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Stone Work at the State Hospital – Melcher Brothers

“Mt. Pleasant News”, Saturday, September 12, 1936, Page 2

Bystander’s Notes

Here are some interesting facts regarding the construction of the main section of the Mt. Pleasant State hospital, and which was recently destroyed by fire. The quarry referred to as northeast of town was opened up on the north side of Big Creek, between the bridge on 161 and the bridge of the road half a mile east and adjacent to the Willits farm. Passing along the latter road, one can see the old excavations, from which were taken the stone for the hospital.

The letter below is from Mr. Carl Melcher, advertising manager of the Council Bluffs Nonpareil, and well known in this community. He writes:

We have been quite interested in your comments concerning the construction of the so-called main building of the State Hospital for the Insane, which recently was destroyed by fire. I recently visited with my father, Henry Melcher, who now lives in Bloomfield, and he gave me some interesting information, which is doubtless correct.

My grandfather, Peter Melcher and his brother Justine [Sic: Justin], secured the contract for the stone work on the new building about 1852. The contract called for quarrying the stone, hauling it to the site of the building and cutting it to comply with the plans. The quarry from which to stone came was located north of Mt. Pleasant on Big Creek just east of the bridge on what we called Scott’s Lane when I was a youngster in Henry County.

About twenty stone cutters were employed on the job. Among them were Chas. Kellogg, August Wick, John Rukgaber, John Winters, John Eyer [or Eirer], a man by the name of Hebner, who later moved to Washington, Iowa, and others by the name of Rowley, Smith and Martin. Mike Simmons was the quarry boss. Two of the teamsters were Barney Keegan and Henry Schliefer.

Also stone from this quarry was furnished by the same two men, Peter and Justine [sic: Justin] Melcher, for “Old Main” at the college, the Brazelton House and the Union Block. Later my grandfather branched off into the monument business and the brother continued in the cut stone contracting.

This information may or may not be of value to you, but I believe it is fairly accurate.

Very truly yours, Karl Melcher

Transcribed and contributed by Pat White, March 2018

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