Jefferson County Online
Lockridge Township

Transcribed by Thelma Drey

The Fairfield Ledger, May 6, 1903, Page 7, cols. 2-3.


Settlement and History of Lockridge Township.
Read by Hon. A. F. Cassel before the Jefferson County Historical Association.

Lockridge Township, when the first pioneers came in, was mostly timber or brush land. Northeast of Salina two or three sections were partly brush or prairie land. In an early day it was called Wilson’s prairie. On Skunk River and on some of the creeks was some of the best timber in the state. The streams are Skunk River, which runs through three sections in the northeast part; Walnut, Brush, Burr Oak, Rocky Branch and Rattlesnake are some of the creeks found in the township. Four or five good quarries have been opened up, both sandstone and limestone. Coal can be found in a great many places. One mine has been operated on a large scale for thirty-five years near Lockridge.

Game was very plenty in the early days -- deer, turkey, pheasant, wild pigeon and many other kinds -- so that a man with a good gun did not need to live without meat, even if he was not much of an expert. But we had some great hunters, such as Dan Vorhies, Richard Allender, Mr. James, and many others who never failed to bring down a deer if they wanted one, but we often hunted for sport, not caring for the game. It was not uncommon to see as many deer as twenty or more in a band. Turkeys were also very plenty. Geo. Nicholson and others used to catch them in rail pens which were fixed for a trap. I know one time that Nicholson got a big flock in his trap pen. He killed four very fine ones with a stick and let the others out, as he did not want any more at that time.

If you will allow me, I must say something about a pigeon roost in an early day in Section 16 Lockridge Township. The number of birds was so great that there were certainly many millions. In the afternoons and evenings they would fly over to the roost, and after dark could be heard several miles. In the mornings they would fly great distances to feed, mostly on acorns, as there was no grain in the fields at that time of the year, late in the spring. When they would fly back and forth there were so many in the flocks that they would hide the sun for minutes at a time. Thousands were killed, mostly with sticks, in many cases for the sport and fun of it. It was a great sight to see the very largest trees broken down or torn up with the roots where they roosted.

I will mention a few of the early settlers. In 1838 Sullivan Ross came into Lockridge Township with his second wife, Elizabeth, three sons, William, Thomas,  and James; two daughters, Margaret, now Mrs. McGuire, who is still living in this township and Nancy. Ross settled in Section 25, almost on the bank of Brush Creek, where he had commenced the previous year to build a dam and saw mill, the first in the township and possibly in the county, and which was operated for several years. He also opened a store. Mr. Ross was a great help to the newcomers. He died in 1856.

John Hopkirk came in 1839; married Jane Nicholson; had three sons, William, John and David; two daughters Beatrice and Isabelle.

Henry Shepherd came in 1837 and located in Section 26 but did not live there very long.

John Wilkin came in 1839; his wife, Beatrice, who died early, had two daughters, Jane and Beatrice, his oldest daughter, Jane, lived with him until his death.

William Hopkirk came in 1841; his wife Jane had four sons, Robert, William, James, and Alexander, who lives on the old homestead; six daughters, Elizabeth, Isabelle, Annie, Mary, Lillie and Jane. Mr. Hopkirk was elected to represent Jefferson County in the legislature in 1869 and served three terms.

Robert Stephenson came in 1842; his wife had four sons: George, Robert, John, and Thomas; he was elected to the legislature in 1854.

Louis Reeder came in 1842 with his first wife, Margaret, formerly Steuker who died; he was married to Mrs. Sallie Shanberger, and two sons, Charles L. and Elmer E., and two daughters, Sallie M. and Caroline D. Mr. Reeder was elected representative from Jefferson County in 1856.

Issac and Dan Vorheis were both early settlers and had families.

Samuel Berry settled in the northwest part of the township as early as 1838 or sooner; at the first land sale, at Burlington, in 1838, he entered quite a lot of land in Sections 7, 8, 17, 18, 19, and 11. I have been told that Berry entered or bought seventeen "eighties" of land in Lockridge Township, and he was certainly the richest man who came to the township in an early day.

