Go to: History Index * Home Page

Harrison County Iowa Genealogy

Union Township
excerpts from the 1891 Harrison County History

Congressional Township 78, range 42, constitutes Union Township. It being six miles square, it has an area of 36 square miles, or equal to 23,040 acres. It was organized in 1858 by the County Judge, then officiating. In 1885 its population was 624. According to the 1890 U.S. census it had a population of 947.

Pigeon Creek and Potato Creek, with their small Branches, are the streams of this township. Union Grove and part of Harris Grove, the former in the eastern and the latter in the western part of the township, is all the native timber found. It being a purely prairie country, with no railroads or villages, the people are solely engaged in farming, stock growing and horticulture.


Prior to 1849 no white man had invaded the solitary wilds of what is now known as Union Township. During that year came Thomas DOBSON and Riley HOUGH. The latter settled where Unionburgh now stands, at the point of the grove. He remained two or three years and moved to Pottawattamie County, where he still resides(1891). November 12, 1850, Samuel WOOD, (Uncle Sammy) made settlement on section 23, where he still remains, the possessor of handsome property. He came in as did most of the "Latter Day Saints," without means. He had only $5 but today owns 297 acres of excellent land. Thomas SELLERS, now deceased, came about the same time.

In 1853 William TUCKER came in from Illinois and located on sections 5 and 6, where he remained until 1891, sold and now(1891) lives at Missouri Valley. Alfred BRIMM settled on section 13, in 1853 or 1854. He soon removed farther west. H.S. SMITH came in 1853 and died in the winter of 1858-9.

Richard DICKINSON, of section 6, came in October, 1863. He "swapped farms sight unseen." He owned one in Michigan which he exchanged for this. One-half of his present farm was formerly timber land. Alfred SELLERS of section 21, came in the spring of 1853 and "squatted" at Union Grove. Harvey V ARMSTRONG came in June, 1854, and entered land at Six-Mile Grove, in Jefferson Township. He returned to Illinois and in 1856 came back to his land. In 1858, Albert B PUGH of section 6, came in April, settled in La Grange Township one year and then purchased his present farm.

In April, 1863, came Frank M IRVIN. He was a carpenter by trade. He subsequently served in the Third Iowa Battery, during the Rebellion. Benjamin DRAPER of section 1, came in the fall of 1864. James CHAPMAN of section 1, came in the spring of 1864, in company with his parents. At first they leased land of Lindley EVANS and worked in a sawmill. Daniel KEMMISH accompanied his parents to the township in 1865, and located on section 27. He finally settled on the same section.

In 1865, Samuel DIGGLE came and is now(1891) a resident of section 24. The same year William DICKINSON located on section 6. Another settler of 1865 was Nephi CHAPMAN on section 16. He is a son of John CHAPMAN. James H GRAHAM, of section 11, came in the fall of 1865, with his father, Eldridge GRAHAM. The father settled on section 2, but now lives in Persia. John H CHAPMAN is still farming on section 11.

Joseph C HASZARD, of section 13, came in September, 1867, and the next spring bought his present farm, paying $5 per acre. In 1868, among the other settlers in this township was John G REDINBAUGH of section 20, and Ashcraft PARKER. PARKER settled at Harris Grove, rented a year or so, and bought in Union Township. He still resides in Union; his son, Marcellus, went for himself when of age and located on section 36.

Allen STOKER, of section 27, came in February, 1869, with a brother-in-law. He had purchased 90 acres in this locality in 1864. William RAINER of section 17, came in June, 1870. David WILLIAMS came to the township in March, 1871. After he became of age he rented land 6 years and finally bought land on section 34, and is now(1891) among the most thrifty stock farmers of the county.

Albert GUNNETTE came with his mother in the summer of 1874, He was a mere boy at the time; he now owns land on section 26. Joseph H MURPHY of section 21, came in the spring of 1875; he first rented land in St John's Township. Lee DAKAN of section 17, came in 1876; he was a soldier from Ohio.

The following will give the date of settlement of the prominent residents of Union Township. Mary E (CHATBURN) WOOD came to the county with her parents, Jonas and Mary CHATBURN, in 1850. Safety M HENDERSON came to the county in company with his parents in 1853, settling in Jefferson Twp. In 1865, Benjamin DRAPER came to the county and is now a prosperous farmer on section 1. During 1865 John CHAPMAN, Sr., came and settled on the Pigeon farm, renting of L.M. EVANS, afterward moved to La Grange Twp, back to Union Twp and now is a resident of Persia. Benjamin CHAPMAN also dates his settlement from the spring of 1865, coming with his parents; he is now a resident of section 2, a prosperous farmer. James W DIGGLE of section 25, came in 1865 and has his share of pioneer hardships.

Another to become a resident was William DICKINSON, who was born in Ohio, but went to Michigan when eight years of age and helped clear up a farm for his father. He has never had much love for rattlesnakes since his residence there.

James E KEMMISH accompanied his parents to Harrison County in 1865, coming from Pottawattamie County here. By referring to their sketch (1891 History) it will give some idea of their experience in Utah, where they went in 1854.

William CHILES came to the county in 1867; he died January 31, 1888. His widow, Mrs. Minnie (PECKENPAUGH) CHILES is still(1891) a resident of sections 11 and 12. Clark SWAN, of section 31, became a settler in 1869, locating in La Grange Twp, where he lived until 1881, when he moved to his present home. Peter Charles KEMMISH came in the following year and located at Reeder's Mills.

