Ellsworth, Iowa in the 1940s - Page 4B

The Callanan/Ellsworth Depot

     The Ellsworth depot was moved from Callanan when the Toledo and Northwestern Railway came through Ellsworth in 1880.   The depot was a two story building with the agent and his family living on the second floor until 1950 when the depot was remodeled.   Oscar Fossum was one of the first agents while Wilford Rash was the last agent, having served for 10 and one half years.

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(Click for a larger view.)

Coming from Jewell Junction, this train crosses the South Skunk River on the way into to Ellsworth.
Railroads were quite important to every community.

     There were four passenger trains available during the twenty four hours with three mail deliveries each day.  Several freight trains carried passenger cars as well.  People would go down to the depot to meet their relatives and friends.  Others would go down to visit.  They enjoyed watching the trains coming in.  One could hear the whistle from quite a distance.  There were many long freight trains, too, which would move the farmers' grain, hogs and cattle.  They would bring furniture, implements, groceries and other supplies for the stores.

     The last timetable listing scheduled for passenger service was dated June 27, 1954.   The succeeding timetable dated September 26, 1954 listed only mixed train service and bus service.   Freight trains still go through Ellsworth (This was true in 1980, when the Centennial Story was published), bring and pick up full freight cars; however, they are billed out of Jewell.

(This text is from The Centennial Story of Ellsworth.)

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This photo from the 1940s shows a locomotive that has come from Jewell (from the west) parked at the two-story Callanan/Ellsworth depot.  This was a few years before the second story was removed.  The second story was used as a home for the railroad agent and his family.

Learn about the recent history of the Ellsworth Depot (on Pages 8).

This drawing shows the two-story construction of the Callanan/Ellsworth depot before the second story was removed.

The second story was used as living quarters for the stationmaster and his family.  The Ellsworth Depot, built about 1877 or 1878 in the early settlement known as Callanan, was brought to Ellsworth three years later to become Ellsworth's railroad Depot.

See images of other similarly aged depots in this area.  Those images show more two-story depots (from the same time, about 1876 or so) in other nearby central Iowa communities.

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This painting of the Ellsworth depot (from the early days)
was painted on a piece of wood by Genevieve  Kuhfus in 1990.

Genevieve labeled her art work by writing on the back of this piece of wood,
"Chicago & Northwestern Depot, Ellsworth, Iowa
Board with painting is from the Freight Office."

1940s view of the east side of Main Street

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Memorial Day traditions in Ellsworth

childhood memories from the 1920s:

     Punctuating the months of summer vacation were two national holidays, Memorial Day and the "Fourth".   Because rural school sessions were traditionally of only eight months in the early twenties, Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, seemed to come in the heart of the summer.  In our community it was a day of great importance, a day of special remembering of the dead, and especially the war dead, as well as a day to honor veterans from all wars in which our country had been engaged.

     At our (country) home the national flag was taken from storage immediately upon arising and hung from its two rings flat against the porch wall, proclaiming for all passersby, though they might be few and far between, that on this day we would pause to give honor to those who had proudly served their country.  As a family we took special pride in the flag hung so colorfully in the brightness of the new day, the sun just peering over the horizon, and with not the slightest breeze to ruffle the early morning air.  On the evening of the preceding day we had joined the numerous visitors to the nearby cemetery to decorate ancestral graves, and so on this beautiful morning the cemetery was a sight to behold.  Walking among the graves, my parents remembered this one and that one who had passed on.

    At mid-morning we joined others of the locality for the Memorial Day service at the cemetery, at which a color guard was schduled to shoot a volley of blank shots over the grave of each departed soldier.  A pastor gave a brief address, there was a vocal rendition - a capella, and then the shots rang out.  Startled youngsters whimpered and clung to the security of a mother's skirts.  After the crowd had dispersed, boys had a heyday collecting the empty shell casings, and adults renewed old acquaintances returning for the day to decorate graves of departed parents and to pause briefly in memoriam.

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  The band's program on Main Street
before marching first to the School, and then out to the cemetery

    A much more impressive service brought us all into town for the afternoon.  After a band concert of national tunes on main street there was a march to the schoolhouse gymnasium by the band, the color guard, and a band of preschool youngsters serving as flower bearers.   At the schoolhouse they formed a procession, their entrance creating a solemn moment of rememberance.   Marching in the color guard were beterans of World War I and of the Spanish American War.   Veterans from the Civil War were of a great age and few in number.

    They were privileged to be seated on the stage along with local pastors and the speaker of the day, usually a figure in government, some of whom were bound to be politicians, others real statesmen.   Some fine oratory was delivered from that stage, and always an older child delivered the famed Lincoln's Gettysburg Address with great expression, having committed the whole to memory.  In my memory there were only two Civil War veterans in our community, and one was my grandfather, John M. Johnson.  At the end of the ceremony, a flower girl came up onto the stage to pin a flower on the lapel of these expecially honored veterans.

     Memories of my grandfather include visits to our home on threshing days to observe the interesting activities, but he spent much time in a rocker in the shade of the porch, since at his age there was a limit to the amount of heat he could stand.   He entertained us as children with tales of his service in the war.  I was impressed at his statemtnt that he had walked across the entire United States.   As a young child, he had come to America with his parents, while my maternal grandfather, John O. Ringstad, had emigrated as a young man at about the close of the Civil War.  Grandpa Ringstad shared our family home intermittently in his late years.  He was a born storyteller, and his tales of pioneering enriched our lives, giving us an interest in local history and an appreciation of twentieth century progress.  He witnessed the founding of the town of Ellsworth and was the first postmaster there.

    Memorial Day festivities did not end with the program at the gymnasium, but progressed to a cemetery just beyond the town.  Here the performance of the morning at country cemeteries was repeated on a much larger scale.  The band of flower girls and boys was led to each flag decked soldier's grave and, two by two, proceded to lay a spray of flowers on each honored grave.  Family members traditionally gathered about the graves of their departed family members.  Later we always stopped at the home of my grandfather for a bit of lunch, extending the visiting, and, reluctantly, ending the lovely day of remembrance.

   The preceding text is an excerpt from Echoes of Spring Valley, written by J. Clarine J. Boyken telling about her experiences living in rural Hamilton County during the 1920s.  Spring Valley was a one room school in Scott Township located a few miles southeast of Ellworth.


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The Ellsworth High School
Girls Basketball team
from 1942-1943

Click to view advertisements published in the The Ellsworth News of March 24, 1943. 


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The Ellsworth High School
Girls Basketball team
from 1943-1944

 Pictured above, from left,

Marilyn Sogard, Freda Ward,
Bonnie Johnson,   ?,  Joan Hovda, 
Shirley Voga, Avis Hovda,
Ruth Hanson, Kathryn Sogard, 
Ruth Thoreson, Dorothy Johnson,
and Charlene Loux, holding the ball.


Do you know the year of this photo of a band and truck waiting for a parade?
And do you know the names of the men in the picture?

The sign on the side of the truck says,
"Hamilton County - The Blackest Soil & the Whitest People on Earth"

More 1940s
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