Page 4 - Callanan materials exist today
Read this page to find why Callanan materials still survive today.

     On March 2, 1951, an article in the Webster City paper contained an article about the chimney of William Koop's farmhouse being modified.   The reconstruction efforts allowed the discovery of a box of materials saved from the early Hamilton County settlement, Callanan.   The community of Callanan is called "Callahan" in the article below.   The article is written out, or "quoted" below.


"Chimney Revives Old History"

     "William Koop examines one of the four record books, dated back nearly to Civil War days, which he found in a sealed up attic at his farm home recently. (Freeman-Journal Photo by Ken Heffington)."

     "The crash of a collapsing chimney at the William Koop farm home southeast of Jewell signalled the unveiling of the history of Callahan, a once prominent community, now long forgotten by most of the residents in Hamilton county.

For it was because of the collapsing chimney that Koop, whose home is on the site of the once proud town of Callahan's general store, found four record books of the store, dating back to the decade following the Civil Way.

After the chimney collapsed, Koop was forced to cut a hole in the wall of the house to facilitate repairs.  In an attic, which he estimated had been sealed up for over half a century, the musty volumes, telling much of the history of a pioneer Iowa community wer unearthed.

The books were ledgers belonging to the owner of the Callahan general store.  Unlike the modern precision-like bookkeeping methods used by modern business firms today, the ledgers contained an odd assortment of notes scribbled in Norwegian and German, short sketches of unexplained poetry every few pages, short notes and personal reminders.

For anyone scanning the old books, it would not be difficult to ascertain why the pioneer market place was known as a "general store."  For example, some of the bargains offered, included coffins at $7, corn 20 cents per bushel, and pocket watches for 20 cents.  The book shows that the most popular commodities among the early pioneers, however, were sugar, flour, nails and tobacco, with at least 75 per cent of the sales being "rung up" among these four items.

The books were especially interesting to Koop, for written plainly in the fashionable handwriting flourish common to the early era, was the name of his grandfather who had resided in the community three-quarters of a century ago."

The "ledgers" mentioned above in this Freeman-Journal article published on March 2, 1951
still survive and can be seen today!

     Two newspapers were published in Callanan.  The first, the Callanan Herald, was established in January 1879, and appeared "occasionally."  In December of the same year, the Callanan Register was started by H. H. Johnson, but existed for only a few weeks.

On July 12, 1928, The Ellsworth News printed the following article which tells of an 1878 newspaper, The Callanan Herald, which still survives today in the State of Iowa Historical Society library in Des Moines:

Besides the newspaper and the ledgers mentioned on this page, and the Depot,
there are other Callanan artifacts that still survive today.

Have you seen these homes?

House at 1425 Delphi,
moved to Fllsworth from Callanan in 1882 

House at 1520 Delphi,
moved to Ellsworth from Callanan in 1893

House at 1519 Dayton,
Business stucture moved from Callanan and made into a residence

A Callanan Story
told in the 1981 Jewell Centennial Book

     The narrow gauge railroad was being built north from Ames, and Lyon, Lincoln, Scott and Ellsworth townships voted a 5 per cent tax, but the company had to have a depot built and a train over the road by a certain date in the winter of 1878.

     The road kept on the west side of the river, but the depot had to be on the east side to meet the distance called for from the corner of the four townships.   This called for a high grade and a bridge, but it was winter.   So a makeshift bridge of logs and wild hay held up the rails, so an engine and one car went over.   Thus a new town was born.   This was almost three miles south of Lakin's Grove, so Lakin's Grove was doomed.    Some wanted to retain the name of Lakin for the new postoffice, but the railroad named it Callanan.   In the spring of 1878, the town was platted.

     S. G. Johnson moved his general store from Lakin's Grove to Callanan.   Peter Ryberg moved to a southern state for a year.   The stage house quit buisiness and the building was used for a stock and tool shed.   Callanan was platted in April, 1878.   The town was even referred to as North and South Callanan.   After the town was moved away, John Ringstad bought the land that was northeast and residential sections.   This caused him legal work to secure all of the different deeds.

