Jasper Co. IAGenWeb

Jasper County, Iowa

Illustrated Historical Atlas of The State of Iowa

Township Maps and Index of Farmers

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Jasper is one of the larger counties, containing an area of 720 square miles, or 460, 800 acres; length, thirty miles east and west; breadth, twenty-four miles. It is near the center of the state, lying within twenty miles of the capital, and is crossed by several of the leading railroad thoroughfares. The county is traversed by numerous water courses in a southeasterly direction, affording excellent drainage. South Skunk and its principle tributary, North Skunk, afford good water power. The surface of the country is general high and rolling. The streams usually have level valleys of considerable extent, but neither swampy nor liable to overflow, because the streams have cut far into the very deep deposits of drift for which this region is noted. The soil is therefore very deep and fertile, and resists admirably the unfavorable extremes of wet weather and dry. All the productions common in this latitude succeed well here, and few, if any localities in the West are better adapted to diversified farming purposes. Corn and tame grasses flourish, the various small grains produce good crops; apples, grapes, pears, cherries, plums and all the small fruits do well. A failure in crops is rare. According to the census of 1875, there were 278,881 acres of land under cultivation, or nearly three fifth the area of the county, and there were in 1874, 4,525,829 bushels of corn, 1,107,170 bushels of wheat, and 532,239 bushels of oats harvested in the county. There were by the same census report, 13,618 horses, 1,040 mules, 39,604 head of cattle, 75,513 hogs, and 16,300 sheep in the county; 38,042 bearing fruit trees were reported, and 158,923 rods of hedge-almost 500 miles. The area of native timber land is reported at 29,223 acres. The timber is tolerably well distributed in different portions of the county, chiefly along the streams.

The leading exports are corn, cattle and hogs, which are a source of large revenue annually, and


The area of the productive coal field of Iowa embraces half or more of Jasper County. A peculiar sandstone, which forms a part of the rocks of the coal measures, is found as far eastward as Kellogg and along the banks of Rock Creek, and is extensively used for foundations to buildings, as it is easily dressed and quite durable. A good quality of carboniferous limestone, of the same system, is found in the beds of the streams in different parts of the county, and is considerably used for building purposes. The most easterly quantity of paying coal is found in Richland Township. The following is list of the townships in which mines are now worked, and the reported product of each in the year 1874; Palo Alto, 22,280 tons; Fairview, 6,880; Richland, 3,600; Mound Prairie, 372. A glance at the map will show their relative positions. A railway is now in operation between Newton and the Palo Alto mines, three and a half miles south. The mines of Jasper County, being those of the lower coal measures, are among the most productive in the state, and a very important element of its wealth and prosperity.


There are now 59 1/2 miles of railway in Jasper County, to wit; Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, 34.13 miles; Des Moines Valley Railroad, 17.4 miles; Central Railway of Iowa, 3.98 miles; Chicago, Newton & Southwestern, 3.75 miles. In 1866 work commenced on the Mississippi & Missouri River Road (construction company of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad), west of Grinnell, and the track reached Kellogg Station in September, and in 1867 the cars came rushing into Newton, after fourteen years of waiting.


By the last report of the Superintendent of Common Schools for Jasper County (1873) there were 173 common schools in the county, of which seven were graded. The compensation of teachers averaged $45.57 per month for males and $29.36 for females, and reaches in the aggregate an average of $40,000 a year. The number of school houses was 164-161 frame and 3 brick-valued at $165,000. In relation to public schools, it will thus be seen, Jasper county is entitled to the front rank, even in a state so noted as Iowa for liberality in fostering and encouraging education.


At the time of the first settlement the county was full of Indians. Poweshiek, Chief of the Musquakas, had his principle village on Indian Creek, and a smaller village one mile west of the present site of Newton. A part of the county was open for settlement by the whites on the 1st of May, 1843. It was a part of the new purchase made in 1842, and occupancy of the western part was reserved to the Indians until October 11, 1845, after which they were removed to a reservation in Kansas. The white man could scarcely wait for the departure of the red. Following up the "divide" to the point where Monroe now stands Wm. HIGHLAND selected this grove as his future home in May, 1843, and built a log cabin for himself and his family. It is said that the stars and stripes of the steamer Ione , pushing its way up the Des Moines river with the first detachment of soldiers for the fort of that name, was in view from this spot as Highland halted his wagon. About the same time Adam TOOLE, John FROST, and John VANCE made claims in the vicinity, and the place became known as Toole's Point. These settlers were soon joined by Newton WRIGHT, Washington FLEENER, D. TICE, Joel WORTH, and others who located in their vicinity.

