History of Cleora
Cleora - It Might Have Been Lula
NOTE: Reproduced from the Grand River Chronicle
Cleora on hwy 85 has long been known as a school district
that produces results, no surprise since Cleora
has always been a community of folk who strive for more.
Cleora was first settled in the early 1890's when the land was a prairie and the grasses grew lush and tall. Cattle thrived and when the soil was cultivated by those who wanted to farm, they harvested corn, wheat and oats in abundance for their cash crops. The original town of Cleora was located just south of the low water road and county dumpsters.
The people who settled in this community lived far from stores and the post office. They had to go into Vinita or Afton to shop and get their mail. Letters from relatives were very important. Mr. Ed Lunday built and operated the first general store near his home. The satisfied customers soon talked Lunday into getting a post office. To apply for the post office, he needed a name and decided to name it after one of his six sisters. Their names were Rebecca, Flora, Lula, Rosie, Cleora and Maud. The names were put in a hat and Cleora's name was drawn. The town soon grew quickly.
Much like today, Cleora was a melting pot of cultures and socio-economic peoples. Dr. Trout was the first doctor and made his calls in a buggy pulled by a team of white ponies. A blacksmith shop operated where many horses were shod and farm machinery was repaired. The farmers organized and built telephone lines. A telephone office was built and Vaughan Adcox was the telephone operator.
The first Cleora school was built south of the present school on the south side of the hill and was called Valley View School. To pay the teacher, parents of the children paid one dollar a month for each child who attended class. The school building was also used for church and Sunday School.
Progressive even in the beginning, residents of Cleora formed an Anti-Horse Thief Association that met at the Valley View School. Many children lived so far from the school that it became necessary to build other schools. One was built near the store and was called Cleora School. Mr. William H. Morrison , farmer and stockman, furnished a building near his home a few miles south of Cleora.
When the KO&G railroad was constructed through the community about 1910, a depot was built and a new town came into being. Mr. Lunday moved his store to the new location. Bob Aldrich built and operated a hardware store. Cleora also had a two-story hotel, lumber company, grain elevator and livery stable. Many carloads of hay and grain were shipped from Cleora. The first carload of baled prairie hay was loaded by Hugh and Lee Smith from the W.G. Smith farm.
Soon, a new school building was built at Cleora and residences were springing up everywhere. A Methodist Church was organized followed by a Christian Church which was soon blown over by a tornado in 1904.
Another school was needed in the growing community so a new one-room building was built about three miles southeast of Cleora known as Walnut Hill. At the annual school meeting, it was discussed that the time had come for consolidating Old Cleora, New Cleora and Walnut Hill. Lawrence J. Polson , a farmer in the area, carried the petition for consolidation to every home in the district and most parents were eager to sign. On July 30, 1928, an election was held and votes for consolidation carried. Baker school district joined later.
When land was being bought for Grand Lake, plans had to be made for a new school, and it was built in its present location on a hill about one mile north of the old town. Two church buildings, a Baptist and a Methodist, were constructed near the new school.
Business and homes were moved and many changes were made. The store and post office moved to higher ground about one mile north of the original location and the rest of the town dwindled away. Water now covers much of the land where Cleora originally was.