Ringgold County Centennial Celebration
1855 ~ 1955
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Ringgold County Centennial Celebration
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, July 1st
9:00 p. m. - Centennial Queen's Ball (announcement of the Queen and her Court of Honor)
Saturday, July 2nd - Young America's Day
10:00 a. m. - Kiddies' Centennial Parade.
1:30 p. m. - Kiddies' Picnic.
2:30 p. m. - 4-H Display of Farming and Homemaking - Then and Now.
3:30 p. m. - "Brothers of the Brush" Kangaroo Court.
7:45 p. m. - Centennial Queen's Coronation.
8:15 p. m. - Historical Pageant, "Backward Glances" and Fireworks.
Sunday, July 3rd - Centennial Religious Dedication Day
Morning - Centennial Observances in County's Churches.
2:30 p. m. - Centennial of Sabbaths Program.
3:45 p. m. - Ladies' Centennial Tea and Style Show.
8:15 p. m. - Historical Pageant, "Backward Glances" and Fireworks.
Monday, July 4th - Independence Day
10:00 a. m. - Centennial, Patriotic and Float Parade.
12:00 m. - Picnic.
2:00 p. m. - Band Concert and Old-fashioned July 4th Speeches.
7:45 p. m. - Final Judging of "Brothers of the Brush" and "Sisters of the Swish."
8:15 p. m. - Historical Pageant, "Backward Glances" and Fireworks.
Tuesday, July 5th - Ringgold County 100th Anniversary Day
Morning - Final Viewing of Historical "Then and Now" Windows.
1:30 p. m. - Pioneer Recognition Ceremony.
2:30 p. m. - Square Dance Contest.
4:00 p. m. - "Time Capsule" Ceremony.
8:15 p. m. - Historical Pageant, "Backward Glances" and Fireworks.
Early History of Ringgold County . . .
This historical brochure is dedicated to the memory of those sturdy pioneers who made the many sacrifices necessary to
create Ringgold county, and in doing their full part in the building of the great commonwealth of Iowa, which is the
heritage of us who are living today.
Several sources of information have been used in the compilation of this brief
early history of Ringgold county, among which was the "Early History of Ringgold County," written by the late
Mrs. B. M. Lesan.
The writer expresses sincere appreciation to those who contributed and for the material at hand, without
which many hours of research would have been required.____________
The territory in Ringgold county was part of Des Moines county from 1834-36 under the territorial government
of Wisconsin. At that time, the territory of Iowa was organized, but for several years this county remained unnamed,
unsurveyed and unsettled.SKETCHES OF EARLY SETTLERS
In 1847, the boundaries of the county were established and the name Ringgold was given in
honor of Major Samuel Ringgold, who was mortally wounded in the Battle of Palo Alto in the war with Mexico. For the next
four years Ringgold was included within the temporary county of Pottawattamie and then attached to the newly organized
county of Decatur.
On 1851, commissioners were appointed to locate a county seat in Ringgold county, and they reported
they had designated a place about four miles south of the center of the county. They marked this location with a stake,
but due to the fact that the area had not been surveyed, the could not give a particular description of the place. They
named this location Urbana, but apparently no one knows the exact location of this town site, because there was not
sufficient population to organize the county at that time.
Again in January, 1855, commissioners were appointed
to locaate the county seat of the county. They selected the sw 1/4 of section 6-68-29, and named the seat of justice in
Ringgold county Mount Ayr.
On May 14, 1955, the first election was held and a total of thirty-four votes was cast.
The first county officers were James C. Hagans, county judge, Matthew B. Brown, district clerk, Joseph W. Cofer,
treasurer and recorder, Hiron (sic) Imus, sheriff, Charles H. Schooler, school fund commissioner. When the judges of
Ringgold and Taylor counties met for settlement, Ringgold county had $1.45 with which to begin business. A few interesting
items of business were the sheriff's sale of three guns and sixteen steel traps which had been taken from the
Indians when they were removed to an Indian Reservation in Kansas. On May 6, 1855, the first marriage license
was issued to James O. Lockwood and Lucy A. Goer.
Thus began the government of Ringgold county. By 1869, the
present townships were formed, and with the exception of Waubonsie township, which was formed in 1916, there have
been no changes in the township boundaries.
Ringgold county is situated in southwest Iowa, bordering the state of
Missouri. It is eighty miles southwest of Des Moines, and ninety miles northeast of St. Joseph, Missouri. It has an area
of 540 square miles and the surface is a gently rolling plain.
The county is bisected by Platte River, east and
west, and Middle Fork of Grand River. The eastern four-fifths of the area is drained into Platte River. Intermittent
tributaries of these rivers proved excellent drainage for the entire county, and there is not one square mile of land
in the county without a drainage outlet. It is an excellent grass county, and about two-thirds of the total area is devoted
to grass and hay. These conditions make Ringgold county a fine livestock county, and many fine herds of cattle are
found within the county's borders.
The early settlers in this territory came largely from Missouri, Illinois,
Indiana and Kentucky. Later, quite a number of Bohemian families settled near Diagonal, and quite a number of Irish
families settled in Benton township near Maloy. There have been very few negroes in the county, and at the present
time there is not a negro inhabitant here.
The first settlers were Mr. and Mrs. Chas. H. Schooler, who located near
Ringgold City in 1844. Two years later Jas. M. Tethrow settled near Mr. Schooler. They believed they were living
in Missouri, as the southern part of Ringgold county was involved in the famous dispute between Iowa and Missouri,
which was begun in 1839 and not settled until 1850, when the disupted area was awarded to Iowa. Manoah B. Schooler,
born in 1847, was the first white child born in the county.
John Foltz was the first settler in Union township. He settled in Section 3 in April, 1855. Andrew J. Gillett settled in
Section 32, Union township, April, 1855, a few days later than John Foltz. John Strouse entered land in Union township
in December, 1854 - 80 acres of prairie and 40 acres of timber.First Court House
Tingley Township: Stanbury Wright entered 80 acres of prairie and 40 acres of timber land in Section 36, Tingley
township, in December, 1854, and then returned to Noble county, Indiana, and moved in April, 1855, with his family and
two sons-in-law and their families. Edgar Sheldon settled in Tingley township, Section 2, in the spring of 1855. He was a
native of Ohio and his wife a native of Pennsylvania. C. K. Grimes settled in Section 7, Tingley township, in May, 1865.
He was a native of Indiana.
Jefferson Township: Luke Shay settled in Jefferson township in 1854. They had only a coffeepot, a skillet and some
blankets and they slept on a pile of hay with the blankets the first night. Michael Beaver settled in Jefferson
township in the spring of 1855 and was a good, honest neighbor and friend. Isaac W. Keller settled in Jefferson
township in 1855. He farmed for a few years and then moved to Mount Ayr where he practiced law and later became county
Lincoln Township: Joseph Gard, and early pioneer of Lincoln township, settled in the county in 1856. He was a farmer
and reared a family of seven boys. Peter Lininger, who settled in Lincoln township in 1855, was a farmer and a carpenter
and built the frame court house in 1859. J. G. Baughman settled in Section 4 of Lincoln township in the spring of
1854. A native of Germany, he was a farmer and a good citizen.
Grant Township: Michael Stahl settled in Section 1, of Grant township, in July, 1856, and preempted 400 acres
of excellent land. He was a carpenter, but spent most of his life engaged in farming. Thos. canny, a native of Ireland,
settled in Section 33, in Grant township in 1853, where he made his home until he died. Benj. Keller settled in Section
14, Grant township, with his father in 1855. He remained there until his marriage to Sarah E. Talley on February
9, 1860, after which he built a hewed log house, where he lived for many years. They were the parents of twelve
children. During the Civil War, Mr. Keller served with Company M of the Third Iowa Cavalry.
Washington Township: Peter Doze, a Frenchman, settled in Washington township, Section 26, in 1854, where he
engaged in farming and stock raising. He became the second sheriff of Ringgold county, was the first assessor in the
county and voted at the organizing election in May, 1855. Horatio M. Imus was drowned while en route to
Iowa to move on his land. His family consisted of eight boys and four girls and they and their mother continued to
Iowa and settled on his 400 acres of land in Washington township. Garrett Bird settled in Washington township in
1855. The first regular election in the northwest section of the county was held in his home and he was one of the
Liberty Township: Johnson Dady settled in Liberty township in the spring of 1854. He served as one of the judges
at the regular election held in August, 1855. He came from Illinois and helped in the removal of the Indians to Kansas.
Asher Lorimor entered a quarter section of land in Liberty township in 1855. He returned to Washington county, Ohio, and
was delayed in moving to Iowa until spring after suffering a fractured leg. Levi S. Terwilliger settled in Ringgold
county in Section 35, Liberty township, in the spring of 1855. He voted in the organizing election the spring of 1855, was a
judge in the election in August, 1855, and a justice of the peace.
Monroe Township: Isaac Oliver, a native of Ohio, settled in Section 8, Monroe township in 1855 and was
married to Martha Blackmore on April 4, 1850. Tom Cooper settled in Monroe township in 1855, the second settler in
the township, and his oldest son was the first white child born in Monroe township. James A. Drake came to Monroe township in July, 1855, and bought the farm on the corner, later known
as Blackmore Corner. In 1858 he sold it to Sam Blackmore.
Athens Township: In the spring of 1855, Peter Merritt settled in what is now Athens township, on 120 acres of
land he had entered from the government. Later he moved to Section 27 in Athens township, where he lived until 1879, when
he sold out and re-purchased the old home. The place was known as the Merritt station, as it was a station on the stage
line through Decatur and Ringgold counties. Malay McDonald was born in Ohio in 1823, and was married to Mary Ferguson in
Ohio. He first came to Decatur county, then in October, 1855, located where Kellerton now stands. Sam Fittro settled
in Athens township in 1858. He was born in Ohio in April, 1830, and was married to Betsey Ireland on August 27, 1853. He
bought 400 acres of land, an portion os which is included in the plat of Kellerton. In 1879 he sold 80 acres to
Perkins for town lots.
Poe Township: G. W. Lesan was born in Maine in 1830, and married Mary Melisa Lesan on March 13, 1853, who was
also a native of Maine. David M. Lesan, born in Maine in 1828, was married to Syble P. Lesan, a native of Maine, in
1854, and they settled in Poe township on May 3, 1855. Carlos Lee Little is known of his antecedents as he
married Harriett Lesan in Illinois in 1854 and arrived in Ringgold county on May 3, 1855.
Mount Ayr Township: B. B. Dunning was a native of New York, born in 1809, and he married Laura L. Styles, a
native of Massachusetts, who was born in 1815. A. G. Beall was a native of Ohio and came to Ringgold county in the
fall of 1855. David Edwards was the first blacksmith in Mount Ayr, and ran the first hotel on the first lot south
the elevator. He also bought the first two lots sold by the town - lots Nos. 71 and 72, the Hill and Cunning lots.
Rice Township: Alex McCarty was the first doctor to settle in Ringgold county. He came here in 1853 and settled on the
farm southwest of Mount Ayr, owned by Lon Robinson. He remained for ten years and then sold his farm to Lon Robinson's
father. He was a very capable doctor of his day. Edward Page, a native of New York, settled in Rice township in 1856
on wild land, where he built a log cabin. Thos. M. Hall, a native of North Carolina, was born in 1827. He settled
on his farm in Section 6, Rice township, in November, 1855, where he continued to live for many years.
