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


Competine Township is the extreme northeastern township in Wapello County. Keokuk County is to the north of it and Jefferson on the east. Pleasant Township forms the southern boundary line and Highland is on the west. Its territory is composed of Congressional Township 73, range 12. This is one of the best townships in the county. Its prairie land is very productive. 22,004 acres are under cultivation. There is some limestone of commercial value and coal in this part of the county. The land is drained by Competine and Wolf creeks.

Competine Township was organized June 3, 1844. The first election was held at the house of Mahion Wright, and the first judges were Joseph Leighton, W. H. McGuire and Mahion Wright. Its fine lands attracted some of the first families venturing into the "New Purchase" immediately after the opening. Among them may be mentioned the family of Joseph Leighton, Mahion Wright, Jesse Scott, Dr. Lewis, Alexander Smith, W. H. McGuire, Doctor Troxel, William Payne and others.

Joseph Leighton, with his wife and son, Alvin C., became settlers here at the opening, in 1843. Joseph took up a claim and followed farming until 1846. In the fall of 1847, the family moved to Ottumwa. For an extended sketch of the Leightons, see second volume.

A. Durbin was an Ohioan, who came to Wapello County in 1843. He was a successful farmer.

Thomas M. Dickens came from Ohio in 1845, and settled on section 32, Competine Township. G. W., Harvey and M. A. Dickens settled here in 1846. G. W. is still a resident.

G. W. Rabout was born in Wapello County in 1847, and for many years was one of the industrious and energetic farmers of Competine Township.

Solomon McReynolds became a resident of Competine Township in 1849, and with his family, was a son, M. L. McReynolds. The family became prominent in the community.

Benjamin B. Phelps, of Ohio, located in this township in 1852, and died in 1875, while on a visit to his son, living in Franklin County, Iowa. Another son, Anselum B. Phelps, also came in 1852.

J. C. Ives came in the fall of 1850; John Phelps in 1852; R. T. Hawthorne and P. M. Warder in 1853; E. C. Thompson in 1855; and David Siceloff in 1856.

John Lanz was a native of Germany, who came to Wapello County to carve out for himself and family a home in a land free from vassalage and military despotism. He selected Competine Township for his purpose in 1854, and located on section 6, where a son, William J. Lanz, was born in 1856.

Notwithstanding strenuous and persistent efforts were made to secure material pertinent to the history of Competine Township; but little was discohered relating to the main points of interest. A few families who early settled in this locality still remain but their memories of early events, while given in a general way, fail them in recalling names and dates, hence their recollections are not so clear as to warrant the writer of history to place dependence on the declarations to the extent of transcribing them to these pages. This explanation might also be made in relation to most, if not all, the townships in the county. Unfortunately, too much time has been permitted to pass before the important work of collecting data was begun. The men and women who came here, entered land, opened farms and built up the various community interests of the county, are either dead and gone to their final reward, or moved to distant places. But few remain who can tell the story of the early days and the majority of them can only tell the story in a general way, not being able to recall the date of an important occurrence or the locality where such a one settled, or where the first church or schoolhouse had been built. This handicaps the historian and leaves him with only one recourse - that is an explanation of the situation. However, it is learned that within a few months after a few habitations had been put up by the pioneers, a school was opened for the children and soon thereafter a log schoolhouse was built and was called the Laurel schoolhouse. The building was also used for religious meetings and entertainments gotten up by the neighbors. One of the first teachers was Nancy Lemons, who subsequently married John Weaver. Among the children who attended the school were John and Peter Payne, children of William Payne. One of the Payne boys is now a member of the law firm of Payne & Goodson, at Bloomfield, Iowa; James and Thomas Dickens, long since deceased; Catherine, Henry, Elizabeth, G. W. and Scott Dickens, children of F. M. Dickens. G. W. Dickens is president of the Parson Savings Bank.

A Dunkard church was organized when the township was still young, and the first meetings were held at the house of George Harman. A Methodist church was organized at Pleasant Hill soon after. Among the first members of the latter society were the Shearers, McVeys, Hayes, Slayters and McCougers.

Solomon McReynolds built a grist mill and sawmill, which was run by horsepower. Here the settlers took their grist, and also logs, to he converted into lumber for the erection of homes and outbuildings.


Parson is a little town - a station on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, which was laid out for the Milwaukee Land Company, by Burton Hanson, vice president, on section 16, August 1, 1902. It contains about two hundred inhabitants, who maintain a church and school, support three or four general stores and a bank.

The Parson Savings Bank was established in 1905 under the laws of the State of Iowa, with a capital of $10,000. G. W. Dickens is president; A. G. Harrow, vice president; F. L. Warders, cashier. The institution, while comparatively young and in a small community, is well supported. The last report of the bank showed a surplus of $5,000, and deposits of $5,000.

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