About six miles north of Dysart on Dysart Road, to the west there is a freshly painted red sign that marks the former site of Mooreville. If it weren't for the sign being maintained by those who want to preserve this piece of history, the former town of Mooreville would be forgotten.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a small town stood on the ground where only crops stand today. The village was staked out in 1869 by Henry Beach, who was a Methodist preacher. While it's hard to imagine a town ever standing there today, quite a few buildings stood on the land over 100 years ago.
A flour mill was built shortly after Mooreville was staked out. The mill burned down in 1879 but was rebuilt in 1880. It was two and a half stories high and contained equipment to make first class flour.
The town had an established post office, which ran a daily mail service from Dysart, although it was discontinued in 1900. Mooreville also had a community building, general mercantile store and two blacksmith shops, among other dwellings. There was one physician in Mooreville named Dr. C.W. Knott. In 1902, The Farmers Telephone connected Mooreville to Dysart in 1902. The town did not survive much past the early 1900s.
In 1994, sixth graders in Phyllis Dunlap's class at Union Middle School got into a discussion about old towns in the area that no longer existed. At the time, the last remaining Mooreville building had recently been torn down. The class decided to take on the project of replacing the worn out existing sign with a new sign so that the town would not be forgotten.
Dunlap approached Lee Korte to see if he would volunteer his time and expertise to build a new sign. He was busy with other projects but was finally able to finish the sign in 1996. A new sign was built and put up in the field where Mooreville used to stand.
The sixth graders, who were now in eighth grade, boarded a bus to visit the site of Mooreville and the Mooreville-Hill cemetery, where they met Korte and Edith Hill to learn about the history of Mooreville. The students were encouraged to pick up limestone rock from the old mill and any artifacts that they could find. It was a memorable experience completed in time for the celebration of Iowa's sesquicentennial.
Fast forward sixteen years later, Korte noticed that the second Mooreville sign had begun to age and was in need of replacement. He spoke with Dunlap and they decided that something needed to be done. A new sign was designed in Belle Plaine in the hopes that the sign would last many years.
Korte placed the new sign in the former location of Mooreville earlier in 2012. Next time you take a drive northward on Dysart Road, about one mile north of the Wolf Creek Bridge, look for the new sign and thank Korte and Dunlap for their continued dedication to keeping this part of Tama County history alive.