Taylor County, Iowa History 1881 by Lyman Evans
(transcribed by Linda Kestner: lfkestner3@msn.com)
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Gets its name from James K. Polk, who was inaugurated president of the United States, March 4, 1845.  In those early days (for Polk was a township in 1851, though much larger than now) it was strong in the Democratic faith.  Hence its name after one of the Democratic party's presidents.  It continued Democratic through all the fifties, sixties and nearly all the seventies.  In 1876, it changed in political complexion.  Peter Cooper, Greenback candidate for president of the Republic, carried it by quite a handsome majority.  Polk, and its neighbor on the north, Mason, were the only townships in the United States where victory perched on the banners of Mr. Cooper.  In 1877 the Greenbackers carried it a second time, and again in 1878.  In 1879, mainly through the personal activity of Aaron B. Oxley and W. H. Hutcheson, it was wrested from the Greenbackers, with whom the Democrats were allied in the struggle that year, and, also, in 1876, 1877 and in 1878.  In the presidential canvass of 1880 the bonds uniting them were dissolved, the Democrats voting for General Hancock and the Greenbackers for Weaver.
Polk township is crossed almost centrally from the north to the south by the West One Hundred and Two River, the largest stream in the county, excepting the East Nodaway, which passes through Nodaway township and the extreme northwest of Dallas.  It is bordered with considerable excellent timber.  Its valleys are wide and fertile, wonderfully so, excepting in a few isolated places where water stands throughout the year, save in exceedingly dry seasons.  But these can be made very valuable by drainage. The soil of the township is very rich, and never fails to yield as abundantly as other parts of the county.  In very dry seasons its corn crop is superior.  In 1881, when the crop was almost a failure over the county and throughout southwestern Iowa, Polk township farmers were promised a yield equal to that of the average years.  So it will be seen that its soil is productive and will stand all sorts of weather.  It was first settled in a very early day, and the old pioneer farmers who went there carried level heads upon their shoulders.  They knew just what was adapted to their wants, and settled there, and years later, in this dry season of 1881, the value of their judgment is proven.
The town of Buchanan is located on section 8, and has been for many years a noted place to the people of southwest Iowa and adjacent parts in Missouri.  Its name goes still further to show the political complexion of the sturdy pioneers thereabouts.  It is not a place of dimensions like Chicago - at least not now; but it is a good, thriving town, numbering perhaps (page 622) a hundred people, possibly more.  As a trading-point, there is no town of its size in Iowa that can excel it.  Here several of the wealthiest men in southern Iowa laid the foundations of their present fortunes.  Two of them now live at Clarinda, Page county, and none there are more prosperous or more esteemed.  Several have died who lived to bless the day that they began business in Buchanan.  The first physician who practiced medicine in Buchanan and Polk townships was Dr. Luther Bent, of Bedford.  Dr. James Stone was the first physician who located there.  He didn't aspire to that degree of perfection in the practice of his profession that Dr. Bliss, the president's physician, did; but he did the best he knew how, and thus will he and Bliss go down to posterity together.  Dr. Stone moved to California, and whether he is living or dead is not for this historian to say.  The first practitioner to settle there who was possessed of skill and ability, was a Dr. Will.  There were other Esculapians of some note who healed the sick in Buchanan and vicinity, and their deeds will be found in the biographies which appear elsewhere.
Buchanan saw the first school-house erected in the township. This was in 1858.  Its cost was borne by some of the public spirited people there, and was donated to the town by them.  Originally it had been built for a residence by one Lambert, who sold it to the citizens for the purpose above mentioned.  Buchanan has now a larger and much better school-edifice.  Its directors are gentlemen who will employ the best talent to be found.  Its schools are not excelled in the county, and the people around Buchanan are usually cultured and prosperous.  Buchanan is an independent school district….
The only post-office in the township is at Buchanan…Buchanan has two civic societies - the Masonic and Odd Fellow.  But one church building graces the town site. It is a commodious structure, and was built by the Christian denomination to whom it still belongs.  The church was organized in 1860.  In the years which have passed away since that time it has had some reverses, but it is now in a healthy and prosperous condition under the pastorate of W. L. Dunlavy.  Its membership exceeds one hundred.
For many years the Methodists were organized at Buchanan and flourished after the manner that is so common with this famous church, but dissensions arising in the fold, its strength was lost; its members ceased to care for church success, some united elsewhere, some have died and moved away, and so at this writing there is no real organization and no regular service.
The first religious assemblage in Polk township of which any knowledge can be had, was at Warnsley's Grove, on section 6.  This was in 1854.  Our record does not give the name of the pastor, but the presumption is that it was the Rev. J. M. Stockton, a Cumberland Presbyterian, and an old citizen of this county, who died in December, 1874.
In 1859 the Methodists of the township attended divine service in a Ross township log cabin dwelling house, situated on section 11, and owned by D. Martin.  Rev. Peterson was the then expounder of the gospel. The Methodists now worship God at the Fine school-house, which is located in the southwest part of the township.  Rev. I. Hilderbrand, of Memory, is the pastor.  The organization is in a healthy condition and the membership is growing. 
Of Sunday-schools we have but one account.  This is one held at the High Prairie school-house; its membership is fifty. C.F. Dresher is the superintendent.
A Mr. Buchanan taught the first school, in 1856.  In 1859 George Hatfield, who is deceased, taught a term in a log dwelling-cabin, located on section 11.  He had twelve pupils and was paid by private subscription.  Sarah McFarland, who is still living and a resident of the township, taught a term on section 6.  This was at a very early day, and it is claimed by some that it was the first term in the township.  Her pupils numbered fifteen. 
The first actual settler of Polk township was Mr. Thompson.  He came there in 1844, and died not long afterward.  None of his history is accessible to us.  Following him came Elias Bridgewater in 1852, from Orange county Indiana.  Mr. Bridgewater settled on section 6, where he still resides.  In 1877 he suffered the loss of his aged wife and helpmeet by drowning.  In a condition of mental aberration she threw herself into a deep well, and when her body was taken out she had long been dead.  William Ferguson, of Andrew county, Missouri, moved to Polk township in 1852, as did Mr. Peter Chrisman.  Ferguson settled on section 5, and Chrisman on section 7.  In 1853 Russell Barnes came from Buchanan county, Missouri; James B. Campbell, who is since dead, from the same place; Lynord Reagor, from Andrew county, Missouri, and from the same Thomas Dakin and Joseph Snodgrass, and Thomas Wade from Indiana.  Barnes settled on section 18, Campbell on section 8, Reagor on section 17, Dakin and Snodgrass on section 7 and Wade on section 25.  Wade is not living, Snodgrass lives in Page county, Dakin in Kansas, and Reagor is dead.  Campbell was the first sheriff of Taylor county… In 1854 Platte county, Missouri, sent Joseph Smith to Polk township. He located on section 9, and there he can now be found as happy as the 21st day of June is long.
In addition to the above named persons, in 1856, when Jacob Taylor emigrated to the township, there were living there Cyrus Wolfeton, William Hatfield, William Brandberry, Daniel Thompson, Milton Blake and Benjamin Ball.
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Later, but not much, came J. Ward, J. and S. Taylor, E. Cook, D. Clayton, James and Jesse Harris, Martin McKee, Washington and Harrison Clayton. 
Charles Deesher, well and favorably known through the county, arrived at his present abode October 8, 1858.  The first marriage solemnized after he came was that of T. Cole and Harriet Hobbert.  In 1860 his first daughter, Louisa was born.
The first birth of a male child in the township, of which recollection is had, was a son to James and Harriet Harris, 1856.  He was given the name of Daniel.
The first death in the township that we can hear of, was in the family of Joseph Smith.  His daughter died, and soon after his wife Jane followed.
John Oxley built the first school-house.  This honor is not disputed him.
Mrs. Thompson, whose husband was Polk township's earliest settler, wove the first cloth.  In those days "store clothes" and "store goods" were an unknown article in Taylor county.  The wife's skill at the loom and the labor of her fingers supplied the material with which he husband, her children and herself were arrayed; and her deft fingers made the same into the garments that warmed their bodies and hid their nakedness.
Among those who came after Mrs. Thompson, who were famous in the neighborhood as weavers, were Mrs. Reagor, Mrs. Ferguson and Mrs. Dyke, and many pleasant anecdotes are told of these most estimable women who so nobly and courageously aided their husbands in carving homes and fortunes in a land known only to the birds and animals.
In these times the nearest post-office was at Maryville, Missouri; and it can easily be imagined that the dear ones in the old homes so far away were heard from but rarely.  In 1856 the nearest railroad to Taylor county had not crossed the Mississippi River.  In 1852 the nearest railroad point was Peru, Illinois - at that time the terminus of the now Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway.  Whenever a letter or newspaper came it was often months en route, owing to the slowness of Uncle Sam's messengers.  But they were not to blame for this.  Heavy stages, lumbering coaches, clumsy carts, and worn-out ponies and carriers answered their purpose thoroughly in the old times, and if they seem to us the lifeless relics of a dead past it is because steam has come and taken their places.  A few years since it was a toilsome journey of several weeks to go from Chicago to the capital of the United States.  It now takes twenty-six hours.  The distance is 814 miles, and several hundred miles of it are up over the mountains of Virginia and Maryland, reaching in the State last named a distance of 8,000 feet above the sea.
