Carroll County IAGenWeb
History Journal

Historical Timeline 1851- 1873 of Carroll County, Iowa

From County establishment until a few years after the railroad arrived.

Note: Reports from various documented sources do not necessarily agree. They are reported here as reported in the source cited by, listed at the end of the timeline.

Carroll County established, attached to Polk County. [1]



Carroll county attached to Shelby County. Still no white settlement. [1]

The first settlement in the county was made on section 2, township 84, range 33 (now Glidden Township). [1]

In 1854, Obediah Niles, came from Michigan. He purchased 200 acres of land from the government and the tract included almost all of the present town site (Coon Rapids-1963). He built a log house on the present (1963) funeral home location. The nearest railroad was in Des Moines. [2]

The first mill in the area (of Coon Rapids) came by boat from Pittsburg to Keokuk in 1854. From there by a small boat to Des Moines and then by team to Carroll County. It was wet up and operated on the present (1963) Winnett farm by Albert Brutsche (he came to Carroll Co in 1856). The mill burned in 1859; a loss of $8,000. [2]

The Carrollton Cemetery was the first cemetery established in Carroll County, in 1854. It was founded at the end of a trail. A little girl died and her parents buried her there. Her name was Eliza G. Ferguson. She was 1 year, 2 months, and 17 days old. Her parents were Isaac and Meria S. Ferguson. [3]

February 14, Carroll County is attached to Guthrie County. [1]

July 16, the county judge of Guthrie County, James Henderson, orders Soloman Loomis, of Carroll Township, Carroll County, to hold an election at the house of Henry Coplin, in Carroll Township (now on section 12, township 84, range 34 - now Grant township), to choose: county judge, treasurer and recorder, clerk of district court, prosecuting attorney, county surveyor, drainage commissioner, sheriff and coroner. [1]

Population of the county estimated to be less than one hundred and the number of voters about thirty. [1]

The first Monday of August, 1855, was a very hot day, so the election was held outside. A hat of O. J. Niles was laid on a large log under the tree for the men to drop their ballots in. [3]

The first county officers elected were:
County Judge - A. J. Cain
Clerk of District Court - Levi Thompson
Treasurer and Recorder - James White
Surveyor - Robert Lloyd
Prosecuting Attorney - L. McCurdy
Sheriff - J.Y. Anderson. [1][3]

September 3, 1855, the first deed was made by Thomas Ford to Nancy Ford, for the east half of section 17, township 85, range 33, and acknowledged by A. J. Cain, county judge. [1]

September 16, 1855, the first marriage license was granted to Joseph Ford and Sarah Ochempaugh. [1] The Judge tied the knot one year and one week later - on September 23, 1856. [3] [1]

Deceber 3, first order of Judge Cain: "James White was allowed $4 for hauling the laws of Iowa for Carroll County from Iowa City to Carroll County." Further ordered: James White allowed $12.50 as salary, treasurer and recorder; A. J. Cain, $12.50 as county judge; Levi Thompson, $16.00 as clerk. [1]

December 18, "The County of Carroll bought of S. A. Walker, Fort Des Moines, four plats, as follows: No. 82, 83, 84, 85 north, of range 33 west; at $2.50 each."[1]

February 4, Cain, Thompson and White were each allowed $12.50 on account of salary. [1]

Spring. The county was divided into two townships - Newton and Jasper. Elections were held in each:
Newton: judges of election were Thomas McCrudy, Robert Morris and Benjamin Tellor.
Clerks, Robert Floyd and Cyrus Babbitt.
Jasper: the judges were Levi Thompson, Robert Dickson and Enos Butrick. Clerk, James G. Anderson. [1]

In the Spring of 1856, the first school in the county of Carroll was taught at Carrollton by Jane L. Hill (Her name was McCurdy, before she married Robert Hill, who was the county supervisor for many years. [3]). Outside of that village, there were few schools taught before the era of progress which immediately succeeded the building of the Northwestern Railroad. [1] The second teacher was T. B. Aldrich, who later married a daughter of Judge Price. [3]

