Ellsworth gets started. Our town began in
(images without border may be clicked to enlarge)
Before Ellsworth existed, there
were several settlements in the area.
They led towards developing the town of Ellsworth.
Click here --->
to learn about Lakin's Grove.
Click here --->
to learn about Callanan.
To learn about the early history of Hamilton County,
The naming of the town of Ellsworth
There have been several
theories as the the naming of the town of Ellsworth. One source said
that it was named for a railroad official, another stated that it was named
for an Iowa Falls banker. It has been stated in several historical
references Ellsworth was named after a railroad official or surveyor who
had helped to survey the right of way through this territory.
A son of this man confirmed to Henri Fjetland that his father was a civil
engineer who laid out the track from the east. The plan was to have
7 miles between towns. Learning that there was a railroad junction
three miles west (Jewell Junction), he questioned the location and put
his name with a question mark where Ellsworth was located.
Another story is that the
town was named Ellsworth to honor the memory of Col.
Elmer E. Ellsworth, of the Chicago Zouzves, who was murdered in Virginia
in the War of the Rebellion. Many scholars think this was the
real reason for the name because it was confirmed in a 1908
book distributed by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company,
which gives the reasons for the names of all of the towns it created.
The town of Ellsworth was
platted in October, 1880, by John I. Blair, for the Western Town Lot
Company, the real estate division of the Toledo & Northwestern
Railroad. Ellsworth is located in Section 30-87-23 of Lincoln Township
and in Section 25-87-23 of Lyon Township. It has a very close history
to two other settlements: Lakin's Grove and Callanan. This railroad
town drew its population from these two early settlement communities.
The Callanan depot was moved to Ellsworth. The next building to be
moved into Ellsworth was the L. R. Bjelde Blacksmith Shop, which came from
The original plat consisted
of eight blocks: four east-west and two north-south. The streets
running east-west were Decora, and Des Moines Avenues. The streets runnng
north-south were Delphi, Desota, Dewitt, Dayton, Dearborn Streets.
It is interesting to note that all seven streets names started with the
letter D. This did not happen in any of the other Hamilton County
A post office was established
on Jan. 20, 1881, and is still in service. It was first located in
the General Store, owned and operated by John Ringstad and Chris Thoreson.
This business was moved to Ellsworth from Callanan. Ringstad
became the first postmaster. He also served as the first mayor
and the first Justice of the Peace.
Articles found on page 5 of the "Hamilton Freeman" (Webster
published Wednesday, December 15, 1880
NEW POST OFFICE
The new stations along the
line of the T. & N. W. R. R. will be provided with post-offices
just as soon as possible after trains run regularly to and from them.
Mrs. John A. Cooper, a most
worthy and excellent woman, has been recommended for postmaster at Jewell
Junction. The office will be established as soon as proper provision
can be made for it.
The people of Callanan and
Ellsworth, realizing that it will be impossible to maintain two offices
within the distance between the two points, are petitioning the department
to establish an office at Ellsworth which it will be pretty sure to do.
We are informed that the citizens of Callanan are very generally in favor
of this move, as they are pretty well satisfied that Jewell Junction and
Ellsworth together will pretty much absorb their town in the near future.
<---- The Toledo and Northwestern
printed in the same paper includes this sentence:
The 8:00 A.M. train south from Webster City connects by transfer
at Ellsworth with the Des Moines Division of the T & N W R.R., leaving
Callanan at 10:15, reaching Ames at 11:20 A.M., transferring to Ellsworth
at 1:29, and arriving in Webster City at 2:00 P.M.
Trains run daily except Sundays.
This article from the
April 21, 1880 Hamilton Freedom newspaper mentions the nearby early
settlement called Callanan.
Callanan seems to be improving
some this spring, not withstanding the conflicting "hopes and fears" in
to the exact location of the Toledo & Northwestern R.R. line through
Lyon and Lincoln townships. The town has a fine country to
draw from, and has already built up a good business. We can
only wish our sprightly little neighbor the best of luck in the future.
Some of the early residents of Ellsworth had served
in the Civil War.
This full list of Ellsworth's veterans can be seen
in the History Room of the Library.
First child born in Ellsworth
This photo of a 16 year old girl
shows the first child born in the Ellsworth area. Laura Igou was
born on February 29, 1880. She was a grandchild of Luther and Cynthia
Lakin. She was the daughter of Milton and Nancy (Lakin) Igou.
Laura later married John Peterson, and the two were parents of Ruth Peterson
(later Mrs. Arnold Sheldahl), and Mildred Peterson (later Mrs. Fred Caudle).
1880 - The Millinery Shop
The Millinary Shop building
was in one of the first structures moved to Ellsworth in 1880.
It was located where the Public Library now stands. It was operated
by Marie Vikingstad (Mrs. George Peterson). A Photography shop
was on the second floor.
Ladies in the Millinery Shop
The Ellsworth post office
was established on Jan. 20, 1881, and is still in service. It was
located in the General Store, owned and operated by John Ringstad and Chris
Thoreson. That General Store business had been moved to Ellsworth
from Callanan. Ringstad became the first postmaster. He also
served as the first mayor and the first Justice of the Peace.
