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Township Organization

The boundaries of this township are very irregular on the north and south sides. The east and west boundaries are the same as the congressional township lines, and in this particular corresponds with range 12. The irregular channel of Skunk river forms the southern boundary, while on the north it corresponds with congressional township No. 75, except in northeast corner, where two sections, thirty-five and thirty-six, are taken from Van Buren township. Until September, 1844, it was a part of German township; at that time the county commissioners made the following order:

"Ordered, that the boundaries of German township be extended so as to make its western line be the range line dividing ranges twelve and thirteen, and that the name of said township be changed to the name of Sigourney." Some time after there was a division made and the former name of German township again appeared on the map with its present boundaries.

The township of Sigourney thus received its name from the town which had been located and named more than a year before the township was formed. The township, as it is now defined, contains about 12,500 acres, and has a population, exclusive of the town, of about 750. In 1850, the township, exclusive of the town, had a population of 536, and in 1856 it was 934. The present township officers are as follows:

Justices of the Peace—John Rogers and R. L. Donnell.

Constables—L. A. Berry and Chas. Berry.

Clerk—W. Shean.

Trustees—David McMurray, A. G. Brown and G. Kleinsmith.

Assessor—W. A. Barker.

The City of Sigourney

In treating of the organization of the county and the county-seat contests, much of the history of Sigourney has already been written. In this chapter we shall treat of it in its character as a place of business; of its growth and development, and of its literary, benevolent and religious institutions. The circumstances which led to the naming of the place have already been given, and at this place it will be proper to give a brief sketch of Mrs. Sigourney.

Mrs. Sigourney was born at Norwich, Connecticut, on the 1st of September, 1791. Her maiden name was Lydia Huntley. At a very early age she manifested a fondness for painting. Almost in her infancy she began to draw with a pin and lilac-leaf, and advanced from that to slate and pencil, and by-and-by to a lead pencil and backs of letters. Having in some way obtained a cake of gamboge, she begged of a washerwoman a piece of indigo, and by combining these two ingredients she could make different shades of yellow, blue and green. At length, to her great joy, her father gave her a complete box of colors. When yet a girl her day-dream of the future was to be a school teacher. The long cherished wish which, for a long time, was kept a secret, was at length revealed to her parents, neither of whom made any objections, and the pleasantest room of the house was fitted up for the reception of pupils.. Her first venture did not prove to be a success, parents having some hesitancy in intrusting their children to one so young. She afterward associated herself with another lady, and succeeded better.

In 1815, while enjoying the hospitality of Daniel Wadsworth, her kind and appreciative host by chance obtained possession of some of Lydia's manuscript in prose and verse; he pronounced them worthy of publication, and under his auspices a volume was published entitled, "Moral Pieces in Prose and Verse." This was the first appearance in print of any of her productions. The public gave the little volume a generous welcome, and its success lead to a career of authorship that lasted near a half-century and resulted in the publication of fifty-six volumes of poetry, tales, novels, biographies and letters.

When twenty-eight years old, she was married to Charles Sigourney. For the next fifteen years she resided in the most elegant mansion in Hartford, her husband being a very successful merchant of that place. She became the mother of several children, all but two of whom died in infancy.

After years of prosperity, Mr. Sigourney met with heavy losses, and they were compelled to leave their pleasant residence and seek a home in a less pretentious part of the city. Mr. Sigourney died at the age of seventy-six. During the last seven years of her life Mrs. Sigourney's chief employment was contributing to the columns of the New York "Ledger." She died in June, 1865, after a brief illness, she having enjoyed excellent health up to a short time previous to her death. She contemplated the approach of death with great tranquility of mind—and well she might; for, having spent her life in honorable labor for the benefit of her race, she could look back upon her career with pleasure and satisfaction.

She always looked toward the rapidly developing West with deep interest; especially is this true of Iowa, where was located the scene of one of her most touching poems. An Indian girl by the name of Ka-la-we-quois, belonging to the Sac and Fox tribe of Indians, died of consumption and was buried in a county southwest of here. Mrs. Sigourney, seeing a notice of her death, wrote the following touching lines:

The Indian Girl's Burial

A wail upon the prairies,
A cry of woman's woe,
That mingleth with the autumn blast,
All fitfully and low.
It is a mother's wailing!
Hath earth another tone
Like that with which a mother mourns
Her lost, her only one?

Pale faces gather 'round her;
They mark the storm swell high
That rends and wrecks the tossing soul;
But the cold blue eyes are dry.
Pale faces gazed upon her,
As the wild winds caught her moan;
But she was an Indian mother,
So she wept those tears alone.

Long o'er that wasting idol
She watched, and toiled, and prayed,
Though every dreary dawn revealed
Some ravage death had made,
Till the fleshless sinews started,
And Hope no opiate gave,
And hoarse and hollow grew her voice—
An echo from the grave.

She was a gentle creature,
Of raven eye and tress,
And dove-like were the tones that breath'd
Her bosom's tenderness;
Save when some quick emotion
The warm blood quickly sent,
To revel in her olive cheek,
So richly eloquent.

I said consumption smote her,
And the healer's art was vain,
But she was an Indian maiden,
And none deplored her pain
None, save the widow'd mother,
Who now by her open tomb
Is writhing like the smitten wretch
Whom judgment marks for doom.

