Part 1 (of 3 parts)

The year 1911 opened for Rock Rapids with a near tragedy-extremely cold weather-and a general optimism that with the tight money situation of the 1907-08 period well passed, better things were in store for this area.

The weather was extremely cold, according to newspaper reports. New Year's Eve there was a stiff north wind blowing and some snow, making it altogether unpleasant. Mike Fitzgerald was a hanger-on who had been around Rock Rapids for some months, doing a lot of drinking. When he was able, he helped out at the livery barns-where he slept. New Year's Eve he borrowed a team of horses from one of the stables and drove out southwest of town to a friend's farm, where there was to be a New Year's party. He left at a late hour and started back for Rock Rapids. He had evidently been imbibing for he went to sleep and the horses, not wanting to travel into the teeth of the near gale which was blowing, pulled into a field and stopped behind a straw stack. It was evidently some hours later when Fitzgerald came to and drove the team to town. When he was found he was in extreme pain and both legs were frozen. He was taken to the Rock Rapids house and doctors called. They shook their heads and indicated they thought one and maybe both legs would have to be amputated.

It was a couple of weeks later that the surgery was performed-it taking that length of time to get Fitzgerald into shape to stand the surgery. Drs. Crowley, Corcoran and Cottam performed the surgery, and for a few days it was feared he would not survive, but he did. Months later he was taken to Des Moines where artificial legs were fitted, and he came back here. The county was disturbed because he had no means, and the doctor's bills were higher than expected. Supervisors didn't like the prospect of having to support him for the rest of his life.

Work of rebuilding the Rock Rapids telephone system had been proceeding rapidly-with B. C. Way, general manager of the Western Electric system here frequently to check on the work. The new switchboard was in operation y January 19, when the Reporter said that operators were having some problems with the new system, but that the service was so much better than in the past that no one was complaining. In the meantime all the old lines were being torn down, the poles removed and system work being completed.

Late in January of 1911 M. D. Shutt decided he had too many horses in his string, so he traded six of them for a farm on the edge of Emmetsburg. The horses traded for the farm were Shadeland Burton, Hazel Veach, Heinie, Silk Gown and a couple of others-one being a five-year-old grey filly of considerable promise. Shutt kept Pensia Maid, John M. Johnson, El Vivillio, J. C. Simpson and Miss Aberdeen. He planned to take his horses to the grand circuit again in 1911.

Shutt had great hopes for his Pensia Maid and also he had a colt, J. C. Simpson, which looked real good. The Simpson colt had started nine times in 1910 and had won eight of the races, finishing second once. He had a mark of 2:17 3

In April the Shutt string of horses was taken to Indianapolis to start their training for the racing season.

There was considerable chagrin-along with local pride-evidenced when Shutt sold four of his horses to a Canadian millionaire from Winnipeg in midi-June. Horseman McKenzie paid $15,000 for Pensia Maid. The total sale price for the animals was $20,000. Other horses included were El Vivillio, J. C. Simpson and Lady Aberdeen. Shutt also got an agreement that if Pensia Maid should do a mile in 2:02 before the end of the racing season he was to get another $2,500. In reporting the sale it was pointed out that Shutt had bought Pensia Maid three years before for $1,500. In the first year he raced her she had won purses totaling $23,875. The next year, although she was sick at the start of the season and did not race early, she won over $30,000.

Late in June the little mare showed Shutt's confidence was well placed when she turned in a mile at 2:05 . On July 20 it was reported the mare had really outdone herself. She trotted the most sensational mile of the year at Indianapolis, when, paced by a runner, she turned the mile in 2:01 . This was the fastest mile ever trotted by a mare, with one exception, in the history of racing. That other mare was the legendary Lou Dillon.

One of Rock Rapids more popular entertainment places was Claude Eckliff's Castle theatre. There local people could see the latest moving pictures on a regular basis. Early in February Eckliff announced he had put in a new projector-one that would eliminate the "flickering," which was an accepted part of early moving picture presentations. He also put in a new "daylight screen" which was said to be a great improvement.

Liquor-its sale and consumption-had been a problem in Rock Rapids since earliest days. Local saloons were operating under a mulct law, which required that they have petitions with more than half of the voters signed up in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Petitions were circulated again at the start of 1911 and the competition between the "wets" and the "drys" was very bitter. The first of February the petitions favoring the saloons were submitted to the supervisors, it wound up in court, where Judge Hutchinson decided there were 1952 names on the petition. Of that number 127 had been withdrawn. (Often the wives of the signers, learning that their husbands had signed, made life so rough the names were withdrawn.) Twenty-seven more of the names were stricken from the list because the signatures were not the same as on the poll books. So Hutchinson ruled there were not enough signatures on the papers to continue the sale of liquor.

The situation drifted along until May when new petitions were circulated. The "drys" brought in state leaders to help in the fight, and sides were again chosen up. On June 25 the Reporter told that the petitions had been submitted to the board of supervisors. There were 1872 names on the petition. The "drys" filed 66 withdrawals of names which had been signed-while the "wets" countered by filing 20 withdrawals of withdrawals. The board of supervisors counted the names and decided that enough had signed to legalize the saloons, and said they could continue to operate.

