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

PILOT TOWNSHIP

SETTLEMENT

The first settler in Pilot Township was Reuben Miller. He came from Illinois in the year 1845 and settled on section 8, English Township. He was a native of Kentucky. On June 28, 1852, he laid off the Town of Millersburg, and in 1854 he built a water mill on North English River, put in burrs and ground corn. The mill was just over the line in English Township, but he had built a house and lived in what is now Pilot. He subsequently moved to the western part of the state.

Jacob Wertz came from Ohio and settled on section 23 in the year 1854. He lived there about a year, then sold out and went away. Christian Myers came from Virginia in 1854 and settled on section 34. He built a small but on the bank of Devil's Run at first, then a log house one half mile from the Run, and later one of the finest frame houses in the township, at the time which is still standing and occupied by his son Rev. John Myers.

George and William Lortz came from Richland County, Ohio, two years previous having come from Germany. On October 1, 1855, they settled in this township on section 27. At first they got some slabs from Miller's sawmill and laid them on poles, covering them with sod and hay, and lived there several days, when the but caught fire and was completely destroyed. The next spring they built a house of frame and boards. W. G. Springer came from Macon County, Ill., on October 6, 1855, and settled on the northeast quarter of section 31. He was a prominent Christian minister here, but later moved to Baxter Springs, Kas. Lorenzo Stahl came from Huron County, Ohio, in the spring of 1856 and settled on section 28.

ORGANIZATION

In May, 1862, the voters of congressional township 79, range II, petitioned the board of supervisors to be organized into a civil township, whereupon A. J. Morrison, clerk of the board, issued a warrant to the voters of said territory to organize according to law and to ballot for the several townships, county and state officers on Tuesday, October 14, 1862. The warrant was dated August 4th. The election was held at the house of Christian Myers; J. B. Rowe, C. Myers and S. Carson were appointed judges; G. C. Hamlin and Orin Bryant, clerks. There were thirty two votes cast. The following were elected: trustees, J. B. Rowe, O. Bryant and S. Carson; justices, George Colton and Samuels Carson; constables, B. L. Bean and W. Jackson; assessor, Jacob Shultz. George Lortz and W. E. Morse each received the same number of votes for the office of clerk and on December 19, 1862, they met at the clerk's house and drew cuts for the position, Lortz being successful. On January 10, 1863, however, he resigned the position and G. C. Hamlin was appointed by the trustees. He resigned in August of the same year and Snowden Myers was appointed. The township was named by Snowden Myers.

The first marriage was that of Daniel Page to Beda Elizabeth Miller. The first male child was born August 8, 1856; this was Michael Elwood, the son of Patrick and Margaret Elwood. The first girl was Lena Stahl, daughter of Lorenzo and Rose Stahl, born September 7, 1856. The first death was that of the wife of John Hilficker. She died in the spring of 1856 and was buried in Millersburg.

West Pilot postoffice was established in 1872 when Snowden Myers was appointed postmaster, but refused to serve and J. C. Springer took the place. This was in section 15, near the center of the township, at the store of the post master. This postoffice has been abolished many years. Springer commenced doing merchandise business here in 1874; there was also a blacksmith shop run by Paul Septer. Henry Moffit had a blacksmith shop on section 36. A burying ground, used for about fifteen years, was located on section 24, including about three acres and a hundred graves. A son of Francis McAllister was the first to be interred there.

The township was considered outlaying at an early date, and was not rapidly settled until after 1865. Pilot now contains some of the finest farms in the county. There is a large Germanized population in Pilot. These people are usually thrifty, hospitable and well informed. There are no wild or uncultivated lands in the township at this time.

THE STORY OF PILOT TOWNSHIP

The following facts are gathered from the knowledge of Rev. John Myers.

Pilot Grove in Pilot Township originally had about two hundred acres of small timber, mostly hickory; there was one lone oak on section 28. There was bits of timber along English River and small, scrubby timber along parts of Devil's Run. In the sloughs tall, slough grass frequently grew to a height of ten feet and on the hills shorter grass, such as blue stem, hazel brush, grew abundantly. Of the birds here then, there were the crow, hawk, whippoorwill, lark, geese, ducks, wild doves, blackbird, quail, pheasant, wren, killdeers, owls, cranes, thrush, canary, jays and occasionally an eagle. The animals were: wolves, foxes, minks, possums, muskrats, weasels, squirrels, groundhog, civits, skunks, a few wild cats and deer. There were all varieties of snakes and insects also.

