Redfield History

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

This town is situated on section 4, township 78, range 29, and is among the oldest towns in Dallas county. It is near the north line of Union township, and has a beautiful location on a hill facing the south, and is sheltered on, the north by a belt of heavy timber.

The Middle Raccoon river passes a few rods to the west of it, and the junction of the South and Middle Raccoon rivers is only about a mile south of Redfield, leaving a beautiful valley or plane to the south of the town site, extending to Wiscotta, while this is surrounded by a range of high hills and bluffs on the opposite side of the rivers, thus affording some beautiful natural scenery, and making the location of Redfield one of the most beautiful town sites in the county, or surrounding country. The numerous coal-beds and excellent water-power near it afford fine opportunities for manufactories of various kinds, and these natural advantages doubtless will be utilized before many years. There are several good mills now in that vicinity, and one large mill just west of the town, known as the Redfield Mill. The accounts of these mills are given under the history of Union township.

The town has no railroad yet, but now has strong prospects of the Des Moines, Adel & Western Railroad being in running order to the place before another year is past, which will develop the natural advantages of the place, and give new energy and confidence to the citizens.

The road is already for the most part graded from Adel to Redfield, and if it is pushed on through there to Panora, Guthrie county, Redfield is destined to make a very desirable point on the line for market and manufacturing.

The land on which the town of Redfield now stands was formerly owned by the Cavenaugh brothers, and before them, perhaps part of it was owned by David Daily who was the first settler in that section of country, and part of his original claim on section 4: is now included in the town plat. But, as before stated, in 1850, Patrick Thomas and Michael Cavenaugh came in and not only purchased the claim of David Daily on section 4:, but also entered a large tract of land adjoining it, and in 1852 or 1853 they laid out the town of New Ireland on the present site of Redfield. A few years afterward they sold the entire tract of land, town site and all to Redfield and Moore. The town received its present name in honor of Col. James Redfield, who had become the principal owner of the land adjoining, as also of much of the town property.

The town was surveyed and platted by O. D. Smalley, then county surveyor, and the first settlers in the town were, perhaps, the Cavenaughs. On lot 8, block 2, just east of the present site of the Iowa House, the Cavenaughs built a hewed-log house, 18x24 feet, story and a-half high, which was doubtless the first house built in the town. This house was considered somewhat extra in those days, being well built, of good oak logs, and it was the scene of a good many jolly housewarmings and frolics among the first settlers.

This house was finally sold, some twelve or thirteen years ago, to Mr. Morse, who moved it out on the prairie near Greenevale, in Linn township, where it was used for some time as a dwelling house. The Cavenaughs also built a saw-mill, on the present site of the Redfield mill, at an early day.

The first stores were built and opened by Thomas Campbell and Macy B. Maulsby. Campbell's was on lot 5, block 1, where Scott & Maulsby's store now stands, and Maulsby's was located on lot 8, block 1, where the harness shop now is.

These buildings were among the first erected in town, and a general stock of goods was kept for sale by each firm. In 1858 there were only five or six houses in the town, but during the few following years they increased quite rapidly.

At the August term of county court, 1860, a petition was granted changing the name New Ireland to that of Redfield, which it now bears, as is shown by the following copy of the original petition as found on file in the Auditor's office:


PETITION FOR CHANGE OF } In the County Court of Dallas County, Iowa, August

Be it remembered that on the 17th day of May, A. D. 1860, Macy B. Maulsby and others filed in the office of the County Judge of Dallas county, Iowa, their petition praying for a change of the name of the town of New Ireland, in said county, to the name of Redfield, and the court being satisfied that a majority of the actual voters of the said town of New Ireland are in favor of such change, and three notices having been posted up, by order of said County Court, in three of the most public places in the said town for at least thirty days prior to the present term of the County Court of said county, to-wit: the August term, A. D. 1860, notifying the voters of said town that a petition has been presented to the said County Court by the citizens of said town praying for a change of the name of the said town from New Ireland to the name of Redfield, and that unless those interested in the change of said name shall appear at the next regular term of said court and show cause why said name shall not be changed, there will be a decree rendered granting such change, and the said hearing upon said petition, having been continued from the July term of this court to the August term thereof,

Now, therefore, be it remembered that at the August term of the County Court of said county, on the second day of said term, to-wit: on the 7th day of August, A. D. 1860, this cause came up for final hearing, and the court being fully advised in the matter, and being satisfied that there is still a majority of the actual resident voters of said town in favor of said change of said name of said town, it is therefore:

Ordered, And adjudged and decreed by this court that the change prayed for in said petition be granted, and is hereby

Ordered, Adjudged and decreed by the court that the name of the town of New Ireland, in the county of Dallas and State of Iowa, be, and the same is hereby, changed to the name of the town of Redfield, and that the petitioners pay the costs of this proceeding.

In witness whereof, I, Henry Thornburgh, Judge of the County Court of Dallas county, State of Iowa, have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of said County Court. Done at Adel, in said county, in open court, this 7th day of August; A. D. 1860.

County Judge of Dallas County, Iowa.

COLE NOEL, Clerk, by J. PERKINS, Deputy.


The following is a list of the business firms in Redfield, at the beginning of the year 1879, as nearly as we can ascertain:

Dry Goods.-Scott & Maulsby, S. S. Harmon & Son, each keeps a mixed stock and general assortment.

Groceries.-John Puffer, groceries and notions.

Drug Store.-Dr. R. H. Rust, proprietor lot 3, block 5. Shoemaker.-Aaron Robbins, lot 6, block 5, Redfield addition.

Milliner Shop.-Mrs. R. D. McLucas, lot 6, block 2.

Tinner.-H. C. Overstreet, lot 4, block 2.

Harness-makers.-Charles B. Lamb, Edward E. Thomas, both on lot 8, block 1.

