Richland Township is composed of congressional township 73, range 14, excepting the southwest corner of section
31, which is cut off by the river. The township was organized June 3, 1844, and the first election was held at
the house of Thomas Pollock. The judges were Jacob C. Mosin, Sidney H. Saylor and Cyrus Spurlock.
The land is drained by Cedar and Fudge creeks, and is rolling prairie. underlaid with lime stone and coal. Carver,
two miles south of Kirkville, was the mining center of this county at one time. In 1913 there were some 17,361
acres of farm land, from which were garnered 243,630 bushels of corn; 79,480 bushels of oats; 28,309 bushels of
wheat; 2,870 tons of hay; 3,117 bushels of potatoes; 119 bushels of apples. The farmers also raised 3,855 head
of hogs and 1,441 head of cattle.
Richland Township lies in the northern tier and is bounded on the west by Columbia, on the north by Mahaska County,
on the east by Highland Township, and on the south by Center. If was settled in 1843 and among the first corners
may be mentioned the Peihams, Browns, Kirkpatricks, David Whitcomb, John and J. G. Baker, Isaac Fisher, the Hardestys,
Pollocks, Mosins, Saylors, Spurlocks, Mantis, Rosses, Coles, Sinards, Vanderpolls, Ahernathys, Comstocks, John
D. Bevens, William A. Vinsell, John M. Spurgeon, the McGlassons, Hills and Baylisses.
B. C. Pelham was born in the State of Ohio and learned coopering. In 1843 he came to Iowa with his family and stayed
for a while at the home of the Indian agent, General Street, at Agency City. Some time later the Pelhams were at
Eddyville, guests of the trader, whose name has adorned the town, and in 1849 located in Richland Township. After
his death, a son, William S. Pelham, who came in 1843, with his parents, assisted his mother in managing the homestead,
finally becoming a merchant of Kirkville.
Hugh Brown immigrated from Ireland to the "land of the free" when a boy of fifteen years and lived in
Philadelphia three years. He then removed to Ohio. At the time of "the opening," in 1843, he was among
the first to enter the confines of the future County of Wapello. He at once purchased a claim of one hundred and
sixty acres in Richland township and forty acres of timber land, upon which part of Ottumwa is built. Upon his
arrival there were but two houses in Ottumwa. Building a cabin on his claim, he otherwise improved the property
and was one of the energetic and prosperous farmers of the community. This hardy pioneer left the farm in 1861,
and took up his residence in the county seat, having been elected clerk of the district court, an office he capably
filled two successive terms. The year 1870 found him back on the farm in Richland. Mr. Brown filled many positions
of trust, to which he was elected by the votes of an admiring constituency.
There were a host of hardy men and women who crossed the line upon the Government's signal, May 1, 1843, and started
life anew, in this wild prairie country or timber land of Wapello County. Dr. A. B. Comstock and wife were of these
and besides his own, there were in the summer of 1843 twenty four families in Richland Township. Dr. Comstock became
a man of importance and value to his neighbors. He practiced his profession of medicine twenty five years and for
a year after coming here he was one of the only three physicians in the county. His later years were devoted to
John Kirkpatrick was born in Ohio and immigrated to Iowa from Illinois in 1844. He settled on a farm in Richland
Township and after many years of industry retired to Kirkville, a small town founded by him and taking a part of
his name. H. K. Kirkpatrick, a son, now living in Ottumwa, was two years of age when his parents settled here.
John Kirkpatrick was a member of the board of supervisors.
Thomas Hardesty was one of the very early settlers of Wapello County, the year of his location here being 1845.
Mr. Hardesty was an excellent farmer and business man, his industry realizing over one thousand acres of land.
He settled on section 22.
Abraham Sinard was a Wapello pioneer of 1845. His daughter, Alice J. Sinard, married James M. Ogden, an early settler,
who lived on the Sinard homestead, on section 15, many years.
A. J. Vanderpoll, a Hollander, came to the United States in 1847, and in May of that year settled here on a farm.
He was industrious and successful in his undertakings.