Alas! that lowly cabin,
That couch beside the wall,
That seat beneath the mantling vine,
They are lone and empty all.
What hand shall pluck the tall green corn,
That ripeneth on the plain,
Since she for whom the board was spread
Will ne'er return again!

Rest! rest then, Indian maiden!
Nor let thy murmuring shade
Grieve that those pale-browed ones with scorn
Thy burial rite surveyed.
There's many a king whose funeral
A black-robed realm shall see—
For whom no tear of grief is shed
Like that which falls for thee.

Yea, rest thee, forest maiden!
Beneath the native tree;
The proud may boast their little day—
They sink to dust like thee;
But there's many a one whose funeral
With nodding plumes may be,
Whom nature nor affection mourns
As now they mourn for thee.

Such is a brief sketch of the lady in whose honor the capital of Keokuk county received its name. She showed her appreciation of the compliment at one time by providing for the planting of the trees which now adorn the court-house yard.

The town having been located and named, the next act in the development of the embryo city was a survey of the town site and a plat of the same. The preparatory legislation requisite to this end occurred on the 27th of July, 1844, when the county commissioners made the following order:

"Ordered by the board that the county surveyor of Keokuk county be required to repair to Sigourney, in said county, situated on the northeast quarter of section No. 2, in township 75, range 12, which has been selected as the seat of justice for said county, and on the 7th day of August next, or within five days thereafter, proceed to lay off a town on said quarter section, by first finding the center of said quarter section, and making the center of the public square the center of said quarter section; provided, however, that if the center should not be situated on an eligible spot then making the center of the public square at a certain stake set by the county commissioners, which stands about one hundred yards northwest of the office of S. A. James; and that the surveyor proceed to lay off the public square two hundred and seventy-six feet square, and that he lay off eight blocks of the following dimensions, to-wit: Two hundred and seventy-six feet square, which shall be laid off into eight lots, each with an alley of twelve feet running each way through the center of the block; also four streets; two running east and west and two north and south, which streets shall be eighty feet wide."

At the same session of the board it was ordered that a sale of lots of the town of Sigourney be held in Sigourney on Tuesday, the 1st day of October, 1844, The sale occurred according to order, and resulted in the sale of a single lot, it being lot three, in block three, which sold for $12, $6 to be paid in three months; and $6 to be paid in six months, the purchaser being Joel Landreth. The town having been surveyed and one lot sold, it now became necessary to buy the land upon which the prospective town was located from the government. The commissioners accordingly authorized Mr. S. A. James to borrow the money necessary for this purpose, which he procured from Godfrey Klett, and the land was entered in January, 1845. The remaining portion of the town quarter was laid out in February, 1845, and in April the agent appointed began to sell lots; those on the square sold for about $50, and others for $5. As has previously been remarked, Mr, James was the first resident of the town of Sigourney; he completed his cabin, and thus, according to the rules of pre-emption, became a settler in June, 1844. Here Mr. James remained "monarch of all he surveyed" during the fall and winter of 1846. No other habitation came within the circle of his vision except that of Jacob Shaver in a grove to the southwest. Mr. James, like many other men doing business in large cities, had his home outside the city limits, and boarded with Mr. Shaver, who dwelt in the quiet suburb already mentioned. When the court met at the county-seat in July, 1844, it also adjourned to the country for dinner.

In the spring and summer of 1845 there was quite an addition to the heretofore quiet and orderly population of Sigourney. Among those who came at this time were G. B. Cook, A. Covey, Joseph Adams, E. Shugart,

Wm. Basey, James, Shields, Josiah Crawford, Rev. W. Hulbert, B. F. Edwards, and Dr. B. F. Weeks. Mr. Cook erected the first frame house in Sigourney, which was afterward removed to the rear of Dr. Skillman's store room. Mr. Shields erected a log house where the Clark House was afterward located, and opened up in it a grocery store. Mr. Shugart erected a dwelling house of hewn logs. Mr. Basey put up a double log cabin which was pulled down in 1865 by J. L. Hogin. Rev. Mr. Hulbert erected the second frame house in the town; this house was afterward owned and occupied by Joseph Knox. Mr. Edwards erected a log building on the east side of the square, in which he opened up a general stock of merchandise. Mr. A. W. Blair was the first attorney. He came in January, 1845, and remained until the beginning of the Mexican war, when he volunteered in the service and spent some five years in northern Mexico. At the close of the war he went to Des Moines and afterward to California. Dr. Weeks was the first physician; he practiced his profession throughout the surrounding country and while on a professional visit to Warren township was taken sick and died at the residence of Maxon Randall.

In 1846 Joseph Knox, for many years the leading merchant of Sigourney, settled at the county seat. Then followed John C. Hogin, J. L. Hogin, Walker & Hawk, Reeves & Lash, I. N. and S. E. Hall, J. D. McNeff, Page & Startsman, James Carr, A. Meyer, Jackson & McElroy. These all dealt in dry goods and groceries, except the latter, who also handled hardware very extensively. John Tressler, Heider & Allgayer, A. G. Brown, Wm. Wait, A. H. Mensley, Reeves & Shebe, C. D. McCally. Ray & King also handled a stock of general merchandise during the years of '49 and '59 inclusive. W. A. Beeks, J. L. Hogin, Miller & Blair, Shelby & Ross, Miller & Landers supplied the drug and book trade during the same period, while Martin Grimsley, James Bowen, Martin Butch, C. J. Smith, C. H. Achard, J. G. Crocker and J. Shipfer supplied the grocery trade. Mr. Achard put up the first ice house in the winter 'of 1857, and during the following summer disposed of the first ice cream sold in Keokuk county. J. T. Clark kept the Clark House, A. Gann, the Exchange, Daniel Heider, the Sigourney House.

