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BY MIKE AVITT
I spoke at the Mount Ayr Public Library during Ayr Days on the topic of ghost towns. A keen student of Ringgold County history pointed out my omission of Polen during my talk and I admit I thought it would go unnoticed.
I took this week’s picture on April 3, 2010 in the southwest quarter of section 14, Lincoln Township. Tindle Cemetery has nine known burials. The only other cemetery in this township is Rising Sun in section 10. Lincoln Township, in the northwest corner of Ringgold County, was the home of Polen and Marena. The town of Marena came about because of George Wyant’s grist mill. Grinding corn into meal and wheat into flour was of the utmost importance before the railroads came. The post office there appears to have been in section 22 of Lincoln Twp. and opened in 1875 with G. A. Wyant as postmaster..
Polen was in section 3 and was named after Samuel Polen. The opening of the Polen Post Office was announced in the Ringgold Record newspaper of March 24, 1892. The Ringgold Record of July 18, 1901 said the post offices at Polen and Mortimer would close by September 1st. Mortimer was between Polen and Shannon City. C. S. McLaughlin would be the rural mail carrier for the Polen vicinity.
Rural Free Delivery (RFD) began in Ringgold County in 1901 and closed many small town and rural post offices. The last Ringgold County post office NOT in an incorporated town was Caledonia in 1908.
Construction of the Fairview Methodist Episcopal Church in section 11 began in October 1890 and was enclosed by Christmas of that year. It was dedicated February 15, 1891. There is recorded history that the church was closed by 1925 but I have not been able to verify this information.
From 1890 to 1910, Ringgold County was at peak population with around 15,000 residents. As travel was often difficult or impossible, it was necessary for villages, hamlets, and communities to exist throughout the county for religious services, postal services, groceries, dry goods and more. Things like rural free delivery, automobiles, the growth of incorporated towns, and decreasing population, made these communities less important.
Surnames associated with Polen were Culbertson, Andrews, Gard, Wyant, Bliss, Davenport, Boyce, Wilkinson, Parker, Polen, Baumann, Tindle, Hayes, and others.
Lincoln Township rural schools No. 6 (Carroll) and No. 7 (Woodbine) were sold at public auction in 1958. That’s all I have for now but when I get time I’d like to research Kew and Lee, two other small communities.