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Carpenter, Cyrus C. - Iowa's Eighth Governor

Cyrus C. Carpenter

Cyrus C. Carpenter was Iowa's eighth governor. As a county land surveyor, military officer, governor, and U.S. congressman, Cyrus Carpenter was a prominent figure in Fort Dodge history. Born in 1829 to Asahel and Amanda Carpenter in Hartford, Pennsylvania, Cyrus was one of eight children, of whom only 4 survived past infancy. The Carpenter name was renowned in the Hartford area due to Cyrus’ grandfather being regarded as one of Hartford’s “founding fathers.”

After the death of Cyrus’ parents – Asahel in 1842 and Amanda in 1843 – Cyrus and his brothers lived with various relatives in the Hartford area. Cyrus Carpenter was educated in the common schools in Pennsylvania and at the Hartford Academy. He attended school for three to four months a year, teaching in the winters and working on a farm in summers to pay the Hartford Academy where he attended school. Education was always a necessity for Mr. Carpenter. In 1849, Cyrus taught school at the Hartford Academy. He left the academy in 1851 and moved westward, out of Pennsylvania. He stopped in Johnstown, Ohio, where he taught in a nearby country school. By 1854 Carpenter had grown restless, and like many other Ohioans, he packed his belongings and left for Iowa. Carpenter’s journey to Iowa included traveling by foot and stagecoach across Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois; by steamboat to Muscatine; by stagecoach to Iowa City; and by foot to Fort Des Moines.Although Fort Des Moines was regarded as a growing community, Carpenter was unable to find employment. Despite the promise of the growing community at Fort Des Moines, he found jobs scarce. After hearing of Fort Dodge 85 miles to the north, he struck out on foot for the northern fort. He found work as a surveyor on his first day in the small Iowa frontier town that would remain his home for the rest of his life. In 1854, an effort was made to have a school and C. C. Carpenter was employed as Fort Dodge’s first school teacher and he helped opened the first school in Fort Dodge. During this period, Carpenter also studied law with hopes to land in the profession one day. In 1855 Carpenter won his first public office as county surveyor. In addition to his surveying work, he soon became involved in the activities of the expanding Iowa Republican Party. In March 1857 Carpenter offered his assistance to the relief expedition to aid the settlers who had been attacked by Sioux renegades near Spirit Lake. By the conclusion of the relief expedition, Carpenter had become a fixture in the community's social and political life. In the fall of 1857 the Republicans of the district that included Fort Dodge had taken notice and nominated Carpenter as their representative to the Iowa General Assembly. Despite strong competition from Democrat John F. Duncombe, Carpenter won the election. ​During the Civil War, he was commissioned a captain, and rose through the ranks to colonel. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Carpenter was appointed Commissary of Subsistence, responsible for feeding Union troops. His orders included supervising the feeding of the Army of the Mississippi under the direction of General Pope in preparation for the advance on Corinth. He also served under Generals Rosecrans, Dodge, Grant, and Logan. On a 20-day furlough, he married his longtime sweetheart, Susan Kate Burkholder, in Fort Dodge on March 14, 1864. At the conclusion of the Civil War, Carpenter was elected register of the State Land Office and served two terms dealing with public domain and land title issues. With the Republican Party well entrenched in Iowa after the Civil War, Carpenter's political capital grew, culminating in his nomination for governor at the Republican Party State Convention in 1871. Carpenter won the election by a majority of over 40,000 votes. He was reelected in 1873. A highly popular governor, Carpenter is remembered for pushing to produce more industry in the state. He advocated for education at the State University and its great department in agriculture. As Governor of Iowa, he risked alienating powerful forces in his party by promoting railroad regulation, and he signed Iowa's Granger Law of 1874. The "Granger laws" which regulated railroad legislation were passed, and problems involving farmers and discriminating rates were also dealt with by Governor Carpenter. After leaving the Governor’s office, Carpenter continued to stay active in public service. He accepted an appointment as Second Comptroller in the U.S. Treasury Department and subsequently, in 1878, as railroad commissioner. He also served two terms as a U.S. congressman (1879-1883), one term in the Iowa General Assembly (1884-1885), and several years as Fort Dodge's postmaster. As a congressman, he was a vocal supporter of an unsuccessful effort to raise the Department of Agriculture to cabinet level and a successful effort to divide Iowa into two judicial districts. Otherwise, he seldom participated in House debates. After retiring from public service in the later years of his life, Cyrus Carpenter was engaged in the management of his farm and in the real-estate business in Fort Dodge. Cyrus Clay Carpenter succumbed to a recurring kidney ailment at his home in Fort Dodge at the age of 68. Governor Cyrus C. Carpenter died on May 29, 1898, and was buried in the Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Sources: *Biographical Dictionary of Iowa *University of Iowa – Iowa Press Digital Editions

Armistead, Major Lewis

Major Lewis Armistead Lewis Addison Armistead was born on February 18, 1817, in New Bern, North Carolina, and was raised in Fauquier County, Virginia, by a family related to United States presidents James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Benjamin Harrison. His father and four uncles all served during the War of 1812, with one of those uncles, George Armistead, commanding Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, where the famous "Star Spangled Banner" flew. Lewis Armistead, born into a military family of distinguished service and desiring to follow his father and uncles in an army career, was admitted on September 1, 1834 to the military academy. An untoward incident prevented his completing its courses. Another cadet, Jubal A. Early, later "a fire-eating soldier" for the Confederacy, is reported to have "insulted" him on the parade ground. At mess, in retaliation, Armistead cracked Early over the head with a plate and was, as a result, dismissed 15 Feb. 1836. Still determined to carry on the family profession, he was graduated from a military school in North Carolina and on 10 July 1839 became a second lieutenant in the Sixth Regiment, U.S. Infantry, commanded by Zachary Taylor. He fought against the Seminoles under General Taylor and also under his father, Walter Keith Armistead, and in 1844 he was promoted to first lieutenant.Note: Major Lewis Armistead’s father, Walter Keith Armistead was in military service, as were his four brothers. A member of the second graduating class at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, Walter Keith Armistead took part in the War of 1812 and the Seminole War, became the army's chief engineer, and at the time of his death, with the rank of brevet brigadier general, was second in command of the army. Armistead then served in Fort Towson, Arkansas and Fort Washita near the Oklahoma border. Serving in the Mexican War, he was appointed brevet captain for Contreras and Churubusco. He was wounded at Chapultepec, and was appointed a brevet major for Molino del Rey and Chapultepec. During the Mexican War, Lieutenant Armistead led the storming party at Chapultepec, participated in other battles, and won a reputation for bravery and aggressive fighting. Armistead continued in the Army after the Mexican War, assigned in 1849 to recruiting duty in Kentucky, where he was diagnosed with a severe case of erysipelas, but he later recovered. In April 1850, Armistead assigned to an Army Unit in Iowa to establish a new military post at the fork of the Des Moines River and Lizard Creek. In winter of 1850, he had to take his wife Cecelia to Mobile, Alabama, where she died December 12, 1850, from an unknown cause. He returned to Fort Dodge following her death. In 1850, under the leadership Major L. A. Armistead, the Quarter Master, and William Williams, the troops went to work to build a military post at the fork of the Des Moines River and Lizard Creek. Major L. A. Armistead, the Quarter Master, as soon as possible, brought on and put in motion a steam saw mill, also brought on a number of citizen mechanics, carpenters, masons, brickmakers from Keokuk and other Mississippi towns, there being but a few mechanics amongst the troops. The first three months all were employed very diligently at work. Great efforts were made to have the buildings up and habitable before the winter set in. They succeeded in putting up twelve of the buildings and making them habitable by the middle of November. The 20th of November of 1850, they struck their tents and took possession of the buildings. The following season the balance of the buildings, twenty-one in all, were put up and finished. On taking possession of the buildings in honor of General Clarke, then a Colonel of the 6th Regiment of the United States Infantry (to which Regiment the detachments belonged), the post was named Fort Clarke, (in 1851, the name was changed to Fort Dodge).The officers stationed at this post were Brevet Major Samuel Woods; Commandment of the Post, Brevet Major L. A. Armistead, Acting Commandary; Lieutenant Stubbs, Lieutenant I. L. Corley; Surgeon Charles Keeny, ranking as Captain, and Sutler William Williams. In 1852 the Armistead family home in Virginia burned, destroying nearly everything. Armistead took leave in October 1852 to go home and help his family.On May 26, 1861, Lewis A. Armistead resigned his commission in the U.S. Army and bids an emotional farewell to comrades, including future Union general Winfield Scott Hancock. Armistead told a disconsolate friend, "I know but one country and one flag. Let me sing you a song and drive away your gloom." He sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." However, when the necessity for choice came, Armistead did not hesitate to prefer the Confederacy. At Los Angeles he presented his major's uniform to a friend, Winfield Scott Hancock, then a captain and brevet major, with the remark, "Some day you may need this." They met later at Gettysburg. Resigning from the U.S. Army on May 26, 1861, Armistead joined General Albert Sidney Johnston and other officers who had resigned and journeyed with them across the continent from all the way to Richmond, Virginia. Armistead entered Confederate service as a colonel at Richmond. As a Confederate officer displaying conspicuous gallantry, bravery, and coolness under fire at Seven Pines, Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, and Sharpsburg, he was appointed provost marshal of the Confederate army. General Lee noted that Armistead was well-suited for such duty because, according to a colonel in his brigade, Armistead was a "strict disciplinarian" who believed that "obedience to duty" was "the first qualification of a soldier." General Robert E. Lee personally thanked him for the ability and efficiency with which he discharged the duties of that position. On April 1, 1862 he was commissioned brigadier general. On July 3, 1863, the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the guiding point for the Confederate charge was a clump of trees just beyond a low stone wall. Putting his hat on the point of his sword, Armistead mounted his horse and called in stentorian tones for the men of his brigade to follow him through a rain of shot and shell toward the Union position on Cemetery Hill. Famously known as Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, Armistead helped lead the frontal assault on Union soldiers. General George E. Pickett, who directed the charge from a nearby house, was not present to lead his division. Two other generals were put out of action. Armistead automatically assumed leadership. His horse was shot from under him, but he dashed forward on foot and was the first to leap over the stone wall. Some thirty-odd yards beyond the wall, he laid his hand on a cannon, with the proud announcement, "This cannon is mine." But he was then riddled with bullets and fell, severely wounded. Armistead was carried to a nearby Union field hospital where he died on July 5 from a combination of blood loss and exhaustion. The Union troops who fired the fatal shots happened to be commanded by one of Armistead's closest friends, Winfield Scott Hancock. His death was immortalized in the 1993 film Gettysburg and has come to symbolize the Lost Cause-influenced "brother versus brother" view of the war so celebrated in American culture. His body was buried in a vault in St. Paul's cemetery at Baltimore, Md. A memorial plaque was dedicated there in recent years by the General Lewis Addison Armistead Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, of Washington, D.C.

Williams, William - Founder of Fort Dodge

Major William Williams

(December 6, 1796 – February 18, 1874)

Starting out as a young and optimistic frontiersman, Major William Williams later became the founder of Fort Dodge and was Fort Dodge’s first postmaster and was elected the city’s first mayor in 1869.

A native of Pennsylvania, Williams was in charge of seven mercantile establishments after the death of his father. His real interests were less in business than in the military. At the age of 16, with his father's permission, he volunteered for the army during the War of 1812, but the war ended before his company could be called to duty. After the war, he applied unsuccessfully for admission to two military academies. He did, however, become a member of the Pennsylvania militia, rising to the rank of major, a title he used throughout his life. Williams was raised among frontiersman, and he was attracted to the opportunities the west had to offer.

In early life, Major Williams became well versed in military tactics and it was his desire to enter upon a military career. When sixteen years of age he obtained his father's consent to join the army but circumstances arose that made this course impossible. He visited both Pittsburg and Carlisle, where schools were established for cavalry and flying artillery. Events, however, forced him to turn his attention to a commercial rather than a military career and he obtained the position of teller in the Westmoreland Bank of Pennsylvania at Greensburg. After serving in that capacity for some time he resigned his position and began the manufacture of salts on the Kiskiminitas river. With his father's death, the responsibility of providing for and educating the other children of the family devolved upon Major Williams, a burden which he assumed willingly, recognizing at once his obligation to his family.

About that time he accepted an appointment which gave him charge of seven different mercantile establishments, the principal one of which was at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. It was while there that he was married on the 19th of August, 1830, to Miss Judith Lloyd McConnell. On the completion of the canal he moved to Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, where he opened and managed a store, and while there he was tendered a position of teller of the Exchange Bank of Pittsburg, a position he accepted, and he moved his family to Pittsburg. The bank determined to establish a branch at Hollidaysburg and Mr. Williams returned to that place to become cashier of the new institution, with which he was thus connected for some years. On the 15th of May, 1842, Williams wife died. At about that time, he was tendered the command of the Third Regiment in an Irish Republican plan to invade Canada in support of the drive for Irish independence. This regiment was made up mostly of officers and soldiers who had served in Mexico.

On the I2th of February, 1844, Major Williams was again married, his second union being with Miss Jeannette J. Quinan, a daughter of the Rev. Thomas H. Quinan. of Philadelphia. At about this time, accepted a commission to organize six companies. He traveled throughout the Midwest seeking recruits. The plan never came to fruition, and Williams, no longer employed and with few prospects in Pennsylvania, decided to explore new opportunities in the growing frontier. He headed west to a new state in the nation, Iowa, and began a new life.

In March of 1849, Major Williams, leading a company of one hundred and forty-one people crossed the Mississippi River and arrived in Iowa. Upon his arrival in Iowa, he made his home at Muscatine. During this time, Williams was contacted by military authorities who were authorized to establish a military post on the upper Des Moines River to deal with conflicts involving Native American tribes. Joining with three companies of United States troops, under command of Major Samuel Woods, Major Williams accompanied them, taking with him his son James Blakely Williams, then a youth of twelve years. Williams left his wife with his family in Muscatine until he would return. Too old at age 53 to enlist as a soldier, Williams accepted the challenge to establish a military post. In 1850, William took the position of post sutler (civilian merchant) at Fort Dodge, a post that was not very lucrative but did hold promise of greater future opportunities on the rapidly growing frontier. The military determined that the new fort would be located on the east bank of the Des Moines River about one quarter of a mile below the mouth of the Lizard Creek. It wasn’t until 1854, that Williams’ wife would arrive to Fort Dodge and reunite with him and his son James.

When the troops first came to establish Fort Dodge, with just a few exceptions, there were no white men east or west, north, or south. The whole country north, east, south and west was a vast district of country inhabited by the wild Sioux Indians and wild game. After arriving in the fall of 1850, some time was spent in exploring the surrounding country, particularly south, with the view of making roads to help get supplies by wagon to the Fort. In these explorations it was discovered that some settlers had worked their way up to Boon forks.

In 1850, under the leadership Major L. A. Armistead, the Quarter Master, and William Williams, the troops went to work to build the Fort Dodge. Armistead also brought on a number of citizen mechanics, carpenters, masons, brickmakers from Keokuk and other Mississippi towns to help build the new military post. On the 20th of November of 1850, they struck their tents and took possession of the buildings. The following season the balance of the buildings, twenty-one in all, were put up and finished. On taking possession of the buildings in honor of General Clarke, then a Colonel of the 6th Regiment of the United States Infantry, the post was named Fort Clarke. In the fall of 1851, by order of the Secretary of War, the name of the Fort was changed from Fort Clarke to Fort Dodge in honor of General Henry Dodge of Wisconsin, then a United States Senator from that state.

By 1853, once a treaty was established with the Sioux Indians and most of the Indians abandoned the area, the War Department determined it was no longer necessary to maintain the Fort Dodge military post. The troops were commissioned to move farther north to the St. Peter River in Minnesota to establish a new military post, Fort Ridgely. It was then that Major Williams, with financial assistance from Jesse Williams, a banker and land speculator, purchased the abandoned military post and organized the Fort Dodge Town company. Williams then began platting out a new town.

In 1855, Major Williams had informed Governor of Iowa Grimes of his fears that the wandering bands of Indians which frequently made incursions into the settlements might commit attacks upon the lives and property of the settlers. And the Governor had renewed the commission originally granted by Gov. Hempstead, authorizing him to organize and arm settlers to repel the Indians upon any indication, on their part, of hostile purposes. Major Williams was looked upon as the natural leader of the expedition. Two companies, comprising about thirty-five men each, were organized at Fort Dodge. And a third company was organized at Webster City, whither runners had been sent to inform the people of that town of the massacre and of the proposed relief expedition.

On March 8, 1857, a band of hostile Indians attacked settlers around the region of the two lakes, Okoboji and Spirit Lake. Their hostile purposes culminated in the massacre of forty men, women and children. The news of the massacre reached Fort Dodge on the 21st of March, and Webster City on the 22d. On the 23d the company from Webster City marched to Fort Dodge. On the 24th the battalion of three companies, under the command of Major Williams, left Fort Dodge for the scene of the massacre to rescue any of the settlers who might have escaped the massacre, and if possible, overtake and punish the Indians.

It is not proposed at this time to go into details respecting the campaign. Suffice it to say, that in all the stories of pioneer hardships and heroism, this campaign has had but few parallels in history. As has been said, the winter had been one of the severest known in Iowa. The snow was unusually deep. On the prairie level it was at least two feet in depth. And in the ravines and depressions was frequently from eight to ten feet deep.

In 1862, Major Williams was again called upon to organize frontier defense after the Sioux uprising around New Ulm, Minnesota, and he established Fort Schuyler near the Minnesota border in Emmet County.

When one considers that, from first to last, the command companies of civilian soldiers was as orderly, as ready to perform the most trying and dangerous duties as any organized force of regular soldiers could have been. It is not only a tribute to the men, but to the officers who commanded them, and especially to Major Williams, chief in command. He could not appeal to a court-martial to enforce discipline. He had no guard house to give effect to his orders. His authority was simply the moral supremacy of a manly and energetic character, and throughout the campaign he retained the respect and confidence of the entire battalion. Major Williams was over sixty years old, yet no young man, with any pride, could see all this without catching the inspiration which constitutes the hero.

Generally respected as strong leader and a man of high moral character, Williams's reputation suffered during the Civil War because of his stand as a Peace Democrat in a state that was becoming strongly Republican. His reputation revived in the postwar period.

William Williams was not a typical frontiersman. Limited in formal education, he nevertheless was deeply interested in the cultural life of his community, promoting music, art, and literature. Never successful financially and with little desire to become involved politically, he still enjoyed high respect among the people in the community. He was Fort Dodge’s first postmaster and was elected the first mayor of Fort Dodge in 1869, the only elected position that he ever held.

Major Williams was involved in many movements that kept the community alive and well. His pride in Fort Dodge, and passion for its growth and prosperity, were enthusiastic and unceasing. His efforts in promoting Fort Dodge’s growth and its improvements were constant and untiring.

He was a man of sincere purposes, of patriotic impulses, of generous intuitions, and he was never happier than when he was helping a neighbor or friend.

As a commander of men and as a community leader, Major Williams had an engaging personality and a wonderful sense of humor. He loved cheerful companionship, being himself a good story teller. He was especially entertaining in relation to men whom he had known, and events in which he himself had been an actor. And yet he never told a story offensive to good taste. He was a mimic and his power of impersonation was unmatched. And yet there was never any malice in his impersonations. They were simply an overflowing love of fun. His alternations in reading prayers in presence of the soldiers, in the absence of a chaplain, and the next minute admonishing some offender until it would fairly startle even an old soldier, afforded a peculiar subject for the Major's power of mimicry.

Major Williams and his entire family were musical. In the early days of Fort Dodge, the home of Major Williams was the only house in which there was a piano. Mrs. Williams would play the piano and the Major, with his violin, would stand by her side and enter into the spirit of the occasion with the zest of a boy. Up to the day of his death he did not "hang up the fiddle and the bow."

Major Williams, as a pioneer leader, the first postmaster and the first mayor of Fort Dodge, coordinated and led so many events and activities which tended to advance the interests of the community. No man was ever been more committed or dedicated to the future of Fort Dodge than Major William Williams. During the latter years of his life he lived retired, enjoying a well-earned and well merited rest. A man of liberal education and of high moral character, he was also of a genial disposition and kindly spirit. These combined qualities well fitted him for leadership and he left a legacy of his individuality for good upon the community in which he made his home. (Interesting note: Major Williams’ younger brother, Joseph from Muscatine, was an Iowa Supreme Court Justice from 1846-1855.)

Major Williams and his family lived his life in Fort Dodge until his death in 1874. He died at the age of 78, leaving his wife, two sons James and William, and one daughter Mary (Wife of J. F. Duncombe). Major Williams was laid to rest at the Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge.

An original painting of Major Williams remains on display at the Smeltzer House in Fort Dodge.


*History of Fort Dodge and Webster County… by Major Wm. Williams, Edited by Edward Breen

*Annals of Iowa…State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs... Volume 2 Number 2 (1895) written by Cyrus C. Carpenter

Oleson, O.M.

O.M. Oleson 1849 – 1943 Olaf Martin Oleson was born on June 29, 1849 near the city of Stenkjer, Norway. Born the son of a teacher and farmer, Olaf enjoyed gardening and caring for the land. In 1870, at the age of 20, O.M. Oleson migrated to the United States joining the hundreds of thousands of Norwegians who flocked to the U.S. shores during the 19th century. At the time he migrated to the United States, Oleson had cash resources of less than one dollar, hoping such a move would afford him a better opportunity. O.M.Oleson came directly to Fort Dodge and after working on area farms and a retail drug business; he understood the importance of an education and decided to attend the Philadelphia School of Pharmacy. After graduating with honors in 1876, O.M. Oleson returned to Fort Dodge and established the Oleson Drug Company, a company that remained in business at the same location until 1965. - Married Lucy Deming Merrill in 1895. They had no children. Lucy died in 1904. Mr. Oleson was an American pioneer who quickly became a progressive and successful businessman and entrepreneur. After graduating with honors in 1876 from the Philadelphia School of Pharmacy, O.M. Oleson returned to Fort Dodge and established the Oleson Drug Company, a company that remained in business at the same location until 1965. The same year that he graduated (1876), Oleson attended the Philadelphia Centennial International Exposition, the first official World's Fair in the United States and he saw his first electric light and his first telephone. The lights and telephone interested him in their commercial possibilities so it was logical that in connection with the drug company he organized and operated, he was one of the founders of the Fort Dodge Light and Power company and the Fort Dodge Telephone Company. Oleson was also instrumental in the development of other local businesses such as the O.M. Oleson Land Company, the Fort Dodge Hotel Company, and the Iowa Trust and Livestock Company. He was an early shareholder in the Norwegian American Line which was a cruise ship line, founded in 1910, that ran a regular transatlantic service between Norway and the United States. Oleson also had a keen interest in politics and served in the Iowa Senate. From 1892-1896, Oleson served with integrity in the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth General Assemblies, representing the Twenty-seventh Senatorial District. He was recognized by his colleagues as an honorable statesman. Oleson was asked to run for U.S. Congress but declined. In 1907, O.M. Oleson married Julie Halsted Haskell, a Fort Dodge native, and together, they began a long and admired tradition of philanthropy. Combining their assets for the good of the community, O.M. and Julie Oleson were strong advocates for the advancement of the city providing significant support for the building of Lutheran Hospital and the new Congregational Church, as well as their gift of land for what is now Oleson Park, a renowned city park in Fort Dodge. Over the course of their lifetime, many other community services and city ventures benefited from the generosity of the Olesons. In 1943, O.M. Olsen died at the age of 94. Following his death, Julie Oleson by virtue of her own inclination and by the expressed testamentary wishes of her esteemed husband, continued the Oleson tradition of philanthropy, supporting the YMCA, the YWCA, Friendship Haven, Lutheran Hospital and other public welfare institutions, both during her lifetime and at her death. Memorial services for O.M. Oleson were held September 5, 1948 at Oleson Park. A Memorial stands in the form of a monolithic monument, An arch of trees, dominated by a large elm, frames the structure which is the background for a story in sculpture of O.M. Oleson’s life. Clifton Adams, well-known sculptor, made six panels that are incorporated in the monument, each panel depicting a period in Mr. Oleson’s life. The panels show Oleson as a boy in Norway, later, as a young man on an Iowa farm, as a pharmacist standing by the scales in his own drug store, as a botanist with his books in his library, and with a group of Norwegian singers in the full regalia of their sangerfest uniforms. Beneath the panels there is a nameplate, reading Olaf Martin Oleson, Donor of this Park, 1849 – 1944. Oleson died February 8, 1944. His body was cremated and the ashes were scattered at the base of his memorial. From his obituary “His life in the best American tradition is an inspiration to all, not, because as a poor young man he came to this country and made good through the time honored route of thrift, energy and the exercise of good judgment, but more because he did so much good, and found thereby this greatest happiness. A man of many interests with a sound workable philosophy, he found time and the method of coordinating his love of music, botany, development of business into a splendid whole, but reserved for his greatest concern the encouragement of individuals in the pursuit of happiness.” Julie Haskell Oleson died December 12, 1965. A brief private prayer service was held December 14, 1965. The body was cremated and the ashes were mingled with her husband’s ashes at the base of the Oleson memorial. O.M. Oleson was elected to the Lutheran Hospital Board of Directors on June 4, 1926 and retained that position until his death on February 8, 1944. O.M. Oleson was instrumental in the establishment of hospital care in Fort Dodge. He assisted with the fund drive to build Mercy Hospital in the early 1900s and served on the original Board of Trustees. He was a vital force in the opening of Lutheran Hospital and has been credited with saving Lutheran Hospital from bankruptcy during the Great Depression. A highly respected businessman and civic leader, O.M. Oleson is also remembered for his gifts of leadership, character, and judgement. At the time of his death, O.M. Oleson was recognized as “the most public spirited citizen in Fort Dodge’s long history.” The Olesons lived much of their married life in their beautiful home on 1020 Third Avenue South until later years when they sold their home and lived in an apartment at the Wahkonsa Hotel O.M. Oleson’s father was a teacher and farmer who gave his son incentive to study botany. This early interest led to O.M. going to Oslo Norway to work as a florist and landscape gardener, and to his becoming a pharmacist in this country. Oleson’s love for gardening was demonstrated by his own garden of more than 400 different kinds of irises. Many profited from this in the matter of blooms and bulbs. Among the achievements of his life was a fellowship in the Iowa Academy of Science. Botany continued to be his hobby, and he spent much time in research. With M.P. Somes, Oleson prepared and printed a book on the flora of Webster county. The book was used as a textbook in many schools, including Iowa State University. In 1939 he presented to the Library of ISU a choice collection of 230 volumes dealing with Natural History. The books contain many now out of print, numerous first editions, one set for which he sent to Germany, several autographed editions, and a collection of books on birds and mushrooms. To the same institution he gave his valuable herbarium, composed of thousands of specimens, which was considered the most complete of Iowa flora. It also contained herbaria of many foreign countries. O.M. Oleson was a great lover of music and for many years he served as the honorary president of the Norwegian Singers Society of America. He arranged a meeting between Norwegian student singers and President Theodore Roosevelt; he brokered a commissioned song from composer Edvard Grieg, and he revisited Norway with 20,000 Norwegian male chorus members from America.. Oleson even became a composer; the book includes his choral setting of the famous poem “In Flanders Fields.” Oleson was also the founder of the Grieg Mandskor (a Norwegian Chorus) of Fort Dodge. He personally directed the choir and composed many songs for it. In 1938, at the dedication of the band shell at Oleson Park in Fort Dodge, he directed the Norwegian Chorus, which he had organized, in a song which he had composed. In 1924, Oleson’s home country recognized him for his services in the field of music. The King of Norway, King Haakon, knighted Oleson as a member of the Knights of St. Olaf. Oleson and his wife a return visit to Norway to receive the honor, one of four trips he made to the mother country after immigrated to the United States. Oleson lived to witness the transformation of Fort Dodge, his countryside home from a pathless grassland to a populous city. A portion of virgin woodland the Oleson owned he preserved in the form of a park of eighty acres, which bears his name, Oleson Park, a popular city park located on the south side of the city. This is one of several park areas given by Mr. Oleson to Fort Dodge. The extent of Oleson’s philanthropy, and its continuing impact, is indeed a tribute to the American dream: that an impoverished immigrant can succeed in making a better life for not only his own family in his own time but for countless others both at home and abroad. At the age of 93. O.M. Oleson stated the reason for his success and long life was, “high thinking and plain living.” O.M. and Julie Oleson were truly two individuals who led exemplary lives successfully establishing a tradition of excellence and generosity for their community. Trinity Regional Medical Center, (now Unity Point – Fort Dodge) as well as the entire Fort Dodge Community, will never forget their thoughtful and generous gifts. Contributions of the Oleson’s have supported health care services at Trinity Regional Medical Center since 1973 and reflect what the medical center is today. The impact on the health and well-being of the community of Fort Dodge by a young man from Norway who immigrated to Fort Dodge in 1870 has been nothing less than extraordinary. The legacy established by O.M. and Julie Oleson is perpetuated today by the Oleson Fund, which continues to provide financial support to sustain and advance important and necessary health care services in the Fort Dodge community. The Oleson Fund personifies and preserves the desire of O.M. and Julie Oleson to help improve the lives and wellbeing of the people of Fort Dodge and the community they so dearly loved. Footnotes: * State Historical Society Annals of Iowa, Volume 26, Number 1 * Melinda Bargreen authored an article on O.M. Oleson that appeared in the September 8, 2017 issue of The Norwegian American magazine.

Nelson, Marvin "Duke"

Marvin "Duke" Nelson In the winter of 1929-30, a champion and a legend were born in the frozen Des Moines River, just upstream from the hydroelectric dam in Fort Dodge. There, churning cross-stream in a narrow corridor of ice-free water, was the burly, eccentric high school senior everybody in town knew as "Duke." His name was Marvin Nelson and he was a swimming machine.

Nelson, then 18, was obsessed with swimming. He swam up, down and across the Des Moines River, in warm weather and cold. He turned lap after lap at the old Fort Dodge YMCA. He paddled up to 20 miles a day during summers at West Lake Okoboji. At age 19, Marvin Nelson became a national marathon swimming champion. For the next five years, he would be one of the best in the world at the 15-mile lake swim. Swimming wasn't Nelson's only athletic interest. He also ran the half-mile in track and played as a reserve on the Fort Dodge basketball team. In addition, he had responsibilities at home as the oldest of Harry and Olive Nelson's six children.

But swimming came first. And gradually, two directors at the Fort Dodge YMCA, John P. Botkin and George R.D. Kramer, steered him toward competition against the best marathon swimmers in the world. In 1928, they sent him to Toronto for an orientation to the Canadian national. He covered only about half the distance.

The following year he returned intent on winning. But 50 yards from the finish and in second place, Nelson collapsed and nearly drowned. All agreed that muscular young man could have won that year except for one thing: He wasn't accustomed to the shivering cold water of Lake Ontario.

The Iowa winter was an easy solution. The following fall, Nelson's first out of high school, he kept right on taking his Des Moines River dips even after winter's icy film began forming. And he didn't stop, even when the ice thickened to six inches and big machines were used to cut ice blocks. The iceberg training paid off. On Aug. 27, 1930, Nelson won the Canadian race in a time of 7 hours 44 minutes 28 seconds, topping an international field. The victory was worth $10,000, his biggest payday.

Nelson had hitchhiked to Toronto for the Canadian race, but when he returned in triumph to a Fort Dodge celebration on Sept. 15, 1930, it was on a Pullman railroad car. He was cheered by a crowd estimated at more than 5,000, and serenaded by Karl King's marching band and the American Legion drum corps.
Three years later, when he became the first two-time winner of the Canadian event, with a record time of 7 hours 37 seconds, more than 19 minutes faster than the previous mark. The second-place finisher was 18 minutes behind Nelson. Long-distance swimming was a popular spectator sport in the 1930s, and during the years of 1933 and 1934, Nelson was considered the world’s best marathon swimmer. A crowd estimated at more than 100,000 saw the Toronto competition in 1933, and many of them turned out just to get a look at Nelson. In his swimming prime, he stood 6 feet 1 inch, weighed 200 pounds and had a huge chest, overbuilt by years of training. That race began a year in which Nelson was unstoppable. Two months later he won the 15-mile Century of Progress race at Lake Michigan in record time. He defended that title in July 1934, and took an unprecedented third Canadian crown in August. He won $5,000 at each race and was not within shouting range of his closest competitor at any of the finishes. At Toronto in 1934, the runner-up was three quarters of a mile back when Nelson finished.

Despite his fabulous success in the early 1930s, Nelson felt he had not profited enough from a life totally devoted to long-distance swimming. So he came up with this idea- he would bet the world that he could make a swim never before accomplished -- an over-and-back conquering of the English Channel, a distance of about 40 miles. He raised $25,000, against 50-to-1 odds, that he could make that improbable swim. Had he been successful, Nelson would have acquired the fame and fortune he believed was due him. But he never got the chance. The outbreak of World War II intervened and Nelson's competitive swimming days were over. Those close to Nelson say "Duke" had a heart to match his enormous swimming success. His five major victories alone earned him $30,000, a mighty sum in the 1930s. The same winnings would have been worth $150,000 in today's currency. But Nelson apparently was not able to save or invest much, if any, of it. Duke is said to have been always willing to help anyone he could, even when it meant having little money for himself. In 1979, Nelson was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After retiring from competitive swimming, Nelson lived in Florida, New York City and Chicago, and worked as a swimming instructor, real estate broker and cab company owner. At 64, he was retired and living in Chicago when he suffered a heart attack and died on June 10, 1975.

Kenyon, William S.

William S. Kenyon

1869- 1933

William Squire Kenyon, son of Fergus L. and Hattie Squire Kenyon, was born in Elyria, Lorain County, Ohio on June 10, 1869. His father, a Congregational minister, had been a professor of Greek at Princeton before he was called to an Iowa City church. Young Kenyon, after graduating from the Iowa City schools, attended Grinnell College, with the idea of following in his father’s footsteps by entering the ministry. Instead he came back to Iowa City where he completed a course of law at the University of Iowa Law School in 1890. Kenyon was
admitted to the bar in 1891.

In 1890, Kenyon decided to come to Fort Dodge and work in the law office of John Duncombe, who had been a visiting lecturer on railroads at the University of Iowa Law School. Fort Dodge was an attractive place for a new law school graduate because it had some very high-powered lawyers and was a political center for the state. Its population numbered some 5000. Fort Dodge had produced three congressmen, a governor, a senator, a director of the United States Mint, and a Solicitor for the Treasury Department. In addition, Duncombe was a leading Democrat in the state.

Within two years of arriving in Fort Dodge, Kenyon had married Duncombe’s daughter, Mary. It is interesting to note that while Kenyon was a Republican, the Duncombe family were very strong Democrats. Later, when Kenyon was elected senator, Fort Dodge had a great celebration for him complete with a parade, speeches, and flags flying. Kenyon’s mother-in-law was kidded by a reporter about a flag flying for a Republican. Her curt response was, “I’ll have you know that this is the first time a flag was flown over this house for a Republican, and it will be the last time!”

Kenyon’s wife was even more of a diehard Democrat than her mother. But the marriage appeared to have worked. It speaks to Kenyon’s personality and his ability to get along with those with whom he did not agree.

When Kenyon first got married, his father-in-law invited him to become a partner in the Duncombe law firm. Kenyon, only 23, said no. It would look like he received the position because of his wife, not because of his own ability.

In 1894, at 24 years of age, he was elected county attorney and served five years. In 1900, he was elected state district court judge, serving another two.

He returned to private law practice because a judge’s pay was so low. His new partners were Dennis Kelleher and Maurice O’Connell.

In 1906, Kenyon changed jobs again to become the General Counsel for the Illinois Central Railroad. One would expect the railroad’s top lawyer to defend it in all cases, but instead he was more concerned that justice be done for both sides, a position which the railroad apparently was able to live with.

In 1910, he was appointed by President Taft as an assistant to the Attorney General of the United States, in charge of antitrust cases and interstate commerce regulation. Since he had been a railroad lawyer, one might have expected him to be sympathetic to business. In fact, Kenyon took seriously his responsibility of enforcing the legislation against business trade abuses and protecting the rights of the public.

William Kenyon established himself as a highly principled, extremely dedicated and hardworking, competent and honest; a person who was not moved by political pressures.

In 1910, U.S. Senator Jonathan P. Dolliver (from Fort Dodge ) died and it looked like he would be replaced by a conservative in the Senate. Kenyon was encouraged to run to carry on Dolliver’s progressive policies. At that time, Senators were still elected by the state legislatures, and Kenyon received the support of both Republicans and Democrats, and was elected in 1911 to fill Dolliver’s unexpired term. He ran again in 1912 and in 1918, by then a general election, and easily won the popular vote.

Even though Kenyon was a Republican, he governed more as a progressive which meant that he believed the government should act to address problems and that peoples’ rights had to come before property rights, special interests, and profits. He also believed that he should take principled stands even though, at times, they went against his party. Kenyon was considered a maverick and many in his party wanted him removed.

Senator Kenyon was a foe of lobbyists and he hated special privileges. He was a defender of labor and supporter of unions. He championed the rights of children and was a leader in trying to pass child labor laws.

Kenyon headed a Senate committee to investigate labor conditions in the coal mines of West Virginia where there was a history of violence. He promoted legislation to fight greed that had brought deplorable and un-American conditions in the coal fields. He advocated for government regulation for the benefit of all of the people.

Kenyon also showed an early concern for the environment. Around 1915, there was an increasing awareness of pollution of the Mississippi River. People were buying land along the river and opening it to agricultural development. Backwaters and fish and animal habitats were being lost. Kenyon sought to protect the integrity of the Mississippi by having the federal government acquire a half-million acres for fish and wildlife reserve—an upper Mississippi national park—but was unsuccessful.

In 1919, the country suffered a major steel strike, and again he headed a Senate special committee to investigate. The committee concluded that the strikes were justified in their actions. This was at a time when the Republican party and the country were very anti-labor and thought that communists were active everywhere.

Senator Kenyon is most famous for prohibition. A co-sponsor of the Eighteenth Amendment, he was a lifelong teetotaler. When the amendment passed, he authored the Webb-Kenyon Prohibition Law which provided means of reinforcement.

Members in his party weren’t particularly happy with his stand. They told him that it could damage the Republican Party and his actions were political suicide. Kenyon responded, “Do you think that I wanted to be a senator? I would rather go down to defeat than compromise my principles.” He was always moved by what he thought was right, not by political ambitions.

Senator Kenyon was also the chief architect of the Farm Bloc. During World War I, farm prices were sky high and farmers really profited. After the war, the farm economy collapsed in a major depression. The Harding administration was quick to help business with tax breaks and tariffs, but agriculture was left to suffer.

Farm leaders met with Kenyon who brought in eleven other farm state senators, both Democrats and Republicans, and organized the Farm Bloc. They built a well-disciplined coalition which stuck together on farm issues and support for favorable legislation to agriculture. Despite strong opposition, the Farm Bloc was successful in passing laws regulating stockyards, meat packers, and grain futures trading, and got an exemption from federal taxes for farm cooperatives.

Senator Kenyon opposed American entrance into World War I, especially opposing the arming of American merchant ships. Later, he opposed entrance into the League of Nations and demanded modification of the peace treaty. He believed that such momentous decisions should not be left solely to the president, but required input from elected representatives.

In spite of his opposition to entrance into the war, once the country went to war, Kenyon gave his support. He supported the draft, but he believed that if men could be conscripted, so should wealth and also industry should share the burden as well.

In 1922, President Harding appointed Kenyon to the Circuit Court of Appeals, the second-highest level in the federal court system. He readily accepted and resigned from the Senate, serving as judge until his death. Kenyon was never comfortable as a politician. He hated hypocrisy and trickery and behind-the-scenes dealings as well as all the corruption that was associated with politics. He had run for the Senate to serve his country, promote human rights and values, and to promote social justice. All of these issues he felt were being sacrificed to exploitation by the privileged classes.

Kenyon turned out to be an excellent choice for judge with the Circuit Court of Appeals. He was hard-working, conscientious, independent in character, highly principled, committed to human rights and justice.

He proved to be an outstanding judge, best known for his Teapot Dome decision. Teapot Dome was an oil reserve in Wyoming which had been set aside to insure supply of fuel for our Navy in case of war. In 1921, Secretary of Interior Albert B. Fall transferred drilling rights to Mammoth Oil Company (later Sinclair Oil Co.). A similar reserve in California was given to another company. Then it was discovered that Fall had been given a $250,000 loan from Harry F. Sinclair and another $150,000 from another company. Obviously, this became a major public scandal. The case went to court and a Wyoming judge decided that there was no evidence of fraud. The case was appealed and was assigned to Kenyon’s court, the assumption being that Kenyon, the new kid on the block, would be appreciative of his new appointment and would make a decision that would take favor the administration. To the administration’s surprise, Judge Kenyon reversed the lower court’s decision. Fall and Sinclair were sent to prison. Judge Kenyon’s opinion was characterized as “bristling with such words as deceit, falsehood, subterfuge, and bad faith, held the entire transaction was ‘tainted with favoritism, collusion, and corruption, defeating the proper and lawful function of government.’” (Fort Dodge Messenger & Chronicle, Sept. 9, 1933, p. 1, col. 2)

In 1924, Kenyon was approached and asked to consider running for Vice President under Calvin Coolidge. In early voting, he was in second place, and he decided to withdraw. He was contacted again in 1928, but refused. Twice Kenyon was offered a Cabinet position and twice he refused. In each case, he felt that the Vice Presidency would have removed him from having much influence.

In 1929, President Hoover was facing all the problems of prohibition and the crime connected with it. The public demanded investigation. President Hoover was opposed to the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment since he believed that it would be politically disastrous for him and the party.

President Hoover appointed the Wickersham Commission (officially named the National Commission of Law Observance and Enforcement) to study the issue. Kenyon was chosen as a member of this commission, as a safe bet, because he had sponsored the amendment and most of the early legislation including the Webb-Kenyon Law. Kenyon was highly respected and it was thought that he would support President Hoover. To the surprise of many, he did not and there was a falling out. Uncharacteristically, Kenyon commented afterward that Hoover dictated to Chairman Wickersham how everything was to be handled and that all the hearings should be held in secret.

