|1. Before Settlement||5. Cook Township||9. Odebolt's Incorporation|
|2. Selling the Land||6. Clinton Township||10. First Houses|
|3. The Railroad Arrives||7. Richland Township||11. Odebolt in Early Census|
|4. Wheeler Township||8. Odebolt Platted in 1877|
(Source: "Fifty Years of Progress"; The Odebolt Chronicle, Vol. 51, Number 31, Thursday, August 25, 1938)
"When we first reached the new town of Ida (now Ida Grove) in March, 1872," writes Chester Evans of Lobo, Kansas, in an article describing his recollections of Sac and Ida county wildlife..., "it was a wild country with only one house between Storm Lake and the settlement on the Maple River.
"There was a grove called the "big grove' north of town, and a smaller grove about four miles farther north on a creek. The principal timber was oak, ash and basswood and along the banks of the Maple river grew maples and willows. The undergrowth consisted of hazel, prickly ash, gooseberries and grapes."
"The groves were the haunts for wild game, deer, timber wolves, lynx, wild cats and many smaller fur bearing animals. I have seen Barney Ward start out in the morning with his sorrel team of mules and a hay rack, and with his younger brother and his cousin, Wick Davis, as hunters, come in at dusk with all the deer the team could pull."
"There were many beaver, mink and otter on the Maple river and tributaries, and Odebolt creek seemed to be selected by the muskrats as the place to build their numerous colonies. Although fur was cheap, men made good money winter trapping
"Maple river was full of fish (pike, pickerel, red horse and suckers, spoonbill, yellow or channel catfish) which were caught by hook and line and by dip nets. In the creeks were plenty of mud cats and suckers. The Indians who camped on the Maple were great fishermen and were experts with the bow and arrow and spear."
"Bird life in the early days was a hunter's paradise. Prairie chickens were everywhere and their drumming as the sun came up could be heard on all sides. Many men made their living killing these birds which were hauled to Storm Lake and Denison and shipped to eastern markets. We also hunted their nests for eggs."
"Geese, ducks and brant were with us each spring and fall and a few nested along the streams in the summer. The large Canadian geese would come in long V shaped bands with an old gander in the lead. They would light in fields and on the prairie to feed during the day and rest on the water at night. There were mallard ducks by the thousand and so tame it was easy to get a shot. There were teal and pintails without number and an occasional canvasback. Their feathers made many a soft feather bed and numerous pillows."
"I remember when a flight of beautiful swans lit on the Maple and Barney Ward shot three. They were large birds, pure white with black beaks and feet."
"The sandhill cranes came each spring. They were gray or slate color and stood nearly as tall as a man. It was interesting to see them put on a dance, prancing and jumping high into the air. They were supposed to kill snakes and we had many rattlesnakes for them to live on."
"Quail were to be found in the groves and in the scrub oak patches but as I remember they were not numerous. Hunters considered them too small to shoot anyway. Pelicans paid us an annual visit. They were large white birds with peculiar yellow pouches under their long bills. Loons were frequently seen and more frequently heard. Their voice is weird and unearthly. They are beautiful birds, powerful swimmers and expert divers. The killdeer was a saucy little fellow that lived on grubs and worms by day and mosquitoes at night. No one killed them for they were our feathered friends. There were jack-snipes and blueshanks, both long billed birds, mourning doves, kingfishers, blue jays, meadow larks, and many others. "As for birds of prey, we had hawks and owls of many species and there was an occasional eagle killed by a hunter's gun."
An important factor in the railroad development of the United States was the aid given by the national and state governments in the form of land grants and loans. Special tax levies were also voted by many local communities in order to induce the railroad companies to build through them.
In spite of the best efforts of Iowa's delegation in congress, little headway was made in securing from congress a land grant for Iowa railroads until 1856. On May 15th of that year, however, a bill was approved by President Franklin Pierce which provided grants of land to four railroads to be built across the state of Iowa. Sic sections of land were to be given for every mile constructed providing the roads were completed within 10 years. The land granted was to be in alternate sections, the government reserving every other section for itself.
