KEOTA CENTENNIAL HISTORY
                             1873 - 1973

A glimpse into the past...

EARLY CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS

February 18, 1882. An Old Settlers Association was formed. It is composed of Lafayette and Clear Creek Townships in Keokuk County and 76 and Dutch Creek Townships in Washington County. All citizens of these townships who were residents in any part of Iowa prior to the year 1862 were declared eligible to membership.

February 21, 1896. Keota has a genuine Woman's Club known as "Old Maid Society." The society at present is piecing and quilting a quilt. The first "old maid" of the club to marry receives the quilt.

August 12, 1898. Keota has an "Open Window Club." This is an organization maintained by the Chicago Record. Keota's is known as "Dewey Chapter No. 3." They meet every Saturday afternoon at the Lindle Hotel.

September 15, 1898. KEOTA WOMAN'S CLUB. Its object is to promote the development of society socially, morally and intellectually. Officers: Pres., Katie Glover; V.P., Jennie Wilson; Sec'y, Jennie Smock; Treas., Mrs. McKee. The work of the club is to be carried on under four departments: Literature, Music, Philanthropy and Applied Christian and Home and Education. Already the group is working to resurrect the Keota Public Library.

September 19, 1907. QUESTION CLUB. Young ladies have organized the "Question Club" with fifteen members. The first meeting was held at Bess Smock's and with strict accordance with constitution and by-laws had two eats and one drink, and no naughty boys to mar the great and lasting pleasure of the evening. Miss Mildred Mortiz is president and Miss Bess E. Smock secretary and treasurer.

February 11, 1909. Twelve young ladies met and organized the Som'r' set Club. It was decided to meet every Thursday evening—have two eats, one drink and give souvenir spoons for prizes.

May 10, 1917. Keota has organized an embroidery Club.

November 3, 1921. MEN'S CLUB. The Forum is the name of the men's literary club of Keota which was organized last Thursday, at the home of Rev. LT. Hawk. A program for fifteen meeting nights on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month was drawn up and approved. Rev. C.F. Hoffman was elected president and Rev. I.T. Hawk secretary and treasurer of the organization which limits its members to fifteen.

January 26, 1922. The young ladies of Keota have organized a Rook Club of their own with nary a man in it. Their name is F.L.Y. Club. First meeting was held at Irene Helscher's with eats at Callister's Cafe.

April 20, 1922. WOMAN'S LEAGUE. A local unit of the League of Women Voters was organized April 19 and officers were elected. Mrs. Ada Kirkpatrick, Chairman; Kate B. Glover, 1st vice chairman; Mrs. Edith Teets, 2nd vice chairman; Harriet Clendenning, Secretary; Mrs. Margaret Harris, Treasurer. All women of Keota and vicinity are urged to join the league. Membership fees are twenty-five cents. The league has twenty-five members.

May 3, 1945. Service wives organize a social club. The fourth Monday night of each month was chosen as a suitable meeting time.

July 10, 1934. Keota has a new organization—the Band Booster Club. The members are mothers of the members of the band. The object is to raise money for band uniforms and to buy two expensive instruments which will be the property of the school. President is Mrs. Howard K. Stewart; Vice President, Mrs. C.A. Singmaster; Secretary-Treasurer, Mrs. O.B. Rogers.

ORDER OF DEMOLAY

September 7, 1922. ORDER OF DEMOLAY. Eleven Keota boys were initiated into the Order of DeMolay Monday night in the Keota Masonic hall by a degree team from the Washington chapter. Approximately one hundred fifty persons were present, including local Masons and DeMolay boys from nearby towns. Refreshments were served after the work. In November six more boys joined the Keota Club.

J. M. White was elected "Dad" of the local members of the DeMolay. He will help them form a club here, advise them in their work and be responsible for their good conduct. Membership is open to all races between ages of 16 and 21. Steps will be taken to form a club here. Howard Helscher was elected President.

February 7, 1924. The Keota Chapter, Order of DeMolay was instituted at fraternal hall last evening by officers of Amos Chapter of Washington to which Keota members formerly belonged. Eight Keota boys were initiated into the new chapter. The Keota chapter has twenty-seven members and J. M. White is their "Dad." Officers were elected.

The above chapter of De Molay no longer exists in Keota.

REBEKAHS

Oddfellowship was founded in America April 26, 1819, by an Englishman, Thomas Wildey.

The Rebekah Degree was written by Schuyler Colfax, and at the Sovereign Grand Lodge session in 1851 it was approved and came into official being.

The first Rebekah Lodge of the world was instituted at Bloomfield, Iowa, in 1868.

Emerald Rebekah Lodge 152 of Keota, Iowa, was instituted on April 25, 1915, and the charter was granted October 21, 1915.

Charter members were: Brothers—H. P. Newton, H. S. Brock, A. A. McKoon, W. S. Ramsey, E. R. Reeves, John S. Conklin, A C. McNurlen, G. A. Carson, J. C. Hampton, J. B. Berend, J. A. Conklin, W. L. Conklin, W. R. Roles, J. S. Stephens, C. L. Holmes, and H. C. Dusenberry, Sisters—Stella Sloat, Matilda Brock, Nellie McKoon, Winnie Pershing, Ora Hoskins, Ella Conklin, Cordia Dusenberry, Alta Hampton, Aimie Reeves, Cora Conklin, Anna White, Donna Roles, Dora Conklin, Sarah Sherman, Blanche Holmes.

First Officers were—Noble Grand, Nellie McKoon; Vice Grand, Alta Hampton; Secy., Donna Roles; Treas., Nora Conklin.

 

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Grand Master of Iowa at this time was Max J. Randall. Grand Secy. Was R. L. Tilton. Dist. Deputy President in 1916 was Nellie McKoon.

The first meetings were held upstairs where the American Legion now is, later moving to the upstairs of the building where Norbert Flanders had a locker plant in later years. Finally on February 28, 1922, they moved to the Fraternal Hall which is now the present location.

