Abstracts from the Ide Union County History, published 1878


There is always a charm in reading of occurrences and events with which we are, or our predecessors, have been associated in any way, whether important or otherwise. Brief mention will often recall incidents connected therewith which had been to many the incomplete chronicles here enrolled may prove interesting in recalling memories and it is hoped that they give to these pages an additional value for future reference.


1846- Prior to the year of 1846, there had been no white settlers within the borders of what now comprises Union County, Iowa.  In May of that year, a company of Mormons, on their way to Utah, established at Pisgah, a temporary station, which was maintained until 1852 when the remaining portions of this company proceeded on their way to the valleys of the Rocky Mountains. In June 1846, the United States government called on the Mormons within the state of Iowa, for a battalion of five hundred men to serve in the Mexican war. The Mormons at Pisgah furnished their quota in response to this call.


1847-In 1847, the Mormon settlement increased in numbers and conditions were bettered. The Canfield and Stephens Mill was built in that year on Grand River.  The first white man known to have died in the county was the Mormon elder, William Huntington, which occurred soon after the temporary settlement of Mormons, probably in 1847.  He was buried in the Mormon cemetery at Pisgah.


In 1848 and 1849, the twelve congressional divisions, embracing the present county, were surveyed and mapped by the government.


First Decade, 1850-1860


1850-In the spring, Norman and Joseph Nun, James H. Stark, and W.N. Locke came to the county and were the first permanent white settlers, locating at Pisgah, now Jones township. A post office was established with W.M. Locke as postmaster.  Locke was also named as justice of the peace.  The first white child born in the county, except for Mormons, was Charles Locke in August 1850.  He died in Afton in 1861.  The locating and naming of Union County was completed in this year.  The lands of the county were also put on the market this year by the government in Fairfield on November 9th.


1851---In 1851, several new families settled in the township, namely, Benjamin Lamb, I.P. Lamb, and Alexander Poe.  These with the families who came the previous year, are the pioneers of Union County.  This year a few settlers are Pisgah profited by furnishing supplies for the heavy migration of the California gold seekers, whose route of travel across the state was by the trail, which the Mormons had established.  Henry Peters made the first entry of land in the county, on July 21st of that year.


1852---The town of Petersville was laid out in 1852 by Henry Peters, and the first county election was held here in August1st, the entire county being one township


1853---The first county judge was Norman Nun, elected in 1853.  The first settler of Platte township was Frank Bruning, who located on May 24th.


            The first marriage license in the county was issued August 13th, to Thomas Nun and Sarah Starr. As the county judge could not write, the license was signed by his mark

Norman X Nun.


     The first district court convened at Petersville in the fall of 1853.

     Except among the Mormons, Henry Peters was the first white person to die in the county. His death occurred in December 1853.


1854---The county judge in 1854 was David G. Lowe. The second term district court was held in Petersville in the spring of this year. 


  Asa Ames was the first settler in Grant Township locating in 1854.  Justice Clarke and his brother, Philo, laid out the town of Highland in 1854.

    Isaac Lamb was appointed the first school commissioner of Union County April 20,  1854.  Platte Township was organized June 23, 1854.


     County Order 1, was issued July 3, 1854. It allowed John B. Poe four dollars and fifty cents for assessing Pleasant Township, Union County.


The first tax list was  issued October 7, 1854.  “This is to certify that Amos C. Cooper, county treasurer of Union County, Iowa, has received a tax list of all taxes that were assessed and levied in Union County for the year of 1854, and the said Amos C. cooper, county treasurer, is charged with the said tax list, which amount is one hundred and sixty-two dollars ninety-three cents and seven mills.

                            Signed:   David C. Lowe, county Judge in and for the county of Union.



     The town of Afton was surveyed and platted in the fall of 1854.


   1855---In 1855, James B. Dawson held the office of county judge. The county seat was established at Afton on March 8. The first sale of lots in Afton was on March 20th. 

The first log house was built in Afton in April by David fife.

      County Order No. 44, dated July 25, 1855, shows Samuel Riggs was paid nine dollars for assessing Platte township, which at that time included the present township of Platte, Douglas, Grant and Highland.

     James Lytle came to the county, locating on a farm west of Creston where he established a stage station and post office later known by the name of Lytles Grove.

     1856---On March 15th, the townships of Jones and Dodge were located and named by county Judge James B. Dawson.

     May 20, 1856,  Warrant No. 77, issued to David Fife, three dollars for the use of room to hold District court, April term, A.D. 1856.

     July 4th, First Fourth of July celebration at the town of Highland.


Reuben Madden of Platte Township, built the first log schoolhouse in that part of the county. Madden’s Grove was a part of his farm. The first sermon preached in the new schoolhouse was by Rev. Williams, M.E. The first teacher in the township was Ira Seeley, who taught a summer term and was succeeded by David Bliss for the winter term.


    The first settlers of that date remember that winter as the longest and coldest ever experienced, when nearly all of the deer, which before had been plentiful, perished.


1857---The locating and naming of Highland township took place March 2nd, by John W. Alley, county judge.

     This embraced a much larger territory than the present congressional township of Highland. The first courthouse was built in Afton in the summer of 1857.


     E. Morris Buckley was county clerk in 1857.  Mr. Buckely was a son-in-law of Bishop Onderdonk of Pennsylvania, and came here from Philadelphia.  Mrs. Buckley and Henry Robb organized the first Sunday school ever organized in the county of Highland. Mr. Buckley was appointed minister to Liberia by President Lincoln and died in Africa.


    Estray yoke of Oxen.  Taken up by N.O. Deter, living in Jones Township, Union County, Iowa on the 27th day of October A.D. 1857.  Said oxen described as follows, viz:  eleven or twelve years old last spring, both red—one a deep red, close made, marked with under bit in left ear, some white on belly; the other a pale red, high horns, gimlet hole in each horn, some white on the right side back of his shoulder and on the belly, and white spot on the forehead. Appraised at sixty-five dollars.


1858---Union County Fair Association organized January 30th.  James H. Stark, one of the first settlers, went with his family to California this year.

     February 20th. The county court grants petition of settlers for submission to vote the question of restraining swine and ship from running at late.

     Dodge township was organized in 1858.

     Judge J.W. McDill was the first superintendent of schools in the county with a salary of seventy-five dollars for the first year.


1859---The first newspaper published in the county was the Afton Eagle, in 1859 by Morris and Ryan. It was democratic in politics.