Kenyon, on the other hand, believed that the hearings should be public because it would give the people an understanding of what had gone wrong , why it was failing and what was necessary to make it succeed. Kenyon believed that keeping things secret would just contribute to more mistrust and further the belief in a cover-up.

Kenyon submitted his own separate report—a devastating attack on the whole law enforcement system filled with political corruption. He continued to believe that prohibition was good, but government and management had failed. Kenyon suggested releasing of all the information to the public and then have a national referendum. Kenyon believed that his position and his report ended any possibility of his appointment to the Supreme Court.

During his service in Washington D.C., Kenyon maintained his official residence in Fort Dodge and returned frequently. He stayed with his sister at 1215 Second Avenue North. His best friend in Iowa was a man who farmed the Kenyon family land. Kenyon’s wife, Mary, preferred living in the east and never returned to Fort Dodge.

Kenyon’s other home was in Sabasco, Maine, where he often spent his summers. Kenyon was not much for socializing as he preferred to spend his time in quiet study. He also enjoyed golf and loved playing horseshoes and bridge.

William Kenyon suffered a heart attack on July 27, 1933, while playing golf on a course near his summer home. He died six weeks later on September 9, at the relatively young age of 64. Funeral services were held in Maine and also in Fort Dodge at the First Congregational Church, after which he “was laid to rest…beside his father and mother in the Kenyon family plot in beautiful Oakland cemetery.” (Fort Dodge Messenger & Chronicle, Sept. 15, 1933, p. 1, col. 2-3).

The St. Louis Post Dispatch grieved his loss by writing, “ if we feel that his death leaves us a poorer people, we may also take comfort in the fact that America still breeds men like William S. Kenyon.”


*Fort Dodge Historical Society Newsletter July, 2008

Tilghman, William "Big Bill"

William "Big Bill" Tilghman

July 4, 1854 - November 24, 1924

Bill Tilghman was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa on July 4, 1854. His father, Bill Tilghman Sr, served on the military post, Fort Dodge. Fort military records show that Bill Tilghman, jr, was the first native son of the city of Fort Dodge. (Bill Tilghman sr volunteered to serve on the Spirit Lake Massacre relief expedition in 1857. The Tilghman family moved to Atchison, Kansas around 1858.

As a young man, with little formal education through the school system, Tilghman became skilled with firearms and took to buffalo hunting. He left home around the age of 17 and headed to southwest Kansas to hunt buffalo with his older brother, Richard. During this time, buffalo hunting was a lucrative way to make an honest living. As a renown hunter, Tilghman was known to have killed 7,500 to 12,000 thousand bison during a five-year time period, (4,000 more than the renown hunter Buffalo Bill Cody). In 1872, while hunting in Kansas he returned to his camp and discovered that raiding Cheyenne had carried off or burned everything he owned. Most people meeting such a calamity would have thought themselves lucky to be alive, but not Bill. He sought justice.

Tilghman served as a scout for the U.S. Cavalry during a surge of Cheyenne raids on settlements in Kansas and Oklahoma. During this time he become acquainted with Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, and Mysterious Dave Mather, who hunted buffalo. Tilghman's older brother, Richard, hunted with him, and at one point during the mid-1870s when the hunting team was attacked by a war party of American Indians, his brother was killed.

Following his hunting career, Tilghman moved to Dodge City, Kansas. In 1875 Bill Tilghman entered the saloon business in Dodge City. Tilghman was a teetotaler but, like so many of the famous figures of the Old West, he saw owning a saloon as an irresistible financial opportunity. He was eventually coaxed out of the business to take a position as Deputy Marshal, by a friend from his buffalo hunting days, Bat Masterson. In the town that used a “Dead Line,” to delineate the part not to be crossed into by the good citizens, Tilghman used his soft spoken, gentlemanly style personality, backed up by sheer toughness to help make Dodge City safe for all citizens and visitors.

Tilghman tamed this seemingly untamable town along-side other notables like, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Ed Masterson, Larry Deger and Ned Brown. Eventually Bill was appointed as the Marshal of Dodge City, the chief law enforcement officer.

He served in that capacity until 1884 and earned an excellent reputation, working at various law enforcement jobs for the rest of his life, earning the respect of Masterson, Doc Holliday, and Wyatt and Virgil Earp. By 1889 Tilghman moved on to Guthrie, Oklahoma to serve as deputy marshal.

In the lawless west there was a breed of men, who could not abide by the lawlessness and came forward to pin on a badge. These men made a difference. Bill Tilghman was one of those men. Bat Masterson once said of Tilghman, “He was everything you would want in a hero. His sense of justice and fairness separated him from all the other lawmen like night and day.”

In 1889, Tilghman felt inclined to move once again as he established a homestead near Guthrie Oklahoma. Tilghman was a successful rancher and raised Jersey Cattle, Poland Hogs and horses. This peaceful existence did not last long for outlaw gangs seemed to run untethered at the time in the Oklahoma Territory. To help tame this territory, Tilghman was appointed Deputy US Marshall by Judge Isaac Parker (the Hanging Judge). The territory had formerly been part of the Indian Territory and was still one of the most lawless places in the west.

Tilghman did not bring programs with fancy initials to the table to solve the gang problem. Bill joined with Chris Madsen and Heck Thomas in the relentless pursuit and capture of individual members of the gangs terrorizing the territory. Tilghman, Thomas, and Madsen would become known affectionately as “The Three Guardsmen,” and they were largely responsible for eliminating organized crime in the Oklahoma Territory. To accomplish this, the “Guardsman” split the Oklahoma Indian Territory into three areas and as a team they apprehended an estimated 300 desperate criminals and killers.

The “Three Guardsmen” were also known for their successful pursuit and dismantling of “The Wild Bunch,” as well as the most wanted criminal of the time, gang leader Bill Doolin and his “Doolin Gang.” Tilghman tracked Doolin to Eureka Springs in 1894. In a move of tactical brilliance Tilghman watched and waited to make the apprehension until Doolin was soaking in a hot tub. Tilghman entered the establishment dressed as a minister and had his pistol on Doolin, before the criminal suspected the game was afoot. Doolin considered going for his pistol, but one look into Tilghman’s determined eyes inspired him to surrender. There was a crowd of 5000 gathered to watch the notorious outlaw gang leader brought “to justice” by Marshal Tilghman.

When Tilghman apprehended Doolin, the desperado was in possession of a small silver mug, which Doolin said was a present for his new born son. Ever the gentleman, in a gesture typical of Marshal Bill Tilghman, he personally delivered the mug to mother and child.

Some say in his 51 years of law enforcement Bill Tilghman may have arrested and brought to justice more bad guys than any other law man in his era, which spanned from the “Wild West” and into Prohibition.

Tilghman was not just a gun fighter. He was a solid law man with a great tactical mind. He had a stellar reputation for finding criminals and skillfully maneuvering into the best possible position to insure a reasonable man would elect to surrender and live. Since not all bad men are reasonable Bill found it necessary to shoot and kill “Arizona Wilson,” and later two of his cohorts who foolishly tracked Bill down to exact revenge. Tilghman shot and killed “Cresent Sam” as well as a Creek outlaw known only as, “Calhoun.”

While dismantling the Doolin Gang he was able to apprehend, Doolin, “Cattle Annie,” and “Little Britches,” without a fight, but found it necessary to end the lives of “Little Dick West,” and his partner “Raidler,” who weren’t disposed to come along peacefully.

For a side-arm Tilghman carried a Colt SA .38 special with a 5 1/2 inch barrel as well as an engraved nickel plated Colt 45 with pearl handles. When in a gun fight he said that he would always shoot for the belt buckle, because it was, “The broadest target from head to heel.”

Marshall Bill Tilghman knew President Theodore Roosevelt personally. Teddy Roosevelt held Bill Tilghman in high regard. Roosevelt once asked Tilghman how, “a gunman on the side of law all of his life was still alive after so many criminals had tried to kill him.” Tilghman responded by saying, “Well sir, when you have the right on your side, you’ve always got an edge on a man who knows he’s wrong.” Teddy Roosevelt, over the years, called on him for two special assignments. One assignment was for him to pursue a dangerous criminal and railroad embezzler who was hiding out in Mexico. Tilghman, single-handedly, brought the man to justice. This led President Theodore to once state. “Bill Tilghman would charge hell with a bucket.”

Tilghman’s tenure as a lawman spanned more than 50 years, but his bailiwick changed often. He was a Marshal in Dodge City, he was a Deputy US Marshal in Oklahoma Territory, served as Sheriff of Lincoln County Oklahoma, was a Senator in Oklahoma, and Chief of Police for the Oklahoma City Police Department. These are but a few, but not all of the positions, which he held. Three Oklahoma Governors engaged Tilghman as a special agent to lead difficult law enforcement assignments. E.D. Nix, U.S. Marshall from Kansas said this about Bill Tilghman, “I have never known a man who regarded his enemies more kindly than did Bill Tilghman, and I have never known a man who fought his enemies more bitterly than did Bill Tilghman when circumstances demanded it.”

Tilghman retired from his position in 1910 and was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate. He never lost an election except one, when he refused to join a faction of the Democratic Party that sided with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). As a lawman, Tilghman fought against the Klan. He accepted the position of police chief of Oklahoma City in 1911. In 1915, he became fed up with the way Hollywood was glamorizing the outlaws of the day. So, he and his friends E D Nix (the US Marshall) and Chris Madsen wrote, directed and starred as themselves in the film, Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaws to show how things really were back then and dramatized the law enforcement activities of Tilghman and the other "Guardsmen."

In 1924, at the age of 70, Tilghman could have retired on his laurels, but there was one more lawless town in Cromwell, Oklahoma that pleaded for his help. Cromwell was a virtual cesspool of crime: bootlegging, gambling and prostitution (many of the prostitutes being underage) were among the illegal activities going on, all under the protection of a corrupt Federal Prohibition agent named Wiley Lynn. Cromwell was a booming oil town, and its citizens wanted Tilghman to run the "bad element" out of town. Chris Madsen, one of the “Guards” cautioned his friend against taking the position telling Bill, “You are not so young and your draw is a little slow. Someone might kill you.” Tilghman replied, “It’s better to die in a gun fight, than in bed like a woman.” He accepted a position as marshal of Cromwell.

Tilghman was reluctant at first, but finally took the job as marshal of Cromwell and promised to clean up the town. He made good on his promises, closing down gambling houses, arresting bootleggers and moonshiners and sending the prostitutes home to their families. This upset those in town who were running the various crime rings, including Wiley Lynn.

A few weeks after reporting for duty in Cromwell, an incident began on Halloween night, when Tilghman, Deputy Marshall Hugh Sawyer , and businessman W.E. Sirmans were having coffee at a café called Ma Murphy’s. Tilghman heard gun shots in the street and ran to investigate. He discovered staggering in the street with a pistol in one hand and a prostitute in the other the thoroughly corrupt and drunk Federal Prohibition Agent, Wiley Lynn.

Tilghman approached the fellow “law man,” disarmed Lynn and placed him under arrest. While leading Lynn towards jail the agent pulled a second weapon from his belt. After a struggle over the weapon, Lynn shot Tilghman. Lynn escaped, while Tilghman lay dying on the boardwalk. A doctor was summoned, and a friend fetched Tilghman's young wife and three children. The doctor was unable to save him, and Tilghman died on a table in Ma Murphy's, surrounded by his friends and family.

(In 1925, Wiley Lynn was tried for and acquitted of Tilghman's murder, but was dismissed from federal service. In 1932 he was shot and killed by an agent of the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation).

Bill Tilghman’s body was laid in state in the State Capitol Building, while the citizens of Oklahoma gathered to mourn the loss of a great man. Buffalo Hunter, Cavalry Scout, Deputy Marshal, Senator, Marshal, Sheriff, and Chief of Police William Tilghman, was laid to rest in Chandler Oklahoma, where he ultimately made his final home. A city park in Chandler is named Tilghman Park to honor his amazing and distinguished career as a lawman.

In 1960, the western actor Brad Johnson played Tilghman in the episode "The Wedding Dress" of the anthology Death Valley Days. Tilghman was also portrayed by Rod Steiger in the 1981 film Cattle Annie and Little Britches.

The 1999 made-for-television movie You Know My Name dramatized Tilghman's life and final days, and was based on Matt Braun's novel One Last Town, which fictionalized Tilghman's activities in Cromwell. Veteran western movie actor Sam Elliott produced the film and starred as Tilghman.

Tilghman's widow, Agnes Stratton Tilghman, wrote about him in the book Marshal of the Last Frontier.

Note: Wyatt Earp (who grew up in Pella, Iowa), was the most famous lawman to have serve as a marshal of Dodge City, yet Bill Tilghman was in Dodge City longer than Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday and Wild Bill Hickok combined.

Historian William Raines said of the great folk hero, Marshall Tilghman: “He took a thousand chances, made more arrests of dangerous men, broke up more outlaw gangs, sent more criminals to prison than any individual officer on the frontier. None of the fabled lawman of Western myth, including Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, or Bill Hickok, came close to matching his record.”

Bat Masterson, in trying to sum up this legendary law officer’s career simply said, “He was the best of us all.”


*America’s Frontier Town ….. by Alan Foster Nelson, 2018

*Oklahoma Historical Society

*Spartacus Education… American History – The American West – Bill Tilghman

*TrueWest – History of the American Frontier – The Killing of Bill Tilghman

*Bill Tilghman on Wikipedia

Lott, Henry

Henry Lott

Henry Lott is recognized as the first settler in Webster County. He erected the first cabin near the mouth of the Boone river, on land in section 24, township 87, range 27 in southern Webster County. The date of his settlement is exactly known but was suspected to be in the winter of 1846.

When pioneers came into Webster County they found that the notorious Henry Lott had squatted at the mouth of Boone River. Lott was a bad man, a refugee from justice, and kept on the outskirts of all settlements. He was charged with being one of a gang of horse thieves, headed by the notorious Jonas Carsner, who figured in the neighborhood of Fort Des Moines. When the military garrisoned that Post, the troops there hunted them down and succeeded in capturing Jonas Carsner.

In 1846, settlers to the area found that Lott was engaged in the enterprise of selling whisky to the Indians, stealing their ponies and running them off to the south. He cultivated very little land. Lott was a slim, dark eyed, shrewd man, with a fair education, and claimed to have been born in the New England States. His first wife, who was a daughter of one of the early Governors of Ohio or Pennsylvania, died in the winter of 1846. Her grave is in the cemetery on the Vigors’ farm, section 25, township 87, range 27.

After the death of his first wife, Lott married the daughter of Francis McGuire, one of the first settlers in Yell township, subsequently built a cabin on the bank of the Des Moines river, on the farm now owned by Clark Fuller, near the spot where in later days stood the steam saw-mill of Samuel Tod, and spent his time trading with the Indians, hunting and fishing. Here his second wife died on the last day of December, 1851, and was buried on section 27, township 88, range 28, but all traces of the grave are now obliterated. After the death of his second wife, Lott gave away his little twin daughters and his infant son, taking with him his 15 year old son to Humboldt county.

Lott was a keen, smart man, and although arrested and tried several times, he managed to avoid conviction by having witnesses prove that he had purchased the horses found in his possession. Finally in 1848, Indians of Sidominadotah’s band of Sioux or Dacotah tribe called Sisiton Sioux, had several of their horses stole by Lott, and found them by Lott's quarters. The Indians attacked Lott in the winter when the river was frozen. Lott ran down the river on the ice, leaving his family at the mercy of the Indians, who took all the horses they could find. The Indians killed his cattle and robbed his cabin of sundry articles, but did not harm his family. In the melee, two of Lott’s sons followed their father on the ice, became separated and one son, age 14, was found frozen to death near Elk Rapids.

As time passed and more settlers came to the area, Lott returned to his cabin at the mouth of the Boone River, and was a terror to all. He was viewed as an outlaw and desperate character, who from the early settlements of the State, kept in advance of all settlements. While Lott had traits of character that some admired, many of the settlers were afraid of him. (Note: There are some accounts of Henry Lott that describe him quite differently, as a man of character and a respected citizen of Boone County and that he had an honorable reputation until he began dealing with the Sioux Indians).

Lott applied to the government for indemnity for Indian depredations claiming over $3000, but his character was so well known that the citizens generally protested against allowing his claim. He frequently swore, if he was not allowed his claim, he would take it out in killing Indians. During the time the troops remained at Fort Dodge, there was a good lookout kept up for Lott's operations.

In 1851, Lott built a cabin on the west side of the Des Moines on the military reservation south of the site of Fort Dodge and presented to claim the whole district. A squad of soldiers from Fort Dodge were dispatched to run him off. Afterwards, Lott went to Fort Des Moines and succeeded in selling his pretended claim to a Mr. A. Scott for $300 in cash. When Scott came up to the site to take possession of the claim, he was required to leave.

In November, 1853, Lott and his son move north and made a claim near Lott's creek, in Humboldt county, which he and his son occupied, and laid in as a winter's supply—three or four barrels of whisky and some goods, as he said, " with a view of trading with the Indians.

In January, 1854, Henry Lott and his son went up the river 30 miles north of Fort Dodge to make a claim on what has been since known as Lott’s Creek, in Humboldt county. He took with him articles to trade with the Indians, also whiskey (three barrels) as he set to work himself into favor with the Indians. Sidominadotah, Chief of the Red Top Band, with his family and some relatives were encamped about a mile up the creek from Lott’s Cabin. The party was composed of the old Chief Sidominadotah, his squaw and four children, his aged mother, and two orphan children, in all, numbering nine. Sidominadotah was the leader of the band that drove LOTT from his home at the mouth of the Boone River in the winter of 1848, and it is said that Lott swore he would get revenge.

Lott professed friendship with the Indian and frequently gave him liquor. Lott and his son told the old Chief that there was a drove of elk feeding on the bottom lands of the prairie not far from the camp. Lott induced the old Chief to mount his pony and go with them to hunt the elk. Lott and his son followed Sidominadotah and then shot and killed him. In the night after murdering him, Lott and his son blackened their faces and disguised themselves as Indians, attacking the Squaws and children in their teepees and murdering six of them, two only escaping, a boy about 10 years old and a little girl. The boy was severely cut in the head and left for dead but recovered. The little girl, escaped from the teepee with her mother who fled, was overtaken about 100 yards from the teepee where her mother was killed. The little girl escaped by hiding among some bushes where she remained for days until a party of Indians from the Lizard who were on a hunt discovered the murder of their friends and took in the little girl. As soon as Lott and his son committed the murder they set a fire to their cabin and fled.

Some ten days elapsed before the murder was discovered. Father John Johns, the then acting Coroner, summoned a jury and went up to examine the remains. They collected a few Indians together and examined the boy and girl who had escaped the massacre. None of the Indians present could understand English. G. Kanville Berkley, prosecuting attorney for the county, took the testimony of the Indians and pretended to interpret it. The interpretation was disputed by William II Miller, an old frontiersman. The records in the Coroner's office of the County of Webster, contain no account of the verdict of this jury.

Days following the murder of Sidominadotah and his family, Lott’s cabin was found to have been burned. Lott and his son had headed south and the first intelligence of them was that they avoided Fort Dodge and traveled with an old covered carriage containing Lott’s household goods, while his son led Sidominadotah’s pony heavily packed with furs. They went to the house of Mrs. Garmore, near the mouth of the Boone river. Lott and his son stayed overnight and offered for sale furs and other articles. Here his actions attracted the attention of other guests who were spending the night at Mrs. Garmore’s. Major Williams, who was among the people there, made the remark that something was wrong with Lott. His son refused to go to the barn and feed the horses after dark. Lott’s son had the Indian's pony with him then, but knowing his mode of "raising ponies," no one suspected the great crime he had committed.

In the course of time, reports of Lott’s doing began to be whispered abroad, and this case came up for investigation before a grand jury in Des Moines, among the members of the jury was a gentleman residing at Boonesboro. Lott’s case was the last one disposed of and in the evening just before the jury was discharged a true bill was found against Lott. He was indicted for murder in the 1st degree. It is also known that Lott left the area the same night, and the sheriff who came up from Des Moines to arrest him the next day failed to find him. Lott was never seen in the area again.

Governor Hempstead issued a commission to Major William Williams, granting him authority, if necessary, to recruit a company of men and search for Lott and his son. The civil authorities of the county assisted him with the strong arm of the law. A subscription was circulated throughout the country, funds raised, and every settler took an interest in Lott’s capture. Major Williams, given commission by Governor Hempstead to prevent an Indian uprising, developed a friendly relationship and trust with the roving band of Indians in the region and he promised the Indians that Lott should be captured and he worked faithfully to fulfill that promise.

After leaving Mrs. Garmore’s, nothing definite is known of Lott. It was reported that he fled to Council Bluffs, joined an overland train bound for California, and was killed in a quarrel on the plains. But it is thought by those who knew him best, that this was a ruse to keep the officers in search from following him. It was also rumored at one time that Lott made his way to the Pacific slope and after having been engaged in barter and mining for a number of years was finally lynched for an alleged crime.

Even though the tragic end of Lott’s eventful life is not positively known, the incidents related here about Lott’s life in Boone and Webster Counties are voucher for by some of the earlier settlers. The failure of the authorities to find Lott ended the matter as legal proceedings were concerned but not as far as the Sioux Indians were concerned. They were greatly exasperated when they found that their chief Sidominadotah and his family had been slain. After Lott’s escape, it finally became whispered about among the savages that Lott was not only responsible for the death of their chief and his sons but also the pork and whiskey that Lott had traded with them caused an epidemic that had killed some 75 braves. Sidominadotah Indian’s brother, Inkpaduta, sought revenge against the white people. It was in the winter of 1857 that the conflict that had been simmering between settlers and Inkpaduta’s band of Sioux erupted into the famous massacre at Spirit Lake. Egged on revenge for insults they had received from settlers as well as poverty and hunger, Inkpaduta and his men went from cabin to cabin and murdered 34 settlers at Spirit Lake. Four women were taken prisoners and two of them were later killed. It was the worst mass murder of innocent people by Indians in Iowa history. The Spirit Lake Massacre cause panic on the Northwestern frontier and settlers feared further bloody raids by the Sioux, which stopped immigration of settlers to the area for some time. No doubt, the horrific Spirit Lake Massacre is intimately connected with the history this county.


*Early History of Fort Dodge and Webster County … by Major William Williams … Edited by Edward Breen

*Henry Lott Story - The IAGenWeb Project - Iowa Genealogy (iagenweb.org/boone/history/lott-story.htm)

*State Historical Society of Iowa: The Annals of Iowa Volume 2/Number 2 (1895)

Loomis, A.R.

A.R. Loomis

Grocer, owner of Rosedale Creamery and Farm, Wahkonsa Hotel

Known in the community as “Squire,” Allen Loomis was remembered most for his loyalty to his nation and his community.

Born in West Georgia, Vermont, Mr. Loomis settled in Manchester with his family at age four. At age twelve, he ran away from home to join the army. He knew he wouldn’t meet the age requirement, so he lied and said he was an orphan. When young Loomis’ conscience got the best of him, he confessed the lie to his captain and was immediately sent home.

A.R. Loomis’ father had an egg and poultry distribution business in Manchester, Iowa. A.R. Loomis visited Fort Dodge frequently, buying eggs and poultry for the business. During his youth, he also spent a year and a half in Wyoming, where he tended sheep.

In 1882, after returning to Iowa, he decided to settle in Fort Dodge and launched a business of supplying eastern markets with poultry and eggs. Soon, farmers from miles around were freighting chickens to Loomis Produce in Fort Dodge. Cream was also brought into the business, butter was churned and shipped east in large quantities. A.R. was joined in the business by his son, Fred, around 1900. In 1919, the Fort Dodge Creamery Company (as it was then called) built a plant at 301 1st Avenue North, where the building still exists today. The Fort Dodge Creamery was one of the nation’s top producers of ice cream specialty items, specifically, Eskimo Pies.

A.R. Loomis helped the old Fort Dodge Grocery Company, helped charter what was The State Bank (now First American Bank), and helped develop the Round Prairie residential area

of the city. The Loomis family also gave the city the land for Loomis Park. The company also bought 600 acres of land just northeast of Fort Dodge and established Rosedale Farm in order to provide milk for the creamery. This farm also had livestock, and became well known for “Blue Boy”, a pig that was featured in the movie “State Fair”.

A second Rosedale hog acquired extraordinary fame in 1935 when Iowa Governor Clyde Herring and Minnesota Governor, Floyd Olson, bet a hog on the outcome of the U of Iowa vs U of Minnesota football game. Iowa Governor Herring paid the bet with the Rosedale hog, which later became “Floyd of Rosedale”. A statue was created in its name and continues to be presented to the winner of the Iowa vs Minnesota football game each year.

Allen R. Loomis, son of Fred, became general manager of the Creamery in 1934. Allen Loomis married actress Lily Damita (former wife of actor Errol Flynn) after his first wife, Susan, died. Allen’s son, Robert, also worked in the business.

Mr. Loomis was a director at the First National Bank and a founder of the Fort Dodge Grocery, the Rosedale Creamery, Rosedale Farm, and one of the founders of the Wahkonsa Hotel. He made many donations to charities but preferred to do it in the names of his other family members.


*Twist and Shout, January 2000 Fort Dodge Messenger, April 2, 1995

Swain, Adeline Morrison

Adeline Morrison Swain


In a time when women weren’t even allowed to vote, Adeline Morrison Swain blazed a trail of social reform and was a women’s rights activist.

Adeline Morrison Swain was born in Bath, New Hampshire in 1820. The daughter of a schoolteacher, she was given educational opportunities unusual for women of her time. When she was 16 years old, she began teaching modern languages and art in a female seminary in Vermont.

Adeline married James Swain in 1846, and a few years later, moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa. A shocking figure for her time, Ms. Swain was one of a handful of women who chose to keep her maiden name of Morrison. James was a pharmacist and together, the two built what is now known as the Vincent House. Swain dedicated her time in those earlier years in Fort Dodge to the education of young women. Swain was fortunate to be well educated for a woman of her time and started teaching classes in her home. She taught English, French, drawing, oil painting, and botany. She had a natural curiosity and a propensity to learn. These traits enabled her to become an expert in history, theology and natural sciences. She also offered classes about the natural flora in the area.

Adeline Swain became such a noted expert in the field of Entomology, that she was given an appointment as a correspondent of the Entomological Commission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Her prime contribution was a report published in 1877 on the Colorado grasshopper that was wreaking havoc on agriculture in the northern plains and western Iowa. She was also elected as a member in the American Association for the Advancement of science, something that was extremely rare for women at that time. She was the first woman to prepare and read a paper before that body’s national convention.

As much as Swain was interested in the sciences, her primary interests were in public affairs and social reforms. Swain was a part of the temperance movement which many believe she joined to further the rights of women and women’s suffrage. She travelled throughout Iowa with well-known women’s rights leaders, notably with Susan B. Anthony.

She eagerly pursued her fight for women’s rights by working with the National Women’s Congress and the National Suffrage Association. In 1869, she organized the first woman’s suffrage meeting in Fort Dodge.

Adeline Swain joined the Unitarian-Universalist Church which was the only church of the time to allow women to be clergy. The spiritualist movement captured Swain, and she created her own spiritualist community in Fort Dodge. The spiritualist group believes in communicating with the dead and equality across humanity, especially in terms of gender. It was during this time that the small community of the spiritualist part held séances in the third-floor ballroom. In 1874, Swain was elected as state secretary, and the spiritualist group of Fort Dodge hosted the state convention that year.

Swain also served as the editor of the Women’s Tribune. Swain battled on and soon became honorary vice-president for the National Suffrage Association.

In 1873, due to the financial panic of that year and the depression that followed, her husband was forced into bankruptcy, which caused them to lose their home and business property. This further motivated Adeline Swain to become involved in the Greenback Party because of its commitment to monetary reform and its support for equal political and legal rights for men and women.

Mr. Swain died in 1878. Following his death, Adeline accepted the Greenback Party’s nomination for Iowa Superintendent of Public Instruction. She was the first woman in Iowa to be nominated by party for a statewide office. In the election, she outpolled the party’s male candidates for other offices. In 1884, she was the party’s delegate to its national convention in Indianapolis to nominate candidates for president and vice-president, where she even addressed the assembly from the speaker’s platform.

In 1884 she was chosen a delegate from Iowa to the National Convention of that party held at Indianapolis to nominate candidates for President and Vice-President. Mrs. Swain's mature life was largely devoted to educational and reform work in which she long ranked among the ablest in the State.

In 1887, growing older and without financial means, she moved to Illinois to live with her brother. She died at Odin, Illinois, on the 3d of February, 1899. Her remains were returned to Fort Dodge, where she was buried in Oakland Cemetery

In 2000, she was elected to the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.



*www. en.wikisource.org


*Twist and Shout, January, 2000www.humanrights.iowa.gov; www. en.wikisource.org

Breen, Ed

Ed Breen

Attorney, Broadcaster, State Senator


Edward J. Breen was born in Estherville, Emmet County, Iowa on March 18, 1899. He became a resident of Fort Dodge in 1903 and graduated from Fort Dodge High School in 1916. Mr. Breen later attended the University of Wisconsin from which he obtained his bachelor’s degree, and Drake University from which he obtained his law degree. He married Elizabeth Loomis in 1923, who preceded him in death in 1960. In 1963, Mr. Breen married Mrs. Amelia Byram of Alexandria, Louisiana.

Active throughout his entire life in a variety of civic and cultural affairs, Edward Breen was a promoter of the Belle Kendall Memorial Playhouse, charter member of the Webster County Conservation Board, member of the Fort Dodge Betterment Foundation, member of the Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce, member of the Fort Dodge Historical Association and chairman of the Community Chest.

Mr. Breen entered the practice of law in 1930 with his older brother, the late Maurice Breen, in Fort Dodge. He ran for and was elected to the post of Webster County Attorney in 1932 and served in that position until 1936. He also founded radio station KVFD in 1939 and the Northwest Television Company and station KQTV in 1953, an NBC affiliate.

Throughout the station's history, it competed against Des Moines NBC affiliate WHO-TV. The station changed its call sign to KVFD-TV in 1966. It moved to channel 50 in early 1977 after selling its Bradgate, Iowa transmitter and tower to Iowa Public Television (IPTV).

After only a few months of operation on channel 50, the KVFD-TV studio and transmitter were struck by a tornado on the evening of May 4, 1977. Part of the roof was torn off of the KVFD-TV studio building, and the 600 foot tower, while still standing, suffered damage at the 200 foot level. As it was no longer safe, the tower was razed later that month. Breen made plans to rebuild the transmission facilities, but he died in 1978 before any new construction began. Apparently, his heirs (or the executors of his estate) chose not to pursue his rebuilding plans, since the station's call sign was deleted by the FCC in 1981.[14] The building previously used by KVFD-TV was later sold to Iowa Central Community College.

Edward Breen was president of the Young Democratic Clubs of Iowa during the years 1933 and 1934, and was a national committeeman from 1935 until 1937. In 1936, he was elected to the Iowa Senate and served as Minority Leader during the latter portion of his first term.

Mr. Breen died at the age of 79 on June 15, 1978. In addition to his wife, he was survived by two sons, Alan V. Breen of Topeka, Kansas; Fred E. Breen of Fort Dodge; three daughters, Diane Burch of Fort Dodge; Cynthia Warner of Cedar Rapids and Susan Breen of New York City; a stepson, Dr. James Byram of Massachusetts; eleven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The Senate of the Sixty-Seventh General Assembly of Iowa recognized Edward Breen as an honored citizen and faithful and useful public servant, and expressed its appreciation for his service to his community, state and nation. He was also one of the first two people to be inducted into the Iowa Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Please click here for Ed Breen's This is Fort Dodge, Part 1 and please click here for This is Fort Dodge Part 2 videos. Ed Breen of KQTV in Fort Dodge produced these videos highlighting the businesses and people of Fort Dodge, Iowa. The production date is circa 1958 . A reference is made to the construction of the "new" Fort Dodge Senior High School, which was completed in 1958.

Please visit our Industry Page on this website for additional information about the television and radio stations.


*Text above from 67 GA (1978) Senate Journal Memorial Resolution

*Twist and Shout, January, 2000, Wikipedia

Please click here for more information about the television and radio stations:

KQTV, later renamed KVFD-TV, was a television station in Fort Dodge, Iowa, which operated from November 23, 1953 to May 4, 1977.

Rogers, Harlan

Harlan Rogers


Harlan and Hazel Rogers Ball Park in one of the best athletic facilities in the state. The man who gave the land for the park is Harlan Rogers. In 1967, Harlan and Hazel Rogers donated the land for the baseball and softball diamonds at Rogers Sports Complex which now host the Iowa High School Girls Softball Tournament.

Harlan Rogers was born on a farm southeast of Fort Dodge. He attended Pleasant Valley School and often had to retrieve coal from the railroad tracks to help keep the family warm. He left school after 8th grade in order to enter the workforce full-time and to help on the family farm.

He married Hazel L. Bittner in 1928 and they made their home in Fort Dodge. Rogers interspersed his farming activities with jobs at U. S. Gypsum and Brady Transfer. He was a self-motivated industrialist, and invented various hydraulic mechanisms for loaders and wagons in order to improve farming operations. One of the machines he built helped create Standard Engineering Company, the company he headed for 27 years, from 1945 to 1972. By the 1950’s, the company served as the nation’s largest manufacturer of wagon boxes. Using the well-known Stan-Hoist trademark, the company manufactured and sold elevators, shredders, gears, wagons, loaders, field cultivators and front– end loaders for Midwest farmers.

Standard Engineering continued to manufacture farm machinery and farm machinery components for seventeen years, until it was sold to Bush Hog, a division of Allied Products.

In another business venture, Harlan Rogers bought 45 acres of farmland on the east side of Fort Dodge for grain storage buildings for Standard Engineering in 1959. However, plans eventually changed and the land was sold and used for the site of the Crossroads Shopping Mall.

In 1967, Harlan and his wife Hazel donated 13 acres of their land for the purpose of building an outdoor recreation complex. Construction began on Rogers Park in the fall of 1967. The initial layout included a pair of softball fields and a baseball diamond. The first official game was played on July 11, 1968 between Sandy’s Distributing (a men’s softball team in Fort Dodge) and Webster City John Deere. The park was used throughout that summer and had its official ribbon cutting in 1969.

Rogers was highly involved in the Noon Lions Club and served as its past president. Even after Harlan’s death, his wife and children continued to donate gifts to the Rogers Sports Complex.

Harlan and Hazel Rogers generous gift of land for the Rogers Sport Complex has helped to create a venue that is visited by thousands of Iowans each year. It has grown to 100 acres with 11 baseball/softball fields and 13 soccer fields. The Girls State Softball Tournament has been held here since 1970, as well as many other tournaments and games.


The Messenger’s Hometown Pride, 2019

Armstrong-Mary Crawford

Mary Crawford Armstrong

Not Available-1948

She has been recorded in Webster County history as “the first woman to.” She did a lot women weren’t expected to do. She kept her maiden name of Crawford after she married Edmund Armstrong, a well-known pharmacist.

She was a teacher of French, English, German, and Latin but gave it all up when she married. She didn’t stop working, though. She took over and ran the Fort Dodge Chemical Company that her father once owned, along with her father’s real estate business. Ms. Armstrong helped organize the Fort Dodge Plaster Company and served as vice president in 1902. She became the first woman to run for a county office. However, she lost the election for county superintended of the schools.

Ms. Armstrong was one of the founders of the local chapter of the Federated Women’s Clubs. She was also president of the Iowa Federation of Women’s Clubs and on the Board of Directors of the National Federation of Women’s Clubs. Ms. Armstrong was the first woman to serve on the Iowa Board of Conservation. She also served on the state Child Welfare Commission and on the Iowa Literacy Commission.

Mary Crawford Armstrong held strong beliefs about the higher education of women. Mary Crawford and her husband, E.F. Armstrong, gave Armstrong Park to Fort Dodge.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Armstrong, L.E.

L.E. Armstrong 1877-1936 L.E. Armstrong was a man of many trades and an active community leader. Born in Malmo, Sweden, Mr. Armstrong settled in Fort Dodge in 1877 working as a clerk in a general store. His business ambitions led him to Minnesota for a few years, but he returned to Fort Dodge in 1886. This is when he opened Plymouth Clothing Store.
Mr. Armstrong was the first person in this area to own a “horseless carriage” or automobile. The car was a Winton and cost Mr. Armstrong $1000.
After Mr. Armstrong made Plymouth Clothing Store, the leading clothing store in Northwest Iowa, he took up and interest in the gypsum and clay industries. After buying up land with deposits of gypsum and clay, Mr. Armstrong sold his clothing store and became president of his own Plymouth Gypsum Company in 1903 and of the Plymouth Clay Products in 1910. Mr. Armstrong also bought some farm land to fulfill his interests in agriculture. He then opened the Plymouth Stoneware Company in Marshalltown.
In 1919, Mr. Armstrong organized the Hawkeye Fair and Exposition and served as president. In 1923, he became president of the Fort Dodge National Bank. In 1927, he established the Louis E. Armstrong Trust and in 1929, he established the L.E. Armstrong Realty and Investment Company.
At the time of his death, Mr. Armstrong was making plans to open a soybean and cornstalk processing plant. Always conscientious about the well-being of Fort Dodge, Mr. Armstrong took great pride in his community. He contributed to the building funds of 25 churches in the county, St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital, the Lutheran Hospital, and the Hawkeye Fair and Exposition. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge and president of the Chamber of Commerce. Source: *The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Barbour, Dr. Edwin

Dr. Edwin Barbour


Mr. Edwin Barbour moved to Fort Dodge in 1966. He served as president of the Iowa Central Community College. Mr. Barbour has been seen as a pioneer and developer of the college.

He was born in Garden Grove, Iowa and graduated high school in Beaconsfield. Mr. Barbour furthered his education at Parsons College, received his master’s degree from the University of Colorado, and received his doctorate from Iowa State University. He was superintendent of schools in Eagle Grove for a number of years.

Active in many civic circles, Dr. Barbour was a member of the Fort Dodge Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce. He served on the boards of North Central Sheltered Workshop and Friendship Haven. Some of his honors include the Sertoma Sundowners Service to Mankind Award and the Virgil S. Lafomarcina Distinguished Alumni Laureate Award for the College of Education. He was honored by the Webster County Advocates for the Handicapped in 1983. Dr. Barbour was named the state Volunteer of the Year for the Association for Retarded Citizens in 1983. Dr. Barbour was the president of Iowa Area School Superintendents and chairman of the State Executive Committee for the Community College Athletics.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Baughman, Dr. Daniel

Dr. Daniel Baughman


One of the most significant pillars of early Fort Dodge industry can be attributed to Dr. Daniel Baughman, who founded the Fort Dodge Serum Company, which was later renamed Fort Dodge Laboratories. During his career, Dr. Baughman was a leader in animal serum and vaccine manufacturing, and president of the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association in 1931. He was a member of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Industry Advisory Committee to the War Production Board during World War II and took great pride in helping veterinary students finance their education at Iowa State College in Ames.

Daniel E. Baughman was born April 18, 1867, on the homestead of his parents, John Baughman (Bachmann) [2](1833-1914) and Catherine Naffziger Baughman (1836-1914) located in Panola Township, Woodford County, Illinois. He attended the Flanagan Mennonite Congregation.

In 1892, Baughman graduated with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree from a two-year course of training at the Chicago School of Veterinary Medicine, one of the premier veterinary schools of its day. He set up a practice in the community of Danvers, Illinois, where his grandparents and number of his other relatives lived. Dr. Baughman, being fond of horses, became a sought after veterinarian in the area, but conflict with the Amish ways caused him to look for other locations to move his practice.

In 1892, Daniel’s father, John Baughman, and older brother, Jacob N. Baughman, purchased 720 acres near Manson, in Calhoun County, Iowa, becoming the first Mennonites to locate in this area. Dr. Baughman upon a visit to Manson in the fall of 1897 discovered an opportunity in nearby Ft. Dodge to move his veterinary practice. Thus, he moved his wife Anna and daughter Ethel Baughman to Ft. Dodge from Danvers the following January of 1898. He thereupon became the first licensed veterinarian in the northern half of Iowa to be a graduate of a veterinary college. His advice was sought from other veterinarians from a wide area.

Dr. Baughman was primarily a large animal practitioner with emphasis on horses. Small animal practice in those times was seen as a very low priority and somewhat unnecessary. Cats and dogs were an unnecessary appendage to the typical Midwestern farming enterprise. They shared the same skim milk that was used to slop the hogs. The veterinary care they received was performed gratuitously to the delight of the children of the farm family.

In 1912 an opportunity arose to manufacture, retail and counsel with respect to a new serum to cure hog cholera. Hog cholera was one of the most costly diseases to the economy of the state of Iowa and it was for that reason that it financed the research on this disease at a farm near Ames, Iowa. The anti-hog cholera serum was discovered in 1906 by employees of the United States Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Animal Industry and was first used on farms in 1907. The process was patented by the government. Dr. Baughman bought the serum from the government and started injecting it in swine at Ames, Iowa, through a business he established with a former employee of the Bureau of Animal Industry, a Mr. Hamilton, which they called the Ames Vaccine Company. Dr. Baughman hired Hamilton because of his experience in working with the manufacture of the serum for the federal government. Within a year he moved the business to Ft. Dodge where he renamed it the Fort Dodge Serum Company. Hamilton stayed on for four years before moving west. Although there were other makers of the serum, Dr. Baughman became the dominant producer because of his excellent management capabilities. One of the keys to his success was the hiring of Howard Shore of the Bureau of Animal Industry to be his production supervisor in 1919. He held that position until his death in 1952. Shore, being a former employee of the Virus and Serum Division of the Department, played a key role in obtaining approval of the USDA of the serums developed by the company. In 1932, because of the addition of many biological and pharmaceutical products to its line, the Company’s name was changed to Fort Dodge Laboratories.

In 1919 he also hired Scott Barrett from Cutter Laboratories in Chicago as sales manager, who subsequently became president of the company when Dr. Baughman sold it in 1945 to American Home Products. Additionally he hired Dr. H. P. Lefler in 1919, also formerly with the Department of Animal Industry as the director of the production of hog cholera serum and virus. These three men-Shore, Barrett and Lefler—with Dr. Baughman, directed the affairs of the company until 1945 when it was sold. The success of the vaccination effort nationwide was realized in 1969 when hog cholera in the United States was eradicated even though the highest vaccination rate at any time in the past did not exceed 60%.

During the Depression, the business fell upon hard times when farmers simply did not have the money to have their hogs vaccinated. But the company had the good fortune in 1938 to develop a vaccine for sleeping sickness in horses, a disease that was plaguing the draft horse population in Iowa and southern Minnesota. It was a virus that affected the brain of the horse, causing it to walk to one side in circles and eventually go down and die. This development secured the company’s future, but it marked the beginning of the end for the draft horse as farmers now had an excuse to buy their first tractor.

There are few associates of Dr. Baughman still living, but many of those associates, including secretaries, who held even a few shares of stock in his company, benefited greatly financially when the stock as eventually converted to American Home Products stock.

Dr. Baughman passed away on July 8, 1960. He was widely known and regarded as a man of courage and unquestioned integrity.



Bennett, Captain S. J.

Captain S. J. Bennett - Mayor, Supervisor, Businessman

Captain S. J. Bennett came to Fort Dodge from Boone in January, 1870, and ever since his arrival has been closely identified with all the activities of the city.

Born in Orleans county. New York, he came west when a young man, spending some time in Ohio and Illinois, and finally locating in St Louis, where he remained until the breaking out of the Civil war. His war service covered a period of four years and nine months. He first enlisted in the Twenty-third Missouri Infantry, and later in Company A, Twelfth Missouri Cavalry, of which he was captain. At the close of the war, the brigades of which Captain Bennett's troops formed a part, were sent against the Indians, who were committing depredations in Wyoming. The winter of 1865-6 was spent at Fort Laramie, and in April, 1866, Captain Bennett was mustered out at Fort Leavenworth. Soon after this the surveyor general of Kansas appointed him to conduct a survey of the Solomon river region. This occupied the summer of 1866. Failing by two days to secure a contract for the survey of No Man's Land, Captain Bennett gave up surveying. Having married at Lawrence, Kansas, he soon went to Boone, Iowa, and later moved to Fort Dodge.

For a number of years, Captain Bennett engaged in the tobacco business in Fort Dodge. Then in 1884, he went west to assist his brother. Nelson Bennett, who was doing construction work on the Northern Pacific, then being built through the mountains of Montana. No sooner did he arrive on the scene of operations, than Nelson Bennett was compelled to leave for New York City, and the entire responsibility of the work was thrown upon his brother. Although new to the work, yet he completed it satisfactorily and then assumed the superintendence of the construction of the Stampede tunnel through the Cascade range, a contract which his brother had secured in the east. The work was more difficult, with its approaches, two and one-half miles in length, yet Captain Bennett completed it five days ahead of time, thus saving a heavy penalty Later he superintended the construction of still another tunnel west of the Cascades.

His railway construction work completed, he became interested in real estate in Tacoma and Portland, and was for a time first vice-president of the Tacoma street railway.

In politics Mr. Bennett was a republican. He served four years in the city council in 1885-1886, 1895-6, and was four times elected mayor in 1889. 1901, 1905, 1909. He was a member of the Webster county board of supervisors in 1878, serving until April, 1884, when he resigned to go west. He returned to Fort Dodge sometime in the mid-1890’s.

In 1898, Captain Bennett was appointed to fill the supervisor vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Julius and served until 1901. During this period he was chairman of the board of supervisors and was most instrumental in the building of the badly needed new court house. The successful completion of the new building was due to the efforts and splendid leadership of S.J. Bennett. He devoted practically his entire time to the task; and in the efficient public work, which he did, he won the approval of every loyal citizen and taxpayer of the county. In 1909, S.J. Bennett was again elected mayor, serving for a term of two years; at the close of the term he was talked of for reelection, but on account of ill health it was not deemed advisable for him to again enter the race. Mr. Bennett died at his home in Fort Dodge, May 24, 1911.

Captain S.J. Bennett gained the recognition as a loyal community servant and a man of great executive ability and generosity.


*IowaGenWeb Project…. Chapter 12 - The Mayors of Fort Dodge

Butler, J.B.

J.B. Butler

Settling in Fort Dodge with his family in 1868, J.B. Butler brought to this town devotion for public welfare and relentless effort for the betterment of our community. J.B. Butler taught country school in his early years and served as a county superintendent. After studying law, Butler was admitted to the bar in 1897. In 1898, he founded a farm loan and real estate business which he ran in Fort Dodge for 48 years until his death in 1940. Butler was a member of the Fort Dodge school board for 27 years and was one of the first presidents of the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce recognized his efforts by making him an honorary president in 1938.

Mr. Butler also served on the state board of control of state institutions and as chairperson of the board for two years. Although deeply dedicated to the public realm, Mr. Butler cherished the time he spent with family. Butler Elementary School was named in J.B. Butler’s honor.

Source: The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Coffin, Lorenzo S.

Lorenzo Stephen Coffin

(April 9, 1823–January 17, 1915)

Lorenzo S. Coffin became known as one of the most honored sons of the Hawkeye state because of his leadership and efforts as a reformer and as a man of great integrity who was committed to helping his fellow man.

Lorenzo Coffin was a successful farmer, agricultural leader, social reformer, and humanitarian. He was born on April 9, 1823 in Alton, New Hampshire. The son of a farmer and Baptist clergyman, he was educated at a local academy and went on to Oberlin College in Ohio. His religious upbringing and his exposure to the social reform ideas that dominated at Oberlin during the 1840s molded his thinking and activities for the rest of his life. Coffin’s home in Ohio was a station on the famous Underground Railroad when slavery existed in the land and his strong abolition principles led him to ally himself with the Republican Party when it was formed to prevent the further extension of slavery.

In 1854 Coffin decided to move to Iowa to pursue the economic opportunity afforded as lands were just being opened for white settlement. Coffin acquired 160 acres by preemption near Fort Dodge. The new land was not kind to Coffin. His wife died shortly after his arrival, and he lost his first crops to prairie fires and grasshoppers. For 17 years he lived in the same small cabin.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Coffin, moved by abolitionist fervor, volunteered for service and was assigned to the 32nd Iowa Infantry. He advanced rapidly up the ranks from private to sergeant, receiving special recognition for his bravery and leadership. Later he was appointed regimental chaplain.

After the Civil War, Coffin returned to farming. His farm, Willow Edge, became one of the showplaces of progressive farming. He achieved great success in stock raising, introducing pure-bred varieties of hogs, sheep, cattle, and horses, and he was recognized for his efforts by being elected president of the Iowa Breeders Association.

While successfully conducting his private business affairs, Mr. Coffin never confines his efforts selfishly to his work. From 1859 to 1876 he used to leave his home Sunday mornings very early and on horseback would ride to different parts of the county, where no minister was sent, and preach the Gospel. He would often ride forty miles and in return never received a dollar in pay, doing it all for the benefit of his fellowmen, during which time he also conducted a great many funerals.

In 1872 he became one of the first farm editors for the Fort Dodge Messenger. When Iowa organized farm institutes, Coffin was one of the first to travel around the state giving lectures on agricultural topics. When farmers began to organize politically, Coffin held leadership roles, first in local and state agricultural societies, and later in the Grange and farmer Alliance movements. He was instrumental in organizing farmer-related cooperatives: creameries, a farmer mutual insurance company, and a farmer-owned barbed wire factory.

Coffin's interests broadened when the state, in an attempt to attract settlers and to encourage economic growth, established an immigration board in 1870. Coffin was chosen as one of the board's first recruiting agents. In the 1870s he became a land agent for the Des Moines River Navigation Company and later for the Des Moines and Fort Dodge Railroad.

In 1883 he was appointed to the Iowa Railroad Commission. It was in this role that he first became aware of the safety problems that railroad employees faced. Railroading in the post-Civil War period was the nation's most hazardous occupation. According to Coffin, in 1881 alone more than 30,000 men were either killed or maimed in rail accidents. Coffin's personal observation of a brakeman losing his fingers in the act of switching cars led him to become a self-proclaimed spokesman for workers' interests. For 10 years Coffin spent much of his time speaking to influential groups of people at the state and national level lobbying for the adoption of state and federal safety legislation. In 1893, President Benjamin Harrison signed a bill requiring automatic couplers and air brakes on railroad cars. As an acknowledgement to Coffin for his years of dedicated work to get this law passed, President Harrison gave Coffin the pen with which he signed that bill.

Coffin's railroad reforms did not stop with the safety laws. He advocated, without success, a Sunday no-work law; he organized the Railroad Men's Temperance Association; through his efforts a railroad men's retirement home was established in Highland Park, Illinois; and he worked to create a railroad men's Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) as an alternative to the street life and saloons.

In the 1890s Coffin became interested in the problems of ex-convicts and unwed mothers. In 1901 he organized the Iowa Benevolent Association and, donated 20 acres of his own land along with $10,000 to establish Hope Hall, a halfway house for released convicts. In 1910 he established a home for young unwed mothers. This home could house 30 mothers and over the course of its operation, it cared for and assisted over 1,300 unwed mothers.

Coffin's reform interests naturally took him into politics. Like most Iowans of the time, he was a staunch Republican, but the party's failure to address some issues drew him to third parties. In 1907 he was the Prohibition Party's candidate for governor. The following year he was the nominee of the United Christian Party for vice president.

Mr. Coffin was a great friend to the poor and needy, the oppressed and the suffering; believing that the spark of divinity is in every individual and may be fanned into flame, he was ever ready to extend a helping hand to those in need of either material or moral assistance. Quiet and unostentatious in manner, seeking not self-aggrandizement in any direction, Lorenzo S. Coffin became known as one of the most honored sons of the Hawkeye state, not because he had won distinction in politics, or even because he had attained exceptional success in business, but because his efforts were unselfishly given for the benefit of his fellowmen.

Lorenzo Coffin died on January 17, 1915. His burial site, a mile west of Fort Dodge, is on the National Register of Historic Places.


*The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa

*The History of Fort Dodge and Webster County… by H.M. Pratt

*Railroads in the 19th Century…. Robert L. Frey

*The Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography (1988)

*Lorenzo S. Coffin – Farmer…. Palimpsest (1941) pages 289-92… contributor: Roger Natte

*Annals of Iowa 5 (1903), 626–29; “Mr. Coffin’s Great Reforms

Constantine, Steve & Demetra

Steven & Demetra Constantine

Steve: 1894-1991

Demetra: 1912-2004

Steve Constantine was born in 1894 in Niata, Greece, (near Sparta); one of ten children. At the age of 15, traveling alone and speaking no English, he immigrated to the United States in 1910. Constantine travelled by horseback from his home to Leonidion where he boarded a small boat that took him to the port city, Piraus. Then, an 18-day trip on the steamship Athena brought him to Ellis Island where he entered the United States. Unable to speak a word of English, Steve Constantine then travelled by train for eight days on the Great Western railway wearing an identification tag around his neck. Steve ended up in Omaha and spent a few days with distant Greek relatives before moving on to Fremont, Nebraska, to live with his brother.

Steve stayed in Fremont for a short period of time, then returned to Omaha where other family members had settled. He worked in his relatives’ candy and ice cream store in Omaha for two and a half years. He learned English with the help of a school teacher who spent her summers working in the store.

In 1913, Steve and his brother, John, from Fremont, Nebraska, learned of the availability of a store in Fort Dodge. They saw an opportunity and together they bought the store and set it up to make candy and ice cream. The first store was named “Olympia.” They also sold fresh fruit.

During their early years in Fort Dodge, Steve and his brother John were young men far away from their family and friends in Greece. They suffered from loneliness. Many believe it was these feelings of loneliness and memories of family that made Steve a very considerate and kind person. He was known in Fort Dodge as a friend to people of all ages and a “listening post” for many troubled people. He never violated a confidence.

Nine years later in 1922, the Constantine brothers were joined by a third brother, Chris, who had recently arrived from Greece. The three brothers moved the store’s location to the southeast corner of Central Avenue and 9th Street and changed the name to “Constantine’s”.

In 1925, Steve became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Demetra Gearas Constantine was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1912; the daughter of Greek immigrants. She graduated from Morningside College with degrees in English and literature. She also took summer courses at the University of Southern California and the University of Colorado. Following graduation, Demetra taught elementary school for eight years and then became a case worker for the Dallas Chapter of the American Red Cross in Texas during World War II. She was later transferred to the national headquarters in Washington, D. C., where she served as an employment officer until six months after World War II. Demetra returned to Sioux City after the war and worked for the T. S. Martin Company, a department store and dry goods store.

Highly educated, Demetra enjoyed teaching and especially enjoyed children. She wrote numerous children’s stories and she was particularly fond of writing poetry.

Demetra married her husband, Steve Constantine in 1949. They had known each other for many years, having met at events at the Greek Orthodox Church in Sioux City. They joked that all the Greeks in Iowa knew one another. After they married, she joined Steve and his family in the restaurant.

As Constantine’s restaurant grew over the years, it eventually employed other family members. Constantine’s sold homemade chocolates, English toffee, and ice cream and baked goods. The restaurant was also known for its delicious lunch counter meals, especially their delicious French fries and cherry phosphate drinks, which made it a populate hangout for teenagers after school. Demetra believed the business grew and was successful because they lived by the mantra “the customer is always right”.

Demetra was always sorry that Steve and his brothers weren’t able to further their education, but Steve pointed out that in his youth in Greece, and again as an immigrant in America, it was a case of “Go to school and starve, or go to work and eat!” He chose to eat – and to help others eat.

Demetra, besides working in the restaurant, was very active in the community, serving on numerous organizations and boards including the Civic Music Club, the Women’s Club, the American Association of University Women, American Red Cross, Ingelside, P.E.O. and the Blanden Memorial Art Museum board of directors. Her priorities were St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, family and friends. She considered her church her first priority because she believed her faith would be with her forever. She and her husband Steve had no children of their own, and because of that, they treasured their extended family and friends all through their lives.

Steve passed away in 1991 and Demetra died in 2004 at the age of 92 and was buried in North Lawn Cemetery in Fort Dodge.

Constantine’s was an iconic restaurant in downtown Fort Dodge for over five decades. It closed in 1970. A restaurant at the location then operated for another ten years as Gill’s, under the ownership of Floyd Gill.


*Fort Dodge Messenger

*Des Moines Register

*Fort Dodge Today Magazine

Damon, E.O.

E.O. Damon 1876-1948

E.O. Damon was a widely acclaimed architect from Massachusetts. Mr. Damon came to Fort Dodge to marry Georgia Mason. He graduated from Amherst College in 1899. He studied naval architecture at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. He also traveled in Europe and the British Isles in 1900 and 1901. He and his wife moved out east while he worked for the Bureau of Constructions, becoming superintendent of construction in the Bureau of Lighthouses from 1908-1910. From 1910 to 1912, Mr. Damon was supervisor of architects for the treasury department in Alabama and Mississippi.

Mr. Damon came back to Fort Dodge in 1912 to open his own practice in domestic architecture. He drew the plans for buildings such as the Carver Building, the Blanden Art Museum, the Corpus Christi Convent, and many others. He collaborated with Frank Griffith in building a junior high school. At the time of Mr. Damon’s death, he was working on designs for Friendship Haven. Mr. Damon was responsible for the building of many schools and churches in this area. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects, Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, Ashlar Lodge, and the A.F. and A.M. Elks club. Mr. Damon directed the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce for a time. Source: *The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Feelhaver, Carl

Carl Feelhaver


The students and their schools were in Carl Feelhaver’s best interest during the years he served as a school administrator. Recognized as one of Fort Dodge’s finest educational professional and leader, Carl Feelhaver served as superintendent of the Fort Dodge Community School System for over twenty years.

Born in Nebraska, Mr. Feelhaver attended school and college in his native state. He moved to New York City to receive his master’s degree in education from Columbia University. He served in the army during WWI. He returned to marry Agnes Korbel and pursue his career in education. Mr. Feelhaver was superintendent of the Fort Dodge Community School District from 1947 to 1967 after he had been principal of Fort Dodge Senior High from 1933 to 1947.

Many of the school district’s buildings were built or remodeled during the time Mr. Feelhaver served as superintendent. The biggest project was the erection of the current FDSH. Mr. Feelhaver helped work on the transition of Fort Dodge Junior College to Iowa Central Community College. ICCC is no longer part of the Fort Dodge school district. Some improvements Mr. Feelhaver helped invoke were the expansion of the adult education program at the college, a more permanent recording system and use of microfilming all school records, the creation of special education programs, hot lunch, and central libraries at all elementary schools.

After retiring as superintendent, Mr. Feelhaver went to ICCC to serve as the coordinator of instructional services. At the end of the 1966-1967 school year, the Fort Dodge public school systems honored Mr. Feelhaver with “C.T. Feelhaver Week.” During this week, the naming of the Feelhaver Elementary School was revealed, a new car was given to him and his wife, and Mr. Feelhaver received the Lions Club annual Community Service Award.

In addition to this work as a school administrator, Mr. Feelhaver served as president of the Fort Dodge Noon Rotary Club. He also served on the boards of the YMCA, Webster County Red Cross, United Way, Blanden Art Gallery, Fort Museum, Chamber of Commerce, and a lay advisory board of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. In the late 1960s, he served on Governor Harold Hughes’ Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Granger, Clemmon

Clemmon Granger


Mr. Clemmon Granger ran many successful business adventures in Fort Dodge. He was remembered for his promotion of public utilities.

Mr. Granger was born in Michigan and attended Crown Point Academy. After his work in Illinois, he came to Fort Dodge in 1879. As a successful businessman, Mr. Granger opened his own business. It was an implement and seed store that Mr. Granger ran with George Wise called “Granger and Wise.” Later, the partnership was formed between P.M. Mitchell, hence, changing the name of the company to Granger and Mitchell. For a few years, C.E. Brown took a financial interest in the store and the company name was changed once more to C.L. Granger and Company.

Mr. Granger was elected mayor five different times. During his time as mayor, the city voted for the installment of a waterworks system, and he was in office when the street railway franchise was granted. Mr. Granger was a big supporter of public utilities. In his civic activities, Mr. Granger belonged to Ashlar Dodge, the Calvary Commandery, and Fort Dodge Lodge.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Griffith, Frank W.

Frank W. Griffith


Frank Whitecombe Griffith was one of the most eminent architects in the Midwest. He came to Fort Dodge in 1901, opening his own architectural office. He designed many gypsum industry buildings in the Dakotas, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Iowa. He also designed processing machines for gypsum. While still owning his own architectural business, Frank Griffith held the position of works manager at the United States Gypsum Company.

Mr. Griffith designed more than 100 churches throughout the state. He was the architect responsible for Lutheran Hospital, Friendship Haven, and many of the public school buildings.

Mr. Griffith also served as civilian representative of the U.S. government in the construction of naval air operation training corps facilities.

As a member of the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Mr. Griffith was Sunday School Superintendent, parish lay reader, member of vestry, and he served as the senior warden for a number of years. He served on the school board and was the chairman of the building committee for FDSH.

Mr. Griffith was a member of Ashlar Masonic Lodge, the Delta Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Cavalry, Za-Ga-Zig, Kiwanis, and the Chamber of Commerce. The most important club to Mr. Griffith was the Boy Scouts of America. He won an award for his efforts in 1933, and he

served as a member of the National Advisory Committee of Boy Scouts of America.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Wray, Jett

Jett Wray


Mrs. Jett D. Wray was born in Coin, Iowa, in the southwestern part of the state, but lived most of her live in Fort Dodge. She married Floyd Douglas, who preceeded her in death. She later married J. Frank Wray. She and Frank made their home in Fort Dodge. They had one son, John Douglas (please see photo of Jett Wray and son John on the right).

Jett attended Fort Dodge schools, and following graduation from high school, took up china painting, studying with Miss Lizzie Newberry. Miss Newberry's hand painted china was found throughout Fort Dodge.

Jett and her husband Frank bought the Kime Sanitarium in 1928. It had been a sanitarium that provided care and respite for tuberculosis patients. The Wrays had the interious of the large stone building remodeled for their private residence and also for a restaurant called

"The Wraywood Club". Mr. Wray died in 1932.

Following her husband's death, Mrs. Wray held weddings and receptions in the building. In 1958, she turned the mansion into seven apartments and occupied one of the apartments until moving to the Wahkonsa Hotel in 1965.

Mrs. Wray was instrumental in the organization of the Wraywood Heights Club, which was made up of women who lived in that area of the city. She would attend the meetings, often bringing photos of past eents at Wraysood.

Jett Wray was the first woman nominated by a major party in Iowa to run for Congress.

Wraywood Residence and Restaurant "The Wraywood Club"

Deardorf-Catherine Vincent

Catherine Vincent Deardorf

Catherine Vincent Deardorf established the Charitable Foundation bearing her name late in her life. Her family had acquired wealth in early Fort Dodge, and she chose to acknowledge and thank the community via the foundation. She selected professional advisers and trusted friends to serve as the first directors at the foundation’s establishment in 1993.

After graduating from Fort Dodge High School, Catherine attended Radcliffe College for two years before graduating from Columbia University’s School of Journalism in 1929. Catherine was the social editor of the Fort Dodge Messenger for a number of years, and its owner from 1959 to 1963.

In 1936, she married architect John Deardorf. The couple made their home in San Diego until 1958 when they moved to Catherine’s Aunt Helen Vincent Roberts’ home across from the Blanden Art Museum in Fort Dodge. Catherine referred to the home as the Roberts House throughout her life, but it is now often referred to as the

Deardorf Home. The house was part of the bequest Mrs. Deardorf left her Charitable Foundation. Because she wished the home to benefit the Blanden Art Museum, which she had served as a trustee, donor, and volunteer, its ownership and funds she had designated for its maintenance were transferred to the Blanden Charitable Foundation in 2006.

Initial foundation holdings were exclusively American Home Products stock. We are told that Catherine was advised by her father to invest in the local Fort Dodge Serum Company, which at the time of her establishing the foundation had become part of the Animal Health Division of American Home Products. Foundation directors soon began to diversify the portfolio, which continues to provide funds for the grants made annually.

The Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation has provided financial support for many arts projects in Fort Dodge, including “Over the Treetops”, a mosaic mural at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport, “Axiom”, a sculpture at Iowa Central Community College, “Stargate 6”, a sculpture at UnityPoint Regional Medical Center, “Parade”, a sculpture at the corner of Kenyon Road and south 8th Street in Fort Dodge and “DNA Strand”, in the BioScience Building at Iowa Central Community College.

Catherine Vincent Deardorf passed away March 7, 1994, and is buried at the historic Oakland Cemetery, Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Habhab, Judge Albert

Judge Albert Habhab

Albert Habhab was born in Fort Dodge on September 6, 1925. The son of Lebanese immigrants, the Fort Dodge native has devoted a lifetime of service to his fellow man — as an Army private in World War II, as the city’s mayor for 14 years and as a judge for 23 years. As a judge, Albert Habhab was appointed to the District Court in 1975 and the Court of Appeals in 1987 and served as chief judge of the Court of Appeals in 1997.

Few have played a larger role in the history of this city than the man born to Dea and Moses Habhab, who both entered the United States through Ellis Island as newly married teenagers and found their way to Fort Dodge to settle and raise a family.

Albert Habhab attended school in Fort Dodge and graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High in 1944. Young Albert was 18 when he was drafted into the Army on Jan. 25, 1944, just after graduating early from Fort Dodge Senior High. He served with distinction during World War II.

Habhab was discharged from the Army in early 1946 and began classes at Fort Dodge Junior College that fall. After two years, he entered the University of Iowa and graduated with a law degree in 1952. He returned to Fort Dodge and started his own law practice. Ten years later, attorney Alan Loth invited him to join his law practice. He practice law for 23 years,

Habhab was 34 years old when he was elected in 1960 to his first two-year term as mayor, deciding to run for the nonpartisan position because he thought there were “things that needed to be done” in Fort Dodge. Many thought he was too young; previous office-holders were much older. But he won election and then re-election six more terms. Habhab was active in the Republican Party but took a non-partisan approach to governing as the mayor of Fort Dodge.

Judge Habhab served as mayor of Fort Dodge from 1960 to 1974; the longest tenure of any Fort Dodge mayor before or since. During his tenure as mayor, Habhab saw his city grow in population and in land area. The city reached its highest population of 31,263 around 1970. The territory of the city expanded from 5.2 square miles to 16.4 square miles. Much of the infrastructure that Fort Dodge and area residents value today had its formative roots during the span of Habhab’s career as the city’s mayor.

Judge Habhab counts as his greatest accomplishment the urban renewal improvements made in the 1960s to address constant flooding from the Des Moines River, working with then-U.S. Sen. Harold Hughes to secure the necessary federal funding. He supported during his term as mayor the building of both Williams Drive and Veterans Bridge (on First Avenue South and over the railroad tracks), creating more efficient traffic flows through Fort Dodge.

Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex had its roots during his tenure — thanks to land donated by the Rogers family — and continues to bring recreational and financial (state girls softball championship) benefits to the city. As mayor, Habhab dug the first spade of dirt for the present site of Iowa Central Community College, which had been located in a wing of Fort Dodge Senior High, and which he considers one of northwest Iowa’s greatest assets. To expand the Fort Dodge Regional Airport, he worked through condemnation proceedings to double the size of the land on which the airport is located. Also during his mayoral tenure, the fire station was moved from the Fort Dodge Municipal Building to its present location, land was acquired for the present city landfill, the Airport Commission was created and the city limits were expanded to control and encourage home building. Albert Habhab when speaking about all of the things accomplished during his tenure as mayor of Fort Dodge always gives the credit to the City Council and the good working relationship they had, noting that it always took a team effort to get things done.

On September 22, 1960, John F. Kennedy, then a senator from Massachusetts seeking the presidency of the United States, spoke to an estimated 15,000 people on the City Square. Mayor Habhab introduced Senator Kennedy that day and later received a thank you note from him.

In 1965, union workers at the Fort Dodge IBP plant went on strike and the walkout became violent. Mayor Habhab reached out to Governor Harold Hughes for assistance. A meeting was convened in the Governor’s office with Mayor Habhab along with union representatives and IBP management to his office in the State Capitol Building in Des Moines. After contentious discussion and after the Governor evicted Mayor Habhab and the lawyers representing the two parties from his office, a deal to resolve the strike was finally reached.

Like so many men and women of the “Greatest Generation.” Albert Habhab served his country in World War II. Al was 18 when he was drafted into the Army on Jan. 25, 1944. Nine months later, his unit of the 87th Infantry Division fought in the Battle of the Bulge and the date of Dec. 16, 1944, was indelibly seared forever in Habhab’s mind.

Facing intense German fire on that day, Habhab’s squad was ordered to take out a machine gun nest. One of the men, Arthur Kingsberry, was hit by bullets and, Habhab recalled, was lying in a field “yelling and screaming, ‘I don’t want to die’ and ‘help me, help me.'”

“I told the guys if they would cover me, I would go back and get Kingsberry. So I got rid of my pack but kept my rifle and ammunition belt and crawled on my belly to where Kingsberry was. He was shot up bad and was bleeding profusely. I had my first-aid packs, and I patched him up the best I could. The Germans kept shooting. We could hear the zing of bullets. Finally, the Germans stopped firing. Perhaps they thought we were both dead. There was indeed divine intervention. I threw Kingsberry’s arm over me. He was a big fellow and I was a little guy, I weighed 100-125 pounds. I then dragged him to where the other guys were.”

Habhab developed trench foot a week after rescuing Kingsberry in the frozen conditions of France and was evacuated to a hospital in Paris, and then to England, where doctors were able to save his feet from amputation. Habhab was awarded the Bronze Star, three battle stars and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Habhab was discharged from the Army in early 1946 and began classes at Fort Dodge Junior College that fall. After two years, he entered the University of Iowa and graduated with a law degree in 1952. It was at the University of Iowa that he met and fell in love with Janet and the two were married in July 1953.

After practicing law for several years, Albert’s long ambition to become a judge was fulfilled when he was appointed a judge in the Second Judicial District by then-Governor Robert Ray in 1975 and served for 13 years. Habhab was then appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals by then-Governor Terry Branstad in 1988 and later was selected by his fellow judges as chief judge. He left the court in 1997 and served as a senior judge for eight more years.

Albert Habhab also served his community by serving on numerous organizations. The list of organizations he has served is long. And so, too, is his list of honors. His commitment to service and to leadership is reflected in his statement: “If you don’t think things are going the way you should, get involved. If you really, truly believe in what you’re doing, that’s the major part. You’re going to be subject to criticism along the way, that’s true. But you need to be calm about the criticism. You need to believe in what you’re doing.”

Janet Habhab has also been a strong community supporter and has stood with her husband in the fulfillment of many endeavors to make Fort Dodge a better community in which to live and raise their family. Mrs. Habhab has also advocated for programs that promote strong family values, higher education and assistance for the disadvantaged members of the community.

Few are bigger cheerleaders for his community than Albert Habhab, who said, “I think Fort Dodge and Webster County are forging ahead. I think Fort Dodge has grown by people giving of their time and talents. Frankly, it has exceeded my expectations.”

Albert Habhab and his wife Janet have been married for more than six decades and they still lead an active lifestyle with close friends and are proud of their two children (Robert and Mary Beth), two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The Habhabs continue to live in the same house overlooking Snell Park since 1963.


*Messenger Spotlight – April 2, 2017 …. by Paul Stevens

*Messenger Newspaper Editorials…. by Walt Stevens

Hackett, Alice

Alice Hackett


Alice Hackett was a prominent music teacher. She was born in Fort Dodge (the former Alice Wright) and was placed in the home of her two aunts and uncle as a child after her mother died. She began studying piano as a child and later took piano lessons from Mrs. Jennie Ringland Smeltzer and with E. Robert Sohmitz of the Paris Conservatoire. She married John Hackett, a prominent real estate man.

Mrs. Hackett studied at the University of Chicago and later received a bachelor’s of music degree from the MacPhail School in Minneapolis and then a master’s of music in voice in 1929. She also studied at the University of Madrid and the University of Menendez Pelayo in Santander, Spain. She made frequent annual trips to Europe to study and to attend music festivals. She taught music in Texas, Los Angeles, the Chicago Musical College and later, many years in Fort Dodge. Her pupils received the highest ratings in the Iowa State and National Guild Piano Auditions and in competitions to play with orchestras throughout Iowa.

Her favorite composers were the classicists: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart; Romanticists: Chopin, Schumann, Schubert, Liszt and the modern composers Prokofiev, Copeland, and Stravinsky.

Mrs. Hackett received many honors through the years, including Master Teacher of Iowa Music Teachers Association, and was placed in the Hall of Fame by the National Guild of Piano Teachers. She was a member of the Fort Dodge Community Concert Board and the Fort Dodge Symphony Board.

Mrs. Hackett expected perfection from her students. She required that each student practice for one hour per day (with a parent) and that they memorize many pieces of music each year. She had many accomplished students – probably the most well know were Fort Dodge natives Steven Zehr, who became a concert pianist in Europe, and Scott Dunn, a former ophthalmologist who changed careers to become a conductor, pianist and arranger-orchestras.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Vincent, Leon

Leon Vincent


Leon Vincent was born at Waterford, Pennsylvania, February 27, 1847. He was educated at Waterford Academy and had also practical training as a civil engineer. It was in this capacity that he came to Iowa in 1867. His first work was surveying for the construction of the Sioux City and Pacific Railroad., now a part of the Northwestern system. He continued this line of activity until the great era of railroad building was ended by the panic of 1873.

In 1872 he was married to Miss Adelaide Whitney of Waterford, Pennsylvania. For several years, Vincent worked as assistant cashier for the Merchants’ National Bank which was merged into the First National Bank. For many years, he was connected with the Iowa Plaster Association where his mechanical knowledge was of great service.

There are many early Fort Dodge businesses that Leon Vincent helped mold. In addition to being a cashier at Merchants’ National Bank, he later became secretary-treasurer of the Iowa Plaster Association. He found his way into the gypsum mill business in 1899 and managed the Blanden Mill in 1902. Vincent helped design the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and the layout of Oleson Park.

Leon Vincent went into business with the family in 1911. Harry and Donald Vincent, the sons of Leon’s first cousin, Webb, joined Leon in founding Vincent Clay Products. Leon invented many of the machines used there. Al Loomis, another notable Fort Dodge resident, is a grandson of Leon Vincent.

Leon Vincent’s obituary stated:

“Leon Vincent was a rare combination of high, abstract thinking and practical, efficient service. He was a dreamer whose dreaming always bore fruit. Self-educated along many lines all the way from bookkeeping to astronomy, he always had practical results and not mere words to show for his study and thinking.

He was a very inconspicuous citizen except when the city needed his expert services; then he was always on hand. A graceful church edifice, a splendid business building, an efficient manufacturing plant testifies to the practical skill which his study and love of architecture and building enabled him to put at the service of community or friends. His love of nature and of a beautiful city and his interest in recreation for the people were embodied in his years of volunteer service in the laying out and beautifying of Oleson Park.

Leon Vincent and his brothers, Harry and Donald, founded Vincent Clay Products, Inc., in 1911. Many of the plant’s inventions and processes were created by Leon Vincent.

Having acquired a comfortable competency by years of thrift and useful work, he cared nothing further for money or the things that money could buy. The community is the poorer for his going, the richer for his life and its memory."



*Twist and Shout, January, 2000

*Fort Dodge Today, September 1991

Dodge, Henry

Henry Dodge


In 1851, the military post, Fort Dodge, was name in honor of Colonel Henry Dodge.

Henry Dodge was born in 1782 in Indiana and was raised in Kentucky. At age 14 Dodge moved to Missouri to live with his father, who ran salt and lead operations.

In 1805 Dodge was appointed deputy sheriff, reporting to his father. In 1806 Dodge was recruited by Aaron Burr to participate in Burr's spurious attempt at creating a new country in the southwest, an incident known as the Burr conspiracy. Dodge and a companion went so far as to report to a concentration point for the affair in New Madrid. However, when they learned that Thomas Jefferson had deemed it a treasonous act, they immediately abandoned the effort and returned home. Dodge was indicted as a participant in the conspiracy, but the charges were dropped.

In the War of 1812, Dodge enlisted as a captain in the Missouri State Volunteers. He was part of a mounted company. He finished the war as a major general of the Missouri militia. His crowning achievement was saving about 150 Miami Indians from certain massacre after their raid on the Boone's Lick settlement in the summer of 1814.

Dodge emigrated with his large family and slaves inherited from his father to the U.S. Mineral District in early July 1827. He served as a commander of militia during the Red Bird uprising of that year, and in October settled a large tract in present-day downtown Dodgeville, known then as "Dodge's Camp."

Dodge rose to prominence during the Black Hawk War of 1832. As colonel of the western Michigan Territory Militia, Dodge brought a credible fighting force into being in a very short time. Dodge and the mounted volunteers, with four companies of Territorial militia and one of Illinois mounted rangers, took to the field as the "Michigan Mounted Volunteers." Dodge and his men saw action at the battles of Horseshoe Bend, Wisconsin Heights, and Bad Axe. In June 1832, he accepted a commission as Major of the Battalion of Mounted Rangers, commissioned by an Act of Congress.

The ranger experiment lasted a year, and then, in 1833, was replaced by the United States Regiment of Dragoons. Dodge served as colonel; one of his captains was Nathan Boone, Daniel Boone's youngest son. Dodge was the colonel of the United States Regiment of Dragoons which was the first mounted Regular Army unit in United States Army history. From 1833 to 1836 he commanded a contingent of U.S. dragoons to protect the U.S. frontier against the Indians, and made several expeditions to the western plains.

In the summer of 1833, Colonel Dodge engaged on First Dragoon Expedition and made successful contact with the Comanches. He was an Indian fighter, most noted for his 1835 peace mission commissioned by President Andrew Jackson, who had called out the U.S. Dragoons to assist.

In 1833, the Black Hawk Purchase opened Iowa for settlement by American settlers moving west into Iowa. To make the area safe from Indians and prepare it for eventual settlement, Colonel Dodge commissioned Lieutenant Colonel Stephan W. Kearny to command and lead the 1st U.S. Dragoons through Iowa. Kearny’s three company commanders were Captain Nathan Boone, Captain E.V. Sumner, and Lieutenant Albert Lea. (Note: Colonel Kearny military career was very notable as he eventually became the brigadier-general of the Armies of the West and ultimately became the Governor of Californian in 1847).

The 1st United States Dragoons explored Iowa after the Black Hawk Purchase put the area under U.S. control. In the summer of 1835, the regiment blazed a trail along the Des Moines river and established outposts from present-day Des Moines to Fort Dodge. The size of the U.S. Regiment of dragoons was fixed at 34 officers and 1,715 men.

Henry Dodge became the first Territorial governor of Wisconsin Territory from 1836 to 1841 and again from 1845 to 1848, an area which encompassed (before July 4, 1838, when Iowa became a territory) what became the states of Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. In between his two terms as governor, Dodge was elected as a non-voting Democratic delegate to the Twenty-seventh and Twenty-eighth Congresses (March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1845) representing Wisconsin Territory's at-large congressional district.

Dodge declined the opportunity to have his name put forward for the Presidency of the United States at the 1844 Democratic National Convention. He was loyal to Martin Van Buren and both men opposed the annexation of Texas. Despite their efforts, James K. Polk, the Democrat who favored annexation, became President.

Upon Wisconsin being admitted to the Union, Dodge was elected one of its first two senators. He served two terms. He turned down the appointment of Territorial Governor of Washington from Franklin Pierce in 1857.

Fort Clark, the U.S. Army post built at the present-day location of Fort Dodge, Iowa, was renamed Fort Dodge in 1851 in honor of Senator Dodge. Dodge died in 1867 in Burlington, Iowa. He is interred at the Aspen Grove Cemetery in Burlington, Iowa.


*State Historical Society of Iowa

*Wisconsin Historical Society – Henry Dodge (1782-1867) U.S. Senator, Frontiersman, Soldier


Laufersweiler, Conrad

Conrad Laufersweiler


Conrad Laufersweiler was born in Doerrebach, Prussia, near the Rhine River. As a young man, he emigrated to the United States. He lived in Ohio for a short time, but then made his way west and traveled up the Des Moines River to Fort Dodge. He was a pioneer in Fort Dodge and opened a funeral home business in 1856, which is still in operation today. One year later, Laufersweiler opened the first furniture store in Fort Dodge. He made his furniture out of black walnut, trees that are still found in abundance in the Fort Dodge area.

The furniture business and funeral business were located in the same buildings, however, it was one of Conrad Laufersweiler’ s principles in business to keep them separated, because he wanted to “keep from the public anything that might resurrect unpleasant memories”.

At the beginning of the Great Depression, Laufersweiler closed his furniture business and focused on managing his funeral home. The Laufersweiler Funeral Home has been part of the Fort Dodge community for over 150 years and is now a fifth generation business that has served thousands of families.

Conrad and his wife were the parents of eight children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. Their daughter, Mary Laufersweiler, married August Hilton in Webster, Iowa, in 1885. Mary and August’s son, Conrad became the developer and owner of the Hilton Hotel chain. Mary Laufersweiler Hilton had a very strong influence on her son Conrad, helping him to develop high moral values, honesty and a strong work ethic. Conrad Hilton was named after Conrad Laufersweiler.

Conrad Hilton made visits to Fort Dodge and was the speaker at the Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce’s 50th Anniversary Banquet on December 4, 1952 at the Hotel Warden.

Conrad Laufersweiler died on April 22, 1903, was buried in the Corpus Christi Cemetery in Fort Dodge.


*Fort Dodge Messenger

*Twist and Shout


Kime, Dr. John

Dr. John Kime

Dr. John W. Kime was born in Shelby County, Iowa, in October of 1855. His father was a farmer until the Civil War broke out. He then enlisted in Company I, Twenty-ninth Iowa Volunteer Infantry and served until the spring of 1863, when his death occurred as a result of black measles (hemorrhagic measles

Rocky Mountain spotted fever). John Kime’s mother continued the farm operations until she died in 1890.

Dr. Kime obtained his early education in the public schools of Shelby County. He then studied at the State University in Iowa City, where he took a general college course. He subsequently studied medicine, graduating in 1883. He opened an office in Angus, Iowa, where he worked for one year, before moving to Fort Dodge in 1884. In Fort Dodge, he made a special study of tuberculosis. He was a member of the Iowa State Medical Association, the National Tuberculosis Association and the Webster Count Medical Association.

In 1884, Dr. Kime married Sara Paugbum, from New York State. Sara assisted her husband. Sara was a graduate physician. Her parents had moved to Fayette County, Iowa as pioneer settlers. They later moved to Fort Dodge.

Drs. Sara and John Kime had two children, Marion and Isabelle. The family is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church; Dr. John Kime stated that he supports the Republican Party. He also served on the City Council for two years.

By the dawn of the 19th century, tuberculosis had killed one in seven of all people that had ever lived. Throughout much of the 1800s, tuberculosis continued to be a highly contagious disease and one of the deadliest diseases in human history. Dr. John Kime was well known for his treatment of tuberculosis (or pulmonary consumption). He experimented in photography and light treatments for patients. Dr. Kime’s theory of sunlight cure for consumption was based on a theory that sunlight has germ destroying capabilities. Dr. Kime conceived that by concentrating the light upon the affected part of the body, the tubercular bacilli would be destroyed. The argument was that the light would not penetrate the denser tissues of the body. Dr. Kime argued that by condensing the rays of light, the flesh tissues would be penetrated and the germs destroyed. To do this, he had a blue glass disc from which he reflected the light upon the patient’s face or body.

Other physicians were skeptical. However, Dr. Kime had conducted experiments and claimed to have demonstrated that photography could be taken through a man’s body with ordinary light rays as well as with an x-ray.

Over three years, under the supervision of the State Board of Control, he visited the various counties of the state lecturing to the medical profession on the early recognition, care and treatment of tuberculosis. He is the author of many pamphlets on the various phases of tuberculosis and is now operating a sanatorium for the treatment of this disease at Fort Dodge. He was elected state representative in 1920 as a Republican in politics.

