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Letters and Newspaper Articles
Emmet County IAGenWeb

This page is devoted to letters and correspondence of early Emmet county settlers.

Dr. A. Ivey Had Bad Accident In Office On Saturday

A very peculiar and serious accident happened to Dr. A. Ivey at his office last Saturday about one-thirty in the afternoon. Dr. Ivey was undertaking to put a light bulb in socket in his office. He got out a stool and raised his foot up to put to it on top of the stool in order to reach the light socket. He says he does not believe his foot reached the top of the stool when the leg on which he was bearing his weight broke and gave way. He fell to the floor and someone coming to the office called for medical aid. He was assisted down the stairs and rushed to the Birney hospital.

A picture was taken of the limb and it was found the bone was broken just below the knee. The fracture was a peculiar one. The large bone was broken slanting clear across. Then there was a shorter break which left a V shaped piece where the two breaks came together.

The Dr. will have to remain in the hospital for a time but everything going well it may not be so long before he will be able to about on crutches.

Source: Estherville Enterprise, Estherville, Emmet County, Iowa, Wednesday, December 4, 1929.

Miss Nora Marie Harker Presents Pupils In Recital

Miss Marie Harker and her pupils gave another of their popular musical recitals on Monday, December 2. They are always pleasing to the lovers of music and especially to the mothers of the pupils who are under Miss Harker’s supervision. The following are those who took in the recital:

Marion Kennedy, Genevieve Horswell, Lenore Heneman, Jane Stockdale, Betty Merrun, Mary O’Rourk, Florence Norby, Donabelle Blerton, Evelyn Norby, Mary Rhodes, Elizabeth Rhodes, Maurine Robb, Mary Jeanelle Rainy, Gretchen Raife, Eloise Burt, Betty Parson, Harriet Osher.

Source: Estherville Enterprise, Estherville, Emmet County, Iowa, Wednesday, December 4, 1929.

Brawfords In Bad Automobile Wreck Saturday

Mr. and Mrs. John Brawford were in a bad auto accident last Saturday evening just this side of Armstrong. Mr. Brawford was driving their new Ford Sedan when they struck some loose gravel. The car swerved toward the ditch. Mrs. Brawford took suddenly hold of the wheel and the car turned into the ditch and turned over. Mr. Brawford was not badly injured. Mrs. Brawford did not fare so well as she sustained injuries about the head which has kept her confined to her bed since the injuries.

The car was badly wrecked. The top was damaged. Two wheels were torn off, the radiator was badly twisted and there were some other damages to the car.

Source: Estherville Enterprise, Estherville, Emmet County, Iowa, Wednesday, June 19, 1929.

November 23, 1921


Former Editor Of The Northern Vindicator Writes Of The Pioneer Days


Many of the Old Time People and Residents Recalled-First House in Estherville Was Ridley dugout near the Round House

Davenport, Washington November 15, 1921

To The Editor:-

In July 1858, the writer of this was sent from camp on Section 23, Township 100, Range 34 W. 5th P.M. to Estherville on an errand. The only house was a dugout which stood near where the Railway round-house is now located. A knock on the puncheon door brought Mrs. Esther Ridley with the inquiry, "What do you want, little boy?" For more than 30 years after that time Emmet County was my home but it is difficult to pick out from memory very many of the important details of a generation of early life.

In April 1874, I purchased of Hon. Frank A. Day a one half interest in the Northern Vindicator. Established in 1868 it was the pioneer in its field. Without knowledge of the business mechanically or otherwise as I look back over the years it seems to have been on my part a fool-hardy move which from a business stand-point under the conditions then existing and which were to continue as subsequent events proved, could only result in failure.

The "fly in the ointment" in those early days was the presence of the grasshopper although we were ignorant of the damage that could be wrought by the pest. Coming from the plains of the southwest in June 1873, the plowed fields were filled with eggs, developing in early spring. In May 1874, there were myriads of the young and the fields were as bare as they possibly could be. The National and State governments took notice of the devastation. Adjutant General Baker visited the area on the lookout for possible cases needing relief, and there was an officer of the regular army who appeared taking evidence for the war department of the amount and character of the damage wrought.

Almost immediately the exodus began among the farmers and homesteaders of small resources. Some of the people returned to the older parts of Iowa and to other Eastern states. Many went west to the Pacific Coast; Sibley was the nearest railway point and very many bade farewell to friends and associates from that station. The exodus continued until late in 1877 and until the country was well nigh depopulated.

To the newspaper man, this condition of affairs became irksome. The list of papers printed shrank to fourteen and a half quires seven column folio, one side patent furnished by the Chicago Newspaper Union, the bills for which are silhouetted on my brain to this day. One a week with a statement at the end of the month. One year, nothing grown on the farms flourished except hubbard squashes, wagon loads of which were turned in on subscriptions. Of course we could no eat them or sell them, just throw them on to the dump. During this depressing period of business, Charlie Dillman came into the office as a beginner and he surely saw the rough side of the profession at the very outset.

Right here I want to say that Mr. Dillman came into my family as a member, lived with us, held the babies and we formed a friendship that so far as I know has come down to the present without a break. However, it was not all gloomy. Life long friendships were made. There was an editorial convention at Spirit Lake where we met Hon. J. F. Glover, a Wisconsin graduate, who died not long since at Sibley; Hon. Geo. C Chamberlain, a veteran of the Civil War, of Jackson; Hon. A. B. Funk, now head of the Iowa Industrial Commission; and his associate J. A. Smith, long since-deceased, singly or together the strongest young men in the profession in Iowa. Then there was a famous spelling school in which several college graduates took part and were taught that a college diploma did not aid in spelling English as "she" is written; then there was a season in which a group led by A.O. Peterson had nothing to do but play croquet. A Fourth-of-July performance must be mentioned which left its promoters to pay the bills, and which they tried to recoup by hiring a derelict circus performer to give and exhibition, sword-swallowing; etc. The promoters, who imagined they were nicely hidden under the hay, were dumbfounded to hear the fellow introduce himself by expatiating to a fair audience the value of the performance saying "It was only to help Mr. Peterson and Mr. Jarvis who lost out in the Fourth of July Performance that he consented to appear at all."

An attempt was made to establish a Masonic lodge during this period; Capt. Soper fitted up a hall in the Wescott building on Des Moines St.; application was duly made to establish "Great Hope" Lodge. B. B. Van Stenberg of Spirit Lake was sent to examine the hall for lodge purposes and promptly announced it wholly unfit.

There is a local in the old files of the paper somewhere telling about the bravery and skill of on of the young lady school teachers, living on the west side of the Des Moines river which as a turbulent stream in those days. She was to teach school on the east side and rather than make the long detour to the bridge she procured a boat and morning and evening literally paddled her own canoe. It is well enough to say right here that the young lady teacher was Miss Arvilla Pike who afterwards became the wife of Ho. Frank Davey and is now living in Salem, Oregon.

During the Civil War, I was detailed on special duty, and in the course of events I heard a group of Iowa officer and prominent civilians discussing public matters in the State, and I remember one of them said that the war governor, Hon. Samuel J. Kirkwood's great ambition was to represent Iowa in the United States Senate.

A long time afterwards, when I was snubbing along in the newspaper office, that remark came to me during a preliminary campaign for election of a United State Senator. As all the newspapers had a candidate, I thought to be in fashion and brought out the name of the war governor. It seemed to be like a stick of dynamite among the pressmen as he had not been considered as a candidate of prominence. Jake Rich of the Dubuque Times had a candidate; Al Swalm of the Fort Dodge Messenger was supporting Gen. W. W. Belknapp then Secretary of War; I think the Des Moines Register was astride the fence. Anyhow, after a week or so a gentleman, E. R. Kirk of Sioux City, came into my office and said that I had forestalled some of the politicians with my article; that it was very pleasing to Gov. Kirkwood and that he desired my company at the meeting of the legislature in order to help elect him to the Senate.

I don't suppose I was ever so large and swelled up as I was upon the conclusion of this interview. I went to Des Moines upon the meeting of the legislature, became acquainted with very many of the leading men and especially remember Hon. Geo. D. Perkins of the Sioux City Journal, a man for who I always had the highest esteem. He carried a musket during the civil war and at its close had taken up his chosen profession and made it a grand success, and he was always my ideal.

And I remember the efforts made to maintain good morals and spirituality of the community. A colony of Baptist families settled near Spencer before the grasshopper raid and for a time all the religious pabulum for our settlement was furnished from that source. The elder Mr. Coates and his son, Romanzo, were men of the finest type of character. They seemed to have financial resources sufficient to weather the hard times period. Rev. Ziegler, of the Methodist society starved out, and Rev. J. W. Plummer of the same society later saved himself by going into politics and getting a county office. So far as I know none of these gentlemen ever returned to the profession. Ziegler became a railway mail official and the last I knew of Plummer he was practicing medicine in a little town in southeastern Idaho.

I have given but a glimpse of life as viewed from the standpoint of one most heartily interested during a period of depression in Northern Iowa that compared with this deflation period following the great war, makes the latter seem as mild as a Sunday School picnic.

The experience, however, supplemented by another of like character some years later in the same office, cured once and for all your humble servant of the newspaper fever though I must confess that for a long time the fancy flitted through my mind that when I passed over the world would lose a fine specimen of editorial timber.

They tell me that in some cities in southern California there are more Iowa people than people from any other state. Be that as it may, Iowa to me is the banner state. There I spent the best years of my life; there I married almost fifty-six years ago the woman who still stands by my side; there all my children were born; there one is buried. To me, it will always be the ideal home.

C. W. Jarvis

Contributed by: Francine Smith.

