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Carroll County, Iowa


Carroll Co. Courthouse - 1914
Postcard image contributed by: Joyce Schumacher Heide
The post cards were black and white and they were actually Penny Post Cards - the postage.
They were from Nettie Warnke written to her sister, Nora (Mrs. John B.) Schumacher (my grandmother).

INTRODUCTORY. - Pgs. 639-642

The fact that Iowa is situated near the geographical center of the United States, between the two great rivers of the continent, and on the line of the trans-continental railways, presages for her a future in the development of her resources which, it does not require the prevision of a prophet to see, will at no distant day place her in an eminent position among the States of our Union, which nature, assisted by the energy, thrift and enterprise of her citizens, has so abundantly fitted her to occupy.

When we call to mind the fact that the present greatness of Iowa is all the growth of little more than forty years, we may well anticipate the grandeur that awaits her in the near future—now that she is provided with all the means necessary for the more rapid development of her inexhaustible resources. In her healthful climate, productive soil, railroad and water transportation facilities, and her intelligent, enterprising people, we have the best guaranty that her future progress will be unprecedented.

The pioneer work has been done in most parts of the State, and railroads, public buildings, churches, school-houses, etc., are provided, so that the citizens of Iowa now enjoy all the comforts, conveniences and advantages obtained in the older States, and Iowa offers to-day proportionately greater inducements to capital, enterprise and labor. Incalculable wealth lies hidden in the inexhaustible coal mines, furnishing motive-power, and the unused water-power form natural mill-sites, in almost every county in the State, for manufacturing industries. Iowa, for agricultural and manufacturing resources, has no superior among all the States, while her channels of trade radiate in all directions.

Next to the fertility of its soil, its excellent climate, and the energy of its industrial classes, the prosperity of the State is due to wise legislation, by which its financial credit has been maintained, internal improvements encouraged, public instruction rapidly advanced, and immigration and capital attracted. Thirty-eight years have elapsed since Iowa was admitted as a State, and during that time wonderful changes have taken place. Then savage beasts and savage men contended for the supremacy in this fair domain, but both have retreated before the white man, and today civilization has left its mark in numberless school-houses and churches, and in the prosperity and happiness which everywhere abounds. Of Iowa, whose name is a synonym for prosperity, and her high rank in the sisterhood of States, in respect of moral and material greatness, it is unnecessary to speak at length. Aside from the experiences of the civil war, in which the State furnished her full quota of men—and no braver men were sent to the front—the history of Iowa is that of one uninterrupted march of progress in the paths of peace, and she has risen from the condition of a Territory to one of the principal States of the Republic, in population, wealth and moral greatness. With these elements of empire inherent in it, it is not surprising that Iowa is making strides which must soon place her where she will be recognized as one of the foremost in manufacturing and other industrial pursuits, as well as in agriculture.

In order of admission into the Union, Iowa stands twenty-ninth; in number of square miles she is twenty-fourth; in population, tenth, while in acres of tillable land her place is first. She is the third State in the amount of corn raised, while she is second in number of hogs raised, third in cattle, fifth in wheat, sixth in oats, fifth in barley, fifth in flax, seventh in hay, third in miltch cows, fifth in number of hogs packed, fifth in value of farm implements, sixth in value of farm products, fourth in extent of coal area, and fifth in number of banks and newspapers. In religious, educational, charitable and benevolent institutions Iowa stands among the foremost. In regard to healthfulness her rank is fourth, while in point of the intelligence of her people she at first, having a less percentage of illiteracy then any other State. Twenty-one States have more persons in prison, and thirty-two States more female prisoners than Iowa. In the number of post offices she is seventh, and in the amount of postal receipts sixth, being one of the eight Northern States which contribute two-thirds of the entire national revenue.


This empire is composed of ninety-nine subdivisions, or little republics, called counties, of which Carroll is one. It is bounded on the north by Calhoun and Sac counties, on the east by Greene, on the south by Guthrie and Audubon, and on the west by Crawford. It contains sixteen congressional townships, numbered from 82 to 85 north, in ranges 33 to 36 west of the Fifth Principal Meridian. For organic purposes the county is now divided into sixteen civil townships, coincident with the congressional townships. These will be mentioned in the next chapter. The county is the third east of the Missouri River, and in the fifth tier of counties, both from the northern and southern boundary of the State.


Carroll is emphatically a prairie county, the eastern portion being composed of a gently undulating surface sufficiently rolling to break the monotonous sameness of the level plain, while to the westward of the Middle Raccoon River the surface is more broken and uneven, in many places rising into hills of considerable prominence. The great watershed dividing the waters which flow into the Mississippi from those which flow into the Missouri passes through this county, and at the highest point is 858 feet above Lake Michigan and 800 feet above the Mississippi River at Clinton. From this summit can be obtained a fine view of the surrounding country, extending in every direction as far as the eye can reach. On the east and the southeast is seen, in the distance, the rich, fertile valley of the Raccoon Rivers, on the south the unsurpassingly lovely country surrounding the Nishnabotany, and on the west the magnificent vale through which flows the Boyer. All of which in a clear summer's day afford scenery at once grand, beautiful and picturesque.

