History of some Townships in Winnebago County, IA
From: History of Winnebago County and Hancock County, Iowa
A Record of Settlement, Organization,
Progress and Achievement.
The Pioneer Publishing Company
Chicago 1917


This is one of the oldest townships in the county. It was established soon after the county was organized and originally embraced all the southern half of the county. Several changes were made in the boundaries between 1858 and 1880, when the erection of Linden Township reduced Forest to its present extent. It now includes congressional township 98, range 24, and is bounded as follows: On the north by Newton Township; on the east by the Township of Mount Valley; on the south by Hancock County, and on the west by Linden Township.

The surface is rolling and in some places hilly. When the first settlers came to this part of the county they found about one third of the area of the township covered with timber, which gave rise to the name. Lime Creek enters from the north near the northeast corner and flows in a southerly direction across the entire township. In the valley of this stream and the western part the soil is fertile and produces good crops of all the grain and vegetables adapted to the climate.

A man named Gray is credited with being the first settler. He came in 1855 and built a house in section 26, about a mile north of where Forest City is now located, but in the fall of that year he sold out to John Gilchrist and Jesse Bonar and went back to Hardin County. About the time that Gilchrist and Bonar bought Gray's claim, James Wreston settled in section 25, not far from where the cemetery is now situated He came from the eastern part of the state and in the spring of 1856 went to Chickasaw County.

A number of immigrants came into the township in 1856. A man named Decker, with his four sons in law, settled along Lime Creek in the northeastern part, about where the town of Leland now stands. One of the sons in law afterward went farther south and made a claim in section 26. Charles Strong, a New Yorker, settled near the eastern boundary, about two miles northeast of Forest City. After a residence of less than a year he sold out and went to Owen's Grove, Cerro Gordo County. Another settler of 1856 was Seneca Carrington, who came from Mason City and located in section 24. The next year he "pulled up stakes" and went to Missouri, and from there to Indiana. Abraham and William Foster selected claims in section 33 in 1856, but soon afterward went to Minnesota. John Lamm and his father, William Lamm, also came in 1856. The former located in section 23 and the latter selected land in section 14, but went back to Ohio the following year. The early settlers about Forest City are mentioned in another chapter.

Forest was the first township in the county to be provided with officers of justice. In the spring of 1857 C. W. Scott and A. T. Cole went to Fort Dodge (Winnebago being then attached to Webster County), and were appointed justice of the peace and constable respectively. The returns of the first election in the fall of 1857 have not been preserved, but it is known that Mr. Scott was continued in the office of justice of the peace and that James J. Barker was elected township clerk. In 1859 Allen T. Cole and James Collier were elected trustees; James J. Barker, clerk; C. W. Scott, and A. K. Curtis, justices of the peace; John Lamm, assessor; William Lackore, road supervisor.

The first school was taught in 1858 by Miss Sarah Beadle, in a house built by Nathan Jeffords in Forest City. Exclusive of the schools at Forest City and Leland, there are now seven school districts in the county. According to the state census of 1915, the population of Forest Township was then 3,030, and in 1916 the property, not including Forest City, was valued for tar purposes at $373,881. By including Forest City the total valuation was $700,155.

Besides being the most populous and wealthiest township in the county, Forest is also the best provided with transportation facilities. Two lines of railroad pass through Forest City - the Minneapolis & St. Louis, and the Dows & Estherville division of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific. Leland, on the Minneapolis & St. Louis, in the northeast corner, and Neils, on the Rock Island, in the northwest corner, afford accommodations for travel and shipping better than those enjoyed by the average township of the state.


Grant Township occupies the southwest corner of the county and embraces congressional township 98, range 26. On the north it is bounded by Buffalo Township; on the east by Linden; on the south by Hancock County, and on the west by the County of Kossuth. The surface is gently undulating and the only natural drainage is a small stream which rises in Buffalo Township and flows across the northwest corner of Grant into Kossuth County. This stream has been widened and deepened and now forms part of Drainage District No. 3.

