Fremont County, Iowa

Naming of Thurman
by Mrs. R. Baylor
View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of July 12, 2015

Tabor Beacon, February 1, 1917
Article on early naming of Thurman

The following interesting bit of history relating to our bustling neighbor town on the southwest was written by Mrs. R. Baylor of Thurman and read before the Modern Idea Club of that place. We reprint it from the Thurman Times:

The naming of a town should receive as careful attention as the naming of a first born in a family of many relatives. Even with utmost consideration, names do not always turn out to be satisfactory. But they are less likely to satisfy when selected in the haphazard way so many pioneers employed. Our town, or rather, our first post office took its name from local characteristics. Just as we now say Green Hollow or Dutch Hollow so the settlers spoke of this locality as Plum Hollow and as such the post office was instituted.

Even at an early date some of the ambitious settlers, seeing a future town or city here evinced a dissatisfaction for the rural name of Plum Hollow. When the town was incorporated, in 1879, the name Fremont City was given to it. In all municipal affairs it continued to be so called for over two decades. The post office remained unchanged. It could not be changed to Fremont City because there was a similar post office in Iowa.

The Founder of Fremont City, Abraham Fletcher, came to this vicinity in 1851, and in 1856, laid the foundations of Fremont City. He built the first residence, opened the first store, was the first Postmaster and held the first school in his house. Mr. Fletcher's descendants are not associated with our club but we are related to many of the first town officials: D. F. Mc. Paul, mayor; W. R. Paul, recorder; and J. H. Cole and J. S. Jones, councilmen. Mr. Fletcher was loyal to the name Fremont City and was want to give it up. Letters so addressed would reach this destination especially if the county was added.

Name was a Joke:
What contents one generation, does not another. When the sons of the pioneers grew to manhood, they felt a little ashamed of the name Plum Hollow, and who can blame them? How would our daughters and sons in college or university feel about it? The name brings up a mental vision of a plum thicket not a thriving little town nestled at the foot of the bluffs. Besides there were numerous jokes, especially at the table, such as, "It is hard to fill him up for he is plum hollow." These jokes new to the perpetrator became pretty stale to the recipient.

Changed to Thurman:
About 1884, Dr. T. C. Cole and Mr. Ellis while attending Grand Lodge became so sensitive to the appellation that they decided to act to find a more suitable name. Application was made to the Postmaster General and the name selected was Burnell, but it was refused because there was a Burnell already in Iowa. Thurman was then selected and approved. After the post office was changed there were still two separate names, so application was made to the state legislature to change the name. The change was made, and thereafter, both post office and incorporation were legally Thurman.

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Page updated on May 10, 2017 by Karyn Techau