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
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
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
The first Fourth of July celebration
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
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
There was no more loyal community
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
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
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,
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,