History of Bell Town
Once a thriving village, Bell Town was established in 1886 on the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroads' branch line to Sioux City. It was first named Bell Town after Mr. Robert Bell, who farmed 265 acres in Section 34 of Paradise Township, Crawford County, Iowa, and platted forty acres of this land for the town. A railroad depot was built there in 1887.
Reaching its height of prosperity before the turn of the century, Bell Town was a thriving little village with a post office, blacksmith shop, general store, grain elevator and livestock buyer.
There is no record that the town was ever incorporated. It made county history when a postmaster in the early days absconded with the postal funds, which probably did not exceed a couple hundred dollars.
The postmasters who served the town of Bell Town were Cornelius A. Butterworth, who worked from August 17, 1887, to April 27, 1889; Alvin Z. Rudd, who worked from April 27, 1889, to January 11, 1894; and James N. Simmons, who held the position from January 11, 1894, to October 17, 1895. Mail service was discontinued at that time to Bell Town, and the mail was then sent to Arion.
Bell Town was located too close to other trading centers that had more advantages. Two miles to the south east was Arion with three railroads and easy access to Denison, and almost directly south was Dow City with two railroads and a well established business district. There is almost no trace of Bell Town today.
A newspaper article by Mearl Luvaas
The town of Bell revisitedIn 1886, the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway established two new towns along the new railway in the area north of Dow City. The towns were Kenwood and Bell.
The railroad's literature promoting the new town site of Bell made the following claims:
The town of Bell is pleasantly situated in the south-west portion of Crawford County, on the Sioux City and Dakota Division of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway. It is eight miles from Denison, the county seat, and commands the grain and stock trade from many miles of the well settled valley lying North and West. It is located on the south slope of a hill near Paradise Creek and overlooks the Boyer River, with its rich access of bottom land contiguous. An abundant supply of pure water is easily obtained at trifling cost.
Any one, who is in search of a new location in which to pitch a tent with a view to transacting a lively and prosperous business, and to reside in a thickly settled community where the society is good, and perhaps better than where he is now located, should go to Bell, which is sure to become a thrifty town in the near future.
The town plat showed six east and west streets and two north and south streets. The east and west streets were numbered, however, fourth street carried the name as Main Street. The street west of town along the railroad property was named Railway Street. The street as the east edge of town was named Bell Avenue. It is now the county road. There were 63 building lots platted for the new community.
It was first named Belltown, after Mr. Robert Bell, who farmed 265 acres on section 34 of Paradise township and platted 40 acres for the town. A railroad depot ws built there in 1887. At the turn of the century, Bell, the name had been shortened, was a thriving community with a post office, general store, blacksmith shop, grain elevator and a livestock buyer.
The log cabin in Washington Park in Denison, built by Sandlandes Bell, father of Robert Bell, was built near the town about 30 years before it was platted. The cabin was moved to Denison in 1926. It is the oldest structure in Crawford County.
125 Years of Dow City - Arion History 1869 - 1994.
Submitted by Cindi Simon