LYON COUNTY GENEALOGY
Badwinter Part 2--
In June the oiling was started-and it proved pretty messy. Housewives raised considerable opposition to the program because of the oil that was tracked into homes-although the oil did make traffic on the streets involved somewhat better. It was pretty well agreed that oiling was not the answer.
Another project the council had under consideration was the erecting of better water storage facilities. The old standpipe-which was exactly what the name implies, had been used for years. It could hold 30,000 gallons of water-and was located on Union Street at the south edge of town. The council decided to erect a modern new 100,000-gallon water storage tank. The tower would be 77 feet high, the tank would be 22 feet high-with an electric light on top, and the storage facility would be 100 feet tall.
There were some objections to erecting the water tower at the location of the old standpipe. O. P. Miller and others who lived in the area stated that its location there would hurt the value of their home properties. The objections were overruled, as the high location of the ground in relation to the rest of the town was considered most favorable.
The contract for the work was finally let to the Des Moines Bridge and Iron Company-the contract price for the water storage was to be $3,650.
There was a brisk eastern demand for butter and eggs and W. J. Purchas' Rock Rapids Creamery Company was expanding to meet that demand. They opened an egg house in the old garage across from the Reporter office, where a half dozen men were employed to candle eggs, and small boys were employed to nail egg boxes together at two cents a box. The egg house was opened in April.
By mid-July butter output at the creamery had expanded to the point where 20,000 pounds were produced in a week-the production had grown to 3,700 pounds a day by mid-July.
In November Purchas again expanded his operations and opened a poultry department. This, too, was in the former Rohde Garage on Main Street. A crew of men worked picking and preparing chickens for shipment to the eastern market. There was much enthusiasm about the expansion. It provided jobs and it provided farmers with a good market for their chickens.
Lyon County folks were pleased when the census figures for 1915 were released. Since the 1910 census the county had increased slightly to 15,390. This was an overall gain of 735. But even then the trend to larger farms was evident, as eight of the county's 18 townships had lost population. Rock Rapids had a gain of 20 people-Little Rock had a gain of 175 and in 1915 had a population of 636. All of the towns in the county showed gains.
Citizens of George were especially proud of the claim they made to be the wealthiest per capita town in the country. This claim was based on per capita bank deposits. Prescott, Arizona had first made claim to the title with per capita bank deposits of $500 per capita and New Albia then claimed the title with $997 for each man, woman and child in that community. George banks found they had per capita deposits of $1,116 for every one of its 710 people.
In May plans were made for the annual graduation of the Rock Rapids High School. There were 21 members of the class. Its members were Burr Webber, Fred Smith, Howard Holmes, Harry Medberry, Inez Gingrich, Mildred Ross, Anita Hampe, May Dickinson, Mildred Puckett, Alma Weakley, Harold Jennings, Albert Peterson, Earl Chamberlain, Casper Hornseth, Florence Davenport, Harriet Wheatley, Catherine Hoben, Bernice Creglow, Eugenia Higgins, Elsie Peters and Ellen Boomgarten. Professor F. C. Ensign, registrar of the University of Iowa, was to be the speaker for the graduation program.
The first of June O. Keck, who owned the old Rock Rapids House on Main Street near Tama, decided to tear the old building down and erect a modern garage. The new building was to be rented to Earl Ladd, the Ford dealer for Rock Rapids. The Rock Rapids House was considered a very fine hotel for the community in the 1880's, but of late years had been turned into a rooming house and had not been a profitable operation. It was estimated to be between 40 and 50 years old.
The Rev. Amos A. Burr was the pastor of the Christian Church in Rock Rapids and he was very much interested in social matters. The stories about Henry Ford's exploitation of the laboring man in his great Detroit manufacturing plant concerned him greatly, so he made arrangements to go to Detroit and work for several weeks as a common laborer on the assembly line. He left Rock Rapids in mid-June, went to Des Moines for a few days, then went on to Detroit and went to work. He wrote letters frequently to the local papers, telling of the assembly line that had been developed in Detroit and was quite enthusiastic about good working conditions and the pay in the factory that was operated by Ford. He did find that travel conditions to and from the plant were bad, and that many of the men had to ride on streetcars an hour going to work and an hour returning home. He spoke of the constant pressure of keeping up with the assembly line, but mentioned the fine arrangements that had been made by the company to see that air in the plant was constantly changed. He also spoke highly of many of the other facilities the company offered its workers.
The Rev. Mr. Burr returned to Rock Rapids and told local people of seeing some of the bodies taken out of the excursion ship Eastland, which capsized in the river at Detroit. The vessel had been chartered to take a large group of Western Electric employees to Michigan City on a daylong excursion. The boat capsized before leaving the dock-and more than half of its 2500 passengers were drowned. It was one of the greatest tragedies of the country's history.
In 1915 the World's Fair was held in San Francisco. Railroads offered very favorable excursion rates to attend the great show and a number of people from Rock Rapids attended. On June 24 the Reporter said that among those attending the show were Mr. and Mrs. N. Hampe, Professor and Mrs. W. S. Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Smith and their sons, Fred and Paul; Mrs. Agatha Ramsey and her children, Ronald, Helen and Ruth. Many others were planning to go west for the show, it was reported.
Emil Tonne, who with Newt Rogers, had gone to Argentina, returned home. They had gone there "to make their fortunes," but found there was little to be made. Rogers returned home about a year earlier-Tonne on September 5. The European war was having a very bad effect on South American economy. Tonne had worked for the Swift Packing plant in Montevideo, but gave up the effort. He said that Montevideo had a population of about 400,000 and that there were about 100 Americans in that city.
Rural mail carriers and patrons on the routes out of Rock Rapids were disturbed when it was announced in September that four of the five carriers would be fired, the routes cut to three and each carrier would have to provide a car to be used on their routes. The new plan called for the carriers to get $1800 per year. This, the carriers said, was not enough when they had to provide the cars and maintain them. Patrons were disturbed that they would not get their mail on time and as reliably as in the past.
The last of September the First National Bank completed a major remodeling job. The bank was organized, in 1879, by Jeremiah Shade, president and B. L. Richards, cashier. Charles Shade was no president of the bank, which had combined capital of $190,000. The bank was proud of its farm loan department, which was headed by Ira Morain. It had loans out of more than $9,000,000.
When the bank held open house the first week in October, more than 2,500 people attended and inspected the improvements.
In November the annual meeting of the stockholders of the Lyon County Fair Association was held. The small group who attended heard reports of a very fine fair, but a financial loss of about $1,000. M. D. Shutt was named as president; C. J. Locker and J. H. Peacock, were picked as vice-presidents; Henry Hampe was picked for secretary. Also chosen were W. D. Carpenter as assistant secretary and E. K. Partch, treasurer.
For years there had been an effort to get the Omaha and Illinois Central to build a transfer track to the other. The state commerce commission had ordered that the work be done, but there was no action until City Attorney Fisher started legal action. Then the work was done quickly-the city putting $180 into the project.
