Page 3The Letter To The Editor
My prose is not immortal
Cut it where you may
If you don’t think it deathless
Edit it away.
Transpose, delete and change
Change “therefore” and “thus”
Your notes of “trite” and
“ugh” and “bad” won’t
make me start, won’t
make me sad.
I’ll smile and not at
Notes you jot.
For I do write
And you do not.
- Linda Barnes
The First part of the twentieth century saw the beginnings and end of many little villages. In Iowa and throughout the west, many went through this cycle. This is the story of one of those villages – it was called “Ardon”.
Ardon nestled on the top of the Iowa Bluffs. There is a steep grade up from the Mississippi River at Muscatine to Ardon, the land then slopes westerly to the Cedar River.
Here the Milwaukee Railroad built a depot to regulate and control the trains that passed. The Milwaukee operates over the Rock Island line from Davenport to Muscatine. Ardon was the first spot they could control their trains gong west and the last time they could control their trains going west and the last time they could control them going east. Thus, it was an important station. This is it’s history and that of the nearby vicinity.
The Milwaukee had crossed at Savanna, then west to Marion, which is north of Cedar Rapids, then south to Ottumwa.
Many shippers and passengers thought this was slow and out of the way, so a new line was suggested, which would follow the Mississippi south to Muscatine and then southwesterly to Ottumwa. This was done and it became known as the Milwaukee “cut-off”.
Here is part of it’s history.
I want to extend my gratitude to the many who have aided me in gathering
First to the staff and all members of the Muscatine Public Library.
To Mr. Joseph Baker, Director of the Library, then to Mrs. Dorothy Bemis,
Assistant Director. For the many times she helped in cleaning and adjusting
the microreader and microprinter.
To Barbara Bublitz, Vera Edwards, and Sheila Chaudoin in obtaining the various
reels, helping me to adjust them on the machines to get the proper focus, many
times I had difficulty in obtaining the results I wanted.
To many others who always graciously let me in early so I could begin on my
Also I want to mention Mrs. George Howe, Mrs. Leo Summers, Mark Healey, Mrs.
Elizabeth Dorsey, Mrs. Hazel Pollock, Ray Downer, Mrs. Calvin Gage, Mervil
Tomney, Mrs. Harry Schnedler, Mrs. Alice Noll, Eddie Furlong, Helen O'Brien,
Jim Byrne, Agnes Digney, Bob Wigim, Paul Healey, and also Jim Scrlbbins,
Communications Resources of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific
The above helped me with photographs and also the recalling of events and
If I have not listed all it is because of lack of memory and was not done purposely.
The biggest share of the material was taken from the microfilms of the
Muscatine Journal; they were taken verbatim. I could not improve on the various
articles. The American Historical Association on December 29, 1908 said,
"He who ignores (newspapers) will miss a great and invaluable source. For it
I have gone through every page of the Journal from January 1, 1901 to
April 1, 1954, and tried to take out anything that referred to Ardon or the
In closing I wish to remember Miss Tina McArt for her typing and correcting misspelled words and in aiding me in attempting to edit this volume.
I wish to dedicate this volume to the unofficial Mayor of Ardon, who was loved
and liked by all who knew him. I doubt if he had an enemy in the world. Always
ready to help in any way he could, any and all who needed help. Friendly,
humorous, kind, wise and understanding of all he came in contact with, Mr. Leo A. Summers.
If we pick up the Bible, turn to the Old Testament and come to that part which is called "The Writings", there are 13 books in this section. In the first of the Chronicles (1 Chron. 2:18) we find "Ardon" (fugitive) a son of Caleb.
Could there have been a student of the bible among the men who worked on the Wigim Hill? When those men came up to the hill, graders, mule skinners, shovel men and engineers , did they feel like fugitives ? The "Wigim Hill" with
it's tremendous fills and huge cuts, on which they had worked so hard and long,
they may have been glad to flee from it and thus felt like "fugitives".
Again according to Joseph Noll, Phil Digney once told him some of the men
reported one day as they came up the hill, we "are done" and thus that became
the name of the first station out of Muscatine on the Milwaukee cutoff.
My Aunt Marie (Byrne) Howe and my Aunt Ann (Byrne) Summers recall hearing the same story. Mrs. Walter Dorsey (Elizabeth Healey) recalls her father and my
grandfather would have donated all the land to the railroad, if they called the
station "Healey", but for some reason unknown today, they didn't.
R. H. McCampbell, the County Surveyor, in April of 1902 laid out Ardon. Second
Street was laid out east and west. Healey was supposed to be a north and south
avenue, but the avenue got pushed to the west. I think because Downer and Schwin
bought 140' of property. They took 120' to build two houses on. The store was 24’ wide and the store was 42' east of the county center line of Healey. So
that 2' extra in the road and 4' extra in store pushed the center line at least
6’ west. I calculated 6.5' thus making the bearing of Healey N. 1° - 4' w.
Healey Avenue was opened up on September 26, 1903. The men who worked on it were
Joe Furlong, Joe O'Brien and Joe Byrne.
Ardon is no more. All that remains is the well at the Depot and 3' steel shank of
the signal semaphore and my grandmother's house. Once it was a quiet serene
little village. There were no motor fumes or noise, no airplanes coursing
through the skies. The only fumes were that of the coal or wood fire to heat or cook by and they were always associated with warmth and contentment.
How welcome were the trains that came through on the Milwaukee. The acrid smell of
coal, steam and oil, as the big road engines came pounding up the hill from “Culver”
and on to the west. Those coming from the west also had a grade up from the Cedar
River and you could hear them coming a long time before they came into view.
The biggest threat to the housekeepers was the dust raised by horses passing
the sudden gust of wind when a Willys Overland, Reo or Model "T" roared up
the road at twenty miles per hour. The only scents on the wind were those of
maturing, hay curing and the sweet smell of oat or wheat straw. The greatest sound
to reach your ears was the tinkle or creaking of harness. The occasional scraping sound
of steel shear or wheels on rail as it crossed the railroad tracks, or the Iowing
of the cattle in the pasture. Life seemed to move at a slow and relaxed pace. No
big ups or downs; the biggest days possibly would be when they were shipping
lot of stock of cattle and pigs. On those days, the various stockmen would
early driving the fat cattle down the road at a slow leisurely pace, as as not to
get them running and scattering around as they then would be hard to control
also lose weight. Hogs also would sometimes be driven on foot and they are also hard to control. Pigs and cattle often become very bullheaded and objected to
following the crowd. One maverick could cause a lot of trouble. Later pigs were hauled in wagons.
At times they would have many cars to load, possibly 10 to 15 stock cars. Stock
trains often were late arriving as they picked up cars further west. In Ardon
there were times when it would take two to three hours to get all stock in cars,
as it- was the last stop for the Milwaukee as it headed east to Chicago. They
generally were late, as they headed down the Iowa Bluffs for Muscatine, Davenport
and to Chicago.
If you had a carload of stock, you could ride free round trip if you wished to be with your stock, otherwise you would consign them to your favorite stockbuyer in Chicago. Some of the large shippers were the Miller Riggs, Elmer Eichelbarager, Adam Wigim, Andrew Healey, Byrne Boys (Larry, Frank, John), Johny Lee, Lou Downer, Verne Legler, John Verink, VanZandt's, Alterkruses, Lynches.
Beside the days when we had a big stock day, there was other entertainment such as extras coming through, occasionally a circus train; during the war, troop trains; in early spring, trainloads of threshing machinery. In fact, every "Freight" was loaded with many mysterious steel contraptions. To make us wonder what they were or how they could be used, many times these big "freights" were double-headers, two engines other times the "extras" would have two sections, this was the Milwaukee cutoff, Chicago to Kansas City, the division was from
Davenport to Ottumwa, Iowa.
For many years we had a passenger train going west in the morning and east in the evening. It was about 8 a.m. and near 8 p.m. everyday. This brought out passengers and the mail. Many times there was a group to welcome fee train. Always someone was glad to welcome someone home and sad to see some others leaving for a Job, school or vacation. Each morning and night was looked forward to the train arriving which with the "freights" could be heard coming long before they arrived.
In the evening and morning, various people came in to get their mail and buy groceries. Everyone had some news or gossip to give as well as receive. Of course, many a joke and wise crack was passed around. Events of the day, along with politics were the subject of much heated discussion. Long and loud they thrashed out these various subjects to their hearts content. Always parting in good spirits, being glad to meet old friends and relatives and of having the opportunity to spend a little time in a friendly conversation. This broke up the
monotony of the day and week. Thus most of them looked forward to coming to Ardon.
Following are the various chapters on and about our little village. The Store,
Blacksmith, Depot, South of the Tracks, Hotel, Post Office, Baseball Team, Wigim Hall, Interesting Dates, and the Final Disposition of the various buildings of our town.
Also you will find a long list of various articles I took verbatim from the
Muscatine Journal. I also took much from the Muscatine News Tribune, an article
on Depot Fire and a good deal on the baseball team.
From Bakers Midwest Free Press, paper story on store fire. There were various
columns such as "In the Country", "To Be Found Here", which were very interesting.
These papers detailed the news, If item not in one, in the other. Thus I was
able to get a good picture of past times and events which are now beyond the memory
of the living. The Ardon column was first written by Mrs. J. L. Downer, then by
Mrs. Robert Wigim and Mrs. Christy Nolan. There may have been others, but I do
not know them. I think they did a very good and delightful job.
I do hope most of this will bring pleasure to those who have a chance to read
about Ardon. Others should now try and save pictures and write a little story to keep up the continuity of history of "76" Township. If local people don't do it, it will not be done.
I spent many happy hours around Ardon at Grandmother Byrne's home, with my
Uncle Leo and at my Grandfather Andrew Healey's home with my Aunt Kate, Aunt
Marie and Uncle Mark.
I could not forget Ardon.
Page 9THE GENERAL STORE
All small towns or villages have a general store. They may have other titles
or business names and maybe the main or only business in the town.
The "Ardon Mercantile Company" was located on the northeast corner of Second
and Healey. It was north of the blacksmith shop that Andrew F. Healey built.
This building was built in the fall of 1903. Tony Byrne, my uncle, was hauling
sand for the store in August, 1903. The sand was probably hauled from the Cedar
River as that was a favorite spot at that time. All done of course by horses.
The best they could do would be two loads a day.
This building was two stories high with big glass windows on the front as was
the entrance. Second story had windows also in the front. This building faced
south. Those were the only windows in the store. This store was 24' x 80'
when built and later an addition of about 20' was added. The store was built
of wood, about 70' back on the east side (inside) were stairs that went to the
second floor. The second floor was used for storage only.
Mr. John Downer and Mr. Conrad Schwin were builders and original operators of the
In the rear of the store, under the stairs was most of the hardware. They
“carried" and sold bolts, nails, washers and various size screws, staples for
fencing, harness rivets and punches to mend harnesses. They also had axes,
saws and wedges for those who in the fall and winter, made fence posts and got
wood in for the stoves for heat and cooking. Of course, a wide variety of hammers
and mauls were on display.
Next they had wrenches and pliers of all kinds. These simple tools were in big
Demand at this time of history. They also had reels of barb-wire and woven
fencing, which was needed to fence the farm and to confine the stock. These
were, as a rule, stacked on the porch.
On the east side of the store was the groceries. They were stacked on shelves
and much had to be obtained and lowered with a special type tool. It was kind of
chilling to see the storekeeper or clerk obtain goods from the upper shelves.
Most groceries at that time were bought by the bulk. Not much prepackaged. All
ladled out by big wooden scoops. To name a few; sugar, white and brown; beans
navy and lima; dried fruits, raisins, prunes, apricots and apples.
Cheese of several kinds sat on the counter, encased in a cheese cutter. You would
tell the clerk the amount you would like and they would estimate the size, cut
it off and weigh it. Most all food was sold by weight. Many would come in and
get a piece of cheese and some crackers. This would be lunch or dinner - no fast
food places then.
Coffee beans came in the bulk and would be ground for you if so desired. They had
two ways to ground coffee, fine or coarse. The coffee grinder was a big two
steeled instrument and hand powered. Recently I saw one which was sold for $350. -
times sure change. Otherwise you took the beans home and ground them in your own
cinder when needed.
Chewing tobacco came in plugs or also in the bulk loosely shredded. The plug
type were cut off by tobacco cutters in 5 cents, 10 cents or any amount desired. Some of
the more popular brands were Horseshoe, Star, Climax, and Redman. Sometimes
a whole box was bought, two to five pounds.
Cigars were a luxury, but they always had on hand about a dozen different kinds.
They were left in their boxes and placed in a glass display case. You would
tell the clerk the make you wanted and they would present the box to you and you
took what you wanted. They would then replace the cigar box and when you paid,
give you your change.
Many times they bad glued cr fastened under the glass, a little to oneside
a nickel or dime. In giving you the change they would place it over the fastened
coin. Then the clerk would watch with glee and much amusement at the customer
attempt to pick up the coin. When they became aware it couldn't be done, much
good natured bantering would take place.
Pipe tobacco was also called for and Prince Albert and Velvet was popular. Corn cob pipes as was other types of pipes were stocked.
Those days if you wanted a cigarette, you rolled your own. "Bull Durham" was to be had in a little cotton sack. You had your choice of white and brown papers to roll the tobacco in. Tailor made cigarettes were frowned upon and you were told they were coffin nails for sure.
Now for the middle aisles, on which were stacked men's work clothes, rubber boots,
work shoes, red and blue handkerchiefs and of course gloves, pots, pans, dishes,
wash tubs, scrub boards, and copper boilers were in evidence. We must not forget
also Kerosene lamps, wicks and chimneys. These chimneys were made of glass and
were forever getting broken. For many or most that was the only illumination in
the evening or on dark days.
On the west wall the shelves carried cloth by the bolt, which women bought to
clothing for the family. Threads of all colors and various sizes. Thimbles,
scissors, needles and buttons were some of the goods stocked. Ribbons and some
different kinds of womens clothing also was to be had.
The cloth was sold by the yard, and measured between two tacks which were placed
in the wooden counter, one yard apart. Gingham and calico were the cloth of the day.
The store was heated by a big tall stove, which sat in the back of the store. In the winter it would radiate heat for about five feet around itself. The stove was flanked by two or three wooden chairs, which you could occupy while you meditated on what you would buy, how much you would spend and whether to pay cash or have it put on your bill.
The store was lighted on dark days and in the winter by Kerosene lamps and later
by gasoline under pressure in lanterns Coleman made. They gave a very bright
brilliant light, which was some thing for those days. Hunters and campers use the
same type today. No electricity those days.
Getting back to the east side of the store, in the front, we had first the part Office, cigar counter, which I have already described, and then the candy counter.
Now the candy counter was a spot that was hard to pass without stopping, especially
If you were young. It was stocked with licorice, corn candy, peppermint, jelly
loans, stripped sugar cane, gum drops of various colors, and that old stand by of chocolate drops. Wrigley's spearment gum and other makes were popular then too.
The young of that day was the same as today, tastes too rich for their pocketbooks.
Almost always storekeeper gave the children some candy and certainly if the bill
A point I want to bring up is the scales on which all bulk food was weighed. They were the type in which the article to be weighed was placed on one side and weights made of iron or brass of known weight was placed on the other when balanced weight of article could be determined. No fancy self balancing scales like today.
