On This Day

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©2014 Enfys McMurry All Rights Reserved

 

February

February 8 1924

All the people of Centerville were tuned to their radios this night to hear their own “Whistling Girl”- Esther Campbell. She was in Los Angeles developing her talent and was about to whistle her way to fame as the whistler in Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Soon they’d hear her again when the movie arrived at the Majestic. (296)

February 9 1893
Between 4 and 5 a.m, a furnace overheated in the basement of Centerville’s Continental Hotel, Dense smoke and flames rapidly spread. Guests struggled along the landings and balcony but, disoriented on the last stairs, piled dangerously into each other. Town people, now in force in the snow and ice outside, rushed the survivors (many shoe-less) to the warmth of neighboring buildings. And they watched as the escape routes of two occupants failed. Samuel Lewis of Greeley was seen and heard at a third floor window. People motioned for him to go east in the direction of the least fire. He disappeared, threw out his coat and then fell back into the flames. Mrs. Susannah McKee – the proprietress, manager, and Centerville’s first business woman – was trapped on the third floor after repeatedly checking that her workers were safe. She jumped. The 40 foot fall was too great. Unconscious, she was rushed to the home of her daughter, Jennu Lloyd Lane where she died the same day. (111-113)

February 14 1929
At 10;30 a.m. on this morning in 1929, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre would shock the nation and the world. Four men entered the SMC Carthage Company at 2212 North Clark Street in Chicago. Two were dressed as policemen. They carried machine guns. They ordered the 7 men in the garage – members of the Bugs Moran gang – to line up against a brick wall. The two “policemen” then opened fire. Unknown yet to the people of the town, the tentacles of that murder would reach Centerville.

February 15 1908
The social event of the calendar happened. Theodora Mary Shonts married Emmanuel d’Albert de Luynes the 11th Duke of Chaulnes in the presence of 300 prominent guests at 123, East 35th Street, New York City. It was the home of Theodora’s parents both from Centerville, both the products of Centerville High School: Amelia, daughter of Governor Drake and Theodore Perry Shonts, the 2nd Administrator of the building of the Panama Canal, in 1908 head of New York City Transit, and one of the country’s wealthiest men. Six weeks into the marriage of the Duke and Theodora, the Duchess de Chaulnes, the Duke collapsed and died. “Withdrawal from the drugs he’s been addicted to,” said the French press, “and we warned you, he owes money to everyone including his workers at his Chateau.”. The news was followed by another: Theodora was pregnant. In November 1908, Dr.J..L.Sawyers of Centerville
traveled to Paris and delivered a son who became the 12th Duke de Chaulnes.

February 16 1862
From the Civil War, victory at Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in Tennessee reached Centerville. It was the battle that reversed Union despondency and Lincoln’s near despair on the course of the war. The pivotal group in the capture of the fort were men of the 2nd Iowa Infantry among them boys from Appanoose County(including R.B.Carson of Moulton) who, tired of waiting for the deployment of Appanoose’s 6th Infantry had crossed into Davis County and joined Company G of the 2nd. Infantry. When the news reached Centerville, Grandad” Manson from the post office on the southside of the Square sent a message to John Harper and William Henderson, blacksmiths. They hammered on their anvils bringing out Union supporters who lit candles in every window of the old log-cabin courthouse on the southeast corner. Soon much of the County’s population arrived on horseback, in farm wagons, and on foot to join in the local rejoicing. (40)

February 17 1937
UP’s chief correspondent in Spain, Lester Ziffren, sent letters to his aunt, Mrs. Dave Rosenbaum on South Main Street, and she in turn showed them to friends and neighbors. Lester in Spain, was sharing fried shrimp, fresh bola cheese and beer with fellow war correspondent Ernest Hemingway in Madrid’s cafes. Lester described the despair of the Spanish people as they were subjected to saturation bombings as the Nazi’s and Fascists practised on them in Spain’s Civil War and while the rest of the world looked away.
(372)

February 18th 1943
As the Japanese were withdrawing from Guadalcanal, Centerville’s Dr. E.F. Ritter was performing surgery under the trees assisted by Hollywood film star (and conscientious
objector) Lew Ayres. Three Centerville men who’d fought on Guadalcanal came home to tell their stories: of the malaria-infested jungle, the constant rain. the filth, the vermin, the incessant falling of Japanese bombs, the snipers, the attempts at sleeping in tents where mosquitoes sounded like swarms of bees, the swimming in the shark-infested ocean. They were, Marine-Corp.Pvt. Lloyd E. Large and Sgt. Charles Davis both of Centerville and Sgt. Raymond Glascock of Cincinnati. Corp. John Wynn Ross, also of Cincinnati, died at Guadalcanal of strep.throat, malaria, and pneumonia. (436)

February 19 1943
The news from Africa was ominous. Two German Panzer divisions of General Rommel had captured the 168th Regiment which included Centerville’s Company G, at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia and, said the report, “cut it to pieces.” Jesse Beck at the Iowegian immediately sought confirmation gleaned from the Chicago Times and from AP delayed reports. Company G was indeed involved. With their anxiety level high, the people of the town waited…and they waited. They waited for 22 days. (436/437)

February 20 1933
In the months between the election of FDR and his inauguration date, suffering in Appanoose’s Depression got not just urgent but veered towards violence. Unemployment continued to escalate. Everywhere men sought work. When two homes were built on West Van Buren, 40 men applied for work, 40 more the next day. When rumors were heard that County departments needed deputies, the Courthouse was deluged with applicants. When the Peacock Inn offered free meals, 105 were served in two days – all women and children “…few men take advantage of the services offered,” said manager M.S.Kassem. (343)

February 21 1945
At this time in 1945, the US 5th, 4th, and 3rd Marine Divisions were fighting on Iwo Jima. For those marines it was the worst experience of the Pacific War. Rathbun’s Louis Cortesio passed up deferment as a coal miner and at 21 was in the 5th Division. Second Lieutenant Mick Starcevich of Mystic was with the 3rd Division as was Sgt. Floyd Fisher of Centerville’s Park Avenue. On landing, the men immediately
sank almost to their knees in volcanic ash. It reduced them to a crawling advance. They faced artillery fire and snipers who,knowing the ash would slow the marines’advance, could move suicidally close. Men lying wounded were killed from behind by enemy soldiers running unseen along their vast underground networks of paved tunnels. Louis was wounded by a mortar in both legs and feet. He waved away those trying to assist him, crawled to relative safety, and was evacuated. Mick was wounded when a grenade exploded under his leg. Before losing consciousness, he heard his platoon sergeant call for litter bearers adding, “he won’t last the night.” Before they were injured, both men and Floyd Fisher witnessed the raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi. Back home in Centerville, the people with no knowledge of the fate of their men and full of anxiety read this headline in the Iowegian, ” Conquest of Iwo Cost Nation 4,000 Marines.” The actual cost was higher: 6,855 marines were dead, more than 20,000 wounded. For the 22,000 Japanese defending the island, 21,000 were dead, the defenders having died almost to a man. (494-5)

February 22 1936
On this day to the relief of the town, the terrible winter of 1936 finally ended. It had lasted for 61 days. From December 20th the mercury had remained at zero or sub-zero. 36 times it occasionally reached single +digits but from January 22 to February 20 it never came above zero with a reading on the night of February 5 of 24 degrees below zero. Any celebration was brief and so was the spring! By June 19, the uninterrupted record-breaking heat of the summer of 1936 arrived. (375)

February 23 1945
News arrived in Centerville that Sgt Harold Amos, the brother of Roberta McDonald of Centerville Beauty Shoppe, and Maurice Furstenberg, brother to Bertha Gavronsky of Haynes Avenue (Sarah Gavronsky’s mother in law), had both survived the infamous Bataan Death March. The two men had somehow survived the torture, the diseases, the lack of water, the starvation and cruelty of that march where several hundred men died daily. (492)

February 24 1918
In the bitterly cold French winter of 1917/1918, Company G-the Appanoose men in the 168th Infantry- were fighting in the cold, ice, mud, lice, and constant shelling of the trenches in Lorraine, east of Paris. When the Germans realized the Americans were nearby, they increased their shelling from 150 shells a day to more than a thousand and their airplanes flew almost constantly overhead dropping bombs. Members of the 15th Bavarian Sturm Battalion tossing hand grenades ahead of them
and armed with knives and pistols, rushed Company G’s trench. Four Appanoose men were killed.The first to die from our County was Ray Walden (the American Legion Post was named in his honor): Guy Worley, Merrill Morrison, and Ira Rogers.
(220-221)

February 25 1945
The sheer logistics of moving men and material in the Pacific War was, to the untrained eye, impossible. That beloved reporter, Ernie Pyle, wrote,” Covering this Pacific War…I can’t get my mind around it…distances in Europe are hundreds of miles at most, out here they’re thousands. And there’s nothing in between but water, ” Centerville’s Jerry Kirkpatrick aboard the USS Levy kept a diary that tells the story. His ship ran supplies, oil, ammunition, and troops from New York and Bermuda to Pago Pago, Bora Bora, Guadalcanal, Guam, New Caledonia, Eniwetok. the Philippines, Formosa, Manus, Palawan, and Los Negros. The crews of thousands of US battleships, aircraft carriers, destroyers, destroyer-escorts, and cruisers endured boredom while their ships followed zigzag paths through the ocean to discourage successful torpedo attacks and constantly were alert for attacks from the air.

February 26 1925
The showdown with the KKK began. Two years earlier the Klan had successfully taken control of Centerville in the City Council election. Now there was to be a new election. The date was set for March 30 1925. On this day Round 1: Two KKK members entered the City Clerk’s Office in the City Hall just off the Square on West Jackson Street. They filed 7 names for the City Council. They called themselves the “Citizens Ticket.” Two blocks away a group of men who opposed the Klan met in secret in Dr. Bamford’s clinic on South Main Street. What started as a private conversation would soon evolve into political action. (286)

February 27 1949
On this day, a Sunday, Centerville’s radio station KCOG went on the air for the first time. The scene: a packed Centerville High School auditorium. The time: 3 pm. At that moment Robert Irwin, the station manager, spoke into a microphone. “Ladies and Gentlemen: this is radio station KCOG at Centerville Iowa.” And so began the station’s uninterrupted 65 year service to this community. Bouquets, telegrams of congratulations arrived with hundreds of best wishes and hopes for the success of the city’s newest public service. Speakers of the day included Robert “Bob” Beck, president of the new station, Charles DePuy and William Porter, his associates. Mr Beck also introduced Senator Sherman West of Moulton and Mrs.Willard Archie of Shenandoah who were special guests. (Iowegian Feb.28 1949)

©2014 Enfys McMurry All Rights Reserved

 

March

March 1 1941
Ahead of everyone else, President Roosevelt always knew America would be involved in World War 2. The day after his 3rd. inauguration: January 20, 1941, Company G 10 months before Pearl Harbor – received mobilization orders. On March 1st, led by Captain Dewey Bear, 80 men marched out of the Armory on East Jackson ( today’s Hubbard House apartments) and down Drake Avenue singing the ” Iowa Corn Song.” Thousands lined the streets. They were completely silent. Some were crying. Precisely at 10 am, the company departed on a Rock Island train en route to Camp Claiborne, 18 miles south of Alexandria, Louisiana. Their intended stay was for one year. (392-393)

March 2 1923
Less than three months after the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt, women’s clothing stores in Centerville, from Goldstein’s to Frankel’s were selling, said the Iowegian, “Tut hats, Tut gowns, Tut waists, Tut sweaters, Tut gloves, and even Tut headdresses and hairdresses.” In June, a King Tut bathing suit was seen at Centerville’s swimming pool.(297)

March 3 1945
For days the headline in the Iowegian must have struck high anxiety to 3 Appanoose County families: “Conquest of Iwo Cost Nation 4,000 Marines” it read. Their sons were fighting on Iwo Jima…the worst experience of the Pacific War. Rathbun’s Louis Cortesio passed up deferment as a coal miner and at 21 was in the 5th. Marine Division. Second Lieutenant Mick Starcevich was with the 3rd and so was Floyd Fisher of Centerville’s North Park Avenue. When they landed the men immediately sank to their knees in volcanic ash, reducing them to a crawling advance, easy targets for artillery and machine-gun fire and for snipers able to move suicidally close. Men lying wounded were killed from behind by enemy soldiers running along the vast hewn underground networks of paved tunnels. Louis, wounded in both legs was evacuated. So was Mick when a grenade exploded under his leg. But all three men on February 23, witnessed the iconic raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi.

March 4 1933
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was on this day inaugurated for his first term as president. He immediately faced the national calamity of the depression, His first act was to close all banks. When they reopened, 12 Federal Reserve banks were pouring a stream of new currency into the nation’s banking system. Even the Iowegian, which
had strongly opposed President Roosevelt’s election, now considered “…his wise and conscientious action…can make him into a national idol.” All three Centerville banks had remained “rock solid” through the crisis. Such was their record, they were swiftly certified. The 2 national banks – The First National and the Centerville National – reopened on Tuesday, March 14; the town’s private bank – Iowa Trust and Savings – on the 15th.

March 5 1917
The Chicago White Sox, Fast asleep at 3:30 in the morning sped through town on the Rock Island line on their way to spring training at Mineral Springs, Texas. Both the Rock Island and the Burlington offered from Centerville “low priced round-trip tickets” for special events and locations: to the Iowa State Fair, to Kansas City baseball games, to the opening of the Mississippi River Dam in Keokuk. Advertisements invited people to visit the Grand Canyon, to see Yellowstone Park:
“… it belongs to all the people…have you inspected your property?” (165)

March 6 1846
Daniel Boone, living at Femme Osage, Missouri, made long expeditions north . exploring Iowa’s rivers. He left his blaze on a tree at Sand Bank Springs on Shoal Creek. His son, Nathan, was in our area in 1832 leading a unit of US cavalry from Davenport to Kansas City cutting a path named the Dragoon Trail. After the assassination of Joseph Smith, an advance party of Mormons left Nauvoo and, while the Mississippi was still frozen, started their trek west following the same path renaming it The Mormon Trail. There were 72 wagons with 143 Mormon men, 3 women and 2 children. By this date in this month, they were struggling through the mud of Van Buren County. They would reach Appanoose in late March. On the 27th they would camp at East Shoal Creek and there in the vicinity of the “ring of rocks” near Exline, Brigham Young would be officially appointed head of the Mormon Church.(12-13)

March 7 1945
For the Americans, the British, the Canadians and the French Armies, the River Rhine was their last remaining barrier to the conquest of Germany. In Appanoose County, their progress was followed. Radio news bulletins broke into regular broadcasting. Customers listened in stores and in restaurants. Families listened over kitchen tables. Children listened and followed along on world maps pinned to classroom walls. In a futile attempt to delay the Allied advance, German engineers were blowing up the Rhine bridges. They failed at one. They only damaged the old Ludendorff railroad bridge at Remagen. On March 7 it was serendipitously discovered by a small armored patrol of the U.S. First Army. Mystic’s Joe Coates and Centerville’s Bob Nevins were among those who successfully crossed the swaying bridge before it collapsed. But by that time, U.S. engineers, including the 254th with Centerville’s Bob McGuire, were building a replacement pontoon bridge completing the job in 16 hours flat, so ensuring the uninterrupted flow of men and materials across the river.(497)

March 9 1931
At the height of the Depression, the farmers had a new grievance: State veterinarians, hypodermic needles in hand, were moving onto farms enacting an Iowa law making the tuberculin testing of cows compulsory. They injected a single drop of tuberculin- a clear, sterile serum derived from the tuberculosis bacillus- into the thin skin on the underside of a cow’s tail. A red lump at the injection site 48-72 hours later indicated a tubercular cow – one that must be destroyed. A farmer at Moravia wrote to the Iowegian: “…this policy is robbing our farmers of our best cows.” He urged Appanoose County farmers to copy the revolt that what was happening in Cedar County where 1,000 farmers stood shoulder to shoulder forcing State agents to withdraw. In Muscatine, Henry, Des Moines, and Chickasaw Counties, State veterinarians were kicked, showered with water,handfuls of mud and barrages of eggs. They were threatened with guns and clubs and had their automobile tires punctured and their car windows smashed. 200 farmers wielding pitchforks at one farm defied 65 sheriff’s deputies trying to protect the vets. In Appanoose County testing on the County’s 31,082 cows began in March and was completed by September without incident. (332-333)

March 10 1903
Harry Laughlin, Principal of Centerville High School for two years, decided this day to resign. The reason he gave in a letter to his mother was the newly elected Centerville School Board would not appoint him as Superintendent. But, there was another reason – one that emerged in his subsequent appointment. From 1910 to 1939 Harry Laughlin was superintendent of the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island, New York. There he developed his theories of racial superiority. His writings and speeches were on purifying “the breeding stock of the race” with a program that included forced sterilization of people he judged “unsuitable.” From 1907 on, 29 states enacted compulsory sterilization laws, including Iowa. Laughlin gave evidence to a US Congressional committee that resulted in a change in the US immigration policy. Immigration laws, previously open to all who would work, now favored “superior” Nordic immigrants and restricted or eliminated immigrants from southern Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Mr. Laughlin’s theories crossed the Atlantic and were absorbed by Adolph Hitler who fused them with his own inner nightmares, and unleashed them on the world. (190-191)

March 11 1903
In 1935, after Hitler had come to power, after the Nuremberg Laws, the Nazis recognized Laughlin’s influence and gave him an honorary degree from Heidelberg University and described him as “one of the most important pioneers in the field of racial hygiene.” Laughlin was from Kirksville, Missouri … a state without an integrated school system. In Centerville, it must have been traumatic for a man with such a bigotted concept of America, to have to teach the children of African Americans, Jews, southern Italians, Sicilians, Greeks, Turks and Syrians as well as those northern Europeans he considered of “superior stock.” Harry Laughlin laft Cold Harbor and returned to Kirksville. He died there in 1943. His illness was kept a secret but it is believed he suffered from epilepsy … one of the very conditions for which he had advocated sterilization. His home, a red brick structure, is still on Truman State campus. In that letter to his mother, complaining about being denied the superintendency of Centerville, he ended with the words: “I didn’t want the place anyhow.” (190-191)

March 12 1913
When Iowa granted partial female suffrage, Frances Goss-her husband Thomas was the son of abolitionist Joe Goss- ran for the Centerville School Board, She was elected, topping the poll over 3 well-known men. Her initiative, leadership and independent ideas swiftly propelled her to becoming chairman of the board. In 1916, a statewide amendment granting women the vote lost. But in Appanoose County IT PASSED. This means the County’s all-male voters supported the amendment, and they did so by a sizeable majority. In another 4 years the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution-the right to vote would not be denied on account of sex-became the law of the land. Appanoose women swiftly registered. (270)

March 13 1905
As the new County Courthouse approached completion, James Wooden wanted to show appreciation to the people of Centerville for the years of his successful businesses, He ordered the clock from the Seth Thomas Company of Chicago to be placed in the tower. It arrived by train. So did the one-thousand bell that would ring out the hours and so did Walter J. Buckley representing the Seth Thomas Company to oversee the clock’s installation. Getting the bell to the tower created a problem. Local builders came to assist. Townspeople gathered to watch. From a platform on the building’s west side, the bell was lifted by a derrick. It was then swung along a cable that stretched over the roof from the building’s chimney to the inside of the tower. Six days later, on March 13th, 1905, Wooden received a subpoena from Judge Eichelberger ordering him to give evidence in court. He arrived in the dark from his home ( the Columns) as the clock, for the first time, struck the hour. It was 8 p.m. Immediately Major Landers and the 51st Regimental Band struck up “Hail to the Chief,” and a large crowd greeted a surprised Wooden with a reception and expressions of gratitude.(146-147)

March 14 1929
One month after the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the Chicago police were still trying to solve the crime. Major Calvin Goddard, a pioneer in forensic ballistics moved to Chicago. He tested the .45 bullets fired into the victims from a Tommy gun and found they matched the bullets that had killed Frankie Yale who had been killed in New York City. Yale’s murder was the first by a Tommy gun. This gun was invented by Oscar V. Payne of Centerville in 1920 when he worked at the U.S.Army Ordnance Department headed by General John Thompson. Payne’s invention was designed for military use. (General John Thompson’s name not that of Payne’s is given to the gun.) But by March, the Chicago police were naming a Fred Burke. Burke had multiple aliases and was well known in Centerville under the name Jack Burke. He was presenting himself here as a roofing contractor. He “flashed diamonds and a bloated bank-roll in a blasé manner,” said the Iowegian. Accompanying him was a Centerville girl who had worked in a Centerville hotel. If the people of Centerville did not yet connect Fred Burke to Jack Burke, they had good reason. They were still processing the shock of the Fulton Rice murder.(363-364)

March 15 1918
Company D of the 168th Infantry in World War 1 were fighting east of Paris: Champagne, Ourcq, Chateau Thierry, St. Mihiel, Soissons and the Argonne. The men marched the distances between battles in full kits and in shoes so inadequate they left blood stains on the snow.They survived bombardments described as “paralyzing” and “crushing,” repeated gas attacks and peppering by machine-gun fire delivered from (the Red Baron) Von Richthofen’s scarlet-nosed Fokker aircraft that circled, plunged and looped above them, yellow scarves flowing out behind the pilots. In World War 2, Richard Southern of Moulton, fighting with the U.S.First Army towards the German border reached Soissons and Chateau Thierry. He was conscious he was stepping on ground where his father had fought 20 years previously in World War 1 and where hundreds of Americans lay beneath the white crosses at Soissons cemetery. (221 & 480)

March 16 1945
With the news that the U.S. First Army had crossed the River Rhine, people in Appanoose County were reading of more Rhine crossings. Patton’s 3rd Army was crossing at Oppenheim, 75 miles south of Remagen. With Patton were Rathbun’s “Sol” Kauzlarich, Moravia’s Marvin Gardner, Udell’s Glenn Cridlebaugh, and Herbert Burr. Herbert won a Congressional Medal of Honor: he single-handedly drove a tank over a German 88 mm antitank gun at point blank range, deliberately sideswiped and overturned a German truck and then, through a hail of gunfire, aided wounded companions. His sister, Blanche, lived on East Van Buren; her husband, Troy Smith, ran the DX station across from the Majestic. The next crossing was that of the British, Canadians, and the U.S.9th at the Lower Rhine meeting up with Allied paratroopers dropped across the river, the 4 groups in the process trapping thousands of German soldiers. At the same time, south of Patton, the U.S. 7th Army was crossing at Worms. Private 1st Class Max Exline whose sister lived south of Moulton, was noting the date and the time: March 28, 6:30 in the evening. Centerville surveyor, Technical Sgt. Keith Gregory was studying maps of the territory ahead. One army remained, the furthest south, the French. They crossed at Speyer on the last day of this month. All 8 armies were now on the Rhine’s eastern shore, connecting with each other and forming joint phalanxes. (497-498)

March 17 (multiple years)
There were many Irish among the diverse immigrants that came into Appanoose County. They spoke English: this made their assimilation easy. The first were the Irish Catholics who laid the Chicago, Rock Island and Southwestern track. They shopped at Irishman Patrick Walsh’s grocery shop and post office on the Levee’s east side at 1219-1221 South 18th Street. (Walsh Street commemorates the location). They celebrated mass on Sundays in the Clinton Hotel just north of the Rock Island depot sharing a priest with other communities until the first St. Mary’s Catholic Church was built on the site of the present church. With the beginning of coal mining, more Irish arrived, including the McConville brothers. They were Irish Catholic ironstone workers in the granite mines of County Down. They’d been forced to coalface work in Scottish mines by the Irish Potato Famine. In Appanoose they became coalowners, one of 11 Appanoose coal owners described as “…all splendid men…no better men ever pressed beneath their feet the soil of God’s footstool.” But some Irish, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, expounding upon the virtues and achievements of St. Patrick, got drunk and started fighting with rocks, bricks, curses and “vile execrations.” Those who were sober declared they were Fenians ready to fight any Englishman, and if the English enlisted Canadians to fight in Ireland, they were armed and ready to raid, to go north across the border and take on “the Canucks.” ( There were several invasions of Canada by American Fenians. They all failed. There is no record of any Irishman from Appanoose being involved.) (88&99&204).

March 18 1865
Mail from the Civil War arrived late at night in sacks delivered by a rider on horseback. People waited at the post office, then on the south side of the Square. “Granddad” Manson was often assigned to open the letters and in March such a letter arrived. It was addressed to Jonathan Stratton, the surveyor of Centerville. The letter reported the death of Stratton’s 15-year old son Charley, Company D’s curly- headed drummer boy, so loved by the soldiers he was looked on as a mascot. “He was killed on the skirmish line,” said the letter, “the ball entering his left breast and if it did not pass through the heart, it was very near and caused his death almost instantly. I did not see him until after he was dead but the boys who saw him said he walked a few steps and fell and did not speak after he was struck. He was the life and spirit of the mess and there has been a cloud over us ever since his death…Hoping that you may be able to bear up under this dreadful news.” That night in the post office with “Granddad” Manson was his granddaughter, 10-year old Mary. Before he took the letter to the Stratton family, Mary remembered he took her home and knelt in prayer. As the news spread, all of Centerville grieved too. (58). (Charley Stratton was the last Appanoose soldier to be killed in the Civil War. You’ll find his name on the Civil War Monument on the Courthouse Square.)

March 19 1924
This was the night, the KKK clearly announced their presence in Centerville. It was evening. Four blocks southwest of the Square, a dull red light glowed at the back of the High School. Suddenly it intensified. A cross, 8 feet high and 5 feet wide burst into flames, flaring into the dark night for 2 hours. Moments later, a second cross burned, this in full view on top of Cemetery Hill, just east of town. (277)

March 20 1929
With the Depression, the number of transients increased. They were not “bums” allergic to work. These were “hoboes”. They were men out of work and seeking employment. Many appeared respectable, clean, timid about asking for aid. They offered services in exchange for food. Jim Spooner, the night watchman, had the most contact with them. Throughout the winters he ran one of Centerville’s “hobo hotels”- the heated City Council’s chambers. The room had 2 nicknames: “Spooner Hotel” and “The Walled Off Astoria.” Arriving transients collected newspapers from the mayor’s office, spread them as mattresses on the pine board floor and rolled their coats for pillows. There was a separate room with a toilet, mirror, hot and cold water, soap and towels.(340-341)

March 21 1935
The 1930′s and 40′s were considered the “golden age” for local schools. Students were winning academic awards, their debate teams winning contests, the High Schools band regional and and national prizes, its individual members #1 ratings year after year. In 28 games the Centerville boys’ football team never lost. In the 1935 Season it was undefeated and untied. Centerville girls’ basketball team, the Redettes, went to state championships 5 times. They won state championship in 1935 and again in 1936 and were finalists in 1937 and 1938. (377)

March 22 1931
Appanoose County, on this date, was Iowa’s leading coal-producing county. After the coal troubles of 1927 and 1928 local coal mines were fighting back. The miners at 2 local mines-the Sunshine and the McConville North- were breaking records for daily outputs. Those at the Empire Coal Company were treating their furnace coal with a solution of calcium chloride. They called it “dustless.” To ship the coal around the Midwest, they bought 12 railroad cars. On the outsides they painted scenes of the Empire coal mine, even a slag pile surrounded by trees, a map of Iowa showing the location of Centerville and the words “The Home of 8,000 Friendly People and Empire Dustless Fuel.”(328)

March 23 1945
By this date in 1945, the U.S.1st Army was travelling north from Remagen on the east side of the river Rhine at breakneck speed, Joe Coates of Mystic admiring the quality of the German autobahn. So fast did the 1st Army move that its spearheads lost contact with headquarters. The 1st met with the U.S.9th moving south from the Lower Rhine. Together the 2 armies formed a steel ring, a giant pincers around the German industrial Ruhr. The German armies, thus enclosed and trapped and bombed, eventually collapsed. The number of German prisoners: 325,000. Among the prisoners was Germany’s former chancellor Franz Von Papen captured by Lieut. Thomas McKinley well-known in Centerville through his friendship with Centerville’s jockey family, the Garners. (498)

March 25 1905
In July 1898, 25-year old Joe Frankel arrived in Centerville on an early morning Rock Island train from Peoria, Illinois. Six years previously in his native Poland, he’d been denied promotion because he was a Jew. The same grounds barred him from a university education. As he climbed aboard the street car that morning and traveled up to the Square, he came as a representative for one of his 3 brothers already running businesses in Peoria. In his pocket was a letter of introduction to Aaron Grinspan. That letter also introduced him to Aaron’s daughter Minnie. By 1905, married for 3 years to Minnie and the father of a one-year old daughter, Joe entered partnership with his father-in-law. On this day, they opened the Grinspan-Frankel store on the Square’s southwest corner. Taylor’s orchestra played music. One hundred dozen carnations were presented to the customers who attended on the first day. (Today,the name “Frankel” can be seen over the door to the left of Brown’s Shoe Store). (177)

March 26 1931
The news broke early. At first light 4 policemen from St.Joseph, Missouri and 3 from Milan-all armed with Tommy guns(don’t forget Oscar V..Payne !) and shotguns -surrounded the farm house of Barney Porter 20 miles south of Centerville in Sullivan County. Inside, Fred Burke,living there under the alias Richard F. White and under suspicion of being the main gunman at the St. Valentine’s Massacre, was asleep. When arrested, he offered no resistance. He was processed in St.Joseph, Missouri and extradited to St.Joseph, Michigan. There he stood trial for the murder of a policeman, 24-year old Charles Skelly. He was found guilty. Burke died in Marquette State Penitentiary of natural causes on July 10, 1940. While Burke was and remains the chief suspect for the St.Valentine’s Day Massacre, no one was ever charged with this crime. The bullets taken from the victims, and the bullets that killed Frankie Yale in New York City, all were shown forensically to have been fired from the guns found in Burke’s (he was then under the alias Fred Dane) house at Stevensville, Michigan. (364-369)

March 27 1931
With the arrest of Fred Burke-”Richard F. White”- Centerville was in shock. The people here who’d met him thought him “…a nice quiet middle aged broker taking life easy.” The Rev. Wenzel Bloom of the Lutheran Church who’d married “White” to Bonnie Porter at his home on East Walsh Street, harbored some doubts. “I did not exactly like the man’s appearance when he came to my home… My chief thought was that he was too old a man to marry the girl…[and] Burke had the appearance of a man who leads a somewhat loose sort of life [but] he seemed a perfect gentleman. Having no reason for not performing the ceremony and with local acquaintances of the bride acting as witnesses the ceremony was performed.” The acquaintances were Bonnie’s aunt Eliza Stuckey of South Main Street and her neighbor, Ethel Swanson. It was the alert observations of Joe Hunsaker, the 29-year old gas attendant at Green City’s Shell Gas Station who correctly identified Burke. Others thought him suspicious. Saline Vance, the grandmother of Patsy Bunnell, didn’t like the way he looked around over a crowd. “I think he’s a hoodlum,” she told her family. (366-368)

March 29 1945
On the far side of the Pacific, the battle scene was moving 900 miles west of Iwo Jima, 900 miles ever closer to Japan. On these last days of March a combined U.S. and British Pacific fleet was bombing and shelling Okinawa. This island was to be the staging ground for the invasion of Japan. Around Okinawa an armada of 13,000 U.S. ships moved into position. So did 10 U.S. Navy men: all from Appanoose County. In the same area were 900 Japanese aircraft, 300 hundred of them on kamikaze suicide missions. Men aboard the U.S.S. Patterson watched, seeing “one plane after the other his nose into the air, twisted onto his back….dive straight into his target.” At the radar screen of the U.S.S.Patterson Mystic’s (now of Exline) John Golden identify one of the first attacks. He picked up a group of enemy planes closing at 37 miles. The officer on watch at first didn’t accept John’s identification. John persisted, now identifying the group as 6-8 planes closing at 25 miles. At this point his identification was accepted, reported and confirmed over the radio’s warning network. But it was too late. The Japanese planes were already diving. (Later John received a commendation for his identification that day.) (500)

March 30 1925
City Election Day 1925. Two parties faced each other in the biggest showdown in Centerville history: The KKK Citizens ticket versus the anti-Klan Lincoln League. Everywhere was quiet. No one wanted to jeopardize his vote or pay a heavy fine. Sheriff Gaughenbaugh warned any disturbance, any infraction of the law, would meet with speedy arrest and punishment. Five State agents and a company of the National Guard were held ready in case of any unrest. When Gaughenbaugh learned many men from neighboring towns were coming to Centerville “to see the fun,” he said, “There ainta gonna be no fun.” The polls closed at 7 p.m. The counting began. The Lincoln League swept the polls, with majorities at each precinct from 500-900 votes. As the result became known, the celebration on Centerville Courthouse Square was instant…it continued into the early hours of the morning. (288)

March 31 1925
“Lincoln League Win Election” was the KKK’s succinct headline in their newspaper, The Southern Iowa American the next morning. The Iowegian read, “Lincoln League Wins in Monster Vote.” The Hearst International News and the Associated Press carried the result across the State. If the headlines of the 2 newspapers were not widely divergent, their coverage of the town’s election night celebration was. To the Iowegian, it was ” a hilarious display of joy.” To the KKK newspaper it resembled “a charivari with cowbells and fireworks…vulgar and obscene language was used promiscuously and women were insulted.” “Charity for All” wrote Jesse Beck at the Iowegian on November 4th quoting Ulysses S. Grant at the end of the Civil War. The day after the election, a small notice appeared in the KKK newspaper. It said ” Your pledge of ten dollars is due.” It was signed by a fictitious company, “Southern Oil, Land and Development.” The initials, it was noted, created a code: SOLD. (289-290)

©2014 Enfys McMurry All Rights Reserved

 

April

April 1st 1945
On this day Centerville’s Lieutenant Joe Wilson took off from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Savo Island. He flew his Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter in the first wave of bombing raids over Okinawa. As Joe banked and turned, he saw the 2nd wave of aircraft moving within seconds laterally below him and on the sea’s surface thousands of landing craft full of U.S.marines and infantry approaching the shore. Among those marines was Centerville’s 17 year old J.B.Kelley. J.B. had been one of the first marines on to the deadly beaches of Saipan. On Okinawa he would face worse.(498)

April 2 1931
The value of Appanoose County land in this Depression year was in free fall. An acre, previously worth $75-$125, now sold for $10-$15. On the market, oats commanded 8 cents a bushel, corn 12 cents, pork 3 cents a pound and beef per pound 5 cents. Farmers were unable to pay bank mortgages. This placed the still open banks in crisis. Two banks, Centerville National and the Commercial State, merged. The 4 banks on Centerville Square placed a 2-cent tax on each written check. More banks closed: Mystic Industrial Savings, the National in Seymour and 3 State Savings– one in Moulton, one in Dean, and one in Moravia. Then came the biggest shock. A notice appeared on the door of the Wooden State Savings on the Square’s Westside (today’s Cosby’s): its business was “…temporarily suspended for the purpose of possible readjustment.” (331-332)

April 3 1902
Governor Drake’s son John appeared on the cover of the April 3 edition of William Randolph Hearst’s Chicago American . John Drake had bought an automobile imported from France for William K. Vanderbilt Jr. The auto was known as “The White Ghost” and it was judged to be “voodooed”. Vanderbilt had driven it 138 miles from New York to Boston and back. On the journey the auto had killed 2 dogs and injured a man. Vanderbilt sold it to Edward Thomas. Thomas agreed the car was bad luck when he drove it on a New York Street and killed 7-year old Harry Theiss. Drake’s friends thought Drake’s “long delayed nemesis was at last upon him.” Drake said he wasn’t superstitious. His horses at large horse races were know to wear the #13 and many of them won. That Chicago American article was the stimulus for the first cars bought by Appanoose County people. The first was a Hayes Apperson bought by William Willett of Moulton. The second: a one-cylinder Cadillac bought by Dr. Elbert Heaton.

April 6 and 7 1862
When news reached the town of the Northern victory at Shiloh, rejoicing was quickly followed by the sobering lists of casualties: 20, 000 men dead, 8, 000 of those Union soldiers and of those, 1 in 4 were Iowans. Iowa’s 6th Infantry( chiefly from Appanoose County) lost 52 men killed outright, 98 wounded – many mortally, 37 were missing and many taken prisoner. Of Centerville’s Company D, 4 were dead, 9 in hospital, and 2 were prisoners on their way to Andersonville. The role of the 6th Infantry was pivotal to the Union victory at Shiloh. Its soldiers were part of the Hornets’ Nest stand. Outnumbered 4,500 to 18,000, these farm boys from Iowa and Illinois, the boys from Appanoose County fighting shoulder to shoulder with those from neighboring Wayne County, fought with tenacity for 6 hours, giving Ulysses S. Grant the critical time to regroup his army and win the battle he was previously losing. (41)

April 7 1918
For its victims it began with a headache. Following came aching muscles, uncontrollable shivering, burning eyes, ascending fever and delirium. Blood invaded urine, sputum, and saliva. The face and feet darkened, the patient gasped for air. Death followed – by drowning. The source of the 1918 flu epidemic remains a mystery. What began the outbreak first was a mild form. Following months later came the highly infectious variety when half a million Americans died. Worldwide the number was 20 million to 100 million. In Centerville the Iowegian reported the initial mild form on April 8: “An epidemic of an ailment resembling la grippe, which has been afflicting many of the residents of Centerville the past week, seems to have entered the school Friday, and the afternoon session in some rooms was attended by only a very few pupils…It seldom develops into anything serious…lasting only two or three days and in some cases only one day.” Within a month, Centerville’s “mild” disease had caused 5 deaths. The ages of the victims were an ominous portent: 13-month old Francis Underwood, 18-year old Charles Bailey, 23-year old soldier Kirk McDonald, 27-year old teacher Fanny Dwyer-Brownfield, and 77-year old Civil War veteran Oliver Hiatt. Then in September, the lethal form arrived. (231-232)

April 8 1931-3
As banks closed and stores went out of business, state salaries were cut – so were grants to universities, institutions and hospitals. The salaries of Centerville’s mayor and all city employees were cut by 20%. Centerville School Board reduced the salaries of its teachers by 5%. Clarence McCracken, the Appanoose County Superintendent, dropped $100 from his own salary. The Manager of the Western Union office on South Main received instruction from headquarters that all money orders were not to exceed $50. Justice of the Peace D.W.Bryan resigned saying his office was not generating enough income to justify continuing. For 2 years – 1929 & 1930 – no advertisements appeared in the Centerville High School yearbook. In 1933 there was no yearbook at all. Local photographer R.C.Link offered a substitution. he took every senior’s picture free of charge. (335-336)

April 9 1940
For 7 months, Hitler held his fire against the French and the British. It was called the “phony war.” Then suddenly. dramatically, Hitler invaded Denmark and Norway. In Centerville, businessmen John Jensen and Pete Hansen, both immigrants from Denmark – Hansen with 400 family members in one Danish city – failed to get responses from relatives. Neither did Exline’s Norwegian immigrant Ann Henshaw, whose cousins Gudrun, Finn, and Sigrid lived in Oslo- a city then being bombed. There were no delusions in Centerville. They waited for Hitler’s next invasion. Their wait would last just one month: May 10. (387-388)

April 10 1945
As U.S. victories penetrated ever further and further across the western Pacific, island airfields were built allowing B-29 Superfortress aircraft to bomb mainland Japan. The first target was the Musashi aero-engine plant on the edge of Tokyo. One of the B-29 pilots appointed to do this was Plano’s 26-year old Gerald DeVore. His crew witnessed that both bombs and rockets had hit the factory. “It was burning and smoking,” Gerald reported.(483)

April 11 1922
Radio was the craze. Starting it was Harry Luther in a shop next door to the original Iowegian office on North Main. Using 2 vacuum tubes. a condenser, receiver, loop aerials, batteries and headphones, he created the town’s first radio receiving set. Seventeen months later, 50 radios were known to be operating in Appanoose County. The second week of April 1922, William Bradley was busy installing the town’s first radio station. He placed it in the First National Bank on the Square’s north side (Grothe’s former law office). Workmen erected an aerial on the roof. The station was one of eight in Iowa. It had its own power plant. It delivered 500 watts of electrical energy at 1,000 volts direct current, tapping some from the Interurban trolley wire. The station radiated three-and-a half amperes in the antenna, drawing 220 milliamperes plate current. Its call letters were WDAX. Its first day of broadcasting was April 13. ( 293-294)

April 12 1861
At 4:30 am on this morning, the guns of the Confederate States of America opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. After 34 hours of bombardment, the fort surrendered. Three days later President Abraham Lincoln appealed for 75,000 volunteers from the North to suppress the revolt and preserve the Union. Samuel Morse’s invention of the telegraph relayed his message around the country. Davenport, on the far side of the Mississippi’s River’s ,first bridge was its most westerly receiving station. U.S.congressman William Vandever of Iowa carried the telegram from there on horseback a further 50 miles west, finding Iowa Governor Samuel Kirkwood in overalls and boots tending stock on his farm 2 miles up river from Iowa City at Coralville. “Why the President wants a whole regiment of men!” Kirkwood said. “Do you suppose, Mr Vandever, I can raise that many?” By the time Kirkwood’s proclamation traveled by stagecoach and horseback to Iowa’s county towns and from there to local townships, there were enough volunteers to fill 10 regiments.(32)

April 13 1945
The headline in this morning’s paper was large: “World Mourns Roosevelt!” Beneath it: “Harry S. Truman Leads Nation.” The president had died suddenly and unexpectedly of a “massive” cerebral hemorrhage at 3:35 pm the previous day (the 12th) while staying at his Pine Mountain cottage in Warm Springs, Georgia. The news reached Centerville via radio in the early hours of the morning. C.A.Farrington, head of the Appanoose County Telephone Company. reported that for one-and-a-half hours, the local telephone office (on 13th Street), with a double complement of operators, could not cope with the tremendous numbers of calls coming in. The news broke as the shifts changed. Because of the emergency, both shifts were held for duty. The electricity required to operate the board jumped from a normal 10 ampere of electricity to 22. Mayor Clarence Hood proclaimed a period of respect, mourning and prayer for the following day, Saturday 14, between 3 and 5 in the afternoon, when the president’s funeral service would be nationally broadcast from the East Room of the White House. Robert Baker, the manager of the Majestic and the Ritz, arranged with NBC for the funeral to be broadcast in both theatres. Due to the Jewish custom of not holding services for the dead on Saturdays, Centerville’s Jewish businesses closed on Friday as soon as the news broke. Local Jews gathered for services in their synagogue on Terry and 15th Streets. All flags in town and in all outlying villages were lowered to half mast.(502)

April 14 1912
April 1912: people learned the shocking news of the sinking of the Titanic. The Iowegian’s headline was followed by a second, also shocking to Appanoose people: “Mystic Man Loses Wife and Children.” The Mystic man was Franck Lefebre. He was an immigrant from Lievin in the northernmost part of France, known as the Nord-Pas-de-Calais. He worked in Mystic’s Lodwick mine with his 13-year old son, Anselme. Franck had saved money and sent tickets to his wife, Marie, and their 4 children – 15-year old Mathilde; 11-year old Jeanne; 8-year old Henri; and 6-year old Ida. The 5 boarded the Titanic at Southampton on April 10, traveled steerage, and were victims in the catastrophe on April 14. The bodies of Marie and her 4 children were never recovered, or if they were, they were never identified. Three months later, Franck was arrested in Mystic by immigration inspectors, brought in to Centerville on the Interurban, and spent the night in the County jail. He had entered the U.S. illegally, travelling with and living in Mystic with another Madame Lefebre. She, Franck, and Anselme were deported back to Lieven on July 30, 1912.

April 16 1861
By this date (4 days after the fall of Fort Sumter) the news that President Lincoln wanted volunteers to fight for the preservation of the Union, was the talk of Appanoose County. In the 1860 election Appanoose had voted for Lincoln’s opponent. But Centerville’s reaction to the national crisis was immediate. Flags were placed at the old log-cabin courthouse, the school, the churches, the private businesses. In the school off the northeast corner of the Square, the school year was almost over. The students were anticipating a long, hot summer. Lincoln’s call changed their lives, their intentions. “The big boys all talked war morning noon and night,” said Kos Harris, a younger student. As soon as school was over, their teacher, Madison M. Walden enlisted as one of the town’s first 3 volunteers. Joining him were another teacher, William Rhodes from Cincinnati, and from across the Square, shopkeeper John Bashore. Within days they were joined by mechanics, farmers, high school graduates, abolitionists, sons of the town’s  pioneers, and those who had voted for Lincoln. There were entire families: 4 Zimmer sons, aged 18-22, and their grey-haired father, all walking 8 miles south into Centerville Square from Walnut Township. “There was no recruiting office,” said John W. Fuller, “there was just a parade marching along the streets with flags flying and drums beating and all you had to do to get in the war was walk out and get into the marching column.” (32-33)

April 17 1925
Nellie Walker was born in Red Oak but from infancy on, Moulton was her hometown. Her father was Moulton’s stone carver and monument maker. Nellie watched him work and occasionally used his tools. At 17 she made a bust of Abraham Lincoln. It was displayed at the Columbian Exposition of 1893. This bust can be seen today in the Garrett Memorial Library in Moulton. Another of her works can also be seen in Moulton: an early version of her statue: The Benediction. Nellie was just 4′ 8″ in height, an unlikely physical size to be a sculptor working with large stones. But Nellie was one of the most outstanding sculptors in the nation in a day when women were not supposed to consider such a profession. She worked for 6 years as a legal secretary and saved her money to attend the nation’s prestigious Art Institute of Chicago. From then until her death in 1973, she produced one sculpture after another. They include Chief Keokuk in Keokuk, Iowa: and Soldiers of 1812 at Springfield, Illinois. Her most famous work was a statue of James Harlan, Iowa Senator. It stood in the Hall of the Columns in the U.S. Senate until it was replaced recently with one of Iowa’s Norman Borlaug. Nellie died in 1973. She is buried in Row 34 at Moulton’s Oakland Cemetery, on J5T, west of town. (reference only on 270-271)

April 18 1942
There was a raid in the Pacific on April 18 that was morale boosting for Americans. It was 4 months and 10 days after Pearl Harbor. Eighty crewmen in 16 B-25s, led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, took off from an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S.Hornet, 650 miles from the Japanese coast, on a potential suicide mission to bomb Tokyo. With the B-25s’ limited range, the planes could not hope to return. The bombs were dropped on Tokyo and 4 other Japaneses cities. The planes then flew on, some to the safely of China, some crash landing, some crewmen bailing out, some captured. As they left the Hornet,, escort planes flew part way. The pilot of one, flying his F4F Grumman Wildcat fighter, was Centerville’s ace pilot, Johnny Talbot. (416-417)

April 18 1865
Lincoln had been shot on the evening of Friday, April 14. 1865. He died at 7:22 the next morning. The news didn’t reach Centerville until the 18th. It arrived on the front pages of the Keokuk Daily Gate City and the Burlington Hawkeye. Thick broad bands bordered each column separating an editorial and 23 telegraphed bulletins. Centerville and the County went into mourning. Church bells tolled; the courthouse windows were draped in black. People walked softly, they spoke in whispers and they wrapped the hooves of the horses to muffle the sound. The Chicago Weekly Journal arrived at the Williams tin shop on the north side of the Square. People read the editorial: “The cup of our calamity is full. The crime of the ages has been committed. The climax of our anguish has been reached.” West of town, the J.S.Stamps family shared a copy of the Burlington Argus and its description of “the terrible tragedy which has deprived the nation of its Chief Magistrate.” In response to a proclamation by Iowa’s Governor Stone, Thursday the 27th of April was declared a day of mourning . People gathered at the town’s churches to pray. Travel was brought to a halt, and all secular employment was suspended. The murder of President Lincoln caused the ground in Appanoose to change. People recognized in Lincoln his humanity, his magnaminous heart, his sense of justice, and his vision of the American creed implicit in the words of the Declaration of Independence. His death lifted Lincoln to mythic proportions. (59-60)

April 19 1945
Six days after the death of President Roosevelt, there was another death. This death was a personal loss to everyone who read his columns – a much larger emotional loss to the GI’s he loved. Ernie Pyle was killed on the 10-square island of Ie Shima, west of Okinawa. He died when shot by a Japanese sniper on April 18, 1945, the news reaching the nation on the 19th. On his body was the rough draft of his next column, in which he anticipated victory in Europe. He wrote that his heart was still in Europe , but he was now with the American boys in ” the other war not yet ended.” (508)

April 20 1897
Women examined the crime records of Centerville. Alcohol they said was responsible for “a tenfold increase in crime.” Nine-and a half miles west of Centerville the citizens of Plano took action. When a “blind tiger” was raided twice, they demolished the building. Centerville women met at Mrs, William Salters’s family home. They discussed tactics. Then, armed with hatchets and hammers, they marched to the Keokuk and Western viaduct and destroyed the Kinder Saloon. They smashed the counter, beer cases and bottles. They then tackled 2 more saloons on 18th Street-the Levee. Two days later their numbers increased to by 5. Sixteen women attacked the Johnson Saloon, known as “vinegar hill,” and 3 more saloons on the Levee. The situation now was almost a riot, with a lot of shouting, at least 2 injuries and several arrests. (108-109)

April 21 1917
In World War One, the recruiting office was placed in the front window of the Goldstein store on the Square’s west side. It was decorated in national colors, large flags, recruiting posters sent by the State, a copy of an 1856 newspaper carrying the news of President Lincoln’s assassination and a table for the recruiter, Lieutenant Harry Peavey. Crowds watched on the sidewalk. New recruits sat on chairs, then they stood one by one, right arm raised, and took the federal oath. There were sudden explosions of light as photographer Ray Link took flashbulb pictures. Outside the Centerville town band played patriotic music. Everywhere were the colors red, white and blue. Festoons of bunting decorated the Courthouse; people carried individual flags handed them by members of the Association of Commerce; they wore smaller ones or red, white and blue ribbons in their coat lapels. Fleets of automobiles carried the new recruits, recruiter Peavey, citizens led by Mayor Fox and the town band to outlying County towns, where they were greeted with more patriotic music, the waving of flags and cheering as new volunteers stepped forward. (215-216)

April 22 1910
This was the day when the Interurban service between Centerville and Mystic began with a special dedication run. On board were the 165 bond subscribers in Centerville and Mystic who had made the Interurban possible. Among the group were J.A. and D.C. Bradley, who had contributed together almost $22,000 and whose father, William Bradley, had come to Centerville in 1856, establishing one successful business after another. Also present were Jesse M.Beck, editor of the Iowegian, and Frank Payne, whose vision of extending Centerville Square’s business 8 years previously was now realized. The group posed before the camera. The day was cool. They wore hats and overcoats. One supported himself on a cane. They were handed folders with information on the quality of the construction, the power additions, the improvements planned, and the security of their investments. They declared themselves well pleased.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
At 7:30 every morning, 2 passenger cars of the Interurban departed from the east side
of Centerville’s Courthouse Square. They proceeded up North Main, turned west on Madison to 7th Street, then north for the 25-minute journey to Mystic. A conductor collected the fares: 20 cents one way, $1.00 for 3 round trips. In a 5-minute stop in Mystic, the motorman climbed to the top of the cars and adjusted controls allowing them to change directions, leaving Mystic for Centerville at 8 am a pattern repeated every hour. (171)

April 23 1922
People for days were talking about the Saturday night event. Seven days after its installation, WDAX joined with The Centerville Journal for a broadcast concert featuring all-local artists. More than 1,000 people packed 12th Street from Maple to the Square. They waited outside the Journal office. They watched Jack Porter operating his receiver set in the front window. The program began at 7:30 from the First National Bank broadcasting station. The signal was sent to the Journal office, and Jack Porter transmitted it to a Magnavox loudspeaker located in the transom over the door. The listeners heard the jazz of local boy Paul Beer and his Synchopatin’ Five; Mrs. Gladys Cooper, the popular Centerville soprano, in a selection including “Myfanwy,” a love song from her native Wales; a 3-minute address on Clean-Up Week from the Reverend Mott Sawyers; John and Patrick McConville playing a duet on a dulcimer and accordion and causing “a sensation”; the Harmony Four Male Quartet in a selection including “My Wild Irish Rose,” “Peggy O’Neill” and “Until the Dawn”; and Miss Marjorie Piper in a violin solo titled “Souvenir.” The reception was described as “in fine shape.” As an overflow crowd at the Majestic 4 blocks away listened to the Harmony Four begin “Peggy O’Neill” the Majestic orchestra, spontaneously, began playing the accompaniment very softly and to the delight of the audience. (294)

April 24 1942
In World War 2, Charles DePuy at the Iowegian began a new column, called “Columns Write.” “It will be dedicated,” he wrote on April 24 (the first day), “to the men at the front…a sort of central exchange for news from the home folks to the boys and vice versa.” For the next 4 years, “Columns Write” featured excerpts from the men’s letters, excerpts that had passed military censors.The Moulton Tribune and the Mystic Sentinel did the same. The first letters from the men overseas came from Company G in Northern Ireland. They described the beauty of the Irish countryside, with its trim hedges and thatched roofs, and narrow streets – “narrower than pill row,” wrote one. The letters came from New Guinea describing the fish, the coconuts and the bananas. There was a transoceanic radio interview from Australia: Mrs. Opal Buscemi at the Blue Bird Cafe on the south side of the Square heard her nephew, ace army photographer John Buscemi. His work was appearing in Yank magazine and in the Saturday Evening Post people were buying at Allen’s bookstore on the Square east side. (431)

April 25 1864
This is the day of disaster for Appanoose’s 36th Infantry at Marks Mill in the Civil War. And its the day of near disaster for Lieutenant Colonel Francis Marion Drake.(54) (Read Doc McConville’s marvelous accounts of this day…he’s the expert, I can’t come close.) 61 Years later in our history:

April 25 1925
From the Square, 3 motor coaches replaced the electric trolley service to the railroad stations. They took passengers from the Bradley Building (today: Morgan’s Ice-Cream Parlor) north of East State Stree taround the Square to Main Street. They then followed the same route south to meet arriving and departing trains. The buses were green and cream. They had nickel fittings. People entered through a hinged door; they sat on leather-covered seats; they walked on regulation streetcar rubber matting. There were electric lights with frosted window shades and ivory push buttons to open and close windows The cash fare was 10 cents per person or 25 cents for 4 tickets bought in the waiting room.(322)

April 26 1945
By this date in late April, the Western Allies were rolling, almost unopposed, east to the River Elbe. The Russians were ringing Berlin. Spearheads of the U.S.9th and U.S.First met the Russians at Torgau. An American officer and a Russian private quirmed across a girder on a blown bridge over the river, pounded each other on the back and, amid smiles and a “Put it there,” shook hands. Germany was severed. Russians greeted Americans, among them Joe Coates, Bob McGuire, and Bob Nevins all from Centerville. At the same time, Patton’s 3rd, with Centerville’s “Sol” Kauzlarich, Moravia’s Marvin Gardner and other soldiers, including Moulton’s Elvin Jay, were advancing through southern Germany – to Berchtesgarden, Hitler’s retreat, and on into Czechoslovakia. Deep into Germany, what the men saw….would soon shock the world and give images to the soldiers they would spend their lifetimes never forgetting.(505)

April 27 1927
Feelings between the miners were reaching boiling point. The fight was between 2 unions: The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) members wanting $7:50 a day and now on strike, and the United Brotherhood of Miners accepting $5:00 a day and all members employed. The UMWA held a mass meeting on the south side of the Courthouse. One thousand members listened to speakers for 5 hours, and after a break, several more hours in the evening. The coal owners were called “cowards”; the Brotherhood it was said was seeking to “betray” the miners with “subtle and poisonous influences” and , worse, was in league with the coal owners to break the UMWA. The next 2 mass meetings, a week apart, were held in Mystic. Mystic had long been a center of union activity. National speakers had addressed crowds there: “Big Bill” Haywood, Eugene Debs, John L.Lewis on multiple occasions and Mother Jones, beloved by miners across the country and whose rallying cry was “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” When 3 more mines opened under the Brotherhood’s pay scale and all 3 – the Barrett, the Winifred and the Garfield - were in the Mystic-Brazil axis, Mystic now became the focus of heated exchanges. Mass meetings were held on the vacant lot next to the Miners’ Hall on Main Street. There was more incendiary language. It would all get worse. Open violence was inevitable. (309)

April 28 1933
The fight to halt foreclosures in Iowa was already violent when on April 28 1933 the worst incident happened in Le Mars in Plymouth County. A group of men, blue bandannas covering their faces, dragged Judge Charles C. Bradley from his courtroom, beat him, mauled him, smeared him and filled his trousers with grease and grime, took him into the country, put a noose around his neck, jerked the judge from the ground until he fainted, ordered him to pray and then, with some apparent remorse, released him. An incensed Governor of Iowa: Clyde L. Herring, declared immediate martial law in Plymouth County. Sent to be in charge of reestablishing law and order was Centerville’s Colonel Glen C. Haynes. This was the man who’d led Centerville’s National Guard through World War 1 a man the men loved; the same man the KKK hated when Glenn opposed Harry Laughlin’s racial entry quotas for immigrants. (See book pages 190-191) At Le Mars, Haynes arrived with a machine gun company of 100 National Guardsmen. Moving cameras recorded the scene. Machine guns were placed on the Plymouth County Courthouse roof. Machine guns controlled the scene at 2 foreclosure sales. Colonel Haynes ordered militiamen with fixed bayonets to patrol the streets both day and night. Seven days after the declaration of martial law, law and order returned to Plymouth County. For 2 nights in May, the people of Centerville watched a movie at the Ritz Theatre. Its title: Colonel Glenn Haynes in Charge of the Le Mars Disorder. (333-334)

April 29 1945
The 34th, the “Red Bull” Division full of Appanoose men was the first army to liberate the Italian city of Bologna. The men entered to a rapturous welcome from the civilians and from the Partisans – that solid core of Italian patriotic fighters who, risking their own lives had given such help to the U.S. 5th and and the British 8th. The Partisans had caught Mussolini as he was fleeing north into Switzerland. Mussolini was shot, his body displayed for public exhibition in Milan. At the same time, Germans in Northern Italy were flocking into prisoner-of-war cages. More were trying to escape north into Austria. Blocking their path was the 34th Infantry: those boys from Appanoose County. In Centerville for days rumors were rife that Germany had surrendered. Mrs. Harry Longanecker, propriertress of the Samson Electric Store on April 30 turned on the window lights, which had been turned off under federal order. People called the Iowegian. Phones rang across town. Talk circled the Square. But the rumor was premature. Mrs. Longanecker turned off the light.

April 30 1945
What was now clear: the end of Hitler’s Germany was at hand. Allied forces were penetrating into Germany in a fast-moving drama. A letter from Sgt. Jack Barnthouse in the U.S.9th Army, described to readers of “Columns Write” in the Iowegian the speed. In “…16 days the batallion rolled an average of better than 600 miles a day.” AP reporter Hal Boyle, who’d been embedded with the troops since Normandy, watched the American advance. “Worn out by three days and nights of continuous advance, doughboys nod and fall asleep on iron beds – the backs of the tanks they are riding into battle…German prisoners streaming back guardless with upraised hands are dirty, haggard, and hungry.” As the Allies penetrated further into Germany, Poland and Austria, they discovered one torture camp after another, They found underground Nazi factories crowded with slave laborers, huddled like cattle and waiting in desperation for the Allies to come. They found prisoner-of-war camps where Allied soldiers had been fed a daily diet of 700 calories. When Centerville’s John Koestner in his C-47 flew some of them to American evacuation hospitals or to hospitals in England, ice-cream given at their request was quickly vomited. Max Exline with the U.S.7th, wrote to his sister south of Moulton. He’d seen prisoners…”The reports don’t make it strong enough. I saw men fight for crackers we throw away out of our rations. A cigarette would burn their fingers and they wouldn’t feel it…They acted as though they could, and some did kiss us.” If the prison camps were bad, what the men found in the concentration camps sickened them.

©2014 Enfys McMurry All Rights Reserved

 

 

May

May 1 1945

“Hitler is Killed in Berlin.”

This was Centerville’s Daily Iowegian banner headline on May 1 1945. Superimposing the words, placed on top of the headline were 5 large red letters

E-X-T-R-A!
Underneath the headline was an AP report from London:
“The Hamburg radio announced tonight that Adolph Hitler was killed at his command post at the Reich Chancellory in Berlin. Admiral Carl Doenitz, commander of the German navy has succeeded Hitler in command of German forces, the broadcast added. The Associated Press Iowa officials said that the report given by Hamburg radio is accepted as authentic. Many have doubted whether or not Hitler was actually in Berlin as had been reported from time to time. The Hamburg report indicates that he has been in the beleaguered German first city as the assault has narrowed it down to a captured metropolis.” (505 & Iowegian article: Tuesday May 1 1945.)

May 2 1945
E-X-T-R-A the 5 letters again dominated the Iowegian’s headline. The front page was divided vertically. On the left BERLIN FALLS and an AP report from London: “Premier Stalin announced tonight the fall of Berlin. The announcement was made by Moscow radio which declared that 70,000 Germans were captured in the cleanup of the city.” On the right, was an AP report from Washington: HITLER IS DEAD “President Truman said today that he had
it on the best authority that Adolph Hitler is dead. The president did not say what his authority was but declared he was convinced that the former Fuehrer had actually been killed.” Also in the newspaper was another headline: “900,000 NAZI-FASCISTS LAY DOWN ARMS; SURRENDER INCLUDES PART OF AUSTRIA” For the people of Centerville, there was relief but people were calm: they waited for the formal surrender that applied to all of Europe.
( Iowegian May 2 1945)

May 3 1846
It was at midnight on May 1st. 1846, that this hunting land of the Sac and Fox Indians, now part of the Second Black Hawk Purchase, was open for settlers. First families – Clancy, Perjue, Crow, Perkins, had waited for Appanoose to be open, camping on the east bank of the Des Moines River, waiting for the signal. It came with the roar of guns at midnight, a rush through the river, the galloping by flares, the marking of claims. Other first families – Stratton, Wells, Jump, Cooksey, Kirby came up from Missouri. On arrival in the first days of May, the settlers first located their claims, This was land bought sight unseen for $1.25 and acre from a government land office or $5.00 and up from a speculator. A few received “bounty land” free from the US Government in recognition of military service. The Appanoose County Claim Society kept a record of claims. Its members could intervene in any dispute. When they did so, they wore white caps and carried clubs. (11&20)

May 4 1945
On this day, the Nazis surrendered Denmark, Holland and northern Germany to British general Bernard Montgomery at Luneberg Heath near Hamburg. They had already surrendered in northern Italy. In Centerville as everywhere else, people waited for the next, the full and total surrender. That was being discussed in Eisenhower’s headquarters: a red-brick schoolhouse in Reims in northern France. WAC Sergeant Angela Cerato of Numa was one of 4 WACs working night and day in the general staff section. American, Russian and Nazi generals walked the rooms negotiating. For hours Angela served tea to the Russians, whiskey and coffee to General Gustav Jodl and his fellow Nazis, coffee to the Americans, hamburgers and sandwiches to them all.”Nobody,” she said,”was drinking much.”(505-506)

May 5 1934
“Cavalcade Wins Kentucky Derby; Garner the Rider” said the Iowegian headline. The article went on to describe the happiest man in Louisville on May 5th 1934. It was Centerville’s 34-year old jockey Mack Garner. As the horses left the post, Cavalcade was 11th in a field of 13. But when Mack, began pouring a coaxing “Git along, Doggie” into the colt’s ear, the horse moved up quickly and was 7th as he passed the owner (Mrs. Isabel Dodge Sloane of New York) in her clubhouse box. The whole race was full of thrills but the greatest was the closing fight between Cavalcade and Discovery, the Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt colt that had taken the lead. After trying to pass Discovery on the inside, Cavalcade was swung back and came up on the outside. Coming down the home stretch, Cavalcade passed Discovery and went on to win by two and a half lengths. “I had never before felt so sure I was going to win,” said Mack, “And by the time we got through the first quarter, I was surer than ever.” People in Centerville heard the race on their radios. On May 21 they watched the event at the Majestic theatre. (376/Iow.May 7 & 21 1934)

May 6 1945
In Centerville it was May 6, 7:41 Sunday evening Central War Time. In the little red schoolhouse in Reims, northern France, it was 2:41 am of Monday the 7th. The discussions about German surrender were approaching a climax.The female WAC Sgts. including Numa’s Angela Cerato had been told an hour earlier by U.S.Lieut. General Walter Bedell Smith to go home and get some sleep.There’d be no agreement, he said, that night. At 2 am Angela’s phone rang. She was told to report back to the schoolhouse. “Can you type?” asked Col.P.C.Lash. Angela then typed the official cable announcing the Nazi surrender to the world. “I finished the necessary number of copies about 5:30 and went home to get some sleep. I woke up my roomate, Sgt. Katherine Ruch of New York City, to tell her the war was over but she didn’t believe me.” (506/Iow May 29 1945)

May 7 1945
Early Monday morning, President Truman made the news known via radio to the nation. People across the country, across Appanoose County listened. Shopkeepers listened. The workers at Hercules Manufacturing listened. Sirens in town blew-first the fire siren on top of City Hall, then the big steam siren on top of the ISU power plant. Appanoose County’s fighting men heard the news. J.B.Kelley heard it on Okinawa. They heard it in Europe; radio gunner O.R.Parks heard it with his air crew flying over the Pacific. Raymond Ferren working for the signal corps in the Lafayette warehouse on Montparnasse, Paris heard it and all the wild celebrations conducted by the Parisians. In Centerville perhaps the happiest man was T.C.(Tom) Ruggles, Dean of Centerville Junior College. He had watched the young men leave…those to serve in the army…those trained to be pilots in the Army Airforce. He’d ached over every death, looking on each boy as his own. (506/507& Interview)

