History of Marion County, Iowa by Wright and Young (1915)

Chapter XV - Educational Development

Early Schoolhouses - Their Furniture - Course of Study - Spelling Schools - First Schools in Marion County -
Public School System - Permanent School Fund - School Revenues of the County in 1914 - Modern Buildings -
Central College at Pella - The Press - Short Histories of the County Papers - Public Libraries.

The boys and girls who enjoy the educational facilities offered by the public schools of Marion County in the year 1914, and perhaps many of their parents, can hardly realize the difficulties that beset the ambitious youth of the pioneer days in the acquisition of an education. At that time there were no public funds for the erection of schoolhouses and paying teachers. The first schoolhouses were built by the cooperation of the settlers. When a sufficient number of settlers had located in a neighborhood to justify the opening of a school they would get together and erect a schoolhouse at some central point, where it would be convenient for the largest number of children. The early temples of learning were invariably constructed of logs, with clapboard roof and puncheon floor - sometimes the puncheons were lacking - and a great fireplace at one end. If money enough could be obtained, by “taking up a collection,” to purchase sash and glass a real window would be placed in each side of the schoolhouse. If not, a long section of one of the logs on each side would be left out and the openings covered with oiled paper, mounted on a framework of slender strips of wood. This arrangement would admit the light on bright, sunny days fairly well, but in dark, cloudy weather the eyes of the pupils were sorely tested to study their lessons.

The furnishings of the schoolroom were of the most primitive character. No maps or pictures decorated the walls. 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, then boring holes in the half-round sides with a large auger and inserting pins for legs. These legs would stand at an angle that would keep the bench from tipping over. The benches thus formed were of different heights, to accommodate children of different ages. Under the window holes were pored in the wall at a slight angle downward and into these holes were driven stout pins to support a wide board, the top of which would be planed smooth, for a writing desk. Here the pupils could take their turns at writing.

The text books were generally Webster’s spelling book, the English or McGuffey’s readers, Pike’s, Daboll’s or Ray’s arithmetic's. If geography was taught Mitchell’s or Olney’s text books were used, and in some instances a few pupils would study Butler’s or Kirkham’s grammar. Normal schools were then unknown and the teacher of that early day was rarely a graduated of a higher institution of learning. If he showed an ability to read and spell, could write well enough to “set copies” for the pupils to follow, and could “do all the sums” in the arithmetic up to and including the “Rule of Three,” as simple proportion was then called, he was considered sufficiently well qualified to teach. In addition to these essentials there was one qualification that could not be overlooked. The teacher must be a man of enough physical strength to enforce discipline and keep the unruly and boisterous boys in order. For this reason women were not often employed as teachers, except in cases where only small children attended the school. At the opening of the term the schoolmaster would bring into the schoolroom a supply of tough switches, which were displayed 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, as the rod was brought into requisition upon the slightest provocation.

Learning the “A B Cs” was the first thing required of the child. After he could distinguish most of the letters by sight, he was taught to spell simple words. On the theory that no one could read properly until he had learned to spell well, more attention was given to orthography during the child’s early school years than to any other branch of study. As a further encouragement to good spelling contests were frequently held of evenings and in these spelling schools many of the parents participated. Two captains would be selected to “choose up.” The choice was decided by tossing a broomstick or cane from one of the captains to the other. Then from the place where it was caught the two would alternately place their hands above each other and the one who held the stick at the top so that there was no hold left for the other gained the right to choose first. It is unnecessary to say that his choice was always the best known speller present, unless he was partial to some pretty girl that he feared to offend by selecting some one else. After the spellers were divided into two equal sides the teacher “gave out” the words alternately from side to side. When one missed a word he took his seat, and thus the match went on until only the victor was left standing. To “spell down” a whole school district was considered quite an achievement.

As soon as the child could spell reasonably well he was given the First Reader and by the time he had reached the Second Reader the writing lessons began. The copy-books of that period were of the “home-made” variety, consisting of a few sheets of foolscap paper covered with a sheet of heavy wrapping paper. The ink, too, was frequently “home-made,” a decoction of maple bark and copperas. At the top of the copy-book the teacher would write a line intended to convey a moral lesson as well as to afford and example of penmanship to be imitated; such as “Evil communications corrupt good manners,” or “Do unto others as you would that other should do unto you.” as the term of school was hardly ever more than three months, and the same teacher rarely taught two successive terms in the same district, the style of penmanship would change with the advent of every new teacher, and it is a wonder that so many of the young people of that day learned to write as well as they did.