Various court actions were started, and the first of December the second petition came up before Judge Oliver for review. He decided that there were not sufficient signatures on the document to make sale of liquor legal, and ordered that the saloons be closed. He did, however, grant a stay so that the saloonkeepers could appeal to the Supreme Court-which appeal was taken.

Lakewood Farm held another of their famous livestock sales at Sioux City. Eighty-one animals were offered at the sale, which brought together buyers from a very wide area. The first 71 animals sold went for an average of over $600 each-but the last 10 did not do so well so the average for the sale was $548.75. Highlight of the sale was when Iolanthe, a champion mare was sold. She went to an Illinois man for $3500-the highest price ever paid for a Percheron mare-or any other breed of draft mare in the United States.

There had been a running fight going on for years between the Republican controlled county government and the Rock Rapids Review, which was operated by Pat McCarty, with R. F. Creglow as his reporter-editor. They were constantly charging irregularities in county business, blaming the board of supervisors for everything imaginable.

P. W. Weberg had been county treasurer and was a highly respected official. He died in 1910 and rumors persisted that his accounts were not in proper shape. The board of supervisors finally called in the town's three bank presidents, O. P. Miller of the Lyon County National Bank; Charles Shade, First National Bank; and Frank Sutter, Iowa Savings Bank. They empowered these men to hire an auditor and make such audit of county business as seemed to be proper. The Reporter said in its issue of February 23 that especially they were to check into road and bridge contracts, work, and payments.

L. A. Wilkinson of Des Moines was finally hired to come here and make an audit of the county books. He worked for some three months and then filed a claim with the Weberg estate for $9,011.70 saying there were numerous small irregularities and unaccounted for items, in various accounts.

Lawyers were brought into the situation, and the Weberg family demanded that bill of particulars be filed so they could investigate the situation. They also demanded that another auditor be employed, as they were not satisfied with the work done by the Des Moines man.

The middle of December, McCarty, who wasn't able to whip the board of supervisors into line, filed a request with the attorney general of Iowa that he remove N. Hampe, the Chairman of the Board, and Evert Klinkenborg, one of the supervisors, from office, charging them with mishandling county business, secrecy in handling official business and other matters.

It was the continuation of a campaign that went on for years-but the board was never found guilty of anything.

There was a definite spirit of optimism in the air with the start of the New Year. On March 12 the Reporter said that there would be the biggest building boom in the community's history. It said that F. E. Barber was having plans drawn for four cottages to be built on his property. G. J. Heins, William Berkholtz, E. A. Hunt, T. A. Olsen all bought lots and were starting new homes. The Anchor Concrete Stone Company was planning on installing a small foundry to make some of its castings, and would enlarge its operations. John Olsen was just finishing two major buildings on main street-one for the Anchor Company and the other for his sisters, who operated a millinery and dressmaking business.

Farmers living on the rural telephone lines out of here were dissatisfied with the service they were getting and B. C. Way, who was top man for Western Electric Telephone Company, which owned the system, came here in March to see if some sort of deal could be worked out. Out of the meeting the parties came to a tentative understanding that the lines were worth about $15.50 per subscriber. The matter was left there for some time-for further negotiating. Both the company and the patrons wanted a change.

The last of March Rock Rapids lost a very prominent physician and surgeon, when Dr. G. G. Cottam and his wife packed their household goods and shipped them to Sioux Falls. Cottam was probably the areas best known surgeon and he indicated he needed substantial hospital facilities for his work. The new McKennan Hospital at Sioux Falls was nearing completion, and he planned to join the staff of that facility.

There was much talk, that spring of 1911, about a proposal of the Fairview Milling Company to establish a big plant to generate electricity. The mill people figured that with a higher dam they could put in generators, build high-voltage transmission lines and serve most of the cities in the area with electricity. Nothing ever came of the proposal, but modern trends in the generation of electricity and its transmission, seem to support the basic idea of the Fairview men.

Rock Rapids people continued to like live entertainment and there were frequent shows, lectures and musicals at the opera house. On April 15 one of the more famous men of the area was the speaker. He was Cole Younger, one of the famous Younger brothers of outlaw fame. He spent 25 years in prison, and when he got out he signed up for lectures of the country on the subject, "What Life Has Taught Me."

Rock Rapids was one of the major automobile centers in 1911 and people came for miles around to buy cars here. Rhode Brothers had the EMF and Flanders lines and also sold Velie cars. Most prominent in the business was George Watson who was distributor of the Mitchell line.

Watson was a go-getter and had built a very large garage, for that day, where he sold the cars. One of his annual promotions was the summer Mitchell picnic. May 12, 1911 the annual picnic was held. A line of Mitchells a mile and a half long drove to Ashton where Restaurateur Oscar Philipp and W. S. Cooper presided at a picnic meal of major proportions. There were 37 cars in the lineup, the Reporter said, and none of the cars had mechanical trouble, although four or five of them had to stop and change tires because of punctures. Al returned safely to Rock Rapids that evening.

