mt ayr

Mt Ayr, Iowa

civilwarflags liggett_thos



Like many more of our leading citizens, Mr. LIGGETT has taught in the district schools. He is a native of the Buckeye State – but of choice a Hawkeye – having made his advent in Union county, Ohio, March 2, 1841. At the breaking out of the [Civil] war, Mr. LIGGETT was in Monmouth, Illinois, where he enlisted in Co. C 36th Illinois Inf., his first battle beint that of the Battle of Pea Ridge. He escaped pretty luckily until the battle of Chickamauga, when he was shot in the cheek, the ball coming out at the back of the neck. He still carries evidence of that “Johnnie’s” markmanship.

In [February 18] 1869, Mr. LIGGETT was married to Miss Catharine ARTHUR [in Warren County, Illinois], and they have four (sic) children, two daughters [sic, daughters Bessie, Mary, and Margaret; Pearl died in childwood] two sons [Arthur and Harry of Mount Ayr]. They moved to Mt. Ayr in the spring of 1875, when he formed a partnership with J. R. HENDERSON in the grocery business and has continued in the same occupation nearly ever since excepting the three terms he successfully served this county as clerk of the courts. He is now with his brother, J. Hall LIGGETT, conducting a very successful grocery business, as elswhere noted.


I found this entry on the Ringgold County website.  Thomas’ son Harry was my grandfather, and Harry’s brother Arthur was my great uncle.  My mother was born in Mt Ayr, Iowa in 1920.  She reminisces about growing up in a small town:












Our town, Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa, was built around a square with a three story brick courthouse in the very center, a cannon set on one corner of the courtyard, a soldier’s monument (WW I) on another corner and when I was growing up, a bandstand on the north side center.  Each Saturday night during the summer the American Legion Band gave an hour’s concert of mostly Sousa marches and other, not too difficult, compositions.  Forrest Stewart always was the leader.  I played flute and piccolo (Stars and Stripes Forever was a real favorite and challenge!) and the rest of the band was made up of people of all ages from the town and country.  It was a lot of fun to be with this varied group and we actually got paid a pittance by the town for this bit of culture.  We always had a great time and were so pleased when we occasionally rendered something flawlessly, or at least, acceptably.  I think my sister, Jean, played clarinet with us as she grew older.

            All around the square were all sorts of stores and offices – a movie house, the Carnegie Library, the Christian Church on one corner, and, in the early days even a milliner’s shop full of beautiful hats.  We had two or three doctors, several lawyers, one, of course, was County Attorney, a realty company, a bank, a sandwich shop that made anything from hamburgers to pork tenderloins to brain sandwiches, all delicious.  We also had a hotel of sorts, a fire station with truck, a telephone office with operators who place every call for you, and who, therefore always knew all the latest gossip.  Also, there was a gas station, a pool hall which was a “den of iniquity” and off limits to most of the younger set.  I was even scared to walk by it!  There was a post office built during the great depression and decorated by Works Progress Administration mural artists.

            Because Harry and Arthur were friendly people and did a big grocery business all over the county, we were taught to be especially friendly and polite to everyone, whether we knew them or not.  I think that may explain some of the quirks in Jean’s and my personalities – both “conformist” and “non-conformist” attitudes and cynical.  Liquor was frowned upon by most people in Mount Ayr but our Dad who loved a glass of beer now and then (he always put a shake of salt in it) drank it only during his two weeks’ annual vacation away from home.

            During the great depression in the 30s, Harry and Arthur, who allowed groceries to be charged by the month, literally fed many families over the county free.  For several years after good times returned Dad would get a check in the mail for payment for groceries received during that terrible time.  People were basically honest, they just had no money at all during those years.  The only bank in our town closed and because of high mortgages many, many farmers lost their homes and land.  That was disaster enough, but we had a great drought period during that time also.  I don’t remember our family suffering, at least we always had enough to eat.  We wore second hand and made over clothing and purchased as little as possible but everyone else was doing the same.  We saw so many families who were in such dire straits.  Everyday, Dad would come home feeling so sorry about yet another farm foreclosure that we couldn’t feel sorry for ourselves.  We had a comfortable home, a Model A Ford and no debts that could be foreclosed on.  And, apparently the grocery business made ends meet in spite of so many unpaid charge accounts.