Usually with the Third Reader came the arithmetic. In the pronunciation of this word the first letter was often dropped, and the fact that Readin’, ‘Ritin’ and ‘Rithmetic were considered the essential elements of a practical education gave rise to the expression “the three Rs” he was regarded as being equipped for handling all ordinary business transactions.

But educational conditions have kept pace with the civic and industrial progress of the county. No longer do the pupils have to sit on backless benches and be subjected to the “one-sided” heat provided by the old fireplace, where some of them would almost roast while others suffered with the cold. The old log schoolhouse has been superseded by the commodious structure of brick or stone, with furnace or steam heat, factory made furniture and other conveniences that were unknown when the first schools were taught in the county. The bundle of “gads” is no longer kept on exhibition as a terror to evil-doers and corporal punishment has been dropped from the list of necessary adjuncts of the district school. Yet, with all its disadvantages, the old system had it merits. Many men in public life, eminent doctors and lawyers of world-wide reputation, captains of industry, and even presidents of the United States obtained their elementary education in the old log schoolhouse.

The first schools taught in Marion County were of the class known as subscription schools - that is, each patron of the school agreed to pay so much for each child for the term. Money was a scarce article and the teacher, when he went around to collect his subscription, was often compelled to take some kind of produce that he could take to a trading house and exchange for goods, or perhaps for cash. Another way in which the teacher would collect his tuition fees, or at least a part of them, was by “boarding round” among the patrons of the school. Thus, during a term of twelve weeks, the teacher would probably stop with each of twelve families for one week and credit the amount of his board bill upon their subscription.

It is not certain just where the first school was taught in the county. Schools were taught in what are now Clay, Liberty, Lake Prairie, Indiana and Red Rock township in the latter part of the year 1845, only a few moths after the county was organized. In the chapters on Township History will be found some account of these early schools, as far as reliable information concerning them could be obtained, and also some statistics showing the condition of the public schools in each township in 1914.


The framers of the Iowa Constitution of 1857 had in view the establishment of a public school system that should be the equal of that of any state in the Union. In that part of Article IX relating to the disposition of school lands, the constitution provides 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 the 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 General Assembly may provide, shall be inviolably appropriated to the support of the common schools throughout the state.”

The constitution further provided for a board of education to consist of “the lieutenant-governor, who shall be the presiding officer of the board and have the casting vote in case of a tie, and one member to be selected from each judicial district.” This board was authorized to “provide for the education of all 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 deep up a school, as aforesaid, may be deprived of their portion of the school fund.”

Under authority conferred by the constitution, the Legislature in 1865 abolished the old board of education and adopted the present system - a board of nine members, with a finance committee of three members in addition to the regular board.

Another source of school revenue is provided for by the constitution to-wit: “The money which may have been or shall be paid by persons as an equivalent from exemption from military duty, and the clear proceeds of all fines collected in the several counties for any breach of the penal laws, shall be exclusively applied in the several counties in which such money is paid, or fine collected, among the several school districts of said counties, in proportion to the number of youths subject to enumeration in such districts, to the support of the common schools, or the establishment of libraries, as the board of education shall from time to time provide.”

Through the operation of these and other wise provisions laid down by the framers of the constitution, supplemented by laws passed by the General Assembly, Iowa has attained a high place in the educational annals of the nation. Pursuant to the laws, the income from the permanent fund, the proceeds of all fines, and “all other moneys subject to the support and maintenance of common schools,” are distributed to the school districts in proportion to the number of persons between the ages of five and twenty-one years.

From the county superintendent’s report for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1914, the following figures showing the status of the Marion County public school fund are taken:

On hand July 1, 1913 56,585.41
Received from district tax 100,250.95
Received from semi-annual apportionment 9,792.65
Received from tuition 2,671.92
Received from all other sources 1,095.23
Total receipts $ 170,396.16

On the other hand the report shows the following disbursements:

Teachers’ salaries 96,153.84
Tuition 1,484.52
Library books 90.29
All other expenditures 864.00
Total disbursements $98,592.65

This left a balance of $71,803.51 in the treasury to start the new fiscal year. During the school year of 1913-14 the public schools of the county employed 252 teachers, 26 of whom were in the City of Knoxville and 19 in Pella. The number of pupils enrolled was 6,205 and the eighth grade graduates at the close of the term numbered 56. The value of school buildings, exclusive of the grounds upon which they were located, was $225,760 - a conservative estimate. The apparatus used in the schoolrooms was valued at $9,192, and there were 9,197 volumes in the various school libraries.

Every year witnesses the erection of new schoolhouses to take the place of the antiquated building s that have done service for a number of years. In 1914 two fine schoolhouses were built in Perry Township under the supervision of Adam Herweh, president of the township school board. One of these is located at the old Town of Bennington and the other at what is known as the Collins school, in the western part of the township. Both are of modern design and are heated by hot air furnaces. A two-room building was erected in Liberty District, Knoxville Township, near the Andersonville mines, about four miles southeast of the City of Knoxville, and a fine building of two stories and basement was erected in the Town of Tracy. The Tracy school is the first consolidated school to be established in Marion County. A large number of the pupils attending this school live in the County of Mahaska. Four wagons are employed in conveying the children who live at a distance to and from the school. The basement of the building is fitted up for manual training and the teaching of domestic science and the people of Tracy are justly proud of their educational advantages. Late in the year the people of Pella indorsed the proposition to issue bonds to the amount of $48,000 to purchase a site and erect a new high school building by a vote of 750 to 181. In this election both the men and women of the city voted. The vote of the men stood 425 to 145 against, and the women’s vote was 325 for to 36 against.


This institution, located at Pella, is incorporated as the “Central University of Iowa,” but is popularly known as “Central College,” the name adopted by the founders. The following historical statement is taken from the college catalogue for the year 1913:

“The Baptists of Iowa, realizing the need of a denominational college for the training of their young people, called in October, 1852, a convention for the consideration of the educational problem. This convention met November 10th, at Oskaloosa. Owing to the inclement weather, a small representation was present. They therefore adjourned to meet again at Pella, in June, 1853. This meeting was one of the most representative gatherings of the Iowa Baptists ever held. Every church had been notified of the event and several months had been allowed that all might give the question careful consideration. When the convention met, full time was given to the deliberation of the various questions before it and much prayer was offered, especially for the direction of Almighty God in selecting the proper location. As a result, the following resolution was unanimously passed:

“Resolved, That this convention accept the proposed donation of the citizens of Pella and vicinity, and hereby locate our denominational institution at said place.

“A committee of three was then appointed to draft articles of incorporation and constitution, and to nominate a board of trustees. Immediately after the adjournment of this convention the executive committee of the board thus chosen began to plan for the erection of a suitable college building and to secure the necessary teachers. The following year the preparatory department of the new institution opened with an enrollment of thirty-seven. In 1858 the first freshman class entered and in 1861 there were 220 students, 44 of whom were in the college. At the close of the school in 1862, however, there was not an able bodied man, old enough to bear arms, left in the institution, 123 professors and students having enlisted for the war in the two years.”

Rev. E. H. Scarff was appointed to take charge of the school at the beginning and was the first president of the college. The school was conducted in a brick building on Washington Street until 1856, when it was removed to the new college building. Caleb Caldwell, Julia Tallman and C. C. Cory were Mr. Scarff’s assistants during this period. In 1857 Prof. A. N. Currier was added to the faculty. At the annual meeting of the board in June, 1858, it was decided to introduce a regular collegiate course and Rev. Elihu Gunn was elected president.

At the close of the war a number of students who had enlisted in the army returned to their classes and the attendance was greatly enlarged. Of the 114 students that entered the army, 26 became commissioned officer, 17 non-commissioned officers, and 21 were killed in battle.

