On the first page of the Anniversary Edition, our readers will see an accurate picture of the town of Carroll from a bird’s-eye perspective. From this picture one sees that the town mainly stretches in length from north to south, bordered on the north side by the public school and on the south side by the German Saints Peter and Paul Church.
The Northwestern Railway bisects the town from east to west, creating a northern and a southern half. The northern half, the majority of the town, is occupied mainly by Americans, while the southern half is occupied for the most part by German-Americans. The Main Street runs from north to south, and it and the railroad tracks divide the town into four parts which form the First, Second. Third, and Fourth Wards, each of which is represented in the city council by two council members. Carroll lies northwest of the state capitol, Des Moines, and is approximately the same distance northeast of Council Bluffs. The center of the county is only a mile and a half from Carroll, and the town lies on the Coon River, which meanders along the southern edge of town. Carroll is the county seat and has about 3000 residents.
In August of 1867, the town of Carroll was laid out by the Northwestern Railroad Company. The following year, the future of the small town was ensured when the transfer of the courthouse to Carroll from Carrolton was approved by a vote of 88 to 30. In the fall of 1868, the first general merchandise store of A. L. Kidder was established, and several others followed soon after. Mr. G. P. Wetherill moved from Jefferson and associated with M. A. Hoyt, and put up a small frame building for their new business on the spot where Mr. Seb. Walz now conducts his shoe business. In 1869, the population of the small county seat reached 384. Mr. J. M. Patty was the first physician in the new town, and J. H. Colclo, then Sheriff of Carroll County, opened the first hotel. Mr. J. G. Griffith worked to get approval for the first post office, and A. L. Kidder was installed as the first post master. In the same year, the town was incorporated and the following city officials were elected: I. N. Griffith, mayor; B. B. Terry, town secretary; J. E. Griffith, treasurer; O. H. Manning, city attorney; J. W. Ring, D. Wayne, J. E. Bailey, F. E. Dennel and W. R. Booth, city councilmen. Since then, Carroll has had 10 mayors, including the present one, and they are: J. F. Tuttle, J. C. Kelly, D. Wayne, E. M. Parsons, F. M. Powers, M. W. Beach, and W. A. MacLagan. [Some served more than one term, which may account for the discrepancy in the number.]
Carroll distinguishes itself through progress, and its residents through energy and enterprising spirit. Naturally, the very favorable location of the town has also been helpful, because it has a significant geographical advantage as a market center. When one looks on a map, one finds that there is no larger city within 90 or 100 miles in any direction from Carroll. Marshalltown, Des Moines, Council Bluffs and Sioux City are all about 100 miles from Carroll. Thus, one sees that the young town has a very promising future, and the energetic business people should make use of these advantages.
In 1875, the town had a population of 812. At that time, the German population, which had already settled in rather large numbers, began to show activity, especially following, as described above [in another article], the founding of the “Carroll Demokrat” by Bowman and Burkhardt. In 1876, the German residents of the town and the surrounding area celebrated the national holiday, the 4th of July, for the first time. That day they received public praise for their exemplary and military deportment in the impressive parade. A committee had formed which conducted the celebration and made the necessary arrangements. A festival area was constructed down by the river, where an orchestra played in the cheerful style of the Fatherland, and happy dancers twirled to the measure of the music. Refreshments were served, and the celebration went on so beautifully and harmoniously that it provided the stimulus for a German club, which was christened with the name of Carroll Shutz
enverein.” [Carroll Rifle Club] The first president of the club was Mr. G. Hartmann, and the first members were Misters Louis Keckevoet, Nickolaus Beiter, Seb. Walz, Frank Salman, Jacob Daczewitz, John G. Burckhardt, Chas. Braun, Henry Fischer, B. Hannasch, B. Hinrichs, J. Janssen, Mossmann, Scholl, and Schubig. The club built a covered rifle range on the hill by the river approximately where the stables of Mr. G. Selzer are located now, and on Sundays the club members attended to the sport of target shooting.
In 1879, the town of Carroll experienced a devastating fire which reduced the main business district to ashes. Just like all new cities in the west that were built of wood, so also were the buildings in Carroll made of frame construction and they were quickly consumed by the fire and fed the destructive flames. The loss in destroyed property amounted to $200,000, of which only $35,000 was covered by insurance. As the old saying goes, “The well is only covered after the child has drowned,” so was it also following the great fire in Carroll. The city government took preventive measures that no more frame buildings could be constructed in the business district. After the fire, only solid brick buildings were built, and a well with a windmill was set up and attached by pipes to twelve hydrants. A fire engine with a good long hose was obtained and was to be prepared in case of fire. Approximately $11,000 was paid out for it. But by 1892, these preparations were considered insufficient. At that time, wells were dug in the northern part of town and a steam pump was set up, which, however, was an unsuccessful experiment and cost $9000. Then for a time water was pumped from the Coon River but this equipment proved unsatisfactory. Finally, two deep wells were dug near the river which delivered sufficient good water. Two steam pumps convey the water, which is first purified in a filtration system, up the hill to a new water reservoir that was constructed last fall by Mr. Fred. Franzwa. The entire arrangement, with six miles of water pipe, 26 hydrants, two powerful steam pumps and a horizontal pump, along with the new reservoir, cost the town about $40,000.
But now we turn our attention once again to the activities of the German population. The shooting gallery of the Schutzenverein was destroyed by a windstorm. A rifle range was then rebuilt on the site of the current Sommermeier [sp?] place, where the marksmen conducted their target practice for several years. In the mean time, the shooting club had grown in membership and when it held its shooting festivals, the members of the rifle company formed quite a proud parade when they marched out in their green sashes and feathers to take their positions. In 1883, the club purchased 15 acres of land northwest of town, and in the same year an attractive and spacious house was built there with a dance hall upstairs. Beautiful landscaping was also completed, and a building for a shooting gallery was also constructed.
In 1884, the “Deutsche Verein” [German Club] was established in Carroll. The founders of the club were Misters Alois Becker, Ferd. Becker, Jos. Stendike, Henry Arnz, Heinrich Mittelmann, Henry Kempker, Ed. Conter, August Boehme, Anton Bruch, Gottlieb Krieg, Herm. Pape, Ed. Thuerlimann, F. Florencourt, A. Pohlmann, B. Dietering, and S. Urbany. Mr. Alois Becker was the first president of the club. The organization had the goal of maintaining and fostering the German language and German customs, as well as German social life. Two departments were formed--a dramatic arts department and a singing department--and with this arrangement the club flourished. The family celebrations and public festivals are still remembered cheerfully by many Germans, and some long for the return of those days that they spent in the friendly Deutsche Verein. The private family celebrations were the most pleasant that one could imagine, as were the performances of the drama department under the direction of Mr. A. Becker, and the singing department under the direction of the capable conductor, Mr. Frank Kraus, and the public celebrations were especially widely attended not only by the entire German community, but also many Americans who took pleasure in German song. An excellent library was acquired for the materials of the Deutsche Verein, and the first two bells in the German Saints Peter and Paul Church were paid for from the profits of an evening festival at the Deutsche Verein.
In the fall of 1886, there was a movement to establish a German fire-fighting company, and under the sponsorship of then-Mayor E. M. Parsons it was established on 20 November 1886 and was called the Parsons Hose Company No. 2. The founders of the German Fire Department Company were Misters John Loebel, Bernh. Wichmer, Fred. Franzwa, Henry Thiers, John P. Hess, Wm. Thiers, Mr. Kuhl, Chas. Heitz, Wm. Janssen, John Mossmann, Leo Biebig, Frank Schmidt, Mr. Rebelski, Fritz Buchheit, Bernhard Deitering and Fred. Bergstecker. The first chief of the company was John Loebel. In 1891, the uniforms of the entire crew were purchased at a cost of $132, and in 1893, a “running cart” was purchased for $90. The German Fire Department Company still exists today and is unquestionably the most well-organized fire department in the state. The company has distinguished itself honorably in several large fires, and it always wins the highest honors in fire-department competitions.