C. W. Jarvis Pays Fine Tribute To Old Friend
Tells of Association With John Barber During the Early Days of This County

Editor Democrat:

Have just received a copy of your paper containing the announcement of the death of my old time friend and neighbor, John A. Barber. The memoir of his life written by Dr. Frank Barber it seems to me is one of the best bits of that kind of literature I have ever read. It may be because the life of the subject tallied to exactly with my life in details up to a certain time but it impressed me greatly and brings to mind many old time scenes. I knew Mr. Barber for more years than did Dr. Frank for I remember well the day that Frank was born, ever so many years ago. I cooked my own dinner that day because my mother was one of the delegates to welcome Frank into the world. There were no doctors or specialists in those days in that new country. For fifty-six years, lacking a few months I have known of Mr. Barber, have worked with him in the field and endured the same class of trials and perplexities that came to all of us in those pioneer days. The chief characteristic, however that I remember so well was his optimism; no matter what the troubles, John was a welcome visitor in the chimney corner at home, in the newspaper office and elsewhere because he positively refused to be cast down by the opposing forces. During these years when very little was raised owing to the grass hopper panic, and the whole country was practically depopulated, he always looked forward to the time when things would right themselves and all would be well. A few years ago, the last time I saw him he was cheery as ever and had persistently refused to turn aside and had lived to reap many of the benefits that so many of us missed by going away. His perennial good nature commended him to friends and neighbors and in all the years of my acquaintance there was naught that seemed to be critical or fault finding with any of us. Peace to his ashes.

C. W. Jarvis
Davenport, Wash.

Contributed by: Jon Barber. The above letter appeared in the Estherville, Iowa Democrat shortly after John Barber died.

Christmas Eve – 1923

By Wallace Richmond

It was many years ago -- in fact, it was fifty-three years this Christmas Eve! The entire Riverside Community southeast of Armstrong gathered that warm December night at the farm home of Walter and Grace Richmond (now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Hoien) for a big neighborhood Christmas Eve Party, sponsored by the Riverside Country Club, one of the oldest Women’s Clubs in Iowa.

When I arrived at the old home late that afternoon, the yard was bustling with activity. My Mother and Ethel Burt Anderberg, Mrs. Hervey (Ida) Knudson, Mrs. Lloyd (Sylvia) Trimble, Mrs. Art Baldwin, Mrs. Robert Dunn, John H. Thompson, Hervey Knudson, Lloyd Trimble and many others were busy trimming the big Cedar tree on the west side of our house. (Dad’s cousin, Adam Cavers of Village Creek, a little inland village nestled among the high bluffs a few miles west of the Mississippi River near Lansing, Iowa, had brought the Cedar sapling as a gift to Dad and Mother when he came for a visit in the Fall of 1908.)

Strings of popcorn, chains made of colored paper rings, tinsel and kerosene lanterns were being hung on the branches under the supervision of my Mother and John Thompson. Dad was just finishing plowing the garden with an old walking plow, pulled by King and Prince, his team of prize winning Percherons.

I arrived on the afternoon Rock Island passenger train from St. Paul that day, after traveling all night from Fargo on the Northern Pacific and changing lines at the old Union Depot in St. Paul. I was teaching and coaching in a town northwest of Fargo, North Dakota, and was coming home for Christmas vacation. The Burt boys, (Joe, Bob, and Alva) old friends and neighbors of our family, met me at the Rock Island depot with team and spring wagon, loaded my baggage into their rig and in forty-five minutes I was home. It was a beautiful warm day, no snow, and the temperature in the mid fifties.

Over one hundred friends and neighbors, their families all members of the Riverside Country Club, gathered that Christmas Eve under the starlit sky to celebrate an event that I shall always cherish. After the exchange of gifts, distributed by good old Santa Claus (John Thompson), a feast of sandwiches, cakes, cookies, popcorn balls and home made candy was served to the happy throng. (Note: There were some mighty good cooks in the old neighborhood -- and one exceptionally good chocolate fudge maker, Donald Thompson, now retired and living in Vancouver, Washington.)

The old Christmas tree still stands -- a symbol of Christmas Joy and Peace, throughout the passing years! Time has wrought many changes in the original membership of the old Riverside Club -- only three are still living -- Ida Knudson and Anna Knudson, living at the Bethel Home in Story City, Iowa, and Sylvia Trimble of Ames, Iowa. The others have all passed on to their heavenly reward. The old families have all vanished, -- their old homes now owned by a younger generation! And so time marches on!

Contributed by: Jim Richmond. Letter was provided courtesy of John Walter Richmond, grandson of the late Matthew Wallace Richmond. Taken from article in THE ARMSTRONG JOURNAL, December 23, 1976. Written by Matthew Wallace Richmond, oldest son of Walter Adam and Grace [Clark] Richmond.

CC Note: For biography of Walter Richmond see Emmet County Biographies.   For obituaries of Walter and Grace Richmond please see Emmet County Obituaries page. For biography of Matthew Wallace Richmond see Emmet Biographies page.


