Towns - Post Offices - Rail Stops
of Jefferson County

(Liberty Township)

"COLLETT.  Midway between Libertyville and Birmingham, a station on the "Peavine" RR railroad from Fort Madison to Batavia, four miles southeast of Libertyville. P.O. Est. 9 Feb 1887; Harvey Thompson, postmaster; discontinued 11 Jun 1890; Re-Est. 20 Apr 1899 with Harvey's son, William E. Thompson, as postmaster; abandoned 15 Jun 1900."
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:
        Lee Gallup; Harvey Thompson; William P. Gallup; Greer McKee; John Collett, Harry Kracht, Joe Clark, Mr. and Mrs. Grant Johnston.

Railroad handcar, fun but hard work

    "I thought it would be a thrill to ride a handcar from Collett to Birmingham on the Peavine Railroad with my grandpa when I was a kid, but I found out different after we pumped the little car by hand all the way."
   That was just one of the many recollections by Lee Gallup, born and reared in the Libertyville Community and now resides at 1304 South D.
   He well remembers the Peavine Railroad which operated between Fort Madison and Ottumwa by way of Stockport, Birmingham, Collett, Libertyville and Batavia.
   His grandfather, Harvey Thompson, lived at Collett and served as depot agent, postmaster and weighmaster for the scales.
   Collett was located four miles southeast of Libertyville and served as passenger stop and shipping point for farmers in the area.
   Gallup was born on a farm in Liberty Township about 1 1/2 miles west of Collett. He used to spend the day at Collett with his grandfather at various times. This one day his grandfather had to make a trip to Birmingham via a small railroad handcar. He invited his grandson to accompany him.
   It was a thrill for young Gallup at first, but he admits he was tired after helping pump the handcar to and from Birmingham, a distance of four miles each way.
   Since his grandfather was depot agent and knew the timetable for trains, it was safe for them to make the trip by rail, Gallup said.
   Gallup recalls his father, William P. Gallup, owned one of the first automobiles in the area. It was a Model T Ford purchased in 1911.
   There were no service stations in the area at that time. Gasoline was purchased at stores. The store keeper would carry the gasoline from a barrel or tank in the back room, a gallon at a time, to the car outside. Cost was a little over ten cents a gallon.
   Gallup's father finally had his own barrel of gasoline shipped from Ottumwa to Collett. He then hauled it home.
   Commodities shipped from Collett in those days included coal from nearby coal mines, hay, grain and livestock. Stockyards were located near the depot in which livestock was kept before shipment.
   A store at Collett carried limited staples, and the depot had seats for passengers according to Gallup.
   The Fort Madison to Des Moines Railroad, later known as the Peavine, was completed from Fort Madison to Birmingham in 1881. It was extended in 1891 northwest to McKee Station as it was called because it was built on the Greer McKee farm.
   The name of the station was later changed to Collett, named for John Collett who helped finance the station. Collett station was built in 1886 and it was the western terminal for the new railroad.
   Until that time it was a narrow gauge railroad. It was widened to standard gauge when the railroad was extended on to Ottumwa about 1891.
   Gallup said he can remember the big round hole near what was once Collett station where the turntable was located. Since it was the western terminal, the engines were turned around to make the trip back to Fort Madison.
   The post office at Collett was opened in May, 1887, with Harvey Thompson as postmaster. The post office continued until about 1900 when Thompson resigned as postmaster to give full time to his duties as depot agent and weighmaster.
After Thompson's resignation the post office was closed. Thompson died February 14, 1914.
   The Peavine carried a number of passengers. Some to Fairfield, changing at Batavia; some to Ottumwa. Often there were special excursions to Fort Madison.
   As years passed the passenger service dropped off. Finally the depot was closed and moved away and a small lean-to station was erected for the few passengers who still traveled by rail.
   On November 10, 1939, train service was discontinued on the Peavine on west from Birmingham. Later service was dropped from Stockport to Birmingham, and still later the Peavine Railroad was completely terminated.
   But there are still people living in Jefferson and surrounding counties who well remember the Peavine Railroad and its busy shipping and passenger center at Collett.

