Friday, January 22, 2010

Iowa Ghost Towns

I think every state has Ghost Towns.  Places that once thrived and prospered and became very important business areas while others were no more than a name on paper.  Some only had a post office and no other businesses.  When the railroads came through the state and by passed some of these towns, the businesses packed up and moved nearer the railroad.  The railroads meant business and the products could be moved in and out of town easier.  Gradually the people moved with them and the town would disappear.  

In 1930 and 1932, David C. Mott published two volumes, #17 and #18, in the Annals of Iowa.  "Abandoned Towns, Villages and Post Offices of Iowa".  From these volumes, listed below, are the Ghost Towns in Lucas County, along with a brief description.

A post office in the northern part of Union Township from 1853-1875.  Union Township is located in the extreme southwest corner of Lucas County.  Argo was not incorporated.  Derby is the only incorporated town in this township.  Argo was located directly on the Mormon Trace, three and a half miles northwest of Derby.

The route of the Mormon Trace from Chariton through the former location of Argo is marked with signs, but a sharp eye is needed to locate them.

A hamlet and post office in the western part of Pleasant township from 1858 to 1908.  A few scattered residences still remain (in 1930-1932).  Pleasant township is in the extreme northeast corner of Lucas County.    Belinda was never incorporated.  The Belinda Christian church was organized in 1848 and the building still exists, embedded in what now is a toy museum.  There were a few businesses and homes in the town; a hotel, blacksmith shop, a mill, two general stores, the post office, a brass band, eight dwelling houses with perhaps 50 people that ever lived there at one time and a doctor who spent some time living there.
Bucyrus had a post office from 1871 to 1880 in the southern part of English Township.  It was located a little more than three miles due north of Chariton and about two miles southwest of Williamson, north of the beginning of Highway 14's curve to begin a northeasterly descent to Little Whitebreast Creek.

Bucyrus was one of those post offices that moved from place to place, then died because of proximity to Chariton and the inability to find a long-term postmaster.
Cedar Grove was a post office from 1854 to 1868 in the central part of Cedar Township.  Ola was a post office from 1867 to 1902 in section 10 of Cedar Township.  Cedar Grove was located in the northwest portion of Section 11, very near Ola, in Section 10.  This suggests that the Cedar Grove post office became the Ola post office and moved slightly when one postmaster succeeded another.  Both Cedar Grove and Ola are located in the northeast quadrant of Cedar Township, two miles south of the Pleasant Township line and two miles west of the Monroe County line.
A coal mining town in the 1880's in section 18, White Breast Township, about two miles east of the town of Lucas.  In 1930 there were a few scattered houses still standing.  It was actually in Jackson Township having its west city limits joined to the east city limits of the city of Lucas.  Cleveland's east city limit was the Jackson-Whitebreast Township line and the town spilled over.  By some accounts it had as many as 1,000 residents during its prime time.  It was an extremely clean, neat and well-mannered little boom town and tolerated no saloons, but as with most mining towns it flourished only briefly.  As the mines here were closed, the miners moved on to other mines, or to Lucas.
New Cleveland is located approximately two miles southwest of Lucas in section 21 of Jackson Township.  It was established after 1896 when the failed Whitebreast Fuel Co. reorganized and during 1899, opened a mine named Cleveland No. 4 in that location.  It was never incorporated.  The community included a depot, post office, company store, saloons, boarding houses, churches, a school and substantial population.   Some time before this the railroad had seen fit to have a depot there and then there was need for other types of civilization.   These buildings and the New Cleveland Mine #4 occupied nearly a quarter section of land.  The town of New Cleveland was never incorporated, but was listed in the Official Census book of Iowa and the State Official Registers.  It had an elevation of 878 feet.  The post office ran,  even after the closing of the mines and was discontinued in 1913.  