In 1838 Henry Rowe erected a tread mill in the northwest part of the township and was a great help to the early settlers; it was the first corn cracker in the township and possibly in the county.

Col. W. G. Coop entered the southwest quarter of Section 9, Lockridge Township, in 1839, but never lived on it.

Squire Green was an early settler, was elected justice of the peace in an early day and continued to serve as long as he lived.

Baker Allender was also an early settler.

George Schmidtline and Fred Graff, with their families, came early, and so did Jacob Fore and Daniel Park with their families; Mrs. Fore was killed by lightning in an early day at Mr.Downing's on her way home from Fairfield.

Mr. Horton was an early settler, but lived in Buchanan Township for several years with his family, of which Mr. S. T. Horton will be able to write more fully.

The first Swedish immigrants who came to the western states stopped and settled in Lockridge Township in 1845. They were Peter Cassel, his wife Catherine, three sons, Carl J., Andrew F., and Gust, who died in the army; two daughters, Matilda and Carrie; John Danielson, his wife, Elizabeth, three sons, John A., Victor and Frank O., and two daughters Maria and Matilda; John Monson, his wife, Carrie, three daughters, Caroline, Mary and Louise; Peter Anderson, his wife, Christine, and two children; Erick P. Anderson and his sister, now Mrs. Castile, in all twenty-five. They all started from the same neighborhood in Sweden, but at New York met with Peter Dahlburg and family and, after a few days’ stop, decided to start for the new territory of Iowa.

They took the boat at New York for some point in New Jersey, thence went by railroad to Philadelphia, across the mountains to Pittsburgh, partly by railroad and partly by canal boat, and from Pittsburgh to Cairo, to Burlington and to Lockridge township, and finally stopped on the south bank of Brush Creek in Section 26, where a cabin had been built by Henry Shepherd, but was without a roof. The first thing in order was to name the place, and it was called Stockholm, and next to cut brush for the roof of the cabin. We soon found Ross’ saw mill, got some boards and set posts in the ground and made a shanty. Next we commenced to make brick. To dry them we laid them on the roof of the shanty, where we had our goods, as it had a better roof than the cabin. After we had all lived comfortably for a week, it began to thunder very hard and for night’s quarters all selected the cabin. Soon it began to rain, and poured all night, and until this day I have not seen it rain harder or more fire in the air than that night. But it was rather lucky that we were on high ground or the creek would have washed us away. We had a good ducking but the next day was bright and we were busy airing and sunning our soaked clothes and other articles. Our board shanty lay level with the ground. All took courage and resolved to provide better quarters, for the Swedish immigrants had come to stay and make America their future home. We found that people that were here before us very kind and accommodating. From that day the immigration from Sweden began, and at this time almost every State in the Union has more or less Swedes in her borders.

In politics the Swedes are mostly republican, not by birth, but by choice. Most of them are inclined to be religious and have great respect for their church. Of the twenty-five who left Sweden in 1845 there were nine alive when we celebrated our fiftieth anniversary in 1895. At this time eight are living - A. F. Cassel, F. O. Danielson, Mrs. Danielson, Mrs. Ward Lamson, Mrs. John Stephenson, Mrs. Castile, all in Jefferson County; Mrs. Victor Hall, Scandia, Kan.; Mrs. Alfred Johnson near Creston.

The early settlers adopted bylaws and rules which they considered very sacred and seldom abandoned. They stood by each other if speculators tried to enter the settlers’ land. It was not very healthy for speculators to show themselves. Arbitration was the highest court. It was not uncommon for a few men to decide what to do with a man who did not do as he ought. I will mention one who did not want to work. A day was set to decide what to do with him. He tried to escape, but was finally cornered, and, after a moment’s deliberation, it was decided to auction him off to the highest bidder for one year’s work. He was bid off for $16, but escaped between two days. Another man would not plow and plant. A strong man was selected to go and use hickory oil as a medicine, and it worked finely.

The first church in the township was built in 1846 near William Hopkirk’s by the Presbyterians. It was a log structure and was used a number of years. The Methodist church in Salina was built in 1851, and is still in good repair. Schoolhouse No. 1 was probably the first in the township. Center schoolhouse, or No. 2, was built in 1848.

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