The News From Dysart and Central Iowa Mid-July To The End Of September 1914

Wars and Rumors of War

After the people of Dysart hosted their Fourth of July Celebration and first ever Chautauqua which brought thousands of locals and visitors to town, life should have settled back into a more normal pace for her residents and area farmers. Summer is a short-term affair in the Midwest and Iowans like to make the most of the weather. There was farming, gardening, commerce, and recreation to be pursued. Soon, though, the outside world began to infiltrate their lives with news of the spreading war in Europe.  War which was happening in the very lands many of these people had immigrated from. Places where many of them still had parents, siblings, and extended family as well as financial interests.

August 6, 1914

Across the nation, Americans tried to understand the situation. A headline in the Reporter read, “Explanation of European Crisis is Hard to Find – Diplomats and Observers Unable to Understand the Attitude of Austria”. Soon, the war started to impact the daily lives of Tama County residents. The week after this was posted in the paper, a man named Fred Baur informed the Dysart Reporter that he had “army fever” and would be leaving for Germany within a few weeks to join his countrymen in battle. News began arriving of Americans stranded in Europe. Three Tama County residents found themselves in this circumstance. Herman Boettcher of Traer and his daughter, Marie, where stranded in Germany where they had gone to visit family. H.J. Stiger of Toledo was similarly stranded in London. In response, the United States sent the warship Tennessee and a cruiser, the North Carolina, loaded with gold to Europe to help these citizens return to the states. E.J. Stayskal of Carroll township made an unsuccessful attempt to return to his native Bohemia on a steamer, but the ship was turned back and narrowly escaped being captured.

At the Brick and Tile Yard in Dysart, city marshal, George Geyer, was summoned to break up a fight which erupted between foreign workers with differing nationalist views on the situation in Europe. This, of course, was only the beginning of a war that would take it’s toll on the citizens in very personal ways in the years to come. At the time, though, they had no idea what was coming.

The Death of George Wood

In 1914, the town of Dysart was in its forties and her founding citizens were beginning to pass away. One such pioneer was George Wood. Born in 1834 in Pennsylvania, George’s family had followed a common path of westward expansion having moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio and then on to Illinois. He was a veteran of the Civil War who initially moved to Benton County. By 1873, George was farming in Benton County and had opened a cobbler’s shop in Dysart which quickly expanded into the retail shoe business. His biography in the “History of Tama County” portrays his shop as a place where men gathered to discuss politics, news, religion, and mythology as well as play chess. He remained in business until 1911 when he moved to Albert Lee, Minnesota, to be near his sisters. After his death in July, his body was transported back to Dysart by train and he is interred at the cemetery there. From all accounts he was a strong leader for his community and a well-loved member of the town he helped found. Below is an excerpt from his obituary in the Reporter.

 

Car Versus Buggy

On a Thursday night, Ed Christian and John Pippert were riding in a buggy headed for town. Two and a half miles northwest of town they were struck by an automobile driven by Rowan Dysart. The car hit the rear end of the buggy which sent Christian and Pippert to the ground. Both men were badly bruised and unable to work for several days but not seriously injured. Mr. Dysart and his passenger, Kenneth von Lackum, stated that the dust and fog were so thick that they did not see the buggy until they bumped into it. The car sustained minor damage; the buggy was a total wreck. These types of car versus horse incidents were fairly common in the early days of automobiles.

A Stern Warning to Dysart Reporter’s Readers

 

The “Back Road” To Cedar Rapids

The Lincoln Highway was proposed in 1912 and construction on the new transcontinental road began in 1913. Now known as Highway 30 in Iowa, this route eventually traversed the nation from New York to California. Realizing that the road was going to bypass their towns, the commercial interests north of the road banded together to create a new auto route between Cedar Rapids and Marshalltown which ran through their respective communities. Many people who live in the area would now consider this the “back way” or detour route to get from southern Tama County to Cedar Rapids.

 

Meanwhile, construction of the Lincoln Highway continued. Two couples from Traer, Burt Aldrich and his mother along with Ira Beecher and his wife made a trip to Dewitt, Iowa which was chronicled in the paper. They reported that they made the drive on the Lincoln Highway after leaving Cedar Rapids and the road was in bad shape with a maximum speed of fifteen to twenty miles per hour.

Land Deals and Land Scams

 

The newspapers of the day had several ads offering cheap farmable lands in other states. Many of the farmers in the Dysart area owned farms in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. Others moved to these new lands. The exodus from Iowa was real. In the previous five-year period, Iowa had lost about 22,000 adult male citizens, a large portion of their working force. In response, in early 1914, Iowa businessmen created the Greater Iowa Association to promote the state. In the fall of 1914, the Reporter told cautionary tales of land deal scams throughout the country. The first scam was being run out of Chicago and was aimed at pastors in the Midwest. The perpetrators claimed to have 75,000 acres of land available in Missouri. For just $15 a pastor could enter the lottery and possibly be allotted a farm or a share in a yet to be planted orchard.  The second story was published by the newly formed Greater Iowa Association ran in papers throughout the state. In a heavily redacted letter from an alleged Iowan in Texas they told the story of 600 families stranded there without money or food after buying worthless land which they purchased sight unseen. The Association threated legal action against the land company and filed a suit with the US Postal service for mail fraud. The real estate board of Texas responded quickly in defense of their state and the whole matter seems to have disappeared from the papers by early in 1915 when their attention was focused on the Panama Exhibit.

Baseball and The Circus – Labor Day 1914

 

 

Fair Season in Iowa

DEALS IN DIRT

According to the Dysart Reporter, the residence was sold to George Schreiber for $950 who then sold it to H.W. Beilke for $1,000. John Klar purchased the vacant lot for $400 who then sold the lot of Mr. Beilke at a profit of $50. Mr. Beilke planned to have the property improved and move his family there the following March.

According to the Reporter, a good crowd was present for this auction. “The household goods sold readily at fair prices. The horses did not bring what they should, a three-year-old horse going for $110 and a dandy two-year-old colt for $77.50.” The car was sold to George Kersten for $980. The house and lots were sold to C. Brandau for $2975 who then sold the place to Will Kline for $3000.

BUSINESS ADS

 

 

 

If you have enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for notices of upcoming articles!

 

 

 

Iowa Tornado – May 31, 1958

Cedar Rapids Gazette

On Saturday, May 31, 1958 two separate storm systems raced across Iowa causing a wide range of destruction. The headline from the Cedar Rapids Gazette on the day after the storms is shown above. According to the Gazette, “A howling windstorm, accompanied by rain and hail swept across Eastern Iowa…” The winds caught boaters and swimmers at Rock Creek Lake between Newton and Grinnell unaware and at least one person was drowned. Hailstones the size of baseballs struck Oelwein, Edgewood and the surrounding areas. Dysart, Walker and the rural area around Toledo suffered tornado damage. Strawberry Point reported 4.5 inches of rain in a two hour period. In the Norma Anders Library in Dysart, there is set of newspaper clippings showing how the storm affected this small town. It is not clear what paper these clippings are from. What follows is a retelling of their account of that day.

“Dysart Hit Hard as Tornado Winds Rip Building, Fell Trees”

Map of Dysart With Writers Best Recall of Location of Homes and Businesses

Paul Wieck Gives His Eyewitness Report

“There wasn’t time to get scared said Paul Wieck after he witnessed the cyclonic fury of the Saturday noon storm which ripped open two Dysart business building as he stood in the office of one of them. Paul was in the driveway of the Wieck Feed and Livestock building at the height of the storm and saw the roof lifted off the long Farmers Lumber company building across the street. He then stepped into the Wieck office building and found himself looking out of an office without a front.”

“In those few seconds of devastation, the front of the Wieck office was torn loose and flattened on west Wilson street. Paul heard nothing of its going as the roar of the winds drowned all other sounds. Had he been sitting at his desk, he might have been dumped outside with the broken boards of the front. Total damage to the building and stock was estimated at about $2,000 by Ernest Wieck.”

The Storm Came From the West

“It was 15 days short of a year since a similar twister swooped into Dysart on practically the same path and damaged some of the same buildings. This year’s disaster struck on a Saturday too. It was shortly after 12:30 p.m. when the storm hurtled in from the west. Cutting a swath of destruction down Highway 8 from Traer…”

Cedar Rapid Gazette June 2, 1958

 

 

 

 

Des Moines Register June 1, 1958

Traveling Down Clark and Wilson Streets

“…the wind struck first at the Mrs. Martha Schulz home and roared on down Wilson street. Huge trees were twisted in a giant grip, torn from their moorings and tossed aside. Felled were friendly shade trees at the F.C. Lewis, Ernest Wieck, Alvin Schutt, and John Burhenn homes. A massive tree crushed the vacant house on west Wilson owned by Mrs. Gertie Cone.

The Bob Bohnsack family saw the black clouds close in, accompanied by a driving rain. As they headed for the their basement, a giant tree toppled against the front porch of their home, tearing it from the house and snapping the posts. Their garage rose straight in the air for about 10 feet, then was whipped east and dashed against the neighboring homes of Floyd Tuttle and Jack Fordice.”

 

“In the same vicinity, three big trees crashed to the ground at Ed Gleim residence and one in front of Gerald Dunlavey’s. A television aerial was ripped from atop the Roy Hahn home and deposited several blocks away on the roof of the Bader grocery. The garage was flattened on the Bill Schultz property. A metal awning was torn from the Mrs. Hilda Jansen home and dropped behind the Stein Tavern.”

Cedar Rapids Gazette June 2, 1958

Moving Into the Business District

“Total destruction was the fate of the cement block building on west Wilson owned by the Evergreen Hatchery. This structure simply exploded, cutting wires at the adjoining electrical sub-station that sputtered dangerously.”

“Ray Baker was caught in this building as it was demolished. He had just driven a truck inside and dived under the truck when the storm unleased its power. Blocks and beams tumbled around and on the pickup, but Mr. Baker was unhurt. ‘It sounded like a freight train,’ said Baker. ‘I never did find where the wind carried my cap.’ A small portion of the door of the Evergreen building was found near the Barnes Hardware more than 2 blocks away.”

The hatchery suffered considerable loss on the building and contents stored there. At the hatchery plant, an auxiliary generator again kept the incubators going during the 12-hour period of power outage.”

Cedar Rapids Gazette June 2, 1958

“Next in line was the build building of the Farmers Lumber Company. The west driveway door was ripped off and flung a block east near the D-X bulk storage tanks. About four-fifths of the roof was striped away and dumped helter-skelter over a wide area.

Evidence of the storms might was a heavy hog ringing chute which stood on the south side of the lumber yard. It was whirled through the air until it struck the side of the Evergreen Elevator office, leaving red paint marks for a trail, then carried on 20 0r more yards to the north. Two large portable hog houses were shattered.

Manager R.L. McMurray had a crew of about 20 men at work Sunday laying a new roof to protect the contents of the yard from rain. ‘I was really sick,’ he said, ‘when I saw the damage.’ The wind freakishly burst downward through the ceiling tiles of the office, then pushed the scale window out. In the path of all this, not a paper on the office desk was moved.”

Cedar Rapids Gazette June 2, 1958

“The large neon sign atop the Evergreen Elevator office was bent double. Across the street, a gaping hole was torn in the roof of the coal sheds of the Townsend-Merrill company. The Barnes Hardware building badly damaged in the 1957 tornado, suffered again. A gaping hole was gouged in the brick wall of the building along east Wilson street. The cap on the false front of the Village Inn was raised. The decorative brickwork atop the three-story Keidel building was pushed backward onto the roof.”

More Damage As The Storm Leaves Town

The north edges of Dysart was badly bruised. A new double garage built by Richard Bednar was demolished. A tile workshop behind Bill Mattheisen home collapsed. The garage went down at the Ray Larsen home. The porch of the Mrs. Mary Barta residence was severely damaged by a falling tree.

There was damage in south Dysart also. A branch from a tree in the high school yard was flung against the John Theile home to rip away siding. Trees fell at the Dick Moeller, John Loeb, D.C. Wunder, Herman Lenaburg, Rev. J.E. Albertson, Leonard Siemens homes. Harland Downs lost his garage and William Hilmer’s car was damaged when the garage tumbled around it. ”

Cedar Rapids Gazette June 2, 1958

 

Charlie’s Depression Wedding – Part 2

August 1935 

He completely lost track of time sitting out there in Hayward’s Grove that day. In the same way he had been unaware how he had gotten there; he was equally unaware how he got home. Eventually, he had gone back to the house that he and Margaret had recently rented. You couldn’t really call it a home. They had not had time to establish it as such. The next day, Charlie did what people with troubled lives do, he got through the day. Charlie managed his basic physical needs, he met his financial responsibilities, he took breaths in and let breaths out. He got through that day and then did the same on the following days.

Just as he had so zealously invited everyone he met to the wedding; he started quizzing everyone about Margaret. Had she said anything to them about why she might leave? What cues had she left about where she went? The answers he got were as unsatisfactory as the one he got from Postmaster Schroeder. Most people said they did not know anything, and others refused to betray her confidence.

Charlie Begins to See Things Differently

Slowly, though enough hints had been dropped that Charlie was forced to see some things that his anger and disappointment had hidden from him. Perhaps, the glorious wedding event he had planned for them, was not quite so glorious for her. Possibly, he had overwhelmed her or worse scared her. He felt a little foolish now that he had not seen that as a possibility before. Margaret had ridden a thousand miles on a hot bus to start a new life in foreign place with a strange man. She and eleven-year-old Jarvis had barely gotten into his car, when she had been swept up in his unusual schemes and expectations. He had not even given her time to breath in the clean Iowa air before he started sucking most of it out the automobile with his exuberance.

They had not spent any time together before she was expected to stand in front of 200 strangers and pledge her fidelity to him. She had not been given an opportunity to plan any of the details of her own wedding. There had been no question what  traditions she wanted to honor. He had done it all. What he had initially seen as taking care of business now looked more like taking control and although he did not understand women well, he understood this might not be desirable.

On the day of the wedding, she only had two people present who knew her while Charlie had two hundred. If he had gone about the whole thing in a more reasonable fashion, she might have seen the guests as potential friends instead of spectators who had purchased a ticket to watch her perform like a circus act, but he hadn’t. The newspaper said that after the minister pronounced them man and wife, he had insisted on kissing her and she had resisted this. It appeared everyone had seen that. Everyone except Charlie.

From the moment she met him on that Tuesday and on through Friday night, it had been a constant whirlwind of activities and people, Charlie’s people. When all that was over, she found herself alone in an unfamiliar place with him. Nothing was the same for her. She had never been outside of New York before, and she certainly had never seen so much corn and flat land. White Falls was a  small city in New York with access to public transportation and shopping so unlike this one-mile-square town with limited business options and no freedom to travel outside its boundaries.

Charlie had never been much for sentimentality but in retrospect, he could see how things might have been for her and regretted his lack of insight. He thought he might be able to do better if he was given another chance.  And then, one week later, he got his chance. As mysteriously as she had disappeared, Margaret and the boys returned.  No explanation was offered regarding where she had gone or what she had been doing. She let him know that his fight with Bill was completely unnecessary and unfounded. Charlie was a fool for making such a big deal out of her leaving and once again getting their names in the papers. This did not seem to be something they could avoid. After her return, her name appeared in the paper again as a one sentence update: Charlie’s depression bride had returned.

Margaret’s Return

By the time she returned, it was late August and two months had passed since their wedding. She enrolled Jarvis in the fifth grade in Dysart where he joined his new classmates, Dean Klinzing and Bob Knupp as well as others. The weather that Fall was warm and sunny. Margaret watched as the crops were harvested and brought into town to the grain elevator. Jarvis participated in school activities. All around them everyone was busy getting ready for the winter ahead. They managed to stay  out of the spotlight. James finished the canning season in Vinton. The nation was still in the grips of the Great Depression so he and Charlie both tried to find what work they could. They celebrated their first Thanksgiving and Christmas together.

Starting in January, the weather across Iowa became quite brutal. After several smaller blizzards, Tama County was hit by a major storm in mid-February that completely overwhelmed the available equipment and manpower for snow removal. Most of the small towns and farmers were cut off from the outside world as many roads throughout the county were declared “closed until Spring”. Trains were unable to pass through the twenty feet high snowbanks and so supplies coming into town were cut-off for days. Daily temperature averaged nine degrees adding to the feeling of confinement everyone experienced. The winter of 1936 was one of the worst ever experienced by the state of Iowa. The new family were basically trapped in their rented home seeking whatever warmth and comfort they could. They forged a bond and weathered the winter together. Storms continued until very early in March when hope started to return to the landscape.  The snow melted, roads opened, and little signs of Spring started to return to the area.

It All Falls Apart Again

Everything seemed to be moving along well for them until April 5, 1936, when Charlie somehow discovered something about his wife, that he could not reconcile. For the second time, she was about to make him the object of ridicule and gossip and that damnable pity he had sensed before. After six months of relative peace and harmony everything was about to come crashing down around them again and he would not have it.  The realization that she and her two sons had conspired to deceive him day after day in his own house enraged him. He ordered her to pack her bags and take her sons and go. He assured her that this time, he would not look for her. There would be no fights with people in town over her honor. They were through.

He drove the nine miles to the Traer office of Bordewick and Powell, Attorneys at Law, where he engaged their services to file for an annulment as quickly as possible. Not only did he want the marriage annulled, he wanted whatever protection the state could give him over his money and properties. She was to get nothing further from him. His decision was final, he told the lawyers because Margaret was never really his wife. Margaret already had a husband and the boys already had a father back in White Falls, New York.

It did not take the lawyers long to help Charlie fill in the gaps. Margaret had been married to a man named, Chauncey, a junk dealer, since she was nineteen. They were the parents of two boys, Jarvis and Chauncey D.R. who had gone by the name James while in Iowa. They had all lived together up until the time that Margaret left for Iowa and her marriage to Charles. In fact, Chauncey was still living at the address in Little Falls that Margaret had used in her letters to Charlie.

The state’s newspapers snatched up this new twist to Charlie’s story and for a brief period between September and November of 1936, Iowans were once again privy to the details of Charlie’s life and annulment proceedings. Facts, however, don’t provide insight into people’s motives. The reasons she had chosen to commit bigamy were never made clear. By the time the annulment was decreed in November of 1936, he no longer cared. It was over. Charlie sold the household possessions and moved out of town, never to live in Dysart again. The papers and Charlie presumed that Margaret had returned to White Falls.


Writer’s Notes


When I first set out to the tell the story of Charlie and Margaret, I confess, my sympathies were primarily with Charlie. Initially, I did not use his last name in an effort to protect his surviving family. I used hers because, I reasoned, she had committed a crime. She knew what she was doing. It did not seem necessary to try and protect her identity. But, to write a good non-fiction story, you need to immerse yourself in the people you are writing about. Using whatever resources are at your disposal you try to get the broadest picture you can of their life. This helps you represent the individuals better to a reader.  For the writer, the “characters” become much more personal. Getting to know Charlie, Margaret and to some extent her children had an impact on me and I became  more sympathetic to both of them. I saw Margaret in a much different light and have since removed her last name from the story.

Charlie seems to be one of those guys who despite his best efforts, never really seemed to get anywhere. He worked for a lot of different people and moved around a lot even within Tama County. Granted, the depression was going, and everyone was forced to do what they had to do to survive but there is a pattern to his movements and decisions that left me wondering about his ability to stick with things. He was also someone who did not mind drawing attention to himself as seen by this advertisement he put in the Dysart Reporter the year before his marriage to Margaret.

Over time, I came to feel that his scheme to get money from the wedding was consistent with who he was as a person and less of a quirky move by a guy who just got excited.

There is no way to find out how Charlie learned of her bigamy. Did Jarvis slip and say something? Did they have an argument and Margaret blurted it out? Did something arrive in their mail from Chauncey? It’s interesting to speculate.

There is hardly any information available about Margaret or her husband, Chauncey so any conclusions about her are purely speculation. I found myself wondering why had she started answering matrimonial ads? Why would she agree to come to a place she had never been before and marry a stranger? Why would “James” and Jarvis help her in this ruse? Charlie was not a successful farmer with a great fortune for her to secure. Even if he represented himself as such in his letters, once she got to Iowa the truth was self-evident. The fact that she enrolled Jarvis in school and stayed through that horrible winter caused me to believe that she meant to stay and see it through. That she was building a new life and identity for herself.  It also made me wonder what was going on in New York that she was willing to do all that? There is no way to know but I like to think she was a mom living through a rough time in this country’s history and she was looking for a better life for her boys.


Epilogue


Charlie

Charlie moved to Keystone, Iowa, sometime after Margaret left in April of 1936. He continued his pattern of advertising himself out for work and appears to have maintained a close relationship with his son, Leonard. In 1940, while riding in a car with Leonard, Leonard’s wife and young child they were rear-ended by a young couple and their infant from Waterloo. The accident happened four mile west of Cedar Rapids on Highway 30. Charlie spent some time in St. Luke’s hospital with stomach and chest wounds. He was fifty years old. In October of that year this clipping appeared in the Des Moines Register.

Whether he ever made it to Oklahoma is unknown. By 1942, Charlie was living in the Baltimore, Maryland, area. He was remarried to a woman who was 20 years his junior. Interestingly her name was also Wilhelmine. He was engaged in farming with her family until his death in 1958 and ran several ads in the Baltimore Sun selling farm related items over the years. It appears he finally found a woman who loved him and a measure of success. The obituary his family posted in the newspaper partially reads:

On September 17, 1958, Charles E., beloved husband of Wilhelmine (died) 


Margaret 

Census records tell us that Chauncey was eight years older than she Margaret and that she only had  a fifth grade education which would not provide her with a lot of options. It is clear from those same records that she returned to live with Chauncey after she left Iowa and as far as I can tell, that is where she stayed until his death in 1948. Where she went from there, is not clear. It appears that she stayed close to her sons. She died in 1968 and is buried in the same cemetery as her sons in Norwich, New York. Chauncey Sr. is buried in Little Falls.

Charlie’s Depression Wedding Part I

As Charlie started to return to consciousness, he recognized the buildings of his small Iowa town on that mid-August day in 1935. From his position, flat on his back in the middle of the main street, he noted the sky was clear, without evidence of rain. Despite this, his farmer’s bones knew that rain was on its way. If only his mind were as intuitive as his bones, it might have warned him of the impending danger he was in last Spring when all of this could have been avoided. The temperature was in the mid 80’s, but for the first time in a long time, he felt relatively cool down here in the dirt. It had been a hot summer with many days over 90 degrees and the entire state needed a break from the oppressiveness of it all. Charlie, more than most. His head slowly began to clear and he noticed  a crowd had gathered to gawk. I hate all of them, and this town, and everything that had happened to me here, he suddenly thought to himself. He would leave, he vowed to himself. Maybe go back to Wisconsin where he had lived for a time as a younger man.

Rolling over on his right side he saw his unwilling sparring partner, Bill, also lying in the dirt. Charlie couldn’t quite make out the details, but he knew that Dr. C.S. Stoakes was tending to his face. With great satisfaction he remembered clocking the older man right outside the post office. A clear case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Charlie already had a full head of steam built up after his unsuccessful confrontation with the postmaster.  How dare he refuse to give him his wife’s forwarding address. She was HIS wife. He had a right to know. Upon leaving the post office, he saw Bill, his former employer and friend. The rumors that he had helped her leave town rang in his head and his anger boiled over. Quickly and deliberately he marched over to him and without warning, swung three roundhouse rights at the 59-year-old until the man went down to the ground with Charlie on top of him, still pummeling him with his fists.

His momentary revery over those punches did not last long. He heard the crunch of footsteps in his left ear, rolled in that direction, and realized that C.D. Kontz, the town’s marshal, was coming for him. Behind him, he could see Olin Smith, manager of the telephone company, who had intervened in the fight to defend Bill. Olin’s right hand was bandaged with blood seeping through the rags. The stain formed the shape of a mouth, Charlie’s mouth. Normally, he would have recognized the seriousness of striking one person and biting another, but the last few months had depleted his sense of reason. Like a caged animal, he was looking for any outlet for the rage that consumed his insides.

Kontz and a few other men jerked Charlie to a standing position. They half walked; half dragged him to the jail. Mercifully, the Marshal shewed the other men away once Charlie was safely in his cell muttering something about leaving rabid dogs alone. Jail can be a time of reflection but not so in Charlie’s case; not yet anyway. When Mayor B.E.Barkdoll, arrived a couple of hours later to conduct the hearing, he found a man still so full of rage that instead of admitting his own guilt, he insisted on filing charges against Olin for knocking him down and stopping his path to justice. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. Barkdoll and Kontz who knew better than most the events of the summer, agreed to leave Charlie in jail overnight and reconvene in the morning when perhaps their old friend’s sense of reason might return to him.

Although he was more subdued in the morning, it did not necessarily bring a return to complete sanity. They let him out of jail anyway. Bill, either as an admission of his own guilt or for another reason, agreed not to press charges. Olin did the same and Charlie walked out into the bright morning sunshine. He headed down the street to his car which was still parked where he left it yesterday. Passing the post office he exchanged glances with postmaster Ralph Schroeder. It occurred to him that Ralph’s face revealed something he had not seen before. For the past two months, the citizens of this town had looked at him with unveiled amusement, pity, and ridicule. He had seen them whispering about him behind cupped hands and newspapers. Ralph’s face had not shown outright fear exactly, but the kind of wariness one wears when encountering an unknown dog and it occurred to him that maybe people were afraid of him now.

He got in the car, started the engine, and began to drive. Where should he go? Anywhere but home. In July, he and his new bride, Margaret, had rented the former Kennedy Studio building from Mrs. Claus Andresen which was far too public for him now. Driving to the eastern edge of town he paused and debated whether he should go south which would take him to his original hometown just a few miles away or north toward the Mooreville area where he had previously rented a farm.

So lost in thought he was surprised when he found himself at Hayward’s Grove sitting in his parked car with no recall of the four mile drive. He sat there now looking at the trees and hills which two months ago had been a patchwork of green and delicate Spring flowers but now was beginning to take on that tired look that the Midwest gets when Fall is near.

For the thousandth time he wondered how things had gone so wrong. In four years, he would be fifty and yet he made a fool of himself like a naïve schoolboy. Being a fool in a small town is like a slow walk to the gallows from which there is no return. Everyone watches and either jeers or cries, but you never get the sweet release of death. You just keep walking; secretly hoping all the while that someone else will do something worse and draw the attention away from you.

Once again, he let his mind drift off to the land of “what ifs”, fully aware how pointless this exercise is. Humans are creatures of habit and Charlie’s habit was to return to that horrible day in 1923 when his world really had shifted off its axis. He had married Minnie on Christmas Eve day in 1912. They were young and the world seemed so full of possibilities then. Charlie met Minnie though her older brother, Alfred, who had married Charlie’s sister, Addie in 1908. The two men had gone into farming together, renting the Stevenson farm five miles north of town in 1909. One big happy extended family.

About three years after their marriage, Charlie and Minnie left Iowa for Clark County, Wisconsin, where he had managed to purchase a farm. Their family grew quickly and within eleven years they had seven children: a new child being born about every year to year and a half.  But then, in a heartbeat, everything changed. Minnie died eleven days after giving birth. Overwhelmed with the responsibility of parenting seven children between the ages of 9 and a few days old, Charlie sold the farm, packed Minnie’s body in ice for burial in the Newhall cemetery and returned to Iowa and the support of his family and friends. From that day until now, his life consisted of rented farms and odd jobs all of which was a hard step back from the life they had been building in Wisconsin.

Then, as if all of that had not been enough, came the Great Depression. Charlie had managed to purchase ten acres of land from the former Charles Hill farm where he and his son, Leonard, raised vegetables. They sold the vegetables from their truck garden and took what odd jobs they could find. His children grew up and on to their own lives. In March, Charlie’s dad, Sam, was hospitalized at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City. Two of his brother’s, Albert, and Clarence, went to Iowa City to see their father. When they arrived, they were informed that the old man had already passed away. In a moment of impulse, they decided to jump a train back home and while trying to board the train, Albert slipped under the wheels which severed one of his legs completely and mangled the other. All of that worked together to push Charlie into action to grab a better life for himself before it was too late.

 

Back in 1912 when he had unexpectedly taken the train to Vinton to marry Minnie, the local paper had said he was one of the town’s most prosperous young farmers, insinuating that he was a good catch. He was painfully aware that no one saw him like anymore. He was 46, alone and had limited prospects. Charlie had wanted what everyone else wanted, the love and companionship of another person. So, Charlie pursued what seemed to him the most logical solution to his problem. Answering a newspaper ad for a matrimonial service out of Missouri, he sent them $10 and received a list of twenty prospective brides. Responding to all  twenty, he heard back from three women in different parts of the country. Of these, he had chosen a widow, Mrs. Margaret Ferguson of Little Falls, New York, to be his wife. He proposed to her sight unseen. She had consented and the couple set June 26 as their wedding day.

Sitting here now, he remembers the feeling of elation he had that maybe, finally, his life was going to get better. He became so enthusiastic about his prospects that he placed an ad in the local paper inviting everyone in the area to come to the wedding. It was true that he had wanted the love and companionship of a good wife, but he also had an almost desperate need for some financial security . So, in another completely unexpected move, he decided to raise some cash by charging admission to his wedding. Knowing that people would not want to pay to attend an ordinary wedding, he became determined to turn it into more of an event with games, food and prizes. He printed up handbills and started handing them out all over town.

How could he have known that his novel idea would grab the attention of newspapers across the state? Soon, editors were telling the story of Charlie’s “Depression Wedding” from Des Moines to Davenport. Suddenly, Charlie had committed the second most deadly sin of small town living in the Midwest. The one right after making a fool of yourself or being made a fool; he drew attention to himself. A lot of attention.

On the day before the wedding, Charlie traveled to Vinton to secure a marriage license. He gave his age as 46 and Mrs. Ferguson’s as 40. He showed a picture of her to the clerk, handed him a handbill, and offered him free admission if he might come to the wedding. From Vinton, he traveled to Iowa City’s bus station where he met Margaret and her eleven-year-old son, Jarvis, and brought them back home. Her older son, James, age 17, hitchhiked the 1000 miles and arrived just in time for the scheduled wedding day. Had she mentioned she was bringing two sons? He could not remember now.

