Buena Vista County, IA
The town of Storm Lake dates from the arrival of the Dubuque & Sioux City railway in the year 1870. Prior to that time in the neighborhood of twenty families had settled about the lake, some on the southwest side and others on the north side. A man by the name of Vincent settled southeast of the lake, taking one hundred and sixty acres as a homestead; he sold several lots on his farm, upon which some buildings were erected. It was current at the time that Vincent and the railway company had an understanding by which the homestead was to be conveyed to the company as soon as a patent was secured, and the town was to be located there, but when Vincent had proved up they refused to convey and in retaliation the town site was moved west to another location. The town was laid out into lots during the month of July and on the l1th day of August, 1870, the lots were placed on sale. At that time T. S. Smith operated a hotel and Smith Brothers a store on the site of the old town, but they promptly moved to the new site and before fall several additional buildings had been erected and the town was doing business with the surrounding settlers. The man who platted the town laid it out on a generous scale. On Lake Avenue, in the business section, the lots were twenty-five by one hundred and the street one hundred and twenty feet wide. The residence lots were large and roomy, and all the streets were made one hundred feet wide, permitting the home owners to beautify their holdings with attractive shade trees and lawns, One of the first acts was to encourage the planting of shade trees and the wisdom of this step is now apparent in the handsome appearance of the streets and homes.
The two parks were laid out in 1871 and planted to trees at once. This was also a wise provision, adding to the adornment of the lake shore. The location of the town is high and dry and Storm Lake has become an ideal home city.
The railroad was completed on the 7th day of July, 1870 and the depot was finished that fall. J. D. Eddy was the first station agent and William Malloy the first section foreman.
An ambitious set of business men at once cast their lot with the new town and all lines were soon well represented. Barton & Hobbs opened the first bank, being soon followed by John R. Lemon, who organized the Buena Vista County Bank, Sutfin and Hay, and Dean & Harker. James F. Toy came in 1872 and engaged in the lumber and implement business, organizing the Storm Lake Bank in 1876, after selling his other interests. Two years later Mr. Toy: opened branch banks at Sioux Rapids and Alta and until his removal to Sioux City was one of the leading financiers in this part of the state.
Other pioneer business men were W. W. Sweetser, druggist; Thos. W. Selkirk, proprietor of The Lake House; Jorgensen & Fikes, hardware and implements ; H. V. & T. Slutz, lumber, coal and grain; W. H. McCune, merchant ; W. C. Kinne, merchant; G. S. Robinson, attorney; Frank Wetzel, furniture dealer; Cameron & Waggoner, druggists; George Currier, dry goods merchant; L. and J. S. Gustine, meat market; Phil Schaller and S. W. Hobbs, real estate; and Vestal & Young, proprietors of the Storm Lake Pilot.
The Pilot was first issued in the fall of 1870 and became at once one of the leading papers of the northwest. Early and late the paper sang the praises of Storm Lake and Buena Vista county, and when one considers the influence of a high class newspaper, well edited as was the Pilot, full credit must be given to that paper for a great part in upbuilding the town.
Among the events of importance of the early years of Storm Lake may be mentioned the birth of Aurelia Wirick, the first child to be born in the town, on December 7, 1870. The first dance in the town was given on the evening of December 13, 1870, at the City hotel, of which T. S. Smith was landlord. The first lyceum was organized on December 12, 1870, with S. W. Hobbs as president and J. B. Miller, secretary. The Buena Vista County Agricultural Society was organized February 25, 1872, and the first fair was held that fall. It was continued for five years when the grasshoppers and the hard times which accompanied that pest, caused the society to disband.
On January 14, 1871, the cemetery association was organized and the cemetery east of town was laid out in the spring. The first interment was the body of Jonathan Knight, on July 28, 1872. Storm Lake was incorporated on February 28, 1873, and the first municipal election was held on March 3, 1873. The officers elected at that time were S. H. Hobbs, mayor; E. C. Cowles, recorder; T. S. Smith, W. H. McCune, J. M. Russell, J. A. Campbell, and S. C. Highley, councilmen. Mr. Hobbs served as mayor for two years, and since then the following gentlemen have served in the same capacity: W. H. Smith, W. L. Vestal (three times mayor), E. I. Sutfin (twice mayor), Lot Thomas, Charles Isbell, Joseph Sampson, James F. Toy, John R. Lemon, A. D. Bailie (three times mayor), J. P. Morey, G. S. Coman, T. D. Higgs, Lo E. Yerington, T. H: Chapman, P. C. Toy and E. L. O'Banion.
The present officers of the town are as follows: E. L. O'Banion, mayor; J. E. Buland, clerk and solicitor; J. W. Gilbert, treasurer; C. W. Moore, assessor; J. Park Bair and A. E. Brunson, councilmen at large; F. S. Kaufman and A. R. Biddle, councilmen from the first ward; Will F. Miller and A. W. Unger, second ward; G. F. Wagner and J. E. Cleaveland, third ward and C. F. Groves and J. H. Grange, fourth ward.