May 8 1945
Tuesday May 8 was the official celebration day of Victory in Europe. Businesses closed for half and hour. The liquor store closed. There were special school assemblies followed by a town parade. It started up Main Street shortly before ten in the morning. It was led by color bearers and a guard of honor, a discharged wounded veteran, and active veteran, members of the American Legion and VFW posts. A column of hundreds of citizens and schoolchildren followed. They carried flags. marched around the Square to the bandstand in the Square’s center and sang the national anthem. There were speakers. The crowd dispersed. There were private words spoken in homes. There were church services. When a firework or a casual gunshot was fired outside one church, two soldiers who were already home, dived beneath their seats. Thirteen year old Bob Ruggles knew then, their war was not over or ever would be. The town’s tone was subdued. Perhaps it was best exemplified by and advertisement that day from the Presbyterian church. It read, “One War Down. One War to Go.”(506/507&interview)

May 9 1945
The soldiers were now entering the concentration camps and witnessing the Nazi contempt for humanity. Gypsies, Germans who’d opposed the Nazis, homosexuals and Poles – but above all, Jews – were killed and it was done by experiments, disease, starvation and maltreatment. Pfc Glen Morrow wrote to his mother in Centerville in such graphic terms much of the letter was deleted. A letter from Centerville’s Edson Kratzer told of being at Otting, where he watched his American officers dig up a mass grave of victims, build coffins for each one and then dig individual graves in the town’s best cemetery. Three coffins were put on display. All villagers were forced to file past them and pay tribute by sprinkling each with holy water. (504…to be continued)

May 10 1945
Patton’s Third Army had reached Dachau. Centerville’s Major Charles Gragg found 38 flatcars standing on tracks filled with dead prisoners who’s been starved to death. He described the SS troopers as “bloodthirsty morons.” Harold Chapman wrote to his family in Centerville that he, too, had seen the flatcars. “When I entered the camp the prisoners appeared to be in a stupor…Then someone started to sing and it was as if the prisoners came to life.” They sang the Polish national anthem, the inmates apologizing to the soldiers for not knowing the words of “The Star Spangled Banner,” but they’d made a makeshift American flag and raised it over Dachau.(504…to be continued)
May 11 1945
Of all the concentration camps, Buchenwald was the most disturbing. For Centerville’s Bob McGuire, it was unimaginable that human beings could be so treated. Lawrence “Sam” Mahoney, the engineer who’d been at the rebuilding of Cherbourg, was affected by its images for the rest of his life: the body piles, the mounds of ash, prisoners so starved they couldn’t move, lying in bunks “like big grocery shelves.” But the worst image, he said, was the prisoners’eyes. They followed him wherever he moved Their eyes haunted Sam forever. Another soldier haunted by what he saw was Centerville’s Cliff Herndon. After the initial shock, Cilff, a photographer, went back to camp to get his camera. He took pictures of Buchenwald:of prisoners holding up their arms to show their tattooed identification numbers; of men lying in their bunks; of cremation ovens; of the bodies, “just skin and bones,” lying in piles. Cliff sent his photographs to the Iowegian newspaper. “Print them,” he said, “…for one day people will refuse to believe what was done to human beings here.” Jesse Beck at the Iowegian printed only two, “as the others were too horrible to show.” ( 504/505)

May 12 1940
Suddenly, abruptly, the 7 month “phony war” in western Europe was over. The Germans invaded Denmark and Norway,Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Next, they bypassed the Maginot line, smashed through the Ardennes and invaded northern France. People in Centerville and across the nation reeled. 133 of Centerville high school musicians were in Kansas City as the news broke. They had participated in the National – Regional High School Music Contest. They were waiting for the Rock Island gates to open at Union Station for their return to Centerville. Thousands of people thronged around them. Newspaper boys were hawking the war headlines. War was the topic from radio loudspeakers; war was the talk on every tongue. Just then, through some spontaneous mutual action, the Centerville boys and girls began to sing “The Star Spangled Banner.” Everyone in the station came to attention, loudspeakers were silenced, hats were removed and hush replaced the earlier hubbub. The event brought tears to the eyes of hundreds, and those who heard it, those who were there, said they would never forget it. (387/388)

May 13 1937
People in town were comparing reactions. Charles DePuy and his 2 daughters were awake the previous morning (the 12th) at 4 am to hear the coronation of King George V1 broadcast live from London, England and carried over all radio networks. DePuy noticed lights in houses across Centerville. Others were listening too. Until this date, radio emphasized entertainment: Bing Crosby, Edgar Bergen, Amos n’Andy, the ill-timed broadcast production by Orson Welles of H.G.Wells’s War of the Worlds and, from the powerful 50,000 Watt WHO Des Moines, sports reporter Ronald “Dutch” Reagan. There were exceptions. News took priority over entertainment for election results, the inauguration of a president, the Scopes Monkey Trial, and Herbert Morrison’s emotional description of the Hindenberg disaster. One year to the day of King George’s coronation, on May 12, 1938, people in Appanoose County tuned into Columbia Broadcasting System. They heard a live news report from London. In England It was 11:30 at night; it was 6:30 in the evening in New York, 5:30 in Centerville. What people heard that night was transformative. It was the first live uncensored eyewitness account of the Anschluss, Hitler’s takeover of Austria. The reporter was William Shirer, a native of Cedar Rapids, who had witnessed the Nazis marching into Vienna and, to avoid Nazi censorship, had flown to London to deliver his report to America from the BBC. (381-382)

May 14 1904
For 2 weeks the St. Louis World’s Fair had been attracting thousands of visitors. People from Appanoose County had a special reason to attend. Israel, the 11 year old son of Max and Ethel Futoransky, was a national typing sensation. He was invited to exhibit his talents at the Fair. Israel could type 135 words a minute. He could keep pace with any dictation. He could maintain the speed without marks on the keys and with his eyes closed. His parents were Russian immigrants. They opened the Centerville Grocery and Wall Paper Supply House on the west side of the Square. It was the story of the Jews in Centerville. Their businesses were flourishing. There were 7 on the Square. On the Levee there were 5 more. One, on the corner of Elm Street, was the pop factory of Hyman Chapman, another immigrant from Russia. The plant produced 35 different flavors of soft drinks. They included ginger ale, birch beer, orange and wild cherry phosphates, a cream soda, raspberry and strawberry wines and several ciders including a ” champagne cider.” The business increased its output ten times in less than 20 years. Every day workers packed 4800 bottles into 200 wooden cases. They were delivered by cart to the railroad depots for distribution to surrounding towns and cities. On each bottle was affixed the firm’s trademark label; a picture and the words, “Chapman’s twins. (179)

May 15 1919
5 years after the first aircraft arrived in Centerville, barnstormers provided the town’s extended contact with flying. These aviators, usually former World War 1 pilots flying in Army surplus Curtiss Orioles at 100 mph, became regulation attractions at fairs, school homecomings, or July 4th celebrations. They landed in fields at Moulton, Moravia, Seymour and Corydon. In Centerville they touched down on the field north of mine Thirty, or on the John Curl farm to its south. They flew low over the Courthouse Square. They waved to upturned faces. They dropped packets of Wrigley’s Chewing Gum attached to small parachutes for free-flight tickets. One such parachute landed on the Continental Hotel Annex roof and was won in a mad scramble of boys up the fire escape by 14-year old Paul Beck, son of the Iowegian editor. Without a free ticket, the pilots charged $1.00 a minute for a flight, $10.00 for a ride and a loop, $15.00 to circle the town. Some pilots were stunt fliers. They performed flip-flops. One ascended to 9,000 feet, then descended in 2 tailspins of 3,000 feet each. Sometimes 2 pilots flew 2 planes and worked in tandem. They swung under trapezes under swift-moving aircraft. They walked on wings. They jumped in midair from one plane to another.(299)

May 16 1943
Guy Evans at the local Employment Office didn’t quite understand ” a vitally important patriotic” directive he received from the government in Washington D.C. He was to hire immediately 220 of the best and most reliable workers. Many such people had already left. They were either in the armed services or building aircraft or working in ordnance artillery and military equipment factories. The directive was urgent. He worked around the clock. He barely slept. He hired 125 from Appanoose, the others from Wayne, Davis, and Putnam Counties. They were hired as waitresses, custodians, craftsmen, plumbers, carpenters, messenger boys and cement finishers. They were paid exceptionally good wages that included room and board. They were sent to Pasco, Washington. Even there, they had little knowledge of the overall purpose of their work. Centerville’s Opal Adamson went in a different direction. She went south to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She thought the place “a huge mud puddle.” It was the Appanoose pioneer blood in her veins, she later said, that caused her to stay. All the workers were told to seal their lips, and they were astonished, and so was Guy Evans, in August 1945 to learn they had helped to make the atom bomb. (509…others from Appanoose were also involved. Their story in August.)

May 17 1919
It was a Saturday. Company D, Centerville’s National Guard came home from World War 1. They arrived on the Interurban from Albia. It had been decided there would be 2 celebrations. This, the first, would be short, honoring the needs of the men and their families to be together and in private. Thousands lined the sidewalks. On the Courthouse Square, the windows of the buildings were full; so were the tops of the roofs. The fire whistle blew as the train carrying the soldiers reached the junction on Park Avenue. The men dismounted, were rushed to West State Street in autos and took their place in the parade, inside the rectangle surrounded by Red Cross ladies. People noted their uniforms, their stripes, chevrons, red and green silk citation cords, medals and insignia. Below the left shoulder they saw the red, yellow and purple rainbow of their division, the blue letter A of the 1st Army Corps and the red circumflex declaring their official discharge. The parade circled the Square, marched under the Victory Arch and past the reviewing stand. On a command from Major Haynes, the men marched backwards to form a platoon. Now they could watch the remainder of the parade pass before them. At the end of the parade,the men were then dismissed to join their families. The second, longer celebration was planned for September 11th. (240-241)

May 18 1934
Under the direction of Captain Vernon C .Koons and 2nd Lieutenant John McCrory of the U.S.Army arrived in town to supervise the construction of Centerville’s Civilian Conservation Corps-the CCC- Camp. It was a relocated camp – Unit 774th Company from Winterset. On May 12 arriving recruits began setting up wall tents at the north end of 7th Street, once the Wooden pasture, in 1934 the property of Iowa’s ex-Governor Nate Kendall, giving the camp the occasional title “Camp Kendall.” The primary assignment of the Centerville camp workers was to correct the worst incidents of soil erosion identified by County farmers, the Farm Bureau, and CCC field engineers. By this day – May 18 – the men were divided into 4 platoons and were working at correcting gullies at the E.G. Irelan farm, 2 miles southeast of Cincinnati, the G. Felkner and Ed Simmons farms west of town and the Harvey Main farm in the north part of the County. The workers built dams a short way downflow from the head of the ditches or gullies. They used 2 methods: the “woven-wire dam” for most gullies, the “baffle dam” for deep gullies. At the Irelan farm new techniques were used: willow twigs were thrust down through the impacted straw and mud. They were designed to root. When they did, natural dams were created in the process, creating prime nesting
locations for quails. And to prevent unnecessary wash, black walnuts were planted – on the Irelan farm, 5,000 planted in 2 days.(348-349).

May 19 1945
By this date, 1.5 million Americans had flooded into Britain, hundreds of thousands more every week into a country smaller than Iowa. Supplies, warships and transports were filling the harbors along England’s south coast. so were thousands of British and US troops.They were assigned to beaches that in France that would be their destinations: the British to Kent, to East and West Sussex; Americans to Dorset, Somerset and Devon. Lowell Marshall wrote home to his parents in Centerville: “The countryside is more beautiful than you could ever imagine.” There were occasions of public goodwill: Exline’s Cecil Cline representing Iowa at a reception in Leicester, thousands of Londoners applauding as 3,000 Americans marching through Central London. There were moments of private happiness: Centerville’s Ray Simmons (Royal’s brother) married an English bride, Lola Steight, in Dursley, Gloucestershire, his best man another Iowa soldier, Charles Biery from Ida Grove. William Callen of Moravia located his one and only brother, “It was the happiest day of my life,” he wrote to his mother. And there were events that rendered emotion. Lowell Marshall and his fellow soldiers were invited to a Mother’s Day service at a local church. The minister urged each to be “…the boy your Mother thinks you are…Many handkerchiefs were waving,” continued Lowell, “and the guys didn’t all have colds, either.”(456-460)

May 20 1927
8 aviators assembled at Roosevelt Field, New York ready to fly the first non-stop
aircraft from New York to Paris and therefore to claim the $25,000 Orteig Prize. One was Admiral Byrd, the first to fly to the North Pole (a friend of Mystic’s Al Lodwick). Another was Clarence Chamberlain of Denison, Iowa. Only one of the 8 planned to fly solo. He was 25-year old Charles Lindbergh, who had barnstormed in Iowa (possibly in Centerville-see this column,May 15), and carried the US Mail between St.Louis and Chicago. Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field at 7:51 a.m. on Friday May 20, 1927. He was flying a silver-colored Ryan plane he’d named The Spirit of St.Louis. Interest was intense. Jesse Beck checked United Press news service plans. UP had dispatched 100 special correspondents to remote points in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ireland, England and France. 19 were on the Irish coast, another 19 in France’s River Seine Valley, practically as many in England. Each was notified of Lindbergh’s departure and given a description of the plane. The Commercial Cable Company, R.C.A., the Western Union Telegraph Company and the Independent Wireless Service stood ready to gather reports and transmit them to all those with UP services including Centerville’s Iowegian. Ships at sea, the Coast Guard, the International Ice Patrol and radio and cable companies joined the watch. No one slept in the newspaper office on South Main Street. Many more were awake across the County. (300-301)

May 21 1927S
In Centerville, editor Jesse Beck hovered near the Iowegian’s telegraph printer. The telephone rang with constant inquiries. People stepped into the office on North Main Street asking to hear news of Lindbergh and to read the immediate bulletins direct from the machine. By 8:51 on Saturday morning, Centerville time, Lindbergh had been in the air for 27 hours. A half-hour later at 9:20, Jesse Beck recalled the reports telegraphed to his printer began to show a consistent pattern. A message was received from Queenstown, Ireland. The Commander of the County Kerry Civic Guard reported sighting a plane believed to be that of Charles Lindbergh over Smerwich Harbor, north of Dingle, on the country’s southwest corner. Half-an -hour later, a sighting was made over County Cork, then over England at Plymouth. At 1:30 Centerville time…8.30 pm in France, the telegraph machine printed a sighting of a plane several thousand feet over Cherbourg, and then Bayeaux, flying in the direction of Paris. Lindbergh landed The Spirit of St.Louis at LeBourget Airport Saturday, May 21. It was 10.21 pm Paris time, 3.21 pm in Centerville. 150,000 people stood waiting to greet him. As Lindbergh taxied to a stop, they moved towards him in a human tide. 3 minutes later, the news reached the UP office in New York. In another minute, it was in San Francisco and in another 2 in Centerville. Everywhere, the report was telephoned to radio stations and announced on the air while bands played. In Centerville, whistles shrieked and bells rang. In theatres and movie houses, the bulletin was read to audiences amid wild cheering and people shouted the news to each other. In Centerville those with the deepest sense of pride were the Swedish immigrants. In Mystic, one of them, Gustav Swanson, collected the Swedish-language newspapers delivered by the Milwaukee train from Chicago, full of the news and photographs of Lindbergh’s triumph and showed them with so much pride in Centerville and Mystic, people thought Gustav and Lindbergh were cousins. (301-302)

May 22 1899
Nine months before the new century, the town was filled with people predicting that the end of the world would coincide with the new century. They came from George Salisbury of Reinbeck , Iowa who said he was ” the chosen oracle of God’ and knew “The Second Coming of Christ is at hand.” More end of world predictions came from the Rev. J.M.Loughridge, addressing the Centerville Men’s Meeting, who saw the Spanish American War (1898) as the vanguard and fulfillment of Biblical prophecies.” They came too, from members of the House of David. Throughout those 9 months, they walked the streets of Centerville. They spoke on the Square and handed out pamphlets. They gave dire warnings of death from which they alone were exempted. Both the men and women wore their hair long, loose and flowing – the better, they said, for flight through the sky when the last trumpet sounded. In contrast, the tone of the community was not of fear but of optimism. “…our great success as a nation,” wrote the editor of the Centerville Daily Citizen, “is due to the individual efforts of our citizens, and their ability to take advantage of every opportunity.” Appreciation was expressed for the advances in the arts and the sciences already achieved and there was eager anticipation that the new century would produce even greater ones.(135/136)

May 23 1921
It was the day one of the greatest and most popular movies stars came to Centerville. Norma Talmadge arrived as the star of the First National Film Company’s movie: The Wonderful Thing. Scenes were to be filmed on the Square, at the D.C.Bradley/Link Harbold Hog Farm at Walnut Creek near Plano, and at the Burlington/Quincy Railroad Depot on South 18th Street. The stars and the crew stayed at the Continental. People waited and watched in the lobby. She came downstairs with Director Herbert Brenon. People described her as “radiant” and “indescribably attractive.” Outside the hotel, William S. Bradley waited at the wheel of the Bradley auto to drive Miss Talmadge, Harrison Ford ( the main actor), and Director Brenon west to the hog farm. It was the signal for a procession of cars to follow. The cars came from 8 or 9 states. 1500 people followed on foot. They included Carl Brunow and Leo Schutzbank – 2 Centerville High School boys laden with cameras. The Des Moines Register flew in its best reporters and photographers, so did the Des Moines News, the Des Moines Capital, and the Omaha World-Herald. A detachment of Company G arrived to keep people back from in front of the camera. For the scene at the station, a special Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy train was backed up to the depot. Cameraman Roy Hunt focused his motion picture camera. Norma Talmadge descended from the train. She wore a dress of light tan grain silk, a sand fox fur, long white kid gloves and a green straw sailor hat. Assisting her was William Harvey, the local Quincy conductor, who described the experience as one of the highlights of his career. Watching was W.S.Alexander, the station manager. The First National Film Company left Centerville on May 24, travelling east on the Golden State Limited from the Rock Island Station. Director Brenon hoped the picture would be released in a month and Leo Moore of the Majestic Theatre would be the first exhibitor.(264-266)

May 24 1865
The Civil War was over. May 24th was the date set for the GRAND REVIEW OF THE ARMIES OF THE REPUBLIC in Washington D.C. Appanoose County’s boys in the Iowa 6th Infantry, those who’d survived, had washed their clothes in the Potomac River, crossed into Washington the night before and formed a camp on the grounds of the Capitol. Next morning ,a gun signal at 9 a.m. started the event. Major General Sherman, his horse decorated with a wreath of flowers given him by his daughter, led the 60,000 men he’d led to the sea onto Pennsylvania Avenue at the foot of Capitol Hill. Each brigade was headed by a fife-and -drum corps and followed by 6 ambulances. Thousands lined the streets. Hundreds more looked on from windows and rooftops. Brass bands played. Artillery was fired. People cheered. They waved flags. Banners stretched across the streets bearing the names of the major battles including those the Appanoose boys had fought in: Donelson. Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, Missionary Ridge, Atlanta, Savannah, Columbia and Raleigh. The colors of each regiment were unfurled. The soldiers were sunburned. They wore loose shirts and soft hats. They marched in perfect alignment, elbow to elbow, and for the men from the West (including our boys form Iowa, they walked with a distinguished, looser, longer stride than the soldiers of the Eastern armies. At the Treasury building, the column turned and passed the reviewing stand on the White House grounds and were greeted by President Andrew Jackson, General Grant and representatives of civil and military authorities. Within days via Louisville, Chicago, and Davenport our Appanoose’s boys came home.

May 25 1945
Throughout May, the USAAF and the RAF were bombing Nazi installations along the French coast relentlessly and incessantly. In England, the invasion troops were undergoing rigorous training exercises. One of these, at Slapton Sands ,on the south coast of Devon in England was in the last days of April. It was labeled Operation Tiger and it was a disaster. Nine German high speed E-boats spotted a convoy of 8 U.S. LSTs and attacked. 638 Americans were killed; another 308 died from friendly fire. Centerville Pfc Joe Coates, a member of the 147th Amphibious Combat Engineers who was taking part in Operation Tiger, remembered hearing about boats sinking. So did Centerville’s Manuel Bromberg the assigned photographer. But the disaster was a closely guarded secret. According to the Combined Operations website, “No official communique was issued and the staff of the 228th Sherbourne Hospital in Dorset, who received hundreds of immersion and burn cases, were simply told to ask no questions and warned they would be subject to court martial if they discussed the tragedy.” (461)

May 26 1917
The largest contingent of Appanoose County’s immigrants – 746 on the 1920 census – were Italians. Every year they celebrated Italy Day with town parades that started at the post office and circled the Square. Public speeches were given at the bandstand by the postmaster ( representing the federal government ), and the mayor, the senator, a reverend, Philip Buscemi representing local Italians and the Honorable Paul Parisi of Chicago, who spoke in Italian. The mayor presented the key to the City of Centerville for the evening, The parade was led by Santi Milani, the recognised leader of the local Italians; Italians of the Centerville Society of Generale Caneva ; the Italian band from Seymour; the Italian/Croatian band from Rathbun; the Italian Foresters of Numa and members of the Columbia Society of Seymour. Following the marchers came flag-decorated floats full of children dressed in Italian national costumes, and people shouted, “Viva l’Italia. Viva America” and waved the national flags of both countries. (253-254)

May 27
On this night in 1885 Joe E. Herriford walked across the stage of the Russell Hall (today Home Collections) and became the first African American in Appanoose County to graduate from Centerville High School. He had arrived in town as an adventurous teenager. leaving his former-slave parents behind in Chillicothe, Missouri. Susannah McKee, proprietress of the Continental Hotel, recognized his intelligence, his drive and his work ethic. Joe lived and worked at the Continental, running errands, shining shoes at a nickel a shine. attending Centerville High School at Mrs. McKee’s insistence and was treated by her as “though [I] was one of her own children.” On his errands across the Square, General (later Governor) Drake often patted him on the shoulder and told him to “[k]eep at it young man.” After that graduation night, Joe entered Drake University – sponsored and supported by Governor Drake. After his graduation from Drake, Joe became Principal of the W.W.Yates school in Kansas City for 34 years and was known as a “pillar of Kansas City’s educational, social and civic life and an inspiration to the thousands of children who passed under his influence.” His love of astronomy infuenced so many of his students to love science. Of his 4 sons, one became a doctor, one a teacher, one Head of the English Dept. at Tuskegee Institute, and one band director for Louis Armstrong. In 1934, Joe made an unexpected visit back to Centerville. He came to place a bouquet on the grave of Susannah McKee in Oakland Cemetery. He placed the flowers, saying she was his “patron saint’…his inspiration.” (186/ Kansas City Call 2-23-40)

May 28 1941
Not just the people in the town were talking about what had happened the night before, the whole world was talking. And, they remembered later, it was 7 months before Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had delivered his fireside chat into a cluster of radio microphones at a desk in the East Room of the White House. Facing him, seated in a semicircle, were key diplomats; behind him, massed closely together were 21 American flags. He told the nation that “an unlimited national emergency” existed. Hitlerism, he said, must be ” forcibly checked now.” He asserted the doctrine of “freedom of the seas” and said the delivery of goods to Britain was imperative: “I say this can be done; it must be done; it will be done.” The speech was carried by direct radio transmission to every corner of the world. It was translated into 14 different languages. In Berlin it was branded ” an open act of war.” Crowds, gathered in London hotels before dawn to hear the speech, cheered throughout the broadcast. In Canberra, in Ottawa, throughout the British empire, the president’s words were heard with jubilation. Events moved swiftly. A 2nd draft registration was announced for all men who reached the age of 21 since the first registration on October 16, 1940. 126 Appanoose eligible men reported to the County draft board office over the Centerville National Bank on the Square’s Southside. New recruiters for the U.S.Navy and the Marines interviewed applicants at the post office. (394)

May 29 1900
J.H.B.Armstrong was dead. He died in Cincinnati, the Appanoose town he named for his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. He died in his 90th year after a life of such moral strength, such unswerving dedication to the principles of our nation, we can feel pride that he chose to come and live among us and on Memorial Days we can honor his memory. Mr. Armstrong was an Abolitionist. He abhorred slavery and considered it contrary to the essence of being an American. He chose to live near the Missouri border to assist slaves escaping north to the ultimate safety of Canada. By so doing, he was breaking the law. Fugitive Slave Laws allowed escaped slaves to be pursued even into free states like Iowa and to be dragged back to servitude. He arrived on horseback in the early 1850′s with some dozen other families- all Abolitionists- arriving in our County calling themselves “The Red Hunting-Shirt Company.” They bought land near the border and through the 1850′s provided an Underground Railroad across Appanoose County. At the outbreak of the Civil Way, they and their sons were among the first volunteers. 24 years after the death of Mr. Armstrong, the Appanoose County KKK burned 2 crosses in Cincinnati. Their purpose seems more than coincidental. When in the 1920′s so many were converted to the Klan, it’s interesting to speculate the reaction of Mr. Armstrong and his fellow Abolitionists. Perhaps too, we can wonder what he would say to even those today who beneath a veneer, are still unable to embrace that “all men are created equal.” (28-29)

May 30 the 1920′s
There were always rumors-rumors that throughout Prohibition some of the County’s illegal stills were too sophisticated to be local operations. The grappi was high quality, in demand in New York City, Chicago, and Des Moines. On Sunday afternoons, men in silk suits and fedoras arrived. One- a man from Chicago- had a scar running the length of a cheek. The town’s link to organized crime was becoming clear. Men left on temporary visits to Chicago and were never seen again. Louis Cora was shot in the head by Louis Nickelle 3 times and survived. Filadelphia Todora was beheaded. More bodies of Centerville people were found mostly in Cicero, the area of Chicago by 1924 dominated by Al Capone. Angelo Normali was murdered there by Raymond “Mondo” Terrazoni, who’d followed him from Streepyville; so was Mary Todao at the hands of Giovanni Lescari. John Castenaro, well-known in Centerville mining circles, was buried alive at the rear of a garage on Cicero’s West 30th Street, his hands and feet bound, a rope wound tightly around his neck, his head covered with a sawdust sack. Santo Cellebron, a chauffeur from South Centerville, was caught in Chicago with 6,000 gallons of wine, valued at $42,000, and indicted as one of 79 Cicero gangsters. He was now ready to be a government witness, investigating conditions in Cicero. For this decision, he was summarily shot “for talking too much.” And Sam Falzone, living in Chicago after being pardoned for dynamiting the Centerville home of Tony DeZorzi, died when his own home was dynamited.357-358)

May 31 1945
Everyone in Centerville, in Appanoose County and across the nation was under intense strain. Everyone was waiting for D-Day, waiting for the word their boys had battled their way up from the beaches of western Europe and established secure locations. There was, unknown to everyone except top military commanders, a secret source of comfort. The Allied Command had selected where the invasion landings would occur: a 40-mile strip of the Normandy coast between the River Orne and the Contentin Peninsula, the eastern sector assigned to the British, the western to the Americans. They had also selected a date: June 5, 1944. But the decisions were top-level secrets known only to a few high-ranking Allied officers. The Nazis were unclear and the Allies further confused them with deception. Maps were published in world newspapers. People in Appanoose County studied them in the Iowegian.They showed possible invasion routes into western Europe from the east, from the south,, from England via Norway, Holland, the Bay of Biscay, and from the narrowest point of the English Channel to Calais. False radio messages were sent; dummy parachutists, decoy and papier-mache tanks were assembled in the roads and fields of Kent and Sussex opposite Calais. (459-560)

©2014 Enfys McMurry All Rights Reserved

 

June

June 1 1933
For weeks the town hovered on the brink of violence. Daily hundreds thronged the Courthouse Square. There were marches, mass meetings,huddled conferences and dire threats. Charles DePuy at the Iowegian saw men fondling the trigger of the English field gun then on the south of the Courthouse Park and was grateful it was brazed shut. At one meeting, someone shouted, “Let’s go and get her,” meaning social worker Elizabeth Goodson in charge of President Hoover’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) who was distributing relief at her office over the Centerville National Bank on the south side of the Square. The path of the men was blocked by Chief of Police John White and several deputies standing at the foot of the stairs leading to Miss Goodson’s office. Then, shortly after 9 on the morning of June 1, 300-400 of the unemployed men marched to the south door of the Courthouse. They wanted to speak to the Board of Supervisors. They were not in, they were told by Sheriff Roscoe Wales. A rumor spread: the Red Cross had sent 18 sacks of flour to Exline. Hundreds marched to seize them. Sheriff Wales phoned to Exline and ordered the flour be locked away. He then drove to Exline and confronted the marchers telling them the flour was for the older people dependent on the County. The marchers returned to Centerville. there were more rumors and more threats of violence. The situation would get worse. (344-345)

 

June 2 1944
Reports from Great Britain were appearing daily in the Iowegian. Preparations for D-Day were clearly accelerating. British main-line passenger train schedules were being slashed without warning. Troops were given priority on those still running. Soldiers and sailors of the American Expeditionary Forces were leaving camps and homes where they’d been billeted. More came by sea in transports. More LSTs arrived. Communication was silenced. All travel to Ireland – where German diplomats and spies were being harbored – was heavily restricted. At night, ships moved south from the Firth of Clyde and Belfast, past Liverpool, Swansea. and Bristol. They got into formation, turned left at Lands End and made for their designated ports. At night, British people watched the skies above their gardens, where the drones of waves of bombers could be heard. Guarding the eastern Atlantic and the English Channel, brilliantly, from submarine attacks was the Navy Patrol. Lieut. Richard Owen of Jerome, the pilot of a twin-engine aircraft with Patrol Bombing Squad 212 scanned the ocean, dropping bombs on target. So did Sfc Danny Chriss of West Maple Street and Lieut.Commander Cleo Kerschner of South 18th in charge of air patrols that had sunk 90 U-boats., and so did Corydon’s Calvin Sharp, well-known in Centerville, his mother’s hometown, who lost his life when the aircraft he was aboard developed engine trouble and lost altitude, and his parachute failed to open in time. (462)

 

June 3 1944
By June 3, USAAF pathfinder John Koestner of Centerville was waiting at an airbase in southern England. He was waiting for instructions to load his C-47 cargo aircraft with paratroopers of the 82nd and the 101st US Airborne Divisions. At English harbors, hundreds of LCTs and LCIs were filled with infantrymen; British people lined the shores, waving good-bye and shouting good luck. In one of the LCI’s, scheduled for the first wave landing on Omaha Beach, Centerville’s Pvc Ray Simmons, married just 34 days, prepared himself. A Seventh-Day Adventist like his brother Royal on Bougainville in the Pacific, Ray was a non-combatant. He was unarmed and ready to operate a medical unit. Radio silence prevailed. No lights were permitted. In Appanoose, everyone was under strain. An article written by Quentin Reynolds, veteran war correspondent had been frighteningly specific. The landing troops, he wrote, will be “compelled literally to blast their way through concrete for fifty miles while battling crack and superbly equipped German troops.” He wrote of the countless mines fortifying the coastline from Normandy to Spain. He described the shore batteries, the machine guns, mortars, high-explosive grenades, the constant avalanche of destruction from the Luftwaffe, the concrete and steel-reinforced pillboxes, the blockhouses and the long-range guns, expertly camouflaged. People waited. (462 & 459)

 

June 4 1944
By early June 4, there was in England a thick, low cloud cover. It began to rain. A wind churned the English Channel into high waves. For the men already loaded aboard ships and transports, including so many from Appanoose, it was cold, wet misery. Many vomited. The weather report for June 5th – the planned date of the invasion – was worse. Ships at sea had already formed up into convoys. But a high- pressure system was moving out, a low coming in. On June 5, meteorologists predicted a cloud base of 500 feet to 0 and Force 5 winds. This would restrict the crucial accuracy and visibility of Allied bombing in support of the troops. Without good air support, the invasion was too risky. General Eisenhower at the headquarters command post in Southwick House, north of Portsmouth, cancelled the invasion for the 5th. But for the people at home, the headlines were now dominated by what was happening in Italy. (462)

 

June 5 1944
The invasion forces were ready, tolerating miserable weather on England’s south coast, waiting for the signal to move. At that moment in Centerville,the news in the Iowegian gave reports of victories 900 miles to the southeast in Italy. On May 29, the US 5th and British 8th were “nearing Rome.” On the 31st, they were “within 18 miles.” Pfc Floyd Purvis with his Appanoose County farm-boy eyes noted the main crops of the local people and as ever the 19th Combat Engineers-Mystic’s Reese Hudson among them- were clearing mines and repairing destroyed bridges. Ahead of them all, B-24 and B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 15th USAAF – among them Centerville’s Phil Brunow were hammering the Nazis By June 1st. the headline was they”were within 14 miles” of Rome. They could see Michelangelo’s dome of St, Peter’s Cathedral. Then on June 5, the Iowegian’s. headline reported,”Fifth Army Drives across River.” The 5th Army including the boys from Appanoose County had taken Rome the day before and were already across the River Tiber pursuing the Germans with hardly a look at those ancient monuments of western civilization, all preserved in a no-bombing agreement between the Germans and the Allies. But what the troops did see were the thousands of Italians lining the streets and who, wrote AP reporter Noland Norgaard, cheered and rushed to kiss “the bearded and grimy liberators.” 900 miles to the northwest, Eisenhower had just received a weather report . There would be a 24-hour clear spell beginning late on the 5th. There was a moment’s silence. Eisenhower’s response: “O.K. We’ll go.” (463-464)

 

June 6 1944: the 70th anniversary
Part 1
On that morning the initial assault fleet of nearly 6,000 ships put out from a dozen different English ports. Their targets were 5 beaches on the Normandy coast. These were given code names:from east to west, 3 beaches the target for the British: Sword, Juno, and Gold; 2 for the Americans: Omaha and Utah. Among the initial invasion forces that first day were boys from Appanoose County and for 5 of them: Joe Coates, Bob McGuire, Richard Southern, James Lee Harrington and Ray Simmons -the unarmed 7th Day Adventist, were about to face what has come to be known as Bloody Omaha.

Waiting at an airfield in a Pathfinder C- 47 Paratroop Transport Aircraft was radio operator John Koestner (Chis & Cindy’s father). Near midnight, 13,000 paratroopers, faces blackened, the equipment of each weighing 85-105 lbs. were driven to the airfields to board the waiting Pathfinders. Among them, one of the 82nd, “All American” Airborne Division, was a paratrooper from Mystic: Harold Parris. John Koestner’s Pathfinder C-47, arrived over the French coast, greeted, he said, by what looked like a “Fourth of July celebration” of tracer shells and searchlights. In the 45-minute journey, John had been tensely listening to his radio, fearful that the invasion had been called off for a second time. The Germans were jamming the radio signals, and John was terrified at the thought of his 3 planes dropping U.S. paratroopers when there was no back-up. Nearing the target, he moved to a window to signal with a green flashing light that his and the 2 other C-47 aircraft were over the drop zone.

It was the return flight to England, that John Koestner would never forget. The clouds had cleared, and 8500 feet beneath him lay the Allied invasion fleet. “They were so thick, it looked like you could step ship-to-ship back to England,” and between John’s aircraft and the ships were thousands of planes and troop gliders all flying towards France, looking, he said, “like a huge flock of geese.”

The invasion was underway.

Part 2
The Allied forces landed on the Normandy beaches between 6 and 7:30 in the morning French time coinciding with predictable tides. To the east, the Canadians and the British at Sword and Juno met with little resistance, but the British at Gold suffered heavy losses to 2 battalions. For the Americans at Utah- the furthest beach to the west, landing crafts floundered on mines. Some were swamped. Men landed shoulder deep in water, some a mile off target, their heavy equipment pulling them under. Reinforcements arrived including the 634th Tank Division. On board was personal officer, Udell’s Tom King. Tom’s assignment on landing was to count the dead and the wounded.

But of all the landings nothing compared to the catastrophe that was happening on Omaha Beach where the 1st (the ‘Big Red’) and the 29th U.S.Infantry Divisions were arriving and among them: Mystic’s Joe Coates, Moulton’s Richard Southern, Centerville’s Bob McGuire, Cincinnati’s James Lee Harrington, and in the first wave, Ray Simmons. As the men of the 1st and the 29th approached the shore, a northwest wind pushed the landing crafts off course. So did a rapidly rising tidal current. Appanoose County’s 5 men witnessed landing boats being mined and swamped, men drowning, tanks floundering. artillery shells exploding into action, firing down and across, pinning all the men on the beach. Men on the LCIs and the LCAs were shot, their officers, captains and sergeants killed. The lieutenant on Moulton’s Richard Southern’s craft said he’d be the first off onto the beach. He wasn’t. Richard was the first off, climbing down a rope carrying too much weight, including a 29 lb. radio, crucial for communication. He landed waist-deep in water, chest-deep after a sandbar. Bodies were everywhere. They touched each other, floating in the sea. Men pulled the wounded away from the water, attempting to drag them to the bluff, to the base of the cliffs. Richard Southern fought across the beach; so did Joe Coates, who’d landed neck-deep in water; so did Bob McGuire. And so did the unarmed Ray Simmons, who reached the 100 foot bluff 50 yards away with no knowledge of how. He set up his medical unit and began administering sulfa drugs and plasma to the rapidly arriving wounded. (467-468)

Part 3
In Appanoose County news of the invasion arrived just after midnight. It was 6 a.m. on the English coast, 7 a.m. in France. From then on few slept. They sat by their radios until 2-3-4-and later that morning. Reports were relayed from the B.B.C (British Broadcasting Corporation) in a reciprocal arrangement with American broadcasters. At the Iowegian office on South Main, editor Jesse Beck worked without sleep throughout the night. He drew his information from radio reports and and machines. Before light, a notice was posted on the Smoke Shop the on the Square’s Eastside. It read, “The Smoke Shop Will Remain Closed Until The Beachhead In France Is Firmly Established.”

Reports arrived intermittently. From Sword and Juno, the British and Canadians were advancing towards Caen. The British who had survived Gold were moving inland in the direction of Bayeaux. On Utah, arriving American troops were connecting with the 82nd and 101st U.S. Airborne Divisions and moving west to take control of the Cotentin Peninsula and target Cherbourg, the vital seaport on its northern tip. On bloody Omaha, reinforcements, pretimed to arrive within minutes of each other, were further clogging the congestion unable to move off the beach. General Omar Bradley, in charge of the landings, was considering evacuation and ordering arriving reinforcements to land at Utah or the British beaches. Then came the message: “[We are] advancing up the heights.” It was noon in Normandy, six in the morning in Centerville. Jesse Beck began tentatively assembling the reports to form that day’s extra-edition newspaper headline. It read. “INVASION HOLDS.” The all-capital letters measured almost two-and a-half-inches in height.

Across Appanoose County, as across the nation, churches opened. People gathered to pray. Everywhere in the town and across the villages of the County people gathered in their homes, gathered on the Square, on the sides of the streets all in gratitude for the news from Normandy. At Fort Des Moines, members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps met at the post’s chapel or prayed alone on their bunks. All day, the women seemed distracted. One poured syrup for her hot cakes into her coffee. Another, Victoria Chase, whose home was near Nevers in France, said, “Thank God. I know how happy my people will be.”

Throughout the day, radios were heard with the voices of the King of England, General Eisenhower, President Roosevelt, and broadcaster Ed Murrow. Everywhere the invasion was the subject of conversations. Everywhere, newspapers were studied. In Appanoose County, it was an unusually cold and rainy day for early June. In Mystic, Ned Clark’s once-a-week cream route to collect eggs and cream for Meadow Gold Creamery was cancelled because of the rain and mud. Thirteen-year-old Bill Smallwood joined the town’s men. They sat huddled by a roaring fire in the stove of the East End Market and listened to the radio reports. Their thoughts, like those of the nation, focused some 4,000 miles away on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.( 469-470)

 

June 7 1944
Darkness had fallen in Normandy. On Omaha Beach, Mystic’s Joe Coates slept fitfully. “Bed Check Charlie,” a German pilot flying at night and trying to blow up a nearby barge loaded with ammunition that Joe was ordered to guard, kept him awake until the plane was shot down and fell into the sea. Moulton’s Richard Southern and Centerville’s Bob McGuire were inland, up on top of the bluffs. They both dug holes into the ground with their trenching shovels and slept despite the shellfire and the sounds of aircraft. Ray Simmons was still administering to the thousands of wounded.The first soldier brought to him the day before in the chaos of June 6, Ray had thought too severely wounded to survive.But a later check found him to be alive. Ray administered sulfur and plasma only then recognizing the soldier to be German. Ray later said he had no regrets. “My job was to save life.” 20 years later when Ray was walking in St. Louis, a man approached him on the street. ” I know who you are,” he said to Ray, “I’ll never forget your face. You saved my life on Omaha Beach even though I was a German. I have moved to the United States. I am now and American citizen.” (471 & 519)

By dawn on the 7th, reinforcements of men, tanks, guns and supplies, waiting all night on the Normandy shore, were unloaded. Arriving on Omaha Beach with the 2nd U.S.Infantry was Moulton’s Elvin Jay. Everywhere, he saw bodies: “We just had to go through them, and do what we came for,” he said. Embedded with the G.I.s that day , arriving on Omaha, having rejected General Omar Bradley’s offer to accompany him, was reporter Ernie Pyle. In his syndicated column, read in Centerville, Pyle described the submerged tanks, the burned-out trucks, the shell-shattered jeeps, the sea infested with ships, the bodies of soldiers sprawling grotesquely in the sand, others lying in rows covered with blankets, “the toes of their shoes sticking up in a line as though on drill.” (471)

 

June 8 1944
On D-Day+2, radio programs and the Iowegian’s headlines reported all Germans cleared from the landing beaches and the Allies were pushing inland. To the east, the British and the Canadians were advancing on Caen. From Omaha, the U.S. 1st Infantry, including Moulton’s Richard Southern and Centerville’s Bob McGuire, was moving south and west towards St. Lo. From Utah, the 4th Infantry, including Udell’s Tom King and Mystic’s Roy Davis, as well as the 82nd and 101st U.S.Airborne Divisions, with Mystic’s Harold Parris, were moving west onto the Cotentin Peninsula, aiming at the vital seaport of Cherbourg. And arriving on all the beaches from southern England were endless streams of Allied ships, carrying more reinforcements, more men, more vehicles, more equipment, more supplies. The USS Thompson with engineer Richard Harrington of Udell, brought in the chief of staff of the U.S.Army, George C.Marshall, General Eisenhower,General Henry “Hap” Arnold and Admirals King and Kirk. (472)

 

June 9 1944
In Italy, 700 miles to the south east of Normandy, members of the U.S.5th Army, which included the 34th “Red Bull” Division with Centerville’s Company G, were seeing Germans coming up out of their foxholes with their arms up. Coordinating their aim north with the British 8th Army of the east coast, the American 5th was securing the west coast. The troops were moving so rapidly through Civitavecchia and Tarquinia, they were overtaking German rear guards, taking prisoners, finding the highways en route to Leghorn littered with enemy dead and abandoned equipment. Mystic’s Reese Hudson with the 19th Combat Engineers was dismantling mines, building pontoon bridges, clearing roadways ahead of the infantry. He wrote home to his parents in Mystic, describing every village, every town, reduced to rubble and the children begging for candy, Describing the retreating Germans, Reese wrote, “They left us one thing, though – the fleas.” (473)

 

June 10 1944
Aboard one of the arriving reinforcement LSTs to Omaha, was Centerville-born artist Manuel Bromberg, a member of the War Artists Unit, embedded with HQ 116 Regiment, assigned to record scenes on the beaches in paint on canvas. He carried a small, hip-pocket sketch book, a Leica camera, a carbine and a letter signed by General Eisenhower in English, French, and German, requesting the artist be given every assistance. At Utah Beach, the reinforcements included the 561st Field Artillery, the commanding officer Captain Karl O. “Hap” Holliday of Promise City, known everywhere in Centerville. Another arrival on the S.S. William Pepper carrying 7500 tons of ammunition, its crew, including 2 brothers from Unionville – Donald and Bob Cross – grateful at surviving a perilous journey that included being lost in fog and emerging into the middle of a five-mile minefield. (472-473)

 

June 11 1897
During June of 1897, hundreds of sightseers witnessed a series of balloon ascensions by John Walters of Allerton. They assembled on the vacant lot on the south east corner of the Square. They watched as the canvas bags filled with smoke and gas. They heard the bugle blast and the peal of the town’s fire bell that signaled take-off. The balloon lifted rapidly. It floated above them, They cheered as aeronaut Walters waved his handkerchief and then parachuted over the side, landing harmlessly 3 miles to the east in the Chariton River bottom. But on June 9 1897, something went badly wrong. This time John Walters was accompanied by his small dog Nero. Both were attached to parachutes. Both climbed aboard. The balloon lifted. It reached 30 feet. A sudden wind blew it dangerously close to the Western Union telegraph lines just east of the lot. Walters attempted to maintain balance. He found his parachute caught by a fastener on the balloon that now suddenly and rapidly ascended. The fastener splintered. Walters now inverted, fell 40 feet , his head and back striking the cone of the roof of the old calaboose just off the Square’s north side. People ran to help. They carried him to Dr.Reynolds’ office on Pill Row. The aeronaut was unconscious. His breath came in deep gasps. He bled from his mouth, nose, ears and a deep wound on his right temple. He lived 20 minutes. Hundreds of the curious lined up outside Dr.Reynolds’office and filed past the body. Walters’s body was put on a train. The next day he was buried in Lineville Cemetery. Pleasure was expressed that the dog, Nero, was safe. (129)

 

June 12 1916
When Iowa granted partial female suffrage, Frances Goss – her husband Thomas was the son of abolitionist Joe Goss – ran for the Centerville School Board in 1913. She was elected, topping the poll over 3 well-known men. Her iniative, leadership and independent ideas, swiftly propelled her to becoming chairman of the board. She set the stage for Appanoose County’s remarkable position 3 years later. In 1916, a statewide amendment granting Iowa women the vote lost. But in Appanoose County it passed. The County’s all-male voters supported the amendment, and they did so by a sizable majority. Appanoose men were ready again 4 years later to support their women when they again voted to support the 19th Amendment to the Constitution: “The right of all citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” (270)

 

June 13 1940
The situation for the British was dire. The Germans had invaded Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg. and France. “We have just one more battle to win,” Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, talking of Britain, told cheering thousands. The new British prime minister Winston Churchill told the British he had nothing to offer “…but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” With the invasion of the island imminent, he said, “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender….” The speech went around the world. It was reported on the front page of the Iowegian. Time magazine, sold in Allen’s bookstore on the Square’s east side, carried it in full. Roosevelt knew exactly what was happening and what was coming. Extra military recruiting officers were arriving in town. So were representatives of the Civil Aeronautics Authority who made arrangements on this day with Centerville Junior College (6 months before Pearl Harbor) to open an aviation school at the airport. Student pilots, required to be enrolled in a college or graduated from one, signed up in Junior College rooms on the top floor of the high school. (388-390)

 

June 14 1944
Reporter Ernie Pyle, moving with the troops through the Cotentin Peninsula, thought the Normandy countryside “a dreamland of beauty…too wonderfully beautiful to be the scene of war.” For the men fighting there, it was a struggle not just fighting the Germans, but coping with relentless wet, stormy weather and the “bocage,” the field boundary hedgerows formed by 2,000 years of collected earth and tangled roots. Inch by inch, the men fought, pushing the Germans north to Cherbourg. To control this port on the Atlantic tip of the peninsula, was essential for the arrival from Britain of supplies for the war as it pushed into France and Germany. Pfc. Roy Davis wrote home to his parents in Mystic, he “could see the Germans coming out of their foxholes all over the place with their hands up.” It would be Roy’s last communication with his parents. (473)

 

June 15 1944
For 8 days the fighting in Normandy had dominated the news. On this day, June 15, the major headline of the Iowegian changed the focus. It read, “Bombs Hit Japan.” It was the first bombing of Japan since Jimmy Doolittle’s “suicide ” mission 2 years previously. Flying from Chengdu, China, over Japan,, pilots of the U.S.20th Air Force bombed key Japanese industrial centers. A month later the people of Centerville learned the organizing and planning of the raid was the work of Centerville’s 31-year old Col. Dwight Monteith, the assistant operations officer of the 20th Bomber Command. Dwight was a 1930 graduate of Centerville High School whose mother worked at the County auditor’s office. Homer McClellan had recognized Dwight’s work ethic and S.A. Martin of the Pure Ice Company had supported Dwight’s passage through West Point. On the same day was another headline: “Reports Landing Attempts on Two Jap-Held islands.” The islands were the Marianas: Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. Mapping the landing sites in Gen. Nimitiz’s office in Hawaii was Lloyd “Pat” Patterson of Seymour. Backing the invasion forces moving into the Philippine Sea was the greatest armada the world had ever seen. On board the aircraft carrier the South Dakota, the division commander of the ship’s 5 inch guns, was Robert “Bob” Beck. Among the accompanying destroyers was Mystic’s (today Exline’s) John Golden on duty at the radar screen of the U.S.S. Patterson. And landing on Saipan amid torrents of Japanese artillery and mortar fire was a 17-year old marine in the front line of the 2nd. Infantry: Centerville’s J.B.Kelley. (473-474)

 

June 16 1920
The town was stunned. Even as used as the town was to murders at this time, this one
shocked and its repercussions lasted for years. It was evening. Thirty-six year old Sicilian immigrant Tony Matto had just finished his shift work at Mine #Thirty. He washed, changed his clothes in a room he rented at fellow Sicilian Luciano Tobia’s boarding house, put 15 cents in his pocket for a movie ticket and walked north along the east sidewalk of South 18th Street. At house #1607, he stopped and walked up the path of the house of George Russo. On the porch was George’s 18-year-old daughter, Carmela. Matto, witnesses later said, leaned toward her, whispered and took her arm. Within minutes Tony Matto was dead. Carmela shot him once in the yard of her home, then 6 or 7 times more as she chased him down the back alley. She then returned home, telephone Officer John Maring at the police station and said, “I’ve just shot a man, come and get me.” (253)

 

June 17 1920
As people in the town reacted to the murder the day before, there was considerable sympathy for Carmela. She was well liked. She’d come as an immigrant to Centerville at the age of six, attended McKinley School and spoke her own native Italian, English and Spanish well. She worked in the Courthouse for the Appanoose Title and Abstract Company. She assisted immigrants in their applications for citizenship or those who registered for the draft in World War 1. Character witnesses described her as “peaceful,” “quiet, ” her reputation as “good.” An open letter to the women of the County on behalf of Carmela appeared in the newspaper. People signed petitions for clemency on the counters of 7 stores on the Square – all 4 drugstores, at Frankel’s, the millinery parlor of Mrs. E Kimber, and the confectionery store of Santi Milani. More petitions appeared around the County, and, as the news spread, around the State. Now people had to wait for the trial: The State of Iowa v. Carmela Russo. They had to wait until September 20, 1920. (256-257)

 

June 18 1928
This was the day Centerville Airport opened. The morning’s news gave the day extra excitement: Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly and co-pilot the Atlantic had landed safely on a beach in Wales. At Centerville Airport – 160 acres of the Herbert Streepy Farm – 15,000 spectators, despite rain and fog, waited for events. The Des Moines Register’s plane arrived first with George Yates, the newspaper’s chief photographer, taking aerial shots of the Square and the new airport. Next came 22 planes as part of the Iowa Good Will Tour. These planes raced each other between 10 different Iowa cities for 4 days for a winner’s prize of $1,000. The first city on this day honored the new airport of Centerville. Throughout the day, the National Air Transport Company ordered U.S .Airmail planes to deviate from their routes and fly directly over Centerville Airport. The U.S. Army’s 7th Air Corps flew in from Omaha, giving demonstrations of their skills before landing. Governor John Hammill arrived also by air. The flag was raised. The Governor officially opened the airport and gave a speech on the marvels of aviation and good citizenship, using Charles Lindbergh as an example. Private planes arrived. There were competitions including one for boys under 15 for model aircraft. These were demonstrated later in the evening when the celebrations moved to the Square. Dwight Monteith flew his miniature tri-motored Fokker.(In World War 2, Dwight became a Colonel and organized the first bombing raid of Japan. This was the start Centerville gave him.) Another -15 year-old, George Phillips, flew his miniature copy of “The Spirit of St. Louis.” The town band played. There was a clown contest and, under the stars on the Courthouse Park, the day ended with a free dance. (303-304)

 

June 20 1927
“Centerville Now Boasting Airplane” said the Iowegian headline on June 20 1927. It was a year before Centerville Airport was opened. Interest in aviation was surging. Lindbergh’s flight had provided huge excitement. A further stimulation came when a new nonstop distance record was set from New York to 80 miles southeast of Berlin and one of the 2 pilots was an Iowan: Clarence Chamberlain of Denison. Just days later to that achievement, Danley Benjamin, who worked at the Looten’s Bakery on the Square, bought the town’s first aircraft. It was a standard model but powered with a new 8-cylinder OX5 Curtiss engine. The wings of the aircraft were silver, the underbelly yellow, the fuselage dark blue. People watched him play hide-and-seek in the clouds above the Courthouse Square or chase another pilot, Leroy Bartholomew, the 2 cavorting over each one of the County’s towns. (302)

 

June 21 1917
In early June of 1917, some 2,428 Appanoose men had registered for the draft. Forty four men refused to register at all. They were immigrant miners working at Thirty, Streepy, Shawville and Numa. They were arrested and placed in the County jail. They said, via an interpreter, that their Italian newspaper told them if they weren’t citizens they were exempt from the U.S.draft. Town rumors gave a different reason. They were all, it was said, from the northern provinces of Italy and all part of “a rabid socialist and anarchist cell” circulating seditious literature opposed to all government and all its officials. They appeared at the Courthouse and were sent to Ottumwa to appear before a federal grand jury. A special car of the Interurban took them to Mystic, then on to Ottumwa in the rear car of the Milwaukee Railroad Number 8. Together with their interpreter, John Azzolin, and Centerville’s Joe Milani – the agent for the Italian consul in Milwaukee (also Jim Milani’s cousin) – watched by hundreds and followed by 15 of their emotional mothers and wives, they marched from Ottumwa station, 2 or 3 abreast, up Market Street to 4th and west to Court Street and jail. Within days they were transferred to jail in Des Moines. They returned to Centerville, deposited $50 each at the post office to buy a Liberty Bond – and then registered for the draft in the courthouse. Two still refused. Peter Azoo, an Armenian, and Louis Markeni, an Italian, chose prison terms. They served a year in Appanoose County Jail and were then escorted by federal agents to St.Louis and deported. (219-220)

 

June 22 1944
Four days into the fighting on Saipan, the U.S. fleet, including the U.S.S.”Patterson” (with Mystic’s- now Exline’s- John Golden at the radar screen) and the aircraft carrier, the “South Dakota”, both part of Task Force 58, turned to counter an approaching Japanese attack. In the 2-day confrontation known as the Battle of the Philippine Sea, 7 Japanese ships were torpedoed or bombed and 243 out of 373 Japanese aircraft were shot down, with the loss of 29 American. Commanding the 5-inch guns of the “South Dakota,” with 7 enemy planes to their credit, was Centerville’s Bob Beck. One of the gunners, amazed at Bob’s “cold as ice…steady as a clock” demeanor directing the gunfire, wrote home to Bob’s parents (Jesse at the Iowegian was Bob’s father): “I was scared to death,” he wrote, “but if Bob was, you couldn’t tell it.” (474)

 

June 23 1944
As the men were fighting in the Philippine Sea, the people at home were learning the critical port of Cherbourg at the tip of the Cotentin Peninsula, was in Allied hands. One of the first soldiers to set foot there, reported the Iowegian , was S.Sgt. Robert Thistlewaite of Udell, a member of the 79th Division. And what the soldiers saw were the port facilities, so vital for the arrival of Allied reinforcements, had been totally leveled by the surrendering Germans. The port was rebuilt in record time by the 333rd U.S.Engineers. Adjutant Larry Mahoney of Unionville, 20 miles south of Centerville, was in charge of overseeing barges full of supplies being towed across the English Channel from South Wales. “There were many good Germans,” he reported; “more than one would point to the ground where I was about to step and say, “Mine!” (475)

 

June 24 1933
In the Depression, relief came for beleaguered farmers from Roosevelt’s Washington Administration on May 12 with the AAA – the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. For the farmers of Iowa, the relief was interlaced with pleasure in the president’s choice for secretary of agriculture. The credentials of 44-year old Henry Agard Wallace lay deep in the good earth of Iowa. Born on an Iowa farm near Orient, a 100 miles north of Centerville, he was educated at Iowa State University, was a brilliant scientist, absorbed Gregor Mendel’s theories of genetics and developed hybrid corn. He was the publisher and editor of “Wallace’s Farmer” that was started by his grandfather and continued by his father, Henry Cantwell Wallace, who was secretary of agriculture under 2 presidents, Harding and Coolidge. Henry Agard had spoken on farms and in Centerville at Alfalfa Banquets. He listened to the hardships of small farmers, read their letters to his newspaper and was committed to improving their plight. And there was an extra bonus for the people of the town. Centerville’s William Bradley was appointed a member of Wallace’s AAA. (352)

 

June 25 1926
It was the 50th anniversary of Custer’s Last Stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn. History says there were no survivors. But in 1955, on Chicago’s’ NBC Blue variety
Breakfast Club, on the Garry Moore TV show, and on Groucho Marx’s “You Bet Your Life,” 97 year old Ed Ryan told the nation he was the sole survivor. Furthermore, Ed Ryan announced he was born In Centerville, Iowa, the son of Patrick Ryan and he’d been baptized in St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Jesse Beck contacted Centerville’s Catholic Rectory. He was told there are no records going as far back as Ryan’s baptism. In the 1950′s, Centerville’s then oldest continuous resident, T.L.Allen, said the name, Ed Ryan was familiar; Mrs. Karl Nilsson of 520 East Clark said she’d visited the Custer Monument in Montana and found the name Ed Ryan on it; and Felicia Mathews of Cincinnati said Ed was born in Centerville: Edward Francis Ryan and was the son of Patrick Ryan and Anna Scanlon Ryan. When the movie “Little Big Man” came out in 1970, the actor Dustin Hoffman, tells the story of the battle from an old man named Jack Crabb. Crabbe was actually Ed Ryan. Local genealogist Gary Craver has repeatedly researched the local Catholic records. He received the same answer as Jesse Beck. Rumors persist that those early records DO exist..”.somewhere in Missouri”. (99 / multiple Iowegian articles/ interview: Gary Craver)

 

June 26 1942
Women began leaving town to join the WAACs at the national training base at Fort Moines. They were greeted there by Colonel Thomas N. Gimperling, who told them, the corps “…will tolerate no petulance or capricious feminine temperament.” Other Centerville women left for the navy’s WAVES, for the Coast Guard’s SPARS and for the WOW’s volunteering as Woman Ordnance Workers. African Americans were leaving, their departures separate, their destination camps segregated. When the U.S.Navy lifted its racial exclusion policy, Centerville’s 20-year-old Casey Bolden was the first African American in Iowa to enlist. “I’m proud of that boy,” said his father, an employee of the “Iowegian,” to editor Jesse Beck. (418)

 

June 27 1912
On June 27, 1912 the Interurban and special trains brought thousands to Glen Hagan Park northwest of Centerville on Cooper Creek. The event had been publicized for weeks. Posters and bills were placed in store windows around the Square and in small towns across southern Iowa. People paid 50 cents at the entrance, 25 cents for those under 15. Hundreds more lined the roads to the north, to the west and to the east “without contributing anything themselves,” pointed out the “Iowegian.” The attraction was the arrival of Centerville’s first aeroplane. The craft was a white Curtiss box biplane. The pilot, Robert G. Fowler, sat in an open cockpit. Behind him was the engine. From its crankshaft, chains ran to 2 propellers mounted behind the wings, which thrust the aircraft forward. Three times – at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, 5:30 and once again in the evening – people watched the demonstrations. The pilot cranked the engine. He adjusted his goggles and climbed aboard. The plane bumped along the flat land north of Glen Hagan’s new country club. It vibrated loudly. It rose into the air. It flew over the heads of the spectators. It circled for 5 or 10 minutes and landed. (172)

 

June 28 1880′s 1890′s
Twice a year a circus came to town: the Ringling Brothers; the New Great Pacific; Cook and Whitby; W.W.Cole; John Robinson; Sells; Forepaugh; and Barnum and Bailey. Two weeks before, heralding their arrival, 100 professional bill-posters, 75 “paste and brush” men, 4 managers and 4 bill-poster bosses arrived by train in 4 dormitory advertising cars. They placed posters on the Courthouse fence and on every barn, railing and billboard within a 50-mile radius of the City keeping careful records of each posting. One day before the show’s arrival, a special agent checked each one, renewing any that had been damaged during rainstorms. The shows arrived on special trains. They were unloaded with speed. People gathered to watch. Tents were erected on grounds at the south end of 17th Street, or on the Courthouse Park or in Lane Woods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, cabbages, strawberries and muskmelons were bought at the City Gardens of T. J. Greene (Bob Greene’s grandfather), and carried to cooks in kitchen tents. Circus day started with a morning parade at 10 o’clock. Hundreds lined the sidewalks along 14th Street (later renamed Drake Avenue, down 13th Street Street and around the Square. Small boys, uptown before daybreak, sat on the curbs. They watched as the parade approached, led by trumpeters, a drum corps and a circus band aboard a carriage pulled by teams of gleaming horses. (131-132)

 

June 29 1892
On June 29, 1892, the “Citizen” newspaper noted: “The bicycle craze has struck Centerville and the wheel-men can be seen noiselessly gliding in every direction. The ladies are not far behind…” It started 10 years before when Phil Ulrich, the town’s 3-forge blacksmith just north of the Continental Hotel on Centerville Square, built the town’s first bicycle. It had wooden wheels, iron tires and solid-axle pedals on the front wheel. People came to watch it being built. They said it wouldn’t work. They followed Phil east to the old fairgrounds on 18th Street between Bank and Wall Streets. They stood and watched. Ulrich mounted the bicycle. He circled the track. Ulrich’s bicycle reflected a national trend to outdoor sports. In Centerville it started a craze. The Centerville Cycling Club was formed. The members met each week. They studied improved designs. They changed their wheels to pneumatic tires. They bought better bicycles. New members joined. They held 10-mile handicap races. They made runs down into Missouri and up to Albia .Some rode in tandem. The roads were hilly, rough, and dirty. Wheels broke. Men fell and were injured.
In May 1894, they cycled 5 miles west to Brazil to see Kelly’s Army 500-1000 of the unemployed marching from San Francisco to Washington. When the cyclists found it was a false report, they rode back to Centerville then east to Bonaparte to see the “army” on 134 flatboats sailing southeast on the Des Moines River. The cyclists then returned to Centerville eager to collect “century bars” for 100 miles runs in one day.(101-102)

 

June 30 1914
On the 30th of June, 1914, the people of Centerville read a 32-line paragraph that appeared half-way down the center front page of the “Iowegian.” It was headlined, “Austrian Heir Is Assassinated.” Two days previously, on a crowded street in Sarajevo, a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princep, had fired 2 shots at an open automobile. The first pierced the neck of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria; the second, the abdomen of his wife, Sophie. Within minutes both were dead. Within a month, Europe was at war. Austria invaded Serbia, Austria’s ally Germany declared war on Russia and invaded both Belgium and France, and England entered in defense of Belgium and France.
Appanoose County had immigrants from all the belligerent parties. There were 68 Germans, 80 French, 808 British, 71 Russians, and 116 Belgians. Within the County, 593 had declared themselves as Austrians, submerging their identities as Czechs, Croatians, Bosnians, or Montenegrans; and there were Serbians, including Theodore Maximilian Streu, the Rock Island agent in Numa, with a claim to the throne of Serbia, his grandmother a descendant of Obilitch, hero king of Serbia. (208)

©2014 Enfys McMurry All Rights Reserved

 

 

July

July 1st 1930
Bonnie Porter of Green City, Missouri, thought she was now Mrs. Richard F. White, married in Centerville on June 17, 1930 ,to Richard F. White. She hadn’t noticed her husband’s photograph on the wall of the Appanoose Sheriff”s office giving his name as Fred Burke sought for murder in Berrien County, Michigan. The couple returned from an extensive honeymoon out West. They now moved into rooms on Kansas City’s Park Avenue and began negotiations to buy a home. Burke continued on his business trips, staying occasionally at the Porter home near Green City. Some of the neighbors in Sullivan County began to wonder about him. Rameh Peek noticed how he always lifted a child onto his lap whenever he was in company. Saline Vance didn’t like how he was always looking around over a crowd. “I think he’s a hoodlum,” she told her Aunt Etta and her daughter, Evelyn (Patsy Bunnell’s mother). “Hoodlum,” “gangster,” “bootlegger,” were all possible explanations for Burke and his money; the descriptions “killer” and “multiple killer” they never even dreamed. That he was the FBI’s most wanted criminal, the known murderer of 24-year old policeman Charles Skelly, the most likely murderer of 7 members of the Bugs Moran Gang in the notorious Valentine’s Day Massacre, they couldn’t even comprehend.(364-367).

 

July 2 1861
In the southern counties of Iowa, slaveholders were chasing their slaves north across the border in increasingly volatile confrontations with abolitionists, especially those in Cincinnati, south of Centerville. Iowans with southern sympathies were organizing into Copperhead groups, joining Knights of the Golden Circle and taking oaths to support the South. At least 6 such camps existed in Appanoose County. At one, 6 miles northwest of the Square, some 110 men, each wearing the polished head of a copper penny as a badge, marched and drilled on an 8-acre, grassy ridge surrounded by tall brush and timber. Their presence and the proximity of the Missouri border created “a constant state of excitement and fear” for the next 4 years. Rumors of attempted invasions were rife. At one, the news reached Centerville that Cincinnati had been sacked, abolitionists murdered, and the rebels’ next stop was Centerville. Farmers south of town placed their families onto wagons, seized their rifles and headed north into the Square. They were joined by the townspeople, the Appanoose Volunteers and farmers from north of town armed with every available weapon. (34)

 

July 3 1900
On 13th Street, at an empty storefront, a traveling showman invited people inside. They paid 5 cents, sat on folding chairs in the dark and watched a screen. Grainy, gray photographic images flickered and moved. For 2 minutes they saw a coastal scene with waves dashing on rocks. For another nickel and for another 2 minutes they watched a cross-country runner. There were no stories, no sound, no music, but they were the first motion pictures in Centerville and their popularity was immediate. Three churches (the Christian, Swedish Lutheran, and the Catholic) followed suit. They showed images of McKinley’s life and assassination, Queen Victoria’s funeral, King Edward 7th’s coronation, the storming of San Juan Hill, the eruption of Mount Pelee in Martinique. people said they found the images “disturbing” and said they felt “…like moving from their seats to escape harm.”
On Independence Day 1907, thousands of people watched moving pictures in a tent on the Square. Two months later the town’s first official movie house, the Lyric, opened on the Square’s west side and a year later, almost next door, the Bijou. It was at the Lyric that people saw Edwin S. Porter’s “The Life of an American Fireman” and his groundbreaking “The Great Train Robbery.” In this 14-scene, 12-minute movie, the characters moved; there were flashbacks and a close-up, uniting to tell what is credited as the first story put into movie form.

 

July 4 (Multiple years)
Part 1
On this day every year, at the first light of dawn, the firing of the cannon on the Courthouse Square awoke the community for this the most patriotic day of the year. Along those 12 streets designed by Jonathan Stratton in 1846, people came in their hundreds to greet each other, to listen to the Centerville Brass and Martial Bands play patriotic music, to salute the unfurling of the flag, to march in parades, to honor the Civil War veterans who still strode with perfect military bearing behind Old Glory, to listen to the reading of the Declaration of Independence by a leading citizen. Ice cream was served and with the dark, people waited for the firework display.

On this day in 1881, a rumor began to circulate. People looked at each other with concern. Three news bulletins had arrived that day at the Western Union telegraph office at the Rock Island Railroad Station. Runners carried them the mile to the Square. One bulletin said President Garfield had been shot at Washington’s Baltimore and Ohio Railroad depot 2 days previously. The 2nd message was that he was dead. Then came the 3rd.: “…the President is still alive but [with] so much excitement, that the truth cannot be ascertained.” In this state of suspense and uncertainty, the day on the Square continued.( 89, 90, 91) Part 2 tomorrow: that night’s spectacular firework display)

Independence Day 1881 Part 2
After dark that evening, people on the Courthouse Square waited for the firework display. Five hundred dollars had been spent on fireworks. The event was promoted as “the grandest display of the kind ever witnessed in Southern Iowa.” Groups of the fireworks were assembled in a formation, each resembling a pigeon. When the fireworks were lit, the “pigeons” were to be pushed from the cupola of the Courthouse (Courthouse #2…not the present Courthouse) to travel along a wire stretched to the new Bradley building on the Square south side. The fireworks were designed to burst and explode in the air above the crowd. On the first run, halfway along the wire, the lit “pigeon” suddenly stopped, then started back to the cupola, landing and setting alight the reserve stock of fireworks. The whole cupola with its woodwork burst into shooting rockets and flames. The 4 men working in the tower found their trap-door exit sealed shut and escaped by jumping through side windows onto the roof 18 feet below. People raced to help. The fire department, with the town’s new fire engine, went into action. Men climbed onto the roof, dragging up the fire hose, which burst, was repaired and for over an hour supplied a steady stream of water from the Square’s 4 cisterns, finally extinguishing the fire. Haemmerle Williams from the tin shop on the north side said the event gave new meaning to the words the “rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air.” The next line of the national anthem was given new meaning that night as well – people looked up, noting that “our flag was still there.” Above the fire and the surging crowds below, it waved from the top of the cupola, unscorched and unhurt. (92)

 

July 5 1918
This day’s Iowegian reported an event that had happened the day previously, on Independence Day 1918. This story affected the whole community, not just for that day or that week but for years. It happened at Thistle Coalmine Number 2 , two miles northeast of Cincinnati. Fourteen-year-old Vincel Kovacevick was playing with 2 of the sons of August Kauzlarich the nearby farmer. The 3 boys had entered the mine to “cool off” – something they often did on very hot days. Vincel collapsed almost as soon as he entered the disused mine airshaft. August Kauzlarich’s 2 sons raced to get their father. Forty-two-year-old August ran to the mine. He found Vincel 9 feet below the opening. He put him over his shoulder, rushed to the mine entrance, but a short distance from it collapsed himself. Both Vincel and August died. August’s wife, Antonija, pregnant with baby #10, was now forced to raise all ten of her children alone.That baby #10 was Augusta Kauzlarich. In 2004, Iowegian staff writer, Patsy Cincotta interviewed Augusta. “Someone knew about my mother’s situation with 10 kids and the hardships trying to get by after my father’s death,” she told Patsy. “They wrote to the Carnegie Foundation and told the story. Mother received a Carnegie medal in a leather, velvet-lined case. She also received $5 per month from the fund.” In 1986, Augusta was given the medal by her mother. “She told me she gave it to me because I never got to meet my father. He died on the 4th of July and I was born Nov. 19.”(307-308 & “The father she never knew was’Carnegie hero’ Iowegian Sept.2 2004)

 

July 6 1863
News from Civil War battles appeared in the Keokuk, Burlington, or Des Moines newspapers and were delivered late in the evening by horseback to the post office on Centerville’s south side. No matter how late, people waited. “Grandad” Manson adjusted his spectacles and opened the mailbags. It was in this way, the town learned of the victory as Vicksburg. By June, the situation inside that town on the high eastern bluff of the Mississippi was desperate. General Grant’s siege of the town was so successful a Vicksburg newspaper on July 2 was written on wallpaper, its tone, 2 days from surrender, asking for mercy. Outside, dug into the hillside, waiting for the town to fall, were thousands of Union troops. They included Appanoose men serving in Co.D of Iowa’s 6th Infantry. Governor Kirkwood arrived from Des Moines and visited every Iowa regiment. He visited the hospitals, visibly moved by the many sick, wounded and dying. The end for Vicksburg came on July 4, 1863, the nation’s 87th birthday. Annie Wittenmyer (who had transformed nursing and was well known in Centerville) watched as the Confederate flag was lowered and replaced with the Stars and Stripes. “What a burst of enthusiasm greeted it” she later wrote. “We waved our handkerchiefs while the men who had faced the cannon’s mouth for the flag sobbed in their wild joy and flung their caps into the air.” Several days later, 580 miles to the north, the news arrived in Centerville. As “Grandad” Manson sorted the mail, his eyes caught a newspaper headline “Vicksburg Is Ours.” Slowly and hesitatingly, he announced it. Those waiting in the post office rushed out. Blacksmiths were roused from sleep. They hammered their anvils. A cannon was repeatedly fired. Candles were lit in the windows and the cupola of the new courthouse. By 11 p.m. 3,000 people were on the Square, “…all crazy with joy…[a]nd all the next day the streets were filled by a moving crowd, too happy to work, careless of the sorrows the war had brought, and indifferent to the future.”(50-52)

 

July 7 ( and throughout the summer)1944
That summer, as the men fought on the Cotentin Peninsula and deeper into Normandy, news of deaths came steadily to the community, and, in the pattern of war, they came late, arriving weeks and months after the event. The first Appanoose County man killed in Normandy was 21-year-old James Lee Harrington of Cincinnati. He died on Omaha Beach on D-Day, pulled under the water by the boat’s propeller as he tried to disembark. Not until 1 month later, on July 6, was he reported “missing in action.” His death was not confirmed to his parents until 6 months later, on January 6, 1945. Staff Sgt. Richard L.Patterson of Exline was last heard of on June 19 when he was aboard an LST sunk by enemy mines off the coast of France, and Marvin Burton, whose sister lived in Moravia, missing since June 18, was not confirmed dead until April 28, 1946 – 2 years later. Nineteen-year-old Pearl Dee Glasgow was killed on July 27; the news of his death reached his parents in Udell on August 31. Another Harrington – Pvt. Ist Class Earl Harrington, born and raised in Exline was killed on August 10, the news reaching Centerville on September 14. Earl was serving with the medical corps of the 28th Infantry. Despite being hit by machine-gun fire, he crawled to tend to a wounded soldier, successfully completed the dressing, then threw himself across a 2nd soldier to protect him from gunfire flak that ended his own life. It was an act of heroism that earned him a Distinguished Service Cross, delivered posthumously to his family.(477)

 

July 8 1944
There were deaths reported to the community from Italy and the Pacific. Staff Sgt, Carl Hobart, an engineer and nose-turret gunner on a 15th U.S. Air Force Liberator
bomber, whose father was the typesetter at the Iowegian office, was killed instantly on June 22 while flying a mission over Bologna in northern Italy. Another Centerville man, also flying north out of Italy was a copilot. He was Lieutenant Charles Bland, killed on July 16, flying over the oil refineries of Ploesti, Romania. And to the McDonald family of Iconium, notification arrived of 2 sons killed: Pvt.1st Class William McDonald in Italy on July 26 and, 2 weeks later his brother, Corp. Joe McDonald in the Pacific.
In August there were more reports. Pvt.1st Class Charles Ward of Moulton was killed, as were 5 men from Centerville. They were Pvt. Gerald Kennedy of West State Street, Chief Warrant Officer Howard Chriss of West Maple, and Sgt. Arthur Sobieski of South 12th Street, a member of the 581st Ambulance company – his wife, Christine, the dearly loved music teacher at Mystic. Then on Saturday, August 12, a rumor spread across the town. – Lieutenant Theodore(Teddy) Rosenbaum, the son of one of the town’s leading families, the winner of local awards for leadership and character, loved by everybody, had been killed. Teddy, serving with the 90th Infantry, was killed on July 12 in the breakout from the Cotentin Peninsula to St, Lo. So was Pvt.1st Class Roy Davis, who’d written home to his parents in Mystic describing the German soldiers coming up out of foxholes with their arms raised. Roy Davis’s death was not confirmed to his parents until November 23, 5 months later.(478)

 

July 9 1943
In darkness early on June 9-10, 1943, the U.S. 7th Army under Patton, the British 8th and the Canadian 1st Infantry under Montgomery disembarked from LST beaching crafts west and east of Cape Passero, Sicily. Within hours, 150 miles of shoreline were secured, and the men were moving inland. A month later, by July 9, the 7th Army was already reaching the north coast. Reese Hudson with the 19th Combat Engineers was spending his days unscrewing detonators on hundreds of mines, bulldozing holes and finding bypasses around blown bridges. In a letter home to his parents in Brazil, he described Sicily as “the hilliest place I ever saw. A person is always going up or down.” Corp. Floyd Purvis of Mystic thought Sicily “an awful place to call home,” but he appreciated the cheering, the crying, the clapping and the singing when the first U.S. motorized units drove through the village of St.Antaino. Richard Stockwell wrote home to his parents in Moulton that he was sleeping in foxholes, was sometimes asleep before he hit the ground and hadn’t taken off his shoes for for seven days and seven nights. The other day,” he wrote, “I went into an old cathedral, hundreds of years old and knelt to pray with a nun, made me feel better, but it seemed pretty strange to be there covered with dust and not able to speak their language.” At the end of the letter, he asked, “When did the Jerries ever get that cockeyed idea that they were some sort of master race? I don’t think they care much for us since we’ve put a dent in the idea.”(439-440)

 

July 10 1940
As America was arming itself the summer and fall of 1940, Britain was in mortal peril. Prior to invading across 26 miles of the English Channel, the Nazi Luftwaffe was bombing the British, attempting to eliminate the RAF (Royal Air Force ), paralyze the country and demoralize its people. The “Battle Of Britain” began in earnest on July 10, 1940. It continued across August, reaching its violent crescendo in September with daylight bombings of London, then in October and November bombings at night. Across Centerville, across Appanoose County, across the nation, people in comfortable living rooms were tuning their radios to hear Winston Churchill’s speeches to the British people carried over U.S.networks. Night after night, CBS’s Ed Murrow began with 3 words, a characteristic pause over the first: “This…is London.” He took his microphone onto rooftops and onto streets. American listeners heard the warning sirens, the sounds of British feet walking without panic to air-raid shelters. They heard the sounds of bombs falling, the antiaircraft guns, the whistles of police officers and air-raid wardens, the bells of ambulances. “March of Time” newsreels shown at the Majestic Theatre, showed the devastation of London, graphic pictures of its victims, young RAF pilots racing to their Spitfires and Hurricanes and rising to intercept the incoming Dornier bombers with their escorts of Messerschmitts. American reporters, sharing their experiences and dangers, were identifying with the British people. So were most Americans. (390-391)

 

July 11 1940
The headline in the Iowegian read: “Killer Burke, Wed in Centerville, Dies in Prison.”
Fred Burke, the notorious murderer, the hit man for Al Capone, the assassin of the Bugs Moran Gang at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the slayer of Frankie Yale in New York City, the killer of 24-year-old policeman Charles Skelly, was dead of a heart attack at Marquette State Penitentiary, Michigan. In Centerville under the assumed name Richard F. White, he had married Bonnie Porter of Sullivan County Missouri. They met when Burke under his assumed name was staying at the farmhouse of Mrs. Amanda Bailey, a neighbor to Bonnie’s parents, near Green City,some 20 miles south of Centerville. Burke’s arrest was the result of identification by the 29-year-old attendant in Green City’s Shell Gas Station. Joe Hunsaker was the insatiable reader of detective magazines. In 1929 and 1930 those magazines were full of the story of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and the murder of policeman Charles Skelly. Hunsaker was already suspicious of Burke, When one of the magazines carried a photograph of wanted man Fred Burke, and despite surgical changes to Burke’s nose and teeth, Hunsaker was sure. For a year and a half he observed Burke, secretly contacted J.Edgar Hoover, and waited for Burke’s arrest on March 26, 1931. Burke served a life sentence for the murder of Charles Skelly. Bonnie, her family, friends and neighbors were all shocked at the arrest of Burke. They claimed no knowledge of his real identity or of his record. Bonnie moved to Chicago. She visited Burke in prison several times, divorced him and remarried. (365-368)

 

July 12 1921
The reputation of Centerville was spreading and it was not good. Crime was constant and escalating. Children ran away from home; some were abandoned, some neglected. Young men loafed on 13th Street across from the Majestic, in stairways and outside buildings on the Square, exposing pedestrians to obscene language. Window peeking was rife. Children begged outside movie houses and on street corners. One spent the night, undetected in the armory; another, a girl of 14, wandered the Courthouse at closing time and spent the night as a guest of the sheriff. Young men cruised in cars. Girls were harassed, some abducted, some raped; 4 of those were under age – 15, 12, 11, and 8, the 11-year old by her own father. In July 1921, the Des Moines News placed a story about Centerville’s violence on its front page. The article cited 21 deaths in the area of South 18th Street in the previous 15 years, “…not by accidents or mad rushing waters, but by the modern revolver, knives, bottles, picks or anything that the murderer might lay his hands on while in the mood for killing.” A business visitor at the Continental asked, “Why is it that the only time you see Centerville mentioned in the city papers, is in connection with some murder or sensational case?” The people of the town had had enough. (261-262)

 

July 13 1936
The severe winter of 1936 was followed by the severe summer of 1936. An egg was successfully fried on a heavy iron manhole cover at the intersection of Main and Maple Streets. Discarded turkey eggs at the Merritt Farm south of Seymour spontaneously hatched. Vegetation dried. Crops were ruined. Fire swept the fields of tinder-dry grass. People died of heat stroke. The healthy suffered prostration and exhaustion. The feet of Centerville’s prize-winning band, marching in the streets of Kansas City, stuck to melting hardtop. The brass players stopped playing unable to bear the brass pieces in their mouths, and the reed players, including E flat clarinetist Himie Voxman, spat into their instruments to keep them from drying out. In a 15-minute hailstorm on July 20, temperatures dropped 20 degrees. By August 13 the heat returned, remaining at or above 100 degrees for a further 16 days. (375-376)

 

July 14 1901-1911
The 5 train systems that came through Appanoose in those years, offered to the people of Centerville and the County a golden era in travel opportunities. The Burlington offered connections to Lincoln, Nebraska, for California via the Union Pacific or north to St.Paul to connect to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Canadian West via the Canadian Pacific. Also at St.Paul, transfers were available to the crack trains of the Northern Pacific to Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The Northern Pacific trains had just broken the world train record, crossing the 3,178 miles from Seattle to New York City in 82.25 hours beating the old West-to East-Coast record by 5 hours and 25 minutes. From Centerville, the Rock Island had high speed direct journeys to the Southwest and to California. Both the Rock Island and the Burlington offered from Centerville “low-priced round-trip tickets” for special events and locations: to the Iowa State Fair, to Kansas City baseball games, to the opening of the Mississippi River Dam in Keokuk. Advertisements invited people to visit the Grand Canyon, to see Yellowstone Park: “…it belongs to all the people…have you inspected your property?” (165)

 

July 15 1938
On this day, the picture came across the Iowegian’s Wirephoto machine. People came to watch. They stood amazed in the office on Main Street. It was sent by Associated Press and disgorged at 60-words-per-minute-clip from 2 AP teletype machines. There in the center, sitting on the tonneau of an automobile was Howard Hughes. On his left sat Appanoose County’s own: Mystic’s Al Lodwick in a white suit.They were in a ticker tape parade, riding in New York City triumphantly up Lower Manhattan from the Battery to the City Hall. The celebration was Howard Hughes’ record breaking flight around the world. Hughes left New York July 10, 1937 at 7:20 p.m. He returned July 14 at 2:34 p.m. The trip had taken 3 days. 19 hours and 17 minutes. His indispensable manager for that flight was Al Lodwick. Jesse Beck’s editorial said, [Lodwick] aided Admiral Byrd in his preparations for the Byrd expedition to the Antarctic and was there to see him off. ” Likewise, he has been the consultant on whom Hughes has relied in making his plans and was at the field Sunday evening as Hughes’ party left. Messages reporting the progress of the flight were sent to Lodwick by Hughes.”(381 and Editorial) Note: Martin Scorsese’s 2004 movie, “The Aviator” about the life of Howard Hughes used newsreel photographs of the day. In that New York City ticker tape parade, Al Lodwick can be quite clearly seen sitting in his white suit, to the left of Hughes.

 

July 16 1932
On this morning of July 16, people were startled by a notice on the door of the Wooden State Savings Bank on the west side of the Square (today: Cosby’s Audio Video & Appliances). It said that the bank’s “business is temporarily suspended for the purpose of possible readjustment.” It was a symptom of the continued plight of the farmers during the Depression. In one year, 1931, 87 farms and town properties were sold by the Appanoose County Sheriff – all foreclosed by court order. The value of County land was still in free fall. So were the prices of oats, corn, milk, pork and beef. Farmers were unable to pay bank mortgages.This placed the banks that were still open in crisis. At the Wooden bank almost half a million dollars had been withdrawn and deposits had been depleted to something more than $250,000. President Charles R. Wooden tried to maintain stability with his own money but it was a losing battle. The Wooden Bank seemed to be bearing the brunt of the community’s conditions. Dr. Bamford of the Bamford Clinic on South Main Street spoke out. What is happening to the farmers, he said, is universal, ruthless, and pitiless. “The history of the world teaches that any nation in which Agriculture has been allowed to perish, that nation has perished also. History does not record one exception.”( 332 & “Bank Suspends Until Plan Can Be Worked Out.” Iowegian July 16 1932.)

 

July 17 1945
In Appanoose County people were reading the Iowegian with anxiety. On this day, July 17, they read, “American Task Force Lies Close To Shores of Japan”; days later AP war editor Leonard Milliman wrote, “Tokyo said today Japan would choose ‘utter destruction’ under admittedly superior Allied might rather than yield to the …unconditional surrender ultimatum that had been sent by President Truman.” That Japanese refusal set the course of history. Truman’s reference to “utter destruction” was the result of 4 years of experiments and developments in atomic fission. Physicists, including Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard, and men escaping Nazi Europe had warned Roosevelt of the German work on uranium fusion. The president in response created the U.S.Office of Scientific Research and Development. Its most secret work was known popularly as the “:Manhattan Project.” When the scientific goal of of fission was achieved, engineers built the community of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico, and other key facilities around the country. Unknown until the end of the war was the number of Centerville people involved in the project.( 508-509) In the December 30 edition of this column, you met some. You’ll meet more on August 6 (the anniversary of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima); and on August 9 (when the 2nd bomb was dropped on Nagasaki).
July 18 1918
Everyday of July 1918, the town heard of German reversals and retreats at the hands of the Allied forces.Among them, local boys were west of Chateau Thierry; they had taken the village of Veaux. the military target Hill 192 and Roche Wood, and were penetrating the Caranbaut Wood. They had inflicted heavy losses on the enemy and taken 450 prisoners, and then 30,000 more and secured Soissons. Mayor Fox read the headlines from the steps of the City Hall: “British Smash Thru,” French Pinch Another Salient,” “Yanks Bite in Again.” Spontaneously in response and daily for the next 4 months until the end of the war on November 11, parades became a daily Centerville phenomenon. The town band started the pattern walking the streets playing martial music. At its head, a large flag was carried by a boy or girl at each corner. The town’s former residents of England, France, and Italy, representing the Allied forces joined in, carrying their national flags. At 10:30 every morning including Sundays, shopkeepers shut up their shops and followed Mayor Fox carrying the flag. They walked around the Square twice, frequently joined by onlookers. One parade was held in Mystic, and on Saturday nights there were expanded versions.(227 & Note: see Santi Milani carrying the flag on page 228.)

 

July 19 1932
Appanoose County’s unemployed on this date was 450. Starvation for them was imminent. The Red Cross shipped 30,000 pounds of flour to the County. The flour arrived by rail in carloads: 10,000 pounds, followed by 15,000 for Centerville, 5,000 for Mystic, with allotments for Numa, Unionville, Plano, Cincinnati, and Dean. People lined up at distribution points – the welfare office on West Van Buren in Centerville, the Paul Dixon Legion Post in Mystic. The recipients were but a fraction of the millions now unemployed throughout the country. The states, the cities, the churches and private charities were exhausted. There was only one answer: federal relief. On this date, the Iowegian reported that in one stroke of the pen, Republican President Herbert Hoover signed into law the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. By so doing, he committed the federal government to “the most far-reaching relief plan in history.” For Hoover, it was too late, even in his home state of Iowa. By November 8th the country elected a new president: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And Appanoose County for the first time in its long post-Civil War Republican record, had gone Democratic. (342-343)

 

July 20 1942-5
As the country geared itself into 2nd World War production, vital raw materials were critically short. Collections of metals, rubber, greases, nylons and silks, paper and rags, even milkweed pods to supplement kapok to line life preservers and life vests were held across the nation. To read of how the people of Appanoose organized themselves and took their part in these collections is a marvelous, heart-warming and for our own day, encouraging story. A quote from S.A. Southern,of Moulton said it all: “We’ll get it. We’ll get it all. it’s our chance to do our part.” Soon there was another drive. Centerville’s head of all the County’s drives, Clarence Hood, on March 9 1942 explained, “Taxes,” he said, ” will never produce all the money needed to finance the war. The balance must be secured thru the American people.” People started buying U.S. Defense Bonds. Each County was given a target amount. Jesse Beck placed a red savings bond, topped by an eagle and cut with a large V for victory sign, on the masthead of the Iowegian.. A large thermometer was built onto the side of the Courthouse. At its top was written the set target amount for the current drive. At each $100 sale of a Defense Bond, fire custodian Joe Milani blew the town’s fire siren and pushed up the level of the thermometer’s graduated meter. On the 3rd anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Oscar Jones, a popular graduate of Centerville High School, an African American, now a coxswain in the U.S.Navy and home on leave, fired a salute bomb from a mortar on the Square for every $1,000 of E bonds sold. He did that until 1 p.m., when the bomb supply was exhausted, and Joe Milani’s fire siren took over. ((420-425)

 

July 20 2014
Yesterday, Staff Sgt. Robert Howard came home. He was laid with full military honors next to his father at Sunset View Cemetery north of Moulton in this good earth of Appanoose County. In World War 2, Robert was serving with the 450th Bomber Squadron of the 9th USAAF. This squadron flew in North Africa, supporting the British 8th Army fighting against Rommel’s Deutsches Afrika Corps. It flew again over Sicily and southern Italy when the U.S.7th Army under Patton, the British 8th and the Canadian 1st Infantry Divisions landed west and east of Cape Passero. Sicily and within hours the 150 miles of shoreline were secure, and the men were moving inland. By October 1943, the 9th, with Robert Howard, went to England to prepare for the D-Day invasion. Robert’s squadron flew countless hours leaving airfields in south eastern England to drop bombs on target sites preparartory to the invasion. By April 16th, 1945, when Robert’s aircraft was shot down, the Allied forces were well across Europe, the Battle of the Bulge months over, the Germans now in a one-way retreat. Robert died on April 16, exactly 3 weeks before the end of the European War on May 7.

 

July 21 1943-1945
In October 1943, when Robert Howard’s bomber group was transferred to England, it worked in parallel with the 8th USAAF: “The Mighty Eighth”. This one US Air force flying those bombing missions from England over Germany and occupied France, lost more men than all the marines killed in the whole of World War 2. Conservative estimates place the number at 28,000. Some 27 men served with the 8th from Appanoose County, at least 8 were killed, their bodies never found. The first was Lieutenant Eugene Wilcox of Moravia.(for more on Gene, see this column August 19.) At more than 80 airfields in southeast England, the men lived in barracks and huts and squad tents with wooden floors. Every airmen flew 25 missions in a crew of ten aboard “Flying Fortresses” – the B-17s – each aircraft given a special nickname. (Robert Howard in a Martin Marauder was in a crew of 6). Each mission’s target was to destroy the Luftwaffe and the German industrial might by precision bombing in daylight, complementing the RAF’s Bombing at night. The 8th first mission was a daylight attack on the marshaling yards of Rouen in which the lead plane was flown by Paul Tibbets of Des Moines. (Tibbets was the pilot who dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.) (456-457)( Tomorrow: some of the 8th’s Appanoose men who survived.)

 

July 22 1945
Exline’s L.Jay Johnson, who opened a funeral home on East Maple Street on his return to Centerville from World War 2, survived the US 8th AAF. He won a “Lucky Bastard” award from his fellow airmen on completion of 25 dangerous missions: the award now the proud possession of Byron and Peggy Johnson. Steve Zaputil also survived. He told his story to his children and grandchildren in 4 installments in the Ad-Express/Iowegian April 22,29 & May 3,9 2002. Steve described his missions and how in good, clear weather, he’d see the English coast, passing directly over the White Cliffs of Dover and once almost directly over the Eiffel Tower. He told them he once met a Dutch woman who told him as a child she’d run out of doors to watch the bombers stream over her home. She said at times it took an hour for all to cross, and it was a welcome and awesome sight to see. Captain Max Ellis had worked with the US 8th Airforce in England. He’d planned the combat missions, he’d trained peronnel and he’d maintained the Pathfinders – the aircraft that flew first across the English Channel on D-Day, including the Pathfinder with John Koestner (Chris’ father). Max also was involved in secret radar work at Bletchley Park north of London, a subject he wouldn’t talk about. ( On August 9, meet a student at CHS, who flew with the US 8thAAF and won a Congressional Medal of Honor.)

 

July 23 1920-1926
For some people , the changing role of women in this time, was leading to the breakdown of the family. The “Divorce Rate Is Appalling,” said one headline. (It was the KKK Southern Iowa American.) It cited an Iowa State Department of Health statistic that in Appanoose County, 1 in every 4 marriages was ending in divorce. Father Alexander at St. Mary’s Catholic Church described it as America’s greatest evil: “…that abominable thing,” he said, “…which is sanctioned by the courts we call divorce.” Father Alexander went further, decrying the use of birth control methods, then administered at the discretion of local doctors and advocated in a speech in Des Moines by Margaret Sanger. He described the methods used as blocking “the laws of nature in the name of hygiene.” Judge F.M.Hunter of the district court looked at the list of 61 divorces before him. “Time was when a woman married,” he said, “she became practically dependent on the man. Education and training have changed her condition. “they now have the feeling of independence, and they no longer tolerate from the husband what they formerly feared.” Judge Hunter and Father Alexander might have considered that divorce was preferable to women committing suicide. Between 1900 and 1913, there were a number in the County. Ten were reported, others hinted at. The victims had taken carbolic acid, strychnine, laudanum, lye or an overdose of sleeping tablets. All were married women, and many were mothers with young children. Most left notes citing “family troubles.” One, a woman living east of Darbyville, some 5 miles north of Centerville, was accused of being a member of a suicide club, teaching the unhappy and the trapped how to die out of their unhappiness. 271-272)

 

July 24 1931
People were suffering through the stifling hot summer of 1931. Temperatures hovered night and day in the high 90′s and low 100′s. And then came the grasshoppers. By this date, July 24, came reports that they were laying bare whole counties in South Dakota and Nebraska, the borders of Minnesota and Iowa. They were devouring everything containing vegetable fiber. They ate wagon tongues, fenceposts and clothing. Farmers raked dead hoppers into piles and burned them. Bonfires dotted the plains. Crops almost destroyed by the heat and the drought were finished off when the grasshoppers swarmed in. In South Dakota, whole families moved northward in covered wagons, driving half-starved herds before them. More than 3,000 head of cattle were shipped in one week from South Dakota to northern Nebraska. By July 28, hordes had invaded Iowa’s western counties. By the 31st. they were in Appanoose. Farmers reported they were in their fields. They were damaging lawns and flowers. On the roads, driving into a swarm of the insects was like driving into a snowstorm. Car radiators were jammed full of their dead bodies. Every morning they were swept off the Square and the downtown sidewalks. Iowa’s State Agricultural Director, Mark Thornberg announced a fund of $50,000 to battle the grasshoppers. Aircraft flew overhead spraying bran mash laced with arsenic. It seemed man and nature had conspired together to ruin the farmer.(330)

 

July 25 1942
In the week of the County Fair in 1942, drives to buy Defense Bonds and Defense Stamps went into overdrive. Fifteen-year-old Dorothy Drake ( now Dorothy Haines of Exline) was selected as Miss 4-H. She wore a dress sent from Younkers Department Store in Des Moines. It was of white net overlaid with red and blue defense stamps. She carried a bouquet of more war stamps (photograph 427). At the fairgrounds, an army jeep gave free rides to adults who’d bought $25.00 of war bonds that day. On the Square, as at every drive, store windows were decorated with photographs of the County’s young men then fighting for their country. The photographs were flanked by flags, military insignia and patriotic symbols. Girl Scouts, women’s club members, 4-H Club girls and precinct workers made house-to-house appeals. They circled the Square wearing red, white, and blue streamers. They carried decorated trays of Defense Stamps. They sat at booths inside shop entrances, selling one dollar cellophane-wrapped corsages made with 98 cents worth of Defense Stamps arranged on a background of red, white, and blue imitation petals, leaves and stems. They sold smaller versions as boutonnieres for lapels. There were special incentives. A local beauty dressed in red, white, and blue, sitting in a decorated wheelbarrow, was pushed around the Square in turn by businessmen who’d bought bonds. (426)

 

July 26 1924
The article title read: DEATH NOTE FAILS TO SCARE SHERIFF. “Meet me on the road south of No.30 if you are not afraid. I’ll get you if you do. Be there at a quarter to twelve.” The Sheriff was Earl Gaughenbaugh. He’d survived gas attacks and trench warfare at Ypres in World War One; he’d dealt with murders, violence, and coalmine warfare in Appanoose on a daily basis. Earl Gaughenbaugh was difficult if not impossible to scare. He drove to the location at 11:30, waited until the exact time, got out of his car, sauntered around, waited until 15 after the time, fired his gun in the air to let any lurking opponent know he’d kept the appointment, and drove back into town. Black Hand letters had begun arriving in Appanoose County as early as 1911. La Mano Nera, was born in Sicily and imported into the U.S. in the 1880′s. It started as a protection society offering modest insurance and burial benefits for Italian/Sicilian immigrants. It degenerated demanding extortion money, particularly from successful immigrants, and it settled personal feuds with brutality. Bionchi Luizi told friends he had refused to dynamite the home of the Seymour town marshall and now feared for his own life. He chose suicide, throwing himself down a Seymour mine shaft. That was the first reported local Black Hand event. In 1917,Sam Massey reported he feared for his life from “the gang.” Two months later, a badly frightened unnamed foreigner, a section hand on the Rock Island, asked for police protection and got it. He was secreted at the police station until he could safely leave town. These incidents remained unconnected until the night of October 31, 1918, when Tony DeZorzi’s house at North 10th and West Van Buren was dynamited. (255 /article on Sheriff Gaughenbaugh’ note see Iowegian July 18 1924 / account of Tony DeZorzi’s experience see this column October 31 2013)

 