It was a good thing that Charlie had set a contingency plan because on the 26th, it did indeed rain. Finally, at 11 a.m. on the 27th under a bright sunny sky, Charlie and Margaret were married in Hayward’s Grove in front of about 200 people. They had marched through knee-high blue grass to the sounds of the “Bridal Chorus” played by Mrs. Harry Heisler on her accordion. Little Ms. Ramona Reimer acted as ringbearer while her parents Waldo and Viola looked on. All the important people in there lives were there. Charlie’s daughter, Wilma, served as a bridesmaid and Margaret’s son, James, stood up for him as best man. Still, the turnout was much lower than he had hoped for and the take disappointedly small as many did not pay the 25-50 cents he had asked.  With his expectations having been so high, he could not hide his disappointment well and this upset many in the town who had never heard of anything so outlandish as paying to attend a wedding. After they had said their “I dos”, Woodrow Pettit and Leo Gulick played their instruments while Katherine Shafer and Mabel Aschenbrenner sang “When the Bluebirds Sing in June” as well as several other favorite tunes. The free cigars and ice cream eventually arrived from town and overall, Charlie thought they had a nice day, although not profitable.

On Friday, a free dance was held in town in their honor after which, Charlie felt that he and Margaret could really start their life together. He rented a house in town where they could be more comfortable. Margaret seemed to be settling in. She spent a few days with Charlie’s daughter in Vinton where James had secured a job at the canning plant. He believed he was finally going to be happy but that was not the case. Shortly after the wedding, he and Margaret had begun to fight. Then, just four weeks after that golden day in Hayward’s Grove, a mysterious car drove up to their house before dawn on a Monday morning. Margaret, James and Jarvis slipped out a side door and into the car which was seen driving out of town at the break of dawn. The rumor mill immediately kicked into high gear with reports that Margaret had received money in the mail and/or been given money by someone locally and Charlie believed that person was Bill. There were rumors that they had moved to Vinton or Indiana or back to New York.

Rumors and insinuations were not what Charlie needed right now. She had made a fool of him. He needed to know where she had gone and why. He needed to know the truth. As he sat looking at the grove of trees which had held so much promise just two months ago, he began to devise a plan to get to the bottom of it. He felt confident that some people in this town knew where she had gone, including the postmaster and Bill, and he was going to find out no matter what.

The conclusion of Charlie’s Story will be published soon! Sign up for our email notifications and you can get it delivered right to your inbox!

A Trip to Dysart, Iowa – Travel Tips for a North Central Iowa Visit!

Dysart, Iowa – Home of “Dysart Illusions: Art in Public Places”

 

Recently, my family and I made a trip to my childhood home in Dysart, Iowa, a town located about twenty miles south of Waterloo and fifty miles to the west of Cedar Rapids. Dysart is a small town of about 1,200 people but unlike some of its counterparts; it’s an active place with a lot of civic pride. Their Facebook page shows several fun and interesting annual activities which other Iowans won’t want to miss including 4th of July, Old Iron Days and the Backroads Market, to name of few. Next year, they will celebrate 150 years and plans are underway to make this a special celebration.  I am a very fortunate person. My mother who is 94 years old, is still living on her own, in the same house I grew up in there and she was the reason we made the trip. People have a lot of a reasons to want to travel to the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area. This article hopefully, will provide those travelers with some of the resources we found for their own trip to the area.

We drove to Iowa from our home in Michigan and speculated that we have made this trip at least 100 times over the years of our marriage. This time, there were five of us in our party; my husband and I, our son and his two boys aged 7 and 2. The trip crosses Illinois and Iowa on I-80 which has several very nice rest areas ideal for travelers wanting to avoid fast food restaurant stops and needing room for kids to move about a bit. Many offers small play areas as well as picnic tables as well as clean restrooms and vending machines.

My brother was also planning to be there; traveling from the West Coast. This meant more pre-planning than before. Seven people in a one-bathroom house is a few too many so first we needed to look at lodging options. The previous Thanksgiving our entire family made the trip and we stayed at a house in Cedar Falls we found on airbnb.com which was a very good experience. If you look on their website or VRBP.com, you will find several nice places available for small and large groups. We initially thought we would use one of the sites again but really wanted something closer to home if we could find it.

For our first night’s stay who chose The Cobblestone Inn & Suites in nearby Vinton. We were pleasantly surprised with our choice. This two-story hotel on Hi-Way 218 was easy to find and conveniently located. The rooms were clean and the staff able to accommodate our request for two rooms next to each other. A quick check-in and deposit of our belongings and were were off to Dysart for an evening visit with my mom and brother. We did not get to spend much time in Vinton but I would have loved to visited The Old Hospital Pub which is located directly across the street from the Inn at the former Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School where my Aunt Helen spent her childhood in the 1930s. If time had allowed, we would have returned to the Pizza Ranch where we have eaten in the past.  I love Vinton’s downtown and courthouse square and certainly would have taken that in had time allowed.

That evening, we made the fifteen mile trip to Dysart for a visit with family and dinner at the Harper’s Public House. These brave folks opened their restaurant about a year ago in the middle of a pandemic and appear to be doing well. We were able to find a table big enough to accommodate our now large group and by the time we left every table in the place was full. The menu had a lot of variety, and we were all able to get something we wanted. I personally had a gigantic tenderloin sandwich which is my go-to when in Iowa along with some very yummy onion rings! I’ve been following Harper House on Facebook since before they opened and see that they have a lot of special meals and special events throughout the year.

After a good night’s rest in Vinton, we awoke to a complementary breakfast at the hotel which is both a money saver and time saver, especially with small children. The Inn is located on the edge of a bean field where someone was nice enough to leave a tractor for my youngest grandson and I to explore which is always a hit for a two-year old. On the way to Dysart that morning we stopped at Rodgers Park, located just outside of Vinton, where the kids could get some exercise for their seemingly boundless energy. After touring the park, we spent some time on the playground before heading to Dysart again. If you were traveling to the area in a camper, this looked like a nice place to stay. The campground was quiet and situated nicely by the small lake.

Our planned activity for the day was swimming and the Dysart Family Aquatic Center did not disappoint. This is not the same pool we had growing up. With its gradual grade entry, it is perfectly designed for small children and older swimmers who like to make a slow entry into the water. Our two-year-old loved going down the frog slide and the seven-year-old found plenty to do including the big slide, the driving board and a dad who was invested in playing with his boys. The pool had swim toys available which is a bonus when you are from out of town. The pool is heated and unlike when we were kids, there are chairs and umbrellas where you can take a break from the sun if you wish and tables for snacking and gathering. If you go, please note that updates about pool hours are posted on the city’s Facebook page not the aquatic center’s page. The second day of our visit the pool was closed due to a lack of staff, and we were caught unaware.

 

After a day of swimming, we moved on to our lodging for the next three nights at  Hickory Hills Park where we had rented a cabin. Located just a few miles out of town, this was one of the best decisions we made during the whole trip. The cabins are simple but quite nice. With two separate bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and large bathroom it was more than adequate for our needs. There was a large porch with a picnic table and a view of the lake. The cabins do not come with linens which is a little bit of a challenge if you are coming from out of town. The cabins also do not have any dishes although pans and utensils for cooking were available along with a stove and refrigerator. Because we were traveling by car, we were able to bring everything we needed. While staying at the park we took advantage of the playgrounds and fishing off the dock. They continue to have the buffalo and elk enclosure for viewing the animals. My mom who does not travel outside of Dysart’s city limits much anymore enjoyed coming out to the lake and watching the waterfowl. We had access to a firepit and were able to have a nice fire.

If you go, you should be aware that the park has more than one type of cabin and not all of them have the same set up so make sure you review the website carefully before choosing your spot. They also offer all types of camping sites. The price is extremely reasonable at just $100 per night. The cabins are not designed to hold events but there is a lodge building for rent if you wanted to have some type of reunion. Cell service was a little spotty for us and streaming anything on a phone or other devise was out of the question. The cabin had a TV with limited stations and a DVD player. If you are traveling with kids, bringing some DVDs with you would be a great idea. We were able to purchase some inexpensive ones at the new Dollar General in town. There is Wi-Fi available by the bathhouse in the campground and our son who works remotely spent a couple of mornings parked by the building so he could get some work done. Lastly, we were traveling during the week and so were lucky enough to find quite a few options. Weekend travelers might need to plan further in advance to secure a cabin. The cabin we rented was both air conditioned and heated and available year-round. The ladies in the cabin next to us looked like they were having a crafting party which looked like a lot of fun.

As mentioned, the Dysart pool was closed our second day so we drove the nine miles west to the Traer pool which was also very enjoyable. We were also informed there is a nice pool available in LaPorte City which is close to the campground. The two pools are very similar in terms of what is offered with an important difference being that the Traer pool is not heated which I noticed right away but seemed lost on the kids. Entrance fees at both were very reasonable at $3.00-$4.00 per person. Both pools were beautifully maintained and enviable resources for these small towns to possess.

That evening, my brother went to the Traer Pizza Palace and delivered dinner for the rest of us at the campground. We have had this pizza before and found it was very good, especially the supreme.

On Thursday, our group split up in the morning with the guys going to the Traer Golf & Country Club for eighteen holes. My brother, who golfs every time he goes to the area likes this golf course as well as the ones in Reinbeck and Dysart. Meanwhile, the kids and I spent the morning at the Norma Anders Public Library. This library is very impressive and rivals any of the branch libraries we have in our area of nearly a half-million people. The boys were busy for two hours with the many problem-solving games and building materials here. My oldest grandson used the computer station for a bit, and I enjoyed the comfortable chairs and much appreciated air-conditioning.

Normally, we would have had an outdoor lunch at KE Black with it’s daily specials but it was a hot day and the youngest among us looked like he could use a nap. So, we stopped by Bobby’s Grocery & BBQ for the ingredients for a home-cooked supper and another tenderloin for lunch (when in Rome…).  Bobby’s is also fairly new in town, and we hear their BBQ is quite good. We are looking forward to trying that on our next trip! After the guys returned from their golf outing my son took the boys to the pool again while mom and I had a chance to visit and catch up.

That evening, we treated ourselves to dinner at the Dysart Drive In (sign says Dysart Drive In, Facebook says Dysart Drive Inn) which has been a staple in the community for as long as I can remember. The drive-in is under new management this year but it does not seem like much has changed. The menu was what you would expect from a drive in and although many friends swear by the pizza burger we went with the burgers, hot dogs and fries plus ice cream, of course, all of which was good. My mom had suggested we get our food and take it to the city park and as is so often true, mom was right. We should have done that. The available seating area at the drive in was not ideal for our group, and we would recommend the park option to other visitors. The city park offers so much more in terms of playground, shade trees and tables and they have a new art installation which I am sorry we missed. This is their third illusion artwork called Magic Cylinder Koi Pond. Check the others out here.

 

 

Our trip to Iowa concluded the following day with a stop at the Field of Dreams which was quite special for us. Last time we were there our son was the same age as his son is now. They were busy getting ready for the upcoming game between the Reds and the Cubs on August 11, 2022. There are big upgrades and expansions planned for the movie site. It’s a wonderfully nostalgic place to visit.

We had a wonderful time in Dysart and hope to return soon. We did not get a chance to do everything we would have liked to have done. Here’s some things from our bucket list that other travelers might enjoy!

Local Museums and Historical Societies including the Dysart Historical Center. Most small communities (and large) have groups of dedicated volunteers keeping the history of their place alive. This one is exceptionally nice particularly if you ever lived here. It’s a great trip down memory lane to places and people you have likely forgotten. Housed in three separate buildings, make sure you plan on spending some time here taking it all in!

 

 

Hansen’s Dairy Farm Tour located near Hudson. Agri-tourism location where kids can feed and milk the cows and families can sample their ice cream and cheeses.

 

 

 

 

Lost Island Waterpark located south of Waterloo which looked like it would be great fun when the kids are a little older.

 

 

 

 

Matchstick Marvels in Gladbrook. An amazing place full of structures you will not believe are made from matchsticks. Although it sounds a little hokey, it’s really very impressive and you will be glad you went.

 

 

 

 

Taylor’s Maid-Rite in Marshalltown. My Michigan family does not understand Maid-rites but it’s one of those things “if you know, you know”. It’s the nearest place to get an authentic Maid-rite sandwich. For those of you unable to travel to Iowa, did you know you can get these shipped to your house????? Check this out! https://www.maidrite.com/send-a-maid-rite

 

 

 

 

Hurts Donut in Cedar Falls. My son and his girlfriend stopped there when we were there in November and claim “it’s the best donut ever”.

 

 

 

 

Cedar Falls Brown Bottle an old favorite from back in the day. This, along with Nino’s Steakhouse which is no longer open were the go-to places for date night when I lived in the area. We drove by last November and I longed to go back in for their famous lasagna.

The News From Dysart and North Central Iowa – Mid-June to Mid-July 1914

The News From Dysart
Last Week of Mid-June to Mid-July 1914

The thirty days between the middle of June and the middle of July in 1914 was very active in the Dysart area. The citizens were busy promoting their upcoming Fourth of July celebration and first ever Chautauqua both of which were held the first week of July. The The Great Booster Parade to promote themselves in the area was a success and a wonderful July 4, 1914 celebration  was nearly perfect except for the tragic death of Earl Emery. Join me today as we find out what else happened that mid-summer in 1914.


George Hix Death 

On Friday June 19, thirty year old local businessman, George P. Hix drove over to Traer, a town nine miles to the west to visit a friend. He arrived back in town about 12:30 in the morning. Although he had a successful career as an implement dealer, the young bachelor still lived with his parents George and Lena and saw no reason to head home. While driving by the electric light plant he noticed his friend, T.E. Sackett was working late so he stopped for a visit. He decided to drive a block over to the train depot where he knew his cousin, Nate Burhenn, was waiting to leave on the train. Ray Rhyner, another friend, was working at the depot that night where he was both a depot assistant and telegraph operator. Both men were musicians and so they took some time to play the mandolin and guitar while waiting for the train to come in and Ray's anticipated release from his work duties. Sackett may have heard the music so he  walked over, inviting the men to come back to the power plant after the train left where he would join them on the violin. Their jam session lasted about an hour an a half. At about 4 a.m. both Sackett and Rhyner expressed their fatigue and thought it time to head home but George was restless and not ready for bed so he suggested they take his car and go for a cruise. Those of us who grew up in small towns remember doing the same.

At about 5 a.m the men found themselves out by the Catholic Church and turned south onto what is now Highway 21. At that time it was a dirt road lined with a grove of trees. The newspaper suggested they were headed for a "southern loop" which had "good roads" (unsure if they meant road or the oval race track that was located south of town). Traveling at about 25-30 miles per hour they had gone about a half a mile when for reasons that were never made clear, George lost control of the car and it rolled over. At that time, car rollovers were quite common. The roads were rough and the cars traveled about on skinny tires which provided little stability. Newspaper articles from then almost always refer to it as "turning turtle". All three men were ejected from the car and after it had made a full rotation, Sackett was under the car; Rhyner and George Hix had been thrown away from the vehicle. Ray was able to help Sackett get out from under the car and both men then went to check on George who by their description was "standing erect on his knees facing the west but unconscious". The men tried to help him to stand but he soon collapsed. One or both of the "boys" as they were referred to in the newspapers articles ran to find a telephone and summoned Dr. Redmond who arrived within ten minutes. They transported George to Redmond's office where he died from a skull fracture, never regaining consciousness.

George's body was moved to the undertaker's at about 7 a.m. where it was held until an coroner's inquest could convene at 4 p.m. Sackett and Rhyner both testified that George appeared to have control of the car and they had no idea why the accident had occurred. John Lindeman, Ervin Krebs and Ross Taylor served as jurors and after listening to the testimony of the two witnesses determined that "George Hix met his death in an automobile accident the cause of which was unknown to the jury." George's body was released to his family and moved to their home where it remained from Saturday night until Monday afternoon. At 1:30 p.m. a prayer was offered at the home and the family followed George's body to the Evangelical Peace Church (now the Dysart Historical Center) of which the Hix's were founding members. George's service was offered in both German and English by Rev. Hild of the Peace Church and Rev. Lorenz from the German Evangelical Church. It was one of the largest funerals held in that church up until that time. The Dysart Reporter stated "Special music was rendered by a number of Dysart's best singers. The floral decorations were beautiful and beyond description."

By way of eulogy, the paper reported, "George was one of the biggest hearted fellows we ever knew. His circle of friendship was unbounded. In business matters he was the kind of an honest square fellow that one likes to deal with. In social activities he strived to be the best. He was a member of the Helping Hand Sunday School at the Evangelical church and was quite regular in attendance. He was always pleasant to meet, always having a smile and probably some witticism for an answer. We cannot recall more pleasant evenings than those spent at the Hix home with George and several other friends passing jokes and enjoying music. He will long be remembered by all his acquaintances and relatives." George was survived by his parents: George and Lena and his sisters Mary, Nettie, Louise, Amanda and Katie. It appears that Mr. Sackett and Mr. Rhyner were both temporary residents of the town of Dysart. Not much could be found on them past 1914.

Driving around with friends is likely a familiar theme for many of us who grew up in small towns such as these. Long after all the businesses were closed and not wanting to go home we would often drive around town. Sometimes, you might congregated uptown or some other parking lot to sit on hoods or tailgates with others unwilling to go home. You and your friends might stop in the park which was suppo0se to be closed or drive out to the cemetery and try to scare each other to death. Thankfully for most of us these are sweet and happy memories.


 

Farm Auctions 

 

The Krambeck Farm was sold by auction on June 20th. This was an eighty acres farm located adjacent to the town of Dysart. It fetched the highest price ever offered for Tama County farm land up  until that time at $277.50 per acre. The winning bidder was Ed. Thomas of Geneseo. Other bidders included: Theo. Matthisen, George Kersten, L.C. Knupp and Chris Nelson. Bidding started at $250 per acre. Mr. Krambeck had purchased the land six years before at a price of $100 per acre. The local paper in describing the land stated; "The price is the highest ever paid for Tama County land, yet the eighty has a ditch through it, has considerable low land and although well improved has a house thirty years old. But it is a delightful home, adjoining the incorporation of Dysart, and a very tempting place." Shortly thereafter, John H. Lichty, offered property which adjoined Mr. Krambeck's for auction. This land was sold in four different auctions totaling 440 acres within the yellow area in the photo. This land sold for between $200.75 to $222.50 per acre and was purchased by Theodore Heckt, Peter Wieben, Joe Thierer and Emil Benesh of Cedar Rapids. 

 


 

Chautauqua A Big Success

Dysart's first Chautauqua which ran from Saturday, July, 4, until Thursday, July 9, was both an entertainment and financial success. Approximately $900 worth of season tickets were sold and after all expenses were paid the Commercial Club netted $300.00. Several interesting lectures and musical performances were enjoyed throughout the week. 


 

Dysart Reporter Changes Hands 

After two years of publishing the Dysart Reporter, R.E. Lee Aldrich, sold the paper to E. E. Roland who came to Dysart from Ocheyedan, Iowa. The following week, Mr. Aldrich, received a serious electric shock and survived. Mr. Aldrich, his brother and the new owner of the paper were on their way to the office. The main street had been roped off to protect the surface which had just been oiled. Aldrich grabbed a rope in an attempt to allow a car to pass under it. This caused the rope to come loose from the light pole so he reached around the post to retie the rope. Unfortunately, due to some faulty wiring the pole had become charged and Aldrich was shocked. He fell to the ground unconscious but regained consciousness quickly and fully recovered. 


 

Chinese Dragon Appears On July 4th

D.E. Cone created some extra excitement during Fourth of July celebration when he sent away for a "Chinese Dragon" to be displayed. He stated before the event that "people who have read about dragons in myths and legends will be greatly surprised..." This was later described as a five foot creature and was likely an iguana or other lizard but was something new and unseen to the people at the celebration.


Traer Bootlegger Narrowly Misses Arrest on the Fourth 

According to the local papers a Traer bootlegger brought bottles of alcohol into Dysart in a suitcase or valise on the 4th for the purpose of selling them. The papers describe Dysart as a more "temperate sister city" than neighboring Traer. One of the bootlegger's fellow Traerites saw him and reported him to a Dysart police officer who was not fond of the alcohol trade. The citizen and officer searched for the bootlegger without success. A second police officer, more sympathetic to the drink, did find the the bootlegger and warned him that leaving town would be in his best interest. He escaped without charg


The colors of 1914 

Two paint colors regularly advertised as available during 1914 were Paris Green and Venetian Red Ground, both very familiar colors. Venetian red was a popular choice for barns and farm buildings. The paint got it's name because historically this pigment was produced from natural clays found near Venice, Italy. The clays contained an iron oxide compound that produced this red color. By the 1920s, these clays were being mined  throughout the US including in Iowa making the paint readily available and affordable. . The paint was non-toxic.

 

 

Paris Green as a color was used on everything from cabinet doors and shelving to furniture and was incorporate into much of the glass and ceramics of the time. Developed by two chemists in 1814, the compound was used as both an insecticide and paint pigment. Because of it's make-up the substance was highly toxic and required care in handling. That summer in Iowa, a farm wife living northeast of Clutier was found dead in her home. Her death was ruled a suicide as the result of taking a dose of Paris green. She was not alone. Over the  counter poisons were often the chosen method of suicide in the early 1900s.


Advertising


 

July 4, 1914 – Glorious Day Ends in Tragedy

July 4, 1914 – Glorious Day Ends in Tragedy

Depot

Dysart Train Depot

It is after 11 p.m. and the platform of the Dysart train station is crowded with people and packages all waiting for the #420 Rock Island train which will take them east. Most are headed to the town of Vinton. With a population of about 3,300 people, Vinton is three times larger than Dysart. No Fourth of July celebration was offered there, so Vinton residents came here earlier today to enjoy the excitement of Dysart’s celebration. That train was late too.

Most are not disappointed with their decision. They have had a fun and exciting day full of interesting sights and sounds and smells. They have been entertained by Vaudeville acts performed live and for free. They have played games of chance, and some hold a souvenir of their victory. Their beloved baseball team, the Vinton Cinders with the popular Lynch and Miller brothers have emerged victorious from the two games they played today. Some of the young people met someone at the dance who they are now thinking about and hoping they will see again.

It has been a glorious day-long break from the work that normally consumes their lives but now they are growing tired and maybe a little antsy. There are no benches at the train depot, and everyone waits outside in the night air. They jockey for space where they can. No one wants to be the last to board. Standing in a moving train for fifteen miles seems like a bit too much after the day they have had.

Earl Emery

Among those standing on the platform are two young men from the Vinton area, Earl Emery, and his friend Lafe Miller. Earl is just seventeen, but he has seen a lot of life already. Three years ago, he stole $75.00 from his father and left alone on a train for Alliance, Nebraska, where his mother is buried. Apprehended, he was sent to the reform school for boys in Iowa and has been recently released. He now lives near his dad who got him a job at the S. Robinson Company where he worked in the manure spreader department. Within the past few weeks, he traded that position for one as farm hand. After a rocky adolescence, he appears to be headed in the right direction. His friend, Lafe, is originally from Indiana but came to the Vinton area two years ago to work as a farm hand on the Oxtel Bostrom Farm.

The headlight of the railroad locomotive appears to the west and the crowd starts collecting their things in anticipation of going home. What happens when the train reaches the platform will be disputed, misreported, and sensationalized to sell newspapers in the days ahead. But the result will be the same. In a few short minutes, Earl Emery will be dead, and Lafe Miller will be maimed for the remainder of his life.

The Aftermath

The local paper, The Dysart Reporter, was a weekly publication, so they were not able to report the incident until five days later. However, starting on July 6 several other papers around the state picked up the story and started to report their versions of what happened. One of the first papers to break the story was the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette which immediately sensationalized the tragedy. On July 6, 1914, their headline read:

Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette

 

That same day, the Des Moines Register in a brief article reported that eleven deaths were reported across the state on the 4th. It reads “Sunday’s toll of deaths from accidental causes was sixteen, eleven being the result of automobile accidents, four were drowned and one Iowan being killed by a train when shoved off the station platform in Dysart, Iowa. The Waterloo Courier also placed the blame an unruly and selfish crowd. The Evening Times Republican out of Marshalltown proposed the cause of the accident was Earl and Lafe’s position on the platform not the crowd.

Evening Times Republican

In truth, Lafe Miller did not lose a leg. On July 7th the boy’s hometown paper, the Vinton Eagle proposed yet another explanation of what happened on the platform that night. Because most of the people were from Vinton, it might be assumed this version is more accurate as the editor likely interviewed witnesses who experienced what happened. Speaking of Earl, they wrote:

 

Vinton Eagle

They reported Lafe’s injuries in more graphic detail but also noted that a woman had most of her clothes torn off by the suction of the train. This detail is not repeated in any other paper that could be found.

Vinton Eagle

 

The Cedar Rapids Republican’s coverage combines the hypothesis that because of the crowded conditions, Earl was standing too close to the train when it entered the station and was struck by some protruding part. It does also note that “he was hurled many feet into the air alighting beside the platform.”

The local paper, the Dysart Reporter, carried the story on July 9, 1914. Their tone is less sensational and more factual. In their version, Earl and Lafe were killed and injured by a train, not by the people waiting for the train.

Dysart Reporter

 

In whatever way the accident occurred, one can only imagine the horror and shock the boy’s fellow passengers and friends experienced that night. Surprisingly, the extensive reporting that followed in all the papers has a lack of eyewitness accounts. The Reporter went on to speculate the details as follows:

Dysart Reporter

Crowd Accused of Murder

The Waterloo Courier on July 9 took everything up a notch by accusing the crowd of murder in the death of young Earl.

Waterloo Courier

 

The story continued to be reported across the state for a few days after July 9 on which date the Vinton Review published this account which seems like the most likely explanation. It combines the notion that the crowd was pushing and that the boys were too close to the tracks. It also reiterates that although hundreds of people were present, very little could be seen on that dark night when outdoor lighting was just starting to be installed in towns across Iowa.

Vinton Review

 

The Traer Star Clipper concluded their coverage in this way:

Traer Star Clipper

Later in the month, the editor of the Keokuk Daily Gate used the Courier’s indictment of murder as the basis for an editorial on the selfishness of man and unruly crowds.

All the papers were able to agree that Earl lived for a brief few seconds after being hit but the train because witnesses heard his rattled breathing. They were also able to agree that Lafe was horribly injured and in need of medical attention. We know that one of the towns’ doctors, F.W. Gessner, was called to attend to his injuries because he would later testify to the same. In the hopes of saving his foot, Lafe was loaded on to that same train and taken to Cedar Rapids’ St. Luke’s Hospital. He was hospitalized for several weeks but the foot was saved.

These events happened on a Saturday. Earl’s body was taken to the Kranbuehl undertaker’s parlor. The following Monday, his father arrived in town and took Earl’s body to Vinton. A funeral service was held at the Presbyterian Church, and he was interred somewhere near Vinton although where is not clear.

Starting in September, a few different lawsuits were filed against the Rock Island Railroad and the engineer, George Godden. George McElroy, administrator for Earl’s estate and Earl’s father both filed suits which were settled in December for a total of $1,250.00. J.W.Agers who was listed as guardian for Lafe also filed a suit asking for $7,500. A settlement may have been reached but that information is lost to time.

Lizzie Emery 1877-1908

 

Earl Martin Emery was born in Clinton, Iowa, on Valentine’s Day in 1896 to George and Lizzie Emery. His mother, Lizzie Marie Clark Emery died, at the age of 31 on January 13, 1908, when Earl was just twelve years old. After her death, his father, George, moved the family to the Vinton area. He was remarried in 1909 and apparently divorced the following year which is the year that Earl took off for Nebraska.  He was married a third time to Myrtle Mae Fisher. George died in 1952 and is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Vinton.

William Lafe Miller was originally from Bristow, Indiana, and had been working in Vinton over the summer along with his two brothers. Lafe became a mechanic and either owned or worked at shops in Garrison, Dysart and Clutier. In 1928, he and Olin Smith purchased a garage business from John Helm in Dysart. He became the sole owner of that business in 1930. He and his family (wife Marie Peterson Miller) lived on the main street. During the 1930s he drove cars out to California and sometimes advertised that he would take riders with him. By 1940, he and his family moved to the Phoenix, Arizona, area although he returned to Iowa several times over the years. He was living in Arizona in 1950 when the census taker came but his location after that is unknown at this time. Lafe appears to have either been unlucky or lucky sort of guy depending on your perspective. In 1916 he was involved in an auto accident and in 1922 he was injured when a battery exploded in his eyes.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing on our home page. You will get notices as new articles are published! 

 

July 4, 1914 – Small Town Holds a Great Celebration

July 4, 1914, Small Town Holds a Great Celebration

Celebration

At 4 a.m. the sound of a light artillery brigade reverberated through this small and peaceful, but not entirely silent town. The canning factory on the northern edge of town and the adjoining cement factory produce a steady amount of noise, sometimes late into the night. Occasionally, one of the newly purchased automobiles is heard rumbling by long past the time when decent folks are asleep or it's rambunctious driver breaks the silence with the horn. But generally, 4. a.m. is a quiet, restful time reserved for dairymen and the train station manager. This Independence Day, however, the organizers of the day's event have determined that a cannon blast at 4:00 a.m. is the best way to begin a celebration of the nation's 138th birthday. There are eleven surviving civil war veterans living in town today, July 4, 1914, and for them being awoken by live artillery likely produces a different reaction than other residents, but no one considers that. These folks are three years away from the great war and all that it will teach the world about the long-term trauma of war.

Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones in Time

A glorious day full of promise and excitement awaits the people here. To say they are enthusiastic would be a complete understatement. Just one week ago 150 resident boosters spent an entire day traveling in 29 cars to many towns in the area promoting their event. Flyers have been handed out, welcoming invitations have been extended and large advertisements have been placed in local papers. Although they have hosted big celebrations in the past, this year is different. This year, July 4th is also the kick-off of their first week-long Chautauqua. A giant multi-colored tent is set up in the park in anticipation.

There are only 1000 people living here and yet they are expecting thousands of celebrants to arrive in the next few hours. The world they live in is experiencing tremendous change and they seem ready to embrace it. Their guests will arrive by horse and buggy, trains, and automobiles. Some will walk into town from their homes in the country. They will come with picnic baskets full of food and blankets to sit upon. There are two passenger trains scheduled to arrive from the east today at 9:45 a.m. and 1:21 p.m. and two from the west which will not arrive until 4:45 p.m. and 10:52 p.m. Many people arrived yesterday and found lodging where they could. There are no hotel rooms available and all through the community homes are full of out-of-town guests. The town has invited people to bring their hammocks and tents and feel free to camp overnight in the city park for the night or all week long if they wish to attend the Chautauqua. Tents are available for rent. They have promised there will be plenty of food and beverages available for sale. A special water pump station has been added to the park.

The train coming from the east arrives late and pushes events back a bit but not to the determent of the day. Among those arriving on this train is Earl Emery, a 17-year-old boy. Earl has grown into quite the young man and repaired his relationship with his father. Just three years ago he impulsively stole $75 and bought a train ticket to Alliance, Nebraska, where he was apprehended and returned home. Now he is a employed as a farmhand and is looking forward to spending some of his hard earned cash and watching his hometown team play baseball.

