Mills County, Iowa

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Historical Events and Stories

A Brief History of Malvern

by John D. Paddock, 1917

Transcribed by: Cay Merryman

The author, John D. Paddock, reminisces about the early days of Malvern (then called Milton) and his move to the area. We pick up the story as Mr. Paddock is describing the small town of Milton about the year 1868/1869. Some paragraphs were deleted and some sentences changed to explain the deletions. These items seem to be taken from newspapers and sometimes are not always consistent as far as dates are concerned. Portions of this history are contained in the 1985 Mills County History.

The original plat of Milton was all west of First Avenue, which was then a country road, and east of this country road where the business houses, homes, churches, school building and forest of trees now are, was that season a waving field of wheat, ready for the harvesters.

Washington Darling, a near-by farmer was one of the contractors for the grading of this section of the road bed and his work was about completed. The site for location of the depot had been staked out. The season had been quite wet and the platted ground having been mostly under cultivation the year before had grown up to weeds, that held back the drainage and not many lots seemed to be desirable for building on. A higher point from which the "waters had abated" on the west side of Fourth Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets was staked out for the first building of the new city.

An Illinois friend, a Mr. Abbott, came out to take a look at Iowa and to put up the buildings. Mr. Abbott and nephews Pete and John Busby, of White Cloud, as his helpers, completed the building (20 x 30, 1 1/2 stories) in October, 1869. It is yet in good condition and a pleasant home place on first avenue.

It looked lonesome, this one building away off from the road, in the middle of a big weed pasture. No sidewalks, no travel marked streets. But a lively imagination of the mind, of neighbors, business men, mechanics and helpers that would soon be here, of fine homes, green grass lawns and flowers, of school and scholars, churches, of sewers, curb and gutter and paved streets seen in the distance gave better coloring to the picture. When material things look gloomy and life views clouded, Faith and Hope of better things are wonderful sustainers.

The fourth building erected was the Cullers House put up by Mr. Cullers in the winter of '69 and'70, as a place where hunger could be satisfied and a bed for rest and sleep could be had.

The Railroad:

The 18th day of November, the construction train, working from the west laid the track across Silver Creek bridge and met the gang from the east down near the Nishna, where the last rail was laid, completing this division. On the 26th day of November, 1869, the first through passenger train, consisting of the mail and express car and three coaches loaded with passengers, passed slowly through our little hamlet of one building without stopping. The entire population three in number were out and gave them the Chautauqua salute, which was returned in great number. The Railroad section foremen were the first to come and build their little homes for their families, one gang of men under Thomas Hawkins of good English blood, and one in charge of John Johnson whose native land was Sweden. In our first business acquaintance with Mr. Johnson as a creditor, his name was entered on the books as Yon Yohnson, our knowledge of Swedish-English being limited, but he was of good credit under either name.

We had neighbors, near neighbors now, one of them across the street and the other in the same block north. Of these men and their helpers only two became permanent residents, Mr. Hawkins and Mr. Chris Kelsey.


Post Office:

Early in November, a petition was circulated by Mr. Andrew Berkhimer and others, asking the Post Office Department for an office at Milton. The requisite number and more of petitioners were quickly secured and forwarded to Washington. In short time word came from the department that there was already an office of that name in the State, and the request could not be granted. The temporary settlement of the question was made by adding the word Station, making the name of the office Milton Station. The commission of first postmaster was dated January 17, 1870, and the office soon in working order.

The name Milton for the village and Milton Station as name of post office, caused so much trouble that steps were taken early by the railroad company and the citizens to make a legal change of name. The postmaster finally received a new commission as Post Master at Malvern, August 15, 1871. While considering the change of name, Dr. Brothers suggested the name Malvern, in honor of his old home town in Ohio.


James S. Miller from White Cloud was the pioneer blacksmith of Milton, building a shop and ready for business in February, 1870. In rapid succession business men are coming in. John N. Sheldon is the next to come putting up a building corner 4th Ave and 3rd St. and when completed he moved his stock of general merchandise from White Cloud where he had been in business for some time. Closely following Mr. Sheldon was the drug store stock and building of Dr. S.T. Brothers, from White Cloud, as it came in sight up through the field back of the cemetery, slow but sure, it reached its destination and was placed on a rock foundation just north of Paddock's Store.

The coming of these older business men from White Cloud with their knowledge of the country and acquaintance with the people added much to the nucleus already forming for the good citizenship of the village. Capt. H.E. Boehner and family became residents of the town in April 1870. Mr. M.E. Boehner, a nephew of the Captain having put up their store building and residence on the corner of 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue, it was all ready for their coming.

Mr. Wm. McCrary was the next business man to cast his lot with us and take up his duties as a citizen. He built a store building, with temporary home above on 4th Avenue, north of Mr. Sheldon's store, and put in a stock of general merchandise.

Jonathan Wilbur was our first mail carrier, on Star route between Milton Station and White Cloud post offices. B.F. Barnett commenced his long and honorable service as our village drayman. A grain elevator was built early in 1870 by J.D. Ladd & Co., but soon passed into possession of J.F. Evans, a resident of Council Bluffs. Bryson & Son were the starters of the lumber business, young Mr. Bryson as manager. Following them closely in the lumber business was the firm of Moninger & Ringland represented here by I.B. Ringland.

Abbott, Kinsely & Co., a chain store firm built and put in a good stock of hardware under the management of John J. Haight. J.J. Curtis opens another hotel in a building erected on the corner of 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue, named the Curtis House.

In July 1870, Mr. Fred Spencer thought the village and country round about needed a first class grocery store. Every one had to furnish his own building for business; there were none for rent.

Wm. Bennett built a business building just north of the Culler's House which had a varied use as a public hall, Lunch room and Saloon and later a general store.

There have been a number of business men and helpers that have come in so quietly during the year that the news gatherer has failed to introduce them as they came. The census taker has not reported and we have no record of the wives and youngsters in the homes of the helpers in the business houses, shops and yards, the men with the teams, with saw and plane, with shovel, ax and spade, all helping to make history. The three that observed Thanksgiving Day, 1869, have some helpers now and we will call the roll:

  • Business employees:
    • Abbott, Knisely & Co. Hardware
    • A. H. Adams, Clerk
    • Mrs. Adams and M.J. McBride, Millinery
    • Wm. Bennett, Lunchroom
    • H. E. Boehner & Son, General Store
    • M. E. Boehner, Carpenter
    • B. F. Barnett, Drayman
    • Dell Billings, Clerk
    • Brothers, Gastineau & Co., Drugs
    • Brothers & Roberts, Physicians
    • Bruson & Van Doren, Lumber
    • W. E. Cain, Restaurant
    • S.A. Campbell, clerk and student
    • Elias Carsner, Carpenter
    • Jas. Churchill, Restaurant
    • H. A. Copeland, Atty
    • H.A. & Wm. Copeland, Publishers
    • J. M. Cullers, Malvern House
    • Curtis & Sweetzer, General Store
    • J. J. Curtis, Hotel
    • Dauthort & Gorton, Real Estate and Insurance
    • Clarence Denmark, clerk
    • M. O. Dowd, surveyor
    • Wm. Dunn, Clerk
    • Evans Bros., Grain Elevator
    • Gus Gerber, Station Agent
    • J. J. Haight, Mgr. Hdwe
    • Ira Hoople, saloon
    • Johnie Kincannon, Barber
    • E. B. Knapp, Harness
    • J. W. Lawson, Furniture
    • Lilly & Clinedinst, Plasterers
    • Lord & Kyle, Painters
    • Wm. McCrary, General Store
    • D. McFarlane, Dry Goods
    • Byron Mershon, Clerk
    • James S. Miller, blacksmith
    • Moninger & Ringland, Lumber
    • Pat Murray, stone mason
    • Bert Nichols, Jeweler
    • J. D. & C. H. Paddock, General Store
    • Julius Pettee, Barber
    • Emerson Robinson, Clerk
    • Henry Robinson, Clerk
    • J. N. Sheldon, General Store
    • J. B. Stetson, M. D. H. Slonaker, Lunch room
    • F. P. Spencer, Grocer
    • I. J. Swain, Book keeper
    • Frank Tubbs, Teamster
    • Eli Vickery, Carpenter
    • H. H. Webster, Meat Market
    • Fred Zanders, Boots & Shoes

Quite a respectable gathering in a year of time. Coming in are J. C. Herbert and family and Mr. Herbert starts a hospital for decrepit footware. S. Shamp sells gum, licorice and candy and serves oysters in season; Provost & Safeley Furniture and Undertaking; Mrs. Bowers and Mrs. Shamp Millinery; J. W. Jones a horse garage; John O'Conner a new blacksmith; Gidley & Heck Contractors, J. E. Neiman, plasterer; Roberts & Sweetzer, Drugs; J. C. Cook is the brick maker. Mr. W. D. Evans opened up a new farm in 1870 and also bought some lots and erected a good building in town where he started a banking business under the name Mills County Bank, part of the building occupied by a new hardware store started by Wm. Black. Hubert Harris is the name of our new tailor. Hubert was a boozer and didn't stay long on the job.

