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Milford Township and Proud of It

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Some of the Milford Area
Historical Sites
Notable Places
The Four Corners Tree in NE Milford Twp
This beautiful large cottonwood stood in the center of the intersection at the common corners of the four townships (Howard, Milford, Richland, and Warren). It was cut down in October of 1924, six feet in diameter, 17 feet in circumference.

An Old Cottonwood; (Adapted from the April 9, 1909 -Nevada, Iowa Representative newspaper.) The Landmark of Four Townships

There is a notable cottonwood tree at the intersection of the roads at the corner of the townships (1909) of Milford, Warren, Howard, and Richland and concerning this tree, it has been understood that there was a story. The tree was planted by Cyrus Springer, one of the pioneers of that section, and the following traditional account is furnished at the request of the Nevada, Iowa Representative (newspaper) by Mr. Springer's son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, Mr. and Mrs. H. C. Springer and Miss Vernie Springer- all of McCallsburg.

Cyrus Springer, a gunsmith, of Nelsonville, Perry Co. Ohio, after twice failing to get into the Union Army came, with his wife and children, in 1865, to Story County. Here he purchased a farm in the very northwest corner of Richland Township and built a house and blacksmith ship, and in connection with his blacksmith business, he did some work as a gunsmith. At that time there was a great demand for this skill as game was plentiful and much prized in the pioneer's larder. He also planted a grove, as everyone did then for the protection from wind and also for a source of winter's fuel.

While in Nevada one day he brought home a brick, polished the surface, cut his name and the date in one side, enclosed it in a copper box and buried it in the center of the road and exactly in the corner of the four townships, Mil- ford, Howard, Richland and Warren. Then he set out a cot- tonwood tree directly above the box. The tree grew and still stands, (spring 1909) a magnificent shade in the summer and a landmark at all times.

After the mother of the family died in the spring of 1873, the remainder of the Cyrus Springer family moved on to Nebraska. The house, shop and most of the grove are gone, but the tree still stands (1909). Here's hoping it may never be destroyed while it has life. Yet some day it will be gone and if this little history be not lost, some one may un- earth the copper box and its contents.

Footnote: For years before the Milford Township school consolidation, the Roland road, from Nevada, was located a mile west of the current Roland road (S-14). This caused the road to pass the three one-room schools (Nos. 7, 6, and 1) However, after the consolidation and then the cost to replace the narrow bridge over East Indian Creek be- tween Sections 23 and 24 caused the route to be relocated a mile east. This did not increase the distance but did cause the increasing traffic to use the road that contained this novel landmark, so by 1924 the tree was removed. No note has been found that contains any information about the “time capsule” left by Mr. Springer.

An article in the 17 October 1924 Nevada Paper tells of the “sacrifice” of the historical landmark.

“One day this week the board of supervisors went up, grubbed out the main brace roots, placed a heavy charge of dynamite underneath and blew the tree out. Later it was cut up and removed from the highway and the intersection will be smoothed out and the last reminder of the old landmark will be effaced.” (cont'd)

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© 2012 Mark Christian
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