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

LISTON TOWNSHIP is one of the most important in Woodbury county at the present time, owing to its position, railroad facilities, general business enterprise of Danbury, and the fertility of its soil, together with the fact of its lying in one of the most beautiful and richest valleys of the northwest. It is one of the post bellum townships, created at the time things were taking a start in Woodbury county in earnest. It will be remembered that the county was divided into only four parcels up to so late a date as 1867, but at that time a dozen or more subdivisions commenced and continued to increase, till at last there are twenty four townships. The supervisors on November 10, 1868, passed this brief order: "Townships eighty six and eighty seven, range forty two, to be constituted Liston township." The territory was taken from Little Sioux, which at that time had more than it could handle, and was done at the instance of William H. Seaman and others. Seaman was a very active and enterprising citizen, alive to all the best interests of his township, but things not going on as actively as he liked, moved away. Liston, it will be noticed, comprised two full congressional townships, but the township of Morgan was afterward detached from it, which left it as it now is, congressional township number eighty six, range forty two. Dan Thomas was the first justice of the peace elected after the creation of Liston. The boundaries are: Morgan on the north, Monona county on the south, Ida county on the east and Oto on the west, it being the extreme southeastern township. It is traversed in the southeastern portion by the Chicago & Northwestern road, the only station within its limits, however, being Danbury.

Numerous creeks, branches and runs flow everywhere in Liston, the principal streams being the beautiful Maple river in the southeast, Reynolds creek and Koker creek, both being branches of the Maple. Many springs are found, also, at the heads of these waters. The surface is somewhat rolling, and broken in one or two sections, but it is well wooded, some good timber being cut along the streams and on the ridges. The best timber is nearly all the result of planting, a great deal of which has been done, and the good work still continues. Good roads run all through Liston, and here terminates the stage line from Sioux City. The principal products are, as in all sections of Woodbury, corn, cattle and bogs. There are some fine deposits of blue clay, but none of them are worked; also sand beds, one especially on the old Castle place, on section nineteen. Cyclones have several times visited this region, and considerable damage has resulted. In 1883 a church, a school house and several residences were badly wrecked. Some little damage has occasionally been done by freshets, after the melting of the snows of hard winters. The nationality of the population of the township is mostly American, but there is a considerable number of Irish, especially in Danbury.

A few settlers were here at quite an early day, but a number of them left in consequence of the great prairie fire of 1856, and the Spirit Lake massacre of 1857. Some of them returned, but others did not. A portion of Liston, at that time the southeastern corner of Little Sioux township, was right in the track of the great conflagration mentioned previously, which swept over an extent of country ten and fifteen miles wide. The sight of that immense sheet of fame, of the width indicated, and extending far northward, was appalling. The heavens were lighted up at night as though the whole globe was on fire, and in the day time the smoke obscured the rays of the sun to such an extent as to leave the impression of deep twilight. A gentleman who witnessed the scene, informed the writer that it is beyond the power of tongue or pen to describe it, but says that he can still see the awful billows of fire as they rolled along in their resistless course. Those out of the fire were fortunate, and stretched a helping hand to those driven from their homes. The first actual settler, with his family, to come into what is now Liston township, was Joseph L. Edwards, a brother in law of M. L. Jones, of Smithland, who came in 1851; and the next one to make a settlement here was George L. Crane. A man named Reynolds also came at an early day, but left during the war and never returned. Reynolds creek, a branch of the Maple river, was named after him. Edwards built the first log house in the township.

The first minister of the gospel to preach in this section, as well as any other portion of Woodbury county, was Rev. Mr. Black, of whom frequent mention has been already made in this work. Presiding Elder Landon Taylor also visited here as well as Rev. D. J. Havens. United Brethren preachers were here at an early day also. There was no church building, and they usually preached in the school houses or at the houses of the settlers. Rev. Taylor traveled along this country in 1857, at the time of the great Indian scare, when everything was in excitement, and when every swaying bush and every stump in the woods assumed the form, in the imagination, of bloody savages. They were thought to be lurking behind every tree and hiding among the tall grass of the prairie. Every horseman in the distance was viewed as the advance guard of a horde of relentless redskins, and the cry was heard everywhere "the Sioux are coming!" The truth was that the Indians were not within a hundred miles of Woodbury county, but they were fleeing to the northward after the Spirit Lake affair, for when they realized the enormity of their crime, and ascertained that the whites were after them with blood in their eyes, they fled as fast as they could from the vengeance they feared would overtake them. Just at this time good brother Taylor, filled with the Indian scare, had occasion to cross the country a little north and east of Liston, and while passing alone along the lonely road, met with an adventure which will be given in the words of the pious old worker in the vineyard of the Lord: "On my return from Denison, homeward, riding on horseback, I made a very narrow escape. The road was along a willow creek, while before me I could see some distance. Directly ahead of me, about thirty rods, in a little opening of the willows, I saw my enemy sure enough. The main road would have taken me within eight rods of the place of concealment. 'What shall I do?' My thoughts ran fast. Fortunate for me, before I reached them, the road made an inward curve behind a little bluff out of their sight, and at the center of the curve a ravine ran up to the left, which would take me into the main road, a distance of about a mile. You may rest assured that I improved my advantage, and Crane. A man named Reynolds also came at an early day, but left during the war and never returned. Reynolds creek, a branch of the Maple river, was named after him. Edwards built the first log house in the township.

The first minister of the gospel to preach in this section, as well as any other portion of Woodbury county, was Rev. Mr. Black, of whom frequent mention has been already made in this work. Presiding Elder Landon Taylor also visited here as well as Rev. D. J. Havens. United Brethren preachers were here at an early day also. There was no church building, and they usually preached in the school houses or at the houses of the settlers. Rev. Taylor traveled along this country in 1857, at the time of the great Indian scare, when everything was in excitement, and when every swaying bush and every stump in the woods assumed the form, in the imagination, of bloody savages. They were thought to be lurking behind every tree and hiding among the tall grass of the prairie. Every horseman in the distance was viewed as the advance guard of a horde of relentless redskins, and the cry was heard everywhere "the Sioux are coming!" The truth was that the Indians were not within a hundred miles of Woodbury county, but they were fleeing to the northward after the Spirit Lake affair, for when they realized the enormity of their crime, and ascertained that the whites were after them with blood in their eyes, they fled as fast as they could from the vengeance they feared would overtake them. Just at this time good brother Taylor, filled with the Indian scare, had occasion to cross the country a little north and east of Liston, and while passing alone along the lonely road, met with an adventure which will be given in the words of the pious old worker in the vineyard of the Lord: "On my return from Denison, homeward, riding on horseback, I made a very narrow escape. The road was along a willow creek, while before me I could see some distance. Directly ahead of me, about thirty rods, in a little opening of the willows, I saw my enemy sure enough. The main road would have taken me within eight rods of the place of concealment. 'What shall I do?' My thoughts ran fast. Fortunate for me, before I reached them, the road made an inward curve behind a little bluff out of their sight, and at the center of the curve a ravine ran up to the left, which would take me into the main road, a distance of about a mile. You may rest assured that I improved my advantage, and

[Page 371 was missing from the copy of the book this was in.]

Mayor-Dan Thomas.
Trustees-George N. Castle, George W. Hoskins, William Cook, David Tangeman, H. J. Peters, L. D. Herrington.
Recorder-J. S. Shoup.

The present officers are:
Mayor-J. H. Ostrom.
Trustees-Samuel Boyer, C. F. Kueny, W. Hand, William Rine-hold, M. D. Cord, John Kampmeyer.
Recorder-C. F. Seibold.

The business firms and other industrial, economical and social interests may be summed up in the following condensed lists: Banner Mills, patent roller process, Godfrey Durst, proprietor, are located just east of the town; elevators, Godfrey Durst, F. H. Hancock; elevator and dealer in grain, etc., David Tangeman; lumber, W. F. Seibold; lumber and building material, S. H. Bowman Lumber Company; general merchandising, Seibold Bros., C. C. Cook, John Rampmeyer, Jacob Welte; drugs, R. H. Loucks; hardware, W. Hand, J. B. Hash; grocery, V. D. Lyons & Son; furniture and hardware, W. B. Booher; harness and saddlery, H. T. Wilcox; blacksmiths, three shops; confectionery and restaurant, D. B. Newcomer, Con Keleher; barbers, J. B. Howe, J. Millington; jeweler, W. Endes; millinery and furnishing goods, Mrs. C. C. Frum; meat market, J. H. Hart; variety store, R. R. Glassey; shoemaker, Theo. Litzelschwab; live stock dealers, P. C. Keitges, C. C. Frum; livery stables, Bray & Drea, G. N. Castle; hotels, Castle House, G. N. Castle, proprietor, Commercial, Pat Collins, proprietor; Danbury State Bank, capital $40,000, paid up, Alex. McHugh, president; A. J. Santee, vice president; A. L. Wilkinson, secretary; J. W. Hamilton, cashier; I. B. Santee, assistant cashier; bankers, Baxter, Reed & Co.; physicians, G. W. Murphy, W. R. Keeny, C. F. Kueny; lawyers, J. H. Ostrom, D. H. Kerby; insurance, P. C. Keitges; real estate, J. H. & E. Ostrom; loan and land office, Joseph O'Doherty; auctioneer, T. W. Frentess; windmills, R. L. Canty; postmaster, V. D. Lyons.

