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The Town of David
Mitchell County, Iowa
(Organized 1892)

By Vivian Emerson Du Shane

     The village of David was located on the Chicago Great Western Railroad line between Little Cedar and McIntire, IA. In 1892 David E. McLaughlin donated the right-of-way across his farm; he also gave land for a depot, stockyards, etc. As a compliment to McLaughlin the company (E.S. Fonda and Mrs. Simpson) named the station David. A Post Office was established that same year and David McLaughlin was named postmaster. (At right is a photo of the David Depot.)

     Charles Scheu, a pioneer merchant of Stacyville, placed Clinton H. Addington in charge of a branch store in David. This building was constructed in 1893 by Mr. Bailey and was the only building between the depot and the church, on the west side of the street. Later this building was used as the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Hall, and then it became the home of W.J. Graves. (On the left is another photo of the David Depot, with a steam engine. The actual photo is somewhat larger than depicted; the larger photo can be displayed if individually selected with your browser.)

     In 1895 David was s busy little town with a population of 75 or more. At that time there were many businesses: A wicker chair factory owned by W.H. Mack; the Farmers' State Bank, George Hammond, president, which was a branch of the Osage bank and was started in 1905; a Shoe Shop and Harness Repair, H. Haake, owner; Dr. H.E. Lynn, dentist, from Elma, Iowa; Creamery and Co-op Grain Dealers, David McLaughlin; Western Elevator Co., Frank Griffin, Owner; Mr. Robbins, blacksmith; Post Office; F.E. Taylor's butcher shop; L. Chatman, lumber dealer; H.A. Atkinson, poultry dealer; Farmer and Implement Dealer. Nickolas; General Store and Postmaster in 1899, Mr. Poorte; C. Hanson, livestock dealer; hotel run by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Meiers; Millinery and Dressmaking, Miss Jennie Bloomhagen.

Main street, Feb. 13, 1915. West side of street -- storage, store and G.A.R. Hall

     A private cemetery was located one mile north and one mile west of David. In the year 1898 a grade school was built one mile north and one mile east of town. The David Free Will Baptist Church was dedicated in August 21, 1898. Charley Makepeace, his crew of carpenters, and several other men of the church, built the church. During the dedication ceremony the first automobile was heard in the streets. Due to extreme curiosity, the ceremony was interrupted while everyone went outside to observe the new invention. Ironically, the curious congregation was witnessing the very cause of the decline of David. That day the minister commented "This will be the downfall of our city." Today the church is the only building left standing, however church services are held there regularly.

     There was a murder in David in 1898. The shooting took place at the hotel which was operated by Mary and Henry Meiers. DeForest Fairbanks, a resident of the hotel, was linked romantically with Mary Meiers and had been ordered from the establishment by Henry. On Saturday, December 3, 1898, at approximately 3 p.m., Fairbanks came to the hotel to talk with Mrs. Meiers about remaining in David with him instead of moving to Milwaukee with her family. When she turned him down, Fairbanks became angry, drew a gun and threatened to shoot Henry Meiers. Mrs. Meiers and her two children reportedly screamed and nine year old Eddie ran across the street to Dave McLaughlin's office to call for help. McLaughlin came across the street, reportedly followed by Robbins, Poorte, Smith, McNulty and several others. McLaughlin kicked down the door to enter the building. The first shot fired struck McLaughlin in the left side of the breast, but was deflected by clothing and articles in his shirt pocket. McLaughlin backed out of the hotel, saying, "Boy's. I've been shot, but I'm not dead."

     George Robbins, the village blacksmith, came into the hotel next to face Fairbanks. Fairbanks aimed at him, shooting him in the left leg, nine inches about the knee. Reports have Robbins turning from the door, staggering out into the alley, where he died. Foss Fairbanks was convicted April 3, 1899, following a two week jury trial. He was sentenced to life imprisonment at Fort Madison where he died at the age of 70. His body was cremated and the ashes scattered across the Mississippi River.

     Right after the murder, the town's people of David hung a rope over a rafter that extended between the grocery store and the ice house. They had planned to hang Fairbanks immediately; a lynching however was averted, but the rope hung there for many years, until only the tassel remained.

This story of was written by Vivian Du Shane, who was a resident of the David Community. Vivian is a distant cousin of David McLaughlin, who was her mother's second cousin. (June 2002)

Transcribed in June 2002 by: Neal Du Shane

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