A religious move that was to be most important to the community took place in March, when it was announced the Rev. J. W. Kots, pastor of the Holland Church at Steen, would come to Rock Rapids to establish a regular church here. It was planned that a church would soon be erected. The Society was said to have many members in the area, and currently meetings were being held at the People's Church Building, with itinerant pastors presiding.
Progress was evident everywhere in Lyon County-especially in Rock Rapids in 1916. The courthouse was almost complete. Expansion of the electric light plant was being planned. A major remodeling project was undertaken for the Iowa Savings Bank. The city was planning central steam heat for the business district-but there was a gnawing realization that war in Europe was affecting our international relations and there was a fear that the United States would be involved.
In meeting with the board of supervisors the first of January, County Engineer Wycoff told the board the plan of having bridge and culvert work done by local labor was working out fine. He said that 33 bridges and culverts had been built in 1915 and that more than $2,000 had been saved the county by having the work done under the direction of the new bridge foreman Herman Kage.
At their first meeting in January of 1916, the city council had an application by the Illinois Central Railroad for permission to build a spur track, from their depot to the new courthouse location, to facilitate the handling of the great amounts of material which would be shipped in to construct that building. The council was still a little upset because of the trouble in getting the Illinois Central and the Omaha to build a connecting track here-which had only been done after legal action was started, so they tabled the proposal for later action.
Land prices were rising steadily. Several sales at over $300 an acre were reported. Latest of these sales took place just after the first of the year when George Jeffers sold his quarter section farm across from the standpipe to Harry L. Randolph for $50,000. This was $312 an acre and Jeffers was to get the 1916 crop so it was really about $320 an acre, land people figured. Jeffers had paid $36,000 for the property two years prior and had added $4,000 improvements since taking it over.
The weather had been mild until mid-January when a bad storm hit and tied transportation up almost entirely. The storm hit on the 28th anniversary of the infamous blizzard of 1888 when a number of Lyon County people lost their lives and several others lost fingers, arms and legs by freezing. In the 1916 storm no lives were lost in the county, but three deaths were reported in South Dakota and there were a number of head of livestock lost.
Money was becoming easier and bank footings were going up. In their report of condition as of December 31, 1915, the First National Bank reported footings of $662,319.90. The Lyon County National Bank had footings of $621,181.80 and the Iowa Savings Bank showed footings of $237,972.66.
Late In January announcement was made that J. R. Skewis, who operated a men's clothing store, had sold out to C. E. and W. H. Foley of Sanborn. The W. H. Foley family was moving to Rock Rapids to take over operation of the business.
C. W. Bradley was planning on developing some flats in Rock Rapids and on January 24 it was announced that he had bought the banjo factory and it would be remodeled at once. He found in the building about 1,000 completed banjos and guitars which had not been sold by the company when it was operated and they were to be offered for sale at from $18 to $100 each. There was material and parts for about another 1,000 instruments in the old factory-along with all kinds of fine woods, including several planks of mahogany that Bradley indicated were worth about $125.
Lakewood Farm held another big sale of Percheron horses at Sioux City the first week in February. The offering consisted of young animals, which brought an average of $405 each. The sale was hurt, the McMillens said, by the fact that railroad lines were still tied up in many areas from the January storm, and many buyers who were interested could not be on hand.
Rock Rapids was proud of its schools and wanted to get a special election for approval of two levies for future improvements. They wanted a two mill contingency fund voted and they also wanted a four and a half mill levy for a schoolhouse sinking fund. In a report issued, the board said that it would take about $15,000 to operate for 1916. They expected to pay the teachers $9,500, contingency costs would be $3,600 and $1,000 would be needed for bonds and interest.
Work on the courthouse was getting started for the year and the board of supervisors met with suppliers who wanted to furnish the furniture and fixtures for the new structure. Several concerns showed up-with samples of their wares. At that same meeting members of the council and Superintendent W. F. Gingrich met with the board and talked about having the supervisors change their plans for the courthouse and heat it with city steam, rather than putting in their own heating plant. They pointed out it would be much cleaner and that it would cost the county much less. They also indicated that the installation cost could be reduced greatly from that needed for a separate heating system. Later on the supervisors decided to use the city steam heat.
Early in May the city brought in an engineer from Minneapolis to survey the community and figure out what a system could be installed for, to heat the central business district with exhaust steam from the electric plant. He told them that such a system would cost about $25,000 for the mains. It would cost property owners about $200 each to hook up to the system and install radiators for a 25-foot building and it should cost about $60 a year to heat such a store or office.
The council sent Superintendent Gingrich to Worthington to see what was going on there-where a central steam heating system was being installed. He was also sent to Litchfield, North Dakota and to Marshall and other towns in Minnesota where such systems were in use.
By June the decision was reached to go ahead with a steam heating system. It was decided that those on the lines would be charged 40 cents per 1,000 feet of condensation for the service. To make the improvement possible certificates were to be sold to business people that would bear seven- percent interest. The certificates would be used to pay their heat bill until they were used up. Twenty thousand dollars worth of the certificates were sold by the committee working on the project.
On June 29 local papers reported that contracts for equipment to enlarge and improve the electric system were let. Murray Iron Works got a contract for a new Corliss engine. The contract price was to be $2,295. Peerless Electric won a contract for a new generator. Price for the generator was left open for negotiations. Murray also got a contract for a new boiler at $1,654.
At the same meeting three contracts for sewer work were let to A. A. Dobson of Lincoln, Nebraska and C. F. Hubbard of Rock Rapids won the contract for one section of sewers.
The nest month the council opened bids for the proposed steam heating system. Low bidder for the pipe and special machinery was James E. G. Robb of Minneapolis, whose bid was $12,580. Lavelle & Hogan of Sioux City was low on the bid for the work of installing the system with a bid of $13,648. The council was elated with the bids, saying they were lower than expected. Work was to start at once, and it was expected that by the time cold weather set in the steam heating service would be ready to go.
In the issue of the Rock Rapids Review of July 20, 1916, John W. Carey made his bow to the community as its new owner and editor. Carey had been editorial writer for the Sioux City Journal. P. H. McCarty had been editor of the Review for many years and following the election of Woodrow Wilson, the Democrat as President; McCarty had sought and finally won appointment as postmaster for Rock Rapids. He tried to be postmaster and run the paper for a couple of years and then decided it was too much, so he sold the Review to Carey. The new publisher announced that his family would move to Rock Rapids from Sioux City in September.
With a new boiler, generator and engine being installed, the council decided that a new smoke stack was needed, so plans for a "100-foot stack was drawn up."
By the middle of September good progress on the installation of the heating system was made. It was now expected that total cost of the project would be between $27,000 and $28,000-enough heating certificates had been sold to pay for much of the improvement, but the council was getting many complaints from folks who were not in the area to be served, and who thought they were being discriminated against.
The council decided they would raise the price of the steam 25 percent, with the charge being 50 cents per 1,000 feet of condensation, which they hoped would stop some of the complaints.
In the meantime the county supervisors decided to put city steam in the courthouse, which was rapidly being completed.
