City of Avoca

Excerpts from the 1907 History of Pottawattamie County

The original town plat of Avoca was made in 1869 when the railroad reached that point. It was laid off by a town company consisting of John P. Cook, his brother Ebenezer Cook, John F. Tracy of the Rock Island Railroad Company and B. F. Allen, banker of Des Moines.

The first building was erected by Julius Priester in the winter of 1868-69. The old settlers called the town Pacific. In April 1869 it was changed to Botna. But an excursion party was viewing the site from a hill overlooking the valley, when the name immortalized by Tom Moore was suggested, and it seemed so poetical and appropriate that it was adopted.

The first general store opened in the place was by Norton and Jones in July, 1869, and after a while located on the northwest corner of Elm and High streets. A man by the name of Beedle started a meat market, but was bought out by Abram Harris, who kept the first regular meat market in the place. He was from Ottawa, Illinois.

John Acker, the oldest settler, came in March ’69 before the track was finished to Council Bluffs. He had lumber shipped from Atlantic and as soon as his building was completed he went into the general hardware trade, being the first business house on Elm street.

The first mayor after the town was incorporated was Milo H. Adams. Capt. C. V. Gardner and Thomas Ledwick opened the first lumber yard. Gardner also commenced the publication of the Avoca Delta in 1870.

The first meeting of the city council was held on March 15, 1875. Milo Adams was mayor; G. Diedrich, recorder and H. O. Lieffert, J. M. Jones, C. H. Norton, W. T. Mead and Stephen Jackson, trustees; Orin E. Beswick, marshal; E. W. Davis, treasurer, and John Cool, street commissioner.

In 1870 a schoolhouse was built by Byron Bunnell, in which he taught school until the new brick was completed. All religious services including Sunday School were held there until churches were built for that purpose.

Mount Nebo Masonic Lodge was organized June 7, 1871, with P. B. Hunt as master; Josiah True, senior warden; John Cool, junior warden; Daniel Hunt, secretary and R. G. Barlow, treasurer.

There was also a Royal Arch chapter and an Eastern Star. The latter was organized January 29, 1879 under the title of Queen Esther chapter No. 50, with F. Waterman, W. P.; Mrs. D. Hunt, W. M., and Mrs. A. M. Gardner, A.

Delta Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized March 8, 1878. J. M. Jones was the first N.G.; J. C. Hetzel, V.G.; M. B. Nelson, P.S.; F. M. Hope, R.S., and H. O. Seiffert, treasurer.

Avoca Lodge of the same order was instituted April 19, 1871, where the work was conducted in English. Its place of meeting was the same as that of the Delta Lodge. A. W. Coffman was the first N.G.; Steven Jackson, the first V.G.; Dr. O. H. P. Shoemaker, the first secretary, and J. H. Arnold, the first treasurer.

The Avoca Delta
The Avoca Delta, a republican weekly, was established by Thomas Ledwick and C. V. Gardner, the first number appearing January 1, 1870. One side was printed in Chicago and the other at the office of the Harlan Herald at Harlan, Iowa. (On) August 1, 1870, it changed hands, becoming the property of J. C. Adams, who fitted the office with new material and press. In 1873 the office was destroyed by fire, but the citizens at once raised $550 and donated it to Mr. Adams to enable him to resume publication of his paper. The paper also was enlarged from a six to a seven column folio, and in fourteen days from the day of the fire it reappeared. In January 1882 it was again enlarged to a seven column quarto. It continued republican in political matters, but made the interest and welfare of the town its principal mission.

The Avoca Herald
The Avoca Herald, a democratic weekly, nine column, neatly printed journal, was established by A. P. Cramer in August 1880, and like the (Avoca) Delta devoted itself to the interests of Avoca.

In November, 1880, a German musical society was formed with a membership of twenty persons and called the Avoca Mannerchor. Mayor Deidrich was president, Charles Uhden, secretary, and H. Hebbelm, treasurer.

The Avoca brewery was established by Jacob Kampf in 1874, with a capacity of 800 barrels per year. The leading merchants up to 1882 carrying general stocks were: B. Deidrich, O. B. Nelson, Charles Uhden and H. Stevens. Drugs: P. Weis and Maxwell and True; agricultral implement dealers: Hart and Co., T. O. Meredith and W. H. Van Brunt; lumber: Ainsworth & Waterman and Seliffert & Weis; hardware: H. C. Norton and harness: Wilson.

In 1870 the Rock Island Railroad Company built a large hotel and dining hall at their station, which was managed by John Jones, formerly of the Pacific House in Council Bluffs, until the company adopted the dining car system.

According to the authors, in 1907 Avoca was a city of 2,000 inhabitants as follows: Mayor, John Fletcher; city attorney, A. L. Preston; clerk, Nels C. Nelson; aldermen, Charles D. Schmidt, Albert Meitzen, Charles Eckhart, Wm. Neumann, John H. Jenks, and John Marxen.

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