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1914 County History
Educational Development

The young people who enjoy the excellent opportunities offered by the public schools of Lee County in the year 1914 can hardly realize the difficulties that attended the acquisition of an education during the territorial era and the early days of statehood. There were then no public funds with which to build schoolhouses and pay teachers. When a sufficient number of settlers had located in a neighbor- hood they would cooperate in the erection of a schoolhouse at some central point, where it would be most convenient for the children. These early schoolhouses were invariably of logs, with clapboard roof and puncheon floor (sometimes they had no floor except "mother earth") and a huge fireplace at one end. If money enough could be raised in the settlement to purchase sash and glass, a real window would be placed in each side of the building. If not, a section of one of the logs would be left out and the aperture covered with oiled paper, mounted on a framework of slender strips of wood, to admit the light.  

The furniture was of the most primitive character. Seats were made by splitting a tree of some eight or ten inches in diameter in halves, smoothing the split sides with a draw-knife, and driving pins into holes bored in the half-round sides for legs. These pins stood at an angle that would insure stability to the "bench." Under the window was the writing desk, which was made by boring holes in the logs of the wall at a slight angle and into these holes were driven stout pins to support a wide board, the top of which would be dressed smooth to serve as a table where the pupils could take their turns at writing. 

The text books were usually Webster's spelling book, the English or McGuffey's readers, Pike's, Daboll's, Talbott's or Ray's arithmetics, and in some instances Olney's geography and Kirkham's or But- ler's rammar. The teacher of that day was rarely a graduate of a higher institution of learning and knew nothing of normal school training. If he could spell and read well, write well enough to "set copies" for the children to follow, and "do all the sums" in the arithmetic, up to and including the "Rule of Three," he was qualified to teach. There was, however, one other qualification that could not be overlooked. The teacher must be a man of sufficient physical strength to hold the unruly and boisterous boys in subjection and preserve order. At the opening of the term he generally brought into the schoolroom a supply of tough switches, which were displayed to the best advantage as a sort of prophylactic, and the pioneer pedagogue then proceeded on the theory that "to spare the rod was to spoil the child." Not many children were spoiled. 

On the theory that no one could become a good reader without being a good speller, more attention was given to orthography during the child's early school years than to any other subject. Spelling schools of evenings were of frequent occurrence, and in these matches the parents always took part. Two "captains" would be selected to "choose up," and one that won the first choice would choose the one he regarded as the best speller present, and so on until the audience was divided into two equal sides. Then the teacher "gave out" the words alternately from side to side. When one "missed" a word he took his seat. The one who stood longest won the victory, and to "spell down" a whole school district was considered quite an achievement. 

After the child could spell fairly well he was given the reader. Then came the writing exercises. The copy-books of that period were of the "home-made" variety, consisting of a few sheets of fools- cap paper covered with a sheet of heavy wrapping paper. At the top of the page the teacher would write the '"copy," which was usually a motto or proverb intended to convey a moral lesson as well as to afford an example of penmanship; such as "Time and tide wait for no man," "Learn to unlearn that which you have learned amiss," etc. As the term of school was rarely over three months, and the same teacher hardly ever taught two terms in the same place, the style of penmanship would change with every change of teachers, and it is a wonder that the young people of that day learned to write as well as many of them did. 

Next came the arithmetic. In the pronunciation of this word the sound of the first letter was frequently dropped, and the fact that Readin', 'Ritin' and 'Rithmetic were considered the essentials of a practical education gave rise to the expression "the three R's." If one understood "the three R's" he was equipped for the great battle of life, so far as ordinary business transactions were concerned. 

But conditions in educational matters have kept pace with the civic and industrial progress of the county. The old log schoolhouse has passed away and in its place has come the commodious structure of brick or stone. No longer do the pupils have to be subjected to the "one-sided" heat of the old fireplace, where some of them would almost roast while others froze. The bundle of "gads" is no longer displayed as a terror to evil-doers and corporal punishment is no longer considered a necessary part of the course of study. Yet, under the old system, chief justices, United States senators, professional men who afterward achieved world-wide reputations, and even presidents of the United States acquired their rudimentary education in the old log schoolhouse. 

