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

Citizens Continue to Promote a Growing Town

Proudly Show Their Patriotism & Civic Pride

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 school boys. The school girl’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 a number of 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

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

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 making arrangements 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.

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!


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

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 and Weatherwax Male Quartet.

Farm News

Farm To Be Sold To Highest Bidder

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 sits there now. )

Sale Bill Dysart Reporter

Several Barns Going Up Around Dysart

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.

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 30×30 and two stories tall. He has also just had a new barn finished which is 40×56 with a gambrel roof. Meanwhile John Brandau is having a 30×30 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 with the exception of 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.


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The Big Brick Building on The Corner

From 1890’s Hardware Store to Present Day Business Hub

Dysart, Iowa 1973

Growing up in 1960’s small town Iowa, “going uptown” to Main Street was something we looked forward to. The city park, school, Community Building, and uptown were the main hubs for community activities. My parents owned a business on Main and so, I think I spent more time there than most of my contemporaries. I was sent off to other businesses for supplies or errands. I was a frequent visitor to the post office which at that time was on Man Street and also the bank where I would bring the pennies from our tavern’s peanut machine to be counted by the magical mechanical coin sorter. I can still hear the sound of that machine vibrating the coins down to the correct position to be rolled in dull colored paper rolls. Fascinating stuff when you are ten.

Most of the time, though I was a wanderer. An aimless kid passing the time by exploring that one block long section of Main Street between Wilson and Clark streets. My favorites haunts were the two hardware stores; Hix’s and Barnes & Brinkmeyer’s and of course, our dime store with its alluring displays of wonderful items and oh so much candy.

Hix Hardware

My parents were friends of the Hix’s. We spent time with their families and so I felt very at home in their store. I could always count on Lindsay for a teasing and welcoming smile. Ed, his brother, always seemed a bit more reserved but my family had lived close to his at one time and so they were also friends. A trip to Hix’s meant tight aisles filled with all kinds of items, some of which I understood and many of which were a complete mystery. In the front of the store they kept the household items and some toys. I spent most of my time up towards the front, but whenever Lindsay and Ed would get busy with a customer, I loved to sneak off and explore the rest of the store. In the back, it was dark with creaking floors and seemed like a big adventure to me. I liked to catch a glimpse of the back room where I was sure the best stuff must be hidden.

I felt less at home at Barnes & Brinkmeyer’s. They were not friends of my parents, did not attend the same church as us, and I had no context for them other than at their store. There was no banter or visiting to be done there. I don’t mean to imply they were not friendly but, as a child you don’t kid around with adults you don’t know. In that situation, invisibility is the goal. In addition, there were a lot more things that a clumsy child could break in their store, so caution was always on my mind. My trips to their store were a quiet affairs but no less loved than the ones I made to Hix’s. The store was very large and whereas the Hix store seemed to have everything crowded altogether, items here were much more separate making them easier to see. The north part of the building contained the hardware. Old wooden bins with nails and screws; all the stuff needed to build or repair just about anything. The floor creaked and squeaked and provided it’s own sense of adventure. The building smelled of old wood and metal.

Frankoma Pottery

The south side of the store was where the real magic happened for me. In this room were the beautiful Frankoma pottery pieces with their lovely glazes in blue, greens, browns and oranges. As I recall this room also had some toys to drool over but for me the draw was always the pottery. They don’t make this pottery anymore and I only own one piece; a small orange and brown pitcher with a chip but it stands on my shelf as a reminder of those days and the place where I think I first noticed the beauty of an object.

Dysart Main Street at Wilson: Hardware Store on the left center of photo Circa 1989-1907

By the time, I was at the height of my childhood in about 1968, the Barnes and Brinkmeyer building had been in continuous use as a hardware store for 77 years. The north portion of the building was built in 1891 by J. C. Walters. It was described in the local paper as being 94 feet deep with a 21 foot frontage and was “the first building in the town furnished with a handsome plate glass front.” It was two stories tall and sported an attached covered staircase on the exterior. It was designed for retail on the lower level and offices upstairs. According to newspaper accounts the upstairs has been used over the years for both business and residential purposes.

Originally from Cedar Falls, J. C. Walters first became a merchant in Dysart when he purchased the hardware business of Harrison and Freise in February of 1889. That business appears to have been housed in a small building at the corner of Wilson and Main, where the current building still stands. For a time, that building was moved to the middle of Wilson Street while the new building was built. It was then moved somewhere in town and served as a residence. At some point, Walters added the selling of implements to his hardware business.

In 1895, a 32 x 42 foot addition was added to the building. His brother-in-law, Mr. Beale, joined the business in 1896 and it was then known as J.C. Walters & Co. Hardware. In 1897, the paper noted that he was building a “big, fine home in town” for which he had red rock from Pipestone, Minnesota, shipped in for the foundation.

In the spring of 1900, the nearby town of Clutier was begun and J.C. built a second store there which was to be managed by his sons G.F. and Benjamin Walters. This building was described as a two story brick building next to the bank. That same summer, there was excitement in the Dysart store described in this article from the Traer Star Clipper:

August 31, 1900

In January of 1901, it was announced that J.C.’s sons, G.F. and Ben suddenly quit the store in Clutier and the stock from that store was sold to either John Parizek or Andy Ryan. The building was sold to John Horstman although a conflicting report shows it being sold to a Mr. Maine.

The Dysart store was expanded again in 1902 when an addition to the store room was added and remodeling of the upstairs was done to add two sleeping rooms and an office space for the Farmer’s Telephone exchange. Mr. Beale left the business in 1904. J.C. got out of the implement business, selling a half interest in this business to A.H. Schuhart of Pipestone, Minn., who along with his family moved to town and bought the Beale’s home. Another addition to the store was announced at that time as well as the addition of a cement sidewalk on the north side of the building.

In the late fall of 1904 it was announced that Mr. Walters had reached a deal to trade his store in Dysart for a farm in Minnesota. At that time, he was noted in the paper as having “done more for the improvement of Dysart than any other business man here. His extensive business interests require the attention of from five to seven clerks and they are always busy.” That deal fell through and then in January of 1905, J.C. sold one-half of the business to Arthur Schuhart.

In the summer of 1905, J.C. Walters sold his business in Dysart to his brothers, George and Harvey and the name was changed from J.C. Walters & Co. to Walters Hardware Company. A new corner entrance was added to the south building as well as a large plate glass window. After the change of ownership, the business started selling furniture in addition to hardware and implements.

J.C. & Mrs. Walters home

J.C. and his wife sold the property they owned in Dysart. The house pictured above was sold to Rudolph Cold. Two residential lots on Main Street near the park were sold to Charles Thiele. In 1907, J.C. purchased a fruit ranch in Covina, California, where they planned to grow walnuts, figs, peaches, pears, plums and oranges. This venture only lasted about two years. The family were regular visitors to Dysart throughout the 1910’s and appear to have divided their time between Covina, California; Pipestone, Minnesota; Cedar Falls, Iowa; and Dysart.


In the fall of 1909, the wheels were set in motion for the Walters brothers to sell their building and business to three young men; Eugene Braden, Ed. Heineman and Walter Schmidt. They took ownership on January 1, 1910. At this time, the store’s name changed again to B.H.S. Hardware Company. According to the Dysart Reporter all three men were well known in the community; Heineman and Schmidt having been reared there and Braden having worked at the Klemme Hardware store (located directly across the street from the Walter’s building where the current Dysart State Bank sits) for many years.

May 1914

This business appears to have been quite prosperous. This article from May of 1914, shows that not only did they sell hardware and furniture, they also served as a Ford dealer.

B.H.S Hardware Company Hosts Events on Saturday

“The free entertainment and smoker (according to Merriam-Webster “an informal gathering for men”) given by B.H.S. Hardware Co. on Saturday, May 23, was a great success. A man from the American Fence Factory gave a very interesting and instructive lecture about fencing and the theater was packed with interested men. That day, the hardware store sold 1,200 fence posts. The Ford exhibition was also very successful. Never before were so many Fords lined up together on Main Street. A little over 30 Fords are shown in the picture above. More than 40 men registered for picture. John Pippert Sr., John Pippert Jr., and George Stewart all purchased Fords that week. So far this year, B.H.S. has sold 23 Ford cars.”

Dyart Reporter May 1914

The three men operated the store together until Mr. Heineman’s death in January 1920. It was known after that as Braden and Smith Hardware.

Ed Heineman was born on December 13, 1886, in Monroe Township, Benton County, Iowa. He was the son of Mr. & Mrs. William Heineman. He received his education in Dysart High School and later the Tilford Academy in Vinton. In 1905, Ed, his mother and sisters moved into Dysart. He worked for Walters Hardware and Klemme Hardware before buying the hardware store with Braden and Schmidt. On May 20, 1919, he married Dorothy Murty in Webster City. The following January, the people of Dysart were shocked to learn that Mr. Heineman had committed suicide by hanging himself from the rafters in the upstairs room of the hardware store. His body was found by Mr. Braden and Ed Wurtzel after his wife requested they go and look for him as he had not arrived home after work. By all accounts he had shown no signs of depression. He was only 32 years old, recently married, had just purchased a home and was co-owner of a 270 acre farm near Mt. Auburn. He was a member of the Dysart Evangelical Church. He is buried in the Dysart Cemetery.

From 1920 to 1940, the store continued operations. In August of 1940, due to Mr. Schmidt’s declining health, Mr. Braden became the sole owner of the business thenceforth known as Braden Hardware.

C. Walter Schmidt was born April 16, 1883, in Waterloo. At some point he moved to Dysart along with his family and was raised there. He was married to Miss Elma Biexrud of Caledonia, Minnesota, on June 15, 1910. They had one son, Christian. C. Walter was an avid hunter and his trips to Minnesota and Canada for hunting trips were frequently documented in the Dysart Reporter. In addition to the hardware business, he was elected as a director of the Dysart National bank. Starting in about 1939, Mr. Schmidt’s decline in health was documented in the local paper including a February 1939 operation to remove his spleen and the amputation of his right arm in June 1940. He died in 1943 at his home after a lingering illness. He was a member of the Zion Lutheran and the Masonic Lodge. H was survived by his son and his brothers Frank H, Ed J. of Dysart and Chris R, of Red Lodge, Montana. He and his wife are buried in the Dysart Cemetery.

Due to poor health, Mr. Braden sold the two buildings to Howard Barnes on December 1, 1944.

Eugene Braden came to Dysart in 1900 and was employed at Klemme Hardware (located at the northwest corner of Main Street where the Dysart State Bank is located). He had been born on 8/16/1881 in Dows, Iowa. He was married to Ellen Redmond on June 19, 1907. The couple had seven children none of whom stayed in the Dysart area. He died in 1945 and at the time of his death he had been in the hardware business for 44 years, first in Dows and then Dysart. Mr. & Mrs. Braden are buried in the St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Dysart.

According to a news article in the Waterloo Courier on July 27, 2009, Howard Barnes was joined in the business by his son, Bill Barnes, after Bill completed his military service and schooling in about 1947. They operated the business together for ten years until Howard’s death in 1957.

Dysart Library

Kermit Brinkmeyer, Bill’s brother-in-law, took over Howard’s portion of the business in 1959. Together, they expanded the business to include appliances and on the advice of their wives, Margaret Brinkmeyer and Joan Barnes, added “things women use in the home” including the Frankoma. They expanded the walkway between the two buildings. Bill and Kermit retired and sold the building in 1994.

Between 1994 and 2006, the building was used by several different businesses and then starting in 2006, it was purchased by Deb Roettger who transformed it into the “Brick-a-Brack Building” which has served as a business incubator for several small businesses over the years. Deb’s Blacksmith Boutique where she welds old and rusty metal into highly sought after sculptures has been the constant through the years.

The old building looks much different now than it did in my childhood both inside and out but it has served the community well for almost 130 years. It is hard to imagine how many people have entered and existed the building in that time or how many friendly conversations have been had within its walls. Here’s wishing the building a long and useful future for the people of Dysart, Iowa.

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The News From Dysart & North Central Iowa Second & Third Week of May 1914

National News

Typhoid Serum for Militia

“Despite the fact that peace mediators have been holding up war moves for several weeks and may possibly continue to do so for several months longer, the war department at Washington is taking every precautionary measure in an effort to place troops on the Mexican border at once if necessary.

The department is sending out typhoid serum to the heads of the state militia all over the country with orders that every member of the militia be given the treatment. Every member of the Iowa militia will be given the typhoid treatment at once. Adjutant General Guy E. Logan has ordered a sufficient amount of serum to treat every one of the 3,300 Iowa militiamen. The serum will be sent out to each of the 54 companies of the state.

The typhoid treatment requires twenty days’ time and is said to make a person immune from the disease for a period of three years. Typhoid is one of the worst things the army has to deal with and as a result the war department is requiring every soldier to take the treatment. Des Moines surgeons will be sent to towns where local physicians are unable to administer the shots.

Progress in the Fight Against TB

Dr. Victor Vaughn, president-elect of the American Medical Association recently made the statement that since the tubercle bacillus was discovered in 1882, there has been a decrease in tuberculosis in the US of 54 percent. The improvements in Iowa are attributed to the intelligence of her citizens who recognize and utilize safe practices to decrease transmission. Improvements are also realized due to the state sanatorium at Oakdale (previously discussed here). The State Sanatorium has provided tremendous education and has dispersed throughout the state a number of trained workers in the area of prevention. The Oakdale Sanitorium is one of the leading faculties in the country for the treatment of tuberculosis.

State News

Taken from website for the Walcott Historical Society

Walcott, Iowa – Fame and Fortune

Walcott, which is located 12 miles west of Davenport, is famous. It has a population of 467; bank deposits totaling $1,287,000; has 101 homes; 87 high priced automobiles, and not a Ford in town; one saloon; pays no taxes as the saloon pays all; has no church; no lawsuits; and no criminals; and is surrounded by land worth from $200 to $250 per acre.”

Mrs. A.F. Acres Is Safe

In our last post, we reported that B.E. Ives of Cedar Falls was concerned about his sister, Mrs. A.F. Acres, who had not been heard from since the beginning of the Mexican War. “We’re safe on American soil at last”, comes her message from El Paso, Texas. The Acres who have lived in Torreon for the past twenty years were able to have a letter smuggled out of Mexico by a Spaniard who had been exiled by Poncho Villa before their escape from. Mexico. The Acres had amassed a significant fortune as a result of Mr. Acres business dealing in lumber and supplies. All of this was seized by the rebel forces and their villa which had been used as an arsenal was subsequently blown up as the rebels retreated the city.

New Motor Car Route Proposed – The Amana Short Route

Map drawn in 1964

“An enthusiastic meeting was held at Williamsburg in the interest of an auto road from Cedar Rapids to Ottumwa along the line of the Milwaukee (railroad). It is to be known as the Amana Short Route and will connect with the main line to the gulf at Milton.” The need for roads which could accommodate cars did not exist before about 1910. Ever wonder how the state went from wagon trails to dirt roads to what exists today? Check out this article from PBS.

Swedish American Immigrant Monument Munterville, Iowa

Swedish-American League Formed at Ottumwa

More than 200 persons of Swedish birth and decent formed a Swedish-American league at Ottumwa recently and opened their charter for the enrollment of all Swedish people and decedents of Swedes in the city. A huge picnic will be held by the league June 24 with noted Swedish speakers from Illinois and Minnesota.”

Lutherans Donate Portrait of Martin Luther to State of Iowa

“A portrait painting of Martin Luther, the gift of the 150,000 Lutherans in Iowa, was presented to the Iowa historical department with appropriate ceremonies Sunday afternoon. Chief Justice Scott M. Ladd presided and Governor Clarke accepted the portrait for the state. The Rev. Charles Voss, president of the Lutheran Pastor’s Association, made the presentation address.” The painting was done by Olof Frithiof Grafstrom and is in the State Historical Society’s possession.

Whiskey Seized In Ottumwa

The seizure at Ottumwa of 840 gallons of whisky consigned to a number of persons in Ottumwa is believed to be one of the biggest ever made in the state under the Webb-Kenyon law. The consignment consisted of seventy crates of three boxes each and two large moving vans were needed to move the liquor from the Burlington freight house to the court house.

Ten Year Jumps From Moving Train

Vera Mayfield, aged 10, of Fort Madison jumped from the K-line train running 30 miles per hour near Burlington. A passenger on the observation platform in the rear of the train saw the body lying beside the track and stopped the train. She was picked up for dead but on being conveyed to the hospital she recovered sufficiently to tell the nurse she became frightened and confused when she thought she was locked in the car. She had gone to Burlington to visit a little friend and was returning alone. By mistake she boarded an empty baggage car. After the train started, thinking someone had locked her in, she forced open a side door and sprang out. She was transported to the hospital where she survived her injuries.

Farm News

“Alfalfa On Every Farm and a Silo With Every Barn”

“The greatest campaign ever put on for the fostering of any single crop will be undertaken in Black Hawk County on June 4, 5 and 6. Alfalfa will be the crop considered.” In conjunction with the Crop Improvement Association from the Agricultural College at Ames, dozens of speakers will be present for four meetings in each township with additional meetings each evening in every city and town. This is planned as the first of many campaigns to be conducted throughout the state. Learn more about how alfalfa became the leading hay crop in Iowa here.

Local News


The Commercial Club of Dysart will offer a prize of $5.00 in gold to any person naming the best slogan as decided by the club at their first meeting in June. Slogan should be signed, sealed in an envelop and handed or mailed to the secretary not later than June 2nd. The envelops will be opened at the regular meeting of the club on Tuesday night, June 2nd and the prize awarded. This is a good chance for former Dysartites to show their interest in the welfare of their former home by picking out some good slogan for the use of the Commercial Club. If subscribers to the Reporter wish to send in a slogan with their subscription and offer a few words to the pubic we will see that the slogan is entered in the contest. After a slogan is chosen some booster buttons will be made and everyone in the vicinity will be advertising their Dysart spirit by wearing one of these buttons.

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned: The winning entry will be revealed in a few weeks.


The celebration of the fourth of July in connection with the opening day of the Chautauqua (previously discussed here) was heartily endorsed by the Commercial Club at their meeting. The chairman of the finance committee, Charles Creps (1880-1920), and Herman Schroder (1875-1941) were appointed by the club to see what could be done to finance the celebration. Some of the members at the meeting thought the money to pay for the celebration should be taken from the treasury without further subscriptions and others that there were enough businessmen and citizens outside of the Commercial Club who would be willing to donate for the celebration. The entertainment committee was also directed to get in touch with people to give street performances on the 4th free to the public. The national holiday will be filled with good entertainment for the multitude of people who will be in Dysart.

The Fourth of July Celebration in Dysart in 1914 would become one of the most dramatic days in the town’s history.

Stay tuned for details coming in July.

Summer Bank Concerts

Another discussion at the Commercial Club was the location of the band stand for the concerts this summer. The idea of having the concerts in the park was raised and the discussion followed. Last summer there was not room enough on the main business block for all the cars and this year there will be a great many more cars parked in front of the stores. Last year this proved a great inconvenience to the people bringing in produce and buying groceries. The discussion was closed by the club deciding to have the band stand located in the center of the block south of the main business block. The block is longer than the other and with the electroliers lighted there will be plenty of light and the cars can park on both sides of the street. The idea will be tried out and it is hoped that win that same day. Dysart would eventually add a band stand to the city park but this did not happen until after 1916.

Electrical Service Hours Expanded

The Chairman of the Electric Light Committee has announced that electric light service will be furnished from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. except on Sunday when the plant will be started as soon in the evening as necessary for light. Mr. Sackett, who has been working for the town for several weeks, has been hired at $90 per month as engineer and electrician.

Fred Luze Badly Injured

Fred Luze (1888-1937) was quite badly injured last Friday when his team ran away and trampled on him. The team was hitched to a buggy and he had gone in the house and left a little girl to watch the team. The wind waved the girl’s apron and the team became frightened. Fred was on the porch and caught one of the horses but he was knocked down and one of the horses stepped on his side. No other damage was done but Fred was pretty badly hurt. He received a bad bruise on his head and two ribs were broken. He is able to be around now. Henry Luze (1891-1917) did his work for him while he was unable to be around.

Generic photo of a popcorn wagon

E.E Yarrington has rented the Lena Kersten house and his family expects to move here from LaPorte in a few weeks. He is running the peanut and popcorn wagon here.

The B.H.S. Hardware Co. sold and delivered five Ford cars last week to Nick Jurgens, Will Robbins, George Lamprecht, Ed Gleim and Dave Wilson. They have sold fourteen cars so far this season.


Likely 53rd Regiment Band from Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids Business Men Coming

The wholesalers, jobbers, manufacturers, bankers and other businessmen of the Cedar Rapids Commercial Club will be in Dysart on Friday, May 27th. They will call upon the businessmen of this city interested in their respective lines of business and hope to find our businessmen at their places of business during the time of the visit. These booster trips are for the purpose of forming a better acquaintance and understanding between the jobbing houses and manufacturers and other institutions and their customers throughout the state, and the history of past excursions proves that great benefits result from these trips. The train will bring to our city about 100 representatives of Cedar Rapids’ instituations, including the 53rd Regiment Band, which will furnish music during their stay with us. Cedar Rapids was one of the first cities in Iowa to make these trips and have been conducting them successfully for over 16 years.

McDevitt and Smythe Sell

McDevitt and Smythe, who have been running a general store here for the past sevearl months (actually only since February), sold out Monday to Mr. McDonald, of Adair, Iowa. The stores has been closed all week and the stock has been invoiced. It is understood that Mr. McDonald is shipping the stock out and wishes to sell the fixtures. Mr. McDevitt expects to again take up salesmanship on the road. Mr. Smythe has not yet decided just what he will do. Mr. Smythe is selling all new household goods for fifty cents on the dollar including furniture, a stove, rugs, curtains, driving horse, buggy and harness.