Dr. Skillman succeeded Dr. Weeks in the practice of medicine, and he is probably the oldest physician in the county, beginning the practice in 1846 and being still located in the same place. The following physicians located in Sigourney, as follows:

In 1847 Dr. A. C. Price located in Sigourney, Dr. A. Parks in 1856, Dr. B. F. Raif in 1855, Dr. A. Hensley in 1854, Drs. H. W. Selbey, H. W. Jay and F. Seeberger in 1858; Dr. Towndrow in 1853, H. G. Lachmund in 1856.

The bar of Sigourney will compare favorably with any other county of Iowa. On its roll may be found two men reared in the county, who are certainly exceptions to the rule that a prophet is not without honor save in his own country. The names of attorneys who located at different times in town after Mr. Blair, who has been noticed, are: T. S. Byers, J. V. Baldwin. J. M. Casey, S. Harned, J. J. Heider, U. H.. Keath, R. S. Leake, H. R. McPherson, S. E. Start, A. J. Stevens, J. B. Shollenbarger, G. Wilkinson and George D. Woodin. Hon. J. M. Casey, afterward county judge, was first prosecuting attorney, elected in 1847, re-elected in 1848, and again re-elected in 1850 and 1855. E. S. Sampson, Esq., was elected to the same office in 1856, and was succeeded by G. D. Woodin Esq. A. J. Stevens, Esq., removed to Des Moines, and was afterwards elected auditor of state. Hon. S. Harned was elected county judge in 1855, and was re-elected in 1857. J. J. Heider, Esq., who removed to Osceola, was first mayor of Sigourney, the town having been incorporated in October, 1858.

In 1853 a steam saw mill was put in operation by Cook & Keck. In 1855 another was erected by Foster & Glandon. Mr. Covey, put up, in 1856, an engine by which John W. Miller ran his foundry, and McLean & Covey propelled a carding machine.

The following different trades were followed by the persons named at various times in the past history of the town:

Blacksmith Shops.—Joseph Adams 1845, F. Gearing 1850, G. P. Ellis 1853, J. F. Malin 1854, G. Hutchinson 1857, Brown & Bell 1857.

Wagon Shops.—I. Plaff 1848, H. Smith 1847, Klinesmith & Kleet 1857, Mr. Barker 1860.

Cabinet Shops.—M. S. Sanders 1848, M. Pfaff 1855, Malin & Griffin 1857, H. Haughkenberry 1853, H. Olmyer 1856.

Fanning Mill Shops.—Haskell & Burgess 1846, J. T. Clark 1852.

Clocks and Watches.—J. K. Shean 1857, D. W. Shean 1858, H. Passig 1859, J. M. Fox 1856.

Boots and Shoes.—G. W. Dobie 1856, C. Goldthwait 1858, A. Gann 1859, C. Lehman 1856.

Stoves and Tinware.—Mr. Jordan 1856, J. M. McIntosh 1855, J. Ray 1857.

Saddles and Harness.—Robert Linder 1845, W. A. Blair 1851, A. Netterfield 1857, Leake & Bro. 1855, N. H. Hall 1859, G. L. Littler 1860.

Tailors.—T. Courser 1849, J. & C. Shockley 1850, J. S. Dunbar, also H. H. Boegel 1854, A. G. Robinson 1856, Edward Dwyer 1857.

Coopers.—Jacob Shaver 1844, A. Kleitz 1856, A. J. Israel 1859.

Marble Works.—Jones & Carmean 1855, H. C. Jones 1857, Jones & Abernethy 1858.

Gunsmith.—W. C. Taylor 1857.

Dentistry.—Dr. Carwin 1853, Dr. J. P. Yerger 1856.

Livery Stables.—Johnson & Martin 1856, Donahey & Brown 1857, W. Randall 1858, James Bowen 1859.

Cigars and Tobacco.—H. Knape 1857.

Tanneries.—A. Gann 1860, Blair & Boyd 1860.

The foregoing brief account of the early settlement of Sigourney, and the business prior to the war, will afford an accurate and general idea of the place in times past. During the war of course the town did not grow much. After the war a new energy was displayed and new vitality began to be visible, both in the external appearance of the town and in the internal currents of trade. A few of the old buildings were then torn down and the places occupied by more imposing and durable structures. It was not, however, until the town succeeded in securing railroad communication with the outside world that it began to put on metropolitan airs; a general movement for the erection of commodious brick blocks took place, and Sigourney made a bold strike to become a business point of first-class pretensions.

These changes cannot be noted definitely, as they occurred, nor would an elaborate account of these changes, and the men instrumental in bringing them about, be appropriate for this work. With this hasty view of Sigourney, as it was, we will now enter upon a brief account of Sigourney as it is.

