History Lincoln Township, Iowa County, IA
From: History of Iowa County, Iowa And its People
By: James C. Dinwiddie
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. Chiago 1915



The following sketch of the settlement here is brief, for the reason that a complete and interesting account has been prepared by Rev. Otto Kitzmann, of the St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lincoln Township and follows after mention of the organization and entries.

Isaac Andrews, Robert Donovan, Jesse Wallen, Amos Potter, George Simpson, Amos Hahn, John Hillman, John Longstreth, Isaac McBride, J. B. Robertson. Elihu McBride, John McGuire, Boston Cross were among the first settlers in the township. J. B. Robertson was the first township supervisor and he lived in the north central portion of the township.


The first land entered in Lincoln Township was by Albert T. Cross on August 15, 1849; it was in section 36. The next was November 7, 1851, by William Wilson, and following him came James H. Gower and Martin Shaul. Most of the land in the township was entered during the years 1854-55.


The township was organized November 6, 1860, and named in honor of Abraham Lincoln.

By Rev. Otto Kitzmann

This township you will find in the western part of Iowa County, between Dayton and Hartford townships. The northern part of this township was formerly a long stretch of prairie, covered with prairie grass, and the southern part was mostly rolling timber land, covered with a variety of oak, hickory, walnut, ashy, linden, elm and wild fruit trees such as plum, cherry, crab apple, and wild shrubbery such as gooseberries, blackberries, grapes, hops and so forth. The soil is rich and black and with enough moisture to assure annual crops. A failure in crops is an unknown thing. The main cultivated farm products are: corn, oats, wheat, barley and potatoes. Timothy and clover are successfully raised for seed and for hay. Fruits which seem to do well in this locality are: apples, plums, cherries, peaches, pears and grapes. Every farmer makes it a point to have a fine orchard and garden about his home, with a fine variety of fruit trees, shrubberies and vegetables. It is a pleasure to drive through the township and see the well arranged farms, equipped with all modern improvements. These farms, with their fine buildings, speak well for the thriftiness and industry of the owners.

The early settlers were mostly Germans and Bohemians who worked hard to change the timber and prairie land into good farms. Pioneer life consisted mostly of hard labor, clearing the land of trees and brush. They knew no stump pulling machine nor other modern farm methods or implements. They went at their work with a large amount of courage and good sound muscles. Their main implements were: the axe, the grubbing hoe, the spade, and the necessary old time breaking plow. The farmers would use this plow by turns to clear the ground. This breaking of land made pioneer life interesting. They would not only discover some hidden roots and stones hindering their progress, they would also find many reptiles such as the rattlesnake, blue racer, bull snake, and the like. Some of these serpents, when discovered, would place themselves in a position to fight the aggressor and they were large enough to overpower the man if he were without means to kill the reptile.

The pioneers built their houses with their own hands, with logs hewn for this purpose. These log houses consisted mainly of from two to three rooms; a kitchen and a sleeping room. The stables and stock shelters were built of the same material, covered with long water grass to protect the animals from rain and cold. Their household furniture was mostly home made. The nearest town in those days was Iowa City. Whenever they found it necessary to go to town they would be obliged to figure on four or five days' travel with a yoke of oxen. In later years the railroad brought the market nearer to the dwellers in Lincoln Township. Victor and Guernsey are the main market places at the present time for the people in this locality.

The pioneers experienced many hardships and inconveniences, but they also found pleasure and enjoyment. On Sundays, after their family worship, they would visit one another. They would celebrate their birthday anniversaries and work out other pleasant surprise parties. At threshing time a whole neighborhood would work together. This would be arranged in such a manner that it would be the real feasting season of the year.

One of the principal reasons why the early settlers chose the land next the timber was because they would always be sure of wood for building purposes and for fuel and plenty of water for themselves and their stock. They found both and were well pleased with their selection. The English River, passing through the southwestern part of the township, supplies plenty of water for the large number of cattle grazing on the bottom lands of the river. Recently the fanners owning these bottom lands have taken to tiling this fertile land and are raising large crops of corn. This proves beyond doubt that tiling is a paying investment.

The old settlers found plenty of wild animals in the woods and on the prairie, among them being deer, wolves, lynx and a great variety of smaller fur bearing animals, such as raccoons, minks, weasels, martens and muskrats. The deer and lynx have disappeared long ago, and but very seldom is a stray wolf found now. The fur bearing animals are decreasing fast, as the trappers have been hard on them.

There are three churches in the township: The St. John's Lutheran Church, in the southern part; the German Methodist Episcopal Church, in the northwestern part; and Zion's Methodist Episcopal, in the northeastern part. There are nine public schoolhouses and one parochial school in the township. There are four cemeteries: St. John's, German Methodist Episcopal, Schmidt's, and Longstreth's.

The people of Lincoln Township cannot boast of a town or village, but they are connected with the outside world by a net of telephone wires, and the rural mail man brings their mail daily. They are enjoying conveniences which town people cannot have.

The old settlers would drive to their nearest town, which was Iowa City, about forty miles distant, with a span of oxen, and it would take them half of the week to make the trip. In the '7os they found it quite convenient to drive a team of horses sitting on a board laid across the box of a lumber wagon. In the '80s here and there one became so extravagant as to own a spring wagon. In the '90s the surreys and carriages would come into use and with the coming of the new century came the automobile. A great many motor cars are now owned in Lincoln Township.

So far as known the names of the first settlers in the township were: Michael Merck, Adam Hahn, Michael Weiss, John Longstreth and Boston Cross.

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