by Claas Primus
extracted from Atlas of Grundy County Iowa, 1911
By a resolution of the Board of Supervisors, townships 88 and 87, Range 18 were constituted a township and called Melrose township and the first election was held in the house of C.F. Clarkson, on the 5th day of April, 1858, and these two townships remained or constituted Melrose township until the September session of Board of Supervisors, 1863. At that time the Board of Supervisors was constituted of seven members as follows: C.F. Clarkson, Adna Orcutt, Henry Harner, Wm. Meisner, Wm. Campbell, Wm. Venton, and C.G. Courtright.
In the minutes of said board on the 7th day of September, we find the following:
“A petition signed by J.M. Comstock and others for the division of Melrose township was presented and read and upon motion of Adna Orcutt was granted and ordered that the first election be held at the school house, district No. 2 in said township on the 13th day of October, 1863, and that the clerk issue warrant therefor”
Now the school house in district No. 2 is or was the old Pine creek school house which now constitutes district No. 9. At said first election, J.M. Comstock was elected the first supervisor and also the first justice of the peace of Shiloh township; Mathew Coleman the first constable and J.W. Tracy the first clerk of election. Shiloh township was named by J.M. Comstock after the battle of Shiloh.
On the 8th day of January, 1864, J.W. Tracy took oath as the first Shiloh township assessor; Mathew Coleman, township clerk.
Residents: It appears that John Whaley on Section 28 was one or was the first resident of Shiloh township, as we find from the records of Grundy County that one John W Long took the assessment of the whole county and he reports 156 residents in the whole county and we find J. W. Tracy and John Whaley among them. He swears to the assessment before R. S. Vinson, judge, on the 28th day of June, 1858. The year ’59, we find more residents, John Coleman, Mathew Coleman, and John Whaley. It seems that the township did not settle very fast from ’59 to ’65 as the new settlers all settled as much as they could near the towns of Hardin City and Steamboat Rock and along the timber. In 1862, the following families or persons moved in the township: Morton Bachelor, Martin Quick, I. F. Wood, Anthony Barker, Joseph Wade, Eliah Bachelor and James Reynolds. In 1863, Mr. J. M. Comstock took possession of the Wells farm. The first assessment of personal property against Mr. Geo. Wells we find in the winter of 1864, when we find that J. W. Tracy, assessor, assessed Mr. Wells with 1,200 sheep, 3 horses and 2 mules. The persons assessed in Feb., 1864, are the following: J. M. Comstock, the two Colemans, I. H. Hall, Samuel Johnson, Martin Quick, David Robertson Tracy, Sidney Elis and Peter Bohn.
In 1864 the first Germans settled in Shiloh township. They were two brothers, G. H. and I. H. Heikens. In 1864, Mr. J. M. Comstock was elected to a county office and removed from the Wells farm to Grundy Center and S. T. King and David Underwood became residents of the township. Also Adolphus Methfessel, Ortin Gleason, S. G. Crane, Geo. Franken and McAdams. R. B. Reikenas came in the fall of 1864, settled just over the line in Hardin County but purchased then in Grundy County.
In 1865 in the spring, two more German families moved into the township. E. L. Esten, H. K. Primus, O. Nederhoff, Jaspers and Eerdwords. G. Geerdes and M. Huisman, Mr. Geerdes settling first across the line in Hardin and Mr. Huisman near the line in German township. In the fall of 1865, W. B. Riekena came direct from Germany and settled in Shiloh township. Also a family by the name of Sleurholz. From the year 1865 the Germans came in the township fast. In 1866, the Ruter families, C. J. O’Kones, Nick and Chas. Nichols moved in the township, also Johannes De Neui and I. H. Heikens. In 1867, A. W. Meyer, Albert Ross, Hagen Revets and there may be a few others, also the Albright family. In 1868, the M. O. Ackerman family moved in, Wm. Hinds and the Olthoff brothers and Arend Shaefer family. In 1869 and ’70, they came in very fast as Mr. Wells had broken up a good deal of his land at that time and there were a lot of people that moved in, Jurden, Lutterman, H. O. Unler, Wumkes family and they settled and came in so fast that the writer can not remember all of them. The Martin family settled in 1871.
In the old times this county could be termed a pretty rough county. Those that came before the fall of 1865 had to haul their produce and grain to Cedar Falls as that was the nearest market. In the fall of 1865, the railroad came to Ackley and from that time on the residents of the township did their marketing at Ackley until 1867 when the Iowa Central railroad was built into Steamboat Rock which is nearer than Ackley. In these years the Iowa winters were severe. The old settlers remember the first day of January, 1864, as a very bad day. The 14th day of February, 1866, was the worst snow storm that the writer ever witnessed. Two persons perished in a snow storm in February, 1875, Miss Fluth on February 4th and O. Oltmans on the 9th. But this did not come up to the blizzard of 1866.
The first merchandise was sold by I. H. Middendorf who came from Steamboat Rock and put a small building on Section 16, on the north road from Steamboat Rock, to the eastern settlement of Shiloh and Colfax in about the year 1870.
Shortly thereafter B. Meyer erected a country store on the south road from Steamboat Rock to Grundy Center on Section 29. Both sold groceries and some dry goods, cigars, etc. The road running from Steamboat Rock to Grundy Center was the first road through the township and was running east from Steamboat Rock until it reached Section 26, when they forked out, going in a southeast direction on across the prairie to Grundy Center. In 1865, there was only one house after we left the Whaler house on Section 28. A man by the name of Young resided on Section 6, Palermo township. This was the only house in 14 miles. The other road or trail struck off in a southeasterly direction to Cedar Falls, which was called the Ridge Road, which went across the prairie without any house until we got within about eight miles of Cedar Falls, when now and then a shack became visible.
At that time on the 1st day of August, 1865, Section 16, school land, was offered for sale. At said sale, Geo. Wells purchased the east half section for $4.50 per acre, Oldig Nederhoff purchased the east one-half of the N. W. one-quarter and Este L. Esten, the north one-half of the S. W. quarter, all for $4.50 per acre, the other two 80 acres remained unsold at that time for want of bidders.
The early settlers were poor, came with very small means and endured many hardships. But it can be said of the township that while there were many petty litigations before Squire Crane, no crimes which ever amounted to felony were ever committed in the township, nor by any of its citizens and none of its citizens ever sent to the penitentiary.
Cemeteries: The first cemetery was laid out on Section 17 by the Christian Reformed church in the fall of 1867. The first grown person buried there was an old man by the name of H. Swartz; also an infant of Mr. John De Neui about the same time.
In the early times it was somewhat different than now, as we had only two carpenters, Oldig and Henry Nederhoff. In the year 1867, they built and completed more than 30 houses. They worked long days and received $1.75 per day. They generally worked from 6 o’clock in the morning as long as they could see.
Schools: It is somewhat uncertain when the first school house was built in the township. Certain it is that Pine creek school house, now district No. 9, was built first as in all probability district No. 1 contained Melrose township and district No. 2, Shiloh. The old school house was built about the year 1860, before the township was divided. The next school that was erected was in sub-district No. 4 about 1863, and was called the Van Patter school house. Said school or a part thereof is still in existence.