Dike


Description of Dike, Iowa

Dike, Iowa, is located in the northwest corner of Grundy County, twleve miles northeast of Grundy Center, the county seat, and eighteen miles southwest of Waterloo, on the new branch of the North-Western railway and the town is just ten years old and has a population of 286. The extended write-up of the town can be found in the history of Grant township, which appears in the historical page of this Atlas.

The town has a fine water system owned by the city, very nice school building and M. E. church and the following lines of business are represented in Dike.

Two first-class hotels, one live newspaper, a fine telephone system with several private country lines, three good general stores, a good opera house, drug store, Savings Bank, two barber shops, millinery store, meat market, two hardware stores, furniture store, jewelry store, photograph gallery, restaurant, livery barn, two implement houses, two lumber yards, two elevators, two blacksmith shops, a harness shop, two physicians, three cream stations, two dray lines, automobile garage and in fact all lines of business represented in any live town.

Dike far excels others surrounding towns as a trading point and has a much wider territory than is usually the case with towns so young and of the same size. The reason for this lies in the fact that the business men of Dike are wide awake and meet competition in every line. There are many opportunities for other business men looking for a location.

--Atlas of Grundy County, Iowa, 1911

50 Year History of the Town of Dike

Dike, Iowa, a town in northeastern Grundy county with a population of 508, will celebrate its 50th anniversary on June 5, 1950. Fifty years ago the land upon which the town of Dike is now located was considered a good farm. The soil was productive, but the farmer had to haul his grain and stock ten miles to the nearest market. Land in the vicinity was selling for $30 and $40 per acre, while within a few miles it was double that price. The lack of railroad facilities kept the country back, there being no railroad between Cedar Falls and Grundy Center, a distance of 28 miles.

A promotion company known as the Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern Railway Company surveyed through this rich country, promoters saw there was business here for the railroad and hurried its construction through from Belle Plaine to Mason City, Iowa, terminating at Fox Lake, Minn. The road was completed in the summer of 1900. New towns along the line were controlled by the Iowa-Minnesota Town Site Company, who located and laid out the sites. Thomas Chester Dike, chief engineer in charge of the construction line, was employed by the Company to supervise the locating and laying out of the new townsites, and it was also necessary for him to pick a good location for the depot, yard tracks, etc. But those directly interested in the townsite wanted a first class building spot. The site now known as Dike, chosen by the engineer, was criticized by the president of the Company because of the poor drainage.

He was desirous of a location farther west on higher ground. But the choice of Mr. Dike could not be changed, and as a despairing gesture the president of the Company declared, "All right, if the town is to be located in this mud-hole, we shall name it Dike." And so it was.

The Town-Site Company lot sale was held on June 5, 1900, and was attended by many investors and some of our present citizens. The lot upon which the bank was built, now the Iowa Savings bank, and the three corner lots opposite, each sold for $500. Many business lots were sold that day and building started immediately.

The first house in Dike was built by the Townsend & Merrill Lumber Co. of Cedar Falls in Feb. 1900 before the railroad was laid. The builder was J. P. Jepsen. The Townsend & Merrill's first stocks of lumber were hauled here from Cedar Falls and piled on this lot, which is Lot 12 Block 4, south of the present A. P. Lorenzen residence. This house was moved in 1926 and is now the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Kappelman.

There were three lumber yards in Dike in 1900, the Townsend & Merrill Co. being the first and at that time the largest completely enclosed lumber yard in the county. J. P. Jepsen was manager for ten years, then A. P. Lorenzen served as manager for 38 years, retiring in January 1949. L. D. Heaton is the present manager.

The Bryant Neeley Lumber Co. of Cedar Falls also established lumber yards of the open shed type across the street east from Townsend & Merrill in 1900. They remained in business less than a year. The stock was bought by Townsend & Merrill and the sheds sold to C. D. Vought, who converted them into a farm implement building and later into a garage when automobiles started taking the place of buggies. This is the present Theo. Gerdes Motor Co.

The Abraham Wild Lumber Co. of Cedar Falls opened sheds south of the present D-X Oil Station in 1900, which changed hands a number of times and was finally bought out by Townsend & Merrill in 1927.

Early Business Men
Other business men of Dike in early 1900 were C. P. Falk & Co., general merchandise, also first postmaster; Jim Nichols, grocer; Glasgow & Williams, druggists; C. C. Hummel, doctor and druggist; J. C. Corsaut, doctor; D. H. Hagerman, hardware; Charles Ames, meat market; E. H. Schmeltzer, tin shop; Eugene Dyer, restaurant; Jacob Gram, harness shop; N. J. Bonde and W. C. Murphy, livery stable; Nels Johnson and Herman Snittjer, taverns; Henry Keutzer, hotel; Jeff Hall, drayman; Charles Meyers and Otto Nielsen, farm implements; Everett Freeman, barber; M. A. Buchan, banker; Nels Petersen and M. Seward, contractors; Henry Olsen, manager Wild Lumber Co.; Peter Olsen, manager of Bryant Neeley Lumber Co.; Ed Madsen, station agent; R. N. Bagley, mgr. elevator; Chas. Hunt, editor of first paper.

Hans Kelsen came to Dike in 1901, started as a clerk, and by 1910 owned his own business. He is the only early day merchant still in business here.

The late P. J. Henningsen was one of the town's earlier citizens and operated the H. L. Henningsen store from 1904 until retiring in 1947. Dr. L. Boomer is the present manager still operating under the name of H. L. Henningsen and Son.

The town was infested to a great extent by gamblers and other "undesirable citizens" in those earlier days. The better class of citizens saw the misfortune that was overcoming them and as a protection petitioned to have the town incorporated. Proceedings were started Oct. 17, 1900. The petition was signed by 37 voters and presented to the District Court, presided over by Judge A. S. Blair. J. M. Glasgow was delegated to bring the petition before the court. On Oct. 31, 1900, Judge Blair appointed the following commissioners: J. M. Glasgow, C. P. Falk, J. C. Corsaut, C. C. Hummel and E. Schmeltzer, and ordered them to conduct an election at which they were to act as judges and clerks. The election was held in the Glasgow and Williams Drug Store on Dec. 8, 1900. 37 ballots were cast for and none against. The notice of election was published in the Grundy County Courier, as the Reinbeck Courier was called at that time. Charles J. Adams was the publisher and it was signed by Sherman DeWolf as notary public.

On Dec. 18, 1900, the court approved the matter of incorporation and ordered an election to be held for town officers. That was held on Jan. 3, 1901, with R. N. Bagley, mayor; Peter Olsen, clerk; Henry Olsen, C. P. Falk, J. P. Jepsen, C. C. Hummel, J. M. Glasgow, councilmen; A. J. Williams, treas; Geo. Baird, assessor. They held office until the regular election time in April, 1901, when the following were elected: R. N. Bagley, mayor; Nat Bagley, clerk; J. P. Jepsen, J. M. Glasgow, C. C. Hummel and Charley Ames, councilmen.

The new council found much work to be done and started in a zealous way to do it. Sidewalks were ordered in, to be constructed of 2-inch plank of specified widths and at specified locations. Main street was rather low and the walks were from one to two feet above the street level. This had some advantage as it was convenient for loading and unloading. It also required that the late reveler take a straight course or land in the mud, which did sometimes happen. All plans and improvements were of a permanent nature, residences to be built the same distance from the street, trees a certain distance from the curb and the town began to take on a more prosperous air.

The first street lighting system consisted of four kerosene lamps set on posts on main street, one at the corner of what is now the Dike Motor Co., one at the bank corner, one at the H. L. Henningsen store corner and one a block west from there. This system did not give much light but provided a compass point by which a person could steer from one place to the next. These lights were later replaced by a gasoline pressure system. Dike now has its own electric distribution system, purchasing electricity from an outside source and reselling to customers. The small profit is used for municipal improvements.

In those early days it was felt there was need for a town lockup, to take care of the occasional law breaker. So one was built of 2 by 4's spiked one on top of the other, similar to the construction of a grain elevator, and then covered with metal sheets. This served the town for many years and is now the garage at the Charles Posekaney residence.

The first fire fighting equipment was a hand-pump with four cylinders operated on the principle of a railroad hand car, with long handles on each side where a number of men could work. Three shallow wells provided water; one was located in the alley back of the present Tom Graves home, one back of the Ditzler Cafe and one back of the present home of Mrs. Florence Nelson. In these wells suction hose was placed and water pumped where needed. This system proved not too successful as sand was pumped into the cylinders. Luckily there were no bad fires to fight in these earlier days and in a few years bonds were issued for a water system. The water supply coming from a deep well and water mains were laid along the principal streets so that every house in town could be reached by the fire hose. At present the town has two fire trucks and is well equipped to give prompt and efficient service both in town and country.

There have been several newspapers in Dike, the first was edited by C. E. Hunt and was called the Dike Gazette. The last editor was Herbert Buth who left Dike when called to service in World War II, in 1943. There has been no newspaper edited in Dike since.

Before the church was built in Dike services were held in the Townsend and Merrill Lumber Co. office. The Methodist church, the only church in Dike, was started the latter part of 1900 and completed the first part of 1901. R. A. Gage of New Hartford was the contractor and he is now living in Cedar Falls.

Carl A. Feit was the first regular minister and served from 1901 to 1903. He was later a missionary to China. Our present pastor is Rev. M. T. Baskerville of New Hartford, and has charges both here and at the Methodist church in New Hartford.

The one room country school in Grant Twp., District No. 3, the township in which Dike is located, served as the town's first school house. The building was moved from its location south of town, on ground that is now the city dump, to a block in town purchased for that purpose. This building was used for a year or two, when a four room, two story frame building was constructed on the same ground. The first teachers in this new building were M. G. Danskin, who is now a doctor in Glendive, Montana, and Miss Clara Johnson, a sister of the late P. J. Johnson, stock buyer in Dike.