The first school in Lee County, which was also the first in the present State of Iowa, was taught by Berryman Jennings at Nashville in 1830. Concerning this school, Capt. James W. Campbell, who was one of Mr. Jennings' pupils, said in an address before the Old Settlers' Association in 1875: "There was a small log house, 10 by 12 feet in size, used for a schoolroom. I remember well some of my schoolmates here, whose names are Tolliver Dedman, James Dedman, Thomas Brierly and Washington Galland. Over this literary institution, which I suppose was the first school taught in Iowa, Berryman Jennings presided as teacher. I remember him well, for when kind and oft-repeated words failed to impress upon the memory of Washington Galland and myself the difference between A and B, he had neither delicacy nor hesitancy about applying the rod, which usually brightened our intellects." 

In the same address, Captain Campbell referred to the second teacher to whom he went to school, and who probably taught the second school in the county, which was at Keokuk. Says he: "Farther back on the side of the hill, stood John Forsyth's little log cabin, which was occupied in 1833 by a venerable gentleman of the name of Jesse Creighton, a shoemaker. Finding it rather difficult to sup- port himself at his trade, owing to our custom of going barefooted in summer and wearing moccasins in the winter, he was induced to open a private school, and his pupils were Valencourt Van Ausdal, Forsyth Morgan, Henry D. and Mary Bartlett, John Riggs, George Crawford, Eliza Anderson and myself. The attendance was small, but our number embraced about all the little folks in Keokuk at that time. But few as we were in numbers, we convinced Uncle Jesse that we were legions at recess, for we frequently upset his shoe-bench and shoe-tub, which caused the old gentleman to reach for us with his crooked cane. 

"At this first school taught in Keokuk, I made rapid progress, for I learned to read Chieftain, Warrior, Winnebago, Enterprise, William Wallace and Ouisconsin, the names of the steamboats that landed immediately in front of our schoolhouse. My rapid progress was owing to the privilege of looking out of the window at these boats and drawing their pictures upon a slate." 

Such is the testimony of one who attended the earliest schools in Lee County. Captain Campbell has been quoted at length, that the readers of the younger generation may learn what kind of educational facilties were provided for the children of four score years ago. 

West Point Academy 

On January 23, 1839, the governor of Iowa approved an act of the General Assembly incorporating the West Point Academy. The incorporators named in the act were: John Box, William Patterson, A. H. Walker, Cyrus Poage, Joseph Howard, J. Price, Isaac Beeler, Abraham Hunsicker, A. Ewing, Hawkins Taylor, Campbell Gilmer, David Walker, William Steele and Solomon Jackson. A building was erected, but the school was not opened until the first Monday in June, 1842, with Rev. John M. Fulton, a Presbyterian minister, as principal. 

The Presbyterian Church continued in control of the school, which was conducted as an academy until June 12, 1847, when Abraham and Mary Hunsicker executed a quit-claim deed to the Des Moines College, the consideration being $1. On July 26, 1864, Solomon Cowles, president, and B. F. Woodman, secretary, and the trustees of the college executed a warranty deed to the West Point corporation school district for a consideration of $400 and the old academy became a part of the public school system of Lee County. 

Denmark Academy

When Timothy Fox, Curtis Shedd and Lewis Epps laid off the Town of Denmark they agreed to donate one-half the proceeds arising from the sale of lots to the support of a school which would afford the children of the community better advantages than were supplied by the common schools of that early period. By a special act of the Iowa Legislature, approved on February 3, 1843, the Den- mark Academy was incorporated, with Isaac Field, Oliver Brooks, Hartwell J. Taylor, Asa Turner, Jr., and Reuben Brackett as the first board of trustees. They continued in office for a number of years, being reelected at each annual meeting. 

