History Marengo 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



Robert McKee is claimed to have been the first settler in the township. he. came to the place which later became the site of the City of Marengo in 1845, coming from the State of Ohio.

The first dwelling in the township was a crude shanty. It Was built of logs by some Mormon itinerants on the Iowa River. During his life here McKee held several public positions, which are detailed in the summary of county officers. The first postoffice was kept by him at his house; his appointment to this position was dated April 11, 1846.

H. H. Hull came to the township from Ohio and took a claim about a mile south of the town. The farm improved by Mr. Hull is now known as the H. M. Havener Farm. He came about the same time as McKee and very soon after his arrival was engaged in selling merchandise, at the same time carrying on farming in a small way. He lived here many years, practically the balance of his life, except a few times when he was visiting with his daughter in Minnesota. At the Hull place was held the first Fourth of July celebration ever held in the county; this was in 1847. Nearly everyone in the county came to this feast and festival. Among them were: Lewis Lanning, Doctor Crawford, the Kitchens, Robert Hutchinson, William Taylor, Robert McKee, John Wycoff, Stephen Hanson, John Hanson, William Hench, R. B. Groff and others. Not the least part of the entertainment that day was the whiskey consumed, the drinking of which was not held in such bad repute in those days as now. Nor is it to be understood that all present indulged in liquor, for there were a number of well-known teetotalers in the crowd.

Porter and Orley Hull came to the township about the same time as Horace Hull. Orley remained at Homestead for a time. He left Marengo at an early date and located at Walla Walla, Ore., where he became wealthy and there died. Amos Crocker came from Ohio in 1847 and settled on the bluff south of Marengo. He died in 1856. Joseph Hollowell located about three miles west of Marengo in 1846-47, coming from the Hoosier State. He stayed there, raised a family, and both he and his wife died on the farm they had entered from the Government. R. B. Groff, whose writings are interspersed throughout this volume, was a settler here in 1847, building his home near Bear Creek. This is the site of the farm owned by the Densons, who live south of Homestead. He afterwards moved his residence to Marengo. He was a regularly admitted member of the bar and once practiced in this county. Washington Kitchens had a home on Bear Creek as early as 1846. William Kirkpatrick was another first corner. He came from Ohio, and after reaching this county followed his trade as carpenter, building the first hotel in Marengo, which was known as the old Iowa Hotel, located at the northeast corner of the public square, where the feed yard is now located. Lewis F. Wilson came from Powesheik County to Honey Creek Township and then to Marengo Township in 1847. Later Mr. Wilson moved to a farm near Indianola, in Warren County, Iowa, and then back to Iowa County, spending his last years in Marengo. Thomas J. Talbott came from Indiana with his parents and other members of the family about the year 1848, and the family settled on a farm just southeast of Marengo. Clark Morrison came from Indiana in 1849 and located west of Bear Creek, where Frank Miller now lives. He afterward bought and improved the farm now owned by Joseph Buzel, west of Marengo, and later moved to Nebraska, where he and his wife died. Joseph Ratcliffe, an Indiana man, lived for a time at the old trading post and then settled in Marengo and kept a tavern known as the Roebuck House. He died in the '60s. William Taylor, who had lived for a few years in Honey Creek Township, came here in 1849 and was employed by pros pective settlers in locating their land. He charged $1 a day for his services. After living here for about two years he moved to Tama County. William Hill, a blacksmith, came in the year 1848 and engaged at his trade for about two years, then also went to Tama County to live. Israel Dill came from Ohio in 1849 and located just on the ridge a few rods northeast of the new canning factory. Besides his wife there were five sons and two daughters. With his sons, Israel Dillin undertook one of the really big enterprises of the times when he began to dig a race from Bear Creek to Iowa River through the town of Marengo. They also built the first grist mill. Dillin went to the State of California afterwards, and in 185 died at Sacramento. C. C. Slocum married a Miss McConnell, a sister of John and James McConnell, then prominent in Iowa County affairs. He was a man of culture and ability, but not robust; he opened a store in the old loghouse just east of the Catholic Church and died in 1858. Dr. W. Wallace came from Ohio and commenced the practice of medicine in 185o. He afterward died in Council Bluffs. Calvin and John Salisbury came from Ohio. Calvin was a carpenter and died in California. John remained a farmer during his entire life. R. F. Mason, W. H. Wallace, Dr. E. C. Hendershott, Stephen Chase, Charles Kitchens, John Ervin, David Troup, I. S. Frost, I. N. Kitchens, D. Sprague, M. S. Cleveland, James Gilbert were some other early settlers in what was then Marengo Township. Alexander Danskin and his four brothers, William, John, Gilmore and Ebenezer, Scotchmen, came to the county in May, 1853. Alexander and Gilmore were well known as stock breeders. Alexander was very patriotic, and in 1861 volunteered in the Thirty seventh Iowa Infantry, the celebrated gray beard regiment. He died in Marengo at the age of ninety four years. H. Denslow came to Marengo in 1855 and until 1865 worked as a mason; then began farming. He was from Connecticut. He afterward sold his farm to James A. Hunter and moved to California and there died. James A. Hunter was a native of Tennessee, came to this county in the fall of 1845, locating near Homestead first; thence to a farm near Marengo. He followed farming and stock breeding until he died.

The same methods are used in Marengo Township today in farming as in other township of the county, and in fact the history, outside of incidents and events, does not greatly differ. The men who came to the township in the early days were not the men, of course, who went to other townships, but their lives, their experiences and the hardships they had to overcome were identical. The men of Marengo and nearby townships had the advantage, perhaps, in market facilities, but with the coming of the railroad these differences were evened. In the year 1850 there were only 286 people in the township; in 1880 there were 2,485, including the city, 747 outside of Marengo; and in 1915 the total population of the township is 2,771 - the town with 2,200 and the township outside with 571.

John M. Kortz came with his parents and others of his family to Iowa County from Tennessee in April, 1852, and here followed farming until about 1890, when he moved to a farm near Julesburg, Colorado, where he died. Thomas Leader, a native of England, came to the county in November, 1855. A complete sketch of Mr. Leader and photo plate may be found in Volume II of this work. He became one of the largest land owners in the county, having at one time over one thousand acres. W. R. Liddle came to the county in the fall of 1854, and learned the blacksmith's trade. He came with his father, James A. Liddle, who, with his wife, seven sons and five daughters, also became citizens of Marengo. Four other sons learned the blacksmith's trade with their father. W. R. Liddle and his son, John, were murdered by Texas ruffians during the great rush for land at the Oklahoma opening L. O. Marble, a settler in the year 1856, was known as a horseman, specializing in thoroughbreds. He moved to Dorchester, Neb., and died there. In the late months of the year 1850 S. J. Murphy came here and was prominent in the county for many years. He was a volunteer in the Thirty seventh Iowa during the Civil war and at one time served as postmaster of Marengo. T. W. Owen, a son of Lemuel Owen, a highly respected pioneer, was brought to the county by his parents in 1852, when he was a lad of eleven years of age, and here attended school. He served during the rebellion in Company G, Eighth Iowa Infantry, and later engaged in fanning and business at Marengo. He and his wife are now living a retired life in their home at Marengo.

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