Later, Dr. Kime moved to Des Moines to join the faculty of the medical department of Drake University and to be the editor of the Iowa Medical Journal.

As a member of the Drake faculty, Dr. Kime took the initiative to “right a wrong” and it almost cost him his reputation. At the Drake University Medical Department, some young male students had written what was determined to be obscene material on one of the school’s blackboards about some female students. The fathers of some female students objected to this. The offending males were expelled and publicly reprimanded. Eventually, one of the expelled males was readmitted (because he was only two weeks from graduation). In addition to this, the faculty said it would grant any wish these young men might express. The young men demanded that women be excluded from the school. The faculty agreed, and the young women were excluded. Dr. Kime was vehemently opposed to this action and used the Iowa Medical Journal to express his opinion. Dr. Kime outlined the case about the male students and provided information about what the students had written on the classroom blackboard. He was then arrested and charged with sending obscene material through the mail. Eventually, after several court cases over the period of a year, the case was brought to federal court and Dr. Kime emerged victorious – he was fined $20 plus court costs of $100. Many people from Fort Dodge spoke favorably on behalf of Dr. Kime and it was believed that this helped with the positive outcome.

A petition of Dr. Kime’s behalf signed by leading members of the City of Fort Dodge read:

“We respectfully request that you use your very best efforts to have the judgement rendered at Des Moines against Dr. J. W. Kime, formerly of our city, set aside.

We know the circumstances which called forth the article alleged to be unmailable, and that the purposes of the doctor were such as to meet the approval of every rightminded person in the state.”

It was believed that while Dr. Kime might have been guilty of a technical violation of the law, the purpose he sought to accomplish justified the means used. The federal judge, in passing this sentence, severely condemned the acts of the male students at Drake Medical School and broadly hinted that he believed that Dr. Kime was greatly provicated and that Dr. Kime’s use of the medical journal was justified.



*The Fort Dodge Messenger

*The Des Moines Register

*The Iowa Legislature


Dolliver, Jonathan P.

Jonathan P. Dolliver

Attorney, U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator

Jonathon Dolliver, attorney, political activist, and U.S. congressman and senator from Iowa—was renowned as a gifted orator, skilled mediator, and model of integrity. So spellbinding was his oratory and so spotless his reputation that he was chosen by the Republican National Committee to stump the nation for every Republican presidential candidate from James G. Blaine in 1884 to William Howard Taft in 1908. In 1910 he was chosen by political opponent William Jennings Bryan to give the dedication speech at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Springfield, Illinois. Strongly urged to run for vice president in both 1900 and 1908, Dolliver refused because of his distaste for the position and his lack of financial resources. Although initially an orthodox Republican who favored the gold standard, a high protective tariff, and overseas expansion, Dolliver grew to become one of the leading lights in the Insurgent Republican movement, led by Robert M. La Follette of Wisconsin, Albert B. Cummins of Iowa, and Albert Beveridge of Indiana, who challenged the policies and leadership of President Taft and the GOP's probusiness "Standpat" Eastern establishment. Upon Dolliver's premature death at age 52, Beveridge eulogized him as "our best, our most gifted man, our only genius."

Born near Kingwood, Preston County, Virginia, on the eve of the Civil War, Dolliver was the son of James Jones Dolliver, a Methodist circuit rider of Welsh descent, and Eliza Jane (Brown) Dolliver, whose Scottish American father, Robert, and uncle William were among the founders of the Republican Party and instrumental in the formation of the state of West Virginia in 1863. William Brown was among the first congressmen from the new state. From both parents and their respective families, young Jonathan imbibed a lifelong devotion to the Union, the Republican Party, and evangelical Protestantism. During the Civil War, he and his older brother Robert served as lookouts and scavengers who disrupted the activities of occupying Confederate soldiers. In 1868 the Dollivers and their five children moved to Granville, West Virginia, on the outskirts of Morgantown, where Jonathan entered the preparatory department of West Virginia University at age 10. Three years later, at the age of 13, he began his collegiate studies at the university, where he concentrated on literary studies, taking his B.A. in 1875. His major extracurricular activity was in the Columbian Literary Society, which met each week to conduct oratorical contests and debates and listen to student essays. Upon graduation, he was chosen as the "philosophical orator" of his class. While teaching school in Iowa and Illinois from 1875 to 1878, he studied law under the direction of his uncle, a West Virginia state senator. Although he attended the 1876 Republican National Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, in support of James G. Blaine, Dolliver enthusiastically switched his allegiance to Rutherford B. Hayes, for whom he campaigned vigorously. Like most Republican speakers of the day, Dolliver delivered scathing attacks on the Democrats as the party of secession, treason, and violence against African Americans.

In the spring of 1878 he obtained his law license and moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa, with his brother Robert. Just two years later he was elected city solicitor, a position that gave him visibility, political contacts, and a reliable supplemental income. At the same time, his growing reputation as a public speaker attracted the attention of northwestern Iowa politicians, including former governor Cyrus C. Carpenter. In part through Carpenter's influence, Dolliver was chosen as the keynote speaker for the 1884 Iowa Republican Convention, where he delivered a rousing political address. Because of that oratorical success, he was chosen to stump the eastern United States for Blaine.

After failing to secure the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1886, Dolliver won the endorsement in 1888. Defeating his Democratic opponent, Dolliver entered the House in 1889 and remained there for the next 11 years. There he earned a reputation as an orthodox Republican who favored high protective tariffs, the gold standard, and colonial expansion. He was unusually close to Iowa's preeminent legislator, Senator William Boyd Allison, who nurtured the younger man's political career. Dolliver, however, maintained harmonious relations with all factions of Iowa Republicans. He was a good friend of sometime Allison critic Governor William Larrabee, a leading proponent of railroad regulation. (Dolliver's younger brother married Larrabee's daughter.) In 1895 Congressmandolliver married Louise Pearsons. They had three children.

In 1900 Dolliver benefited from the death of Iowa Senator John Henry Gear. Iowa's governor appointed Dolliver to succeed Gear in the Senate; the 1902 session of the Iowa legislature seconded the governor's choice, electing Dolliver to fill out the remainder of the term. In January 1907 the legislature elected him to a full six-year term.

As a senator, Dolliver remained unswerving in his loyalty to the conservative Allison, but he also became a staunch supporter of Theodore Roosevelt's reform agenda. He was the principal figure in guiding the Roosevelt endorsed Hepburn Act of 1906 through the Senate. That act empowered the Interstate Commerce Commission to fix maximum rail rates and was especially popular among Dolliver's midwestern constituents, who had long chafed under discriminatory railroad rates. As late as 1908, however, Dolliver fought a bitter battle against Iowa's leading progressive reformer, Albert Cummins, when the latter sought unsuccessfully to defeat the dying Allison in the state's first senatorial primary election.

In 1908 Republican William Howard Taft won the presidency after a campaign in which he promised to lower tariff rates. During the first decade of the 20th century, many midwesterners and westerners, who had previously accepted Republican protectionism, grew increasingly critical of high duties, believing that the tariff protected monopolistic eastern manufacturers while raising the cost of living for heartland consumers. Dolliver's belief in the necessity of a high tariff also waned as he became increasingly concerned about the privileged status of big business. When Nelson Aldrich, the Standpat Republican leader of the Senate, proposed a tariff that did not sufficiently decrease many rates, a number of midwestern lawmakers, including Dolliver, were outraged. Even more infuriating was the apparent complicity of President Taft in this plot to maintain high duties. Together with Robert La Follette and Beveridge, Dolliver led the fight against Aldrich and Representative Sereno Payne on the tariff schedules, earning themselves reputations as "Insurgents."Unleashing his ample speaking skills, Dolliver berated Aldrich and his supporters, presenting a series of widely acclaimed speeches against what eventually became the Payne-Aldrich Tariff. "I do not propose now to become a party to a petty swindle of the American people," Dolliver told his fellow senators. He also spoke of his "indignation" at being "duped with humbug and misrepresentation" by the regular Republican leadership.

Despite Dolliver's dramatic attack, the Payne-Aldrich Tariff passed both houses of Congress and was signed by the pliant President Taft. Thoroughly disillusioned with his party's Standpat leadership, Dolliver moved decidedly into the Insurgent camp, caustically observing that Taft "is an amiable man, completely surrounded by men who know exactly what they want."Dolliver and the other Insurgents sided with Gifford Pinchot, chief of the U.S. Bureau of Forestry, who charged that Taft's secretary of the interior, Richard Ballinger, allowed private exploitation of government-owned natural resources. At the same time, Dolliver and his allies opposed the Mann-Elkins Bill as originally proposed by the Taft administration, claiming that it would weaken the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Exhausted by his battles against Aldrich and Taft, Dolliver returned to Fort Dodge, where he died of a heart attack on October 15, 1910. By that time, he had broken completely with the GOP establishment and won a reputation as the most powerful and persuasive speaker among the Insurgents. Even Taft acknowledged that "the Senate has lost one of its ablest and most brilliant statesmen, the country has lost a faithful public servant."Thousands stood in the rain outside "the jam-packed armory building" in Fort Dodge during the funeral ceremony. Famous journalist Mark Sullivan proclaimed Dolliver "the greatest Senator of his time."

Dolliver Memorial State Park south of Fort Dodge, was named in honor of him of this great senator.


*Biographical Dictionary of Iowa…. University of Iowa – Contributor: John D. Buenker

*Dolliver's papers are housed at the State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City.

*The definitive biography is Thomas Richard Ross, Jonathan Prentiss Dolliver: A Study in Political Integrity and Independence (1958).

*For the early development of Dolliver's speaking skills, see Gordon E. Hostettler, "Jonathan Prentiss Dolliver: The Formative Years," Iowa Journal of History 49 (1951), 23–50.

*An entire issue of the Palimpsest 5 (February 1924) is devoted to Dolliver.

*Sketches devoted to Dolliver in Annals of Iowa 29 (1948), 335–65.

*Memorial addresses on Dolliver, - Congressional Record 46 (1911), 2832–43.

*An obituary is in the New York Times, 10/16/1910.

Blanden, Charles

Charles Blanden


Charles Granger Blanden was born in Marengo, Illinois in 1857. Blanden arrived in Fort Dodge in 1874, knowing little of the ties that would bond him to the town. He came here to live with his uncle, “Colonel” Blanden, who made his home where the Carver Building now stands. Charles married Elizabeth Mills in 1884 and together, they made their home in Fort Dodge for six more years. During his time in Fort Dodge, Charles Blanden was associated with the First National Bank as a teller, assistance cashier, and cashier. In 1887, he was elected mayor of Fort Dodge at the young age of thirty (30). He served as mayor for two years. During his time as mayor, Blanden was referred to as the “Baby Mayor” because of his young age.

In 1890, Charles Blanden and his wife Elizabeth moved from Fort Dodge to Chicago. Charles became Secretary of the Rialto Trust from, 1891-1923. Charles also took up an interest in the real estate business. Blanden also helped start a bank in Chicago that later became Continental Bank.

It was while he was living and working in Chicago that he gained fame as a writer and poet. Blanden became a regular contributor to the Chicago Post newspaper. He was widely known and respected as a poet, and often sponsored national poetry contests. Mr. Blanden wrote poetry for a number of years under a pen name that appeared in the Chicago Tribune and other publications. They moved to California sometime after 1927. Mrs. Elizabeth Blanden passed away in 1929, and Charles decided to build the Blanden Art Museum in her memory. It was Mrs. O.M. Oleson who persuaded Mr. Blanden into building the museum in Fort Dodge, where the couple first met. Mr. Blanden donated $40,000 to help start the construction of the art museum. E.O. Damon, a Fort Dodge architect, designed the building.

Mr. Blanden passed away in 1933 and is remembered for his devotion to literature, poetry and art.

Dolliver, James I.

James I. Dolliver

U.S. Congressman


James I. Dolliver was born in Park Ridge, Illinois, on August 31, 1894. He was born to Rev. and Mrs. Robert H. Dolliver. He was the nephew of U.S. Senator Jonathan Prentiss Dolliver, a U.S. Senator from Fort Dodge from 1900 to 1910. James I. Dolliver’s son, James M. Dolliver, was born and raised in Fort Dodge, and after WWII, moved to the state of Washington and eventually became a highly respected State Supreme Court justice.

James I. Dollver received elementary education in Illinois schools at Lanark, Pawpaw, Eochelle, Lockport and Joliet before moving to Hot Springs, South Dakota. He graduated from Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa, in 1915. He taught school at Alta, Iowa, and Humboldt, Iowa, until 1918, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was enrolled in signal officers' training school at New Haven, where he was stationed when the First World War ended.

Following the conclusion of his military service, Dolliver attended the University of Chicago Law School where he became a member of the Delta Chi Fraternity, graduating in 1921. He was admitted to the bar the same year and commenced private practice in Chicago.

One year late in 1922, Dolliver moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa. He served as the County Attorney for Webster County, Iowa from 1924 to 1929, then returned to private practice. He served as member of the school board of Fort Dodge School District between 1938 and 1945. He also served a term as commander of the Iowa American Legion.

In 1942, Dolliver ran against Governor George A. Wilson and two others for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. In the primary election, Dolliver finished a distant third.

Two years later, Dolliver ran for the U.S. House for a seat held by Fred C. Gilchrist, an incumbent member of Dolliver's own party who was then completing his seventh term in office. In a primary characterized by light turnout, Dolliver defeated Gilchrist in a close race. He then ran against Democrat Charles Hanna in the general election, defeating him handily. Dolliver was re-elected five times to the U.S. House of Representatives before losing in 1956 to Democrat Merwin Coad, in an extraordinarily close race. Coad won by 198 votes, out of over 129,000 cast. In all, Dolliver served from January 3, 1945 to January 3, 1957.

After his loss, James I. Dolliver served as regional legal counsel for International Cooperation Administration in the Middle East from 1957 until his retirement in 1959. In retirement, he resided in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

On December 10, 1978, James I. Dolliver died in Rolla, Missouri. He was interred in Oakland Cemetery, Fort Dodge, Iowa.


*University of Iowa Special Collections - University of Iowa Libraries

*Biographical Directory of the United States Congress


Dolliver, James M.

James M. Dolliver


James M. Dolliver was born and raised in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in 1924. His mother, Elizabeth Morgent, died of polio when he was a newborn. James graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High School in 1942 and then joined the Navy Air Corps. In 1944, Dolliver's father, James I. Dolliver, a University of Chicago-trained lawyer, was elected to Congress from the Sixth District of Iowa, serving the Fort Dodge area in the House of Representatives for twelve years. James M. Dolliver’s great-uncle, Jonathan P. Dolliver, a Fort Dodge citizen, had been a United States Senator from Iowa from 1900 to 1910.

After the end of World War II, James M. Dolliver attended Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors in 1949. His father had been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, so James often visited him there. He married fellow student Barbara Babcock and they moved to the state of Washington so James could attend University of Washington Law School. He graduated from law school in 1952 and began private practice in Washington State.

Dolliver took up private practice in Port Angeles and later in Everett. In 1953, Dolliver became the administrative assistant to Congressman Jack Westland (R-Everett), then became an attorney for the state House Republicans. In 1964, Dolliver managed the campaign of Daniel J. Evans, who was elected governor. Dolliver became Evan's chief of staff and political advisor. On May 6, 1976, Evans appointed Dolliver to the Supreme Court. Soon after a re-election in 1992, Dolliver suffered a severe stroke in January 1993, but was able to continue working. In 1998, Dolliver announced he would retire at the end of his term.

In 1993, Dolliver received the "Outstanding Judge of the Year" award from the Washington State Bar.

In 2000, an endowed professorship was named in honor of Dolliver at the University of Puget Sound, for which he had served as a trustee.

James M. Dolliver died on November 24, 2004.



Glaser, Gus

Gus Glaser


Gus Glaser can be described as a very successful entrepreneur and businessman who started with nothing and built significant wealth for his family and provided hundreds of people in his community with gainful employment.

Gus Glaser was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1910 and attended school there, but never graduated from high school. He was one of two children born to German immigrants whose childhood was typical of a child of first generation immigrants. As a young man, Glaser was known as a very hard worker and a very good boxer, at the 132 pound level. The values that he learned from boxing of hard work, competitiveness and persistence were traits that helped him succeed throughout his life as a businessman.

Glaser started working in his uncle’s meat packing plant in Omaha, Nebraska at a young age. In the early 1930’s, he decided he needed more education and enrolled in St. Benedict’s Academy in Atchison, Kansas. It was during that time period that he met the woman who was soon to become is wife, Eileen Wolters, and later, business partner. Eileen Wolters was the youngest of eleven children who was raised on a farm near Atchison, Kansas. Her family had much security, warmth and “everyone knew everyone.” Gus and Eileen were married in Atchison, Kansas, on April 12, 1932 and moved to San Antonio, Texas, where Gus took a meat packing plant position for one year. They then returned to Omaha, where Gus again took a job at his uncle’s plant. Part of Gus’s job was a relief rout salesman in Iowa. While working for his uncle, he discovered that he loved the state of Iowa and decided he wanted to work and raise his family in Iowa.

In 1937, Gus and Eileen and family moved to Carroll, Iowa. They used the family car, Model A Ford, as a down payment on a truck which was pressed into service brokering meat. Gus told the story that they bought their first order of meats with a check which was not to be cashed for two days.

In 1938, the Glasers began operations in Fort Dodge in a rented building. The business continued to grow, and in 1946, Gus Glaser built a new meat processing and manufacturing plant at 2400 5th Avenue South (Old Highway 20). At the time, he then had 11 trucks and a sales force of 12. Eileen did all the accounting for the company and even helped driving trucks for deliveries when necessary. Eileen worked for the company until the birth of their fourth child. It was then that she stayed home to raise her family. his original plant was expanded nine times, and when their children grew up, two sons, Robert and John, became involved in the business. Robert managed the Fort Dodge location and John managed a plant in Wilber, Nebraska, “Gus Glaser Meats”.

The key to the success of Gus Glaser Meats was the freshness of its meat. The company had truck salesmen who met regularly with customers, taking orders and delivering the product. Products included luncheon meats (50 varieties), wieners, sausages, cooked hams and bacon. Glaser had developed new methods of packaging and display, which added to the products’ appeal. Gus Glaser Meats also had an operation in Sioux City, - Glaser Dressed Beef, as well as warehouses in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Subsequently, Gus Glaser Meats added full product lines of cheeses, fish and poultry items. The company also expanded to sell its products to institutions.

The Gus Glaser company was one of the largest corporations in Iowa at one time, and perhaps the largest privately owned company - owned by one family (Mr. and Mrs. Glaser and their five children and grandchildren).

The Glasers expanded their investments to include real estate and farmland. In 1960, the Glasers founded the Glaser Foundation, through which charitable donations were made to projects and charities in Fort Dodge. One of the largest donations was a $40,000 gift toward the construction of the St. Edmond Convent in 1962.

Gus Glaser was a member and director of Beaver Creek Distillery, and on the boards of First National Bank of Fort Dodge and Mercy Hospital. He was director of the Chamber of Commerce and a member of Corpus Christi Parish. In 1965, Gus participated in the “Sell Iowa” tour to Europe and later, in another “Sell Iowa” tour to the Far East.

Glaser was a charter member of the Fort Dodge Betterment Foundation, which was responsible for much of the development in the Friendship Haven region. He was also president of the Mud Lake Fur Farm, an organization made up of 20 sportsmen who hunted the 400 acre lake in Iowa. Gus was an avid fisherman – he even fished at Great Bear Lake on the Arctic Circle.

In 1970, Gus Glaser Meats was sold to a Minneapolis resident Robert D. Husemoller. Husemoller and his family moved to Fort Dodge to run the company. At the time, Gus Glaser Meats had annual sales of $8 million. It was just two years later when the company declared bankruptcy and closed down in Fort Dodge due to mismanagement by the new owners.

Gus Glaser’s life story was often called a Horatio Alger story. He rose to success from his very humble beginnings and through hard work, determination, courage and honesty, Gus Glaser became a wealthy and prosperous business leader and generous contributor to his community.


*The Glaser Family

*Fort Dodge Messenger

*Des Moines Register…March 24, 1972

*Meat Magazine, 1946

Rubenstein, Eve

Eve Rubenstein


Eve Schmoll Rubenstein was a pioneer in Iowa broadcasting. She was born, raised and educated in Fort Dodge, graduating from Fort Dodge Senior High and Fort Dodge Junior College before marrying Charles Rubenstein in 1930. Charles’ parents disowned him when he and Eve were married because he was Jewish and she was Catholic. When he died suddenly in 1953, she was left financially insecure. It was then that she began her career in broadcasting at station KVFD-radio in Fort Dodge. She said that she felt lucky - that if she had been left money and financial stability, she probably wouldn’t have embarked on her career in broadcasting, something very unusual for a woman at that time.

Also in 1953, Eve began her broadcasting careen by hosting Eve’s Kitchen, a Monday through Friday cooking and interview program, for the entire time the television station was on the air. Eve’s Kitchen began as a cooking show. Meals and other recipes were cooked while on the air, and each day, a lucky winner would receive the meal. The show eventually evolved into an interview and discussion show featuring women’s topics that averaged 90 guest a week. She also read five minutes of local, state and national news during each program. Eve bristled when people called her program a “show. She stated that ” A local program is not a movie, it is a community service. A program is only as good as the community it serves.”

Eve’s Kitchen was one of the largest revenue producers for KVFD-TV. Eve’s Kitchen was on the air for approximately 22 years. Her philosophy of television and her feelings of responsibility to her viewers were summed up in her statement: “Everybody has a good story to tell if you just take the time to seek it out. “

Eve Rubenstein was named to the national Board of American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT).

Her career allowed her to meet such notables as actress Joan Crawford, Estee Lauder and she even dined with Cary Grant.

In 1960, she helped organize the Hawkeye Chapter of the AWRT and in 1969 was named manager of the KVFD-TV station. In 1970, she was a delegate to the International Convention of American Women in Radio and Television in London, where she interviewed the Lord Mayor of London and later the Mayor of Berlin.

In 1971, Rubenstein won the prestigious New York Frany Award for First in Fashion Coverage. By 1972, she had been on the air for 19 years and logged more time on television than any other woman in the nation.

Rubenstein was also interested in the social issue of alcoholism among women. She worked with former U.S. Senator and Iowa Governor Harold Hughes on programs for alcoholics. Rubenstein also had a passion for helping people and she led an initiative to increase mail to hospital and nursing home patients.

In 1988, Eve Rubenstein was named Fort Dodge’s “Most Respected Citizen.”

Rubenstein served on numerous boards and foundations, including the Catholic Daughters of America, The Webster County Board of Health, and the North Central Alcoholism Research Foundation. She was the first woman president of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum. She is also a permanent member of the lecture staff at the Substance abuse recovery Center of Trinity Regional Hospital and is also a lifetime honorary member of the Des Moines Advertising Club. She was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 1992.

Recognized as a self-made woman and a local and statewide leader for advancing the status of women in business and in society, Eve stated her personal philosophy to Gordon Gammack, a daily columnist with the Des Moines Register: “Yesterday is a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. And today is ready cash to be spent in meeting a new challenge. “

Eve Rubenstein died on September 29, 1993, at the age of 85, and was buried at North Lawn Cemetery in Fort Dodge.



*Fort Dodge, 1850-1970, Roger Natte

*Des Moines Register

*UHF Television in Small Town Iowa Market, 1968, William Bruce Newbrough

*Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame Inductees, 2007

*Fort Dodge Today, July-August, 1989

*Find a Grave

Johnston, Captain W.H.

Captain W.H. Johnston


Captain W.H. Johnston is considered the founder of the Fort Dodge Public Library.

W.H. JOHNSTON was born in Sidney, New York, July 24, 1837. Johnston was from a well-respected and prominent family. His parents were highly educated people of New England birth. Mr. Johnston was educated in the common schools of New York and at Franklin academy. He spent a year in Wabash college at Crawfordsville, Indiana.

After devoting some time to school teaching, he enlisted in the 144th New York infantry. His regiment participated in the battle of James Island, South Carolina, February 10, 1865, where Captain Johnston was severely wounded. Upon being discharged from the hospital he returned to Binghamton, New York, where he finished his law study and was admitted to the bar. He soon moved to Fort Dodge where he began the practice of law, continuing until his appointment to the deputy clerkship of the United States district court for the Northern District of Iowa, central division, at Fort Dodge, which office he held for many years.

Captain Johnston performed his greatest public service through an unselfish and untiring application of his talents to library interests. He was first to establish a private library association in Fort Dodge and induced others to help him in the creation of a small library and reading room in his office. He served gratuitously as the librarian for many years. Out of this grew the present Fort Dodge public library which largely through the labors of Captain Johnston, has become more than merely a beautiful edifice housing a collection of books, but has developed a deep and genuine taste by the public of Fort Dodge for library advantages.

His influence extended far beyond the limits of Fort Dodge, into and through the work of the Iowa State Library association, of which he was one of the founders, its president, and, at the time of his death, an honorary president. He was a molding influence in the Iowa library commission of which he had been a member for many years, and was rewarded for his arduous and effective work by his appointment as president of that body.

The Fort Dodge Public Library Foundation was named the W.H. Johnston Foundation in honor of Captain Johnston and his service in advancing library science, intellectual freedom and the attainment of knowledge through books.

Captain Johnston was also remembered as being a devoted Christian. He served as Sunday School Superintendent in Fort Dodge.

Captain Johnston died in Fort Dodge, June 6, 1911.


*Annals of Iowa -- Webster County Bar Association = Volume 31 | Number 2 (Fall 1951)

*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout Publication, January, 2000

Kelleher, Denis M.

Denis M. Kelleher


Very few attorneys in Iowa served with the distinction of Denis Martin Kelleher. Denis Kelleher was a well-known and highly respected Fort Dodge attorney and citizen. He graduated from the State University of Iowa Law School in 1893. As an “A” student, one of Kelleher’s law professor noted that even though Denis was the youngest student in his law school class, he had the best memory and was the brightest in the class.

Denis Kelleher began practicing law in Des Moines and also Pomeroy. Mr. Kelleher arrived in Fort Dodge in 1902 and practiced law for sixty years. He was a partner in the Kenyon, Kelleher, O’Connor and Price Law Firm located in the First National Bank Building (now the Bey Building) in Fort Dodge. Even at the age of 90, Kelleher would often be seen walking from his apartment in the Warden Plaza Building to his downtown law office. During his career as a trial lawyer, Kelleher tried more than 1,000 cases. Among his peers, Kelleher was known as a very well prepared attorney who burnt “the midnight oil,” going to work early and working late after dark.

During WWI, Kelleher was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to the War Trade Board in Washington D.C. He helped draw up a treaty that was followed by neutral nations during the war. In later years, Mr. Kelleher was named solicitor for the Bureau of Internal Revenue. He was also named special assistant to the United States Attorney General in charge of tax litigation. As such, he tried federal cases around the country before at least 50 different U.S. district judges. Kelleher was also the author of the country’s basic income tax statutes. From 1943 to 1944, he served as president of the Iowa State Bar Association. Denis Kelleher was often described as a kind and considerate man of integrity and honor, and a precise, well prepared and careful lawyer.

One story about Denis Kelleher that that has been passed down through the Kelleher family recounts the time that the famous Chicago mobster Al Capone came to Fort Dodge seeking Kelleher’s counsel in helping him fight Capone’s income tax evasion charges. Kelleher had previously represented Al Capone’s older brother, Ralph. When Al Capone met with Attorney Kelleher, the story goes that Capone told him he didn’t really need his assistance because he “had the judge.” It evidently didn’t matter because Kelleher refused to get involved in the case.

An interesting footnote; legal documents do show that in 1931, Denis Kelleher, as a private practice attorney in Fort Dodge with extensive tax litigation experience, represented Ralph Capone in his attempt to appeal his tax evasion conviction. The appeal by Capone was denied by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Another fascinating annotation; the opposing prosecutor who successfully convicted Al Capone and his brother Ralph, was George E.Q. Johnson, a highly respected prosecutor and U.S. Attorney for the Chicago District. George E.Q. Johnson was raised on a farm in southern Webster County and received his Bachelor’s Degree from Tobin College in Fort Dodge.

Kelleher married Mary Stella Donahoe on April 17, 1912. Mary was an active leader in the women’s suffrage movement and gave several speeches throughout Iowa in favor of the cause. She served as committee member from the 10th Congressional District from 1925-1940; secretary of the Iowa Democratic Central Committee from 1928-1934; vice chair of the committee from 1934 to 1940; and Iowa’s Democratic National Committee member from 1940 to 1944. Mary also served as the treasurer of the Webster County Central Committee for many years and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1936 and 1940. In 1950 and 1952, she ran as the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State. In 1967, Mary Kelleher was recognized as one of three “Democratic Women Doers of Iowa.” Mary Kelleher passed away in January of 1979 at the age of 91.

Denis Kelleher was an active member of Corpus Christi Church. In recognition of his personal service to the Holy See and to the Roman Catholic Church, through unusual labors, support of the Holy See, and excellent examples set forth in his community and country, Denis Kelleher was named Knight of St. Gregory – one of the highest honors of the Roman Catholic Church – by Pope Pius XII.

Denis Kelleher’s great grandson, Darren Driscoll, also graduated from the University of Iowa Law School and is an attorney in Fort Dodge, currently serving as the Webster County Attorney.

Denis Kelleher died on May 13, 1964, at the age of 92. He is interred at Corpus Christi Cemetery in Fort Dodge.


*"A tough act to follow," Iowa Advocate – University of Iowa College of Law – Spring/Summer 2002…. by Ann Scholl Boyer

*Who’s Who in Law… Page 502

*Des Moines Register…. May 12, 1964

Kelly, Msg. Gerald

Msg. Gerald Kelly


Msg. Gerald Kelly was St. Edmond’s first superintendent, and he was one of the Catholic community’s most remembered leaders. Gerald Kelly was born in Estherville and lived in Graettinger and Sioux City. Mr. Kelly attended schools in Sioux City and attended Trinity College. After graduating, he attended St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Msg. Kelly was ordained at the Cathedral in Sioux City in 1944.

Kelly came to Fort Dodge in 1954 and assisted in the building of St. Edmond’s Catholic High School. After facing many roadblocks, construction was completed and students entered the high school in the fall of 1955. In 1962, Father Kelly became rank of papal chamberlain, attaching the title of “Very Reverend Monsignor.” It was ten years later that Msg. Kelly was invested as prelate of honor.

In 1965, Kelly became the pastor at Sacred Heart. In 1968, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Msg. Kelly remained in good spirit and retained his memory and wit for a number of years before his death in 1984.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Kime, Dr. Sara

Dr. Sara Kime 1858-1931

Dr. Sara Kime helped pave the road for female physicians across America as the Fort Dodge community embraced her active spirit.

Before her marriage to John W. Kime, she was known as Sara Pangburn in her hometown of Fayette, Iowa. She received her diploma from Upper Iowa University in 1877. Ms. Pangburn then became Dr. Pangburn in 1882 when she graduated from medical school.

While practicing medicine in Atlantic, Iowa, Dr. Pangburn became the first woman physician to work in a mental institution. She proved so successful in her work that every mental institution after her hired at least one woman physician to their staff.

After her marriage to Dr. J.W. Kime, the couple each practiced medicine in Fort Dodge for the remainder of their lives. Dr. Sara Kime was a member of the Webster County Medical Society, and a member of the Iowa State Society of Medical Women. The Young Women’s Christian Association had Dr. Sara Kime to thank for lending her civic hand in its establishment. At the time of her death, Dr. Sara Kime was an honorary member of the board of directors of the Y.W.C.A. Source: * The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Kirkberg, H.C.

H.C. Kirkberg


H.C. Kirkberg is remembered most for his work with Fort Dodge’s Betterment Foundation. He was an active businessman who was proud of his hometown.

H.C. Kirkberg was in the jewelry business. He came to Fort Dodge to work at the Mac Hurlburt Jewelry Store. Kirkberg left for a short time when he bought his own store in Tama. He returned to buy out his old employer and opened Kirkberg Jewelry. Kirkberg was the director of Iowa-Illinois Gas and Electric, First National Bank, and Guardsman Life Insurance. He was a trustee at Friendship Haven and a member of the American National Retail Jewelers Association, the American Gem Society, and the Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company.

His time was limited, but Mr. Kirkberg was still found at Rotary Club meetings where he served as president for a time. Mr. Kirkberg also served as president of the Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce and the Iowa Retail Jewelers Association.

Mr. Kirkberg was an idol of community leadership. He was rewarded in 1983 with the Fort Dodge Kiwanis Club Community Service Award. He was rewarded once again when Kirkberg Boulevard was named after him in 1983 for his work with the Betterment Foundation.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Larrabee, Frederic

Frederic Larrabee

State Senator, Lawyer, and Businessman

1873 -1959

Frederic Larrabee came to Fort Dodge from Clermont, Iowa. He was a lawyer, realtor, farm supervisor, cattle breeder, and former state senator. He was born at Clermont, Iowa, on November 3, 1873, the son of William Larrabee, former governor of Iowa from 1886 to 1890.

Frederic graduated from the Clermont High School, the University of Iowa in 1897, and received his law degree from the University of Iowa in 1898. He studied for a time at Columbia University. Frederick Larrabee established a law practice and real estate business in Fort Dodge in 1901 and supervised a number of farms in northern Iowa. Mr. Larrabee was known for having a keen business sense and a level head.

Larrabee served as a first lieutenant in the 56th Regiment, Iowa National Guard, and battery adjutant for several years. He was elected a Republican state senator from the Twenty-seventh District comprising Calhoun and Webster Counties in 1909, serving continuously through the Thirty-sixth General Assembly in 1916. Larrabee was a past chairman of the Webster County Republican central committee and a delegate to the Republican national convention in Cleveland in 1924.

Frederick Larrabee was noted for his interest in raising Brown Swiss dairy cattle and was president of the Iowa State Dairy Association from 1929 to 1937. He was a member of the Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce and the Order of the Elks. He left Fort Dodge in 1953 to make his final home in Clermont, the place of his birth. Frederic Larrabee never married. He was well respected as a man of integrity, trusted by all who knew him.

Frederic Larrabee died at his home in Clermont, Iowa, on August 27, 1959.


*Archives – Iowa Legislature

*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Lauderdale, Maude

Maude Lauderdale


Miss Maude Lauderdale was considered to be a historical expert in this area of Iowa during her life. She moved to Fort Dodge in 1881 after the death of her father. Along with her brother, George, Miss Lauderdale ran the Lauderdale Abstract Company. Later, her uncle, James Williams, was her partner when the company became the Webster County Abstract Company.

After graduating from high school, Miss Lauderdale worked as a committee clerk for the Iowa House of Representatives. She later became assistant postmistress of Fort Dodge under C.F. Duncombe.

After her uncle, James Williams (son of Fort Dodge pioneer William Williams), passed away, Miss Lauderdale successfully ran the abstract company. She was one of the very few women who was respected in business during the time. In 1910, she was elected recorder of Webster County and was trusted by everyone she encountered. In her later years, Miss Lauderdale became curator of the Webster County Historical Museum and held the position for 25 years.

Miss Lauderdale was an active member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and she was a charter member of the Business and Professional Women’s Club.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

*History of Fort Dodge & Webster County, Iowa...H.M. Pratt

King, Karl

Karl King

February 21, 1891–March 31, 1971

VIsit the Karl King website

Watch an informational video on Karl King.

Karl L. King's distinguished career as a bandmaster, prolific composer and musician made him a legend in his own lifetime.

Karl Lawrence King was born in Paintersville, Ohio, but his family moved to Canton, Ohio, when young Karl was eleven years old. As a youngster, he worked as a newspaper carrier to collect enough money to buy his first musical instrument at age eleven, a cornet. His early musical training was from Emile Reinkendorff, director of the GAR Band in Canton, Ohio, and from William Strassner, director of the Thayer Military Band. Largely self-taught, Karl learned his music from the tips he got from local musicians when he was playing brass instruments, including a euphonium, in the Canton Marine Band.

In 1909, King joined the Fred Neddermeyer Band of Columbus, Ohio, but shortly thereafter he joined Robinson's Famous Circus at the age of 19 as a baritone player. He joined the circus world at a time when the acts were in great need of special music since the standard music did not fit. Karl King was a master at writing music to match the rhythm of the acts and quickly rose to leadership positions in some of the most famous circus bands in the country. He contributed more circus marches than any other composer, and aerial waltzes and circus galops were his specialty.

Karl's only formal music instruction consisted of four piano lessons and one harmony lesson from a musical show director, William Bradford. Since his formal education ended with completion of the eighth grade, he then set about learning the printing trade as an apprentice. Composing at night, Karl worked at the printer's shop during the day.

For the next 10 years King played baritone and trumpet and also conducted a variety of circus bands, including Sells Floto, Buffalo Bill Combined Shows, and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Although he had no formal training in conducting, he became famous throughout the United States for his band conducting.

King was even better known as a composer of band music. By the end of his career he had composed almost 300 pieces, including marches, gallops, rags, hops, waltzes, serenades, and other types of music. King rivals John Philip Sousa as a composer of band music, and actually composed more pieces than Sousa. Many of King's pieces were for specific occasions or specific bands, such as "Barnum and Bailey's Favorite March" and "Iowa Band Law March." His compositions were intended to be played by a seated band, not by a marching unit, and he did not limit himself to military music but also wrote "good-sounding, easy marches for high school bands.” As a baritone player himself, King was especially fond of writing music that featured low brass players.

During the summer of 1920, the conductor of the Fort Dodge Military Band left unexpectedly. In order to attract a new conductor, the band's sponsor, the Fort Dodge Commercial Club, pledged to raise $5,000 for new uniforms for the 1921 season. Before the summer ended, King arrived in Fort Dodge and conducted a demonstration concert. The music he chose–including two of his own compositions, "The Royal Scotch Highlanders" and "Autumn Romance"—was challenging. The performance impressed the members of the band and the club, and he was offered a one-year contract. That contract was renewed, and King remained in Fort Dodge until his death 50 years later. By 1923, King had started his own music publishing business, and his wife, Ruth, had opened a music store dealing in the sale of musical instruments. King, of course, used his publishing company to publish his own growing list of marches, waltzes, serenades, gallops, overtures, and rags. The couple entered into the social and commercial life of the city and rapidly became well known throughout the state.

During his 50 years as a conductor in Fort Dodge, King led the band in concerts at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota; at dozens of county fairs; and numerous times at the Iowa State Fair. Through his compositions and guest conducting contracts, King became nationally and internationally famous, and the Fort Dodge Military Band became one of the most popular in Iowa. He was a charter member of the American Bandmasters Association and the Iowa Bandmasters Association and was second president of the latter group. King played an important role in the Iowa Band Law, legislation giving municipalities the right to levy a small tax to support a municipal band and is pictured in the photo of the very first American Bandmasters Association convention. After the Iowa Band Law passed in 1921, the Fort Dodge Military Band became the Fort Dodge Municipal Band, a name it retained until after King's death in 1971.

King's influence on the Fort Dodge Municipal Band was immediate and considerable. The older members of the band liked him and respected him as a conductor and musician, and took pride in his national reputation. He quickly established his goals, style, and program repertoire, which was pleasing to the band members and the audiences alike. He was a demanding but patient leader, expecting the very best from each musician.

Younger members of the band, usually high school musicians, viewed him with a combination of admiration, total respect bordering on awe, and just a tinge of fear that they could not measure up to his standards. His influence on these younger players had a profound effect on their lives. Many went on to become distinguished musicians, educators, and bandmasters themselves. No one who played under the baton of Karl King would ever forget the experience and the pride of having once worn the uniform of King's Band.

Karl King was also one of the first to write special music for the growing school band programs in America. He composed marches especially intended for school bands as well as waltzes, overtures, and other selections, and as a result was in wide demand as a massed band conductor and contest judge.

Over several decades King provided many marches for universities associated with the Big Ten, including Indiana, “Our Indiana and Viking March.” His Fort Dodge ensemble grew in prominence, too, making many tours, with appearances typically occurring at fairs and universities. King served as bandmaster of the Fort Dodge band for 38 years, retiring in 1959. He continued to make guest appearances leading other bands into the 1960s.

During his career, King received many awards. In 1949 he was inducted into Phi Beta Mu, the National Bandmasters fraternity. In 1951 he was named Iowa's Outstanding Citizen. Phillips University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Music degree in 1953; in 1959 the American Bandmasters Association presented him with its Distinguished Service Award; and in 1961 it granted him Honorary Life Presidency, an honor he shared with John Philip Sousa and Edwin Franko Goldman. In 1962, King was elected to the highest honor that can come to a band director, the Academy of Wind and Percussion Arts, He was also elected in 1966 to the Society of European Stage Actors and Composers, In 1967, he was given the Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity Distinguished Service Award, and in 1971, the Edwin Franco Goldman Award (the first non-school band director to receive this coveted award).

Karl King became a beloved and respected citizen and a dominant personality in his new home town. His friendship was treasured by everyone who knew him, and his advice and opinions were sought and respected. He became a quiet but forceful influence with the community leaders, local politicians, the local newspaper, and the local radio station. He always worked for the betterment of his community with the same pride, diligence, and care that he used when rehearsing his band.

In 1962, the Iowa Department of Transportation named the new bridge over the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge the Karl L. King Bridge. On his 80th birthday, the American School Band Directors Association presented King with the Karl King with composer Meredith Wilson

Edwin Franko Goldman Award, its highest honor.

Karl was quite a familiar figure on main street. Most mornings he could be seen in the next door barbershop having one of his greatest pleasures, stretching out in the chair getting his morning shave. He would usually have his coffee break at the corner restaurant, visiting with the main street businessmen. His daily walk to the post office (a block and a half) took up a considerable portion of his day. Everyone he met stopped to say hello, visit, seek advice, or comment on his latest concert. Karl had time for each of them, including occasionally someone down on their luck seeking a handout. His twice weekly trip to the Fort Dodge Messenger with his program for the Sunday or Thursday night concert always included a short visit with the editor, or a joke with his good friend, the city editor, and a word with the reporter to whom he delivered the program. And, often as not, he would stroll into the galley room next to the news room where one of his young band members would be changing or cleaning type. Karl would reflect on his own youth as an apprentice printer, often staying long enough to get some printer's ink on his fingers or shirt.

