Cedar County, Iowa
Community News

West Branch Times, West Branch, Iowa, Thursday, September 25, 1924
Transcribed by Sharon Elijah, June 24, 2018

Historical Spot Near Springdale Is Marked By Daughters Of the American Revolution

     The famous rendezvous of John Brown and his company on the William Maxson farm now owned by J. W. Gray and occupied by his son Robert L. Gray, northeast of Springdale, is to be permanently marked for the benefit of all future generations, as a testimonial of its share in the making of history. The old stucco house in which the famous abolitionist and his small party of recruits were quartered during the winter of 1857 and 1858 still stands and the farm is visited by many who come to tread the ground where that heroic group of men were drilled and view the landmarks which remain.

     A significant fact in connection with Tuesday’s dedication of the beautiful marker which is a gift of the Iowa Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution is that the idea really originated with a former West Branch girl. Mrs. Hilda Ellyson Allen, who is a member of the D.A.R. chapter at Onawa, several years ago suggested to her local chapter that this spot had much of historical value and should be marked for the benefit of posterity. From this suggestion, indirectly, grew the resolve of the state organization to erect a marker.

     Several years have elapsed and several visits were made to the vicinity of the Gray farm in the effort to find a boulder suitable to be used for the purpose. None was found, however, and Mrs. W. L. Corrough of Grinnell, chairman of Historic Spots committee, conceived the idea of using a part of a huge boulder found near Grinnell for the marker. Her idea came, partly, from the fact that two markers from this stone are in place in Grinnell, one of which is in memory of Josiah Grinnell the founder of the city and whose home and efforts in early days were always used in sympathy with the “underground railway.” It thus seemed fitting to use a part of the huge boulder in memory of John Brown.

     So it was that the beautiful reddish gray stone, weighing 2800 lbs., had imbedded in its side the bronze plate which bears this inscription.

     “Here was the home of William Maxson, a station on the underground railroad where John Brown of Ossawatomic recruited and trained 11 men for the attack on Harpers Ferry.—Let some poor slave mother whom I have striven to free, with her children, from the gallows-stair, put up a prayer for me. (Whittier.)

     Erected by the Iowa Society Daughters of the American Revolution, 1924.”

     The marker is placed south of the two fine old cottonwood trees in front of the home and stands beside the driveway, plainly visible to every passerby.

     On Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 23rd, the D.A.R. dedicated, with a splendid, impressive service, this marker. Thirty-five members from Grinnell, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, with a few from Tipton, took part in the ceremonies.

     The Springdale schools were dismissed for the occasion and hundreds of interested visitors from the vicinity were present.

     Miss Amy E. Gilbert of State Center, Past State Regent, presided. The Rev. Van Dusen of Tipton offered prayer, which was followed by the Salute to the Flag and one verse of America. Mrs. Howard Phelps then gave an intensely interesting local sketch which she had compiled with the aid of “Uncle” Willard Maxson, whose first-hand recollections of those stirring times are invaluable. Her talk teemed with intimate stories of the life of John Brown and his men during their stay in the Maxson home and for its historical value should indeed be preserved.

     Mrs. Corrough was next introduced and told of the Society’s efforts in securing this marker and gave briefly its history. She also very warmly thanked Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Gray for their cooperation in the project.

     Miss Gilbert gave the dedication address and her remarks were most inspiring. She spoke of the ideals of her society and recounted briefly the last chapter in the life of John Brown and his fellow martyrs. She stressed the necessity of keeping before us these historical events and the ideals for which they stood and pointed out that the marker which was being dedicated would stand as a perpetual reminder to posterity of the events of those stirring times.

     Miss Wilma Corrough of Grinnell unveiled the stone, revealing the bronze plate and beside it a framed portrait of John Brown.

     Miss Gilbert formally dedicated the marker and presented it to the society.

     Mrs. Clarence Van Epps of Iowa City, on behalf of the society, formally accepted the marker with a few gracious remarks.

     The Self Culture Club of Springdale very fittingly sustained tradition in extending hospitality to the stranger within the gates. Dinner was served in the Methodist church basement to forty-one visitors, who were guest of the club, a courtesy much appreciated by the visitors.

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