When the graduation of the senior class was held on May 30-fourteen young people received their diplomas. An interesting item of that ceremony was the announcement that two sisters were tops in the class. Emma Sater was class valedictorian and Bertha Sater was the salutatorian. Other members of the class were Gwendolyn Eddy, Orphy Olsen, Ora Olsen, Freida Lucas, Minnie Kendlen, Ethel Medberry, Carolyn Mak, William J. Hindt, Albert T. Klahn, Hugh McKelvey, Clarence G. Jefferis and Paul R. Roach.

Rock Rapids had an active Knights of Columbus organization and they took over the top floor of the Watson garage for their quarters. The first of June they had a big banquet and dance to celebrate the opening of the new clubrooms, with more than 100 knights and their wives in attendance. There was an orchestra and many area visitors on hand. The new clubrooms, in addition to the banquet-meeting room, had a kitchen, billiard and poolroom, reading room, toilets, etc.

The community had a lot of people who liked to travel-and many people from here were going to the west coast for the winters-to the east coast on business, and occasionally local people went abroad. Mr. and Mrs. O. P. Miller left Rock Rapids June 1 for New York, where they boarded a ship for Europe to spend three months traveling in the Scandinavian countries and throughout northern Europe.

The middle of June a group of boosters went to Sioux City to meet with highway people there trying to get them to route the new automobile road from Sioux City to Sioux Falls through Rock Rapids. Their approach was successful and the road through this county was made official. Work was to start at once improving the Lyon County part of the new highway. Delegations from Hawarden and Canton, S. D., also seeking to have the highway routed through those communities, left the meeting "in a huff" it was reported, because
the Rock Rapids delegation had their program at Sioux City.

All spring the area had been in the grips of the worst drought in many years-there just wasn't any rain and crops were suffering greatly. Public solicitation had raised money for the purchase of the services of a rainmaker. It was thought that if clouds came over, setting off some explosives might start the rain falling. This belief was fostered, old timers say, because many Civil War veterans recalled that following the big battles of that war, there was usually rain shortly thereafter. At any event, on June 25 there were clouds, and C. E. McDonald had some dynamite. He set it off and that evening there was a hard rain-1.20 inches fell, to break the drought.

In spite of the drought, which had been so severe, plans for the fair were going ahead as usual. Free acts were bought, improvements were made at the fair grounds and a big horseracing program was planned. Early Monday morning, August 14, lightning hit the training barn at the fair grounds and it soon burned to the ground. The barn was only three years old and had cost $1500 to build. The firemen couldn't do anything to stop the flames; their hose wouldn't reach far enough. The department was able to save the other horse barns-so officials said the fair would go ahead. They were highly pleased it wasn't the grandstand or floral hall that had been destroyed.

The Rock River was being "pearled" regularly by many local young men. Quite a few good pearls had been found, which brought in good sums. The summer of 1910 Otto Tonne found a beauty that sold for $500. The middle of July a pearl buyer by the name of Strohmeier from Andulasia, Illinois was here and bought a number of the 1911 find. George Dunkelbarger got $140. for two he had found: George and William Raveling got $76; John Raveling, $45; Roy Bowen, $36; and Joe Zeug got $60. The best pearl found this year was one found by a son of George Dunkelbarger. This pearl weighed 13 grains and it brought $115. The buyer found a small scratch on the gem or it would have brought a much higher price.

An item in the August 24 issue of the Reporter told of the work being done by Col. F. M. Thompson with the newly established Boy Scout patrol. He was taking the boys camping and on hikes. He was assisted in this work by Dr. Jay M. Crowley and by the Rev. J. J. Bushnell of the Methodist Church.

There was a promise of things to come in 1911 too, in the stocking that was started with ring neck pheasants. State game warden brought six pair of the birds up and released them at Lakewood Farm. He also arranged for a smaller number to be released by other farmers in the county. Game Warden Lincoln told the Reporter, as told in the issue of August 30, that he felt the birds should do well in this area. He also planned to stock a few partridge pairs, in hopes they also would multiply. Lincoln said the birds would be protected for five years and that hopefully by that time, would have increased very greatly in numbers.

One of the community's greatest tragedies occurred just before fair time in September 1911. The fair board, at the urging of local motorcycle enthusiasts had arranged for some motorcycle races at the annual show. John Borman and Frank Dougherty were tuning up their machines to enter the races, and doing some roadwork. The two young men started around a section on their machines-in opposite directions and they both came up a small raise at the same time, and crashed head on. Both were killed instantly and a fire started that destroyed the motorcycles, and burned the riders horribly. The races were cancelled.

Rock Rapids banks were doing a fine business and showing steady growth. In their statements of condition, published on December 14, the two national banks each showed slightly over a half million-dollar footings. The Lyon County National Bank had footings of $525,380.75, while the First National Bank had footings of $548,512.87.

The last week of the year one of the community's leading doctors died. He was Dr. A. M. Vail, 63 years of age, who had a heart condition and went to Chicago for consultations with doctors there. He became seriously ill and died. The body was returned here for burial on December 26. Dr. Vail had been born at Greenbrook. New Jersey in 1848.


