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

WILLOW TOWNSHIP was created October 20, 1874, as Lee township, but June 7, 1875, on the petition of J. S. Shepherd and others the name was changed to Willow. Following are the description and boundaries as given in the proceedings of the supervisors: "All of township eighty eight, range forty five, be detached from West Fork township and formed into a new township, to be called Lee township." The first election was held in the Arnold school house, October 12, 1875, and the judges of the election were T. W. Armstrong, M. P. Metcalf, E. N. Seward; clerk, Noyce Snyder.

One of the first settlers of the county, Mr. Eli Lee, who is still living at an advanced age, in Willow township, has had an experience in living in a number of townships without moving a peg from where he first located when he came to this section in February, 1853, before the county of Woodbury was organized, and at which organization he was elected the first coroner by sixteen votes, there being only seventeen cast, Mr. Lee, presumably, not voting for himself. He first lived in Sergeant's Bluff township, and when this large township was divided, he found himself in Little Sioux, and next, he had taken up his domicil in West Fork, and a little later he had to vote in Willow. Morris Metcalf was also an early settler, and James Snyder; then came Samuel Baker, Phillip Weaver, Michael Myers, and some others not far from these:

About one third of the surface of Willow is bluffy and somewhat broken, and the rest Missouri bottom, the best land on earth. There is no timber of any consequence. The streams are the West Fork of Little Sioux river, Wolf creek, Slough branch, Lum creek and numerous minor branches and runs. Messrs. Skinner & Co., the proprietors of the Skinner cattle ranch, are now (1890) engaged in digging a ditch for the purpose of turning the waters of Wolf creek into the West Fork, and have about twenty five teams and a large force of workmen engaged on the excavations. The purpose is to control the waters of Wolf creek while the ditch is being dug down through the township. The ditch will be of about the same dimensions as the one in Grange township. Freshets during the spring season occasionally occur, but no damage of a serious nature has happened for many years. Neither are prairie fires of enough importance to notice. The streams furnish fine fishing, and buffalo, cat and pickerel are easily obtained. Game, the smaller, at least, is plentiful. There were formerly herds of deer, but they have now disappeared. Wolves are occasionally seen, but they rarely live long thereafter, as there is a bounty on each scalp. Prairie chickens, quails, ducks and geese are quite plentiful. There are some aquatic animals, but of a less valuable sort than there were thirty or forty years ago. The Winnebago Indians come to the streams of Willow township during the winter season, and trap considerably for the mink and muskrat that are left. There is some wild fruit along the streams. Very excellent clay beds are found in the northeastern part of the township, and some sand and gravel deposits. Principal products of Willow are corn, cattle and hay.

The first bridge in the county of Woodbury was built over the Wolf creek on the Sioux City road in what is now Willow township, that is, the first bridge of any consequence; there may have been bridges over some smaller streams, two or three logs fastened together. The bridge mentioned was built in 1855. The old Lee school house was the first building for educational purposes erected in the township. It was located at Holly Springs. The first store was opened at Holly Springs by E. A. Batman, and the first tavern was at the same place, kept by Morris Metcalf. The township cemetery is located near Eli Lee's place.

Skinner's cattle ranch is the great industry of the township. This firm, D. H. Skinner & Co., have about 3,000 acres of land, and are breeders of fine cattle, also Norman and English coach horses. They have usually about 1,200 head of cattle, and 150 head of horses. They have fine imported Percheron and coach stallions. A portion of the Hedges' ranch is in Willow township also.

Holly Springs lies on the old Sioux City road, and is a very pleasant little village, admirably located. There is here a Methodist Episcopal church, with Rev. A. J. Langdell as pastor in charge, services every Sunday; also a Sunday school. The church membership is about thirty five, and the school about sixty, of which E. N. Seward is superintendent.

The Christian church society have a membership of about twenty five, but no church building; Rev. Mr. Pirtle is the pastor. They have a Sunday school attached with an attendance of forty five, and E. A. Batman is superintendent.

The business interests of the village may be comprised in the following:

Postmaster, E. A. Batman; general stores, Wingert Bros., E. A. Batman; Holly Springs Hotel, A. R. Gardner & Co.; blacksmith, W. P. Metcalf. A very good school is conducted here, where thirty five pupils are enrolled.

German City is another hamlet, located among the hills in the northern part of the township. The population of this section is largely German, and they have a neat and comfortable church building of the denomination known as German Lutheran. They have no minister at present (1890), the late pastor having left. The business is as follows:

General store, Henry Rose; blacksmith, John Bosler; postmaster, Henry Rose.

There is here a hall, which is used for social and festive purposes.

Hornick is a station on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad, and is strictly a railroad town, having been a result of the completion of the road named. It has evidences of continued growth, and the metropolitan suburban sign board may be seen here, bearing the legend, "These lots for sale."

A Methodist Episcopal church society, with a membership of about thirty, exists at Hornick. They have no church building and worship every two weeks in the school house. Rev. A. J. Langdell is pastor. They also have a Sunday school with about forty scholars, and Mrs. C. G. Swope as superintendent.

The Christian church, pastor, Rev. Mr. Pirtle, is also at Hornick. It is in a prosperous condition and doing a good work, membership, about twenty.

The business, etc., is as follows:

Elevator, J. E. Crawford, shells and grinds corn; Wilder & Booge, dealers in corn; Hornick & Skinner, real estate, owners of town site; postmaster, B. F. Jennings; Clary Bros., general store, and dealers in live stock, coal, and farm produce of all kinds, also dealers in agricultural implements (they have a fine establishment and are doing a rapidly growing business); A. P. Madden & Co., general merchandise; Haviland & Bigelow, hardware and drugs, also handle farm machinery; S. L. Spencer, lumber and building material; W. C. Gibson, meat market; Murray Crow, blacksmith; Jennings House, B. F. Jennings.

There is a good school building at Hornick, and an enrollment of pupils of thirty five. Miss Annie Harrington is teacher.

The Farmers' Alliance has two organizations in the township, one at Hornick and the other at Holly Springs. The officers of the first are: President, N. A. Baker; secretary, John Walker. The latter: President, Lemuel Burns; secretary, Lee Mullinix.


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