Allamakee co. IAGenWeb Project - School Records
updated 06/24/2021

School Index

Spelling Bee Contests

Allamakee co. Spelling Bee Champions, contestants & other notes

Unless otherwise credited, the information on this page was contributed by Cindy (Maust) Smith


Elmer Link of Jefferson school No.4, near Waukon, won the county spelling contest and will represent Allamakee county in the state spelling contest at the Iowa state fair.
~Lehigh Valley Argus, April 6, 1916, Fort Dodge, IA, pg 2


Thomas Cahalan, 10, won the Allamakee county spelling contest at the courthouse Monday forenoon. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Cahalan, a pupil of District No.5, Fairview township, of which Miss Mary Rochford is teacher. Forty-six schools selected delegates to the contest but all were not present.

Mrs. James Collins, secretary and treasurer of the Federal Farm Loan of Allamakee county, presented Thomas with five dollars. He also received a certificate presented by the Register and Leader, of Des Moines and will represent this county in the state-wide spelling bee to be held at Des Moines on April 16. Thomas won the contest by spelling luncheon correctly after it was missed by Edward Plein, age 12, of Lycurgus school.

Miss Margaret Ryan, of Postville, Miss Mayme McDermott, of Lansing and Miss Jeanette Reynolds acted as judges. The words were pronounced by L.L. Copeland and W.L. Peck
~Postville Herald, Thursday, April 1, 1926, pg 1


Ralph Keenan, aged 13, son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Keenan and a pupil of No.4 Jefferson, won the county spelling contest held at the court house Saturday. The last word was "superfluous," which was misspelled by Miss Viola Ellefson of the Waterville consolidated school. Miss Alberta Keenan is the teacher in district No.4. Ralph has proven himself a winner heretofore as he won second place in the spelling contest held in 1925.

Forty-three schools provided a representative, but only 29 of them appeared, 19 girls and 10 boys. The winner will represent this county in the spelling contest to be held at Des Moines, April 15th, when the winners of the various county contests will compete for $50 in cash prizes, besides the first prize which is a trip to Washington, D.C.

The following words were pronounced by Supt. W.L. Peck: Permission, capital, quotient, molasses, mischievous, recipe, mandolin, palatial, acommodate, parrallel, illitrate, maniac, obnoxious, vermillian, haseran, jaundice, wainscot, travesty, chorister, admissible, abscess, accurate, colleague, enthusiasm, commiserate, superfluous.
~Waukon Democrat, reprinted by Postville Herald, Thursday, April 7, 1927, pg 8


Washington, June 24 (by the Associated Press) - Product of a small rural school, 13-year-old Dean Lucas of Congress, Ohio, today has the title of national spelling champion and a prize of $1000. Lucas, who is in the eighth grade in his town of 150 population, last night "spelled down" 13 girls and three boys to win the championship which is annually conducted by 17 leading newspapers. The word "abrogate" gained him the victory which Ralph Keenan, of Waukon, Iowa, aged 13, failed to spell. Keenan took second place and a $500 prize. Minerva Ressler, 12 years old, of Lancaster, Pa., took third place. All the contestants had won regional contests before their participation in the national championship. Lucas was sent to the contest by the Akron Beacon-Journal; Keenan by the Des Moines Register, and the Ressler girl by the Lancaster New Era.
~Ogden Standard Examiner [Utah], June 24, 1927 ~contributed by Sharyl Ferrall


The following have enrolled in the county spelling contest to be held March 31st, since the list was published in these columns two weeks ago:

