Pleasantville History

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Date: Sep 1849 [unknown]
Location: Pleasantville, Marion, Iowa, USAmap
Surnames/tags: pleasantville iowa
Profile manager: Abby Glann private message [send private message]
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History of Pleasantville

It isn't definite how Pleasantville was named, but tradition holds that the first pioneers who came to the area referred to it in their letters back home as a pleasant place, a beautiful prairie with small groves throughout. That explains the township of Pleasant Grove, and we assume in the planning of the incorporated town of Pleasantville, the township name was influential.[1] The area the actual town of Pleasantville was settled and now stands was once part of a disputed claim between William S. Glenn and a Mr. Gillman and sons.[1] A law suit ensued, the Gillmans hiring Matthew Spurlock of Wapello County to represent them. Part of Spurlock's compensation was to be some of the Gillman claim.[1] The Gillmans won the case, but refused to give Spurlock what he thought he deserved for his services.[1] The Gillmans realized it wouldn't end well trying to fight him, so they met with him in Wapello County and sold him the entire claim, plus a horse, for $30.[1] But, as fate would have it, since the Gillmans had abandoned the claim by legal standards, the Glenns jumped it. He secured a title and kept possession of the piece until it was sold to William F. Jordan, whose sons Miles and Wesley decided to build a town there.[1] The land was surveyed August 1, 1849 by Stanford Doud, the Marion County land surveryor.[1]

Wesley Jordan's house was the first erected in town. It was later owned by L. McClellan.[2] The Jordans opened the first trading post in town, as well as the first post office. Prior to that, pioneers received their mail from Red Rock and Pinchy (Parin City Landing).[1] The mail came by boat up the Des Moines River.[1] Merchandise sold by the Jordans, and later by the Spaltis, came by river, as well.[1] It was then hauled by to Pleasantville by a wagon and team.[1] The last time this happened was in 1865 when Congress deemed the river non-navigable.[1]

In 1847, the first elections in the township were held on the claim of William Glenn.[1] The votes were counted by grease lamp, which was accidentally knocked over by one of the clerks, which ruined the paper containing the outcome of the election.[1] No notes exist that explain what the group did following the accident to remedy not knowing who had won.[1]

Miles Jordan taught the winter term of school in town in the first winter, 1847/8 with 25 students, and was paid $2 per student for his services.[1] The first schoolhouse was a log building, with puncheon floors and seats, as well as windows covered with greased paper to let in light.[1] Miles also served as the justice of the peace, performing the first marriage ceremony in town. He also represented Marion County in the General Assembly of the State Legislature.[1]

The first church in the town was built in 1852 by the Congregationalists.[1] The first service held there had 12 people in attendance.[1] The building was later taken over by the Methodists.[1]

June 11, 1872, Pleasantville was incorporated.[1] The first officers were William H. Miner (mayor), T.J. West (recorder), Miles Jordan (councilman), David Jockert (councilman), Elias Williams (councilman), Christian Pents (councilman), and Soloman Hart (councilman).[1]

The first Marion County Fairgrounds was in the northern part of Pleasantville, on the ground later called the Phillips Addition.[1]

The first newspaper was published by John Harper and P.A. Robinson in 1875, called the "Pleasantville Enquirer".[1] By 1879, it was published by H.L. Colman and R. T. Elson.[1]


  • Before 1845: Land dispute between William Glenn and Mr. Gillman over future site of Pleasantville[1]
  • 1845: The first families settle in the area, the Lewis Reynolds, Treanor Reynolds, Logans, Denem Halsey, William S. Glenn, Samuel Glenn, Samuel Glenn (2), Daniel Vansel, Larken Young, Marion and James Clinton, Richmond Miller, David Shenkwilder, Samuel Tibbett, Gilmore Robert, Harrison Logan, and John P. Glenn Families.[1][3]
  • 1846: Yose Spalti settles in the area.[3]
  • 1846 May: Lewis Reynolds breaks the first sod in the township, on his claim a little south of where Pleasantville would be.[3]
  • 1846 June: First birth in the township, Jonathan Glenn, son of Samuel and Elizabeth.[3]
  • 1846/7: Pleasant Grove Township surveyed by John Ball and Jesse Williams and declared a township by county commissioners.[3]
  • Before 1847: William Glenn gains title to claim[1]
  • 1847: William F. Miles, Wesley Jordan, Daniel Davidson, and Bennona Freel settle.[3] Wesley Jordan built the first house in the township, an A-Frame.[3]
  • 1847: William Glenn sells land to William Jordan and sons[1]
  • August 1847: First election is held in Pleasant Grove Township, under the trees in the yard of William Glenn.[1][3]
  • 1847 spring: School is held by Daniel Shea in a small log cabin built by G. Logan, about one mile west of Pleasantville.[3]
  • 1847 winter: Miles Jordan teaches the next school term in the town.[1]
  • 1849: W.F. Jordan and G. Logan planted the first orchards in the township.[3]
  • August 1, 1849: Miles and Wesley Jordan decide to start the town of Pleasantville and have the land officially surveyed by Stanford Dond, on the southwest quarter of the northwest qyarter of section 15, then owned by William F. Jordan.[1]
  • 1849: Willam H. H. Alley builds the first hotel, on lot 8, block 4.
  • 1849: First Christian Church is organized in Pleasantville.[3]
  • 1851 December 19: First child is born in the town of Pleasantville, at the same site as the hotel, Milton T. Glenn.[3]
  • 1852 First church is built by the Congregationalists under the leadership of Pastor James Woods.[1][3]
  • 1865 Last boat delivery of merchandise and mail via the Des Moines River[1]
  • June 11, 1872: Pleasantville is incorporated.[3]
  • July 16, 1872: First election held for town officers, elected William H. Miner as mayor; T.J. West, recorder; Councilmen: Miles Jordan, David Hocket, Elias Williams, Christian Pentz, Solomon Hart.[3]
  • 1875 First newspaper, the Pleasantville Enquirer, is published.
  • 1899 Pleasantville Jubilee celebrating 50th anniversary, including parade and town festival
  • 1910: A Town Celebration, Festival, and Parade are held, in part to celebrate a reunion of local Civil War veterans.
  • 1949: The Pleasantville Centennial 100th Anniversary Celebration, including a parade with participants from surrounding towns

Additional Pages


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 "Mrs. Fern Bare Gives Talk on History of Pleasantville", Marion County News, 25 Feb 1960, accessed in Pleasantville Past and Present book, Webb Shadle Memorial Library, Pleasantville, Iowa.
  2. "Pleasantville", The Enquirer, 16 Apr 1875, Pleasantville, Iowa
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 "Pleasantville: The Queen of a Bluegrass Realm", Special Edition of the Pleasantville News, 1 Nov 1897


Images and history relating to the town of Pleasantville, Iowa in Marion County. Most of this information and the images are courtesy of the research of Abby Glann for the Webb Shadle Memorial Archives.

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Categories: Pleasantville, Iowa