The Village of Modena

Sour Grapes and Saddle Sores

George Hirst

The Village of Modena April 28, 2005

To get to Modena, drive out of Wyoming on highway 17 east. past FMC plant, turn left on the Snareville road. Drive on north past Stringtown cemetery. The cemetery and Randy and Sherry Copple's house is all that is left of the village of Snareville. Virginia Newton told me that there used to be a Methodist Church and a country school in Snareville.

Continue on north and just before the curve that takes you into Modena, there is a row of lilac bushes that is all that remains of Puckerbrush. Ray Staelans said that was all he knew about that town. Across the "new" bridge over the Spoon River, is the village of Modena.

The village of Modena is located in the northeastern corner of Toulon Township. Part of the town is in the western part of Elmira township. It is on the west bank of the Spoon River. It was surveyed on March 24, 1853 for Miles A and William K. Fuller. In 1910 the population numbered 35 persons. When Ray Staelens moved to Modena in 1945, there were 6 homes in the town. Since he and Helen moved to Wyoming in 1993, there have been five new homes built in the village site.

In the original village there was a general store, a grocery store and a flouring mill. There was a coal mine in the town which was forty five feet deep. It was dug in 1884. There was a Baptist Church and a country school.

Elting Arganbright, Nell Fletcher's grandfather, put up a building that housed clothing and grocery stores. I could not come up with dates. His name was mentioned in connection in an ad for a store called The Corner Store in Wyoming. The source is an an ad in the Wyoming Post Herald for June, 1899. Nell said that her grandfather came from Ohio to Stark County at the age of 14. He had a sister living here.

Hall in his history of Stark County comments,"In the early settlement of the West there seems to have been a sort of a mania for laying off towns." This describes the villages mentioned in this column. I believe that it was the coal industry that was the force that resulted in the villages we have described here. Certainly the history tells about merchants, churches and schools.

The Wyoming Post Herald which began publishing in 1871 reports people coming and going with all sorts of events. But then the coal "ran out", the rail roads came and went, people did things differently and villages became only memories or only residential areas. I think that there is a change coming as we see new housing in a lot of our places. People coming out of the big cities to find quieter places to live. The 21st century will be an interesting time.

I would thank Ray and Helen Staelens, Nell Fletcher and Ginny Newton for their help

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