Church News

Statement of Committee First Evangelical Church

In view of the rumors which have been in circulation about our pastor, Rev. H.O. Lorenz (pastor from 1911-1915), we wish to make this public statement, “We have traced these rumors to their sources and failed to find any evidence to prove them.

Entertainment News

British Movie Poster

The Star of Bethlehem, Thanhouser’s 3 reel feature, will be shown at the Electric Theater Friday evening, May 15. This is a masterpiece in motion pictures. Prices 10 and 20 cents. The Electric Theater was opened in January of 1913 by Herman Jessen and William Clemann of Gladbrook in the Sorrell building which had formerly been a bowling alley.

School News

Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm near Ames

Summer School at Ames

“For the six weeks from June 15th to July 24th, the entire equipment of Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts at Ames will be turned over to the public school teachers of Iowa who want to fit themselves to teach agriculture, home economics and manual training. The state board of education will grant free tuition for the term. The instruction offered is planned especially to help teachers meet the requirements of the new state law which says that agriculture, home economics and manual training must be taught in all public schools after July 1st, 1915. Grade and rural teachers who come to Ames for vocational work will also be given opportunity for preparation in other common school and first grade certificate subjects. Special instructors having been secured for the purpose. To help the teaching of methods, model school rooms will be maintained, with teachers and pupils and full equipment. The director of the summer session, Professor G.M. Wilson, will send a complete catalog of the summer season on request.


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The News From Tama County & North Central Iowa – First Week of May 1914

National News

War in Mexico Impacts Iowa Citizens

As reported last week, the United States has invaded Mexico, and already the effects of that decision are being felt here at home. George Dain, a Traer boy, who has been stationed in Cuba, came back recently on a furlough. He was visiting his mother in Bellevue, Iowa, when he received a telegram from the war department calling him to Mexico to take a hand in the trouble down there.

B. S. Ives, of Cedar Ralls, is much concerned over the fate of his sister, Mrs. A. F. Acres. She and her husband live in Torreon, Mexico. For more than a month, he has not heard from her and there is no means of communication with Torreon. The telegraph service has been at a standstill there since Poncho Villa captured the city.

Cedar Rapids has gotten a new Company of the 53rd Regiment Iowa National Guard. The company will begin training immediately to be in readiness for the war with Mexico. Other towns vying for the company were Dubuque and Manchester.

Mexican employees in the cement plants in Mason City are said to have almost to a man asked for their paychecks and headed for Mexico to join Huerta to fight against the invaders. Some of them are buying tickets but others are beating their way southward, where they expect to sneak through the American lines. At the same time, many Greeks and Montengrins are offering their services to the United States. Many of these have seen service in the Balkan war and are well trained.

Skunk Fur Coat

Skunk Farming

A.C. MacFarlane tells the St. Louis Weekly Globe that he has determined he can make more money using his ten acres of land for raising skunks than a thousand acres growing cotton. Ten acres gives him room for the raising and care of 2,000 pole cats. Although it would be expected that his neighbors would vigorously protest, Mr. MacFarlane has perfected a method for removing the musk bags. The skins range in value between $1.50 and $8.00. These skins are sold under the name Russian Sable or Alaskan Sable and according to Mr. MacFarlane, “Many a wearer of beautiful Russian Sable furs does so in profound ignorance of the fact that Russian Sable is only another way of saying skunk.”

Iowa farmers are also exploring skunk farming on their properties. In 1914, a new skunk farm was planned for Lovilla in Monroe County. A farm called “Skunk Hollow” was begun in Atlantic by F.M. Neebe and in Emmet County, Mr. Ferguson also started a ranch. One of the more successful skunk farmers appears to be the father and son team of Paul and Albert Bobst near Iowa Falls, in Franklin County.

State News

Crystal Ice & Fuel Co. Waterloo Iowa

Fire, believed of incendiary origin, destroyed the hay storage barns of the Crystal Ice and Fuel company in Waterloo, consuming 4,500 tons of ice and causing a loss to the buildings of $2,000. An investigation is being made.

A Terrible Sight

People at train stations and in fields who witnessed the North-Western train as it traveled between Mt. Vernon and Boone were subjected to a gruesome sight recently. After the train struck a horse on the tracks the animal became wedged so tightly into the engine pilot that it could not be removed without the use of a dredge. Therefore the poor creature traveled 150 miles for all to see.

Salaries Revealed

The salaries for the presidents of the state university and the state teacher’s college were recently released. The President of the University of Iowa will be paid $144 a week or $7500 per year while the President of the State Teacher’s College will be paid $6,000 per year.

Melon Farming

This postcard is currently available on ebay.com

A thousand acres in the vicinity of Fredonia, in Louisa county, will be planted in melons this year, the new acreage being south and east of the town and will be in addition to the large acreage north of the town where the farmers have been engaged extensively for a number of years in melon culture. The acreage near Fredonia this year will be almost equal to that at Conesville or Muscatine Island.

Button, Button, Iowa’s Got The Buttons!

Seventeen and eight-tenths of the buttons manufactured in the entire United States are made in Iowa.

Local News

Traer Fair Grounds To Be Sold

The directors of the Traer Fair Grounds have voted to turn the property over to the city of Traer to help fund their new library and ladies federation. The twenty-four acre area formerly used by the agricultural fair has not been used for several years. It had been hoped that the agricultural society would reorganize but that does not appear to be a possibility. It is now felt that the proceeds should be used for some community good. It is felt that the library, rest room and social center provide that opportunity. It is anticipated that the land will yield $200.00 per acre.

Traer Marshal Resigns

“Marshal David Ward Jr. no longer wears the star.” Tuesday evening the mayor was walking down the street and saw a small bunch of men who usually imbibe booze when they get together and observed that they appeared to be drunk. He sought the marshal and told him to arrest two of the three of them. The officer refused, claiming the men were going home, and said he would resign rather than do it. The mayor stated he would have to quit if he would not comply with the order. “The marshal turned over his shooter and star and immediately became a private citizen after a month or so of official life. The mayor then sought Will Scott and offered him the appointment and Scott immediately accepted. “The boozers escaped a healthy fine. The lid is on.”

News of Dysart’s Developing Commercial Club Spreads Through the State

“Dysart has a new commercial club. And here again are a lot of people banded together who know what they want what their town wants, and whet can possibly be gotten for them. And so they are not trying to move the capital of the United States to Dysart, but are content to do the things that are feasible and practical. They propose to give Dysart a Chautauqua, to arrange for band music and baseball and to have the streets oiled. It is in thus doing for their town that they will get results. Of course, they would get more publicity if they started out to capture the south pole and the north pole, but if they got them both, of what possible benefit would that be to Dysart? Working along in a practical way, for the benefit of their town, the members of the organization will never be at a loss for things to do that are feasible and that will eventually prove profitable.” Burlington Hawk-Eye.

Crime Watch

Man Arrested For Selling Acid Proof Ink And Escaping

Toledo, Iowa: Jack Low was recently arrested after making his way through small local towns of Lipscomb, Ellsworth, Union, Gladbrook and Marshalltown selling “acid proof ink”. Marshal Schodt received notice from Marshalltown that Low was in the area visiting friends and made the arrest. The Marshal took Low to the State Bank to await the arrival of the Marshalltown officials and Low, “looked into the dark and distant future and could see things that looked quite unpleasant to him, so he took up the street north and disappeared into the darkness at a speed that would drive a jackrabbit to shame.” He was captured a few hours later by a posse of town boys led by Marshal Schodt. After his second capture, Marshal Schodt placed him in chains and kept him in the bank until he was turned over to the Sheriff. Sheriff Edgar and Deputy Sheriff Goodale took the prisoner to Marshalltown in an auto where he was changed with obtaining money by false pretenses. The complaint was filed by S. Dickerson, cashier of the Liscomb State Bank, who bought $2.00 worth of the “acid proof ink”. The ink having been claimed by Low to be erasable which has proved to not be true. J. W. Nuzum of Toledo posted a $200 bond and unfortunately when his trial began on Monday, Low was nowhere to be found. He was spotted walking between Gladbrook and Garwin that same day.


A.C. Ryan has made plans for the erection of a large implement house for Dysart and Lou Fuoss is looking forward to its erection with a certainty. The railroad company has not yet made the lease of the ground, but will in time. The plans are for a steel building about 42 x 100 feet across the track from the east of the freight depot. A smaller building will be erected to be used for an office. Part of the material for the building has already been shipped.

Entertainment News


Poluhni, the Mystic, showed in Gladbrook four years ago, two nights to well filled houses. HIs mind-reading, his street drives, his organ chimes, his Swiss Bell Ringers, etc. will all be remembered as first class. His show is one that can come back to the Opera House, May 8th and 9th.


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The Twentieth Century Shining Parlor

New Business Sparks Protests in Des Moines and Omaha

April 8, 1914 Des Moines Tribune

With the advertisement above, as well as a short article which appeared the same day in the Des Moines Register, the people of Des Moines were informed that a new business was coming to town. It did not take long for a firestorm of words and threatened action to follow. The Register informed the populous that the shoe shining parlor would be managed by a girl and employ girl “shiners” exclusively. The shop was to be opened at 421 West Locust Street (at the corner with Fifth) with the proprietors being listed as Alber and Fenberg who were already conducting a similar business in Omaha, Nebraska.

The building at 421 West Locust Street had been advertised as in use since at least 1895 and over the years was home to several businesses. It had been used to sell clothing, gas fixtures, cash registers, woolen goods, and vacuum cleaners. In 1913 it was listed as for rent in the local paper for several month but also seems to have been used as a place to display cars.

Within two days of opening the police were receiving complaints from citizens. A headline in the Des Moines Tribune on April 10, read “Shoe Shining Shop Operated by Girls Calls Out Protest. Police, However, Say Law Probably Will Not Permit Them to Interfere.”

Shoe Shine Parlor in Buffalo New York

The article stated that the shop, staffed by “fifteen white girls”, who were said to have been sent from Omaha by the owner of a similar parlor there had started a storm of protests pouring into police headquarters from citizens claiming that it was altogether improper for a young woman to enter the field of the bootblack business. They called upon the Chief of Police, Ed Crawford, to close the parlor at once. The Chief stated that he likely would not be able to accommodate these requests as the parlor was not illegal and as long as the business was properly conducted, he was without options.

Members of the Des Moines Women’s Club from the iowaheritage.org

“A club woman called me last night,” Crawford stated. “She thought it was a horrible thing to allow girls to enter into such a business and I told her that I agreed with her sentiments and would see what could be done. ” A rumor was started that the club women of Des Moines would work to close the parlor down however Mrs. F. W. Webster, president of the Federated Women’s Clubs of the city denied this. “This matter has not been brought to my notice,” said Mrs. Webster, “and all the adverse criticism that I have heard has been in the newspapers. I think it is a matter for the police to attend to. If it proves an objectionable feature it should, of course be abolished. If it is simply a group of girls trying to make a living, the police should protect them.”

Omaha Daily News April 16, 1914

The introduction of the Twentieth Century Shining Parlor at 318 S. 15th Street in Omaha in February of 1914, reportedly drew the same types of concerns as it did in Des Moines two months later. According to the Omaha Daily News on February 8, 1914, over 800 men patronized the shop in the first day. One of the proprietors, M. Fenberg, admitted some 800 timid men ventured into his establishment between 11 o’clock when the doors opened and 6 o’clock in the evening. This location boasted fifteen “American-born white girls” who trained for a month before opening the shop. It also boasted that a woman served as manager.

The parlor featured a piano and live music. The Daily News described the experience this way:

When entering the shop, the patron was given a number up to fifteen, “a girl cashier sitting near the door calls (your number), smiles sweetly and directs you to one of the chairs. The bootblack whose number has just been called responds, also with a smile, goes to your chair and without further preliminary starts in making your shoes appear like new. Of course, the smile may be only perfunctory and not a necessary feature, but is seldom overlooked.”

“Although there are no regulations of the shop which the “trade” (patron) must observe someone feels that when a gentle female hand bumps against his pet corn it is decidedly bad form to say what he usually does on such occasions or kick the offending bootblack on the chin by way of caution to be more careful. “

“When your shoes are polished to the satisfaction of the bootblack, she stands at attention while you dig into your pockets for a nickel. Of course, if it is your usual custom at this stage of the process of having your shoes shines to tip the bootblack, the extra coin will not be refused. Over $15 in tips were meted out to the girl bootblacks yesterday.”

One of the girls who was interviewed stated that at first she thought she would never get used to the polish on her hands but admitted that at $15 per week in pay, it “looks too good to me to think of anything else, not to mention the tips.” The proprietor, Fenberg, stated two shifts were employed so that no one person would work more than eight hours in a day.

Mr. E.O. M’Intosh (McIntosh) who appears to have been a prolific “letter to the editor” writer stated his opinion about girls doing this line of work. His comments in writing reflect the sentiments of the time about the roles that were appropriate according to gender, race and age. Historically, the job of shoe shiner had been done by people of color, young boys and Greek immigrants many of whom were recruited to America to perform this job and became indentured servants in the process. His letter prompted this response from one of the employees of the Omaha location.

Letter to the Editor from one of the Bootblackers Omaha Daily Bee February 27, 1914

In April of 1914, the Omaha City Commission ordered the parlor to remove the piano as the noise had been declared a nuisance. No orders were given the shut the parlor down, however.

Too Many Loafers

Meanwhile, back in Des Moines, it became clear that the objections to the Twentieth Century Shining Parlor had more to do with the men who were hanging around the business than the girls who were working inside. The Register reported, “The greater part of the adverse criticism that has come from the citizen in regard to the parlor is the result of the large crowds of loafers that loitered about the place (on opening day), smoking cigarettes, chewing and ofttimes entirely blocking passage on the sidewalk in front of the building. A piano going on the inside evidently attracted the loafers and they made it their headquarters during most of the day.”

The Police Judge, Utterback, made it clear that personally he would like to see the business closed as it “had a destructive moral effect upon the city” but would close the business only if it was legally warranted.

Within a week, the Chief of Police was reporting that he had received no adcditional complaints about the shop and the number of men who were loitering in front of the shop had dwindled significantly. While things settled down for the employees in Des Moines, the girls in Omaha continued to face undue scrutiny and abuse as evidenced by this Letter to the Editor.

Omaha Daily News May 15, 1914

By the middle of June, 1914, the shop in Des Moines was closed after only three months in business. The Des Moines Tribune on June 23, 1914, announced the closure. “The Twentieth Century Shining Parlor managed by Miss Ethel Alber of 100 West Second Street, yesterday morning closed its doors. The girls employed were all from Omaha and left for that city last night to work at that location.” Inability to pay expenses was given as the reason for the suspension of the business. By the time of the closure, only six girls remained in their employment.

The fate of the Omaha shop is unknown. By 1917 the building was being used for another venture and so one can assume they too were out of business at least by then. Internet searches did not help to clarify the identify of M. Fenberg, Ethel Alber or the names of any of the women who were pioneers in the long process of helping women find new roles in a society that was largely closed to them.

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The News From Dysart and North Central Iowa – Second & Third Week of March 1914

Editor’s Note: The primary reason why I have been using 1914 as the launching spot for telling stories about my hometown and Iowa is because the events of that year and years on either side of 1914 are so rich with an underlying tone of a rapidly changing world. From my vantage point in the 21st century, I have the benefit of seeing how these changes effected the future world. Back then they could not have known the impact that their changing way of life and thinking would create. They must of sensed it, however.

People in 1914 seem to be living in two different worlds at the same time. Horses and buggies are occupying the road right along with an increasing number of cars and trucks. Towns are adding an electrical grid while many people are still living without it. The train station, which was the primary reason the town was formed, remains very busy while there is increasing motorcar travel and the not to distant promise of commercial airplanes being developed. The men and women who were the first to move into Dysart in the late 1880s are starting to pass away. The people in 1914 also seem to be restless. Neighbors are switching farms, businesses are changing hands, Iowans are buying lands in less tame parts of the US and Canada. People are traveling to see relatives who they perceive as experiencing a better life somewhere else and others are returning to native lands in Europe. All of these are movements are noted in the local papers.

There is a clear dichotomy between what white people are experiencing in small town Iowa and what the aboriginal peoples experience. Native peoples of this country are struggling to adjust to a world that is both adversarial and paternally condescending. Through the lens of the world we live in now, you can feel that struggle and it is painful to read. At the same time, I find myself cheering their efforts as if there is a chance that it is going to turn out better for them than it has.

For those who are staying put, small town papers are filled with expressions of great hope that their town is on the verge of growing into something bigger; bringing prosperity in it’s wake. All manner of societies for the betterment of the individual and their communities are being formed. Commercial Clubs are sprouting up and growing in the region. Throughout the papers of the time, there is a strong sense of civic pride and commitment to help these little fledglings to grow.

In reading the newspapers of 1914, there is a lot of emphasis on learning. The papers are full of opportunities for people to experience things beyond what they already know. These offerings range from practical knowledge like better agricultural practices to much more cerebral ventures. The religious organizations in the area are hosting trainings and classes of all kinds. Education is clearly not just for the children in the schools although the towns are committed to providing better buildings and offerings for the children.

The lyceum movement is well known to the people of Iowa by this time. Since the mid-1800’s hundreds of these informal associations have been organizing programs designed to improve the social, intellectual, and moral fabric of society. Lectures, dramatic performances, class instructions, and debates, by noted lecturers, entertainers and readers travel the “lyceum circuit,” going from town to town or state to state to entertain, speak, or debate in a variety of locations, never staying in one place for too long. For the most part, these appearances were open to the public and sponsored by various organizations.

This year, 1914, Dysart will join the growing number of communities who will host a Chautauqua. Popularized in the late 1800’s, a circuit Chautauqua was a program of speakers and entertainment organized by a for profit venture to bring a set program to communities. The speakers and entertainers were booked by the agency who provided assistance with the details and advertising . They traveled a circuit bringing their program to a community for a set period of time, generally a week. The shows were usually held in a traveling tent set up in an town. Lectures were the foundation of these shows.

Booking a Chautauqua for a town is seen as another step in community development and the people of Dysart, like many other small towns across Iowa are ready to embrace it.

goodpasture farm – carrie koster

Dysart Added to the Chautauqua Schedule For The Summer

 Traveling Culture: Circuit Chautauqua in the Twentieth Century (a part of the Library of Congress American Memories Project)

Chautauqua Assured For Dysart

More Than 20 Business Men Back of Proposition

“A number of the business men of Dysart have made another push toward progressiveness and have backed up the proposition to have a Chautauqua here this summer.” E.W. Carson, of Perry, Ia., came here Tuesday and talked the thing to a number of the fellows and the Chautauqua is now an assured fact. Mr. Carson is working for the Jones Chautauqua, Perry, Iowa, and they have a good line of talent. Gladbrook will be hosting the same Chautauqua this year. This is all scheduled for the week of July 4. There will be six days of entertainment and the talent is assured first class. Such men as Dr. Frank E. Day, Westworth F. Stewart, Comfort A. Tyler, Edgar S. Kindley, Hon. Seaborn Wright and Bob Lilley will be the lecturers and they are a platform of men who are widely known. There will be afternoon and evening entertainment each day, making twelve programs and the season tickets will be sold for $1.50 making, 12 1/2 cents for each number.

A good many of our people have been attending the Traer Chautauqua in seasons past and for that reason inquiry was made as to the dates for their program this summer before the dates were set for the Dysart program so as to not have the two conflict and to give Dysart people a chance to visit the Chautauqua at Traer and Traer people a chance to come to Dysart. It was learned that the dates have not yet been set for the Traer Chautauqua.

US Stamp issued in 1974

A number of the men who were consulted in this matter and asked to back up the proposition stated that they thought for some time that it was funny that so many of the small towns were putting on summer Chautauqua and Dysart was not in the game. Dysart is waking up and has been for some time and in a short time we want to and will see the business men formed into an association for the betterment of Dysart. Twenty men signed the contract for the Chautauqua but the thing is not stopping there. That list is being circulated and the name of every wide awake citizen of Dysart is wanted on it. Some time soon an effort will be made to have these men and all others interested in the progress of the town meet and organize so as to be able to push this Chautauqua systematically and to handle several other propositions that came up for the town such as band concerts, celebrations, etc. According to the signs already shown there is a lot of booster spirit in Dysart and now is the time to make it count. Dysart Reporter March 19, 1914

To learn more about Chautauqua in Iowa see:





Citizen’s Caucus

“A citizen’s caucus was held at the town hall last Friday evening and a full city ticket was nominated as follows: Mayor A. Sewall; Councilmen H.P. Jensen, John Messer, C.A. Keidel, O. B. Reed, L. Myers: treasurer, Ervin Moeller, Assessor, F.F. Trottnow. This is the Citizen’s Ticket. A petition was filed last week for the People’s ticket. The names on this petition are those of the present city officials but with E.E. Wieben for mayor and Dr. J.P. Redmond for councilmen. There will be a good bit of interest manifest in this coming election which will be held on Monday, March 30th. Dysart Reporter – March 13, 1914.

Editor’s Note: Apparently Dr. Redmond’s recent notoriety and lack of support from his fellow citizens did not dissuade him from remaining in the public eye.

See last week’s post

Telephone Directory to be Published

The manager of the Farmer’s Mutual Telephone Company, A.K. Zalesky, is working on the new telephone directory. Citizens are being told if they are thinking of putting a telephone into their home or business, now is the time. In a week or two it will be too late to get their name in the directory. Limited advertising space is also available so it’s important to act quickly.

Catholic Cemetery Association Holds Fundraiser

The ladies of the Catholic Cemetery Association are planning a bazaar on the evening of March 17th at the Dysart Opera House, followed by a dance. Refreshments will be served. All monies raised will go to the cemetery fund.

School News

Professor Sanders at the High School reports that the little bronze statue of Lincoln in the upstairs hall has been causing a great deal of trouble lately. He has promised a surprise to the next one found meddling with it.


Dysart Reporter March 12, 1914

Strickland Gillilan was a journalist, author, poet, humorist and speaker. His writings ranged from the satirical to the sublime. He was one of the more popular authors and speakers of his time. He attended Ohio University and started his career as a journalist then became an editor and writer. for such publications as the Washington Post. His poems are well remembered and reprinted today, often in greeting cards. He was a very popular lyceum lecturer and after dinner speaker beginning in 1899. He was often featured in the Saturday Evening Post.

Often reprinted poem by Strickland Gillilan

“Ben-Hur” will be offered at Greene’s Opera House in Cedar Rapids for three nights and a Saturday matinee starting on March 19. The production opened in 1899 in New York City and traveled the country until 1920. The stage production was elaborate and included using live horses for the chariot race. The drama was presented in 6 acts with live music. By the end of its run it had been seen by more than twenty million people and earned over $10 million at the box office. There have been several other adaptations of the novel including the legendary movie starring Charlton Heston.

For more information see:



Baseball Pictures

Giants versus Athletics Worlds 1913 Championship Series will be shown on the movie screen Saturday night, March 14. The first show will be over in time for the entertainment at the opera house.


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Special Edition: Red Fox James

Travels Through Iowa

Seeks Recognition of Native Peoples

Editor’s Note: The language used in this posting are quotes from that time.

Red Fox James at the White House in 1915

In February and March of 1914, papers across the nation including the LeGrand Reporter and the Traer Star Clipper ran the following syndicated article:

LeGrand Reporter February 27, 1914

Rev. Red Fox James PH D. D. D., also known as Red Fox Skiuhushu, was of Native American decent. His mother was likely from the Blackfoot tribe, his father was Welch. His mother may have been from the Blood Tribe. Depending on what source you read, he was born sometime between 1884 and 1890, likely on the Blood Indian Reserve in Alberta, Canada. He was born Francis Fox James and later as an adult changed his name to Red Fox James. Like Chief Red Fox who has previously been profiled on this blog, James Red Fox, https://goodpasturefarm.com/2022/01/23/the-news-from-dysart-third-week-of-january-1914/ he was educated at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. According to one writer, he was also known as Reverend St. James, Francis Fox James, Rev. Barnabas Skiuhushu, and the Rev. Dr. Barnabas, Ph.D., Arch-Herio Monk.

In March of 1914, when he was about 25, he along with Mortimer Dreamer a.k.a. Sitting Eagle, left Leavenworth where they had been residing reportedly so that Dreamer could get medical treatment and went to the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana. Records indicate they left Billings on March 31 carrying a letter from the governor of that state which they intended to deliver to President Wilson in Washington D.C. Although the news release above misses the point, the mission had two goals. While it is true that one of the goals was to advocate for completion of the Lincoln Highway (U.S.30) which was the first transcontinental highway in the United States. More importantly for Red Fox James was to advocate with governors along the route and then with Wilson for a new national holiday which he referred to as “Indian Day”. Red Fox James was also an ardent supporter of the YMCA, advocating for government support of these organizations on the reservations, citizenship for native peoples and also woman’s rights, especially the right to vote.

Marshalltown Evening Reporter July 19,

James and Sitting Eagle slowly made their way across the United States following the Lincoln Highway. They sent word ahead of their impending arrival and commercial clubs as well as schools and other organizations set up events where James would speak and present a 50 slide picture show of Native American customs. He also provided equestrian demonstrations. His partner would portray the cowboy image of the West including trick riding and roping. Newspapers chronicled their journey as they made his way across the country.

James Red Fox performing an demonstration on his journey to the White House

We pick up their journey through Iowa on July 2, 1914, when the Missouri Valley Times provided an update. Due to Dreamer’s illness, by the time they entered Iowa, Sitting Eagle had been replaced by Charles Benedict. Benedict served as pilot. He was a cowboy from the Big Horn area and provided trick riding and roping.

Several state newspapers recorded these events. For a modern day reader these can be difficult to read as they reinforce stereotypes and are condescending in nature but they provide a picture of both Mr. James and also people’s attitudes about aboriginal people during that era. We found reports from the following towns, although there are likely many more:

Missouri Valley



Cedar Rapids




Des Moines

State Center






Some of the reports are very short but others like this one from State Center are more expansive. In Jefferson, Iowa, James complained to the editor of the newspaper that his visit was poorly received and questioned if this was due to him being a native American. The editor fired back at him in an editorial which defended the people there with being busy attending to their own affairs out of necessity and for no other reason.

Different writers have contradictory reports of his visits to the White House. The White House Historical Association’s Facebook page says that on December 17, 1914, he was introduced to President Wilson by Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana and presented him with a petition signed by 24 governors and mayors for the establishment of October 12th as “Indian Day” where he was quoted as saying, “The American Indian deserves the national consideration of the people of the United States”. According to the same source he returned to the White House again in February 1915 to advocate for the citizenship of native peoples which did not occur until 1924.

Although no federal response occurred as a result of his trip, a few states subsequently created their own versions of American Indian day, the first being New York, which began officially celebrating American Indian Day in 1916. Illinois followed in 1919. In 2009, Congress passed and the President signed legislation that established the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving Day of each year as “Native American Heritage Day.” Last year, on October 8, 2021, the president signed a presidential proclamation declaring October 11, 2021, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, formally recognizing this as a national holiday.

Shortly after his 1914 trip to Washington, James organized the first Indian Boy Scout troop in America at the United States Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In 1915, he became an ordained minister. In 1923 he was appointed superintendent of a new “Indian School” in Minneapolis with children coming from surrounding states to attend. His life course after this date is obscured in history but his legacy is still felt.

Red Fox James at the White House in 1915 with pennants collected from his journey

For more information, may we suggest:





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The News From Dysart and North Central Iowa – Last Week of February 1914

Awful Tragedy in Clutier

“Clutier had her periodical tragedy Saturday night – the most appalling of all”

Traer Star Clipper February 27, 1914

Reports have been received of the tragic events which occurred on Saturday, February 21, in Clutier. It was reported that two young men who had apparently been drinking got into an altercation at the Corwin Restaurant. In an effort to preserve order, the marshal Tom Weaver arrested one of the men, Charlie Krezek, at about 10 p.m. Krezek and three companions had come to Clutier from Traer about 4 p.m. Saturday to take in a dance. They arrived early in the evening but Krezek had not been at the dance when arrested. The marshal locked him up in the town jail for the night as a dance was in progress at the Bohemian Hall. Presumably the marshal was needed at that location also.

Clutier Train Station

At 11:40 p.m. when the night passenger train arrived, several young men from Traer including Ray McNeal, John Andrews, Louis Caslavka, Wayne Evans and a Mr. Fillersich who were on their way to the dance discovered the jail on fire as it is near the depot. About this time other parties from up town learned of the blaze. All set to work in an effort to rescue Krezek who was fast becoming engulfed in flames. By the use of a timber the front door was battered down, but this did not liberate the poisoner. There were two rooms in the jail and he was in the second, behind a door of iron bars which opened outward. In vain did the crowd labor in every effort to batter away this door. In a sad twist of fate, it is reported that Charlie recognized the boys who had come to his aide and they recognized him. He begged them for help in escaping and by all accounts they did all that they could do to help him.

Marshal Weaver had been summoned in the meantime but when he arrived the flames were shooting through the barred door and he was unable to unlock it. Several attempts were made to break in through the barred window on the north side of the building without success. The fire company was called out and as the village has a good waterworks system water was soon playing upon the flames and the frame of the building was saved although the inside was badly gutted.

As soon as the heat had subsided so that it was possible to unlock the door Frank Roubicek rushed in and carried out the body of Charlies Krezek. Roubicek was overcome with smoke himself and a doctor was summoned to care for him. Krezek had doubtless died of smoke inhalation before the fire reached him. The body was taken to the undertaker’s until Dr. Redmond could arrive on Sunday morning.

In April of 1914, Joe Seda of Traer, was awarded a contract to build a new cement block, fireproof, jail in Clutier. This building still stands today.

Several erroneous reports circulated after the event. There seems to be nothing in the story that the marshal could not find the key to the door or that there was a fire in the stove. The blaze started in the room where the poisoner was while the stove was in the first rom. All the evidence indicates that Krezek started the blaze by setting fire to the mattress. It is supposed his idea was to start a fire and call to people upon the street and thus be liberated as he had done this on a previous occasion. He had set fire in a jail in the past and had been able to escape with another poisoner. At that time he was rescued unhurt and fined $25.00.

On Monday, the 23rd, Dr. Redmond, of Dysart, the county coroner, empaneled a jury and held an inquest. The jurors were Ferdinand Mundt, W.M. Kokesh, and J.F. Kubaleck. A dozen men were called to testify, several being Traer fellows. The jury’s verdict was as follows: “we find that said deceased came to his death on February 21st between 10 and 12 o’clock at Clutier, Iowa, by being burned, said fire was in our opinion, caused by deceased. We do further find that he did not come to his death feloniously and that a crime has not been committed on deceased”

The young man whose death thus came so tragically is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Mike Krezek, one of the old residents and well to do citizens of the Clutier neighborhood. He was 24 years of age. He has been employed by various farmers in late years. Since Christmas he has been working at Will Whitmore’s four miles northeast of Traer.

Editor’s Note: I was not able to locate the exact cemetery that Charlie is buried in. This is a view from a rural cemetery in Tama County between Clutier and Toledo.

The deceased is survived by his aged parents, four brothers and five sisters. One brother, John, lives in Utah and he and his wife were notified and arrived in time for the funeral which was held Wednesday the 25th, forenoon at the home in Clutier. Father Broz of the St. Francis church west of town was the officiant. There was a large attendance of sympathizing friends, whose floral offerings were liberal and beautiful. The body was too badly burned to be shown. Burial was in the cemetery at the St. Francis church.

Clutier, Iowa

Clutier was founded in 1900 by a railroad promotor named William E. Brice. The town is named after Mr. Brice’s sister and brother-in-law, Bertram and Maude Clutier. It was primarily a Czech settlement. It is home to the last remaining lodge building in Iowa tied to the original Western Bohemian Fraternal Association and is shown in the photo above.

Tama County economic development commission

Farmer’s Fair organized in Cedar Falls

The Commercial Club of Cedar Falls has voted to organize the Cedar Valley District Fair Association which includes memberships from nine nearby counties. Efforts had been made to join this group with the Dairy Cattle Congress but this met with great resistance from the people of Waterloo. Subscriptions are being sold to fund the organization and sixty acres of land have been purchased near the Iowa State Teacher’s College.

Traer Star Clipper – August 27, 1915

Business News

McDevitt & Smythe’s Big Sale

Saturday morning the Meggers Co. Store will open for business under the new firm of McDevitt & Smythe. The store has been closed for the past two weeks and the stock has been gone over and made ready for the sale being launched. The sale will last for thirteen days and the bargains will no doubt be taken quick.

Final Test Today:

The final test of the electric light plant is being made today. Professor Hill, Dysart’s elecctric engineer is here and has been going over the work with the councilmen. The large engine at the plant was not in the best working order a week ago but for the past several days it has been running better, a couple of factory men having had it in charge. The street lights have been working fine lately and we have heard no complaints about the lights in residences.

Blacksmith Shop Changes Owners

Olmstead Brothers, Ray and Bob, have purchased the blacksmith shop formerly owned by J. G. Temple and they expect to open for business Monday, March 2.

New Electric Sign

“Movies” is the sign in front of the electric theater. It is an electric sign placed there Saturday and is drawing a lot of attention. Within a short time we will see more electric signs over the street. Dysart is getting to be some city, if you don’t believe it ask us!

Farm News

Dr. Burns of Traer came down Tuesday morning and vaccinated 23 calves for James Wilson. A number of farmers northeast of town have lost some calves with the black leg and Jim wanted to be on the safe side by vaccinating.

Blackleg or Blackquarter or Clostridial myositis is an acute infectious disease clostridium chauvoei (bacteria) and characterized by swelling, usually in the bulky muscles, severe toxemia, and high mortality rate. The disease is acute, causing fever, and highly fatal in cattle and sheep. Blackleg is a worldwide disease and mainly affects cattle.


Social Happenings

Henry Schuett Back to U.S.

This is the author’s great uncle Henry Schutt. Not sure if this article is about him or the other Schuett family that lived in the Dysart area.

By the following letter, we learn that Henry Schuett, who has been making his home in Germany for some time has gotten homesick and will soon be in America. “Dear Sir: Will let you know that I am coming back to Iowa. Will leave Hamburg on the 26th of February on the steamer Auguste Victoria, therefore do not send any Reporter to Germany after you get this letter. I got homesick all at once and now there is no place like America. Yours respectfully, Henry Schuett.”

John Krug Shares Trip Details

John Krug 1864-1947. Photo from findagrave.com

John Krug called in the Reporter office the other day and was telling some of his experiences on his recent trip to Portland, Oregan. He was out there about three weeks and spent the time visiting with relatives and seeing the country. Around where his relatives live, it is mostly timber. Dairying is carried on most extensively. John had a couple cousins interested in large saw mills. The roads there are not worked and are always in bad condition. The timber being so plentiful they use planks to cover the roads, calling such roads “corduroy roads.” Now they are graveling some of the main roads but this proves very slow and expensive. John says the city of Portland is experiencing pretty hard times. A large number of men are out of work and the men who are steady workers are cut down to three days per week. He says the way the people account for that condition is that the men that do not want work come there to spend the winter where the climate is warm. on account of that the vice districts are overcrowded and people have to be careful where they are and hang on to their pocketbooks. John said he was very careful and never went out on his own.


Verl Hite went to Waterloo Tuesday morning to have his tonsils removed. He has been bothered with them for some time and expects to get along better without them.

Box Social in Bruce Township

There will be a box social at Bruce Township School Number 9, 6 miles east of Dysart on Friday night, March 6. The program will commence at 7:45 p.m. Ladies please bring supper for two and Gents bring their pocketbooks. Miss Blanche Tharpe, Treasurer.

Church News

Evangelical Church Upgrades to Electric Lighting

The Evangelical Church building as it appears today. /the church is now known as the Dysart United Methodist Church

Several improvements at the Evangelical church and parsonage which have been in progress for some time are now completed. Electric lights and quarter sawn oak floors were added to the parsonage. Electric lights were added to the church. The ladies aid society sponsored the improvements to the parsonage. The Young People’s Alliance paid for the fixtures at the church and the trustees shouldered the rest for the congregation. Semi-direct light is used in the church which is the most practical and up-to-date now on the market.



In 1914, the population of Dysart was just over 900 people. For a town of that size the Dysart Reporter is amazingly full of businesses and services available for the residents of the town and surrounding area. Here is an incomplete list of those advertising in the paper.

Building Materials – lumber, coal, lime, cement, postsFarmer’s Lumber Company n
MedicalDr. Forward Naprapath
H. J. Von Lackum M.D.;
Dr. F. W. Gessner
Dray/Delivery ServiceJohn Sorrell  
Wm. Ruebbel Pioneer Dray and Express Line
Isaac Dicken
GroceriesKeidel Brothers
J.M. Tupper
HardwareC. and S.A. Klemme
B.H.S. Hardware Company
DentistDr. J.T. Porter
AttorneyB. Frank and Arthur Thomas
E.E. Wieben
AuctioneerErvin Krebs
Frank Kuehl
Cemetery MonumentsErvin Krebs
Horse Related – harness, blankets, coatsC. J. Schmidt
John Klar
BankDysart Savings Bank
First National Bank
ClothingRuthenberg Clothing Company
R. Cold & Son
McDevitt & Smythe
Meggers Co.
FurnitureJ.T. Kranbuehl
UndertakingJ.T. Kranbuehl
ChickensGeorge Stewart
H.A. Zobel
Mrs. George Boyd
Steamboat TicketsDysart Savings Bank
Drug StoreC. L. Wareham
Barkdoll’s Drug Store
JewelryC. L. Wareham
ProduceH.W. Beilke
HotelC. B. White
RestaurantC.B. White
BooksC.L. Wareham Drug Store
Brick and TileDysart Brick and Tile Co.
VeteranarianDr. G. Lames
CarsB.H.S Hardware – Fords
Stock YardSchroeder & Goken
EntertainmentDysart Opera House
EggsMrs. Ernest Krell
GrainTama Benton Grain Company
BlacksmithOlmstead Brothers J.G. Temple

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The News From Dysart – Second Week of January 1914

Top Stories

A New Vaccine Appears to be Working!

“Vaccination for typhoid fever has been demonstrated successful in both the army and navy of the United States. In the whole army, with 50,000 men, there are only two cases of typhoid fever during the past year. One of these cases is a man not immunized and the other was vaccinated, but it is thought that his vaccination was for some reason or other not effective. In the army, vaccination against typhoid is compulsory. In the navy there were seven cases of typhoid fever during the entire year, but vaccination in the navy was not made compulsory as early as in the army. It is now compulsory. The vaccination for typhoid seems to have removed one more dread of army and navy life. Armies especially have been devastated by this disease. If this vaccination had been known before the Spanish-American War it would have saved many lives. Vaccination for typhoid has exceeded all records for vaccination against smallpox. The time is coming when other diseases will be obliterated by vaccination. The world is coming to the idea of disease prevention. The success that has been achieved and demonstrated in typhoid fever will make such progress more rapid and certain. “

Local News

Family Fights Back Against Implication of Theft

The Traer Star Clipper reported this week that “Will Aschenbrenner of Dysart was in Traer this week consulting with attorneys relative to a peculiar happening in his town. The other night $25 worth of feathers were stolen from the produce dealer, H.W. Beilke. Bloodhounds from Waterloo were employed and put upon the scent, some of the businessmen aiding in the cost. The hounds followed the railroad track most of the time two miles east, then went a mile north and west, returning to town from the north and passing through town, bringing up at Will Ashenbrenner’s residence, and refused to go further. The house was searched and no feathers were found and there the matter stands. Mrs. Aschenbrenner had been working in the produce store a week before. Mr. A feels much wrought up and was inclined to prosecute but the attorneys did not take the case. Of course, the public opinion is divided but we understand the Aschenbrenners are generally thought to be innocent, despite the verdict of the blood hounds. Later developments may shed more light.”

Farm Report

The Des Moines Homestead paper reports that R. W. Waller sold a cow named Lassie, born in 1910 for $140.00.

The Zoebel Bros are offering for sale an April yearling white Short-horn bull sired by Rosie’s Prince by Scottish Prince and out of Imp. Rosie. The bull they are offering is out of Butterfly’s Golden 2d, a Chuickshank Butterfly cow, sired by Golden Lad, he by the noted show bull, The Lad for Me. This bull is of the right type and in excellent breeding condition, and any breeder in need of a good white Shorthorn bull should visit this firm and look over this animal .They also have three ten-month bulls sired by King Archer…Zoebel’s also have a few good Percheron stallions and mares for sale.

Business News:


“Finally, the Dysart merchants have decided to close their stores at seven o’clock in the evening instead of staying open till everybody had their visit out. Most of the towns throughout the country have been doing this for some time. Dysart has started the habit several times but never held to it but for a few months at a time. There is nothing to the old reason of waiting for the farmers. Farmers are not coming to town at nine and ten o’clock in the evenings nowadays as they used to years ago. Times have changed and the old habit of the stores staying open fifteen and sixteen hours a day should change accordingly. When the closing time is seven o’clock there is a little more pleasure to the clerk’s life.”

“We the undersigned proprietors of Dysart stores, will close our respective places of business from Monday, January 5 to April 1st, at 7 o’clock in the evening except Saturday.”

Keidel Brothers

Henry Pippert

J.M Tupper

J.H. lindeman

R. Cold and Son

Isaac Dicken Buys Dray Line

This is an unknown Dray Line Driver and Rig inserted in the story to help the reader understand the term. It is not a Dysart resident to the best of the Editor’s knowledge.

“Isaac Dicken purchased John Ackerman’s dray line. The deal includes horses, wagons and street sprinkler. Possession to be given on January 15. Mr. Dicken has been running Will Rueppel’s dray business for the past several years and proven himself a very accommodating drayman. Ackerman has operated the third draw line for Dysart for several years and has worked up a good business. The Dysart draymen have always been busy. Now that Mr. Ackerman has sold his dray, he will focus on his butcher and egg business. However, he is thinking seriously of moving to California. He is offering his property south of Dysart for sale and if he finds a buyer, the town will lose the Ackerman family. “

This image is from the Cobblestone Museum in Albion, New York and is entered as an example of what a harness shop might have looked like in 1914. This is not Mr. Schmidt’s shop in Dysart.

“One of the oldest businessmen in Dysart, one that has been in the same business in the same building for thirty years, is C.J. Schmidt. He started in business in the building he now occupies thirty years ago this spring, when Dysart was just a promising young town and probably before the boom tide had left. When Mr. Schmidt first came here the beginning of the town was still fresh in the people’s minds and he can tell the history of Dysart from the beginning down to the present day. Last week, C.J. Schmidt sold a half interest in his business to his son, Ed Schmidt. Ed was brought up in the harness business and is a practical harness maker, having worked for his father for the past 7 or 8 years. The business will no doubt be strengthened by the partnership.”

Editor’s Note: A biography of C. J. Schmidt which originally appeared in the History of Tama County has been placed on the Tidbit’s page.

Ben Pippert has also sold his dray business. He has sold to John Sorrell. Ben has rented the Fuoss farm west of Dysart where he will move March 1.

School News:

Social News

Last week we learned that Dr. Forward was considering a move to Dysart for his Naprapathic  practice and this week it is announced that he has indeed made the move.

1914 Oakland Automobile

Fred Bower has a new Oakland auto, Emil Barta a Ford, and Albert Ames a second hand Ford.

A ten dollar reward is being offered for the return of a Violin outfit lost Friday, January 2, 1914, between Creps’ livery barn at Dysart and Elberon, on the first road west of Dysart. The outfit consisted of a fine violin, a snakewood bow, black leather case, and a few violin supplies. Finder, please call Elberon Orchestra and receive your reward. E. J. Kucera.

Editor’s Note: At a later date, I am hoping to write more about the fraternal organizations which were popular in early 1900 society in Dysart. To clarify for today’s reader the First National Bank is not the brick building which currently stands at the corner of Main and Wilson. That building did not open until 1917. According to “Stepping Stones in Time” the First National Bank was located on the east side of Main Street. It as three stories tall and made of brick. The bank occupied the first floor, the second floor was rented to medical Doctors and Dentists, while the third floor was used as a lodge hall. The Editor believes this building was still standing in the 1960s but defers to more knowledgeable readers.


Area Churches:

The Luther League will meet at the home of Ervin Moeller on Friday evening, Jan. 6th, instead of Tuesday, Jan. 13th. A German play, “Many Cooks Spoil the Broth” will be the main entertainment of the evening and all members are requested to be present and witness the program. Annual dues should be paid at that time.

Editor’s Note: The January 8, 1914, edition of the Dysart Reporter contained an ad for the Church of Christ which I have opted to exclude from my post. The ad is decidedly anti-Catholic and doesn’t bear repeating. According to “Stepping Stones in Time” the church was established in May of 1913 by two evangelists and met in a home and a hall before a church building was erected north of the railroad tracks. This building opened in December of 1913. The church was discontinued in 1918 due to a lack of membership. The building was moved and became a residence which sat at the end of my small neighborhood. I remember playing in that house as a child. Looking back on it now, I can see how it could of at one time been a church.


Mr. R.C. McElhiney has placed ads in several local papers trying to sell his Rambler 5 passenger automobile. States he will sell it cheap or trade for horses.

Abe Lincoln has placed an ad looking for two of his two year old steers who have strayed from the farm. Each weighs about 700 pounds. He asks that “anyone knowing anything about these animals kindly notify him.”


Dysart – The Golden Buckle of the Cornbelt

When I look back on growing up in small town Iowa during the 1960s and 1970s, I realize that for the first 18 years my world consisted of a 20-mile radius from my house.  My town had enough businesses and services that we could get most everything we needed from one of the hardware stores, one of the grocery stores or Dawson’s Variety Store. Occasionally we would make the 20-mile trip to Waterloo for school clothes or on incredibly special days a movie at the Paramount or lunch at King’s featuring a Frenchie and onion rings. Those trips to the city were rare.

Our shoes were purchased nine miles away in Traer at Frank’s Shoe Store where you could get a pair of patent leather shoes and a toy in a golden egg laid by the big red goose. Those trips always included a stop at the bakery for a treat like a cinnamon swirl cookie to eat now and a bag of treats in a white wax covered bag to take home for later. I can still smell that bakery today and when I am in Traer and walk by the building the olfactory memory hits me hard and I crave something sweet.

My mom’s family lived 20 miles to the south of Dysart in Belle Plaine where we went to visit them and later attended to their graves in the cemetery. These trips usually included a coveted trip to the Maid Rite for a sandwich with a little bit of extra salt, ketchup, mustard and pickles. Add in fries and a malted milk served with the extra milkshake in the metal mixing container and a long spoon and I was in heaven.  I loved to look at the circus train display that adorned the top of their cupboards while I ate a slice of pie.

My dad grew up near Elberon where we would go to see family friends the Homires: Cletis, Cody, Curtie and Evelyn whose names all seemed magical to me somehow. Elberon, with its sidewalk which was higher than the street and looked like something out of an old western to me. A trip to Elberon meant a cold pop from the Coca-Cola cooler in front of the gas station and maybe a bag of Lay’s potato chips.

My dad loved to drive around so we took a lot of rides out into the country. Since my grandparents owned a farm, he had the opportunity to be a farmer but did not appear to want that life. He preferred to farm by observation and conversation, I guess. After leaving the farm, he drove truck for the local feed and seed company and as a result, knew the name of every farmer in our part of the world. It was not at all unusual for him to suddenly turn down a long gravel driveway to someone’s house just to visit. He and the farmer would stand in the yard, smoke cigarettes, and talk about the latest news. I would usually find a kitten to play with or if I were lucky there would be a kid who wanted to show me their barn which was a real treat. I loved the smell of hay in a barn and the adventure of exploring this unfamiliar and to me, dangerous world.

A few miles out past the cemetery which lay on the edge of town, we purchased eggs at Olga Finzen’s. Her son, John, was the best man at my parent’s wedding. Olga was a fascination for me. Dressed in a flowered dress, with a full body apron covering her clothing she would slip on her large men’s rubber boots to go out and retrieve eggs. She seemed tough as nails and sweet as sugar to me. Their house held a hundred smells of cooking and baking and farm life. She spoke with a heavy accent which I found mesmerizing.

My parents owned a business in Dysart but every Thursday night, we would leave town and go out to eat as a family. These trips took me to the Washburn Truck Stop, the Lincoln Café in Belle Plaine, Vesley’s Drive-In in Traer for broasted chicken, The 218 Café in Vinton, and The King Tower in Tama. Sometimes we would go to Blazek’s Park on the Old Lincoln Highway in Chelsea. Mom would tell me about its heyday when it was a dance club drawing a large crowd on weekend nights with a lighted outdoor dining area and live music. I so wanted to see that in person.

My dad knew every farm pond and creek in the area and somehow had permission to fish at all of them. At least that was what we were told. Afternoons would find us fishing in a pond behind a cemetery in Geneseo or along the banks of the Wolf Creek near the Brandt’s house outside of La Porte. Those trips usually included a stop at the quarry on the dirt road that that led to the creek. Sometimes we would go to Dudgeon Lake by Vinton and hunt for trilobites along the banks of the Cedar River. My parent’s friends had cottages over by Mt. Auburn where we would spend the day with the Hixes, the McAndrews and the Thorens.

It seems to me now in retrospect that my dad was a bit of a rolling stone. I do not remember spending much time just sitting at home when he was not working. In my memory we were always out driving, fishing, or exploring. I should not tell on my mom but she enjoyed exploring abandoned houses. She was not afraid to go peek in their windows. She never took anything from these lonesome dwellings, but her sense of adventure included having to have a “look see”. She also liked to collect wildflowers and many rides included her telling my dad to “pull over Alvin” so she could retrieve the shovel that she had brought along in the trunk and dig up a plant from the roadside or ditch.

Most of the kids I knew growing up experienced “the family ride” and I suppose that many did not enjoy these, but I did. I like to think that growing up in a time without cell phones and electronic distractions allowed me the luxury of developing observational skills. Our rides seemed like mini adventures to me. I spent a good part of my early life either fighting with my brother over the window ledge in the back seat of a car or the bench seat of whatever pickup my dad was driving at the time wedged between my parents, both with their arms resting comfortably out of the window with the wing windows blowing cooler air into their faces. We did not have air conditioning in our home so these drives offered moving air instead of the oppressing humidity that is an Iowa summer day.

My dad also seemed to know where all the best free fruit and nuts were in the county, and I can remember tromping through some woods that were located in the Bohemian Alps along the Duponda Blacktop near Toledo searching for hickory nuts or walking through the woods that would later become Hickory Hills Park hunting for morel mushrooms. I was terrible at finding them. My dad would walk behind me and pick up the ones that I had not already crushed. We picked raspberries along train tracks and pears from my grandparent’s orchard.

We went to other places near our home like Clutier, Gladbrook for the Corn Carnival, Vining, and Keystone to attend family reunions at the Turner Hall. We drove out north of town to see the pampas grass by Milne’s farm which still takes my breath away. We went to Vaubel’s pond and the Seven Hills Road where we marched as boy scouts and girl scouts. We drove my brother back and forth to the Boy Scout Camp near that sign for Mooreville, a town which no longer exists.

Further north were the remnants of the wagon tracks that brought settlers west in the late 1800’s and the big round barn. If you look at a map you will see that all of these are within about a 20-mile radius of my house at the corner of Wilson and Grant.

As a child, I knew my town well because it was the center of my life. It was the place where I rode my bike and went to school and swam in the pool and played at my friend’s houses. For a large part of that childhood, I stayed in my neighborhood, a short one block street running north and south connected to two streets that ran the whole distance of my one-mile square world. A collection of nine houses with fifteen kids, give or take a few, depending on who was living next to the Goodwin’s at the time. I was a truly fortunate child. I grew up in a peaceful place full of happy memories and good people.

When we returned from our short trips out of town, we were greeted at three corners by a sign that read, “Dysart, The Golden Buckle of the Cornbelt” and, it really was. I have not lived there in many years, but it stays in my heart as one of the finest places I have ever been.

Dysart came into being because of the westward expansion of the railroad. It was incorporated in 1872 which means this year, 2022, she turns 150 years old. Over the years, I have collected a number of stories about Dysart and surrounding area. In honor of that anniversary, I have set a goal to bring to life some of stories that I have garnered from the past. I am taking it easy on myself and shooting for a goal of one story per month but hoping for more. If you are reading this and want to join the adventure, I say “Welcome aboard!”. I’d love to have you along.

#Dysart 1914 1960s Ames Bohemian Braden Brandt Brick & Tile Cattle Cedar Rapids Chautauqua Clutier Commercial Club Cowboy Des Moines Dr. Redmond Dysart Elberon Evangelical Church Ford Geneseo Gladbrook Hix Iowa Jensen Keidel McDevitt Methodist Church Mexican War Mexico Milne Moeller Montana neighborhood Opera House Smythe Tama Tama County Toledo Traer Tuberculosis Typhoid Vining Waterloo World War I


I Think I Finally Understand Etta Stoner

I grew up in a small town in Iowa in the 1960s and 1970s. My little town was one-mile square, planted firmly in the middle of farm country. I was a town kid which was different from a farm kid in those days before the Internet made us all more homogeneous in terms of our experiences and exposure to the world.  As a town kid, my contemporaries and I pretty much had free reign to explore our one-mile square. We were transported beyond the borders of our yards on foot and by bicycle. I do not actually remember spending much time in a car growing up. We went places like “the city” (pop. 75,000) for shopping or to my grandparent’s and aunt’s homes one or two counties away but by and large, we were not taken places within town in the car.

The Neighborhood and Beyond

I lived in a house on a corner lot and my neighborhood consisted of the one street that ran south from that house. This is not to say that I did not have friends in other parts of town but from an early age my playgroup was the kids on that street. You might go to a friend’s house in another neighborhood during the day, but after supper and until the lights came on which was the universal signal for “it’s time to go home now”, we played within that street. Eight houses and one tar shack which housed an elderly man we did not know much about and all of us avoided. Eight houses with a total of about six “playable” kids, by that I mean within my age group. There were other kids in the neighborhood, of course, by some were too old or too young to be considered acceptable playmates. When I type that all out, it seems like a ridiculously small world and I guess it was but at the time it did not feel that way to me. People from my generation like to say that we were raised before bored existed and although it sounds cliche’ there is a lot of truth to that. I do not remember ever feeling bored unless it was raining or snowing so hard that we could not go out.


Directly across the street from our house was the home of Etta Stoner, a woman who my entire life I considered an old widow lady.  I recently wondered about that perception and found that Etta was born in 1888 so by the time I was aware of her in about 1963 she would have been 75 and had been widowed for about 9 years so my perception was not completely unfounded. What may not have been accurate was our perception that Etta did not like children. True or not, it is what we all believed. This perception was reinforced by the fact that our parents encouraged us to “leave her alone” which likely meant give the poor woman a break from your energy and noise, but was received as a more ominous statement of what she would do to children found lurking in her yard.

Her yard did not hold much fascination for the kids in the neighborhood except to say when you are trying to play hide and seek in a one street area, hiding places can be few and far between. Etta had a row of evergreens right up next to the house which were ideal places to hide from detection. Attempts to do so however, would be met by a rap on the window signaling that although you had not been caught but another kid, you had been caught by her and asked to move on. Additionally, she had an apple tree which produced the largest apples I have ever seen in my life and I believe this is where most of the kids in the neighborhood had an issue with her. Etta did not allow us to pick apples off that tree or even pick up the ones that had fallen.

Confessions of a Fruit Thief

Here I will confess to one unattractive facet of my growing up years which is that I was a Class A fruit theif. I think I knew every raspberry patch, grape arbor, and apple tree in every alley in that town and I unashamedly partook of every free bite I could get. As an adult, I understand now what an affront to the home gardener this was but at the time, I did not see it that way. I think I believed that the stuff just grew naturally and was therefore, available for the taking. I should have known better and perhaps I did. Time and memory can allow us to believe a lot of things about ourselves that are less than accurate. Surely my parents told me that taking other people’s fruit was stealing. I know for sure Nancy Thiele our neighbor who caught me in her grapevines more than once tried to impress the error of my ways upon me.

Etta’s Great Offense

Over the years, as our childhood passed, we ignored Etta for the most part. Our late grade school and middle school years took us further away from the neighborhood we shared. However, when I became a teenager our worlds collided, and she became the object of my frustration and sometimes downright anger. You see, Etta had a habit of getting up at the crack of dawn to work in her yard. One of the tasks at that hour was to clean the cracks in her sidewalks. To accomplish this task, she would get down on her hands and knees (just a reminder here she was in her 80s by this time) with a metal bucket and a digging tool of some kind. She would clean each crack, place the weeds and dirt into the bucket and then crawl up to the next section, scaping that metal bucket on the sidewalk behind her as she progressed. My bedroom window faced Etta’s sidewalk and so even with my window closed I would be awoken by the sound of her work. Teenagers love sleep and I took her actions very personally. When you are sixteen the thought that anyone at any time of the day would need to clean out the cracks in a sidewalk is plain ludicrous. I remember that I would get up and yell at the first available person which was generally my mother about Etta and her “stupidity”.

I do not recall the last time I saw Etta. I left home in 1976 to go to college and although I returned home during the summers, I cannot tell you if she continued to be able to do yard work during those years. I did a little research on her for this piece and I found that she eventually went to live at the nursing home and died in 1980.

It All Comes Around At Last

During the Covid-19 pandemic and even before, I have been experiencing a lot of challenges with sleep. I am part of the “up during the middle night set” and the “lay awake in bed and wait for daytime crew”. By talking with others and seeing what is happening online during these hours, I know there are a lot of people who are sharing this experience.  I also know that scientifically time moves at the same rate during the day as it does overnight but when you are awake during those hours it seems to move exceedingly slowly. To manage this situation, you find yourself doing things at strange times like scanning old photographs at 2 a.m. or re-potting your houseplants at 4 a.m. The other morning while doing the later, I thought about Etta and realized this may have been why she was doing something as mindless as digging weeds out of the sidewalk at 5:30 a.m. Perhaps, like me, she had been up all night restless and searching for something to do to distract her mind from the frustration that insomnia brings or maybe she was lonely having lived so many years alone. Even though I never yelled at Etta for waking me up as a teen, I apologized to her in my mind and let her know that I think I understand her now. She, like me, was just doing what she could to keep herself healthy in body and spirit. I don’t plan to start digging weeds out of the cracks in our driveway but I am aware that as my unemployment starts and age continues to keep me from a good night’s sleep most nights, I too will be looking for ways to stay productive and that others may find my choices annoying. I will be praying for more grace than I was able to show to Etta at that age.

Notes for my Dysart Friends: Etta Stoner was born Rosetta May Heath in 1888. According to “Stepping Stones of Time” published in 1973 she was the daughter of Benjamin and Clara Heath. “Benjamin Ross Heath, born at Sherman, New York, January 16, 1946, came to the Dysart area in the early 1860’s. Mr. Heath a carpenter, by trade, died November 8, 1917. In 1875 he married Clara Armstrong. Their children were: Mrs. Viola Ludwig Dial (foster daughter), Mrs. Ellen Seeley, Mrs. Etta Stoner, Mrs. Olive Kavalier, John Health and Mrs. Fern Barrett. There were 11 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren. The Heath family lived most of their years in Dysart on West Wilson Street.” 

Etta was an early telephone operator in Dysart. She is shown on the left in the photo above along with Ella Schroeder at the switchboard.

Etta married Sylvan Stoner and they had one daughter names Helen Edwards (Wendall). Etta was widowed in 1854 when Sylvan passed away. He was 12 years her senior. She was a member of the Methodist Church in Dysart. Etta, her husband, daughter and sister, Olive, are all buried in the Dysart Cemetery.


A Walk For Freda

840A8238 (2)This morning I will be joining in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s with about 1,100 other people all of whom will be there because dementia has impacted their life in some way. The weather looks favorable for a good walk in Millennial Park. I know I will see a lot of old friends and work colleagues there and I am looking forward to that. There will be a many smiling faces to greet and likely a lot of shared hugs. It should be a good morning.

One person who will not be there though, is my mother-in-law, Freda, who died after her own journey with dementia. Freda always amazed me. Despite the fact that she never learned to drive  and limited her social network to her family, she could literally find a way to complete any project she put her mind to. Over the years, I watched as she wallpapered, painted, built, dug, and planted her way to a home that reflected her so well. She was an amazing decorator, seamstress, baker, and cook. She was also quite an artist. Over the years, we as a family, were forced to standby and watch as dementia slowly robbed her of these skills. That path was painful and frustrating for all of us and that is why this group will walk today in Grand Rapids and all over the world. The hope that we can find a way to save future generations from a similar fate is paramount to the walk.

The journey through dementia took so much from Freda and from all of us but one thing that she was able to maintain until almost the very end was a sense of belonging. Toward the end of her life, we all gathered for one last Christmas in her home. At one point in the evening, Freda tapped my arm and pointed to one of my nephews and said, “I don’t know who that is, but I know he is one of mine.” I’ll be thinking of her this morning as I walk and be thankful that I got a chance to be a part of what was hers for as long as I did.

Do not ask me to remember,
Don’t try to make me understand,
Let me rest and know you’re with me,
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I’m confused beyond your concept,
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me,
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different though I try.
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone,
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’til my life is done.
– Owen Darnell



Where were you when the world…….


In the aftermath of 9-11 Alan Jackson wrote a song the major theme of which is “where were you when the world stopped turning?”. No doubt that song will be played all over the country today on the 18th anniversary of what I have come to think of as one of our foremost shared American Experiences. Most of us who were cognizant of what was happening that day will revisit where we were, who we were with and what our initial reactions were. I should state that I make a clear distinction in my mind between the experience of those of us who were not in NYC that day and those who were. It can’t be anything near the same and I don’t pretend to understand what those people experienced.

I was home for some reason that Tuesday morning. I was sitting on our green plaid couch, cutting coupons from the previous Sunday’s paper, wearing a white bathrobe and drinking coffee. These images are sharp in my mind. The color of all these items is particularly seared into my memory. I was watching the Today show when the first airplane hit the tower. It’s almost embarrassing to admit today but I had to be told that these events were done on purpose. That thought never entered my mind. My initial and very naive reaction was that something had gone terribly wrong with the electrical system used to guide airplanes.

I am a child of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Growing up, we had personal knowledge and interactions with the concept of  war. Most of the fathers we knew had been in World War II or Korea. Our older brothers and the older brothers of our classmates were either in Vietnam or having their lives effected by the possibility of going to Vietnam.  We sat in front of televisions with anxious mothers and brothers as the selective service draft was drawn. We saw the images of Vietnam almost every night on our televisions but all of this was “somewhere else”. Not in America; never in America.

Alan Jackson’s song describes a number of responses that people had that day but seem to me to focus on a just a few themes. Did you withdraw inward to yourself and your own small circle or did you reach out to be with and help others? Did you become a little more appreciative of what you have and value it just a little bit more. Did you curse a world where bad things happen or did you look for answers and a sense of peace from your faith?

As we all know, the world did not stop turning that day but to me it does feel like it got moved off its axis a bit. I believe that day was full of losses and oddly enough some gains for us. We lost our innocence. We have certainly lost some personal freedoms as a result. But, some of us can still conjure up the feeling of pride we had in our country and our citizens’ ability to respond in crisis. I think overall we have a better appreciation of those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect and serve us. So, eighteen years later it seems to me that it’s worth asking ourselves a similar question to Alan’s. “What did you learn the day the world shifted and how have you used that to thrive in your post 9-11 life?”.


So you think you can blog………..

you got this lighted signage
Photo by Prateek Katyal on Pexels.com

I got it into my head recently that I should start a blog. I thought tonight might be a good time to get started on that.  I spent some time thinking about what I would name my blog and researching how many other blogs share those titles. Do you have any idea how many out-of-date blogs there are out there on the internet? Apparently, there are a lot of other people who also thought having a blog was a good idea, at least at first.)

The next step was try to figure out how I would access this website that I purchased a long time ago when we had a store. I’ve been paying to maintain it  just in case I might actually get back to something like that again. I have not worked on this site recently (two years if you can believe the date on my last posting). That process took me about 45 minutes of failed password attempts and failed attempts to figure out which of the several email addresses I have had over the years the request to change the password went to.

I finally arrived back where I started only to be faced with the daunting task of creating a password. I have a whole notebook full of passwords at home and two sheets of passwords at my work. When it comes to creating a password, I’m tapped out. Twice Word Press said I couldn’t use a password because I had used it recently. How can that be? I haven’t been on here for two years! That fact alone should have gotten me in. Who else would even try those inane combinations of letters and numbers?

Finally, I accessed my website only to realize that I don’t actually know what the difference is between a post and a blog. The help menu was no help so I decided I should go look at my daughter-in-law’s website.  She’s a master at blogging so I knew she would have the answer. Her blog is on a separate page of her website, so that’s where I thought I’d put mine. I successfully added a page which is title “The Blog” however as you can see, this post is not there. After an hour or more of searching how to do that, I had to give that part up (for now).