The business of Sigourney, as at present conducted, is more clearly defined than formerly, the merchants having gradually concentrated their capital and energy upon separate lines of trade, stores of general merchandise now being the exception and not the rule. The several learned professions are ably represented, while the various literary, benevolent and religious societies are in a flourishing condition. The following are the leading law firms of the town: Sampson & Brown, Woodin & McJunkin, Donnell & Brooks, Harned & Fonda, Mackey & Williams, and H. D. Gartner. Among these representatives of the bar, a number have held important offices. Hon. E. S. Sampson was, for a number of years, judge of the District Court, and served for two terms in the National Congress. Hon. S. Harned was a delegate to the second constitutional convention; was twice elected county judge, and at present represents the county in the State senate. C. H. Mackey is the representative elect from the county to the State legislature, and his partner, Mr. Williams, filled the same office at the last session of the general assembly. John A. Donnell, for a term of years, filled the office of clerk of the courts. The following physicians have their offices in Sigourney: Dr. Skillman, who has almost entirely abandoned the profession on account of age; Dr. S. D. Cook, Dr. A. C. Price, Dr. J. H. Hair, Dr. T. B. McWilliams, and Doctors Beechler, West and Gray. Dr. Sanford Huff, until recently, was one of the leading physicians of the town, but recently died. Doctors Thompson and Armstrong are the dental surgeons. S. A. James & Son and Johnson & Hankins are the leading real estate dealers. There are at present two banks. The First National Bank succeeded to the business of the Bank of Sigourney. The first meeting held looking towards its organization was at the office of Geo. D. Woodin, at Sigourney, on October 31, 1870, when articles of association were signed by those parties—Geo. D. Woodin, A. G. Brown, W. B. Merriam and L. McCoy, of Sigourney, and James Dawson, Hugh Smith, Joseph Keck and Henry S. Clarke, of Washington, Iowa.

The first board of directors was Geo. D. Woodin, A. G. Brown, Joseph Keck, H. S. Clarke and James Dawson. The first president was Joseph Keck. The first vice-president was George D. Woodin, and the cashier was R. R. Bowland. After doing this preliminary work they then remained at a stand-still, waiting the voting of taxes in the various townships that would bring the Rock Island railroad to Sigourney, so that their charter bears date February 15, 1871. As soon after this as arrangements could be made the bank entered upon an active career. March 30, 1871, H. Clarke came to Sigourney, took charge of the business then in the hands of the bank of Sigourney, and the next day. I. A. Keck put in an appearance as cashier, R. R. Bowland having in the meanwhile resigned that position.

From that day to this, November, 1879, the president, vice-president and cashier have remained unchanged, and three of the original directors, viz: Joseph Keck, G. D. Woodin and A. G. Brown, have never left the directory. In 1873, by the death of W. B. Merriam, the bank lost an officer who was always watchful of its interests, and, as a mark of the esteem in which he was held by his associates and the community at large, it is only necessary to refer to "Wal" Merriam in the presence of any old resident, and you will get a reply that will satisfy you that he was the soul of honor; wide-awake and fearless in the discharge of his duties as a man and citizen. Originally there were eight stockholders, now, (1879), there are still five of the same eight. In 1872, I. C. Weaver was made assistant cashier, which place he still holds. The bank, through the panic of 1873, and subsequent depression, never refused the payment of a single dollar it owed to a depositor; while other banks paid limited amounts, it always paid in full. Its capital is $50,000, and a surplus of $8,000 has been accumulated. The bank is noted for the few changes in its stockholders and officers; in this western country it is seldom that for nine years you find the control of a bank in virtually the same hands without a change during all that time.

The Union Bank was organized July 1, 1875, with its present officers:

President—J. P. Yerger.

Vice-President—E. Laffer.

Cashier—Theodore Robinson.

It is incorporated under the laws of Iowa and does a general banking business.

Benevolent Societies

Sigourney Lodge No. 98, I. O. O. F., was organized November 14, 1856. The petitioners for charter were S. Harned, R. C. Romig, A. S. Alexander, D. D. Slaughter, T. H. Elwell and A. Fisher. The first officers were: S. Harned, N. G.; Philip Long, V. G.; A. S. Alexander, secretary, and T. H. Elwell, treasurer. During the summer of 1861 it surrendered its charter. Upon the petition of S. Harned, S. A. James, Philip Long, Joel Long; David Newkirk, B. McDaniel, A. Garm and J. M. Adams, members of the old organization, the charter and books were returned during the month of December, 1867, by Wm. Garret, who was Grand Secretary. The G. M. authorized D. D. G. M. Davis, of Richland, to institute said lodge and install the officers, which was done January 6, 1868. The officers installed at that time were S. Harned, N. G.; S. A. James, V. G.; J. M. Adams, secretary, and Philip Long, treasurer.

The lodge does not own a hall of its own, and the place of meeting is in the third story of Johnson's Block. Philip Long, a prominent member of the order, died some years since, bequeathing the sum of $1,600 to the order.

The present officers of the Order are as follows: E. B. Horne, N. G.; D. P. Yoder, V. G.; G. P. Baines, R S.; James Thompson, Treasurer; James Williams, P. S. The membership of the Lodge at present is 120.

Hebron Encampment, No. 40, I. O. G. T., was instituted October 20, 1869, upon the prayer of the following petitioners: D. W. Shean, N. S. Gilbert, L. B. Silveywood, J. P. Yerger, A. J. Pope, J. M. Adams, S. Harned and J. P. Farra. Present membership, forty. Present officers: D. Hanke, E. P.; E. B. House, H. P.; Philip Bertch S. W.; James Thompson, treasurer; D. P. Yoder, scribe; O. Seaton, J. W.

