History of Indiana Township, Iowa
Marion County, IA Biographies

Indiana Township is one of the original ten organized by the board of county commissioners on January 6, 1847, and the boundaries at that time established remain unchanged. It includes congressional township 74, range 19, and therefore has an area of thirty six square miles. Many of the early settlers were from the State of Indiana and for this reason the township was named in honor of the state from which they had come. It is bounded on the north by Knoxville Township; on the east by Liberty; on the south by Monroe County, and on the west by the Township of Washington.

Prior to its organization, Indiana was a part of Round Grove precinct. At an election held in that precinct on April 8, 1846, the following persons voted: James Cade, John Campton, Nathaniel Day, David I. Deem, John Greenman, William D. Greenman, Jeremiah Gullion, Sr., Jeremiah Gullion, Jr., Nelson Hill, Allen Lowe, Alexander May, Martin Neel, John T. Pearce, James I. Pennell John Riddle, Benjamin Sherwood, W. T. Smith, Benjamin Spillman, Solomon Z. Tumbleson, James M. Walters, John Whitlatch, Noah Whitlatch, Isaac Wilsey.

This election was held for the purpose of selecting a delegate to the constitutional convention. James L. Warren received eleven votes and John Conrey twelve votes. Mr. Conrey was elected from the district, which was composed of Marion, Iowa, Polk and Jasper counties.

One of the first settlers in the township was Alexander May, a native of Kentucky, where he was born on January 5, 1801. In 1816 he went to Indiana and lived in Orange, Fountain and Montgomery counties of that state until 1843, when he located in Indiana Township. Some years later, while in a reminiscent mood, he gave the following account of his first year's experience in Marion County:

"In the fall, having to lay in our provisions for the winter, John Riddle and I took my ox wagon and four yoke of oxen and drove to the old purchase. Having to work for our grain, we put in three weeks of steady labor, by which we paid for forty five bushels of fall wheat and thirty bushels of old corn, one barrel of salt, one side of sole leather and one of upper. We got our grinding done at Meek's mill, Bonaparte. No roads from Agency till we got home, only as the immigrant had made them. We were thirty five days from home.

"The first grain we raised was threshed in the old fashioned way with horses and fanned with a sheet. As soon as it was ready we took it to Farmington to mill, the trip occupying fifteen days. The first wheat we got ground at Haymaker's we bolted through book muslin stretched over a hoop."

Other settlers who came in 1843 were Noah Whitlatch, William Carlisle, George Henry, John Riddle, Samuel Nicholson, Allen Lowe, William Shanks and Samuel M. Coolly. The next year came James Cade, Jeremiah Gullion, Benjamin Sherwood and David Sweem. Isaac Kelsey and Lewis Pierce joined the colony in 1845, and John Bonebrake came in 1846.

In a previous chapter mention has been made of the claim associations. An instance of what these organizations could accomplish is seen in the early history of Indiana Township. A man named Jacobs had been employed as a surveyor in that part of Marion County and afterward took up his residence in Fairfield. From that point he wrote to Lewis Pierce, the builder of the first courthouse, for several numbers of unclaimed lands. Pierce forwarded several numbers and either intentionally or by mistake included tracts claimed by some of the settlers, among them the claims of Alexander May, Benjamin Sherwood and Isaac Kelsey. Jacobs entered the land in accordance with the law and when the fact became known in Indiana Township there was great excitement among the members of the claim association. This was in 1847, soon after the township was organized. A meeting was called and a committee of three was appointed to arrest Pierce and bring him before the club for trial. The committee had no trouble in finding Pierce, but he flatly refused to appear before the club, and backed his refusal by presenting a revolver. The committee returned, made a report and received reinforcements. Pierce then yielded to the demand and explained that he was not guilty of any intentional wrong. He was released upon promising to rectify his mistake, and no doubt made an honest effort to keep his promise. Not long after this Jacobs was apprised of the state of affairs and warned that the association might visit him at Fairfield to demand reparation. He therefore wrote to the claimants that he would deed them the land on receipt of the entrance money with interest at six per cent per annum. The claimants agreed to this proposal, which was sanctioned by the association, and the war was over. Just what would have happened to Mr. Pierce had he been convicted of willfully violating the rules of the association and refused to make reparation can only be conjectured.

The first election of which any authentic record has been preserved was held at the house of Benjamin F. Williams, in Attica, April 5, 1852. Fifty three votes were cast and the following officers were elected: Nathaniel Cockelreas, Jacob Bonebrake and Samuel M. Coolly, trustees; W. T. Smith and Harvey Manners, justices of the peace; Noah Boneblack, clerk; Allen Lowe and John Campton, constables.

The first marriage in the township was that of Samuel Nicholson and Miss Eleanor, daughter of Alexander May, which occurred on June 1, 1844. The first religious services were held by Dr. James L. Warren at the house of Noah Whitlatch in the summer of 1843. The first postoffice was established at an early date at the house of Alexander May and Benjamin Sherwood was appointed postmaster. Mails were received weekly from Knoxville.

The first school was taught by Fletcher Cain in 1845. His school house was a little cabin near the present Village of Attica and he had sixteen pupils enrolled. Two years later Harvey Manners taught a term in the same place and John B. Hays taught about two miles south of Attica. Miss Hessev May was also one of the early teachers. In 1914 there were ten school districts in the township, in which fourteen teachers were employed, and 234 pupils were enrolled.

Indiana has no railroad. Away from the streams the prairie is nearly level and easily cultivated, hence agriculture is the principal occupation. Along the streams there are rich deposits of coal. Mines were formerly worked in the southern part, near the north branch of Cedar Creek, and a short distance south of Attica, but for lack of transportation facilities they have been abandoned. The population of the township in 1910 was 775, and the assessed valuation of the property in 1913 was $1,079,324.

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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