Lehigh DAKAN of section 17, has been in the county since 1876. He was a member of the 38th Ohio Infantry and was in the Army of the Cumberland. Marion ELLIS came to the county in 1875. He is now a resident of section 34, Union Twp. In February, 1879, Francis M HOWARD became a resident of the county; his home is on section 34. James H NORMAN became a resident March 18, 1871, and Samuel S BEEM in 1885, and Clark COOPER in 1887.

Ira CARMON of section 34, has been a resident since March, 1883. In 1882 John LAFFERTY, Sr., came to the county with family. George MILLER came in 1883 and located on his present farm on section 21. April 12, 1881, George F NEWLAND came to the county and located on section 35. Elmer E SHRIVER of section 36, came March 4, 1884; he was a young man and commenced working land for his father.


This township dates its organization from September 6, 1858, by Samuel WOOD, under order of County Judge D.E. BRAINARD. The first election was held at Samuel WOOD's house, the second Tuesday of October, 1858, when Mr. WOOD was duly elected Clerk and Assessor of the newly constituted civil township.


The first settler was Thomas DOBSON, who came with his family about 1849, and settled on section 24. Later he removed to Crawford County, Iowa, where he died. The first marriage was that of Alonzo HUNT to Miss Margaret DOBSON, early in the 50's. The first school was taught in 1857, at Samuel WOOD's cabin, by Mrs. Howard S. SMITH. Mrs. Thomas SELLERS was the first adult to die within the township. She was buried on section 14, in a neighborhood cemetery.


The first postal facilities had in this part of the county was in 1864, when Unionburgh post-office was established. H.S. SMITH was made first postmaster, the office being kept on section 23-78-42. He was succeeded by William SMITH; he by William BROWN, and he by Samuel WOOD. Mr. BROWN, who operated a store at that point, was in debt to Mr. WOOD, who acted as his assistant postmaster, and Mr. WOOD had to take the stock of goods to secure himself, and he finally was released from post-office duties in the following summer: he took the office from BROWN, but through some neglect on the latter's part, WOOD was not recognized as assistant. At the time the Hon. D.M. HARRIS of Missouri Valley, who had control of this class of post-offices, wrote Mr. WOOD as follows: "I am a Democrat and you are a Republican. I have been acquainted with you for thirty years, and if there is anything in it an old settler should have it." To this Mr. WOOD made answer: "Regarding politics, my first wife's name was Mary, but for short we called her 'Polly,' consequently my polly-ticks are nine - seven girls and two boys." He never heard from HARRIS afterward, and in a short time was appointed, but got rid of the responsibility of his office in 1888.

The present(1891) postmaster is H.B. PECKENPAUGH. Mail is received 3 times per week, from a stage route running from Persia. At this point, Unionburgh, a store was started in 1884, by William BROWN, who built on Mr. WOOD's land. Brown continued about two years. Herman MENDAL had furnished the money on which to operate the store, and he finally sold to Samueal WOOD, BROWN failing in his business undertakings. WOOD ran the store and post-office about two years, and closed out his stock. He erected a dance hall a year after the store was built, and the same is now used for public gatherings.

Valley View post-office was located in 1870, on section 2, with Manning ALLEE as postmaster. He handled a few goods for the "Grange" (a farmer's society which sought to do away with all middlemen or tradesmen.) He was succeeded, both in business and in the post-office, by William CHAPMAN, whose wife attended to the duties of the post-office. Next came Charles KEMMISH; then Claud DAY, who gave way to Joseph SHIELDS. Next came Mr. GRIFFIN, from whose hands the office passed to James JEFFRIES. A man named GROSSGENE held it awhile, and on account of Persia, the railroad town, springing up, the office was abolished.

Union Grove, in the eastern-central part of the township, was named in the following manner: It was an old-time custom, both East and West, when a barn was to be "raised" for the boss carpenter to go to the ridge pole, and while on the highest point to give a name to the barn, after which he would throw a jug or bottle of whiskey down to the assembled workmen. When pioneer Thomas DOBSON's log house was erected, in the fall of 1850, on the suggestion of DOBSON, who said he had never lived in a community where such unity prevailed as here, Samuel WOOD mounted to the top of the house and being minus the whiskey, he threw a gourd full of nails with all the stength he possessed, at the same instant crying aloud Unoin Grove.


The pioneer school of Union Township has usually been credited to La Grange Township, however, in the winter of 1851-52, James B MCCURLEY taught a term of school in an old Morman cabin, located on section 6 of Union Township. The next was the one held at Samuel WOOD's residence, on section 23. It was a subscription school, taught by Mrs. Howard S SMITH, in 1857. As times changed and more settlers came in, good school buildings were finally provided. At present(1891), there are nine schoolhouses, the Iowa regulation number, one for each two miles. The present enrollment of pupils is about 235, while the estimated value of schoolhouse property is $5,245.

The early settlers who worshipped had to go to Harris Grove or Reeder's Mill, where the Methodist people had early services, the first in Harrison County. In 1891 a neat frame edifice was erected on section 5, costing $1,480. It is 26x44 feet. Preaching is had every other Sabbath, by the Logan pastor. This society is known as the "Bethel Methodist Church." Its present membership is 50. The Harris Grove Class built a good frame building in 1890, costing $1,200. Ed E ERWIN is the Leader of this class.

Return to Township Histories

To Harrison County Home Page