The middle of November the community was getting a little upset with slow progress on the heating system. The contractor told the council that he was unable to get enough men to do the work as rapidly as contemplated, but he assured the city fathers that there were only a few days work left to hook up the courthouse and the library. Work in the business district was further behind, and dragging badly.
On December 9 steam was turned into the system for the first time-the only customer completely hooked up was the courthouse-but it was promised that others would be given service just as rapidly as possible.
A new firm opened for business in Rock Rapids late in February of 1916-it was the Interstate Mutual Automobile Insurance Association of Iowa. The firm was organized to provide insurance on cars against fire, lightning and tornado. Incorporators of the new company were N. Hampe, Simon Fisher, J. J. Maloney, H. T. Hampe, C. W. Bradley, E. J. Riegel and E. A. Tonne. N. Hampe was named president of the group; C. W. Bradley, vice-president; H. T. Hampe, treasurer and E. A. Tonne was named secretary and operating head of the group.
The first of March a prominent Rock Rapids attorney threw his hat in the ring seeking the Republican nomination for Congress from the 11th Iowa District. He was S. D. Riniker. Long active in Republican politics. Riniker had been District Councilman and had held other posts in the party.
Improved conditions in Rock Rapids were evident in the report of the city clerk issued in March which showed that during 1915 he had issued permits for the construction of 28 new residences during that year. The value placed on these homes, in the applications was over $135,000.
The last week of March saw a political milestone erected in Rock Rapids. It was the first time that women had been allowed to vote. The issue was on the matter of the issuance of bonds that were proposed for building a heating system and for other improvements, mainly to the electrical plant and the sewer system. Both proposals carried. More than half of the votes cast in the election were cast by women. In the first ward 20 women voted; in the second ward there were 41 women voters and in the third ward 40 women cast their first ballots.
Rumors that Rock Rapids needed additional power for its electric plant had gotten around and the Northern States Power Company, with headquarters at Minneapolis, sent a man here to discuss a proposal that the city buy electricity from that company, which would come to the city over a high-line. The matter was discussed at several meetings and then dropped as the council figured the municipal plant could generate the 'juice' cheaper than they could buy it from the outside.
In April the Iowa Savings Bank announced plans for a major rebuilding of their banking quarters. They had employed an architect to design their new quarters, and while the work was going on announced the bank would conduct its business from the old meat market building on the East Side of Story Street. Control of the bank had changed hands in recent months when N. Hampe and F. L. Sutter had bought the stock held by the estate of J. W. Ramsey and by E. C. Roach. Sutter was to be the operating head of the bank.
Always on the lookout for outstanding talent for the Lyon County Fair, the board and officers of the association signed a contract for flights here by Ruth Law, the foremost American aviatrix. Miss Law was nationally known for her flying. Her coming appearance at the fair was widely advertised over the area and probably had a lot to do with the large crowds that attended the 1916 fair. The first two days Miss Law performed admirably. The last day the flying conditions were not as good and she was having trouble with the engine on her plane, so she did not loop-the-loop as her contract specified she would do. When the directors came to settle up with her husband-who was her manager-there was an argument. The board wanted to dock her pay $50 for failure to comply with the contract. The husband got nasty-so the board cut her pay $100 and made it stick.
Miss Law's plane was shipped to Rock Rapids in crates, and erected here before the performances. She had a Curtis plane, which cost $7,500, and it had a 90 horsepower engine. From here the plane was shipped by train to Fort Dodge, then to Des Moines and later to Sioux City, where she also performed.
Automobile travel over long distances was not a common thing in 1916, but that did not deter some local people. In May Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Pierce went to Sioux City and joined their son, Ralph, and his wife, and started on a motor car trip to New York. Mr. Pierce wanted to attend the annual meeting of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which was being held at Saratoga Springs.
The Pierces were most enthusiastic about the trip. They wrote friends here they made the trip in 95 hours running time. This time was spread over a 10-day period. They averaged a tremendous 18 miles an hour while driving. Overall mileage per day was 124 miles, but on one day they covered a total of 277 miles.
That fall, Pierce, who was a prominent lay man in the Methodist Church, was honored at a meeting of the Northwest Iowa Conference of the church by being elected president of the Layman's Association. Prominent in both the Saratoga Springs and the Spencer meeting was another Rock Rapids man, O. P. Miller, who was treasurer of the General Conference of the church in its worldwide activities.
May brought graduation to the senior class of the Rock Rapids High School and 22 seniors received their diplomas. In the class were: Helen Ramsey, Helen Sanders, Ethel Pingrey, Aileen Hoben, Lucille McMain, Ida Finck, Rose Nelson, Violet Cook, Dewey Jennings, Ronald Ramsey, Richard Rolfe, Irene Alpaugh, Margaret Julius, Celesta Pirwitz, Emma Hasselmann, Dorothy Hampe, Catherine Halloran, Gertrude Lamb, Julia Hanson, Carlton North, Frederick Parker and Merle Wilson.
Another major event of May was the laying of the corner stone for the new courthouse. The Rock Rapids band played several selections on Main Street, then paraded to the courthouse playing patriotic music. Simon Fisher began the ceremonies and introduced E. C. Roach, who was chairman for the event. The Rev. A. A. Burr gave the invocation. Judge W. D. Boise of Sheldon, and Judge William Hutchinson were the featured speakers.
In the box which was placed in the corner stone were historical material, records of church and fraternal organizations, copies of all newspapers published in the county, as well as the Des Moines and Sioux City papers. Also placed in the box was an American flag.
While most people's attention was focused on the great war going on in Europe, General Francisco Villa was creating a lot of problems along the Mexican border-raiding American towns and killing our citizens. President Wilson finally ordered an expeditionary force into Mexico to put a stop to the situation and the National Guard was mobilized. Five young Rock Rapids men immediately enlisted in Company E of Sheldon. That company had already moved to Des Moines and the local boys joined the company there and were immediately transferred with the unit to Texas and the border. The local enlistees were Hilbert Selfe, Harold Dunkelberger, Bernie Berg, George Hickman and Weird Boomgaarden.
There was serious talk of paving the streets of the business district that fall. No one was happy with the oiling program that was tried out. The first of October the council met with a representative of an asphalt company who told them they could get the best job of paving if they would lay a concrete base and then surface that base with asphaltic concrete. He said it would be smoother, would last longer, and everyone would be happier. The council decided to check with other towns who had done paving and get such information as was possible.
As the courthouse neared completion the supervisors began to wonder what was to be done with the old courthouse. Suggestions were made that it be moved and remodeled into a home for old people. Another suggestion was made that the building be moved to the fair grounds and given to the fair association. By Christmas time the new courthouse was nearing completion. Officials said that only finishing touches needed to be added. Planning was started for a grand opening to be held in the spring or early summer.
Everyone was stirred up by the election campaign between the Republicans' Charles Evans Hughes, and the incumbent Democrat, President Woodrow Wilson. The election was pretty much debated as to which man could do the best job of keeping us out of the European war.
When the vote was held November 7 Hughes carried Lyon County handily, he carried Iowa, but for days the final outcome was uncertain-and it was not decided until the very last votes were counted in California that gave Wilson the victory. In the county the officials elected were about half democrats and half republicans, a gain for the GOP. Hottest contest was between E. J. Riegel, Democrat, the incumbent auditor, who was re-elected on the first count of the ballots by 29 votes over Carl Hatch, Republican of Little Rock.
Later Hatch demanded a recount, and when that was held, he picked up eight votes-but trouble arose when it was found that ballots from Riverside and Midland Township had not been sealed when they were delivered to the auditors office-and there was suspicion that they had been tampered with. The whole matter went into court after the supervisors said they could not count the ballots from the two townships in question because they had not been properly sealed and delivered.
A great year of progress for the community ended on a cold note. On December 1 the mercury dropped to 23 degrees below zero-the lowest for the year and much below usual temperatures for December.
Lyon County had a ballot tampering scandal on its hands in 1917, it had a lot of forward looking community projects underway-but overall it had a growing fear that this country was to be involved in the Great War in Europe.
Woodrow Wilson had been reelected as President by a minute majority when the last votes were counted in California, and the state had gone for him rather than his Republican opponent Charles Evans Hughes.
Wilson had campaigned on a platform pledging that he would keep us out of the European conflict, but it became clearer that the allies-France, England, Belgium, etc., could not win the war without American troops-and a major drive to get America involved was underway.
It was at the first meeting of the board of supervisors in January when disclosure was made that some of the ballots in the Reigel-Hatch contest for county auditor had been tampered with. Reigel, on the basis of the re-check, had been found the winner by 24 votes. The supervisors called County Attorney Fisher into conference and insisted that an immediate investigation be made. Fisher said that as he had represented one of the contestants in the fall re-count, he was not the person to make the investigation. He suggested S. D. Riniker wanted $1,000 to take the case, but E. C. Roach said he would do it for $300. But later Roach said he was too busy and was taking his wife to California-so he could not serve.
Roach was finally persuaded to take the case.
The ballots had been in the custody of the county auditor-one of the contestants. He had stored them in a vault in the basement at the Lyon County National Bank.
Sometime between the time the ballots had been delivered to the auditor's office after the vote, and the first of the year, a number of them had been altered.
In February, on a request by the board of supervisors and the Special Prosecutor, W. G. Griffin, a special agent for the Iowa Attorney Gerneral Havner was in Rock Rapids and spent a week looking into the case. Later in February a handwriting expert from the Burns Detective Agency in Chicago was brought in to study the ballots.
Roach, who had gone to California, returned in mid-April. He was called before the board and told them the status of the investigation-saying there was not enough evidence to get an indictment. The board was indignant about the case and they talked about raising a large sum of money, by private subscription, for information to solve it.
Again in May the board and Roach went over the case-but nothing was done. In June the local attorney went before the grand jury and gave members of that body all the information available-but they found there was insufficient information for an indictment. Again in October the grand jury went over the situation-no change-and the interest in the war, in which this country was now involved, pushed the ballot scandal into the background and it was pretty well forgotten.
Lyon County's new courthouse was almost complete at the start of 1917-finishing touches were being put on the decorating and the furniture and fixtures were being placed. On January 13 fire of an undetermined origin did about $300 worth of damage to some of the furniture being unpacked on the second floor. The furniture was shipped back to a Chicago factory for refinishing.
After numerous suggestions as to what should be done with the old courthouse the supervisors announced on February 1, that it would be sold at public auction. The auction was set for two p.m. on February 24. Col. Mert McLaughlin was to be the auctioneer.
When the sale was held there were only two bidders and c. W. Bradley was successful. He offered $1,000 and said that the structure would be moved to Boone Street, north of the B & O Apartments, and made into flats.
In March the supervisors decided that the courthouse would be used only for county purposes. Requests had been made for permission to use it for meetings and practices, but the board said it was too nice to be used for such purposes.
The Marietta was selected for the name of a new hotel to be built out of the old courthouse. C. W. Bradley and John Olsen doing the work. The idea of making it into flats was given up, and a 27-room hotel, each room with bath, would be constructed. There was to be a large dining room on the ground floor.
July sixth the new courthouse was dedicated. There was a huge crowd on hand for the occasion. Patriotic societies had part in the program and Supreme Court Judge Gaynor was the speaker of the day. S. D. Riniker was chairman for the day-and throughout his remarks he stressed that we were now at war, that it was time for ending all division between our people-and that we march forward as a united people to victory.
February of 1917 opened with a heavy blizzard that dropped eight inches of snow on January 30-and continued most of the week. Rural route carriers could not make their deliveries, trains were all out of service and while the temperature the first of the week had been 42 degrees-it dropped to 10 below by Thursday.
Transportation tie-ups were such that by the middle of March the community was out of coal-none of the dealers could supply their customers and there was great fear of substantial suffering. A car of coal on the Illinois Central tracks was about to be confiscated when the railroad notified local people they would turn it over to them. The coal was dirty industrial coal, but it saved the day.
As of February 1 the school board reported on school costs for the year then ending. They said that they had spent $11,504.44 for teachers, $5,407.46 in the contingency fund; $811.11 in the band and interest fund and expenditures in the school house fund were $4,092.74. They said they anticipated higher expenses for the year 1917.
When the school election was held March 12 Mrs. Mary C. Riniker was named as a member of that board to succeed Mrs. Agatha Ramsey. Mrs. Ramsey had been appointed to the board when her husband, a member, had died. She had gone to Madison, Wisconsin where her children were in school and asked that another woman be named to her post. Dr. J. E. North, the incumbent, was elected as the other member.
When the commencement exercises were held in May fifteen seniors were given their diplomas. Members of the class were Emma Colberg, Dorothy Cook, Florence Boomer, Milton Ross, Edgar Partch, William Flannery, Joseph Wilson, Cora Wohlers, Alga Johnson, Clara Johnson, Emma Klein, Florence Fisher, Cora Hanson, Olga Johnson and Juanita Harrington.
The city council met for their March meeting on the eighth of that month, a unanimous decision was reached to pave the streets in the downtown business area. There were objections-a petition was submitted by those against the project-but there was also a petition from those favoring it-and the council voted favorably.
A week later the council hired K. C. Gaynor of Sioux City to make plans for the paving and to supervise its construction. He to receive five percent of the cost as his fee-and to provide all of the assistants he would need. March 29 was set as the date for the opening of bids for the work. Bryan Asphalt company won the contract for the work. Bid was for $1.80 per square yard.
Later in March the young men who had joined Company E of the Iowa National Guard at Sheldon returned from the Mexican border. They were met by a large crowd of Rock Rapids citizens, and talk immediately started about forming a national guard company here, with the five veterans as a nucleus.
Sixty-seven young men in Rock Rapids signed up for a militia company and the governor was implored to have the adjutant general assign such a company to this community. But war came almost immediately and most of those who had signed up were soon in uniform with nearby units, through the draft, or enlistment on an individual basis.
President Wilson declared war early in April-and the war effort was the main activity of the community from then on.
There were many patriotic demonstrations and more and more talk of a national draft to raise the armies that would be needed to win the war. Much pressure was felt to increase crop production-food being badly needed by the allies.
By the middle of May it was announced that a large group of Rock Rapids men were enlisting in the National Guard Company from Luverne. A deal was that this community would provide half the men for the company and get half the officers. The first group to sign up were Jesse Kellihan, Matt Conway, E. C. Chesher, H. A. Sater, C. A. Buchanen, B. F. Hosner, George J. Halloran, Marvin Horr, Lloyd Stewart, F. E. Rogers, F. C. Ellerhoff, Dewey Jennings, Carl Eckliff, J. B. Hyde, E. C. Morgan, E. Haffy, Edgar Partch, O. E. Tonne, George Hickman, Orville Follett, W. C. Raveling, Paul Egbert, A. W. Rise, Bernie B. Berg, Harold Gingrich, Glenn Mishler, Claude Maxwell, Harold Dunkelbarger, R. Gallagher.
Of the group who first went to Luverne for their medicals, a large number failed to pass because of the stringent rules-later, the others camped at Luverne, awaiting orders to assemble with other Minnesota units and proceed to Europe.
June 5, 1917 was set as the day for the enrollment of every man 21 to 31 years of age. They were to register for service as assigned. There were more men registered in Lyon County than had been expected. Six weeks later all of the registrants had been assigned numbers and plans for the national drawing were shaping up. The drawing was held and on August 2 it was announced that the county had been called on to draft 119 men immediately. The draft board-Sheriff George Wheatley, Auditor E. J. Reigel and Dr. Jay M. Crowley called up 240 men for physicals. Again the rigid physical standards set up by the military proved a handicap-the 119 men could not be found in the first call-up of 240 men. Another group of men were called up-and word came through that the standards were to be dropped somewhat.
The first contingent of men called to report for transportation to Camp Dodge on September 4 were William F. Ashton, Larchwood; Francis E. Congdon, Rock Rapids; John Connolly, Rock Rapids, Jess V. Wynn, Doon; Otto E. Johnson, Inwood; and Matthew E. Weir, Rock Rapids.
The people of the community had decided that each group leaving would be honored at a banquet and each group would leave from a station packed with their friends and relatives.
Another contingent was to go a couple of weeks later-the 48 men in this group were honored at a rally at the armory after which they went to the Knights of Columbus hall for a banquet. The crowd was so great it could not get into the armory-and there was an equally big crowd at the Illinois Central Depot when the group departed for Camp Dodge.
Groups of young men left Rock Rapids periodically for the service throughout the rest of 1917 and most of 1918.
The folks at home were busy on war-supporting activities. Late in May a drive was started to sign up 1,000 members for the American Red Cross. The sale of Liberty Bonds was started the middle of June. The county's Red Cross quota was set at $21,700, but it was oversubscribed. The first two days more than $15,000 was raised.
In a rapid campaign the middle of September the community raised $500 for a million-dollar fund to buy reading materials for the boys in camp.
Lyon County's quota of war bonds had been set at $800,000 and by mid-October $562,500 of that amount had been sold. By the first of November, sales had passed $817,200-the issue was oversubscribed.
Later in November the county came up with $15,471.65 for the YMCA-the county had the biggest over-subscription of any county in the 11th Congressional District-and was proud of it.
In spite of all the war activity-life went on for local citizens. In March one of the largest land transactions took place. Two brothers, Nicholas Hampe of Rock Rapids and Theodore Hampe of Wabasha County, Minnesota decided to divide up land they had jointly in Lyon County. Theodore Hampe and his wife deeded 1,192 acres to Nicholas Hampe and his wife deeded 1,545 acres to Theodore Hampe and his wife at $134,326.
In March E. A. Hunt had announced he would build a new theatre between the Lockwood & Pirwitz store and the Olsen Sisters building on Main Street. The new theatre would seat between 600 and 800 people. It was to be 50X110 feet and the estimated cost was put at $25,000. Early in April he got a permit for the building, and at that time the estimated cost was dropped to $15,000. Hunt had some doubts about the building with the war going on and the project was delayed. C. W. Bradley, John Olsen and S. D. Riniker decided the community needed a theatre now, so he bought the lot north of the Katt & Lohman Hardware on Marshall Street and started work on a moving picture house. The new theatre was estimated to cost $7,000 and it was opened for business in August as the Strand Theatre.
Edward Evans, who had bought a Bleroit monoplane a year before and had taken it to Grinnell to learn to fly it, decided that he needed another plane. The motor in the monoplane was so small it caused a lot of trouble, so he got rid of it, and bought one with a larger engine. It was brought to Rock Rapids-and was awaiting favorable weather before being flown, when the war started.
Crowds were smaller when the fair was held in August. Admission prices had been raised so it proved financially successful. Feature of the entertainment program was Louis Gertson, aviator. He had lights on his plane and flew it at night-"The lights indicated his routes most strikingly in loops and twists." Gertson was paid $350 for each flight. George Macnab was president of the association and W. G. Smith, secretary.
There had been agitation for many months for the formation of a Farm Bureau here and the employment of a county agent. In October enough signatures had been secured (200) for such an organization. The local people were to provide the offices and local expenses and the government would send in a county agent. Dues were $5 a member.
The organization got off the ground in December when George Jeffers was elected president; S. S. Davenport, Lester, vice-president; W. D. Carpenter, Rock Rapids secretary; and Charles Shade, Rock Rapids, treasurer. Frank Thomas of Ames was recommended to be the first county agent.
Two unusual events marked the end of the year. Someone blew up the safe in the post office. They got away with $4,000 in cash and stamps. Presumably the Christmas receipts were involved. The postal inspector who came here to investigate ordered Postmaster P. H. McCarty to keep a bottle of ammonia in the safe, so if it was blown up again the fumes would drive the safe crackers away. The other event was the closing of the library and other public buildings because of an epidemic of scarlet fever. It was hoped that with schools closed and large gatherings stopped, the disease could be brought under control before many others were infected.
War was the word in 1918. Many young men had been called to the colors and many others were to go during the year. Casualties for American forces were mounting as more and more Yanks arrived in France and some of those hundreds from Lyon County were in those
To boost farm production-and thus help win the war-Lyon County got its first county agent at the start of the year. He was A. H. Beckhoff, who opened an office in the courthouse-and as the first of his duties, spent considerable time helping with the Farmer's Institute at Inwood.
A freak accident at Doon occurred the middle of January, which resulted in the death of 21-year-old Peter Lingbeck. He, with a group of other young people, had gathered at the home of George DeBey for an evening of games. The group were playing "Button, button who's got the button" but using a silver dollar instead of a button. Lingbeck hid the dollar in his mouth and in the hilarity, swallowed it. Little was thought about the accident for a few days, until he came seriously ill and was taken to the German Lutheran Hospital at Sioux City. There, doctors finally operated on the young man and got the dollar, but he failed to rally and died.
Lyon County people had organized a Lyon County Red Cross Society in 1917 and Lena Roach was secretary of the group. She was leaving Rock Rapids for a time and Mrs. J. W. Dickinson was elected to the position, which she held for many years. The Red Cross over the nation had grown tremendously, from a total membership of half a million to more than 22 million.
At the start of 1918 there were some 5,000 members of the Red Cross in Lyon County.
In April a Red Cross drive was carried on in the county and the quota was set at $15,000-which was exceeded. In July a Red Cross benefit sale was held and between $4,000 and $5,000 was raised. There was a celebration and parade in connection with the campaign.
Rock Rapids contributed more than just money. In September Caroline Wallace, daughter of Dr. G. C. Wallace, went to France as a Red Cross nurse. She wrote about her trip to the battlefields-and said she was assigned to a new hospital being built to care for 40,000 wounded men. She had charge of five wards in each of which 50 men were to be cared for. She told her parents she made her rounds with a lantern on her arm, as the electricity had not been hooked up as yet.
Lyon County land was continuing to appreciate in value-and a new record was set when O. A. Morse, who had a farm of 100 acres adjoining Little Rock, sold that property for $325 an acre.
Late in January the pinch of shortages in food and energy was being felt. Local stores agreed to shorten the hours they would be open each day-and 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., were set as the limits. Churches were asked to hold union services and to omit mid-week meetings. Lodges and clubs were asked to suspend their activities.
The middle of March rulings came out that in the future grocery stores were to limit sales of flour. Wheat flour could only be sold where the customers bought an equal weight of non-critical products-hominy, corn flour, rolled oats, rice, sweet potato flour, corn grits, edible corn starch, buckwheat flour, soybeans, potato flour, feterita flour and meal.
By the middle of June the shortage of sugar became acute and all householders were issued cards with which they could buy three pounds of sugar per person per month. Housewives could also buy an extra pound of sugar if they were to use it for canning. W. S. Cooper was named as Lyon County's food administrator.
It was only two months later that the sugar quota was cut one-third-two pounds per person being the limit. People were urged to use substitutes-dates, raisins and figs to sweeten cereals; fruits and nuts instead of candy; honey, syrup, molasses for cookies and desserts.
The first week in February Provost Marshal Crowder announced the call-up of the balance of the men for the first draft call. Lyon County's first class was for 118 men-and in the second call 63 would be called to report for military duty. The group left Rock Rapids on the 5:45 a.m. Illinois Central train. Sixty-two men were in the contingent. The day before a big going-away meeting was held at the armory, with the G. A. R. and the Women's Relief Corp being honored along with the men who were going off to war. The Rev. A. H. Bryan of the Methodist Church was the speaker for the occasion.
On April 11 another call for men was received. This time 22 men from the county were called to report at Camp Dodge two weeks later.
The men available for the draft were being depleted rapidly. In spite of the fact that physical requirements for the men were being dropped-there were not enough registered to meet the calls for manpower.
Late in July the last of the eligible and qualified men from the first registration were called up. Then 139 men were sent to Camp Gordon, Georgia for training. It was the largest contingent to leave Lyon County at one time. M. R. "Ray" Murray was named as leader for the group. The special train on which they left Rock Rapids was scheduled for several other stops to pick up other contingents of men across the state.
In August the government announced another registration, at which all males who had attained the age of 18 since last June's registration, or who would attain that age by August 24, were to be listed. In addition the draft registration was extended and all males 18 to 45 years of age were called on to sign up,
The registration was held on September 12, and the total number registered fell a couple hundred short of the 2095, which had been expected by the government's experts before the registration. In the first sign-up a year previous a total of 1,572 males had been registered.
Another 34 men were to leave Lyon County October 7 for training camps-but the call was delayed because of the great amount of Spanish flu which was prevalent in the camps, and which was taking a very serious toll of lives.
While the draft was being organized to raise more and more men, the cream had been skimmed off available manpower. However, the war was drawing to a close and no more men were drafted.
On the home front it was decided that a company of home guards should be organized-for emergency use at home and to give younger men a taste of military drill, against the time when they might be called. Dr. J. J. Maloney, who had been commander of the Militia Company here early in the 1900's, was elected as captain of the company and Wilbur Freer was chosen for lieutenant. One hundred men and boys made up the first company. They met on Tuesdays and Thursdays for drill, most of which was done around the Courthouse Square.
There was one drive after another for war related activities. In February John F. Halloran and J. W. Dickinson canvassed the town for funds for the Knights of Columbus war fund. The county had been asked for $4200 for this cause-and it was raised. The heads of the campaign published a statement to the effect they appreciated the fine response of local citizens, both Catholic and Protestant, who gave liberally to the drive.
In April the community had another big benefit sale for the Red Cross. Sixty-five hundred dollars was raised. One of the features of the sale was the offer of stars on a huge service flag to be erected at the courthouse. Anyone buying a star for $10 would have the name of a service man-and his own name on the star. Half of the 200 stars planned were sold and it was expected that another 100 would be sold around the county later. Charles Olsen was the winner of an Elgin Six automobile that was raffled off during the day. The car was valued at $1,200.
M. A. Cox was named as chairman for the third War Bond drive in Lyon County. The county's quota was to be one million dollars, it was announced, and Cox went to Chicago to learn how best to conduct the campaign.
The drive got underway in March with rallies in every town and citizens were advised they should attend not less than one of these meetings. Another round of meetings were held in every town on April 5, which was the first day of the drive.
By April 18 the committee handling the drive announced it was successful. The million-dollar quota was cut to $518,655 before the drive started and Cox announced that $728,000 had been raised-and he said it would go over the $800,000 mark. Lyon County had the best percentage showing of any county in northwest Iowa.
Another War Bond drive was held in October-and again the drive was successful-with the county going some $25,000 over its quota.
Recognizing that even with the fighting over-there were millions of men under arms, who would need support in many ways, a United War Work campaign was underway. Lyon County was asked for $41,000 as its share. The money to be distributed among a number of agencies, which would help the service people. The campaign was only partially successful-the armistice had taken the pressure off and contributions were not so freely given.
Although the income tax law had been passed some four years previous, only a few local people were affected. Now the rules had been changed so every single man who earned $1,000 or more and every married man with an income of $2,000, or more, had to file and pay. There was a lot of confusion about how the forms were to be filled out.
A prominent Doon businessman, Louie Witt, died early in February. He had scratched his hand on a nail in a cigar box-and the scratch became infected. All known medicines were used, but he died.
Life went on, war or no war. The Interstate Mutual Automobile Insurance Company was growing by leaps and bounds and E. J. Reigel, who had been county auditor for seven years, announced his resignation. He called on the state checker to come to Lyon County and check him out so he could join the insurance company as a general agent.
In February a suit was filed in George that attracted much attention. On behalf of his son, Henry, John Bus filed a $20,000 malpractice suit against Dr. E. W. Bouslaugh. The young man had stepped in a hole and it was thought he had sprained his ankle. He grew worse and it was necessary to amputate the foot.
