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.
1876 Early in 1876, Mr. Fred Zanders invests in real estate by purchase of lots on 4th Ave., north of the pioneer store, putting up a building for business and a home and opening out a stock of boots and shoes.

A new sign put up today reads Drs. Brothers & Campbell, Physicians and Surgeons. E.B. Knapp our pioneer harness maker leaves Malvern.

The Church of Christ was organized, February 26th, 1876. Charter members:

G.W. Baker
M.J. Clark
W.P. Clark
Polly Day
Adaline Fowler
Jesse Fowler
Mary Foxworthy
R.D. Hammond
Catherine Harles
W.H. Hardman, first pastor
Jessie Hull
Lizzie Irick
Elizabeth Johnson
E.K. Kemple
S. Kemple
E. McLane
Mary Morse
E. Shepard
Ellen Summers
Henry Walton

February 26, 1876. The fully completed and equipped Presbyterian Church building is ready for dedication today.

Mr. W.B. Smith and family have been here some time, Mr. Smith as a helper in the store of Barnes & Roberts. He has his brother, S.O. Smith come to Malvern and they open up a lumber yard and were together at the business for about three years.

The elder Mr. Myers and wife and their sons John Myers and Sam Myers and their families locate in Malvern. The older ones are all gone, but some of the children are yet residents.


City Directory for 1877.

R.L. Gidley, Mayor

J.M. Creswell, Recorder

O.H. Snyder, Assessor

W.D. Evans, Treasurer

Farrell, Wyatt, Korns, Cooper and I. P. Rickabaugh councilmen. Dr. Curfman and Dr. Carley are two new men for the sick. Mr. E.H. Mable is Railroad agent. Lewis and Gray and Young and Garrigues are our attorneys.

Comings and Goings. John Dunn and family move to Malvern. Mr. W.M. McCrary and family leave Malvern. John Safely, another good citizen takes a notion to move to Council Bluffs. Dr. Cleaver and family come from Tabor to Malvern. Myron Mershon, an early helper in the business of the village returns and opens up business for himself in confectionery and bakery shop. Early this evening the little home of Jack Pierce is burned with nearly all its contents. Mr. Joe Barrack and family move into town.

New businesses and changes: Harlass and Penny meat market is sold to Wilson and Rickabaugh. W.S. Wiatt, Grocer; Boehner & Finch, General Store; Smith Bros., Lumber; W.W. Wills, Jeweler; Baker & Kinports, Furniture; J.W. Bartlett, Grocer; J.H. Love, General Store; Hawkins & Terrill, Gents Furnishings; Files Harness Shop; O.H. Snyder, Drugs; Gray Bros., Harness; Mrs. Buell, Millinery; Ben Garman, bording house; Roland & Lincoln, Bakery; M.J. Higgins, O. Belknap and Baid and Braker will brighten up things for you if you will furnish the paint.

Prof. E. B. Parrish is principal of our school.
In 1875, Rev. J. W. Roe was quite successful in raising funds for the establishing of an Academical School in Malvern. Prof. Roe M. Bridges opened the school in 1878, in normal and scientific school work and was succeeded by Prof. M. Lewis with his assistants, Davidson Lowe and Miss Taylor and later C. L. Brill and J. D. Graves were helpers to make it win. In 1882, a class of our young people graduated from the school: D. E. Whitfield, A. M. Darling, H. D. Brothers, Miss Myra Bishop, Miss Carrie Buffington and Miss Lillie Brothers.
A wedding at the home of Mr. and Mrs. H. Barnes today April 25, 1878 united the lives of the daughter, Miss Minnie Barnes and Dr. S. A. Campbell.

The following named young people have been tied with a true lovers knot: I. C. Bonham and Georgie Earl; Al Hershey and Jennie Place; J. E. Garrigues and Nellie Boehner; Robert Padget and Anna Conger.

