Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cemetery Tour 1: Stanton and Hallensleben

This is the first of five posts planned for the next couple of weeks that will consist largely of scripts used by performers during the 13th annual Chariton Cemetery Heritage Tour, "Stories from Potter's Field," held on Sunday and sponsored by the Chariton Historic Preservation Commission. Mandi Hunter, portrayed Gertrude Aughey Stanton, the narrator, who introduced herself, provided cemetery history and then introduced William Hallensleben, portrayed by Mike Graves, as well as five others as the program continued.


Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to represent the Stanton family in welcoming you to the Chariton Cemetery, “our” cemetery until 1924 when these these beautiful acres were sold to the city for $10,000.

My name is Gertrude Aughey Stanton and I was the last Stanton family member to own and operate the cemetery as a private business --- from 1922 when my husband, Dr. John H. Stanton, died unexpectedly at the age of 60, until 1924, when my daughters and I sold it to the city of Chariton.

My father was the Rev. John H. Aughey, called to serve Chariton’s First Presbyterian Church in December of 1886. I was 19 when we arrived in Chariton and 21 when Father accepted a call to serve a Pennsylvania congregation and we moved there, then west to pastorates in Oklahoma and Kansas. But I formed an enduring friendship with John Stanton, a physician son of Dr. James Eddington Stanton, and during 1894 I returned to Chariton to marry him.


As some of you may know, my father-in-law, Dr. J.E. Stanton, and 19 other prominent men of Chariton organized the Chariton Cemetery Co. during June of 1864, dividing 60 shares of stock priced at $20 each among themselves, and with the proceeds purchased the 80 acres here from which the current cemetery of about 60 acres has been formed. The new cemetery replaced what now is known as Douglass Pioneer Cemetery and a smaller graveyard, once located on the site of Columbus School.

The original plat consisted only of the long and relatively narrow strips on either side of the main driveway that still stretches west from the front gate.

At that time, nearly every cemetery had what was known informally as a “Potter’s Field,” an area, sometimes in small cemeteries only a lot or two, reserved for the burial of those who could not afford a burial place or who were strangers.

We are now in the area of the Chariton Cemetery designated as Potter’s Field back in 1864, although at the time it was called the “South Cemetery.”

At the time, this pretty hilltop was isolated from the rest of the cemetery and out of view of the general public, reached by a lane leading south from the west end of the original plat.

The Potter’s Field reference, of course, is to the verses in the Gospel according to Matthew describing the actions of the chief priests after Judas had cast down before them those 30 pieces of silver. “And they took counsel,” Matthew reports, “and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.”

The South Cemetery was never platted because no lots were sold here. Instead, as the need arose, individual gravesites were allocated to poor families or to city or county officials as the need arose.


As the years after 1864 passed, my father-in-law gradually purchased the stock of other organizers and by 1890, he owned the Chariton Cemetery Co. outright. Father Stanton took great pride in the cemetery and after his sons joined his medical practice, spent more and more time devoted to it. It was his pride and joy. He built the Stanton Vault --- long since demolished --- during 1887 and the remains of many family members, including my own, still are interred in its footprint.

I was not involved in cemetery operations until after Father Stanton died in 1908 and ownership passed to my husband. So I don’t know what happened to the original cemetery records.

By I do know that in 1902, when my father-in-law and his staff commenced the records still used by the city, he said that 78 people had been buried here in Potter's Field since the cemetery opened. Approximately 100 have been buried here since. So somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 souls, most likely more, rest here --- most in unmarked graves.

Much of what you see around us now in other parts of the cemetery represents landscaping and improvements undertaken after the city assumed ownership of the cemetery. It is such a beautiful and historic place that it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Chariton Cemetery Historic District.

As the need for more burial places developed the original plat was extended southward and modern tombstones have now surrounded these once-isolated graves --- but care always has been taken to guard the integrity of these final resting places.


I’m now going to introduce several of the people interred here over the years so that you can better understand the life circumstances that brought them here. We’ll begin with William Hallensleben, who died during 1867 and was among the first interred on this hilltop.


I’d like to begin by telling you that my name is misspelled on this tombstone, which is annoying since I paid for it --- indirectly --- myself. I’ve been waiting nearly 150 years to let someone know that; now YOU do. 

My name is William Edward HALL-ens-leben, with an “a,” not HOLE-ens-leben, with an “o.” But Col. Dungan did the best he could by me when he ordered the stone, which he really didn’t have to do --- so I’m not going to complain any more than this. 

Well …. He was a little off on the age, too --- I was only 59. And I was a native of the kingdom Prussia --- there was no “Germany” when I was born. But like I said, he did the best he could. 

I was among the first to be buried here in Potter’s Field, although as the tombstone suggests, I could have afforded a better neighborhood. But my death on Nov. 18, 1867, was a considerable surprise, especially to me, and I was not prepared. 


As I said, I was a native of Prussia, born there during 1808. I came to the United States of America just before 1840 and settled in Pennsylvania, where I married Hannah and we had five children in Huntington County, where we operated a hotel. 

During the mid-1850s, Hannah and I sold out and headed west to Freeport in far northern Illinois, where I went into business with George Bickenbach as Hallensleben & Bickenbach, purveyors of general merchandise ranging from groceries to dry goods. I became a naturalized citizen of the United States while living at Freeport --- during the fall of 1856. 

My life kind of fell apart after 1860, however --- the business failed and we had to sell out; Hannah died; and my children began to scatter. 

So I took to the road --- just ran away, kind of. 

By December of 1863, I was in Ohio and took a notion to enlist even though I was far too old. I knocked 10 years off my true age (told them I was 44) and tried it anyway --- and was mustered into the 1st Ohio Light Infantry Regiment. 

But my body couldn’t take it, so after a few months I was discharged “for disability.” 

After that, I headed west and found a job as clerk in the post office at St. Joe, Missouri, during late 1864 and 1865. By 1866, I was clerking at the St. George Hotel in Leavenworth, Kansas. 

Later on in 1866, I decided to head back to Illinois, but got only as far as Burlington, Iowa --- then a boom town on the Mississippi --- where I decided to return to a trade I’d learned as a young man in Germany --- painting signs and decorating the walls and trim of buildings old and new. I set up shop and advertised my services --- graining, papering, glazing and gilding --- and managed to do fairly well. The equipment didn’t require much of an investment and the customer provided the supplies. 

The new Burlington & Missouri River Railroad tracks reached Chariton during July of 1867, meaning building supplies could be shipped in by rail for the first time, too. And it became a boom town for builders. 

So in September of that year, I packed my equipment and took the train west. I rented a room over the S. Stewart & Sons store on the northeast corner of the square and that was both my shop and my home. I began advertising in the Chariton newspapers and soon had as much work as I could handle. 


Then on November 18 I just up and died --- and to this day I don’t know exactly what it was that killed me. But I had no family or close friends in Chariton and the sheriff could find nothing in my belongings to tell him who to contact. 

So the county commissioners took charge of my remains and arranged for them to be buried at county expense in the Potter’s Field of the new Chariton Cemetery. 

Later that month, the county clerk named attorney Warren S. Dungan to administer my estate. He had my belongings inventoried, did his best to find my heirs (but failed) and finally just sold everything I had, combined the proceeds with the cash I had on hand and turned it all over to the county judge. 

It was the judge’s decision, once Col. Dungan had been paid for his trouble and upon his recommendation, to reimburse the county for my burial expenses, then spend most of the rest on a tombstone to mark my grave. 


Col. Dungan knew me slightly --- his office was near my shop and we had exchanged pleasantries from time to time. So he ordered the tombstone and a footstone to match. He knew that my native language was German and that I was about 60 years old. He had a good idea about how my name was spelled, and almost got it right. 

So that’s how I came to be buried here in Potter’s Field --- and why I have a tombstone that had it not broken still would be the biggest and best in the neighborhood. So far as I know my family never knew what became of me. I don't know if they even cared.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Museum's appreciation day open house Saturday

Looks like we're going to have sunshine and pleasant temperatures Saturday morning for the Lucas County Historical Society's annual Appreciation Day open house on the museum campus at 123 North 17th Street. Hours will be from 10 a.m. until noon and all are invited.

Boy Scouts will raise the flags on the Bicentennial Flagpole at 10 a.m. and provide other demonstrations during the morning. Hit cider and coffee cake will be served in the Pioneer Barn.

All seven buildings on campus --- Stephens House, Lewis Building, Otterbein Church, Puckerbrush School, Pioneer Log Cabin, Pioneer Barn and Blacksmith Shop --- will be open for tours.