Benton Township: John D. Carter settled in Section 27, Benton township, in 1855. He was born in Ohio in
1824. Wm. Millsap settled in Section 12, Benton township, in 1859, after he first settled in Rice township in 1855.
Clinton Township: Samuel Baird entered land in Section 12, Clinton township in the fall of 1854. He built a log cabin
16x16 with a clapboard roof and a puncheon floor and furniture to correspond. He was a Shorthorn breeder and several times
served as a township officer. J. W. Abarr was born in 1816 and moved with his mother to Ringgold county in 1856. D. W. Poor
settled in Section 23, Clinton township, in 1856. He moved to Missouri in 1875, but returned to Clinton township in
Middle Fork Township: Harvey Waugh purchased the claim of M. R. Brown in 1854, and in 1855 he settled there with
his family. At the age of 15 years he made a full hand working on the railroad. In 1853 he married and they lived in a
14x16 log cabin, with a stick chimney. Joel Brown, born in 1830, settled in Middle Fork township in 1855. In 1851 he married
and lived in a cabin 16x18.He was a stock raiser and general farmer. Henry Arnett was a native of Virginia,
born in 1810. He was left an orphan at an early age and reared by strangers. In 1828 he came west, spent two years in
Illinois, lived in Missouri and Iowa, and in 1855 located in Middle Fork township.
Lotts Creek Township: Chas. H. Schooler, Ringgold county's first settler, settled in Lotts Creek township in 1844.
He was the father of the first white child born in the county in 1847, and the death of his wife was the first in
the county. He served in various county offices, was the first school fund commissioner, and laterwas
county treasurer. He lived in Ringgold county until about 1863, when he sold his farm to Wm. Timby. Jas. H. Tethrow,
the second settler in Ringgold county, settled near Chas. H. Schooler in 1846. Littleton P. Allen moved from
North Carolina in 1852, and settled in Lotts Creek township. He brought two slaves to Ringgold county and kept them
six months and sold them to a man near St. Joseph for $1,100.
Riley Township: Robert H. Riley was the first settler in what is now Riley township. He located in Section 23 in the
fall of 1853 and laid claim to 120 acres before the land came into the market and later from the government. The township
was named in his honor. Henry Sinco settled in Section 2, Riley township, in 1855. Before coming to Ringgold county he
had laid out a town in Decatur county known as Paris, which is now called High Point. Wm. Hinckley settled in Riley
township in 1856 and was married to Lovina Grant in 1850.
In the spring of 1856, the county judge casued the erection of a hewed log court house on Lot 305 [Mount Ayr].
It was 14 feet square, furnished with two rough tables, two desks or bookcases and a rough box for use as a safe for
money or valuable papers. It was occupied by the county judge, clerk, recorder-treasurer, surveyor and one physician, as
One June 8, 1858, a cyclone visited Mount Ayr and blew down the court house during court and damaged
several buildings. The county papers and money were scattered all over the county. Some were found two weeks afterwards
and some were never found. Anna Miller bought these logs for her house. The logs, of which the court house was
constructed, were donated as were the hauling and building. Judge Hagans, A. G. Beall and David Edwards were the overseers
of the building.
Mount Ayr Early Schools
In the winter of 1856 the first subscription school was started in Judge Hagans' cabin and
continued for two months. It was taught by a Miss Brown for $4 per month. In the spring of 1856 Judge Hagans and Barton
B. Dunning felt the need of a school building and out of their own private means these men built on May 10, 1856, a log
schoolhouse, 16 feet square, on the lot where the old Christian church later stood. Mount Ayr's first graduate in
1884 was Lora Laughlin Richardson, and John H. Richardson was the superintendent.
Ringgold County Normal
In 1872, R. F. Askren, county superintendent, started a one-week summer institute for the good
of the teachers with Professor Piper, superintendent of Manchester, Delaware county schools [Iowa], as the teacher.
Later a four weeks' normal was held and Professor Harkness of Garden Grove, and Professor Parrish of Leon, were hired.
Much good was done for Ringgold county teachers and consequently for the schools while Mr. Harkness was teacher in the
normal, which continued until about 1910. Miss Etta J. Rider changed the four weeks' normal to a two-week summer
school which continued until the state established extension schools in different cities over Iowa in about 1915.
Since that time the county superintendents have held a two-day institute in the fall soon after school begins in
The early normals took about all the money the poor school teachers could lay up from their teaching.
They were always held in the hottest part of the year, from the week following the Fourth of July, for four long weeks,
with examinations as the end. To say there were plenty of cheating and stealing of examination questions was putting it
mildly, for it amounted almost to highway robbery for two men teachers and some others who were so crooked that while
talking to the teachers or superintendent they would steal lists of the questions right under their nose.
First Threshing Machine
Osborn Lininger, of Lincoln township, owned the first threshing machine in the county in June, 1862, and he tried to
get by without paying taxes on the full value of cost which was $600. Although it was not paid for in cash, he had to pay
on the full amount.
One authentic instance is known of slavery in this county. L. P. Allen, a native of Bucome county, North Carolina, came
to this county in the spring of 1852, and settled in what is now Middle Fork township. He possessed at that time and for six
months after, two young negroes - a boy and a girl, about fourteen and sixteen years of age, respectively. In the autumn
he sold them to a man from near St. Joseph, Missouri, for $1,100. William Fletchall, of Worth county, Missouri, was a
witness of this sale, and saw $600 of the money paid. Allen lived in Ringgold county ten years after which he removed to
Jackson county, Missouri.
According to a letter received from Edgar R. Harlan, curator of the historical department at
Des Moines, he thinks this trace or trail was first made by the buffaloes when they migrated from the northern part of
Iowa to Oklahoma and Texas. The Indians followed the path from place to place, then the United States soldiers or dragoons went
over this trail from the fork of the Raccoon River at Fort Des Moines to Fort Levenworth with the Indians in 1845-46 when
the Sacs and Fox tribe[s] were removed from Iowa to Kansas. They followed this ridge road crossing Grand River about half
way between where Thayer and Westerville are now located, and then followed the ridge between Grand River and Twelve Mile
Creek, crossing this creek near its mouth north of the northeast corner of Ringgold county, then back to the ridge road,
north of Sand Creek, then south and west between Lotts Creek and the east fork of west Grand River, through what is now
Union, Monroe, Liberty, Poe and Lotts Creek townships in Ringgold county. it crossed the old G. W. Lesan
and George Axtell famrs on through what is now Caledonia, then Ringgold City, on to where Albany, Missouri, is located,
then to Fort Levenworth. Later this road was followed by a mail route. George W. Lesan carried the mail from St.
