The township bearing this name is among the most fertile and productive in Tama county. It is well watered by Salt creek and its tributaries, and has a soil which only needs the plow and seed to bring forth bountifully all kinds of cereals adapted to this climate. Oneida is the extreme east of the middle tier of townships, bounded by Clark township on the north, Carroll on the west, York on the south, and Benton county on the east.
Oneida is a full congressional township, and was organized on the 9th of October, 1860. The first election was held November 6, 1860, and the following officers were elected: Daniel C. Twogood, Clerk; B. R. dickerson, Assessor; G. G. Mason, and Ranson Terpenning, Justices; B. R. dickerson, R. Terpenning and J. B. F. Hill, Trustees.
The first business transacted by the Board of Trustees, was to levy a tax of two and a half mills on all taxable property, for road purposes, and at the same meeting this was amended so as to call for three mills. October 7, 1861, the township was divided into three road districts.
Below is given a list of those who have held office and who have been prominent in the public affairs of the township, as taken from the Clerk's record:
Daniel C. Twogood, B. R. dickerson, G. G. Mason, Ransom Terpenning, J. B. F. Hill, O. A. Terpenning, Jonathan Harden, John M. Hull, William Fowler, A. Heath, Josiah Thomas, F. K. Morgan, W. W. Wiles, A. Cady, M. B. Sapp, C. W. Taft, I. E. Babcock, J. C. Wiles, A. Anthony, N. Huff, W. D. Dean, Welcome Mowry, W. W. Moses, Hiram Frank, J. K. Bull, J. H. Burris, John Graham, Frank Meggers, John Frye, J. M. Kinner, R. M. Morgan, Jacob Rolphs and J. A. Kinner.
The officers for 1888 were: J. C. Wiles, John Frye and J. M. Kinner, Trustees; Frank Meggers, Clerk; R. M. Morgan, Assessor; J. A. Kinner and Jacob Rolphs, Justices.
The early settlement of this township although made later than other townships in Tama county, has many interesting things connected with it. The pioneers had many trials and discomfits continually confronting them. Many miles from market and isolated as it was from the rest of humanity, they passed their early days in hope that the dawn of a better and more prosperous day was coming. Those who are yet living have indeed seen the arrival of that day, and now are surrounded by advantages that in an early day were deemed visionary and impossible.
Benjamin Twogood made about the first settlement in Oneida township. He came in 1854 and settled on the southeast quarter of section 36. He remained until 1860, then sold out, and moved to Kansas.
John M. Hull came the same year, locating land on sections 26 and 31. Mr. Hull lived on this farm until 1876, when he removed to section 8. He lived on that section until 1881, then concluded to go farther west and removed to Nebraska, where he is at present.
Jonathan Harden came to Oneida in 1855, from Benton county, this State, locating on section 19. He was a native of virginia and came to Benton county a number of years previous. Mr. Harden lived in the township until 1880, then caught the gold fever, sold his land, and struck out for the Black Hills. In 1856 the little settlement received a number of additions. Among those who came this year were: Daniel Twogood, Ransom Terpenning, William and Alexander Fowler, C. F. McGee and David Gillespie.
Daniel Twogood entered land on section 13, and during the war sold his farm and engaged in the agricultural implement business at Belle Plaine, Benton county, where he also erected an elevator. In about 1875 he sold out his business and went to Los Angeles county, California, where he is engaged in fruit raising. Mr. Twogood was a thorough business man and was very successful in his business ventures.