Even the war didn't end politics in Rock Rapids. When the citizens caucus was held in March E. O. Carpenter was re-nominated for mayor; A. G. Miller and George Holiday for councilmen at large. In the wards the nominees were: First ward, Peter Hickman; second ward: C. W. Bradley and in the third ward, Ralph Julian.
When the vote was held the latter part of the month, two write-in campaigns developed. W. J. Purchase was elected by a write-in vote over Ralph Julian and James Hoben wound up in a tie with C. W. Bradley for the second ward post. It was decided that the men would draw lots for the job and in the drawing Bradley won. However, Hoben took the matter to court and claimed that some of his ballots had not been counted and that many of Bradley's votes were illegal. The matter was finally determined and Bradley was seated.
The school board election was held the middle of March and C. H. Puckett and C. C. Brugman was elected. Puckett succeeded himself and Brugman was elected to fill the post formerly held by M. A. Cox. Before the election, however, a delegation waited on Brugmann to find out what his position was on the teaching of German in the schools. Brugmann assured them he would not oppose dropping of that language.
In April members of the German class at the high school all signed a petition that the course be dropped. Superintendent Wilson contacted members of the board and then called the class together and it was agreed that the language course would be dropped.
Many of the people of Lyon County had come from Germany and while they were practically 100 percent patriotic and supported the war effort -there were many strains. German was spoken freely throughout the county, and this caused considerable irritation. The middle of March there was a ruckus at Little Rock. Some of the people there thought R. H. Sietsma, manager of the Brown Elevator, was pro-German. They painted the elevator office a lurid yellow. Sietsma tried to get bloodhounds to track down the persons perpetrating the paint. Some 120 Little Rock people gathered at the city hall there and organized a Home Council for Defense. Sietsma was urged to leave town and stay away.
A month later Little Rock people decided there was no place there for the speaking of German and it was agreed that the German language would be dropped. The language course in the public schools, for the teaching of German, was also dropped.
Partially in an effort to keep things under control and stop local conflicts over language, etc., a Lyon County War Service Council was formed. The governor had set up a state secret service and its agents were given the same right of arrest as other police officers. Their duties were to investigate any charges of pro-German activities or lack of support of the war effort. J. B. McMillen, manager of Lakewood Farm was named as the agent for Lyon County and soon thereafter Harry Randolph was also appointed.
The War Service Council was composed of E. C. Roach, Harry Randolph, John F. Halloran, E. L. Partch, S. D. Riniker, M. A. Cox, John W. Carey, Jerry Dickinson, O. E. Carpenter, W. G. Smith, John Skewis, C. H. Puckett, W. H. White and J. B. McMillen.
The group called about 25 Lyon County people before it in May to explain why they had not bought their shares of liberty bonds. Practically all of those called in did so at once. Martin Vust, Sr. of George was a holdout. He said he had religious scruples against helping finance any war effort-finally after considerable pressure he said if he were forced to buy the bonds, that would relieve him of his scruples. He was convinced he should buy $32000 worth of bonds, one of his sons bought $400 worth and three other sons bought $100 each of the bonds.
Later that month the council held an all day hearing at Little Rock about the trouble there with Sietsma and some of the more aggressive folks were there. They took a lot of testimony and adjourned, but never did file a verdict.
At Larchwood, it had been a custom for years that the graduates from high school picked their own baccalaureate and commencement speakers. There was only one girl who was graduating and she decided she wanted Rev. Mauch as the baccalaureate speaker. He had been under considerable criticism as being pro-German and folks at Larchwood were considerably upset. Finally Mauck and Dr. N. E. Getman came to Rock Rapids, and had a conference with E. C. Roadh, head of the defense council. Mauck signed a long statement, pledging his support of the war effort and condemning the Kaiser and his works and Roach gave him a clean bill of health so he could be the baccalaureate speaker.
By the first of August feeling throughout the state was strong that German should not be spoken anywhere in this country and Governor Harding called on everyone to cooperate. A number of people in Lyon County were called before the War Service Council and were admonished. Cooperation with the ban on German was good-at least as far as speaking in public places was concerned.
Probably the most explosive incident of the war period, as far as feeling against those charged with being pro-German, took place in October, when a group from Rock Rapids decided to go out to the John Rohlf Farm southwest of town and hang an American flag over his doorway. Rohlf got word they were coming and when they arrived they were met by three of the family with shotguns and turned back to town. Rohlf made a statement later in which he said he would be glad to have a flag hung on his house, but not by a mob-and furthermore it had to be a clean flag, not one that was dirty and torn. The matter was adjusted without further trouble. Members of the defense council calmed down many other minor incidents and were undoubtedly responsible for keeping things relatively calm in such cases.
There was a furor in Rock Rapids in May when members of the senior class were scheduled to present "The Octoroon" as their senior class play. The girl selected for the part of the Octoroon, a girl of questionable parentage, decided she didn't think the part was proper. In one scene she was to appear on an auction block to be sold as a slave, and the buyers were to feel of her thighs and legs, to see how strong she was. Harry Barber, a professional actor who's home was in Rock Rapids, was directing the play and he insisted it was a fine play. Members of the board finally persuaded him to change the play, and the class play was changed to "The Game of Life."
Members of the graduating class for 1918 were: Loran Creglow, Carroll Collins, Henry Decker, Horace Gregory, Edward Herbert, Henry Jacobsen, Ralph Julian, Paul Nagel, Harry Libby, Walter Puckett, Peter Wiese, Marian Carpenter, Mildred Conrad, Ellen Cotter, Hazel Gingrich, Gayle Gilman, Mary Jefferies, Mary Kohrt, Hattie Langfeldt, Lena Searles, Esther Ross, Iva Weller and Ethel Pickard.
A. C. Townley, head of the notorious Non-Partizen League, spoke at a meeting in Lyon County in June-and considerable discussion resulted. He had been scheduled to speak at a Rock County, Minnesota farm, but authorities there would not permit it. So he and his group went across the line to a farm near Kanaranzi and he spoke there. He kept away from all war issues, but spoke about how farmers had to band together to get fair prices for their products.
Local people were becoming increasingly worn out by the frequent drives for funds for the many war efforts and so in August the formed a War Service League. It was the plan that all drives would be handled through this group at one time. Funds which were to be included were the Red Cross, the YMCA, Knights of Columbus war fund and many other agencies. Ben C. Abben, Jr., was chosen as head of the combined groups.
In spite of the war the Lyon County Fair was to be carried on as nearly in normal style as possible. Secretary W. G. Smith said a fine field of horses had been lined up for the horse racing and five free acts were secured. These included skaters, gymnasts, acrobats, comedians and an animal circus. The fair was a modest success but attendance was down substantially from recent peaks.
The county lost one of its pioneer citizens late in August, when William S. Piele died. He was 81 years of age and had come to Lyon County and Rock Rapids in 1873. Here he established a store, and in that store taught the first school organized in Rock Rapids. He had been born in Ireland.
A farm accident claimed the life of Henry Koens, Jr., the first week in September. He was acting as water tender for a threshing rig working east of town, when the engine blew up. He was horribly mangled, with limbs torn off and the body hurled 80 feet away where it came to rest in a tree. The 125-pound ash door of the steam engine was too old to be operated safely.
To conserve energy and manpower the Omaha depot was ordered closed mid-September. Omaha trains were to be switched to the Illinois Central depot. The telegraph wire was also moved to the I. C. Railroad Express Agency. Operations were turned over to J. A. Cady, the Rock Island agent.
By the middle of September paper was getting in short supply and all papers were notified they had to cut down to 85 percent of the amount of paper used in the past. The government notified all publishers they could not send out any free copies, or exchanges, and they admonished that all subscriptions in outside areas should be stopped.
On October 6 one of the worst accidents for many years occurred two miles north of Rock Rapids. Three Ellsworth men were headed for that community in the middle of the afternoon, when the car in which the were riding, a big Mitchell, went off the grade south of the Haan farm, rolled over and then burned. All three men died-the fire was so intense that arms, legs, and heads were separated from the bodies and identification of bodies was almost impossible.
The Spanish influenza had been spreading across the United States with great speed-and causing many deaths. October 15 Mayor E. O. Carpenter banned all public meetings in Rock Rapids. Churches, theatres, pool halls were all closed. Lodges were ordered to stop their meetngs. It was hoped the quarantine would hold down spread of the disease here. Schools were closed.
The following week the city council, acting as a board of health, published notice to the people of the community of what they could do to protect themselves against the flu. They said: "Don't neglect a cold, keep sick children at home, avoid large gatherings, keep out of ill-ventilated halls and rooms, cover up coughs and sneezes, sleep with windows open, keep down the dust and don't get excited and don't worry."
By the first of November the flu situation was much worse. F. H. Dittburner and Walter Borman died of the disease. Dr. Jay M. Crowley was stricken and was very sick. Many people of the community were seriously ill.
On November 7, Mayor Carpenter decided the disease was on the wane and he planned to lift the ban on meetings, school, etc., but the epidemic grew worse and the ban was continued.
The December 5 issue of the Rock Rapids Review was a reprint of the Reporter for that week. John W. Carey, editor of the Review, had his family sick and all of his help. To keep the Review going the Reporter staff took the Reporter name off the front page and substituted the Review name-and the same paper was sent to everyone.
On December 5, 1918, the names of nine Lyon County people who died of the flu the past week were reported. Plans to again reopen schools and church were dropped. Dr. Corcoran got a supply of serum from Mayo's to vaccinate as many people as possible. The supply was split up with other doctors in the community, and as many people as possible were inoculated-free of charge. It was very doubtful whether the vaccine was of any value-but no one knew anything else to do.
Late in December the epidemic waned and after Christmas public meetings were again allowed, pool halls, theatres and churches were reopened, and December 30 was announced as the date when classes in the schools would start.
Lyon County men were finally reaching the front in Europe and casualty reports were starting to come in. On October 17 word was announced that Will C. Raveling had been killed in action. Five other deaths in service were announced-all of them from Spanish influenza.
On October 21, Corporal Edward Newton Evans was listed as a casualty. He died of the flu in a naval hospital in the Azores. That same week it was announced that Herman Thielman of Alvord had been killed in action; George Briney of Larchwood had died of wounds in France and that Carl Heibult had died on a ship en-route to France. Heibult was from George.
The first casualty of the war returned to Rock Rapids late in November. He was Morris McLaughlin, who lost a leg in the fighting at Chateau Thierry. He had been brought back to the United States for hospitalization and was allowed to come home to attend the funeral of his brother, Raymond, who was killed in a car-train accident near Des Moines.
By the middle of December a lot of soldiers were arriving home. Many of them were men who had been in hospitals recovering from wounds-or who had been hospitalized with the flu in this country.
A list of casualties prepared November 13, 1918-had the names of 22 Lyon County men who had died for their country. The list included: Rock Rapids-Eugene Anderson, Edward Newton Evans, Clyde Maxwell, John Ploog, Will C. Raveling, Rex Strait;
Lester-Earl Bennett; Doon-Jacob Brahm, Abbe Fiekema; Larchwood-George W. Briney, Henry W. Flessner, William Sauer, Frank A. Wilka; Little Rock-Albaert Buss and Frank Dammer; George-John LeClercs, Herman Karl Heibults, William Kruger; Inwood-Frank E. Renshaw and Theodore Thorson; Alvord-Fred Schlotfeldt and Herman Thielman.
Saddest thing of all was that most of the men died in this country of the Spanish flu and its after effects.
The big news of 1918 came dribbling along starting November 7 when an armistice was announced. The announcement came through the United Press and whistles were blown, the fire bell was rung and everyone in Rock Rapids gathered in the business district for a wild celebration that lasted most of the night. But with the dawn came the word that the report was not correct, no armistice had been signed.
The matter was to be debated for years as to where news of the false armistice came from, and it was finally pinned down to one of the top United States commanders.
The word was that the war was near an end, but the fighting continued.
About 2:30 a.m. on November 11 the official word came through the telegraph office-the war was over. Shooting was to stop at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. Again the whistles blew, the fire bell was rung until it was broken, everyone gathered down town again for another big celebration. This time it was a little better organized. After an informal celebration the rest of the night, a parade was organized, some of the business people put up the money for a lunch stand which was opened up on Main Street and where celebrators were given sandwiches and coffee as long as supplies could be gathered.
At 5:45 when the southbound Illinois Central came through, the engineer pulled open his whistle when he approached Rock Rapids and it was kept going until the train pulled out. On that train were special editions of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reporting on the signing of the armistice in the Forest at Compeigne, which ended the world's bloodiest war.
That night there was a public gathering at which patriotic speeches were given by Superintendent Wilson, by E. C. Roach, and by district Judge Hutchison of Alton, who was here holding court. Later there was a big bonfire, at which an effigy of the Kaiser was burned.
Plans were started immediately for a big welcome home for the service people, when they should be released from the service.
During the celebration there was one fire-that when the old Bonnie Doon water tank, located just west of the present police station, caught fire and burned to the ground. The old water tower had been an eye sore for years, but local people had not been able to get the railroad to do anything about it. There might have been some arson involved, but it was never proved, and firemen reported that although their fire fighting equipment was next door to the blaze, they couldn't get enough hose strung to successfully fight the flames.
The old civil war cannon, which had stood in the courthouse yard for years was taken to the fairground and fired off until the under carriage was blown away.
Lyon Watson operated a confectionery store in the building now occupied by Feller's Golden Rule. He had a big stock of fireworks in his basement that had been held over from the previous year. He called a bunch of kids together and gave them the whole stock-which provided fireworks for every youngster in town-and which kept things hopping for days.
It was undoubtedly the community's wildest time-with both the false armistice and the real one being celebrated as long as people were able to stay on their feet.
Above all, it brought forth a spirit of thanksgiving that the Great War was over-a war whose tragic tolls were only beginning to be appreciated by the people of America's heartland.
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