History of Liberty Township, Woodbury County, IA
From: History of the Counties of Woodbury and Plymouth, Iowa
A Warner & Co., Publishers
Chicago Illinois, 1890-91

Liberty Township was constituted November 10, 1868, and was formed from Woodbury township, bounded and described as follows:

"West half of township eighty seven, range forty six, all of township eighty seven, range forty seven, and fractional township eighty seven, range forty eight." The boundaries at present being Woodbury on the north, Grange on the east, the Missouri river on the west, and Lakeport on the south. Liberty is so similar in almost everything to Lakeport that a description of one is a description of the other, although the former is much larger than the latter. They are similar in shape and have the same western river boundaries. The same rich, productive soil, the same level bottom lands, and Liberty also has a curved lake, evidently once a bayou, if it were not the main channel itself. It is called Brown's lake, and lies in the southern portion of the township.

There is not a stream of water, nor is there a rock above ground, in the township. There is considerable timber, mostly cottonwood, in the western portion, and some of it elm, ash and willow. The main crop, of course, is corn, corn, corn, but there is considerable buckwheat raised also. Some fine horses are bred in the township, and large numbers of hogs are shipped from Salix, whilst as fine cattle as can be found anywhere, may be seen all over the country. There being no streams or springs, drive wells are sunk, which furnish a fine supply of water. All small fruits are raised in abundance. The population is composed of Canadian-French, Danes and a large sprinkling of the enterprising Yankee. There is a curious vein of sand running through the township from the northwest to the southeast, about fifty . feet wide. It commences at the Missouri river, and evidently marks some ancient channel of that tortuous and unstable stream. The lake mentioned above, Brown's lake, as well as Brower's lake, in the northwestern portion of the township, like the Sand Hill lake in Lakeport, are both fast drying up. Within the memory of the early settlers these lakes were filled with water. Wild game was plentiful during the first years of the settlement of Liberty township, which began in 1854. All the larger, as well as the smaller animals peculiar to the northwest, were to be had for the killing, and as late as 1868, two fine buffaloes were killed by Jim Allen in the bottomlands, about three and a half miles south of Sergeant's Bluff. A gentleman, who ate some of the steak from the animals, related the incident, and said that they had crossed the Missouri river from Nebraska. These two were the last seen in Woodbury county.

The first persons to make a settlement in the territory now comprised in Liberty were, possibly, J. M. Cloud, A. S. Dutton and John W. Brown. M. L. Jones, now of Smithland, first settled in this section of the county, but did not stay long, moving to Little Sioux township. Joe Samuels was an early resident of Liberty. He was a Virginian, an Indian trader, and married a half breed, a daughter of a French-Canadian and an Indian squaw. He moved farther westward. A. S. Dutton, mentioned above, went to Colorado, when the tide set in in that direction, in 1858. At the beginning of the Civil war he joined the Second Colorado regiment, and was wounded, whilst on a scouting expedition, by an Indian. Our informant could tell nothing further in regard to him. His name appears in the early records of the county, in connection with several official positions. The first marriage in the county was that of J. M. Cloud, a resident of Liberty township, and the first divorce was that of the same couple, both events happening not far apart, in 1854 or 1855. The first justices of the peace to be elected after the creation of the township, were John Mathers and G. F. Robinson, and the first clerk was Edwin Sharp, the same being also constable.

Weedland is the term by which a very rich and productive section of Liberty township is known. It is quite populous, and is situated west of Brower's lake, the settlement containing about 350 persons. It was at one time in contemplation by the residents of the district to apply for its separation from Liberty and its creation into a new township, to be called Weedland, but the project fell through. It is one of the richest spots of ground in the world, being more than half surrounded by the waters of the Missouri, which makes a tremendous bend half around it. Fine watermelons, vegetables and fruits grow abundantly. In the early days the spot was covered, as thickly as they could stand, with all manner of weeds, ten and fifteen feet high, hence the name. At one point the nucleus of a village exists in the shape of a store and a blacksmith shop.

