Banking Growth

Part 1 of 3

Lyon County had three banks at the start of 1904. The First National bank, the Iowa Savings bank and the Lyon County bank. The last of the three had been operated as a private bank by J.K.P. Thompson, O.P. Miller and their associates. At the start of the year the Lyon County bank was approved as a national bank with a capital of $100,000 and undivided profits of $58,000. O.P. Miller was the president of the bank and M.A. Cox was cashier. F.B. Parker was listed as assistant cashier.

The new National bank issued its second statement of condition the first of April. This statement showed that the bank had total footings of $328,244,26. The "Shade" bank, the First National, showed footings of $328,651.97. The Iowa Savings bank had footings just about half those of the other two banks.

There was more banking news that spring of 1904, when the First National bank of Doon burned to the ground. The fire in the bank was discovered about 5 a.m., but the whole building was aflame and nothing was saved except items in the vault. The second story housed a lodge room which was used by the Knights of Pythias, the Odd Fellows, the Sons of Hermann and the Woodmen. All of the paraphernalia of the lodges and their supplies were destroyed.

In June the First National bank groups-Charles Shade and B.L. Richards, bought out the Farmers Savings bank at Inwood and took immediate possession of that bank. The Inwood bank was added to the group of banks associated with the First National, which was considered one of the strongest banking groups in the tri-state area.

Bad storms were causing problems with the start of 1904. Because of a blizzard the January 4 meeting of the county board of supervisors could not be held. The Illinois Central from the south was five hours late-and the two supervisors from the George area could not make the meeting.

The early part of March the weather continued bad-so bad there was fear it would not be possible to get the crops in on time. Farmers were being urged to get their harness oiled and repaired and their machinery in shape for use. They were also being urged to test the corn they planned to plant, for fear that much of that gathered for seed was not good and would not germinate properly.

The snow did melt-and although the ground was wetter than usual the crop was gotten in. There were frequent storms of heavy rain and winds, but little damage. The middle of July the editor of the Reporter made a trip throughout the county to see what the crop conditions were. He reported the barley harvest was on and that the crop was good. The oats stands were excellent, although the wheat stand was thin-the heads were filling well and a good crop was anticipated.

There was considerable enthusiasm about the prospects for the corn crop. The writer said it was at least a couple of weeks ahead of where it had been the year before-and making progress.

On July 24 a bad storm hit the area. There was a very rain-and when it stopped an electrical storm hit the area with tremendous bolts. Two Rock Rapids businessmen, E. Enderson and C.F. Johnson, had gone to the river to fish. It was thought they had sat the heavy rain out under some trees, but about four o'clock a bolt of lightning hit the tree under which they sat and killed both men. The time was determined by the fact that a watch one of them carried had stopped at 4:09 p.m. When the men did not return at nightfall, search parties were organized and the bodies were found about 2 a.m. the next morning.

The storm was severe throughout the area and many farm buildings were damaged or bunted to the ground after being hit by the bolts. A number of farm animals were also killed by lightning.

That same week a prominent farmer living between Rock Rapids and Doon was drowned. Sam Benjamin, who had lived in the area for 20 years, had finished his threshing and had gone to Doon to buy groceries. He came back to the farm and joined some of his neighbors on a fishing trip to the river. Benjamin was a large man, weighing in the neighborhood of 250 pounds. He was wading in the shallow part of the swollen river, when he stepped in a 12-foot deep hole. The men with him tried desperately to reach him but to no avail. His body was not recovered for several hours.

The whole area was sorrowed in the middle of January when Mrs. Mary R. Wheeler of Beloit died. She had been an army nurse during the Civil War, and had a host of friends-especially among the veterans. She had come to Lincoln County, South Dakota in 1872-but shortly thereafter her health failed, and she moved to Beloit, where she spent the rest of her life with her daughter, Mrs. Harriet E. Coffield. When the services were held, people from a wide area attended and the G.A.R. from Canton, S.D. formed an escort for the cortege.

A law suit of much interest was filed in January by D.A. Wempen of near Little Rock. Wempen's wife and two children were drowned in a flood of the Little Rock river the preceding fall. He blamed the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad for their death, saying that when they bridged the Little Rock river, they had not allowed proper water diversion and this was responsible for the flooding which took the lives of the members of his family.

