History of Eden Township, Fayette County, IA
From: Past and Present of Fayette County, Iowa
B. F. Bowen & Company
Indianapolis, Indiana 1910


This township, formerly a part of Auburn, was organized in 1852, with a voting population of nine. It is generally believed that James Austin, who built a cabin on section 11, in 1849, was the first actual settler, but he soon sold his claim to Baldwin Kirkpatrick, and is thereafter better known among the pioneers of Windsor township.

Eden is one of the best agricultural townships in the county, its soil being specially adapted to diversified farming and general stock raising, elements which together contributed to the success of the pioneers during their first efforts at home making. The land is generally rolling prairie, except along the Turkey river and Crane creek, where there was considerable timber in early days. The banks of these streams are comparatively low as they pass through this township, and the typical "Turkey river bluffs," as found elsewhere in the county, are mostly lacking in Eden township. Besides the two principal streams already mentioned, there are many smaller creeks and spring branches which drain the land and render it ideal for stock raising.

Unlike most of the other townships of the county, the first settlers in Eden did not at once establish a village, but located on their farm homes and were content to do their trading at towns established in other sections, or even in adjoining counties. The northwest quarter of Eden township was settled almost exclusively by Irish people, some of them direct from the Emerald Isle, but mostly from other sections of our own country. The descendants of these early families still occupy the old homesteads or have drifted into other lines of business, but most of them are in some day identified with the original homesteads. Some of our most efficient county officers have come from the early farm homes in northwestern Eden.

The first school in this township was taught in a private house in the spring of 1854, by Hannah Tiff. In the same year a log school house was built on section 24 (at the later village of Eden), and Miss Murray was the first teacher there.

St. Rose's church, established in the northwest corner of the township, was the first religious organization in Eden, if we except the work of the traveling pioneer ministers who occasionally held services at the cabins of the people. This church was built in 1857, and was dedicated by Bishop Loras, as appears more fully in the article on the Catholic church in Fayette county. For the history of St. Mary's Catholic church in Waucoma, the reader is referred to the same article.

The schools of Eden township are organized under the district township system, there being eight sub-districts, controlled by a board of eight sub-directors, each endowed with legal authority to manage his own school (under certain restrictions). There are eight school houses in the district township, valued at three thousand five hundred dollars, with school apparatus valued at one hundred twenty two dollars, and five hundred ten volumes in the school libraries. At the taking of the last enumeration there were one hundred ninety pupils between the ages of five and twenty one years, of whom one hundred fifty four were enrolled in the schools, with an average daily attendance of ninety nine. The average cost of tuition per month for each pupil was two dollars and eighty two cents. Duration of schools, eight months. Teachers employed, two males and nine females, at an average compensation of thirty five dollars per month.


Waucoma is the principal town in Eden township, and dates its existence from 1855, when Baldwin Kirkpatrick built the first house on the town plat. The land upon which this town is located was entered by J. P. Webster in 1854, and Mr. Webster laid out the town in the same year. At first, and for many years, the town had a tardy growth, but the advent of the Davenport and St. Paul branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway, in 1879, gave the village a new lease of life, and it has since had a steady and prosperous growth. It has always been the principal town in Eden township, and is today fully abreast of all the trading points in the county, and is a progressive and flourishing town, peopled with a class of public spirited citizens whose influence, money and enterprise have made Waucoma an up to date and prosperous town.

This town was incorporated in July, 1883, and J. P. Webster was elected first mayor. This venerable pioneer has served in that capacity about twenty of the twenty seven years of the corporate existence of the town, though not continuously. Other mayors elected in the town were Dr. O. B. Dodd, Ace Webster, G. W. Bowers, W. H. Stone and L. A. Miller, with J. P. Webster, the present incumbent.

The postoffice was established soon after the town was laid out. and Milo Goodell was the first postmaster. He was succeeded by J. P. Webster. Other postmasters, in order of appointment, were L. J. Smith, K. M. Burnside, J. J. Kieron, J. M. Burnside, A. F. Gressler, and J. W. Reed, the present incumbent. In early days this office was on the "star route" between Osage and West Union, and mails were delivered but twice a week. It is now a third class office, having several daily mails.

The Waucoma Sentinel is the only newspaper in the town, it having been established in the seventies (see article on the Public Press). E. B. Stillman, an experienced newspaper man, was at the head of the Sentinel for a number of years in its early history. It has always been a spicy and readable weekly paper.

The Waucoma mill was one of the earliest industries established in the town, and one which did more than anything else to bring trade and develop business. It was at first equipped with the old fashioned stone buhrs. but with the progress of the times it became a full roller system and turned out as fine a quality of products as any of its competitors. At present this mill is operated exclusively for the grinding of feed, buckwheat, etc., and has abandoned flour making since the failure in the spring wheat crops.

The first hotel in Waucoma was operated by Milo Goodell and was known as the Empire House. A little later it passed into the hands of "Uncle Bill" Scovil, who operated it after a manner peculiarly his own, for many years. The Commercial House and the Palace Hotel were later additions; the latter, and the best hotel Waucoma has ever had, was burned in January, 1907, and the Commercial suffered a similar fate in the autumn of 19o8. In each case other property was destroyed, these being the greatest fire losses the town has ever sustained.


Numerous church organizations have existed in Waucoma from time to time, but some of them have not sustained their early organizations, while others have come and superseded them. Of the former, we mention the Christian denomination, who were among the early occupants of the field, but their organization went down.

In 1874 both the Congregational and United Brethren people effected organizations in the town and held their services in the school house. But the church organization of the Congregationalists was effected in the country, and later removed to Waucoma, where they built the first church edifice. In 1894 this congregation built their present house of worship, and this is the principal Protestant organization in the town.

A revival meeting was held in 1874 by Rev. M. S. Drury and his son, Rev. M. R. Drury, of the United Brethren denomination, the latter being then the pastor of the church at West Union. Excellent results were attained and a strong class was organized which flourished for a number of years. They built a church and maintained a successful organization, until a change in the church curriculum divided the members on doctrinal points into two organizations, known as "Radicals" and "Liberals," neither of which was financially able to sustain their weakened organizations, and the Waucoma church lost its identity, and the building was sold to the Methodists. The last named society still maintains its organization, as appears more fully in the history of the Methodist Episcopal church in Fayette county elsewhere in this work.

From the earliest days of Waucoma history, a considerable portion of the population have been people of the Roman Catholic faith, and these were somewhat inconvenienced by being compelled to attend services, if at all, at St. Rose church, some three or four miles distant. The question of moving the church to the town had long been considered, and yet the settlers around the old church objected to its removal. It was finally decided, however, to establish a new church for the accommodation of those who could attend services more conveniently in the town, and leave the old church undisturbed. This was finally done, and St. Mary's church, in Waucoma, was organized in 1899, under the pastorate of Rev. Father Hogan, the present pastor of the church in Waucoma. A neat and commodious church edifice was erected, at a cost of thirteen thousand five hundred dollars, besides a comfortable and modern parish house.


The first school house within the present limits of Waucoma was erected in 1860, and three years later a new frame school building was built to accommodate the increasing population. A graded school was established in early days, and it has always been one of the material points in municipal affairs to procure the best teaching talent to be found, and Waucoma has been justly proud of her schools, even when only a straggling village. The independent district of Waucoma came into existence prior to the incorporation of the town, and in 1882 the district built the first part of the present brick school house, to which an extensive addition was made in 1891, at a total cost of five thousand dollars. There are four rooms in the building, employing four teachers, one male and three females, the former at seventy five dollars per month, and the latter at an average compensation of thirty six dollars and sixty seven cents: duration of school year, nine months. During the last year, sixteen non resident pupils received instruction in the high school department, for which the district realized from tuition, one hundred seventy nine dollars and seventy five cents. There are one hundred sixty three pupils of school age in the district, of whom one hundred thirty were enrolled in the schools, with an average daily attendance of one hundred two. The average cost of tuition per month for each pupil was one dollar and eighty one cents. There are three hundred seventy volumes in the district library, and the school apparatus is valued at one hundred and fifty dollars.


The village of Eden is a little hamlet located on section 24 which has had a nominal existence since 1856. In the year last written Oliver Stone erected a saw mill on the Little Turkey, which passes through the village, and around this centered quite a number of early pioneer homes. Being located in a rich farming district, the small amount of business which the village stimulated was of that substantial kind which encourages the merchant and enables him to continue. During the days when the Patrons of Husbandry wielded a strong influence in this county, a Grange store was established at Eden, and conducted successfully for a number of years by George L. Noble, manager. But that feature was abandoned many years ago, and there is now one small store there, owned and operated by R. F. Rogers, an early settler and prominent citizen in the township.


The first banking accommodations here was the private bank of S. B. Zeigler & Company which concern had a chain of banks in this county. Its date was November, 1882. W. H. Stone was its cashier. He bought the bank out and established the Bank of Waucoma in 1887, a private bank.


A lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized in October, 1875, and now has a membership of sixty six; meets over the Bank of Waucoma.

Standard Lodge No. 351, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, was organized May 14, 1875, with the following charter members and officers: A. P. Fowler, worshipful master; W. E. Bender, senior warden; Linus Fox, junior warden; Henry Felker, secretary; James Miller, treasurer; O. B. Dodd, senior deacon; William Miller, junior deacon; John Lawrence, tyler; Robert Patterson, senior steward; Vol. Johnson, junior steward. The lodge now has a membership of sixty. It is the only lodge in the county owning its own hall, a fine brick with the postoffice on the first floor. This was erected in 1895.

A post of the Grand Army of the Republic was organized in 1879. Only twelve survivors of the Civil war are now members at this post.

The Modern Woodmen of America, Camp No. 4306, organized May 14, 1897, has seventy five members at this date. Present officers are: L. J. Gibbs, venerable consul; J. B. Steel, worthy advisor; Jo. Mitchell, banker; F. B. Reed, clerk. Meets in Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall. The camp has a Royal Neighbor auxiliary.


At an early day the Turkey was spanned by two bridges near this point one up stream about a quarter of a mile, and one at the lower end of town. Both were of the old type of Howe truss wooden bridges. As time and floods swept by, many repairs and new structures had to be built, and finally in 1872 a new and more modern one was built on the site of the present bridge. That served until 189o, when the Chicago Bridge Company erected the present steel structure, costing Fayette county three thousand five hundred dollars.

In 1876, D. P. Moody established a creamery at Waucoma and later sold to Webster & Webb, who operated the same until it was burned, after which the Farmers Creamery Company was organized and incorporated in 1889 and re-incorporated for twenty years more in 1909. They gather cream over regular routes.


Drugs - Burnside & Knight.
Hardware - George King & Son, Blong & Kolbert.
Implement Dealers - James McEnaney.
General Merchandise - Fred McKay, Bright & Webster.
Grocers - Servoss & Sperry, Fred Reed, Mrs. Anna Beebe.
Furniture - Blong & Colbert, John Reed.
Jeweler - C. A. Kohout.
Grain Dealers - Webster Brothers and James McEnaney.
Bank - The Bank of Waucoma.
Harness Shop - M. B. Wilson.
Lumber Dealers - Webster Brothers.
Livery Stables - L. Young and Robert Scott.
Meat Market - Bert Stribling.
Newspaper - The Sentinel.
Blacksmith shops - Will Kent, M. Stribling.
Restaurants - F. B. Reed and Mrs. A. Beebe.
Feed Mill - Will Twambley.
Creamery - Farmers Creamery Company.
Opera House - Mrs. J. J. Kieron.
Photograph Gallery - J. P. Eskildsen.
Physicians and Surgeons - Drs. O. B. Dodd, (retired), Fox & Hobby, E. S. Kaufman (homeopathic) and Dr. Smittel.
Hotel - Mrs. Anna B. Beebe.
Wagon shop - William Barbour.
Millinery - Mrs. M. Husband.
Attorney-at-law - A. C. Boylan.

Dr. J. B. Norris came from Illinois to Chickasaw county, ten miles north of Waucoma, in the fifties, and to Waucoma in 1860, and practiced here until his death, in 1865. Then came Dr. Olmstead, who remained only a short time. The third doctor at Waucoma was Dr. O. B. Dodd, who still resides there, but has practically retired from the practice, though he is called in extreme cases and as counsel. (See medical chapter)

By Mrs. Anna Holton and Almon Davis.

The village of Alpha is located on Crane creek, section 32. Eden township, and was originally a part of the farm owned by Philander Davis. It was surveyed and platted about 1870, by E. D. Gazley, as it was necessary that the town should be named before the plat could be recorded. Mr. Davis said his wife should name it. She said as it would he the first town on Crane creek, they would call it Alpha, as that meant the "beginning." But for several years the town was more generally known as Johnson's Mill. The first house was built during the fall of 1869, by Samuel Johnson, who, with his son Volney N., had bought the water power the preceding winter or spring. During the winter of 1869-70, timber was hauled from the Auburn woods, and lumber from Lawler, and work was begun both on the mill and dam early in the spring of 1870. The work on the mill was carried on so expeditiously under the supervision of a millwright by the name of Taft, that the people in the vicinity held a 4th of July picnic in it, that being the first 4th of July demonstration held in Alpha. The mill was completed and in operation early in the autumn. Harley Wade was the first miller. Flour was made and shipped quite extensively for several years, but at present only buckwheat and feed grinding is done. After numerous changes in ownership, this property is now owned and operated by A. A. Finch. The first blacksmithing was done by Tyler and Perkins, in a board shanty on the east side of the road, at the north end of the bridge. In the fall of 1870, Mr. Perkins built the stone shop, and sold it to Thomas Bartie in 1871. Some of those who have either owned or worked in the old shop for some considerable length of time are Thomas Bartie, Chauncey Bronson, Thompson and Tabor, George Broadbent, Albert Broadbent, Frank Fisk, and others. The building was owned for some years by C. C. Dykins, who sold it to the Davis brothers. The "old stone shop," which for thirty eight years was a landmark in Alpha, was torn down by Almon Davis, in 1908, and a two story brick building erected on the site. The first story of this building is used by Mr. Davis as a hardware store, and the upper story is used by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Brotherhood of American Yeomen as a lodge room.

The first wagon shop was built by the Davis brothers, who did wagon making and general repair work. This building was sold to F. D. Talcott, who moved and enlarged it, and put in a blacksmithing outfit. This property has changed hands several times, Fred Thelman owning it and working there quite a number of years. It is now owned by Almon Davis and son, D. D. Davis, who have rebuilt it, and put in a gasoline engine, saw, lathes and other machinery, making it a first class blacksmith and wagon shop.

In the summer of 1871 C. C. Dykins built the first store building, and put in a stock of general merchandise. This building has been used continuously as a store, and is now occupied by Gager Brothers, with general merchandise and postoffice. The Bethel postoffice was moved to Alpha about 1879, and the name changed to Alpha. Philander Davis was the first postmaster, and George Bowers, deputy. Mr. Davis soon resigned in favor of Mr. Bowers. The office Was turned over to R. S. Brayton in 1883, and after his death in 1890, his wife, Mrs. M. A. Brayton, was appointed postmistress, which office she filled until June, 1907, when she resigned in favor of E. E. Gager. About 1887, the Day Brothers put up a small building for creamery purposes, the machinery being operated by horse tread power. The building was burned in September, 1888, and the Farmers Co-operative Creamery Association was formed the same fall. A new building was erected, equipped and in operation by the following January. After twenty years use, the building was torn down and a brick structure was erected in 19o8 and equipped with all modern conveniences; and now Alpha has a creamery to be proud of. The report for the year ending October, 1909, was one hundred seventy thousand one hundred and fifty seven pounds of butter manufactured, and actual cash receipts, forty four thousand two hundred nineteen dollars and twenty four cents. During the spring or summer of 1880 the building now occupied by E. F. Sheldon, as restaurant and grocery, was built by Doctor Stearns, and a stock of drugs was placed in it. After a few months the Doctor left, and the drugs were moved away, since which time Alpha has had no resident physician.

M. B. Wilson put in the first harness shop in 1887, and continued here in the business five years. Frank West is the present harnessmaker, and is doing a good business. The tonsorial chair has for years been looked after by William Patterson. In 1883, L. W. Drake put up a new building, and filled it with a stock of goods. The building is now occupied by Richmond & Chapman. with general merchandise.

The following gentlemen have been at some time in the mercantile business in Alpha: C. C. Dykins, George Bowers, L. W. Drake, A. L. Davis, J. B. Hathaway, James Patterson, C. F. Carr, F. J. McIntyre, and C. Brayton, general merchandise; Herman Schmudluck, J. A. Hathaway, Eugene Finch, and Almon Davis, hardware.

The first school house in the district was built by S. H. Stine, in the fall of 1867, and the first term of school was taught by Henry A. Bender. The first marriage in the town was A. E. Davis to Record Jewett, in November, 1870. It is believed the first child born was Mamie Bartie, daughter of Thomas Bartie. The first death, Sammy Bronson, little son of Chauncey Bronson.

The only serious accident that has occurred in the town was on December 9, 1902, when a shadow of gloom was cast over the entire community by the death of Robert Patterson (miller), who was caught in the machinery, and instantly killed.

Alpha is a town of some note abroad, as it is quite a summer resort. It has its beautiful little park, on the south side of the river, owned and cared for by J. T. Gager, who has also a gasoline launch, and several row boats, and a commodious boat house for the use of pleasure seekers. No saloon has ever smirched the fair record of our town. It was once attempted but was boycotted, and soon was moved away.


Religious meetings were held in the room over L. W. Drake's store some time during the eighties, conducted by a Congregational minister, Rev. Robert Mumby. A Sunday school was also organized in the same place, Charles A. Husband acting as superintendent.

The Ladies Aid Society was organized by Rev. Emmett Hunt in 1888, since which time the ladies have realized over three thousand dollars by their efforts.

The church was built in 1889, and dedicated by the Methodist Episcopal denomination, with Rev. Emmet Hunt, as first pastor.


An Independent Order Good Templars was organized in July, 1889, by Mrs. Anna M. Tying, state deputy, and still holds weekly meetings. A. L. Davis was the first chief templar. In connection with this order, a Juvenile Templar organization was instituted by Mrs. Mary E. Lloyd, and continued its meetings for twenty years.

Alpha Camp, Modern Woodmen of America, was organized on February 24, 1898, with Ed. Ostrander as first venerable consul, and J. B. Hathaway, clerk.

Bethel Homestead, Brotherhood of American Yeomen, was instituted in September, 1898 with John Waterworth as first foreman.

Alpha Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was instituted January 25, 1908, by L. W. White, grand master of the grand lodge of Iowa, with forty three charter members. Almon Davis was first noble grand.


This company was organized in October, 1905, the object at first being for local convenience, but the system spread, until now it covers ninety miles of line, has three hundred and one shareholders, owning their own phones, and the company owns ninety rented phones. Towns reached by even exchange are as follows: Waucoma, Lawler, New Hampton, Jackson Junction, St. Lucas, Eden, Hawkeye, Randalia, Maynard, Fredericksburg, Calmar, Ft. Atkinson, and Festina. It is incorporated as the Alpha Telephone Company, headquarters at Alpha, where the central office is located, with Mrs. A. A. Finch tending the switchboard, to the entire satisfaction of the public.

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