The Company Store was run by Hardsock and Bean, and it is very likely that one of these was the postmaster.  The saloons were run by George Taylor and a Mrs. Berry.  A few of the teachers were Florence Douglas, Principal, Miss Dale, Blanche De Long and Sadie Rabadon.  This school had quite an enrollment for a mining town.  The mine closed during 1908 and the community started fading away.
A post office from 1869-1872 and railroad station in Union Township, about two miles southwest of Derby.  It was located on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy rail line connecting Derby and Wayne County's Humeston.  After Derby was platted May 1, 1872, so it seems likely that the railroad station was moved there from Earle and the post office ceased to exist when another nearby post office, Henderson, was moved into Derby.
Freedom was a village in the southeastern part of section 25, Warren Township, on Wolf Creek, laid out in 1856.  Post office, 1855-1876.  This town consisted of four blocks of eight lots each.  A store was established about 1860, by the Barnett Brothers.  They kept the post office for a number of years, but it and the store were both discontinued and the land was sold.  A saw and grist mill, for grinding corn was established , but the saw mill was removed some years ago into Benton Township.  The corn burrs made a first rate article of corn meal.  There was a grocery store and a blacksmith there and the total assessed valuation of real estate, for 1880, was seven hundre3d and niety-five dollars.

A mile west of old Freedom was Freedom Bible Camp, dating perhaps from the late 1940's or early 1950's denominationally independent but maintained by several congregations, and the site of summer youth camps and revival camp meetings.

To reach Freedom, travel south of Chariton on Highway 14 three and a half miles to the paved Derby Road, west on the Derby Road for a mile and then south on gravel approximately two miles to the Y intersection where Freedom once was located.
A post office from 1854 to 1865, shown on the maps first in the northwestern part of Warren Township and later White Breast Township.

Located in the northeast corner of Section 5 , Warren Township, but provides no further information.  White Breast township joins Warren on the north.  This is in the general neighborhood of May Baptist Church in northwest Warren Township, but that congregation was organized much later, during 1890.  Apparently the post office moved frequently, then vanished.
Had a post office from 1853 to 1864 in the eastern part of Washington Township. 
The name of the post office from 1915 to 1923 at the present town of Williamson.
A post office from 1866 to 1872 in section 20 of Waren Township.
The first  permanent settlement in Cedar Township, named in 1847 by William McDermit.
Although this "town" was not officially a town, just across the road there was a town called Johnstown.  It was entered on the tax rolls of Lucas County on March 9, 1900 and vacated January 18, 1958 and signed by Judge H.V. Levis.  This town was located on the N ¾ of the N-E ¼ of the S-E ¼ of section 21.  It contained lots 1 to 74 which were 60 feet wide by 120 feet long, and lot no. 75 that was 342 feet by 990 feet.  There were 6 streets 60 feet wide and 6 alleys, 16 feet wide.  This is the land known as Charley Woods farm and now owned by john Leonard.
List in the 1852-1853 U.S. Official Register as a post office in Lucas County, but not found on maps of that period.
A town in the southeastern part of section 25 and the northeastern part of 36, Cedar Township.  It was laid out in 1852, was on the main line of the Western Stage Company and was a prosperous town until the railroad came through a mile to the south in 1866.  Post office, 1855-1882.  A few scattered dwellings still remain (1930).
A post office from 1865-1888 in the western part of Union Township.
A post office in the early 1850's at or near the town of LaGrange.
Listed in the U.S. Official Register of 1859-1861 as a post office in Lucas County, but not found on maps of that period.
A hamlet or place shown on maps of 1868 and 1869 in the northern part of White Breast Township.
Just east of Lucas and west of Old Cleveland is a strip of land that is part of the N.W. ¼ of the S-E ¼ of Section 13.  It was owned by Smith Mallory and platted as the town of Midway.  This is in the vicinity of east of Lester Paige's and J.B. Dixson's farms, south of Donald Dixson's and includes homes occupied by John Pennington and Clifford Hall.  It was adjacent to the Gordon Addition of Old Cleveland.
A post office in the southern part of Benton Township from 1870-1881.
A coal mining town in section 28, Pleasant Township.  Post office, 1888-1905.  Reestablished 7/11/1916 and discontinued again 11/30/1928.
The name first given the newly established county seat of Lucas County, but soon changed to Chariton
In 1912-1913 the Rock Island Railroad decided to build a railroad to connect Allerton and Minneapolis.  About every six or seven miles a depot was established and a town sprung up with a post office and some trading centers.  From Chariton, Williamson was built and about six miles north of Williamson, Purdy was established.

On each side of the railroad in Purdy, stores were built.  Francis Carson built a store on the west side of the railroad.  Julius Peck owned a farm on the east side.  Along the north side of his farm he built a store, a feed grinding building and two residences.  He lived in one and his daughter and son-in-law in the other.  The son-in-law was the postmaster.  Later Moon brothers built a large store on the west side.  The post office was moved to the Moon store.  Lester Kenney became storekeeper of the Peck store.
The road ran east and west which was the Lucas and marion County line.  The west took one to Newburn and east took you to Highway 14.

