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Abandoned Towns and Village 
Cottonwood
Cedar Township

Gone but not quite forgotten – nothing exists there now, but a few old timers still remember it.  It was a little village, twenty-three miles from Fort Madison near the line dividing Sections 10 and 11 in Cedar Township.

Lee County History of 1879 says Cottonwood was a station on the Fort Madison and Ottumwa Division of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad; it had a general store, a post office, telephone connections, and a Methodist Episcopal Church.  Twenty-seven people lived in Cottonwood in the 1920’s.  Many of the landowners were Quakers; there is no indication that a cemetery existed in Cottonwood, but the Work Projects Administration (WPA) records show that a Tighlman Payne born January 29, 1841 is buried in the Friends Cemetery there.  Research information on Cottonwood shows that there was a ‘cemetery’ listed two miles west of Houghton and two miles north.

 Dorothy Payne of Salem gave this information: “Louis Gaibel and his wife Lola had the general store there, Lola was postmistress; Ed Leveling, a trained barber, came to cut hair in the store.

On Saturday nights the neighbors would come to the store to listen to the radio and Lola would pop corn for everyone.

Louis Gaibel’s wife was a Payne and she had a brother Floyd.  Floyd and his wife Grace had gone to Elm, Kansas to farm but the Great Depression hit America and there was a drought and they could not raise a crop.  They were hurting financially and they decided to come back with their two children Herbert and Sadie in 1931 and live in a little house which belonged to Louis and Lola.  Floyd was able to find work and in a few year’s time they were able to rent a farm.”

Cottonwood was a haven for this one family among others.


Researched, transcribed and submitted by Erma Derosear.


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