Images from the first decade in the 20th Century
(images without a border may be clicked to enlarge)
The population of Ellsworth was listed as 396 in the
The following paragraph is taken from a 1900 edition of the local
When Cares Overtake You, Come to Ellsworth and Smile.
Ellsworth is located in the rosy end of Hamilton county, and Hamilton
county is in the garden spot of the universe. About 500 inhabitants
make up the town and they are all people that can be depended upon to do
as they agree. There are no get-rich quick artists here. No
one here need worry about the high cost of living as the merchants all
work the “small profit and quick return” business method, and by so doing,
have gained the confidence of their customers so it is unnecessary for
them to compare their prices with those of the catalogue houses.
Rent is very reasonable, considering the scarcity of houses and with an
up-to-date water system, three churches, a first grade school, and no saloons,
the town is certain to prosper. There are no “blind pigs”, no disreputable
characters, yet no one is in the would-be angelic class. If
you want to live in a town where everybody smiles, COME!
Click to view advertisements published January 25,
1900 in the Ellsworth Chronicle.
The Fire Station
The first Ellsworth Fire Station was built in the early 1900s.
It was used as a city hall, fire station, water works with a 30,000 gallon
tank on the north side of the building. There were two wells and
an electric light plant. The first fire hydrants in town were installed
in 1910. This Fire Station was dismantled and replaced by a newer
one in the 1930s.
As early as 1885, a cistern system designed to help put out fires
in the town of Ellsworth was dug at different points on the east side of
Main Street. One large cistern was dug in fromt of lot 25, blick
4, another in front of lot 28, block 4, and the third cistern in lot 11,
block 5. The water was pumped by hand for fire purposes. The
early system was called the fire brigade.
An early Memorial Day Celebration
Click the above Ellsworth Chronicle paper header to see a
page of advertisements found in a 1902 Ellsworth Chronicle.
Ellsworth Chronicle news article from
December 11, 1902:
Ordinance No. 35
Be it ordained by the town Council of the Incorporated
Town of Ellsworth, Iowa,
that all hitching posts shall be removed from DeWitt
Street between Des Moines
Street and Dubuque Street, and hitching posts be set
on north side of Dubuque
Street on south side of block four and block five
and on south side of Dubuque Street commencing east of
InterState Elevator Co. weigh scales and running east
to the warehouse, said hitching posts on Dubuque Street
to be furnished and
maintained by town under direction of the Street Commissioner.
W.M. Price, Mayor
O.A. Cragwick, Clerk
Telephones in Ellsworth
Ida Fjetland was seen at the switchboard from 1919 through 1966.
On April 19, 1902, a citizen's meeting was held at the Ellsworth
City Hall to discuss the erection and operation of telephone lines south,
east and west of Ellsworth. John H. Sparboe was the temporary Chairman
and M. H. Brinton, Secretary. They were later elected as President
and Secretary with Charles Knudson, Vice-Prsident and M. H. Brinton as
Treasurer, also. The seven men elected as Board of Directors were:
A. O. Braland, Charles Knudson, Dan Knudson, Carl Sparboe, O. M. Sexy,
J. H. Sparboe and M. H. Brinton.
Articles of Incorporation and by-laws were drawn.
Each member was to hold equal shares and pay $10.00 so work could be started.
Dan Knudson was named Manager. The annual meeting was to be held
the first Tuesday in February. The company was incorporated under
the laws of Iowa with capital of $10,000.00. Nine Directors were
elected - one Director for each line and two for the town. These
were: Holden Thompson, J. H. Sparboe, O. M. Lyders, Berney Peterson, John
O. Anderson, Dan Knudson, F. R. Dalbey, John P. Holt, and M. H. Brinton.
The hours of service were 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Patrons' names were
listed on cardboard for the use of the other patrons.
Stromberg-Carlson phones were used. A. G. Watts was the lineman
and Bessie Watts was the operator.
This telephone switchboard may be seen
in the History Room of the Ellsworth Library.
Read the rest of the story
of telephones in Ellsworth.
Buggies and Early Cars
The Ellsworth Livery Barn, located at the south end of Main Street,
on the west side
This structure would later be used for use as the Ellsworth lumber
Chris Christenson and Hal Keesee are seen at an earlier Livery Barn
with the team
and dray wagon ready to pick up freight to haul to the railroad
station for shipment.
It was in 1911 that Jesse Johnson, owner and driver of his team with
a new rubber-tired buggy, had this picture taken at his father's farm,
later the farm of Philip Hemphill.
The earliest automobile in Ellsworth was in 1901, when Will Hanson
drove a car from Linsing, Michigan to Ellsworth. It is told that
in order to secure gas for the operation of his car, he had to siphon gas
from a barrel.
Harold Keesee was Ellsworth's rural Mail Carrier 1901-1933.
This Ellsworth image of an early car in town is from an old postcard.
The next page shows more early images.