The money was kept in wooden drawers. Little round wooden pockets kept the various
Types of silver coins separated. Everybody got a bill made out to him and totaled up
all by hand. Now the farmer's wife would hitch up her horse to a buggy and with
her little ones come to the store. Many times she brought her eggs, lard, cream and
fresh churned butter to be bought by the grocer. This would be credited to her account.
Many boasted that this kept them in groceries.
The wooden frame store burnt down January 31, 1931 and was totally destroyed. The
house just to the east of the store was occupied by Nat McNull. My father was the owner.
Mrs. McNull was in the store and told my Aunt Marie (Byrne) Howe who was then
clerking there, she was going home and burn some papers in the stove. She sure
did as she burnt the store and house she was living in. My brother, Paul, rode a
pony back to the timber where my father and Nat McNull were getting out wood for
posts and wood for the stoves to notify them. As no kind of fire protection was to
be had, it was then impossible to save the buildings. Leo Summers was the store
operator at that time. This happened at 1:00 p.m.
I will now try to identify the owners and when they were there.
Conrad Schwin and John Downer were the builders and operators originally. The
store was built in fall, 1903. Sometime later in August, 1908 Schwin sold out to John Downer.
Fall of 1908 Downer sold to Frank Orr. The Downers left Ardon January, 1909.
Frank Orr was a bachelor and had room and board at the Ardon Hotel, which was run my
grandmother, Mrs. Anna Byrne. I believe the building was owned by some syndicate in Muscatine and rented and operated by Mr. Orr. Mr. Orr was in sympathy with the German Kaiser during World War I. Feeling was pretty high at that time with many boys going in to service and it was hinted he should move on, which he did. So I think he was there from the fall of 1908 to spring of 1917.
The next store operator was Aubrey Pitchforth and rented from same group. He was there from spring of 1917 to about spring of 1919.
The store and post office was robbed March 6, 1918. Some cash change and merchandise taken and much property was maliciously destroyed.
Leo A. Summers was the next operator of the store. I think he bought the store
in the spring of 1919. Just the business, he did not own the store. He was in the old building until January 31, 1931 when it burnt down. They saved as much merchandise as possible and he opened with what was left in my grandmothers house . The Ardon Hotel at that time had no boarders. Tney used the southeast rooms as a grocery store and post office.
He operated out of there until he sold the house to Wally Mann in June of 1947,
and Mann's operated the store and post office until it closed on April 1, 1954.
I doubt very much If the store was very profitable after that.
Wally Mann sold the house to Lloyd Gardner in 1965. Mr. Gardner stayed until 1967
Mr. Tom Barnard bought the house in 1967 and his family still resides there. That is in 1977.
I think the store must have ceased operations after the close of the post office.
Before closing this story about the store, I want to mention something more
it's early history. Downer & Schwin bought railcar loads of lumber to sell to
neighborhood for the erection of barns and homes. They also bought carloads salt. This salt was in solid blocks and weighed about 50 pounds for the cattle of the area. This was necessary for the fattening of beef cattle, which was also used for horses.
Later on carloads of tankage was bought for the fattening of pigs for the market.
Many carloads of cement, flour, and tile was also sold. Last but not least, 50 ton
carloads of coal to heat the homes In this area was sold. From the beginning they
sold kerosene for illuminating purposes. The oil also was used in kerosene oil
stoves which were cooler to use in the summer and quicker to get a meal prepared.
In the winter, it was back to a big wood and coal range. Gasoline was later sold
from a pump northwest of the store.
When you opened the door of the old store and entered it was always cool in the
summer. In the winter when the wind was blowing you were glad to get out of the
cold and head for the stove in the back.
The smells that assailed your nose when you entered the store was something.
Rubberboots, clothing, spices, coffee, cheese and kerosene. Some you could not
define or Identify.
Well the old Ardon store is gone. The modern supermarkets of Muscatine have taken
her place. But for the meeting of friends and neighbors, for gossip and romance,
the village store could not be equaled. I neglected to Include some of the various women who worked in the store. They were Julia (Byrne) Noll, Marie (Byrne) Howe, and Margarete (Nolan) Gage. Now I know others worked there, but cannot recall their names. Most all storekeepers wives at sometime also aided to keep the place clean and stock on the shelves.
Page 13THE OLD COUNTRY STORE
Recall the old country store,
With the rough, pine-board floor?
Penny candies in colorful jars,
Crackerjack and licorice bars.
Pickles and crackers in barrels,
Both were sampled without charge.
On a high shelf a few toys,
Delightful to the girls and boys.
Gingham and calico by the yard,
For which farmers' wives worked
Beans, potatoes and sugar, brown,
Sitting in sacks all around.
Shoes for men and women, too,
Even for children, displayed a few.
Harness, rope, and binder twine,
A can of hooks and fishing line.
Pots and pans, small in number,
Outside the door, a little lumber.
From rafters hung bacon and ham,
One counter displayed honey and
Oil lamps and lanterns, too,
Thread, needles and ribbon, blue,
Oh, what joys in the country store,
Which was once our vital core.
Fredrica B. Williamson,
Permission granted from publisher
of "Good Old Days Revisited".
Page 14THE MEETING PLACE
On a cold and stormy evening
In the days of long ago,
When a hard day's work was over,
Then we all were sure to go
Where men throughout the hamlet
All met to tell tall tales,
As they sat around the fireside
And forgot the outside gales.
Gay laughter rang throughout the
As the stories did unfold,
And happenings of the bygone days
Were once again retold.
Those happy, carefree evenings
We all did so enjoy,
Became a favorite pastime
When I was but a boy.
Empty kegs and wood boxes
Often took the place of chairs,
And I have even seen the times
When some sat upon the stairs,
The checkers and the other games
Played by both young and old,
Helped pass away the evenings
While the weather stayed so cold.
Cheese and sardines with crackers
From out the cracker bin
Were eaten by the merry crowd
As hunger did set in.
And then there were more stories,
And perhaps a pleasing song
Would be sung by the gay warbler
To enthrall the happy throng.
Now the place no longer functions
As the general store of old,
And on the winter evenings
No stories now are told.
The building now remodeled,
Two families living there,
The merry throng of yesteryear
Will meet there nevermore.
James L. Smith
Erin, New York
Permission granted from publisher
of "Good Old Days Revisited".
Page 15THE ARDON HOTEL
The Hotel was built and run by my grandmother, Mrs. Anna Byrne.
My grandfather had died and left her on a small farm.
When the railroad was being surveyed, the surveyors ate their meals
at her home. When the town took shape, she sold the farm to
grandfather, Andrew Healey, later he sold it to Christy Nolan.
My grandmother took the money and built a big house in Ardon, which
was to be used as a hotel. Here she fed people passing through and
those who roomed during the year there.
Frank Orr, the store operator, roomed and dined there. George Foster
who worked for various farmers in the neighborhood, roomed there.
He was well liked. He died during World War I of influenza. At that
Time he was in the army. William Byrne, my second cousin, roomed
there. He farmed and made the hotel his home.
This house was built by Alex Kollman. It was first occupied in
December 18, 1905. My Aunt Marie remembers moving in and all the
work of washing and cleaning the house.
Downstairs there was a kitchen, a big dining room, a parlor and
another room used as a living room. There also was a large hall
and front stairs and a back stairs. There was a pantry between the
kitchen and dining room. They also had a small room with sink where
dishes were washed.
Upstairs I believe there were five or six bedrooms. There was a big
front porch and also one in the rear. She had a small barn in the rear, a chicken house, and the very necessary and useful outdoor toilet.
Many people who had one time lived in the area came to stay for a
few weeks in the summer. These folks had moved to Chicago or other
cities where the opportunity for work was better. Mrs Humphries and her four daughters were one group who for many years came each summer.
My grandmother used to feed the threshers of the vicinity. Thus
relieving the farm wives of that chore. It was always a place where something was going on.
