History Corwith, Hancock County, IA
From: History of Winnebago County and Hancock County, Iowa
A Record of Settlement, Organization,
Progress and Achievement.
The Pioneer Publishing Company
Chicago 1917



The city of Corwith was started by the construction of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad in the year 1880 and is located on the northeast quarter of Section 6, Township 94 North, Range 26 West. J. H. Ambrose surveyed the land and laid out the town in blocks, lots and streets. The site of Corwith was owned by E. W. Gaylord, who held his residence in Angus, Iowa, where he was engaged in the coal and stock business.


The first building erected in Corwith was Gaylord's Hotel, a large two story frame building. Mr. Gaylord, the town proprietor, constructed the hotel and for two years it was conducted by L. Moon. Gaylord was at that time the superintendent of the railroad and the house was originally erected for the accommodation of the railroad men. The depot of the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad was the second building erected in Corwith; it was completed very shortly after Gaylord's Hotel.

In the same year, 1880, the first building for the housing of a mercantile business was put up. The firm of Able & Tierney here ran a saloon for the "liquidification" of the railroad men. This groggery, however, lasted but a bare two months, then the building was sold to O. H. Stilson & Company, who put in a stock of general merchandise. It was sold after a year to Louis Lentengre and was occupied by Frank Heskett's drug store.

In September, 1880, T. P. Griffin erected a store building and dwelling house. In this structure he opened a stock of hardware and general merchandise. For about eighteen months he carried on this business, then sold out to Farner Shaw, who converted the building into a hotel, known as the Shaw House. Mr. Shaw erected a livery and feed stable in the fall of 1883, which he operated in connection with the hotel.

The first residence of any consequence in Corwith was built during the winter of 1880 by B. R. Gass. About the same time dwellings were erected by Hans Ballson, a section boss, George Gurne and J. M. Wood.

The first blacksmith shop was opened in the early winter of 1880 by J. M. Wood. Battle & Lallier started in the same work here in 1882, coming here from New York.

The first general merchandise store in Corwith was opened by O. H. Stilson & Company in September, 1880. This firm carried a large stock of general dry goods, shoes and boots, clothing, groceries, etc. The stock was worth about $10,000. In the spring of 1882 another general merchandise business was started by Blair & Owen of Rock Falls. However, in the spring of 1883, they disposed of their stock to William Landiman of Hillsboro, Kansas, who conducted it about two months, then sold out to Thomas Cook & Company.

The hardware business of J. H. Taylor dates from the winter of 1880-1, when it was established by Edward Smith, who erected the building and opened the business. In February, 1882, he sold out to Taylor and removed to Perry, Iowa.

Frank P. Heskett founded a drug business in Corwith in January, 1882. M. O. Tang opened a shoemaking establishment in the spring of 1883.

The Corwith Creamery, one of the most thriving businesses of the early village, was started in the spring of 1882 by Simonet & Kleinpeter. The creamery gathered milk from several counties and during the busy season frequently reached a manufacturing capacity of 1000 pounds of butter daily.

A feed mill was started in Corwith in the summer of 1883 by F. H. Latham. He erected the building, installed the machinery and began active operation on the 1st of September of that year. He ground corn meal, graham flour and buckwheat flour as well as feed. A hay press was started in the autumn of 1883 by L. Tuttle.

The lumber yard of Corwith was established by William Brummond in June, 1880. Brummond was a native of Prussia, was brought to this country when ten years of age, and came to Hancock County in 1879.

A large coal yard was started in the fall of 1880 by Ernest Brummond. Most of the coal handled here during the early days was from Kalo and Otho in Webster County, Iowa. It sold for $3.25 and $4.00 per ton.

The postoffice was established at Corwith in the fall of 1880. T. P. Griffin was appointed as the first postmaster. O. H. Stilson was the second one to hold the office.


Probably the first banking business conducted in the village of Corwith was by J. H. Taylor, who transacted the necessary exchange business.

There have been several banks doing business in Corwith, which are not now active among financial circles in the county. On July 26, 1895, there was incorporated the Corwith State Bank, with a stated capital of $25,000. Thomas A. Way was the president of this institution; T. A. Potter, vice president; and H. E. Paul, cashier. The other signers of the articles of incorporation were: Stitzel Way, R. P. Johnson, E. P. Healy, B. C. Way, W. H. Gowdy, S. V. L. Meiggs, W. L. Mitchell, I. Smith and A. W. Schmalle. This bank filed dissolution proceedings July 24, 1901, for reorganization as the First National Bank.

The Corwith Savings Bank filed articles of incorporation December 7, 1892, which were signed by E. P. Healy, B. C. Way, F. B. Rogers, Thomas A. Way, Truman A. Potter and Wesley Aldridge. The capital stock was named at $25,000.

The First State Bank of Corwith was incorporated and the articles filed with the county auditor October 8, 1895. The signers were: E. L. Stilson, O. H. Stilson, C. M. Gowdy, L. J. Barber, M. B. Sapp, G. W. Mason, Cephas Buttles, F. J. Oxley and J. A. Standring. The capital stock was $60,000. This bank merged with itself the banking firm conducted by E. L. and O. H. Stilson which was known as the Bank of Corwith.

There are just two banks now active in the town of Corwith - the Commercial Savings Bank and the Farmers Savings Bank. The Farmers Savings Bank was organized in 1908 and incorporation articles were filed on March 14th of that year. E. H. Rich was president; W. C. Oelke, vice president; and Charles J. Naumann, cashier. The present officers are the same with the exception of the vice president, which office is now filled by Ben Major. The first capital stock of this bank was $25,000, which has been increased to $40,000 at the present. This bank has a surplus and undivided profits of $15,000 and deposits of about $200,000.

The Commercial Savings Bank was incorporated legally on April 18, 1913, with a capital stock of $10,000 and the following officers: Fred Oxley, president; H. E. Newlin, vice president; W. H. Smith, cashier. W. E. Gourley and F. M. Depue also signed the articles of incorporation. The present cashier of this institution is W. C. Oelke. The capital stock is the same and the deposits amount to about $35,000.

For school, church and census statistics relative to the town of Corwith, information may be obtained from other chapters in this volume.


One of the most progressive small towns in this part of Iowa is Kanawha (pronounced Ka-now'-wha). Kanawha was platted and surveyed in the year 1899. The official plat was filed at the office of the county auditor on May 3rd. George C. Call was the owner of the land upon which this new town was started and C. B. Hutchins was the surveyor. The land is described in the plat as being part of the west half of the northwest quarter of Section 27 and part of the east half of the northeast quarter of Section 28, all in Township 94 North, Range 25 West. The date of surveying is placed as April 17th of the year of platting.

From an early newspaper account of Kanawha the following facts are taken: The first business concerns of Kanawha were C. S. Farman & Sons, general store and hardware, which concern sold its first goods May 3, 1899; H. L. Jenkins, lumber; J. M. Johnson & Company, wagons and buggies; G. M. Bradbury, livery; N. M. Lindahl, blacksmith; Hamilton & Griggs, farm machinery and wagons; Hollar of Humboldt, livery; E. S. Benedict & Son, general store; Max Sigel, clothing; A. A. Moore, lumber; Al Cleaves, hotel; Richardson & Kaufman of Belmond, grains; Felthouse Brothers, elevator; West Lake Creamery Company's skimming station; Ole Mason, furniture; J. S. Gorton from Mikesville had a general stock of goods; T. C. Perisho, postmaster; Yeoman lodge with thirty members; George Call and Marsh Stevens, real estate. The first name given to the town was Luzon, but the postoffice department objected to this, owing to its similarity to Luverne, etc. It was then: changed to Kanawha. The Britt Tribune facetiously remarked that there were "at present three patches of gum weeds, a bunch of lath, a last year's prairie chicken's nest, and 3000 prospects on the site, with lumber 'acoming'."

In 1902 the town of Kanawha incorporated, filing a petition for the same on September 24th. This petition was signed by the following citizens: G. M. Dempsey, F. M. Hanson, O. W. Phelps, P. L. Brown, J. S. Gorton, John L. Brown, Henry Africa, J. A. Hamilton, G. W. Mason, S. H. Dixon, B. C. Ellsworth, F. H. Shackleford, G. M. Patrick, E. Frank Newell, Robert Lucas, G. P. and P. W. Hollingsworth S. S. Nelson, C. H. Turner, F. A. Newman, S. Salveson, R. T. Bray, T. C. Perisho, John W. Jenson, William H. Baker; J. S. Magor, E. L. Morphew, M. R. Dixon, H. H. Wallis, James Pierce, J. D. Welch, H. E. Hanson, C. W. Hanson, G. M. Churchouse, J. A. Green, John Huyck, Jr., J. T. Coulter, E. L. Madden, J. D. Gift, and T. L. Auld.

An election was held March 17, 1902, upon the proposition to incorporate the town, after all necessary legal proceedings had been accomplished, and the majority of votes were polled in favor of incorporating.

The First National Bank of Kanawha was organized and incorporated in 1900. The present officers of this institution are: J. E. Wichman, president; C. C. Lucas, vice president; F. L. Bush, cashier; F. N. Knudsen, assistant cashier. The capital stock is $25,000; the surplus and undivided profits about $20,000; and the deposits amount to about $250,000.

The Farmers State Bank of Kanawha was incorporated March 11, 1908, with a capital stock of $25,000. The first officers were: G. W. Mason, president; J. Vitermarkt, vice president; A. L. Severin, cashier. A. J. Cole, W. D. Schroeder, J. U. Johnson, John Berg and Emory Sanford also signed the articles of incorporation. The present officers of the bank are: Neil Hanson, president; W. D. Schroeder, vice president; A. L. Severin, cashier; and George T. Anderson, assistant cashier. The capital stock remains the same as at the start; the surplus and undivided profits amount to about $15,000; and the deposits average $175,000.

Kanawha is well supplied with public utilities, having a satisfactory waterworks and electric light system. The manufacturing features of the town comprise two creameries - the Kanawha Cooperative Creamery and the Kanawha Mutual Creamery. A large amount of butter and kindred products are manufactured here each year and shipped to eastern markets. The town has a population of about 400 people, according to the United States census of 1910.

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