In 1926 a social group was formed and called The Past Noble Grand Circle. This group met in the homes, which it still does. Charter members were—Daisy Chambers, Lavina Mattison, Ella Russell, Mattie Reighard Pippet, Ella Conklin, Nellie McKoon, Vonda Hess, Anna White, Charlotte Newman, Sadie Powell, Vianna Sharp, Faye Thompson, Lida Mcjunkin and Esta Romine. There are now 26 members.

The Rebekahs are a subordinate branch of the Fraternal Order of Oddfellows, and abide by the laws, rules and regulations of the Grand Lodge and the Sovereign Grand Lodge. It carries out the program of the President of the Rebekah Assembly and the International Association of Rebekah Assemblies.

The Rebekahs help with the expense of maintaining a home for the elderly at Mason City, donate to the Educational Foundation Fund, support the Oddfellow Eye program, help support the Theto Rho Girls Club, participate in the United Nations Youth Pilgrimage each year, and donate to the Oddfellow-Rebekah float entry in the Rose Bowl Parade.

Two members have become Fifty-Year members: Anna White and Anna Valenta. Of these Anna Valenta is still living. In February 1973, there was another Fifty-Year member, Dorothy Chambers.

The Rebekahs also have as a member of the lodge Past Grand Master A. I. FitzSimmons. He served as Grand Master of Iowa during the years 1954-1955. Ernest Chambers (now deceased) was Grand Marshall at this time. Elizabeth Seitsinger served as President of the Rebekah Assembly in 1970-1971. Mary Shafer was Grand Musician. During Sister Elizabeth's term the Keota Degree team was honored with the privilege of Exemplifying the Rebekah Degree to a class of 10 candidates at the Assembly in Cedar Rapids. Two of the candidates are members of the Keota Lodge. They are Cindy Warren Reighard and Pamela Singleton. Both girls are third generation Rebekahs.

On the local level we as a Lodge remember our shut-ins at various times, give to a Memorial Fund at the death of a member of their family, serve funeral dinners if the family wishes, participate in community projects when possible.

Present officers are—Noble Grand, Elizabeth Seitsinger; Vice Grand, Mae Jones; Recording Secy., Dorothy Singleton; Financial Secy., Ruth Ginkens; Treas., Loretta Stoutner; Dist. Dept. Pres., Mae Jones; Delegate from Dist. 54 to the Rebekah Assembly, Ruth Ginkens.

The meetings are held the first and third Wednesday evenings of each month.

Ruth Ginkens

 

T.T.T.

On June 19, 1946, Iowa AV Chapter of the National T.T.T. Society was installed in Keota with 11 charter members. The first officers were: President Virginia Grimes Moorman (Mrs. E.J.), Vice President Mrs. Corena Morris, Recording Secretary Voncile Henderson (Mrs. William), Corresponding Secretary Margaret Stoutner (Mrs. Boyd), Treasurer Verna Dempsey (Mrs. L.B.), and Historian Betty Stoutner (Mrs. Clyde Jr.). Other charter members were Thelmae Bell (Mrs. James), Josephine Singmaster Hurley (Mrs. Pat), Annabel Stoutner (Mrs. Marion) and transfers Helen Bos (Mrs. Myron) from Iowa F Packwood and Floretta Brenneman (Mrs. John) from Iowa AD Wellman.

The T.T.T. Society was organized in 1911 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Its national project is a camping program for worthy girls who might not otherwise have an opportunity to attend a camp. There are three T.T.T. camps in the United States, the one owned by the Society at Eden Valley, Minnesota, and two rental camps: one in the western area at Show Low, Arizona, and one in the eastern area at Wollcottville, Indiana.

The local chapter participates in local and national philanthropic projects; contributes to fund drives such as Red Cross, Heart and Cancer; lends help to needy persons at home with clothing and food boxes; and maintains a hospital equipment loan closet for the use of residents of the community.

One of the charter members, Mrs. Boyd Stoutner, has served in state and national offices including the state and national presidencies.

Officers for 1973-1974 are President Margaret Bermel (Mrs. Don), Vice President, Joyce Leedom (Mrs. Jack), Recording Secretary Norma Richardson (Mrs. Roger), Corresponding Secretary Darlyne Fagen (Mrs. Donald), Treasurer Helen Harding (Mrs. Joe), and Historian Karen Sypherd (Mrs. Delbert).

CHAT-A-WHILE

As January 31, 1929, was the birthday of Mrs. Bill Arnold a group of ladies met at her home to form a club. Fancy work was furnished by the hostess. At the meeting they decided to form a card club. At this meeting was Mrs. Hiy Bower, Mrs. John Flander, Mrs. Clarence Aller, Mrs. Everett Schmitt, Mrs. Floyd Stover and Mrs. Verle Sigler.

The club played "500", later changing to Auction Bridge, and now they play Contract Bridge.

The club still meets regularly with nine members.

By Mrs. Clarence Aller

 

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INDUSTRIOUS CLUB

In January 1931 a group of ladies of the Prairie Flower school district decided to form a club. These ladies included Mrs. Bert Dunbar, Mrs. Con Davis, Mrs. Walter Fisher, Mrs. J . H. Thompson and Mrs. Jack Wimmer. Mrs. Guy Brown declined to join because they were leaving the neighborhood March 1st. Only one of the original members, Mrs. Jack Wimmer, is still active in the club. At the second meeting at the home of Mrs. J . H. Thompson, Mrs. Clarence Aller joined the club and is still active in it.

As new neighbors moved into the community the lady of the house was asked to join the club and almost everyone did.

The group met once a month over the years and still does.

It was decided to call the club "The Industrious" because they pieced quilt tops, quilted quilts, tied comforters, embroidered tea towel sets, sewed carpet rags for rugs or brought along their own fancy work. Sometimes, if the hostess desired, she furnished guessing games in keeping with the season.

In the earlier years they all went to club sometimes in bobsleds, wagons and often they just walked when the roads were bad.

