Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
date clipped off
A HISTORY of UNION TOWNSHIP
The below article was written in 1876 by R. J. CRITCHFIELD
as a part of the
Centennial Celebration of that year.
Union Township is the northeast township and was up to the year of 1858, a part of the original Sand Creek Township which
was made up of what is called Union, Tingley, Monroe, and Liberty. In the summer of 1858 it was divided into two townships -
Tingley and Union - retaining the name of Sand Creek. In September ,1 1869, Sand Creek was again divided into what is now
called Union and Tingley Townships.
The first election was held at Stanbury WRIGHT'S. Ambrose WRIGHT was the firest Township
clerk and A. J. GILLETTE was the first constable. George McREYNOLDS was the first Justice of the Peace. A steady but
rapid growth is characterized with this fact that those who leave and go away almost invariable return to their long left
Its surface is somewhat rolling and is well watered by almost any of the innumerable little streams making it
a good stock producing country, as given all times a bountiful supply of that one thing we all need - Adam's Ale.
broad and rolling prairies attracted the attention of the early immigrants who had started to the far west in search of a
new home, among whom were John STROUSE, Ambrose WRIGHT, Andrew GILLETTE, John FOLTS, George McREYNOLDS, Jacob SMITH, a man
by the name of [Absalom] DRIGGS and Jacob [David?] HALE, all of whom were accustomed to seeing the wild men as well as wild animals of which was
a common or daily occurrence. All of these men and their families, with the exception of DRIGGS, HALE, and STROUSE, are still
living on or near the land they entered in some 23 years ago. Its soil is very productive and its crops this, as well as former
years, will attest.
Among the incidents worthy of note we find that in the fll of 1855 one man DAVIS, a brother of
Dr. John DAVIS, came to Ottumwa and after procurring a guide started for the locality of this township and while camping on
where John ARCHIBALD now lives on the banks of Middle Grand River, with Indians camping on the opposite side, the suspicions of his guide
were aroused and he was compelled to refraim from enjoying the sweet embrace of "Morphious" for fear of being murdered and
the blame being attached to the then harmless Indians.
Amog events worthy of note, deserving to be corrected with the pen of
the erring historian has failed to record correctly is the murder of one man, DRIGGS, who was by very strong cirscumstancial (sic)
evidence goes to prove the acts of this man HALE. The facts in the case are these as can be proven by Jacob SMITH, Abraham
WRIGHT, Andrew GILLETTE and others. - In June of 1855, they went out hunting. After being gone some time, HALE returned
and reported that he had seen one Indian shoot this man DRIGGS in the back and after examinination by SMITH, STROUSE, WRIGHT,
GILLETTe and others it was proved to be a wound by the same kind of ball as was used by HALE, namely a rifle and a longer
DRIGGS was shot near the residence of where Newton KENT now lives, in the back to the right of the back bone -
the ball coming off of the right of the center of his breast. Jacob SMITH made his coffin and his remains were buried on the
hill about 1/2 mile east of the place where ARCHIBALDS are now living, and where at that time stood an old blacksmith shop.
Great excitement prevailed and a committee was appointed among whom were George McREYNOLDS, Stanbury WRIGHT, Peter DOZE,
MILLER and many others to wait upon the Indians and escort them to the Missouri River.
HALE remained a short time, then
left the country. The true cause of the murder will probably never be known but at that time there was strong talk that
HALE and DRIGGS' wife were too intimate which perhaps accounts for the cowardly act.
The early settlers were frequently
frightened with reports of depredations committed by the Indians and at one time theyall left their homes and went to
Grand River and there camped for 9 days. On their return they were caught in a storm which blew their wagons over and scattered
their children to the four winds. It required some time to gather them up after the storm.
There was one, but one battle,
fought to our knowledge and that is known to be the STROUSE battle. While WRIGHT, GILLETTE, and SMITH and others had
gathered together with their wives at STROUSES hut for portection, they heard the enemy approaching on horseback. They all
prepared to sell their lives dearly. By the command of Jacob SMITH, who had more or less experience in Indian warfare, they all
crouched down and with their rifles in hand ready to fire when the word was given. There was a few moments of anxiety when two
men, IMUS and someone else, showed up. They were lost and desired to stay overnight.
Abner GOODDALE, at this time had a
narrow escape. He had just finished his house out of poles, ready to move into, when a fire came sweeping through the house.
No one was hurt.
Twenty-three years ago there was scarcely any improvements in this township, nothing but old log huts
and little breaking [of the soil] done. What was done was done with inferior or inadequate tools and oxen. Ambrose WRIGHT
broke a piece of ground, planted it with corn and tended it with a yoke of cattle. It was very discouraging but with energy
and perservance as none but the early pioneer possesses, he has been crowned with success. Now large and beautiful dwellings with
accommodations to correspond, dots the prairies here and there and the farms are cultivated with light and easy working
farm implements, the results of man's modern ingenuity and they seem to have awoke from a Rip Van Winkle sleep and they
are preparing an era as only those who are energetic and industrious can expect.- R. J. CRITCHFIELD
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2010