Coffin's Grove Township lies to the west, on the Buchanan County
on the north of it is Richland Township. To the east is Delaware
Township and the southern
line is demarked by
Prairie Township. Congressional township
89, range 6, was separated from Delaware Township by the
Court, February 7, 1855, and named Coffin's Grove, in honor of
its first settler,
Clement Coffin. The schoolhouse, one of the first to be built,
was designated as
the voting place for the first election. The land here is very
fertile and some of the best farms in the state are noticed,
monuments of the judgment of those who first selected the land,
and evidences of thrift and splendid husbandry.
sometimes called Coffin's Grove Creek, begins in slough lands
in the eastern part of
Buchanan County and flows eastward through the southern
portion of Coffin's Grove
Township, to join the Maquoketa above Manchester.
In section 28, the channel
of Prairie Creek is cut through a timbered, rocky hill.
The drainage is excellent
and conditions are equally so for stock-raising.
During the year 1840 immigration to the Delaware settlements
began to increase and among those who sought homes in the groves
and prairies of this county
was Clement Coffin, who made his headquarters at Eads' Grove
while he explored
the country. He afterwards permanently located in a beautiful
grove in the south central part of the township, which afterwards
was given his name and he became one of the leading and
influential citizens of the county. A friend, in speaking of him,
passed this eulogium upon Judge Coffin: "He was a genuine and
true man to his friends, of great fidelity to his trust, entirely
free from anything like
hypocrisy. He made up his mind with deliberation and then
expressed his opinion whether his hearers were pleased or not and
we always knew where to
find him. He was a millwright and carpenter, a dairyman and wagon maker, and a successful, energetic farmer. Mrs. Coffin knew
how to draw around her wilderness home the wise and the
good. She raised her family well and fitted them for the highest
and best social positions." Judge Coffin was largely instrumental
in the organization of the county and always took a lively
interest in its affairs. Among other offices held by him was that
of probate judge, being the second person in the county elected
to that position. The first frame barn raised in the county was
built by Clement Coffin and
Henry Baker in Coffin's Grove, in the summer of 1849. On the 4th
of July of that year Judge Coffin had a "barn raising," at
which the people from all parts of the county, from Delhi, Plum
Creek, Colony, South Fork and other localities gathered. The barn
was raised in the forenoon and settlers dined and supped at the
Coffin home. Judge Coffin died July 28, 1867.
In 1841 quite a number of additions were made
to the settlement in this
county. Among those who came this year were Charles Osborn, Hiram
Minkler, Henry Baker, Horace Tubbs and others.
Henry Baker, as has been stated, settled here
in 1841, locating on section 22. At the time there were but four
families in the township. His wife was
Elizabeth W. Coffin, whom
he married in 1840. She was a daughter of Judge Clement
Coffin. The young couple arrived in the early part of June and
purchased eighty acres of
Government land in Coffin's Grove township, where they
built a temporary log cabin 12 by 12 feet. There were at the time
but two families besides themselves within the limits of the
township. Deer, elk and bear were frequently seen. Mr. Baker
killed quite a number of deer and one bear and for the first few
years was seldom without venison for table use. The Winnebago
Indians were stationed north of
him and frequently
passed through the neighborhood on hunting expeditions, camping
within thirty or forty rods
of his house for four or five days at a time. They always evinced
a. friendly disposition and with the exception of begging
food or some trifling trinket never molested him. In
the fall of 1841 he
erected a story and a
hall-hewed log house 16 by
20 feet in dimensions, which he occupied for a number
of years. In 1845 he
purchased 200 acres of land and in like manner continued
to purchase until he at one time owned over seven hundred acres.
In 1856 he erected a handsome brick residence and a large frame
barn a few years before that time.
Aaron Sullivan, an Ohioan, made a permanent
settlement in this township
in 1844, on section 28. This became one of the fine farms of the
county and was the
home of the Sullivans for many years.
Oscar Wellman left the old home in the State of New
York in 1852 and in
the fall of that year
located on a farm of 320 acres in section 31, Coffin's Grove
Township. In 1856 he built a large frame house, hauling
the lumber from Dubuque— a
distance of fifty five miles, which consumed four days' steady
travel to make the trip there and return. The following
year he put up one of the first large frame barns in the county.
For a number of years he kept what might be called a wayside inn.
Here the old-time stage coaches in their overland route from
Dubuque westward would stop for refreshments or put up for the
night, and many were the times when the house was crowded with
travelers and the haymows were resorted to for shelter and rest.
At one time during a driving wind and rain storm the roads became
impassable when the Wellmans furnished food and shelter for forty
teams and eight men, women and children.
One of Mr. Wellman's
principal occupations on his farm was raising horses
cattle, in which he made a
William Cook settled on section 11 in 1853.
He was one of the influential
men of the township, and
being held in high esteem, was elected to local offices
by his neighbors.
Charles P. Tripp, by energy and good judgment, was
successful in gaining a
foothold in Coffin's Grove Township and became quite influential
as one of its prosperous and leading citizens. He settled
here in 1853 and in 1862 enlisted in Company F, Twenty-seventh
Frank K. Smith took up his residence in
Delaware County in 1853, and this became his permanent home. He
drove through in a two-horse wagon from Ohio to Iowa and located
on a tract of land consisting of 120 acres in Coffin's
Grove Township. He built a
log house of the regulation dimensions arid at once
entered upon the pioneer life of the then far West.
Harvey Minkler was a native of New York.
After living in Ohio a while he
immigrated to Iowa in May, 1853, and settled on a farm on section
29, Coffin's Grove Township. Mr. Minkler was one of the first
trustees of Coffin's Grove Township and at the time there were
but fifteen votes here, five of which were
cast by members of his
family. He was a member of Company F, Twenty-seventh Iowa
Alexander G. Alcock settled near the present
Town of Masonville in 1854, coming from the State of Illinois.
His first habitation for himself and family was built by driving
poplar poles in the ground and then weaving willows in around the
poles. The roof was of hay and for many years this house was
D. N. Davis came from the State of New York
to Delaware County in 1854 and settled in this township, where he
lived for many years on section 30. Edwin Davis, a native of
Connecticut, arrived in the township in 1854 and settled on
section 28. That year he erected a log house. By industry and
thrift he brought his farm to a high state of cultivation, became
an extensive dealer in and raiser of fine stock and was looked up
to by his neighbors as one of their leading citizens.
Among the pioneers of Coffin's Grove Township
was James Towner, who came
from New York with his family and located here in the spring of
Patrick Trumblee left the State of
Massachusetts in the year 1855 and in September settled in
Coffin's Grove Township, where he was successful as a
farmer and held a high place
in the estimation of his neighbors.