Masonic - The following elaborate account of this order was prepared by one of the order:

First Masonic Lodge

The following is a history of the first Masonic Lodge in Sigourney, Keokuk county, Iowa:

By authority of the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Iowa, J. L. Hogin, Sr., George Pinkerton, Alexander Caldwell, Sanford Harned, Isaac Mills, Aaron H. Hensley and John C. Hogin, Master Masons, met in Sigourney, Keokuk county, Iowa, May 13th, 1851, and opened a lodge after the manner of Ancient Masons, James L. Hogin Sr., acting as W. M.; George Pinkerton, as S. W.; John C. Hogin, J. W.; they being the brothers named in dispensation to act in said offices. The master appointed Isaac Mills, treasurer; Sanford Harned, treasurer; A. H. Hensley, S. D. Alexander Caldwell, J. D. From the records it appears that they didn't have a tyler, unless brother Heffner, of Clinton Lodge, No. 15, who was present and acted as such. At this meeting a code of by-laws was adopted; petitions of Even H. Skillman, A. E. Lowe and Joel Long recorded, and referred to committees; committees reported, ballot had, and all three initiated as Entered Apprentices.

Petition of James Carr received and referred to committee, they to report at next meeting.

The records show that the lodge met May 27th, June 8th, June 24th, June 27th, August 5th, September 9th, September 16th, October 7th, November —, no date given (lost the almanac,) December 2d, December 26th, January 6th, 1852, February 3d, March 2, March 30th, April 10th, April 27th, making nineteen meetings while working under dispensation, and working in some one or all three of the degrees at nearly every meeting.

At a meeting of the Grand Lodge, held June 1st, 1852, in Mt. Pleasant, Henry county, Iowa, Hogin Lodge, U. D., was granted a charter and numbered 32. James L. Hogin, Sr., Past Grand Master of Indiana, for whom the lodge was named, was elected the first W. M; A. E. Lowe, S. W.; M. M. Crocker, J. W.; E. H. Skillman, treasurer; J. C. Hogin, secretary; W. A. Blair, S. D.; James Carr, J. D.; J. T. Clark, tyler; and from the records we find the lodge reports, at the end of the masonic year, Joshua Landers, Aaron Clemmons, Obed King. Joel Long, A. P. Moody, Wm. Wait, A. H. Hensley, D. G. Burgis, J. L. Hogin, Jr., M. T. Siverly and G. P. Ellis, as Master Masons and members of the lodge. Nineteen members all told at the end of the third year one under dispensation, from the personal knowledge of the one giving these notes, J. L. Parker, there was one fellow-craft at the date of the report—himself.

It may be well enough to go back and speak of some matters interesting to the craft, at least. At the formation of this lodge in Sigourney at least two-thirds of the lands in the county were vacant; Sigourney, a town of some two hundred inhabitants, eighty miles from market. Back woods; but the brothers spoken of as forming the lodge, having once enjoyed lodge privileges, and having the good of the craft at heart, were of the opinion that a lodge might be formed and sustained, though the material was scarce, and accommodations for holding a lodge very poor in comparison to what they had been used to. Brother J. L. Hogin, Sr., furnished a room over his store, on the northwest corner of the square, (building now known as the old Hogin drug store), and removed some years ago to make place for the substantial brick block now owned and occupied by E. Laffer. The room in which the lodge was organized was about 12x18 feet square, and how the craft worked is best known to themselves; but work they did, and did good work. During the first year of the charter, 1852, the lodge removed to more commodious quarters on the south side of the public square; the room there occupied by them was 18x36 feet, reception and ante-room included. The lodge was moved, I think, in 1853, to the northeast corner of the square in the second story of a frame building 18x39 feet, since moved away to make room for the Keller block. While in this room the lodge resolved to have a home of their own, and as brothers J. C. Hogin and S. Harned, with F. S. Glandon, were making preparations to erect a two-story brick on the west side of the square. Said building to be 44x60 feet, (now owned by Cunnningham & Fisher). The lodge made arrangements to put a third story on the building, or rather to finish off a room on the roof. These arrangements were carried out and the ledge moved to what they supposed a permanent home, hoping to be able to pay out and own the building, but the financial crisis about that time, 1856-57, reached the lodge as well as some of its members, and some of the parties building the room took it back and rented the same to the lodge, which the lodge continued to occupy until 1862.

Soon after the breaking out of the great rebellion the lodge, not having recovered from its financial embarrassment, and many of its members having gone into the army, was forced to surrender its charter.

In the spring of 1865, the following named Master Masons, residents of Sigourney and vicinity, petitioned the Grand Master of Masons of Iowa to grant them a dispensation to meet and work as a lodge.

J. H. Sanders, as W. M.; James Dickson, as S.W.; Wm.Wait, as J.W. Samuel Melogne, John W. Miller, A. C. Pice, Wm. A. Blair, John C. Hogin, M. T. Siverly, J. S. Griffin, A. E. Lowe, J. L. Smith, E. P. Brockertson, W. W. Randall, J. M. Ferguson, J. T. Parker, Dudley Buck and B. Frankin.

