History of Sac Township, Sac County, IA
From: History of Sac County, Iowa
By: William H. Hart
B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
Indianapolis, Indiana 1914


Sac is the extreme southeastern subdivision of Sac county and comprises all of congressional township 36, range 35 west. Calhoun county lies at the east, Coon Valley township to the north, Viola township to the west and Carroll county at the south. It was organized as one of the original townships in the county in 1856 and in 1880 it had been cut down in extent of its territory very greatly and at that date had only five hundred and eighty one population. Its present population, according to the United States census returns for 1910, is one thousand one hundred and twenty five, with Auburn and Grant City, the former having three hundred and ninety nine and the latter having one hundred and sixty two.

The early settlers here were nestled in along the timber lands found skirting the Coon river, in the neighborhood of Grant City, which had a settlement and a mill for corn grinding in the fifties, but was not platted until about 1863, and derived its name from that gallant soldier statesman, U. S. Grant. The Coon makes a sharp horse shoe curve in the northeastern portion of this township, and Grant City was platted on the north and eastern side of this big bend in the river, which afforded, at an early day, ample water power for good milling facilities. The towns and villages of Sac township are Auburn, Grant City and Ulmer, all of which are mentioned at length further on in this article. The TanHa branch of the great Northwestern railroad system runs across Sac township. from east to west, almost directly along the central section line. The newly constructed Omaha and Fort Dodge branch of the Illinois Central railroad traverses the northwest corner of the township. coming in from the north on section 2 and leaving from section 18. The history of Grant City, Auburn and Ulmer will give the names of many who first settled thins part of the county.


Auburn is one of the three towns within Sac township, the others being Grant City, and Ulmer, a station on the Illinois Central railroad. Auburn is situated on sections 23 and 24, of township 86, range 35. It was platted July 31, 1886, by the Western Town Lot and Land Company. It is a station point on the Chicago & Northwestern line, the second station east from Wall Lake, and is on the east line of Sac county. It really caused the town of Grant City, a mile or so to the north and west, to go down. It was incorporated as a town early in its history and has had for its mayors the following gentlemen: W. J. Dixon, G. M. Parker, P. R. Moseley, Otto Behrend, Otto Garnets, A. Beck, P. J. Barry, and J. Simpson. Its officers in 1914 are: Mayor, J. Simpson; clerk, C. C. Basler; treasurer, Paul Ruckrow; marshal, W. D. Carroll; councilmen. W. H. Lesley, H. F. Garnatz, C. F. Brower. W. E. Comstock, M. Brooks. A private stock company operates, and has since about 1900, a gasoline gas lighting plant here, which provides lights for public and private use, as well as for street lighting purposes.

The present churches of the town are all mentioned in the Church chapter in this volume and consist of the Presbyterian, German Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Latter Day Saints. The lodges include the Masonic, Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the various insurance orders (see Lodge chapter).

The Auburn postoffice is a fourth class office and from it runs out two free rural delivery routes. Its postmasters have been M. Buehre, H. G. F. Muller, E. H. Merrell (who held it eighteen years), E. Reardon, since October, 1913.

This, like all railroad towns of these days, grew rapidly at first. Almost all branches of trade soon sprung up here, taking the trade and general business that had for years gone to Grant City. The business interests in Auburn at this date (January, 1914) are in the hands of the following persons:

Agricultural Implements - E. Reardon.
Banking - Farmers and Merchants.
Barber Shops - C. F. Brower.
Brick and Drain Tile Works - The Straight family.
Blacksmith Shop - William Rettig.
Dray Line - E. Basto.
Drugs - J. Kessler, C. C. Basler.
Elevator - Howard & Barry.
Furniture - T. J. Barry.
Garage - Grey & Dahlquist.
General Dealers - F. R. Brennan, Lee Jones.
Grocery - S. Mott.
Hotel - The Auburn House, G. H. Bruning.
Jeweler - S. Mott.
Lumber - W. T. Joyce Co.
Livery - M. G. Golden.
Millinery - Miss Minnie Basler.
Meats - L. A. Sherman, J. A. Green.
Newspaper - The Record, by E. H. Merrell.
Public Hall - Over Bank block.
Physicians - Drs. H. L. Fohes and P. J. Barry.
Pool Hall - L. Reinhart.
Restaurants - Amos Rettig.
Stock Dealers - W. H. Lesle.
Veterinary Surgeon - A. Beck.
Variety Store - E. H. Merrell.
Wagon Repairs - William Rettig.

