|Probably the first voluntary association of any kind in Lee County was
an agricultural society. On July 17, 1841, a meeting was held at West
Point for the purpose of organizing such a society. William Patterson
presided and James H. Cowles acted as secretary. About one hundred and
fifty people were present, among whom were Hugh T. Reid and D. F.
Miller of Fort Madison, who addressed the meeting. A number of fine
Durham cattle were exhibited at West Point on that occasion. A
committee of five was appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws and
report at a meeting to be held in Fort Madison on the first Monday of
the following October. No record of the Fort Madison meeting can be
found, but it is likely some sort of a society was organized, as in
September, 1842, a three days' fair was held near Keokuk, under the
auspices of the "Lee County Association," which was evidently
short-lived. On November 1, 1851, the Lee County Agricultural Society
was organized at Keokuk. T. B. Cumming, G. W. Edmondson and T. J.
Chenowith were appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws, which
were presented and adopted at the same meeting. William Lamb was
elected the first president of the society and G. W. Edmondson the
first secretarv. Ralph P. Lowe, afterward governor of Iowa, was the
The first fair given by this society was held on October 13-14, 1852,
on the grounds of the medical college at Keokuk. The premium list
advertised amounted to $588, but the total amount awarded in prizes was
$219. At the close of the fair the directors met in the lecture room of
the medical college and elected Thomas W. Clagett, president; Absalom
Anderson, vice president; William Leighton, secretary, and Arthur
Bridgman, treasurer. The second and third fairs of this society were
held at 'Keokuk, after which the place of exhibition was changed to
West Point, where it remained until 1870.
On December 28, 1853, the State Agricultural Society was organized at
Fairfield. Only five counties were represented, viz. : Henry,
Jefferson, Lee, Van Buren and Wapello. Josiah Hinkle of Lee was one of
the committee to draft by-laws, and the board of directors, consisting
of three from each of the thirteen counties, was elected. The Lee
County representatives on that board were Arthur Bridgman, Josiah
Hinkle and Reuben Brackett. The board met at Fairfield on June 6, 1854,
elected Thomas W. Clagett of Lee County president, and proceeded to
select a date and arrange a premium list for the first state fair.
There was some criticism because no prize was offered for lady
horseback riders, and Judge Clagett offered a gold watch, which was won
by Miss Belle Turner of Lee County.
In the fall of 1870 the citizens of Fort Madison prepared fair grounds
and offered inducements which decided the directors to remove the fair
from West Point to that place, where it was held for three or four
years. The old society then became involved and terminated its
existence in 1877. It was then reorganized and twenty acres of ground
were leased at Donnellson and fitted up for fair grounds, and a
successful fair was held there in the fall of that year. The officers
of the society for 1914 were : Joseph Krebill, president; Joseph
Carver, vice president; G. W. Mattern, treasurer; Chris Haffner,
secretary; D. McCulloch, superintendent of grounds; H. C. Knapp,
Some of the citizens in the vicinity of West Point, after the fair was
removed to Fort Madison, organized an association known as the West
Point District Agricultural Society, which secured the grounds formerly
occupied by the Lee County Agricultural Society, and has held fairs
annually since 1872. The officers for 1914 were: George E. Rogers,
president; Theodore Brinck, vice president; John Walljasper, secretary;
T. J. Lampe, treasurer; Theodore Vonderhaar, superintendent of
privileges, stalls and chief of police ; and John Lachman, marshal.
One of the oldest organizations of women in the State of Iowa is the P.
E. O. Just what these initials stand for is unknown to the uninitiated.
As early as 1869, seven young girls, students in the Iowa Wesleyan
University at Mount Pleasant, conceived the idea of a society. One of
these girls, speaking of it afterwards, says: "We had no very definite
idea as to what we wanted to do, and when one said, 'What shall we call
the society?' another suggested the name which that day bound together
seven girls, and in 1914 held together in one great sisterhood 20,000
women." Miss Alice Bird, later Mrs. W. I. Babb, wrote the constitution.
