of Jefferson County
(Des Moines Township)
"ELLMAKER Station on the "Peavine" about midway between
Libertyville and Batavia in Des Moines Township. (Ledger, Oct. 3 l957)
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
Names mentioned in this article are as follows:
Reuben & Solon Ellmaker; Ed Bucher; Frank and Chester McBride; Isobel Manning Teeter; Billie Manning; Edwin Meinhardt
There never was a town called Ellmaker, not even
a regular depot, but the little station along the railroad between Libertyville
and Batavia served a great many people.
The station was located along the "Peavine" railroad, getting its name from the farm on which it was located. The farm was originally owned by Reuben Ellmaker who acquired the 100 acre tract of land from the government tax list of 1865.
The line serving Ellmaker and other Jefferson County communities in those days was a branch line of the CB&Q Railroad. It extended from Fort Madison to Ottumwa, joining the mainline of the Burlington tracks at Batavia.
Ed Bucher, a resident of the Libertyville Community since 1919, remembers the Ellmaker station and said it was used regularly by a number of patrons. Bucher operated a machine shop for over 50 years in Libertyville before he sold the shop in February, 1981. He now has a small shop at his home.
He said he can remember when several trains operated over the tracks each day, providing good service for those wishing to go to nearby towns, especially during wet and rainy seasons when dirt roads were bad.
Frank McBride who resides west of Libertyville owns the old Ellmaker farm, and it is operated by his son Chester. He has lived on the farm for the past 30 years.
Bucher made a trip to the Ellmaker farm recently. He and McBride had no trouble locating the spot on which the small lean-to station was located.
Standing in the road west of the McBride farm home, the old right-of-way is well defined by a tree lined lane extending into the distance in a northwest direction. It now serves as a lane to farm ground some distance away.
Looking toward the east it is hard to realize a railroad once passed through the fields. The right-of-way has been leveled and is now part of the farmland. The station was located south of the Ellmaker house.
There never was an agent at Ellmaker. If a passenger wanted the train to stop he or she would hang out a flag on the corner of the little station. If the engineer saw a flag at the station, he stopped the train.
Bucher described the station as being eight feet long and about four feet wide, open on the south side and a bench full length along the north side. It was painted red with the station name "Ellmaker" on either end.
Isobel Manning Teeter, 1101 E. Madison, lived near Ellmaker in Des Moines Township when she was a small girl and can remember taking the train to Ottumwa to shop.
The Billie Manning farm was located 2 1/2 miles south of Ellmaker Station and a short distance from County Line. Mrs. Teeter said her mother and children sometimes drove a horse and buggy to the station, sometimes they walked.
They left the horse and buggy at the Ellmaker farm while they made the all day trip to Ottumwa. The west-bound train arrived at about 9 a.m. They arrived home on the eastbound train around 4 p.m. That was back in the days when the engines were steam operated.
Mrs. Teeter said she can remember putting out the flag to stop the train. At that time railroads operated a number of trains per day and would stop most any place to pick up a passenger.
According to records Reuben Ellmaker, the original owner of the land, transferred the farm to Solon Ellmaker March 22, 1902. Solon Ellmaker sold the old home place March 1, 1920, and after a number of other transactions the present owner acquired the place in 1944.
It was during Solon Ellmaker's ownership that the little station served the community well. That was back when the public turned to rail travel and mud and bad roads made overland travel a problem.
McBride said his father told a story about an ornery boy in the neighborhood who placed a large cinder on one of the rails near Ellmaker. A handcar carrying track repairmen hit the cinder and "sent the handcar and men rolling".
The "Peavine" line has long been abandoned. First it was halted at Birmingham. Trains turned around on a "Y" with trainmen having to open a gate to let the train pass through.
Later the track from Stockport to Birmingham was abandoned, stopping service west of Stockport. Still later the entire line was halted.
The large two-story house on what is now the McBride farm is the third one built on the place. The first was a log cabin. It was later replaced by a frame home which burned. The present house was then constructed.
Ellmaker is just one of the many rail stations and small communities in the county which have passed from existence.
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, October 3, 1957.
ELLMAKER: LITTLE LEAN-TO STATION SERVED MANY PASSENGERS.
There never was a regular depot, post office, stock yards or other buildings at Ellmaker, but the little lean-to station served a large number of persons during its existence. The station was located along the "Peavine" railroad about midway between Libertyville and Batavia in Des Moines Township. It got its name from the farm on which it was located. The farm was originally owned by Reuben Ellmaker who acquired the 100 acre tract of land from the government tax list of 1865. The branch line serving Ellmaker and other Jefferson County communities in those days was known as the "Peavine" line and was operated by the C.B. & Q. railroad. It extended from fort Madison to Ottumwa, joining the main line of the Burlington tracks at Batavia. Several trains operated over the tracks each day, providing good service to those wishing to go to nearby towns, especially during wet and rainy seasons when dirt roads were bad.
Frank McBride, who resides west of Libertyville, owns the old Ellmaker farm, and it is operated by McBride’s son and family, Mr. and Mrs. Chester McBride. They have lived on the place for 11 years. When asked if he knew where the old station used to stand, McBride answered, "I sure do." He then pointed to a ridge to the southeast lined with trees, and a cinder bank angling off to the northwest. "That," he pointed, "is the old right-of-way. The old station used to stand about here in this low spot." The low spot is toward the northwest corner of a field located south of the farm house.
The owner of the farm, Frank McBride, said the original Ellmaker log cabin was still standing back of the present farm home when he acquired the farm from Edwin Meinhardt and wife in February, 1944. He said it had been used as a wash house for many years. Soon after he bought the farm he tore down the old log house. In the process McBride said they discovered a date, 1840, in the house, indicating the old log house had been built during that year. According to records at the court house, Reuben Ellmaker was the original owner. The land was transferred to Solon Ellmaker on March 22, 1907. Solon Ellmaker can be remembered by some of the older residents around Libertyville. He sold the old home place on March 1, 1920, and after several other transactions the present owner acquired the place in 1944.
But it was during Solon Ellmaker’s ownership that the little lean-to station a short distance away served the community well. That was back in the days before the automobile when the public turned to rail travel when mud and bad roads halted "Old Dobbin." And that was also back in the days when railroads operated several trains per day and would stop almost any place a passenger desired. There was never an agent at Ellmaker. If a patron wanted the train to stop he or she would hang out a flag. If the engineer saw a flag at the station, he stopped the train.
Those who remember the little station described it as being
about eight feet long and four feet wide, open on the south side. There
was a bench full length across the back. It was painted red with the station
name, "Ellmaker", on either end.
Most of the old "Peavine" line has been abandoned. First it was halted at Birmingham. Trains turned around on a "Y" with trainmen having to open a gate to let the train through. In more recent years that portion of the railroad from Stockport to Birmingham was abandoned and the tracks taken up. The line now terminates at Stockport.
The large two-story farm house is the third one built on the
farm. The first was the log cabin. It was later replaced by a frame home
which burned. The third house was then constructed.
Ellmaker is just one of the several rail stations and small communities in the county which have passed from existence.
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