Rock Rapids and Lyon County had pretty much reached maturity by 1912. The community was growing, farmers were making money and business people generally were prosperous. The winter of 1911 and 1912 was a rough one-one of the coldest for many years.

January and the early part of February were especially cold and heavy snows tied things up pretty generally. The first week in February trains on all three lines serving Rock Rapids were running hours late because of snow drifts-the Rock Island trains were a full day late at one time. The Reporter told how on the first weekend of the month the Rock Island came through a day late. It had double headed engines and closely followed a snowplow, which was also propelled by two engines. The next week things got straightened out and train schedules improved rapidly.

The weather report for January was emphatic-it was cold. During the month there were 22 days when the mercury went below zero and on 10 days it never got as high as the zero mark.

Lakewood Farm continued to be nationally famous for its fine Percheron horses and early in January the McMillens had 16 of their horses at a sale in Lewiston, Idaho. They stole the show and brought $16.310 at the auction. This was over a thousand dollars a head as an average and provided conversation for a long time. Top stallion at the show was Fairbanks, which brought $1700.

In 1912 Rock Rapids had a small, but highly vocal Socialist party. It held regular meetings and came up with a lot of progressive ideas. On January 11, following a meeting of the group, of which Dr. J. E. North was a prime mover, the group called for an election among the citizens to provide free textbooks to every pupil in the local school system. The group said that while it would hurt business for a couple of establishments it would save parents substantial sums of money. A committee was named to collect signatures for the petition asking for the vote.

But other groups were also busy. The Good Citizenship League of the county met and unanimously decided to pay a reward of $25. to any resident of the county who would supply evidence to county officials or to the league, about violations of the liquor laws. The decided that the bootleggers must go.

County Attorney Simon Fisher was also active in the campaign against bootlegging and bootleggers and the same week that the Good Citizenship group offered rewards, he filed charges against three alleged bootleggers and promised to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

Late in January Rock Rapids businessmen again approached the city council and urged it to build a municipal steam heating system to serve the business district. They quoted statistics from many communities in the area where such systems had been built and said they figured such a plant would provide a much needed service, at a low cost, and that it would be highly profitable because steam exhausted to the air from the community's electric plant would be used-at no cost to the plant.

Early in February the committee named by the Socialists submitted petitions to the school board asking for the vote on the proposal for free textbooks. Their petitions had more than enough signatures-211 people having joined in the request for the vote. The board decided to go ahead with the proposal and set the matter for a vote at the time of the annual school vote, March 11.

The vote was held as scheduled and the proposal for free textbooks was carried by a three to one majority. Rock Rapids was said to be the first community in the area to take this advanced educational step. At that election two directors were re-elected-C. H. Puckett and M. A. Cox. F. L. Sutter was named as treasurer of the district. Also submitted to the voters was a proposal for a two mill levy for a school house fund. The vote on this proposition was 151 "yes" and 43 "no."

Weather, politics and agriculture were no the only interests at that time for the community. The Sons of Hermanns Lodge rooms were the scene of weekly dances, which drew big crowds. The Castle Theatre was showing silent films for full houses and there were frequent road shows at the Armory. There was much interest in the theatre here and Hal Barber's theatrical company was busy all the time. In February they gave a one-act play "The Sunset of a Woman's Life" and the following week presented a three-act comedy, "Hunting for Smith."

Early in February of 1912 steps were taken to disband the Knights of Pythias Lodge. The group had been struggling for a number of years-competing with the Masonic Lodge. They finally voted to disband and surrender the charter for the lodge. All of the paraphernalia was up and shipped back to the grand lodge of Iowa.

The Masonic Lodge was very active here and the various orders of that lodge were holding regular meetings and inducting new members.

In May steps were taken for the formation of a Knights of Columbus Lodge. The chartering of the lodge was a big event. Lodge rooms had been rented over Watson's Mitchell garage and fixed up. The day of the chartering the Rev. Father Dullard conducted a special High Mass for the occasion at Holy Name Church and there was a line of march of more than 150 people from the church to the lodge rooms. Then the group went to the armory where a grand banquet was held with places set for 350 people. Fifty-two members were initiated with this first class. Grand Marshall Frank Hentjes of LeMars with a special team of members, conducted the initiatory rites. Delegations were here from George, Sheldon, Sioux Falls, Worthington, Ellsworth and other communities.

In December the KCs held another initiation and took in 38 more new members. The banquet connected with that event was attended by 325 people.

Rock Rapids' leading banker, O. P. Miller, was also very prominent in the Methodist Church. He went to New York early in February to attend the meeting of the book committee of the general conference of the Methodist Church. At the same time, he, as treasurer of the general conference, helped set up the program of meetings, dates and locations for annual church conference sessions.

Rock Rapids had excellent train service at the start of 1912-there were two passenger trains both east and west on the Rock Island Daily, the Illinois Central had two passenger trains each way, north and south each day-and the Bonnie Doon's engine, baggage car,
and coach, with which there were frequently some boxcars, went through here every morning from Doon to Luverne and back every evening.

The last of February, Agent Alexander, on the Illinois Central, had a wire announcing the discontinuance of the IC passenger train that went south at 6:30 in the morning and back at 5:12 in the afternoon. The train was dropped, the railroad said, because there were not enough passengers to justify its operations.