Our present Consolidated school is the successor to the four room school, and was built in 1918 at a cost of $75,000. A special election was called for May 15, 1950, to vote on bonds not in excess of $195,000 for the construction of an addition to the present school. Richard Schuchert is the superintendent.

The first celebration was held in Dike in 1901 with a parade of floats by all the business places. The parade formed south of the tracks, proceeded to the Henningsen Store corner and turned a block west and back to the starting point. Elaborate preparations had been made. A large pan was made by Ed Schmeltzer who was a tinner and in it was laid a whole steer to be roasted. Paul DeMurray, a butcher employed at the Jim Nichols store, was the chef and did a beautiful job of roasting, but the weather was hot and flies got to the meat first. This was before the days of DDT. The flies enjoyed the meat but the crowd was disappointed.

The first child born in Dike was Roy Ames, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charley Ames. Roy Ames now lives at Lincoln.

The first burial in the Dike cemetery was Luella Mae Nichols, small daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Nichols, who was accidentally drowned in the creek south of town, on July 5, 1902. The flood waters of July 2, 1902, washed out over one hundred bridges in Grundy county and left Dike cut off from the south for some time. Farmers tied their teams a half mile out of town and crossed the creek on temporary foot bridges which the town provided.

Samuel Elrod, the first section foreman here, is the only soldier of the Civil War buried in the Dike cemetery.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 25 May 1950, Dike Golden Jubilee Section of the Grundy Register


History of Chester Dike

Chester T. Dike, for whom the town of Dike was named, was born August 13, 1870. He will be 80 years old in August of this year. His residence is now in Mason City, Iowa.

He is a graduate of the Mason City high school and Grinnell College, having received his Master's Degree in Civil Engineering at Grinnell.

After his graduation at Grinnell, he taught school for a short time, and then became the first City Engineer at Mason City. A short time later he became Chief Engineer for the Mason City and Clear Lake Railroad and built that line.

After constructing this railroad line, he became Chief Engineer for a promotional company for a line from Belle Plaine to Fox Lake. This was sold to the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company, and Mr. Dike built that line as Chief Engineer. This is when he became connected with the C&NW Railway Company and served in various capacities, finally being appointed Vice-President in charge of Maintenance, a position that he held until September 1, 1940, when he retired after serving 43 years with the company.

Mr. Dike was an outstanding Civil Engineer in this county and was listed in the book, "Who's Who."

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 25 May 1950, Dike Golden Jubilee Section of the Grundy Register


Recollections of the Town of Dike

By Hans Kelsen

In 1899 the Chicago Northwestern Railway Co. began the building of a branch line from Belle Plaine to Mason City. Most of the new townsites were acquired by the "Iowa and Minnesota Townsite Co." with headquarters in Mason City. The town of Dike was laid out and platted in 1900, and on June 5, 1900, the lot sale took place. Practically all lines of business were established right after the lot sale.

October 17, 1900, the first petition to incorporate the town was presented to the District Court of Iowa in and for Grundy county. M. A. Buchan was clerk of the district court at that time. On Jan. 16, 1901, the Town of Dike was officially adjudged incorporated. The first elected mayor was R. N. Bagley.

My first recollection of Dike was in the summer of 1900. After the lots were sold, Dike was on the map. Buildings were going up all over town. I was working in New Hartford that year, and a friend and I drove over to see what a new town looked like one Sunday afternoon. The town had a regular carnival appearance. A merry-go-round was operating on the site where P. J. Henningsens and Ted Gerdes' now live. A baseball game was going on in the pasture east of that block, and the town was full of people looking the town over. I particularly remember the Bank building had the basement finished and the basement was full of water. In October, 1901, I hired out to Leibsohn Bros. as clerk in their general store. Ever since the first day I came here I have been actively interested in the growth and welfare of Dike.

The first religious service in Dike was held the summer of 1900 in the Ttownsend & Merrill Lumber yard driveway, conducted by Rev. Hayward, Methodist minister at that time in New Hartford. The Methodist church in Dike was built in 1901 and dedicated in the fall of that year, and the first minister I remember is Rev. Carl Felt.

The first invitation I had to take an active part in Dike doings came the second week I was here. I was invited to come to Band Practice. Oh, yes, Dike had a band started and we have had a band here ever since.

In the spring of 1902 I was appointed Town Clerk and served in that capacity 1902-03-04. In 1902 two men from New Hartford, W. Bowen and John Sprague, formed a telephone company and built a telephone line from New Hartford to Dike. Business phones $1.00 a month.

In 1902 the Council built a drainage ditch right down Main street through Mrs. Sherwin's farm to the creek. Councilman J. S. Porter supervised the construction. There were a lot of interesting propositions and discussions during those first years. The council meetings were held in the Wild Lumber Co.'s office. The first fire apparatus was bought; an outfit that it took not less than 8 men to pump. Three shallow wells were dug to furnish water for this machine. The Council bought a gravel pit south of town and the streets were graveled. In 1902 the Council bought the plot for the cemetery. The first burial was of the adopted daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Nichols. The little girl was drowned under the railroad bridge west of town. In 1907-08-09 I was elected assessor of Dike.

