Garner Township

From the 1882 and 1907 Pottawattamie County Histories

Garner township was settled mainly by the Mormons in 1846, long before township lines began to form. The early inhabitants chose the site because of the mill which had been built in 1836 along the banks of the Mosquito Creek by the Government for the benefit of the Pottawattamie Indians. Stutely E. Wicks was the last government agent who ran the mill, and when the Indians were removed to the reservation granted them in Kansas, the old mill was unneeded as government property, and Mr. Wicks remained in undisputed possession.

The mill, located on the bank of the stream, promised the best facilities for getting what the settlers needed to survive — a little corn meal. Wicks Mills as it was commonly known, was but a poor affair at best and the settlers were unable to get any grinding done save at such times as the Indians were not needing the mill. Little else was ground except corn as grain of all other kinds was very scarce. There was also a sawmill attached to the Indian Mill, which was rigged with an old-fashioned up-and-down saw, or what was usually called a sash saw. The sawing and grinding were both done by the same water wheel.

The old Indian mill was run until 1849, when Mr. Wicks built a new mill beside it and used the old machinery. In 1851, this mill was damaged by high water, but was repaired and kept running until 1863, when it tumbled down because of the water having washed away the foundation.

Long before the old Indian mill had been rebuilt, Mr. J. D. Heywood and another party put up a mill on Little Mosquito Creek about a half a mile above the point where the old Council Bluffs and Lewis stage road crossed that stream. This mill was first run by hand, then they constructed a shaft to reach the whole width of the mill, built a dam and removed the mill to it. Paddles were put into the shaft, which were arranged so the water would pour through a series of troughs upon them. By the power thus generated, they were enabled to grind as much as forty bushels of corn per day.

Mr. Heywood and two other gentlemen built a sawmill on Honey Creek, which was fitted up with a circular saw. This was the first saw of its kind brought into the county. This was short-lived because of lack of money to support it. About this time a gentleman named Hamilton built a small mill on Indian Creek, but it lasted only a few years as larger and better mills left it unpatronized.

The second mill built in the township of any importance was located about three miles above the old Indian mill, on Mosquito Creek. It was erected by William Garner in 1858, the machinery being purchased by Mr. J. J. Johnson at Rock Island, Ill., while on his way to Ohio. This mill was run successfully for a few years, but eventually became an unprofitable piece of property, and was let go to ruin.

The vicinity of the old Wicks mill for more than half a century played a conspicuous part in the early history of Pottawattamie County. It was here where the immigrants obtained their first flour and corn meal, and later, for many years, it was the place where the Latter-Day Saints held their yearly meetings, some coming for nearly one hundred miles. A beautiful grove furnished an ideal camping ground, and the Mosquito creek, like the Jordan, became famous for the number baptized in its waters. Alongside the road coming from under a bluff was an excellent spring capable of supplying any number of worshippers, and nearby was a little schoolhouse where young Kinsman taught and from where he used to write interesting letters to the Nonpareil. Little did anyone think at that time of the noble part he was soon to play and the fame he would soon achieve by his heroic death near Vicksburg.

Just below the point where Little Mosquito Creek empties into the larger stream by the same name, a village of huts known as Carterville grew and flourished. It was named such in honor of one of the first settlers, and before it was deserted had grown to about eighty huts. The residents of Carterville were all Mormons and moved on towards Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1852, literally abandoning the settlement.

The first term of school ever taught in Pottawattamie County is claimed to have been held in the little Mormon village of Carterville in 1847. A Mr. Curtis was the teacher. Not long after this, a young man named Joshua Grant taught a school in Section 16, and shortly thereafter, James Gettis held educational instructions in a little cabin near the residence of Mr. Scofield.

Among the first settlers of Garner township in 1846 were: William Garner, Adam Ritter, J. D. Heywood, M. B. Follet, J. B. Dingman, George and Simeon Graybill, J. J. Johnson, Thomas Williams, William F. Childs, George Scofield, John Child, and Mrs. Margaret Stoker.

William Garner was seventeen years old when his people moved from North Carolina to Quincy, Ill. He remained there about eleven years, and during this time was married to Miss Sarah Workman. In 1846, they joined the Mormons at Nauvoo, Ill., and were among the first to arrive in what afterward became Garner Township. He did not remain long to investigate the advantages or disadvantages of the location on which he had settled but entered the army and engaged in the war with Mexico. When he returned, he found his wife at Winter Quarters, on the Nebraska side of the Missouri. They located near their first stopping place in Garner, and when the survey was made by the Government in 1853, the claims of William Garner, Alex Marshall, George Scofield and Joseph Love were found to be in Section 16, which according to the state laws, belonged to the public schools. The above-named gentlemen purchased the section from the School Commissioners before there was a land office established in Council Bluffs. They then deeded the land to the owners of claims, each one paying his proportion of the purchase money. This was the first purchase or sale of land in Pottawattamie County.

February 12, 1853, Pottawattamie County was divided into three townships — Rocky Ford, Kane and Macedonia, Garner Township then formed a portion of Kane, and remained as such until June 10, 1876, when the township of Lewis was organized, and it became a part of the newly made township. Approximately ten months after it became a part of Lewis, a petition was presented to the Board of Supervisors of Pottawattamie County, signed by J. J. Johnson, W. F. Childs, John White and sixty-eight other citizens of Lewis Township, asking the Board to divide the township of Lewis into two townships. This petition was presented on 2 April 1877.

The territory comprised in Township 74, Range 43, and Township 74, Range 44, outside the limits of the city of Council Bluffs, shall constitute one civil township to be known as Lewis, and all the territory comprised in Township 75, Range 43, and Township 75, Range 44, outside the limits of the city of Council Bluffs, shall be known as Garner Township. This division created the following boundaries, which still exist: Crescent and Hazel Dell Townships on the north, Kane Township and the Missouri River on the west, Lewis and Kane Townships on the south, Harlan Township on the east. Its greatest length along the northern tier of sections is eleven miles, and the area contains about forty and one-half square miles. The township was named in honor of William Garner.

The first main road through Garner Township was the old Council Bluffs & Lewis stage road, which passed through the southern part of the township. Next, a road was opened between Mosquito and Pigeon Creeks, and this was followed by a road down the valley of the former. The first bridges built across Indian and Mosquito Creeks were crude log affairs which were generally carried away with the spring flows and reconstructed.

In 1867, the Chicago and North-Western Railroad was completed through Garner Township. This was the first to be finished of the three railroads which soon crossed the township. In May, of 1869, the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad was finished, and in July of 1882, The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad joined the ranks. Three railroads crossed the township and yet no station was ever erected. At one time, a small post office on the old stage road, by the name of “Scottswood,” with a Mr. McNair listed as postmaster, was operating and within the boundaries of the township, Grange Hall boasted its heritage, along with four saloons, one grocery store, and one water mill.

Among the early township officers were the following individuals: trustees, F. S. Childs, Fred Janson and G. W. Shipley; clerk, H. E. Tiarks; and justices of the peace, Ed Rozenberg and J. C. Begley.

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