of Jefferson County
(Des Moines Township)
"COUNTY LINE. Replaced Absecum; named for its location, along the Rock Island RR at the west boundary of Jefferson County, six miles west of Libertyville. First P. O. Est. 10 May 1876, called "County Line Station” and David LEPPO was postmaster; discontinued 3 May 1883; became "County Line” 3 May 1683, Joseph SKETOE, postmaster; discontinued 15 Mar 1923. The Rock Island RR discontinued its station at County Line in December 1894. The town once included two houses, a church, depot, post office, elevator, railroad side tracks, and several houses. (Ledger, Nov 7, 1957.)"
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 into 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
Names mentioned in this article are as follows:
Ed Bucher; Floyd and Nellie (Nellie Stull) Peebler; Paul Ashbaugh; Mr. and Mrs. John Collopy; George Brown; Joe Sketoe; Dave Leppo; Isreal Young
The history of County Line, once located six miles west of Libertyville in Des Moines Township, is tied to the "coming and going" of the railroad.
It was born about the time Absecum, a nearby settlement which had served as the area's stage coach stop, died out because the stage coach route had been changed and because the railroad had arrived in the area.
The railroad which had reached Jefferson County in 1870, later became known as the Rock Island Railroad, was continued on southwest as far as Allerton the same year. County Line was apparently started about that time. It derived its name from its location. It was located along the railroad at the west boundary of Jefferson County.
There are some who remember when County Line was quite a thriving community. Ed BUCHER, longtime resident of Libertyville, is one of those persons.
At its peak, he said, the community included a depot, post office, two stores, an elevator, school, church and some homes. None of those buildings exist today. Floyd and Nellie PEEBLER, 100 E. Madison, were both born near County Line.
Recently standing at the cross roads where County Line was located, Mrs. PEEBLER, the former Nellie STULL, pointed to a point about a mile west where she was born. Her husband pointed toward the east where he was born.
They could locate the area where the church once stood, where the railroad section boss lived, the location of the school and general store, depot and stockyards.
Mrs. PEEBLER said on many occasions she accompanied her parents to the County Line store to do their trading. The store was then owned by Paul ASHBAUGH. She said it was a real thrill when the hens laid a few more eggs than usual and her mother would allow her to use the extra money to purchase material for a new dress.
Floyd pointed out where a small trading post called Milton was once located a few miles east of County Line and a short distance north. It was immediately south of where PEEBLER lived as a boy.
He said nothing was left of the store when he lived there but he remembers his parents and grandparents talking about Milton. It was originated by George
BROWN and Joe SKETOE and was designed to accommodate those hired to operate a saw mill. It failed to exist after 1870. SKETOE later moved to County Line where he was engaged in business.
Following their marriage Floyd and Nellie PEEBLER farmed for many years in Jefferson County. Upon retirement they moved to Fairfield.
Last of the old buildings to be razed in County Line was part of one of the old store buildings. It also had served as living quarters for the store owners and was located in the northeast corner of the present cross roads. The railroad was located to the north heading in a southwest direction.
A modern home is now located almost where the final old store building was razed. The home was moved to that location in 1969 and is occupied by Mr. and Mrs. John COLLOPY.
The old Methodist Church building was sold in 1941 and the lumber was used to build a home.
A history of County Line that appeared in the Ottumwa Courier some years ago said on October 22, 1879, Isreal YOUNG, landowner in the area, deeded a strip of land 100 feet wide to the railroad company stipulating that a depot be built near the store. The following rail yards included three side tracks for loading and unloading rail cars.
After the depot was completed Dave LEPPO moved from Libertyville to County Line to become the community's first depot agent and first postmaster. The post office was set up in the depot.
LEPPO built a home, went into the livestock and grain business, and shipped livestock, and grain to Chicago. He built stockyards, a scale house, elevator and lumber yard. He later sold his holdings.
In 1876 there were 20 families holding church services in the school house a half mile east of the store. The congregation built a church that same year. The first church was a log structure which was replaced by a frame building after the original building was destroyed by fire.
Joe SKETOE who had bought out LEPPO's business holdings, built a blacksmith shop near the depot. Prior to that the nearest blacksmith shop was located at Batavia two miles north. He later moved the post office from the depot to his store.
THEY'RE NOW ALL GONE -- This map shows the approximate locations of three early settlements in Jefferson County located west of Libertyville, and a station stop on the Peavine Railroad. Monroe was platted but never materialized. Absecum was a stage coach stop, and County Line "grew up" when the railroad arrived. There is no trace left of any of the settlements mentioned.
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The Fairfield Daily Ledger, November 7, 1957.
ABSECUM, COUNTY LINE, ONCE BUSY RURAL VILLAGES.
Little information can be found about the old stage coach stop of Absecum, but it is apparent that County Line eventually replaced it after the coming of the railroad. And now there is little or nothing left of County Line. Both communities were located west of Libertyville and played an important part in the early years of Jefferson County history. Rumors, or bits of information still available, state that the stage coach stop of Absecum was located about five miles west of Libertyville on what is now the W. R. BAIRD farm. The house, or inn, was located on the north side of the road where the present farm house now stands, and the large horse barn was across the road south. The location was a regular stop for the stage coach line from Keokuk and Fort Madison to Des Moines.
The Rock Island railroad reached Jefferson county in 1871 with the first train arriving here from the east in September. The road was completed between Washington and Allerton that year. Although no one can be sure, it is assumed County Line sprang up as a community about that time. It derived its name from its location. It was located along the Rock Island railroad at the west boundary of Jefferson county, six miles west of Libertyville, There are some who remember when County Line was quite a thriving community, but none can remember exactly when or how it was originated.
At its peak as a community, County Line included a depot, post office, two stores, an elevator, church and several houses. Only a part of one of the store buildings remains. It served as living quarters for the store owners, but the part of the structure in which the store was actually located has been torn away.
County Line lost its post office when the rural free delivery was established, and it is assumed it began to lose its importance as a community soon after that. With better roads and transportation following, the little community soon had no reason to exist.
One of the best known residents of the early community was Paul ASHBAUGH who operated one of the stores for several years. He came to Iowa from Pennsylvania, and operated a huckster wagon out of Selma for a few years. Later he moved to County Line where he operated a store. His son, Elmer ASHBAUGH, worked in the store and carried the mail from the depot to the post office which was located in ASHBAUGH’s store.
Harold HITE, who operates a farm near County Line, says he can remember when it was quite a thriving community. There were three side tracks in the rail yards to accommodate loading and unloading railroad cars. Now all that is left of the railroad is the tree-lined hump running across country that once was the right-of-way. The store and post office were located at the cross roads. The tracks, running at an angle east and west, were north of the settlement. The depot was east and north of the post office. Another store was located a short distance to the east, while the church was farther down the road.
The Rock Island right-of-way was moved away from County Line when the tracks were re-located in the early 1940’s. Even before that County Line was slowly passing out of existence. The complete loss of the railroad was the final blow.
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