Karl King became a great favorite with the press and radio media. He was always intelligent in his opinion, pertinent, frequently witty, and always quotable. His trips, guest appearances, and honors were always major news items. In 1956, when his moustache worn since 1919 was shaved, it was dutifully featured in the local paper under the caption, Fort Dodge Loses Another Famous Landmark.

Karl King's greatest tributes came from his adopted hometown and state. Signs at the major highways leading into Fort Dodge proclaimed, Welcome to Fort Dodge, Home of Karl L. King. In 1951, some 250 friends from Fort Dodge, the state, and the nation, honored him at a testimonial dinner in Des Moines, attended by the Governor of Iowa, William Beardsley. The largest of several gifts presented was a new Buick Roadmaster. Karl was named Elk of the Year by the local Elk's lodge, and he received the Lion's Club's Community Service Award. In 1962, King and his band appeared dutifully at the dedication of a new two million dollar viaduct spanning the Des Moines River. When the plaque was unveiled, it bore the name of Karl L. King.

King belonged to the First Congregational Church, the Masonic Lodge, Commandery Shrine, High Twelve Service Club, Rotary Club, Elk's Club, and was an honorary member of the Chamber of Commerce.

Karl L. King was honored with many prestigious awards: For his own 80th birthday, Karl King hosted a concert and conducted five pieces he composed, including "Iowa Centennial March." His legacy lived on after him when the Karl L. King Municipal Band of Fort Dodge appeared twice in Washington, D.C.–in the Kennedy Center and on the steps of the Capitol–on "Iowa Day" during the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations in 1976. To celebrate Iowa's sesquicentennial in 1996, the band performed a series of concerts on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

In 1966, King said: I've sung my song. It was a rather simple one; it wasn't too involved; I'm happy about it. In the last couple years . . . I've run out of tunes. When I ran out of tunes, I believed it was time to quit, and I'd like to recommend that as a matter of policy to all other composers.”

Karl King died in Fort Dodge in 1971, leaving an output of approximately 300 works, most being (188) marches or screamers (circus marches) It is a testimony to his talents that so much of his music is still played today all over the world. At his death, Karl L. King was one of the most loved and respected figures in American music.

Karl and Ruth King were buried in Fort Dodge. Their monument is near the entrance of North Lawn Cemetery. In honor of the famous bandleader, a nine foot high brass statue of Karl King highlights the entrance to the Fort Dodge Public Library on the City Square.

In 1975, Karl King received posthumously the Iowa Award, which is the highest honor the state can bestow on an individual. The award was presented by Governor Robert Ray to Karl's wife, Ruth King, during ceremonies at the All-State Music Festival in Ames.

The 1931 photo above shows the Karl King Band standing in front of the City Hall in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The occasion was the annual Legion Day celebration held in Exposition Park on July 4.

Director Karl King is in the white uniform.


*More biographical information is in Thomas J. Hatton, Hawkeye Glory: The History of the

Karl L. King Municipal Band of Fort Dodge, Iowa (2002).

*"King, Karl Lawrence - The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa… University of Iowa

June 5, 2019 …. Contributor: Loren N. Horton

*All Music.com …. Biographer Robert Cummings

*Biography of Karl King…. Duane A. Olson


For more information on our famous bandleader Karl King, visit the Karl King Municipal Band Room at the Fort Dodge Public Library.

Mitchell, John

John Mitchell

Attorney – Community Leader – Attorney General of Iowa

Born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on November 5, 1899, John Mitchell went to Corpus Christi elementary school and graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High. He then went to Columbia College in Dubuque (later renamed Loras College) and served in the Student Army Training Corps. Mitchell switched to University of Iowa where he completed his undergraduate degree then graduated from University of Iowa Law School in 1923.. He was affiliated with the Phi Delta Phi, honorary legal fraternity. He was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1923. Mitchell practiced law in Humboldt, Iowa, from 1923 to 1927 when he joined his father, M.J. Mitchell in a Fort Dodge law practice. John Mitchell married Ruth Jaqua of Humboldt in 1926. They had two daughters, Jean and Martha. Ruth died in 1979. Mitchell’s second marriage was to Helen McCarville.

John Mitchell’s career in state government was brief but very impactful. As a political voice and devoted Democrat , Mitchell was elected as a state representative from Webster County, Mitchell served two terms from 1933 to 1936. He was only 35 years old when he was elected Speaker of the House for the forty-sixth general assembly ; the youngest to ever hold that leadership position. In 1937, John Mitchell served as Attorney General for the State of Iowa, but decided to give up that state office in 1939 and return to Fort Dodge to resume the practice of law. The law firm headed by his father also included his brother, Donald Mitchell, and widely respected attorney Alan Loth. From 1951 to 1965, Mitchell was a part-time referee in bankruptcy for the northern district of Iowa. Mitchell ended his distinguished law career with his retirement at the age of 85, with the law firm of Mitchell, Coleman, Perkins and Enke.

After returning to Fort Dodge in 1939, John Mitchell became a very active leader in his community. He was one of the organizers of Iowa Central Community College and served as board president from 1966 to 1976. Prior to his service on the Iowa Central Board, Mitchell served on the Fort Dodge Community School District Board for 16 years (1945-1961) of which the last seven years as board president. He also served five years as a director of the Webster County School Board. During Mitchell’s time on the Fort Dodge Community School board, Fort Dodge experienced unparalleled growth in school enrollment and he helped lead the efforts to build new schools in Fort Dodge. Many of today’s school buildings were built during his tenure on the school board.

John Mitchell was also one of the organizers and early leaders of the Fort Dodge Betterment Foundation and in March 1979 was recognized by the board for his 35 years of service. The Betterment Foundation made land available for the new location of Iowa Central Community College as well as other major community developments.

Other positions that Mitchell held though his years in Fort Dodge include:

*Longtime trustee of Corpus Christi Catholic Parish
*Served on the parish and Sioux City diocesan school boards
*Exalted ruler of the Elks Lodge
*Grand knight and district deputy of the Knights of Columbus
*Commander of the Humboldt American Legion Post and Eighth District American Legion
*President of the Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce
*President of the Industrial Development Corporation
*President of the Webster County Bar Association
*50 year member of the Rotary Club and club president for two years

For his exemplary leadership and service in his community, John Mitchell received numerous honors and awards including:
*Lions Club Community Service Award in 1962
*Kiwanis and Sertoma Club service awards
*Grand marshal of the 1989 Frontier Days Parade

At the age of 92, John Mitchell died of cancer on April 20, 1992 at Trinity Regional Hospital in Fort Dodge.


*The Iowa Legislature Archives

*State Historical Society of Iowa
*Messenger Newspaper

*Twist & Shout Publication …. August 2000


Loomis, Fred

Fred Loomis


Taking over the family business and becoming active in the community is just what A.R. Loomis wanted his son, Fred, to do. Fred Loomis was an intelligent and sensible spirit. He was educated in Fort Dodge, and he attended Northwestern University and the University of Michigan. Fred Loomis became an iconic Fort Dodge businessman and leader.

When he finished school, Mr. Loomis came back to Fort Dodge and went to work with his father at the A.R. Loomis and Son Produce Company. He managed the company for a number of years and after his father’s death, he managed the Fort Dodge Creamery Company.

Mr. Loomis served as president of the Fort Dodge Grocery Company and was director of the Northwest Broadcasting Company of Fort Dodge. Mr. Loomis was president of the State Bank of Fort Dodge, and he was an officer of the Wahkonsa Hotel Company. When the Home Building and Loan Company and the Chamber of Commerce needed directors, Fred Loomis filled the positions. Mr. Loomis was also a member of the Betterment Foundation, the Rotary Club, Webster County Red Cross, and the Fort Dodge Community Chest, now United Way.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Marqueson, Oliver L.

Oliver L. Marqueson


O.L. Marqueson was an active community member and manager of the Hormel Plant in Fort Dodge . He grew up in Audubon, Iowa, and for forty years of his life, worked as plant manager in Chicago, Mitchell, South Dakota, and Fort Dodge.

Marqueson was a member of the Ashlar Lodge, the York Rite Bodies of Fort Dodge, Za-Ga-Zig Shrine Temple of Des Moines, and Fort Dodge Rotary Club. He served on the Board of Directors of Iowa Manufacturers Association and the American Automobile Association of Iowa. Mr. Marqueson was a director at Fort Dodge National Bank, and he was a life member of the Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Marqueson and his wife, Illiah, were instrumental in starting the Fort Museum and were active members of the Fort Dodge Historical Foundation.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

McEnvoy, Msg.

Msg. McEvoy


Monsignor McEvoy was respected within and outside of the Catholic community. He devoted much of his time to projects concerning the welfare of others.

McEvoy was born and raised in Emmetsburg. He went to college at Columbia College in Dubuque. He then went to Sulpicin Seminary Catholic University in Washington D.C. McEvoy was ordained in 1927 and named monsignor in 1953.

In Fort Dodge, McEvoy was pastor of the Corpus Christi Church and later became chaplain of the Marian Home. In 1965, he was honored with Fort Dodge Inter-Church Forum’s first annual award for ecumenism. Msg. McEvoy also devoted time in helping establish the North Central Alcoholism Research Foundation (NCARF).

Msg. McEvoy was awarded the Lions Club Community Service Award in 1976 and the Kiwanis Club’s Golden Ruler Award in 1978. In 1982, no one deserved the title “Man of the Year” more than McEvoy. In 1982, he was named Frontier Days Parade Marshall. He was then named “outstanding senior citizen” in 1986.

Other memberships Msg. McEvoy held were through the Knights of Columbus, as chaplain of the Catholic Daughters of America, and he was the Spiritual Director for the Legion of Mary since 1944. He also was the Curia Spiritual Director at Corpus Christi.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Meservey, Stillman

Stillman Meservey

1848-Not Available

Stillman T. Meservey was born in Clinton, Illinois, December 17, 1848, and died in a hospital in Chicago, Illinois, August 5, 1927. Burial was in Fort Dodge, Iowa. In 1854. he was with his parents, William N. and Amanda C. (Robbins) Meservey, in their move to Homer, Iowa, then the county seat of what is now Webster and Hamilton counties. In 1856 they moved to Fort Dodge.

Stillman was educated in the public schools of Fort Dodge and in the Clinton Liberal Institute of Clinton, New York. Early in his career, Meservey became a member of the drug firm of Cheney & Meservey, later Vincent & Meservey. In 1872 he joined with the firm of Ringland, Vincent & Meservey in organizing the Iowa Plaster Company, which built the first plaster mill in Fort Dodge. Mr. Meservey was associated with the Fort Dodge National Bank and the Merchants National Bank and later was, for a time, president of the First National Bank. He was a builder of gas and electric light plants for his home city, and was a promoter of street railways, interurbans, and railroads. He continued his connection with the gypsum industry, making his temporary home in Chicago after 1904, where he was at the time of his death secretary of the United States Gypsum Company. Through this busy business life he was active in politics. He served as a member of the Fort Dodge City Council, and was mayor in 1881, 1882, and again in 1884. In 1885 he was elected state representative, and again in 1901, serving in the Twenty-first and Twenty-ninth general assemblies.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

*State Historical Society…. Annals of Iowa – Spring 1928

Monk, Professor John F.

Professor John F. Monk


PROFESSOR JOHN F. MONK is one of the proprietors of Tobin College of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and has spent many years in the chair of language in that institution. He has gained prominence as a linguist and as a cultured scholar. His active connection with the college has lasted for many years and has been of aid to bring about its systematic efficiency. Under his able administration the institution has grown and has constantly broadened its field of activity and increased the facilities it offers its students.

Professor Monk was born in Springford , Ontario , Canada , December 8, 1865 , and is a son of Simon N. and Frances A. (Ingram) Monk, both natives of Canada . The family is of German origin, and has been founded in America for many generations. It was represented in the Revolutionary war by the great-grandfather of our subject, who served under General Washington as captain of artillery for seven years.

John F. Monk was reared at home in Tipton, Iowa, and received his early education in the district schools of Cedar County. He subsequently entered the high school of Tipton and was graduated with honors after a four years' course. He made good use of his advantages and utilized every opportunity of an educational kind. He early showed the scholarly bent of his mind and was intensely interested in everything which made for a broader culture and more representative learning.

John Monk entered Valparaiso University at Valparaiso, Indiana, and graduated from the liberal arts course of that institution in 1891. He immediately engaged in teaching and accepted a position at Panola College at Carthage , Texas , where he remained for a short period. His professional career then brought him to Mason City , Iowa , where he taught for one year before he came to Fort Dodge to accept the position as professor of languages in Tobin College . At the time of Professor Monk's original identification with this institution Mr. Tobin was in active control of its policies and continued his connection with it until his death in 1900. In 1899 Professor Monk, in conjunction with Mr. Charles Findlay, purchased the college and took over the management of the school and directed the rapidly developing college since that time. Overseeing the management of the business end of the enterprise, Monk’s administration the institution helped grow it from a small beginning to a comparatively large educational enterprise.

Tobin College enrolled four hundred students in 1912, and each year brought a substantial increase in this number. It was one of the forces in the educational world of the Middle West, and the efficiency of its curriculum and the thorough equipment which it gave to its students made its name a synonym for all that is important and useful in educational circles.

Much of its prominence and prosperity was due to the well-directed and concentrated efforts of Professor Monk whose character united his qualities as an upright and honorable businessman with his appeal as a cultured and deeply read scholar.

In August, 1892, Professor Monk was united in marriage to Miss Helen M. Anderson, a daughter of James N. and Margaret (Dougall) Anderson, both natives of Pennsylvania and both tracing their ancestral line to Scotland. At an early date the father purchased a farm in Cedar county, Iowa , which he improved and operated for many years prior to his retirement. He moved to Mount Vernon in order to give his three daughters the educational advantages offered by that city and made this his home until his death which occurred in 1948. After his demise his widow came to Fort Dodge, Iowa, and bought a comfortable and commodious home in this city, where she resided until her death. Professor Monk and his wife were the parents of four children: Florence, Melville, Dorothy, and John.

Professor Monk's increasing distinction in the educational field brought him recognition in many different lines. He had arduous duties as head of an important department in his college and his increasing responsibilities in its business management absorbed almost his entire attention. He, however, found time to be of able and effective service as president of the Chautauqua assembly and to his well-directed management and his conspicuous organizing ability this institution owes much of its present success. He was also a director of the Fort Dodge Commercial Club and president of the official board of the Methodist church, to which he and his family give allegiance. Politically he belonged to the Republican Party and kept himself well abreast of the times upon national and local issues. His educational career, however, absorbed most of his energies and his best and most efficient work were done in that field. The quality of his attainment along this line manifests the realization of his responsibilities toward his pupils and toward educational circles at large. He labored incessantly to make his college broad and to develop it along cultural lines. He has won success in his ambitious endeavors and his prosperity lies along the road of well-directed effort.

Professor John F. Monk passed away in 1948 and was buried in the historic Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge.


*History of Fort Dodge and Webster County, Iowa - by H. M. Pratt…. Chicago: The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1913.

Nelson, Kate

Kate Nelson


Kate Nelson was remembered for her love of golf and interests in athletics for women. Kathryn Cran was born in Rutland, Iowa. She attended Tobin Business College in Fort Dodge. She was the YMCA Ladies Program Director. She also worked as the YWCA Athletics Program Director.

The Iowa State-Junior Girls Golf Program was directed by Nelson for seventeen years. Ms. Nelson served on the board for the Iowa Women’s Golf Association and won several golf championship sponsored by the Ladies City Golf, Country Club, and Lakeside Golf Course.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Platt, Henry

Henry Platt

Not Available

Henry Platt was born in Albany, New York but answered to the call of the West. Platt started his career in Fort Dodge as a brick maker in 1858. He also answered to his call of duty when he enlisted in the Eleventh Pennsylvania Calvary during the Civil War.

When Mr. Platt returned from war, he filled the position of clerk in the post office, later becoming an express messenger from Fort Dodge to Sioux City. When Andrew Johnson became president, Mr. Platt was appointed to postmaster. After he served as postmaster, Mr. Platt joined the grocery business. He was elected mayor in 1878 and served on the city council for ten years.

Source: The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Findlay, Charles V.

Charles V. Findlay


Charles V. Findlay was born at Pawpaw, Illinois, on September 18, 1866. He came to Iowa with his parents in 1870 in a covered wagon drawn by a yoke of oxen. The Findlay’s homesteaded in Clay County, and in 1877 moved to Webster County. Mr. Findlay received his early education in the rural schools of Clay and Webster Counties, and taught school in and near Kalo in Webster County for several years. He was graduated from Highland Park College in Des Moines in 1891 as a member of the first class, with a Bachelor of Science degree. In 1898 he received his master’s degree. Mr. Findlay was Webster County superintendent of schools from 1892 until 1900 when he became president of Tobin College in Fort Dodge. He served in that capacity until 1931. He was married on June 29, 1899, to Miss Mabel Southwick of Lake Mills, whom he met while both were students at Highland Park College. Mr. and Mrs. Findlay both taught classes at Tobin College where hundreds of young men and women from northwest Iowa farms and communities were their pupils.

Mr. Findlay was a member of the House of Representatives from Webster County in the Thirty-seventh, Thirty-eighth and Thirty-eighth Extra sessions of the General Assembly. He was elected State Senator from the Webster-Calhoun district and served in the Forty-ninth, Fiftieth, Fiftieth Extra, Fifty-first and Fifty-second General Assemblies. He was elected mayor of Fort Dodge in 1923, and served ten years in that office. He was a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians, and was also editor and publisher of a textbook, “Parliamentary Law Made Easy.” He was a member of the First Congregational Church of Fort Dodge, and served as a deacon of the church. In 1903 Mr. Findlay became a member of the board of trustees of the Fort Dodge Public Library. He served as president of the board from June 15, 1911, until August of 1950 when he resigned because of ill health. He was a member of the Iowa State Library Association and served as president of that group in 1928. For many years a member of the board of directors of the Y.M.C.A., he was also on the board of directors of the Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce. He spent several terms as a member of the local Boy Scout Council. Mr. Findlay also belonged to Ashlar Masonic Lodge, Delta Chapter of Royal Arch Masons and Calvary Commandery of Knights Templar. A farm owner, he had a great deal of interest in agriculture and his hobbies included gardening and outdoor sports.

Mr. Findlay, one of Fort Dodge’s best known citizens, died March 3, 1951 at the age of 84.


*History of Fort Dodge and Webster County Iowa

Arkoff, Samuel

Samuel Arkoff

Film producer


Samuel Zachary Arkoff holds an important place in the history of cinema as a leading creator and originator of low-budget “B” films, targeted to young adults aged 16-24. With themes based on teenaged passion, fast motorcycles and cars, fugitives on the run, and science fiction with some horror, Arkoff’s movies were a hit with his targeted demographic and perfect as drive-in-movie fare.

Samuel Arkoff was born on June 18, 1918, in Fort Dodge, Iowa, to immigrant parents who came to Fort Dodge in 1905. As Samuel grew up, he attended Fort Dodge schools, worked at his father’s clothing store and spent a lot of time going to movies at the Rialto, the Iowa and the Strand, often sitting through several showings of the same feature.

At the age of 13, Arkoff won a contest for selling the most subscriptions to the Des Moines Sunday Register. The prize was a five-minute flight on an Autogiro. As a junior at Fort Dodge High School, Arkoff placed third in a state speech contest for an oration titled "I Am a Jew." After graduating from Fort Dodge High School in 1935, Arkoff enrolled at the University of Colorado then later transferred to the University of Iowa to major in Speech.

After being asked to leave the university because of poor attendance, Arkoff enlisted in the United States Air Force and served his country as a cryptographer during World War II. After the war, Arkoff married and moved to Los Angeles where he attended Loyola Law School, from which he graduated in 1948.

Arkoff started his career in the entertainment industry as a legal expert in producer-distributor-exhibitor cases. By 1950, he had become vice-president of Video Associates, for which he produced the Hank McCune Show, one of television's first series.

In 1954, Arkoff co-founded American Releasing Corporation with his partner, a film exhibitor named James H. Nicholson, and a $3,000 loan from Joseph Moritz, Nicholson's former employer. The company started with the intention of distributing films only, but Arkoff and Nicholson found that, because of the film recession of the 1950s, there was little product to distribute. Thus, they decided to produce their own films as well. They changed American Releasing Corp.'s name to American International Pictures (AIP) in 1955 and started to produce B-movies. Nicholson was president of the organization, Arkoff its chairman of the board.

In order to make AIP successful, Arkoff and Nicholson wisely determined that a youth market existed for action and sensationalistic pictures. The pair consequently directed and marketed their product to teenagers, a successful marketing strategy that earned them wealth and reputation.

The company's first release, The Fast and the Furious, was produced by Roger Corman for $66,000 and made a profit of $150,000, drawing audiences with its themes of fast cars and women, and fugitives on the run. The formula for the success of AIP was also tied to double-feature films produced on a low budget and built on lurid themes, skillfully illustrated by their titles and craftily marketed. Regardless of the type of movie, whether horror, biker, beach, or science fiction, AIP did not make one film that lost money and they never had a year in the red in the decades of the 1950s and the 1960s.

Arkoff helped launch the careers of a number of well-known actors and movie makers, such as Roger Corman, the director of his first movie. Others included: Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Woody Allen, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello (in the beach blanket films), Francis Ford Coppola, Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte, Bruce Dern and Martin Scorsese. Iconic of this trait of AIP and its market was I Was a Teenage Werewolf, released in 1957. Youthful Michael Landon was the teenage werewolf, and the sub-text of teenage alienation, coupled with the movie's horror theme, made the film a hit with teenagers, who flocked to see it- grossing over $2 million. Over 50 films were produced by Arkoff’s company.

Samuel Arkoff, known for smoking foot-long cigars, stayed out of the limelight and said he hated Hollywood cocktail parties. "God, what a phony town," he said. In 1992, Arkoff wrote his autobiography, "Flying Through Hollywood by the Seat of My Pants."

Arkoff was a smart, jovial man who never took his movies too seriously. Unlike most events sponsored by Hollywood studios, Arkoff's featured no press releases, no publicity handouts, no interview opportunities and only one speech. Arkoff, holding his trademark foot-long cigar, would stand up and say, "No business is discussed at this luncheon. The less said about some of my pictures the better. We're here to have a good time. Eat, drink and enjoy yourselves."

In 2001, Samuel Arkoff died at the age of 83, only months after the death of his wife.


*Des Moines Register, Famous Iowans
*Des Monies Register – Data Central


Price, B.J.

B.J. Price


B.J. Price was a respected lawyer here during a time when Fort Dodge had some of the best legal authorities in the state. Mr. Price was born in Pennsylvania. He first came to Iowa to teach at Ellsworth College in Iowa Falls. He was admitted to the bar in 1899 and came to practice law in Fort Dodge with Frank Farrell. In 1905, he served two terms as Webster County Attorney. In 1914, Mr. Price joined the law firm of Kenyon, Kelleher, O’Connor, and Price. Mr. Price was district attorney for the Minneapolis and St. Louis railroad, and he served as director and counsel of the Tobin Packing Company, Fort Dodge National Bank, and the Estherville Packing Company. He also represented the Chicago and Northwestern Railways.

In the community, Mr. Price served as president of the Chamber of Commerce and as national counselor of the Kiwanis International. He was a charter member and served as the first president of the Fort Dodge Country Club. He was a member of the Order of Eastern Star of the Elks, A.F. and A.M. Lodge, Royal Arch Masons, and The Shrine. Mr. Price was also active in Republican politics and headed the county central and district judicial committees. Mr. Price was known for his fairness and never treated his clients with a lesser financial status differently than his wealthy clients.

Source: The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Rhodes, Daniel

Daniel Rhodes


Born and raised in Fort Dodge, Daniel Rhodes was an internationally known clay artist, teacher, and writer. After Mr. Rhodes graduated from FDSH, he attended the University of Chicago and eventually returned to his hometown in 1935. Rhodes worked as an artist and muralist during this time.

Later in his career, Rhodes took an interest in clay and ceramics. He taught at Alfred University where he did groundbreaking work in high-fire glazes, reduction firing techniques, and wrote many books. The Blanden Museum owns a few of Rhode’s artworks.

Source: The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Rich, E.H.

E.H. Rich


Well-known and respected for his insightful business sense, E.H. Rich was often consulted in business affairs in Fort Dodge.

He was born in Richford, New York. Mr. Edward Harris Rich learned the telegraph and railroad business. Around 1873, the president of the First National Bank offered Mr. Rich a position. In 1974, he persuaded his uncle to move here from the east coast and work as a bookkeeper and janitor for the First National Bank.

In 1926, Mr. Rich helped establish the Pocahontas State Bank and served as president of the bank until his death in 1929.

Mr. Rich’s activities included being a trustee, Sunday School Superintendent, and teacher of a men’s bible club. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, where he served as treasurer for fifty years. Mr. Rich was active through the YMCA and was a member of the Fort Dodge Rotary Club. Mr. Rich’s civic hand also directed the Chamber of Commerce for a number of years. He was an officer or director in more than forty banks in Minnesota and Northwest Iowa.

Source: The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Rubenstein, C.L.

C.L. Rubenstein


Known for his sense of humor and outstanding journalistic talents, Charles Rubenstein was the city editor of the Messenger.

Mr. Rubenstein came to Fort Dodge as a small child from West Virginia. He attended Fort Dodge schools and Fort Dodge Junior College. At age 21, he started work at the Fort Dodge Messenger as a reporter.

He originated and wrote the weekly column “The Old Home Town.” Many remember Mr. Rubenstein for his talents as a reporter and for his sense of humor. He was a family oriented man who married Eve Rubenstein who is also featured in this article.

Source: The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Ryan, Dr. Bill

Dr. Bill Ryan


Fort Dodge has plenty of reasons to thank Dr. Bill Ryan for his accomplishments. Dr. Ryan’s hard work and community concern have helped to build the Fort Museum, Frontier Days, and the Fort Dodge Dragoons.

Dr. Ryan came to Fort Dodge in 1961 to work for the Fort Dodge Laboratories as a sales promotional manager. A common interest in history sparked O.L. Marqueson to make Dr. Ryan his co-worker in building the Fort Museum. Dr. Ryan received donations of artifacts and eventually buildings. In 1968, the Fort Museum had its first building block, Front Street.

Dr. Ryan’s concern for the community’s liveliness and joy allowed him to develop Frontier Days. His active role within the Dragoons allowed the club to make Frontier Days a reality. Dr. Ryan has also worked in the organization of the Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve in North Central Iowa and served as the committee’s state chairman.

Source: The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Thiede, Franz

Franz Thiede Not Available-1925 A native of Germany, Franz Thiede used to own a brick plant in Fort Dodge. He studied architecture and masonry in Germany before continuing here in 1858. Franz Thiede and Charles Heilman built the brick plant in 1883. The company made paving, building and sidewalk brick, drain tile, and high-quality white pressed brick. Thiede helped construct many buildings in Fort Dodge around the turn of the century. Many buildings downtown, houses, and part of the old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church were designed by Thiede. Source: *The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Tompkins, Dr. Clarence W.

Dr. Clarence W. Tompkins 1901-1996

His dreams were undying and his determination persevered through all obstacles. Dr. Clarence Tompkins was a Methodist minister and the founder of Friendship Haven, which was considered by many to be a home for “God’s older children.” Dr. Tompkins started to embellish on the idea of a retirement home when he met Walter Dill Scott, the president of Northwestern University, and their largest fundraiser of the time. Scott would tell Tompkins to share his dreams instead of asking for money. Between 1947 and 1972, Dr. Tompkins traveled 40,000 miles a year visiting Methodist churches to raise money for the future Friendship Haven. Dr. Tompkins visited 200 elderly homes in America and 60 in Europe. The dream of Friendship Haven was almost shattered due to insufficient funds. Nothing could stop Dr. Tompkins, however, and he kept receiving thousands of dollars in gifts because he was sharing his dream. H.C. Kirkberg donated 35 acres of land during the time that he served as president of the Fort Dodge Betterment Foundation.

In 1947, Dr. Tompkins accepted the executive directorship of Friendship Haven. In 1955 and 1956, he headed the National Association of Methodist Hospitals and Homes. Friendship Haven welcomed its first resident in June of 1950. Today, many people thank Dr. Tompkins for his determination in fulfilling a dream that almost didn’t fly. Source: *The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Treloar, Les

Les Dewey Treloar (Papa Treloar)

1898 - 1983

Les Treloar was a consummate example of an American entrepreneur. With just an 8th grade education, he rose up from financial hardship to become an extremely successful restaurateur who was known across the state of Iowa and beyond.

Lester Dewey Treloar was born on September 14. 1898, in Ogden, Iowa. L.D. “Les” Treloar , worked boyhood jobs shining shoes, selling newspapers to coal miners and clerking in a grocery store. He ended his formal education at the eighth grade and eventually became a signal lamp man and then a brakeman for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. He came to Fort Dodge in 1920, when he was 22, worked briefly for the U.S. Gypsum Co. and then became a switchman in the Illinois Central yards. He wasn’t making enough money to support his family, so he and his wife, Hazel, and a younger brother O.L (Orsie) started a small business, using a self-made sandwich wagon, they began selling popcorn and peanuts up and down Central Avenue and also at northern Iowa fairs and farm sales. Les Treloar had an instinct for pleasing the public and a business acumen and work ethic that many saw as unmatched.

Les Treloar also had what he called “Treloar’s First Aid to the Hungry” in a small building at 1022 Central Ave. But, in 1928, he and Hazel started operating a restaurant from the Theiss farm site just on the north edge of the Fort Dodge city limits on North 15th Street. At this location his first restaurant was housed in a small garage they bought at a farm auction.

This makeshift restaurant had a 10’ x 12’ lunchroom with four wooden benches to seat eight customers on a small corner of a cornfield. Lights were supplied by gasoline lanterns. Water was hauled from the City, and there were no sewer facilities. Hazel did the cooking that included hamburgers, fried chicken and ribs. This was the beginning of the iconic Treloar’s Inn restaurant.

Word of the restaurant’s food spread quickly and so did its seating: By 1941, 64 diners could be accommodated; by 1946, there was seating for 210; by 1950, 425, and in 1957, Treloar’s Inn could seat 508 patrons.

At its height, Treloar’s operated five restaurants in Fort Dodge – the main Inn and the Country Boy were joined by Max Treloar’s Pancake Feast in 1961 (sold three years later to Max’s sister Billie and her husband Delbert Porter, to become “Del Porter’s Pancake Feast”); a restaurant and lounge in the then-new Holiday Inn in 1964, and the Treloar’s Crossroads Restaurant at the Crossroads Shopping Center in 1969. Hundreds of employees worked for the restaurants over the years.

Papa Treloar knew the value of offering great food and but also understood the importance of providing customers with great service. He hired good people and he valued his employees of which many worked for him for years. “The customer always came first” was the Treloar’s mantra. Treloar’s Inn enjoyed a statewide reputation for providing patrons with a unique dining experience that offered customers great food with superb service.

Known as a bird aficionado, Les Treloar had a green macaw that sat on a perch (unleashed) inside the front door of the restaurant and the lobby aviary had 15 pairs of parakeets. No doubt, Treloar’s Restaurant offered it patrons a unique dining experience.

Papa Treloar and his wife Hazel also loved monkeys and kept two, Maggie and Judy, in a cage out behind the restaurant. That was for the entertainment of the people waiting in line to get in for dinner. In the wintertime, Maggie and Judy were housed in a heated building next to their home.

Les, “Papa” Treloar was an iconic restaurateur. He filled many important offices in state and U.S. Restaurant Associations. He was also an active member of the Fort Dodge Lions Club.

Treloar’s Inn Restaurant closed in November 1975.

Les, “Papa” Treloar died in 1983 and is interred at North lawn Cemetery in Fort Dodge. The gravesites for the Treloar’s founder and his wife Hazel are located just across the highway in North Lawn Cemetery. Papa and Hazel Treloar remain nearby to the location of their iconic Fort Dodge restaurant.

Note: For more information on Treloar’s Inn Restaurant, visit the Iconic Places Section and the Spotlight Articles on this website.

Weyer, Dr. J.J.

Dr. J.J. Weyer 1908-1994

Dr. J.J. Weyer learned the importance of hard work at a young age. Dr. Weyer was born and raised in Livermore by a widowed mother of three. Dr. Weyer held many jobs as a young many to help support his family. He received his medical degree from the University of Iowa. Soon after, he served in World War II, and he served as a camp physician for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota. In 1944, Dr. Weyer went to the Fiji Islands when he was assigned to the 142nd General Hospital there.

Upon his return, Dr. Weyer was offered a partnership with Dr. E.M. Kersten to build the Kersten Clinic. Weyer’s specialty was in obstetrics, and he worked at the Kersten Clinic for a great portion of his career. Dr. Weyer is remembered for the care and compassion he had for his patients. Source: *The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

Ringland, George

George Ringland

Gypsum Pionner

1834 – 1923

Known as “Captain Ringland" during his many years In Fort Dodge, George Ringland was born March 23, 1834, on a Pennsylvania farm. He lived In Pennsylvania until he was sixteen and then the urge came to "see the world.” At that young age he took charge of a freight train carrying sheep from Cumberland to Baltimore, Maryland. He was paid fifty cents a day. He made the trip alone and spent several weeks walking back home, stopping at farm houses at night along the way. Another time he drove a herd of cattle to a neighboring county. These trips increased his desire to see the world and in 1853, he took Horace Greeley's advice and "headed west.”

Mr. Ringland's father gave him one hundred dollars and his blessing as he started for the frontier country. He came as far west by rail as he could, which, in that day, was Rock Island, Illinois. From there he walked to Des Moines and took the stage to Fort Dodge. He could find no work during the winter of 1855-56 and went to Lee County where he taught in a Quaker school. In the spring of 1856, he· returned to Fort Dodge and filed a claim in Deer Creek. He cut logs, made rafters from poles, and built a little cabin where he spent the winter. He experienced all the struggles and hardships of the early pioneers. Shelter was inadequate that first winter, food was scarce, and it was a lonesome existence living alone in his crudely constructed cabin in the pioneer country. Mr. Ringland later said in recalling these early days that no army hardships were worse than the hardships endured by the first settlers.

His claim in Deer Creek was for 160 acres. The government ordered that he pay $1.25 per acre for it. That was $200, a great deal of money in that day. He went to a “loan shark” in Fort Dodge, borrowed $200 at 40% interest and made the payment. In 1857, the birds destroyed most of his crop. He surrendered the claim and in the summer of 1858 went into county work. He worked for Pocahontas and Buena Vista counties, enforcing the swamp land law for a while. A law had been passed that all swamp lands were to be turned over to the counties. He was paid in county warrants, which he had to hold for a time before he could receive payment. Mr. Ringland then studied law in the law office of Duncombe & Stockdale. Mr. Stockdale was his uncle.

The Civil War ended his plans for a legal career. When the war broke out, Mr. Ringland attempted to organize a cavalry company in Fort Dodge. However, there were not enough men available for the company and those who had enlisted were attached to the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry, a unit of the Army of the Potomac. For a little over three years, Ringland served as Captain of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry. This regiment participated in many battles during the Civil War.

Returning to Fort Dodge, he went into the grocery business and sold agricultural implements. In 1868, Ringland married Anna Welles, the daughter of a prominent pioneer family. He went into the gypsum business and in 1872, took out a patent for his invention of a way to slow the setting time of gypsum plaster, making it easier to work with. This invention revolutionized the plaster industry and made valuable the large gypsum deposits near Fort Dodge. This was important nationally because Ringland’s patent for the improvement of plaster contributed to the growth of the gypsum industry and changed the nature of building construction. The long and continuing history of gypsum production in Iowa started when George Ringland, Webb Vincent, and Stillman T. Meservey formed the Fort Dodge Plaster Mills to mine, grind, and prepare gypsum for commercial use. The Company, known as the Iowa Hard Plaster Company, constructed the first gypsum mill west of the Mississippi River and initiated the long and continuing history of gypsum production in Iowa. Other mills sprang up and later most of these mills were absorbed by U.S. Gypsum, of which Ringland was one of the organizers and its first president. He served as president for only one year, resigning to look after his many private interests.

George Ringland died July 10, 1923 at his home in Fort Dodge. He is buried at the historic Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge. At the time of his death, he was survived by his wife, Anna, their daughter, Jeannie, husband, Charles Smeltzer, and granddaughter, Anna.

The Ringland/Smeltzer House is an iconic Fort Dodge home built in 1903 in the Jacobethan Revival style. The home features brick work, tall chimneys, multiple gables and leaded glass. The Ringland Smeltzer House qualifies for the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria B and C. Criterion B requires that a property be associated with the lives of a person or persons significant in the past whose activities are demonstrably important within a local, state and national context. George Ringland, who built the house, and his family clearly meet the requirements on both the local and national level. The house is important locally because the Ringland/Smeltzer family played a significant role both economically and culturally in the history and development of both Fort Dodge and North Central Iowa. They were involved from the very first years of settlement in the 1850s until the end of the twentieth century and the death of Ann Smeltzer, the last member of the family. The house epitomizes the industry and success of its owners and the Fort Dodge community.


*Historical Spotlight

*Twist and Shout…. August 2000


Smeltzer, Ann

Ann Smeltzer


Ann Smeltzer was the only child born to parents Charles Smeltzer and Jeannie Ringland Smeltzer.

Her father, Charles Smeltzer, was a banker in Fort Dodge. Her mother, Jeannie Ringland Smeltzer, was a talented musician who established a Montessori School and a music school in their home. The home Ann grew up in became a cultural center in the community. Concerts and performances were held in the third floor ballroom.

Ann Smeltzer was born and raised in Fort Dodge. She grew up in the house on 2nd Ave South and 12th Street. Her parents and her maternal grandparents all lived together with Ann in that home. When the house was built in 1903, it was wired for electricity, even though actual electricity wasn’t yet available. Ann received her education from home in her mother’s Montessori School and piano lessons from Alice Hackett, a notable Fort Dodge piano instructor. Alice Hackett’s students often had piano recitals in the Smeltzer House.

At age 14, Ann Smeltzer boarded a train (never having left home by herself) to enroll in Madame Madeira’s School for girls in Virginia. She then travelled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she attended and graduated from Radcliffe College. Ms. Smeltzer also attended Iowa State University. Her fascination and love for art allowed her to live in Paris and New York. She studied with artist Henri Matisse in southern France. Ann often replicated his art, creating pieces for her home in Fort Dodge. Ann was known for her knowledge of world events and spoke many languages. Ann was fluent in French, and had studied Latin as a child. Ann had houses and apartments in Paris, New York and Boston, but considered Fort Dodge her true home.

Ann Smeltzer acquired many renowned pieces of art which later became part of the Blanden Art Museum’s permanent collection. Ms. Smeltzer was a major contributor to the Blanden, donating over 22 major art pieces between 1948 and 1977. The Smeltzer Home continues to display many pieces of valuable art throughout the house. Ann also studied at the famed Le Cordon Bleu, a culinary and hospitality school in Paris.

Today, the Smeltzer House is used for many events: Musical performances in the living room, dinners in the dining room, meetings, showers and wedding receptions are some of the events held in the home. The furniture is original to the home and there are over 5,000 books, many signed first editions.

Ann was a very strong supporter of the community, both personally and civically. She would often allow the neighborhood children to play in her third floor ballroom. This was quite generous of her, because between the three houses to the south of hers, there were eighteen children! The neighborhood children would roller-skate in the ballroom.

Ms. Smeltzer stood out for her concern about ecological and environmental issues. She often “marched to her own drummer,” a trait that allowed her individuality and unique ideas open doors for new environmental and agricultural practices.

Ann Smeltzer owned a considerable amount of farmland and demanded that it be taken care of in an environmentally safe way. She set limits on fertilizer usage and encouraged raising livestock and the planting of oats and hay.

The Smeltzer Farm, located southeast of Fort Dodge, is a multi-faceted farm containing almost every conservation structure and practice. From streambank stabilization to terraces, grassed waterways, a bioreactor, and farming practice demonstrations including no-till, strip-till and cover crops, the Smeltzer farm serves as a learning tool for farmers. Visitors can come out to see how things are implemented, how the crops are growing and can get pointers from the members of the Smeltzer advisory board. The county naturalist, NRCS conservationist and ISU Extension specialists all work together to make this farm successful.

Ann was a strong believer in using natural herbicides and insecticides. However, there was one known instance when she allowed a strong weed killer to be used to get rid of the poison ivy that was in her yard, so that the neighborhood children wouldn’t be affected by it. She didn’t want her neighbor children to suffer from poison ivy!

Before her death, Ann Smeltzer set up a charitable trust which maintains the home and funded the home’s extensive restorations. Upon her death, Ann Smeltzer left a $16 million estate.

The Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust was created to:

  1. Restore and maintain the historical integrity of the Ringland-Smeltzer home.

  2. Develop and utilize the farmland to create income.

  3. Provide a venue and resources for activities in music, the arts, and literature.

  4. Provide a model and resources for agricultural and environmental conservation.

  5. Provide encouragement and resources in the arenas of public policy and social justice.

  6. Provide a model and resources for historical facilities and preservation.

Ann was a very private yet community minded person who created the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust in order to support her community far into the future.


*Twist and Shout, January, 2000


*Des Moines Register


Smetlzer, Charles and Jeanine

Charles Beecher Smeltzer, 1870-1941

Jeanine Ringland Smeltzer, 1873-1946

Jeanine and Charles were married in 1903

Charles Smeltzer was born in the eastern United States and came to Fort Dodge in the mid 1800’s. Charles Smeltzer was orphaned at the age of six and he was returned to the East to be raised by relatives. When he turned 14, he came back to Fort Dodge to live with George Pearson, a local relative, a land investor, and the future father-in-law of Senator Jonathon Dolliver. After graduating from Fort Dodge High School, Smeltzer went on to attend the University of Iowa and then the University of Michigan, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. Upon graduation from the University of Michigan he returned to Fort Dodge to make a career in banking, serving as president and member of the board of directors in a number of banks in Iowa and Minnesota, and in land management. Charles Smeltzer, was a successful banker in Fort Dodge. He married Jeannie Ringland in October, 1903.

