History of Agency Township, Wapello County, IA
From: History of Wapello County, Iowa
By Harrison L. Waterma, Supervising Editor
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. Chicago 1914


This township is composed of sections 19, 3o and 31, of congressional township 72, range 12; also sections I, 2, 3 and that part of 4, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 north of the river in congressional township 71, range 13; also sections 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 34, 35, and 36, in township 72, range 13. The north end of the township is fine prairie land, which has been so improved that many fine farms are in evidence. The middle part is hilly but good grazing land. There is also considerable timber. Several coal mines are open among the hills. Alpine Mine is situated near Cliffland. There is also good stone for commercial purposes. The bottom land is very rich. Corn, oats, wheat, hay and fruits grow in profusion. The number of acres farmed is 11,180. The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad enters the township on section 31 and leaves it at the southwest corner of section 27.

The civil Township of Agency was organized April 16, 1851, with the polling place at Agency. Jesse Brookshire, Thomas Wilcox and Norman Goodspeed were judges at the first election which was held that spring.

The establishment of the Sac and Fox Indian Agency in this locality under the command of Gen. Joseph M. Street, in 1838, was the forerunner of the settlement of the locality by whites. In April, 1839, General Street arrived with his family and took up permanent quarters here. Other white people soon followed him and an interesting account of the Indians in this reservation and the pioneers who first came to this locality, penned by Maj. John Beach, who succeeded General Street at the time of his death in 1840, appears in another part of this volume. The history of the agency is practically that of the township. The building of pioneer homes and stores was commenced here and established. "It is a fact not generally known," relates S. B. Evans, in the Wapello County History, published in 1901, "that the buildings and improvements of the old Indian agency were made through the aid of slave labor. The contractor was a Missourian, who owned a large number of slaves and who brought them into the territory of Iowa and held them here to service and labor during the erection of the agency buildings."

At the time, and very soon after the opening of the "New Purchase" in May, 1843, many settlers came into the township. Among them were James Weir, who later was elected probate judge; James Stevens, S. S. Dwire, Charles F. Harrow, Joseph Myers, William H. Cogswell, Jesse Brookshire, Reuben Myers, H. B. Hendershott; there were also the sons of General Street - William B., Alexander and J. H. D. Street.

Other pioneers who should be mentioned were EdWard and Charles Dudley, Walter and Hugh Connelly, John Fallen, J. S. Wheaton, H. C. Humbert, Maj. S. J. Creamer, H. C. Van Zant, Samuel Wilcoxen, John Q. A. Dawson, John Phillips, George L. Nye, David Farnsworth, N. A. Woodford, Charles Connelly, J. M. Murray, David Sautbine, George Reynolds and his sons, J. T., W. C. and W. H. Reynolds.

Maj. John Beach was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, February 22, 1812. He was appointed a cadet at West Point Military Academy, from which he graduated at the age of twenty, in 1832, receiving a commission as second lieutenant in the First Regiment United States Infantry, under Capt. Zachary Taylor, who became President of the United States. Upon the death of Gen. Joseph M. Street, in 1840, Major Beach received the appointment of agent to the Sac and Fox tribe of Indians and filled the office with much credit to himself and the Government until 1847, when he was obliged to resign, as his hearing had become seriously affected. From 1847 to 1863, Major Beach engaged in mercantile pursuits in Agency City and from the latter year until his death, which occurred August 31, 1874, devoted himself to literature. In 1851, Major Beach married Caroline Sprague, daughter of a pioneer, who located first at Walnut Grove, in 1845, and in 1849, at Agency City. Two years after the death of Major Beach she became the wife of John Hannawalt, a carpenter, but continued to live in her old home, which was the first brick residence erected in Vapello County.

Elias Myers was in Agency Township a short time after the "opening." G. W. Knight was on the ground at the opening of Wapello County to settlers in 1843. He was a native of Maryland. The farm he entered some years later became known and was designated as the old Rail place. Here Z. T. Knight, a son, was born March 8, 1847, and this was among the earliest births in Wapello County of a white child.

J. S. Phillips, a native of Indiana, moved to Van Buren County, Iowa, in 1839, and with the opening of Wapello County to settlers in 1843, took up a claim in section 27, Agency Township. On this land Mr. Phillips built a log cabin and lived there until 1856, greatly improving his property in the meantime. In the year last mentioned he removed to Pleasant Township and became a valued member of the community.

Mary A. Harrow, daughter of Charles F. Harrow, came with her parents to Wapello County in 1843 and was married to James Stevens in 1844. Mr. Stevens died in 1868 and the Widow Stevens took for her second husband, John Hardin, who settled in Wapello County in 1855. All of these pioneers settled in Agency Township.