Furniture Store.-Mahlon O. Thomas, proprietor, lot 7, block 5, Redfield addition.

Art Gallery.-N. J. Tice, artist, lot 1, block 3, Redfield addition.

Lawyer.-Ira A. Smith, attorney and counselor.

Physicians.-Drs. R. H. Rust (also druggist), Macy B. Maulsby and John O. Caldwell.

Meat-market.-R. M. Finicum, proprietor lot 7, block 5, Redfield addition.

Wagon-makers.-J. H. Armfield & Son, lot 5, block 5, Redfield addition.

Blacksmiths.-J. H. Carter; Belles & Harmon; Moses Mills-all on block 5, Redfield addition.

Hotels.-Indiana Hotel, Henry O. Browning, proprietor, lot 4, block 5; Iowa House, W. H. H. Brown, proprietor, lot 8, block 2.


     The post-office is located on lot 6, block 5, Redfield addition, Mr. Mahlon C. Thomas, postmaster. He also keeps a general news depot and notion store in connection with the office.

This post-office was established at an early day, and was first called McKay post-office, but was afterward moved to Wiscotta, about 1858, and went by the name of Wiscotta post-office for some time after the office was moved back to Redfield, until in August, 1860, when it received the new name of Redfield post-office, which it still retains.

Ira A. Smith was the postmaster all the time the office was at Wiscotta. Mr. M. O. Thomas, the deservedly popular postmaster and citizen, has retained the position for some time, and was among the early settlers in Redfield. To him, W. H. H. Brown, I. D. Redfield and others, we are indebted, in a great measure, for the particulars regarding the early settlement and business matters of the town.


The Christian church have a neat frame building in the northeast part of town, situated on block 4:, Hain's addition, built some years ago, and comfortably fitted up for purposes of public worship, it being the only church building in the town. Elder O. H. Derry is their present pastor, and has just lately commenced his labors among them.

We are unable to give a sketch of this church, as the necessary items regarding it were not furnished us.

The Methodist Episcopal church have a small organization in town, and occasional services, but no church building. Rev. Mumford is their pastor, who includes this organization with others in his charge. They hold services generally in the Christian church.

Rev. Alvin Chase, a "Newlight" minister is also a resident of the town, and preaches occasionally at different points.


The public school-house is a frame two-story building, about 30x4:0 feet, situated on lots 1, 2 and 3, block 17, in the northeast part of town.

It was built in 1867, at a cost of about $3,200.

There are two large rooms in the building, one in each story, and two teachers are employed.

Principal-Miss Ida Twichell; Assistant-Miss Maggie Mitchell.

About 85 pupils are in average attendance, and the school is in a prosperous condition, and is well sustained by the citizens.


Wiscotta Lodge, No. 158, A. F. &: A. M.- The Charter for the organization of this Lodge was granted June 8, 1860, and the following are the names of the Charter members, as kindly furnished us by T. O. Chance, W. M.:. J. W. McPherson, Abe Smith, Collen Marshall, John Puffer, M. J. Marshall, T. E. Harbour, J. M. McLucas, Wm. Thornburg, Elwood Linley, M. L. Mills, E. A. Barnett, and Ira Barnett.

The first officers of the Lodge were: J. W. McPherson, W. M.; Collen Marshall, S. W.; John Puffer, J. W.

The present officers are: Thomas C. Chance, W. M.; John H. Mills, S. W.; Thomas Hoyt, J. W.

The membership at present numbers fifty-nine, and there are eight whose dues are remitted by reason of old age.

They have a good hall of their own, well fitted up, in which they hold their regular meetings Saturday evenings on or before the full moon in each month.

This is one of the early chartered lodges in Dallas county.


Col. James Redfield was born in the State of New York in the year 1824. He graduated at Yale College in 1845, when about twenty-one years of age, and was for sometime afterward clerk in the office of the Secretary of State, at Albany, New York. In 1855 he came to this State, and settled as above described in Dallas county, purchasing the large tract of land and site of New Ireland (now Redfield) from the Cavenaughs, in connection with his brother and Mr. Moore, who afterward became his father-in-law; and together they accumulated a large amount of valuable property.

Colonel Redfield married Miss Achsah Moore, May 7, 1856, and lived in Wiscotta for a number of years as a highly respected and valuable citizen. He was a great public benefactor, a man of more than ordinary energy and enterprise, and is most highly spoken of by those who knew him. He was popular, and figured prominently in the public affairs of the county, receiving several important offices and positions of public trust, by the popular vote during his residence in Dallas county. In the fall of 1861 he was elected State Senator from the senatorial district comprising Dallas, Adair, Cass, Guthrie, Audubon and Shelby counties, and thus became a member of the State Senate in the Ninth General Assembly, which convened at Des Moines January 13, 1862, and adjourned April 8, 1862.

He only served this one session of his senatorial term, however, when he received the appointment as Lieutenant-colonel of the Thirty-ninth Iowa Infantry Volunteers, and entered the army in response to the call for 300,000 more by the President in 1862. He was wounded at the battle of Perkins' Cross Roads, and afterward was killed at the battle of Altoona, Georgia, October 5, 1864. He was a brave and efficient officer during his entire military career, and for his worthy conduct as a brave soldier he received important notes of commendation by his superior officers in all the official reports of battles in which his regiment was engaged, and especially so of his conduct in the battle in which he was killed.

His brother, Luther Redfield, died in New York State in September, 1878, and his father-in-law, Mr. Moore, died in Oskaloosa, Kansas, several years ago. His brother, I. D. Redfield, now lives in the town of Redfield, and to his kindness we are indebted for the principal facts regarding his brother's life and career.

Return to Townships  |  Return to home page

Copyright © IAGenWeb.  All rights reserved.