By Mike Avitt
The shed in the center of this photo was torn down last summer by Don Ray. These shed were used to store landscaping tools, fertilizer, flower pots, and other cemetery-related items. This is just one of many cemetery photos I've taken over the years.
Forrest Home is located about three miles north of Redding. It was never a town or a village, but was more akin to a community center. There was a rural school just north of Forrest Home as early as 1875. This was the only public building in the immediate area.
The Redding Post Office was one mile south of Forrest Home and the original town of Redding was established two miles south of the post office. Forrest Home's claim to fame was their orchards. Fruit was hard to come by in these pre-railroad days of pioneer life.
There were many communities in Ringgold County that never grew bigger than a hamlet. Most of them had post offices and this alone made them regular destinations in the local vicinities. But these communities began to dissolve with one government policy - Rural Free Delivery.
Rural mail began to be delivered in Ringgold County on September 1, 1902, when one route was established out of the Mount Ayr Post
Office and two routes out of the Diagonal Post Office. I believe all rural post offices in Ringgold County were closed by 1908. Let's look at some communities from days gone by.
Lee was located in section 20 of Riley Township. This would be somewhat between Kellerton, Lamoni, and Hatfield, Mo. This was a larger community with a church, school, and store all nearby. The Lee Post Office closed in 1908 but the store lasted until November 1914 when it was destroyed by fire. The Mt. Zion Church was still active in the 1950s. Modoc was the name of the rural school there but I don't know when it closed.
Polen was in section three of Lincoln Township and had a post office until 1901. Fairview Methodist Episcopal Church was one mile south and there was rural school one mile east and another one mile west of Polen.
The community of Marena was two miles south of Polen and, although Marena lost its post office in 1885, it remained active because of the grist mill there. The church was closed by 1925.
Wanamaker had a post office from 1891 to 1908. This community was located in southwest Athens Township and southeast Poe Township or about ten miles southeast of Mount Ayr. Wanamaker was the name of the post
office but I always call this the Salem community. The Salem Evangelical Church was dedicated in December 1890. The school there was also called Salem.
Kew had a post office from 1882 to 1889 and was located about three and a half miles east of Diagonal. Kew came about when the Humeston & Shenandoah was built through Ringgold County in 1882. There was no church or school there but a Mr. Cassidy has a store there as late as 1887. Kew lost its post office the same year as Diagonal got their post office in 1889.
There were many more communities and I'll write about them when I get more information.
Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2017