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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


     Bertha Swanker was born in Afton, Iowa on June 29, 1891, the daughter of Charles Swanker and Laura Sharts Swanker. She received her education in Lorimor, Iowa. On July 16, 1913 she was married to Frank G. Evans. Frank Evans was the son of James and Ellen Evans, a long time Red Oak family. They established their home in Red Oak where they eventually became parents of three daughters, Frances (Mrs. Marion Evans), Marjorie (Mrs. John Graves), and Beth (Mrs. Fred Seeman).

   Bertha Evans was a partner and assisted her husband in his beverage distribution business. On his death, she became a partner and business associate with her son-in-law, Fred Seeman, until her retirement in 1971.

   Mrs. Evans was closely associated with the Business and Professional Women of Red Oak and served in many capacities including its presidency. She also maintained a special interest in the Easter Seal program and was its county chairman for several years. She was a member of the First Congregational Church of Red Oak. Friends also remember her for her handicraft, especially her crocheting. She was active until her death on February 6, 1982, maintaining her own home and driving her car every day until her 90th birthday.



  Hulda Maxell Gustafson, the daughter of Ludwig Gustafson and Kristine Fjorst Munson, was born in Smoland, Sweden, on December 18, 1885. Hulda was only three months old when her widowed mother and three small children came to America from Sweden and located at Stanton, Iowa. Her mother supported the family as a seamstress. When Hulda was 12 years of age she came to Red Oak and worked in the home of Mrs. Gordon Hayes until her marriage on April 10, 1907 to David Falk.

   David and Hulda had six children: Roy M., Grace, Helen, Ruth, Dorothy, and Mary. Hulda was active in Farm Bureau and 4-H work; she was a 4-H Club leader for 15 years. She did volunteer work for the Republican Party and served on the election board for Grant Township in Montgomery County. She also was active in the First Covenant Church.

  Hulda Falk organized the first hot lunch program for the Red Oak school system and was hot lunch supervisor. She died October 11, 1971.



      A little girl who was to become one of Red Oak's most successful entrepreneurs was born in Broken Bow, Nebraska October 19, 1886 to Mr. and Mrs. James Stevenson. She was married to Harry E. Faunce, who for many years was the chief desk clerk at the Hotel Johnson in Red Oak (site of present Houghton Bank).

   Bertha Faunce started operating stores in Brookfield, Chilicothe and Kirksville, Missouri before coming to Red Oak. She started with a millinery shop in Red Oak about 1918 and in 1921 purchased the millinery department of Robinson's Department Store located on the west side of the square. She later moved to 307 Reed Street, opening a ladies ready to wear store. In 1933 she purchased the former Farmers National Bank building at 601 3rd Street. In keeping with her good business practices, she purchased this building at government auction.

   As time passed Mrs. Faunce invested in farm land throughout the county until at the time of her death she had about 1,400 acres of farm land in this area. She was for many years the taxpayer paying the largest dollar amount of taxes in Montgomery County. She was interested in conservation and introduced soil conservation practices on her land. Bertha Faunce carried out a full scale farming program including cattle and hog feeding and breeding and operated several dairy herds. She took correspondence courses in farming from Iowa State College and Nebraska and Missouri Universities.

   For her outstanding farm practices, Mrs. Faunce received a number of awards, among them the Montgomery County Soil Conservation District's Pioneer Conservation Award.

   Bertha Faunce was known to be independent, with a mind of her own in making her judgements. When the new gymnasium at Third and Hammond was built, she bought the houses on the block which were to be displaced, moved them to the north edge of town on her farm land, remodeled them into apartments, resulting in an area of rental units known thereafter as "Faunceville." (These were demolished after her death when this parcel of land was sold.)

   Although she lived simply in the apartment above her clothing store and always opened the store for business herself, working there until her last illness, Bertha Faunce, who started business as a milliner, died leaving an estate to heirs worth millions of dollars.

   Bertha Faunce was a friend of the Girl Scouts, allowing them to use some of her acres for several years for camping. She was a member of the First Christian Church and of the Altrusa Club. Mrs. Faunce died on April 27, 1978.



      Sara Morrell was born in Caroline Center, New York in 1860 and was married in Red Oak May 7, 1878 to Milton E. Fisher. Milton Fisher had come to Red Oak in 1869 with his parents and established the early meat and grocery wholesale firm, Fisher and Son. The Milton Fishers had three children, Henry Joseph Fisher, Margaret Fisher and Glendon Morrell Fisher.

    The Fisher family eventually lived in the two story home at 710 Reed Street. The T. C. Morrell residence (the home of Sara's parents) at 701 Coolbaugh is pictured in the 1901 booklet, 'Red Oak at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century'. Later, following the death of her husband, Sara Fisher made her home with her brother, Mr. Morrell.