Hang, The Blog page, I’m ready to write something! So, I click on the “write” button and am faced with a blank sheet ready to accept my thoughts and ideas and creative energies. And suddenly, I have no idea what it is that I thought I might blog about. It’s like I’m back in school and the teacher has just given the final instructions for the Iowa Basic Skills Test and my mother sent me to school without any #2 pencils!


I know sometime in the next few days, it’ll come to me what I thought I might write about on my blog and when it does I’ll be ready (well not entirely, yet).  I can find my website, I have my password written down, and I’ve learned how to insert photos. But the point is, I started, which was my goal in the first place. At the very least, I’ll have an easier time finding the place where I could write if I have something to say.

The Great 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 has to 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 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 Chatauqua) 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 Foruth 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.

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The News From Dysart & North Central Iowa – Last Two Weeks of April 1914

National News

General Victoriano Huerta

War with Mexico Likely

Whole Navy Headed for Tampico to Force Huerta to Apology

(Traer Star Clipper April 17, 1914)

“War with Mexico seems certain. The patience of the President and his cabinet is exhausted. The other day several American sailors were arrested and imprisoned in Tampico without cause.” The commander of the ship demanded (an) apology and the firing of (a) twenty-one gun salute to the American flag. President Wilson backs him up in the demand. Huerta refuses to salute. This insult, added to many others heaped upon this government in the weeks past, has been the last straw. Huerta will salute or war will follow inside of ten days. Tampico and Vera Cruz will be taken. Then in all probability intervention will follow. Huerta has secured sixty million in cash, which would enable him to hold out a year against the rebels. It is time something was done by our government. The country will approve of the drastic movement just begun. Congress is nearly unanimous in its approval.”

War With Mexico Begun

Navy Seizes City of Vera Cruz – Five Marines Killed, Thirty Wounded

(Traer Star Clipper April 24, 1914)

“It has come to war. Heurta refused to salute the American flag to atone for the arrest of marines ten days ago and Admiral Fletcher was ordered to seize the custome house at Vera Cruz which he did. The Mexican Army fled into the country, but firing from housetops continued until the admiral felt it necessary to take possession of the city. His loss is five killed and thirty wounded. The Mexicans lost 150 killed. The next step depends on Huerta. If the rebels and federals unite, the army and navy may be put into action and march to Mexico City begun. The administration seems now determined that Huerta shall go and will not be satisfied by any salute now. It looks much as if war of considerable dimensions and length is upon us.”

Rosenthal Becker Murder Trial Executions

“The four gunmen convicted of the Rosenthal murder which occurred in June, 1912, were electrocuted Monday morning at break of day. The first man died at 5:43 and the last one at 6:02. Thus four men answered with their lives for the death of one and the life of another is in the balance.”

Love True Crime and Want to Learn More? Try these links!

There are many articles and books written on this topic. Here are a couple we found interesting.

On the web: Charles Becker: The “Crookedest ” Cop in New York


Book: Satan’s Circus by Mike Dash: https://www.mikedash.com/

State News

A State Hospital

H. LeRoy von Lackum Writes About Institution at Independence

Herman Leroy von Lackum

“After learning that LeRoy von Lackum had visited the institution for the insane at Independence with the junior and senior medical classes of the University of Iowa, we asked him for a description of the trip. After considerable deliberation he consented and the past week while spending his vacation here he prepared the following story for us.” The Dysart Reporter

Iowa State Hospital for Insane 1908

“A few weeks ago, in company with several nurses, the Junior and Senior classes of (the) Medical College of the State University visited the hospital for the insane at Independence.

The hospital itself is located about one mile south of the city on several hundred acres of ideally selected ground. Fine drives and a parking of pine trees cover the place. Besides the large main building, there are several out-buildings, the most important of which is one just recently built. It is used for the sick and for the reception and examination of new patients. A fine operating room is herein located as well as the hydro-therapy department, which is very important in the treatment of violent patients.

The patients are kept in nicely lighted and well ventilated wards, made as cheerful as possible by the presence of many plants and flowers. The different types of insane are kept separated, each ward being locked from the others and guarded over by one or more attendants, depending upon the kinds of cases. Violent patients are removed from the others, no restraint in the way of straight-jackets or other similar devises being used. The attendants, with the help of other patients, overcome the violent one(s) in as gentle a way as possible, and then hydrotherapy with the administration of sedative drugs is all that is resorted to if this does not suffice and the attack persists.

Probably one of the most pleasant things connected with the institution, is a theatre in the main building. Here the patients themselves are allowed to hold entertainments, and on several occasions during the year, dramatic companies are brought in and present such plays as do not excite, but rather look toward the cheerful and uplifting in life.

There are about 1200 patients at Independence and about the same number in each of the three other state hospitals.”

Waterloo to be at the Panama Exposition

Iowa House Panama Exhibition San Francisco

“Waterloo is now making plans for what they now call the Iowa building at the Panama exposition for next year at San Francisco. A delegation of Waterloo men have recently returned from a trip there to pick out the site and to make the final arrangements. It is said the building is to cost $125,000 and that Waterloo is doing it for the state. No doubt it will be better known as the Waterloo building than the Iowa building and if Waterloo does it she should have the credit.”

Local News

Tuberculosis Sanatorium at Toledo

According to a report written in 1919 by the U.S. Department of the Interior, the buildings used for the sanitorium were originally built to serve as a boarding school for the children of the Mesquaki tribe who lived nearby. However, the parents of these children were unwilling to have their children move there and so the school served children from other tribes. In 1913, the school was converted into a sanitorium for the treatment of native people suffering from tuberculosis.

The Toledo Chronicle visited a newly established tuberculosis sanitorium established on the Mesquaki Reservation in Tama and provided the following account. “The institution has seventeen patients at present, 10 girls and 7 boys. These come from five different tribes (represented) from various states. Sleeping porches have been added to the south, west and north parts of the old school building, on the second floor, which we are informed are even superior to those at the state hospital in Oakdale.” Separate areas were set up for the boys and girls. “The quarters are arranged so as to have an abundance of fresh air and plenty of sunlight.”

“At the time our visit was made, the patients were taking their afternoon rest. Some were sleeping, part reading and others simply resting. Rest and proper food is the secret of tubercular treatment. The patients appear to be in the best of spirits and perfectly satisfied, although each had a period of homesickness upon arrival. The daily program of all the patients must be regular. As they become stronger, light work is given them about the premises. “

On the first floor, Dr. Russell, the superintendent has his consultation and drug room. Adjoining this is the operating room. The apparatus throughout is the most modern and the stock of drugs is more complete than the average drug store. The school room will be the same as used in the old Indian school. New equipment has been supplied and the windows will be placed on hinges so as to swing out, practically making an outdoor school room. The patients will be given school work as their strength permits.

The building formerly used for the Indian school as a laundry has been remodeled and will be used as sleeping rooms for the male employees. The present laundry is newly equipped and practical from every standpoint. A laundry woman is kept constantly at work in this department. the store house is supplied with practically all of the necessities for the patients in the line of clothing, aside from other supplies for the institution and the day schools on the reservation. the dairy department is entirely new and substantially equipped. The herd consists of registered animals of the Jersey breed. The new cottages have been erected. One is occupied by the Indian farmer and the other will be used for an employee’s mess quarters. A new implement shed has also been erected recently.

To the present time in the neighborhood of $17,000 has been expended in making the necessary changes and improvements. A much larger sum will be required by the time the work is completed. The institution is now equipped to take care of about sixty patients, but is probably that the capacity will be increased to at least one hundred. There are thirteen persons now employed in the institution all being under civil service rule. More will be added a little later.”

Disagreements over Geneseo’s New School

“There is liable to be trouble over the moving of the Burns School in Geneseo. As stated heretofore, the directors decided to erect the new brick building a considerable distance north of the old site, on the Life corner. This did not suit some of the patrons. John Burns, Mr. Griffin and Mr. McKay went to Toledo and employed an attorney to oppose the action. They will go into court and hope to defeat the action in changing the location. The contract for the building has been let.”

Crystal Farmer Taken in Front of the Insane Commission

“James Fink, of Crystal who has been at the state hospital in Independence off and on now for years, and of late months has been employed by Henry Reimers, has been restless in the absence of Mr. and Mrs. Reimers, and complaint was made to the authorities at Toledo. He was taken before the insane commission there, who could discover little the matter with him and they declined to send him back to Independence. The sheriff has taken him under his care for the present. Mr. Fink owns a fine farm in Crystal worth around $30,000 but his guardian gives him little of the returns. He has never married.”

Professional Money Finder

Supervisor Lundak Runs Into Coin at Every Moment

From the Toledo Democrat: “Supervisor Frank Lundak has gained a reputation for being a finder of hidden money. Up to date he hasn’t found very much to which he can lay claim, but what others have stowed away in tin cans, tobacco pouches, and hidden pockets he has discovered and turned over to the proper authorities Some years ago, he took a roll of $527 from the deceased John Vavra’s pants and ’twas not the fault of the finder that the relatives spent $1,000 or more getting the money properly distributed.

Mrs. Byer dropped dead in Vining’s thoroughfare (editor’s note: wait, what? a thoroughfare in Vining????) without publishing where she kept her money. In an old tobacco pouch at the foot of her bed, the undertaker (Mr. Lundak) found $1,100 in gold. The finder was sorry that the deceased hadn’t seen fit to use a hundred or so upon herself before she died.

Then a (Japanese man Samurai – the honorable K. Takrue), whom everybody thought was penniless died, but the undertaker dug up $72 out of his jeans and planted him without charge to the county.

And just last week Wednesday, Frank Roushar died of old age and poverty in Vining. In digging around among the effects of the deceased, the county supervisor located an old tin can and on inspecting same found $1,165 therein. There are no close relatives and therefore no real reason for hoarding the money. To die in want depending upon the charity of strangers, while $1,165 could be used to furnish some measure of comfort, bespeaks the too economical, to say the least.

The mayor of Vining was made custodian of the gold and will likely be compelled to turn it over to relatives although it was the deceased’s desire to use some of the money for the keeping of his grave and that of his wife’s, neat and clean.”

Commercial Club in Organization

This record book of Dysart’s Commercial Club is available at the Dysart Museum!

At Present 50 Citizens on List – Work Being Pushed

“The list being circulated for the purpose of getting the signatures of the Dysart citizens who are willing and anxious for the organization of a commercial club now boasts of about 50 names, 65 or 70 names are wanted on the list before a meeting is called and then when a meeting is called intense interest will be manifested and the business of the club will be started off right….the main object of a commercial club is for the interests of our town. It has nothing to do with any one man’s interests. It is for the interest of everybody in Dysart and to that reason everybody should get back on it and do their share of boosting. “


“Will Kessler closed a deal the last of the week for a new soda fountain to be delivered here about May 1st. It is one of the latest and has all the up-to-date conveniences. It will be set against the north wall of the O.K. Restaurant. Will realizes that it will take the profit of a lot of sodas to pay for the fountain – but he wants to have one of which Dysart people will feel proud.”

Entertainment News

Church News

“The committee appointed by the officers of the Methodist church to work on the project of building a new church or rebuilding the present building is Rev. Hepner, S.J. Kerr, Dr. Porter, Dr. Gessner, J.T. Stewart, George Stewart, A.K. Zalesky and Ed Minkel. If these men get together on some proposition and get it started we know something will be done that will be a boost for Dysart. “


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The News From Dysart & North Central Iowa – First Two Weeks of April 1914

State News

Is There A Body in that Trunk?
Dysart Reporter April 19, 1914

This article and articles like it ran in several papers in Iowa during the first week of April, 1914. What the people of Dysart did not know is that the killer they were looking for, “James Nolan”, had strong ties to Tama County and only a year earlier had lived among them. Authorities in Montana had wired Waterloo to be on the lookout for Nolan who they believed had killed a homesteader in Montana on March 9. Authorities in Osage determined that he had arrived there by train but left almost immediately on another train, believed to be bound for Frankfort, Michigan, where the search for him continued.

Neighbors had reported the homesteader, Arthur E. Kerry, of Woodmountain near Regina, Canada, missing. The police had trailed the suspect, James Nolan to Glasgow, Montana, but the trail had been lost there. Sheriff Nacey found that the wagon and team had been disposed of at Nashua and the person had taken the train for Williston. From Williston he was traced to Minneapolis, going from there to Iowa.

On April 17, Nolan was arrested in Eagle Grove, Iowa, by Marshal Fisher and charged with Kerry’s murder. It turned out that his name was actually James Knowlen, not Nolan. He was arrested on a train headed for Fort Dodge along with his wife and young daughter.

The following day, he confessed to the murder . He stated that he went to the home of an Englishman named “Cary” one evening to get him to drive the Knowlen family some distance overland. “Cary” lived alone in a cabin. Knowlen admitted to striking Cary with a club or sandbag inside the cabin. He took the body of the dead man as well as his valuable team. The woman and child joined him and for three days and nights they continued on their way. The body was removed from the wagon at 4 a.m. the first day and hidden in some brush. The Knowlens reached Montana before the crime was discovered by neighbors who reported him missing to the Canadian Mounted Police. He disposed of the team for $60 although it was worth much more. Knowlen jumped from place to place to shake off any pursuit. He sold a watch belonging to the victim about two weeks before his arrest in Eagle Grove, Iowa. After his confession, Knowlen broke down completely and agreed to return to Canada to face trial. He was described as being about 35 years old and of small stature. The victim was about 25 years old and had staked his claim in Canada some time before his death. Based on Knowlen’s confession, the body was found in the brush on Porcupine Creek on Friday, April 17.

The papers reported that Knowlen previously lived near Toledo in Tama County and left for Canada about one year before this event. The Traer Star Clipper in August of 1913 had reported that he had moved from the Henry Taylor Place (west of Toledo) to the Hibbs property near Monticello. The Eagle Grove Gazette reported him as a former resident of that place and this seems to have been true. Both papers stated he had left their communities to go to Canada.

“Nolan was reported as rather a suspicious character while here, and at the time of his departure left quite a number of bills unpaid.”

toledo chronicle aPRIL 23, 1914
Canadian Authorities Declared Him Insane
Traer Star Clipper May 22, 1914

Knowlen was tried in Canada. The Canadian government paid for Marshal Fisher to come and testify at the trial. It was revealed during the the trial that Knowlen was caught because he was recognized on a train between Livermore and Humboldt by a local doctor, Dr. Bowes, who knew him from when he had lived in Eagle Grove. The trial only took one day and the jury voted 9-3 for first degree murder. He was sentenced to fifteen years and went directly from the trial to prison.

Spring City – Colfax

Mr. & Mrs. Ed Gleim and Mrs. W. A. Lincoln of Dysart returned recently from Colfax, Iowa, where they had been for treatment of rheumatism.

Hotel Colfax – Colfax, Iowa

The History of Colfax

Mineral Water

Nestled along the bluffs of the Skunk River of Central Iowa, the small town of Colfax boasts a big and surprising history. Originally platted in 1866 as a stagecoach and railroad stop, Colfax rocketed to world prominence with the discovery of artesian mineral water springs in 1875. News of the mineral water attracted several doctors, pharmacists, hoteliers, and other enterprising business people to move to the community to capitalize on the ‘life giving properties’ of mineral water.  The mineral water industry soon brought in thousands of visitors a year for about a forty year period, who came to bathe and drink the medical properties of the water and enjoy the clear air of a rural setting.

In its heyday, Colfax became known as “Spring City,” “Little Carlsbad of the Midwest,” and the “Saratoga of the West” comparing the town to famous spa resorts of Europe and America. Colfax sported eighteen mineral springs, four bottling works, nine spa hotels, and other industries that sprang up around the burgeoning economy of the time. In 1900, Hotel Colfax, the largest hotel, registered 13,000 guests. In 1904, Hotel Colfax went through a $600,000 ($17M in today’s money) Spanish Mission style renovation making it one of the premier hotels in the nation. Hotel Colfax was so large that it had its own train station, trolley, power plant, and six-hole golf course. Colfax’s bottling works bottled plain, carbonated, and flavored water (with unique flavors such as ‘iron and celery’ and ‘sarsaparilla’) and shipped the water across the country to be sold as health tonics in pharmacies and hospitals.  The mineral water tourism industry created the need for public entertainment and a 2,000-seat outdoor auditorium, dining hall, and camping grounds were built to host The Chautauqua and Methodist Epworth League traveling entertainment circuits. Performers, singers, lecturers, orchestras, and religious speakers came from around the world to entertain and educate Colfax citizens and guests during the summer months.

Unfortunately, World War I, The Great Depression, and modern medicine brought about the end of the mineral water industry for Colfax.  Many of the great hotels fell into disrepair or were destroyed by fire. In 1933, the iconic gazebo at Mineral Springs Park was constructed by local volunteers and unskilled labor from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) to commemorate the once illustrious industry. Now, Colfax has memorialized its unique past by creating the Spring City Commercial Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and local volunteers are always looking for ways to preserve and celebrate Colfax’s past.

Copied from colfaxia.gov

Local News


During the 1910s the local papers occasionally ran stories of people either shooting or trapping wolves. Most of these appears to have occurred near the Wolf Creek area north of town. According to a report by David W.W. Aller and Paul L. Errington, the bounty system for the control of wildlife started in 1817. These laws in the United Stated were based on traditional laws in Europe. In 1840, the governor signed an “act to encourage the destruction of wolves” into law. Counties could offer 50c to $3 for wolves over 6 months old and 25c to $1.50 for younger animals. After statehood was achieved in 1846 these laws remained in effect with changes in pay amounts and rules being added or modified over the years. All of these programs were a strain on the state and county treasuries however, pressure from farmers, ranchers and hunters of small game and birds kept them going. In 1913 the legislature enacted a state -wide law increasing the bounty to $20 for adult wolves and $4 for whelps – the highest rates in Iowa’s history. This led to problems with “wolf farming” whereby individuals were keeping whelps or in some cases breeding whelps to adulthood in order to be paid the higher premium. By 1916, those individuals faced stiff fines if caught trying to breed wolves for profit. In 1923 the entire bounty system was revamped. New rates were set for wolf bounties in 1945 which remained in effect until at least 1961 although very few of these bounties were claimed during the years 930s-1960s. Today there are no breeding wolf packs in Iowa however, there are in surrounding states and the DNR states it is reasonable to assume that some of these will travel into and through the state. They are currently a protected species.

Throughout the history of Iowa, bounties have been offered for many different animals. Those of us who grew up with depression era parents may have heard stories of claiming bounties for gopher feet, crows and starlings from the county to supplement family incomes.

Waller and Errington: The Bounty System in IowalPublished by UNI ScholarWorks, 1961


Farm Report

Church News


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Dysart Canning Company

A Small Town Story

According to an article in the Dysart Reporter on April 9, 1914, the first canning factory in Iowa was established in 1860 with an output of one million cans. By 1914, the state was producing one-forth of the sweet corn for the entire country.


“The factory wheels are ready to turn and when the season opens their hum will be heard mingling with the rattling cans, rolling trucks, and rumbling wagons coming and going”

April 20, 1906 Traer Star Clipper

The Dysart Canning Company was located on the fifth block of the Crisman Addition on lots 1-5, on the southwest corner of the intersection of Grant and Estelle Streets, just north of the railroad tracks in Dysart, Iowa. Later this was the site of the Pioneer Seed Company. Based on a lawsuit filed in 1917 it is known that the land for the factory was acquired from H. Walton and his wife who in 1902 acquired the land from J.J. Walton, J.W. Crisman, Christian Fike and Harrison, Yeiser & Co.

Built in Less Than Three Months

The plant was further described as a “space of ground about 185 x 72 feet and consist(ed) of the following: main building 32 x 60, two full stories in height, in the lower room of which are the machinery and tomato peeling rooms and on the upper floor the storage room for empty cans, etc. To this building is attached an L addition 32 x 40, which contains the process room and the boiler and engine room. Running from this addition is an open cooling floor 40 x 40 which consists of a platform about five feet high. At the end of this is the warehouse, a closed building 40 x 48. Beside these buildings there is a husking shed 28 x 40 from which a chain carrier runs to the main building. The factory is equipped with a 15 h.p. engine and a 50 h.p. boiler, which are of the usual capacity for a factory of this size and undoubtedly large enough. The total cost of the factory was a little less than $13,000. Work on the buildings was started on January 15, 1906, and on April 6th everything was completed, a little over two and a half months in all.” In June of that same year, the canning company received a load of lumber from Washington state with which to construct boxes and crates.

Steady Progress Through the First Decade

In the following years, a steady trajectory of improvements was seen with increasingly more acres being either purchased or contracted as well as additions to the plant. In 1907, green beans were added to the corn and tomatoes that were already being canned. By April of that year, the company had secured contracts for 100 acres of tomatoes as opposed to the thirty they had the previous years. Reports from the railroad depot showed that products were being sent to distant locations like Oklahoma and San Francisco. In 1910 participating farmers growing on contract included John Brandau, Will Lindeman and H.P. Jensen. 1911 was reported as a bumper year for the canning factory, producing about 75,000-80,000 cans.

Dysart Reporter April 19, 1909

The decade of 1910 was marked by steady growth. The officers of the Canning Company in 1912 were listed as H.P. Jensen, D. Lindeman, Ervin Moeller, E.F. Douglass, F.F. Trottnow, John Messer and H. Christiansen. A 40 x 100-foot storeroom was added.  In 1914, Henry Hansen and William Rueppel’s names were added to the board of directors. That same year the plant was wired for electric service and a new boiler with a much larger capacity was installed. 

The Canning Factory is Sold
Dysart Reporter July 19, 1917

In February of 1917, by a two-thirds majority vote, the company was dissolved. Almost simultaneously to the United States’ entrance into World War I, the business was sold to the Waterloo Canning Company established in 1914 with George E. Lichty as president.