The fund arising from the sale of lots was designated as a part of the capital stock and was to constitute a permanent fund, only the interest to be used. Other stock was issued in shares of $25 each, and the annual income of the institution was limited to $3,000. The first term of the academy was opened in September, 1845, in the Congregational Church at Denmark, with Albert A. Sturgis, of Washington, Iowa, as principal. He continued at the head of the school until 1848, when he went East to study for the ministry. 

In that year a building was erected especially for the use of school, at a cost of $2,500, and George W. Drake was placed in charge of the academy. Mr. Drake was succeeded by H. K. Edson in 1852. Shortly after the close of the Civil war, the school grew to such proportions that the new building was erected, the old one forming an addition. The cost of the new structure was about seven- teen thousand dollars. After its completion the old charter and stock were placed in the hands of a board of fourteen trustees, under the provisions of new articles of incorporation as provided for by the general laws of Iowa. Under the new articles, the board of trustees assumed the sole management of the school, with power to fill vacancies, thus making the board a self-perpetuating body. The school is still in existence and a library is maintained in connection with the academy. 

Public School System

Article IX of the constitution of the State of Iowa is devoted to the subject of education and school lands. Section 1 provides that "The educational interest of the state, including common schools and other educational institutions, shall be under the management of a board of education, which shall consist of the lieutenant-governor, who shall be the presiding officer of the board, and have the cast- ing vote in case of a tie, and one member to be selected from each judicial district in the state." 

Section 12 of the same article sets forth that "The board of education shall provide for the education of all the youths of the state, through a system of common schools, and such schools shall be organized and kept in each school district at least three months in each year. Any district failing, for two consecutive years, to organize and keep up a school, as aforesaid, may be deprived of their portion of the school fund." 

In that part of the constitution relating to the school lands, it is provided that "The proceeds of all lands that have been, or hereafter may be, granted by the United States to this state, for the support of schools, which may have been or shall hereafter be sold, or disposed of, and the 500,000 acres of land granted to the new states under an act of Congress, distributing the proceeds of the public lands among the several states of the Union, approved in the year of our Lord, 1841, and all estates of deceased persons who may have died without leaving a will or heir, and also such per cent as has been or may hereafter be granted by Congress, on the sale of lands in this state, shall be, and remain a perpetual fund, the interest of which, together with all rents of the unsold lands, and such other means as the Gen- eral Assembly may provide, shall be inviolably appropriated to the support of the common schools throughout the state." 

These and other wise provisions laid down by the founders of the state government, supplemented by laws passed by the General Assembly, have given to the state a common school system equal to that of any other state in the American Union. Pursuant to the laws, the income from the perpetual fund, money received from fines, and "all other moneys subject to the support and maintenance of common schools," are distributed to the school districts of the state in pro- portion to the number of persons between the ages of five and twenty- one years. 

According to the county superintendent's report for the year 1913, the amount of the state apportionment to Lee County was $3,062.02. In addition to this the county received for school purposes $239.60 from school fund interest, $828.15 from fines, and $9,318.03 from the one-mill school tax levied by the county authorities, making a total of $13,447.80 available for educational purposes during the year. The total number of children enumerated was 10,258. 

In the chapters on Township History will be found some account of the early schools, as far as reliable information concerning them could be obtained, as well as statistics showing the condition of the public schools in each township. From the report of the county superintendent of schools for the year ending on June 30, 1914, it is learned that the number of teachers employed in the public schools of the county during the preceding school year was 249 ; that the number of pupils enrolled was 6,196; that the average length of term in the townships, towns and cities was 8 l / 2 months, and that the value of school buildings was $445,350. This estimate of value does not include the grounds upon which the schoolhouses are situated nor the cost of the apparatus purchased with public funds for use in the schoolrooms. Including the value of grounds and apparatus shows that in 1914 Lee County had approximately half a million dollars permanently invested in her educational institutions. 

Keokuk Schools

The first school in Keokuk, taught by Jesse Creighton, has already been described. John McKean, another early teacher, taught in a round log schoolhouse, 16 by r8 feet, which stood near the corner of Third and Johnson streets. Prior to 1853 none of the schoolhouses was more than one story high, and none had more than one room, which was just large enough to accommodate the teacher and probably twenty-five scholars. In 1853 the Central school building was erected. It took its name from the location, which was supposed to be the most convenient for the school children of the city, and was afterward taken for a high school building. 

In 1865 the Wells school building was erected at a cost of about eighteen thousand dollars. It was really the first modern school building in the Gate City. Between that time and 1875 the Carey and Torrence school buildings were erected, and they have been followed by the Garfield, Lincoln, George Washington, McKinley, Hilton and Price Creek schools. The last named two are small schools, employing but one teacher each. In 1914 an addition was made to the Lincoln school building and the two new houses, known as the Jefferson and Garfield schools, were erected at a cost of over eighty thou- sand dollars. The new Garfield building is to replace the old school of that name, but the Jefferson school, located at the junction of Twenty-second and Bank streets, is a new structure. The new buildings contain all modern conveniences in the way of cloakrooms, toilets, sanitary drinking fountains, etc., and are second to none in the State of Iowa. 

According to the county superintendent's report for the year ending on June 30, 1914, the number of teachers employed in the Keokuk schools during the preceding school term was seventy-three. The number of pupils enrolled was 2,501 and the value of school buildings was estimated at $285,000, but those figures do not include the two new buildings above mentioned. The superintendent of the city schools at that time was William Aid rich. 

Fort Madison Schools

A Miss Jannings taught the first school in the Town of Fort Madison, but the exact date when she taught is somewhat uncertain. She soon afterward went with her parents to Salem, Henry County. The second school was taught by a man named Rathburn, said to have been "half white, quarter Indian and quarter negro." Alfred Rich, of whom further mention is made in the chapter on the Bench and Bar, opened a school in 1837. All these early schools were of the subscription type, where the teacher charged so much for each pupil and took his pay in whatever commodity he could get, owing to the scarcity of actual money during the early days. 

As late as 1886 Fort Madison had but one four- room schoolhouse, which was located at the corner of Fifth and Pine streets. The high school was taught in the basement of the Baptist Church and several rooms were rented, wherever they could be obtained, for the accommodation of other grades. In the spring of 1886 the people, by popular vote, authorized the issue of bonds to the amount of $15,000 for the erection of a modern school building on Fifth Street near Market. The same year the board of education bought the Atlee building in the Fourth Ward for $2,500. 

Then came the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, and with the completion of the shops there was a demand for school accommodations in the west end. To meet this demand, the Richardson school building, at the corner of Santa Fe and Vermont avenues, and the Jefferson school, at the corner of Second Street and Union Avenue, were erected in 1889. 

The building erected in 1886 was used as a high school until 189c;, when the people again authorized a bond issue, this time for $35,000, for a modern high school structure, to be located on Third Street, just east of Maple. Since then the old high school building has been known as the Lincoln school, and in the eastern part of the city is the Jackson school, located at the corner of Third and Oak streets. 

In these five buildings forty-one teachers were employed during the school year of 1914, under the superintendency of F. A. Welch. The number of pupils enrolled in all departments was 1,198, and the value of school buildings was estimated by the county superintendent in his report as sixty-five thousand dollars. In 1914 the Jefferson school building was condemned and a new one was erected at a cost of about twenty-two thousand dollars. Manual training and domestic science are taught in both the Keokuk and Fort Madison schools. 

