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Town Museums, Genealogical and
History Archives, Centennial Books


There is a small museum and genealogical center housed in the back of the Benton Community Center. Benton School's trophies and class composite photographs are on display. There are photographs of Benton families, Benton School annuals, plat maps and atlases. The community center is open by appointment. It is also open every 2nd Saturday of the month from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for the town's Breakfast for Supper during which biscuits and gravy, ham, eggs, pancakes, and sausage are served for the price of a free-will donation.


The First Baptist Church of Delphos was constructed in 1921, using materials from the Maloy Baptist Church which was being torn down at this time. The bell behind the Delphos Church came from Maloy's Church. The cornerstone of Delphos' First Baptist Church was laid on November 7, 1921. Dedication Day was on Sunday, May 14, 1922. There haven't been any services at the church for some time.

There is a mini-museum housed within the First Baptist Church of Delphos. The little museum includes a post office display, trophies won by Delphos high school teams, and photograph albums. Marilyn JOHNSON and Viriginia STEPHENSON are working to turn the church into a museum. They have applied for a grant which was denied. Marilyn and Virginia work with what they have and would appreciate donations of Delphos items. The museum is open by appointment.
Contact: Marilyn JOHNSON (641) 785-2358  Virginia STEPHENSON (641) 785-2317

Some of Delphos High School's Trophies

The Diagonal Progress

Patty NEWTON, editor and publisher
505 Jefferson Street, Diagonal, Iowa 50845
Phone: (641) 734-5507  Cell: (641) 344-5599  Fax: (641) 734-5002


100 E. 1st Street, Diagonal, Iowa

The Mergenthaler linotype which editor and owner of The Diagonal Reporter Thomas WAFFLE purchased in 1924 is still in operating conditon, housed on the first floor of the museum. Other smaller presses are on display along with cases of hand type and a Chandler-Price hand-fed press.

The second floor of the museum houses several displays, including items of the Bohemian settlers and residents of Ringgold County. Several items from Diagonal Community School and World War I uniforms are also on display.

Also housed on the second floor of the museum is a diorama of the town of Knowlton. The diorama was created from photographs of the town.

Hours for Diagonal Printing Museum are from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The museum is also open by appointment, phone (515) 734-5540. Admission is free but donations are appreciated. Betty Jo RUBY will conduct genealogical research. She may be reached at the following address:  202 Adams Street, Diagonal, Iowa 50845-1001


Main Street, Ellston, Iowa

The Elihue and Emeline CORNWALL home on Main Street in Ellston has been converted into a pioneer museum. Housed inside the museum are articles relating to pioneer life, some history and genealogical materials, and the Holland FOSTER diorama of Caledonia, now a Ringgold County ghost town. Also on the grounds are the Hazel Glen School and the Pioneer Museum and National Old Thresherman's Hall of Fame, housed in the former Ellston Telephone Manufacturing building.

Ringgold County Pioneer and Rural Life Museum is open on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. from June through August. It is also open by appointment. Phone: (641) 783-2155  Fax: (641) 464-2568. There is an admission fee.


Main Street, Kellerton, Iowa

The Foland School was a rural school located in Richland Township of Decatur County, Iowa, approximately 5 miles northeast of Grand River. It was re-located on the schoolgrounds at Kellerton and utilized as a band and chorus room for Grand Valley Community Schools. With the closing of the school in the 1990's, the little one-roomed schoolhouse was moved uptown along main street to be converted into a museum for the Kellerton and Grand Valley Community School.

The collection includes Grand Valley's trophies, class composite photographs of Kellerton and Grand Valley Schools, Tomahawk and Tiger Rag annuals, artifacts and school memoriabilia.

Open by appointment only. Contact Kathy STILL or Jan HOLMES, 103 W. 9th Avenue, Kellerton, Iowa 50133   Phone: (641) 783-2123  Donations greatly appreciated.


The Ringgold County Historical Society was formed in 1939. The first Ringgold County museum was housed on the second floor of the courthouse. Some artifacts remain housed here.

