History of Calliope


What follows is the reported hijacking of the county
seat of Sioux County, Iowa as printed in
“Hawarden Centennial – One Hundred Years on the Right Track.”
(c) 1987.

“In 1872 Calliope was a prospering settlement with established homes and businesses. In the eastern part of the county, however, there was a Dutch settlement being formed called Orange City. The people of Orange City thought that the county seat should be moved to their town; however, this was not in accordance with the citizens of Calliope. So, on Jan.21, 1872, Henry Hospers, A.J. Betten, J. Pellemulder and Judge Pendleton of Sioux City tried to convince the officials of Calliope to relinquish their status as county seat. This proposal met with no approval, so the next day, fifty-five men with horses and sleighs converged on the little settlement with the intent of procuring the county books, the safe with the county money, and the county seal and taking them back to Orange City. They were aided by men in twenty-five sleighs from the Rock Valley-Hull territory.”

“The raiders were persistent in their demands to procure what they felt was theirs, and they threatened violence unless these demands were met. They were well armed with guns and revolvers, and many were ex-soldiers. Eventually the key was procured for the safe – the raiders thought – but it proved to be the wrong key. The raiders then resorted to drastic measures and chopped open the lean-to where the safe was housed, backed the sleigh up to the opening, and loaded the safe onto it. The [safe] was made of rolled steel and was 52 inches high, 45 inches wide, and 28 inches thick. They also loaded up the books. During the trip to Orange City, the sleighs went through the ice on the Floyd River and had to be pulled out by a team of shod mules: it was then delivered to officials in Orange City. Later a bargain was made to return the safe and books to Calliope, but through a legal process of petitions and an election, the county seat was formally declared to be Orange City. Two hundred and fifty votes were cast in the balloting; only sixty-five were cast for Calliope.”

On a more solid historical note. Calliope was officially incorporated in 1882. As the settlement grew and the area civilized the railroad decided to pass through Calliope on the way to the Dakota Territories. History reports the railroad could not obtain the necessary land grants and was forced to locate the station for Calliope a couple miles south of the settlement. Just as Calliope was formed around the river, the Chicago and Northwestern railroad became the hub for another group of homes, stores and activity. The new community took the name “Hawarden” on honor of the English statesman, Gladstone, whose county seat was Hawarden.

In August, 1885 the Independent reported, Last week notices were posted to the effect that the south end of the incorporated town of Calliope (which is better known as Hawarden) would attempt to draw off from parental protection and set up housekeeping for itself at the Sept. court. This stripling, like all others, as soon as she is large enough to toddle, thinks she can hoe her own row. But Mother Calliope says “No” and will at once proceed to administer a thorough chastisement to the rebellious, ungrateful, young upstart.

Well, the court apparently didn’t read the Independent editorial and sided with the child. The village of Hawarden was formed.

In 1887 the Town of Hawarden was incorporated and in 1893 the axe was finally buried and Hawarden annexed Calliope to form one community.

The rest , as they say, is history, but hardly boring or uneventful. You can find all the Hawarden History you want at the Hawarden Library or from anyone with a copy of “Hawarden Centennial – One Hundred Years on the Right Track.”