Hardly a youngster that grew up in the community but can remember in their pre-school years of "going to club" as baby-sitters were rare in those days.

By Mrs. Clarence Aller

 

LAGOS ACRES COUNTRY CLUB
KEOTA, IOWA

Lagos Acres Golf Course and Swimming Pool has become a reality through the efforts of many interested citizens of Keota and the surrounding area.

The initial meeting was held September 3, 1963. By November enough progress had been made to elect a Board of Directors to negotiate for the proposed organization. Through the efforts of the Directors, Howard Greiner, Wayne Olson, Don Fagen, Bob McDowell and Harold Fink, and representatives of the Farmers Home Administration, progress was continued. On February 10, 1964, the Articles of Incorporation and by-laws were approved.

The land was purchased from A. D. Stewart and Albert Greiner in Washington County, just across the road from the Keota Corporation.

In the Spring of 1964 work began. Old structures, with the exception of the house and the garage, were torn down and destroyed or sold at auction. The fields were cleared, the pond area cleaned, and the old fence was removed to prepare for the construction of a nine-hold golf course.

The swimming pool was completed during the summer and members were able to enjoy both the pool and the golf course.

The Lagos Acres Country Club continues to be a very fine recreational asset to the Keota Community.

MASONIC LODGE

Adelphi Lodge #353 A. F. and A.M. was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Iowa in 1876 with 18 charter members: W.P. Davis, Isaac Farley, N.G. Field, A.L. Erdice, Daniel McFarlane, J.F. Graham, H. Henkle, M.A. Hulse, F.M. Israel, E. Moses, W.M. Mcl.oud, H.N. Newton, H.P. Newton, Jerome Palmer, Noah Pettit, E.M. Ritchey, I.R. Turner, J.F. Wilson. From these the first officers were elected: Isaac Farley, W.M.; H.P. Newton, S.W. ; Daniel McFarlane J.W.; Elmer Moses, Treasurer; E.M. Ritchey, Secretary. There have been seventy-four W.M.'s serving since then to the present officers who are: Otis Jones, W.M.; Forrest Tucker, S.W.; A.I. Fitzsimmons, J.W.; Lester Smith, Treasurer; Wayne Zehr, Secretary.

There are known descendants of only four of the charter members living in this community: H.P. and H.N. Newton (father and son) whose granddaughter, Mrs. Genevieve White, resides on the home farm; M.A. Hulse, whose granddaughter, Mrs. Ruby Helscher, still operates the family business; A.A. Hulse and Company; W.M. McCloud, whose granddaughter, Mrs. Tressie Schreckengast, is a retired school teacher. J.F. Wilson was the donor of our City Park, which carries the name "Wilson Park."

The Lodge has always met in the same hall as the Odd Fellows Lodge since it was chartered until the Odd Fellows surrendered their charter. The first meeting place wa s the third floor of what is now known as the "Lillig building." The top floor was torn off a number of years ago. In 1892 they jointly built the second story on the Town Hall, which is the former Locker Plant. In 1913 they moved to above the Bower and Sanders Dry Goods Store, which is the present American Legion Hall. In 1922 they joined with the Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythians in the purchase of the present Fraternal Building where they now meet.

By Otis Jones

 

KEOTA CHAPTER NO. 97
ORDER OF THE EASTERN STAR

For more than 79 years Keota Chapter No. 97, Order of the Eastern Star, was an influential organization in the community.

The Order of the Eastern Star, as is generally known, is not a Masonic organization in a sense of being recognized as any part of that Ancient Institution, but is a voluntary organization closely linked with the Masonic fraternity and the members thereof. It is required in each Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star that two of its principal officers be Master Masons in good standing.

International in scope, the Order evolved to give wives, daughters, mothers, widows, and sisters of Master Masons an opportunity to share, in a measure, the benefits of that great fraternal Order. As years have passed, eligibility to membership has been extended to include their legally adopted daughters, half sisters, grand-daughters, stepmothers, step-sisters, and step-daughters.

 

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Records show that the Order of the Eastern Star had its beginning in France in the middle of the 1700's. At that time named "Adoptive Masonry", it spread to the United States by the middle of the 1800's. It still exists in free countries where men and women may meet together to promote the principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth and is the largest organization in the world to which both men and women may belong.

Pursuant to a call by several Grand Chapters (State) a convention was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, November 16, 1876, and the General Grand Chapter was organized; this body to be the governing head of any Grand Chapters or subordinate Chapters requesting dispensations to organize. Iowa was not among the original Grand Chapters, but on July 30, 1878, there being seven Chapters in the State, a convention was held in the Masonic Lodge Room in Cedar Rapids to organize the Grand Chapter of Iowa.

Early in 1891, members of the Masonic Lodge in Keota, their wives and daughters became interested in the Eastern Star. As a result of their discussions, 18 eligible persons signed an application to the Grand Chapter of Iowa and on Tuesday, April 28, 1891, Mrs. Harriette Ercanbrack, Worthy Matron, came from her home in Anamosa for the purpose of instituting the Chapter. The Chapter worked under dispensation until September 10, 1891, when at the Grand Chapter Session held in Clinton the Charter was granted and the number 97 issued to Keota Chapter. There were 38 Charter Members: Louise A. Shane, Nora Gwin, E.G. Wilson, H.P. Newton, Laura Gillette, Fanny Moritz, Mae Page, J.E. Eaton, S.I. Keiser, Lola Keiser, Allie Daiber, Mary Reslar, Ellen Erdice, Emma Ramsey, Mary E. Ritchey, Ellen McFarlane, M.F. Reslar, Mrs. J.E. Eaton, Maria Newton, Simon Moritz, L.B. Oliver, Ellen Oliver, M. Daiber, Sarah Reslar, Ezra Barnes, A.L. Erdice, Sarah Gillette, Harry Page, Mrs. Frank Holmes, G.D. Holmes, J.L. Ramsey, Daniel McFarlane, Mrs. N.S. Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Clark, Clara Henkle, Lula Newton, and Armilla Palmer. The seventeen first named were the first officers. Louise A. Shane, wife of Rev. B.F. Shane, the Methodist Minister, was Worthy Matron, E.G. Wilson, Worthy Patron, and H.P. Newton, Secretary. It was not until 1929 that the number of officers was increased to 18 with the creation of the office of Associate Patron; C.D. Kirkpatrick being elected.

