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Harrison County Iowa Genealogy

Douglas Township
excerpts from the 1891 Harrison County History

Douglas is the name of the second civil township from the northern line of Harrison County, and is bounded on the east by Shelby county, on the south by Cass Township, on the west by Boyer Township and on the north by Harrison Township. It comprises township 80, range 41 and contains an area of 23,040 acres. Its organization dates from 1868 and was named in honor of Stephen A. Douglas. In 1885 it had a population of 526, but the U.S. census of 1890 places it at 726. There are no towns, villages or post-offices within this township. The populace trades mostly at Woodbine and Dunlap. This is a most excellent farming portion of the county, and to-day(1891) is the home of many a prosperous farmer.

Picayune Creek and its many small feeders constitute the streams. It is a prairie township, except a thousand acres in small groves, including a portion of "Twelve Mile Grove." Picayune Creek was named on Sunday, by a band of land sekers, one of whom said, "I would not give a Picayune for this country!" He would now though!


Every county must have its first band of pioneers and its first settler. Here we find that the first to build a cabin and raise a crop was a Mormon, whose name was PIERCE. He came in 1851 or 1852, and sold his claim of a quarter section to Thomas BINNELL, and he to Mathew HALL in 1853. It was on section 30, and at Twelve Mile Grove. Mr. HALL improved the land and remained there until 1881, when he retired at Woodbine.

In 1851 Thomas WILD entered 40 acres of timber land, on the southeast quarter of section 22, which he sold to D.M. HALL. He then bought other land and finally removed. This date is fixed by the marks which WILD cut on an elm tree, at the time of his entry.

William G. MEFFERD came to Harrison County in July, 1850, and settled at Elk Gove, where he remained until 1853, then bought on section 29, of Douglas Township. In the fall of 1853 the township only polled four votes on the election.

Two other Mormon claims were taken in 1852, on section 18, by Samuel FARNSWORTH and his son, James H. As soon as land came into market they bought.

Mathew HALL settled in Douglas Twp, on section 30, during the month of April, 1853, where he bought a claim of 160 acres, upon which was a rude log cabin. He cleared four acres that year, upon which he raised enough to subsist the following winter. He soon became a prosperous farmer, and now lives a retired life in Woodbine where he removed in the spring of 1881.

About 1854 Daniel HOWARTH settled on the southwest quarter of section 18. He lived in Crawford County for some time, but died in Douglas Twp in 1881. His son Edward owns the land, but now resides in Woodbine.

In 1856 a good number came in for settlement, including George W. PUGSLEY, of section 28, now owned by Robert HALL. PUGSLEY came from Ohio. He moved to Jefferson Twp and then to Woodbine, where he traded for a hotel. He now lives in Florida.

Nicholas FRANCIS came from Athens County, Ohio, in 1856, and settled on section 16. He was a mason by trade. His daughter married F.J. PORTER.

James BRADEN settled in 1857 on section 33, and died in Cass Twp about 1886.

Dr. David M. HALL became a resident of section 22, in 1856. He died about 1887. His son, John HALL, is in business at Woodbine.

William EVANS came to Douglas Twp in 1863. He came to the county in July, 1855, settling at Twelve Mile Grove. He served as a Union soldier in the 15th Iowa Infantry. His wife died in the autumn of 1863, and he went to Pennsylvania, remained two years and then settled on section 18.

James COLLINS was another of the 1856 settlers. He entered land on sections 7 and 18, where he still remains.

John S. HALL came to Douglas Twp in 1859, and located on section 36. He now lives at Woodbine.

Section 26, was first settled by Joseph COKELY and family. In 1876 they moved to Nebraska. He was an invalid.

John SPRINGER and family located, at the close of the Rebellion, on the northeast of section 22. He sold in 1880, and is now railroading.

Samuel DE COU came from Wiineshiek County in the fall of 1864, and in June, 1865, went to section 7. He remained there until 1885, and moved to Woodbine.

John B. LOWRY came to the county in the fall of 1866 and settled at what was platted at an early day as "Olmstead." He was a Congregational minister and on account of failing health bought land on section 5, and there remained until the autumn of 1879, when he traded for a part of section 9. He now owns land in sections 9 and 16.

Daniel ROCK settled in Cass Twp, on the Pigeon, in 1869, and three years later on section 16, of Douglas.

Theodore P. KELLOGG first settled in April 1858, on sections 10 and 11, of Harrison Twp. He pre-empted land and later bought land on section 21, near the Olmstead village plat. He lived there 5 years and bought on section 3, of Douglas, his present home.

