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


CONGRESSIONAL TOWNSHIP ninety three, range forty seven west, is now styled Preston civil township. It formerly belonged with Portland, but was subdivided by the board of supervisors, June 8, 1875. It is bounded on the north by Sioux county, on the east by Grant township, on the south by Johnson, and on the west by Portland township. Its domain contains over 22,000 acres of excellent farming land. The principal streams are the Broken Kettle creek, in the central portion, running south, the Indian creek, in the northwest, with Du Bois creek in the northern part.

The population in 1885 was 380, of whom 250 were American born. The present enumeration will give about 600.

The First Settlers. - The historian is indebted to Moses K. DuBois for much regarding the incoming of the first men and families who ventured upon the wild lands of Preston township. He was originally from New York, but came from Winneshiek county, Iowa, in May, 1872, and claimed the southwest quarter of section two as his homestead right, he having been a soldier during the Civil war, enlisting as a member of the Fifteenth New York Engineer Corps. This township at that date was included in Portland, and settlers had to go to Akron to vote, a distance of fourteen miles, from section one of what now constitutes Preston township.

When Mr. Du Bois arrived in the then prairie wilderness, with not a tree in sight and but few neighbors, he found D Bradley a homesteader on the south half of the southwest quarter of section twenty four. He came in about 1870. He proved up and then moved to section twenty five, where he still lives.

E. Taylor was a homesteader on the northwest quarter of section twenty six, and one of the representative men of his township at this time. Robert McKay homesteaded the northeast quarter of section twenty six, where he is still, living. A German, named S. Bohlken, homesteaded eighty acres of section twenty two, which he still farms. C. B. Frerichs homesteaded the southeast quarter of section twenty two, and is still a resident of the same place. Fred Jacobs homesteaded on section twenty two, and still lives on the same land. Another settler of section twenty two was H. C. Collman, who homesteaded the southeast quarter, which he still lives upon. William McCauliff bought out the first settler of the township - a man who homesteaded on the north half of section twenty four. McCauliff settled about 1871, and is today one of the largest land owners and best situated farmers in Preston township. A man named Wills homesteaded the north half of the northeast quarter of section twenty four, remained a short time, and sold out. W. W. Wingett took as a homestead the southeast quarter of section fourteen, in 1872. He still owns the place but lives elsewhere.

Lewis Shaddinger came in 1871-72, homesteading the northwest quarter of section fourteen, where he is now comfortably surrounded. As early as 1871 John Nesbitt and his mother located on the northeast quarter of section fourteen. "Gil" and Charlie Shaw each homesteaded eighty acres on the northwest quarter of section fourteen, in 1872; they proved up and then removed. A Mr. Hoglan homesteaded the southwest quarter of section ten, in 1873. He proved up, sold and moved away. He was an emigrant from Illinois. "Ed" Bills homesteaded the northwest quarter of section ten, in 1873, proved up, sold, and moved to other parts. The northeast quarter of section ten was homesteaded by Al. Hayes, who, being a soldier, claimed a title to 160 acres. He remained until he proved up, and then moved. He subsequently died. I. C. Munson homesteaded the whole of the southeast quarter of section ten, in 1872. He now lives in Le Mars. E. Raymond pre-empted the southeast quarter of section two, in 1871, or not later than 1872. He removed from the township in 1885. Harvey Parsons, another early settler, homesteaded eighty acres - the west half of the northeast quarter of section two. He soon removed to Le Mars. William Shaw and his daughter, Flora, homesteaded the northeast quarter of section two, in 1872. They proved up and removed. The northwest quarter of section twelve was pre-empted by Pike Young, in 1872. He proved up his title, sold out, and removed. The southeast quarter of section twelve was homesteaded by Mr. Colwell, now of Le Mars: Hiram Goff settled on the northeast quarter of section twelve, proved up, sold, and returned to Indiana.

The above comprises a list of nearly all the early settlers of Preston township, with a few exceptions among the Germans, who settled in the southeastern part.

Miscellaneous. - The township has, to this date, never had an organized church. The first election was held at the Winged schoolhouse, at which Moses K. Du Bois was elected township clerk and treasurer.

The first term of school was taught at Ed. Raymond's house, in 1873-74, by L. M. Black. A school house was erected in 1874, now known as No. 1, situated on section eleven. At this date, 1890, the township is divided into seven sub-districts, each being provided with a good school house. In 1889 the county school superintendent's report gave the total of scholarship in this township as 170.

During the seventies Pike Young was badly frozen. He was making his way home, and in the fearful, blinding storm was lost and strayed far over into Sioux county. At that time there were but few landmarks, no fences or roads, neither groves, so that it was next to presumption for a settler not to be very near his home when a blizzard was coming on.

The pioneer homesteaders of this part of Plymouth county endured many hardships. Not a few had to succumb in the days of the grasshoppers, and look for a home elsewhere, while still others could not obtain the means with which to get away; these, through much hardship, succeeded in tiding over that ever to be remembered era in the history of Plymouth county, and are today prosperous farmers, living in the enjoyment of comfortable homes, and in the midst of good school and railroad facilities.

Great indeed has been the changes wrought in Preston township since 1870. Now, instead of the wide stretch of bleak prairie land, one finds well cultivated farms and magnificent artificial groves planted by the hardy pioneers. The trees forming these groves now tower up from thirty to fifty feet, making an excellent windbreak in the winter season, and provide a cooling shade in midsummer days. They stand out on the broad expanse of the rolling prairie like so many landmarks to the traveler, and as so many living monuments erected by the good sense of the early settlers.

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