News Items From Montgomery County Newspapers

 Collected by Dessie Mae [Johnson] Bollier (1886-1960)
Submitted by David H.  <>


The news items found on this page were collected over the years by Dessie Mae [Johnson] Bollier.  Dessie collected the newspaper articles and other news items of interest to her after leaving Red Oak, Montgomery County, Iowa and moving to Smithville, Texas.   


Red Oak Express, Thursday, 10 August 1953

Page C-One

Ax Murders At Villisca Unsolved

Several Confess, None Convicted

Montgomery county was the scene of the most brutal mass slayings in the history of this county and the case remains unsolved despite numerous "confessions" and trials.
The Villisca ax murders is the case referred to.  On the night of June 9, 1912, eight persons were killed with the family ax in the home of Joe Moore, Villisca hardware merchant.
Slain were Mr. and Mrs. Moore, their four children, and two daughters of Joe Stillinger, Villisca, visiting in the Moore home for the evening.
Naturally the case gained nation-wide attention and did for many years as investigation continued.  Several person made confessions and several trials were held, but no convictions resulted.  In practically every case the confessions were by publicity seekers.
As recently as 1951 confessions to the murders were made.  The latest was in August of 1951 when a 71-year-old Negro at Torrance, Calif. made a confession, our investigation revealed no basis for the confession and the case continues a mystery.


Red Oak Express, Date unknown

County Named for Richard Montgomery

Montgomery count was so named in honor of Richard Montgomery, who was killed in Canada during the Revolutionary war while leading an expedition against the British.
Born and educated in Ireland, he served in the British army for a number of years gaining the rank of Captain.  After giving up his British army commission he settled in New York City.
When the Revolutionary war broke out he became a brigadier-general in the American army and was killed Dec. 26, 1775 in the Canadian action.  Among those serving under him in that engagement was Aaron Burr.
The first contract for paving Red Oak's streets was let in March 1902. 


Red Oak Express

Red Oak Speech by President McKinley

President William McKinley and three members of his cabinet visited Red Oak Oct. 13, 1898.
The 25th president and his party were greeted by about 3,000 persons when the special train arrived about noon.
Cabinet officers accompanying the president were Iowan James Wilson, secretary of agriculture; Lyman P. Gage, secretary of the treasury, and Charles E. Smith, postmaster general.
President McKinley's reference to the late Darwin R. Merritt, Red Oaker who died aboard the battleship Maine in Havana harbor, loc---his speech.
Excerpts from his remarks were; "I'm glad to be at the home of that gallant young hero who went down in the harbor of Havana.  His memory will be sacredly guarded by his neighbors and fellow citizens and will always be held in remembrance by a grateful people."
The president's train also stopped at Villisca and other towns along the Burlington railroad.



First Court Term At Frankfort 1856

According to The History of Montgomery County the first term of district court held in the county was Nov. 17, 1856 at Frankfort with District Judge E. H. Sears on the bench.
Amasa Bond was clerk, L. C. Cook sheriff and Joseph Zuber deputy sheriff.
Grand jurors present were William Dunn, I. N. Poston, William Dinwiddie, John Bolt, Tyra Stafford, James Robertson, Isaac Coon, R. M. McMellon, Henry Kerns and William Stipe.
The first two cases handled were debt actions brought in by change of venue from Taylor county.



Salvation Army Relates History 

'Heart to God Hand to Man' 

By Lts. Norma Reynor and  Thelma Young

January, 1924, marked the establishment of the Salvation Army in Red Oak.  The Army's first building was an old Presbyterian church on Hammond street near the site of the new high school gymnasium.
In 1925 rooms in the Gilmore building on Fourth street were occupied for 10 years.
Mrs. Nellie Haines made possible the building of the Army's present building at 310 Market street in 1935.
The local corps was considered a Scandinavian until 1936 when it was designated as an American corps with Iowa division headquarters in Des Moines.
The Salvation Army's building recently was redecorated inside and out with money provided by a Montgomery county resident who wished to remain anonymous.
The three-fold program is carried on by the Salvation Army.  It is religious, welfare, and character building.  The Army's motto is "Heart to God and Hand to Man."

 Pioneer Officers

Pioneer officers of the local corps were Major Skoglund, Captain Lindquest, Captain B. Reed, Ensign Helm. Lieutenant Samuelson and Captain Asp.
Since 1940 these officers have been in charge:
Major Sadie Roettger, Major Anna Patmor, Capt. Dorothy Britton, Lieut. Kathleen Wilson, Capt. Jane Evans, Capt. May Hodgeman, Capt. and Mrs. Herbert Bowe, Capt. and Mrs. George Clifft, Capt. Clara Spargo and Capt. Dorothy Brown.
Lieut. Norma Reyner and Lieut. Thelma Young are the present officers in charge.



Blue Lodge Is Oldest in City

Lodge Founded On Nov. 4, 1861

Red Oak lodge No 162 A. F. & A. is the oldest organization in Red Oak.
The Blue Lodge as it is known, was founded on a dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Iowa by Grand Master Thomas H. Benton, jr., Nov. 4, 1861--about seven months after the outbreak of the Civil War.
John W. Patterson, the first master of the lodge is credited with starting the movement which resulted in its establishment.
Charter members of Red Oak lodge were John W. Patterson, G. A. Gordon, J. M. Hewitt, William Dunn, W. W. Merritt, Charles Bolt, John Ivens, Isaac Davis, William Focht and R. M. G. Patterson.
The frame building on the south-east corner of the square in the present-day location of Spurgeon's store was used as the first Masonic hall.  Early minutes show the buying of pine boards for benches and of expensive curtains for the windows.  Monthly rent was $1.50.
Meetings were held in this building until 1870.  C. H. Lane had built a three-story brick building on the west side of the square where the Sundell Shoe Co. is today.  The third floor was rented by the Masons for $250. a year.  The lodge continued in this location for 15 years until the present Masonic Temple was built at Fifth and Coolbaugh street June 24, 1885.  The cornerstone of the new temple was laid Dec. 18, 1882 under the supervision of W. H. Hunter, worshipful master.



Frankfort Served As County Seat

Most important of the now obsolete Montgomery towns was Frankfort which served as the county seat from 1854 until 1865.  At one time three doctors resided there.
Frankfort, according to Merritt's history, was never more "than a cluster of buildings."
Included were several residences, a few stores, blacksmith shop, school, and courthouse.  Most were torn down and moved soon after Red Oak became the county seat.



Bolt Shoe Store First Opened 1894

In 1894 L. A. Schwinn and B. D. Bolt opened the Bolt & Schwinn Shoe store in Red Oak.
The store was first located on the northeast corner of the square in what was known as the Miller block.  Ten years later, Bolt bought Schwinn's interest and change the store name to B. D. Bolt.
A. L. Peterson became a partner in the store in 1907 and the store became knows as Bolt Shoe Co.  Articles of incorporation were filed in 1909 by A. R. Tracy, B. D. Bolt, R. H. Turner and A. L. Peterson.  In 1914 the store was moved to the north side of the square--the location it occupies today.
Peterson bought Turner's interest in the store in 1916.  A fire in 1929 wiped out the store and its stock of goods.  Efforts of Red Oak firemen saved the telephone office and switchboard that occupied the second floor in the same building.
In the fall of 1929, A. L. Peterson restocked the store and became the sole owner, retaining the name Bolt Shoe Co.

Red Oak Express, Date Unknown

Some Early Facts Found in Montgomery County History

Merritt's History of Montgomery county says Montgomery county was organized under a state legislature bill of 1850 which created organization of Montgomery and several other southwest Iowa counties.
In 1851 the county was surveyed.  There were then some half dozen families living within the county boundaries.
Two years later a legislative act included Montgomery and Adams counties together for revenue and tax purposes and the first election held in the county was that year--1853.
First settlers in the county is credited by Merritt as being John Ross, a Kentucky native, who in 1849 settled a short distance east of the present location of Villisca.  A year later his brother, James, became the second settler with the third settler honors lying between Ezra Healy and John Stafford.

In 1851 and 1852 some dozen men and their families took up residence within what later became Montgomery county boundaries. 

First Election

First election held in Montgomery county, according to Merritt's history, was a caucus held in April, 1853, in a log cabin.  Results are not available.
Merritt reports the first regular election was in August of that year in the home of John Harris in Dunn Settlement on the west side of the Nodaway river about six miles north of Villisca in what is now the Tenville locality.
Eighteen votes were cast with 12 Democrat votes and six Whig.  The county's political history is said to date from that election.  At that time the county was all one town shop and Sept. 13 that year a township elections was held at the Dunn home.
First warrant issued by the county was Dec. 30, 1853, allowing Wells Sager $5.50 in salary for his services as assessor for 1853.  John W. Patterson was appointed county treasurer and Sager and Patterson served as a board of equalization of assessment.
Their 1854 list of assessments valuations included land at $1.50 to $2.50 per acre, horses $20 to $75 per head, oxen $50 to $100 per head, all other cattle $10 to $40 per head.
In July, 1854, the county was split into two townships--Jackson and West.
First marriage license issued in Montgomery county is listed as Jan. 20, 1855, to Samuel McNaley and Martha Elizabeth Donoho.  In that year Frankfort and Douglas townships were created and in 1861 the first regular county board of supervisor meeting was held.
In that eight-year span 1853-1861 the county had made rapid settlement gains.


