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


SIOUX contains all of congressional township ninety one, range forty eight, except parts of sections thirty one and thirty two, which are cut off by the Big Sioux river, the dividing line between Iowa and South Dakota. At one time Sioux was included in Plymouth and Lincoln townships, but by an act of the supervisors it was finally set off by itself.

The Big Sioux river forms the western boundary, while Broken Kettle creek meanders through the entire eastern portion, providing excellent drainage for a goodly part of the whole territory.

In 1885 the township had a population of but about 250 souls, but has grown greatly since that time. The people are chiefly native born Americans, and of the best and truest type.

The First Settlement. - To have lived west of the Mississippi river in 1856, was not considered very early, but to have been a settler in the northwest portion of Iowa in that year, was indeed, to be classed as among daring, brave men. The Sioux valley was then first settled by a few persons, and to Hon. D. M. Mills must be accorded the honor, for such it was, of being the first white man to claim land, erect a cabin, and make for himself a home in this section. He was the first to effect settlement and remain through all these eventful years, including the dark and trying days of the Civil war, as well as through the Indian troubles from 1857 to 1864.

When Mr. Mills came to section fourteen, in the month of March, 1856, he looked upon streams, the waters of which reflected back the image of the red man who had folded up his tents for the last time in the magnificent valley of the Big Sioux, who had spent a lifetime midst these wild, yet charming haunts, but was now to bid a long farewell and leave his once happy hunting ground to the plowshare of a more progressive race.

Of Pioneer Mills, it may be said, he has ever been true as steel to the white settlers, and also to the remnant of the Indian bands which from time to time still came to this section. Having been reared from childhood among the North American Indians, and having been an extensive traveler in South America, just prior to coming to Iowa, he was, by experience, quite well calculated to become a successful pioneer. It was in 1856 that he held a claim down for a Dubuque company on the present site of flourishing Sioux Falls, S. Dak., and also claimed land there, at the same time for himself, which included the falls now so valuable for mill power. He returned, however, to his cabin home in Sioux township, and made other improvements. He became a popular pioneer leader, and was the first sheriff of Plymouth county, serving two terms. From 1864 to 1871 he resided at Elk Point, Dak.; he was a member of the upper house of the Dakota territorial legislature, at Yankton, from 1867 fo 1870. He also held the office of internal revenue assessor a year, his district extending to the Rocky mountains. He was appointed by Vice President Andrew Johnson, at a salary of $3,000 per year. These facts are given in this connection, to show the reader that the early settlers of this section were men of sterling worth and intelligence.

After Mr. Mills' pre-emption of 160 acres, on section fourteen, township ninety one, range forty nine, in March, 1856, the next settler was J. D. Pinkney, who settled the northeast quarter of section fourteen, in the spring of 1857. He came from Michigan, as did D. M. Mills, his brother in law. He pre-empted his land, remained until 1872, and then removed to Washington territory. His was the first family to find a home in this section of the county.

About the same time (1856-57) came James Dormady, who preempted land on section thirty. He left, however, the same season. He finally drifted into the army but afterward returned to this township. Joseph N. Field came in with Mr. Mills in 1856, and claimed the southwest quarter of section thirty four by pre-emption right. He moved to Sioux City during the war, and from there to Chicago, and is now purchasing agent, at Manchester, England, for the great dry goods firm of Marshall Field & Co. He still owns 280 acres of Sioux township land.

Barney Roney was the next to settle. He took the northeast quarter of section twenty four, in 1858. He was killed by his hired man in November, 1859, while quarreling over a bushel of wheat claimed by his murderer. The deed was committed near D. M. Mills' place. There was no attempt at further settlement until the Rebellion and Indian troubles were over.

William Hunter, the next to come into the township, settled on section thirty two a year or two after the war closed, about 1868. No others came until about the time of the building of the Milwaukee railroad in 1874-75.

The first birth in Sioux township was that of John and Henry Roney (twins), born to Mr. and Mrs. Barney Roney, in 1857. The, first death was that of Barney Roney in 1859, as mentioned above. The first marriage was that of D. M. Mills and Sarah A. Robinson in 1859. The first school term was opened in 1868-69. One school was kept near William Hunter's place, on section thirty two, and another near Mr. Mills, on section fourteen. Mr. Hunter was teacher in his district for some time. The first election was held at his school house, too. The railroad was graded through this part of the county in 1873, but not ironed and fully equipped until 1875, after which a new impetus was given the country. Settlers flocked in, and things began to look more like civilized life.

There are now four good school buildings in the township, and an enrollment of fifty scholars. It should be remembered that much of the land in this section of the county is quite rough and hilly, in consequence of which it has not become thickly settled yet. The best lands are confined to the valley portion of the territory.

Interesting Incidents. - To illustrate the fact that an Indian values his life even as his white brother does, the following is given: One day during the first year of Mr. Mills' sojourn in Sioux township, he was alone in his claim cabin, when a tall, warlike Indian popped in on him. Soon another and another came in, all bearing guns. Mr. Mills, the cool, level headed man that he has always proven to be, called the young man who was staying with him on the claim, and handed him a repeating fire arm of some sort, and took another himself, and they then coolly took seats in one end of the cabin. The meantime Indian jargon was being talked by the ten red men then within the building. Of course, the position was not an enviable one, to even Pioneer Mills, yet he made the best of it, bracing his half fainting companion up the best he could. The Indians made no demands, no requests, which seemed all the more strange. They eyed the fire arms, all cocked, ready for deadly service, in case they made an attack. But, strange to relate, the leader shook his head and grunted Ugh! and all left the cabin and soon disappeared in the timber on the Sioux. Mr. Mills' acquaintance with the Indians lead him to believe that when they saw he had weapons and was possessed with a large degree of courage, in coolly confronting ten armed savages, they concluded, however certain they might be of finally overpowering two white men, that the natural result of the attempt would be the killing of at least one poor Indian, and each one of the " braves" felt that he himself was not quite ready to exchange this world for another, hence the quiet retreat. Upon another occasion, during the Indian troubles, a family of seemingly friendly Indians were camped near Mr. Mills' place, and were on good terms with him. There were soldiers sent up along the border to keep matters quiet, and they learned of this lone Indian and his family, but could not find his camp. They came to Mills and demanded that he inform them, whereupon he refused, saying, "You ought to be ashamed of trying to kill that poor, lone, peaceable Indian." These brave (?) soldiers still insisted, but to no avaiL The company dispersed, and finally two came riding swiftly to his cabin, and again demanded of Mills that be comply with their former request, or they should count him as bad as the Indians, and deal with him accordingly. At this time Mr. Mills deliberately pulled from behind his cabin door a gun, which he cocked and leveled at the two United States soldiers, and told them, in words more emphatic than religious or elegant, that if they dared to bring their guns up from their side he would riddle them full of holes. It is needless to say they gave themselves the order, "Right about face," and at once made for their camp.

Return to [ Iowa History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ] [ Iowa Biographies ]

Iowa Counties at this web site Audubon County - Buchanan County - Dickinson County - Fayette County - Hancock County - Iowa County - Madison County - Marion County - Plymouth County - Sac County - Wapello County - Winnebago County - Woodbury County

Also see the local histories for [ CT ] [ IA ] [ IL ] [ IN ] [ KS ] [ ME ] [ MO ] [ MI ] [ NE ] [ NJ ] [ NY ] [ PA ] [ OH ] [ PA ] [ WI ]

All pages copyright 2003-2013. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy