Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Lincoln Township "wolf" hunts of March 1910

I wrote earlier in the week about the great Washington Township wolf (actually, coyote) hunts of 1910 --- part of a county-wide phenomenon involving hundreds if not thousands of men. There had been wolf hunts before and there would be wolf (and fox) hunts later, but for some reason 1910 was the peak year.

The photos here, also from the Lucas County Historical Society collection, were taken on March 15, 1910, on the west side of the square in Chariton at the conclusion of the second and biggest Lincoln Township hunt, an event involving an estimated 500 men that had converged on Highland School east of town earlier in the day. Highland School was located a half mile north of what now is U.S. Highway 34 on high ground that in 2016 offers a view west over Lake Morris, then just a creek valley.

Although I don't know who was who, the hunters holding their trophies here are Amos Homsher (the younger), of Chariton, Jim Wright, of Cedar Township, and Charles Foster, I believe of English.

The Lincoln hunts were the closest conducted to Chariton and, therefore, the most thoroughly covered by Chariton newspapers. So I'm going to transcribe a sequence of short articles this morning that demonstrate how they were organized and conducted.

The first of the Lincoln Township hunts, held on Tuesday, March 8, 1910, was announced in The Chariton Leader of March 3 as follows:

"The citizens of Lincoln and adjoining townships have decided to hold a circular wolf hunt or drive on Tuesday next, March 8, the territory to be surrounded extending from the Chariton river on the south to the north line of Lincoln township on the north and from Cedar creek on the east to the west line of Lincoln township. Let every one take part by going to the line at his nearest point where the following captains will form the lines: F.M. Holmes, Fred Post and Charles Shirer on the east; Hupp Brothers, Simon and Perry Scott on the south; Lawrence Campbell, G.B. Van Arsdale and Wm. Baxter on the west; Chas. Foster, Jim McDowell and the Smith brothers on the north. Lines to be formed and ready to march at 9 o'clock a.m., aiming to close up at a point in the vicinity of the Highland school house. Rifles and long-range guns forbidden; responsible parties may carry shotguns. Dogs not allowed inside the circle. Wolves have been seen daily inside these lines and on one occasion three were seen in one bunch."

Here's a report on that first Lincoln Township hunt published, along with plans for the second, in The Herald-Patriot of March 10, 1910:

"The Lincoln township wolf hunt Tuesday was a most enjoyable affair. Fully three hundred men and boys participated, gathering toward the Highland school house from all corners of the township. Six or eight wolves were sighted during the hunt, but no shooting was allowed until the roundup, and by that time only two wolves were inside the ring. One of these was shot by Roy White, and the other was wounded, but escaped. The bounty will be $5 for the captured wolf. The fun more than paid for the trouble of the hunt, and if the wounded wolf will but tell his mates that they better leave the county, the benefits of the hunt will be still further increased. The Lincoln township wolf hunt will be repeated next Tuesday, March 15, with the same leaders, the same places for starting, and the same round-up, near the Highland school. Hunt will start at nine o'clock a.m. Everybody bring a shotgun, but no dogs allowed. Hunters' licenses are not necessary. Anybody can join the hunt. A meeting will be held at the court house Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock to complete the arrangements."

And finally, here's a report about the hunt of March 15, published in The Herald-Patriot of Thursday, March 17:

"The first wolf hunt in Lincoln township, about ten days ago, resulted in killing only one wolf, though seven or eight were scared up. the lines were not drawn closely enough, and many escaped. Last Tuesday the hunt was repeated, this time over 500 men taking part in it, many of them being from Chariton, and the lines were formed along the four sides of the township, and slowly drew toward the center. As a result, six or seven wolves were sighted, and three were caught in the human net and shot.

"They were brought to town and exhibited by the lucky marksmen, Amos Homsher, Jim Wright, of Cedar township, and Chas Foster, and after the bounty of $5.00 each had been secured from the county auditor, the bodies were put up at auction for their hides. I. Assman, the fur dealer, bid them all in at $5.00 apiece, which swelled the receipts of the hunt to $30. This sum was expended in having a large number of pictures taken of the three wolves as they appeared on exhibition, and these pictures will be distributed to heads of families who participated in the hunt. The pictures can be had at Beaman's drug store.

"Another big wolf hunt is being planned for Warren and Benton townships next Tuesday. There are still said to be several wolves not far from town, some claiming that a band of fifteen or sixteen wolves has been committing depredations there. A meeting will be held in the assembly room at the court house next Saturday afternoon at two o'clock to plan the hunt.

"Later --- Still another wolf hunt is being planned for English township for next Tuesday. The south line will be the south line of the township, the west line will be along Little Whitebreast, the east line along the east side of the township, and the north line about three miles north of Newbern. A meeting will be held at Newbern Saturday night at eight o'clock to arrange details. The round-up will be in the vicinity of the Cain church."

The photographs were taken just north of the alley on the west side of the square with the Manning & Penick Building and the Lockwood Building in the background.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Simple savory soup for a cold winter day

This is a recycled recipe, first posted here during 2014 --- but there's fresh snow on the ground this morning and the temperature is headed below zero overnight. It's a good day for soup.

The soup goes together easily, needn't simmer that long, is both tasty and healthy and doesn't produce a huge amount. I've already had one bowlful and have four more lined up in containers in the refrigerator to intersperse with other stuff during the next few days. Here are the ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic (sliced, diced, crushed or whatever)
1 12-ounce package of chicken sausage
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans
2 cups chicken broth
1 bunch of fresh kale
Salt and pepper to taste

I cook this in the Blue Beast --- a Lodge-brand dutch oven that requires two people to carry from place to place (well, not quite). The original recipe called for "Italian" chicken sausage, but I've been experimenting with other flavors and have been using apple lately because I like its faint sweetness. I'm also using home-grown garlic, so the cloves are very large --- don't worry about the garlic, its power dissipates after the initial sizzle in hot oil. And I don't use extra salt in this.

Last time I posted this, there was a little confusion about chicken sausage. You'll find this, four fat links per package, in the same case with hot dogs, packaged brats and other processed meats. Hy-Vee stocks two brands --- its own and another.

Anyhow, heat the oil to medium high in the pot then toss in the garlic (I slice mine thinly) and cook a little. Slice the sausage links and throw those in with the oil and garlic and brown.

Add the tomatoes, the beans (drained and rinsed) and the chicken broth. Rinse and tear into pieces the kale, discarding the stems, and stir in --- I use lots of kale. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for at least an hour.

You're done! The soup can simmer longer; just be careful about dissipating the liquid. It reheats beautifully.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The great Russell "wolf hunt" of 1910

A substantial percentage of Lucas County's menfolk went nuts during 1910 for one reason or another, grabbed their shotguns and upon multiple occasions headed for specified townships to form huge circles around big chunks of territory, march toward each other and then, perhaps, shoot a "wolf" (while somehow managing not to shoot each other).

These were the great "wolf hunts" of 1910 --- one round in March and early April and another during December. The photo here, from the Lucas County Historical Society collection, shows participants in one of the Washington Township hunts, but I'm not sure which since there were at least three hunts in the territory around Russell that year, one in early March, another on April 5 and a third in early December. I'm guessing that the photo was taken (by Robert Crowley) at the end of the early March hunt. Other hunts in Warren, Benton, English and Lincoln townships were reported upon in the Chariton newspapers, too --- and there probably were more.

The estimated number of participants in these hunts ranged from 100 men to 800. There was one major ground rule --- shotguns only, no rifles or other "high-powered" weapons. Each hunt resulted in the deaths of at the most three unfortunate "wolves" and during some, none were sighted. The Chariton Herald reported on December 8, 1910, for example, that "the big wolf hunt in Washington township was a great success, socially, but no wolves were caught or even sighted." I'm guessing that, at the most, two dozen of the critters fell across the county during that banner year.

Keep in mind that Lucas County's great white hunters actually weren't stalking wolves --- the Great Plains wolf, which once roamed the western two-thirds of the state, had departed with the buffalo. There may have been a few gray (timber) wolves still around in northeast Iowa, but if so their numbers were very small. The hunters actually were after coyotes, which some called "prairie wolves."

Iowa settlers had hunted both wolves and coyotes aggressively from the start --- viewing them as major threats to smaller livestock, principally sheep. At the time of the 1910 hunts, there was a $5 bounty per coyote carcass. Only the coyote, smaller than the wolf and in many instances smarter than those who hunted him, survived in Iowa --- and still does.


The bounds of all three Washington Township hunts were the same --- the state road (now U.S.34) on the north, the Monroe county line on the east, the Benton Township line on the west and the Chariton River to the south. Each line of march had several captains, in charge of seeing that the troops were efficiently deployed. On at least two occasions, a lunch wagon was deployed near the point of convergence to feed the hungry hunters. If you look carefully at this photo (right-click and open in a new window to view), at least one coyote carcass is on display. At ground level, those may be dogs --- or they may be carcasses held upright.

We even have a tongue-in-cheek report of that March hunt, datelined Russell, headlined "At the Call of the Wild," published in The Chariton Leader of March 10, and signed "Sport." Here it is:

Out of the east rose a big red sun, as glorious as ever graced the landscape in old Iowa, and that's saying a plenty. The air was motionless, crisp, electrifying. A calm, clear March morning. It is the day of the big wolf-hunt.