“To the Patrons of the Dysart Canning Company: As new owners of The Dysart Canning Company you are interested in knowing something about us, our plans, etc. With the addition of the Dysart plant, we now have in Iowa four modern canning factories located at Waterloo, Dyersville, Hamburg and Dysart. You may be interested in knowing that Iowa produces 20 percent of all the sweet corn packed, and leads every other state, Illinois being second.

Regarding the Dysart plant, it is our desire to double the capacity of this plant in 1918, and this we can do with your cooperation. Sweet corn factories are valuable in any community giving a home market for one of the most profitable crops. A cash market established before the seed is planted so that you as a grower do not have to guess at what you will receive for your crop. The price this year $10.00 per ton is 43 percent higher than one year ago. A canning factory keeps the money at home and is a real community builder, furnishing employment to home people.”

Dysart reporter April 19, 1914

The letter went on to provide quite specific instruction to farmers on how to plant and grow sweet corn. An endorsement of the benefits of the fodder left from the growing the crop was given. The financial benefits are again stressed. The letter ends;

“Now we realize that we cannot operate canning factories successfully without your cooperation and we earnestly desire to make the Dysart plant one of the best in Iowa. We will do our best if you will cooperate with us. Please don’t depend upon your neighbor to do this cooperating, but grow sweet corn and grow it this year, and let us get acquainted and get off to a good start….” Yours very truly, WATERLOO CANNING COMPANY

Dysart REporter April 19, 1917

 A list of farmers who had contracted with them to grow corn was included in that story.

Dysart Reporter April 19, 1917

In June, the following ad was found in the paper.

Dysart Reporter June 7, 1917
Wartime Protections

In 1918, as a result of the war, the Waterloo Canning Company was informed that 25% of their production for the year would be required by the US Army and Navy. It was predicted the Armed Services would be taking eighteen million cans of corn from Iowa alone. More corn was contracted than at any other time in their history. A call was put out for help in the canning process encouraging people to help themselves earn money and “help Uncle Sam secure the necessary food for our boys oversees and our domestic army as well.”

US Department of Agriculture Poster World War I

The plant was inspected by a US Naval officer for safety. The company stated “Each employee will be be required to take the Oath of Allegiance. The oath, however, is something which all true American men and women are glad to sign.” Forty men and women were employed at between $3.50 and $6.00 per hour. In the later part of 1918, the nearby town of Traer started negotiating with the Waterloo Canning Company for another plant in that community and despite many conversations over multiple years, this did not come to pass.

Dysart Reporter August 8, 1918
The 1920s

The plant expanded again in 1922 but by 1926 the Waterloo Canning Company was in receivership.  In February of 1928, the company announced whereas they had been operating five farms in the Dysart area for several years, they had decided to discontinue operation of three farms owned by John Mehlhaus, Theodore Jessen and Charles Goken. A public sale was held at the Goken farm on February 28 including horses, mules, cattle, milking equipment and much more.

The canning factory had its own well which could not keep up with the demand and so a new water reservoir was added in the city in 1929. Drought conditions in 1929 led to a much smaller yield than in previous years. 1,100 acres were contracted at a rate of $12.00 per ton and approximately 100 people were employed at the plant that year. The stock market crashed in October ushering in The Great Depression.

Dysart Brick and Tile
The 1930s

In February of 1930, the land adjacent to the plant, previously part of the Dysart Brick and Tile Company was purchased for $1,000.  Only one kiln was left on that property’; all other buildings having been destroyed by fire.

The land was needed for the storage of other waste created in the canning process. Pigs were kept to deal with this waste products. Due to drought, a lower yield was experienced and production had to be sped up to prevent the corn from drying out. One hundred twenty men canned 60,000 cans of corn in less than three weeks.

In 1931, Tom Thiesen’s 320 acre farm north of Dysart was leased bringing the total acreage leased by the company up to 920. Other farms under lease were two Lally farms and the Rueppel farm. To help offset some of the losses they had encountered, the company increased the number of cattle they were keeping on the leased farms, feeding these on grass and corn stalks. They were also considering expanding into pea production for diversification. Due to the depression gripping the country, there was no shortage of available workers and the plant employed between 150 to 160 people for the season. Continued drought left much of the corn too dry to be acceptable for canning. In all between 1500 and 1600 acres of sweet corn had been planted. The output was considerably larger than before due to improvements in the plant. However, the consumer price for corn had dropped from 90 cents per can to 75 cents. The Waterloo Canning Company was starting to shows real signs of financial trouble.

Traer Star Clipper September 11, 1931
A Company In Trouble

Confirmation of trouble for the Waterloo Canning Company came in 1932. In April the company announced that they would still be operating in Dysart but that acreage would be greatly reduced. Later in the summer it was reported that due to the closure of the Commercial National Bank in Waterloo the company had no financing plan and was reaching out to banks in Chicago. This, of course, was a hard blow to area farmers hoping to supplement their already limited incomes.

Traer Star Clipper Augusts 26, 1932

At the end of August, the canning company announced that they were not able to secure financing and therefore no pack would occur in Dysart. The corn was allowed to dry in the fields and was harvested for livestock feed. Around Thanksgiving time, local farmers Dan and James Lally reached a settlement with the Waterloo Canning Company over notes given for rent. The Lallys settled for farming equipment, all of the crops (corn and soybeans) not yet harvested on their farms, and livestock including 40 head of cattle, a dozen or more mules, and about 25 hogs.

Traer Star Clipper November 25, 1932
Enter the Continental Can Company

Across the country, in 1933, very few canning plants operated and Dysart’s plant was no exception. By 1934, the country had pretty much used up the surplus of canned goods from 1932 and the future looked a little brighter for companies engaged in that enterprise. However, this bright outlook did not exist in Dysart.

In 1934 the Waterloo Canning Company which had been in receivership for over a year was taken over by the Continental Can Company. Area residents watched the situation play out over the course of several months, not knowing if the plant would ever open again. It was unlikely that the new owners would operate the plant themselves as they were not in the canning business. They were in the business of equipping plants with machinery as well as furnishing cans. Meetings were held in February with local capitalists looking for financial backing which did not materialize. In June the sale was completed with Continental acquiring all of the properties at Dysart, Waterloo and Dyersville for just $52,000. They acquired the canning plants to settle the debts owed to them by the previous owner. In August creditors of the Waterloo Canning Company including some from Dysart were called to a bankruptcy negotiation meeting were it was announced that the Dyersville plant was sold for just $2,800. Shortly thereafter, Rath Packing Company bought the Waterloo plant, a convenient acquisition for them as the two properties were adjoining.

Rath Packing Company

The year 1935 looked much more hopeful for the factory and also the people of Dysart who were anxious to keep this large employer and outlet for crops. Although it had been announced the plant was leased by Mr. Reed of Waterloo, it was actually leased to the Hawkeye Canning Company which was based out of Des Moines. Newer equipment was brought in from the now closed Waterloo plant. Improvements were made to the building which had been sitting idle since 1932. One hundred contracts were let out to 99 farmers in the Dysart area at $7.00 per ton, significantly lower than previously paid. The average size of the contract was 10 ½ acres. Still, the company had no problem finding farmers willing to participate in the leasing.

The plant planned to hire 150 workers, half of which were to be women. They had 250 applicants. Per company policy, all 150 hired workers came from Dysart. Too much rain and cool temperatures in the Spring just after planting decreased the yield. Some of the corn had to be replanted. As the plant had set idle, some of the mechanical equipment failed. Once up and running the plant ran 15 hours per day. In the husking room the women were only allowed a five minute break every hour and two extra workers were added to cover those short breaks. The third largest pack ever was realized that year with just over two million cans of corn being packed. A total of $11,000 was paid out in wages. The participating farmers were paid between $7.00 and $28.00 per acre. Additionally, farmers were offered corn-hog checks covering the acres taken out of seed corn production.

What Is a Corn-Hog Ratio?

The corn-hog ratio was a system originally designed to calculate the profitability of raising hogs versus growing and selling corn feed. It was a comparison that took the price of a hog and divided it by the cost of the corn needed to sustain the hog. In this case, the cost of raising sweet corn versus seed corn.


Storage of the canned goods seemed to always be a problem for the Dysart plant and made it difficult for the company to hold their goods until market conditions improved. At the beginning of October, the farmers were paid one-half of what was owed to them minus the cost of the seed. The balance being paid in December.

Traer Star Clipper September 20, 1936
Changing Rules

Starting in 1936, the federal government changed the corn-hog program for a new soil conservation program which was unveiled in April and May. Many farmers delayed their decision about whether they wanted to grow sweet corn until the details of that program were clear. Changes in how the farmers were to be paid were also instituted by the Hawkeye Canning Company whereby the base rate for the corn was lowered to between $6.50 to $7.00 per ton and a premium added for high grade corn. The total number of acres was decreased to 900 from 1050 the previous year. An extensive explanation of the grading system was published in the local papers. Overall, the market for sweet corn was not good going into the 1936 growing season. There was a large surplus of canned corn which had gone unsold from 1935 already available.

In April of 1936, the Waterloo Canning Company’s bankruptcy case was finally resolved and those who were owed money were paid out at 1.7% of the total owed. Among those in the area who received these small payments were local merchants and employees as well as the Town of Dysart itself.

By May of 1936 most of the contracts had been signed by area farmers, although it was noted that the sign up was much slower than it had been before. A conflict with the new conservation program was sited. As had always been the case, the canning company provided all the seed and determined when each farmer would plant their crop so that the canning process could run on schedule. For reasons that are not clear, that year almost all of the growers were located southeast and northeast of town. The growers were:

Traer Star Clipper June 6, 1936

Farming is a difficult business and what looked like it was going to be a bumper crop in May was clearly struggling by July due to intense heat and prolonged drought. The crops were also heavily damaged by grasshoppers and cutworms. Rain late in August improved things a little bit but not much. In the end only 25,083 cases could be packed (compared to 80,600 the year before). This was the second smallest output ever. The plant employed about 75-100 people with total wages of $6,000. To add insult to injury, because of the drought the price of canned good skyrocketed however, the Hawkeye Canning Plant could not benefit from this price increase as their pack had been sold before canning at a contracted price.

In the Spring of 1937, the canning company again started signing contracts for one thousand acres with new terms which were supposed to be more attractive to the farmers many of whom had not liked the grading system. The company was switching over to hybrid seeds which promised better yield.

Dysart Reporter March 5, 1937

In hindsight, it appears the company was having a more difficult time than before getting farmer to sign the contract. More advertising appeared in the Dysart and Traer papers. Incentives were added for early signing and a promise of payment right after the pack was extended. They also started casting a wider net for farmers including Traer, Geneseo, Buckingham and other townships in Blackhawk County. After a meeting of the Dysart Commercial Club in April, that group posted their support of the plant in the Dysart Reporter recognizing the economic impact the plant had on the local economy.

Traer Star Clipper March 5, 1937

Soaking rains in May provided hope that the yield would be much improved from the disastrous 1936 season. For the first time in many years there was no need to replant any of the fields. The corn at Claude Sawyer’s farm southeast of town was reported to be knee high by the last week in June.

Hope springs eternal in the world of farming and in July Charles W. Fort who was the superintendent of the plant stated the sweet corn crop was “the best I’ve ever seen.” Large numbers of people applied for work at the factory and about 160 men and women were hired, most of whom were Dysart residents. A “threshing ring” of twenty-two men worked their way from farm to farm bringing in the crop.  The first sweet corn brought in that year was from the O.J. Hayward and Charles Hill farms.

Double Tragedy Strikes

All was going quite well with the pack until tragedy struck on 8/14/1937 when August Filgraf, age 59, was crushed by the machinery in the conveyor pit while salvaging feed for cows. According to the Dysart Reporter,

“It had been his habit to secure some feed for his cows and pigs each morning during the canning season, before the plant opened for work. He had taken one wheelbarrowful of corn to his home near the factory Saturday morning and had returned for a second load. When the machinery was turned on preparatory to starting the day’s pack, neither Howard Marks, who threw the switch in another part of the plant, nor Emil Keen, who was in charge of the unloading shed were aware of Mr. Filgraf’s presence in the pit. Mr. Filgraf was employed at the factory, but in another part of the building, and only the foremen were supposed to be in the plant at the time of the accident.”

A week later, the town was again rocked to learn that Howard Mark, despondent over his role in the death of August, had committed suicide. His body was found by Superintendent Charles Ford and John Reed, the field agent for the plant hanging in a garage. Throughout the previous week, Howard had been questioned several times and by several people representing the insurance company for the plant. All agreed that the accident was not his fault but he remained despondent, nevertheless. Originally from Dallas County, Iowa, he had lived in Dysart for many years along with his wife, Laura (Reimer). They had one son. The son died in 1926 at the age of 16 and his wife three years after that.

1937 Pack Is Successfully Completed

A labeling room was added to the west end of the building expanding the factory’s total footprint. As soon as the corn was canned it was sent to far away places like New York City and San Francisco and Los Angeles. The total pack was between 85,000 to 90,000 and although much better than the year before, it fell about 10,000 cans below what was expected earlier in the summer. The pack took about a month and yielded the workers a total of $13,500 in wages, much of that money spent right in Dysart. Unlike previous years, the farmers were paid right away in September and most made more money than they had previously.

February 25, 1938
A Surprise Ending

March of 1938 arrived with the promise of another good season for the people of Dysart and the contracting process started anew. The company advertised in the local papers for farmers stating an expectation that 800-900 acres would be contracted. The county had an abundance of canned corn in storage from last year’s pack and so all the factories were contracting for less acreage. The Hawkeye Canning Company had already decided not to operate the Dyersville factory and a canning factory at Garrison was closed for the season. On April 10, the Waterloo Courier reported that the contract process was being delayed because of a need for more information about the government’s allotment program.

Waterloo Courier April 17, 1938

Then, on April 15, 1938, the Traer Star Clipper broke the news that the Hawkeye Canning Company would not operate the plant at Dysart that year and as it turned out, any year in the future. The Hawkeye Canning Company seemingly disappeared after that as no newspaper articles about the company could be found after April 17, 1938.

The factory sat vacant until 1941 when it was dismantled.

The News From Dysart & North Central Iowa – Last Week of March 1914

State News


Explosion at Buxton Coal Shaft

Two Men Lose Their Lives

An explosion at the Consolidated Coal Company at Buxton killed two men. Nineteen mules died in the explosion and timbers were blown from their place on one side of the shaft for a distance of more than half a mile. The dead are John Taylor, timber-man, 37 years old and John Williams, pumper, 33 years old. Both men leave families. The blowing out of the track, the destruction of the roof and damaging of timber will cause suspension of work in the mines for several months. There is some doubt if the mine will ever reopen. The mine employed 300 men.

Buxton was located in the southeastern portion of Iowa and was unique in that it was a mining community also because the majority of the population was Africa American. To learn more about Buxton may we suggest the series of articles found here:

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Sterilization of Prisoners

Rudolph Davis, a convict from Linn County, currently serving ten years for burglary, has filed suit against enforcement of the Iowa sterilization law. The case has been filed in Keokuk. He states that he has reason to believe that the prison authorities are about to perform the operation of sterilization on him. Several defendants have been named including three members of the board of parole, the warden and the prison physician. Davis charges that the vasectomy law which was passed by the last legislature is unconstitutional and is in conflict with established laws. Judge Smith McPherson has granted a temporary injunction against enforcement in this case.

According to a report by Lutz Kaelber, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Vermont, Iowa was the ninth state to pass a sterilization law in the United States.  The first law was enacted in 1911 and applied to “criminals, idiots, feeble-minded, imbeciles, lunatics, drunkards, drug fiends, epileptics, syphilitics, etc.”. It allowed directors of the mental institutions to determine whether or not an inmate ought to be sterilized.   It was compulsory for those “inmates twice convicted of a felony, or sex-offense other than ‘white slavery.’” For the offense of “white slavery,” (prostitution) one conviction made sterilization mandatory

It was soon repealed and replaced by a second law 1913. As a result of the case reported above, Davis v. Berry, the second law was declared unconstitutional. Subsequently, the third law was created and called for the need of written consent before an operation could be conducted. It also eliminated criminals from the list of offenses requiring sterilization.

Sterilizations under Iowa’s Eugenics Laws continued until 1963 and in all 1,910 people were sterilized.

For more information we recommend the following:



1913 World Series

Baseball season is drawing near and interest in the national game is increasing every year. “Major league teams are now at the southern training camps getting in shape for the great struggle which will be in progress in a short time.” The Cedar Rapids Republican advertises that they will be covering the national game and all the local action.

William Harrison von Lackum

The Daily Iowan, a publication of the University of Iowa, reports that local boy, Harry von Lackum has won an “I” in basketball. Harry was on the regular varsity team this year and played in most of the games. Steps are being taken at the University to start awarding a certificate for the “I” award along with the varsity letter. The board feels that a man leaving college is unlikely to continue to wear his letter sweater but a certificate can be framed and kept as a more permanent memento.

von Lackum family home, Dysart, Iowa
Dr. and Mrs. Herman (Emma) von Lackum

Harry von Lackum was a son of Dr. Herman J. von Lackum, long time physician in Dysart, Iowa. Born in 1861 on a farm in Wisconsin, he and his family moved to several locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. His father, Peter von Lackum eventually became a doctor and set up a practice in Waterloo. Herman also became a doctor in 1886 and returned to Waterloo to practice alongside his father. He was called to the Dysart area to assist with an operation on Mrs. Andreas Schreiber and remained with her for about a week. Shortly thereafter he opened a practice in Dysart above the Newt Stewart Harness Shop on Main Street which eventually burned. He married Emma Louisa Kullmer on August 6, 1890 and they had five children; 3 boys and 2 girls. In addition to his role as physician, Dr. von Lackum was very involved in the Board of Education. He was a doctor for 62 years, retiring on November 15, 1949. He passed away in 1950 and his wife passed away in 1959. All three of their sons became doctors.

Stepping stones in time


New Manager for the Brick and Tile Company

Charles J. Swift of Riverside, Iowa, has been appointed manager of the Dysart Brick and Tile Company and has arrived here to take up his new duties. He has had several years’ of experience in the business. From now on the plant will operate with a force of 12 men and will work at maximum capacity for the coming year.

H.W. Belke who was the vicitim of a feather theft reported earlier, has now purchased the Fred Matthiesen building and lot on Main Street. He will fix this up and use it for his butter and egg business.

1914 Studebaker Advertisement

Cars, Cars, Cars!

Throughout the country, it seems everyone is talking about cars. An increasing number of dealerships are emerging throughout the county. Everyone wants to know who is buying a car and what kind. Also of note to the residents are the number of people taking excursions in their automobiles.

Local men who have recently purchased automobiles include: the Lincoln Brothers, A.D. Lawyer, Gottleib Kolbe, Frank Burhenn, and Adam Schnell. Meanwhile, the Hullopeter Brothers who recently purchased a farm just north of Dysart are attempting to sell a Harley Davidson 13 Model 5 horse chain drive motorcycle stating they need the money!

Unknown date and persons on early Harley Davidson motorcycles

Farmer Report

The Dysart Canning Company is looking for farmers who want to plant sweet corn under contract with them. Contracts can be made either at the Dysart Savings Bank or at T.B. Grain Co. $7.00 per ton will be paid for corn this season.

Church News

Although not specifically titled at such, this appears to be a listing of housing assignments for the attendees at the conference.

For more information on the Evangelical Church in Dysart, please see: the-news-from-dysart-and-north-central-iowa-last-week-of-february-1914


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March 29, 1974

Forty-eight years ago today, I was in my Sophomore English Class when there was a light knock on the door. Mrs. Miller, my English and voice teacher turned to answer the knock. I remember she stepped out into the hallway to speak to whoever had interrupted our class. When she returned, I had a brief recognition that her expression had changed. I did not recognize the look then. I soon became very familiar with it. I don’t remember now if she approached my desk or called my name from the front of the room. I do know that I was singled out from my classmates and informed I was needed in the office. With every eye in the room now focused on me, I walked to the front of the room and out of the door, never to be the same again.

In retrospect, someone, whose identity I cannot recall now, walked with me to the office and this should have been a clue that this trip was not about my behavior. However, in my experience kids were only sent to the office because they are in trouble, so it seems natural that my mind was racing to recall what I might have done to warrant the trip. Getting into trouble in school was not a normal course of events for me. My companion and I walked down the hallway in silence and my eyes were focused on the floor.

When we reached the office, I was invited into the Superintendent’s office, a place I don’t think any of us kids had ever been before and there I was confronted with several familiar faces. Again, I can’t tell you exactly who was there. I believe Mr. Plank whose office we were now in was there. It seemed like every seat in the room was taken but that is likely an exaggeration. Most significantly the pastor from our church, Pastor Swiggum and his wife Jean, who also served as school secretary were present. Probably at this moment my fear of getting in trouble was replaced by sheer dread of what was coming. I cannot tell you how it was said or by whom, although it was likely Pastor Swiggum, but it was then I learned that my dad was dead. I don’t know what words were used. Was it died, passed away, gone? I don’t remember. What I do remember was that my dad was dead, and I was needed at home.

What an awful job for anyone, to inform a young person that their world has been altered forever. I have a lot of compassion for those adults now but for many years, I was very angry about what came next. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal when I type it out, but here it is: they let me go back to my locker and get my stuff. Seems like a stupid thing to be upset about, right?

I remember that at the time, I was hell-bent on doing that. It was the birthday of a good friend and I wanted to wish her a happy birthday. I wanted to get my things. I probably wanted to pretend that none of this was happening. Maybe my overly dramatic teen-self wanted to make a good show of being strong and brave. What I could not anticipate and what they did not perceive was that by doing so, I became what I perceived as a spectacle for all to observe and the memory of that bothered me for many years.  At the time, I might just as well have been walking through the school naked like someone’s reoccurring nightmare. I felt exposed and vulnerable and different, the cardinal sin of any teen. The younger me felt the adults in charge should have known this was a bad idea and stopped me from going.

