History of Grant Township, Plymouth County, IA
From: History of the Counties of Woodbury and Plymouth, Iowa
A Warner & Co., Publishers
Chicago Illinois, 1890-91


GRANT is situated in the north tier of townships in Plymouth county, and is the third in number from the western border. It comprises congressional township ninety three, range forty six west. It is south of Sioux county, west of Elgin township (Plymouth county), north of Washington township, and east of Preston. It was formerly included in the territory known as Washington, but by an act of the county supervisors, June 5, 1872, it was created into a distinct civil township. It is a wonderfully fertile tract of land, with but few streams to mar the even prairie surface. The Mink creek is the only stream of any note, and courses its way through the domain from north to south, leaving a lovely valley on either side, in which one finds today a rich farming district, which, if not fortunately surrounded by nearly as good land, in all directions, would claim more attention than it does. If situated in rugged old New England, this township would be termed a real garden spot, worth visiting. But even as it is, it may well be termed a garden within.a fertile field, unsurpassed in northern Iowa.

In 1885 the last state census gave Grant township a population of 608 people, of whom 364 are American born.

Early Settlement - Like most other townships of Plymouth county, Grant was first settled by homesteaders, who saw the beauty of nature untouched, unclaimed. That great privation and real hardship was the lot of Grant's early pioneers, scarcely need be here mentioned, when one considers that they were away from markets, away from any kind of timber, away from school, and away from everything to remind one of home. Yet these brave hearts - men and women, too - self sacrificing and full of true courage, saw, in their fancy, the beautiful homes which they have finally come to possess. And the fact of their having come up through great tribulation, through the scourges of prairie fires and grasshopper raids, besides many another plague, which is only known to an Iowa homesteader, makes these people now appreciate their present pleasant surroundings; and well they may, for the transformation is wonderful. Let the reader wander back in thought to 1868 and 1870, when the surface of this section was unbroken by the plowshare; at a period when tall prairie grass, perfumed with dainty wild flowers, made up the landscape scene. Think of the eye of the first settler peering out over this great sea of grass The birds which sang were but the wildest, ugliest species, such as love not civilized life. No groves fringed the few scanty water courses, and fuel had to be procured from points many miles distant. Indeed, it took hearts, stout and brave, to stem that scene, when the wintry winds commenced sweeping down from the cold northwest. It was then that thoughts of old eastern homes thrilled the heart, and not unfrequently bedimmed the eye of a wife and mother.

But some one must needs venture out and set the first stakes. The record should here be made that "Geo" Dailey was the first man to sleep within any sort of a habitation in Grant township. Mr. Dailey came from eastern Iowa, it is probable from Jones county, and entered his claim on the west half of the northeast quarter of section eighteen. He was a "grass widower," and had lived in Iowa when it was yet a territory. A man of marked ability, he was eccentric, but had many friends; because of his education, tact and true gentlemanly manners and wonderful kindness, all were "Uncle Geo's" friends. He proved up his homestead and remained there until the time of his death, about 1880. He seldom left the place, and always lived alone. His house, the first constructed in the township, was made of prairie sod. It was indeed a curiosity shop. There he cooked in a clay oven, slept, and perused his reading matter. He quarried two rough bowlders from the bed of the Sioux river, which he fashioned into mill stones, which he ground corn on, by means of a home made wind mill, the shaft of which entered his sod shanty.

The second settler was a Welshman, named Davis, who, together with his family, came from Pennsylvania, but remained only a short time. Other Welsh families were "Little" Jeremiah, who came from Pennsylvania and settled on section thirty; Jones, from the same state, came in 1870, and settled on a homestead in the southwest part of the township.

In May, 1870, James and Joel Andrews came in as homesteaders on section eight, Joel, having been a soldier, claimed a quarter section, while his brother could only hold eighty acres. James proved up and sold out, and ran a saloon at Le Mars for a time, and Joel went to Sioux City.

Henry Taylor, to whom the writer is indebted for much concerning the first settlement of this township, came from Fond du Lac, Wis., and formerly from Pennsylvania. The family, consisting of Mr. Taylor and his son in law, A. H. Millard, and wife, came in covered wagons, in which they lived from early in the month of May until August, 1870, while they were building a house and improving their land. They came via Dubuque and Fort Dodge. They now have one of the finest places in the north part of the county. They claimed land on section ten.

In September, the same year, 1870, came William Benton from Connecticut. He homesteaded the south half of the southwest quarter of section four. He died in 1874, but the family are still residents of the place, which is now owned by his son, George S. The nest to make a settlement was a man named Scholars, who came in from eastern Iowa and pre-empted land on section four. He soon sold. J. Kinks pre-empted the southeast quarter of section four in 1870. He sold, the same year, to George W. Stillman. Jacob Oler homesteaded land on section four in the fall of 1870. He came from Jones county, Iowa. After he proved up, at the expiration of the five year term, he sold and went west, where, some years later, he died. Almon Wood came from Michigan in 1870, and pre-empted land on section ten. He soon sold, however, and returned to Michigan. Mathias Wood came at the same time, from the same place, and settled on the west half of section ten. He also sold and went back to his old home in Michigan, thinking that this country would never amount to anything. S. Lane was an. 1870 homesteader on the west half of the southwest quarter of section ten. He remained until 1876, proved up his claim, and then returned to Michigan. Sylvester Bradford, formerly from Michigan, claimed the southeast quarter of section ten as a homestead. He finally sold and removed to Waterloo, Iowa. William Van Cleve came to the township in 1870 and homesteaded eighty acres - the south half of the northeast quarter of section ten. After proving up he sold and went on west.

In 1870 James McDougall came out from Wisconsin, and homesteaded and bought all of section two - that is, the family did - for he had a son and several daughters. They still reside there, all well to do and highly respected farmers. Nelson Ralston came from Jones county, Iowa, and homesteaded on section eighteen. After he proved up he sold, and bought land on section four. He now lives in Dakota. John Albers came, early in the seventies, from Jackson county, Iowa, and settled on section twenty two, where he still farms. H. E. Wilcox and his son, H. W. Wilcox, were early settlers on section twenty one. The former is now in Florida and the latter is engaged in the hardware trade in Le Mars. G. W. Sheeley homesteaded the northwest quarter of section twenty, in 1870 or 1871. He came from Maryland, and is now living in Kansas.

First Events. - The first township election was held in the spring of 1870.

The first death, as now remembered, was that of William Benton in May, 1874.

The first religious services were held by Methodist Episcopal people, at the house of Almon Wood, on section ten, in 1871. Preaching was planned for, but as the clergyman did not arrive, a prayer meeting was held.

The first child born in Grant township was that of Mr. and Mrs. William Van Cleve, in July, 1871. It survived only a few months. The first child born (now living) was Henry H. Millard, born April 26, 1872.

The first school house in Grant township is what is now styled No. 9. It was erected in 1872 on the southwest quarter of section twenty nine. The first term taught in this school house was in 1873, by James A. Harroun.

Educational. - At the very earliest period the homesteaders of Grant township began to lay the foundation for a good system of public schools. In the winter of 1870-71, what few children were then old enough, gathered together at the sod claim shanty of uncle "Geo" Dailey, and there, in that little tucked up and dirty place, the first lessons were taught by Mr. Dailey, who received whatever the parents felt like donating him in the way of fuel, provisions, etc. In the summer of 1872 or 1873, Sally Parsons, wife of Alfred Parsons, taught, at public expense, in a frame house on section four. She had but seven pupils, but she made a good and faithful instructor. What is now No. 9 school house was originally built on the southwest quarter of section twenty nine, in 1872, and Was the pioneer school building of Grant township. Today the township is well supplied with all the country school advantages. It has eight sub-districts, and each is provided with a good building. The enrollment in 1889 was 190 pupils. Seventy five shade trees adorn the various school grounds of the township.

German Lutheran Church. - This is the only regularly organized religious body in Grant township. The Methodists have held occasional services here, but owing to the German element, which is nearly all Lutheran, no attempt to organize has ever been made. The German Lutherans organized their church in 1872. At first they held meetings at the school house, but in 1878 they erected a frame church on the southwest quarter of section twenty one, which cost them $600. This served quite well until 1889, when a larger building was demanded by the rapidly growing congregation. So the present fine structure was reared at a cost of $4,950, besides decorating work of $300 additional. A good parsonage was built in 1879. The old church building is now used for the parochial school, which is taught by the pastor, Rev. F. S. Buenger. The first pastor's name was E. Beck, who served for two years and was succeeded by the present pastor. The present voting membership of the church is sixty, while the congregation numbers over 400. A forty acre tract of land was purchased by this society, at an early day, and on it the church, parsonage and school, together with the burying ground, are situated. The tillable land is rented to first one member and then another, and the proceeds all go toward the general support of the society.

In the southern and western portions of Grant township the Germans predominate largely. This church's membership is made up from farmers living both in Grant and Preston townships. A more moral, religious and truly industrious people can not be found in Iowa, than those identified with this congregation.

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