Mention has already been made
of the division of Crescent township by which Hazel Dell was formed. It
is a full congressional township. It lies mostly on high rolling
upland, sloping easterly toward Mosquito and westerly towards Pigeon
Creeks. There are fine groves of timber in the ravines and the soil is
as good as any in the world. Most of the first settlers were Mormons,
but the larger part went on with the great movement to Utah. The first
officers of the new township were: J. P. BOULDEN and James OSBORN,
trustees. Nearly all the early history of this township is identical
with that of Crescent, but it has become famous as being the birthplace
of Indian Creek. This is probably the most active stream on earth of
its size. It rises in some springs near Hazel Dell Church, drains
twenty square miles before reaching the city, when it has to be spanned
by as many bridges. Engineers have grappled with it for forty years and
it seems to relish the fun. It has not been an unmixed evil though, for
it has been bringing down millions of yards of earth to fill the low
ground at the foot of the bluffs, without which the beautiful ground
where Bayliss Park, the courthouse, the library and much of the best
property in the city, would now be a morass like it is a mile either
way from these points. We will probably hear more of this stream in
connection with the city of Council Bluffs.
Hazel Dell ! What prettier name could be
found for a township? It, of itself, is suggestive of rural happiness.
It was fortunate in its first settlers, being as good people as could
be found anywhere. The VALLIERs, NIXONs, GREGGs, COOPERs, KINGs,
BARRETTs, Rev. COOPER, O'BRIEN, HALLs, BOULDENs, TRIPLETs, SPRINGERs,
OSBORNs, McGRUDERs, FROSTs, JENKINS and many more of the same sort; one
would think they might be exempt from most of the troubles with which
other communities are afflicted, but it seems that the evil one had
long ago invaded a much happier though smaller one, and so this
township, like most others in the county, must have its tragedies.
On the 26th of February 1878, in the
northwest corner of the township, the people were shocked by the
killing of David ROBERTS by Jonathan JONES. After a long and tedious
trial, JONES was acquitted on the plea of emotional insanity caused by
A long time previous to this, an affair was
pulled off that partook of the nature of melodrama. There was a "fine
old English gentleman" who was a widower, had a farm in one of the
beautiful dells, and a fine trotting horse named Charley, of which he
was very fond. He dressed well, was seventy, and still was not happy.
He longed for a companion, and he found one about half his age, and all
for a time went well. He was wont to extol her many virtues to his
friends in town when he met them. In fact, he found her superior to
either of his former wives (this was the third) and one fine morning he
started to go to look at some land at quite a distance, but promised to
return for supper; and she kissed him good-bye and put her arms around
Charley's glossy neck and kissed him.
Someone once said "Frailty, thy name is
woman!" When that old gentleman returned, he found his house a
desolation! The finest of the bedding, all of the silver, china and
glassware that had been his former wife's had disappeared as
effectually as if the earth had opened and swallowed them up. All his
efforts to locate her were fruitless, but after some weeks it was
reported she was half way to Salt Lake with a younger man and former
Another tragedy occurred more recently in
the extreme southeastern part of the township. It appeared that a store
at Weston had been robbed. Deputy Sheriff J. C. BAKER was investigating
the matter, and on questioning a young man named George MATHESON pretty
closely, he became indignant and shot BAKER. He was indicted and tried
for assault with intent to commit murder and found guilty, but appealed
and cause was sent back on error in ruling. On rehearing, he was
convicted of assault with intent to inflict great bodily injury. In a
civil action, Baker recovered a heavy judgment.
It seems but proper to make special mention
of old Mrs. NIXON, the Spartan mother long since deceased, that sent
three sons and three sons-in-law to the Union Army.
During the winter of 1855-56, an old
Settler, Mr. BARRETT, father of O. L. BARRETT, superintendent of the
county infirmary, became lost and was frozen to death, but his widow
conducted the farm and reared the family. At this time, the people of
Hazel Dell will compare favorably with those of any township in the
Its present officers are as follows:
Trustees, Hans HENNINGSON, R. M. HOUGH and Geo. T. FORD; clerk, Wm.
NIXON; justices of the peace, T. F. EMMERSON and R. T. HANSON;
assessor, S. D. HOUGH; constable, Harry SHRODER; board of education
president C. J. CHRISTOFFERSON; secretary, Wm. NIXON; treasurer, J. H.
GREGG. According to state census of 1905, there are three hundred and
eighty two of school age in the township, one hundred and ninety three
males and one hundred and eighty nine females in eight sub-districts.
This township is only touched by railroads
on the extreme southeast corner, where the Rock Island and Milwaukee
running parallel strike the village of Weston. This place has an
elevator, lumber yard, general store, one church (Catholic) and a
graded school. The teachers receive $40 and $35 respectively for first
and second grades.
Mr. Jacob HANSEN is entitled to special
mention, having served the public faithfully as Supervisor and later on
the joint commission of Harrison and Pottawattamie Counties to assess
the benefits to land owners by reason of the construction of several
ditches petitioned for and granted by the joint boards of said counties.