Jasper Co. IAGenWeb

History of Jasper County, Iowa

Chicago, Western History Company, 1878.

Prairie City

This is one of the briskest business towns in the county, and it may well stand as a type for Iowa towns, which are undoubtedly the best towns between the two oceans.

The first settler in this vicinity was William Means, who came to the neighborhood in the Fall of 1851. The next settler was James H. Elliott, who came in 1852, followed by Anderson Boyd in 1853.

The first preaching in the neighborhood was by a Methodist minister, in the Fall of 1853.

The first deaths were two children of Anderson Boyd, of scarlet fever, in 1854.

Isaac Hershman was the first teacher in the township, the school being taught in a small building owned by James H. Elliott. This was in 1855. The building was of logs, and was erected on ground which afterward became Lot 6, Block 10, Prairie City, and stood till 1877, when it was torn down.

The town was laid out by the name of Elliott, in 1856, but was afterward changed to Prairie City.

The first building was put up by the owner of the plat, and was used as a blacksmith shop. William Robertson built the first dwelling, and the first store was a small building removed from Monroe on a wagon by Benjamin Adams, but this was done before the town was surveyed. The next store was kept by George W. Bailey. A school house was built in the Summer of 1856.

Independence Day, 1860, was celebrated at Prairie City in splendid style. At 10 o'clock, a procession was formed in the public square, officered by Isaiah Coombs, George Fugard, James F. Parker, Fletcher Minshall, J.H. Elliott and R.H. McConnell, and headed by the Newton Brass Band. A.F. McConnell read the Declaration of Independence, and addresses were made by H.S. Winslow, Judge Phillips, of Des Moines, Thomas O. Osborn of Chicago, and Rev. Caleb Bundy. Six hundred persons ate dinner at a table over four hundred feet long.

The town grew very rapidly from 1865 forward for several years. The track of the Des Moines Valley Railroad reached the place in 1866, which assured the future of the town and attracted many energetic men who were looking for a suitable location for business.

A terrible casualty occurred here July 4, 1869. Several young men had been engaged in anvil firing, when some one mentioned that there was another, anvil in town that had a larger orifice than the bottom one they were using. It was procured, but burst at the first discharge, instantly killing Mr. Anderson of Prairie City, an old gentlemen of 60 years, as well as Mr. Rockbold, of Vandalia, besides wounding several others. The firing was done by the son-in-law of Anderson. The substitute anvil proved to have been of cast iron, hence the explosion.

Prairie City has about 800 or 900 population, and is well supplied with business houses. There are two banks, a large steam flouring-mill, two elevators and the usual stores, groceries, furniture establishments, etc. It trades with a large farming region, and its people believe in and practice that liberality which is essential to hold business. The town is attractively situated on the beautiful and most level table-land separating the Des Moines and Skunk Rivers.


The first records were very imperfectly kept, and but little can be gathered therefrom. The first Council met October 14, 1868. Sidney Williams was Mayor; C. Head, Recorder; J.W. Hammond, ______ Dustin, E. Adkins, A.H. Kirtland, H.J. Hills, Trustees. At this meeting, a license of $15 per quarter was imposed upon saloon-keepers.

March 10, 1869, the business of constructing sidewalks was entered upon, and in July of the same year a calaboose was ordered.

W.G. Clements became Mayor, and M.B. McKeever, Recorder, in 1870; C. Smith, Mayor, and J.F. Wilkinson, Recorder, in 1875; D.G. Winchell, Mayor, and H.L. McGinitie, Recorder, in 1876; E.R. Ward, Mayor, and Geo. M. Wood, Recorder, in 1877; both of whom were re-elected last March.

The present Trustees are: J.L. Russell, A. Springer, H.H. Longmore, J.R. Gill, E.C. Roach, Attorney, E.C. Warner, Marshall and Street Commissioner.


The election which resulted in the organization of Prairie City Independent District was held March 14, 1867. On the 25th, the Board elect organized as follows: Caleb Bundy, President; S.D. Butters, Vice President; C. Conard, Secretary; L.P. Wilson, Treasurer; D.M. Bartlett, James H. Elliott, Levi Jenks, Directors.

Soon afterward, the Board was authorized to issued $5,000 in bonds, for the purpose of building a new school house. This was completed in 1868, at a cost of about $6,000. Mr. Corlies was the first Principal.

D.G. Winchell is now President of the Board; John A. McMurrary, J.W. Adams, M.I. Wooddell, L.P. Wilson, Aaron Springer, Directors; W.G. Clements, Secretary; S.D. Butters, Treasurer.

H.L. McGinitie is Principal of the school; Sarah Perkins, B room; Mattie Snodgrass, B Primary; Lucy Tainter, A Primary.

The number of pupils in the district is: Males, 190; females, 197.


This was organized in 1873. As made up at the present the roll is as follows: G. S. Smiley, E Flat; J.V. Adkins, B Flat; G.L. Bates, B. Flat; D. Holland, Alto; H. Waldrip, Alto, H.C. DeWolf, Tenor; William Conard, Baritone; M.I. Wooddell, Bass; George Adams, Bass Drum. The Band owns a wagon and has plenty of business.


Christians, or Disciples. - It is difficult to fix a date of the first organization of the society at Prairie City, but it probably sprang up in 1857 or 1858, through the efforts of Elder J.P. Roach.

Elder White, the present Pastor, states that when he began labor here, the society had erected the frame and enclosed the house of worship. This was in 1868. He found here, as members: J.H. Elliott and wife, Reason Moore, Lemuel Doud and wife and probably J.W. Deweese. Mr. White undertook a revival effort, by which some twenty persons were added to the society.

The building was completed in 1869, and the dedication sermon was preached by Prof. G.T. Carpenter, of Oskaloosa. The building, which is 34x50 feet in size, cost about $3,500. It has a bell.

