Snapshot of History
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Ellston’s original depot burned in 1907 and a new one was built later that year.
Let’s look at the beginning of this Union Township town.
Surveyors for the Humeston & Shenandoah Railroad were staking out the right-of-way in northern Ringgold County in 1881. The Ellston Centennial Book says Dr. John Davis and Abner Goodell provided and secured land for the railroad and the town of Wirt was born.
I took a close look at the 1881 and 1882 Ringgold Record newspapers and found Abner Goodell, but not Dr. John Davis.
Mr. Goodell was host to railroad officials and engineers as the railroad was being built in 1882. In June of 1882, Goodell was appointed Marshall of Union Township. One month later, the post office at Union Hill, northeast of Wirt, was abolished and mail diverted to the new town.
By October 1882, Warren Stoff had already shipped a car of livestock. Businesses like a lumber yard (F. Robinson), general store (George Hughey), farm implements (L. Ketchum), butcher shop (Mr. McCarty), drug store (H. Ambrosier), and a boarding house (N. J. Kent) were already in place. Two houses and another store were under construction.
Most importantly, the depot, water tank, and wind pump were completed.
In 1883, a new Evangelical Church was built and dedicated on September 23. It was located one block north of where the Cornwall House sits today on the northwest corner of the intersection.
The congregation had been established in the area years earlier with Frank Newman as Superintendent of the Sunday School. Rev. J. Wirth preached here in 1886 and 1887.
The new school was built in 1886 with F. R. Porter as principal and Miss Lou Campbell as teacher. The building would stay in use until 1930.
The railroad at Wirt went into receivership in 1895 and was taken over by the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad. Van Wert was on the same rail line to the east and the CB&Q wanted to avoid confusion so they changed the name of Wirt to Ellston.
The railroad started using the name Ellston in mid-October 1895. The post office made the change on January 1, 1896.
Ellston has many claims to fame but few people know Ellston was the first town in Ringgold County to have a public library.
It was established May 5, 1900. That library closed but a few years ago a library opened in the United Methodist Church.
As far as I know, it is still going.