History of Dallas Township, Iowa
Marion County, IA Biographies


Dallas occupies the southwest corner of the county and is coextensive with congressional township 74, range 21, being six miles square. It was organized by the board of county commissioners on October 3, 1848, and as at first erected it included the present Township of Franklin. When Franklin was attached to Pleasant Grove Township in 1852, Dallas was reduced to its present dimensions of thirty-six square miles. It is bounded on the north by Franklin Township; on the east by Washington; on the south by Lucas County, and on the west by the County of Warren. The White Breast Creek flows in a northeasterly direction across the northwest corner, and Long Branch, a confluent of the English Creek, crosses the southeastern portion. These streams, with their minor tributaries, afford ample drainage and water for stock to the greater part of the township.

As this township lies west of the Red Rock line, where the Sac and Fox Indians remained in possession of the land until October, 1845, it was one of the last in the county to be settled. William Willis, Leander Bennett and Nicholas Helms and his four sons settled in this part of the county in 1846. Bennett remained but a short time, when he sold his claim to Alloys Bauer. Settlement was slow at first, but in 1848 the population was increased by the arrival of Thomas Kirton, Hiram Teakel, Henry Wagoner, Joseph and Alloys Bauer and Peter Yrentz. Other pioneers were Henry Horsman, Jacob Feight and Jacob Smith.

The western part of the township was settled largely by Germans, part of whom were Lutherans and part were Catholics. Churches of both these denominations were organized in 1854. An account of these early religious organizations will be found in the chapter on Church History.

Probably in no part of Marion County were the hardships of frontier life better exemplified than in Dallas Township. Nicholas Helms and his sons settled in the southwestern part and soon afterward the elder Helms put up a small hand mill, turned by a crank, which was the only mill of any character within reach of the settlers during the severe winter of 1848-49. The snow was so deep that it was impossible to get to the larger mills, several miles away, and the little hand mill was kept going almost day and night grinding small quantities of corn, each customer taking his turn at the crank. Just before the severe weather set in, Joseph Bauer took four bushels of corn to Burch's mill on the White Breast Creek and had it converted into meal. This, with what little grinding he could get done on Helms' hand mill and an occasional mess of pounded hominy, was the only breadstuff of the family until the snow melted off so that another trip could be made to the mill. Some of the settlers were without earthen vessels, barrels, or even boxes in which to store their supplies of provisions, so they dug out troughs from short sections of trees and used them as receptacles for their meal, hominy, etc.

Jacob Smith planted the first orchard in the township, but failed to give it proper attention and most of the trees perished from neglect. The first marriage was that of Jesse Helms and Miss Sarena Wind, whose parents lived in Lucas County. This wedding was solemnized on Christmas day in 1847, and their son Henry, born the following year, was the first white child born in the township. The first election was held in November, 1848, at which nine votes were cast, but the record of that election has not been preserved. At an election on April 5, 1852, Joseph Bauer and William J. McClain were elected justices of the peace; Peter Yrentz, Alloys Bauer and Thomas Kirton, trustees; Hiram Teakel and John Clark, constables. The voting place was at the house of Thomas Kirton, in the northern part of the township.

The first school was taught by Asa Davis in 1852, in a round log cabin erected for a schoolhouse, but the exact location of this first temple of learning in Dallas is not obtainable at this late day. Henry R. Klingman was the second teacher. In the school year of 1913-14 there were eight teachers employed in the district schools, exclusive of those in the incorporated Town of Dallas, and the eight school buildings were valued at $6,600.

For many years Dallas was without a railroad, but recently the Minneapolis, Des Moines & Kansas City division of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific system was completed through the township, giving the farmers in that part of the county an opportunity of marketing their products without the long haul they formerly had to make. Melcher and Dallas, on this line of railway, and Newbern, in the southwest corner, are the principal towns.

Dallas Township was named in honor of George M. Dallas, who was vice president of the United States at the time the township was organized. In 1910 the population, according to the United States census, was 980, and in 1913 the taxable property was valued at $1,247,656, exclusive of the property in the incorporated towns of Dallas and Melcher.

History of Marion County, Iowa
And its People
John W. Wright, Supervising Editor
W. A. Young, Associate
Vol II
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1915

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