In June, 1870, at the annual meeting of the board, it was resolved to raise the sum of $10,000 as the beginning of an endowment fund. This amount was secured during the following twelve months and in June, 1871, Rev. Lewis A. Dunn, of Fairfax, Vermont, was elected president of the institution. In his inaugural address, at the opening of the college year, President Dunn outlined the policy of the school as follows:

“Among the colleges of the West the Central University of Iowa holds only a humble place, but it is strictly Protestant in its character, purely American in its ideas, and will labor to the extent of its power to inculcate the great fundamental principle of religious toleration and national freedom that lies at the foundation of our republican institutions. Having it home in the Valley of the Des Moines, in the heart of Iowa and near the center of the great valley of the West, in a city called Pella, a name rendered classic by its being the name of the city of refuge to which the Christians fled when Jerusalem was being destroyed, and also the name of the capital of Macedonia, the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

“Occupying such a central position and adorning such a city, it hopes to be true to its position and faithful to its high duty and worthy of the confidence of the public. It will provoke no controversy; lay no obstacle in the way of any other institution of learning, but in its own quiet, unpretending way will seek to do all it may be able, to counteract all influences deleterious to the interests of our country or to the Christian religion, and to build up in this great valley the principle of sound education and correct religious faith.”

About the beginning of the present century a movement was started to secure additional funds for the university and in November, 1902, the sum of $19,000 was added to the endowment fund and $7,000 placed in the fund for general purposes. Encouraged by this success, the work of raising $100,000 for the university was commenced in the fall of 1903. In March, 1907, Andrew Carnegie agreed to give $20,000 toward this fund under certain conditions. His pledge was paid in April, 1908, when the college realized its first $100,000 of productive endowment. Another $100,00 addition to the endowment fund was completed in 1910.

The college occupies a beautiful campus in the southern part of Pella. In addition to the original college building, the institution now has a science hall, library and chapel, a gymnasium, a building for academic work, and, as the college is open to young people of both sexes, a women’s dormitory was completed in 1913. While a majority of the students enrolled at the opening of the college in 1914 were from the State of Iowa, there were some from Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado and one from far off California.

Following is a complete list of the faculty for the year 1914-15: John William Bailey, president and professor of biblical literature; John Dillingham Dodson, dean of the college and professor of psychology and education; Elizabeth Adeline Graham, dean of women and professor of English language and literature; Anne J. Sorensen, history and political science; Martha N. Greiner, modern languages; Alpha G. W. Childs, biology; Ralph D. McIntire, chemistry; George L. Kelley, philosophy and social science; F. M. Phillips, mathematics and physics; Ola E. Huston, classical languages and literature; Marie Reynolds, domestic science; Geraldine Aschenbrenner, mathematics in the academy; Clarence Hansen, Latin and Greek in the academy; Charlotte A. Hussey, expression and English in the academy; Fred H. Clifton, director commercial department; Roy T. Brown, assistant commercial department; George Francis Sadler, director of the conservatory of music and professor of piano and organ: B. Worthington Clayton, voice; Elbert Taylor Warren, director of athletics.


As an educational factor the newspaper plays a conspicuous part in the daily life of the American people. Through the publication of special articles relating to the occupations many a man or woman has gained new ideas that have proved to be of practical utility and lasting benefit. The current history of the nation is found in the columns of the modern newspaper, and not infrequently choice bits of literature of a high order reach the people through this medium. It is therefore considered appropriate to include in this chapter some account of the journals and journalists of Marion County.

The first newspaper in the county was the Pella Gazette, which made its bow to the public on February 1, 1855, and was at that time the most western paper in Iowa before reaching the Missouri River, the Des Moines Star having suspended but a short time before. Edwin H. Grant, the editor of the Gazette and a practical printer, came to Pella in the fall of 1854 and formed a partnership with Rev. H. P. Scholte for the publication of a weekly paper. A press and type were purchased and the Gazette was the result. About 1857 or 1858 Mr. Grant severed his connection with the paper, the publication of which was then suspended for a time, but in the summer or fall of 1859 it was revived by S. M. Hammond and edited by Mr. Scholte. From November of that year it was published by Hammond & Honnold until March, 1860, when it was discontinued, the subscription list being transferred to the Knoxville Journal.

