Mills County, Iowa

Historical Newspapers

The Malvern Leader
May 15, 1884

A Little History on Mills County, Iowa
Written for The Leader, by W. H. Taft
Contributed by Walter Farwell, Fremont County Historian
Number VII. (These numbers regularly appeared in this paper from April 3, 1884 through September 4, 1884.)

This highway was called the "State Road" and was the main thoroughfare from Glenwood eastward. After crossing the Nishna it followed the valley northward to Indian Creek grove, from whence it pursued the most favorable route to the next, Frankfort, the county seat of Montgomery county.

A tri-weekly stage or hack line was established on this route in 1856 to carry the mails and passengers between Ottumwa and Glenwood, touching at the different county seats. The road was at that time varied to accommodate a postoffice at the new town of Fayette (afterward named Loudon,) and was then placed on the route by the Fellon hill.

From White Cloud, (laid out in 1855,) it was also changed to run directly east, on the township lines, to a new Montgomery county town called Red Oak Junction, now the important city of Red Oak. As the travel through this region increased, daily mails replaced the tri-weekly service and four-horse coaches were substituted for the hacks, but as the railroad progressed westward, the staging business became of less importance, the route gradullay shortened and in December 1869, the Western Stage Company's wheels rolled for the last time through Mills county, the last mail bag was tenderly handed from the boot to Postmaster Coolidge, the last regretful passenger was politely aided to dismount at the Ward House, and the last accommodating driver was turned loose, to repent of his profanity and to meditate on the instability of stables, while seeking a position as expert baggage smasher on the iron horse coaches. Superintendent Tracy then gathered up the company's outfit and shipped it to the seaports of Idaho and Montana, there to commence a new career amid mountains, gulches and road agents.


The whole territory extending from two miles west of the Nishnabotna to the Missouri, appears to have been known as Rawles township and was so named after Joseph Rawles, who came from Missouri in the year 1847. This old settler subsequently moved to a farm on Keg creek near Glenwood, which he again left to go to California, where he continued to prosper for a number of years till his death.

That beautiful valley a part of which is embraced within the east line of the township and is now occupied by Whitfield, Aistrope and Davis, was then the property of the Dunagans and E. Witt. Dr. Wm. Barrett was also there and farther south was Chas. Kesterson.

Mount Tabor was the name of the town that had been planted just over the line in Fremont county by a colony from Oberlin, Ohio, which had at its first coming up the Missouri, located on the bottom, but finding the land too wet had moved eastward to the high plateau which overlooks the Nishnabotna on the east and the Missouri bluffs on the west.On this elevation, and extending northward from the town were located Townshend, Gardner, Jones, J. Munsinger and Gaston; farther north were U. Williams, Boyds, Terryberry, Rains and Utterback.

Westward, where the hills become less sloping and more abrupt, and timber fills the hollows and extends upon the uplands were the homes of Estes, A. Williams Wolf, McPherons, Blair, Creech, Burger and Wiles.

Still westward and within the boundaries of present Lyons township, among the Waubonsie hills, and at the foot of the bluffs, on the smooth bottom land stretching with a gradual slope toward the river, sheltered on the east by the precipitous cliffs through whose deep ravines came the musical flow of water from gurgling springs, and whose ample "pockets" disclosed romantic sites for cosy homes, were to be found the Lamberts Kerns, Reed, Buckinghams, Folden, Shepherdson, Dean, Troth, Lampson, Cutler and Haynie.

In 1857 the township of Lyons was organized, and was given all the territory embraced in congressional township 71 Range 43. The west side is fractional and deficient in about three sections, resultant from the course of the Missouri river. While there are several large farms in the township chiefly on the bottom, for instance, John Haynie's, W. E. Dean's, A.R. & J.D. Wright's and Buckingham's, it contains as many land owners, for its size, as any township in the county. This occurs from the large body of timber in the eastern portion being divided into small lots and partitioned among a multitude of proprietors.

Fortunately, the township has developed an unequaled civil engineer, who being " to the manor born", can tread his native heath with confidence, where in the maze of lofty pinnacles and abyssmal gorges, others would be irretrievably lost, and who by the aid of his staff and compass can unravel the tangled lines of boundaries, decipher the testimony of witness trees and mounds, and topographically depict the superfices of each owner's area, however parabolically formed, serrated or conical, it may be. We are happy to record that this skillful scientist, who has already gained high honors in his own country, is not only a native of Mills county, but is also the son of one of her foremost pioneers, who has himself reflected luster on her history by worthily filling official positions in township and county. William E. Dean, the pioneer alluded to is a native of Vermont and came to this county as early as 1849. He located on the land which he still owns, and which is acknowledged to be one of the most admirable farms in the county. As the first Drainage Commissioner, he was well known by all the early residents of the land bordering on the streams and the thirty-five years that have elapsed since his coming hither, seem not to have abated his joviality, nor renderd him less alert as a progressive farmer and enterprising citizen.

His son, Seth Dean ( a three year old stripling at the period of our history), has been four times elected County Surveyor, and it is safe to predict that he will continue to be chosen to that position until a larger field opens, in which, as a mathematical expert of versed scion, he may find a broader plane whereon to rectangulate his meanderings, irradiate the homologous chords of well-ranked logarithms, bisect the acre of anarchy, and like a true telescopic seer, predicate the perimeter of the prismoidal parallelo-pipedon.

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