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Harrison County Iowa Genealogy

Harrison Township
excerpts from the 1891 Harrison County History

This is the northeast corner subdivision of the county and comprises township 81, range 41. It is six square miles, hence contains 24,040 acres. On its north is Crawford County, on the east Shelby County, on the south Douglas Township and on its west Lincoln Township. It was organized in 1856. The chief stream found within its borders is the Boyer River, which flows diagonally through the territory, entering on section 3 and leaving on section 31. Picayunne Creek crosses the southeastern portion of this township and Mill Creek, coming from the East, forms confluence with the Boyer on section 20. Weimer's Grove constitutes the principal natural timberland. This is found in the northwestern part of the township and covers 250 acres.

The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad traverses this township, following the Boyer Valley, coming in on section 3, and running on an air line to the southwest corner of this township.

The only town within Harrison Township is Dunlap, a prominent station on the Northwestern Railway, on sections 2 and 3. The population of the township in 1885, including Dunlap, was 2,087. The 1890 U.S. Census returns place it at 1,797. The decrease is owing to the fact that the railway shops were removed from Dunlap during this period.


The first to effect settlement in what is now known as Harrison Township were James WELCH, Henry OLMSTEAD and Ethel P. BROWN, who came the latter part of 1856 and early part of 1857. WELCH came from Indiana and located on the northwest quarter of section 33, and commenced improvement, but in the spring of 1857 he moved over into Crawford County and sold to G.C. ROBERTS. Ethel P. BROWN located on the northeast of section 13, on 40 acres. He remained there until after the Civil War, having served in that terrible conflict as a member of Company C, Twenty-Ninth Iowa Infantry. He sold and removed to Shelby County.

The same year (1856) Henry OLMSTEAD, J.L. ROBERTS and C.S. WAY came in from Connecticut. OLMSTEAD settled on the southeast of section 22. He was identified with the township until the autumn of 1861, when he was killed by falling from a load of lumber being drawn by a spirited team, the heavy load passing over his body. He left a wife and four children, who remained in the township until 1879. The mother died and the children left the county.

In the spring of 1857 a party came from Connecticut. They were: Lorenzo KELLOGG, B.F. ROBERTS, A.N. WARREN, A.F. ROBERTS, Anson SMITH, Charles PITKIN, George HEDGE, and Marvin HAYES. G.C. ROBERTS came in April of that year from Texas. The above were permanent settlers and were all formerly from near Hartford, Connecticut. L.D. CHANDLER, Charles PITKIN and Abijah PERKINS came at the same time, but only remained a short time. This New England colony settled as follows: G.C. ROBERTS bought WELCH out on section 22; J.L. ROBERTS settled on section 23, as did B.F. ROBERTS; A.N. WARREN on section 14; H.B. LYMAN, section 2; Ed. BRACE on section 14; he is dead; Anson SMITH settled on section 27 and had a blacksmith shop; George HEDGE, a carpenter, located on section 27, and Lorenzo KELLOGG on 28.

H.B. LYMAN and Ed. BRACE came in the fall of 1856 and wintered at North Grove, Crawford County, and in the spring of 1857 settled in Harrison County. William BENJAMIN and family came in 1859 and settled on section 12, remained a few years and removed to Oregon. T.P. KELLOGG came from Connecticut in the spring of 1858, located on section 11; he now resides in Douglas Township.

William M. ROBERTS (father of B.F. ROBERTS) came from Connecticut in the spring of 1860 and located on section 23. Both he and his wife died in Harrison Township. Their family married and settled in this county. W.H.H. WRIGHT settled on section 29, in 1860 and is still(1891) a resident.

During war times there were several families who came in from Missouri. They were "Border-State" ruffians who would not go into either army. They left at the close of the war -- lamented by none! Just at the close of the war William REED came in as a settler. In 1864, Gid. FRANCIS settled.

