Montgomery County Home         Biography Center

Women of Montgomery County, Iowa

Women of Montgomery County, Iowa" was edited with a committee which included Betty McKenzie, Ruth Anne Draper and Elizabeth Richards. Printed in 1982 by the Nishna Valley Printing Co., Red Oak, Iowa 51566.

Permission was given by Bettie McKenzie to include the text of this booklet online


        Hulda Peterson was born in Burlington, Iowa, on August 30, 1881. Her father was Nels Peterson and her mother, Mathilda Johnson Peterson. She was graduated from Red Oak High School in 1899 and was married on February 8, 1903, to A. Joseph Anderson. Their children were Harold M., Lucille Kruwell, and Ethel Betsinger (deceased).

        Mrs. Anderson was active in various phases of church work in the Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Red Oak, Iowa. She taught Sunday School for 30 years, she served as president of the local Women's Missionary Society for seven years, served as president of the Southwest Iowa District for six years, and was named Iowa Conference Women's Missionary District Mother of the Year in 1954. While serving as District President she was made an Honorary Life Member of the Women's Missionary Society. She died on November 24, 1957.



        Addie Artz was born in Donnelson, Iowa on May 8, 1881 to David and Clara Artz. She graduated from Red Oak High School and Iowa State Teachers College. She taught in Waverly, Waterloo and Red Oak before undertaking nurses training during World War I. Upon completion of nurses training at Evanston Hospital in Evanston, Illinois she became a college nurse at Winona State Teachers College, Winona, Minnesota. It was there she became interested in Girl Scouting and attended leaders training classes at Briar Cliff, N. J.

       Plagued by a series of illnesses Addie returned to Red Oak. With the help of other interested women she introduced Girl Scouting here. She conducted classes for leaders, and was herself a troop leader for a number of years. Addie and her sister Louise were among the many active women who especially enjoyed each others company, community activities, and the new freedom women found in the period following the passage of woman's suffrage. She was a member of the History Department of the Red Oak Monday Club and of the Presbyterian Church. Addie Artz died in Red Oak on August 11, 1958.



       Louise, the daughter of David and Clara Artz, was born June 30, 1888. She provided the Red Oak community with music, both as a performer and teacher, from the time she was graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio until shortly before her death on February 22, 1970. After her graduation from Oberlin with a degree in music, she returned to Red Oak to live with her parents in the family home. She taught piano students not only in Red Oak, but also in Malvern, Emerson, and Elliott. Her father, a druggist, bought an Empire touring car which she drove to call on her students. She was a charter member of the Altrusa Club, and a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Red Oak. When the present church building was constructed she served as pipe organist for a year, donating her services as her contribution to the building fund. She kept in contact with many of her students throughout the years. One of her former students recalls her zest for living and remembered that she attended her seventy-fifth birthday party wearing knickers! With her sister Addie, Dr. Dearborn, and other of their active friends, she camped in a tent, fished, and enjoyed the outdoors.



       Emily Merritt Barnard came to Frankfort with her family in 1864, no doubt because her brother, W. W. Merritt, was established there. She taught the Frank fort school for one winter at least. The class included her five-year-old daughter Kate. In 1866 her husband, John W. Barnard, bought a one room cabin and skidded it 8 miles east to Sciola. Emily was appointed postmistress there June 20, 1866. However, her tenure lasted only until July 19, 1866. The Barnards appear in the Sciola history again when John is appointed postmaster October 26, 1869. They kept the post office, store, hotel, and probably stage stop in a two-story all-walnut building. In that time of scarce money the store was primarily a trading place; accounts show customers charging groceries, farm supplies, hay, grain, lumber, seed, and livestock, even cash loans, and paying their accounts with all kinds of produce--molasses, honey, game, fish, livestock, wood, and labor. This establishment Emily Barnard continued to operate--trading post, post office, hotel, and stage stop--after the death of her husband in the '80's. Occupation of her "retirement years" is indicated by her obituary which states, "She will be greatly missed by the sick and afflicted ones among whom she was a constant visitor." Emily died February 5, 1892.



      Nell Bishop was born in 1873 and died in Decatur, Iowa in 1962. She was a graduate of the Chicago Art Institute. Nell Bishop was the first art director for the Thomas D. Murphy Calendar Company, starting in the late 1 800's. The Thomas D. Murphy Company originated and produced the first art calendar in the United States in the year 1889. Nell was an accomplished artist who drew the designs and layouts for the art calendars. She was also noted for china painting.

       Nell Bishop contributed the cover design for the booklet "Red Oak, at the Dawn of the 20th Century," now a collectors item, which tells about the Red Oak community and pictures homes and street scenes of 1900. She also did the cover of "Just a Glance at Red Oak," a 1913 booklet. Both booklets were published by the Red Oak Community Commercial Club.

       Miss Bishop was a member of the First Congregational Church and the Altrusa Club. Her assistant at the Thomas D. Murphy Company was Estelle Priest whose biographical sketch is also included in this collection.



      Bonnie Elwood was born in McCook, Nebraska, the daughter of Mary E. Williams Elwood and James A. Elwood, on September 4, 1886. She was graduated from Red Oak High School in 1905 and was married to Frank J. Boll on June 7, 1907. Their children were William E. and Elizabeth (Mrs. Rissler). In 1905-06 Bonnie worked at Thomas D. Murphy Company, and in 1906-07, with "The Sun" newspaper in Red Oak. From 1907 to 1939 she was a homemaker; in 1939 she became publisher and editor of "The Sun." Bonnie was Past Matron of the Order of Eastern Star. She was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Altrusa Club, Federated Women's Club, and Congregational Church. She was active in political work for the Democratic Party. Her hobby was collecting vases and miniature articles. Bonnie Boll died in Red Oak, May 12, 1980.



      Sally Bond came to Frankfort, Montgomery County, in 1856, with her husband, Dr. Amasa Bond from Hamilton County, Indiana (probably her birthplace). Dr. Bond was the first practicing physician in the county. Their log home was one of the half dozen buildings in the new county seat town. Perhaps because it boasted two rooms, the first township election was held there, and also the first two annual sessions of district court. The latter involved Sally Bond furnishing meals to everyone--judge, jury the first year, itinerant lawyers and court officers, and literally "putting up" the travelers of the group in her loft! Her first summer here she fed sixty or seventy of Jim Lane's Kansas emigrants when they nooned on their trek from Sciola to Silkett's mill. Although her husband seems to have been much loved by the community, he may have been somewhat of a trial to his wife--he was reputedly unconventional and even untidy in appearance; for example, wearing shoes only on necessity. The Bonds had four children, Jacob, Ellis, Amasa and a daughter Phebe, Mrs. Armstead Milner. Two of the sons went to the Civil War as a result of the influence of Jim Lane's Kansas migration and the strong union and anti-slavery sentiments. One source says both sons died in the war. The Bonds of present day Frankfort township and Red Oak are direct descendants.



      Anna Thomsen was born December 21, 1885 in Charter Oak, Iowa, to Thomas and Elizabeth Petersen Thomsen. She was graduated from Charter Oak High School in 1904 and Jennie Edmundson Hospital School of Nursing in 1908. She was married to Bernard Boyle and they had a son, Donald, who is a retired merchant in Red Oak. Anna entered service at Ft. Des Moines, Iowa, September 23, 1918. She had the flu before embarkation and was treated in a crowded hospital in New York City where orange crates were used as bedside tables. She served six months overseas and upon her return to the U.S., landed at Newport News, Virginia, July 2, 1919.

      Anna was the first nurse in Iowa to join the American Legion after World War I. Anna stated in an account of her war service years that nurses were not given military ranking until after World War I. She held a Red Cross certificate signed by President Woodrow Wilson. A Red Cross overseas nursing pin was finally presented to her after being held in a file for fifty years. She gave many mementos to the Red Oak Public Library. Her nephew, James Pickens, an attorney in Cedar Rapids, Iowa has her papers. Anna Boyle died on April 10, 1977.



     Mary Frances Hunter, the daughter of John McChesney Hunter and Emma Tobin Hunter, was born September 5, 1885, three miles east of Red Oak. She was graduated from Red Oak High School in 1903 and attended summer sessions at Drake University in Des Moines. On February 26, 1908, she was married to Andrew Gemmel Brown. Their children were Mary Jeannette, James Hunter, and Robert Gemmel. Mary Hunter started her teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse 2 1/2 miles northwest of Coburg, known as the l-X-L school. From the fall of 1904 through spring of 1906 she taught in Riverton, Iowa, and from fall of 1906 through spring of 1908 she taught in Avenue B Elementary School in Council Bluffs, Iowa. For a period of 40 years between 1920 and 1960, Mrs. Brown taught junior and senior boys in the Sunday School at the United Presbyterian Church in Red Oak. For many years she collaborated with local probation officers, concentrating on improving the lot of underprivileged boys. She was an avid supporter of the American Lung Association, and devoted much effort over the years in promoting their cause. The Current Topics division of the Monday Club was for years one of her favorite projects. Mary Brown died February 23, 1977.



