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A few Marshall County firsts

August 5, 2013 - Mike Donahey

I came across several interesting historical tidbits about Marshall County while researching Benjamin and Joseph Brittain, who established Marshalltown’s first meatpacking plant in the northeast section of town in 1882.

One can learn more about the county by reading the “History of Marshall County, Iowa.” by Gerard Schultz. It was published in 1955 and is available at the Marshalltown Public Library and the Historical Society of Marshall County.

Marshall County was created by an act of the legislature of the Territory of Iowa approved on Jan. 13, 1846. This act did not organize the county, but merely established, named and bounded the county. In naming the county, the General Assembly honored the memory of John Marshal, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835.

The first permanent county settler was Joseph Davidson, who resided near the Marshall-Tama County line in 1847. He was soon followed by his brother, William Davidson. The first mill was build in 1847, by William Asher on Linn Creek. It was washed away by a flood the same year. The mill “barely cracked two bushels of corn in a day’s time,” according to Nettie Sanford, early historian for the county. The next mill was erected in 1849 by Asher, John Campbell and Carpenter Gear.

The first school was taught by William C. Smith in the first log house erected on Timber Creek by Joseph Cooper. The first term was during the winter of 1849-50 and there were 12 or 15 students. The first marriage license was issued to Al Marion Gear and Nancy Ballard on Nov. 15, 1849. They were married the following day by Andrew J. Smith, justice of the peace. The first store in Marshall County was opened at LeGrand, by James Allman in 1850. The second store opened in Marietta and was owned by William Dishon. The first village, LeGrand, was was not recorded as a surveyed plat until July 5, 1854, but probably was first designated in 1850, for the pioneer store was opened there that year.

The first newspaper was the Iowa Central Journal, published at Albion in November 1855, by Thomas J. Wilson, J.W. Tripp, H.C. Knapp and Orson Hobart. Amos Fox of Livermore was the first Civil War veteran admitted to the then Iowa Soldier’s Home on Dec. 1, 1887. The first woman to enter the home was Mary Warrington on March 5, 1893.



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