The Governor of Iowa, James W. Grimes called a special session of the Iowa legislature on June 3, 1856, and an act was passed to become effective on July 16, 1856, accepting the land grant from congress. The act also specifically apportioned the land to four railroads - the Burlington and Missouri, the Mississippi and Missouri, the Iowa Central Airline, and the Dubuque and Pacific.
As the Iowa Central Airline failed to build, its land grant was transferred to the Cedar Rapids and Missouri Railroad in 1860.
Not only was the Cedar Rapids and Missouri railroad of importance because it furnished the first railroad transportation near Sac county but even more so because the disposal of its land grant was an important factor in securing the settlement of west central IOwa and especially of part of Sac county in the vicinity of the present Odebolt.
In order to dispose of its land, a new company was organized under the name of the Iowa Railroad Land company. The transfer of the railroad land grant to the company took place on Sept. 15, 1869.
The land company advertised extensively in the newspapers of Cedar Rapids, Chicago and elsewhere and thereby attracted many buyers. It is of interest to read the advertisements which induced Odebolt's pioneer farmers to come to the locality. The Following advertisement which appeared in the "Cedar Rapids Daily Republican," Sept. 2, 1872, was typical.
To improve 1,700,000 acres of the very best Farming Lands in
which can now be had at Present Value on long time, with six per cent interest on deferred payments.
These lands comprise the Government R. R. grants along
the C. & N. W. Ill. Central and Sioux City & Pacific Railways, and are mainly located
IN THE MIDDLE REGION OF WESTERN IOWA
noted for its salubrious climate - fever and ague being unknown - and inexhaustible soil
- a finely watered yet perfectly drained district in the best agricultural Sate in the Union.
NOW IS THE TIME TO SECURE A HOME AT $4 OR $5
per acre, in the luxurious valley of either the Boyer, the Maple , the Soldier, or the Little Sioux.
Exploring tickets can be had at the Railroad Ticket
offices in Chicago, Davenport, Clinton and Dubuque,
or at our office in Cedar Rapids, receivable for land purchase.
County maps sent free. Send for a Guide - it
gives descriptions, prices, terms, locations, and how to reach the lands.
ADDRESS JOHN B. CALHOUN, LAND COMMISSIONER,
IOWA R.R. LAND COMPANY, CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA
Capt. (William) Familton, the Company's Field Agent, will be found at Denison every Tuesday,
with teams to show lands free to purchasers.
The Iowa Railroad Land company, together with land companies organized by other railroads, and aided by the state immigration officials, did much to bring about the disappearance of Iowa's last frontier. Immigration to the state, which ahd been greatly retarded by the Civil war, was speeded up, and by the end of the decade of the seventies thriving towns and farms dotted what, only a few years before, had been virgin prairie land.
Not only did the land company sell large farms in the vicinity of the present town of Odebolt to H. C. Wheeler, C. W. Cook, B. A. Coy and W. W. Field, but it also sold smaller farms to scores of other pioneers in the locality.
....By 1861, very little railroad construction had taken place west of the Mississippi river. The Mississippi and Missouri railroad had been built from Davenport to Iowa City. The Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska railroad had been completed from the Mississippi to Cedar Rapids. This line is of interest to Odebolt and vicinity. It was planned, as the name of the railroad indicates, to extend the line westward to Nebraska. Had this plan been carried out railroad facilities would have provided for western Iowa considerably sooner than they were.
New Company Meanwhile there had been organized at Cedar Rapids, on June 14, 1859, the Cedar Rapids and Missouri Railroad company. ...The company applied for and received the land grant of the defunct Iowa Central Airline railroad on March 26, 1860. The work of building westward from cedar Rapids was vigorously pushed so that in 1861 forty miles of railroad were constructed. By Dec.1, 1862, Marshalltown was reached. Nevada was reached July 1, 1864; Boone in March, 1865; and Council Bluffs, late in 1867. From 1862 on, W. W. Walker of Cedar Rapids was the chief engineer in charge of construction. The total length of the line constructed from Cedar Rapids was a little more than 271 miles which entitled the railroad to almost a million acres of land. The swerving of the line southwesterly from Denison to Council Bluffs, it should be mentioned, was made possible by special action of Congress in 1864. It was this railroad which was utilized by early settlers in the vicinity of what is now Odebolt. Vail, West Side and Denison, situated on it, were important distribution points for southern Sac County before a railroad was run through that region in the late seventies.