Ransom Terpenning was a native of York State. He entered land on sections 26 and 27, built a frame house, and made that his home until his death in August, 1873. Mr. Terpenning was born in Cortland county, New York, September 21, 1818. His early life was spent on a farm and at eighteen years of age he commenced to learn the trade of marble cutting. After learning his trade he moved to Tompkins county, where he purchased a farm and engaged in the marble business in Dryden, until 1856, then came to Tama county, where he purchased land on sections 26 and 27 of township 84, range 13, now known as Oneida township. He made this his home until the time of his death which occurred August 25, 1873. He was married October 21, 1839, to Miss Eliza Chrisman, born in York State, April 14, 1821. They were blessed with five children, three of whom are now living: Oscar A., Edgar R. and George D. His widow now makes her home with her son Edgar, who was born September 11, 1847, and was but nine years of age when his parents came to Iowa. Edgar attended school and worked on the farm until 1870, when he engaged at carpentering, which trade has since occupied most of his time. He was married July 4, 1880, to Miss Amanda Renslow. They have two children: Francis, Earle and Harry Lawrence. Mr. Terpenning has held the office of constable four years and in 1883, engaged with the C. M. & St. P. Railroad as bridge builder.
William Fowler came to the township in about 1856 and settled on section 20. In 1881, he disposed of his land and removed to Calhoun county, this State, where he still lives. Mr. fowler was an easy-going fellow, took things slow and never worried much.
Alexander Fowler settled on the same section with his brother. He remained but a few years and removed to Louisa county, Iowa.
Abraham Anthony became a settler of this township in 1857, locating land on section 36. He lived there for a few years, then moved to section 23, and in 1878, went to Hardin county, where he is now living.
E. O. Thomas came to Oneida township in 1857, and settled on section 23, where he lived until the fall of 1862. He then enlisted in the Union Army, contracted some disease and died in Lee county, Iowa, in the spring of 1863.
O. N. and G. G. Mason came to this township, from Illinois, in 1838, driving through with oxen and cows hitched to their wagons. They were fourteen days on the road and experienced some extremely bad weather. As soon as they arrived they put up a little shanty in which to live until something better could be built. In the fall they erected a frame house, the best in the township. The brothers had each purchased 120 acres in 1856, and at the date given, came to improve their purchase. O. N. improved his land until 1862, when he entered the service and returned home in July, 1865. He then re-commenced improving his land and has since resided here. Mr. Mason is a native of New York, and was married in York township, Tama county, Iowa, to Miss Eliza J. Overturf, a native of Ohio, whose parents, Simon and Lydia (Bonam) Overturf, came to Iowa in 1855. Her father is now a resident of York township; her mother died in 1857.
G. G. Mason lived on his farm for a number of years, then, in 1866, went to Waltham and engaged in the mercantile business. He remained there for about three years, then went to Traer and engaged in the insurance and musical instrument business. He returned to Waltham in 1877 and died the same year.
H. C. Wiles and family came to Oneida township in 1858 from Jones county, this State. Mr. Wiles settled on section 21, and made that his home until the breaking out of the war. In 1862 he enlisted in the service and died of disease in the fall of 1863. Mrs. Wiles died in York township, December 31, 1879. Mr. wiles was a native of York State.
C. F. McGee settled on section 31 and lived there some time, then removed to York township. He is now in the livery business at Gladbrook.
David Gillespie came during this year and settled on section 19, and a number of years later, he settled on section 20. He lived there until 1878, when he sold his farm and went to the Black Hills.
Brad Dickerson became a resident of Oneida township in 1859. He settled on section 27, and in about 1869, moved to Carroll township. In 1875 or 1876, he went to Illinois on a visit and borrowed $1,200. On his return, he lost his trunk at Fulton, on the Mississippi. He did not discover his loss until on the west side of the river at Clinton. He at once crossed the river on the bridge, found his trunk and started to return, carrying the trunk on his shoulder. He has never been heard of since. His trunk was found on the bridge, broken open and rifled of its contents, and the supposition now is, that he was murdered for his money. Mr. Dickerson was very sociable, and was a man of more than ordinary intelligence. He is remembered as having one limb shorter than the other, causing him to limp very noticeably.
A Heath came to the township in 1860 or 1861, and settled on section 9. He soon moved to section 29, and from there to section 18. He is now in Kansas.
Edward and Whitney Bacon came about this time, the former locating on section 21 and the latter on section 9. Whitney is now a resident of Kansas, and Edward is in Irving, York township, Tama county.
During the war quite a number came to swell the list of settlers in Oneida township. Among them were the following: James and Stephen Rustin, Reuben, Jr., and James Phillips, James Morrison and his son Michael and F. K. Morgan and his son M. R.
James Rustin settled on section 20, and lived there until 1879, when he removed to Calhoun county, Iowa. Mr. Rustin was an elderly man and was Deacon in the Freewill Baptist church. He was thoroughly honest, and was well liked by all who knew him.
Stephen Rustin worked about the neighborhood, and run a threshing machine for Mr. Fowler until 1875, when he settled on section 18. He is now in Calhoun county, this State.
Reuben Phillips came here from Illinois, and settled on section 16, where he still lives. His brother, James, settled on section 29, and lived there until 1878, when he sold his land and went to Kansas.
James Morrison settled on section 32, and in 1881, sold out and removed to Belle Plaine, where he now lives. He was a native of Canada. Michael, his son, settled on section 9, and remained till 1873, then moved to section 17. He lived here about seven years and left the county. His whereabouts are unknown.
F. K. Morgan settled on section 36, Oneida township, in 1863, and remained a resident of that township until 1882, when he sold his farm and removed to Plymouth, this State. Mr. Morgan is a native of Massachusetts, born in 1812, and was left an orphan at an early age. He lived with an elder sister for some time, then went to Pennsylvania where he married Miss Olive Welch, a native of Bradford county. In 1853, they came to Iowa, first locating in Linn county, and afterwards came to Tama county. While a resident of this county he always took an active part in every movement which tended to benefit the public, and was continually kept in office as he always proved a faithful and an efficient officer. His children were William A., John N., M. R., Sarah E., now Mrs. O. A. Terpenning; Agnes, Andrew, Simeon, Ithemar and Frank.
M. R. Morgan, son of F. K. Morgan, was born in Bradford county, Pennsylvania, on the 18th of January, 1850. He was reared on a farm, came with his parents to Iowa, and made his home with them until July 4, 1867, when he was united in marriage with Miss Mary A. Byam. He then resided in Benton county one year, and then came to Oneida township, where he has since made his home. He purchased his present farm in 1877, then raw prairie, and now has it under good cultivation. It is valued at $35 per acre. In politics Mr. Morgan is a Republican, and is at present Township Assessor. He belongs to but one secret society, the Q. L. of H. They have three children: Emma, Ella and Hallie.
In 1865, the following named settlers were among those who came in: Major Sapp and family, Robert Lathrop, Joab Hutchinson, J. C. Wiles, Charles E. Stearns, A. H. Loveland and William Thomas.
Major Sapp settled on section 28, and with the exception of two years, made that his home until the fall of 1882, when he moved to Toledo, where he now lives.
Joab Hutchinson lived on section 19, where he had first located, until 1877, when he moved to the village of Traer, this county. In 1879, he went to Nebraska. He was a Canadian by birth.
Robert Lathrop purchased a farm of Albert Mason on section 16, where he has since lived. He is a native of Canada.
J. C. Wiles came in October and settled on section 28, where he has since lived. Mr. Wiles was born in Cortland county, New York, April 24, 1843. His younger days were spent in school and on the farm. At fourteen he was apprenticed to a wagon-maker to learn the trade, and after serving three years, engaged as a journeyman. He worked at his trade until 1865, with the exception of one year, then came to Iowa and purchased land on section 28, of Oneida. he has erected a comfortable frame dwelling house, two stables and a log house, and also has set out quite a number of forest and fruit trees, and now has 360 acres of improved land. November 3, 1852, he was married to Miss Janet C. Weld. They have three children: Eva D., Eddie J, and Violette. Mr. Wiles has been very successful in his farming operations, and being possessed of all those qualifications that go to make a man of sterling worth, he to-day holds the respect of all who know him. He is one of the representative men of his township.
Charles E. Stearns came from Canada and settled on section 27. He is a carpenter by trade and spends much of his time from home. His family still live on the farm.
A. H. Loveland settled on section 28, where he still lives. He came from Bureau county, Illinois.
W. Thomas was formerly form Canada, and on coming to Oneida township, settled on section 27. He lived here until 1879, then sold and went to Kansas.
In order that the reader may gain some knowledge of those who settled here in an early day, of their characters, and of their prosperity, personal sketches are here presented of a number who have been intimately connected with the welfare and growth of the township.
Welome Mowry came to Oneida in 1867, and located on section 28, where he has since lived. Mr. Mowry was born in Putnam county, Illinois, April 3, 1842. In 1851, his parents removed to Bureau county, same State, where Welcome received his education in the common schools. Later he attended the Dean academy one term. On the first call for troops, made in 1861, he enlisted into the service; but on the arrival of the company at Springfield, the quota was found to be full and he returned home. He enlisted again in August of the same year, in Company D, 7th Kansas Cavalry. He joined "Lane's Brigade," and served with the regiment until the expiration of his term of enlistment. He participated in many engagements, including the battles of Corinth, Tupelo and Coffeeville, and was honorably discharged September 24, 1864. He re-enlisted February 14, 1865, in the 151st Illinois, was mustered in as Sergeant, and went to Dalton, Georgia, Atlanta and Americus. He was discharged January 24, 1866, and returned to Illinois, having enlisted three times and served over four years. In 1867, he came to Tama county, and purchased 86 acres of land on section 28. He at once built a house and commenced improving his land. Since that that time he has worked into stock and is now engaged quite extensively in stock raising, keeping on an average 200 head of cattle, and about as many hogs. Mr. Mowry has one of the finest stock farms in the township. He now owns 700 acres, part improved and part pasture land, and has two sheds for stock, one 140 and 150 feet long. Mr. Mowry was the first in the township to use the tile drain for draining his land. He was married in 1866 to Miss Lucina Lapp, who has borne him three children: Lorena C., Burdette F. and Alzada B. Mr. Mowry has held various offices of thrust in the township, and is the present Secretary of the School Board, which office he has held for thirteen years. He has also held the office of Justice of the Peace for ten consecutive years. In 1881, Mr. Mowry was elected colonel of of the Tama county veterans, and was re-elected in 1882. Mr. Mowry is a genial, open-hearted gentleman, and is respected by all who know him.
William Whitmore settled in Oneida township, in 1867, and made this his home until his death. His son Joshua, a prominent farmer, is still a resident of the township. Joshua Whitmore was born in Oneida, Canada, November 13, 1851. His parents were William and Margaret Whitmore, the former a native of Canada, the latter of Ireland. In 1865 the family emigrated to the United States, locating in La Salle county, *Ill., where they remained until in November, 1867, at which time they came to Iowa, and settled in Tama county, in Oneida township, where the parents lived until their death. They reared a family of eight children, six of whom are now living - Joshua, the subject of this sketch, Ellen, now wife of John Coutts, Esther, Edward, Margaret J., now Mrs. Lewis Barnes, and Martha Ann, now wife of Orin Hill. Joshua was reared on a farm, and February 5, 1878, was married to Miss Ann Eliza Cochran, daughter of A. C. and Nancy E. Cochran. Three children bless this union - Margaret E., George and Frank. Mr. Whitmore owns 160 acres of land on section 30. In politics he is a Republican and has held various local offices.
Another settler of 1867 was L. P. Keith, a native of Madison county, New York, born January 17, 1815. His parents were Mark and Louise (Trumbull) Keith, both of whom were natives of the Empire State. L. P., was reared on a farm, and was married January 3, 1838, to Miss Eliza P. Dickinsen, a native of Oneida county, New York. They have four children living: Enos, Elihu, Erie and Emmett. His wife was born in 1818, her parents being Enos and Lucia (Royington) Dickinsen. Mr. Keith followed farming in his native State until the fall of 1848, when he emigrated to Dane county, Wisconsin. He lived in Wisconsin until 1864, when he came to Iowa, and in 1867 settled in Tama county where he purchased 480 acres of land. He resides on section 25, in Oneida township.
Mr. Keith is a Republican, but does not take an active part in politics. He is a member of the Baptist Church.
William Kinner settled in the township in 1867. Mr. Kinner is a native of York State, born in Seneca, now known as Tompkins county. His father settled on timber land in that county in an early day and cleared about thirty acres. The father was drowned in Cayuga Lake when William was but six years old. The subject of this sketch made his home with his mother until he was twenty-three, when he went to Cattaraugus county, where he bought a farm and soon after married Miss Mary Pottman, daughter of Peter and Mary Pottman, who were the first settlers of Hinsdale in that county. They lived there about eight years, then removed to Chemung county, locating in the town of Dix, where he bought a canal boat and operated on the Chemung and Erie canal. Mr. Kinner made Dix his residence until 1849, when he moved to Illinois and purchased a farm in Carroll county. He remained here until 1867, with the exception of one year spent in Crawford county, Wisconsin, and then came to Tama county, where he settled on section 36, of Oneida township, his present home. Mr. and Mrs. Kinner have had eight children, seven of whom are now living: John A., Peter P., Eliza V., James M., Rosanna, William H. and Charles E.
James M., third son of William and Mary (Pottman) Kinner, was born in Cattaraugus county, New York, January 18, 1834. At twenty-three years of age he engage with a daguerreian to learn the trade. He worked at this business one year and then resumed farming. He was married November 15, 1864, to Miss Chloe Woodin, a native of Connecticut. They have four children living: Kent, James, Mary Myrtle and Major Ransom. Mr. Kinner came to Tama county from Carroll county, Illinois, in 1867, and settled on section 36, in Oneida township, where he now lives. He is engaged quite extensively in stock raising. He has taken quite an interest in public affairs, has been elected to various offices of trust in the township, and is at present a member of the board of Trustees.
JOHN A., eldest son of William and Mary (Pottman) KINNER, was born in Cattaraugus county, New York, on the 17th of November, 1826. He attended school in his boyhood and assisted his father on the farm. At seventeen years of age he engaged to learn the carpenter’s trade, serving as an apprentice for three years, then worked for another three years as a journeyman, after which he engaged in business as carpenter and builder in York State until 1849. At this time he came West to Wisconsin and worked at his trade in Rock county until 1864, when he moved to Illinois, locating in Carroll county, where he remained for three years and in 1867 came to Iowa. He came at once to Tama county and purchased land on section 26 of Oneida township, where he now lives. Mr Kinner was married in 1849, to Miss Lucy A. Clarke, of Allegany county, New York. They have been blessed with seven children, four of whom are now living: Emory E., Emily E., George C. and Samuel M.
WILLIAM R. WILLIAMSON became a resident of Oneida township is 1867. He is a native of Ireland, born in the county of Derry, September 8, 1838. When fourteen years of age he started out for himself, came to America, landing at New York, and went at once to Cincinnati, where he was employed in Shreeve and Steele’s iron works. After working here eighteen months, he went to Will county, Illinois, where he was engaged at farming until 1867, then came to Tama county, and purchased land on section 35, of Oneida township. He at once began making improvements; built a frame house and set out forest and fruit trees. He has now a large variety of plum, apple and cherry trees, and also many different kinds of berries. In 1883 he erected a frame house 18 x 27 feet with twenty feet posts and an addition 15 x 20 feet. Mr. Williamson was married December 9, 1858, to Miss Margaret Williamson, a native of the county of Antrim, Ireland. They have two children --- Lillie Belle and Maggie May.