Duane Peterson, Postville public schools; Claretta Starry, teacher

Anna Belle Cahalan, Fairview No.5; Monica Cahalan, teacher

Leona Selberg, Ludlow No.3; Martha Zissler, teacher

Levina Laabs, Lansing public school; Harriet Peterson, teacher

Gretchen Levenhagen, Fairview No.4; Bridget Broderick, teacher

Bernard Heltne, Waterloo Ridge; Adeline Takle, teacher

Christine Sorum, Center No.4; Gladys Busness, teacher

Mildred Aure, Fan, Makee; Irene Foley, teacher

Ralph Jenkins, Ludlow No.6; Mary Maloney, teacher

~Waukon Democrat reprinted in Postville Herald, March 29, 1928, pg 3


Ralph Keenan, who won the county spelling contest, the state contest at Des Moines and second place in the national contest at Washington, D.C., last year, again won the county contest at the court house Saturday, says the Waukon Journal. Ralph is 14 years old, son of Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Keenan, attends school in district No.4, Jefferson township, and his teacher is his cousin, Miss Alberta Keenan.

The court room in the court house was filled to its capacity at 10 a.m., Saturday when County Supt. W.L. Peck called the crowd to order and read the names of the forty contestants filed with him. Thirty-five were present and answered the roll call. He then explained the rules governing the contest so that all could understand and added some good advice to those taking part. In these remarks and all through the contest he was eminently fair and anxious to dispel nervousness and set the young spellers at their ease. But even with all that he could do it was evident that most all of the mistakes were made through their stage fright.

The judges were Supt. B.K. Orr of the Waukon schools, Misses Catherine Ryan and Martha Collins, rural teachers. Supt. Peck pronounced the words. The actual spelling was over in about thirty minutes.

With two standing, Leona Laabs, a bright little girl from the Lansing city school, and Ralph Keenan, the last word, "chicanery," was given to Leona, who misspelled it and it was correctly spelled by Ralph. In this connection we might say that during the number of rounds it took to eliminate all the spellers but the winner, the hardest words seemed to fall to the lot of Ralph, but he spelled them correctly and promptly and with a confidence that was impressive. If, as we hope, he wins the state and national contests, it will not greatly surprise any who heard him Saturday.

The following are some of the words that proved a boomerang to the young spellers: Capillary, knuckle, lyceum, corrugated, supersede, concede, weasel, tableau.
~Waukon Journal reprinted in Postville Herald, Thursday, April 12, 1928, pg 1


Leo Cahalan of Fairview township won the Allamakee county spelling championship in a field of fifty contestants at Waukon, March 29, and will thus enter the state contest at Des Moines, April 27.
~Postville Herald, Thursday, April 10, 1930, pg 2


Friends here of the John K. Griebel family of Waukon will be pleased to learn that their eldest daughter, Shirley, won the Allamakee county spelling contest recently and that she will represent that county in the state spelling bee in Des Moines May 2. Shirley was a student in the grades here while her father was publisher of the Clayton County Messenger in Elkader and the family has many friends here who will rejoice with the Griebels in the honor their daughter has won.
~The Clayton County Register, Thursday morning, April 16, 1931, Elkader, Iowa, pg 1


Eulalia Klingbell of Postville Public School won the honor of being the best grade school speller in our county. Ernest Kolsrud of Center No. 7 won second place, Iva Phipps of the Waukon Public School third place, and Walter Keenan of Jefferson No. 4 fourth place, A large crowd listened in on the contest. All the contestants proved to be good sportsmen. Each represented his school and township as well as could be expected in the face of a new experience. Wm. F. Shafer and C. A. Palmer presented the winners of second, third, and fourth place with tickets to the Arthur H. Rackett Concert with High School Band and Waukon Drum and Bugle Corps to be given at the opera house, April 8th. Our county champion will take part in the state contest at Des Moines on the afternoon of May 7th. Congratulations and Best Wishes, Eulalia!
~Postville Herald, April 7, 1932 ~contributed by Aubrie Monroe


Raphaella Unterberger, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Unterberger of Linton township, won first place in the county spelling contest that was held in Waukon on Saturday. There were 24 contestants. The last word, diphtheria, was missed by Dellila Oelberg of Postville and correctly spelled by Raphaella who is only 12 years old.
~Monona Leader, April 13, 1933, Monona, Iowa, pg 1


The annual county spelling contest will be held at the court room at Waukon on Saturday, April 7, under the direction of Miss Isabella McCormick, county superintendent. The winner will represent this county at the state spelling contest at Des Moines in May. The following names have been sent to the county superintendent's office as contestants. There are two township and four town school contestants who have not been chosen to date.