April 7, a petition was presented to the county judge asking for appointment of commissioners to select a site for the county seat. This was signed by the following twenty persons, nearly all the legal voter of the county at the time:
Thomas T. Morris
George W. Tellor
Henry Coplin
Robert Dickson
Levi Thompson
A. J. Cain
Enos Butrick
David Butrick
O. J. Niles
S. L. Loomis
Benjamin Tellor
Thomas McCurdy
Robert Morris
David Vance
Robert Floyd
Conrad Geiselhart
Edward Smith
Cyrus R. Babbitt
Cyrus Rhoades
Jacob Davis. [1]

April 14, Judge E. H. Sears, of the Sixth Judicial District, then including Carroll County, appointed as such commissioners William L. Henderson, Esq. of Guthrie County, John Purdy, Esq. of Crawford County, and Dr. S. M. Ballard, of Audubon County. They were directed to perform their duty within two months. Dr. Ballard failed to act, but the two others were sworn June 4, and on the 6th of June made their report. [1]

June 6, Commissioners Henderson and Purdy chose to "...locate the permanent county seat on the north fractional half of the northeast quarter of section 1 in township 82 north, of range 34 west of the fifth principal meridian, and on the south half of the southeast quarter of section 36 in township 83 north, of range 34 west of the fifth principal meridian, and on which the town of Carrollton is now laid out, and also such additional territory as may be donated on either side of the premises aforesaid, or that may be purchased by the proper authorities of said county at any time, and added thereto without limit." [1]

The first county seat, in Carrollton, was built on land donated to the county by the real estate firm of Lease and Harsh of Des Moines. [3]

In the summer of 1856, Andrew Powell from Panora bought a lot and erected the first store house in Carrollton. It was the only building erected on the town plat that year. [3]

The census of Carroll County in 1856 was taken by the assessors of the two townships and showed the total population to be 251. [1] Carrollton had a population of 119, with 23 heads of family. The occupations varied from 28 farmers; 4 manteau makers (women cloak); 1 millwright; l engineer; 1 brick layer; l miller; 1 carpenter; 1 tailor; 1 blacksmith; and 1 machinist. [3]

Summer, the first case of pauperism occurred, when Dr. J. P. Miller, was allowed $24 for attending one John Salsbery, and Enos Butrick contracted with the county to care for him at $2 a week as long as he was sick. Dr. Miller was afterward allowed $50 additional. [1]

Dr. James P. Miller, who was the pioneer physician of Greene County, and lived in the country, north of the present site of Scranton, provided the first settlers of Carroll County with medical assistance. [1] Dr. Miller's stock consisted of calomel, aloes, Dover's powder, castor oil, julep and Peruvian bark. He carried these in his saddle bag for he practiced up and down the Coon River Valley for 50 miles. His horse's name was "Charlie." Dr. Miller's pay was usually chunks of meat or furs or whatever the people could give, as money was scarce. Sometimes his call was answered with just "thanks."[3]

Robert Floyd was allowed $3.50 for surveying the blocks in the town of Carrolton. S. L. Loomis was allowed $1 for dividing the blocks into lots. [1] Names of some of the streets were State, Coplin, Niles, Loomis, Locust, Sycamore, Maple, Elm and Linden. [3]

August 5, by mutual agreement, county officers were owed: A. J. Cain, $19.25; James Anderson, $5.00; Levi Thompson, $12.50. [1]

Cyrus R. Babbitt was allowed $34.00 for assessing Newton Township. The first tax levy made was after the organization of the county in 1856: 1 1/4 mills for State tax; 6 mills for county tax; 1 mill for school tax; 3 mills for road tax; poll tax, $2.00; county poll tax, 50 cents. [1]

The first law prohibiting the running at large of hogs and sheep was passed in 1856 by a vote of 27 to 6. [1]

Among those arriving in the county in 1856:
Lafayette McCurdy
Amos Basom
Wesley H. Blizzard
Uriah Gibson
William H. Teitsort
N. H. Powers
J. H. Watson
William Gilley
William Ochampaugh
Simon Ochampaugh. [1]

The proceeds of the sale of lots in Carrollton, belonging to the county, were loaned at interest for a time. Samuel L. Loomis borrowed $262.50; Thomas McCurdy, $190; Robert Morris, $25. [1]

June 8, order of L. McCurdy, County Judge: "License was granted this day by the county court to Samuel L. Loomis to peddle dry goods, fancy notions and patent medicines throughout the State of Iowa, for three months from this date, and he has paid twelve dollars and fifty cents for the use of the State of Iowa, which entitles him to use two or three animals in transporting his merchandise." [1]

James Y. Anderson assessed the whole of Carroll County in 1857, and received therefor $125. The taxes for the year amounted to $3,505.17 [1]

March 1, James Thorington, of Washington, D. C., was appointed as agent, with power of attorney to select and secure to the county of Carroll all swamp lands belonging to said county by act of Congress passed September 28, 1850. [1]

April 6, County Judge Morris appointed Robert Hill and Noah Titus surveyors to select the swamp lands in Carroll County. Hill was assigned the townships in ranges 33 and 35, and Titus those in ranges 34 and 36. [1]

Robert Hill was shortly after (April 6) allowed $5 for furnishing plans and specifications for a court-house. (Comments in the history suggest that) This Hill, ... was an odd character, ... his method of surveying was to tie a handkerchief on a wagon wheel, and then count the revolutions of the wheel. [1]

Of the swamp land surveys in this county, not any outside of range 33 were ever approved. [1]

By 1857, in Carrollton, there were rail fences and willow hedges, patches of corn and fields of grain. It was no longer possible to drive across lots to the nearest neighbors. Towns and roads were beginning to take shape. Men paid their poll taxes by working on the roads and keeping them in repair. [3]

May 3, 1858, the first estate administered upon was Wesley H. Blizzard. First administrator appointed was James H. Colclo. [1]

A mail route was established in 1858 between Panora and Sioux City, with intermediate offices at Carrollton and Denison. [1]

November 23, 1858, the first district court was held by Hon. M. F. Moore, district judge. the first grand jury were: Cornelius Higgins, Benjamin Teller, Matthew Borders, Leafayette McCurdy, Crockett Ribble, Robert Morris, William Short, Robert Dickinson, Elijah Puckett, Cyrus Rhoades, James Colclo, David Scott, David Frazier, Samuel Lyon and Amos Basom. James Colclo was appointed foreman. First case on docket was Nehemiah Powers and John Watson vs. Cornelius Higgins. Noah Titus was the first person licensed to practice law in the county. [1]

December 13, the last official act of Judge T. T. Morris was to settle with H. L. Youtz, administrator of the estate of Nelson B. Moore, who had taken the contract for building the court-house at Carrolltown. In this settlement the county paid $818, and took the responsibility of finishing the building, which was unpainted and unplastered. [1]

The population stood at 250. [1]

Judge Morris was succeded by Judge William Shriner in January, 1860. At the close of business of that year (1860), the general government of county affairs was taken from the county judge, who was left in charge of only probate matters, and given to a Board of Supervisors. [1]

The population stood at 281. [1] See 1860 Census on Index Page

January 6, the first Board of Supervisors met and organized, and consisted of Crockett Ribble (chariman) and Jacob Cretsinger (one for each township). [1]

The first act of the Board of Supervisors was to pass the following resolution: "Resolved, that the clerk be authorized to issue orders upon the certificate of either member of the Board when such certificate is given for any ordinary township business or matters which do not directly interest the county, and also to issue orders upon certificate for scalps of animals without adtion of the Board." [1]

The second act of the Board of Supervisors was to authorize the clerk to sell at auction the supplying of wood for the clerk's office, and the third was to appoint Amos Basom and Levi Higgins justices of the peace. This was all the business transacted at the January term. [1]

At the April session of the Board of Supervisors, besides the allowance of of bills, orders were passed authorizing the clerk to buy fuel, lights, stationery, etc.; fixing the legal day "for supervisors, clerks and other county officers whose pay is by the day at six hours constant and diligent labor"; appointed William H. Price judge of probate for the unexpired term of Judge Shriner; allowing the clerk $2 a day for actual work, and appointing Robert Hill agent of the county to procure the swamp lands belonging to the county from the Government, and fixing his compensation a 1 per cent of the proceeds of the sale of said lands. [1]

In 1861, a man named Winfred bought land and started to build a mill on the Raccoon River but work was suspended by the Civil War. [2]

