LYON COUNTY GENEALOGY
Lyon County Reporter March 27, 1884
On last Friday occurred the first graduating exercises of the Rock Rapids High School. Although the weather was stormy and rain poured down all evening, the M.E. Church was crowded. The exercises were entertaining throughout, and it was a universal verdict that the class covered themselves with honor. At the appointed hour the nine graduates took their seats on the platform, and to their right sat Rev. March, Prof. Perkins and E.C. Roach. The exercises were opened with prayer by Rev. Marsh, who in a very few words invoked divine blessing upon the exercises of the evening, and upon the future works of the graduates of the school. An anthem was next sung by a quartet of the graduates, Misses Web and McQueen and Messrs, Leach and Moon. The first exercise was that of Gay Smith. His essay entitled "Sir Walter Scott" will be found in another place and we shall give no synopsis. He read with good stage presence and could be heard all over the house. A declamation -"Kate Shelley," by Alfred Whitehead followed. It was well rendered and brought rounds of applause from the audience. The next was an essay, "The Southern States," by Mary Webb. This essay was a splendid pen picture of the southern states, and a masterly defense of the people. It wouldn't be just the thing for a campaign speech in this presidential year, but there was much truth in it all the same. Mary read it loud and well.
Next followed a declamation by Robert R. Moon. He chose "Spartacus to the Gladiators." Mr. Moon has a good stage presence, a melodious voice and a very good delivery. He did himself much credit in this performance. The next essay was entitled "Industrial Education" by Addie Penman. The writer might have taken for her text the creed of the Yonkers Gazette funnyman, who once wrote:
"She may dress in silk, she may dress in satin;
She may speak the languages, Greek and Latin;
She may know the fine arts of love and signs,
But she ain't no good if she can't bake pies."
The essay throughout was a plea for more practical education, that which teaches each one the very business which he expects to follow. Young men who intend to engage in farming, ought to be taught farming. Girls ought to be taught cooking and other useful ladies work. This performance was much enjoyed and heartily applauded. The next performance was an oration by Ivan McQueen, entitled "A Century of Progress." None of the class will feel slighted when we say it was the best performance of the evening, for Ivan is a remarkable boy. Quiet, studious, ambitious, and with a splendid mind, he is bound to make his mark in the world. He ought not to let his splendid talents in this direction stop here, but should follow up his studies and there is a future for him. As the subject indicates, the oration was a review of the progress made by the United States in the first century of its existence. It was couched in fine language and delivered in a clear, loud voice and with the ease and grace of an experienced orator. We shall publish the oration in about two weeks and our readers will have a chance to judge of its merits.
Next followed an essay "The Pacific Railroad," by Earnest J. Leach. It was a well written history of the building of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Roads. It was very interesting, and was distinctly read. "Cultivation of the Mental Powers," was an essay by Mary L. McQueen. Her essay embodied the thought that to learn to control the emotions is an essential part of education. That we should study more than we do to make our dispositions pleasant and give the reasoning powers complete control over the passions. The thought is a good one, and the writer did it justice by clothing it in fine language. It was heartily applauded. Next came the valedictory by Fanny P. Dalglesh. It was short but very good indeed. It brought tears to the eyes of many, both among the scholars and the audience. The long, hearty applause which followed, showed that she had struck a tender chord, not to break but to vibrate. The class will long remember her parting words.
Mr. Perkins arose and thanked the M.E. church trustees for kindly allowing the use of the church for the exercises, and returned thanks to the audience for their presence.
E.C. Roach then arose and said he had been requested by the school board to hand to the graduating class the diplomas. He then made a short address to the class which was listened to with great interest and contained much good advice. He then handed them the elegant diplomas which had been secured for them. This being done, Mr. Roach stepped down in the audience where Mr. Chan Smith had secreted a beautiful silver card receiver, and on behalf of the class presented it to Prof. Perkins and wife. Mrs. Perkins was not able to be out, a circumstance which was regretted by all. Prof. Perkins could not say much, he was so overcome and it was such a complete surprise. After trying to express his feelings and failing to find words to do them justice, added, "I can only say from my heart, God Bless You."
Thus ended the first graduating exercises of the high school. It may be several years before there will graduate as good a class-before our people will have so good exercises throughout. We cannot find terms of praise in which to commend the work of Prof. and Mrs. Perkins. The evidences of their splendid work is everywhere visible about our schools. We hope the board may be able to induce him to remain long at the head of our schools, and we are confident that no high school in the country will make a better showing. We can say to Prof. Perkins and estimable wife, on the part of the people of Rock Rapids, that we are proud of their work in the schools, we are proud of the class which graduated on Friday last.
The first week of April J.K.P. Thompson went to the Twin Cities to talk to railroad people there. He was trying to get the Chicago, St. Paul, Milwaukee and Omaha line to extend their Luverne-Doon line (The Bonnie Doon) south to Sioux City or into Sioux County, where it could link up with the Northwestern line.
Rock Rapids had two banks-and the Rock Rapids Bank (a private bank) reincorporated as a national bank, taking the name First National Bank. The personnel of the bank remained the same as it had been prior to that time.
Citizens of the new community were anxious to get new industry and so on April 24 it was announced that the Board of Trade was giving lots 1 and 11, block 8, near Moon Creek, to J.P. Sallyards and Orrin Thayer. They were from Van Buren County and were experienced brick makers. They believed that the clay found in this area would make good bricks. They proposed to start a brickyard, and made a deal that the lots would be deeded over to them if they operated for two years. The men immediately started making bricks, a kiln was started, fired up, and there was great anticipation about what the product would be, after the bricks had been fired.
On June 19 it was reported that the kiln at the brickyard had been opened and a few of the bricks taken off the outside of the pile. They were said to be of superior quality-and a much darker red than had been anticipated. Sallyards and Thayer were highly praised for their product and efforts. The First National Bank immediately bought all of the bricks from the first kiln and contracted for the full load of bricks from the next kiln to be fired. These were to be used in their new bank building.
One June 12 reports were given of the sudden death of Herman Berkholtz, one of the owners of Rock Rapids two mills and the operator of the north mill. Berkholtz was seated with his family eating when he became violently ill. Dr. George Wallace was called and he summoned Drs. Vail, Mcnab and Smith, but in spite of everything they could do, he died shortly.
There were all kinds of stories about his death and no agreement among the doctors as to its cause. Some insisted that it was strychnine poisoning, others disagreed. At any event, autopsy was ordered and performed-without any agreement as to the cause of death. The stomach was put in a "bottle" to be transported to Iowa City or Chicago for analysis. Ten days later Sheriff Kitterman took the stomach to Iowa City, where doctors at the university medical school said they could not perform the necessary tests so Kitterman took it in to Chicago where it was subjected to analysis.
A coroner's jury heard testimony from the four doctors who attended Berkholtz and also others and brought in a verdict that he had met his death from causes unknown. At that time a report was received from Dr. Walter S. Haines, who said he found no evidence of poison.
Berkholtz was 45 years of age, and was survived by his wife and four children. He had been a leader in the community and a highly successful businessman.
Another matter of great interest was reported in June of 1884. E.C. Carpenter, the leading promoter in the Beloit area for many years, became involved in what was called the Santa Fe Script case. The matter was in federal court in South Dakota and Carpenter managed to evade trial for a period of time on technicalities. He was finally brought to trial and found guilty. His attorney immediately filed an appeal.
July 4, 1884 was a great day for Iowa-in the minds of many people. That was the date on which statewide prohibition became effective and all the saloons were closed. The railroads announced they would not accept or deliver shipments of liquor into this state. Druggists announced they would no longer sell liquor for medicinal purposes. Rock Rapids' three saloons were located next to each other-and someone during the night of the third hung a long banner of black calico a yard wide, across the front of the three places of business. There was a sign on it "In God we trusted-now you are busted."
The Reporter said that Boone's place was closed. Older's place was being foreclosed, but that Mr. Judson was open for the sale of light beverages, lemonade, pop, etc., but that he would probably close and move to South Dakota. Another item indicated that there must have been another saloon, because J. I. Taylor had rented it and was remodeling it for a restaurant and a "temperance billiard hall."
On July 24 the Reporter told of a run on Hostetter's bitters at the local drug stores. The report said "The drug stores are making great profit from the sale of this medication."
Prices of land in the county were indicated by a series of transactions reported in August. The northwest quarter of 33-98-46 was sold for $1920; the south half of 22-99-46 was sold for $3120; and the north half of 88-99-48 went for $1600.
Farmers and stockowners were greatly disturbed early in September of 1884 by an outbreak of Texas fever which struck the area. Many cattle died and more were seriously sick. The disease was reported to have started when a Sioux Falls man drove a herd of Texas cattle across the western part of the county to that South Dakota city.
One of the most pleasant social events of the season was the celebration on Tuesday evening of the 40th anniversary of the wedding of Dr. W.G. Smith and his wife. Aside from the relatives, only a few guests were present, but an enjoyable evening was spent. The Cornet Band was present and discoursed some splendid music and the "Big Four" furnished the vocal music. A fine supper was served and enjoyed by all present. The boys were furnished with cigars and a smoking room. Afterward the whole company gathered in the parlors and listened to instrumental and vocal music and stories until 11 o'clock when the company departed after spending one of the very most pleasant evenings. During the evening Dr. Smith was presented with a fine solid gold headed cane with the inscription "To Willis G. Smith from his wife and children on his 40th anniversary." Mrs. Smith was presented with a fine silver caster of elegant design and finish. The couple looked as happy as the day they were married and no doubt their whole married lives has been gladdened by the same sunshine. There were present four sons, this being all the children but one son who resides at Savannah, N.Y., also all the grandchildren, being seven in number. Mr. Smith is 62 years old but does not look it for he is well preserved and enjoys life as well as many who are 20 years his junior. Mrs. Smith, whose maiden name was Almira Whitney, is two years the husband's junior and is also the picture of health. This couple was married 40 years ago Tuesday at Otisco, Onondago County, New York. They resided at Savannah, New York until about three years ago when they came to make Lyon County their home. In that short time their many good and social qualities have become well known to our people, and they count among their friends and well wishers everyone who know them. C. H. Smith, the old settler here, and at present nominee of the Republican Party for county clerk, is the oldest son and C. A. Smith, the cashier in the Lyon County Bank and W. H. Smith, both citizens of this place are also sons. The Reporter extends to this worthy and happy couple its hearty congratulations and hopes that they may have many more anniversaries to celebrate and that their children and grandchildren may increase around them. (Hear that Net?) Mr. H. W. Smith, a son living in Savannah, New York was also present and will depart for his home in a few days.
The niceties of civilization were coming to Rock Rapids. Dr. Norris reported the opening of his new baths. These provided "for that most healthful luxury, the bath." They had both hot and cold water, were "neat, clean and inviting." Dr. Norris said he would soon have arrangements completed for medical baths and for electrical treatments. He said he would also have on hand at all times a stock of mineral water.
Railroad talk got a shot in the arm when Engineer Thayer for the proposed Iowa, Sioux Falls and Northern Railroad surveyed across the county. Not long afterwards the name of the proposed railroad was changed to Rock Rapids, Sioux Falls & Northern-and not long afterwards Rock Rapids people were asked to put up $300 to help pay for the survey.
October 16 saw a formal statement published by the new First National Bank. The statement showed the institution had footings of $90,056.06.
The presidential election was held November 6, and to the great chagrin of people of the area, Grover Cleveland defeated the republican candidate, Blaine. There was great fear expressed that the country was going to the dogs-but in Lyon County the vote was better than two and a half to one for the republican and all local republican candidates won out.
On November 13 residents of the western part of Rock Township filed a petition asking an election on the division of Rock Township into separate townships. The west part of the Rock Township, which was to split off, was to be known as Cleveland Township.