Train Disaster
October 15, 1879, the first through train on the St. Louis and Council Bluffs Railroad goes through town. November 8th, at about 8:30 in the evening, not quite a month later, occurred the frightful disaster at St. Charles MO, taking three lives of our own people, bringing great sorrow to our town and the community. Mr. Josiah Wearin, Mr. R. W. Hyde and John Summers, also the life of John Barnet, the brakeman that brought sorrow to some other homes. Mr. J. M. Strahan and Mr. Fred Davis were also in the caboose car with the others. Mr. Strahan obeyed quickly the impulse and jumped off from the car into the darkness, miraculously striking astride of the pier timbers to which he clung, while the car in which his companions were, went down in a second of time later into the opened chasm, to the rocks and water 75 feet below. Mr. Davis went down with those who perished, but was wondrously spared his life, with only slight bodily injuries. A span of the bridge gave way under the heavily loaded stock train of eighteen cars of cattle which were being shipped to Buffalo NY. John Summers was not killed outright but after hours of suffering, death came to his relief.
Olaf Hedlund takes up his duties as a citizen.
Mr. J. W. Bartlett has interests that call him away and they move to Red Oak.
June 1880 A destructive fire visited the town, resulting in the loss of one life; Mrs. H. T. Willard living up stairs in the Sweetzer building returning to get something was caught in the flames and burned so badly that after hours of terrible suffering death came to her relief. Four buildings were burned, owned by Wm. Norris and Mr. Sweetzer and the grocery stock of D. W. C. Kline with only limited insurance.


Mr. Walter Larison buys the Henshaw Barber shop and forms a partnership with his brother Charles already in the business.
Mr. R. A. Baird is our new lumber dealer and Mr. J. D. Graves his assistant.
Miss Pangburn, a business woman of the village for several years sells the Millinery business to Mrs. M. Lewis.
Mr. Geo. W. Bates is a new Restaurant man.

Corn cobs are very cheap, an awful big load for sixty five cents and you can get 20 pounds of dried apples at the store for $1.00.

Miscellaneous News
December 8, 1880, I. B. Ringland died, a large man in heart and conscience as well as stature, high ideals of right and justice, which he practiced in his life.
F. P. Spencer, a stand pat citizen of ten years record, breaks loose from Malvern but he didn't go very far away. Mr. Spencer was a soldier in the Civil war, and for a while was a guest of the Southern Confederacy, having a suite of rooms at Andersonville prison.
Prof. Wm. Moore is principal of the school with Mrs. Mitchener, Miss Laura Bishop and Miss Kate Brown as assistants.
The pastors of the churches. A. Rhodes, Baptist; W. J. Wilson, Presbyterian; A. J. Andres, M.E.; the Christian Church has no settled pastor.
A marriage at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Strahan, their daughter, Lucy to Mr. D. A. Jones, June 16, 1881. Earlie Norris and Mary Leak start out on the journey of married life.
Cupid is very busy at his work. Mr. Lindsey comes down from Council Bluffs and takes the daughter, Miss Lizzie from the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Evans and Elmer Stone comes from Glenwood and takes Miss Atlanta Anderson, the landlord's daughter. Mr. Major Barnes, Miss Gertie Bartlett; Charles Larison, Miss Nettie Finch; John Barton, Miss Bessie Tucker; Eli Crane, Miss Phidelia Darling; S. E. Campbell and Miss Anna Deaver, all have stopped to listed to cupid's artful stories.

Some young people wed: Hugh Smith and Viola Thompson; H. Richmond and Ida Barnett.

It is not long since friends were merry at the wedding of Miss Lottie Buell to Mr. Geo. W. Gray and said good bye to them as they went to their new home in Lake City IA. Word comes today that George is dead from that dreadful scourge Small Pox.

This and That
H. T. Richmond strolls down here from Carson and he likes it so well that he stays.

Mr. Wm. Black finding business more burdensome than in his younger days, sells his stock of hardware to R. J. Brown and Mr. Brown in assuming the new business takes John Barton into partnership.

Rev. R. M. Coulter follows Mr. Wilson as pastor of Presbyterian Church.

The first record we have of the now indispensible phone business, Mr. Baird, the lumberman connects office and home.

Mr. Gidley rents the Judkins House property to Mr. Frank Wilkinson.

G. T. Donner receives his commission as postmaster.

Mr. J. Chenoweth and family sell home and business and move to Leadville CO

Robert Aiton, our early history maker has secured a government position in the patent office at Washington.

Geo. Wetmore buys out the business of Geo. W. Bates. Mr. Bates is now selling sunshine and climate in Los Angeles CA.