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The nearest mill was Russell's, down the Nodaway River about twenty-five miles, and it was nothing but a "corn-cracker."  However, in 1856 Polk township had a "cracker" of its own.  A gentleman by the name of Stone erected a small structure on the West One Hundred and Two, east and a little north of the town of Buchanan.  Some of its remnants are still there to mark the site where it formerly stood.
Game was abundant in Polk township in pioneer times.  Deer were plenty, as were turkey, grouse, partridge and pheasant.  Indeed, until within the past three or four years turkeys have abounded in large numbers in the vicinity of Buchanan, and even now and then a straggler can be found.
Hunting and fishing were the favorite Sunday pastimes.  They would go out in the morning to hear the Rev. J. M. Stockton, who would drive in with his ox team.  After services they would form into groups and devote the balance of the day as before stated.
In 1858 Abner Majors, who is now a citizen of Page county (and whose father, by the way, was one of the commission that located the county seat at Bedford), met with an accident.  It was Christmas Day, and at a shooting match.  His gun exploded, and his left hand was badly mutilated.  Amputation was necessary, which was neatly performed by Dr. Farrens, who since died at Clarinda.
Of later settlers we would mention Peter Fine who came in 1857, and lives on section 19, John M. Fine, who came in the same year, and resides on section 30, and Jesse Laswell, a '57-er, who lives on section 26.  Abijah Wilder came in 1852, and his home is on section 29.
This ends the history of Polk township.  It is not complete, but it is as fully so as it could be made with the information in our possession.  If some of the particulars are incorrect, that fault is chargeable to the recollections of those who have furnished us with the facts.
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BAILIE, JOSEPH B., farmer and blacksmith, Buchanan, a native of the Emerald Isle, was born in 1833.  When eleven years old his parents emigrated to America and settled in New York State, where he remained until 1851; he then moved to Illinois and in 1868 came to Taylor county where he has since resided.  At the age of eighteen he learned the blacksmith's trade, and with the exception of one year, has since engaged in that business.  He was married in Illinois in 1856 to Miss Sarah Umbarger, a native of that State.  They are the parents of thirteen children, seven of whom are now living:  Elizabeth J. (wife of Charles Clayton), Mary M, Sarah Annie, Othello, Lucinda and an infant.  Mr. B. owns 255 acres of land well improved which brings him a handsome income each year; besides, being a fine mechanic he realizes a considerable amount from that source, and has now ample means to enjoy the comforts of life.  He is a member of the A. F. & A. M.
CADWALLADER, Dr. J. M., a native of Ohio county, Virginia, was born June 1, 1851.  When but a mere child his parents moved to Clearfield county (page 797), Pennsylvania, and in 1859 became residents of Summit county, Ohio.  There our subject grew to manhood and was educated in the common and high schools of that county.  At the age of sixteen he commenced teaching school and continued in that business about six years.  He then studied medicine and in 1873 commenced the practice of his profession, having attended two terms of lectures.  In 1881 he complete his course, graduating with honors from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, St. Joe, Missouri.  In May, 1881, he had nine cases of small-pox.  The patients all recovered.  He married June 22, 1874, to Miss Mary Pratt, a native of Ohio.  They have two children: Nellie A., aged six; and Coudie, aged six months.  One, Lena Leota, is deceased.  The doctor is now enjoying a large practice and has a pleasant home.
CARSON, THOMAS, farmer and stock-raiser, section five, post-office Siam.  The subject is a native of Jefferson county, Ohio, where he was raised and educated.  When quite young he learned the carpenter trade, which he followed several years, then laid the saw and hammer aside and chose the farm for future operations.  When twenty-one years of age he went to Belmont county, Ohio, and worked in a machine-shop for a half decade, after which he located in Hocking county, same State, and remained until 1867, when he came to Iowa and settled in Union county.  He became a resident of this county in the fall of 1868, and has since engaged in agricultural pursuits.  He was married in Ohio, in 1862, to Miss Elizabeth Crawford, a native of Ohio. This union has brought them three children, two of whom are living:  Margaret and Anna J.  Mattie E. is deceased.