The first of December a serious accident occurred at the tow mill, when Hud Bradley was caught in one of the brakes. He had reached over to see if one of the bearings was heating-and in the process the sleeve of his coat was caught in the machine. His arm from the elbow down was shattered and stripped of the flesh. Doctors Wallace, Smith, Mcnab, Vail and Dr. Spaulding of Luverne decided that the arm should be taken off just above the elbow, which was done. Later it was reported that Bradley felt great discomfort in the hand, which had been amputated, as though the hand was badly cramped. The arm was finally dug up, and the hand was found to be badly clenched-it was necessary to put a weight on it to keep the fingers from clinching and cramping. A few days later, the paper reported, it was necessary to dig the arm up again and remove the weight, as the patient could feel it bearing down on the fingers.
The year 1884 closed with Rock Rapids taking a serious economic blow. The tow mill had been shut down for several weeks on account of the poor market and low prices for its product. It was to be started up at the end of the year. On December 30 a crew was assembled, the engines fired up, and production was to be started. However, while they were waiting for the pipes to thaw out-when the employees were all gathered in the engine building-fire broke out in the main plant. No satisfactory explanation was put forward, but it is thought that some of the bearings must have been overheated, or other mechanical problem was to be blame.
The main building, which housed the brakes, was destroyed-along with it all the machinery it housed. Ninety tons of straw and tow were also destroyed by the flames.
Only a couple of days earlier a fire had been discovered in the loft of the Ellis & Penman Implement Company. This fire was discovered before it got out of hand and damage was kept to a minimum, but it was believed that the fire was definitely a case of arson. Officials believed that the fire was set so that when everyone's attention was drawn to the blaze, it would be possible to burglarize some of the business houses.
The two fires brought an immediate demand for the organization of an effective fire-fighting department. This was a project often pushed when fire struck the young community-but nothing had come of the matter.
January 1885 also brought about the organization of another religious group. A number of families of Scandinavian background got together and formed a Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church. The eleven families involved picked S. N. Krogness to be their minister.
On February 6 the Rev. T. J. Sullivan of Sheldon came to Rock Rapids and conducted a mass at the courthouse. He announced plans to return for another mass in two weeks-and plans were started for raising money for the erection of a Catholic Church in Rock Rapids.
According to law-prohibition had come to Iowa on July 4, 1884---but actually this seems not to have been the truth. Many of those desiring liquor had turned to Hostetters bitters, which was freely available at the drug stores-and it was suspected that at least two Rock Rapids establishments were selling forbidden liquor. The first of March officers organized two raids on questionable establishments. At Nels Martenson's they found a stock of bitters, but nothing more. But at the Norris place in the Central House, they were more fortunate. When the raid came off the operators tried to pass a stock of whiskey and beer out of a back window-but officers had suspected that might happen and were there to capture the contraband. Prosecutions followed, and the town was dried up for a period.
Meetings were held and petitions were circulated, and an election was called for May 7, on the matter of incorporating Rock Rapids. This proposal had been submitted twice previously and on both occasions it had been defeated.
Time was evidently ripe-the vote was favorable. May 14 a slate of city officers was chosen. The first mayor of Rock Rapids, who was elected at this time, was C. H. Moon. Six trustees (councilmen) were also named at this election. They were G. W. McQueen, S.S. Wold, M.O. Partch, L. P. Kenyon, S. L. Fairlamb and I. N. Searles. On May 18 the council met and was sworn in by the new mayor. Work on city ordinances started at once, as was the search for a city marshal, to take up law enforcement duties.
Interest in the railroads continued at a high pitch and April 9 a meeting was reported in which plans for a new line from Ayrshire, in Clay County, to Sioux Falls, was discussed. This line would go through Primghar, Sheldon, Rock Rapids, Larchwood; and all of these towns were represented at the meeting. There was considerable interest and another meeting was set for Sheldon.
The middle of April a meeting was held at the courthouse about building of the Rock Rapids, Sioux Falls, and Northern (also referred to as the Iowa, Sioux Falls, and Northern.) Railroad men were anxious to get this work started and it was agreed that the county would try and pass a tax of 5 percent on all townships except Centennial (which had already helped build the Milwaukee line from the South to Beloit.) The county people also agreed to provide right-of-way and ground for depots, if the railroad was complete from a point near Little Rock to the west Lyon County line by January 1, 1886.
The last of April a vote on the railroad tax proposal was held in Rock Township and all but six votes were favorable. Other townships also held votes and while some were very close-all were favorable to giving the proposed line the support demanded.
Religion seemed to be on an upswing during the spring of 1885, and a series of meetings held by the local clergymen and a revivalist. The meetings ran most of the month of May and June 4th the Reporter announced that "150 sinners turn their backs on their crooked ways and take the straight and narrow path to the New Jerusalem." About 100 of these people joined the Methodist Episcopal Church and fifty joined the Congregational Church. It was reported that other churches also benefited from the meetings and the exhortation of the revival conductor.
Times were tight in 1885. In spite of the favorable crop outlook, money was scarce, businesses were failing, and there was considerable pessimism. The newspapers were filled with stories of financial troubles in the east, of big businesses closing their doors and of unemployment.
It was something of a shot in the arm for the Rock Rapids business community, when, early in June, Mr. McKee came from Nashua, looked the town over, and announced that he would start a new creamery. The community had been without a creamery for many months, since a fire had destroyed the creamery operated by the Partchs. The editor was elated at the proposed expansion of the local business community, nothing that the creamery would make a fine market for the milk and cream produced by farmers of the area-which at the time could not be marketed.
The death of former President, U. S. Grant, brought a tremendous amount of interest in the community. Dunlap Post No. 147 of the Grand Army of the Republican headed a move for a community memorial service, and this service was held on August 8. The program was held at the Congregational Church and there was a parade to the cemetery with ceremonies there. The Rock Rapids Silver Cornet Band participated in the program.
The first of August results of an agricultural census of Iowa were released. This was for the year 1884. The census disclosed that there were 335 farms in Lyon County, operated b the owners of these farms. There were only 14 rented farms in the county. Farming operations were carried out on 128,865 acres, and of that number of acres 54,127 were "improved." Value of the agricultural production of the year was set at $369.415 for the county.
Fourteen townships had been organized in Lyon County. The original townships-Rock and Lyon had been divided up as the years went by and more settlers had arrived. Now the pressure for additional townships was again felt and after proceedings the supervisors announced that three new townships would be added-these were to be Cleveland Township, Allison and Midland Townships.
The increasing population of Rock Rapids meant added pupils in the schools. On October 1 a school report was issued showing that there were 203 pupils enrolled as follows: first primary, 54; second primary, 48; intermediate, 55 and the grammar department, 46.
The November off-year elections created high interest and a strong vote. Lyon County, as did the state, went strongly Republican. Wm. Larrabee, who was elected as governor had land interests in Lyon County, and had been here on many occasions.
After years of negotiations, conferences and hopes-action on building a railroad from the east through Lyon County to Sioux Falls finally began to materialize the first 1886. The Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railroad had built to Little Rock, and work had stopped there.
Now officers of that line told boosters in this county and at Sioux Falls that they were ready to build-but they called for a bonus payment of $80,000 to proceed. This promise was eagerly accepted by the settlers of northwest Iowa's newest county and by the leaders at Sioux Falls. There were mass meetings and special elections were called to vote the money required.
It was a cold winter. Social activity was curtailed somewhat, Rock Rapids had growing pains. Then they had something else which everyone dreaded-that is a "firebug." January 21, 1886 the Reporter told of another fire that broke out in the Gibson & Powers Machine House. The building was lost, along with the stock of merchandise. The loss was estimated at $11,000. The fire was blamed on arson. Lack of adequate fire protection made it impossible for the citizens to halt the blaze once it was discovered.
Mid-February the people of Sioux Falls voted on the railroad proposal that asked for $50,000 from the community as a part of the $80,000 bonus proposal. The vote was favorable, with 681 voting 'yes' and only 35 voting 'no.'
The last of January the people of the county were advised that the governor had decided to pardon the Lannahan women-they had been sentenced to the penitentiary for the killing of their husband and father. Public opinion seems to have been favorable to the women, and people were glad they were to be turned loose. It seems that information had come out indicating that Lannahan had been a harsh husband and probably there had been some justification for the crime. At any event the governor set March 31 as the date the women were to be set free.
As February advanced so did the reports of the spread of diphtheria in communities around Rock Rapids. Particularly at Luverne there were many cases. People were cautioned to be most careful if they went to that city. It was even suggested that quarantine be established and no one be allowed to go to Luverne or come to Rock Rapids from that city. The disease was a vicious form-or possibly the lack of medical knowledge as how to combat it was responsible, but there were many deaths.
When he was going home late one night in late February, Oscar Shannon discovered that the Wyckoff & Wallace Drug Store was on fire. He sounded an alarm, but the flames were out of control. The store was destroyed along with most of its stock of merchandise. Many other stores in the area were also damaged as the terrific heat and showering sparks set other flames, broke windows and smoke drifted about. This fire also was listed as caused by arson.
The first Monday in March the town election was held. There were 195 votes cast. The big race was between S. L. Fairlamb and E. C. Eccelston for the Mayor's job and Fairlamb won.
As a side benefit of the plans of the B.C. R. & N. to build their line through Lyon County, the Omaha, short line from Luverne to Doon, was to be extended. The line would run through Sioux County, it was said, to hook up with the line from Sioux City to the Twin Cities. This would give shippers much better service in getting their crops out-and in bringing in the merchandise the growing community in and around Rock Rapids needed.
More progress came that spring of 1886 when the school board announced that there would be no graduation class that year, as an additional year was being added to the curriculum, making the Rock Rapids school a four-year high school. The new courses, which were added, were rhetoric, bookkeeping, botany, English literature, and civil government.
On April 29 reports were carried of some of the elections incident to the raising of $30,000 for the railroad extension. In Larchwood the vote was unanimous in favor of the grant. In Rock Rapids there was only one vote 'no.' That was the vote cast by the Omaha agent here. He said later that he was sorry he voted.
Population of Rock Rapids at this time was listed as 1200 people-but the boosters were talking more than that. Miller & Thompson put out another issue of their "Index," which was a 'newspaper' circulated in the east to attract settlers to this area. Two articles from the publication were as follows:
"Which is shown in the cut here presented, is situated on the west bank of the Rock River, in the center of the county east and west, and about two miles above the center north and south. It derives its name from the rapids that furnish excellent waterpower for manufacturing purposes. The valley, upon which the town plat is located, is high and dry, averaging not less than twenty-five feet above the water's edge. It is skirted by a gently rolling elevation that presents admirable residence sites. The drainage of the town is natural and perfect. A gravel bed underlies the bottom and readily carries off all surplus water that does not find ready access to the river. Two substantial and really magnificent brick blocks adorn the streets of this young city. Two large church buildings have conspicuous places, the Methodist and Congregationalist, the former has cost over $13,000, and the latter $5,000.
There are four church organizations altogether. The public school building is a credit to any town. Our courthouse is wanting in no respect in all that gives a county commodious, substantial and beautiful structure. The private residences are a source of surprise to visitors. A number of them would grace a much more pretentious city. Every line of business is well represented. In fact the newcomers leave behind none of the comforts of life and but few of the luxuries. As a business center it has fine opportunities and a bright future. A moments study of the map will reveal a large and contiguous territory, which is not likely to be interfered with in the future. In fact, the beautiful young city surrounded by nature's most extravagant fertility, situated on a commanding plateau, can well point to the future with the finger of pride.
As described the INDEX man in the late issue of that valuable publication:
"No man should select for himself a future home, a place where his posterity are likely to live, unless the surrounding natural advantages are such as will exert a beneficial influence in building up an active, energetic and intelligent citizenship. For who can doubt but that men's usefulness and force of character are strongly influence by their natural surroundings. We would have had no "Arkansas Traveler" had we not had an "Arkansas." No "Hooppole Township, Posy County," Indiana man would have ever come to light had not that section previously existed. The climate conditions of the south encourage slothfulness. The sallow-morose-drawn-up-bone-shaken citizens of miasmatic districts ought to be a warning to forever dodge such countries. It has long ago been proven however, that the open, elevated, health-giving, and brain inspiring prairies of the northwest combine all the essentials to make men happy, active and intelligent.
"Lyon County claims a combination of these elements to an eminent degree. Her elevation is 1400 feet above sea level. Her prairies are gently rolling and admirably drained. There are to be found neither scarcely a stagnant pool nor an undrained slough. A furrow could be plowed from one corner of the county to the other without a break or an interruption, save for the streams. The bottomlands are tillable to the water's edge. The soil, geologically considered, is a drift deposit, which during the past centuries, has become covered with a black loam resulting from vegetable decomposition with an admixture of sand, covers the country to the depth of from three to six feet. Dr. C. A. White, state geologist, speaking in his report, volume two, page 204, of the exceeding mellowness and warmth of the soil resulting from its favorable composition, says:
"This fortunate admixture of soil materials give a warmth and mellowness to the soil which is so favorable to the growth of crops, that they are usually matured even in the northern part of this region, as early as they are upon the more clayey soils of the southern part of the state, although the latter are two hundred miles further south. Such a soil has also the additional advantages of becoming sufficiently dry to cultivate sooner after the frosts of early spring have ceased, as the rain showers of summer have ended, than those do which contain a greater portion of clay."
"The thaws of spring are short in duration. The water is quickly out of the way. The farmer begins his work from one to two weeks from the date of the final breaking up. No time is lost after rains in the summer but the plow is put into the field immediately after the most copious rains. The wash and waste of land so destructive to portions of our beautiful state is avoided by the gently rolling lay of the land, and the rapid absorbing character of the vegetable mould.
"The county contains over 600 square miles, being thirty-seven miles from east to west and seventeen from north to south. Its location, too, is advantageous as to the markets. Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul on the north, Chicago and Milwaukee on the east, while Sioux City is springing rapidly into prominence as a commercial center south."
Progress was appearing on many fronts in the community. On May 6 the members of the council gave official notice to home owners on the west side of Greene Street, between Third and Fifth Streets, and also on Tama Street between Third and Sixth Street, that they had to put in board walks. The walks, the notice recited must be made of one-inch boards, and the walks were to be four feet wide. The walks were to be made with four stringers.
A. H. Davidson, who was the editor of the Reporter, announced that effective with the issue of June 18, the Reporter would be a semi-weekly newspaper. The experiment lasted for about sixty days, when it was decided that there was neither enough news or enough advertising to support the venture-and the Reporter again came out on its weekly schedule.
Mid-June officials of the B. C. R. & N. Railroad were here making arrangements for construction of their line. It was reported that Winston Brothers had the general contract for the work and that "two or three carloads of mules had been unloaded at Ellsworth" to start work there.
The June statement of condition of the First National Bank of Rock Rapids showed that bank's footings to total $106,953.09.
On June 26 publication was made of the official assessment total in Lyon County. Valuations were: land, $1,500,980; town property, $126,602; railroads, $91,646; livestock, $98,224; personal, $55,358; for a total of $1,899,816. However there were three exemptions of $197,632, so the official taxable valuation for Lyon County for the year was $1,672,178. The report showed that there were 2951 horses in the county (of that total 300 were in Dale Township.) There were 133 mules; 3336 sheep (Garfield Township had 912); and there were 421 swine.