There are now seventy-five members. C.R. Porter and Lemuel Laughlin and the Elders; Newton Moore and Mr. Ramsey, Deacons; E.C. Roach, Newton Moore, L. Laughlin, Trustees.

The Pastors have been Elders Roach and White.

C.R. Porter is Superintendent of the Sabbath school; J.W. Deweese, Assistant; Mrs. Leoda Porter, Organist. The teachers are: Dr. Adams, J. B. Roach, Mrs. Mattie Osborn, Mrs. Sarah McKeever and D.C. Roach. The usual attendance is about forty.

Methodist Episcopal. - The time of organizing this society here is also obscure, but must have been about 1858. The house of worship was built in 1867. It is 30x40 feet in size, and cost $1,200. It was dedicated by Rev. J.G. Dimmitt.

The Stewards of the Church are: A.B. Wing, J.W. Hammond, H.C. DeWolf, S.D. Butters, J.R. Gill, Thomas Clark, William Kindon, David Geer, H.J. Griffis. There are about one hundred members.

The Pastors from 1869 forward have been Rev. Messrs. Eckles, Richards, Slusser, Sexton, Thompson, Snodgrass and Shafer.

J.W. Hammond is Sunday School Superintendent; Alfred Potter, Assistant. The teachers are Alfred Potter, Rev. Mr. Shafer, Mrs. William Kindon, Miss M. Feathers, Mrs. C.P. Norton, Miss Effie Geer, Mr. and Mrs. David Geer, Mrs. Tilly Duncan. About fifty pupils attend.

Congregational. - The first organization here took place March, 1868, through the labors of Rev. C.H. Eaton. The constituent members were: E. Adkins and wife, L.A., Sarah Fugard, Elijah Elliott and wife, John Hume and wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Sladen, Mrs. Bidwell and a few others.

The Pastors have been Revs. C.H. Eaton, C.C. Harrah, J. Allender, William J. Smith, Charles Slater and E.F. Sherman.

The building Committee was appointed September 15, 1868, and consisted of E. Adkins and C.H. Eaton. The first Trustees were E. Elliott, J. Bidwell and John Hume. The building was finished in the Spring of 1869, and dedicated about June 20th in the same year. Its cast was over $2,000.

There are now about forty-five members. John A. McMurray, George Vandyke and E. Adkins are the Deacons, and George Fugard, W.G. Clements and Benjamin Slemmons, Trustees; B.C. Ward, Clerk; E. Adkins, Treasurer.

E. Adkins has charge of the Sabbath school, assisted by George Vandyke; Miss Amanda McKnight, Organist. The teachers are B.C. Ward, George Vandyke, Mrs. Sarah Fugard, Mrs. Vandyke, C.L. Betler, Mrs. Smith. About forty pupils attend.


Preston Lodge, No. 218, A., F. & A. M. - This body was organized under dispensation, May 14, 1867, with J.G. Eckles, W.M.; A.B. Jenks, S.W.; Lewis Clark, Levi Jones, William I.Church, F.T. Murrah, Ralph Nixon. The charter was granted June, 1868.

The Master have been C.F. Head, T.J. Riegart, H.C. DeWolf, W.L. Clark, W.G. Clements.

The deaths among the membership have been: Ralph Nixon, 1867; D.M. Bartlett, July 4, 1875; William I. Church, Caleb Butler, 1877.

The officers for the year ending in June, 1879, are as follows: W.G. Clements, W.M.; F.M. Austin, S.W.; J.L. Russell, J.W.; A.B. Jenks, Treasurer; J.V. Adkins, Secretary; W.L. Clark, S.D.; E.R. Ward, J.D.; S.P. Pettis, S.S.; J. Wagoner, J.S.; J.A. Adamsoon, Tiler.

There are fifty-two members. The Lodge meets Tuesday evening on or before the full moon.


Prairie City Lodge, No. 144, I.O.O.F. - This body dates from 1867, it having been constituted by Chancey Howard, of Newton, D.G.M. George Fugard was the first N.G.; C. Conrad, V.G.; The other charter members were Isaiah Cooms, Caleb Bundy, S.F. Miller, B.J. Head, R.B. Smith, A.J. Wilkinson.

S.D. Butter is the present N.G.; S.D. Roberts, V.G.; D.G. Winchell, Sec. and Perm Scc.; Joseph Hinish, Treasurer; S.M. Jones, I.G.

The Lodge has a membership of about thirty, and meets on Friday evenings of each week.


Prairie City Lodge, No. 79, A. O. U. W. - This Lodge was instituted July 26, 1876, by O.J. Noble, P.G.M.W., assisted by a deputation from Monroe. The first officers were E.L. Sherman, P.M.W.; D.G. Winchell, M.W.; S.D. Butters, F.; M.I. Wooddell, O.; H.L. McGinitie, Recorder, T.J. Reigart, Financier; W.J. Summerwell, Receiver; T.W. Clark, O.W.; J.T. Hayes, J.W.; George Fugard, R.H. Dunlap and D.R.M. Hill, Trustees. The other charter members were John McWilliams, W.W. Duncan, George Holdefer, M.B. McKeever, R.E. French, J.W. Adams, M.D., C.M. Norris, J.G. Slemmer, S.M. Moneysmith.

The officers now are M.I. Wooddell, P.M.W.; H.H. Longmore, M.W.; George Fugard, F.; H. Brous, O.; H.L. McGinitie, Recorder; D.G. Winchell, Financier; W.J. Summerwell, Receiver, T.W. Clark, I.W.; J. Hinish, O.W.; J.W. Adams, Medical Examiner.

The Lodge has about twenty-five members, and meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month.

Pages 500-503

Transcribed & submitted by Sue Soden on December 15, 2002
Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved.