The first school in Fort Dodge was taught by C. C. Carpenter, in the winter
of 1854-55. It was in an old building just back of the old Wahkonsa hotel.
The next winter Mr. D. A. Weller taught school in one of the government
buildings. In 1856 the lirst school building was erected on the corner of Sec-
ond avenue South and Seventh street, on what was then the corner of Locust
and Sixth streets. In the early days this building was known as "the old brick"
school. At that early day it was the only public building in town, and was used
for holding the courts, political meetings, churches, festivals, and other affairs
considered of a public nature. It was there that the two companies for the
Spirit Lake expedition were organized. The first school was taught in this build-
ing by Henry Gunn during the winter of 1856- 1857. When the news of the
Indian massacre reached Fort Dodge, school was dismissed, and the building
became a shelter for the early settlers north and west of Fort Dodge, all of
whom had fled here with their wives and little ones, for protection against
the cruel savages, until the danger had passed and the Indians had left for
their reservation farther west.
In 1869 Fort Dodge had one school building and nine teachers including the
principal. The number of pupils in attendance was about 350. In 1878 there
were thirteen teachers, with the principal. In 1884 there were seventeen teach-
ers, not including the superintendent. The buildings at that time were the Lin-
coln, Arey, West Fort Dodge (one room), and First ward (one room). During
the year 1890, twenty-one teachers were employed. In 1899, there were thirty-
eight teachers employed, not including the superintendent, and the buildings
then in use were the Pottery, First Ward, West Fort Dodge, Arey, Wahkonsa,
Lincoln, and the new high school building. The value of the school property
for that year was estimated $141,000.00.'
Up to the close of the school year 1897, the high school occupied the upper
floor, or the third and part of the second floor of what is now the Lincoln
building. In the fall of 1897 it moved into the new building. This was nearly
destroyed by fire in 1907, and rebuilt in its present form the same year.
The Wahkonsa school was also destroyed by fire in February, 1912. The
rapid growth of the city made more school buildings a necessity. The board,
therefore, at once began the rebuilding of the Wahkonsa and also a new school
176 HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
building, the Duncombe, in the northeast part of the city. These buildings will
be ready for use early in 1913. The new Wahkonsa is considerably larger than
the old, and besides additional land has been purchased. In connection with the
Duncombe is sufficient ground for an athletic park.
The school board for the year 1912-13 are C. F. Duncombe, president; E.
H. Williams, Maurice O'Conncr, J. R. Files, H. R. Beresford, S. T. Thompson,
and Mack Hurlbut. The secretary of the board is J. L. Porter.
In 1875 the high school graduated three pupils, one boy and two girls, its
first graduates. The total number of graduates down to and including the school
year, June, 1890, a period of sixteen years, was thirty-seven boys and fifty-
five girls, a total of ninety-two. From 1 891 to 1898, inclusive, there were forty-
three boys and eighty girls. This made the total number of graduates, up to the
close of the school year 1898, two hundred and fifteen.
The German Lutheran school was organized by Rev. Godfrey Endres in
1863. The school building, erected in 1895, cost $7,500.00.
There are two Catholic parochial schools in Fort Dodge, Corpus Christi and
Sacred Heart. Corpus Christi Academy was organized in 1862, while Rev. John
Marsh was pastor. Sisters of Charity of the B. V. M. came from Dubuque to
conduct the classes. In 1866, it was decided to discontinue the school and the
sisters returned to their mother house.
In 1874 the old school building was enlarged and under the direction of the
Very Rev. T. M. Lenihan a flourishing school was established. Sisters of
Mercy came from New York City and made this convent their mother house.
Fire destroyed the buildings and for some years the parish was without a
parochial school. The present school building was erected in 1901, at a cost
of $25,000.00. Sisters of Charity of the B. V. M., of Dulbuque, have charge.
During 1912 ten teachers weere employed and the enrollment was 257.
Sacred Heart school was opened in 1902.
The Fort Dodge Business College was opened in 1912 by Professor W. B.
Barger. It occupies the second floor of the Butler building. Mrs. Jule Downey-
Grosenbaugh also conducts a school of shorthand and typewriting in the First
National Bank building. Besides the business schools, there are a number of
music and art schools in the city.
TOBIN COLLEGE AND IT'S FOUNDER
Tobin College was founded in 1892 and was the fourth school founded by
Professor Thomas Tobin, the other three being: Tilford Academy, at Vinton,
Iowa; Waterloo College, at Waterloo, Iowa, and Ellsworth College, at Iowa
Professor Tobin, who was a native of Ireland, was born August 15, 1835,
and died May 27, 1900. He came to America when fourteen years of age. He
did not have a chance to learn his letters until he was seventeen. But even
at that age, he had the courage to set out to secure a college education, earning
the necessary means himself. But so hard was the struggle, that for three
months at a time, he did not have money enough to buy a postage stamp.,
After graduation. Professor Tobin resolved to make it easier for backward
boys to obtain an education, and to give them a chance to secure instruction
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY 177
suited to their individual needs. Accordingly, in 1870, he came to Iowa and
established Tilford Academy, at Vinton. In 1885 he went to Waterloo and
started Waterloo College. In 1889, he removed to Iowa Falls, where he founded
Early in the year 1892, he began corresponding with Mr. Frank Gates, Mr.
Frank Farrell, and others, concerning the establishment of a college in Fort
Dodge. Satisfactory arrangements having been made, Professor Tobin moved
his family here in April of the same year, and work on the college was started.
The property for the college site was purchased from Mrs. Sarah Dwelle, the
widow of the last landlord of the old St. Charles hotel. This property included
the hotel and a quarter of a block of ground on the corner of First avenue North
and Seventh street. While the college building was not completely finished,
yet school began on the second Monday in September, 1892.
The new college began without a name. A week or so after it opened. Pro-
fessor Tobin was invited by some friends to spend the day in the woods.
While he was gone, the teachers and students took matters into their own
hands, called a meeting, and by a unanimous vote, christened the new college,
"Tobin," in recognition of the work he had done for the cause of education
through the founding of so many colleges.
The formal dedication of the building did not take place until the last of
October, 1892. The dedicatory exercises consisted of an afternoon and even-
ing program. At these programs, congratulatory addresses were made by
prominent business men of the city; also by Rev. William Randall, pastor of
the Baptist church at Iowa Falls, and Rev. F. E. Eldredge, state Sunday school
missionary of the Baptist church, both of whom were very close friends of
The enrollment of the first term numbered about fifty. At the opening of
the winter term, many of the country boys came in, and the enrollment reached
the one hundred mark. The boarding department, the first fall, numbered about
twenty. In the winter this number increased to forty. This department was
carried on in the old St. Charles, the kitchen and dining rooms of the college
building not being finished until 1893. The faculty the first year numbered
nine. Professor Tobin taught general history, which was his favorite subject,
and gave the rest of his time to the supervision of the school. Professor J. F.
Monk had charge of the stenography department and taught the languages.
JMrs. J. F. Monk and Miss Mable Allison taught the normal branches. Professor
B. T. Green taught the sciences and mathematics and had charge of the com-
mercial department. The music department was under the direction of Pro-
fessor W. V. Jones and his daughter. Miss Gertrude Jones. Miss Amelia Golds-
worthy had charge of the art department.
The first class graduated in June, 1893, and was composed of thirteen mem-
bers from the commercial and stenographic departments. Those from the com-
mercial department were: J. Oscar Ahlberg, Otto L. Boehm, Walter M. Boehm,
Edwin Brickson, Nora Lenihan, Benjamin F. McNeil, Charles R. Peterson,
Jennie ]\I. Slate. The stenography class included: Jurgen N. Anderson, Ella
W. Beach, Annie G. Fahey, Lizzie E. Harvison and Bessie B. Norton. The
first normal class graduated in 1894, and consisted of Jessie V. Cox and Ida M.
