Go to: History Index * Home Page

Harrison County Iowa Genealogy

Jackson Township
excerpts from the 1891 Harrison County History

Jackson is in the northern tier of townships of Harrison County and comprises a portion of Congressional township 81, range 44, as well three sections of the northwest corner of township 80, range 44. There are 31 sections in all, or equal to 19,200 acres. This township dates its organization from 1856 and its re-organization from 1860. It takes its name from the Soldier-Statesman old Andrew Jackson. Its chief stream is the Soldier River, which is skirted with quite an amount of excellent timber, in all amounting to over 1,000 acres. The Soldier flows from section 1 to section 34.

Geographically Jackson is bounded by Monona County on the north; Allen Twp on the east; Raglan on the south and Little Sioux on the west. In 1885, its population was 479, largely of American birth. The 1890 census gives it 525. It is without towns or railroad facilities but is well improved.


For convenience the settlement of this township will be divided off into decades -- commencing with the "fifties," coming down over a period of thirty years, giving the most prominent settlers and not aiming to omit any of the early ones. Should names of any be missing it will be readily understood that it is no easy task to go back over the long ago years and bring to record things long lost sight of by the memory of the pioneers themselves.

Among those in the vanguard was Alfred and Isaac WHITNEY, who came in 1855, the former settling on section 9, and the latter on section 16. They were mere boys and came with their mother, who was an English lady. They still reside in the township.

Elijah COBB, a Mormon, settled on section 12, on the east side of the Soldier River in 1856. The place is now(1891) owned by S.C. BARTHOLOMEW. His brother, Elisha COBB, settled the same year and is still a resident of section 12.

William B. MCWILLIAMS settled on section 35, where he purchased 120 acres in the spring of 1856, paying $4 per acre for the same. He is still an honored resident.

Thomas B. MCWILLIAMS, son of William above referred to, accompanied his parents to the township and remained with them until 23 years of age when he bought land on section 26. The tract was a half section for which he paid $5 per acre. He now has a well-improved farm and is reaping the reward of early frugality.

Among the earliest to come to Jackson Township should be named Ephraim ELLIS of section 27. The land is now(1891) owned by William ARTHUR. Mr. ELLIS went back to Ohio, entered the Union army and was killed.

J. A. MORRILL came in the fall of 1857 to section 26, and later bought on section 5-80-44. He moved to the village of Little Sioux.

Lewis E. TOLLE, of section 22, bought 274 acres of wild land in 1857. He served as a soldier in time of the Civil War.

John JOHNSON came to the township in 1859. He was a weaver by trade. He finally settled on section 28, where he died in 1883.

George HARRIET and wife, Leah, and three children settled in the south part of the township in 1857, but returned to Ohio in 1863.

Harrison C. SMITH, of section 35, came to the township in the spring of 1857 and bought 160 acres of land at $1.25 per acre; but by using a land warrant it only cost him $1 per acre. He soon went to Colorado, where he remained six years and them returned to improve his land, where he still lives.

In February, 1865, James ROBERTS came from Colorado and purchased a section of land -- the same being section 4.

In the spring of 1865, Albert M. JONES, Sr. (now deceased) bought land and settled on section 23. He was a large land owner. He died in about 1867.

William SHAW and family settled on section 3-80-44 in 1865. He deserted the wife he had sworn to shield and protect and went to Idaho, about 1875, taking another woman with him. Benjamin SHAW, a brother of the above, came the same time but soon left.

Allen STUART came to this vicinity in 1866, first located in Lincoln Twp, rented land ten years and then moved to Jackson, on section 9, and is still there.

Orson P. EDMONDS came to section 5, in 1867.

Edward A. JONES came to Morgan Twp in 1867 and bought an interest with Amos CHASE in the steam saw mill business. Six years later he bought 120 acres of wild land. He still lives on the same tract.

William ARTHUR and family came from St. John's Township in the autumn of 1867, remained a short time with his father-in-law, William McWILLIAMS and then in 1869 located on the land once owned by pioneer Ephraim ELLIS, on section 26 and 27, where he is now a prosperous farmer and highly respected citizen.

Some time prior to his coming, Joseph MILES settled on section 14, where he still lives. He came from Vermont in the fall of 1857.

William ROSS located on section 28, but now resides on section 21.

A.M. SILSBY came in July, 1868, to section 34. The Soldier River meanders through and makes beautiful his farm. He came from Essex County, NY and is farming and also doing business at Little Sioux.

Robert H. EVERETT came with his parents in 1867 and in 1868 bought 40 acres of land on section 26, which was partly improved at the time. He still resides there and farms.

Henry L. SWEET, of section 10, came to the county in 1858, located in Union Twp, coming to his present farm in 1869. He now owns 240 acres.

F.W. BROOKS settled on section 4-81-44 about 1870 and remained about ten years and left.

Amos C. CHASE, who had been a pioneer of pioneers -- coming to this county in 1848, became a resident of Jackson Township in 1870.

Marshall OVIATT, of section 35, came to the county in 1865 and to Jackson Twp in 1871. He died in September, 1891.

William G. FISHER came in 1870 and rented land of William ARTHUR and finally bought land on section 3.

William H. VREDENBURGH came to Little Sioux in 1862, rented land ten years and then bought on section 11, of Jackson, where he still resides.

Joseph W. REILLY (deceased) came to this county in 1865 and located at Missouri Valley and about 1875 bought on section 3, of Jackson Twp. He died about 1888, the family still remain in place.

Frank W. COTTRELL came in the spring of 1878 and purchased 280 acres of wild land on section 12, where he still resides.

Archer ROSE, of section 4, came to the county in the fall of 1876, remained in the vicinity of Missouri Valley until 1880, when he bought a partly improved farm on section 4, of Jackson Township.

Charles VREDENBURGH, a resident of section 21, came to the county in the spring of 1863, driving 450 miles with four horses.

George W. CONNYERS located in Little Sioux Township in 1868 and ran a saw mill. He afterward removed to Jackson and located on section 2, where he died May 1, 1885.

J.A. COFFMAN, of section 33, accompanied his parents to the county in 1866.

Albert M. WALL, of section 13, first located in Magnolia Township in the autumn of 1870.

Benjamin S. MILES, of section 14, came to the county in the autumn of 1866 and located on the farm which he now occupies.

C.R. CONNYERS accompanied his parents to the county in 1868.

J.O. ALTON came to the county in 1874 and for six years rented land after which he purchased his present place. In March, 1885, he came near having a fatal accident by the falling of a tree.

In 1874, Ned M. ATHEY became a resident of Harrison County and being a poor man worked out and rented land for some time in St. John's Township, finally bought land in that township, sold at a good price and purchased a home in Jackson Twp.

T.J. BRYCESON, of section 22, has been a resident of this county since the spring of 1873. He is a native of England, sailed for America as soon as he reached his majority and has had quite an eventful life, which can be seen by referring to his personal sketch (posted at this web site).

In 1883, Frederick C. BEAN located in Jackson Twp, on the farm which he now occupies.

Charles C. CHAMPNEY dates his settlement in Jackson Twp from 1884. He came to this county in 1867, first locating in Cincinnati Twp.

In the spring of 1884, Charles C. ERICHSON located in Taylor Township, where he rented land for six years after which he came to Jackson Twp. He is a prominent farmer.

Joseph FOREMAN is a native of Pottawattamie County, was born in 1856 and when 20 years old, located in Harrison County.

In 1860, Joseph FOX came to the county and commenced driving stage between Council Bluffs and Sioux City, which he followed for six years. He ran the hotel at Little Sioux for a time, also farmed in that township but seven years ago located on his present(1891) farm.

Samuel E. HEDGES, an enterprising farmer of Jackson Twp, has been a resident of Harrison County since 1881, first locating in Little Sioux Twp.

In the spring of 1865, Albert M. JONES located on his present farm of 780 acres. He is a native of Hancock, County, Ill.

Orson P. EDMONDS, of Jackson Twp, met with a terrible accident, and was bereft of his eight-year old daughter, by a team running away, in September, 1886. He had started home from River Sioux, going by way of Little Sioux, but by some means lost control of his team. They continued to run up along the levee. After going a quarter a mile the tongue to the wagon dropped down and run into the ground, which threw the wagon and its occupants high into the air. This took place near the residence of Mr. HENRY, from which several ladies witnessed the sight and at once hastened to render assisitance, when to all appearance, the lifeless forms of the father and daughter lay before them. Examination by them proved that the little girl's neck had been broken, so that death must have been instantaneous. The father was finally restored, after several days of anxious waiting and medical care.


No postal facilities were had in Jackson Township until 1872. During that year two offices were established -- one at the house of A.M. SILSBY, who kept the office eleven years, when he resigned in favor of Mrs. Amos S. CHASE, who had charge until the office was discontinued in 1885. The name of this post office was "Soldier Valley."

The same year, the department established an office known as "Mt. Pisgah."
E.C. COBB was made the first postmaster and kept the office at his farm home on section 12. From him the office went to J.G. MILES on section 14 and from that point to Peyton's Mill, on the same section. George PEYTON was commissioned postmaster and is still serving as such. This office is on the route from Little Sioux to Moorhead and mail is had three times each week, each way.


The saw and grist mill are almost the first evidence of civilized life in a new country. Here in Jackson Township, early in the 50's, a saw mill with a "corn-cracker" in connection was contructed in section 4-80-44, propelled by the waters of the Soldier River. It was built by "Bill" MARTIN and was of much service to the earliest settlers in the locality.

What is known as the "Gravel Bank Mills" on the Soldier and on section 14, was built in 1872, by M. CLAPPER and Jane WAKEFIELD. It was a combined saw and grist mill. It was finally purchased by L. PEYTON, who still operates it.


Early in the history of settlement in this part of Harrison County, much interest was taken in trying to establish well the foundations for a good school system.

A log-school building was erected by the little bank of pioneers, who had children to send to school. It was located on the northwest of the northeast quarter of section 34 and was built in 1858. Sophronia NILES was the first instructor employed. Cynthia SCOFIELD, now Mrs. Gus GLEASON, and Alice MAIN were among the early teachers.

The next school house was built in 1867 on section 26; it is known as the "Red School House," as it was a frame building painted red. There are now four neat school buildings in Jackson Township and the enrollment of scholars in 1890 was 154.


In the early autumn of 1856, a Methodist Episcopal class was formed, as a part of the Magnolia Circuit. The first members of this pioneer class were: Polly Ann MCWILLIAMS and her daughter (who is now the wife of William ARTHUR) and Ephraim ELLIS. During the early years, services were held at private houses and a little later on in the school houses. In September, 1890, a neat frame church was built on the southwest of the northwest corner of section 26. Its cost was $2,000. It was dedicated, September 14, 1890, by Rev. W.T. SMITH.

This class is now known as the Soldier Valley class in connection with the Little Sioux circuit. The present membership is 81.

Return to Township Histories

To Harrison County Home Page