   Sara Fisher was a member of the first Board of Directors of the Red Oak Monday Club 1896 and she was also on the first Board of Management of the Mayflower Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, organized in May of 1897 with a membership of 15. She served on the first Board of the Red Oak Public Library beginning in 1908.



   Kate E. Smith was born on April 20, 1889, the daughter of a pioneer Montgomery County family. Her parents were Bertha Rupp Smith and S. Elmer Smith. Kate Givan's grandfather, Samuel Masterson Smith, came to Grant, a community then known as Milford, in 1856. There he ran a store and built the mill on the Nodaway river Her father, Samuel Elmer Smith was born in the county in 1862, and in his later years he wrote about his life and times here.

  Kate was born in Grant, graduated from Grant High School in 1905 and was married to Clark William Givan on February 11, 1911. She spent her life as a farm wife and a community leader in farm affairs. She was the author of many publications and pamphlets for the extension service and the 4-H clubs, and wrote historical accounts about local people. Kate Givan served as a member of the Montgomery County Board of Education and was named Montgomery County Homemaker in 1954.

  Mrs. Nellie Lenz of Elliott is in possession of S. E. Smith's writings and Mrs. Gerald Schuler of Grant has a complete set of pamphlets Kate Givan wrote for the Extension Service. Kate Givan died on June 12, 1981 at the age of 92, having lived in and contributed to this community for her entire life.



     Frances Gohagan, born in Red Oak on April 25, 1871, was the daughter of Thomas Gohagan and Emma Aldrich Gohagan. She was educated in the Red Oak schools and for a time was a buyer for Brandeis Department Store in Omaha, Nebraska.

  For many years she was co-owner and manager of Morrell's Inc., Women's Apparel Store in Red Oak. Morrell's was an exclusive, up-to-date shop worthy of an urban setting. It provided designer clothes in the 1920's and '30's to the women of the community. Frances retired from her work in 1938.

  She was a member of the board which organized "Ladies of Montefesto", a cultural and artists' group which served to bring the farm and town people together. It was organized first about 1912. Many public spirited people participated in the festival, two of whose names are also mentioned in this volume; Helen Dearborn and Dorothy Houghton.

  Miss Gohagan was a member of the Congregational Church and the Country Club. She was a charter member of the Altrusa Club of Red Oak. She died November 19, 1956.


   Anna Hamilton (Mrs. Jesse) was renowned in early 20th Century Red Oak for her ability to find lost articles. Many people attest to her power to use tea leaves to see where missing or lost articles could be located. It was said that she laid her ability to being born in March--the month of the Fish, and the birthtime of those who had occult powers. Mrs. Hamilton did not "tell fortunes" or predict the future but only consulted on the finding of lost things.

   Ralph Spencer of Red Oak relates an occasion on which his family consulted Mrs. Hamilton. "My older sister had been to a church social east of town and left her new coat in the buggy of the young man with whom she came to the social. When they came out the coat was gone. My father went to see Mrs. Hamilton and she told him where the house was in which the coat was hidden after it was stolen. He got the sheriff and searched the house and the coat was there. It was badly rumpled but was "ok" after being cleaned. Also, Mr. D. A. Artz, a druggist in Red Oak, lost a valuable watch. He went to Mrs. Hamilton and she said she could see the watch under a pile of hay in a dark basement. In those days drugs were packed in boxes in excelsior or wood shavings to keep them from being broken when shipped. Mr. Artz found the watch in the basement under a pile of excelsior. It had dropped from his pocket, apparently, when he was unpacking some bottles of drugs." 

   Mr. Spencer also writes, "The way she operated was to brew a cup of tea with all the grounds in it. She would stir up the contents of the cup and look in the cup and said that she could see what she was looking for in the tea grounds. People came from all over this part of Iowa to consult her."



   Rebecca Hanna was born in Lawrence County, Indiana and graduated from the Medical Department of the University of Iowa March 4, 1874. After graduation she first settled at Burlington, Iowa and came to Montgomery County about 1879, according to Merritt's History. Very little information about Dr. Hanna is available today. She regularly advertised in the Red Oak newspapers. One advertisement from the Red Oak Sun of January 6, 1893 says "Rebecca Hanna, M. D. Physician and Surgeon. Office one block north of State Savings Bank. All calls answered promptly, day or night, town or country



   Addie Clark, daughter of Rosa Shirk Clark and Benjamin B. Clark, was born in Red Oak October 14, 1873. She was graduated from Red Oak High School and attended Vassar and Radcliffe Colleges. She taught school in Red Oak until her marriage on December 27, 1900, to Gordon Hayes. Their children were Virginia, Alice, Charlotte Douglas, and Mary.

   Addie was a member of the Library Board, active in the work of the Red Cross, and a member and director of the Montgomery County Welfare Board. Her special interest was in helping the blind. She was the first woman member of the Red Oak School Board, serving from 1927 to 1933.

   Addie Hayes was a charter member of the Monday Club and served as its president in 1936-37. During her term she was instrumental, with Dr. Velura Powell, in establishing "well baby" clinics throughout the state. She also started a campaign to put a red oak tree in every yard in town; 16 were planted in Legion Park.

   An active member of the Congregational Church, she taught Sunday School there for many years. She was, at the time of her death, district chairman of the Scholarship and Loan Committee of the Iowa Federation of Women's Clubs. She died November 29, 1941.



    Anna M. Hebard was born December 28, 1814, in Bridgewater, Mass. She lived to be 100 and in 1915 was the oldest resident of Red Oak. She was married in 1837 to Colonel Alfred Hebard. They had a daughter, Mary and a son. The Hebards built one of the beautiful homes in Red Oak at 801 Hammond. They donated College Park lo the town. Anna was a charter member of the Congregational Church. Her husband did the preliminary survey of the Burlington Railroad. Anna died November 7, 1915, just a few weeks before her 101st birthday. On her 100th birthday she gave a new copper penny to each guest.



    Nell Wever, born July 17, 1875, in Montgomery County, was the daughter of Orin and Sarah Thompson Dietrick Wever. Nell worked as office attendant in the office of the elder Dr. Reiley. She also worked for the Osborne rend Murphy Company. While teaching school in Montgomery County she met Luther Hines, whom she married August 9, 1899. Their daughter is Marjorie Hines Isaacson. Nell Hines had many interests; she was active in the Methodist Church, the Farm Bureau, and 4-H work. She was chairman of the Home Department of the Red Oak Monday Club. Mrs. Hines died October 10, 1956.



   Dorothy Deemer was born in Red Oak March 1 1, 1890 to Jeannette Gibson Deemer and Judge Horace Emerson Deemer. She was graduated in 1912 from Wellesley College and the same year married Hiram Cole Houghton. Their four children are H. Deemer, Cole H., Clark and Joan Houghton Williams.

   Red Oak records show that Dorothy Houghton's community activities began soon after she was married. She is noted as one of the early organizers of the "Montefesto Festival" begun about 1912 as a town and county festival of the Montgomery County community. She served on the board of the Red Oak Public Library and became president of the Red Oak Monday Club. She later became president of the Iowa Library Association and chairman of the board of trustees of the American Library Association. She was a member of the First Congregational Church.

   Mrs. Houghton maintained her strongest and foremost interest in women's club work and she became president of the lowa Federation of Women's Clubs in 1935-37. She was one of the organizers in Red Oak of the local branch of the American Association of University Women, and helped to form a chapter of the United Nations Association during the 1960's. In 1950-1952 she became president of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, an international organization of 11 million members. During those years she traveled extensively throughout the world. Later she became the deputy-director of the International Cooperation Administration of the United States government.

   She served on such international organizations as the national committee of UNESCO, the board of UNICEF and the Tolstoy Foundation. In 1956 she was the co-chairman for the National Citizens for Eisenhower, and following those duties she became a member of the advisory board of the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization. One of her greatest satisfactions came from her 12 years of service to the state as a member of the Iowa Board of Regents supervising Iowa's state institutions of higher learning.

   With Mrs. Houghton's encouragement and guidance, Ada B. Hysham gave to the people of Red Oak, through the Red Oak Monday Club, the lovely home at 800 Reed Street which is used for meetings, various community affairs and private functions.

   At the age of 82, Dorothy Houghton died in her home town of Red Oak March 21, 1972. It could surely be said that for all of her life she was an energetic, enthusiastic and tireless organizer.



    Opal Lungren was born in Page County, Iowa December 10, 1912 to Adolph Nathanial Lungren and his wife Emma Mainquist Lungren. She attended Omaha University at Omaha, Nebraska and was a graduate of the Executive Secretary School there. She married Dr. Eugene B. Ingmand, a veterinarian, on November 23, 1932. For a brief time, prior to her marriage, she was a credit officer of the Universal Credit Company, subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. During World War 11, while Dr. Ingmand was over seas in Europe, Opal was office manager in Omaha to Carl Wilson Company, large defense housing contractor.

   Opal was a dedicated community volunteer and homemaker in Red Oak. As an organizer of outstanding ability she contributed her time and energies to many civic projects and concerns. Some of the groups which profited by her involvement include: The Republican Party of Montgomery County--chairman of the third ward, and county chairman; Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Brownie Leader; co-chairman United Fund Drives; vice chairman-Altar Guild, Bethlehem Lutheran Church; and president of the Hospital Auxiliary. She was also an active member of the Veterinarian Auxiliary.

   Many people enjoyed her lovely garden of roses, and the generosity with which she shared her bouquets to parties and civic events during the summer seasons. Her culinary abilities were legendary in the community. An active and beloved citizen, Opal Ingmand died after a brief illness April 20, 1982.