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R. M. Mudgett
Posted by: Deborah Brownfield Stanley (ID *****1616) Date: April 17, 2002 at 10:28:46
  of 212



Copied from: The History of Decatur County Iowa 1839-1970 by Himena V.
Hoffman

p84, 85, 86

"Young" Jonas Hoffhines, who went into business soon after the war sold
groceries until he was "Old Man Hoffhines. After he retired he lived to be
remembered as one of the last of the Civil War veterans living in the county,
but between 1880 and 1900 he was as well known for his interest in "trotting
horses" as for his war record or his store.

Clark and McClellan had for a time a grocery store north of Hurt's store.
The owners were Willard Clark, son of I. N. Clark, who had built the first
store in Leon, and Edgar, son of Dr. McClelland.

Henry Vogt established a grocery store, which his son Harry made one of the
best stores of its kind in the county.

Harris and Hebener sold "marbles and Monuments." They were not only partners
in business but related by marriage, southerners who came to Leon after the
War and accepted without prejudice in a town so recently effected by the War
between the States. Both Mr. Harris and Mr. Hebener were not only
businessmen but artists in carving and engraving.

Gould Wallace sold hardware and was for a time agent for Davis Vertical Feed
Sewing Machines, while J. P. Finley was the agent for Singer.

Abel Chase, son of Lyman Chase, was at the time of his death in 1890 a
partner of the Van Werdens who owned one of the most successful drug stores.

In considering the businessmen of this period there was some who in 1870 were
most important but whose enterprises had come to an end by 1890. One of
these was R. M. Mudgett whose woolen mill was for several years a flourishing
business. The three-story brick building, forty by seventy, was an
impressive sight, and to go inside and see the steam engine and all the other
machinery and to watch the two jacks of one hundred eighty spindles, the
narrow loom and the broad loom was an experience not soon forgotten.

Some distance from Mudgett's mill but also in the East part of town was the
brick flour mill of Blodgett and Stout.

Leon was proud of its infant industries but doubtless the panic of 1873 had
its effects and by 1890 there was listed as the needs of the town: "a woolen
factory, a canning factory, a roller mill, a pork packing industry and a
foundry." Just as in 1874 Sam Gates in a statement written for Iowa's Annual
Agricultural Report had said, " We want a woolen factory, a cheese factory
for our surplus milk, a carriage and wagon factory, a farm implement factory
and a woolen mill."

No attempt is made in this account to list all of the businessmen in Leon in
this period but there are a few others to be named, either because they were
in business for a long period or because of their connection with the early
history of the county. Among these are W. A. Alexander, son of Captain Eli
Alexander, who sold drugs, musical instruments and sundries in his store on
the West side of the square, J. W. Bowman who first made harness for Darr and
then went into business for himself, Ellinwood , the Leon photographer, whose
pictures along with Swearingens are in many old albums. Creed Bobbitt and W.
W. Craig, the blacksmiths, F. N. Avery, cabinetmaker who also made coffins,
and Nate Crago, whose restaurant Frank Garber remembered as a sort of
Democratic headquarters. Livery stables were important in these
horse-and-buggy days. John Ledgerwood moved to Leon and owned in 1890 a
stable of eighteen horses and a choice of carts, surrreys or buggies to be
rented with them. He also operated an omnibus.


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