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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, January 1, 1970


Notes from the Ringgold County Historical Society

This is the story of the town of Caledonia as given by John G. STEPHENS, a lifelong resident of Lotts Creek township, at the time of the historical tour of the eastern half of Ringgold County last September [1970].

History of Caledonia

The early settlers found a need for stores, churches and schoolhouses, as well as homes. Caledonia was not the first town to be built in Ringgold County. Ringgold City was the first one, but at one time it was the largest town in the county. A population of about 250 people lived here.


They needed a school at Caledonia, so they petitioned for one-fourth of the west school and one-fourth of the east school, which gave them one-half a district. The church was built by donations most of the frame was native lumber sawed at the sawmill west of Caledonia. The mill was run by Andrew WALTER. The church is over 100 years old.

The first storekeeper that I remember was Arlington FOSTER, who ran a general store, and handled everything from needles and pins to yard goods for dresses and also wedding gowns. All the bride had to do if she wanted her dress made in the style of her choice was to pick a dress-maker to do it. There were three in Caledonia.

The FOSTER family was industrius and talented. I will give you a little history of the family. Homer FOSTER was auditor for several terms in Ringgold County; Granville FOSTER was mail clerk on the Burlington R.R. for a number of years; Lyndell FOSTER owned a big store in Caledonia; Byron FOSTER was a musician and won the championship of the U.S. as the best pianist of his time in the U.S. He taught music in college as his profession.


Arlington FOSTER and Madison SULLIVAN had a feed and stockyards of about 6 or 7 acres. They bought hogs and cattle and drove them to Ottumwa, Iowa to sell them. I remember seeing only a small part of the fence that formed their stockyard.


After Arlington FOSTER quit the store, his son, Homer, ran it. Next was John K. WHITE, Rodney BERKEY, Edward GREENMAN, Charles BURCHETT, Lester STRAIT, and Orval VanWINKLE.

The government post office was in the FOSTER store. The SMITH Brothers also had a general store and Sant MOORE ran a furniture store. He was the father of Willie MOORE, who ran a furniture store in Mount Ayr for a number of years. They also had a millinery store in Caledonia. The Baptist church was below and the Odd Fellows Hall above.

The reason I am not mentioning those who attended the Caledonia school who are living is it would be impossible to remember them all as they are scattered all over the U.S. and they are in all walks of life.

With great respect to all in the past and great hopes for all living in the future,
John G. STEPHENS (1882-1970)

Contribution by Julie Watts, August of 2009

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