Spring Valley

Hamilton Township, Decatur County, Iowa
Spring Valley, located in the southeastern portion of Hamilton Township and near the Missouri State line, was established as a post office from 1857 to 1900. Robert Booth served as the postmaster in 1869.

Spring Valley still appeared on the 1905 Decatur County map.

Daniel Milton and Susannah E. (Carter) Williams lived in Spring Valley from 1854 to approximately 1876. Their children, William Charles (b. 29 Aug 1854) and Phoebe Louise (b. 26 Jan 1860), were born in Spring Valley. Daniel was a Civil War veteran, serving with the 9th Iowa Cavalry Quartermaster, having enlisted at Leon.

Another Civil War veteran residing at Spring Valley was William Argo, born March 15, 1825 in Ohio, the son of John A. and Naomi Argo. William married on July 19, 1843 Anna Mary McIlvain in Ohio. The Argos came to Mercer County, Missouri in the early 1850's. By trade, William was a cooper, store owner and a farmer. William enlisted with Company L, 7th Regiment of the Missouri Cavalry on April 5, 1862. He served as a 1st Lieutenant. During his service, William got a buy in his ear which caused him inner ear trouble the rest of his life. He was blind and deaf the last ten years of his life. William died on March 30, 1898, Spring Valley, and was interred at Gammill Cemetery. Anna (McIlvain) Argo was born on April 26, 1828, Hanover, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Alexander and Mary McIlvain. She died at the age of 75 on June 30, 1903 and was buried beside William. William and Anna were the parents of two children who died in infancy, Mary Naomi (Argo) Vinzant, Lewis N., Jessie O., William Jr., and Alden Darrow Argo.

James F. Bolon came to Decatur County, Iowa when he was nineteen and located near Spring valley, working for John Clark. He married Elizabeth Clark and their son, Robert C. Bolon, was born at Spring Valley on May 2, 1860. The Bolon family relocated at New Buda Township in 1893.

Murry Elliot Gammill (1861 - 1946) and Sarah Nancy Josephine (Halstead) Gammill (1861 - 1941) resided in Spring Valley where their children were born: Harvey, January 13, 1886; Madge, June 13, 1887; Thomas J., December 22, 1888; and and infant, born October 05, 1899, died February 1, 1900.

Approximately 1.5 miles from Spring Valley the Cowles Cemetery was established when Austin and Irena H. (Elliott) Cowles' 14-year-old daughter died. Originally one acre of land located high on a hill was set aside as a cemetery. Henry Austin and Rosie Cowles' infant was buried there, too. (Henry was Austin and Ireana's son; the infant was their grandchild.) Cowles Cemetery is now an abandoned cemetery with Austin listed as the last known interment in 1872.

Perhaps the September 4, 1902 newspaper article explains what happened to Spring Valley:

Leon Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
Thursday, September 4, 1902


Of what was once a country trade store nothing now remains but ashes. Monday night about 9 o'clock, during the electric storm and the heavy rain, the store building and contents were destroyed by fire, originating from a stroke of lightning. The fire was discovered in the roof first and the general opinion is that the comb of the roof was a point hit. Mike Miller, the proprietor, who lives with his family only about 100 feet from the burned district, was in bed sick and could not get up. His wife ran a couple of hundred yards to a neighbor for assistance, but they could not save any of the contents.

Mr. Miller estimated his loss at $1,000. He valued the stock at $3,000, and had $2,000 insurance. The building belonged to H.A. Cowles, of this city, and was partly insured.

Had it not been for the high east wind and the heavy downpour of rain the dwelling on the east and the mill and shop on the west would have been consumed by the flames, as all of the buildings were close together. It is not known whether the burned building will be replaced by a new one or not, as Mr. Miller was contemplating moving to Morgan and had given up the postoffice and was waiting for his successor, but as no one wanted the place, it is doubtful whether the town will be resurrected.

Spring Valley is one of the most interesting places around here, having been at one time a great woolen cloth center, when the Clark Woolen Mills were located there years ago, people coming for miles around bringing wool or coming after woolen cloth, and since the mills moved away it has been quite a trading point for the people in the vicinity. But, like all inland towns, where once the ravishes of fire falls upon them, the spirit of activity seldom asserts itself as it has done in years gone by.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2015
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