Postville -Lloyd Luhman
Lansing Public School - Sylvia Boltz
Waterville Consolidated School - Donald McMillan

Union Prairie, Southwest - Doris Moen
Lansing No.6 - Ada VanBrocklin
Hanover No.4 - Jean Delaney
Taylor, Spring Brook - John Crowley
Union City, Harmony - Michael Larkin
French Creek No. 5 - Lawrence Henry
Center No.1 - Rita Pfiffner
Fairview No.5 - Ruth Cahalan
Iowa No.5 - Agnes Hammell
Franklin No.5 - Marlys Johnson
Waterloo, Dorchester - Donald Teff
Lafayette No.7 - Genevieve Kernan
Makee, Elk - Mavis Olson
Ludlow No.4 - Calvin DeBuhr
Jefferson No.? - Velma Evans
Linton No.3 - Edna Schlitter

~Waukon Standard reprinted in the Postville Herald, Thursday, March 29, 1934, page 8


The tenth annual Allamakee county spelling contest will be held March 30 at the court house in Waukon to determine who will represent the county at the state contest to be held at Des Moines on April 27. Following is a list of the contestants: Theresa Pfiffner, Martina Broderick, Jessie Decker, Kathryn Welsh, Mary Frances O'Neill, Leo Moore, Margaret Gelo, Donald Gruber, Ruth Reed, Harlan Mielke, Bernice Shafer, Rita Hancock, Earl Krousie, Charles Corrigan, Lorraine Beardmore, Rita Mellick, Donald Teff, Elmer Robinson, Gladys Wiemerslage, Mary Kerndt, Dorothy Hosch, Jessie Poesch, Colleen Griebel.
~Cedar Rapids Gazette, Thursday, March 28, 1935, Cedar Rapids, IA, pg 11


Arrangements have been completed by Mrs. Isabella Whalen, Allamakee county superintendent of schools, for the annual county spelling contest which will be held in Waukon, March 28. Both written and oral tests will be given, and the winner will attend the state contest at Des Moines on April 18.
~Cedar Rapids Gazette, Tuesday, February 18, 1936, Cedar Rapids, IA, pg 9


Best County Speller. Margaret Gelo of Jefferson No. 8, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Gelo, won the 1936 Allamakee County spelling championship at the eleventh annual  "bee" held March 28th.  Margaret was runnerup in the written contest, and in the finals spelled down Jerry Cahalan, to be crowned the eleventh champion.  Margaret and her teacher, Mrs. Marilla Amundson, will go to Des Moines to take part in the finals for the state championship April 18th.

Margaret Gelo, 1936

~newspaper clipping ~contributed by Janet Koozer


Marion Sonnkalb, of Postville, received the Allamakee county spelling title for 1937 as a result of the contest held in the local junior high assembly Friday afternoon. Each of four schools, namely Waterville, Harpers Ferry, Lansing and Postville, was represented by two contestants. The eight competitors entered both the written and oral competitions, Marion winning in each. Joan Searls, Postville's other contestant, was runner-up in each.

The oral contest was especially close as the last two students spelled for a quarter of an hour before the winner was determined. Joan Searls being eliminated by the misspelling of the word "affidavit." Marion Sonnkalb and one of her instructors will go to Des Moines to compete in the state spelling meet, April 27.