CLAYTON, D. E., farmer, section five, post-office Siam, a native of Washington county, Pennsylvania, was born July 17, 1836.  Was raised on a farm and received a liberal common school education.  In 1858, he emigrated to Tazewell county, Illinois.  Came to Iowa the year following and settled in this county.  In 1862 he answered his country's call, enlisted in company G, Ninety-second Ohio infantry volunteers, and served three years.  Participated in the battles of Fort Donelson, Stone River, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Atlanta, charge at Jonesborough, Fort McAllister, Bentonville, etc.  Was mustered out at Washington City.  He was married in 1866, to Miss Hariettt E. Griffith, a native of Ohio.  This union has brought them four children:  Ora G., Mary H., Alva J. and Eliza E., all living.  Mr. C. is the owner of 280 acres of well improved land; is a splendid farmer and successful stock-raiser.
FINE, PETER, farmer, section nineteen, post-office Hopkins, a native of the Old North State, was born August 13, 1808, and was there reared on a farm.  Moved to Fountain county, Indiana, in 1830, where he remained until 1857, at which date he became a resident of this county, locating where he now lives.  He was at one time the owner of a fine tract of land but gave to each of his children a farm, as they became of age, and reserved 125 acres to provide for his wants during the decay of life.  He has the satisfaction of seeing his children living and prospering in the homes he so freely gave them, and awaits the call of him who has promised a better home when the sands of this life are run.  He was married in 1835, to Miss Eliza A. Hyburger, a native of Tennessee.  They are the parents of eleven children, eight of whom are living:  Amanda C., John M., Aaron C., Martha P., Harriet A., Ephram J., America M. and Stephen A. D.  Samuel A. and two infants are deceased.  Mr. and Mrs. Fine are members of the Methodist Church and are respected by all who have the pleasure of their acquaintance.
FINE, JNO. M., farmer and fruit-grower, section thirty, post-office Siam, is a native of Fountain county, Indiana, born May 13, 1842.  His parents, Peter and Eliza Fine moved t this county in 1857.  Here he grew to manhood, and owing to the scarcity of schools, received but a limited education.  In 1863 he was married to Miss R. Emerick, a native of the Hoosier State.  They are the parents of seven children:  Wm. T. S., Albert A., Maria C., Peter D., Ada A., Rhoda B., and Ira E., all living.  Mr. F. has a beautiful farm of one hundred and twenty-five acres in a high state of cultivation, good buildings, orchard of five hundred and fifty bearing trees, all of his own planting, and is prospering finely.  He has always taken an active part in measures for public improvement and contributes freely to every worthy enterprise.  Mr. and Mrs. Fine are consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
FINE. A. C., farmer, section nineteen, post-office Hopkins, was born in Fountain county, Indiana, March 15, 1845.  At the age of twelve years his parents moved to this county and settled on the section on which he now resides.  Was married August 21, 1864, to Miss Arminda Davison, a native of Missouri.  They are the parents of seven children:  L. E., Laura B., Perry P., Amanda F., Abija B., Dilbert and Cora M.  Mr. F. now has a farm of one hundred and fifty-eight acres, and is one of Taylor county's most successful farmers.  He and his lady are members of the M. E. Church.
JEFFERS, DENNIS, of Dale & Jeffers, dealers in hardware and lumber, also farmer and stock-raiser, Hopkins, Missouri, was born in Preston county, Virginia, February 7, 1821.  Came to Iowa when eighteen years of age and engaged in farming in Lee county.  Moved from there to Muscatine county, remained three years, then visited the gold fields of California. (Page 799) Followed mining for six years, then returned to Muscatine county, this State, and married Miss Catharina Beem, September 25, 1856.  They have a family of four children: William, Nevada, Abraham and Belle.  Lost one at the age of seven.  In 1858 he moved to Nodaway county, Missouri, and in 1870 came to this county, locating on his present farm.  Mr. J. now owns over one thousand acres of fine land, and is extensively engaged in stock raising.  He is a self-educated, self-made man, very intelligent, contributes freely to those in need, to every public enterprise, and is one of Taylor county's best citizens.
LOSSWELL, JESSE, farmer and stock-raiser, section twenty-six, post-office Hopkins, Missouri, was born in Hardin county, Kentucky, January 20, 1824.  Moved with this parents to Perry county, Indiana, when four years old; remained five years, then went to Sullivan county, where he attained to man's estate.  His youth had been spent in the "backwoods" aiding on the farm and attending school in the log house of the pioneer, and now having grown to manhood he resolved to make use of the education which his father had been so careful to give him.  He came to Iowa in 1857 and located where he now resides.  Was married, November 20, 1848, to Miss Sarah Parker, also a native of Kentucky.  She died one month after their marriage, and in September, 1853, he was again united in matrimony, this time to Miss Lee Ann McKee, of Indiana.  They are the parents of five children:  Benjamin and Mary are living; John, Jesse and Hannah are deceased.  Since coming to this county he has held various and important offices, including justice of the peace, county commissioner etc.  He now owns a fine farm of one hundred and sixty acres, and is one of the most successful farmers in Taylor county.  Mr. Losswell is a member of the Christian Church. 
