Friday, January 29, 2010

Civil War Veteran Writes

B. Rockwell, Pioneer Citizen of Chariton, Now in Kansas City

Miss Myra Dungan has received the following letter from Mr. B. Rockwell, one of the early pioneers of Chariton, and a veteran of the Civil War, and who will probably be remembered by some of the older residents of this city and the Civil War Veterans:

Kansas City, Mo., July 4, 1927.
Miss Myra B. Dungan, Chariton, IA

Dear Miss Dungan:  Sixty-six years ago today at a celebration in a grove near Chariton, Theodore M. Stuart delivered a patriotic address and I read the Declaration of Independence, an exact copy of which I enclose, which may interest you.  Am surprised that Thomas Jefferson did not sign it.  (My comments on this are below).  Stuart was then associated with your father in the practice of law, and was the editor of the Chariton Patriot.

There were present on this occasion your dear father, Warren S. Dungan, N.B. Gardner, County Clerk Wm. Boyles, the miiller, D.W. Waynick, merchant, John O. Coles,  merchant, and Lizzie Conway and Sallie Leffler, the belles of the town, and hundreds of its citizens - nearly all of them.

Will thank you to ask the present editor of your paper to publish this note.  If it strikes the eye of any soldier of the 34th Iowa Infantry, would like him to write and give me any news he has of any soldier of that regiment.  At its organization I was the last man in the rear rank of Capt. Wm. Boyles, Company K,  and when the war closed I was captain of Company C.
Sincerely yours, 
B. Rockwell

P.S. - I hope this may find you quite well and full of happiness.  I have nothing to complain of.  Have fallen several times in the past few years, but as yet have no broken bones or neck broken.  Spent a month in Florida last spring and have made two business trips to Oklahoma and Texas since then, and a prospect next month of visiting two daughters in California  with my wife and a daughter.  The latter lives in Assisi, Italy and with her daughter is now visiting us.
(my comments):
Contrary to popular belief, the Declaration of Independence was not signed on July 4th.  On that day, the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted by the Continental Congress.  On July 19th, the Continental Congress voted to have it engrossed and signed.  The document was ready for delegates' signatures by August 2nd, and that is the earliest date at which Jefferson and the other delegates present in Philadelphia could have signed it.

If you look at the document you will see Thomas Jefferson's signature.

Big Rock - Big Heartache

Amid the gently rolling hills of Norwood, a few persons stood at the roadside as Mrs. William (Ruth) Curtis related the story of the big rock, which has always been the pride and joy of the people of that community.

She pointed out the stake set by Avery McNeer and her husband, Bill Curtis, where, to the best of their memories, the giant granite boulder had stood for countless ages.  Long ago, geologists had stated that the boulder was foreign to Iowa, that it had come rolling and tumbling down from the north in one of the five glaciers which pushed ever so slowly across this area, plowing out basins for later lakes and forming the low graceful hills so pleasant to look upon today..

The last three glaciers covered only part of what is now Iowa.  The centuries rolled along.  The Earth's climate changed and when the last glacier came into the relative warmth of this region approximately 50,000 years ago, the great rock came to rest as the ice pack that had nudged it along, began to melt and trickle off into Otter Creek, then into South River, thence into the Des Moines River and finally into the Mississippi, leaving the boulder to wait in silent loneliness for more centuries to pass until the Red Men should come and live out their centuries here.

Tom Castile
Then came the white man and children to play around it and clamber over its vast expanse; families together round its basse, enjoy their picnics and have their pictures taken.
Many legends and other thrice told tales have grown up around the rock.  T.D. Ashby recalls that one Tom Castile claimed to have carried the rock on his shoulder as he walked out here from the east, using it as a table by day and a shelter by night.  When he arrived at Otter Creek Township he was so tired he could not lift it again but was proud to leave it to show coming generations the superior kind of men who settled and developed this region.

Other legends, less fantastic, deal with the original owners of the land-the Sac and Fox Indians, who it is said, used it as a measuring mark for their journeys from tribal seats.  Indian chiefs of neighboring tribes met there and, over their pipes of peace, pledged to fight the invasions of the white man who would soon be over runing their domains.

Mrs. Avery McNeer
Many activities took place around the rock.

Helen Niswender said:  "When I was a teenager, I used to climb up there and luxuriate in the fragrance of the new mown hay.  How sweet and all-pervading it was."

Ruth Curtis said:  "I used to climb up there and look out over the world."

An energetic photographer sent out word that if everyone who would like to have their picture taken by the rock would be there on a certain day, he would take the picture.  Forty-one people showed up.

Mrs. Avery McNeer has the unique distinction of living all her life in the shadow of the rock.  She was born on the east side of it.  Her father was Elmer Curtis and their old house still stands, although unoccupied.  Her grandfather was Moses H. Curtis, one of the very early pioneers there.  Since her marriage, she has lived on the west side.

 Progress vs. Sentiment 

Said Lewis Ashby, an early merchant of Norwood, "The Rock has always been here and I suppose it will always be."

But Alas! The white man's unending quest for progress must be reckoned with.  Some philosopher said, "There is nothing so permanent as change."  Came the year 1952 and farm-to-market roads were interlacing the countryside.  Jack Cady of the County engineer's office showed this writer the blueprint of the proposed Otter Creek road and gave the rock's statistics:
     Glacial origin.
     Volume 95 cubic yards.
     Weight 118 tons.
     -and it lay squarely in the path of the proposed road.

The bulldozers came in and with them the diamond drills and the high explosives.  The big rock was honeycombed for the insertion of the dynamite sticks.

Then came the trigger moment, Mrs. McNeer sat in her home 40  rods away hearing first the blast, then the shattered fragments falling like hail all around.

There were tears.  There was heartache in the community.  One chunk showing half a honeycomb lies at the doors step of the McNeer home.  Three fairly sizeable pieces lie buried at the bottom of a 20 ft. fill near the site.  The rest lies in the road bed of the Otter Creek farm -to-market road.
     Nothing that is, can pause or stay.
     The moon will wax, the moon will wane;
     The mist and cloud will thurn to rain
     The rain to mist and cloud again.
     Tomorrow be today.

Here is a link to an interesting site with a story about Big Rock (Gordon Milligan)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Iowa Ghost Towns

I think every state has Ghost Towns.  Places that once thrived and prospered and became very important business areas while others were no more than a name on paper.  Some only had a post office and no other businesses.  When the railroads came through the state and by passed some of these towns, the businesses packed up and moved nearer the railroad.  The railroads meant business and the products could be moved in and out of town easier.  Gradually the people moved with them and the town would disappear.  

In 1930 and 1932, David C. Mott published two volumes, #17 and #18, in the Annals of Iowa.  "Abandoned Towns, Villages and Post Offices of Iowa".  From these volumes, listed below, are the Ghost Towns in Lucas County, along with a brief description.

A post office in the northern part of Union Township from 1853-1875.  Union Township is located in the extreme southwest corner of Lucas County.  Argo was not incorporated.  Derby is the only incorporated town in this township.  Argo was located directly on the Mormon Trace, three and a half miles northwest of Derby.

The route of the Mormon Trace from Chariton through the former location of Argo is marked with signs, but a sharp eye is needed to locate them.

A hamlet and post office in the western part of Pleasant township from 1858 to 1908.  A few scattered residences still remain (in 1930-1932).  Pleasant township is in the extreme northeast corner of Lucas County.    Belinda was never incorporated.  The Belinda Christian church was organized in 1848 and the building still exists, embedded in what now is a toy museum.  There were a few businesses and homes in the town; a hotel, blacksmith shop, a mill, two general stores, the post office, a brass band, eight dwelling houses with perhaps 50 people that ever lived there at one time and a doctor who spent some time living there.
Bucyrus had a post office from 1871 to 1880 in the southern part of English Township.  It was located a little more than three miles due north of Chariton and about two miles southwest of Williamson, north of the beginning of Highway 14's curve to begin a northeasterly descent to Little Whitebreast Creek.

Bucyrus was one of those post offices that moved from place to place, then died because of proximity to Chariton and the inability to find a long-term postmaster.
Cedar Grove was a post office from 1854 to 1868 in the central part of Cedar Township.  Ola was a post office from 1867 to 1902 in section 10 of Cedar Township.  Cedar Grove was located in the northwest portion of Section 11, very near Ola, in Section 10.  This suggests that the Cedar Grove post office became the Ola post office and moved slightly when one postmaster succeeded another.  Both Cedar Grove and Ola are located in the northeast quadrant of Cedar Township, two miles south of the Pleasant Township line and two miles west of the Monroe County line.
A coal mining town in the 1880's in section 18, White Breast Township, about two miles east of the town of Lucas.  In 1930 there were a few scattered houses still standing.  It was actually in Jackson Township having its west city limits joined to the east city limits of the city of Lucas.  Cleveland's east city limit was the Jackson-Whitebreast Township line and the town spilled over.  By some accounts it had as many as 1,000 residents during its prime time.  It was an extremely clean, neat and well-mannered little boom town and tolerated no saloons, but as with most mining towns it flourished only briefly.  As the mines here were closed, the miners moved on to other mines, or to Lucas.
New Cleveland is located approximately two miles southwest of Lucas in section 21 of Jackson Township.  It was established after 1896 when the failed Whitebreast Fuel Co. reorganized and during 1899, opened a mine named Cleveland No. 4 in that location.  It was never incorporated.  The community included a depot, post office, company store, saloons, boarding houses, churches, a school and substantial population.   Some time before this the railroad had seen fit to have a depot there and then there was need for other types of civilization.   These buildings and the New Cleveland Mine #4 occupied nearly a quarter section of land.  The town of New Cleveland was never incorporated, but was listed in the Official Census book of Iowa and the State Official Registers.  It had an elevation of 878 feet.  The post office ran,  even after the closing of the mines and was discontinued in 1913.  

The Company Store was run by Hardsock and Bean, and it is very likely that one of these was the postmaster.  The saloons were run by George Taylor and a Mrs. Berry.  A few of the teachers were Florence Douglas, Principal, Miss Dale, Blanche De Long and Sadie Rabadon.  This school had quite an enrollment for a mining town.  The mine closed during 1908 and the community started fading away.
A post office from 1869-1872 and railroad station in Union Township, about two miles southwest of Derby.  It was located on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy rail line connecting Derby and Wayne County's Humeston.  After Derby was platted May 1, 1872, so it seems likely that the railroad station was moved there from Earle and the post office ceased to exist when another nearby post office, Henderson, was moved into Derby.
Freedom was a village in the southeastern part of section 25, Warren Township, on Wolf Creek, laid out in 1856.  Post office, 1855-1876.  This town consisted of four blocks of eight lots each.  A store was established about 1860, by the Barnett Brothers.  They kept the post office for a number of years, but it and the store were both discontinued and the land was sold.  A saw and grist mill, for grinding corn was established , but the saw mill was removed some years ago into Benton Township.  The corn burrs made a first rate article of corn meal.  There was a grocery store and a blacksmith there and the total assessed valuation of real estate, for 1880, was seven hundre3d and niety-five dollars.

A mile west of old Freedom was Freedom Bible Camp, dating perhaps from the late 1940's or early 1950's denominationally independent but maintained by several congregations, and the site of summer youth camps and revival camp meetings.

To reach Freedom, travel south of Chariton on Highway 14 three and a half miles to the paved Derby Road, west on the Derby Road for a mile and then south on gravel approximately two miles to the Y intersection where Freedom once was located.
A post office from 1854 to 1865, shown on the maps first in the northwestern part of Warren Township and later White Breast Township.

