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A Short History of Ackworth Institute
Source: Newspaper Article (unknown date & paper)
Location: Warren County Historical Library
Author: Dr. J. W. Morgan, first postmaster at Ackworth

I have been requested by the Ackworth Cemetery Improvement Association to write an account of the beginning of Ackworth Institute.

In the year 1868 the writer, then living in Warren County, Iowa, called a meeting of all those interested in education to be held in Old South River Meeting House of Friends, five miles east of Indianola. At that meeting it was decided to make an effort to establish a school of academic grade, and to erect a new building on the ground where the old South River house then stood.

It was an old wooden uncomfortable structure, without paint inside or out, and very uncouth in appearance. Plans for ways and means were set on foot to raise the necessary funds, and J. W. Morgan proposed that they call the school Ackworth Institute, a namesake for Ackworth School in England, the first school ever established by Friends, a work so often advocated by George Fox.

Three years previous J. W. Morgan had secured the establishment of a post office here and called it Friends Grove. He was its first post master and kept

the office in his house. The mail was carried from Oskaloosa to Indianola by stage daily, sometimes it would be late coming in and he would be called from his bed to take it in. When the school was decided on and its success assured, he got the name of the office changed to Ackworth; and later the name of South River quarterly meeting of Friends was also changed to Ackworth, not without some opposition from some of the older member who were averse to changing long established names; but when it was shown that a town would be surveyed and platted bearing the same name as the school and post office, they consented to the change.

It was decided by the board of directors to erect a brick building 40 x 6- two stories high, with four rooms on first floor for class rooms, and one large room on the second floor to be used for church meetings, etc. After a hard struggle and much effort, enough money was raised to assure the building. The bricks were made  and burned on the ground where the building was to be erected. In the presence of the writer and other members of the board, Nathan Craven laid the first brick for the new building,

and with the help of other workmen it was rushed to completion.

I wish in this connection to congratulate and thank the friends and citizens of Ackworth for the noble work and loving interest in caring for the last resting place of our loved friends. When I first saw the graveyard in 1861, that you are now so nicely caring for, it was surrounded with a rail fence with a gate on the west side. The graves were not numerous, very irregular, with none on the east half of the plot.

In the fall of 1870 the school was opened under the principalship of Prof. John W. Chawner, and Miss Lila Trueblood, assistant; Prof. Chawner coming in the school from Indiana. The Institute flourished for several years and many young people availed themselves of its advantages in preparation for college and the usefulness of life. In 1908 the building was remodeled and made to better accommodate the Meeting. The writer does not know any of the promoters of the school who are now living except himself. I left there over forty years ago, but have a warm spot in my heart for the place, as my wife and both my parents and many dear friends are buried there.

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