Charles SmeltzerJeannie Ringland Smeltzer, was the daughter of George Ringland who was an entrepreneur and whose patent for the improvement of plaster contributed to the growth of the gypsum industry in Fort Dodge. It changed the nature of building construction.

Jeannie Ringland Smeltzer, was also a leading force in the Fort Dodge community. She was deeply involved in Fort Dodge cultural life. A highly talented pianist she studied both in the eastern United States and in Europe and continued her training throughout much of her life. Mrs. Smeltzer established a school of music which employed a number of other teachers and introduced the most advanced teaching methods. She was the first person outside New York to adopt and be certified in the use of the soundless practice piano. Not only did she teach and perform herself but she composed music and published a number of books of music for children. Under her the Smeltzer house became a cultural center of the community. Concerts were held in the third floor ballroom and Jeanine Ringlandfeatured nationally recognized musicians. Her interest extended into the visual arts as well. She and her husband, Mrs. Smeltzer’s parents, donated the Welles family home and property to the community for the construction of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum in 1932.

In addition to her music school Mrs. Smeltzer, operated a private school for local children in the home’s third floor ball room as an alternative to the public schools. In developing the curriculum she consulted and worked with Dr. A. A. Berle, America’s first and foremost advocate of and innovator in home schooling at a time that the movement was first attracting popular attention.

Jeanine RinglandThe Ringland-Smeltzer family was deeply involved in the arts. The family’s art acquisitions eventually became the basis for the Blanden Art Museum’s permanent collection.

The Smeltzers had only one daughter, Anna Smeltzer, who became a very strong supporter of the community, both personally and civically, and a major benefactor of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum.

Charles and Jeannie Smeltzer lived with their daughter Ann most of their married life along with the Ringlands in their beautiful home located in the historic Oak Hill district on 2nd Avenue South. The historic Ringland/Smeltzer house was built in 1903.



The Friendly Sioux Indian Boy

1838 - Unknown

Widely as the name Wahkonsa is now used in Webster County, only scattered facts are known about the Indian boy himself. Wahkonsa was the son of a Sioux chieftain called Umpashota, Wahkonsa was born around 1838 and he must have been a strong and active papoose because his name meant “One Who Will Go a Long Way or One Who Will Be Heard From.

So far as can be discovered, Wahkonsa is the only local Indian name in use in Webster County, but it has done unlimited service. The name has been given to two hotels, two schools, the township containing the city of Fort Dodge,

many literary, social and fraternal organizations, a fire company, a fire company, a baseball club during the infancy of the game, numerous small local businesses, and a packing plant which has made the name literally true by sending Wahkonsa Brand pork products far and wide.

James Williams, the son of William Williams, the military post sutler and founder Fort Dodge, lived with his father on the military post and was the only youngster at Fort Dodge. For four long years and seven months James would see none of his family except his father. It was in the summer 1851, when James would meet a young boy that would become his best friend, Wahkonsa.

Though Wahkonsa was a little younger, James was small for his age, so the two boys were nearly the same size. After the first shyness subsided James and Wahkonsa found many opportunities to hunt and fish and play games together.

Wahkonsa was an attractive lad. Well-built and handsome even by the white man’s standards. He was always magnificently, dressed. As the son of a chief he conducted himself with

dignity. In the opinion of the soldiers, who did not rate Indians highly, Wahkonsa was judged to be intelligent. Wahkonsa probably taught James Williams a great deal about hunting and fishing. To the soldiers and settlers he was a ready source of useful geographical information, and “would map out the whole country northwest of this in sand, or dirt, with a stick.” Settlers who knew Wahkonsa recognized him as a friendly young boy who would do any work; even help with the chores and he took quite a fancy to the white settlers. Major Williams described Wahkonsa, the son of Chieftain Umpashota (Smoky Day), as very intelligent and useful to the first settlers; that he would map out the whole country northwest of the fort, in the sand or dirt, with a stick.

Though James Williams spent most of his life in Fort Dodge, he left no written record and few

oral reminiscences of the early days. It is known, however, that James and Wahkonsa were almost inseparable. When the Indians were camping near the fort, Wahkonsa would spend several days or a week at the Williams cabin; James would then repay the visit by spending an equal period in Wahkonsa’s tepee, the tepee of Chief Umpashota. Wahkonsa would be sure to be there to share the hunt, the canoe trip, the swim, or the contest of endurance. In speed and agility, slight James excelled the Indian boy and won a Sioux name for himself. Major William Williams noted in his journal that all his many friendships in later life, none was equal to those with his early Sioux neighbors.

In his journal, William Williams described Wahkonsa when he was about 23 or 24 years of age as being “about 6 feet high, exceedingly well made, light copper color, a well formed face, aquiline nose, prominent chin, very fond of dress, generally dresses in tanned deer skin with a great many extra trappings about his leggings, very particular in dressing his hair, paints uniformly in one way, that is a star in his forehead, one on each cheek and one on his chin, a very cheerful pleasant looking fellow."

There is scant documentation about the life of Wahkonsa growing up in and around Fort Dodge. The tragic incident of the Spirit Lake Massacre led to his departure.

In 1856, Chief Umpashota and his little band were frequently in the vicinity of Algona. They were friendly Indians who often helped settlers by drawing maps of the region. The chief became good friends with the troops and settlers. They also knew Wahkonsa and a friendly young Indian who was a handsome youth sixteen or seventeen years old who usually wore beaded deerskin and took pride in his good appearance.

During the winter of 1856-57 Inkpaduta (a very warring chief) and his band, were on the Little Sioux River. Times were hard for the Indians and Inkpaduta still harbored a grudge against the settlers who had protected the murderer of the Sioux Indian Chief Sidominadota. The climax of bad feeling came in the spring – the Spirit Lake Massacre- where 40 settlers were murdered by Inkpaduta and his band of Sioux Indians. Umpashota was not there and did not have any bloody part in the massacre, nor did Wahkonsa, who was with his father.

On March 19, 1857, ten days after the massacre at the lakes, Umpashota was encamped near

Springfield, Minnesota, where he learned from visiting Indians of the tragedy at Spirit Lake.

This news he reported to the whites and warned them that the hostile band might come that way. “At any rate,“ he said, “I am going to remain close to my camp for a while.“

It must have been at this time or soon afterward that Wahkonsa went to Fort Ridgely and gave

himself up in order to establish his innocence in connection with the Spirit Lake uprising. Many of the Indians involved in the massacre left the region, but not all moved to Dakotas or stayed away. In February, 1859, the settlers in Dickinson County heard of a party of Indians encamped at the head of Spirit Lake. Henry Martin, captain of an informal company of frontier guards, who was sent to investigate, found Umpashota, his family, and a few followers. Martin arrested the Indians on the pretext that they were out of their territory, which was a common occurrence. Not knowing what else to do, Captain Martin ordered his lieutenant to escort the prisoners to Fort Dodge. The lieutenant grasping the situation, took them as far as Gillett’s Grove and turned them loose, after obtaining their promises to stay away from the lakes in the future.

Westward into the Dakotas the Indians went. After the Spirit Lake Massacre it was not safe to be known as a member of the Sioux. And then, following the general uprising in Minnesota in 1862, it was still more difficult for any Sioux in that region to establish innocence, so the bands broke up and were assimilated by other western groups until they completely lost their original identity. What finally became of Wahkonsa and his family is not known.

That is the last definitely dated reference to Wahkonsa and his family. There is no account of the parting of Wahkonsa and James Williams. It may have occurred before the massacre when they were boys playing together at Fort Dodge. The evidence of that friendship is preserved in the parting gifts of the Indian youth to his white friend. These were treasured throughout the lifetime of James Williams and are now kept in the Webster County Museum in Fort Dodge: three skillfully made beaded buckskin bags, containing traces of red, yellow, and green paint; one beaded headband; an elaborate ‘‘money” bag; and a bow with five arrows — all personal treasures of the Indian brave.

Thus, ends the account of Wahkonsa, a good friend of James Woods, the troops and the American settlers at Fort Dodge. Sadly, many historic and influential Native Americans are not written about in history unless they were warring, renegade Indians. Some history does speak to a few American Indians who were friendly and helpful to the white settlers, like Wahkonsa, the friendly Indian, the “One Who Will Go a Long Way,” then passed out of Iowa history toward the setting sun.

Note: We were unable to find an actual picture of Wahkonsa. The photo is a depiction of what Wahkonsa may have looked like as a teenage Indian boy.

*The Palimpsest…Volume 23 | Number 4 Article 3 - 4-1-1942…Wahkonsa by Harold D. Peterson – The Palimpsest is a historical magazine of the Iowa State Historical Society

Duncombe, John

State Senator John Duncombe

1831- 1902

As a prominent attorney, political figure and industrialist, John F. Duncombe was an influential community leader in early Fort Dodge and a person of major significance in Fort Dodge history.

John Francis Duncombe was born in Wattsburg, Pennsylvania, October 22, 1831. He was raised and acquired his early education in his native town. Duncombe remained at home until he was sixteen, working on the farm in the summers and attending the district school in the winters. He went to Meadville, Pa., for his preparatory studies, then attended Allegheny College.

Duncombe taught in the public schools in the winter season to earn money to cover his college expenses. Duncombe went on to graduate from both Allegheny College of Meadville, PA, and Center College at Danville, Kentucky before taking up the study of law in his home town in the office of Marshall & Vincent. He was admitted to the bar of Pennsylvania in 1854 then relocated to Fort Dodge in April of 1855 and continued practicing law. His admirable career of self-help and self-reliance began early. He pursued his legal studies after his college days in Meadville and Erie, and was admitted to the bar at the latter place when he was 22 years of age. From the date of his settlement in Fort Dodge, there were few men in any community that led a more active or useful lives.

Duncombe managed a large and successful law practice and was known for his in depth understanding of the principles of the law and his ability to express his legal positions and arguments in a very clear, precise and convincing manner. He served as the attorney of the Illinois Central railroad in a district embracing seventeen counties, for a period of over thirty years. He also served in the same capacity for the Mason City & Fort Dodge, the Des Moines & Fort Dodge and the Cherokee & Dakota Railroads. Having a reputation as a very intelligent and shrewd attorney, Duncombe took pride in being known for the care with which he counseled amicable settlements out of court where such methods were possible.

In political and public life Mr. Duncombe was equally prominent. In 1857, when the news of the Spirit Lake massacre reached Fort Dodge, he took an active part in raising the troops which were sent against the Indians, and he acted as captain of Company B. The expedition was under the command of Maj. William Williams. Governor C.C. Carpenter, once stated about Duncombe: "Of the three captains, two are living - Messrs. C. B. Richards and John F. Duncombe. Their subsequent careers in civil life have been but a fulfillment of the prophecy of the men who followed them through the snow-banks of Northwestern Iowa in 1857."

A year or two after he settled in Fort Dodge he became the editor of The Sentinel, the pioneer journal of northwestern Iowa. Duncombe was a vigorous and outspoken editor, fearless and aggressive. Later he published and edited the Democrat, of Fort Dodge, a paper of large influence in the party politics of the state. Always a democrat, Duncombe soon rose to a commanding position in his party, which coveted his counsel and leadership. As a speaker he possessed rare ability. He was equally at home before a jury or arguing a case in front of the Iowa Supreme Court. As a legislator and lawyer, Duncombe’s logical grasp of the facts and principles of the law applicable to them has been another potent element in his success, and his remarkable clearness of expression and precise diction were counted among his conspicuous gifts and accomplishments. Politically his party had no more effective campaigner in the State. But he was never happier than when speaking at a re-union of pioneer settlers. On such occasions he was always a favorite, and his ready wit and rare good humor never failed to elicit the heartiest applause. Mr. Duncombe was chosen to the State Senate in 1859, and served in the sessions of 1860 and 1862. He was twice elected to the House—1871 and 1879. In 1862, the Ninth General Assembly formed and Senator Duncombe was given place on the Judiciary Committee and on the Committee of Military Affairs - two of the most important committees, the second especially so at that time.

Reared in the school of old-time democracy, Mr. Duncombe while heartily supporting President Lincoln in his efforts to put down the rebellion, was sure he saw in the trend of affairs a purpose to precipitate a movement for the emancipation of the slaves. In an honest endeavor to put his state upon record as adhering to the original purpose of the President and Congress, on the 22d of January he offered a resolution, which, after reciting the causes of the War of the Rebellion as he saw them,

“Resolved, That the Senate of the State of Iowa hereby pledges cordial support to the President of the United States in a patriotic effort to put down all rebellion against the Constitution and laws of the United States, and in resisting secession, abolition and negro emancipation from whatever source it may come, by every constitutional means in the power of the Government.”

During his career in the State Legislature, eight years, Duncombe was considered one of the most influential men of his party in each branch. As a legislator he was well-informed, resourceful, bold and aggressive, and generally successful. His influence was always used along the lines of reform and progress. Had the democrats been in power there was no position in the Statehouse to which he might not have aspired with an assurance of success.

In 1872 Duncombe served as chairman of the Iowa delegation to the national democratic convention at Baltimore. The Iowa Pioneer Law Makers chose him as president of their association on February 25, 1886.

From 1881 to 1889, Mr. Duncombe enjoyed the distinction of being lecturer on railroad law on the law faculty of the University of Iowa; and many are the graduates of the Law School at Iowa City who can testify to the thoroughness of his research and the vigor and clearness of his expositions of the law. He was for eighteen years a regent of the University of Iowa.

In addition to Duncombe’ s career in law and political office, he was also a large farmer, a dealer in lands, and one of the foremost Iowa coal mine operators. In conjunction with C. B. Richards, Duncombe developed the coal mines in Fort Dodge and Boone, and he served as secretary for both the Fort Dodge Coal Company and the Rocky Ford Coal Company of Wyoming Territory. His most successful business enterprise was the manufacture of stucco and other products from the gypsum beds adjacent to Fort Dodge. Because of his public energy and progressiveness, Duncombe was associated with a number of the institutions of early Fort Dodge and was a major factor in persuading large railroad companies to extend their lines into Fort Dodge. In 1872, Duncombe purchased a building and repurposed it into the Duncombe Hotel. The property remained in the Duncombe family until 1913, when L.D. Eilers bought it and renamed it the Eilers Hotel. No trace of the hotel remains today. The ground on which it sat now serves as the site of the Fort Dodge Public Library on the City Square.

John Duncombe was descended from an old English family, the names of many of whose members are worthily embalmed in the famous "Dictionary of National Biography." Some of them were knighted and elected to the British Parliament. His great grandfather was a soldier of the Revolution, and his grandfather bore arms in the war of 1812.

John Duncombe was twice married. His first wife, Miss Carrie Perkins of Erie, PA, died in 1854. On May 11, 1859, he go remarried to Mary Williams, the daughter of Major William Williams, the patriot-pioneer of Fort Dodge. They had seven children- most notably, his son Charles, who would later become the mayor of Fort Dodge; and his daughter Mary, who would become the wife of Senator W. S. Kenyon. In 1862, Duncombe acquired land and built his family home called Fair Oaks, which was considered one of the finest residences in the community. The house was demolished in 1930 and is now the location of the former Fair Oaks Middle School (South Junior High).

As an active member, citizen and leader of his community, Duncombe was a charter member of the chapter and commandery of the Masonic fraternity of Fort Dodge and also attained the thirty-third degree of the Scottish Rite.

Mr. Duncombe’ s death occurred August 2, 1902. Upon his death, it was noted by many in his community that John Duncombe was a public-spirited citizen who recognized the opportunities for reform, progress and improvement, and was very successful in achieving what he could for the benefit of his fellow man. Duncombe Elementary School in Fort Dodge was named after him in honor of his distinguished service to his community of Fort Dodge.


*State Historical Society – Annals of Iowa…. Volume 5 – Number 7 - 1902

*History of Fort Dodge and Webster County Iowa, Volume II.. 1913 - by Charles Larrabee

*Iowa: Its History and Its Foremost Citizens - Original Edition. 3 Vols. Des Moines, IA: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1915-1916.

Magowan, Judge S.N.

Judge S.N. Magowan


Judge S.N. Magowan was born in Tama, Iowa, October 18, 1875. He attended the Tama schools and then studied at the State University of Iowa, where he received his law degree. He came to Fort Dodge in 1897, and began the practice of law. The following year, with Company C of the Fifty-second Iowa volunteers, he saw service in the Spanish-American war.

Returning to Fort Dodge after the regiment was mustered out, he resumed his law practice. Mr. Magowan was police judge for about ten years and was the first to hold that office in Fort Dodge under the commission form of government.

In addition to his law practice, Mr. Magowan was active in business and banking. He was associated with the Fort Dodge Serum company in its early years and was assistant manager of the firm. He left the Serum company to become an official of the Commercial National bank of Fort Dodge. During his association with the bank, ill health forced him to retire from active work and to spend his winters in more favorable climates. In his later years he resided in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a large portion of each year, returning each spring to Fort Dodge, which was always home to him.

Mr. Magowan was a member of the Elks and the Odd Fellows. He died at Fort Dodge, June 14, 1941, a few hours after his return from Hot Springs. He was buried in Memorial Park cemetery at Fort Dodge.


*Annals of Iowa – Webster County Bar Association = Volume 31 | Number 2 (Fall 1951)

Tobin, Thomas

Professor Thomas Tobin

Educational Entrepreneur and Leader


Professor Thomas Tobin founded Tobin College in Fort Dodge in 1892. It was the fourth school established by Professor Thomas Tobin, the other three being: Tilford Academy, in Vinton, Iowa; Waterloo College, in Waterloo, Iowa; and Ellsworth College, in Iowa Falls, Iowa.

Thomas Tobin, who was a native of Ireland, was born August 15, 1835. He was orphaned at a young age, but found a way to America at the age of fourteen. He had no formal education until he entered a school room at the age of nineteen. But even at that age, he had the courage to set out to secure a college education, earning the necessary means himself. Tobin attended and graduated from Fort Edward Collegiate Institute, which was a college preparatory and boarding school located in New York.

Thomas Tobin understood and appreciated the value of education. After graduating from college, Tobin resolved to make it easier for disadvantaged boys to obtain an education, and to give them a chance to secure instruction suited to their individual needs. Accordingly, in 1870, he came to Iowa and established Tilford Academy, in Vinton. In 1885 he went to Waterloo and started Waterloo College. In 1889, he moved to Iowa Falls, where he founded Ellsworth College.

Early in the year of 1892, he began corresponding with Mr. Frank Gates, Mr. Frank Farrell, and others, concerning the establishment of a college in Fort Dodge. After making satisfactory arrangements, Professor Tobin moved his family to Fort Dodge in April of the same year and began working on establishing a college in Fort Dodge. The property for the college site was purchased from Mrs. Sarah Dwelle, the widow of the last landlord of the old St. Charles hotel. This property included the hotel and a quarter of a block of ground on the corner of First Avenue North and Seventh Street. Even though the college building was not completely finished, school began on the second Monday in September, 1892. Enrollment in the first semester was about fifty students.

The new college began without a name. A week or so after it opened, Professor Tobin was invited by some friends to spend the day in the woods. While he was gone, the teachers and students took matters into their own hands, called a meeting, and by a unanimous vote, christened the new college,

"Tobin," in recognition of the work he had done for the cause of education through the founding of so many colleges.

It was in declamatory/public speaking work and the teaching of young men and women to think and talk upon their feet that Professor Tobin was especially interested. To this work he gave freely both of his time and of his zeal, spending numerous hours in his classroom instructing, critiquing and commending, but always urging his students onward. His interest was such that he never missed a program of the literary societies, nor any program in which his students took part. His enthusiasm and interest was so genuine and from the heart that it sparked a longing for success in his pupils. A unique feature of the Tobin College Alumni Association was the alumni fund. This fund was started in 1899 by Professor Tobin to provide "for the aid of worthy students in their efforts to gain an education."

In 1899, Professor Tobin sold the college to Professor John Monk and Professor Charles Findlay, who carried on the work using the same educational philosophy established by Professor Tobin. Under the leadership of Monk and Findlay, Tobin College continued to prosper and grow. By 1907-1908, Tobin College had 420 students enrolled. Records indicate that Tobin College merged with the Fort Dodge Business College in 1931.

Professor Tobin passed away of illness in 1900, at the age of 65.


*Iowa GenWeb Project
*History of Fort Dodge and Webster County, Iowa - by H. M. Pratt… Chicago: The Pioneer Publishing Company, 1913.

Duncombe, Charles

Charles F. Duncombe

The history of Fort Dodge bears evidence of the professional and commercial activity of Charles Duncombe, who since 1884 has been identified with journalistic interests here and at the same time has become a factor in the manufacturing and financial circles of the city.

Charles F. Duncombe was born in Fort Dodge, February 20, 1864 to John and Mary Duncombe. The father, John Duncombe, was a prominent and influential resident of Fort Dodge, where he settled in April, 1855, becoming a pioneer lawyer of frontier village. Charles attended school at Racine College, Racine, Wisconsin, and later at the University of Iowa. He intended to become a lawyer, but before he could finish his course, he was compelled by ill health to give up his school work. He then began work as reporter on the Fort Dodge Chronicle, then a once-per-week printed newspaper and was considered one of the best known and leading journals of the state. In 1884, Charles acquired the ownership of the paper and began printing daily editions. Retaining sole ownership until 1887, Charles sold one-half interest in the newspaper to his brother. Charles then went to St. Paul, and with two others started the St. Paul News. Then he sold his interest in the St. Paul News in 1890 and returned to Fort Dodge to take charge of the Duncombe Stucco Company plaster mills. The mills being sold to the United States Gypsum Company on February 1, 1901, Mr. Duncombe became their district manager, a position he held until November, 1903. In all, he was connected with the gypsum business fourteen years.

Like his father and grandfather before him, Charles took great pride in service to his city. He was postmaster from 1894 until 1898 and mayor from 1906 until 1908, when he declined to become a candidate for reelection. In 1908 he was honored by the democrats of Iowa by being named as one of the four delegates-at-large to the Denver convention. Duncombe also served as president of the school board, a director of the Chautauqua Association and a director of the Country Club. His military history covers service as first sergeant of the first company organized in Fort Dodge. His political allegiance has always been given to the Democratic Party and he is well known in fraternal relations, holding membership with the Red Men, the Moose, and the Knights of Pythias to which he was chancellor commander and keeper of the records and seals.

Duncombe School was named after Charles F. Duncombe.


*History of Fort Dodge and Wester County Iowa Volume II

Cooper, Fred N.

Fred N. Cooper

Fred Cooper had an exceptional ability to work with people, and his ability earned him great respect from the community. Fred N. Cooper was born in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from the Indianapolis College of Physical Education and then enrolled at the University of Michigan where he studied for a few months until he left to join the army during World War I. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Cooper served 28 months in the field artillery, 14 months of which was overseas in France. Following the war, he was employed briefly in a Detroit automobile plant and then returned to school.

In 1923, Mr. Cooper settled in Fort Dodge to take the job of physical director and athletic coach. He coached football, wrestling and track, producing many winning teams during his years with Fort Dodge High School. Coach Cooper coached the Dodger wrestling team to 9 state championships and 8 state runners-up. He coached 28 individual state champions, numerous collegiate all-Americans and Olympians. He remained in Fort Dodge until 1945. While in Fort Dodge, Cooper also served as vice commander of the eighth district American Legion and commander of the Fort Dodge Legion post.

Many of Coach Cooper’s athletes were named to All-State teams. In researching Coach Cooper, athletes last names such as Gargano, Muhl, Kuhn, Isaacson, Flowers, Brokaw, Gawtry, Castignoli, Heileman, Messerly, Bickford and Pickett often appeared. These are names of athletes who excelled for many generations to follow.

Mr. Cooper received his master’s degree through a summer program offered by the University of Iowa. Mr. Cooper was named athletic director of FDSH and the junior college in 1930. When named Athletic Director, newspapers stated of Cooper that he was:

“One of the best wrestling coaches in America, and president of both state and national high school mat associations, Mr. Cooper will meet the unanimous approval of students, parents and Dodger athletic fans. He is a competent football coach and has a thorough

knowledge of all sports. Not only is he respected and admired, but he is immensely popular with hundreds of boys in his gym classes and on his teams, by his fellow faculty members, and by everyone else with whom he has come into contact during his seven years in Fort Dodge.”

Cooper also served as football and wrestling coach and physical training instructor. Under Cooper’s leadership as Athletic Director, lights were added to the football field (Duncombe Field) in 1930 at a cost of $4,250 (approximately $65,000 in 2019 dollars), which allowed the games to be played at night. Also in 1930, 170 boys (1/3 of the total enrollment in the high school), went out for Fort Dodge High School and Junior College football.

Coach Cooper was a strict disciplinarian. He required attendance at all practices and in order to ensure players were at practice, he had each player sign in with his thumbprint next to his name on the roster. This prevented players from signing in for a team member. The consequences of forging a thumbprint were probably more severe than being absent from practice. The Associated Press got hold of this story, and it was carried nationally. Local Fort Dodge resident John Haire, in school in Pennsylvania at the time, reported reading this story in Pennsylvania.

Another story that is part of the Fred Cooper “lore” involved a student athlete who had misbehaved in class. His teacher called Cooper, then Athletic Director and coach, to the classroom to discipline the boy. Coach Cooper took the student out in hall and began reprimanding him. The students left behind in the classroom suddenly heard a loud banging against the lockers in the hallway. They knew their fellow student was really in trouble with Coach Cooper, and also knew that they had better behave in class. As time went on, it turned out that all Coach Cooper wanted to do was set an example with the misbehaving student – Cooper hadn’t banged the student up against the locker, but had banged his own hands against the lockers to create a loud ruckus and to let the other students know that “he meant business.”

Each year, a charity football game was held, often manned by former football players who had graduated from Fort Dodge High School. Proceeds from the game would benefit the Community Chest, the welfare association, the school administration and other local charitable organizations in order to provide food, clothing and shelter to the needy. Tickets were fifty cents; the local team would play local freshmen football college teams. It was reported that no complimentary tickets were given out, and the event played to a full house. At the 1931 Charity football game (played against Drake University’s freshmen team), French dignitaries presented the Croix de Guerre to the Fort Dodge American Legion Drum Corps. The Croix de Guerre was a medal that honored the million French heroes of WWI and was presented to French military allies. 3,367 people attended this game, and raised $1,700 for charity ($32,355 in 2019 dollars).

Coach Cooper knew how to “get the job done”. He was a “do-er”, and his students and athletes knew they could depend upon him. Coach Cooper always wore a suit, further emphasizing the respect he held for his position and the level of respect he expected from his students and athletes.

Sometimes, transportation for the athletes wasn’t available for sporting events. Coach Cooper coached during the Great Depression, and resources were scarce. In 1934, for example, Coach Cooper appealed to the public to drive the wrestlers to a meet in Sac City. The school would provide the gasoline and oil for the trip and admittance to the meet for the drivers. He was often known to be “in the trenches” with his athletes. One year, Coach Cooper broke two ribs while wrestling with a student during practice!

In 1945, after the Boys Training School in Eldora experienced a riot following the beating death of one of its boys and the escape of 179 of its residents, Iowa Governor Robert Blue implored Cooper to take the position of Superintendent of the Boys Training School, knowing that Cooper’s ability to work with youth would be a great benefit to the troubled boys who had been sent there. Cooper accepted the position; there were 500 boys in residence when Cooper became superintendent.

Cooper immediately began enacting changes in protocol for the school. He understood that many boys often got into trouble because of very difficult home lives, lack of parental care and lack of any sort of guidance as they were growing up. He cited examples of the “toughest of the toughies” who broke down and cried when they never received a letter. Cooper also stated that the communities from which these boys hailed should not forget them. He complimented those community members who would take these troubled boys on outings and give them a reprieve from the difficulties they were experiencing.

Cooper immediately banned corporal punishment at the school and asked that a psychiatrist be available to the boys. He also noted that due to WWII, many of these boys were from homes where the father had lost his life in the war, causing poverty and often dysfunction in the homes with a single mother raising children alone. He believed that the communities and society owed it to these children to help them grow up.

Cooper made many positive changes in the Eldora facility in two short years: he changed it from its basic military format to a civilian format; boys were allowed to attend church, those boys whose rehabilitation was considered to be hopeless were sent to the Anamosa reformatory; instructional and recreational programs that were instituted gave boys the opportunity to participate in more activities. Awards in these activities included trips to state athletic events, circuses and other entertainment features. Cooper was frequently praised for his work in these areas by judges and other officials.

Mr. Cooper stood firm on the belief that “there are no truly bad boys.” Mr. Cooper worked all hours, hardly having any time for sleep. In the first three months in the position in Eldora, Mr. Cooper’s weight dropped from 192 to 178 pounds. It is thought that Mr. Cooper’s relentless devotion to his job triggered his premature death from a heart attack in 1947.

In 1952, The Fred N. Cooper Elementary School in Fort Dodge was named in his honor. Mr. Cooper was married and had three children: Fred Cooper, Joe Cooper and Carolyn Mulholland (of Fort Dodge). Sixty-four years following his death and in honor of his amazing success as a wrestling coach, Coach Fred Cooper was elected to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2015.


*The Messenger

*The Des Moines Register

*Little Dodger


Kersten, Dr. E.M. and Family

Dr. E.M. (“E.M” / Ernie) Kersten and Family


Dr. E.M. Kersten, co-founder of the Kersten Clinic, was born in De Pere, Wisconsin, son of immigrant pioneer doctor, Dr. Alphonse Kersten (born in Rees-on-Rhine, Germany) and Mary Van den Boom Kersten and one of ten children (7 of whom became physicians). Alphonse began his career as a pharmacist; he once road a horse from St. Joseph, Missouri to California. His sense of adventure was instilled in his children and is present in his progeny yet today.

E.M. graduated from Marquette University Medical School at the age of 21 and did his post-graduate work at Harvard. He met his future wife, Anne Blessington Hinzie, a native Texan, in Wisconsin after she received her degree in music from the University of Wisconsin in 1917. E.M. practiced in Two Rivers, Wisconsin until he moved to Fort Dodge in 1916 to join Dr. F.E. Seymour in a medical practice.

E.M. remained a member of the medical reserve in the state of Wisconsin, and was soon called to serve in WWI. He was the first physician from Fort Dodge to be called to war by the U. S. War Department. A dinner was held in his honor at the Wahkonsa Hotel before he left for the war. E.M. and Anne were married in Palestine, Texas, and they left for Camp Custer in Battle Creek, Michigan. Kersten then was sent to France, where he spent two years with the army. Mrs. Kersten returned to Texas while he was at war.

Around 1919, the couple returned to Fort Dodge and E.M. began practicing medicine again. The family was growing – they soon had four boys (Paul, Herb, John, Don) and one girl (Frances Anne). E.M. practiced surgery, family medicine, orthopedics and just about every form of medicine. It was the midst of the depression; E.M. was often paid in chickens, fresh eggs, produce and labor for his medical care. He routinely made house calls, and often told of the dire conditions under which people were living due to the economic crisis.

During the war years, the flu epidemic had claimed many lives. Dr. Kersten had an elderly patient, a banker named George Wheeler, who had lost his wife and his two children to the flu epidemic of 1918 (which claimed the lives of 50 million people worldwide). In the mid 1920’s, Mr. Wheeler was hospitalized for pneumonia, being attended by E.M.

When it was time for Mr. Wheeler to be discharged from the hospital and convalesce, he had no one to take care of him. E.M. and his wife brought George into their home, where he recovered, and continued to live for a number of years until he passed away from old age in their home. George was much beloved by the family; the family called him “Cousin George”. Cousin George helped Mrs. Kersten with her busy household while E.M. was working around the clock in his busy medical practice. Cousin George helped to teach the children their A-B-C’s, how count and how to read. Mr. Wheeler is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge.

During the Great Depression, E.M. was a member of the board of directors of a bank that went bankrupt; in those days, directors had to use their own money to reimburse depositors who had lost their money due to a bank closure. E.M. had to cash in any assets he had in order to pay the depositors. He was allowed to keep his home. This caused E.M.’s family to lose a substantial amount of their savings.

Despite these lean years, Fort Dodge continued to grow. In February, 1932, Lutheran Hospital opened. E.M. was vice-president of the hospital at that time. Fort Dodge was the retail, medical, social, transportation and communications center of the region, and as such, was the city that provided services for the surrounding rural communities and farm families. It was a great asset for the region to have medical services available for the population.

After the Depression, E.M. borrowed against his life insurance to purchase farmland in Webster County. He believed that having an investment in something as tangible as land, which would produce food, would be something that would always be able to provide for his family.

Some of E.M.’s brothers were also physicians, and practiced in the Los Angeles area. E.M. and Anne visited the area to see if they wanted to move there. They decided not to do so, because they believed raising children in the Midwest with Midwestern values would be more beneficial in the long run.

E.M.’s medical practice was located in the Carver Building until 1952, when he and Dr. J.J. Weyer co-founded the Kersten Clinic, located at 1235 5th Avenue South. The Clinic was built by Woodruff-Evans Construction. The Kersten Clinic, a multi-specialty clinic, was one of the few clinics in northwest Iowa at the time, and drew patients from a large region. It also had a full pharmacy on site, making it very convenient for patients to obtain their medications immediately.

Dr. Kersten had three sons who also practiced medicine with him in the Kersten Clinic: Paul Kersten (psychiatrist), Herb Kersten (surgeon) and John Kersten (internal medicine). Don Kersten (the 4th son), was an attorney in Fort Dodge, and daughter Frances Anne graduated from the University of Iowa and married a U of Iowa grad who was an executive in the plastics industry. Herb met his wife, Cece Burke, who was E.M.’s nurse at the Kersten Clinic. All four sons lived in Fort Dodge and raised their families there. Daughter Frances Anne and her family lived in Pittsburgh and later in Chicago.

Paul, Herb and John served in the medical corps in WWII; Paul Kersten served at the Army Naval Hospital in Fort Ord, California, during WWII. Herb was the commanding officer of the last MASH unit in the Pacific Theatre and then worked at a 1,000 bed hospital in Osaka, Japan. He was also a conservationist – and developed acres of native prairieland in the Fort Dodge area. John Kersten also served in Japan in a hospital that had Japanese prisoners. One of his most notorious prisoners was war lord General Hideki Tojo. Tojo was later sentenced to death for war crimes committed on prisoners and civilians during WWII. Following his retirement from the Kersten Clinic, John accepted the position for Chief of Medicine at the King Khalid Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. John’s son Bob and his wife were practicing physicians at this hospital in ophthalmology and radiology respectively. Son Don served in Army Intelligence during the Korean War, and practiced law in Fort Dodge following the war. He was also an amateur hot air balloonist – and travelled the world for balloon exhibitions.

The Kersten Clinic served as the largest clinic in the northwest Iowa and provided a full range of medical services to its patients. Soon after it opened, there were 21 physicians and 42 staff members at the clinic. The Kersten Clinic was at the 5th Avenue South location until 1977, when a new Kersten Clinic was built adjacent to what was then Trinity Regional Hospital (formerly Lutheran Hospital and now UnityPoint). The clinic is now known as UnityPoint Clinic.

E.M. was a strong believer in discipline, hard work and had very high standards for himself, his family and employees. He was active in medical organizations in Iowa, serving as an officer and also as an advocate for quality care for patients. He was a member of the American College of Surgeons (his son, Herb, wore the same cap and gown his father had worn when he was admitted many years later). E.M. firmly believed in constant improvement – both in his personal life and in the medical care he provided to patients. He regularly participated in state of the art medical training and educational classes, both in Iowa and throughout the nation.

Dr. Kersten was active in his community. He was the vice president of Lutheran Hospital when it opened in 1932. At that time, there were 31 physicians practicing at the hospital. He served as district counselor of the Iowa State Medical Society, was president of the Iowa Clinical Surgical Society and was also on the commission to vote for the repeal of Prohibition in 1931.

E.M. and his wife founded the Kersten Publishing Company and The Daily Record in the 1950’s, companies that compiled medical records for physicians. His wife, Anne, was one of the main salespersons. Initially, she was hesitant to work in sales of this enterprise. In order to address her lack of confidence, Dr. Kersten scheduled appointments for Anne to meet with some of his physician friends in Iowa to tell them about this new product, but, unbeknownst to her, asked them to be sure to help her “make the sale”. After three of these successful visits, Anne was comfortable in her abilities and successfully managed this business for a number of years.

Anne was a very strong figure in the family dynamics; she had weekly lunches with her grown sons until she died in 1979. As her children had their own families in Fort Dodge (18 of her 19 grandchildren grew up in Fort Dodge and graduated from either Fort Dodge Senior High or St. Edmond’s), she would host weekly dinners with the cousins (grouped according to age) and also her famous “Watermelon Parties” – when she would call her daughters-in-law and tell them she had a fresh watermelon, and invite all the grandchildren to her house for watermelon. She believed in the strength of family connections and did her best to build strong family bonds between the aunts, uncles and cousins.

Dr. Kersten had many interests in addition to medicine. Both he and his wife were avid horseback riders; E.M. was part of a polo team that competed regularly. He and his sons constructed a sailboat in their garage and competed in sailboat races on Lake Michigan. He required that his children work – at home and on farms in the area. It was through this work that his sons learned construction, farming practices, electricity and carpentry. His children were also avid Ham Radio operators, and used their ham radio to communicate with the family while they were in college. Sons Paul, Herb and Don were also pilots; Paul Kersten would fly to different locations in Iowa to care for his psychiatric patients. He was also on staff at the State Psychiatric Hospital in Cherokee, where he saw patients on a weekly basis.

In 1957, Dr. Kersten was diagnosed with heart disease. He travelled to Houston, Texas to have Dr. Michael DeBakey, a world renowned heart surgeon, perform vascular surgery. He survived the surgery, but died a few days later due to cardiac complications at the age of 65 (Dr. Kersten's obituary).

The Kersten Family was part of the Kersten Clinic until 1990, when Herb Kersten retired.

Haire, John and Family

The John Haire Family

Growing from a fledgling village to a bustling and prosperous city in Iowa, Fort Dodge has benefited greatly from so many entrepreneurs and business leaders since its beginnings in the mid-1850s. The John Haire family is a prime example. For over 130 years and three generations, the John Haire family of successful entrepreneurs, businessmen and community leaders made very significant contributions to the economic and civic vitality of their community of Fort Dodge . Their businesses were instrumental in the retail and construction sectors during the years when Fort Dodge experienced tremendous growth and expansion.

John Haire, I


John Haire came to America from Ireland as a young man. He first lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked in the dry goods business. He then moved to Fort Dodge in 1856, where he quickly became a leader in the community. He was a member of the school board, was elected auditor of Webster County in 1879 and was also elected clerk of the district court. He contributed financially to the construction of Corpus Christi Catholic Church around 1879/1880. John Haire opened one of the first mercantile establishments in Fort Dodge in 1856. He started a grocery store, which he ran for several years, later going into the clothing business. As a successful merchant, he had a reputation of being very honest and trustworthy. He and his wife, Mary, had fifteen children, four of whom died in infancy and one in early childhood.

Some of his children became clerks in businesses John Haire I owned: Haire Clothing Company, Sacket & Haire Drug Company. Other children were successful in their own business enterprises. Mary Haire, John I’s wife, was known as a devoted wife and mother, always finding time to aid and assist those in sickness and distress.

John Haire, Sr


John Haire, Sr. was born on November 12, 1877 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. His parents (John Haire I and Mary Haire) were early settlers in the Fort Dodge area. John Haire Sr. graduated from Corpus Christi Elementary School, Fort Dodge Senior High School and then attended Des Moines Pharmacy College. As a registered pharmacist, he joined his brother W.W. Haire and Robert Sackett in operating the Sackett and Haire Drug Store near the City Square in Fort Dodge.

Mr. Haire was very active in the business community in Fort Dodge, and throughout Iowa. In 1909, he founded the Fort Dodge Lumber Company, which he owned and managed for 43 years. That business was later sold to Joyce Lumber Company. Mr. Haire served on the boards of directors of The State Bank, The Fort Dodge Serum Company (later to become Fort Dodge Labs), Fort Dodge Telephone Company and the Marso & Rodenborn Manufacturing Company. He also founded the Fort Dodge Wholesale Distributing Company and owned lumber yards in Clare and Barnum. He was a long time member of the Rotary Club and was also a member of the Elks Lodge

Mr. Haire married Margaret Mason of Fort Dodge in 1907. Margaret Mason Haire was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George W. Mason one of Fort Dodge's early business leaders and founder of the Mason and O'Connell Lumber Company which later became the Fort Dodge Lumber Company. George W. Mason also developed commercial property on central avenue in downtown Fort Dodge. Margaret Mason Haire was a graduate of Fort Dodge High School and Smith College. She was involved in many community projects including teaching in the Fort Dodge School System and serving on the School Board. She also volunteered for the Red Cross and the Drama League for Fort Dodge. She handled her own business affairs including farm land. Mr. and Mrs. John Haire, Sr. had three sons George Mason Haire, John Haire, Jr. and Mason Haire.

John Haire, Jr.


John Haire, Jr., was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa to John Haire Sr. and Margaret Mason Haire.

He graduated from St. Thomas Academy (high school), Mendota Heights, MN and then went on to graduate from the Culver Summer Naval School in Culver, Indiana. John Haire Jr. was also a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. Following college, he worked in the Bahamas and Haiti for several years before returning to Fort Dodge where he worked with his father at the Fort Dodge Lumber Company.

The Haire Family owned and operated the Fort Dodge Lumber Company for many years. It was located just west of the former Carnegie Library on 1st Avenue South.

John Haire Jr. married his wife, Betty Hagerman in 1941 at Corpus Christi Church (a church his grandfather had provided financial support for during its construction in the 1870’s). Betty Haire, who was born in Canada, moved to Fort Dodge when her father was an executive with the Tobin Meat Packing plant. She graduated from Fort Dodge High School. Following their marriage, Betty and John moved to California, where John joined the U.S. Immigration Service. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, John completed officer candidate school and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy, where he worked for the office of Naval Intelligence.