Public School, Fort Madison, Fifth and Pixe
Public School in Fort Madison at Fifth and Pixe
Erected in the early 1850s

Parochial Schools 

In Lee County there are a number of schools maintained by the Catholic Church. The school in St. Joseph's parish, at Fort Madison, was established in 1840, Father Alleman, the pastor, being the first teacher. The school in 1914 occupied two buildings — the old church building remodeled and one across the street for primary pupils — and was under the charge of the Sisters of Humility. St. Mary's school, at the corner of Fourth and Vine streets, was established in 1865. The present building, erected in 1895, is provided with a lecture room, with stage, etc. In 1893 the Sacred Heart school was opened in the west end, in connection with the parish of that name. 

Keokuk has two parish schools — St. Peter's and St. Mary's. Both are housed in substantial brick structures and are in a prosperous condition. Graduates from the former school are privileged to enter the State University without further examination. As early as 1853 the Convent of the Visitation of St. Mary was founded in Keokuk by Sisters of the Visitation. It was located on the heights overlooking the Mississippi River and soon became a female school of high order. Before the public school system of the city attained to its present efficiency, many Keokuk girls attended this institution. 

Parochial schools are also maintained in connection with the Catholic churches at West Point, St. Paul and Houghton. 

The Press

Through the dissemination of general news and information, or the publication of special articles on scientific, economic or industrial subjects, the newspaper is an important factor in the intellectual and educational development of the nation. It is therefore considered proper to include in this chapter some account of the Lee County newspapers — past and present. 

In 1834 the first printing press was brought to Iowa by John King, who came from Ohio in that year and settled in Dubuque. On May 11, 1836, the Dubuque Visitor, the first newspaper ever printed in Iowa, was printed on this press and bore the name of William C. Jones as editor. Not long after that Dr. Isaac Galland commenced the publication of a paper called the Western Adventurer, the publication office being located at Montrose. This was the first newspaper of Lee County. Its publication was suspended in less than two years. 

James G. Edwards then purchased the outfit from Doctor Galland, removed it to Fort Madison, and on March 24, 1838, issued the first number of the Fort Madison Patriot, which has been described as "a strong partisan sheet and the first whig paper in Iowa." This paper has been credited with having first proposed the name of "Hawkeye State" for Iowa. After the Territory of Iowa was established and the seat of government was located at Burlington, Mr. Edwards removed the publication office of the Patroit to that city. 

Fort Madison was then without a newspaper until July 24, 1841, when R. W. Albright issued the first number of the Fort Madison Courier. The population of the town was at that time estimated at seven hundred. One of the articles in this first number of the Courier was Philip Viele's address of welcome to Governor Chambers on the occasion of his visit to Fort Madison four days before the paper was issued. In December, 1841, William E. Mason purchased an interest in the paper and the name was changed to the Lee County Democrat. Others connected with the publication of this paper during the next five years were O. S. X. Peck, W. C. Stripe and T. S. Espy. In 1847 the office was sold to George H. Williams, who changed the name to the Iowa Statesman. After a few months Williams sold out to J. D. Spaulding. In February, 1852, Lewis V. Taft and others bought the paper and changed the name to the Plain Dealer. On July 1, 1851, the paper was purchased by W. P. Staub, who employed as editors during the next ten years James D. Eads, Dr. A. C. Roberts and J. M. Casey. 

On May 2, 1861, Mr. Staub began the publication of a daily called the Gem City Telegraph, but after running it for about three months at a loss it was discontinued. In July, 1863, Staub sold the Plain Dealer to William CarTrey, who changed the paper to a republican organ, greatly to the disgust of the former owner, who induced Hussey & Hickman, then pubishing the Montrose Banner, to remove to Fort Madison and issue a democratic paper. The Banner did not live long, however, after the removal. 

Following Mr. CarTrey, the Plain Dealer was successively published by Col. J. G. Willson, H. W. Dodd and Dawley & Tremaine, which brings the history of the paper down to the year 1878. Among the many who were interested in the paper after that date was George Fitch, who has since made a wide reputation with his Vest Pocket Essays and Homeburg Stories. Toward the latter part of its career the name of the paper was changed to the Republican. 

