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Fayette County, Iowa

1878 History

  Early events in Smithfield Township:
1840--Mission Road on Westfield/Smithfield boundary.
1840--Wilcox cabin in Westfield Twp, just to the north.
1841/42--Orrear & Beatty cabin, 3/4 mi W of Wilcox
1842--Teagarden cabin, 3/4 mi W of Orrear/Beatty
1842/43--Very severe winter
1843--Teagarden killed by swindled Indians.
1843--Van Dorn settled in Twp.
1844--Hensley settles on eastern side of Twp.
1845--Hensley sells Winter wheat crop in Dubuque.
1846--Van Dorn/Messenger wedding, first in Twp.
1847--Brooks next settler in Twp.
1848--Brown preaches at Orrear's cabin, first sermon.
1852--First school house built.
1857--Smithfield Twp. organized government.

No towns developed in Smithfield.  Seaton Post Office was in SE corner. Steam saw mill, 1866, in NE corner.  Nine early schools.  Two churches, 1870's, SE corner.  Habitat, completely tall and wet grass prairie interspersed with trees along small streams.  Twp. sits south of Fayette (Westfield Twp) and west of Brush Creek (Arlington)/Taylorsville (Fairfield Twp.).


Site page links: 
[] Fayette History Index   []  Iowa Z Sitemap  []

 edited from the "History of Fayette County, Iowa, 1878"

William Orrear and James Beatty settled (2mi S, ¾ mi W of Main Street, Fayette, Iowa) on the NE ¼, NW ¼, Sec 5, T92, R8, in 1841 or 1842, and for 2-3 years were in company, keeping "bach." About the middle of the "long and dreary Winter" of 1842/43, they were called upon to entertain a house full of company, the particulars of which are narrated elsewhere. In March of 1843 the cabin became the sanctuary of the children of Tegarden, when they fled hither for shelter, and frm the door, could look out and see the lurid light from the fire that was destroying their home in which was their father’s dead body, off to the west about about a mile. (reference the Teagarden Massacre of 1843, where sometime after a swindle of a couple of Indians, Teagarden was killed in his cabin)

Orrear married in due time and settled down to be an industrious farmer. In 1846, when he sold his property, he had over eighty acres of broken and fenced ground, and had, for two years, managed a dairy of twenty-five cows.

William Van Dorn settled in Smithfield Township in 1843. In 1846, he married Miss Messenger; the first wedding in Smithfield.

Andrew Hensley settled within the present bound of Smithfield in April, 1844, and in 1845 sold a part of his crop of Winter wheat in Dubuque at the rate of $1.45 per bushel. Mr. Hensely purchased his groceries at this faraway market (Dubuque) for several years, often exchanging honey therefore, which could be obtained in large quantities by the experienced frontiersmen. The first convenient post office to Mr. Hensely’s was at Yankee Settlement, twenty-five miles away; but prior to 1849, his post office was at Dubuque. It is said that Mr. Hensley sent some of his children to school at Yankee Settlement before any school was established in Fayette County.

The next settler in Smithfield was Chauncey Brooks, who make his location here in 1847. Mr. Brooks was a New Yorker by birth, but was reared in Canada. He came to Linn County, Iowa in 1838, when only 21 years old, and had married to Hannah Casebeer in 1845, and their daughter Amanda was born in Smithfield Twp in 1848.

Rev. John Brown held a religious meeting in the Orrear house in 1848, probably the first serman every preached in Smithfield Twp.



The first school house was built on Sec 1, in 1852 or 1853, and Iantha Hendrickson was the first teacher; but a school was taught in a farm house, on the east line of the township, the previous year. Smithfield Twp. was organized in 1857. The voters present at the first school election in Smithfield, held at the house of William McNaul, may 3, 1858, were J.A. Hoge, L.m. Stranahan, F. Ba.., F. Hodges, William Bonine, Ira Potter, George Guard, james Bonine, e.B. Nichols, F.W.B. Stevenson, Harrison Gage, Thaddeus McNaul, J.A. Bonine, R. Gage, William McNaul, A.T. Liggett and Charles Hoyt. Charles Hoyt was elected President; Elisha DeMott, Vice President; L.M. Stevenson, Secretary; A.J. Liggett, Treasurer.

The next month, a special meeting was held, at which the questions of voting a two-mill tax for Teachers’ Fund, two mills for School House fund and the obtaining of a loan of 42,000 wee referred to the Board. March 12, 1860, the electors voted an eight-mill tax for school house purposes. In March, 1861, the application of Sup-District No. 5 for $300 for school house construction was rejected; and in 1863, its application for $68 to complete its building was refused. In 1864, No. 4 made application for %500, which was declined, and No 5’s request for $100 also. No. 5 again applied, in 1865, for $150, and was again refused, while No. 3/s application for $100 shared the same fate. In 1866, No. 1 met with the same treatment, and in 1867, six of the Sub-Districts petitioned for cash, with a like result. In 1868, four sup-districts ditto. This continued until 1872, when, it is stated, there were no applications for school house purposes.

The teachers during the Winter of 1871-72 were: No. 1, O.N. Ainsworth; No. 2, Mary E. White; No. 3, Sophia Z. Smith; No. 4, Mary J. McCormick; No. 5, Emma P. Hoge; No. 6, Rose A. Smith; NO. 7, D.D. Adams; No. 8, Alice Payne; No. 9, Emma A. Babcock. March 21, 1876, the voters of the township decided to adopt the Independent District system by a vote of 62 to 48.

No official records of Smithfield prior to April 14, 1862, are in existence. At that time, J.W. Hobson and William Pangborn, Trustees, met and appointed William Price to the vacancy caused by the other Trustee having neglected to qualify. Charles Green was the Clerk. The Trustees elected in 1862 were Charles Hoyt, J.W. Hobson, and William Pangborn, and H.S. Babcock was chosen Clerk, who continued in office until October, 1864, when they were succeeded by J.E. Budd, Ira Potter and E.B. Nichols, Trustees, and William McNaul, Clerk. Charles Hoyt and Henry S. Babcock became Justices, and W.H. Payne and Q.C. Babcock, constable---all by appointment. April 15, 1865, the Trustees held a meeting jointly with the Trustees of Harlan Township, just to the west, for the purpose of dividing the road work on the township line. The Trustees for 1867 were Alden Mitchell, B.N. Johnson and E.B. Nichols, with John Bills as Clerk. October 7, 1867, the boundaries of Road Districts Nos. 7, 5, 4, 11 and 8 re-adjusted, and on the 18th the election of Supervisor in Road District No. 7 was declared illega, there being an excess of thirteen votes over the number of voters in that district. The Trustees, in 1868, were B.N. Johnson, E.B. Nichols, and T.W.B. Stevenson, the clerk being Q.C. Babcock. An election was held Auguse 22, 1868, to determine whether the township should levy a tax of three per cent, in aid of the construction of the Davenport and St. Paul Railway.

For 1869, J.B. Nichols, G.W. Baker and D.P. Dawson, Trustees; D. W. Chittenden, Clerk. C. Lozier succeeded Mr. Dawson as Trustee for 1870. May 28, 1870, the question of three per cent tax, in aid of the Davenport and St. Paul Road was carried by a vote of 93 for the tax to 44 against the measure. October 4th, various changes were made in road district boundaries. The Trustees in 1871 were F. Snedigar, A. Mitchell and B.J. Nichols; Lyman E. Mitchell, Clerk. In 1872, the Trustees were F. Snedigar, J.J. Baker, and John Hobson; L.M. Stranahan, Clerk. The political leaning of the township is indicated by the fact that in 1872 Samuel J. Kirkwood received 86 votes for Elector at Large, while 44 were cast for Fitz Henry Warren. The Trustees for 1873 were E. B. Nichols, W.W. Chittenden and H.W. Payne; W.M. Goodrich, Clerk. These were succeeded, in 1874, by A.A. Knight, William Thompson and D.W. Chittenden, Trustees; W.M. Goodrich, Clerk. Trustees in 1875, B.J. Nichols, William Thompson and L.E. Mitchell; t.D. Perman, Clerk. In 1876, the Trustees were Benj. J. Nichols, Henry Abel and John Bills; and in 1877, B.J. Nichols, R.J. Rawson and John Bills; Mr. Goodrich being his won successor. In 1878, the Trustees are J.B. Nichols, R.J. Rawson and Finley Smith; Frank A. Pangborn, Clerk.

The various stock marks recorded in Smithfield Twp. are those of S.P. Babcock, Q.C. Babcock, H.S. Babcock, L. Peterman, D.W. Chittenden and George Carter.

The steam saw-mill located on Section 1 (SE ¼, NE ¼, SW ¼, Sec 1, T92, R8; z/2000) is owned by Samuel Hendrickson, and was set up in 1866. The engine has a capacity of fifteen horse power. Much walnut is sawed here, and a little pine (local red cedar, z/2000).

The Methodist Episcopal Church in the SW part of the township (SW ¼, S ½, SW ½ Sec 25, T92, R8; z/2000), was built in 1876. Rev. C.W Burgers is Pastor (1878). The United Brethren also built a commodious church on Section 34, in 1876.

Smithfield is almost entirely prairie, beautifully rolling, and settled by an industrious, intelligent population. The farmers of Smithfield are anxious to have a cheese factory established in their midst, in order to make a home market for themselves, being anxious to work out of grain growing as soon as possible.



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