In 1861 a man named Winfred bought five acres on the river for a mill-site, and started to improve the same. The settlers were so enthusiastic over the prospect of a mill in their vicinity that they held their Fourth of July celebration that year on the proposed mill-site. [1]

At the June session of the Board of Supervisors, the tax levy was fixed as follows: For State purposed, one and one-half mills; for county purposes, four mills; for schools, two mills; poll tax, fifty cents; for school-house purposes in sub-district No. 2 in Jasper Township school, five mills; same in sub-district No. 1, five mills; for contingent expenses in sub-district No. 2, Newton Township, one mill. This meeting occurred during the first glow of enthusiasm which was aroused in the loyal North by the call of President Lincoln for volunteer soldiers to suppress the slave-holders' rebellion, and although the population of Carroll County ws only about 250, and recruiting could not be carried on on a very extensive scale, still the citizens were too patriotic to make no outward show of loyalty. This reflection will explain the following entry on the records of the Board, though it reads oddly enough at this time:
"A petition was numerously signed praying to the Supervisors to appropriate the sum of $25.00, or as much as would be needed, to purchase a flag, drums and fife; and the same was granted and the clerk ordered to issue a warrant for the same." [1]

With Lincoln's call for loyal volunteers for the war, Winfred's men deserted his service (in building the mill) for that of the government, and work was suspended on the mill. (in 1863 Crockett Ribble, County Treasurer, bought the site and commenced to improve it, with financial assistance from the county).[1]

In January, Mr. Ribble retired from the Board of Supervisors, and Levi Higgins (chairman) took his place, the other member being Mr. Cretsinger. Mr. Ribble was appointed swamp land agent in the place of Robert Hill. [1]

In April, the Board of Supervisors desided to allow each family , a member of which had gone to the war, $25. This sum was at once paid to Jacob Davis, Mrs. S. A. Davis, John Monroe, Amos Rhoades and Cyrus Rhoades. [1]

In October, the Board of Supervisors paid the $25 war bounty to R. Haney and James F. McLuen. [1]

The Board of Supervisors was increase to three members, with the addition of Union Township. These three were Jacob Cretsinger (chairman), Levi Higgins, and William Short. Mr. Higgins resigned, and Enos Butrick was appointed to fill his place. William Carter succeeded Mr. Butrick at the September session.[1]

In February, The Board of Supervisors gave Crockett Ribble the contract for building a saw and grist-mill at Nile's Grove (Coon Rapids). This was the first mill in the county, and it is said that the county issued some $6,000 of warrants on its account. [1] In 1863, Carroll County let the contract to build a saw and grist mill at Coon Rapids and voted $6,000 bonds for the purpose of building a log and earthen dam. In 1864, a man named Lamm built the saw mill and in 1865 Crockett Ribble came in and built the first grist mill. [2]

In 1863 Crockett Ribble, County Treasurer, bought the (mill) site (from Winfred) and commenced to improve it, with financial assistance from the county (in Coon Rapids information). A Mr. Frizzell set up a store to supply the men with tobacco and other "necessaries," and John J. McCollum stated a blacksmith shop. [1]

Town of Coon Rapids incorporated. [2]

In this year (1863), the county sold to the American Emigrant Company 21, 840 acres of swamp land selected by Franklin H. Whitney. All the county received in return was $3,500 in money, and the promise of a certain number of immigrants. This transaction has not been regarded as at all credible to the county, in the light of subsequent history, and it is small consolation to know that other counties suffered in the same way. The titles to much of this land were long in dispute, and the result was a hinderance to the development of the county's resources. [1]

December 8, 1863, Union Township was erected, in the following resolution: "Resolved, That there be a new township set off from the east end of Newton Township, bounded..."

