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Monroe Township, Ringgold County, Iowa

James Andrew DRAKE arrived in Ringgold County in 1855 where he purchased land in Section 7 of Monroe Township. James returned to Pennsylvania, marrying Mary Ellen "Mollie" HINDS on Christmas Day of 1855. In 1856, James returned to Ringgold County with his bride and purchased additional land in Section 7 of Monroe Township.

The neighbors helped James and Mollie construct a two-room log cabin and a shelter for their livestock. One of the log cabin rooms became the first store in the area. James frequently made trips to Ottumwa, purchasing goods for his store. Located on the Dragoon Trace, an early trail through Ringgold County, James' store attracted business from strangers passing by, locals living in the area, and Indians.

Several years later, James, Mollie, and their three sons moved to their new farmstead located two miles west of the store. Alexander BLACKMORE (1839-1897) purchased the DRAKE store, hence the name BLACKMORE Corner - or BLACKMORE.

Dutch LEVI built a house and a store across the road east of the Blackmore/Drake store. This site would become the permanent location of the Blackmore store.

LEVI sold the store to Mr. McCLARY, and soon afterward the building was destroyed by a fire. Mr. WADDEL, who had moved a schoolhouse to the location, bought out Mr. McCLARY's business and started up another store on the site. BLACKMORE bought out Mr. WADDELL but later sold it to George BRADFORD, who in turn sold the store to J. O. MILLER in 1886. Locals believe that the store ultimately closed in 1895.

Blackmore had a post office in operation from 1880 to 1895.

The Oliver Cemetery in south central Section 8 was the nearest cemetery. The closest church was High Point Methodist Episcopal Church, located in the southeast corner of Section 12, Liberty Township, one mile west of Blackmore.

NOTE: James Andrew DRAKE was born February 22, 1832, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, and died May 24, 1868. Mary Ellen "Mollie" (HINDS) DRAKE was born in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, on June 23, 1838, and died in Ringgold County, Iowa on November 28, 1921. James and Mollie were interred at Johnston Cemetery near Kellerton, Ringgold County, Iowa. James and Mollie's known children were:

1) John Postlethwaite DRAKE, 1856-1935
2) Thomas Andrew DRAKE, 1858-1945
3) Willis Edmond DRAKE, 1864-1955
4) Minnie Montana DRAKE, 1866-1878

S. L. THOMPSON wrote in 1914:

I think perhaps in the seventies a peddler known as "Dutch Levi," who had been engaged with a team and wagon in selling dry goods and notions over the county, decided to start a grocery and dry goods store at the Blackmore corners. He bought a building site of Alec BLACKMORE and erected a store building. He was not as successful in running a store as he had been as a peddler so he sold out to D. M. McCLEARY. A blacksmith shop was built near by and we were granted a post office called Blackmore, receiving mail twice a week. Dr. LOCK (sic, Dr. Frank S. LOCKE) located here and enjoyed a splendid practice.

The store burned down one night and a Mr. WADDEL came from Missouri and bought an old school house an moved it to the site of the former store and began business. The goods were hauled from either Leon or Afton and WADDEL went to Afton to restock and came back and reported that he had in some way lost his money, $1,300, which he had taken with him to buy goods.

Geo. BRADFORD, an eastern man, then embarked in the mercantile business by buying a small stock and building from WADDELL. He made a success of the business for a number of years, but an unfortunate speculation in corn and other things gave him a downward start from which he never recovered; in fact, he lost all that he had.

J. O. MILLER secured the building and put in a stock and put his father in charge. For a number of years they carried on the store, and receiving a liberal patronage, did well. But J. O.'s father concluded to go back east and as Mr. MILLER's farm demanded his attention, he closed out the stock and the career of the Blackmore store ended.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
July 21, 1977

The Blackmore Corner
Community in Monroe Twp.

By E. B. HEATON as written in 1872
with interpretive remarks by Charles P. BENNETT

Our history, as we promised, will be rather rambling in its construction yet these need not detract from its interest - rather may add to the welcome it may received in various parts of the county. This week we find ourselves in one of the eastern townships of the country - a township with perhaps rather more area of arable land than the majority of townships due to the fact that less streams are to be found at its surface than other parts.