Sac County By 1876 the southern part of Sac county, as well as Ida county, had been sufficiently settled to make it profitable for a railroad to be put through the region. Accordingly the stockholders of the Cedar Rapids and Missouri railroad, on June 10 of that year, organized a subsidiary railroad, called the Maple River railroad company, to serve as a "feeder" for the main line.
Construction was got under way in October, 1876, and, on November 19, 1877, the first portion of the line, extending a little more than 38 miles northwest of Maple River Junction, was opened and put into operation. It was on that date that the first train in regular service pulled into Odebolt, which had been platted a short time before.
On to Mapleton Shortly afterwards the road was opened as far as Mapleton, a total distance of slightly more than 60 miles from Maple River Junction. It was not until 1886-1887 that the 20 1/2 mile line between Mapleton and Onawa was built, and then by the Chicago and Northwestern railroad, which had leased the Maple River railroad.
While dealing with the Maple River railroad, it should be mentioned that it was this company which constructed the railroad between Wall Lake and Sac City in 1879, and so gave the county seat its first railroad connection with the outside world. By 1884, when the Chicago and Northwestern took over the Maple River railroad, the line had been extended to Kingsley, almost 71 miles from Wall Lake.
First Depot The first depot in Odebolt was built in 1877 and the first agent was H. T. Martin. His son, J. T. Martin, seems to have actually performed the agent's work while his daughter, Emma, was the first telegraph operator. H. T. Martin was the first commissioned notary public in the town. He is credited with having organized the first Sabbath school in the community in December, 1877. In the fall of 1881, running as an independent, he was elected county superintendent of schools, whereupon he severed his connection with Odebolt. He had been a teacher in Boone county for 12 years before coming to Odebolt.
Wheeler township, formed by dividing Levey township, was organized as a separate political unit in 1875. It was named after Hiram C. Wheeler, who, after making a fortune in a business enterprise in California and through money speculation during the Civil War, purchased nine sections of land in Sac county in the fall of 1871. For this land, secured from the Iowa Rail Road Land company, he was charged $3.00 an acre but received a discount because of the size of his purchase. Swedish Settlement As early as 1867 a Swedish settlement was started in Crawford county near the Sac county line. Within the next few years others came and settled within what is now Wheeler township, Sac county. One of the early settlers in the locality was not a Swede but a Scotchman, John Bruce. He bought land in Wheeler township in 1871, but did not move on it until 1874. His son, J. S. Bruce, came with him, bringing his family which included his baby boy born the previous year - J. L. Bruce with whom all in Odebolt now are familiar. Solomon Peterson, more familiarly known as "Sol," bought 80 acres in the township in 1873 and brought his family to it the next spring. He built the third house in the township.
In 1874 came Andrew E. Johnson and his cousin, Henry Hanson, who purchased 320 acres in partnership. August Lundell purchased 160 acres in 1874 but did not move onto the land until 1875. Joseph P. Goreham moved onto his half section farm in 1874. John Nelson settled in the township in 1877 but moved on westward in 1881. However, his son, Alfred, continued in the township. Abner L. Chandler has been mentioned in connection with the Wheeler Ranch. He was in the township several years before Odebolt was founded.
Other Settlers Others in the locality at an early date, at least by 1875 as shown by election returns for that year, were Daniel Lesher, William Henderson, Martin Purcell, A.D. Peck, Orin Haskins, Louis Lumberg, A. P. Nelson and G. A. Gustafson. Nor may the names of John A. Stolt, C. J. Johnson, August Lundell and John Baker be omitted from a list of early settlers.
