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Harrison County Iowa Genealogy

Jefferson Township
excerpts from the 1891 Harrison County History

Reeder's Mills

Jefferson, one of Harrison County's banner townships and next to the largest in extent of area, is the second from the eastern as well as the second from the southern townships in the county. It comprises forty two sections in all, or an area of 26,880 acres. It was constituted in 1854, deriving its name from President Thomas Jefferson. In 1885, the population of the township was 2,341, including the city of Logan. The U.S. census of 1890 places the population 2,022. The greater part of this territory is prairie land; yet there is much natural timber in different parts, including Elk Grove, Six-Mile Grove, Harris Grove, Reel's Grove and that which skirts the banks of the picturesque Boyer River, the principal stream of the township and the county.

The Boyer River flows from section 4 on the northern line, to section 35 on the southwest corner, where it takes leave for La Grange and St. John's Townships. Six-Mile Creek and Harris Creek, with small tributaries, constitute the water courses of the township.

The line of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway follows the Boyer Valley through the domain of Jefferson Township, having the beautifully located town of Logan for a station point. The rural landscape, as well as Nature's own handiwork in this goodly locality, is ever a feast to the eye. The large, well cultivated farms, the fine farmhouses, barns, wind-mills, and bearing orchards -- the thousands of acres of corn and grain and grasses, together with the feeding of cattle and horses and swine, all go toward making up a scene rich and replete for the hand of the artist.


To have been the first settler in what is now known as Jefferson Township, was to become a pioneer indeed. Such honor belongs to Jason Z HUNT, who left the state of New York in 1850, and landed in this county during the month of May of the same year. He located on section 13, remained ten years and moved to section 12, where he erected the second brick house in the county. He owned nearly 300 acres of excellent land. He was a brother-in-law of Stephen KING. He died in September, 1891.

James MCCURLEY settled in La Grange Township in 1851 and in Jefferson early in the 50's on the land now (1891) owned by A LONGMAN. B.F. LA PORTE settled in 1851 and has followed the blacksmith's trade most of the time. S.E. DOW became a settler in 1851, and in 1858 went on to Crawford County and founded Dow City.

Other pioneers included the Hon. Stephen KING, the first County Judge; Peter BRADY in 1852 and who built the first Yankee Barn in the County; Thomas VANDERHOOF in 1852; Wickliffe B COPELAND; James DUNGAN in 1852 or 1853; Jacob KIRK in 1853; Alfred LONGMAN,SR in 1853; John W HENDERSON in April,1853; Samuel MCGAVREN in February,1853; Henry REEL in 1853; George THORPE in 1853; Phineas CADWELL in 1854; Shedrick B CARD in May,1854; James HANER in 1854 with his father William; David LITTLE; Lowry WILSON in April,1854; Elijah R PECKENPAUGH in June,1854; William and Ezra PERRY in 1854 from Virginia; Thomas RICHARDSON in 1854 from Indiana.

During the years of 1855 through 1857 came these: Thomas J ACREA; Henry KNAUSS; Isaac CHILES; James L ARMSTRONG; Ed E ERVIN; James MCCOID; Amasey BEEDLE; Charles SCOFIELD; John A WESTON; Anson SMITH.


To Sylvia HARRIS, now Mrs B.F. LA PORTE of Logan, belongs the honor of teaching the first school in Jefferson Township. It was in section 22 in a log cabin owned by Peter BRADY, and was first taught in the autumn of 1853. She came with Mr. BRADY from the East in 1852. This pioneer school building was used on the spot where it was built, for three years and then removed about one hundred rods to the southwest, where it served as a school for some years.

Other early teachers were Lindley M EVANS and a Miss VORE -- the last named taught at a private house in 1857. The building is now owned by H.V. ARMSTRONG, but at that date by C. GOSS.

At the present time(1891) the school system has greatly changed from what was in those early years. The Township now has five commodious school houses and an enrollment of pupils amounting to 203. The above relates to the territory outside of the Independent District of Logan.


Perhaps the earliest religious services held in the township were at the house of James DUNGAN, a Campbellite minister, in 1853. A Methodist class was formed at an early day at Six Mile Grove, Rev Mr. SCOTT was the first Methodist minister sent out by the conference to preach for this part of the country. He came in 1855.

At present most of the church going populace of the township attend church at Logan. The Methodists hold regular service at Reeder's Mills, being supplied from Logan charge.


Jeddo was the name of a village platted on section 12-79-42, January 12. 1856, by Jesse DENISON (of Denison, Iowa) and George THORPE; Mr DENSISON acting as attorney in fact for Anson BRIGGS and wife. At one time this point bid fair to become a place of much importance, but time's changes ordered differently and today(1891) the town site is cultivated as farm land, by Senator L.R. BOLTER, who purchased the town lots and moved the buildings.

But Jeddo has its history, so we hasten to make its record in this connection. The first store was opened by Alexander MCCOY, who also erected the first dwelling in this embryo town. The store was a part of the dwelling and the first display of goods was made in August, 1856. He carried a general stock of merchandise for about three years and then sold to James MCCOID, who conducted the store for three years longer, sold nearly all the goods and removed the remainder to Reeder's Mills ("Hard Scratch").

