Historical sketch of Troy Township, Wright County, Iowa

By Elmore Middleton

May 17, 1836 -- September 12, 1912



Before the year 1854, the only white man who ever had been in the territory now known as Troy Township, were the surveying parties sent out by the government, and perhaps a few hunters and trappers who chanced to pass through, seeking pleasure or profit in the capture of the wild game that inhabited these prairies and groves. On the 5th day of July, 1854, Wm. Stryker drove his team into the township and settled on the Northwest quarter of Section 35-90-26, thus becoming the first settler in Troy Township and the first in Wright County. In the evening of the same day, Stephen Wilcox, Spencer Stryker, and Thomas Stryker with their families came into the township and settled near Mr. Stryker. Later, in the same year their numbers were increased by the arrival of Jose Middleton, David Corset, and Hardy Williams. The settlers could do little more than erect their cabins and sheds before winter settled in. Stephen Wilcox did some breaking during the season, being the first breaking done in the township. Fortunately, for the settlers, the winter was unusually mild. During the fall of the year the Rev. Mr. Clegg of the M. E. Church came and preached the first sermon in an old log cabin on SEC. 35 belonging to Wm. Stryker. During the summer of 1855 six additional families came into the township, O.C. Allen settled on Sec. 36, John Adams on Sec. 32, Wm. Dewell on Sec. 31, N. A Bixbed on 14, Frederick Odenheimer on 16, and J. L. Middleton on Sec. 21. During this summer as much breaking was done as the limited means of the settlers would permit, and sod corn was planted by a majority of the settlers. Stephen Wilcox raised the first corn this year on old or cultivated ground. Their numbers now being sufficient to meet the requirements of law, the settlers proceeded to organize a township for political purposes. Their first effort was a failure owing to some defect in the papers issued by a “Frontier Judge,” and the organization of the township was not effected until March of 1856. The name “Troy” was derived from the name of a town plat bearing that name was laid out in an early day, by O. W. McIntosh and others on the west side of the Boone River about one half mile northwest of the center of the township. The first election was held in a log cabin that stood near where Mr. Emerick’s house now stands on Sec. 21. The first officers elected were J. L. Middleton, Clerk, Alfred Gamesk, Justice of the Peace, Samuel Poor, Constable, Wm. Stryker, Jose R. Middleton and Stephen Wilcox, Trustees, Jose Middleton, Assessor, Wm. Stryker, Road Supervisor. On the 11th day of May this year, 1855, Charlotte Stryker was born, being the first child born in the township. During this year J. L. Middleton erected the first blacksmith shop which proved a great convenience to the settlers. The winter of 1855-6 was very severe. Snow fell to the depth of eighteen inches and was carried by the winds into drifts of immense size. Stables and sheds were rudely constructed and would not properly protect stock. Cattle and hogs were frozen to death and some of the settlers lost all of their poultry. Reports were frequently brought to the settlement of persons having been frozen to death on the prairies in other localities nearby. The winter was so severe that the elk and deer were either frozen to death or driven out of the country, this depriving the settlers of their usual supply of meat. The spring opened about the middle of April, being cold and wet. A circumstance occurred this spring which caused much suffering and grief to the settlement. The seed corn that was planted proved to be worthless. Not a grain in fifty germinated. This corn was brought from one of the southern counties and sold for $2.50 per bushel. The season was late for replanting and frost the 18th of September cut off all that had grown. Corn being the principal grain crop at this time, the destitution consequent to this loss was very great. Wm. Stryker raised the first wheat this year that was produced in  the township; and Stephen Wilcox raised the first oats. To meet the demands of the settlement, J. L. Middleton erected a shingle machine that for awhile supplied the settlement with settlement with shingles.



