Badwinter Part 3--

Rock Rapids' banks were continuing prosperous. Footings were increasing slightly. The First National Bank had a surge and reported footings of $698,174.55; the Lyon County National Bank had footings of $590,796.02 and the Iowa Savings Bank had footings of $176,999.06.


Lyon County mourned another of its long time residents as the year 1914 started. Mrs. George Monlux who had come to Rock Rapids when it was first started. died. She had been ill for several years, for the past several months mostly confined to her bed. She went to Sioux Falls, where she died as the old year ended. Born in New York state she had moved to Clayton County, there married George Monlux, a Civil War veteran and in 1871 they came to Lyon County, where they had lived since that time.

Although Lyon County was officially "dry" liquor continued to be a problem and was available without too much looking. The first week in January a group of citizens met organized a Good Citizenship League to fight the intemperance. The group named George G. Macnab its president; C. Siebring, George, was named as vice president and the Rev. Amos Burr was chosen as secretary-treasurer.

In April the Good Citizenship League swung into action. It asked that Ed Halloran, who operated the East Main Street pool hall, and John Kellihan, who owned the building in which Halloran operated, be enjoined from selling cider which had an alcoholic content. The action was brought before District Judge Boise and a sample of the cider Halloran was selling was sent to Des Moines for analysis. There it was found that the beverage contained about five percent alcohol. Halloran consented to the proceedings and was enjoined from further sales of liquor.

In July demand evidently got the better of good judgment and Halloran was again selling cider. He was charged once more, this time for contempt of court and the action was taken before Judge Hutchinson at Sibley. After the hearing Halloran was found guilty as charged, was fined $200 and costs plus $25 attorney feeds and cautioned not to again offend.

The first of September Sheriff Wheatley was tipped off and he seized a shipment of a barrel of whiskey that arrived here on the Rock Island, consigned to J. L Kelly. The booze had been bottled in short measure half-pints and was "obviously" shipped here for bootlegging. No Mr. Kelly claimed the shipment and the sheriff took it into custody, and on court order the bottled beverage was taken to the dump, poured out and the bottles broken.

People of the area were resentful of the "money trust" in New York which made credit available when local needs were not sufficient, and were highly pleased when the Lyon County National Bank and the First National Bank both announced that they were joining the Federal Reserve System, which would make credit available, when needed, at lower rates of interest.

Actually Lyon County banks were growing steadily. Competition between the various banks and the towns in which they operated was keen and in July the banks at George got together and did some figure work. They came up with a report on deposits in the banks of various towns which showed that the county seat's three banks had a little more money than George-it was very little more-and George was only half as big. The George banks' figures showed total deposits in Rock Rapids Bank at just over $825,000; George banks had over $811,000. The figures showed that Little Rock banks had deposits over $395,000; Inwood banks deposits were over $293,000; Larchwood had $372,000; Doon, $143,000; Alvord, $95,000; and Lester had over $152,000. Over all according to these figures the county had deposits in its various banks of $3,092,730.74. The George bankers said the reason George banks were getting the money was because they were paying five percent for deposits, while the other banks in the county were only paying four percent.

A log-standing feud between the city council and Superintendent Guy of the utilities came to a head late in January. The friction became such that a special council meeting was held to settle the matter, but when the meeting assembled Guy beat them to the punch and turned in his resignation to be effective February 15.

Guy's resignation came at a time when the city was talking very seriously about installing an electrolier lighting system in the business district. The council notified a number of companies who built standards for electroliers that they planned to buy such equipment and install it here. They were advised to submit pictures of what they had to offer and to install a pole if they wished, so the council and the public could know what they offered.

At the council meeting on February 2, four firms were represented and showed pictures of units that could be bought for from $60 to $75 a unit.

Members of the council did not act at that time, as they were rather partial to doing business with W. S. Gingrich, who had been superintendent of the plant for some years, was very popular here, and who was traveling for the General Electric Company. He was given more time to get pictures of the standards his company offered.

A month later the picture changed. C. W. Bradley had been in Chicago and he was told of a new method of making electroliers of cast concrete. The standards were said to be much better looking, just as strong, and they cost only about half as much as the metal poles. Best of all they could be built locally.