John Dows built his home at 908 Third Ave. for $5000 in 1895 for his bride-to-be Anna Richmond. Dows was a nephew of S. L. Dows and was associated with him, under contract, to build the bridges and culverts for the railroad from Clarion to Estherville and also laid a substantial amount of track for the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern. It was said that when the railroad extended its line from Armstrong to Estherville in 1900, the company's executives sent word to Dows to build all the bridges and culverts between Armstrong and Estherville, without the formality of a bid or contract. As a member of the company that owned the Armstrong town site, he had much to do with grading and naming the streets and is said to have platted the town in 1892. He was also a prominent banker. The house was constructed of strong timbers, like those used to build the railroad. The distinctive solid concrete garage that now stands across the alley from the house was erected by Dows for his Carter automobile in July 1913. Built in a bungalow style so that it would be attractive as well as functional, the structure was said to have been designed by "Uncle Billy" Atkinson, who planned Armstrong's City Park. Ruth and John O'Neil bought the house in 1930 and later enclosed the rear porch to enlarge the kitchen. They lived in the house for the rest of their lives. Noel and Marsha Gochanour bought the house in January 1987 and have since concentrated on redecorating the interior, with a goal of having the project completed before the house is 100 years old. Two of its most interesting features are an elaborately carved staircase and a corner fireplace in the sitting room, which can be closed off from the rest of the house by pocket doors.

Source: Armstrong, Iowa, Armstrong Journal Centennial Edition, June 30, 1993, Neighborhoods Section, Page 13.

Personal communication to James M. Richmond from C. M .W. Erickson, granddaughter of John Dows, 19 August 1996, "another interesting feature was the construction of the garage. He had two doors constructed on opposite walls and always opened both of them when he went driving. He was afraid, upon his return, that he wouldn't be able to stop after going through the first door.

Contributed by: James Richmond.


Keeping pace with the modern demand for efficient livery services, W. H. Gibbs, proprietor of the Gibbs Garage and Livery at Armstrong, has equipped the place with automobiles and uses them in connection with the horse livery. The traveling man, or prospective buyer, who wishes to be hurried from one town to another, can find quick service at the Gibbs garage. the man who enjoys pulling the "strings" across the back of a good high stepper can be accommodated. It makes no difference to Gibbs which you want, he has'em both and they are either yours--for the money.

Gibbs acts as agent for the Ford, Studebaker and Buick automobiles in his territory. Since he has taken the agency these cars have enjoyed a wide sale throughout the territory. His place is patronized in both the automobile and horse livery by all the transient public.

In connection with the garage and livery Gibbs carries a full line of automobile supplies and accessories. Hs place is headquarters for the auto public of Armstrong.

Contributed by: James Richmond.

Source: Estherville Daily News, Estherville, Iowa, June 1913. Courtesy of Ms. Jeanne Egeland, Estherville, Iowa.

Some Memories of Armstrong's Early Days

315 Forest Avenue
Forest City, Iowa 50436
July 30, 1980

Dear Ruth:

I owe you an apology,--I just plumb forgot that I was to send you some thoughts about some hilarious situations of days gone by. I have been so busy getting things organized for the Richmond Clan Reunion at Armstrong on Sunday, August 10th, plus spending some time in the local hospital with a bowel obstruction, that I completely forgot about your request until Monday night while I was lying half asleep in my hospital bed. I awoke with a panic stricken look on my face and realized what I had done, or rather had failed to do. So here goes, --better late than never, I just hope that I have not inconvenienced you too much. It's hell to get old and forgetful!

Sometime during the Spring, Summer or Fall (See photo of T. W. Doughty "Tom" -- and party out for a spin.) Tom Doughty bought either a Stanley or White Steamer automobile, powered by charcoal to heat the water into steam, which then powered the automobile. Ask John Thorson regarding the make and time of year, --but I have before me a copy of an old Souvenir Album of Armstrong that was made up by E.W. Laisy, early Armstrong photographer and owner of Laisy's Photograph Gallery during the year 1904. (The foreword on the first page is dated December 20th, 1904.) The Gallery was located where Glekfeld's Standard Station now stands. I remember it very well! If my memory serves me correctly, I believe that Mrs. Laisy was a Horswell girl, a sister of Maude Law and Vick, Garfield, Blaine and Lincoln Horswell.

Check with John Thorson or Esther Horswell Willson McKean. I am quite sure that the "chauffeur" of this mechanical wonder was Barney Duffy. He always wore quite an "outfit" while chauffeuring Tom and his "cronies" about town and the surrounding countryside.

