The petition for organizing this township was signed by W. F. TRAVER
and one hundred sixty other legal voters, and, after a full hearing, it
was ordered that the township should comprise congressional township
76; range 39.
The first election was held at what is known
as the ACKER schoolhouse on the 8th of October 1878, and one hundred
and twenty-six votes were cast. The elected officers were: Judges, W.
C. BARTON, James LIVINGSTON and H. C. HOUGH; clerks, A. M. BATTELLE and
W. H. BENJAMIN. The trustees chosen were: W. C. BARTON, S. ARMSTRONG,
and S. D. ACKER; clerk, R. M. WHITE; assessor, R. D. BALLARD.
Among the oldest settlers was A. M. BATTELLE
who came in 1855, when he crossed the state from Keokuk with a wagon,
taking two weeks to make the trip. His household goods were shipped by
river from Wheeling, W.Va., around by St. Louis to Council Bluffs. The
road from Keokuk led through Ottumwa, Eddyville, and Afton. Afton had
been located, but not a house had been built. He found three almost
impassable sloughs about ten miles south of Lewis and persuaded a man
who was breaking prairie to help him. He had to carry his wife and
children across, as it was all the oxen could do to get the wagon
through. Winter set in early and snow fell to a great depth, and for
weeks settlers were compelled to live on hominy and venison, of which
latter there was plenty as deer were easy to capture, owing to the deep
At last, an old trader went with two yoke of
oxen to Council Bluffs for food for the settlement, and was two weeks
on the trip. He got stalled in a drift within two miles of home, but
settlers helped him and he arrived safely, and sold his flour for $6
per hundred. No mail could be had nearer than the Bluffs.
Joseph HEADLEY, another old settler, was
born in Pennsylvania in 1826, came to Iowa in 1841, and settled within
the present limits of Valley township in 1852. He came in a wagon with
his wife and made a log cabin his first home. His nearest milling point
was Glenwood, Mills County, forty miles away. The first winter or two
were severe. Wages were but fifty cents per day and corn $3 per bushel,
the few settlers lived mostly on corn bread and game, and when they did
raise what and market it, after hauling it forty miles, they were
compelled to sell it for fifty cents per bushel.
The religious matters of the township have
been liberally provided for. The Knox Presbyterian Church was organized
March 23, 1873, by Rev. N. C. ROBINSON, with eight original members
consisting of ROBINSON and wife, Thomas DAAL and wife, James SERVICE
and wife, Mary RAY and Sarah BIRNEY. The first pastor was the Rev.
Andrew HERRON of Atlantic. New Hope Baptist Church was constituted in
1875 by the Rev. E. BIRCH, who was the first pastor. There were
thirteen members. Many members having moved away, the church was
abandoned in 1879. The United Brethren Church was organized by Rev. Mr.
ADAMS in 1875. The M. P. Church of Valley Township was organized in
1879 by Rev. B. F. POORMAN. The society or order of A.H.T.A. was
represented by Lodge No. 95 and constituted in the spring of 1879. H.
COOK was the worthy president; Emerson SMITH, secretary, and Joseph
The Carson branch of the Rock Island
Railroad was completed and put in operation in the summer of 1880. The
same summer F. H. HANCOCK, of Davenport, who owned the land now
constituting the townsite, laid out the town. Samuel ARMSTRONG built
the first house, beginning it in October 1880, and C. W. NEWMAN opened
a coal yard about the same date, and near that time he established a
blacksmith shop. The first store was erected by B. F. STEVENSON, in the
grocery business, but it was soon transferred to E. KINNEY & Co. F.
H. HANCOCK began buying grain in December 1880, and in two years bought
and shipped 325,000 bushels of corn. His elevator was finished in June,
with a capacity of 25,000 bushels.
The first lumber sold was by SEIFFERT &
WIESE to W. H. BENJAMIN, June 3, 1881, the first day of opening their
yard. G. DEIDRICH, mayor of Avoca, started a general store in October
1881. BATTELLE & BAVAN opened a saloon and also engaged in buying
hogs. WHISMAND & ARCHER opened a general store. The ANDERSON Bros.
Opened a saloon and restaurant, and A. A. ANDERSON opened a meat
market, and Dr. C. HARDMAN and Brother a drug store, and Samuel
ARMSTRONG opened a hotel. W. H. PATTERSON opened a law office, W. S.
WILLIAMS was postmaster; I. G. CARTER, constable; Henry CARTER,
drayman; J. REED, carpenter; Paul REED and Ira COOK, plasterers. The
town at that time was over one hundred persons.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized
in 1874 but was known as the Valley Church. The pastor was Rev. William
ARMSTRONG. It had seven original members, I. G. CARTER and wife, W. H.
CLEMENTS and wife, Mrs. Martha REED, Mrs. Ira COOK, and Mrs. Andrew
CARRIER. They had also a Sunday school of which W. W. WHIPPLE was
Valley Lodge No. 439, I.O.O.F. was
instituted December 9, 1881. The first officers were Samuel BELL, N.G.;
A. H. WHITTAKER, V.G.; W. S. WILLIAMS, permanent secretary; Fairfield
THAYER, recording secretary, and William CONVERSE, treasurer.
At the present time, the town of Hancock has
three hundred inhabitants. It has two elevators, the Des Moines, with
J. C. LAKE, manager, and the South Branch, with W. R. STEVENSON,
manager; three general stores, one hardware and implement store, one
furniture and one drug store, one hotel, one livery stable, one bank,
two blacksmith and machine shops, two churches, Methodist and
Presbyterian, graded school with principal and two assistants, one
harness shop, one jewelry store, barber shop, one machine shop, one
meat market that does its own killing, one opera house, two lumber
yards, one cement block works, and one cannery. The Odd Fellows and
Modern Woodmen each have a lodge.