WHAT is termed Plymouth civil township comprises all of congressional township ninety one, range forty six.
It was constituted in August, 1858, when the county was organized. Plymouth then covered the entire domain of the
county, but in 1860 Lincoln was created, which divided the territory, leaving Plymouth to be described as follows:
Township ninety, ranges forty three, forty four, forty five and forty six; township ninety one, ranges forty three,
forty four, forty five and forty six; township ninety three, ranges forty three and forty four. As now constituted
Plymouth is situated south of Washington, west of Stanton, north of Hungerford and east of Liberty townships.
It is one of the most highly cultivated and most desirable portions of the county. It is well supplied with numerous
small streams, including the Floyd river, in the central part, and the West fork of that stream, which enters the
territory on section two. The population of the township in 1885, was 400, but is now several hundred greater.
The combined lines of the Illinois Central and Minneapolis & Omaha railways traverse the territory from northeast
to southwest, with a station on section eleven called Merrill. The Sioux City & Northern railway runs through
the township parallel with the above line, or nearly so.
The oldest plat now found on the Plymouth county "Village plat book" is Melbourne, which was laid off
by C. C. Orr, April 12, 1860. It was situated on section thirty four of what is now Plymouth township. This was
the county seat until about 1870, when Le Mars sprang into existence and was made the seat of justice.
Early Settlement - The early settlement of this township is virtually the early settlement of Plymouth county as
well, for it will be remembered that the first pioneers located along the beautiful valleys of the Big Sioux and
Floyd rivers, in 1856-57. In July, 1856, the Schneider family came from Ogle county, Ill. Jacob Schneider preempted
land on section thirty four and Philip Schneider on thirty three; Jacob still resides on the same land, while his
brother Philip owns his farm, but recently removed to Sioux City. At the same time (1856) came their brothers,
John and Henry Schneider. John preempted land in Hungerford township, where he still resides. The same county in
Illinois furnished several more of the pioneer band of Plymouth township, Peter Schindel settling on section thirty
three and Peter Emmett on section twenty seven. Christian Schmidt came at the same time and took land on section
twenty seven also. He was a resident of the place until his death, in 1888. E. Held came the same year, together
with his several sons. They pre-empted land, remained several years, but later sold and removed to Nebraska. The
old gentleman died and the family are again in Plymouth county.
Another pioneer of considerable note was Benjamin Stafford, who settled on section thirty four. He platted a town
site there, known as Melbourne. He was a sort of new country roamer and soon went on farther west, some time during
the Civil war. Louis Winters came in during 1862, and took land on section twenty eight. He became insane a few
years since, and is now in the hospital for the insane at Independence. John Winters, upon his return from the
war, came to Plymouth township and made a settlement. He removed to Nebraska in 1887, but still retains his land
But few settlers came to the township from early in the Civil war period until the railroad era - 1869-70. All
marketing, milling and postal business had to be transacted at Sioux City up to that time. The settlers were few,
and their wants were supplied largely by what the rich soil would produce for them.
The grasshopper years, as the settlers who lived here from 1874 to 1879 term them, were indeed plague years, and
caused times that verily tried men's souls. Many had to borrow money, and pay an excessive interest on the same,
for the purpose of procuring seed grain, and then, the day before harvest was to begin, see the broad and beautiful
acres totally destroyed by these pests; not alone for one year but for four and five years in succession did this
misfortune befall the settlers of this county.
First Events. - The first birth was that of a son of Mr. and Mrs. Philip Schneider, named Jacob. He was born in
the fall of 1857, and is still living in his native township.
The earliest death was that of a boy baby of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Schindel, who passed from earth in the autumn of
The first marriage in Plymouth township was that of Morgan Stafford to Catharine Schmidt, in 1858.
Schools and Churches. - The first term of school was taught at Melbourne before the court house was erected at
The first church edifice in the county was reared in Plymouth township by the Evangelical people, at the close
of the Rebellion. It was a frame building, standing on the southwest quarter of section thirty four; and it served
the society until 1874, when it had become too small for the rapidly increasing church membership. It was sold
to Mr. Wilcox, and a better, larger church erected on the same site. The new edifice cost $2,100. Its size is thirty
by fifty five feet. As evinced by the many churches and schools in this portion of Plymouth county, one can easily
infer that the first settlers were a God fearing and intelligent class of people. At a very early day they commenced
to lay well the foundation for the present school and church privileges - second to none in the county.
School matters have ever been properly conducted, and hence eminently successful, and today one finds an intelligent
class of people as the result. The township has now five sub-districts, each containing a good sized frame school
house. The average enrollment' in 1889 was 131 pupils.
The Evangelical church was organized in 1858, by sixteen members of German nationality, as follows: Philip Schneider
and wife, John Schneider and wife, Peter Schindel and wife, Christian Schmidt and wife, Mary Launbach, Henry and
Jacob Schneider, Philip Schmidt, Miss Catharine Schmidt, Christiana Schmidt, Peter Emmett, Daniel Schneider and
Mrs. Elizabeth Schneider. The first meetings were held at the house of Philip Schneider in July, 1858, and next
at the school house on section thirty four. At one time the church had a membership of 140 members, but on account
of removals, death, etc., at the present time has not more than 100. A parsonage was built near the church, in
1885, at a cost of about $600.
The following have served as pastors of this church, which was the first to herald the gospel in Plymouth county,
the date of its organization being identical with the organization of the county itself: Rev. J. F. Schreiber (missionary),
one year; Rev. Henry Kleinsolgei, two years; Rev. Fred Benner, two years; Rev. Buncy, two years; Rev. Sanders,
two years; Rev. Zimmerman, one year, at the end of which season he died; Rev. Joseph Brennen, two years; Rev. Oren
Buzzard, two years; Rev. Henry gleinsolgei, two years; Rev. Pflaum, three years; Rev. George Youngblood, three
years; Rev. F. Loehie, three years; Rev. Pippert, three years; Rev. J. J. Miller, two years; Rev. G. Koehn, two
years; Rev. S. L. Stabler, two years; Rev. Adam Goetchel, the present pastor.