The town grew steadily until 1878 when an event occurred that put new life and vigor into everything. It was the moving of the county seat from Sioux Rapids to Storm Lake, after an effort that had lasted for eight years. The business men of the town and the politicians had learned several valuable lessons from the astute managers of the interests of Sioux Rapids and that fall no Storm Lake man was a candidate for any position on the county ticket, but everything was done to placate all parts of the county, by a judicious distribution of plums to all those who were friendly toward Storm Lake's ambition to be the county capital. A building association was incorporated and a building erected and tendered to the county, rent free, for courthouse purposes. A heated campaign followed the submission of the question but Storm Lake won handily and no time was lost in bringing the records and property of the county to the new court house.
The coming of the college in 1891 was another stimulus to the growth of the town, resulting, as it did, in the platting of the college addition, one of the choice residence portions of Storm Lake.
In 1900 the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul was built into the town from the southeast and the Minneapolis & St. Louis from the north. This was a great event for the town, as efforts had been made at various times to induce new railroads to extend their lines to the town. Since the town was first founded at least three attempts had been made, by the people, to build railroads north, east and west, and at one time a company was incorporated to build to Sioux City, southwest through Hayes and Maple Valley townships. When the roads did come the event was hailed with great joy by the people and the town took on renewed energy. The railroad improvements in themselves were extensive, and in addition to this several new buildings were erected in the town, including the Witter Block, the Bradford Hotel, the Kinne Block and a large number of fine residences. The population has increased since then and the town has extended its boundaries in all directions, and material progress has been constant and substantial.
It has been said that Storm Lake is a beautiful city, and this is conceded by all who have visited it. In the summer, when the trees are at their best and nature is at her most beautiful period, it is hard to find a lovelier place than Storm Lake, the town overlooking the pretty lake. Within the past few years the advantages of the lake have come to be more appreciated and across the lake from the town, at Fisher's Point, has been erected several cottages where people from the surrounding country come to spend a few weeks of their vacation in healthful surroundings. The Chautauqua draws thousands every summer and is growing in popularity. The County Normal Institute is held here every summer, bringing every teacher of the county for instruction in school work. And with it all Storm Lake has a contented, happy people, who receive the visitor and bid him welcome.
In the years prior to 1903 efforts had been made at various times to hold summer assemblies in the beautiful Elm park at Storm Lake, but never had an organized movement been made. Single lectures by such men as T. De Witt Talmage, Sam Jones, John Temple Graves, Henry Watterson, Bishop Fowler, Senator Dolliver and Congressman Champ Clark had been delivered and regular camp meetings were held for some years by the Holiness Association and later by the Christian church, but no serious attempt had been made to give a regular course of entertainments and lectures.
But in 1903 Rev. W. J. Carr of the M. E. church, Rev. H. V. Comin of Lakeside church, M. M. Moulton, H. W. Krause and a number of other active men in Storm Lake saw the possibilities of a Chautauqua assembly and an organization was perfected. The natural advantages of Storm Lake are unsurpassed in this section of the state. A beautiful park, on the shore of the beautiful lake, a delightful and sanitary camping spot and a permanent and convenient auditorium, added to which was a program of rare talent, skillfully selected, could not help but be a success for a summer outing.
The Storm Lake Chautauqua was the first in this section of the state, at least in a decade. The success of the Storm Lake assembly impelled many of the neighboring towns to establish similar courses but in spite of the sharp competition the Storm Lake assembly has gone steadily forward and is an assured and established fact. Such men as Newell Dwight Hillis, W. J. Bryan, Dr. F. W. Gunsaulus, Robert M. LaFollette, Booker T. Washington, William A. Sunday, Gipsy Smith, Governor Hoch of Kansas, Governor Hanley of Indiana, Congressman Bede of Minnesota, Congressman Landis of Indiana, Congressman Hobson of Alabama, Col. Bain, Capt. Jack Crawford, John Vance Cheney, Dr. Wickersham and Senator Dolliver have been heard with pleasure and profit, and the Chautauqua has enabled the people of the county to hear men from the outside world on questions that are momentous and timely. Classes for the study of domestic sciences have been held for the women, at which demonstrations in cooking have been given. These, with talks on hygiene in the home, have proved of much value.
For the past two years Prof. Wilcox of the Iowa State University has given a series of lectures on history that have been a liberal education in themselves , and the forenoon hour has also been devoted to a study of Biblical topics and ethical subjects.
I. O. O. F.
The lodge has a membership of one hundred and forty-two. They own the double store building now occupied by Foster & Sons' store. They are planning to erect, within the next few years, a third story over this building to be fitted up with several compartments of a modern lodge room. The present elective officers are: M. N. Hoffman, N. G. ; Thos. Labron, V. G. ; Chas. Fulton, recording secretary; John Christopher, financial secretary; Harry J. Crouse, treasurer; trustees: C. F. Aiken, Theo. Martin, and E. L. O'Banion. Will Guilford is considered the oldest Oddfellow in Buena Vista county. He was connected with the order before he came to this county, and has been an Oddfellow here for nearly forty years, always one of the most enthusiastic members of the local order.
