Franklin co. IAGenWeb Franklin county & community Histories


~transcriptions by S. Ferrall for Franklin co. IAGenWeb


How Alexander Got It's Name

According to tradition Alexander was named after a man connected with the building of the railroad which runs thru the town. In 1861 the Iowa Central railroad company put a branch thru from Hampton to Belmond. It was known at that time as the Belmond branch. Later this road was put thru to Algona and was taken over by the M & St. L., by which name it is now known.

After the completion of the railroad in 1881 a station was established in section five of Scott township, Franklin county, a mile east of the Wright county line. The station was located a short distance east of where the present town is located. E.B. Hill, carpenter by trade, and living at Hampton, took charge of the station at Alexander in September 1862. He opened a general store in the depot and later, on Nov. 13, 1882, was appointed postmaster. The office was also located in the station. Later Rob Pickett built a store near the station and kept groceries. In 1883 Fred Wilkes purchased 40 acres of land north of the track and surveyed it off in lots. Mr. Cameron of Belmond surveyed the plat and preparations were begun for the erection of a grain elevator and other business places.

The station was then moved west to its present site and Mr. Rickett moved his grocery store to a location just west of where John Blan's residence now stands. The store was later purchased by Abraham R. Carter and after a couple of years it burned down and was never rebuilt.

Tom Scott of Wisconsin then erected a store building on the south side of the track, the building which is occupied at present by the L.C. Peters restaurant.

Henry Underkoffer was the first blacksmith, in 1885 or 1886 and had his shop on the north side of the track and later built on the south side, where the W.P. Aldinger store now stands.

This shop which had a hall above it, known as the Underkoffer hall for so many years, burned down, together with several other business places, during a stormy winter night a few years ago. In it's place now stands the fine new store building built by W.P. Aldinger who is now manager. From that time on most of the business places were erected on the south side of the track.

[newspaper torn thru the next sentence] ... building. Church services were held in the schoolhouse and revival services were conducted at times. The M.E. church was built in 1886. Rob Rickett built the first residential house a one and a half story building, which is now a part of the John Blan residence.

On June 7, 1894, the Alexander cemetery was located east of town.

The Cobb farm, as it has always been known, is a half mile south and a quarter mile east of town. It was entered by Mr. Cobb in 1859 at which time the tract contained 5,040 acres.

The following is a list of some of the early settlers:
Henry Palmer in 1879
George Meyers, 1879
Mr. Demaris in 1875
James Green in the spring of 1882
John F. Bell in the fall of 1882

The first persons married near Alexander were David Keyes and Minnie Schreck who were married at Hampton in November 1878. The earliest birth recorded is a son of William Wright, born sometime in 1866. The first deaths known were two children who were killed by lightning at the house of J.D. Demaris. Their bodies were buried on section seven, but afterward removed to Sheffield.

The early settlers can tell of interesting incidents of the early days which included many hardships as well. The surrounding country was mostly wild prairie land with many ponds and sloughs. Some of them contained muskrat houses. All roads or trails were across land in any direction that would be short and most convenient for travel.

Game was plentiful, such as prairie chicken, wild duck, geese and cranes. At times the cranes would be so numerous they would take the grain when sown in spring beofre the farmer could get it cultivated in. The prairie fires were feared in the fall and did much damage at times. Winter storms were very severe, at times a blizzard would rage for several days.

Land was cheap in thos days and so was any produce or stock the farmer had for sale.

At present Alexander is a prosperous town on a graveled highway running, north and south. It has a fine consolidated high school, three churches, two general stores, a butcher shop, a blacksmith shop a hardware store, two garages, a filling station, grain elevators, farmers' creamery, lumber company, city water plant, Alexander Savings bank and many modern improvements. There are a number of fine homes.

On June 11, 1925, a violent tornado destroyed much of the town together with a great deal of it's beauty, but it has now been restored to almost its original state.

~Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, January 4, 1928

Alexander Diamond Jubilee

Above: Main street, Alexander, in 1912. This photo did not reproduce clearly from the microfilm. In front of the second building from the left, The E.R. Green Furniture store, is the first gas pump in Alexander. On the right, the white building was the first bulding built on the south side of the railroad tracks. It was then the Tom Scott store, operated by C.C. McGuire. At the time of the photo it was a restaurant.

Family photo on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Mr. & Mrs. A.B. Arnends, who were among the first settlers in Alexander.

Front, center: Mr. & Mrs. A.B. Arneds
Front, left: Ben Arends
Front, right: John Arends
Back, L-R: Mrs. Oscar (Marie) Hensel, of Alexander; Grover C. Arends, of Williams; Rev. Sherman Arends, of Los Angeles; Rev. Edwin Arends, of Pecatonice, IL; Johanna Butler, of Hampton; and Mrs. Harriet Bohlen, of Clear Lake.

Scott township was one of the last to be organized in Franklin county. Prior to 1878 it was a part of Morgan township. In 1878 an election was held at the home of R.N. Meeker and township officers were elected.

Up to the latter 1880's Scott was comparatively new and little developed, because large tracts of land were held by speculators. The first settler, a man by the name of Mahn, came to Scott township in 1860 and remained two years.

John Martin soon followed as manager of the Cobb farm, a tract of land containing something over five thousand acres. The land was improved and sold to William Wright in 1860 who erected the first house in the township. Later the land was sold to Henry Corwith who in turn sold the land to T.B. Scott in 1872. Large herds of cattle and horses grazed on this land and were prepared annually for market.

Others who came to Scott township in the 1860's were Mr. Dallymple (sic), Mr. Pufier, Jacob Lewis and R.U. Meeker. In the 1870's John D. Demaris, Peter Hanson, A.C. Peterson, Henry Palmer and Jacob P. Johnson came to the enlarging settlement.

E.B. Hill came to Alexander in 1882 after living at Maysvile and Hampton. He opened a general store in Alexander, attended the station and was named postmaster.

Other early settlers were Christian Schonsburg, Onne Suntken, John Stoff--s, Ben Arends, Paul Bobst, Wilbur P. Ammerman, Philip Sce-er, Chet B. Johansen, J.H. Bergheten, J.H. Tobias, C.H. and George Muhlenbruch, Henry Plagge and Frank Ostendorf.

The first residents of the township to be married were David Keves and Minnie Schteck, in 1878. The ceremony took place in Hampton. The earliest birth was William Wright in 1866. The first deaths were two children killed by lightning at the home of J.D. Demaris.

The first school house was erected in 1880 on the northwest corner of section 28. The ground was donated by Harry Yaw. the consolidation and erection of the present building was done in 1914.

Many of the early residents had been members of the Danish Lutheran Society in Marion township and they held their first service in Scott township at the J.P. Johnson home in 1881. Rev. J. Jensen, of Cedar Falls, conducted the service.

In 1881 a branch of the Central Railroad of Iowa was completed through the township aand its station was Alexander. E.G. Hill was the first agent. In order to build the railroad the slough southeast of Alexander had to be filled. Jim Green was one of those who helped cut and haul hay to fill in the slough. It is recalled that they used everything they could find to help fill the slough. The first station was replaced a few years later, but was destroyed in 1925 by a tornado.

F.E. Carter laid out and platted Alexander in 1885. the town was incorporated in 1902 and in 1914 had a population of about 300 persons.

Early progress was slow. In 1882, E.B. Hill opened his general store in a building built by Bob Rickell, and became postmaster. Reports say that the first building north of the tracks was built by Abe Carter. Then the depot was build and an elevator, all north of the tracks. The store burned down in 1885 and the first building south of the tracks, the Tom Scott building, which was the C.C. McGuire store was built.

The Alexander Savings Bank was organized in 1899. W.L. Robinson was president; G.A. Robinson, vice president; and James Cook and George Dunn were cashiers.

Another building which was constructed in 1885 was the Undercoffer Blacksmith Shop which was located on the corner where the present Aldinger store is located.

In 1921 fire destroyed the Henry Undercoffer blacksmith shop along with the Hougs general store, pool hall and the tonsorial parlors which dispensed cigars and pop.

Fire also destroyed the elevator which had been built by the Moore Brothers. After changing hands several times a Wisconsin firm owned it when it was burned to the ground in 1916.

Benjamin G. Cunningham established the first harness shop where the present D-X service station is located. Emmett Crosby operated the drug store in Alexander.

On June 7, 1894, the Alexander cemetery was established east of town. The first burial was of Mrs. Reynolds, mother of Mrs. John Demaris.

Mrs. J.F. Douglass operated the first eating house in Alexander and it was located at the end of main street. Alva Gillett opened the first hardware store and Ben Hansen the first meat market in town.

The first creamery was located at the extreme southeast edge of town and in 1911 a Farmers Co-op was organized and a new creamery built in the north end of town with Harry Gates hired as buttermaker.

Religion, as it should, played an important part in the development of the Alexander community and there has been a succession of churches through the years that has resulted in the fine edifice now located in Alexander in which the community as a whole has had a part.

A Methodist church was organized in March, 1888, and in September 1897, a Congregational church was formed. On June 11, 1925, a devastating tornado destroyed this church building and resulted in the formation of the United church made up of the Methodist and Congregational congregations, using the Methodist church building which had been remodeled after the tornado. This building burned in 1946 and the Congregationalists withdrew in 1947 and the Community Methodist church was organized and built the present structure.

St. John's Evangelical congregation had its beginning in September 1892, and functioned until 1951.


The newspaper article also had a photo taken of local citizens between 1900 and 1910 in the Ole Houg Store. Pictured are Fred Rodemeyer, George Latch, Jim Green, Adolph Shallar & Ole Houg. The photo reproduced very poorly on the microfilm so has not been used here.

~Source of newspaper article & the photos: The Chronicle, Hampton, IA, June 23, 1960
Note: The type-set was difficult to read. The transcriber has made every attempt to accurately transcribe the words, but some letters were very hard to distinguish from others. Readers should expect errors.



Return to:

History Index


This page was created 12/10/2015
2015 by IAGenWeb & the various submitters.