The council decided they would go the concrete standard route and Lahetchka & Pettengill, who had the concrete works, ordered molds to make the new standards. They expected to be able to furnish them for about $10 to $12 each-which price would not include the cost of wiring or putting in the cables.

Work on the street light system was pushed as much as possible and late summer the installation was complete. Fifty poles were installed each with five bulbs, September 1, 1914 was set as the date for turning on the next lighting system. That evening everyone was downtown early. Everyone who had a car was parked on the main street, at promptly eight o'clock the fire whistle was blown, car horns were sounded--and the lighting system was illuminated. The 250 bulbs lighted up Main Street as well as Story Street from the Rock Island Depot to the Illinois Central Depot magnificently. The band played and there was a program with Mayor Carpenter and Councilman E. C. Roach speaking about the great step forward Rock Rapids had taken.

The popularity of the new lighting system was such that businessmen at Hills, who wanted to light their business section better, looked over a lot of street lighting in various towns and then placed an order with the local concrete people for electroliers for their town. The agreement for the Hills lighting fixtures was to be $18 per unit, plus wiring and installation.

Unfortunately not everything was going well with the area. Lyon County people were very proud of Lakewood Farm and its great reputation as being probably the country's finest Percheron horse farm. There had been some talk that pedigrees of some of the horses sold by the farm were not right and G. W. Patterson, Worthington, who had a rival horse farm had talked about the matter. The McMillens, H. G. and his son, James, who owned and operated Lakewood Farm, sued Patterson for $50,000 saying that his charges had damaged them. They said that Patterson had induced one George Miller of Windom to buy a filly. The animal was shipped to Windom and was to be paid for when the pedigree was delivered. Then the money was attached and it was charged that the pedigree had been altered. An affidavit was secured from Sylvester Egan to the effect that the dam of the filly sold, was not a registered mare as claimed.

The case was set for trial at Sioux City. In June Lakewood Farm held a sale of Shorthorn cattle which was listed as highly successful. Ten young males and 32 cows and heifers were sold. The animals sold for an average of $184 each. The cows went for as much as $355 while the males averaged out at $157.

Later in June problems at Lakewood were confirmed when a Sioux City banker was named to liquidate the holdings of H. G. McMillen & Son and end the family partnership. The partnership owned not only Lakewood Farm but had property in other communities. Its assets were said to be about double its liabilities, which were listed at $233,000. James McMillen was to continue the operations of the farm here.

The weather during the winter of 1913-1914 had been unusually mild, but the first weekend in February a cold wave hit. Temperatures dropped to 25 degrees below zero and there were a couple of inches of snow. Otherwise the mild and favorable weather continued throughout the year.

Two Rock Rapids young men decided to seek their fortunes in foreign lands and the last of February Newton Rogers and Emil Tonne left to go to South America, where there was supposed to be great opportunities for young, energetic men. They left here to go to Argentina. Maybe it was some sort of a warning, but when their boat got to Buenos Aires, it got stuck on a mud bank and the passengers had to be ferried to shore in tug boats. The Rock Rapids men found that conditions in Argentina were bad. Crops were poor, there was a drought and there were no jobs. They went from there to Uruguay where they did get jobs with Swift Packing Company who had a meat processing plant there. They soon made up their minds that South America wasn't what they had expected, but they did not have enough money for both of them to get back. Tonne had the higher paying job of the two, so he stayed on and Rogers took what money the two had and came back to this country where he planned to get enough money to bring Tonne home. Soon after Rogers got home he had a cable from Tonne not to send the money. The packing plant had closed down when the war first started in Europe, but then European countries started buying all the meat they could get to feed the armies, so the plant reopened and was being operated double-capacity.

For several years many people in the county-mostly in Rock Rapids-had been agitating for a new courthouse. The old one was cold and draughty. It was poorly heated, and was a fire hazard, many people claimed. At the March meeting of the board of supervisors a delegation met with the board and demanded they quit spending money to try and fix up the old courthouse and call an election for a new building. They were informed that the matter had been voted on and turned down by the voters. The board said they would not call another election unless a petition was submitted to them asking for such a vote. A couple of weeks later such a petition was submitted. It asked for the election and a levy for a courthouse-but said no bonds were to be issued. The backers of the project believed that if a three-mill levy was made for four years or a four-mill levy for three years, the building could be paid for when it was completed. A total of 809 people signed the petition for the election-162 more than was required by law. So the board of supervisors decided to hold such an election in connection with the June primary, so the expense of a special election could be saved.

In the election of June 2, 1941, the issue for a new courthouse carried by 783 to 491. Most of the favorable margin came from Rock Rapids, which was for the courthouse building 302 to 34-but other precincts also gave the matter a victory by 24 votes.

Figures, which had been prepared before the vote, indicated that the cost would be small for each taxpayer. These figures showed that there were 2400 quarter sections in the county and that the tax would be about $40 for each quarter-payable in six semi-annual installments.

Later in the month of June W. R. Bell of Minneapolis, who had prepared plans for a courthouse the year before, appeared before the board and asked to be renamed as architect for the structure. The supervisors told him nothing would be done until after the November election at which time three of the members of the board were to be replaced.

A major legal problem arose in the county in March, when attorneys for the Omaha Railroad protested the taxes levied in Doon. They claimed the town of Doon had never been incorporated, so it could not levy taxes or issue bonds. Rock Rapids attorneys were of the opinion that as long as the railroad had paid taxes for many years they could not very well protest now-but the problem was major. The matter was taken up with state authorities and the Secretary of State checked his records and came back with word that the town had never been incorporated. The town had, in 1914, $10,000 worth of bonds outstanding and unpaid warrants of $3,000 were out. The bonds had been approved by J. M. Parsons, prominent Des Moines attorney, who formerly practiced in Lyon County.

A traveling circus, which played in Rock Rapids in late April, brought headline news to the community. The auditor for the show, J. F. Smith, was found dead in his bed Sunday morning. Coroner Corcoran found he had poured a bottle of chloroform on his pillow and then buried his head in the pillow, in which position his body was found. Circus officials said Smith's accounts were in good shape and that he was good and a sober worker. It was decided that trouble with his wife caused Smith's action. She was a trapeze performer and also rode horses in the show. The couple had been fighting and Smith was said to be extremely jealous. Smith was buried here, but his wife said she might at some future time move the body to his old home in Virginia.

Mid-May a class of 24 seniors was graduated from the Rock Rapids High School. In the class were Harvey Hindt, Harold Schroeder, Grace McKelvey, Alice Merrill, Dorothy Lamb, Ann Evans, Eugene Olsen, Ida Wallace, Gladys Shindler, Ann Hoben, Caroll Oakes, Anita Herbert, Otto Tonne, Edna Wohlers, Raymond Murray, Veda Hindt, May Hornseth, Sadie Whitney, Esther Oldenburg, Marion Wallace, Paul Collins, Freda Klein, Luba Lamb and Marie Schroeder. Raymond Murray was the valedictorian of the class and Ann Hoben was the salutatorian.

At the citizen's caucus in March, E. O. Carpenter was chosen as the citizen's candidate for mayor. For councilmen at large J. J. Maloney and S. D. Riniker were nominated. For treasurer the candidate was P. G. Smith; for assessor O. A. Philipps was chosen and W. S. Cooper was named for the park commission. In the first ward voters picked A. V. Greene as their candidate; E. C. Roach was chosen by second ward people and Ralph Julian was picked in the third ward.

Later J. E. North was named as an independent candidate for mayor, I. W. Woodburn was named as candidate for councilman-at-large and George Huber filed for assessor. The citizen's candidates were all elected.

Since the election of President Woodrow Wilson in 1912 there had been considerable interest in who would be named postmaster. C. H. Smith had served for 12 years, but resigned after Wilson's election and W. G. Smith, his son and editor of the Reporter, was named as acting postmaster until democratic party faithful could make up their minds on the man they wanted. P. H. McCarty was finally chosen and his nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate. He took office the first of June 1914. He was the owner and editor of the Rock Rapids Review.

There was much interest in the community in the shooting of Ed Hunt at Canton in mid-June. Hunt, a Negro, had worked for many years for E. H. Brown, west of Rock Rapids. He was known as a hard-working, pleasant man. He had gone to Canton a few years before and one night was holding a bet between another Negro and a Canton man. The Negro won the bet and wanted his money but Hunt would not turn it over until the other man agreed. There were words and finally Hunt took after the winner with a knife. A barber who was in an adjoining room at the hotel went into the room with the Negroes and tried to quiet things down. The winner pulled a gun and started shooting. The barber got out in a hurry and Hunt was killed.

