Formation of Ringgold County
Eighmie School Photo contributed by Sharon R. Becker
From 1834 to 1836, the area that would become Ringgold County was technically a part of Des Moines County and was
governed under the Territoral Governor of Wisconsin. When the Territory of Iowa was organized and for several years
afterward, the region remained undesignated, unsurveyed, and unsettled.
The first settlers in the county were Charles Schooler and his wife. Two years later, in 1846, the James Tetherow family settled nearby. The 2 families believed they were living in Missouri until the disputed territory on the southern boundary was surveyed and awarded to Iowa in 1850. This dispute [Honey War] arose in consequence of 2 surveys, having been made of the boundary line between the 2 states.
Ringgold County was established in 1847 and organized in 1855.
In 1847 the boundaries were established and the county was named
after Major Samuel Ringgold, a hero of the Battle of Palo Alto during the Mexican-American War. It is one of the 26 Iowa counties which has a name not borne by any other county in the United States.
Ringgold County was temporarily attached to Taylor County, then to the newly organized Decatur County. The General Assembly
by an act approved on February 4, 1851 a commission consisting of John W. Ellis and Reasoner Wilkinson of Davis County,
and W. B. Notson of Decatur County to locate and establish a county seat for Ringgold County. The commission located and
set a stake about four miles south of the center of Ringgold County and named the site Urbana, the new county seat. Because
the area had not been surveyed, the commission could not provide a more accurate description of this site.
Because there was not a sufficient population, this first attempt to organize Ringgold County failed. Evidently the stake
designating the site of Urbana was lost to the southern Iowa prairie. No one to this day knows exactly where urbana
Those who did reside in what would become Ringgold County discussed the situation and in a form of a
caucus fixed on a site located on Jesse THOMPSON'S land, four miles south and a little to the east of the present-day
site of Mount Ayr. They named the site Avon.
At this time, most of the population resided in the southern part of
On January 5, 1855, the State Legislature approved an act to appoint another commission to locate
a county seat. The commissioners were George W. Jones, Robert W. Stafford, and George A. Hawley. Joel Chambers, acting as
Justice of the Peace in Schooler Township of Ringgold County, swore in the commissioners. On April 18th, 1855,
since there wasn't a county judge, the commissioners filed their report to the Decatur County judge which identified
Mount Ayr as the county seat.
The Taylor County judge ordered that Ringgold County be a separate election precinct,
called Schooler Township and that the voting site of the upcoming U.S. Presidential election be held at the home of
Lott Hobbs. Lott Hobbs' home was located in the southern part of the county near what was called Lotts Creek in his honor.
Charles Harrison Schooler, Abner Smith and Jesse Harper were appointed as judges of this election.
Schooler was elected as Justice of the Peace; Lott Hobbs as constable of Schooler Township and as supervisor of roads.
Littleton P. Allen was elected as a commissioner to locate a road from the Iowa-Missouri state line going across the
county in a northeastern dirction.
John S. Sheller of Lucas County owned the land on which Mount Ayr would be located.
He executed a bond to convey to the county the east half of the quarter section, giving him one half of the town lots
and the county the other half. The bond was for $2,000 and the conditions were to convey the aforesaid land to Ringgold
County. The deed was executed and delivered before May 1, 1855. Mr. Sheller agreed to have the surveying done at his
own expense and gave a bond of $100 for the purpose.
On June 9, 1855, the deed was delivered to Ringgold County,
attested by Edward A. Temple and Jane E. Temple in the usual form by the clerk of the district court of Lucas County.
During the latter part of June, 1855, William McCormick surveyed and plotted Mount Ayr according to plans furnished
by Mr. Sheller and Judge James C. Hagans.
Ringgold County was organized on May 14, 1855, with William N. McEfee
as organizing sheriff, taking his oath of office before Joel Chambers.
Judges of the organizing election were
J. P. David Enyart, L. S. Terwilliger and William Lovewell. James W. Cofer and Andrew McBride were appointed as
clerks of the election.
Thirty-four men cast their votes at the organizing election. They were as follows:
William Barber, Hiram Imus, John A. Lesan Sr., Rebuen Morris, Nathaniel Curtis, Alex. S. Wiley, Stewart Barber,
Joseph A. Stratton, Joel Chambers, Jacob Case, Thomas Lovewell, James Tetherow, Thomas Hughes, Charles Harrison
Schooler, Mathew B. Brown, John Summers, Henry Rowlan, Wendell Poor, Ephriam Cofer, Solomon Lovewell, E. L. Soles,
Henry Snyder, Elon Imus, William Shoemaker, JohnTayler, Peter Doze, James C. Hagans, James W. Cofer, Henry Boston,
Henry Miller, William Lovewell, David Enyart, Levi Stockwell Terwilliger Sr., and A. S. McBride.
The result of
the election was:
James C. Hagans, county judge
Mathew B. Brown, district clerk
James W. Cofer, treasurer and recorder
Hiram Imus, sheriff
Charles Harrison Schooler, school fund commissioner
The first regular election was held in
August of 1855 with the following results:Judge James C. Hagans, county judge, re-elected
James W. Cofer, treasurer and recorder, re-elected
Peter Doze, sheriff
Wendell Poor, school fund commissioner