Search billions of records on

Appanoose County >> 1913 Index

Past and present of Appanoose County, Iowa: ... 
L. L. Taylor, editor.  Chicago : S. J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1913. 

Walnut Township

Biographies submitted by Alice Wayne Daniels.

Page 413
This township lies south of Chariton; Bellair and Center are to the south of it. Johns township is its western boundary and Center and Douglas, its eastern. It contains twenty-four square miles of territory, and is watered by the Chariton river and Walnut creeks. There are numerous farms under a high state of cultivation, and the citizens are progressive, liberally supporting schools, churches and all that goes for the advancement of themselves and the coming generations.

Page 414
Among the first settlers in Walnut township were Rev. Daniel Shaffer, a clergyman of the United Brethren faith; Isaac and Nathan Bartlett and a man named Marchbank. Wolves were very numerous at the time they came and for many years after; so much so that the board of county commissioners first offered a bounty of fifty cents on their scalps and increased the reward to one dollar each for the scalps of old wolves and fifty cents apiece for young ones. Scalps were brought into the county seat for the bounty on them in such numbers that the money paid out for the destruction of wolves made quite an item in the treasurers’ accounts for several years.

The following wolf story may bear repetition here: On one occasion, David Scott, ,an early settler of the township, succeeded in trapping a pup wolf, partly grown, which he promised his boys to tame. He put a leather collar on the beast, to which he attached a trace chain, which he fastened to a post with a leathern thong. In the morning pup and chain were gone. The animal was repeatedly seen after that, but was not recaptured for two years. The wolf, now full grown, still had the chain and collar attached to him. The chain had been worn as bright as a new silver dollar by being dragged over the ground and underbrush.

David Thornton Stark, an Indianan by birth, emigrated to Iowa in 1846 and settled on a farm in the vicinity of Walnut City, with his parents, Caleb and Rhoda (Burney) Stark.

William R. Thompson was an early settler in this township, coming here in 1856 and locating on a farm of two hundred and thirty acres, ,on which was a log cabin. Forty acres of this hand been plowed. The land was purchased from a Mr. Elam. William R. Thompson was the father of Archibald F. Thompson, an attorney of Centerville.

Albert R. Scott came to Appanoose county with his father in 1851 and located on a farm in Walnut township, a part of which became the site of Walnut City. He was the builder of the Christian church in that community.

Jacob Sweetman, an Indianan, removed from Van Buren county, Iowa, to Appanoose county in 1850 and improved a farm on section 35. He owned both a sawmill and a flour mill.

David and Nancy (Ray) Scott came to Appanoose county from Indiana in 1853 and settled in this township, on land purchased of the government. While in business in Kansas in 1862, Mr. Scott died. Noah M. Scott, a son, served the county as clerk of the courts. The elder Scott owned over seven hundred acres of land.

R. B. Scott was an early settler here, coming to the county in 1857. He was at one time possessed of over six hundred acres of land.

Noah H. Ash was a farmer and stockman. In 1845 he came to Appanoose county with his father, Noah H. Ash, Sr., and settled in Chariton township . In 1862 the younger Ash purchased a farm in section 35, this township, and became a citizen of the county.

Benjamin Needham settled in the county in 1854 and became one of the prosperous men of Walnut township.

Page 415
James E. Robinson and wife located in Centerville in 1852 and there Mr. Robinson worked at his trade. He remained there until 1857, when he moved to a farm on section 10, this township.

Michael Everman was a Kentuckian. He settled in Center township, this county, in 1850, and in Walnut township in 1866.

Thomas M. McNeff came to the township in 1853 and died in 1856. A son, D. T. McNeff, came at the same time and became a prominent farmer and stockman.

William Myers, who came here in 1852, became the owner of several hundred acres of land and a great deal of other property. He helped to build the first schoolhouse in the township and, it is said, he ground his first grist of wheat in the family coffee mill.

David C. Ashby at the age of eight years came to Appanoose county with his father, Daniel C. Ashby, in 1856, and the family became well known throughout the township. Daniel C. died in 1864 from disease contracted in the army during the Civil war.

W. P. Darrah removed from West Virginia to this section of the country in 1856 and acquired a large tract of land in this township. He held all of the principal township offices.

George Elgin, a native of South Carolina, removed to this county and in 1854 purchased a farm on section 6. He married Phoebe, daughter of Joseph and Jane A. Armstrong, in 1860. The Armstrongs came to the county from Indiana in 1856.

A Baptist society was formed in the township as early as 1848 and among the members were the Bartletts, Marchbanks, Childers and Thomas Richardson. Meetings were first held at the homes of the settlers, but when the schoolhouse was built it was used by the society. In 1856, “Concord” church was built, two miles west of Walnut City, and stood there until 1875, when it was replaced by a building of more comfort and greater pretensions to appearance.

The first school taught in the township was by a Mr. Masters, whose pupils met in a small log cabin in 1853. A schoolhouse was built the succeeding year - a frame structure - and John P. Smith taught the first classes there. Smith was a man of considerable “character” and in the winter of 1853 made rails for David Scott. He was an exhorter and occasionally held religious services in the neighborhood.

A class of Methodists was organized in the winter of 1854-5, by John P. Smith. He was assisted by the McNeff and Wakefield families. The society grew and built a house of worship in Walnut City in 1873, at a cost of $1,500.

The United Brethren organized a church at an early day, under the guidance and efforts of Rev. Shaffer. The members attended the church in Chariton township, which was built through the munificence of Rev. Shaffer, the pastor. The organization finally dwindled away and the building was converted into a schoolhouse.

Pages 415-416

The place which we now consider, Walnut City, is only a city in name. No matter what the original intentions of its founders may have been, it never became entitled to any more dignified title than hamlet. Hamlet it was in the beginning and hamlet it is today, after an existence of many years. The town is situated on sections 4 and 5, and was dedicated to public use by its owners, John Scott, Francis Childers, James Bartlett and Madison Hollman, November 17, 1858. J. H. Darrah was the surveyor. The first store was opened in the place by McNeff brothers soon after the town was laid out, and then came two other stores, a wagon and blacksmith shop and a few dwellings. There was also a postoffice in 1866 but it exists no longer. Rural free delivery has made one unnecessary.

The Christian church of Walnut City was organized in 1855, by David Scott and wife, John Scott and wife, William Myers, W. H. Clark and wife and George Elgin and wife. The early preachers were Elders E. E. Harvey and J. C. Porter. A church building was erected in 1856.


There are other small towns in the county that should at least be mentioned by name. Dennis, a station on the Missouri, Iowa & Nebraska; Maine, in Taylor township; Rathbun, established in1892, a mining town; Orrville, another mining town laid out in 1892; Darby, the same year; Johnstown; Kennegela and Coal City, in Wells township; and Diamond and Brazil, in Bellair township.