Taylor County, Iowa History 1881 by Lyman Evans
(transcribed by Linda Kestner: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Has a history almost as early as Jackson township. Stephen H. Parker, who is now a hale and well-preserved old gentleman residing at Bedford, came to the township in 1845. W. H. Parker, his son, and a citizen of Bedford, was the first white male child born in Taylor county. For several years Mr. Stephen H. Parker was the wealthiest man in the county, and in southwestern Iowa. In fact his circumstances were such that he would have been pronounced "well heeled" to-day. The first house with a shingled roof was built by Mr. Parker in 1852. He hauled the shingles (page 570) from St. Joseph, Missouri. Mr. Parker also erected the first barn in the county. The property where these pioneer structures were built is now owned by Mr. B. V. Martin. "Fort Parker," where every one gathered when the noble red man of the forest went around with "blood in his eyes," was located here. In fact, to Stephen H. Parker is due a place in the history of Taylor county that has never been accredited him. In pioneer times his home was headquarters for every one. In peace, there were congregated the scattered settlers from far and near. When danger menaced the community, Mr. Parker's doors were open to all, and there the defenses were made and means of safety planned. For seven years after Mr. Parker came to Taylor county, not a single rod of land was surveyed, and to secure a little timber he was obliged to enter 700 acres. For his fire-place and chimneys Mr. Parker obtained brick three miles east of Maryville, Missouri. Their flour they went to St. Joseph for. If a nag lost a shoe, the nearest place it could be reset was at Maryville. Between St. Joseph and Mr. Parker's home there was not a single bridge. Often in crossing streams they were compelled to put their wagons into pieces and float them over in what were called "dug-outs," which were nothing more nor less than pioneer canoes. The first plows may have been beauties, architecturally; but the farmer of this era would hoist his nose at an altitude dangerous to its "bridge," at sight of one of them. The mould-boards were made of wood and the shares of metal.
There were twelve families living in the county at that time: Isaac Guyll, who was the first settler, Mr. Parker says; Matthew Hindman, Mr. Foster, James Ross, Jacob W. Ross, Jacob Miller , Brice Summers, John and Gideon Daugherty, Amos Lowe and John Dailey. Amos Lowe lived on what is now known as the Ab. Daugherty farm, and John Dailey where Jonathan Daugherty now lives. Mr. Dailey went to California, amassed considerable money, and while returning was robbed and murdered. John Daugherty married Mr. Dailey's widow. One of Mr. Parker's daughters married Captain James Parke, who came to the county at a very early day to start a woolen factory for an enthusiast who came hither to invest some money in that business. The mill was never built, and instead of returning to Philadelphia, the gallant captain fell in love with Mr. Parker's daughter, was married, and settled in Taylor county. He is now mining in New Mexico, and his wife died in June, 1878.
Mr. L. Mohler, of Bedford, was another old settler of Clayton township. He built the first school-house there in 1856, near where Mr. C. C. Mohler, his son, now lives. The cost of the structure came chiefly from his own purse. In 1855 Mr. Mohler paid three dollars per bushel for corn. In (page 571) 1856 the families living in Clayton township were J. C. Meeham, L. Mohler, Frederick Cox, William Cox, Stephen H. Parker, John C. Ray, John Greeson, Woodford Dale and William Huddlestone. Frederick Cox died in Taylor county and was buried in the Mohler cemetery, near Bedford. William Cox died in Missouri, and was there buried.