There will be free face-painting for youngsters in Otterbein Church as well as a petting zoo on the south lawn featuring small farm animals. Jerry Book will provide a blacksmithing demonstration near the Blacksmith Shop.

Visitors also will be able to take a look at improvements made on the museum campus this year, including new display cases for the military collection, new carpet and new paint plus total reorganization in the Lewis Gallery and adjacent Library. Once we close for the season after Oct. 1, new lighting will be installed in the gallery and library, completing a year-long project funded by a generous Vredenburg Foundation grant.

In addition, we've repaired and resided the north side of the sprawling Lewis Building and repainted and ordered up a new sign for Otterbein Church --- both projects funded substantially by a South Central Iowa Community Foundation grant.

After the guests have gone Saturday morning, we'll honor museum volunteers --- the folks who keep the place moving forward --- during a luncheon in the Pioneer Barn. All who have volunteered during the year as guides, gardeners, collection aides and in any other capacity are invited.

The museum will close for the season after Saturday's events, but the office will be open Tuesdays during the off-season and tours always may be arranged by appointment.

In addition to relighting the Lewis Gallery and Library during October, we'll begin implementing two projects --- funded by a Coons Foundation grant --- that will improve handicap accessibility. The first will be to pave the graveled parking area immediately east of the Lewis Building ramp. The second will involve installation of new sidewalks and ramps so that guests may access the church, school, cabin and barn more conveniently.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Redlingshafer immigrants & the nature of language

Werner Gertberg, who out of the good of his heart has undertaken a great deal of research into my Redlingshafer family in Nuremberg and elsewhere in Germany, located and shared one of the missing pieces the other day.

This is the 1848 notice that my great-great-great-grandparents, George and Doratha Redlingshafer and their large family, would be permitted to leave their native farming village of Heinersdorf, Bavaria, and emigrate to the United States --- unless someone protested within 14 days.

It was published in the Supplement to the Royal Bavarian Intelligenz-Blatt for Central Franconia on Wednesday, April 12, 1848. Since the family did arrive at the port of Baltimore later that year, then travel to southwest Pennsylvania where they lived for a time before many family members moved onward to Iowa, it would appear that no one protested. 

George Redlingshafer died at Guttenberg in Clayton County during 1856, but Doratha and four of their eight children --- Anna Margaret (Redlingshafer) Rosa/Wulf, John George Redlingshafer (my great-great-grandfather), George William Redlingshafer and Margaret Anna (Redlingshafer) Hupp --- all settled down and lived out their lives in Benton Township, Lucas County.

The only minor puzzle in the notice is the fact it states that George and Doratha planned to travel with 11 kindern, or children, when they had only eight. Perhaps the three extras were grandchildren, children of John Kaspar Redlingshafer, an older son of George's by his first marriage. We just don't know.

At that time, Bavarians who planned to emigrate needed permission from the royal government to leave the country, but did not need permission to enter or settle in the United States and so the screening process in Baltimore and at other ports would have been minimal.


This all brought to mind the question of language, and some of the accommodations various levels of  government, schools and many businesses in the United States now make to ease the way for immigrants for whom English is a new language. For some reason, these accommodations generate anger now and then among those who have forgotten their own immigrant roots and seem to be operating under the delusion that the ability to speak English should descend like a gift of the spirit once one crosses a U.S. border.

It's just never worked that way, and still doesn't.

There's no indication that my great-great-great-grandmother, Doratha, ever learned to speak English. She really didn't need to; always surrounded by family and, until arriving in Lucas County, living in U.S. communities where German was spoken. All of the Redlingshafers were well-educated for their time --- but in German. And learning a new language becomes increasingly difficult as one ages.

The younger generation of immigrants, including my great-great-grandfather, John G., mastered English, but he made the wise decision to marry Isabelle Greer, a school teacher for whom English was native language and she helped him grind away the rough spots.

The third generation --- that of my great-grandparents --- were in some instances bilingual. There are family stories that suggest some of this generation at least could speak among themselves in German when they didn't want their children to understand what they were talking about.

the fourth generation --- my grandparents' generation --- had no ability at all to read, speak or understand German.


In Lucas County, we're lucky to be able to see that dynamic at work among our neighbors with roots in Ukraine. Grandparents most likely never will learn English. Their children will struggle with but eventually master the language. The youngest immigrants will be bilingual. And the fourth  and future generations, unless family bonds are held tightly, run the risk of losing the language entirely.