Mary's near Des Moines, to Albany, Missouri, before and during the war, for which reason he did not see service
during the Civil War. The Morman (sic) trail did not cross Ringgold county.
The First Newspaper
The first newspaper published in Mount Ayr was the Mount Ayr Republican on August 6,
1860, with P. O. James as publisher, and George Burton as editor. Their office was set up in a corner of the old frame
court house, but nine or ten months later it as discontinued when the men entered military service. P. O. James was a
private and George Burton was a captain. The county was then without a newspaper until 1865. Only one Mount Ayr
Republican newspaper is known to be in existence.
On May 25, 1857, the first United States district court in the county convened at Mount Ayr,
with Judge John S. Townsend presiding. After the court had been organized, the first business transacted was the
granting of naturalization papers to Luke Shay, the Irish settler.
Old Stage Coach Line
In 1858, a state road was completed from Eddyville to Nebraska City, Nebraska, and two
bridges were constructed across East Grand River and Platte Rivers in Ringgold county. Andrew Hines and W. C. Lee built the
east Grand River bridge at a cost of $117.50 and Joseph Dodd built the one across Platte at a cost of $234. James
Frazier made the bolts and stirrups at 12 cents each.
Early in 1859 the Western Stage Company established a stage line from
Eddyville to Nebraska City, Nebraska, via Chariton in Lucas county, Garden Grove, Leon and Decatur City in Decatur county,
Merritt Station and Mount Ayr in Ringgold county, Plattsville and Bedford in Taylor county, and Clarinda and Shenandoah
in Page county; hence on to Nebraska City.
There was no competition on this line, so the company used the old stage
coach commonly called a "jerky." The drivers would whip up their horses over the rough roads, which would pitch the passengers
sitting facing each other into each other's arms, and then chuckled when taken to task about it.
One of these old "jerkys"
which went to pieces in Red Oak is now in the Historical Building in Des Moines. The land-seekers furnished the bulk of
the business for this stage line. They received from $300 to $700 for carrying the mail, according to the distance. It
was a common thing for stages to be held up and robbed but there is no account of a stage on this line ever having been
The Western Stage Company stock advanced from $100 to $2,000 per share, but none was ever put on the market.
This stage company flourished for thirty years, but when the railroads came the stage had to go.
The company was
dissolved July 1, 1870, and the coaches worth up to $1,000 were sold for old iron. Some sold for as low as $10 each.
In 1857, the first Bohemian settlers, Joseph Toman, his
wife Vorsila, their two sons, Joseph and Eustachius, and Vaclav Jezek, moved to a wooded area along Grand River, near the
future site of Diagonal. Jezek married and settled on the farm land on which their descendants still lived in 1942. Several
other Bohemian families joined the group from time to time until about 1900. They were all hard workers and good farmers.
Jerry Zaruba, one of them, chose to go into business and had a store at Goshen for a number of years.
First Holiday Celebration
The Fourth of July, 1861, was the first Independence Day to be celebrated in the county.
Patriotic fervor, stirred by the war, lifted the people above thoughts of sod corn, spring wheat and the litters of pigs
so necessary to their survival during the snow-bound winters. There was not a United States flag in the county, so
Mrs. G. M. Lesan, assisted by her sister, Syble, and her aunt, Maggie, made a flag of 13 stars from blue delaine, white muslin
and red calico.
The men used a wagonbox as a base for a platform and set up a pole for the flag. When the wagonbox platform
had been hauled to the city park, Mrs. Lesan attached her flag to the pole and the crowd gathered to hear Jowett Bastow
sing, "The Red, White and Blue," which no one had ever heard, after which two boys sang, "The Star-Spangled Banner," a song
which was also new. The group then enjoyed a picnic dinner in the park. Sixty-five years later on July 4, 1926, this flag, flown
at the first Fourth of July celebration, was presented to the city of Mount Ayr.
There ware ten incorporated towns within
the county at the present time. Mount Ayr, the largest, is the county seat, and is located in the center of the
county. The other locally important towns are Kellerton, Beaconsfield, Ellston, Tingley, Diagonal, Benton, Maloy, Redding
There are no important manufacturing industries and the county's interests are almost exclusively
agricultural. There are two railroad lines in the county. The Chicago Great Western in the western part, and the Chicago,
Burlington & Quincy, which serves Mount Ayr and Kellerton. There are two good highways - No. 2 traverses the county from east
to west, and No. 169, which traverses the county from north to south.
We have a good system of county roads, of which approximately
50% is now surfaces. Rural mail routes, REA and telephone services reach almost every farm in the county.
There are many fine churches, good schools, many social and fraternal organizations, all of which combine to make
Ringgold county a good place in which to live.
Early History of the Ten Towns . . . .
The Humeston and Shenandoah Railroad was built in 1881. It was taken over by the Keokuk and Western, known
as the K and W. later it was taken over by the C. B. & Q. [Chicago, Burlington & Quincy].
The same year the house in which the
K. B. Scotts live was built for a saloon and grocery store. In 1882 the cars began to roll. The first station agent
was Aaron Lamb an the second agent was Fred Bonham.
A town site corporation bought 60 acres of land from John Miller and
13 acres from his brother, Robert Miller, and laid out the town of Beacon, named after a great writer. The mails became
so confused with another town named Beacon that "field" was added and the name became Beaconsfield.
In 1892 the first
schoolhouse was built at a cost of $1,400. It was a one-story building with two rooms and J. P. Daughton and Hannah McGraw
were hired as teachers for the school which began September 21st, 1893. In a few years the building was raised and two upper
rooms were constructed.
