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Shannon City, Iowa

Shannon City was established in 1887 and laid out June 5, 1888 on both sides of the Ringgold/Union county line with the business section located mainly on the south side in Ringgold County, the post office in Union County. It had three stores, a post office, a blacksmith shop, a boarding house and was proud of their brass band and drums corps. Between 1889 and 1891 a fire destroyed most of the businesses located in Ringgold County. Dr. Loomis led the rebuilding of the town on the north side in Union County.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, March 12, 2015, Page 8

By Mike Avitt

You might be able to see the railroad station at the end of Main Street. That is the Chicago Great Western depot and it is sitting on the Ringgold side of the county line. Shannon City was located mostly in Union County but the depot and the first post office were built on the Ringgold County side of the line.

On the Chicago Great Western line, Arispe was to the northeast and Knowlton was to the southwest. The line came through in late 1877 and the town was platted in 1888. Dr. F. W. Loomis was the first postmaster and builder. His drug store was the first commercial structure.

The first name submitted for the new town was Shannon but there was already a post office in Iowa with that name so "City" was added to the name. Dr. Loomis declined an offer to have the town named after him.

Early influences in Shannon City came from the communities of Eugene, Walnut and Mortimer in Ringgold County. Remnants of Eugene still existed after most of the town picked up and moved to Tingley in 1882-83. There was still a Presbyterian congregation in Eugene that would later move to Shannon City. Walnut was a very small community less than a mile south of Shannon City and Mortimer, which had a school, church and post office, was about four miles west-southwest of Shannon City.

I found many Ringgolders who had a strong connection to our friend north of the border. Perry B. Wilson owned the newspaper in Shannon City twice but before that he was editor/publisher of the Knowlton Sentinel. Mr. Wilson also operated a newspaper in Davis City, Iowa.

M. I. Roberts celebrated 50 years in the banking business at First State Bank in Diagonal on November 1, 1956. But before that he worked in the Knowlton Bank prior to taking a job as cashier in Citizens Bank at Shannon City in 1906. It probably didn't hurt that Citizens Bank was owned by Mr. E. T. Dufur of Lorimor, Mr. Roberts' father-in-law.

Many will remember Ross Craft of Mount Ayr. He and Sherrill Stephens had an Opera House at Community Meat Processors in Mount Ayr on November 16, 1963. Prior to coming to Mount Ayr, Mr. Craft operated a locker at Shannon City and he helped organize the Shannon City Volunteer Fire Department in 1962.

Others who worked in Shannon City before working in Ringgold County were Lester Grimes, Rev. Merlin Wilkins, and Coach Melvin H. Obermeier. I'll be writing another Shannon City article in the future and cover some of these folks as well as the churches which I will bypass at this time.

Shannon City built a new, brick school in 1915-16 and that's about the same time as other towns of similar size were getting brick schools. The team nickname was the Mustangs and the team colors were purple and white. Shannon City had many good basketball teams in the 1940s. The last graduating class was in 1960 with E. Claire Henderson as Superintendent.

Many of Shannon City's long-term businessmen died in the 1950s and 60s, leaving the town with very few businesses in the 1970s. The peak population was 380 in 1900, about the same as Diagonal and Knowlton. The 2010 census shows 71 residents.

Much of the information I used in this article came from the Shannon City centennial book which was donated to the Mount Ayr Depot Museum by the late David Pugh. Mr. Pugh was a co-author of the centennial book and the committee gives him credit for organizing the edition for print.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2015.

Shannon City Store Fronts, circa 1900's
Must be east side of Main Street

Shannon City Graded School, circa 1910

Post Cards contributed by Darrell Eckardt, August of 2009


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