Among the numerous new towns which sprang into existence on the completion of the Kansas City division of the Rock Island Railroad was the one to which this chapter is devoted. This village was made to order, as it were. The railroad authorities decided to make a station about this distance from Lineville, and accordingly secured 160 acres of land, to be sold in lots at a considerable advance over cost. Judge Aller, of Leavenworth, one of the magnates of the road, also secured 160 acres here, and it was agreed that he and the railroad company should be partners in the profitable scheme of building a town to be called “Aller town,” or, for short, Allerton.
The railroad was completed here in the latter part of 1870, and the first train to pass through Wayne County arrived March 29, 1871. Early that year John Howard built the first house, a dwelling which has since been moved on Central avenue, and is still used as a residence. Peter Vote put up the first store, north of the railroad track, and the building is now used as a carpenter shop. Andrew Hohner came next and erected a bakery. The building is now used as a blacksmith and machine shop.
Other early arrivals were Chambers Bros., who started a lumber yard, and put in Peter Martin as manager, they being non-residents; I. H. Meekins & Co., who put up a building still used for mercantile purposes, and brought in the first general stock of merchandise; George McLain, who put up the first hotel, calling it the McLain Hotel, and Elijah Ferrell, who erected a business house that is now used for a grocery.
At the end of the first year there were probably more than 200 people located here. The railroad had made a “boom” for the place by extensively advertising it, and village lots were held at fabulous prices. Indeed, they were higher in 1872 than at any time since. A reaction came, but it can only be called a depression by comparing the period with that of the first excitement. At no time has the village lost ground. After the first rush matters settled down to a steady, quiet but prosperous basis, and more permanent improvements were made. The growth of Allerton was slow in 1872 and 1873, but the next year witnessed a very perceptible improvement. Nearly the entire south half of the county now began to desire a removal of the county seat to Allerton, and in response to an expressed desire to vote on the question, the matter of removal was submitted to the voters of the county at the general election of 1874.
The result of the election, after an active canvass by the friends of both places, was as follows: Corydon, 1,467; Allerton, 927; majority for Corydon, 540. Though this was decisive for the time being, the people of Allerton still hoped to gain this prize at some future time, and they retained these hopes until the friends of Corydon secured for that place a railroad, thus destroying all hopes of a removal.
In the same year, 1874, Allerton was made an incorporated town. Proceedings were begun at the August term of the Circuit Court, when the following petition was presented, signed by forty-seven resident voters:
“To the Honorable the Circuit Court of the State of Iowa in and for Wayne County:
“In conformity to chapter Ten, of Title Nine, of the Code of Iowa, We the undersigned, being qualified resident electors of the territory to be embraced, do respectfully petition the court that the town of Allerton, situated on and including the east one-half of the northeast quarter of section number ten (10), and the west one-half of the northwest quarter of section eleven (11); the first addition to the town of Allerton, situated on the southeast quarter of the southeast quarter, and east half of the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 3, and east half of west half of northeast quarter of section 10; the second addition, situated on southwest quarter of the southwest quarter and west half of southeast quarter of southwest quarter of section 2; the west one-half of the east one-half of the northwest quarter of section 11, all in Warren Township (68) sixty-eight, range twenty-two (22) west of the fifth principal meridian, in the county of Wayne and State of Iowa, as will more fully appear by referring to the town plat hereto annexed, marked Exhibit ‘A,’ and made part of this petition, be incorporated and known by the name of Allerton.
“Said town is not embraced in the limits of any incorporated town or city, and contains 394 inhabitants by actual enumeration, taken on the 23rd day of July, A. D. 1874, by John L. McKamy, the correctness of which is subscribed and sworn to by him and marked Exhibit ‘B,’ annexed to and made part of this petition.”
The court appointed C. R. Wright, J. P. Hartman, Peter Martin, I. H. Meekins and W. H. H. Rogers commissioners to hold an election to decide for or against incorporation. The election was held October 1, and resulted in forty-nine votes for incorporation and three against. Soon after, an election was held for town officers, with the following result: J. P. Hartman, Mayor; W. H. H. Rogers, Recorder; M. S. Lancaster, C. R. Wright, C. F. LeCompte, J. W. Fletcher and T. P. Walden, Councilmen. The officers selected for each year since have been:
1875.-- Mayor, A. N. Higley; Recorder, M. S. Lancaster; Treasurer, J. D. Coddington; Street Commissioner, J. . McKamy; Councilmen, J. W. Fletcher, L. H. Rankin, J. W. Howard, A. Foss and Greenberry Wilson.
