Polk Township is situated in the western part of Wapello County and is bounded on the north by Columbia and
Cass townships; on the east by Center and Cass townships; on the south by Adams Township; and on the west by Monroe
County. It comprises all of congressional townships 72, range 15, except sections 1, 2, 3 and 4. The land is high
rolling prairie, which is drained by Avery and Bear creeks. There is considerable coal and some limestone. The
Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad enters the township on section 24 and makes its exit at the southeastern
corner of section 31. The township was organized in the same year that Iowa was admitted into the Union on April
14, 1846. The first election was held at the house of Lewis Myers and the judges were H. M. Smith, Lewis Myers
and James A. Wood.
It has been at this late date practically impossible to find any one living who is able to give the names of the
first settlers in this township. It is known, however, that many who have already been mentioned as settling in
other townships contiguous hereto, soon became residents of Polk. Among the first ones to locate here were H. M.
Smith, James A. Wood, Lewis Myers and Absalom Brooks.
John Harlan came in 1849, and was one of the successful Polk Township farmers. He served on the board of supervisors,
and held other local offices. U. L. Harlan also settled here in 1849.
Thomas Lottridge, an Ohioan by birth, entered a tract of land in Polk Township in 1849, but did not begin farming
it until 1855. This was Mr. Lottridge's home until death came to him in 1880.
James M. Chisman was born in Virginia and was a farmer by occupation. He removed to Indiana at an early age, and
tilled the soil until the year 1850, when he removed to Iowa, and located in Polk Township, Wapello County, where
he purchased a farm and cultivated it until 1886, in which year he passed to his eternal reward. His son, Benjamin
F. Chisman, married Elizabeth Wolf, daughter of B. D. Wolf, a pioneer of 1855.
Curtis Chisman came here from Indiana in 1850. He married Eleanor Brooks, born in Wapello County in 1844. J. J.
Chisman located here in 1854. Curtis retired from the farm some years ago and became a resident of Ottumwa. His
death occurred in 1913.
Andrew E. Fagerstrom immigrated to the United States in 1846. Five years later he settled in Polk Township, Mr.
Fagerstrom was highly esteemed and his neighbors placed him in several local offices.
Charles Johnson became a settler of this county in 1853. He was a Civil war veteran.
William Venator settled in this township in 1853. He married Sarah M. Lindsey in 1877.
Sven Larson, after coming to the county in 1854, located in Ottumwa. The year 1857 found him on a farm in Polk
Dominik Schlagater, a breeder of thoroughbred stock, located in this township in 1854. He was well known among
stock breeders, and his services in judging cattle were always in demand at the local and other fairs.
John Swen was born in Sweden. He began farming in Polk Township in 1854, and was successful in his operations.
Jacob Siberell came from Ohio in 1855 and settled in Wapello County. Mr. Siberell was a member of the State Legislature.
One of the first schoolhouses built in the township was for the White Oak School. It was the traditional log cabin
and was built in the northeast corner of the township.
Abner Beagle, father of the old Civil war veteran, John Beagle, moved into the township in 1853, and taught that
winter in this building. He took up his residence in a claphoarded log house, which is still standing on section
36, and now owned by a son, Abner Beagle. The land was entered by Absalom Brooks, father of Mrs. John Beagle, who
sold it to Zephaniah Holcomb. John Beagle attended the Thayer School in 1853. The old schoolhouse stood either
On section 24 or 25, and the school was taught at that time by George Thayer. Among his pupils were his own children,
three or four of Henry Kuhns', two of the Brooks family and one or two of the Ware family.
Religious services were held in the Thayer schoolhouse for several years, when a house of worship was erected by
the Methodists at Christianburg a hamlet long since out of existence.
On section 23 is Bidwell, a station on the Milwaukee Railroad, and Willard, another station, located on section
33. There are mining shafts at both places. Munterville is an old hamlet located on section 18. Here there are
a few inhabitants, general store, a church and schoolhouse.