In 1876 Hiram B. Smith purchased a half section in Wheeler township but he did not move onto the land until 1880. His brother-in-law, Michael B. Wolf, settled in the township in 1882. Andrew Lundell located in the township in 1878 on a farm later occupied by Peter G. Lundell. Abraham Teaquist came in 1877, bringing his 11 year old son, known since 1886 by everyone for miles around Odebolt as Col. Albert S. Teaquist, the auctioneer.
W. W. Field was an early purchaser of land in Wheeler township, but he did
not move onto his section until 1879. He had been prominent in Wisconsin
before coming to the vicinity of Odebolt. At one time he served as
president of the Iowa State Agricultural society. His section is now a
part of the Adams Ranch (in 1938). By 1880 there were 627 people in the
Cook Township was once included within Boyer Valley, but in
1876 was created as a separate township.
It was named for C. W. Cook, owner of the Cook Ranch at the time.
By Erik McKinley Eriksson
The Cook ranch is today but a memory, yet it was once the largest farm in Sac county. On April 15, 1873, Charles Willard Cook of Chicago purchased 12 sections of land in what was the West Boyer Valley township in Sac county. For the 7,680 acres he paid the Iowa Rail Road Land company $5 an acre, or a total of $38,400. It was his intention to develop "a mammoth stock far."
Born in 1832 at Haddam, Conn., Mr. Cook had moved to Chicago in 1854. In 1869 he became a wholesale coal dealer. He was also interested in real estate, timber, banks, railroads, street cars and insurance. After purchasing his Sac county land he subdivided it into half section tracts, each with a complete set of buildings. These farms he rented to tenants.
Near the center of his land, on the Richland-Cook township line, he erected his own residence. His first house burned in the early nineties and was replaced by the large house which still stands. (in 1938) It was equipped with hot water heat, gas lights and "all other modern improvements,' in the days when such conveniences were rare in that part of Iowa.
In 1893, his son, Albert Eugene Cook, became manager of the ranch. About 1908 he began to sell the smaller farms composing the ranch and within a few years the Cook ranch was a thing of the past. A. E. Cook removed to Kankekee, Ill., to engage in manufacturing.
B. A. Coy Another large land owner in what is now Cook township was B. A. Coy. In 1876 he bought a large tract reported to have been two and one-half sections. For awhile he lived on it but moved to the town of Odebolt when it was founded. At the time of his death he was occupying the residence on the northwest corner of Maple and Fourth streets.
Other early settlers in the vicinity were William Cory, P. W. Lashier, J. E. Sanborns, Joseph Dick, Charles Prentice, H. A. Wilson and J. C. Bodine. By 1880 the population of Cook township, which had been separated from Boyer Valley township in 1876, was 400.
... the first settlements in Sac County were in the eastern part. Gradually settlers pushed westward, occupying the Boyer valley, and then moving on towards the site of the future Odebolt.
One of the earliest settlers in Clinton township was M. D. Fox, who came to the township in the spring of 1874. He built the third house in the township, the first having been built by Jacob Brown i the fall of 1873. It was Mr. Fox and N. B. Umbarger who went to Sac City in 1875 and secured the organization of Clinton township as a separate political unit. They also gave it the name which it bears, after Clinton county, Iowa, from which they had moved to Sac county.
Conrad Meyer purchased a quarter section in the township in 1873. John Currie came to Clinton township in 1874. His son, Malcolm, now of Sac City, former county attorney, is reputed to have been the first white child born in Clinton township. Donald McCorkindale Sr., also came to the township in 1874. Henry Frey Sr. occupied a half section in the township in the spring of 1874. Marcellus Bartlett came in 1875. In l876 came William A. Stanzel Sr., William Quirk and Thomas Quirk. William Quirk had first come to Sac county in 1874, but did not settle on his Clinton township farm until two years later.
Other early settlers in Clinton township were Charles Martin, George Martin, John Draper, Oscar Draper, Charles Sherwood, Archibald Ray and the REv. Jesse Helsell, father of W. A. Helsell.
Others who came to Clinton township about the time Odebolt was being developed were Asa B. Smith, Henry Kessler, Alexander McGeachy and Henry Clark Robinson. They all arrived in 1878. By 1880 there were 521 people in the township.
Since Odebolt is located in Richland township it is of special interest to note some of the early settlers in the region. Many of these were Germans who formed the line of approach to the Odebolt locality from the north, just as the Swedes had approached from the south and people largely of native American stock from the east and southeast.
Among the first to arrive was Sebastian Buehler Sr., who settled in the township in 1872. His brother-in-law, O. Rudolph, came at the same time and settled on the farm now (1938) occupied by Edward B. Dannenberg. Rudolph, it should be mentioned, died as a result of exposure in a terrific blizzard.
Jacob Buehler Sr., also came in 1872 as did Frederick Petersmeyer. Nathaniel Brown Umbarger who, it is interesting to note, was a native Virginian and had served in the Confederate army, came in 1873. Thomas Down Sr. came in 1873. The following year, however, he returned to Illinois, and did not return until 1885, when he settled on the farm now occupied by his son, Thomas Down. In 1873 John Wesley Younie bought a quarter section in the southwestern part of the township but did not settle on it until the following spring.
S. E. Peck came in a covered wagon in 1874 and settled a short distance northeast of what is now Odebolt. John Konradi Sr. came to the township in 1875.
Conrad Hausman came in 1875, shortly before the Rabes. Fred Frevert Sr. also came in the seventies. John Fuchs came to the township in 1877 but did not settle on his own farm for some time. John Hix was in Boyer Valley township as early as 1876, but it was not until 1890, after the elder Hix had died, that the family moved to Richland township. James A. Cranston purchased land in the township as early as 1873 but did not settle on it until 1878, after the railroad had been built through Odebolt. John Dinges purchased a section in 1874 but he too awaited the coming of the railroad before settling on the land. He erected his buildings in 1879 and brought his family out the next year.
Other settlers who were evidently in the township in 1876, to judge by the list of officers elected after Richland was separated from Clinton township that year, were C. H. Babcock, J. B. Calkins, Thomas Dorman, P. K. Sanderson, A. L. Miner, E. A. Bennett, W. P. Purcell, Jacob Miller, E. Colvin and J. Stickles.
"Rich Land" - Richland township was cut off from Clinton township by the board of supervisors in 1876. It was named by a Mr. Stewartson of Illinois, because of its fertile soil.
The Iowa Railroad Land company dealt only in farm lands and at first no provision was made for the disposal of town lots. But in June, 1871, the stockholders of the land company organized a subsidiary company, the Blair Town Lot and Land company to plot towns and sell lots in them. Subsequently, four towns in Sac county, Wall Lake, Odebolt, Early and Schaller, as well as numerous other towns, were platted by this town lot company.
In a very real sense Odebolt is an offspring of Cedar Rapids, for in addition to the fact that a railroad company of that city built the railroad through the town, it was the Blair Town Lot and Land company of that city which planned and platted the town. At first there was some doubt as to just where the new town would be located. Settlers in Levey township, led by James Taylor, sought to have it located in the vicinity of the Taylor farm (later the Gosch farm) several miles east of the place where the town is at present situated. It was expected that if the town were located in Levey township it would be named Taylorville.
Wheeler's Influence But H. C. Wheeler made a determined fight to have the town platted on his land. To bring this about he donated to the Blair Town Lot and Land company the site of the town, as originally platted, and he also donated to the Maple River railroad the right of way and $2,000 in cash. As a result of these inducements the town lot company, on August 22, 1877, plated the original town. It was bounded on the south by what is now Fourth street; on the east by Willow street; on the north by the railroad track; and on the west by a line from the track south along Walnut street to Second street, then west along Second street to what is now Hanson boulevard (first called Grant street), then south along that boulevard to Fourth Street.
The present (1938) size of the town has been attained by making successive additions labeled respectively the First Addition, Second Addition, Wheeler's First Addition, Wheeler's Second Addition, Eckman's Addition, Taggart's First Addition, Taggart's Second Addition, Walters' Addition, Cottage Grove Addition, Lowderbaugh's Addition, Lundblad's Addition and Highland Park Addition.
