|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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 in Fort Madison at Fifth and Pixe
Erected in the early 1850s
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
of Lee County,
Iowa, by Dr. S. W. Moorhead and Nelson C. Roberts, 1914