Pottawattamie County, IAGenWeb Township Home HOME

Township Histories
History of Wright 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

This township, situated in the eastern part of the county, was organized on the 14th of October, 1873, by an order of the Board of Supervisors.  It comprises Congressional Township No. 75, Range 38.  It is drained by Walnut Creek flowing through its center.  The greater portion of the native timber found in the township, of which there is considerable, is found on the East Nishnabotna (River), in the southeast part of the township.  The land otherwise is rolling prairie and exceedingly fertile, the soil being the loam of the bluff formation, which stretches from the east bank of the Missouri River to Cass County.

The first house built was by a man named Campbell, whose Christian name has been forgotten by the oldest settlers.  He had a wife and two daughters, and his house constituted the only stopping place for a long journey for many years, on the road to Wheeler's Grove.  Nothing is now definitely known as to what became of this family, but the general impression was that they removed to Missouri.  The Campbells were simply "squatters," and located in 1852  at the point where the old State road crossed Walnut Creek.  The first death was that of a child in that family.  It was quite awhile before the township began to settle up, on account of its isolation from a navigable stream and from railroads.  The first marriage noted was that of Henry Shank and Sophronia Dean, in April, 1858.  The first birth of which any note is made was that of Jesse Van Riper, now Mrs. Wright, May 22, 1858.  Levi Mills erected a house for a tavern on the northwest quarter of Section 22, and this was afterward kept by Mr. Whipple as a station house for the accommodation of the Western Stage Company, on their route from Des Moines to Council Bluffs.  It is now the house of Mrs. Baxter.  To the west of Whipple Station, J. B. Deloy established a small store, and a post office was also authorized at the same point, known as Whipple.  The latter was constituted in 1876.  M. H. Elliott is the present owner of the property.  Alexander Evans bought a claim of land and the improvements, such as they were, in 1855, from Granville Pierson, and thus became the second settler in the township.  Pierson removed to Missouri in 1857, having located the claim sold to Evans in 1854.  In 1856, the weather was intensely cold, and Evans killed in the neighborhood of 100 deer in the timber and on the prairie.  Feed for them was exceedingly scarce.  Of the old settlers who came in 1855 were Amos West, Edward Dean and Charles Fenner; in 1856, William Van Riper and Samuel Place, and in 1857 L. A. Burnham.  As already stated, Levi Mills, Alexander Evans and Campbell came at earlier dates, but none earlier than 1852.  Samuel Place settled on Section 36.  He enlisted in the Union army during the civil war, and died in the service, leaving no heirs or representatives in the county, so far as known.  Levi Mills was a native of Ohio, and was by vocation a hotel-keeper when he came into the county.  The house he built here was of native timber, and the shingles were split.  He went to California some time before 1860, where he died, leaving no relatives in this county.

Amos West was born in Bristol County, Mass., January 31, 1784, and died in Wright Township April 30, 1880.  He lived until manhood at his birthplace, and was married to Avis Hestor in 1808, who was born January 30, 1788.   The emigrated to Rhode Island in 1825, and in Natick in the latter State, raise a large family.  The latter numbered thirteen children, of whom five are still living. Mr. West came to Pottawattamie, with his wife and four daughters, married, as follows:  Edward and Mary Ann Dean, Cornelius Soper and Avis West; Charles and Martha Fenner and William and Betsey Van Riper.  Edward Dean was born in Bristol County, Mass., in 1810.  He removed, at the age of seventeen to Central Falls, R. I., where he was employed in a cotton factory for twenty-five years, when he came to Iowa, as a member of the West family, haivng married one of the daughters of Amos West in 1840.  He located in Section 35 of Wright Township.  He has had five children, two of whom, Warren and William, are residents of the Township.  His daughter Sophronia, that was married in 1858, to H. C. Shank.  Charles and Martha Fenner also located on Section 35.  Charles Fenner and William Van Riper, sons-in-law of Amos West, went to California in 1859.  Fenner came back, went to Rhode Island, and remaining there two years, returned to Iowa, and has made this his home ever since.  He now lives at Griswold, Cass County, a few miles from the east line of Wright Township.  Amos West laid his claim for his land on a land-warrant for services in the war of 1812.  Mr. Van Riper is a native of New York City, and after reaching manhood, went to Rhode Island.  He came with the West family to Iowa.  He went to California, as already stated, and lost his life by a land slide, and was thus buried in a drift mine, in which he was working.  He left three children in Pottawattamie County - Mrs. Emma Jane Black, Clarence Van Riper and Mrs. Jessie Bertha Wright.  After his death, his widow married William Barnes, and now lives in Cass County.  Van Riper located on Section 26.

The religious interests of the township are represented by the Whipple Methodist class, which was organized in August, 1872, by the Rev. Mr. Adair, with the following members:  Henry W. Rarey, Mrs. Eliza Rarey and Mrs. S. J. Weaver.  The following spring, Mrs. J. N. Bell, Mrs. Charles Matthews, Mrs. Sarah Matthews, James McGinnis, Mrs. Nancy McGinnis, Mrs. M. P. Black, William Morford, Mrs. Susan Morford, Mrs. Eli Clayton and Mrs. Helen Baxter joined the class.  The present membership is twenty-five.  The pastors who have had charge of the class since its organization are, in their order, Revs. Adair, Abraham, Lampman, A. J. Jefferson, Wertz, Sweeley and Tennant.  There are two branches of the class now - one at the Porter Schoolhouse and the other at the Black Schoolhouse.  The latter was organized in March, 1882, by the Rev. Mr. Moore, with Nathan Meredith and wife as members; Madison Meredith and his wife; William Charles and his wife; Leonard Barnes and his wife; Mrs. M. P. Black, Mrs. Bershong, Elizabeth Smith, David Utley and his wife and Mrs. Twing.

The most prominent citizen in the township is Eli Clayton, the owner of one of the largest farms in the county, and President of the Board of Supervisors, and a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in these annals.  The first school attended by the children of the township was taught by Harriet Howard in a log cabin on the southeast quarter of Section 2, Congressional Township 74, in the summer of 1857.  The first building erected for school purposes was in Subdistrict No. 7, and is what is called the Dean Schoolhouse.  The lumber for this structure was hauled from Boone, on the North-Western Railroad in 1866.  The distance in which the lumber was brought is 140 miles.  The desks and furniture were of native walnut, obtained in the vicinity.  Georgiana Hardenbergh was the first teacher of this new building and is now the wife of Warren Dean, and lives in the vicinity.  Dean erected this schoolhouse.