Mount Sterling, Iowa on the 1940 but disbanding in 2012

I just viewed all 4 pages of the Mount Sterling, Van Buren County, Iowa 1940 census. Not a huge town then and today it only has 44 residents. It’s in Southeastern Iowa on the Missouri border.

I read an article in today’s St. Paul Pioneer Press about the town disbanding. The Associated Press article even says that it has never been a big town. Still, it has been home to generations of people. The article said “Looking back on their town’s history, people say the biggest event was in 2003, when then-Mayor Jo Hamlett suggested at a city budget meeting that they could raise plenty of money by adopting a local ordinance to fine people for lying. Although he was joking, Hamlett put the idea in a monthly column he wrote for an area newspaper, and from there it was picked up by other news outlets and soon became an international story.”

So sad when towns go away. Many ended up as ghost towns in past years as mines ran dry, after disasters, and especially when railroads, state highways, and later interstate highways bypassed them.  

Take a look at the Mt. Sterling Town 1940 census in Vernon Township, Van Buren County, Iowa, Enumeration District 89-23. It’s only four pages long. I’m willing to bet that the 1940 enumerator, 20 year old Vinton Rankin [James Vinton Rankin], did not foresee the loss of this town. Nor did his parents Paul and Gail (Helen Gale/Gail Gordon) Rankin.

© 2012 – 2014, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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