The Big Wolf-Hunt --- what an epoch in the history of Lucas county that phrase is destined to mark! In our mind's eye we glimpse the future, and with the mind's ear we hear our grandchildren reuminating like this: "Let me see, Cy Larkin has lived right thar fer jist forty years --- I know 'cause he bought that place the year of the Big Wolf-Hunt, and that was in 1910." This event, too, we surmise, will simplify the problem of "how old is Ann" for the coming generations. Open the Good Book and read from the pages of the family record, "Anna Jones, born three years after the Big Wolf-Hunt," etc., Oh it was great!

At eight o'clock men were associating the fact of the great hunt with their pecuniary interest in lambs, turkeys, pigs, calves, etc. At half past nine such trifles were completely eliminated from the psychology of the throng that formed itself into a human cable twenty miles long and encircling an area of thousands of acres. Now it was wolves, simply wolves, and the spirit of adventure shot round that ring in telepathic waves.

From somewhere way down the line came the cry: "Lookout, lookout, he's coming east --- tighten up the line --- bang, bang, bang, bang." We glimpsed him for one supreme moment, then he dropped out of sight into the great interior. But he was within the circle, and the word persisted in coming to us from both right and left that the line was tight the entire way around. If not before, then certainly at the finish he would have to give an account of himself.

Slowly but impatiently we advanced through timber, underbrush and across the prairie. Sometimes we would rise to a high point, a meadow or a cornfield, and always the human dragnet stretched away unbroken until it disappeared beyond a hill or into the woods. Ever and anon, too, we would glimpse a section of the line, two, three, four miles away, and coming toward us, their gun-barrels glistening in the sunlight. Rabbits were literally kicked out of the way, and quails looked like pesky flies against the larger perspective.

At last, nigh upon noon, there is a sound as of cannonading, and the word comes rolling in that our neighbors a mile to the right have killed a wolf. No sooner have we swallowed the lump in our throats than another bombardment takes place to our left, followed by a "Lookout, lookout down east --- he's coming east." Guns are raised along our quarter and after the clickety-clack of preparation there comes a moment when the air is tense with the hush of expectancy, followed by a babble of excitement as the wolf rounds a point three hundred yards toward the center and speeds straight toward us. Our turn has come. Bang, bang, bangety-bang. A hundred volleys tear up the ground 'round about him. He turns and shoots like an arrow at right angles with our line and vanishes behind a clump of brush, unharmed.

By this time the ring is less than a mile across and things are happening fast. Way down on the bottom at the southwest extremity of the circle we catch glimpses of a conflict between a monster wolf and a long-eared hound. Along a grassy slope to the north speeds another wolf with a dog at his flank. The sport gets so thick that we can't see it all, much less relate it. Oh, you should have been there!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Shrove Tuesday pancakes!

Thanks to our highly efficient wait staff --- some dozen Girl Scouts from the troop home-based in our parish hall with two Cub Scouts tossed in for good measure. 

And to all who came and ate last evening during St. Andrew's Shrove Tuesday pancake supper. It had been a cold day and we were happy to see so many people.

And to Hy-Vee, too, which donated the ham --- especially tasty this year.

I didn't get the head count (busy washing dishes), but did hear that between $350 and $400 was raised for the Ministry Center Food Bank, where all the proceeds of this annual event go.

There was no conflict either in the parish hall, where food was served, or in the kitchen --- despite a slight difference in pancake philosophy between the two cooks. Sherry Steinbach prefers three larger pancakes to a grill (therefore just two on a plate for the initial serving); Bill Gode, six pancakes per grill, three cakes on the first plate.

Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday is an English tradition --- over there, it was "Pancake Day" yesterday --- carried forward over here by many Episcopal, and other, churches.

There are differences, however, between pancake types. American pancakes are fat and poofy, served with butter and syrup. English pancakes are thinner, somewhere between an American cake and a thin French crepe, and traditionally are served with just lemon juice and sugar. Here's a slightly whacky English video that demonstrates the proper English technique.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Chariton's Amazing Rabbi Gendler, Part 2

This is the second of two posts about Rabbi Everett Gendler, born in Chariton during 1928, and his family, parents Max and Sara and sister, Annette, and others. The Max Gendler family lived in Chariton until 1939, when they moved to Des Moines. Their principal business was Gendler grocery, located on the southeast corner of the square in the building that now houses Chariton Floral.


When the last post ended, in 1936, Max Gendler had sold his Chariton grocery operation to two gentlemen from Lamoni, Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg. The store reopened as the Chariton Supply Store and prospered.

Hyde & Vredenburg incorporated during 1938, with 15 stores and headquarters in Lamoni, In 1945, company headquarters were moved to Chariton when the Chariton Wholesale Co. was purchased. And in 1952, all of those "Supply Stores" became Hy-Vee. Hy-Vee, today, operates 240 supermarkets across the upper Midwest. Although headquarters now are located in West Des Moines, it remains Lucas County's largest employer.

Max Gendler, meanwhile, turned his attention full time to his dairy operation. In 1936, he offered the only pasteurized milk available commercially in Chariton --- up to half the milk sold in the United States at the time and until after World War II was "raw." He may have been ahead of his time, since the pasteurized product was slightly more expensive. Whatever the cause, he closed out the dairy operation during 1937.

His next enterprise was a used car dealership, located at the intersection of North Grand and Roland. Then he went to work as a salesman for the A.D. Busick Quarry at Osceola, then for Concrete Material and Construction Co., Des Moines. Principal offerings were agricultural lime and crushed limestone.

During 1939, the Gendlers moved from Chariton to Des Moines.


Everett Gendler, who had begun his education as "Gene" Gendler at Garfield Elementary, went on to graduate from Des Moines Roosevelt High School in 1946 and earn a B.A. degree from the University of Chicago before enrolling at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City, where he was ordained a Conservative rabbi upon graduation during June of 1957. He met and married Mary Loeb during 1964 and they have two daughters.

I'm not even going to attempt to write about Rabbi Gendler's career --- much has been written about his philisophy, interests and achievements and that information is available to anyone who cares to look. One place to begin is the Web Site of "The Gendler Grapevine Project"  or his Wikipedia entry, which is located here.

Rabbi Gendler's first pastoral assignment was in Mexico City and he served other Latin American congregations before becoming rabbi of the Jewish Center in Princeton, N.J. In 1971, he became rabbi at Temple Emanuel of the Merrimack Valley in Lowell, Massachusetts, and in 1977 was appointed the first Jewish chaplain of Phillips Academy in Andover. He retained both those positions until retirement in 1995.

Rabbi Gendler has had and continues to have an amazing career, deeply involved in causes ranging from pacifism through civil rights and justice issues to organic gardening, the latter inspired by pioneering activists and simple living advocates Scott and Helen Nearing. 

He also is, more than likely, the only Lucas County native to have had more than a passing acquaintance with both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Dalai Lama.


Two other members of the extended Gendler family, their spouses and children were Chariton residents during the 1920s and 1930s.

Max Gendler's younger brother, Morris, whose interests were primarily automotive, moved to Chariton from Albia at about the same time his brother did. He sold used cars, then new cars, and built a new garage just across Grand Street west of the post office. He moved to Ottumwa during 1935 and remained in business there for the remainder of his life.

Max's sister, Dorothy, married Aaron Lewis --- and they were in the automotive business in Chariton, too, during the late 1930s. Sadly, Aaron Lewis, then operating the Chevrolet garage, took his own life in Chariton during August of 1940 and his wife and two young children moved elsewhere a couple of years later.


After moving to Des Moines, Max Gendler founded the Gendler Stone Products Co., which he operated very successfully from a capital-city base until his death at age 68 after a short illness during July of 1962, an honored member of both Tifareth Israel (Conservative) and Beth El Jacob (Orthodox) synagogues. Sara Gendler died in Des Moines during 1980.

Annette Gendler, also a Chariton native, married Dr. Stanley L. Isaacson, then teaching at Iowa State University, during 1952 and they eventually established their home in Des Moines where, in addition to serving as an associate professor at ISU he took over the presidency of Gendler Stone Products after his father-in-law's death. He became a leader of the Des Moines Jewish community, serving as president of Tifereth Israel and contributing to many other causes, Jewish and otherwise, providing an "ethical compass" for his community, according to The Des Moines Register obituary published upon his death at age 79 during September of 2006 in Sarasota, Florida.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Chariton's amazing Rabbi Gendler & Hy-Vee, too

Ok, so it's a little presumptuous to claim Rabbi Everett Gendler as Chariton's own, although like all true Lucas Countyans of certain ages (like me), he was born at Yocom Hospital --- on August 8, 1928. And he lived here with his parents, Max and Sara Gendler, and sister, Annette, until he turned 11. Then the family moved to Des Moines. But I'm going to stake the claim anyway.

Rabbi Gendler, now approaching 90, and his wife, Mary, are alive and well and living in Massachusetts, by the way. The link to Hy-Vee will become obvious farther along.

That's a youthful (at age 40) Rabbi Gendler --- both civil rights and peace activist --- at far right in the photo here, taken at Arlington National Cemetery during February of 1968 when 2,000-2,500 clergy and lay people, opponents of the war in Vietnam, gathered to pray for peace at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The others are (from left) Rabbi Abraham Heschel, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath (carrying a Torah). Dr. King was assassinated a month later, on April 4, 1968.

Rabbi Gendler also sometimes is referred to as the father of Jewish environmentalism, an interest that he traces in part to his boyhood in Chariton.

"I was born in Chariton, Iowa, and lived there eleven years: a small town surrounded by open country. Nature was omnipresent," he wrote in an essay for Volume II of "Torah of the Earth: Exploring 4,000 years of Ecology in Jewish Thought," published in 2000.

In another essay, contributed to Ellen Bernstein's "Ecology and the Jewish Spirit," published in 1998, he recalled the family Passover Seder in Chariton: "From as early as I can remember, each year our Passover plate had on it charoset, horseradish, an egg, a shankbone, a potato, and a bowl of salt water. Thus was the mandate from Sinai, rabbinically interpreted, played out at the Gendlers' table in Chariton, Iowa, the farming town of 5,000 where I spent my first eleven years. The familiarity of that plate was reassuring, and the potato dipped in salt water, eaten so soon after the sweet Kiddush wine, was just the carbohydrate fix that a small child needed to sit through those seemingly endless pages of prayers."


Everett Gendler's grandfather, Chaim Harry Gendler, came from Russia to the United States in the late 1880s, if census records are to be believed, when he was about 19. He then returned to Russia to marry Rosa Goldner and their two sons, Max and Morris, were born there. Harry seems to have returned to the United States after Morris's birth, earned enough to bring Rosa and Morris over in 1902; and finally, Max, who was the eldest, arrived alone.

The family had been reunited in Oskaloosa by 1910, where three daughters were born --- Ruth Charlotte, Dorothy and Frances "Fanny." Soon after 1910, the Gendlers moved to Albia, where Harry opened a grocery store.

It was Harry Gendler's younger brother, Phillip Meyer Gendler, who was the first family member to settle in Chariton. Phillip had been in the grocery business on Chicago's north side, but in part to be nearer family purchased G.H. Fletcher's grocery store on the south side of the Chariton square effective Feb. 15, 1921. A World War I veteran, he made a good impression by joining immediately both the Chariton Commercial Club and the American Legion post.

On New Year's Day, 1922, Phillip was back in Chicago to wed Natalle Haber at her parents' home and they returned to Chariton to live. 

Soon thereafter, Phillip's nephew, Max, moved to Chariton from Albia and went to work for his uncle. The Phillip Gendlers decided to return to Chicago after a year or two and about 1924 Max and his father purchased the Gendler grocery store in Chariton from him. By this time, Max had married Sara Whiteman, some six years his junior and the daughter of an Oskaloosa grocer.

Gendler Grocery flourished under Max's management and effective Feb. 24, 1926, he moved the business into larger quarters --- the Dewey Block, located at the intersection of Grand Street and Court Avenue at the southeast corner of the square (now, in 2016, the home of Chariton Floral).

Son Everett was born in 1928 and daughter, Annette, four years later.

The Gendler family was observant, affiliated with Tifereth Israel Synagogue in Des Moines, and when there was a conflict between holy days and business hours, Gendler Grocery closed.

Max was an entrepreneur, always on the lookout for opportunity; and during June of 1931 he purchased the former Dave Clark farm south of Chariton along Highway 34 near the Wayne County line and built a big new barn and shed capable of housing up to 80 cattle.

This, he developed into the Gendler Dairy operation. During June of 1935, he purchased pasteurization equipment so that he could process the milk and cream the dairy produced himself and moved the processing operation into a room at the rear of the grocery store.

During August of 1936 Max received an offer that apparently was too good to refuse. Two men from Lamoni who had developed a fledgling chain of 12 small grocery stores in southern Iowa were looking for a way to enter the Chariton market.

They made Max an offer, and he accepted. The sale of Gendler Grocery was announced on Tuesday, Aug. 18 --- very close to press time for The Chariton Leader. As a result the brief story about the transaction was buried on Page 8, where late-breaking news that did not seem to have earth-shifting significance tended to end up.

Had the editor of The Leader known the significance this sale would have for the future of Chariton, I'm guessing that more of an effort would have been made to find a place for the story on  Page 1.

The purchasers were Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg, Mr. Hyde and Mr. Vredenburg, Hy-Vee.

To be continued ...

Sunday, February 07, 2016

The Armistice Day parade that wouldn't cancel

Here are two battered postcard views from the Lucas County Historical Society collection of what turned into one of Chariton's largest parades --- held on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1921, after transcending organizational nightmares that very nearly scuttled it.

The event had been planned for weeks, organized by a committee that had invited nearly everyone in Lucas County to participate --- patriotic and civic organizations, all of Chariton's schools, all of Lucas County's rural schools, township delegations.

Then, according to a report in The Herald-Patriot of Nov. 17, Armistice Day dawned "the coldest, bleakest day so far in November." The skies were spitting snow and the wind was harsh.

Because hundreds of children were scheduled to participate, the organizing committee had promised to cancel the parade if the weather was bad --- and early on parade day an effort was made to do that.

The only method of instant mass communication at that time involved the telephone. Switchboard operators across the county got busy once the decision to cancel came down making "general calls" --- also sometimes called "line rings" --- notifying everyone who had a telephone and was home or at a place of business to pick it up that the parade would not be held.

As it turned out, this was a parade that refused to be cancelled. Many township delegations and rural school entries already were on the road, floats already were hitched to horses or motorized vehicles and ready to go, Chariton school officials notified the committee that hundreds of students were "rarin' to go" and the Grand Army of the Republic and American Legion boys --- veterans respectively of the Civil War and World War I --- were in uniform and ready to march.

So despite the weather, additional general calls went out and the parade launched more or less as planned, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The parade was six blocks long, processing on Grand Street south along the east side of the square down to Armory, west to Main, north to Braden, then right on Braden. Since there was more parade than there was square, a counter-march began at Piper's Corner, reversing the route for lead entries until the entire square was filled with parade participants.

The first postcard view shows the Grand Army of the Republic contingent --- surviving Civil War veterans with their own band --- who led the parade, marching south on Grand. The float immediately behind, pulled by plumed horses, held members of the Womens Relief Corps, the GAR auxiliary.

The second postcard view is of student participants in the parade, led by the Columbus School parent-teacher organization entry.

Following the parade, children went back to school and some participants went home --- but hundreds took advantage of meals being served by the women of churches nearest the square. Because it was so cold, the women collectively decided that coffee would be free to all comers. There also was an ongoing benefit at the southside Lincoln Theatre to raise funds to build a new American Legion post home. A late afternoon baseball game (Lacona won) and an evening benefit dance also were held.

A stand had been erected on the courthouse lawn for the afternoon program --- there always was an afternoon program during an event like this. But it was too cold. So the congregation of First Methodist Church opened its doors --- and that's where the program was held, inside the packed building.

Despite the difficulties, all involved pronounced the parade a great success. They just don't make Armistice Days (now Veterans Days) like they used to.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

More on CCC Camp Chariton

Yesterday's post was about CCC Camp Chariton, located in east Chariton from 1933 until 1941, home base for the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps corpsmen who built Red Haw State Park and developed thousands of acres of what now is Stephens State Forest. Now, thanks to Melody Wilson, here's more.

Melody discovered an outfit called Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy while researching her dad's service in a New York state unit, and shared this link to its Web site in case you are interested in discovering more about the Corps.

One of the links on this Web site is to a PDF version of the 1937 yearbook of Company 2715, which occupied Camp Chariton from the summer of 1934 until it closed. (Camp Chariton opened in May of 1933 as Iowa's fourth CCC encampment, but the camp was not winterized so it closed late that fall and didn't reopen until April of 1933. Company 2715 moved in during August and built the permanent camp.)

Most of this slim volume's pages contain generic history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but I've lifted four pages that contain a history --- up to 1937 --- of Company 2715 as well as photos of Chariton-based corpsmen who were serving at the time the yearbook was prepared for publication, including my uncle, Richard Miller.

I understand there also is a copy of this volume in the genealogy room of the Chariton Free Public Library, but I couldn't locate in Friday when I stopped in to take a look.

Here's a transcription of the unit history:

"The organization of Company 2715, CCC, was begun at Indianola, Iowa, July 1, 1934, and at the completion of the enrollment period July 12, 1934, the company strength totaled 229 enrollees. Conditioning of the enrollees began immediately and lasted until August 3, 1937. Lt. Marion G. Ferguson was the first company commander, ably assisted by Lt. Gorton, as junior officer, and E.R. Crandle, as camp surgeon.

On August 3, 1934, and continuing until August 4, 1934, the company moved from Indianola, Iowa, and to the new camp site at Chariton, Iowa. Upon arrival at the new camp site the construction of supply, headquarters and hospital tents were immediately completed. By nightfall of August 4, 1934, the entire command were comfortably housed in tents.

Under the competent guidance of Lt. Ferguson and Lt. Gorton the enrollees went to work to make a beautiful camp site out of a proverbial Sand Pile which by popular acclaim was nicknamed Camp Dizzy.

The entire company of men remained in camp for the first two weeks after their arrival at Chariton. With quarters constructed and grounds beautified moderately the company was then turned over to the DPE service to begin the work project. A.V. Wiggins was the first project superintendent, and assisting him were Foremen O'Harron, Lake and Leathers.

By September 24, 1934, the entire command was housed in permanent barracks buildings only slightly adjacent from the old tent camp and the new task of cleaning, policing and area beautification was immediately instigated.

No change in army personnel was affected until January 11, 1935, at which time Lt. Crandle was transferred to Indianola and Lt. D.G. Kelling transferred to this organization as camp surgeon. He departed this station July 4, 1935, and was replaced by Lt. Groen, who departed this station March 21, 1936, being replaced by Lt. Van Matre April 12, 1936, who in turn departed November 1, 1936, being replaced by Dr. Adams, contract surgeon, who resigned June 23, 1937. At present this organization's health is being administered by Dr. Pfeiffer of Leon, Iowa.

Lt. Ferguson remained in command until June 1, 1935, when he was transferred and Lt. Gorton competently took charge of the Chariton company.

