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


North English is at present (1915) a city of 933 inhabitants. It is located twenty two miles south of Marengo, the county seat, and is situated on the top of a hill overlooking some of the best farming country in the Middle West. The unsurpassed agricultural wealth, the rich deposits of clay suitable for making brick and tile, and the thriving commercial life of the town itself, are elements which have decided the prosperity and remarkable growth of this town. The educational and social life of the community has been cultivated to a high degree, giving a base for permanency not surpassed by any of her sister towns. The avenues of approach to the city are of the best and there are innumerable stretches of well constructed country roads leading from the city in every direction. The soil of the surrounding country is deep, rich and varied and on it can be raised grains and cereals of all kinds and almost every variety of large and small fruits. With good cause North English might be called a city of homes. There are quite a few residence streets which are models for any city of the size in the state. Seventy years ago this ground was a wild forest and dreary plain, untracked save by savage footsteps. From this the town began and grew slowly and without boom or sudden influx of large numbers of people, until the present stage was reached. During war times, the spirit of patriotism was strong; and these patriotic people of the old Town of North English experienced one engagement resulting in many shots and the death of one man. This was the only demonstration in the nature of a real battle that occurred on Iowa County soil during the war of 1861.

North English was at first called Nevada, and by a few people was dubbed Soaptown, the reason for which is explained elsewhere. The town was laid out by Thomas G. Wafters and Jacob Yeager on June 8, 1855, on the southwest quarter of section 36, township 78, range 10. The postoffice was established about the same time. At the time of its location the town was located on a site now known as the old town. In 1884, when the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad came through, the town was moved down to the railroad. Anticipating, however, the demand for lumber which the erection of so many buildings must incur Robert and Samuel Mayne opened a lumber yard in 1883, hauling every stick they handled from South English, through which the B. C. R. & N. Railroad had been built. The first building erected in the new town was the one later used as a hotel; the first store was owned by Curry and Evans, located in a frame building.


North English assumed city incorporation in 1892 with the following first officials: E. D. Baird, mayor; R. B. Reed, clerk; S. W. Mayne, treasurer; H. A. Fluckey, S. P. Chiles, J. W. Erwin, W. M. Thomas, C. P. Schell and J. H. Swope, councilmen. The mayors of North English since Baird have been: J. F. Baughman, I. P. Smith, T. M. Foster, H. V. Boyd, E. D. Baird, O. F. Baughman, T. P. McMillin, J. W. Erwin, Ed Stump, B. B. Brown, L. Mullin and J. W. Erwin, the present incumbent.

The municipal improvements in North English are gradually taking on form and in the next ten years the town plans to have thorough lighting, heating, water systems, paving and adequate sewerage. The spirit of the city is excellent and the funds with which to make many improvements is easy to acquire, thus the change will be inevitable.


Probably nothing is a better index of the prosperity of a town than the number of banks and their condition.

The North English Savings Bank commenced business on May 9, 1889, with the following officers: C. P. Schell, president; J. W. Erwin, vice president; E. D. Baird, cashier; and Will Downard, assistant cashier. The capital stock was $18,000 and the first board of directors consisted of S. W. Mayne, Henry Boyd, C. White, W. F. Hill, J. W. Erwin, C. P. Schell and E. D. Baird. In January, 1897, the capital stock was raised to $26,000 and in June, 191o, it was again raised to $50,000, which is the present capital stock. The present officers are: J. W. Erwin, president; C. Steng, vice president; E. D. Baird, cashier; Rae L. Dean, assistant cashier; W. S. Baird, assistant cashier; J. W. Erwin, C. Steng, B. Harrington, John Kelly, E. D. Baird, W. S. Baird, Rae L. Dean, board of directors.

The Farmers Savings Bank opened for business in September, 1897, with a capital stock of $10,000, the capital at present being the same. First officers were: John Axmear, president; W. C. Carson, vice president; George E. Swain, cashier. The officers are the same at present, with the addition of B. B. Brown as assistant cashier. The first board of directors consisted of: John Axmear, Adam Greenlee, J. W. Brown, Theodore Wayne, John Kelly, Henry Goodman and J. J. Bushman. The present board consists of: John Axmear, W. C. Carson, Andy Lockridge, R. A. Miles, Hiram Miller, J. J. Bushman and George E. Swain. The bank carries a surplus now of S47,000 and the deposits amount to about two hundred and thirty five thousand dollars.


The earliest edition of the Record was put out by a Mr. Stimson; then came Mr. Hill; then Maxwell & Talbott. This latter firm was succeeded by the firm of the Record Publishing Company, comprising L. I. Nicol, W. C. Carson, J. R. Roller, C. P. Schell and one or two other citizens. The paper was in a state of collapse when these men took charge. All preliminaries having been arranged No. 1 of Volume IV was issued on November 11, 1891. The mechanical property of the paper was very poor; the press was of the old Washington type and had at some previous date been used for the publication of a paper at Millersburg. The paper continued until 1902, when T. R. MacMillan became the editor. He was followed by Dan MacMillan, Glen Kirkpatrick, Lois O'Brien and William J. Kueneman, the present editor and owner. Findley Duffield was a prominent editor of the paper at one time.

The North English Record has had a life of ups and downs; at times the publication has been on the verge of prosperity, only to collapse for some reason or other. Mr. Kueneman took charge in recent months and has increased the subscription list and has otherwise materially improved the paper. New mechanical facilities are to be added and a definite editorial policy assumed, which will eventually mean a larger and much better newspaper for the town.


"In November, 1891, North English was a very small town. The advent of the Milwaukee a few years previous had given the place an impetus and at the same time had been the cause of internal strife and contention. As is often the case with railroads, the civil engineers had little regard for the delivery of passengers in front of the principal hostelry of towns through which the road was to pass, and so it happened that the depot of the new Milwaukee was located a half mile or more from what was then the business section of North English. This caused a longing desire on the part of some business men to get nearer the spot where the big iron horse made its daily pilgrimage. In consequence a store buildings went up on what is now the principal street of the town. Others followed, while some refused to depart from the sacred haunts of the 'old town' and thus the 'old town' and 'new town' war had its beginning. The siren whistle of the locomotive enticed everything in the way of business to the nearby spot, only two firms refusing to surrender and turn their backs upon the ground made sacred by the years that had passed into history. These were G. W. Moore & Company and W. E. Thomas. The proprietors of these two stores resolutely remained behind their counters, fully realizing that the cause of the old town had been lost, but determined to fight to the last trench. Both eventually closed out their stocks.

"After the war was over and it had been settled beyond dispute that the new town had won a complete victory, agitation for incorporation was started and soon accomplished. The first incorporators of North English were expansionists; they evidently held enlarged ideas as to the future growth of the town, as the lines were drawn to include a broad area of farm land. The farmers who owned this land were not filled with joy at the thought of paying town taxes on property used exclusively for the raising of corn and hay and they, with others, appealed to the District Court for relief; which was granted. At the time of which we speak the following firms and persons represented the business interests: Schell & Plevka and Fluckey & Brewer, hardware; Roller, Brown & Boyd, J. F. Lutton, J. W. Erwin, G. N. Moore & Company, and W. E. Thomas, dry goods and groceries (the last two were in the old town, J. P. Williams represented the company in the first named); I. I. Nichol, Ira White, druggists; J. W. Wilson, restaurant; Jesse Mason, harness shop; Nicol & Post, jewelers; Carson & Arthur, clothing; Ira Markwell, billiards and pool; Tom Erwin, boot and shoe shop; W. E. Mason, cobbler; Mrs. Hattie Wilson, racket store; L. H. Watson and J. W. Wilson, landlords, respectively, of the Watson House and the Wilson House; P. H. Fluck, railroad agent; W. H. Woodland, drayman; George Smith and Perry Whitson, stock buyers; Mayne Brothers, lumber dealers; H. A. Fluckey, Hanaford & Morrison, blacksmiths; C. D. Mahannah, furniture dealer, undertaker, photographer, Sunday school superintendent; W. H. Miller, groceries; I. I. Nichol, E. S. Ahearn and J. F. Baughman, physicians.

"The west half of Highland Street from Athearn's medical dispensary to the site of Erwin's store building was, at that time, a row of frame buildings, with Mahannah's furniture store occupying the most imposing structure. Nearly all of these buildings, as well as many on the east side, had been moved down trom the old town. L. A. Carter occupied a frame building on the west side with a stock of general merchandise which he brought from Kansas. Early one July morning in 1892 there was an alarm of fire. Dense clouds of smoke poured out of the Carter store room. Everybody got busy. Men, women and children, some with buckets, others with axes, while a large contingent carried goods from adjacent buildings. It was not long until the temperature of that locality had climbed many degrees and strenuous efforts were necessary to save the east side. The west side was doomed from the beginning and it burned like a pine box until the Ahearn block was reached, where the brick wall put a stop to the flames. The fire proved to be a good thing for the town. Substantial brick buildings replaced the old, dilapidated frame sheds. There were bad losses to individuals, but on the whole it was a blessing.


The schools in North English began in a one room building on the hill where the A. L. Roller residence is now located. This was in 1855. Charles Lutton was the first teacher. This building was in use until 1867, when a two room house was built west of the Christian Church. John Sparks and Susan Ross were the first teachers here; they were afterwards married to each other. In 1886 an addition of two rooms was made, only one of them being used for a time. After the completion of the fourth room steps were taken to grade the school. A course of study was adopted in June, 1889. This course consisted of four departments and twelve grades, a primary, intermediate, grammar and high school. Prof. Clarence McCracken of Stuart, Ia., was the principal when the grading was done. He was assisted by Mrs. J. D. Butler, Allie Thomas and Dom McCracken. In 1892 Charles Williams finished the prescribed course. The second was Fred Mahannah, afterward state inspector of normal schools.

In 1894 the grade building was erected at a cost of $10,000. It was dedicated on December 6th by William Beardshear, president of the State Agricultural College. Prof. C. E. Fleming was at the head of the schools at that time. In the summer of 1911 the people voted on the question of raising money for a new school building. By a vote of over three to one the sum of $25,000 was decided upon. In the spring of 1912 ground was broken by J: H. Hunzinger of Iowa City, the building finished in time for the opening of school in September. There are twelve rooms for school purposes in this beautiful building, besides many new features such as a gymnasium and domestic science room.


The churches of North English are uniformly strong and all have a good membership. There are four congregations at the present time: the Christian, the Methodist Episcopal, the Dunkard and the Catholic. All were organized at North English in the '705 and '8os with the exception of the Catholic, which was started ten years ago.

The lodges comprise the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Modem Woodmen.

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