During the winter of 1856-7 the snow fell to a depth of two feet, and was badly drifted. The settlers were compelled to haul provisions and feed a distance of 100 miles. Supplies were largely procured at Iowa City, 180 miles distant, and some went as far as Muscatine for supplies,  a distance of 200 miles. In April of this year the settlement was thrown into a great state of excitement by the arrival of a panic stricken company of about 150 settlers from the East Des Moines and upper Boone River Settlements, fleeing as they supposed from a tribe of hostile Indians. All but two or three families of the settlement joined them and fled to Webster City. On Feb. 14th 1857, a death for the first time entered the settlement, Abishia Middleton, son of Hutchinson and Achsah Middleton died at the age of 19 of consumption. On the 15th day of Oct. 1857, a church composed of eleven members was organized by David May, an M.E. Minister, with J. R. Middleton as leader. It was organized in a cabin on Sec. 21, belonging to Jose Middleton. During the season of this year J. Middleton sowed the first timothy and clover seed. The crops this season, though not sufficient for the demands of home consumption, were the best raised by settlers up to this time. But they were not permitted to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The fall and winter proved to be wet, the corn rotted in the cribs. Much of the wheat being kept in pens and boxes and covered with straw or hay spoiled. The first threshing machine and hand rake reaping machine was used in the settlement this year. The season of 1858 is known by all the old settlers as the “wet season.” The streams were full to overflowing the greater part of the year. There being no bridges at that time, communications were cut off between the settlements. The nearest mill was about twenty one miles distant, south of Webster City. Many of the settlers were compelled to subsist on hominy and corn meal ground in coffee mills, which went on for weeks at a time. During this season the first sorghum was raised by James Barton. In this year the first Sunday School was organized with Wm. Middleton as Superintendent. The crops bid fair during the season of 1859, until the first day of August, when a hail storm passed over the central part of the township, utterly destroying the crops on some farms, and injuring a greater or lesser degree, all in the township. O. C. Allen sheared the first wool this year. In the year 1860 the first schoolhouse was built, on Sec. 33. Up to this time the settlers had seen little but adversity. The soil was different from that which they were used to in the East, requiring different culture in some respects. Their plows were inferior in quality, and as a consequence crops were not successfully raised. The people were poor and disheartened. During this year 1861 nine families left the township to seek the older districts in the country. Some of them had sold their all, and had to be assisted in moving by their more fortunate neighbors who had teams.


Troy Township furnished her quota of soldiers during the war of the rebellion. We deem it a just tribute to their memory to record the names of those who, in the time of their country’s need, promptly responded to her call and went down, a part of them, never to return. Those who returned were John Stryker, R. Brewer and Hudson Barton; but George Merrill and Solomon Croutt laid their lives on the altar of their country. Both were far from their native places, away from all those they loved, alone in a Southern hospital they died. Let their names never be forgotten. About this time the settlement began to enjoy more prosperous times. 1861-2 were fruitful seasons. Prices of farm produce increased and improvements went steadily on. In the year 1862 the first marriage was solemnized by Wm. Stryker, Esq. The parties were John Dowing and Martha J. Boring. From 1863 to 1866, the settlement of the township was gradual, though not rapid. Improvements of all kinds were made as fast as the resources would permit. In the year 1866 J. H. Middleton burned his first brick kiln, which met a very urgent need for building materials. In October of 1867, the country was visited by grasshoppers the first since the settlement of it. They partially destroyed the oat crop as far East as Eagle Creek, and the wheat was also injured and the gardens pretty generally eaten up. They disappeared in July of 1868. The country was again visited by grasshoppers 1873, but their numbers were not great so little damage was done. The first apples were raised by O. C. Allen and J. R. Middleton in the year 1865. The township was divided in 1868, town 90, north range 25 becoming an independent township bearing the name of “Woolstock.” The experiment of sheep raising was made by the citizens of the township between the years of 1864-1868. The experiment was a failure however. Large numbers of sheep died or were destroyed by the wolves and the few remaining were disposed of at reduced prices. About the year 1870, a railroad was projected to pass through the township. The citizens were urged to vote a tax of 5 percent, upon all tangible property, to aid in the building of the road. A majority of the voters were opposed to granting such aid. The road was graded and bridges were built during the year 1872, but owing to the failure of the company to produce the necessary means to finish the road, it was rapidly washing down and becoming useless. The more recent history of the township has been a scene of continued prosperity and development. The cabins and shanties of the early days are passing away and are being supplanted with comfortable homes, brick and frame. School houses have been erected, there are now five in the township. And as we look out over these prairies where but a few years ago could be seen nothing but prairie grass, or where the winds carried the snow furiously by unhindered, and see the farmhouses nestling amid groves that furnish ample protection for man and beast and when we behold our fields yielding abundant harvest, the results of better knowledge of the needs of the soil and better implements with which to cultivate it, and as our number increased, thus affording better social privileges, brethren, we are glad to say that we believe the hard times of Troy township are over. Taking a backward glance over the history of the township, we make a record of general good health of the citizens from the first settlement to the present time. During the early days when great privations were of necessity to be borne, good health enabled the settlers to bear up under these difficulties. Peace and goodwill have been the ruling temper of the people. There have been but three at the most four criminal prosecutions during the twenty three years of the township’s history. The people have been remarkable far from those vexations, of neighborhood difficulties that so paralyze all concerts of action and hinder public enterprise intended for public good. The greatest quantity of grain raised by one person during one year was raised by J. D. Sells, a settler of 1856. O. C. Allen, a settler of 1865 raised 36 bushels of wheat to the acre. H. Middleton raised 90 bushels of corn per acre. B. S. Haviland raised 90 bushels of oats per acre.