My grandmother had a great memory and knew the birthdates, marriages,
deaths and general history of the area. She had in her life always, when called, went to the aid of anyone around. She was a great baseball fan, and the Chicago Cubs were her joy. She read the papers daily and was very aware and knowledgeable of the conditions and affairs of the whole country. She was a dedicated Democrat and always voted. Her political views were very strong and loyal.
On March 6, 1873, my grandmother who was then 18 years old left County Wicklow in Ireland for America. She was accompanied by her brother, Matthew. She eventually arrived in Chicago and worked there until she married. Uncle Matt settled in Colorado.
Page 16DOWN AT THE "DEEPO"
Depot is a French word for store house or room. Station is an English word for
spot or location. In this country we used railroad depot and railroad station
The Depot was the place to catch a train or meet people arriving from some
other place. A place to pick up freight or ship out some commodity. It also
was in Ardon, one of the three places you probably would visit. You went to the
Blacksmith Shop, the Store, or the "Deepo". These were the socialable places to
get all the gossip and news of the local area.
Most everyone gathered at the Depot if they were in the village. Here they waited
on the train to welcome friends and relatives coming back. Maybe they were seeing
some one "off", either to school, a new job, or back to their hometown. It was
always joyfull or sad, and maybe both. Many aching hearts were on that platform
during it's lifespan.
It was the most easternly building in our village. The Depot was built of wood.
It's size was 60.5' x 24.25'. The station had 4' eaves all around to protect you
from rain, sun and snow. At the eastern end was the waiting room, 18' x 24.25'.
On the western end of the Depot was the freight house and it was the same size. The rooms could be used as quarters for the agent if he so desired. The remaining room
was the office. The office was used to sell tickets for those who wished to go
somewhere. It was here you ordered cars to ship cattle, pick up freight, or paid
for other services.
The station was in constant touch with all stations on the line, in fact, by
telegraph with the happenings throughout the country and world. The telegrapher
was known as a brass or key pounder. Uncle Leo was one of the best, if not the
best, on the "Cut-Off". The simplest Instrument used was called a key. Later
Uncle Leo used a more complex instrument. Thus by this instrument people could
learn quickly the news of the world. They also could obtain news good or bad,
concerning their relatives, which would relieve them of all doubts about them.
The Milwaukee had reached Prairie du Chien in 1857 and first entered Iowa at McGregor.
The cars were brought over on barges and later on a pontoon bridge. The Kansas
City cutoff was the last major extension of the Milwaukee Railroad.
The Depot was heated by a large cast iron stove which when fired up with coal,
would sometimes become a bright red. If you were facing it, your face would burn,
and If your back was to it, it would scorch your clothes.
In the waiting room, all around the sides would be wooden benches with cast iron
arm rests. They would be used by people waiting for the trains. On the outside
platform covered with hard pack sand stood four wheeled trucks, ready to receive
freight or trunks from the cars or goods to be delivered to them. The station was
illuminated by kerosene lamps. Later at his desk the agent used a Coleman lamp.
The desk or table occupied by the station master was made of 2' plank. It had a
big half circle cut out so he could sit partly in it. In this position he also
could see to the east and the west and observe the tracks. Overhead were two heavy
levers to operate the semaphore.
The semaphore was a 6" - 8" steel pole on which at the top was located three lamps
and two moveable arms. The lights were of red, yellow and green color. This I
believe was called the board. This pole was about 25' in height. By setting the
arms in various positions, he gave visual signals to the engineers and conductors
on trains passing through.
These orders also were supplemental by written orders, which were delivered by
wire hoops. The orders were placed in the hoop, the station master stood close to
the tracks and as the engine approached, he held it high. The engineer, fireman,
or the head "shack" would stick his hand in the hoop, take the orders and drop
the hoop. "Shack" was slang for the front switchman who rode the engine.
Orders were also delivered to conductors or "crum" boss in the caboose. The caboose
Was sometimes known as the "crummy". Other times the rear switchman in the caboose
took the orders.
It sure was a thrill to stand up to that big engine as it came pounding down the track,
working steam. The engine was sometimes called a teapot, tea kettle, or a big hog.
It was called a hog because of the amount of coal and water it used. Of course the
engineer was called a "hogger".
Many times the freights were side tracked or put into the "hole" to let other
trains by who had preference over them. Sometimes they were sidetracked to let
toe "varnish" by. The "varnish" was the crack passenger trains.
Where the Milwaukee left the Rock Island tracks in Muscatine and started out across
the island, a tower was located occupied by a towerman. This place was called “Culver”.
The freight yards in Davenport were known as "Nahant".
If trains were following close behind each other, red flares would be dropped by
toe rear switchman, to warn the following one. Also they put out what was called
torpedos. They were fastened on the track, generally in a group of three, which
when the engine ran over them, they would make a loud noise.
In the Depot all the visitors and users of the railroad were greeted and welcomed
warmly by my Uncle Leo Summers. Known and liked by all in the neighborhood. I don't
think he had an enemy. Aunt Marie (Byrne) Howe states Uncle Leo came to Ardon on
July 28,1906. He became a night operator on August 7, 1906. His salary was $45 per
month. He stayed at my Grandmothers hotel and paid $15 for room and board. He spent
the rest of his life at that Depot. He retired July 1, 1949, after 43 years at Ardon.
They sold their home in 1947 and lived in the Depot from 1947 to 1950 then moved to
Iowa City, Iowa.
The first station burnt down on September 19, 1917. Evidently they had two fires in
The Depot the same night. The first fire was discovered by a tramp and they thought
They had put it out. After retiring the fire broke out and destroyed the station
totally. As this was during the first World War. They brought in two freight cars, which had the trucks removed and placed them on the southside of the tracks to be used
only for freight storage and the other as a Depot. They were located due south of old Depot. The new Depot was rebuilt in the summer of 1918 on the old foundations and the
same style. The above information was confirmed by the Milwaukee Railroad. I
distinctly remember the old freight cars and also the rebuilding the new depot. This
new Depot was sold in August, 1956 to the township to be used as a townhall and moved
one Leo Furlong Farm.
As early as April 27, 1908 there were rumors of a barber shop to be located in the Depot
And for the next 40 years the neighborhood was "trimmed" there. Believe me there was
also told some tall tales and I have heard many a poker game played. Nobody ever admitted to losing - they always won.
During the early times of the Depot's life, they had on duty operators 24 hours
a day. The first night operator was on March, 1904. Probably S. A. Allen.
Mr. G. E. Marden was the first Depot Agent. Some of the other Depot Agents
were S. A. Allen and he rented rooms from my Uncle John Healey In April, 1904.
S. E. Cole accepted the Depot Agent's position in June, 1904. He rented Adam
Wlgim's house and was the first tennant. This house is now at 1220 Park,
Others were Martha Brown, a woman who was widely known for her language. Seems
like few could give her any competition or dared to. Duggie Summers, Leo's
brother, was here until he accepted agent's position at Cone. He spent his
There were others which names may be gleaned from the items of the Journal
which are part of this book. With this I will conclude the "Deepo" Saga.
1. "Language of the Railroader" - R. E. Adams
2. "Palimpset" - Iowa State History Soc. May 1964
3. "Workin' On The Railroad" - R. Rein Hardt
4. "Railroad Folklore" - B. A. Butkin, A. F. Harlow
Page 19THE BLACKSMITH SHOP
Blacksmith Shop was a necessity in a rural community. It was as
necessary as a machine, shop or welding shop is today. He was the
horseshoer when horses were used for work in the fields, hauling and
for travel to protect their hoofs, they had to be shod. He was as necessary as a garage is to a car.
Next he was the mender, repairer, sharpener and the maker of various
tools and equipment used at that time. He was able to repair equipment
quicker than the piece could be ordered. Many times the article would
be almost impossible to replace.
Today with faster delivery and with companies stocking parts, it is
much easier to replace a part with better steel parts, they wear and
hold their edge longer. But during the Blacksmith era they were a
vital and essential need to the country community.