John A. Abernathy left his native Virginia for Ohio when fourteen years of age and three years later removed to
Indiana, from which state he immigrated to Iowa in 1847, and located at Agency City. He conducted a hotel there
until 1851, when he removed to Richland Township, and began. farming. Here a son, James M. Abernathy, was born
in 1852. He married Sarah Comstock, daughter of Dr. A. B. Comstock, a pioneer.
R. H. Tindal located on a farm in this township in 1848. He was a carpenter and followed his trade in the community.
David McCullough and family settled here in 1850. Samuel McCullough, his son, was a young man at the time and assisted
his father materially in opening a farm and improving it.
George W. Pike came into this township in the spring of 1850 and engaged in farming.
Z. W. Wood came to Richland in 1850.
Benjamin Carpenter removed from Ohio to Iowa in 1850 and settled in this township, on section 36 Later he purchased
another farm on the same section and died there in 1853. His son, Luther M. Carpenter, secured the homstead and
lived There many years.
R. E. Williams came from Ohio in 1851 and became a resident of this township. He was a veteran of the Civil war.
William Hirst crossed the high seas from England to America in 1847, when twenty four years of age. He spent a
year in Ohio and then came to Iowa, locating in Richland Township in 1851, after a short stay in Eddyville. Mr.
Hirst began farming on a tract of land in section 21 and brought the place up to a fine state of cultivation. In
1892 he retired to Kirkville.
David Wilson was born in Pennsylvania, came west from Ohio in 1852 and located in this township. A son, Ira, came
with his parents and at the time was eighteen years of age.
W. A. C. Brown, a son of Hugh Brown, a pioneer of this township, was born here in 1853. He married Minerva Whitcomb,
born in Center Township in 1853, the same year as her husband. She was the daughter of Farnum Whitcomb, one of
Wapello's early settlers.
William B. Wycoff became a resident of this township when his parents, James and Rachel Wycoff, removed here from
Jefferson County in 1853. He followed farming some years. For over thirty years past he has been one of Ottumwa's
prominent real estate men, although he now has practically ceased his activities in that direction. A son, J. C.
Wycoff, was born on the homestead in this township in 1859.
John Carr came to this township from Ohio in 1854, and began farming. His son, Samuel B. Carr, arrived in the county
at the same time, but spent a year in Ottumwa. In the fall of 1855 he settled on section 27, this township. Josiah,
a brother of Samuel, settled here in 1856, but shortly afterward moved into Mahaska County. In 1861 he returned
to Richland Township, and became one of its valued citizens. Josiah Carr died in April, 1900. George W. Arnold
was an early settler, coming here in 1856. With the family at the time were their sons, J. M., John C. and Ruthy
J. William F. was born in Wapello County in 1857 and George W., in 1860. The old homestead was situated on section
Within a few months after a sufficient number of families had established homes and gotten things in running
order, a schoolhouse was built on a tract of land about a half mile west of what is now known as Kirkville. It
was built of logs and had the inevitable fire place, puncheon floor, doors made of rough clapboards, with wooden
hinges, benches of split hickory trees and where a hole was left for light a hewn log was adjusted against the
rough wall, which answered as a writing desk. Lessons in writing always took place toward evening. Soon an old
cabinet maker came into the township from Pennsylvania and made his boys desks out of clapboards, which were innovations,
and the first writing tables in this section. Granville Mann and Thomas Ross were among the early teachers and
the pupils were Harry, Jane, James and F. L. McNair; Will and Dan Kyger; Noah, Jim, Martha, Elizabeth and Marion
Majors; Henry K., Frank, Eliza, D. W. and Hannah Jane Kirkpatrick; William, Emanuel and Eli Evans.
The first church in the township was built on the east side of them street in Kirkville, in the early '50s. Prior
to this the schoolhouse was used for religious purposes. Father McElroy helped build the church and preached the
first sermon. Prior to this time, however, Rev. Thomas Kirkpatrick organized a Methodist Episcopal Society in 1844,
and it was this pioneer preacher to whom Judge Hendershott gave the credit of having preached the first sermon
in Vapello County.