   Carrie Gilman Carey attended Colorado College in 1893, then Smith College and the University of Chicago. She and her husband' Charles E. Carey, had a daughter, Margaret. Mrs. Carey ran an emergency hospital in the Masonic Temple Building during the World War I influenza epidemic. She was a member of the Congregational Church and served as church clerk for many years. She was especially interested in missionary work, and served on several boards at state and national levels. She was a member of the first board of trustees of Murphy Memorial Hospital. As secretary of the board, she kept minutes of the meetings in a striped silk bag. She also served on the Montgomery County Welfare Board. The Careys built the brick house at 710 Broad Street. In 1942 they moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Carrie was honored for her work with the YWCA. She died in Colorado Springs in 1945.


      Rosa Shirk Clark was born April 20, 1858, in Greensburg, Indiana. She was educated at Vassar College. On July 7, 1886, she was married to Benjamin B. Clark (president of the Red Oak National Bank). Their children were Philo Clark and Addie Clark Hayes. In March of 1893; Rosa joined the Congregational Church by confession of faith. She became president of the Ladies Aid Society and assistant superintendent of the Sunday School. In 1894 she and Mrs. J. M. Junkin called a meeting which resulted in the formation of the Monday Club. She was an early president of the Monday Club, especially interested in improving civic conditions. Village improvements of the Monday Club included installing the clock in the court house and putting cement walks in College Park. Mrs. Clark served on the Board of the Iowa Federation of Women's Clubs for seven years and as its treasurer for five years. She was also Secretary and Treasurer of the General Federation of Women's Clubs. While serving as national treasurer, she heard that the Boy Scout movement was being organized in the United States. She returned to Red Oak from Washington, D. C., in January of I 9 11 with this information. Rev. George E. Wood then organized a Boy Scout troop in Red Oak. Rosa Clark died May 12, 1927.



      Myrtle Eleanor Murphy was born October 7, 1872, in Monroe, Iowa, to Hugh Montgomery Murphy and Caroline Dowler Murphy She attended Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls. On April 9, 1895, she married William Cochrane. Their children were Anna Cochrane Lomas, Josephine Cochrane Turner, and Frances Cochrane Crofts. Myrtle was active in the women's work of the Methodist Church in Red Oak. She was one of the first Worthy Matrons of the Order of Eastern Star. Her contribution to the war effort during World War I was to teach women how to preserve surplus vegetables by canning. She and Mrs. Harry Maloney conducted a cooking school on the east side of the square. Myrtle was an expert in all of the household arts. She died May 1 3, 1924.



      Lena Pilkington was born August 23, 1873 in Monmouth, Illinois. She came to Red Oak at the age of 3 years with her parents, James J. and Mathilda M. Butterfield Pilkington. She lived in Red Oak her entire life, attending the Red Oak schools. June 3rd, 1903 she married George Pendleton Cole and they became parents of five children, Margaret Cole Bazar, Arthur Cole, Grace Cole Caldwell, Georgia Cole Nye and Ruth Cole Edwards.

      During her lifetime she became an active leader in women's clubs, the church, political and school life of the community. She was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1933, the first woman from Montgomery County to have this honor. She was also the first woman to run for the Red Oak School Board. She was a member of the Red Oak Monday Club and a lifetime member of the First Congregational Church.

      One of the highlights of her career was the time she spent in Honolulu. Shortly after the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands, she spent a year in the employment of the United States Government, from 1900 to 1901. She also had been employed as a hand type setter for the "Red Oak Sun" paper.

      As a homemaker and mother much of her social life centered around her home, her family and her church. Lena Cole died February 24, 1935.



     Nora Kretchmer was born in Des Moines County, Iowa on November 15, 1864, to Iowa and Edward Kretchmer. She came to Montgomery County when she was four years old. Her father was a farmer, bee-keeper and the first postmaster of Coburg. She was married to Charles Collard in 1889. Mrs. Collard was a member of one of the early school boards in this county and was a member of the first Red Oak Public Library Board, serving from 1907 to 1927. She was also a member of the Iowa State Historical Society.

      Nora and Edward Collard were parents of four children, Clark, Allison, Allen and Mrs. Marion Powers. She died in Denver, Colorado, February 28, 1947.



 Gladys Cooper was born in Lonia, Michigan, November 20, 1883. She was the youngest of a family of three boys and four girls of Mary Stuart Cooper of New Brunswick and Samuel Cooper of England. Dr. Cooper graduated in 1908 from the University of Michigan Medical School, one of five women in the class. She interned at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. At the University of Michigan Dr. Velura Powell of Red Oak met Dr. Cooper and they became good friends. When World War I began Dr. H. S. Rogers left for military service and Dr. Powell persuaded Dr. Cooper to come to Red Oak to take over Dr. Rogers' practice and to live at Powell School on Oak Hill, which Dr. Powell had established.

