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Delphos Depot.jpg
CB&Q Depot, Delphos, Iowa
Courtesy of

When the Leon, Mount Ayr and Southwestern Railroad extended to Grant City, Missouri, in September of 1880, the town of Borneo was laid out. There had been some settlement at the site before. Mr. Mike RUSH sold his store and post office in Delphi [present-day Maloy] around the year 1879 and moved east to the town of Borneo along the new railroad. Frank JORDAN built the first residence and established his blacksmith shop. Franklin SEATON arrived in the new town and became a partner of Mike RUSH with his mercantile store. In 1885, Mr. SEATON succeeded Mr. RUSH as postmaster. Other businesses soon followed: stores owned and operated by J. W. BOWMAN, M. H. EVANS, I. M. LONG; the first elevator owned and operated by I. M. LONG; HARRINGTON's blacksmith shop; T. BOLT's wagon shop; and D. SCLAPPIA's hotel. W. H. PALMER assumed a position as the station agent. The town of Borneo was renamed Delphos on November 18, 1880. Delphos quickly gained a reputation as being one of the cleanest and most circumspect towns in Ringgold County.

The 1899 census listed the population of Delphos as 128 townspeople. Businesses listed in the 1899 census included a shoe cobbler, Frank CROPPER's boarding house, Allen JACKSON's lumberyard; W. H. LAMB's sawmill; carpenters John NYE, John NAIL, R. BARKER, and Jacob BEAN; W. M. POOLE and son Trolley POOLE's blacksmith shop; Percy L. PRENTIS, M.D.; merchant J. S. STEDMAN and B. F. SEATON who clerked for Mr. STEADMAN and ran a huckster wagon; Samuel H. SEATON's drug store; Fannie F. STEDMAN who was a clerk for Mr. STEDMAN and Delphos' postmistress; George E. WRIGHT who was an insurance agent and notary public; and, Frank HILLHOUSE, station agent. Rev. P. N. LIDELL and Rev. George N. THOMPSON were United Evangelican ministers.

The first telphone was installed in George W. WRIGHT's residence in 1896. Within four years the telephone lines went from home to home. Delphos' telephone switchboard operators were Mrs. G. W. WRIGHT, Mrs. BAKER, Mamie BLUCK, Florence GOINS, Mrs. Grant HART, Mrs. Jess STEPHENS, Mary SWETT, Mrs. William GEIGER, Mrs. Cliff SHAUGHNESSY, Mrs. Katie WENDELL, Mrs. Marion SHELDON, Mrs. Claude HARTMAN, Mrs. O. D. MERCER, Mrs. Pauline BELL, and Mrs. Freddie RINNER. Mrs. Robert SAVILLE was the last operator when Delphos converted to a dial system in 1966.

Mike RUSH was the first post master, and he was succeeded by Franklin SEATON. Subsequent Delphos post masters were George WRIGHT, C. W. BAKER, Sara HUFFMAN, Fannie STEMAN, Ed GEIGER, Eva RICE, Fannie SEATON, Nettie SEATON, and Joseph SEATON, the last post master.

Four trains passed through Delphos every day, two freight trains and two passenger trains, one going each way. The freight train heading north passed through Delphos around noon. The crew would telegraph ahead, alerting the boarding house in Delphos as to how many would be ordering lunch that day. The station agent would relay the information to the boarding house. By the time the freight train arrived in Delphos and stopped on the main tracks, their lunch would be waiting for them at the boarding house.

The passenger train came through Delphos twice a day with the evening train arriving between 6 and 7 p.m. The conductor would take dinner orders from the passengers and telegraph the information on to the station agent. The orders would be packed into baskets at the boarding house and delivered to the depot. The returning train would bring the baskets, dishes, and silverware back the following morning.

Station agents who served at the Delphos depot include Frank HILLHOUSE, Ray BOWEN, Owen WHITLATCH, and Henry BURNETT.

After 65 years of service, the last train passed through Delphos in 1945.

The post office at Delphos was established in November of 1880, and discontinued in 1993.

Delphos' population was 100 in 1895. In the 2000 census Delphos had a population of 25.


Evening on the Farm, circa 1942
mural at Forest City, Iowa Post Office
artist, Orr C. FISHER, born 1885, Delphos, Iowa; died Fresno, California, 1974

Orr Cleveland FISHER was born on a farm near Delphos, Ringgold County, Iowa. He exhibited an interest in art at an early age, drawing with whatever implement was handy, even using his finger to draw figures in plow furrows. His formal art education was limited to correspondence courses in drawing, cartooning, design, and illustration and two periods of instruction at the Cumming School of Art, Des Moines, Iowa, in 1913 and later in 1921. Orr attended Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, drawing cartoons for the Drake DELPHIC and illustrating the University's annual QUAX in 1909. Orr hand-painted sofa pillows for college students and worked with J. N. "Ding" DARLING, cartoonist with the Des Moines Register

Orr was quite a talented man, obtaining a U.S., Canadian, and British patent on an automatic locomotive whistle. He worked for the Chicago Rock Island Railroad out of Allerton, Iowa, as a signal maintainer and contributed articles and cartoons to the Signal Engineers Magazine and Signalmen's Almanac. He drove a six-horse freight wagon as an overland teamster between Rock Springs and Boulder, Wyoming for a couple of years.

As a WPA artist, Orr painted murals in the U.S. Post Offices in Mount Ayr and Forest City, Iowa.

Orr painted wherever he lived and worked, and wherever he traveled. He exhibited in shows where he lived and usually joined the local art societies, winning prizes and ribbons from all over the United States. His last blue ribbon was won at a Society of Western Artists Show at Fashion Fair, Fresno, California - a portrait of J. N. "Ding" DARLING. This painting has been donated to the University Museums, Brunnier Gallery at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, by his niece Donna L. HOWARD.

Before moving to California in the 1960's, Orr built a studio in Woodstock, New York, and lived in that artist's colony for several years.

NOTE: Orr C. FISHER was paid $750 for his mural "Evening on the Farm.

Ringgold County History, Compiled and written by the Iowa Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Iowa, Sponsored by Ringgold County Superintendent of Schools, Mount Ayr, Iowa. 1942.

Delphos Centennial: 1880-1980

Compiled & Submitted by Sharon R. Becker, 2008


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