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


AT one time congressional township ninety, range forty seven, was included in what was known as Sioux and Lincoln townships, but at present is styled Perry. It was created by an act of the supervisors, January 8, 1870, and has since that date been a separate organization. It is bounded on the north by Liberty township, on the east by Hungerford, on the south by the Woodbury county line, and on the west by Hancock township. Its chief water courses are the west branch of Perry creek and Perry creek proper, which latter flows through the township from north to south.

The population, which numbers about 500, is about two thirds American, and the remainder is equally divided between the Germans and Canadians, all of whom are thrifty farmers and good citizens.

First Settlement. - The history of the early pioneers in Perry township is but the story of the life and hardship of a set of hardy homesteaders, who saw many years of ill luck, and passed through the plague of the grasshopper years. The earliest of this number were men named Smith and Hagel, who claimed lands on a part of section two, about 1869. They removed from the township in 1878.

In the spring of 1870 Robert Crouch came in from Wisconsin, and homesteaded the place now occupied by his brother Andrew, on section four. Thomas Flannery homesteaded the northeast quarter of section four, in the month of November, 1871; he came from Canada, as did very many of the first settlers here. He has been a constant resident ever since, and has, from time to time, bought land, until his estate now contains 1,100 acres. W. H. Brill homesteaded on section thirty four, in 1870, and still resides there, the possessor of an excellent farm home. Ed. and Nick Dorsey settled on section thirty four, also in 1870. Edward is now deceased. Pat Flinn homesteaded on section two, in 1870 or 1871. He is still a resident and an honored citizen. Peter Garvey settled on section thirty three in 1869; he came from Canada. Philip Garvey came at the same time, locating on section twelve, where he still resides. James Graham settled as a homesteader on section twelve, in 1871. He came from Canada, and is now deceased. Michael Tracy homesteaded a portion of section ten, in 1870. He also came from Canada, and afterward proved up and removed to the northwest quarter of section eleven. Timothy Shanahon was another 1870 homesteader on section ten. He proved up, sold, and removed to Nebraska. Ole Bonnes came in the spring of 1872, and claimed as a homestead, land on the southeast quarter of section four, where he still farms. Christian Kalass was among the very early settlers, locating on section two, where he still remains. Another Canadian settler was George Keyes, who homesteaded land about 1870. He afterward sold out and purchased lands on the southwest quarter of section sixteen, which he still occupies.

In 1872 D. Knapp homesteaded the northwest quarter of section six. He is deceased, but the family still remains there. A man named Doll was a homesteader of 1871, locating on section four. He did not remain in the township many years. T. L. Elliott came in from Canada, about 1875, and homesteaded the southeast quarter of section eight, where he still resides. As early as 1869, perhaps the fall of 1868, J. L. McElhaney settled on section thirty two; he is now dead. Dennis O'Brien and his son James came to the township about 1872, and took homesteads. The father is now dead. They came from Ireland direct to this part of the country.

Early Events. - The first election was held (for the present township) at the Brill school house, in the spring of 1870.

The first school was taught near the south line of the township, at a private house, early in the seventies; while in the northern part the first term of school was held at the house of Thomas Flannery, in 1876. It was held there for three years, the first term being taught by a young man named Ed. Crary. The school consisted of about twelve scholars.

The first school house was what is known as the Jo Martin schoolhouse." It will be remembered that the first few years after the township was settled, it embraced more than its present territory, and hence the school houses were in what is Liberty township now. There are now six school houses in Perry township, located in the six sub-districts. The total enrollment of scholars, in 1889, was 109.

The first township officers embraced the following: Robert Crouch, clerk; Messrs. Hagel and Holden, trustees; Robert Crouch, assessor; Mr. Petty, justice of the peace.

Among the few fatal accidents which have occurred in Perry township, may be mentioned that which caused the death of George Chamberlain, who was struck with a flying plank in the time of a cyclone, about 1880.

Early settlers were given their choice of railroad lands from 1870 to 1876, at $4 per acre; the least valuable of these lands, in 1880, brought $11 per acre.

The years known in the "log book" of the pioneers of Plymouth county, as the "grasshopper days," drove many a poverty stricken family from this now goodly heritage, while many others were so circumstanced that it was impossible for them to remove, but who, today, are enjoying the comforts of a well settled township, with school and railway facilities on every hand.

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