Mormantown [later Blockton]
from TAYLOR COUNTY REPUBLICAN, Bedford, Iowa, 28 Mar 1878
[transcribed by Pat O'Dell,]


Mormantown, to begin with, is a misnomer. Mormons never had anything to do with the starting of the town. To be sure, a straggling band, comprising some six or eight families in all, in the year 1878, found their way hither, and settled on a tract of land embracing some thing like three hundred acres, where they remained for a short period, making certain minor improvements, such as a millrace, a small saw mill, and a few log huts, scattered promiscuously over and around the land, aforementioned, but nothing bearing the least resemblance to a town. As just stated, they occupied the land in this hellerskelter style for a few years, and then sold their interest in it to Isaac Newton and sons, and left for their longed-for-Zion, the land of Brigham. Newton and sons in turn sold to Thomas King, and he it was who platted and laid out the town, the original plat covering something less than twenty acres. That was between eleven and twelve years ago. How the town came by its present euphonious title I have neither asked nor learned. It is presumable, however, that King so named it in honor of its original inhabitants.

The town is located in the extreme southeast corner of Taylor county, half a mile from the Ringgold county line, and three miles from the Missouri State line. It lies in Jefferson township, and is fifteen miles southeast of Bedford, and eighteen miles southwest of Mt Ayr, the county seat of Ringgold. Its location is a fine one in many respects, as for instance, its agricultural surroundings, taking in, as it does, in the way of trade, a region of county extending fourteen miles to the north, the same distance east, and nearly as far to the south and west. Again, it is delightfully situated on the banks of the Platte river, a stream nearly two hundred miles in length, and quite large above its junction with the Missouri. In addition to this the town, like a young nestling, takes shelter from the cutting blasts of winter as well as the oppressive heat of summer, under the shade and shadow of a magnificent grove of forest trees--the confort of which in either season, is better understood and appreciated by the denizons of prairie towns than in the eastern States. It numbers twenty five dwelling houses, and about one hundred and fifty inhabitants. Its business lots range from $25 to $40 each, while its dwelling lots are scarce and hard to get at any reasonable price. In size its lots are five rods in width by seven rods in length. The following is a complete list of its business houses and other institutions:

Sidney Schram, dealer in general merchandise, carries a stock of $4,000, and his yearly sales average about $15,000. He was from Missouri to this point, and has been in business here only since last fall; long enough, at least, to demonstrate the fact that he is bound to win in the sale of goods in Mormontown. He is also a Justice of the Peace here.

J.W. Moore has dealt in general merchandise here, at intervals, for the last seven or eight yers. He is out of that business now, and is devoting his time exclusively to the interests of his farm, of which he has a fine one, of two hundred and ten acres, just west of and adjoining the town plot. Mr M. at one time was engaged in mercantile pursuits at Grant City, Mo., from which point he came to this and commenced in the same line of business. He has in fact followed this business for a life time, and is consequently thoroughly [------] in all of its various details. Mr Moore ws orginially from Illinois.

J.E. Babson, dealer in drugs and groceries, is doing a smashing business--some days keeping two clerks as busy as Italian bees in the handling and sale of goods from behind his counters. He will shortly move into a larger building and then he'll "Make things get." He started in here sometime in November, 1875, coming from Franklin county, Iowa, to this point.

J.K. Parshall, has the only hardware establishment in town, and in connection therewith a shop for the manufacture of tin ware. He is also the only dealer in agricultural implements, carring a stock in all of the three branches of about $3,500. His sales, some days, reach as high as $100. He has been in the present business since last fall only. He came from Pennsylvania to Mormontown eleven years ago, and was the first blacksmith here after the Mormons left for Salt Lake.

The "Continental House" was started as a hotel by J.J. Stevenson, the present proprietor, about two years ago. As a land lord, Mr S. is affable and accommdating and what is more to the point, is not at all disposed, in the matter of charges, to skin his guests alive at first sight, as is the manner of some hotel keepers in Western Iowa. His bills are moderate and his fare is good. Success to him in his role of landlord.

Dr A. White has been in Mormontown eight years, and is well posted in the history of the town from first to last. He was for five years the only physician in this locality. He is a gentleman of polished manners and pleasing address. His former home was in Delaware county, this State.

Wisdom Bros, are among the oldest residents of this section of county--Mr Wisdom, himself, coming to Ringgold county in 1855. They deal extensively in general merchandise, their stocks averaging $10,000, and their yearly sales $20,000. They started in here sometime in 1872. Mr W. is Postmaster here, besides being a Morgan killer of the Seventh, or Royal Arch Degree, of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masonry,and therefore works upon both the square and the triangle.

