Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick
VAN BUREN’S 70 VILLAGES (Continued)
As many as 70 villages within the present Van Buren County boundaries were proposed, planned, platted, or settled during the first fifty years of development. Some never advanced beyond the drawing board, but of those that drew settlers, rivals competed with each other for business, industry, population, and eventually for existence. Often they sprang up in close proximity, and in many cases they merged or were incorporated with nearby settlements. A handful of villages became major towns with only six reaching a population over 500 (Farmington 1,342; Keosauqua, 1,263; Milton 1,107; Bonaparte 968; Birmingham 643; and Bentonsport 515.)
The following is a listing of the villages, with a brief description of each that includes location, if and when the village was settled, laid out, platted, incorporated, and the population, if any:
Continued . . .
48. Utica: A post office was started at Utica in 1849, but the village was not platted until 1857. Never incorporated, it is located at the corners of Washington, Cedar, Harrisburg and Union Townships. It had 75 residents around 1860 but had declined to only 25 in 1878. The post office ceased in 1903, but a store operated from 1902 until 1930.
49. Lick Creek: The post office at Philadelphia was moved to Lick Creek from 1849 to 1858, then returned to its original location and was renamed Kilbourne. The village was located about 2 miles west of Birmingham in sections 10 and 11 of Lick Creek Township. It contained a cluster of houses until the 1890s.
50. East Farmington: Laid out and platted on March 3, 1849, the proposed village was bounded by State and Washington Streets of the present town (Section 1 of Farmington Twp.) in an area south of the graveyard. It never materialized and was absorbed into the city of Farmington. A 1918 plat map shows it as Stewarts Addition.
51. Pleasant Hill: Adjacent to South Keosauqua, this village grew on the hillside opposite Van Buren, Keosauqua, and Des Moines City. It was platted by John Purdom in 1850 and reached more than 100 residents by 1878. In 1894 it became part of the city of Keosauqua.
52. Selma: A plat of six blocks with 10 lots in each was filed in 1851 under the name of Independence, later spelled Independent, in Village Township (T70N R11W, Sections 8 and 17.) It was about one mile down the river from Iowaville and was commonly called "Stumptown." The post office had several names, beginning with Pameko (1854 to 1857,) Old Hickory (1857 to 1858,) Independent (1858 to 1882,) and finally Selma. By the 1880s Selma had 300 residents, but declined to 150 in 1930 and only has a population of about 50 remaining.
53. Upton: John Upton platted a village along the Iowa-Missouri border (Des Moines Township partial section 15) on April 14, 1852 comprised of six blocks, with a post office existing from 1852 to 1903. The sorghum mill continued operating until 1920, and the old school building was still standing on the Missouri side in 1990. Upton’s population was about 75 around 1880.
54. Gainsborough: A post office named Gainsborough operated from 1854 to 1864 in the northeast part of Section 15, Harrisburg Township (T69N R8W) but nothing came of the settlement.
55. Pierceville: In the northeast part of Section 18, Harrisburg Township (T69N R8W) was Pierceville, laid out and platted in 1855 with a post office existing from 1855 to 1902. The population in 1878 was about 30.
56. Niles: Niles was laid out and platted in 1855, 3 miles southeast of Cantril in Sections 4 and 5 of Des Moines Twp. (T67N R10W.) A post office operated from 1860 to 1874 and the population reached 50 people around 1870. The BSW Railroad passed through Niles without stopping, as Cantril secured the depot, thus the town declined.
57. Oakland: It is not clear why, but adjacent to Bentonsport on the southeast, a village named Oakland was laid out on September 9, 1857 containing 13 blocks. It remained a separate village and was listed in the 1890 census with a population of 31. Most of the area of the plat was rough terrain covered and overgrown with brush.
58. Mt. Zion: Originally called Summit on an 1860 plat, the name was changed to Mt. Zion some time before 1878. Within sections 7 and 18 of Van Buren Township, it served as a railroad junction point, reached a population of 90 in 1911, but has dropped to 30 according to the 2000 census.
59. Sheridan: In section 29 of Cedar Township (T70N R8W) a post office named Sheridan operated from 1865 to 1877. It is not known whether any other buildings existed at this location.
60. Douds Station: Elias and David Doud laid out a town in 1866 that became known as Douds Station, north of the Des Moines River in Section 26, Village Twp. The name of the new village was quickly shortened to Douds, but was never incorporated. The population over the years has ranged from 150 to 275, and in 2000 was 170.
61. Home: Home was a post office located in Section 20 of Des Moines Township, as shown on an 1875 map. The post office operated from 1849 to 1872, attracting a small cluster of houses.
62. Oak Point: Located three miles west of Lebanon in Section 5 of Jackson Township (T68 R11W), Oak Point consisted of a post office and one house in 1878, but was never platted. A cemetery is all that remains of this venture.
63. Willets Station: During the 1870s, a railroad existed in Section 1 of Vernon Township called Willets. One building served as depot and store, with a cluster of surrounding houses.
64. Cantril: In 1870, the settlement of Nickleville began in Section 36, Jackson Township (T68N R11W.) Mr. L. W. Cantril gave the right of way to the railroad in exchange for a depot, thus the town’s name was changed to Cantril and was laid out in 1871. By 1915 Cantril reached a population of 465, but has declined to 257 in 2000.
65. Wilsonville: There was a small village in the south part of Section 9, Cedar Township, built around a post office that operated from 1872 to 1901, but the settlement disappeared by 1918.
66. Boyer Station: A post office existed in Section 4, Farmington Township, two miles west of Farmington from 1876 to 1884. At this location I found an old cemetery in 1988, and the remains of a couple of buildings.
67. Longview Station: About 2 1/2 miles northwest of Stockport in Section 14, Union Township, Longview served as a railroad station during the 1880s. In 1890, the depot was moved to Stockport and any settlement that existed soon disappeared.
68. Stockport: Located in sections 18 and 19, in both Cedar and Union Townships, Stockport is the youngest incorporated village in Van Buren County. Beginning in 1881 as a cross-roads hamlet, Stockport was formed and laid out as a town in 1887, was incorporated in 1902, and reached a population of 402 in 1925. Stockport has gradually declined since the railroad ceased continuous operation in 1978. Stockport’s population was 284 in 2000.
69. McVeigh: McVeigh was first called Zanesville and was located in the southwest corner of Section 21, Cedar Township, about 3 miles southeast of Stockport. It contained a railroad station and a post office from 1882 to 1901. Nothing remains.
70. Black Hawk: According to Ralph Arnold, Rex Westercamp found a village description on his farm abstract, in Section 34 of Vernon Township, which had been named Black Hawk. Both men found the rubble of the village, but I have yet to find evidence of the existence of this village at that location from any other source.
71. New Jerusalem: According to a photo in the Douds Depot Museum dated 1910, taken of the area north of the railroad track, this hillside was first called New Jerusalem. A 1918 plat map shows that it became McClure’s Addition to the town of Douds.
Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick