This is the southwestern corner township of Tama county, embracing the territory of township 82, range 16, west of the fifth principal meridian. The surface of the township is quite rolling, is well watered and the soil very rich. The attention of the inhabitants is given entirely to stock-raising and general farming. The only reason that Highland does not rank first among Tama county's sub-divisions is that a large portion of its lands are owned by non-residents, and therefore are not so much improved as they otherwise would be. There are, however, several large stock farms here upon which the improvements are among the best and most convenient in the county.
The surface is almost wholly a rolling prairie, the only natural timber being on sections 5, 15 and 22. The principal stream in the township is Richland creek. The two forks which form the main stream unite on section 21, and thence flow through sections 16, 15, 22, 23 and 24 and pass into Columbia township. Raven creek enters the township on section 6, crosses sections 5 and 4, and leaves the township by way of the northwest corner of section 3. Bennett creek is formed by two forks, which both rise in this township and unite on section 1. A brance of Richland creek touches section 36.
The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway crosses the west half of Highland, but there is no station on the line in this township.
Only about a quarter of a century has passed since this section of country was uninhabited except by the Indian. The first advent here of the white man is yet remembered by many now living. Through dense forests and over trackless plains came the early pioneers, making selection of lands, establishing homes, turning the virgin sod, planting the fields with grain, reaping the golden harvest, and thus toiling on from year to year, subduing the land and accumulating property, until now one may see a beautiful country, containing the homes of a contented, happy people.
The first person to effect a permanent settlement in what is now Highland township, was James B. Merritt, who located on section 16, on the 11th of March, 1855. He at once purchased that section, erected a cabin and busied himself making necessary improvements. In May, his family, consisting of wife and three children, arrived to join him and participate in the struggles of pioneer life. James B. Merritt was born in Orange county, New York, August 5, 1814. His father, Daniel M. Merritt was a native of Westchester county, New York; and his mother, Charity (Hultz) Merritt, of New London Connecticut. James B. was the seventh of ten children, three of whom are living.
James lived with his parents, attending the common schools and helping on the farm until he was nineteen years old, when he learned the trade of mason. Mr. Merritt was married in 1839, in Litchfield county, Connecticut, to Miss Laura C. Wing, a native of Schenectady, New York. They made New York State their home until 1855, when Mr. Merritt concluded to go west and obtain some land on the frontiers. He traveled by railroad to Rock Island, Illinois; then by stage to Marengo, Iowa, where he obtained a private conveyance to take him to Eureka. From here he started out on foot, and on the 10th of March arrived at the residence of James Magee in Tama county, where he rested for the night. On the day following he located where he now resides, owning one of the largest farms in the county. After making the first payment on his land, Mr. Merritt had $400 left, and thus the family lived quite well until 1858, in which year the wheat crop was a failure on account of wet weather. Mr. Merritt harvested ten acres, but only got forty bushels. This furnished the family with bread stuff; but they had to manufacture their own flour, which they did by grinding the wheat in a coffee miss. In the spring of 1859, Mr. Merritt sowed what wheat he had left and the family then lived on corn meal and water until the next harvest. Since that time, however, they have had no serious hardships. Mrs. Merritt died June 21, 1876. She had borne her husband ten children, three of whom are now living: Frances, now Mrs. D. E. Wing; James A. and Earnest A. Mr. Merritt was again married in April 1882, to Miss Mary E. Gaffeny. He is a staunch Republican, and has held various offices of trust. He is a good citizen and is respected by all. He has been very successful in his farming operations, and is one of the most well-to-do farmers of the county.
Soon after James B. Merritt had effected a settlement, Samuel Clark arrived and erected a cabin on the south-west quarter of section 3, which was soon afterward destroyed by fire. He erected another, however, and in the spring of 1856, moved here from Indiantown where he had been stopping, and thus became a citizen of Highland.
In July, 1856, David Babb arrived and entered the southeast quarter of section 8, which he at once began improving. The family lived with James B. Merritt until October, then with James Bradley, of Indian Village township, until the following spring, when they permanently settled upon the land which had been entered. David Babb lived here until his death, which occurred on the 24th of December, 1877. His widow still resides on the old homestead. Mr. Babb was a native of Berks county, Pennsylvania, born December 1, 1812. His parents, David and Susan Babb, moved with their family of Ohio at an early day, and here David, Jr., was married to Miss Elizabeth Boughart, a native of Northampton, Pennsylvania, born June 17, 1816. This union was blessed with six children, four of whom are now living: Mary C., now Mrs. H. I. Reed; Anthony E., Quincy W., and Martha E., now wife of W. P. Kellogg. In 1856, Mr. Babb, with his family, left Ohio and came to Tama county, being the third settler in Highland township. The journey was accomplished by teams and they were twenty-eight days on the road, arriving here on the 10th of July. Mr. Babb had but $37 when he arrived here and therefore experienced all the hardships of pioneer life.