The old axiom that "A rolling stone gathers no moss" seems to fit some of our citizens. Dr. Stetson went to Hastings and D. McFarlane, the dry goods man followed. J. N. Sheldon sells his business to Mr. Darling who forms a partnership with P. V. Hawley. J. J. Curtis transfers the Curtis house to a Mr. Dunlap and A.N. Covert is acting landlord. J. W. Lawson sells his furniture business to J. M. Heifner. James Miller sells the pioneer blacksmith shop to W. H. E. Smith. Capt. Cullers leases the Malvern House to Geo. B. Hood and Harry Baker who stay just one month.

Church and School

There was an organization of the Baptist Church that was formed December 26, 1857. The names of the original members of Malvern Church were: Andrew and Margaret Berkhimer, W. A. Cain, Mary Carsner, Amanda E. Davis, Margaret Dunigan, W. K. Follett, B. G. Harrison, Phyllis Harrison, Ellen Purcell, Hannah F. Summers, Harriett Woodrow, Stephen Woodrow and Enoch and Elizabeth Witt. Rev. W. A. Cain, Pastor.

April 13, 1870, friends of the Sunday School met in the hall over The Chronicle office for organization of a Union School and the following named officers were chosen: P.V. Hawley, Supt.; M.E. Boehner, Ass't.; Mrs. M.J. Curtis, Sec.; Robt. Tohe, Librarian and Wm. McCrary musical director.

Religious services had been observed from time to time by Rev's. Plumb, Cooley, Otis and Loomer in section house, Hotel and Depot wareroom. An early movement was made by the Methodist and the Baptist people for building church homes in Malvern. The M. E. Church society was organized here as a part of the circuit April 24, 1870. There is no record of the charter members of this society other than J. H. Madden, Jesse Reed and Henry Raines.

Mr. Marshall Angel opened up a school in a little shack of a building. This was the first effective start of the public school. An organization of the school district of Malvern was effected in May, 1871, with I. B. Ringland, H. E. Boehner, W. M. McCrary, J. M. Strahan, M. J. Curtis and J. D. Paddock, directors, Henry Gastineau, Treasurer.


During the summer of 1870, there were several small homes built south of the track. Among the number were B.F. Barnett, Chris Kelsey and Wm. Dunn. J.W. Lawson, wife and son came early as residents of the town. Mr. Lawson was one of the first good bunch of business men, putting up a building on the north side of 3rd Street and filled it up with home furnishing good for sale to customers. Henry Slonaker and wife were residents of the neighborhood before the town started, young people from the Slonaker and Foxworthy homes. James Churchill, wife and baby came in August 1870, and soon commenced the erection of a building for business and a home on 4th Avenue.

The participants in the first marriage of residents of the village were Mr. Eli Vickery and Mrs. Ann Roberts, August 17, 1870, and closely following them, the marriage of Mr. James B. Miller and Miss Mary Raines. Squire West as Justice of the Peace, who lived northwest of town, did most of the marrying in those days. The first child born in the village was a boy baby at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hawkins, October 19, 1870, and they gave him the plain name of John Hawkins.

A boy baby was left at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Dunn on December 19th, just two months to a day younger than baby Hawkins.

The birth place of the first baby girl was at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Lawson and they gave the bright little one the name of Nettie Malverna (for Malvern).

Strahan's addition of the hill and hillside to the town in December, 1870. First to build homes in the new addition, Mr. Bryson at the top of the hill and Mr. Ringland who housed his family in a nice home at the foot of the hill.

Silver Urn Masonic lodge moves from its country home with Mr. Sterling Davis on upper Silver Creek to Malvern, to try city life in a hall room above the drug store of Dr. S.T. Brothers.

The popular parlor game of setting up is quite the fad just now among the young people and has resulted in several life long partnerships already recorded and more to follow. Isaac Mulholland of the firm of Mulholland, Thatcher & Co., thinks he can manage his business better, with another partner and Miss Kate Boehner says yes to his partnership proposals. Dr. Roberts has changed his mind about having his sister keep house for him, and Miss Ruth Barnes, as his wife takes her place as homekeeper. Geo. B. Hook goes east to Brewer, Maine and weds Miss Susie Currier. Henry Gastineau goes to Indiana and finds a Mrs. Gastineau.

The Newspaper

The first issue of our village paper, No. 1, Vol. 1 of the Mills County Chronicle, came from the hand press, October 15, 1870, edited and managed by H.A. Copeland and Wm. Copeland , father and son. It was published every Saturday morning, that it might be fresh for our Sunday reading.