Wooden sidewalks were being replaced with permanent cement walks; cement street crossings were put in. A waterworks system consisting of a deep well, a water tower and water mains was installed. An electric light system was bought by the town, but did not prove very satisfactory and we finally hooked up with the Iowa Electric Light & Power Co., Cedar Rapids, from where we still get our electricity.

In the meantime, in 1905 to be exact, I had married Miss Emma J. Tobias, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. D. M. Tobias, and in 1910 Mr. Tobias sold me his general store here. It was been quite an experience in the last 40 years.

In those days whenever something came up that should be discussed by all the business men, whoever thought of it would see as many as he could to get their opinoin. In 1911 something came up that needed that kind of attention, and I went to the lumber yard to talk it over with Anton P. Lorenzen. I suggested that we ought to have a Commercial Club in Dike. We called a meeting and the Dike Commercial Club was organized and it has been in existence ever since. It has taken a very active part in the development of the town.

In 1915 I was elected school director and right away I was made president of the school board. The Independent School District of Dike had been established right after the town was incorporated. A block of ground had been bought on the northeast corner of Main street. The first schoolhouse was moved in from the south part of the incorporation. As the population grew, a two-story 4-room schoolhouse with basement had been built on this site.

In 1916 consolidation of schools was getting a good start in Iowa. We had a very strong advocate for consolidation on the school board. C. D. Vought and the rest of the Board being in favor, we called a mass meeting in the opera house. We had an outside speaker and after the meeting got up a petition calling an election. The proposition lost at the first election. Being sure that we knew where the opposition was that beat us, we tried again, leaving this district out, and the proposition carried.

In 1917-18 we built the present schoolhouse. There were 24 sections in the original consolidated district. Sept. 16, 1919, the new school house was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies. I was president of the Dike school board until 1928.

In 1923 I was elected mayor of Dike. I only served one term, but in that time we bought ground for the Dike Park. We had it platted and trees planted Mr. Westphal, Cedar Falls. The park today is one of the beauty spots in town and in the summer time is used for more picnics than many larger parks.

We also employed a regular custodian of the cemetery, put up a permanent fence around the cemetery, and named it Elmwood. The work on the cemetery was supervised by J. H. McKinder.

We also turned down a proposition by the Iowa Electric Power & Light Co. to sell them our electric lines in Dike which has saved the town many, many dollars in taxes.

In the early years of Dike there were many things very interesting. We had a very good Tennis Club. The first tennis court was located where P. J. Henningsen's, Ted Gerdes' and Mrs. Mary Larsen's houses now stand. It was a dirt court which we built ourselves and financed ourselves. We had many enjoyable games. Quite a few members, too, the most active being H. J. Knudsen, J. H. McKinder, W. N. Moffett, B. J. Ersland, P. J. Henningsen and Hans Kelsen.

We had a wonderful choir in the Methodist church consisting of Mrs. Fred Billman, director and pianist; Mrs. Frank Capper, soprano; Mrs. J. C. Corsaut, contralto; Mrs. Ed Dreber, alto; Mrs. Wes Strayer, bass; Mr. Jeppe Schultz and Mr. Jim Nichols, bass; and Hans Kelsen, tenor.

Our Band, as stated before, began the first year the town did. We never had but one paid director, until the band work was turned over to the school. Otherwise, it was Jeppe Schultz. W. R. Reisinger and Hans Kelsen did the directing, besides playing.

There is one incident comes to mind about the Band. In 1923 we had a very good band. Cedar Falls hired us to come over and play for a special Day they were putting on. We went over and made such a hit that we got special writeups in the Cedar Falls paper and also in the Waterloo Tribune. We had two ladies playing in our band at that time, Miss Lizzie Deadrick played trombone and Mrs. C. A. Morris played clarinet. Both papers remarked about how unusual it was to see ladies play in a band and how proudly they marched along with the male members of the band. You might say that the Dike band started the girls playing in bands. Nowadays there are more girls in bands than boys.

Well, after 50 years Dike is still a very good town in which to live, in which to do business, and in which to educate and bring up your children.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 25 May 1950, Dike Golden Jubilee Section of the Grundy Register


Dike Plant Completely Processes Crop

The 300? members of the Farmers Cooperative Co. here have proved that people do not have to allow blind economic forces to throw them around. Not when they work together.

Farmers in the Dike community showed that without a shadow of a doubt when they went into the soybean processing business in 1943.

Farmers here do considerable livestock feeding. During the war they were having a hard time to get soybean oil meal to mix with their grain in the feedlots.

Early in the war most Iowa soybean mills fell into the hands of the big feed mixers. These feed mixers naturally preferred to use the meal processed from the beans in their own brands of commercially mixed feeds rather than sell to farmers as meal. Farmers could buy the mixed feeds but not the meal. And many of them preferred to feed the meal with their own grain to selling their grain, then buying it back from feed mixers at a fancy price.

