In 1978, Old Settlers picnic day was first organized. As we searched through the names of our forefathers, we pondered who were the original planners of the day that has made history.
Old Larkinsburg was struck by a tornado on Sunday night October 21, 1866, leaving only two buildings standing. Several persons were injured and a daughter of M. Rasher was killed. The town was named after Larkin Thrash who was the first postmaster of the village, also the first for Iola.
In about 1870, the railroad was built about a mile east of Old Larkinsburg and a new town was established close to it named Iola. Old Larkinsburg, so nearly destroyed by the storm, was then abandoned. The land for the railroad and town was purchased from Watson and Presley. The first store in Iola was owned by William Moore in 1880. Iola had 127 inhabitants at that time.
A congregation of Methodists first met in the Lynn Branch school house in 1847. Now and then they would conduct their services at local residences. Brother J. Lambert was the minister. In 1873 they built a church house at a cost of $1500. Rev. N.E. Harmon then became the minister.
The Baptist congregation first met on August 2, 1879, and the meeting was organized by I.H. Elkin. The group met in their homes and sometimes in the Methodist church building. Ed and Lizzie Patton were the first members.
At about the same time a branch of the Baptist church was organized at the Little Prairie schoolhouse located three miles east of Iola.
The Presbyterian Church of Iola was organized in August of 1868. David Byers was ordained as the Elder. This group also met in members' homes or at the Methodist building.
William Robertson was the first school teacher in Larkinsburg Township and classes were held in an old log cabin in Section 29. Tuition was $2.50 per pupil each quarter.
No names of the old trustees could be found until 1924 when L.C. Gullet was named. Older settlers today speak of a horse-drawn merry-go-round and how late in the afternoon of the picnic they would start homeward in wagons and surreys, a tired but happy family, having eaten a basket dinner and visited with old friends at the reunion.
"Loren Pilcher, an Iola Old Settlers Board member
cooks up the fish during Saturday's annual reunion....."
Pioneer days have given way to cars and electric lights. Now the reunion sees the largest crowds at night.
But you can buy sodas and lemonade instead of drinking from the large horse trough with a public tin cup!
"Bob Arnold of Vernon, picked his guitar as one of the
Opry Volunteers at Saturdays Iola Picnic....."
[The two pictures above appeared in the Hometown Journal on Aug. 16, 2000 and were submitted by Sue Eskew and Gary Phillips]
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