Special to the Tribune-Courier
Situated in a triangle in the western section of the county, the communities of Elva, New Harmony and Iola are often associated together, but all have a unique identity of their own.
Elva and Iola both originated because of the Paducah, Tennessee & Alabama Railroad. The communities grew up along the line running parallel to the Clarks River from Benton to Paducah. New Harmony, a little bit further south from the railroad, grew from the establishment in 1861 of one of the oldest churches in the county, New Harmony Baptist.
According to “History of Marshall County, Kentucky,” published in 1984 by the Marshall County Genealogical Society, the community of Iola was a flag station on the Paducah, Tennessee and Alabama Railroad. Cyrus Reeves was an early settler in the community and he operated a general store in the area. Iola eventually faded away and many of the older residents of the community have now passed on, taking with them a wealth of knowledge of this once-rural route.
A few miles to the northwest of Iola is the community of Elva, which was once a depot on the PT&A and was originally named Stringtown. Following the completion of the depot, the name of the community was officially changed to Elva, or “Elvy” as the locals called it, and it became a shipping point for gravel, railroad ties and lumber. By the 1900s, a store was built by Pomp Barnes and a school and a telephone exchange soon followed.
Donna Peyton is a native of the Elva community and recalls her childhood there.
“I went to Elva one-room school grades one through four and Bertha Howard was our teacher,” Peyton recalled. “I remember the school had a pot-belly stove and outside toilets.
“We took our own lunch to school, usually a sandwich that was wrapped in wax paper or a newspaper or soup in a coffee cup,” Peyton remembered. “The school didn’t have much funding and we had a pie supper one year and the money raised was used to buy lantern lights for the school house.”
Elva was designated a post office in the late 1890s. It stayed in operation