History Troy 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

TROY TOWNSHIP

EARLY SETTLEMENT

Evan D. Evans, Richard Pugh and William Evans were the first white settlers in Troy Township. They all came from the same state and settled at the same time. They located on section 15 in the autumn of 1844. These three men were of Welsh descent, coming from Wales to America in 1840 Evan and William were brothers, and Richard Pugh afterward became their brother in law. These three men were all married near Cincinnati, and very soon afterward started westward to Iowa Territory. They came by boat from Cincinnati to Burlington; then hired an ox team to bring them on to the place where they settled. They soon had thrown up a crude cabin just south of the road at the center, near the east line of section 15, township 79, range 10, and in this primitive house the three families lived during the winter of 1844-45. This was the first house in Troy Township. The next spring Richard Pugh constructed a house of heavy logs just east of the center of section 15, which was the second house in the township. Then William Evans built a loghouse near Old Man's Creek, a little west of the other two. All three of these men are long since dead, after lives of much usefulness. All had large families, the most of whom are now living in the township settled by their fathers. Jane Evans, the daughter of Evan D. Evans, was the first white child born in the township. She was born in 1845 and died in 1848. David E. Evans, born December 31, 1847, was the first white boy born in Troy. Evan D. Evans was naturalized on May 24, 1847.

Thomas and Stephen Hanson were the next settlers in the township. They located on section 23 in the spring of 1845. Thomas Hanson was born in Ireland in 1809. Hugh Hanson, son of Thomas, is said to have been born July 2, 1846, thus being the first boy born in the township, instead of Evans' son. Joseph Hanson came to the township in 1849; John Hanson came in the fall of 1846; Edward Hanson in the spring of 1846; John Watkins, Richard Williams and others coming in the few years afterward.

ORGANIZATION

An order from court, dated February 26, 1856, described township 79, range to, and named it Troy, and further ordered that the election be held in the schoolhouse near the house of William Evans on the first Monday of April, 1856. At this first election the following officers were elected: Henry Cook, William Evans, Thomas Hanson, trustees; William Rowland, clerk; O. M. Kilbourne, assessor. The first meeting of the board of trustees was at the house of William Evans.

THE PRAIRIE FIRE

The following quoted account of the prairie fire is credited by the early settlers of the county as being the truth. It is said that many persons have seen the scars made by the flames upon Evan D. Evans and his wife, Jane, while they were living.

"Mrs. Evans having occasion to go to the house of her nearest neighbor, then eight miles away, had it understood by her husband that he should, on the next day, meet her at a certain place on her return trip. The neighbor, to whose house she went for butter and some other articles, was the family of Edward Ricord, then living near the Johnson County line, in Greene Township. The distance was too great to return the same day, so having made the visit and obtained the articles, among which was a cat given her by Mrs. Ricord, on the second day met her husband near the present Greene Township line. They were cheerfully returning together, carrying the butter, cat and other articles, when in the distance they beheld a prairie fire. The smoke rolled up in clouds, and as the brisk wind swept across the ridges, they could see the red tongued fire leaping across the tops of the tall wild grass. They thought that there was nothing serious for them to experience in the near future and nothing to fear. Neither of them had seen a prairie fire, for it was the next fall after their arrival here. They did not understand the terrible fury with which fire sweeps across the prairie when the tall grass is dry and the fire agitated by a fierce wind. They observed that the fire came nearer and they hastened their footsteps, as if by premonition of the fate which awaited them. The fire gained upon them, leaping across slough and footpath with equal facility. Mr. Evans lighted a fire to burn a little spot in which they might take refuge, for before he had left Cincinnati, or even England, he had heard of this mode of procedure when in danger from fire on the plains. This afforded them no relief, for before their set fire had sufficiently cooled down the awful wave. of fire came upon them. They ran to the first tree, which fortunately had boughs near the ground, and Mr. Evans, after aiding his wife to climb, passed up the articles they were taking home, including the cat. Scarcely had he time to grasp the first limb to ascend the tree when the fire struck them. It blazed many feet high in the air, and for a few moments they were enveloped in flames. They were suffocated and crazed by the blistering heat, but still clung to the tree. In, a fe moments the fire had passed and left the choking smoke, which was driven before the wind. They descended the tree and made haste to reach their but and obtain relief, for cold night was coming on and they were fearfully burned. Finally, with great difficulty, they reached their cabin and received such attention as could be given them by William Evans and family. Evan D. Evans wore severe scars on both sides of his face and carried a deformed hand to his death, which were only slight marks compared with the intense suffering he experienced in that fire. Mrs. Evans was badly burned and showed the scars all of her life. The woolen clothing which they wore somewhat protected their flesh, except hands and face, and was the means of saving their lives. It may be remarked that the butter was melted and the cat, never after heard of, doubtless became a 'singed cat.'"

OTHER PROMINENT SETTLERS

J. Brigham was a prominent farmer who came to the township in 1855, coming from Ohio. George Fletcher came to the township in 1858, and was a justice of the peace and merchant; his son Charles is now city clerk of Williamsburg. The Gale family came to Iowa in 1855. W. W. Hasting, carpenter and wagonmaker, came to the county in 1854. In 1856 John Hughes, Sr., came to the county, then went back to Ohio and returned the following year with his family. He was postmaster at Williamsburg for seventeen years, was county supervisor, justice of the peace, and also held other county and township positions.


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