Early in 1936 this company became Camp SCS-19, under the direction of Mr. J.B. Tracy as camp superintendent with the chief type of work being soil base maps and surveying, 29,565 acres; fencing, 3,564 rods; timber improvement, 73 acres; lime production, 2,828 tons; pasture demonstration, 79 acres; bank sloping, 30,016 square yards; permanent dams, 20; temporary dams, 40; seeding and sodding, 391,445 square yards; tree planting, 261,944 square yards; diversion ditches, 4,417 linear feet; terracing, 5.8 miles; bird feeding, 102 shelters; and many other types of work.

On July 1, 1937, this company became a forestry camp, S-104, and as such is now engaged in lake construction, timber improvement, etc. This endeavor is under the direct supervision of R.B. Campbell, camp superintendent.

Junior officers who have served as members of the command are: Lt. Swisher, 2nd Lt. FA-Res., May 17, 1935, until October 16, 1935; Lt. Warner, 2nd Lt. Cav-Res., November 20, 1935, March, 1936; Lt. Peterman, 2nd Lt. Inf-Res., May, 1936, to July, 1937.

With the inauguration of the educational department in the CCC Mr. L.C. Taylor was assigned as the first educational adviser Nov. 5, 1935. On August 16, 1936, Mr. Taylor was succeeded by Mr. C.R. Powell, who has continued since in that capacity.

The educational program maintains an average of 25 to 30 subjects and every member of the command is engaged in two or more educational activities.

The official personnel of the company at the present is Lt. Donald G. Gorton, commanding officer; Lieutenant D.S. Hull, executive officer; Lt. Pfeiffer, camp surgeon; C.R. Powell, camp educational adviser; and R.B. Campbell, camp superintendent.

A question was asked yesterday about the location of CCC records --- apparently enrollment records are in custody of the National Archives and Records Administration, St. Louis branch. Here's a link to the CCC Legacy page that contains links for use by those interested in further research.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Indelible memorials to CCC Camp Chariton

Chariton's east water tower, built during 1939 with 45 percent financing from Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal Public Works Administration, is the principal landmark along 1st Street now, towering over modest homes nearby.

But once upon a time --- not long ago, but beyond the memory of most --- hundreds if not thousands of jobless young men in need of a helping hand passed through a regimented enclave of military-style buildings just to the southeast. It was known informally as Camp Chariton, officially as Co. 2175, Civilian Conservation Corps.

Located a short distance back in the field east of 1st Street, this place thrived for eight years --- from 1933 until 1941. When it closed, mostly because a majority of the young men it served now were finding jobs in war-related industry and soon would be headed off to war, it left Lucas County and surrounding counties immeasurably enriched.

During its first years, from 1933 until 1937, countless erosion-control measures were implemented in Lucas, Wayne, Clarke and Decatur counties by corpsmen headquartered here and the Red Haw State Park dam was built. Then, emphasis  shifted to forestry --- completion of Red Haw park, development of thousands of acres of Stephens State Forest, even the front gates of the Chariton Cemetery were among the results. Hundreds of thousands of trees were planted.


The first 187 corpsmen, led by Capt. R.H. Slider of the 18th Field Artillery, arrived in Chariton by train from Fort Des Moines about 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 27, 1933, and were transported to the Camp Chariton site where they erected tents to shelter themselves for the night. By the next evening a tent city had sprung up. This was Iowa's fourth CCC encampment.

CCC companies were not military units, but military men led them at first in large part because they were experienced in managing large numbers of young men. A modified but not harsh version of military discipline was imposed. The young men were single, between the ages of 18 and 23 at first, later between 17 and 28, and from families that were in financial trouble.

They were provided with shelter, clothing and food and paid a wage of $30 per month. Of this, the corpsmen kept perhaps $5 a month to meet personal needs. The rest was sent home to aid their families. The men typically worked 40 hours over 5 days each week and were free to come and go on their days off. Most didn't go very far, in part because they didn't have any money.

As the weeks and months passed, a couple of temporary Camp Chariton buildings were erected in a distinct military pattern, but a majority of the camp's 20 or so structures --- including a kitchen and mess hall, headquarters building, recreation hall and library, infirmary, educational building, barracks, officer quarters, showers and toilets, and garages for unit vehicles --- were not built until the summer of 1934.

The corpsmen who were camped in Chariton during the summer and fall of 1933 worked on erosion-control measures --- terraces, ponds, etc. --- primarily for private landowners. When winter set in, they were transferred to winterized camps and the grounds in Chariton fell silent.

That changed during April of 1934, when nearly 100 corpsmen returned to the camp site. Their job was to plant trees --- nearly half a million black locusts to control erosion. When the planting season ended in early June, these men were transferred to another camp, in Corydon, and went to work there with a couple of hundred others on erosion-control structures.

