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Harrison County Iowa Genealogy

Magnolia Township
excerpts from the 1891 Harrison County History

This is the oldest, the largest and most central Township in Harrison County. It was constituted with the organization of the county, in 1853, and as now constituted comprises all of township 80, range 43, and one third of township 79, range 43. It contains forty-eight sections, Its name was the one given to the first county seat, which was located within its border. The Legislature named it from the beautiful flowering tree growing in the South.

Allen Twp is north, Boyer and Jefferson east; Calhoun and Jefferson are on the south, while Raglan is on the west.

Mahnolia is well supplied with many beautiful streams and springs, which make glad the heart of man. Native forests lend a peculiar beauty to this portion of the county -- they must be seen to be fully appreciated. In all there are about 2600 acres of natural timber. The chief stream is the Willow River, which meanders through the south and eastern portion, with small tributaries coming her and there. Among the creeks of Magnolia Township may be named: Allen Creek, Thompson's Creek, Huffman Creek, Steer Creek, Hog Creek, Elk Creek, Bloomer Creek.

The largest native grove is "Magnolia," then comes "Spink's" and "Biglers." Pratically speaking the first settlement in Harrison County was made in this township. Magnolia village is the only hamlet here. It was the county seat from 1853 to 1876. It is in the midst of a well developed and most excellent agricultural district, where one may see the bounties of nature strewn on every hand. In 1885, the census report gave it 1,207 population, while the U.S. census of 1890 placed it at 1,232.


To have been a pioneer in Magnolia township was indeed an honor, and one worthy of a special record in the county's history. By a careful research it is found that the first to locate in Magnolia Twp, as now bounded, was George BLACKMAN. Mr. BLACKMAN located in 1850, on section 29, where he still(1891) lives.

James HARDY and family soon settled where Magnolia village now stands, or near that point. The date of his coming was 1853. He subsequently removed to Calhoun township. He was a valuable pioneer and operated one of the first mills in the county.

Lucius MERCHANT became a settler in 1851. He came in the spring of the year and located on section 8-79-43, where he claimed a half section of land, on which stood a cabin and where a small garden patch had been broken.

In 1854, Isaac BEDSAUL settled on section 29-80-43. He came in company with his father's family. The father operated the second store at Magnolia village. He finally sold the store and bought land on section 33-80-43. Isaac BEDSAUL was a member of Company C, 29th Iowa Infantry.

Silas RICE came in June, 1855, lived at the village one year and then purchased a farm on section 4, where he built a loghouse in the spring of 1856. He was a brother of Dr. J.H. RICE, who came to this county in 1854. At the time of Silas RICE's death in March, 1874, he owned over 400 acres of land.

D.E. BRAINARD came in 1855. He was a prominent man and was Judge of the county. C.I. CUTLER came in 1853, settling on section 7. He died in 1855. Isaac GEORGE came about the same time and settled in the south part of the township, where he died in 1855. Solomon BARNETT also came in with the 1853 settlers and took land on section 5. He died in Union Twp in 1888.

A.W. LOCKLING and family came in 1851, locating on section 7-79-43. His two sons were H.H. and O.W. LOCKLING.

About 1852, Judge Jonas CHATBURN came in from Mills County. He was an Englishman, who came to America about 1850, and was of the Latter Day Saint's faith. He was elected to the position of County Judge and also has the honor (with a partner) of building and operating the first mill in Mills, Harrison and Shelby counties. He now(1891) resides at Harlan, Shelby county.

Peter SMITH came to the township prior to the Civil War and bought land on section 5-79-44. He was killed by a runaway team. Thomas VANDERHOOF, of Michigan, claimed land on section 7-79-43, but only remained a short time.