McKEE, MARTIN L., farmer, section fourteen, post-office Hopkins, Missouri, is a native of Wayne county, Indiana, born June 21, 1833.  When six years of age his father died, leaving him in a mother's care.  He was reared on a farm and enjoyed the advantages of attending the public schools.  In 1850 he moved to Parke county; remained six years, then came to Iowa, locating in this county where he now resides.  Was married May 26, 1853, to Miss Martha Logan, of Parke county, Indiana.  Mrs. McKee is a lady of refinement and culture, and is to Mr. M. a faithful and devoted companion.  They have an excellent farm of three hundred and forty acres, with an elegant residence and everything systematically arranged.  In short, a model home.  Mr. McKee is a a man of great executive ability, and is honored and respected by his acquaintances.
REECE, R. M., farmer, section fifteen, post-office Hopkins, Missouri, was born in Tippecanoe county, Indiana, October 1, 1844.  When eight years of age his parents moved to Peoria county, Illinois.  In 1851 he came to Iowa, and located in Louisa county.  At the breaking out of the civil war he enlisted in company C, Eleventh Iowa infantry, and served until the close of the rebellion.  He participated in the battles of Shiloh, Kenesaw Mountain, and others in which his regiment was engaged.  Was honorably discharged after three years and ten months' hard fighting during which he contracted the rheumatism, from which he still suffers.  He was married in 1868 to Miss Margaret A. Swaim, of Park county, Illinois.  They are the parents of seven children:  Albert, George, Alice, Levi and Mary (twins), William and Martin. Mary is deceased.  He is now located on a fine farm of two hundred acres, in a good state of cultivation, and is engaged largely in stock-raising.
This one turned up at the end of Ross Township with a * "Misplaced.  Resides in Polk township".  So, can you insert Russell between Reece and Stickleman in Polk?
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RUSSELL, G. W., dealer in general merchandise, Buchanan, is a native of Holt county, Missouri; born in 1852.  His father, R. H. Russell, is the eldest resident in that county, and has been for years closely identified with its interests.  He was the first sheriff, and is now serving his fourth term as probate judge of that county.  Young Russell spent his early years on a farm, receiving only a common school education.  In 1871 he chose for his companion Miss Emily Reid, also a native of Missouri.  They are the parents of three children: Ollie, Jesse and Maud May, the last being named by the writer.  In 1879 subject succeeded Mr. Dyke in the mercantile business at this place, and has enlarged the stock to meet the demands of increased trade.  Mr. B. possesses extraordinary business qualifications, and commands the esteem of all.

STICKLEMAN, HENRY, farmer, section sixteen, post-office Siam, is a native of Ohio.  Was born June 16, 1844.  He was there reared on a farm and received only a limited education.  He was raised on the site of the battlefield where the gallant St. Clair suffered his terrible defeat.  His father was the first to discover the bones and pit where the unfortunate men were buried.  On November 1, 1864, he enlisted in company K, Fortieth Ohio infantry volunteers, and served three years and one month, participating in some of the hardest fought battles of the war.  Came to this county in 1870, and has since made it his home.  Was married June 10, 1872, to Miss Mary B. Harris, a native of Missouri.  Of their children three are living: Alta M., Esma and Lona.  One, John R., is deceased.  Although a young man, Mr. S. is one of Taylor county's most successful farmers, owns a fine farm of one hundred and one acres of excellent land, well adapted to stock-raising.  He is a good neighbor, kind friend and pleasant companion.
WILDER, ABIJAH, farmer, sec. twenty-nine, post-office Hopkins, Missouri, was born in Kentucky in 1844.  When eight years old his parents, Nelson and Elizabeth Wilder, moved to Page county, Iowa.  Remaining there a short time, they next became residents of this county, and have since made it their home. In 1863 subject enlisted in company C, Eleventh Missouri cavalry, and served about two years.  Was taken prisoner once during the Red River expedition, and confined three days.  Was then paroled, engaged for a time in St. Louis, then rejoined the army and served until the close of the war.  He was married in this county in 1867, to Miss Martha Fine, a native of Indiana.  They have three children: Eliza E., Alta and John.  Three died during infancy.  Mr. W. has eighty-five acres of land, in good cultivation, and is doing well.  He is a faithful member of the M. E. Church.