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Township Organization
English River, German, Jackson

English River

In 1850 this township contained a population of ninety; in 1855 it was 676, and in 1875 there were 1,260 inhabitants. In April, 1845, the township of English River was organized and comprised all of Liberty, English River and Adams. The first settlement was made near the present site of South English by James Mehaffee and Jacob Bowers, in the year 1844. In 1845 James Thomas and John Houston came. The family of James Thomas was the first, the others being unmarried, and located on the northwest quarter of section twenty-two. Houston located on section twenty-four, near the present site of South English, and this place was for a number of years called Houston's Point. James Chambers and H. H. Rodman settled soon after on section thirty. Thomas Morgan settled in 1847, and the following winter Chambers Rodman froze to death. He started to Sigourney early in the morning of a mild winter day, and while there became somewhat intoxicated. He did not return, as was expected, in the evening. The next morning some young men started from Houston's Point to hunt for deer, and had not proceeded far until they heard Rodman's dog bark. Being attracted by the barking of the dog, they proceeded to the spot, where they found the dead body of Rodman frozen stiff. The first birth in that neighborhood was the daughter of H. C. and Rebecca Rodman, March 27, 1846. The first death was that of a child of James Thomas.

The township was organized with twenty voters, in April, 1852. The snow was at that time one foot deep. At this, the first election, the following officers were chosen:

Trustees—Joel Slate, H. H. Rodman and James Thomas.
Clerk—Henry Fawel.
Justice—W. S. Slate. 

The present township officers are:

Justices—Thomas Leasly and A. D. Spickerman.
Constables—Bacon Holmes and R. Webster.
Trustees—T. A. Morgan, Adam Wheeler and W. A. Gore.
Clerk—J. H. Root.
Assessor—D. N. Coffman.

This section of country has always been noted for the enterprise, independence and intelligence of its citizens. The first settlers were from that part of the Union where churches and free schools abounded, and those who have since settled have been of the same character, consequently schools and churches were early organized.

The Methodist Episcopal was the first organized, in 1851, with the following named persons as members: Joel Slate and wife, Martin S. Slate, L. E. Slate, H. H. Rodman and wife, and S. M. Glandon. The Baptist was the second organization, in 1855.

A union Sunday-school was organized in the fall of 1857, by a Baptist preacher from Iowa City, with the following officers: superintendent, Joel Slate; secretary, M. Slate; librarian, S. M. Glandon. It had a library of two hundred volumes.

The M. E. Church built the first meeting-house, in 1859.

The first sermon preached was at the funeral of Chambers Rodman, by Father Elliott, a Baptist preacher.

South English now has three meeting-houses, to-wit: Methodist, Baptist and Christian. Webster has two: Methodist and Congregational. White Pigeon one: Christian.

The first school we have any account of was taught by S. M. Glandon in 1851, and the school-house was no modern structure, as there were no windows to it. Webster had the first frame school-house, and it is doing duty yet, although built in the fall of 1854. There are now ten schools.

The first marriage was Lem. Brinor to Miss Dinah Houston, in June, 1852, M. S. Slate officiating. The first death was a child of James Thomas.

The first frame house was built in 1852, by S. M. Slate, and is a pretty good house yet. Mr. Slate has lived in the house ever since, until last fall, Twenty-three years without moving is something unusual in Iowa. The first store was kept by Ethan Post, and it is said of him by the early settlers that he could generally by found at his post—fast asleep. The first saw-mill was built by William Slaydon. The first postmaster was H. H. Rodman.

Of the old settlers there is still living here Grandmother Houston, and Rebecca Rodman (widow of Chambers Rodman). James Thomas is living in Oregon; H. H. Rodman in Missouri. In addition to the above there are several citizens still living there who have been in the township for over twenty-five years. Among them are Thomas Morgan, Mrs. Huxford (daughter of H. H. Rodman), S. M. Glandon and wife, M. S. Slate, Cordy Glandon and family, and Moses Hall and wife.

The town of South English was laid out in March, 1855, and was located on sections 23, 24, 25 and 26. Since the railroad has been located through the township, there being no suitable depot grounds in the old town, a new addition has been laid out near the depot, a short distance from the old town, and a large number of the houses are now being moved there. The first store was started shortly after the town was laid out. At present South English is quite a business point and bids fair to become quite a town, now that it has railroad facilities.

J. F. White, dealer in dry goods, groceries and general merchandise is the leading merchant of the place, and a man of large capital and great influence. There are few men in the county who have so wide-spread reputation as Mr. White. Especially in that part of the county has he exerted a wide-spread influence and contributed much toward the development of the country.

C. F. Crosby is a dealer in groceries; he is also a very successful business man and possessed of large influence. The following other firms are doing a good business: W. T. Coffman & Co., drugs; W. T. Platt, drugs; W. M. Shepherd, hardware; Geisler & Garlick, lumber; J. F. Mead, blacksmith; J. Q. Lewis, saddlery; N. C. Miller & Son, livery. There is a first-class hotel kept by U. Younkin. The following are the leading physicians: W. W. Newsome, A. Hale and Dr. Cocklin.

The "Western Herald " is a sprightly newspaper published here, a brief history of which is given in the chapter on the " Press of the County."

The Methodist Church was organized in September, 1851, and a frame church-building was erected in 1858, at a cost of $600. Revs. Messrs. Hestwood, Orr, Skinner, Manderville, Shain, Teter, Baker, Smith, Miller, Davis and Wycoff are the ministers who have been pastors. The membership at present numbers thirty-one. Of the original members Mr. Slate and S. M. Glandon are yet active communicants.

The Christian Church was organized in 1856. In 1875 a frame building was erected at a cost of $1,200, which was dedicated the same year by Elder Carpenter, of Oskaloosa. The present membership numbers twenty.

The South English Lodge No. 263, I. O. O. F., was organized October 10, 1873, C. F. Crosby, T. A. Morgan, A. Klindschmit, F. E. White, John Nyswaner and J. C. Wilson being the charter members. There are forty members of the order at present.

Naphtali Lodge No. 188, A. F. & A. M., was organized August 10, 1865. A. D. Griffin, Henry Meeker, B. F. Black, W. P. Teeters, J. D. Kirby, J. G. Miles, S. M. Waters, S. M. White, J. F. White, Wallace Harmonson, Wm. Hartsock, James McLaughlin, Solomon Hallett, were the charter members. The following are Master Masons: A. D. Griffith, Henry Meeker, J. F. White, Thos. Seerley, W. W. Newsome and J. C. Wilson. There are at present thirty-four members of the order. The present officers are: J. C. Wilson, W. M.; W. H. Wait, S. W.; Wm. Sloan, J. W.; J. F. White, treasurer; D. N. Coffman, secretary; J. Axmear, S. D.; C. D. Kemball, J. D.; Thos. Seerley, tyler. 

White Pigeon is located on sections 6 and 7 and was laid out in June, 1855. It has a post-office and one church. This is a Christian Church and was organized in 1859 by Elder E. Scott. A. Carmichael and wife, A. J. Lutton and wife, M. Higgins and wife, C. K. Wheeler and wife, and R. Smith and wife were among the first members. A frame church was erected in 1875 at a cost of $1,200. The present membership is thirty-five. The church was dedicated in 1875 by Elder J. N. Smith.
Webster is situated on sections 30 and 31 and was laid out in April, 1854. It is a place of considerable business and contains a post-office and two churches, Methodist and Congregational. The former was organized in the fall of 1853. Wm. Reed and wife, Thomas Morgan and wife, and M. J. Monicue were among the first members. A frame church-building was erected in 1873 at a cost of $2,100. This building was dedicated to the worship of God in December, 1873, by Rev. James Hill. Reverends Messrs. Orr, Mandeville, Sherman, Smith, Robison, Elrod, Kendrick, Pugh, Davis, Miller and Wycoff have been some of the pastors. The present membership is sixty-seven.

The Congregational Church of Webster was first organized at South English in October, 1866. In September, 1870, the congregation changed its place of meeting from South English to Webster, and in 1871 a frame church-building was erected at the latter place, costing about $1,800. The building was dedicated the same fall by Joseph Pickett of Des Moines, who was chiefly instrumental in erecting the building and contributed liberally toward the building fund. The pastors thus far have been E. B. Ellis, F. Crang and James E. Moore. The original members were, Charles Hoyt, Susanna Hoyt, Emma J. Hoyt, Delia C. Root, J. H. Root and Laura A. Root. The membership now numbers forty-eight.

Webster has always been a good trading point and with the new impetus it has recently received by the extension of the B., C. R. & N. railroad, promises to become a place of considerable importance.

