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Township Histories
History of Center Township
 Townships  Formed
  Belknap 1872
Boomer 1860
Carson 1882
Center 1860
Crescent 1857
Garner 1877
Grove 1858
Hardin 1870
Hazel Dell 1872
James 1860
Kane 1853
Keg Creek 1874
Knox 1857
Layton 1873
Lewis 1878
Lincoln 1875
Macedonia 1855
Minden 1877
Neola 1872
Norwalk 1872
Pleasant 1873
Rockford 1855
Silver Creek 1860
Valley 1879
Washington 1873
Waveland 1873
Wright 1872
York 1861

Center is a full congressional township, bounded on the north by Valley, east by Wright, south by Grove and west by Belknap and Carson townships. The main streams are Second, or Graybill Creek, and Jordan. The earliest settlers who came were Joshua C. Layton, who arrived April 2, 1852; Reuben Maines came in 1855; Joseph Layton, Jacob Rust, and Joseph Darnell in 1854; Louis Huff, Benjamin Palmer, Charles S. Robinson, Thomas Ephraim, and Wm. McKee in 1856. Joshua C., or Captain Layton, as his friends called him, was born in Clark County, Ohio, August 27, 1807.

The first justice of the peace in Center township was Jacob Rust. The first birth was in the family of Joseph Darnell and his wife, and the child died. The first marriage was between James Morris and Lavinia Layton, daughter of Joshua C. Layton, on the first day of July 1856. Mr. Layton was also the first assessor and made the assessment of the township in three days. The first school was taught in a log cabin in the northeast quarter of section 7. This was in the winter of 1858-59 and taught by Martin Luther Ingoldsby.

The first mill established in the township was on Jordan Creek for grinding corn. It was simply a large coffee mill with a sack attached to receive the meal. Its capacity was about one bushel per day. It was run by a Mormon named Jordan, from whom the creek derived its name. In 1856, three brothers named McKee brought a portable sawmill into the settlement and afterward sold it to Joseph Layton, and Joseph Darnell, who moved and set it up near the Botna bridge at Big Grove and while in use, the boiler burst and totally destroyed it.

The first Fourth of July celebration ever held in this vicinity was in 1856 at a paper town laid out on the dividing line between Center and Valley Townships and named Iola. This was on the faith of a railroad being built through here. The people came from all around and had a basket picnic, but the railroad failed to come that way and the three houses constituting the town were moved and Iola became a memory.

In 1861 a military organization was effected and called the Home Guards, and J. C. Layton was made its Captain. Its first duty was to go under General dodge to the southern border to repel a threatened invasion of Iowa by the Missouri rebels, but on arriving at the border, they found the frontier already prepared for defense by volunteers from the border counties, and accordingly returned to Council Bluffs; but were soon called upon to go to Sioux City, as the Indians were becoming troublesome on the northern frontier. But, after remaining there with a detachment of infantry and a battery of artillery and the Indians becoming quiet, the alarm subsided and the expedition again returned to the Bluffs and were disbanded.

There was no more loyal community during the time that tried men's souls than that of Center township, of which Mr. Layton was an acknowledged leader, and in recognition of which a township has been named in his honor. The people of this township have continued ever since to maintain their character as a progressive, upright and industrious community, and while it has no town of its own, its interests seem identical with those of its next neighbor, Belknap.

There are many names of the old pioneers that should be remembered, among which are Jacob Rust, Joseph Darnell, Louis Huff, Benjamin Palmer, and the noble women who braved the hardships and privations that have resulted in transforming an uninhabited waste to one of the fairest spots on earth.

The affairs of the township at present time are entrusted to the following named officers: Trustees, G. W. Gage, T. R. Strong and W. Storts; clerk, George H. Nash; assessor, Paul Beezley; justices of the peace Arthur Putnam; constable Ashur Heckman. The following named persons constitute the school board: President, J. A. Goehring; secretary, F. D. Gould; treasurer, T. R. Strong.

According to the state census of 1905, there were two hundred and eighteen persons of school age, of which one hundred and eight were males and one hundred and ten were females. Compensation of teachers is $40 and $35 for the first and second class, respectively.