Town of Milford

1881 History of Montgomery County, Iowa

The first mill was built here in 1856, by Smith & Bell, for the purpose of sawing lumber. Mr. S. M. Smith says he had to go to Adair county for lumber to make the flume for this mill. He also had to haul corn from Missouri the first winter, to feed his family and stock, and had to pay $1 per bushel for it. The next year he put in a run of burs which lasted till he built his new mill, in 1873-4; the new one cost $15,000. This new mill is 30x44 feet, and three stories above the basement. Mr. Smith planned and superintended the work himself, but C. W. Spear was the head mill-wright. This mill has a 16-foot head of water and three Lefler turbine wheels, which drive two run of burs and all the machinery for making "new process" flour, besides running the saw mill also. Connected with the mill are facilities for feeding five hundred head of cattle.

Thomas Donaho built the first house where the town of Milford is located, in 1857, a year before the town was laid out.

The town plat of Milford was laid out June 29, 1858, by Thomas Donaho, and was bought by Samuel M. Smith, August 15, 1859, who laid out some more lots, known as Smith's addition. Isadore Plaquett and E. E. Donaho have also laid out additions to the original town plat.

Milford School

The Milford school house was built in 1876, at a cost of $4500. It is a brick structure, 30x40 feet, two stories high, with mansard roof, and belfry. The school grounds comprise a plot of two acres adjoining the village plat. The school opened with 108 pupils; and J. G. Andrews and D. N. Holmes as teachers.

F. M. Sillik taught in Milford six terms; then a Mr. Thomason taught one term; then Mr. Appleby one term; then A. J. Bryant one term; then the present teacher, J. C. Bryant, who is now teaching his third term, assisted by Miss Laura E. Smith. The higher department now has fifteen male and fifteen female pupils; the common branches have twenty males and twenty-three females. The schools are in good condition. [This is in January, 1881.]

Grant Post Office

The name of the town is Milford, but the name of the post office is Grant, and it has a daily mail from Elliott, nine miles distant, which is the nearest railroad station. As there is a Grant township in another part of Montgomery county, and the post office of Grant in the town of Milford, in Douglas township, it makes an awkward confusion of names hard to keep track of.

Civil Organizations


The Milford Methodist Episcopal Church was organized during the winter of 1856; the original members were, Mr. And Mrs. Wm. Stipe, David Stipe, Allen Donaho and family, Samuel McNeely and family, Wm. Reed and family, Reed Donaho and wife. Their frame church was built in August, 1874, and cost $2,700. It was dedicated March 14, 1875, by Rev. A. J. Andrews. Their successive pastors have been Revs. Mahone, Farlow, Hobert, Jeremiah T. Howe, Oliver Williams, Robert Thornberg. There is a good parsonage, worth $800. Present membership, 70 The Sunday school has about 60 scholars, with Jeremiah Warfield as superintendent. Services used to be held in Wm. Stipe's house, but the first sermons were preached in Allen Donaho's house, where the first class was organized.


Centennial Lodge No. 373, A. F. & A. M., was organized in 1876, by John W. Patterson, Past J. G. W. The charter members were A. H. Smith, J. F. Moates, H. S. Lott, T. D. Shafer, S. N. Main, W. Patterson, J. C. Patterson, Jacob McCully, Isaac Coon, J. B. Hall. The first officers were A. H. Smith, W. M., J. F. Moates, S. W., H. S. Lott, J. W., S. N. Main, Secretary, T. D. Shafer, Treasurer. The number of members at this time is thirty-three; the present officers are, Henry Howard, W. M., J. F. Moates, S. W., J. Patterson, J. W., Wm. Focht, Treasurer, James Scott, Secretary.

