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BY MIKE AVITT
I’ve written about this photo before but I have further information. The picture comes from the Orr Fisher collection and was taken in 1939.
The December 2, 1875 Ringgold Record newspaper describes the construction of this building, the buildings to the west, and the occupants. There were three buildings built at the same time in the fall of 1875. The edifice in this week’s picture was erected for DeWitt C. Kinsell and Dr. John T. Merrill as Ringgold County Bank. Mr. Kinsell’s son-in-law, George Allyn, would use this building for his bank from 1900 to 1913. Dr. Merrill, who had moved from Ringgold City to Mount Ayr in 1866, built a drug store at 104 W. Madison (Still Smokin’) in 1894 which remained a drug store until 2001.
This building also housed (Charlie) Stranahan’s Busy Corner (grocery store) from 1913 to 1919 and the Milligan Sister’s Millinery from 1920 to 1928. Dr. J. W. Hill was located here from 1934 to 1938. His new building, built in 1938, can be seen at right. J. R. Thompson’s grocery store was the last business here from October 1938 to February 1939.
The building was left in place during construction of the Mount Ayr Post Office for use as an office and storage unit.
To the west was a double storefront building occupied by Zachary Taylor Kinsell and his hardware store and tin shop. The Kinsell name would be associated with hardware and dry goods for 65 years in the early history of Mt. Ayr.
The next building west was the harness shop of N. W. Clark. Clark later partnered with L. C. Shepherd and Shepherd moved in 1894. Veterinarian Dr. E. C. Sheumaker tore down the old building and built new in 1912. He was still there in 1939 when he sold his lot for the new post office.
In the background of our photo we can see Hawkeye Lumber Co. This lumber yard was started around 1880 as Cole & Pratt Lumber and was later purchased by a Mr. Ballew. Hawkeye Lumber bought the firm in 1902. The last time I saw Hawkeye Lumber mentioned in the Record-News was in 1986. The building was razed in 1994.
It is difficult to see, but beyond the seated gentleman is a billboard in the distance. This is the second photo I’ve seen of this billboard although neither image could be seen clearly. That lot would now be the Hy-Vee parking lot.
The new post office was dedicated August 22, 1940 with much fanfare. The Ringgold County Extension Office occupied the basement. On June 11, 1941. “The Corn Parade,” a mural painted by local artist Orr Fisher, was hung. In June 1953, rent on post office boxes was raised for the first time since 1907.
I’m always looking for historic photographs, scrapbooks, newspapers, maps, bank checks, yearbooks, event programs, brochures, advertising, and other printed material. Thank you, everyone, for your comments.