Blacksmith shops had an odor of their own. Coal smoke, wood, oil
and of course horses. All these odors would greet you as you entered
that dark and usually warm shop.
Also his art produced a symphony of music as his hammer and anvil became
instruments to produce a melody. That rhythm and tempo always gave
the impression as one of the most industrious places about.
All blacksmiths wore a leather apron. This was to protect them from
the red sparks and hot metal that shot out of the article being worked
at. It seemed like all shops were dark inside. Windows were too dirty
and greasy and that time we had no electricity.
The main attraction in the shop was the forge. It was made of brick
about 42 inches high and 48 inches square. The forge was covered by
steel or tin dome which led the smoke and fumes up the chimney. Attached to the forge was a bellows which at that time was pumped to produce forced air. This would bring the coal to a red heat which would make the iron malleable. A good smith had to know when the fire
was hot enough and how much heat to apply to various irons and steels
he was working with.
Close at hand about 6 feet away stood the steel anvil. This was placed upon a large oak block which was firmly set in the ground or floor. Also near the forge was wooden half sections of barrels. Generally two, one of water and one of oil. They were used to temper and cool
shoes or tools being worked upon. All around the anvil was strung various tongs, hammers and chisels needed in his work.
Every spring and fall the horses would be brought in to be shod. You would drive up to the shop, tie up at hitching post, then as soon as the smith was able to get to them they would be brought in. He would grab the horse by the fetlock and place its leg between his knees.
Then he would remove the old shoe, if one was on, next he would trim the
hoofs with long handled pincer. The frog of the horse was trimmed, cleaned, and the hoof smooted with a big rasp.
Next he would select shoe for size and if necessary he would place
in the forge and heat and shape it to fit. Then the shoe was nailed
to the hoof and the projecting nails bent to lock shoe on hoof. Sometimes
horses were so frightened they had to put in big slings to be
Plow shears spring and fall were brought in to be rebuilt and sharpened
cultivator shovels also had to be kept sharp. During haying time,
mower sickle bars had to be kept in condition and parts replaced.
Same thing for binders when cutting wheat oats or rye.
The Blacksmith also doubled as a wheel wright. All wagons that had
wheels had a steel rim. During the hot dry summers, the wood would
shrink from the steel, thus rims would come off. Taken to the smith,
he would take and heat the trim in forge and make smaller. Next he
would heat a big section of steel rim. It would expand become bigger.
Then it was placed in water. When the water cooled the rim it would
shrink and would fit the wheel snuggly.
All smiths built and repaired hay racks. Replacing all worn steel
parts. The same was true of grain box wagons. These had to be tight
so grain would not seep through.
During the busy farming seasons, the smith spent many a long day at
the forge and anvil. In Ardon during it's better years, they had
I believe the Wigim shop was built in the summer of 1906. This
building was about 30' x 30'. It was first an Ice House. The Ice
House was used to preserve the meat in the butchershop, which was
next to it on the west. It had a very good floor in it and Robert Wigim
says they often danced in it. This building burnt down about 2 a.m.
on July 21, 1917. This shop was on south side of Second and a little
east of Leo Summer's house.
The Blacksmith Shop built by my grandfather, Andrew F. Healey, was
probably built first. It was on the southeast corner of Healey and
The Journal says in the Ardon column, Levi Pontius was the first
Blacksmith. This shop was about 40' x 26' and was painted red. Uncle
Mark Healey said Fred Ferguson was also one of the first Blacksmiths
and stayed longer than most. This shop was torn down by my brother,
Paul, in 1936.
There were during the Blacksmith era a number of Blacksmiths. To name
a few, Levi Pontius, Fred Ferguson, Ellsworth, Bill Gage, and I belies
the last one was John Mills.
Gone from the scene are those early day symbols of industry which was
so necessary to the rural residents. Each day there are fewer who can
recall by intimate experience their existance. Time is ever changing
the face of the earth to meet new demands. Each step in progress
eliminates and destroys all but memory of those past events. Thus departs the old time Blacksmith from the worldly scene.
Page 21WIGIM HALL
Mrs. Sam Wigim built a two story building in Ardon. The second
story was entered by going up outside stairs on the west side of
the building. The size of this wooden frame building was 50' x 30'.
The upper story was used as a township hall for dancing and other
Below the shop was first used as a butcher shop. Next door to
the east was a building 30' x 30' which was used for an ice
house. Later as the butcher shop did not pay. The ice house
»as turned into a blacksmith shop. The butcher shop was then used
as a harness shop. I can remember of visiting it. There was that
sweet smell of oil and leather. Harness to keep in shape had to
be kept soft and pliable. This was done by taking it to the harness
maker who would let the harness soak in a big tub of oil. Next he
would take up the harness and let excess oil drip into the oil vat.
He would also mend or replace all straps that needed to be repaired.
Hugh Wigim was the butcher and later ran the harness shop.
The first township meeting which was held in the hall was April 8,
1908. The "Never Grow Old Club" held monthly dances which were
very popular and well attended.
This Hall was built in May, 1906. There was a number of speakers
at the Hall. One such speaker was Jim Ryan, who was to have talked
on "Irish Wit and Yankee Ingenuity". Alas, no one came - this was
told to me by my Aunt Marie Byrne Howe.
The blacksmith shop and the Hall burnt down at 2 a.m. on July 21,
1917. As at that time all were asleep, they were awakened by a train
going through and the loud and long whistle blasts aroused the
village. But it was too late, as the fire was beyond control. It
was thought a fire in the blacksmith shop, which was next door on
the east, was the cause of the fire. Bill Gage was the blacksmith
at that time.
I remember the fire. I wanted to sleep at my grandmothers, but
they had no room. I recall my Aunt Ann taking me by the arm and
taking me to her house. They put me in a room which had windows
on. the east. During the night the train whistle along with a lot
of noise woke me up. The window had a red cast to it. After sitting
on the edge of the bed awhile, I thought I should go and see what
all the commotion was about. I gathered up my clothes under my arms
i went down the stairs. The stairs came down in the dining room.
As I came down I stopped surprised and puzzled as I saw my Aunt Ann
gathering up all the silverware and preparing to take it out. I said
to her, "Aunt Ann, what's wrong?" She told me, "Put on your clothes
and go outside. The hall is burning down." She said she had forgot
all about me.
I put on my clothes and went and sat on the porch watching the fire.
They had formed a line and tried to put it out, pumping water by
hand and carrying it over to toss on it. It was useless as at that
time the whole building was ablaze. In a short time it was a total
The Wigims were not notified until the morning. Ardon was on a
dividing line, in which some people had telephones to Muscatine
which was to the northeast. Others had phones to the southwest
to Letts, and it was not so easy to communicate.
I think that this was the first serious fire in Ardon.
Page 23SOUTH OF THE RAILROAD
There were four manmade structures south of the Milwaukee Railroad. They were
The coalshed, the lumber shed mill and the stockyards. The coalshed was on the
right side of the railroad and west of the road that follows the railroad to
St. Malachy’s Church.
There were three tracks through Ardon, the main line, side track for passing, and a
storage track, it was used for unloading or loading track. You were given 72
hours to unload or load a car.
They would "spot" a car where wanted. Most coal cars would hold 50 tons or more.
You would be notified when coal would be in and by unloading from coal car could
more money. The rest was shoveled into the coal shed. You could obtain coal from
the shed anytime that it was convenient for you. You would first weigh your wagon
at the stockyards and when you load the coal, you would weigh the wagon again. In
this manner, the weight of the coal was determined.
The shed was about 60* x 121 and made of wood. Believe me, when you unloaded a
50 ton coal car you knew what work was. You would start at top and throw all the
Big lumps off until you could get to the bottom and use a big scoop. The men doing
did not need sleeping pills, maybe liniment but not pills. It of course was a very
dirty job, but also a very necessary one.
This coal was used for heating houses, water heaters in tanks for the horses, cattle
and pigs. Not to be forgotten, the coal was used in the big steam engines for
threshing and silo filling.
The lumber shed was located about due south of the store on railroad property. It
was ready about February 26, 1906. Just an open shed, roofed only to protect the
from rain. Various sizes and lengths of lumber were to be had. It was in
size about 60' x 15' and was owned by Downer and Schwin.
Mr. A. P. Fuller of Lone Tree, Iowa built a mill to grind feed for hogs and cattle.
This mill was located on railroad property due south of Leo Summers home, south side
the tracks. This mill was ready for business about September 19, 1906.
It was powered by a 12 H.P. Fairbanks engine. This engine was bought from
Adam Wigim, later sold to Ira Lee in 1908. This engine evidently was too small to
operate the mill, thus forcing the closing of the mill. Mr. Robert Wigim related
the above information to me in May of 1974.
The stockyards also were south of the tracks. They were 200' east of the Depot.
They were built of heavy wooden post placed in ground and 2" x 8"s cross-wise.
They had a scale located there in which all could weight stock, coming or going
out to keep track of same. The stock yards and the windmill which supplied water
stock, was completed November, 1903.
This yard shipped out and was one of the biggest on the cutoff. The stockyards were
enlarged July, 1904. In October, 1904, the first year they had shipped out 186 carloads
of hogs and cattle.
The stockyards was the real cash register for the railroad. Sunday morning was the
day the stock was brought into Ardon. Cattle driven and hogs hauled in wagons. This
was done so as to be on Monday stock market in Chicago. Mr. Ray Downer recalls
vividly those busy Sundays. The residents and families all getting ready for Sunday
church and the stockmen working to get stock ready for the market.
The stockmen used to buy up western range cattle. They would weigh 800 to
1000 pounds and then put them in the feed lots and pour that good Iowa corn
in them. When they had put on 400 to 800 pounds, they were sent to market.
This is the kind of beef that makes corn beef and steaks that has kept the east
smacking their lips and burping for many years.
This area had many big stockmen. Mr. Edward Furlong recalls that Ira Lee
received 525 head of cattle at one time. They came from the Al J. Mitchell
Ranch in Texas. They arrived in 22 cattle cars. The freight bill was $4,000.
This took place December 4, 1922. Eddie recalls that November 6, 1926 they
shipped out 14 carloads in one day. Many days when shipping stock (cattle
and pigs) it would take three to five hours to load. For hours pigs would be
squealing and cattle bawling. You could get about 20 head of cattle to a car.
The last cattle shipped was by the Furlong brothers in 1948.
Some of the big shippers were Ira Lee, Johnie Lee, Joe Hicky, Lou Downer,
Wendall Hoopes, Verne Legler, Elmer Eichelbarger, The Lynches, Reeds, Byrne
Boys, Wigims, Eichelbarger Brothers, Healey's and last but not least Millar
Riggs and son Lee. Many or most of these dedicated farmers and stockmen are
gone. I doubt if they will be replaced. They worked long and hard through
many a year. Most of them, after a lifetime was lucky to break even. If any
got rich off cattle, it sure wasn't the average stockman or farmer.
One thing I have not mentioned is that the stockyards at one time burnt down.
Date to me is unknown. Cause was probably a spark from a steam locomotive.
Page 25THE POST OFFICE The Post Office is a point or spot to which we all approach in
anticipation for letters from loved ones or packages and catalogs
we hoped to receive.
Here also we can mail out letters to whom we wished.
The Post Office in Ardon was always located in the store. It was a big
desk above which were a number of cubby-holes or cells with
glass enclosed in which the mail was placed for the families who
received their mail there.
When the mail came in on #3 about 8:20 a.m. from the east, it had
been placed in a heavy canvas bag. The train (#8) came at night
from the west about 7 p.m. and carried it to the east. So we had
two deliveries a day. The heaviest mail in the morning.
The Ardon Post Office opened in the fall of 1903 and Conrad Schwin
Was the first Post Master. The last Post Mistress was Delores
Mann. The Post Office closed April 1, 1954.
Some of the people who received mail here were Christy Nolan,
Frank and Larry Byrne and Phil Digney. Also the Andrew and Michael
Healey families. Of course all that resided in Ardon got their
It was a spot to which we all gathered to receive our mail. There
we got those big Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck catalogs. They
sure were eye openers in many ways. They helped to pass the time
away in those little houses out back. In due time they passed away
like all paper does after a busy life of entertainment.
Page 26Questions asked of my uncle Mark Healey and his reply.
| Q: Who laid out Ardon? |
| A: No, I don't know who laid out Ardon. |
| Q: How did it get its name? |
| A: The name was designated and determined by the Railroad Co. |
| Q: Which was the first house built? |
| A: First building, I would have to say were the railroad station and/or a dwelling for the railroad agent. |
| Q: Do you recall Mill S.S. of R.R.? |
| A: There may have been a mill at some time, I don't recall it. |
| Q: What were the names of the people who lived in Ardon along Healey Avenue? |
| A: When Hugh Wigam was there, he lived in the "Coon" Schwinn or John Downer place — one of those; at same time he may have lived along Healey Avenue. Some others who lived at same time along Healey Avenue were: Mr. Ballard, one of the several ministers of that time, Johny Russell, Ritchie Philips, Dow Biskenbile, Tom Fitzgerald. |
| Q: Are the houses in the right order? |
| A: It seems so. Maybe H. Wigam was there sometime. |
| Q: Anything about the history of the town people, etc.? |
| A: Too large a project. |
| Q: Are there any pictures? |
| A: No pictures. |
| Q: Were there any building on the west side of Healey Avenue? |
| A: No. |
Page 27Letter from my Uncle Mark Healey upon answering my questions
Simeon Cole was the first railroad agent at Ardon.
Fred Fergeson was the first blacksmith and was there the longest of several blacksmiths.
I remember the fire at Wigam's building but can't date it. The building had a hall, harness shop, butcher shop, and meat market.
There was a barber shop in the railroad station.
Can't recall any mill, may have been. Don't forget the important stock yards which set east of the Station and south of the railroad tracks.
Baseball diamond south of the tracks and southwest of the railroad station.
Summertime platform dances.
Howard A. Healey
Page 28"INTERESTING PACTS ABOUT ARDON"
1. Four houses moved from Ardon:
a. U.B. Parsonage to Cranston, 1916-1917.
b. Longstreth's to Eddie Furlong's moved by Rob T. Wigim with a 16 h.p. D.S. Reeves Steam Engine. It was moved in September 1925 and built in 1908.
c. Leo Summers house to Lou Downer's.
d. Adam Wigim's house moved first to his farm about one mile northeast of Ardon, later to 1220 Park Muscatine, Iowa.
2. Ira Lee received 525 head from Texas. The Al J. Mitchell Ranch was comprised of 22 stock cars and the freight bill was $4000, around December 1, 1922.
3. Lucius Brown moved Parsonage with a gas tractor to Cranston.
4. Ernest Meeker carried the bricks for his father Joseph, who was a Brick Mason, to put the chimney at St. Malachy's in 1902, (by Eddie Furlong).
5. "Culver" Station at the junction of Milwaukee and Rock Island, before coming up to Wigim Hill.
6. "Nahant" Freight Yards at Davenport.
7. Depot moved from Ardon to Leo Furlong's farm in August of 1956,
8. Mill to grind feed was built about 1906. It was located due south of store on R.R. property, was powered by 12 h.p.. Fair-Bawks Morse Engine bought of Adam Wigim. Engine later sold to
Ira Lee in 1908. Mill on south side of tracks, operator of the mill was A.P. Fuller. This was told to Howard A. Healey in May 14, 1974 by Rob T. Wigim.
9. Wigim Hall was a two-story frame building, built by Mrs. Sam ...
... Wigim and was used as a butcher shop and later a harness shop. It was run by Hugh Wigim. The building just east of the shop was an ice house and later a blacksmiths shop. The train going through blew its whistle long and loud arousing people to a fire which burnt the buildings down on June 21, 1917.
10. Mrs. Anna Byrne moved into the house used as the hotel in Ardon on December 18, 1905. It was built by Alex Kollman. Previously R.R. Surveyors had taken meals at her home on the
11. Leo A. Summers came to Ardon on July 28, 1906. His salary
was $45.00 per month. He stayed at the hotel for $15.00 per month
for room and board. My Grandmother made him save some
of his money. (Told to me by my Aunt Marie Bryne Howe in fall
12. Aunt Marie Byrne Howe was 18 years old when Grandma moved to
Ardon. The Depot, a store and two houses were built when
13. Some of the Blacksmiths were: John Mills (last), Ellsworth,
Bill Gage, Levi Pontius (first), and Fred Ferguson. The others
I do not know about.
14. Ice house, later used as a blacksmiths shop, just east of the
butchers shop, had a good floor and was often used for dances.
The room above the butchers shop was used for township meetings,
dances and various other gatherings.
15. Medicine shows and Punch and Judy shows ( a l l others that were
held under tents) were north of the store by old Hag Barracks.
Also medicine shows were held in back of the old butchers and
blacksmiths shops in Ardon.
16. Baseball was played south of the Depot, and down by the old
brick Catholic Church, on Furlong Farm. It was also played at
Healey Farm down by the road going into Ardon.
17. Some surveyors and steam shovel men boarded at Adam Wigims.
18. First dirt moved on a Sunday and last dirt moved out on a
Sunday from the Wigim Hill, and cut according to Rob T. Wigim.
19. U. B. Church and the school, called High Prairie was built
where Ira Lee’s farm was torn down.
20. Mike Healey pulled back empty dump cars to steam shovel
after dumping their load. (Leo Furlong).
21. Mrs. Lilie Walton Hopkins was my first teacher at number two
High Prairie School. Some of my classmates were: Zelda
Verink, Helen O'Brien, Anna Gertrude Riggs, Velma Gertinbaugh,
Milton and Levi Eichelbarger. Jimmie Furlong and the others I
do not recall.
22. Jim Ryan County surveyor, remonumented all section corners
in Muscatine in the early 1930's, W.P.A. Money.
23. The owners of Ardon Hotel were: Mrs. Anna Byrne, Leo Summers,
Wally Mann, Lloyd Gardner, and Thomas Barnard.
24. First land dedicated to the railroad, dated August 26, 1901
and filed on September 3, 1901.
25. Plat of Ardon filed May 12, 1903.
26. The blocks along Healey Avenue had twelve lots at 25' wide, and
total blocks were 300' by 140' deep.
27. Store owners and operators.
a. E. Schwin and John Downer, September, 1903 - January, 1909.
b. Frank Orr from January, 1909 until about 1917. Ardon
Mercantile Company was owned by the Syndicate.
c. Cleo Pitchfork from 1917 until approximately 1920.
d. Leo Summers from 1920 until approximately 1947.
e. Wally Mann from 1947 until 1954.
28. On September 4, 1975, Ray E. Downer (son of John Downer
who was the first owner of the store), narrated to me the
following history of the store and the area:
Frank Orr was manager for the syndicate which owned the
Early in the town's history they had many parties, such
as sledding parties on the hill, skating parties on the ponds
along the railroad R/W, card parties and picnics. They were
made up of the following families: The Wigims, McGrew, Funk,
McCabe, Ryder, Vanatta and the Smalleys.
Railroad workers made up of various nationalities such as
Italian, Greek, and other Balkan areas worked for the railroad.
They came into the store and bought vanilla extract,
hotsetters, bitter sand, and Lydia Pinkhams Compound to drink.
Sunday mornings was their day to buy what they needed and they
never caused any trouble. I remember once that one came in
complaining of stomach pains from eating a big "chick", actually
it had been an owl.
Sunday was stock day so as to be at the Chicago market on
Monday where hogs were hauled and cattle drove. I remember
how sharp many old timers were even though they had no education.
Most of them signed their names with an "X". But they
could look at a steer and guess its weight and calculate the
price accurately. Ike Lee was one of these men in the township.
29. Some of the women who worked at the store were: Julia Byrne
Noll, Marie Byrne Howe, Margaret Nolan Gage and Hazel (?).
30. Some of the people who lived in Ardon were: The Sextons,
Richie Philip, Johnnie Russell, Tom and Bill Fitzgerald.
31. Mail was received by the Byrne Brothers, Christy Noland and
32. Jim Ryan gave a talk in the hall above the butcher shop on
"Irish Wit", but no one came. Once a month they held a dance,
and Coontz was the musician.
33. One time when Tom Cashman was in Ardon visiting at the store,
Tom Summers spotted his horse and buggy tied outside. He decided
to take a ride. Unfortunately, when he attempted to
turn the buggy he pulled the horse around to sharp and upset
the buggy. Everyone in and around the store came running to
help untangle the mess and right the buggy. Tom was duly forgiven
and he was thus saved from being a horse thief. He is
now a surgeon in Des Moines, Iowa, (recalled by Paul Healey).
Page 33LIST OF INTERESTING DATES AND EVENTS
| 1/25/1901 || Rumors of Railroad |
| 8/28/1901 || Contractors on the line Mcintosh Bros, and McDougal and Yale have contracts for first seven miles southwest out of Muscatine. |
| 11/21/1901 || Steam shovels being moved from Letts, also large camp located on Joe Vannata Farm at foot of Wigim Hill and the Burlington Road. |
| 2/26/1902 || "Ardon" chosen name for the new town. |
| 4/5/1902 || R.H. McCampbell, the county surveyor will plat the new town of Ardon. |
| 4/22/1902 || Foundations for St. Malachy's Church laid. |
| 7/6/1903 || New cut completed, work trains can operate over the distance to Ottumwa. |
| 8/17/1903 || Hugh Byrne hauling sand for the new store, working on two new houses also. First time column of news under "Ardon". |
| 9/071903 || First passenger trains run between Muscatine and Ottumwa. |
| 9/26/1903 || Joe O'Brien, Joe Byrne and Joe Furlong "open" the road into Ardon. |
| 11/25/1903 || Windmill and stock yards completed. |
| 4/20/1904 || U. B. Parsonage will be built in Ardon. |
| 6/29/1904 || S. E. Cole accepts the position of agent at Ardon, Mr. C. E. Marden is leaving. |
| 7/12/1904 || Agent Cole rents Adam Wigim's house, Levi Pontius will be the blacksmith in Ardon. |
| 11/4/1904 || Ardon has reputation of the best stock shipping point on the new cut off. |
| 12/18/l905 || Mrs. Anna Byrne moves into the house which was used as a hotel for the next 20 years. It is the only building left in "Ardon" at the present time 6/1977. |
| 4/19/1906 || Alex Kollman commenced work on the new butcher shop, will have a Hall upstairs. |
| 5/17/1906 || First dance in Ardon's new Hall. |
| 8/2/1906 || Fifteen carloads of cattle shipped today. Mr. Fuller will soon build a feed mill. |
| 8/7/1906 || Leo Summers accepts position of night operator. |