Located in the northeast corner of Section 5 , Warren Township, but provides no further information.  White Breast township joins Warren on the north.  This is in the general neighborhood of May Baptist Church in northwest Warren Township, but that congregation was organized much later, during 1890.  Apparently the post office moved frequently, then vanished.
Had a post office from 1853 to 1864 in the eastern part of Washington Township. 
The name of the post office from 1915 to 1923 at the present town of Williamson.
A post office from 1866 to 1872 in section 20 of Waren Township.
The first  permanent settlement in Cedar Township, named in 1847 by William McDermit.
Although this "town" was not officially a town, just across the road there was a town called Johnstown.  It was entered on the tax rolls of Lucas County on March 9, 1900 and vacated January 18, 1958 and signed by Judge H.V. Levis.  This town was located on the N ¾ of the N-E ¼ of the S-E ¼ of section 21.  It contained lots 1 to 74 which were 60 feet wide by 120 feet long, and lot no. 75 that was 342 feet by 990 feet.  There were 6 streets 60 feet wide and 6 alleys, 16 feet wide.  This is the land known as Charley Woods farm and now owned by john Leonard.
List in the 1852-1853 U.S. Official Register as a post office in Lucas County, but not found on maps of that period.
A town in the southeastern part of section 25 and the northeastern part of 36, Cedar Township.  It was laid out in 1852, was on the main line of the Western Stage Company and was a prosperous town until the railroad came through a mile to the south in 1866.  Post office, 1855-1882.  A few scattered dwellings still remain (1930).
A post office from 1865-1888 in the western part of Union Township.
A post office in the early 1850's at or near the town of LaGrange.
Listed in the U.S. Official Register of 1859-1861 as a post office in Lucas County, but not found on maps of that period.
A hamlet or place shown on maps of 1868 and 1869 in the northern part of White Breast Township.
Just east of Lucas and west of Old Cleveland is a strip of land that is part of the N.W. ¼ of the S-E ¼ of Section 13.  It was owned by Smith Mallory and platted as the town of Midway.  This is in the vicinity of east of Lester Paige's and J.B. Dixson's farms, south of Donald Dixson's and includes homes occupied by John Pennington and Clifford Hall.  It was adjacent to the Gordon Addition of Old Cleveland.
A post office in the southern part of Benton Township from 1870-1881.
A coal mining town in section 28, Pleasant Township.  Post office, 1888-1905.  Reestablished 7/11/1916 and discontinued again 11/30/1928.
The name first given the newly established county seat of Lucas County, but soon changed to Chariton
In 1912-1913 the Rock Island Railroad decided to build a railroad to connect Allerton and Minneapolis.  About every six or seven miles a depot was established and a town sprung up with a post office and some trading centers.  From Chariton, Williamson was built and about six miles north of Williamson, Purdy was established.

On each side of the railroad in Purdy, stores were built.  Francis Carson built a store on the west side of the railroad.  Julius Peck owned a farm on the east side.  Along the north side of his farm he built a store, a feed grinding building and two residences.  He lived in one and his daughter and son-in-law in the other.  The son-in-law was the postmaster.  Later Moon brothers built a large store on the west side.  The post office was moved to the Moon store.  Lester Kenney became storekeeper of the Peck store.
The road ran east and west which was the Lucas and marion County line.  The west took one to Newburn and east took you to Highway 14.

In 1923 Ben Kenney, who lived across the roae north of the Kenney store, Jim Foster, a residence east of the store and Willis Mitchell who ran the lumber yard furnished capital for Alva Wood to take over the Kenney store.  the post office was later moved to the Wood Store.  Alva and Mrs. Wood stayed until 1947, when the town faded out.  The mail route was taken to Chariton, Knoxville and Chariton produce men sent trucks out and picked up farmers' cream and eggs.  the Moon store had changed owners and the new owners had moved away.  After Mr. Mitchell died, George Williamson Sr. bought the lumber yard and Alva managed it for him.
A post office in the northern part of Jackson Township from 1853-1875.  It was the western-most stage stop in Lucas County.  The Western Stage Coach Company established one of its trunk lines thru here3 and LaGrange was made a depot.  It was the largest stop between Eddyville and Ottumwa.  The people in Lucas and Norwood received their mail through the Tallyhoma Post Office prior to March 1868 when the Lucas Post Office was established.  The heyday of the Stage Coach was from 1853 to 1868 until the railroad laid its tracks and bridged the streams and gulches.
A post office from 1859-1863 in the central part of Washington Township.
A coal mining town in Lincoln Township a few miles northeast of Chariton.  It had a post office from 1916-1924.  The few houses that remained in1930 are now all gone.

