Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book
Stories of Early Nichols

Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, pages 118-120

The following information about Nichols and Pike Township as it was in 1879
taken from the Muscatine County History of that year.

         This town was so named by Benjamin F. Nichols in honor of his father, Samuel Nichols, who subscribed liberally for stock to the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railroad Company and donated to them the right of way through his land in consideration that they build at this point a depot on land also presented by him for that purpose.
         It is situated in the center of what was once known as Elephant Swamp.
         To speak more properly and be explicit, it is located in Section 15 of Pike Township on the line of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railroad and a branch thereof called the Muscatine & Western.
         The lots were surveyed by George Bumgardner, county surveyor, and the plat was filed for record 22 June 1871 by Benjamin F. Nichols, owner of the town site. Several small buildings were erected and some moved into the place prior to the recording of the town plat.
         The first building of any pretensions was constructed in 171 by Dr. S. H. Smith and used by him as a drug store and dwelling.
         The first house built on the survey was owned by William Schelpaper and rented to James Carney, who kept in it a general stock of goods. On the night of carnival, 1871, through the careless handling of a lamp near powder, the entire building was blown to atoms, though the inmates escaped uninjured.
         When the Muscatine & Western Railroad was finished to this point in 1873, the company laid out an addition to the town and called it the Railroad Addition.
         A commodious depot has been erected at the junction of the two railroads, and a good stock yard built by the B., C. R. & N. R. R.
         The post office was established at Nichols 14 October 1870, and Benjamin F. Nichols was appointed Postmaster, which office he still retains. Previous to this period, the office had been kept in Samuel Nicholsí house and was called Lacy; it was the first one in Pike Township and had been in the same family for over twenty years when the change of location and name was made.
         Today Nichols Station is a flourishing town of over three hundred inhabitants, doing an extensive country and large stock and grain shipping business. It can boast of several fine brick business blocks, a good school and four substantial church edifices. It also enjoys the reputation of being a well-regulated place in all respects, though it has never been incorporated.
         The surroundings consist of beautiful rolling prairie and rich bottom land, with soil as rich and fertile as any in Muscatine County. Just one-half mile east of town the little stream of Jordan meanders southeastward, emptying into Wapsinonoc Creek, which flows into the Cedar River.
         An elevator was built in 1872, and a flouring-mill in 1876 by Nichols & Bro. The business of the place is represented as follows: two general stores, two drug stores, one physician, one steam manufactory of wagons, pumps, churns and broom handles, one saw mill, two blacksmith shops, two shoemaker shops, two millinery establishments, one harness shop, one bakery, one meat market, two hotels and one livery stable.

         Nichols belongs to Pike Township School District No. 6. The present fine two-story brick schoolhouse was built in the summer of 1872. The lower story was occupied the following winter as a school, which was taught by Miss Mollie Billick. The graded system was introduced in the fall and winter of 1875-76 and has proven both satisfactory and successful. Since its introduction, both stories of the school building have been used.
         The present attendance averages seventy-four scholars. The present teachers are Franklin Gilbert and Mary E. Gilbert, the formerís wife.
         The first log schoolhouse in Pike Township was built in 1849, and it was taught by a Mr. Hart from Ohio.

         The Christian Church was organized as an independent society in the fall and winter of 1873-74. The present house of worship was erected in the summer and fall of 1875. Previous to this time the congregation worshiped in schoolhouses and were preached to by Rev. John Powell of Columbus City. The first resident minister was Rev. J. H. Painter. The Church is now without a pastor; its present membership is about forty.
         The German Evangelical Protestant Church was organized by Rev. K. F. Obermann in 1874 with the following heads of families as members: Nicholas Lentz, John Schomberg, Nicholas Scheuermann and others. The church building was erected in 1876 and is valued at $1,500. The congregation at present consists of twenty families. Connected with the Church is a flourishing Sunday School, with an average attendance of fifty. After two changes in the pastorate, Rev. Obermann has returned to the charge.
         The Roman Catholic Church was built in 1874 and was attended to by Rev. Father Nicholas Dugan of Wilton, until February 1877, since which time Rev. Father William Purcelle has been its resident Priest. It is a fine brick building, 32 x 50 feet and 25 feet high. It is one of the ornaments of the town of Nichols, as well as of religion. The present membership is 109. The Church property, including the Priestís residence, is valued at $4,350.
         The Methodist Protestant Church was organized in 1875 with the following original members, viz., William Vantuyl and wife, Miss Jennie Worden, Arnold Bliss and wife, Amos Ames and wife. The first Pastor was J. A. Bolton. The house of worship was built in 1875, under the direction of William Vantuyl, who contributed more than all others to the success of the enterprise. The church building cost $2,500. The congregation at this writing consists of thirty-five members. William Swain is the present Pastor. Connected with this church is large and interesting Sabbath school.

         Nichols Grove, No. 7, of the United Ancient Order of Druids, was instituted by dispensation 24 July 1876 and chartered 12 June 1877, with the following charter members: William Schelpaper, L. Kern, F. Hager, J. Eisman, A. Schmidt, William Ditrich, William Loeb, H. F. Clausen, William Bauer and C. Weisfulg. The first officers were J. Eisman, E. E.; H. F. Clausen, U. E.; William Schelpaper, Treasurer; F. Hager, Secretary. The present officers are William Schelpaper, E. E.; H. F. Clausen, U. E.; John Eisman, Secretary; L. Kern, Treasurer. This is a German Grove, wherefore the official positions are abbreviated according to the German acception. The present membership is eighteen. The Grove meets in Druid Hall every first and third Monday in each month.
         The Temperance Reform Club of Nichols was established 22 February 187, with about one hundred members. Its first officers were Benjamin F. Nichols, President; John Hooley, Secretary; M. Rummery, Treasurer. The present officers are Benjamin F. Nichols, President; Frank Ronimouse, Secretary; Sidney Mansfield, Treasurer. The present membership is about two hundred and forty. The Club holds its meetings in the Methodist Church.

         During the first four years the township did not increase in population; some moved away so that only four families remained.
         Gamaliel Olds, one of the earliest settlers, states that Rev. McVay organized a Methodist class in his (Oldsí) house in 1844, and he preached there the first year to a membership of eight. After the log schoolhouse was built in 1849, religious services of all denominations were held there.
         The present township officers are as follows: Samuel E. Walcott and Aaron Canott, Justices; A. J. Stafford and John Miller, Constables; J. B. Horton Assessor; James Ryan, Clerk; Benjamin Black, M. L. Coyner and A. Hiebing, Trustees.

Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, page 120

         Adams Station, on the Muscatine & Western Railroad, was founded by Elias Adams, son of one of the pioneers of Pike Township, and the plat recorded by him. The lots were surveyed by Hiram Palmer, Assistant Engineer of the B. & C. R. & M. Railroad, in July 1873. The first store was opened by Mr. Adams in 1873, in his residence, which was moved from his farm to the railroad rack.
         In July 1873 the post office was established at this point, with Mr. Adams as Postmaster, which office he still retains. This building is also used for a depot, with Elias Adams as Agent. The only other business in the town is a wagon makerís shop. One of the township district schools is located in the town.

The main line of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Minnesota passes through the western townships crossing the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad at West Liberty. The Muscatine Western Railroad, starting at Muscatine and running west, has been completed across the county, crossing the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Minnesota at Nichols, and has penetrated quite a distance in Johnson County.

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Page created January 23, 2011 by Lynn McCleary