Lenox, Taylor County, Iowa History
transcribed by: Lorelei Rusco - lorerus@iowatelecom.net
 

The Story of 85 Years of Progress

This is another Promotion Week sponsored by the Lenox Commercial Club. The merchants are saying to you, "Lenox

is a good town. We wish to remind our citizens that our children have many advantages of good churches, educational and recreational facilities. The history of Lenox shows that the town has always been progressive, always furnishing

more and better advantages for the town and surrounding territory. We review this history this week to inspire pride in the community and invite you to help us keep it a good place to bring up a family.  "Your trade makes civic progress

possible. Make BUY AT HOME your rule."

LENOX HISTORY

There is no record of any settlement at Lenox before 1870. In November, 1871, the Creston branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad was completed through Taylor County to the Missouri line. The town of Lenox was then

surveyed and platted, but it was not until February, 1872, that actual settlement began.

 

N J Allen, A S Beymer and G L Brooks were the first residents and others soon followed. It seems that at first the town

was platted on the east side of the railroad. For some reason the site was resurveyed and replatted and this necessitated

the removal of some buildings to the west side. This retarded the town the first year, but after that the growth has been

remarkable. Frank Wilt, an early day settler is quoted as saying that the town was first called Summit.

 

In September, 1874, the first school house was built. Then the township contained but fifteen scholars; by 1876 it had 150. In 1880 the number had grown to 213. The term averaged nine months in length. There were three teachers in

the three room frame structure. Teachers salaries ranged from $30.00 per month for women to $44.00 per month for men. The first school board under the new organization was Hon. N S Hornaday, L B Wilson, H S Woods, J T Wherry, W A Scott and John Baxter. The school population increased so rapidly that in 1881 bonds were voted for the erection of a new brick building which was ready for use in September 1882. The present building was erected in 1912 with a $60,000.00 addition in 1954.

 

Lenox is the second town in the point of population in Taylor County. This has given considerable political prestige and

the community has been represented by several men in county and state politics. Hon. John Madden was elected to the Legislature in 1875 and the Hon N S Hornaday in 1879. In 1876 G L Brooks was the eighth district representative to the Republican convention at Cincinnati that nominated Hayes.  Hon. George Van Houten later received the republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor with Wheeler and although defeated, ran considerably ahead of the ticket. Mr Van Houten was elected to the legislature in 1895 and later held important offices. T H Hull, a former county clerk, was elected

from Lenox in 1882. A C Brice was elected County Treasurer in 1889; J H Humphrey, Sheriff in 1903; E E Kuhn was elected County Superintendent in 1906; and T W Bennett was elected State Senator of Adams-Taylor District. A M Blackstone surveyor in the early seventies was also a Lenox man.

 

The Lenox Time Table is almost as old as the city of its birth. H Lupton was one of the founders of the paper. Mr

George Van Houten bought part of the business in 1880. Later publishers were Barnes and McGregor, Grosson and Smith,

Cockran, Clark, Jacob Rogers, Verlin Sweeley, H C. Kirkpatriek and many others.  A Mr C»le many years ago started a second paper called the New Era. The paper was discontinued after a time. Another paper, the Lenox Gleaner, existed

for a short time. Frank Mc Coy ran a paper called The New-Times at the time Clark published the Time Table.

 

A copy of the: Time Table of July 4, 1876, contains the advertisements of fifteen business houses, as follows: F. S Winkleyv,

painter; J H Humphrey, livery stable; H B Hansen, boots and shoes; Morrell and Anderson, grocery and restaurant; M M.

Bechtell, Lenox Mills; Osborn & Brooks, hardware; Tyler and Howell, real estate; Harlan and Saunders, hardware; A C Woodard, meat market; G E Norwood, implements; J W Maher, real estate; A C Brice and Company, undertakers; Humphrey & Company, druggists; Allen, Spear & Layne, dry goods and implements and Ed and John Madden, general merchandise.

