Colfax Township
by J. R. Smit

extracted from Atlas of Grundy County Iowa, 1911

When Grundy County was first organized, a territory twelve miles square, comprising Twp. 87, Range 16, Twp. 87, Range 17, Twp. 88, Range 16 and Twp. 88, Range 17, was formed into one district having a township organization, and was called Palermo.

In the year 1866 this district was divided into two equal parts with a line running east and west, the south half being called Palermo, and the north half was called Lincoln.

In 1869 this north district was again divided into two townships each six miles square, the east half retaining the name of Lincoln, and the west half was given the name of Colfax, in honor of that eminent statesman and associate of Lincoln, Schuyler Colfax. It is Twp. 88, north Range 17, west of the 5th P. M.

The first election in this new found township was held in October, 1869, with John S. Bemisdorfer, Martin Quick and Conrad Pickelman elected as first trustees. Elias Marble as clerk, C. J. McClure as justice of the peace, and H. L. Burns as assessor. Elias Marble was also first supervisor elected in the township.

In 1868, the school section (Sec. 16) was put up for sale and Eilert Knock and Harm Knock, his brother, each bought a quarter section of the same. Eilert Knock still lives on the place he bought then, but Harm Knock died in 1889.

In the year 1869, Harm Knock donated an acre of ground in the southeast corner of section 16 for school purposes, and on that acre the same year the first schoolhouse was built. Some years ago it was moved across the road onto the southwest corner of section 15 and is known as schoolhouse No. 5.

Herbert Quick, author and magazine writer, lived with his father on the S. E. ¼ of Sec. 29, when a boy and young man. Many of the old settlers remember him as a manly boy and young man, and rejoice in his success as an author.

Mr. Deemer, father of Horace E. Deemer, Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, lived in Holland in its palmy days a year or longer, and was a dealer in lumber and coal. A sister of Judge Deemer taught the James Cowie School one or two terms.

Some of the first who settled in the township are: Elias Marble, who came in the fifties, making him the first settler in the township. He bought a nice lot of land around where now stands the town of Holland, and lived in that picturesque natural grove one-half mile south of Holland, the only natural grove in the township.

Elias Marble was County Treasurer in the first years of the Civil War, and the early settlers claim that he sold the gold in the treasury, several thousand dollars, at the time greenbacks were declared legal tender, and pocketed the premium, which was as much as the original sum. Mr. Marble always denied the charge. He was compelled to carry the county money in his pocket for lack of a better place to keep it. In an article written by him a few years ago, he made the statement that he made a visit to the home of C. F. Clarkson, and took with him eleven packages of bills of $500 each. In some way one package was lost, or abstracted, while at the Clarkson place, and he had to make it good to the county. Marble owned about fifteen hundred acres of land, and succeeded in locating the town of Holland on it, but he became badly involved in debt, and was finally put out of business by the Holland Land and Townlot Co., made up of Marble and three men from Marshall County.

Another early settler was Orville Bailey, who bought a splendid tract of land north and west of Mr. Marble.

In the sixties, a company formed of Geo. W. Warner, Sheldon Dewey, and Boardman Hough, bought and opened up a lot of land in the east part of the township.

Other early settlers who might be mentioned were: J. S. Bemisdorfer, Martin Quick, Conrad Pickelman, Wm. Marble, C. J. McClure, H. L. Burns, John Bothwell, John and James Cowie, John Huff, Joseph Kuhns, Henry Hooper, Wm. Rowe, Henry Rice, Hiram and Josiah Hayes, Thomas Brown, Thomas Curtis, Philemon Baker, John Houck, Chas. Kinkaid, Ralph Julian, Sheldon Wood.

The present population of the township is, with a few exceptions, German. The first of them came in the late sixties and early seventies, some of which are: Eilert Knock, Harm Knock, Hinrikus Knock, Hinderk Huizinga, Henry Juergens, Rudolph Geiter, Andreas Franken, Sebin Hagen, Fred Gotting, August Siefkin, Fred Kray, Dirk Lay, Poppe Hyronimus, K. C. Kruger, John Saathoff, Dirk Harberts, Ralph and Freerk Veenker, Klaas Rose, Geike Bonk, Heiko Neessen, Anton Neessen, H. P. Smit, Aeilt Hoffman, Arend Myer, J. P. Myer, Marcus P. Myer, John Suttman, J. F. Itjen, John Reinders, Cornelius Freeze, Jacob Jaspers, Henry Petersen, Ibeling Harms, Eggo Stoehr.

These, and others, were the pioneers who bore the hardships of those early times, and made possible that civilization which we enjoy today.

In the year 1877, the B., C. R. & N. R. R. Co., built a branch northwest of Vinton and at its then terminal point in Colfax Twp., three miles west of Grundy Center, on the land of Elias Marble, a town was started, and in honor of Berend Van der Las, a pastor of the German Presbyterian Church, which is situated three miles northwest, who is a native of Holland, it was named Holland. It was the only town in the township and like the country it is named after, small and gritty, which it showed soon after it was started, by tackling its big neighbor, Grundy Center, for the possession of the county seat.

These Germans, like King David of old, feeling the need to go up with the multitude to the house of the Lord, got together, and a German Presbyterian congregation was organized in June, 1871, and a church built in the center of the township in 1873.

At about the same time the Lutherans organized a congregation in the northwest part of the township and used schoolhouse No. 3 as their meeting place, but in 1873 a church was built just across the line in Shiloh township.