For many years P. E. O. was a college sorority, having chapters
somewhat after the nature of the Greek letter fraternities. Its
principal philanthropy is the maintenance of a fund which is loaned to
young women to assist them in acquiring a higher education. Hundreds of
girls have been educated by these means, and it is said that not one
dollar has ever been lost by failure to repay a loan. There are two
chapters of the P. E. O. in Lee County, located at Fort Madison and
Daughters of the American Revolusion
The Keokuk Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, was organized
on October 26, 1896, with twelve charter members and the number 431. It
is one of the oldest chapters of this order in Iowa, and its
organization is due largely to the efforts of Miss Cora H. K. Pittmann,
who was its first regent. Since its organization more than forty women
have been elected to membership. The chapter has every year conducted a
course of study on some topic of history, and has done patriotic
educational work in the schools through the offering of prizes for the
best standing in history grades and essays on historical subjects. The
greatest work of the chapter was the erection of the statue of Chief
Keokuk in Rand Park. This monument was unveiled on October 22, 191 3,
by Miss Agnes Evans Reeves and Miss Graffen Blood, two little girls,
daughters of members of the chapter. Following is the list of the
regents of this chapter since its organization: Cora H. K. Pittmann,
Lucy Singleton Howell, Mary Higbee Brownell, Eliza Janette Carter, Mary
O. Hoyt, Marcia Jenkins Sawyer, Lida Hiller Lapsley, Elizabeth W.
Dunlap, Ora Belle Cole, Grace Bisbee Hornoday, Winona Evans Reeves,
Minnie A. B. Newcomb.
Jean Espy Chapter of Fort Madison was organized on November 14, 1 901,
with twenty charter members, and in 19 14 the membership had been
increased to forty-six, one of whom was a life member. This chapter was
organized through the efforts of Miss Florence Espy and was named for
her ancestor, who had thirteen descendants in the Continental army
during the Revolution. The line of work laid down by the national
organization is followed, such as marking historic sites, the
observation of patriotic days, and the encouragement of the study of
history in the schools by offering prizes, etc. The greatest work of
this chapter was the erection of the monument at the foot of Broadway,
in the form of a chimney, which marks the site of old Fort Madison. A
full account of this monument, its inscription, etc., will be found in
Chapter VIII. Following is a list of the regents of the chapter, in the
order in which they served: Adele Kretsinger Stewart, Elizabeth Hesser
Mason, Maggie L. Hanchett, Dell Phillips Glazier, Belle Hamilton, James
Preston Roberts, Susanne Hesser Brown, and Sarah Johnson Casey. Mrs.
Brown is a granddaughter of Frederick Hesser, who served in the
Revolution, and Mrs. M. Katherine Robison, a member of the chapter, is
a great-granddaughter of Betsy Ross, who made the first American flag.
The Keokuk Woman's Club was organized in January, 1898, with Mrs.
William Ballinger as the first president; Mrs. Joseph Root, vice
president; Mrs. Anette M. Sawyer, secretary; and Mrs. William A.
Brownell, treasurer. The same year the club joined the Iowa Federation,
and continued in the study of literature, art, dome tic science, etc.,
until 191 2, when it was merged into the Civic League. During its
career it planted two rows of trees on Belknap Boulevard, erected four
public drinking fountains on Main Street, and placed rubbish cans on
the principal streets.
In May, 19 12, the Keokuk Civic League was organized with a membership
of 194 women. The constitution sets forth that "The object of the
league shall be to bring together women interested in improving the
city; to extend a knowledge of public affairs; to aid in improving
civic conditions and to arouse an increased sense of responsibility for
the safeguarding of the home and for the maintenance and ennobling of
that larger home of all — the city." The first officers of the league
were as follows: Mrs. Winona Evans Reeves, president; Miss Lida Gordon
Howell, first vice president; Mrs. James Huiskamp, second vice
president; Mrs. H. T. Herrick, recording secretary; Miss Rachel
Roberts, corresponding secretary; and Miss S. Elizabeth Matheney,
Among the things accomplished by the league was its aid in the annual
"clean up" day, conducting a garden contest among school children in
which 300 took part and ten prizes were given, and the establishment of
a systematic, sanitary collection of garbage. The membership is
distributed all over the city.
The Keokuk branch of the Ladies of Charity was formed on January 13,
1914, and is affiliated with the international society, the
headquarters of which are in Paris, France. The aim of the society is
to work with other organizations in promoting the general welfare of
the community. A number of families have been aided, and at Christmas
time in 19 1 3 a large number of toys, Christmas dinners, etc., were
distributed among the poor of the city. The officers in 1914 were: Mrs.
Alois Weber, president; Mrs. C. A. McNamara, vice president; Mrs. I. S.
Sawyer, recording secretary; Mrs. Mary Seibert, corresponding
secretary; Mrs. Joseph O'Brien, treasurer.