A.L. HARVEY came from Newton, Iowa, in June, 1856, but just prior to that time from New York, his native state. He settled at the village of Magnolia, where he was engaged in merchandising and later in real-estate business. He was a single man at the time, but soon married and reared a family. He remained a prominent business factor there until the removal of the county seat, when, with other pioneers, he removed to Logan, where he still(1891) resides. He is still a heavy real-estate dealer and banker at this point.

Joseph BENCE came in 1856, settling where he now lives on section 1-79-43. Frederick HAUFF, Sr., settled on section 8-79-43, in the spring of 1857, and in 1869, moved to section 14. Frederick W. HAUFF, Jr., settled at Bigler's Grove in 1861, but had been there since 1857. In 1866, he moved to section 27, and bought a farm of 120 acres. Henry HANNEMAN, Sr., came from Indiana with a horse team in October, 1855. He was a German. He took land on section 8-79-43, where he still resides.

Among the very early and prominent pioneer settlers may be named Stephen MAHONEY, who had a family of eleven children and came in company with one hundred and thirty other persons. They were Latter Day Saints, who came from Maryland. They came to Council Bluffs in April, 1851, and came to Magnolia township in 1852, entering land on section 33-80-43, which is still owned by the widow. He died in February, 1888. He and Judge CHATBURN operated the first saw and shingle mill in Harrison County, continuing for 16 years. He paid forty per cent interest for money with which to enter his land.

Wells F. WALKER came to the county in 1857, during the month of May. He was a carpenter by trade and followed this at Magnolia until 1861, when he went to the mountains and in 1867 returned and puchased wild land on section 16, where he still resides. Jerome Seeley came in the autumn of 1858, locating at Magnolia. He drove stage a while, but finally settled on 80 acres on section 7 where he still lives. Henry GEITH settled on section 7, prior to the Civil War and still resides there. Henry LORANTZ came about the same time, locating on 6-79-43.

In 1855, "Capt" William M. HILL located at Magnolia. He was from Virginia and became a prominent man here, but through a chain of unfortunate circumstances connected with the Rebellion and his sympathy with the South, he got into trouble with the Government and he finally became insane and died at the hospital about 1885. He was a man of noble impulses, but was his own worst enemy. He was County Clerk several terms.

John and William RAYMOND settled in 1856 or 1857 on section 18.
P.G. and William COOPER were settlers prior to the organization of the county, coming in 1851 or 1852. They were both among the first set of county officals. They finally moved West, but at this time William resides near Mondamin.

Chester M. HAMILTON came early in the 50's. He was a "character" and was well known for many of his pioneer peculiarities. His experience with the thieving Indians, an account which may be found in this book, shows the style of the man. He moved to Nebraska about war times, but is now(1891) counted among Harrison County's citizens. James W. BATES settled at Magnolia in 1853, remained 10 years and went ot Colorado. Joel H. PATCH became a settler in 1853 on section 14-80-43. His wife died in 1853 and he survived until 1874.

Michael DOYLE removed to Magnolia in the spring of 1855 and followed day labor until 1861 and then bought 80 acres of wild land on section 10-79-43. He was a member of Company C, 29th Iowa Infantry during the Civil War. William T. FALLON settled in Magnolia Twp in 1857. He followed freighting across the plains several years. He ran the "Raymond Hotel" at Magnolia for some time and in 1876 moved back to his farm. He is a native of Maryland; his brother Joseph and sister Hattie came to this county with him.

George MAIN, who had lived in Raglan Twp since 1856, went to the war and in 1863 the family moved into Magnolia village. After the close of the war, Mr. MAIN returned and still lives at Magnolia. Henry CHAMPNEY came in 1867 to Raglan, but a year later removed to Magnolia Twp. William C. CUTLER, of section 9, came in 1853 with his parents. Samuel PURCELL came in 1855, shortly removed to Pottawattamie County and in 1864 bought land on section 14. Columbus M. PATTON of section 11 came to La Grange Twp in 1857, and to section 14, Magnolia Twp, in 1865; he was a carpenter.