Prayer of petitioners was granted, dispensation received, dated July 14, 1865, and signed by A. E. Guilbert, Most Worshipful Grand Master; T. S. Parvin, Right Worshipful Grand Secretary, and naming the new lodge Blazing Star, U. D:, the brethren above named got permission of Bro. J. C. Hogin to meet in the lodge occupied by Hogin Lodge No 32, most of the furniture belonging to Hogin Lodge 32 still being in the room, with some extempore jewels, and with a determination to succeed, the brethren met August 2, 1865, and opened a lodge. Dispensation read and secretary instructed to rent the room, procure stationery, books, etc. The next meeting was August 30, 1865. Met October 4, 1865. At this meeting the secretary reported that the hall had been rented at $40 per year

By referring to the records we find that the lodge had twenty-two meetings, up to June 2, 1866, being the time they were working under dispensation, working in some or all of the degrees at most of the meetings. How well the future will tell. On March 13, 1866 a school of instruction was opened by W. B. Langridge. This instruction continued four days, meeting at 9 A. M., and 2 and 7 P. M. each day. To this school much of the interest and prosperity of the lodge is due.

At the annual commencement of the Grand Lodge, held in Davenport Iowa, in June, 1866, a charter was granted, and on the request of the members of Blazing Star Lodge, the name was changed to Webb Lodge, the number of the lodge 182.

On June 23, 1866, Special Deputy, William Hursey, appointed by the Grand Master to organize Webb Lodge, No. 182, called the brethren together and with proper ceremonies organized the lodge and delivered to them their charter. At this meeting the officers elected and installed were as follows: John T. Parker, W. M.; James Dickson, S. W.; L. McCoy, J. W.; Sanford Harned, treasurer; W. B. Squires, secretary.

From the proceedings of the Grand Lodge we find the following named persons were members of Blazing Star Lodge, at the time the same was chartered as Webb Lodge No. 182: J. H. Sanders, James Dickson, Samuel Melogne, John W. Miller, A. C. Price, Wm. A. Blair, John C. Hogin, J. S. Griffin, A. E. Lowe, J. L., Smith, W. W. Randall, J. M. Ferguson, J. T. Parker, Dudley Bnck, B. Frankin, S. E. Hall, W. S. Parmley, John S. Maple, T. Everts, Joel Long, J. H. Triggs, C. C. Wilson, H. H. Boegle, S. Harned, D. T. Miller, C. H. Mackey, L. Melogne, B. R. Hogin, J. T. Blair, R. L. Donnell, W. B. Squires, Master Masons.

H. E. Havens, John A. Donnell and R. Bell, Fellow Crafts.

Miram Pinkerton, D, P. Swails and W. B. Merriam Entered Apprentices, and that Wm. Wait, E. P. Robertson and M. T. Siverly had been dimitted during the year.

Brother James L. Hogin, Past Grand Master, of Indiana, and of Iowa, for whom two lodges were named, one at Danville, Hendricks county, Indiana, and one at Sigourney, Keokuk county Iowa, he having organized each of them, and was their first Master, was unanimously elected an honorary member of Blazing Star Lodge, U. D. The above named Masons were the charter members of Webb Lodge No. 182, A. F. & A. M. Upon receiving their charter the brethren redoubled their diligence and went to work; during the first year of the charter the lodge rented a room of Joseph Oyelmeyer, for a term of five years. This room is 22x60 and situate in the second story, north half of said Oyelmeyer's business rooms, north of the north east corner of the square. The lodge, on moving to this room, procurred an entire new outfit, and in conjunction with Joppa Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, then organizing, fitted up the room suitable for lodge and chapter; they together occupied this room until the expiration of the lease, at which time the lodge rented the third story of the Thomas Johnson Block on the north side of the public square, to which they removed, and which they now occupy, with a membership on May 1, 1879, of seventy-two members, lodge free of debt, money at interest, and property kept insured. To go back and give details perhaps would not be of interest to but few, further than to say the lodge has been successful from the start, the brethren dwelling together in unity, but few family quarrels and they amicably adjusted.

The lodges in Sigourney have been honored with one Grand Master, James L. Hogin, Sr., who at the annual communication of the Grand Lodge held at Mount Pleasant, Henry county, Iowa, June 6, 1854, was elected Grand Master, and who served one year.

I. A. Keck, a member of Webb Lodge, No. 182, at the meeting of the Grand Lodge held at Davenport, Iowa, on June 5, 1877, was elected Grand Treasurer, and served one year.

Many have been called from labor to refreshment at the order of the Supreme Grand Master of all, and we trust have been found worthy of wages; many have dimitted and gone to other jurisdictions, and wherever they may be we hope they sometimes think of the old lodge and its members.