Heavy rains in mid-June brought a flood on the Sioux River and the new bridge built at Klondike was not high enough to clear the floodwaters. The supervisors and the highway commission again got into an argument about the bridge. The supervisors said that one bunch of commission engineers told them one thing and another group would tell them something else. All agreed that the bridge approaches and abutments were at least a couple of feet lower than they should be-and the commission demanded that the situation be corrected. The supervisors said they had already spent more than $50,000 on the bridge and were most unhappy.

Win Watson, who was associated with his father in the garage business in Rock Rapids for many years, and who was one of the distributors of Mitchell cars at Sioux City, drove in the 16-mile July 1 race at Sioux City. He won the race in the astounding time of
17 minutes, 33 and 2/5 seconds. In the race Watson drove one of the stock models of the Mitchell "6."

Rock Rapids got its first swimming pool the latter part of July. The Shipman brothers had a problem getting rid of the exhaust water from their cleaning and laundry plant and decided to build a tank to hold it. They built the pool 10 feet wide and 20 feet long-with a depth of over six feet. The pool was filled with warm water and it proved to be an excellent swimming pool. The Shipman's built a slide covered with oilcloth so the youngsters of the community could slide into the pool. It proved a highly popular spot for youngsters for several years.

War clouds had been gathering in Europe and when fighting broke out sympathy in the area was pretty much divided. Many Germans and Hollanders living in Lyon County received cabled orders to report to their military units in the fatherland-but none of them left. County Attorney Fisher advised them that no foreign government could make them return to the fighting, unless they desired to do so voluntarily.

So far as was known on August 6, 1914, shortly after the fighting started, only one Rock Rapids person was in the war zone. She was Miss Nell Sutter, sister of Frank L. Sutter, president of the Iowa Savings Bank. The last letter received from her had been from Switzerland and she informed her family she was headed into Germany. It was impossible for the family to get in touch with her.

Several Germans from the George area were in Germany when the fighting broke out-and a number of Norwegians and Swedes from the West End of the county were in Scandinavia. However, those countries were not involved in the fighting and there was little worry about them.

A tragedy occurred in Rock Rapids mid-August when Mrs. George W. Vinson was killed. The Vinsons farmed in Midland Township and had been in town for the day. About six o'clock, Mr. and Mrs. Vinson, a baby and a 13-year-old son started home. When their buggy was going down the east approach to the Main Street Bridge, the tongue dropped down, scared the team of horses and they ran away. Mr. Vinson told his wife and son to jump. The son jumped immediately and Mrs. Vinson, with the baby in her arms, jumped shortly thereafter. When she lit, she tossed the baby into a stand of weeds, but in some manner she broke her neck and died a few minutes later. The baby and the boy were not seriously injured.

German-Americans of the Lester community made plans for a big celebration in late September. They hired the Hills cornet band to provide music, brought in speakers, had races, a big picnic and a dance. The speakers were Dr. Ed L. Durand, of Burlington, president of the Iowa German-American Alliance; and Robert L. Socrgel, an officer of the National German-American Alliance. The event proved highly popular, there was a large attendance, and much interest stirred up in favor of the Fatherland and the war that had started in Europe.

By November German armies had swept through Belgium and refugees from that country and those passed by in the fighting, needed food and clothing. Rock Rapids citizens got together the latter part of November and planned for a tag day and other benefits to raise money for the Belgium needy.

Farmers of the area had tried for years to make a go of a cooperative elevator, without success. They finally sold their elevator business to the Davenport Elevator Company. The company hired George Huber to run the business-and he resigned his position with the Fitzgerald Harness and Buggy Company to enter the grain business. The transfer took place the first of October.

When the general election took place November 3, only 2,000 votes were cast in the county. The weather was good and farmers were busy getting in the harvest-which was a good one. The Democratic Party, which had won national control two years prior, proved to have strong support in the county and four democrats were named to county offices. One prank came off in the election. A treasurer had to be named for the short term to fill out the unexpired term of Treasurer Ladd, who had died. C. S. Vail filed for the office-as a socialist-and he was elected!


In spite of general depressing effects of a European war, conditions in Lyon County-and Rock Rapids-were generally good as 1915 opened. Grain started to move to market in sizeable amounts-at modest prices. During the second week of the New Year 880 loads of grain were delivered to local elevators. On Tuesday, January 12, 244 loads of corn were weighed over local scales and sold. The movement of grain had a depressing effect on the market and it dropped about four cents a bushel. Prices for corn were from 60 to 64 cents a bushel.

Land was becoming somewhat higher priced-a quarter section just north of Rock Rapids was sold to George Jeffers at $210 an acre. This property was known as the Link Farm.

The ice went out of the Rock River early that year-and there was heavy flooding. February 25 the Reporter told that floodwater had covered almost all of the Island Park and had done much damage. Further down the river the floodwaters had severely damaged several bridges in the Doon area and had destroyed at least two bridges. The early break-up was said to be a record for ice leaving the river.

The flood was probably partially responsible for action by the board of supervisors at their March meeting. They had been scrapping with an Omaha bridge and iron company about construction of the bridge across the Sioux River at Klondike.

Members of the board decided they would build their own bridges, so they hired Herman Kage to be foreman for a bridge crew. They agreed to pay him $1800 a year as salary and $300 a year for use of his car. They would build as many of the bridges needed in the county as possible and thus avoid doing business with the outside construction companies who seemed to be acting in collusion with other companies to boost the prices on such work.

In March Mud Creek went on a rampage and caused a lot of damage and trouble. The flood took out the highway bridge just southwest of Lester and tied up normal traffic for a long time.

Farming operation opened up early and prospects for a crop were listed as excellent. However, there was the constant fear of drought-which had shorted the county on yields since earliest history of the area.

Lakewood Farm, whose fortunes had been waning for several years, was in the hands of a receiver and in July he sold the bulk of the farm to J. B. McMillen, a son of the founder of the farm. J. B. McMillen bought all of the land north of the river and the southwest quarter of section 21, in Rock Township, for $175 per acre. The receiver agreed to rebuild the residence on the farm, which had been destroyed by fire, and the figure set for this work was $3,500. In the deal McMillen received 25 head of blooded horses, 25 head of registered Durham cattle and three registered bulls.

Effects of the war were beginning to be evident as the year progressed. Both the German-Americans, who were numerous in the county and those of other national origin, were being propagandized steadily. The Germans and Hollanders had, in many cases, been called back to their home lands for military service-but there was no response-most of those notified deciding they were now Americans-they had in many cases left their Fatherlands to avoid military service and they had no intention of returning to get mixed up in what was developing into a vicious, bogged-down war, in which the casualties were unbelievably high.

Late in the fall of 1915 Major Lauriecello came to Lakewood Farm looking for stallions for shipment to Italy. The war was resulting in the killing of millions of horses and the Italians wanted good blood to rebuild their horse population. No sale was made as the major decided the large horses at Lakewood were too big for use in Italy-they wanted smaller, more wiry animals.

Rock Rapids had at least a couple exhibition programs put on by fliers at the fair-but in January Edward Evans, son of Mrs. George S. Evans, bought a plane and it was to be shipped to Rock Rapids. The plane he bought was a Bleroit monoplane. The plane arrived the first of February and was stored, awaiting good weather so that Evans could take it out to some pasture and start learning to fly it. The plane had a 20-horsepower, three-cylinder engine. Evans figured that if everything worked out, he would probably want to put a bigger engine on the frame. He planned to use it barnstorming at fairs and other celebrations.

Evans had no experience flying planes. He had served in the submarine service for several years. Incidentally in 1915 the submarine on which he served, failed to come up after a dive in Hawaii, and crew and ship were all lost.

Late in January a reception was held for the Rev. Father Dullard, pastor of Holy Name Catholic Church. Father dullard had been priest of the parish for 25 years, and had never taken a vacation. He was highly popular in the community, both with members of the parish and non-members. During the years he had been in Rock Rapids the parish had grown from 13 to 40 families-and there were also many in the surrounding area that became members of the church. A purse of $1,250 was raised and Father Dullard was "ordered" to take a vacation.

In May the Knights of Columbus had a big initiation with 40 candidates being taken in to the order. The knights formed a procession and marched to Holy Name Church where the Rev. Father Dullard conducted High Mass. Afterwards there was a banquet at the armory with places set for 350 people.

The initiation was the first activity for Father Dullard after returning from the vacation on which members of the parish had sent him. He had gone to New Orleans, to and through the Panama Canal and had visited several South American countries.

The community lost several prominent citizens that year. James Kemplay died in February, after suffering a stroke. He had been born in England, came to the United States as a small boy, lived for a time in Henry County, Illinois and then in Cass County, Iowa before coming to Rock Rapids in 1881. Here he was a carpenter for several years and then served for a time as Sheriff.

In August W. E. Dunkelbarger died at his home, also following a stroke suffered there. He was 53 years of age. He had come to Rock Rapids and entered the men's clothing business in 1892--and sold out in 1914 to J. R. Skewis of Inwood.

Not all the deaths in 1915 were pioneers-one very tragic death occurred in September when Donald Frink, 11 years of age, was shot and killed. He with a playmate had been shooting rats at an elevator. The gun was emptied-it was thought-and the playmate jestingly said he now would shoot Donald. The gun wasn't empty-it had just misfired. Frink died instantly.

Another tragic death had occurred earlier that year. In April Mrs. Mary Brees, who was cook at McCaughey Brothers restaurant, had been a little late getting down to cook breakfast. She started a fire and then wanting to hurry it along, put kerosene on it. The kerosene can exploded and Mrs. Breen was horribly burned. She was given the best attention possible. Local citizens immediately got busy and raised $278 to pay for local medical help and nursing, and to transport her to a hospital for attention. However, she died about 12 hours after the accident.

The first of March 1915 a new federal law went into effect. Under this law physicians in the future had to keep copies of any prescriptions written which contained heroin or morphine or any other addictive drug. These drugs had been frequently prescribed for many illnesses and imaginary illnesses. Another part of the law made it mandatory that druggists who compounded medicines which contained any of these drugs list such drugs. The new federal anti-narcotic law was said to be a big step in making it harder for "friends" to get their medications-drugs.

Easily the major news of 1915 was work toward the new courthouse. In April members of the board of supervisors, who had tentatively given a contract to O. O. Smith of Des Moines to be the architect for the new building, called that contract back. It was said that they were unhappy with some of the provisions of the contract which would have given the architect additional and unspecified fees. He threatened suit but nothing came of the matter. The board met April 12 and interviewed several other architects appearing before the board-along with Smith who wanted his contract reinstated. After interviewing the group the board picked Joseph Schwartz for the job. Schwartz was from Sioux Falls, and had an outstanding record having designed several courthouses and other public buildings. He promised prompt action on the planning. Schwartz submitted preliminary plans for the courthouse at the May meeting of the board. They called for a building 68x108. There would be three stories above the ground and only sufficient basement to house the heating plant and provide storage for coal. He promised that final plans would be ready at the June meeting of the board of supervisors.

In June the board had some misgivings about whether the building planned would be large enough. Suggestions had been made that a gymnasium be built as part of the structure-and then when completed the old building could be demolished. A landscape engineer was hired to study the matter of location for the building.

At their meeting September 13, the supervisors approved the plans for Architect Schwartz, decided to build the new courthouse south of the existing structure, and set October 18 as the date for opening bids on the building. They hoped that work on the construction could be started that fall. At the October 18 meeting of the board five bidders put in proposals for construction of the courthouse. Top bid was $159,000-the successful low bidder was A. M. Wold Construction Company of Brookings. Their bid was $107,300. The board felt elated at what they considered a highly favorable offer.

By December 1 Wold Construction Company had the foundation walls for the basement poured, and at that time decided to stop work for the winter as they did not want floors to be damaged by freezing weather. About 1,000 yards of concrete were poured in the foundation walls. Carpenters were brought in to build boxing around the walls to protect them against damage until work could be started in 1918.

Not only the county was thinking big-the city also had plans for community improvements. Streets in Rock Rapids had been a problem throughout its history. Muddy streets following rains pretty well stopped traffic as far as automobiles were concerned and the council decided to try oiling-about which good reports were received from many communities. They decided to experimentally oil Main Street from Tama to Greene Street; Story Street from the Rock Island to the Illinois Central Railroad and a couple of blocks on Marshall Street.


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