Fremont Township

John C. Fremont was a presidential candidate in 1856 when a petition was presented requesting establishment of an electoral township in extreme northwest Winneshiek County. It is said that Elijah Middlebrool requested that the new township be called Fremont in honor of the then Presidential candidate. The election was held in August of 1856, with 49 voters casting their ballots in a log cabin, then the home of Mr. and Mrs. E. M. Barnes and their 3-month-old baby.

Historical writers say that the siding for the well-known old Winneshiek House in Decorah came from pine trees which grew along the Upper Iowa River in Fremont Township, with the logs being sawed at the Carter sawmill at Plymouth Rock during the winter of 1853-54.

Those who wrote the early history of Fremont Township say that the first permanent white settler was Wm. Fifield and wife who settled in section 23 in 1854.

Records show that the first post office in the township was at the house of a pioneer by the name of Billings in the NE quarter of section 23 and was called Willamantic. After about a year, this post office was discontinued and transferred to Twin Springs, the site of the present village of Kendallville. The stage line, running from Decorah to Austin, Minnesota, supplied the Twin Springs post office. It made the round trip once a week.

The village of Plymouth Rock in the southeast corner of Fremont Township probably began in 1852 when a dam was built across the Upper Iowa River and the next year Selden Carter built a sawmill. Later Mattock and Kelly built and ran a flourmill, selling it afterward to the Bean Brothers who prospered for a time but when wheat crops began to fail, the milling business ceased to exist.

In 1902 floods damaged the dam so much that it was not worth repairing, and a Mr. Sears, owner of the mill at that time, moved the equipment and lumber to Ridgeway.

In 1860, from the state of Mississippi, came S. G. Kendall, who had capital invested with the Bean Brothers in the Plymouth Rock mill, but afterward built a sawmill at Twin Springs in 1862. As soon as the Kendall sawmill came into operation, the name of the post office was changed from Twin Springs to Kendallville. In 1913, Kendallville had two stores, one run by Betsy Peterson and the other by J. C. Young; a blacksmith shop operated by Peter Ellingson, and a creamery run by A. J. Hoiness.

Church and other records show five cemeteries or burial places in Fremont Township. Least known of the burial places is probably that on the farm now owned by Wm. Gaul in section 35 just west of Plymouth Rock. St. Kiernan's, a Catholic Cemetery is located in the extreme northwest part of the township in section 7. An almost now abandoned cemetery located in section 27, along highway 139, is known as the Barnes Cemetery. There are two cemeteries, well-platted, cared for and still in general use; the one in the southwest corner of section 16 is along side the Fremont Lutheran Church, and other is the Eddy Cemetery in section 32 just west of Kendallville.

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

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