Parade

People flood into the main street before 9 a.m. where the M.B.A. Band is already playing. They have come, the local paper states, "to publicly express their appreciation of the liberties the Declaration of Independence has brought to America and Americans". Forty automobiles line up, ready to start the parade at 9:15. There are cash prizes at stake for the best decorated car. This along with the pride of being among the first in the area to own an automobile has spurred the participants to go all out.

The town was created to accommodate the westward expansion of the railroad. Built in the middle of a prairie; there were no rivers or creeks to be consider, no hills and even significant elevations to contend with. As a result, the whole town is a grid with every street coming to a ninety degree angle with the next. There are no curves or bends in the road except through the park and even this is slight. The distance from the main street to the park is only four blocks, so running the parade directly from the corner of Wilson and Main to the City Park would leave little room for the large crowds to get a good look. Therefore, a route has been planned that includes several streets within the city's boundaries. On their last pass through the main street the attendees are encouraged to follow along to the park for the scheduled baseball game between the Vinton Cinders and the Hiteman teams.

Baseball Team

The crowd does not know it now, but they are witnessing the beginning of a life-long baseball career. A standout player for the Vinton Cinders, twenty-year-old Edmund John "Bing" Miller will enjoy a long career playing major league ball. He will be part of teams that win two World Series titles between 1921-1936 and then coach for another 17 years. But today, he is an ordinary guy playing minor league ball with his brother and friends in the central part of of Iowa.

Motion Pictures

Dysart Reporter

The day is hot with no sign of rain. The beverage vendors will do well. The park is crowded and will stay that way. A merry-go-round has been set up with the promise to run all day. The smell of freshly roasted nuts wafts from the peanut stand, filling the senses. Carnival games called baby and cane racks and striking machines allow an opportunity for men and women to try their luck and hopefully win a memento to take home. There is even a fortune teller set up who will most likely provide you a favorable look at your future. Those who wish to stroll back to the main street business district will find that Jessen and Clemen is offering three moving picture shows featuring nine reels playing all day starting at 10 o'clock.

Clown

Source: Bretzel Liquide

At one o'clock a large crowd gathers on the main street to enjoy the free street performances by Vaudevillian entertainers. The crowd is treated to the fascinations of the Smilette Brothers and Mora, a comedy triple bar act which combines acrobatic troupe stunts along with a clown. Murdos and Novelty Dogs follows with a group of seven acrobatic fox terriers performing amazing feats. Last is the Zeno and Zoa Comedy Act, a European contortionist group performing a hand balancing and foot juggling act. They are a marvel who have traveled extensively through the Americas and Europe.

Returning to the park, crowds gather to witness the Montana Kid who it has been advertised will ride the famous bucking broncho, Steamboat. The crowd will be disappointed when the horse refuses to buck after the first few jumps. It will be revealed later that the real Steamboat has been dead for several years, but the Montana Kid will continue to make the circuit as a cowboy, at least for a while longer.

At 2:30 the big Chautauqua tent will be thrown open and a large crowd will first hear six young men who perform under the name "The American Collegian Orchestra" play several different instruments and sing. This will be followed by a lecture from a Methodist minister named Dr. Frank E. Day who will travel throughout the Midwest giving lectures under such titles as 'Does the Hour Hand Move' and 'The Worn-Out Preacher: What is he Good For Anyway'. Eventually he will become a well-known minister in Indiana and one hundred years from now, people will still be reading his writings.

Dancers

Dysart is not the only community hosting a celebration today. There are also events in Waterloo and Urbana. These have drawn so many people that the editor of the Vinton newspaper reported their town looked like it had been abandoned at midday. As the heat continues to climb, a second ballgame is played in the late afternoon where a $100 purse is won by the Vinton team. Finally, as the day begins to cool down at 6:45 p.m. the street show is repeated. and at 7:45 p.m. the orchestra provides a grand concert in the tent. The day wraps up with a much-anticipated dance at the Opera House.

Train Depot

Dysart Train Depot

When everything is over it will be reported that an estimated 5,000 people spent that Fourth of July day in Dysart arriving in between 250 and 300 automobiles, meaning the majority must have come by train. As it starts to grow dim, tired but happy people start leaving town at various times. About 10:00 p.m. many people leave the well-lit Opera House heading for the depot so they can catch the last train heading east which is scheduled for 10:52 p.m. For most, they are a bit less animated than they were this morning however some of the young women are almost giddy from the excitement of the day and the dancing. There is a sense of happy exhaustion among them. Tired event organizers are breathing a satisfied sigh of contended relief that the day turned out so well. Their planning has not gone unappreciated. Some are already mulling over improvements for 1915. The clear night sky helps create a feeling that the day is wonderfully complete.

As the headlight of the railroad locomotive appears to the west, the crowd of approximately 500 people start collecting their things in anticipation of boarding the train. As it draws nearer, the whistle breaks the silence of the town just as it was broken this morning by the artillery fire. It is then, at approximately 11:20 p.m. that an unimaginable tragedy strikes which will spread a pallor over this magnificent celebration and send ripples across the state for many days to come.

If you have enjoyed reading this post and would like to be notified when new articles are posted, including the conclusion to this one, please sign up at the bottom of this page!

The Great Booster Parade – A Small Town Promotes Themselves

The Great Booster Parade – A Small Town Promotes Themselves

Booster Parade

Six months ago, I started a personal challenge to write and publish something every week for a year. Since that time, I have learned a lot about a great many things. I chose as my primary subject the place where I was raised; a small town in the central part of Iowa, called Dysart. Through reading countless newspaper articles and books and a trip to the local museum, I have had a chance to imagine what Dysart must have looked, felt and smelled like in those early days before there was electricity and modern plumbing and streets. I've grown in my appreciation for the fact that nothing truly worth having comes along by accident. It takes dreams that are followed by careful planning and hard work. In the case of a community, it takes the dogged dedication of a group of people who will themselves to make it work. I've learned that my teenage belief that nothing interesting ever happened in a small town like mine was a lie. I've remembered a lot of people who I had known and forgotten about, both living and dead. I've reconnected with folks I once knew and have enjoyed hearing other people's memories which are different than my own. Memories have filled my days and the pages I have written.

Nothing I have read about or written so far has created more longing within me to have a time machine than what happened in Dysart in the weeks before and after July 4, 1914. I wish I could have been a part of it all. In that short period of time this tiny town of 1,000 people accomplished amazing things, became the object of ridicule for people across the state, and emerged with the strength to continue to work together to build up their town. Dysart has long hosted one of the largest and finest July Fourth celebrations in the area. Today, as the people of Dysart work hard to once again offer a great opportunity for Fourth of July fun and fellowship, allow me to tell you about a packed few days of community spirit 108 years ago.

In the spring of 1914, the businessmen of Dysart formed a Commercial Club. These types of organizations were being formed throughout the country to promote the growth and development of towns and cities. The group that formed in Dysart grew quickly and within a few weeks their membership was up over 70. Not bad for a town of less than 1000. The group went straight to work funding and overseeing improvements which would bring both businesses and new residents to the area. Although the community had hosted July 4th events in the past, this one would be bigger. The celebration would coincide with a newly acquired week- long Chautauqua. In early June, the club members decided to take their message about the upcoming events on the road.

In the Dysart Reporter of June 18, 1914, the details of this road trip were announced, and an open invitation was extended to anyone wishing to participate. The date of the road trip was only one week later, on June 25. One week with no social media to help spread the word; just the newspaper and word of mouth.

Everyone was invited to bring an automobile if they had one and pack a lunch for a planned stop in a "grove where it will be pleasant to eat." Those not possessing a automobile of their own were encouraged to see C.L. Wareham at his store or Charles Vaubel or Lee Aldrich at the Dysart Reporter. Drivers were promised that the outing would not cost them anything as the occupants of the car would pay the running expense. Drivers were also told there would be mechanics in the group but that each driver should bring his own accessories. On a weekly basis, the owners of newly purchased cars had been listed in local papers and one must believe that many of these men were anxious to join the parade and show off their purchases. The local band was engaged to join the procession.

On the morning of Thursday, June 25, 1914, at 7:30 a.m. a total of 29 cars lined up on Main Street with the goal of "by the time Traer is properly awakened we will be there to distribute our advertising matter and the M.B.A. band will play a few pieces that will make them feel good the rest of the day." By the time the cars were assembled into a parade formation there was a total of about 150 men and women. The first car out of town was carrying the officers of the Commercial Club followed by the car carrying the M.B.A. band and then the participating drivers whose order had been selected by lots.

I can picture them now as they head west out of Dysart. Everyone dressed in their Sunday best, crammed into their open aired cars. The men are wearing hats but have allowed themselves the luxury of rolling up their sleeves in the hot June sun. Some of these men have purchased riding outfits specifically for motoring as was popular at the time. The young women are laughing and chattering. They are likely calling out to the cars ahead and behind of them. Everyone is excited to see how the day will go. Perhaps the band is already playing, or they are singing popular songs from that day. It has only been recently that private ownership of cars has been made possible and an extended road trip is probably a novelty to most. The newspaper articles report that they found mostly good roads but in 1914, that means dirt or gravel roads and with the small wheels the cars have the ride is bumpy.

Map

Map from 1917 showing local roads

The group made a number of stops in the following order: Traer to Clutier, where Mr. Jensen broke a spring and apparently had to quit the parade. Then on to Elberon and Keystone. At noon they stopped in a grove near Keystone and at the invitation of the owner occupied the yard for a picnic ground. Finally, friends who had been settled into different vehicles had a chance to get out and visit and have some fun together. From there they went to Van Horne and then Vinton. While in Vinton a storm blew up but it was over quickly. They then went to Garrison, La Porte and then back to Dysart. At each stop along the way it was said that the townspeople gave them a hearty welcome. The band played, flyers were distributed and visiting with the locals was initiated. Dave Wilson and John Christiansen gave speeches at each stop along the way. They "extended a cordial invitation to our sister cities to spend the Fourth with us and also to attend the Chautauqua which opens on that date."

 

The Vinton Eagle described the visit this way:

"Vinton was serenaded in royal style last Friday by the Dysart Boosters - men and women - 150 strong. They arrived in the middle of the afternoon in twenty-nine autos. They were accompanied by the local band which discoursed sweet music for fully half an hour. The 'tourists' mingled with the businessmen of the city and made their mission known. This was also made known in an eloquent address by John Christiansen....The mission of the Boosters was to advertise the fact that there is to be a great Fourth of July celebration at Dysart to which everybody is invited...Mr. Christiansen said they expect 3,000 people from Vinton during the week (of Chautauqua) so it is up to the Vinton people to justify Mr. Christiansen's expectations. There is no question, but a large crowd will go to Dysart on the Fourth to witness the game of ball between the Vinton Cinders and the Hiteman team."