Quincy Babb, son of David Babb, came with his parents to Highland township, where he has since resided. He now has charge of the old homestead. Mr. Babb is a native of Summit county, Ohio, born February 25, 1848. In politics he affiliates with the National Greenback party; and his religious connections are with the M. E. Church.
Anthony L. Babb, oldest son of David Babb, was born in Summit county, Ohio, February 25, 1841. He came with his parents to Iowa in 1856, and has since been a resident of Highland township. In August, 1862, he enlisted in Co. F, 28th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and served three years. He was married in 1869, to Miss Milly A. Richards, of Marshall county, and they have now six children: Alma L., Emma L., David R., Clarence E., Linna L, and Laura E. Mr. Babb was a member of the M. E. Church from 1860 till 1882, since which time he has been connected with the U. B. Society. In politics he is a National.
In the latter part of July, 1856, A. Hull made his appearance and settled upon the west half of the south-west quarter of section 12, while his son, Samuel Hull, settled just across the township's line on section 13.
In 1857, Jacob Korns broke thirty-four acres on section 27, where George G. Walker had entered land for him in 1856. Mr. Korns did not move his family to the county, however, until the spring of 1858, at which time John Korns also settled in the township.
Then followed R. Johnson, Arthur Manfull, John and Quincy Manfull, Franklin Hubbard, E. M. Poyneer, A. N. Poyneer, C. W. Moffatt and others. The most of those named are mentioned elsewhere in this volume. Later came James H. Smith, Hiram Winders, C. A. Wilson and S. W. Snyder.
James H. Smith came to Tama county in 1861. He resided at Indiantown until 1864, when he located on section 4, Highland township, where he has since resided. He now owns about 300 acres of land, and is principally engaged in raising stock. Mr. Smith is a native of Washtenaw county, Michigan, born September 1, 1827. His parents were James C. and Sally (Dickerson) Smith. He was left motherless when only four years of age, but his father subsequently married again. James H. Smith was brought up on a farm, and resided with his father until eighteen years of age, when he removed to Boone county, Illinois. On December 31, 1848, he married Miss Julia Linderman, a native of the State of New York. He continued farming in Illinois until he came to Iowa in 1861. Mr. Smith does not belong to any sect, party or creed, but is what may be strictly called a fee thinker. He voted the Republican ticket for many years, but now voted the National. Mr. and Mrs. Smith have eight children - Julius B.,. Carrie, Josephine, Ida, Sarah, Frank, Emma and Gertie.
Among the large stock farmers of the county is to be found Hiram Winders, who resides on section 14, Highland township. His farm consists of 560 acres on section 15. This land has been well improved and the farm is second to none in the township. Mr. Winders is a native of Maryland, born on the 6th day of June, 1826. His father, George Winders, was a native of Ohio; his mother, Jane Winders, a native of Maryland. Hiram worked for farmers in his neighborhood until he reached his majority, then he worked at wagon making one year, at the end of which time he emigrated to Ogle county, Illinois, where he followed the trade of carpentering. In 1860, he was united in marriage with Miss Hettie M. Tice, a native of Ohio. They followed farming in Ogle county, Illinois, until 1868, when they emigrated to Iowa, and have since lived in Highland township. In politics, Mr. Winders was formerly a Democrat, but of late years he has voted the National Greenback ticket. His religious connections are with the Christian Church. There are eight children - Charles L., Lucy J., William R., Carrie B., Samuel W., Chauncy, Blanche and Earl.
Highland township was organized October 9, 1860, and the first election held at the house of James Adair, on the 5th of November following. C. W. Moffatt was chosen Chairman; Franklin Hubbard, Jacob Korns and J. B. Merritt, Judges; and Robinson Johnson and C. W. Moffatt, Clerks of the election. Isaac Toland, Esq. administered the oath to the above named. The following is a roster of the officers as copied from the records:
Officers elected at first election: Jacob Korns, Arthur Manfull and David Babb, Trustees; Robinson Johnson, Clerk; Franklin Hubbard, Assessor; S. J. Alden and Arthur Manfull, Justices; Edward Hull and David Babb, Constables; C. W. Moffatt, Road Supervisor.