The early settlers were partial to the groves of timber scattered over the county, and no wonder; the native forest trees furnished their only means of obtaining shelter, fuel, and fencing materials. They little dreamed that the discovery of coal and the advent of railroads would soon be the means of converting the broad prairie acres, that to them seemed a useless waste, into the best farms of the world. These groves are, many of them, known by the names of the first settlers. In 1845 settlements were begun on Clear Creek, by Mr. KINTZ; at HIXON's Grove, by Joab BENNETT; at Adamson's Grove, by James PEARSON, John FRANKLIN and Moses LACY; at Vowell's Grove, by Thos. J. ADAMSON; and on the site of Newton, by Ballinger ADELOYETTE and Wm. SPRINGER; at Hammer's Grove, by Seth HAMMER, the HINSHAWs and others. In 1846 at Wild Cat Grove, by Jesse RICKMAN and David EDMUNDSON; near the site of Vandalia, by John Q. DEAKIN; at Slaughter's Grove, by Joseph SLAUGHTER; on the North Skunk, a little below Kellogg, by Martin and John ADKINS and Job M. PECK; and at Adamson's Grove by Evan ADAMSON. In the latter year Anderson VOWELL purchased Thos. J. Adamson's claim at Vowell's Grove. John R. SPARKS, Jonathan SWANN and Mathew T. MATHEWS became residents of the county in 1845; Manly Gifford, John M. Kinsman and Tandy MAYFIELD either that or the following year. Sparks located first at Newton, but removed to Lynn Grove or Lynnville, in 1847, where he built a large mill.


The territory of Jasper was originally attached to Mahaska County. On the 11th of March, 1845, the Mahaska Board of Commissioners, made it a township by the name of Washington, and designated Adam Toole's house as the place of holding elections. A county organization was perfected in April, 1845, under as enabling act of the territorial legislature, by the election of county officers and the location of the seat of justice. The officers elected were John R. SPARKS, Manly GIFFORD and Joab BENNETT, Commissioners; John H. FRANKLIN, Clerk; J.W. SWANN, Treasurer; David EDMUNDSON, Sheriff; Seth HAMMER, Recorder; and Washington FLEENOR, Probate Judge. Thos. HENDERSON and Richard FISHER, of Wappello County, were the commissioners who, by appointment of the Legislature, located the county seat, and they selected the N.W. 34, 80, 19 as the location. This quarter section was then Government land. It was forthwith secured in behalf of the county by the County Commissioners, and platted July 6, 1846, by the name of Newton City. It is said that the county was named Jasper, and the seat of justice Newton, in honor of those two gallant sergeants under General MARION.


A rude and decidedly primitive structure, of architecture which has not yet received an appropriate name among the distinguished orders, constructed of hickory poles, and provided with a chimney of mud and sticks, by AYDELOTTE and SPRINGER, during March, 1846, in Adam's Grove, was the historic edifice first used as a county building, and in it the first court was held by Judge Joseph WILLIAMS, of Muscatine. Afterwards a small frame building was erected for this purpose on the northwest corner of the public square in Newton, and was used also for a while for a school house and a place of public worship. The present courthouse, standing in the center of the public square, in the heart of town, surrounded by tall forest trees, was completed in 1858 at a cost of about $27,000. It is fifty feet wide by sixty two feet long, with handsome Ionic structure, surmounted by a central dome, substantially built, consisting of a basement story of seven in the clear, and two principle stories for offices and court room, 14 and 19 feet high respectively. The basement walls are sandstone, the upper walls brick, faced with limestone.


G.R. Leduard, Auditor; E.H. BARTOON, Treasurer; W.W. McCULLEY, Clerk; W.B. HOUGH, Recorder; J.R. ZOLLINGER, Sheriff; C.D. HIPSLEY, Superintendent

Supervisors: W.G. ROMANS, John BURTON, and Jesse SLAVENS.