Charles Dudley was among the first settlers in Wapello County. He located on section 30, Agency Township, in 1843, having entered land there, which he tilled and improved: Mr. Dudley was a man of intensive activity and good judgment. He became a large landowner and influential in the growth and prosperity of the community. Among other offices ably filled by him was that of state representative.

James Daniels and Thomas W. Bradley were residents of Agency City in 1843. Octavia Daniels, daughter of James Daniels, married Thomas W. Bradley in 1845. As will be seen, these people were among the first settlers in the county.

Among the pioneers who settled in Wapello County in 1843 was Daniel Traub He first located in Agency Township and then in Center.

Stephen Boyce was also of the band of J843, who settled in this county and converted the prairie soil into cultivated fields. Mr. Boyce entered land in section 22 and remained there for many years.

David Clodfelter was early on the scene, coming to the township in 1844, from Indiana, although he was a native of North Carolina.

Charles H. Smith settled on section 30, Agency Township, in 1844, and was the father of eight children. He died in 1861. Two sons, Charles N. and James S. Smith, began merchandising in Agency City in 1838 and long continued in the business.

S. K. Cremer came here in 1844 and entered 16o acres of land. With several hundred acres later in his possession he also owned fifteen acres in Agency City. Mr. Cremer was one of the representative men of the county and among other offices he ably filled was that of a member of the General Assembly. L. K. Cremer was born here in 1851.

W. W. Connelly settled on the old "Agency Farm," intended as an experiment for the Indians, in 1845. Charles Connelly was born in the township in 1848.

James E. Bedell immigrated to this county from Indiana in 1846 and took up farming in Agency Township.

D. S. Farnsworth was one of the first millers to locate in Wapello County. He bought horse power circular sawmill at Agency City in 1847 and in 1851 erected a steam sawmill, to which he attached a grist mill in 1852. Two years later he built a more modern mill, both for grist and lumber, which was long known as the Agency City Grist Mill. This he sold in 1864 and in 1871 built another mill that was operated by him many years.

Edward Dudley was born in Charleston, Maine, and immigrated to Ohio. He located in Agency Township in 1847. He was a minister of the Freewill Baptist Church at Agency City several years.

N. A. Woodford peddled clocks in Wapello County in 1847, making his headquarters at Agency. He then opened a general store and became one of the leading men of the place.

H. C. Van Lant settled in this county in 1848 and in 185o went on to a farm in section 36, which he cultivated for a long period of years.

Elijah Johnson, an Indianian, settled here in 1848.

J. S. Smith was born in Wapello County in 1849.

David Sautbine was a "Buckeye" and served in the Mexican war. His natural bent was tilling of the soil and in 1849 he came to Vapello County and found land in Agency Township that suited well his purpose. He purchased a farm and lived to see the township thickly populated and thriving.

Joseph Foreman removed from Ohio to Iowa in 1844, and in 1850 became a citizen of Wapello County. His first activity was that of farming. In a few years after his arrival he opened a bakery in Agency City, one of the first in the county.

S. M. Brown, a native of Indiana, engaged in farming in this township in 1850.

William Reeves and wife, who was a daughter of William Murphy, settled on section 22, this township, in 1850. Mr. Reeves died in 1876.

George Springer became a settler of this township in 1850, coming that year from Maryland.

Andrew J. Headley is the name of an Agency pioneer of 1851.

J. Q. A. Dawson was born in Maryland. From Ohio he crossed the plains to California in 1850. He returned to Ohio in 1851 and the same year located in Agency City, where he was a general merchant for many years. He had a good Civil war record and held most, if not all, the township offices.

John Green was a giant Kentuckian, who located in Agency Township in 1851. For five years he followed farming and then opened the Quiet House in Agency, presiding over its destinies ten years. Again he took up farming, this time on a tract of land about a mile southeast of Agency. The Greens moved to Kansas in 1878.

Leaving his native state, New York, in 185r, William Reeve arrived in Wapello County, and on the 22d day of March purchased a farm in Agency Township, where he resided until the day of his death. A son, William, who came to the county with his parents, lived on this farm for several years after the death of his father.

Joseph P. Grout took up his home in this township in 1853, going onto a farm and greatly improving its resources. He later manufactured the Challenge churn.

In 1856 Andrew Simonds of Maryland settled on a farm of 400 acres in this township, which he rented. He went to the Civil war, returned to this township and prospered.


