Lancaster Township
This township lies between the branches of Skunk river, and extends within six miles of the county line, both east and west, and is twelve miles in length. It was known as Ridge precinct. In 1846 it was organized as a township, taking the name of Lafayette. After the location of the town of Lancaster it was changed to the name of that town.

The first white settlers were: Obadiah Tharp, John W Snelson, Presley Doggett, William Trueblood, James Robinson, B F Chastain, William McGrew, James M and Jesse B Mitts, George Wilmer, J B Whisler, Amos Holloway, David Stont, J G Dement and Sam Hardesty. Mr Snelson located on the present farm of Corbin Itterback, and for some time ran a ferry across North Skunk. A cabin was erected near his dwelling in which Mr Whisler commenced selling goods, in the fall of 1844. Mr Whisler afterward sold goods in Lancaster, and at his mill, four miles west of town. In 1845 J G Crocker located near Lancaster, and in 1846 his son, the late General M M Crocker, received the appointment of military cadet at West Point.

This township is the largest and possesses the greatest variety of natural resources of any in the county. While it contains farming lands which are not excelled by any other in the State, it also has an abundance of timber and excellent water power. It has always taken the lead in point of population, and when the seat of justice was located there it substantially controlled the politics of the county, and thus was the first precinct in point of influence, a position which it has not yet entirely lost. Lancaster, with its heavy democratic majorities, is still a power in political conventions.

The population in 1850 was 349, in 1856 it was 1,110; and in 1875 it was 1,454.

The first school in the county was probably taught by Henry Horse, in a log house which formerly stood on the Doggett farm, in the winter of 1844 and ’45.

Among the first marriages was that of Mr Jordan to Maria McGrew; and the first birth appears to have been a son of Augustus M Mead. Benjamin F Chastain organized the first church in May, 1844. The first members were W Snelson and wife, Jesse Gabbert and wife, Dr Ragland, Nathan Ruth, and B F Chastain. They had no house of worship, and their meetings were held at the residence of Mr Snelson, on section three. The first sermon was preached by Tannehill, at the house of John Cox, in 1843.

Situated as it is, between the two folks of Skunk river, the best water power is easy of access, and this was utilized by the erection of mills. These mills have always been a help to the development of the resources of the entire county, and have had a good reputation in this and adjoining townships. To aid in the settlement of that portion of the county, and afford ready communication with other places, there was early a need felt for good roads. A county road, commonly known as the Ridge Road, was early projected, and ever since has been regarded as the leading highway of the county. Although several railways have been projected across the township, none so far have been successful. The Ottumwa road, after numerous failures, now promises to be built at no far distant day, and when built will contribute much toward bringing out the large store of undeveloped resources which abound in great variety. Owing to the size of the township it has an extra force of civil officers. For the present year they are as follows:

                        Justices of the Peace—W H Hubbard, B C Moore, S C Harris

                        Clerk—H B Jacobs

                        Assessor—S W Brunt

                        Constable—Josiah Utterbach, F M Wertz, E Bralliar

Owing to the fact that so much of the history of this township is intimately connected with the county-seat contests, and while the county-seat was at Lancaster, the history of that town was the history of the township, the facts will be grouped as far as possible in the following short account of the Town of Lancaster.

Reference: History of Keokuk County, Iowa, 1880

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