City of Oakland

Excerpts from the 1907 History of Pottawattamie County

The first house in Big Grove, now Oakland, was built in 1856 by Mr. Slocum for a storeroom where he had a stock of groceries. When Jacob Cohn came from Council Bluffs to start a general store at Big Grove, the groceries were transferred from Slocum to Cohn. W. H. Freeman put up a new building in the Grove and Cohn moved into that. He soon became bankrupt. W. B. Freeman took charge of the assets and he and W. H. Freeman opened up in the same place on their own account.

The building of a branch railroad of the Rock Island Railroad down the Botna Valley from Avoca changed the character of the hamlet of Big Grove, standing in the primeval forest to an important town. The town of Oakland was laid out by Thomas Tostevin and Samuel Denton, surveyors. The first residence on the new site was erected by Dr. S. Stewart and the first store building by J. C. Norton, J. M. Estes and E. H. Wineland in the upper part of town.

The plat of the lower part of the town was made September 13, 1880, on the lands of W. H. Freeman, John Bates, Ambrose Bates and Thomas Tostevin. The next spring, 1881, Thomas Tostevin platted a portion of the town in the upper part on the lands of John T. Baldwin.

The town was incorporated under the laws of Iowa by the circuit court of Pottawattamie County on May 1, 1882. An election having been held on the 26th of April at which W. H. Freeman was chosen mayor; S. S. Rust, J. L. Caldwell, John McDonald, Austin Goff, L. F. Potter and Charles Bryant, councilmen; E. G. Barley, recorder; B. F. Freeman, treasurer; D. H. Morrison, marshal, and W. W. Begler, city attorney.

A newspaper the Acorn, was started by John C. McMannima and John G. Julian on May 1, 1881. The first issue was dated May 5, the same year. (The following) August, A. M. Lewis became editor and proprietor, and on March 1, 1882, Lewis sold to A. T. Cox.

Oakland Lodge No. 442 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was established at Oakland on January 13, 1882, with the following officers: T. C. Alexander, N.G.; N. Young, V.G.; A. M. Lewis, secretary; W. D. Johnson, treasurer.

The Big Grove Grange of Patrons of Husbandry was instituted by Gen. Williams Duane Wilson, editor of the Iowa Homestead, in the spring of 1871. The charter membership was twenty, and increased to sixty, while the grange continued to act as such.

For the establishment of a Masonic lodge the first meeting for organization was held at Big Grove in March, 1874, and the lodge instituted as Ark Lodge No. 335, under dispensation from the grand lodge, upon the recommendation of Mt. Nebo Lodge of Avoca. J. C. Chapman was grand master at that date.

The Big Grove Missionary Baptist Church of Jesus Christ was organized on August 11, 1861.

According to the authors of this 1907 history, that year (1907)

  • The mayor was L. S. White.
  • The population was 1,200
  • Persons of school age in the city (according to the state census of 1905), 306;
  • In the township (Belknap) outside the city, 192;
  • Total, 498 of which 239 were males and 264 females.
  • Directors: Frank Zentmire, president; W. R. Frantz, secretary; E. P. Denton, treasurer.
  • Township trustees: R. H. Carse, Clark Fickel and E. P. Denton.
  • Township clerk: F. A. Nash
  • Justices of the peace: W. C. Davis and W. B. Butler.
  • Constables: J. E. Forsythe and W. D. Ball
  • Assessor: M. H. Parks
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