MATHIAS MATTHIESEN settled where he now lives on section 10, Oneida township, in 1872, but first became a resident of the township in 1870. Mr. Matthiesen was born in Schleswig, Germany, August 25, 1826. He was united in marriage to Miss Magdelena Peterson, and in 1860, emigrated to the United States. Mr. Matthiesen first located in Scott county, Iowa, where he was engaged in farming until 1870, when he came to Tama county. He has resided in this county ever since, with the exception of one year spent in Benton county. Mr. and Mrs. Matthiesen have been blessed with eight children - Catherine, born April 6, 1850; Claus, born June 4, 1852; Hans, born July 23, 1853; Christ, September 1, 1859; John, December 17, 1861; Mary, June 1, 1864; Theodore, March 5, 1865; and Fred, born March 20, 1869. In politics, Mr. Matthiesen is a Democrat; in faith, a Lutheran. He now owns a fine of 360 acres.
FRANK MEGGERS came to Tama county in 1873, first locating in Clark township; but since 1877, has been a resident of section 6, Oneida township. Mr. Meggers was born in Germany, September 12, 1846, his parents being Frank H, and Mary Meggers. Mr. Meggers remained in his native land until June, 1870, when he came to the United States. For the next three years he lived in Michigan, then went to Sheboygan county, Wisconsin, and there resided until coming to Iowa in 1873, Mr. Meggers was married to Miss Paulina Holst, a native of Germany. They have four children -- Mary, born September 17, 1874; Alvina, born February 15, 1876; Frank, born January 17, 1878; and William, born January 11, 1881. In politics, Mr. Meggers is a Republican, and has held the offices of Township Trustee and Clerk. He is a member of the Lutheran Church.
H. C. BURRIS located in Oneida township in 1882, and purchased 160 acres of land on section14. Mr. Burris is a son of William and Ann (Busland) Burris, the former a native of Vermont, the latter of Ohio. He was born in Bureau county, Illinois, May 7, 1855. the family came to Iowa and located in Benton county in 1871, and there lived until 1882, when the parents went to Nebraska, and H. C. came to Tama county.
There were eight children in the family - Sarah R., now Mrs. Charles Jackson, of Howard county, Nebraska; Christa A., now wife of Solomon Thompson; W. E., H. C., J. E., Jennie L., now Mrs. J. C. Bergen, and Charles A. In 1875, Mr. Burris was married to Miss Maggie J. Byam, daughter of W. A. and Annie (Leveland) Byam. They have one daughter - Lulu Blanche. Mr. Burris is now engaged in farming and improving his land, and has one of the finest farms in the township.
The first marriage in this township was H. Hull to Miss E. J. Kerns, in 1857, J. C. Vermilya, County Judge, performed the ceremony.
The first schoolhouse in this township was built in 1859, and was located on the northeast quarter of section 36. Ruth LeRue was the first teacher. This school building is now attached to a dwelling house and is used as a kitchen. There are at present ten school districts in the township with a schoolhouse in each.
Old settlers of the township tell of a strange animal that was seen in an early day. It was called the white lion. Some who saw it say it had the build of a lion, had a mane and a bushy tail, and that it was as large as the largest dog. Its tracks were seen in places by a few persons, who said they were as large as those of a horse, and the marks showed toes like a dog’s. Another strange feature was that the animal was pure white. A man once met it in the road and was forced to go around, as it showed fight. At one time, when Mr. Fowler, an early settler, was away from home, the beast came near the house. Mr. Fowler took an ax and was
going to brain the brute; but it crouched and showed its teeth and growled in
such a fearful way that her courage lift her, and she fled into the house,
piling table and chairs against the door to keep the terrible lion out.
Finally, it disappeared altogether, and now the old settlers look upon the
affair as more of a scare than anything else. Some think it was a white
bear; others, a panther; but these are mere conjectures, nothing definite being
known as to what it really was.
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