Malvern grain and produce market quotations in the first issue of the Chronicle:
Wheat 75 cents, Corn 35 cents, Oats 30 cents, Flour $3.00 per hundred, Bacon 20 cents, Lard 20 cents, Butter 35 cents, Eggs 15 cents, Potatoes 35 cents, Salt $3.00 barrel.

October 29, The Chronicle publishes this notice:
"Rev. O. W. Cooley will hold religious service in the dining room of the Malvern House (changed from Culler's House) tomorrow morning at 10:30, all are invited".


New Year's Day 1872, there is a wedding at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Black. Their daughter Marion is married to Mr. L. C. Mullen from Ohio.

Public School

  • On April 24, 1872 the following were students in the Public School:
    • Walter, Johnie, Amy and Mary Atkinson
    • Ella Black
    • Clara and Eddie Boehner
    • Emma, Ida and Ella Brobst
    • Chester and Sarah Berkhimer
    • Thomas Benton
    • Ida Bennett
    • Alice and Sarah Berry
    • Clarence Cullers
    • Robert, Lottie and Eva Copeland
    • Bessie Carsner, Vena Donner, Charles Fleming
    • Lucy, Jennie, Henry, Willie and Agnes Herbert
    • Susie Knapp
    • Emma Long
    • Benton Lawson
    • Clay and Harry McCrary
    • Anna, Viola, Eugene and Charlie Miller
    • Earlie Norris
    • Mary Norton
    • Harry Provost
    • Frank Pratt
    • Emma, Maggie and Eva Ringland
    • Lucy, Ella and Frank Strahan
    • Eddie, Willie and Johnie Shamp
    • Lucinda Thompson and Lillie West.
There must have been two separate schools or else the dates were recorded in error.

  • A roll call of the public school of 1872 reads as follows:
    • Alice , Howard and Lilly Brothers;
    • Anna, Charles, and Emma Holmes;
    • Albert, Clara and Phidelia Darling;
    • Bernardo and Mary Byers;
    • George, Melissa, Rufus and William Foxworthy;
    • George and John Hibbs;
    • Hattie, Orrin, Charles and Louisa Humphrey;
    • Henry Woodrow;
    • Myron, Myra, Rosa and Walter Montgomery;
    • Mary and Taylor Raines;
    • Charles , Emma, Frank and James Boles;
    • Charles Wooding;
    • Charles, Clarence, Flora, Kate and Warren Hayes;
    • Clarence and Milton Van Doren;
    • Charlotte Lewis;
    • Dudley, Rachael and Stephen Rickabaugh;
    • Emma and Rachael Hargin;
    • Elisha Minard;
    • Edward and Hiram Fuller;
    • John, Leslie and Laura Summers;
    • John Sanders;
    • John Barnes;
    • James, Thornberg, Tracy and Wm. Moss;
    • James Hull;
    • Kate Corn;
    • Mary and Rilla Hammond;
    • Myra Bishop;
    • Wm. Morse.
Little bands of Indians visit us occasionally, selling their wares, begging some and possibly borrowing some.


Gus Bada buys the blacksmith shop of Mr. Smith. Mr. A. D. Place, his mother and two sisters come to Malvern where Mr. Place goes into the lumber business. The Mills County Bank to avoid confusion with the bank of the same name in Glenwood changes the name to Farmers and Traders Bank. Robert, Joe and John Knight, three brothers take up residence in Malvern. James Jones, wife and baby make this their stopping place. Captain Boehner's son George R. was killed in an accident on the Texas & Pacific Railway. The wife of our townsman, C. W. Black, died today, Nov 26, 1872.



In 1872 and 1873 carpenters, plasterers, tinners, painters and helpers were kept busy building new business houses, enlarging the older ones and building homes that added much to the permanence and beauty of the village. Curtis & Sweetzer, Henry Raines, Wm. Norris and James Churchill built business houses and Prof. Hannah, Frank Tubbs, I. P. Rickabaugh, Eli Vickery, H. Austen, Wm. Sweetzer, M. J. Curtis, G. T. Donner, A. N. Covert, A. P. Provost, Wm. McCrary, H. Gastineau, W. D. Evans, F. P. Spencer, A. D. Place, M. E. Mitchell, Tip Wilson, Henry Bohlen, built homes in the north and east parts of town. Barnet, Kelsey, Carsner, Brobst, Dunn, Andres, Churchill, Miller and Noel were other builders. Cook and Kemple are the brick makers in the suburbs of town, Walton and Pickett raise and sell stock from their nursery.