Transcribed by Pat Wahl


This township is composed of township 76 and over half of 75, range 11 and contains a larger population, except Sigourney, than any other in the county. In 1850 there were 239 inhabitants, in 1856 there were 806 and in 1875 there were 1,532. This township is inhabited almost exclusively by Germans, who are well situated and are contented and industrious. Neither the Democratic nor the Republican party has ever been able to control the vote of this township, and consequently this is the chief battlefield during the heated contests for the election of county officers. Although the people of German township are not owned by any political organization, they never forget their enemies nor forsake their friends in time of need. Mr. Snakenberg and Casper Klett were among the first settlers of this township, the former still living near where he first settled and the latter dying a few years since. He was born in Saxony in 1813; came to Iowa in 1835 and to Keokuk county in 1839, and became the leading citizen of German township. He had thirteen children, ten of whom are living. B. T. Moore came to the county in 1853, and since that time has followed farming in this township. He lives on section 16, township 76, range 11. John Helcher settled in German township in 1869, where he married Miss Anna Snakenberg. He lives on section 36. Martin Weaver lives on section 16; he came to the township in 1857 with $700, and is now worth about $7,000. John Beinhart came to the township in 1846 and entered the land upon which his son, John Beinhart, Jr., now lives. He died shortly after coming to the township. Calvin McCay settled in German township in 1858. He bought eighty acres of land and had only $100 to pay on it. He now has two hundred acres of well improved land, and is out of debt. The foregoing illustrates the character of the majority of the farmers of German township. There are in this township, thirteen school-houses. The first one was built in 1847, and stood east of Garibaldi in the timber, and was called No. 1. In 1849 district No. 2 built a house one mile west of Garibaldi; both were log houses 16x20 feet with one window and one door. In 1854 district No. 4 was organized and a house built. It was 16x18 feet, made of hewed logs, puncheon floor one door and five windows; the district was three miles wide and six miles long, and here Levi Bower, the present county treasurer, taught his first school. One among the first school teachers of the township was Duke Rosecrans, an uncle of Gen. Rosecrans and Henry Rosecrans, of Sigourney. Wm Love also taught school in the same neighborhood in early days. H. D. Todd, for many years subsequently county superintendent, taught school in German town for several terms.

The first church in German township was a German Methodist church, organized in 1852. The first members were Didrick Snakenberg, Lewis and John Snakenberg, Andrew Hoffman, Court Meyerdick, Anton Glander, John Flitch, David and John Beinhart. The present pastor is Rev. Philip Barth. There is a Catholic church at Baden, built in 1857, the present pastor being Rev. P. Kerr. There is also a Lutheran church, built in 1857, organized in 1855, first members were Christian Dunsing, Wm. Bienman, Ferdinand Wickenkump, Didrick Strohman, Jan Shermer, Didrick Buns and Herman Beinka.

A coal bank known as Wm. Loughridge's bank was discovered in 1856 by John Hartman. The vein was only eighteen inches thick and has not been operated for a number of years.

In 1856, John Hartman built a saw mill on German creek; it was the first and only experiment with water-power in the township, and was not a success. It was washed away shortly after it was built. In 1855 John Holsworth built a steam saw-mill on land owned by Sebastian Striegle, which was afterward removed one mile west of Garibaldi, where it is still operated. Joseph Kohlhouse built a steam saw-mill in the southern part of the township and operated it till 1871, when it was destroyed by the tornado.

The first cemetery was laid out on Didrick Snakenberg's land near the old German Methodist church, in 1847. The first person buried there was John Beinhart. In 1856 another cemetery was laid out near the Lutheran church. John Brumert, one of the first settlers of the township, was among the first buried there. There is still another cemetery in the north part of the township which was laid out in 1859. Silas Richardson, one of the old pioneers was buried there.

There are no doctors at present. Samuel Todd has practiced law for twenty years. C. H. Mohland began the practice a few years since. There were formerly two breweries in the south part of the township, one of them operated by William Jugenheimer and the other by Philip Mitchell; both were discontinued some time since.

Baden was the first town laid out in German township. It was laid out in 1856 by Sebastian Striegle. The first house was built by G. H. B. Striegle, now of Harper, who built a dwelling house and blacksmith shop in 1857. The next building was erected by a Mr. Franken, who erected a dwelling and grocery-house combined. L. Striegle erected a store-room and Christ. Striegle built a dwelling-house soon after. In 1857 a Catholic church was built in Lafayette township, and some time after it was moved to Baden, where it is now located.

Garibaldi was laid out in 1858. It contains a post-office, one store and a Turner's hall. It is chiefly noted for its facilities for furnishing amusement for the boys.

The present township officers are:

Justices of the Peace—Henry Gortner and Fred. Cox.
Constables—Mart. Mohland and J. W. Snakenberg.
Clerk—C. H. Mohland.
Trustees—John Knox, John Helcher and Henry Kilmer.
Assessor—Theodore Blaise.

Transcribed by Pat Wahl.


The township was one of the first settled outside the old strip. Its congressional name is number 74, range 11 west. The lands in this township were surveyed and offered for sale in 1846, although the most desirable lads were claimed, and a large portion of the township improved, prior to that time. The South Skunk forms the north boundary, which boundary is in consequence very irregular.

