Showman Mystery

My great-grandfather, William Showman, was apparently the 1st Showman to reach Iowa.  He was born in 1833 in Ohio and then married Sarah Martin in 1855 in Martinsburg, Iowa.  So we have an excellent confirmation that he was in Iowa in 1855.  I happened to find a map of Benton Township in 1861 that shows he had a residence there.

On a map from 1874 we can see what was apparently that homestead defined as 80 acres in approximately the same location.  We can  also see a second Showman property several miles north.  I can’t read the name clearly but suspect it is William and Sarah (his wife).By 1887 they had apparently sold the southern property and traded or sold the northern property for two other properties near that original northern property.  In fact it shows a Showman post office and a Showman rail station.  If you look closely at the Sarah Showman property you will see that in contains lime and stone quarries.  The 1861 map shows this area with the note TIMBER.  I know that some of mom’s uncles were involved with lumber and operated a saw mill.  It’s possible that William was a sawyer as well and the combination of lime, stone and lumber could account for the rail station.  Interesting, in spite of this map evidence I can find no mention of the Showman (or Deweese) names in 2 early histories of Keokuk county.  (That seems strange to me since at the time they note such villages as Springfield, Tallirand and Tioga which have also disappeared.)  Here is the 1887 map:William died in 1896 and is buried in Rayburn Cemetery (small black circle on map).  This map from 1912 shows that the Showman name has completely disappeared!  No post office.  No rail station.  No property.  What happened?  Did they lose the property before or after William’s death? Did the resources simply peter out?

His wife, Sarah, passed away in 1904 and is also buried in Rayburn Cemetery.

My grandfather, Sam, born in 1871 had 5 brothers and 5 sisters.  The oldest was born in 1856 and the youngest in 1876.  All the boys were old enough to take over the business, if viable, but apparently they didn’t.

Here is the 1912 map of the area:While I may not have found property any Showman owned in 1912 I did finally locate a 1930 map showing property owned by Sam Showman.  This is where my mother grew up and still owned by her mother.  Sam died in 1924, before the date on this map.  Note that this map also shows the Springfield School, where both mother and I went to school, and the portion of Sam Deweese’s farm (my dad’s father) located in Keokuk country.  Another 30 acres was directly west of this property in Mahaska county.

Note:  I looked at this same area on a 1912 map and Showman was not shown.

Mom was born in 1913 in What Cheer.  This would indicate that they did not own this property when she was born.  Unfortunately, I don’t know when they acquired this property.  It probably was not paid for when Sam died and that probably accounts, at least in part, for the poverty mom remembers.

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