The last of March the Rock Island decided it too would reduce service, and the passenger train going east at 7:30 in the morning and back at 8 o'clock in the evening was taken off.

Local citizens were very much upset wit the discontinuance of service and protested loudly. The Illinois Central relented and said they would put their passenger service which had been discontinued back in operation, but the Rock Island never did reinstate its service.

W. C. Wycoff had owned the Clark Automatic Telephone Company in Rock Rapids, and had also started a number of rural phone lines out of this place, when he sold his Rock Rapids system to the Western Electric Telephone Company. They did not take over the rural lines.
The 12 lines operating out of Rock Rapids were incorporated as a mutual system, and the incorporation ran out in 1912. A new corporation was formed to take over the property, and they decided to hire competent linemen and improve the system so that customers would get better service.

Rock Rapids had not been entirely happy with the service provided by the company that took over the telephone plant here. In July B. C. Way, head of the company of Mason City, came to Rock Rapids and met with the council. He discussed with them the provisions in the franchise which the company took over and under which it operated which provided that the company would provide free telephone service to all the towns in Lyon County. Way finally agreed that if the council insisted they would have to comply, but he told them that the toll lines between the various towns would be so loaded with free calls that important calls probably wouldn't get through. He pointed out that the 10 cents, which was charged for in-county calls was not excessive.

Much interest was evident when in March the Rock Island lines carried a special dairy train along its lines and stopped in Rock Rapids for a time. The train was equipped with displays, there were lectures and lots of information about how to build dairy herds and make more money out of dairying. The train was switched over the Illinois Central lines later in the month and again stopped in Rock Rapids for a program here. It was estimated that about 600 people visited the train both times it was here.

Lyon County had not had a real good scandal in its official family for a long time, but one seemed to be building up. A. P. Weberg of Inwood had been County Treasurer, and following his death, Joseph Weberg was appointed to finish out his term. Evidence turned up that the books were not correct, and L. A. Wilkenson was employed to come here and audit the office. He worked on the matter for a long time. An estimated shortage of $9,011.70, which had been reported, was really $14,609.79 the auditor said. Later investigation showed that some of the alleged delinquencies were incorrect. Wrong entries, improper handling of delinquent taxes, etc. entered into the picture.

E. C. Roach was attorney for the Weberg estate and Simon Fisher was the County Attorney. They wrangled for months about the matter. The board of supervisors considered the subject numerous times and Wilkenson failed to show up for several meetings with the board to get the matter adjusted.

Wilkenson continued auditing various county offices. He reported that the Sheriff was short about $1,018.74 but after the board checked the reports and found some errors it was determined that actually Sheriff Wheatley was short $37.64. Clerk Guy Spratt also was said to be short in Wilkenson's report, but after this was checked out the shortage was found to be $1.74.

Finally in December Auditor Wilkerson and members of the board of supervisors got together and came to the conclusion that the Weberg shortage was something over $3,000 and the attorneys for the county and the estate finally agreed the estate would pay Lyon County $3,000 and the whole matter would be dropped.

The city election in March turned out to be a real hot contest for one seat. That was in the third ward where the citizen's candidate, W. E. Dunkelbarger, was challenged by an independent, Ralph Julian. The vote turned out to be a tie and the men drew straws-Julian being named as the winner.

One of the big issues before the council all year had been the matter of rates for electricity generated by the municipal electric plant. Business was good-and profits of $6,000 had piled up in the electric light fund. Rock Rapids rate for electricity was 12 cents per kilowatt up to 50 KW, after which the rate was cut in half. Superintendent W. F. Gingrich figured he could shave the rate a couple of cents and so reported to the council.

The council studied the matter for several months and finally, the latter part of October, they acted with the new rate to go into effect as of October 1. The rate was cut to 10 cents per 1,000 watts for lighting and half that much for those using commercial power. The council also extended the time for a discount for prompt payment from three days to five days and raised the discount from five percent to 10 percent for prompt payment. The new rate was said to be the lowest for any community of the size in the state of Iowa.

One of the Rock Rapids prominent businessmen died in April of 1912. He was J. W. Ramsey, president of the Iowa Savings Bank. He had been ill with hardening of the arteries for an extended period and although he had visited leading doctors in Minneapolis and other cities, could not be helped. He had come to Rock Rapids in 1883 and in partnership with E. C. Roach, had been active in the loan, real-estate and law business. He was one of the organizers of the Iowa Savings Bank. For 16 years he had served on the school board and he had been very active in other community affairs.

Rock Rapids people were very much upset by a tragedy that hit two Lester men. They were digging a well near Larchwood, when they were overcome by gas and both died. Charles Fink and Charles Bull were digging the well and were down about 75 feet. Fink was in the hole when it is thought he hit a vein of gas and was overcome. Bull went down to try and rescue his friend and he, too, was overcome.

Late in May Auditor Wilkenson and members of the board of supervisors met with the clerks and trustees of the various townships. It seemed that their books were in a mess-although it was said in the papers that the numerous errors and omissions found in their reports were technical and nothing more than technical errors. All were instructed in their duties and cautioned to do a better job.

There were 12 seniors in the 1912 graduating class from Rock Rapids High School. Members of the class were Pauline Marie Abraham, Maude B. Boone, Elizabeth J. Schnepf, Hazel May Hunter, Mabel P. Kitchen, Otto K. Wohlers, Elizabeth Creglow, Harry L. McDonald, Adolph K. Schroeder, Ruth L. Martin, Edna M. Nagel, Irene B. Wallace, Edna Nagel was the valedictorian of the class and Pauline Abraham the salutatorian. Both of them gave addresses at the commencement exercises.

Automobiles were gradually displacing horses-but there were still hitching posts for the farmers' teams and a large stable on Marshall Street where they could put up their teams while in town. Prominent in this area in the automobile business were two firms-Rohde Brothers and George Watson. Rohdes represented the Studebaker line of cars while Watson sold what was then the hottest car around, the Mitchell. Watson was a first class promoter and on June 9 he again entertained all the Mitchell owners in the area at his second annual Mitchell picnic. Owners of 83 cars gathered at the Watson garage here with their families and after a group picture the whole group went to Lakewood Farm, where Oscar Philips, the town's leading restaurateur had prepared a sumptuous feed for everyone. In the afternoon there was baseball, visiting and an opportunity to get acquainted. Rain late in the afternoon cut the party short and everyone was back in town by 4 p.m. No breakdowns were reported.

Undoubtedly the most bitter political fight-not over a local issue-built up in 1912, a fight that split friends and families. Teddy Roosevelt, who had been President up to 1908, when he sponsored the election of President Taft, decided he didn't like Taft and tried to wrest the nomination from him. Republicans did not support Roosevelt so he launched the Bull Moose Party and took after Taft-and the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson. At the Iowa State Republican Convention the delegates refused to support Taft and another convention was called for the progressives-supporters of Roosevelt. The Lyon County delegation was strong for Roosevelt and a county convention was called by Simon Fisher, Gay Smith and other Roosevelt supporters.

The campaign was a bitter one at every level. When the November election was over it was found that Wilson had been elected-with his opponents Taft and Roosevelt splitting the Republican Party right down the middle. Locally Roosevelt had the biggest vote-1348, with Taft getting 401 and Wilson 955.

The automobile age was bringing problems to the community and Marshal Carroll in July gave notice that speeders would be arrested and prosecuted. The city speed limit was 12 miles an hour and the officers said that they had better stay under the speed or suffer the consequences. He also cautioned drivers they had to have lights on their cars if they were going to drive after a half-hour after sunset or before a half-hour before sunrise.

Marshal Carroll again was in the news in October when he held his annual "dog feed." One of his duties was to take care of stray dogs and he was allowed $1 for every dog he had to send to the "happy hunting grounds." The marshal used this money each year for a banquet at which he entertained members of the city council and other city officials.

One thing Rock Rapids people could all unite on was the Lyon County Fair and 1912 saw plans for the biggest fair of all times.

Arrangements were made with the Omaha to run a special train from Worthington to Rock Rapids, by way of Luverne to bring people in for the show-leaving here after the afternoon program was over. The Illinois Central booked a bunch of coaches onto its freight train from the south to bring people here and the Rock Island did the same.

The show held the first week in September was highly successful. Attendance was 25 percent over the previous year. Bands were brought in from Worthington and Sioux Falls to play for the event; the horse races were fast and very closely contested. The agricultural displays were the best ever shown and then to top it off, the fair board hired the most famous aviator in the country to come and demonstrate his airplane. Jimmy Ward was reputed to have flown a plane from the East Coast to the West Coast-the first man to make that trip. He had a 70 horsepower Curtis bi-plane and his flying thrilled the huge crowd. He made up to four flights a day during the fair, landing and taking off from the infield at the fair grounds.

The coming of fall indicated that the county was having the largest crop for many years. Oats were threshing out at 35 to 80 bushels to the acre and corn was said to be well ahead of normal, in spite of a cold season. It was predicted that the corn yields would set a new record.

A business change of note took place in August when John Doss moved his cigar store and factory from the west part of the Hornseth building to the stone front building on Story Street, which had formerly housed a saloon. Hornseth, the shoe man, decided he needed to expand his operation into both parts of his building.

The first of September announcement was made that George Watson, the popular garage man, had been named a district distributor for Mitchell cars for the area and was opening a big garage at Sioux City. He was listed as one of the company's top sales people, if not the best in the country.

The community lost two prominent citizens in the fall of 1912. In September F. E. Barber died after a long illness of paralysis. He had been postmaster, in the land business, was a builder and for a time operated a squab farm here. He had been born in Syracuse, New York in 1845 and came to Lyon County in 1879. He was prominent in all community activities in Rock Rapids for many years.

That same month John Holliday died. Holliday, born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1843, came to Rock Rapids and Lyon County in 1884. He was a prominent farmer and then got into the machinery and threshing business and for years he and his sons, Arthur and George operated several big threshing rigs throughout the area.

In November the community lost another of its early settlers. He was C. M. Carpenter, prominent in the land business here for many years. He was born in Greene, Chenango County, New York and came to Rock Rapids in 1889. Carpenter was a prominent member of the Masonic lodge and for nine consecutive years was the master of the Rock Rapids Lodge.

The community was prosperous. Rock Rapids' two older banks, the Lyon County National Bank and the First National Bank, each showed footings in their reports of condition as of the last of November of just over a half million dollars-while the city's newest bank, Iowa Savings Bank, showed footings of $166,694.


By 1913 Rock Rapids was a flourishing small city. Farming has been profitable for several years and this made business good in the county seat.

Many of the early day settlers were moving to town and building homes-leaving sons and daughters on the home farms to make their way in the world. Times were such that a couple owning a quarter section of land could retire to town, build a home and take it easy-and the farm would support them and an operator.

People were demanding better stores and better homes. Many residents were traveling to California and Texas for the warmer winters. Conditions were stable and prosperous.

There was a demand for a new court house to replace the old building which had served for so many years and right after the first of the year petitions were circulated asking that a bond issue be voted for the construction of a new court house that would be a credit to the county. Backers were very enthusiastic and on January 9 it was reported that signatures were being secured in great numbers. At Larchwood it was claimed that better than 90 percent of the voters were signing the petitions.

On January 16 the Reporter said in a story that 625 loads of grain had been weighed over the city scales the past week. Most of this was corn. The report said that much more would have been brought in but the elevators were full-railroad cars to move the grain were in short supply and could not be secured fast enough to keep ahead of the deliveries which farm operators wanted to make.

Corn was being bought at 36 to 36 cents a bushel; wheat was worth 72 cents a bushel and barley was bringing 50 to 55 cents a bushel.

Better prices for grain were being reflected in the prices being paid for land. A new record was set when George Jeffers bought the Sheneberger place, across from the standpipe, for $225 per acre. It was a choice quarter section.

The campaign for signatures asking for an election on a bond issue for a new court house was successful and January 30 it was reported that a petition bearing 883 names had been submitted to the supervisors, asking them to call an election, which they agreed to do. At their meeting the middle of February the supervisors called the special election on the bond issue-setting the date for the vote as March 15. The proposed bond issue would be for $140,000.

When the vote was held on March 15 there were a lot of discouraged people-those who had pushed for the new court house-because the vote was 1517 to 543. Several hundred people who had signed the petition asking for the vote had not voted as their signatures on the petition had indicated they would do. Rock Rapids was the only community which voted solidly for the proposal. Here the vote was 322 to 74. Other precincts were all opposed. In George the vote was 212 "no" and only five voters voted "yes."

Many prominent citizens of the community died in 1913. They had lived long, useful lives; had contributed greatly to the growth of the community; were highly respected and liked.

On February 6 Mrs. T. K. Bradley died at her home here. She had been one of the organizers of the Women's Reading Circle, one of the founders of the library, had been active in social and community affairs. Mrs. Bradley had been born in Roscoe, Illinois in 1838. She married Thomas K. Bradley in 1860 and in 1871 they came to Rock Rapids where Mr. Bradley built the third building in town and operated a store at the corner of Main and Tama Streets. Mrs. Bradley was a devout Unitarian, but there was no Unitarian minister available for the services. Her longtime friend, Dr. North, gave the service from the "Minister's Handbook" and she was buried at Riverview Cemetery.

The last of March death came to Captain W. W. Gardner. Gardner had been in Rock Rapids since the early days. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1839 and came with his family to West Union, Iowa in 1855. When the Civil War started he enlisted as a private in Company 2, First Battalion, 13th United States Regulars. He was at the front constantly during the war and in some of the heaviest fighting. In one engagement his outfit lost 44 percent of its men in line as casualties. He rose through the ranks to be captain, and at the end of the war commanded a company of Negro soldiers. Because he commanded this unit of former slaves, southerners had a special hatred for him and were reported to have "put a price on his head." Coming to Rock Rapids Gardner was in the grain business and then for many years operated the city scales here.

The first of April Thomas J. Tupper died at McKennan Hospital and his body was brought back to Rock Rapids for burial. He was 81 years of age and had been born in Franklin County, Vermont in 1833.

May 12 Thomas Cruse Thompson, who had come to Rock Rapids in 1876, died at his home. He had been born in 1834 at Norton, Ohio, and had served throughout the Civil War. He was wounded in the battle of Winchester and was a prisoner in the infamous Libby Prison. Thompson was a banker and a lawyer. He served four years as deputy county auditor and also four years as auditor. He was also a justice of the peace.

In June P. M. Casady died at Kansas City and his body was brought to Rock Rapids for burial. He had been born at Norwalk, Iowa and came to Rock Rapids in 1882. He was associated with the late E. C. Roach in the law, land and loan business and he opened the Iowa Bank, which eventually became the Iowa Savings Bank.

On June 18 Mrs. Alexander Macnab died at the home of her son, George, in Rock Rapids. Mrs. Macnab had been born Clementine Gordon in Scotland in 1835. As a young woman she came to Canada where she was married to Alexander Macnab, an army surgeon in the British army. He resigned his commission in 1864 and came to the United States to enlist in the Union Army, where he was a surgeon throughout the rest of the war. Following the war they homesteaded south of Luverne and in 1881 they moved to Rock Rapids where Dr. Macnab resumed his practice and opened a drug store. Later he devoted full time to his medical practice until his death.