Other early settlers in this part of the county were:
Henry CANFIELD, who came about 1860; he is deceased.
William JOHNSON settled on section 22, in 1858.
Sanford HAYES came in 1858, settling on the northeast of section 1; he remained three years and then moved to Nebraska.
John T. DAVIE located on section 1, in 1860; he bought HAYES out and died on the place some years afterward.
"Theodore" GROVES came in 1866, as did C.O. HATCH. Both of these men finally removed from the township.

W.T. PRESTON and family came from New England in 1868 and settled where they now reside, near Dunlap. Their farm is among the finest in all Harrison County.

George F. RIGGS effected a settlement on section 2, in 1860. His brother, William, came at the same time. In a year or so George sold out and moved to Boyer Township, but subsequently settled on section 31, of Harrison Twp.

Elisha MAHONEY came to the county with his parents in 1867. He was a cooper by trade. At first they lived in Lincoln Twp, but finally settled on section 29, of Harrison.

David C. MEYERS came to this part of the county in 1871, locating on section 10, near Dunlap. He remained 12 years and then moved to Dunlap.

John WEED, who was a Union soldier from Illinois, came in 1867. He was a carpenter by trade and followed it until 1874, when he purchased land on section 1, remained four years and moved into Dunlap.

The above made up the principal early settlers of Harrison Township. Personal sketches, in the biographical department of this book, will give more in detail, concerning all that they passed through in developing a wild prairie township, into what has come to be one of the banner subdivisions of the county.

Other settlers included: A.B. VINING - early 50's.
Salem TOWN, a resident since 1866.
Harry H. PRIOR came to Iowa in 1867 and to Harrison County in 1869.
Jacob PROBASCO became a resident in 1878.
Edward B. MEAD came in 1880 from LaSalle County, Illinois.
William MOORE, who operates a farm with brother A.P. came in 1884.
Barney MCELROY came July 3, 1869.
Mathew L. JENNINGS, son of Levi, came in 1881. His brother, Henry JENNINGS, who served in the 53rd Illinois Infantry also came in 1881.
Sylvester L. HICKOX came in 1868, a native of Connecticut.
B.S. GREENE, also a native of Connecticut, came in 1870.
Elida BARRETT located in July, 1883.
Marion ARNOLD dates his settlement in the county to 1868.
Thomas A. BURLING, who ran the first engine over the C&NW Railroad into Council Bluffs, located in 1881.
Giles L. CHAPMAN came in 1868.
Archille CHEVALIER is a native of Switzerland and came to the county in 1878.


The first settlers were James WELCH, Ethel P. BROWN and Henry OLMSTEAD, who came in 1856.
The first child born, was Lula WAY, in 1856.
The first death in the township was that of Frederick W. WARREN, who died August 18, 1861. Henry Olmstead was the next - he died in December.
The first marriage was that of A.N. WARREN to Anna Eliza STOWE, in 1858 -- the ceremony being performed on January 22.
The first house erected was a log building, 16x20 fet, put up by Ethel P. Brown, in 1855, on section 13.
The first frame house was built by Henry OLMSTEAD, on setion 22, in 1856.
The first brick burned, was from Lorenzo KELLOGG's kiln, in 1857. He also built the first brick house. It was built on section 27, and was used by him as a residence.
The first breaking was the work of James WELCH, on section 33, in 1856.
At the call for volunteers to put down the Rebellion over one half of the able bodied men of the township enlisted. One reason given for so great a proportion enlisting, is that the first settlers were nearly all New England men and consequently born liberty-loving, loyal and patriotic.

The first post-office was established in 1858, at the home of Henry OLMSTEAD. T.P. KELLOGG then held the office as the second postmaster. He served until Dunlap was established, when "Olmstead Post-Office" was discontinued. This pioneer office was on the mail route from Adel to Magnolia. At first mail came once a week, later twice a week.

The first grist mill was built by A.K. GROW, on section 31. It was completed in 1868. It had two run of burrs and was propelled by the waters of the Boyer River. It is related that "two kernels were ground into one"!