The town was incorporated in 1898, with about 100 inhabitants. At the election there were 45 votes
cast, 33 for and 12 against. The committee was composed of M. A. Johnston, C. H. Fouser, J. C. Hoffine and Roy Buchanan,
assisted by Attorney R. F. Askren.
The Chicago Great Western Railroad was built in 1887 and the town of Benton was platted in 1889 on
part of Samuel Irvin's farm. The first church was built in 1890 and the first schoolhouse in 1893.
Benton was incorporated
in 1894. The United Brethren moved their church here from Siloam, Washington township, in 1895.
The I. O. O. F. Lodge built
a hall 22x46 feet with two stories and a cellar. The upper room is used as the lodge room and the lower room is used as a
The town is situated in a good farming area, and the community claims some of the most progressive
farmers in the county. The town and community formed the township of Waubonsie in 1915 and thus became the seventeenth
township in the county.
Delphos is located in Rice township about eight miles southwest of Mount Ayr. It was platted in the year
1880 and became a trading center of importance to that community, which has always been very progressive. At Delphos was
the first vocational agricultural course of study provided in the county. They have two fine churches, a good school
and the town and community are represented by some of the county's best citizens.
Diagonal, platted about 1889 at the intersection of the Chicago, Great Western and the Humeston and
Shenandoah Railroads, was the only town in the county through which both a north-south and an east-west railroad ran. It
soon was the storm center of a struggle with Goshen and Knowlton. Two years after Knowlton was platted Goshen had been
absorbed by Diagonal although a ghost of the old Knowlton still clung to existence in 1942. The first building in Diagonal
was moved April 1, 1869, from Goshen.
A lively struggle ensued, however, between Knowlton and Diagonal. On July 9,
a fire almost wiped out the town of Knowlton, which then had one of the best business blocks in the county. An item which
appeared in the Twice-A-Week News on August 27, 1895, reveled the bitter feeling:
"The exodus from Egypt to Canaan
has begun. That is, the removal of the people from Knowlton to Diagonal is fairly underway. . . " On September 13th, the
Diagonal correspondent wrote: "The commotion at Knowlton, always at fever heat, as greatly increased last week by the
presence of detectives trying to ferret out the party who set fire to Knowlton some time ago. We are informed they have
the guilty party spotted and, as was predicted, he is no citizen of Diagonal, either."
The Knowlton correspondent remarked
on September 27, 1895: "The newspaper that was stolen has been brought back and in a few days will be running again. So, with all that goes
to Diagonal. . . " Another item boasted, "Men of Knowlton are highly pleased with the town's prospects. Every day businessmen
come through Diagonal to our town to locate. There are five o six more brick buildings talked of. Our printing press soon will
be sending out thousands of papers. The only thing we lack is men enough to do the work which is now going on. If anyone
is contemplating finding a first-class locality, he should come to Knowlton. We have lots of room for honest,
At this time Knowlton still had the only coaling station on the railroad between Des Moines
and St. Joseph, and it was the only night station for a long distance each way. In spite of Knowlton's tenacity, however,
the little town lost ground after 1910.
Diagonal's chief claim to fame lies in its fine basketball team, which in 1938
went to the state tournament at Des Moines for the fifth consecutive time and won the state championship. In the following
year this team was runner-up.
This is one of the common stories of our development. New towns absorbing older ones. Thus,
Diagonal by absorbing Goshen and Knowlton, became the fine progressive town as we know it today. The area north and west
of the town includes some of the best farm land in the county while the Bohemian settlement in adjoining Washington township
has been a great factor in the progress of the community. The Diagonal residents can well be proud of their town.
The town of Ellston, known as Wert, was incorporated in 1882. In 1896, the railroad
changed the station's name to Ellston and the citizens voted to change the town's name to Ellston, the name of one of the
early railroad officials. In the early days the town boasted a factory which manufactured barrel hoops and the first
public library in Ringgold county was located in Ellston.
The town is situated in a grand farming area, has a good
church and school, both of which play an important part in the lives of the good people of the community.
Located 12 miles southwest of Mount Ayr on [the] Platte River, Maloy was first named Delphi. Once of the early
storekeepers had a large red fox painted on the store front and most of the early settlers called the town "Fox Town." The
town was incorporated June 18, 1901, and has always been a community center of great importance. Maloy was named for David
Maloy, grandfather of F. B. Maloy, of Mount Ayr.
The area around the town comprises some of the best fertile bottom
lands in the county and some of the finest herds of cattle in the midwest are located in this community.
The community has
qute a representation of Irish who were among the early settlers and as told elsewhere Luke Shay was granted citizenship in the
first court held in the county in the  nineties. Maloy usually had a good baseball team and many of the older residents
remember the fame of "Peanut Cowell: as a star baseball player and sportsman.
The present Catholic church is one of the
finest in southern Iowa and is the pride of all the community and services are held in the Christian church by
residents of the community.
The early history of this small community is closely connected with an early settlement, located a mile and a
quarter southeast of Kellerton. The post office established there in 1856 was known as the Cross post office, but the little
village surrounding it was called New Chicago. When the railroad was established on its present route, the inhabitants
of New Chicago decided to move their little village here "Almost over night," as some of the old timers express it, the
buildings moved across cornfields to the present site.
Judge [Isaac] Keller, of Mount Ayr, donated the land for the
town and in honor of him, it has been known as Kellerton since 1979. Kellerton is located in Athens township on Highway
No. 2, in the midst of a fine agricultural area. However, Kellerton is something special in that it is the only town
bearing that name in the entire United States.
Kellerton was incorporated in 1881. They still have in their community, an
honored citizen, Joe Scott, who helped moved New Chicago to what became known as Kellerton, who owned one of the first homes
The first school established in this community was located a mile east of Kellerton near the railroad track and
was taught by G. M. Lesan. In 1889, the school was established on the present site in southeast Kellerton. The first
schoolhouse was a two-story frame building erected at a cost of $1,800. The people of Kellerton are indeed proud, and
justly so, of the progress their school has made since its beginning. As of today, they have a modern building, excellent
equipment and have achieved a high scholastic standard comparable to that found in many towns much larger.