It's the American way.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sunday afternoon in Potter's Field

Terrific performances, an appreciative audience and cooperative weather --- we had everything we could have hoped for late Sunday afternoon for the 13th annual Chariton Cemetery Heritage Tour, this year "Stories from Potter's Field."

Mandi Hunter, performing as Gertrude Aughey Stanton, served as narrator for the program, providing background for this big and scenic area of the cemetery where more than 180 people --- mostly those who died in poverty or who were strangers among us --- have been buried since 1864, a majority in unmarked graves.

We played guessing games with weather forecasts all weekend, but the heavy rains predicted overnight Saturday-Sunday passed to the west and the showers predicted for Sunday did not materialize. So we were able to stage the event in Potter's Field rather than the cemetery shelter, our backup plan.

Mike Graves told the first of the Potter's Field stories, performing as William Hallensleben, who died in 1867 and was among the first to be buried here in what once was an isolated section of the cemetery.

We had good help in staging the event, sponsored by the Chariton Historic Preservation Commission. Commission Chair Alyse Hunter was chief organizer and recruiter; and commissioners Frank D. Myers, researcher and writer, and Dave Edwards and Jerry Taylor, sellers of tickets at the cemetery gates, movers of chairs and other equipment and general coordinators.

Miriam Hibbs portrayed Anna (Johnson) Sandahl, a native of Sweden and wife and mother in a family impoverished by circumstance, who was buried here during 1904. One of Miriam's ancestors, John Westling, had a small part in Anna's story.

Nick Hunter erected banners, helped load, unload and carry; and Karoline Dittmer used Lucas County Historical Society equipment to record the event.

Kylie Dittmer, appearing as veteran Chariton journalist Pearl Lewis, told the story of Eliza Ann Carter, born in slavery and matriarch of Chariton's black community, when she died during 1923 after a long life of more than 100 years.

When a gust of wind scattered programs across the cemetery, Trae Hall, one of the performers, and his granddad, Francis Snook, chased them down and figured out how to hold them in place.

Dennis Smith (left) and Steve Laing were just terrific as two unidentified strangers, tramps if you like, who were buried here in 1905 and 1909 respectively, one after falling off a train while riding the rails, the other a suicide.

I've probably forgotten some of the people who helped to make this year's event a success, but we're grateful to one and all.

Trae Hall, as Carl Jones, completed the performances by telling the story of a young man from southern Illinois who became critically ill while passing through Chariton during 1932 and was taken in and cared for in the community for more than six weeks before his death and burial in Potter's Field.

I'll be posting the scripts from the tour individually over the next few weeks.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ray Swanson's meticulous model

I picked a good time to wander in to the Lucas County Historical Society Museum Thursday afternoon --- when Larry Swanson (left) and his wife, Linda McCumber, of California, brought in this magnificent model of a 1895 Case tractor to join the collection.

The model, which consists of some 1,500 parts, was made not long after World War II by Larry's father, Raymond H. Swanson (1911-1987), who will be remembered by many because of the jewelry store he operated until retirement during 1985 in the Ritz Theater building.

Larry and Linda were accompanied by their friend, Greg Moore (right), of the Des Moines area. He is a son of the late A.O. "Mecan" and Margie Moore and a nephew of the late Lloyd Moore. I'm not sure he was convinced when we told him he had to be in the photograph just because folks would be interested in seeing what Mecan Moore's son and Lloyd Moore's nephew looked like now.

The model was donated by Larry and his sister-in-law, Kay Swanson, widow of Larry's late brother, Roger Swanson, of Oskaloosa.

Ray Swanson was a native of Lucas who married Ferne Rouse during 1932 and operated a jewelry store in Humeston from 1934 until 1942, serving as projectionist at the Princess Theater there, too. 

He had hoped to return to business in Humeston after World War II, but couldn't find space to rent in that busy little town, so reopened his shop in a former service station in Lucas instead. A skilled watchmaker and repairer of watches and other intricate devices, he spent about a year building the model, crafting each of its 1,500 pieces --- many tiny, many on his jewler's lathe. By his estimate, he spent some five hours a day on the project. He was working from photographs he had taken of an 1895 Case that he had found sitting in a farmyard.