July 27 1943
With North Africa secured, Centerville’s Company G, as part of the 34th “Red Bull” Division was at Bizerte, fueling the B-17′s and B-24′s on their way to bomb Naples and the outskirts of Rome They were unloading ships bringing supplies and military equipment arriving from the United States. including tanks for Patton with the ace of spades decorating their sides. Moulton’s Tracey Corder and Unionville’s Richard Harrington each made 4 such trans-Atlantic trips. And the men of Company G were setting up staging camps for the thousands of surrendering POW’s in North Africa, furnishing cooks and digging latrines.On this day, the 34th was moved east from Bizerte to Oran and assigned in reserve to Mark Clark’s U.S.5th Army for the invasion of Italy. The 34th trained and integrated with the 100th Infantry Battalion composed of Hawaiian Americans who’d volunteered as soon as Americans of Japanese ancestry were declared eligible for service. Among them was Daniel Inouye who would one day serve 6 terms as Hawaii’s senator. The papers of these Hawaiian Americans had been assembles and delivered to their departing ship in Honolulu Harbor by Maurice Stamps of Seymour, who was serving in the adjutant general’s office at Fort Shafter.(438-440)

 

July 28 1929
Feelings between coal owners and the County’s miners were about to explode. Complicating the situation,the miners were divided between 2 unions. The United Mineworkers of America (UMWA) was led by a man well known in Appanoose County. Born just outside Lucas, some 38 miles northwest of Centerville, John Llewellyn (John L.) Lewis as a young man had worked in the Forbush and Rathbun mines and collected his wages from the Whitebreast Mining Company’s office on the north side of Centerville’s Square. In 1924 President John L. Lewis negotiated a national wage agreement with coal owners called the Jacksonville Agreement. It placed a miner’s wage at $7:50 a day. For many of Appanoose County’s coal owners this was too much. They cited the different geology of the mines as opposed to the coal mines of places like Pennsylvania: here the coal seams were narrow, and they were deep. Extracting the coal was slower and more expensive. Appanoose was judged a “high cost coalfield.” (see 315)

There was a 2nd miners’ union. Originally started in Macon, Missouri, it was called the United Brotherhood of Miners. Centerville’s J. “Pete” Agnessen, the same Belgian coal miner who’d courageously been the first to stand up to the KKK, left the UMWA, joined the Brotherhood and became its president. Members of the new union, facing the realities of the shrinking coal industry, were prepared to work for $5.00 a day. The UMWA held mass meetings. A crowd of 1,000 listened to speakers for 5 hours, then for several more hours in the evening on the south side of the Courthouse. The coal owners were called “cowards”; the Brotherhood was seeking to “betray” the miners with “subtle and poisonous influences,” and worse, it was in league with the owners to break the UMWA. That was the background. The explosion was about to break and it started in Mystic. (306- 309)

 

July 29 1933
On July 29 1933, the Wayne County sheriff’s office telephoned the Appanoose County deputy sheriff Ray Brunson requesting help.Centerville’s officers were asked to be armed and drive west on Highway 3 (today’s 2). A large green coupe with yellow wheels and a rumble seat, said to be carrying Bonnie and Clyde had just turned east on the road out of Corydon. Wayne County officers were following. The joint pursuit was fruitless. Later came reports that the car had turned north. It was seen with 3 occupants – one lying down in the car as though injured. They were seen on the Clarkdale road, and on the same night a farmer’s store in Plano was broken into and $20.00 taken. It was 5 days after the Barrows’ gang shoot-out at Dexter, Iowa. Clyde’s brother Marvin was dying in a Perry hospital. Blanche, Marvin’s wife, was under arrest in Des Moines. The remnants of the gang – Bonnie and Clyde and one other – the police thought were taking back roads, dodging and twisting to avoid capture. They were being pursued in 8 states, stealing cars, abandoning and burning them. On April 9 1934 they were rumoured to be back in the vicinity, stealing an Oldsmobile in Indianola, burning it north of Mystic, and again disappearing. The pattern ended 2 weeks later with the death of Bonnie and Clyde, shot by a squad of Texas officers at Black Lake, about 90 miles south of Shreveport, Louisiana, on May 23, 1934. (369-370)

 

July 30 1942-6
Salvage collections in Appanoose, never stopped and continued throughout the war.
Jesse Beck printed a skunk and a verse at the masthead of his newspaper. It read
We’ll beat Hitler,
The dirty skunk,
If you’ll turn in,
All your junk.
105 tons of metal were collected from the County’s farms. They rattled into Centerville in trucks supplied by the Pure Ice Company, Gavronsky’s Junk Yard and extra trucks supplied by Triple A and the Farmers’ Exchange. The metal was weighed on the City weighing scales next to the City Hall, just off the Square on West Jackson Street. By August 11, three Centerville city streets alone were yielding 5,180 pounds of waste material. Some of the scrap bought scrip money for the donor in a campaign titled, “Scrip for Scrap to Whip the Jap.” Others received 60 cents for 100 pieces of scrap metal, 90 cents a pound for rags. 1 cent a pound for rubber, 4 cents a pound for light grease (3 cents for the dark variety) and 75 cents for batteries. Scrap metal and rubber collections could give free admittance to movie shows. Two hundred pounds of metal earned 100 free baby chicks from the Swift and Company Uptown Hatchery across from the armory (today’s Hubbard Apt) on East Jackson. It earned children at Lincoln School a new gas stove from Grant Venell of Venell and Company and a Christmas party for those at Garfield School.(421)

 

 

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August

August 1 1940
As the Nazi bombs rained on London, “March of Time” newsreels, shown at the Majestic revealed the devastation they caused with graphic pictures of its victims. On this day, Centerville people volunteered to adopt British refugee children. They started a Bundles for Britain organization. Donated shoes were collected in a barrel outside Dunham’s Central Shoe Store on the Square. It was painted red, white, and blue. Centerville mayor T.J.McIntire was the first to make a contribution. Knitting clubs were started. Knitting needles flashed furiously at parties and social gatherings. The Country Club was thick with knitters as well as it was with golfers. Children in Mystic’s 7th grade class learned to knit and purl, making sweaters for Norwegian refugees in England.(390-392)

 

August 2 1927
“Mine Trouble at Mystic Growing More Acute Now.” This was the headline of the Iowegian on August 2 1927. Over the years, Mystic had long been the center of union activity. Nationally-known speakers had addressed crowds there: “Big Bill” Haywood, Eugene Debs, John L.Lewis on multiple occasions, and Mother Jones, beloved by miners across the country and whose rallying cry was “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” When 4 coalmines opened under the Brotherhood’s pay scale of $5.00 a day, at the same time that many of the County’s miners had been on strike since March 31 holding out for the UMWA (John L.Lewis’ United Mine Workers of America union) $7:50 a day, trouble could have been predicted. The first of the 4 “Brotherhood” mines was the Empire near the Country Club. Striking UMWA miners (Local 553) marched from the Miners Hall on 13th Street amid circling rumors of “a riot.” They were heading for the Empire. Waiting for them on the Square’s south side was imperturbable Sheriff Earl Gaughenbaugh. “Where are you going?” he amiably asked Joe Allison, the marchers’ leader. The miners were on a peaceful mission, Allison replied, they wanted to talk to the miners at the Empire about “an inharmonious situation.” “Then I’ll walk along with you boys,” said Gaughenbaugh. He walked with the miners, remained with them throughout their stay and then walked back with them into town. The Empire remained open, the miners there working for $$5.00 a day. The other 3 mines that opened under the “Brotherhood’s” $5.00 pay scale were all 3 in Mystic. They were the Barrett, the Winifred, and the Garfield. In early August of 1927, these 3 became the focus of escalating heated exchanges, so heated to include violence and death. These events will be told in this column over the next 2 weeks. (308-309)

 

August 3 1927
The situation in Mystic over miners working for $5.00 a day at the Barrett, Winifred and the Garfield steadily deteriorated. There were mass meetings on the vacant lot next to the Miners’ Hall on Main Street. The language was incendiary. Striking UMWA men began picketing the Barrett mine. Miners working there were escorted to and from work by Mystic’s town marshall and night watchman, William McFall. They walked the road between a gauntlet of men, women, and children. There were threats of violence, dog barks and cat calls. Centerville attorney Tom Fee acquired a court injunction to prevent picketing at the mine. Crowds then gathered at the homes of 3 of the Barrett miners. Taunts were shouted and more threats, including tarring and feathering the men. One Barrett miner procured a gun. He threatened anyone who entered his yard or approached his house. People feared the trouble would lead to bloodshed. Sheriff Gaughenbaugh was called; he ordered the crowd to disperse. (309)

 

August 4 1927
Parades, picketing and marching were now, in the first weeks of August 1927, daily occurrences on Mystic’s east side and much of the atmosphere was permeating Centerville too. Despite a 2nd court injunction preventing such action, 100 men and more than a hundred women and children gathered on the road to the Winifred mine. UMWA letters were painted on cars. A boy played an accordion. An old man danced. At Cooper Creek Bridge, on the paved highway just west of Centerville, cars driven by UMWA officials repeatedly swerved in front of 2 carloads of Winifred miners on their way to work. One of the officials shouted, “Stop that car. That damned car is not going to Mystic today.” It didn’t on that day or any day thereafter. The miners returned to Centerville and refused to work at the Winifred again, saying the tactics of the pickets were life threatening. Back in Mystic, the marchers carried banners, sang songs and shouted hurrahs for the UMWA. At 5 o’clock one afternoon, 30 of the pickets walked to the Winifred mine to talk to the miners as they left work. The women and children shouted “Scabs, Sons-of bitches – low lived trash, yellow dogs and rotten trash.(309-310)

 

August 5 1914
The previous day, fighting in Europe had begun in earnest when the Germans had invaded Alsace, France. They also violated the neutrality of Belgium. They crossed the River Meuse at Vise, north of Liege. Their cavalry was first, then came rows of infantry, monocled officers – pistols drawn – in automobiles, motorcycles circling and accelerating, laying telegraph wires, horse-drawn artillery and field-kitchens on wheels. In Centerville, members of the Belgian community were in a high state of anxiety. The John Kennis family had left their 14-year old daughter there with her grandmother. Not waiting for the printed newspaper. they gathered in clusters around the Iowegian office, hearing the dispatches direct from the telephone operator. The Associated Press telephone service delivered daily dispatches – 17 on just August 6th. They came direct from London, Paris, the Hague,St, Petersburg and Brussels. Occasional uncensored reports came from Berlin. They came via the Gold Schmidt Wireless Company’s station in Tuckerton, New Jersey. The information was relayed to the Iowegian’s new Goss “Comet” flatbed web-perfecting press that roared into life, printing on a continuous roll of paper, folding and cutting the newspapers at a rate of 3,500 8-page papers per hour, (209)

 

August 6 1945
“Loose Atomic Bomb on Japs” said the headline in the Iowegian followed by a second on the same day: “New Bomb Power at Work Almost Inconceivable.” A uranium bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima at 9:15 in the morning of 6th August, 1945. It killed 60,175 people. Only later did the people of Appanoose learn their key roles in the event. The bomb was dropped from a B-29 aircraft. It was one of 15 “Silverplate” Boeing B-29 Superfortresses modified for atomic-bombing missions. The 15 were built at the Glenn L.Martin Aircraft Company at Bellevue, Nebraska, just south of Omaha, and on the site of the present Offutt Air Base. Selected from the assembly line then making B-26s at the plant was Centerville’s Zeph Earhart, one of the engineer-mechanics chosen to work on the 15 B-29s for the excellence and reliability of his work. Colonel Paul Tibbets from Des Moines selected a B-29, flew it to Tinian in the Mariana Islands and named it “Enola Gay” after his mother. The Enola Gay, loaded with the atom bomb, was one of 7 planes taking off that day for Hiroshima. They flew in 2 groups: the first were 3 weather planes; the second group consisted of 4 planes, the Enola Gay among them. Aboard one of the weather planes, responsible for observing and analyzing the weather conditions and reporting them to Tibbets in the following Enola Gay was Richard Anselme of Moulton. Exactly the nature of the bomb that they dropped that day, not one of the crews knew. They learned it from a shortwave radio report broadcast from the United States.(509-510)

 

August 7 1927-8
More and more miners were swayed by the Brotherhood’s arguments and joined the new union. But not all. For 3 years, the local struggle continued and spread across the County. Men were beaten and threatened with guns in Brazil and at the Sunshine mine west of Centerville. Bullets were fired at H.C.Shadden as he walked through Centerville Brickyard on his way to work at the Diamond Lump Coal Company. Two bullets were deflected by his sheepskin jacket, a spent one falling into the lid of his dinner bucket. Pickets, well in excess of the stipulated 30, sometimes as many as 200 to 250, confronted miners at the Numa Coal Company and the Iowa Block Coal Company in Exline. Pickets surged at the Center coal mine. John Sieren, the Center’s pit boss, was beaten. Two pickets arrested and placed in a deputy’s car were hauled to freedom by a cheering crowd, and Maurice Bernard, one of the operators of the Empire coal mine near the Country Club, was beaten into unconsciousness over a mine car full of dirt. Patches of shingle and roofing nails hammered upright through boards were laid in wheel tracks to piece the wheels of officers and deputies called to “emergencies” by fake telephone calls. (315-316)

 

August 8 1944
For days people in town were reading of the French town’s liberated: Coutances, Avranches, Brest, Rennes. Now the troops, among them Moulton’s Richard Southern and Elvin Jay ,Centerville’s Bob McGuire, Verl Myers and Bob Nevins, Moravia’s Clair Callen were breaking out of Normandy into open France. Richard Southern remembered the cheering that greeted the soldiers in every village. Clair Callen wrote to his mother in Moravia, “Every house you pass over here, you are met at the roadside by the people with a bottle of wine or pitcher of cider.” Verl Myers wrote to his wife in Centerville,”…it will always remain a mystery to me how a great, thrifty, and energetic nation such as this could be so happy when all their earthly possessions are in shambles and rubble. They line the streets from early morning until late at night holding up their hands in the sign of V for Victory.” On August 8, Le Mans fell to the Americans. Patton now took the men north to meet the Canadians at Falaise, in the process trapping and killing 10,000 Germans that had been pushed by the Canadians south from the beaches of Normandy, and taking another 50,000 prisoners in the Falaise Pocket. From Le Mans, Paris was just 110 miles. (475-476)

 

August 9 1945
Around noon on the 9th of August, a second atomic bomb, this a plutonium bomb, was dropped on Japan.on the city of Nagasaki, killing another 36,000. This bomb too had a connection to Centerville. Robert “Bob” Buss (Bill’s father) was a brilliant student through Centerville High School. He won scholarships to California Technical College – “CalTech.” He graduated in chemical engineering and then received a master’s degree in business from Harvard. Carefully remembered for his scientific ability by his CalTech professors, he joined them in Pasadena on the Manhattan Project. Exploding the plutonium bomb was highly complicated. The detonation had to be precisely and exactly symmetrical. Bob’s contribution was in solving and designing the fuse necessary for this accuracy. Faced with the unparalleled devastation of these 2 bombs, the world now awaited Japan’s response.(510)

 

August 9 1944
For his action on this day, the Congressional Medal of Honor was posthumously awarded to Captain Darrell Lindsey. On his 46th mission Darrell led a group of 30 B-26 bombers from a base in England to destroy the strategic enemy-held L’Isle Adam railroad bridge north of Paris. During the bombing run, his B-26 was peppered with holes and his right engine received a direct hit and burst into flames. His plane was hurled out of formation by the force of the concussion. Darrell brilliantly maneuvered the plane back into the lead position. Fully aware that his gasoline tanks could explode any moment, he continued the bombing run dropping the bombs precisely on target. With his right engine and right wing enveloped in flames, he ordered his crew to parachute out. “With magnificent coolness and superb pilotage and without regard to his own safety, he held the swiftly descending aircraft in a steady glide until the members of the crew could jump to safety…The last man to jump was the bombardier, who offered to lower the wheels so that Captain Lindsey might escape from the nose. Realizing this might throw the aircraft into an uncontrollable spin and jeopardize the bombardier’s chances to escape, Captain Lindsey refused the offer.” Shortly after the plane was seen to enter a steep dive and explode, An American air base in Wiesbaden, Germany was renamed Lindsey Air Field and a marble memorial placed there in his honor by the men whose lives he’d saved and those who knew of his action. When the base was transferred to the German government, all those who knew him contributed to moving the memorial from Germany to Jefferson, Iowa, his birthplace. It is in Jefferson the memorial stands today on the south side of Bell Tower Square. On the evening of Thursday, August 7, Captain Darrell Lindsey’s memorial was rededicated. The event was conducted by VFW Post 9599. Darrell Lindsey was a student at Centerville High School in the early 1930′s. Helen Carlson and Phil Brunow, both fellow students, recall a cheerful, optimistic teenager, the possessor of a zany sense of humor. Two students, James Anderson and Garner Cruikshank, who had a photograph taken with Darrell in high school, carried that photograph with them throughout their experiences in World War 2.(516/Official Medal of Honor Citation/Deb Geisler: Jefferson’s Advertising Bee and Herald,)

 

August 10 1929
The news was full of Dr. Hugo Eckener’s airship. the Graf Zeppelin. On August 7 at 11:40 at night he had piloted it out of Lakenhurst, New Jersey, heading east. This would be, he announced, a new flight. His Graf Zeppelin would circle the world in 300 hours. On this day, August 10, it had crossed the Atlantic and reached Friedrichshafen. By the 14th it was in Tokyo. It crossed the Pacific and landed in Los Angeles on August 26 and Dr. Eckener then set course for Chicago. On August 28, 1929. the people of Kansas City were up at dawn. The temperature was warm; the sky cloudless. Parked cars congested traffic; housetops and office buildings were thronged with sky gazers. The Liberty Memorial in Kansas City was jammed. At 9:38 that morning, traveling at 75 mph, the Graf Zeppelin approached from the southwest, passing directly over the city. On the road to Excelsior Springs, on a hill a few miles northeast of Kansas City, Iowegian reporter Charles DePuy stood transfixed. He heard the airship’s engine first and then saw its nose sliding through the blue and then disappearing, “an indistinct smudge of mist against the early morning light.” A few miles away, veterans on World War 1, still nursing wounds suffered from the hands of the Germans, watched from Excelsior Springs Hospital. They were cheering. In Centerville, excitement was mounting…(see this column August 28. Also page 305)

 

August 11 1929
The news was full of Dr. Hugo Eckener’s airship. the Graf Zeppelin. On August 7 at 11:40 at night he had piloted it out of Lakenhurst, New Jersey, heading east. This would be, he announced, a new flight. His Graf Zeppelin would circle the world in 300 hours. On this day, August 10, it had crossed the Atlantic and reached Friedrichshafen. By the 14th it was in Tokyo. It crossed the Pacific and landed in Los Angeles on August 26 and Dr. Eckener then set course for Chicago.
On August 28, 1929. the people of Kansas City were up at dawn. The temperature was warm; the sky cloudless. Parked cars congested traffic; housetops and office buildings were thronged with sky gazers. The Liberty Memorial in Kansas City was jammed. At 9:38 that morning, traveling at 75 mph, the Graf Zeppelin approached from the southwest, passing directly over the city. On the road to Excelsior Springs, on a hill a few miles northeast of Kansas City, Iowegian reporter Charles DePuy stood transfixed. He heard the airship’s engine first and then saw its nose sliding through the blue and then disappearing, “an indistinct smudge of mist against the early morning light.” A few miles away, veterans on World War 1, still nursing wounds suffered from the hands of the Germans, watched from Excelsior Springs Hospital. They were cheering. In Centerville, excitement was mounting…(see this column August 28. Also page 305)

 

August 12 1927
The pattern of picketing that was occurring at the Winifred mine, began this day at the Garfield mine west of Brazil. 250 pickets asked to speak to the miners working there. Sheriff Gaughenbaugh was called, and so was Williams S.Bradley, the Garfield’s owner. Bradley walked to the shaft between the lines of pickets and granted them 10 minutes to speak to his miners.. The Garfield miners listened. They were asked to quit work. They refused “in strong terms” and returned to work. Gaughenbaugh asked the crowd of pickets to disperse. They refused. Gaughenbaugh called for Deputy Charles Ware to bring police and and a force of local deputies. Then he wired the State’s attorney general for reinforcements to quell a situation he saw as more and more ominous. (310)

 

August 13 1945
The war in Europe was over, the one in the Pacific appeared to be reaching a conclusion but still the reports of battle deaths reached Appanoose County. Two went to Moravia, giving the deaths of Eugene Main on Okinawa, leaving a wife and 2 children under 3, and the death of Paul Stafford, a platoon leader with the 34th “Red Bull” Division fighting in northern Italy. Two went to Exline: Francis Hutchison, killed near Limbach, Germany, and Kenneth Hollenbeck killed in the Philippines. 3 were delivered to nearby Cincinnati. 2 told of the deaths of 2 brothers killed 12 days apart in Germany – Gilbert Ayers on March 17, his brother Robert Ayers on March 29, news that prostrated their parents. The 3rd Cincinnati death was Archie Euwer, killed on a destroyer in the Pacific. 3 telegrams went to Moulton: to the Forsyth family with the death of their son Bernard in Germany; to the Brinegar family reporting the death of their only son, Junior, aged 19; and to the Burgher family, south near Coatsville, with the news of the death of John in northern Italy. One telegram arrived in Mystic: Addison Hunt was killed on Corregidor in the Philippines. One telegram went to Numa – Wayne Seath killed by a mortar shell in the invasion of Palau. Wayne had attended the University of Iowa for 3 years. In Numa he left a wife and baby daughter, Suzanne, he’d never met. For George and Tina Kauzlarich, a telegram arrived at their Rathbun home to tell of the death of their son John, lost at sea in the Pacific. Ten of the telegrams came to Centerville. For their deaths see this column on August 17. (512)

 

August 14 1945
The news everyone was waiting for reached Centerville at 6:04 p.m. on this day, the 14th of August 1945. After the unparalleled devastation of 2 atomic bombs on 2 of their cities, the Japanese agreed to the terms of unconditional surrender. The fire siren on City Hall began to sound, alerting those in the town who might not have heard the news. It sounded for 20 minutes.Wild excitement broke out. The beer taverns and the movie houses closed. So did the pool halls and the billiard halls. People ran to the Courthouse Square from every direction. They waved flags. Girls screamed. Boys whistled. Horns sounded and dogs barked. People alternated between laughing and crying. War wives, mothers and sweethearts, their men overseas, hugged each other. The courthouse clock struck 7. The high school band began marching. The march was led by the Legionnaires, carrying their own large American flag, High school majorettes and twirlers followed. Behind came a spontaneous procession of cars, trucks. bicycles and wagons. An 1870 car managed to honk its way around the Square. Boys frantically pushed a car, its battery flat. Shrieking girls leaned out of ice trucks. Township John Deere trucks bulged with flags. trucks seen with “no riders” signs were loaded over capacity, one carrying 20 people. People danced on sidewalks. Confetti flew. Gushed of smoke issued from courthouse screens. At the bandstand, the high school band played “God Bless America” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” The noise subsided. People sang, their right hands over their hearts. The clock struck 8. Bells rang out across the town. Churches opened, and the crowds dispersed. But perhaps the best story came from Charles “Bob” King who’d grown up on Centerville’s South 20th Street. He was a radio-operator on Admiral Halsey’s flagship, the USS South Dakota. Also on board was another Centerville man: the ship’s gunnery officer Bob Beck, who was also the son of Iowegian editor Jesse Beck. That day, their ship was heading into Tokyo Bay ready to bombard Yokosuka in preparation for landing U.S. troops when the news broke. Crew members started firing guns into the air in celebration. It was Bob King’s birthday. He said to Bob Beck , “That’s quite a celebration for my birthday!” (510-512 and interview with Bob King)

 

August 15 1927
The situation at Mystic’s mines continued to deteriorate. The picketing was noisier, the threats constant. William McFall, Mystic’s town marshal who had been escorting the miners to work at the Barrett, the Winifred, and the Garfield mines, enduring taunts and threats on a daily basis, drove a short distance north of Mystic, crossed Little Walnut Bridge and stopped his car. He lay on the road, used his coat as a pillow and shot himself. If the shock of McFall’s suicide cooled the situation, the effect soon wore off. Within 5 days, on the Walnut Creek Bridge west of Brazil, there was another act of violence. (310) (This story will be told August 18)

 

August 16 1944
The newspaper was full of a 2nd invasion of France. U.S., French, and Canadian forces were landing between Nice and Marseilles on France’s southern coast. Centerville’s Staff Sergeant John Koestner, (Chris’ father) who’d dropped the first paratroopers on the Cotentin Peninsula in June, was repeating the mission onto southern French beaches. Moulton’s Tracey Corder, a gunner aboard the Samuel Griffin remembered how hot it was that day as he watched the 57th Service Squadron, with Mystic’s George Cortesio, unload their LCT after moving from Italy. Moulton’s Leroy Brinegar, sitting in the gun turret, also remembered the heat, regretting he had to keep his sleeves rolled down to prevent powder burns. The objective of the invasion into southern France was to move up the Rhone Valley and connect with the Allied armies advancing out of Normandy. Overnight, the Germans were being attacked from a new direction.(479)

 

August 17 1945
The cruelest of the telegrams announcing deaths continued to arrive even after all the known conflicts of World War 2 had ended. Ten came to Centerville. One went to Mrs. Dorothy Potter of South 16th reporting the death of her husband, Paul, dying of wounds after he’d been torpedoed in the Pacific. Another went to the Malin family telling of the death of their son, Wayne Junior, on Mindinao in the Philippines. On East Elm Street the news reached the John Marchi family of another death in the Philippines: their son, Guido, shot on a high piece of land overlooking the Old Spanish Trail on Luzon. Guido was 22 and a star football player at Centerville High School. On South Main Street, Mrs. Ruby Hanrahan learned of the death of her son, Royal Jim Hanrahan, lost at sea near Iwo Jima,his body never recovered. Another shock went to Mrs. Elton Hendershot. Her brother Karl, captain with the 561st.Field Artillery Battalion, killed on April 13th, 3 weeks before the German surrender. For Glenn Fry of North 10th Street, a telegram told him of the death of his son, Alfred Fry, 2 days after he’d received 2 German Mauser rifles, Alfred had sent as souvenirs. The Earl Longleys of North 17th learned of the death of their 19-year old son, Eugene, killed in Germany, serving with Patton’s 3rd Army. Another 2 soldiers were killed in Germany while serving with Patton: one was Mike Countis, the son of the James Countis family, the second Nino, the son of Mrs. Rose Cossolotto of South 16th Street. Two Centerville telegrams confirmed of the deaths of men long missing: William Whitacre missing since January 8, 1944, and George Brewer, shot down over Germany in 1944. Two years later, there was another death, perhaps the most poignant, but it occurred in Centerville and at home. Curtis Wayne Parson suffered wounds, tropical illness and malaria on Luzon, After hospital stays in San Francisco, Springfield, Missouri, Battle Creek, Michigan, and in Hines,Illinois, he came home to his parents on South Main Street. He died there on November 8, 1947. ( 512-513: including more details)

 

August 18 1927.
At 5p.m. on the afternoon of August 18, four men employed at the Garfield mine left work for the day and began the drive home. As their car approached Walnut Creek Bridge, its path was blocked by a Ford roadster, apparently stalled on the bridge with no space to pass. The man with the Ford requested help from the 4 Garfield men to move his car. Three of the men: William Taylor, Ira Mullen (Garfield’s engineer) and Carey Raney went to his assistance. As they did so, 15 or more men who had been hiding under the bridge, rushed up in ambush. The 3 Garfield men were beaten and kicked, Taylor and Mullen into unconsciousness; Raney was badly hurt and Lester Hazeltine, who’d remained with the car, was badly bruised. The assault was interrupted by the arrival of Garfield’s owner, William S.Bradley. The attackers ran in all directions. Bradley drove the injured men into Centerville to St.Joseph Hospital. On regaining consciousness, Mullen said he’d been threatened on several previous occasions, including with death. His incapacity now, as the mine’s engineer, closed the Garfield mine for several days. (310-311)

 

August 19 1914
As the 1st World War broke out in Europe, Americans -including those from Centerville- were cutting short their vacations and hurrying home. The daughter and son-in-law of Dr.Blatchley, departing Cherbourg harbor on the American liner New York , heard 5 guns fired, indicating France was at war. Passengers on board the New York-bound Minnehaha anchored at Sheerness in the Thames Estuary witnessed an air battle fought out directly overhead. Two German aircraft, bound for London, were intercepted by 3 British aviators. Amid shells bursting around them like fireworks, the planes alternately dodged, circled, twisted, climbed, and dove in and out of cloud banks. The pastor of Centerville’s Presbyterian church, the Reverend Wm.McCoy, as well as E.G.Campbell, C.A.Carlson and H.G.Hanson, all travelling home on boats from their native countries of Ireland, England, Sweden, and Norway, traveled on boats that deviated from standard routes. Fearful of bombs and U-boat attacks, the captains followed paths north of Scotland, and ordered all lights extinguished. John Swab was caught in his native Croatia. He witnessed his friends departing for war., He planned his route home, he and his wife going through the mountains of Slovenia into then-neutral Italy and having their American passports minutely examined at every frontier over and over again.(210)

 

August 20 1943
One of the County’s first airmen to serve in the U.S.Army’s 8th Air Force – the one that would lose over 30,000 young Americans in that war – was Eugene Wilcox of Moravia. Within 3 months, “Gene” had participated in enough combat missions to qualify for the Air Medal, 2 oak leaf clusters, and promotion to first lieutenant and then to pilot duty. In August 1943, Gene flew a B-17 named “Alcohol Annie” on a mission to the Ruhr. As “Alcohol Annie” approached the German coast, the plane’s 3rd engine was hit, then the 4th, followed by the 1st. Two shells struck the nose; one went through the navigator’s compartment and yet another, fired from below, went through the cockpit between, but just missing – Gene and his copilot, Phil Stratton of Kansas City. With 5 of the crew killed, one wing on fire and billowing chunks of metal dropping from the under carriage, Gene turned back and ditched the plane in the ocean. He and 4 other survivors spent 2 days and nights on a raft on the North Sea until rescued by the RAF. Gene who always wanted to be a writer, told the story in the national magazine True. It was featured in the movie Five Came Back. Gene finished the article with these words: “I want to go again, as I did when I was a kid in high school, over to the county town seats – Albia and Centerville – go to the movies and have dates, see my folk again, and see a girl I haven’t put eyes on for two years.” In late September 1943, Gene flew on another mission. This time he never returned; his remains were never found. (457 + extra details) Note: Gene’s mother (Mrs. Ralph McDonough) in Moravia never recovered from the loss of her only child. She ended her own life.(457)

 

August 21 1861-1865
Fear in the Civil War years permeated the County. Rumors of bushwhackers coming up from Missouri to steal horses and mules and sell them to the rebel army were rife.The older men formed a home guard. Sentries were placed on roads into Centerville. Passwords were issued for safe passage at night. The fear was worse south of town near the Missouri border. Benjamin Wells, a farmer and auctioneer, formed the Cincinnati Home Guard. The members watched for signs of invading Confederate forces and guerillas. For the rebels, a point of entry was south of Exline. A cart track followed Shoal Creek north over the State line from Petty Mill Valley in Putnam County, Missouri. A distillery there, a large 3-story structure with 2X2 foot oaken beams put together with wooden pins, alternated as a hideout for bushwhackers and a barracks for Union soldiers. In nearby Bryant’s Station, the Bacus home was repeatedly invaded for food, and well known Union supporters like Willie Hines were shot and killed when they were called to their doorways. Just north of the State line at the farm of Elijah and Anna Jane Johnson, 20 or 30 Missouri residents came several times to ask for protection. The women hid in the house, the men in the barn. In the same Exline area, an attempt was made on the life of physician Dr. J.H.Worthington. He was traveling on horseback between patients, his saddlebags full of bottles and powders when he heard a rifle shot and a thud in the clay bank at his side. Unable to see any assailant, the doctor cooly dismounted, and dug out a bullet. He carried it in his pocket the rest of his life.(34&39)

 

August 22 1927
In response to the attack on Garfield miners at Walnut Creek Bridge, Sheriff Gaughenbaugh hired extra deputies. They were law enforcement officers from outside the County. They provided an armed guard for miners at the Barrett, the Garfield (as soon as it reopened) and the Winifred mines, and for those without cars who walked to and from work along the railroad track lined with camps of UMWA strikers. On the night of the 18th, Sheriff Gaughenbaugh placed 3 men under arrest and later a warrant was sworn out for a 4th. “The men now in jail,” said the Iowegian, “are reported to be Jack Foster, Frank Blazevitch,and Gilbert Blazevitch. There is a warrant for a 3rd Blazevitch, whose name is given as Andrew… The charge named in the warrant for the 4 men is that of assault with intent to do great bodily injury. It is said that it is possible that some charges of asault[sic] with intent to commit murder may be filed.” In the hospital, Mullen and Taylor said they would go back to work as soon as they were able to do so. Raney and Hazeltine stated they’d be able to recognize others of their assailants.(311 & “Garfield Men Attacked At Walnut Bridge” Iowegian, August 19 1927.)

