History Garner, Hancock County, IA
From: History of Winnebago County and Hancock County, Iowa
A Record of Settlement, Organization,
Progress and Achievement.
The Pioneer Publishing Company
THE CITY OF GARNER
In the summer of 1870 John Maben, in conjunction with the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company,
laid out a town plat on the southwest quarter of Section 30, in Township 96 North, Range 23 West, and filed the
official plat in the county courthouse on August 23d of the same year. This plat gives the information that the
land was surveyed and laid out into blocks commencing July 19, 1870, and completed July 30, 1870, by C. F. Vincent,
surveyor. F. J. Bush, H. H. Bush, S. H. Jimmerson, S. R. Kelley and Henry Marshall assisted Vincent in this task
of platting the town, laying out lots and designating streets. Shortly after the filing of the plat for record
interests in the new town were purchased by H. N. Brockway and the firm of Bush & Allen. The early settlers
gave the new town the name of Garner, in honor of one of the railroad officials.
The first merchant to open a store in Garner was Royal Lovell. He erected the first store building and, in fact,
the first structure of any kind except the depot, in 1870. As soon as he had completed the erection of his building
he opened a general merchandise business, carrying about everything which a frontier family would want. He continued
without competition for some time, finally moving to more commodious quarters when increased business demanded
it. In January, 1881, Mr. Schuler was admitted as a partner and the firm became known as Lovell & Schuler.
It is said that they carried fully $8,000 worth of goods, a truly great stock for a cross-roads store in those
days. A. B. Elliott & Company, C. Borman and Hubbard Brothers came into the field within ten years after Lovell
Garner was incorporated as a town of the fourth class in 1881 and C. S. Terwilliger was chosen mayor. Since
this time the town has gained slowly in municipal improvements, but has added features of benefit to the city as
fast as finances would permit. The Enterprise Electric Light, Heating and Power Company was incorporated February
5, 1901. The Garner Commercial Club, an organization for the promotion of everything tending to benefit the city,
was incorporated October 23, 1911, and the articles of incorporation were signed by the following citizens: F.
E. Blackstone, president; Isaac Sweigard, vice president; J. F. W. Vrba, secretary; C. R. Sweigard, treasurer;
F. M. Hanson, H. M Hoag, C. J. Schneider, C. J. Bracher and J. C. Grobatz, directors.
A RAILROAD PROMOTION
In 1898 a railroad company-was promoted by Garner citizens, partly to boost the cause of the town in the fight
for the county seat. This road was named the Cedar Rapids, Garner & Northwestern Railway Company and articles
of incorporation were filed April 25, 1898, and signed by A. C. Ripley, J. N. Sprole, H. N. Brockway, C. S. Terwilliger,
J. E. Wichman, E. P. Fox, M. A. Fell, William Shattuck, E. C. Abbey, H. H. Bush, J. J. Upton, William Schneider,
H. M. Hoag, W. C. Schuler, Fred Katler, L. D. Byers, S. Sturgeon, and others. As stated in the articles of incorporation
"the object of this road shall be to locate, construct, maintain and operate a railway, with all necessary
branches, warehouses, elevators and such other appendages as may be deemed necessary for the convenient use and
profitable management of the same from a connection with the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Falls & Northwestern Railway
near the village of Hayfield by way of Crystal Lake to some point in the state of Iowa not yet determined."
The Hancock County Bank was organized in December, 1874, by J. M. Elder and H. N. Brockway and was the first
institution of the kind in Hancock County. At the first meeting J. M. Elder was elected president; H. N. Brockway,
vice president; and William McBride, cashier. A. R. Barnes later became the cashier. The First National Bank of
Garner is the outgrowth of this institution. This latter institution is now officered by the following: F. M Hanson,
president; J. E. Wichman, vice president; J. F. W. Vrba, cashier. The capital stock of the First National Bank
is $50,000; the surplus and undivided profits $15,000; and the deposits amount to about a half million dollars.
The post office at Garner was established in 1870 and Royal Lovell was commissioned the first postmaster. He
continued to hold his position for about a year and a half, when he was succeeded by George Lanning. W. C. Haywood
and H. H. Bush succeeded Lanning.
The Gamer Ladies' Library Association was organized in 1873 by thirteen of the women of the town. These were
Mesdames: Robert Elder, Royal Lovell, H. H. Bush, William Finch, W. C. Wells, A Haes, S. A. Howe, H. C. Knappen,
C. E. Holland, N. Mitchell, Walter Dickson, A. B. Cassill, J. F. Veits, A. B. Elliott and D. Gould. The first money
procured by this association was earned by socials and entertainments promoted by the ladies named. Their initial
fund amounted to only $60, but from this meager beginning quite a large library was accumulated. In 1882 a $500
building was erected for the accommodation of the library. The first board of directors consisted of Mesdames:
R. Lovell, A. Haes and Walter Dickson. Mrs. H. H. Bush was the first secretary and Mrs. Robert Elder the first
The first lodge to be organized in Garner was the Masonic. Bethel Lodge, No. 319, Ancient Free and Accepted
Masons, was instituted by dispensation July 27, 1872, by O. P. Waters, of Burlington, Iowa, grand master of the
order. There were only eight or ten members at first and the first officers were: J. M. Elder, worshipful master;
C. C. Doolittle, senior warden; C. C. Howland, junior warden; J. W. Elder, treasurer; Albert Howe, secretary; L.
B. Bailey, senior deacon; Robert Elder, junior deacon; and John Veits, tyler.