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


THIS township comprises congressional township ninety two, range forty seven. It was taken from Plymouth and Sioux townships by an act of the supervisors dated June 8, 1870. It is bounded on the north by Preston township, on the east by Washington township, on the south by Liberty, and on the west by Westfield.

Water Ways. - The streams which supply Johnson township with water and give a thorough natural drainage, are the Broken Kettle creek in the northwest corner, and Bull Run creek in the southwest portion. It is purely an agricultural district, with no towns or villages within its borders. The soil's richness is equal to any in the whole domain of Plymouth county.

The population in 1885 was 500, of which about 300 were American born, and the balance about equally divided between the Canadians and Germans.

The First Actual Settlers. - In older countries it is no easy matter to delve back into the dim past and establish the facts concerning the first settlers, but here, in Plymouth county, many still survive, who saw and helped to erect the pioneer buildings, and by this class it is stated that the settlement of Johnson township was effected, at first, by a number of homesteaders, among whom the very earliest ones were: John P. Hoffmann, on section thirty six; he still resides on the land originally claimed. Theodore Hoffmann came at the same time. August Hauswald homesteaded a part of section twenty six. Andrew Wilson came from Jackson county, Iowa, in the spring of 1871, and homesteaded the northeast quarter of section twenty two, where he still remains - a well to do farmer. The earliest settlers came in 1868-69. Thomas Stanton came from Jackson county, Iowa, and homesteaded the south half of the northwest quarter of section twenty two, where he still lives.

In 1870, C. S. Rowley homesteaded the south half of the southwest quarter of section thirty two. He still resides there. Charles Kanago homesteaded the west half of the northwest quarter of section thirty two, and still occupies the place. Wallace Fuller came from eastern Iowa, and in the spring of 1871 homesteaded the southeast quarter of section eight. In a great and sweeping prairie fire, about 1880, his wife was burned to death. He married again, however, and is now a large farmer of this township. Isaac N. Jeffers was a homesteader about the same date, who claimed a portion of section four. He came here from Black Hawk county, Iowa, and is still an honored resident of Johnson township. Peter and Donald McKinnon came in the fall, and took homesteads on section two. Later on they bought farms on sections one and three, where they still reside.

Richard Goldie, now editor of the "Sun" at Le Mars, homesteaded the northeast quarter of section twelve, in 1870-71. He proved up and remained there until a few years ago, when he entered the journalistic field. August McGuinis claimed the east half of the northwest quarter of section twelve, in 1870. He is still a resident of his original homestead. C. F. Wendt was a settler of 1872, on section twelve, where he still remains. August Muecke, in the fall of 1870, homesteaded the northeast quarter of section fourteen, where he still lives. Christian Kasper homesteaded the southeast quarter of section fourteen, in the autumn of 1870. He is still an honored resident of this township. Chris Miller homesteaded on the northwest quarter of section fourteen, and still remains a resident. B. H. Michael located a homestead in the fall of 1871, on the northeast quarter of section twenty four. About the same time came in Henry Beckeberg, claiming the south half of the northeast quarter of section twenty four. He is now a large land owner in Johnson and Washington townships.

Richard Faull homesteaded land on the south half of the southwest quarter of section twenty four. He still resides there, possessing a well tilled and finely improved farm. William Bornschein settled on the north half of the northeast quarter of section twenty six, in the fall of 1870. He still remains on the place. Another early settler and homesteader was Aaron Archer, who, in the fall of 1870, took land on section thirty two. He was driven out of the county by grasshoppers, and now lives at Emporia, gas. Moses Archer came in at the same time and claimed a part of section thirty. He was also compelled to leave the county during the plague years, and is now a resident of another part of Iowa. John Arndt, now living at Le Mars, homesteaded on section thirty four about 1869. A Scotchmau named Shaw was an early homesteader in the north part of the township. After proving up his claim he sold and removed to a point farther west. Julius Goecky homesteaded on section four, in 1870, and removed soon after he proved up his claim, about 1875.

These, with a few more, made up the first settlement of the township. But few others sought homes here until after the country had escaped the grasshopper ravages of 1874 to 1877, years long to be remembered by the early pioneers and homesteaders of Plymouth county.

First Death. - The first person to die in the township was the wife of Ellis Rowley, a homesteader. She died in 1871, on section thirty two.

The First School was taught very early in the history of the township, probably about the winter of 1871-72. Two school houses were provided about that date, one on section thirty four and the other on section thirty two, and then one very soon on section fourteen.

Schools of 1890. - According to the report of the county superintendent of public schools, in 1889 Johnson township had six sub-districts, each provided with a suitable frame school building. The total enrollment of pupils that year was 145. Much attention has been paid to securing good and fully competent teachers, and, as a consequence the educational standing is most excellent at the present time. Religious. - The religious element seems to have predominated quite largely in Johnson township. At present we find four denominations represented with active societies, viz.: The United Brethren, Presbyterian, German Methodist and Roman Catholic. The former two each have church edifices, the Catholics have built two, but their last one was blown down some years since, and never rebuilt.

The United Brethren church was formed in February, 1874, as the result of the labors of Rev. I. G. W. Chase, formerly of Lisbon, Iowa. At first the society numbered ninety nine. Among the members and officers were: Jacob Brown, class leader; T. W. Lias, Sunday school superintendent; McKeel, class steward; Whitney Atrill and Joseph Stinton, trustees. Of the original members there only remain the following: James Stinton and wife, Joseph Stinton and wife, Abner Andrus, Mrs. Wilson, Hannah Stinton, Louisa Bristow, Lucy Bradley, Mrs. Kanago. Of the remainder, some have "fallen out by the way," some removed, and others gone to reap the reward of the faithful. The preachers have been: Rev. Chase, Rev. J. D. Snyder (present presiding elder), Rev. D. M. Haney, Rev. A. E. Curtis, Rev.

J. Brown, Rev. A. W. King, Rev. Jacob Brown, Rev. M. Fulcomer, Rev. G. Dity, Rev. L. T. Craven, Rev. F. Stinton, Rev. F. H. Neff. At present the church numbers forty one. The Sunday school superintendent is U. Stinton, the class leader is S. Morehead; trustees: James Stinton, Joseph Stinton, F. S. Talbott, A. Andrus, William May. A church was erected in 1882, at a cost of $1,200. It is thirty two by forty feet, seats about 300, and is located on the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of section thirty three.

The German Methodist Episcopal church of Johnson township is the earliest of this sect in Plymouth county. It was formed by a few devoted German families in 1872. It now has a membership of twenty five. They now hold services in the school house, being attended by the pastor at Le Mars, but are 'talking of building a chapel. A good Sabbath school is maintained, which meets at the Kasper school house, on section fourteen.

The Presbyterian church of this township is situated in the extreme northeast corner of section one. The society was formed in 1879. It is known as the "First Presbyterian church of Plymouth county," and is truly what its name signifies, the first in the county. At present there are but twelve members. A building was erected about 1879, thirty by forty five feet. Its cost can not be got at, as it was built by volunteer labor, no money being paid for the work. The building was first started by a pioneer named James, who was a mason and helped lay the brick work. He was a Presbyterian clergyman and a zealous worker. At present Rev. Fahrs, of Le Mars, preaches here once in two weeks. There are two elders: Mr. Shaddegan and Malcom F. Brodie. The trustees are Peter McKinnon, John Robinson and Angus McGinnis. The present Sunday chool superintendent is Malcom F. Brodie. The school now numbers about seventy five.

Postoffices, Etc. - This township has no towns or villages or railroads. It has, at present, two postoffices: Adaville, established in 1889, near the United Brethren church building, in the southwest part of the township; there is also a store at this point, kept by Mr. Scott. Clathorne postoffice is located on section twelve; it was established about 1885, with Richard Goldie as postmaster. It is now presided over by Mr. Russell, who also operates a small general store at this point.

Fatal Prairie Fire. - Among the heart rending and revolting calamities which it becomes the duty of a historian to record of this county, is the terrible death of the wife of one of the present residents of Johnson township - Mrs. Wallace Fuller. The sad event took place on Broken Kettle creek, the first week in April, 1879, and has always been looked upon as the most appalling catastrophe ever having happened in Plymouth county. The homestead where Mr. Fuller then lived was twelve miles west of Le Mars, and there had grown up a goodly settlement along the valley in which he lived; but there were a few full sections of wild land, covered with a rank growth of prairie grass, adjoining this ill fated spot, which were set on fire and became unmanageable. The fire came up about noon, and threatened Mr. Fuller's stables (made chiefly of straw and hay, as all western stables were at that date). Mr. Fuller, who was working in the field near by, saw the danger, and repaired to the stable to release the horses, while his wife went to another stable for the purpose of releasing some more stock. The angry, wind fanned flames swept to the door of the stable to which the poor, unfortunate woman had so bravely gone in defense of the dumb brutes. She made a dash through the flames, which then totally enveloped the stable, but in so doing, her clothes caught fire. Before going far, she fell to the ground, where she was shortly observed by her husband, who frantically sped to her rescue. While the seething, hissing flames roared around him, he tried to tear the clothing from off his wife's body. The sad story must terminate by saying death soon ended the woman's sufferings, and the homesteader's wife, midst the turmoil of a new, wild prairie life, was laid away to rest from her cares and labors, lamented by all who knew her. Besides the loss of his dear companion, Mr. Fuller also sustained the loss of four horses, ten hogs, thirteen head of cattle, a thousand bushels of wheat, 150 bushels of flax and a large amount of corn. In the meantime the flames had leaped to the farm house, and that also was rapidly consumed, together with its contents.

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