Floyd Valley Odd Fellows' Lodge. - This is the oldest civic society in Plymouth county, and was formed during
the month of October, 1870, by six members. Its number among the lodges of Iowa is 208. The first noble grand was
Philip Schneider, the first vice grand was John Radermaher, and the first secretary was Leonard Koenig. The lodge
met for some time at the farm house of Mr. Koenig, but after a few years built them a good hall on section thirty
four, which they still use for lodge purposes. This hall was built in 1882 at a cost of $700. The present officers
are: Albert Speis, N. G.; John Koenig, V. G.; Anton Hicky, treasurer; and Leonard Koenig, secretary. The order
is in a growing and harmonious condition.
Village of Merrill. - At present Merrill is the only regularly platted town site in Plymouth township. It was originally
platted February 27, 1872, by the Railroad & Town Lot Company. In the spring of 1888, William Frost, a pioneer
homesteader and now a grain dealer at this point, bought land to the west of the old plat, and made an addition
of about fifty acres. The first house erected at Merrill was by C. K. Smith and was used as a residence, and for
a general store, as well. Mr. Smith being disappointed over the county seat not finally being located at Merrill,
left the town and is now a prosperous grocer of Sioux City, Iowa.
Mr. Frost relates that in those early days, when he was a homesteader, and, in common with nearly all others, owed
Mr. Smith for provisions, they were compelled to draw wheat in to him, and store it in a building until they got
a car load, and then all hands go over and carry it to the car in wash tubs. It was a novel grain elevator, but
Mr. Frost says it was never patented and only used one season, after which time the grasshoppers carried all the
grain, free of charge!
The first dealer at Merrill was C. K. Smith, who commenced operating in a small way in 1870. He was "lord
of all he surveyed," being merchant, railroad agent, express agent and postmaster.
The pioneer blacksmith to wield his sledge here was "Nick" Billings. The first to handle grain was J.
H. Morf, who built an elevator. There was no lumber yard at Merrill until 1888, when Arthur S. Welch started in
A postoffice was established in 1871. The postmasters have been as follows: C. K. Smith, J. H. Morf, A. Looney,
Mrs. Beeman (kept at her hotel), Mrs. Dodson, the same lady, but who married Mr. Dodson; D. K. Tooker succeeded
her and Fred Aldrich received the appointment in the spring of 1889 and still holds the office.
A bank was started in 1888, as a branch of the Le Mars National Bank. W. J. Lawrence is the cashier.
The present population of Merrill, by actual count taken in March, 1890, was 160. In 1890 its business interests
comprise the following:
Agricultural implements - Veal & Vague.
Barber - William Weinheimer.
Blacksmiths - Harker & Sutter, Belan Bros.
Bank - Farmers' & Merchants'.
Drugs - Dr. Henry Nigg.
General dealers - Aldrich & Haylock, McCauley & Co., D. K. Tooker, J. L. Jenkins.
Grain dealers - Frost & Fullbrook.
Hardware - Aldrich & Haylock.
Harness shop - Joseph Elschamp.
Lumber - Knorr & Schaeffer.
Livery - John Anderson.
Millinery - Mrs. John C. Smith.
Meat market - T. J. Moore.
Physicians - Drs. Nigg and Jenkins.
Stock - Frost & Fullbrook.
The railroads of Merrill are now the Illinois Central, Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha and the Sioux
City & Northern. It has come to be a good grain and stock shipping point.
When the railroad was being first built through Merrill, it was believed the county seat would be near there, and
a district school house was erected, which served until 1889, when a better one was provided. It is a two room
building, thirty two by forty four feet, costing $1,450.
At present there are three religious societies represented by organizations, the Methodist Episcopal, Free Methodists
and Roman Catholic. The two mentioned last are now each erecting good buildings, while the Methodist Episcopal
built a neat chapel in 1882, which is twenty six by fifty two feet and cost about $1,300. It is situated on the
corner of Calhoun and Second streets.
The Methodist Episcopal church of Merrill was organized by Rev. Hiram T. Snyder in September, 1878. He was the
first pastor appointed on the Merrill circuit. The members of the first class were: John Eastman, Mary Eastman,
Maggy Eastman, Mr. and Mrs. Yerger, Henry Calhoun, Mrs. Calhoun, Mrs. Volney Tooker. The first class leader was
Henry Calhoun, first Sunday school superintendent, John Patterson. Their building was badly damaged by the fearful
wind storm of June, 1885. It was rebuilt and opened in September, 1889, by Pastor G. L. Griggs. Seven hundred dollars
were raised at the time by Rev. Wilmot Whitfield. In 1889 a neat parsonage was built, which is twenty four by twenty
four feet, costing $600.
The present membership of the church is eighteen. The Sabbath school is superintended by Rev. Griggs. The Merrill
charge takes in an appointment in Lincoln township and one at the village of James, at which point a building was
dedicated by Rev. G. L. Griggs, December 15, 1889. The edifice cost $1,600.
Casualties. - Among the sad occurrences that have transpired in Plymouth township, may be mentioned the death of
a young man, one or two miles west of Merrill, who in trying to extinguish the flames with which a prairie fire
had enveloped his house, perished before help reached him. His name is now forgotten, but early settlers will recall
the great fire in which many thousand dollars' worth of farm property was destroyed. This man was a bachelor, twenty
six years old, and a highly respected gentleman, who was working bard to secure a home for himself, and was soon
to have been married.