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19 Dec 1998
65 Years Ago Found the Railroad Just Coming to Kiron
Community Club Address by Herbert Ward - 25 May 1964

(Editors Note: Mr. Ward was active in business and civic life for almost 60 years in Kiron and even hauled building materials or the town in the year 1899)
"This is the Year That Was"

What a thrill it was in 1899 when the report was out that Kiron was to have a Railroad. The nearest railroad was twelve miles away. Kiron, as you will remember, at that time was located one mile east of the present site. Old Kiron, as it became known, was served by mail on a Star Route running from Denison to Sac City. A Post Office known as Johnsonville was three miles south of the old town. There were two general stores with all merchandise being hauled from Odebolt, except flour which came from Ida Grove, Westside and Vail. After an early spring beginning of grading and bridging, this branch of the Chicago and Northwestern was completed with the first big long yellow passenger train coming from the east in the forenoon and returning at 12:15 in the afternoon. First mail into Kiron by mail train began in the Fall of 1899. To make a trip to Denison one would board the 12:15 train as far as Boyer, and since the Northwestern had also built a line from Wall Lake to Denison, in order to get to Denison the same day by rail, we walked from Boyer to Ells, a small station south of Boyer on the newly built Illinois Central in time to do some business in the stores and Courthouse and also reserve a room at the Normandy, Beardsley House or better still with some friends. Next morning we boarded the flyer back to Boyer again, there to pick up the morning passenger train to Kiron arriving about nine o’clock. The morning mail was dumped off at the depot platform and it was the duty of the first depot agent to get it to the Post Office as best he could. Not as much mail in those days as we have today.

Our community was blessed with few poor folks and none were rich either. Everyone helped one another to get along. In due time the new town had several stores and the freight business was brisk. Some buildings were moved to the new town from the old town. The Baptist and the Free Mission Churches were located near the present cemetery and moved in, as were also the present Postoffice building and the residence in which the Robert Skarin family is now living. There was no public well and water was hauled in five-gallon cans. Hitching posts on the streets, but no sidewalks until about the year 1900. The original wooden walks were replaced with concrete about 1912. Mud was knee-deep in the rainy seasons.

Just to mention a few who were in business here at that time - the first medical doctor was F. A. Burrows. G. A. Norelius was the first Mayor. We had several grocery and general stores, three hardware stores, two lumber yards, two blacksmith shops, a barber, an undertaker, a dentist, and several restaurants, two livery stables doing a rushing business, jewelry store, 2 implement dealers, even a cigar maker located here, a millinery store and dressmakers, some local and many others imported, furniture store, feed stores, three coal dealers, and early in the history, a local telephone company was organized, a Bank organized in 1899, known as the Boyer Valley Banking Company. Kerosene was hauled by three-horse teams and wagon from Denison. The Johnson Hotel served Sunday dinners for fifty cents and at Peter Miller’s restaurant the hungry were fed family style for twenty-five cents. There was an Opera house and a dance hall, several brass bands, one under the supervision of J. C. Mengis, two expert horseshoers, a wagon maker and buggy repair man. For a team and single buggy the young swains were charged $1.50 per day. A trip to Omaha took at least three days. No gravel roads and nary an automobile seen. Two saloons flourished. Carpenters, paperhangers, masons, well-diggers, painters, latherers and plasterers, all worked for about a dollar a day. There was one community jail still in good condition. There was a Marshall but little use for him, for no one strayed far from home, having little money in their pockets.

In 1907 public water works was installed and the village was bonded for $5,000.00 to meet this wonderful improvement. Fire department organized in 1903 and as of this date, there is but one surviving charter member, which happens to be the writer. I must not forget the first "fire engine" we had. It would be a museum piece now. There were two men on the tongue and six men on ropes to pull it along the muddy streets. Two rocker bars were on each side of the pumper, operated by the first men in sight. Firemen had no uniforms but we did wear fancy silver badges, the purpose of which, or whereabouts, has never been known.

Always a good church attendance in the two town churches, as well as the three churches located a few miles outside of town. Grade school education was received in two school houses, with two teachers, teacher wages being #32.00 a month. The local school, including high school, was built in 1914, after several attempts of consolidation had failed. Lost a large elevator by fire, which was not replaced.

One event in those early days of Kiron was the "the Clauson Excursions" to Lake View. This man was a great organizer and promoter. He would order out a special train, a baggage car, and two passenger coaches for Kiron and pick up all who wanted to ride to Lake View. A mere sixty cents would pay for the round trip, which included a steamer trip to Lakewood Park. Usually the Mengis brass band furnished the entertainment. Once he took the whole Sunday School on an excursion to Lake Manawha near Council Bluffs, and provided street car rides for all the children through the City of Omaha. Nobody but Ed Clauson could do this.

"The Year That Is Now"

Kiron and its people have prospered and many important folks have originated in Kiron. Kironites have become doctors, dentists, veterinarians, nurses, lawyers, teachers, public officials and many have entered the ministry. No one can say this small town is dead. It renders better service than ever and many have moved in and built comfortable homes. A pork chop in Kiron tastes as good as at and other place in the world. We are only seventy-five minutes from Sioux City and Omaha. Folks attend sporting events in these cities and return in time to milk the cows in the evening, but milk cows are scarce on many farms. Our mail service has never been better and who can serve the patrons better than the small town Postmaster. Folks here are happy and contented. Money seems to be plentiful and available as one can see by reading the Bank Reports. Kiron of today boasts of the following businesses; locally owned Telephone Company on dial system; a Farmers Mutual Insurance Association; a modern commercial bank; slaughter house and refrigerator locker system; two hardware stores, electrical appliance store and service; drug sundry store; two trucking firms; three auto service stations; machinery dealers; Case and New Idea franchise stores; used car dealer; body repair shop; auto sales and service garage; three feed stations; a Co-op Feed and Blending mixing Plant; 3 bulk petroleum stations; laundromat; two restaurants; tavern; barber shop; general store; beauty shop; lumber yards; three churches; public school; modern sewage disposal plant; a lighted baseball field; paved streets; beautiful, well-kept homes; Veterinarian; building contractors.

This is Truly a Friendly, Progressive Town.