Towns - Post Offices - Rail Stops
of Jefferson County

(Polk Township)

"PEKIN. Sec. 6, Polk Township. Formerly in Keokuk County. Plat, p. 26, 1906 Atlas. Feb 12, 1889, the Ledger stated that Ioka Station was to be re-christened, and after April 1st it would be known as Pekin. See Ledger May 2 and May 30, 1894. P.O. Est. 7 Dec 1903, George H. Carter, postmaster; disc. 28 Dec 1903."
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:
     Helen McCreery Knox; Mr. and Mrs. Harold McCreery; James, Fred and Harry McCreery and their father, Roy McCreery; C.O. Toomire; Will Eckley; Ralph Hayes; Frank Van Orsdall; Raymond Chacey; Myra Smith Eckley; Peter Eckley; A. Flint; George Herman; Alex Patterson.

A name perpetuated by a district

   The town of Pekin is located only a short distance northwest of Linby in Polk Township and was served by the Burlington Western, the first railroad that passed through the area in 1882, but it didn't enjoy the rapid growth of that enjoyed by Linby.

   That is probably because the second railroad that served Linby and caused its rapid growth didn't serve Pekin.

   Pekin straddles the Jefferson-Keokuk County line. It is possible for a person to walk only a few steps from one county to the other and still be in Pekin.

   While the town has dwindled to only a few homes and a going elevator business, its name will be perpetuated for many years to come because of the Pekin Community School District named after the little community.

   The school district's complex including two major school buildings, bus garage and maintenance shops and athletic field is located only a short distance to the south.

   The area was once an auxiliary landing field for the Ottumwa Naval Air Base during World War II. The U.S. Government purchased 36 acres in 1943 and concrete runways were built.

   Following the war the Pekin Community School District purchased 90 acres of the government land for one dollar.

   The Pekin District includes the towns of Rubio, Richland, Packwood, Ollie, Farson, Martinsburg and Linby.

   A history written by Helen McCreery Knox, formerly of Pekin and now a resident of Malven, Kansas, gives some interesting facts about Pekin. The information was provided by Mr. and Mrs. Harold McCreery, residents of the Pekin Community. After our visit Mr. McCreery died.

   Perhaps the community's only claim to fame is the fact it was the home of the McCreery Family male quartet. It was composed of James, Fred and Harry McCreery and their father, Roy McCreery. Roy's wife served as accompanist.

   They were constantly called upon to sing for funerals, church services and social events. They were proud of the fact they never accepted a cent for their services. They just loved to sing and entertain people.

   Helen Knox described Pekin as a thriving little town situated on the Jefferson-Keokuk County line during her childhood. She was born October 4, 1907.

   Her history said there was a general store and post office on the northwest corner of the intersection with hitching posts on the east and south sides of the store. The first owner she remembers was C.O. Toomire. The Pekin post office was established December 7, 1903.

   The hardware store across the street south was owned by Will Eckley. Later Ralph Hayes had a garage in connection with the store. A mill was located a short distance west. The bank was located on the north aide of the street west of the general store.

   The block building that once housed the bank before it closed was remodeled and is now the home of Frank Van Orsdall. The blacksmith shop was located west of the bank.

   The original railroad that passed through the area was sold to the CB&Q Railroad shortly after the turn of the century and its depot at Pekin was a lively place. There were a number of daily freight and passenger trains each way. Area farmers shipped large numbers of hogs and cattle from the Pekin stockyards.

   The elevator was located south of the tracks and is still operating today as the Packwood Pekin elevator. The original elevator was destroyed by fire in 1936 and was replaced by the present structure. While the firm was owned and operated some years ago by Raymond Chacey, he bought cream, eggs and poultry from farmers living in the area.

   A number of homes were listed in the history written by Helen Knox but most of them are gone.

   It was also stated the new town was first named South Ioka after a small community that was already in existence a short distance away in Keokuk County.

   A number of acres were laid out in lots and streets as early residents expected the town to grow. But that growth didn't materialize.

   A history of the Pekin Church was written by Myra Smith Eckley in 1929. A former resident of the community she now resides in a nursing home at Hedrick.

   It states the first meeting of the group was held March 2, 1889, at Ioka Station, later named Pekin. Peter Eckley was named chairman. It was reported $787.85 had been raised and labor promised for the church building. There were 105 subscribers. A suitable location was needed for the building. Among a number of sites offered, a site donated by A. Flint in Pekin was decided upon.

   George Herman signed a contract to erect the building 28 x 36 feet and 14 foot high posts with arched ceiling and alcove at the rear, for $725 except for the rock foundation. The rock was donated by Alex Patterson quarried from his farm located four miles northwest of the site. The quarrying and hauling was done by volunteer labor.

   The church was originally non-denominational with no one group allowed to use the building without consent of the trustees and not more than once a month.

   The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized during the winter of 1893 and 1894. This congregation gained permission to use the building two weeks each month and later services every week.

   Stockholders of the original group decided to give up the building and sold it by public auction March 21, 1908, to the Methodist congregation.

   The group decided to rebuild in 1910. Dedicatory services for the new building were held in September the same year.

   The church finally ceased holding services in 1969 and the building was sold, remodeled and made into a home.

   While there is little left of the original little community the name is still well known by the Pekin Community School District with its fine and modern facilities only a short distance away.

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.

 In Polk Township of Jefferson County on the Jefferson Keokuk County line is the little village of Pekin. In 1882 the Burlington Western railroad came through the area. It was thought it would pass through Ioka. Instead the railroad went south of Ioka where a station was built. The section of land on which the railroad station was built became known as Ioka Station. Ioka Station contained eleven lots and grew to include a store and post office. The post office was named South Ioka. This was later changed to Pekin. 0. C. Toomrie was one of the first people to run the store. The post office was established in 1903. Will Eckley ran a hardware store across the street south of the general store. Ralph Hayes later ran a garage on the south side of the street. Also on the south side of the street was a mill. The Farmer's Savings Bank was opened in 1910. W. F. Miller was the first cashier. Farmer's Savings bank merged with the Hedrick Bank in 1930. Ed Rhodes ran a blacksmith shop west of the bank. Ray Watson and Raymond Chacey had a poultry business in Pekin.

 A stockyard was built by a co-op of area farmers. During its existence several carloads of livestock were shipped out. A. D. Hayes elevator was operated by Raymond Chacey. It was destroyed by fire in 1936. A new elevator was built a short distance east of where the old mill had been located on the south side of the track. It was known in later years as the Packwood Pekin Elevator. The first depot agent was A.O. Stromberg. Other depot agents were Rolla Hadley and Dee Bryson. The C.B.& Q Railroad purchased the Burlington Western railroad shortly after the turn of the century.

 A list of early residents of Pekin lists the following names, Frank P. Richardson, R. H. Schultz, John McCreery, A. L. McCreery, William Hanna, Martin Mohland, Raymond Chacey, H. Braden, and Charles Stubbs. Pekin was the hometown of the McCreery Quartet, which consisted of Roy McCreery and his sons James, Fred and Harry. They performed at many events throughout the area. Today there are no businesses in Pekin but a few people still make Pekin their home.

Pekin Methodist Episcopal Church

 On March 2, 1889, a group of area residents met at Ioka Station to discuss forming a church. Peter Eckley was named chairman of the group. It was decided to build a building in the area and to form a church that would be nondenominational. A number of sites were offered for the church building but the one chosen for the church was donated by A. Flint of Pekin. A total of $787.85 was raised for the new building. George Herman was the contractor and erected a 26x36 feet and 14 ft tall church building. Alex Patterson donated the rock used for the foundation from his farm north west of Pekin.

 The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1893-94. They made an agreement with the leaders of the non-denominational church to use their building for two weeks each month. That was later changed to once a month. In 1908 the leaders of the non-denominational church decided to sell the church building at auction. The Methodist Episcopal Church purchased the building at the auction. They rebuilt the church on the same location in 1910. It was dedicated on September 25, 1910. The church used this building until 1969 when the church disbanded. The building was sold and remodeled into a private home.

Pekin Community School District

  On July 1, 1959, Pekin Community School came into existence. Elmer Baskett was the first superintendent. In Oct., 1958, Ollie, Farson, Packwood and Martinsburg had voted to consolidate and form a new district. A school board election had been held in December of 1958 with 5 board members elected. The 4 schools, which had voted the fall before, merged into the district but classes were not held at Pekin until 1961 when the Pekin High School building was completed. A bond issue for the new building had been voted on and passed in 1960. Several students from Richland attended Pekin High School in 1961 on a tuition basis. Richland did not vote to join the district until 1962.

  In 1962 C. E. Tharp became Superintendent. Mr. Tharp served as superintendent until 1968. James Rood was hired to succeed Mr. Tharp. Mr. Rood served as superintendent until he retired in l996 and was succeed by Dr. Roger Macklem. From 1962 till 1970 kindergarten through 8th grade was housed at the elementary building in each town in the district. In 1970 Packwood School was designated as a junior high. Kindergarten through 5th grade was held in each elementary school. In 1975 Ollie was designated to be a kindergarten through 2nd grade and Richland to house grades 3 through 5. In 1976 a bond issue was approved for a new elementary-junior high building. The building was completed and used for the first time in 1978. The old school buildings were sold to each community in which they were located in 1978. The athletic field and grounds at Richland had been sold to the town in 1972. Pekin Community School is well known for its excellent academic, athletic and music programs.

The Tradition

 One and one half miles north of Pekin is the Tradition Restaurant and Country Pizza Oven formerly Dickey's Prairie Home Restaurant.

Prairie Home was originally located on the south side of highway 78 and was a country school. The school building was destroyed by fire and rebuilt on the north side of the highway. Don and Gladys Downey purchased the school building after the school closed in 1954 and started Prairie Home Restaurant and ran a grocery store there also. The restaurant was destroyed by fire in 1964. Harold Dickey purchased the remains and built the present restaurant building. Dickey sold the restaurant to Mike and Linna Ament who ran the restaurant and changed the name to Mike's Prairie Home. Today the restaurant is leased and operated by David and Brenda Cox. The restaurant is called The Tradition and serves the best food in the area. The Country Pizza Oven is located in the northeast corner of the restaurant building.

(Editorís note - Since the writing of this book the restaurant has closed and the building is now a funeral home. (March 2003)

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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