"Mark" D. CROW settled on the northeast of section 16, about 1871. He remained 7 or 8 years and moved to Mills County and later to Minnesota.

L.E. ECKLESTON came from Connecticut in 1871 and settled on the southeast of section 5. In 1880, he sold, moved to another part of the county and in 1885, to section 10. He now resides at Dunlap.

G.L. CHAPMAN settled on wild land on section 5, in 1871. He remained until 1880 and soon moved to section 8, of Harrison Twp.

S.W. MORTON located on wild land, on sections 2 and 3, in 1879. He came from Jasper County, Iowa.

In 1872, Karl MICKISH, a Bohemian, settled on the northwest of section 19, and still lives there.

E. DOUGAL bought a partly improved farm on section 13 in 1873.

Issac DE COU came at the close of the war and settled where he now lives, on the northwest of section 5. His father is Samuel DE COU, a Canadian.

John FRINK settled on the northwest of section 8, in 1872. He came from Connecticut and bought land on section 13, where he lived awhile and finally sold to William SULLIVAN and returned to Connecticut.

In 1878, Aaron D. HOYER located on section 8, where he still resides.

J.N. CHAPMAN settled on the northwest of setion 5, about 1870. He bought BUMERT out and remained until the early 80's and then moved to Dunlap.

James H. TUTTLE came to section 17, in the spring of 1879.

Lewis L. DEUEL came from New York in March, 1872 and settled on wild land, on section 8.

George E. REIFF came from Pennsylvania in 1878 and took land on section 8. He came with four families: A.D. HOYER, W.S. ERMOLD and H.J. REIFF. They all exchanged city property in Reading, Penn. for land here.

In 1871, Alexander J. PITTS, of Orange County, N.Y. settled on section 11, where he still resides.

John SHIELDS, of section 26, came in 1879. He came from Ireland, when ten years of age.

Thomas F. JORDAN came in July, 1870 and in 1871 bought 40 acres of wild land on section 3. He now owns a thousand acres of land. He is a thorough-going man.

John M. PETERS, of section 2, came in March 1877. He had land here prior to that date. He is still a resident.

John GRIFFIN, an Irishman by birth, came from New York in 1874. He rented three years and then purchased land on section 23, where he is now a well-to-do farmer.

Libbieus D. HARRIS came in the spring of 1878 to section 32, where he still farms.

John M. TRACY settled in the spring of 1874 on section 17.

Martin KINNIE settled on section 11 in 1870. He bought land of M. BUMERT.

In 1870, another settler was William H. DE COU who finally settled on section 7.

Joseph ESYCHEEK came to Harrison County in 1871. He was a railroad hand two years and then bought forty acres of wild land on section 16. In 1883, he bought on section 27.

Harrison YOUNT, of section 5, Douglas Twp, came to the county in 1869, William R. KIRKHAM in 1876, and Peter CROGHAN, in 1873.

William H. BURKHOLDER dates his settlement from February 7, 1862.

Samuel MEFFERD ranks among the vangard of pioneers, who came in 1850 and was at that time but seven years of age, coming with his parents. He also came that year and now resides on section 30. They first located in Jefferson Twp, where they remained until 1853.


The first settler in Douglas Township was a Mormon named PIERCE. Then came the MEFFERDS and Mathew HALL.

The first school was taught on the subscription plan at George MEFFERD's home, in the winter of 1855-56. The teacher was Nathaniel MEFFERD.

The first schoolhouse was built of brick, on section 30, in the fall of 1866.

The first religious meetings of the township were held at George MEFFERD's, several years after they came to the county. Rev. J.A. MCINTOSH presided.

Mathew HALL and the MEFFERDs did the first breaking of land in the township.


Though away from railroads and towns, this portion of Harrison County has not neglected her common-school system. The foundation for good public schools was well laid away back in the 50's, when about 1856, a school was taught at George MEFFERD's residence, by Nathaniel MEFFERD, Owing to the township being thinly settled, no building was erected until ater the close of the Civil War, when one was reared of brick, on section 30.

The second school-house was built by J.B. FRANKLIN and W.H. BURKHOLDER in 1867. It was a log house on section 16. The first school there was taught by Carrie M. BURKHOLDER; she had eight pupils.

From time to time school-houses have been added as there seemed to be a demand for them, until to-day they have the Iowa "regulation" number nine -- one each two miles. There are over 200 pupils enrolled and the value of school property is estimated at $4,200.

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