From 1858 to 1860 a store was operated at Jeddo by George SHEPHERD. A Hotel was built by pioneer Alexander MCCOY in 1856 or 1857; it stood on the site of the present school building. It was finally purchased by L.R. BOLTER and sold to L CRANE, who moved to his farm in Boyer Township and changed it into a dwelling house.

A blacksmith shop was started by Charles BAKER, who operated it two years and was then succeeded by Jackson DOUGHERTY, who ran the same from 1860 to 1865.

A post-office was established in 1856, with Owen THORPE as postmaster. He came from Indiana in 1853. He was a well educated man and was known as "Judge THORPE." He owned 120 acres of land, which he finally sold to L.R. BOLTER; he had built a good farm house on the place.

A saw mill was constructed on Six Mile Creek, in 1854, by George THORPE; it was near Jeddo. This mill was burned and another was built at the same point during the Civil War by POST & CHASE, who operated it two years and sold to John VANARSDALE, and he in turn sold to MCCOID & BEEDLE in about 1870. They ran it for three years and abandoned it, and it was finally torn down.

Jeddo (notwithstanding it had a rival town on section 10, known as "Buena Vista") became a good trading point and had at one time nearly a hundred inhabitants with a dozen or more dwellings; but no trace of a town can now be found.


This place was platted as "Buena Vista," July 14, 1856, on section 10-79-42, but owing to another post-office in Iowa by the same name, the place was called Whitesboro, after one of the proprietors -- George W WHITE. This was a rival point, and only three miles from Jeddo. The gentlemen who platted the place were: George H WHITE, Thomas REEDER, Stephen KING, Levi REEDER, and H.F. SHINN. It led off with several small stores, two hotels, shops, etc., but with the building of the Northwestern railway in 1866-67 the village was left friendless, save by its fond projectors, who were compelled to succumb to the inevitable, and hence "Buena Vista" (Whitesboro) was no more!

In its palmy days George H WHITE conducted what was known to pioneers as the "White House." He also kept a small store furnishing such articles of household necessity as his somewhat limited trade and more limited means allowed him to carry.

A post-ofice was established with George H WHITE as postmaster in 1856. A blacksmith shop of the "one-horse" order was operated by H.J. ALLEE, who in 1866, sold his forge and good will to B.F. LA PORTE, who the year following removed to the newly platted town of Logan.

George H WHITE sold his "store" to C.C. COOLE, and he soon formed a partnership with B FISH, who moved in from Cedar Rapids. They only remained a year and removed to Logan and built a brick hotel, known as the Logan Hotel. D.W. KENNEDY owns the land(1891) where Whitesboro once stood.


The vicinity known as Reeder's Mills. at an early day was styled "Hard Scratch" and is frequently so called at the present time(1891). Much of the historic interest clusters about this locality. It is an important post-office of the county and its history dates back to 1857, when Jasen WHITINGER and Norman SQUIRES brought a sawmill from Guthrie County, Iowa, and set it in motion at this point, which is within the upper end of Harris Grove, on section 35, near Harris Grove Creek.

These gentlemen operated this mill several years, then sold to Thomas and William REEDER, who added a set of burrs, thus converting it into a combined saw and grist mill. They sold to John D DOW, who ran the same two years and sold the saw-mill to Samuel DEAGLE, and removed the burrs and other grinding machinery to Needmore, in Cass Township. The old saw-mill bought by DEAGLE, was sold to Joseph CHILDS, who made a barn of it. The engine was removed to the Cherokee Nation in 1879.

The first store put in Reeder's Mills was the one opened by Thomas CALVIN and Cyrus BROADWELL, in the fall of 1866. They conducted it about two years and then removed the building, as well as the stock of goods to Logan. In the fall of 1867, MCCOID Bros. (James and Aaron) built a building at Reeder's Mills and put in a general stock of goods. Two years later, James sold to his brother Aaron, who continued until 1872, then removed to Logan.

Charles Kemmish started a general store, and a year or two later Aaron MCCOID returned from Logan and bought him out, operated it for two years and sold a half interest to W.D. ARMSTRONG -- the firm being MCCOID & ARMSTRONG. MCCOID sold to ARMSTRONG, who ran the business until fall and formed a partnership with James HANER, consolidating their stocks and changing the firm to HANER & ARMSTRONG.

A post-office was established at this point in 1858, with Jasen WHITINGER as postmaster. He continued in the ofice until 1863 and was succeeded by John D DOW, who was postmaster until 1867, then came N.H. VANARSDALE from 1867 to 1974. James HANER then took the office and is still(1891) holding the position, which is one of usefulness, though not a lucrative one.

A wagon-shop was started at the place in 1867 by P.C. KEMMISH, who ran it about six years and removed to a farm. J.P. COWAN started a wagon shop in 1879, and still(1891) works at his trade at this point.

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