West Bend Journal
May 30, 1956
Centennial Edition

First History Written of 100 Year Old Town
Original Site on West Fork of the Des Moines River

By Mrs. Ed Nessen

     As our town approaches the close of it's first one hundred years it might be of interest to folks to know about the years which stretch back to what was the first settlement in Palo Alto Co, the date May 1, 1855. Then William Carter and son, Fayette Carter and wife, Jeremiah Evans and family settled permanent claims on the east bank of the Des Moines River near where West Bend now stands.
     These early pioneers came from Benton County, Ia., by ox team thru sparsely settled country and from Fort Dodge following the trail to the northwest known as the "Military Road". Before making a final settlement these folks went further north to Medium Lake (now Jackman's Grove) but decided that the place they first saw was best so came back and began to make a permanent location at West Bend. Carter and Evans took adjoining claims on a beautiful rolling piece of land near the river, and ideal site for a pioneer cabin because there was plenty of wood and water close by. (This was in Section 21, West Bend Twp.) This old farm is still owned by the Carter family; Benton Carter now living there. (Benton is the great grandson of Wm. Carter.) Jeremiah Evans built his home in Section 28 about where the Henry Fehr home is now.
     On May 31, 1855 (on the line between the two claims) the first prairie in Palo Alto Co. was broken with 5 yoke of oxen hitched to a 28" plow. Then a log house 14x18 of rough hewn logs was built. It has no floor and was roofed with "shakes". A small piece of ground was sown this first spring. The settlers faired well during the spring and summer on wild game (deer & elks) was plentiful and they had brought some supplies with them. About in July this first year a band of Sioux Indians, under the Chief Inkpadutah proved very troublesome stealing, etc. even driving the settler's cattle away and devouring one of the oxen. However some of the cattle were recovered later.
     In the fall William Carter went back to Benton Co. and brought to this new home his wife and their son Ben (A.B. Carter) then 14 years old. The Carter and Evans families were the only settlers in 1855. A.B. Carter told of their experiences during the first winter. It was very cold and everyone was nearly frozen to death; also a band of Sioux Indians camped about 50 rods from the cabin. The chief was a strict man, keeping good control of the Indians, but some stealing did go on. Because of the hard winter food was scarce and hungry Indians were desperate. The while folks tried to help them by trading food for furs, moccassins, etc. Trips were made to Fort Dodge by oxen where these supplies in turn were traded for provisions.
     White folk and Indians alike suffered hardships the first winter. Starvation haunted the Indians. As one example: there was one pair of oxen that the Indians noticed the Carters did not use for work so they demanded them for food. As Mr. Carter relate, "We hitched up these oxen and hauled up some wood to show that we needed the beasts." "We went to Fort Dodge again and got them something to eat." Later the Indians went up north but 2 days after one of the Indians came back and stayed with the Carters all summer. This young Indian boy whom the Carters called "Josh" helped with the chores, learned the white folk's language and liked A.B. Carter, who was about his age.

     In telling about the many hunting experience which he and his father and brother had, Mr. Carter told of the time they camped at Walnut Grove; "About 4 o'clock in the afternoon we saw a drove of about 200 elk. We got north of them and saw that the main drove was south of the creek. Then father saw 2 big elk and tried to get them, ducks would fly up but the elk didn't mind. He fired a shot and got one elk then another after shooting several times got the other...That was my first hunting experience."
     Deer were also plentiful and of course smaller game.
     Early in the spring of 1856, William D. Powers joined the West Bend Colony. In telling of this Mr. Powers related he first walked thru Palo Alto Co. under the command of Major Sherman on march to Fort Ridgely on March 7, 1854. Several years after his discharge on August 1855 Powers started from St. Louis, Mo. with wagon and oxen, traveled up thru Missouri, came to Dakota City, Iowa and stayed with Ed McKnight there in a small log house. He took Mr. Powers to the south corner of Palo Alto Co. where the latter made his claim on section 34 on December 21, 1855. They met Jerry Evans who was living nearby and a little farther toward the river found the home of William Carter and his family. Powers then told of going back to Dakota City where he lived in a cave all winter, when spring came he returned to his claim and put up his tent on the 9th of April 1856.
     He made acquaintance of some Sioux Indians and Chief Och-see-da-washta, who had come down the river to hunt. The winter of 1858 was a cold and snowy one, and a 4 day trip was necessary to go to Dakota City for flour, port, etc. The snow was so deep no teams could be used so the men and hand sleighs made the trip.
     Mrs. Emma Giffen of West Bend is a daughter of this early settler, W.D. Powers. She and her family farm about 5 miles west of town.
     Lennie Powers, 74, who died last week Friday February 3 at Emmetsburg was the youngest son of W.D. Powers. Mrs. Giffen is now the only survivor of this Powers family.
     The first settlement was very important because of the natural advantages of location and the fact that they were on the main route of travel, and these rugged and persevering first settlers had a vital influence on the development of the county.
     Benton Carter lives where his grandfather A.B. Carter (Ben Carter) made his first home, a log cabin.
     Living where the first settler Wm. Carter built his log house, is Richard Brown, whose father Alvin Brown now owns the farm.
    Going back in brief to Wm. Carter, first settler, Mr. Carter continued to improve his property into a fine farm where he lived until his death in 1844 at the age of 84 years. For one term he served as County Supt. of Schools. He aided in organizing the first Presbyterian Church in the county becoming one of its charter members.
     His son, A.B. Carter who was 14 years old when they came to West Bend Township also entered land there (where Benton Carter now lives). He farmed successfully until 1909 when he moved to West Bend, and in 1910 moved to Emmetsburg.
     Samuel McClelland, son-in-law of Wm. Carter came to the West Bend settlement in 1856, with his family and located his home about 3 miles north of where Mr. Carter had built his cabin.
     R.M.J. McFarland, Sr. (father of the late B.F. (Ben) McFarland of West Bend) came soon after McCelland, making his home on the north-east quarter of 28, West Bend Twp.
     In July 1856 John McCormick, Sr. and his son Robert came here and later in the fall, his wife, another son, James, and daughter, Isabel, jointed the family in the West Bend settlement, this closer to Rodman.
     James Linn settled in the colony in 1856 and the same year married Elizabeth Carter, daughter of Wm. Carter, and Wm. D. Powers married Ann Carter, the other daughter. These were the first two marriages in Palo Alto County. The first school, a log building, was built at West Bend in the fall of 1861, Mr. Carter hauling the finishing lumber from Boone. Mary E. Mathews of Irvington, Kossuth Co, was the teacher. Mr. A.B. Carter was the school director who hired this teacher.
     On the Wm. Carter homestead the first postoffice was located, with Mr. Carter in charge, and mail was carried between Emmetsburg and Fort Dodge.
     Enterprising settlers soon found the need for organizing a county government and in October 1858 an election was held. James Hickey was elected county Judge, the Carter colony people all voting for Mr. Hickey.
     Samuel McClelland was elected constable and twp. trustee and Wm. D. Powers, clerk for Cylinder twp., for one year. We mention only these three officers as they were the ones from the West Bend settlement.

     As we note, all down thru history, in every country, war plays a major part. During the early settlement of Palo Alto Co. the Civil War was waged. A.B. Carter of West Bend was the first to enlist from this county, on August 2, 1861, at Fort Dodge. In 1862 James Linn and Wm. D. Powers enlisted their regiment was in active service until it was mustered out in June, 1865.
     During the early part of the war practically no settlers came to this county, in 1863 the whole population was 142 people.
     In May of the year 1863 Mr. and Mrs. Geo. J. Jacobs, Sr. and family of 5 small children left Wisconsin for Iowa by oxen and wagon first coming to Fort Dodge. Mr. Jacobs came alone to the West Bend settlement first to choose the homestead. On July 31, 1863 the entire family came to the homestead in Section 22, West Bend Twp. and a log house with a sod roof was built. a terrible prairie fire this first fall burned this family out except for the log house. The winter supply of hay (which had been cut with a scythe was gone) and some of the horses and cattle died from lack of feed. Food for the family was very scarce and the last dinner the family had, they had ground up what seed corn was left.
     Mr. Jacobs and his son Henry H. broke prairie all one summer with a yoke of oxen. The latter made trips to the nearest trading post at Fort Dodge by oxen for supplies.
     Here on the Jacobs Homestead, where Donald Jacobs, grandson of the early settler Geo. Jacobs, Sr. now lives and farms, was located the first blacksmith shop and a store. Also for 14 years the post office was located here. In those pioneer days the families "took turns", so to speak, at operating the post office. It was just in 1948 that the original building that housed the post office and store was torn down, on the Jacobs farm. H.H. Jacobs (was a brother of Geo. Jacobs, living here in West Bend) ran the stage between Humboldt and Emmetsburg, hauling both mail and passengers. The Jacobs Homestead was the stopping point for meals and overnight lodging and the Jacobs family was noted for its hospitality. Mr. Jacobs continued to drive stage until the railroad went thru in 1881 and West Bend was started at its present location. He then built a store and put in a stock of groceries that cost him $855, considered quite a stock in those days. The next summer he added dry goods and other general merchandise, and had the most complete and largest store outside Emmetsburg.
     Geo. Jacobs, Jr., 83, who is a resident of West Bend, having retired from farming several years ago, recalls many interesting incidents from his boyhood. He remembers that the Indians would come to the store and beg for flour and salt, which they would always receive. These Indians never caused trouble. Sometimes the Jacobs boys would go down to the river where the Indians were camped. They would stick a willow in the ground, notch the end of it and place a penny there. The Indian that shot the penny out of the willow with a bow and arrow could have it.
     Geo.Jacobs, Sr. passed away in 1904 at tha age of 83 and his wife in 1922 at the age of 92. Geo. Jacobs, Jr. owns the original homestead, where his son Donald, 3rd generation, lives at the present time.
     After the War several new settlers came into the West Bend Colony. Among them were C.G. Groves, John Dewitt, Jas. Johnson, Ira D. Stone, Joseph Knapp, John P. Bickle, Dan Ditch, Jeremiah Kelly, Michael Karsh and several others.
     Among the other early settlers in West Bend twp, in 1868 were E.P. Vance, John F. Little, and Frank Little. In 1869 Geo. Brown, J.E. Stone, and J.C. Felhauer; in 1870, W.H. Booth and Sam Post, in 1871, Julius Thatcher, Sol Huntley and S.W. Ballard.

     Following closely the settling of West Bend Township, we begin the story of the town of West Bend. It may be interesting to know that the town was at one time named "Ives" after the president of the B.C.R. & N. railroad. This however was before any buildings were erected on the present site. The people of West Bend Twp. voted a special tax of 5 % for building of the railroad on the condition that the railway company would locate a station within the borders of the twp. which they did, just inside the county line. The twp. derived its name from the sharp turn the Des Moines river makes toward the West at a point southwest of the present townsite. The twp. being named West Bend and also because the very first post office was at the Carter Cabin on the bend, the people wanted their new station named West Bend.
     It was thru Mr. A.B. (Ben) Carter that the railroad consented to the change.
     The building of the R.R. brought with it the shanties of the construction groups and a shanty saloon, hastily built. Jack Gallegar built the first permanent building, a saloon for the thirsty toilers. This building was located where Mikes Bros. Meat Market now stands and was completed in 1861, same time as the railroad was completed. James Evans was the next business man, he put up a store bldg. (where the Boos Co. Produce is now) and bought a stock of groceries.
     In the late fall of '81 Edward Bagley moved an old cheese factory bldg. from the Banwart settlement in Garfield Twp. (Kossuth County) and started a hardware store in the bldg. Later Falb's Blacksmith Shop occupied this site, which at the present time is the location of Schafer's Store. James Tilford built a small store, and as we told about in a previous installment of this story, H.H. Jacobs gave up his stage driving and built a substantial general store, (where Al and Ray's is now) about the same time. Later Jacobs sold to Ed Lampman who operated the store for many years. Franklin Minger was the first blacksmith in town. And his son Elmore was the first child born in the town. About this time Wm. Amos bought grain and livestock and later, in partnership with Byron Gray as Amos and Gray, added lumber and coal. Later they also put in a store. Ben Franklin operated the first drug store in the bldg. later occupied by the Emerson-Foley Restaurant, and at the present time Leah's Bakery. This bldg. was built by James Johnson, the first postmaster, the postoffice being moved in from Jacobs.
     The postoffice was located in several different places, at first on the west side of the street about where Walkers Store is now located. Augustus White, who later ran the hardware store, was one of the first postmasters.
     In the Spring of 1882 McFarland and McCormick bought out the Evans stock of goods and in the fall McFarland bought out McCormick and founded the firm of McFarland and Walker and is now Walkers Store.
     The first hotel built in 1882 by J.C. Felhauer was known as the West Bend House. It was located on the east side of main street just opposite from where Al & Ray's Store is now, (the former Wm. R. Banwart and later Jensen and Bollard Store).
     Dan Kelly was the first landlord in the town. L.E. Hampton had the first clothing store and a man named Eimlas operated a wagon shop (wagon making was a very important business in the early days) in the bldg. where Drussell's Shop is now. Another wagon maker was the father of Fred Moser, Sr. (very early Kossuth Co. settlers) who worked at his trade in the Al Falb blacksmith shop. West Bend's first Opera house was located above what was then the McFarland store. James Flood had the first restaurant where the Mertz Implement Co. is at present. Several livery stables were located on main street, one where Champlin Oil Co. is, one on the spot where the West Bend Auto Co. is and the last one to be torn down stood where Standard Oil Co. is located at the present.
     Perry Cuplin housed his famous "Gold Machine" in the bldg. south of the last livery stable; this bldg. now being the Blacksmith Shop. Alex Pertl had the first shoe repair shop. His first shop was the cupola from the top of the old frame school bldg. which was torn down to build the brick bldg. (not the present school bldg.) The old Flour Mill (wooden of course) was located just a little South of where the present Municipal Light Plant is now.
     Mark Gray built the first residence in the town.

     The first passenger train that came thru West Bend on the railroad (in 1881) brought the first doctor to the town. Dr. E.W. Bachman, who lived in the house where Kenneth Besch now resides. The doctor had his office in his house. He was later the county Superintendent and State Senator from this district. From here he moved to Estherville. Subsequent practicing physicians here were the Doctors F.D. Boody, C.H. Hilger, and A.H. Bishop. At present we have two resident doctors, Dr. H. Frank Givens, M.D. and Dr. W.F. Morrison, D.O.
     Dr. A.W. Green was the town's first dentist. During the first few years there was no regular licensed Veterinary. Dr. P.O. Dorweiler, D.V.M. came to West Bend in 1913. Continuing here until his retirement in 1949. There are two doctors of Veterinary Medicine now DR. J.F. Johns and Dr. H.P. Shoeman.
     With business increasing and more buildings going up, the townsmen felt the need for the establishment of a bank. Two banks were organized within a few years. The Union State Bank in 1892 with a capital of $45,000, and with A.C. Brown as cashier. This bank (a wooden frame building) was located where the present bank is.
     The West Bend Savings Bank was organized in May, 1899 with a $15,000 capital and L.A. Martin was the first cashier of this bank. A new building was built in 1912. This is the office of Dr. H. Frank Givens now.
     In February 1890 a group of enterprising business men organized and incorporated the West Bend Building Co. The building now houses Walkers Store. Officers for this new company elected in 1890 were B.F. McFarland, President; P.P. Cuplin, Vice-president; and A.C. Brown, Secretary and Treasurer.  Mr. P.P. Cuplin (father of Nevius Cuplin) drew the plans for the new building. Shares in this are now held by Nevius Cuplin and A.J. Jensen. Mr. P.P. Cuplin had bought out the Drug Store from Benj. Franklin in 1889 (this was in the location of the present Leah's bakery.) Some years later the Cuplin Drug Store was in the place where Cris' Cafe is at present, that is in a part of the West Bend Building Co. The Masonic Hall has occupied upper rooms in the building since this lodge began on September 18, 1890. Also on the second floor was the R.M.J. McFarland Real Estate and Insurance office and Council Chamber.
     In the early history of the town the water system consisted of the mythical "Old Town Pump" and its rapid action Bucket Fire Brigade. This method was soon out-dated with the citizens resolving on more modern equipment. The first water works system was installed in 1895 having a wooden tank and steam pump. In 1900 the system was remodeled by building a steel tank of double capacity of the former, and a new pumping station with water pumped by a large 15 h.p. gas engine crystalon. The water came from a 103 ft deep flowing well. Water mains extended all over the town as it was then. The entire cost of maintaining this plant for one year was about $400. (Imagine this in the year 1956).