    The narrow gauge railroad grade across the river can still be seen.   Callanan was a boom town and had a fast and furious life of less than three years.   The narrow gauge railroad terminated there, while endeavoring to secure more taxes to build northeast to Iowa Falls through Williams.    Because Callanan was born and died between census taking years, it is hardly possible that any accurate number of residents could be secured.   In the Callanan Herald printed December 14, 1878, it has more local buisness advertisements than all of the papers in the county now, outside of Webster City.   Here are some of the businesses:  blacksmith, brickyard, hardware, boots and shoes (made to order), city billiard hall, two house and carriage painters,  three hotels (one with a big advertisement)  Scandinavian Hotel with plenty of stable room.   The Callanan Hotel had a ball room and advertised Christmas balls at 10 cents a corner.   Other ads included four coal dealers, music teachers, two land agents, millinery goods, two general stores, farm machinery and poultry buyer, able mechanic and carpenters, furniture, J. J. Haight - attorney,  J. T. Livinggood - M.D.,  G. W. Black - M.D. (who later moved to Ellsworth),  and Dr. Tremaine M.D. (who later moved to Webster City.   There were also a wagon shop, a butcher shop, and two or three saloons and a schoolhouse.   Professor Eldridge conducted a teachers' institute that winter.    Church and Sunday school were held in the schoolhouse.

    Callanan had no law enforcement of any kind and drunken brawls were frequent.   Some say there were three murders from this cause, but the History of Hamilton Couny by J. W. Lee gives only two.  The one was when a drunken man stepped off a train and shot into a July 4th crowd that had gathered to see the train come in.   Jacob Heng died from the wound.

    As most all bad things have some good, so it was with Callanan.   It brought many things to the pioneer that they had been going to Webster City or Nevada for.   The doctors were one big gain, as they had been without one since Dr. Cochran moved away.

    While the narrow gauge was trying to secure taxes to extend, the (Chicago &) Northwestern came from the east, making two (rail) roads east and west across the county, but none going north and south.   The narrow gauge still planned on building, which would have made a crossing north and east of Callanan.   The Northwestern railroad got busy and the county voted a tax for a standard width railroad.   The narrow gauge road went into receivership and the Northwestern company bought it.   The Northwestern kept farther west of the Skunk River, going to Webster City, missing Callanan more than a mile, and making a junction on the Jewell farm.   Ellsworth had been planned as a junction, but the narrow gauge did not come, and Callanan died.

    Ellsworth and Jewell were born the winter of 1879 and 1880.  They are only three miles apart, but both did well.    Callanan was divided between the two towns which makes them the grandchildren of Lakin's Grove...

    The original town of Callanan was platted June 29, 1878 in Ellsworth township.  Plattors were R. N. Woodworth, John W. Mattice, and George M. Everitt.   North Callanan was platted January 21, 1879 by Sarah E. and J. T. Haight in Lyon township.   W. M. Barkhuff received a deed December 26, 1881 for Lot 8, Block 2, Original Callanan, consideration $20.   Lots in North Callanan seemed to have sold at higher prices being from $25 up to $600 and one $800.   Possibly buildings had been erected.   Jane R. King or Mrs. John R. "Jack" King owned lots 3, 5, and 5 of Block 4, North Callanan.

    Varick C. Crosley of Webster City has these recollections:

    My father, the late Col. George W. Crosley, was the sheriff of Hamilton County from 1880 to 1884.   He often told of a hurry trip to Callanan about, I think, in the winter of 1882.   There had been a very heavy snow, 4 or more feet, followed by a rain, then turned cold and froze, frozen so hard to hold a team and sleigh.  The crew building the Northwestern line from Ellsworth to Jewell could not work.   They, and mostly all Irish including their foreman, had walked from Ellsworth where they were quarted in a building or in box cars, to Callanan and had taken over Jack King's saloon.   He had the station agent there wire the sheriff, my father.  "The Irish have taken the town,"  (Telegraph was via Des Moines, Tata, Fort Dodge to Webster City) "to come at once."  Father hitched up his team to a cutter, accompanied by his deputy, George Wyckoff, and drove across country about 22 miles in two hours, stopped the fight, ordered the men out of town to their quarters, which the proceeded to obey, and drove home the same route following their tracks going there, but going back slower.   I remember later in my life hearing Jack King tell about it.    As a small boy 6 or 7 years old, I accompanied by father on trips to Des Moines, the Chicago and Northwestern to Jewell, thence by hack to Callanan about 3 miles (before the Chicago and Northwestern was built into Jewll) and thence to Des Moines.   The Des Moines to Callanan was a narrow gauge track.   I recall that "Bill" Loder was the hack driver.

