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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Charitone Hotel Title Sought

The Chariton City Council voted 4-1 to continue the process of acquiring title to the Charitone Hotel.  The same process that has been used successfully in the past to acquire other properties in Chariton that have been declared a nuisance under the law will be used here. 

The city attorney has not had further communication from the owner or his attorney since the last council meeting.  If the city is successful in acquiring the property, it also acquires any liabilities associated with the property.

Charitone Hotel Owner Misses Deadline

This article appeared in the December 9, 2010 Chariton Herald Patriot.  Written by Sandra Knebel.

Dec. 1, 2010 was the deadline for the owner of the Charitone Hotel, Charles Thomas, to provide to the Chariton City Council a current report from a structural engineer approved in advance by city officials stating that structurally the hotel is stable and does not pose a risk of harm to the public.

The deadline was set at the council meeting on Sept. 20, 2010  after Thomas and his attorney, Steven Huff, attended a public hearing for the purpose of declaring the property a public nuisance according to city ordinance.  The report was an opportunity to overturn the council's resolution made at the conclusion of the public hearing to declare the property a nuisance.

At the council meeting Monday evening, council members learned that not only was no report received, but it appeared that no serious strides were being made in that direction.

City attorney, Verle Norris, told the council they had a choice of a civil nuisance abatement action of  moving forward with action to acquire the property under Iowa Code Section 657.  He said if the council pursues the latter action, the city would have to take any and all responsibility for liabilities such as asbestos and environmental conditions.  The upside would be that the city wold not hve to pay for the property.  

After a very short discussion, Norris was asked to review the alternatives and provide a report on the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing action.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Electric Plant Gets Early Start in Chariton

Written by John Pierce July 28, 1992

The electric light plant was put into operation in December of 1889.  Before electricity, Chariton residents depended upon kerosene lamps, candles, carbide lighting systems or their own power plants ran by gasoline engines.  Whatever system was used, Chariton residents saw a lot of darkness.

The electric light plant was located at the east end of Braden.  It contained a 280 horsepower steam powered boiler and a 100 horsepower high-speed engine with two dynamos.

The cost of building the light plant was estimated at $13,000.  But the ending figure was in excess of $21,000.  Fifteen hundred dollars was the cost of building the pond and acquiring the land.

The area is now known as Yocom Park, but has been known as East Park, Flatt Park, Lake Como and simply the electric light plant pond.

The area the lake covered included the present ball field and the tennis courts.  The lake didn't fill with water until the fall of 1890.

The lake was a source of pleasure at once.  Jim Crowley of the Schreiber Carriage Works constructed a pleasure boat twenty-six feet long.  This boat was intended for the use of parties on Lake Como.

The lake was also a source of tragedy.  On July 4, 1898, Chariton residents along with people all over the country were celebrating news of the Spanish-American War.

People awoke to the sounds of fireworks as the residents were in a most festive mood.  Fireworks were legal at the time but the mayor proclaimed no fireworks between 9a.m. and 4 p.m.

A big afternoon was planned at Lake Como.  A recreation of Admiral Dewey's battle with the Spanish at Manila was to be staged.

Small battle ships made of wood and manned by local youngsters were launched in Lake Como.  The ships were armed with firecrackers and rockets.

On one ship was manned by fifteen year-old Harley Gartin, the son of ex-sheriff and Mrs. Charles Gartin.  In the excitement of battle with the large crowd cheering wildly, no one noticed young Gartin's ship catch fire.  It is likely that his clothes also caught fire and he was forced to jump into Lake Como.

Albert Stuart saw Harley in the water and tried in vain to rescue him.  All efforts were to no avail and his body was recovered 50 minutes later.

The electric light plant was not an instant success as not everybody chose to hook up to this new system.  Smith H. Mallory as always took progressive leadership by installing electric lighting at the Opera House in March of 1890.

Within five years discussion centered on whether the plant should be sold or continue to be run by the city quite often at a loss.  The cost of running the plant in 1903 was $7,300, while receipts brought in only $5,500.

