In the 1840's and 1850's, much of Iowa was being settled by pioneers from the east. One of the areas receiving many settlers was Benton Township in Keokuk County.
One of the early settlers was David Lentz with his wife, Anna Marie, and their family. They had emigrated from Bavaria, Germany to New York City, then to Butler County, Ohio. In the spring of 1846, David Lentz and his family moved to Benton Township. He bought a 160-acre farm from a Mr. Beard. This was located on the north side of the Fremont road, not too far west of Abel Cemetery. On this land, David Lentz built a log house, one and a half stories high, 18 by 20. At this time, it was the largest house in the township and was used as a dwelling until 1871. As there were no wire fences at that time, the 160-acre farm was fenced into four fields with fourteen thousand rails and thirty-four hundred stakes.
In December of 1846, David Lentz went back to Ohio to finish some business. On the trip back to Iowa, he stopped at Burlington and bought a cook stove and other items. This was the first cook stove used in the township. In 1848, John Akerman came to Benton Township, originally from Germany. He was born to Valentine and Catherine Schreiner Akerman o April 16, 1825 at Worms, Bavaria, Germany. In 1832, he and his parents immigrated to New York City. Later, they moved to Butler County, Ohio where he was raised on a farm. In 1849, John Akerman and Christian Lentz built the first frame house in the township. Christian Lentz did the framework and John Akerman did the finishing. This house later became known as the John Pfeiffer place. On February 4, 1849, John Akerman and Catherine Lentz, the daughter of David and Anna Lentz, were married. They first lived in the house he helped build. They lived on this farm until the winter of 1855, at which time they moved to the 160-acre farm that John Akerman purchased from David Lentz for thirty=five hundred dollars. They lived in the log house, built by David Lentz. It was in the log house that most of the fifteen children were born. In 1871, John Akerman built a two-story brick house on the same land. A schoolhouse had previously been built on this land, southwest of the house, next to the Fremont road. It was known as the Akerman School. Ten of the fifteen Akerman children received their education in this school. Among them was Catherine "Aunt Kate" Scott. This school building was used as a precinct-voting place for Benton Township before Hedrick was built. Votes were cast there for Abraham Lincoln for President. Akerman School closed in 1939 due to only two students being available for the fall term. The directoris decided to close the school and send the students to school in Hedrick. Sometime during the 1950's Akerman School was moved from this land to a destination that is no longer known. On the same portion of land, not too far east of where the school had set is the family cemetery. This was first known as Lentz Cemetery, then later became known as Akerman Cemetery. Catherine Lentz Akerman passed away November 15, 1884 and is buried at Abel Cemetery. John Akerman later remarried on December 16, 1885 to Mary Jane Sanchez Tereso. She was born Mary Jane Garret in Indiana in 1829. No information is known of her father, but her mother was Jane Reed. Mary Jane's first husband was Philip Sanchez Tereso, another early settler of Benton Township. They were married Aprill 11, 1854. In April and June of 1886 John Akerman sold the 160-acres he had bought from David Lentz, plus other land he had acquired, to Charles Blake of Wapello County. John Millikin acquired some of this land in February 1889. The section of land with the brick house John Akerman had built, remained in the Millikin family. Gary Millikin now owns the house and ten acres of the land. Ed and Linda Shaw Shultz own the remainder of the land. Linda is a descendant of John and Catherine Akerman. Her great-grandmother, Lydia Akerman, married Newton Shaw. Linda's granfather was Lacey Shaw, and her father was Waldo Shaw. John and Mary Jane Akerman lived on the land that Mary Jane owned. On December 8m 1906, John Akerman passed away. He was buried at Abel Cemetery next to his first wife, Catherine. David Lentz passed away May 17, 1882 and is buried at Akerman Cemetery. His wife, Anna, also known as Effie, passed away November 7, 1876 and is buried at Abel Cemetery. Submitted by Patrick Meloy.