The Fort Madison Democrat was established in 1869 by Charles L. Morehouse, who had the financial support of Dr. A. C. Roberts, the first issue coming from the press on the 4th of July. About a year later Morehouse was succeeded by W. P. Staub, the former owner of the Plain Dealer. In January, 1874, the ownership of the Democrat passed to Doctor Roberts and Henry L. Schroeder, a practical printer, and the paper was conducted by the firm of Roberts & Schroeder until the latter was succeeded by Nelson C. Roberts, a son of the doctor. This association lasted until the business was incorporated as the Democrat Publishing Company. Since the year 1887, the Democrat has been issued as an afternoon daily, except Sunday, with a weekly edition issued every Wednesday. 

The Daily Gem City, of Fort Madison, was started in 1887 by O. E. Newton. After several changes in ownership the paper passed into the hands of Valentine Buechel, ex-state senator, who improved its character and gave it a more pronounced political policy, with leanings toward the democracy. Subsequently Nauer & Lorshetter became the proprietors. Upon the death of Mr. Lorshetter, J. M. Nauer continued the publication of the paper until April 24, 191 1, when he sold a half interest to Thomas P. Hollowell, who made the Gem City a straight out republican paper. In May, 191 1, the Gem City Publishing Company was incorporated and the paper is still published every afternoon, except Sunday. A weekly edition is published every Friday. 

The first newspaper published in the City of Keokuk was the Iowa Argus and Lee County Advertiser, which began its career in January, 1846, under the editorial guidance of William Pattee, afterward auditor of state. It was democratic in politics, but it lived only a few months. A facetious resident of Keokuk said the long name was too much of a load to carry, which was the cause of the paper's death. 

In the spring of 1847 the Keokuk Register was started by J. W. and R. B. Ogden, who had come from Springfield, Ohio, the fall before. The first number made its appearance on May 26, 1847, and the ubscription list at that time consisted of three persons — L. B. Fleak, Ross B. Hughes and Samuel Van Fossen. J. W. Grimes, H. W. Starr and other leaders of the whig party had agreed to guarantee a paid-up subscription of 1,000 and the two young men went to work in earnest. When the office was sold to the firm of Howell & Cowles, in 1849, there were 1,800 subscribers. 

Howell & Cowles had begun the publication of the Des Moines Valley Whig at Keosauqua in July, 1846. When they purchased the Keokuk Register of the Ogden Brothers in March, 1849, the two offices were consolidated at Keokuk and their paper took the name of the Des Moines Valley Whig and Keokuk Register. On March 3, 1854, they issued the first number of a daily called the Keokuk Daily Whig, but the next year the name was changed to the Gate City, under which it is still published every afternoon, except Saturday and Sunday, by the Gate City Publishing Company. A Sunday morning edition is also published. 

On May 20, 1848, the first number of the Keokuk Dispatch was issued by John B. Russell and Reuben L. Doyle. It was a pronounced democratic sheet, intended to counteract the influence of the Register. In April, 1849, Doyle purchased his partner's interest and became sole proprietor. S. W. Halsey purchased an interest in July, 1850, but about a year later sold to George Green. Several other changes occurred and in October, 1855, the name was changed to the Saturday Post. Mark Twain worked as a compositor on this paper before it was removed to Doniphan, Kansas, by William Rees & Sons in i860. 

