IAGenWeb Project

Shelby County


1889 History Index

Biographical History of Shelby and Audubon Counties
History of Shelby County, Iowa



This institution found its origin in the "Advance Alliance" of Polk Township, in 1886, through the efforts of their secretary, H. C. Hanson, and T. B. Olson, their president. It was, however, reorganized at Harlan, February 12, 1887, by the following incorporators: A. N. Buckman, James M. Pratt, H. B. Kees, Jacob Anderson, M. Larson and L. D. Sunderland. The first officers under the new organization were: A. C. Buckman, President; H. C. Hanson, Secretary. The present officials are: M. Larson, President; L. D. Sunderland, Vice-President; A. N. Buckman, Secretary, and J. K. Barber, Treasurer. The concern is managed and directed by nine trustees or directors, who at present are as follows: H. B. Kees, L. D. Sunderland, Jacob Anderson, J. M. Pratt, Henry Niemann, W. H. Townson, Ole P. Erickson, Fred Grobmiaer, P. B. Allen.

The prime object of this company is to furnish a good but inexpensive fire insurance on farm property -- nothing taken within towns or villages. It is a purely co-operative company, and is doing a good, safe business.


In 1882 the question of the county purchasing land and improving the same for a permanent poor-farm, was submitted to the tax-payers of Shelby County. The vote stood 1,390 for and 666 against. The measure having been carried by a good majority, the board of supervisors at once bought 120 acres of land on section 36 of Lincoln Township, paying about $5,000 for the same. In 1886 they let the contract for a poor-house, which, together with the necessary out-buildings, barns, etc., cost the county in round numbers about $6,000. The farm is well improved, and affords the best possible means for taking proper care of the unfortunate and helpless people who claim Shelby County as their home.


March 2, 1880, the board of supervisors awarded the contract for building a fine brick jail and sheriff's residence combined in one structure. It is a fine two-story building, built of solid brick masonry. The contract for the building proper was let to J. O. Wiekersham and H. Knowles, for $4,600. The iron work, including jail cells, was awarded to P. J. Pauley Bros. for $375, making a total outlay of $4,975. Before the construction of this building the county was put to great trouble, as well as useless expense, in taking care of their prisoners, as they were compelled to lodge such characters in the jails of neighboringh counties.


This is a branch of the Galland's Grove Conference, and was organized October 21, 1859, by Elder E. C. Briggs and Elder William Blair. The names of the members comprising the organization were as follows: William Vanausdall, Uriah Roundy, Rena Roundy, John A. McIntosh, Melinda McIntosh, Alexander McCord, Sybil McCord, Elizabeth J. Williamson, Alexander Hunt, Mary Hunt, Lewis Jackson, Elizabeth Thomas and Alexander Black. The first presiding elder was William Vanausdall, and was succeeded as follows: John B. Hunt, Benjamin Crandall, Robert Ford, Ingaert Hansen, Ralph Jenkins, Absalom Huykendall, Eli Clothier, Milton Lynch, John A. McIntosh, John Hawley and Alfred Jackson.

In 1888 the membership was 276.

In 1880 the society commenced the erection of a neat edifice, which was finished in 1881, at a cost of $1,300. At first their services were held at private houses, later in a log school-house which was accidentally burned, when they built a log church which served until the new church was built.

When the timber land and choice locations in and about Galland's Grove were taken up, the next settlers had to go to the next best locations and select lands. Such settlement was made at Bowman's Grove, in the center of the county, and soon the county-seat matter, with talk of having it removed from Shelbyville to Harlan or Simoda, caused a good many to flock to these places and secure farms and town-site property. In 1860, according to the United States census reports, Shelby County contained a population of 820 people, about equally divided between the two townships then organized -- "Galland's Grove" and "Round." Up to this date five villages had been platted, viz.: Shelbyville, Itan, Manteno, Simoda and Harlan. The biographical sketches contained elsewhere in this volume give much of value concerning the settlement, manners, customs, etc., of this county, and may be considered reliable, given as it has been in nearly every case by pioneers or their children. Besides, much of Shelby County's early history will be found in proper place under the heading of "Towns and Villages."

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Transcribed by Cheryl Siebrass August, 2015 from "Biographical History of Shelby and Audubon Counties", Chicago: W. S. Dunbar & Co., 1889, pg. 256-257.

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