History Sumner 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


Among the earliest settlers in Sumner Township were: N. Rosenberger, M. B. Rosenberger, Henry A. Moore, Peter D. Smith, Daniel Broachey, J. H. Whittling, Jacob Watson, William Downard, W. D. Nusbaum, M. Shaul, J. M. Ceis, Charles D. Hostetter, A. K. Hostetter, Josiah Clinker, Henry Keck and John Mouser. Most of these settlers came here from the State of Ohio.

The first doctor to locate in the township was Dr. J. Bricker, at Genoa Bluffs. The first forty acres purchased of the United States Government in this township was by Stephen Chase on June 1, 1846, the land being in the northeast quarter of the southeast fractional quarter of section i8, township 8o, range 17. The second forty was entered by Joseph M. Kitchens on November 8, 1848; the third piece of land was bought by William Stone on May 23, 1849; the fourth by Nicholas Mouser on October 22, 1849; the fifth by Absalom P. Kitchens on November 6, 1849, and the sixth by John E. Stoner on May 10, 1850.

John Aiken settled in the township in 1853 on section 17. Gilmore Danskin settled here in 1852, and engaged in farming and stock raising. A. K. Hostetter settled here in 1856, accompanying his parents. John Mouser came in the spring of 1854. Other representative families of this township in the early days are treated in the second volume of this work.


Sumner Township was organized October 12, 1858, the order for this having been given September 22d of the same year. The first township officers were: Nicholas Rosenberger, Peter D. Smith and A. F. Randolph, trustees; William D. Nusbaum, assessor; Michael Shaul, clerk. The first official meeting of the board of trustees was held at Genoa Bluffs on November 3, 1858.


This little village, now practically extinct, was laid out by Jacob S. Watson on July to, 1855, on the southeast quarter of section 32, township 80, range II. An addition by Peter Ike was made January 5, 1858. At one time Genoa Bluffs contained two stores, a grocery, gristmill, blacksmith shop, hotel, postoffice, schoolhouse, saloon and twenty residences. In 1857 there was considerable excitement caused by the fact that an effort was made to remove the county seat here.

A writer of the time, speaking of this village, said: "We passed through this town not long since for the first time, and found it a pleasant little village, situated on a high, rolling prairie. It contains about one hundred inhabitants, has one store, two hotels, one kept by our friend Hostetter, and a steam gristmill, downed by Messrs. Whittling and Artor. Near the town are several fine farms; those of J. A. Rosenberger, N. Rosenberger, J. Swaney, G. Bablett, J. E. Stoner, H. Morse and others appeared to be under a good state of cultivation and will rank among the best farms in the county. The only disadvantage we saw about the bluffs was the want of timber and a running stream of water. The former may easily be remedied in a few years by preventing the prairies from being burned and planting locust or other fast growing trees."


The old cemetery located at Genoa Bluffs, in section 32, consisted of about three acres. The ground was laid out by Henry Morse. The Ohio Cemetery, just west of the Methodist Protestant Church, was located in Hartford Township, but has been used extensively by Sumner Township people. There is also another small burying ground in the northeast quarter of section 18 on the state road, this being the cemetery generally used by Ladora people and the surrounding country immediately southeast of Ladora.


It is probable that there was no regular route for this method of transporting slaves from the South in the early days, but it is equally probable that they were taken through this county at various times. The following quoted article is interesting in this light:

"At 2:30 o'clock on a Sabbath morning in July, twenty years ago (1860), I was awakened by the rapping of an agent of the Underground Railroad, who lived a few miles west of this place. He said he had four passengers who wished to remain with me during the day and proceed on their journey from Missouri to Canada during the night. The party consisted of two adult females and two children. The children belonged to one of the women and were large enough to journey with dispatch. Two of the party were quite white. Arrangements were made for their transportation to Springdale, a Quaker settlement northeast of Iowa City. A. K. Hostetter took my team on the following night and carried them to the Lincoln place, seven miles northeast of here, in Hilton Township. It being a very dark night, by preconcerted arrangement, a straw stack of Mr. Lincoln's was set on fire, as a guiding star. From the Lincoln place W. A. Gale conducted them to Springdale safe and sound, and I presume that in due time they arrived at their journey's end."


Sumner Township suffered considerably from the vicious organization known as the barn burners in the early days. The motive for the wholesale burning of barns and grain stacks was a desire to drive the settlers out and claim the lands, also to take revenge for any fancied wrong incurred by one of the gang. A. P. Kitchens was an early settler at what was known as Kitchens Mill on Bear Creek. He was secretary of the Squatters' Claim Club, or Barn Burners. He was the last of them and went to Missouri, where as captain of a company of bushwhackers, he was shot while standing in the doorway of his hut. Kitchens' mill was the first in the township and probably the first in the county. William Downard kept the first postoffice at his house on the state road.

While there were some early settlements made in Sumner Township, yet the greater part of the township was not settled up as a farming proposition until after the close of the war of the rebellion in 1865. About this time, however, it began to be settled rapidly, and within two or three years the change from green prairie sod to cultivated land was almost like magic. Spring wheat was about the first crop planted, and the yield was so good and the price so high and the price of land so reasonable that men often paid for their land out of the first crop of wheat.

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