My father, Walter A. Richmond, was known for the very good horses that he always raised on our old homestead Southeast of Armstrong. He was particularly proud of a young team of Percherons named King and Prince, full brothers, foaled by the same mare and sire. One day in the Spring of 1904, my Dad brought a triple wagon box load of oats into Armstrong to sell at the Farmer's Co-operative Elevator. While waiting on the scale to be weighed, along came Tom Doughty, Barney Duffy and their party chugging and hissing along in the Stanley Steamer. Barney drove the "mechanical wonder" alongside the scale and team and wagon. Prince, the more excitable of the team, would have no more of this "monkey" business and let fly with his left hind leg, putting Tom, Barney and friends in their proper place. Their ego upset and tarnished somewhat, the "Chugmobiler's" soon learned their lesson and were lucky to escape without being injured!

Another humorous incident that I remember well occurred at the dinner table at one of our family Reunions. My Grandfather, Bertine P. Clark, early pioneer of Emmet County, former owner and operator of general merchandize stores at old Center Chain on the State Line North of Armstrong and at Dolliver, also owner and operator of a Shoe Repair and Fix-it Shop in Armstrong for many years, was seated at the dinner table on this occasion with several very dignified old aunts and cousins of my Mother. The conversation centered upon the "terrible offense of swearing." Grandfather got all "steamed up" on the subject and said, "Yes Sir! Swearing is a nasty habit! "Yes Sir! It's a God damned nasty habit!" Needless to say, some of the old stiff-necked aunts soon changed the subject!

These are only a few of the very amusing incidents that I have remembered during my lifetime and enjoyed to the hilt!

{Signed: Wally R.}
Wallace Richmond

Contributor's note: The above letter, addressed to an unidentified woman named "Ruth", probably a resident of Armstrong, Iowa, was written by Matthew Wallace Richmond, aka Wallace or Wally Richmond [1899-1982]. The letter was typed on two pages, and made available through the courtesy of Grace Eleanor [Richmond] {Plath} Tyler of Sioux Falls, SD, who was the eldest daughter of the author of the letter.

Contributed by: James Richmond.

Letter from Wallace Richmond (1899-1982)
Grandson of early Emmet County Pioneer

315 Forest Avenue
Forest City, Iowa
October 28, 1979 – 9:00am

Dear Helen:
It was one hundred and eleven years ago yesterday (111 yrs.) that Grandpa and Grandma Richmond, Aunt Jeanette, Aunt Anna, Uncle Will and Aunt Robina [JMR: Matthew and Margaret [Cavers] Richmond and children, Jeanette [1859-1939], Anna [1861-1947], William [1864-1946] and Robina [1867-1931]] arrived at the old home farm on the Des Moines River five miles southeast of Armstrong [JMR: Section 36, Armstrong Grove Township]. There wasn’t any town at that time, --just a stagecoach stop at a location (called Armstrong’s Grove) that was in the old home of Mr. Dan Perry. The Post Office was in the rock walled basement. When I was a young boy, I was always fascinated by the pidgeon hole type of mail boxes that still remained there and history that was connected with them. Uncle Will and Aunt Nettie [JMR: William Henry Gibbs [1858-1940] and Jeanette [Richmond] Gibbs] owned the farm then and Uncle Will used the old basement as a sort of "catch all" and farm shop. I thought a great deal of Uncle Will- he used to like to wrestle with us boys—and always was playing tricks on us. He had a heart as big as a bushel and his word was as good as pure gold. He certainly deserved a better fate than being married to Aunt Nettie!  Mr. Perry’s son, Herb, was a close friend of my Dad [JMR: Walter Adam Richmond [1871-1950]. I remember that he lived in Florida and came up once or twice to visit Dad when I was a young boy of 10 to 12 yrs. of age.

Grandpa and Grandma and their young family left Village Creek [JMR: a small community south of Lansing, Iowa in Allamakee County on the morning of October 15th, 1868 with their covered wagon and team. They brought some furniture along which they had in their old Canadian home near Ayr, Ontario. (I have visited the old Richmond home near Ayr several times.) The same old home still remains, and addition had been added. Over the main entrance of the original home is a stone arch with these words etched in the arch -“The Richmond Place”—just as it was when they left it.

Grandfather told me several times when I was a young boy—"Wallace, all I had of earthly goods when we arrived here on the 27th of October, 1868, was my wife and ‘four kiddies’, my team and covered wagon, some furniture, the family Bible and $10 in my pocket."

Surely, Helen, our Grandparents truly were pioneers. Your Mother [JMR: Jane [Cavers] Bieber [1872-1940] was born about four years after Matthew Richmond arrived at Armstrong’s Grove] must have been about 8 or 10 yrs. old at the time, because in reading our Uncle Adam’s [JMR: Adam Cavers of Village Creek, Lansing, Iowa, brother of Mrs. Matthew Richmond] diary, he wrote on that date –“Matthew and Maggie and four kiddies left this morning for the West” and then added, “Little Willie had a belly ache.” Later in reading Uncle Adam’s diary, I find that uncle Will was four (4) years old at that time.