The first meeting place was the third floor of the "Three Story Brick." In 1892 the Masons and Stars moved across the street to the second floor of the building occupied in recent years by the Locker Plant. In 1913 a move was made to a location in the Martin Block above the Wales Department Store, now the Valenta Store. In 1922 the Fraternal Association was formed by the Masons, Odd Fellows, and Knights of Phythias to purchase the building last occupied.

Records show that in the beginning the date of the meetings was set for the first Tuesday after the full moon. In those times dependency on the light of the full moon was an important consideration for night-time travel. For more than 25 years the meeting date remained so, then on January 9, 1917, the Chapter voted to change the date to the second Tuesday of the month.

The first member to receive an appointment in Grand Chapter was Margaret Erdice who was Grand Ruth in 1906. Three years later Ida B. Fish received the same honor. As years passed several other members received recognition by Grand Chapter: Lucy Hinsdill, Sue Ross, and Matilda Kirkpatrick were Grand Representatives; C.D. Kirkpatrick and W.H. Henderson were Grand Chapter Committee Members; and taking part in various Grand Chapter Sessions were Edna Klein, Nina Fitzsimmons, Elizabeth Seitsinger, Dorothy Singleton, Mary Shafer, Catherine Malley, Keith Jones, Eva Jones, and Voncile Henderson.

In 1937 Helen Bowers became a member of Keota Chapter by affiliation soon after husband, Bruce, was transferred by the Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America from its Compressor Station near Emerson, Iowa, to the one near Harper. After having been Worthy Matron in 1942 she was appointed District Instructor by Elsie L. Evans of Emerson, who was Worthy Grand Matron of Iowa in 1944. During the years 1944 to 1947 Helen was, by appointment, A District Instructor; in 1945 Grand Chaplain; and again District Instructor from 1950 to 1955. In 1952 she was elected to the first of four line offices which culminated in her serving as Worthy Grand Matron of Iowa from October 1955 to October 1956.

Keota Chapter shared in this honor and was loyal in continuous support. In October 1955 25 members chartered a bus to attend Grand Chapter in Sioux City and participated in the ceremony installing Helen Worthy Grand Matron. Then on November 9, the Chapter held its most elaborate party. Approximately 500 guests were present in the High School Gymnasium as Eastern Stars came from over Iowa to share in this tribute to their Worthy Grand Matron and to Keota Chapter. During this year Eva Jones was Worthy Matron and Keith Jones was Worthy Patron of the Chapter.

On three occasions Keota Chapter cooperated with the District Instructors by hosting the District Group Meeting; in 1936 when Agnes Dasher was Worthy Matron and E. E. Chambers was Worthy Patron, in 1946 when Annabel Stoutner was Worthy Matron and E. E. Chambers, Worthy Patron, and again in 1951 when Elizabeth Seitsinger was Worthy Matron and A. I. FitzSimmons, Worthy Patron. These meetings were attended by many members of other Chapters as well as by the Worthy Grand Matron, Worthy Grand Patron, other Grand Officers and Distinguished Guests.

From its inception the Order of the Eastern Star recognized that it must count for something more than lip service, beautiful ritualism and social gatherings. The early members were not slow to observe the necessity for charitable and social welfare work; therefore provisions were made to put this into practice through annual per capita dues.

All through the years Keota Chapter has participated in the several charitable and benevolent purposes of the Order. Among the most important of these is the support and maintenance of the Eastern Star Masonic Home at Boone where 114 elderly Eastern Stars are cared for, and the granting of scholarships to eligible young men or women

 

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who are preparing for a career in religion . This scholarship program is known as ESTARL (Eastern Star Training Awards for Religious Leadership). For the 1972-73 college year, 29 $500 awards and one $300 award were given. The program is international in scope, having been established by the General Grand Chapter in 1953. Iowa's 70,000 members have given more than $185,000 in aid to a total of 475 students since that time. An Educational Loan Fund is also available for young persons who wish to have help of this kind. The Cancer Research and Education program is a continuing project supported by Eastern Stars. A chapel in the International Peace Garden located on the North Dakota-Manitoba border was built and is maintained by the Order.

Any organization must have time for social activities and through the years Keota Chapter has enjoyed many happy occasions such as dinners, parties, programs, Friendship Meetings, etc. Important have been the observance of anniversary dates: the Twenty-fifth in 1916 with Nora Williams, Worthy Matron, and L. Kleinschmidt, Worthy Patron; the Fiftieth in 1941 with Sue Ross, Worthy Matron, and E. E. Chambers, Worthy Patron; the Seventieth in 1961 with Veda Walter, Worthy Matron, and Otis Jones, Worthy Patron; and the Seventy-fifth Diamond Jubilee with Ilo Green, Worthy Matron, and Otis Jones, Worthy Patron.

A feeling of achievement prevailed on each of these occasions, more especially with the coming of the Fiftieth Anniversary which gave the first opportunity to recognize fifty-year, or Life Members. Present to be honored was Mae Page who received her life certificate and pin from the Grand Chapter of Iowa on October 2, 1941. Since that date many members lived to reach this goal. Life Members still living and the year they became 50-year members are: Ethel Chesney, 1962; Katherine White, 1963; Maude Teets, 1965; C. D. and Matilda Kirkpatrick, 1968; Winnie Statler and Bessie Holmes, 1969; and Genevieve White, 1973.

"Ties That Bind" created an atmosphere prompting the organization of a social club for those who had served as Worthy Matron of the Chapter. On January 18, 1939, the Past Matrons met at the home of Agnes Dasher, with Mildred Palmer as co-hostess, to plan and organize the Past Matrons' Club. Its first officers were: Daisy Chambers, president; Agnes Dasher, vice-president; and Katherine White, secretary-treasurer. Other charter members were: Naomi Adams(Dasher), Norma Amsberry, Gertrude Brown, Edith Dunn, Margaret Erdice, Gertrude Hill (Richland Chapter), Lida Hunting (Hedrick Chapter), Edith Pulver, Maude Teets, Nora Williams, and Anna White. Each year, thereafter, the retiring Worthy Matron of Keota Chapter automatically became a member of the Club. Not all have remained members, but those who have, continue to enjoy a close bond of friendship, meeting each month except July and August.

The story of the Order of the Eastern Star is one of marvelous service, and yet it is not sufficiently recognized by the sisters and brothers who compose the organization or by those who are eligible to membership.

With the coming of an increased number of other local activities and a growing interest in those activities, attendance at Chapter meetings decreased to a point which made it more and more difficult to obtain a complete corps of officers. It became evident that a decision needed to be made relative to the future of Keota Chapter. After deep thought and much discussion, and with great reluctance, it was voted to consolidate with Aspasia Chapter No. 198, Sigourney, Iowa. This consolidation came about on November 30, 1970.

This action did not occur because of a lack of members, (there were 128 members on the roll), but rather because of the lack of interest or perhaps lack of awareness to the purpose of the Order. Ironically, the peak membership was reached during the depression years when 177 members were on the roll in 1930.

As this history comes to an end, it is interesting to record that Keota Chapter's last Worthy Matron in 1970, Genevieve White, is the grand-daughter of the first secretary in 1891, H. P. Newton, who remained a member until his death in 1929.

By Helen N. Bowers

 

KEOTA'S CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS
PAST AND PRESENT

The Keota Commercial Club

April 14, 1904. Businessmen met in town hall and adopted by-laws and elected officers. President, J.W. Stewart; 1st V. Pres., John Randolph; 2nd V. Pres., A.W. Hamill; Secretary, A.H. Richardson; Treasurer, R.M. Thomson. A committee is at work soliciting all businessmen of town to join. The iniatory fee is $3.00 with club dues at 50¢ per month. The meeting date is first Tuesday of each month.

June 5, 1913. The Commercial Club has ordered 7,000 gallons of oil for the streets. They made a sprinkler out of a watering tank and it was put on Broadway from Davis to Hamilton Streets and a short section of Fulton and Ellis Streets. About three coats were spread on — the sun seemed to heat it to right consistency and it soaked to the ground in good shape.

December 17, 1914. The Commercial Club met Friday to discuss the question of electroliers for Broadway. Up-to-date towns of any size have them.

May 26, 1922. Steps have been taken to form a Community Club here. J. B. Ochs, J. R. Hamilton, D. D. Crone, W. C. Richardson, J. G. Ranous, Will Klein, Will Hagist and George A. Lyle were appointed a committee to work out details. N. G. McNurlen was chairman of the meeting.

October 12, 1922. Community Club Defunct. The committee in whose hands was left the fate of the Community Club of Keota and vicinity decided Friday that either the public was not interested in a Community Club or that past methods of procedure had been at fault, and that the best thing to do under the circumstances was to return the money collected, most of which was by check. Consequently J. W. Helscher has returned the money collected.

 

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July 31, 1924. A Chamber of Commerce was organized by a group of business men Monday night. A constitution was adopted, officers elected, dues collected and committees appointed. An organization of this type has long been needed in this community and was sponsored by a few young businessmen. The name "Chamber of Commerce of Keota, Iowa" was chosen. Its objects will be for better co-operation among businessmen and for the betterment of entire community. Officers are to be elected once a year in March and meetings will be held the first and third Wednesday nights at 8:30. Dues are $5.00 a year. Officers chosen: W.C. Richardson, President; George W. Holmes, Vice-President; F.F. Marsh, Secretary; G.N. Wales, Treasurer.

October 8, 1925. The Chamber of Commerce made some preliminary plans last evening toward securing a community building, public auditorium, gymnasium or whatever is needed along that line can be secured. Committee: W.C. Richardson, C.A. Lacey, A.A. Clendenning, W.S. Helscher, W.C. Moser, Dr. L.R. Hinsdill and N.G. McNurlen.

August 16, 1934. A group of business, professional men of Keota and farmers of the Keota Community, met at the school auditorium Tuesday night in response to a general invitation for the purpose of organizing a community club. The purpose of the meeting was a desire on the part of the Chamber of Commerce and the Lions Club to merge themselves into a more representative group, representing the town and its trading territory. At a meeting held September 6th, officers of the new club were elected: E.V. Valenta, President; C.D. Kirkpatrick, Vice-President; J.M. White, Secretary-Treasurer; a Board of Directors for one, two and three years respectively: R.A. Wornstaff, Ed Hotle and J.W. Helscher. The third Monday of each month was chosen as regular club meeting night. The matter of dues was voted on but no decision was reached.

September 6, 1934. The new Community Club will hold its first meeting tonight.

As of 1973 the Community Club is still very active in Community activities. The members, numbering at this time 41, include most of the business people of the town.

Their projects in the past several years have been the annual Easter Egg Hunt for children, the Fun Festival held in July, the Halloween Parade for children and the Christmas drawings held the last three Saturdays before Christmas. They also support financially the local Pee Wee, Little League and Pony League baseball program, the Girl Scouts, Explorer Scouts and any other community activities which might need help.

1973 officers of the Community Club are:
Roger Richardson, President
Mel Leiting, Vice-President
Gerri Doud, Secretary-treasurer

ONCE UPON A TIME

A little more than 50 year s ago the first Jaycee Organization was formed. It was known as the "Young Men's Progressive Civic Association." When the young men in the St. Louis area decided to clear the debris and litter in the vacant lots around Union Railroad Station as a gesture of civic pride, their project was a landmark for it set a precedent that would continue through Jaycee history.

The Jaycees are a civic organization working for community betterment, open to all young men. Jaycees, now more than a million strong, work for over 6,000 communities in the nation and over 90 countries throughout the world.

On March 6, 1952, Keota formed its first chapter. It consisted of 26 young men between the ages of 21 and 36. During the last 21 years the organization has had many accomplishments such as: building the first shelter and tennis court in Wilson Park; door-to-door collections for Mental Health; led and supported the Rubella Campaign in this community. Each year they sponsor an All-Sports Banquet in Keota honoring our young athletes, plus many many more too numerous to mention.

The current officers are: President, Denny Lyle; First Vice-President, Matt Kane; Second Vice-President, Denny Jones; Secretary and Treasurer , Duane Sprouse; State Director, Steve Seaberg; Directors, LeRoy Ewald, Mike Hawkins, Duain Osborn, Larry Sanders, Garry Wallerich and Gordon Weber.

KEOTA LIONS CLUB

The first Keota Lions Club was chartered on the night of August 23, 1932, with the following 33 charter members:

E. N. Amsberry
B. B. Brown
B. J. Byrne
H. D. Corell
A. A. Clendenning
F. L. Dasher
C. C. Dawson
Dr. J. L. Doyle
J. Forest Embree
C. A. Fosdick
R. A. Wornstaff
E. C. Gilbert
J. C. Good
J. W. Helscher
W. S. Helscher
Dr. R. R. Hulse
C. D. Kirkpatrick

F. A. Klein
Leo A. Klein
F. F. Marsh
D. I. Pence
Walter R. Stoutner
Dr. F. O. Pershing
Rev. O. B. Rogers
W. H. Ross
W. C. Richardson
George J. Gyle
H. E. Seydel
Lester G. Smith
H. W. Statler
C. J. Stewart
W. F. Stoutner
J. C. Stoutner

 

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Jerald Blasi
Cliff Conklin
Harold Fink
William Henderson
Jim McCrabb
Jim Moore
Donald Norenberg
Allen Palmer
Lewis Powell
Leland Roegner
Ronald Shafer
Clarence Smith
Forrest Tucker
Keith Wells
Austin Zehr
Robert Beck
Dr. K. L. McGuire
Jim Henderson
Gene Williams
Ed Rains

Jim McCrabb was the first president of this second Lions Club, which has flourished and been active, consisting now of the following members:

Robert G. Adams
V. H. Barnum
James R. Bell
Donald F. Bermel
Dorvin N. Bohr
Don Callen
Richard A. Carmichael
George E. Chase
Clifford L. Conklin
Maurice G. Conrad
Norbert J. Flanders
H. Clayton Funston
Paul Hammes
J. S. Harding, Jr.
William H. Henderson
Keith Herr
Raymond C. Herr
H. Wesley Jones
Keith Kent
C. D. Kirkpatrick
John E. Klein
Donald N. Laing
Melvin C. Leiting
Elvin H. Luers
Richard Lyle
Robert F. McDowell
Thomas B. Mills
Deane Morris
Doyle M. Palmer
O. D. Palmer
Lewis J. Powell, Jr:
Roger A. Richardson
Robert S. Schreurs
Ronald C. Shafer
Dale F. Singleton
Walter A. Smith
Bruce Stoutner
Marion D. Stoutner
Forrest Tucker
William Keith Wells
William F. Werning
Wayne L. Zehr

Ron Shafer is president this year, with Bill Henderson holding the office of secretary and treasurer.

The greatest fields of Lions endeavor are in connection with sight conservation and work for the blind, community betterment, health and welfare, boys and girls. The Keota Lions Club also sponsors the local Boy Scout troop.

The expansion of Lionism has continued steadily since its inception in June 1917. It has grown to 21,700 clubs in 140 countries on six continents, and expects to enroll its one millioneth member this year.

CHIP AND SEE ROCK CLUB

On the evening of January 19, 1968, a meeting was held at the Trier Sale Barn to organize a local Rock Club. Thirty-seven interested people from Keota and the surrounding community were in attendance.

A name "Chip and See" was picked as an appropriate name for the club. Boyd Trier was elected as the first president of the club. With his help and the work of many others, the club flourished.

Club activities include field trips to quarries for various rock specimens of which many fine pieces of rock jewelry have been made by the members. The members visit with other rock clubs in the area to get acquainted with them and their activities. The club has been having a show and swap every year since the club was formed. People bring rocks of various shapes and sizes to be displayed or to be traded. This has proved to be a very successful and interesting activity that has been promoted by the club.

The "Chip and See Rock Club" has been a member of the Midwest Federation of Mineralogical and Geological Societies and of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies for several years.

 

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WASHINGTON COUNTY NEIGHBORS

Several flourishing towns in the west part of Washington County were once neighbors of Keota. Although these once promising towns have vanished, the areas are still considered as Keota territory. These areas are now a part of the Keota Community School District. Today these are ghost towns but just a few year s ago they could be found on most Iowa maps. It is interesting to note a short history of these areas.

HISTORY OF NIRA, IOWA.

The little town of Nira, Iowa, which was located in Lime Creek Township, in the northern part of Washington County had boomed to several hundred people before 1900 as a result of coal mining. In later years the Rock Island Railroad was built through there. It was the Muscatine & Montezuma Line.

It was an unusual name for a town, its origin going back to 1880. April 3, 1880, the town was first named Lewiston, in honor of Lawyer J. H. Lewis. The P. O. Department rejected this name because there was already one Post Office of that name in the State. It was then christened "Carris" but as there was a Post Office of nearly the same name, this too failed to stick. When Col. W. B. Bell was postmaster at Washington, Iowa, in 1880, the little town was becoming quite a shopping center. It was to have a post office and so, as was the custom, the postmaster at the county seat was given the honor of naming the new "child." On Col. Bell's desk was the picture of his wife Mrs. Nira Bell. "Why not name it Nira." It was short, it caught the public fancy and "Nira" it became. (Another story has it that the first child born in the town was Nira Moffit.) The land for the town site was given by H. W. Lewis.

At one time this town had a church, depot, cheese factory, livery barn, lumber yeard, blacksmith shop, hotel, saloon, shoe cobbler, elevator, stock yards, doctor, a barber shop and a school.

This town suddenly sprung into prominence when the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) flourished in 1933 during the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration, when it was decided to print NIRA stamps. These stamps were to be placed on sale at Nira, Iowa, the first place in the United States. Never before had the town seen such a crowd. People came from all over the country to buy first day issues of the stamp.

TOWN OF PARIS (VALLEY)

The town of Paris in Dutch Creek Township, Washington County, was laid out by Eleazar Kincade (who donated the land). The town was surveyed and platted on April 23, 1846. A plat of the town of Paris explains that the streets were all 66 feet wide and met each other at right angles. The alleys were 16 1/2 feet in width. The lots were 66 feet in front and extended back 132 feet and were known by their respective numbers on the plat. There was also a "publick" square and the streets were named North Street, Jackson Street, Jefferson Street, South Street, Polk Street and Main Street.

It was named Paris by a Frenchman, John Reinhart, for his native city, Paris, France.

Valley was the name of the post office from 1851 to 1905 at the town of Paris. The name of the town was later changed to Valley.

At one time there was a blacksmith shop, saloon, general store, post office, two churches and a school. Among some of the postmasters were Chas. Singmaster, Frank Singmaster, Mort Young, John Frank and H. V. Frank.

St. Paul's Evangelical Church was organized in 1857. In 1932 the church celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Another church, the Cambellite or Christian Church, also existed in Paris but never was used after the second German Evangelical Church was built around the turn of the century.

DUTCH CREEK (DUBLIN)

The Dutch Creek post office was located in Dutch Creek Township, Washington County, from 1845 to 1879. Here was also located a town, or rather a site for a town, called Dublin. The plat was never recorded. Dublin was the name of the post office kept at a country store from 1879 to 1905 receiving daily mail delivery in the early days from Washington by stage coach. In 1879 Dublin had a newspaper called The Dublin Star.

The Dublin grocery store was owned and operated by Walter Wolfe from 1903 until June 1964 when it closed due to the death of Mr. Wolfe. The store was a long-time meeting place for the residents of the Dublin area and at one time housed the I.O.O.F Lodge. The store has in more recent years been made in to a museum.

SEVENTY-SIX CENTER

A post office was located near the center of 76 Township in the Anton Moody home from 1870 to 1873.

The Zion Center Church was situated at the southwest corner of Section No. 15 which was the geographical center of "76" Township, Washington County, a few miles to the northeast of Keota. The congregation was organized and for the first few years its meetings were held in the "76" school house near at hand. At a later date, a church building was erected at a cost of $1,800. This church organization was identified with the United Brethren Church and for years had been known as Zion Center United Brethren Church of 76 Township, Washington County Iowa.

The January 31, 1872, issue of The Washington County Press states that "The United Brethren are holding a series of meetings in 76 Township. The organization had not been previously incorporated until December 30, 1893. The officers at that time were L. W. Nuttall, President; George W. Weller, Secretary; and L. W. Nuttall, George W. Weller, William Green, Anthony Moody and Israel Davis were trustees. It is noted that they owned a cemetery east of and near the church over which they held control and granted permits for interments.

 

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A glimpse into the past...

From The Keota Eagle of January 21, 1906 — "The Seventy-Six Cemetery is now a thing of the past. Since the United Brethren Church was sold the cemetery gradually fell into disuse and it was found necessary to remove bodies to other cemeteries as the ground was wanted for farming. On one day eight bodies were moved to the Keota cemetery. Three more bodies will be removed as soon as papers are properly made out. That will be nearly all who are buried there."

The former church was eventually sold by the United Brethren to Harley Hardin who moved the building across the road and converted it into a double corn crib.

The Methodist Conference held meetings in the old United Brethren Church until the church buildings were sold. The Methodists were then without a place to hold services for a time. At first they were to go in with the West Chester parish and finally held services in the school house. Then in August 1904 occurred the dedication of the Seventy-Six M. E. Church. Dr. J. W. Hancher of Mt. Pleasant was present and conducted the dedication services. A number of Keota people were present and they said it was one of the neatest small churches in the entire country. The total cost was $1,781.92 and all except $414.92 was paid previous to dedication. Dr. Hancher proceeded to raise this amount by public subscription which was done in an hour or two. The church was then in charge of Rev. W. H. Dillon of the West Chester M. E. circuit.

The membership of the church grew less and less — older members passed on and others moved from the community. As the membership became so small they could no longer operate the Keota M. E. Church shared their minister. The little church finally closed. Rev. Rayhill of Keota was serving as pastor at the time. Most of the members placed their membership with the M. E. Church in Keota.

When the Seventy-Six Church was built, the church board did not deed the property to the Methodist Conference. Anthony Moody had given the land for a church building site to have and to hold so long as there were religious services held there. After the church closed the men of the community raised the money to buy the land and clear up the matter. In that way the building could be used as a "Community Building" by any organization or club in "76 Township" so long as they were a worthwhile and upright organization with a good cause. So it stands today to be used for the good of the community. (Most of the above information furnished by Mrs. Elsie Mayer, Keota, Iowa.)

The last year of school in the Seventy-Six School was 1945, with Miss Myrtle Anderson as the last teacher to teach in the school.

SCOTLAND NEIGHBORHOOD

P. O. Creswell

Most of the old pioneers of the Scotland neighborhood came here from 1850 to 1855 and some in the early sixties. The neighborhood came to be called Scotland because all the people of the neighborhood were of Scotch birth. Some of their names and the year they came:

George and William Morgan - 1854

Hon . David Archer - 1855

David Greigg - 1856

John C. Wilson - 1856 (His father Hon . J. F. Wilson came in 1854. He was postmaster so long in Keota.)

John Clark - 1858

David Furgerson - 1861

Other early settlers came later:

Thomas Teakle

James Lyle and others of the Lyle family.

