Town of Ontario, Iowa


Town of Ontario, Iowa


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1955 aerial view of Ontario, Iowa

The town of New Philadelphia (south of the township line) was laid out in 1855 by John Vest.  Ely French and L. Reagan of Boonsboro were the surveyors.  Jackson Dedrick was believed to be the first person who introduced a stock of goods there. The town maintained only a feeble existence up to the advent of the railroad through the county.  When the railroad station was obtained, a new town north of the township line was laid out by the railroad company in January of 1869, and named Ontario.  Hiram Scott named the town after his previous home, Ontario, Ohio.  Ontario, Iowa, continued to grow and it was not long before it swallowed up the old town of New Philadelphia, which was scarcely a half mile south.  The cemetery located just east of North Dakota began as New Philadelphia cemetery.




Ontario was pleasantly situated on the Chicago and North Western Railway, and was surrounded by a most excellent and beautiful portion of country with good settlements.  It was on an elevated plain almost completely surrounded by timber.  Ontario was ten miles east of Boone, and almost two miles northwest of Iowa State College at Ames.  The first buildings of Ontario were two storehouses, erected by Enoch Thurman and brother and Hiram Scott and brother.  These structures were destroyed by fire, but others soon took their places. The town improved and built up quickly.  The several branches of early business included stores in dry goods and groceries, boots and shoe sales, drugs and medicines, hardware, restaurant, lumber, wagon making, blacksmithing, tailoring, a physician, and hotel.  One of the finest depot buildings on the line of the railroad was located there, with H. T. Martin as the agent.

Population of Ontario
  100 people

Ontario Christian Church of 1912

Three church denominations met in the town's very earliest history, the Methodists, with Rev. J. Wakely as pastor, and the Disciples, with Rev. George Moody as pastor.  The Ontario Christian Church was built in 1872.


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Hutchison General Store

In 1900 Ed Hutchison and Bill McMasters bought out an established dry goods store in Ontario.  Ed lived above the store.  He had operated a general store and post office in Zenorsville from 1892 until he moved to Ontario to run this store and the post office.  The two men sold dry goods, groceries, hats, caps, boots, and shoes; anything from needles to a threshing machine.  Ed Hutchison bought out his partner in 1903 and added gas lights in 1907.  Burglars broke into his store on New Year's eve of 1915, making off with $200 to $300 worth of goods, including eighteen pairs of men's shoes, a lot of tobacco and cigars, flour, and other merchandise.  That was about the same booty as was taken just one week before.

Ed built a new brick store (today, Winkler & Sons) next door in 1916 and moved his inventory.  In the 1930s the old shop  housed Herbert Johnson's hatchery, then Palmer and Alice Teig's hatchery in the 1940s.  It eventually used as a sort of community center, with dances held upstairs.



Ontario School

A school was in place in 1869, although no building was expressly used for school purposes.  An appropriation had already been made, and the next season a good schoolhouse was erected.


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Ames Reliable Feed Mill, 1935

A large and fine steam flouring mill, three stories high, was erected by Messrs. Seymour and Nelson.  It was completed early in the spring of 1869 or 1870.  The Lockwood Grain and Coal company opened in April of 1898.  This business had an elevator, warehouse, coal house, and five cribs.  The name changed to Farmers' Grain Company in 1916 with new owners.  Ontario Grain and Coal (1919 to 1924) was owned by William Barr, F.E. Morris, Ed Hutchinson, John Worburton, F.H. Schleiter, Parley Sheldon, J.W. Werkel, L.E. Minsinger, and P.W. Hopkins.

William Barr and his son, Charlie Barr owned Ames Reliable from May of 1924 to August of 1963.  A fire destroyed the old elevator in 1928, after which a small plant was built, employing the latest mechanical improvements of the day. This was expanded occasionally until, in 1955, a half-million dollar concrete feed mill was built. This was known as the most modern livestock and poultry feed plant in the world at the time it was built.  It was equipped with push-button controls to weigh and mix batches of feed.  The capacity was 200 tons of feed per day.  The concrete building is 128 feet high, 126 feet long, and 52 feet wide, with six working floors.  Doughboy Industries bought the plant in August of 1963, operating until the structure was retired in June of 1979.

Despite several efforts to incorporate, Ontario was annexed to Ames in 1962.

Learn about Ontario Post Office

Above photos courtesy of Jerry Litzel.  To learn more, consult Jerry's The History of Ontario, Iowa.


1902 plat map of Ontario - click to enlarge

1902 plat of Ontario (above township line) and New Philadelphia (below township line)
at the intersection of North Dakota and Ontario Road, in northwest Ames.




View of Ames from Ontario, 1924