A number of Iowa farmers elevators investigated the idea of building their own processing plants. The plan seemed sound. So Dike and six other elevators began building bean mills in 1942 and 1943.

The Dike plant, a two-expler outfit, was completed in 1943. In erecting this plant the farmers in the Dike community acquired complete control over the soybeans they raise--from combine to processing plant to feedlot. Because of their ownership of the bean mill they now have a free choice--they can either feed their protein concentrate straight, or as part of a commercially mixed feed.

Last year the mill processed 400,000 bushels of soybeans. The meal goes into the co-op's line of Felco feeds, and is also sold as Felco soybean oil meal.

Last year the Farmers Cooperative Co.'s gross sales were in excess of 2 million dollars from its whole operations. The elevator also does a big cash grain and feed business.

In 1946 the co-op erected a huge concrete storage elevator, so that it now has a capacity of 310,000 bushels of soybeans and grain. This is one of the largest storage bins of a country elevator in the Midwest.

The elevator looms high above the town of Dike and can be seen for miles in all directions. It has become a landmark of no mean proportions in this town of 500--a real monument to farmer enterprise.

The elevator handles farm seeds fertilizer and fencing. (Coal is handled at Dike by an independent lumber yard.)

The Dike cooperative started out very modestly, as do many of our soundest enterprises. It began as a cow testing association. Geo. W. Boysen was president, Jens G. Thuesen the secretary of the association.

The cow test association began buying feeds in carlots cooperatively for its members. They saved money on the transaction. Members felt they should have a place of business and a complete organization if they were to buy cooperatively. So they called a meeting and elected a temporary board during the winter of 1917. The Farmers Elevator Cooperative was incorporated in June.

There were 2 independent elevators at the time at Dike, which was quite a cash grain center. The now co-op bought the elevator belonging to George Billman. Billman went to work for the co-op as its first manager.

First Board
The first board of directors of the cooperative was: Thuesen, Cedar Falls; H. A. Steffen, vice president, Dike; F. H. Crouse, secretary, Dike; James K. Murphy, of Reinbeck; John Dieken, Grundy Center; and Jacob Jensen, Cedar Falls.

Thuesen served as president for 23 years until he retired from the board in 1941. Jens Thuesen was succeeded as president by James Petersen. He was also a member of the board of directors of the Farmers Grain Dealers Association of Iowa for 11 years.

A few years after the co-op started the independent grain and lumber company offered to sell its elevator to the cooperative at a low price. The co-op did not buy--the farmers felt that a little competition might be a good idea. So there was competition in the grain and feed business at Dike until the competitive elevator burned to the ground a few years later. It was never rebuilt. The Farmers Elevator also burned, in 1937, to be rebuilt immediately.

Billman was manager of the co-operative until 1926. He was succeeded by Martin Martinusen, who was manager until 1937, to be followed by Peter Greenfield.

In the fall of 1938, Greenfield was succeeded by Gregory, who had been assistant manager of the farmers elevator at Ralston.

The present board includes Heye Dieken, Grundy Center, president; C. W. Jensen, vice-president, Parkersburg; Edward Sherwood, secretary, Cedar Falls; Ray Huntley, Cedar Falls; Albert Lauterbach, Dike; and Elmer Dieken, Grundy Center.

Jensen has been a member of the board for about 20 years.

The soybean oil that is a by-product of the processing operations is sold to refiners; and appears later on grocers shelves as vegetable shortening and margarine. Since the war soybean oil is also being used in such products as linoleums and paints, including the Co-Op-Co brand of paints handled by Cooperative Service Co.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 25 May 1950, Dike Golden Jubilee Section of the Grundy Register


Dike Fire Department Has Fine Record

By John Volberding

The fire records of the town will show that the citizens have always been served with a very efficient fire dept. In all its history Dike has only had four total losses. One was the old livery barn, a type of fire that is seldom put out by the larger departments, another was the Pipher cottage, which was a mass of flames before the fire company was called. The last two were elevator fires, which again are fires that are seldom extinguished by the larger departments.

In the past 12 years the volunteer company has answered 89 calls, plus a number of calls where the fire was out on arrival, also a few false alarms.

Some of the outstanding fires the company has worked--
H. J. Knudsen, harness oiling shop
Theo. Koch, house
Struntze farm, house
Roadman farm, house
Joe Stumberg, hoghouse
Vought Sisters, house
L. W. Schaller, locker
Jake Alberts, apt. house

While there may be a number of weaknesses in the Dike Volunteer Fire Dept., you will always find the volunteer ready for duty, day or night, and always willing to gamble with his own life to save that of another.

Facts And Figures Taken From Our Files, 1920--
In view of the facts that the fire department has been criticized at different times for taking out the fire truck for the purpose of seeing that everything is in good running order, we herewith submit some facts and figures.