In the fall of 1855 William M. Stone, a Knoxville lawyer, purchased the press that had formerly been used in the publication of the Valley Whig at Keokuk and brought it to Knoxville in an ox wagon. About the 8th or 9th of October he issued the first number of the Knoxville Journal, the second newspaper in the county and the first to be published at the county seat. The exact date of the first edition cannot be given for the reason that the office of the Journal, a frame building on the west side of the public square, was destroyed by fire on March 4, 1856, and no copy of the first number can be found. A little later George W. Edwards, afterward managing editor of the Des Moines Republican, came to Knoxville with a view of establishing a paper. He owned a printing outfit and formed a partnership with Mr. Stone, and this firm revived the Journal, which has since had an unbroken existence, though under different names.

After a short time Stone sold his interest to his partner, who in a little while sold it to John M. Bailey. In the winter of 1857-58 Bailey sold the paper to E. G. Stanfield, who employed L. D. Ingersoll as editor. It was next published by Bigelow & Baird and in 1860 passed into the hands of Horner and Honnold, who changed the name to the Marion County Republican. According to Donnel, the Republican was purchased by B. F. Williams in October, 1861, and published by him until August, 1866, when he sold out to W. G. Cambridge. In March, 1867, Cambridge sold the outfit and good will to Sperry & Barker, who changed the name to the Iowa Voter. In this trade Mr. Cambridge took over the Guthrie County Vidette, formerly published by Sperry & Barker.

In August, 1872, Mr. Sperry retired and Mr. Barker continued as sole proprietor until June 4, 1876, when he took as a partner T. C. Masteller, and with the formation of the new firm the name of Journal was restored. Various changes in ownership occurred during the remainder of the nineteenth century and in October, 1901, M. L. Curtis bought the paper from J. W. Johnson. On February 1, 1903, Mr. Curtis took T. G. Gilson into partnership and since that time the Journal has been published by the firm of Curtis & Gilson. It is now in its sixtieth year and is therefore one of the oldest papers in the state. When first established by Mr. Stone, it espoused the cause of the whig party and later became a republican organ, but has never been virulent in its political utterances.

Shortly after the Journal made its appearance the democrats felt the need of a newspaper and in June, 1856, Claiborne Hall began the publication of the Democratic Standard. Unfortunately Mr. Hall was neither an experienced journalist nor a practical printer and he soon discovered that the work of conducting a newspaper required something more than theory. After a few issues of the paper he sold the outfit to a company. In 1858 S. M. Hammond and a man named Remington became the owners, but about a year later they were succeeded by M. V. B. Bennett and C. A. Barr. Late in the year 1860 the latter was succeeded by T. J. Anderson. When the war broke out Mr. Anderson enlisted and a little later the Standard was suspended.

Henry Hospers issued the first number of the Pella Weekblad on September 18, 1861, having purchased the press and material of the old Pella Gazette. It was printed in the Dutch language and was the first Holland paper west of the Mississippi River. In June, 1870, Mr. Hospers was appointed immigration agent and sold the paper to H. Neyenesch, who enlarged it and made it one of the leading Holland-American papers. According to the Iowa Official Register for 1914, the Weekblad is now published every Thursday as a democratic weekly by H. F. Johnson & Company.

Some time in the winter of 1864-65 C. S. Wilson purchased the press and type of the old Democratic Standard and moved them to Pella, where on February 3, 1865, he issued the first number of the Pella Blade. Mr. Wilson was a "breezy" writer and in his first issue outlined the policy of the Blade, which he announced would advocate the principles of the republican party, but "at the same time its columns will not fail to condemn whatever it judges to be incompatible with the public interest or the national honor."

After publishing the Blade for about a year, Wilson sold out to a man named Melick, who removed the office to Waterloo and began the publication of the Waterloo Courier. The Blade was revived soon afterward, however, by R. Crosby and a little later James H. Betzer became associated with him in its publication. In December, 1867, Crosby sold his interest to H. G. Curtis, who sold to A. T. Betzer about two years later. The Betzers subsequently sold the Blade to Mr. Neyenesch of the Weekblad.

The next newspaper in Marion County was the Marion County Democrat, the first number of which was issued by J. L. McCormack on September 19, 1865. The press and type used in printing this paper had formerly been used by the old Alexandria Delta at Alexandria, Missouri, but had been purchased by Captain McCormack and removed to Knoxville. In his salutatory he said:

"It is the intention to make this sheet a welcome visitor to the fireside of every household; to give instruction, to afford pleasure and enjoyment in the perusal of its columns, and, if possible, to bring about a little better understanding in the minds of the people as to their true duties of neighborly citizenship. * * * In politics this paper will support the principles and stand by the organization of the democratic party. It acknowledges allegiance to none other and will pay fealty to the behests of its regular organization alone."

John L. McCormack, the founder of the Democrat, was a native of Madison County, Ohio, where he was born in 1836. He learned the printer's trade in the office of the Ohio State Journal at Columbus, then studied law and in 1855 was admitted to the bar. In the spring of 1858 he came to Knoxville and practiced law until the breaking out of the Civil war, when he entered the volunteer army as captain of Company E, Eighth Iowa Infantry. Later he served as captain of Company A, Forty-seventh Iowa Infantry, until the close of the war. After entering the journalistic field he became prominent in politics; served one term in the lower house of the State Legislature and eight years in the Senate; was once offered the nomination for Congress by his party, but declined, and was identified with the Masons and Odd Fellows. He died at Knoxville on December 29, 1904.

Along in the latter '70s the greenback party became quite strong in Marion County and desired a party organ. Drewry Overton, a wealthy farmer, purchased the Democrat, with the building in which it was published, Captain McCormack entering into an agreement not to publish a newspaper in the county while Mr. Overton was the owner of the Democrat. The new proprietor issued but one number of the paper, when he came to the conclusion that he knew more about farming than he did about editorial work, and leased the office to Minos Miller and J. D. Gamble, who continued the paper for about a year. It then passed into the hands of Mr. Overton, Simon van der Meulen and F. C. Flory and the name was changed to the Marion County Express, the new firm taking charge of the office on January 1, 1880. During the next two years several changes in the management occurred and on January 26, 1882, Mr. Overton sold the Express to Minos Miller and M. S. McGrew, who agreed to pay a certain sum out of the net profits. Mr. Overton received only about sixty dollars and he took back the paper, which was then leased to W. J. Casey and Frank Steunenberg, who changed the name to the Knoxville Express, under which name it is still published, Mr. Casey still being at its head.

In March, 1867, a paper called the Pella Gazette--the second of that name--was started under the editorial management of G. van Ginkle. It was republican in its political opinions, was printed in the Holland language, and continued for about eighteen months. The outfit was then purchased by Snow & Huber, a Pella mercantile firm, who issued a monthly journal for some time to advertise their business.

The next newspaper started in the county was published in Pella and created something of a sensation on account of its name. It was called the Copperhead, and the first number was dated January 8, 1868. M. V. B. Bennett, James D. Gamble and H. M. McCully were the publishers. Donnel says: "The name was evidently chosen to offset the stigma intended to be fixed upon the democratic party by the republicans, when they gave it the name of a most poisonous reptile." Only eleven numbers of the Copperhead were published in Pella, the office being then removed to Ottumwa.

On February 7, 1871, the Marysville Miner made its appearance with the name of J. W. Ragsdale at the head of the editorial columns. It was published by a stock company, which purchased the press and other material at Albia. The second number was issued by D.C. Ely, who succeeded Mr. Ragsdale. After a few years the company was succeeded by C. W. McConnell as sole editor and proprietor. He continued the publication of the Miner until the summer of 1887, when he removed the office to Kansas. Along in the '90s a paper called the Marysville Independent was published for a time, but for want of adequate support it was finally compelled to give up the ghost.

In the summer of 1877 John Y. Harper came to Pleasantville and announced his intention of starting a weekly newspaper, which soon appeared under the name of the Pleasantville Enquirer. It is said that Mr. Harper was addicted to sharp practices, was not a strict observer of business morals, and had started some forty odd papers before coming to Pleasantville. After a few weeks he sold the office to Charles McCormack and William Duncan, two of his printers, who continued to publish the Enquirer until the death of Mr. McCormack in October, 1877, when it was suspended.

Later in the same year R. T. Elson began the publication of the Pleasantville News. In 1880 George W. Bell became associated with Mr. Elson, a new pressed was purchased and the News started on a boom, which proved to be rather short-lived. Subsequently the paper was edited by H. J. Budd until the material was sold to Clinton Price, who removed it to Milo, Warren County.

Early in the year 1880 Capt. J. L. McCormack opened a job printing office in Knoxville. It will be remembered that when he sold the Democrat to Drewry Overton he entered into an agreement not to start another newspaper in the county while Mr. Overton continued to publish the Democrat. When the latter leased his newspaper to other parties, Captain McCormack felt that he was at liberty again to enter the field, and in January, 1881, he began the publication of the Marion County Reporter, a democratic sheet. Some time later he leased the office to Capt. George W. Bell (who had been connected with the Pleasantville News) and W. L. Turney. Bell & Turney were succeeded by Little & McHenry, and still later C. H. Robinson became the lessee. On January 1, 1887, Captain McCormack resumed control and published the Reporter for a few years, after which F. M. Frush and John D. Bates each took turns in its management. In 1903 the outfit was sold and taken to Chariton, Iowa.

The Pleasantville Telegraph began its career in August, 1885, with Rev. L. F. Chamberlin as editor and proprietor. It was at first a five-column folio, but was subsequently enlarged to seven columns. The Telegraph is said to have been a good local newspaper, with "nary politick."

The Pella Chronicle is the successor of the Pella Blade, which was established in the winter of 1864-65, as above stated. In 1901 the Blade and other English newspapers of Pella were united under the name of "The Chronicle," which continued the volume numbers of the Blade, the volume beginning in January, 1915, being numbered fifty-one. The present publishers, Sadler Brothers & Company, purchased the Chronicle in 1903, and since then an entirely new outfit, including presses, a Mergenthaler linotype and other machinery, has been installed. The publishers also issue the Baptist Record, a denominational weekly, which has a wide circulation in Iowa and Nebraska, of which Rev. R.R. Sadler is the editor. The Central Ray, a bi-weekly college paper, is also printed on the Chronicle presses. In September, 1912, William A. Young assumed the editorial work of the Chronicle, and still holds that position at the beginning of the year 1915. Editorially the Chronicle is democratic on national political questions, but it has been outspoken in favor of prohibition, equal suffrage, free trade, the single tax, etc.

The Central Ray mentioned in the preceding paragraph was established by the students of Central University at Pella in the fall of 1876, with S. F. Prouty and Mattie E. Budd of the class of 1877 as editors. It has been published continuously since that time, with the exception of part of the college year of 1879-80, and is a typical college paper.

A paper called the Bussey Banner was started in that town some years ago by S. S. Sherman, who at least accounts was living on a homestead in the State of Minnesota. The Banner was succeeded by the Tri-County Press, published by McDonald Brothers for circulation in the counties of Marion, Mahaska and Monroe, and this paper was in turn succeeded by the Bussey Record, which in 1914 was published by W. H. Moon & Company.

Miscellaneous Publications

In addition to the papers above enumerated there is the Pella Booster, the successor of a paper called the Advertiser, which is one of the live weeklies of the Des Moines Valley. It is an independent democratic paper and is issued every Wednesday by G. A. Stour. The Pleasantville newspaper is called the Marion County News; it is independent in politics, and is issued every Thursday by Thomas E. Caverly. In 1914 the Melcher Union was established and at the close of the year was ably edited by Claude Gates. There is also a monthly religious periodical published at Pella under the name of De Christelyka Uitdeeler, edited by K. Van Stigt; and the Backlog, a magazine published in the interests of the Homesteaders' Insurance Association, is issued monthly from the office of the Knoxville Journal.

Extinct Newspapers

Rev. A. Robbins, while pastor of the Baptist Church at Knoxville, began the publication of a denominational weekly in the fall of 1874, which was called the Baptist Beacon. It was issued from the office of the Journal. Soon afterward Mr. Robbins became pastor of the Pella Baptist Church and removed the office of the Beacon to that city. It finally perished for want of adequate support.

In 1878 Perry Martin issued several numbers of a temperance paper called the Echo of Reform from the office of the Democrat at Knoxville, but it was short-lived.

The Pella Visitor, a weekly republican paper, was started at Pella in 1880 by Shessley & Betzer. After a short but eventful career the outfit was removed to David City, Nebraska, where the proprietors launched the Tribune with better success.

Jasper Nye, in the early '80s, issued a few numbers of a small weekly called the Swan Venture, which was printed in Des Moines. The "Venture" proved to be an unprofitable one for Mr. Nye, who soon discontinued its publication. In May, 1887, J. Y. Stier started another paper in that town called the Swan News, a six-column sheet, but a few weeks later sold out to Jasper Nye, who allowed the News to go the way of his former newspaper in Swan.