The last week in January the George Dramatic club presented a very fine production of "Othello". The Rev. Mr. E.A. Cantrell of Rock Rapids and Mr. And Mrs. Louis Vogt of George played the three leading parts in the production, which received much praise. The same week at the opera house another dramatic production "Over Niagara" was given, which seemed to please the audience very much.

A couple of weeks later what was probably one of the first musical revues was presented at the opera house. It was "Shamus O'Brien"-and the production featured acting, dancing and singing. The Howard Stock company presented the show.

A home talent group also offered its production for the approval of local people. Their show, given at the opera house, was "The Outcast".

Hal Barber's Londale Theatre company had completed a very successful season, in which they had played at many of the cities in the Midwest. He returned to Rock Rapids for a vacation, reorganized his company, and opened his next season in June with two presentations at the opera house. The troop presented "Darkest Russia", and "Pawn Ticket No. 210". The Londale group had 10 specialty acts which went with the repertoire company. Barber hired an outstanding actress, Miss Caroline Farrell, as his leading lady-she playing the part of the grand duchess in the Russian play.

Throughout the year there were frequent plays, musicals, etc., at the opera house. In addition, speakers came here every few weeks, as a part of a Chautauqua program, and dances were held frequently. The social life of the community was flourishing-not only as far as plays, musicals, dances, etc., were concerned, but women's groups-particularly the PEO, were very active and dinners, at homes, and parties were reported almost every week involving the socially prominent of the community.

Probably encouraged by the success of the street carnival in 1903, local boosters planned on an expanded program for 1904. They set August 31, September 1,2 and 3 as the dates for a similar program to the one the year before. Free acts were bought, shows were arranged, two bands were hired to play for the event, there was to be dancing-and a ball game every day.

The papers reported that the program was quite successful in spite of the fact that it rained three of the days of the carnival. There were a lot of people on hand-and they enjoyed what baseball was possible-as the games would get started and then have to be called because of the rain-and other events were also curtailed throughout the period.

The community was still feuding with the water company about the water service Rock Rapids was receiving. At the February meeting of the council it was decided to deduct $100 from the payment due the water company from the city. Councilmen decided that low water pressure was not up to the standard they had contracted for and was responsible for the loss of the barn on the Robert Piele farm, which the fire department could not control.

The first week in March both the republicans and the citizens held municipal caucuses to pick candidates for the town election. There was considerable talk of another ticket-socialists, but it did not develop. Candidates nominated at the citizen's caucus won all of the offices-although there was a spirited contest and 425 votes were cast. A.S. Wold was elected mayor; J.W. Ramsey and S.D. Riniker were named as councilmen; P.G. Smith was chosen as treasurer: T.J. Vail, clerk; and C.H. Smith was named as assessor.

Nineteen hundred four was a political year and there was a lot of activity. The Hon. E.C. Roach, prominent northwest Iowa attorney and recognized statewide as a leading republican, decided to make a bid for the congressional seat from the 11th Iowa district. This congressional seat had been held for years by Lot Thomas of Storm Lake who was retiring.

A community mass meeting was held late in March and resolutions endorsing Roach's candidacy were passed and plans made for a campaign in his behalf. Unhappily for the Roach boosters when the district convention was held at Cherokee, he lost out and Elbert H. Hubbard of Sioux City was nominated after many ballots. He was later elected as 11th district representative.

In July county republicans held their county convention. It was slated to be a tough convention, and it was. There was little trouble in picking candidates for the various offices except for the office of county auditor. There were three candidates for the nomination. The incumbent, George Dietrich, H.G. Eggerts and Sanders. There were a possible 108 votes in the convention and 100 of them were present and voting. Dietrich and Sanders led the early balloting-but toward the end Eggert started to roll and finally won the nomination. There was some disagreement about how many ballots were taken. The Reporter said that 111 ballots were cast-the Review claimed it took 113 ballots to settle the issue. At any event Eggerts was nominated and in the fall elected as county auditor.

When the fall election was held there were five tickets on the ballot. These were republican, democratic, socialist, prohibition and the people's ticket. Every ticket was full for state and national offices-however only the republicans had a full slate of candidates for county offices. The democrats did not put up a candidate for recorder or for county attorney-and none of the other parties contested for the county offices.

