DONIPHAN COUNTY 1882 PLAT BOOK, PART 6
The townsite of Troy and seat of justice of Doniphan County was located October 12, 1855, by A. Payne and Thomas J. B. Cramer, commissioners appointed by the Territorial Legislature, under act of Congress, approved May 20, A. D. 1854, granting to counties and parishes of each State and Territory of the United States, in which the public lands are situated, the right of pre-emption to a quarter section of land, the proceeds of sale of which shall be applied to the erection of public buildings in said county.
They reported that they did locate said seat of justice on the southwest quarter of Section 17, Township 3, Range 21, and caused a stake to be driven on said quarter section, on one side of which was inscribed, "The County Seat of Doniphan County on this quarter Section." On the other side they inscribed the date -- October 12, 1855 -- and signed their names. This stake is supposed to have been driven near where the court house now stands.
At a meeting, October 16, 1855, the County Commissioners ordered James F. Forman to lay off eighty acres of said quarter section into town lots, and make a draft there of said town. Also to have a public block 300 feet square, which shall be located near where the Commissioners erected a stake.
The first sale of lots was ordered to take place on January 1, 1856; terms, one-half cash, balance in two equal payments, in six and twelve months.
On account of bad weather, the survey of the town site was delayed until the spring of 1856. The money received from sale of public lots was ordered to be used only in payment of expenses in erecting county buildings unfurnished.
The town site of Troy is located two miles east of the geographical center of the county, and is about equal distance from the towns of Iowa Point, Highland, Doniphan, Wathena, Geary City, Palermo, Columbus and Bellemont, and fifteen miles (air line) from White Cloud, thirteen miles from Elwood, and fourteen miles from St. Joseph.
The first building on the town site was a frame, erected in 1855, now occupied by Dr. Myers. During the same year, a Mr. Rogers built a blacksmith shop, and operated it as such until the next year, when James E. Marcan bought him out, and has continued the business in the same building up to the present time.
In 1856, a building was erected on the site of the present Higby House, and used as a court house.
Messrs. Head & Earls built and operated the first store in 1856. The building is still standing, and is occupied by Mrs. Toner.
D. S. Sergeant located in Troy in July, 1857, and opened a large stock of goods in a building now occupied by Henry Moore.
A Mr. Brady started the next store soon after, and was followed by H. Boder, who erected a frame building on the site of the present bank. Brady moved his store from Charleston and erected a building where Townsend & Richardson's store is now located.
F. Kotch established the first shoe shop in March, 1859. No regular harness shop was established until after the war, when J. Johnson represented that trade in Troy, in 1866. Mr. Kotch first established a small grocery and shoe-shop in 1857, on his farm, on the "Pottawatomie Trail."
Capt. A. Head announced himself ready to take charge of all cases, early as 1856, thus establishing, among other things, his identity as a lawyer.
Among the first carpenters were Messrs. Siminson, Calbert and Field.
The first brick burnt in the place was by John Ogan, in 1859. During the same year, he erected the first brick building. The building was located on the site of Dr. John Wade's store, but was afterward destroyed by fire, with the exception of about twenty feet of its west wall. This was ultimately used in the construction of the present brick block.
The post office was first established in 1856, with A. Head as Postmaster.
Among the seeming necessary business enterprises that were established at an early date, was a saloon, operated by Connor & Howell. Their building stood where A. Perry's law office is now located.
A Sabbath school was organized as early as 1859, James B. Maynard acting as the first Superintendent.
Probably the first physician who located in the town was a Dr. Payne, who came in 1859.
Until the year 1862, Troy progressed rapidly, but during the war it came to a stand-still. After the war, it received a new impetus in the St. Joe & Denver City Railroad, which commenced running trains, and soon made the place a good shipping point.
Maynard (Troy Junction) was laid off and received its name from Judge J. B. Maynard, in March, 1871. It is the junction of the Atchison & Nebraska and the St. Joe & Western Railroads.
Since the establishment of the seat of justice at Troy (1856), all county business has been transacted here, and all meetings of a public character, where the public welfare was interested, have been held at this place.
In the winter of 1859-60, during the session of the Territorial Legislature, an application was made to have the town incorporated, which application was granted. Since the incorporation, the city has maintained her organization.
Below will be found a list of the business enterprises, professions, trades and societies at the present time
General stores, five; restaurants, three; hotels, two; banks, one; livery stable, one; Jewelry stores, two; furniture stores, one; hardware stores, one; drug stores, two; millinery shops, two; boot and shoe shops, two; harness shops, one; barber shops, one; billiard halls, two; blacksmith and wagon shops, five; carriage factory, one; steam grist-mills, one; elevators, one; lumber yards, one; packing houses, one; cooper shops, one; carpenter shops, one; printing offices, one; meat markets, one; physicians, six; lawyers, six; insurance agents, one; sewing machine agents, one; painters, two; carpenters, eight; tinners, two; draymen, one; teamsters, four; ice dealers, one; secret societies, three; church organizations, four; library (ladies), one.
The first building used in Doniphan County for a court house, after Troy was made the county seat, is a part of what is now called the Higby House. It was built in the summer of 1856, and was used for that purpose until the fall of 1859, when a new brick court house was built on the north side of the public square, nearly opposite the Higby House. Previous to the erection of this court house, there was no county jail, and prisoners were taken to Atchison, for safe-keeping. After the new court house was completed, they were confined in the lower story of the building. In the spring of 1867, this building was destroyed by fire. Insurance to the amount of $3,200 was recovered. Bonds were issued, and the contract for the present building was let to James E. Dryden, who completed it in the fall of 1868, at a cost of $6,000. From time to time, improvements have been made that have increased the total cost to about $10,000. In the summer of 1880, an addition was made to the building on the west side. The new jail was erected in the spring of 1870, at a cost of $8,000, and is a credit to the county.
This township received its name from the fact of there being a tribe of Indians bearing that name living in the township at the time of its first organization. It is one of the original five townships into which the county was divided at the first sitting of the County Board, September 1, 1855.
The boundaries of Iowa Township were fixed at that date as follows: "Commencing at the northwest corner of the county, thence southeast along the Missouri River to the second range line, between twenty and twenty-one, through Doniphan on the south by the 'Kickapoo Line,' and on the west by the county line."
Mr. Jesse Lewis was the first Justice of the Peace appointed, and James Poteel the first Constable for this township.
The first election in the township was held on the first Monday in October, 1855, at the house of William Beeler, at Iowa Point. On the 16th day of September, 1856, the County Board caused one and one-half (1 1/2) miles to be taken from Iowa Township and attached to Washington Township.
On the 20th day of October, 1856, the eastern boundary of Iowa Township was changed and moved one-half mile farther west.
On the 21st of June, 1859, a change was made, and the present boundary was fixed as follows: "Commencing at the northwest corner of the county; thence down the Missouri River to Section 10, including Section 10; thence south to the southeast corner of Section 34, Town 2, Range 20; thence west to the county line, thence north to place of beginning."
The surface of this township is composed of a large degree of bluff land, especially. that portion bounded by the Missouri River. In the southwestern portion of the township may be found some of the best land in the county, and is well watered by the following streams Wolf River, the largest stream in the county, enters this township in the southwestern part, flowing north, empties in the Missouri River about six miles below Iowa Point. Cedar Creek, the next stream in size, rises from numerous springs in the western part of the township, flows north and east, and empties in the. Missouri River near Iowa Point. This stream drains about fifty square miles of territory in the western part of the township. There are several other streams of minor importance, which serve to supply the township with good stock water the greater portion of the year.
The first settler who located, not only in the township, but the first in the eastern part of the State, was the Rev. S. M. Irvin, who came as a missionary to the Iowa Indians sometime in May, 1837. He located two miles east of what is now known as Highland, at a point afterward known as the "Old Mission."
The country then, to use a phrase of a certain orator, was a "howling wilderness," but now, how different! This portion of the State, County and township owes much of its present prosperity to Mr. Irvin.
Among those who followed after the country was opened for Settlement in 1855 were Gen. W. Bayless and family, J. A. Kennedy, A. J. Minier, the Martin brothers, James and Thomas, R. H. Davis, Charles Blakely, H. H. Sharp, W. H. Forbes, L. Prichard, the Forman brothers, John Pemberton, W. Bealer, Pryor Plank and many others, whose names, for want of space, have been omitted.
The town of Iowa Point was located about this time, 1855. White Cloud and Highland during the two following years.
Mail facilities in 1837-38 were everything else but facilities. At that time, Mr. S. M. Irvin obtained his mail at Liberty, Clay County, Mo., 100 miles distant, it taking about a week to make the trip. In 1840, a post office was established at St. Joseph, Mo., where the settlers obtained their mail until a post office was established at Iowa Point in 1855. In 1858, a post office was established at Highland, E. M. Hubbard being appointed Postmaster. This office was made a "distributing point" for all mail that passed into Nebraska south of the Platte River, including Fort Kearney, Plattsmouth, Pawnee City and intermediate points. This was at a time when the old-fashioned four or six horse stages were in vogue.
The first religious services in the county were held in this township, at the Old Mission, in 1837, Rev. S. M. Irvin officiating. From then up to the present time, the light on the altar thus erected has never been extinguished. For nearly half a century, and during those dark and dreary days when this State was known throughout the land as "Bleeding Kansas," and through "sunshine and shadow," these services have been held without a single case on record of a cessation.
The first school taught was one started at the Mission, soon after the arrival of Rev. Irvin and others. Messrs. Irvin and Hamilton, Miss Walton and Mrs. Fullerton were among the teachers. A school meeting was held July 23, 1858, in the Martin neighborhood, and a school board elected. They called their district "No. 1." Since then the district has been reorganized, the present number being fifty-six. At the first meeting, the following officers were elected: S. Prichard, Director; M. M. Sharp, Secretary, and G. L. Martin, Treasurer. John F. Sparks taught the first term of the school. A log building was erected on Section 12, Town 2, Range 19, and used for school purposes. This stood on the site of the present school house, in district No. 56.
Probably the first marriage in this township was that of J. Potetts to Nancy Bancroft, by the Rev. Irvin -- the ceremony taking place at a point on the Wolf River, near the Mission.
The first birth in this township was probably that of Daniel Vanderslice, a son of D. Vanderslice, who was born two miles east of what is now known as Highland, in 1854. He died in the "flower of his youth," being but nineteen years of age.
Probably the first death in the township was that of Mrs. Comstock, the wife of an emigrant, en route for California. Her death occurred at a point near the Old Mission, in 1852 or 1853. About the second was that of a young man, name unknown, who died and was buried at Iowa Point in 1855.
Iowa township is the largest in area, and the most densely populated in the county. It contains in the neighborhood of 52,480 acres, or eighty-two square miles.
Products arc principally corn and wheat; a great deal of fruit is also raised. Some of the richest farmers in the county reside in this township.
Iowa Township possesses the only mineral spring in the county, or this part of the State. This spring bears evidences of having been discovered at a very early date -- the bank in close proximity to the springs containing broken pieces of pottery, arrow-heads, and other relics, doubtless formerly used by the Indians.
Within twenty yards of the spring a mound has been found, supposed to have been built by the "Mound Builders."
The mineral qualities of the spring were first discovered in 1857, by William Plank, who entered a claim, that embraced the spring, on the north half of the northeast quarter of Section 16, Township 2, Range 20. They were not utilized until lately -- summer of 1881.
In 1856, Messrs. Utt & Spaulding laid out a portion of what is now known as White Cloud, at a point on the west bank of the Missouri River, about two miles south of the State line. In 1857, a stock company of thirty members was organized, their capital stock being $45,000. Officers: James Foster, President; W. J. Gatling. Secretary, and Dr. W. H. Peter, Treasurer.
Owing to not having a perfect title to the town site, the town did not make much of a start until after the "Land Sales" of 1857, when the title was perfected by the company purchasing the land. A public sale was held on July 4, 1857, at which there was an attendance of 2,000 people, and $23,794 was the result of the sale. Four steamers were there, one from St. Louis, also a band from St. Joseph. A grand barbecue was served, and prominent orators eulogized our great country, and White Cloud in particular. We venture the assertion that July 4, 1857, is still remembered by the old settlers who participated, as the gala day of that time.
The town was named after Ma-hush-kak, or White Cloud, a celebrated chief of the Iowa tribe of Indians, who died in this county, near the Missouri, a few years before the town was located.
About the first building erected on the town site was a frame house put up by a Mr. Bird, and used for a store, in which a general stock of goods was kept. This building was erected on land now owned by Mr. Palmer. The next building was erected on Main street, and owned by Briggs & Jennings. In 1856 or 1857, Shreve & Macky put up a frame building, and used it for a drug store, it being the first in the place. This building was afterward replaced by brick.
In the spring of 1857, E. Spaulding put up two small one and one-half story frame buildings, which we're used for a hotel. These two buildings were erected on the site of the present City Hotel. In 1858, the frame buildings were destroyed, and the present City Hotel was built by Messrs. Utt & Spaulding.
The first schoolhouse, a frame building, was erected in 1858 or 1859. This building being burned down shortly afterward, it was replaced by one of brick, and used for church purposes; it is now used as a colored school.
In 1857, a Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by Rev. Graham.
Dr. T. C. Shreve -- from whose brother the city of Shrevesport, Louisiana, received its name -- located as a physician in 1866 or 1857.
In 1857, B. E. Marcum, a Virginian, now of Denver, Col., was the first to represent the profession of law.
The city of White Cloud may boast of having one of the finest school buildings in the county. About 1874, a fine brick edifice, was erected at a cost of about $12,000; is heated by furnaces and nicely furnished.
One of the most important landmarks of White Cloud is the
now owned and operated by John H. Lynds. On the 18th of April,
1855, Joshua Taylor, having purchased a small side-wheel steamer, started from Wellsville, Ohio, with the intention of establishing a ferry at White Cloud. Arriving at this point on the 3d of June, in the same year, he entered into partnership with a Mr. Moore, and named the boat "White Cloud." Messrs. Taylor & Moore operated the boat until the spring of 1862, when they sold it to O. Bailey, Mr. Bailey operating the boat until 1867, when it met with an accident, common to Missouri River boats, and was so badly wrecked as to render it useless for further service. Some time in May, 1868, Messrs. Bailey & Noyes built a new boat, giving it the same name as its predecessor. Some time in May, 1871, John H. Lynds bought a one- fourth interest, and took charge of it. In the fall of 1878, Mr. Lynds sold a one-half interest -- he having previously bought, from time to time, the remaining interests -- to David Bailey. In 1881, Mr. Lynds bought back his one-half interest, thus making him sole owner up to the present time.
White Cloud, being situated on the western bend of the Missouri River, is the most westerly of all the Kansas River towns, and is twelve miles farther west than Atchison. The distance to Troy, the county seat of Doniphan County, is twenty miles; to Hiawatha, the county seat of Brown County, sixteen miles; to St. Joseph, Mo., thirty- two miles; to Atchison, Kan., thirty-five miles; to Leavenworth, sixty miles; to Topeka, the capital of the State, about eighty miles.
The Iowa Indians still have a reservation adjoining the town on the north, extending above the Nebraska State line, and six or eight miles to the westward.
White Cloud is in the midst of the best agricultural and stock-raising sections on the Missouri River, and will, no doubt, make one of the best towns in that section.
There are, at present, the following number of business enterprises, professions and trades represented :
General stores, four; grocery stores, two; drug stores, three; hardware stores, one; furniture, one; restaurants, two; hotels, two; livery stables, one; barber shops, one; grist-mills, one; saw-mills, one; boot and shoe shops, two; blacksmith shops, two; jewelry stores, one; billiard halls, one; harness shops, one; wagon shops, one; meat market, one; printing office (Review), one; millinery stores, one; carpenters, two; lawyers, two; physicians, four; painters, three; plasterers, three.
In 1854, a treaty was made with the Iowa Indians by the United States Government, in which the Indians transferred a greater portion of their land, for certain considerations, to the Government. This land was sold to the highest bidder, with the exception of a "float" of 320 acres, located at Wolf Grove, which was given to the United States Indian Interpreter, J. B. Roy, also another "float" of 160 acres, to the Rev. S. M. Irvin, of the Board of Missions, said "float" to be located at any point in the reserve.
In the spring of 1855, H. W. Forman, J. N. Forman and John S. Pemberton purchased this tract of 320 acres of United States Interpreter Roy, and traded it to S. M. Irvin for his "float," which he located where the town of Iowa Point now stands, and laid off the town, thus becoming its original founders.
A building was erected in 1854, by John Pemberton, and used as a dwelling. One of the Formans followed with a building of the same kind. Both buildings are still standing.
A hotel was built in 1855, by Boliver Beeler.
Messrs. Beeler & Williams built and operated a store in 1855, and were among the first merchants. These were immediately followed by X. K. Stout, and Richard Leach who was joined by B. B. Leach in 1856.
Among others who came about that time were Messrs. Brown, White, Glynn, Dutton and Tracy.
The first drug store was owned by Leigh & Brown in 1856, who erected a building for that purpose. In 1863, the building was destroyed by fire, also the entire block in which the building was situated.
The first meat market was established in 1856, by Messrs. Burkhalter & Hobbs.
Forman & Pemberton built a saw-mill in 1855. In 1857, the same firm built the Iowa Point Mills, now owned and operated by Ball & Brother.
John White, the first blacksmith, located in 1855.
In the spring of 1856, Dr. Leigh located in Iowa Point as the first physician. Dr. Long, of the Eclectic School, followed soon after.
In 1857 the first church edifice built in the place was erected by the Presbyterians, through the efforts of S. M. Irvin and Rev. McKane. The building is still standing and used for devotional exercises.
The Methodists had an organization about that time, and held meetings in what was then known as the Freemasons' Hall.
An organization of the Baptist persuasion held services in the Presbyterian Church, Rev. Allward officiating.
In 1855 a post office was established with J. S. Pemberton as Postmaster. All the mail received at that time the Postmaster carried in his hat.
As the business population increased, trade built up, until in 1858 Iowa Point had the largest business of any city in the State. A number of "wholesale" houses were in successful operation at that time, their trade extending to Marysville on the west, and Kennekuk on the south. At this time, nearly every business enterprise and trade was represented, and the town was second only in population to Leavenworth, and far ahead of it in trade. More stores and buildings were needed; pine lumber sold at $50 per thousand, and scarce at that; therefore, brick was looked upon as the only substitute. Joseph Slickmans, "undoubtedly a brick," started a brick-yard and furnished material for the new grist-mill and many of the public buildings and private residences.
In 1858, a steam ferry was built by a stock company of citizens, organized by H. Forman, who became its President.
The first lodge of Good Templars organized in the State was instituted here in 1856.
In 1857, Smithton Lodge, No. 1, was moved from the agency to Iowa Point. A hall was built on the highest elevation in the city limits, which was used by them until the Lodge was removed to Highland.
In 1857, a negro slave was sold at private sale, this being the first and about the only case of the kind that ever occurred in the State.
In 1857, a hotel was built at a cost of $10,000, and was destroyed by fire in 1860.
One of the early settlers was the Hon. R. M. Williams, present State Senator, who now resides at White Cloud. He was a member of the firm of Beeler & Williams, who, at that time, did an extensive wholesale business.
About the beginning of the great rebellion, in 1862, a devastating fire occurred, destroying all the buildings on the east side of Commercial street, up to Main, with two exceptions. The buildings have never been rebuilt.
In 1862, a company of the Eighth Kansas was stationed at this point. In 1861, a company of militia, under the command of C. J. Beeler, was organized.
As the country improved, other places were located, which had better facilities, and a better chance to sustain the healthy and solid growth that characterizes some of the towns of Doniphan County today. Iowa Point began to lose ground, and was compelled to yield to the superior advantages of other places. The town still retains its proportion of the grain trade -- supporting a large three-story grist mill, several general stores and other trades and professions in proportion.
