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History of Adair
County, Iowa,
and its People.  1915.

Volume 1.


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Jefferson Township comprises all of congressional township 77 north, range 31 west.  The surface of the township is of rolling character and the soil is rich and loamy.  It is mostly prairie, with a little timber located along the stream channels.  At one time excellent timber lined the banks of Turkey Creek.  The township is watered by Middle River, Turkey and many other creeks and their tributaries.  Middle River enters from the west, on section 7, and flowing in a generally southeasterly course, intersects sections 7, 8 17, 20, 21, 22, 27. and 35.  In the northwest part of the latter it makes a confluence with Turkey Creek.  This latter stream, rising in Walnut Township, flows into Jefferson on the west line of section 30, and in an easterly course crosses sections 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, and in 35 enters the main stream as above mentioned.


The first man to make a settlement within Jefferson Township was William Alcorn, who came in the spring of 1850 and took up a claim on section 27, near the upper crossing of the Middle River.  It was not possible for him to enter land at that time, so he built a cabin and became what is known as a squatter.  Here he lived until he sold out his holdings to John Febus, when he took up another claim on section 33.  In the fall of 1854, growing dissatisfied with his surroundings, he removed to Winterset, Madison County.  He was a native of Illinois, but came here from Dubuque, Iowa.

With Alcorn came John Gilson, who made a settlement in 1850, but afterwards moved to Harrison Township and then left the county.

Daniel Vancil came from Illinois in the spring of 1850 and settled on section 35.  He constructed a small log cabin on his land.  He did not enter any land in this locality, but made himself an unsavory reputation as a claim jumper.  In the fall of 1852 he returned to Illinois and, about a year afterward, was hung by a mob of citizens for a series of crimes.

George M. Holaday came to the township in the spring of 1853 and settled on section 26.  Here he built a double log cabin, which was said to have been the best house in the county at the time.

John Febus came to the township from Indiana in the spring of 1853 and bought the land of William Alcorn on section 27 for $300.  He remained here until the fall of 1855 and then moved to Winterset and later to Nebraska, where he died.

Jacob Bruce came to the township in the fall of 1853 and settled upon section 33 in the following spring.  In the late '60s Jacob Bruce had one of the largest and best orchards in Adair County; in fact, it was almost the only producing orchard in the county, except one belonging to L. C. Elliot in Harrison Township and one belonging to David Coffin in Washington Township, both much smaller than Bruce's.

Mahundry Hollingsworth came to this vicinity in 1854 and settled upon section 27, where he built a cabin home.  In 1856 he moved to Winterset.  He was a native of Indiana.

In 1854 Samuel Minert came to section 27.  He was a native of Indiana and became a tenant on the farm of M. Hollingsworth.  He remained here about a year and then moved to Harrison Township, some time afterwards leaving the county.

Among the arrivals of 1854 was David H. Shields, a native of Georgia.  He came here in the spring of the year and in the fall purchased 240 acres of land on sections 27 and 34 from John Febus.  In April, 1855, he sold this land to George B. Wilson and then moved to Harrison Township and bought the claim of John Gilson.  Shortly, however, he left the county.

George B. Wilson, a native of Ohio, moved to Adair county on June 16, 1855, having previously bought 240 acres of land from David Shields.  He filled the position of postmaster at Holaday's for over twenty years.  He became well known as a stock raiser.

Dr. William Tingle came from Indiana in the spring of 1855 and entered land in section 36, on which he built a cabin.  He afterward sold out to Shreeves & Hollingsworth and moved to Winterset, where he kept a hotel.  He afterwards went to Audubon County, Ia.

Patrick Hugh (Hall), a native of Ireland, came here in the spring of 1856 from Keokuk, Ia. He rented a farm, where he stayed until he had raised a crop, and then removed to Walnut Township, and later from the county.

A man commonly known as "Old Glunt" came from Indiana in 1856, rented the Holaday farm, and put in a crop.  However, before harvest time had come, he sold the crop to John Easton and returned to the Hoosier State.

Stover Rinard made his appearance in this township in April, 1856, and located upon section 8.  He was a native of Randolph county, Ind.

In the summer of 1856 Jeremiah Rinard settled on section 5 with his family.  He built a cabin on the south half of the northeast quarter of the section, where he lived for many years.  He was a native of Indiana.

George Welker came to Jefferson Township from Indiana in the summer of 1856 and settled upon section 36 and put up a log cabin.  He lived here but a short time, when he moved to Madison County, and then back to Harrison Township, Adair County.   Before leaving he sold his claim to John R. Short, who had just come to this place from Indiana, of which state he was a native.  Short settled down upon the farm, but after the Civil war he sold out to Barnet Isley and went to Dallas County.  He was not liked here for many reasons.

Stroud A. Petts made a settlement on section 3 in the summer of 1856.  He came from Lee County, Ia., and building a cabin here, stayed until the summer of 1859, when he died at Greenbush, Warren County, where he had gone for medical treatment.  His widow afterward married a Mr. Rich, who was killed two years later by the caving in of a well.

Sino Sherer came here in the summer of 1856 from Lee County.  He was a brother-in-law of Stroud A. Petts.  He settled on section 7 and built a cabin.  In 1865 he sold out to B. F. McMullen and moved to Andrews County, Mo.  He was at one time road supervisor in Adair County.

Simon Barrows, a single man, came here in the fall of 1856 from Davenport, Ia.  He was a native of Massachusetts and came to superintend a large tract of land.  He took possession of a cabin which had been built on section 33.  He taught the first school in this township in the winter of 1856-7 and was elected to the office of county superintendent of schools in 1861, but resigned before the expiration of his term of office.  He then removed to Des Moines and shortly afterward was elected superintendent of common schools of Polk County.  Later he moved to Adams County and became a preacher.

John Loucks settled upon section 27 during the month of December, 1856.  He was a native of Indianapolis, Ind.

John Shreeves came from Winterset in 1857.  He later engaged in the lumber business at Greenfield.

John Easton located on section 22 and there farmed and raised stock with success; his first location, however, had been on section 26 in 1857.  In the spring of 1838 he built a small log cabin on section 22, in which he lived until 1864, when he constructed a larger and better residence.

William H. Easton, son of the above, entered 440 acres of land in Jefferson Township in May, 1855.  He also bought seventy acres of timber land from G. M. Holaday on section 4, Grove Township.  In October he moved his family to his land and spent the winter in a log cabin.  He later built another log cabin and there lived until 1882, when he erected a better dwelling.  During his life here he held every township office and helped to make the first assessment while in the assessor's office.  He was the second representative from Adair County, being elected in the fall of 1873.

Dillon Hunt, a native of Indiana, made a settlement in 1858 on section 7, buying a farm of Stover Rinard.  He shortly afterward sold the farm to Mr. Still and returned to his native state.  Still resold the place to the first owner, Rinard.

Samuel S. Beale, supposed to have been a native of Indiana, came to the township in 1858 and rented a farm owned by William Holingsworth on section 35, where he resided for a year and a half, when he moved to Andrews County, Mo.

James Hornback came from Winterset in the spring of 1859 and rented the Hollingsworth and Holaday farms, where he remained about a year, when he returned to Madison County.  He was an Indiana man.

Jonathan Shreves, a native of Clay County, Illinois, came to Adair County in 1860 and settled in Jefferson Township.

Benjamin F. McMullen came to section 7 in 1864.  William F. Edgerly came in 1875;  William A. Perkins in 1877;  William Wilson in 1880;  Leander Jones in 1878;  Charles R. Crabb in 1870;  Alonzo H. Rinard in 1875.


The first ground broken in the township was on the farm of William Alcorn by Thomas Wilkinson in the fall of 1852.  William Alcorn planted the first corn in the spring of 1852, which was planted in the sod.  Jacob Bruce started the first orchard with 200 apple trees.  G. M. Holaday and John Febus in the spring of 1854, the former on section 35 and the latter on section 27.  Jacob cradled the first oats raised in the township in the summer of 1854 for Holaday and Febus.

The first birth in Jefferson Township was that of Jefferson Holaday, the son of George M. and Lydia Holaday, in the fall of 1854.  The child died in the autumn of 1855 and was buried in a pasture field.

The first death in the township was that of the seven or eight-year-old son of William Alcorn.  He was bitten by a rattlesnake in the summer of 1853 and died a few hours afterwards.  He was buried in the same pasture which later held Jefferson Holaday.

The first marriage was that of William Stinson and Elizabeth F. Crow.  The ceremony took place upon May 7, 1854, and was performed by the county judge, G. M. Holaday, at the residence of William Alcorn.  This was also the first marriage in the county, as shown by the official records.

The first religious services held in the township were held in June, 1854, at the log cabin of John Febus on section 27.  These were held by John Creager and Samuel Johnson, residents of Madison County.  They were of the denomination then known as the New Light Christians.

The first election was held at the house of B. M. Holaday on section 35 in 1855.

The first log house was built in the spring of 1852 by Daniel Vancil on section 35.  The second, finished about the same time, was put up by William Alcorn on section 27.  The first frame house in the township was erected by George B. Wilson in 1857 on section 27.  

In 1865 J. B. McGinnis donated two acres of land on his farm in section 34 for the purpose of a cemetery and the same was surveyed by George B. Wilson.  Wesley Taylor, who was at that time recorder, entered the plat upon the county records.  The first burial within this beautiful city of the dead was Eli Bruce, a son of Jacob Bruce, who died about the time of the laying out of the grounds.


In 1858 John Easton purchased the machinery for a sawmill in Winterset and set it up on the farm of his son, William H., on section 23.  This was the first in the township.  He operated the mill until the breaking out of the Civil war and then sold to Jerry Barker and William McCollom.  This mill was run by steam power and did custom work.

In the spring of 1866 Marshall McCollom started a steam sawmill near J. B. Bruce's place on section 24, which ran about one season, when it was moved away.  Some person drove a spike into a log and when it was driven toward the saw the latter was completely ruined.

The Middle River grist mill, located on section 7, was built in the winter of 1874 by Isaiah Hollingsworth, costing over four thousand dollars.  In September, 1876, Andrew J. Thompson bought out Mr. Hollingsworth.

A mill known as the Chamberlain Mill was completed in January, 1879, and was what was then known as the "new process mill."  The dam was constructed during the years 1876 and 1877.


The postoffice known as Holaday's was established in 1853 as Wahtawa and William Alcorn was commissioned the first postmaster.  This was originated during the great overland travel to California and was established mainly for the accommodation of the emigrants to the Pacific.  It was located at the house of the postmaster on section 27 and was named after a local Indian chief.  G. M. Holaday was the postmaster during the years 1855 and 1856 and was succeeded in 1857 by William H. Easton, who in turn gave way to John A. Easton.  In the spring of 1864 George B. Wilson took charge of the office.  The name of the office was changed on the accession to office of G. M. Holaday.  During a short time the office was kept at the house of Thomas Breen and Mary A. Breen acted as deputy postmaster.


Jefferson Township was organized in 1855 and the first election held at the house of G. M. Holaday on section 35.  The first officers chosen were as follows: Jacob Bruce,  William McDonald and Robert Wilson, trustees;  William Hollingsworth, clerk; and Jacob Bruce, road supervisor.


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