 

The 1910 businesses were as follows: Ed Madden, exclusive dry goods; R L Ball, groceries and queensware; George Waiter, meat market; N C Davidson., meat market; G L Goodale, jeweler and optician; William Madden, general merchandise; Copeland Brothers, merchandise; H A Childs, drugs; Lyddon and Carlton, groceries, queensware;

O D Tyler, drugs; Jesse Draper, .groceries and queensware; A McKenzie, furniture and hardware; Paymal and Sealey, general merchandise; F Riemer, meat market;

 

E Wright, jeweler and optician; N A Anderson, boots and shoes; Lee Crosby, restaurant and bakery; Mr Ricker, harness; Cheese and Hall, general merchandise; Mrs J J Carey, millinery; Minnie Wintermute, millinery; Saunders and Birdness, restaurant; Barney Alderson, clothing; Cless Brothers, hardware; Killon and Son, clothing;

 

Martin and Martin, hardware, furniture and undertaking; Charles Arnold, restaurant; Weuigarth & Clayton, restaurant John R Giles, feed store; B F Ginn, harness; S E Waiuwright, garage; William Reedhead, veterinary surgeon; C K Copeland, produce; F Walker, livery; Harry Abernathy, tailor; F M McEniry, coal dealer; A E Pantry, blacksmith; Clark Armstrong, livery; Thompson and Son, roller mills;

 

R M Mclntyre, blacksmith; Schmidt Brothers, carpenters; Al Smith, blacksmith; Eclipse Lumber Co.; S E Wainwright,

lumber and grains; William Hewitt, grain; John Madden, William Mullen, M Saunders, N C Davidson, stock buyers; T W

Bennett, J P Scroggs, M F Brown S M Hamilton, A P Cochran, physicians and surgeons.

 

H Ellis, Dr Browning, W J DeyErmand, dentists; Ernest Richards, George Lyddon, John Connor, Phil Ridgeway and Gene

Pullman, real estate; M F McEniry, S B Overmire, T F Armstrong, Ben Evans, insurance.

 

One of the first industries in Lenox was a flour mill, which was built by M M Bechtell in 1875, and later owned by Allen

and Company. The owners were experienced men who employed first class workmen. Several neighboring towns were supplied by the mills, with demand for their product exceeding their capacity.

 

Lenox Lodge No. 407 I.O.O.F. was instituted April 27, 1880.  The charter members were Geo Van Houten, C N Thompson, H Warriner, James W Jones, H P Randall, B F Hoke, and G A Deaver. George Van Houten was the first N G. The Masonic lodge is particularly strong and popular. Fremont Lodge No. 343, A F & A M was organized "under dispensation," by Thomas George of Corning Sept 24, 1874. The original or charter members were A S Beymer, George Van Houten,

G W Horn, Joseph Brown, A M Allen, G L Allen, H Cade, J C Lucas, James W Jones, N S Hornaday and A L Duncan. The

growth of this lodge has been remarkable. In 1874 its membership was eleven; in 1881 it had fifty-two names on its rolls,

 

The Presbyterian church of Lenox was organized in 1876 and united with the United Presbyterian church about 1940. The first members were James R Hewitt, Rebecca Hewitt, W Hattie Osborn, John Pugh, James Montgomery, N J Hornaday,

James B Dunbar, John Kepner, Francis Kepner and S B Overmyer.  Immediately upon the organization of the church, a

building for worship was put in process of erection, which was completed in 1876. It was dedicated in the fall of 1877 by Rev Bardwell, assisted by Rev Roberts of St Joseph, Mo. Its early pastors were the Rev W H Isley, Rev N V Morrow and Rev A B DeLong. The United Presbyterian church was organized Sept 19, 1874. The original members were Mr and Mrs W J Richards, Mrs Belle Roberts, Ellen Bernard, Mr and Mrs J C French, Mr and Mrs M A Lunn, Mrs Appleby, Louis Appleby, J R Dunlap and Mr and Mrs William Lafferty. Rev J B McMichael, president of Monmouth, Ill., college, dedicated the first building August 10, 1879.

 

The Rev W McKendrie Campbell delivered the first Methodist sermon at Lenox in 1873 at the depot of the C. B. & Q railroad. In 1881 a church edifice was erected and was dedicated by Rev J D DeTar. Early pastors of the Methodist church in Lenox were Rev H Avery, Rev U P Golliday, Rev C Leach, Rev A Brown and the Rev J D DeTar.

 

The Church of Christ of Lenox was organized in 1890 and built in 1891. Some of the original members were Mrs J M

Dunbar, Mrs Mary Baker, Mrs Godwin, Iowa Mullen and J N Lemon. Mrs Olive Dunbar, Milwaukee, Wisc., mother of E. C.