The population stood at 297. [1]

The Board of Supervisors consisted of Jacob Cretsinger (chairman), Enos Butrick and George Monroe. Jacob Cretsinger resigned during this year, and J. M. Cretsinger was appointed to fill the vacancy. [1]

(see 1863) ... a man named Lamm built the saw mill... (near Coon Rapids) [2]

The Board of Supervisors consisted of John J. McCollum (chairman), George Ribble, and G. H. Shutes. [1]

(see 1863)... and in 1865 Crockett Ribble came in and built the first grist mill (near Coon Rapids). [2]

William Minnich bought land in 1865 and laid out a town (the original Coon Rapids, before the railroad arrived there). He built a house to rent as a store, the first occupants of which were Shoemaker & Endicott. [1]

Dr. Thomas Elwood, later (moved in 1878 [3])of Glidden, located at Carrollton, and to him belongs the honor of being the first resident medical practitioner in Carroll County. [1]

The population stood at 400. [1]

The Board of Supervisors consisted of John J. McCollum (chairman), George Ribble, and G. H. Shutes. [1]

The Chicago & Northwestern railroad was built in 1866 and 1867, passing through this county in 1867. [1]

The Board of Supervisors consisted of John Monroe (chairman), G. H. Shutes, and E. B. Smith. [1]

Dr. Elwood was issued the first liquor permit in 1867 for medicinal, mechanical, culinary, and sacramental purposes, in quantities less than 5 gallons - also malt liquors as a beverage. [3]

The Methodist church began in Coon Rapids in 1867 when Rev. Mershon, a local preacher, organized a "class." Services were held in the homes of the community. [2]

As nearly as can be determined, the Church of Christ was established in 1866 or 1867 by a teacher who lived in Coon Rapids and held services every month. [2]

Three more townships were added, Carroll, Glidden, and Sheridan, and the number of members of the Board of Supervisors was increased to six, until 1870. [1]

The Chicago & Northwestern railroad was built in 1866 and 1867, passing through this county in 1867. [1] The townships crossed in Carroll County, with mileage in each, are: Glidden, 6.150; Grant, 5.000; Carroll, 7.635; Arcadia, 6.625. The stations, with distances in miles from Chicago, are: Glidden, 388; Carroll, 395; Maple River Junction, 399; Arcadia, 405. [1]

The railroad company laid out the town (to be called Carroll) in August, 1867, at first calling it "Carroll City," and at the next election the people voted to remove the county seat from Carrollton to this place, by a vote of 88 to 30. (The records were removed in May, 1868). [1]

The first building (in Carroll) was erected by the railroad construction company as a supply house for the men, in 1867. When the field of active work was removed farther west on the line, and the building being useless to the company, it was sold to William Gilley, who rented it to the county for sixteen months at $50 per month. It was here that the county offices and records were kept until the court-house was built. (It stood on lot 3, block 22, and was finally burned in the great fire of 1879). [1]

The population stood at 688. [1]

James E. Griffith, the first resident attorney of Carroll, appears to date from 1868. In the same year, Orlando H. Manning, who studied law with Messrs. Russell & Head, at Jefferson, came to Carroll, and practiced continuously for many years. [1]

O. H. Manning began printing at Jefferson a paper called the Carroll Enterprise. [1]

Some of the citizens of Carroll clubbed together, bought a press, and employed J. F. H. Sugg to publish the Western Herald, which rendered useless the further existence of the Enterprise. [1]

Edward Garst came on horseback to Coon Rapids. As a result of the trip... (see 1869). [2]

Carroll Lodge, No. 274, I. O. O. F., was organized in 1868.

In 1868, just after the laying of the Cedar Rapids & Missouri River Railroad (now Northwestern) through this county, the Iowa Railroad Land Company contracted with Lambert Kniest for the latter to settle fifty families in the township which now bears his name (85 north, 35 west). Mr. Kniest was then city collector of Dubuque. Senator George W. Jones recommended Mr. Kniest to the land company as being eminently fitted to perform this difficult work. He went speedily to work, and came out to this county with twenty-six families. Others came subsequently, and in three weeks less than the year which limited the agreement the fifty families were located. So anxious was he at the last that he gave the land to two families. Mr. Kniest acted as agent for the land company in selling all of the land in Kniest Township. Most of the immigrants he secured were from Dubuque County, this state, and from Grant County, Wisconsin. This was the beginning of the German settlement of the county, and in due time Wheatland, Arcadia, Washington, Roselle and other townships were settled up, largely by the same thrifty people. There are a number of Irish in the county, mostly from LaSalle, Stephenson, Ogle and other counties in Illinois. [1]

