Mitchell, Gertrude (Angie)
MITCHELL, MAXWELL, WESTFALL
Posted By: Mary H. Cochrane, Volunteer
Date: 7/2/2019 at 16:29:54
Des Moines Tribune
Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, [illegible] 1947
She Holds A 'History' In Memory
WELDON, IA. - The living history book of this 250-population town on the north border of Decatur county is Mrs. Will Mitchell, 72, who saw the railroad come 66 years ago - and pull up its tracks behind it last winter.
Down in Leon, the county seat, it's generally known that if you want to know anything about Weldon, you see Mrs. Mitchell. She's lived here since she was 6 - and she didn't miss much while she was here.
"When the railroad was coming through this way, the town was started at a big Fourth of July celebration at the log cabin and grove of Mr. and Mrs. Will Kuntz. Lots were sold that day - and a building boom started right away," said Mrs. Mitchell, who raises canaries, makes quilts and crochets rag rugs as hobbies.
"My father, Dan K. Mitchell [?], who was a crippled civil war veteran, bought two lots where the postoffice now stands - which was a bank in the meantime - and built a hotel which he operated 16 years. We started business by feeding the railroad work crews," she said.
"Mr. Baker came from Centerville and built a store, with living rooms upstairs. Cyrus Chase put in a drugstore, having come from a farm near Garden Grove. Dr. Greenly put in another drugstore.
"Dick Murphy build a hardware store, and Mr. Howard had a livery barn. My husband's uncle, old Doc Mitchell, opened an office, and another doctor, Dr. Springon, did too. Frank Jamison built a general store and got the post office in it." she said.
It was a real building boom, with carpenters and plasterers moving in to help the new residents get started.
"My grandfather Maxwell, also a former soldier, opened a butcher shop and built an ice house. They cut the ice from a pond along the railroad a little way east of town," said Mrs. Mitchell.
Gradually the town got set, with a man named Bodkin building a hall which served as school rooms and Sunday school upstairs, and a meeting hall downstairs.
"One thing, though. The town was deep in mud. My grandfather got tired of it, and one day he started a drive for sidewalks. One merchant would give $5, another $10.
"They got men to help, and by noon the same day they had built a two-plank wooden sidewalk down both sides of the street, over to the depot, and some crosswalks," she said.
Mrs. Mitchell saw the houses rise around town, followed the campaign to build the Methodist church, then saw full support come again for the Christian church.
"Weldon, through the years had a lot of fires. Almost every one of those first buildings burned down at one time or another. The first bank, however, was moved out to the edge of town, used as a house, and now is deserted and filled with junk," she said.
"The first child born in town was Johnny Mitchell, my husband's brother. He lived only 17 months. The second child born was Claude Baker, who now lives in California," said Mrs. Mitchell.
Well, Weldon isn't much bigger - if as big - than it was when the railroad first came through. It has a couple of stores, a produce house, two churches, two garages, three filling stations, a Masonic hall, a lumberyard and a blacksmith shop.
The grain elevator is deserted since the railroad pulled out. The depot houses a cafe and is and is a bus station. The brickyard and the stockyards long since have faded away.
[portion missing] Weldon, interviews with Mrs. Mitchell should be in order. After all, she holds all the facts in her memory - but never has written any of it down.
"Oh, they've been after me to write it down - but somehow I just don't get around to it," she said.
Mrs. Mitchell, who celebrated her fifty-fifth wedding anniversary on Jan. 1, has four sons and four daughters, 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
NOTE: William Tecumseh Mitchell, was born in Knox County, Illinois, on February 9, 1865, the son of George Edwin and Rosetta E. (Westfall) Mitchell. He married in Decatur County, Iowa, Angie "Gertrude" Maxwell on January 1, 1891. Gertrude, the daughter of D. K. Maxwell, was born in Clarke County, Iowa, on March 8, 1874. Will and Gertrude were the parents of nine children, which included: George Glen (1893-1980), Beulah Beryl (Mitchell) West (1895-1974), Kathryn Elizabeth (1900-1900), and Muriel Ellen (Mitchell) Jenkins (1906-1997). Will died in Clarke County, Iowa, on May 31, 1955. Gertrude died in Clarke County, Iowa, on February 21, 1954. They were interred at Hebron Cemetery, Clarke County, Iowa, where their infant daughter "Kate" was buried.
Article courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum, Leon IA
Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2015
Decatur Biographies maintained by Constance McDaniel Hall.
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