The first church services were held in the first schoolhouse, a mile east of Kellerton, and were conducted by
W. W. Danner, a Methodist minister. The first Methodist church, 36x42 feet, was built in southeast Kellerton in 1885, at
a cost of $1,200.
The Catholic church was built in 1883 by Father Faley, at a cost of $600. Services were discontinued
there many years ago.
The Christian church was built in 1884. It was 36x40 feet and cost $1,600. The Rev.
Mr. Lemon, of Leon, held the first pastorate.
The Assembly of God church was organized in 1914 under
the leadership of its first pastor, the Rev. Mr. Batterton.
The town of Redding is located in Clinton township about 12 miles southwest of Mount Ayr. It was laid out
in 1880 and was incorporated in 1882. It is a progressive little community which has a good school, two churches, one of
the few remaining small town newspapers, and also one of the few small towns to have a resident doctor, O. L. Fullerton,
who has practiced there for almost 52 years.
Many of the older residents of Redding recall the good Fourth of July
celebrations held there, as well as the many fine community activities which commanded good support from people in the
The post office of Eugene was established five miles northeast of the present village of Tingley. In 1881 a
town company laid out the town on the Humeston and Shenandoah railroad which was then being built and moved the post office
and named it Tingley. In the autumn of 1881 the village had begun to grow and cars began to run in the spring of 1882. The
company bought two hundred acres of land of George Swain, F. E. Harding and the Avenill Brothers. George Swain built the
first store and sold the first goods in that store.
The schoolhouse was built in 1885 at a cost of $3,000. At first
the two lower rooms were used for classes, while the upper story was used for religious meetings by the United Presbyterians.
The Christian church congregation held services in the Tingley Center schoolhouse until 1882, when they built a church in
the northeast part of town. Members of the church also held their services in the Center schoolhouse until a church was
erected in 1885.
The town of Tingley has played an important part in the development of the county and many of the county's most
enterprising farmers and businessmen are located there.
The county seat of Ringgold county, because of its location, was the highest point of land in the southern
tier of counties between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and in honor of Robert Burns, whose birthplace was Ayre,
Scotland, was called "Mount Ayr."
Mount Ayr has enjoyed a comfortable prosperity, and has met the needs of its town as they
have arisen. Early records name Dr. Alexander McCartney and the Barton Dunnings among the first settlers of 1855 and 1856.
Mr. and Mrs. Dunning built a pole cabin where the United Presbyterian church now stands, and he became the town's first
storekeeper and later the first postmaster.
In 1856 the first schoolhouse, a log house 16 feet square, was erected on the
present Catholic church site, with its school teacher receiving a handsome $4.00 per month. One who had much to do with the
building of our school program at an early date was J. w. Wilkerson, the principal of our schools from 1886 to 1895. Lora
E. Laughlin was the first Mount Ayr graduate in the year 1884, and was, incidentally, the first woman to hold the office
of Ringgold county superintendent of schools. The school has shown a steady development. Larger buildings were erected
in 1914 and the gymnasium addition in 1936, both of which are considerably inadequate for present needs.
No town can long survive without the influence of its churches, and Mount Ayr is no exception. It is believed that
the Rev. W. M. Calfee, who died in the little parsonage where the B. W. Knight residence stands,
preached one of the first sermons. Though Ringgold county had earlier pastoral charges, it was not until about
1870 that the Methodist and United Presbyterian churches were established in Mount Ayr, with the Baptist following in
1873, the old Presbyterians in 1875, and the Christians in 1882. Today the town has nine churches, several of which
are the finest of any in a town of comparable size.
The first 14-ft. square hewn log cabin court house of 1856 has been
replaced three times. In 1859 the first frame courthouse, financed by the sale of town lots in Mount Ayr, was constructed
at a cost of $3,500. The cornerstone of the present courthouse was laid November 11, 1926, almost seventy years after
the first district court convened at Mount Ayr, on May 25, 1857.
Many changes have taken place in this town of two
hundred and fifty citizens of the Civil War days. Electric lights and waterworks came in 1909 and 1914, respectively, with
paving for our streets shortly thereafter. Today, on the celebration of its one hundredth birthday anniversary, Mount
Ayr is proud of its modern fire department which long ago replaced the old bucket brigade, its lovely residences, parks,
lake, Country Club, and modern motel and it shares with the rest of the county its pride in the Ringgold County Hospital.
It would be difficult to give recognition to all those early pioneers who worked faithfully and loyally to establish
this beautiful town, for most of them are here no more. Nothing would better please or repay the generation now gone
than to see a newer generation maintaining the influence of its town.
RINGGOLD COUNTY CENTENNIAL ASSOCIATION, INC.
A John B. Rogers Production
County Fairgrounds Mount Ayr, Iowa
July 2, 3, 4, 5, 1955, 8:15 p. m.
PHILLIP R. FRABLE, Director-Producer
FRANK TOOLE, Associate Producer
4-H Boys - Rex Fowler, Jack Fay, Dale Burgher, Gary Burgher, Elmer Baker, Bill Embree,
Brad Varner, James DeVries, Kenneth Dennis, Lloyd Burgher, Gary Myers, Corvis Cooper, Lynn Dennis, Andy Grove, Lloyd Buell,
Bernard Walters, Lloyd Bedier.SYNOPSIS OF SCENES
4-H Girls, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire Girls - Maxine Jones, Betty Cline, Virginia
Hunt, Mary Sue Bastow, Jinny Thomas, Cheryl Newton, Ruth Petersen, Carol Luckinbill, Teena Lynch, Wanda Lyddon, Joyce
Lynch, Martha Carr.
Cadets - Ann Abarr, Judy Thomas, Donna Barker, Nancy Mosbarger, Daisy
Wilson, Ellen Spurrier, Margaret Reel, Anna Wilson.
