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HISTORY of KELLERTON, RINGGOLD COUNTY, IOWA

Kellerton.jpg
CB&Q Rail Road, Kellerton, Iowa
Courtesy of digital.lib.uiowa.edu/railraodinan

After the Kellerton depot was destroyed by a fire in 1934, The CB&Q Railroad replaced it with a coach car, intending it to serve as a temporary depot. R. N. REYNOLDS was the CB&Q agent in 1937 and retained that position until around 1942. In 1952, Phil F. TERRY was the CB&Q agent, retaining the position until May of 1954. Mr. TERRY then was employed by the railroad to transport mail to and from the post office. All other business transactions of the railroad would be conducted at Mount Ayr.

  With the arrival of Leon, Mount Ayr and Southwestern Railroad late in 1879, the town of Kellerton was established and officially incorporated in December of 1881. Kellerton was the first Ringgold County town to be platted by a railroad.

The town was named in honor of Judge Isaac W. KELLER (1828-1923), one of the leading Ringgold County citizens. Judge KELLER emigrated from Noble County, Ohio, settling in present-day Jefferson Township on June 10, 1855.

The site of Kellerton was purchased from Samuel and John TEDROW, high level ground where, on a clear day, one could see Mount Ayr to the west and Leon to the east. Three and a half miles to the north was an old buffalo wallow, about 20 feet deep. When the wallow filled with water, many pioneers used it as a swimming hole.

  The first passenger train came through Kellerton on September 22, 1879. J. Perry WILEY was the first agent of the Kellerton Depot.

The FOLEY Hotel, located less than one block from Kellerton's depot, was owned and operated by Timothy FOLEY (1868-1927) and his family in the early 1900's. It was later owned and operated by the McDONALD Family who re-named the establishment Hotel McDonald. The Kellerton Post Office was built on this lot in 1961.

The Kellerton Independent newspaper was established in 1883. The newspaper replaced The Kellerton Mentor which had been in publication since 1881.

Bert Allan BALLOU, born in Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa, in 1875, learned the newspaper business in his native town. In 1909, BALLOU purchased the Kellerton Globe, running the newspaper for the next 50 years. Upon his retirement at age 84, BALLOU sold the Globe to Jack and Helen TERRY in 1959. Bert Allan BALLOU died in 1960 with interment at Maple Row Cemetery, Kellerton. He is fondly remembered not only for his longevity in the business but for his use of antique printing equipment and utilizing hand-setting methods of printing.

 

 

  

  The last edition of the Kellerton Globe was published by Jack TERRY on May 25, 1961.

In 1895, A. H. TEALE (1852-1924) and W. W. PEASLEY (1853-1908) built a $6,000 brick and tile factory at Kellerton. Around the year 1886, several residents of the near-by hamlet of New Chicago [located approximately a mile south] moved to Kellerton. New Chicago became a ghost town.

From The Bulletin of Photography, Volume 13, of December 31, 1913, page 56, "James S. LOVELL (1874-1956) has equipped a photographic studio at Kellerton, Iowa."

On October 23, 1915, the first national horseshoe throwing championship was held in Kellerton, Iowa.

Two banks operating in Kellerton, Ringgold County Savings Bank and Kellerton State Bank, both located on Decatur Street, failed during the Great Depression. The Kellerton State Bank building has been converted into an apartment building.

Businesses that operated in Kellerton include Ralph DORN's Red Crown Service Station and Firestone tire dealership; F. E. GLEASON and H. C. GLEASON, funeral directors and licensed embalmers; G[ilbert]. E. TURNER (1874-1955), insurance agent; Dennis OWENS, auctioneer; SWAN and RHOADES Funeral Home; TREICHLER Bros. Lumber Company who sold the business to Paul DONEGBY of Kansas City in the fall of 1943; W. L. FRISBY & Company; KIMBLE's Shoe Repair; Osceola Rendering Service; TAGGART & MEADOWS Garage; CHANDLER Service; Kellerton Oil Company which was owned and operated for many years by the FUGATE family and held a grand opening of their new and modernized station on December 3, 1960; Kellerton Standard Service Station which have various owners over the years, namely Wayne TEALE, Gerald MILLS, George POWERS, and Shorty HARRIS from 1945 to the 1950's; dentist Dr. C. D. SCOTT; Dr. C. M. WALKER, physician and surgeon died at the age of 71 on March 2, 1945 and had provided 41 years of medical care for Kellerton's residents; R[alph]. W. JACKSON (1889-1943), veterinary surgeon; POLLARD'S Red & White Grocery Store which was in business until 1959; WHITSON'S Food Market, MEADOW'S Grocery; (Ted and Evelyn) NADEAU Grocery Store; MILLER'S Grocery Store; COLE'S GROCERY STORE; DRAKE'S Grocery Store, the Kellerton Locker which was owned by HUTSON and PRIEST; Jones Medicine Chest owned by Elizabeth and Kathryn JONES who sold the business to Helen GALBRAITH in April of 1943; Jerry and Morris GLEASON'S Hardware Store which was sold out in 1949; WHITE'S TV and Variety Store in the 1950's; GOLDNER Hardware Store which was purchased by Chet MUNYON and Charlie REED on May 18, 1961; plus many, many others.

 

 

* * * *

Twice-A-Week News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
November 12 & 19, 1915

F. W. TWAY has sold his store to Fred ARMSTRONG, proprietor of the bargain store, and gave possession Wednesday. Mr. ARMSTRONG will conduct the store for awhile and later consolidate the two stores. Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, November 21, 2015

* * * *

 

 

Click on thumbnail photo or the link to see an enlarged view of the photograph.
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Kellerton Depot

Livery Barn

Hotel McDonald

Kellerton Lunch Room

Kellerton Depot

West Side, Decatur Street

Kellerton Pagoda

Unknown Business

Barber Shop

Kellerton Oil Company

Kellerton Oil Company

Decatur Street, east side

Note the town pump

Looking south down
down west side Decatur St.
from railroad tracks

Aerial view of Kellerton

Theshing crew

Kellerton

Old Hotel

One of Kellerton's houses

Charlie & Kenton Reed
Kellerton Hardware Store

Fire Bell

The pagoda was placed over the town well and pump. The fire bell once was mounted on the fire tower. If a fire should break out, the bell was rung, sounding the alarm to firemen and residents. It is now mounted in front of city hall.

Kellerton Maps

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Kellerton, 1894

Kellerton, 1914

 

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, January 14, 2016, Page 10

By Mike Avitt

I saw this postcard hanging on the wall at Jamie's Coffee Mill and Jamie allowed me to scan it. This picture also appears on page 78 of the Kellerton Centennial Book but has no caption. This photo was taken from the roof of a large building, probably a livery barn, that sat where the Family Worship Center (formerly the Assembly of God Church) sits today. The view is looking northeast and I'd say dates to the 1912 - 1915 era.

The building on the right, with four windows on the side,is the Ringgold County Savings Bank. We can see the outhouse behind the bank and a shed next to it. Hopefully you can see the boards acting as a sidewalk from the bank to the outhouse, which reminds me of my grandparents' outhouse, as they had boards leading to their privy. The shed next door was probably a coal shed.

The bank building was constructed in 1901 and still stands today. The Ringgold County Bank ceased operations December 12, 1930

I can zoom in and see the lumber yard and the stockyards. The lumber yard was owned at this time by L. R. and R. O. Treichler. Treichler Bros. came from Orient and also owned the lumber yard at Ellston. They would have the Kellerton yard until, I believe, the 1930s. There is a history of the Treichler Bros. business in the July 28, 1927 Mount Ayr Record-News but I didn't have time to read it.

I found out by reading old newspapers that stockyards were problematic for any community. Animals escaping from pens was one problem, but there were others. Dead animals were seldom removed from pens in a timely manner and high heat meant a great deal of pumping or hauling water.

The Odd Fellows two-story brick building facing west was also built in 1901 and still stands today. The building south of it was burned down about ten years ago to make room for the new fire station/city hall building. We can also see the hotel across the street west of the Odd Fellows building. The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad station was across the street north of the hotel.

