Decatur County Historical Society Newsletter

Volume No. 1, Issue No. 1, September/October 2006
 Decatur County Museum

The Museum will be open Tuesdays and Fridays from 1-5. The Museum is located in the 100 block of North Main in Leon, Iowa.

For viewing appointments, please contact Bob Bixby at (641) 446-3297.

Museum News

The new roof for the Museum will be installed as soon as we can get the bees out of their home in the roof. As soon as that is done we can work on the plaster repair from the water leaks.

The first newsletter was a success! Many thanks to the Binning family reunion for their generous donations and attendance at the Museum in August.

The Museum will be open for any special events or individuals wanting to visit. Call Bob Bixby for an appointment.

Cemetery News

Phase one of the monument repair has been completed at Franklin (Dunkard) Cemetery in Center Township. A total of 41 stones and foundations were completed last week. The remainder will be completed in two years.

Foundation and monument repair is being done at the Meek Cemetery in Eden Township at present.

Bethel Cemetery in Eden Township was completed last year.

Future Projects

Future projects for the Museum include:

Increased hours depending on income and volunteers available. Painting the entrance and window frames. Repairing the front door. Plaster, wall and tile repair.

Restoration of an existing bathroom that is not in working order at this time. A work table and desk are being considered for genealogists at the rear of main floor.

Lamoni Tidbits

Condensed from "Lamoni, Home of Graceland College-Official Souvenir,” published by Blair Printing Company, Lamoni, Iowa, 1929.
Lamoni was first platted as a town in 1879 by a company that the C. B. & Q. Railroad hired, although the first settlers

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Lamoni Tidbits Cont’d

came in the 1834 to 1840 period. These first settlers owned slaves and had thought they were settling in Missouri but were actually in Iowa due to a disputed border boundary with Missouri. The state line as we know it today was finalized by the U.S. Supreme Court in the late 1840's.

In the 1870's a group of men in Council Bluffs organized a corporation for buying land and developing sites for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; one of these sites was in Fayette Township where Lamoni is today. The Board of Directors of the corporation were Elijah Banta, President; Israel L. Rogers, Treasurer; David Dancer, David Gamet, Alexander McCord, Calvin Beebe, Phineas, and H. A. Stebbins. These men became instrumental in the growth of Lamoni.

In 1886, the first town election was held; elected were: M. McHarness, Mayor; V. White, Recorder and David Dancer, R. L. Branch, W. Hudson, H. L. Tilton, S. V. Bailey and W. H. Deam as councilmen. Seth Bass was Marshall.

Churches: Latter Day Saints was organized in 1871 with the first church built in 1875 with Charles H. Jones as President.

The Methodist Church was built in 1872 about a mile and a half from Lamoni and moved to town in 1881.

College: Graceland College was established in 1890 with the present Administration Building being completed in 1895.

Roads: The Jefferson Highway [U.S.69] was completed in 1929 from Des Moines to Kansas City and eventually extended from New Orleans to Winnipeg, Canada.

Utilities: Iowa Southern Utilities with its own generating power on site built in 1907. Telephone system granted in 1897.

Publishing & Newspapers: The Herald Publishing Company in 1881, burned in 1907 and rebuilt the same year. The Lamoni Gazette in 1885, later called the Independent Patriot, closed in 1910. The Lamoni Chronicle was established in 1904 by W. H. Deam; it is still in operation today. Small Stock Magazine, started in 1916 by the Blair Printing Company.

Bus service started in 1929.

Town Officials in 1929 were Charles Haskins, Mayor; Martin Hynden, Clerk; N.R. Carmichael, A. W. Fleet, J. H. Gillaspey, David Dancer, and David Vredenberg were councilmen. Both founders of the HyVee grocery chain, Charlie Hyde and David Vredenberg, lived in Lamoni. HyVee today is one of the largest in the United States.


Grand River will be holding a 125 Year Celebration on September 16, 2006. Here is a rundown of the activities planned for that day:

Breakfast being served by the Methodist Church from 8:00 to 10:30 or so at the Lion's Hall

Helicopter rides from 10 AM to 5 PM (take off in schoolyard). The cost is $35 for adults $25 for under 12

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Grand River Activities Cont’d

Parade at 11:00

Lunch being served in the park by the Catholic church.

1:00 - 6 or 7 PM Kids games in park, prizes, raffles, etc.

1:00 - 4:00 Adult games in park - Sumu wrestling, bungee race, numerous other games & events.

2:30 or 3:00 - 4:00 Let’s Make a Deal game show in park, with a celebrity host (Gavin Jerome from the Speed Channel show "Pinks"). About $400 of prizes will be given away.

5:00 - 7:00 Hog Roast on Main Street by Lion's Hall.

6:00 - 7:30 Adult raffle drawings.

Dark - Outdoor Movie on the side of the Legion Hall.

Immediately after the movie, FIREWORKS. 600 plus shots in 10-15 minutes.

Street Dance (round & square) in front of fire station starts at end of fireworks. The only items that have a cost that day are the following:

Helicopter rides, food, drinks, raffle tickets.

ALL games are no charge.

The Schoolhouse Museum will be open that afternoon for tours. Commemorative pencils will be given out with the tours.

The bank will be open for part of the day and the old telephone switchboard is located there along with some other historical items & pictures.


Donations to the Decatur County Historical Society and Museum may be sent to:

Great Western Bank
c/o Chet Redman
111 N Main
Leon, Iowa 50144
Checks may be made out to: The Decatur County Museum.
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