| 4/27/1908 || It is rumored Leo Summers accepts position of next operator. |
| 8/19/1908 || Downer buys out, Schwin will operate store alone. |
| 3/18/1911 || Milwaukee has a wreck near Lutheran Home. |
| 7/5/1911 || Fire on porch of Ardon Hotel, which is operated by Mrs. Anna Byrne. |
| 7/21/1917 || Ardon Hall and Butcher Shop along with Blacksmith Shop, which formerly was an Ice House burnt down about 2 a.m. |
| 7/19/1917 || Fire in Depot reported by a tramp, station saved, later same date Depot totally destroyed. |
| 3/16/1918 || Post Office and Store robbed. |
| 11/1/1918 || Hugh Nolan, Anthony Byrne and George Foster enter service from Ardon. |
| 1/2/1920 || Father Leahy will serve St. Malachy's. |
| 1/30/1926 || William Starkweather dies after fight. |
| 4/25/1927 || Railroad driving piling to prevent slides one mile east of Ardon. |
| 5/3/1927 || Bad electrical storm at Ardon. |
| 7/11/1927 || Reroofing St. Malachy's. |
| 3/23/1928 || Funeral of Mrs. John Verink. |
| 9/3/1928 || Alex Kollman passes away, built most of all buildings in Ardon. |
| 2/8/1930 || Mrs. Mary 0'Toole passes away. |
| 8/4/1930 || Fire at W. M. Riggs farm. |
| 1/31/1931 || Store in Ardon burns. |
| 3/31/1931 || Joseph E. Furlong dies in a premature blast. |
| 3/24/1932 || Mrs. E. E. Eichelberger passes away. |
| 10/17/1932 || Adam Wigim passes away. |
| 10/20/1932 || Mrs. Peter Byrne passes away. |
| 12/20/1933 || Christopher Nolan dies at home. |
| 3/20/1934 || Joseph P. Byrne dies at home. |
| 4/23/1934 || John Healey called by death. |
| 2/2/1935 || Michael Tomney called in death. |
| 8/1/1935 || W. M. Riggs rites. |
| 9/30/1935 || W, M. Reed rites held. |
| 1/6/1936 || Mrs. Margaret Furlong called in death. |
| 1/7/1936 || John Reed dies at home. |
| 7/2/1937 || Mrs. John Healey passes away. |
| 9/1/1937 || Patrick Lynch passes away. |
| 9/23/1938 || Mrs. John Byrne owner and operator of Ardon Hotel passes away. |
| 9/30/1938 || Miss Mary Lynch passes on. |
| 11/19/1938 || Mrs. L. E. Downer called. |
| 1/30/1939 || Mrs. Adam Wigim Rites. |
| 3/19/1939 || Mrs. C. Nolan passes on. |
| 11/11/1940 || Miss Mary Reed dies. |
| 2/26/1941 || Joseph O'Brien passes on, helped build road into Ardon. |
| 6/20/1941 || John Tomney called. |
| 11/20/1941 || James O’Toole rites. |
| 12/29/1941 || Thomas Coady funeral rites. |
| 1/21/1942 || Jimmy O'Brien passes on. |
| 3/7/1942 || John Lynch called by death. |
| 10/26/1942 || Mrs. Agnes Lee dies. |
| 12/16/1942 || Mr. John Downer called, owner and operator of Ardon store. |
| 1/21/1943 || Mrs. W. M. Riggs funeral rites. |
| 3/31/1943 || E. J. Coady passes on. |
| 1/18/1944 || John Foley dies. |
| 2/25/1944 || H. W. Wigim dies. |
| 6/5/1944 || Louis F. Byrne goes in death. |
| 11/9/1944 || Miss Katherine Healey passes on. |
| 6/25/1945 || Mrs. Mary Byrne called. |
| 7/14/1945 || Rosalie Healey fatally injured. |
| 12/28/1945 || Catherine Lynch passes on. |
| 3/18/1947 || John Verink passes on. |
| 5/23/1947 || Michael Lynch passes on. |
| 7/31/1947 || Joseph Hickey called. |
| 7/3/1948 || Mrs. James 0'Toole passes away. |
| 3/9/1949 || Edward Healey passes away. |
| 5/30/1949 || L. J. Byrne dies. |
| 6/17/1949 || Margaret Foley dies. |
| 7/27/1949 || Closing of the C.M.S.T.P. & P. R.R. Depot at Ardon. |
| 12/12/1949 || W. B. Milholin called in death. |
| 5/2/1951 || Milwaukee discontinue passenger trains. |
| 5/21/1951 || M. W, Foley passes away. |
| 2/13/1952 || Frank Byrne dies |
| 4/14/1952 || W. J. O'Toole succumbs. |
| 7/1/1952 || Mrs. Viola Downer passes away. Was operator of the "Ardon" news column. |
| 8/28/1952 || Vernon Legler dies. |
| 10/31/1952 || Flames race over fields around Ardon. |
| 4/13/1953 || Leo A. Summers succumbs, 43 years agent at Ardon. |
| 12/5/1953 || Matt Foley passes away. |
| 2/13/I954 || Ardon Post Office closes, Delores Mann last Postmaster. The first Postmaster was Conrad Schwinn. |
Page 36FINAL DISPOSITION OF ALL BUILDINGS IN ARDON
1. Ardon H0tel - Mrs. Anna Byrne moved into Hotel on 12/18/1905.
The building is still there in 1977.
2. Adam Wigim House - Moved to his farm one mile northeast of
"Ardon" in 1917. Again in the late 1930's moved to 1220 Park
3. John Downer - Leo A. Summers house moved to Lou Downer place
three miles south of "Ardon" in 1932.
4. Conrad Schwinn, Andrew Healey, Mike Healey, house burnt down
about 1 p.m. 1/31/1931. Occupied at that time by Nat McNull.
5. Store burnt down 1 p.m. 1/31/1931 due to overheated stove in
Schwinn house, first house east of store.
6. House behind Blacksmith Shop on "Healey" Avenue torn down by
Paul Healey in I961.
7. Blacksmith Shop torn down by Paul Healey in 1936.
8. Ice House, Butcher Shop and Town Hall burnt down at 2 a.m. on
7/21/1917. Owned by Mrs. Margaret Wigim.
9. Healey Tennant House - North of the store burnt down March,
1935. occupied at that time by Henry Franz.
10. United Brethren Parsonage moved to Cranston 1916-1917, by Lucius
Brown with big gas tractor.
11. Longstreth House moved to the John O'Brien place, later Eddie
Furlong place two miles west of "Ardon" by Bob Wigim with his
16 h.p. d.s. Reeves steam engine. Moved September, 1925, house
built in 1908.
12. First Depot burnt down early in the morning of September 19, 1917.
Second Depot built in Summer of 1918, sold to 76 Township for
Township Hall and moved in August, 1956 to the Leo Furlong Farm.
Time passes, dirt and mud roads give way to hard tops, trotting
horses and heavy draft horses to the auto and truck, the blacksmith
to the machine and welding shop, the general stores to the super
The little homes and people disappear and are absorbed into the larger centers of population. People go where there is work and opportunity.
Older people fade away into eternity and slowly pass from the memory
of the living.
The once happy little villages return to farm land, leaving very little
to mark its former presence.
Nothing remains of the friendly neighbors, pleasant greetings and
joyful times of this country village.
This could be the tale of hundreds of villages in Iowa and the great
The wind blows through the grass, the sun shines warmly. All is quiet
and peaceful where once was "Ardon". Soon no one will recall its
presence here on earth. To those who can recall memories of it, they
will remember its hard working, happy people with love and pride for
the many things they did willingly for others just to be good friends
To this country, they were passionately proud and ever grateful for
giving them the opportunity to make a living and to honor their God.
They made and were much of America, and America was better because of
these villages throughout the country.
No doubt historians will groan and sigh, and grammarians or grammatists
will do likewise at the above tale. The author who is neither plunged
ahead and put on paper to the best of his ability the story of Ardon, as
I recalled it and to the research of the Journal and various living people
in the area.
It is suggested that many might read or recall the following poems which
would fit Ardon. Oliver Goldsmith's "Deserted Village", Henry W.
Longfellow's "Village Blacksmith", and lastly Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written
In A Country Churchyard". They are highly recommended.