Towns - Post Offices - Rail Stops
of Jefferson County

(Polk Township)

"BELLEVILLE. Sec. 9, Polk Township. A railroad station on the Burlington narrow gauge, about two miles west of Packwood. P.O. Est. 22 Mar 1883 with George McKinnis as postmaster; W. L. Duke appointed p. m. in May, 1883; office discontinued 10 Apr. 1896. J. S. Bowman's store at Belleville burned 4 Mar 1884."
The above information was compiled by Mary Prill and published in the Hawkeye Heritage, July 1967.

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The following story was originally one of a number of articles in the Fairfield Ledger which was later included in the book Villages and Towns of Yester-year in Jefferson County by William R. Baker. We hereby include it on this page with the permission of the Fairfield Ledger.
Names mentioned in this article are as follows:
       Luther Duke; Anna Belie Duke; Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe White; George Davis.

Bull helped get the mail

    Belleville, one of three early communities in extreme northwest Jefferson County, was a small village but its residents felt they should get regular mail service the same as other communities.
    Belleville had a post office established November 22, 1883, with Luther Duke as the first postmaster. The community was served by the Burlington Western Railroad located some distance south of the little town.
    Trains refused to make regular stops to leave or pickup mail. In order to call attention to the importance of mail to the community, residents persistently tied a large bull on the tracks forcing trains to stop.
    Eventually their efforts were rewarded by the postal department and railroad officials. It was agreed to put up a cross arm so the mail bag could be pulled into the rail car without stopping the train, and mail bags destined for Belleville were dropped off. The post office was discontinued in April, 1896.
    Information concerning Belleville is quite scarce. Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe White, who reside in Linby, provided the information taken from her mother's scrapbook.
    Believed to have been started in the early 1870s, it was located at the first crossroads approximately one mile east of Linby. At one time there were three stores, a blacksmith shop along with the post office located in the little town.
   The post office was located in the home of Luther Duke. He had a daughter named Anna Belle. It is said the village was named Belleville in her honor.
   The first store was owned by George Davis. It later burned, and the building housing another was moved to a farm and used as a barn. The third was also moved to a farm and used as a corn crib.

    In 1871 a school house was built a quarter of a mile north of the cross roads and apparently served as the focal point for the little settlement.  It served as a school, church and community center. The big question is, "Where did they put all those students?"
    The history says attendance ranged from 30 to 40 students during the fall and spring terms, and sometimes would soar to around 80 pupils during the winter term.
   That was back in those days when there was no state law making it necessary for all children to attend school up to a certain age.
   During that time father kept his older sons at home during planting and crop seasons, allowing them to attend school only during the slack days during cold winter months.
    Women were employed to teach the spring and fall terms, but a man was hired to teach the winter term while all "the big boys" were attending class.
    The school was closed August 17, 1947, and the pupils transferred to the school at Linby. The building was sold and the material was used to remodel a farm home southwest of Linby.
   The home in which the post office was located was razed in 1961, which wiped away all traces of the once little town of Belleville.

The following information comes from the book "Glimpses of Yesterday" by Dixie Richardson, published in 1999 and copied here with her permission. The book contains histories and personal memories of Richland, Iowa, and the surrounding area. Copies of the book are available from Dixie Richardson, 556 South Davis, Ottumwa Iowa 52501-5301 for $13.00 and this covers postage and handling as well.

 Belleville was located in Polk Township of Jefferson County at the first cross road east of Linby. It was located on the Burlington Northern line. The first building in the area was a schoolhouse known as Belleville School, which was, erected a fourth of mile north of the crossroads. It is not known when the village of Belleville was started. The post office was established on March 22 1883. Luther Duke was the first postmaster and housed the post office in his home. Mr. Duke had a daughter Anna Belle and it was thought the town received its name from her. There were 3 stores at Belleville, a blacksmith shop and post office. The first store was owned operated by George Davis.
 One of the store buildings was destroyed by fire. Another store building was moved across the road from its original site and used as a farm building. The other store building was moved a half mile south of Belleville and used as a corncrib. The trainmen did not want to stop at the crossing to pick up or leave mail. The community members tied a bull on the track to stop the train. The effort paid off and the railroad agreed to put a cross arm so a mailbag could be dropped off at Belleville.
The Belleville post office was discontinued on April 10 1896.

Belleville School

 Belleville schoolhouse, which was built in 1871, was the first building in the Belleville area was also known as Polk No. 7. It not only served as a school but also as a church and community center. Attendance ran from 30 to 40 students in the fall to around 80 students in the winter. It was closed in 1947 and the eight students of Belleville school began attending Linby School.

This page was created 06/28/2001. The page may be copied and used for personal purposes but can not be republished nor used for commercial purposes without the author's written permission.

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