States to Columbia - Louise Faris, Rosemary Warin, Betty Dugan, Rita Ann Warin,
Patty Culver, JoAnne Matthews, Theanna Black, Shirley Lyddon, Norma Sutherland, Marilyn Minnick, Betty Hill, Sharon Kinne.
Miss Columbia - Jane Wheelen.
Majorettes - Sue Richards, Janice Skinner.
Sailorettes - Lucille Faris, Thelma Black, Jeanine Jackson, Janet Stephenson, Joan Lynch,
Monica Parks, Janice Davis, Twilla Lyddon, Barrie Parks, Marlene Brady, Janet Longcoy, Judy Jobe, Doris Giles, Mary Jane
Trumpeters - Connie Stephenson, Janet Wood, Laveda Flohra, Peggy Norris, Julia Hunt,
Mary Ann Wood.
Nation's Queens - Joyce Richards, Sue Richards, Janet Richards, Pat Hill.
Old Timer - Percy Skinner.
Indian Chiefs - Ralph Merritt, Zell Jones.
Squaws - Agnes Cooper, Bessie Jones, Clarice Wilson, Vera Daughton, Judy Keplinger,
Norma Wilson, Helen Merritt, Iona Triggs.
Braves - Lee Faris, Lyle Faris, Chuck Braby, Bob Jones, Dave Mathany, Bill Daughton,
Kenneth Lay, Robert Lay, R. C. Rush, Sam Wilson, Allen Dufty.
Indian Children - Sherry Cooper, Gary Keplinger, Paul Lay, Joyce Baker, Keith Bastow,
Betty Merritt, Beverly Merritt.
Pioneer Women - Naomi Creveling, Alta Cline, Faith Buell, Lucile Owens, Mrs. Orpha
Feeback, Lela Dukes, Edna Cornett.
Pioneer Men - Lloyd Hosfield, Bud Grose, Joe Reed, Jim Feeback, Lee Jackson, Bonnie
Cline, Warren Giles, Harvey Lamb, Joe Cline, Ernie Buell, George Hosfield.
Pioneer Children - Mary Jennings, Judy Feeback, Dorothy Dukes, Robert Giles,
Ann Giles, Jim Dukes, Joe Dukes, Ronnie Burgher, Kenneth Wood, Ronnie Wood.
School Boys - Bobby Allen, Mike Archibold, Gary Duffield, Eddie Ford, Ronald
Shields, Raymond Shields, Craig Riggs.
School Girls - Sally Breckenridge, Qulta Lininger, Linda Minnick, Dorothy Jean
Kinne, Karen Reasoner, Nancy Weeda, Linda Hill, Susan Hill.
Teacher - Mrs. Arthur Pritchard.
Old-Fashioned Women - Mrs. Eldon Ricker, Mrs. L. Louden, Mrs. Elmer Starmer, Mrs.
Stanley Overholser, Mrs. Sam Overholser, Mrs. Leroy Schlapia, Mrs. Ivan Hayworth, Mrs. Jack Shiflett, Mrs. Clarence
Austin, Mrs. Fred Abel
Widow Brown - Merrill Starmer.
Old-Fashioned Men - Eldon Ricker, L. Loudon, Elmer Starmer, Stanley Overholser,
Sam Overholser, Leroy Schlapia, Ivan Hayworth, Jack Shiflett, Clarence Austin, Fred Abel.
Civil War Soldiers - Ivan Sobotka, Bill Johnston, Gary Bear, Larry Morris,
Jim George, Carroll Strange, Ronald Abel, Arthur Hays, Larry Schlapia, Jim Munsinger [sp?].
Bathing Beauties - Mrs. Glen Austin, Mrs. Bob Olney, Mrs. Billy Wilson, Mrs.
Guy Staton, Mrs. Clifford Lungren, Mrs. Clyde Howie.
Bicycle Couple - Mr. and Mrs. Lowell Howie.
Mayor - Neil Norris.
Comic Cop - Jack Bailey.
Bride and Groom - Clyde Howie, Bertha Olney.
Ball Players - Clarence Waugh, David Waugh, Frank Culbertson, Ansel Saville.
Picnic - Mrs. Frank Culbertson, Karen Sue McQuigg, Linda Shafer, Charlotte Olney,
Alan Culbertson, Karen Sue Taylor, Dickie Norris, Richard Waugh, Jerry Waugh, Johnny Cole, Lila Jane Olney.
Prim and Proper Woman - Mrs. Clarence Waugh.
Minnie and Elmer - Mr. and Mrs. Harve Maudlin.
Medicine Drummer - Lee Motsinger.
Lifeguards - Cecil Shafer, Glen Austin.
Badminton Players - LouElla Wilson, Judith Hiatt.
Suffragettes - Mrs. Neil Norris, Edith Olney, Mrs. Cecil Shafer.
Lady in Red - Mrs. Ansel Saville.
Quartet - Ernest Bastow, David Allen, Dale Clement, Russell Shields.
Can Can Dancers - Jean Rusk, Norma Corll, Phyllis Gunter, Marcia Dalbey, Ann Sickels,
Mildred Drake, Sue Terwillinger, Norma Jean Ruckman.
Charleston Girls - Sybil Denhart, Suzanne Todd, Diane Rothert, Nancy Terwilliger,
Patty Culver, Barbara Stuck.
Charleston Boys - Bob Mosbarger, Dan Cunning, Ray Cox, Phil Foltz, Lyndall Hill,
Narrators - Joe Gross, Howard Todd, Mrs. Joe Place, Mrs. Arch Dunfee.
Office Staff - Norma Kay Corll.
Greetings to you as we present the thrilling story of the founding, growth
and development of Ringgold county.
A brilliant scene in which the centennial queen, "Miss Ringgold County,"
welcomes the audience to the enactment to follow. Down the avenue of flags comes Her Majesty as "Miss Columbia," the personified
"States," "The Nation Queens" and other patriotic ensembles pay homage to our Queen.