Mrs D.S. Mossman carries on the only millinery establishment in the place; and during the six months that she has been engaged at the business, has been unusually busy, which, of course, means that she has met with financial success. She is a lady of fine deportment, and one every way worthy of fortune's smiles.

A.F. Severns owns and carries on the only harness shop here--in fact it's the only one the town ever had. He keeps constantly on hand from fifteen to twenty sets of harness, besides saddles, collars, whips, and the like, his stock, in dollars and cents, amounting to upwards of $1000. He is almost a native of this part of Iowa, having been in this and Ringgold counties for the last twenty years.

R.L. Golding has been in the blacksmithing business in this town for the last two years. He was from Bedford to Mormontown, and is one who understand his trade thoroughly.

Virgil Chipman has one of the neatest and tidiest furniture stores to be met with anywhere. He deals in furniture, coffins, upholstery goods, cabinet hardware, etc., and is doing a good business for the times. His sales amount to about $1,2000 a year. He has been in the town since 1873, and in his present business two years, coming from Missouri to Mormontown. He is well heeled in the matter of town property, such as business and dwelling houses and lots.

Dr George W. Bellus has practiced medicine in the town and its vicinity for the past three years, and is meeting with the best success financially and otherwise. He was from Franklin county, Iowa, to this point.

Thomas King owns and operates the "Morman Mill." It was built by him in 1873; is three stories in height, including basement; has two run of burrs, and will grind one hundred bushels of wheat, and one hundred and fifty bushels of corn, every twenty-four hours. He does custom work altogether. It is water mill, and is worth about $4,000.

L.H. Smith the other blacksmith has been here but a short time. He has lived for eight years past on a farm in Grant township, this county, changing his place [newspaper folded or gone and not readable].

Benj Butler?---[paper gone] He has three hundred acres under cultivation, the balance being timber land. In the way of stock, such as hogs and cattle, he has in years past, turned off as high as $3,000 in a single year. His health is such that he is not so extensively engaged in farming operations at the present time. It is both a stock and grain farm. Of hogs and horses on hand, he has of the first, eight head, and of the last, twelve head, including colts. Mr B is a native of the State of Ohio. And now, coming to the other instutions of the town, I will mention first...

The Public School, taught by Mr Orr Campbell, a Bedford boy, of twenty-one months experience in this town, and one, too, who has and is giving the most unbounded satisfaction here as a teacher; and, further, for whose services the District cheerfully pays the sum of fifty-five dollars per month. The school at present numbers fifty pupils, though there are one hundred pupils in the District. The building, which is one story in height, is well finished and furnished with patent? desks, blackboards and on line maps. There are thrity-six of the seats and desks combined, and they will seat comfortably seventy-four persons--pupils or adults--as occasions require; by which I wish to be understood that the building is used not only for school, but church and other purposes, whenever there is a demand for public services of one kind and another.

Pleasant Valley Lodge, No 273 I.O.O.F., was organized October 22d, 1874. It numbers at present between forty-five and fifty members; has a very nice and commodious Lodge room, well fitted up and furnished with pedestals, platforms, charts, etc., and is in a flourishing condition, financially and otherwise.

There is no Masonic Lodge here at the present time, howbeit, there are a dozen or more of the Fraternity in and near town, each and all staunch and true, and there for good material for the building of the Temple at this point. Two of these--Dr White and P.J. Wisdom--I may state, are R.A.M's [?] It is the intention to start a lodge here during the coming summer or fall.

There are three church organizations here Methodist, United Brethren and Baptist - but no church building. The M.E. society was organized seven or eight years ago. The circuit, of which Mormantown is the head, at first embraced seven preaching places; but last fall it was divided, so that now there are but four. The society numbers forty members, with Rev R Randolph as its pstor. Regular meetings are held every two weeks. There is a good parsonage for the accommodation of its ministers.

The United Brethren have a membership of about ten in the town, with a much larger number in the country. Rev D.R. Long? the resident pastor, occupies the parsonage belonging to the society. Services are held on each alternate Sunday.

The Baptist, being few in numbers, hold services only occasionally, only once in four weeks. Having no regular minister, they are dependent upon preachers from a distance conducting their services.

Mormontown, like Conway, has been having a series of religious meetings, all the church organizations taking apart therein; and the result is that the Methodist have received nine members on probation, and the United Brethren six.

Another thing, not exactly of a religious cast or character, and that is the charivari, given for the benfit of a newly married pair, at the hotel, during the night of our stay there. We have, in years past, heard many a [----] of the kind, but nothing in the way of [---] that in the least could or would compare with this. Mormontown against the world for an old fashioned charivari, and now, passing to other matters of a business character, we come directly to the stirring little town of