A village on the C.B. and Q. Railroad in section 18, Whitebreast Township, about two miles east of Lucas, as appears on maps of the early 1900's.
A post office in 1872-1874 near the center of Warren Township.
A post office in 1864-1865 in section 30, Cedar Township.
A post office from 1869-1879 in the southwest part of section 14 Liberty Township, on White Breast Creek.  White Breast was a coal mining town in the 1880's and 1890's in the western part of section 14, White Breast Township, a short distance west of Indianola Junction on the C.B. and Q. Railroad.
Was located in the far northeast corner of Washington Township.  Around 1880 a small mining village named Zero, owned by the Zero Coal Company was formed.  Zero’s life was short lived because the mine was plagued with too much water in its shafts.  Some time before the turn of the 20th century, the Zero experiment failed.  The coal mine was closed.  There are a couple of versions why the town was named Zero.  Some said it was named Zero because it was half way between Melrose and Russell, but others say the name was probably taken from the Zero Coal Co.  In 1881 a vote for a  five per cent tax for railroad construction from Chariton to Russell on to Wabash and Appanoose counties, was taken and it was defeated.  At one time there was a Post Office in town and it even had a broom factory in 1881.  Zero Coal Company had the town platted in 1883.  In 1882 Cook Bros. started laying out the lots in Zero.  By the time they finished there were 61 lots, five streets and three alleys drawn into the town.  By 1887, 20 more lots were officially added.  This small mining town once had a population between 500 and 600 hard working people.  In October of 1883 the Odd Fellows of LaGrange moved their hall to Zero.

Some of the residents of Zero from 1882 - 1884

Mr. Allen                                       James Hollenrake
David Barton                                Jacob Gardner
Mart Barton                                  Aquilla Kern
Mr. Cavett                                     Jacob Lemley
Columbus Chambers                    Peter Lemley
Mr. Comstock                                S.G. Lewis
Wm. Conner                                   F. Long
Cook Bros.                                      Mr. Lutes
G.R. Dawson                                   S.G. Morgan
Jack Dawson                                   D.W. Powell
Pat Ford                                          R.H. Tabor
Henry Fuller                                   Frank Tinker
Peter Gardner                                Thomas Walker
Mr. Gurwell                                    Joel Whittlesey

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Support Disaster Relief in Haiti

On January 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. 
Join recovery efforts mobilizing around the world to assist earthquake victims.  Your donation will help disaster victims rebuild their lives and their communities.  
I found these stories in the Lucas County Notes and Shakin' the Family Tree newsletter July-September 2006.  While I don't want to take away from what is happening in Haiti, I did want to take this time to remember another terrible disaster that many suffered from.
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was a major earthquake that struck San Francisco, CA. and the coast of Northern California at 5:12 A.M. on Wednesday, April 18, 1906. The most widely accepted estimate for the magnitude of the earthquake is a moment magnitude of 7.8

Chariton Patriot, April 26, 1906

Some of the former Chariton people, now residing in San Francisco have been heard from by their relatives here.  Mrs. Clave Bemiss, formerly Miss Daisy Crall, writes to her mother that she and her husband are practically destitute.  They escaped with their lives, but lost all their belongings, and are among the thousands of homeless people in the devastated city.  The letter of Mrs. Bemiss to her mother and a short note to Mrs. Curtis Clark from her granddaughter, Viola, are printed below:

Presidio, San Francisco, California - 
April 21, 1906

Dear Momma:  I expect you are simply wild wondering how we are.  We are alive and that is about all.  I sent you a message last night by a man going across to Oakland, for we can get no wire from here.  Nobody knows what the people have suffered here and are going through with now.  First the terrible earthquake came and shook nearly half of all the buildings in the city to the ground.  I will never forget it to my dying day.  The whole city was in panic and our hotel rocked so we had to hold ourselves in the bed to keep from being thrown out and killed.  Then the town caught on fire and the whole city is burned to the ground and people are homeless.  We are living in little tents and sleeping on the ground, and eating what the outside cities are sending us.  We lost every thing, of course, our hotel, trunks, and all were burned to the ground and we are homeless and without clothes.  God only know how we will ever get out.  Clave is so sick.  There were over one thousand people killed and burned to death, and we are mighty lucky that I got Clave out and saved our lives.   We had to walk about seven miles out here to the soldier's barracks to be taken care of.  We cannot find Nina but I know she is alive.  We have hunted but cannot find her.  The city is still burning, but they don't think it will reach here.  If it does we will have to go on boats and stay on the ocean.  Take care of yourself and dear old Grandma, don't worry, and pray that we will be saved.  Daisy.

(In 1906 the population of San Francisco was 410,00 and during the earthquake 3,000 people were killed and 300,000 were injured and left homeless.)

From Viola Clark, granddaughter of Mrs. Curtis Clark, 
dated April 20, 1906

Dear Grandma:  We are safe so far.  Walter had to leave his home, but was not hurt.  We have to stand in line to get provisions.  It is hard luck but thank God, we are safe; that is if the fire does not spread.  Viola

Chariton Sends Relief; taken from the Chariton Patriot, 
April 26, 1906

In response to an appeal for the San Francisco sufferers, sent to Mayor Connel by the citizens of Des Moines, the city council met monday night and voted a contribution of $100 for the city's general fund.  The council took this course instead of organizing to solicit from individuals.  The Patriot is informed that the board of supervisors will vote a like sum from the county fund.  Other contributions, so far as we have learned are ad follows:  Women's Relief Corps, $25; Lodge of Eagles, $25; Knights of Pythias, $10; M.E. Church, $10.

The Baptist people will contribute toward the relief fund, especially to Mr. and Mrs. Clave Bemiss.  Mrs. Bemiss was formerly Miss Daisy Crall of Chariton.  It is expected that all the Fraternal orders will be called upon to contribute to the relief of brother members and their families in the stricken coast cities.
His Earthquake Experience; taken from the Chariton Patriot, 
May 3, 1906

E.H. Lewis of the Patriot, is in receipt of the following letter from his brother, Charles, who was in Oakland, California at the time of the recent terrible quake:

Oakland, California April 28, 1906
My dear brother:  I have thought ever since the earthquake that I would write to you.  I mailed you some of the Oakland papers, and the reports of the disaster in the eastern papers have not been exaggerated.  It is doubtless the worst calamity that has ever befallen any part of the United States.
I was one of the most fortunate ones as I was living in Oakland at the time.  While the shock was felt just as much on this side of the bay as on the other, there was no fire here.
My room is an outside room on the third floor of a brick building.  I think I must have been awakened when the first shake came.  I jumped out of the bed and was shaken flat on the floor.  I caught hold of the window sill and got to my feet.  The chimneys and tops of near-by buildings were falling.  The plaster was falling off my room walls and ceiling and I expected bricks to fall through the ceiling every moment.  I was sure the building would go down.  I got on my shoes, grabbed my coat and hat and made a run.  I beat all in the house to the street.  I had on my hat, pajamas and shoes when I hit the street.  At tha,t I had on more than some others.
People were badly frightened.  I belong to that class.  Soon we thought it was all over.  I went back to my room, shook the plaster out of my clothes and went on the street again.  Our building had withstood the shock so well that I was surprised to see other buildings in ruins.  I saw some of the dead and many injured taken from the ruined buildings.
Ever since the earthquake, people have been pouring into Oakland from San Francisco.  Families became separated and the members do not know whether or not the others are alive.  The papers do not begin to tell of the terrible experiences of the people.  I went over to San Francisco on Saturday.  One cannot realize how complete the destruction is until he sees it.  There are ruins as far as you can see.  It's a "fright".  I leave for Denver tomorrow and will write you from there.  Your brother, Charles B. Lewis.

Friday, January 15, 2010

An Iowa Burying Ground

This appeared in the Chariton Patriot on October 28, 1891

     A few miles southeast of Russell is an obscure and rather neglected burying ground where the ivy angles up the yellowed and leaning marble shafts, with their moss covered bases, that mark the last resting places of many of Lucas County's early pioneers.  Here and there may be seen rugged mounds, covered with tufts of tall grass - the covering lies someone awaiting the judgment day - forgotten by friends who have drifted away, or perhaps, the last of his race.  This spot is sacred.  Six soldiers are buried here, the heroes of the four great American wars, who are awaiting the bugle for the eternal review.  One of 1776, three of 1812, one of 1846-48 and one of 1861-65.  William McKinley was a Revolutionary soldier, enlisting at the age of 16, was captured by the British and taken to Quebec where he was afterwards exchanged.  He died and was buried here nearly fifty years ago and is the early father of the multitudious McKinley Family and is believed to be the only Revolutionary soldier buried in this section.  Of the war of 1812 there are three - John May, Joseph McReynolds and Aaron Kendall.  The latter lived to be almost a centenarian and to see two generations of his grandchildren and was mustered out but little over a decade ago.  Peter Gittinger was admitted into the United States navy in 1838, and shipped in the Macedonia under Commodore Perry, from Annapolis, MD, for the coast of Africa in the suppression of the slave trade, and was transferred to the land forces during the period of the Mexican war, and afterwards stationed in California.  The only soldier of the rebellion buried here is Ed Hickox, a gallant soldier in the field who was cut down in peace by as incidious a foe as southern slave-holders-consumption.  So few in numbers, where is there a cemetery that better represents the war periods than this, and when the 30th of May rolls round again we will not forget this roll of honor, nor neglet to strew the flowers of spring upon their graves and moisten them with a tear, for
"On fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread.
And glory keeps the solemn round
The bivouac of the dead".
H.W. Gittinger

Friday, January 01, 2010

John Henry Curtis Family

     John Henry Curtis, the founder of the Curtis Broom Factory, was the son of Alfred and Sarah (Henley) Curtis.  
     Sarah was the daughter of William and Rebecca (Russell) Henley.  She was born in Tennessee in 1837.  Sarah died in Lucas County in 1864 and was buried in Douglas cemetery on the Bluegrass Road.  Alfred was born in Ohio in 1824.  Alfred and his first wife Ann (Minnick) moved to Missouri in 1851.  She died in 1853, leaving 3 daughters.  Alfred married Sarah Henley, November 13, 1856.  Alfred and Sarah moved to Lucas County from Missouri in 1862.  Alfred enlisted at Chariton in the 34th Iowa Infantry, leaving Sarah to raise the 3 girls, Mary, Desdemona and Odesta and their 3 small children, Anna, John Henry and Samantha.  He was given a medical discharge after being struck by floating logs in Arkansas.
      Alfred married again after Sarah died.  He and his third wife, Elizabeth (Warrington) lived on various farms in Lucas County.  In 1884, Alfred and Elizabeth moved to her mother's farm 2 miles west of Chariton.  He apparently was deaf because he was hit by an approaching train on the Burlington line and died Septemeber 23, 1884, at the age of 60.  He is buried at the Chariton cemetery.
     John Henry Curtis was born near Mt. Vernon, Missouri, October 28, 1859.  He married Mary Ellen "Mollie" Proctor, March 26, 1881 at the home of the bride's parents in the 700 block of Court Avenue in Chariton.  Mollie was born near Peoria, Illinois in 1861, the daughter of Thomas and Mira (Kimzey) Proctor.
     In September 1876, J.H. started work for C.O. Perry Broom Co.  It was here that he learned the art of sorting broom corn at the age of 18 - a trade which he continued to do for more than 70 years.  He continued to work for the Perry brothers until 1883, when he decided to start his own business.  He opened his new business January 1, 1884 and was making brooms just 2 months later.
     His first factory was in a cow barn at their residence on what we know as East Woodlawn.  That area was mostly prairie land with very few houses at that time.  They moved to a house at 215 S. 8th Street that he built.  J.H. moved his factory to a two story structure across the alley from his house, that was owned by his son-in-law, Dr. Albert Yocom.  On the first floor was a storage space for huge balls of broom corn, bleaching vats for the broom corn and storage for other supplies for the brooms.  The work room was on the second floor.  There was an open platform elevator to lift the materials to the 2nd floor.
     In 1926, J.H. built a factory on the rear of his home lot.  The old building was torn down.  The Curtis Broom Company made 5 or 6 different types of broom - the heavy warehouse broom; 2 or 3 different sizes of household brooms and the red-handled toy brooms.
     John Henry and Sarah Curtis had 11 children, 9 boys and 2 girls - Lewis, Arthur, Arlington, John, George, Paul, Dean, Jennie, Edwin, Elizabeth and Glenn.  The broom factory was surely a family business.  Lewis and Edwin worked for a time at the factory.  Arlington's wife, the former Claudia Downard, also worked at the factory.  Glenn started as a salesman for the firm at the age of 15.  When he came home from his service in WWI, John offered Glenn one-quarter partnership in the company.  He sold brooms to retailers in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, but most were sold through Chariton Wholesale.  Glenn became sole owner in 1943.  Glenn's son, Wiley, helped out at the factory for a time.   In 1955, after 82 years in business, the Curtis Broom factory closed.  (the following is a note from: John Henry's great-grandson, his youngest daughter Elizabeth, (Betts) was my grandmother. I do believe there is an error, and, that is the closing of the broom factory. To my recollection, I believe the Curtis Broom Factory, J. H. Curtis & Son, closed in 1965. Thanks, Guy F. "Jeff" Bradley II)
     John Henry and Mollie Curtis were active members of the First Baptist Church.  J.H. served on the Chariton cemetery board for over 40 years.  While on the cemetery board, he purchased 44 lots for his very large family in the southern part of the cemetery.
     On March 20, 1931, J.H. and Mollie celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at their home on South 8th Street. 
     Mollie died at Yocom Hospital June 22, 1937.
     John celebrated his 90th birthday on October 28, 1949, receiving over 200 birthday cards.  He died the following June 21st at Yocom Hospital leaving his surviving 9 children, 23 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren to mourn him.

