Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick

Stockport is having a Birthday

On June 1 [2012] the tiny village of Stockport has its 125th birthday but like all the other villages in Van Buren County, Stockport can trace earlier roots.  Even so, it was not incorporated until 1902 making it the youngest village in the county.
In 1881, the first house was built by George and Elnore Johnston near the cross-roads which marks the center of town.  Others soon built homes nearby and a cross-roads community began to develop.  In 1887, Stockport had its real beginning when it was platted and laid out as a village.  The name was provided by resident James Beswick, Sr., who had been born in Stockport, England.
Located in sections 18 and 19 in both Cedar and Union townships, the tiny hamlet competed with several nearby settlements to become a prosperous village and center of importance.  The railroad provided the key to Stockport's success.
According to a newspaper article published when Stockport had its 50th anniversary, the first train crossed the Cedar-Union line on December 31, 1881.  But according to the History of Stockport written in 1940 by Helen Johnston Spencer (1881-1970), the train actually arrived on January 1, 1882.  Either way, it was built on narrow-gauge track, which was later widened to standard gauge during the summer of 1891.
Helen said that in 1881, nearby residents were excited and enthusiastic over the prospects of the coming railroad.  There were several competing depots built along the little rail line only a few miles apart.  One of these was at Longview Station, about 2 1/2 miles northwest of the cross-roads.  On December 28, 1890 this depot was moved on a flatcar to Stockport and the village grew considerably after that important addition.  George Powelson served as the first agent at Stockport.
Francis Harlan erected the first business building in 1887; the first marriage took place between Mr. and Mrs. George Anderson on March 4, 1890; the first child born within the corporate limits of the village is said to be Bessie Johnston Newman, 1883; and the first factory made barrel-hoops and poles in 1890.
Within the hoop-pole factory during the summer of 1890, the first religious service was held by Pastor Loft of the Quaker faith.  A Christian Church was built and dedicated in August, 1893 with the first pastor being T. A. Renfrow.  A doctor, F. J. Graber, began practice in 1892. The earliest school was one of five pupils conducted by Mrs. Charles Swain in 1889.  A one-room school building was erected in 1893 with Sherman Morris as the first teacher.
A hotel was built in 1889 along with several tiny factories.  Drainage tile, hollow brick and building brick were among the products manufactured.  The official population of Stockport reached 402 according to the Iowa State Census of 1925, but had dwindled gradually to only 284 people according to the 2000 Census.  The railroad served Stockport on a regular basis until about 1978 and by 1980 service was suspended and track was soon removed.
Today, it appears that the population of Stockport seems to be holding steady at about 280 residents.  Although one website shows an estimated population in 2010 of 296 people, another site shows a 2011 estimate of 275.  The lower figure is more in keeping with other estimates and official trends.  The county as a whole is gradually dwindling in population and each of the villages is struggling to withstand and maintain itself.
Happy birthday, Stockport!

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick