Adel Township History

Excerpt from The History of Dallas County, Iowa, published in 1879 by the Union Historical Company of Des Moines, Iowa

This township occupies the second place from the south and east in the tiers of townships, and is therefore the southeast one of the four central townships in Dallas County.

It is known in the government surveys as congressional township 79, north of range 27, west of the fifth principal meridian.

It was one of the first three electoral precincts formed in the county, as early as 1849, but was then known by the name of Penoach, and after passing through various forms and changes of boundary lines, until the general division of the county was made into precincts, March 5, 1850, when the territory now included in Adel Township constituted a small part of Penoach precinct.

By the general division of the county again into townships, in February, 1857, Adel Township was made to include its present territory with that of Colfax, and a one mile strip off the north side of what is now Adams, and also off the west half of Van Meter. (See previous order, February 2, 1857.)

Nearly two years later the boundaries were extended south to the south line of the county throwing the old territory of 'Coon Township into Adel, and making the latter include what is now Adel, Colfax, Adams and the west half of Van Meter Township, as shown by the following order, made in January, 1859:

Ordered, By the court, that the district of country included in the following limits, shall form, and constitute, the township of Adel, to-wit: Commencing at the northeast corner of township (79) seventy-pine, range (27) twenty-seven; thence west on the township line, dividing (79) seventy-nine and (80) eighty to the northwest corner of township (79) seventy-nine, range (28) twenty-eight; thence south to the southwest corner of said township and range; thence east to the northeast corner of township (78) seventy-eight, range (29) twenty-nine; thence south on the range line to the south line of Dallas County; thence east on the county line to the southeast corner of section (33) thirty-three, township (78) seventy-eight, range (27) twenty-seven; thence north on the said section line to the northwest corner of section (3) three, township (78) seventy-eight, range (27) twenty-seven; thence east to the southeast corner of township (79) seventy-nine, range (27) twenty-seven; thence north on the range line, dividing (26) twenty-six and (27) twenty-seven, to the place of beginning.

No record of any important changes appears in the boundaries of Adel Township, except occasional minor changes of cutting off and adding on different sections, at various times, for school and other purposes, until about ten years after the above date, in January, 1869, when Van Meter, Adams and Colfax Townships were formed into separate organizations, and Adel Township was left in its present form, as bounded by the congressional township lines, and no record appears of any important change since the last mentioned date.

Adel Township is admirably supplied with water, timber, coal, building materials and mill privileges. The North Raccoon River passes through the west side of the township, entering near the northwest corner of section 6, and flowing in a very crooked course down through the township, passing out at the south side on section 33. From near the center of section 18 it runs in a southeasterly course until it reaches nearly the southeast corner of section 21; then bends abruptly and flows southwest to the southeast corner of section 29, just east of Adel, where it turns again quite abruptly to the southeast, and winds on in that direction out of the township. There is a cut-off, called the slough, which leaves .the main branch near the northeast corner of section 19, and runs nearly in a straight course until it intersects the main branch again just east of Adel, above the wagon-bridge, leaving a large island in the bend of the river, cut off by the slough, on which island there are several valuable farms. On the east side of the river Hickory creek flows down from the north and empties into the Raccoon River near the east point of the bend, and a short distance below it Miller's branch flows in from the east. Butler's branch flows in from the west and empties into the slough just above the fair grounds, north of Adel; and other minor streams empty into the river from different localities in the township. All these larger streams are heavily timbered along their borders. Abundance of stone and coal is found along these streams, but no coal mines. of any importance have yet been opened or extensively worked in the township.

A few years ago very strong indications of the existence of iron ore were discovered in sinking a shaft prospecting for coal, near Miller's Branch, but from some cause or other the work of discovering the extent and value of the mine has not been prosecuted any further. The east and northeast part of the township contains plenty of excellent farming land, as also the southwest corner, west of the river, and numerous large and well improved farms are found throughout the township.

There is a comparatively small amount of wild prairie now to be found in Adel Township, and what little there is still unimproved is principally owned by capitalists and land speculators, held at high figures.

Adel Township has the honor of the second settlement in the county being made within its present bounds, and also has both the honor and good fortune of having the county-seat located within its limits.

The first settlement in Adel Township was made by Samuel Miller, March 12, 1846, in what is known as the Miller settlement, a short distance east of Adel; and from which settlement doubtless Miller's Branch derived its name.

Some time in January, 1846, Samuel Miller, W. W. Miller and Eli Smithson came through here prospecting, selected their claims in the Miller settlement, and returned to their former homes. On the 12th day of March, 1846, Samuel Miller returned here with his family, and settled on his claim formerly selected, where he lived for many years.

