This township bears the name of one of the early and numerous families of Clay County, in honor of whom it was so called. It was originally embraced in Xenia Township, with which it forms a voting precinct, and from which it was taken in 1861, by the adoption of township organization. Fmm 1867 to 1869, it was again united with Xenia by act of the State Legislature, but has been independent of Xenia since the latter date. It is a regular township, containing thirty-six sections, and is located as Town 3 north. Range 5 east. The northern boundary is formed by Oskaloosa, the eastern by Harter, and the southern by Xenia Township, the west boundary being Marion County. The surface of the township is chiefly high and rolling, and as an agricultural district the township is perhaps the best one of Clay County. While the soil is not so fertile as is found in many parts of the State, it nevertheless produces good crops of corn, abundant returns in hay, with frequent large yields of wheat, and is developing vast probabilities in the way of fruit-growing, to which many of its farmers are turning with a commendable zeal.
About 75 or 80 per cent of the township is prairie, the remainder being the timber that fringed the streams. Originally along these streams was to be found some very valuable timber, the principal useful varieties being the white and black oak, walnut, hickory and ash. The greater part of this timber has been long since utilized in the development of tho country, which now presents a picture of prosperity and healthy improvement. With the clearing off and domestication of tho general face of the country, most of the wild conditions have disappeared, some of them wholly. Among the most noticeable changes that have taken place may be mentioned the almost entire absence now of some of the vegetation, which in an early day was found in great abundance. Among the annual plants which have entirely disappeared may be mentioned the ginsong and several varieties of the snake root. Tho well-known May apple, too, has almost disappeared, now to be found only in small and br .ken patches, where it formerly grew broadcast, covering the surface of the country. The wild onion, that once grew in rank and rich luxuriance in the bottom lands is no more to be seen. The wild plum, which now is scarce, of stunted growth and very sour, was formerly to be found in large orchards along the bottom lands and fringing the prairies; the fruit was luscious, and ripened in the latter part of August or the early days of September. We think it safe to assert that the oak trees do not yield such bountiful crops of acorns as they did in the early age of the country. The hazel bush was a feature of the early history of the country, which is now almost remembered as a thing which was but is no more. They abounded most along the border of the prairies and through the groves of oak timber. They grew tall and luxuriantly, and produced every year immense quantities of nuts. They seem no longer to grow with much vigor, those that are seen being scrubby, and produce a scanty fruit corresponding. What is true of the plum and hazel is also true of the black haw.
For these disappearances no reason can be assigned, and we are left to the vague conclusion that the inherent nature of these vegetable productions was essentially too wild to flourish with civilization. The animal as well as vegetable kingdom suffered loss by the coming of the early settlers. Of the animals which were abundant sixty years ago are remembered the deer, fox and wolf, with an occasional catamount or wild cat. Then there was of the reptiles the two species of rattlesnake, the viper and the copperhead. To those who have gone forth with ax in hand to clear the forest for the plow, as well as to those who, with sickle in hand, proceeded to reap the ripened grain, no description of these serpents is needed. They were here and in distressing plentifulness, and that goose-like hiss or harsh rattle, which needs only to be heard to be remembered, was a constant reminder to the intruding settler that they would only yield their prestige under protest. An occasional one may still be found, but they are fast taking their places among the things which were.
A half century ago, the actual settlers might have been numbered upon the fingers, while there is now no township in the county that can claim superiority over Songer in its number of substantial farm residences and happy homes. We often wonder, when lookupon the smiling faces and listening to the merry voices of the children who inhabit these homes if they can, by any possible reach of the imagination, understand the value of their surroundings or comprehend the price that bought them. With the aged pioneer, however, it is vastly different. Ask them of facts pertaining to the years long gone by, and you waken the most intense interest and their deepest emotions as they recall to mind a vivid picture of times and scenes, dear to the heart of every pioneer. Their thoughts are carried back to the miles of weary travel and the days and nights of exposure experienced in reaching this then new country; of the struggles and hardships of the early years tu secure for themselves and their dependent little ones a protection against hunger and cold; of the long journeys over dreary roads, often through swollen streams to reach the nearest mill, or to convey to the nearest market the produce to be exchanged for their scanty supply of " store clothes." Then will come thoughts of the loving companion who shared their earliest sorrows, and who. by the burdens of pioneer life, had been borne through the portals of death, and laid in the little wavside grave yard. If the young and gay of the present generation should condescend to read these pages, may they do so with an increased veneration for the memories of the generation past.
Songer Township was not settled as early as the townships adjoining it. Its settlers of the tirst three decades were principally from Indiana, Washington County of that State furnishing the greater part. This fact insured the settlement against " clannishness," so often observed in a settlement composed of a representation from sections of the country remote from each other. They were hardy, industrious people, and given to hospitality and deeds of kindness, the genuineness of which was proven by the fact that these deeds of kindness were extended not only to neighbors but to the stranger as well. Of the first settlers, Alexander Cockrell came about 1825 from Washington County, Ind., and settled in Section 19 of Songer Township.
In 1828, two brothers, Jacob and John Colclasure, from the same State, came and settled in Sett ion 26, where some of their descendants still live. Their father, Abram Colclasure, came a few years later, and settled in the same neighborhood, to which he proved a valuable annex, he being one of the most industrious and enterprising of the then sparsely settled country. He died about 1858, and left a large number of relatives who are still residents of the township.
Edmund Golden settled in the east part of the township, about the same date as did the Colclasures. He was also from Indiana and died several yoars ago, leaving as a legacy to the county, two sons of sterling worth—Wesley and Thomas Golden—who now live in the west part of Harter Township.
Samuel Songer came as early as 1828, and settled in Section 33, in the southern part. Giles Songer settled in the western part in Conner's Prairie in 1830. Of these men we have spoken elsewhere; but one opinion is rendered of these families. Micajah Brooks came from Indiana in 1830, and made settlement at the head of Raccoon Creek, to which place he was accompanied by his three sons—Silas, William and Elijah Brooks—and also his son-in-law. William Hill. Micajah Brooks was characterized by a desire to accomplish something in life, and especially desired to have a well-tilled coffer to console him in the hour of his death; to this end he adopted the motto " get all you can (honorably of course), and keep all you get," and it is said of him that he actually boasted of having been for twenty-five years a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the support of which had cost him but two bits. Those acquainted with the financial policy of that particular church will need no further guaranty of this brother's saving grace.
A Mr. Hampton was one of the earliest men in the township, and located in the northwestern part, at what was known for many vears as Hampton's Point. Hampton was the first man in that portion of the country to undertake the cultivation of the prairie land. He broke and planted a field of corn as an experiment, and was for a time regarded by his neigbors with a mixture of pity and surprise; this, however, was soon changed to admiration, as thev saw him gather a bountiful crop, which was produced with a small amount of labor, and without any fence, the deer which were plentiful, being the only source of loss to the crop. Where or when Hampton died is unknown to us. A son, Turner Hampton, was for several years a resident of tho township. William George, who was mentioned in another chapter in connection with the first marriage, settled in the township about 1833. He located on the place now occupied by William Anderson. He was followed to the same place by Benjamin Hodges, the first blacksmith of the township. Isaiah Bradley and family, including his son James Bradley, settled in the township, Section 20, some time previous to the year 1840.
The development of Songer Township has kept pace with other portions of the county, though it contains no railway nor village. Neither can it claim any attraction not possessed by other and adjoining townships, unless it be the mineral springs, in Section 26, and owned by R. R. Colclasure. These springs are several in number, and each differs from the rest in the character of its mineral ingredients, the sulphur, iron and magnesia being the chief attractions. Some attention has been given to the preservation of these springs by Mr. Colclasure, and many who have used of their waters are ready to pronounce them of great value.
Where the first schoolhouse in the township was located, and who the first teacher was cannot now be definitely determined, but the best information points to the Colclasure settlement as the location of the first school; and to Henry Stipp or Rev. Whiteley, a pioneer Baptist minister. The township is now well supplied with schoolhouses, where are kept schools which favorably compare with any in Clay County.
The first religious services in Songer Township were held by the Baptists, Rev. Whiteley or Benjamin Coats conducting them. At the present time the township contains but two churches, the Cumberland Presbyterian and the United Presbyterian Church, both in the western part.
[Source: "History of Wayne and Clay Counties, 1884"]
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