Losing my dad at 15 changed my life and I was different. That walk through the lunchroom on March 29, 1974, didn’t make it so. It was just a tangible event that I could focus on and direct my anger at. In a town made up almost entirely of two parent families, I now only had one parent. Except for my friend, Jan, who had lost her father, the only other kids that I knew without fathers had divorced mothers which had already branded them as different. I hated being different. Like all teens, I just wanted to fit in.

What I couldn’t see then and likely did not see for many years is that my contemporaries were all struggling with that feeling of being different. Their struggles just weren’t as outwardly apparent as mine and since I was buried in my own pain, I did not see it. Over the years some of them have revealed those struggles and I have been surprised by them. Many have not told me directly, but I have surmised things based on what I have heard and seen in the years since. I know now that none of us gets through life without some feeling of being disconnected and we all have our own moments where we feel vulnerable and different. So today, on the 48th anniversary of my trip through that school lunchroom, I can remember it without cringing and use it to remind myself that you just never really know what people are dealing with but you can be assured they are dealing with something and that makes all of us pretty much the same.

The News From Dysart and North Central Iowa – First Week of March 1914


Traer to Get Game Preserve

Tama County’s Pheasant and Quail Nursery


“Traer gets the game preserve of Tama County. The timber land west of town offered a very desirable spot and E. D. Sawyer and others got busy with the result that a contract was sent on by the state game warden to be signed by the property owners, with the understanding that the preserve would be located here if the lease was signed by all the owners of the land included. Mr. Sawyer has thirty or more names on the lease. These parties contract to prohibit all hunting upon their premises for five years and to protect the birds in all possible ways. The preserve will include about 6, 000 acres, much of which is covered with timber. It takes in the McEwen farm and stretches two or three miles west and north. The state will put up signs along the boundary. In April or May a large number of pheasant and probably a lot of quail will be brought here and liberated within the preserve. Great things are anticipated in the way of increased flocks with the five years. These pheasant are imported from Hungary and they multiply rapidly when protected. ” Traer Star Clipper March 6, 1914.

The same week, The Dysart Reporter, ran an article that sportsmen in Boone County were also working to establish a preserve at a place called Hat Grove, halfway between Boone and Des Moines along a stream of water called the Big Creek Waters. Another game preserve was secured east of Moravia consisting of 6500 acres.

In June of 1914, the Traer Star Clipper reported that the game warden sent 120 eggs of the Chinese ring-necked pheasant to Traer which were given out to farmers in the vicinity to be hatched.

Originally an Asian species, the ring-necked
pheasant was successfully introduced into North
America in 1881 and into Iowa about 1900. Iowa’s
first ring-necks were introduced accidentally when
a severe windstorm wrecked the pens of game
breeder William Benton of Cedar Falls releasing
approximately 2,000 birds. Benton’s birds spread
north and west and constitute Iowa’s founding
stock. The DNR began stocking pheasants around
1910 with most regions of Iowa receiving large
stockings of ring-necks by 1930. The ring-neck has
since become the most important gamebird in Iowa
with an estimated statewide population of 4 to 6
million birds.


Editor’s Note: The history of introducing pheasants to Iowa is, of course, more than can be covered in this posting. For readers desiring more information, I recommend:


by Allen L. Farris

Eugene D. Klonglan, Richard C. Nomsen

Click to access book_ring_necked_pheasant.pdf

Iowa conservation commission

Patent War Closes Grinnell Aeroplane


“The Wright company of which Orville Wright, the pioneer airman, is president, has served notice on the Grinnell Aeroplane Company to cease manufacturing aeroplanes. The demand is based on the recent decision of the US Circuit Court of Appeals in which it decided as an infringement against the Wright Company patents any heavier than air flying machine which uses a rudder with the wings.” Dysart Reporter March 5, 1914

The Wright Company Patent Wars have been written about extensively. Many believe that this slowed the development of airplanes in the US significantly. Readers desiring more information can find many articles, podcasts, and books by searching the internet. I found this website particularly helpful in understanding the lawsuits.


Wright stories.com

Population Decline

“State officials are seriously discussing the loss of 15,000 men from Iowa in 1912 and 1913, as reported by Adjutant General Guy E. Logan, and many suggestions are made regarding plans to overcome the reported loss in population. The Department of Agriculture has suggested that moving pictures of Iowa should be manufactured to be exhibited. It is the idea to make the pictures entertaining and at the same time create a desire among those who see them to come to Iowa. Another ideas of this department to attract people to the state is to issue booklets by counties giving the main points regarding each of the ninety-nine counties of the state. Each division of the state would be described independently of the remainder of the state, so that the booklets could be used for local as well as state advertising. The suggestion that the governor appoint a commission to study the causes of loss of population and to recommend a remedy was also made. Adjutant General Logan states that the loss of 15,000 fighting men in the last two years, or 22,000 in the last five years is a serious situation for the 22,000 represent good strong healthy men whose services are needed to build up Iowa. All of these men were between the age of 18 and 45 and were able-bodied. A loss of this many toilers represents a far greater loss than a simple falling off of the population by 22,000.” Dysart Reporter March 5, 1914

Local News

Mayor of Dysart Gets Into a Very Public Fight

Dysart Reporter March 5, 1914

Trouble ensued on Monday morning when the Mayor of Dysart, Dr. John P. Redmond attempted to move into the residence of Mr. and Mrs. E.A. Braden and family. Mrs. Braden is the sister of Dr. Redmond. Last fall, the Braden’s began construction of a cottage. The plan was that when the home was finished, Dr. Redmond would move into the John Redmond home where the Braden’s have been living. The Braden’s new house was not finished in time for the planned March 1st move. The Braden’s have been living with John and Mrs. Braden’s father two blocks east of Main Street for the past seven years. No notice was given to them to move

Monday morning at about 7 a.m., Dr. Redmond crossed the street to the home were the Braden’s have been living carrying a large box. He was met on the porch by Braden at which time he announced his intention to move into the house that day. Braden let him know this would not be happening. Redmond had a screwdriver in his hand which he made a pass at Braden with; striking him in front of his left ear. At the same time, Braden struck Redmond, knocking him to the ground where he held Redmond until several men intervened. At that time, Redmond first attempted to use his powers as mayor to deputize the men who had come to help. Braden and his wife then left the scene and went to the hardware store. Redmond attempted to use a ball bat but this was taken away from him by the other men present. He then followed Mr. & Mrs. .Braden into the store wielding a club.

The marshal George Geyer had been called. When he arrived at the hardware store, Redmond ordered Geyer to take Braden to jail. Geyer could do nothing but obey the order. Before they left the store, Redmond refused to make out bonds for Braden and insisted he be taken to jail. This was all witnessed by several men who were in the store. Redmond then went to the gun case stating that he wanted a revolver. He was told that one would not be sold to him. Once he saw that Braden was in jail, he began moving his possessions into the house.

The excitement on the street had reached the level of white heat and a delegation of men threatened to break the jail to pieces to get Braden out. Redmond ordered Geyer to bring Braden to the office where he made out a bond ordering Braden to appear in front of the grand jury as well as a peace bond

W.J. Dysart, the justice of the peace, was consulted and ordered that the bonds were illegal and that Braden would need to be re-arrested. He was re-arrested at which time C. J. Schmidt and Ed Heineman swore out bonds for $200 promising that Braden would appear for trial. The charge was “assault and battery with the intent to do great bodily harm”. To most of those present, Braden was just trying to protect his family and was unarmed when he was attacked with the screwdriver.

Even after all of that, Redmond remained determined to move into the house. About one hundred men were present by this time and Braden invited all of them into the house. With one hundred men against him, Redmond could do nothing. During the approximate half hour that Braden was in jail, Dr. Redmond had moved a bed into one of the bedrooms and put a few things into the cellar.

Redmond called Dr. Carl from Garrison to come and tend to his wounds. Dr. Carl arrived about 10:30 p.m. and performed an examination. Several stories are circulating about the extent of his injuries. The incident occurred on Monday and as of Thursday, Dr. Redmond was still in bed. Dr. Gessner tended to Braden’s injuries. The wound in front of his ear was about one-half inch deep and lay right over a large artery which if severed would have been much more serious.

A trial will be held on Friday. This will be a jury trial and the judge will be W.J. Dysart. M. J. Tobin of Vinton has been hired to represent Braden. Sentiments are running high in support of Braden. Most feel that Redmond had no right to start the trouble. His efforts to deputize spectators was poorly received. Recently, Braden had inquired about legal procedures to force a man to vacate a dwelling and he found that a family having a notice served on them has 38 days to get out. Braden had not received such a notice. Redmond had received notice that he was to vacate the property he was occupying but Dave Wilson was not pushing him to move out. In fact, he understood that Redmond would not be able to move until the Braden’s had moved out.

“The Gene Braden trial which was to result from the trouble which arose between Dr. J.P. Redmond and Gene Braden on Monday of last week did not take place for the reason that no one appeared against Braden. Dr. Redmond states that he was not informed of the trail and was entirely unaware that such proceedings were to be taken.

Dysart Reporter March 12, 1914

Social Happenings

Many Moves March First

Annual Moving Time Just Past – Many People Change Places of Residence

William Flechner who has been living at the John Kersten farm SE of town moved to a small town south of Des Moines. Charles Bridge has moved to the Kersten farm.

John Dilcher has moved from his farm SE of town to Waterloo. Ed Nyde who worked for Del Karr a few years ago has moved onto the Dilcher place from a farm near Washburn.

Herman Holtz moved from the Hartman Kersten farm to the Mrs. George Speck farm SW of Garrison. Hartman Kersten is moving back to the farm from Vinton and John will farm the place.

Chris Selk moved from his farm SE of town to the residence he purchased from Art Schuchart. Fred Selk moved from the Fulton Boyd farm to his father’s farm.

Charles Luze moved from the Fuoss farm to the Haefling farm NE of town. Henry Bauer vacated the place last week and moved to his farm near Waverly. Ben Pippert is now settled on the Fuoss farm.

Mike Meinhart who married Miss Libbie Hach last week is to occupy the Fulton Boyd farm vacated by Fred Selk. John Boyd has rented the farm and Meinhart will work for him.

Dr. Forward moved his household effects into the Charles Zobel place vacated by the W.W. Milne family last week.

George Thiele moved last Thursday to the farm east of town vacated by John Cohrt. Cohrt moved to the Henry R. Miller farm SE of town which Roy Waller vacated last fall. Charles Zobel moved yesterday from his residence in town to his farm east of town vacated by George Thiele.

Bert Burke and his wife have started housekeeping on the William Runyan farm east of town vacated by W. A. Sanford.

R.C. Hall moved his goods from the Charles Urmy residence to the W.D. Brandt place in the SW part of town and really belives that he has moved into a fine residence district. S. Barber has rented the Urmy property for the use of the blacksmith that he has hired.

Lee Murphy has rented the E. A. Huppert farm near Waterloo and will move there the first of next week. Verl Hite has rented the Siemens property which Murphy will vacate.

J.M. Tupper moved the last of the week into the J.G. Temple residence. F. W. Wallace moved into the place vacated by Tupper which he purchased last fall. Ray Johnson moved into the place vacated by Wallace which he has purchased. We understand that Mrs. Hubbard expects to live in her cottage vacated by Ray Johnson.

Art Schuchart moved from the south part of town to his new home two blocks west of Kranbuchl’s furniture store.

Clifford and Clarence Milne have started farming on the Andrew Milne place vacated by William Harms. Their grandfather is helping them get started. They are two good boys and though young will undoubtedly make good at farm management.

Are you dizzy yet? My vision of living in this small town in the 60s and 70s was that nothing ever changed much. Either I was wrong or the 1910s were a very different time than the 70s in terms of people moving around!


Dysart Reporter March 5, 1914

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The News From Dysart – Third Week of February 1914

Tama County Pioneers Celebrate Anniversary

Waterloo Courier February 26, 1914

Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Brash, currently of Jesup, recently celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary. Mr. Brash was born August 4, 1831, near Edenborough, Scotland. At the age of 3, he came to Canada with his family. At the age of 17, he returned to Scotland with the intention of going to Australia to seek his fortune in the mines. His mother persuaded him to return to Canada with them.

Mrs. Brash, whose maiden name was Isabella MacKilligan, was born in 1835. The couple married in 1855 near Blandford, Ontario. In 1869, the couple came to Iowa, arriving first in Cedar Rapids. They purchased a team and a wagon, loaded all of their belongings and started across the prairie some 45 to 50 miles west. They purchased lumber in Tama to build their first home and outbuildings. Their farm consisted of 332 acres and was located in the Northwest corner of Tama County.

The Waterloo Courier notes, “Mr. and Mrs. Brash have lived, to see Traer, Dysart, Reinbeck and Gladbrook grow into thriving little cities.” They retired from the farm and moved first to Reinbeck and then to Jesup where their daughter lives.

Iowa State Penitentiary Finds Success Paying Prisoners for Work

Paying prisoners for their work within the walls of the Fort Madison Penitentiary has now been tried long enough to prove the venture successful. Those convicts earning salaries are employed on the new cell house including electricians, wirers, plumbers, plasterers, steam fitters mechanics and iron workers.

Civil War Medals

Civil War Medal

Charles A. Wright of Keokuk is wearing the first medal to be procured in that area from the mint in accordance with the provision of an act of congress giving the old soldiers of the civil war a medal. The medal was established in 1905 commemorating the 40th anniversary of the war. To qualify a soldier had to serve between April 15, 1861, and April 9, 1865. The metal is both blue and grey signifying both the Union and Confederacy.

Business News

Stepping Stones in Time

H.P. Jensen has returned to Dysart to act as manager of the Tama Benton Grain Company. He is taking over for Will Milne who has retired. Nick Hansen, who is well known to Dysart people returned to Dysart last week and will work for Mr. Jensen at the grain office .Mr. Hansen came from California where he has been employed for some time by an oil company.

New Business Incorporated in Town

Ruthenberg Clothing Co. recently filed papers of incorporation. The amount of capital is $10,000.

Dysart Firm Changes Hands

J.H. Lindeman has sold his store to George H. McDevitt and Will J. Smythe of Cedar Rapids. The store will be closed until a thorough re-arrangement is completed, stocks re-marked and overhauled in preparation for the opening sale. This is one of the oldest stores throughout the section. H.P. Jensen who has just returned to manage the co-op was the first man connected with the store and later F. H. Freshe and Frank Meggers owned the store under the name of Freshe & Meggers and after Mr. Freshe retired, Will Meggers was taken into the firm. After the senior Mr. Meggers died, the name was changed to The Meggers Company. Mr. J.H. Lindeman only recently acquired the store and is now selling to the new owners.

Player Piano Now Available

C. B. White has installed an electric player piano in his café and when the electric plant is in operation, the piano is dispensing music to the public. It is an easy matter to hear good music. Just drop a nickel in the slot and the music starts

Farm News

Several hogs were shipped to Cedar Rapids and Chicago. Farmers whose hogs were shipped include Fred Elliott, George Bunz, Theo. Heckt, E. A. Huppert, George Melhouse, C. Seebach, Adam Herwig, Joe Raudabaugh, George Burr and Wilson Brothers. Other farmers shipping out livestock include Charles Vaubel, Jones Brothers, Ed Cox, Frank & Roy Burhenn, Ollie Jones and Earl Vaubel.

Hog Cholera Effects Local Iowa Farmers

Reports from around the state show that last year 2,827,907 hogs valued at $33,000,000 in were lost due to hog cholera. This is effecting all 99 counties. Benton County shows a loss of 22% of its hogs or a total loss of 28,000. Tama County suffered a loss of 28% of the hogs or 31,608 hogs.

Social Happenings

In a letter from Hans Wieck at Taopi, Minnesota, written Sunday he says; “It is snowing here today although the winter so far has been a soft one. With the exception of mother, who is sick now, we have been getting along nicely. There are plenty of good farms for sale here at good prices.”

Henry Gunderman and Carrie Thiele were married last week. They were married at the home of Charles Thiele on Main Street. The bride is the only daughter of one of Dysart’s most highly respected families. The groom is the son of Mrs. Henry Gunderman. Henry had a neat little house built on his farm south of Dysart this past summer and the couple will make their home there.

The town of Elberon currently has no houses available for rent or sale. The postmaster Jesse Shugart has moved his family to Marshalltown where they will remain as there is no place for them to live in that town currently.

About sixteen couples enjoyed a Valentine party at the home of Miss Agnes Kesl last Friday evening. The rooms were gaily decorated with red paper hearts and cupids, sixteen of the former were strung on a card across the open doorway and the gentlemen were given a bow and arrow and each in turn was requested to pierce one of the hearts on which he would find the name of the lady who was to be his partner for the evening. Much fun was had at the expense of the gentlemen’s skill with the bow and arrow but after many trials all succeeded in securing a heart and likewise a partner. The evening was a round of merriment from beginning to end. A delicious three course supper was served including brick ice cream through the center of which was a pink heart.

School News

Internet Image – Not from Dysart

The seventh grade enjoyed a bob ride Tuesday evening. Misses Wild and Zika chaperoned the crowd. The class is indebted to John Kersten for his kindness in furnishing the team and bob and doing the driving. The fourth and fifth graders also were treated to a bob ride by Walter Leo.


Advertising Directed at Your Aches and Pains

Maybe it’s because of the winter blahs but there is a lot of advertising this week directed at curing your ills!

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The News From Dysart – First Two Weeks of February 1914

1914 Valentine’s Day Postcard

City News

At a regular monthly meeting the Town Council reviewed a number of applications for the position of Superintendent of the Eclectic Light Plant. W.D Crowl was hired at a salary of $76.00 per month. George Geyer was hired as night man and will continue his position as Marshall. He will draw a salary of $75.00 per month. Mr Crowl has been at work doing electrical work since last November. He is a young man who came here from Chicago. Mr. Geyer has been in the employment of the city for seven years. Mr. Geyer will be performing the task of meter reading and collecting fees which he will deposit with Mr. Irvin Moeller at the Dysart Savings Bank. Residents who pay their fee before the 10th of the month will recieve a 10% discount on their bill. The electrical engineer will be in town next week to test the equipment. The planned date for opening the plant is February 18.

Business News

House Beautiful 1914

John Mowery is working on a proposal to supply Dysart people with ice at retail during the coming summer. His plan is to deliver by team every day, as Dysart currently has no ice dealer.

Farm News

Shroeder & Goken shipped eleven cars of cattle to the market. Carloads were received from Henry Fischer, E.N Riddlesbarger, August Jansen, Henry Siemens, Dengler and Schreck, Lorenz Lorenzen, Albert Witt, Rudolf Siemens and Ben Lorenzen.

G. J. Monroe purchased a yearling filly from W. H. Bechtold, of Breese, Illinois and had the colt shipped here last week by express. Mr. Monroe believes he has added a fine animal to his bunch of fine horses.

T. B. Grain Co & Marsau shipped nine carload of hogs from Dysart last week. They received carload lots from H.P. Jensen, John and Ed Powell, Dan Rinker, Peter Untiedt, Frank Bragonier and John Hack.

Dave Reddick shipped a load of fine horses from Dysart to Thomas at Waterloo. There were seventeen and he was paid an average of nearly $20 per head.

Wilson Bros. are advertising a closing out sale to be held Febuary 13th. They will sell 21 horses, 74 head of cattle, 100 hogs and their farm machinery.

Social Happenings

Fred Steaffler and his seven year old son of Sheyboygan, Wisc., came last week for a visit with Fred’s sisters Mrs. Charles (Emma) Burmeister, Mrs. Henry (Wilhelmina) Kusel and Mrs. John (Caroline) Selk. Mr. Steaffler has sold his farm in Wisconsin and he expects to spend several months here in Dysart.

Mr. and Mrs. Erwin Moeller of Dysart were in Cedar Rapids yesterday. They came to attend the meeting last night of the White Shrine No. 1 an organization recently formed by members of the Eastern Star. Mr. Moeller is cashier of the Dysart Savings bank

Editor’s Note: The Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem started in 1894 in Illinois. The organization continues today and their website says they provide funding for medical care.

School News

The Senior Class of 1914 is beginning their preparations for graduation. They had several evening meetings where they decorated the the west end of the assembly room in the school colors of black and orange which included a dinner of oyster stew. Their class motto is “Work and Win” They have agreed to perform a modernized version of the Merchant of Venice as their Senior Class play in April.

Iowa State Gazetteer and Business Directory 

Some of the students have been out looking at colleges for post graduation. Dewey Thiele recently traveled to Waterloo explore the Waterloo College of Commerce where he may go to improve his salesmanship skills. Jane Heinrich has gone on a visit to Iowa Falls where she is considering going after graduation.

Editor’s Note: For more information on the Waterloo Business College you can visit: https://www.lostcolleges.com/waterloo-business-college

In what may have served as inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock, a female teacher in Wales was recently attached by a hawk which flew in through an open window in her classroom. The bird was clinging to her blouse and was only dislodged with difficulty when a male teacher came to her rescue. The bird is now in a cage in one of the classrooms.



John Kavalier formerly employed as a section hand at Chelsea, Vining and Elberon, died at the home of his sister, Mrs. John Ash, in Dysart last week. He had been living with his sister for the past couple of years due to illness and had been seriously sick for several months. He was bedfast for only two weeks. Yellow jaundice was the cause.

John Kavalier was born in Bohemia in 1871. He came to America with his parents when he was six years old and settled with them near Vining, Iowa. He was married in 1895 to Mary Korble who died six years ago on the 8th of February. He was very superstitious about that date and stated to friends that if he could live till then he felt that he would get well. But he had not the strength to live till that date. Born to this union are the sons, George and Albert. When he was first married, he lived at Chelsea where he worked on the section. From there he moved to Vining and then to Elberon, continuing his section work at those places. He was at that work for about thirteen years. After his wife died, he has been making his home around Dysart with his relatives and working for those that needed his help.

