Our City

BEAVER TOWNSHIP

Beaver Township continued to be a part of Camp Township for a number of years, and its early history is a part of that of Camp Township. When Beaver Township was first organized it consisted of just one congressional township, and, therefore, was six miles square, and contained just thirty-six sections of land. In June, 1878, a trip two miles wide was taken off from the west side of the township, which became a part of the new township of Clay, and thereby left Beaver but four miles wide, by six long, and containing but twenty-four sections. This is the size of the township now. The highest point of land in the county is in this township, and according too the railroad measurements it lies just half way between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The surface is rolling and well watered by Mud Creek and Camp Creek, both of which streams have their source in this locality.

626 HISTORY OF POLK COUNTY

According to the assessor's return last spring (1880) there was at that time in the township the following personality:

PERSONALITY

Horses . . . . .        412    $18,560
Mules . . . . .  16   905
Neat cattle. . . . . 711  9,208
Fat cattle. . . . . .   127    2,455
Sheep . . . . . . .     55   82
Swine. . . . . . . 1,880   4,955
Vehicles . . . . .      43  1,640
Money and credits: .      8,725
Furniture . . .    710
Other matters . .         779
Total      3,244        $48,040

The first settlement made within the bounds of this township was by Thomas Mitchell in April, 1844. His original claim comprehended parts of sections 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26. William Duncan settled on section 28 during the year 1847. George Barlow took a claim in 1846. The first marriage was that of Lewis Burke and Mrs. Maria Vice, on April 6, 1848. The ceremony was performed by Wm. A. Meacham, of Fort Des Moines. In the month of September, 1847, was the first birth which occurred in the township; it was that of James Bark, son of John and Susan Burk. The first death was that of a young man named Lathrop, who died in the spring of 1846. He was buried in the Spring Creek graveyard in Camp Township. The first regular practicing physician was Dr. J. E. Whartrnan, who came from Cedar county in 1858. He now resides in Colorado. The first preaching in Beaver Township, and probably the first in Polk County, outside Moines, was at the residence of Thomas Mitchell, during the summer of 1844. The preacher was a traveling Methodist minister by the name of Pardo. The first schoolhouse erected within the bounds of Beaver Township was built on section twenty-five. It was a log building, and was erected by Mr. Mitchell, without the assistance of any one else. Not only was the first schoolhouse a private enterprise, but also was the first school, which was taught by Miss Lucia, now Mrs. William Hibbs, who was employed and paid by Mr. Mitchell; the compensation was two dollars per week. This township is peculiarly well situated as regards the railroads thus far built. It is traversed by two railroads, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific and the Keokuk & Des Moines. Nobleton is the station on the latter, and Mitchellville on the former thoroughfare. While these roads were under separate management the producers and shippers had the advantage of competing lines. These roads are now under one management.

MITCHELLVILLE

627 HISTORY OF POLK COUNTY

In July, 1856, Thomas Mitchell, Milton Ferguson, and Wilson Jones, laid out a town on section two, township seventy-nine, range twenty-two, and called it Mitchellville. In May, 1867, the new town of Mitchellville was laid out by Thomas Mitchell, on the northwest quarter of section twelve. This town was made a station on the line of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad. Its growth has been steady and its career has been marked by a gradual and healthy prosperity, until the present time, when it has become something more than simply a country trading point. Business houses representing every branch of trade have been established and are in a healthy condition. The following houses are the more important ones:

Valentine & Sherwood, general merchandise.

George D. Moore, dry goods.

Isaac Henshie, dry goods and drugs.

S. S. Moore & Son, dry goods and groceries.

J. H. Jones, clothing.

G. D. Barkalow, Flower & Hecox, and Mrs. Southerland, groceries.

D. H. Reichard, drugs and books.

E. B. Hagaman and L. W. Cannon, hardware and agricultural implements.

M. T. Russell, and McCrary & Heald, grain dealers.

Each firm has an elevator for the purpose of handling grain.

Kimball & Mitchell, lumber.

James Andrews, flouring mill.

Shantz & Warner, flax mill.

Humphrey House, kept by P. H. Humphrey, and the Hoxie House, kept by D. R. Hoxie.

S. J. Oldfield keeps a store of general merchandise, and is at present the postmaster.

Mrs. H. Sternberg, bakery and confectionery.

A. D. Coleman and Frank Anshutz, watch-makers and jewelers.

Charles E. Lee, C. K. Patterson, H. W. Halderman, and T. Seems, physicians and surgeons.

M. L. & A. H. Aiken, millinery.

As a shipping point, Mitchellville is a place of no small pretensions. During the past year there have been shipped over three hundred thousand bushels of corn and one hundred thousand bushels of wheat.