Dunbar of Lenox, is the only living charter member. Some of the early ministers were O. Ebert, J H Painter, Judson

Brown, and E. A. Hastings, who was the first one for full time, beginning in 1894.

 

The strongest Catholic organization in the County is located in Lenox. They built their first church in 1815. The early members and organizers were Eugene Paymal, T F Maloney, T F Meagher, John Nagel, Pat Ryan and Richard Finn. The first church was too small to accommodate the growing membership so in 1881 a large and substantial building, was erected. This building has since been remodeled to some extent and the interior handsomely decorated.  In 1889, a parsonage was built adjoining the church. Father Phelan was the first resident pastor and was a man of superior ability.

 

The First National Bank opened in 1900. L B Wilson was president; J H Bennison, vice president; W S Bennison, cashier;

and S Wamwright, T W Bennett, John Nattress and J P Scroggs, directors.

 

During the depression both the CCC and the WPA worked in and around Lenox. The CCC boys came to Lenox and set up

their camp March 29, 1934. They worked on many projects while here, two of such were the deep sewer and the local gymnasium.

 

The first Hotel, known as the Lenox House was built in May, 1874 The present brick building was built about 1914 by O D Tyler and Associates.

 

During the night of November 14, 1934, a fire started in a small restaurant on main street. This fire almost completely consumed the business houses of Lenox. The Creston fire department was called to assist in fighting the fire but to no avail. All of the early buildings were of wooden construction. From then on all new construction on main street was confined to fire proof structures under a fire zone ordinance.

 

Planning was started on a city water plant in 1913. After much argument, the location of the dam was finally selected North of Lenox, now known as the West Lake. This project was completed in 1914 and residents of the town received pure fresh water through the mains that fall. In 1922 the West lake proved to be an inadequate source of water necessitating the purchase of additional land and a new and much larger dam was built, which served nicely until 1934. Since that time because of recurrent drouth conditions and an increase in consumption of city water, it has been more or

less of a struggle to keep the town adequately supplied.

 

The first Municipal Light Plant was built around 1907. This plant was later discontinued. In 1932 it was decided to

construct the present municipal light and power plant, financed under the new Simmer law which made it possible for the plant to be paid for out of earnings. It has been necessary to enlarge the facilities of this plant three times since its origin

 

The first Telephone Company was formed in Lenox in 1900 by O D Tyler and Associates, and was known as the Lenox and

Clearfield Telephone Company. This corporation continued in business until 1928 when it was sold to the Iowa Nebraksa Light and Power Company. In 1930, they sold the business to the present owners, the Western Light and Telephone Company.

 

In 1924 it was voted to pave the streets with concrete. The great portion of this work was done in 1924 at an approximate

cost of $100.000.00.

 

Lenox is very proud of its fine and adequate fire department. The town boasts two regular fire trucks, and one 1000 gallon street flusher. There are 16 volunteer firemen.

 

The Library was opened in Lenox April 1, 1941, Representatives from practically every club and organization in town helped to organize it. Donations were given by the various clubs and organizations and a good many individuals. The Board consists of five trustees appointed by the Mayor of the City of Lenox.  There are approximately 3500 books. The circulation per year is about 10,000 books.

 

June 1, 1947, David Bennett and son Roy incorporated their manufacturing business. They have developed their own models of several pieces of farm equipment, including the- disc transport. The company is equipped to do fine work and

has had some government contracts. At different times it has employed a number of workmen.

 

Lenox is fortunate in being one of the smaller towns chosen for city mail delivery. Waiving the usual requirement of 5,000

population, the government granted the service as an experiment in 1912. Jay E Hughes, who was then working as a postal clerk, was the temporary carrier until the appointment of Dick Dunbar. George Reynolds is the present carrier. Counting both business and residential boxes, there are now approximately 370 patrons.

 

Lenox has a thriving livestock auction at the sale barn each week. The business is owned and operated by Kenneth

Riley and family.

 

In 1955 an industry known as the Lenox Fertilizer Corporation was formed for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing Commercial fertilizer throughout Southwestern Iowa and Eastern Nebraska. This plant has an output capacity of 25,000 tons per year. This corporation represents an investment of approximately $150,000.00 and is owned by local people.

 

-Gathered from various sources including material collected by Paul Tyler.

Lenox Time Table, Lenox, Iowa Thursday May 10, 1956