I. O. O. F. ENCAMPMENT, No.86.
REBEKAH LODGE No.205
MODERN WOODMEN OF AMERICA
BROTHERHOOD OF AMERICAN YEOMAN
The lodge has a membership of nearly two hundred and sixty, with the following officers: Foreman, E. Lewis; M. of C., Thos. Foster; correspondent, J. C. Avenell; M. of A., Raymond Jones; chaplain, Laura Kauffman; overseer, Chas. Chapman; guard, Watson Payne; watchman, Guy Joray ; sentinel, Amel Joray; physician, Dr. J. H. O'Donoghue.
THE MASONIC LODGE
The first officers of the lodge were: Master, J. E. Wirick; senior warden, E. I. Sutfin ; junior warden, Edmund Wirick; treasurer, W. L. Vestal ; secretary, P. H. Schaller; S. D., D. B. Harrison; J. D., E. S. Fanning; chaplain, Norman S. Parks; S. S.; E. I. Sutfin; J. S., W. L. Vestal; tyler, E. W. Benson. The present membership numbers about one hundred and fifteen, the following being the present officers : A. C. Fuller, W. M.; A. L. Bryan, S. W.; Thos. E. Foster, J. W. ; J. Ho LaGrange, secretary; V. A. Bryant, treasurer; G . K. McCullough, S. D.; Geo. Currier, J. D.; R. Burnham, S. S.; E. J. Schultz, J. S.; M. M. Moulton, chaplain; H. C. Cutts, Tyler.
RABBI CHAPTER, No.103, ROYAL ARCH MASONS
STORM LAKE CHAPTER NO. 209, ORDER OF EASTERN STAR
ROYAL NEIGHBORS OF AMERICA
COURT OF HONOR
KNIGHTS OF THE MACCABEES, TENT No.80
CATHOLIC ORDER OF FORESTERS
THE ORDER OF THE UNITED COMMERCIAL TRAVELERS OF AMERICA
YOUNG MEN'S COMMERCIAL CLUB OF STORM LAKE
G. A. R.
WOMAN'S RELIEF CORPS
KNIGHTS OF PYTHIAS
THE YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION
It was during the revival services conducted by Rev. M. B. McWilliams at Storm Lake in February, 1908, that the Y. M. C. A. agitation in this county began. At that time a committee was appointed to see about organizing a local Storm Lake Association. The committee held a conference with the state secretary, Mr. Magee. After looking over the situation, Mr. Magee advised against a city type of association, but thought it might be possible to organize under the county work plan, and advised the committee to consult the state secretary on county work, Fred Hanson.
The committee immediately got into communication with Mr. Hanson and induced him to come to Storm Lake and go over the situation with them. After a careful study of the county, Mr. Hanson reported favorably to the committee, and they urged him to begin the work of organization. The sum of eight hundred dollars was pledged in the Williams meetings for this work. During February, Mr. Hanson began the work of organizing the county, and by the last of May had finished the preliminary work. A convention was held, May 30 to June 1, at Storm Lake, to which the several churches of the county and some of the rural points sent delegates. At this convention, the information and statistics gathered by the secretary, were presented, and the different phases of county work discussed, and after consideration it was decided to organize a county Y. M. C. A.
A county committee of fourteen business men was then elected to carry forward the work of perfecting the organization under direction of Mr. Hanson. The committee was constituted as follows: M. M. Moulton, Storm Lake; W. C. Edson, Storm Lake; G. B. Lawhorn, Storm Lake; W. L. Geisinger, Storm Lake; J. E. Cundy, Storm Lake; G. W. Mahaney, Newell; F. .G. Redfield, Newell Dr. S. A. Beason, Newell; Paul Schultz, Alta; A. M. Conner, Alta; Joel E. Johnson, Marathon; F. O. Danielson, Marathon; C. E. Jacoby, Sioux Rapids; O. A. Cate, Sioux Rapids. Dr. C. H. Johnson has now succeeded A. M. Conner, the latter having moved away. The committee after incorporating, conducted a canvass for funds, and secured seventeen hundred dollars to carry on the work.
Under the provision of the county work plan, allowing a regular secretary to each county after its organization, the committee called O. E. Atkinson, a graduate of Iowa State College, to be the secretary for this county. It is the duty of the secretary to organize new associations where deemed advisable, and to supervise the entire county work. Five towns and three rural points have thus far been organized. The towns are: Storm Lake, organized in March, 1908, having now one hundred and sixty members; Newell, with sixty members; Marathon, sixty members; Sioux Rapids, thirty-five members; and Alta, having forty members. The rural points are: one out from Marathon, with nineteen members; one out from Storm Lake with twenty members; and one out from Newell with fifteen members. Preparations were made and the second annual convention held April 23, 24 and 25, 1909.
Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, 133-54. (extracts)
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