ANNALS OF IOWA
By Charles Keyes*
Transcribed by Debbie Clough Gerischer
ORGANIZATION OF THE HISTORICAL DEPARTMENT OF IOWA
Biennially for ten years,
in the interest of better government, a legislative committee
has sent to the curator of the Historical Department, and
presumably to the head of every other department of state
government, a list of questions of which the following is a
Name of office or
Under what law do you
Under what department head?
Duties of office or
department and functions?
Number of employees?
Salaries of employees?
Is help adequate?
Can it be reduced?
Office space occupied?
Is it adequate?
Is office equipment
Does any of your work
overlap that of any other department?
In your opinion can your
office or department be combined with any other at a saving to
the state and without lessening efficiency?
In anticipation of these
inquiries the curator of the Historical Department has
biennially taken up their import with the trustees of the
department. He has answered the questions with their approval
and to the best of his ability, and, following legislative
direction, under the trustees and with their approval, has
then mapped out his program for the ensuing two years.
The curator has usually
reduced to writing and diagrammatic form the working
organization, not as a rule or law, but as a guide. The
diagram has been so arranged that all the working departments
can be separately seen. Either of these could be "lifted"
from this institution and set over to some other, or set off
to itself. But so setting over or setting off would, in the
opinion of the present curator, tend away from and not toward,
economy, efficiency and the aims of the institution.
Accomplishments of the
Historical Department result from co-operative thought and
effort of the curator and his board of trustees; of the
curator and his subordinates; of the support and co-operation
of the legislative branch of the government through
appropriations; and of interested, loyal citizens who are
devoted to the educational, historical and aesthetic things
the department stands for.
Among the functions of the
Historical Department is that of fixing in popular thought the
achievements of the men and women who so well laid the
foundations of our state, and of those who offered themselves
in defense of the Union, and of humanity in the more recent
wars. Carried out through historical, memorial and art
activities made or directed by the office of the curator, this
has led to the priceless collections now reposing, but for
want of room only partially displayed, in the building. They
illustrate by object lesson more vividly to young and old, to
educated and uneducated, than could be done in any other way,
the struggles through which the people have emerged from
simple and crude conditions to the more complex and modern
society of today. They also illustrate in the same vivid way,
so far as may be done, the heroic acts of our soldiers in our
different wars. Other exhibits give the student a glimpse of
geological ages of the earth and of the prehistoric times of
man. Indian life and history are exhibited, and wild animals
and birds, many species of which have disappeared, are shown
by mounted specimens. Nearly every object striking the eye of
curious youth or aged person, as he passes through our great
collections, has come to the department without cost to the
state, and this, we believe, would not be without the
supervision of so eminent a board of trustees who are the
governor, secretary of state, the state superintendent of
public instruction and the chief justice and the entire
membership of the Supreme Court, and the tact and skill, great
or small, of the curator, assisted of course, by the public
spirit and patriotism of so many private citizens.
We may mention among the
treasures the great collection of autographs and personal
letters of many Iowa leaders, the historical and genealogical
library, the unrivaled collection of paintings chiefly of
distinguished Iowa men and women, and the public archives
division, where over five million documents are methodically
filed and indexed, while some three million in storage await
case, room and handling, making so rich a field for historical
research, and the thousands of volumes of Iowa newspapers,
abounding in local, state and national history-all accessible
to the public three hundred and sixty-five days in the year,
and no less.
The policy of acquisition
through the free gift of the people to such a large degree,
encouraged through historical department management, is a
factor but little known, never inventoried nor appraised, but
highly valuable, and which the legislature and the public
might properly take into account. Donors, especially when
childless, as they approach the place where they consider
joining "the great caravan," often leave the most priceless
objects with the Historical Department when sympathetically
shown the certainty that otherwise their treasures are bound
to pass into mercenary channels.
The General Assembly
properly asks, "Does any of your work overlap that of any
other department?" If by this is meant the doing of the same
work by a person in our department and person in a different
department, the answer is, no. If it is whether a person in
our department does his work in the way that the same type of
work is done in a different department, then it must be said
that our library handles local history, that is, the histories
of our counties, towns, families, etc., the way the general
reference division of our great state library handles general
history, but the two workers do not come into the same field
nor deal with the same persons. Whether this is overlapping
or not, it illustrates that frictionless contact, not
wasteful, not inarticulate, nor loose-jointed. It is the
harmonious arrangement, avoiding friction and waste of every
kind, particularly that of disjointed or open jointed
The Historical Department
materially differs from the usual administrative department in
that its purposes are in no sense mercenary or economic; it is
educational and cultural and cannot properly be reduced from
that classification; it is in the field with schools, churches
and hospitals-operated not for gain, and not alone by levies
against the tax payer, It is for the care of our traditions
and our history, and for the guidance and inspiration of our
own and future generations. It subsists to a great degree
Our entire supervisory
board serves without pay, its head serves for $3,000.00 a year
as curator, and without additional pay serves a member and
secretary of the Board of Conservation, establishing state
The activities of the
department cannot be added to any other not can its functions
be distributed at a saving of money, nor without great loss of
OF THE MINUTES OF THE STATE BOARD OF
Reports by the Chairman-That progress is
being made on arrangements for the dedication of Backbone Park
in Delaware County; that gentlemen from Emmettsburg desire a
conference with the Executive Council and this Board
concerning Medium Lake; that citizens have appointed
committees to further the project of securing park land
bordering on Twin Lakes, Calhoun County.
Area Visited-The Board, in company with a
committee of Fairfield gentlemen visited the proposed park
near Fairfield known as the Chautauqua grounds and made note
of its advantages and desirability.
Inspecting Tours-The secretary was directed
to prepare specimen tours based on travel conveniences, to be
ready for the 1920 season.
Dedication of Parks-The dates of the
dedication of the Keosauqua and Farmington parks were ordered
left to the convenience of the people in those localities.
Caretakers of Parks-All matters relating to
the employment of caretakers for the parks to be left to the
Committee on Rules and "rules" to be construed to embrace the
governance of the Board as well as the park areas.
Exhibit Photos of Scenes-Invitation of the
Mid-West Horticultural Exposition to display the Board's
pictures of scenic places in Iowa at their meeting in the
Coliseum in Des Moines, November 10-14, was accepted.
Action on Areas-Eldora-Steamboat Rock area is
declared suitable to be considered for reservation as a state
park; Big Boulder, near Nashua, certified to Executive Council
with the request that it be acquired; Pisgah area, Harrison
County, and Grove Township, Shelby County, referred to Harlan;
areas in Jackson County referred to Kelso for investigation
Van Buren County Co-operation-The
co-operation of Van Buren County citizens in helping the state
acquire park areas is approved and recommended.
Resolutions on Keosauqua Area-Recommended to
Executive Council to acquire 657 acres more, making in all
1,126 acres, at a total cost of $46,110, the citizens to pay
System of Accounts-That Mr. Ford and
assistant secretary and some one from the Board of Audit, or
Accountant Paul, be requested to audit the Board's available
funds and make a system of account-keeping for the Board.
Action on Areas-The matter of a dam at Turtle
Lake and letter relating to Sunk Grove Lake, referred to
Pammel and Albert; Stone House area on Yellow River, referred
Harlan; Harlan directed to get in touch with the Muscatine
committee concerning Wild Cat Den area; secretary directed to
write P. K. Ware that when deed and abstract of Farmington
area are received, the Board will recommend to Executive
Council to use $500 in constructing dam and roads; progress
reported on Tama area; Pammel to go to Eldora and ask all
interested there to unite on one project; Ledru Willitts, of
Mt. Pleasant, reports progress on Oakland Mills area.
Acquisition of Books-Executive Council is
requested to set aside $100 for acquisition by the Board of
books and authorities on parks and conservation.
Action on Areas-Recommended to Executive
Council that the gift of Irvin Lepley of a tract of land near
Union, Hardin County, be accepted and an additional tract
connecting it with the Iowa River be acquired; citizens of Mt.
Pleasant present proposition concerning the Oakland Mills area
and it is recommended it be accepted in accordance with offer
of the Mt. Pleasant Commercial Club [Negotiations on behalf of
the Board were in the main carried on by the secretary. A
general statement of intended payment in part by local
citizens was made to the secretary by Mr. L. C. Willitts, A.
W. Miller, W. T. Wright, and ____________. on behalf of the
Mt. Pleasant Chamber of Commerce and others. The secretary
endeavored to obtain a definite amount proposed, the citizens
naming at one time four thousand dollars and at other times
larger amounts. They, however, proceeded to complete all
their negotiations with the Executive Council in the absence
of the Board of Conservation and on April 6, 1920, without
making any payment, obtained warrants for the payment of their
lands in the amount of $14,295.50.-E. R. H.]; Mr. Ford
reported progress on Wild Cat Den area; secretary was
authorized to secure legal descriptions, etc., of Farmington
area; proposed gift of C. M. Mather of a tract near Greene,
referred to Harlan.
Committee to Draft Bill-Chairman Pammel and
State Treasurer Hoyt, of the Executive Council, were appointed
to draft a bill to be presented to the next General Assembly
listing desirable options of lake and park lands, carrying a
direct appropriation therefore.
Lake Areas Suitable to be included in General
Appropriation Bill.-Chairman Pammel reported that the
Committee on Lakes has inspected the following lakes and that
they recommend that areas bordering on them be included in a
general appropriation bill: Medium Lake, Palo Alto County;
Blue Lake, Monona County; Manawa Lake, Pottawattamie County;
Twin Sisters', Cornelia, Elm and Wall Lakes, Wright County;
Rice Lake, Winnebago County; Silver Lake, Worth County; Clear
Lake, Cerro Gordo County; Crystal, Eagle and East and West
Twin Lakes, Hancock County; North and South Twin Lakes,
Calhoun County; Storm Lake, Buena Vista County; Sunk Grove
Lake, Pocahontas County; Okoboji, Hottes, Marble and Spirit
Lakes, Dickinson County; Tuttle, Iowa, West Swan and High
Lakes, Emmet County; Wall Lake, Sac County; Little Wall Lake,
Other Areas Suitable to be included in General
Appropriation Bill.-Chairman Pammel also reported the
following list had been reported to the Executive Council as
desirable to be included in a general appropriation bill:
Ledges, Boone County; Woodman's Hollow and Boneyard Hollow,
Webster County; Steamboat Rock, Hardin County; Falling Spring,
Fayette County; Devil's Backbone, Madison County; Ice Cave,
Dunning Spring and Ft. Atkinson, Winneshiek County; Morehead
Caves and Tete des Morts, Jackson County; Wild Cat Den,
Muscatine County; Stone Park, Woodbury County; Palisades, Linn
County; Red Rock and Big Tree, Marion County; Cedar Bluffs,
Mahaska County' Pictured Rocks, Jones County; Cedar Valley and
Rochester, Cedar County; Pisgah and Missouri Valley, Harrison
County; Buckingham area, Mills County; Hepburn Park, Page
County; Monkey Mountain and Agency House, Wapello County;
Myerholz Lake and Toolsboro Mounds, Louisa County; Yellow
River and Waterville, Allamakee County; Bixby Park, Clayton
County; Oakland, Pottawattamie County; Cherokee, Cherokee
County; Big Boulder, Floyd County; Waverly Park, Bremer
County; Hackberry Grove, Cerro Gordo County; Tama Indian
Reservation, Tama County; Keokuk and Montrose, Lee County;
Jasper Pool, Lyon County; Peterson, Clay County; Ocheydan
Mound, Osceola County; Davis City, Decatur County; Marble
Rock, Floyd County; Nashua, Chickasaw County; Swiss Hollow and
Durango Road, Dubuque County; Perry and Farlow Ford, Dallas
County; Pilot Mound, Hancock County.
To Codify Rules.- Mr. Harlan was directed to
codify rules and regulations for the government of parks and
that the Board then take them up with the Executive Council.
Reports on Areas.- Mr. Ford reported that the
committee to whom was referred the Oakland Mills area made a
report to a joint meeting of the Executive Council and the
Board recommending the acquisition of the area, and that the
report was adopted; also as to the Buckingham Lake area, they
regarded the land priced too high, and the same as to lands
desired to be acquired adjacent to Oakland Chautauqua Park,
Pottawattamie County. These matters were again referred to
Ford and Hoyt.