 

August 23 1944
On this day, the people of Appanoose County and all America heard the announcement on NBC first: Paris was in process of being liberated. The invading army of French, U.S. and Canadians from the southern French beaches under General Patch, had rapidly ascended the Rhone Valley; Montgomery’s British and Canadians were pushing northwest along the coast into Belgium; the U.S. 1st Army was racing north and crossing the River Seine, and Patton’s 3rd Army was erupting north and east, crossing the River Loire, liberating Orleans, reaching Versailles, was now 12 miles from Paris and within sight of the Eiffel Tower. In Paris, there was a sense of anticipation and excitement. As soon as it became clear that the Allied armies were approaching, armed resistance to the occupying Germans broke out in the streets. With 2 days to go, Hitler ordered Paris to be levelled. He hadn’t reckoned with the German Commander of Greater Paris: Dietrich Von Choltitz who apparently disobeyed. (479 & John Keegan’s “The Second World War” Penguin paperback, 2005 page 414)

 

August 24 1934
On this day, people were reading the Iowegian’s Centennial Edition. The term “Centennial” determined the year 1838, when this was a territory and it was 8 years before 1846 when Centerville (and Iowa) were officially dedicated. 1838 saw the first settlers entering Appanoose, the Iowegian acknowledging when James Wells and Ewen Kirby had built their cabins here. That Centennial Edition covered all aspects of our developing community when the County was attracting the restless, the enthusiastic, the practical dreamers. It also attracted those whose ability was thwarted in their original country.This is true of Centerville’s 60+ Jewish families. Most were from Poland and Russia where their persecution was periodically wholesale described in Appanoose newspapers as “…terrible scenes of carnage and bloodshed…bodies of men, women, and children being cut down and terribly mutilated…the Russian police and soldiers stood by and offered no resistance.” In Centerville as in America, they flourished. The first Jew into Centerville was Aaron Grinspan. He’d left Knyshin in Russia where he’d learned the weaver’s trade so rapidly he’d been made superintendent of the factory. That was before it was known he was a Jew. With his wife, 3 of his 6 children, no job and “nothing but [his] bare hands,” he arrived in Brooklyn and became a master weaver and an expert in wools and cloths. Coming west to Iowa, he was made superintendent of Sherman Brothers Woolen Mill in Des Moines. In 1882 he came on to Centerville, a peddler’s pack on his back, and immediately began selling door to door. In less than a year he’d opened a small stall on the Levee; in another 5 years he’d expanded it to 2 South Centerville brick stores; and by 1895 he’d opened a clothing store in the Howell Building on the Square’s south side. He named it the Bargain Store. It was run by his daughters while he traveled midwestern city markets seeking bargains, paying cash, building the reputation of his store and importing high fashions, including clothes from Worth of Paris and cashmere underwear. The 1903 City Directory gives his home as 519 N 9th (today’s Park Avenue; the 1906 as 410 N 10th. (176-7/Centennial Edition/City Directories)

 

August 25 1944
Paris: On the morning of the 25th, crowds were thronging the long southern avenues reaching into the city. There was an early morning mist and the promise of a hot day. The crowds saw the approaching tanks. The stars visible on the fronts indicated they were American. But, under Eisenhower’s instructions, at the turrets of the tanks were soldiers of the Second French Armored Division. Excitement reached the level of frenzy. Entering Paris behind the tanks carrying the French Second Armored Division was beloved correspondent Ernie Pyle. He was in a jeep with other Americans following in tanks. The jeep was constantly swamped by swarms of French women and beautiful young girls kissing and hugging them, one very short woman using a ladder to reach them. There were still German snipers, and machine-gun fire could be heard. But, wrote Pyle, “…they were doomed. There was a full French armored division in the city, plus American troops entering constantly.” Across Paris, church bells rang; Nazi flags were replaced with French tricolors. “La Marseillaise” was sung everywhere. Later that day, there was a formal Nazi surrender, led by General Dietrich von Choltitz. This man had been ordered by Hitler to leave Paris “as a western Stalingrad” demolishing everything into rubble. But this directive, von Choltitz disobeyed. Instead, he identified to the liberators the locations of dynamite placed in buildings prepared for demolition. Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the architectural beauties of the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Elysees were all intact. Photographs of the buildings appeared in the U.S.newspapers, reassuring travelers the Paris they’d known and loved was still in place. (480-479)

 

August 26 1944
After the liberation of Paris, photographs were appearing in American newspapers of U.S.soldiers being enthusiastically kissed by Parisian girls. In Des Moines, a Life magazine reporter and cameraman sought interviews, asking Iowa girls what they thought of “this victory kissing business.” Sally Akes, a 21-year old waitress from Centerville, sided with the French girls saying, “…the Des Moines girls would do the very same thing.” Her neighbor, a woman with a husband serving in France said, “What he does over there is his own business but what he does when when he gets back to the U.S is mine.” (480)

 

August 27 1927
“Much Controversy in Conference with the Governor” was the headline on August 27th’s Iowegian. As a result of the violence on Brazil’s Walnut Creek Bridge, local citizens urged Iowa’s Governor John Hammill to send troops. So did the coal owners. On August 26, 8 local coal operators, Sheriff Gaughenbaugh, local police officers and officials from District 13 (this area) of the UMWA were closeted in a meeting with Governor Hammill in his Des Moines office, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The UMWA members agreed to the governor’s terms; a picket of not more than 30 would be allowed at a coal mine; parades and pickets must be orderly, lacking violence and obscene language. In less than a month, County Attorney W.B.Hays and Sheriff Gaughenbaugh observed violations of the governor’s terms. They counted between 200 and 300 pickets – well in excess of the maximum 30 – many of them subjecting the miners at work to profane language and attacks from rocks, clods and eggs. The showdown would come on September 21. (311)

 

August 28 1942
The community’s efforts to buy war bonds and collect metals, rubber, silk, grease etc., never ceased throughout WW2. On August 28 1942, the E.A.Hull Insurance Agency placed a car on the Southeast Corner of the Square. It had been parked at Hickam Field, Honolulu, on December 7, 1941. It was riddled with Japanese bullet and shrapnel holes. Look at the car, urged E.A.Hull, “Then-Act-Buy Bonds and More Bonds…’The Car from Pearl Harbor’ Must Not Happen Here.” The story of the car was told by the Iowegian staff: “On the night of Dec.6 last, Miss Selma Thompson, of Des Moines, was in Pearl Harbor. Her car was parked in the vicinity of Hickam Field. Then came the morning of Dec.7. The whole world knows the rest. The U.S. government returned Miss Thompson and her car to the U.S. It isn’t quite as good a car as it was prior to the night of December 6. There are bullet holes and shrapnel holes in it…The windshield was blown out, but it has been replaced…” And on the Centerville Square “…it will undoubtedly be in [sic] object of unusual interest. (426 & Iowegian Aug. 27 1942)

 

August 29 1929
In Centerville, people were still talking about the day before. The excitement was intense. Radio reports and wire news services were estimating the continued course of the Zeppelin over the Midwest. They predicted a path across Appanoose County. People drove their cars. Some headed to the new airport, others to Mystic, still more to Exline and Moulton. Jesse Beck described them as all “hot and bothered.’ He placed long-distance telephone calls to Princeton to Trenton and to Milan, where the airship at that moment was passing just to its east. The Graf Zeppelin was now approaching the Iowa line. Brakeman Steve Crawford and fireman Dick Thompson were on board their freight train, laboring up a hill between Arbela and Memphis, Missouri, 8 miles south of the border. They were at that moment discussing their misfortune at not having the day off to see the Zeppelin. They noticed Red May on the caboose moving his arms at them agitatedly, pointing upwards, going through wild contortions. They ignored him, only later to learn the Graf was directly overhead and they had missed it. The airship crossed the Iowa line some 20 miles southeast of Moulton. People climbed to the top of Moulton’s water tower. Others drove onto the Coatsville Road. The airship was just visible as it moved across the corner of Davis County and directly above Milton and Keosauqua in Van Buren County. In Ottumwa, people watched through telescopes as the ship passed 30 miles to the south. It moved over Morning Sun at 1:45 in the afternoon and Davenport at 3 minutes after 2 p.m. reaching Lakenhurst, its starting point, on August 29 at 7:12 in the morning. The trip around the world had taken 21 days, 7 hours and 32 minutes. It was a record world flight. (305)

 

August 30 1939
In the Main Street office of the Iowegian, war in Europe was on the brink. Charles DePuy complained of the continuous “They will,” “They won’t,” “They will,” “They won’t,” “They are,” “They aren’t,” “They are,” “They aren’t,” creating a jittery clattering of the teletype machines that was irksome. He was ready “…to quit worrying and go fishing.” He didn’t. Instead, he walked the Centerville Square seeking local reactions. All held Hitler responsible. Many thought the world would be a better place without him. Some suggested his annihilation. Mayor W.R.Blakeslee hoped the war would stay in Europe. Insurance and realtor Bill Cree thought Americans were still trying to figure out why they’d got into the last war: “If we jump into another scrap it will be the same thing again.” For Drake University student Jack Trimble, there was another reaction: “We’ll be marching before long.” (384)

 

August 31 1939
Thousands of miles away to the east from Centerville, even as Charles DePuy was interviewing people on the Square, German troops, German tanks, German aircraft and German armored cars were already moving into position on the Polish border. It was already September 1 in Eastern Europe when the news was relayed by teletype to the Iowegian, and while the people of Appanoose still slept.German aircraft had invaded Poland. Shrieking Stuka aircraft, equipped with sirens to increase their scream, dive-bombed, terrorizing both soldiers and civilians. The attacks were precisely coordinated with 1,700 tanks and 1,516,000 marching Panzer troops. They were blowing up trains, rail lines, supply depots and stations full of mobilizing soldiers. They were strafing streams of fleeing refugees. They destroyed the Polish air force on the ground. Within 24 hours, the Luftwaffe controlled the Polish skies.(386)

 

©2014 Enfys McMurry All Rights Reserved

 

 

September

 

September 1 1908
For 4 years there were 10-day Chatauqua Assemblies held in Centerville with speakers, bands, choirs, entertainers, troubadours, and performing cats and dogs. On September 1 1908, the biggest Chatauqua attraction was for the speaker Theodore Perry Shonts. “Thede” Shonts was the embodiment of the American dream. Centerville’s immigrants were in awe. He was a local boy, the product of Centerville’s free public schools. He married Amelia, whose father was the former Governor and General Francis Marion Drake. One of his 2 daughters had married into the prominent East Coast Bingham family. The other was about to marry a French duke. Shonts headed railroads. He was selected by President Teddy Roosevelt to be chairman of the Panama Canal Commission. Now, 2 years later, he was president of the Interborough Metropolitan Street Company of New York. He arrived in Centerville in his own private railroad car. He wore a pince-nez and a mustache and had a bulldog expression. He tackled problems appalling in their magnitude. In Panama he’d taken on the fight to end yellow fever. He undertook them with characteristic American enthusiasm and determination. He worked unremittingly at construction, at operations, at finance. In New York City, subways were laid, elevated railroads built, politicians subdued and labor difficulties solved. The subject of his speech that day in Centerville was transportation. It was, he told his audience, the secret of America’s greatness. (205-206)

 

September 2 1918
As Appanoose County’s citizens raised money to support World War 1′s efforts, the biggest single Red Cross fundraiser occurred on Labor Day, September 2 1918. Two exhibition baseball games were held. Members of 2 teams, hot rivals in the 1880′s, its members now 25 years older, came out of retirement. One one side were the “Old Timers” drawn largely from Appanoose County, led by Professor J.C.Stamps. On the other side was Wayne County’s Shane Hill team. In its day, Shane Hill’s winning record was almost unbroken and was famous across the country. The games – one in Seymour and one in Allerton – were advertised in the Des Moines Register. People traveled from across the State. Centerville practically emptied. People thought it the biggest baseball game ever in southern Iowa. Burt Maytum, Shane Hill’s 1880 star pitcher, whose curve balls no one could hit, threw out the first balls. His team, Shane Hill, won both games. All proceeds went to the Red Cross. (225) (note: Wayne County is currently planning a memorial to the amazing Shane Hill baseball team)

 

September 3 1939
The news was made official today. British prime minister Neville Chamberlain declared, “…unless Germany would suspend aggressive action and withdraw her forces from Poland, Britain would unhesitatingly fulfill her obligations to Poland.” The French agreed. There was no reply. On this day, England and France declared war on Germany. War in Europe was underway. Of all the people of Appanoose County, those in the highest state of anxiety were Centerville’s Jews. They were emigrants from Poland and Russia. They had family members still there, part of Poland’s 3.5 million Jewish population, the largest in Europe. They knew the plight of Jews in every country occupied by the Nazis. They now feared for their relatives. From his new home on the corner of Drake Avenue and Terry Street, Joe Goldstein,the owner of Centerville Economy Cleaners was using all means to contact his family in Warsaw without success. An AP report on the front page of the Iowegian on September 12 gave some comfort. Every 30 seconds – each night, every night – from Warsaw’s radio station, the eleven opening notes of Chopin’s Polonaise in A flat were played on a xylophone. Polish composer Frederic Chopin died in Paris in 1849, but his heart for 90 years lay buried in Warsaw’s Church of the Holy Cross. The notes were to the world a signal that Poland still lived. On September 27, the sound of the xylophone was no more (386-387)

 

September 3 1926
Centerville people see the flower-covered silver-bronze coffin bearing the body of film-star Rudolph Valentino go through town on the Rock Island train on its way to Los Angeles. Alongside the coffin ,they saw the grieving film-star Pola Negri. The “sheik” of the silent movies was dead at 32 of appendicitis and a perforated gastric ulcer. (298)

 

September 4 1932
At the height of the Depression most of the members of the town’s business community fought back. They fought against counterfeiters, peddlers of bogus coins, false rumors, street vendors flooding the town, and mail-order houses whose catalogs they saw lying “in heaps, stacks and rows” in Centerville Post Office, offering prices and conveniences that undercut the local economy. Merchants wore small red buttons with, in white letters, the words “Business is Good.” They held competitions, “special stimulator” sales, “clear the deck” sales and “All Centerville Days” sales. Above all, they threw their energies to those less fortunate than themselves. For some time, the town’s charity workers were being overwhelmed. People were knocking at their doors day and night; at the same time, others were telephoning, and there were those, uncounted, too proud to ask for help. Fifty charities had already fused into the Social Welfare League. Its members met regularly identifying those in need, coordinating with the new social worker, Pauline Boyd, planning activities and avoiding duplication of effort. (336)

 

September 4 1936
On the night of September 4, a train carrying President Roosevelt passed through Moulton on the Wabash route. It was preceded by a one-car “feeder” train, testing the safety of the track. The president’s train, flying white flags and interspersed with Secret Service agents shining flashlights, came next. It eased its speed to take on coal and water. It was 3 in the morning. The president in the 9th car, a Pullman observer, was asleep. Fifty supporters were at the depot, and WPA workers provided extra guards for the track and tested the bridges. They did not see their president. But they were close, and that was enough. (356)

 

September 5 1924
In the era of Centerville’s battle with the KKK, the leaders of the Klan refused all offers to publicly debate those who opposed them. Instead they chose to attack the character of those who opposed them, to smear their names, to denounce their reputation. To that end, truth was obscured, distorted, and manipulated. In cavalier fashion, they added names to their petitions and endorsements, forcing those so-used – like Dr, W.B.Miller – to advertise their strenuous opposition. John Wilkinson was described as “a wife deserting crook,” “a paid agitator,” “anti-American,” “pro-bootlegger,” and “a repulsive foul-mouthed tool of the Underworld.” When Wilkinson refused to be silenced, a headline in a Klan newspaper (there were 3 in Appanoose County) read, “Slimy Serpent Still Spreads Vile Slush.” Pete Agnessen who was the first in the County to oppose the Klan, was a “flannel mouth,” “a poker playing cock-fight promoter,” “an infidel,” and “a Bolshevist”; the Klan circulated a petition to deport him. It failed. Agnessen was a U.S.citizen. The crowds at anti-Klan meetings were, the Klan said, “bootleggers, murderers, gamblers,…Catholics, Jews, crooked politicians, foreigners and some disgruntled weak-kneed, jelly fish, back-boneless Protestants.” The crowds resembled “an Italian bull-fight or cock fight crowd,” and gas masks ought to be issued at anti-Klan lectures “to guard against casualties from asphyxiation by the garlic route.” (282-283)

 

September 6 1918
On this day, the lethal form of the great influenza epidemic arrived. By the 12th, stores on Centerville Square reported 2 or 3 of their clerks had the disease. There were 6 at Iowa Southern Utilities, and at the Car Barn, the foreman, the roadmaster and 4 workers were all ill, one so seriously he was admitted to Graham Hospital on East State Street (today’s apartment at 508). It was the same across the country. The death toll began to rise, with U.S.Army and Naval bases affected the most. The “Semi-Weekly Iowegian” reported 41 dead in Boston, more at naval and army camps and in cities and towns within a 25-mile radius of the city. In the Naval Yard at Philadelphia, 800 were ill. At Camp Dix, New Jersey, 1,800 with 34 deaths in 24 hours. At Camp Devens, Massachusetts, “a scene out of hell” was said to exist, with 10,789 suffering the disease. At Great Lakes Naval Station in Chicago, 8,218. By September 25, the army reported 22,992 cases, with 3,000 for just that morning. The article ended with the careful words: “the total number of deaths was not announced.”(232)

 

September 7 1918
The outbreak of the great flu epidemic prompted a campaign by local physicians against lapsing sanitary conditions. “Filth breeds disease,” they argued and pointed to continued spitting on sidewalks, especially around the Interurban depot and the taxi rank – both on the Square’s east side. They pointed too to undrained basements, leaking drainpipes, swarms of flies, barrels of chicken feathers and blood and decayed and decaying food in the alleys. And, they continued, within 50 yards of a restaurant and meat market, an old water closet, once removed, had been moved back by the owner, its “candy buckets” fully exposed and the stench intolerable. The town responded. The street flusher – owned jointly by the City and businesses since 1914 – fanned clean water, spraying down the alleys, around the Square and the sidewalks. (232)

 

September 8 1946
At the end of World War 2, the town was learning of 220 + local people who had assisted to some degree in the development of the atomic bombs. In addition to those sent by Guy Evans at the local U.S.Employment Office to places like Pasco, Washington, there were others: Robert “Bob” Buss at Pasadena; Zeph Earhart at Bellevue, Nebraska; and Moulton’s Richard Anselme part of the Enola Gay team. Others now told their stories. Centerville’s Opal Adamson went south to Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1943 when the place was “a huge mud puddle.” It was the Appanoose pioneer blood in her veins, she later said, that caused her to stay there. All the workers were told to seal their lips, and many were astonished to learn later they’d helped make the bomb. Another Centerville product, Bob Evans, was the business manager at the Iowa State College plant at Ames where much research and manufacturing was done. He had charge, he said, of payrolls, inventory, and “etc.etc.,” referring to items not releasable at the time he spoke. Working at the University of Chicago was Amelia Simmons, of the Simmons family of Darbyville, north of Centerville, whose 2 brothers-in-law served as medics in the war – Royal on Bougainville and Ray on the first day on Omaha Beach. Amelia was an office clerk, working closely with the scientists, often processing their papers, particularly those of Dr.Arthur Dempster, the discoverer of uranium 235. (509)

 

September 9 1941
“3 Million Nazis Killed in Fight on Russian Front” was the “Iowegian’s” headline on September 9, 1941. Eleven weeks previously (June 22) Harry Luther’s loudspeaker on the Square had given the bombshell news of Hitler’s act of reversal. He attacked Russia turning the country with whom he’d guaranteed a 10-year non-aggression treaty, into his enemy. Three million German soldiers, 3,000 tanks, and 2,700 aircraft, in an operation code-named Barbarossa, plunged across the Soviet border. The operation, Hitler thought would take a month. He hadn’t reckoned with the Russian people. Urged by their premier, Joseph Stalin, the Russian people fought with guerilla warfare and a vast “scorched earth” policy – destroying all supplies, food, and equipment ahead of the advancing German troops. Within weeks, there were AP reports of 1 million German casualties in Russia; in 2 months , there were 3 million. President Roosevelt described Russian resistance to the Nazis as “magnificent.” To Winston Churchill, “…any man or state who fights against Nazidom will have our aid.” Soviet Russia was now joined with Britain and America in a unified fight against a common enemy. Stalin called the Americans and the British “joint allies.” (396)

 

September 10 1941
In the 14 years since his “Lone Eagle” flight to Paris, Charles Lindbergh’s reputation was eroding. In his many travels, he’d examined aviation systems, including those of Germany. He’d examined Nazi aircraft and toured Luftwaffe factories. He was escorted by Nazi leaders and was considering moving his family to Berlin. On one visit, Hitler’s air minister, Hermann Goering, with the words “By order of the Fuhrer,” presented him with the Service Cross of the German Eagle. It was a golden cross with 4 small swastikas finished in white enamel, strung on a red ribbon with black borders. The timing of the award was imperfect. Twenty-two days later was Kristallnacht. In one night in November 1938, with Nazi brutal attacks on German Jews, the whole world was exposed to the barbarism of the Third Reich. In America, the award given to Lindbergh compromised him. It linked him to the Nazis. He received requests to return it. He never did. Lindbergh was now leader of the America First organization. He gave speeches opposing giving help to Great Britain. By aiding Great Britain and other countries, he said, the U.S. was “encouraging war, prolonging it and increasing bloodshed in Europe.” He was about to go even further and that would be in a speech in Des Moines slated for the night of September 11. (400)

 

September 11 1941
Thirteen of Centerville’s businessmen, invited to attend Charles Lindbergh’s speech in Des Moines on the night of September 11th, refused to go. They’d heard his speeches over NBC Blue, NBC Red,and CBS networks. Bob Chenoweth at the City Drug Store said he wouldn’t drive anywhere to hear Lindbergh. Frances Gerdon at the Red Cross Drug Store said he wouldn’t even listen to him on the radio. Attorney Purley Rinker thought Lindberg an extremist, and Mike Buscemi thought him definitely “tootsy totsy.” Two Centerville men did attend the meeting in Des Moines: the town’s 2 principal newsmen, Jesse Beck and Charles DePuy of the “Iowegian.” In a capacity crowd of 8,500, their seats were close enough to Lindbergh to touch him. The talk was carried over a Mutual radio hookup. Lindbergh was introduced by the Reverend L.K.Bishop of Des Moines. When the reverend held up an arm to give the invocation, he was greeted with shouts of “Heil Hitler.” The shouts set the tone. The meeting was boisterous and noisy. There were boos, cheers, catcalls, and roars. Lindbergh told the audience it was the British, the Jews, and the Roosevelt administration that were plotting to drive the United States into war. At least once, the heckling was so loud that Lindbergh was forced to stop. Twice he attempted to continue. His ability as a public speaker didn’t help. Charles DePuy thought that as an orator, Lindbergh was a good aviator. Lindbergh concluded the speech by saying that the United States was “on the verge of war for which we are still unprepared…a war which cannot be won without sending our soldiers across the ocean to force a landing on a hostile coat [sic] against armies stronger than our own.” (400)

 

September 12 1919
The immediate arrival home of the men who’d served in World War 1 was celebrated on Centerville Square on Saturday, May 19,1919. An enormous crowd lined the streets, even every rooftop. Out of respect for the soldiers, the ceremony was relatively short respecting the needs of the men to be with their families. A second welcome, a longer one took place on September 11, 1919. There was no parade. This was to be a day for neighbor to meet neighbor, to speak with the soldiers, to relax and enjoy. Again the town was decorated, this time with professional help from the Henry Field Company of Shenandoah. The courthouse was draped from roof to foundation. So was the Victory Arch, the electrolier lights and the streets approaching the Square. In the morning the soldiers and sailors registered and received a registration tag and free tickets for meals at 4 uptown churches, the Catholic church and the Women’s Relief Corps, as well as tickets for a performance of “Fair and Warmer” at the Drake Avenue Theatre, all movie shows and Coca Cola drinks at the drugstores. At the Red Cross canteen for the soldiers, there were free cigarettes, gum, popcorn, and ice cream. (241)

 

September 13 1919
The celebration, welcoming the men home from World War 1, continued throughout the weekend. At 2.30 on the afternoon of the 11th at the bandstand, there was a presentation of the Croix de Guerre to Sergeant Bernard Nelson, the son of the Axel Nelson of South 20th Street. It was awarded by the French government as a token of valor for Bernard leading 2 squads of men, who at the height of battle cut a path through barbed wire and silenced enemy guns. Soldiers who had received their awards earlier were also recognized and “victory pins” made by Centerville people were given to every discharged soldier and sailor. There were 2 speeches, one from Senator James Wilson of Centerville, currently running for lieutenant governor of the State, and the Honorable Nate Kendall of Albia. ( Kendall was married to Belle Wooden, daughter of A.E.Wooden, granddaughter of town pioneer J.R.Wooden). The Herring Motor Company sent an 8-cylinder airplane. People flew above the town at 90mph for $15.00 or $1.00 a minute. There was a wrestling match between Company D’s Cela Seals and 2 challengers. A magician entertained with tricks no one could explain, and there was a baseball game between Centerville and Unionville that descended into a near riot. It was broken up by the police, and it was followed by the umpire retiring, a new one taking his place. In the evening a military dance was held in the Armory (today’s Hubbard House), the Majestic orchestra furnishing the music. It was described as one of the largest dances ever held in town. As the day ended, said the “Iowegian,” “everyone had the time of his life throughout the entire day of celebration.” (241-242)

 

September 14 1921
At this time in our history crime was sweeping the county and the country. To Jesse Beck at the “Iowegian,” it was the upheaval that followed the war. Men came home traumatised by battle, dislocated from former values and, too often, unable to find employment. To Dr,Osborn at the Methodist Church, it was poor church attendance. For the Reverend Staples at the Baptist church, it was because people were following false gods: those of pleasure, success, the flesh, and selfishness. For the Holy Rollers in their tent behind Max Chapman’s Store on the Levee, it was all the work of the devil. He was everywhere, they said. They preached in a tent round in shape “to keep him out of the corners.” Others pointed to the movies. They thought it was “the seductive movie kiss” combined with the privacy afforded by automobiles. Stars dressed provocatively. Some of their personal behavior broke into scandals that filled local newspapers – stories of rape and murder, sexual orgies, rampant alcoholism, drug addictions and rotating marriages and divorces. These involved the stars the people of Appanoose County loved to watch at the Majestic and the Ritz: Olive Thomas,(at 20 dead from drinking bichloride of mercury); handsome Wallace Reid (30 dead in a padded cell ): Barbara La Marr (dead at 26, OD on heroin) Desmond Taylor (murdered amid rumors of drugs and sex) ; but perhaps the most shocking was the arrest of comic Fatty Arbuckle charged with the rape and murder of Virginia Rappe. He was acquitted in 3 sensational trials, all reported in the “Iowegian” . Arbuckle was ruined and dead at 46 of alcoholism. This date:-September 14 is the date of his first arrest and when the story first broke in Centerville. (264 & Kenneth Anger’s “Hollywood Babylon”)

 

September 15 1880-1939
For some 50 years of our history, twice a year, circuses came to town. They started with a morning parade at 10a.m. Hundreds lined the sidewalks along 14th Street(now Drake Avenue), down 13th Street and around the Square. Small boys, uptown before daybreak, sat on the curbs. They watched as the parade approached led by trumpeters, a drum corps, and a circus band aboard a carriage pulled by teams of gleaming horses. Kaleidoscopic images followed: herds of elephants, droves of camels, hundreds of groomed horses, Lilliputian ponies in silver harnesses; tableau cars of purple and gold, scarlet, and silver; rickshaws and palanquins; open cages of lions, tigers, hippopotami, seals, kangaroos, ostriches, and llamas. There were beautiful women reclining under silver panoplies, dancers in pink tights and people from hundreds of nations in native costume: Australian boomerang throwers, Turkish harem dancers, tribal warriors, imperial Cossack troopers from the steppes of Russia, turbaned Hindu princes riding howdahs, cavalcades of knights and ladies,masqueraders, and harlequins. There were South American gauchos, Bedouin Arabs, detachments of cavalry troopers, and, floating above them all, a collection of international flags and banners. (More about the music, the circling clowns etc. see 132)

 

September 16 1940
On September 16, 1940, President Roosevelt signed the nation’s first peacetime conscription bill. It was the culmination of months of military activity motivated by the foresight of the president. Four months previously, extra military recruiting officers were in Centerville, bolstering local efforts. Enlistments were sought for cavalry, for infantry, for engineers, for medical detachments. Representatives of the Civil Aeronautics Authority arrived and made arrangements with Dean T.C.Ruggles at Centerville Junior College to open an aviation school at the airport. Student pilots, required to be enrolled in a college or graduated from one, signed up in Junior College rooms on the top floor of the high school. At the Armory, Captain Dewey Bear received orders to -again – increase the size of Company G. One month before the conscription bill, Company G was in training with 50,000 other Midwestern guardsmen at Camp Riley, Minnesota. Centerville’s guardsmen were issued with M-1 rapid fire rifles, 4 new light machine guns and were called to serve for 12 months active duty. (390)

 

September 17 1928
Around the Square in this year before the Depression, grocery and department stores were offering new services and new stock. The owner of one, J.C.Penney, stopped in Centerville as part of a tour of his Iowa stores. The “Iowegian” called him ” the Napoleon of commerce.” He arrived in a fleet of large and expensive cars. He inspected his store in the Dinning Building (today’s “Iowegian” office) on the Square’s south east corner. He met the 20 employees and manager John Heimes and Mrs. Heimes. Local businessmen assembled in the Association of Commerce room on 13th Street. They waited to honor him with speeches and a banquet. Penney was uncharacteristically late. He’d learned of a personal story and taken a detour. His fleet of cars bounced and swerved over one of the worst roads in Centerville to a small house surrounded by a picket fence near the brickyard ( today: West Van Buren Street). He went to meet Mrs. Henry White, and African American who’d worked in the household of a member of the Penney family. Penney then returned to the Association of Commerce room to give a speech, to shake hands of all those present. A reporter for the “Des Moines Tribune” who was at the event noted the food had cooled. (321)

 

September 18 1940
Without waiting for direct American intervention in the war in Europe, thousands of Americans were volunteering for Allied infantry divisions. Rumors existed of a secret American Expeditionary Force fighting in Europe in Canadian uniforms. A Roosevelt – Kermit, President Teddy Roosevelt’s son – declaring the fight against Nazism “a clear cut moral issue,” was now a 2nd lieutenant in the British army. A group had joined the RAF calling themselves “the Eagle Squadron.” Hundreds were flying instructors in Canada. Dozens were ferrying England-bound planes. Some of these planes were sighted over Centerville. They were all metal, devoid of insignia, twin-motored and with mid wings.  In this atmosphere, stories of local Nazi sympathizers circulated. One in Moravia and one in Moulton were said to have contributed money to pro-Hitler organizations. There was a sudden rush of applications for U.S. citizenship. At Garfield School, preparation classes were held 2 nights a week. Successful applicants entered the Courthouse and emerged waving small American flags. Remaining aliens, 300 of them, were registered and fingerprinted at the post office. (390 & 392)

 

September 19 1881
It took 80 days for President Garfield to die. Throughout the time from July 4 when the town knew he’d been shot, bulletins on his health were telegraphed to the Western Union office at the Rock Island Station and carried by runners to the newspaper office on the Square. Assassin Charles Gitteau shot the president twice – once in the arm, once in the abdomen. Throughout the intense heat, the humidity, and swarming mosquitoes of Washington that summer, doctors using fingers and dirty instruments, extended a “three-inch harmless wound into a twenty-inch long contaminated gash from ribs to groin.” As they had for Lincoln’s assassination, local newspapers bordered the news of the death with thick black bands.Mayor Earlywine issued a proclamation. He asked the citizens of the town to attend a memorial service at the Courthouse Park on September 22 and a second one a week later at the new Russell Hall (today: Home Collections building) on the Square’s north west corner. Committees started organizing the event. (92/93)

 

September 19, 1901
Three town memorials were held. The fire department, coal miners, businessmen and women, the 51st Regimental Band under George Landers and schoolchildren joined together and walked through the rain to the opera house, to the First Presbyterian Church and to the Christian Church. They sang “America” and “Nearer, My God, To Thee.” Between 2.00 and 2.05pm the same day, at the time of the last McKinley funeral in Canton, Ohio, all trains in Appanoose County stopped running. They joined trains across the country. Not a wheel turned anywhere. Trains stopped in cornfields, switch engines in yards; fast mail and passenger trains all ground to a halt. (153-154)

 

