by Jeff Morrison
extracted from Atlas of Grundy County Iowa, 1911
I left Fayette County, Pennsylvania, for the West in the year of 1859, stopping in Wayne County, Indiana, for five months; leaving there, I came through Waterloo, Iowa. I worked on a farm about one and one-half miles south of Waterloo for two and a half years for sixteen dollars per month.
In 1862, I left Waterloo and came to what was then West Palermo township, now Palermo township, and in 1863, I bought an eighty in Section 21, Twp. 87, Range 17 W. of 5 P. M. at three dollars per acre and thought I was getting rich very fast.
In the fall of 1874, I left West Palermo and moved to East Palermo to what was called the D. E. Muss farm. This I rented on shares for two years when in 1866 I bought a one-half of Section 14, Twp. 87, Range 15, W. of 5 P. M., this being called the Green Prescott farm for which I paid ten dollars per acre. This farm had forty acres broken, the remainder was timber and prairie land. The only building on this half section was an old granary.
In 1867, I built a house twenty by twenty-four and moved into it in November of the same year. Five years later I built a leanto addition to my house. I may add that the house still stands on the same farm on which it was built forty-three years ago.
Among the early settlers who were in Washington township when I came here are Lyman Cole in 1855 and settled on Section 28; Byron Cummings settled on Section 19 in 1855.
When I came to Washingto township my neighbors were not very plentiful but soon new ones began to come in and settle around me, among whom were Levi Dillyl on Section 22 in 1869. Steve Greene came in 1865 and settled on Section 8. Chas. W. Reynolds came in 1869. G. A. Shurtleff on Section 4 in 1870. D. E. Munn on Section 15 in 1877. Charlie Philbrick came in 1864 and settled in Section 4. T. H. Davis came in 1870. Harrison N. Stuck came in 1870 and settled on Section 13. The Vaseys came in 1868 and settled on Section 4. Ed Bly on Section 23 in 1877; J. C. Boston on Section 24 in 1877. Isaiah Morrison on Section 9 in 1876. John Shimer came in 1870, E. H. Allison in 1880, Sam King 1872, A. J. Thompson in 1872 and John and Theo. Souers in 1881.
F. E. Dickey came to Washington township in 1876 and bought eighty acres of land in Section 32, this being the A. Carlson place. He did not settle in the township until 1878 staying on the place during the summer and going back to his old hime in Wisconsin during the winter. His brother, J. F. Dickey, came to Washington township with him in 1878 and broke 50 acres of the place. The following names persons came in about the dates mentioned. Peter Wumkes came in 1875, A. Thomas in 1875, Reuben Bly in 1878, W. E. Toogood in 1869, the Mooty boys, Thomas, James and W. A., came later. Fred Steinberg and A. Ries settled in Washington township in about 1876. Joseph Barr came in 1877 and settled on Section 11.
Some time after several had settled in East Palermo, we began to talk of petitioning the board of supervisors to separate Palermo township and to call the west side Palermo township and the east sie Washington township. This was objected to by some because they did not care to go to Morrison to cast their vote which they would have to do if the township was organized. Nevertheless, Washington township was organized in September, 1877, it being called East Palermo now it was to be known as congressional township No. 87, Range 16, West of 5 P. M. except sections 6 and 7 and the north one-half of Eighteen which were left with West Palermo or Palermo township.
In the same year that the township was organized an election was called by the board of supervisors. This election was held in the Jeff Morrison school house. The election officials were: judges, D. E. Munn, G. W. Atkins and Jeff Morrision; clerks, Ross Morrison and W. E. Toogood.
The following officials were the only ones to qualify for office by filing their bonds; they were the frist township officials in Washington township.
Township clerk was C. D. Mason; trustee, Curtis Bly; assessor, G. W. Atkins.
The writer was the first supervisor from Washington township, it being customary for the townships to take turn about in electing their supervisors. This custom is carried out at the present time unless an exceptionally good fellow gets to be supervisor.
I was school director in the independent district of Morrison for twelve years. I was one of the first directors after the independent district was established.
In the same year that the township was organized the town was laid. In laying out the town, I took in several settlers and we formed a town site company and organized and incorporated as the same.
The company consisted of Curtis Bly, D. E. Munn, Ransom Bailey, A. Thomas and myself. We had a capital stock of $5,000.00 and in this way we sold most of the town lots.
The town of Morrison grew to be a very nice little town and the outlook was good for the future, but in 1884 fire destroyed a part of the business district and since that time it has not built up very rapidly.
Among the first to build in the town was Dave Grant who built the first elevator in Washington township. I might add that before we had an elevator at Morrison we used to haul all of our grain to Waterloo, this being our best trading station.
The grain to be hauled was all sacked and not thrown in the wagon loose because of the danger of having to handle it several times before we reached our destination. Many times I have had to carry each sack of grain several rods after getting fast in the low lands. The trips to Waterloo took about three days, the roads were not like we have today neither did we have bridges to drive over at that time.
The first religious services were held in the Jeff Morrison school house and were conducted by Wm. Debenham, later after the town of Morrison was laid out the M. E. church was built, this being the first church in Washington township, and preachers were supplied from the M. E. church of Grundy Center. Later, the Presbyterians builded a church.
Dr. Valett was the first doctor to locate in Washington township. He kept a small store at Morrison and doctored the sick during slack times. Most of the doctoring was done by the people themselves because they did not have the quick means to calling a doctor that we do now.
The first house built in Washington township was built by Lyman Cole on Section 8 in 1855. The next to build a house was Byron Cummings who built the same year on Section 19. The first school house was built on the Lyman Code place on Section 8.
In about the year 1868, a school house was built on the west line of my farm in Section 14. My children were the only ones to attend this school during the first few years and they did not attend regularly because teachers were not as plentiful as I have seen in later years. This school house was known as the Jeff Morrison school house.
The first bank was started and operated by A. S. Wear and myself in about the year 1887. We owned this bank for about two years and then sold it to S. R. Raymond.
The school district between Washington and Palermo townships was divided in 1879. In about the year 1879 a school house was built for the use of the independent district of Morrison.