I love this story. I can see myself in it and as I have said wish I could go back in time and live the day with them. It reminds me that when I lived in a small town, I experienced a sense of community that has not happened to me living in a city. It reminds me of happy days from my teenage years riding in cars and buses to music competitions, sports tournaments and school trips or just around town; singing and laughing with sweet friends. It also makes me remember how wonderful it is to drive around the Dysart countryside on dirt and paved roads and to soak up the colors and sounds of summer; to see the wide-open sky; and inhale the open-air smells. I wonder if other former Dysartites have the same feeling that I have always had, that you can leave the town, but the town does not leave you.

News articles state that two photographers were among the traveler and in the weeks after the 25th, postcards were advertised as for sale at Wareham's store. If anyone has any of these postcards, they would be willing to share, please contact me. I'd love to share them with my readers.

Stay tuned for next week's post when I will share with you the tremendous turnout this trip produced and the dramatic event that happened in Dysart on July 4, 1914.

If you have enjoyed this post and would like to get notification when new stories are available, please sign up at the bottom of this page.

The News From Dysart and North Central Iowa – Last Week of May-Mid June 1914

The News From Dysart
Last Week of May-Mid June 1914

Citizens Continue to Promote a Growing Town
Proudly Show Their Patriotism & Civic Pride

Decoration Day

City Celebrates Decoration Day (Just a reminder: what is described here happened before either world war.)

The annual celebration of Decoration Day was held on Saturday. Events were planned by the Dysart Cemetery Association. Main street businesses and banks which were closed in honor of the day were all decorated giving the street a patriotic appearance. Farmers had been asked to halt their work for half a day to honor the fallen. The gateway entrance to the park was arched and decorated as was the park stand.

Under the direction of Marshall for the Day, Dave Wilson, the festivities started on Main Street at 1:00 p.m. with band music. A gun drill was presented by several of the small schoolboys. The schoolgirl’s presented a wreath drill. From there a parade including local dignitaries, the M.B.A band, teachers and students marched to the park. Twelve old soldiers and several soldiers' widows were taken to the park in cars. The sons and daughters of veterans followed. The flower girls were the last entry in the parade.

At the park the program was started with music by the band. Rev. Christiansen offered a short prayer. The chorus under the direction of C. B. Reed, rendered the anthem. The Gettysburg Address was recited by Miss Anetta Clough. Mayor Sewall gave a short talk followed by another anthem from the chorus. Mr. Ed Minkle, president of the event, spoke to the veterans and introduced the speaker, Rev. L.A. Swisher of Vinton who praised the efforts of the civil war veterans present. The band closed the program and the crowed moved to the cemetery where the graves of departed soldiers were decorated by the flower girls.

After all of the scheduled activities were complete, a baseball game was started. The high school team was challenged by a team composed of Clare Wilson, Abe Lincoln, Will Matthiesen, John Matthiesen, Glenn Riddlesbarger, Ben Marquardt, Clarence Casey, Paul Marquardt and Ray Hawbaker. As a result of this game, a team is being formed for those interested. They will practice at the park on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

GAR marker South Berwick Maine

GAR marker South Berwick Maine

The local G.A.R. ordered 40 grave markers with a plan to mark all the old soldier's graves in the following cemeteries: Dysart, Gnagy, Yankee Grove and Waller in Homer Township (note: there are four cemeteries in Homer Township none of which are currently named Waller).

Commercial Club Names Winner in Slogan Contest

"Boost For Dysart, She Boosts For You"

Twenty-one slogans were filled with Ervin Moeller, secretary of the Commercial Club. The slogans were written down and each member got to vote. The winning slogan was entered by Mrs. R. Clynton Hall.

Commercial Club and City Work Together to Oil Streets

The Improvement Committee of the Commercial Club met with the Town Council and a plan has been agreed upon to oil Main Street from Wilson to the park. The city will prepare the streets for the oiling including adding drains to the main block for drainage. The the Commercial Club will pay for the tanker and actual oil application. Several of the towns around Dysart have already completed this project and visits there have influenced town and commercial leaders that this is needed. Oiling will keep the dust down and make for a more pleasant environment for all. It is anticipated that residence districts will also be oiled with homeowners paying for that expense.

 

Park Improvements Approved

The Commercial Club and Town Council have also agreed on improvements to be made to the City Park. An electric line will be run into the park and furnish lights for public occasions. Payment for these lines will be provided by the club. Water will also be added to the park. A water line will be run across the street from Mrs. Smith's corner and the club will pay for the expense of carrying water to where it is needed for events. The town will make sure the park is mowed and trimmed.

 

Commercial Club's Plans for a Great Fourth of July Continue

Dysart Reporter May 1914

Dysart Reporter May 1914

 

The Commercial Club has grown to 72 members. Excitement is growing over the plans being made by the Entertainment Committee for a fabulous 4th of July and Chautauqua.

"The day will start at 4 a.m. when a cannon salute will sound to awaken the citizens. "

At 9:15 a.m. the automobile parade will line up and get started. The parade route will include several streets and culminate at the park where the baseball game will start. Prizes will be awarded for the best decorated cars.

The Waterloo Amusement Company has been engaged to furnish three companies and each company is to give two entertainments during the day. The club is putting up a purse of $100 for the winning team in the baseball tournament between the Vinton Cinders and the Hiteman Iowa team.

A subcommittee comprised of W.D. Brandt, Art Keidel, and E.E. Weiben have been appointed to work with the town council and decide what concessions should be made for the week. C.L. Wareham, Dr. Porter and George Schreiber are deciding with some organization to produce meals in the park on the Fourth.

Advertisements for the special day are now starting to run in local papers.

Celebration

The Publicity Committee comprised of C.L. Wareham, Lee Aldrich, Charles Vaubel, Dan Lally, Abe Lincoln, Otto Cold, James Lally, George Schrieber, Homer Gardner, W.D.. Brandt and John Meggers have designated June 25 as "Booster Day". Members of the Commercial Clubs will make a day's circuit of surrounding towns and do advertising for the celebration and Chautauqua. Anyone is welcome to participate. Cars will line up on Main Street about 7:30 a.m. and will head west to distribute advertising materials. The MBA band will provide musical entertainment at each stop. Stay tuned for next week's post to learn how the day turned out!

Business

OK Restaurant

OK Restaurant on West Side of Main -looking north

The O.K. Restaurant has been leased to C.C. Horstman for one year starting on June 25. Owner, Will Kessler, plans to take a year off with his wife for some much-needed rest. The Kessler's have been running the restaurant for 12 years. Mrs. Kessler has not been feeling well which has prompted this decision. They plan to spend most of their time with relatives in Canada. It is expected that the Horstman family will live in the Kessler's home south of the Methodist church. Mr. Horstman was a previous owner of the O.K. Restaurant so townspeople will be in good hands under his management.

Entertainment News

Upcoming Entertainment Course Set

Schildkret Hungarian Orchestra

Schildkret Hungarian Orchestra

A subcommittee of the Commercial Club has set the entertainment course for the coming season. The subcommittee members are B.E. Barkdoll, C.A. Keidel and Lee Aldrich. They have met with the representative of the Redpath-Vawter System and purchased an entertainment course. The numbers secured are:Schildkret's Hungarian Orchestra, Killarney Girls, Laurant the magician andWeatherwax Male Quartet.

Laurant

 

Farm News

Farm To Be Sold To Highest Bidder

Map

Property as described in the sale bill

Andrew Krambeck has announced that he will sell his farm at public auction on June 20th. Many people are interested in this sale and plan to bid. According to the Dysart Reporter, "whoever puts the high bid will have a home that many people will envy". (Editor's note: I remember there being a house on this piece of property when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s but always thought of it as abandoned. A newer home is there now.)

Grand Public Auction

Sale Bill Dysart Reporter

 

Several Barns Going Up Around Dysart

Map

Maps like these can be found at https://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/islandora/object/ui%3Aatlases_1342

New barns are being erected at the C. Seebach farm a mile north of town. The building will be 30x50x24. More than a dozen friends helped raise the barn and the finish carpentry will be done by Myers and Jessen.

Map

Gust Weiben is also building a new barn on his property six miles south of town. The building will be 48x56x24. Ed Nordon is having a new house building on his farm five miles south of Dysart. It will be 30x30 and two stories tall. He has also just had a new barn finished which is 40x56 with a gambrel roof. Meanwhile John Brandau is having a 30x30 two story house in town.

Farmer Injured

Henry Hupfeldt received serious injuries recently when his clothes became caught in the governor of an eight horse power engine. He was shelling corn when the accident happened and was alone at the engine. The governor broke and the engine stopped. Sam Sturtz found Hupfeldt unconscious. He was taken in to the house and for some time it was feared that his injuries would be fatal. He was bruised about the head and needed stitches. He also has several broken ribs but he is getting along nicely now and a good recovery is expected.

School News

Dysart High School Graduation

Commencement Services for the Class of 1914 were held on May 23rd. The class consists of ten members; six girls and four boys: Anna Marquardt, Gertrude Schreiber, Alma Sturtz, Fern Gnagy, Inez Creps, Amanda Hix, Ed Hix, Kenneth von Lackum, Cecil Sturtz and Freeman Pippert. Each member has completed the work described for the course in Dysart Schools except for Ed Hix. Owing to the automobile accident in which Ed was seriously injured last fall he was unable to continue his work with the class. He was determined to do the work some way even with his sister, Miss Eva, tutoring him, but his physicians held that the work would do more harm than the diploma would good. Therefore, he has been continuing with his treatments. He will receive a certificate of the work he has completed thus far.

The No. 5 school in Clark Township, two miles west of Dysart, closed their term with a picnic. Eleven pupils achieved the honor roll or were neither absent or tardy. Those students were Alma, Lorena and Linda Jansen; Myrtle, Frank and Raymond Heckroth; Thurza Kinderman; Bertha Nelson and Helga Dengler.

Advertising
CocaCola

If you enjoyed this post, please sign up below to receive notice of new posts. It’s all the way at the bottom of this page. Leave your email address and you will get new stories as they are published.