Impure water from the pond caused yearly repair of pipes and boilers.  In 1895 the cost just to deliver coal to the plant was $600.  The complaint was also that the light plant had been built too far from the business district.

In 1904 the piston head on the big engine broke.  Burlington was the closest place to get one made.  The old piece was shipped out by rail; the new piece was made and shipped back.

All this took over a week, meaning anybody in town who used lights from the light plant did not have them.  The light plant was a source of lights but at times was not too dependable.

As a result, customers were slow to convert to the new system.

Light poles were first placed upon the square, but starting in 1896, the poles were removed to the alleys.

in 1922 the Chariton Improvement Association recommended the light poles be painted.  The first six feet of the poles were painted black.  Then the next four feet were painted white.

By 1906 the light plant began to show a profit.  A second heavy copper cable was strung to the alley behind the Bates Hotel.  The first line ran south to the Glen residence.  It was now much more accessible for residents to hook up.  Most of the power up to that time was by steam or gasoline engine.

1904 saw meters required in businesses or residences where more than three lights were in use.  Prior to 1904 a user could request a meter or pay a flat rate.

The flat rate was set at 15 cents per 1000 watts and shortly dropped to 10 cents per 1000 watts.

Beginning in 1905 patrons were required to go to City Hall to pay their electric bill.  Day power also came in 1905.  Prior to 1905 the light plant was in operation only from dark until midnight.
 

The electric light plant had a steam whistle which was used to call linemen when trouble occurred on the line.  This would be considered an early paging system.

One long whistle followed by a short blast meant trouble on the commercial line.  The long whistle followed by two short blasts meant trouble on the north residential line.  The long whistle followed by three short blasts meant trouble on the south residential circuit.

Fires were also covered by one long continuous blast.  One Chariton resident noted in 1904 that when an alarm of fire is given, "Engineer Rose will cut loose with the ragtime whistle and keep up the music until the dead are awakened or until the living are entirely satisfied with the performance."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Smith H. Mallory

If you haven't visited this website, you may find it very interesting.  http://www.chariton.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Early Lucas County: Who were the first settlers here?

Another story written by John Pierce in the Chariton Leader, Tuesday, May 11, 1993.

Lucas County was formed in 1846 by the division of Monroe County; which lies directly east of Lucas County.  Monroe County at that time was known as Kishke-Kosh County.  There were not many objections to this name change.

Lucas County was organized on January 13, 1846 and was named for Robert Lucas, the first territorial governor of Iowa.

Much of the above history can be found in the various history books of Lucas County.  One fact this writer would like to examine concerns the first settlers of Lucas County.  Notice I said settlers, because more than one claim can be made for this honor.

William McDermitt, long recognized as the first permanent settler of Lucas County, arrived at the eastern edge of this new wilderness in September of 1847.  McDermitt had settled at Pella but felt crowded by the Dutch and had moved on to the frontier.  He settled in Cedar Township and established the town of LaGrange.

McDermitt died in Chariton on July 31, 1875, but not before he helped shape the direction of Lucas County.

One story reveals the hardships of those early pioneers.  This would have happened around 1847-48.  McDermitt stated that upon awakening one cold winter morning, the worst of all things, the fire had gone completely out.  In those days with no matches available, an ever-present fire was a life saving necessity.

McDermitt stated that the only thing to do was hitch up the oxen and load up a big kettle filled with chips of wood.  The nearest neighbor was 7½ miles away.  This ordeal lasted all day in knee-deep snow, but points out the extreme necessity of something we now take for granted.

A party of Mormons established a camp at Chariton Point in the fall of 1846.  Chariton Point is located around ½ mile southeast of the courthouse on the bluegrass road.  There is a rock marker at this point, which is near the Orie Noah residence.  The Mormons left in June of 1847 thus were not permanent settlers of Lucas County. 

At least four other individuals settled in Lucas County before William McDermitt.  James Brandon arrived in western Monroe County on May 10, 1843.  Thomas Brandon, James' son recalls when he was 16; they broke the prairie and planted nine acres of sod corn.  Getting the corn in the ground was more important than the erection of a log cabin, which came later.