It is a matter of record that, with the exception of $100 donated by the town, the present Town Hall and Fire Station was built and paid for by the Fire Dept., bill amounting to $959.65 being allowed at its Sept. 14, 1915, meeting for this purpose. It is also a matter of record that not having the ready cash the members signed a note for the greater part of this, thereby laying themselves personally liable for this amount. It takes a public spirited citizen to do this, not a critic. It is also a matter of record that they paid off the note, paid the interest, paid the upkeep and repairs on the building, and paid the premium on the $800.00 insurance policy up until Dec. 8, 1921, when, with the above-mentioned donation of $100.44 the balance of the note was paid off and the building was presented to the town with no cost to the taxpayers except as above notes. By this thing alone the Fire Dept. donated to the citizens of Dike $859.21.

But this is not all. The fire truck and equipment, not including the hose and chemical tanks, cost $879.09. Of this amount the town paid $315, private donations $20, and the Fire Dept. paid $544.09. Here again the department did not have all the cash, and the members signed a note for the difference. This note with interest has been paid.

And more, the records show that sundry items such as rubber coats, mittens, interest and insurance amounting to $172.82 have been paid for out of the Fire Dept. funds at no cost to the taxpayers.

And again, the records show that the Dept. donated $100.00 towards the purchase of the fire alarm siren.

There is still more. The Fire Dept. has agreed to donate to the proposed Memorial Building $500. It has the greater amount of this raised. The above items are by no means all, but they alone amount to $2176.12 which by right should have been paid by the taxpayer, but which was saved for them by the Fire Dept.

This money has been raised in years past through annual balls, barn dances and street carnivals. The members are also allowed $1 per member for every fire they attend. This amount for some time has been left in the treasury.

In conclusion, the criticism has been made that the members are not taxpayers and in taking out the truck they are carelessly wasting the taxpayers money. The few drives that have been made have not exceeded a mile in length and would not consume to exceed one pint of gasoline per drive at a cost of 2 or 3 cents. The facts are that a check-up of the members will show that of the 14 members 10 are either home owners or have a business on which taxes are paid, or both.

Taken From Minute Book
Dec. 1910--Committee to hang ladders report same in place on the south side of Drugstore.

Feb. 1911--Members present: Chief W. G. Strayer, P. J. Henningsen, Hans Kelsen, C. D. Vought, A. Liebsohn, C. E. Thomas, John McKinder, J. C. Corsaut, A. C. Reisinger, W. H. Philpot, W. L. Jensen and J. H. Knudsen.

Nov. 1913--Special meeting called for the purpose of building an addition to the power building, to be erected on city lot No. 26 State St. Block 9 for the hose cart; that each individual take up one-twelfth of the cost of the additional cost of the hose cart room.

April 1, 1915--Fire alarm, 3 a.m. False alarm. April Fool.

Jan. 1916--Chief put $800.00 insurance on fire station for three years.

Feb. 1918--Committee of three be appointed to get an electric horn for the department to take place of bell. Committee--Vought, Liebsohn, Jepsen.

Jan. 1919--Fire Dept. called to fire at Dike Livery Barn at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25, 1919. Members present--Vought, McKinder, Knudsen, Volberding, Lorenzen, Juel, Lynn, Myers, Weltz, Paulson and Grimm.

March 1923--Whoever hitches to chemical or hose carts taken to any fire to receive $1.00.

Nov. 7, 1923--Members present at Townsend & Merrill lumberyard fire: H. F. Volberding, H. J. Knudsen, P. J. Peck, W. R. Gray, H. P. Grimm, A. P. Lorenzen, P. J. Henningsen, P. M. Paulsen, E. W. Dille, Harry Lecbe, Will Lynn, Louis Jensen, Art Wood, Leslie McKinder, G. J. Juel, C. H. Stevens.

Oct. 1924--Committee of three to buy a used truck, not to exceed $250.00. Committee: Louis Jensen, B. J. Peck, Dave Lynn

June 1929--That the treasurer be instructed to turn over the $500.00 that the Fire Dept. pledge themselves to pay to the memorial building fund.

Nov. 1933--M. Klemuk donated a windshield for services rendered (on ice wagon).

June 1938--Members have served their ten year term as firemen and have been given their certificate: E. K. Andersen, Sig Stage, Herman Nielsen.

March 1941--That fire dept. invite all members of the Dike Fire Association, ex-firemen, mayor, councilmen and their wives to a social gathering.

Nov. 12, 1942--The firemen answered an alarm--a fire in the basement of Geo. Duisman residence. The "Chief's" pants were going up in smoke.

Oct. 1948--To order a floodlight for skating pond. Light to cost $25 or $30.

Oct. 1949--To hire Russell Nielsen to paint fire station.

Fire has always been a fear in the lives of man. Early records show that all citizens would turn out with much zest and determination to fight the common demon, fire. Upon hearing the cry "fire," all male citizens would report to the scene of action with a bucket, ready to quench the thirsty flames with water from the well nearest at hand. It was this type of fire fighting that protected the property of the citizens of Dike the first years after the town started.

