With the return of peace, there came in an era of progress. It gathered momentum slowly. Changes occurred so naturally and at such intervals that they were little noticed. Oxen as draft animals gave way to horses. Barbed wire supplanted rails and subdued the prairies. Labor was converted into wealth. Barter decreased; trade increased. Material prosperity wrought better conditions of living. Personal and household comforts and conveniences were introduced and accepted as common and ordinary necessities of decent existence. Buildings improved. Schools were provided in every community. Churches, Catholic and Protestant, ministering to evey peculiar spiritual want, were erected wherever a few like-minded believers could be assembled. Secret societies, representing numerous orders and serving various benevolent purposes, multiplied. The strivings of half a century produced striking contrasts and results to marvel at.
There was no sudden and arbitrary advance. In some instances, not in all, the successive steps are traceable. Yet an orderly relation of events always exists, although it may remain undiscovered. No crop is garnered before its harvest time.
In this upbuilding the newspapers of Fairfield performed an influential part. The Fairfield Ledger, under the direction of W. W. Junkin and of C. M. Junkin, father and son, adhered to a definite and consistent and helpful policy in all promising lines of endeavor, and covered the entire period. The Soldiers' Friends, published by Noah H. Ward through August and September, 1865, served only a political mission. No issue of it appeared after the October election. In December the Home Visitor was started by Rev. Andrew Axline. In a business way, W. B. Murray and R. H. Moore, and in an editorial way, A. R. Fulton, were associated later with the publication. Its aim was to promote the cause of education. It was bought by W. W. Junkin in January, 1868, and merged in the Fairfield Ledger. The Iowa Democrat appeared in July, 1866, under the management of M. M. Bleakmore. In January, 1874, it was acquired by I. T. Flint and J. B. Kent. Under them it became the Industrial Era, which ardently and earnestly advocated the principles, doctrines and theories of Grangerism. Lacking support sufficient to sustain it, in September, 1875, it was removed to Albia. The removal was probably hastened on account of the revival of the Iowa Democrat by M. M. Bleakmore. The latter passed in August, 1877, to Woodward and Edwards, who renamed it the Fairfield Democrat. This was purchased in April, 1878, by Frank Green, who in turn made it the Fairfield Tribune. As that it has since continued. About October, 1880, the Fairfield Journal, daily and weekly, was brought out by R. H. Moore. A weekly edition has also been issued as the Lockridge Herald. In July, 1897, the Jefferson County Republican was established by George H. Fraser. It supports temperance. Of the papers started in Pleasant Plain, Packwood, Batavia and Lockridge, save the Batavia News and the Community News-Topics of Lockridge, none remain.
In a measure banking facilities are an index to commercial needs. In 1865, the First National Bank of Fairfield was organized. There was a private bank carried on by George A. Wells. These two institutions met the financial requirements of the county until 1875, when Samuel C. Farmer and Sons opened another private bank. Wells and the Farmers suffered reverses. In 1890, the Iowa State Savings Bank was organized. In 1901, the Jefferson County State Bank was organized. This, in 1908, was converted into the Fairfield National Bank. Other banks have been located and have found room to grow in East Pleasant Plain, Linby, Packwood, Batavia, Libertyville and Lockridge.
Industries in 1865 were in a state of transition. A few establishments in Fairfield had survived the stress and strain of war times. C. E. Noble was making sash and doors. Jacob Vote was making furniture. David Locke was building plows and wagons. Anthony Demarce was running a foundry and machine shop. John C. Keck was running a foundry and planing mill. No doubt others were turning out of their shops articles that are now the exclusive product of distant factories. This is the triumph of machinery, quantity and cheap transportation over hand-made goods.
In 1866, Dr. P. A. Woods and Capt. J. M. Woods projected a woolen mill. In the fall of 1867, spindles and looms were installed. "Cassimeres and blankets" were produced. The plant passed through troublesome experiences and in 1886 was finally closed down. In 1867, W. F. Pumphrey & Company engaged in the manufacture of fanning mills. In 1868, John C. Keck began building threshers, which he warranted "superior to all Eastern-made machines." In 1870, William Louden, who for some two years had been making, in a small way in Cedar Township, a "universal hay pitcher" removed to Fairfield. His success with this, his original hay carrier, led him to undertake to manufacture a number of agricultural implements. The venture was too large for the hard times that soon stagnated business and so failed.
Merchants and business men, realizing the value to them and to the community of industries that employ labor and add to the population, met on January 25, 1872, at Wells' Hall "to devise means to encourage the location of manufacturing establishments." Dr. J. M. Shaffer, A. S. Jordan, M. M. Bleakmore, Johnston Moore, George A. Wells, Anthony Demarce and J. Fullen were directed "to prepare plans." It does not now appear what course of action was prescribed. The feeling that sent them on the quest and the spirit manifested on that occasion have been exhibited frequently in substantial aid and in investments when more financial strength was needed. The helping hand is ever extended.
In 1879, Isaiah Messenger built a brick and tile works. This marks the local beginning of the subterranean drainage of flat lands. It was the prophecy of a growing demand for tile. Rainey Brothers continued the enterprise. In 1880, the Fairfield Manufacturing Company revived the manufacture of furniture. In 1887, as the result of special effort, a canning plant was started. The big hindrance in carrying it on was the difficulty of getting farmers to cultivate a sufficient acreage in tomatoes and sweet corn. In 1887 also, Joel Turney & Company were induced to bring here their wagon factory from Trenton, Henry County. As this firm has abundant capital and an established trade, and used skilled mechanics, its coming was eventful. In 1892, the Louden Machinery Company was formed to market the inventions of William Louden. These are specialties for barns, farm and dairy. They have found favor in many foreign countries as well as in the United States. In 1893, W. H. Pence opened a machine shop. In 1902, he began making an oscillating wood saw of his own design. In 1900, M. C. Wallick introduced glovemaking. This business was taken over in 1905, and developed by the Fairfield Glove and Mitten Company. In 1901, A. K. Harper, who had been selling brushes for special household uses, determined to manufacture them. The Harper Brush Works is the outcome of that resolution. In 1904, the Iowa Malleable Iron Company established a foundry for the production of malleable castings. There is no other plant of the kind in the state and but one other successfully working west of the Mississippi River. In 1908, the Hawkeye Pump Company took up the making of pumps and tanks. In 1911, the Dexter Company was organized to carry on the manufacture of washing machines. In 1913, the Fairfield Pure Ice Company engaged in the production of artificial ice. The larger concerns only are embraced in this list.
These activities annually pay out approximately four hundred thousand dollars in wages and salaries. The value of their yearly output approaches and may exceed one and one-half million dollars. At first these dependents were kept here and there in private homes. This method, simple and practicable while they were few, but applied with more and more difficulty as their numbers increased, held on tenaciously. In the October election of 1866, authority to establish a "Poor Farm" at an expense not to exceed six thousand dollars was asked of the voters. The upshot of this was 1,842 ballots granting it and 399 ballots refusing it. In 1867, in executing the measure, some two hundred and thirty-six acres near the center of Liberty Township were purchased. Improvements were added from time to time. In January, 1896, the houses sheltering the unfortunates burned down. A spirited discussion ensued over the utility and location of the farm. Some critics insisted that it was too large to be profitable; some that it would be more convenient if nearer to Fairfield. The debate was extraneous, but brought into prominence the need and extent of official charity. On March 5th, at a special election, the levy of a tax and the issuance of bonds to an amount not in excess of twenty thousand dollars to replace the loss was sanctioned, the former by a majority of 580 votes, the latter by a majority of 540 votes. The favorable result lies to the credit of the Abingdon precinct of Polk Township and of the townships of Locust Grove, Fairfield, Round Prairie, Liberty and Des Moines. Following the precedent of a previous issue, the bonds were offered to "bona fide residents of the county" and were quickly taken. A well planned "County Home," put under construction at once, was ready for occupancy in November. It cost $17,500 completed. The importance of the institution appears in the average number of persons annually cared for. This average, which in 1876 was twenty-one, has gradually risen, in 1913 reaching fifty-eight.
In 1867, baseball swept over Iowa. In May, it reached Fairfield, where it was enthusiastically received. After some preliminary meetings, on the 24th, the Jefferson Base Ball Club was organized. The officers were: Dr. J. M. Shaffer, president; W. W. Junkin, vice president; John R. Shaffer, secretary; T. F. Higley, treasurer; and W. N. Stephens, G. W. Phelps and Galon Baker, directors. The first game was played the next day. On June 8th, the Mechanics' Base Ball Club completed an organization. Its officers were: A. R. Fulton, president, A. R. Byrkit, vice president; C. S. Byrkit, secretary; S. E. Bigelow, treasurer; and W. L. Daggett, John D. Rider and Henry Vote, directors. On July 27th, picked players of these clubs matched their skill on the diamond. The score stood 50 to 23 against the Mechanics. On August 1st, the first nine of the Jefferson Base Ball Club, Ed McNight, T. F. Higley, J. B. King, George W. Phelps, Fred S. Sanford, S. W. Pierce, N. S. Bright, William Mount and J. J. Gibson, met at Brighton a nine of the Washington Base Ball Club, Washington. They lost by a score of 35 to 54, but accepted their defeat with the philosophy of true sportsmen. C. D. Leggett acted as their official scorer.
In the summer of 1871 croquet was introduced and at once became a popular pastime. Its common appellation was "Presbyterian billiards."
With the passing of the open lands, stock running at large began to trespass upon enclosed and cultivated fields. In 1868, the General Assembly took note of the fact and enacted provisions, applicable to a county and subject to adoption by its legal voters, for the restraint of stock "between sunset and sunrise." This remedy for the evil was quite weak and inefficient. In 1870, the General Assembly improved upon it by eliminating the restriction as to time. In 1871, the law was submitted in Jefferson County for approval or rejection. Popularly it was viewed as a blow aimed at the poor man and received little support. The ballot gave but 308 votes in its favor to 2,107 votes in opposition.
This result had been foreshadowed. In March, the City Councl of Fairfield passed an ordinance to restrain horses and swine within corporate limits. The enactment caused a commotion and was bitterly denounced. A remonstrance was filed. A citizens' meeting condemned it and asked for its repeal or a referendum. The councilmen remained unmoved. A second citizens' meeting demanded the resignation of the offending officials that they might give place to men "controlled by the will of the majority." Upon W. W. Junkin in particular, who represented the Fourth ward, was wrath visited. To quiet the clamor he resigned, but stood for reelection. He was sustained in his course by a majority of one vote. Meanwhile the council so far yielded as to raise a special committee to hear complaints. This committee in time returned two reports. Two of its members, Christian W. Slagle and David B. Wilson, recommended the retention of the ordinance; the third member, J. S. Beck, recommended its repeal or its submission to the voters. There was no further action. Having failed in its effort, the agitation subsided.
A product of the contest was these satirical verses:
As yet the annoyance lay largely with sheep and swine on account of the difficulty and expense of fencing against them. This led to the making of a legislative distinction between them and cattle. In 1872, the General Assembly required that they be kept under restraint at all times by their owners, thus relieving the general situation. In consequence it was some years before the need of the "stock law" began to be felt and the demand for it to grow insistent. In 1879, "Golden Rule," a pseudonym indicative of the argument advanced, and Frank Switzer advocated it in public communications. In 1882, there was aroused sufficient sentiment to bring about its submission to the voters at the general election. It was supported by Lewis Fordyce and opposed by Edward Davies and Jacob Funk. The principal objections to it were that weeds would take the roads and that cattle could not easily be driven to market or from place to place. The inertia of custom and habits of thought could not be overcome. There were 1,155 votes cast for the law and 1,635 votes cast against the law.
Although public opinion still condoned the use of highways as common pastures, the utterances against the practice became more pronounced. To the farmers coming long distances into Fairfield, especially in winter, it was an aggravation provocative of strong speech and ill-temper. Their corn and hay, brought along for their own animals, were a constant temptation to the cows of the city, whose instinct to take advantage of this fortunate food supply was not deterred by any respect for the ownership. "For forty-one years," exclaimed John A. Ireland at the Farmers' Club in February, 1887, "I have never had the assurance that when I came to town my horses would get the feed I brought for them." The matter was reaching an acute stage. In the fall, the question was again submitted. There were 1,726 votes in the affirmative and 1,278 votes in the negative. It was carried in the townships of Walnut, Penn, Blackhawk, Polk, Fairfield, Buchanan, Lockridge, Round Prairie and Liberty, in the precinct of Brookville and in the Third and Fourth wards of Fairfield. It was lost in the townships of Cedar and Des Moines, in the precinct of Batavia, and in the First and Second wards of Fairfield. The complete step forward had been taken at the end of twenty years.
In 1866, there originated in the District of Columbia a secret society "Patrons of Husbandry." The separate subordinate bodies of which it was composed were designated "Granges." Its members were called "Grangers." Briefly stated, it sought to develop a better and higher manhood and womanhood, to promote sociability, to foster mutual understanding and cooperation, to buy and sell without the intervention of middlemen, to discountenance the credit system, to encourage home industries, and to substitute arbitration for litigation. Its aims were educational and cultural. In 1871, it entered Iowa. For a few years it enjoyed great popularity, due in part to its principles and in part to the influence and energetic work of Gen. William Duane Wilson, its chief official organizer.
The growth of the order in the state was rapid. In 1872 and 1873, more than thirty granges were established in Jefferson County. The numerals of Batavia Grange, No. 284, and of Cedar Ridge Grange, No. 1656, the two probably instituted less than a year apart, measure the general progress in organization.
In October, 1873, local Grangers celebrated a "Harvest Festival" on the Fair Grounds south of Fairfield. Much was made of the occasion. Several thousand persons attended. The mottoes on the banners expressed their feelings and aspirations. "The teaching of the Grange is the hope of the country." "By industry we live, by honesty we thrive." "Farmers glory in their occupation." "Agriculture is the mother of all the arts." "Equal and exact justice to all men, special privileges to none." "Farmers to the front, politicians take back seats." "Grangers, the day is dawning." "Free trade and farmers' rights." "The farmer pays for all." "We feed the masses." "More brain work and less muscle." "Good husbandmen have faith in God." "Agitation of thought is the beginning of wisdom." The movement, to them then seemingly so full of promise, was fast approaching the breaking point.
For selfish, personal and partisan purposes, it was attempted to lead Grangers as such into the hazardous paths of politics. The betrayal could not be accomplished. Then was formed the anti-monopoly party which attained some transient successes. But the tide of discontent was already ebbing. The Grange, too, was losing its hold upon the class it was meant to benefit. Its decline was almost as sudden as its rise had been. The laws of human nature were too deeply seated long to be outwitted and upset by men's cunning devices.
One product of the agitation was the Farmers' Mutual Insurance Union of Jefferson County. This was organized in 1874, probably in February, with Smith Ball as president and P. I. Labaugh as secretary. Its object was to insure detached farm property against loss by fire at a nominal cost for administration. It was a practical revolt against high premiums and against the partial payment of losses suffered. It prospered. It is still maintained, amply justifying the wisdom and faith of its founders.
For a number of years, temperance, as a matter of sociological concern, remained in a dormant state. In the fall of 1873, a sign of its awakening was evinced in the organization of the Fairfield Temperance Association. This society passed in February, 1874, into the United Temperance Association of Fairfield, which, doubtless for the better handling of its funds, was incorporated. The object of the latter was to overcome that form of intemperance "especially resulting from the use of beverages of distilled spirits, wine and beer," to disseminate "temperance principles by lectures, addresses, and the circulation of temperance literature," and to cooperate "in sustaining such laws for the suppression of the traffic in intoxicating drinks and of intemperance as may be in force in the State of Iowa." Its officers were: William Elliott, president; Rev. E. H. Waring, first vice president; Dr. J. V. Myers, second vice president; J. A. Herring, treasurer; Rev. Reed Wilkinson, secretary; and Rev. W. M. Sparr, Rev. J. H. Miller, Rev. Carson Reed and Rev. A. Hickey, managers.
This manifestation of conscious and deliberate effort betrays the deep feeling of which it was the product. A little later, a few zealous women, following an example set them by "Mothers" in Ohio and Indiana, visited the saloons and held in them short services of song and prayer. One dealer, Robert Locke, was induced to quit the business. His stock of liquors was purchased and ceremoniously poured out in the street. Spectacular performances of this kind were soon abandoned. On March 30th, at the Presbyterian Church, a Ladies' Temperance League was formed. It adopted as its motto "In God we trust." It set out as its aim, "The abolition of all intoxicating drinks from our community, and help to the sufferers from intemperance." Its officers were: Mrs. A. R. Jordan, president; Mrs. J. H. Miler, vice president; Mrs. William Elliott, treasurer; and Mrs. Carson Reed, secretary. It met weekly at the Congregational Church to listen to papers and addresses and to determine its lines of action. At its instigation, the issuance by the County Board of Supervisors and by the City Council, of permits to sell intoxicants was assailed by petition. The endeavor failed in the immediate design, but drew lines, provoked discussion, and strengthened sentiment against inebriety.
Four years slipped by and left no visible gain upon the evil. Indeed, in 1877, the sales of liquor in Fairfield were reported as "excessive." The restrictions of law were regarded apparently with cool indifference. One saloon, forbearance refusing longer to be outraged, was closed as a nuisance. Then, on March 28, 1878, under the auspices of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, a memorable meeting was held in Wells' Hall. It touched spark to tinder. The excitement was contagious. In a few days a thousand persons were wearing blue ribbons and were pledged to total abstinence. To promote the effectiveness of the work, the Fairfield Temperance Union was instituted with Rollin J. Wilson as president, Miss Anna Kerr and A. Loomis as vice presidents, Miss Clara Musselman as secretary, W. B. Murray as treasurer, and A. A. Judson, O. L. Hackett, A. J. Sheridan, O. S. Weeks and Mrs. Mary M. Woodward as an executive committee. Within a month there was a membership of more than two thousand. It offered a friendly hand to men addicted to drink and helped many to overthrow their unhappy habit. Its weekly gatherings, when speeches, songs and appropriate readings renewed its conquering fervor, were thrilled with reports of reformation among acquaintances and friends, who often bore testimony in person. Its field of labor was extended to the country. It stimulated "The North Prairie Amateurs" and others dramatically inclined to stage "Ten Nights in a Barroom," so that this play and its moral became generally familiar. It provided and supported a free reading room. Its influence raised the fee for a license in Fairfield to $300, a material increase. Under the stress of its crusade, the number of lawful saloons dropped from eighteen to five.
Taking note promptly of the possible political consequences of the "Blue Ribbon" agitation, the republicans in their state platform, presumably prepared by James F. Wilson, asserted "that personal temperance is a most commendable virtue in a people, and the practical popular movement now active throughout the state for the promotion of temperance has our most profound respect, sympathy and approval." In 1879, they so far advanced their position of mere commendation as to favor "submitting to the people, at a special election, a constitutional amendment prohibiting the manufacture and sale of all intoxicating liquors as a beverage within the state." After this pronouncement, there could be no avoidance of the issue with honor. The legislatures of 1880 and 1882, both under republican control, took the proper steps to keep faith. On June 27, 1882, an amendment, as proposed by the first of these bodies and agreed to by the second, was voted upon by "the qualified electors."
The contest locally was warmly waged. The advocates of prohibition conducted a systematic campaign. The saloons, of which there were ten in Fairfield and perhaps several elsewhere in the county, put up an earnest opposition. The decisions rendered in the various precincts are exhibited in the subjoined table:
The townships, it will be observed, divided evenly. The amendment, however, received a majority of 490 votes out of 3,058 cast. In the state at large it was adopted by a majority of 29,759 votes. On July 29th, it was proclaimed by Gov. Buren R. Sherman "a true and valid part of the constitution of the State of Iowa."
In theory and in law prohibition was accomplished.
In October, Judge Walter I. Hayes of the District Court, in a case brought before him in Scott County, declared the constitutional amendment invalid because improperly enacted. In January, 1883, the Supreme Court of Iowa, on an appeal, affirmed the decision. There was much outcry at what was termed the subversion of the popular will. A rehearing was obtained in April, when James F. Wilson, John F. Duncombe and C. C. Nourse unsuccessfully argued for a reversal of the original opinion.
Through the door opened by his procedure, the question was boldly introduced into the arena of partisan politics. The democrats advocated "a well regulated license law." The republicans recognized the moral obligation requiring the passage of laws to "provide for the establishment and enforcement of the principle and policy affirmed by the people at the non-partisan election." The latter triumphed and in March, 1884, wrote the prohibitory sentiment in the statutes. This enactment was vigorously attacked by the liquor interests. In March, 1885, its constitutionality was sustained.
On June 14, 1884, the Fairfield Temperance Alliance was established for the purpose of securing obedience to the legislation in restraint of the traffic in liquor. Rollin J. Wilson declining the presidency, Henry C. Rainey was chosen to fill the position. The other officers were: W. W. Junkin, vice president; John W. Burnett, secretary; and Thomas Bell, treasurer. The organization afterward became more elaborate. In 1887 and 1888, the period of its greatest activity, the officers were: Henry C. Rainey, president; Perry King, vice president; John W. Burnett, secretary; and George Heaton, treasurer, with whom were associated as township vice presidents H. Gorsuch of Walnut, Louis T. Hill of Penn, W. H. McCracken of Blackhawk, F. M. Stephenson of Polk, Edwin Tuller of Locust Grove, W. B. Murray of Fairfield, Loren Clark of Buchanan, E. Sampson of Lockridge, Elijah Billingsly of Round Prairie, George B. Phillips of Cedar, Samuel H. Watkins of Liberty, and C. J. Fulton of Des Moines.
A rule of conduct contrary to the idea of "personal liberty" held by a large number of people and cutting squarely across the personal habits of many individuals is not accepted without a struggle. It was met in this instance both with secret violation and with open defiance. Its boldest and most persistent enemy in the community was Louis Suess, who conducted a brewery. In March, 1885, his stock of beer and wines was seized and destroyed. In July, 1886, the operation of his brewery was enjoined as a nuisance where alcoholic beverages were sold to "minors, drunkards and drunken men." In August, he secured a restraining order from the United States Court, and then sought from the Board of County Supervisors a permit to make sales "for mechanical, culinary and sacramental purposes only," which they refused to grant. For something like a year, taking advantage of every legal technicality which could be employed, he played hide and seek in the various courts with the prosecuting officers. In July, 1887, he was driven into a corner and heavily fined. Failing to keep an agreement to desist from further infractions until the law's constitutionality was determined in the Federal Court, in early 1888, he was brought to bar charged with many separate offenses. His prosecution was ended under a stipulation to pay a fine of $100, dismiss his appeal to the Supreme Court of Iowa, and pay all costs, both in state and United States courts, and "not to engage directly or indirectly in the manufacture or sale of beer or other liquors contrary to the laws of the State of Iowa." For this compromise, Rollin J. Wilson, the county attorney, was severely criticised, largely, it may be suspected, because the course pursued by Suess had alienated sympathy for the loss in use and value imposed upon his property. This was the end. Suess dismantled his brewery and removed from the state. Since that date, though covert "holes in the wall" and "bootleggers" have occasionally plied their occupation, there have been no saloons in the county. Better than any comment could do, the fact expresses and explains the character of the people who maintain it.
In 1873, the dilapidation of the courthouse aroused a sense of insecurity. Complaints of its condition went unheeded. In January, 1875, the grand jury reported it dangerous and unfit for public use. In April, Judge L. C. Blanchard, declining to risk lives under its roof, requested the supervisors to provide another place for holding court. They complied by renting Jordan's Hall. With this condemnation as a spur to action, a new building to be completed within a cost of eighty thousand dollars, was proposed. The proposition, submitted as required by law at the general election, was rejected by the voters as extravagant. Similar proposals, the cost to be kept within fifty thousand dollars, were offered the voters in 1876 and in 1877 only to be overwhelmingly defeated. Wet seasons, poor crops and hard times just then encouraged economical views. During these years Wells' Hall served for a courtroom. Harmony Church was next purchased for this purpose. In 1879, the question of a courthouse, within a cost of fifty thousand dollars, was again put upon the ballot. There were cast 772 affirmative votes and 2,006 negative votes. In January, 1880, the "old ruin" was abandoned to owls and rodents, the various offices being moved to such quarters as could be found for them. In March, the jury called attention to the precarious situation of records and documents. The warning brought about some temporary precautions to insure their preservation. In the hope that it would funish a solution to the perplexing problem in Jefferson County, an amendment to the statute relating to expenditures for public improvements which would permit them to be passed upon at special elections, was adopted by the sitting General Assembly at the instance of Senator Sanford M. Boling. It was believed that the voters would be more easily influenced or more generously disposed when not subjected to political entanglements. The belief was tested at a special election in March, 1881, when a grant of authority to erect a courthouse within a cost of fifty thousand dollars was asked for. Debates in the country literary societies stirred up a lively interest in the subject. The denial was emphatic. There were but 644 votes for it to 1,401 votes against it. Fairfield Township alone returned a favorable response. After this dismal failure, the matter was long treated with neglect and indifference. A petition, circulated in 1889, favoring a courthouse with additional grounds to cost within seventy-five thousand dollars, was derisively dubbed an "old chestnut." With the amount reduced to sixty-five thousand dollars, the matter was referred to the voters at the general election. Although it was shown that the tax involved could not be burdensome and that an expense could not be legally contracted in excess of the sum specified, the measure was lost by a majority of 227 votes. It was approved, however, in the townships of Walnut, Fairfield, Buchanan and Lockridge. A feeling sprang up that the odds were changing. The choice of Elmer A. Howard, a democrat, to be a member of the Board of County Supervisors, removed the excuse for partisan hostility. Accordingly at a special election held on November 20, 1890, it was once more put up to the electors to decide whether or not, at a cost within seventy-five thousand dollars, a courthouse should be built, and whether or not additional ground should be purchased. An organized effort was put forth by leading citizens to have the entire plan sanctioned. Their reward was a majority of 323 for enlarging the site and a majority of 328 for building. In securing funds, the supervisors wisely determined to offer the necessary issue of bonds to residents of the county. Although containing a provision for optional redemption at any time, they were promptly subscribed for and taken up at a premium. The architect selected was H. C. Koch of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For superintendent of construction Thomas L. Hoffman was chosen. On February 10, 1891, a contract was closed with Theodore Preston for the erection of the edifice, which was located in the center of block three in the old plat of Fairfield. On April 28th, the work of excavation began. On July 4th, under the direction of Clinton Lodge, No. 15, A. F. & A. M., the cornerstone was laid with the impressive ceremonies of the Masonic order. Appropriate historical addresses were delivered by Daniel P. Stubbs and Charles D. Leggett. On December 29, 1892, the structure was accepted from the contractor. On January 20, 1893, occurred its dedication to public needs. In these exercises the prominent figures were Daniel P. Stubbs, Elmer A. Howard, J. S. McKemey, R. D. DuBois, John R. McElderry, M. A. McCoid, Robert F. Ratcliff, and I. D. Jones. At last the records of the county, on which titles to lands and rights to roads are largely dependent, were safely and securely housed.
In the fall of 1874, the executors of the estate of Lewis B. Parsons, who left, in 1855, a bequest to be "expended in forwarding and endowing an institution of learning in the State of Iowa" under the oversight of the Presbyterian Church, were casting about for a desirable location in order to discharge their trust. The advantages of Fairfield were presented to them by its citizens with their characteristic vigor. Numerous public meetings were held in December to awaken interest in an opportunity to grasp both material and educational benefits for the community. The promoters of this movement were Charles Negus, Rev. Carson Reed, George A. Wells, James F. Wilson, William Elliott, Robert A. Young, George Stever, George Craine, C. W. Slagle, D. P. Stubbs, Rev. Reed M. Wilkinson, John W. DuBois, Rev. Compton Burnett, Charles D. Leggett, James F. Crawford, J. J. Cummings, John A. Spielman, Joseph Howe, W. W. Junkin, Ward Lamson, Robert McElhinny, W. F. Pumphrey and Charles David. The county was thoroughly canvassed by townships for subscriptions to meet the financial requirements. Before the end of January, 1875, an amount in excess of $27,000, mostly in negotiable notes, was raised. The terms of the executors were satisfied. On February 24th, Parsons College was incorporated; or, as the fact was enviously stated, it was "taken off its wheels" and placed upon a permanent foundation.
A beautiful tract of twenty acres lying north of Fairfield was purchased for the campus. Groves of native forest trees increased its charm. In the midst of these stood a handsome old brick house built by Bernhart Henn for his own home. Here, in September, the first students gathered and were assigned to classes. Young women unexpectedly appeared for entrance with the young men. There was no excuse to turn them away. The alternative was to receive them as a matter of course. Their coming was welcomed. By this chance, and not by design, coeducation was established.
In June, 1880, the first class was graduated. In 1889, citizens of Fairfield made up $7,000 to replace a shrinkage in the original donations and to relieve a pressing indebtedness. In 1901, Ballard Hall was erected to provide a dormitory for girls.
The chapel, begun in 1875, added to in 1882 and again in 1892, when completed, was the commodious and massive structure Ankeny Hall, so called in honor of a generous giver. On August 19, 1902, it was totally destroyed by fire. In dollars, the loss was heavy; in sentiment and memories, the loss was irreparable.
The calamity was borne with fortitude. Adversity often is a way, rough though it may be, leading to better things. It proved to be so in this instance. Smoke was yet rising from the ashes when the friends of the college moved to grapple with the emergency. Chiefly by acquiring land adjacent to Fairfield on the southwest, platting it as an addition and selling the lots at a stated price, the right of choice among the buyers to be determined by lot, an aggregate sum of $29,500 was obtained.
A system of buildings having been planned in accord with existent and expectant needs, Fairfield Hall and Foster Hall, the latter at the expense of ever generous Thomas D. Foster of Ottumwa, were expeditiously erected and on September 22, 1903, opened. These were followed in 1907 by the library, the gift of Andrew Carnegie and Thomas D. Foster, in 1909 by the gymnasium, the gift of the trustees, and in 1911 by Barhydt Chapel, the gift of Theodore W. Barhydt.
The successive presidents of Parsons College during this formative and constructive period were: From 1877 to 1879, Rev. John Armstrong, D. D.; from 1879 to 1880, Rev. E. J. Gillette, D. D.; from 1880 to 1889, Rev. T. D. Ewing, D. D.; from 1889 to 1896, Rev. Ambrose C. Smith, D. D.; from 1896 to 1900, Rev. Daniel E. Jenkins, D. D., Ph. D.; from 1900 to 1904, Rev. Frederick W. Hinitt, D. D., Ph. D.; from 1904 to 1913, Rev. Willis E. Parsons, D. D.; and from 1913, Lowell M. McAfee, LL. D. The presidents of the Board of Trustees were: From 1875 to 1907, Rev. Willis G. Craig, D. D.; and from 1908, Thomas D. Foster, LL. D. This simple but high praise may be properly bestowed upon them all: They were devoted servants to the institution entrusted to their care.
A telephonic connection was installed in July, 1878, between the residence and office of W. W. Junkin. More curious than useful, probably, it was a sign of promise. In 1883, the Iowa Telephone and Telegraph Company of Davenport put in an exchange in Fairfield. There were few subscribers. The service was unsatisfactory. The rates were felt to be onerous. The telephone was then regarded as a nuisance. In 1897, the Jefferson County Telephone Company established a system. Moderate charges enabled many to subscribe which made it, in fact, a practical means of communication. Its lines spread out into the country and extended to neighboring towns. The telephone was then found to be an advantage, for it saved time and steps in placing orders with grocer, in conveying messages and in calling the doctor, all quickly.
In 1878, Moses A. McCoid was elected representative to Congress from the First District of Iowa. He was continued in the office two more terms. Curiously, in 1880, the opposing candidates for the place were also residents of Fairfield. These were Daniel P. Stubbs, who stood for the greenback party, and W. B. Culbertson, who stood for the democratic party.
When James A. Garfield became President of the United States in 1881, he called to his cabinet as Secretary of the Interior, Samuel J. Kirkwood, one of Iowa's Senators. Kirkwood thereupon resigned the senatorship and opened the way for some worthy aspirant to obtain this position of honor and preferment. James F. Wilson soon after made public his own candidacy for the next regular senatorial term. His announcement was received with favor throughout the state. His fitness in ability and experience, as man, lawyer and legislator, was acknowledged. When the caucus of the republican members of the General Assembly convened on January 10, 1882, Governor Gear, who also had sought the office, personally withdrew his name from consideration. Wilson was then nominated without opposition. The Legislature duly confirmed his nomination. In this relation he served the people of Iowa twelve years with distinction.
On the evening of February 22, 1858, at the courthouse, Charles Negus, in a lecture of some two hours' length, gave an historical (sic) account of the settlement and growth of Fairfield. On its conclusion, the old settlers present, who had come to Jefferson County before January 1, 1846, repaired to the Jefferson House and partook of a "sumptuous feast" prepared by Landlord J. V. Myers. The registry of the company shows the dates of arrival: 1839, February 22, J. A. Gallaher; 1840, November, B. B. Tuttle; 1841, March, Charles Negus; 1841, May, R. H. Vandorin; 1842, May, D. Mendenhall; 1842, October 5, George Craine; 1842, August, J. A. Cunningham; 1842, November 10, J. M. Slagle; 1842, November 13, Thomas D. Evans; 1843, January 11, Anson Ford; 1843, April 23, C. W. Slagle and George Acheson; 1843, November 13, J. E. Cumings; 1843, November 20, T. W. Titus; 1844, October 28, Jesse Byrkit; 1844, November 4, S. H. Bradley; 1845, May 1, William Myers; 1845, May 15, E. C. Hampson. After toasting and responding around the circle, they resolved to consider themselves "an Old Settlers' Club" and "to have a second festival one year from this time."
The "second festival" was a supper on February 22, 1859, at the National Hotel, then conducted by G. W. Honn. The registry shows these additions to the former list: 1838, February 12, J. M. McClelland; 1842, October 10, E. R. Norvell; 1842, September, William Long; 1843, W. L. McLean; 1844, Mungo Ramsey; 1845, March 30, I. D. Jones; 1845, May 20, W. K. Alexander; 1845, June 30, B. Henn; 1845, John Fore. An address by Charles Negus was supplemented by numerous toasts. Resolutions offered by Henn, providing "that the wives and widows of all old settlers be invited to join in the festivities of the occasions," and for a permanent organization and annual meetings, were adopted. They adjourned "to meet in this place one year from this evening."
For twenty years matters more urgent than recalling memories of the past demanded attention. On March 4, 1879, the Old Settlers' Association of Jefferson County was organized. All who resided in the county prior to January 1, 1850, were eligible to membership. The officers were John W. DuBois, Sr., president; W. S. Lynch and John Snook, vice presidents; W. W. Junkin, secretary; and Charles David, treasurer. There were secretaries also for the townships: For Walnut, Amon Park; for Penn, Lafayette Coop; for Blackhawk, John Bell; for Polk, T. W. Gobble; for Locust Grove, D. M. Parrott; for Fairfield, W. K. Alexander; for Buchanan, W. D. Clapp; for Lockridge, F. O. Danielson; for Round Prairie, W. B. Frame; for Cedar, F. T. Humphreys; for Liberty, W. F. Dustin; and for Des Moines, Robert Black. The first reunion was held on October 9th in Slagle and Acheson's Grove, now Chautauqua Park. C. W. Slagle made the principal address. The celebration was an eminent success.
In recent years great crowds have attended these reunions, which have grown to be festal affairs. Innocent amusements and stunts to laugh at succeed one another throughout the day so that there are no dull moments. The emphasis is placed, however, not on the work of the pioneers, but on the successful labors of their descendants. The chief feature is a parade in which business interests, mercantile interests, manufacturing interests and educational interests are represented. It is a panoramic view of important activities of the community.
On September 3, 1907, the Jefferson County Old Settlers' Park Association was incorporated. It was designed to promote social reunions, the interchange of memories and the perpetuation of friendships, to preserve the Bonnifield Log House and other things of historical value, to maintain a park and to make it a home for plants, birds and animals native to Iowa. In January, 1908, ten acres adjoining Fairfield on the north were acquired for the park. In this, the Bonnifield Log House was reerected. The place is often used for social gatherings.
In February or March, 1885, a small group of farmers began meeting on Saturday afternoons at the courthouse to interchange ideas on matters relating to agricultural pursuits. They styled the gathering the "Farmers' Club," though attendance was the only formality of membership. The first officers were: J. A. Ireland, president, and Jacob Funck, secretary. Besides these two, there attended and participated in free and easy discussions, at one time or another, Waltus Collins, Ed Campbell, Jr., John Ross, Ward Lamson, Edward Davies, John Williamson, John W. DuBois, George Heaton, E. A. Norvell, Alexander Armstrong, J. H. Wright, John B. Horn, C. N. Brown, A. Stoner, George Cochran, James F. Wilson, John Marcy, W. E. Groff, C. W. Gage, F. T. Humphreys, J. A. Hysham, J. S. Noble, M. Hollister, F. Sackett, J. T. Hodson, J. G. Burkhart, J. W. Quillen, Hiram Heaton, L. J. Marcy, and H. D. Blough. For fifteen years they continued to assemble. The subjects with which they concerned themselves, although usually of a technical nature, as "Raising of Horses," "Diseases of Cattle," "Cultivation of Corn," "Hay Making," "Protection and Growth of Orchards," "Fertilizing the Soil," "Rotation of Crops," and "Intensive Farming," also embodied issues of local, state and national interest. Illustrative of the latter class and indicative of some general thought at a particular period were the following topics: In 1885, "Leasing of Public Lands and the Establishment of a Cattle Trail," "Evils of Railroad Transportation and the Remedy," and "Improvement of the County Fair"; in 1886, "Butterine," "Appointment of a Dairy Commissioner," "Reduction of Taxation," "The Proper Basis Upon Which to Estimate the Value of Labor," and "How Make Farming Attractive to Boys"; in 1887, "Encouragement of Manufacturing"; in 1888, "Schools"; in 1889, "The Twine Binder Trust"; in 1890, "Free School Books" and "The Eight-Hour Day"; in 1893, "Teaching Political Economy" and "Good Roads"; in 1894, "The New Scheme of Taxation"; in 1896, "Leaving the Farm for Town"; in 1897, "Protection of Birds," "Torrens System of Transferring Land," and "Postal Savings Banks"; and in 1899, "Territorial Expansion." Some of these questions have dropped from sight, some have been solved, some are in process of solution, and some are merely academic.
In February, 1898, through the influence and effort of this club, the first "Farmers' Institute" was held in Fairfield. In December, the Farmers' Institute Association of Jefferson County was organized. Its purpose was "to teach better methods of farming, stock raising, fruit culture, domestic economy, and everything pertaining to farming, and to promote the moral, intellectual, social and material welfare of the community." Its officers were: J. A. Ireland, president; John Ross, vice president; Jacob Funck, secretary; E. R. Norvell, assistant secretary; C. W. Gage, treasurer; and George Heaton, J. P. Manatrey and Eli Kelly, the executive committee. Soon after this the "Farmers' Club" ceased to exist. It gave way to a successor, which, though confining its labors to a few days' session annually, is more effective in its work because it is carried on systematically.
The announcement in January, 1892, that Andrew Carnegie had generously consented to provide a home for the accumulated books and treasures of the Jefferson County Library Association came to the people of Fairfield as a happy surprise. James F. Wilson, to whose intercessions this promise was mainly due, a few days later donated a suitable site. A public banquet to him on February 25th expressed the popular acknowledgement and appreciation of the gifts. A contract for the erection of the building proper was let in May to C. Stafford of Kansas City, Missouri. On March 29, 1893, this work was accepted. On September 29th, with the books on the shelves and the museum in order, Library Hall was opened. There were congratulatory speeches by James F. Wilson and Ward Lamson, to whom the event was the realization and fulfillment of hopes long cherished, and by Prof. Richard A. Harkness and Dr. Ambrose C. Smith, to whom it was the concretion and the harbinger of intellectual and moral growth.
There was abundant reason to rejoice. The association was in possession of a handsome fireproof structure in a choice location on which had been expended $3,500 by James F. Wilson, $40,000 by Andrew Carnegie, $107.80 by John S. Dole, and $2,000 by James H. Hampson. It had received as endowments $1,000 from Ward Lamson and $700 from Mrs. Christian W. Slagle. A grand piano from Mrs. Rachel Hampson stood on the stage in the audience room. A portrait of Andrew Carnegie from H. C. Frick hung upon the wall. Dr. J. M. Shaffer's unrivalled collection of mounted specimens of birds and mammals native to Iowa, graciously presented, could but recall notable acquisitions of earlier dates, as the Indian curious gathered by W. W. Junkin, the Roman antiquities and the relics of the ancient lakedwellers sent from Italy and Switzerland by Maj. S. H. M. Byers, and the valuable American archaeological remains purchased from Samuel B. Evans.
Dedicatory exercises were held on November 28th with James F. Wilson, president of the association, in charge. A sonnet composed for the occasion was recited by its author, Hiram Heaton. Ward Lamson read an historical paper (sic) recounting the origin, trials and progress of the institution. Miss Alice L. Heald, in an exceptional address, praised the usefulness of learning.
Good fortune, it was learned brings care. Expenses increased. The problem of maintenance grew serious. Commenting upon a report of its finances, W. H. Johnson of the Iowa State Library Association in an article published in The Capital of Des Moines in February, 1897, pertinently asked in substance, "What is to hinder the City of Fairfield voting aid to its library and providing funds for its support and for the purchase of books?" Whether this was the source of the suggestion or not, the propriety of action in this direction was considered at the annual meeting of the stockholders of the association on January 21, 1898, and a committee was named to investigate its feasibility. A favorable report brought on a series of earnest discussions. A tentative plan for the transfer of the property to the city elicited the fact that to do so legally it was necessary first to amend the articles of incorporation. The matter was then dropped until the next annual meeting, when, on January 13, 1899, an amendment was adopted authorizing the president and secretary, under certain restrictions, to deed the real and personal holdings of the association to the City of Fairfield. A definite offer, setting forth the obligations to be assumed, was submitted to the city council. This body, judging it acceptable, instructed the mayor, A. W. Jacques, to embody its submission on March 27th to the electors in his proclamation announcing the regular election. This was the first opportunity afforded the women of Fairfield of legal age to cast a real and authoritative ballot on a measure of government. They responded by casting 509 affirmative votes and but 20 negative votes, while the men cast 478 affirmative votes and 127 negative votes. The combined majority of 840 votes clearly attested the general desire.
In June, Mayor Joseph Ricksher appointed as trustees to carry this decision into effect, Ward Lamson, Rollin J. Wilson, Mrs. J. S. McKemey, Mrs. R. B. Louden, Mrs. W. C. Ball, C. M. McElroy, W. G. Ross, C. J. Fulton and A. W. Jacques. The trustees organized by electing Ward Lamson president, Rollin J. Wilson vice president, C. J. Fulton secretary, and Mrs. J. S. McKemey treasurer. They chose for librarian, H. M. Dysart, and for assistant librarian, Mrs. Clara B. Howlett. On January 1, 1900, they took control in trust of all property of the Jefferson County Library Association, which has been administered since as the Fairfield Free Public Library. The change proved beneficial. The wisdom of it remains unquestioned.
Repeated reports of Spanish misrule in Cuba so shocked American ideas of liberty and government that Anthony W. Jacques, in his official capacity of mayor of Fairfield, requested patriotic citizens to meet on the evening of October 24, 1895, at the hall of George Strong Post, G. A. R., to express their sympathy with the Cuban people. Charles D. Leggett and William G. Ross reviewed their history and the tyrannous conduct of their rulers. A resolution proposed by Perry King, favoring the recognition of the Cubans as belligerents, was adopted. The incident was symptomatic. It was one of the little clouds heralding a gathering storm. It was a sign and an expression of the stirring of the moral sense of the nation that was finally reflected in Congress. That body in March, 1896, directed President Cleveland to offer the friendly offices of the United States to the Spanish Goverment to aid in bringing about the pacification of Cuba. The overtures led to no solution of the problem. Conditions in the unhappy island steadily grew worse. On February 15, 1898, the Maine at anchor in the harbor of Havana was destroyed by an explosion. This event extinguished the lingering hope that intervention by the United States could be avoided. On April 19th, an ultimatum was communicated to the Spanish minister at Washington; on the 21st, diplomatic relations were severed at Madrid. The conflict with Spain was on.
Prior to the resort to arms, the Legislature of Iowa appropriated $500,000 to be used in case of war. In anticipation of a call for volunteers, the National Guard was instructed to increase its strength. Company M of the Second Regiment belonged to Fairfield. This military organization, which had been mustered into the militia on December 18, 1895, had been formed and developed by Wilson G. Heaton. On April 22d, it was directed to be ready to move at a moment's notice. A formal farewell to its members took place on the evening of the 25th at the opera house. Delay in the arrangement for their transportation permitted a dinner to be served them next day at the Leggett House. The air was charged with excitement. Schools were dismissed and places of business closed. The hour for leaving, longed for and dreaded, struck at last. Then veterans of the Civil war escorted them from the armory to the park. After listening to a short address of admonition and encouragement by Mayor Anthony W. Jacques, amid well-wishes and cheers, they departed by train for Camp McKinley at Des Moines. On May 17th, they were mustered into the service of the United States by Capt. J. A. Olmsted of the regular army as Company M of the Fiftieth Iowa Infantry. Their officers were Wilson G. Heaton, captain; Hugh C. Stevenson, first lieutenant, and Wilson Reed, second lieutenant.
At this time the ranks were composed of George W. Adkins, Thomas Alter, Claude B. Ankrom, William J. Ankrom, George A. Axline, William S. Blair, Oliver W. Boatman, James H. Buchanan, Charles C. Cummings, William F. Dahms, Samuel L. Dana, Jacob E. Davis, Adrian W. Fairchild, James S. Gaumer, George Gibson, Roy Gibson, David Ginkens, Walter R. Harlan, Alfred S. Heaton, Theodore Hochuly, George V. Jenkins, Peter J. Johnson, Albert H. Jordan, Abraham Kann, Winfred B. Kelley, Walter M. Kilpatrick, Wirt B. King, Frank Krumboltz, Edwin E. Lucas, William A. Lynch, William R. McGrew, Charles B. Magill, Roland H. Marsh, Joseph Matson, Charles B. Mullenix, Charles H. Murphy, Edward E. Neff, Zane Ogden, James E. Parsons, William Price, Albert S. Rider, John H. Riggle, Ralph Rogers, Albert M. Sargent, Loarn Sargent, Gus V. Scott, Robert F. Shelton, Andrew M. Smith, Samuel K. Smith, Milt Stephenson, James L. Stevens, Thomas H. Stewart, David M. Stout, Henry Swanson, James E. Turner, Charles Van Nostrand, Francis Walker, William E. White, Morris Wilhermsdorfer, George C. Woods, Ira A. Workman and Charles S. Youmans.
Later enlistments added Samuel E. Axline, William A. Baker, Henry C. Bales, John E. Bandy, Frank Bennett, William Bidwell, Frank Carpenter, Melvin H. Corey, Herbert Donaldson, James H. Fligg, Charles A. Goodall, Hans C. Hansen, Peter Hansen, Thomas Hedge, Jr., Samuel Heggum, Nathaniel Heizer, William J. Hiatt, H. Hovey Hootman, Robert L. Houston, William Howard, Charles Howisey, John Jaeger, Frank B. Jones, Ezra Keller, Sylvester W. Kelley, Charm King, Paul E. Kretchmar, Andrew M. Kromer, Fred Lacey, John A. Matson, Talbott D. Morris, William Morris, Lin I. Noble, Ernest P. Parsons, Joseph R. Peters, James G. Pickett, Harry Reid, Clarence E. Ristine, Raymond H. Robb, Charles M. Robinson, James J. Ryan, Walter M. Shaeffer, Albert S. Smith and Frank A. Walker.
On May 21st, the Fiftieth Iowa Infantry was ordered to move by rail to Tampa, Florida. While on the way, its destination was changed to Jacksonville, where it arrived on the 24th and pitched its tents in Camp Cuba Libre. The ground where this was situated was found, when the rainy season came on in the fall, to be low, undrained and unhealthy. Much sickness appeared among the troops. Governor Shaw, in consequence, felt obliged to inspect the sanitary conditions. The death of Charles Van Nostrand on August 17th (sic - August 13th, reported in "The Fairfield Ledger" on August 17th) of typhoid fever and alarming rumors of other serious cases led to the holding of a mass meeting at Fairfield on the 29th and the voting of a request to the Government to send the regiment to some northern point to recuperate. The need to employ it or to hold it for emergencies having passed, it was returned to Iowa. On September 17th, it reached Camp McKinley. After a small number were detailed to care for the sick and guard the property, the rest, both officers and men, were given furloughs. On the 21st, when the members of Company M were welcomed home, the buildings about the square were decorated with bunting and flags, a reception with music, songs and speeches was held in the park, and a dinner for them was spread in Columbia Hall. They reported again at Camp McKinley on November 2d, and on the 30th were mustered out. They had not the fortune to prove their courage on the field of battle, but they did show, in the trying routines of army life, the will and the heart that make it up.
Three well known young men of Fairfield were privileged to participate in military activities on Cuban soil. These were Dr. James Frederick Clarke, surgeon of the Forty-ninth Iowa Infantry, and Charles S. Crail and Joe S. Crail, both of whom were in the Twelfth Company, United States Signal Corps. Wilson G. Heaton, appointed first lieutenant of the Thirty-fourth United States Volunteer Infantry on July 5, 1899, was sent to the Philippines and took part in the campaign against the insurgents.
Lessons learned in the experiences of the Civil war were recalled and made use of. A Soldiers' Aid Society was instituted among the women with Mrs. J. A. Boatman as president, Mrs. H. F. Booker as vice president, and Mrs. R. B. Louden as secretary. A Jefferson County Soldiers' Relief Association was effected among the men with Jacob S. McKemey as president, H. H. Brighton as vice president, Charles M. Junkin as secretary and Frank Light as treasurer. The latter collected and disbursed $587.40 in transportation charges, the hire of nurses, and funeral expenses.
In November, 1899, two rural free mail delivery routes, one running out of Libertyville and one running out of Batavia, were recommended. In March, 1900, they were put into operation. In July, 1901, two routes leading out of Fairfield were established. These were the beginnings of a system which has helped to free the dwellers in the county from a sense of detachment and isolation and to put them in touch daily with the affairs of the world.
In 1902, Elmer A. Howard was elected mayor of Fairfield to institute a policy of street paving. The program decided upon and carried out included the streets forming the "square" and extending one block from it in each direction with the addition of South Main to the original boundary of the city, and of West Broadway and North Fourth to the freight depots. Improvement is destructive as well as constructive, it was discovered. The posts and chain around the park, where it was customary for horses and teams to be tied while their owners attended to business affairs, shopped and visited, were removed and not replaced. Some country people found fault. Some merchants complained of loss of trade. Prophecies of a long train of evils, in case the innovation was sustained, were extravagant. Opinion divided on the extent of the grievance and of the injury. The restoration of the hitching-place became the dominant issue in municipal politics. Candidates who favored the return of the old conditions were defeated. Officials, though assailed in turn with petitions and counter-petitions, firmly upheld the new order. To relieve a situation recognized as unfortunate, they encouraged the establishment of feed yards. Gradually an adjustment of the difficulty, practical at least, if not wholly satisfactory, evolved. The advent of the automobile also afforded much relief. Now that the park is a common meeting-place and social pleasure-ground, there are few to condemn the cause victorious.
In the spring of 1904, through the efforts of Rev. J. S. Tussey of Little York, Iowa, a promoter of the then rising Chautauquan movement, the Fairfield Chautauqua Association was organized. In its inception, the officers were C. J. Fulton, president; Rev. Thomas Osborne, vice president; C. W. Wade, treasurer, and H. M. Miller, secretary. On June 30th, it was incorporated.
A suitable site for camping was difficult to find. Various places were considered and one by one eliminated until only the "Fair Grounds" remained available. There, beginning June 29th and ending July 9th, was held the first assembly, a pleasurable course of instruction in which Bible study, music, lectures and entertainments were the features of attraction. The receipts were less than the expenses. In spite of this discouraging fact, the signs for the future of the venture were promising.
In 1905, a second trial was faced with confidence. In all respects, financially and otherwise, it was a pronounced success. It was clearly seen, however, that to continue on the "Fair Grounds," flat, swampy in wet weather, without shade and with few conveniences for the comfort of a crowd, meant the quick decay and probably the end of the enterprise. Longing eyes had often turned toward the magnificent "Slagle Grove." Negotiations finally ended in 1906 in a contract for this at $10,000 to be paid in several annual installments. For $100 the abandoned "Q" right of way adjoining was purchased, making in all about thirty-three acres acquired. To convert this tract into "Chautauqua Park," over one thousand, six hundred dollars were expended in arranging hitching quarters, providing a good supply of water, installing a system of electric lighting, and in erecting minor buildings.
As an earnest of the belief that the cause could stand upon its own merits, business advertising was excluded from the booklet, a policy since continued. In the realization that the ordinary income would not cover the heavy outlay, it was arranged to use the appearance of Bishop C. C. McCabe on the platform as an opportune occasion to sell paid up stock. Owing to his kindly offices and the prevailing enthusiasm, people of both city and country cheerfully responded.
In 1907, Rev. William A. Sunday, the wonderful evangelist, was induced to visit Fairfield to conduct a religious revival. The "Tabernacle" created especially for his services reverted as a gift to the Chautauqua Association. It was removed to "Chautauqua Park," enlarged and strengthened. As rebuilt, it is 163 feet in length and 100 feet in width. In a measure it lost to the audience the out of door effects and the mellow lights of the "Big Tent" it supplanted, but it substituted for those quiet charms a compensating and satisfying sense of security.
In 1909, subscriptions for stock to be paid annually for four years, amounting in the total to more than $4,000, were secured to lift the debt remaining upon the land. Despite the long period, there were few delinquencies. The maturing obligations were met. In 1913, a deed was obtained vesting the title in the Fairfield Chautauqua Association.
This material growth in a decade, possible only through universal goodwill and cooperation, was the means to nobler ends. To bring in men and women of distinction to present in person their views upon the problems of the age, to widen information, to extend culture, to raise the standard of morals, to create new aspirations, to promote sociability, to form desirable acquaintanceships, these were the primary purposes. There are no rules for the measurement of spiritual forces when set in motion. Rev. Sam P. Jones, William Jennings Bryan, Booker T. Washington, Maude Ballington Booth, Chaplain C. C. McCabe, John Sharp Williams, Governor John A. Johnson, and a host of others less known to fame, came with torches burning, wove their spells, and left with those who heard them liberalizing influences and suggestive memories.
In 1905, the building of an electric railway to connect Keosauqua and Fairfield was proposed. It was to run by way of Mt. Zion and Birmingham. There were public meetings at all four places to discuss the undertaking. Figures were quoted to show what revenue might be counted upon from passengers and freight. As presented, the project was attractive. Considerable enthusiasm developed. Money was contributed for a survey. The most favorable route was found by the engineers to lie through Stockport. In 1906 the plan took on a more comprehensive and definite form. The Iowa and Missouri Power and Traction Company was incorporated at Keosauqua. The line was to be extended southward and northward. Power was to be derived from the Des Moines River. Money to finance the enterprise, it was announced, was in sight, provided there were libaral local contributions. In July, a mass meeting of the citizens of Fairfield declared in favor of a 3 per cent tax on the township to aid it. Petitions to submit this to the voters received the requisite signatures. It was sustained at a special election on September 5th by 775 affirmative ballots against 223 negative ballots. In March, 1907, the county supervisors granted the use of a part of the highway leading to Birmingham for a right of way. The course of events in the next few months discovered the prospect to be an empty shell. The rest of the story is a record of failure. No actual construction of the road was ever attempted.
The voting of the tax in Fairfield Township was not relished by those who lived without the city proper. These had cast 104 ballots in opposition and thirty-seven ballots in approval. Taking advantage of a statutory provision, T. C. Ross, Louis Barrow and Solomon Gaumer, in January, 1907, laid before the county supervisors a petition praying that the territory without the corporate limits of Fairfield be cut off from it and set up as a separate township. There was no remonstrance. The division was duly decreed. The portion left was confirmed as Fairfield Township; the portion taken away was established as Center Township. On November 5th, at a special election, its officers, three trustees, two justices of the peace, two constables, a clerk and an assessor, were chosen. On the first Monday in January, 1908, the separation became effective and complete. Some annoyance was experienced because there was no accessible and convenient central point for a polling place. The irritation caused by this situation was cured in 1909 by an amendment of the law to permit the polling place to be fixed at the courthouse.
In 1899, the establishment of a hospital in Fairfield was broached. A discussion followed lasting more than a year. Early in 1901 an effort was made to convert favorable comments into active work. It ended in failure because fear of the immediate expense and of the burden of maintenance afterward was an obstacle which could not be reasoned away. In 1905, the suggestion was renewed. Interest in it was only lukewarm. Quite unexpectedly, in 1909, the Legislature passed "an act to enable counties to establish and maintain public hospitals." It was the expression of an idea which came to Dr. E. E. Munger of Spencer, Iowa, and was worked out by him. In December, 1910, sufficient sentiment was developed under this law to secure the calling of a special election on March 27, 1911, to submit to the qualified electors the voting of a half-mill tax for ten years to provide such an institution. By means of addresses and the publication of articles on the questions involved, full and complete information was disseminated. There were cast 2,265 ballots, of which 1,379 were for the tax. The chief difficulty, provision of means, was thus overcome. Washington County alone anticipated Jefferson County in taking this step. For trustees, the county supervisors appointed E. D. Y. Culbertson, L. J. Marcy, Dillon Turney, T. C. Ross, John Fritz, C. W. Wade and F. K. Laughlin. In organizing this body, E. D. Y. Culbertson and Dillon Turney were respectively chosen president and secretary. Grounds were purchased in the eastern part of Fairfield. It was discovered, when plans for the building were under consideration, that the funds were insufficient to supply some essential requirements. In this predicament, generous citizens came to the rescue with subscriptions aggregating several thousand dollars. There were liberal donations also of furnishings and equipment by individuals and societies. On September 17, 1912, the Jefferson County Hospital was dedicated. Dr. E. E. Munger, to whose happy inspiration its existence was due, participated in the exercises. On October 2d, with Miss Amy Beers in charge as superintendent, it was opened for the reception of patients. Its service to sick and injured has exceeded expectation. The beneficence of its operation is generally recognized. Women's auxiliaries in Fairfield and Libertyville methodically labor "to increase its usefulness." They render invaluable aid.
The grand jury which met in the fall of 1912 condemned the jail as "utterly unfit" for habitation and for the confinement of human beings. The terms of its denunciation were strong. The district court refused to commit criminals to its cells, but sent them away for imprisonment. The county supervisors, having had the situation put up to them in this forcible manner, took notice and acted. A proposition for the erection of a jail and sheriff's residence at an expense not to exceed eighteen thousand dollars was submitted to the voters at the general election. It carried by a fair majority. Thus was brought about the razing of the old structure and the building of a new one, modern in style and equipment.
On February 8, 1912, the legal voters of Fairfield authorized two proposals, one being the sale of the Franklin School grounds at $15,000, and one being the issuance of bonds to the amount of $60,000 for the erection of a high school building. On taking action on the first, men only voted, giving a majority of 714 in its favor. On taking action on the second, both men and women voted, giving a majority of 1,218 in its favor. A building, planned along approved scientific lines for its special purposes, was erected. The original estimate for its construction proving insufficient, on June 6, 1913, an additional sum of $15,000, to complete, furnish and equip it, was voted. A shrewd guess, as Emerson has suggested, may be given from the house to the inhabitant. The high school itself is worthy of its home. It offers classical, scientific, normal, agricultural, domestic and vocational courses. Its advantages, provided for the children of the city, are enjoyed by many boys and girls, who attend from country districts.
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