Capitular Masonry

On the second day of December, 1867, a dispensation was granted by the Most Excellent Grand High Priest of Iowa to the following named companions: James L. Hogin, Sr., William Hursey, J. H. Sanders, Wm. Wait, F. B. Matthews, James Dickson, J. C. Wilson, D. N. Newton, H. N. Henderson and E. O. Riley to meet and work as a Chapter of Royal Arch Masons in Sigourney, Keokuk county, Iowa, under the name el Joppa Chapter, R. A. M. Under dispensation, by that authority, the companions met and organized—James L. Hogin, Sr., as High Priest, the balance of the companions taking rank in the order their names appear above. During the time the chapter was under dispensation the following named Master Masons were exalted: John T. Parker, J. H. Shawhan, J.  P. Yerger, Lycurgus McCoy, J. T. Blair, A. Roberts, Sanford Harned, R. B. Hogin, W. B. Merriam, Dudley Buck, J. S, Griffin, H. A. Herrick, J. C. Jennis, A. C. Romig, B. Frankin and Dennis Cokeley. On the sixteenth day of October, 1868, a charter was granted to the above named companions and Joppa Chapter, No. 40, R. A. M., was duly organized, since which time they have continued to meet, work, and have prospered; they have their home with the lodge (Webb 182).

Cryptic Masonry

On the sixteenth day of October, 1870, a charter was granted to James L. Hogin, Sr., W. B. Merriam, J. P. Yerger, J. H, Shawhan, James Dickson, J. T. Blair, J. H. Sanders, John T. Parker and William Wilson, Jr., to work as Sigourney Council No. 14, Royal and Select Masters, in Sigourney, Iowa. B. Crabb, M. E. G. M. of Iowa; organized the council and set them to work; the council met and worked for a short time, but at the time the council degree's were given to the chapter the council had not met for about one year and but once in three years, not because the companions did not appreciate the council degrees, but because most of the members had not time to devote to the council; having once received the degrees they fell back on the fountain-head; (Blue Lodge Masonry). So ended the council, it being attached to the chapter.

A. O. U. W.

Penn Lodge No. 62 was organized April 18, 1876, and chartered April 19, 1876; John T. Parker was Master Workman. The next M. W. was G. D. Woodin, then John A. Donnell, then H. C. Adams, then J. T. Thompson, then Josiah Fisher, then J. W. Hanson and at present Levi Bower. The first death among the order at this place was that of Dr. S. W. Huff, who died recently, and by virtue of his membership leaves to his family $2,000, the main object of the order being to secure to the families of members these pecuniary benefits. At the time of organization there were about thirty members of the order, at present there are seventy-seven. The actual expense to each member averages about $12.00 per year. The lodge room is situated in White's block, south side of the public square. Regular communication every Friday evening; the dues are $4.00 per year, assessments $1.05 each.

Temperance Societies

In the spring of 1879 there was a very successful temperance revival, resulting from the earnest efforts of Major Boutecon, a gentleman who has achieved a greater reputation throughout the State than any other of the many who have been operating in this direction. During his stay in the town four hundred and twenty-five signed the pledge, and two temperance societies were formed: one, composed of ladies, called the White Ribbon; and one, composed of gentlemen, called the Red Ribbon society. The officers of the former are: president, Mrs. Sarah A. Merriam; vice-president, Mrs. J. P. Yerger; secretary, Miss Bracken; treasurer, Mrs. S. D. Cook. Of the latter: I. S. Drummond. president; J. B. Adams, vice-president; G. W. Kelley, secretary; Minor Wightman, treasurer.

The societies work in unison and have a hall in common, the meetings being held at different times, and the books and papers with which the reading-room is supplied being the common property of both.

Irving Literary Society

This society was organized in 1874, and is composed of a number of young people of literary taste, a large number of business men and nearly all of the professional men of the town. A neat hall has been fitted up in the rear of Donnell & Brooks' office, which, among other things useful for the society, is a library consisting of about two hundred well selected books. There is an executive committee, whose duty it is each week to appoint what is familiarly known as a "star actor." Upon the "star actor" devolves the duty of furnishing the chief performance of the evening, which may consist of an essay, an address or a recitation. In addition to this performance there are shorter essays, declamations, music and discussions. The present officers are as follows: president, R. L. Donnell; vice-president, Miss Leona Sampson; secretary, C. M. Brown; treasurer, T. H. Benton;, librarian, J. T. Brooks; corresponding secretary, Frank Yerger; executive committee, S. A. James. J. A. Donnell, H. S. Snodgrass.


The first religions organization formed in Sigourney was that of the Methodists, in 1847, under the influence of Rev. Mr. Hulbert, a local preacher of that denomination, who settled here in 1846. This organization flourished for a time, meetings being held in the old log court-house. In the course of a few years this organization went down, and the church was not re-organized till the winter of 1850.

The following were some of the members of this organization: Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Hogin, Mr. and Mrs. Hewett, Mrs. Eliza Hogin, J. L. Hogin, Mrs. Moody and E. Hogin. A frame church was erected in 1854, at a cost of $2,500. This church was dedicated by Dr. Berry in the spring of 1855. The following, in the order given, have been pastors: Revs. Messrs. Burley, Skinner, Orr, Bamford, Hestwood, Gruber, Slusser, Barnhart, Teter, Lawback, Morry, Walker, Brown, Gennis, Reynolds, Holoway, Myers, Burns, Wilnes, Noble, Thompson, Cooper, and Barton, the present pastor. The present membership numbers one hundred and eleven; the Sabbath-school, about two hundred.

The Baptist Church

Of Sigourney was organized in June, 1857. Composed principally of members who had previously belonged to an organization two miles west of Sigourney, which, was perhaps, the first organized Baptist church in the county. The names of the original members were as follows: Richard Chrisman and wife, John Wightman and wife, Isaac G. Wilson and wife, Benjamine Eaton and wife, A. T. Page, Linus Muzzy and wife, Willis Rogers and wife, Rebeckah Basey, Isaac Basey, Sr., and wife, Rev. C. Bullock and wife. Rev. James Frey and wife moved to Sigourney and became members shortly after the organization. Of the above members, only five still retain their membership in the church, viz: R. Chrisman and wife, Rev. James Frey and wife and Rebeckah Basey.