      In December 1917 Dr. Cooper's office was above the Red Oak National Bank Building, (the present site of the Montgomery County Bank). In 1943 Dr. Cooper and Dr. Dearborn, D. D. S. officed in the old hospital building on 4th and Washington Avenue.

      Dr. Cooper made her early calls by horse and buggy, and would go out on calls day or night. Even when other doctors would not go, she would hitch her horse up at night in a snow storm and go when called. One time she was on a maternity call in a blizzard and was snow bound for four days. Dr. Cooper was generous in her service to the community and was in turn idolized by her patients. She was exceptionally kind and helped people whether they were able to pay or not. She put some young people through medical school.

     In 1942 Dr. Powell sold the Powell School to Riley Nelson and Dr's Cooper and Powell moved their residence to 710 Broad Street. In 1950 after retiring from practice, Dr. Cooper lived with her nephew Neil Cooper at Platzburg, New York. She passed away January 5, 1979.



     Minna Hawkins was born in Stanton, Iowa on November 28, 1881, the daughter of Swan Hawkins and Anna Gabrielson Hawkins, Stanton pioneers. She graduated from Stanton High School and finished her formal education with a degree in music from Northwestern School of Music in Evanston, Illinois. She was married on June 18, 1902 to Elbridge Marshall Coppage, a Stanton banker. who died in 1949.

     As a musician, Mrs. Coppage was a blessing to the whole community of Stanton. She studied piano and voice at the Northwestern School of Music in Chicago. After her marriage she often substituted for the Mamrelund Church organist, either on the piano or the pipe organ She was instrumental in bringing the first presentation of "The Messiah" to Stanton, rehearsing the various sections of the chorus in her home before turning them over to a professional director for the public concert. Mrs. Coppage was involved in church activities all her life.

     She organized the first Women's Federated Club in Stanton, and served as its president for several years. She was a charter member of the Literary Club, served on the County Welfare Board, and was often called upon to judge flower shows. The Coppages traveled extensively in Europe, both in 1911 and 1913, and were widely known for the hospitality of their home. At 92 years Mrs. Coppage died on August 29, 1974.

     The Coppages had two daughters who both live in Stanton, Helen Coppage Kirkeberg and Jeanne Coppage Honette. There are four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.



     Helen Dearborn was born on August 4, 1879 in Red Oak to Mary Ellen Dow and Thomas Horace Dearborn. She was graduated from Red Oak High School and from Southwestern Dental School with a D. D. S. In her dental class of 1904 she was one of six women in a class of 155. She later reported that the "teasing by the men was something awful". She opened her dental practice in Red Oak in June of 1904 and practiced until her death March 1, 1957.

     Helen Dearborn was an avid photographer, and pioneered picture taking in Red Oak capturing many of the early scenes and pioneers on film. She liked to fish and hunt and was a lover of the outdoors. She was among the first women to own and drive a car, having bought a Dodge touring car in November, 1914. Her nephew, Leavitt Dearborn, says that owning a car in those days was unusually hazardous because gasoline for the car was delivered by a horse-drawn wagon and stored in the barn.

     Dr. Dearborn was active in many of Red Oak's community organizations including being a charter member and first president of Altrusa Club, the First Congregational Church, an organizer of the Montefesto Festival, life member of the Iowa Dental Society, and member of Alpha Upsilon, women's dental fraternity. In May of 1954, Dr. Dearborn was the guest of honor at the 92nd annual session of the Iowa State Dental Society in Des Moines in recognition of her 50th anniversary as a practicing dentist.



      Xenia DeLaney was born in Villisca to J. W. DeLaney and Ella Manchester DeLaney, Villisca pioneers, on June 8, 1892. Her grandparents were William B. DeLaney and Nancy who came from East Tennessee to this area in 1854.

      Xenia DeLaney was educated in Villisca schools and went to work for the telephone company soon thereafter. She was on duty the night of the Villisca axe murders in 1912 and testified at the Grand Jury hearings in 1917.

      Her work with the telephone company continued and she moved to Marshall, Minnesota as a district supervisor for Northwestern Bell. There, about 1929, she married Paul Dowhower who died in 1937. About 1932, Xenia returned to Villisca and in the early 30's she began work as head of the county Social Services Department. She filled this post with distinction throughout the depression years and World War II period. Xenia DeLaney Dowhower died in Red Oak, June 16, 1976.