|Oakley in 1896|
The following is an account of a nearly week-long trek made by a representative of The Chariton Patriot during early November of 1879 from Woodburn, just over Lucas County's west boundary in Clarke, back home to Chariton. The writer styled himself "the hungry man of the Patriot" and signed his piece, "Bert," but we really don't know who he was. Dan Baker was editor of The Patriot at the time, but it is unlikely that he would have been able to take a week off to roam the countryside.
I lifted a little of this report yesterday and incorporated it into a post about Last Chance, so that part of it may seem familiar.
The writer's goal on this trip was to sell subscriptions to The Patriot and to build good will for the newspaper. Although he took the train to Woodburn, much of the return trip probably was made by hitching rides and on foot, eating and spending the night with farmers along the way.
His journey ended at the brand new village of Oakley, just northwest of Chariton, where he caught a southbound train for the final leg of the trip home.
Oakley --- and Milo --- were creations of Chariton's Smith H. Mallory, principal developer of what was known as the "Indianola Branch" of the C.B.&Q., connecting Chariton with Lacona and Indianola, where connections could be made to continue a trip into Des Moines.
The rail line was built in 1878 and the new towns laid out at the same time. Milo, in Warren County, flourished, but Oakley was too close to Chariton to do more than sputter along. Although the village still is there, not much is left.
Here's the "hungry man of the Patriot's report:
The hungry man of the Patriot boarded the train last week and paid a visit to Woodburn, in the edge of Clarke county. It, like all the towns on the line of the C.B.&Q.R.R., we found wide awake. We noticed that the railroad had put down a side track almost one mile in length this summer. The town has made considerable improvements within one year. J.A. Clark has a neat store and does a good business; he has been a reader of the Patriot for a term of years and he was not the man to let the poor printer suffer, so he depositied a V in our hand with a smile and said the Patriot was the best paper in this part of the state. Thanks Bro. C.
C. Barber we met in the town, and added his name to our list. He lost a leg in the old unpleasantness and does not go round growling and saying the war was a failure; he says up and at them, boys. W.P. Shields we met in the store, and, although he is a poor man, he has pride enough to take a paper and will pay for it, too, which is more than some rich men do. Perry Wilkins wanted his widowed mother to have some return for her care of him, so he said to forward the paper, and he would attend to it. We spent one night with James Spencer, and were highly entertained by Mr. S. on the subject of honey bees. He has 130 stands at the present time and is one of the best posted men on this subject in Iowa. He has devoted years to studying the habits of the bee, and it would do you good to visit his farm and take a look at the multitude of swarms scattered here and there in nice white hives. Bee culture is one of the best paying things at the present time in the west. If you have bees and want to learn anything you do not understand, write to him and he will give you just the information you desire. We also spent a night with Asa Callahan who is preparing to emigrate to Colorado on account of the poor health of his wife. He thinks the climate there will be conducive to her health, hence the change. The Patriot will go with him to his new home. Sorry to have you go, Asa, but may success be with you always.
Monday we went south to the town formerly owned by McHenry, called Last Chance. Mc has moved away, and with him departed the glory of the place. The store room is now used as a dwelling, and most of the houses that had been built are vacant or moved out on farms. Joseph Davis will have charge of the post office soon, and talks some of putting in a stock of goods; certainly it would pay someone to open a stock of groceries here as it is several miles to any other trading point. We stopped and partook of the cheer of Wm. Sanders, one of the best farmers in this part of the county. He will read the home news hereafter.
Night found us with W.H. McKnight, and we were pelasantly entertained during the evening with army recollections of Mc's, for he went through with W.T. Sherman from "Atlanta to the Sea," and has vivid recollections of the scenes and incidents while on the march. He will read the Patriot hereafter. We turned east from his house and noon found us seated at the table of J.R. Mundell, who said send your paper, then A.C. Stumbaugh came down at our call and Zury Hall was the next man to write on the roll.
Wednesday we passed through Cleveland, and were surprised to see so many men idle, but we soon learned the reason. The coal miners were on a strike for higher wages, and as the company had not complied they were waiting for the company to decide the matter. They were peaceable and appeared anxious for the settlement to take place so as to know what to depend upon.
We paid a short visit to Lucas and met Wm. Campbell, who wanted some job work. We filled out his order and took dinner with him, then went north, spending the night at the residence of Mrs. Chickering, where we were hospitably entertained. They read the Patriot, the daughters are educated and industrious.
We turned east, adding the names of T.I. Shapely, W.W. Krutsinger and B. Terpenning, all good farmers, and noon found us at Hugh Grimes' eating roast chicken like a preacher. Hugh is a good liver as well as a farmer, and is one of the stalwarts of old and reads a good home paper and pays promptly for it.
Turning north we soon arrived at Oakley Station on the railroad to Indianola, where S. L. Howard has a new store and were invited to take a look at the new room and the handsome new goods piled on the counter and shelves. The store is a new thing, but bids fair to have a good trade. Mr. H. has the station, store, and is buying grain, his qualifications as a businessman is second to none, and we believe he will make it win. E.F. Isgrig has opened a blacksmith shop; he is a good workman. This was a much needed branch of industry in this vicinity. John McHale has charge of the section and is a whole souled fellow, and a No. 1 railroad boy. Geo. Sydebotham has moved out here and is working for the railroad company.
We went north from the station and passed the night with Philip Cumpston, who has one of the nicest farms in this part of the county; he has taken great pains to fit it up, but now he wants to sell out. Better hold on to the farm Philip, and although you may be a little in debt, you can better pay out than sell the old home. C.B. Merry we met going home from town and put him on roll. G.P. Seaton we found husking corn, but he wanted the news, so down he went. Chas. Mumford, although a young man, is a reader and thinks the Patriot all O.K.
Going out in the field where W.W. Mitchell was husking corn, we met and interviewed his big "yaller dog." We came out minus one leg of a new pair of pants. The last we saw of the dog, he was making for tall timber. Our boot leg saved us from getting badly bitten. Why will farmers keep such dogs about them? Had it been a child, doubtless he would have mangled it badly before aid could have come to its rescue. We expect to go out that way sometime just to get a chance to form the acquaintance of the same canine, and we think he will be in demand for sausage. Mr. M. said it was no uncommon thing, and he had to watch him all the time.
Green Ruble was not too busy to "sign." A.J. Stierwalt we found helpting Esq. Ramsey, and he wanted to read the home news, another subscriber. then we wrote down L. Starkey and W.D. Carpenter, both good farmers, and the shades of evening found us back at Oakley Station waiting for the train to go home.
Here we met J. Braden, one of the leading merchants of Chariton, and we might say Southern Iowa. Mr. B. and come out to take a breath of pure air and he could not have selected a better place. Teams were busy unloading corn at the new crib Mr. Howard was having built. J.H. Sydebotham and A.N. Lane were busy making the crib.
Well the train soon came rolling up and we stepped on board, and the first man we met was Walker Baker. His wife was with him. They had been up to Lacona to see the boys who are running a store there. Mrs. B. informed us she was much pleased with her visit.
This trip added 30 names all told to the subscription list of the Patriot, and we have found all we meet in good spirits, not even excepting the men who a few months since were so sure we were financially on the brink of a fearful abyss, that resumption would hurl us into. Now they are free to confess that they were deluded, and they themselves were far from right. One thing we noticed in particular, and that is the men who read, one and all, were free to confess that the future had a bright outlook and all predict better times ahead, and not only this, but that we are advancing on a solid basis, one that every man can rely on. The greenbackers feel less sore over the result of the late elections that their allies, the Democrats. We return our warmest thanks to our many friends for the kind treatment we have received while we have been among them.