This locality that we first describe is familiarly known as Prairie View and is one of the oldest communities in the county. The first settlers were Isaac OLIVER and James A. DRAKE who located here in the spring of 1855.

Mr. DRAKE improved this farm now owned by Alex BLACKMORE and his father but subsequent to this sale he died leaving a widow and children. His son, John P. was the first white child born in Monroe twp.

This was known at first as Sand Creek Twp. In a subsequent division it was designated as East Fork and when formed by congressional lines it received its present name which transpored, we believe, in 1867.

This farm owned by Alex BLACKMORE is well improved and consists of 160 acres, a nice residence, a barn and a first-rate orchard which for its age is very productive of most excellent fruit. A large amount of hedge is on the place and also a beautiful young grove. At the S.E. corner two well traveled roads cross running along section lines.

Although this is a very desirable farm (Larry FORDS live here now). South of this place, across the road, is the farm of Wellington LONG. It consists of 80 acres all under improvement, a frame house, thrifty young orchard and osage hedge. Mr. LONG has lived here some 13 years and during the rebellion bore arms in defense of his country (Cecil DOLECHECKS live here). His brother, Lewis LONG, lives across the road on the east on a farm of 160 acres, half of which is under fence. The house is frame and substantial. He has 100 rods of osage and 80 rods of will. Mr. LONG also served as a soldier and is one of our most respected citizens having filled the office of Justice of the Peace and has also been County Supervisor. (Ivan DOLEHECKS live here now.)

North of Alex BLACKMORE is the farm of his father, Samuel BLACKMORE, which is 80 acres in size. His house is better than the average and the barn is most excellent. Mr. BLACKMORE is by trade a blacksmith and can occasionally be found at work in his shop.

Prairie View school house is across the road from this place. The school has an attendance of 50. The M.E. church has started services here every 3 weeks. This forms a part of the Caledonia Circuit. Rev. MORROW is pastor.

It may be well in passing to note that at the first election in these parts in 1855 but 3 votes were cast, whereas now in Monroe township alone there are about 70 voters registered.

The farm on which the school house stands is owned by Mr. Robert CARNEY and consists of about 40 acres, all improved. Mr. CARNEY is noted for owning a premium stallion which at the last county fair was but two years old and weighed 1210 pounds. With the exception of this farm which is all new, all that we have described has splendid young groves of forest trees which are lifting their heads toward the sun and are courting admiration.

N.W. of Samuel BLACKMORE;S is the farm of another son, Samuel C. BLACKMORE, which is 80 acres in size and all cultivated. Mr. BLACKMORE has 320 rods of willow hedge, the greater proportion of which is doing duty as a fence. (Wilbur LAYS, we believe, now live here.)

The last three farms mentioned are without orchards which is somewhat singular when they have an occular demonstrating of the profit and pleasure there is in raising fruit as the luscious apples grown by Alex BLACKMORE. Indeed we inquire what men are thinking of to persist in purchasing apples when they can, in a few years, have all the peannans and winesaps they can desire with so little trouble and expense.

Continuing north up the road from Mr. CARNEY'S at a distance of one-half a mile we arrive at the farm of Mr. Robert GEASLING. This is 80 acres, half of which is improved. Mr. GEASLING has planted a young orchard and 80 rods of osage. Adjoining this farm at the north is the farm of C. E. ZWICK, also 80 acres and also improved. He has 160 rods of osage and a nice young orchard. Around his house is a young grove of cottonwood, maple, Lombardy poplar, mulberry trees and service bushes.

Mr. ZWICK has a snug little frame house and keeps things around him in good shape. The farm joining Mr. ZWICK on the north belongs to Thomas BEADLE and is 120 acres in size and in cultivation.

(The ZWICK, BEADLE, and GEASLING land is now, I believe, owned by the DERSCHEID family.)

Mount Ayr Record-News, Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa. July 21, 1977.

Mount Ayr Record-News, Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa. September 15, 2005.

AVITT, Mike. Pages and Pictures from the Past . . . Ringgold County, Iowa: 1885-2005 p. 46. Paragon Publications, Inc. Mount Ayr, Iowa. 2009.

Reprinted in Ringgold Roots Vol. V. p. 19. Mount Ayr, Iowa. October, 1984.

WPA Graves Survey

Compilation and note by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2009; updated May of 2010


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