James H. Smith with wife and babies move to Malvern. J. E. Garrigues, and Robert Aiton in partnership in Law, Real Estate and Insurance. J. E. Neiman buys I. P. Rickabaugh's home. Mr. and Mrs. Geo. B. Hook have enough of the "wild and wooly west" and return to Brewer and Bangor, Maine. March 1873, R. J. Brown from Bedford, Iowa buys out J. J. Haights hardware business. Hamer F. Wilson and Al and Harry Hershey are new residents in town. Mr. H. A. Norton, the grocer and Mr. Joseph Thomas, the tailor are two new men in town.

Four of our young people get mated, Mr. E.B. Knapp and Miss Lucy Herbert; Mr. G. T. Donner and Miss Ella Haight.

Bert Nichols, the jeweler, buys the barber shop of Clarence Denmark.

In April 1873, some new men at the helm to guide the business of the village: J.J. Hight is Mayor; A.D. Place, Recorder: C.H. Paddock, E.B. Knapp, S.W. Roberts, F.P. Spencer and Wm. Black councilmen.

New arrivals F.M. Morford and family take up residence. Feb. 11, 1873, Mr. Marshall M. Angel and Miss Retta Cunningham became partners in the journey of life. Mr. Daniel Hargin leases the Malvern House of Mr. Anderson.

Jack Jackson is the leader of our Malvern Cornet Band, members are Henry Slonaker, Eli Vickery, E.B. Knapp, Geo. Bailey, Dud Rickabaugh, Wm. Wiles and J.E. Robinson.

In 1873-74 the population of the town is about 800.


January 4, 1874, C. H. Paddock and Mattie McBride are united in marriage followed by M. K. Rickabaugh and Miss Anna Knapp and Mr. Al Hawkins and Miss Nellie Boehner. Mr. Zanders sells his business to Mr. J. P. Retelsdorf and goes back to the farm. Gus Donner sells his drug store interests to H. K. Snyder & Co.

Some new businesses: Raines & Reynolds, drug store men; Rickabaugh Bros, new grocers; M. K. Rickabaugh, Harness; Robert Aiton is our legal advisor; Dr. A. E. Eddy represents the homeopathic practice of medicine; wagon makers and blacksmiths are Adams & Jackson; Frank Hobbs, candy store; Wilson and Place are buyers and cribbers of corn; I. H. Adams , Restaurant; new men that push the saw and plane are John M. Creswell, Safely Bros., A. P. Provost, J. L. Hammond, Ed Smith, Jake and Joel Miller and Saul Hibbs; Geo. Lynch , the new tailor; the ladies Armstrong & Hobbs Dress makers; J. B. Coup is the picture man and Ed. Haymaker, saloon.

Mr. F. Nutt is our bread and cake builder and Nathan Feast is the new barber. Mr. Darling sells his livery barn to Mr. Anderson, the hotel man. Marshall M. Angel takes the place of Prof. Austen who resigns as principal of our public schools.

The Catholic Church was organized and building erected in 1874, John B. Murphy the prime mover in its inception. Father Kempker from Council Bluffs among the first to conduct services.

July 30th 1874, Rosaline S. Roe died today, and the home is desolate without the living presence of the wife and to the five young lives in the home.

J.G.W.F. Fleming comes to town with initials enough to his name to be a duke, but he is modest and only claims to be a good painter.

First National Bank organized. J.M. Strahan, President; L. Bentley, Cashier.

There had congregated together from time to time quite a community settlement around and near the homes of the old settlers, Jos. Foxworthy and Daniel Hargin and the school house of that district. Mr. John Dyson suggested the name of the community should be Peaceville, after a little wrangling. The earlier residents of Peaceville precinct have been Jos. Foxworthy, Daniel Hargin, John Hammond, S. W. Montgomery, Dick Hammond, Robert Hammond, John Williams, John Dyson, I. Hatfield, Wm. Robinson, E. K. Kemple, Thos. Bonham, Tom Manahan, Mrs. Mary Wooding, Mr. Laing, Wm. Van Doren and Joe Deardorff.

Mr. Curtis of the firm of Curtis & Donner sells his interest in the business as grain dealers, to R.J. Donner and it is now Donner Bros.

Dr. Brothers in company with H. McIntosh purchases a mill site on lower Silver Creek south at the stone quarry and erected a well equipped flouring mill and was in operation by them until 1879, when Mr. F.M. Buffington purchased the propery and built up a good business in the products of the Malvern Mills.

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