A small sheet called the Nip and Tuck Keokuk Daily made its appearance on January 1, 1855, with the name of D. Reddington, a former owner of the Dispatch, at the head of the editorial columns. In September of the same year Reddington sold out to Walling & Hussey, who had commenced the publication of the Daily Evening Times the preceding July. They also published a weekly edition and when the office was sold to Charles D. Kirk in November, 1857, the weekly was continued under the name of The Journal. Kirk sold the Daily and Weekly Journal to Newton, Hussey & Gwin and from May, 1859, to December, 1861, it was under the management of Charles Smith. The paper was then bought at a foreclosure sale by Judge Thomas W. Clagett, who changed the name to the Keokuk Constitution. Under the management of Judge Clagett the paper became one of the most influential democratic papers of Iowa and after his death in April, 1876, the Constitution was conducted for some time by his daughter, Sue Harry Clagett. It was then sold to John Gibbons, Thomas Rees, George Smith and H. W. Clendenin. Mr. Gibbons served as editor until the following spring ( 1877) , when he was succeeded by Mr. Clendenin and retired from the firm. Some years later the paper absorbed the Democrat, which had been started a few years before, and is still published as an afternoon daily (Sundays excepted) under the name of the Constitution-Democrat. 

The Keokuk Post, a newspaper printed in the German language, was established in 1855 by William Kopp under the name of Beobachter des Westens (The Western Observer) . During its career the name was changed several times under different owners.

 Fort Madison High School
Fort Madison High School

Other journalistic ventures in Keokuk were the Sunbeam, which was established as a temperance paper in January, i860, and continued for about two years ; the Daily Evening News, which was published as a Greeley organ for a short time in the campaign of 1872; the Sharp Stick, published by T. B. Cumming while proprietor of the Dispatch as a humorous paper; The People's Dollar, published as an organ of the greenback party by Thornber & Hanson for a short time in the latter '70s, and the Central School Journal, devoted to educational interests. 

Outside of the cities of Fort Madison and Keokuk, the first paper established in the county was the Montrose Banner, which made its appearance in the early '6os. It was afterward removed to Fort Madison, where it ran for a short time, when it was discontinued. The West Point Appeal was started in June, 1878, by Allison Leadley, but it is no longer in existence. 

The rural papers of the county in 1914 were the Donnellson Review, the Montrose Journal and the West Point Bee. The Donnellson Review was started in 1897 as a republican weekly and is now published every Thursday by F. C. Tabor. The Montrose Journal began its career in 1865, about two years after the Banner was removed to Fort Madison. For a time it was suspended, but was revived and is now published weekly by George H. Duty and is republican in its political views. The West Point Bee, of which J. M. Pohlmeyer is editor, is a democratic weekly, published every Thursday. It was founded in 1893. 

Public Libraries

In Lee County there are two public libraries, located at Keokuk and Fort Madison. The Keokuk Library Association was incorporated on December 10, 1863, with A. J. Wilkinson as president; George W. McCrary, vice president; George C. Thompson, secretary, and Howard Tucker, treasurer. The first board of directors was composed of A. Hagny, William Fulton, Robert F. Bower, P. Gibbons, George Thatcher and J. L. Rice. Life membership in the association was fixed at $50; membership shares, $10; annual dues, $2, and subscribers, $3. 

The first quarters of the library were over George C. Anderson's bank. When J. L. Rice died in 1879 he left $10,000 as the basis of a library building fund. The women of Keokuk gave an art loan exhibit which netted about one thousand one hundred dollars; a large number of shares of stock, giving free use of the library for a period of ten years, were sold; H. C. Huiskamp and Spencer Grennell gave donations of $500 each; A. L. Connable gave money and land amounting to $1,000, and there were a number of other donations, which brought the fund up to about twenty thousand dollars. The lot at the southeast corner of Third and Main streets was then selected as a site and a building was erected thereon at a cost of $25,000. It was opened to the public on February 24, 1883. At that time the association was in debt about five thousand dollars, which amount was loaned to the board of directors by H. C. Huiskamp for ten years without interest. In May, 1892, the last payment of this loan was made and the association became free from debt. 

