Charles S. Rogers & L.K. Rogers,  Publishers

Boulder Lake at Cedar Croft

Mount Pleasant News; Mount Pleasant, Henry Co, IA; Jan 10, 1947

It was with deep regret that our community read of the protest of Mrs. Olive Cole Smith against more flagrant new despoiling of that beloved private outdoor recreation center, known as Cedar Croft with its trees, shrubbery, lake and memories. How young people, young women as well as young men, could be so forgetful of property rights or so irresponsible in personal conduct is hard to understand.  

Cedar Croft, while being personal property, was and is dedicated to the youth of this community. For nearly seventy years it has been a possession of the Cole family, and during these years it has been developed and maintained with the one object of being a spot where the youth of the community could enjoy the premises to the full. Boulder Lake was created for the youth of the community. Every tree, every shrub on the place was planted and preserved for the pleasure of the youth.  

No “Keep Off” signs were ever posted at the entrances of the premises. No forbidding barricades have ever closed the paths to the rolling lawn or the waters of the lake. No one knows the money that has been spent upon the place, that the youth of the community might enjoy it. And they have enjoyed it, thousands and thousands of boys and girls, now grown, remember Coles Pond and its encircling groves as among the happiest hours of their lives.  

But every now and then the place has been despoiled by the thoughtless or the willful. How any one could start a bonfire at the base of a noble elm tree, growing on private property and dedicated to the pleasure of the youth of the town, or break off branches of the beautiful weeping willows to feed the bonfire is hard to explain. The people of Mt. Pleasant , and particularly former students of the college, will share Olive Cole Smith’s indignation. We do not know the identity of those responsible for the disgraceful act, but whoever they are they should be wholly ashamed of themselves.

Mount Pleasant News; Mount Pleasant, Henry Co, IA; Jan 21, 1947  

In going through a mass of local historical matter we happened upon the manuscript of Olive Cole Smith’s story of Boulder Lake , one of the main attractions of that private community recreation center at Cedar Croft, and stimulated by some previous remarks in our notes. Boulder Lake is an institution. It was created in 1880 or 67 years ago. The famous boulder was sunk deep in the small stream, whose waters filled the basin when dammed by the south embankment. A few years ago the old boulder was raised from the lake’s bed and placed upon a concrete base on the lawn in front of the Smith residence. It was at this time that Mrs. Smith wrote the story of Boulder Lake , or Cole’s Pond, as it is more familiarly known. Mrs. Smith’s story follows:  

Boulder Lake  

While Boulder Lake is still in the minds of a few of us, in the interest of historical accuracy we will state the reason for its being made and its early history. It was started in 1880, a small round pond, about the boulder that was found and raised to the surface. The reason for the pond was the belief, on the part of W.R. Cole that if the saloons, lately banished from Mt. Pleasant, were to be kept out, temperance sentiment must be instilled into the minds of the children of the town.  

The “Boulder Lake Club” was organized in 1881. The boys who joined the club took a pledge to refrain from the use of alcoholic beverages and tobacco. So many children wanted to join the club, it was soon evident that the pond must be enlarged to its present size. At the south end it was ten feet deep with a diving board for the older boys. The runway to the barn was planted with water lilies, which the boys soon pulled up, not caring for the beauty, preferring it as a place to wade and play in the mud.  

Three hundred boys and more than one hundred girls joined the club. A man was hired to be on guard during the hours when the children were supposed to be there. The children were a nuisance and the whole thing was an expense, but neither trouble nor expense was then considered too great, if the saloons could be kept out of Mt. Pleasant .  

W.R. Cole remembering his own delight in the Indiana Sugar Camp, bought ten acres north of the pond, planted a hundred or more sugar trees, and was having dug out a shallow pond, north of the road for the little children. He was often heard to remark, what fun the next generation of children will have making maple sugar and playing in the shallow pond.  

His joy in both projects came to a sad end in the death of Charley Schreiner, who was drowned in the deep south end of the lake where small boys were not allowed to go. Three small boys, Charley among them, could not wait until one o’clock when the man would be on guard. They came sometime after twelve. When two of them got dressed, so as to be safely away before the man came, they found Charley’s clothes, but couldn’t find him, frightened they ran to the house. , the alarm was sent out. Charley’s body was found in the diving hole. W.R. Cole looked years older when he returned from delivering the little body to his home and one time parishioners.  

The joy in the Boulder Lake Club came to an end, and the pond became what it was hen you Mr. Bystander first knew a place where children came to play. The deep hole had been filled so any ordinary child could walk safely all over the pond.  

If the present experiment is a success, if Boulder Lake is refilled, if it can again be stocked with fish, the children of the town will be welcome to skate in winter and fish in summer. If they wait until the fish are big enough and numerous enough, provided they remember they are guests on private property, and as guests respect other people’s property. They are not to damage the fences, the trees, the shrubs. The flowers must not be injured. At considerable trouble and expense, the west bank has been planted, with trees and shrubs, to make of it a thing of beauty in years to come. Smoking and drinking are as much an offense now as they ever were about Boulder Lake . Wild life as well as the growing things must be respected and cared for. The children will be welcome to enjoy the pond so long as the privilege is not abused.  

And what about the “sweet romance” you wrote about? In the so called gay nineties romance was incidental to the run we had, tramping all over Center township, seeking the shy wild flowers for our herbariums. Romance probably went with us, on those long skating trips from Oakland to Rome . When we took our picnic lunch in the overcoat pockets, unless we could persuade some who did not care for the long skate to meet us at Rome with a coffee pot and ample supper tucked under the buggy seats.  

The college had picnics, the fraternities had picnics, the sororities had picnics, we had bob sled rides with oyster suppers at the end, anything and everything was made an excuse to get the crowd together. Petting parties and blanket parties of twos were not even dreamed of in the gay nineties. They seem a cheap imitation of “sweet romance” that made school days so happy.  

Real romance at Boulder Lake is not ashamed, doth not behave itself unseemly, it offendeth not the neighbors who overlook the pasture, its followers are absorbed in the dreams of their future. It was a lovely thing in the gay nineties, it is a lovely thing now, welcome in any beautiful place, its tawdry imitations are a blot on any landscape and cannot be endured. The gay nineties have been much maligned. There is much to be said in favor of the old horse and buggy days.  

An old barn, and old house, and old eyes look back over the pasture, and pond with reverence and respect for the old standards, when the girls were so sure of their equality, they took it as a matter of course as did the boys.  

The Boulder dropped in the pasture by the glaciers so long ago, has moved up to the front yard, to be a perpetual reminder of a beautiful dream that hasn’t yet come true. A dream of this fair town, forever free from saloons, and all the demoralization, sorrow and poverty, that ever has, and even will, follow in their wake.  

The children are welcome, the students are welcome to share our joy in Cedar Croft we ask only that they do to others property what they wish others to do to theirs, and to set a high standard of the value of college life especially in character building and behavior.  

Olive Cole Smith



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