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Looking Backward
By Faye Grunder

Transcribed by Elizabeth Casillas, April 17, 2015

    I came to Wilton with my father and mother in 1905 when I was 15 years old. Things were quite different at that time. We were living three miles north of Muscatine on a farm on No. 38. The “old Plug” ran from Muscatine to Wilton through our pasture. When I went to drive the cows up to be milked I’d see the train and wish I could ride on it sometime. I finally did on December 11, 1905. Boarding at Summit, mother and we four children came to Wilton on it to what seemed like another country. We moved into the house now occupied by Jake Davies which is across the street from the Zion Lutheran Church. It seemed very nice to me.

     Wilton had all board walks at that time, which was, of course, an im…

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Picture: City Meat Market – Courtesy of Melroy Thede
This was located on the south side of the 100 block west on 4th Street. In the picture are (from left) William Claussen, Mr. Godske, Mr. Jepsen and George Jacobs.

…provement over what we were leaving. The street lights were lit at night by someone who blew them out later, leaving the town in darkness for the remainder of the night. We burned lamps for light in our home.

     (Editor’s Note: from The Wilton Review, Oct. 22, 1885)
     “We are glad to know that the efforts to secure a limited number of street lights for this town is likely to prove successful. Twenty-four lamps are now the number talked of, but it is hoped that more can be provided for. The funds for purchasing the lamps are being raised by subscription and after they are procured the city proposes to put them up and take care of them. City Marshal Duncan will entertain any who wish to contribute to this laudable enterprise. Some, in order to ensure the placing of a lamp just where they want it, have volunteered to pay for one lamp in place of donating a certain sum of money. It is a good plan, and doubtless others would be granted a like privilege.”

    Wilton Review – Nov. 5, 1885 –
     “Fifty-four dollars have been subscribed for the purpose of street lamps. More money will furnish more lamps.”

    The church bells rang out on Sunday morn from all the churches. There were two Lutheran, a Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and Grace Reformed Church. When all those six church bells started to ring on Sunday morning it was a welcome sound. We never hear it anymore. Also, the schools had bells. There were the Lutheran school, the public school and the academy bells which rang on week days. (Editor’s note: from Wilton Review, April 28, 1881 “The tone of the academy bell is D flat; of the new school bell E or E flat; of the M.E. bell, A; of the Presbyterian bell A flat.”)

     The German-English College and dormitory were in use at that time. During the summer months the college building was used as a normal school. The county Superintendent gave courses for anyone…

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Picture: Looking north on Cedar Street in the 1920’s – Courtesy of the Star Drug Store

Calling Cards
By Mrs. Helen Smith

    Our town, not being large enough for a regular “at home” day, it used to be the custom for the ladies to put on their best, start out with their card cases, and “make calls.” If the weather was fine and other ladies were occupied the same way, when no one answered your ring you put your card under the door and went to the next place on your list. This took less time than if your friend had been at home and you could make more calls, or in other words, “Get more duties performed” The calls were supposed to be short, but even so, I remember when more ladies called at the same time than I had chairs for.

     “The latest novelty of calling cards is to have a picture of Independence Bell printed in the corner thereof. It is neat and suggestive.” The Wilton Review, March 23, 1876.

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