March 25, 1846, W. W. Miller and family, accompanied by his son John Miller, and his son-in-law, Eli Smithson, and perhaps others, returned here and settled on their claims as before selected, John Miller taking as part of his claim the land on which the county-seat now stands, and afterward relinquished his claim on a quarter section in the interests of the county-seat.

Soon afterward these were joined by others (see early settlement), and before long quite a thriving settlement was formed in the township, which continued for years to grow, perhaps, the most rapidly of any in the county, on account of the location of the county-seat.

The first cabin built in the township was Samuel Miller's, on his claim east of Adel, early in the spring of 1846. The second one was, perhaps, W, W. Miller's cabin, built soon afterward.

The first mill in the township was Samuel Miller's "stump mill," started December 24, 1846, and the first school-house built was the one built by W. W. Miller, as previously described (see early settlement), The first school in the township was taught in this house by S. K. Scovell, during the winter of 1847-8, a three-months' term, at eight dollars per month. It was a private enterprise, at the expense of W. W. Miller, but free to all who desired to send their children. The township now has seven school houses, besides the two graded schools at Adel and Dallas Center.

The first post-office established in the township was probably the one established at Penoach, with J. C. Corbell as postmaster. There are now two in the township, Adel and Dallas Center.

The first sermon preached in the township was either by Thomas Butler or Elder Castel, at a very early day.

The first congregation organized in the township was also the first one organized in the county, that one organized by Elder John P. Glenn, at the school-house of W. W. Miller, in May, 1847, which was the origin of the Christian church now of Adel, in a re-organized form (see sketch under town of Adel). The township now has five or six churches within its bounds.

Many of the first incidents of importance occurring in Adel township, like those also of Boone and Van Meter townships, are the same as those occurring first in the county. A few in each township have been herein repeated, simply to give some idea of the first settlements and improvements in each. To attempt to follow these events up fully, would be unsatisfactory either for the writer or reader, as it is now impossible to get all the various incidents, names and dates correctly.

Adel Township has two good towns, one near the southwest, and the other near the northeast corner of the township.

Adel, the county-seat, is located on sections 29 and 32, on the west bank of the North Raccoon River, and is the oldest town in the township and county, being laid out in 1847, and is also the largest, having now some 1200 inhabitants.

Dallas Center is located on the north half of section 2, a station on the Des Moines & Ft. Dodge R. R., between twenty and twenty-five miles from Des Moines. It was laid out in May, 1869, and has between five and six hundred inhabitants. (See sketches.)

Adel Township also has two railroads, making both the towns within its bounds, railroad towns.

The D. M. & Ft. D. R. R. crosses the northeast corner of the township, entering at the east side, on section 13, and passing out at the north side on section 2, thus cutting off about two sections of land to the northeast.

The Des Moines, Adel & Western R. R., running from Waukee to Adel, extends through the south part of the township, entering the east side of the township near the southeast corner of section 25, and extending nearly due west to Adel, which is as far as it is now completed, though the new railroad bridge is now under contract and process of construction, and will be completed before spring, when the road will doubtless be extended on to Redfield and Panora, Guthrie County. This is Adel Township's pet railroad, of which it is justly proud, and especial1y the enterprising citizens of Adel for the energy and liberality and enterprise they have displayed in putting it thus far under headway, and their untiring perseverance in laboring to push it on through as surveyed and graded.

The township also has one water-power grist mill, situated on the banks of the slough cut-off, just northeast of the town of Adel. This mill was built by J. H. Strong, now of Des Moines, and H. H. Moffatt, in 1856-7, at a cost of about $20,000, but would now, perhaps, not cost half that amount. It is now owned by Noeinger & Cantrel. (See sketch, Ade1.)

Within the township also are two other mills situated at Dallas Center, one steam grist mill, owned by R. Roberts, and a planing mill owned by C. Rathbun & Son.

The township also has three good bridges built by the county, one east of Adel, and two north of Adel; besides one situated nearly on the township line between this and Sugar Grove Township, which may be claimed by both. These are all frame bridges, and the most of them, if not all, were built by Jonathan Peppard.

There are also numerous large fruit farms in this township, among which may be mentioned that of Benjamin Greene adjoining the town of Adel on the south, known as the old Ira Sherman farm. Mr. Greene has something over thirty acres of an orchard, well filled with thrifty trees, mostly bearing, and of various and choice varieties; also quite an extensive vineyard, well kept and fruitful, the vines of which were beautiful1y laden with choice grapes during the past years.

Ezra Vail Fossen also has an extensive and valuable orchard, about a mile southwest of Adel, of about the same size and character as that of Mr. Greene. And throughout the township, especially in the older settlements, the farmers are becoming well supplied with all kinds of tame fruits of their own raising.

The first election held in the limits of the township, occurred April 5, 1847, at the house of W. W. Miller, that being one of the polling places of the first election held in the county; and for a long time Penoach was the voting place for the entire county.

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