After WWII, John and Betty returned to Fort Dodge to work in the lumber business. He formed the George Mason Land Company and was actively involved in that business for the rest of his life. He was a trustee of the Iowa Lumber and Building Materials Dealers, a district representative of the Iowa Retail Lumbermen’s Association and vice-president of Iowa Lumber and Material Dealers Association.

John and Betty relocated to Vero Beach, Florida, but always maintained and treasured their Iowa roots and passion for Iowa farmland. The Haire Family continued to support projects in Fort Dodge, including St. Edmond Catholic High School, UnityPoint Cancer Center and the Fort Dodge Public Library. John Haire, Jr. and family were also members of Corpus Christi Church.

George Mason Haire

1909 - 1979

George Mason Haire, son of John Haire, Sr. and Margaret Mason Haire, lived in Fort Dodge, went to Scared Heart and Corpus Christi grade schools and graduated from Fort Dodge High School. He then attended Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin. George married Georganne Sittig who was also from Fort Dodge. George was active in the community and jointly owned and worked with John Haire, Jr. at the Fort Dodge Lumber Company. George was the first baby born at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Fort Dodge (Mercy Hospital later merged with Lutheran Hospital and become Bethesda Hospital and now is called Unity Point Hospital). He served on the Board of Mercy Hospital; Vice President of Home Federal Saving and Loan Association which later merged with First Federal Savings and Loan where he was a Director, also Director of the State Bank, member of the Elks Club, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Corpus Christi Church.

Mason Haire


Mason Haire, the youngest son of John Haire, Sr. and Margaret Mason Haire, was raised in Fort Dodge, moved away from Fort Dodge after attending Fort Dodge High School then graduated from Swarthmore College and received masters and doctorate degrees from Harvard. He taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard and University of California Berkeley. Mason was a prolific author and consulted with countries and companies around the world in the field of industrial psychology.


*Fort Dodge Messenger, 11/11/1904

*The Family of John Haire I

Goodrich, Walter

Walter Goodrich


Walter Goodrich and his wife Minerva and their seven sons where pioneers who traversed their way across the uncharted wilderness of the Des Moines valley and arrived in Lehigh in October of 1855. Goodrich was a jack of all trades and a man of exceptional ability along mechanical lines, and during his early residence here followed various occupations. As a cabinet maker and carpenter, Goodrich manufactured furniture, "looms, spinning wheels and wagons and built houses for the early settlers. As a blacksmith he made their tools, sharpened their plows and shod their horses and oxen ; and as a cooper he made tubs and barrels in his shop. Walter Goodrich also manufactured coffins and caskets and did a general undertaking business. He did some dentistry, and although he did not practice medicine he doctored his neighbors with simple remedies when they were ill.

From the age of twenty-one, Walter Goodrich was also a preacher and untiring worker in the Methodist Episcopal church, and attended to the spiritual wants of the people as well as their physical necessities. He christened the babies and as they grew up taught them to live; he married them when they were grown ; and when death came he preached their funeral sermons and comforted the mourning friends. His life seemed entirely devoted to others. He took considerable interest in public affairs, and at one time served as a member of the county board of supervisors. After a useful and well-spent life, Walter Goodrich passed away quietly on July 7, 1901.


*The Biographical Record of Webster County

Beeh, Edward F.

Dr. Edward F. Beeh - Surgeon

1888 - 1962

Edward F. Beeh is a native Iowan who has become a distinguished surgeon, and in that field his name is held in very high respect in Fort Dodge, and that section of the state. Doctor Beeh was born in Belle Plaine, Iowa, on October 15, 1888. His parents, Henry and Frances (Nowotny) Beeh, were also natives of Iowa, and both lived in Belle Plaine.

Doctor Beeh's grandfather, Henry C. Beeh, was a German that live about ten miles from the German frontier. He immigrated to America by board in the 1850’s and settled in Iowa. In Germany and Bohemia neither family had owned a great deal of land or other possessions, and the trip across the ocean required most of the money that he had, so he started in Iowa, like most immigrants, as poor as the poorest of the pioneers who came to this side of the Mississippi River in search of new homes and new opportunities. Henry Beeh was thrifty and industrious, ended up owning large farms before the first generation had passed from the scene of the living.

Dr. Edward F. Beeh was reared on a farm, learned its routine of work while attending school and in 1908 graduated from the Belle Plaine High School. From there he entered the University of Iowa, at Iowa City, took his Bachelor of Science degree in 1912, doing his pre-medical work while there, and in 1914 he was graduated with his medical degree from Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago. He spent his internship in a hospital in Denver, Colorado, and there came under the direction of the eminent surgeon Dr. Leonard Freeman.

Dr. Edward Beeh spent one year in the war service, being stationed at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and later at Camp Lee, Petersburg, Virginia, where he was on the Base Hospital staff. He gave his professional care to a great many of the returned veterans from overseas. He was discharged, with the rank of first lieutenant, March 1, 1919.

Doctor Beeh, in 1919, then located at Fort Dodge, and practically all of his time has been taken up with his practice as a surgeon. He is on the surgical staff of Mercy Hospital in Fort Dodge. Dr. Beeh was a member of the Webster County, Iowa State and American Medical Associations, the Austin Flint Surgical Society and was a charter member of the International Surgical Assembly.

Doctor Beeh married, in 1919, Miss Ann Barrett. She was born at Macomb, Illinois, was educated in Illinois schools and colleges and was teaching at Iowa City when she and Doctor Beeh married. They had one son, Edward F., Jr., born February 15, 1928. Doctor Beeh was a member of the Corpus Christi Catholic Church of Fort Dodge, a member of the Knights of Columbus, B. P. O. Elks, Rotary Club of Fort Dodge and in politics voted independently. Dr. Beeh passed away in 1962 and is buried in the Corpus Christi Cemetery in Fort Dodge.


A Narrative History of the People of Iowa…by Edgar Rubey Harlan , Curator of the

Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa Volume IV THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL

SOCIETY, Inc. Chicago and New York. 1931

McCreight, Dr. Arthur

Dr. Arthur Henry McCreight

1866- Unknown

Dr. Arthur Henry McCreight was born and reared in Illinois, and soon after graduating from Rush Medical College of Chicago came to Fort Dodge. A one of the early physicians of Fort Dodge, Dr. McCreight had a very successful career in his profession, standing high among his professional brethren in the various organizations and as a citizen who proved his usefulness and his capacity for service in many ways.

Doctor McCreight was born on a farm in Mercer County, Illinois, July 25, 1866, a son of John Willis and Rebecca McCreight. Arthur Henry McCreight was an Illinois farm boy, attended district schools and the academy at Aledo and prepared for work as an educator in the Illinois Normal University at Normal. He was a teacher for six years, and teaching gave him the means to complete his medical education. In 1897 he was graduated from Rush Medical College in Chicago, and began practice in Fort Dodge. He was a high respected physician in general medicine and surgery. He also enjoyed a very high reputation for his skill in obstetrics. Dr. McCreight was a member of the Webster County, Iowa State and American Medical Associations. During the World War I he enlisted and was commissioned a captain and was on duty at the Base Hospital at Camp Dodge until honorably discharged on March 1, 1919. For three terms Doctor McCreight served as coroner for Webster County.

Dr. McCreight married Margaret Cromwell from Dows, Iowa, in November, 1899. Mrs. McCreight died in 1920. In 1926 Doctor McCreight married Mrs. Mabel S. Johnston, of Webster County. They had two children, a son and a daughter. The daughter, Rachel, became the wife of James I. Dolliver, one of Fort Dodge's prominent attorneys. Doctor McCreight was a trustees of the Congregational Church, was a York Rite Mason, and was a member of the Rotary Club.


*A Narrative History of The People of Iowa, 1931

Pearsons, George R.

George R. Pearsons

1830 -19O6

George R. Pearsons, was one of the best known pioneers in the State. The rugged pioneer capitalist and landowner, who was mayor of Fort Dodge during the years 1873, 1889 and 1890, was born in Bradford, Vermont, August 7, 1830, and died in Fort Dodge on July 14, 1906. On his mother's side he was descended from the Putnam family of Revolutionary fame. George Pearson’s daughter, Louise, married Jonathon P. Dolliver (a renowned Fort Dodge attorney and U.S. Congressman). Pearson’s brother, Dr. D.K. Pearsons, was a well-known Chicago philanthropist.

The early life of Mr. Pearsons can be no better told than in his own words, spoken at an "old home week" celebration at Bradford, August 15, 1901. "Forty-nine years ago March 20, next," he said, I left Bradford, a boy of twelve years of age. I had up to that time received certain rudiments in school life, and various whippings from my teacher, Maria Baker. Afterwards attended school until I was seventeen years of age, when my father sent me to an academy, which I made use of to the best of my ability. The ninth week the teacher told me I must make a speech at the close of the term. I told him that being shot was a much easier road for me. I graduated at the close of the eleventh week. As the Dutchman says, I runned away.' That closed my school life. Since then I have spent half my life on the western frontier, three years of this among the Indians. Should you ask me to talk about Indians, my tongue would run like a buzz-saw. Were I talking to an audience in the west, words would come to me in the western dialect you bet."

At the age of twenty-five, Mr. Pearsons was in the employ of the Vermont Central at Chatsworth. Illinois, selling their lands. In 1868 he came to Fort Dodge, where he resided until his death. In 1885 he was appointed Indian inspector, serving three years. His work in that department was most efficient, winning him praise from both the Department of the Interior and also from the

Indians. Abuses which had existed for years were reformed, and the system of Indian schools was entirely reorganized. Besides his service to Fort Dodge as mayor, he was for many years a member of the school board.

The railroad experience gained in the east proved valuable to Mr. Pearsons in the west. He was superintendent and had entire charge of the construction work on the Fort Dodge & Fort Ridgley Railroad. Pearsons, who had personal charge of the work, was a giant in strength and he threw his whole reserve force of energy and power into the work with a determination born of desperation. It was told of him that he used to start with a rail in each hand on the run up the grade, so anxious was he to reach the county line of Humboldt and have the road completed before the expiration of the time limit for doing the work. The wet weather and other drawbacks experienced, which necessitated great exposure, soon told on this man of herculean strength, and in time brought him home to a sick bed. Despite illness and what seemed to be all odds, and thanks to his unflagging energy, George Pearsons laid the last rails on the snow that completed the road a few hours ahead of time.

Besides his work on the Fort Ridgley road, he was interested in the work of grading the Iowa Pacific, a line to be built from Fort Dodge to Belmond.

Probably the work which brought Mr. Pearsons the most in the public eye was the draining of Owl Lake in Humboldt county. By this work, 2,500 acres of swamp land were made valuable farming lands. To do this it was necessary to construct a ditch nine miles long, at a cost of $6,000.

In politics Mr. Pearsons was independent. He was a strong supporter of Mr. Cleveland, and an equally strong enthusiast for President McKinley.

No man ever wrote or spoke his autobiography in a more truthful way than did Mr. Pearsons in his everyday speeches. In response to the question whether he knew a person, his invariable reply was, "Know him, why yes; I know everybody, and everybody knows me." A remark practically true.


*Iowa GenWeb Project – Webster County History - The Mayors of Fort Dodge

*The History of Fort Dodge and Webster County…. by H.M. Pratt

*The Annals of Iowa – Volume 6, Number 7…. State Historical Society of Iowa

Pomeroy, Charles

Charles Pomeroy – U.S. Congressman

1825 - 1891

Charles Pomeroy was born in Meriden, New Haven County, Connecticut, September 3, 1825. He received an academic education and studied law. He was a lawyer in practice when he moved to Iowa in 1855, settling in Boone County where he practiced law and engaged in agricultural pursuits.

An early Republican, in 1860 he was one of the presidential electors for Abraham Lincoln. In 1861, he moved to Fort Dodge and served as receiver of the United States land office in Fort Dodge from 1861 to 1869 when he resigned to serve in Congress. In 1869, he ran for congress and was elected as a Republican to the Forty-first Congress, serving until 1871. The Sixth District then encompassed the northwestern third of the state, extending from the Missouri River as far east as Waterloo and from the Minnesota state line as far south as Marshalltown.

In 1870, he was an unsuccessful candidate for re-nomination, losing to Jackson Orr. Following his term in congress, Pomeroy served as a claim agent in Washington D.C. until his death on February 11, 1891. Congressman Pomeroy was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Fort Dodge.

The small town of Pomeroy, Iowa, in Calhoun County, Iowa, was named after Congressman Charles Pomeroy.

Roberts, George E.

George E. Roberts – direct of the U.S. Mint

1857 – 1948

George E. Roberts was born Colesburg, Iowa, on August 19, 1857. He grew up in Fort Dodge and graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High. Ambitious to continue his studies at the State University of Iowa, his family finances would not permit him to do so, however, as the ambitious young man that he was, Roberts entered a printing office and began his career at an early age. As was said about him, "If a young man had brains and a desire to learn, a newspaper office was a veritable university, grounding one in English, history, economics—practically everything that was taught in college in the days of which we are writing.”

Roberts was recognized as a strong, handsome, and distinguished man who enjoyed an accomplished life of diversity, achievement and respect. He was a journalist, the owner of the Messenger newspaper, a renowned economist, a banker, an author and a director of the U.S. Mint.

George Roberts's early introduction to the newspaper business set him on a course that would shape the rest of his life. At the age of 16, Roberts began working as a printer's apprentice at the Fort Dodge Times; later he worked at the Fort Dodge Messenger as well. He briefly served as the city editor of the Sioux City Journal. In 1878 he purchased the Messenger and became the paper's editor. In 1902 he and a partner purchased two Des Moines-based papers, the Iowa State Register and the Des Moines Leader, which they merged into the large and influential Des Moines Register and Leader. Because of his prominence in the state as an editor and within the state Republican Party, in 1883 he was elected State Printer of Iowa, a position he held until 1889. In 1902 he drafted the Iowa Republican Party's position on tariffs, which criticized protectionism and instead advocated a "policy of reciprocity" among nations.

George Roberts became an influential member of his party. He was consulted by its leaders and then became a leader. He helped to write its platform and shape its policies. Even though Roberts was a staunch fiscal conservative, he was absolutely a non-partisan on many of his views. He criticized the financial policies of the Republican administrations, following the war, as severely as he has criticized the financial policies of the New Deal.

As a newspaper editor, Roberts developed an interest and expertise in economic and monetary policy, which he addressed in numerous editorials published in the Messenger. Those newspaper columns were the beginning of what would be a lifetime of writing and lecturing on economic matters of national and international importance. In 1894 he published Coin at School in Finance, a rebuttal to Coin's Financial School, in which its author, William H. Harvey, advocated a free silver position.

Roberts’ little book entitled "Coin at School in Finance" was written in the language of the kindergarten— crudely but effectively illustrated. The scene was a county schoolhouse. Harvey was seated beside the teacher's desk on a dunce block, with a dunce cap on his head. The teacher was Uncle Sam. The book written in simple terms about economics and the fallacies of government economic policy specifically regarding the government’s lack of an ideal system of currency in the 1890s. The widespread circulation of this little book may have been due to the fact that it was written so clearly and so simply that a child could understand it. Roberts's nationally distributed publication was an important and timely contribution to the debate about free silver, which was central to the presidential campaign of 1896 and the defeat of William Jennings Bryan. Roberts's other publications, including Money, Wages and Prices (1895) and Iowa and the Silver Question (1896), also brought him national attention.

In 1898 Secretary of the Treasury Lyman J. Gage recommended to President McKinley that he name Roberts director of the U.S. Mint. President Theodore Roosevelt reappointed Roberts to the Mint in 1903, and he served in that capacity until July 1907. Roberts served a third term as director of the Mint when he was appointed by President William Howard Taft in 1910. During Roberts's tenure, the Denver Mint was established, numerous technical innovations were introduced to enhance the efficiency of the manufacturing process, and the U.S. Mint issued the famous Buffalo nickel, designed by sculptor James Earle Fraser.

George Roberts also had a long and distinguished banking career. From 1907 to 1910 (between his second and third terms as director of the Mint), he was president of the Commercial National Bank in Chicago. Out of respect for his knowledge as an economist, George Roberts was invited to become the advisor to the president of the National City Bank of New York which was the largest bank in the United States. A few years later in 1919 he was made vice president and the bank's top economist. From 1931 to the time of his death he was the institution's economic adviser. One of his most important contributions at the National City Bank was transforming the company's small investment market circular into a widely read and influential investment bulletin, the Monthly Economic Letter. Serving as its editor from 1914 to 1940, Roberts wrote about world events, economic affairs, and national and international finances. The Monthly Economic Letter had a circulation of 150,000 at the time of his death, and, according to the New York Times 's financial editor, was second only to the Economist as an authority on financial matters.

Mr. Roberts' fame is not only national but international. He lectured widely on topics such as price controls, labor relations, agricultural policy and the national debt. He spoke before innumerable business associations, economic clubs and at many colleges and universities. He also played a role in international monetary matters. In 1929 he headed a delegation of financers who traveled to Panama to investigate that country's financial situation. From 1930 to 1932, he was a member of the Gold Delegation of the Financial Committee of the League of Nations; he was one of a distinguished body of experts who were called upon in consultation by the Royal Commission on Indian currency and finance.

In the last forty years of his life, George Roberts was recognized as a highly respected economist. Noting that economics is not an exact science, Roberts advocated foundation economic laws like the law of diminishing returns and the law of supply and demand, which can never be suspended or repealed except by tyrannical fiat. George Roberts espoused sound doctrine and economic theory for the period of his time even though his advice often when unheeded by politicians and government leaders.

Roberts’ personal and very basic philosophy of economics is best demonstrated by the following text abstracted from one of his well-known articles on economic law:

The highest state of prosperity results from a balanced state of industry. We know that in order to obtain the best results in an individual industry all departments of the industry must be in balanced relations to each other, and so there is a normal equilibrium throughout industry which must be maintained in order to have prosperity. All business in the last analysis is simply an exchange of goods and services, and this being true all branches of industry must be so related that the products of every industry will be absorbed and consumed by the people in the other industries. This means that their interests, instead of being antagonistic, are necessarily interlocked and dependent upon each other. An injury to one affects them all….It is not only unfair but unworkable, for the economic law does not permit it. If the wage-earners could pick their gains out of the sky they might enjoy them, but when they come out of other sections of the population the loss of purchasing power by the latter inevitably forces wage-earners out of employment, as witnessed in the last two years. It has upset the "sound, fair balance" in the industrial system…. No upward trend can take place unless all go up. No permanency of any trend can be guaranteed, unless we have sound and fair balance between all the units of our economic body….The whole situation affords another demonstration that the basis of sound economics is the moral law. In truth, the economic law and the moral law are

one and the same.”

Roberts married Georgena Kirkup on November 10, 1885, and they had two sons and a daughter.

Even though George Roberts spent that forty years of his life on the east coast, he always claimed that he still loved Iowa and thinks of Iowa as his home. George E. Roberts died at his home in Larchmont, New York, on June 6, 1948, at the age of 90.


*Mohr, Paula A. "Roberts, George Evan" The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. University of Iowa Press, 2009. Web. 13 August 2019

*The Annals of Iowa – Volume 29 | Number 6 (Fall 1948)…. State Historical Society of Iowa

Note: Roberts's papers are at the State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City. Following his death, excerpts of his writings from the Monthly Economic Letter were published by the National City Bank of New York in a pamphlet titled "In Memory of George E. Roberts, 1857–1948." The New York Times published an obituary, 6/8/1948, and a two-part tribute summarizing his legacy and contributions titled "Apostle of Common Sense," 6/14/1948 and 6/21/1948.

Contributor: Paula A. Mohr

Olney, Dr. Stephen B.

Stephen B. Olney, M.D. – Fort Dodge’s First Doctor
1821 - 1891

Stephan B. Olney was born October 13, 1821, in Saratoga county, New York, and traced his ancestry back through many generations to an early period in American history, when the Olney family was founded in the new world. Thomas Olney and his son and namesake were partners of Roger Williams in the proprietorship of the settlement of Rhode Island. Stephan B. Olney is of the eighth generation from Thomas Olney, Sr. The Olney settlement in New York is also on historic grounds, for the homestead upon which the Doctor was born was a part of the Saratoga battlefield, where the British overwhelmed by the American forces under General Gates.

In 1833, Stephan B. Olney moved with his family to Wood County, Ohio, and settled in the midst of a forest, where Stephan Olney for the first time had practical knowledge of the experiences of frontier life. It was there that he was raised to the age of eighteen years at which time he became a student in Miami College in Ohio. At the age of twenty-one, Olney took up the study of medicine under the direction of Dr. Burritt, who resided in what is now Grand Rapids, Ohio, and later Olney was graduated from the regular school of medicine in the Cleveland Medical College, with the class of 1847. In 1865, however, he abandoned that system of treating diseases and adopted the system of homeopathy. He became a very successful practitioner of the latter school, his broad knowledge and his sympathy making him most capable in his efforts to minister to the needs of suffering patients.

For four or five years after his graduation from medical school, Dr. Olney practiced in Ohio. In 1855, Dr. Olney moved to the Des Moines River valley, becoming a resident of Fort Dodge on the 1st of April. Dr. Olney was the first doctor to serve the pioneer village of Fort Dodge. His practice was established in a modest office where he first hung his professional shingle in Fort Dodge.

Honoring his call to duty to engage in the Civil War, in September, 1862, Dr. Olney became surgeon of the Thirty-second Iowa Infantry, and served in that capacity until January 1865. He was compelled to resign on account of his health, but through almost three years he carried aid to the sick and wounded soldiers, many of whom praised his memory and hold him in the highest esteem.

Dr. Stephan Olney was a highly respected physician of Webster County and probably no man within its boundaries was more widely known or held in higher regard or more justly merited the universal respect and confidence of those who knew him or were served by him. The hardships of a frontier doctor’s life were many. An occasional office patient would come his way, but as a frontier physician, he often traveled to the homes of his patients to address their many illnesses and injuries. During his thirty years of service, Dr. Olney traveled many miles up and down the valleys and over the bluffs under challenging conditions and all kinds of weather to serve the ill and the injured. Traveling on horseback or by a horse-drawn wagon, Dr. Olney had to face the winter’s storms and endure the heat of summer, but never did he hesitate to respond to a call of duty. For many years he ministered to the sick and suffering, using his professional knowledge for the aid of his fellow men, and for all his years, enjoyed a well-earned respect amid friends who held him in the highest esteem and regard.

Dr. Olney’s political views in early life were that of the Whig party, and on the dissolution of that party he joined the ranks of the new Republican party, which he ever afterward strongly endorsed. Socially he was connected with the Masonic order, belonging to lodge, chapter and commandery, and he exemplified in his life its beneficial and fraternal principles. On account of his educational qualifications he was made the first superintendent of schools in Webster county, but the demands made upon him for his professional services would not permit him to remain long in that capacity. He also served in other public positions, and in every office which he was called upon to fill he discharged his duties with marked fidelity, and he certainly occupied a prominent position in public esteem.

Dr. Olney married and Miss Stella Badger, of Wood County, Ohio, in 1849, and to them were born five children: Floyd; Edith; Charles; Edward; and Mary Elizabeth. His son Floyd also became a physician and joined him in his medical practice.

Olney’s medical practice flourished in Fort Dodge until 1890. Approaching the age of 70 and with over three decades of service to his fellow man, Dr. Olney retired from his practice of medicine. Suffering from ill health, Dr. Olney moved back east to Hammonton, New Jersey, in 1890. On March 31, 1891, he died from an attack of chronic peritonitis, due to disease contracted while in the service during the Civil War.

Thus we have briefly sketched the life and services of one of Webster County’s oldest and most esteemed citizens, whose life was most largely given to the service of his fellow man. Judged by what Dr. Olney did for so many, he was highly regarded as a man of great integrity and ability. It is not too much to say of him that no man stood higher in the estimation of the community or will live longer in the affections of the people than Dr. Stephen B. Olney.

*The Biographical Record of Webster County

Heman, Sumner

Sumner Heman


Sumner Heman, a Fort Dodge artist and art teacher, was self-taught. His pen and ink drawings were inspired by a boyhood trip to Minnesota, where he was inspired lakes, loons and nature. He observed what other artists were doing and learned to create texture to help capture an America that was disappearing – an old railroad depot, farms, Indians, airplanes, design, people and homesteads. He would often begin with a photograph and expand his art by depicting what he believed the subject was feeling in his artwork.

One of Heman’s most recognizable works of art is the highly identifiable public art mural painted on the wall on Central Avenue in downtown Fort Dodge depicting a scene of old Fort Dodge.

Heman was also a draftsman and a carpenter, creating furniture for his own use; he also worked with Indian beading and costumes. Heman received the 1990 “Friend of Education” award, presented by the Iowa State Education Association. He had been an artist in residence in the Fort Dodge Schools, giving demonstrations and organizing art fairs. Copies of his art were published in various art magazines. He also created letterheads for companies as well as medallions for various Iowa counties Centennial celebrations. Although he worked in various mediums, his favorite was preserving art on canvas. He often said that he didn’t create his art to sell, but to preserve Iowa scenes from yesteryear.


*Des Moines Register

Pratt, Harlow M.

Harlow Munson Pratt – Attorney, Historical Curator

1876 – Unknown

Harlow Munson Pratt was born in Otho township, Webster county, Iowa, October 21, 1876. He moved with his parents to Clinton County, Iowa. At the age of 10, Harlow and his parents to Webster County in 1886 where his father engaged in farming. Here, Harlow, spent most of his boyhood, farming with his father. His early education was received in the village school at Charlotte, in Webster County, and later in the "Old Number One" school of Otho township. Then, in the winter of 1893, Pratt attended Tobin College, and again in 1894, helping on the farm during the summer. In the fall of 1896, he entered Tobin College and graduated from the normal department with the class of 1897. For two years he taught school, first in the Hudson school in Otho township, and then in the Flaherty school in Douglas township.

In 1899, Pratt entered the University of Iowa. Here he spent six years, graduating from both the college of liberal arts and the college of law. When at the university he became interested in newspaper work, and held both the position of editor and manager of the Daily lowan. He was also city editor of the Iowa Citizen for one year.

On January 1, 1902, he was married to Miss Margaret Allie Tobin, daughter of the late Professor T. Tobin. founder of Tobin College. Margaret graduated from Tobin College and at different times was a teacher both in Tobin College and the Fort Dodge public schools. During the year 1901, she entered the University of Iowa, becoming a member of the same class as Mr. Pratt. Together they graduated in 1903, and while Mr. Pratt studied law, Mrs. Pratt took up graduate work, receiving a Master's degree in 1905, the same year that Mr. Pratt received his degree from the college of law. In the fall of 1905 they became residents of the city of Fort Dodge, and Mr. Pratt began the practice of law and he served his community as an attorney with distinction.

Harlow Pratt also served as curator for the Webster County Historical Society and he authored the book: The History of Fort Dodge and Webster County Iowa.

Both he and Mrs. Pratt have identified themselves with the life of the city, and are members of a number of clubs and fraternal societies. For the past five years Mr. Pratt has held the office of secretary of the Fort Dodge Commercial Club. Both he and Mrs. Pratt were members of the Congregational Church.

Welliver, Judson C.

Judson Churchill Welliver


Judson Churchill Welliver was born at Aledo, Illinois, on August 13, 1870. He was educated at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. He married Jane Hutchins, daughter of Dr. E. R. Hutchins of Des Moines and they had two daughters and two sons. Judson Welliver grew up in Fort Dodge and graduated from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Welliver’s entire life was devoted to newspaper work and publicity. He commenced with the Fort Dodge Messenger, was with the Sioux City Journal and also associated with the Sioux City Tribune and the Des Moines Leader. By 1909, Welliver had earned a reputation as one of the most able journalists in the country. After leaving Iowa, Welliver took a position with the Washington, D. C. Times. From 1917 until 1918, he managed London correspondence and European news for the New York Sun.

His literary talents opened the door for him and he became politically connected. While in Washington D.C.,, Welliver was employed by President Theodore Roosevelt and was sent to Europe to report on the development of waterway and railroad systems of Europe and Great Britain.

Mr. Welliver was also in close and confidential relations with Presidents Harding and Coolidge. Welliver handled publicity for President Harding during his 1920 presidential campaign, and began working as a "literary clerk" to President Harding on March 4, 1921. Welliver was regarded as the first presidential speechwriter.

On November 1, 1925, Welliver left his speech-writing position at the White House under the President Calvin Coolidge and accepted a position at the American Petroleum Institute. Later he resigned from the American Petroleum job in 1927, and went on to become editor of the Washington Herald in 1928. He was also assistant to the president of the Pullman Company from 1928 to 1931, and in his later years, was in charge of publicity for the Sun Oil Company.

Judson Welliver was an unusually versatile and brilliant newspaper writer, whether in the news field or on editorial direction. He was in Sioux City at the time of its great expansion and temporary collapse from 1890 on, and came to the capital city of Iowa to take a hand in the reform movement of 1900. He later that had great influence in securing for Iowa better government. As a young reporter he was most prolific and of untiring energy. In his later years, in Des Moines and in the east, he was always in the forefront of every activity of real public interest. It is no secret that while at the national capital he prepared many state papers. His great literary ability was fully recognized by those in high position and by his associates with the press.

Judson Welliver died of cancer in Philadelphia on April 14, 1943, at the age of 72. The Judson Welliver Society, a bipartisan social club composed of former presidential speechwriters, is named in his honor.


*The Annals of Iowa – Volume 25- Number 1…. State Historical Society



Williams, James B.

James Blakely Williams

1836 - 1903

No history of Fort Dodge would be complete without extended reference to James Blakely Williams, who was but twelve years of age when he first visited the site of the city in 1850. James Williams was the son of William Williams, the military post sutler and founder of Fort Dodge. The military post was selected as an army post but it was not until 1854 that the city was laid out. His father, Major William Williams was the pioneer leader and incorporator of the city.

From that period until his death James Williams lived in Fort Dodge and his life work became an integral chapter in the history of the community. James Blakely Williams was born in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, May 11, 1836, a son of Major William Williams and Judith Williams. Of the five children born to them, two survived, James Blakely and Mary Augustine, who became the wife of J. F. Duncombe. The father, Major Williams, was a banker in Hollidaysburg until 1849 when he was attracted by the opportunities and advantages of the growing West, and he left his native state and traveled to Iowa.

James Blakely Williams became a resident of the frontier village of Fort Dodge when he was twelve years of age. He accompanied his father to the military post in 1850 and James lived with his father on the military post and was the only youngster at Fort Dodge. For four long years and seven months, James would see none of his family except his father. James was his father's clerk and chief assistant for the next ten years in the work of post trader, pioneer Indian trader and merchant and town proprietor.

It was in the summer 1851, when James would meet a young boy that would become his best friend, a Sioux Indian boy by the name of Wahkonsa. It was known that James and Wahkonsa were almost inseparable. Though Wahkonsa was a little younger, James was small for his age, so the two boys were nearly the same size. During their teen years, James and Wahkonsa found many opportunities to hunt and fish and play games together. When the Indians were camping near the fort, Wahkonsa would spend several days or a week at the Williams cabin; James would then repay the visit by spending an equal period in Wahkonsa’s tepee, the tepee of Chief Umpashota. Wahkonsa would be sure to be there to share the hunt, the canoe trip, the swim, or the contest of endurance. In speed and agility, James bettered the Indian boy and won a Sioux name for himself. Both James and his father Major Williams noted how much they enjoyed and appreciated the many friendships they made with their early Sioux neighbors.

James Williams was educated by his father and also self-educated; a man of fine intellectual qualities. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted as a member of Company I, of the Thirty-second Iowa Volunteer Infantry, under Major Hutchinson. James served at the front but soon after reaching the field, on account of his elegant penmanship and superior business qualifications, he was detailed as clerk and spent the principal part of his army service as clerk at Division and Corps headquarters under General A. J. Smith.

Following the war he returned to Fort Dodge, where he opened a set of abstract books of the county, and continued in the abstract business, having as his partner his niece, Miss Maude Lauderdale, who took over the business and James’ death. Miss Lauderdale was well known in Webster County as the county recorder and later the curator of the Historical Society.

Like his father, James B. Williams was active in promoting the welfare, growth and progress of Fort Dodge along many lines. In his business affairs he was ever methodical and systematic, his records being accurate and reliable, while his books were a marvel of neatness. He was one of the best known men in the county and none were held in higher regard.

On the 2nd of June, 1862, James B. Williams married Miss Annie Marshall while home from the army on a furlough. To James and Annie Williams were born three children.

The death of James Williams occurred on August 25, 1903, when he was sixty-seven years of age. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living original settler in Webster County. He had been almost a life-long resident of Fort Dodge and the circle of his friends was almost coextensive with the circle of his acquaintances. James Williams was held in the highest regard by reason of his reliability in business, his loyalty and progressiveness in citizenship and his devotion to family and friends. James’ wife Annie died in Fort Dodge, on August 15, 1912.

James B. Williams is interred at Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge.


*Annals of Iowa

*History of Fort Dodge and Webster County… by H.M. Pratt

Johnson, George E. Q.

George E.Q. Johnson

1874 - 1949

George E.Q. Johnson, one of the sons of a Swedish homesteader, was born July 11, 1874, on a farm near Lanyon and Harcourt, in Webster County. Johnson’s boyhood was lived on a modest farm in the southern part of Webster County. He attended a rural one-room school house through eighth grade. He continued his education graduating from Tobin College in Fort Dodge in 1897. He moved to the northern area of Chicago to attend law school and received his law degree from Lake Forest University in Illinois in 1900. Then he quietly began practicing law in Chicago, continuing until 1927. He was a Master in Chancery for the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois from 1923 to 1927. He was the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois from 1927 to 1932.

Johnson's embellished name - with the middle E. to help him achieve his own identity in college, but when he started practicing law, the city directory was overflowing with George E. Johnsons. So he put in the "Q," which stands for nothing. It just separated him from the pack.

In 1927, Johnson was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, which was basically the city of Chicago. At the time, the City of Chicago was overwhelmed with organized crime. With the start of Prohibition in the United States, organized crime syndicates saw an opportunity to make money and further expand their criminal empires.

The appointment of a new U.S. attorney Johnson in Chicago marked the beginning of a fresh effort to prosecute the mobsters of organized crime. At first glance, the changing of the guard in the federal prosecutors’ office seemed an event of little consequence, and the appointee, George E. Q. Johnson, appeared as unlikely an adversary of Al Capone. Even though he arose from the ranks of the prosecutor’s office in Chicago, the man from little Harcourt, Iowa, at first did not appear to be a person to fear. Yet, President Calvin Coolidge insisted Capone had to be dealt with once and for all and U.S. District Attorney, George E.Q. Johnson, was just the man to do it. In February 1927, President Coolidge appointed him a U.S. attorney. At age fifty-four, Johnson was tall, wiry, and slightly rumpled. With his unruly hair parted in the center, his round wire-rimmed spectacles, and his tweedy suits, he might have been mistaken for a poet or a perhaps a drama critic – that is, until he opened his mouth, when it became apparent that he combined a scholarly demeanor with an unlimited capacity for indignation in the face of injustice. That last quality set him apart from nearly every other cynical, battle-weary veteran of Chicago’s futile war on gangsters, and it came directly from his rural, frugal background.

The “Roaring Twenties” – prohibition era in Chicago, led to the expansion of criminal activity and influence, via organized crime syndicates in Chicago. The Chicago Outfit (also known as the Outfit, the Chicago Mafia, the Chicago Mob, the South Side Gang, or The Organization) was an Italian-American organized crime syndicate based in Chicago, dating back to the 1910s. It was part of the American Mafia originating in South Side, Chicago. The Outfit rose to power in the 1920s under the control of Al Capone, and the period was marked by bloody gang wars for control of the distribution of illegal alcohol during Prohibition. The Outfit expanded into other criminal activities including loansharking, gambling, prostitution, extortion, political corruption, and murder.

When Alphonse "Scarface Al" Capone implemented his memorable St. Valentine's Day Massacre, slaughtering rival gang members, it was the last straw for the people of Chicago - and the federal government. The legendary Prohibition-era massacre, which over the decades has become the subject of countless articles, books and films, took place the morning of Feb. 14, 1929. It was the culmination of the ongoing feud between the South-Side Italian gang run by Capone and a North-Side Irish-German gang led by George "Bugs" Moran.

In a plot hatched by Capone henchman Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn, six Capone gangsters, two of whom were dressed as Chicago policemen, converged on a garage and gunned down seven confused Moran gang members.

From the moment he took office, it was apparent that U.S. Attorney Johnson took his responsibilities with the utmost seriousness. Unlike his predecessors, he refused to fight his battles against the racketeers in the press. In addition, he refused to tolerate Chicago’s traditional complicity in underworld activities. He distanced himself from the corrupt elements of law enforcement – the police captains, aldermen, and assistant district attorneys who participated in the profits of the Capone organization in return for protection. Instead, he began to educate himself about Chicago’s underworld by reading newspaper accounts covering the last several years. Chicago’s dailies provided highly reliable information on all the players and their rackets, better information than the police had collected. He retained a journalist to compile an index-card file of all the men and their organizations, and with this database at his fingertips, Johnson, a man of keen analytic powers, became the first person in a position of authority to gain a thorough knowledge of Chicago’s gang structure and gang warfare.

What particularly galled Johnson about Capone and his organization was their pretense and respectability. Organized crime was a business and the gangsters worked with a great deal of arrogance. Some of them posed as political leaders and they had the temerity to go to public banquets where public men were. Above all there was Al Capone, whom Johnson described as a man of unbelievable arrogance, his brother Ralph, who, Johnson learned, handled most of the organizations brothels. Jake Guzik, Capone’s right-hand man, was a hard-nosed thug, and like Capone, wanted to be viewed by the public with respect and prominence. This arrogance was very upsetting to Johnson and it offended him deeply, so much so that he reacted on a personal level. Johnson lived in a quiet neighborhood where there are homes and respectable, home-owning people. Jake Guzik, ironically, just lived around the corner from the Johnson home. In fact, most of the gangsters were married and raising families. Guzik was the conniver and corrupter of the crowd and Al Capone represented the force and spectacular leadership. . It was bad enough that Al Capone wanted to control Chicago’s government and Ralph Capone managed its brothels, but to have Jake Guzik and family living around the corner from Johnson was the ultimate indignity, an affront to all right-thinking citizens. For all these reasons, George E. Q. Johnson made every effort to expose these men to the scrutiny of the law.

During his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Johnson received constant death threats and had bodyguards around the clock to protect him and his family. Johnson regularly made headlines for busting gangsters and crooked politicians during the “Roaring 20’s in Chicago. Despite numerous death threats from the criminal world, Johnson ended up getting indictments against Capone and 68 of his henchmen. With Johnson's focused and diligent work, Al Capone was convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to an 11-year term at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta. Also put behind bars were his brother, Ralph "Bottles" Capone, Frank "the Enforcer" Nitti and gambling chief Jack Guzick, among others. Years later after being released from prison, Al Capone died of complications of syphilis in 1947.

After the Capone era and following Johnson’s success in prosecuting the famous mob leaders, Chicago's gangland was unable to stage a comeback. Even though gangs still operated, none could gain a real foothold in Chicago.

After successfully prosecuting Capone, things looked up for Johnson, and he was rewarded for breaking up Chicago's gangs. On Aug, 3, 1932, President Hoover appointed Johnson to be a federal judge. But confirmation of his appointment was delayed by a lame-duck Congress, and his service ended March 3, 1933. Johnson was saddened by the blow, and he returned to private practice until he passed away of natural causes on September 19, 1949, at the age of 75, at his home in Chicago.

In the legal annals of Chicago robust history, George E.Q. Johnson, from a small Iowa farm in Webster County, is long remembered as an honest, unintimidated and hard-nosed prosecutor who brought down the infamous organized crime syndicates of Chicago.


*Des Moines Register

*Chicago Tribune

*Get Capone – The Secret Plot That Captured America’s Most Wanted Gangster… by Jonathon Eig… Simon and Schuster…. April 2010


Stevens, Walter B.

Walter B. Stevens

1916 - 2013

Walter B. Stevens was a lifelong newspaperman and World War II veteran who served as managing editor and editor of The Messenger for 32 years and then as its editor emeritus for 25 more years until his death in 2013.

On July 17, 2013 at the age of 96, Walt Stevens died at Friendship Haven in Fort Dodge.

Since the newspaper was formed in 1848, no other editor served its readers as long as Stevens, who was honored by the Iowa Newspaper Association with its Master Editor-Publisher Award in 1982 and its Distinguished Service Award in 2003.

Stevens was born Oct. 10, 1916, on a farm in Bow Valley, Nebraska, the seventh of 10 children of Henry and Margaret Eickhoff Stevens. His family moved to nearby Hartington when he was 10 and he graduated from Cedar Catholic High School in 1933 at the age of 16. After graduation, he began work as a reporter for the Cedar County News. He and Ruth Petersen met in the fall of 1936 when they both worked at the weekly newspaper. Walt was named managing editor before he reached the age of 21. The News was the start of Walt’s long career in newspaper journalism that took him from Nebraska to Minnesota, Missouri and Iowa.

Stevens left Hartington in 1938 to become news reporter and sports editor of the Brainerd (Minn.) Dispatch and was promoted to editor of the daily in 1940. Two months after Pearl Harbor, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in February 1942 and attended Officer Candidate School in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, graduating as a second lieutenant. He joined the 77th Field Artillery Regiment and in February 1943 his unit was shipped overseas.

Stevens’ unit saw combat in the European Theatre for 33 months, beginning in North Africa, then the invasion of Sicily, the landing in Anzio and the liberation of Rome in June 1944, followed by a march through northern Italy into France and Germany until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945.

He was discharged from the Army as a captain in November 1945 and resumed newspaper work at the Excelsior Springs (Missouri) Standard, where he became editor and publisher. He and Ruth Petersen were married on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1946, at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Excelsior Springs. When Harry Truman came to Excelsior Springs on the evening of the 1948 election, Stevens covered the newly elected president’s first appearance after his surprising defeat of Thomas Dewey.