In the fall of 1857, Gen. Bayless, Rev. S. M. Irvin, Rev. W. J. Rice, H. N. Seaworth and J. P. Johnson laid out the southeast quarter of Section 22, and the southwest quarter of Section 23, Town 2, Range 19, in town lots, thus forming the present town site of Highland.
About this time, Messrs. Spinning, OUNeil, Miner, Hubbard, Campbell and Zeeler located here.
The first buildings erected were built by the Town Company, and consisted of three small frame buildings, one of which is still standing, and is used as a dwelling. In the spring of 1858, Messrs. Campbell and Bonsteele followed with two frame buildings, which were occupied as dwellings. In the same year, Messrs. Stevenson & Deane opened a store with a general stock, and occupied a building on the site of the present livery stable.
The first hotel or inn was opened in the fall of 1857 by E. M. Hubbard, and consisted of fourteen rooms.
The first drug store was located over Miner & Irvin's store, and owned by Dr. J. Leigh.
Dr. Palmer, of the Homeopathic School, who located in Highland, in 1858, was the first physician.
A. Snyder located in 1857, as the first carpenter and joiner.
The first blacksmith was a Mr. Baldwin, who located in 1858.
About 1865, the first meat market was established by James Shaffer
The first school was taught by V. McGookin, of Princeton, Ohio, in a small frame building that was moved up from the Mission. This building stood on the present site of Hammond's store.
The first Sunday school was organized under the auspices of the Presbyterians, E. M. Hubbard being the Superintendent. Services were held in a log building on the town site.
In the month of July, 1861, Maj. Herrick organized Company A, Seventh Kansas Cavalry -- better known at that time as the "Kansas Jayhawkers" -- in front of Bailey's store. The company was composed of twenty-three members, among whom may be found the following: H. M. Campbell, S. S. Campbell, L. Utt, S. Fox, J. H. Wilde, M. Davidson, B. Scrofford and G. Bird.
This company passed through eighty-five engagements and came out at the close of the war without a scratch (?). The regiment was mustered out of service with honorable mention September 29, 1865.
Highland has four religious organizations, as follows: One Presbyterian, who occupy the University Chapel: one Methodist, who occupy a frame edifice; one Congregational, who occupy a brick edifice; one colored Methodist, who have no building.
The following business enterprises are represented at present: General stores, 4; hardware, 2; restaurants, 2; drug stores, 2; boot and shoe stores, 2; millinery establishments, 2; bank, 1; hotel, 1; livery stable, 1; barber shop, 1; blacksmith shops, 3.
Highland Station is a lively little burg on the Atchison & Nebraska Railroad, four miles east of Highland. Was located in the winter of 1869-70, by a company composed of J. P. Johnson, B. F. Herring, J. A. Kennedy and G. W. Glick, of Atchison, Kansas, who represented the Atchison & Nebraska Railroad Company. The town site, as laid out, is the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 21, Town 2, Range 20, and was formerly the property of J. A. Kennedy.
J. A. Kennedy and B. F. Harring opened the first store, and kept a general stock.
The following business enterprises followed in the order men- mentioned (sic) during the same year -- 1870: A blacksmith shop; a hotel, kept by J. Brooning; a store with a general stock, owned by L. Deckinger.
In 1870, the post office was established, with J. A. Kennedy as Postmaster; during this year the depot was built.
In 1881, the Christian people of Highland Station feeling the need of a place of worship, united in erecting an edifice, which was called the Union Church.
This is a station on the Atchison & Nebraska Railroad, located in the spring of 1870, by Jesse Reed and James Bradley.
The first building erected on the town site was a blacksmith shop, built some time in 1870.
The post office was established in the same year, with James Bradley as Postmaster, who is the present incumbent.
A stone grist-mill was built by William Hedrick in 1872.
The neighborhood of Fanning is composed principally of Catholics. In 1879, they built a large church edifice, which is a credit to the place.
The Atchison & Nebraska depot was built in 1870.
The population of Fanning is estimated at about forty souls.
WOLF RIVER TOWNSHIP.
This township received its name from the river of that name which flows through its confines The river received its name from a celebrated Indian chief of the Sac tribe, who, previous to the opening of the country for settlement, owned a large tract of land in this neighborhood.
This township is one of the original five townships into which the county was divided, and was organized on the first day of September, 1855, and its boundaries fixed as follows: Bounded on the north by Iowa Township; on the east by the second range line, running north and south, between Ranges 20 and 21, through Doniphan; on the south by Wayne Township; and on the west by the county line. A. Q. Rice and Mr. Gillmore were appointed Justices of the Peace, and William Lewis, Constable.
The first election in this township was held at the house of Milton Utt, at what was then known as the Sac Village, on the first Monday in October, 1855.
On September 16, 1856, the County Board caused one and one-half (1 1/2) miles to be taken from the eastern boundary of this township and attached to Washington Township.
On June 21, 1859, a change was made, and the boundary was fixed as follows: Commencing at the northwest corner of Section 6, Town 3, Range 19; thence east to the northeast corner of Section 3, Town 3, Range 20; thence south to the southeast corner of Section 10, Town 4, Range 20; thence west four miles; thence south four miles to the county line; thence west to the southwest corner of the county; thence north to place of beginning.
On July 10, 1878, all that part of Wolf River Township then lying in the Congressional Town 4, Range 19, was re-organized into what is now known as Union Township, and the boundary of Wolf River Township was changed accordingly.
The surface of Wolf River Township is principally rolling, high, prairie land, lying in gentle swells, excepting that part through which the Wolf River flows, where it becomes more broken and bluffy. Wolf River is the principal stream, not only in the township, but in the county; flows from the west nearly due east for about five miles, then making an abrupt detour to the northeast; leaves the township on Section 4, Town 3, Range 20. The stream is fed by numerous tributaries, which serve to drain a large area of the township.
It has been impossible to ascertain who was the first actual settler in the township, but during the winter of 1854, P. Hooper, A. Q. Rice, and Messrs. Brown and Deacon settled on the Wolf River, above where Severance now stands, put up log cabins, and were the first to enter claims in the township.
During the next year, the following persons came in and took up claims: S. Lambert, N. Springer, C. C. Clouch, C. Milliman, N. Bennett, J. Springer, J. Praul, C. Dittesmore, G. Dittesmore, E. Shockley, M. Utt, and many others.
The first marriage ceremony taking place in the township was that of John Cummings and Caroline Hooper, a daughter of one of the first settlers. There being no minister in the neighborhood at that time (Spring of 1855), the ceremony was performed by Squire Rice, one of the first Justices of the Peace in the Township.
Probably the first birth was Perry, a son of George Dittermore(sic), some time in 1855.
The first death occurring in the township was that of J. Waggoner, in the summer of 1855.
The first religious services were held in the spring of 1855, by Rev. Shaw, of the Methodist persuasion, in an Indian village of the Iowa and Sac tribes. This village was located about three miles from the present town site of Severance, on the Wolf River. The services were held in an Indian wigwam, used by the Indians as a council chamber.
In the summer of 1857, J. Utt taught the first subscription school in the Indian wigwam.
In 1858 or 1859 a coroner's inquest was held at "Hooper's Ford", over the body of Peter Hooper.
A post office was established at Walnut Grove in 1858 or 1859. H. Robinson, Postmaster. Previous to this time, the settlers obtained their mail at Iowa Point.
In 1862, the post office at Walnut Grove was removed to Bain's Bridge, a point four miles below the present town site of Severance, on the Wolf River, where it was continued for a number of years.
In 1861, Dr. Archer located in the township, being the first to represent the medical fraternity.
A saw and grist mill was built in 1857 or 1858 by a Mr. Bartlett, at what was then called the Wolf River Falls, situated about three miles northwest of present town site of Severance. In the spring freshet of 1862, the dam was destroyed, and the enterprise was abandoned.
Principal products of the township are corn, wheat and other small grains. Fruit culture is also extensively carried on.