The chief industry of Auburn, at this date, is the brick and tile works, in which from forty to sixty men find employment the year round, in the manufacture of a very superior article of drain tile and building brick, with building blocks and other articles of the clay product. These works are supplied with the raw material from beds of clay, gravel and sand situated near Grant City, from which the material is taken by conveyor cars on a system of wire cables, for a distances of over a quarter of a mile and running over the Coon river valley and its winding stream. From the south side of the valley it is conveyed in steam cars pulled by a dummy steam engine to the works, proper, in Auburn. In the month of December, 1913, this company, composed of the three Straights, shipped one hundred and thirty seven car loads of their products to various parts of the country. They are now far behind their orders.

In April, 1889, there was a creamery in operation at Auburn, of a very high type. It was the best constructed one in all western Iowa. In addition to receiving milk for the separators, it also collected cream from the surrounding country in large quantities.


This is one of the oldest places in the county, but has, by reason of the building of the railroads north and south of it, become a mere hamlet, almost gone into decline. It now has but one store, and that is operated by Mrs. H. F. Schultz. The postoffice was discontinued in December, 1912, and a number of the citizens there get their mail daily over the rural free delivery from Auburn, by having their boxes placed in a long row in front of the old postoffice and store building. This town has for its site one of the prettiest in the county, overlooking as it does the picturesque valley of the Coon river, skirted with a fine grove of native timber which naturally attracted the pioneers. The water power at this point was utilized for many years in the way of a saw mill by George Wright, who also had a corn cracker in connection, until he, in company with O. R. Jones, enlarged the mill and added a grist mill, which produced flour for many of the settlers in Crawford, Sac, Buena Vista, Calhoun and Greene counties. The mill dam was for many years a success and the water power excellent, but finally it gave way and steam power was installed instead. It was operated until about 1905 and then torn down. A part of the machinery found its way to Dakota and the building material was sold at home and converted into other buildings. The original machinery for this mill was brought from Fort Dodge over the trackless prairies and unbridged streams. This mill was originally built in 1856 - the first in Sac county.

At one time Grant City was a busy mart, where came many pioneer men to do both milling and trading. There were at one time newspapers, a good hotel, three stores of general merchandise, excellent schools, and the best roller skating rink in the whole Northwest. In 1865 pioneer R. Ellis came there, where he still resides, and says when he came the town had a blacksmith shop, run by William Impson, a hotel, a saw mill and many slab shanties and log cabins scattered here and there over the platting. The town was not incorporated until about 1904. This was brought about by the fact that the school laws of Iowa did not allow better school appropriations in such towns than it did in the common country districts, and the people here in Grant City were proud of their public schools and desired a larger appropriation, so incorporated and hence are independent in school matters.

The churches of today are the Methodist Episcopal, served by the pastor from Lake City; the Seventh Day Adventists, which at one time was strong. but on account of removals has been greatly reduced in its membership. They, as well as the Methodists, have a good church building. The old Masonic lodge was removed td the railroad town, Auburn, when that town 'had become of sufficient size to support such a fraternity. The only order now at Grant City is the insurance order known as the American Yoeman.

Among the old mayors of Grant City may be named R. Ellis, S. H. Bates. William Shannon and George Higgins. The 1914 officers of the incorporation are: Mayor, James Birth; clerk, S. H. Bates; treasurer, N. A. Impson

Grant City is situated on sections II and 14, township 86, range 35. It is in the big bend - the horse shoe - of the Coon river, and was platted in Civil war times, and bid fair to become a rival of Sac City.

The old state atlas published by Andrus, in 1874, says of Grant City: "This is a village located on section 14, township 86, range 35, in the southeastern part of Sac county. Its location is on the east bank of the North Raccoon river, in a grove of timber. There is also a good mill power on the river at this point. The village was laid out in 1863. It has a Baptist. Episcopal and Methodist church, several mills, and stores carrying general stocks of goods."


This plate is situated in section 8, township 86, range 35, on the Illinois Central railroad, from Fort Dodge to Omaha, and was platted November 21, 1900, by Carrie and W T. Martin. It has made a fine growth in the few years of its existence. The postoffice here is a fourth class office, established in 1901, and has had these postmasters: Thomas W. Martin, from Igor to 19o8; Dr. E. W. Bookhart, 1908 to 1911; C. E. Barnes, present incumbent. The banking interests here are carried on by the Farmers Savings Bank, established in 1911. The only church society of the town is the Presbyterian church. The business of the place in January, 1914, was conducted as follows: Dry goods and groceries, Barnes & Son; hardware and grocery, J. N. Hawks; blacksmithing, Leo Flintje; elevator, Farmers Grain Company, with L. M. Wither, manager; lumber, by the Joyce Lumber Company, with V. T. Butrick, manager; stock dealers, L. M. Wicher & Company; implement store, Hawks & Webster; pool and lunch room, C. R. Cooley.

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