Odebolt was platted by the Blair Town Lot Co. during the summer of 1877, and within six months residents were talking about incorporating. Early in March 1878, necessary arrangements were made at a public meeting and W. W. Shanks, John Bruce and W. Van Duesen were appointed a committee to draw up a plat of the proposed incorporate limits.
The election on the incorporation of the town was held on Monday, May 13, 1878. Sixty-two votes were cast, of which 57 were for the proposition, three against, and two were spoiled ballots.
Odebolt's first town election was held July 8, 1878, in the loan office of Wright and Hatch. Nominations had been made at a caucus about two weeks earlier, and the followings officers were named: James Ross, mayor; Clint Paine, treasurer; C. A. Husen, assessor; W. Van Duesen, recorder; and J. M. Boles, C. H. Dalbkermeyer, L. Schmitz, J. W. Fairbanks and C. B. Hatfield, trustees. Van Duesen held the office of recorder for but a short time, when he was resigned and was followed by John Zane.
The first council meeting was held July 19, 1878, in Hempen's hall. Subsequent meetings were held here until February, 1879, when a room was rented from Jesse Helsell for a council room and Mayor's office.
In December, 1877, Odebolt had about 12 dwelling houses. They had been built by George J. Buehler, J. M. Bowles, R. N. Gould, Dr. Duvall, P. Murphy, Levi Olney, Mr. Wilhelm H. Hanson, Fred Lindquist and William Richards.
According to the Odebolt Reporter of Dec. 6, 1877, the first town lot was sold to Ward Van Dusen, who erected a store building 22 by 60 feet.
Others who had buildings erected or under construction at that time were G. B. Hempen, James Ross, George C. Belt, H. T. Martin, Brady, White & Sifford; Robert Jolly, E. Geist, J. Helsell, Shanks & Woodward, M. R. Camery, W. W. Beck & William Graham. Grain and coal warehouses had been built by Mr. Hatfield, E. P. Payne, Geist & Buehler, and John Bruce & Son, the latter two firms having lumber yards. J. W. Boles and W. M. Beck had built blacksmith shops, and a small building had been erected for a depot.
Odebolt market quotations of Dec. 6, 1877 - Wheat, 80 cents; barley 25 cents; corn 15 cents; oats 12 cents; hogs, per cwt. $3.10; eggs, 15 cents; butter, 17 cents; potatoes, 50 cents; flour, per 100 pounds, $3.10; salt, per barrel, $2; buckwheat, per 25-lb. sack, $1.25; coal, $4.50 to $5.00 per ton.
The first census taken after the founding of Odebolt, the census of 1880, showed that the town then had a total population of 637 as compared with 595 in Sac City. Wall Lake had 208 people and Grant City had 189. No figures were given for Fletcher, as Lake View was then called. No other town existed in Sac county in 1880.
In the election of 1881, Richland township cast 265 votes for governor while Jackson township, including Sac City, cast but 243 votes. The superiority of Odebolt over Sac City in the matter of population in 1880 is to be explained on the ground that the county seat was without railroad facilities until 1879.
By 1885, Odebolt's population had increased to 954, of whom 494 were males and 460 females. One hundred and eighty-six of the people were foreign born, 89 having been born in Sweden and 52 in Germany. Only 19 of those foreign born were unnaturalized, which is a testimonial of the Americanism which has always prevailed in Odebolt.
On the other hand, 768 were native born, a rather surprising fact in view of the oft repeated remark that Odebolt was largely a settlement of Germans and Swedes. Many of these nationalities had occupied the farming country to the north and south of the town, respectively, but it is evident that they formed but a small minority of the population in the town. In 1885, there were 208 dwellings in Odebolt, occupied by 212 families.
The 1895 census report showed the population of Odebolt to be 1,400. By 1900 the total population was 1,432, which was the peak. Since that date there has been a slight decline amounting to about 10 per cent. (in 1938)
(transcribed by Barbara Girvan Horak, July 2001)