This work is
long since departed. May the memory of those who laid down their burdens
by the wayside ever be fragrant as the breath of summer
flowers, for their toils and sacrifices have made
O'Brien and Osceola Counties a
garden of sunshine
All life and achievement is evolution; present wisdom comes from past
experience, and present commercial prosperity has come only from past exertion and
suffering. The deeds and motives of the men that have gone before
have been instrumental in shaping the destinies of later communities and
states. The development of a new country was at once a task and a privilege. It required great courage, sacrifice and privation. Compare the present conditions of the people of O'Brien and Osceola counties, Iowa, with what
they were a half century ago. From a trackless wilderness and virgin
land, it has come to be a center of prosperity and civilization, with millions
of wealth, systems of railways, grand educational institutions, splendid industries and immense
agricultural productions. Can any thinking person
be insensible to the fascination of the study which discloses the aspirations
and efforts of the
early pioneers who so strongly laid the foundation upon
which has been reared the
magnificent prosperity of later days? To perpetuate the story of these people and to trace and record the social, political
progress of the community from its first inception is the function of the local historian. A sincere
purpose to preserve facts and personal
memoirs that are
deserving of perpetuation, and which unite the present to
past, is the motive for the present publication. A specially valuable and
interesting department is that one devoted to the sketches of representative
citizens of these counties whose records deserve
preservation because of their
worth, effort and accomplishment. The publishers desire to extend their
thanks to the gentlemen who have so faithfully labored to this end. Thanks
are also due to the citizens of O'Brien and Osceola counties for the uniform
kindness with which
they have regarded this undertaking, and for their
many services rendered in the gaining of necessary information.
In placing the "Past and Present of O'Brien and Osceola Counties, Iowa," before the citizens, the publishers can conscientiously claim that they have carried out the plan as outlined in the prospectus. Every biographical sketch in the work has been submitted to the party interested for correction, and therefore any error of fact, if there be any, is solely due to the person for whom the sketch was prepared. Confident that our effort to please will fully meet the approbation of the public, we are,
O'BRIEN COUNTY HISTORICAL INDEX
CHAPTER I‐THE BEGINNING 25
The Pioneer of O'Brien County‐Creative and Administrative Periods‐Naming of County‐William Smith O'Brien‐In the Beginning‐Court Record as
to Organization of the County‐Organization Election‐First General Election‐Bad Work in Organization and First Elections‐O'Brien County to the
Front‐Hannibal House Waterman, the First Citizen‐Winter Ox‐Team Trips
‐Indians in O'Brien
County‐Indian Outrages‐Courage of the Immigrants‐
First White Child‐
Proposal to Organize a County‐The Bosler Crowd‐Fort
Dodge Crowd‐Watermanœs Land Jumped‐First Actual Homestead Entry‐Frederick Feldman, "Old Dutch Fred."
CHAPTER II‐FIRST EVENTS 48
A Session of the First Boodle Board‐Division of the
Soldiers' Bounty Money‐First Things Done‐First Record Entries‐The
Old County Debt‐The Aftermath and the County Treasury‐Road Surveys
and Charges for Bridge Building‐Curious Swamp Land Contracts‐Bridge at
Expenses‐Swamp Land Swindle.
CHAPTER III‐THE EARLY SETTLERS 65
First Settlers a Desirable Class‐Their Origin‐Conditions and Customs of
the Early Settlers‐Prairie Land‐First Crops‐Hardships and Disadvantages
of the Pioneer Farmer‐Prairie Fires‐Foreign Population‐Population
CHAPTER IV‐THE UPBUILDING 76
Constitutional Debt Limitation‐
Taxpayers' Association‐Picnic‐Two Views
of the Debt Proposition‐Its Final Disposition‐Resumption of Cash Payments‐A Notable Meeting‐Tax Sale of 1880‐Rebonding of the County Debt.
