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Bouton: Community was originally just a flag stop called ‘Alligan’

A station was built in Bouton at the urging of area farmers, who desired a station from which to ship their livestock. In this early photo, a train, powered by a steam engine, is pictured near the old depot in Bouton. the pole toward the right of the photo is proudly inscribed “Bouton, Iowa.”
A station was built in Bouton at the urging of area farmers, who desired a station from which to ship their livestock. In this early photo, a train, powered by a steam engine, is pictured near the old depot in Bouton. the pole toward the right of the photo is proudly inscribed “Bouton, Iowa.”
The Bouton School, long since demolished, was built and opened in 1910
The Bouton School, long since demolished, was built and opened in 1910

From Alligan grew Bouton.

Last of the 14 communities in Dallas County to become incorporated, Bouton remains as one of the smallest communities, lying very near the Dallas/Boone County line.

“Alligan” was the name given a flag station along the railroad when the C.M. & St. Paul completed laying rails between Xenia (long since gone, but built along the Des Moines River east of what would become Woodward) and Perry.

Farmers living between those communities, quite naturally, were very interested in securing a station in the area to aid in the shipment of their livestock. Farmers gathered in an early area school house, appointed Martin O’Malley to interview railroad superintendent Campbell in hopes of securing such a station.

The result was that the railroad agreed to build a station at present-day Bouton, but only if the local people would subscribe and by six acres of land for the company. That was done and the company put in a side track, but no move was made to build a depot. Instead of using the entire six acres, the company used only three and the remaining land was taken back by the granters.

The completion of the railroad coincides with the founding of the town.

The Bouton area was settled by Irish (to the south) and Germans (to the north). Once the railroad was completed, locals sought a name for the settlement born as Alligan. Bouton got its name from James L. and Sarah E. Bouton, who sold part of their land on which the railroad was built.

Stockyards were built during that time along the tracks in Bouton and remained there until being dismantled in the 1940s.

Peter Lorenzen erected what is believed to be the first business in Bouton when he opened a blacksmith shop in 1886. A few years later, a lumber yard was opened on the north side of the tracks.

The buildings stood until the late 1960s.

The first home in Bouton was also built in 1886 by William Wolfe and not long after homes were also built by Peter Lorenzen and Louis Burrington.

Two churches — the German Lutheran and Methodist Epiescopal — were built, both in 1891. Land for both churches was donated by J.C. Bryan.

Bouton’s business community grew in about 1892 when Bryan opened a hardware store, which was gradually converted to a general store. Later, L.E. Thornburg bought the store and moved it to the south side of Main Street, operating the business until it was destroyed by fire in 1912.

By that time, several additional businesses were open in Bouton and several were destroyed by the fire, the first major disaster faced by the residents of Bouton.

The fire cry went out on Dec. 18, 1912 about 9:45 p.m. Several men heard an explosion and sound of crashing plate glass.

In addition to the general store, other buildings destroyed included the Bouton Opera House and another business housed in what was known as the Appenzeller building.

At that time, fighting fires was a task for the entire community. Bucket brigades joined with the Bouton chemical engine in battling the blaze. Farmers soon arrived in town and both the Perry and Woodward chemical engines arrived to help save Bouton.

Three years later, a second fire erupted and destroyed several other buildings in the community. Yet a third fire broke out, in 1926 and another, injuring two men who were battling the blaze, on April 29, 1930.

Early settlers found a few schools in rural areas, but Bouton residents sought a school in which to educate their young.

The Bouton school, long since leveled, was organized and built in 1910. Bouton became the 14th and final community in Dallas County to be incorporated. That occurred after approval of the District Court allowing the election of Council and town officers during a July 3, 1911 town meeting.

Incorporation became official on Sept. 27, 1911. M.F. Parks was Bouton’s first mayor. Council members included W.A. Smith, Henry S. Schnoor, J.W. Dissinger, George C. Appenzeller and Levi B. Funk.

Also sworn in were clerk E.G. Lobes and treasurer Fred Schnoor, who held that post for nearly 50 years.

There were, of course, other “firsts” in Bouton.

The first Post Office was established on March 20, 1886. D.D. Bryan was the town’s first postmaster. On Nov. 16, 1897, rural mail service was begun with Fran Shannon as the first rural mail carrier.

The exact date of the start of telephone service to Bouton is lost to history. At the time, Bouton’s telephone service was provided by what was then the Globe Telephone Company, which was a subscriber-owned company until 1962. The only known locations of the telephone company were in the Farmers Trust and Savings Bank building and in a privately owned home. When sold to Ross K. Vernon, the service was converted to a dial system on May 8, 1963. A brick building was erected at that time to house the equipment and Bouton’s telephone system became known as the Northern Iowa Telephone Company.

Today, like many small towns, Bouton’s residents seek employment elsewhere, even though a fierce sense of price remains within the community.

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