The oldest bank in the county is the Bank of Carroll, which was opened in 1868 by O. H. Manning. [1]

Edward Garst, as a result of his trip to Coon Rapids, in 1868, brought to town the remnants of his store in Boone and opened a general store in partnership with Crockett Riddle, a distant relative who came to Coon Rapids in 1865. [2]

Carroll had gained sufficient population in the autumn of 1869 to warrant its incorporation. This step was accordingly taken, and the council held its first meeting November 20 of that year. The officers of the town at that time were: Mayor, I. N. Griffith; Recorder, B. B. Terry; Trustees, John W. King, D. Wayne, L. C. Bailey, F. E. Dennett and William N. Boots; Marshal, Thomas Basler; Treasurer, J. E. Griffith; Attorney, O. H. Manning. [1]

The first school building at Carroll ws erected in 1868. It was 40 x 40 feet in size, two stories in height, and contained four rooms. (It was used until 1880, and then torn down). [1]

Signet Lodge, No. 264, A. F. & A. M., was organized at Carroll, July 27, 1869. [1]

The population stood at 1,450. [1]

In March, 1870, the county was visited by a blizzard which was always spoken of afterwards by the settlers as "The Big Storm." One story involved nine men who had gone from Hillsdale the morning of the storm to Carroll. They comprised the entire male population of what is now (1931) Roselle Township, with the exception of two old men. The men had gone in three sleds: Sam Todd, Joe James and Joe Mathias in one; Bussey and Coppage in another; and Horn Ashelberger and two young men by the name of Bruner, in the third sled. They had four horses and were taking in a load of sacked wheat. When the storm started, they all headed home, but not together. The storm lasted until the afternoon of the third day, and the temperature had been 35 degrees below zero for almost thirty-six hours. Five of the nine men made it home. Horn and Ashelberger were found frozen near their sled. The Bruner boys had tried to make it on their own, but, were found dead along the mail road, a mile apart. (Excerpt from Pioneer Memories, as told by F. M. Carpenter, published in the Coon Rapids Enterprise on May 8, 1931). [3]

The Carroll County Bank was established in 1870 by W. T. Minchen. [1]

E. M. Betzer located in Carroll in 1870, and practiced law when not employed in some one fo the county offices. [1]

Signet Lodge, No. 264, A. F. & A. M., was chartered at Carroll, June 6, 1870. [1]

Rev. George R. Carroll organized the Presbyterian church at this place August 28, 1870, with five members - L. McCurdy and wife, W. H. Tibbils and wife, and Mrs. Kelsey. (A brick church was built in 1875, which was destroyed by the memorable fire of 1879. [1]

The outfit of the Enterprise was sold to O. H. Manning. E. R. Hastings became editor and publisher September 28, 1870, and March 29, 1871, the name was changed by dropping "Western" (from Western Hearld - see 1868). [1]

In 1870, Carrollton consisted of two blacksmith shops, the United Brethren Church, a grocery store, a dry goods store, a shoemaker's shop, an implement shop, post office, saloon, the town hall (Woodman's), the two-story schoolhouse, carpenter shop, the courthouse, two hotels, a telephone switchboard, a dressmaker shop and Dr. Towne's office. The telephone had direct connections with Glidden, Dedham, and Coon Rapids. [3]

The population stood at 2,451. [1]

The township system was abolished and the Board of Supervisors reduced to three members. [1]

A Congregational Society was formed in Carroll in 1871, and incorporated in 1872. [1]

The Congregational Society in Carroll was incorporated. [1]

During 1872 and 1873 a church was built by the Congregational Society at the cost of $2,300. Rev. J.W. Pickett was the organizer and first pastor. [1]

The Methodist church in Carroll was built in 1873 at a cost of #3,500.

The Board of Supervisors was increased to five. [1]

The county population stood at 3,601. [1]



[1] Biographical and Historical Record of Carroll County, Iowa, 1887; as reprinted by the Carroll County Genealogical Society, 1997.
[2] Coon Rapids Centennial Bulletin, 100 Years Proud, 1863-1963.
[3] Carrollton History-Cookbook, Carrollton Community Club, 1897-1997.

Prepared & contributed by William L. Smith.

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