CHAPTER V‐HOMESTEADS AND FREE LANDS 85
Squatter Lands‐Litigation Over the Overlapping Lands‐Granting Act of
Congress in Aid of Railroads‐Fight Between Railroads‐Milwaukee Railroad
Land‐Commencement of Real Squatter Possession‐Exciting Times‐Old
Settlers Become Factor‐Land Jumping‐Inconsistent Statutes‐Land Office
Trials at Des Moines‐Final Suit and Decree‐Evictions‐Homesteaders Not
Favorable to Squatters‐Sioux City Land Squatters‐Odd Incidents in Eviction Cases‐Squatters' Union‐A Unique Banquet‐List of Sioux City Land Squatters and Railroad Contract Men.
CHAPTER VI‐COUNTY GOVERNMENT 108
Administration of County Affairs‐County Auditor‐County Judges‐Archibald Murray‐Andrew J. Edwards‐The County Treasury‐Contested Election‐Second Period of Auditors and Treasurers‐County Treasury on a Banking Basis‐Charles A. Winterble and Other Auditors‐County Recorder's
Office‐County Surveyors‐Supervisors‐County Attorneys‐County Farm and
County Home Building‐Electric Light Plant‐Other County Improvements‐Large Problems.
CHAPTER VII‐COURT HOUSES OF O'BRIEN COUNTY 129
Old Log Court House‐Court Record Pertaining Thereto‐Court House of
1870‐Supervisors' Record‐Court House at Primghar in 1874‐Paine's Store‐
Present Court Couse‐The Public Square‐Jail History‐More on the First
CHAPTER VIII‐STORMS, PRAIRIE FIRES, GRASSHOPPERS, ETC. 139
Cyclone of June, 1882‐Cyclone of June, 1914‐Blizzards and Snow Banks‐
Blizzard of January, 1888‐Prairie Fires‐Towns in Danger‐Grasshoppers‐
The Plagues of 1S73-4-5‐Legislative Relief for the Stricken Settlers.
CHAPTER IX‐COUNTY SEAT CONTESTS 153
Contest in 1872 Between O'Brien and Primghar‐Sheldon vs. Primghar and
Sanborn vs. Primghar in 1879T‐he Sanborn Raid‐Contest Between Primghar and Sheldon in 1911‐Record of Supervisors‐List of Petitioners‐Legislative Amendment‐New Hub Hotel at Primghar.
CHAPTER X‐OLD SETTLERS' REUNION 169
First County-wide Reunion‐Decorations‐Reception of Visitors‐Great Parade‐O'Brien County Relics.
CHAPTER XI‐AGRICULTURE 177
A Prairie County‐Grass a Blessing to the Early Settlers‐Land the Basis of
Wealth‐Rivers and Streams‐Groves and Tree Planting‐Products of
O'Brien County Soil‐Their Variety‐Uniformity of the County‐Fruits‐Wild
Prairie Flowers‐Modern Farm Conveniences‐Development of Public Roads
‐Farmers' Meetings‐Farmers' Institutes‐Stock Sales‐No Minerals in the
County‐Large Ranches‐D. Edward Paullin‐Franklin Teabout‐John H.
Archer‐Chester W. Inman‐Jonathan A. Stocum‐Samuel J. Jordan.
CHAPTER XII‐EDUCATIONAL 194
Education One of the Earliest and Chief Thoughts of the People‐Schools of
the County‐Early School Houses‐Growth of Educational System‐Substantial Character of Present School Buildings and their Equipment‐Lecture Courses‐Teachers' Institutes‐Parochial and Church Schools‐County Superintendents‐Decline of Rural Schools.
CHAPTER XIII‐INDIAN OCCUPANCY 200
Prehistoric Races‐The Mound Builders‐Tribes Which Once Occupied
O'Brien County Soil‐Government Exploration‐Treaties with Indians‐
Military Forts‐Mistrust of Indians‐Black Hawk‐Outline of Treaties‐Incidents.
CHAPTER XIV‐REMINISCENCES 205
Recollections of Mrs. Roma Wheeler Woods‐Difficulties Encountered by
Newcomers‐Notable Astronomical Events‐"Dutch Fred"‐
Village of O'Brien‐Death of Fred Beach‐Attempts to Secure Land‐Faulty Deed Descriptions
Futile Attempt to Sell School Lands‐The Grange Movement‐Gen. N. B.
Baker Library‐Fine Spirit of the Early Pioneers‐1873 a Notable Year and
a Hard One for the Settlers‐"Library Parties"‐The Grasshopper Plague‐
The County Debt‐Remarkable Pioneer Women.
CHAPTER XV‐REMINISCENCES 222
Mrs. C. V. Van Epps' Story‐A Trip in a Prairie Schooner‐Many Surprises‐
Earliest Habitations‐Sod Houses‐Carroll Township‐Winter of 1872-3‐
Early Epidemics‐Dark Days‐First School House‐First Congregational
Church, Sheldon‐Railroad Land.
CHAPTER XVI‐BANKS AND BANKING 230
First Banking Enterprise in O'Brien County‐Primghar's Banks‐John R.
Pumphrey‐Ralph Hinman‐Sheldon Banks‐Banks at Sanborn‐Paullina
Banks‐Banks in Hartley‐Moneta‐Sutherland‐Archer‐Gaza‐Calumet‐
O'Brien County's Substantial Banking System‐Development of Land by Bankers‐Banking Statistics.
CHAPTER XVII‐THE COURTS 249
Two Courts of Record‐The District Court and Circuit Court‐Judicial Districts‐District Judges‐First Term of Court‐Some Early Judges‐Attorneys‐First Grand Jury‐Admission to Practice in Early Days‐First Jury Case‐Early Rules of Court Practice‐Early Circuit Judges‐A Judicial Joke‐Popular Clerk of Courts‐Sheriffs‐Clerks of Courts.
CHAPTER XVIII‐THE O'BRIEN COUNTY BAR 262
First Lawyer in O'Brien County‐Personal Mention of Some of the Early Attorneys‐Those Who Are Now Engaged in the Practice Here.
CHAPTER XIX‐LITIGATION IN O'BRIEN COUNTY 276
Much Probate Work, but Decrease in Other Litigation‐Big Questions in the
Early Days‐The Overlapping Land Suit‐Taxation Questions‐The Teabout
Failure‐Taxpayers' Association‐Tax Title Suits‐Israel Lash Litigation‐
Elizabeth Streeter‐Suits to Quiet Title‐Referee in Bankruptcy‐EstatesJustices' Courts.
CHAPTER XX‐THE PRESS 287
Value of Local Newspaper ‐First Paper in O'Brien County‐F. M. McCormack‐Brief Review of the Various Newspapers Which Have Existed Here and Which Have Contributed to the Development of the County.
CHAPTER XXI‐MEDICAL HISTORY OF O'BRIEN COUNTY 302
Antiquity of the Practice of Medicine‐Heroes Among the Pioneef Physicians
‐Modern Progress in the Practice of the Healing Art‐O'Brien County Hospitals‐The O'Brien County Medical Society‐List of Registered PhysiciansIgnorance and Superstition on the Part of the Laity Superseded by Intelligence and Common Sense.
CHAPTER XXII‐THE CHURCHES OF O'BRIEN COUNTY 311
Methodists First on the Ground‐Methodist Churches in the County‐A Sod
Church‐First Sermon Preached in the County‐Congregational Churches‐
The Friends Society‐Evangelical Churches‐German Evangelical Lutheran
Zion Churches‐Norwegian Lutheran Church‐Christian Reformed Qhurch‐
Evangelical Association‐Christian Churches‐Church of Christ, Scientist‐
Presbyterian Churches‐Reformed Church in North America‐German Evangelical Church of North America‐Catholic Church‐Other Religious Societies
‐Church Statistics‐Young Men's Christian Association.
CHAPTER XXIII‐LODGES OF THE COUNTY 346
Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, with Its Several Branches‐Independent
Order of Odd Fellows‐Knights of Pythias.
CHAPTER XXIV‐TOWNS AND TOWNSHIPS 354
Incorporated Towns‐City Government‐Names of Townships and Their Government‐Platting of Towns and Their Additions‐Floyd Township‐City of
Sheldon‐National Guard‐Sheldon District Fair‐Franklin Township‐Sanborn‐Lincoln Township‐Fiddle String Township‐Hartley Township‐Town
of Hartley‐Carroll Township‐"Pathfinder of O'Brien County"‐Archer‐
Summit Township‐Primghar‐Center Township‐Omega Township‐Moneta
‐Baker Township‐Dale Township‐Highland Township‐Gaza‐Grant
Township‐Caledonia Township‐Germantown‐Union Township‐Paullina‐
Liberty Township‐Calumet‐Waterman Township‐Sutherland.
CHAPTER XXV‐O'BRIEN COUNTY IN THE HUMOROUS 455
Eccentric Dr. Longshore‐"Pomp" McCormack's Jokes‐Wolf Scalp Joke‐
O'Brien County Solon‐A Revival in the Court Room‐The Judge Needed a
Sweat‐Joke on a Bank Cashier‐Superiority of Archer Over Omaha‐Master
Wirt Close's Oration.
CHAPTER XXVI‐MISCELLANEOUS 468
Farmers' Mutual Insurance Association‐Present Officials of O'Brien County
State Officials‐Distinguished Citizens of the County‐Official Vote, 1912‐
Population and Other Statistics‐County Expenditures‐Cemeteries‐The
Herd Law‐Early Relations With Cherokee County‐Abstracts of Title‐
Early Incidents‐The Hay Twister‐O'Brien County Agricultural Society‐
County Sealer of Weights and Measures‐Lost Lumber‐Highest Point in
Iowa‐Congressmen‐Prehistoric Fortifications and Burial Mounds‐Curious
Incident‐Prairie Chickens‐other Game‐John McCormack‐Reminiscent Interview of B. F. McCormack‐Record of Old Soldiers Who Have Lived in
CHAPTER XXVII‐THE SCRUB POET 506
A Little Spice and Many Local Hits‐Townships of O'Brien County‐Charge
of the Grasshopper Brigade‐Tenting. Camping. Farming on the Old Prairie
Ground‐First Starts of Towns and Railroads‐That Martyred Wagon‐The
County Seat‐John Ker, Squatter‐The Pioneer Is Going, Gone‐An Agricultural County‐Marching to Victory‐Let the People Vote‐"Leedle Yoh"‐When the Squatter Squatted His Squat, etc.
OSCEOLA COUNTY HISTORICAL INDEX
CHAPTER I‐GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY 535
Original Prairie Land‐Scarcity of Timber‐Streams‐Hills‐Lakes‐Character of Soil‐
Survey by Jefferson Davis, and His Report on Soil‐Organization
of Osceola Township‐Its Name‐Anxiety of Early Settlers to Get in Ahead
of Railroads‐Sibley, the First Town Site Laid Out‐Official Record of
County Organization‐First Tax Levy‐First Flection and County OfficersFirst County Nominating Convention‐Osceola County Cursed by Grafters and Looters‐Grand Jury Indictments‐An Unjust Debt‐Roster of County Officials‐Auditors‐Treasurers‐Recorders‐Clerks of Courts‐SheriffsS‐uperintendents of Schools‐Surveyors‐Coroners‐County Attorneys‐Supervisors‐First Term of Court and First Grand Jury‐First Court House‐Finances‐Increase in Land Values‐Appraisement of Public Utilities.
CHAPTER II‐TOWNSHIPS OF OSCEOLA TOWNSHIP 544
Allison Township‐First Officers‐First Settlers in the Various Sections of
the Township‐Baker Township‐Land Speculators‐Early Settlers‐Henry
Dunkelmann's Experience‐East Holman Township‐Its Pioneers‐Fairview
Township‐Magnificent Natural Features‐Names of Early Settlers‐First
Township Officers‐Present Officers‐Gilman Township‐Early Settlers‐
Goewey Township‐Those Who First Came Here‐Wealth in Legitimate Farming‐Narrow Escape From Death in a Blizzard‐Harrison Township‐Soil of Inexhaustible Richness‐Mennonites‐May City‐Horton Township and Its Pioneer Settlers‐Immigration of 1883-5‐Ocheyedan Township‐The Homesteaders‐Hardships of Joseph P. Tower‐Viola Township‐First Settlers‐Recent Arrivals‐Public Schools and Officers‐West Holman TownshipHow the Various Sections were Settled‐Misfortunes of J. B. Jenney‐Wilson Township‐Early Homesteaders‐Schools.
