LYON COUNTY GENEALOGY
Post War Years
Part 1 of 2
Rock Rapids had a boom immediately following World War I. Business was good, land sales were soaring and the community committed itself to major improvement programs-the greatest ever undertaken here.
Immediately after the first of the year C. W. Bradley, who was the community's leading booster, started to talk of a landing field for airplanes. He pointed out that many young men had learned to fly while in the service, and he said they would want to continue to use that skill. He also pointed out that air mail was becoming a common service and that our community should be ready for development.
The Interstate Automobile Insurance Company's business was growing by leaps and bounds. On January 9 it was announced that the company had been granted a license to do business in Nebraska. Insurance volume was increasing every month.
In April E. A. Tonne, operating head of the Interstate, went to Texas and after conferences with state authorities at Austin, a license was granted to the company to do business in that state. He then went on to Houston, where he contracted for one of the largest agencies in the south to act as state agents for Interstate.
In October another major step in the growth of the Interstate was taken, when it decided to go into the casualty business. Because of legal restrictions against a company in the fire and theft insurance business also writing casualty coverage, it was necessary that a new company be set up. This was approved by the state and Interstate Casualty Company came into being. The new company had the same officers and offices at the Interstate Automobile Insurance company. It was incorporated with $200,000 capital stock and $100,000 surplus. The future of the Interstate Twins was considered to be very bright.
During the summer H. F. Storjohan, county treasurer, resigned that post and joined the Interstate as a director and officer. He was *succeeded* at county treasurer by Charles F. Smock.
Bank reports for the last of the year of 1918 showed the First National with close to $900,000 in assets, the Lyon County National bank footings were a little over $771,000 while the Iowa Savings bank was a couple of hundred thousand behind those figures.
A change in the banking setup in the county occurred in February, when a group of Lyon county people bought control of Citizens Savings bank at Lester. E. C. Roach and S. S. Davenport, who held the control sold the bank to a group headed by F. L. Sutter. Sutter was chosen president, William Lauck was named vice-president and B. C. Hewlett was named as cashier and executive officer of the bank. The inflation going on was evident in the bank statements of condition as of May 12. The First National had passed a million dollars in footings for the first time in the history of the county, the Lyon County National had $903,655.35 in footings and the Iowa Savings bank had $742,592.78.
People connected with the Iowa Savings bank were very close-in many cases the same men-as top management of the Interstate Insurance companies. The company was developing a large cash flow, and this was reflected in bank statements of November 17, when the Iowa Savings bank had footings of $1,008,540; the Lyon County National bank showed totals of $900,571 and the first National was third place with footings of $852,732.
Several meetings of community leaders were held in the early part of 1919, to talk about a community hospital. They decided that such a hospital should be a county institution, and should be erected as a memorial to the men who gave their lives in the service of the country during World War I.
The proposal drew little support from the county at large, and although a number of meetings were held and much pressure was put on the supervisors, nothing came of the hospital idea.
E. C. Hunt had completed construction of the new Lyon theatre and that show house was opened for business on January 23. W. C. Brown came from Omaha to operate the theatre. It would seat 600 people-and was sold out for the opening. An orchestra was brought from Sioux Falls to play for the grand opening and the film was a major feature attraction "Common Cause". It was noted that the dance hall on the third floor of the theatre building was the finest in the area and regular dances were planned.
Residents of the community wanted to have additional paved streets, so petitions were circulated and a program of paving was laid out. The main street from the library to the bridge, around the courthouse, and from the Rock Island to the Illinois Central depots had been paved a few years previous. Now the paving was to be done on Greene, Carroll, Adams and Union streets-and on cross streets from Main street to Miller street (now South Eighth avenue). Originally plans were that the paving would be a bituminous surface over crushed rock. That it was said could be put down for about $1.75 per square yard.
Also in the plan was the extension of paving on Main street to the Catholic church, a block north from the First National bank to the park hill, then west to the Marietta hotel and then south on Boone street to Main.
It was decided to go ahead with the paving and Empire Construction company won the contract with a bid of $2.93 a yard, for combined concrete paving and curb and gutter. The cost of the program was now estimated at $300,000. This contract was let in July-but a couple of weeks later the paving company was back to talk with the council. They found that the cost of the program was too high for the assessed property-as some of the properties would be charged more than 25 percent of their value-which was against the law.
The council and the engineers trimmed the program down-they decided on narrower streets than first planned, and made other minor changes.
By September some hard opposition to the program developed and objectors filed for an injunction to stop the work. The objectors were represented by Simon Fisher, E. C. Roach and L. A. Riter. In spite of the objection the council went ahead.
Incidental to the paving program was a major amount of sewer work and also connections had to be made for each lot on streets involved for water and sewer connections. These costs pretty well strapped the city for operating funds. It was in connection with sewer work that a fatal accident occurred early in November. Ezra Monlux was operating a big steam-powered ditching machine. His assistant was out in front of the rig working, when Monlux's clothing caught on a revolving shaft. He was whirled about, and literally beaten to death. His assistant could not get to the clutch to stop the machine because Monlux was being whirled in front of that control. He ran around and shut down the steam, Monlux was rushed to Dr. Boetel's office, where he was pronounced dead. Monlux was rated as one of the top steam engine men in the country and had much experience with all types of heavy equipment.
There was considerable trouble when the pavers got to work-and it was soon apparent that the company could not complete its contract on time. They asked for an extension, and it was a hotly argued issue with the council, but finally the council did grant an extension.
Mid-year proposals were advanced by the Good Roads people of Iowa and the highway commission, that Lyon county issue $1,250,000 worth of road bonds and the state would pave the primary roads of the county. The state was to pick up the face of the bonds and the county would only have to pay the interest.
The proposal was advanced by a petition and on July 19, voters of the county went to the polls in a special election. They voted quite heavily for the paving of the primary roads of the county-and also favorable towards the bond issue. The vote on the bonds was 852 "yes" and 743 "no", which meant the issue carried.
Members of the Holland church in Rock Rapids, which had been meeting in members' homes, bought property in the Reyelts addition and started excavation for a new church. About the first of May they dropped that program and bought the Roy Jefferies home for a parsonage and lots a block north of the standpipe on Union street for a new church. They planned to start work on the church at once.
On July 19, local newspapers reported that M. R. Fayram, an inspector for the state department of education, visited Rock Rapids and after inspecting the high school, told members of the board they would have to start on a new high school or the school would lose its accreditation. There had been talk of doing something about the school for several years. Most people seemed to think they should buy the Frank Creglow residence on Carroll street, across the street from the school property. They could also buy the west half of the block in which the Creglow residence was located. Then by closing the street between the two pieces of property, there would be enough room to build a new school and have plenty of space for playground, etc.
The matter of issuance of $150,000 worth of bonds for a new high school was voted on mid-August and voters approved these bonds by a vote of five to one. The board then seriously started consideration of location for a new school.
The first of October announcement was made that the board of directors of the Rock Rapids Independent school district had bought the 23-acre tract south of town owned by Frank Moss of Rock Valley. The tract of land was secured for $13,000-and the board was trying to buy a one-acre tract which was in the area, and was owned by Harry Randolph. The board, in announcing its decision, said the tract was large enough to take care of future needs-and was less costly than the Creglow property and other lots in that area would have been-that site would have cost the district $21,000 they reported.
There was considerable discussion of the "poor" location-being so far from the center of the city.
Although the war had ended in November and many of the men who had been called to the colors were returning home-there were still casualty reports from Frnace. Sickness was claiming lives-and some of the wounded were dying.
The first of the year Mrs. Mike Gossen received word that her nephew, Matthew Weir had been wounded. Weir had been from Boyden, but had worked here with Mike Gossen and his well-drilling outfit. No information was received as to how Weir was wounded or what his condition. was.
February 19 a group of 35 veterans were entertained by the Rock Rapids Chamber of Commerce. At the meeting preliminary steps were taken towards the formation of a veteran's organization. A committee composed of Lt. Jesse Killihan, Lt. Harvey Hindt, Sgt. N. C. Rogers and Nathan Kellenberger was named to study the matter, and to look in the matter of joining up with the national group which was being talked among veterans.