In the days of which we write, the noble red man was quite numerous. He was a great borrower. A cooking utensil used by a "pale-face" was his great delight. The white sister's cooking pleased him immensely. Mrs. Mohler once had a guest in the person of one of these noble aborigines. He was hungry, and his sense panted for "flap-jacks" and molasses. And Mrs. Molher accommodated him, and that happy Indian kept her busy over a hot stove for one steady hour. A favorite occasion with the Indians was a dog feast. They were fonder of it than a girl of a picnic and mosquito bites, or a boy of fire-crackers and a fourth of July barbecue. One lone, lorn dog was the usual sacrifice. The dog, its skin, its hair, its -- well all there was of the dog, was thrown upon a fire and thus cooked, while the braves and maidens formed in a war-dance around. Muskrats made, also, a favorite dish with these good people whom we never see any more, save now and then when they have a lot of ugly, kicking ponies they want to sell at a good price. In 1850 they left the county, the government having provided for them in Kansas, but they would wander back, and did for many years, to the old camping grounds. A favorite rendezvous was where the Mohler picnic grounds now are. Quite a number always gathered where the Platteville road crosses Honey Creek. Upon the East One Hundred and two River, near Conway, was a camping ground much loved by the Indians who weren't too lazy to hunt. It was near Blue Grove, the head of East One Hundred and Two River, where game was plentiful. Usually there were from three to five hundred in the county after their removal by the government to Kansas. As a rule they were quiet, and easily scared. A good sized switch would drive a dozen of them into a skedaddle like a flock of sheep. As beggars they could double discount the lousiest Iowa tramp that ever went unhung. In the early part of 1855 a man was killed in Ringgold county. It was charged to the Indians, although very many deemed them guiltless, and laid the crime to his white brethern. But it created great commotion in the different neighborhoods, and the citizens put themselves as quickly as possible in an attitude of defense. In these days deer were plenty. Buffalo had gone only a short time before. The prairies were white with their bones. Elk horns as tall as a man laid about. Prairie fires were burning almost constantly, consuming farm products, and often the farmer's buildings. Wolves were bold. One night a wolf sought to take Mrs. Woodford Dale's (page 572) child from her arms in Mrs. Mohler's dooryard while returning from Maryville. A black wolf attacked Mr. Mohler in his wagon. The black, or timber wolves, were not abundant, but the gray, or prairie wolves were as numerous, almost as the late grasshoppers. Rattlesnakes abounded everywhere. Bites were frequent, and then as now, whisky was the unfailing antidote.
The first girl baby that Dr. Bent saw fit to take to the township was Mary, daughter of J. C. and Lydia Meehan. The noted Col. Means, who was famous as a rebel sympathizer in the first days of secession, was probably the first man to preach in Clayton township. Rev. J. M. Stockton, of the same church, whose unionism was as strong as Mean's hatred of it, was not much later in spreading the glad tidings. Section 20 saw the first school and Dan. Greeson was the teacher. Several years since the Baptists held meetings in the township, but they have no organization.
The Methodist Protestants have an organization at the Bower's school-house. The original members were Adam Wood and wife, M. L. Payton, and others whose names we have been unable to learn. This church was first started at the Beall school-house on section 9. The different pastors have been abundant. The first was the Rev. Martindale. The church was first organized just after the war, and when removed it had a membership of twenty-five or thirty. The present pastor is Rev. Hinshaw. For some time, until quite recently, the church was in charge of Rev. W. M. VanFleet. A prosperous sabbath-school is connected with the church.
John C. Meehan, who came to the county in 1851, met with a severe accident, New Year's Night 1878. While returning home, walking north on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad track, about one mile and a half north of Bedford, the up bound express struck and knocked him from the track. He was taken up, carried to Conway, and returned to his own home next day. He was fearfully mutilated on the head and face. For months his recovery was considered impossible. He is now well, save a slight paralysis of one side of his face. During his confinement the Odd Fellows lodge at Bedford, of which he was a member, cared for him with unflagging zeal.
In 1869 the annals of Clayton township were marked by a terrible crime. Davis and Daniel Griffith and Jesse Knouse were neighbors. The Griffiths' hogs were feeding on the good things that were growing on the premises of Knouse. Knouse went gunning with a six shooting carbine for those hogs. The Griffiths couldn't stand that, and went over to interview Mr. Knouse. A quarrel ensued, in which Knouse shot David twice while he was running from him - once in the neck and then in the arm. David (page 573) recovered, and still lives in the vicinity. Daniel was shot dead by Knouse. After the affray the murderer quietly went to Squire Walker's and wanted to "pay his fine," saying that he had killed a couple of fellows. When the grand jury met he was indicted for murder in the first degree. Hon. L. T. McConn, who defended him, secured a change of venue to the District Court of Ringgold county. He was there tried before Judge James G. Day, now of the supreme bench, and was found guilty of murder in the second degree. Judge Day sentenced him to the penitentiary for life. An appeal was made to the Supreme Court, and the action of the court below was reversed. At a new trial in Ringgold county Knouse was found guilty of manslaughter, and was sentenced by Judge James W. McDill, now United States Senator, to five years in the penitentiary. He served three months, and was pardoned out by Gov. Samuel Merrill.
Clayton township has many farmers who are wealthy in large farms and herds of cattle. Charles Steele, he of the Bedford opera house, will rank first, and then will come George W. Keiffer, C. C. Mohler, John C. Meehan, Vincent Beall and Simeon Wright. Wright owns the bulk of his land, however, in Marshall township, where he has retired for the purpose of enjoying the remainder of his days.
CALHOUN, ALEX., farmer and stock-grower, post-office Conway, was born in Muskingum county, Ohio, October 1, 1840. While quite young his parents moved to Mercer county, Illinois, where he grew to manhood and engaged in farming until the breaking out of the rebellion. In 1862 he enlisted in company H, Eighty-fourth Illinois infantry volunteers, and served three years. He participated in some of the most hotly contested battles of the war, among which were Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, Lookout Mountain, Buzzard's Roost, Resaca, Dallas, Texas, Kenesaw, Atlanta, Jonesboro, and sieges of Franklin and Nashville. He was mustered out on the 8th and discharged on the 24th of June, 1865. He then returned to his home and engaged in farming until 1868, when, owing to bad health he retired from the farm and commenced trading. In 1874 he came to Taylor county and purchased a farm which he hires worked and spends his time in teaching school. He was married in 1868 to Miss Lizzie Emerson, a lady of excellent qualities. They are the parents of five children, four sons and one daughter. Our subject is a member of the Right Angle Lodge A. F. and A. M., and is secretary of the order.
COLE, W. H., farmer, section sixteen, post-office Bedford, born June 5, 1843, in Parke county, Indiana. His early days were spent in acquiring an education. He attended the Indiana State University three terms, came to this county in 1860, remained two years, then returned to his native State and enlisted in the Eighty-fifth Indiana infantry. He was in the service but a short time when he was taken prisoner. He was paroled and returned to his home in the Hoosier State, remained there a short time settling some business for his brother, then again came to Iowa. He taught school in Bedford and several other places, went to Missouri and engaged in farming nine years, after which he returned to Bedford and embarked in the mercantile business with his brother. In 1880 he moved to his present location where he owns an excellent farm of one-hundred and sixty-five acres. He was united in marriage in 1864, with Miss N. R. Newkirk, a native of the Empire State. They have three children: James C., William P., and Maud.
GRIFFITH, DAVID, farmer, section four, post-office Conway, is a native of Ohio, born in August, 1827. While in his minority he learned the carpenter and joiner trade, which he followed for several years. In 1855 he traveled over Indiana and Illinois, and the following year came to Taylor county where he has since made his home. He was married in 1858 to Miss Adaline Johnson, also a native of the Buckeye State. From this union there are six children: Mary O., Iowa L., Sheridan D., Lenni M., Macus A. and _____. Mr. Griffith has a farm of 120 acres. He came to this county when it was new and has witnessed its growth and development. He has a pleasant home.
HESS, C. C., farmer, section eight, post-office Bedford, is a native of Germany, born in 1832, and came to America with his brother when about fourteen years of age, stopped at Rochester, New York, and engaged as a milk peddler for four dollars per month. He remained in that business several years, then tried to collect the money due him but failed. He received thirteen dollars of the amount. He then concluded to "row a boat of his own" and engaged in selling pens, pencils, etc. His friends scoffed at his new enterprise but he persevered. He came to Bedford in 1854 and (page 673) engaged in the mercantile business several years. In 1880 he moved to his present location. He is now the owner of 2,000 acres of land in this county, 900 of which are under cultivation. He was married in 1867 to Miss Mary E. Johnson. They have five children living: Charlotte, Charles C., Esther M., Arthur R., and Fannie A. Thus by his industry and economy our subject has arisen from the humble peddler of steel pens to a position among the wealthiest and most honored of Taylor county's citizens.