Originally, this township was a part of Forest. It was made a part of Linden in the spring of 1880 and remained so until in April, 1886, when it was erected into a separate civil township and named in honor of Gen. U. S. Grant, the eighteenth President of the United States. Complete returns of the first election cannot be found, but H. H. Swingen was elected assessor; Peter H. Swingen, clerk; and G. O. Hanna, constable. These men were among the early settlers and located their farms before the township was established.

Grant has neither railroad nor village within its borders. It is divided into nine public school districts, in each of which is a good schoolhouse. In 1915 the population was 666, and the valuation of property for tax purposes in 1916 was $357,790.


When Newton Township was established in April, 1881, it included the present townships of Ring and Buffalo. On January 9, 1886, the board of supervisors, in response to a petition signed by numerous taxpayers, ordered that "congressional township 99, ranges 25 and 26, shall hereafter constitute a civil township to be known and designated as King Township." As thus defined it included the present Township of Buffalo, which was cut off two years later. On the north it is bounded by Eden Township; on the east by Newton; on the south by Linden, and on the west by Buffalo.

The surface is comparatively level and in its natural state a large part of the land was swampy. Drainage districts No. 1 and No. 3 have reclaimed the greater portion of the swamp lands and some of the most productive farms in the county are now in King Township. The first settlements were made while the territory was still included in Newton Township. After the Dows & Estherville division of the Rock Island railway system was built through the township the settlement was more rapid and in 1915 the population was 1,183, King being the fourth township of the county in the number of inhabitants. Located on the railroad, a little southeast of the center of the township, is the incorporated town of Thompson, a history of which is given in another chapter.

There are eight public schools in King, exclusive of the independent school district of Thompson, and in 1916 the property was appraised for taxation at $379,665, not including the appraisement of property in the town of Thompson. In this respect the township is one of the largest taxpaying districts of the county.


The first mention of Lincoln Township in the supervisors' records is in the minutes of the meeting on November 12, 1889, when the sum of $1,800 was appropriated to defray the expenses of holding the general election in the township on the second Tuesday of the preceding month. It is therefore the youngest civil township in Winnebago County. From the time Norway was created in 1875 until January, 1886, the territory now comprising Lincoln was included in that township. Then Eden Township was established and included within its boundaries the present Township of Lincoln until 1889.

Lincoln Township embraces that part of congressional township 100, range 26, that lies in the State of Iowa and has an area of about thirty square miles. It is the northwestern township of the county; is bounded on the north by the State of Minnesota; on the east by Eden Township; on the south by the Township of Buffalo, and on the west by Kossuth County. The surface is level or gently rolling and the soil is fertile, though considerable ditching has been done to reclaim the swampy portions and render the land fit for cultivation.

The railroad now known as the Estherville & Albert Lea division of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific was built through the township in the early '90s and the station of Rake was established a little northwest of the center. Rake is now an incorporated town, the history of which is given in another chapter of this work.

Lincoln is divided into six independent school districts, each of which is provided with a good schoolhouse. In 1915 the population was 719, including the town of Rake, and in 1916 the valuation of all property for tax purposes was $3$9,067.


This township is one of the southern tier - the third from the east line of the county. It was cut off from Forest Township on April 7, 1880, and as at first established included the present Township of Grant. Six years later it was reduced to its present extent, and now embraces township 98 north, range 25 west, with an area of thirty six square miles. The surface is a beautiful undulating prairie, somewhat elevated, the Boone and Iowa rivers having their sources in this township. The soil is far above the average in fertility. The township is bounded on the north by King; on the east by Forest; on the south by Hancock County, and on the west by the Township of Grant.

The first settlements were made in Linden in the spring of 1871, when George Johnson, Christian Larson, Hans Mattison and a man named Mikkelson came about the same time and entered land in the township. A little later in the same year came Christian Hanson and Martin Lund. All these early settlers were Norwegians. George Johnson plowed the first land and was the first to plant a crop. Hans Mattison taught the first school and the first sermon in the township was preached at his house by Rev. P. Lasness, a Lutheran minister. The first child born in the township was a daughter of Christian and Ellen Larson, who was born soon after the arrival of the family in 1871 and died in January, 1872. Her death was the first in the township.