In the summer of 1843, Brandon recalled how three men came from the west from what was later Lucas County.  The three men described themselves as bee hunters from Missouri.  The Missourians had crossed the Chariton River several miles west of the present town of Chariton.

The Missourians had to leave a lame horse near Chariton Point and told the Brandon's they could have the horse if they wanted to go doctor it.  The Brandon's followed the Missourians wagon trail to Chariton Point.  The horse was found but couldn't be doctored and had to be left behind

In the fall of 1843 or spring of 1844, the John Ballard family settled near the Brandon's at Dodge's Point.  Dodge's Point is now known as Iconium in northwest Appanoose County.

Ballard stayed at Dodge's Point until the spring of 1846.  At that time Ballard moved northwest and settled near English Creek in what later became English Township, Lucas County.

When the government surveyors came through Lucas County in 1847, they noted a small farm and cabin located in the east ½ of the northwest ¼ of section 12 in English Township.  The surveyors noted that the John Ballard family lived there.

John Ballard stayed but a few years before moving to Kansas where he died in 1859.  Some reports say he was killed by Indians while on his way west to search for gold.  John Ballard, perhaps the first settler of Lucas County, but always a true pioneer.

We might note that the surveyors record show that brothers Peter N. Barker and Daniel Barker were living in sections 11 and 14 of English Township in October of 1847.  There was a camp and the beginning of a house for Peter Barker and a house at Daniel Barker's.  No further record of the Barker's could be found after 1851.

One early incident, which relates to an early settler, was recalled by Thomas Brandon.  This incident happened in December of 1844.  A Mr. Ingram lived near the Brandon's and Ballard's in western Monroe County.  Mr. Ingram went to Missouri for corn and meal.  Before Ingram could return a knee-deep snow fell causing him to veer further west than he intended.

As no roads were established at this time, one can only imagine trying to find the right route in the heavy snow.  Ingram was supposed to return by where Moravia is now located but ended up northwest of Russell.  At least northwest of where Russell came to be.

When Ingram came to English Creek, near where John Ballard later settled, he discovered smoke and a small shanty.  Barely alive and with badly frozen feet and hands, Ingram was nursed back to health by persons unknown.

This leads one to believe an unknown pioneer was the first settler of Lucas County.  Perhaps Daniel Barker was already at his claim and nursed Ingram back to health.

Thomas Brandon later tried his hand at pioneer life by trading two heifers for land to be left behind by three Mormon families who were moving on in June of 1847.  Brandon lived there for a year selling out to one William S. "Buck" Townsend.

John Pierce is among many who are confused to who is the first settler of Lucas County.

Friday, December 10, 2010

John Pierce

I have been featuring articles written by John Pierce the past few weeks, so I would like to introduce you to John if  you don't already know his story.  Most of these articles  appeared in the early 1990's in the Chariton Leader Newspaper.  If  you would like to read more of these stories of early Lucas County, you can do so at the Lucas County Genealogical Society room in the lower level of the Chariton Public Library on Braden St. in Chariton, Iowa.  Ask for the book "Chariton  - The Early Years"  by John Pierce.
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John Pierce, who lives in rural Marion County between Chariton and Columbia, has been a history buff since his high school days.

Born in Chariton, John has compiled an extensive collection of historical information on the Chariton area.  He also has direct family ties to the Lucas County Historical Society; his mother, Marlene Stevenson, was the curator.

He has given talks on local history to various area groups.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Mormon Trail Passes Through Lucas County

This is another article written by John G. Pierce.  It appeared in the Herald Patriot on January 24, 1991.

     The Mormons started their westward trek on February 6, 1846 from Nauvoo, Ill.  Led by Brigham Young, this Mormon Pioneer Trail crossed 11 counties in southern Iowa.
     This first rail across southern Iowa is now in the process of being recognized by the National Park Service as a Pioneer Historic Trail.
     Finding the initial trail to be rough in nature, the Mormons who followed were advised to try a more northerly route.  This is when the Mormon exodus rolled through Lucas County.
     Starting near Iconium in Appanoose County, the northern trail took off in a northwesterly direction, reaching Lucas County about two miles north of the Wayne County line.  It should be noted that the area near Iconium was then known as Dodge's Point, and previously, Ballard's Point.  The northern route cut through the southwest tip of Monroe County.
     The accompanying map shows not only the main route through Lucas County, but two other trails to the north and the northeast.  There is also a short branch trail which runs south of Russell.
     The northeast trail may have led to a Mormon settlement just east and north of Attica in Marion County.
     The band of Mormons that settled near Attica left Nauvoo on January 20, 1846.  They arrived near the present town of Attica in March of that year, where around 100 Mormons stayed and planted crops.
     It was of this last settlement that a photograph was said to have been unearthed in the 1850's.  This photograph was said to show the golden tablets that Joseph Smith claimed to have found in New York in 1830.  This photograph could be seen at the Iowa State Historical Building in Des Moines, according to curator E.R. Harlon, as reported by a 1930's Knoxville newspaper.
     The other norther trail crossed into Marion County, just west of Newbern and then passed into Warren County.
     The main trail in Lucas County was used by the Mormons from 1846 to 1852.  However, many others were also using this trail.  Early settlers of the bounty and emigrants on their way to points west also followed the trail.
     This main trail went in a northwesterly direction to Russell after entering Lucas County.  The trail then went mostly west to Chariton, passing the site of the current airport before heading southwest towards Last Chance.
     The trail then heads toward Smyrna in Clarke County.  At Smyrna a trail heads south to Garden Grove in Decatur County.
     At Garde Grove, much work and restoration has been accomplished on the Mormon settlement at that site.  Paul and Karla Gunzenhauser have worked several years identifying grave and cabin sites.  Portions of the old trail can also be seen.  It is well worth a drive to see the wonderful results of their work.
     The trail in Lucas County was mentioned in the 1847 government surveyors notes.  These notes mark the exact location where the trail crossed section lines.  In between the section lines, one has to use their imagination and common sense to "see" the route.
     This writer and Ernie Edwards with map in hand, retraced the route across Lucas County.  We retraced by driving in a pickup on the closed road, but got a good feel of how the trail crossed Lucas County.
     One amazing fact was the ridge that crosses Lucas County.  I had the impression that wagon trains had to go up and down hills, just to cross the county.
     The only true "hill" and "valley" was southwest of the airport in section 33 and 34 of Whitebreast Township.  This area is known as Grave Hollow.
     A Mormon reportedly died of a broken neck, sustained in a fall from a crowded wagon.  Verle Reynolds tells of a nearby cemetery that could be his place of burial.
     There is a branch of the trail that starts near Greenville in Washington Township.  This trail was probably used after 1849 and heads west-northwest, joining the main trail near Salem Cemetery.
     Surveyors notes on this branch of the trail do not exist.  My other trail hunting partner, Charlie Turner of Columia and I "mapped" it out one evening.  Charlie used to run the Gamble's Store in Chariton, which qualified him to hunt for trails.
     Following some vague directions and a little common sense, one could find the probable route.
     This last trail crosses Honey Creek, west of the old settlement of Greenville.  It is believed that two or three Mormon children are buried on the hill just west of Honey Creek.
     N.W. Kendall recalled a 1911 Chariton leader article, telling about 15 or 20 Mormon wagons camped in the area for several weeks.  The graves remained as the wagons treked on westward.
     Chariton Point was the name given the settlement located on the northern most bend of the Chariton River.
     Six Mormon families totaling about thirty people elected to settle here in the fall of 1846.  That first winter, these hardy Mormons wintered in lean-to shacks along the Chariton River.  They cut elm and lynn trees for their cattle to feed on.
     In the spring of 1847, these Mormon families moved from the banks of the Chariton River to where the timber meets the prairie.  There, six log shanties were erected.  A rock now marks the general location of the site.
     This rock was one of two such markers erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution, in cooperation with the Historic Department of Iowa in 1917.  The other marker rock is on the lawn of the Lucas County Courthouse in Chariton.
     The Mormons who settled at Chariton Point sold the land to Thomas Brandon in June of 1847.  Brandon relates how he tracked three heifers for their claim.
     Brandon further related how the Mormons livestock hadn't survived the winter very well on the bark and small branches of the elm and lynn trees.
     No one can say for sure how many Mormons crossed Lucas County on their westward trek.  One early settler recalled counting as many as 300 wagons in a single day in 1851.
     Other early settlers noted that 100 to 150 wagons being seen was an every day occurrence.  If there were five Mormons to a wagon, that would mean between 500 and 750 Mormons a day were passing westward.
     Henry Giffinger noted that 25,000 to 40,000 Mormons probably passed through Lucas County.  That figure would probably be hard to dispute.
     As of this writing, only two names of Mormon settlers at Chariton Point have surfaced.  Thomas Brandon relates how he did business with a Mr. McGuff when he traded for the land at Chariton Point.
     One David Rowland, a much married Mormon, was supposed to have wintered at Chariton Point.  The body of a Lafyette Sherwood lies in the Last Chance Cemetery.  Sherwood was a Mormon who reportedly died in 1851 after being kicked by an oxen, about one mile west of the Goshen Church.     Other Mormon burial sites are supposedly located at Salem and the old cemetery at Chariton Point.  There are undoubtedly other burials along the Mormon Trail, which has been described as the longest cemetery in the world.
    
