History of Webster Township, Madison County, IA
From: History of Madison County, Iowa
And it's people.
By: Herman A. Mueller
S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. Chicago 1915


A recent writer described Webster Township as "having a schoolhouse on every hillside, four churches and no railroads or saloons in the valley. It is a delightful country to travel over when the clay hills are macadamized by the sun and a good community to visit in when the people are not too busy." This division of the county is bounded on the west by Adair County, on the east by Lincoln Township, on the north by Jackson and on the south by Grand River. The surface is rough and broken but fine stone for building purposes and the manufacture of lime is found here in abundance. Originally it had a very fine grove of timber and the stone along Middle River is almost inexhaustible. The stream just mentioned crosses the township almost diagonally from the northwest corner.

As far as is now known, the first person to settle here was John H. Baugh. He was born in Madison County, Kentucky, and immigrated with his parents to Hendricks County, Indiana, in 1830, where he remained until 1849. Upon coming here, he entered land on section 12, and remained there a great many years, where he raised a family of five children and became prosperous.

Other arrivals in the township soon thereafter were Thomas Wright, L. D. Skidmore, Dexter Howard, James Harmon, Patrick Lorge, John Vancil, Otho Davis, J. R. Drake and A. M. Hart.

Another contingent made up the early settlers' roll as follows: O. H. Smith, Cass Shaw, F. M. Walker, Adam Krell, H. G. Milligan, John Schnellbacher, Henry Wissler, J. H. Krell, Joshua Aikins, Joseph Steele, E. M. Richmond, Charles Gaynor and the Orrises. Most of these persons mentioned have either passed to the beyond or have moved away.

Otho Davis, a native of Pennsylvania, immigrated to Jefferson County, this state, in 1839, and to Madison County in 1850. He laid out the Town of Webster and settled in the township in 1856. He was for many years postmaster at Webster. He was elected treasurer and recorder in October, 1850.

Dexter Howard was a native of New York. He immigrated to Illinois and from there to Madison County in 1853, becoming a citizen of Webster Township.

Andrew Johnson was born in Indiana in 1811 and came to Madison County in 1857, settling in Webster Township, where he raised a large family.

F. M. McAfferty was a settler of 1855. He enlisted in the Twenty ninth Iowa Infantry in 1862 and served until the close of the Civil war.

G. H. Milligan came here from Indiana in 1856 and found here E. A. Pindell, who had preceded him from Brown County, Ohio, in 1854.

One of the frugal and industrious farmers of this township was S. Pope, who immigrated to Iowa and settled here in 1857.

P. M. Rhoads became a settler in Madison County in 1855. He enlisted in the Thirty ninth Iowa Infantry and during the Civil war served three years. John Schnellbacher was a good farmer and an equally good preacher. He immigrated from Germany to this country in 1841, first stopping in Ohio, where he married Fredericka Meyer in 1845. There he was licensed as a local preacher by the Evangelical Association and in 185o was taken into the conference and assigned to the traveling ministers in mission work. This brought him to Madison County in 1855, when he located on a Webster Township farm of 240 acres. Mr. Schnellbacher was wont to say that while a resident of Madison County he had seen corn sell for $3 a bushel and food so scarce that at one time he took his watch, a pair of buggy springs and a Bible to mill to put up as collateral for flour, but was unable to get any. It was only out of sympathy on the part of the miller when he saw despair depicted on the suppliant countenance that he agreed to let him have some rejected flour on time, which Mr. Schnellbacher was soon able to pay for, much to the surprise of the miller. This old pioneer and his wife have both long since passed away.

F. M. Walker was born in Indiana in 1828, and there learned the trade of gunsmith. He came to this county in 1855 and for many years was one of Webster Township's prominent farmers and citizens. He was postmaster at Pleasant View until the office was abandoned. Mr. Walker settled on section 23 and lived there for forty nine years, or in other words, up until the time of his death, which occurred in 1904.

On section 24 is located Pleasant View Methodist Episcopal Church, which was organized in 1856, at the house of J. Richmond, with the following members: Jamb and Susan Richmond, W. S. Milligan and wife, W. S. and George R. Richmond, Ann, Nathaniel, Sarah A., Mary, Charles, Lydia and Orrin Richmond, Anna Johnson, John Johnson and wife, John and Sarah Warnick and Oliver Haven. The members first met in a schoolhouse on section 23. On the latter section is a Christian Church.

The Fair View Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized May 22, 1869, by John B. and Martha Knowles, William, Margaret, Joseph and Sarah Steele, Jane Stone, S. S. and Sarah Probst, M. I. and E. J. Wood and Nancy Henderson. A house of worship was erected on section 26. There are also churches on sections 2, 31, 32 and 14, and at Webster, on section 6.


This town was laid out on section 6, in Webster Township, by Otho Davis, in 1855. Davis then opened a general store and on December 12, 1855, Middle River postoffice was located at Webster and Mr. Davis was commissioned the first postmaster. His successors have been M. NI. McAfferty, J. V. Nelson, J. E. Shidler, Luther Fox, F. B. McAfferty, F. M. Tidrick, Rufus Ulery, Edward Loucks. L. J. Cook and John Cravens. On April 27, 1900, Harrison postoffice was established and located near the center of Webster Township, with J. B. Williamson as postmaster. With the coming of rural free delivery the office was discontinued in 1905.

Soon after Davis opened his store, F. O. Burke engaged in general merchandising, and F. M. McAfferty opened a blacksmith shop. Soon after, Charles Dinsmore had a shop for repairing wagons in operation. About 1856 Charles Friend commenced the building of a mill for grinding corn. It was finished in the latter part of 1856 by Benjamin McAfferty and F. G. Mason. The mill afterwards fell into the hands of Otho Davis, and finally G. M. McVey became the owner.

In June, 1875, Winona Lodge, No. 339, A. F. & A. M., was chartered and had the following officers: F. M. McAfferty, W. M.; Irvin Wilcox, S. W.; Otho Davis, J. W.; W. McAfferty, S.; S. Garrett, C.; Charles Dinsmore, S. D.; H. F. Devault, J. D.; D. L. Busby, T. The lodge moved to Pitzer but is now no more. At the present time Webster has shown no evidences of having grown within the last several years. As a matter of fact, it has become smaller as time goes by.

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