The first election record obtainable is that of October 3, 1881, when Christian Larson, I. J. Kessey and Stener Stenerson were elected trustees; Hans Mattison, Clerk; Robert Olson, justice of the peace; J. M. Anderson, constable; and A. A. Peterson, assessor.

There are nine public school districts in Linden Township, and in 1915 the population was 599. In 1916 the assessed valuation of the property was $349,564. There is no railroad in the township, the nearest stations being Thompson, Forest City, and Crystal Lake, in Hancock County.


When Logan Township was cut off from Norway on April 5, 1881, by order of the board of supervisors of Winnebago County, it included the present townships of Eden and Lincoln. It was reduced to its present dimensions on January 9, 1886, and now includes only that part of congressional township 100, range 24, lying within the State of Iowa. Its area is about thirty square miles. On the north it is bounded by the State of Minnesota; on the east by Norway Township; on the south by Newton Township, and on the west by the Township of Eden.

The settlement of this township was retarded because of the fact that a large proportion of the land became the property of landsharks and speculators in early days, and they held the land at such prices as to be almost prohibitive to settlers of moderate means. The first actual settler was Ole P. Jordal, who settled near the present town of Scarville in 1867. The next year Christian Ingebretson settled near Jordal and in 1869 Ole Oleson located on the southeast quarter of section 24. In 1870 A. K. Winge, Ole J. Synve and a •man named Larson joined the colony, which was further augmented in 1871 by the arrival of Stephen Knudson and his father, with their families. Other early settlers were H. P. Moe, Erick Gullickson, Ole Drogsvold and E. D. Skinner

At the first township election Stephen Knudson, A. K. Winge and Stephen Floe were chosen trustees; T. J. Falken, clerk; E. D. Skinner and J. T. Seeley, justices of the peace; Harry Larson and Stephen Severson, constables; Nels Nelson, assessor. J. T. Seeley and Stephen Severson failed to qualify for their respective offices and the township and but one justice and one constable until the fall of 1883.

The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad crosses the northeast corner of the township and the station of Scarville is partly in Logan and partly in Norway Township. Three miles west of Scarville was once a postoffice called Vinje, but with the introduction of free rural delivery it was discontinued.

In 1915 the population of Logan was 676, and in 1916 the property valuation was $273,941. There are six public schools, exclusive of the schools in the Scarville independent district.


In the spring of 1879 the board of supervisors ordered that congressional township 98 north, range 23 west, be erected into a new civil township to be known as "Mount Valley," that name having been suggested by Peter Hanson, who was one of the early settlers. The name was no doubt selected because of the character of the surface, which is generally uneven and in some places rough and hilly. Two small creeks - Bear and Beaver flow through the township, affording good natural drainage and water for stock. The former rises near the central part and takes a southwesterly course, crossing the western boundary near the southwest corner. Beaver Creek enters in section 1, makes a bend to the west, and leaves the county about a' mile and a half north of the southeast corner. About two thirds of the area was originally covered with timber, but about all of this that was suitable for lumber has been cut off and only small trees remain. The township is bounded on the north by Center Township; on the east by Worth County; on the south by Hancock County, and on the west by Forest Township.

The first settler was William Gilbert, who located on the northwest quarter of section. 31 in the spring of 1855. He built a log cabin and developed a farm, but about 1863 sold out and went to Dakota. Very few located in the township until after the close of the Civil war. Charles Belt, Edward Dubeau, William Higginbotham and a few others came in 1865. Belt remained but a short time, Dubeau went to Kansas about 1872, but Mr. Higginbotham remained and was for years actively identified with Winnebago County affairs. He was a native of West Virginia, having been born near Wheeling, May 6, 1836. In 1843 his parents removed to Licking County, Ohio and two years later to Clark County, Illinois. During the Civil war he served as a private in Company F, Seventy ninth Illinois. Infantry, and took part in the Atlanta campaign of 1864 and the subsequent military operations in Tennessee until wounded at the battle of Franklin. Soon after receiving his honorable discharge he came to Mount Valley Township. He was one of the first trustees when the township was organized and was at one time a member of the board of supervisors.