Their son Paul and daughter Jan were born in Excelsior Springs and their son Dave was born in Fort Madison, Iowa, where they moved in 1949 when he became managing editor of the Daily Democrat. In early 1954, the family moved to Fort Dodge when Stevens was named managing editor of The Messenger. They moved into a house owned by former Messenger editor Granger Mitchell and lived at that house, on 11th Avenue North, for the next 50 years. They sold the house and moved into Friendship Haven in early 2003.

In his tenure as managing editor and editor of The Messenger, Stevens directed the Messenger news staff and wrote thousands of editorials over the years that focused on local issues in Fort Dodge and the Messengerland area. He interviewed many presidential candidates over the years, including George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, when they came to Fort Dodge to campaign in the Iowa caucuses.

In 1978 Stevens began writing a weekly personality column called Spotlight that chronicled the lives of residents of the Messenger area and in the next 27 years, he had written more than 1,000 Spotlights before producing his final one in 2005. He also wrote a Saturday column titled Accent for a number of years. He and his son Paul wrote a book in 2006 on the history of The Messenger on the occasion of the newspaper’s 150-year anniversary.

His Spotlight columns focused on people and their achievements. He loved a good story and he had a way about him that encouraged people he interviews to open up their lives.

“It gave me an opportunity to know an awful lot of people and get behind the scenes on why they were successful,” Stevens said. ““I’ve always thought newspapering gives you a much better seat on watching life in general and getting acquainted with the newsmakers. That’s one of the great advantages that newspaper people have. You get a ringside seat on history. I probably had a rather unique position in observing life in Fort Dodge for the past half century, and to write about it.”

Walt Stevens was highly respected by his readers as a man of integrity keen insight. Upon this death, former Fort Dodge Mayor and District Court judge Albert Habhab, a long-time friend of Stevens summed it up best: “The citizens of Fort Dodge and, I dare say, the state of Iowa, have lost one of the worthiest citizens in the death of Walt Stevens. His journalistic style was his trademark. As editor of The Messenger he always sought the truth and in his professional writing he reported the news at it was and not as others, having self-interest, would have him do.”

In a column he wrote upon retirement as full-time editor in 1988, he told Messenger readers he would continue to write editorials and his Spotlights. He wrote, “I continue to put off full retirement at an age when most sensible people hang it up and head for warmer climes. Full, immediate withdrawal could be traumatic – I’m happy to have the chance to ease into retirement by writing editorials and continuing with the weekly Spotlights. Old editors don’t die, they just write away.”

Stevens was active in the Iowa Newspaper Association. He served as president of the Iowa Associated Press Association.

He was a member of Corpus Christi Church since the family moved to Fort Dodge in 1954 and also served as an usher for more than 30 years and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was involved in many civic and community groups in Fort Dodge. He was president of the Recreation Commission when Harlan and Hazel Rogers Park was dedicated, secretary of the Mercy Hospital board and a promoter of the merger of Mercy and Lutheran Hospitals into Trinity Regional, the 1990 Frontier Days Parade Marshal and received the Lions Club¹s 1985 Community Service Award, the Noon and Sundowner Sertoma Club Awards and the Masonic Awards. He was a member of the Fort Dodge Noon Lions Club and served as a Lion for 73 years.

After his wife Ruth’s death August 27, 2011, the Stevens family established the Walt and Ruth Stevens Journalism Scholarship at St. Edmond High School, which all three of their children attended. Memorials may be sent to the Walter and Ruth Stevens Journalism Scholarship fund at St. Edmond High School, 2220 4th Ave. N., Fort Dodge, Iowa 50501.


*Paul Stevens…. retired Associated Press Chief of Bureau in Kansas City and AP's regional

vice president for newspapers in 15 states.

Howey, Walter

Walter Crawford Howey
1882 - 1954

More than a century has passed since the emergence on the national journalism scene of one of the most famous journalists to hail from Fort Dodge – Walter Crawford Howey.

Said the New York Times, "One summer day in 1903, Walter Crawford Howey came out of Fort Dodge, Iowa, determined to make a tumultuous impact on journalism. He did. Young, flamboyant, with an iron drive, he descended on Chicago, his arrival signaling the beginning of one of the most raucous eras in Midwest newspaperdom."

The famous Broadway play, “The Front Page,” was based on his life and still is performed in theaters throughout the country and as a feature-length movie shown on late-night television.

This is the story of his life.

Hildy Johnson, a crack reporter for the Chicago Herald-Examiner, has said his farewells and moves to the door of the press room. He and his fiancée’ are leaving Chicago to be married in New York. But the voice of Hildy’s boss, managing editor Walter Burns, stops him.

"Hold on! I want you to have something to remember me by," Burns exclaims.

He gives Hildy his watch, which has Burns’ name inscribed on it.

"If you’ll look inside, you’ll find a little inscription: ‘To the Best Newspaperman I know.’ When you get to New York, you can scratch out my name and put yours in its place, if you want to."

Protesting at first, Hildy finally accepts the gift and a lump comes to his throat: "Well, this is the first and last thing I ever got from a newspaper."

The couple leave, and when they are well out of earshot, Burns calmly walks to the telephone, heaves a huge sigh, and speaks:

"Duffy," he says to a subordinate at the newspaper’s office, "Listen. I want you to send a wire to the Chief of Police at La Porte, Indiana ... That’s right ... Tell him to meet the 12:40 out of Chicago ... New York Central … and arrest Hildy Johnson and bring him back here ... Wire him a full description ... The son of a bitch stole my watch!"

This scene brought down the curtain on "The Front Page," a Broadway hit of the late 1920s, and sent many shocked theatergoers on their way vowing that they would never allow their sons or daughters to become journalists.

How true-to-life was the play’s portrayal of the irascible Walter Burns and a rowdy band of newspaper reporters? Very accurate - if you’re speaking of cut-throat Chicago journalism in the early 1920s. And Walter Burns. Was he real, or was he a fictitious character dreamed up by playwrights Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur?

Answers MacArthur, "I worked for him for 10 years in Chicago. His real name is Walter Howey."

Howey is one of the great legends of American journalism. His bombastic carryings-on while managing editor of the Chicago Herald Examiner inspired Hecht and MacArthur, two former Chicago journalists, to dramatize him in their play. Indeed, he was the ruthless, unpredictable Walter Burns who outsmarted his star reporters and rival newspapers and who could finagle with the best of politicians.

"When the play opened on Broadway," said MacArthur, who worked under Howey at the Herald-Examiner, "a newspaperman questioned its authenticity and also complained that no mother would ever let her son be a newspaperman if she saw the way editors and reporters carried on in the play. I replied that the play was an understatement of the times."

Likewise, Howey was a man of the times. He was flamboyant, opportunistic, ruthless, and all the other adjectives one attaches to the "stop the presses" image of a Walter Burns. Yet he was a journalist whom MacArthur called "the greatest newsman ever," whom Newsweek magazine termed "a quiet, coldly efficient worker," and who, according to a Hearst associate, "was a genius whether it was on big plans, electronics or getting the most out of one news story."

Howey’s sixth sense for smelling out a news story was first displayed while working in Fort Dodge, where he was born Jan. 16, 1882. As a teenager, Howey became editor of the Fort Dodge Chronicle, which competed with the city’s other daily newspaper, the Messenger. His first journalistic coup was scooping the state’s press on the death of President William McKinley in 1901.

The president had been shot by an assassin in Buffalo, N.Y., and stayed alive eight days before dying from the wound. During this period, Howey wrote the story of McKinley’s death in advance, and the life story of his successor, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, and had them set in type.

"I got hold of a servant at the house in Buffalo," said Howey, "and told him I’d give $10 to the first person there who would telephone me the minute the president died. The call came through as I knew it would. In a few minutes the pages were on the press, and we were out on the street hours ahead of our opposition."

Howey enjoyed being the first with the news. In 1902, he joined the staff of the Messenger and claimed credit for originating in Fort Dodge the newspaper stunt of running off two editions, one with a "Guilty" line and one with a "Not Guilty" line, in a famous murder trial. He held both editions in the pressroom until he received a flash from the courtroom (usually by a reporter signaling to another at a window), and then let boys rush out hawking the verdict even before the judge had dismissed the court.

Howey left his hometown with a flourish in 1903.

The Iowan, just 21 years old, bluffed his way into his first job in Chicago. In his own words, he describes how he accomplished it: "The Daily News was my first stop. I went in and said to the editor, ‘I hear George Ade is sick.’ That was the first big writer I could think of. ‘There’s nothing the matter with George Ade,’ said the editor. ‘Never mind,’ I said, ‘is anybody else sick? I’m a versatile writer.’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘but I could use a reporter who knows the town. Do you?’ ‘Every alley in it,’ I assured him. ‘Then do you know the corner of Madison and Monroe?’ ‘Who doesn’t?’ ‘Fine!’ he said. ‘Get going.’ I ran out and asked the first cop, ‘Where’s the corner of Madison and Monroe?’ ‘Not in this world,’ he answered. ‘They both run east and west!’

Undaunted by this technicality, Howey later returned to the newsroom with a hair-raising description of events he had seen - at Madison and Monroe - complete with full names and addresses. The editor was impressed.

"You’re hired," he said. "I don’t want you to be too honest, anyway."

Reporter Howey stumbled onto a story later in 1903 that turned out to be one of the biggest in Chicago’s history - the Iroquois Theater fire of Dec. 30, in which about 600 were burned and trampled to death. How he discovered the fire was a matter of luck, but how he handled its coverage was a brilliant display of skill.

Returning to the office on that winter day, he was startled when a manhole in the street opened and out popped a knight in armor and three elves with wings. They turned out to be a group of actors who had escaped the burning theater by way of an underground passage. Howey, showing remarkable poise for a young reporter, established a city desk in a nearby store, from which he telephoned his paper the first news on the disaster and directed the efforts of other Daily News reporters. It was a preview of the talents that were to make him one of the most sensational news editors in America.

Howey later worked briefly for the Chicago Evening American, and then moved to the Inter-Ocean, where, as city editor, he made newspaper history with a daring first - a full page of photographs. His reward, when the bills came in, was being fired.

When Howey joined the Chicago Tribune as its city editor in 1907, the mood of journalism in Chicago was beginning to change. A man who worked as a cub reporter during this time described the atmosphere: "In those days there was a fresh, frontier approach to public morals which reached a high point in the fang-and-claw ethics of the daily press. It was commonplace for newspapers to plant spies in rival editorial offices and saboteurs in pressrooms; to kidnap and jail rival reporters on trumped-up charges; to highjack murder suspects and key witnesses from one another - and from the police."

MacArthur only mildly exaggerated when he said that "The Front Page" was an understatement of the times. The play, which opened on Broadway in 1928, was a melodrama set in the pressroom of the Chicago Criminal Courts building.

Hildy Johnson, who comes to bid his reporter cronies good-bye, is delayed when Earl Williams, an escaped murderer whose stay of execution has been ignored by corrupt officials, falls in through the window. With the help of Walter Burns, Hildy hides Williams in an old roll-top desk until the paper can expose the civic corruption. They are caught by the sheriff, but Burns blusters their way out of the predicament. Such a set of circumstances was not only totally believable, but actually mild when compared to events that occurred in Chicago.

Money spoke big in those days, and press lord William Randolph Hearst, publisher of many large newpapers, had plenty to spend. After Howey quit the Tribune in 1917 following an argument with the paper’s owner, Hearst offered him a job as editor-in-chief of his Chicago Herald-Examiner. Howey’s new salary of $35,000 a year was four times what he made as city editor of the Tribune.

The arrival of Howey marked the beginning of a competitive news conflict between the morning rivals, the Herald-Examiner and the Tribune.

Howey’s first move was to declare war on the Tribune, which he called "The World’s Greatest Snoozepaper." He then shanghaied Frank Carson, the Tribune’s day city editor, by inviting him out to dinner, getting him drunk, and then guiding his hand while he signed two papers - his resignation from the Tribune and a contract with Hearst.

The Herald-Examiner reached its peak of power in 1919 when it was the only Chicago paper to support the winning mayoralty candidate, William "Big Bill" Thompson. MacArthur describes the aftermath:

"Mr. Howey’s reward was a newspaperman’s dream. Two city patrolmen and a sergeant were stationed in our city room and were subject to the orders of the paper’s reporters. We went out and arrested people whenever we had to. Our private interrogation headquarters was at a nearby hotel.

"Our policemen would keep rival photographers from taking pictures at the scene of a crime, and we got one exclusive story after another.

The other papers howled with rage but what could they do? Walter had the resignations of half a dozen city officials in his desk to be used at his convenience."

A legion of legends exists about Howey and his bold actions as editor of the Herald-Examiner.

"Howey would sit at his desk and make monkeys of all of us," said Hecht, who worked for the Tribune. "If he couldn’t scoop us, he’d invent a switch or an angle for the story that outfoxed us."

In one incident, a little girl was reported to be locked in a bank vault in Galena, Ill., the time lock on.

Howey knew that time locks could be picked, so he called the warden of the state penitentiary at Joliet and said, "Have you any good safecrackers?"

The warden replied with pride, "Certainly. The best!"

Howey persuaded the warden to lend him the safecrackers. He rushed four of his best reporters and photographers to Joliet, where they joined the safecrackers on a privately hired train that roared into Galena. The safe was opened in no time, but there was no girl to be found inside. Others may have shriveled away in embarrassment, but not Howey. He played up the Herald-Examiner’s role, centering his lead story on how the hardened criminals fell down on their knees and gave thanks when the little girl was not there. The newspaper’s bold headline proclaimed: "Humanity is a Wonderful Thing."

The Tribune took the bait when Howey, on another occasion, planted a well-documented story that an Indian heiress was in Chicago and had to marry an American by midnight in order to inherit a fortune in Bombay. Howey even arranged to have her married to a dying bum (a made-up stooge). After the Tribune and others splashed the story, the Herald-Examiner explained the stunt and gave thanks for the plug on its upcoming Sunday serial about a Bombay heiress.

He often employed subterfuge to embarrass his paper’s rivals. Howey once wrote an editorial lavishly praising the Herald-Examiner’s enterprise and humanitarianism in sending relief to an Illinois town struck by a cyclone. He had a deadpan copy boy take it directly to the Tribune composing room with the instructions; "Must. Colonel McCormick." (McCormick was publisher of the Tribune.) The tribute led the Tribune’s editorial page for half the press run before being discovered.

At the Herald-Examiner, Howey often followed the practice of grabbing the first edition and boarding an elevated train. Once aboard he would open the paper and comment to a train passenger about a particularly "hot" front page story. He would get reader reaction from one or two men and the same number of women, and then would take another train back to the Loop. At the newspaper office, he would often have his staff rewrite the story, stressing or clearing up points that his elevated train friends had mentioned in discussing the story.

"Humanity is a Wonderful Thing." This was a formula for news that Howey practiced throughout his career. Another formula was the repentance of "wayward souls."

"It is the simplest thing on earth to create circulation but it took me years to discover the secret," Howey said. "People are more interested in the repentance of a wayward soul than they are in themselves."

The repentance theme was employed by Howey when Hearst sent him to Boston to become editor of the faltering Boston American in 1922. Hearst told Howey to add 50,000 circulation to the American and he gave him six months and a generous budget to do it.

Howey found a familiar wayward soul - a woman who, in a holdup, had killed a policeman and was awaiting execution. Howey convinced her to that she should repent her sins - exclusively for the American - in return for a handsome sum of money for her daughter. The story of her life of crime and her repentance unfolded daily in Howey’s paper, and its circulation shot up by 54,000 in six days.

Howey was managing editor of the American for two years, and in 1924 he went to England for Hearst to study newspapers published by Lord Northcliffe. Upon his return later that year, Howey’s ideas for a picture newspaper led to the establishment of Hearst’s New York Mirror.

Unlike newsman Walter Burns, Howey was a solid production man. He carried a printer’s union card and owned 17 patents, including inventions for making engravings and covering methods of transmitting pictures and messages by wire. In 1931, his invention of an automatic photoelectric engraving machine was unveiled in Washington in the presence of Hearst editor Arthur Brisbane and officials of the Federal Bureau of Engraving.

Howey developed the sound photo for Hearst in 1935; this machine transmitted halftones by ordinary telephone. His inventions, an outgrowth of his belief in the importance of pictures, hastened the nationwide use of wire photos.

The remainder of Howey’s years was spent supervising Hearst publications and working as Hearst’s editorial assistant. Howey was editor-in-chief of Hearst’s three Boston papers - the Evening American, Daily Record, and Sunday Advertiser (1939); supervising editor of American Weekly magazine in New York (1940); and editor of the Chicago Herald-American (1942). He divided his time among these three jobs. In 1944, Howey was appointed special editorial assistant to Hearst.

Howey’s life ended on a tragic note. In January 1954, he was badly injured in Boston when a skidding taxi pushed a mailbox onto him. Ten days later, his wife died of pneumonia. Howey was slowly resuming his duties as editor of Hearst’s Boston newspapers when he died of the auto injuries on March 21, 1954. He left one son, William Randolph Howey, whose name was evidence of the high regard he had for Hearst.

*Paul Stevens…. retired A

ssociated Press Chief of Bureau in Kansas City and AP's regional vice president for newspapers in 15 states.

Snell, Thomas

Thomas Snell

1818 - 1907

Thomas Snell was born on December 20, 1818, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He lived most of his adult life in Clinton, Illinois. For a short time, Thomas Snell lived in Homer, Iowa, but eventually moved back to Clinton, Illinois, after the county seat was moved to Fort Dodge. In Clinton, he ran a private banking business and took hold of large construction contracts. He built the Illinois Central Railroad from Chicago to Peoria and also from Chicago to Dubuque. Snell built over 1,000 miles of railroad, mostly in Illinois.

Thomas Snell was very keen and successful businessman. His quickness of perception, his knowledge of men, and his keen insight into business made him a very wealthy individual. His restless energy boded well with his entrepreneurial spirit and keen desire to make a profit.

Politically, Snell was a Democrat, but he has always been known everywhere as a man of particular independence on all of his views, and he never bowed to any party. He was quoted as saying that he never belonged to any society, church, or other organization in all his life, and he believed that he was the better man for it.

When Thomas Snell passed away, we was the was the largest owner of real estate in Webster County, estimated at 5,000 acres. Since the early pioneer days, he owned the most choices of real estate in Fort Dodge. Around 1855 or 1856, Thomas Snell engaged in the general merchandise business in Homer, then the county seat of Yell County, afterward it was divided into Hamilton and Webster Counties. Thomas Snell had accumulated a great deal of wealth as he possessed a natural instinct for business and making significant profit. He did an immense business all over north central Iowa purchasing thousands of acres of land from six different counties including Webster and Hamilton.

In 1861, Thomas Snell responded to his call of duty when the Civil War broke out. He served in the Civil War as Colonel of the 150th Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry. This body of men got into active work in Kentucky and their fighting commander, who went there with them, got into trouble on account of his solicitude for the welfare of his men. His reply to the rebuke given him when he used some property of the Confederates was that he thought he had been sent South to exterminate the enemy and not to guard their property.

Col. Snell was fond of telling how he came to go to war. He had been making a speech enjoining staunch support of President Lincoln when a little boy piped out, “Why don’t you go yourself?” “That set me to thinking,” said Mr. Snell, “and I made up my mind at once that the medicine I had prescribed wasn’t any good if I could not take it myself.”

As their leader, the men under his command loved and respected him. While stationed at Louisville early in the war, he had quartered his men on the people about town, contrary to the orders of General Boyle, in whose division he served. For this General Boyle locked Colonel Snell up in the military prison. He at once sent for his old friends, Lawrence Weldon of this city and Mr. Leonard Swett. They at once decided to appeal to Mr. Snell’s old friend President Lincoln, but when General Boyle got word that Snell was a friend of the president, he was at once liberated with further red tape. While in command of the regiment, which he had raised in 1862, he chafed under the slow discipline of the army and several times disobeyed orders in his feverish desire serve the men under his command and to get at the enemy.

During the war, Colonel Snell became one of the most radical of the radicals and in 1864, he was almost decided not to vote for Lincoln because he was not radical enough to suit that Illinoisan. His record during the Civil War was one with which both the Colonel and his friends look back on with pride. After the war, he returned to Clinton, Illinois and resumed his business life. Thomas Snell later turned his attention to banking and the operation of large tracts of land, which he has followed to end of his life. He became one of the richest men in central Illinois and one of the best known citizens.

Thomas Snell had three sons and two daughters. His youngest son was Richard, who spent a good deal of his time in Fort Dodge and was very well liked by the Fort Dodge citizens. Thomas Snell always had a high opinion of Fort Dodge though he never lived here. Thomas Snell acquired a great deal of real estate in Fort Dodge but unfortunately, he did very little to invest in the building of the fledgling community, as his true interests remained in Illinois. Later, in the 1900s, Richard became an active developer in Fort Dodge, even though his home remained in Chicago.

The foundation for Thomas Snell’s fortune was laid in the last half of the 19th century when he was a railroad construction contractor on the Illinois Central. He was also a banker for years and during the later years of his life, he had an interest in banks in Illinois, Indiana, and Kansas. He owned a large amount of real estate in Illinois and several thousand acres in Iowa, which he bought at a very low price and it grew to be very valuable. In the 1850s, Snell was very aggressive in acquiring land in Iowa when there was a big land grant for the improvement of the Des Moines River.

In the late 1850s, Snell had a respected building construction company in Fort Dodge, Snell & Taylor. When the first courthouse in Webster County was to be built, the project was became bogged down in controversy as numerous conflicts arose and delays were caused by accusations of fraud, design changes and funding shortages. It was at this point that Snell’s firm of Snell & Taylor, high respected contractors, was urged by the leading citizens of Fort Dodge to undertake the work. This he finally consented to do, and the contract was assigned to his firm, and by them, the courthouse project was completed.

Thomas Snell owned the land on which the Snell Building and the Boston Centre were constructed. Thomas Snell took ownership of the property when the town was originally platted in 1856. Thomas Snell’s son, Richard Snell, from Chicago, Illinois, was the original builder and owner of both the Snell Building and the Boston Centre in downtown Fort Dodge. Richard Snell, was a successful banker in Chicago who never actually lived in Fort Dodge, but had investments in Fort Dodge and directed his developments from Chicago.

Snell Park originates from Thomas Snell and his son, Richard, who donated the land, along with entrepreneur Robert Crawford, to the City for the development of Snell-Crawford Park.

Thomas Snell stood apart from the average citizen as one of those pioneers who attained fame and wealth both before and after the civil war. His career had been a unique one, and he not only was actively engaged in many enterprises but had developed productive relationships with powerful Illinois political leaders including Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, General George B. McClellan, and others of prominence in the early history of the state of Illinois and the nation.

Thomas Snell was a born American leader who possessed a bold, independent and aggressive spirit, and by nature, could take hold of and push forward public and private enterprises, and could plan them with great skill and nerve to carry them forward to a successful and profitable realization.

Thomas Snell died on June 18, 1907, in Bloomington, Illinois, at the age of 88 and thus, removed one of the last of the great financiers and leaders of men who were powerful in Illinois during his time. Upon his death, Thomas Snell was one of the richest men in central Illinois with an estimated net worth of over $2 million.


*Fort Dodge Messenger… June 19, 1907

McQuilkin, Archie D.

Archie D. McQuilkin

1964- 1926

Archie D. McOuilkin has for the past ten years been successfully engaged in business at Fort Dodge as a dealer in furniture, carpets, drapery and queens ware, and his establishment at

817 Central avenue is artistic and attractive throughout. He was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, on the 13th of January, 1864. His father, Samuel McOuilkin, was reared in Pennsylvania and followed farming throughout his active career. In 1866 he came west to Iowa, locating in Benton county, where he continued to reside until called to his final rest in 1878. Samuel and his wife bore eleven children, of which Archie was one of his six sons.

Archie was just two years of age when his parents removed to Benton County, Iowa. He attended the district schools until the age of fifteen when he left the home farm and began clerking in a drug store at Laporte City. After living in Laporte City for five years, Archie became a traveling salesman for a publishing concern, covering Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. Later he embarked in business at Burlington, Iowa, as a dealer in furniture, jewelry, carpets and queens ware, there conducting an establishing a business for eleven years.

On the 17th of June, 1889, Mr. McQuilkin was united in marriage to Miss Jennie Kline. Archie and Jennie McOuilkin had been born three children, two of which, died during childhood.

In 1902, Archie McQuilkin and his family came to Fort Dodge and established a successful business here. He built a seven story building on the 800 block of Central Avenue to house his business. Built in the early 1900s, the McQuilkin Building was a fixture in downtown Fort Dodge for decades and the building still remains adjacent to the Boston Centre today. Unfortunately, the building has been abandoned for several years.

McQuilkin’s store, comprising several floors, had forty-four thousand feet of floor space (over an acre) and was the home of one of the most extensive and finest assortments of furniture, carpets, rugs, pictures and chinaware to be found in the state of Iowa. Archie McOuilkin built a large and well merited patronage. He was known as a man with splendid business ability and keen judgement. He carried an attractive and artistic line of goods at reasonable prices and did everything in his power to please and satisfy his customers.

In his political views, Mr. McOuilkin was a republican, and both he and his wife were members of the Presbyterian church where he served as president of the board of trustees.

Archie McQuilkin, through his business enterprise, was recognized as a respected and successful businessman and through his fidelity to upright principles he earned the respect and confidence of his colleagues and fellow citizens. Archie McQuilkin passed away in 1926 at the age of 62.

Crawford, Robert

Robert Crawford

1846 - 1932

Robert Crawford was a druggist in Fort Dodge’s early days. He was known as an entrepreneur and a keen business person, as well as a trusted friend. Mr. Crawford organized the Fort Dodge Chemical Company. In 1882, Crawford opened a drug store downtown. He built a large building at the corner of Central and Sixth, that was remembered as the Crawford block, where he located his business of wholesale and retail drugs. The building burnt down in 1956 after a devastating fire.

As a highly respected pharmacist, Robert Crawford served as Vice President of the State Commission for Pharmacy in 1880 -1884.

Mr. Crawford engineered a product known as “Gopher Death,” which he made and distributed through the Fort Dodge Chemical Company. The product was known and distributed all over the nation. It was a popular solution to a familiar problem across the nation at the time. Its production continued when the company was sold to Jewell Johnson. The Fort Dodge Chemical Company still exists today. It is located in Lompac, California.

Mr. Crawford, being a profound entrepreneur, also invented a new and useful metal and-wood railway-tie that would retain all the advantages of the resiliency of wood as a base for track rails in a railroad and would secure the strength and utility of metal in the main portion of a cross-tie.

As a very successful businessman, Robert Crawford developed personal wealth who gave back to his community. In 1910, Robert Crawford along with the Snell family donated land to the City for the development of the Snell-Crawford Park.

It’s easy for drivers along North 15th Street to miss the stately brick columns bearing the Crawford name that mark the original entrance to this wooded park with its winding streams. These days entrance to the park is gained from Williams Drive by car. Walker and bicyclists are able to access the park via a paved trail off of 15th Street. While the people behind the names of Snell-Crawford Park are no longer familiar to present-day park users, the gift they left behind has endured and continues to be a vibrant city park and recreational asset for families and people of all ages.

Robert Crawford died in 1932 and was interred at the Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge.


*The People Who Made A Difference, Twist and Shout, January, 2000

*The Iowa Living Magazine…. September 11, 2013

Brown, Bob

Bob Brown

1928 - 2012

Bob Brown spent decades telling readers of The Messenger which teams won and who reeled in the latest trophy bass.

Brown, the paper's sports editor for nearly four decades, delivered the scores and highlights of area high school and college games. But the award-winning writer also reported on hunting and fishing in his column, Inside on the Outside, which he wrote for years after his 1993 retirement.

Bob was an avid fisherman who thoroughly enjoyed writing stories about his experiences in the great outdoors. His outdoor column, “Inside on the Outside,” was the best read and most valued outdoors column for outdoor sports enthusiasts and that went on for years after he retired from his daily duties at the newspaper.

Brown worked at the paper from 1956 to 1993, and for all but about three years of that time he was the sports editor. From 1976 to 1978, he was the paper's editor. During his stint as the Messenger’s editor, Brown interviewed two former presidents: Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. ''But none of this had the pizzazz of an Iowa-Iowa State football game, so I went back to the sports editor's job,'' Brown said in a 1993 article. ''Bob did an amazing job attending high school games and reporting Messenger and sports for 37 years,'' said Larry D. Bushman, the former publisher of The Messenger.

During his tenure at The Messenger, Brown won Associated Press sports writing awards for 11 consecutive years. He was also named the Iowa Sportswriter of the Year in 1964, 1974 and 1975. He also won the National Sportswriter of the Year Award from the Catholic Youth Organization and the Iowa High School Athletic Association Media Award. Bob Brown was very proud of his induction into the Fort Dodge Senior High School Hall of Fame. He was also a charter member of and the University of Iowa's Media Wall of Fame.

His sports column, Crowd Noise, was a North Central Iowa favorite. He passionately chronicled the exploits of hundreds of high school and college athletes. As sports editor, Bob really opened up the pages of The Messenger to sports teams from all over the area. Brown was determined to provide coverage for all sports events in northwestern Iowa. To do that, he recruited 30 to 40 correspondents who reported on games for the paper. Bob was old-school when it came to journalism. When covering the games, he wanted his part-timers to stick to the facts (who, what, where, when and why) and nothing fancy.

Bob Brown had to be the hardest working sports writer in Iowa. During football season, his routine would be to cover the Fort Dodge Dodgers, home and away, every Friday evening. He would then drive back to the office and write the article for the next day’s sports page. Then Bob would get up early the next morning and drive three hours to Iowa City, watch the Hawkeyes from the media location in the press box. Then drive three hours back to Fort Dodge and write the article on his beloved Hawkeyes for the Sunday sports page in the Messenger. He did this for decades.

Bob Brown had great enthusiasm for northwest Iowa sports and many recognized him as a true sports icon in the north central and northwest Iowa, if not the whole state. Many coaches knew him as a real promoter of the positives in athletics and a strong supporter of the athletes in the Messenger region. These coaches and sports enthusiasts in the Messenger area all held Bob in high regard. People that knew Bob or worked with him at the Messenger realized how much he cared about people whether they were athletes or not.

Bob Brown had the status of a sports editor of a major statewide newspaper but he elected to stay in Fort Dodge his whole career. He loved his community. Many knew him as a friend and an incredibly positive and loyal person.

Brown was certainly a treasure trove of information on people involved in athletics in Fort Dodge, but sports were not the only thing that interested Brown. He was also intrigued by the history of the region. He frequently visited the Webster County Historical Society archives in the Fort Dodge Public Library. Brown authored two history books, ''The Spirit Lake Massacre: Northwest Iowa's Greatest Tragedy'' and ''Echoes from Middle Iowa's Historic Past.''

Bob Brown was born in Omaha, Nebraska on May 13, 1928. Shortly after, his parents moved to Fort Dodge when Bob he was 6 months old. He attended Fort Dodge Senior High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball and where he humbly stated; ''I played football, basketball and baseball with a notable lack of ability.''

After graduating from high school in 1946, he enlisted in the Army and served in Korea. Upon returning to civilian life he attended Fort Dodge Junior College; Cornell College, in Mount Vernon; and William Jewell College, in Liberty, Mo.; before attending Drake University from where he and graduated.

His first Fort Dodge job was with TV station KQTV. He also worked for radio station KVFD in Fort Dodge. Brown joined The Messenger in April 1956, as sports editor. He retired in 1993.

Brown, whose final column appeared in The Messenger in 2011, died at Tompkins Memorial Health Center at Friendship Haven in Fort Dodge on January 10, 2012. He was survived by Nan, his wife of almost 60 years, sons Rick Brown, Randy Brown, and Roger Brown, and daughter Renee Brown.

Terry Hersom, retired sports editor of the Sioux City Journal and good fishing friend of Bob Brown said it best. “No one, and I do mean no one, will match what Bob did for the Fort Dodge Messenger or Iowa sports writing in general. Maybe someone has covered as many high school and college games as this Korean War veteran, but no one has done it with the panache and skill and respect of his readers that Bob Brown, Master Angler, has done.”


*The Fort Dodge Messenger-News - By Bill Shea, Editor and Eric Pratt, Sports Editor

*Sioux City Journal – by Terry Hersom, Sports Editor

Olney, Dr. Floyd

Floyd Benjamin Olney, M.D.
1851 - 1917

Dr. Floyd Benjamin Olney occupied a foremost position in professional ranks in Webster County as a well-known physician and surgeon in Fort Dodge where he practiced continuously for more than three decades. Born in South Toledo, Ohio, on the 20th of November, 1851, Floyd Olney’s parents were Dr. Stephen B. and Stella (Badger) Olney. Dr. Stephen Olney was Fort Dodge’s first physician. The first representative of the Olney family in this country was Thomas Olney, who came from England in 1631, locating in Massachusetts and subsequently going with Roger Williams to Rhode Island, where he afterward succeeded the latter in the ministry.

Stephen Berry Olney, the father of Dr. Floyd Olney, was a youth of twelve years when he moved with his parents to northwestern Ohio and was raise there on a farm. He later studied medicine and surgery, practicing first in South Toledo, Ohio, and subsequently spending a short time at Adrian, Michigan. In the spring of 1855, Stephen Olney came to Fort Dodge. Iowa, and successfully practiced his profession until 1888.

Floyd B. Olney was four years of age when his family moved to Fort Dodge. He attended the public schools in Fort Dodge and was a member of the first graduating class from the high school. After putting aside his text-books he learned the printer's trade and as a representative of the "art preservative" worked on a number of city papers, including the Chicago Tribune. Later he devoted his attention to the study of medicine and in 1881 graduated from the Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago.

Dr. Floyd Olney practice medicine in Fort Dodge throughout the intervening period of thirty-one years, and the extensive practice accorded him reputation of being a well-respected and highly skilled physician. Dr. Floyd Olney was a member of the Webster County Medical Society and the Iowa State Medical Society, and was known as a progressive physician who stayed on top of advances in his field. In all the relations of his medical practice and his community, Dr. Floyd Olney was highly respected as a man of high standards, exceptional ideals and remarkable integrity and a person who always pursued improvement and advancement in medicine and in his own life.

On the 5th of April, 1877, Dr. Olney was united in marriage to Miss Hattie Elizabeth Greig, a native of Nunda, New York. They were the parents of four daughters: Kate, Anne, Elizabeth, and Doris.

Dr. Floyd B. Olney died in 1917 at the age of sixty-six. He is interred at Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge.


*The History of Fort Dodge and Webster County… Volume 2… by Harlow M. Pratt

Oleson-Julie Haskell

Julia Haskell Oleson

Julie H. Haskell was born on January 27, 1869 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She was the daughter of Aden and Martha Haskell who were early settlers of Fort Dodge. Aden Haskell became wealthy as businessman in the stage coach industry in Fort Dodge and on the Pacific coast. Both Aden and Martha Haskell were buried in the Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge.

Julie Haskell grew up in Fort Dodge and was educated here. She fell in love with famous Fort Dodge entrepreneur and businessman, O. M. Oleson. Julie and O.M. Oleson were married in 1907. The well renowned Fort Dodge couple had no children. The Olesons lived much of their married life in their beautiful home on 1020 Third Avenue South until later years when they sold their home and lived in an apartment at the Wahkonsa Hotel.

O. M. and Julie Oleson began a long and admired tradition of philanthropy in Fort Dodge. Combining their assets for the good of the community, O. M. and Julie Haskell Oleson were strong advocates for the advancement of the city and healthcare, in particular. They were instrumental in the establishment of hospital care in Fort Dodge. O.M. Oleson assisted with the fund drive to build Mercy Hospital in the early 1900s and served on the original Board of Trustees. He was a vital force in the opening of Lutheran Hospital. The Oleson’s have been credited with saving Lutheran Hospital from bankruptcy during the Great Depression. The legacy established by O.M. and Julie Oleson is perpetuated by the Oleson Fund, which continues to provide financial support to sustain and advance important and necessary health care services in the Fort Dodge community.

The Olesons lived to witness the transformation of Fort Dodge, their countryside home, from a pathless grassland to a populous city. A portion of 80 acres of virgin woodland owned by the Olesons was preserved and gifted to the City for what is now Oleson Park, a popular city park located on the south side of the city. Oleson Park is the home of the Oleson Park Band Shell. This is one of several park areas given by the Olesons to Fort Dodge.

O.M. and Julie Oleson provided a major gift to help build the new Congregational Church. Over the course of their lifetime, many other community services and city ventures benefited from the generosity of the Olesons. In 1943, O.M. Olsen died at the age of 94. Following his death, Julie Haskell Oleson by virtue of her own inclination and by the expressed testamentary wishes of her esteemed husband, continued the Oleson tradition of philanthropy, supporting the YMCA, the YWCA, Friendship Haven, Lutheran Hospital, colleges, musical organizations and other public welfare institutions both during her lifetime and at her death.

Julie Haskell Oleson died December 12, 1965. A brief private prayer service was held December 14, 1965. Her body was cremated and the ashes were comingled with her husband’s ashes at the base of the Oleson memorial in Oleson Park.

O.M. and Julie Oleson were truly two individuals who led exemplary lives successfully establishing a tradition of excellence and generosity for their community. Julie Haskell Oleson lived twenty-two years after the death of her beloved husband, but she continued their community-spirited philanthropy until her death. Her life, like that of her husband, was lived in the best American tradition that was an inspiration to all, because she did so much good, and found thereby, great happiness.

Russell, Frank

Frank Russell


Arctic explorer, Frank Russell, was born and raised on a farm near Fort Dodge in 1868. Little is known about Russell growing up in Fort Dodge. He became much more known as a graduate student at the University of Iowa, where he was held in the highest esteem as a scholar and a man, and as an original and widely learned student of natural history. People who knew Frank Russell respectfully referred to him as —an explorer, an adventurer, a pilgrim of the untamed and unknown.

As a twenty-three year old University of Iowa graduate student, Frank Russell embarked on his epic solo journey into northern Canada in August, 1892. He spent over two years traveling alone covering 3,000 miles by train, boat, dog sled and on snow shoes. “This is the bleakest, dreariest, lonesomest, loneliest, windiest, most God-forsaken post on the earth.” That’s what Russell said of the environment in which for two years he endured.

You might call Russell crazy for what he undertook. Some undoubtedly did. It’s probably no coincidence that even after he persuaded the Board of Regents to finance his expedition, the funding strangely disappeared. Russell’s endeavor reeked of great risk, and it would be foolish to think that he never knew it. So why did he go? Why wager his own skin for that of an ox? If it was for the notoriety, he certainly found it. Upon his homecoming in October of 1894, Russell was met with a hero’s welcome and a parade through the streets of Iowa City. He would be admitted to Harvard and take three degrees in three years. He would become a Smithsonian ethnologist, write a book, marry a professor. But then again, Russell was bright—bright enough to know that there are safer means to success, and to realize that a journey to the arctic could have just as well amounted to his never seeing any of it.

As a graduate student of the University of Iowa, Russell volunteered to venture into the desolate artic territory in northern Canada in order to collect specimens of arctic birds and mammals and gather artifacts from its native cultures for the study and display in the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History. Though he agreed to return with whatever he could lay his hands on, it was the hides and skulls of the Far North’s musk oxen that were his true target. At the time, the musk ox was thought to be at the verge of extinction, and, to the delight of Professor Charles Nutting, Russell aimed to secure specimens for the museum’s growing collection.

Russell traveled by sled up the Athabasca from Edmonton, across the Great Slave Lake and toward the coast of the Arctic Sea to a location known as Fort Rae—the northernmost of the Far North. There, the Indian Dog Rib tribe gathered to prepare for their musk oxen hunt. Russell tried to persuade the hunters to allow him to travel with them. He ran into an unexpected obstacle -- the natives believed the animals Russell sent to be mounted in Mollah Edna, the white man's country, would live there happily forever and lure all the other caribou and musk oxen to leave the North and join them. Russell finally persuaded the party of hunters with the promise of food, tea and one dollar per day and they began their 200 mile trek in search of mush oxen.

The hunters saw a herd on the tenth day of the trip about one mile away. Russell's companions abandoned all pretense of good hunting manners and raced ahead. He was left far behind to struggle with his sled and supplies. By the time Russell arrived on the scene, the natives had slain the animals and claimed them for themselves. He was better prepared when they came upon another herd six days later. Again the natives deserted Russell; however, he had stripped off his bulkiest clothing and emptied his pack of all but bare necessities. This time he managed to keep up with the sprinting natives and shot three musk oxen for himself. Three days later they spotted another large herd. Unfortunately, Russell's sled bogged down in soft snow going up a steep hill. By the time he reached the top, the others were a quarter of a mile ahead and seemingly about to end his last chance to collect the oxen. Russell later confessed in his journal that at that moment he gave up all though of hunting musk oxen and imagined he might just shoot the natives instead. However, at the last moment, a group of four large bulls broke off from the herd and ran in Russell's direction. He managed to kill them all.

Having to endure the blistering cold temperatures, blizzards, relying on natives to guide him and hauling a 500 pound load of seven musk oxen pelts, skulls and his numerous other findings, it was a difficult and amazing seven month expedition back to civilization for Russell. On the journey home, hiking with snowshoes, using canoes and a dogsled, Russell gave the last of his food to his dogs and to stay worm at night, and had to burn his tent poles because the fire wood was gone. He barely made it to a port in Alaska where he was able to get aboard a ship with American whalers, thus beginning the second phase of his return to Iowa City. After a series of different ships on treacherous waters, Russell returned home to Iowa City on November 2nd. His epic journey covered over 3,000 miles and lasted over two years – August 1892 to November 1894.

Only a few months later, Russell enrolled at Harvard University, where he completed his master’s and doctorate degrees. Ten years later following his artic exploration, Russell contracted tuberculosis and passing away at the young age of 35. Many believe it was the artic trek that shattered his health.



*Russell, Frank. Explorations in the Far North, 1898, University of Iowa.


Download a copy of Frank Russell’s book “Explorations in the far North” in which he gives a very detailed account of his expedition and the artifacts he gathered.<