CHAPTER III‐CITIES AND TOWNS 593
Sibley, the First Town in Osceola County‐Early Business Interests‐Present Business Concerns and Their Location‐Municipal Items‐Present CityOfficers‐Ashton‐First Called St. Gilman&dashLocation‐First Buildings and Business Interests‐Present Enterprises‐City Officials‐Harris‐Town Organization‐Present Business Interests‐City Officials‐Ocheyedan‐Its Beginning‐Public Utilities‐Business Directory‐City Officers‐Cloverdale‐Allendorf‐Melvin‐A Thriving Little City‐Principal Business Interests.
CHAPTER IV‐RELIGIOUS HISTORY OF OSCEOLA COUNTY 606
First Methodist Episcopal Church of Sibley‐First Preaching Service in the
County‐Melvin M. E. Church‐Methodist Churches at Ashton, Harris and
Ocheyedan‐St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church at Ocheyedan‐Congregational Church at Sibley‐German Lutheran Church, Sibley‐Ocheyedan
Congregational Church‐First German Presbyterian Church, Sibley‐First
Baptist Church, Sibley‐Evangelical Lutheran Church of Horton Township‐
German Lutheran Church of Viola Township‐Hope German Presbyterian
Church‐Catholic Church at Ashton‐St. Andrew's Catholic Church at Sibley.
CHAPTER V‐MEDICAL HISTORY OF OSCEOLA COUNTY 628
Dr. H. Neill's Interesting Review of the History of Medicine in the County‐
Many Old Soldiers Among the Early Settlers‐Personal Mention of Some of
the Early Practitioners‐A Record of Many Interesting Surgical Cases and
Other Ailments‐A Young Woman's Heroism‐Epidemic of Diphtheria‐
Autobiography of Doctor Neill‐Some Curious and Unusual Incidents in His Long
Practice Here‐A Human Pincushion.
CHAPTER VI‐THE LEGAL FRATERNITY 647
First Attorneys in Osceola County‐Personal Mention of Some Early Lawyers‐
Men of High Character and Eminent Ability.
CHAPTER VII‐MILITARY HISTORY 652
Many Early Settlers Veterans of the Civil War‐L. G. Ireland Post, Grand
Army of the Republic‐List of Old Soldiers in Osceola County.
CHAPTER VIII‐EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS 660
The Johnson Murder‐The Shooting of George Groen‐The Freezing of Baker
end Jenkins‐Death of Edward Larrahty by Freezing‐The Freezing of
Doctor Hall‐Fred Knaggs‐Accidental Death of C. D. Wilbern‐
Peter DeBloom Killed by Train‐Herman Fry Killed by Falling TreeA‐Accidental Death of Edward Larrahty.
CHAPTER IX‐MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS OF INTEREST 670
Educational History‐Schools in the Various Townships‐Value of School
Froperty‐First Things of Osceola County‐The Iowa Land Company, Lim.,
of London, Enghnd‐The Fuel Question in Early Days‐Hay Twisters‐Early
Planting of Forest Trees and the Beneficent Results‐Transportation‐
Prairie Schooners‐Advent of the Railroads‐The Grasshopper Scourge‐
Interesting Agricultural Facts‐Pioneer Letters‐A Marvelous Change Since
Pioneer Days‐Early Hardships and Discomforts‐Ode to Osceola.
VOLUME 2 BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX
Pages 715-810 Pages 810-905 Pages 906-1015 Pages 1016-1102 Pages 1103-1214 Pages 1215-1319