Early Days in Hamilton County,
Then and Now
Bessie Lyon, 1946
Early Days in Hamilton County,
Then and Now
by Bessie I. Lyon, 1946
The following paragraphs are a portion of this 100 page book which tells about early Hamilton County including Lyon Township, which includes the town of Jewell. We are making an effort to relate Bessie Lyon's writing by using the same punctuation and capitalization she used in 1946. It is presumed that Bessie Lyon's last name is not related to her writing about Lyon Township.
From the Forward of her book - Early Days in Hamilton County, Then and Now is not intended to be a complete history of the county. . . Rather, it is designed to present pictures of pioneer days and to inform the young people of the present, concerning the lives of the brave people who began the settlement of Hamilton County; to show something of the geographical locations which they chose for their homes, together with the difficulties they faced, in order to make our county the prosperous and delightful place it is today. . . Especial thanks should go to Mr. J. W. Lee for his generosity in permitting the free use of his History for reference; also to Miss Charlotte Crosley for the use of much historical material, which she has preserved at Kendall Young Library.
The final sentence of her book, "As a small contribution toward the celebration of the Iowa Centennial, this little work on Early Days In Hamilton County is respectfully submitted, with the hope that some fast vanishing memories of the good people who pioneered here, may thus be preserved for their posterity." Bessie L. Lyon
Lyon township lies in township 87, range 24, of the congressional survey. Skunk River enters section 1, and flows through the eastern part of the township, and it was along its wooded banks that settlement began, for this was the one timbered area within the boundaries of Lyon township.
The first settlers were the Lakins', who came in 1854 and established the first homes in the eastern part of the county.
Luther Lakin came and entered land in 1854; he was accompanied by Elisha Laken, Oscar M. Lakin and Dr. Cochran, all of whom entered land also, and returned east. Luther Lakin married and returned to start the first home in the township in 1855; however, he was soon followed by Elisha Lakin, B. A. Laking and E. P. McCowan, who all settled near together thus establishing the name "Lakins' Grove," which long identified the community and at one time had a post office by that name.
The McCowans were assisted in building their home by all the Lakins; Evelyn McCown was born in the new cabin, being the first white child born in the eastern part of the county.
Luther Lakin took his bride to a "Bark Shanty," where she cooked their meals, but sleeping quarters were provided by the covered wagon; it was well that the weather was mild, for it took three months to complete the log house.
Accounts of the Lakin family state that the third house was built or Elisha Lakin, and this was used as a dwelling for many years, but as time passed, and a larger home was needed, a new house took its place and the old one was used as a stable, and was so used when the farm was sold to Palmer Tatham.
A pioneer of very early day was John G. Bonner, who came to Hamilton county in 1859 and bought 1200 acres of land in Rose Grove township which he sold in 1862 and bought 400 acres in sections 23 and 25 in Lyon township.
He occupied this land until 1870, when he sold it to his son-in-law, Palmer Tatham, and moved to his half section of land in section 11, which he improved and spent his remaining years there.
A son-in-law of John G. Bonner was F. A. P. Tatham, who came to Lyon township to live in 1866; coming from Ohio in 1864 he worked for a time as a farm hand and saved his money so carefully that he bought 320 acres of land in section 11; this land he later exchanged with his father-in-law, John G. Bonner, and made it into a specially fine stock farm. He was not only a successful businessman, but he took part in shaping the affairs of the township having served for six years as a trustee.
Starting with the Lakins in 1855, the population had only reached 81 by 1863; in 1870 it had a little more than doubled, having reached 188. There were no towns near, and the pioneers struggled with bad roads, lack of easy communication, the long distance from any markets and the ever present drainage problem. Mud lake, a shallow lake, lying a few miles northwest of the present town of Jewell, was finally drained and 1585 acres of land were added to this rich area of farm land.
In 1880 things began to pick up, for the Chicago and Northwestern railroad came through the county, and an east and west branch, together with the north and south branch made a juction in section 33, and a town sprang up at once, and was christened "Jewell Junction," in honor of David T. Jewell, who laid out the town.
The coming of the railroads to the county was of the utmost importance; when the Illinois Central came through in 1869 it established connection with the outside world to the east and west, which meant easier travel, better markets, and quicker development of the country; but a north and south road was urgently needed, and such was the pressure, that the four southeastern townships, -- Ellsworth, Scott, Lyon and Lincoln -- voted a five percent tax, on condition that the station be placed within a mile of the central corners of these townships.
It was thus that the town of Callanan started, as previously mentioned in connection with Lincoln townhip. It is stated that the narrow gauge road had so steep a grade that it was very difficult for a train to pull into Callanan since the village was on a bluff, on the east bank of the Skunk river.
The town started off with a boom, and the "Callanan Herald" told of the rare advantages of the town; the paper was short lived, however, and soon was discontinued, to be succeeded by "The Callanan Register"; this venture soon failed, for the whole town "folded its wings like the Arab," and moved to new locations on the Northwestern road, which came through in 1880, which established north and south connections for the county. So the nucleus of Jewell was started, and it grew rapidly, while Callanan disappeared.
Among the first business people were the Messers. Lauritson, George Stuart, R. H. Rodearmal, E. L. Lanning and the Warburton brothers who put up buildings; a man by the name of Hoppus moved in from Callanan, bringing his meat market with him. In January of the second year, Messers. Strong and Stevens each built a lumber office and Mr. Cooper built a residence, one part of which was used as the post office. This was a very stormy winter, but houses were moved over from Callanan as fast as blizzards would permit.
In February, the Rev. Mr. Van Emmans of Williams came and reached a sermon in Mr. Rodearmal's drug store; he also formed a union Sunday school. When spring came, more houses were moved from Callanan, while building started apace; Mr. Gillman built a hotel, while J. R. King, Mr. New and Mr. Miller each erected a two story building and business progressed rapidly.
The Reverend J. R. Rankin of the Methodist church, alternated with Rev. Van Emman, and held services every two weeks.
The legal profession was well represented in the new town, or there were three lawyers who established offices there in its early days -- F. T. Haight, W. T. Frazier and S. L. Sage, the latter being also the teacher of the village school. Some years ago, there was no resident attorney there, and G. O. Blake, a veteran of World War I, came back to his birthplace and has conducted a thriving legal practice since; he is at present the mayor of Jewell. His father, J. M. Blake, also practiced law in Jewell, moving from there to Webster City, when he was elected county attorney; quite a number of years ago. In 1880 the Jewell Record was founded by Savage and Savage and the paper in still issued weekly by Claude Campbell, who took charge of it in 1905.
Mr. Campbell is an enthusiastic and progressive citizen and he publishes his paper upon the highest standards for the welfare of the Jewell community. For over forty years he has conducted an able and fearless paper and it has a wide circulation.
William Anderson came to Hamilton county from Canada in 1873 and settled in Lyon township; at first he taught school and in 1874, he bought 160 acres in section 26; during a very busy life he increased his holdings to 500 acres. Besides teaching, he held public offices for many years; amoung these positions of trust were county superintendent, county auditor, and reprentative from Hamilton county for two terms.
In business circles he was very prominent, having been president of the Jewell State bank, a director in its municipal plants and mayor of Jewell for two terms. His descendants have also been promient professionally in the community and in the state.
Mrs. Carrie Strong presented the community with the cemetery, located on highway 69, just south of the town.
This second city of our county has maintained a steady growth; its business has produced a stable prosperity; a rich farming community supplies it with produce, while Jewell's excellent shipping facilities attract the shipment of great quantities of grain and livestock.
Three churches afford places of worship -- the Bethesda Lutheran, the Federated church and the Good Shepherd Catholic church.
For many years the Lutheran people maintained a college here, which attracted young people of that denomination from far and near. It was later absorbed by other Lutheran colleges and the school district bought the college buildings, and the public schools now enjoy the benefits of a commodious gymnasium and other buildings.
Two paved highways pass through Jewell, No. 69 going north and south and No. 175 going east; the streets are well paved and lighted, while comfortable homes, well kept lawns and well arranged business establishments show that Jewell is pushing forward.
Lyon township's interested historian, Miss Hattie Barkhuff, has contributed many articles of interest to local papers, in regard to pioneer life. Her mother's father, Oliver Crane, came to eastern Iowa in 1843. Her mother, born in 1854, came to Hamilton county before the C. and N. W. R. R. was built. To quote Miss Barkhuff, "She saw the little white school houses and rural churches built, then later, saw the small schools giving way to a consolidated school. Trails were made into highways, tile made land workable, but the greatest improvement in rural life, it seemed to her, was the telephone." Mrs. Barkhuff died in 1934 and is buried in Ellsworth.
A native son of Jewell, A. Montgomery, upon his death bequeathed a fund of some $25,000, with which to endow a memorial Library; when constructed it is to be in charge of a group of trustees, all of whom are to be members of the Masonic Order. Thus Jewell looks forward to having the second endowed Library in the county.