Being a highly intelligent people, in this part of Harrison County, schools have been fully up to the standard, from the earliest settlement of this township. The first term of school was held in the winter of 1859-60, at a brick schoolhouse, on section 27; taught by Joe P. DAY. The full enumeration of the township at that time was 17 males and 11 females. The brick building referred to was on the northwest quarter of section 27, and was finally removed.

Among the early schools was the one in Vineland District. The building in which this school was taught was "fearfully and wonderfully made." It was built by A.B. VINING and J.E. EMERSON and it was composed of four posts set into the ground. To these posts were spiked boards -- leaving one doorway and two windows. There was no floor, save the hard earth, until cold weather came on, and a rough floor was added. This was built in 1868 and the first to teach was Mary CROMMIE. In this shanty-school-house they held some "huge old spelling schools" and it is quite evident that hearts were there welded by love's influence, as shown by the county marriage records.

With the settling up of the township, schoolhouses were provided until now there are six frame school-buildings outside of those found in Dunlap. In October, 1890, there were 98 pupils enrolled in the township.

A primitive school-house was built in 1869, near where now stands the "Vineland School House." It was erected by A.B. VINING and J.E. EMERSON. The size of the house was 12x16. The frame of the building consisted of six posts being set three feet in the ground. Those on the one side were cut six feet high and on the opposite they were eight feet high - this gave the roof a proper slant. The building was weather-boarded with rough lumber and battened with two inch strips. One window, in the south side, had a few 8x10 lights provided. A batten door in the east hung on wooden hinges. The furniture consisted of one chair, without a back, for the teacher. A board planed on one side was fastened up to the south side for a desk. Seats were constructed by driving stakes in the ground, cut the desirable heighth, with boards securely nailed to them. Mother earth furnished the floor. A stove stood in the center, with a pipe through the roof. The district allowed the builders $3 per month rent, during school months. Mary CROMMIE (now Mrs. CANFIELD, of Woodbine) was the first teacher in this building, so "fearfully and wonderfully made"!

OLMSTEAD (defunct)

What was recorded as the village of Olmstead, was platted, December 3, 1857. It was on section 27 -- township 81, range 41. It was laid out into lots by Henry Olmstead, one of the earliest settlers in the township. This was on table-land three miles to the south of Dunlap. The place never advanced and only for the pages of history, the reader, or later resident of this county, would never be informed of its existence, for all that marks the spot is the brick house erected by Lorenzo KELLOGG and now(1891) owned by Mathew JENNINGS.


This thriving society -- a fixture of Harrison Township, was founded in the summer of 1872, by a few ladies on Mill Creek. The object of the society is to create a friendly feeling, between families of this part of the county; to discuss, informally, those things that come within the province of farmers' wives, in order to break the endless monotony of such a life. Simplicity and a kind of "every dayness" has marked its form and detail, but it has filled a useful sphere, and has grown in strength, interest and numbers.

At first, it was confined to Mill Creek farners' wives, but has now extended beyond the Boyer on the west and the Picayunne on the south. Over 100 ladies' names have been enrolled upon its books. August 12, 1891, they held their 19th annual picnic. It was held at B.F. ROBERTS' grove, with an attendance of about 200. The following were charter members: Mrs. William ROBERTS, Mrs. James ROBERTS, Mrs. Frank ROBERTS, Mrs. Althea BROWN, Mrs. Charles HATCH, Mrs. Lorenzo KELLOGG, Mrs. Theodore GRAVES and Mrs. B.S. GREEN.


H.C. MOORE was instantly killed by the lightning, while standing in the door-way of an unfinished house. This was just after the war.

In 1867, a cyclone passed through Harrison Township from the southeast. It was only about three rods in width, but very violent and destroyed all fences and light buildings along its track.

In 1875, a violent wind storm wrecked the unfinished Roman Catholic Church, at Dunlap and the big barn, belonging to W.T. PRESTON. No very serious, devastating storms have ever swept over this part of the county since the first settlement.

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