He also was serving as projectionist at the Ritz Theater in Chariton at the time --- and eventually moved his family to Chariton and opened his businiess here.

This is a working model, designed to burn alcohol in order to build a head of steam in the tiny boiler. Swanson, who displayed the model in the window of his Chariton shop on special occasions, eventually shifted to compressed air to operate it, fearing that the combination of fire and water would damage it.

We're delighted to have this wonderful item in the collection now --- and you'll be able to see it first-hand if you attend our Harvest Festival open house at the museum from 10 a.m. until noon next Saturday, Oct. 1. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Chariton High School Class of 1951

This old Russell boy waded through a sea of Charger red at Friday's late-afternoon alumni gathering at Carpenters Hall to join the opening hour of a 65th-year reunion for the Chariton High School Class of 1951. Frank Mitchell issued the invitation --- which included one of Thelma Saxton's fine buffet meals --- and I was glad to comply.

Here are the class members in attendance. See how many you recognize.

Seated (from left) are Johanna Cappellin Linn of Lakewood, Colorado, Flo Gray Burley of Chariton, Dan Gullion of Ottumwa, Margaret Conrad Saxton of Montgomery, Alabama, Davidene Roberts McDonald of Chariton, and Ken Lee of Chariton.

And standing (from left): Frank Mitchell of Chariton, Harold Wright of Des Moines, Richard Risbeck of Chariton, Bob Clark of Chariton and Richard Hobbs of Lucas.

Johanna Linn brought the evening's entertainment from Colorado with her, in the form of her husband, Ellis.

You may see members of the class out and about today. They plan to meet for breakfast at Hy-Vee, then tour and reminisce some more at the Lucas County Historical Society museum.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Coffee in an historic setting at The Porch

It   was a considerable treat Thursday afternoon to enjoy a good cup of coffee and a homemade scone at Chariton's new coffee house, The Porch. The bonus was seeing one of Chariton's most architecturally significant buildings, also known as the O.E. Payne House and Dual Gables, all polished up and serving a new function in its 127th year.

Shelley and Ron Sadler purchased the historic cottage earlier this year from the Lucas County Arts Council, its stewards since 2002. They have been working since then to prepare it for this week's opening. No changes were made to the interior other than modifying the kitchen to serve its new purpose and the bathroom, to serve as a restroom.

The staff as closing time approached Thursday included (from left) Shirley Llewellyn of Toledo, Iowa, Shelley Saddler's mother; Shelley; Ron; and Carissa (Sadler) Jacobsen, of Osceola, their daughter. Other Sadler children are Tiffany, married to Chris Kuball, of Austin, Minn.; Joel, youth director at Chariton's First Baptist church; and Joshua, of Cedar Falls. Shelley also works at the South Central Iowa Community Action Program (SCICAP) and Ron, at Hy-Vee Osceola.

Hours at The Porch will be 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., although today --- Homecoming --- the new business will remain open until 4 p.m. Grand opening continues through Saturday. In addition to coffee and coffee-based beverages, tea, cold drinks and a variety of pastries also are available. More information and a detailed menu may be found here, on The Porch Facebook page.

The Porch's cottage home was built in 1889 at what now is 705 Auburn Ave. by O.E. Payne, then Lucas County clerk of court, who had married his deputy clerk, Alice (Ryan) Payne,  during 1887. As they were preparing to move into the home with their first son, Harlan, The Chariton Democrat published the following under the headline, "A Modern Chariton Curiosity," in its edition of July 4, 1889:

"Brother O.E. Payne, Clerk of the District Court of his county, has built one of the neatest and prettiest of all the Chariton houses. It is odd, remarkably odd. We like it because it is out of the usual order of things. It is a one story cottage, composed of some nine or ten rooms (six actually) of rather small dimensions, amply provided with beautiful figure heads at its dual front, rich ornamentation on its hurricane decks, and commodious port holes at the rear. This residence is located on East Third Avenue (renamed Auburn some years later), fronts south, and is of this precise shape: 'Y.'

"It is said that the reason Mr. Payne built here is because he feared it would not be healthy for a public officer to own all his estates in Ringgold county and draw all his official emoluments from Lucas. So he invested in Lucas. Mr. Payne built his residence in a Y shape because he was Y's enough to see the fitness of things in it. The rear represents Lucas county where he holds office, one prong represents Ringgold, where he farms; the other represents Clarke, where his deputy resides."