The county was originally organized into three civil townships in 1846, Elk Creek, Fairview, and Lynnville. There are now nineteen.


The first post office in the county was at Jesse RICKMAN's house, on the Iowa City and Fort Des Moines route; it was established in 1846. The first school was taught in the Elk Creek settlement, by William E. SMITH, in 1848. The first preaching was by Reverend Mr. HITCHCOCK, a Congregational minister of Eddyville, in 1846. The first wedding was that of Corporal HILL, United States Army, and a daughter of Adam TOOLE, in 1845. The first death was that of Mary, daughter of Joseph SLAUGHTER, in July 1846. The first physician in the county was Dr. SPRING, who came in 1847. The first attorney was Johnson EDGAR, 1849. The first store of which we have any record was opened by Daniel HISKEY, at Toole's Point, in 1851.

In the Spring of 1847 a report that the Indians were gathering hostile forces, caused great excitement in the county, and many of the settlers fled for a time. A fort was built in the Clear Creek Settlement. The expected invasion did not occur, however, and in a short time quiet was restored.

The Legislature of 1850 appointed a Commission from the Society of Friends to select a site for the new state capital. They selected a tract of land four miles northwest of Toole's Point - now Monroe - but whether or not their good intentions were appropriated as paving stones for a certain historic locality, they certainly never resulted in drawing the state capital to Jasper County.

The increase of population in Jasper County has been considerably more steady and rapid than the average of Iowa counties. When organized in 1846, it numbered scarcely 200; in 1850, 1,280; in 1860, 9,882; in 1870, 22,594, and in 1875, 24,128. Of the number last given, only 1,620 are foreign born, scarcely 7 percent; 9,760, a little more than 40 percent, were born in Iowa. From a population of about 10,000 at the beginning of the war, the county seat sent 1,500 men to the Union Army.


An extensive foundry and machine shop at Newton, is the only establishment of the kind in the county. There are five good brick yards, three at Newton, one at Monroe, and one in Palo Alto Township. There are good flour mills run by water power at Kellogg and Lynnville, and in Clear Creek, Malaka and Sherman Townships. Monroe has three, one of which cost $31,000 in construction. The total value of manufacturers in the county, for the year 1875 is estimated at $507,000.


The Jasper County Agricultural Society was organized, in 1855, at Newton. Reverend Thomas P. NEWELL was its first president, A. CARRIER now holds that office. Its present Secretary, A. FAILOR, has been such from the beginning, twenty years. Its first fair was held on Judge EDMUNDSON's premises in October, 1855, and a fair has been held annually ever since. In 1860 the society purchased ten acres of land in a good locality, a half mile southwest of the business portion of Newton, at a cost of $1,000. These grounds have been well fenced, and furnished with a hall, stalls, sheds, wells, a good half mile of track, etc., at a cost of about $2,000. The exhibitions have been very successful, and the society is in a prosperous condition.

Besides this, there is another society which has fair grounds at Prairie City.


No. 1 of Iowa Granges was organized at Newton, May 24, 1868, by the name of Newton Grange, with A. FAILER, Master; S.H. WRIGHT, Overseer, and Charles FISH, Secretary. It is still in good condition, numbering thirty-three members. The county had at one time as many as forty three working Granges, which have an active and efficient county organization. They maintain an agricultural implement and grocery store on the cooperative plan, and have a well organized fire insurance company in prosperous and successful operation.


