Washington 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 north and west in the tiers of townships, and is, therefore, the northwest one of the four central townships of Dallas County. It is known in the government surveys as congressional township 80, north of range 28, west of the fifth principal meridian. It lies high and dry, and contains a large tract of fine prairie and farming land, a continuation of the excellent quality of land found in the north part of Colfax Township. It has a good many well-improved farms, and is commencing to turn off annually large supplies of stock and grain of various kinds. There is also considerable uncultivated prairie of excellent quality held by speculators at high figures, which tends to retard the growth of the township; but despite of all this, general improvements and cultivation are being carried on in a most commendable manner, and Washington Township is making a healthful, vigorous growth.

The North Raccoon River flows in a southeasterly course through the east side, cutting off several sections from the northeast corner of the township, but following along down near the east line for some distance after leaving the township boundaries, so as to leave the timber belt either in the township or near the line during nearly the entire length of the east side.

This stream, together with other smaller ones, flowing into it from the township makes water, timber, coal and building material quite plentiful and convenient to all parts of the township.

There is plenty of coal along the river in this locality, and several banks have been opened and worked some, but not very extensively, except for home consumption. The vein in this locality is from twenty to thirty inches thick.

By the general division of Dallas County into precincts, under date of March 5,1850, the territory now included Washington Township, was made to form part of Buena Vista precinct; March 3, 1856, it became part of Sugar Grove Township; and in general division of the county into townships, February 2, 1857, it still constituted the west half of Sugar Grove Township. A little more than a year afterward, March 2, 1858, an order made by the county court, constituting a new township by the name of Washington:

By the order Washington Township was first made to include all its present territory lying west of the Raccoon River, and all of what is now Lincoln Township, and so it continued to remain in the above described shape until in June, 1867, when the present territory of Lincoln was cut off and formed into a separate organization, as shown by the order under that township.

Washington was then reduced below its present size, having only that portion of the congressional township 80, range 28, which lies west of the river and thus it remained without much of any change until June 7, 1870, when the board of supervisors drew new boundary lines.

This new boundary line added to Washington quite a large corner of valuable land, comprising nearly four sections on the east side of the river, in the northeast corner of the township, and fixed it in its present form with the congressional township boundaries, and no record appears of any important change having been made since that date.

The first settler in Washington Township was John Sullivan, who came in with his family and made a settlement within its present boundaries in 1848, and afterward traded his claim and cabin for a gun worth $6.00.

Regarding the early settlement of Washington Township, Judge Burns also makes the following statement in his centennial history:

In 1848, also, James McLane, Jacob Minter, Samuel Mars, John S. Sammis, ____ Redish, soldiers of the Mexican War, from Kentucky, settled and took claims about, and comprising the farm of Henry Myers in Washington Township. John Bivers, an unmarried man, took a claim about the same time. Bivers made his home at George P. Garoutte's.

This settlement was near the northeast corner of the township, and was for a long time in Sugar Grove Township, east of the river, even after Washington was, but is now in Washington.

Martin W. Miller settled here also in 1848; William Rouse, William T. Clark and others in 1849; David M. Starbuck and others in 1850, making Washington an early settlement and giving it a good start to grow to its present state of thrift and enterprise.

The first school in the township was taught by John Warford in the northeast part of the township, in 1857. It now has nine school-houses.

The first religious services were held on section 36, by Rev. Abram Laubach, a Methodist minister.

There are two churches in the township, a Christian chapel and an M. E. church. The latter has no church building, but meet in the Beaver schoolhouse for services, and are now talking of building. They have a membership of 64. For particulars see the account given of this church by its pastor, Rev. David Shenton

The following sketch of the history of the Christian Church is taken from the records, as kindly furnished by Mr. Bly, the county sheriff:

"The Church of God in Christ," in Washington Township, Dallas County, Iowa, was organized June 30, 1866, at the Buchanan school-house, situated on the south side of section No. 23. Bro J. T. Bly, who was then preaching irregularly at that point, was the officiating evangelist. The names of the charter members are as follows: John Strader, Margaret Strader, Noah Strader, Jeremiah Reaves, Catharine Reaves, A. J.Olin, Hannah Olin, Jasper Rice, Sarah M. Rice, Lemuel Warford, Sarah E. Warford, A. C. Clark, Nancy Clark, Marilda A. Clark, Lettie Henderson, Mary Henderson and Thomas Henderson.

Some of the numerous ministers who have labored with this congregation since its organization are as follows: Elders J. W. Bly, J. M. Dodge, J. E. Gaston, J. W. Snyder, J. B. Vawter, W. D. Swam; also occasionally, J. C. White, P. T. Russell, Mr. McCoy, Charles Yard, J. M. Crocker and Robert E. Swartz, up to October, 1876.

The present membership of this church is 100.

The present pastor is Elder O. H. Derry; and the present officers of the organization are: Elders- W. H. Murphy, Darius Sutherland. Deacons- W. Bly, Franklin Miller; Board of Trustees.- President Lemuel Warford; Treasurer F. Miller; Secretary J. W. Bly.

This township has one good county bridge across North Raccoon River, 140 feet long, with 300 feet of trestle work. It has no post-office, no railroad, and no town within its limits; but the town of Minburn is only a short distance from the east line, in Sugar Grove Township, affording good post office and market privileges, and Perry is only about four miles north.

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