Some of the first settlers in the township were Mr. Wertz, Mr. Sherwood, of Ohio, and Christian Myers, of Virginia. The latter, with his wife and children, three of them, also Lucy Nighten, a young lady, came here and settled. Lucy Nighten was born in Virginia in 1829 and married Gilbert Barnes after she got here, on June 8, 1857, the ceremony taking place in the Myers log cabin. They settled on a farm in the fall of 1857 where she, a widow now, still lives. She said, "Of course I was the first one to be married in Pilot Township; there was nobody else on the market at that time." The minister was Reverend Rains.

The Hanstens from Michigan, Godlys Faas from Ohio, Thomas Elwood from Massachusetts, Frank McCollister, Laurence Stahls from Ohio, William Lortz and wife from Germany in the fall of 1855, were other settlers. Lortz located 1 1/2 miles north of the Myers home. These people settled near the timber, in order to have fuel facilities. Fires frequently destroyed their stacks and the ague bothered them, also countless other ills and pains incident to the hardships of pioneer life. There were many wolf hunts then, some of them very exciting. Fish were plentiful in the streams; pike, four feet in length, were often caught.

The home built by Christian Myers in 1858 is still in use and is one of the best examples of pioneer architecture in the state. Myers bought the land with the small house on it which had been constructed by Sherwood. Myers constructed his home on this site. The house is built of native framework with poplar siding which is still on. Most of the interior woodwork is of black walnut. There are eight fireplaces in the house, eight rooms, high Virginia ceilings.

The birth of Sena Stahl in the fall of 1856 was probably the first one in the township. The death of Jacob Lortz September 13, 1859, the first in the township. He was buried in the Millersburg Cemetery.

The first cemetery was founded by William Peterson's children, now the Pilot Grove Cemetery, about one mile south of the Pilot Grove Church.

The first schoolhouse was built just west of Devil's Run, near the mouth of that stream. Mrs. Vandyke was the teacher. There were seven scholars. It was afterward moved one quarter mile west of Christian Myers. After the house was moved a Miss Young was the teacher. She was a great dancer, therefore sleepy during the school hours. The pupils were always careful not to awaken her after she went to sleep.

The first store was just south of the center of the township, conducted by John Springer, commencing about war time and continuing for about ten or twelve years. It was afterwards run by Paul Syster for about the same length of time.

Probably the first meetings held in the township were in the old schoolhouse and John Fillmore was the first preacher. This was in the '50s.

THE BRETHREN CHURCH

The Brethren Church, at first called the Congregational, was organized on November 8, 1880. Rev. John A. Myers, the leading figure in the movement, having become dissatisfied with some of the principles of the German Baptists, which had been the church of the Myers family, decided that a reformation was the only right course to pursue. A few other individuals in the United States had already taken the reform step. Accordingly, Myers called to his assistance J. H. Swihart, of Auburn, Ind. A few weeks of protracted meeting resulted in the organization at Pleasant Grove of a Brethren Church. It was the only church of the kind in the State of Iowa at that time. Quite a number have been organized since. Myers succeeded in drawing all of his former brothers and sisters into the new church with the exception of one family. There were sixteen charter members. Myers has faithfully served this church ever since, no other pastor ever having taken charge of the pulpit. He has drawn no salary in the thirty five years of service. The following are the charter members: Christian Myers, Katherine Myers, John A. Myers, Henry Sanger, Elizabeth Sanger, Amanda Krickenbarger, Andrew Moler, Martha Moler, Alfred Ogle, Mrs. Alfred Ogle, William Palmer, Anna V Myers, John Bell and Margaret Bell. There are sixty five members at present. Services were first held in the schoolhouse, and then the first church was constructed, costing $1,600; the last church building cost $3,000.

Prior to the organization of this church the Christian and Methodist Episcopal denominations had church services in the township. The Methodists have a church in the township at present; and it is a prosperous society.


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