Company 2715, which would make Chariton it's permanent home, was organized in Indianola during July of 1934 and on Aug. 3 and 4, 1934, its 229 corpsmen were transported to Chariton where living quarters consisted initially of tents. Because this was to be a permanent camp, work commenced immediately on the structures that would serve the unit through 1941. Because of the need for speed, local contractors and carpenters were called in --- with Clyde Best in charge. The camp was essentially complete by October 1.

Relations with the city of Chariton and its people seem always to have been amicable. The camp provided a welcome economic boost for the city --- and the young men were for the most part well-behaved, well-mannered and friendly. Residents were invited to open houses at Camp Chariton periodicaly. The camp was immaculately maintained --- and the men were expected to be neat and clean themselves.

The men came from all over, including some who were Lucas County natives. The minimum committment to the CCC was six months, but men could serve for up to two years if other employment could not be found.

Iowa's Department of Natural Resources has gathered a collection of oral histories from a few of the men who participated in the program, including some who served at Chariton. Their memories seem to be universally positive. They liked each other, enjoyed the work, respected their supervisors and were grateful for the opportunity. Some found "those guys from Arkansas" a little rough, however.


During July of 1941, it was announced that Camp Chariton would close on Aug. 15 and the men still stationed there would be transferred to Keosauqua. Several factors were cited. The supply of enrollees was drying up as more national defense work became available, Congress had cut funding for the CCC program --- never intended to be permanent --- and all scheduled work on both Red Haw and Stephens State Forest --- other than finishing touches on a lake in the forest southwest of Lucas --- had been completed.

For a time, Chariton's National Youth Administration program --- intended to prepare young people for work in war-related industries --- utilized the Camp Chariton buildings before moving back into town.

During October of 1942, a contingent of 50 Womens Army Auxiliary Corps members arrived at Camp Chariton to service some 60 trucks and other vehicles left behind when the CCC moved out so that they could be driven to Army shops and converted for military use.

The CCC had leased the Camp Chariton site from the Van Arsdale estate with the agreement that it would be restored to its original condition when the lease expired. That entailed removal of the camp buildings.

Otto Brown purchased the camp site as well as surrounding acres from the Van Arsdale estate during 1943 and the government gave all of the buildings to Lucas County's 4-H organization, which removed at least three to the fair grounds in Derby. The remaining buildings then were turned over to the city of Chariton.

After some negotiating, a deal finally was struck. Brown gave two-thirds of a block of land adjoining the one-third block on which the 1939 water tower sat to the city. The city kept two of the camp buildings, one for storage and another to use as a shop, then gave the others to Brown, who removed some, recycled others for alternate uses.

And that was the end of Camp Chariton. But every time you drive through Red Haw State Park or spend a few hours enjoying Stephens State Forest, you're interacting with living memorials to the young men who once called it home and helped build Lucas County.

Remember, too, that an estimated 3 million young men nationwide served in the CCC between 1933 and 1942, including a quarter of a million young black men, none of whom served in Chariton. Although the CCC program was integrated at first, local residents in places other than Iowa complained and in 1935, the program director ordered that all companies be strictly segregated.

Note: These snapshots from the Lucas County Historical Society collection probably were taken during late 1939 or 1940 --- aerial shots appear to have been taken from the new water tower completed during the fall of 1939.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

How about some Shrove Tuesday pancakes?

Somehow, while preoccupied with the Iowa Caucuses and moving a mountain of artifacts from one place to another at the museum, January vanished. Now, Ash Wednesday --- the beginning of Lent --- is almost upon us. 

If you're in the market for an Easter bonnet, you'll need to get your shopping done by Sunday, March 27 --- early this year. Forty-six days before Easter, Ash Wednesday (Lent is a 40-day season, but Sundays don't count). And one day before Ash Wednesday, Shrove Tuesday --- Pancakes!

At St. Andrew's Church, we'll be serving our annual benefit pancake supper from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 9, in the parish hall. Admission is by free-will donation and all proceeds will go the Lucas County Ministerial Association's Food Bank. Our Girl Scout troop will be doing the serving while we cook --- and they'll have Girl Scout Cookies for sale, too. So it's kind of a two-in-one benefit. All are welcome.

The tradition of serving pancakes on Shrove Tuesday seems to be English --- Shrove Tuesday is known as Pancake Day in England. Since Episcopal churches are Anglican, many of us serve up pancakes over here, too.

Lent, in the traditional church, is a season of penance and fasting --- far more austere in the early days than now. And in order to prepare for the Lenten fast, the observant --- rather than waste food --- developed the practice of feasting on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday in order to consume as much as possible of foods that would be restricted during Lent, including fat, milk and eggs, components of pancakes.

Shrove Tuesday, of course, also is known as Mardi Gras --- which translates as Fat Tuesday. The carnival atmosphere now associated with Mardi Gras came along later.

Whatever the case, join us and do a little feasting for a good cause on Tuesday.