Danbury high school is an institution that takes a very creditable rank among the higher grade of schools of Woodbury county. The school building, which was erected in 1879, is a finely appointed and commodious structure. There is an attendance of about 100 scholars. It is conducted by Prof. H. H. Hahn, principal; Miss Stella Ostrom, intermediate grade, and Miss Jessie Smith, primary department.

The "Criterion" is the title of a very ably conducted and well printed quarto newspaper, now under the management of J. H. and Ernest Ostrom. This journal was established in 1882, as the Danbury "News" by J. L. Krozen, who ran it about one year, when it passed into the hands of a company, which changed the name to "Maple Valley Scoop," with Prof. J. S. Shoup as editor. The company was known as the Danbury Publishing Company. At the end of a year the company sold the plant to C. P. Bowman, now of Oto, who changed the title of the paper to the Danbury "Vidette." Under this name and management it was run about one year, when the company which had transferred it, took the paper off the hands of Mr. Bowman. In April, 1885, J. H. Ostrom leased it, and commenced the publication of the "Maple Valley Scoop" once more, and during the year Mr. Ostrom bought all the stock of the company. In 1886 the son and daughter of the gentleman named took entire charge, and in 1887 the name was changed to the present title "The Criterion," and the size of the paper doubled, making it a large quarto, it having been up to that time a folio.

St. Patrick's Roman Catholic church would do credit to a much larger town than Danbury, as the church edifice is commodious, handsome and well arranged, whilst the site upon which it and the buildings connected with the same are located, is one of the finest in the county. After the entrance of the railroad into Liston township, the Catholics, who had come in with the new order of things, organized, and in 1881, although few in number and poor, actually raised funds among themselves, with a little assistance from some friends, Protestant as well as Catholic, enough to build the first building, which cost about $2,500. These zealous Christians raised the funds without one dollar's assistance from the church authorities. It was attended from Sioux City at first by Father Barron, and until the present priest, Father Meagher, a relative of the well known Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher, the Irish patriot and American general during the 'late Civil war, took charge in 1883. But the first little modest edifice was not destined to stand long, for in April, of 1883, a violent cyclone swept across Liston township, and utterly demolished the church building, only, however, to give place to a better one. A fine parochial residence and a parochial school edifice are also completed, at a cost of $12,000, the school being under the direction of nuns of the Order of Presentation. The school has an average attendance of eighty five, and is well conducted and prosperous. Mother Cecelia, a highly accomplished lady, is in charge of the school.

The Methodist Episcopal church was built in 1881, and is a very handsome structure, being large and well finished. The congregation is quite large for the extent of the population of Danbury, seeing that the Catholic church has so numerous a congregation. Before the erection of this building, services of this denomination were held in the school houses, as shown elsewhere in this sketch of Liston. Rev. P. S. Johnson is the present pastor in charge.

Due Guard Lodge, No. 387, A. F. & A. M., was chartered July 29, 1878, the lodge having worked under dispensation for a short while previously. The charter members were And. H. Runyon, R. H. Loucks, Robert B. Mills, George W. Hoskins, Dan Thomas, William Smith, Abel A. Stowell, A. L. Brockway, John P. Creegor, Solomon J. Merritt. First officers were, W. M., And. H. Runyon; S. W., R. H. Loucks; J. W., Robert B. Mills; secretary, William Smith; treasurer, A. A. StowelL Present officers are, W. M., J. H. Ostrom; S. W., C. C. Yockey; J. W., C. A. Segan; secretary, G. W. Murphy; treasurer, M. D. Cord. Lodge meets Wednesday, on or before full moon.

Order of the Eastern Star, Danbury chapter, now working under dispensation (July of 1890), was instituted in spring of 1890. It has a membership of forty one. The officers are, W. M., Miss Jessie N. Smith; W. P., Mrs. C. C. Yockey; A. M., Miss Stella Ostrom; secretary, G. W. Murphy; treasurer, R. H. Loucks.

There is a lodge of Ancient Order of Hibernians here, also, with a very good membership.


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