Newton is an important town of 2,350 inhabitants, on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, thirty-five miles from Des Moines, in the midst of a rich agricultural region, and convenient to productive coal mines. It occupies a handsome site upon high, gently undulating ground, and the inhabitants have done their utmost to improve the natural beauty of the location by profusely ornamenting their spacious grounds and broad handsome streets with shade trees and shrubbery. Surrounding the public square, with the courthouse in the center, are large and substantial business blocks, many of them three stories, built primarily of brick, with stone facings. Well graded streets lead in every direction to elegant residences and comfortable homes in the midst of rural beauty. The effect is in pleasing contrast with that of too many bleak and barren Western towns. It is a town of flourishing schools and churches, and there is not a single saloon for the sale of wine, beer, or other liquors within its limits. Building and other improvements are going on rapidly. Its trade is extensive and its business firms are portionally strong and employ large capital. It contains, at the present time, four grain elevators, four lumber yards, two large agricultural implement establishments, two flouring mills, and four carriage and wagon factories. Mercantile trade is represented by six general stores, five dry goods, nine grocery, three clothing, three drug, three boot and shoe, three hardware, and three millinery houses, two book stores, one national and two private banks, besides many establishments and shops of less importance. There are four hotels. The professions are represented by nine law firms and four physicians. Among the fine residences that adorn the town may be mentioned those of S.G. SMITH, John MYER, D.L. CLARK, A.P. HANSON and Thomas ARTHUR. These were erected at a cost ranging from $5,000 to $12,000 each.


Newtown was incorporated in 1857. The first council consisted of Hugh NEWELL, Mayor; S.H. GALUSHA, Recorder; Elzy HIATT, C. SEYMOUR, T.H. MILLER, Thomas ALLUM, D.L. CLARK, Trustees. D.D. PIPER is Mayor at the present time; John C. WILSON, Recorder; George T. ANDERSON, D.L. STOVER, James HERRON, C. HOWARD and R.A. RHOADS, Trustees.


The town was organized as an Independent District in 1867, S.N. LINDLEY, Esq., President; Jesse RICKMAN, Secretary. At the present time A.P. HANSON is President and W.G. WORK, Secretary. The magnificent building used for public school purposes, standing two or three blocks north of the public square, is the pride of the town. It was erected in the year 1871, in the most approved modern style of architecture, and substantially finished in every particular. The walls are of Milwaukee brick, resting upon excellent foundations of limestone. The interior contains eleven apartments for school rooms, an office for the superintendent, besides there are four good rooms in the basement. The school rooms are seated almost entirely with single desks and heated by means of four large brick furnaces in the basement. The entire cost of the building, furnishings, and heating apparatus was $39, 364. 60. The schools are organized in three principle departments, primary, grammar and high school, employing a superintendent and eleven teachers, at a total salary of $5,500 per annum. Besides the common school branches the course of instruction includes algebra, geometry, plane trigonometry, physical geography, general history, American literature, rhetoric, moral philosophy, Latin to Virgil, botany, natural philosophy, astronomy, chemistry and geology. William HOY is superintendent. The number of pupils enrolled at the Last term (Summer of 1875) was 616.


There are twelve religious societies in Newton, to wit: Congregational, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, O.S., Baptists, Universalist, Evangelical, Lutheran, Christian, Catholic, German Methodist, German Lutheran, and Mormon. With the exception of the German Lutheran and Mormon societies, all have good houses of worship, some of them with fine edifices.

Of secret societies, the Masons, Odd Fellows and Good Templars maintain organizations. The Masonic fraternity have a Blue Lodge Chapter and Commandery, and own a hall worth $2,000. They are building a new and more commodious hall at a cost of $4,000, and intent to apply the proceeds of the sale of their old hall to furnish the new one.


Monroe is a thriving, wide-awake young city in the south part of the county, situated on high ground, about midway between the Des Moines and Skunk Rivers, and upon the line of the Keokuk and Des Moines Railroad, being the most important station between Des Moines and Pella. The country surrounding it is one of the richest tracts in the state - the celebrated prairie divide between the two rivers just named - and of course is well settled. Monroe therefore enjoys an extensive mercantile trade and shipping business, and is steadily rising in importance. It is the second town in the county in population and commercial importance.

Monroe was platted October 25, 1856 by David HISKEY, but the area of the town plat has since been considerably extended by additions and now covers about eight hundred acres. It was incorporated as a city of the second class in 1867. The first council was elected December, 1868, and consisted of W.L. LE FEVER, Mayor; M.K. CAMPBELL, Recorder; L.M. SHAW, Seth DIXON, J.B. BENNINGTON, John MORRISON and A.S. ELWOOD, Trustees. The present council consists of L.M. SHAW, Mayor; John A. EHRHARDT, Recorder; Daniel HISKEY, M.L. CARD; A.J. MITCHELL, Salluda and Robert STEWERT, Trustees.