Bonham & Hammond are nursery stock men and gardeners in Peaceville suburbs.

Mrs. Thomas Kayton in the country finds three ten cent pieces in a chicken's gizzard.

Dr. and Mrs. Roberts start today for Colorado, hoping a change may be beneficial to the doctor.

Frank Dixon is a new clerk at Paddock's Store.

Mr. Fred Zanders returns to town from the farm and is building a fine home on Boundary Street.

Mr. F. C. Thompson buys Rhea Donner's property on 4th Street for use as a carriage factory.

Mr. D. M. Whitfield, a valued friend of Malvern moves from the farm and purchases a fine home in town.

Mr. W. B. Smith, a resident and business man of Malvern since 1876, died today, January 17, and his body is taken to Lansing, Iowa, his old home for burial.
The wife having been taken away by death, J. T. Daugherty sells his home on Chase Street between Marion Avenue and Lincoln Avenue to Prof. Moore, consideration $475.

Harry Leland not long ago a well liked young man in Malvern is killed in a railroad accident at Sabula IA, leaving his wife a widow after only two weeks of married life.

Dr. Cleaver a short time ago went to his old home in Canada, seeking health, dies there and the body is brought to Tabor for burial that being the home before coming to Malvern.

June 27, 1882. The State of Iowa voted on prohibition of the liquor traffic, our town record was 128 for and 54 against.

Mr. J. K. DeWolfe has been away for a while, returns and buys John Shuman's meat market and gets busy.

Mr. C. C. Baird, Sr and family come to Malvern for home and business. He buys out the late business and property interests of F. P. Spencer.

Mr. Strahan's fine new home is completed and ready for occupants.

Dr. Dearing is associated with Dr. Brothers in his profession.

A marriage ceremony at the home of Mrs. Ringland who gives her daughter Eva into the care of Mr. E. C. Smith.

Late real estate changes are M. J. Higgins buys the Bates home; Major Barnes the D. H. Thompson property and Geo. Wetmore is building a home.

Newt Jacobs opens up an ice cream parlor and candy store on Third Street. Mr. J. A. Parrish is the pump and wind mill man.

R. A. Baird the lumberman buys the Cleaver home on Douglas Street.

The families of J. T. Ward and Geo. Keffer are added to the population of the town.

Michael Cunningham completes his fine new home on Marion Avenue.

J. H. Howe, a good citizen of Winterset, Iowa, moves to Malvern and joins the ranks of business men.

There was quite a little city of the dead gathered in the Aurora Cemetery before the town site of Milton was platted and now more room is needed. For legal transaction of business and management articles of incorporation were drawn August 26th 1882, in the name of Malvern Cemetery Association and the following officers elected: H. W. Summers, J. M. Johnson and J. D. Paddock Trustees, and H. A. Norton, Treasurer. Seven and a half acres of land was bought of W. F. Raines at $75 per acre.

Sunday morning February 18, 1882, Postmaster Donner finds the office robbed of five hundred dollars value in stamps and a small amount of money, with no foot or finger print clue of the robbers.

McCurdy and Son are new men in the harness business. J. E. Skadan moves his business from First Avenue around on Center Street.

Paddock and Co.'s new store building is completed and they move in and take possession January 14, 1882.

Neiman and McClune are inside wall builders. Miss Justice and Mrs. Madison Dress makers. R. A. Baird buys out F. C. Harris & Co. and is the owner of the two yards

A Post of The Grand Army of the Republic is organized of the soldiers of the Civil War, 47 of them in the organization, representing all branches of the service that had gathered here since the hush of peace in 1865. Officers were elected, C. W. Black, Post Commander; T. M. Britt, S. V. Com; John Ryerson, Jun. V.C.; A. J. Chantry, Adjt; C. H. Paddock, Q.M.; G. W. Curfman, Surgeon; James H. Wing, Chaplain; H. H. Woodrow, O.D.; James S. Criswell, O.G.; W. K. Follett, Seargent Major; J. M. Johnson, Q.M.S; and the name Milton Summers Post was adopted in honor of Lieut. Milton Summers. a comrade who had died from wounds received in a charge made against the enemy on a southern battlefield.

Robert Knight, the bridge builder is kept busy replacing washed out bridges.

