|LOUISA COUNTY, IOWA|
This article was found pasted into a scrap book prepared by Dorothea ‘Dottie’ Mc Dole. (She passed away in February, 2014.) The newspaper it was published in and date of article was not noted. Transcribed by Lynn McCleary, July 2, 2014
Morning Sun History Lives On
I am thrilled about the 24 page tabloid-sized “Happy Birthday Louisa County.” To recall our heritage is to focus our destiny.
I wish to add three things pertaining to Morning Sun:
Morning Sun has the only post office in the nation carrying that name. It’s the only Morning Sun in the Directory of Post Offices. There is a Morningside, a part of Sioux City. And many years ago there was a Morning Sun, Ohio. But that is like Newport, Marsh and Wyman in that they are no longer listed.
Secondly, while it is true that Morning Sun had the first rural delivery in Iowa, it also had the first in the whole nation. In 1980 I wrote to the son of the first carrier, Bert McKinley, to be assured of that. I herewith quote from the letter written by Phillip McKinley of Scottsdale, Arizona.
“The postmaster at Morning Sun was Civil War veteran Thomas J. Ochlitree, who was a close friend of Senator John Gear of Burlington. Gear apparently had some clout, and Congress passed a bill allowing for experimental routes, and Morning Sun was chosen as the first location. Dad, along with Al Roberts and Bill Blair, bid on the job and Dad was the first one chosen. The first mail was to be delivered on November 10, 1896, and each of the three were paid $250 a year, and had to furnish own horse. Each route was approximately 25 miles.
“However, (McKinley’s son of Arizona continues), although Morning Sun was officially designated as he first place for the experiment, some small town in West Virginia jumped the gun and started two or three weeks earlier. So I suppose you could say that Dad (Bert McKinley) was the first officially appointed rural carrier in the U.S. incidentally, the first mail boxes were boxes were quite a conglomeration: old boots, cigar and shoe boxes, discarded stove pipes, milk cans, and old wash basins usually tacked to a tree or to the porch of the house.”
The third distinction Moring Sun holds is that it was at one time the home of grandparents of a vice-president of the United States. A minister in Illinois had brought books for ten cents at a library. Knowing that I was raised around Morning Sun, he gave me the one entitled “The Wallaces of Iowa.” It had a detailed chapter “Morning Sun and Winterset.”
The book tells of a Rev. Henry Wallace who had a two-point field, Rock Island-Davenport United Presbyterian Churches. He got a call from the United Presbyterian Church at Morning Sun. That is the church pictured on page 19 of this February 26, 1987, tabloid edition by the Louisa County Historical Society. (It may have been in a preceding edifice that the Reverend Henry Wallace preached.) After six years or so at Morning Sun, he and his family moved to Winterset. After a short time this pastor, whose health may have been impaired in service in the Civil War, was advised by his physician to quit the pulpit and take up the plow. He bought a small tract of land and took up farming. He has a son, Henry Cantwell Wallace, who became Secretary of Agriculture under President Harding and Coolidge. In the meantime, the former Morning Sun minister-turned-farmer became known as “Uncle Henry.” Henry C.’s son, and the former Morning Sun pastor’s grandson, Henry Agard Wallace, became Secretary of Agriculture under President FDR. During FDR’s second term, Henry A. Wallace was Vice-President of the United States. All three generations of Wallaces were leaders in the development of hybrid corn. The Wallaces certainly knew what was going on in our area.
At the funeral of Ray Redfern at Yarmouth, with room made for overflow crowd in the high school gymnasium, the minister read a telegram of condolence from Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace. Mr. Redfern, farmer southeast of Yarmouth had also developed hybrid seed corn.
Thus, Morning Sun has the only post office by the name in the United States (there are about 27 Burlingtons). Morning Sun had the first officially designed rural mail route in the United States, and Morning Sun had been a home of a minister-grandfather of a vice-president of the United States.Rev. Harlan H. Naylor