I see skylights on one building but I don't know how common they were. I've seen very few pictures that give a good view of rooftops, so this is an interesting photo. Thanks to Jamie Miller for this week's picture.

Photograph courtesey of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, May of 2016

Cafes which operated in Kellerton include Rosa's Cafe and White's Cafe. Cafe owners over the years include Arnold TAYLOR, Owen WEBB, Carrie JOHNSTON, Bertha HANKS, Neva and Roscoe MOSBARGER, Raymond L. BROOKS, and Rosemary CORLL.

Barbers who owned and operated a barbershop in Kellerton include VIRDEN and WHITE in the 1940's and 1950's, and W. E. WHEELER who sold his shop on October 1, of 1960 to Kenneth SMITH of Lamoni. W. E. WHEELER then purchased the Jess SKINNER barbershop in Mount Ayr on November 4th of 1960.

VREDENBURG and HYDE purchased their third Hy-Vee store in Kellerton in 1932. Charles HYDE lived in Kellerton for a while. E. C. VREDENBURG moved to Kellerton during the summer of 1937.

The Avon Theater was re-named the Tivoli Theater in the fall of 1946 and was owned by Bruce CARMICHAEL. In 1947 Mrs. Lillian LEUTY purchased the theater and re-named it The Star Theater. On September 9th of 1950, a fire erupted in the projection room. The theater re-opened in May of 1952 under the new name of Kellerton Theater.

In 1949, the DUFFIELD Bros. were forced to discontinue their milk delivery service due to the passage of new pasteurization laws. DUFFIELD Bros. could not afford to purchase the necessary equpment to meet the new standards.

Chet MUNYON sold MUNYON produce to Farmers Produce of Mount Ayr in 1960. Raymond L. BROOKS (1921-1982) bought GALBRAITH Feed Store on May 23, 1961. John Lloyd GALBRAITH (1896-1961) had owned owned and operated the feed store for many, many years. On April 28, 1958, he had sponsered a "one free chick day."

The Women's Christian Temperance Union was still meeting in Kellerton in 1939.

In September of 1939 the Burlington Transportation started running their buses through Kellerton. The southbound bus arrived at 7:19 a.m., and the northbound bus arrived at 7:41 p.m.

Luther COX won first prize in the corn-growing championship of Iowa, sponsored by DeKalb Hybrid Corn, in 1940. COX won a trophy for an average yield of 156.6 bushels per acre, a winning yield that was five times higher than the average 1939 yield. There were 10,000 farmers entered into the contest.

The Kellerton American Legion Post was organized on December 7, 1945, Ted DUFFIELD post commander and Dean JACKSON, vice-commander. The Legion assumed possession of their first building on May 8th of 1946, calling it Post No. 676. The building, located south of the fire station, was purchased from Lee E. BROWN.

The Kellerton Fire Department was organized on January 11, 1948. Officers were Harry SHANER, fire chief; Capt. MEADOWS, assistant fire chief; Lyle HOGUE, engineer; Francis VIRDEN, secretary; and, Shorty HARRIS, treasurer. The Fire Department purchased a new fire truck and other equipment in 1951 for $6,000.

Ringgold County extension director Milt HENDERSON and Archie MERRIT conducted a weed control demonstration in 1948 on the Nick CAMPBELL farm. HENDERSON and MERRIT showed the application of DDT. Transcriber's Note: DDT was banned in the 1970's. Milt HENDERSON was still active as an extension director in the 1960's and conducted many 4-H day camps of which I attended as a child and 4-H member.

Chiropractor Dr. CHANEY came to Kellerton in the 1950's and established an office.

On March 6th of 1952, the branch office of the Security State Bank of Mount Ayr was robbed. The thieves broke into the G. E. TURNER'S office during the night and blew the safe open with liquid explosives. The entire interior of the bank room was destroyed but none of the townspeople heard or were awakened by the blast. The thieves made off with $2,871 in cash. It isn't known if they were ever caught or not.