1861 - David Babb, Jacob Korns and J. B. Merritt, Trustees; Robinson Johnson, Clerk; E. M. Poyneer, Assessor; C. W. Moffatt, Justice; David Babb, Constable; C. W. Moffatt, Road Supervisor.
1862 - J. B. Merritt, Jacob Korns and David Babb, Trustees; R Johnson, Clerk; E. M. Poyneer, Assessor; A. N. Poyneer, C. W. Moffatt, Justices; Charles McLaughlin, J. G. Cronk, Constables; C. W. Moffatt, Road Supervisor.
1863 - David Babb, J. G. Cronk, R. Moffatt, Trustees; E. M. Poyneer, Clerk.
1864 - A. H. Cowles and Quincy Manfull, Constables. There was a tie on all the rest of the candidates, and on the 17th of November the matter was decided by drawing lots with the following result: David Babb, S. T. Leach, J. G. Cronk, Trustees; E. M. Poyneer, Clerk; R. Johnson, Assessor; C. W. Moffatt and Edward Phillips, Justices.
1865 - David Babb, C. W. Moffatt and John Roberts, Trustees; E. M. Poyneer, Clerk and Assessor; J. H. Smith, Justice; John Manfull, Constable; R. Johnson, Solomon Korns and J. G. Cronk, Supervisors.
1866 - C. W. Moffatt, John Roberts and F. M. Clark, Trustees; E. M. Poyneer, Clerk and Assessor; David Babb and F. M. Clark, Justices.
1867 - David Babb, E. R. Moffatt and F. M. Clark, Trustees; E. M. Poyneer, Clerk and Assessor.
1868 - Levi Snyder, J. G. Cronk and David Babb, Trustees; E. M. Poyneer, Clerk; C. W. Moffatt, Assessor; C. B. Crofutt and C. W. Moffatt, Justices.
1869 - J. G. Cronk, H. J. Reed and D. Babb, Trustees; E. M. Poyneer, Clerk; E. J. Jenks, Assessor; C. W. Moffatt and J. B. Merritt, Justices.
1870 - R. Johnson, John Ramsey, and J. G. Cronk, Trustees; A. N. Cowles, Clerk.
1871 - R. Johnson, E. L. Fish, and V. Smith, Trustees; A. N. Cowles, Clerk; J. G. Cronk, Assessor.
1872 - E. L. Fish, E. R. Fish, and V. Smith, Trustees; A. N. Cowles, Clerk; E. M. Poyneer, Assessor; C. W. Moffatt and H. Vosburg, Justices.
1873 - H. J. Reed, J. H. Smith, and John Ramsey, Trustees; F. B. Sanborn, Clerk.
1874 - H. J. Reed, Hiram Winders, and C. W. Moffatt, Trustees; F. B. Sanborn, Clerk; Isaac Smith, Assessor; W. Stewart, Justice.
1875 - E. L. Fish, Henry Vosburg, and Ovid Vandyke, Trustees; D. E. Wing, Clerk; C. A. Wilson Assessor; C. A. Wilson, C. W. Moffatt, Justices.
1876 - Ovid Vandyke, A. J. Vosburg, and E. L. Fish, Trustees; D. E. Wing, Clerk; C. A. Wilson, Assessor and Justice.
1877 - A. J. Vosburg, E. L. Fish, and Ovid Vandyke, Trustees; D. E. Wing, Clerk; C. A. Wilson, Assessor; C. W. Moffatt, Justice.
1878 - Hiram Winders, 1 year; Jonas Kellogg, 2 years, C. W. Moffatt, 3 years; Trustees; T. A. Dunlava, Clerk; James H. Smith, Assessor; A. J. Vosburg, Justice.
1879 - E. L. Fish, Trustee; D. E. Wing, Clerk; C. A. Wilson, Assessor.
1880 - A. J. Vosburg, Trustee; C. A. Wilson, Clerk; D. E. King, Assessor; J. C. McClure, Justice.
1881 - J. D. Sanborn, Trustee; C. A. Wilson, Clerk; D. E. Wing, Assessor; C. A. Wilson, and J. Speaker, Justices.
1882 - A. L. Franz, Trustee; C. A. Wilson, Clerk; F. B. Sanborn, Assessor; and Levi Snyder, Justice.
Levi Snyder, Justice of the Peace of Highland township, is a native of Mifflin county, Pennsylvania, and was born May 1, 1828. He was left motherless when but an infant. His father subsequently married again, and Levi was brought up on the farm. February 16, 1855, he married Miss Hannah Booth, a native of Pennsylvania, and in 1857, emigrated to Ogle county, Illinois, from thence, in 1866, moved to Iowa, since which time he has been a resident of Highland township. Mr. Snyder is a Republican, in politics; in religion, a Congregationalist. His family consists of three children: Samuel W.,. Mary and Mamie. Mr. Snyder is one of the leading farmaers of Tama county. He has made good improvements on his land, and he may truly be called a well-to-do farer, who is prompt in fulfilling all his obligations.
The present Clerk of Highland township, C. A. Wilson, came to the county in 1872, and in 1873, located on his present farm, which he had purchased in 1869. He was born in Pennsylvania, March 9, 1839. His parents were A. C. and Cloey E. (Bowen) Wilson, the former of Vermont and the latter of Pennsylvania. In 1845, the family moved to Carroll county, Illinois, where, in 1861, Mr. Wilson enlisted in Company K, 15th Illinois Volunteer Infantry and served one year, when he was discharged on account of physical disability. In December, 1861, while in the service, he came home on a furlough and married Miss Miriam A. Rice, a native of New York. After being discharged from the service, he followed farming in Ogle county, Illinois, until he came to Iowa. He is a Republican, has held all the township offices except Trustee and was census enumerator in 1880. Mr. Wilson is a member of the M. E. Church. The children are: Lettie, Nora, now Mrs. R. Anderson; and Minnie.
The first birth in the township was William, a son of James B. and Laura C. Merritt, born in October, 1856. In the same month, James, son of Smuel and Amanda Hull, was born, and, it is thought by many, that this was the first birth.
The first death in the township was an infant son of James B. and Laura C. Merritt, named William, who died in August, 1857. The remains lie buried on section 16, but there is nothing to mark the spot.
On the 14th of April, 1859, the first marriage was solemnized at the residence of David Babb, by Isaac Butler, Esquire. The contracting parties were H. I. Reed and Mary Babb. This was the first wedding that was celebrated in the township. The couple resided in Highland township until the spring of 1883, when they moved to Nebraska.
The first school building in Highland township was erected in 1861, near the center of the township, on the site now occupied by Center school house, district number 5. Miss Lucy Clark, of Grinnell taught the first school - a term of three months - receiving $25 per month as compensation. There were only ten or twelve pupils present. The second school house was erected in district number 2.
There are now nine school houses in the township, valued at about $800 each, and educational facilities are on a par with any township in the county.
The first religious services in the township were held at the house of Jacob Korns, with Rev. Daniel Long, a minister from Pennsylvania, presiding.
There was preaching at the school houses occasionally for many years, but no society was permanently organized until June, 1881, when Rev. G. P. Fisher, of Grinnell, organized what is known as the Tama Mission of the United Brethren Church. The society started out with a membership of twenty-five, as follows: I. Speaker, Martha Speaker, F. Nichols, Elizabeth Nichols, R. Martin, Margaret Martin, A. L. Babb, Milla Ann Babb, Fannie Ireland, Maggie Martin, Mary Martin, Joseph Martin, Thomas Speaker, Allie Speaker, May Nichols, Laura Nichols, Carrie Nichols, Charley Drew, Nora Spickler, Reuben Spickler, Albert Spickler, Charles Hamil, Carrie Hamil, Eddie Hamil and Claretta Honeywell.
I. Speaker was chosen class leader, and F. Nichols, steward. Rev. G. P. Fisher was succeeded as pastor by Rev. Richard Swaim, the present minister.
Services were held at the school house of district number 6 until 1883, when the present church edifice was erected near the school house. The church is a frame structure, 28x40 feet in size, with a seating capacity of 165, and cost $1,300. The membership of the society now numbers thirty-four.
A Sabbath-school was organized in April, 1880, with J. Speaker, Superintendent. The school is now in flourishing condition and has an average attendance of about thirty-five.
Highland township has never had a postoffice within its boundaries. The citizens have always been obliged to patronize neighboring villages for mail.
There is one cemetery in Highland township, located on the southeast quarter of section 22. It contains a fourth of an acre, which was donated to the township for burial purposes by John Korns, in 1870. The first body interred here was Louisa Korns, wife of the donor.
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