The village of Kirkville lies on sections 7 and 8, in Richland Township, and was laid out in 1848, by John Kirkpatrick,
who owned the land upon which it is located. The Methodist Episcopal Church, which was organized by Rev. Thomas
Kirkpatrick and incorporated in 1852, built the first house of worship here and dedicated it in September, 1853.
The Presbyterians organized a society at Eddyville in 1850, which was transferred to Kirkville in March, 1854.
This religious body built a church and dedicated it in 1876.
Kirkville grew to be quite a busy little trading point. It was the original polling place for the township until
Keb, a second precinct, was created. One of the early physicians was Dr. Henry Kirkpatrick, who was a pioneer of
the township. William Cole and family were also early settlers, coming in the '40s to section 6. Among the pioneer
lawyers were George M. Davidson and Samuel Carver, the latter now located in Los Angeles, California. T. H. Carver,
a native of Kirkville, is now holding a good position in Oberlin University, at Oberlin, Ohio.
In the early days of this little town, a building was erected and rented to a man from Eddyville for saloon purposes.
The structure stood about eighteen inches above the ground. On the first floor was the saloon and in the second
story the bachelor proprietor had his apartments. The traffic did not appeal to many of the citizens and one night,
presumably when the proprietor was absent, a keg of powder was placed under the building, which ended the saloon
history of Kirkville.
In 1865 J. M. Lane and John Kirkpatrick moved a large grist mill from Dahionega to Kirkville, which was well
patronized by the settlers who largely depended upon it for their grist. In the early days Thomas Ross was engaged
here in general merchandising, having his stock of goods in a log cabin. A creamery was also built here about the
year 1874 and was known as the Farmers' Creamery, it having been built and operated, as its name indicates, by
men whose occupation was the tilling of the soil. Principally those interested in the industry were John H. Carver,
John Kirkpatrick, J. N. Barker, Oliver Jones, Theophilus Slutts, William Thompson, John Funk and Jacob Zentz. The
management was in the hands of L. A. Chamberlain, an expert cheese maker.
In 1870 Kirkville had a population of 236. By 1880 it had increased to 280. The census of 1890 gave the population
of the town at 714. It had dwindled down to 402 at the end of the next decade and in 1910 there were but 300 souls
in the town.
During its prosperous years coal mining operations had much to do with its progress, but when the mines were abandoned
the population and traffic of the town decreased. However, Kirkville from its natural surroundings, composed of
fertile land and improved farms, continues to he a good local business center. At the present time there are four
stores: hardware store, operated by Williams & Glass; dry goods and groceries, by Ralph Shaw; dry goods by
Theophilus Reed; and a general mercantile establishment by Martin Pelham.
The postoffice was established here September 7, 1849, with Henry Kirkpatrick as postmaster. His successors have
been the following named persons: M. E. Lee, April 8, 1854; Jacob Failyure, January 8, 1855; Henry Gabbs, April
9, 1855; David Moore, July 17, 1856; David G. McGuire, September 8, 1857; L. L. Pollock, April 9, 1859; George
F. House, June 1861; F. K. Kirkpatrick, July 16, 1861; J. W. McGlasson, February 21, 1862; Isaac E. Page, October
27, 1873; G. W. Kirkpatrick, March 17, 1882; Isaac B. Carson, April 2, 1886; Sarah R. Wilson, June 21, 1889; Sarah
R. Johnson, December 15, 1900; Robert P. Johnson, April 12, 1910; John G. Dana, June 18, 1912.
The Kirkville Savings Bank was established under the laws of Iowa in 1904. W. B. Bonnifield is the president; B.
F. Thomas, vice president; William Abegg, cashier. Capital, $20,000; surplus, $4,000; deposits, $120,000.
Kirkville Station lies south of the village on section 30, through which the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific
Railroad runs, paralleling the river. A spur of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy was built from a point on
that road in section 9, Center Township, to Keb, a mining town, located on section 34, Richland Township.