The first suggestion for a Visiting Nurse Association in Keokuk was
made by Mrs. C. D. Streeter, president of the Young Women's Christian
Association. Mrs. Hugh L. Cooper made the first large contribution and
the association was organized on January 1, 1913, with the following
officers: Mrs. Corydon M. Rich, president; Miss Nettie Younker, first
vice president; Mrs. Eugene S. Baker, second vice president; Miss Laura
Alton, recording secretary; Miss Agnes Trimble, financial and
corresponding secretary; and Miss Elsie Buck, treasurer. Miss Emma
Habenicht was elected visiting nurse and began her work on February 1,
The oldest woman's club in Fort Madison is the Monday Afternoon Club,
which was organized by Mrs. Caroline Cattermole in September, 1899. The
constitution states : "The object of this association shall be the
intellectual and social culture of its members." As its name indicates,
meetings are held on Monday afternoons at the homes of the members.
Half of the time at each meeting is devoted to study, and the other
half to the discussion of current topics. It is a member of the Iowa
Federation and contributes to all the great forward movements in which
the federation is interested. During its career the club has had three
presidents, Mrs. Foss, Mrs. Cattermole and Mrs. C. F. Wahrer.
In 1901 Mrs. Natalie Schafer conceived the idea of organizing a club of
German women for the practice of the German language and the study of
German literature. The works of Heinrich Heine were the first to be
taken up for study and from this fact the organization adopted the name
of the "Heine Club." This has been followed by a study of the classics,
the modern poets, novelists and dramatists, varied by special programs
to commemorate some literary anniversary — such as the one hundredth
anniversary of Schiller's birth. After the program at each meeting, a
social hour of genuine German "Gemuthlichkeit" follows.
Another active and energetic woman's club of Fort Madison is the King's
Daughters, the first circle of which, called the Ida Mansfield, was
organized on January 25, 191 1, at the home of Mrs. W. S. Hamilton.
Since that time four other circles have been formed in the city, and
the total membership in September, 1914, was about one nundred and
fifty. One circle has charge of the rest rooms on Pine Street, and the
others are interested mainly along charitable and civic lines. The
officers of the union in 19 14 were: Mrs. J. H. Samuels, president;
Mrs. H. E. Hershey, first vice president; Miss Hazel Amborn, second
vice president; Mrs. Lora Schneider, recording sec- retary; Miss Laura
Lofgreen, corresponding secretary; and Miss Florence Johnson, treasurer.
Keokuk Country Club
One of the most prominent social organizations in Lee County is the
Keokuk Country Club, which, in the summer of 1 9 1 3, dedicated a
handsome new clubhouse a few miles north of the city on the bluffs
overlooking the Mississippi River. The building stands on the highest
level of the thirty-six acres which comprise the grounds of the club.
Facing the river is a wide veranda, which opens into a large reception
room. On the first floor there are also a dining room, kitchen and
custodian's room, while upstairs are the men's quarters, baths, etc. A
nine-hole golf course has been laid out on the grounds by Thomas
Bendelow, the Chicago golf expert, and is one of the finest links along
the Mississippi. The new clubhouse has been the scene of many parties
and entertainments, and is one of the popular social centers of Keokuk.
Of all the secret orders Masonry stands first in point of seniority. A
tradition says the order was introduced in England by Prince Edwin
about 926 A. D., and there are documents dated back to 1390. Mother
Kilwinning Lodge of Scotland was organized in 1599 and has been in
continuous existence from that time, being the oldest known lodge in
the world. In June, 1717, the Grand Lodge of England was organized and
is the mother of all Masonic bodies in the English-speaking world.
In 1730 Daniel Coxe of New Jersey was appointed by the English Grand
Lodge "Provincial Grand Master of the Provinces of New York, New Jersey
and Pennsylvania in America." About the same time a provincial grand
master was appointed for the New England colonies. Before the close of
the year a lodge was established at Philadelphia and one in New
Hampshire, each of which claims to be the first lodge in America.
Masonry was introduced into the Territory of Iowa under the authority
of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, the first lodge being established under
dispensation at Burlington November 20, 1840. Rising Sun Lodge, at
Montrose, and Eagle Lodge, at Keokuk, held charters from the Grand
Lodge of Illinois, but were known as Mormon lodges. They continued in
existence until some time after the assassination of Joseph and Hyrum
Smith in June, 1844, though their charters had been revoked by the
Illinois Grand Lodge and they could not participate in the organization
of the Iowa Grand Lodge in January, 1844.
The oldest organized lodge in Lee County is Eagle Lodge, No. 12,
located at Keokuk. It was organized under dispensation from the Iowa
Grand Lodge, May 2, 1846, with Peter Kinleyside, worshipful master;
Lyman E. Johnson, senior warden; Joseph C. Ainsworth, junior warden;
and Joseph Welch, secretary.
Claypoole Lodge, No. 13, at Fort Madison, although bearing a larger
number than the Keokuk lodge, received its dispensation about two weeks
before that lodge, the date being April 17, 1846. The charter members
of this lodge were: J. F. Kinney, John Claypoole, Chapin Allen, Darius
Wellington, Jacob Huner, Thomas Hale, Samuel B. Ayres and Josiah Kent.
On December 25, 1851, a dispensation was issued to Hardin Lodge, No.
29, of Keokuk, with Dr. J. F. Sanford as the first worshipful master,
and eight charter members.
Joppa Lodge, No. 136, located at Montrose, was organized on April 5,
1858, by Dr. J. F. Sanford, when he was grand master of the state. The
first master of Joppa Lodge was H. B. Munson, and J. M. Anderson was
the first secretary.
The youngest Masonic lodge in Lee County is Stella Lodge, No. 440, at
These are the only five Masonic lodges in the county. The higher
degrees of Masonry are represented by Gate City Chapter, No. 7, Royal
Arch Masons, at Keokuk, which was organized on Christmas day, 1854;
Potowonok Chapter, No. 28, organized at Fort Madison, April 20, 1863;
Damascus Commandery, No. 5, Knights Templar, organized at Keokuk,
December 15, 1863 ; and Delta Commandery, No. 51, at Fort Madison.
In connection with Masonry there is a "side degree" to which the wives
and daughters of master Masons are eligible. This degree is known as
the Order of the Eastern Star and the local bodies as chapters. The
oldest organization in the county is Martha Chapter, No. 5, at
Montrose. Diamond Chapter, No. 37, is located at Fort Madison, and
Elmira Chapter, No. 40, of Keokuk, has over two-hundred members.
All the Masonic bodies of Fort Madison meet in the hall at the
northwest corner of Market and Second streets, but the Keokuk Masons
have erected a fine Masonic Temple at the corner of Seventh and
Blondeau streets, opposite the postoffice. Work was begun on this
building in August, 19 1 3, and it was dedicated, with appropriate
ceremonies, in July, 1914. It is three stories high, with a frontage of
112 feet on Blondeau Street and 66 feet on Seventh Street. It is
provided with elevators, electric lights, steam heat, modern
ventilation, and was erected at a cost of $75,000, giving Keokuk Masons
one of the best homes in the state. The first floor is divided into
offices and store rooms. There are some offices on the second floor,
but the third floor contains lodge rooms, ladies' parlor and a Masonic
library. In the basement, which is fourteen feet high, are the ball
room and banquet hall.
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
The society upon which modern Odd Fellowship is based was started in
England in the latter part of the eighteenth century under the name of
the "Antient and Most Noble Order of Bucks." About 1773 this order
declined and some four or five years later the words Odd Fellow first
occur in the ritual. In 1813 several lodges organized the Manchester
Unity, and Shakspere Lodge, No. 1, was soon afterward organized in New
York. The first permanent lodge in the United States, however, was
organized in 18 19 by Thomas H. Wildey of Baltimore.
The first lodge of this order to be organized in Lee County is Keokuk
Lodge, No. 13, instituted on July 31, 1848, with seven members. Empire
Lodge, No. 31, was instituted on March 18, 1851, at Fort Madison, with
five charter members. The order is now represented in Keokuk by the
original Keokuk Lodge, No. 13, which meets every Monday evening;
Puckechetuck Lodge, No. 43, which meets on Friday evenings; Hermann
Lodge, No. 116, which meets on Wednesdays; Puckechetuck Encampment, No.
7, which holds meetings on the first and third Thursdays of each month;
and Canton Leech, No. 4, Patriarchs Militant, which meets on the second
On September 9, 1861, Concordia Lodge was instituted at Fort
Madison with ten charter members, and on January 7, 1868, Fort Madison
Lodge, No. 157, was instituted. These two lodges have been merged into
Empire Lodge, No. 31, which is now the only lodge in the city. It owns
the building at the northeast corner of Front and Market streets, where
regular meetings are held weekly. The Odd Fellows also have lodges at
Charleston, Montrose, Mount Hamill, Vincennes and Wever.
In connection with the Odd Fellows there is a ladies' degree, called
the Daughters of Rebekah — generally spoken of as the Rebekahs. Lodges
of this degree are maintained with practically all the Odd Fellows
lodges throughout the country.
Knights of Pythias
This order was organized in Washington, D. C, February 15, 1864, by
Justus H. Rathbone, Robert A. Champion, William H. and David L.
Burnett, and Dr. Sullivan Kimball, members of the Arion Glee Club. The
ritual, written by Mr. Rathbone, is founded on the story of Damon and
Pythias. On February 19, 1864, Washington Lodge, No. 1, was organized,
but, the Civil war being then in progress, the order grew slowly until
about 1869, when it spread rapidly to all parts of the Union. The first
lodge in Lee County was Morning Star, No. 5, of Keokuk. At one time
there were several lodges; in the county, but the only ones in
existence in 1914 were Morning; Star and the lodge at Donnellson.
In 1868 a number of "good fellows" in the City of New York were in the
habit of meeting together of evenings to spend a few hours in social
communion, singing songs, "swapping yarns," etc. A permanent club was
finally organized under the name of the "Jolly Corks." Some months
later, when it was proposed to found a secret order, the name was
objected to as not sufficiently dignified. A committee was therefore
appointed to select a new name. This com- mittee chanced to visit
Barnum's Museum, where they saw an elk and learned something of the
habits of that animal. They then suggested the name of "Benevolent and
Protective Order of Elks," w T hich was adopted. The initials B. P. O.
E. are sometimes interpreted as meaning u Best People On Earth." In
1914 there were about twelve hundred lodges in the United States. The
motto of the Elks is: "The faults of our brothers we write upon the
sands; their virtues upon the tablets of love and memory." Under an
established rule, lodges cannot be organized in cities of less than
5,000 population, hence the only two lodges in Lee County are Keokuk,
No. 106, and Fort Madison, No. 374. The Keokuk Lodge erected a fine
club- house on Blondeau Street in 191 1, modern in all its
appointments, and the Fort Madison Lodge owns the commodious clubhouse
on Front Street, between Market and Pine, overlooking the Mississippi
River. Both lodges have strong memberships and are in prosperous condition.
There are a number of fraternal societies which have organizations in
Fort Madison and Keokuk, among which are the Ancient Order of United
Workmen, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Knights of the Maccabees,
the Modern Woodmen, the Loyal Order of Moose, the Woodmen of the World,
the Royal Arcanum, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the
Brotherhood of Loco- motive Firemen, with their ladies' auxiliaries,
the Yeomen, and a few others.
The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic society, was first organized at New
Haven, Connecticut, in February, 1882, by Rev. M. J. McGivney. The
order issues insurance policies in sums of $1,000, $2,000, and $3,000,
and does a general charitable work among its members. In 1904 it gave
$50,000 to endow a chair of American history in the Catholic University
of Washington. In 19 14 the assets of the society amounted to
$2,500,000. Local organizations are called councils. The councils at
Fort Madison and Keokuk are both large in membership and active in
carrying out the work outlined by the national organization.
Shortly after the close of the Civil war the survivors of the Union
army organized the Grand Army of the Republic, membership in which was
limited to those who had served in the army and navy during the war.
Local organizations are called posts. James B. Sample Post, No. 170,
Department of Iowa, is located at Fort Madison ; Torrence, No. 2, and
W. W. Belknap, No. 515, are located at Keokuk. The aims and objects of
the Grand Army have been to collect historic relics and documents of
the war, and to mark the location of troops on the historic
battlefields of the nation. Usually with the post is an auxiliary known
as the Woman's Relief Corps, which has aided in the charitable work of
the order, such as caring for disabled veterans and the widows and
orphans of Union soldiers. Each year this order grows smaller, many of
its members answering annually to the last roll call.
Marquette Building, Fort Madison
Charitable Institutions, Etc.
During the period of settlement in Lee County the majority of the
pioneers were blessed with good health, and a number of years passed
before the question of caring for the unfortunate poor became one for
the consideration of the county authorities. Those who needed
assistance were usually aided by the neighbors, and it was not until
1857 that any official action was taken toward providing a home for the
poor. In that year County Judge Samuel Boyles directed the building of
a poorhouse, or county home. The original building was 100 feet long
and 36 feet wide, with a wing 36 by 50 feet at each end. The original
cost was $35,000. The institution as thus established served the county
for thirty-five years.
