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 have 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 its 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 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
Chautauqua Assured For Dysart
More Than 20 Businessmen Back of Proposition
"A number of the businessmen 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 businessmen 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. Sometime 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:
"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.
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.
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.
"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:
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.