In May, 1887, W. P. Gibson and H. J. Budd issued an edition of 5,000 copies of a paper called the Quivive. The expenses were defrayed by the business men of Knoxville; the object of the paper was to present the advantages of Marion County to those seeking a location in the West, and the greater part of the edition was distributed through the Eastern States.

In the early '90s, when the Farmers' Alliance became so strong throughout the West and South, J. R. Norman started a paper called the Knoxville Educator, to advance the principles advocated by the Alliance. As the interest in the Alliance movement waned the patronage of the Educator decreased, and it finally was suspended. At last accounts Norman was running a barber shop in Albia.

Public Libraries

The people of Marion County were a little slow to become interested in the establishment of public libraries, but early in the present century there was an awakening along that line. the Pella Library Club was organized during the winter of 1903-04 and was incorporated on April 8, 1904, with the following trustees: Sara M. Nollen, R. R. Beard, A. C. D. Bousquet, W. H. Lyon, H. C. Payne, L. A. Garrison, Martha Firth, W. J. van Kersen, Herman Rietveld. The membership fee was fixed at $2 and annual dues of the same amount. The articles of association contain the following statement:

"The objects of this association shall be to provide a reading room for the public and to establish a library for that purpose; also a room for entertainment or amusement for members and visitors, under rules and regulations as may be prescribed by a set of bylaws. The library may be obtained by purchase, subscription, gift or bequest."

Miss Siebregje Hierkes Viersen gave a lot on the west side of the public square for a library site and $6,000 for the purchase of books. This donation was made in memory of her father, Heereke Ypes Viersen, a native of Holland, who came with the Holland colony to Pella in 1847, and died in August, 1864. An appeal was then made to Andrew Carnegie, who agreed to give $10,000 for a building. A little later he added $1,000 to his original gift, and the building was opened to the public in December, 1906. At the close of the year 1914 the library was managed by a board of trustees, composed of R. R. Beard, president; H. O. Scholte, vice president; C. N. Cole, P. J. Gaass, J. S. Rhynsburger and George Thomassen. Miss Sara E. Gosselink was then the librarian. The institution is known as the Carnegie-Viersen Library and is one of which the people of Pella are justly proud.

The first movement toward the establishment of a public library in Knoxville was a circulating library sent from Des Moines and housed in the Odd Fellows' Building. A library association was formed in 1909 and a room was secured at the southwest corner of the public square over Steele's bookstore, the members of the association taking turns in acting as librarian. Mrs. S. C. Johnston was president of the first library association; Miss Amanda Elliott, secretary; Miss Ella McClure, treasurer, and Mrs. J. E. Wilson, librarian. Mrs. Wilson did not become librarian, however, until the library was removed from the room over Steele's bookstore to a room in the courthouse.

Early in the year 1911 the library was made a city institution, and Mayor Butterfield appointed the following board of trustees: J. B. Elliott, H. M. Dickerson, C. F. Allen, R. L. Welch, Dr. J. V. Brann, Mrs. George Underhill, Mrs. S. C. Johnston, Miss Ella McClure and Miss Amanda Elliott. This board organized on April 6, 1911, by the election of J. B. Elliott, president; R. L. Welch, vice president; Miss Amanda Elliott, secretary; H. M. Dickerson, treasurer.

The next move was to secure a permanent home for the library. A lot located at the northwest corner of Third and Montgomery streets was acquired, and Andrew Carnegie gave $10,000 for the erection of a building. It is a neat brick structure, with red tile roof, and was formally dedicated on July 1, 1912. At the beginning of the year 1915 J. S. Bellamy was president of the board, and Miss Amanda Elliott was secretary. The trustees at that time were R. L. Welch, H. M. Dickerson, Dr. J. V. Brann, Mrs. George Underhill, Mrs. J. E. Wilson, Mrs. S. C. Johnston and Miss Ella McClure. The library then contained about thirty-five hundred volumes under the charge of Mrs. J. F. Langton, librarian.

Transcribed by Mary E. Boyer, February 2007, reformatted by Al Hibbard 10 Oct 2013