Memorial - Bro. A. H. Smith, the first master of the lodge, held the office continuously until 1880. He was noted as being one of the brightest and best masters in the State. He conducted the lodge from ten members up to its present prosperous and harmonious condition. The work of the lodge was highly praised by the Grand Senior Warden of the State, and to him is due the honor of bringing it to a high degree of proficiency. His photograph, taken in full regalia, ornaments the walls of the lodge room; and in the archives of masonry his virtues are on perpetual record.

Farmers' Alliance

Mayflower Farmers' Alliance, No. 33, organized January 21, 1881, by J. F. Moates. The original or charter members were, J. F. Moates, R. J. Arnold, W. S. Focht, W. J. Moates, H. E. Maybon, J. H. Cantrell, Melvin Focht, James Humphries, Wm. Greenway, Hattie Focht, Sarah Cowen, Louisa Moates. The first officers elected were, H. E. Maybon, president; W. S. Focht, vice-president; J. F. Moates, secretary; W. J. Moates, treasurer; and they are the present officers. At date of the report furnished for this history, the society had fourteen members. They meet in the Mayflower school-house every Tuesday evening. It was the first society of the kind organized in Montgomery county.

Milford Band

Organized in 1876, by I. J. Prichard. The band now consists of , John Schuler, leader and 1st e-flat cornet; William Jarvis, 2nd e-flat; Espy Miller, solo-alto; Charles Shields, 1st alto; William Smith, 2nd alto; Mr. Shields, 1st tenor; Mr. Kritesberg, 2nd tenor; David Westfall, baritone; Elmer Smith, tuba; Mr. Brown, bass drum; W. Douglass, snare drum.

Morton's Mills

Mr. S. Morton built his first mill her in 1863-64, on section 33, in Douglas township; but there had been a saw-mill here before. He put in one run of burs and the other necessary mill machinery, at a cost of $1,800; and in September, 1875, there came a flood and washed it all out. In 1876 he put up a frame mill three stories above basement, 30x40 feet; one run of burs and all accompanying machinery, driven by Leffel's patent turbine wheel. The whole cost from $5,000 to $6,000.

Early Settlement Notes

Aaron Patterson says he built the first cabin on Seven-mile creek (located on section 20). The creek was so named because it was seven miles from the old crossing to the Mormon encampment in Indian town; and Sixteen mile creek was named in the same way. They come together in section 33, and form the West Nodawa river. [For the origin, meaning and proper spelling of Nodawa, see chapter on Schools, Teachers' Institutes, etc.] Wm. Stipe, Benjamin Archer and Thos. Donaho were the only settlers here when Mr. Stipe came.

Wm. Stipe came here from Virginia, March 3, 1853, and settled on section 9; Benjamin Archer came the next year, from Clay county, Indiana, and settled on section 16, where he died in 18--, but his wife, Mrs. Sarah Archer, still lives on the old place. Mrs. Archer did the first weaving in the settlement.

The first boy born in Douglas township was Orlando S. Donaho, born September 28, 1855, son of Thomas and Electa Donaho. The first girl was Sarah, daughter of Aaron and Nancy Patterson, born October 4, 1855. For other important incidents of early settlement, see the general chapters on "First Marriages," "Leading Criminal Cases," "Early Scenes, Incidents and Anecdotes," "Pioneer Settlement," etc.

Recent Incidents

In the spring of 1879 Wallace McCullough killed himself by cutting an artery in his arm. He went hunting one day, and was found next morning leaning over the manger in the stable, where he had bled to death.

Mr. F. Bean has a fine, healthy, well-formed calf, except that it has only three legs. It seems to get along as well as the rest. All right; now let Montgomery county have the honor of starting a new breed of cattle - a three-legged breed. It is a good invention.


Mr. F. Bean gives as the result of his experience with apple trees in Douglas township, that the hardiest and best for summer are: Princess Harvest, Early Strawberry and Washington Sweet. Best for fall: Fall Strawberry, Dominie and Milam. Best for winter: Geniten, White Winter Pearmain and Jonathan. Best for general use: Wagener and Fall Pearmain.

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