The Legislature of 1894 passed an act "to stimulate the establishment of new public libraries and to promote the usefulness of those in." One provision of this act was that in all cities and incorporated towns the mayor should appoint a board of library existence trustees of nine members, which board should have authority to employ a librarian and assistants and levy a tax of not more than one mill on the dollar for the support of the library. 

On April 2, 1894, an election was held in Keokuk, at which the people were called upon to vote on the question: "Shall the City of Keokuk accept the benefit of the statute for the creation and maintenance of a public library?" The proposition was carried and the directors of the Library Association then submitted to the city council a proposition to lease the library and all its appurtenances to the city for a term of eight years from May 1, 1894, provided the city would appropriate annually not less than one thousand five hundred dollars for its support. This proposition was accepted by the city authorities and on July 16, 1894, tne institution became the Keokuk Public Library. The annual appropriation since that time has never been less than two thousand dollars. On January 1, 1914, there were 22,500 volumes in the library and the circulation for the year 1913 was 80,350 volumes. 

The trustees for the year 1914 were: John E. Craig, Ben B. Jewell, Charles J. Smith, W. J. Fulton, W. C. Blood, John I. Amiable, William Reimbold, Abraham Hollingsworth and Dr. G. Walter Barr. The first three named were president, vice president and secretary, respectively, and Miss Nannie P. Fulton was the librarian. 

The Fort Madison Public Library had its origin in the organization of a sort of society, volunteers donating books, the greatest single donation being that of Daniel F. Miller, who gave several hundred volumes, many of which were public documents, such as Congressional Records, etc. No librarian, with authority to enforce regulations, was appointed and the duties of that position were sadly neglected. Finally, the finances of the institution ran low and the library was closed, the rent on the room occupied at that time being almost one thousand dollars in arrears. Dr. A. C. Roberts, who had always taken a keen interest in the success of the library, settled the claims and preserved the few books remaining, which were removed to other quarters. 

In January, 1878, J. C. Bontecou commenced a series of temperance meetings in Fort Madison and in a week's time more than eight hundred signed the pledge. These persons organized the Red Ribbon Reform Club, which rented a building on Front Street r between Pine and Cedar, for a hall and reading room. This movement resulted in what became known as the City Circulating Library. It was kept up by a number of women who felt the need of a library, most of the money received for its support being raised by giving public entertainments. 

Henry and Elizabeth Cattermole, natives of England, were among the oldest and most respected citizens of Fort Madison. For many years Mr. Cattermole was identified with the pork packing business of the city and was one of the founders of the German-American Bank. He and his estimable wife realized the need of a library for the city in which they had so long dwelt, and when he died in 1891 he left instructions to his widow to erect a library building to his memory. Mrs. Cattermole carried out her husband's instructions, and, with the assistance of the executor of the estate, H. D. McConn, erected the Cattermole Memorial Library on Pine Street, between Second and Third, on the site occupied for many years by the Cattermole homestead. 

The library building is of St. Louis buff brick, with terra cotta trimmings and a slate roof. The interior is finished in oak and a cozy feature is the brick fireplaces in the various rooms, giving an air of cheerfulness. It was dedicated in 1893, a short time after the death of Mrs. Cattermole, who did not live to see the completion of the generous work of her husband and herself. The cost of the building was $25,000. 

The library was made the Fort Madison Public Library in much the same manner as the one at Keokuk, though it still bears the name of the Cattermole Memorial Library, in honor of the donors. At the beginning of the year 19 14 there were approximately ten thousand volumes in the library and the circulation has increased every year since its establishment. The trustees for 19 14 were: Dr. J. M. Casey, president; J. P. Cruikshank, vice president; Miss Rebecca Hesser, secretary and librarian, and Mrs. G. B. Stewart, Mrs. J. B. Watkins, Mrs. C. F. Wahrer, Mrs. Ella Crouse, W. A. Scherfe, N. C. Roberts and A. L. Gates.

Source:  History of Lee County, Iowa, by Dr. S. W. Moorhead and Nelson C. Roberts, 1914

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