The 29th State
#LEIGHTON, Iowa (#MAHASKA County)
FOUNDERS: William C. Leighton, John Carver, and W. A. Burt
NAME ORIGIN: William C. Leighton
POST OFFICE: 1865-Present
1880 CENSUS POPULATION: 145
2010 CENSUS POPULATION: 162
LOCATION: Section 35 of Black Oak Township
THE CREATION OF THE TOWN:
Leighton was platted in an irregular eight block polygon adjacent to the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad—which, for all intents and purposes, is exactly the way it is today. If you drive into Leighton today, you will essentially see the exact same layout that you would have in the 1880s, save a few distinct differences. The railroad tracks that once ran south of Patch Street, adjacent to Muchakinock Creek, are no more. Also, the westernmost street—West Street, has been delisted. North of Chestnut Street is Jackson’s addition. This is the only amendment to the original plat.
The railroad set up a depot in late 1865 that stood south of the intersection of Otley and Patch. Aside from this, a sawmill was the first sustained business operation in town. Other enterprises included a lumber yard, drug store, two general stores, a shoemaker, blacksmith, butcher, grocery store and Walton’s Hotel. As Leighton grew it became an interesting mix of cultures. Many of the original settlers and their families were Dutch. Leighton was close to Pella and so we see many names associated with this heritage—Bogaard, Bruxvoort, Van Roekel, Van Haaften, and Gosselink. Leighton was also close to the mining camps of Fishville and Evans therefore it attracted a population of miners and mining foremen. Many of these persons were of Welsh, and Irish origin. Henry Kuperus was an early resident whom had a particularly interesting background for the 19th Century. He was an immigrant from the Dutch Colonies in South Africa and beginning in 1913 ran a store in town.
Records indicate that there have only been two congregations that met in town. Both are still in existence though neither are in their original sanctuaries. The Leighton Christian Reformed Church was founded in 1857 and the Ebenezer Reformed Church of Leighton, established in 1894. We don’t know what the going rate was for a good pastor at Ebenezer; at Leighton Christian however a good pastor could expect to make $500 per annum in the 1890s. He also would be able to accommodate himself in the parsonage however. Ebenezer eventually owned the ball diamond in town.
Today Leighton is located off of Highway 163 between Pella and Oskaloosa. There are no more coal mines and the railroad no longer passes through. There are however, still a number of businesses in town. Among these are Leighton Lumber, De Vries Cabinet and Countertop, Leighton State Bank, Leighton Processed Meats, Dave’s Pro Auto, and just outside of town, Tassel Ridge Winery.
1) Leighton once had a saloon but it met with an unfortunate end. When Muchakinock Creek overflowed in 1881, the water toppled the wooden water tower. As it came down, it hit the side of the saloon—an old wooden building also located near the stream. The saloon, being unsecured, came loose from its crude foundation and floated downstream. It was never rebuilt.
2) Five doctors have practiced in town since 1865. Two of them, Dr Howe, and Dr. Sybenga were also mayor.
3) I’ve found conflicting information about the Leighton Schools. It did have its own district, but the years in existence and the building years do not match up. What I do know is that the town relied on Black Oak schools throughout its early years. A “modern school,” was built after 1910 and Leighton has been in Pella’s school district since 1958.
TOWN MOTTO or SLOGAN: “ A Little Bit of Town And Country”
TOWN FESTIVAL: N/A
1) Tassel Ridge Winery
2) The Ebenezer and Leighton Reformed Churches