KEIFER, G. W., farmer and stock raiser, section thirty-three, post-office Bedford. Among the many enterprising farmers of Clayton township our subject is worthy of mention. He is a native of Crawford county, Ohio, born October 18, 1832, and there reared and educated. In 1861 he engaged in the produce business in which he continued eight years. He came to Taylor county in 1870, and located where he now lives. Was married in April, 1857, to Miss A. C. Trimble, a native of Ohio. >From this union there are eight children: Edwin K., Leslie E., Ellen, John, William, Zettella, Samuel and George Washington. Mr. K. has a large farm of 787-1/2 acres in good cultivation and well improved. He is a member of the Christian Church.
MAHAN, WILLIAM, farmer and stock-grower, section 10, post-office Bedford, was born in Boyle county, Kentucky, April 7, 1834. A decade later his parents became residents of Hendricks county, Indiana, where he was educated and grew to manhood. Came to Iowa in 1850, locating where the city of Bedford now stands. Was married March 23, 1856, to Miss Rachel John, a native of Indiana, theirs being perhaps the first marriage that ever took place in Taylor county. They have six children living: Florida, Floyd E., Indiana V., John S., Ella and Jessie. One, Charles, is deceased. In 1856 he moved to his present location. His present residence stands on the exact spot where the first school-house in Clayton township was built. He has a good farm of two hundred and forty acres and is engaged in growing fine stock. Took the first premium at the Taylor county fair in 1880 on Short-Horn cattle.
MARTIN, H. T., farmer, section five, post-office Bedford, was born February 3, 1837, in Putnam county, Indiana. His youth was spent on a farm. In 1863 he came to Taylor county and located where he now resides. In 1858 Miss Mary A. Dunkin, of Indiana, became his bride. They are the happy parents of five children: Lony B., Ada F., Emma R., Martha and Jessie. Mr. Martin has a nice farm of two hundred and fifty-five acres with first-class improvements. He is an honest, industrious man of good habits and awake to all measures which tend to promote common interests.
MEEHAN, J. C., farmer and stock grower, section seventeen, post-office Bedford, was among the first settlers of Clayton township. He was born in Knox county, Kentucky, May 9, 1830. His youth was spent in agricultural pursuits and in attending school. Previous to his coming West a number of his friends visited Andrew county, Missouri and returned with such a glowing account that he was induced to join in the tide of emigration. In 1872 went to Andrew county, Missouri; remained there until the autumn of the last named year, then came to Taylor county for the purpose of visiting friends. Being favorably impressed with the country he was prevailed upon to remain and teach a subscription school which had just been organized. His school consisted of about twenty-eight pupils of various ages ranging from five to thirty-five. In the spring of 1853 he engaged in farming on Honey Creek and has since devoted his time to agricultural pursuits. Was married in the autumn of 1853 to Miss Lydia Cox, a native of Indiana and a daughter of F. Cox, one of the pioneers of Clayton township. They have raised and educated twelve children. Since his residence in this county Mr. M. has held many offices of trust and honor. He served as county clerk one term, was assessor of Clayton township twelve years. He came to this county a poor boy, but by industry and good management has become one of our most substantial citizens. His farm consists of two hundred and ten acres of land well improved with comfortable buildings, orchard groves, etc. Subject has taken great interest in public affairs and while serving the people proved a worthy and competent officer.
MOHLER, C. C., farmer, section twenty, post-office, Bedford. Prominent among the well-to-do farmers of Clayton township is the subject. He was born in Morgan county, Ohio, in 1840, and grew up in the city of Zanesville where he received his education. In 1856 his parents emigrated to Iowa and located in this county where our subject attained his majority and began life for himself. In the spring of 1864 he enlisted in company D, Forty-sixth Iowa and served about four months. His time having expired he was discharged. Was married in 1865 to Miss Martha E. John, a native of the Hoosier State. Of their children four are living: Ettie M., Hattie J., Franklin J. and Horace H. Mr. M. has a farm of three hundred and forty-nine acres, all in good cultivation with a commodious house and barn. He constructed the first windmill made in Clayton township. He makes a specialty of raising Short-Horn cattle, also grows horses and hogs. Mr. and Mrs. Mohler are members of the Presbyterian Church.
REID, GEO., farmer, section thirty-two, post-office Bedford, was born in Crawford county, Ohio, August 31, 1841, where he was raised and educated (page 675). In 1862 he enlisted in company D, One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Ohio Volunteers, being on guard duty most of the time of his service. He was discharged in 1865, and returned to his home in Ohio. The following year he came to Iowa, located in Clayton township, and has since made it his home. He was married March 14, 1867, to Miss Sarah E. Gardner, a native of Illinois. They have four children: Mary, Roxy, Leroy E., and Gale. Mr. Reid now owns a farm of 195 acres (which he has admirably arranged), good residence and out-buildings. He is a consistent member of the M. E. Church.
TAYLOR, R. A., farmer and stock-raiser, section five, post-office Conway, is a native of England, born in October, 1839. When about fourteen years old he came with his mother to the United States, and settled in Illinois, where his mother died. He then hired out by the month, worked several years, and accumulated sufficient means to enable him to come west. He came to Iowa in 1859, locating where he now lives. When he arrived in Taylor county he had only a team and a few dollars in money. He has now 518 acres of land, mostly in cultivation, good buildings; and is one of our most substantial farmers. Was first married in October, 1858, to Miss Mary F. Golliday, by whom he had two children: Annie and Alice. Mrs. Taylor departed this life in 1866. Mr. Taylor was again married in 1868, to Miss Martha Miller, who was the first white female born in Taylor county. They have five children: Mary, Martha B., Alfred, Robert and Tessie.
TINDER, CHARLES, farmer, section thirty-five, post-office Bedford, born May 15, 1830, in Hendricks county, Indiana, and was there educated and reared to manhood. He came to Taylor county in 1866. He was married to Miss Cynthia Ann Hagard, a native of Kentucky. They have three children: Jesse, Mary (now Mrs. Barns) and Millie. Mr. Tinder is now the owner of a good farm of one hundred and twenty acres in a high state of cultivation and he is making a success of his vocation.
TURNER, H. F., farmer and stock-raiser, section twenty-three, post-office Bedford, was born in Chester county, Pennsylvania, in August, 1844. When nine years old his parents moved to Knox county, Illinois, where he grew to manhood and attended the common schools. In September, 1863, he enlisted in company D, Seventh Illinois cavalry, and served with distinction until the close of the war. He participated in the battles of Nashville, Campbell's Hill, Franklin (Tenn.), and all others in which his regiment was engaged. Was always ready for duty, excepting one month when in the hospital at Memphis. After the rebellion was over he returned to his home, where he remained until 1876, then came to Taylor county and located on his present farm. On Christmas Day, 1868, he married (page 676) Miss Alice Barnent, a native of Illinois. They have two children: Nora and Runkle. Mr. Turner now owns 240 acres of good land, and is extensively engaged in raising and feeding cattle and hogs.
WHEELER, R. G., farmer, section thirty-two, post-office Bedford. Subject was born in Erie county, Pennsylvania, June 1, 1847, and spent his youth in acquiring an education. Taught thirteen terms of school. Entered Bryant & Stratton's Business College, and graduated from that institution. In 1866 he engaged as book-keeper for a wholesale grocery and remained in that position for a time; he was then employed by the Union Pacific Railroad Company as an operator, having learned telegraphy while in college. Moved to Illinois in 1869 and kept books for railroad contractors for some time, but resigned his position on account of ill health and in 1871 came to Taylor county, Iowa. He was married July 7, 1878, and at once moved to his present location. He has a farm of one hundred and sixty acres and a good home.