1876.—Mayor, Samuel Wright; Recorder, H. V. Nichols; Treasurer, A. C. Reck; Street Commissioner, William B. King; Councilmen, C. R. Wright, P. M. Phillips, G. M. Gillett, W. H. Gobel and D. F. Scott.
1877.—Mayor, A. N. Higley; Recorder, H. H. Dean; Treasurer, Ed. Dale; Marshal, A. Foss; Councilmen, P. M. Phillips, C. C. Somerville, J. W. Fletcher, R. W. Sharp and J. W. Rankin.
1878.—Mayor, C. R. Wright; Recorder, J. S. Nichols; Councilmen, W. H. Robinson, Ed. Dale, C. P. Wright, J. B. Vaughn and George F. Knerr.
1879.—Mayor, A. M. Burton; Recorder, J. S. Nichols; Treasurer, B. K. Hay; Assessor, C. J. Momyer; Councilmen, C. C. Somerville, George F. Knerr, M. B. Caldwell, J. B. Vaughn, James Marks and Samuel Wright.
1880.—Mayor, A. M. Burton; Recorder, George M. Finley; Treasurer, Ed. Reck; Assessor, Elias Marks; Street Commissioner, Joe Evans; Councilmen, C. C. Somerville, C. J. Momyer, C. F. LeCompte, M. B. Caldwell, J. B. Vaughn and George F. Knerr.
1881.—Mayor, A. N. Higley; Recorder, George M. Finley; Treasurer, W. K. Kelsey; Assessor, F. C. Swiggett; Street Commissioner, Joe Evans; Councilmen, E. Marks, J. M. Williams, J. W. Fletcher, W. H. Goble, C. C. Somerville and J. B. Vaughn.
1882.—Mayor, D. D. Shirley; Recorder, H. W. Miller; Treasurer, George M. Finley; Assessor, F. C. Swiggett; Street Commissioner, Joe Evans; Councilmen, J. S. Nichols, J. H. Hurt, S. M. McCoy, William D. Fletcher, W. H Goble and J. M. Williams.
1883.—Mayor, D. D. Shirley; Recorder, M. Young; Treasurer, J. W. Fletcher; Street commissioner, W. A. Wright; Councilmen, A. M. Higley, W. D. Fetcher, P. M. Phillips, S. Rinehart, and W. H. Goble.
1884.—Mayor D. D. Shirley; Recorder, M. Young; Treasurer, J. W. Fletcher; Street Commissioner, Sam T. Shields; Assessor, F. C. Swiggett; Councilmen, Levi Ormsby, S. M. McCoy, W. D. Fletcher, P. M. Phillips, S. Rinehart and A. N. Higley.
1885.—Mayor, Robert Barber; Recorder, M. Young; Treasurer, J. W. Fletcher; Street Commissioner, Sam T. Shields; Councilmen, J. A. Alexander, H. A. Lewis, P. M. Phillips, S. M. McCoy, A. N. Higley and S. Rinehart.
1886.—Mayor, W. P. Park; Recorder, M. Young; Assessor, Lewis Rankin; Treasurer, T. J. Morgan; Street Commissioner, Sam T. Shields; Councilmen, W. L. Bullis, John Carmichael, George Balloc, P. M. Phillips, J. A. Alexander and S. M. McCoy.
Allerton was made a postoffice very soon after it was laid out, and George McLain was first appointed postmaster. His successors have been: Ate Raisor, E. E. Foster, C. F. LeCompte, George M. Finley and D. D. Shirley.
As before stated, the population of Allerton when incorporated was 394. By the State census of 1875 it had 571 inhabitants. In 1880 the United States census showed 888. In 1885 another State census was taken, according to which the population is 791.
John L. McKamy was the first lawyer here, and H. V. Nichols the first physician. E. L. Hart and J. R. Danskin are now resident attorneys, and B. S. Everett, W. L. Bullis and William Duden are practicing physicians.
