owned by Messrs. Maynard & Price. Both banks are doing an extensive and prosperous business.

The postoffice at Vail was established in May, 1871. The first Postmaster was Martin Hale Smith, in whose name the office was conducted a year or more, when he was succeeded by Dr. James De Wolf, who has continued in office ever since. It was made a money order office in October, 1877.


Methodist Episcopal Society. - This society has been organized a number of years, and is in a flourishing condition. The new church edifice, a neat and substantial structure, was dedicated Sunday, February 26th, of the present year, by Bishop Hurst. The building has a seating capacity of about 300. A largely attended Sabbath School has heen organized, of which Mrs. A. A. Shesler is Superintendent; Miss Eva Gilman, Secretary; John J. Haas, Librarian.

Presbyterian Sodety. - The organization of this society was at an early date in the history of the town. The church building was begun in the autumn of 1877, and cost about $2,300. It was dedicated in May, 1878. The society was organized by Rev. Geo. R. Carroll, and Rev. W. H. Cuskey was the first minister in charge. Rev. S. C. Head is the present pastor. The church edifice is 30x46 feet in dimensions. The erection of a parsonage at an early date is contemplated. The Sabbath School has an attendance of from sixty to seventy pupils. Dr. James De Wolf is the Superintendent.

Grace Episcopal Mission. - Organized January 3d, 1876, by Rev. F. T. Webb, of Council Bluffs. Services are for the present held in the M. E. Church edifice. The society will erect a suitable building during the current year. Rev. C. S. Fackenthall is the present pastor, number of communicants is eighteen.

The Catholic Church Society. - This Parish has a large and constantly increasing membership, Unfortunately, the church edifice, a commodious frame structure, was blown down by a windstorm in the autumn of 1881. Nothing daunted, however, the congregation has formed plans for the erection of a new church building, which will be in every respect highly creditable, both to the members of the Parish and to the community in general. The proposed new building will be erected during the present year, will be of brick, and will probably cost from seven to eight thousand dollars. Rev. Fathcr M. C. Lenahan is the present Rector of this Parish.

Swedish Lutheran Society: - At present this society, as an organization, may he said to he "without form and void," but matters are rapidly taking shape, and it is expected that during the present year a society of this denomination will be organized in Vail, there being many of this particular faith in the town and vicinity.

Vail Public Schools. - The independent school district of Vail was organized in the spring of 1870. The first Board of Directors were: J. P. Fitch, L. P. Mooney, E. Darling. E. M. Ainsworth was the first Principal, in which capacity he has been continued until the time of present writing. The first school in Vail was taught in the winter of 1871-2, the school house having been built during the previous summer.

Miss Mary De Wolf, now Mrs. A. L. Strong, was the first teacher. She was succeeded by her brother, J. H. De Wolf. The first Sub-Director for this District was William Bennett, who was succeeded by Dr. De Wolf, and he by George Head. The present school house was erected in 1877, and has cost not less than $3,000. Its dimensions are 40x50 feet; it is two stories high, and has three departments.

The present corps of teachers are: E. M. Ainsworth, Principal; Miss Mattie Snodgrass, Intermediate; Miss Mollie Snodgrass, Primary. The total enrollment is 195; the average attendance, 145.

The present Board of Education is: J. P. Fitch, President; J. McHenry, L. P. Mooney, C. H. Britton, James McAndrews, J. S. Nesbit, Secretary; C. E. Price, Treasurer. Prof. E. M. Ainsworth, who has been engaged in teaching in Vail for the past seven years, having been elected County Superintendent of Schools, will retire in April of this year, and he succeeded. hy William Stephens. The Vail schools have an excellent reputation for thoroughness and efficiency.

Diamond Lodge, U. D., A. F. & A. M. - The first regular meeting was held January 3d, 1882. There were twenty-two charter members. The officers are as follows: E. Darling, W. M.; C. E. Price, S., W.; H. Robbins, J. W.; W. L. Leland, S. D.; C. Priest, J. D.; J. E. Edgar. Secretary; J. F. Long, Treasurer. The membership is twenty-two. Meetings are held in Odd Fellows' Hall Tuesday evening of each month, on or before the full moon.

Vail Lodge No. 430, I. O. O. F. - Instituted August 22d, 1881. Charter members: W. L. Leland, J. B. Kmg, T. W. Butler, E. B. Legg, H. Boyce, H. C. Ford. Joseph White, C. H. Britton, F. A. Deed. First officers: T. W. Butler, N. G.; C. H. Britton, V. G.; J. B. King, Secretary; E. B. Legg, Treasurer. Present officers; C. H. Britton, N. G.; J. F. Powers, V. G.; J. B. King, Secretary; J. E. Edgar, Treasurer. Meetings are held in Odd Fellows' Hall every Saturday evening. The membership is thirty-three. The Lodge is in a substantial and unusually encouraging condition.

Vail Collegium No. 78, V. A S. Fraternity. - Instituted Sepember 29th, 1881, with eleven charter members. First and present officers: E. Darling, R; J. C. Butler. V. R.; F. B. Huckstep, S.; A. Z. Harmon, Q.; M. Fitzgerald, D.; T. J. Huffman, C.; Simon Johnston, S. The membership is fourteen, and meetings are held the first Saturday evening of each month in Huckstep's law office.

DeSoto Lodge No. 63, K. of P. - Instituted November 10th, 1881. Charter members: E. M. Ainsworth, C. N. Clark, E. B. Legg, William Stephens, Simon Johnston, J. Cousins, H. C. Ford, C. C. Jewett, S. G. Hall, W. H. Brocklesby. First officers: C. N. Clark, P. C.; William Stephens, V. C.; E. M. Ainsworth, C. C.; C. C. Jewett, P.; S. G. Hall, K.of R. & S.; J. Cousins, M. of F.; W. A. Brocklesby, M. of E.; C. G. Manchester, M. at A.; Simon Johnston, I. G. These officers continue, the same as above. The present membership is seventeen, and meetings are held every alternate Friday evening in Odd Fellows' Hall.

W. C . T. U. - The Women's Christian Temperance Union of Vail was organized in 1880. Mrs. Dr. DeWolf is the President. This organization has been an effective agency in the promotion of community's best interests.

Band of Hope. - Organized May 11th, 1880. Present officers: Mrs. J. F. Powers, Superintendent; Fred Edgar, President; Fannie Moulton, Vice-President; Anna DeWolf, Secretary; Jennie Robbins, Treasurer. The membership is about forty.

Young People's Lyceum. - This society is composed of the pupils of the Grammar School. Weekly meetings are held, the objects being parliamentary drill, debates, etc.

Public School Library. - A Public School Library has been established, the funds for which were secured mainly by giving public entertainments. The District has levied a tax for the maintenance of the Library, and large additions will shortly be made.

Vail Silver Cornet Band. - Organized in 1876; William Stephens, President and Leader; Reginald Platt, Secretary; H. S. Keller. Treasurer. There are ten members. This band has an established reputation as one of the best bands in western Iowa.

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