1881 Blacksmith Shop
After the Callanan depot was moved to Ellsworth, the
next building to be moved into the new town of Ellsworth was the L.
R. Bjelde Blacksmith Shop, which had come from Lakin's Grove in 1881.
L. R. Bjelde operated this Wagon Shop, and did what
the sign suggests, Horse Shoeing.
He was associated with Peter Ryberg for many years.
1883 MEMORIAL DAY
The first Declaration Day in Ellsworth
was in 1883. May 30th was called Declaration Day for
years. John A. Logan named and dedicated it to the soldiers
of the Civil War. Mr Logan was the first commander of the G.A.R.
soon after the close of the war. The first Declaration Day
in Ellsworth had a story behind it.
Ellsworth was a couple of years
old as was also big brother Jewell, only three miles west. Somebody
suggested that the two little communities have a joint program in a grove
in the afternoon. Each could decorate their own graves in the
morning. Jewell's choice was a grove much closer to them, but
the little town of Ellsworth bristled up with "not that far from us.
We can have our own program." And they have had their own
ever since. It was held in the cemetery as was the custom in
early days. No place in town would be large enough.
Ellsworth has been blessed
with citizens who have worked to keep this custom alive. The
activities of the Memorial Day celebration have changed over the
years but the reason to celebrate is still much the same.
1885 - Building a School
(image may be clicked to enlarge)
the building of homes and the churches, the pioneers were eager to build
a school in the community. Ellsworth Public School was soon established
and in full operation. The frst public school had two parts
to the two-story frame school house building; the front part of the school
house was built during the period 1885 to 1890 with the first floor room
used for primary grades while the second floor had the grammar grades.
The back part of the schoolhouse was built in 1900, and was used by the
upper grades. This part was used to house the upper grades.
This building faced North and was located
just east of where Steve Holt's residence is now located (along Dephi St.
where the homes now located at 1724 Delphi Street and 1728 Delphi Street
Students standing in front of Ellsworth's first school
See other photos of this
early school and a map showing where in Ellsworth it was located.
1898 ROBBERY of the STATE BANK of Ellsworth
It was a hot summer night
in 1898 that the State Bank of Ellsworth was robbed of $1,500. The
two well-dressed men who robbed the bank had already eaten the evening
meal with Mattie's family, the John Ringstad family 3/4 mile south of Ellsworth.
After visiting with the family for a while, the men had rested in a nearby
field until total darkness.
After robbing the bank, they caught the eastbound midnight
train to Gifford, Iowa. There they sought lodging at the hotel.
After the men had been apprehended, the $1,500 in a cigar box was found
under the bed.
1898 Train Crash
In 1898, two freight trains
crashed together opposite the stock yards, just east of the depot, piling
up cars and tearing up the track. One train was a double
header and the other was being pulled by one of the six-wheel drive
locomotive, completely telescoped the freight car behind it.
There were no lives lost, but a great deal of damage to railroad property
Ellsworth is seen on a 1899 map.
(Thanks to Ames Historical Society for this map) (Click image to
see entire map - 2mb)
This portion of the 1899 Crams Altas
showing Iowa railroads shows Ames (look at the bottom) connected North
through Gilbert Station, Story City, Randall, Callanan, and Jewell Junction
as you go north. (Ignore the name Lake Cen., and ignore
the dot to the left of the word Callanan. Realize that the
dot to the right of the name Callanan indicates its location back
in 1878.) Then look to the East of Jewell Jc., where
you can find Ellsworth. Ellsworth was nearly 20 years old at
the time of this map.
So this map is not quite accurate for the year 1899,
for Callanan was gone, and was no longer on the railroad track at the time
of this 1899 map. During the time Callanan existed, the railroad
actually turned east a bit to cross the Skunk River and go nearly one quarter
mile up the slope to enter Callanan. That's where the railroad
from Ames ended. Three years later, the railroad converted from narrow
gauge to standard gauge and curved a bit west to head for Jewell Junction
as the map shows. The railroad no longer crossed the Skunk
Perhaps this small error explains
why the map's broken "Callanan dot" looks west of the Skunk River.
Notice the vague colors and eliminated portion of the right side of theCallanan
dot and that unseen portion of the Skunk River. The map-maker
must have blurred the portions that were no longer accurate.
- 1899 issue of the ELLSWORTH CHRONICLE
Click the above image to see advertisements
in the October 26, 1899 issue of the Ellsworth Chronicle.
Older homes still standing in Ellsworth:
1221 Delphi, built in 1900
1425 Delphi, moved to Ellsworth from Callanan in 1882
1519 Delphi, built 1881
1520 Delphi, 1893 from Callanan
1625 Delphi, built 1887
1621 DeSoto, built in 1900
1623 DeSoto, built in 1900
1519 Dayton, Business moved from Callanan, made into
1628 Dearborn, built in 1890
549 Hwy 175, built in 1880
546 Des Moines, built in 1900
436 Decora, built in 1900
History Page (B)