In 1903 the merchants of the town realized that a more adequate system was needed for fighting fires. After a few meetings were held, the Dike Volunteer Fire Dept. was organized. A constitution and by-laws were drawn up. Each of its 12 members was a volunteer. He would sign up for service for one year. All officers were elected by ballot, members of the dept. being the only ones to vote. This list was then turned over to the town council for their approval.

With the organization of the Dike Vol. Fire Dept. the town's first fire engine was purchased. This was no more than a hand-operated pump on four wheels, propelled from place to place by manpower. The water supply for this pump was taken from shallow wells, located in the most built up area of the town. One well was located in the alley 150 feet west of Second St., between Cedar and North. Another was in alley 150 feet north of State between Second St. and Main St. The third was located in alley 150 feet south of Second St. between Main St. and Fourth St.

This place of equipment saved a lot of property from destruction by fire. At times if the pump was operated faster than the flow of water into the well, it would pick up sand. This always meant extra work for the pump operators and wasn't encountered too many times.

The year 1906 a city-owned water system was installed, complete with elevated tower, water mains and nine fire hydrants.

This gave the Fire Boys a big boost in extending better service in fire protection. The old hand-pump was abandoned, more hose and a hose cart was bought. Now all property had equal protection, plenty of water at all times, all over town. A second hose cart and hose was bought in 1913.

The V. F. Dept. was well satisfied with this set-up until chemical was introduced for fighting fires. A demonstration was put on one evening to show how a small amount of soda and acid, added to water, would build up a pressure and with a small amount of this mixture, would put out a fairly large fire. So in 1921 chemical tanks were added to the line of equipment. This consisted of two 30-gallon tanks, a small hose basket and 150 feet of 3/4-inch hose. All was mounted on a two-wheeled cart propelled to the fire by manpower.

The fire company, always alert to the fact that speed counted in answering an alarm, bought their first truck in 1924, on which they mounted the two chemical tanks, 3/4-inch hose and also several hundred feet of 2 1/2 inch hose. Now the company was ready to answer all calls in town as well as in the country in record time. One year later a new truck was bought by the fire company, on which they mounted all the old equipment, except the hose basket; this was replaced with a hose reel. Valves and hose fittings were also installed so the tanks could be refilled direct from a 2 1/2-inch hose line.

Again in 1938 the citizens realized that a more modern piece of fire fighting equipment was needed. With the co-operation of the landlords and farmers, the Dike Fire Association was formed. Money raised by the association was used in buying a new truck, complete with booster tank and a 450-gal. pump. All members of the association were to receive free fire protection for the life of the truck. The town agreed to man, house and keep truck in running order at all times. All calls made to non-members of the association are to pay fee of $50.00. With the forming of this association, the fire loss in and around Dike has been kept to a very low minimum.

At the present time the Dike Volunteer Fire Dept. is composed of 15 members, all volunteers, and two trucks equipped to combat fire. Fire protection is rendered in the rural community as well as in town.

The present membership of the Dept. includes: John Volberding, Chief; Harry Timmer, Asst. Chief; Willis Lynn, secy. and treas.; and Gerald Bruns, Ted Gerdes, O. J. Olsen, Vernie Cox, Geo. Tonnesen, Wally Smith, Gene Cathcart, Thomas Johnson Jr., Jack Heritage, Geo. Duisman, Ed Hansen and Gale Gast.

The Dept. is governed by a Constitution and by-laws and meets regularly once each month to conduct business and for discussions on Fire Prevention and Fire Protection. Dept. members sign up for one year's service, April of one year to April of the next year, with the approval of the Town Council. All Dept. officers are elected by the members each year.

Each member is assigned, by the Chief, to his own position, but each is capable of filling a position left unfilled by a missing member when on fire call. It is also the duty of the members to inspect hose and other equipment, to check operating condition of trucks and pumps, making adjustments and replacements wherever and whenever necessary. After each fire call, truck and equipment is cleaned and checked so that it is always in readiness for another call.

The equipment consists of two trucks. A 1938 Chevrolet 1 1/2-ton truck, equipped with a 400 gal. per minute midship mounted pump. 200 gallon water tank kept filled so that an immediate supply of water is avialable where water facilities are inadequate or inconvenient. A mounted hose reel with 150 ft. of 1-in. booster hose used for small fires and where water supply is limited. 750 ft. of 2 1/2" hose and 300 ft. of 1 1/2" hose is carried for use where water supply is adequate and larger streams of water are needed. Several nozzles are ready for different types and sizes of fire streams needed, depending on the fire and water conditions. 30ft. of large suction hose used for drafting water from creeks, supply tanks or cisterns in fighting farm fires. Necessary ladders, small extinguishers, tools and other equipment is carried for use in fighting both town and rural fires.

An older truck equipped with two 30-gallon chemical tanks, mounted hose reel with 150 ft. of 3/4" chemical hose, 600 ft. of 2 1/2" hose, 150 ft. of 1 1/2" hose, nozzles, ladders and other tools and equipment is used for town protection also.