Red Oak Express, May 1943

Cadet Jack Smaha, who was rescued in the south Atlantic when the merchant ship, Staghound was torpedoed, will arrive home Friday to visit his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Smaha.  He will be on a 10-day leave.


Red Oak Express

Some of Red Oak's Earlier Industries

Red Oak has had a number of industries that have since passed out of existence for one reason or another.
Some of the early ones included as follows:
A pottery established on West Coolbaugh in the 1860's by Webster Eaton and his brother.
A brewery built in 1870 and which went out of business with state wide prohibition.
Joseph F. Fisher's hog packing business started in the '70's; the George B. Brown iron foundry and machine ship which also included a carriage making business; Red Oak Canning Co. which started in 1902.



Houghton Bank Founded in 1879

 Three Presidents In Bank History

Red Oak's Houghton State Bank was organized here in 1879 with H. C. Houghton sr. as president.  The third Houghton generation is now serving as bank president and the bank has remained in the family since its founding.
First located in the building now occupied by the Faunce store, the bank in 1898 moved to the south-east corner of the square in the site now occupied by the building owned by Edwin Engquist.  Burned out in the 1902 fired, the bank building was rebuilt.  Since 1940 the bank has occupied its present quarters at the southwest corner of the square.
Founder H. C. Houghton sr. served as bank president from 1879 to 1925.  His son, H. C. Houghton, jr., was president from 1925 until January of this year and is now chairman of the board.  He has been a member of the bank staff since 1906.
Deemer Houghton, eldest of four children of Mr. and Mrs. H. C. Houghton jr., was named bank president in January of this year.  Another of the Houghton sons, Cole, is one of the two vice-presidents, along with O. N. Hultman of Stanton. 

Board of Directors

The board of directors, includes H. C. Houghton jr., Deemer Houghton, Cole Houghton, O. N. Houghton, H. L. Herkert, R. J. Swanson and R. C. Kipp.  All are Red Oakers except Hultman, Stanton, and Kipp, Elliott.
The bank operates an Elliott branch managed by R. C. Kipp, board of director member.  At Red Oak, Vivian Nelson is auditor and C. Lester Anderson cashier.  The bank has 20 employees, including the Elliott branch.



An Artz Drug Store Since '89

 David Artz Was The Store Founder

Ever since September, 1889, there's been an Artz Drug store in Red Oak on the east side of the square.
David Artz came to Red Oak from Donnellson in Lee county and held pharmacist's license No. 122.  He first called the firm D. Artz Drug store--a name it held until the business was incorporated in 1908 as the Artz Drug Co.
The firm's early officers were David Artz, president; B. W. Casey, vice president and treasurer; Clara B. Artz, secretary.
Some of the early-day personnel included Ernest Collins of Malvern, Chester Reed, uncle of Clara Reed of Red Oak, and Will Casey, brother of Ed T. Casey, now manager and owner of the controlling stock.
Registered pharmacists who formerly were employed by Artz Drug Co. and now owning their own stores are Don Criswell of Oakland, Harry Slickerveer of Glenwood and Paul McKenzie of Red Oak.
The first 1c sale was held in 1910 when the company was first designated as a Rexall Store. 

Unsolved Slaying

An unsolved slaying occurred in the store in the early morning of Jan. 5, 1933.  Will Casey was shot by an unknown assailant and died later that night.  Casey's widow was Kate Reifel, sister of Mrs. Ivan Ellwood of Red Oak.
David Artz was active in the drug store until his death at 89 in 1945.  Two daughters, Louise Artz and Adalyn Artz, continue to own and interest in the store.
Among the advertisements of the first calendar printed by Osborne & Murphy Co. in 1899 was one bought by the D. Artz Drug store.



Valley Encampment Charted in 1875

Valley Encampment No. 76 of the I. O. O. F. at Red Oak was chartered April 21, 1875.
Charter members were M. T. Anderson, chief patriarch; E. Kretchmer, high priest; H. Pegram, senior warden; Ira Pickett, junior warden; H. C. French, W. H. Evans, D. B. Miller, A. McConnell, Z. T. Fisher and Smith McPherson.
The encampment meets at 8 p.m. the first and third Friday of each month.  Otto C. Pierson is not chief patriarch.



Railroad Service in County Since 1869

Montgomery county has had railroad service since 1869.  The main line of the Chicago Burlington & Quincy reached the eastern order of the county that year and by the end of the year the line had been built to Red Oak.  Later the branch lines were added.
Original grants of county lands to the Burlington railroad totaled 95,000 acres, or roughly one-third of the county.