The first church edifice was commenced in 1859, but owing to hard times, was not completed until 1863, at a cost of $3,000. This work was accomplished mainly through the untiring efforts of their pastor, Rev. Jas. Frey, who gave all his salary, his team, and mortgaged his own homestead, to secure the completion of the building. The old building was remodeled and enlarged in 1873, at an expense of $2,200. This second improvement was also made through the personal efforts and indefatigable energy of Rev. James Frey.

The first building was dedicated November, 1863, and the second time in 1873, in both cases by Rev. Mr. Frey, who has been pastor a greater portion of the time, and is at present pastor. Revs. Messrs. West, Pratt, Coffman and Crandall, have also been pastors for a short time.

Mr. Frey being the pioneer Baptist preacher of the county, the following biography will be interesting: He was born in 1827, in Knox county, Ohio; educated at Granville College, and entered the ministry in 1851. He came to Iowa in and settled at Sigourney, in 1857, and accepted the pastorate of the Baptist church. In 1860 he was elected county superintendent of schools, and served in this office for two years. With the exception of these two years his time has been given exclusively to the work of the ministry. With the exception of three years at Knoxville, and two and a-half years at Fairfield, his work has been confined to the limits of Keokuk county.

The First Presbyterian Church

Of Sigourney was organized in January, 1855. The original members were John Wilson, Nathan H. Hall, James H. Greigg, Margery A. Greigg, Jane Wilson, Susanna D. Wilson and Wilhelmina Heider. John Wilson was first elected ruling elder. In 1856 a frame church-building was erected which served the congregation until 1876, when the present elegant and commodious church-building was erected at a cost of $8,000. Rev. Mr. Smock, the first Presbyterian minister of the county, who was chiefly instrumental in the organization of the church, was the first pastor. He was followed by Mathews, Kelly and Hare. Rev. Mr. Snodgrass, formerly of Oskaloosa, is their present pastor. The present membership numbers ninety-three. The Sunday-school in connection with the church, was organized in 1857. E. W. McJunkin is the superintendent; the attendance is about two hundred and twenty-five.

Seventh Day Adventists

This church was organized October 2, 1869. Peyton Prichard, Lycurgus McCoy, William Carlysle, C. E. Moser, Salina E. Stranahan, Ruth E. Nichols, Margaret L. Proctor, Rebecca J. Griffin, Margaret Moser, Margaret H. Shollenbarger, John Hankins and William H. Hankins were the original members. A frame church-building was erected in the fall of 1872, at a cost of $2,300. On Sunday, January 19, 1873, the church was dedicated by Elder D. M. Canright, who, together with George G. Butler, R. M. Kilgore, E. W. Farnsworth and Lycurgus McCoy, have been pastors since that time. The present membership is sixty-seven.

The organization consists of a covenant to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. There is no creed, the Bible alone being the guide of faith. In the summer of 1869, Elders Canright and Butler came to Sigourney and first preached, creating a great excitement by expounding doctrines theretofore unheard by the people. This was the origin of the church.

St. Mary's Catholic Church

Was organized in 1873 by Father Louisman. The original members were Francis Marion, William Dumron, Patrick Cudika, John Cullen, John Morrisy, M. Morrisy, F. Shipfer, Mr. Frankin, Michael Pearl, James Dwier, etc. A stone church was erected in 1873 at a cost of $3,000 which has not yet been dedicated. Father Louisman, J. F. Nugent, P. J. Lynch, Edward McLaughlin and Patrick McNamera have been the pastors, the latter being the present one. The present membership consists of about twenty-five families.

The church was built by the unceasing efforts of Father Louisman, when there were but a few Catholic families in the neighborhood, and having been furnished by those who were members of no church. The church is still considerably in debt, and there is some talk of abandoning it and erecting one nearer the centre of business.


The first school-house was erected in Sigourney in the summer of 1850, previous to that time school having been held in the old court-house. This house was a frame building, 16 x 24, and was erected by Miles F. Reeves. The building is still standing, it being occupied at present by Mr. Corbin as a residence. The first teacher who ruled in this building was Hannah Gray. The second school-house was a two-story building, containing four-rooms; this building is still standing, and is at present occupied as a residence by Mr. Pickett, formerly principal of the Sigourney schools. At present there are two commodious brick school-houses capable of accommodating the rapidly increasing population of the city for some time to come. The one situated in the south part of the city has been in use for a number of years, and at the time it was built was considered a very creditable building. It was not erected without a heated contest, and in this particular its history does not differ from the history of a majority of the school-buildings of the State. The building in the north part of the city has just been completed. It is not as large as the other one, but is an elegant structure, and well adapted to the purposes for which it was built, viz.: the accommodation of the primary pupils in that part of the town. The following are the present members of the school board:

A. G. Brown, president.
E. Shafer.
J. H. Shawhan.
R. Adams.
William Veitch.
M. Wightman.
C. M. Brown, secretary.
Theodore Robinson, treasurer.

Transcribed by Pat Wahl.