IAGenWeb ~ Decatur County IA ~ Grand River Photo Album, 1881 - 2006



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NOTE: If I had a better quality photograph, I used it instead of the scan from the actual book. I have also inserted some post-2006 photographs.

Grand River Quasquicentennial
(125 years)
1881 - 2006

We on the fun days committee started out to create a calendar, and put a notice in the paper looking for the twelve best pictures.

Little did we know that we would end up with such wonderful photos that we felt we had to share and try to preserve the memories as much as possible. This book is not intended to cover everything. We have done our best at putting together a book that you can enjoy, that will show a little bit of what life was like in 1881 and a little bit of who it is today.

During our research, we have also learned some facts that we feel you might enjoy. We hope this is a book that will stay in your family and you will tell your grandchildren what you remember or what your parents have told you about these places.

We have not included all the family pictures that were give to us as we were really trying to focus on places. Some of the pictures do include people in order to show you that part of our past.

Our sincere thanks to, Karen Thompson and Sandi Stogdill for scanning our pictures. We also thank Dan Riggs for his help in enhancing the photos and his endless advice.

We would also like to thank Ray Bryant, Leo McConnell and Alma Greene (our Grand River historians) for all their memories in helping us identify the pictures (and for the stories that go with them).

This has truly been a labor of love for all our Fun Days Committee.


Grand River Area Trivia

1. How many schoohouses were in Decatur County by 1890?

2. What year did Dr. H. C. Bone come to Grand River?

3. What was the average size of a farm in Decatur County in 1884?
    114 acres, average value of $3750

4. What would be the fare to travel by Pullman (not coach) from Osceola to San Francisco in the 1890's?

5. What date was the first council of Grand River organized?
    December 26, 1899

6. Who laid out the town of Grand River and when?
    E. C. Perkins in 1881

7. What year was the current fire station completed?

8. How many trains a day came through Grand River at the railroads peak?
    4 passenger trains & 2 freight trains came through daily except for Sunday in the 1920-23 time period

9. How much were the yearly telephone dues in 1936?
    $3.00 per year

10. When was the Grand River post office established?

11. What year did the Grand River Rodeo Company start?

12. What year was the first iron bridge constructed across the river 1/2 mile East of town?

13. What businesses was Wood Binning in?
    He mined & shipped Centerville coal

14. What year was Westerville founded?
    1853 by Theron Westervelt

15. What year was the first Grand River Local printed?

16. When was the first school building erected in Grand River?

17. What year was the first Grand River Alumni held?

18. When was the fire that destroyed the E.C. Lamoree Hardware & the Ehle Cafe?
    February 6, 1936 for a loss of $15,000

19. What year was Funktown (Funk's Mill) established?
    Sometime prior to 1853

20. How many cemeteries are there in Richland Township?   Can you name them?
    There are 8 - Grand River, Munyon, O'Grady, Warrick, Westervelt, Westerville, Young, Wheelis (Tennessee)

21. In 1928, how many phones were on the Grand River phone system?
    A total of 204 telephones (76 town phone and 17 farm lines)

22. How many country schools were in Richland Township?   Can you name them?
    There were 8 - Brick, Glenwood (Conwell, Chew), Denham (Dunham), Daughton, Grand River (country then town), Comstock (Union), Liberty (Foland), Westerville

23. Who had the first car with lights in Grand River?
    Frank Bone - A Metz with carbide lights

24. How many country schools were in Grand River Township?   Can you name them?
    There were 8 - Jefferson (Funktown), West Elk (King), Centennial, Union (Elk), East Elk, Center, Diamond, Welcome

25. What year was J-20 paved east of Grand River to Interstate 35?

26. How many cemeteries are there in Grand River Township?
    There are 4 - Millsap (Old Elk), Oak Hill (Funktown), Hazen (Old Funk), Madarasz (Hungarian)

27. What year did a cyclone destroy the Center school in Grand River township?
    April 11, 1892

28. What year was Grand River incorporated?

29. What year was the gymnasium added to the Grand River school?

30. What was the size of the gymnasium floor & what was it made of?
    71=4' x 32' The floor was made of asphalt tile

31. What is the elevation of Grand River?

32. Where is the old telephone switchboard housed?
    At Great Western Bank branch office in Grand River

33. What year was Ruth & Royal Boles hired as managers of the Grand River phone company?
    September of 1943

34. What year was Iowa admitted as a Sovereign state?
    December 28, 1846

35. What date was the last train through Grand River?
    December 29, 1945

36. What was the first talking movie shown in Grand River?   When?
    Al Jolson in "The Jazz Singer"    1927

37. What year did the Westerville post office close?
    November 15. 1904

38. When was the first election held in Grand River?
    March 26, 1900

39. Why is Charles E. Perkins name on many abstracts in Grand River?
    He had prior knowledge of where the depot would be built, and bought up the choice land and sold it back as lots

40. Who was the first Mayor of Grand River?
    Patrick Griffin


The railroad section has to be the first in this book, as Grand River was founded and laid out in 1881 for the purpose of laying out towns along the route of the Humeston & Shenandoah Railroad.