Liberty township, like most of the others in Woodbury county, suffered terribly during the great grasshopper raids. The townships bordering on the Missouri possibly suffered more than those in the eastern and central portions of the county, as the 'hoppers struck the western line first. Some years ago an old resident of the county, who has since removed from this section, wrote of the pestiferous little winged plague as follows: " On the 23d of July, 1864, the ever memorable grasshopper raid began in northwestern Iowa and southern Dakota. Myriads of these winged miscreants put in an appearance. They were as thick and pestiferous in numbers as the creeping lice and slimy frogs were in Egypt, in the days of God's judgment. So thick were the clouds of these little invaders that the sun was at times darkened; houses, fences, trees, etc., were literally covered with these little pests, and, in fact, the whole face of the earth ; where they struck a house they fell down in piles from one to two feet in depth." A lady in one of the towns where the 'hoppers paid a visit, had gone out calling, and upon her return they were piled up so deeply at her door, that she had to get her husband to remove them with a shovel. Fields and gardens looked promising, but in three hours not a vestige of the growing plants was left, and the fields were trimmed down to a half inch stubble. Squash vines were the only green things left, which, for some unexplained reason, the 'hoppers seldom or never touch. " Hundreds of acres of luxuriant corn, whose rustling leaves inspired the poor settler with hope, were in a few hours swept away." Many of the settlers left and never returned.

The thriving and busy little town of Salix commenced to take on the appearance of activity and life about fifteen or eighteen years ago. It received its name from the fact of there being so much willow in the vicinity of the town and in the township. They did not want to call the future city Willow, so they hunted up the botanical term for the common willow, and found it to be salix longifolia. The following businesses are conducted here:

The E. H. Smith Company have an elevator, and shell and grind corn and grind buckwheat.

Salix bank, J. C. Currier & Sons; established in 1886 does a general banking business.
General merchants - Huntley & Ingerson, F. J. Jarrow.
Lumber and building materials - J. C. Currier & Sons.
Hardware - E. H. Lowe & Co.
Drugs - Chadwick & Co.
Meat market - G. Duhaime & Sons.
Confectionery - F. M. Corr.
Agricultural implements - Davis & Co.
Harness and saddlery - Albert Devine.
Blacksmith - Claus Ericksen.
Wagon shop - E. Harrington.
Live stock dealers - Huntley & Story.

E. E. Huntley, postmaster. Samuel Taylor was first postmaster in township; no other postoffice in the township; telephone service in operation; there are two good schools in Salix and six in township outside the village; one hotel - the Reeler house, James A. Reeler, proprietor. G. M. Gibbs started a newspaper some time ago, but it gave up the ghost, and now the Salixians must get their reading matter somewhere else. Dr. J. N. Legault is the only physician in the township. About four miles north of Salix, R. Hall manufactures weed cutters, which are said to be very superior machines for the purpose for which they are intended.

Methodist Episcopal Church. - It is altogether probable that the Methodist ministers stationed at Sergeant's Bluff in the early days, preached in some of the settlers' houses in Liberty, as the settlements extended clear down into Lakeport. No church, however, was built by this denomination until 1879, when the present edifice was erected. The first pastor was Rev. W. F. Gleason; the present pastor is Rev. O. A. Luce. The cemetery used by the Protestants is located just beyond the southern line in Lakeport.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church. - There were doubtless visiting priests among the Canadian-French people, who came here at an early day, but no account of them could be obtained. Before the building of the present fine structure, services were occasionally conducted at the houses of members, until a small frame building was put up. This blew down in a small cyclone in 1878 or 1879, when the present one was built. The church was first served from Sioux City by Father McNulty. Father Lenehan was the first priest of the present church. The present pastor is Father J. F. Griffin, who came in July, 1887; membership, 105 families. The denomination has a cemetery in the northeast corner of section sixteen, not far from the railroad.


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