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
In 1893, Professor Tobiii made a contract with Messrs. Green and Monk,
by which they were to take charge of the school, buying it from him. But
the hard times in 1893-94 so cut down the attendance, that they were unable
to make their payments, and Professor Tobin again assumed active control in
the fall of 1894. Professor Monk remained on the college faculty, but Pro-
fessor Green followed his natural inclination and studied medicine.
During the school year 1894-95, the two literary societies, the Philomathean
and the Amphycton, were established. The societies have remained in existence
ever since. The Snitkay Debate Prize has had much to do in stimulating the
interest in debate. This prize is offered by Dr. C. J. Snitkay, an alumnus of
the class of "97, and his wife, Mrs. Emma Monk Snitkay, an alumnus of the
class of '95. The society winning the contest in debate is given a prize of
$10.00. This prize money has always been used by the societies for the benefit
of the school. It was in declamatory w'ork, the teaching of young men and
women to think and talk upon their feet, that Professor Tobin was especially
interested. To this work he gave freely both of his time and of his zeal. Many
of the older students of the college remember how night after night, he sat in
the rear of the chapel, criticising and commending, but always urging onward
his students. And the present success of many of the alumni is due in a large
measure to the training of Professor Tobin. His interest was such that he
never missed a program of the literary societies, nor any program in which
his students took part. His enthusiasm and interest was so genuine and from
the heart that it engendered a longing for success in his pupils.
The first declamatory contest of the college was held in the year 1893. and
was won by. Miss June McNeil, now Mrs. Kusterer, of Moorland.
In the year 1896, the first of the present series of gold medal contests was
held. These contests, held annually, provide for three prizes: A gold medal
to the winner; a silver medal to the one winning second place, and a souvenir
spoon of the college to the one winning third place. The medals have l:)een
the gifts of various persons, wdio have thus shown their interest in the work
of the college. The spoon has always been the gift of the college management.
The contest is usually held the last Friday evening in Alarch. A system of
preliminary contests held each term leads to the selection for the closing con-
test in the third term. There are three contestants chosen each term, thus
making nine for the finals.
The honors in the contests since their beginning, together with the donors
of the medal are as follows:
R. G. Tobin.
Professor T. Tobin
George E. O. Johnson.
Mr. Isaac Garmoe.
Mrs. Nora Haviland-Moore.
Hon. John F. Duncombe.
M. J. Fitzpatrick.
Mr. J. F. Carter.
Otto V. Bowman
Mr. J. B. Butler.
Miss Elith Bird.
Hon. O. M. Butler.
E. E. Cavanaugh
Captain S. J. Bennett
Miss Ethel Jondreau.
Mr. M. F. Healey.
James A. Martin.
Mr. J. G. Early.
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY 179
Messrs. Monk & Findlay.
Miss Eva Southwick.
Mrs. Julie Haskell-Oleson.
Miss Ellen Schmoker
Messrs. Monk & Findlay.
Leon W. Powers
Mr. H. M. Pratt.
Mr. H. D. Bresford
Miss Christine Brown
Mr. Charles Iles.
Miss Myrtle Tullar
Mrs. Margaret Tobin-Pratt
D. L. Rhodes*
Mr. John S. Heffner
Perhaps no school of its size has as strong an alumni association as Tobin
College. This association was organized in 1895 and now numbers over three
hundred. A unique feature of the Tobin College Alumni Association is the
alumni fund. This fund was started in 1899 t>y Professor Tobin, its purpose
being "for the aid of worthy students in their efforts to gain an education."
In 1899, Professor Tobin sold the college to Messrs. Monk and Findlay,
who have carried on the work along the lines originally laid down. The col-
lege has continued to prosper and grow until now the annual enrollment num-
bers about four hundred.
With the lives of such men as Professor Tobin, Professor Monk and Pro-
fessor Findlay dedicated to its service, Tobin College could not help but be the
source of blessing it is to the community and to the young people who have
* D. L. Rhodes and .Miss Mildred Sperry tied for first place, and on drawing lots the
honors went to Mr. Rhodes.