     The above map shows the route taken by the Morman travellers, from Nauvoo, Ill., to settlements in the western United States.  The solid black line shows the main route taken by most of the parties.  The dotted lines show branches of the trail, possibly to temporary settlements in Iowa.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Early Years - Lucas Co. sees large gatherings

This article was written by John L. Pierce and appeared in the newspaper on July 17, 1997.  There was an editor's note at the beginning.

(Editor's note:  The Chariton  RABGRAI Hospitality Committee has suggested that Friday, July 18 become "Time Day" as area residents prepare for what may very well be the largest number of people ever to assemble in Lucas County.  In keeping with the spirit of the day, the following article outlines some of the history of Lucas County as it pertains to large gatherings of people).

By John Pierce

     With the coming of RAGBRAI and the tremendous throngs of people associated with it, one begins to wonder if this will be the largest crowd to assemble in one place in Lucas County.
     Today's Early Years story looks back at some of the crowds of yesteryear.   Most large crowds gathered because of entertainment or joyous concerts.
     The Fourth of July has been met with much enthusiasm through the years.  It is the longest running celebration in Lucas County.
     In the 1850's and 1860's the Fourth of July was usually celebrated with a barrel of whiskey and firing of guns in the air.  The more whiskey that was consumed, the more gunfire there was heard.
     At least some of these celebrations included a horse race along the Chariton River.  Later celebrations turned more to fireworks and carnivals.  Fourth of July Celebrations probably peaked in the early 1940's.
     An estimated 12,500 people celebrated in Chariton in 1940  Another 10,000 people witnessed an enlistment of 16 Chariton men into the Navy on July 4, 1942.
Armistice Day Parade held on Nov. 14, 1918