Capt. George S. BACON of the "big orchard" fame, was captain of Company C, 29th Iowa Infantry. He came in 1855 and removed to Des Moines in 1883. William HEFFORD of section 14, came to the county in 1856 as a carpenter and in 1870 bought wild land on section 23, remained until 1876 and then purchased his present farm. H. CAYWOOD came in the early 50's; he was a prominent man; later moved to Clay Twp, and away from the county after his wife died. S.E. HILLIS came in 1856 on section 9-80-43, and now(1891) lives at Woodbine. David D. YOUNG located on section 12-80-43 in June, 1857; he platted what was known as "ELDORADO", but no village ever materialized at that point.

Zeno C. SPINKS settled on a part of section 11-80-43, in 1856. From him was named "Spinks Grove." Samuel TARKINGTON settled in 1855 on section 14. Thomas MEADOWS came to section 13 in 1857. Samuel SCHWERTLEY settled on part of section 17-80-43 in June 1857, and now resides on a farm in Taylor Twp. David M. GAMET settled in 1854 on section 20-80-43 and moved to Little Sioux. Thomas F. STEWART settled on section 20-80-43 in 1853. In the spring of 1857 Charles CHILD located on the north-east of 21-80-43. In 1854 Benjamin ABRAMS settled on section 24. Lewis COON settled 1-79-43 on 1855; and later moved to Missouri. Jeremiah MOTZ settled in 1853 on 6-79-43; and now lives near Modale. William KENNEDY settled 8-79-43 in 1854 and now lives in Calhoun Twp. Joseph BUFFINGTON settled section 3-80-43 in 1855. David IMLAY settled on the north-east of section 3 in 1855. Jacob FULTON came to the township in 1867/57 on 2-80-43. Joseph YOUNG came in 1856 on the south half of section 2-80-43. Joseph BENTLEY located in 1854 on 19-80-43.

Phineas CADWELL came from New York in the autumn of 1854 to section 36, which he improved and remained many years; he is now in Logan. John and Jacob KRAUSKOPP settled on section 28 about 1855; they were Germans and both died in the township. "Doc" YOUNGER, (the ague doctor) came about 1851 and remained near Magnolia village until 1857; he was a great character. Robert HALL was early in the 50's; he settled on Allen Creek and died after the war. The PURCELL family settled early in the 50's on section 14; the father died there. Many branches of the family still reside in the county. Josiah CROM settled a mile or so north of Magnolia village on section 29, early in 1855; he died there. John CHATBURN came to the county in 1863, coming directly from England; his uncle, Jonas W. CHATBURN, had been a resident from 1852.

H.H. SOCKLING, a prominent farmer, dates his settlement from 1851; the first winter spent in Raglan Twp, but in the spring of 1852, moved to Magnolia Twp. Jasper MCCRILLIS who is making a specialty of Poland-China swine and Shorthorn cattle, dates his settlement from 1870. John C. MICHAEL came to the county with his parents in 1868; he was born in Germany in 1863. Charles F. PLATH made settlement with his parents in 1857; he was also a native of Germany, born in 1856. Henry SCHEKE came in 1875. D.A. STEWART of section 8 came in 1871. Charles WHEELOCK, a soldier of the late war, settled in 1866. Alvin SEELEY came in the autumn of 1866 and settled on section 21.

Later settlers include Charles MICHAEL-1869; Newton S. LAWRENCE-1869; Henry M. and Silas LAWRENCE came about 1869 with their father, Elias; Fred MICHAEL-1868; Frank BOLCH-1878; Henry LENZ-1866; Fred GEITH-early 60's; Hugh STEWART-1870; William GANZHORN-1870; Fred EHLERT-1871; William FURGUSON-1866; John STEFFON-1867; Charles WHEELOCK bought land on section 31-80-43 in 1862; Henry UNMACH-1871; John DONNER came to the county in 1871 and to Magnolia Twp in 1880; William RADTKE-1875; Charles PLOTH-1870; George LENNERT-1867; Philo M. RICHARDSON-1874.


