City of Walnut

Excerpts from the 1907 History of Pottawattamie County and the Walnut Creek Historical Musem pamphlet

 In 1848 when Pottawattamie County was organized, the area was thinly settled, therre was no railroad and the Indians made the city of Council Bluffs their home.

Layton township, site of the town of Walnut, was the last portion of the county to attract the land agent and settler, possibly because of the distance to markets.  It was nearly all gently rolling prairies, which sold for $5 – $10 per acre in 1873.

The original plat of the city of Walnut was surveyed and platted by what was known as the Allen company. The first settlers in the town were Dr. Plinny, D. Holcomb, D. Hison and E. R. Hinckley.

The Rock Island Railroad came in 1868 and built a station called Walnut Creek Station.  The town grew up around the railroad and the name was shortened to “Walnut.”  Within ten years, the population had grown to 1,000.   Settlers were drawn by the rich, fertile farm land and with the rapid settlement of Walnut Creek Station, came merchants and land agents of all kinds.

The Walnut Creek area in 1871 is described by an early pioneer settler in Walnut Memories by Roma Arndt:  “The depot was the only building, outside of a few shanties.  The wild flowers grew in profusion and were very beautiful.  Wild strawberries were picked by the tubsful…”

The first store was opened by Leander Lodge, and the first postmaster was E. R. Hinckley.

In 1877 Walnut received her charter as a city, and the first election resulted in placing the city government in the hands of the following officers: Mayor, W. H. Linfor; recorder, J. B. Johnson; marshal, Robert Gilbreath; city council: J. H. Henry, O. M. Bruce, Charles Lebeck, I. T. Spangler, Wm. Hill and J. B. Johnson.

By 1880 there were four dry goods stores, five groceries, seven saloons, three drug stores, one jewelry store, one furniture store, two millinery stores, one bank, three elevators, three agricultural implement stores, two blacksmith shops, one harness shop, two carriage shops, two hotels, one barber shop, three lumber yards, two shoe shops, two lawyers, three doctors, and one flouring mill. The mill was built by Moses Thuns and Co.

The Walnut News was established in 1878 by A. O. Cramer, and edited by (his brother) Dan Cramer. In 1880 there were two churches, one Presbyterian and one Catholic. The first Sabbath school was in the depot building of the railroad in 1873 under the auspices of the Campellites.

In 1875 a two-story school building was erected and at the opening there were 25 pupils under the charge of Miss Kate Williams. In 1881 there were 230 pupils. The superintendent was Professor William Hubbard.

There were three secret societies: Walnut Lodge No. 122, Legion of Honor was the first. The officers were: W. H. Linfor, president; W. H. Bowman, vice-president; J. C. Spangler, recording secretary; J. H. Henry, foreman; W. F. Moreshell, financier; J. B. Case, chaplain; and W. Gardiner, doorkeeper.

The second society organized on September 25, 1875 was Moriah Lodge No. 327, I.O.O.F. The charter members were: J. W. Snyder, C. W. Merrill, G. C. Hunt, O. M. Bruce, W. H. Brundridge, J. M. Turner, and G. T. Mix. The first officers were: Noble Grand, J. W. Snyder; vice grand, G. T. Mix; recording secretary, W. E. Turner; permanent secretary, James Ledwick; and treasurer, F. H. Green.

The third society to organize was the A.O.U.W. Walnut Lodge No. 194. It was organized by charter granted June 25, 1879. This lodge in 1882 had a membership of 42 and the officers were: W. L. Williams, master workman; Wm. Woodring, foreman; A. S. Amey, receiver; Wm. Gardiner, financier; Henry Ott, overseer; W. O. Hubbard, past master workman; Robert Boat, guide; W. R. Spencer, inside watchman; J. C. Spangler, outside watchman; and H. A. Cummings, secretary.

According to the authors, in 1907 the city government was constituted as follows: Mayor, E. C. Thompson; clerk, C. S. Spangler; city council: J. B. Johannasen, Dr. Morris Moore, Orris Mosher, Jr.; J. C. Vollsted, W. S. Sankey, and N. H. Lewis. According to the 1905 state census there were 304 persons in Walnut, of which 154 were male and 150 were female.

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