     Another patriotic occasion with a huge crowd was on Armistice Day, November 14, 1918.  Lucas County residents lined the inside and outside of the Chariton square to witness a red, white and blue parade.
     From the accompanying picture appears there were almost as many people in the parade as watching the parade.
     Other occasions that brought hundreds or thousands of people together were Chautauqua's, revivals, GAR encampments, Farm Bureau picnics, county fairs, corn husking competition and sporting events. 
Meetings
     Chautauqua's flourished in the first 20 years of the 20th century.  Speakers from across the country gathered to lecture on a wide range of subjects.  Chautauqua's were well planned and surrounded by much publicity.
     Revivals were more spontaneous than Chautauqua's but equally well attended.  A temporary building would be erected on an empty lot and the revival would last several days.  Sadie Ansley of Russell remembers a revival held in an empty lot on the east side of the square toward the south end around 1910.
GAR
     Grand Army of the Republic held encampments throughout the State of Iowa.  Widely popular in the 1880's and 1890's, they faded away as the old Civil War veterans faded away.  By the time the last encampment was held in Lucas County only 45 veterans registered.  The year was 1921.
Presidential Visits
     Two Presidential visits brought out the people.  The first was in 1898 when President McKinley attracted a huge audience when he delivered his address.  
     The Spanish-American War had just been resolved and President McKinley was immensely popular.
     Feelings ran so high that when McKinley was assassinated in New York in 1901, a local blacksmith was run out of town, threatened by gunfire and a rope.  The unfortunate gentlemen had been overheard stating that he was glad McKinley was dead.
     President Harry S. Truman drew a crowd estimated at 7,000 people at a whistle stop in Chariton.  This was in September of 1948.
Visitors
     An early crowd that will be forever a part of Lucas County history was also the most violent crowd ever to assemble in Lucas County.  This incident took place in July of 1870 shortly after Sheriff Gaylord Lyman was gunned down by Missouri horse thief Hiram Wilson.
     Some local citizens wanted to hang Wilson as soon as he was caught, but cooler heads prevailed.  Wilson was lodged in a second story room of the old brick courthouse.  One resident of Chariton said the noise from the crowd outside the courthouse was like the wind blowing.  The noise would come and go.
     Bolstered by the inevitable keg of whiskey that was so abundant in those early days, the crowd broke down the courthouse door and lynched Hiram Wilson out of the second floor window.
County Fairs
     On a tamer note fairs have drawn a big audience.  Whether it was the 4-H Fair at Derby or the County Fair at Chariton.  The first County Fair was in 1856 and was held on the Rogers farm just southeast of Chariton.  These county fairs shouldn't be confused with the 4-H fairs held at Derby that were later moved to Chariton.
     The county fair was held on Osceola Avenue in the west part of Chariton from 1866 to 1880.  After 1880 the fair was moved to North of Curtis Avenue and west of Highway 14 until the fairground was sold in 1903.
Agricultural Draws
     Farm Bureau picnics that were held at the May Grove four miles east of Chariton were another occasion for people to get together.
Funerals
     On a more somber note, two funerals stand out for their large attendance.  One was the funeral for Dayton Piper, brother of the late Bob Piper.
     Dayton was a popular and well-known businessman of Chariton who collapsed and died while delivering the homecoming address of 1946.  Between 2,700 and 2,800 people attended his funeral.
     The other funeral was for the untimely death of John Bentley.  The 36-year-old Bentley was on an adventure of a lifetime, the gold rush of  1898  at Nome, Alaska, when he was killed.
     Bentley's father was A.T. Bentley, an early resident and longtime blacksmith of Chariton.  Early newspaper accounts say the majority of Chariton residents met the train bearing the body of John Bentley.
     There have been big crowds in other parts of the county as well.  Russell's fall festivals have drawn tremendous crowds through the years.  Derby, Williamson and Lucas have had their share of large crowds also.
Largest thus far
     However, by far the biggest crowd to assemble in Lucas County for any reason appears to have happened on Aug 2, 1924.  Estimates range from 20,000 to 30,000 people who paraded around the Chariton square and then rallied at Chandler Ball Park.
     The occasion was a Ku Klux Klan rally.  Klansman from all over Iowa, some in white hooded sheets, descended upon Lucas County.  Freddie Chandler remembered being caught in a traffic jam while trying to get home.
     Freddie, his brother Mickey, and their parents were in a buggy and were headed south on the old dump road to their home place.  The Klansman were rallying at the Chandler Ball Park which was located west of the dump road and south of present Highway 34.
     The Ku Klux Klan, while racial in  origin, appears to have been more vigilante in nature in Iowa.  The Klansman took it upon themselves to police elected officials and keep an eye on local affairs.  The local chapter was strong enough that the old United Presbyterian Church on North Grand Street was purchased for a meeting place in 1924.  Area headquarters were apparently located in St. Joseph, Mo.
     Certainly not everybody belonged to the Ku Klux Klan and several people were vocal their opposition to it.  Henry Gittinger, editor at the Chariton Newspapers, reported on the Klan activities but also poked much fun at the "Hooded Ghosts from Goblinville."
     The Ku Klux Klan also held a rally at Chariton in 1922, but 1924 was the larger rally.  Hope Gilrou recalls the later rally.  She stated her dad wouldn't let her go uptown while the Klansman were here.
     Osceola and Melcher were also strongholds of the Klan.  The Ku Klux Klan was at its peak in popularity during the 1920's but by the 1930's very little trace remained.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