THE MITCHELLVILLE NEWS

This paper is published by E. T. Cressey, by whom it was established about two years ago. It was at first a six column folio, and last December it was enlarged to a seven column paper. The paper is deservedly very popular and goes into every township in the county. It has enjoyed a gradual and constant career of prosperity from the time it was first  established, and is now considered not only a permanent institution, but one whose prosperity and that of the town are identical.

MITCHELL SEMINARY

This institution was founded in 1872, and was named in honor of the Hon. Thomas Mitchell, by

whose enterprise and liberality it was founded.

628 HISTORY OF POLK COUNTY

The corner stone was laid July 4th, 1872, and it was opened for school in September, 1873. The building is three stories high, with a mansard tower, and the building, in connection with the land which belongs to it, cost about $40,000. While this institution was in operation it was under the control of the Iowa Universalist convention, but it was non-sectarian in its management. The school was very prosperous for a time and was self-sustaining. The building, however, was not fully paid for, and the debt which had been incurred was a continuous burden to the persons who originated and carried forward the enterprise. During the former part of the present year it was sold to the State for the sum of $20,000, and is now used as a girl's department of the

STATE REFORM SCHOOL

The Reform School was removed to its present location in May of the present year, and after about one month's trial it has been found to be very well adapted for the purpose for which the State purchased it. The following is a brief account of the Reform School from the time of its first establishment: In 1866 the Legislature leased the property known as White's Manual Labor Institute, a farm of fourteen hundred acres in Lee county. After five years the boys' department was removed to Eldora, in Hardin County. A home for the girls was then opened at the White farm, and was continued until the expiration of the lease. In May, 1878, the school was removed to Mt. Pleasant, and located in a building which was leased for five years. The lease expired during the early part of the present year, and the school was removed to Mitchellville, as already stated. We will give a brief synopsis of the manner in which the school is governed. A record book is kept, and upon the entry of each girl her name, age and parentage are recorded. A careful training is given, and if the conduct of the pupil is perfect she gets a grade of 100. If her conduct will warrant 60, she is credited for the whole month. When she shall have gained twelve of these monthly grades of 100 she is entitled to a leave of absence. The system begins with 60 and grades up so that the last month in school must warrant her 95 in order to have a perfect record. She is then granted a leave of absence and if she conducts herself in conformance with the rules of society, the grant is made permanent; but, in case of misbehavior, she will be subjected to a second ordeal, and she will then have to be on her good behavior for thirteen months before she is granted another leave of absence. The following is a brief synopsis of a late report made by Superintendent Lewelling:

Whole number of girls received since the opening of school       84
Attained majority and discharged          12
Granted leave of absence     22
Eloped. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
Total       42

                                                              

629 HISTORY OF POLK COUNTY

Remaining         42
Returned from development.        8
Returned from leave of absence     3
Total     53

Of this number, the several counties sent the following:

Polk     19
Pottawattamie  
Lee    9
Wapello     6
Benton           5
Mahaska   4
Mills      3
Clinton        3
Henry      2
Jackson      2
Washington     2
Dubuque      2
Jefferson         2
Nativity  
Iowa        44
Missouri     12
Illinois   6
Sweden    2
Germany  1
Canada       1

Parentage:

American   40
German     13
Irish    12
African  

10

The girls were committed by the following tribunals:

Supreme Court    3
District Court       36
Circuit Court   31
Police Court 

14

Causes of Commitment:

Incorrigibility 31
Vagrancy    17
Manslaughter    1
Disorderly conduct   13
Larceny     11

 

630 HISTORY OF POLK COUNTY

Keeping brothel        1
Prostitutes     10

Ages.

Five years   1
Seven years     3
Nine years   3
Ten years     2
Eleven years   2
Twelve years     4
Thirteen years     4
Fourteen years    14
Fifteen years   26
Sixteen years   15
Seventeen years     8
Eighteen years       2

Social Conditions

Lost father   23
Lost mother       11
Lost both parents   21
Parents separated      7
Parents living together 18
Parents unknown   4

The following remarks as to results are from a statement recently made by Superintendent Lewelling: "It is an opinion too prevalent that the result of our labors here are not sufficient to justify the expense incurred by the State in maintaining such an institution, but it must be borne in mind that many of these girls come from the slums of the cities and almost all from broken homes, where the sweet, quiet influence of love is never known. It is a remarkable fact that in almost every case either the father or mother is dead, frequently both parents, or if living, they are separated, or living together unhappily. Of course the progeny of such homes, and such circumstances are often shiftless, incorrigible and vicious, and from such homes and such circumstances, come the boys and girls of the Reform School. "It becomes, therefore, the duty of such institutions as ours to restrain and reform such characters as these, and it can scarcely be hoped that all will have amended their lives. It can positively be shown, however, that as many as seventy per cent of those committed to the institution return to their homes reformed in purpose and conduct, and that few of them lapse into their vicious habits. "Subjoined are a few extracts from letters written by girls who have graduated out of the school. The first is from the first girl discharged four years ago: "Mr. & Mrs. Lewelling: WASHINGTON, Iowa, Sept. 20, 1878. "Dear Friends- * * I am doing better every year. ** go in good society, better than I ever did before. I may thank you for all that.