Father Parmeter is stricken with apoplexy and life soon goes from the old tenement of clay.

Mr. R. E. K. Mellor and Miss Maggie Ringland take upon themselves the obligations of married life.


One of the startling tragedies that takes us out over the border line is the murder of old Mr. J. M. Shelby during the night of December 29, 1883, in his little home and business place near Pleasant Valley school house. The townspeople knew the quiet old man when he came to town and expressed an earnest abhorrence of such a deed. The murderer was later taken, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He is yet in prison, notwithstanding strenuous efforts for his pardon.

Uncle Sam will carry a letter for us today October 4th, 1883, for two cents, yesterday he charged us three.

Mr. Frank Goodwin is busy today talking to his wife over his phone line between the store and home.

Mr. David Duncan and family take up their residence in Malvern.

E. B. Parrish who has been a maker of history in Malvern dies in Dakota, his new home.

Frank Williams builds a home in the north west part of town.

C. E. Dinwiddie is a first class painter and paper hanger.

Baseball team organized with E. B. Brown, President; R. S. Padget, V. P; Dr. W. H. Dearing, Secretary; Dr. Howard Brothers, Captain; Chan. C. Baird, Scorer.

Mr. Chester Berkhimer and Miss Mary Oney are joined in wedlock at the Paddock home.

Mr. M. T. Davis comes from business at Shenandoah and he buys the home of J. E. Garrigues, who is leaving us for a new home at Greely CO.

Mr. Joe Deardorff and family came this way from Pennsylvania and buy a plat of ground and builds a home in the suburbs of town.

The First National Bank block of buildings on First Avenue complete and occupants moving in: First National Bank on corner, Geo. McCabe, Hardware; H. E. Schaeffer, Furniture and J. H. Love & Son, General Store.

Mr. G. A. Rogers buys out Groendykes Shop and the home of Prof. Moore and Mrs. Buell buys the I. C. Bonham home.

Dr. Curfman sells his home to J. T. Ward, gives up his lucrative practice and moves to western Nebraska, seeking climate favorable to Mrs. Curfman's health.

John Robrahn is a maker of men's new suits when the old ones cannot be renewed.

Mrs. W. L. Edmunds publishes a card of thanks to the many friends in town and country who have made her the gift of a little home.

Another out of town record to make - The death by his own hand of the well known and respected citizen Mr. Valentine Plumb of Anderson Township.

The working force at the packing house are Charles Cottrell, Superintendent; John Each, Assistant; C. A. Day, Cooperage; Ed VanDoren, Engineer; Joe Deardorff, Fireman.

October, 1883, L. W. Boehner & Co. move into their fine new brick store building on Third Street and Third Avenue.

The teachers institute have a gathering at Malvern. A social reception is tendered them by our corps of teachers, Prof. Ebaugh, Miss Myra Bishop, Mrs. F. A. Marsh, Miss Lela C. Mitchell, Miss Emma Willey and the citizens of the town.

A new arrival in town, December 8th, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Paddock, a boy.

Jack Shere of Silver City comes down and takes Sarah from the Kelsey home to his own.

Some move ins: Thomas Paul, wife and daughter came in from the farm. John and Wilbur Foulks come from Chariton and start business of Farm Machinery and Hardware under the name of Foulks Bros.

Wm. Boney gives up his position at the Pioneer Store and is going to farm some Mills County land.

Our citizen, W. M. Moore is elected to the office of County Superintendent of Schools and J. L. Talbott is appointed by Sheriff Farrell as Deputy.

C. E. Dinwiddie lays down his paint brush and paper hanging tools and is proprietor of a Variety Store.

H. L. Marsh is Principal of School.

Young John Christopher takes a position as a helper at the new hardware store of Keffer & Co.

Thomas Paul buys the fine home property of R. J. Brown.

The Malvern Creamery is making about 200 pounds of butter a day. Swain & Wilson, managers.

Valentine Stang is our doctor of decrepit shoes.

Quite an extensive business is being done at the Malvern Carriage Factory, the names of purchasers are being weekly recorded. At the present writing it is Automobiles. Will it be in 1940, air ships instead?

~ source: History of Mills County 1881

~ transcribed by Cay Merryman


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