For farming purposes and stock-raising this township takes a front rank. The first part of the township settled was what was formerly known as the Rock Creek neighborhood, and the first settlement was made by Wm Scearcy on the last day of April, 1843. According to treaty stipulations the country was to be open for settlement on the first day of May , and in order not to be late in profiting by securing the advantages which promptness always vouchsafes. Mr Scearcy started a day in advance. Although he started ahead of time he was not there any too soon to secure the desirable location where the first claim was staked out. Although Mr Scearcy had his claim disputed he succeeded in establishing himself on it, where he still lives. In the competition for the best claims not unfrequently arose, and for want of time and the pressing demand for speedy arbitration, these disputed were sometimes settled by recourse to pugilistic skill. The claim to Twin Groves, a very desirable location, was settled in this way, and the winner gave the loser a yoke of oxen for the future undisputed possession of the claim. Among the first to locate in the Rock Creek country, and who came about the time Mr Scearcy came, were Aaron Miller, Robert Blacker, Wm Webb, and Richard Quinton, the latter being elected from the county to the first constitutional convention, and afterword for several years, prior to his leaving the county, permanently identified with the politics of the county.

It was in the bounds of this township that Wapello died. Having returned with a number of his tribe, early in the spring of 1844, for the purpose of making maple syrup, there being splendid facilities for this business among the maple groves of Rock Creek, he became very much intoxicated and in this condition he contracted a severe cold, which resulted in his death. After his death the remaining members of the tribe dispatched a young warrior to Richland township for a coffin, which was brought by Mr Samuel Hardesty to convey Wapello’s body to Agency City, which he accordingly did. The entire expense of the coffin and the trip to Agency, amounting to some thirty dollars, was particularly careful in looking after that gentleman’s comfort during the trip and paying all the expenses before he left.

Such an excellent country as the Rock Creek district was known to be did not remain long without a large increase of population, and soon farms, cottages and school houses were to be seen in all directions. For a long time the citizens experienced great inconvenience for wasn’t of a postoffice, ant it was not till the fall of 1852 that a post-office was established in this township. It was kept at the house of Samuel Bowman, who was postmaster. The name of the office was Olean, and in the fall of 1858 was removed to Ioka. There are at present three postoffices of easy access; one at Ioka in the southeastern part of the county; one called Walden, in section 18, and one in section 3, just across the river in Lancaster township.

Of churches there are quite a number of organizations and some very good church buildings. Rev Mr Spainhour, a Baptist minister was probably the first of this denomination who preached in the township; he was followed by Rev Mr Tanehill, who preached in the house of John Cox as early as 1843.

The Baptist church of Rock Creek was organized in 1844. The original members were Robert Scearcy, Mary Scearcy, William Scearcy, Sarah Scearcy, and John Miller. In 1850 a frame church-building was erected at a cost of $750. It was dedicated the following year by Jacob Spainhour, who was the first man to preach in that neighborhood. John W Talley, Amos Simmons, Cypert Talley, Benj Hollingsworth, Reuben Henderson, H F Walker, Stacy Rogers and Jesse Edwards have at different times been pastors of the church. The present membership numbers thirty-five. The church has had a varied career of prosperity and adversity; a short time after its organization there was an addition there was an addition of one hundred and fifty-two members.

Hopewell church, located on section fourteen, belongs to the denomination known as the Separate Baptists. It was organized in August, 1865. John W Talley, Benjamin Hollingsworth, D S Hutton, D Mullannee, Isaac Petree, Samuel Hutton, Mary Talley, N E Mullanee, Eliza Petree, Mary Hutton, Catharine Hutton, Phoebe M Brown, Ruth S McConnell, Lydia Nelson, Nancy R, Wood, Mary J. Miller, M. E. McConnell, Daniel Henson, Angelina Nelson and M A Hollingsworth were the original members. A frame church was erected in the fall of 1868 at an expense of $1,200. It was dedicated in the winter by 1868 by John W Talley; John W Talley, Benj Hollingsworth, J T Walker, Chas Lyon and Reuben Henderson have been pastors at various times. Jesse Edwards is the present pastor. The membership at present is twenty-two.

The first election was held in the township in the April, 1844, which was the first election held in the county, this having been a separate election precinct form the first. In 1850 the township had a population of 603, in 1856 it was 1,003, and by the census of 1875 it appears that the population was then 1,467. There were 269 dwelling houses and 275 families. The following are the officers of the township at present:

Justices of the Peace—D C Baker, who is also a member of the board of supervisors, and T B Meradith.

Constables—J W Reiner and Lewis Smithart

Clerk—W B Woods

Trustees—Conrad Bender, W C Harris, Joseph Bush

Assessor—T B Meradith