Their path across the prairies of Northern Iowa took them through Waukon, Decorah, Day Corners, Gresco, Riceville, Osage, Forest City, Buffalo Forks (now Buffalo Center) and on to Armstrong Grove and their new home. All they had for shelter when they arrived was a log cabin, and a straw covered shed for their horses. Surely, Helen, we have every right to be proud of our heritage.

We had a nice turnout on August 19th for the family Reunion. Many have written to tell me how much they enjoyed it and are making plans to comeback again next year for the Reunion on August 10th, 1980. I’m sure many more will attend next year, now that the word in being spread around about the success of the Reunion this year.

So Helen, I am praying and hoping that you and William [JMR: William Tully, husband of Helen] and all the rest of us will be spared for at least one more year. Right now, I am here in the Forest City Municipal Hospital—have been here since Monday, October 22nd. I was scheduled to be in the V. A. Hospital at Des Moines on October 25th for several days, but I had a relapse from the flu that hit me early in September and just never quite got over it. It was the real McCoy—I lost 15 lbs. In less than one month and it sure took the pep out of me. I only weigh 174 lbs. as compared to 190 lbs. about six or seven years ago. I am undergoing a series of X-rays and tests here—Colon and intestinal tract, chest, liver, kidneys, bladder are all being X-rayed and examined, also my old ticker. However, I am much better and should be released pretty soon.

Wayne [JMR: Wayne Clark Richmond, brother of Wallace] is in failing health and I know that his days are numbered, just as yours and mine are. Wilbert [JMR: Wilbert Walter Richmond, brother of Wallace] is all crippled up with Arthritis and can only get around by using two canes. Doris Richmond McGee [JMR: first cousin of Wallace, wife of Neil McGee and daughter of William Cavers Richmond, i.e. "Little Willy”] came to the Reunion. She is 88 yrs. +, but still pretty active and alert. She lives all alone on her farm five miles southeast of Dunkerton, about 15 miles northeast of Waterloo.

Dorothy [JMR: Dorothy [Fear] Richmond [1903-1998], second wife of Wallace] sends her greetings, too. We are planning on driving to South Carolina to attend the Navy retirement ceremony honoring Bob [JMR: Robert Heston Richmond [1927-1992], son of Wallace] for over thirty years (30) of honorable service to his country.

Bob bought a 140 acre farm at St. Stephen, about 50 miles west of Charleston [JMR: South Carolina]. He commutes to the Charleston Navy Base daily. He spent about $25,000 remodeling the house on their farm and has made it into a beautiful modern home. Peggy, Grace Eleanor, Bob [JMR: adult children of Wallace Richmond] and their families join me in wishing you a speedy recovery.

If there is anything that you would want me to do for you at anytime, feel free to ask me to do it, and I’ll see that it is done promptly.

May God watch over you, Helen, and hasten your recovery

Love and Good Wishes,

Contributors note: The above letter was written by Wallace Richmond, [1899-1982] grandson of Emmet County pioneer’s Matthew Richmond [1834-1921] and his wife Margaret [Cavers] Richmond, [1832-1919] It was addressed to Wallace’s second cousin Helen [Bieber] Tully, granddaughter of William Cavers [1838-1900] and Helen [Wood] Cavers [1840-1908] of Village Creek, Lansing, Iowa.

The letter is submitted, courtesy of Wallace Richmond’s daughter, Grace Eleanor [Richmond] {Plath} Tyler. Comments enclosed in brackets, e.g. [JMR:xxx], are those of the submitter and not the author.]

Contributed by: James M. Richmond

She’s Traveled by Covered Wagon and Jets

Grace Richmond

Photo Caption: PIONEER SENIOR CITIZEN of the Armstrong area is Mrs. Grace Richmond. With her son, Wallace, she recently made a trip to Jacksonville, Fla., to visit Wally's son, Bob and family. They flew by jet airliner and returned to Minneapolis from the Florida city in 2 hours and 40 minutes, a considerable contrast to the days when Mrs. Richmond came to this community in a covered wagon. Click on photo to enlarge]

From travel across the prairie in a covered wagon to travel across the country in a jet airliner is quite a contrast and an item to take note of in anyone’s life.

Mrs. Grace (Walter A.) Richmond, who will be 88 next month, has had that unique experience. With her son, Wally, she recently returned from Jacksonville, Fla., by jet airliner to Minneapolis in only 2 hours and 40 minutes flying time. She thinks that is a big improvement in travel, compared to her trips to Iowa from Wisconsin by covered wagon.

Mrs. Richmond came with her family to settle in the Iowa Lake township when she was only three years old. She relates that her father, B. P. Clark left Rock Falls, Wis., to come to Iowa with “only $10 in his pockets and his wife and four kids”. [See Note below]

She recalls herding cattle on horseback on the open prairie range northwest of what was later the site of Armstrong. She would drive the cattle three miles to Tuttle Lake for water.

The next year after the Clark family settled, their home was destroyed by fire and they went back to Wisconsin, but returned again in 1889. Except for this period of time Mrs. Richmond has made her home in the Armstrong community.

Both sides of the Richmond family have had more than their share of schoolteachers, but Mrs. Richmond’s mother had the distinction of starting the first school in the Iowa Lake district. She started the school in her own home with her own children, she took on a few more. In those days if there were at least five children in an area of school age, you could ask for a school, so the classes conducted at the Clark home soon were replaced by a country schoolhouse.

Mrs. Richmond would pick up some children on horseback and she once had to make a run for the river to escape a prairie fire.

She was married in 1897, only five years after the Town of Armstrong was incorporated, to Walter Richmond, son of Matthew Richmond, who had homesteaded southeast of town.

Mrs. Richmond now has 12 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren. She chuckled when she related that her husband at one time was “afraid the Richmond name might die out for lack of grandsons.” Mrs. Richmond no longer has to worry, because six of her great-grandchildren are boys named Richmond.

Contributor's Note: This quote was used incorrectly here. It is correctly attributed to Matthew Richmond, father of her late husband, Walter Adam Richmond. Mrs. Richmond had only one sibling, Bert Lee Clark].

Contributed by: James Richmond. Source: Armstrong Journal, Vol. LXX, No.25, June, 20 1963, Armstrong Iowa.

CC Note: Please see Emmet County Obituary page for obituary of Grace Richmond.

Hans C. Christiansen Sells Interest in Store to Son

Eighteen years ago H. C. Christiansen and Nels G. Christiansen opened a hardware store in Ringsted under the firm name of Christiansen Bros. A few year later Forrest bought Nels’ interest and the firm became Christiansen and Son.

January 1st, 1939, the firm will again be known as Christiansen Bros. as H. C. Christiansen is retiring at the end of the month and is selling his interest to his youngest son, Kermit, who has been associated with the firm for the past five years.

During the 18 years the Christiansen hardware has been in existence it has served the public in three locations, its present store which was formerly the Ringsted State bank building, in the building housing the Ringsted Implement company and in the building now occupied by the Petersen Motor company. It has steadily increased its stock until it now ranks as one of the finest hardware stores in north Iowa.

Hans is retiring after 20 years of farming and 22 years spent in business.

At the age of 21 he started in the Clothing and Shoe business at Newell, Iowa, which he operated for four years. He sold his interest to J. W. Barber, and moved to Ringsted and for four years rented the half section now occupied by Cecil Saunders. Later he purchased the farm one mile north of town, which he still owns.

He moved to town in 1920 where he engaged in the hardware business with his brother, N. G. Christiansen. Later his oldest son, Forrest, bough Nels’ interest and the firm became Christiansen and Son, but the name will soon undergo another change, as he is selling his interest in the store to his youngest son, Kermit and it will again be Christiansen Bros.

Mr. Christiansen helped organize one of the first farmers co-operative elevators in Iowa, the Farmers Grain and Product Co. of Ringsted. He was president of the company for four years. He also helped organize the Ringsted Creamery and was president of that for four years. He served as assessor of Denmark township for 14 years and is now serving on the town council.

He plans to retire from active business and wished to thank all of his old customers for their splendid patronage during his years in the hardware. Hans says it has been a pleasure to serve them year after year, and he hopes they will continue to patronize his sons who will have charge hereafter.

Contributed by: Sunny Christiansen, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Kermit and Hans C. Christiansen. Source: Ringsted Dispatch, 1938.

by Helge Olson

Estherville Enterprise Pioneer Issue
August 31, 1911

In the year of 1860, the 16th day of May, I with my parents and younger brother, started from the town of Clinton, Rock county, state of Wisconsin, for the far west with a young ox team and three cows. We crossed the Mississippi at McGregor, where we got in company with more immigrants, Lars Paulson and family, Ole Fladland and wife, and F. Matheas Asved and family, and Ole Ranum and family. We went through Northwood and Blue Earth City. When we came to East Chain Lakes we met Nels and Battolf Pedersen Breigjold [Brugjeld], they had been west to Emmet county, Iowa, and taken a claim and some land on the Des Moines river. We all had ox teams and cattle, so we did not travel fast. We arrived at Estherville after a journey of thirty-six days. I thought the country along the Des Moines river looked beautiful. And all of us started to look for land. We went down the river and over to Mud Lake, in High Lake township the first day, the next day we went up the river, and up into Minnesota. The next day we broke camp, and all of us settled on land and tried to make a home, except my parents and I. We had to drive over to Spirit Lake. There was a young man who had a yoke of steers in front of my team, and he had some goods in my wagon, so we had to drive over north of Spirit Lake where he had a friend he wanted to stop with. I did not like the country, there was too many sloughs and lakes for me to settle there, so I drove back on the state line, to the place I am living now, in Emmet township, Emmet county, Ia.

In the year of 1862, on the 11th day of February, after 10:00 o' clock a. m. commenced one of the biggest snowstorms or blizzards we ever had since I settled here. It snowed for three days so you could not see the sun, and then it blowed (sic) for three days more. The storm lasted seven days, and three feet of snow fell in the timber. The year 1862 was a good year for grass and grain and the settlers were getting along first rate, until the 24th day of August, 1862, when the news came to my place Sunday afternoon, by two boys from Belmond, Jackson county, Minnesota, about the Sioux Indians, who had commenced murdering people in Belmond township, Minnesota. I ran down to Chas. Jarvis to ask him if it was safe for us to stay on our farms, but Jarvis advised that we move to Estherville and I ran back home and got a team and wagon and commenced to load our things when settlers on the west side of the Des Moines River came down and it got about dark, so we stopped until next morning, when we started for Estherville. Some of the settlers on the east side of the river in Jackson county got as far as the state line on the east side and camped there until next morning, when they came to Estherville. Several of those did not have any of their goods with them except their teams and clothing and what they had on. Some of us were at a meeting when a boy, a son of Ole Olson Forde, came to the place of meeting with an arm bleeding. He had been shot in the elbow by one of the Indians, when he ran from the house down to the timber toward the river.

My younger brother, Ole Olsen, enlisted in the United States army a few days before the Indian outbreak in Minnesota. He was in Captain Danes cavalry company, when that company was sent up to New Ulm, where the white people and the Indians had been fighting a few days before, to guard that town until the settlers moved back. Then my brother Ole Oleson was transferred to a Regiment of Minnesota Volunteers. He died at Mound City, Ill., in 1864. We moved back to our farm in the month of May 1864, where we have been living since.

Contributed by: Ruth Hackett.

Early Emmet County Settler

Estherville Enterprise, 31 Aug 1911

Mrs. Lewis Paulson is one of the oldest pioneer settlers of Emmet County. She has been a resident since June 20, 1860. Mrs. Paulson came here from Wisconsin with her husband and four children, Paul, Severt, Julia and Thora [Thuri], of which only the last two are still living. They made the journey with a yoke of oxen and a home made wagon, the wheels of which were made by cutting narrow pieces off the ends of large logs. On the 16th day of May, they left their home in Wisconsin, and arrived on the present site of Estherville on June 20th. At that time there was only one home on the village site. The hard times and hardships borne by the early settlers were by no means trivial in their nature, and Mrs. Paulson being one of the earliest pioneers met with her share of privations. During the first winter they subsisted on potatoes, butter, and milk for about a month, during which time the snow was so deep that they were prevented from going to market, which was in Blue Earth, fifty miles distant. But this was not all, the next summer she witnessed more privations and hardships. At that time the Indians came to Jackson, Minnesota, on a raid, and the settlers all gathered at Estherville, where they remained for a week, neglecting their farms and leaving them at the mercy of any ill disposed person who might come that way. From this time on for several years prosperous times visited the country until grasshopper raids, and then for several years crops were all destroyed and harvests amounted to nothing. Mrs. Paulson, who has been a widow since in 1893, lives with her daughters, Mrs. T. O. Berg and Mrs. H. K. Groth, and although being 95 years old at the present time she is active, and enjoys good health.

Contributed by: Ruth Hackett.

The son of the popular and well known freight conductor, Mr. Fisher, on the Burlington road, met with his death in a sad manner last Friday. He was out in a boat hunting on Mud Lake, near Estherville, and was kicked over the side of the boat by the discharge of his gun. He clung to the over turned skiff for some time, and just as help was coming, he let go his hold, being chilled and fatigued, and was seen no more alive. His body was recovered and passed through here Monday, on its way to Cedar Rapids. Much sympathy is felt all along the line for the bereaved father.

November 4, 1887.

They Were Allowed $2700

Attorneys E. A. Morling and P. H. Paulson, the latter of Estherville, won their case against Mr. Miller, who was charged with burning his own store building at Gruver a year or so ago.  He was acquitted, although the evidence against him was very damaging. He lives at St. James, Minnesota. They agreed to accept $2300 for their services, but refused to pay that amount. They sued for $4000. The case was tried at Estherville last week, lasting for several days. They were given a verdict for $2700.

Source: Emmetsburg Democrat, Emmetsburg, Palo Alto County, Iowa, November 9, 1910.

The J. D. Weir garage at Huntington, a short distance north of Estherville, was damaged by fire a few days ago. Several cars were burned.

Source: Emmetsburg Democrat, Emmetsburg, Palo Alto County, Iowa, August 7, 1918.


The annual meeting of the Wallingford Telephone company was held Saturday afternoon, January 1. As a new company has been organized it was voted to disband the old company. The name of the new company will be “The Wallingford Telephone Co-op.” The directors elected until January 15, 1955, are L. M. Rawlings, Glenn Young, Sam Natterstad, Ray Ruppert and S. O. Lundy. Price of a membership will be $25. A meeting of the new company will be held later.

Source: The Graettinger Times, Graettinger, Palo Alto county, Iowa, January 21, 1954, v. 61, no. 3, p. 1.

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