Judge Jonas CHATBURN and Stephen MAHONEY came to the township in 1853 and built the pioneer mill in 1854. It was originally a sawmill and was propelled by the waters of the Willow River. It was located on section 34. Although an Englishman, Mr. CHATBURN soon exhibited Yankee ingenuity. With his own hands having prepared a set of burrs with which to grind corn, and having all complete to attach to the power of the sawmill, except the belting, raw cow-hide was cut into strips and the mill set to work. One grist was ground out and MAHONEY and CHATBURN went to supper, and while about the table they had ground the first corn ever ground in this part of Iowa. They also told big stories as to how much they proposed to grind the following day. But how frequently are men's hopes suddenly blasted. When they returned to the mill, lo, and behold, the wolves had been there and eaten up the raw-hide belts, leaving the corn mill detached fom the power. It was soon repaired, however, and this same mill ground the first meal, sawed the first plank, and rolled the first wool in Harrison County. This mill was finally abandoned and Mr. CHATBURN removed to Woodbine and engaged in milling.


In 1877 a stock company was formed in this township at Magnolia for the purpose of carrying on the cheese manufacturing business. There were 30 share-holders, who put in $2,100. 16 wagons were run over the county for the daily collection of milk. Capt. C.H. HOLMES was the Secretary of the company at the time. A Formal opening was had, upon which occasion the "Farmers' Club," of Harris Grove, was present and newspaper men from far and near were on hand to gain all they could concerning the newly formed enterprise. This was operated two or three years and sold to private parties who converted it into a creamery, which finally proved a failure and was abandoned. The old courthouse was employed for this plant.

ELDORADO (Defunct)

June 9, 1857, a village was platted on sections 12-80-43, known as Eldorado. It was platted by David D. YOUNG, but nothing ever came of it further than the plat being recorded.


The pioneer school in this portion of Harrison County was taught in the summer of 1852, in a log cabin, on the farm now owned by W.E. CUTLER. The teacher was Susan STREETER, now Mrs. W. ALEXANDER, of Raglan Twp. The first school building was erected in this township, in 1853, the schools having been taught at private places prior to this time. The original school building was built by John THOMPSON, about one mile south of the site of Magnolia. It was a hewed-log house, and in its day was considered a model of neatness and comfort. The builders really put on fine touches, for a good plank floor was provided instead of dirt or puncheon. The lumber was drawn by oxen from Reel's mill, near Crescent City on the Pigeon. This school house was not completed until the spring of 1854.

During the winter months of 1853-54 Thomas B. NEELY taught the Magnolia School, in a log cabin about 15 rods from the Old BATES House. It is related that Mr. NEELY understood the "threshing machine" part of teaching to perfection.

At this time(1891) the township is provided with eleven frame school buildings. The total enrollment of pupils in 1890 was 252, while the estimated value of school property was $4,740l this does not include the Magnolia High School.


This place was designated as the seat of justice for Harrison County when the organization was perfected. The commissioners surveyed and staked off the north-east quarter of section 32-80-43, and it had already been named, by authority of the Legislature, MAGNOLIA. The first platting was executed by George H. WHITE, surveyor, in 1853, and in December of that year, lots were offered at auction, and 64 were sold at prices ranging from $5 to $60. Through some irregularity of records this plat was useless and July 5, 1854, another plat was executed, and the same placed on record February 23, 1855. "Johnson's Addition" was platted in May, 1855, by Hadley T. JOHNSON, John T. BALDWIN, Benjamin R. PERGRAM and C.C. VAN. "Magnolia City" was a platting filed January 10, 1861, by James HARDY and wife, and is to the west of the main plat.

