Posted By: Debbie Truitt (email)
Date: 5/17/2016 at 11:54:51
In response to a search by Mary Lanigan for the grave of her great-grandfather George Bennett who died July 31, 1909, in Ottumwa, my husband, David, and I have done some research on Laddsdale. I found George’s obituary for Mary in the “Ottumwa Courier,” of August 2, 1909, and it does specifically state that, “interment was made in Laddsdale cemetery.” His death record also indicates that he was buried in Laddsdale on August 2, 1909.
The research that David and I have done includes information found in the tract indexes at our businesses, Truitt Abstract Company in Ottumwa and Davis County Abstract in Bloomfield, as well as visits to both the Wapello County Court House and Davis County Court House. I have outlined the information we have found in “Documents” both on this board and the Davis County board.
From the information we have found, I believe it is correct to say that Laddsdale, Iowa, was located in both Wapello County and Davis County, Iowa. This is not unusual; even today, our neighboring small town of Eddyville is located in three counties: Wapello, Mahaska, and Monroe. However, we have found no evidence that Laddsdale was ever officially platted or organized as a town in either county.
For those who might not be interested in reading all I have written, I will say here that there is no evidence in either county that a Laddsdale Cemetery ever existed. If anyone has information on a Laddsdale Cemetery in either Wapello County or Davis County, please let us know.
The Laddsdale Mines and school may be seen in Washington Township in the 1908 Atlas of Wapello County. It was located on the border of Wapello and Davis counties in the southeast corner of the southeast quarter of Section 31. It may also be seen on this map that the Laddsdale Station and Post Office was located in Davis County.
The legal description of this area would be SE¼-SE¼-31-71-12.
I could find very little written about any of Washington Township in the early histories of Wapello County. However, "History of Wapello County, Iowa" published by The S.J. Clark Publishing Company of Chicago in 1914, made this statement in Volume 1, Page 91, in a section about coal production: “Aside from the Laddsdale mine and the old mine at Alpine very little coal has been taken out in the southern and southeastern portions of the county.”
In looking through our tract indexes at Truitt Abstract Company, we found that beginning on April 20, 1871, there were a number of warranty deeds, loans, and mortgages on this land. The main parties involved in these early transactions were Elisah C. Litchfield, Benjamin P. Taber also spelled as Tabor, Hamilton Brown, George Godfrey, James D. Ladd, and the S.W. Coal and Mining Company.
On March 13, 1882, the S.W. Coal and Mining Company deeded this land to the Eldon Coal and Mining Company. In looking at a 1900 map of Wapello County, we found that by 1900, Eldon Mining and Coal Company owned most of the entire south half of Washington Township in Section 31. As shown on the 1908 map, the Anchor Coal Company owned a good share of Section 31 at that time.
"in retrospect an illustrated history of Wapello County, Iowa" by chris d. baker, 1992, includes a few paragraphs on Laddsdale on Pages 61 and 63, in a section entitled “coal mining towns.” This article includes a picture of people visiting the underground mule stables at Laddsdale, circa 1910. Due to copyright concerns, I will not quote extensively from this article; however, the information about the mining operation does agree with the other research we have done. It also includes the information that “Laddsdale had a company store as well as two schools and two hotels-one each in Wapello and Davis counties.” It also states: “Although an exact date is not given, the miners apparently formed a union around 1901 and immediately petitioned the company to build a public road through the town that extended through both counties. Prior to that, the company had resisted building an accessible road through Laddsdale.”
We found no evidence in our tract indexes or the early maps that a cemetery ever existed in this area. I went into the Wapello County Auditor’s office, and they did not have any record of a cemetery being in this area, and the tract index in their vault did not show any record of a cemetery either. There was no record of a Laddsdale Cemetery ever existing in the Auditor’s records at all, anywhere in Wapello County.
Shown below is a link to a map showing the location of Laddsdale in Salt Creek Township in Davis County, Iowa:
The legal description of this area would be NE¼-6-70-12.
In the 1900 Census for Davis County, Iowa, the George R. Bennett whose burial started this line of research, his wife Mary, and their children, Wilson R., Pearl M., Mary N., Walter H., and Robert were living in Salt Creek Township.
In looking through our tract indexes at Davis County Abstract, we found less evidence of transactions being recorded in the NE¼ as far as mining rights than we did in Wapello County in the SE¼. The few that were recorded seemed to come to an end on February 17, 1909, when the Anchor Coal Company deeded to Elizabeth R. Doud the North half of the NE fractional quarter and 28 acres off the North side of the South half of the Northeast quarter. This deed included “all coal and mineral mining rights and privileges under,” the land. Two days later, on February 19, 1909, Elizabeth A. Doud widow deeded this land to William R. and Annie L. Daum, who according to this map already owned most of the South half of this quarter in 1890.
In looking at large, clear maps of Salt Creek Township in 1891 and 1912 that we have in our office, we also saw that the Laddsdale Post Office was located in Davis County, close to the county line. There were several cemeteries marked, but there were none close to the Laddsdale area. David talked to several people at the Davis County Court House, and there is no record of there being a Laddsdale Cemetery in Davis County. Also, if there was a public road through Laddsdale that extended through both counties, it is no longer there today.
I found several editorials written to the junior page of “Ottumwa tri-weekly courier,” by children living in Laddsdale. In the June 10, 1916, issue of “The Courier Junior,” available for viewing online, there were two letters written by a brother and sister Charles Hart, age 12, and Selma Alice Hart, age 9, of Laddsdale, Iowa. A letter written by Ruth Hamersley, age 10, from Laddsdale, can also be read on this page:
In checking ancestry.com, I found that Charles was born June 15, 1904, in Salt Creek Township, Davis County, Iowa. Both of these children said in the letters that they had a sister Ruth, and I found she was born October 3, 1899, in Laddsdale, Wapello County, Iowa. The parents of these three children were William H. and Minnie (Liles) Hart.
In the “Ottumwa tri-weekly courier,” of May 7, 1910, there is a letter in the Junior Page, by Hazel Ross, age 12, Laddsdale, Iowa. She writes that she attends the, “Laddsdale Davis county school.” Even though there is no school in this area on the Davis County maps, this does agree with the statement in Chris Baker’s book that there were two schools in Laddsdale.
In doing a broad search in chroniclingamerica for articles on Laddsdale between 1900 and 1910, I found 391 citations of it. The “Ottumwa semi-weekly courier,” published news about surrounding communities, and Laddsdale submitted news about many activities and the people in that community. There were large attendances in the Laddsdale activities from people all over the area. As of this posting, I have read some of these articles, but not all of them. These newspapers are all in the public domain and may be read by pasting and copying the link below into your browser:
Sadly enough, in driving through the area that once was Laddsdale, there are no buildings or evidence that this once-busy mining community ever existed. As with many mining towns of that era, it seemed to appear, carried on business, and then quietly faded away.
Davis County Documents
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