A Compilation History of Decatur City

 Decatur City is situated in the midst of a splendid farming country, nearly in the center of the county. As a trading point it is an important one, and will always command a good trade. It has a large territory tributary to it, in which are wealthy, intelligent, progressive farmers, and will grow up to a good, substantial town. The business men are active, enterprising and intelligent, appreciating the importance of having good stocks at fair prices for their customers to select from.

This point is one of the oldest settlements in the county, and was first designated as the county seat, which distinction it enjoyed for about two years. The county seat was removed to Leon in May, 1853, and thus the sanguine hopes of the projectors of the town were not realized. Decatur City is laid out with taste, on as good a town site as one would wish to see, and is a pleasant village. The population was 204 by the State census of 1885.

One of the disappointments Decatur City has had was in the Des Moines, Osceola & Southern Railroad, which was built south to this point in 1882. The township gave $20,000 to secure the road, which, it was thought, would enable it to compete with Leon. After the road had been built to this point, and the money was paid, the road turned square to the east and went to Leon, and thence south.

The railroad was renamed the Des Moines & Kansas City. The Keokuk & Western purchased the railroad and turned it into a standard gauge railroad. It was later purchased by the Burlington Route System.

A common district school was maintained from an early day. In 1864 this was made an independent district, and a frame building, 32 x 40 feet in size, was built, at a cost of over $3,000. This building was burned in 1885, with $1,000 insurance. The present building was erected in 1885, at a cost of $3,200, including furnishings. It is 30 x 60 feet in size, and is divided into two rooms. Two teachers are employed. Nine months school is usually maintained. The enrollment is 130, and the average attendance seventy.

The village has one church in use, which was built by subscription, in 1856. The Methodists being the only organized religious society at that time, it was dedicated to them. Now there are four societies, all of which occupy it by turns. Rev. G.E. MITCHELL, from Weldon, preaches for the Methodist Episcopal people every two weeks. Revs. S.B. TABOR and B.F. HALL come here by turns, monthly, for the Southern branch of the same denomination. Rev. P.A. RICKEL holds services here occasionally for the United Brethren. The Protestant Methodists have a meeting place two miles east of the village. The Adventists were active here for about five years, and in 1870 built a church, at a cost of $500, which is now entirely unused.

Decatur Lodge, No. 109, A.F. & A.M., was organized a number of years ago, and is now in a flourishing condition. D.W. ROBINSON is Worshipful Master, and THOMAS WARD, Secretary. Meetings are held on Thursday evening on or before each full moon. Decatur Lodge, No. 102, I.O.O.F., was chartered October 15, 1857. Meetings are held every Saturday evening. The membership is from sixty to sixty-five, and the officers for 1886 are: John GRAYSON, Noble Grand; William WALLER, Vice-Grand; Samuel SCHENCK, Recording Secretary; J.S. TULLIS, Permanent Secretary; Jesse LLOYD, Treasurer. Friendship, Rebekah-Degree Lodge, No. 11, I.O.O.F., was chartered July 20, 1880, with twenty members, which number has since doubled. Meetings are held Wednesday evening on or before each full moon. Decatur Post, No. 410, G.A.R., was mustered in December, 1885, with a dozen or so members. This number is now doubled. Meetings are held on Tuesday evenings, twice a month. The officers for 1886 are: Thomas WARD, Commander; D.W. ROBINSON, Senior Vice-Commander; David R. SPRINGSTEIN, Junior Vice-Commander; S.W. CHAMBERLAIN, Adjutant; John LAKE, Quartermaster.

Marion WOODARD has been in practice for three years, and is the only attorney residing here. Fred TEALE was formerly a practicing attorney, and back in county-seat times C.W. BRIDGES and P.H. BINCKLEY were located here.

W.J. LANEY, H. PARRISH and David R. SPRINGSTEIN are the physicians of the place. In the past this has at different times been the home of J.R. MCCLELLAND, O.A. DAY, Samuel DAY, STRINGER, H.C. BONE, E. MEACHAM, Joseph PUCKETT and J.R. TELLER.

Two newspapers have been published here -- The Commoner, by F.A.C. FOREMAN, from 1859 to 1861, and the Decatur Enterprise, in 1866-'7, by Hon. C.S. WILSON. FOREMAN went from here to Chicago, and afterward died at Marengo, Iowa. WILSON afterward became editor of the Des Moines Daily News.

The business firms of 1886 are:

A. Brockway, furniture; John Campbell, livery; S.W. Chamberlain, post office and grocery; Mrs. Corrington, millinery; Covington Bros., general merchandise; Charles Hopkins, hotel; Mrs. Horner, millinery; John Lake, merchandise; Negley Bros., blacksmiths; J.A. Puckett, wagon-shop; H. Parrish, drugs; D.W. Robinson, implements and harness; Fred TEALE, clothing; ZORNS & COFFIN, blacksmiths.

In 1915, the following businesses were in operation at Decatur City: 4 general stores - DICKEN & MEACHAM, S. W. JOHNSTON & Company, and P. S. DICKEN, and A. MILES & Son; A. GILL'S grocery and drug store, a family grocer; HOUGE & CALDWELL, a stove and tinware store; 3 hotels which includes A. GILL'S Decatur House; a milliner; 2 blacksmith shops; 2 wagon shops - Sam SCHENCK, a chair maker, 2 cabinet makers, a wheelwright; J. H. HORNER, harness maker; 2 shoemakers which included William KEW; Thomas WALLER, military and general claim agent; Col. H. W. PECK, chief engineer for Iowa & Missouri Railroad; and, 3 physicians - Drs. C. SCHENCK, J. W. LANEY, and [illegible].

Sam SCHENCK was the postmaster in 1915.

The Citizens State Bank of Decatur City was organized in 1892. In 1915, officers of the bank were: James CRESWE, president; H. T. RAUCH, vice-president; E. W. TOWNSEND, cashier; and O. F. WALKER, assistant cashier.

The Decatur State Savings Bank was established in 1908. Officers of the bank in 1915 were: W. H. LOYD, president; F. J. EURITT, vice-president; James C. COZAD, cashier; and, L. D. SHOEMAKER, assistant cashier.

There was a chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at one time in Decatur City.

Mike Avitt notes that the original depot burned and a new one opened in 1911.

"Decatur City." "Biographical and Historical Record of Ringgold and Decatur Counties, Iowa." Lewis Publ Co. 1887.
Howell, Professor J. M. and Smith, Heman C. "Decatur County Towns - Decatur City" History of Decatur County and Its People. Vol. 1. S. J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1915.
Compiled & Submitted by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2013
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