Roosevelt, the candidate for president on the republican ticket, carried the county better than two to one as did most of the other republican candidates. Only one democrat won out-he was George G. Macnab, re-elected as county clerk over J.E. McGuire. Macnab had 1358 votes to McGuire's 1309.

In February the Rocker case again came to the forefront of the news. Rocker and his wife-the former Mrs. August Schroeder, had been brought back to Rock Rapids from Elkton, S.D., to face murder charges for killing Schroeder. After a bitter trial Rocker was found guilty of murder in the first degree and the jury ordered him to be executed.

In May Rocker was sentenced to die on June 9, 1905. Appeals were filed for a new trial, and eventually that trial was held-at Sibley. The second trial, at Sibley did not bring out anything new, Rocker was sent to Anamosa, but appeals and further court action kept him alive beyond the date set for his execution and he never did pay the supreme penalty-as ordered by the jury of his peers.

While conditions had been improving from the depression years at the start of the century, business was not good. The Reed general store which had been opened here after the Koobs store moved to Waseca, Minn., operated only a few months, when the owner filed for voluntary bankruptcy and the First National bank got an attachment against the property to cover a $1,100 loan.

Court news was plentiful in 1904. A case which aroused much interest was that against Oscar Berkland of Beloit. He and Rasmus Haggen had been partying and getting drunk quite frequently and one night early in the year they left the saloon together, got into a fight and Haggen was badly beaten up. Then it was charged that Berkland went to the Haggen home where he criminally assaulted Mrs. Haggen. He was arrested at Sioux Falls to answer the criminal complaint, just as he was boarding a train to go south. The Haggens also each filed civil actions against Berkland for $5,000. They attached farms which Berkland owned in Minnesota and South Dakota, and eventually collected damages from the plaintiff. Late in February a slander action was tried in court here. Mrs. Albertji Tjepkes sued Paul Schmidt, charging that he had made derogatory remarks about her. She sued for $5,000 and eventually won a $2,000 judgment.

Late in February Rock Rapids pastors got up in arms about the practice of stores selling cigars, operating dice games. The Rev. Mr. Harris finally went to every store in town that sold cigars and demanded the dice rolling be stopped. All but one of the stores agreed, but the Egbert store refused to sign up with the preachers.

In May Dr. E.T. Ellis of Doon, a veterinarian, filed an action against Haywood Schenck, who operated a saloon here. He claimed that Schenck, knowing he had been in a Keely institution for alcholism, had let him buy liquor, which was against the law. He claimed that Schenck got him drunk, drugged him, and stole $180 he had on his person. He asked for an injunction against the saloon and also for the return of his $180. The court finally told the saloon operator he better return the money and denied the injunction, but ordered the matter submitted to the grand jury.

Late in February a meeting of cattle feeders in the county was held and the Corn Belt Meat Producers Association was formed. Charles Creglow of Doon was elected president, and E.A. Hunt, prominent Rock Rapids cattleman, was vice-president.

The middle of May much interest was directed to the dedication of the new orphan's home at Beloit. This fine new home was said to be a model and had adequate facilities for all the demands to be put upon it.

Nineteen hundred four was the year of the world's fair at St. Louis-and a great job had been done of selling the exhibition. The song, "Meet Me in St. Louie, Louie", was heard everywhere and many people from Rock Rapids were planning to attend the fair. First of those to go from Rock Rapids were W.C. Wycoff and William Junkin, the postmaster and one of the publishers of the Reporter. Their glowing reports of the fair were responsible for a steady trek of others from this community to St. Louis.

The automobile was new-and attracting a lot of attention. In May the Leicher brothers from Luverne drove a car to Rock Rapids. They had a wagon and buggy works at Luverne and had assembled the car. It was a beauty according to the newspaper reports, which told of the drive down from Luverne by the Leichers and some of their associates. The car had 10 horsepower. It was a five-passenger touring car, but was built so the back seat could be taken off and the car used as a runabout, without any trouble.

When the high school class of 1904 graduated, a formal graduation program was held and Superintendent W.S. Wilson handed out the diplomas-but for some reason the class was the smallest ever to graduate from the local school. Only two students completed their work and received diplomas. They were Herbert O. Brandt and William H. Steinmetz.

