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BY MIKE AVITT
A friend was asking me about the commemorative blocks placed in the sidewalks, around the Mount Ayr square. The blocks are etched with the names of towns, communities, and post offices, and the year they were established. There are about 44 of them.
My friend didn’t understand that some of these post offices closed 140 years ago. There are also some other things I think I can clarify.
I walked around the square making notes and I noticed Ellston is represented twice; once as Ellston and once as Wirt. The CB&Q railroad pressed Wirt to change its name from Wirt to Ellston in late 1895 because Van Wert was on the same railroad line. The railroad felt that was confusing.
Watterson is represented three times. The first post office was called Thomas, followed by Poyneer, and, finally, Watterson. The Salem community, which was not a town, is honored twice on the square sidewalks. Salem was located about five miles southwest of Kellerton and had a post office, a church, and a school, but the post office name was Wanamaker. I’m guessing this was because the State of Iowa already had a Salem Post Office in Henry County.
Kellerton was established in 1879 when the first railroad came to Ringgold County. But, Kellerton’s previous name was New Chicago and both names appear on blocks. New Chicago moved about a half mile north to meet the railroad, but didn’t have a post office. The nearest post office was called Cross.
I saw Lee and Mt. Zion blocks. Lee was a community about nine miles south of Kellerton. Lee had a church, a school, and a store. The school was called Modoc and was about one-fourth of a mile south of Lee and I think the church was called Mt. Zion.
Most of the blocks I saw were short-lived post offices. These post offices were in the homes of the postmaster or postmistress. People move and pass away and these rural post offices, being federal government entities, probably took a great deal of time to be named and appointments made.
This week’s picture shows the former Maloy Post Office. It closed on July 18, 1997. Prior to that closing, the post office at Delphos closed November November 19, 1993. Prior to that, Beaconsfield’s Post Office closed October 29, 1993. The last post office to close in Ringgold County was the one at Benton and that was a couple of years ago.