September 20 1901
To the day, 20 years after the death of President Garfield, the country and Appanoose County were grieving the loss of another president. William McKinley was shot twice while moving along a reception line in the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo. The assassin was Leon Czolgosz, a young man concealing a loaded .32 caliber revolver under a handkerchief. The news came first to Centerville at 4.15 pm on September 6th to the “Daily Citizen” office on the north east corner of the Square (today’s Ritz Theatre). Reports of his condition conflicted. Confirmation came at 5pm by telephone from the “Ottumwa Courier.” Outside on the Square, the news was travelling by word of mouth. On 13th Street, 5 switchboard operators at the Centerville Telephone Company transmitted the news to various parts of the City and the County. On the Square, business transactions stopped. People gathered in groups. They seized copies of the newspaper as newsboys, leather satchels over their shoulders, emerged from the “Citizen” office. McKinley was still alive. Over the next 8 days people followed the headlines of his condition: Saturday Sept. 7,”May Recover”; Monday Sept.9, “Our President Will Live”; on the 10th, “President Improved”; on the 11th, “”Steadily Improving”. But on the 13th, there was a change: “The President Has a Relapse.” This was followed on September 14th,edged with thick black borders, with “Our President Dead.” (153-154)

 

September 21 1927
The issue again was coal trouble at Mystic. Meeting in Des Moines on August 26, Governor Hammill of Iowa had hammered out an agreement between the striking UMWA miners on one side, Sheriff Gaughenbaugh, local police officers, and 8 coal owners on the other. A picket, he ordered, of not more than 30 would be allowed at a coal mine; parades must be orderly, lacking violence and obscene language. By mid-September, the County attorney, W.B.Hays and Sheriff Gaughenbaugh observed violations of the Governor’s terms. They counted between 200-300 pickets – well in excess of the maximum of 30 – many of them subjecting the miners at work to profane language and attacks from rocks, clods, and eggs. When on Wednesday, September 21, Gaughenbaugh and his deputies ordered a large crowd of pickets at the Garfield mine to disperse, they were greeted with jeers and outright refusals to move. The next day, more deputies, 11 police officers from Des Moines, arrived in Centerville, responding immediately to a request from Gaughenbaugh that was reinforced by the Appanoose County Board of Supervisors. In addition, Sheriff Gaughenbaugh obtained a supply of tear gas. (311)

 

September 22 1881
This was the date set by Mayor Earlywine for the memorial service in honor of President Garfield on the Courthouse Square.
Bells tolled. Flags were lowered to half-mast. A letter of condolence was sent to Mrs. Garfield. It was engraved and framed. Arches draped in black and white were built at the Courthouse Park’s entrances. A speaker’s stand was prepared. It was decorated with arches, flags and flowers and was surmounted with a life-size portrait of the President, below it the calming words he’d spoken on the assassination of Lincoln: “God reigns and the Government still lives.” Black crepe was stretched from street to street. It covered the homes adjacent to the Square and outlined the windows and doors of stores. At J.M.Beall’s general variety store, 3 portraits stood side-by-side in the window: those of Washington, Lincoln and Garfield. They were wreathed in flowers and interwoven with crepe. Businesses, public offices and the coal mines closed. 800-1,000 people formed a procession. They were led by the Light Guard Band and Company E of the local National Guard, all in uniform, followed by the Masons and Odd Fellows, the fire department and school, City and County officials. The procession circled the Square then joined the hundreds of people inside the Square. There were 11 speeches, one of the first by Centerville’s Dr. Robert Stephenson, who had served under Garfield in the 42nd Ohio Voluntary Infantry during the Civil War. A choir sang. At the close of the service, a resolution was adopted. It began confessing not to understand “the dispensation of God.” It ended with a desire “to mingle our tears with those who mourn.” Mrs.Garfield later acknowledged the town’s resolution and letter of condolence. It was sent to Dr. Robert Stephenson.(93) (Note; the office and home of Dr.Stephenson is today: “One of a Kind” 314 W. State Street)

 

September 23 1927
Sometime before the miners working the Garfield emerged on their way home on Friday, September 23, a crowd of pickets gathered near the mine. They numbered 200.(The Governor’s agreed limit was 30). There were UMWA officials, some from other districts, union members on strike, and their wives and children. They lined the road both to the east and to the west. Some sat in cars parked along the road for several hundred feet. They were quiet and orderly. There were no shouts and very little singing. Sheriff Gaughenbaugh, with 5 or 6 local deputies and the 11 Des Moines police officers arrived. They parked their cars on the east side of the railroad tracks leading to the Garfield. They briefly conferred. Then, with Gaughenbaugh in the lead, they marched toward the pickets in a phalanx. The pickets noted the officers were heavily armed. There was “a considerable stir” and “much murmuring.” The sheriff asked the union officials to disperse the crowd. The officials replied they could not make the people leave. Gaughenbaugh approached the pickets several times and clearly he warned them he would use tear gas. Some pickets left immediately, driving away in their cars. Others moved away some distance and out of range of any action. Gaughenbaugh, himself a survivor of World War 1′s chlorine and gas attacks, waited, giving plenty of time for all who wished to leave to do so. He then walked to the west end of the pickets, lit a tear gas bomb and carried it slowly along the north side of the road, allowing a wind from that direction to carry the fumes across the highway to the pickets who had remained, most of whom now scattered. The sheriff and the deputies moved to the mine. As the Garfield workers emerged, they were searched for weapons and then escorted home. “There is but one step left,” said Governor Hammill when he heard the news. “Unless law and order is maintained in Appanoose County, troops will be sent there.” (311-312)

 

September 24 1927
When Sheriff Gaughenbaugh heard what the Governor said about sending troops into Mystic, it was a step the Sheriff didn’t want to take. He hired more police officers from Des Moines. He placed them at strategic locations where trouble could erupt. The Mayor of Mystic ordered a ban on all UMWA marches. At the same time, Gaughenbaugh dismissed local deputies who, by their residence, he said, had not acted impartially and before the arrival of out-of-County officers, had placed the entire burden of crowd control onto his shoulders. Furthermore, he had placed confidence in UMWA officials to help control the pickets. Instead, they’d brought in UMWA officials and pickets from out of the County who were inciting more trouble. This left him feeling double-crossed. A few strikers were furious at the use of tear gas. The mother of a small girl who suffered in the gas attack called the office of attorney C.W.Howell on Centerville Square to demand retaliation. Among others there was an undercurrent of bitterness. The County had reached a turning point. Jesse Beck’s editorials called for restraint. The parties involved in the mine controversy, he wrote, need to do the most sober and thoughtful thinking of their lives. We are a nation of laws, he continued. The alternative is chaos. (312-313)

 

September 25 1944
1944 was an election year. President Roosevelt, the Democrat, was running for a 4th term. His opponent was Governor Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate. Dr. George Gallup, the originator of the world-famed Gallup Poll, arrived in Centerville with 2 assistants. They carried brief cases. They stayed at the Continental Hotel. The purpose of their visit, they told an “Iowegian” reporter, was to conduct an in-depth poll of the people of Washington Township. For 44 years, Dr.Gallup explained, as went Washington Township, Appanoose County, Iowa, U.S.A. in its political choice, so went the nation. The “Iowegian” reporter noted the condition of Dr.Gallup’s shoes. They were scuffed. The color was worn off the toes by wet grass, mud and country highway travel. “I have no patience,” Dr. Gallup continued, “with the armchair boys back in New York, who try to figure things by remote control and that’s why I’m here.” He and his team cross-sectioned Washington Township, by blocks in Moulton and by school districts in the outlying area. At the Morrow home in Moulton’s 7th Street, the door was answered by 13-year-old Phyllis Morrow (now Cosby). “My parents will vote Democrat,” she told the team. “They will not vote Republican.” (485) (note: Washington Township, in the election on November 8, upheld its tradition. 330 votes were cast for Roosevelt, 315 for Dewey.)

 

September 26 1918
On September 26, the first bodies came home to Appanoose County, those military men who’d died not in battle but in the great ‘flu epidemic. The bodies came to the Rock Island Station from distant military bases. The first, on this day, was Floyd Mincks, 21-years old from Camp Dodge; 11 days later came Everett Traxler, 21-years, from Puget Sound Naval Base; Byron Bradley, 21, serving in the Army’s Medical Corps at Rock Island arsenal; Roscoe Guernsey, 35, from Denver, where he was entering the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s office; Fred Houser,27, working for the railroad at Eagle Grove. In the absence of an open dialog on the number dead from military bases, bizarre rumors substituted. They were repeated in Centerville. The number of dead at Camp Dodge was said to be 150 a day; the number suffering the disease: many thousands. The rumors became grotesque: 12 doctors and one nurse, it was said, had been shot at Camp Dodge for administering a substance that would hasten the deaths and spread the disease; the number of doctors supposedly shot increased with each repeating. The Germans were blamed. Their submarines operating along the Eastern Seaboard were thought to have sent agents ashore to release germs in theatres and other places where large numbers of people assembled. “Sure the Germans started it,” said a man interviewed on Centerville Square, “but it got beyond them and has now gotten into their own ranks.” (232-233)

 

September 27 1927
Just 4 days after the use of tear gas at at the Garfield mine, 50 to 60 sticks of dynamite were stolen from the Young mine at Clarkdale. The next night, an explosion rocked Mystic. An electric light pole, fuse boxes and the main 2200 volt leading wire to the mine machinery at the Winifred were destroyed. A petition was circulated, and there were letters to the “Iowegian” . Both complained about the cost to the taxpayers of the County for the out-of-County police officers. The local deputies, said the letters and the petition, were, before they were dismissed, paid $3.50 a day, with nothing extra for living expenses. But those from out-of-the- County were paid $7.50 a day, with extra for room and board and gasoline. The issue agitated local farmers, some of whom had been deputies. They already had financial issues of their own. 50 of them met in Plano to express their concern. They called for more meetings. There continued to be some acts of violence and still some picketing. Two Mystic women who had thrown rocks and lumps of coal at mine workers were charged with committing assault with intent to do great bodily harm. Their case was taken directly to a grand jury. They were found guilty and placed in the Appanoose County Jail. One of them claimed she was pregnant. She was immediately released. Violators of the Governor’s 30-person limit for pickets at mines were also arrested.They were charged with contempt of court. And even now the troubles were not over. (313)

 

September 28 1910
The man in 1910 who personified gold – John Pierpoint Morgan – spent half-an-hour crossing Appanoose County on the Milwaukee route, 10 miles north of Centerville passing through Moravia, Mystic, and Seymour. He was aboard a replica of the Twentieth Century Limited, so luxurious it was “…one of the finest trains that has ever crossed the state of Iowa.” His train, for railroad purposes labeled ” the red” was followed by 3 more “specials,” these labeled “the white,” “the blue,” and “the green.” These 4 trains carried 450 Eastern and Southern bankers, all with Morgan, on their way to the 36th Annual Convention of the American Bankers Association in Los Angeles. For less than one month, the financiers had at their disposal 4 baggage cars, 4 buffet or gentleman’s club cars, 8 for dining, 26 compartment, drawing room and sleeping cars – 4 of which were observation cars, known as ladies’ club cars, and each provided with a piano player and a range of records from “Johnnie Get Your Gun” to a Beethoven sonata. (166)

 

September 29 1936
Another national figure passed through Appanoose and Wayne Counties on the Milwaukee route. This one with far less fanfare and luxury, and it was 26 years after John Pierpoint Morgan. It was Alf Landon, the Governor of Kansas, now the Republican candidate for president opposing the re-election of Franklin Roosevelt for a 2nd term. His train slowed at Moravia, Rathbun, and Mystic so those at the depots could get a look at the candidate. Governor Landon could do little more than wave, and those on the train threw out souvenir Landon-Knox sunflower buttons which were eagerly picked up. At Seymour the train stopped. 1,500 people greeted Governor Landon. He stood on the rear platform, gave a short speech in which he urged voters to “plow the New Deal under.” As the train pulled out, the people were showered with the same Landon-Knox sunflower buttons the people had received at Moravia,Rathbun, and Mystic. It was considered a Red Letter day for Seymour, the first time in the town’s history it had been honored with a visit from a presidential candidate. (355)

 

September 30 1899
The talk of the town was what had happened the day before. The greatest circus attraction had come to town: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. It attracted the biggest crowds in memory. People trekked from all over southern Iowa and northern Missouri. Sidewalks overflowed.The parks were full. Vehicles lined Drake Avenue – since May 1 the new name for 14th Street. The parade lasted 2-and-a-half hours. The crowd, estimated to be 10 to 20,000 people, watched from open-sided, narrow show tents that lined 3 sides of Centerville’s Courthouse Square. The show began with an explosion of sound. Fast-paced action followed. There was an exhibition of the art of equitation from Cossacks of east Asia, gauchos of Argentina, and riders from Europe, the Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. A Mexican expert twirled his lasso in rythm to music. He roped objects in sight and ended by lassoing himself. There were exhibitions of marksmanship, culminating in the extraordinary talent of Johnny Baker and the even greater one of a “small girl” who “tripped in, bowing, waving, and wafting kisses.” Annie Oakley held her rifle backwards over her shoulder and, using a mirror to determine her sight, shot an ember off a cigarette. She sliced a playing card held up sideways, a dime held between thumb and forefinger. Chief Flat Iron chased a buffalo and described it as a “rare as a white cow, and worth almost its weight in silver.” Buffalo Bill rode in with the abandon of a pony-express youth, smashing flying balls as he did so. The old Deadwood stagecoach circled the Square. Sioux Indians attacked. Cowboys chased the Indians, saving the coach and its beautiful female occupants. Cannons, Gatling guns and volleys from small arms echoed around the buildings in a recreation of the most famous Cuban event from the Spanish American War – the Battle of San Juan Hill. Rough Riders, the 24th Infantry and the 9th and 10th Cavalry, all genuine veterans of the battle, marched in from the south of the Square. They pitched tents, built campfires and sang army songs. Then came the recreation of the storming of the hill, the rout of the Spanish and the raising of the Stars and Stripes.(134)

NOTE: Appanoose County was familiar ground to William F.Cody (Buffalo Bill). As a boy of 8, he’d traveled the Mormon Trail in a covered wagon. The family was making for Kansas to prevent the spread of slavery into that new state. His father, Isaac, was murdered there, stabbed for giving a speech opposing slavery.

 

 

©2014 Enfys McMurry All Rights Reserved

 

October

October 1 1864
During the Civil War, at Sugar Creek Township in Poweshiek County – 70 miles north of Centerville – a “hot bed of rebellion sympathizers” was training its members to assist Missouri’s General Sterling Price and his army of secessionists on yet another invasion of the southern Iowa border.The group was also doing something more. It was protecting Iowa draft evaders and Union deserters. On October 1, 1864, two deputy U.S.Marshals rode into Sugar Creek to pursue the evaders and the deserters. Both were ambushed and shot by men lying in wait in bushes. One of the U.S. Marshals, J.M.Woodruff of Knoxville, died quickly. The other was taken to the nearby farmhouse of James Craver (Gary Craver’s great great uncle) and lived long enough to identify the murderers. He was John L.Bashore, the Centerville shopkeeper who walked across the Square in May 1861 to join 2 teachers, Madison M.Walden and William Rhodes, as Appanoose County’s first volunteers for the Union’s 6th Infantry. John Bashore’s body was returned to Centerville. He is buried at Oakland Cemetery.(55-56)

 

October 1 1907
A special train took people to see President Teddy Roosevelt in Oskaloosa and then to Keokuk. Escorting the President, by special request was Centerville’s National Guard Company E. Playing, at his every event, again by special request,was Centerville’s George Landers and the 51st Regimental Band.(165)

 

October 2 1920
In his shop just off the Square, next door to the “Iowegian” on North Main, Harry Luther was tinkering. Using 2 vacuum tubes, a condenser, receiver, loop aerials, batteries and headphones, he displayed to a fascinated town on October 1, 1920 the first radio receiving set in Centerville. On this day October 2, and forward, his store was packed, young and old taking their turns to listen. Luther’s radio launched the town into a new era. The train and the automobile gave travel from the town to distant locations. The radio offered the world without leaving home. Across the nation, radio was the craze. Local people reported the counters for radio equipment in Kansas City and Chicago were bare. But, said William S.Bradley, Harry Luther’s store in Centerville had “more stuff in his show cases than all the Chicago stores combined.” Some of his supplies, Luther now moved diagonally across the Square to his garage on East Van Buren. There the town’s boys and young men built more radios. They listened through headsets to sounds coming across the airwaves. They heard Washington D.C,, New York City, a conversation between Santa Catalina Island and Los Angeles, opera singer Lucien Muratore from the Chicago Grand Opera on wavelength 360 meters and, on wavelength 330 from KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, agricultural and market reports sanctioned by the U.S.Department of Agriculture. (293)

 

October 3 1942
For 2 days, people in Appanoose County, who were driving privately owned vehicles, were driving at a wartime speed of 35 mph. This limit extended throughout World War 2. Its purpose was to conserve the nation’s rubber stockpile. (Major rubber-producing countries were under Japanese control.) Exempted were vehicles operated by the armed forces and those used in emergency for the protection or preservation of life, health, or public safety. The Office of Defense Transportation declared all 48 states were taking some steps for reinforcement. In Appanoose County, tires were inscribed with numbers. They were inspected every 4 months; the wear and tear on the tires was expected to tally with the mileage recorded on the odometer.After December 1st, 1942, there was a more effective deterrent to breaking the speed limit: gasoline was rationed. (429) (note: gas rationing will be covered December 1)

 

October 4 1931
At the height of the Depression, farmers were encountering another grievance. State veterinarians, hypodermic needles in hand were moving onto the farms of Appanoose County and every county in Iowa. They were enacting an Iowa law making tuberculin testing of cows mandatory. They injected a single drop of tuberculin – a clear, sterile serum derived from the tuberculosis bacillus – into the thin skin on the underside of a cow’s tail. A red lump at the injection site 48-72 hours later indicated a tubercular cow – one that must be destroyed. J.M.Tucker, a farmer at Moravia, wrote to the “Iowegian”: “his policy,” he said, “…is robbing farmers of their best cows.” He urged Appanoose farmers and stock breeders to copy the revolt that was happening in Cedar County. There, at the William Butterbrodt Farm near Tipton, State agents had been forced to withdraw when 1,000 farmers standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the barnyard blocked their path. A meeting of all Iowa’s protesting farmers occurred in Des Moines. 1,200 farmers from Cedar County and adjoining counties, some from western Iowa and a few from Appanoose County, marched through the streets to the State Capitol. They wore small blue cards on their lapels demanding TB tests be made optional. They interrupted regular State legislature business. They shouted “boo’s” and “no’s.” They stamped their feet. They packed the aisles. The experience had a sobering effect on those who attended from Appanoose County. They distanced themselves from the objectors. Testing on Appanoose County’s 31,082 cattle began and by this date was completed without incident. (332)

 

October 5 1927
Throughout the period of troubles at the County’s mines, letters to the editor of the “Iowegian” were expressing the feelings of miners. Winter was approaching. The UMWA pay-strike benefits were $5.00 a week to each union member and 50cents a week extra for each child in the family. Some members, such as French immigrant Emil Gerard as well as Frank Powell, were denied any benefit because at their homes on Walnut Hill they kept a couple of cows and some chickens. Russian immigrant Lige Burcaski of Mystic wrote, “I can’t live on $5.00 a week when there are seven in the family…not only me but a lot of other men were going to start to work.” In another letter, S.Boslem of Centerville, who had a family of 10 agreed. He said the UMWA was the best friend the miners and the operators ever had, but noted, “I fully realize what another winter will mean if I do not secure work,” William Allan, the superintendent of the Numa Coal Company, who had worked in Iowa mines for 43 years, said he’d never seen conditions so bad. One man had told him if he had to live on charity through the winter, he’d prefer to go to the County Farm with his wife. (314)

 

October 6 1930
With the Depression in its second year, on this day, farm sales began in Appanoose County. Advertisements for them appeared in the “Daily Iowegian.” They included instructions to locate the farm and named a local church whose ladies would serve luncheons. At first the advertisements listed the sales of animals: 30 head of cattle, a gray suckling mule colt, and 45 white Pekin ducks at the Roy Vandike Farm southeast of Exline. Two days later, on the 8th, 34 purebred Guernsey cattle at Centerville’s Prospect Farm were advertised; the following day, an ad listed 47 cattle, hogs, and buck lambs at the S.H.Porter farm northwest of Udell. Within a week, advertisements included the sales of saddles, tractors, plows, farm machinery and household furniture. There were community auctions held at Centerville’s High Gate Yard. Multiple farmers called at the “Iowegian” office to list their livestock, their grain, automobiles, furniture, rugs, and “good oak posts.” On the southside steps of the Appanoose County Courthouse, auctioneers called out bids on land – 107 acres east of Centerville, 120 north of Plano. 7 farms and 15 homes were listed for sale on one day at Speers Real Estate Office over the Brody Store (today: Home Collections). In one year, 1931, 87 farms and town properties were sold by the Appanoose County Sheriff – all foreclosed by court order. It would only get worse.(331)

 

October 7 1931
Farm troubles in Cedar County spread to Muscatine, Henry, Des Moines, and Chickasaw Counties. State veterinarians were kicked and showered with water, handfuls of mud, and barrages of eggs; they were threatened with guns and clubs and had their automobile tires punctured and their car windows smashed. 200 farmers wielding pitchforks at one farm defied 65 sheriffs’ deputies attempting to protect the vets. Iowa’s usually mild-mannered Governor Dan Turner had had enough. He called out the National Guard. It included Centerville’s Company G of Iowa’s 168th Infantry. The local men served twice: once in Cedar County, once near Burlington. Armed with rifles and machine guns and divided into detachments, they protected State vets as the tests were successfully administered. Among the vets, ordered to the scene by the State’s Secretary of Agriculture, M.G.Thornberg, was Centerville’s Dr, C.R.Fry. When Company G returned home, it was almost time for Thanksgiving. They had served for 64 days. The fight over compulsory bovine tubercular testing was over. The distress of farmers was not.(332-333)

 

October 8 1865
When the “boys in blue” returned home from the Civil War, they came with their companies or in small groups. A few came alone. There were shouts, cheers, celebrations, a “grand rally ” on Centerville Square, processions, torchlights parades, and tributes of honor from community leaders and neighbors. Fifteen hundred men had served from Appanoose County. 300 were killed outright, died on battlefields, in the hospitals or as prisoners of war. Most had injuries that would restrict them the rest of their lives. They suffered shattered or amputated limbs, damaged spines, diseased and weakened internal organs and paralysis. They experienced chronic rheumatism, sciatica and lumbago. Their most common affliction was chronic diarrhea – incurable before the advent of penicillin and antibiotics. Many had eye disorders; some were blind, some totally deaf and a few were described as suffering from “nervous disability.” Hank McKeehan was permanently affected by lying on the ground with repeated exposure to snow and rain and by climbing down into wells “thick with men” and boiling the water in an attempt to eradicate blood and oil. John Westerbarger, similarly exposed to harsh conditions, lost his sight in both eyes and lived out his life with his mother near Dean. But the men who suffered the worst were those who experienced Andersonville Prison. (The account: see October 13) (63)

 

October 9 1895
Centerville has produced prize-winning pacer horses. Two famous ones were Sealskin and a purebred stallion named Roseberry who won the Illinois Stakes. Roseberry’s promise as a pacer seemed limitless.He sired a new generation of horses before his premature death from a kick in the “stifle”(the thigh area). An offspring of Roseberry would become world champion and bring Centerville international recognition He was owned by Dr.William M.Scott – a medical doctor with a large practice in Centerville.The horse was Strathberry. This bay horse, with black points and a small star on his forehead, ran distinctively with “his head high and flesh trembling.” He was unknown at the Ottumwa Racetrack in August 1894. In a race described as “the most exciting thing in the history of Ottumwa’s racing,” he ran the 3 heats with times of 2:16; 2:16:25;and 2:13:25 – an Iowa record. From 1894 on, his times improved – 2:09:75 at Hedrick; 2:08:75 at Malcolm. Then, on the Ottumwa Track in 1895 and on this date – October 9, Strathberry established a new world record pace of 2: 07:75 and then again at Lincoln, 2:04:25. Offers of money for Strathberry immediately reached Dr. Scott. But Strathberry lived out his life at Dr.Scott’s stable at 205 West Franklin Street, siring Doc B.P., champion of Europe and Strathtelle, a Canadian “wonder horse” that set a time equal to that of his father. (104) Strathberry’s record was confirmed by the national Harness Racing Committee in a telephone interview on July 26,2006.

 

October 10 1918
As the 1918 great flu’ epidemic gathered momentum, local physicians at first saw no reason to panic The disease had been caught away from home by all the victims. But on October 10, the town’s complacency ended. A rumor spread by word throughout the town. People, shocked and incredulous, asked for confirmation. Fifty-four-year-old Robert A.McKee was dead of the disease. He was one of the town’s leading and most successful citizens. He was then owner of the Sunshine Coalmine, stockholder at the Commercial State Savings Bank, a member of Knights of Pythias, the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, a leader of the Methodist Church and one of the builders of the new Majestic Theatre on North 13th Street. He was the son of Susannah McKee, the owner of the Continental Hotel who had died in the fire of 1893. He lived in an elegant address, 606 South Main, and was known for his energy, business acumen, his spirit of optimism, his dry Irish wit. With this news, and, as the national death toll rose, controlling panic became the issue. (233)

 

October 11 1921
When the First National Film Company left Centerville on May 24 after completing filming scenes in Centerville and Plano for the movie “The Wonderful Thing,” Director Herbert Brenon promised the first showing of the movie would be at the Majestic Theatre on Centerville’s 13th Street. That promise was kept. The film was released on September 1921. Its advertisement covered one page of the “Iowegian”.  Its first showing to the public was on this day : October 11 and for the following 3 days. It was the first national showing. Crowds filled the the Majestic to the door. More crowds assembled, waiting for the 2nd showing. Centerville was in films! The Courthouse, the Burlington depot(today:the VFW post), the Bradley/Harbold Hog Farm in Plano were all flashed onto the silver screen. Then appeared the caption: Centerville, Iowa, U.S.A. People began to talk in excited whispers. They commented on Norma Talmadge – the main actress, on the hog farm, on 13-year-old Clarence Brand of Plano, whom Director Brenon pulled out of the crowd to deliver a telegram. And they commented on the Courthouse. (266)

 

October 12 1921
It had happened the night before. On his way home from work at one in the morning,Centerville policeman H.A,”Slim” Edwards offered assistance to 3 men working on a Ford touring car on South 12th Street, 2 blocks south of Maple Street . In response, a bullet shattered the bone in his left leg, a second deeply creased his left wrist and a third hit him just above the heart. Edwards, on the ground and believing himself to be fatally wounded, pulled his gun from a shoulder holster and fired at the men, who were trying to start the car by pushing it down 12th Street, one of them at the same time trying to remove the car’s license plate. The 3 men abandoned the car and scattered on foot. Edwards survived. The critical bullet, aimed at his heart, was deflected by his officer’s metal badge. Clues from the abandoned car, from its engine number: 3252844 – identified the car owner as Luke Kennedy, a member of the notorious St,Louis Hogan Gang. Appanoose County Sheriff Elgin traveled to Jefferson City with extradition papers. Before Elgin returned to Centerville, a “Luke Kennedy,” handcuffed to a “St.Louis policeman,” appeared at the hospital bedside of “Slim”Edwards presenting him with an affidavit to sign that the “prisoner” before him was the man who had shot him. Edwards hesitated. At that moment County Attorney Tom Fee entered the hospital room, intercepted the affidavit and tore it up. The 2 visitors from St,Louis were imposters – other members of the gang. (259-260 including picture of badge that saved Edwards’life)

 

October 13 1865
The prisoners who experienced the worst horrors were those kept at Andersonville. One of them, R.W.Porter was one of 10 Putnam County boys who’d come north and joined the 8th Cavalry in Centerville. He barely survived the war. Porter’s comrades did not. Porter was carried out of Andersonville on a stretcher when the prison was relieved. He weighed 45 lbs. He was taken to a hospital in Annapolis, Maryland. He recovered his strength, graduated from crutches to 2 canes and started home to Putnam County via Chicago and from there to Moravia. For days he rested and visited with his wounded captain, Ephraim Cummins, and took a stage coach that terminated on Centerville Square. A young woman observing his condition asked whether he was from Andersonville. She offered to accompany him on the rest of his journey. When he refused, she gave him and helped him up onto her saddle horse. Porter traveled on alone, crossed the State line into Putnam County and shocked his family, who had assumed him long dead. “About the hardest task I ever had to do, was to tell what had become of my comrades. Their parents, their brothers and sisters were there to ask where they were,” Porter later recalled. Of the 10 boys who had enlisted in Iowa’s 8th Cavalry from Putnam County, one was discharged for disability, 2 died of measles, 3 were killed in battle, 2 – Finly Sterret and William Rhoades – died at Andersonville and one, S.W.Allen, survived that prison and lived to get home but “could not rally.” The 10th was Porter.(63-64)

 

October 14 1934
Throughout the 1930′s, Charles “Pretty Boy Floyd was said to be using southern Iowa and northern Missouri as a “hang out.” He had relatives in Cincinnati and was known to visit them. He was seen walking in the street by a local minister. He and a female companion ate at the Blue Bird Cafe on the southside of Centerville Square. On October 15, 1934, a car believed to be Floyd’s, a burning wreckage of a Ford DeLuxe V8 sedan, was found 3 miles west of Numa. Bullet holes were seen in its body. State agent A.C.Height arrived to examine it. The car burned here, he said, perfectly answers the descriptions of the one used by Floyd in a shoot-out 4 days previously in McIntire, Iowa. (360)

 

October 15 1923
Many of the businessmen of Centerville awoke to find copies of the October 15 “Arkansas Traveller,” a KKK newspaper published in Little Rock and El Dorado, Arkansas, on their doorsteps. A banner headline stretched across the top of the front page. It read: “Centerville, Iowa, Needs Klan.” The anonymous writer repeated sensational points made earlier in the “Des Moines News.” Centerville was the “City of Crime,” the Rock Island crossing on South 18th Street, “The Death Crossing…the scene of more murders and crimes than any other one point within the bounds of our state.” This was an early indicator of KKK intentions in Centerville. From the beginning,there could have been no doubt about their philosophy. The “Iowegian” in October 1923, reported on a speech given by Dr.H.W.Evans, “Imperial Wizard” of the Klan in Dallas, Texas. He supported restricting immigration; he said that the “Negro, both by biology and anthropology”, could not attain the Anglo-Saxon level, that the Jew was an “absolutely unblendable element”: and that Catholics subordinated the presidency at Washington “to the priesthood at Rome.’ They ( the KKK) believed in “100% Americanism.” This they interpreted as Christian, gentile, white, native-born and Protestant. They denounced Catholics, Jews, African-Americans, Orientals, bootleggers,,, pacifists, Bolshevists. Socialists, believers in the Theory of Evolution and immigrants from “non-Nordic nations.” (275)

 

October 16 1940
One month previously (on September 16th) President Roosevelt signed the nation’s first peacetime conscription bill. On this day of October 16th, 1940 – a Sunday – American men aged 21 to 36 were signing up for the draft at the rate of 1,250,000 an hour. Here in Centerville, the Square was ringed with flags. Loudspeakers broadcast repeated renditions of “God Bless America” and the national anthem. The sun was shining. Local men signed up at six uptown precincts and at 24 more precincts in the County’s townships. Lines formed. They included traveling men and transients. There were medical examinations. Each man took the oath of allegiance. There was much bantering. The men made mock farewells, calling each other “Sarge” or “Corp” and saluting. (390)
On a newsreel showing at the Majestic Theatre, people jump to their feet when they recognize Centerville’s Johnny Talbot, severely burned, dehydrated and exhausted, a survivor of the Battle of Midway, carried on a stretcher to a hospital in Pearl Harbor. (417)

 

October 17 1918
With the great flu epidemic getting worse, the Iowa State Board of Health issued a statewide quarantine. The quarantine lasted one week. It was, by accepted standards, unusual. Stores remained open; so did the mines, and the daily patriotic parades continued. The drugstores were open, as were the cigarette counters, the hotels and the eating houses. The Midway News and Lunch Room on Thirteenth Street was busier than usual selling the latest newspapers and magazines, and the Majestic Theatre was closed for movies but open for the sale of its ButterKist popcorn. On the Sunday of that week, church bells were silenced, the streets strangely deserted. By late morning, small knots of people began to gather in groups, a few strolled aimlessly or sat or lay on the courthouse lawn enjoying the bright fall sunshine. Some people took joyrides in their automobiles. Fragments of conversation were overheard: “Gee whiz, a man will have to get a permit from the board to kiss his own wife, pretty soon”; “It’ll take three or four of the very best games right out of the football season”; “I think it’s the right thing to do and we ought to be willing to take care of ourselves.” (234-235)

 

October 18 1896
William Jennings Bryan was campaigning in Centerville. He spoke on the Square. Bryan, say the writers of First Hand America, was a sincere Christian who accepted the literal truth of the Bible and interpreted human history as a titanic struggle between good and evil. He believed humanity was being oppressed by money power. He was an eloquent speaker. He was now the Democratic candidate for Presidency. He would lose to Ohio Governor William McKinley. (205 and First Hand America 642-3)

 

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