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Shelby County


1889 History Index

Biographical History of Shelby and Audubon Counties
History of Shelby County, Iowa



This is a small village, situated on section 9, township 78, range 39, in the civil township of Fairview. It is the only station on the Harlan branch of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad between Harlan and Avoca, being about six miles south from the former named place. It is surrounded by one of the finest agricultural portions of Shelby County. Its early history is as follows: Thomas McDonald, who afterward served two terms as county treasurer of Shelby County, was a soldier during the civil war, and in 1868 he, together with comrades named James Casey, D. E. Corley, Oen Curren and another gentleman, purchased six hundred acres of land in this vicinity, all in one tract. Later, through various deals, the whole became the property of Mr. McDonald. He was a man of much influence and great public spirit, being one of the prime movers in inducing the Rock Island Railroad Company to construct their Harlan branch, which was completed December 1, 1878. Mr. McDonald purchased and cultivated 250 acres of his land, commencing in 1868; yet he resided in Harrison County until 1873, when he moved his family to the homestead which they still occupy. He opened the first general store in January, 1881. He was also the first postmaster, having obtained an office as early as 1878. Unfortunately for his family and the people of his county and town, Mr. McDonald was suddenly called from earth, dying at the noontide of manhood, aged thirty-eight years. After his death his wife was appointed postmistress until 1884, when she resigned in favor of Mr. Albers, the present incumbent. Mrs. McDonald had twenty-two acres of her husband's landed estate platted in June, 1883, the same being now known as Corley on the plat books. The general store opened by Mr. McDonald, and later controlled by his widow, was finally wold to Albers & Thompson, which after awhile passed into the hands of Mr. Albers, who continued until 1886 and then closed out and opened another general store on the opposite side of the railroad track, where he is still engaged and keeps the post-office. Charles Vogt opened a general store in February, 1888.

The first to deal in grain at Corley was Willard Noble, who was manager for a Mr. Somes, of Amboy, Illinois. The business then went into the hands of Noble Brothers, who finally sold to Hodson & Hancock. Another elevator firm who came when the place was new is Weise & Severs. They built an elevator in April, 1888.

F. M. Gillispie sold the first lumber in the fall of 1882. It is now handled by the Green Bay Lumber Company, who took the business in 1886.

D. Rickson erected a boarding house and saloon in 1883, and still conducts the boarding house, the saloon business going with the advent of the prohibitory law!

As a shipping point there are but few towns in Shelby County, if any, that handle more grain and live-stock than does Corley. It being quite near to the county seat (Harlan) the place has never grown much, farmers depending on it only for staple articles.

According to the county plat book this place was platted by the Western Town Lot Company, August 21, 1884, and was called "Rochdale," but the post-office name, as well as railroad station, is known as Botna. It is simply a flag station on the Kirkman branch of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. There is a post-office and one general store; the proprietor, S. B. Fritz, also buys grain and stock. Its geographical location is the east quarter of the southeast quarter of section 3, township 81, range 37.

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Transcribed by Cheryl Siebrass, August, 2015 from "Biographical History of Shelby and Audubon Counties", Chicago: W. S. Dunbar & Co., 1889, pg. 291-292.

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