HISTORIES OF DES MOINES COUNTY, IA
Thanks to Cay Merryman
Northfield is situated in the northeastern part of Yellow Springs Township. Part of the site of the village was claimed by Samuel Smith, who sold out to Silas Belknap. The latter entered the claim. The other portion of the present Northfield was originally claimed and entered by John Millard. Lewis Benedict was interested with Millard in the claim and sold the same to William Phiney. In the spring of 1837, James Carr came from Ohio and settled on the claim now partly joining and partly in Northfield. William Phiney, the founder of this village, was born in Connecticut, May 12, 1790, afterward lived in York State and Pennsylvania, from where, in 1836, he emigrated to Florence, Louisa Co., Iowa. There he kept a tavern and ran a ferry boat on the Iowa River. In 1843, he purchased the land heretofore referred to, which he improved and thereon built a frame house. The neighborhood soon became thickly settled and went by the name of Hickory Point.
In 1851, William McMullen and William Moore started a carding machine there, selling the next year to W. F. Robinson and Thomas Davis, who added much to the business and capacity of the establishment, and, in 1855, removed it to its present location. In 1852, the first dwelling-house was built by W. F. Robinson, and, in 1855, he was appointed Postmaster, the post office established and named Northfield. A store was started there in 1853, by Coty & Hiatt.
The town lots were laid out by William Phiney, and surveyed by J. Wilson Williams, in 1866.
In 1836, a German named Siedenbender established a claim just a half-mile north of the site of Northfield. He afterward sold to William Walter, he to Foster Carmean who now lives on it.
Francis Blake residing in Huron Township, about two miles east of Northfield, was born in Franklin County, Vt., September 9, 1804. From there he emigrated with his brother Calvin Blake, to Peoria, leaving Vermont in September, 1834. They arrived at their destination in December of the same year. In April, 1836, Francis Blake and R. P. Burlingame, a nephew of Gen. Putnam, came to Iowa, on Iowa River, where they started a town called Iowa, and there opened a store.
They dealt to a considerable extent with the Indians. During the summer of 1837, they dissolved partnership, Burlingame returned to Peoria, and Blake traded the remainder of his goods to Nathaniel Prime for a claim of 700 acres of land, which he commenced to improve at once, living in the old log cabin built by Prime. In 1849, Mr. Blake built a brick residence, which has since been enlarged, and where he now lives. November 3, 1842, he was married to Mary Houston, of Lee County. When Francis Blake came to Iowa, the following pioneers lived in the vicinity of Northfield: David Russell, Jerry Smith, Mr. Snowden, Thomas Sheridan, William Phiney, Thomas Blair, David Blair and Judge Rankin, most of whom settled in Iowa in 1836. In those days, religious meetings were held in private log cabins. The first preachers were Daniel Cartright, Mr. Comstock, Mr. Gifford, and N. Prime, all of whom were Methodists.
The first school was taught in 1837, in a vacated claim cabin, located in what is now Yellow Springs Township, about three miles southwest of the present Northfield. In this cabin religious meetings were also held, and in the absence of a preacher, religious readings were substituted for sermons. Dr. S. Fullenwider was frequently the reader.
The Methodist Church was the first house of worship erected in Northfield, and was built in 1855. James Haynes was the first preacher, and the present Pastor is T. J. Meyer. Previous to the building of this church, meetings were held in the schoolhouse, one-half of a mile east of the village.
About 1856, the old school was moved into the village and taught by Miss Minerva Braden. In 1868, a new schoolhouse was built, and the teacher employed therefor was J. O. Andrews. The present teacher is D. C. Hubbs. A. N. Wycoff is the present Postmaster of Northfield.
The village has two general stores, two blacksmiths, one shoemaker, one woolen factory and two physicians.