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The township is subdivided into eight independent school districts and seven road districts. Last year there was levied a tax of five mills on the dollar for school purposes, and the same amount for road purposes.
The township received its name from a high bluff of rocks of a peculiar red color, and the old Indian boundary line received its name from the same reason. In the Knoxville Voter of September 8, 1870, was the following in reference to these rocks:
"The remarkable ledge of red rock which gives the name to one of our townships has been an object of curiosity ever since the county was first settled. We had an opportunity of going to see it the other day for the first time. It is about a half mile up the river from the town of Red Rock and on the same side of the stream. The rock cannot be described as grand in any way for it is not high enough for that; but it certainly makes a pleasing bit of scenery. The Des Moines River has here in its ages of ceas. less flowing wasted away a portion of the bluff that at this point forins its bank, and thus exposed and cut away from the red sandstone of which the bluff is here composed. We should guess the height of the ledge at from sixty to eighty feet from the level of the river. The stone is very coarse friable, easily cut with the knife. The prevailing color is red of various shades, mingled with yellow in places. The entire bluff is covered with trees. Ir the good old days when boats used to run up the Des Moines, it must have been pleasant to view this point from the deck of one. The legend of the place is, that once upon a time, ages ago, when all the forest was in its primeval simplicity, when the birds sang ceaselessly in the tree tops and the river murmured in its rocky bed, etc., a man from Red Rock lit his pipe and went out there to dig some stone, and dug it. That's all." The township had an enviable notoriety for many years on account of the many disturbances which occurred within its borders, and the many crimes which were there committed. These things have been briefly narrated in our chapter on crime. The local press a few years since contained the fol lowing account, which we deem proper to insert at this place:
"In a Cave.--Several months ago we mentioned the fact that up in the west part of Red Rock township there was a man living, with his family, in an open rail pen, in the midst of the timber. We have now further word from him, from Capt. Blain of Union township, to whom, as a member of the county board of supervisors, the facts were stated last week. The man's name is Martin. He is now living in a cave or hole in the side of a hill, and is so ill, with typhoid pneumonia, that he cannot be moved at present. The neighbors have fitted up the cave as comfortable as possible. Martin's wife died some time ago. He has three children, from seven to thirteen years of age. The two younger ones live with him in the cave, and the other one lives with some family near. Martin is abjectly poor, and has been ill or ailing for some time. The county will extend relief we suppose. There's certainly something queer about this case, for there can be no necessity for any man's living in such a manner any length of time in this country."
The officers of the township are as follows:
Clerk-A. E. Stevens.
Assessor-J. F. Browning.
Trustees--Geo. Sellers, D. M. Barr, Harrison Carter.
THE TOWN OF RED ROCK.
This town was laid out by the firm of Bedell, Drouillard & Harp, in April, 1847. This was before the land in that congressional township was sectionized, and it was necessary to re-survey it afterward.
Robert D. Russell, who was the first justice in the township, lived a short distance above the town plat, both before and after it was surveyed. He was also postmaster for a short time previous to that event, after which James Harp was appointed, with Dr. Reuben Matthews and I. N. Crum as his bondsinen. Rev. M. J. Post, an early citizen of Pella, now deceased, carried the first mail to this office, from Fairfield, by way of Agency, Ottumwa, Eddyville, and from here to Fort Des Moines, making the trip once a week.
The first physician resident of Red Rock was Reuben Matthews, and C. M. Gilky and J. W. McCully were the next.
In 1847 and 1848 many additions were made to the population of the vil lage, and several frame and respectable log houses were built, giving it a thriving appearance. Indeed, the prospect seemed favorable for its ultimate expansion into the proportions of a city. Situated on a stream already navigable for steamboats during high water, with the promise of being rendered constantly so by addition of dains and locks, and surrounded by a rich farming country, rapidly increasing in population, the citizens of Red Rock could justly anticipate a prosperous future for their young city. In view of these natural advantages over any more inland locality, some effort was made to get the county seat there; but all hope of success vanished with the sweeping flood of 1851. This memorable event occurred in June, a season unusual for such freshets, and the people were not prepared for it. It had been raining for some time and the water was high, but few expected the overflow that occurred during the night, when the people were unconscions of it till the alarm was given. Finding the lower rooms of their houses deluged, and the water perceptibly growing deeper and deeper, the excitement grew almost to a panic.
There was a general moving up-stairs by all who had such departments to their houses, and the cry of help came from all parts of the town. All the canoes and boats which could be procured were pressed into the service of rescuing the unfortunate people.
The water had risen to such a depth in the lower story of a certain house as to float up the bedstead lately occupied by a dying child, which, being tossed up and down by the undulations of the swelling flood, struck against the upper floor with a heavy, thumping noise, peculiarly startling; and no one could restrain a fear that the flood might reach a depth sufficient to float the building, or throw it down. Of course a sleepless night was passed, and when the more than welcome day at last dawned help came, and they were all taken over the river. The sick one was taken to a house
near the sugar grove, northeast of town, where it died soon after. Next day the abandoned house fell.
During that night and the day following, most of the people got out of town, and prepared themselves for a temporary stay on the bluffs. With as much of their clothing as they could secure undamaged by muddy water, and as was indispensable to camp life, they spread their tents and proceeded to make themselves as comfortable as circumstances would permit, thinking that in a few days at most the water would abate enough to permit them to return to their houses. But a few days passed, and a few more, and yet the dry land did not appear.
In the meantime many persons suffered considerable loss in the destruction of property. Hogs and cattle were drowned, fences swept away, cornfields, lately planted, were ruined by the washing current, or covered by the debris of the flood. At length, at the end of about two weeks, the water went down, and there was apparent safety in returning to the town, and soon the camp was gladly deserted. But the deposit of mud in the houses rendered them unfit for occupation till they were cleaned out, which took considerable time and labor, and when this was done, and the citizens had fairly got settled in-doors again, the swelling flood made a second raid upon the town, forcing the people to take refuge on the bluffs, where they were compelled to stay a fortnight.
There was a damage wrought by this flood that was irreparable to the village of Red Rock; to-wit, its reputation as a safe and therefore suitable place of business. All hope of obtaining the seat of justice was swept away. And who cared to purchase property subject, even at remote periods, to such destructive inundations.
Yet for a time one hope sustained the place, which was the promised slack water navigation. But this soon vanished, and gave place to that of railroad connection, that was entertained for several years with some apparent certainty, and finally expired with the location of the Des Moines Valley Road up the prairie. This was the last hope.
The place also became the frequent rendezvous of the rougher portion of the settlers, and others whose character classed them with adventurers and desperadoes: and as a natural result of such a fusion of spirits, inspired more or less by the ardent, fights were of frequent occurrence. It is a fact worthy of note that Red Rock, though a comparative sinall place, has been the scene of several assassinations, shooting and stabbing affrays, and lawless carousals, the details of which are not pertinent to this history. But for the sake of more fully illustrating the moral status of her society at an early date, we may relate a few anecdotes.
It is not to be supposed that the place was wholly destitute of moral influences. A few professors of religion lived there and in the neighbor hood, but their examples in righteous living were either in a measure wanting on their part or wholly disregarded by others.
On the occasion of religious services held in the village, by an itinerant Methodist preacher, on his first round, it was a question among the few brethren of the place who of them he would be likely to call upon to pray in closing the meeting. As the preacher was not personally acquainted with any of them, there was no certainty to whom the request might be directed; and, as praying was an exercise so little practiced by them, no one really desired a call to such a performance publicly. Here, then, was a hazard-something to bet on. So, just before meeting, some of the
brethren and others took counsel together, and agreed that whoever should be called upon to pray, in case of failure to do so, should pay a gallon of whisky. But fortunately for all, the preacher did his own praying, thereby relieving some trembling brother froin the conflicting emotions resulting from the danger of being compelled to make an awkward, spiritless prayer, or pay for the liquor.
Among the more important enterprises established in Red Rock village and in the neighborhood, were four saw-mills and one flouring-mill. The first was a saw-mill, built by Osee Mathews, junior, in 1846, on Mikesell's Creek, about three-fourths of a mile northeast of town. The next was by Daniel Hiskey, in 1848-9, on the same stream, about two miles north of town. In 1854 two more were erected near town, to run by steam. The one on the east side of town was built and owned by Wilson Stanley; that on the west side by J. D. Bedell.
Only one of these mills-that of Mr. Bedell-is still standing. A few remains of those on Mikesell's Creek are still visible; but of the Stanley mill, which was of a rather temporary construction, nothing remains.
The flouring mill, built by S. B. Mathews, in 1854. stood in the northwest quarter of town. It was owned and run by Mr. M. till it was bought by Talbott & Setzer, who moved it to Otley, Summit township, in the fall of 1869.
An anecdote is related in connection with the erection of the mill at Red Rock. It was at about the time it was finished, and preparations were being made to start it. The morning was calm, clear and frosty, and all sounds were conveyed through the air with comparative distinctness; when the settlers for miles around were suddenly startled by a terrific and prolonged scream that seemed to fill all space, and reverberated far away. Then it would cease in a sort of die-away wail, till it would seem to recover breath, then peal forth in another unearthly scream, or succession of short, violent yells, totally unlike anything that had ever been heard in that region.
A young man, an odd genius, named Joe Copher, who happened to be in the timber, some distance from home, hunting horses, when he heard the frightful voice ran home with all his speed and reported a panther or some other wild beast in the forest. The panther proved to be the new steam whistle.
The first regular school-house in Red Rock was built in 1854, but soon after burned down. Some time after a commodious two-story school-house was erected. The school is divided into two departments, which are prosided over by A. F. Conrey and Miss Hattie Starr respectively. There are eighty pupils enrolled in the schools.
The town has a population of about 125.
There is one hotel, one general merchandise store, one drug and book store and one church, which is a
Methodist Episcopal Church--The building was erected in 1855. It is of brick and cost 31,000. The church has a membership of thirty, and a Sunday-school with an attendance of sixty. E. R. Wright is superintendent of the Sunday-school and E. E. Brown secretary.
A post-office was established at Red Rock in 1847. The following have been the postmasters: J. W. Harp, S. G. Compton, Nathan Shannon, J. H. Johnson, Martin Hollingsworth, Isaac Shannon, Reuben Core, Jasper Nye, J. F. Browning, who was commissioned in August, 1879.
EDELL, J. D.-Farmer, Sec. 35, P. O. Red Rock. One of the first, if not the very first, white person to settle in Marion county was the subject of this sketch. He was born in Bath county, Kentucky, on the 25th of September, 1817, and lived there until thirteen years of age, and was then taken by his parents to Montgomery county, Missouri, and after a residence of two years in the State, emigrated with his parents to Clark county, Missouri, settling on the Des Moines River. He first set his feet on Iowa soil on the 19th of September, 1830, having crossed the river where Croton is now situated, in order to cut a bee tree. In 1830 he erected a log cabin in Lee county, which was the second dwelling in this part of the county. The next fall he sold his house and returned to Missouri, and on the 20th of March, 1843, came to this county and settled at Red Rock, and was the founder of the town, and had it platted in 1845, and for some years was engaged in the grocery business. This business he disposed of and bought a steam saw-mill in 1855, and continued this business for a long time. He then engaged in general merchandise, and continued this business, with satisfactory results, until 1876, and then removed to his present farm, which contains 300 acres, well improved, and his land in a good state of cultivation. When Mr. Bedell came to this county he had an Indian pilot him to the place where Red Rock is located, and there staked out his claim. The whites were not allowed to come in until the 1st of May, 1843. Mr. B., however, remained until that time to establish his claim. No man has experienced more of the hardships of pioneer life, and his early reminiscences would fill a volume, but many of them will be found in other parts of this work, for which due credit is given. He has been permanently identified with the growth of the county, and is known by reputation to almost every man in it. He is a man of strict integrity, his word being as good as a bond. In his social relations he is kind and warm-hearted as a friend and an outspoken opponent, and his character as a business nan may be inferred from the success which has attended his carcer. He married Miss Rachel Collins, December 28, 1848. She was a daughter of Eli Collins, Esq., and was born in Warren county, Ohio, September 28, 1826. They have five children living: John W., Marietta, Delila A., Amy H., Celestic P., Ina B. Lost one.
LARK, W. P.-Merchant, Red Rock. Was born in Knox county, Ohio, August 1st, 1829. In 1836 he moved with his parents to Missouri, where he was raised on a farm. From there moved to Warren county, Iowa, and continued farming until 1850. Then went to California, remaining for a period of four years. Returned to Red Rock, and in 1858 again went to California, returning in a short time to Red Rock and embarked in the grocery business. He has built up for himself an enviable reputation for honesty and fair dealing, and justly merits the confidence and esteem in which he is held by his patrons. He married Miss N. E. Williams, January 13, 1868. She is a native of Indiana, born in Morgan county. By this union they have two daughters: Mintie D. and Mary W. CORE, I. N.-Farmer and stock-raiser, Sec. 36, P. O. Red Rock. Was born in Ross county, Ohio, August 24, 1832, and was raised on a farın and educated in the common schools. He emigrated to Iowa in the fall of 1854, and lived for some time with his father on the farm. He owns 160 acres of land upon which is one of the finest sugar orchards in the State. It