Harper, Iowa Centennial
                  1879-1979
                         NOT TOO BIG. . . BUT NOT TOO LITTLE

FIRES AT HARPER

Looking through the items in the Keota Eagle we found that Harper had more than their share of fires. Following are a good number of them.

 

September 21, 1879—at 3 a. m. Sunday the Hardware and Grocery Store of M. Blaise & Son was burned. October 19, 1878—another fire at the Livery Stable. Attempts also, were made to burn the house belonging to Mr. Menifee at that same time. A suspect was arrested but released. 1880—The Robert Renfrew Elevator burned. Mr. Renfrew rebuilt. September 14, 1888—Another large fire at Harper. One complete block was destroyed. Help came from Keota and Washington. The Freight train was in Keota when the alarm was received and 50 men road the train to Harper to help. The Washington Firemen were there in about 25 minutes by special train. Water supply was limited so very little was saved. One of the buildings lost was the Ludwig Furniture Store which had no insurance. December 12, 1890—$500.00 robbery and fire at the Express Office. Mr. Taylor was Agent at this time. The next day, December 13, 1890—Robbery and Fire at the Creamery. Everyone would like to know just who is stealing and setting fire to our many buildings. $6,000.00 damage and only $2,000.00 coverage. The barn and ice house were destroyed also. December 24, 1897—Fire Again took the John Ludwig Furniture Store, the Levi Bower building where Joe Kautenberger managed a Meat Shop, Levi Bower Store and John Kautenberger Hardware Store. February 1, 1906—Another Big Fire Sunday 2: 30 p. m. The Renfrew Elevator burned the second time. A suspect was arrested and released. The property then was owned by Old Lady Ferguson. No insurance and it was never rebuilt. In 1915 the second Depot was burned with all records lost again. In 1934 the Old Hotel was being remodeled for a new business and burned to ashes. It was located on Main Street. In 1927 the school students at St. Elizabeth Grade School put out an attic fire and again in 1931. In 1936 the floor burned badly about the furnace in St. Elizabeth Church and services were held in Marquette Hall. The fall of 1939 the Waechter Hardware and Grocery Store burned. January 27, 1948—Fire Destroyed 4 buildings, Tuesday. The Floyd Merz Feed Store brick building, the Hogan Grocery Store brick building, owned by Katharine Clarahan, a frame Miller Garage & a frame warehouse used by Miller & Hammes Hardware & Produce. The 2 frame buildings were owned by W. J. Clarahan. Estimated loss around $35,000.00.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Floyd Merz built a large Feed Store where his burned store stood.

On January 27, 1952 this Feed Store burned to ashes.

 

 

MAYORS FOR THE TOWN OF HARPER

 

First Mayor - Peter Hartman—Ref. 1880 Keo. Co. History

1896-1897 - J. O. Flagherty—Files of Eagle 12-18-1896

1899-1900 - Michael J. Clarahan;

1900-1902 - F. A. Blake;

1902-1904 - Michael J. Clarahan;

1904-1906 - Levi Bower;

1906-1907 - S. J. Striegel;

1907-1908 - John Newhouse;

1908-1914 - M. J. Clarahan;

1914 - L. H. White;

1914-1916 - G. L. White;

1916-1918 - Mike Striegel;

1918-1920 - John Striegel;

1920-1921 - James Paetzold;

1921-1928 - Mike Striegel;

1928-1938 - L. P. Acheson;

1938-1948 - Alfred Peiffer;

1948-1949 - Avon Primley;

1949-1950 - Arthur Peiffer;

1950-1964 - Alfred Conrad;

1964-1966 - Milo D. Miller;

1966-1979 - Alfred Conrad.

 

 

CIVIC IMPROVEMENTS

 

Electricity was brought to Harper by Iowa Gas and Electric in 1919. Iowa Southern Utilities bought it from them on May 12, 1925 and they still have the franchise. Natural Gas distribution system was brought to this community after a franchise was given to Iowa Southern Utilities in 1961.

 

The streets of Harper were at first dirt and had to be dragged and scraped. In later years the roads were rocked. On September 8, 1952 a contract with Richards Construction Company of Washington was signed to surface the roads and since then the town has had hard surface streets. On May 17, 1956 a meeting was held to plan water works for Harper.

 

 

Contracts were let for laying the pipe, drilling the well and a town building was built which houses the water tank and also is used for town meetings. The water system was installed to support the needs of the community by June, 1957.

 

Harper first had a chemical tank cart for fires which had to be pulled to the fires. Then Keota or other fire departments were paid $25. 00 for each call. On August 5, 1963 they incorporated with the town of Keota Fire Department and now the town pays them by the year for protection. Two men from the council are on the fire board.

 

In 1971 Harper joined the Keokuk Regional Agency which serves the city with garbage pick up.

 

Dial telephone and underground buried cable were installed in Harper on January 29, 1963.

 

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