631 HISTORY OF POLK COUNTY

Often do I think of that. Think of me as often as you are thought of. Yours in love, " OSCEOLA, Iowa, Sept. 28, 1879. Mrs. Lewelling: " Dear Friend-I feel quite ashamed of myself for not writing to you sooner. My sister has been quite sick, is somewhat better now. I am trying to get a place to teach school, do not know how I shall succeed. If I do not, I shall come back there and go to school. I am doing a great deal of fancy work now, and am doing quite well. Am making a carriage robe for which I shall receive five dollars. " With love,- " KEOKUK, Iowa, Aug. 23, 1879. "Mrs. Lewelling: "Dear Friend-It has been some time since I have had a letter from you. I am trying to do right, and the folks are so good in every way to help me. I don't think that any of them look down on me, and I have many friends to help me to do right. I am living with the same family yet; have been here eleven months. I want to see you all so much. Remember me to all the folks. I hope to hear from you soon. " As ever, " KEARNEY, Neb., June 23, 1879. " Mrs. Lewelling "Dear Friend-I received your kind, welcome letter and hope to hear from you often. I am enjoying myself well, attend Sunday school every Sunday. Am going to help at a church festival next week. I do most of the work. I practice on the organ every spare moment. A friend brought me a nice piece of music to-day. Hoping to hear from you soon, I am your friend,-- '" The following letters are from other parties and explain themselves: " MT. PLEASANT, IOWA. "Mrs. Lewelling:

" Dear I friend-I just received a letter from my son. He says the girl seems to like her home, and they are well pleased with her. She is taken with the children and they like her so much. I am glad she is there for she will have a good home and I think she will always stay. " Your friend, LOUISA BERRYHILL. " DUBUQUE, Iowa, March 26, 1879. " Mr. L. D. Lewelling: " Dear Sir-I have made inquiry of several people of the neighborhood concerning Miss --,and all agree in saying that the girl has a good reputation, is moral in character, industrious in habit and deserves to be in a better situation. Her mother is intemperate, but works hard at times at washing, etc. I saw her a few days ago. She says the girl often speaks of you and Mrs. Lewelling, and esteems you as great friends, and would be glad to be with you again. Yours truly, " N. W. BOYES "(Mr. Boyes is the County Superintendent of the Schools of Dubuque county.)

632 HISTORY OF POLK COUNTY

Mr. Lewelling is the executive head of the establishment; while upon Mrs. L. devolves them domestic government of the household and care of the children. She is the central planet of a system governed by the law of attraction. There is no coercion, no jar, but all moves smoothly and in willing obedience to the governing law. No sign of the penal nature of the institution is anywhere visible. For the long winter evenings, select readings, literary exercises and dramatic entertainments pass the time and employ the minds of sixty-five girls who are the inmates. There are, in addition to the Superintendent and his amiable wife, three assistants; one of whom has charge of the school which is in session eight hours each day; one has charge of the laundry and the third superintends the sewing department.

CHURCHES

The M. E. Church of Mitchellville was organized in 1855. Elijah Canfield and wife, Lot Plummer and wife, A. J. Barton and wife, I. C. Barton and wife, Maria Burk, J. Ezra Plummer and wife, Jeremiah Canfield and wife, Homer Canfleld and Joshua Canfield were among the first members and those chiefly active in bringing about the organization, A frame church building was erected in 1876 at a cost of twenty-four thousand dollars. The present membership numbers sixty. The Universalist Church was organized in 1878. The original membership numbered thirty-five, of which the following were the officers: Moderator, Thomas Mitchell. Clerk, Barlard Slate. Treasurer, Tillie Mitchell. Deacons, W. S. Jones, A. Rothrock, Pauline Weeks. A frame church building was erected in 1870, at a cost of two thousand dollars. The following are the names of the pastors who have had charge of the church: W. W. King, T. C: Eaton, J. R. Sage, A. Vedder, F. W. Gillette. The present membership is 41. The Church of Christ was organized in April, 1870. Samuel Henderson and wife, W. H. Hall and wife, C. H. Jones and wife, James Rooker and wife and John E. Heduck and wife were among the persons who formed the first membership. In 1873 a frame church edifice was erected at a cost of two thousand, two hundred and fifty dollars. The present membership numbers seventy-six.

POPULATION

Like all other towns which in the western country are so ambitious to make a good showing in point of population, Mitchellville falls considerable short of the number of inhabitants which it has been claiming. According to the returns of the enumerator who has just completed his work, the population is about eight hundred.


City of Mitchellville

 

City Hall
204 Center Avenue N
Box 817
Mitchellville, IA 50169
Phone 1-515-967-2935
Fax- 1-515-967-2631
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