Towns of Mitchell & West Mitchell
1854 & 1857

Mitchell Township, Mitchell County, Iowa


     Originally the town of Mitchell was divided into two villages, Mitchell and West Mitchell. Mitchell was located in the south one-half of the north one-half of section 9. It extended east from the present railroad tracks a distance of ten city blocks. There were four streets running east and west paralleling each other and one city block apart. The highway leading into Mitchell from the east was then Van Buren Street. It contained places of business, a hotel, a newspaper shop, real estate office, stores and residences. The Scofield grocery store was located at the end of the street.

Looking north, up West Mitchell Hill. The Baptist Church is at the top.
(Click photo for full 350K byte image)

Another picture looking north, up West Mitchell Hill.
(At 75% full size)

     The town of Mitchell was platted in 1854 by C.C. Prime and Amos Cummings. C.C. Prime named the town "Mitchell" in honor of a friend of his.

     West Mitchell lies to the west along the Cedar River and in the central part of section 8. Its borders joined the borders of Mitchell. It was platted in 1857 by John D. Chambers and John F. English. These men had located a saw mill on the banks of the river where an abundant supply of water furnished ample power. Because of this advantage, West Mitchell became the industrial center of the area. In 1855 Chambers and Sweatt opened a general store, bringing the merchandise by team from Rock Township, Wisconsin. A post office was established in 1859, with T. M. Atherton as the first postmaster.

The West Mitchell Mill.
(Click photo for full 160K byte image)

     The Paragon Woolen Mill was established in 1865. It made woolen goods of all kinds. In 1858 the West Mitchell Brewery was established by Frank Coap. In 1857 Chambers and English built the flour mill, using the same source of power as the saw mill and the woolen mill. In 1872 the Mitchell Iron Works was established and operated by Anton Schulte. It had a foundry and blacksmith shop where iron products, including farm machinery, were made.

     Other early business men in West Mitchell were Dan, Chris and Jacob Homer, George Ritter, Abraham Vanderpool and John Bartle. In 1880 the business interests of West Mitchell were represented by John Williams, hardware; Shank & Coats, dry-goods; and Blackman and Peterson,

A view of West Mitchell Grist and
Woolen Mills, 1909.
(Click photo for full 133K byte image)

drugs and general merchandise. At this time the business part of the village was located on what was known as "Mitchell Hill". It extended up a steep hill from the river bridge, then it joined Main Street and extended on into East Mitchell. On this hill street was located a hotel, the Commercial House, owned and operated by J. H. Wall; a blacksmith shop owned by Hess and Indra; a millinery store, boot and shoe shop owned by Mr. and Mrs. Weiss; a marble works, owned by J.H. Wall, a flour mill, woolen mill, brewery , and coopers factory.

     After completion of the Cedar Falls and Minnesota Railway, now known as the Illinois Central, which passed between East and West Mitchell, in 1869, the business centered near the depot. Here by 1880, there were located six stores, two large round grain elevators, shops, a boarding house, a bank and a livery stable. At this date the dry

The Cedar Falls and Minnesota Depot in Mitchell. It was built between the main line and the siding spur. The railroad divided the town of Mitchell, and left some ill will.
Fourteen years after the railroad came to town, Mitchell reached it's peak.

goods business was in the hands of Abbott and Son, E.P. Stacy and Son and G.W. Stillman.

     In 1857 a frame schoolhouse was built by J.L. Tibbets. Here school was held until 1869 when a six room frame house was built about three blocks west of the depot. This was called the "Bird Cage School House," owing to its peculiar structure. It was Gothic in style and pointed in three directions. Two small schools were built at each end of town for the smaller children. The Bird Cage School burned in 1882. Then the stone courthouse was refitted and used as a

Original Mitchell County Court House--1864
(Click photo for full 75Kb image)

schoolhouse. In the early 1850's a frame building, known as the Bell School, was built in West Mitchell, mid-way up the hill. It was taught by Judge Granger and E.L. Sawyer. The Dunlap Academy was also located in West Mitchell. It provided instruction comparable to high school work.

     In the 1880's the population of Mitchell and West Mitchell reached 700 people. In 1970 the population was shown as 233.

     The present places of business in Mitchell are:

W. N. Bronner - Creamery Equipment, Sales and Service Wendal Buringrud - Town Pump Tavern Ira Jenkins - Grocery Store Jerry and Joe Mostek - Salvage Clyde Ritter - Postmaster Clyde Ritter - Repair Shop Jerry Pajer - Plumbing and Heating Robert Wrage - Garage and Machine Shop

Additional Photographs of Mitchell

View of Mitchell, looking to the Northeast (120 Kb)

Reproduced with the approval of the Mitchell County Historical Society; from THE STORY OF MITCHELL COUNTY 1851-1973, and MITCHELL COUNTY MEMORIES 1946-1996.

LOCATION: Section 8 & 9 of Mitchell Township. Red Ball Road at 385th Street; approximately the center of the current town.

Please respect landowners property, ask before you enter.

Transcribed in July 2002 by: Neal Du Shane

Contact information: