LeMars Sentinel "Centennial Edition"
LeMars Daily Sentinel, LeMars Globe-Post & Floyd Valley News, LeMars, Iowa $1.00 Per Copy
NAEF, DABB CAMERAS HAVE FLASHED HERE SINCE 1880
From the beginning of time, important events have always been recorded
in some way or another.
In the 1880’s photography became an ever popular form of keeping eye
witness accounts of events alive.
At this time, photography was in its early stages and the equipment used
was far from modern according to our standards of today.
The Dabb studio was the first house of photography to come to LeMars.
In 1880, Mr. Dabb opened his doors at 22 ½ Central Ave, NW, to the
townspeople, offering to them the chance to preserve their memories in
beautiful, lifelike pictures.
The Dabb studio remained in the same location for years but changed
hands many, many times.
Always known as the Dabb studio, it was first sold to Mr. Gasper, who
sold to Mr. Dickensheets, who sold to Mr. Kirkam. He then sold to Mr.
Ward, who sold to Mr. Richards, who resold to Mr. Ward again and in 1952
was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Harold Naef.
For six years this husband and wife team successfully operated the newly
named Naef studio. In 1958 Harold Naef passed away leaving the
photography studio to be run by his wife.
Mrs. Naef has since been operating alone. The studio still remained on
Central Ave. until 1965 when the new Naef building at 125 First St. NW
was completed and Mrs. Naef moved her equipment to the large modern
The new studio is under operation with all of the latest in modern
photography equipment. This includes the sky light which is natural
daylight, the best possible lighting for photography.
A customer can be assured of being able to acquire any type of
photograph he desires. Not only is black and white available, but also
direct color and oil paint.
A wide variety of pictures is also offered by Naef’s personal portraits,
pet photographs (which not many studios will handle), commercial as well
as candid shots and the reproduction of photographs is also offered at
Although the studio is located in downtown LeMars, a wide surrounding
area is served by Naef’s.
People from all around the area enjoy the living memories created by the
1st NATIONAL BANK ESTABLISHED IN 1874, FOUNDED WITH $75,000
Oscar E. Fristad, Chairman of the Board
Written for the Centennial edition of the LeMars Sentinel, June 30, 1969
The First National Bank in LeMars draws its lineage from the original Plymouth County bank founded in LeMars in 1874.
In July of 1882 the Plymouth County bank was reorganized as the First National bank of LeMars with a capital of $75,000. It's first officers were P.F. Dalton, president; F.E. Shaw, vice president, and J.W. Meyers, cashier.
P. F. Dalton and his family were aristocrats of portly stature. Mr. Dalton was born in Ireland , immigrated to America , fought on the Union side of the Civil War. They came to this sprouting community from New England and established themselves as business and cultural leaders.
West LeMars , formerly a thriving commodity and livestock trading center known as Dalton Center , was named in his honor as was the old Dalton Opera House.
The late Charles Eyres and R.J. Koehler told me of some of his eccentricities. They remembered the scene of Mr. Dalton coming and going from the bank in a chauffeur-driven fringed surrey, dressed in pin striped suit and top hat of the haut customer typical of the New England society of the time.
P. F. Dalton's son, Ed Dalton, who succeeded to the presidency of the bank, was a graduate of Princeton University .
As executors of the estate of Ed Dalton, we discovered an engraved invitation from President Howard Taft inviting Ed Dalton and his wife as guests at a White House function.
The building which the First National bank in LeMars now occupies was erected in 1882 on the corner of what was then called Main and Sixth streets. It was originally built as a three story structure in elegant New England gothic style.
The first story of this building was always utilized as banking quarters; the second story housed business and professional offices; and the third story contained a ballroom.
Many tenants at one time leased office facilities on the second floor. The Honorable District Judge James P. Kelley and his associate, the late John Keenan, maintained law offices there for many years.
Nelson Miller, prominent LeMars attorney, now deceased, practiced law at the location. Harry Kramer had his insurance offices on this floor, and Dr. Wally Brucher practiced dentistry in offices here.
The lower floor of the bank building has always been occupied by tonsorial artisans. The late Fred and Charles Earnest operated a barber shop there for some 50 years, and since 1952 the shop has been owned and operated by S.B. (Curly) Bornhorst.
For many years the local council of the Knights of Columbus leased the third story as a meeting hall. Many dances and social functions were held in these expansive chambers, and it became known as the Columbia hall.
During the early years, a number of young men including the family of P.F. Daltons and his sons Ed Dalton and Ralph Dalton began their careers at the First National bank. Their tenures in most instances spanned a half century or more of service.
These included G.L. Wernli who served for many years as vice president of the bank. Mr. Wernli's father, Prof. Jacob Wernli, was an early day county school superintendent and later was instrumental in the organization of the LeMars Normal school , now Westmar College . Wernli Hall at the college is named in his honor.
John A. Hoffman, Sr., was associated with the bank for over 60 years, serving much of the time as vice president. These men are now deceased, but many of the longtime residents of the community remember them and their influence.
R. J. Koehler was elected president of the new First National Bank in LeMars, Aug. 24, 1934 , and continued in this capacity until his death in 1958.
Officers who served in recent years with long tenure of service to the bank were Clyde L. Eastman, Earl Moir and R.E. Tool.
Clyde L. Eastman served the bank for 54 years in various capacities including cashier, vice president, president and chairman of the board. He retired on the first of January 1964 and now resides in Sioux City . (1969)
Mr. Eastman continues to serve on the board of trustees of Westmar College and the board of directors of the LeMars Mutual Insurance Co.
Long-time customers of the bank will recall Earl Moir who is now business manager of the LeMars Clinic. Mr. Moir began working at the bank in 1925 and continued in its service for 26 years working in the capacity of assistant cashier and assistant trust officer.
R.E. Tool joined the bank in 1934 and continued with the bank as executive vice president and trust officer for 16 years.
Upon Mr. Tool's departure to head a bank in Manchester , Iowa , I began my association with the bank in June of 1951 as executive vice president and trust officer. The bank subsequently elected me to the position of president in January 1959 and chairman of the board in 1964.
In 1959 E. W. Maser began his tenure with the First National bank in LeMars and was named cashier. Later, he was elected executive vice president and cashier. In January 1964 he was elected president. He continues in this capacity. (1969)
Alta A. Werth has served the bank for a term of years in the various departments. She presently is assistant vice president and heads the trust department. Patricia M. Kanago also served the bank continuously for many years. She is now assistant cashier in charge of the bookkeeping department.
Cyril A. Ortmann joined the bank in August of 1963 as farm representative and later became vice president.
In January 1964, E.C. Lee associated himself as an officer of the bank in the capacity of vice president and cashier.
The latest to join the rank of bank officers was Norman G. Kehrberg who began his tenure here in February 1968 as installment loan officer.
A complete inside-to-outside renovation of the First National bank building was begun in the early 1960's. The upper two stories of the original dominant bank building were removed and the interior was redecorated along modernistic lines.
Open House commemorating the completion of the remodeling was held June 19 and 20, 1964.
The board of directors now serving for the First National Bank in LeMars are (in 1969): John H. Alesch, James R. Bowers, Bertsel Brown, Oscar E. Fristad, E.W. Maser, Mark Meis, Gordon Stokes and Fay Wells.
Through the good times and bad times as witnessed by history the First National Bank in LeMars has served its customers and community well and has emerged as a leader in the affairs of progress. This continues to be the dedication and aim of its directors and officers
PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOUND IN 1874
The LeMars Independent school district was founded in 1874, with the first commencement being held in the Van Sickle hall, located across the street from the present post office building. Members of the first graduating class were John H. March, Louis M. Koehler and Frankie C. Clarke.
In the year 1876, the first high school building was constructed, consisting of twelve rooms, each heated with its own stove. The citizens of this district, after 27 years, approved a bond issue to replace this building with a newer one because it was believed to be unsafe, unsanitary and inadequate to meet the needs of a rapidly changing educational system.
On Oct. 20, 1903 , the vote was passed to issue bonds for the construction of this new high school building which was completed in 1905 and which now forms the center section of the present junior high building at 321 First Ave., SW. An addition to this building was completed in 1923 which now forms the south wing.
The school district, from its beginning until the present date, experienced many changes brought about through two world wars, a great depression and a period of unrest and uncertainty since the end of WWII. The alumni of this school district served with honor during all of these periods which called for the supreme sacrifice of many.
In the year 1939, two new elementary building were constructed now known as the Franklin and Clark elementary schools. These buildings were needed to replace former elementary buildings and to take care of growing enrollment.
At that time, little was known of the explosions that would take place some 10 years later with what is referred to in history texts as the “baby boom” following the end of WWII. This increase in enrollment as the children became of school age meant still another addition to the Central building in 1952, and addition to Franklin in 1963, a new senior high school building in 1964 and presently under construction a new elementary building in Merrill, LeMars and a junior high building to house 700 students in LeMars.
The LeMars Independent school district served not only the resident students in the city of LeMars , but also the graduates of the rural elementary schools from the surrounding area. It was in 1959 that a reorganization of the school district took place to include the school district of Merrill , Brunsville, Craig, Struble, Seney and all of the rural independent districts in a 265 square mile area.
Part of the reorganization was a change in setting up director districts from which members would be elected to the school board, with one member elected from each of the five director districts. Members of the first school board serving the reorganized district were Mrs. Ethel Mauer, Dr. C. L. Hagen, Gordon Brodie, Norman Barker and Mrs. Sylvia Schneider. Other officers included William Sturges secretary and Norris Hawkins, treasurer.
Today, during the 100 th birthday of the city of LeMars and the 94 th birthday of the school district, a total of 162 graduated from the LeMars Community school district with a total enrollment of 2,784 students.
Many changes have taken place over the past 100 years in the history of education in preparing its youth for the world of tomorrow. Each generation wanted things better for its youngsters than they had had in the past. No longer is it possible to become knowledgeable in all areas with the doubling of knowledge every 10 years.
Students today must be taught in areas that will soon be obsolete and to learn about skills that do no even exist today but which they will have to live with in years to come. Education is a neer-ending process which has been evident the past few years with an increased adult program for residents of this district ranging from course offerings in hobbies to political science.
And so a the past blends into the future, let us go forward with the same enthusiasm, spirit, and desire to maintain the highest quality education for your youngsters and the “School of Champions” that it has been in the past. The employees of the LeMars Community school district dedicate our service, wisdom and foresight to making this school one of which its taxpayers may be justly proud.