Mr. Kavalier was well known among the farmers in this vicinity. He was a willing worker and those that have been used to his help will miss him greatly. Tuesday morning, a short prayer was made at the John Ash home by A. R. Kepple and the body was taken to Elberon where the funeral was held at the Methodist church. The services were conducted by Rev. Powell, of the Evangelical church of Vining, the same minister that conducted the services over the body of the mother of the two orphan boys. Interment was made in the National cemetery, five miles southwest of Elberon.

Editor’s Note: Does anyone know exactly is meant by
“section work”?


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Neighbors Protecting Neighbors

Fire Protection in The Early Years

“Neighbors noticed that the home of Mrs. Martin Kerner was afire and the fire bell was rung. The company was called out but when the men got there some of the neighbors had nearly extinguished the fire with water buckets. The fire was caused by a faulty flue and had not been noticed by the family until their neighbors sounded the alarm. Not much damage was done. The Reporter states that the fire company was on hand with hose carts and the men were in their places as they had practiced. This was only the second fire since a new system was put in place and in both instances the homes had not sustained much damage. It is reported that there are thirty men in the fire department. The officers are: Chief John Keel, Secretary Iver Shupe (1871-1957), and Treasurer Ed Schmidt. (1887-1981). ”

Dysart Reporter february 12, 1914

This was not Dysart’s first experience with fire and it would not be the last. In February of 1875 a fire had broken out at the large elevator of Brown, Doty, and Company and destroyed much of the building and contents. This fire was fought by town residents and also several farmers who lived close to town. Although the building had been insured, the contents which belonged to several areas farmers was not. It was estimated at the time to be a loss of between $8,000 and $10,000 to these farmers.

Realizing that a fire on the Main Street would quickly spread and devour all the businesses at once, the city organized a hook and ladder company in 1878. A hook and ladder company tears part of the structure down while it is on fire in order to contain the spread of that fire. They have no other equipment available to them.

In July of 1882, the Traer Star Clipper reported that a massive fire in Dysart that claimed six businesses. “About 3 o’clock in the morning a bright blaze was noticed in Manrid & Haney’s Drug Store, by a gentleman who was watching the sick. He quickly gave the alarm and a crowd was soon on the scene working valiantly – women included – but the fire had become too strong a force to be controlled.” The drug store burned down. The wind was from the south. The building next to it on the north was made of bricks so between the wind and the bricks, that building was spared. However, on the south side stores caught fire one after another until four had been consumed. The buildings included a saloon belonging to William Seefield; a grocery belonging to Mrs. Horton and occupied by Sult and Company. the Welcome Mowry’s Store occupied by Pinkerton Drug Store, and a meat market, A barber shop was pulled down to save other buildings. A livery stable on the west side of the street caught fire and burned. This belonged to Joseph Furrow. The horses were rescued but three sleighs were destroyed. The wooden addition to Federson’s store was burned and his good damaged. The total loss was estimated at $20,000. The Star Clipper concluded, “They have no fire protection whatsoever, and it was only by hard work (of the citizens) that the fire was finally checked. Most of the stores will be rebuilt, some of brick.”

A Remington Fire Engine was purchased in 1883.

In 1886 bylaws were established and the company was named the “Pioneer Engine Company”. At first, the fire engine was pulled to the location of the fire and the water was pumped by hand from cisterns which were located around town. The machine was pumped by three or four men on each side of the machine similar to a hand car on the railroad. There were two cisterns on Main Street, one by the schoolhouse, one by the elevators and at several other places. A prize of $5.00 was given to the first team that got to the engine and got hitched up. The work was so hard that one team could only stand to pump for a few minutes at a time.

After a citywide water system was created, small hose carts were used which were pulled by teams of men and the races to see which team would arrive at a fire first continued. In 1887, a report to the city indicated the Pioneer Engine Company had the following equipment: One horse, one hand power Remington Engine with two suctions and two horses and six hand levers. Also one axe, two sledges, four iron stakes, two spanners, four braces, two chains, two wrenches, one lamp, one oil can, two sec. whiffletrees (pivoted swinging bar to which the traces of a harness are fastened and by which a vehicle or implement is drawn) and one neckyoke.

In 1889, the fire department was reorganized and became the Dysart Fire Department. Membership was limited to 40 members: 18 assigned to Engine Force, 12 to hose and 10 to hook and ladder. In that same year, they were able to purchase a Running Cart.

In 1890, a second big fire occurred in April. This fire was also reported in the Traer Star Clipper. “Our sister town of Dysart was visited by a disastrous fire early Sunday morning, which laid waste to the greater portion of one side of the main business block. In a reprint from the Dysart Reporter, “Sunday morning between 12:30 and 1:15 o’clock fire was discovered in the restaurant of Mrs. Weigle, a widow lady. The fire had gained such headway that nothing was saved from the building, the occupants having barely time to escape with their lives. From the restaurant the fire spread both north and south. On the south were J. T. Drayton’s Jewelry Store and J. T. Kranbuehl’s Furniture Store, which were soon enveloped in flames. Much goods were saved from these two buildings, though in a considerably damaged condition. Adjoining the restaurant on the north was Marsau’s Meat Market, from which nothing was saved due to close proximity to the origin of the fire. Following the meat market, four more building succumbed to the devouring element – Mrs. Julia Duncan’s dressmaking establishment, Joseph Furrow’s Meat Market, lately leased to H.W. Lahmon; Stewart & Drayton’s Harness Shop, Cody & Wench’s Millinery establishment, and J. Kullmer’s Clothing House.” Most of the goods in these buildings were removed, although much was damaged. By the time the flames reached the Kullmer building the good work of the fire company and bucket brigade had the fire well under control. Had the water supply been sufficient the loss might not have been so great. “The fire department fought the fire heroically and are deserving of much credit….Three hours had wrought a disastrous work, and the Sabbath morning dawned on the smoldering embers of nine business houses and the homes of several families.” The loss added up to about $12,000. Most the businesses had no insurance.

In 1918, the use of chemicals was added to the arsenal of tools the Fire Department had available to fight fires and improved their efficiency. This had the capacity to carry 45 gallons, claiming to be equal to 18,000 gallons of water, and could force a stream of chemicals 80 feet into the air.

In 1920, a new fire truck was purchased and a telephone system of alerting firefighters was add. Previous to this the department was dependent on a bell system. The first motorized fire truck was purchased in 1929.

The Dysart Rural Fire Company was organized in 1932 and each member was assessed a fee of $10 so they could purchase a fire engine. Moving forward from 1931 both departments progressed in their methods and purchase of equipment. They joined forces in 1963 when they jointly purchased a Ford Econoline truck.

The present day Community Fire Station was opened in 1969,

As a child growing up in a small town in the 1960s and 1970s, our firefighters were integral to so many area of our lives. They contributed heavily to the sense of safety that we enjoyed as children. They not only protected us from fires, but they guarded us from the weather by spending long hours out in the country watching for tornados. They responded to emergencies of all kinds and manned our ambulance service. They were the first ones out after storms and sounded the all clear when it was safe for the rest of us to venture out.

They, with the support of their families, offered important social functions through dances and breakfasts and fire safety demonstrations at our schools. I cannot imagine how much time these men and their families sacrificed for all of us.

They practiced their skills by doing controlled burns on abandoned houses which when you are a ten year old straddling your stingray bicycle is a pretty big deal in a small town. Sometimes they sponsored contests with other area firefighters where each could hone their craft while still providing entertainment for the rest of us.

They were the good guys. They were present and provided comfort in people’s toughest times and they contributed greatly to our corporate celebrations. They drove their trucks in parades and lit the fireworks on July 4. They were the other adults in your world who you could identify and knew could and would help you if you were in need. Many people have served the town of Dysart over the years as firefighters and first responders. They still do. All of their contributions are noteworthy but to me the term firefighter means Harold, the Dons, Leo, Gordon, the Bobs, Ralph, Terry, Dick, Ray and Steve and many others who added so much to the tapestry of our lives.

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The News From Dysart – Last Two Weeks of January 1914

Top Stories

Electricity Will Soon Start FlowingThroughout Town

The local paper reported that Dysart was soon going to become one of the towns to be favored with electricity, “the force that no man can define, yet which can be used to great advantage.” According to “Stepping Stones in Time” in 1901 a hot air engine was placed in the gas plant to manufacture enough gas so all lights could be used at once. In early 1909 the city installed a new boiler for the gas works, to heat the water for mixing with the gas and a notable improvement was realized. The electrical plant construction was approved in 1913 by special election.

In January 1914, the Dysart paper reported that Dysart’s citizens has always been “quite energetic” about municipal improvements. The building which was to house the mechanicals needed to generate power was nearing completion at the corner of Tilford and Wilson, just south of the railroad tracks. To the left of the building were the supply tanks which stored the 10,000 gallons of fuel needed to run the engines. The fuel cost the city five and a half centers per gallon and it was believed that two tanks would be needed per year.

The Dysart Reporter gave this account:

In February of 1914 it was reported that Ernest Hix put a concrete floor in the electric power plant. In March, there appears to have been some conflict over the cost of the plant prompting the project manager to write an open letter to the Reporter, clarifying costs. The total cost of the plant was $13,411.44. The plant at first ran 24 hours a day on Tuesday and Wednesday “for the benefit of those using electric irons.”

In October the city posted a notice in the Reporter asking that all residents, business and churches turn on all their lights between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. so that the Alamo Engine Works of Omaha could test the engines at the plant.

On December 30, 1915, in a special session of the City Council met to consider the purchase of electric current from the Iowa Railway & Light Company of Cedar Rapids which was approved for the next 20 years. The Council disposed of the local equipment for $3500.

Harold Langbehn

Editors Note: When I look at that building, I always think of our old neighbor and long time city employee, Harold Langbehn. As a child when I passed by I would always look over to see if I could see him with his signature cap.


“A well dressed man was put off of a train here Tuesday morning and at noon he was up aginst the question of something to eat without any money. He started out to get a dinner and was successful after stopping at the fourth place. We talked with the fellow and he said he was on his way from Minneapolis to Kansas City, was a boiler maker by trade and was looking for work. He said that work was harder to get than he had experieenced for fifteen years. Men in Minneapolis are being fed through what ar called “soup houses” and stopping at Mason City and a couple of other towns he said everything was shut against outside help and a good bit of the local help. We hpe these hard times in the cities let up soon.” Dysart Reporter

Dr. and Mrs. Lames Continue Their Recovery

Dr. and Mrs. G. Lames who were injured in a serious auto accident are recovering. Both are able to be around. Monday, Dr. Lames was taken to Waterloo for x-ray pictures of his fractured arm. The pictures showed a very complicated fracture and dislocation. On Tuesday H.P. Jensen accompanied him to Chicago where Dr. Murphy, one of the greatest surgeons in the world, could fix up the arm.

Business News

Seven car loads of ice were shipped down from Traer this week and the buyers have been unloading it and packing it into their ice houses. Ed Gleim purchased three cars, E.B. White two cars, Charles Santman and John Messer each one car.

Farm News

The train yards have been very busy of late. Several carloads of livestock were shipped recently. Nate Burhenn sent two cars of cattle and a car of hogs, T.B. Grain Co and Marsau a car of hogs, W.C. Heineman a car of cattle, O.J. Smith two cars of cattle. W.C. Heineman and Nate Burhenn accompanied the shipment to Chicago. H.P. Jensen also shipped two cars of cattle to Chicago.

John Hahn, one of the prominent farmers west of Dysart, has rented his farm and sold his stock and machinery to his sons. He and Mrs Hahn are making plans to travel through the western states this year.

R. B. Allard, who has farmed northeast of town for many years, has decided to sell his farm machinery and household goods and move to Texas. An ad for this sale appears in this paper.

Social Happenings

Bridal Veil 1914

Benjamin E. Pippert and Marie Schmidt Wed

Copies of Ben and his sibling’s story are available by contacting The Dysart Historical Center @

William Struve and Louisa Koepke, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Claus Koepke were married at the German Lutheran parsonage. The bride was born and raised to womanhood here. Mr. Struve is a stock buyer in Elberon. The party came to Dysart in an auto and returned immediately after the ceremony.

“A merry crowd of Bohemian ladies surprised Mrs. Jim Ulrich at her home Saturday evening and had a feather stripping bee and spent a very happy evening.”

Editor’s Note:

One of our readers has provided a link for you to learn more about feather stripping bees. Although this one is from Poland, one would guess it was very similar for the Czechs. : Thank you, Joan


The young son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred luze was baptised and christened a week ago last Sunday. Rev. Christiansen performed the ceremony in the presence of relatives. The boy was named Carl Henry.


Henderson Stock Co. Performs at Opera House

The Henderson Stock Company played all last week at the opera house and enjoyed good crowds. The plays each night were good. Many people went to the opera house on Saturday expecting to see Dora Thorne (a play) but instead a very funny mistaken identity comedy was staged. The crowd seemed well pleased. Mrs. Holtz held the lucky number on the pig which was given away the last night and Albert Miller went on the stage and caught it with as much ease as he would were he in his barnyard. The audience expected to see a lively chase around the house but was disappointed. R. Henderson stated that it was his intention to come back to Dysart in the Spring.

Editor’s Note: Were they chasing a live pig around the Opera House?


They don’t write obituaries like this one anymore….

Rosetta Mae Heath Smith Stoner 12/18/1888-4/22/1980

Editor’s Note: William Smith’s widow, Etta, was remarried in 1915 to Sylvan Stoner and lived in Dysart under the name of Etta Stoner until her death in 1980. Etta was my neighbor when I was growing up in Dysart and I have written some of my memories about her in another post on this website entitled “I Think I Finally Understand Etta Stoner”.


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The Heartbreaking Case of the William Kellerhals

In late April of 1917 the Des Moines Register reported the recruitment of William M. Kellerhals, a tall, slender, grey-eyed, light haired young man to the U.S. military. According to various records, William’s middle name was Morse although in some places it is listed as Morris or Maurice. Born on April 14, 1896, he was just 21 years old at the time of his recruitment.

William’s Draft Card

At the time of his recruitment he was living near Ainsworth, Iowa, a community located between Iowa City and Mt. Pleasant, where he was working on a farm. His parents were living near Noble where his father was a dairyman. His parents were both born in Switzerland. William was born in this country.

He was sent to Camp Pike in Arkansas on July 22, 1918, and later Camp Merrit in New Jersey where he was a member of the 164th Infantry. One might suppose that prior to that time, he had never been much further from his home than fifty miles.

Passenger Manifesto from William’s Ship

He shipped out as a private on September 15, 1918, from Hoboken, N.J., bound for France. Less than a month later he was dead, having died of pneumonia in Brest, Finistere, Bretagne, France. In this heartbreaking account from the Iowa Washington County newspaper of November 12, 1918, we learn that William died with three other young men from the same community.

Less than 16 months later, on February 18, 1920 the Waterloo Courier sported the following headline:

Booby Prize Car Is Object of Interest While Owner Tarries

“With no thought of notoriety or being the object of curiosity William H. Kellerhals, a former Navy service man whose home is in Sumner, Iowa, ambled into Waterloo last night with the most unique automobile outfit ever seen on the streets. Driving up to the police station he parked his car for the night in front of the city hall. The car is a Petrel, so old dismantled and changed that it is impossible to gain any idea of it origins. The engine has no signs of a hood and there is no radiator. A big vinegar barrel back of the single seat is filled with water which is piped to the engine by a homemade connection of gas pipes running around the chassis. There are no tires on the front wheels but the rear wheels seem pretty well shod. The top was once “tattered” but is now tattered and torn and the whole is paint-less and covered in mud. The outfit would surely win the booby prize at the Waterloo auto show, but the owner said he must hurry on to his destination.”

Kellerhals explained that he bought the car at Dysart, Iowa, for $40 and was planning to take it cross country to his home in Sumner, IA. From there he planned to ship it to Montana, where the government has awarded him a soldier’s claim. He planned to convert that car into a tractor.

Petrel cars were manufactured from 1908-1909

On February 24, 1920, the Waterloo Courier followed up reporting that the car which was “sans radiator, sans hood, sans tires and sans most everything else of the usual equipment of a motor car”, broke down near Denver, Iowa. Mr. Kellerhals had gone on to Sumner by train. “I got stuck with my car eight miles north of Waterloo”, he wrote to Srgt. Ed. Burk on a souvenir postcard. ” The friction wheels slipped is the reason. I left the car set alongside the road and came the rest of the way on the train.”

1920’s Waterloo Iowa East 4th Street

The Waterloo Courier followed up once again on February 28, 1920, with this headline:

Police Try to Solve Mystery of Owner of Famous Petrel Racer

The coverage of this story in the Courier and Reporter had been seen by William M. Kellerhals’ father, Emil, in Noble, Iowa, who became hopeful that perhaps his son who had been reported dead in France, was actually be alive. Emil traveled to Sumner in search of the boy.

By that time, William H. Kellerhals had returned to Waterloo from Sumner and reported “that he had not seen the elder man who had followed him to that place. “Young Kellerhals says he does not know anything about other Kellerhals. When questioned he seems vague in his knowledge of who or where his own father is.”

The Courier reported that another effort was going to be made by the police department to get the men who “really may be father and son to meet.” The boy had little money and asked to sleep in the station. He was given quarters in the boys’ ward. He had secured a job at a local factory with the determination to remain in Waterloo only until he had sufficient funds to take him to Wyoming where he said a government claim awaited him. He was also planning to have the car towed back as soon as he could find someone to get it into running condition. No other information about this incident could be found by this writer.

Nine month later, in November of 1920, Emil Kellerhals was contacted by Army authorities in New York City that his son’s body had arrived there and was ready to be shipped back to Iowa as soon as the address was confirmed. His body was initially buried at St. Amand in France. William Kellerhals was given a full military funeral at the Eicher Church near Noble. The local paper reported that the church could scarcely accommodate the crowd of friends and neighbors who attended. Three ministers conducted the service and were assisted by three different American Legion posts.

William and Ira Shanks are both buried in Eicher Cemetery in Washington County, Iowa, near the town of Wayland. William left behind his father, Emil; his mother, Mary; and a sister, Margaret. I like to believe that his return home helped the family recover from that momentary hope that he was still alive.

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The News From Dysart – Third Week of January 1914

Top Stories

Harry K. Thaw Nearing Release

Papers around the country are once again reporting “that Harry K. Thaw is nearing his freedom. Men who conducted a recent examination declared him not insane and he is now waiting for the court to grant him bail. Some of his friends say that he expects to go into business in Pittsburg. He ought to make a fine lawyer after all the experience he has had through the courts. “

Editor’s Note: True crime enthusiasts will likely recognize Harry Thaw’s name. In 1906 he shot noted architect Stanford White at Madison Square Gardens in front of hundreds of witnesses. The story captured the nation’s attention during this time of yellow journalism fanned by Thaw’s wealth, mental illness and his beautiful wife, Evelyn Nesbitt, a young actress of her day. His trial was considered the “Trial of the Century” at the time. He has been the subject of numerous books, articles and podcasts. Follow this link to hear a favorite.


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Public Funding For Tuberculosis

Oakdale Sanatorium in Iowa

In a reprint, The Dysart Reporter states that during the previous year, nearly $20,000,000 was spent on efforts to treat and prevent TB in the United States. At the time there were five hundred sanitoriums and hospitals throughout the country for this purpose. In Iowa, the expenditure of money was not as large as the Eastern states but a great deal of work was still being done. It quotes, “the Bureau of Tuberculosis has been successful in securing the cooperation of practically every social force in the state, and a vast amount of volunteer work has been carried on, extending in many instances to the most obscure section of the state.”

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By this time, the state sanatorium at Oakdale was fully operational. Oakdale eventually was absorbed by the city of Coralville. Dr. J.P. Redmond of Dysart was appointed examining physician for the Oakdale sanitorium in this territory by the state board of control. In an article in 1910 he reported that citizens of Dysart who were being treated there were doing well. In 1918 it was reported that Guy Shugart of Elberon had gone to Oakdale to visit his wife.

Editor’s Note: These types of separate isolated communities were popular at this time and in the same paper it was announced that land had been secured to build an epilepsy colony in Iowa. This opened in 1917 at Woodward, Iowa.

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The Cedar Rapids Gazette published a weekly column on the news from Oakdale including the arrival of new patients and visitor information. For most of the patients Oakdale became their long term home and functioned as a separate community.

Willian Taylor 1/15/1858-5/27/1915

In the April 15, 1915 edition of the Dysart paper it was reported that the superintendent of the state sanitorium was in Dysart to consult with Dr. Redmond regarding the sickness of William Taylor. It seems reasonable to assume this is the same William Taylor who is buried in the Dysart Cemetery and died in May of 1915. He had farmed northwest of Dysart and left a large family.

Editor’s Note: There are several resources available on the internet to learn more about the Oakdale Sanitorium including this one:


The photo for William Taylor is from here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/151855525/william-taylor

Dysart City News

E.F. Douglas has been appointed the Acting Postmaster.

Dysart Town Hall – Stepping Stones in Time

Notice from the Mayor’s Office: “Owning to erroneous reports instigated by dishonest parties regarding the cost of material for inside electrical wiring I desire to inform the citizens of Dysart that all material is furnished the consumers at a basis of 5% over cost price, except Sunbeam Magda Tungston lamps. The invoices are the town property and open for inspection at the Mayor’s office. We will be glad to order flat irons, washing machines and any other electrical devise on same basis. John P. Redmond, Mayor.

Editor’s Note:

The Town Hall was established in 1878 under the Town Hall Company. Gore and Hallett used the lower level as their agricultural implement warehouse and the second floor was the town hall. It was located at the corner just west of what was once Wieck’s Feed Store on Wilson Street.

STepping Stones in Time

“The Town Council has decided to close the gas plant on completion of the electric lighting system which will be about February 4, 1914. Parties desiring residences or business places connected with electric lights should notify the Mayor’s office at once. J.H. Lindeman, Town Clerk”