The land upon which the agency was located, and the "Pattern Farm,": mentioned in Major Beach's article, was entered under authority of the government, and for its use by Capt. George Wilson, son in law of General Street. The agency, until the land was opened to settlement, was made up of a number of buildings belonging to the Government, but in 1843, Shaphat Dwire put up a building, and about the latter part of the year, or early in 1844, opened a general store. He was the pioneer merchant not only of Agency, but of Wapello County. This was the beginning of Agency, separate and apart from the Indian agency. The original plat of the town is not in existence, but it is presumed that Agency was laid out in the spring of 1844 The oldest plan extant was made in 1848, by Capt. George Wilson, who was a civil engineer, and a graduate of West Point. The drawing was made in a skilful manner, and had also attached a map of the county.

Rev. B. A. Spaulding, who figures so largely in the church history of Wapello County, visited the agency in 1844 and established a Congregational Church. Subsequently, he wrote entertainingly of the occurrence. He says: "We went to the Indian agency in Wapello County, on the New Purchase. On our way to that place, we passed through a part of the country which had been settled but two or three months. It was literally a new country. Many of the settlers had not struck a furrow or erected a fence. All that reminded us that we were in a settled country was the occasional sight of an uncompleted cabin, in which we found families staying rather than living. They were not only destitute of conveniences, but were so open that the family could be seen about as well from the outside as by going into the door, or rather the hole that was left for a door. How those families were to be kept comfortable, and how they were to be supplied with provisions during the inclement season, were questions that often occurred to us. We found but few inhabitants at the agency. A few were anxious to have the Gospel preached to them at that place, and expressed a strong desire to have one of our number settle amongst them. It will probably be a thickly settled place within a few years. A town has been laid out near the agency house, and such is the character of the land and the facilities for procuring timber, that settlers will soon be induced to come in. A good, faithful, persevering minister might, in the course of a few years, build up a flourishing church there. We visited the grave of General Street, the late Indian agent, and also the grave of Wapello, an Indian chief, which are side by side. The tribe of which Wapello was chief was devotedly attached to General Street and his family, and, as an expression of their friendship, they presented him with a section of land containing 640 acres, which is now in possession of his widow."

On another occasion Reverend Spaulding gives one a further insight into the early efforts of the people of the community toward forming religious societies, in the following words:

"On the 27th of October, a Congregational Church was formed in this town, consisting of six members, three males and three females. There were, however, seven other candidates for admission, who were unable to be present. Meetings held on Friday and Saturday nights and on Sunday during the day and at night were large and interesting. On the next Sabbath, a Methodist class was formed, embracing about twenty. A county bible society has been formed in this place, and also at Ottumwa, the county seat of Wapello.

"There has been a good degree of religious feeling in the circle in which I have labored, with some interesting cases of revival in individual hearts, both of professors and non professors. A small Congregational Church has been formed in this place (Agency City), and the prospect is that it will be considerably increased within a few weeks, chiefly, however, by those who are already professors of religion. There has also been considerable interest among the Methodist and Baptists, and several additions to their churches. There is also a Sabbath school connected with the Methodist Church in the southern part of the county."

The first Methodist society organized in the county was that of the Agency church, which was founded by Rev. Thomas Kirkpatrick, whose name is indissolubly associated with all early Methodist movements in this region. He organized the church in 1844, at about the same time that Reverend Spaulding was active in bringing his flock together. The Congregational society has long ceased to hold meetings in Agency. The Methodist and Baptist societies are still in existence and have good substantial houses of worship. The former was erected in 1854, and the latter in 1858.

The first schoolhouse in the township was built in 1844. It was 16x16, and constructed of logs and clapboards. This was also the first schoolhouse built in the county, and the school was presided over by Mary Starr. Among her pupils were Dan A. and James La Force; George, Wesley, Alexander, Emeline, Pearl, Julian and Caroline Griggsby; Edwin, Catherine, Elizabeth, Eli, Gideon, Chris, J. R. and George Myers. This old log building soon gave way to a frame and then a splendid brick structure was erected, where the children of the community are afforded educational advantages not thought of by their forebears.

E. D. Myers was born in this township in 1844. This was probably the first birth in Agency Township. The first death was that of Gideon Myers.

The first marriage ceremony was Performed at the wedding of Emeline Griggsby and Eli Myers.

The only industry started in the township was a grist mill, built by David Farnsworth, who run it by horse power. Some time in the '60s C. A. Bryan and sons purchased the Farnsworth Mill, in which a run of stone was installed, and later machinery was set up for the manufacture of woolen yarns.

