Fremont County, Iowa

Township History

Madison Township

Standard Historical Atlas of Mills & Fremont County
Anderson Publishing Company, Chicago 1910
History of MadisonTownship
By John Gregg

The first settlement of what is now Madison Township was made by the McKissick brothers, three in number, who came from Clay County, Missouri in 1840, and took claims in what was afterwards known as McKissick’s Grove. Before the settlement of the disputed line between the states of Iowa and Missouri, Missouri claimed to the correction line, about ten miles north of the present line. Many of the settlers held their claims under the preemption laws, awaiting the settlement of the disputed boundary, the earliest centers of land were made at Plattsburg, Missouri and afterward at Fairfield, Iowa, this being the nearest land office. May 25, 1849, seems to have been the date of the first entry at an Iowa land office, that at Fairfield. The entry was made by David M. English, and the land was the northeast quarter of Section 25, Township 67 Range 42, 160 acres.

During the time Madison Township was claimed by Missouri, Jacob McKissick kept a negro woman and several of her children as slaves on his claim, having brought them from Clay County Missouri. At the time of their first settling here they made a trip once a year, either to St. Joseph or Clay County, Missouri for supplies.

There was no post office nearer, and they received no mail. Sometime in 1844 a stage line was established from St. Joseph to Council Bluffs, which passed C. W. McKissick’s residence on the adjoining claim south. A stage station was kept by Thomas Farmer, also a post office. Later there was a store at the station, kept by J. T., Davis, a son-in-law of Mr. Farmer. The frame of the old station still stands at Jones Finnel’s feed yard.

In June 1848, the first frame barn in Fremont County was raised on Section 30-67-41, on what was then known as the Watt’s place. A public road, the first laid out in the county, run from the Watt’s place to Hunsaker’s ferry across the Nishnabotna River at Argyle’s store. This road was ordered June 5, 1849. In addition to the ferry there was later built a toll bridge at this place. The rate of toll was foxed by the county board of supervisors as follows: for crossing: single man five cents; for man and horse ten cents; two horses wagon and team empty 25 cents, loaded 30 cents; four horse wagon and team empty, 40 cents, loaded 50 cents; six horse team and wagon empty 60 cents, loaded 70 cents; loose horses and cattle 5 cents per head; sheep and hogs 2 ½ cents per head. At an election held in Fremont County on the first Monday in April, 1853, Madison Township polled 25 votes. Madison Township at that time was composed of Townships 67 and 68 north and so much of Ranges 40-41-42 as lies east of the Nishnabotna River. This now is composed of Madison, Riverton, Locust Grove and the south part of Fisher Townships.

The first deed made and recorded in Fremont County was made by Peter Livermore and wife to William Keutsler, conveying the one undivided half of the northwest fractional quarter of Section 23, Township 67, Range 42 west. This deed was made Aug. 22, 1849, and recorded on the 8th day of October, 1849. A. H. Argyle, recorder.

The first mortgage given and recorded in Fremont County was made Oct. 28, 1849, by Antoine Lebring and wife to Jacob McKissick on the northwest quarter of Section 32-67-41, to secure the payment of a note for one thousand dollars made payable to Daniel McKissick.

The first marriage in Madison Township, of which there is any record, was that of Allen Cox, aged 33, and Leuraney Wilson, aged 23, at Henry Watt’s March 21, 1850. The first child born in Madison Township was Martha McKissick, daughter of C. W. McKissick and Hannah McKissick, born 1843. The first death was that of Mrs. M. Freeman, who was buried in the Farmer’s Cemetery in the spring of 1845.

The oldest resident of the township is Mrs. Hannah McKissick, widow of C. W. McKissick, who has lived on the place they settled in 1842 until the present time, sixty-eight years. She is now upwards of ninety years old, is vigorous and healthy and with the exception of hearing, retains her faculities in a remarkable degree. Hon. John Cooper is another of the very early settlers. They are about the only two remaining of the early settlers, who remember Argyle’s store as the center of attention in this section. Jacob McKissick was the first justice of the peace in Fremont County having been elected in 1841. Madison Township was supposed, at that time, to be a part of Holt County, Missouri. Mount Olive Baptist Church is the oldest church in Madison Township, having been organized January 12, 1845, with a membership of ten. In 1878 the society built a brick church at a cost of $2,000, which was dedicated in February of 1879, by P. M. Best. The church was organized and known as the Nishnabotna church until 1879 when its present name was given. The Farmers’ Cemetery, one of the oldest in the county, forms the churchyard.

McKissick’s Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in January, 1876, with a membership of thirteen. Services were held at the Fugett school house until the church building erected during the winter and spring of 1874 was completed. The church building was a frame, erected at a cost of $3,000 and dedicated by Rev. J. B. Green on the 1st Sunday in April of the same year. The building was erected upon a lot adjoining the Utterback Cemetery. The first burial in which was Mrs. John Murry in November, 1858.

Mill Creek Wesleyan Church was organized in the winter of 1864 and 1865, with a membership of seven. The organizing pastor was Rev. James Lythe. Services were held at the Mill Creek school house until the year of 1882, when a frame church building was erected upon a lot donated by Geroge Mewher. The building was dedicated in the fall of 1882 by the Rev. A. W. Hall. The membership at the time of dedication was seventy-five.

McKissick’s Grove Christian Church was organized at the Cowles school house in the winter of 1865 with a membership of twenty. The organizing elders were Underwood and James Miller. Services were held at Cowles school house until 1888, when a frame church building was erected upon a lot donated by Joseph Wardell at the northwest corner of his farm at a cost of eleven hundred dollars. The Methodists have a substantial church building on the east line of the township, located on the southeast corner of the J. N. Harris farm. They formerly held services at round top school house.

Madison Township is composed of Township 67, Range 41, and that part of Township 67, Range 42, east of the Nishnabotna River. The western part is well timbered, the eastern part some timber bordering the small streams; the surface is rolling. The township is well watered, and is all occupied by farms. The population at the present time numbers about one thousand. There are seven independent school districts in which school is kept about nine months in each year. Two rural routes from Hamburg and one from Riverton, with telephone service by two independent and mutual telephone lines.

Transcribed by Cay Merryman

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