99th and 100th Birthday for Flora Tool
Posted By: JCGS Volunteer
Date: 5/6/2017 at 21:42:56
99th Birthday For Flora Tool]
(The following story was taken from last week’s Newton Daily News; Miss Tool is a former Monroe resident.)
Flora A. Tool, grandchild of one of the first white settlers in Jasper County, celebrates her 99th birthday Sunday at Shaw’s Rest Haven in Newton, where she has lived for nearly ten years.
The cheerful Miss Tool claims, “I’d rather talk than do anything else,” as she clearly remembers events occurring during her childhood nearly a century ago.
Miss Tool is a daughter of James A. Tool who was among the first small group of white settlers to come into the county and stake out claims in May of 1843. James Tool was 18-years-old at the time. His father, Adam Tool was one of the leaders of the group.
The little group of settlers staked claims east of Monroe in an area which became known as Tool’s Point. It was there, four and one-half miles east of Monroe, that Flora Tool was born Jan. 8, 1868.
Miss Tool’s grandfather, Adam Tool, took a claim which involved both timber and prairie ground. Her grandfather, Miss Tool said, used the timber to construct fences and buildings and used the prairie ground for farming. He also built the first house in Monroe, she added.
The pioneering Tool family brought religion into Jasper County with them. The Monroe Methodist Church, oldest church in the county had its beginning at Adam Tool’s house in 1844.
Adam Tool, his granddaughter explains, met a man who was a Methodist minister. The minister, who was traveling through the area, accepted Tool’s invitation to conduct a church service in the Tool home.
Several years later James Tool held church in his log cabin home on the site now occupied by Tool’s Chapel four and one-half miles east of Monroe. James Tool donated to the church the land on which Tool’s Chapel was built. The present building was constructed in 1915.
The bright-eyed Miss Tool remembers attending Oak Grove School near her southern Jasper County home.
“There are no school buses in those days,” points out Miss Tool as she readily remembers adventures occurring in her childhood nearly a century ago. Snowdrifts deeper than fence posts didn’t stop school then, she remembers.
Miss Tool also remembers a time when she and her brothers and sisters were not allowed to take apples to school. “My father raised the first apples in that part of the county,” she explained, “and none of the other children had any at that time.”
After her own school days, Miss Tool spent a total of 18 school years teaching children in rural Lucas County schools.
Miss Tool beams as she relates her enjoyment of walking to her country schools facing the sunrise and going home in the evening with her face being warmed by the rays of the setting sun.
Payment for the schoolteachers when Miss Tool began teaching was only $20 per month, she remembers. Board and lodging, however, was only $1.50 per seek.
Her salary was multiplied by five times before Miss Tool retired from her teaching career at a time when she was earning $100 per month. Costs of room and board she said had also risen and she comparatively had less left over after meeting her expenses.
Miss Tool’s last year of teaching she recalls was in the early 1920’s.
One reason for leaving the teaching profession, according to Miss Tool, was that she once punished the wrong boy. “I lost the eyes in the back of my head,” she explained. Schoolteachers, she said, had to see in all directions simultaneously.
“I never had trouble with the girls but I sometimes had trouble with the boys,” Miss Tool said of her teaching career. “And then,” she laughed, “I’d have trouble with the girls.”
Miss tool is the last living child of James Tool but has 14 living nieces and nephews. Miss tool also has a nearly uncountable number of great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews. After that, she added, “I lost track.”
Miss Tool, 99, receives regular visits from friends including Mrs. Elayne Haparanta, who makes visits for the home department of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church of Newton.
Speaking of the sparkling Miss Tool, Mrs. Haparanta says, “She’s the type that makes it a pleasure to work in the home department.”
Source: The Monroe Mirror; Thursday, January 12, 1967, page 1
Flora Tool Observed 100th Birthday Mon.
(From Newton Daily News)
“I was ailing as a child and my parents didn’t think I would live to be very old.”
Miss flora Tool, that “ailing” child revealed her childhood frailty on the eve of her 100th birthday.
Miss Tool, a native of the Tool’s Chapel community near Monroe, Monday observed the 100th milestone of her eventful life at Shaw’s Rest haven, where she has resided for the past 10 years.
Though time has dimmed her eyesight and her hearing has failed somewhat Miss Tool, a former school teacher, remains quick of mind and sharp of wit.
“I thought perhaps I would live to be 50 or 60,” she recalled after attributing the care administered by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Tool, with seeing her through her tenuous childhood years.
“I just kept right on going,” she said, her eyes sparkling with the excitement of the occasion.
Born Near Monroe
Miss Tool was born January 8, 1868, approximately 2 ˝ miles east of Monroe.
Her father came to Iowa from Virginia in 1843 when he was 18 years of age, several years before Iowa became a state.
Miss tool attended Central College in Pella where she was enrolled in the primary education department. After completing her college studies at Central, she taught rural school – all grades she noted – from 1897 until the early 1920’s.
Returns to County
She returned to her native Jasper County to care for a niece, who later died, and never returned to the teaching profession.
Miss Tool, who made her own clothes for many years and used to “tat by the hour” until her sight dimmed, moved to Monroe shortly after the death of her niece and maintained a home there until she was 90 years old.
It took a broken hip, suffered in a fall, to end her independence. Medical bills swept away not only her savings but also eventually claimed her home in Monroe.
Miss Tool, whose relatives number between 400 and 500, including 12 nieces and two nephews, has some rather outspoken opinions concerning the present day way of life.
“We’re much too easy on liquor now,” she insists. “I’ve fought liquor all my life,” she said, pointing with pride to the WCTU pin – a white bow – on the bodice of her new birthday dress.
In addition to being a life member of the WCTU, she belongs to the Methodist Church and was active in teacher associations when she was younger.
She finds today’s youths a little smarter and sillier now, she said.
Miss Tool feels the government has infringed on the personal liberties and freedom of the individual – an opinion that is shared by many of today’s political leaders.
Even in a wheelchair and with her sight and hearing impaired by age, Miss Tool remains a key rock of independence characteristic of America’s expansion period.
Source: The Monroe Mirror; Thursday, January 11, 1968, page 1
Jasper Documents maintained by Barbara Hug.
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