      The Chicago and Northwestern built a line from Jewell to meet the "Callanan road" at a point about on the north side of Section 14, Ellsworth township, where the road turned toward Callanan.   When this regular gauge track was completed, about 1884, the Northwestern officials arranged to have all of their section crews assemble along the line and change it (on a Sunday, from daylight to dark), the rails from narrow gauge to standard gauge.   It was completed in one day.   Working on Sundays was not in keeping with the majority of the people.

The time table shows that the Des Moines & Minneapolis Railroad served Callanan with two passenger trains each day, one going north and the other south.   And after fifty years, the passenger service is no better than it was in Callanan during the pioneer days.

Here are some of the advertisers in The Callanan Herald of fifty years ago:

 F. I. Cash, merchant tailor, Second Street, Webster City
 J. T. Haight, attorney at law and notary public, Callanan
 I. H. Brown, notary public, real estate and collection agent, Williams, Iowa
 A. Hutchin, attorney at law and notary public, Webster City, Iowa, first door north of the Hamilton County Bank
 G. W. Black, physician and surgeon, Callanan
 Martin & Hall, attorneys at law, Webster City
 F. G. Lewis, Dentist, Webster City
 Central House, Alden Iowa, M. J. Davis, Proprietor, one of the most commodious and best regulated hotels
 Duncombe House, E. S. Cole, proprietor, Fort Dodge

Memories of Callanan by Mathilda Ringstad Johnson:

    Since my father purchased the land where Callanan was located in the late 1870s, he told us many stories about this town.   Since the railroad ran through part of this land, this town was started here along the Skunk River.   Father said it was a pretty little town nestled in the valley along the river, with rolling land on both sides.   It had many business places.

    At the store in Callanan where Father J. O. Ringstad and Chris Thoreson operated a store, the beans, sugar, dried peas and even coffee were kept in bins that were pulled out from under the counter.   So they were put in sacks when sold.   They had a large coffeee grinder to use for customers who liked it ground.   Most people owned coffee grinders, so their cofee was fresher.   Prunes, raisins, currants and dried peaches were kept in boxes with see-through tops and sold by the pound.   Crackers were sold by the pound or by the large wooden boxes where they were kept.   They had very little canned goods on the shelf like we have.   I've also been told that brown sugar was sold mostly since refined white sugar was very scarce.   Molasses was plentiful and sold from a barrel as was vinegar.   Apples were sold by the pound or by the barrel.   Most people bought apples by the barrel to have for winter in the cellar where they kept well.  The grocery department occupied only a corner of the store.   Customers brought containers, one or two gallon cans, to purchase kerosene for the lamps.   A lot of the lamps were kept for sale.   One or two spittoons were always kept for the sustomers to use who like to stay and visit.   Benches were provided to sit on.

     To me it seems like people just didn't rush with their work like they do now.   Their store was filled with a lot of dry goods, ready to wear work clothes, coats for winter, a lot of material to use for making clothes.   They even sold denim by the yard.   Mother said she made a dress of denim one and wore it when she went to Nevada in a wagon.   As she walked up town, some girls laughed at her dress; then Mother was ashamed of it and went back to the wagon and waited for her folks.   She didn't get her shopping done.  So, it must have been motly people in the country who used denim for clothes.   Sheep lines coats and fur coats were sold to men, since they needed them when they drove to town in the winter.   No cars, of course.

History of Ellsworth  (Page A)