The Fairfield Daily Ledger, _______, _____. (Undated clipping.)
OLD WELL MARKS EARLY VILLAGE. COLLETT ONCE NARROW GAUGE RAIL TERMINAL. The small community of Collett four miles sourtheast of Libertyville at one time served as the western terminal for a narrow gauge railroad. A few years later the tracks were widened and extended on to Batavia.
 Lee Gallup, former state representative from Jefferson County, whose farm is located near Libertyville, said his grandfather, the late Harvey Thompson, was custodian at the old Collett depot and often spoke of its past history. Thompson died in 1914.
 Information concerning the early history of the railroad said it was first built as a narrow gauge line from Fort Madison to Collett. The terminal was located in Liberty township near the farm now owned by Harry Kracht.
 Two or three years later the tracks were widened to standard gauge and extended on to Batavia to become known as the "Peavine" railroad and owned and operated by the C. B. & Q.
 Collett was moved a short distance west and north as the line was extended, and for a time was quite a flourishing place. At one time it included a depot, general store, post office and stock yards. Gallup said as far as he knows, there was only one house in Collett. It was the small house occupied by his grandfather. The house was located back of the depot.
 Recently Gallup returned to the site where Collett once stood and found the well where his grandfatherís house once stood. Now the well is in a field and is surrounded by a clump of high weeds. A pile of old wire fencing covering the well makes it impossible to mow or farm the small area.
 As years passed the need for the little railroad community dwindled. Finally the depot was closed and later torn down. A little lean-to station was erected for the convenience of the passengers who still used the services of the "Peavine" railroad.
 One by one the other buildings disappeared, until the little lean-to station remained alone. That was Collett for a number of years. Finally the railroad was abandoned from Birmingham to Batavia and the little lean-to station also disappeared.
 All that remains of Collett is the well and the clump of weeds growing up through the fencing. Similar to several other communities in Jefferson County, Collett was born and died with the coming and the going of the railroad.

The Fairfield Daily Ledger, Thurs., Jan. 30, 1958, Page 4.
FURTHER FACTS - POST OFFICE AT COLLETT OPENED IN MAY OF 1887. Further information has been received regarding Collett Station, a small community that was once located about four miles southeast of Libertyville and at one time served as the western terminal for a narrow gauge railroad.

 The further information was compiled by descendants of some of those who assisted in getting the railroad to extend its branch line through Jefferson County.
 The C.F.M. and D.M. Railroad, later called the "Peavine", built a branch line from Fort Madison to Birmingham in 1881. Later it was extended northwest to McKee station as it was first called. It was located on the Greer McKee farm.
 The name of the station was later changed to Collett, named for John Collett whose finances helped to build the station and whose influence with the railroad authorities caused it to be changed in his honor.
 Farmers in the vicinity contributed about $700 to build the station and it was erected in 1886.
 When the railroad was first built it was a narrow gauge road, but it was widened to standard gauge when it was extended from Collett to Ottumwa in 1891.
 When the railroad was extended from Collett on west, there was a slight change made in the course of the right-of-way near Collett. This was done in order to avoid sharp turns and steep grades and made at the suggestion of Greer McKee.
 As the course of the railroad was changed, Collett Station was moved from its original location in the south central part of the McKee farm to the Joe Clark farm.
 Collett Station was then located northeast of the old barn still standing, but the site is in cultivation and there is little or nothing to mark the site. The farm now belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Grant Johnston.
 Harvey Thompson, postmaster, also had a small store there in connection with his postal duties and his duties as ticket agent and freight agent for the railroad.
 Thompson resigned as postmaster about 1900, and at that time the post office was closed. He moved to a house east of Collett Station where he lived until his death on Feb. 14, 1914.
 A freight station continued at Collett for several years and at one time was a busy center for shipping of coal from the several mines nearby. Hay, grain and livestock were also shipped from the station.
 Many passengers boarded the train at Collett, going either to Ottumwa or Fairfield, or to more distant points. When going to Fairfield they changed to the main line of the C.B. & Q. railroad at Batavaia. Often special excursions were run to Ft. Madison.
 As the years passed the need for the branch railroad dwindled. The depot was finally closed and moved away. It was replaced by a small lean-to station.
 On Nov. 10, 1939, train service was discontinued on the "Peavine" from Birmingham to Batavia.

The Fairfield Ledger, March 2, 1887, Page 3, Col. 7.
"The Birmingham Enterprise says that Harvey Thompson, who wanted the post office at that place and didnít get it, has had his hunger appeased with the postmastership of the office recently established at Collett, the narrow gauge terminus."

The Fairfield Tribune, Wednesday, June 7, 1899, Page 2, Col. 2.
"The post office has been re-established at Collett, in Liberty township, this county, the postmaster being William E. Thompson, son of Harvey Thompson, the postmaster at the same place a number of years ago when the post office there was discontinued."

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