Peter Hanson, who suggested the name for the township, came in 1866. He was born in Norway in 1834 and came to America when nineteen years of age, locating in Wisconsin and farming there until he came to Winnebago County. Other settlers of 1866 were: Nels Olson, Harres Olson, HaIvor Paulson and Nels Brones. During the next three years a number of Norwegians settled in Mount Valley, among them being Gunder H. Onstadt, Hans Johnson, Ole Bottleson, Lewis Jacobson, T. K. Rusley, Hans Rwgmyr and the Rulson family. The first white child born in the township was John, son of William and Rachel Higginbotham, the date of his birth having been November 29, 1865. The first death was that of Mrs. Harres Olson in 1866, and the first marriage was that of Harres Olson and Anna Gurgunson in 1867. The first school was taught in 1866 by Amelia Steadman, in the house of Isaac Mercer. The first schoolhouse was built in the same year. The first township officers were as follows: William Higginbotham, Ole Bottleson and Thomas L. Fellen, trustees; S. K. Revland and B. K. Solverson, justices of the peace; Gunder H. Onstadt, constable. Mr. Onstadt was also the first postmaster in the township, having been appointed to that position when the postoffice of Mount Valley was established in 1877. The office has since been discontinued. Mount Valley has no railroad, Forest City being the most convenient station. In 1915 the population was 969, and in 1916 the property was valued for tax purposes at $339,988. There are nine public school districts in the township


Prior to April, 1881, Newton formed a part of Center Township. Then O. T. Seevers presented a petition to the board of supervisors asking that a new township be established. The board granted the petition and ordered that congressional township 99, ranges 24, 25 and 26, should thereafter be known as Newton Township. As at first created, the township included the present townships of King and Buffalo. It was reduced to its present size by the establishment of King Township in January, 1886, and now embraces congressional township 99, range 24. It is bounded on the north by Logan Township; on the east by Center; on the south by Forest, and on the west by King. The township is mostly prairie and the surface is rolling, in some places being what might 'be termed hilly, but nearly all the land is capable of being cultivated. Lime Creek flows in a southerly direction across the southeast corner, and a small stream called Pike Run, which rises in King Township, flows in a southeasterly direction through the central part. The latter has been made a part of Drainage District No. 1.

The township is said to have derived its name from Newton H. Bailey, a son of John and Nancy Bailey, early residents of the township. At the time the township was created the board of supervisors ordered the first election to be held at the Burnap school house, and appointed H. O. Sunderland, N. B. Thompson and J J Sharp judges; Andrew Seevers and Newton H. Bailey, clerks. The election was held in October, 1881, and resulted in the election of the following officers: Newton H. Bailey, J. J. Sharp and H. O. Sunderland, trustees; N. B. Thompson, clerk; Michael Ragan and Andrew Seevers, justices of the peace; Gilbert Olson, assessor; C. O. Rose and Ole Johnson, constables; John Bailey, Iver Qualle and John Christianson, road supervisors.

The first settler was a man named Benson, who located in a small grove in section 36, in the early part of 1855. The place afterward became known as "Benson's Grove," and a postoffice by that name was established there in July, 1864, with J. B. Hill as postmaster. Mr. Benson lived in the county only about eight months, when he sold his claim to Jeptha Adams, who sold out and went to Minnesota in the spring of 1857.

During the summer of 1856 James Collier, James Redmile, Philip A. Pulver, Allen T. Cole and a man named Lee all settled in the township. Collier and Lee both tried to claim the same tract of land in section 36 until a prairie fire burned Lee's cabin and he went away, leaving his adversary in possession. In 1857 he sold the land to James Turner and located in Center Township.

James Redmile was a single man when he came to the county and boarded with Jeptha Adams. In August, 1856, the young man and Jane Adams, daughter of his host, went to Mason City, where they were married. That was the first wedding between residents of the township.

The first white child born in the township was a daughter of Rev. John B. Hill, who was born in the summer of 1859 and died before she was a year old. The first deaths were those of three men who were frozen to death in a blizzard in December, 1856. They were not residents, but were passing through when they encountered the storm which cost them their lives. Two of the men were named Porter and Snyder, but the name of the third man has been forgotten.

Between 1865 and 1870 quite a number of people located in Newton. Among them were John Millington, John and Newton Bailey, and Henry Bushnell. Millington went to Hancock County after a residence of about eighteen months and later removed to the southern part of the state. The Baileys settled in section 7, in what was long known as "Coon's Grove." They came from Cook County, Illinois. John Bailey was a bricklayer and shoemaker by trade. After the railroads were built he shipped the first cattle from Winnebago to Chicago.

The Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad crosses the southeast corner of Newton and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific crosses the southwest corner, but there is no station within the township borders. Leland, on the former road, and Thompson, on the latter, are the most convenient railroad towns. In 1915 the population was 725, and in 1916 the assessed valuation of property was $363,692. There are eight public schools in the township.


This township was first established on June 6, 1864. Its boundaries were changed on June 7, 1875, and then included all of the northern tier of townships. When Logan Township was created in April 1881, Norway was reduced to its present extent congressional township 100, range 23. On the north it is bounded by the State of Minnesota; on the east by Worth County; on the south by Center Township, and on the west by the Township of Logan. Its area is about thirty square miles and it occupies the extreme northeast corner of the county. The name was derived from the nationality of the early settlers, most of whom came from Norway.

The surface is rolling prairie and the soil is exceedingly fertile. There was originally some timber along Lime Creek, but most of it has disappeared, the ax of the woodman and the sawmill having done their deadly work and converted most of the trees into fuel or lumber.

The first settler was William Tennis, who located in section 21, near the center of the township, in 1856. He was born in Allen County, Indiana, September 30, 1832. He came to Winnebago County in 1855, when he located a claim on Bear Creek, a short distance east of where Forest City is now situated. This claim he sold to Robert Clark in 1856 and moved up to what is now Norway Township. His cabin, which was the first house built in the township, was 18 by 24 feet and the one room served as kitchen, dining room, parlor and bed room. He obtained a title to his land in May, 1857, after which he spent about two years in his native state of Indiana. In 1859 he went to the "Pike's Peak Country," as Colorado was then called, and there became interested in some gold mines. During the next fifteen years he divided his time between his farm in Winnebago and his Colorado mines His parents came with him to Iowa in 1856 and both lived to a ripe old age at their son's home in Norway Township.

Other settlers of 1856 were: Colburn Larson, Hans Knudson, Lewis Nelson, Archibald Murray, Jasper Fricker, Heinrich Larson and a man named Harvey. Joseph Tennis came in 1857 and between that time and 1860 several families settled in the township Among them were Christian Anderson, John Iverson, Halvor Peterson, and another family of Larsons.

H. S. Botsford came in 1863 and took an active part in the organization of the township when it was first established in 1864. The board ordered the first election to be held at the schoolhouse - there was then only one schoolhouse in the township - and appointed Mr. Botsford to post notices of the election. The election was held in October, 1864. Samuel Tennis, Halvor Peterson and John' Iverson were elected trustees; H. S. Botsford, clerk; Samuel Tennis, justice of the peace.

The first ground was broken by William Tennis in 1856. The first child born in the township was Annie, daughter of Colburn Larson, in the spring of 1857. The first death was that of Mrs. C. L. Nelson, March 14, 1857. The first school was taught in the winter of 1859-60 by Mrs. Nellie Hinman, in a house that had been erected for the purpose the fall before in section 15. There are now five public school districts in the township, exclusive of the Scarville independent district and a small section in the southeastern part that is attached to the independent district of Lake Mills.

Norway has two lines of railroad. The Minneapolis & St. Louis runs along the eastern border. The little village of Norman, in the extreme northeast corner of the county, is a station on this road. The Chicago & Northwestern crosses the southern boundary in section 34 and runs in a southwesterly direction to section 19; where the village of Scarville is situated, part of it being in Norway and part in Logan Township. The stations of Norway and Scarville, and that of Lake Mills, which is just across the southern border; afford excellent shipping facilities to all parts of the township.

In. 1915 the population, according to the state census, was 680 exclusive of the incorporated town of Scarville. The assessed valuation of property in 1916 was $394,030.

Also see Buffalo Township, Center Township & Eden Township.

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