Being situated upon the great dividing ridge or watershed, this county is watered and drained mostly by small streams which flow both into the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The largest stream is the North Raccoon, which cuts across the northeast corner of the county, while the next two in importance are the Middle Raccoon and Brushy Fork, which take their rise in the watershed divide in the northwest, and flowing nearly parallel from four to six miles apart in a southeast direction, make their exit near the southeast corner of the county. Storm Creek, a tributary of the Middle Raccoon, drains a large tract in the northern-central as does the Willow Creek in the eastern border. The North Raccoon is deeply excavated into the drift deposit, and its valley is bordered by rather steep acclivities from seventy to one hundred feet in height, while the Middle Raccoon is bordered on the west by high bluff-capped slopes, and on the east by drift hills, which gain the interior heights by more gradual ascents. Brushy Fork possesses a beautiful valley with gentle acclivities on either side, as does the East Nishnabotany and Boyer Rivers and Whitted's Creek, which are on the west side of the watershed divide. The upper course of all of these streams are little more than diminutive prairie brooks, with gravelly beds and clear, rapid currents, many of those having their headwaters in the great divide interlocking, as it were, being separated by a narrow crest, as sharply defined as a gable ridge. Springs issue from the gravel deposits along these water courses, furnishing them with an abundant supply of limpid, pure water at all seasons of the year. East of the Middle Raccoon River wells are easily obtained, while in the uplands west of that stream those seeking water must go to a much greater depth, though the certainty of finding a never-failing supply is just as good.

In a shallow depression or plain below Carrollton, on the east side of the Middle Raccoon, several interesting spring mounds occur, which have excited much attention and are described as follows by Dr. White, in the Iowa State Geology: "The plain is thirty or forty feet above the present level of the river, from which it is separated by a well-defined drift ridge which, in places, rises into considerable knob-like eminences from one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet above the stream. The plain, however, communicates with the valley both above and below, and was probably once the channel of the river. The spring mounds are situated along an irregular line more or less in the middle of the depression; they are from four to six feet in height and as many yards in diameter, and are apparently entirely composed of vegetable matter, forming a peaty deposit which is largely mixed with the exuviate of shells and other animal remains. The crests of the mounds are covered with a tall, rank flag or marsh grass, but upon the sides there are usually two well-marked bands of short herbage and moss encircling the mounds and separated by a narrow belt of tall grass. The deposit of the vegetation upon these places is exceedingly interesting, though the mounds themselves, doubtless, owe their origin to the existence of pools of water, indicating more or less accurately the course of a former water channel, and which, being fed from higher sources, the tendency in what we observe—a gradual building up of a peaty formation. The surface of the plain beyond the limits of the mounds is perfectly level, and the deposit consists of decayed vegetable matter mixed with sand, forming a sandy muck."

Like that of Guthrie County, which lies on the great divide just southeast of Carroll, the soil of this county presents two well-marked varieties: that on the east side of the Middle Raccoon being of the drift formation, is a gravelly loam of great strength and productiveness, while to west of that stream the uplands are deeply enveloped in the bluff formation, which has imparted to the soil of this portion of the county its own peculiar characteristics. Small groves of native timber are found on the principal streams; and in favorable locations, even upon the uplands, forests of young oak are springing up. Some two or three small patches are met with in the valley of Brushy Fork, and between Coon Rapids and Carrollton; on the Middle Raccoon more extensive tracts are covered with a fine growth of young timber. No beds of coal have as yet been discovered, except at Coon Rapids, on the southern edge of the county, though it is not deemed improbable, says Dr. White, that the coal-measure formation underlies at least a portion of the county. The only specimens yet found have been discovered in digging wells and making other excavations, and are only small fragments associated with the loose material of the drift deposit. Peat is known to exist in several places in the county, some of which are of considerable extent, and should they be found to be free from sand and gravel, they will eventually become of some value as a resource for fuel. Good building stone is not found within the limits of Carroll County, the cretaceous sandstone being too friable to answer for ordinary building purposes, except some of the harder layers, which are employed in laying up rough under-pinnings, in walling wells, etc. Material for the manufacture of brick is found in abundance, yet care is necessary in selecting clay in the western portion of the county, in consequence of the prevalence of calcareous matter derived from the disintegration of the bluff deposits on the surface of the lower slopes. The lime thus mixed with the earth is converted into quicklime in the process of burning brick, and on exposure to moisture the lime slakes and bursts the brick.

Source: "Biographical and Historical Record of Carroll County, Iowa" ©1887

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