The public schools of Monroe are furnished with a commodious edifice, and are well classified and graded, employing a principle and assistant teachers at good salaries. Latin and other studies, besides the common school branches are taught.

The present business of the town comprises three grain elevators and two warehouses, three dry goods stores, five grocery stores, three hardware stores, three clothing stores, and the usual compliment of shops, hotels, a bank, three establishments for the sale of agriculture implements, one lumber yard, one first-class insurance agency. The professions are represented by seven lawyers and seven physicians. Nor is the town behind in organizations designed to secure its social, moral and religious welfare.


This is a flourishing town on the Keokuk and Des Moines Railroad, eight or nine miles above Monroe. What has been said about the surroundings of the latter will apply equally to Prairie City. It was platted June 7, 1856, by the name of Elliott, by James ELLIOT, Esq., but was subsequently incorporated by the name it now bears. This was in 1868, and in October of that year were elected as first town council: Sidney WILLIAMS, Mayor; C. HEAD, Recorder; J.W. HAMMOND, C. DUSTIN, E. ADKINS, A.H. KIRTLAND, and A.B DUNCAN, Trustees. The present town council consists of Carey SMITH, Mayor; J.F. WILLIAMS, Recorder; H.C. DeWOLF, George BROCKHAGEN, R. McKNIGHT, E.C. WARNER, and S.F. MILLER, Trustees.

The independent district of Prairie City erected, in 1868, a school house which does honor to the town, at a cost of $7,000. The schools are graded in four departments, with a teacher each and a principal, who has general supervision. The citizens believe in liberal education, and several branches have been added to the course of study in addition to those usually required in common schools.

The Methodist, Congregational, Christian, Catholic, and United Brethren church denominations have active organizations here. The three former have good church buildings. Other church edifices are in contemplation. The business of the town comprises five general stores, one dry goods, four groceries, one clothing, two hardware, and three drug stores, three hotels, four grain dealers, two agricultural implement stores, and various other branches of trade, shops, etc. The professions are represented by five lawyers and a number of physicians.


This town, formerly known as Jasper City, is a station on the C.R.I. and P.R.R. about midway between Newton and Grinnell. It is pleasantly situated on the gentle slope rising from the left bank of the North Fork of Skunk River, platted by Enos BLAIR and A.W. ADAIR, in September, 1865. It has a large shipping business and a fair retail mercantile trade, and an extensive pump factory. A good graded school, several churches, Masonic and Odd Fellows societies, are among its institutions. It was incorporated in 1874, by the election of a town council, of which J.H.F. BALDERSON was (and is) Mayor.

Colfax.- This is the name of a prosperous little town, the next station on the C.R.I. and P. Railroad west of Newton. It is a shipping point of considerable importance and has a fair amount of mercantile trade.

Lynnville.-Is situated in the southeast part of the county, and is one of its oldest towns. It has a good milling business and a reasonable mercantile trade, and maintains a good graded school.

The other villages and post offices are as follows: Amber, Baxter, Clyde, Galesburgh, Greencastle, Horn and Vandalia.


Jasper County maintains eight newspapers, of which four are at Newton, two at Prairie City, one at Monroe, and one at Kellogg. The Newton "Free Press" is the oldest newspaper in the county. It was established in 1859 by the CAMPBELL Brothers. W.S. BENHAM is the present editor and proprietor. It is a large six-column quarto sheet, Republican in politics, published every Wednesday at $1.50 a year. It has a power press and a valuable office. The Jasper County "Head-Light", is a large nine-column folio, published by Frank T. CAMPBELL and T.M. RODGERS. It was established May 22, 1874, and printed on the type and material of the former Jasper County Republican of which Mr. RODGERS was one of the proprietors. It is Republican in politics, has a good job office and an extensive circulation. The Jasper County "Independent" was established as the "Democratic Sentinel" by Henry A. HANSEN, in 1868. It was bought by C.A. CLARK, the present editor and proprietor, in 1872, and by him named the "Liberal", and afterward the name above given. It is a wide-awake, eight-column-to the-page folio sheet published weekly. Besides the above-named there is another paper at Newton published in the German language. The "Kellogg Reporter" is a spicy little paper, independent in politics, published weekly by N.C. McBETH, by whom it was founded July 21, 1872.