In 1923 Ben Kenney, who lived across the roae north of the Kenney store, Jim Foster, a residence east of the store and Willis Mitchell who ran the lumber yard furnished capital for Alva Wood to take over the Kenney store.  the post office was later moved to the Wood Store.  Alva and Mrs. Wood stayed until 1947, when the town faded out.  The mail route was taken to Chariton, Knoxville and Chariton produce men sent trucks out and picked up farmers' cream and eggs.  the Moon store had changed owners and the new owners had moved away.  After Mr. Mitchell died, George Williamson Sr. bought the lumber yard and Alva managed it for him.
A post office in the northern part of Jackson Township from 1853-1875.  It was the western-most stage stop in Lucas County.  The Western Stage Coach Company established one of its trunk lines thru here3 and LaGrange was made a depot.  It was the largest stop between Eddyville and Ottumwa.  The people in Lucas and Norwood received their mail through the Tallyhoma Post Office prior to March 1868 when the Lucas Post Office was established.  The heyday of the Stage Coach was from 1853 to 1868 until the railroad laid its tracks and bridged the streams and gulches.
A post office from 1859-1863 in the central part of Washington Township.
A coal mining town in Lincoln Township a few miles northeast of Chariton.  It had a post office from 1916-1924.  The few houses that remained in1930 are now all gone.

A village on the C.B. and Q. Railroad in section 18, Whitebreast Township, about two miles east of Lucas, as appears on maps of the early 1900's.
A post office in 1872-1874 near the center of Warren Township.
A post office in 1864-1865 in section 30, Cedar Township.
A post office from 1869-1879 in the southwest part of section 14 Liberty Township, on White Breast Creek.  White Breast was a coal mining town in the 1880's and 1890's in the western part of section 14, White Breast Township, a short distance west of Indianola Junction on the C.B. and Q. Railroad.
Was located in the far northeast corner of Washington Township.  Around 1880 a small mining village named Zero, owned by the Zero Coal Company was formed.  Zero’s life was short lived because the mine was plagued with too much water in its shafts.  Some time before the turn of the 20th century, the Zero experiment failed.  The coal mine was closed.  There are a couple of versions why the town was named Zero.  Some said it was named Zero because it was half way between Melrose and Russell, but others say the name was probably taken from the Zero Coal Co.  In 1881 a vote for a  five per cent tax for railroad construction from Chariton to Russell on to Wabash and Appanoose counties, was taken and it was defeated.  At one time there was a Post Office in town and it even had a broom factory in 1881.  Zero Coal Company had the town platted in 1883.  In 1882 Cook Bros. started laying out the lots in Zero.  By the time they finished there were 61 lots, five streets and three alleys drawn into the town.  By 1887, 20 more lots were officially added.  This small mining town once had a population between 500 and 600 hard working people.  In October of 1883 the Odd Fellows of LaGrange moved their hall to Zero.

Some of the residents of Zero from 1882 - 1884

Mr. Allen                                       James Hollenrake
David Barton                                Jacob Gardner
Mart Barton                                  Aquilla Kern
Mr. Cavett                                     Jacob Lemley
Columbus Chambers                    Peter Lemley
Mr. Comstock                                S.G. Lewis
Wm. Conner                                   F. Long
Cook Bros.                                      Mr. Lutes
G.R. Dawson                                   S.G. Morgan
Jack Dawson                                   D.W. Powell
Pat Ford                                          R.H. Tabor
Henry Fuller                                   Frank Tinker
Peter Gardner                                Thomas Walker
Mr. Gurwell                                    Joel Whittlesey


Anonymous said...

Jacob Lemley was my great grandmother's (Dora Lemely Clodfelter) father. Peter was Jacob's son. Theo, another of Jacob's sons resided in Russell and was a local businessman for many years. Phil Marsh

Anonymous said...

I am looking for pictures of the Presbyterian Church in Lucas, IA. Also any information on the Burrell family (per census White Breast and Cleveland Townships) family names also include Caylor, Johnson, Matherly

Also any info on the Joseph Best family, Chariton, IA

Lynne said...

If you are still looking for a picture of the Presbyterian Church in Lucas, IA go to the following link:

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