A. M. Chesney.

As for the schools and churches they did not grow in the prairies, but had to be founded and established by these old pioneers just named.

Scotland Chuch
Scotland Church near Cresswell.

The Scotland Church was built in 1869 at a cost of $1800. Previous to this, services were held at the Scotland Schoolhouse.

Rev. D. V. Smock organized a Presbyterian congregation several years before the building of this church. By him the church was dedicated as the Lafayette Presbyterian Church.

The Scotland School House was first erected on the farm of J. C. Wilson, 1/4 mi. east of the corner. About the year 1869 it was moved to the location it was in July 1933 when a Scotland Homecoming was held at the location.

The Creswell P.O. and the Scotland Church and school was located in N. W. sections of Lafayette Township — Sections 5—6—8.

In May of 1962 it was voted to close the Scotland Church. The church building was later sold and moved away.

 

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SS. PETER AND PAUL PARISH

Clear Creek Township, Keokuk County, Iowa.—Due to the political disturbances in Germany in 1848, the strongest influx of Germans, especially from the Saar Province, occurred during the 1850's.

As a result of these political disturbances, these staunch Catholics sold their few possessions to raise transportation money for themselves and their families. The first permanent settlers of the Catholic faith, as far as is known, arrived in 1844, when the Besser family arrived from Perl, Germany. They settled on what is now Lafayette Township, near the banks of Clear Creek, and about a mile north of what is now Highway No. 92. They were soon joined by some brothers named Kramer. Mr. Besser passed away a few days after their arrival and the widow married one of the Kramers.

In 1846 the Bessers were followed by a number of their neighbors from the old country. Most of these settled in Clear Creek Township, which was plentifully supplied with wood and water. Among these were the names of Peiffer, Berg, Horras and Kiefer. Many of their descendants are still living here, some on farms of their forefathers.

Arriving in America and Clear Creek Township, Keokuk County, Iowa, their faith was kept alive by wandering priests who occasionally visited the area. Services were usually held in the Berg home. It was the "palace" of Keokuk County, as it contained two instead of the usual one room. The first Catholic cemetery was laid out on a corner of this farm. Later on most of the bodies were moved to the Baden and Clear Creek cemeteries, but the location of a few were lost and are still buried there. It has been said that Mr. Nicholes Berg, a grandson of the original owner, did not farm this particular spot out of respect for the bodies buried there.

It was at Berg's Grove June 26, 1855, that the first Catholic couple of the congregation, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. B. Streigel, was married by Father Krackel of Ottumwa.

In 1856, Rev. William Emonds, by order of Bishop Loras of Dubuque, visited the settlement for the purpose of establishing a parish. The bishop imposed the condition that 20 acres of land be donated for a Church site and cemetery. It was necessary to supply pasture for the priest's horse as in those days the pastor would be an itinerate one, who would have to journey from mission to mission scattered throughout the countryside.

The people of Clear Creek and Southeastern Lafayette Township held a meeting and purchased 21 acres near the center of Clear Creek Township. A log building stood on this property and it was remodeled into a suitable Church. However it was not until 1859 that they were able to arrange to have monthly services. Mr. Constantine Buch was selected as lay reader, to read the scriptures and lead the congregation in prayer, etc., on the Sundays when the pastor was not present. He occupied this position until a resident pastor was appointed.

By 1863 the parish had grown to over 50 families and a larger Church was essential, so a brick building was erected. This stood just to the west of the present Church. Records show that on February 25, 1863, $337 was paid to Joseph Kramer for brick. Brick for the succeeding Church was to cost $1,000 even though the brick was made on the Church grounds. The corner-stone was laid on May 3, 1863, by the pastor, Father Schneider. The old brick Church was an imposing structure for its time. The edifice endured until 1898 when the larger present Church was built.

The first resident pastor arrived April 1893. He was Rev. Joseph Rangger. He made his home with Nicholas Peiffer, son of one of the founders of the parish, who lived nearby, until a rectory could be built. The present beautiful edifice, Gothic style of architecture, heated by furnace and with a 150 foot spire, the tallest structure in Keokuk County, was dedicated free of debt on April 18, 1899. The building is a marvel of architectural beauty.

The corner-stone in the foundation of the new Church was laid June 10, 1898. A large crowd assembled to witness the ceremony.

From the old files of The Keota Eagle some interesting facts are noted regarding the new Church:

December 17, 1897. The Catholics of Clear Creek Township are preparing for the building of one of the finest Churches in Keokuk County. Its cost will be about $12,000 which amount is to be raised by subscription, much of which has already been donated. The Church is to have eight large, handsome stained glass windows costing $100 each, donated by members.

They are preparing to make their own brick upon the site of their new Church building. Machinery will be shipped in for the purpose and experts hired to come and conduct the manufacturing operation with 250,000 bricks to be made.

December 1, 1898. Joe Akey began the big job of lathing the Clear Creek Catholic Church. He gets 2 1/2¢ a yard and can stowaway $2.50 or $3.00 a day easily. The task will require a couple of weeks of his time.

As a place of residence for the pastor was necessary a rectory was built at a cost of $1,400 by February of 1894.

A new priest's house at Clear Creek was erected in 1912. C. Hammes had the contract and was to cost $4,500, heated by hot water and lighted by one of Roy White's acetylene gas plants.

On July 1, 1930, the parsonage was destroyed by fire. Even though the depression was under way, it was decided to erect a new rectory as soon as possible, but it wasn't until August 1, 1942, that the mortgage was burned at a gala celebration.

On June 27, 1911, the Golden Jubilee of SS. Peter & Paul's congregation was celebrated. Rev. P. Kern delivered the sermon in German after Mass. He was pastor at Clear Creek 25 years before. He recalled changes wrought since his day. Father Grothe, another former pastor, spoke about the growth of the parish. Many priests were in attendance. Following this there was the blessing of the Crucifiction Group erected in the cemetery.

 

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