Forgotten town of Buxton was ahead of its time

Nearly fifty local history buffs gathered at the Ottumwa Public Library on Tuesday morning to learn about an old coal mining town in Monroe County.

The town of Buxton, located near Lovilla, has been gone since the early 1920's, so why is anyone interested in it?

Michelle Poe of the African American Museum of Iowa explains the town's significance.

Buxton was really really unique, it existed for only about 20 years, 1900 to 1920 and it had an African-American majority. There was very little racism or discrimination in Buxton so it TMs studied all over the state and in places around the country, Poe says.

During her lecture, Poe explained that Buxton, a company town owned by a national coal mining company, had integrated stores, schools and neighborhoods, long before that was the norm in Iowa or nationally.

The town's doctor was the first African American graduate of the University of Iowa, and the Buxton Wonders, the town baseball team, was among the first integrated teams in the country.

Poe believes the white minority, mostly Swedish and Slovak immigrants hadn't been in American long enough to develop negative racial stereotypes.

When the coal ran out, the company closed the mines and the town.

Only a few foundations remain today.