There had been talk for a long time that Rock Rapids should have a national guard company and in the spring of 1904 the state agreed and a company was formed. It was to be known as Company D of the Iowa National Guard. The company chose J.J. Maloney as captain and Jess Kellihan as first and second lieutenants. There were 39 privates on the first roster. Plans were made to attend the encampment of the national guard to be held in Des Moines.

Late in July Captain Maloney and Lieutenants Vickers and Kellihan went to Des Moines to take the examinations which were necessary before they could be commissioned. They passed and were notified their commissions were on the way. The company was measured for uniforms and drills were started.

The first week in July the equipment and supplies for the new National Guard arrived. Captain Maloney said the rifles were the very latest style and all the equipment outstanding.

On July 14 the company left on the Rock Island to go to Des Moines. Only three members of the company were not with the departing group. One had been furloughed and two others stayed over an extra day to attend the funeral of a relative and joined the Des Moines group later.

The decision to have a national guard company at Rock Rapids raised the question about housing the group. The Opera House was considered, but Architect Dow was brought down from Sioux Falls to lay out a new armory, to be built across the street from the opera house, owned by Church & Fitzgerald. It was estimated the structure could be built for $6,000 and that in addition to housing the national guard it could be used for a show house, for dances and public meetings.

The government agreed to pay $300 a year rent for the armory. Committees were organized and started getting pledges for money to put up the building. They reported in July that $4,500 had been pledged and they expected to be able to get the $6,000 for the new armory.

By the middle of September the committee reported it had been unable to raise enough money, and said that an option had been secured from Church & Fitzgerald to buy the opera house and remodel it for an armory and other use. This they said could be done for $4,000. Evidently this proposal was popular because a committee to carry out this work and to operate the armory-opera house, was immediately formed. J.H. Harrison was named as president. A contract was awarded to John Olsen to do the work. The building was to be raised, the walls and floor strengthened. There was to be a basement dug under the stage for dressing rooms for the players who were to put on productions, and a furnace was to be installed.

The work proceeded rapidly and before the end of the year the building was in use, although not completed.

The telephone was increasing in popularity and in June farmers between Rock Rapids and Lester decided they wanted service so they started building a line between the two towns. They started at Lester and by June 30 the pole line was within a mile of Rock Rapids.

All spring and summer there had been much talk about the big land drawing to be held at Chamberlain. A big tract of land was to be opened for settlement and a drawing was to be held to determine in what order settlers could claim their land. At least a dozen people went to Chamberlain for the drawing and three from Lyon County drew low numbers. Lee McKin and James A. Dwinell of Doon and H.J. Klinkhammer of Rock Rapids had low enough numbers so it was pretty sure they would get land on which to homestead, but the others all had numbers so high they had no chance of getting any of the land.

The drawing attracted thousands to Chamberlain-many of whom came weeks ahead. To entertain them Hal Barber took his Londale Theatre Company to Chamberlain where they played for a full month-mostly to packed houses.

Farmers of the county were getting disturbed about the prices they were getting for their grain. So John Klahn and others called a meeting for the purpose of stirring up interest in a farmers elevator. They said farmers could get several cents a bushel more for their grains, if they were handling it themselves rather than selling to a line or private elevator. They started soliciting support for such an elevator in September.

Bert Smith and Dan Gardner launched their gasoline powered boat on the mill pond. The boat-home made, was said to be a beautiful piece of work and would carry 10 to 15 passengers. It was a flat bottomed boat, so it could be operated regardless of low water levels.

Cement blocks were becoming popular in Rock Rapids. Hand made, the blocks were being advertised as stronger, cheaper and better looking than brick or stone for basements, walls, etc. Olsen & Boone were advertising a special block they were making-with a vertical air space-while other people in town were working on a block with horizontal holes for air space.

The high school football team played its first game in November, meeting Sheldon on the local field. They defeated the Sheldon players 23 to 6. It was a perfect day and the fans enjoyed the game greatly-especially the fine showing made by the team coached by Dr. J.A. Roth.

Rock Rapids was considered quite a medical center in 1904-there were seven doctors locally-all busy. Dr. G.G. Cottam was a widely recognized surgeon and in addition there were Dr. C.P. Soper, Dr. Angus Macnab, Dr. G.C. Wallace, Drs. J.E. and Mrs. J.E. North and Dr. W.W. Bartine. The community had two dentists, Dr. J.A. Roth and Dr. J.J. Maloney.