William Henry Gibbon

He was born January 31, 1832 at Ellicott's Mills, Md.  He spent three years working in a dry good store as a clerk before he began reading medicine under his uncle Dr. Quinton Gibbon. 

William H. Gibbon graduated with honors from Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia in 1857.  The following year Dr. Gibbon came to Chariton.  He married Laura H. Gibbon at Beaver Dam, Wisc. in 1861.  They had one child, Anna.

Two months after their marriage, Dr. Gibbon was commissioned as an assistant surgeon of the 15th Iowa Infantry.  He was promoted to surgeon early the following year.

Dr. Gibbon and the nearly 1000 men of the 15th Iowa Regiment wintered in Keokuk.  Dr. Gibbon was in charge of the hospital with a measles outbreak one of the most serious of their problems.  There were 335 men down with the disease, and 20 soldiers died from it.

While treating many wounded, Dr. Gibbon and his makeshift hospital amongst the battles of the Civil War, became separated from his regiment along with the wounded.  They were attacked by an advancing line of Confederates and forced to flee.  Dr. Gibbon noted that he was a good runner as a boy, but never felt as satisfied with his speed as on this occasion.  While this group was fleeing, they came upon four abandoned cannons and with the help of Dr. Coynyne of St. Louis commenced firing at the rebels.  Dr. Gibbon and his squad then regrouped and fell back to Pittsburgh Landing.  Dr. Gibbon and the 15th Iowa Regiment saw plenty of action.  Besides the Pittsburgh Landing, there was Corinth, Shiloh and they were on Sherman's March to the Sea.

Dr. Gibbon told of visiting a friend who was in ill health during the siege of Atlanta.  While they chatted, Dr. Gibbon noted one could hear the occasional pink of a rebel bullet landing in the nearby dirt.

Less than 10 minutes after Dr. Gibbon left his friend, a stray bullet killed the friend.

One other occasion that characterizes the trials accompanying that Great Rebellion concerns Dr. Gibbon and his wife Laura.  Dr. Gibbon was captured in the swamps of Louisiana in September of 1863.  He suffered greatly from malignant dysentery and was delirious at times.

Upon hearing of her husband's capture and suffering, Mrs. Gibbons obtained a flag of truce from Gen. McPherson.  With the general's escorts accompanying her they reached the rebel camp after much delay and danger.  The rebels proved very difficult to manage and only by the clever strategy of the escort commander were they able to escape.

Dr. Gibbon was in an ambulance while the rebels pursued the group firing upon them until the rebels were outdistanced.

In 1879 the Doctor built the Gibbon Drug Store on the northeast corner of the square.  The brick building pictured here still stands in 1991 and was occupied by the Klaassen Health Mart.

Dr. William Henry Gibbon died October 2, 1895.  Ben Johnson of Keosauqua was the only member of the 15th Iowa regiment present at the funeral.  Johnson confided that during the War when he was exhausted from disease and hard marching, that Dr. Gibbon insisted he ride the doctor's horse while the good doctor walked.

After the death of her husband, Laura Gibbon ran the drug store until October of 1912 when R.W. Ady purchased it.  Laura Gibbon gave much time and labor to the marking of the Mormon Trail.  She died December 24, 1915.