At the election in November, 1891, the Board of Supervisors submitted
to the people the proposition to build an addition to cost not more
than $7,500, which was carried by a vote of 3,151 to 1,124, and the
repairs were made the following year. A new foundation was placed under
the old building and a wing 68 feet long, in the same style of
architecture, was added. An eight-inch sewer was run to the creek 640
feet distant, a cement floor was laid in the basement, in which the
kitchen and main dining room were established, and the sanitary
conditions of the home were generally improved. Water is furnished from
five wells and four cisterns, and a steam heating plant was installed
at the time the addition was built. The improvements were paid for out
of savings from the county insane fund, and not a cent of tax was
levied and collected for the purpose. No county in the state provides
better accommodations for the unfortunate poor and insane than Lee. The
county has three farms — the one of 108 acres where the home is
located, the Leighton farm of eighty acres in Jackson Township, and the
Taylor farm of sixty acres in Montrose Township.
There is not a public hospital in Lee County, in the sense that the
institution belongs to the public and receives its support from the
public revenues. But there are two hospitals at Fort Madison and one at
Keokuk that receive patients under certain conditions.
The Santa Fe Railway Employees' Hospital was built in 1889, at a cost
of $75,000. It is located in the West End, on Santa Fe Avenue, just
east of Ivanhoe Park, has three large wards, each floored with hardwood
and furnished with iron cots, and is complete in all its appointments.
Fifty patients or more can be accommodated at one time. In the basement
there is a modern laundry, a fine dining room on the first floor, and
the broad portico affords a resting place for convalescents. It is
maintained by the employees of the railway company, each of whom pays a
small assessment every month for its support, in return for which they
receive medical attention for themselves and families. Emergency cases
are sometimes admitted when occasion requires. This is an institution
in which the people of Fort Madison feel a just pride.
Some years ago the Sisters of St. Francis established a hospital at the
southwest corner of Third and Broadway. It was known as St. Elizabeth's
Hospital and was supported by donations and fees from patients who were
able to pay for hospital services. The building used by the hospital
was formerly a residence. During its existence it provided
accommodations for fifteen patients at a time.
On October 12, 191 2, the Sacred Heart Hospital, a Catholic institution
located near the church of that name, was dedicated. This hospital took
the place of St. Elizabeth's and is conducted by the Sisters of the
Third Order of St. Francis, whose mother house is located at Peoria,
Illinois. During the first two years of its existence nearly five
hundred patients were treated at the institution. The building is a
substantial brick structure, three stories high, with basement,
provided with fire escapes and all modern conveniences found in the
In Keokuk the Catholics of St. Mary's parish, some years ago,
established St. Joseph's Hospital, one of the largest institutions of
its kind in this section of the country. Since the first building was
erected large additions have been made to accommodate the constantly
increasing number of patients who come here every month for treatment.
This hospital is modern in its equipment, and in the corps of
physicians and surgeons are some of the best professional men of Keokuk.
In the late '90s the Keokuk Benevolent Union was organized at the home
of the late Charles K. Birge, on the corner of Seventh and Bank
streets, and the first home established consisted of a few rooms in a
downtown building. It soon became apparent that more room was needed,
and Mr. and Mrs. Birge donated their home to the union on June 1, 1900.
Since then an addition of thirteen rooms has been made to the building,
making a total of twenty-five rooms. This is a home for old people,
supported by donations from the business men of the city and nearly two
hundred women, who annually make contributions for its support. The
institution is known as the "Birge Benevolent Union Home." The officers
of the union in 1914 were as follows: Mrs. D. A. Collier, president;
Mrs. H. H. Hawkes, secretary; and Mrs. H. W. Radcliffe, treasurer.
Membership can be purchased in the union by elderly women who wish to
make the home their own. A few have done this, but by far the larger
number of inmates are women without means, who are cared for by the
In December, 1913, the United Charities of Keokuk was organized as an
outgrowth of the Keokuk Humane Society and the Associated Charities.
Under the present organization the secretary of the society is also the
humane officer and an officer of the local
Board of Health. The work of the organization consists chiefly of
affording material relief to needy families in -their homes. It does
not maintain a large relief fund for this purpose, but invites and
secures the hearty cooperation of churches, fraternal orders and
charitably inclined citizens. The society also gives considerable
attention to improvement of home conditions, the establishment of
better sanitary surroundings in shops and factories, and in caring for
children that they may have the rights of childhood and the oppor-
tunity to grow up into useful men and women. The officers of the United
Charities in 1914 were: Rev. John C. Sage, president; Albert Kiefer,
Mrs. W. J. Roberts, Miss Lucretia Huiskamp and Leonard Matless, vice
presidents; Miss Dorothy Younker, secretary; Fern Erdman, treasurer;
David Glascoff, general secretary. Mr. Glascoff is a graduate of the
New York School of Philanthropy, and took up his duties as executive
officer of the Keokuk United Charities on February 16, 1914. In
addition to these officers there are the executive, finance, child
welfare, case conference and indigent children committees, each
composed of a certain number of the members of the organization, to
look after the duties suggested by the title of the commtitee.
Although not a charitable institution, nor an institution belonging to
Lee County, it is considered appropriate to mention in this chapter the
penitentiary located at Fort Madison. By an act of the Iowa
Legislature, approved January 25, 1839, the governor was authorized to
draw $20,000 appropriated by Congress July 7, 1838, for the erection of
a penitentiary "within one mile of the public square at Fort Madison."
The citizens of the town donated and conveyed ten acres of ground, and
on June 5, 1839, Amos Ladd was appointed superintendent of the
building. The penitentiary as originally constructed provided for the
reception of 138 convicts. The main building and the warden's house
were built within about two years, but the first convict, Isaac Grimes,
was not received until in 1849. William Anderson was the first warden.
Several additions have been made to the original building. The walls
measured 400 feet on each side of the square as at first established,
but the inclosed area was extended west to Olive Street in 1896, the
preceding Legislature having appropriated $5,100 for the work. With
further extensions the dimensions of the present grounds inclosed
within the walls are 712 feet on Fourth Street, 363 feet on Olive, and
thence east and south there are 1,275 ^ eet °f wall to connect with the
wall on Fourth Street. Among the improvements made since the first
prison was erected are a large power house for furnishing power,
electric light and steam heat, a school, a greenhouse, a modern
hospital, a library containing nearly ten thousand volumes, and a
chapel in which religious services are held. A modern cellhouse was
completed in 1914.
Inmates of the institution are divided into three classes, each dressed
in a different garb, showing the "social" standing of each convict in
the institution. Convicts, upon entering, are placed in the middle
class. If their conduct proves good they are promoted to the first
grade, but if they fail to comply with the regulations they are sent
back into the third class and don the stripes as unruly or ill-tempered
prisoners. The warden in 1914 was J. C. Sanders.
One institution of a charitable nature, yet one which the pioneers in a
new country are always somewhat reluctant to see make its appearance,
is a place of burial for the dead. One can hardly imagine a more
desolate scene than the first grave in the frontier settlement. After a
number of deaths, when the cemetery has reached proportions that
naturally require greater care, much of the desolation disappears and
people accept the institution as a necessary adjunct of modern
When the Town of Fort Madison was laid out the block bounded by Front,
Maple, Des Moines and Arch streets was set apart as the City Cemetery.
This cemetery is still in use, though it is almost filled with graves,
and before many years burials must be discontinued. Elmwood Cemetery,
half a mile southwest of the City Cemetery, was surveyed a few years
ago by R. H. Heath for John C. Atlee. The northern boundary of this
cemetery is Santa Fe Avenue. The original plat shows 192 burial lots.
Half a mile north of Fort Madison, on the Augusta Road, is Cherry Hill
Cemetery, one of the old burial places of the community. Oakland
Cemetery, just west of and across Santa Fe Avenue from Ivanhoe Park,
was opened about 1907. St. Joseph's, a Catholic cemetery, is a mile
north of the city on the Denmark road. It was surveyed by R. H. Heath
on July 24, 1876, and in the western part of the city is Sacred Heart
Cemetery, the consecrated burial place for the Catholic parish of that
name. There is also a small burial place in connection with the
penitentiary for convicts who die while inmates of that institution.
Oakland Cemetery at Keokuk is the principal burial place in the
southern part of the county. It contains forty acres in the
northwestern part of the city, and was established in 1855. The main
entrance, at Carroll and Eighteenth streets, passes through a beautiful
little park before reaching the cemetery proper. Within the 40-acre
inclosure ten acres are set apart for a Catholic cemetery, and about
two acres as a burial place for the Jews. This cemetery is controlled
by a commission, which in 1914 was composed of F. T. F. Schmidt, C. R.
Joy and H. R. Jacobs.
There is at Keokuk a national cemetery, established by the United
States Government on September 23, 1861. During the early years of the
war there were five military hospitals at Keokuk for the recep- tion of
sick and wounded soldiers, and before the close of the war 770 had been
buried in the national cemetery, eight of whom were Confederate
prisoners. The grounds contain three acres. The superintendent's lodge
is a neat brick building, one and one-half stories high, and in the
cemetery is a platform for conducting Memorial Day ceremonies.
Fourscore years have elapsed since the first white settlements were
established in Lee County. The first graveyards were established
without formality of deed or incorporation and their early history
cannot be learned. Upon the map of Lee County in the Iowa Atlas,
published in 1904, are marked a number of country graveyards. In Cedar
Township there is a burial place in the southeast corner of section 6,
about a mile northwest of the old Village of Russellville, and another
in the west side of section 28, about a mile east of Big Mound.
In Charleston Township there is a cemetery, known as the Everhart
Cemetery, in the east side of section 1, near the Jefferson Township
line; another in the west side of section 4, a short distance south of
Donnellson, and a third in the southwest corner of section 26, just
south of the Town of Charleston.
Cemeteries are shown in Denmark Township near the towns
of Denmark and South Augusta, but no
burial place is indicated within the limit of Des Moines Township.
In Franklin Township, three miles north of the Town of Franklin, in the
northeastern part of section 11, there is an old burial place that is
rarely used in the present day, and in the northeastern part of section
29, about a mile and a half north of Donnellson, is a cemetery of more
modern character. The only cemeteries shown in Green Bay Township are
two, near each other, about a mile north of Wever and west of the
In Harrison Township there is a country graveyard in the northwest
corner of section 10, near the center of the township; one in the
northeastern part of section 27, about half a mile south of Primrose,
and one in the northeast corner of section 36, two miles from Warren.
One of the most historic country graveyards in the State of Iowa is
Sharon Cemetery, located in the northeast corner of section 4, Harrison
Township, three miles west of the railroad station of La Crew. This
cemetery originated as a neighborhood burial place, among the earliest
burials being members of the Seeley family, one of the wealthiest
families in Lee County. Eli Seeley, one of the older generation, died
in 1896, and his son, George L. Seeley, innerited a part of the estate.
George L. Seeley died in Texas, May 24, 1897, but before his death made
a verbal request for the enlargement and adornment of Sharon
Presbyterian Church and Cemetery, founded many years before, and left a
fund for that purpose. Over thirty thousand dollars were expended in
carrying out Mr. Seeley's request. The cemetery was enlarged from three
to eight acres, surrounded by a stone wall, surmounted by a non-rusting
fence, and $2,000 were expended upon an ornamental entrance. In
addition to all this the proceeds of a farm of 160 acres were given by
Mr. Seeley for the support of the cemetery.
There is a historic interest attached to Sharon Cemetery from the fact
that here lie buried at least one soldier of each of the wars in which
the United States has taken part — the Revolution, the War of 181 2,
the Black Hawk war, the Mexican war, the great Civil war and the
Spanish-American war. On May 28, 1907, a monument was unveiled over the
grave of George Perkins, a Revolutionary sol- dier, which monument was
erected by the State of Iowa.
In Jackson Township the only burial place of importance is the one at
Keokuk already mentioned. In Jefferson Township there is a cemetery in
the northeast corner of section 2, about two miles northeast of Viele
and three miles west of Fort Madison, the only one shown in the atlas
In Marion Township, a short distance west of the village of St. Paul,
in section 15, there is an old cemetery; another in the northwest
corner of section 26, a mile south of St. Paul, and a third in the
southeast corner of section 29, near an old church. The one near St.
Paul is the property of the Catholic church of that village.
Montrose Cemetery, the only one of importance in Montrose Township, was
surveyed on August 1, 1867, at the request of Mrs. Frances E. Billon,
one of the heirs of Thomas Riddick, who became the owner of the Tesson
land grant. It is located in outlot No. 20 of that grant and the plat
was filed in the recorder's office on September 5, 1867.
In section 16, near the center of Pleasant Ridge Township, not far from
an old church and public schoolhouse, is one of the first burial places
established in that part of the county. Another old graveyard in this
township is located in the east side of section 24, not far from the
Denmark Township line.
There are three cemeteries shown in Van Buren Township, one in the west
side of section 24, about three miles north of Belfast; one about a
mile west of that village, and one a short distance east of Croton.
In Washington Township there is a cemetery in the north side of section
n, not far from Lost Creek, and one in the south side of section 28,
about three miles north of Fort Madison. The latter is known as
Fairview Cemetery and contains the graves of several prominent pioneers.
Four cemeteries are shown in West Point Township, one near the middle
of section 2, two and one-half miles east of the Town of West Point;
the Catholic cemetery immediately south of West Point, in section 5,
and two, near each other, in section 30, in the southwest corner of the
of Lee County,
Iowa, by Dr. S. W. Moorhead and Nelson C. Roberts, 1914