Members of the Dike Volunteer Fire Dept. have proven themselves efficient and alert when called to duty.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 25 May 1950, Dike Golden Jubilee Section of the Grundy Register


Three Dike Merchants Have Been In Business Long Time

The oldest business places whose owners are still actively engaged in their business are Hans Kelsen, W. R. Gray and Thorvald Petersen.

Hans Kelsen was present when the town lots were sold in June, 1900. He started working for Philip Leibsohn general merchandise store in 1901. A few years later he was in his own business and one of the leading merchants. He has been identified with the progressive action of the community continuously since, serving on the town council, president of the school board for 13 years, mayor, town clerk, president of the commercial club on several occasions, member of the town band and its leader for a number of seasons.

W. R. Gray, druggist, came to Dike March 17, 1916, and for a couple of years worked at the Harland Wood drug store. In 1918 he and L. A. Wood formed a partnership and bought out the Dr. J. C. Corsaut drugstore. Mr. Gray took over the entire business at the death of Mr. Wood in 1940. He has served on the town council and is active in community affairs.

Thorvald Petersen came here from Indiana in 1916 and bought the former Theodore Juhl blacksmith shop, which he is still conducting.

Anton Lorenzen, another early day business man who is still living in Dike, watched the town spring from the prairie to the thriving town it now is. He was employed by the Townsend and Merrill Lumber Co. as second man in the yard in 1901 to 1904, then was transferred to another yard, but returned in 1910 as manager of the company here. He held that position until retiring in 1948. He still gives Dike his active interest in civic and community affairs. He served on the town council a number of years, at present its treasurer, past president of the commercial club, was active in county war bond drives, and member of various committees handling Red Cross, and was for a number of years a member of the town band.

The name Henningsen cannot be omitted from this brief history, for that name has been associated with the town from its beginning to the present time. The "Company" of the C. P. Falk & Company, was H. L. Henningsen back in 1900, then a farmer living northeast of Dike. His son P. J. Henningsen was a clerk in the Falk store and as has been related many times, sold the first $1.00 worth of sugar sold in Dike. The new store had no scales at the time and the sugar was simply lumped off. The Henningsens bought out the Falk interest in 1904 and in 1922 P. J. Henningsen took over the business which he operated until retiring in 1947. And the Briardale store on the corner still is called H. L. Henningsen & Son store, altho the new owner is D. L. Boomer. P. J. Henningsen died in 1948.

C. P. Falk was also the first postmaster in Dike, having the office in his store from 1900 to 1904. His successors were R. N. Bagley from 1904 to 1906; E. B. Rouse 1906 to 1910; Mrs. Helena Falk from 1910-1914; Nat Bagley 1914 to 1918; Mrs. Rose Bagley 1918 to 1921; Harvey Stella 1921 to 1923; Adam F. Deadrick 1923 to 1936; Herman F. Volberding 1936 to the present time.

The Ditzler Cafe was started in Dike in 1922. Mrs. Ditzler's parents were early day residents of Dike, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Hoffman, who managed the Dike Hotel for many years, and Mrs. Hoffman also operated a millinery store in the earlier days of the town.

H. J. Knudsen came to Dike from Hudson in 1902 and opened a harness shop, which he operated until his death in 1947. His son Lyman then took over the business and now has a shoe shop in the building.

Another early day business man whose place has been taken over by his son is the Ole Tonnesen Blacksmith Shop. His shop was started in 1910 and at his death in 1948 George Tonnesen stepped in to carry on the business.

There has been a McKinder Barber Shop in town continuously since the town started, although not the same person. John McKinder opened a shop here in 1901 and at his death in 1936 was succeeded by his son, Ralph McKinder, and in 1941 he sold out to his uncle, C. H. McKinder, who is the present operator.

The oldest resident in Dike is Mrs. Jens Lehman, who will be 94 in July. She moved to Dike in 1920, but lived in the vicinity many years previous.

Many improvements have come with the progress of the town in the fifty years of its existence. The town maintains a public park with playground equipment, swimming pool, ice skating rink in winter. Consolidated school with an enrollment of 340. Dial telephone system installed in 1937, main street of town is paved, all other streets were blacktopped in 1948, turbine pump with capacity of 130 gal. per minute installed in 1941, water softener and purifier system in 1945. Two star routes serve the town three times daily, railroad freight service, truck line service.

Sixteen new houses have been built in the last five years, three houses moved in and remodeled, new implement building with two modern apartments above, new feed store, large addition to Farmers Cooperative Co. and soybean plant.

The American Legion sponsors a Boy Scout troop and the W.S.C.S. of the Methodist church a Cub Scout troop. The town has a baseball team, active lodges, moving pictures. In fact, Dike provides all the service that its trade area needs.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 25 May 1950, Dike Golden Jubilee Section of the Grundy Register


Other histories of the Dike area:
School
American Legion
American Legion Auxiliary
Rebekahs
Methodist church
Fredsville church