In 1893, the two clubs, the old Schutzenverein and the Deutsche Verein, merged into a single club called the “Germania Verein” [Germania Club], and in 1894, the Germania Opera Hall was built and furnished with all modern equipment.
In March 1892, the “Turnverein” [Gymnastics Club] was formed. The founders of this club were Wm. Winnike, Ph. Zerwas, Wm. Krueger, Jos. Wiedermeier, Jr., H. S. Bruch, John Eltgroth, M. Pudenz, B. Brown, Jr., John Gruber, Chas. Fipp, Chas. Kanne, J. H. Lohmann, Jos. M. Wiederhold, A. Wiedemeier, and H. Fipp. The first chairman was Mr. Wm. Winnike, and Mr. Chas. Kanne was the head gymnastics instructor. The club brought an appreciation for gymnastics and good cheer to Carroll and elevated the sport to such a high level of proficiency that the club caught on rapidly. The best and most modern gymnastics equipment was on hand at the club, and the gymnastics events put on by the club are still remembered by all. This club finally merged with the Germania Verein, producing the “Germania Turnverein” [Germania Gymnastics Club]. This club was then dissolved in the spring of 1898 and the “Deutsche Verein” [German Club] was established, which was joined by the old supporters of the earlier Schutzenverein and Deutsche Verein, as well as some members of the Turnverein.
In 1897, the “Turnverein Vorwaerts” [Onward Gymnastics Club] was founded. The founders of this club are C. H. Hoest, J. H. Ley, Geo. A. Hoffmann, Jos. M. Wiederhold, A. J. Wiedemeier, Fred. Hannasch, Wm. A. Wiederhold, Ed. Hoest, Julius Seligmann, Philip Kaib, J. B. Hahn, and Vic. Janssen. The first chairman elected was C. H. Hoest and the first gymnastics instructor was Jos. M. Wiederhold. The club is very strong and enjoys a great popularity. The entertainments, which the club puts on several times a year, are very popular and always receive a good attendance.
We have permitted ourselves here to detail the German clubs because up to now they have been instrumental in enhancing the German culture of Carroll County. If German clubs promote German social life, friendship, harmony, German music and appreciation for gymnastics, if they uphold and promote the German language and German customs, if they stand strong against Nativism and do not shy away from opportunities to demonstrate the strong character of German-Americans, then the German clubs will fulfill their important mission and will deserve the respect of all German-speaking fellow-citizens. The author has included the German clubs in this history of Carroll County because up to now they have fulfilled their mission, so that German culture is respected and honored in the entire county.
And now we turn our attention back to the further developments of the town. There is probably not a town of the same size to be found in Iowa that can point to such fine public buildings, fine homes, beautiful and clean streets with wide and comfortable cement sidewalks, or the variety of business buildings as can Carroll. In the town, there are eight churches, a public high school, a public grade school, two parish schools, four hotels, one hospital, three banks, five printers, two lumberyards, a seltzer water plant, a “muzzle basket” maker [perhaps referring to feeding baskets for livestock?], two cigar makers, a brick kiln, electric lighting is spread throughout the whole town illuminating businesses and homes, there is municipal steam heat, a large steam mill equipped with the latest machinery, a large opera house and a music hall, three wholesale beer and liquor stores, a waterworks covering the whole town, the Consolidated Tank Line Company, a wholesale dealer in kerosene and gasoline, a telegraph and telephone connection, two grain elevators, the Northwestern cattle yard, and two steam laundries.
NOTES: The German language often uses rather long and complicated sentences. In translating, I have kept the long sentences, rather than break them into smaller sentences. The article also contains many names, some of which might be slightly misspelled. The German clubs mentioned in the article were fairly common in German communities in both America and Germany.