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History of Fayette County, Iowa,

A history of the County, its Cities, Towns Etc.

Page 541


History of Banks Township

"The first settler in Township 93, Range 10, was Theodore Wilson, who located in the Summer of 1851, on the west side of Sections 7 and 18, at the north end of the timber since known as 'Wilson's Grove.' Wilson appears to have had an eye to business. He claimed the whole grove, and when he could effect a sale, he posted to Dubuque to make the entry so that he could transfer the title.

. In 1852, Robert Armstrong located in the township. In the Summer of 1853, Oliver T. Fox, from New Jersey, purchased Wilson's claim, at the head of the grove, and moved here with his family in the following Fall. George Linn, from Maine, William Robertson and Peter Robertson settled in the vicinity during the same year.

.In May, 1854, Levi Williams and William T. Wade, from New Jersey, came to Fayette County, to visit Fox and to view the country. At that time, they found four families in the township, viz.: the Armstrongs, the Robertsons - not a settler between them and West Union, and not a cabin in town west of them.

. In May, 1855, Williams and Wade returned to the township and settled on Sections 7 and 18, on Government land, 'which,' says Mr. Wade, 'with few exceptions, extended nearly to West Union, but which was all entered that Summer.'


The civil township of Banks was created by order of the County Court February 4, 1856. The township was named in honor of Hon. N. P. Banks of Massachusetts.


The first election was held at the house of George Linn, April 7, 1856. The poll book shows the names of six voters on that occasion, viz.: David Linn, David Linn, Jr., George Linn, Oliver T. Fox, Levi Williams and William T. Wade. Mr. Wade is the only survivor the number. At this election, David Linn and William T. Wade were elected Justices of the Peace; William T. Wade, Township Clerk; David Linn, Levi Williams and O. T. Fox, Trustees; Geo. Linn, Assessor.


N. Bent, William E. Royce, H. L. Royce, William Elliott and Nathan Linn, with their families, settled in Banks Township in 1856. In the Summer of 1856, the Republican Convention, to nominate a candidate for Representative to the Legislature from Fayette and Bremer, was held at the house of George Linn.


At the April election, in 1857, 12 citizens exercised the right of suffrage. In October, 1858, there were 20, and at the Presidential election, in 1876, 69 votes were cast, and 'the township,' says Mr. Wade, 'gave Hayes and Wheeler and Burdick 25 majority.'


The first school in Banks Township was taught by Jane Spears, in the house of David Linn, Jr., in the Summer of 1857. George Linn taught the school in the Winter of 1858-0. The first school house was erected in Sub-District No. 1, in 1865. There are now four schoolhouses in the township.


The first roads located were the 'Armstrong road,' from Wilson's Grove to West Union, in May, 1855, and the 'Fox road,' between Sections 7 and 18, in June of the same year.


The first birth was a child to Mr. and Mrs. T. Wilson, and the second birth was Eva Bent, in May, 1857. The first marriage was that of Henry Parkhurst and Matilda Fox in, in June, 1856. The first death was that of Adam Armstrong, of consumption, in 1854.


April 4, 1860, fire caught in Wilson's Grove, and the wind, blowing a gale, carried it into the prairie, and the houses and stables of George Linn, Nathan Bent and Robert Linn were burned. The fire made a clean sweep of everything in its track.


Says Mr. Wade: 'Incidents without number might be given of snow-blows, bad roads, etc., but those who have pioneered in a new country know what it is to cross the prairie without a house or hardly a landmark, for twelve or fifteen miles, in a snow-blow or in the night. If their team lose or get off the track or take the wrong one, they are as badly off as a vessel at sea without a compass.' During the Winter of 1855-56, Mr. Wade and Mr. Williams came to West Union with a team, for a load of supplies. They started for home near nightfall, and about 10 o'clock, when about half way home, they were overtaken by a sudden snow-squall, lost their track, and were compelled to encamp by the side of a hay stack near by until morning. Fortunately, they did not freeze, as they had some blankets, and found their way home the next morning without serious difficulty.




The first sermon in Banks Township was at the house of William T. Wade in 1856, by Rev. A. K. Moulton, a Free-Will Baptist clergyman, who had located in Sumner Township, Bremer County, three miles west of Wilson's Grove, in 1855-56. He preached occasionally in the cabins of the settlers until 1857, when he organized a Free-Will Baptist Church at Mr. Wade's house. Members of other denominations, in the settlement, united with or placed themselves under the watchful care of this little pioneer church. A Presbyterian Church or Society, with twelve members, was organized in November, 1859, at the house of Mr. Wade. The church has made a center at Sumner and built a church there in 1877, Rev. E. D. Sayre, Pastor.


Rev. Mr. Havens organized a Methodist Church in the township in 1859, and this denomination has had the services of a preacher about half the time. The United Brethren also have a class.


The German Evangelical Church, in the south part of the township, erected a church building 26x36, with a belfry fifty-eight feet high, in the Fall of 1877. F. Weisbard, of Cecar Falls, was the builder. The society had not entertained the idea of building until October, 1877, and the church was completed and dedicated January 27, 1878, the dedicatory services being conducted in both the German and English languages. The society holds regular services once in two weeks.


Banks Township is mostly prairie. Wilson's Grove, on the west side, contains about three sections of timber. The line between Fayette and Bremer Counties runs through the center of it. The township is well watered by the spring branches of the Little Wapsie, on the west, and the Volga, on the east, furnishing an abundant supply of pure, living water, and some of the best stock farms in the county are in this township.


The Iowa & Pacific, or Volga Valley, Railroad is graded through this township from east to west, and, remarks Mr. Wade, 'We live on hopes it will be completed some day.' Possibly these hopes may be realized before 1880. The company located their depot at Sumner, three-fourths of a mile west of the town line, where a flourishing town has grown up. On the east, the nearest railroad market is Randalia, on the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railroad, four miles east of the east line of the township.


During the last two years of 1876 and '77, new farms have been opened faster and more permanent improvements have been made than ever before, with some of the best locations yet to be settled, the only drawback being the distance from timber."


Year Wheat Oats Corn
1856 April 24 May 10 May 27, 28, 29
1857 April 24, 25 May 7 May 21, 22
1858 March 29; April 28 May 18-20 May 24, 25*
1859 April 19-21 May 5, 6 May 17, 18
1860 March 31; April 6 April 10 - 13 May 11 - 15
1861 April 15-22 April 25, 26 May 15 - 17
1862 April 28-26 April 21, 22 May 16, 17
1863 April 6 April 11 May 9, 10
1864 April 6 - 13 - 15 April 18, 19 May 10 - 14
1865 April 18 - 26 April 27, 28 May 19 -24
1866 April 18 - 28 May 2 - 7 May 17, 18
1867 April 16 -23 April 25, 26 May 17, 18
1868 March 30, 31; April 1 - 16 April 20 May 13 - 15
1869 April 9 -17 April 20 - 23 May 10 - 15
1870 April 11 - 14 April 18 - 21 May 11, 12
1871 March 30, 31; April 5 April 6 - 18 May 9 - 12
1872 April 13 -19 April 23 May 20 -22
1873 April 7 - 18 April 23 - 26 May 21 - 27
1874 April 11 - 23 April 25 - 30 May 16 - 20
1875 April 6 - 21 April 21 - 30 May 15 - 18
1876 April 19 -27 April 28 May 23 - 25


"A Post Office was established at Wilson's Grove in 1861, Wm. T. Wade, Postmaster."


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