Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
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The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
September 26, 2016

Clear Lake history to come alive during October cemetery walk
by Ashley Miller

CLEAR LAKE — Clear Lake High School’s American Heritage classes will bring local history alive during a cemetery walk next month.

Juniors will put on the first annual event 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Clear Lake Cemetery, located on North 20th Street near the high school. It will be free but donations will be accepted to benefit the school’s D.C. Scholarship Fund and the Clear Lake Historical Society.

Irene Swanson plans to wear an ankle-length hoop skirt as she portrays teacher Delia Fletcher, one of eight featured historical features.

Fletcher, who was a teacher in Clear Lake during the 1860s, began her career at age 14, Swanson said. Known as an independent woman, Fletcher was 19 years old when she came to Clear Lake, arriving via bobsled with the mail.

“It’s insane being a teacher at 14,” Swanson said. “I can’t imagine teaching at my age.”

Through research aided by the Clear Lake Historical Society, Swanson learned that Fletcher, a lifelong educator, also acted in local productions and played the organ at her church.

As one of several tour guides, Luke Eggers will take guests to grave sites where they can “meet” other notable Clear Lake residents: Joseph Hewitt, Mrs. Amy Louise Drake Phillips, Carl Bates, Tom Howard, Mrs. Rosa Howard, Dr. Margaret Colby and Ellen Wilhite.

Through his class project, Eggers said he has learned how the town was founded and history on the town’s schools.

“We’re just a small town, so normally I don’t think about that,” he said.

Grace Hartnett and Ana Starbeck, who are handling public relations and advertising for the walk, said they’ve learned Clear Lake was founded in 1851, with State Park once home to the main part of the city.

Lured by reports of a beautiful lake with fish and fowl, the Clear Lake Historical Society says, Joseph Hewitt and James Dickirson settled on the east side of the lake, a summer home to Dakota and Winnebago Native Americans. Other settlers began arriving in 1853.

Social studies teacher Kate Richtsmeier said the walk — something that’s been done in her hometown for a decade — was a way to incorporate Clear Lake history into curriculum, which will also have an Iowa history component in the spring.

“We thought it would be a good way to get kids involved other than just researching to write a paper,” she said.

Richtsmeier said the juniors became leaders of the project, allowing her and fellow educator Sarah Raymond to be hands-off during the process.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2016

 

 

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