Ladoga History
by Georgia Glassmann


Ladoga was just a little town in Iowa.

Just a dot on a map or a wide spot in the road where one could buy a plug of tobacco or a pound of coffee but to the folks in the community it meant much. Their life revolved around this friendly little country store. They also bought the coffee and the tobacco. The aroma from the freshly ground coffee seemed to invigorate the story tellers as the little striped paper sacks of this precious necessity waited patiently on the counter or on the floor lined up just waiting, until their owners were ready to go home.

The plug of tobacco was a much more needed necessity for the men folks in this little rural settlement. It was passed from friend to friend who took a generous chew, then leaned back to discuss every problem, big or small that came up.

The folks of the little community gathered at this little corner store of Ladoga in cold wintery days when the blizzard whirled and howled outside, when the rains fell, when death and trouble came, when the sun was scorching hot and on long summer evenings when the interior was lit by the dim glow of a kerosene lamp or lantern when cast dark shadows her and there.

They came in wagons, sleds, buggies, horseback and on foot.

Ox-team drawn wagons stopped to rest and sometimes a stranger stopped at the depot across the road or a friendless hobo padded down the tracks and stopped for a hand out. One tramp along the tracks killed and roasted a big-eyed chick, so the story goes. It had made him deathly sick when he ate it so to this day we do not eat owls.

The store was a generous one as it held most anything one’s heart was set upon buying: a few groceries, a spool of thread, harness, wire, candlesnuffers, a pair of black or brown cotton hose, a sack of flour, freshly ground corn meal from the water wheel mill at Hawleyville, homemade butter, a box of snuff or a yard of calico.

Little children left dirty little smudges and finger marks on the candy case where they lingered to gaze and discuss all the luscious goodness that their eyes beheld, striped peppermint sticks, horehound and rock candy or the hard lumps of the Xmas sweetness that lay in the case all through the year. In all the world as they grew older, did they ever find anything that equaled the splendor and the dreams that came to them as they looked longingly at that beautiful display and tried to figure out the best buy for their pennies.

The old tobacco splattered stove sat surrounded by old chairs, and old rickety bench, old boxes and nail keys; a silent companion as it heard the weird old stories passed from mouth to mouth of murders, births and deaths, Indian raids, crops, politics, new railroads, riches, poverty or glories that each talker told as he said and smoked his pipe or wallowed his cud of tobacco around in his mouth, chewed a broom straw or whittled on a stick of firewood that lay stacked by the stove. Maybe he munched candy or carved his initials on the scarred old chairs or benches. Perhaps he sharpened a toothpick from a box sliver.

Ladoga is gone. The last remaining survivor, the old church, stands along. It, that used to hear the muffled steps of the congregation as it passed quietly in to listen to the words of God, now hear the clang of machinery being housed under its wide roof.

On the hill stands the cemetery. Within are remains of many who once gathered at the little community center of Ladoga.

The railroad, that once served this little town, was taken up rail by rail by a group of laughing, jesting men, who little realized that those worn rusty tracks were once the life line of a community, hauling away their cattle, hogs and grain but bringing back the needed necessities of life.

Many a sigh of regret was heard as the old train went slowly down the track for the last time, past the old familiar farms, the old school yard, the little grey church, past the men, women, and children that stood and watched it chug slowly out of sight.

Its smoke curled upward and away toward the little cemetery on the hill as if bidding farewell to those who were buried there.