     At a special election in '914 the citizens of West Bend voted to establish a municipal light plant to supply the community with electric service and to light the streets. Previous to this time there was no electric service and only a few blocks of the town's main street were lighted by 3 gas lamps, all residence streets being in darkness.
     In the spring of 1915 the original building was erected by local contractors, Dixon & Anderegg and a 50 h.p. steam engine and boiler installed. In 1932 the system was rebuilt from a direct to an alternating current system. In 1954 a 1400 h.p. diesel engine was installed and also at this time a new building was built around the old one and then the latter was removed. Nevuis Cuplin, present plant superintendent began his work in 1924. This vital town enterprise supplies the public, free of charge, electricity for lighting the streets, lighting of our famous Grotto and the park, city hall, library, fire department and also the power for the water pumping and operation of the disposal plant.
     In connection with the above we might also tell a little about the local Volunteer Fire Dept. This organization was started in 1919 with the members being: Ed Mayer, Les Minger, Fred Schurg, Bob Tinsley, R.G. Wilson, Irvin Shellmyer, P.O. Dorweiler, Jerry Schutter, Dewey Crotts, Ben Walker, Geo. Foley and Walter Shellmyre. Bob Tinsley was the first fire chief. The present fire chief is Irvin Shellmyer, charter member of the department.
     The present town of West Bend was incorporated in 1884.
      At one time the town of West Bend had 2 newspapers, the Advance and the West Bend Journal. The latter which is still an up and coming small town paper was first entered as 2nd class matter in July, 1888. Editor was D.H. Williamson. Mr. J.B. Martin was also an early publisher of the West Bend Journal. Present owners and publishers are Elmer and GeVerna Cole.
     Continuing the saga of West Bend, its growth and progress. In this we attempt to tell about those business men and the organizations which figured in the town's beginning and for the first years and then go on to the latter years.
     In a previous installment, the first hotel (West Bend House) was mentioned. In due fairness to early business folk, we wish to tell about another hotel, which was well known. This was the Garthwaite Hotel, purchased in 1886 by the Benjamin Garthwaites from Mr. Appleton, West Bend's first depot agent. Mrs. Nellie Emerson, well known resident of our town is a daughter of the Garthwaites. The hotel, located on the east side of Main St. about where the Montag Bros. Garage is now was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Garthwaite from 1886 to 1895. An interesting note which we wish to insert here. Mrs. Emerson came to West Bend as a girl of 12 years and from then on she proudly says, "I spent my life for the past 70 years on Main St. of West Bend" by this she means she lived there first, with her parents, then as Mrs. Geo. Emerson (operating a restaurant with her husband) and before retiring to her present home on the corner of Main St. she operated an Ice Cream Parlor in the restaurant location. She has observed the life of the town from her windows.
     Important to the town's business and prosperity are the grain elevators. Mr. W.E. Reid operated one where the present Farmers Coop Elevator Co. is located. They bought it from Mr. Reid in 1915. Geo Schreiber and then Carl Krueger (father of Ernest Krueger) ran a grain elevator where the Davenport Elevator Co. is at the present time.
     In conjunction with the Farmers Coop Elevator there is a Farmers Service Station on the street running West from Main. R.W. Jurgens is the present manager of the Coop and Mr. J.A. Olson is manager of the Davenport Elevator Co.
     Located where the home of Mrs. W.H. Daubendiek is now, was the first creamery. Then in 1892 the Farmers Creamery was started in a frame building in the northwest section of town across the railroad tracks where the Gene Claude home is. Tom Clark was the creamery manager. When the creamery building burned down in 1928 the new creamery (the present Farmers Coop Creamery) was started immediately and operation of it began about November of 1928, with O.W. Dubbs as manager.
     The first telephone company was begun and managed by J.M. Border and Ed Bartlett. The telephone office was in the small building (still standing) at the rear of Walkers Store. This little frame building is now used for storage. Mrs. Stena Hanson was the first telephone operator and Mr. Jorgenson (called Jergy by everyone) was the lineman and Irvan Shellmyer, a school boy then, worked with him. Later Mr. Archie Bourrett was the telephone Co. manager and he in turn sold it to Leo Balgeman. in the spring of 1917 W.H. Daubendiek came from eastern Iowa, bought the Telephone Co. (then known as West Bend Telephone Co.)-from Balgeman and became manager. In 1926 the West Iowa Telephone Co. was organized and the West Bend company was made a part of it, and the office was moved to Main Street. Mr. Shellmyer continued with the West Iowa until 1936. A great improvement was made in the system in 1954 when the company changed to the dial system, and everyone in town and the surrounding community were supplied with dial phones, Mayor J.A. Olson placed the first call (to California) over the new system. Mr. Robert Alcorn is the present local manager.

     Progressing steadily, what was at first a modest and perhaps adventurous beginning of a town by the early public-spirited folks, soon grew and flourished. More and varied businesses were set up as we will continue to tell in this part of our story. As the old adage goes "It takes all kinds of people to make a world," so it takes "All kinds of businesses to make a town."
     Much building was being done, both of business places and dwelling houses. The need for a lumber supply was felt and within a few years two lumber companies were doing a good business. Where the present Lampert Yards are, was located the Johnson Lumber Co. (the first of its kind) and the Henry Brothers built a lumber business where the Callaway Lumber Co. is now.
     The first dray lines (an important business in earlier days) were operated by Dan Kelly and by Andy and Jake Felhauer. In later years, up until not too many years ago, Pard, Perry and Irvin Dewitt ran the dray line, first with horses and later by truck.
     As the mode of travel changed or we should say advanced, livery stables gave way to motor garages and Irvin Comer (son-in-law of Alex Pertl) operated the first garage called then the West Bend Auto Co. and located about where the present garage, by the same name, is now. We might add a sad note here: Marguerite Pertl was perhaps the first person killed by a car in West Bend. This tragedy happened in 1915, (east of the Light Plant) when Marguerite, 4 years old at the time, was returning home from Sunday school. Pat Colligan also operated an early garage.
      West Bend boasted of several fine photo studios (or picture galleries) when the town was still young. The first photographer was J.P. Hird whose studio was located south of Pertl's building. Another early photographer was Charlie Faschtor whose business was in a shop where Joe Schaller's home is now.
     Emmels and Hale had the first undertaking business establishment. They also had a line of furniture in conjunction with it. Later W.W. Crippen engaged in the undertaking business, and in 1912 the late Jerry Schutter bought the business from Crippen, and continued in it until 1950. During the first World War Mr. Schutter had closed out the furniture line.
     The town of West Bend was becoming an important trading point and as of 1914 the following is a list of the business men and the lines in which they were engaged:
B.F. McFarland, Gen. Merchandise.
Geo. Post, General Merchandise
Wm. B. Banwart, Gen Merchandise
Jos. Dorweiler, Gen. Merchandise
H.B. Lawrence, Men's Furnishings.
P.P. Cuplin, Drugs
Kohler and DeSart, Hardware
W.G. Wilson, Hardware
Union State Bank, F.E. Border, Cashier.
West Bend Savings Bank, A.L. Frye, Cashier
Geo. Emerson, Restaurant
John H. Wilson, Restaurant
Cloy Nessen, Groceries
Alek Pertl, Shoe Store
Mikes Bros. Meat Market
A.J. Falb, Blacksmith & Wagon shop
W.B. Lang, Blacksmith
W.W. Stone, wagon shop
Geo. G. Schreiber, Wholesale poultry and egg house
Hayne & Severson, lumber company
Lampert Lumber Co., Leo Mimbach, Mgr.
J.L. Reid, Implements
W.B. Auto Co., Origer and Kuyper
Union Hotel, H.N. Riggins, Prop.
Windsor Hotel, J.H. Brennan, Prop.
West Bend Opera House, Minger & Bourrett, Mgrs.
West Bend Telephone Co
Mertz Sisters, Millinery
Geo. Ivey, hay dealer
J.C. Kongsbach, hay dealer
Carl Krueger, grain and coal
W.E. Reed, grain and livestock
John Nachtman, coal and feed
Andert & Reed, real estate and automobiles
R.M. J. McFarland, real estate and insurance
Jerry Schutter, furniture and undertaking
C.C. Miller, Jeweler
H.M. Peck, Barber
Herman Schmidt, Barber
L.E. Ditch, livery
H.M. Mantz, harness shop
C.H. Hilger, M.D.
A.H. Bishop, M.D.
G.L. Rice, Dentist
A.W. Green, Dentist
Welt Miller, Lawyer
E.G. Minger, Wire fence and gates
A.B. Colgan, billiard and pool room.
Wilderman Bowling Alley and Pool room
Williams and Pauley, Masons
Franklin Minger, Mason
S.A. Johnston, painter and decorator.
West Bend Journal, N.H. Falb, publisher.

By Mrs. Ed Nessen

     Stories of our forefathers, the pioneers of the early days of the century which reaches its end for West Bend this spring, are countless and without peer amongst many to be found in history books.
     Herewith I wish to relate a few interesting short stories of several of the early settlers of West Bend and the township, those whom I did not elaborate on in the West Bend history.
     An early pioneer of West Bend township was Orrin Sloan who came from Wisconsin in 1866, the year following the close of the Civil War, and homesteaded here. This 80 acre homestead is in West Bend Township and Mr. Sloan's daughter Mrs. Elma Sloan Maxwell has in her possession the old Warranty Deed to this land, signed by the President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant. Dr. H. Frank Givens now owns this farm.
     Mrs. Maxwell tells that her father then walked many times from his home to Fort Dodge where the land office was located.
     Orrin Sloan had a yoke of oxen with which to break prairie sod. They were said to be the finest yoke of oxen in Palo Alto Co. One season a man hired him to break sod on a piece of ground which now adjoins the Martha Frieden farm, on the north. In a letter to the lady who later became his wife he wrote, "I have what they tell me is the best oxen in the county. In the evening when we stop work, I turn them loose and they go down to the old slough to drink." Note: the "old slough" was what is now the Grotto Lake.
     Later Mr. Sloan replaced the oxen with horses as the latter were more valuable than land at this time. He told of trading a wild, runaway horse for 44 acres of good proven upland, adjourning the homestead.
     Two of the Orrin Sloan children are West Bend residents, Mrs. Elma Maxwell and Mrs. Henry Montag.
     Another daughter Mrs. Clarence Barber lives at Whittemore and a son George in Vancouver, Wash.
     Mrs. Maxwell stayed with her father until his death in 1910. Mrs. Sloan passed away some years before.

     Perry Dewitt, 80 years old of West Bend is the only living member of the John Dewitt family, there were eleven children.
     Early settlers Mr. and Mrs. John Dewitt and three children, John, Perry and Lucinda came from Wisconsin to West Bend Twp. June 18, 1865. They first homesteaded one mile west and about three quarters north of our present town, this is where the Clyde Gingerich family farms now.
     When Mr. and Mrs. Dewitt came there were only 3 houses in the township. Their home like the others was a log house. The Dewitts relinquished this homestead to the government and bought land (about 160 acres) closer to the Des Moines river west of town, where the Art Frieden family live now.
     John Dewitt used oxen to break the sod and farm, one of his yoke of oxen weighed a ton and could pull almost what a team of ordinary horses could now.
     After the death of Mrs. Dewitt, Mr. Dewitt moved to Cylinder to live with a brother.
     The Dewitts are buried in the Riverside cemetery west of West Bend.

     Joseph McCormick who came to West Bend Twp. in 1881 when the railroad was being put through, came from Northern Ireland originally. He spent a short time in New York state and then came on to West Bend, which was his original destination.
     Mr. McCormick came to the home of his cousin Charles McCormick near Emmetsburg and worked for him.
     This first spring the farmers helped to hurry building of the railroad by donating work and Mr. McCormick helped scrape dirt along the Rock Island tracks.
     In 1884 Joseph McCormick bought a track of raw prairie in West Bend Township and set to work to prove it. This original homestead is the one on which his son Walter now lives and farms.
     Mr. McCormick was married to Emma Schriver of Algona in 1889 and they were the parents of four children, George of West Bend, mary Cromie of Spokane, Washington and her twin Mabel Van Horn of West Bend, Iowa and Walter of West Bend.
     One other interesting fact we might tell. The stage which ran from Fort Dodge to Spirit Lake (driven for 14 years by H.H. Jacobs of West Bend) would stop at the Charles McCormick place (where Joseph worked) to change horses.

     We might tell of many more folks and noteworthy incidents of the early "prairie" days but we hope the above are typical of these pioneers and interesting to read.