As first the children of this place were sent to the regular district school, half a mile from town. Then a hall was rented for two years. Next a temporary structure was used which was afterward converted to business purposes. In 1876 the present three-story and basement brick school-house was erected, at a cost of $9,000. It contains five school-rooms and a recitation room. Six teachers are employed as follows: G. G. Lehmer, Principal; Miss Luella Page, Assistant; Miss Willa Donahoe, Grammar; Miss Ella McConnell, Intermediate; Miss Mary Page, Second Primary; Miss Mary Littell, First Primary. The present School Board comprises E. L. Hart, R. Z. McCoy, Hugh Conklin, E. C. Reck, W. P. Park and J. W. Fletcher. The annual expenditures for school purposes amount to about $4,000.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was the pioneer here, the church being built in the summer of 1874. It is a frame structure and was rebuilt in the summer of 1880. A parsonage stands on the same lot. The early membership was very small, but has increased to 115. The pastors have been G. W. Patterson, Hayes, J. H. Miller, J. R. Horswell, G. C. Waynick, W. J. Beck and R. W. Matheny, the last named being the present incumbent. James Bracewell is superintendent of the Sunday-school.
The Disciples Church was organized under the name of the Mt. Hope Church in 1867, by Elder Levi Fleming. In November, 1872, the Disciples of Allerton commenced raising funds to build a church, which was completed during the following year, at a cost of something over $1,200. The pastors have been Revs. Levi Fleming, E. E. Harvey, Benjamin Lockhart, D. C. Morris, E. J. Stanley, C. P. Hollis and S. H. Hedrix. Under the last named the membership has doubled. The church is entirely free from debt, and has a membership of 115. S. M. McCoy is superintendent of the Sunday-school, which had during 1885 an average attendance of 127.
The Old School Presbyterian Church was organized in 1875, and their house of worship was erected the following year at a cost of $1,200. The pastors have been Revs. D. R. Hindman, McClure and G. H. Putnam. The last named left in the latter part of 1885. J. K. Ritchie is superintendent of the Sunday-school.
The United Presbyterian Church was organized in 1876, and built a church in 1881, at a cost of $1,240. The members are seventy-three in number, and reside mostly in the country. Leonard Proudfit was stated supply of the church until January, 1882, since when Rev. A. R. Mumford has served the congregation. Services are held every Sunday in summer, and every alternate Sunday in winter. A. P. Bell is superintendent of the Sunday-school, in which about forty pupils are enrolled.
The Baptist Church was partially organized many years ago, but the Allerton church was not really formed until 1880. The house of worship was erected the year following, at a cost of $2,800, including furnishings. Revs. A. C. Edwards, C. E. Higgins, J. F. Moody and A. W. Akers have supplied the pulpit. No regular services have been held since 1884. The membership is sixty-six. Henry Lewis is superintendent of the Sunday-school, which has an average attendance of ninety.
Allerton has several lodges in active operation. They are Allerton Lodge, No. 80, G. T.; Advance Lodge, No. 372, A. F. & A. M.; Allerton Lodge, No. 310, I. O. O. F.; and David Harding Post, No. 28, G. A. R. There is also a strong Anti-Horse Thief Association and a volunteer fire department. The village owns for the use of the latter a hand engine which was purchased in 1876, at a cost of $500, and an outfit of ladders.
The business firms of 1886 are: P. M. Phillips, Fletcher Bros. and W. P. Park, general stores; J. A. Alexander & Son, clothing; Meredith & Knerr and L. L. Smith, hardware; Brown & Smith and S. L. Vest, groceries; C. J. Momyer and Charles Mayer, boots and shoes; H. L. Holt, boot and shoe maker; Mereness & Kelso, Mrs. M. J. Tibbetts and S. A. Smith, millinery; J. W. Carmichael and J. L. Ferguson, harness; H. B. Gahagen and Southhart & Son. Restaurants; R. D. Townley and Reck & Rankin, drugs; Terry & McKee and B. Goughnour, livery; E. C. Goughnour, marble works; George Sweegle, stock-buyer; R. W. Sheritt, Sherman House; W. C. Adams, Allerton House; Horatio Petty & Co., lumber; S. H. Reynolds and L. J. Ormsby, coal, wood and stone; L. J. Ormsby & Co., dray line; D. D. Shirley, postmaster; Allerton News Co., Allerton News; E. J. Purdue, dentist; Merritt Young, pension agent; W. P. Coleman, meat market; Rinehart & Meredith, furniture; First National Bank; Robert Barber, notary public and loan agent; John Palliday & Son, broom factory.
Transcribed from the Biographical and Historical Record of Wayne and Appanoose Counties, Iowa – Originally published 1886, Inter-State Pub. Co., Chicago, IL