EPISODE I: The Ringgold Story
An epic of a tidal wave of freedom-loving men
and women sweeping on to a new world rich with natural resources beyond the dreams of the ages.
EPISODE II: The Moundbuilders
Once an ancient people inhabited this area. They were born,
ate, drank, loved fought and died in the valleys and plains. Then in the same mysterious manner in which they came, they
disappeared. History notes them only as the mound-builders and places their great work in the same categories as the
antiquities of ancient man.
EPISODE III: The Red Man in the Land Unknown
The first well known inhabitants of the
plains of Iowa were the Sac and Fox Indian tribes. The knowledge of these people is vague in the extreme, but the fact
of their existence and their occupation of this county is beyond question.
EPISODE IV: The First Settler
In 1843, Ringgold county was opened for settlement.
It is in this period and time that the real story of Ringgold county begins. Charles H. Schooler and wife were the
first settlers in this county, settling near Ringgold City. He felt that here was what he wanted, here he would set up a family
altar of which future generations would be proud.
EPISODE V: A New People in a New Land
Over the "DRAGOON TRACE" they came, lured by the
promise of the region they came to establish and to tame the vast wilderness. Families and possessions loaded into covered
wagons as the search for a home beyond the frontier was on.
EPISODE VI: Remember the Sabbath
When the pioneers came to this land, they brought
with them, not only their belief in democracy and freedom of opportunity, but they came with the priceless belief in God
and freedom of worship.
EPISODE VII: Just One Hundred Years Ago
The first formal meeting of the county officers
was held on July 2, 1855, at the cabin of Ephriam Cofer, about six miles south of Mount Ayr. An election was set up for the
16th of October and judges for the election were appointed.
EPISODE VIII: Readn', 'Rittn' and 'Rithmetic
Many of the early settlers of Ringgold
county were people of limited education, but education for their children was never neglected even from the earliest time.
EPISODE IX: A Volume in Black
As the year 1850 [should be 1860?] approached, Ringgold county was
flourishing with farms, schools and enterprising citizens. God's grace seemed to be shed on the area.
nation became a divided house. The peace and serenity that once was ours, was gone. . . . Boys of this county joined the Blue.
EPISODE X: The Coming of the Railroad
In the year 1879 the railroad came to the county bringing
new growth; it opened new markets and the "Iron Horse" stamped its deep and lasting trail across the land.
EPISODE XI: Bikes, Bustles and Mustaches
We take you to the fair in the afternoon,
circa 1900, to a picnic with the belles and beaux of the period. . . . It was "twenty-three Skiddo" if you
want the slang by-word in those nostalgic days of the high bike, leg-o-mutton sleeves, horseless carriages and the
surreys with the fringe on top. . . . But let's listen to the man as he introduces the "CAN CAN" dancers.
EPISODE XII: The Cause of Freedom in the World
The year is now 1917 and America is
going to war. Ringgold county watched her volunteers enlist. We honor our fighting "doughboys," marines and sailors
who participated in the first global conflict and remember those in particular who did not return.
EPISODE XIII: The Roaring Twenties
We pause briefly to re-live the days when father wore the
"plus fours" and "knickers: on the miniature golf course, while mother in her cloche hat and short, beaded gown, joined
the other flappers in mastering the intricacies of "THE CHARLESTON." . . . .
EPISODE XIV: The Siege of Democracy
We pay a heartfelt tribute to our heroes in North
Africa, Italy, Anzio, the Battle of the Bulge, on Guam, the South Pacific outposts and Mount Surabochi.
FINALE: The Great Wheel of Progress
Before you, a great wheel of progress is taking form,
with Ringgold county as its hub, with each spoke carved from one of her past achievements. We see Ringgold county
serving the nations of the world. The young manhood and womanhood of our country, proudly carrying the torch of youth into
These Pages Sponsored by
|Mount Ayr Greenhouse|| Coffee Shop|| Lefty Geist Tavern|
|Mount Ayr Welding Shop|
| Hacker's Paint and |
| Taggart Barbershop|
|Ringgold Dairy|| Harvey Brothers|| Barnard Standard Service|
|Gunter Jewelry|| Farmers Supply Co.|| McNeiley Drug|
|Prentis Hatchery|| Lion Auto Store|| Main Motor Co.|
|Carl Petersen Insurance|| Payne Freight Lines|| Pritchard Body Shop|
|Borden Ice Cream|| Geo. W. Lee, Optometrist|| Frank Clarke Insurance|
|Billie Finch Produce||  : Frank Wilson, Attorney|| Duane E. Mitchell, M.D.|
|Ben Franklin Store|
| Rideta Electric |
| Willey's Plumbing |
|Cole Firestone Store|| Roe Implement Co.|| J. W. Hill, M.D.|
|Mount Ayr Mill and Feed|
| Irving Clothing Store|
| Pollard's Royal Blue|
|Mount Ayr Implement Co. || Baldner's Clothing Store|| J. & R. Implement Co.|
|Mount Ayr Locker|| P. M. Place Stores Co.|| Scott Produce|
|Mount Ayr Supply Store|| Red's Tavern|| May Motor|
|Mount Ayr Oil Co.|| Princess Theater|| C. & D. Feed Store|
|Fred McClelland, |
| McCullough Motor Co.|
|Jesse Skinner Barbershop|
| Victor Skinner |
| Frank Lewis, Attorney|
|Bastow Feed Store|
| Langan Paper Co.|
| C. C. & C. W. Lawhead,
|B. W. Knight, Dentist|| Mount Ayr Cleaners|| John A. Beard, Attorney|
|Fennema Implement Co.|
| Burchett's Sandwich |
| Buell's Service Station|
| R. P. Jackson |
| Hosfield Grocery|
|Tingley State Savings Bank|
| Wm. S. Breckenridge|
Click on thumbnail photo or the link to see an enlarged view of souvenir page.
Click on "back button" to return to this webpage.
Courtesy of GV/Foland School Museum, Kellerton IA
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2014
Ringgold County Centennial Celebration