What had been expected to be a routine school election in March of 1913, turned into a stiff fight and Simon Fisher defeated H. B. Pierce for the school board. The vote was 112 for Fisher to 51 for Pierce, who had served on the board for 15 years. Mrs. J. W. Ramsey, running to take the place of her late husband on the board, was re-elected (she had been appointed to fill the vacancy) receiving 163 votes.

Community cooperation was great in 1913, and when late in March a bad fire broke out at Ellsworth, help was called for from Rock Rapids. Dr. J. J. Maloney was called and as chief of the fire department, he offered any help possible, but said there was no way to get fire-fighting equipment to Ellsworth. The problem was solved. There was a Rock Island freight train in Ellsworth and the crew unhooked all the cars but one and made a fast run to Rock Rapids. The firemen here had their carts and hose at the depot, it was loaded and a fast run was made back to Ellsworth. There the Rock Rapids department joined with their Ellsworth associates and the blaze was brought under control. Destroyed in the fire was the elevator, lumber company, electric light station, and some homes. The firemen, after the blaze was under control, rolled up their hose and came back to Rock Rapids on the west bound Rock Island, reaching here about 10 a.m.

The graduating class of 1913 was composed of 20 students. They were Clara Berkholtz, Don Collins, Rose Guile, Gilbert Hanson, Mayme Halloran, Ethel Hays, Mildred Herbert, Louise Hanson, Jennie Halloran, James Karr, Jesse Kohrt, Ida Lamb, Dale McKelvey, Glenn Mishler, Florence Morgan, Zella Oakes, Hazel Richardson, Marie Schnepf, Leonard Wheatley and Elmer Williams.

Rock Rapids boosters had for some time been trying to get the three railroads that served the community to build a union station near the crossing, north of Main Street. May 20 representatives of the three roads, the Illinois Central, the Rock Ialand and the Omaha, met with the council and agreed to make some improvements in their facilities and to build a transfer between the Illinois Central and the Omaha, so that cars could be switched here. They said "no" however to the proposal for a union station, saying that the traffic did not justify such a structure and that they did not have the money for such a project anyway.

In May another industry was firmed up for the community. Shipman Brothers announced that they had ordered equipment for a bottling works and that it should arrive in a couple of weeks. They proposed to have the plant in the East End of their buildings on Main Street between Tama and the river. They planned to start with plain drinks and later to go into ciders and drinks with carbonated water. All of course would be "temperance" drinks.

Rock Rapids learned the first of July that it would lose one of its top businessmen. George H. Watson, who operated the Mitchell Garage, announced the sale of that business to the Meester Brothers, Albert, Ed and Henry, who were in the automobile business at Ellsworth. Watson had been prevailed upon by the automobile manufacturers to open a distributing center at Sioux City-where he would serve a large area on a wholesale basis. He was lined up with the Mitchell, the Page Detroiter and King cars.

Watson didn't plan to lose interest in Rock Rapids however. He had bought property east of his garage, including the Greaser & Eckliff Blacksmith Shop, and on the property he had planned to build another garage. Work was started on this new building, to be 56 x 110 feet, the first of October. A long-term lease had been negotiated with Holliday & Smock, who planned to sell cars and have a big repair shop.

The 1913 Lyon County Fair was a big one. The program had been extended to four days with horses racing each day. A total of 20,000 people attended the show with Thursday seeing 6570 paid admissions. The races were outstanding, according to reports, and displays were the finest ever shown. The show made a slight profit.

Liquor was still a problem. Minnesota points were still selling liquor and beer and Lyon County people were drinking it. After an extended investigation Sheriff George Wheatley raided the H. A. B. Strohbeen restaurant and barbershop at Lester and the A. B. Strohbeen restaurant at Alvord. Father and son ran the two establishments. They confiscated all kinds of keg and bottled beer and arrested the men for violations of the prohibition laws. Both the Strohbeens insisted that the liquids taken were strictly near beer, and legal. Tests were made by a nearby laboratory and it was reported that the beer was two to four percent alcohol and some higher. Wheatley, the middle of the month, took the hundreds of bottles of beer and the scores of kegs of the same brew to the dump, where he demolished the containers and let the amber liquid run into the ground.

Members of the city council at their October meeting took notice of agitation for a street lighting system for the business district. They decided that an electrolier system should be built from the river to the library and from the Rock Island to the Illinois Central depots. They told business people they would set aside $1,000 for the project if the businessmen would raise an additional $1,300 which would be needed.

In November the Commercial Club and a group of citizens met for a dinner and discussed a lot of community problems. They decided they favored the street lighting plan and thought that they would have to raise $1,800 to pay their share, rather than the $1,300 originally set. In addition they talked about paving the downtown streets. Some favored concrete, but some wanted to gravel the streets. No decision was reached. Again there was interest shown in a central heating system to serve the business district, with the steam which was being wasted from the electric generating plant used as the heating agent.

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