History York 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
In 1840-41 the first settlements were made in sections 34 and 35 by Henry Starry, Michael Duffey and John Convey.
These men were natives of Ireland. Convey's son, Michael, born May 1, 1844, is said to have been the first white
child born in the county.
The first land lying in what is now York Township, bought from the Government, was the south fractional half
of the southwest quarter of section 31, township 79, range 9, by Elisha H. Ricord, entered January 27, 1846.
AS RELATED BY JOSEPH DUFFEY
Joseph Duffey, now living in York Township at an advanced age, retains vivid memories of the early days, when
his father, Michael, came to this country. He said:
York Township was officially organized on October 8, 1860, by order of Judge Wallace and the first election
was held at the East Ridge schoolhouse on November 6th of the same year. It is not certain who were the first officers,
only that T. E. House was clerk.
A SKETCH OF YORK TOWNSHIP
York Township occupies the east central portion of Iowa County; it is bounded on the east by Johnson County, on the south by Greene Township, on the west by Troy and on the north by Iowa Township. Its official description is No. 79 north range 9, west of the fifth principal meridian.
Its physical characteristics are generally level or slightly rolling in its northern half, this breaking into
a hilly section further south, and the extreme southern tier of sections is traversed by the wide and fertile bottom
of Old Man's Creek. Its water courses are numerous. Old Man's Creek runs through its southern portion; Convey Creek
rises near the north line of the township and, following a diagonal course to the southeast, empties into Old Man's
Creek in the southeast corner of the township. A branch of Convey Creek rises in the west central part of the township
and connects with the main stream at a point one mile southeast of York Center schoolhouse.
For many years what is now York Township formed a portion of Greene Township. In 186o Judge W. H. Wallace ratified a petition setting aside York as a regular township. Under this decree the first election was held at the East Ridge schoolhouse on the 6th day of November, 1860. J. E. House was clerk of this election.
THE FIRST SETTLERS
The first settler in what is now York Township was a man named Baxter. He was an Indian trader and his claim
and home were in the southeast corner of the township. It is not of record from whence he came or how long he resided
here. This much is known; he was here in 1843 when Michael Duffy, John Convey and Ben Starry drove in from Iowa
City. These were the first real settlers of York Township. Duffy and Convey were natives of Ireland and had journeyed
westward by easy stagers until they halted at the Baxter claim. They found the old trader willing to sell and they
were willing to buy. For two cows and one yoke of oxen they purchased the Baxter claim and here the two families
set about making their home in a land that was then the very rim of civilization. Starry located a short distance
southwest from Duffy and Convey and thus was effected the original settlement in York.
Then came the "hard times" of the early '50s; public work was suspended; the eastern cities were full of idle men; money was so scarce as to become practically unknown. Then the West sent out her call of welcome: "Come on out here; here is land and fuel and here you may found your homes." This call was at once answered. From 1854 to 1860 the land of York received many newcomers. Henry Hilton came in about 1853-54 and located in Hickory Grove. George House and family came about this time and located upon what is now the G. P. Gallagher farm. The Purdy family came in 1854; Horace Seymour and family and Orrin Castle and family came the same year; Edward Blasier and Ira Waldo came in 1855; C. W. Thompson came in 1857 and Orson Harrington in 1859. These were all from New York State and it was through them that the township received the name of York. These last named settlers chose the open prairie. They were the first to locate back from the timber line of Old Man's Creek and this section at once became the best farming section of the township.
John Gallagher was also among the early ones of the second invasion. He and his wife and two children came to
Iowa City in 1856. He worked on the railroad west as far as the famous Brush Run Cut west of Homestead and in August,
1859, he moved to a 40 acre tract in section 9, York Township. The home was continued here for many years and it
was from this home that nine children went forth into the world. Of these children G. P. Gallagher alone remains
in the old township, his home being on the old House farm, above mentioned, less than a mile from the old Gallagher
homestead. His twin brother resides in Williamsburg and is the writer of this sketch.
There are three cemeteries in York Township. The oldest is the Daniels Cemetery. The first interment here was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ira Waldo about 1855. The Harrington Cemetery was set apart in 1863. The first interment here was Marion Harrington. The third cemetery is the one where the Baptist Church stood for many years.
Return to [ Iowa County ] [ IA History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]