The town was quite a busy little trading center for a number of years, but the construction of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad brought the place nearer to the county seat, and the greater part of the business was transferred to that place. However, Agency is situated in the midst of a splendid farming region, and still has a comparatively good trade in that locality. It is a station on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, with a good depot building, and the population is 322. In 1875, there were 638 souls in the town. Agency is also an attraction to visitors to this section of the country on account of its historic interest, and the fact that the graves of the old Indian agent, General Street, and the Indian chief, Wapello, after whom the county is named, are valued spots in the village burial ground.


The Sac and Fox Agency postoffice was established December 23, 1843. William B. Street was appointed postmaster on that date. He was succeeded, November 21,1844, by Shaphat Dwire, the pioneer merchant. He remained in office until November 28, 1845, when he gave way to James C. Ramsey, and on May 14, 1849, the name of the office was changed to Agency City, with Thomas M. Mackerel as postmaster. His successors are as follows: Joseph Myers, September 15, 1849; William B. Street, June 30, 1851; Joseph Myers, November 17, 1851; F. M. Knight, April 9, 1861; George F. Knight, April 2, 1862; James Montgomery, November 27, 1863; Joseph Myers, September 3, 1866; J. C. Johnson, March 19, 1869; H. B. Wagers, March 7, 1871. On June 14, 1883, the name of the office was again changed, this time to Agency. H. B. Wagers was the first postmaster, succeeding himself. He was followed by E. T. Sage, July 23, 1885; John T. Reynolds, March 25, 1889; E. T. Sage, July 3, 1893; John Fullen, June 26, 1894; George L. Nye, October 27, 1897. Mr. Nye has now been in the office seventeen years continuously.


Agency was incorporated as a town January 6, 1859, upon application of a committee of citizens composed of J. O. A. Dawson, B. B. Allen, J. T. Rowe, Thomas Lyon and Joseph R. Myers. The first election was held in March, 1859, and Jesse Myers was chosen mayor; J. H. Cartwright, recorder; J. O. A. Dawson, Edward Dudley, Samuel Packwood, Matthew Hixon, E. D. Black, trustees; E. F. Hoffslatter, marshal; J. S. Wheaton, treasurer.


Agency had a newspaper as early as the year 1869, when the Agency City Newsboy was established by William Axhine. The publication was continued until the spring of 1871, when the plant was moved to Chariton.

The Agency Independent was brought from Eldon in the spring of 1874, and was edited by C. L. Morehouse. W. F. Moeller had the paper in 1875. C. J. Best became the proprietor in February, 1878, and after a few years of indifferent success discontinued its publication. Since then Agency has depended upon her neighbors for the news.


The Masons organized a lodge in Agency on June 6, 1850. Its name is Olive Branch, No. 21. The charter members were: S. P. Yeomans, W. M.; Willis Griffing, S. W.; S. E. Griggs, J. W.; Luther M. Davis, S. D.; John Wiley, J. D.; James Weir, secretary; John Priest, treasurer; William Griggs, tyler.

Magnolia Lodge, No. 24, I. O. O. F., was chartered October 27, 1852. The encampment was chartered October 21, 1874.

Evening Star Lodge, Rebekah degree, No. 81, was organized October 19, 1876, with the following members: G. L. Littler, Mrs. M. J. Littler, F. G. Turner, Mrs. M. V. Turner, A. Wing, Mrs. M. J. Wing, William Hill, Mrs. N. Hill, E. T. Sage, Mrs. E. J. Sage, G. W. Shaw, William Hatfield, Mrs. M. E. Hatfield, William H. Brooks, Mrs. L. Brooks, S. Ryan, Mrs. M. Ryan, William Cole, Mrs. M. Cole, J. Hardin, Mrs. M. Hardin, N. J. Richards, Mrs. M. Richards, C. Wood, Mrs. J. Wood, M. J. Warren, Mrs. D. Warren, G. W. Clevenger, Mrs. M. Clevenger, and J. W. Dunbar.

Crystal Lodge, No. 30, Knights of Pythias, was organized February 8, 1876, and had the following officers: J. A. Israel, P. C.; Eugene Chilson, C. C.; C. L. Littler, V. C.; G. B. Wheaton, P.; W. J. Warren, M. of E.; N. I. Richards, M. of F.; S. Ryan, K. of R. and S.; A. Wing, M. at A.; J. Q. Wood, I. G.; John Hannawalt, O. G.


The Agency Bank was established in 1906, with a capital of $10,000. Sam Mahon is president; J. D. Newell, vice president; Watson Enyart, cashier; Retta Enyart, assistant cashier. It has a surplus of $5,000, and deposits of $160,000.

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