There was no definite action on the veteran's organization until July, when a group of Rock Rapids veterans signed an application for a charter in the new national group, the American Legion. Those on the application for the charter were: Lloyd Stewart, Frank E. Rogers, Fred K. Smith, Edgar Partch, Casper Hornseth, Albert Philipp, Walter B. Dale, Jesse Killihan, Gilbert Hanson, Rufus Rohde, Albert Klahn, Cecil Newman, Morris A. McLaughlin, Marvin Horr and William J. Conway.
In October the Commercial club started planning for a big anniversary celebration for Armistice day. The American Legion, recently organized, suggested to the Commercial club that they would like to take a look at the committees named-as they did not want anyone who had not been completely patriotic during the war, to have a hand in organizing the celebration to honor them. The committees were named, approved and plans went forward.
November 11 arrived-and with it bad weather. Although some 2,000 people were on hand to help in the celebration-the trains bearing the speaker and also the Worthington band, which was to play for the occasion, were both late and the program was delayed. Feature of the day was the public wedding of Little Rock couple-John Martin Slight and Grace Verona. The Rev. H. C. Hurd of the Christian church performed the ceremony at the opera house before a capacity audience. The bride and groom were presented with $100 by the celebration committee.
The first annual meeting of the Lyon County Farm Bureau was held the latter part of January 1919. More than 300 members were present. The program had been started to encourage increased food production to support the war effort and to work with the new county agent. After reports had been given there was an election of officers and S. D. Davenport of Lester was named president; H. L. Randolph, Rock Rapids, vice-president; W. D. Carpenter, Rock Rapids, secretary and Charles Shade, Rock Rapids, treasurer.
February 6 word was received that Charles Rocker had escaped from the penitentiary at Fort Madison. Rocker had been convicted after several trials and appeals, of the murder of August Schroeder, prominent Lyon county farmer, on June 30, 1900. Efforts had been underway to get him pardoned.
Land prices were rising almost every day. The first week in February the George Jeffers farm a mile south of Rock Rapids had been sold to Walter Van Dyke for $90,000. It was resold a week later to A. A. Roos of Hull for $99,000-or$412.50 an acre. As a part of the deal, Van Dyke took in a smaller farm owned by Roos at the edge of Hull. The price paid was a new record.
In June H. L. Randolph sold his farm across from the standpipe to Claude DeVaul of near Inwood. Randolph had bought the place three years prior at $312 and acre and most everyone thought he had been overly "optimistic". The land was sold to DeVaul at $600 and acre.
The Reporter talked of land again in August when it was reported that W. W. Sloss of LeMesa, Calif., was here looking after land owned by his wife. She was a daughter of A. McCutcheon, who with three companions from Illinois came to Sioux City in 1870 looking for land. They were told there was no free land, but that land could be bought in Lyon county, for script, at $1.25 an acre. The group came to this county and McCutcheon bought sections 29 in both Farfield and Midland townships. On his death one of the sections was left to the daughter and the other to the children of his son, who was deceased. At prices being paid for land in this county the property in question was probably worth well over $400 an acre.
Wynet S. Wilson, long time superintendent of schools in Rock Rapids, died March 7. He was 66 years of age and had been superintendent of schools here for 24 years. Death was the result of a kidney infection, thought to be the result of surgery which had been performed a couple of months earlier. He was sick only a couple of weeks prior to his death.
Born in Meadville, Pa. in 1852, Wilson was not only a highly popular school man, but had been a candidate for state superintendent of schools, and active in other political affairs of the democratic party. He was survived by his widow, two sons-Malcolm, assistant state geologist for Missouri and Joseph, a student at Missouri School of Mines; and a daughter, Lola, Mrs. George Martin of Marshalltown.
Members of the school board immediately started looking for a successor-and found one. He was Lt. Lester C. Ary, just discharged from the army. Ary came here and met with the board and was immediately hired. He was a graduate of Iowa State Teachers college and had taken advanced work at Columbia university. He had been superintendent of Sioux Center for two years-1915 and 1916, and in 1917 enlisted in the army. He was born in Neward, near Dubuque and was 27 years of age when he came to Rock Rapids.
The June graduation of the senior class of Rock Rapids High school found 23 members in the class. These seniors were Hulda Colberg, Hazel Beaman, Gaylord Dickinson, Sarah Egerton, Gregory Foley, Hallie Grogan, George Guyan, Charles Halloran, Ida Hamlin, Leona Hampe, Merrill Heimindinger, James Hoben, Dorothy Jammer, Alma Johnson, Mabel Johnson, Lucille Kelsey, Morris Kennedy, Anna Leichliter, Sophie Lorenzen, Eva Miller, Edna Rohlff, Lydia Schuman and John Uhley. The valedictorian of the class was Lucille Kelsey and Leona Hampe was salutatorian.
Rock Rapids had resumed normal public gatherings following the serious flu epidemic in late 1918, but the disease was still attacking many people-and it was serious. The week of March 20 the Reporter listed the deaths of three more people who died as a result of the flu. They were Mrs. Fred Smock and William Olson, both of Rock Rapids, and John DeHaan, who farmed north of town. All were sick only a few days and developed pneumonia, which caused death.
The first of April it was announced that the date for the start of the Victory Loan campaign was to be April 25. Another huge loan was to be sold to the American people to complete the war "and win the peace". Lyon county's share was to be $941,250.
To prepare for the campaign E. O. Carpenter was named as county chairman. Groups of bankers were taken to Chicago for briefing at the Federal Reserve about the necessity of holding a successful campaign, and three county newspaper men were also called into Chicago, to get material and information about the drive. Making the trip in this group were W. G. Smith of the Reporter, John Carey of the Review and H. C. King of the News at George.
May 1 leaders here were disappointed. The end of the war had taken the pressure off those who could buy bonds, and sales were dragging badly. It was reported as of the first of that month that there were still $250,000 worth of the bonds which had to be sold before the county could meet its quota. May 19 was the end of the drive and a great push was put on to meet the county quota-it was finally met, but the three local banks had to take up the last batch of bonds so Lyon county could be listed as having met its quota.
Rock Rapids' municipal utilities had come through the war period in fine shape. Service had not been interrupted, rates were very much in line with those in neighboring communities, and the plant was making money. J. F. Ford, a Fort Dodge expert on municipal utilities, was brought here to inspect the plant and system and give the council his appraisal of the system. He found the operation was worth at least $150,000-and that there was a debt of only $52,730. He said the city's net worth, as far as the utilities were concerned, was about $100,000.
The report pleased local people-and it encouraged employees of the electric system to demand more pay for their work. They notified the city council they wanted a 25 percent increase in their pay at once. Superintendent Gingrich acted as go-between in talk between the council and the employees and eventually the men got most of their demands. At that time Gingrich decided he needed a substantial raise, too, which the council agreed to pay.
A major coal strike in the eastern fields, started to have an effect locally in mid-November. The utilities were in serious trouble with only three or four days supply of coal on hand. Several cars of coal were supposed to be enroute from the docks at Duluth-but every community was in trouble and cars did not always get to their destination. L. G. Peters, local fuel dealer, had a car of coal arrive-and the city decided to confiscate it-but before they could get the job done, private customers of Peters had taken it all. All local coal customers were being rationed to a few hundred pounds of coal. The situation was critical when the last week of November two cars of coal arrived-and three others were located and their delivery expedited by the railroads.
By December 18 several cars of coal had arrived and everyone was in a reasonably good position as far as coal was concerned. Schools were closed early for the Christmas holiday and it was announced that hopefully there would be plenty of coal by the time classes resumed January 5.
C. W. Bradley, who the first of the year, had been insisting that aviation was a coming thing, probably shuddered at events later in the spring. The Donaldson Flying Circus, from Milford, had been headquartering here, flying their old "Jenny" planes out of the infield at the fairgrounds. One of the pilots named Barker started to take off going east, with a passenger in the plane. They did not get up enough speed to clear the trees along the river and shattered the propeller. The plane continued on a distance and plunged into a freshly plowed field. The plane was pretty well smashed up-but neither the pilot or passenger was seriously injured.
Three weeks later a pilot by the name of Cook was flying over Rick Rapids in one of the planes. He was said to be flying far too low and in a reckless manner. He was going to land in the infield, but found there were some horses there, so he flew down and buzzed them to drive the animals to one side. He got too low, and discovered he was about to take a flag pole off one of the fair ground buildings. So he raised up one wing, missed the pole, but lost his flying speed. He came down on the west part of the race track, and took out a lot of fence. His plane was also broken up pretty badly and another new propeller had to be sent for.
Rock Rapids had for some months been headquarters for a group of revenue agents, who were trying to stop the importation of booze from the oasis in Trosky, Minn., to Sioux City. They were catching quite a few rum-runners-but enough were getting through to make the risk acceptable. The revenue men were equipped with Hudson Super Six cars, but most of the "rum-runners" were driving geared up model T Fords. On the country roads the Fords were able to hold their own. Quite a cache of liquor was being stacked up at Sheriff Wheatley's jail and periodically the agent would break the bottles and burn the whiskey-less a few bottles for friends.
The end of June saw the end of legal sales of liquor at Trosky and additional federal officers, state men, and local police joined in the effort to dry up the flow of Liquor to Sioux City. About a dozen rum-runners were caught-but many got through the blockade. During the last hectic days at Trosky, booze which had been selling at $50 a case went to $80 a case-until a couple of carloads were shipped in by express and the price dropped back to $50. Daily sales at Trosky were reported as being from $60,000 to $75,000. Then the end came when the Minnesota town was legally dried up.
On July 24, Ross & Gibson, who had recently bought the W. S. Cooper grocery on the north side of the street, announced they were moving to the confectionery store building just west of Foley Clothing company, on the south side of the street. This was the building occupied for many years by Frank Halloran with a confectionery and which had only recently been taken over by some Assyrians from Sioux Falls. They decided to return to that place. The former Cooper store, one of the pioneer food stores in the community, was to be rebuilt for a men's clothing store, to be operated by Flindt & Miller, who currently had stores at Sheldon, Spencer and other points.
The village of Lakewood suffered a major blow late in August when flames starting in the home of manager William Berhoff of the Farmers Store, burned the house, the store, the Joyce Lumber yard and for a time threatened the elevator. Firemen from Rock Rapids went to Lakewood with such equipment as they could handle to help fight the blaze, but the blow to the community was very serious.
The Lakewood fire gave impetus to consideration of the purchase of a fire truck by the city of Rock Rapids. The Luverne Fire Apparatus company came down and met with the council and it was finally decided to buy such a truck. The unit was to cost $4100. The city paid down $780-all the loose money that could be found in the city treasury and agreed to pay the balance of the purchase price over a three-year period. Fire Chief George Raveling said the new truck would at least double the efficiency of the department. The new truck was delivered December 10 and to be sure it was kept warm and would be ready for use when needed, the truck was housed in the Halloran and Feay garage.
The Lyon County Fair which was held starting August 27 was very well attended. Paid attendance the opening day was 650 more than the year before and displays were said to be better than anything ever shown in the area. The races were exceptionally good. Attendance for the full fair was put at 22,270 paid admissions. The weather was fine every day. It was mid-October before final figures were brought together and then it was announced that the fair made a profit of some $4000, counting the $1400 which was expected from the state in prize money. The association planned to start construction of an addition to the sale barn immediately and it was planned that an addition would be put on the grandstand to accommodate more people.
During the fair, announcement was made that the world's championship rodeo for 1919 would be held in Rock Rapids. It had been scheduled to be held in Sioux Falls, but there was no suitable grounds there for the show. Promoters came to Rock Rapids and arrangements were made to hold the program here. The show was held the last of September with the top rodeo performers in competition. It was before the days of organized professional competition and the animals were rough and tough as were the cowboys and cowgirls who took part. Four thousand people attended the first day's showing and attendance was higher each day of the four-day show. Seating was built around the west side of the race track-and filled each day. Spectators got their money's worth. One of the top bulldoggers flipped his animal too fast, the horn caught and broke off and the stump of the horn gored the contestants's hand and arm very badly. Another thrilling moment came when one of the bucking horses in the women's competition ran through a retaining fence and through the judges stand, with the woman rider in the saddle. She escaped with minor injuries, but the judges stand was completely wrecked. More than $8,000 in prize money was distributed in the various events.
Management of the new Lyon theatre was changed early in October after only a few months operation. H. D. Updegraff and E. J. Anderson of Sioux Falls bought the theatre and also the Strand theatre. They decided to close the Strand and rent the building for some other purpose and concentrate on the Lyon Theatre as Rock Rapids' only show house.
Fourteen months after the end of the war transportation was again getting back to normal. More trains were running, and more cars were getting on the road. That brought mixed results. One of those results was a car-train accident just south of Rock Rapids early in January. A car driven by Earl Hochstedler and the evening Illinois Central west bound passenger train crashed. Riding with Hochstedler, Art Quiet, and Cecil Newman. The driver and Cecil Newman were seriously injured. They were brought to the depot here by the train crew where Drs. Boetel and Corcoran treated them, and eventually both recovered. The car was listed as a total loss.
The first of March the Omaha depot reopened. It had been closed and trains on the Bonnie Doon were switched to the Illinois Central depot during the war-to save costs and manpower.
Then late in April the Rock Island announced it was adding to its passenger service. A second passenger train was put on to run both east and west each day and the line said that a passenger coach would be put on one of its freight trains each way-so that there would be service three times daily, each way, for passengers riding that line from Sioux Falls to Chicago and back.
Following an accident at the Illinois Central crossing near the Lyon hotel, the council had put pressure on the Illinois Central to either put in gates, or some sort of warning on their crossing in Rock Rapids. The railroad was fighting the order and agreement was finally made that IC trains going through Rock Rapids would move at no more than four miles an hour. Tim Sullivan, the division superintendent from Fort Dodge came and met with the council and agreed to the new rule, and the council formalized the lower speed limit in an ordinance.
The speed change worked for a short time, but there was continuing friction between the city and the railroad.
Efforts were again talked of having a union station near the Marietta hotel, but the roads insisted it was not economically feasible, and the matter was finally dropped. It had been talked for years, without any success as far as local promoters were concerned.
Otto J. Reimers was elected president of the Lyon County Farm Bureau at its second annual meeting held late in January. Reimers was a farmer operating south of Rock Rapids. Until his election presidents of the Farm Bureau had been county bankers. H. L. Randolph was renamed as vice president; A. H. Beckhoff, the county agent, was named as secretary of the group and Charles Shade, Rock Rapids banker was continued as treasurer.
Efforts were again being made to form a cooperative company and a meeting was held here in February at which the matter was further considered. Horace Brandt presided at the meeting and T. F. Collins was the secretary. The group decided to organize a company which would sell lumber, coal and feed and buy grain. Shares were to be offered at $50 each.
The middle of April the group announced that plans had been worked out to lease ground from the Illinois Central railroad, south of the depot for the erection of a modern elevator. It was to be of 37,000 bushel capacity and was expected to cost $20,000.
Crops for 1920 were not doing well. There was a severe shortage of moisture during the growing season, and when it came time to harvest the oats, the crop averaged only about 30 bushels to the acre. Reports that some farmers had fields that went 60 bushels to the acre were discounted and the county agent said that it was a poor crop-well below average.
On August 18 a good rain came to the area and many expressed the hope that it would prove very beneficial to the corn crop, which had suffered severely during the dry weather.
On March 18 it was announced that A. H. Beckhoff, who had been county agent since the Farm Bureau was organized, was to leave that post and to go farming on his own. To fill the job Lester Shepard was chosen as county agent. He was raised in Appanoose county, graduated from the University of Iowa and from Iowa State College. He had been working as county agent in Monona county, before he came to Rock Rapids.
The land boom was continuing strong. Prices were jumping almost every week-unfortunately there were some signs that the peak was approaching. Loans on farms were climbing alarmingly with second and third mortgages on many tracts which were moving.
Fred Schemmel of Rock Rapids, made a cleanup in May when he sold a quarter section near Luverne, which he had bought a year previous for $205 an acre. He sold the farm for $350 and acre. Ed Moss sold the old John Sinclair quarter southwest of town to P. Visser for $460 an acre. He had bought the farm the last year for $400 an acre.
A sale announced the first of July was that of the Jack Welch farm northwest of Lester, which was sold to Vincent Dougherty for $400 an acre. This 320 acres was in section 22 of Larchwood township. Welch had owned the farm for many years, buying it originally for $20 an acre.
Things were slowing down in October when H. L. Randolph offered his 80 acres south of town, on the cemetery road at auction. He had divided it into small acreages, which he thought would be attractive to farmers who wanted to get off their farms, but have a small acreage to keep themselves busy. Randolph hired the Pat McGuire auction company of Holstein to conduct the sale. The high school band was hired to play for the occasion and there were drawings for dollar bills at frequent intervals. A man named "Meyers" from Adrian bought a couple of the small tracts on the north end of the addition at $775 and $700 an acre-and the sale died right there. Bidders just would not respond. McGuire finally cancelled the sale and Randolph paid Meyers a premium to drop his buys so the tract could be kept intact.
The land boom was practically over.
The city started on a paving program in 1919 to surface many blocks in the residential section of the community. It had required much preliminary work-on sewer, water lines, etc., and Empire Construction company of Des Moines, who were to have started paving in 1919, finally got a continuance from the council and the work was to start in 1920.
Because the work was costing more than the properties to be benefitted could be taxed-the scope of the work had been reduced. Original plans were for 40 and 36 foot paving, but this was cut back to 24 feet. In March the council decided that 24 feet paving would not be wide enough so they voted for 26, 28 and 30 foot widths on the various streets. The company agreed to do the work at the contract price-although price for paving had jumped substantially.
Paving work got under way and rapid progress was made. There were the usual problems arising, many disagreements, and the council which was split into a couple of factions, were fussing much of the time. In October a big argument arose about the putting in of approaches from the paving onto private property. Grades had been established for the various streets, sidewalks, etc. These did not generally agree with existing sidewalks-and the argument was whether the driveways off the paving should be put in to existing sidewalks levels or whether they should be put in to the new grade levels. The council decided to put them in to meet existing sidewalks-and a group of citizens immediately filed for an injunction to stop this program. Riniker and Thomas were employed to get the injunction but when a hearing was held before district judge Hutchinson, he refused the injunction and said that the council was empowered to decide such matters. It was considered a victory for the Roach-Purchas faction.
One of the area's most popular residents died March 7. He was James McGuire, who came to Lyon county in 1870 and with his brother Patrick, bought a half section of land for $1.25 an acre. Their farm southeast of Rock Rapids was among the finest in the county-and the McGuires were leaders in every move for the betterment of the area. The McGuire brothers were born in Canada, James in 1845. They walked to Lyon county from Sioux City after arranging to buy land here, and lived together for many years in a log cabin, while getting established.
City politics was attracting much attention in Rock Rapids. At the city caucus 275 voters participated in selecting a citizens' ticket. They chose S. D. Riniker as a candidate for mayor and E. C. Roach and Dr. George Boetel as candidates for councilmen-at-large. A hot race for the nomination for mayor had Riniker getting 153 votes to 123 for W. J. Purchas. In the ward caucuses A. V. Greene was nominated in the first ward; James Hoben in the second ward; and W. J. Purchas in the third ward. Jess McGuire was named as the nominee for assessor and P. G. Smith as the candidate for treasurer.
A first class scrap developed over the city election and there was a write-in campaign to defeat the citizens nominees. The scrap was between the "Purchas" faction and the "Bradley" faction. The argument at the moment was about the extension of steam heating system lines in Rock Rapids to serve additional people. The extensions would have served property owned by Bradley-and Purchas fought the plan.
When the election was held the citizens' nominees were successful. But when S. D. Riniker, vacationing in California, got the local papers and discovered he had been nominated and elected as mayor of Rock Rapids, he immediately notified Mayor E. O. Carpenter that he could not serve on account of his heavy practice and would not qualify. The council argued the matter for a time and then comprised on W. H. White, a lawyer who had been in Rock Rapids four years and was very popular. He had been city attorney for four years. White was elected by the council and accepted the job.
Rock Rapids' steam heating system had been very profitable-and it had also provided heat for most of the central business district. Those who did not have the cheap heat were unhappy-in that group was W. J. Purchas, head of the council's heat committee. He said that rates should be raised.
In August the matter came to a head and the council voted to increase the charge for the exhaust steam from the local plant to $1.10 per 1,000 feet of condensation. The rate had been 70 cents. This precipitated a first class argument.
In the meantime a group of people living along Greene street, from the library a couple of blocks south-and scattered houses adjacent to this street, asked the city to run a line for them. They pointed out that there was sufficient exhaust steam to serve the area. Among those wanting the service were C. W. Bradley, C. C. Brugmann, Dr. J. E. North, E. C. Fitzgerald, Otto Marth, Emil Tonne, Miss Helen Sievers, the Iowa Savings Bank, which owned the property in the area and others.
At their meeting in September the council approved the higher rates demanded by the Purchas group. Former Mayor E. O. Carpenter said that the new rates were not justified, that the city was making big money on the system, which originally had been paid for by the users, and which used only exhaust steam, which would otherwise be wasted. The users asked that an independent expert be brought in to determine what the rates should be.
The council finally told those petitioning for the extended serve, that if they wanted to build lines themselves steam could be provided-which they did.
The rate argument continued until December, when practically every user of steam heat signed a petition to the council for a review of the situation, and a court action was filed by the users against the higher rates.
A number of business changes took place in 1920-one of the major ones was the purchase of the Halloran & Feay garage by Claus Reyelts, who had inherited a substantial amount of money. He announced that he would take over the business as of March 22, and that he would sell Studebaker and Maxwell cars. Elmer Wohlers was to be head of his service department.
The automobile business was slowing down considerably and in September Earl Ladd, local Ford dealer, announced a series of price reductions authorized by the company. The Ford touring car which had been selling for $575 was dropped to $440, the Ford touring car with a starter, which had been selling for $650 was to be sold for $510. In addition to these prices the 5 percent war tax had to be added plus $51.50 transportation and assembly.
In March Macy Campbell of Iowa State Teachers college told a meeting of about 100 school district officials and directors that Lyon county was one of only eight counties in the state that did not have a consolidated school. He said that with a building program for a new high school here coming, everyone should give much thought to this situation. He pointed out that rural children were entitled to just as good an education as town children-and that unless there was a consolidated school they would not get it.
Late in May 23 members of the senior class of the Rock Rapids high school received their diplomas. In the class were: Douglas Bradley, Katherine Cox, Grace Cotter, Lillian Gilman, Verna Gingrich, Esther Griesse, Helen Handy, Gerald Hoben, Elmer Jacobson, Otto Jansen, Emma Johnson, Fred Kruger, Ralph Nichols, Clarence North, Dorothy Olsen, Elwin Ozias, Edward Pirwitz, Henry Sater, Louise Sater, Clifford Schmidt, Claude Sinclair and Harold Wick.
In spite of the five to one vote to go ahead with the construction of a new high school, in the election of 1919, members of the board of directors of the school decided that this was not the time to proceed. They did announce that kindergarten would be dispensed with and said that in view of crowding at the school it was unlikely that tuition students could be accepted.
The last of June another meeting of county school district officials was held to discuss the matter of schools and whether or not a consolidated school was desirable. They decided that there should be some uniform schedule for teachers salaries, but no formal action was taken.
Tighter times were also evident in the decision of the board of supervisors in their April meeting, not to go ahead with a program of paving the primary roads, in spite of the fact that a bond issue of $1,250,000 had been voted. They felt that prices were too high and that the bond issue would only be enough to pave a third of the 75 miles of the primary system in Lyon county. Board members said that pressure from the highway commission to proceed with the work at once, was much less than it had been.
The fact that the supervisors were against paving at this time, did not mean that road plans were not under consideration. There had been a long argument over whether the King of Trails, which crossed the county north to south, or the Imperial highway, which crossed the county east to west should be improved first.
In August the board decided to improve the King of Trails from a point south of Doon to a point north of Rock Rapids on the state line. The work would be bringing the highway up to grade with the matter of surfacing to be left until later for a decision as to whether to pave or gravel. At that meeting the board turned down bids for bridges in Midland and Dale township and a lot of culverts, because of the high prices which were bid.
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