Magnolia is situated upon high, rolling bench land, gradually sloping in all directions, and finally merging into pleasant valleys. Its location was well chosen (by the Legislature and its commissioners), and at an early day bid fair to become the best place in all the county, but through the removal of the county seat, on account of the building of the Northwestern Railway, in 1866-67, her earlier hopes have long since vanished.

Magnolia had the first post-office in the county, as well as the first store.


The first post-office in Harrison County was established at Magnolia in the autumn of 1854, but as there was no mail route yet, mail was carried from Council Bluffs by private subscription. This state lasted two years, when a route was established from Council Bluffs to Sioux City via Magnolia. The following served as postmaster: Richard HUMPHRY, D.E. BRAINARD, John W. COOPER, Jacob MINTUN, George R. BRAINARD, G.F. WATERMAN, Samuel DEWELL, John DEWELL, J.A. HARDY, H.W. GLEASON, John R. MURPHY, William HOLDEN, George R. BRAINARD, J.F. MINTUN, Geroeg R. BRAINARD.


The Magnolia Weekly Republican was established at Magnolia, January 4, 1859, by George R. BRAINARD. It appeared as a very neat, newsy sheet, of the seven column folio form, having for a motto "Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain." The subscription price was $2 per year.

At one time Magnolia had a population of 500. The railroad towns throughout the county, together with the removal of the county seat, in 1876, left the place with but little else than a small, local trade. Hallowed be the name Magnolia to many a pioneer, who knew the place as Harrison County's best town.


Being a God-fearing and Christian-like people, the religious element soon commenced the formation of church societies, the earliest of which was the Methodist Episcopal in 1853-54, under the guidance of Rev. H.A. TAKRINGTON. In consequence of some variance between the Pastor and people, this class soon went down. It was re-organized in the fall of 1855 with Rev. William SCOTT as pastor.

In April, 1855 the Congregational society was organized with Rev. W.W. LUDDON and two member families. Later the same year Rev. H.D. KING from Trunbull County, Ohio, became pastor. In the autumn of 1859 this society dedicated the first church edifice erected in the county, at the village of Magnolia.

The German Evangelical church was formed in the early part of 1858, and they erected a church in Magnolia in 1867 at a cost of $1,200. During the first year, Rev. J.F. SCHREIBER was pastor, followed by Rev. H. KLEINSORGE(1861), Rev. J.F. BEENER(1863), Rev. H. BUNSE(1865), Rev. Anton HUELSTER(1867), ...

The Roman Catholic people held very early services in this part of the county and in 1865 the KENNEDY, FERGUSON, MORROW and O'CONNOR families formed a church. They at once erected the first Catholic Church of the county, at Magnolia, at a cost of $1,300. Father KELLEY was the first Priest, followed by Father DIXIKER, and then Father HAYES.

The Latter Day Saints (re-organized) was formed at Magnolia, March 17, 1870. The first services were held at schoolhouses, until a church was erected in 1874. It was dedicated by President Joseph SMITH, who was followed later by President's Phineas CADWELL, Charles DERRY, Donald MAULE, and A.M. FYRANDO.

The Zion Lutheran Church at Magnolia was formed in 1875 by a minister from Des Moines. Rev. Mr. HARR was first pastor, followed by Wilhelm MOLLON and Fered NUOFFER. A church was erected in the south-west part of town in 1884.


Schools and churches have always been a chief feature of Magnolia; aside from the county seat they have been the most potent factors toward the upbuilding of the place. The early schools were kept in private houses. In 1858 the first school building was provided at this point. It was a poor "shack" of a house, two stories high, designed for a graded school; it was used for school purposes until 1866.

In the spring of 1869-70, a High School building was erected at Magnolia, costing $8,000. In the autumn of 1870 a Mr. CARR taught therein and the following spring S.I. KING, now an attorney ay Logan, commenced teaching and continued until the fall of 1872 when Prof. J.D. HORNBY assumed charge remaining until the spring of 1878. These teachers received $800 to $1,000 per year, of ten months.

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