Pottawattamie County, IAGenWeb Township Home HOME

Township Histories
History of Lewis 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

The earliest history of Lewis Township is identical with that of Kane, the latter for many years having included the former, and also Garner Township.

In 1875, Kane was subdivided, bringing the three to their present shape. The present boundary is north by city of Council Bluffs and Garner Township, east by Keg Creek Township, south by Mills County, and west by the Missouri River. It is the largest township in the county. The east half is high rolling prairie and breaking into steep bluffs from two hundred to two hundred and fifty feet high, where they meet the Missouri bottom and flat from there until it meets that stream. There is no richer land on earth. Even those steep bluffs are rich coil and will endure drought as well as the bottom lands, and they are well adapted to raising fruit, and especially grapes.

Some thirty years ago, the river took a notion to make a change in its course and proceeded to remove two or three farms to help fill the Gulf of Mexico, and in doing so unwittingly created a beautiful lake four miles south of Council Bluffs. This did not receive much notice for quite a number of years, when it was discovered that on the south side there was a sandy beach that for bathing purposes could not be excelled short of the sea shore. Mr. E. H. ODEL was one, if not the first, to make this discovery and steps were immediately taken to utilize it. Home-made boats were first constructed and temporary bath houses sprung up like mushrooms.

At first people flocked down in buggies, buses, carryalls and horseback. The next season a large pavilion was built on the north side and a track built and dummy trains put on, trees set out and steam launches put on the lake to take passengers to and from the beach. Each season the business increased, until at this writing it has become one of the most popular pleasure resorts away from the sea coasts. Elegant electric cars run every five minutes, a town has been built, boat, base ball and golf clubs formed, and in fact it has become a baby Coney Island, and on a pleasant Sunday, ten thousand is no unusual attendance.

This township is named in honor of three LEWIS brothers that settled here in an early day. The St. Joseph Railroad passes through this township going south, and the Wabash going southeast, leaving it on section 25 and passing the southwestern corner of Keg Creek township, enters Mills County. Although it is generally thought Lewis has but two railroads, it has in fact five, as the Rock Island, Milwaukee and Great Western in making the curve to enter the city pass through a few rods of it, but only enough to swear by.

The township officers are: F. G. KNOWLES, F. W. BECK and H. C. JENKINS, trustees; Peter RIEF and Wm. STEELE, justices of the peace; H. A. ELLERBECK, assessor, G. C. PLUMER, clerk and Julius SCHULTZ, constables. There are two churches, St. Paul's Evangelical on the southeast corner of section 26, and another at Dumfries station on the Wabash. According to the state census of 1905, there were four hundred and seventeen of school age in the township, with ample school room. The pay of teachers is, for first grade, $40, second grade, $35 per month. The board of education is as follows: H. A. ELLERBECK, president; W. C. VANPELT, secretary and Joseph NANSEL, treasurer.

Although Lake Manawa has become a very popular resort, it has exacted a pretty heavy toll in human life. In 1892, three young men were drowned by being swamped while crossing in a storm, and later the same year, a young man went down the toboggan slide into deep water and drowned before he could be rescued. Three men were drowned in April 1904, a young women in 1905, and six in 1906, by the breaking down of a wharf on the south side during a rush.

The close proximity to the city naturally brings all the trade of the township to that center. The most prominent feature of this township is the State School for the Deaf, of which more will be said later on.