By July the town of Larchwood was platted and many buildings were in the process of being built. Larson & Brandt were building a store of 22 x 40 feet; D. H. Shannon was building a hardware store the same size; Robert Johnson was building a livery stable. It was announced in the Reporter of July 10 that arrangements had been made for a bank at Larchwood, but no details were given.
Need of a new hotel for Rock Rapids was evident in 1886 and so O. P. Miller started to circulate a 'paper' to raise $10,000 for that purpose. He was encouraged by the support he received.
August 20 brought a shock to the people of the community. A case of diphtheria was discovered in east Rock Rapids. It was at the George Knight home. Sanitary conditions there were said to be excellent-but the disease had hit. The doctors of the community were agreed on the diagnosis-but there was disagreement. A camp meeting was held here by the Methodists and the preacher insisted that the sickness was not diphtheria, and that, contrary to the opinions of the doctors, the camp meeting should not be closed.
New railroads were constantly being promoted and in early September an election was called for in Inwood and Centennial Township, in which a new company, the Cedar Falls, Iowa Falls & Northern, wanted a 5 percent tax on properties involved to build a line that would go through Inwood and Larchwood.
September 9 was a big day in Rock Rapids. That day the first train on the new Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern reached Rock Rapids. Everyone turned out for the event and there was general elation at the accomplishment. Less than a week later, although the road was not officially in operation. C. G. Anderson got a carload of merchandise out of Chicago. There was enthusiasm at the speed in which the shipment got here-only two and a half days out of Chicago. It was the first 'large bill' shipment over the line to Rock Rapids, and it cost almost $100.
Local landmen and bankers immediately took advantage of the promotional opportunities of the new railroad. They announced that anyone who came to Rock Rapids on the B. C. R. & N, and bought a quarter section of land or more, would have their railroad fare refunded.
September 24 the Reporter told of a stabbing affray that took place in Cleveland Township. George Rosenburg owned a farm and the tenant on the place was Hans Zornig. Rosenburg got too much to drink, and renewed an argument with Zornig about differences they had been having about rent. Zornig was peeling potatoes at the time. A fight started and Zornig proceeded to cut Rosenburg up pretty bad-a half dozen doctors worked on him to close the wounds. Zornig was arrested, but later Rosenburg refused to prosecute, saying the fault was his.
The latter part of September the railroad reached Larchwood and its arrival was the signal for a big celebration. The brewery at Sioux Falls sent down a wagonload of beer, and it disappeared in a hurry. Editor of the Reporter said, "This was a notable occasion for Larchwood and for some minds a drunk is the highest means of celebrating great events."
Iowa was still soundly Republican, and in the November elections the GOP took all the state and county offices. A total of 956 votes were cast for secretary of state in Lyon County.
As the year came to a close local people had reason for considerable satisfaction. They had a new railroad with a direct service to Chicago. They had improved service promised on the Omaha. New sidewalks were found in various sections of the town.
In spite of the fact that a lot of people had moved to Rock Rapids and other towns in the county-there was still a lot of land in the county held by speculators-the Sykes, Richards, Close Brothers, etc. Much of this was virgin prairie. Land prices had not advanced as rapidly as in years past. Sales were recorded at from $1500 to $3000 for a quarter section-probably the spread being not only location and quality of land, but also representing the improvements that had been put on the property.
One interesting transaction of the fall was the sale of two quarter sections in Liberal Township-the southeast and the northeast quarters of 3-99-44. The sale was made by Sir Francis Hastings and Charles Doyle, baronet, to the Iowa Land Company, and the consideration was 380 pounds (An English pound at that time was probably worth about $5.)
Prices being received by farmers in late 1886 were reported regularly-based on the following Chicago and Kansas City quotations: Export steers, $3 to $4.60; Packing and shipping hogs, $3.90 to $4.40; Sheep, medium to extra, $2.20 to $3.00; Butter, 21 to 26c; Eggs, 18 to 24c; No. 2 corn, 363/4c; No. 2 wheat, 77 to 78c; potatoes, 921/2 c. cwt.
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Webization by Kermit Kittleson - Aug. 2006