To request vital and military records, land titles and deeds, contact:

Ringgold County Court House
Recorder's Office
109 W. Madison, P. O. Box 523
Mount Ayr, Iowa 50854-1651
Phone: (641) 464-3231  Fax: (641) 464-2568


A Carnegie Library, Mount Ayr's Public Library was built in 1916 on the former A. INGRAM store lot. The library's collections include:

  • Local, county & other county histories
  • Family histories and genealogies
  • BANNER, Raymond V. Cemetery Gravestone Recordings of Ringgold County, Iowa
        A project of and published by Ringgold County Historical Society, 2003
  • LESAN, Mrs. B. M. Early History of Ringgold County: Centennial History of Mount Ayr 1875-1975
  • KNUDSON, Ruth BLANCHARD American Pilgrimage for LESANS, BLANCHARDS,
        and SWEARINGEN, 1974
  • CORBIN, Bernard & HARDY, Joseph
        Across Iowa on the Keokuk & Western and the Humeston & Shenandoah Railroads
  • Ringgold County atlas, plat maps & plat maps of other counties
  • Ringgold County federal census 1860-1920
  • Oral history collections
  • Various county church records (1800-1924)
  • Bohemian settlers, 1856-1900
  • ZARUBA family records 1864-1900
  • Randolph S. BEALL Ringgold County directories 1896 & 1899
  • Miscellaneous cassette tapes of old-timer interviews

  • Ringgold County Newspapers, microfilmed:
        Ringgold Record (1872-1908)
        Twice-a-Week News (1892-1907)
        Mount Ayr Journal (1893-1920)
        Kellerton Globe (1894-1907)
        Mount Ayr Record News (1908-1989)
        Redding Herald (1915-1919; 1926-1947)
        Redding Rustler & Redding Register (1901 and 1906)
        Shannon City Messenger (1915-1918)
        Diagonal Reporter (1918-1972)
        Tingley Vindicator (1903-1948)
        Ringgold County "Old Timers" Bulletin (1930-1946)

  • Vital Statistics and Resources:
        Register of marriages 1855-1912
        Birth records (index 1880-1897)
        County death records (index 1880-1897)
        Marriage records (index 1880-1913)
        Index to wills 1858-1880
        Gravestone records 1800-1930
        Cemetery records
        Ringgold County obituary collection

    NOTE: These items are not available for check out or interlibrary loan, but are available for reference at the library.
    Photocopies are 25-cents a page with capability of copying on both sides of the page.
    Donations are welcome.

    Mount Ayr Public Library Hours:
    1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday
    10:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday
    10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday
    Closed on Sundays

    Mount Ayr Public Library
    121 W. Monroe St., Mount Ayr, IA 50854
    Phone: (641) 464-2159


    North Taylor Street, Mount Ayr, Iowa

    It is believed that Mount Ayr's depot was build in the 1870's when the railroad arrived in 1879. Around the year 1916 the depot was completely remodeled with tiled floors and a stucco exterior. The CB&Q Railroad closed the depot in 1968. The depot was purchased in 1991 when restoration began on the building with the intent of converting it into a museum. There are several collections housed in the museum which include John Earl "Barney" HORNE scrapbook of Ringgold County newspaper clippings and the Lena SAVILLE collection. The walls are lined with framed photographs of historical significance to Ringgold County and Mount Ayr.

    The Mount Ayr Depot Museum is open by appointment only, or on special days, such as Ayr Days, Memorial Day, Hobo Supper (4th Friday in June). Contacts for the Depot Museum are Bob & Kay SICKELS (641) 464-2450, Bill & Thelma RUSK (641) 464-3564, Jake DAILEY (641) 464-2431, Doris RULE (641) 464-3687


    The Mount Ayr Record-News is available on-line.

    Publications that are available from Mount Ayr Record-News are:

  • Kellerton Iowa: A History to 1981 (1881 - 1981)
        $15.00 + Iowa State Tax + shipping and postage

  • Redding Iowa: the First 100 Years (1882 - 1982)
        $15.00 + Iowa State Tax + shipping and postage

  • Ellston Iowa: A Century of Memoris (1881 - 1981)
        $15.00 + Iowa State Tax + shipping and postage

  • Mount Ayr: A Centennial History (1875 - 19751)
        $6.00 + Iowa State Tax + shipping and postage

  • Ringgold County Honor Roll of Distinguised Citizens, 1976
        $5.00 + Iowa State Tax + shipping and postage

  • Mount Ayr Iowa Centennial Cook Book: Commenorating A Century of Kitchen Artistry
         (1875 - 1975)  $5.00 + Iowa State Tax + shipping and postage

  • AVITT, Mike Pages and Pictures from the Past . . . Ringgold County, Iowa:
        1885-2005, 2009.  $20.00 + Iowa State Tax + shipping and postage

    The Record-News is capable of conducting electronic transactions.

    Mount Ayr Record-News
    122 W. Madison St., Mount Ayr, IA 50854
    Phone: (641) 464-2440
    Hours: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

    201 E. Monroe Street, Mount Ayr, Iowa

    There are some historical documents in the James L. PEDERSEN collection at the Old Ringgold County Jail.

    A very special thank you to Mike Avitt who served as my tour guide. Without his help this 'nugget' page would not have been possible.

    Photographs and submission by Sharon R. Becker, August of 2009

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