Rock Rapids had a continuing problem with saloons from the time the town was first started. Legally or illegally, liquor had always been available here-and generally from open saloons. Sometimes these saloons were operating in violation of the law, but with public approval and paying monthly "fines" in lieu of licenses.


At the start of 1905 the issue was up again. This time Mark Grogan wanted a permit to operate a saloon-in addition to the two legal saloons which were currently serving the needs of the thirsty citizens. Grogan made application to the council for a license and after some debate the license was granted at the first meeting of the council in 1905.

In spite of the fact that arrests for drunkenness were frequent and barroom brawls were the cause of many disturbances, it would seem that the licenses ran pretty good saloons. The three licenses wanted it kept that way-and evidently the council agreed.

When a request for another license for a saloon-which would have been the fourth such business in the town came before the council in December of 1905, the councilmen debated the matter at some length but finally denied Henry Scholtz the license he sought and thus kept the saloons in Rock Rapids to three.

Several new businesses were opened in Rock Rapids during the year. The first of these was a new implement house, opened by W.R. McGuire. The business was located across the street from the Reporter office and the new businessman announced that he would handle a full line of implements and in addition wagons and buggies. It was late March before McGuire got his new business stocked and ready for operation.

In March another new face appeared on Main street. K.M. Thompson, who had been in business in Vinton, moved to Rock Rapids and bought out the T.D. Lee store. The store handled men's clothing and gent's furnishings. Thompson opened for business the last of March. He was to be prominent in Rock Rapids business circles for some 10 years.

The first of January one of Rock Rapids papers was sold again. The Review, which was the democratic paper had changed hands many times. The last change had been when Charles Leichliter, who went from Rock Rapids to a top job in the Chicago field, sold the Review to E.L. Partch. Partch had no experience as a printer or a publisher and he did not do well, so the first of January he sold the paper back to a former owner, P.H. McCarty.

In November another transaction in the newspaper field took place. That was the sale by Wm. Junkin of his half interest in the Reporter to W.G. Smith, who already owned a half interest, and who had been the actual operator of the paper for many years. Junkin had been in the Rock Rapids for nine and a half years-most of that time he had been postmaster. Junkin left Rock Rapids to go to Fort Collins, Colo., where he had purchased a newspaper.

January started out, that year of 1905, unusually mild. Temperatures were abnormally high, and Ed Tressler was worried about being able to put up enough ice to get the community through the coming summer. It was said that almost every day the temperatures got above freezing, and the river ice was "mushy" and not satisfactory for cutting or storing.

People of the community found out however, that they were due to have some winter after all. The first of February things took a dramatic change and that day one of the lowest mark ever registered here was recorded. The official temperature was set at 33 degrees below zero. On January 25, 1897, the mercury had dropped to 30 below zero-but that mark went by the boards. The bad weather continued into the month. On February 16 it was reported that trains were not running regularly, because of the snow and blizzards which were plaguing the area. Train schedules were not to mean anything at all. Travel in the country was almost impossible because of the drifts and the narrow roads cut through them which hardly allowed two teams to pass. Remarkable, it was said was the record made by the mail carriers, who only failed on one day to make their rural routes. The report on the 16th said that there was hope for a change, because for two days it had "neither snowed or blowed!"

Following the bad weather of February things improved rapidly in March and farmers were able to get into their fields from one to two weeks ahead of normal. The soil was in excellent condition for plowing and seeding. By April 13 most of the spring wheat had been seeded. The fall wheat and rye was coming along real well and everyone was optimistic about crop prospects. Although the week of April 10 brought cooler weather everyone was busy putting in gardens and potatoes were being planted.

The harvest got under way in August and a fine crop of grain was cut. Some threshing was completed when the weather changed and put a halt to everything for a couple of weeks. By September 28 conditions were good again, and grain was starting to come into Rock Rapids in substantial amounts. The grain which had been stacked and left during the bad spell was said to be proving of much higher quality than that threshed earlier. Three hundred sixty-five loads of grain and 11 loads of potatoes were weighed over the town scales in one week, ending September 27. Farmers seemed happy with the returns too. Oats were bringing 19 to 22 cents a bushel; barley, 26 to 34 cents a bushel; wheat 65 to 70 cents a bushel and potatoes were worth 23 cents a hundred. Hogs were bringing $4.75 per hundred.

In December the huge corn crop started moving to market. It was estimated that the crop was worth a million and a half dollars. This was based on estimates that a third of all the cultivated acres in the county were planted to corn. Corn acreage was figured to be 130,000 acres. The corn was averaging 40 bushels to the acre and it was bringing 32 cents a bushel.

On December 7 two special trains pulled out of Rock Rapids, on the Illinois Central, for Chicago. The trains were made up 41 carloads of sheep and two carloads of fat cattle. H.S. Boomgaarden shipped 24 cars of sheep; John Horn had eight cars; J.H. Baxter two cars; Rhode Bros had three cars, Dr. A.M. Vail five cars. Hunt's ranch shipped the two cars of fat cattle. In January H.G. McMillen owner of Lakewood farm decided to hold another horse auction and the first three hours approximately $13,000 worth of the animals had been sold. The horses averaged $431 per head.

A meeting of farmers in the Alvord area was held at the Germania hall, west of Alvord late in January, to discuss the proposal of building a cooperative elevator at Alvord. Eighteen hundred dollars in stock was subscribed and others indicated they would also put in money. It was decided to go ahead with the project and it was thought the elevator could be completed to handle the year's crop of grain.

The farm people of the area were not happy with the prices they were receiving for their grains. Charges that the line elevators and the railroads were taking advantage of them were current. Meetings were held about this same time at Lester and at Inwood, in both of which places it was planned to build cooperative grain businesses.

Much interest had been evidenced in the big silo which had been erected by H.H. McKelvey who had a dairy farm at the south edge of Rock Rapids. He told the Reporter that he was very enthusiastic about the innovation. He had filled his silo with green corn the year before and he said that it had kept fine, the cattle liked it, and it made an excellent feed for the dairy herd.

In September Lakewood farm had 16 horses entered in the Iowa State Fair at Des Moines-and again they walked away with most of the ribbons for draft animals. Calypso, the famous stallion at Lakewood farm, was picked as the finest of any draft animal in the show and he also won top honors. The yearling stallion class was also won by a Lakewood animal. Following the Des Moines show McMillen and his farm manager Cash Dent, had the animals shipped to Minneapolis, where once more they won all kinds of ribbons.

On January 22, 1905 it was announced that the First Methodist Episcopal church trustees had let a contract to the Hinner Organ company of Pekin, Ill., for a new pipe organ. The contract with the company was for $1,960. The new organ could be pumped by hand or it could be operated by a water motor. In June an argument arose between the water company and the church people over the proposed use of a water motor. The water company said that it would use so much water that they would have to pump extra time and this would make the business unprofitable. The makers of the water motor were brought into the argument and they said that in as much as the motor would only be used an hour a week and that it took only 300 gallons of water to operate the motor for an hour-they hardly thought there was a problem. They suggested that if the company could not supply an extra six barrels of water a week, it must be in pretty bad shape. The company gave in and the motor was installed. The installation of the new organ was completed in July and a big public concert was planned-to show people the only pipe organ in the county and to raise money to help pay the cost of the extra piping for the water motor and for the work of installing the organ. Professor J.W. Mather, head of the department of instrumental music from Morningside college was hired to play the introductory concert. Local people also participated, including Mrs. A.H. Lockwood and Miss Ethel Coonrod, who sang a duet. Admission for the concert was 50 and 25 cents. When the installation was complete total cost of the project was put at $2,150.

Nineteen hundred and five was to go down in the annals of Rock Rapids as the big "concrete" year. Concrete building blocks had been known for a long time, but they were largely hand made, not particularly constant as to their size and they had very poor insulating qualities. Several Rock Rapids men were working on these problems and the results of their effort became apparent this year. Late in January C.W. Bradley and John Olsen invented a machine for the manufacture of cement block which was said to be superior to anything ever produced before. It made uniform size blocks, it made them fast, and because of the fact that it was two parallel blocks, tied together with iron bars, there was a continuous air space throughout the whole block. They started manufacturing the machines.

In April a corporation was formed to manufacture the machines Bradley and Olsen had designed. J.M. Parsons was elected president of the corporation. Other officers were E. Huntington, vice-president; S.D. Riniker, secretary-treasurer and Bradley and Olsen made up the balance of the board of directors. Reports said that the new block machine was outstanding, and that the blocks made excellent building units.

The group, which was to manufacture what was to be known as the Anchor Block machine, were not alone in the field however. J.I. Taylor and William Ely came forward with a machine they were to build. It was to be known as the Climax Concrete Block Manufacturing machine. This block had two air spaces-one running vertically through the block and the other horizontally.

Ole Olsen also was working on a machine to make cement blocks. His machine was automatic to a large extent. The blocks it made were comprised of two parallel concrete slabs, tied together by metal bands. W.E. Dunklebarger and Simon Fisher were backers of this machine.

In August it was announced that Dr. J.J. Maloney had decided to build a new home and an office building out of the new cement blocks. The announcement aroused lots of interest. A big crew went to work on the buildings, which went very rapidly. It was said in the Reporter that no other town in the world had heard so much about cement blocks as a building material.

The armory company-a group of public spirited citizens who bought the building, improved it for use as a combination armory and opera house, were very anxious to bring the best in the way of plays and entertainment to Rock Rapids. One way they decided that should be done was to fix up the stage. They bought new scenery-a set of drop curtains, new wooden street scene, full complement of parlor, kitchen, prison scenes, etc. The James Cox company of Estherville did the work.

All through the fall and winter of a904-05 there were frequent activities at the armory. The guard was drilling regularly, but there were operas, stage plays, medicine shows, and frequent dances.

One of these shows which came here early in February was the German Medicine company. The show they presented-along with their pitches for various medications was said to be very clean and fit for all the family.

Social activity in Rock Rapids was high. The Sons of Hermann lodge was having frequent dances in their hall, where German families from the area gathered for cards and dancing that went on until all hours. These were family affairs-and good food was a feature of every one of the gatherings.

Much interest was evidenced locally in the season's production by the George Dramatic club. Mr. And Mrs. Louis Vogt, he a prominent attorney, were the moving spirit in the group. The play presented by the group in 1905 was "Macbeth".

Another very popular entertainment in Rock Rapids were the frequent band concerts presented under the baton of Professor Tonolli. The band was a good one-if small by present day standards and Tonolli was an outstanding leader and instructor. The band had a tough time raising enough money to pay Tonolli and keep going, but they managed to do so. In July Tonolli was given a tremendous recognition. He was the holder of the longest record as an instrumental music instructor and band leader in the country and because of this the G.C. Conn company, maker of musical instruments, presented him with a very fancy double bell baritone. The instrument had been made for display at the world's fair. It has a jeweled mouth piece and was said to be worth more than $400. The gift was made by Mr. Conn, head of the musical company.

In the fall, the series of programs known as the "Lecture course" started again. First number, in September, was a speech by Governor Robert M. LaFollette, of Wisconsin. LaFollette was a tremendous force in the country at this time. He was a dedicated foe of big business and was constantly fighting the railroads and the corporations. He spoke for two and a half hours to a capacity crowd at the opera house-armory-and then met with a large group of his supporters at the Lyon hotel, where the discussions went on for several more hours. The Reporter said of him-"he was a small man in stature but to look at his clear eye and feel the firm clasp of his hand one would know that he was a born fighter."

Another number of the fall series, presented in November was a lecture by a Captain Albertis. Alberti was a Russian officer who got involved in politics in his home land, was twice sentenced to Siberia. He escaped both times-and the second time he managed to get to the United States and here he was on the lecture tour, telling people of the terrible condition under the Czars and of the conditions in the Siberia prison camps and mines, where political prisoners were sent.

In December a very outstanding program was presented by Lorado Taft. He was the nation's premier sculptor and was making a lecture tour. He set up a replica of his studio on the stage at the opera house and demonstrated how he did his work. He also displayed some finished pieces of sculpturing which were said to be outstanding.

Lyon county had a lot of attorneys and a reputation as a community where there were all kinds of lawsuits. One that aroused a lot of attention was filed in February when E.W. Albertson of Little Rock, who formerly lived at Inwood, started a suit against Dr. D.W. Lewis. He said that in December he had fallen while skating and broke his left arm three inches above the elbow. Dr. Lewis took care of the break and the injured man said that the arm was not properly set and the arm was in a bent condition. He asked for $5,000 damages. When the case was tried the jury found for the plaintiff and awarded him damages in the amount of $350. Neither side was satisfied and the case was to be appealed-as many were to the supreme court.


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