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LeGrand Township

Township is the pioneer settlement of the county, Mr. Joseph Davison having come in 1847, and settled upon one of the hills east of the Iowa river, in a beautiful grove, which still bears his name. Here he lived in a little cabin with the Indians, without a white neighbor for fifty miles. His brother came a little later, Mr. William Davison, and in a short time they both had good farms and supplied new comers with the necessaries of life, before there were a half dozen families in Marshall to till the soil.

This township has grove and open prairie and the very best stone for building purposes and other uses, in the State. Davison being well aware of its advantages, alternately threatened and coaxed the Indians, until there were enough whites in the country to stand up in bold front and drive them from their hunting grounds.

The Davisons were kind neighbors, but they removed to Oregon a few years ago "to find elbow room." Jostled there by brawny arms, they will probably turn up in Sitka with a pole bedstead and a wooden spoon, until civilization shall send them under the lee of the north pole.

Mr. S.N. Knode came to Le Grand in February of 1852, and finding a hut that had been used by a passing hunter, without door or chimney, or even a floor, moved his family soon after into this abode and began life in Iowa. For a few weeks, the smoke found its way out from the fire-place through the logs, (no "chinkin" to impede its progress,) and other families coming in, there were in this little cabin of sixteen feet square, thirty-six persons, counting the children, who found a home.

The Allmans, Voorhees, and Webbs, lived with them till they could prepare a home for themselves. And to add to this large family, travelers had to be entertained, and one night, four more were added to the original thirty-six, making it a matter of serious moment where to sandwich the crowd, so that each could have a puncheon for a bed. The "Judge" as he is familiarly called, once owned an immense tract of land, but through a relative, became involved, and was obliged to sell at a great sacrifice. As he is reported to be an heir to the famous Knode estate in Holland, we have no doubt that testy old Dame Fortune has a card yet in store for him.

Messrs. John and James Allman came here in the same spring, and had cabins built on the site of Le Grand village to the north part of town. They have been prominent men here, and done all they could to make this a business point. Mr. James Allman and M. Webb were the first to lay out Le Grand village in 1852. Mr. Sanders of Iowa City, was called to survey out Lafayette, and on his homeward journey did a like service for the aforesaid, which occupies a very pleasant location south of the Iowa river. Had the Cedar Rapids Railroad Company done itself and the village justice, Le Grand would have been a formidable rival to pretentious towns on the line; had Blair's cupidity in attempting to plant a town two miles from nowhere, did not succeed, and a solitary hotel with a rickety old station-house which is a disgrace to any corporation, is all that remains of Blair's embryo city. The Railroad Company must have been to much more expense in going around so far, that Le Grand might be left out in the cold; and what is more aggravating, the citizens had petted them in every possible manner, entertaining their officers and agents to the best in the town, and then gave them $12,000 in subscriptions, which was coolly pocketed without a thankee, and the smoke of their locomotives wreathes around the hills two miles distant, when they could have had the depot within forty rods, with less cost, and helped build up the town of their benefactors. It is said that prominent citizens of Marshalltown helped the nefarious scheme of John A. Blair, so as to kill off Le Grand, in revenge against those who voted for Marietta through the war. Mr. James Allman had the opinion that Le Grand would finally get a slice of Tama county and another from Grundy and Marshall, and become a county seat. Marietta being the farthest away, was less dangerous than Marshalltown, so he was quite inimical at times, against the latter place; but finally "Cobtown," as her enemies called her, gave a decision in favor of Marshalltown, and was loyal thereafter, with the exception of thirteen voters.

Among the early settlers we have already mentioned, was Mr. Robert Voorhees, who is still a citizen and an excellent man; also, Mr. Rollin Richards came about the same time; Mr. Ami Willets came a little later--is a Friend, and lives on the Davison farm. He is quite wealthy, and is well known for his charities, that are so characteristic of the beautiful religion of George Fox. Mr. Israel Willets is also an early settler, and living on a highly cultivated farm; is wealthy, and much respected. Mr. Hiram Hammond came in 1854, and has been connect3ed with mills, in the stock and grain business, has a large dry goods store, and is one of those pleasant, quiet men, who would make friends anywhere.

In 1853 there was a county election held at Griffith's mill in this township, where W.C. Smith was whig competitor against Griffith, democratic, for the office of county judge. There were twenty-two voters, and the result was in favor of Smith, although Griffith was so sure of election that he built a cabin at Marietta, with the expectation of occupying it. This was the first whig victory of the county. Mr. James Allman was the first postmaster, and in getting his commission, found this ambitious Mr. Griffith in the lists against him. But Mr. A. was indorsed in Iowa City by democratic patronage, and he was appointed in the office. Mr. Griffith was so chagrined at this result and that of the other contest, that he sold out and left the country. Previous to this, there was no postoffice short of Marengo, forty-five miles distant.

Chesley Coppic, a distant relative of Coppic, the colaborer of John Brown, was the first justice, and Dr. Young, since deceased, practicing physician. Riley McCool came here in 1856, and had quite a large stock of dry goods, but there came an unlucky fire and burned store and contents to the ground. Mr. McCool has been engaged since in the stock business, buying cattle for the Chicago markets, and handles a large amount of money; also, Hammond Brothers ship stock to large quantities to the same yards.

--pg 26-29, History of Marshall County, Iowa, by N. Sanford, 1867.

(c) Copyright 2007-16 by Jennie Williams Pahls. Last updated on October 21, 2016.