When Grand Valley Community School was consolidated, Kellerton elementary children and all the high school students attended classes at the Kellerton School building. Grand River elementary children and all the junior high school students attended classes at the Grand River school building. The rural FOLAND School was moved in from Richland Township, Decatur County, and utilized as a music room. Later, Grand Valley elementary students attended classes at the Grand River schoolhouse with junior and senior high students attending classes at the Kellerton schoolhouse. In the late 1990's Grand Valley Community Schools was dissolved with most of the Grand River students attending school in Leon and the Kellerton students attending school in either Mount Ayr or Lamoni. For a while, there was talk about the Kellerton schoolhouse being converted into a women's shelter for south central Iowa. The Grand River and Kellerton schoolhouses were demolished. The Kellerton gym remains as a community center. The original FOLAND school house was moved and is presently utilized as the town's museum. The music room at the Grand River school site (formerly the Brick schoolhouse) was moved across the street and is currently utilized as the town's museum.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 11, 2006

The big lot cleared in Kellerton for the new fire hall and city hall building is rapidly being filled with the new construction.

~ ~ ~ ~

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, June 29, 2006

The new Kellerton municipal building has become a focal point of the main street through town after being constructed on a lot cleared for it recently.

Ringgold Roots
Ringgold County Genealogical Society
January, 1981

RINGGOLD ROOTS SALUTES KELLERTON

By Leland Rex JACKSON

This quarter Ringgold Roots has selected the town of Kellerton, located in the extreme eastern part of Ringgold County, Athens Township, Iowa.

Kellerton sprang to life in the fall of 1879, being the results of the coming of the railroad, the Leon, Mount Ayr and Southwestern RR. The town of New Chicago, which was located from what is now the southeastern corner of Kellerton, one-half mile south. They believed that the rail would be closer to them, but, with advance knowledge a number of interested persons purchased the land on which Kellerton now stands and proceeded to lay out the city. One of which was J. L. PERKINS, a resident in the area.

Kellerton was named for a Ringgold County judge, Isaac W. KELLER. When this had all taken place, it left the residents of New Chicago with little choice, if they wanted the services of the railroad, but to move. This they did. Buildings, lock, stock and barrel.

It is to Frank RHOADES, who is credited with the first store building in Kellerton, being built in the midst of an oat and corn field. The Kellerton post office came into being on October 23, 1879, and by the end of the first season there were about 170 residents in the new community.

In December 1881, the qualified voters were to choose whether to incorporate or not, and on the third day of that month a vote of 40 ballots were cast, 37 yea and three nay. It is in 1981 that Kellerton Centennial Committe has chosen for celebrating the town's 100 birthday. At the writing of this article the committee is planning several events by bringing friends and neighbors together for a short time recalling their inherited past.

A memorial book is in the making, though not all will be mentioned, it will serve as a stepping stone to many ancestors who pioneered this land.

Celebration dates are May 30-31 and August 8-9. Several souvenirs are to be presented, namely, a commemorative plate, spoon, button pins, and etc.

Mr. Norman Millard directing the Kellerton Band
Beverlee Barnes on sax (right side), Ron Rainey & Jim Ethington behind Bev, Barry Walker (?),
beside them, James Sissel on percussion.
submission by Ken Baker; photograph courtesy of Nancy Wicker Grose

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, September 26, 1991

The Kellerton community, with the cooperation of those in neighboring towns, combined to make the Septemberfest '91 event September 21 a success. Neighbors came to support the different events and also contributed some prizes.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2016

The population of Kellerton was 750 residents in 1894. The 2000 census population of Kellerton was 372.

The Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, June 11, 2015, Page 10.

Kellerton Shelter houses get new roofs

The Kellerton Volunteer Fire Department and several local citizens installed new roofs on the shelter houses at the Kellerton City Park last Saturday. Materials for the project were purchased by the department and by local residents.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015; updated May of 2016

SOURCES:
The Mount Ayr Record-News, Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa. April 19, 2007; June 21 - July 19, 2007; June 11, 2015.

AVITT, Mike. Pages and Pictures from the Past . . . Ringgold County, Iowa: 1885-2005 Pp. 77, 80-83. Paragon Publications, Inc. Mount Ayr, Iowa. 2009.

Written & submitted by Sharon R. Becker, 2008; updated October & November of 2015; updated May of 2016


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