B.F. Bates and Chariton's Bates Hotel

According to the Chariton Patriot of January 14, 1874, B.F. Bates traded for property just off the northwest corner of the Chariton square with Mrs. Eliza J. Mitchell for 2 lots and a house north of Thompson's Lumber Yard and $300 in cash.  The lot, located next to the C.B. and Q. Railroad would be the site of a new hotel, the Bates House, at a cost of $12,000.
     The hotel, 50x70 feet, made of brick, was 3 stories high and was located at the present day site of Midwest Heritage Bank.  When the hotel opened in November of 1874, it had 50 rooms.  Each room had wool and wire mattresses and patterned carpet.  The furniture was made of ash and trimmed in black walnut.
     Benjamin Franklin Bates came to Chariton shortly after the Civil War.  He was born in New York to Nehemiah and Elizabeth (Barnes) Bates on February 26, 1828.  On May 14, 1849, B.F. married Emma Augusta Lounsbery from nearby Stamford, CT, the daughter of Stephen and Sallie Lounsbery.
     On arrival to Chariton, Bates ran Hatcher House, a hotel which was located on the southeast corner of the square.  After several years in this business, they moved to Creston for a time where he operated the Depot Hotel.
     Five years after moving back to Chariton and opening his new hotel, B.F. and Emma went on a trip to San Francisco.  While there, they adopted a 2 year-old named Gussie in March of 1879.  Sadly, Emma died on June 27, 1883 leaving B.F. and their young daughter to mourn her.
     On February 12, 1885, B.F. married Mary Rizer, the widow of Capt. W.L. Robison.  Capt. Robison was Mary's second husband.  She married Chariton's Dr. Henry Jay in 1859.  Dr. Jay died in 1868.  both men are buried in the Chariton Cemetery.  
     B.F. and Mary were very active in the Methodist Episcopal Church.  She was a member of the church's ladies aid society.  B.F. was on the M.E. Church Board of Trustees in 1898, when the decision to build the current church was made.  He joined the church in 1904.
     In addition to his many church commitments, B.F. was a charter member of the Lucas County Historical Society.  Along with S.H. Mallory and former Lt. Gov. Warren S. Dungan, they formed the first county historical society in Iowa.  Bates served as curator with Dungan, the first president.
     Gussie Bates married William Beaumont Buchanan in October 1897.  Buchanan was a railroad express messenger.  To them, a son, Beaumont was born in 1898.  At the age of 7, Beaumont was run over by a horse and buggy, but was not seriously injured.
     After a brief trip to Chicago, in January, 1904, B.F. and Mary arrived home to find that the steam boiler in their home had blown up just prior to their arrival.
     Mary died in Chicago in Fabruary, 1905.  She is buried in the Chariton Cemetery beside her first two husbands.
     B.F. sold the hotel to B.R. VanDyke.  Bates continued to be active in Odd Fellows, his church and the Masonic Order.
     In February, 1906, Gussie had a birthday party for her father and 20 of his friends.  The table was decorated with red and white carnations and the cake held 78 red and white candles.
     On Wednesday, February 26, 1908, B.F. celebrated his 80th birthday with his 2 daughters and 16 of his friends with a 3 course dinner.
     Benjamin Franklin Bates died October 24, 1901 at the age of 82 at his home on west Braden.  Masonic rites were held at the largely attended funeral at his home.
     Gussie Bates Buchanan died in 1950 and is buried in the Chariton Cemetery beside her parents.