One of the highlights of the Railroad history was when President Teddy Roosevelt made a whistle stop speech in 1903 when he was campaigning for re-election. People lined the tracks almost to the river & souvenirs were made by laying hatpins, safety pins, and coins on the rails to be run over by the train.

Crane loading or unloading heavy equipment from the train.

In the first 10 months of 1887 Grand River shipped: 26,782 pounds of butter, 33,014 dozen eggs, plus cream & chickens. Also that year there were shipped 1620 hogs & 257 head of cattle.


NOTE: The smallest child, in the back, is Nelson Shields. He is standing between his sister, Lucille (Shields) Boles and his father, Oscar Shields. The man at the very top on the right is Bert Stark (Noel Stark's uncle). The [county board of] supervisors at the time were: W. H. Campbell, C. W. Carr, T. Morris and T.E. Leeper. It is believed that the man standing in front at the left is Mr. Leeper.

NOTE: bridgehunter.com identified this bridge as the Euritt Bridge, "Built in 1882 by Phoenix Iron Company of Philadelphia PA and erected by Daniel and Webster of Garden Grove IA. . . . The main span is a 126' seven-panel wrought iron Pratt through truss with a 13' roadway; 18' high. [In 1995, bridge is] intact but appears to be closed to traffic."

Note the town pump (with bucket & drinking cups). The Opera House upstairs with a hardware business downstairs. The clothing store closed around 1920 & the building was used for a grocery store. Since 1942 it has been tavern and pool hall. (Patty's Back Door Bar & Grill in 2009.)

Pictures of West Side of Broadway Street

West Side of Broadway Street - Then and Now

Fire destroyed DE. C. Lamoree Hardware & Ehle Cafe on February 6, 1936 for a loss of $15,000. The space was never rebuilt. It was used to show outdoor movies and as horseshoe pits by Well Taylor and many others.

NOTE: Robert Jimmerson built a new station located east across the street from his former station, pictured above.

Pictures of East Side of Broadway Street

Corner of J-20 and Broadway Street

Northeast Corner of Broadway Street

1981 Centennial Pictures


Old Businesses in Grand River

Inside the old businesses

Grand River Park

Old Homes of Grand River

NOTE: Both the school house (left) and Wood Binning's home (right) were destroyed by fire in either 1894 or 1895.


Roberts Mill at Westerville in 1879


The Dekalb House was built in 1868 by Dr. Benjamin Dekalb, a Virginia physician who moved to Iowa following the Civil War. In the above photograph, Elizabeth and Fred Burchett are standing in front of the house, April of 1917. Harve DeKalb lived in one room of the house.


Barns in the Grand River area

This barn was built by Joseph Crees in 1859 of hand-axe hewn timbers with mortise & tenon joints where they joined one another & are fastened by hand-whittled wooden pins.

The barn was erected on roughly squared limestone blocks, presumably quarried from bedrock along the nearby riverbanks.

Some of the cross-members & tie beams overhead are whole logs, hewn only at the ends, still retaining their bark. The planks were joined to the mow frames with square iron nails.

From Iowa Barnagain Foundation site, 2005: "Pre-Civil War Barn on the lovely Grand River was built by Joseph Crees, Pennsylvania native, who lived in a log cabin east of the farm site before building a home and a 'large commodious barn for his stock and grain.' Hand-whittled pins were used to join the frame pieces. Known as the VanLaar barn, it is now owned by the Steve McClallen Family. "

TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: The book lists 5 captions but there are only 4 photographs. A few of the last four captions may identify the photograph incorrectly.
The 5th caption was for Reese Boles barn.

Unfortunately, barns are becoming hard to find. Who doesn't remember putting hay in the haymows, playing hide and seek, and swinging from the barn rope?



NOTE: This church has been called the Union Church.

Our Second School House; the year 1895 appears on the portal

F. X. White, General Contractor of Eldora, IA, built a new high school and grade school building at a cost of $25,000. George Lloyd was president of the school board and T. T. Beck, secretary. 39 school bond coupons were issued at $12.50 each. $487.50 was paid to Geo. M. Bechtell & Co. of Davenport, IA. The new school house was dedicated on December 7, 1916.

NOTE: Grand River Community Center now occupies the former site of Grand River Schoolhouse

School Time Play

Country schools in Richland Township were:

Brick    Glenwood (Conwell, Chew, Cashen)
Denham (Dunham)    Daughton
Grand River (country, then town)    Comstock (Union)
Foland (Liberty)    Westerville

Click on name of school above to view that particular webpage;
click on your browser's 'back' button to return to this webpage.

Richland Twp. section of Decatur County Quilt showing schoolhouse sites
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum, Leon IA

Country schools in Grand River Township were:

Jefferson (Funktown)    West Elk (King)
Centennial     Union (Elk)
East Elk    Center
Diamond    Welcome

Click on name of school above to view that particular webpage;
click on your browser's 'back' button to return to this webpage.

Grand River Twp. section of Decatur County Quilt showing schoolhouse sites
Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum, Leon IA

Country Schools

Westerville School, 1929; closed in 1949

School Kids

Girls Sports

Boys Sports


Miscellaneous Pictures


Arts & Theatre

News items from the Grand River Local

Financial Statement

Clerk's Statement of Town of Grand River for
the year ending March 31, 1934

     From tax levy
Balance on hand April 1, 1933. . . . . . . . . . .
 (tied up in closed Fst. Natl. Bank) 
. . . . . . . . . . .
     From cigarette licenses. . . . . . . . . . .
     From fines, fees. . . . . . . . . . .
     From sale of municipal property. . . . . . . . . . .
     Total. . . . . . . . . . .
     City officials. . . . . . . . . . .
     Printing and stationary. . . . . . . . . . .
     City hall & other buildings. . . . . . . . . . .
     Police department. . . . . . . . . . .
     General expense. . . . . . . . . . .
     Street lights. . . . . . . . . . .
     Miscellaneous. . . . . . . . . . .
     Warrants outstanding April 1, 1933. . . . . . . . . . .
     Total expenditures 
   Less warrants outstanding Mar. 31, 1934. . . . . . . . . . .
 . . . . . . . . . . .
     Balance on hand March 31, 1934. . . . . . . . . . .
(tied up in closed Fst. Natl. Bank)

W. B. Day, out going Clerk

* * * *


  • Mr. and Mrs. John Taylor celebrated their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary Sunday, September 7, with a basket dinner.

    Those present were: Mrs. W. Wadsworth, Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Plummer and Kenneth and Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Williams, of Centerville, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Williams and Mary Marie, of Albia, Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Wadsworth and family, of Colfax, Mrs. Mary Tillotson, Ada and Lester Tillotson and Mrs. Bernice Carper and sons, of Osceola, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Wycoff and family, Charles Hukill, Mrs. Stella Brammer, Marion and Sandra, Mr. and Mrs. Russell Adams and Laura, Mr. and Mrs. Well Taylor and Randall, Dale Taylor and Shirley Schooler.

    We join their many friends in wishing Mr. and Mrs. Taylor many more such happy occasions.

    * * * *

    Volume No. 33

    Cecile Glazebrook and Harland Adams Wed

  • Miss Cecile Glazebrook, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Vern Glazebrook, and Harland Adams, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Adams, were united in marriage Saturday morning, February 18, at Leon, Iowa.

    The bride wore a teale blue dress and the groom was attired in a dark blue suit. Both young people are well known and have the best wishes of the community.

    * * * *

    Office Rules 1859

    1. Office employees will daily sweep the floors, dust the furniture, shelves, and show-cases.

    2. Each day fill lamps, clean chimneys, and trim wicks. Wash windows once a week.

    3. Each clerk will bring in a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day's business.

    4. Make your pens carefully, you may whittle nibs to your individual taste.

    5. This office will be open at 7 A. M. and close at 8 P. M. daily, except on the Sabbath, on which day it will remain closed. Each employee is expected to spend the Sabbath by attending Church.

    6. After an employee has spent 13 hours of labor in the office, he should spend the time reading the Bible and other good books.

    7. Every good employee should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years.

    8. Any employee who smokes Spanish cigars, uses liquor in any form, gets shaved at a barber shop or frequents pool or public halls will give me good reason to suspect his worth, intentions, integrity, and honesty.

    9. The employee who has performed his labors faithfully and without fault for a period of five years in my service, and who has been thrifty and attentive to his religious duties will be given an increase of 5 cents a day in his pay providing a just return in profits from the business permits it.

    Those who would us feel, must feel themselves.

    * * * *

    Nothing breaks up a class reunion faster than for members to point out to their wives that the youngest looking man there is a bachelor.

    * * * *

    The empty vessel makes the greatest sound. - Shakespeare.

    2005 Fun Days Parade

    Contributors of pictures:

    Gene Binning  Barry Baker
    Ray Bryant  Lynne Daughton
    Stacey Dietiker  Bob Davis
    Mary Davis  Ralph Evans
    Alberta Foland  Alma Greene
    Wesley Griffin  Halcyon Jimmerson
    Jimmie Lee  Leo McConnell
    Hazel Moren  Goldie Stark
    Rosemary Stark  Joy Crees Weir

    Sponsored by
    Slade-O'Donnell Funeral Home Inc.
    Richard - Connie - Bill - Ruth


    Click on image above and then magnifying glass icon to view enlargement;
    click on your browser's 'back' button to return to this webpage.


    NOTE: If I had a better quality photograph, I used it instead of the scan from the actual book.

    Transcription and notes by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2015


    NOTE: Many people have generously opened up their photo albums and collections
    to graciously share with us. Please extend the same courtesy back to them ~
    ask for permission from the coordinator of this site before you "borrow" these images. Thank You.