History Washington Township, Buchanan County, IA
From: History of Bachanan County, Iowa And its People
By Harry Church and Katharyn J. Chappell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. Chicago 1914


The first organization of Washington Township by order of the courts was as early as the year 1848. It then included the congressional townships of Washington, Hazleton, Perry and Fairbank. In the above mentioned year, an election was held for Washington Township, and Isaac Hathaway, John Scott and John Obenchain were appointed judges of the election. No record of this election was kept, however, and the result has been lost as a consequence.

Perhaps the first settlement made in territory now comprised in Washington Township was made by Isaac Hathaway in September, 1845, about two miles east of Independence. He entered the land upon which he settled. When Hathaway first chme he found a rude but constructed of poles hewn from the nearby timber, but as to who constructed the crude dwelling he had no knowledge, nor did he ever learn. During the winters of 1845 and 1846 they came to Centre Point for corn, paying twenty five cents a bushel for it. They called this place Egypt. When Mr. Hathaway settled here there were no settlers north of him in the county, nor west in the township His nearest neighbors at this time were Henry Baker in Byron Township, three miles east, E. G. Allen, Joseph Collier and Gamaliel Walker in Liberty Township, five miles south. Early in the spring of 1846 Hathaway constructed a log house for the better accommodation of his family. Supplies came mostly from Dubuque at this time, with the exception of those brought from the one little store at Quasqueton and a mill owned by Davis & Thompson, where they ground corn. The abundance of game, however, kept their table well supplied with meat during the months when travel was difficult.

The next spring Mr. Hathaway raised his first crop of wheat, forty bushels, and fenced in eighty acres of land. Mr. Hathaway made other improvements from time to time and was fairly prosperous or as much so as the early settler could be. Hathaway was born in the State of New York, came to Ohio when a young man and married there, and from this state went successively to Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and then Iowa. He lived in Iowa for about twelve years, then sold out and moved back to Ohio, but shortly returned to this state, bought a farm near Greeley's Grove, where he remained for about five years when he again became restless and moved to Cedar County, where he lived until his death in 1872.

The first school Vaught in Washington Township was conducted in Hathaway's log home in the winter of 1846.

John Obenclain became a settler in this township in the spring of 1846. He was the first after Hathaway and was located about three miles from his home. He obtained funds at the start by raising hogs and then drawing them to Dubuque. He built a rude shanty and began to break prairie with a yoke of oxen. He was a native of Virginia. In 1850 Obenehain went to California, attracted by the gold fever of the times, but came back again in 1853 and lived here until 1860, when he started for Oregon, where he spent the remaining years of his life.

Oscar Wickham settled in the north part of the township in the spring of 1846, and constructed a rude cabin. He was a native of the State of Ohio. He left here after a few years' residence and went to Linn County, then to Fayette County, then to Kansas. His whereabouts after this are not known.

Michael Ginther came about the same time as Wickham. In fact, they lived together in the same house. In 1850 he moved into Sumner and is credited as being the first settler in that place.

On November 18, 1846, Thomas Barr became a settler of Washington Township. He built his home in the north part on land which he entered from the Government. He lived for many years in the township and was one of its most honored members

John Boone settled in the township in November, 1846, entered his land and built on the site later occupied by the county poorhouse. After living here about one year he sold his place to I. F. Hathaway and removed one mile away, in the same: township, purchased 200 acres of land, built a house and began the making of improvements. He and Isaac Hathaway built a log house and hired a teacher in the winter of 1847. Boone was always noted as a hunter and trapper. His death occurred May 22, 1881.


Otterville is the only village located in the township and is located near Otter Creek, about half a mile from its junction with the Wapsie. This village was platted about the year 1857, by Robert T. Young, who owned the ground. One of the first industries to be established in this place was a sawmill, owned and operated by James Dyer in 1854. Three years later there was a gristmill. The former was abandoned in 1878. The year after the sawmill was established a wagon shop was opened by Enoch and Zachariah Hall; and a blacksmith shop was started by Homer Sanders.

The postoffice of Otterville was opened about the year 1860 and the first postmaster was George L. Wilcox. His immediate successors were Mr. Ostrander, S. H. Stallard, George Sprague and J. T. Anderson. This office was discontinued on July 15, 1902 and Otterville is now served from Independence by a rural mail carrier.

The first store was established in the village in the winter of 1861, and was kept by various parties until 1875. The store kept mostly groceries and other general merchandise.

A hotel was opened to the public in 1863, by Mr. Robertson. This hostelry did business for about twelve years.

The first bridge across the Otter at this point was built in 1868.

The Methodist Episcopal religious organization was established in the Village of Otterville during the first year of the Civil war. This church is still in existence and has a present membership of about forty five. The records of this church were not procurable, so that the detailed history of the society is impossible. This society did disband prior to the organization of the Presbyterian, but about 1895 reorganized.

The Presbyterian Church at Otterville was first organized on May 19, 1889. Previous to this time there had been no attempt at organization, due to the lack of members The coming of several letter members of the Pleasant Grove Church at Littleton made the church possible. Among these were: J. C. Wroten, J. W. and Mary A. Flummerfelt, Mrs. Adelia Bright, Mrs. Elizabeth O'Brien, Caroline L. Smith, John Slaughter, E. J. Slaughter, S. D. Trego, G. L. Trego, Ida Trego, the latter three being from the Baptist Church at Littleton. The society having been organized, interest once more seemed to lag, and not until November, 1892, did the people become really active again. At this time renewed interest was taken and the society steadily grew. The new church building was dedicated on August 30, 1896, with quite elaborate ceremonies. The church membership at the present time, 1914, is over one hundred active members.


In the year 1872 the Union Grange No. 525 of Otterville, conceived the idea of giving an annual fair, for the exhibit of stock, cereals and other farm products, the same to be sectional in interest and devoted to the improvement of agriculture of the township and county. The first fair was given in that year and, with one or two interruptions, has been given every year since. No admission is charged to the exhibit, which is shown under canvas tents, and the premiums, some of them cash, are paid from a sum donated by the ones interested. Thus, the fair in almost every respect but size, is similar to the Hazleton District Fair. The Otterville fair is generally held in the first week of October.

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