Dr. R.F. Galloway officiated as pronounciator, and the Mesdames J.T. Humphrey, John Falb and Euclid C. Marston, were the judges.
~Postville Graphic, Thursday, April 1, 1937, pg 1


At the county grade school spelling contest held in Waukon last Wednesday, Robert VanNice of that city won the county championship. Postville was represented in the contest by Gretchen Myers, Craig Marsten and Sophia Dyke and Miss Mildred Pardee of this city was one of the judges. The Waukon Democrat says: "Miss Gretchen Meyers, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J.W. Meyers, and a Postville eighth grade pupil, won the written contest over Robert VanNice, who misspelled the word 'dilatory.' The two contestants then clashed for champion honors and Robert won out."
~Postville Herald, Thursday, April 21, 1938, pg 1


Miss Loretta McGeough, 14, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John McGeough of Watterville, and a pupil of the eighth grade of the Waterville consolidated school won the Allamakee county public school spelling contest here Friday. It was sponsored by the schoolmaster association. Three contestants were entered from Postville, Lansing, Waterville, Harpers Ferry and Waukon. New Albin was not represented. Betty Thornton, eighth grade pupil of Waukon, won the written contest, and Loretta McGeough the oral. In the final contest, between the two Betty misspelled "pageant," which the oral champion spelled correctly as well as another word, "inconvenient." She will enter the state spelling contest at Des Moines in April.
~Cedar Rapids Gazette, Sunday, April 2, 1939, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, pg 3


WAUKON - Rita Lyons, 13, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Lyons a Hanover township eighth grade pupil, won the Allamakee county contest here Saturday by spelling allegiance which was incorrectly spelled by Marilyn Miller, 12, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Miller of Franklin township who won the written spelling contest.
~Cedar Rapids Gazette, Sunday, March 31, 1940, pg 5

Marian Krumme
, 13-year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Krumme of Union Prairie township, won the Allamakee county spelling contest at Waukon last Saturday and will represent the county in the state meet at Des Moines April 25. Marilyn Wagner of Postville was the twelfth contestant to go down, missing the word, "Precinct." Miss Elma Berkland, fifth grade teacher of the Postville schools, was one of the teachers pronouncing the words to the 25 contestants at Saturday's contest.

The first spelling contest was held in 1926 with Thomas Cahalan, Fairview township, winner. The next year Ralph Keenan, Jefferson, won not only the county championship, but also the state and received second honors at the national contest.

Besides the two mentioned above county champions are as follows: Walter Keenan, brother of Ralph, won in 1928; Edith Feuerhelm, Lansing, 1929; Leo Cahalan, Fairview, brother of Thomas, 1930; Shirley Griebel, Waukon, 1931; Eulalia Klingbeil, Postville, 1932; Raphaella Unterberger, Linton, 1933; Isabelle Eischeid, New Albin, 1934; Lorraine Beardmore, Union City, 1935; Margaret Gelo, Jefferson, 1936; Marion Sonnkalb, Postville, 1937; Robert Van Nice, Waukon, 1938; Loretta McGeough, Waterville, 1939; Rita Lyons, Hanover, 1940, and Betty Hankes, Fairview, 1941.
~Postville Herald, Wednesday, March 18, 1942, pg 1


Mary Ann Hegeman of St. Patrick's in Waukon was declared the Allamakee spelling champion for 1944 at the county contest in Waukon last Saturday. Both written and oral spelling was given to the twenty-six participants. We take this opportunity to extend credit to Keith Olson, Postville's contestant, for his fine work in this contest.
~Postville Herald, Wednesday, March 29, 1944, pg 1


Darlene Kugel, 12, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Kugel, of Jefferson township, won the Allamakee County Spelling Contest held at Waukon Saturday, March 31, in the high school auditorium. She is a seventh grade pupil of Jefferson No.8 school and her teacher is Miss Florence Sherman of Waukon. She will represent the county in the sectional contest to be held in Waterloo, April 13. The winners there go to Des Moines.

Jeannine Harris, 12, 7th grade pupil of West Grove school in Post township and a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roger Harris, was the runner-up in the contest and was the winner of the written contest. Darlene Kugel was the winner of the oral contest and thus the two girls spelled in the finals for some time, proving to the audience they could really spell. The word "Caribbean" was finallly misspelled by Jeannine and correctly spelled by Darlene, who then spelled "consciously" correct, thus giving her the title of the champion speller.

A list of the words misspelled in the oral contest is no true gauge of the ability of the contestants as they previously had spelled correctly scores of diificult words. The misspelled words were as follows: wicked, synagogue, temperature, parenthesis, sensible, adenoids, garbage, signature, privelage, macaroni, axle, develop, preface, proprietor, coagulate, surgery, promenade, feasible, efficient, precipice.

Judges of the contest were: Supt. Paul Reher, Lansing; Mrs. Mathilda Parnell, Waterville; Florence Hoth, Postville. Pronunciator was Calvin Huenemann of Waukon, and awards were made by County Supt. of Schools, M.H. Goede. A short program preceded the contest.
~Postville Herald, Wednesday, April 11, 1945, pg 5


The Allamakee county spelling contest will be held at 1:30 o'clock in the Waukon high school auditorium with 26 contestants certified to compete. The winner will represent Allamakee county at the state contest later this spring.

From Postville public schools Lorna Luhman will be the contestant; Harold Haberichter of Franklin No. 6 will represent Franklin township schools; Shirley Hanke of Ludlow No. 5 goes to the county contest from Ludlow township, and Jeanne Harris of West Grove school is the Post township representative. Of the 26 contestants six are from town schools, two attend parochial schools and 18 are from rural districts.

Calvin Huenemann, instructor in the Waukon Junior College who pronounced last year, will again act in the same capacity. The judges are Supt. E. Paul Reher, of Lansing; Florence Hoth, Postville public school, and Mrs. Mathilda Parnell, Waterville consolidated school.
~Postville Herald, Wednesday, March 20, 1946, pg 1
-- --

WAUKON - Fourteen-year-old Shirley Olson of Center township school No. 6 won grand champion honors in the Allamakee county spelling contest here Saturday.

Miss Olson won the written contest and then took top honor by successfully spelling "ingenuity" after Jeannine Harris, 13, of West Grove school, Post township, failed to spell "cyst." Miss Harris won the oral contest.

Shirley is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Otto Olson, Jeannine's parents are Mr. and Mrs. Roger Harris.

Twenty-six contestants took part. Calvin Huenemann pronounced the words.
~Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 24, 1946, pg 29


Dick Searls, eighth grade student in the Postville public schools and son of Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Searls, won the Allamakee county spelling contest at Waukon Saturday afternoon. He will represent the county at the state spelling contest in Des Moines on April 19. His teacher, Miss Edith Miller, will accompany him to the state meet.

Dick was fifth among the 22 spellers to go down in the written test which was won by Harold Huberichter of Franklin No.6 school. But in the oral spelldown Dick won top honors in the oral contest and then in the finals in which he competed with Harold, he finally came out the winner. Harold missed on the word "pronunciation" which Dick disposed of correctly and then won the meet by spelling the word "treacherous."

Contestants from other nearby townships entered in the Saturday contest were Carol Hermeier of Ludlow No.3 school, and Donald Roffman of Evergreen school in Post township.

Miss Edith Miller of the Postville junior high school was one of the judges of the contest at which W.W. Owens, Waukon high school principal, was responsible for the "pronunciation" of words.

~Postville Herald, Wednesday, March 26, 1947, pg 1


Esther Fritz, 13, won both the oral and written tests in the Allamakee county spelling contest here Saturday. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Fritz, she is an eighth grade student at Lansing township school No.2. Runner-up in the oral contest was Carol Olson of Waukon. There were 21 contestants.
~The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Sunday, March 20, 1949, Cedar Rapids, IA, pg 46


Shirley Walsh, 13, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Walsh of Waukon, eighth grade student at St. Pat's at Waukon became the Allamakee County spelling champion last Saturday by correctly spelling the word "exhort," misspelled by her nearest competitor and going on the win by correctly spelling "stratagem."
~Postville Herald, Wednesday, March 22, 1950, pg 4



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