Thursday, March 6, 2014

60 Years Ago

Chariton high school senior, Duane Hibbs, was awarded the state's highest honor for heroic deeds, the valor award.  Governor Wm. Beardsley made the presentation at an open house held by the Chariton schools.  Hibbs and a companion, Bill Thorne, were skating at the West Lake when suddenly Thorne broke through a weak spot in the the ice.  Seeing the plight of his companion, Hibbs, aware of the usual procedure in such emergencies started for shore to get a rope or plank.  He saw that it was too far and feeling that Thorne dressed in heavy clothing and in cold water, would be gone before help could arrive.  Hibbs lay down on the ice and reached his hand to Thorne and tried to pull him out.  This didn't work as the fringe ice kept breaking. Then the rescuer backed off, stretched at full length, dug in his skates and reached out to Thorne, who then pulled himself over the edge.  Duane tended to minimize his heroic action and didn't even tell his parents of the incident.  The first they knew of the rescue was when Thorne's parents called to thank him for saving their son's life.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chariton City Hall and Fire Station

Here is a description of the building, published in The Chariton Leader on 23 February 1932, as those who toured that day would have seen it:


From the outside the building presents a charming appearance, being finished in variegated colored brick. On the left from the front is the large folding doors of the fire station, behind which is stored Chariton's fire fighting equipment. These doors are mounted on tracks and instantaneous opening is always assured.

The city hall offices occupy the right half of the lower floor. A huge double door, framed in columns of stone, presents a picturesque view. Dorinthian (sic) architecture is the predominate note of the simple decorations. In the center of the decorations over the door is the date of the building etched in stone, "1931."

A pier lantern of statuary bronze surmounts the building. Panes of circular glass enclose 6 100-watt bulbs and when the lantern is lighted a yellow glow is shed over the building.

Entering the door the impressive offices of the city are located on the right, diagonally from the door. The first door to the right is that which leads into the office of A.C. Riebel, Mayor.

A huge grilled window has been installed in the window of the clerk's office and all city business is transacted through this grill. Furniture in the city clerk's office is of light oak and includes a flat top desk for the deputy clerk, Mrs. Effie Peterson, and a roll top desk for Theo Rosa, city clerk.

The mayor's office opens off the east end of the city clerk's office while on the west doors open into the council room.

The council room is one of the most outstanding rooms in the building with an admirable color scheme providing much beauty. The mural decoration is in a pastel shade of green while the ceiling is finished in cream. A ten foot table and ten chairs of solid walnut, with the chairs upholstered in sober blue leather, add a delightful contrast to the mural colors.

Opening off to the south is a 12 by 14 foot vault where official city records are kept. This vault is completely equipped with steel shelving and cabinets by the Lyon Locker company through their agent, C.C. McCormick of Des Moines.

A door in the west wall of the council room leads into the furnace and work shop room of the building. The city water department has its workshop in this room.

An oil burner, Century make and type 2, furnishes the heat for the building, while a Kewanee boiler, type C, is included in the installation. The oil burner was installed by Dean Ferguson of Chariton, while C.B. Ensley sold the boiler. Ensley also held the plumbing contract on the building.

Reverting back to the lobby of the building, just within the front door, a sweeping flight of steps built of terrazzo may be seen on the left. The steps lead to the second floor of the building.

At the top of the stairs the auditorium of the building is the first room to be seen. The auditorium seats from 300 to 400 people and has already found a useful place in furnishing a meeting room for the various organizations of the city and county.

Leaving the auditorium along the corridor that parallels the steps, and walking west the city treasurer's and the cemetery board offices may be found. In this room, George Carpenter, A.C. Riebel, J.H. Curtis, I.L Guernsey and E.H. Best, the members of the cemetery board, hold their meetings. Miss Maggie Beem, city treasurer, has her office in this room and O.E. Lamb, cemetery superintendent, also has offices there.

Down the corridor to the east in the adjoining room is the Community club and the Woman's club meeting room. This room has just been furnished by the two organizations and has tables and chairs of walnut upholstered in leather.

Across the corridor is the firemen's club room. Two pool tables and shower baths are features of this room. The floor is composed of cork carpet.

All of the floors in the building with the exception of the auditorium, the firemen's club room, the fire equipment storage room and the furnace room, are made of terrazzo. This contract was held by the J. T. Ure company of Cedar Rapids.

The woodwork of the building is entirely of walnut although little wood has been used in the construction. The floor of the auditorium is of oak on steel joists.

The Pittsburg-Des Moines Steel company of Des Moines held the contract for all steel used in the building. Byron Blanchard of Chariton completed most of the wiring in the building.

State officers whose work has caused them to visit the city hall have expressed the belief that the city hall is one of the finest in Iowa, regardless of the size of the city. All Chariton may take a reflected pride in the structure.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pictures From The Past by MaLinda Travis

Stierwalt Reflects Back on Her Time
Chariton council members Joan Amos and newly-elected Mayor John Braida present Mary Stierwalt with a plaque in honor of her 30 years of service to the city of Chariton.  An open house was held in her honor.   Note:  This picture and story courtesy of the 2004 Chariton Leader.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Years and Years Ago

Arthur Chase of Russell was the winner of the 1953 Lucas County Alfalfa Award, Other alfalfa contest winners were Kenneth LaFavre, Ronald and John Stierwalt, Clair Throckmorton, Harry Calhoun, Ustel Mason, Karl Adamson, Clayton and Warren Blue, Lee LaRue and Jay Snook.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Historic Oakley was once a Thriving Community

In the early 1900's, Oakley was a thriving community and then came a gradual decline at the start of World War II.  The only places left today are a few houses, Gillaspy Machinery Salvage Yard, a little park and the community center.
Oakley was founded in the late 1870s.  The town received its name because the  40 acres it was located on were covered with oak trees.
Chariton residents Bob Niswender and Vernard Oxdenreider both lived outside of Oakley for many years.  They had parents and grandparents who lived in the town and some of them owned businesses there.

A picture of Oakley main street, circa 1900, during the annual fall "Hog Day" celebration
Vernard was born in 1919 two miles northwest of Oakley.  HIs family moved south of Oakley when he was 1½ years old.  Vern lived there until he went into the Marine Corps in 1942.  He was in the Marines until April 1945.  After he came back from the service he lived there for 53 years.  Oxenreider had a 260 acre farm ½ mile north of Oakley.
Bob was born in 1925 and he lived four miles strait west of Oakley until 1949.  Bob's grandfather, George Niswender, had a farm west of Oakley and he owned a big livery stable in town.  The stable was located where Gillaspy's Salvage Yard is located now.  There was a community dance platform located behind the stable.  There was an ice building located west of the dance platform.
"They made ice to use in the summertime back in those days because they didn't have refrigerators," Oxenreider said.
The farmers would order kegs of whiskey and use some of them for medicine in the wintertime.  The reason for this is that they had families and the closest doctor was 12-15 miles away.  All they had to travel in was a horse and buggy so they were their own doctors.
When the stable was torn down a grocery store was built.  The bottom floor of the building was a grocery store and the top floor was the Odd Fellows Lodge Hall.  During the winter months there were dances, college classes and plays held in the lodge hall.
The Oakley Depot was located east of town and this is one place where the train would stop.  There were two branches of trains and one traveled north and the other went south.  The railroad was built by the Des Moines Railway Company and later it sold out to C.B.&Q.
Niswender's uncle, Harris McKeendry, ran the north branch of the railroad.  The north branch stopped at Oakley first followed by Lacona, Milo, Ackworth and Indianola.  The south branch traveled over where the Cinder Path is now and it made stops in Derby, Humeston and down to St. Joseph, Mo.  The depot was torn down in 1937 or 1938.  The Oakley train made the last trip to Indianola in December 1961.
"Traveling salesmen would come in on the train and they would rent a buggy with a team of horses.  They'd go to the grocery stores in Norwood and Jay and order their groceries.  Then they'd have the freight shipped to Oakley," Niswender said.  The salesman would order a variety of different things from the stores such as dried goods, shoes and hardware.
In order to ship the salesmen's freight George Niswender took two or four horses and a wagon and delivered it to Oakley.
There was a stockyard 200 yards south of the depot.  Farmers would haul their hogs and cattle over there, put them in stock cars and ship them to Chicago.  Cattle and hogs were shipped on Saturday of each week.
Some hogs and cattle were walked into Oakley.  Some were hauled in on wagon boxes and each wagon box would only hold eight hogs.
In the early 1900's Oakley was a heavily populated community.  There were about 75 people who lived there.  Farming was the chief industry and the main source of income.  "It was a thriving little town for 60 years or more," Oxenreider said. 
George Niswender owned several farms that all sat in a row four miles west of Oakley.  George gave each of his four children 80 acres of his land to farm.  One of his children, Orbin, was Bob Niswender's father.
Another industry that men worked for was the railroad.  Oxenreider's uncle, John Nussbaum, was the section boss of the C.B.&Q. railroad in Oakley at one time.
There were several businesses along Main Street in Oakley.  Along with the grocery store there was a general store called Mikesell Bros. that was run by Gail and Don Mikesell.  They started the store in 1917 and they sold a myriad of things such as dry goods, shoes, big old Cheese blocks, nails and bolts.  Another item that they sold was wolverine work shoes.
There was a post office located in the west part of town.  It was later moved to where the grocery store was located.  Vernard Oxenreider's dad, Taylor Oxenreider, was a substitute carrier there for many years.
Taylor and a man named Charlie Walls ran a hardware store in Oakley starting in 1911.  They sold windmills, pumps and water systems.  In 1917 their building was burned down by a fire along with another building.
A man named Jim Clark ran a blacksmith shop in Oakley during the early 1900s.  There were two churches in Oakley, a Methodist Church and a Christian Church.  The Methodist Church was located in the west part of town and the Christian Church was north of town.
The Christian Church closed in the early 1920s and the township bought it and put up a community center.  Oxenreider went to school here for half a term when the school he was attending had burnt down.
There used to be a fall celebration in Oakley every September through the late 1930s.  "They'd have a parade and everyone would bring in their biggest watermelon, potato or ear of corn," Niswender said.  Horse pulling was a big event at these fall festivals and so were footraces.
Oakley had a baseball team back in the early 1900s and they played on Sunday afternoons.  They played teams from surrounding towns such as Columbia, Lacona and Milo.  Oxenreider thought Oakley's team was one of the best in Iowa.  
Back in the 1930s Oakley had a lighted horse shoe court.  In the court there were two horseshoe stakes 40 feet apart and one light above them.  The farmers would come and pitch horseshoes every night until midnight," Oxenrieder said.
Oxenreider stated that the farmers quit work at 5 p.m. "They didn't work day and night like they do now," Oxenreider said.
There was also a hitching  post for farmers to tie their horses while they were in town.  The hitching post was located on Main Street.  There was a post about every 10 or 12 feet.
Oakley was thriving until the start of World War II.  Oxenreider said the reason for this was that every one who was of military age was either drafted or volunteered for the service.
After the war started there were no more dance.  The last one was in 1941.  Baseball also died in Oakley because of the men who entered the service.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dollar General Truck Stuck on Court Ave

Above is a picture of a Dollar General truck stuck on Saturday, June 15th, under the Court Ave. overpass with a train going over him.  Through the years many trucks have attempted this and had to back up and turn around in Graves and Son's driveway.  Drivers seem to think they know it all and "They can get through". It would sure be maddening to be behind the truck when it happened.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

War Veterans Living in Lucas County

This list appeared in the  "Shaking the Family Tree" magazine 20 years ago.  "Shakin the Family Tree" is the newsletter that is produced by Lucas County Genealogical Society .  
The following is a list of the soldiers of the Civil War who were living in Lucas County in January of 1927:  W.J. Graves, John Blackstock, John Potts, William Moxley, J.C. Cook, Nicholas Eswald, H. Duffield, John Johnson, Asa C. Callahan, W.F. Graham, J.M. Harrison, Martin Anderson, W.L. Clapp, James Twinam, J.W. Reece, A.D. Gray, Henry Milgles, Frank Smith, Joseph Landes, Henry A. Newhouse, Samuel Neptune, Alix Mitchell, Willis Adams, C.W. Callahan, William Bradley, Carl Baxter, John Stearns, George Barker, H.J. Finch, Lafayete Miller and Coleman Barber.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Pirtle Military Family

This appeared on Facebook in June of 2013 submitted by Sanda Bland Stump
It also appeared on the front page of the Chariton Herald-Patriot 60 years ago

Saturday, June 1, 2013

70 Years Ago - A.V. Hass

A.V. Hass received orders to report for duty to the navy.  He had been commissioned a lieutenant, junior grade.  He was to report to Quonset Point, Rhode Island, for his indoctrination training.  Hass was graduated from the Michigan Law School at Ann Arbor and immediately following his graduation began the practice of law in Chariton in 1931.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cemetery Tour September 30, 2012

Appeared in the Chariton Herald Patriot on September 27, 2012

Annual Cemetery Tour Sunday, September 30, Features Remarkable Lucas County Civil War Stories

The stories of a Chariton woman who rescued her husband from behind enemy lines and the Chariton Patriot editor who valiantly led escaped slaves and free black men into combat against the Confederacy will be among those told, during the annual cemetery tour sponsored by the Chariton Historic Preservation Commission.
The event, with a Civil War theme to recognize the five-year sesquicentennial of that great conflict, will begin on the Lucas County Historical Society Museum campus at 3:30 p.m. with coffee, lemonade and cookies and the opportunity to view the society's collection of Civil War-related artifacts.  Buses will leave the museum for the tour at 4 p.m.
Admission will be $5 per person, with proceeds going to the preservation work of the commission as well as covering transportation costs.  Adance tickets are available at Piper's, Ben Franklin, the Chariton Chamber/Main Street office, Clark's Greenhouse and City Hall.  Tickets also may be purchased at the door Sunday.
The first stop on the tour will be Chariton's first cemetery, Douglass, which dates from 1846.  There, Jerry Davis and Frank Myers will present the story of Oliver W. Coffman, a saddler with the 1st Iowa Volunteer Cavalry.  Coffman became critically ill while serving in the South and was sent home to recover, but died in Chariton on Dec. 26, 1863.  Because most Lucas County soldiers who died during the war are buried in national cemeteries far from home, his grave is unique.  Also unique is the fact his flag-topped tombstone survived a century of neglect before Douglass Cemetery was restored.
From Douglass Cemetery, the tour will continue at the Chariton Cemetery, founded during the Civil War and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The first stop there will be at the grave of Elijah Lewis.  Lewis, who with his sister Lucretia, jointly edited and published The Chariton Patriot for many years prior to 1900, was a Quaker who had to balance his pacifist convictions against the perceived need for violence to free the enslaved.  He found his calling as an officer commanding free black men and escaped slaves organized in Pennsylvania into the Eighth Infantry Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops.  Lewis and his men were acclaimed for their valor, but he was critically injured in battle, barely surviving to live a long and interesting life.  Max Slobodyanik will portray Lewis.
The next stop will be at the grave of Laura R. Gibbon, also a Quaker, who arrived in Chariton as a newlywed in 1861 with her physician husband, Dr. William H. Gibbon, just two months before he accepted a commission as surgeon to the Fifteenth Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry.  When he and several of the men he was treating were captured by Confederate forces in Arkansas during 1863, she set out to rescue them -- and did.  Sarah Davis will portray Laura.
The final stop will be at the grave of Napoleon Bonaparet "Bone" Branner, a long-time Chariton attorney who arrived in Lucas County during 1853, but returned to his native East Tennessee when the Civil War broke out to serve the Confederate cause in the 43rd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry.  Branner survived the war and returned to Chariton, but his younger brother, Tom, who had enlisted in a Confederate unit at age 15, was killed in the Battle of Staunton, Virginia.  Roger Manser will portray Banner.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rock Island Coal Mine No. 3

Years and Years ago - 1942

The Rock Island Coal Mine No. 3, Williamson, closed down its railroad production and would be operated in the future on a commercial basis by the Powell Coal Company.  The mine was working 200 men, but when in full production employed 400 men and produced 2,000 tons daily.

Pictures From the Past 1952

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Historical Residences in Chariton Iowa

A.W. Mauk
A.C. Riebel

G.J. Stewart
J.A. Penick
S.H. Mallory

Steinbach Home
Stephens House
W.C. Penick
W.W. McFarland

Yocum Hospital Pictures 1930 - 1950

Around 1930

Historical Pictures of Derby Iowa in Lucas County

Southside burned 3/8/1920  Derby, Iowa

Northside of Street in Derby, Iowa
Odd Fellows Hall in Derby, Iowa

State Bank in Derby, Iowa

1860's Chariton Square

This article and picture appeared on the Internet from Roberta Zastawniak September 2012. - log in - then search for Chariton - You grew up in Chariton -

Thanks Roberta -

In the late 1860's Chariton was in a period of rapid growth and change. The railroad had come through Chariton in 1867 and the Civil War had ended a couple of years before that. Wooden structures were being built to house businesses that were rapidly coming to this town. Two brick buildings belonging to Matson and another to O.L. Palmer were located on the square. Matson's was located on the west side of the square, while Palmer's was on the east side.
The picture above shows the east end of the north side of the square. None of the buildings are now standing. The first building on the right was a hardware store, followed by an empty lot.
Wm. McDermit's boot and shoe manufacturers occupied the third lot. The fourth lot housed the Alex Rogers' furniture manufacturers. If you were to look close you might see two straight-back chairs dangling from the furniture store front.
The fifth lot housed the G.W. Black Hardware Store, and it and the empty lot next door are still in the G.W. Blake family via the Blake Johnson Family.
An unknown business occupied the seventh lot. The "new" building, on the final lot, belonged to Colonel Dungan, and was occupied by M. Schworn's General Merchandise business.
The Opposition House, located in the building on the Northeast corner of the square and was of special interest. Thomas Musselman ran the hotel, restaurant, saloon and apparently a "house of ill fame." It was located where the Charitone Hotel is now. (There will be more about the Opposition House in following stories).
A few additional points regarding the photo: In 1869, the street on the north side of the square (now Court Avenue) was called Madison. Also, it is interesting to point out the board fence and hitch rail around the courtyard. The fence was necessary at that time to keep hogs, cattle and horses out of the courthouse yard. There was also a wooden boardwalk across the street.
Directly north of the old brick courthouse was something unusual - but most certainly a necessity in 1869: a double outhouse.

Historical Pictures of the Chariton Square

West Side of Chariton Square

East Side of Chariton Square
North Side of Chariton Square
South Side of Chariton Square

Patriot Office in 1869

This article and picture appeared on the Internet from Roberta Zastawniak September 2012. - log in - then search for Chariton - You grew up in Chariton -

Thanks Roberta -
This building, owned by Joseph Brown, housed two businesses: the Brown and Pritchet Meat Market and the office of the Chariton Patriot. Located on the northwest corner of the square, this was considered a "new" building.
The Brown and Prichet Meat Market, was located downstairs and was apparently a popular gathering place. Possibly the picture was taken on a Wednesday as people gathered for the latest news, or maybe a fresh load of meat was due in that day.
The office of the newspaper, the Chariton Patriot, was located upstairs of this "new" building and the paper was published every Wednesday. Terms of subscriptions were two dollars a year, in advance. George B. Ragsdale was the editor and Moses Folsom was the proprietor.

Big Coffee Pot

This article and picture appeared on the Internet from Roberta Zastawniak September 2012. - log in - then search for Chariton - You grew up in Chariton -

Thanks Roberta -
This picture shows another Chariton business, Joseph A. Brown's Stoves, Tin and Hollowware Store. It was located north of the northwest corner of the square on what was then Harrison Street (now called Main Street). It was easy to find in Chariton as an ad of that era encouraged shoppers to find the store at the sign of the "Big Coffee Pot."