Burr Oak Township


County historians say that Samuel Belding and his half-brother Wheeler built the first log hotel in 1851, where the present village of Burr Oak stands. This was soon sold to John Wagoner, and Belding then opened a blacksmith shop and became Burr Oak's first blacksmith.

Early names in Burr Oak from 1851 to 1856 were: E. Blackmarr, H.O. Benedict, Benjamin Ward, Warner Matteson, Hiram Manning St., Hiram Willsie, John Bigelow, Mr. Tinkham, William Willsie, John Stead, George Walker, William Crissie, Clark Wicks, Robert Thompson, Charles Barker, James Fosberg, James Sharp and others.

Records show that the first post office in Burr Oak began operation in September 6, 1853, with Marshal B. Sherwin as postmaster, and Cal. Ferguson the first mail carrier.

On October 25, 1853, a site had to be selected for a village community cemetery because of the death of Mr. Warren Hardin. A site for the cemetery was on land furnished by Wm. H. Willsie. A few days later, Suzana Jane, daughter of John and Mary Stead was also laid to rest in the newly established burial grounds.

In 1853, the state line between Iowa and Minnesota was surveyed. A Mr. Puntney constructing a saw mill in the southeast corner of section 31 in 1854 by damming Cold Water Creek, now known as one of northeast Iowa's finest trout streams.

Records show that the first school house in the west part of the township was built in 1856 on the site of what was well-known for many years as the Cold Water School. The first settler in the northwestern area of the township was Joseph Metcalf who settled there in the spring of 1854. Well known by early pioneers in the Burr Oak area was the American Hotel, which was built during the summer of 1856. Also well known is the old stone schoolhouse in the Burr Oak grove, which is in the north part of the village known as the Rellihan Grove and for it, the village was named.

During the summer of 1856, William Beard and Lewis Ferguson ran a steam saw mill near the creek where a man by the name of Hanson Bridge later manufactured brick.

In the early years of the 20th century, Burr Oak was considered a prosperous village and was one of the smallest towns in Iowa to have a bank. Einar Kippe was the bank cashier. The village had two general stores; one the Burr Oak Mercantile Company, the other operated by Thompson and Kippe.'s. E.M. Reed sold farm implements; C. A. Reed operated a general repair shop and Dr. W.H. Emmons sold drugs in connection with his medical practice. John Bergsrud ran a butcher shop and feed mill; Ward and Son owned a novelty store; Herbert Ward was the village barber and postmaster; Fred Koenig and Fred Pahl were blacksmiths and the Madding's Hotel cared for travelers who stopped over in the area. The Silver Creek Creamery was also in operation and Johnson's pool hall provided an amusement parlor.

There are two cemeteries located within the borders of Burr Oak Township, both well plotted and with good records. First established being the Burr Oak community cemetery in section 25. Land was set aside in 1853 and donated by Wm. H. Willsie. The second cemetery is located in section 30 along side the St. Agnes Catholic Church, about 4 miles west of the village of Burr Oak.

Please, contact the county coordinator to submit additions or corrections.

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