The second paragraph, obviously, is tongue-in-cheek. The fact that the youthful Mr. Payne (he was 29 when the house was built) did not own property in Lucas County had been a bone of contention when he was running for clerk of court during 1887 --- as was the fact he was an ardent suffragist. He apparently did own some land in Ringgold County, however. Alice, also his deputy clerk, was a native of Murray in Clarke County where they had been married at her parents' home on June 5, 1887.

The little house, innovative then and now and best described perhaps as Victorian picturesque, is in the shape of a “Y” with the branches facing Auburn and the stem extending back to the north. The two angled rooms at the front are large, light and pleasant, flanking a small porch. The leg of the “Y” behind them is divided lengthwise with two small bedrooms (the rear bedroom now a work room) to the east and a kitchen and bath to the west. The flooring, interior and exterior woodwork and other architectural details are intact (although in several cases restored or reproduced when missing) --- including a tiny strongly vertical fireplace with coal grate in the southwest room. In its way, it is perfect.

O.E. --- whose given name, never used, was Oma Edward --- was an Illinois native who grew up near Liberty Center in Warren County.

He   started his working life as a peddler, upgraded to "traveling salesman" by the time he arrived in Chariton during the early 1880s. Sheer personality seems to have been a major factor in his election as county clerk during 1887, but he was good enough at the job to be re-elected to a second term.

O.E. and Alice had three children after their 1887 marriage, but she developed consumption during the 1890s and her health deteriorated. During the late years of that decade, the family moved from Chariton to Old Orchard in St. Louis County, Missouri, and sold their innovative Chariton home to Marena Houston, whose husband, Samuel D., had died during 1896.

Alice Payne died in Old Orchard on Feb. 13, 1900, and O.E. seems to have remained there for a few years before heading for Canada during 1907. He settled in Alberta, near what became Hanna, farmed for a while and became a naturalized citizen during 1913.

On   June 28, 1912, O.E. and the widowed Margaret Powell, of Chariton, were married at Calgary, Alberta, and settled down at Hanna. By 1921, O.E. listed his occupation there as newspaper journalist.

As   the years passed, O.E. had become increasingly interested in Christian mission work and during 1922, the Paynes left Canada, returned to Chariton for a time and then set sail during 1923 for Kimberly, capital of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. His occupation was listed as "author" on the passenger list of the vessel that carried them as far as London; hers, as nurse.

During the early summer of 1925, however, O.E. died suddenly at Kimberly, captial of the Northern Cape Province. At the time, he reportedly was supervising the work of dozens of native South Africans in what was described as the Kimberly mission field.

And there he was buried, a considerable distance from his innovative little house on East Auburn Avenue in Chariton, Iowa.

A number of people owned and occupied the Payne house over the years without altering it beyond restorability. Marena (McKinley) Houston lived there until her death on May 27, 1928, age 95, and her funeral services were held in the little house.

In 1978, Karen (Christensen) Messamer, then teaching in the Chariton schools, rescued the by-then deteriorated building and during 1983 began a years-long one-woman restoration effort, investing both her own and grant funds (it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979).

Evenually, Messamer no longer wished to carry on and tried to give the building away to a responsible group willing to take it on. The Lucas County Historical Society declined. But the Lucas County Arts Council --- the only citizen group in the county at the time with a consistent positive record in the field of historic preservation --- agreed to accept it.

Arts Council volunteers completed the restoration and also acquired a derelict house just east of it, demolished that and created in place of an eyesore a pleasant nicely-landscaped corner at Auburn Avenue’s intersection with Highway 14.

Members of the Arts Council have been very good steward of the little building, but have struggled to find a practical use for it. Most recently, it has served as a furnished short-term rental for people visiting in Chariton or working here briefly. It worked beautifully as that and several friends of mine have enjoyed staying there over the years. But maintenance and operations were considerable burdens for a small all-volunteer organization.

After acquiring the O.E. Payne house, the Arts Council took on the massive task of restoring the C.B.&Q. Freight House, now a popular events venue. Although greeted with rave reviews from preservationists when restoration was complete --- and it continues to receive these accolades --- Freight House restoration left the Arts Council with considerable debt.

Sale of the Dual Gables to responsible new owners will allow the Arts Council to focus on the Freight House and other activities with less to worry about.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stories from the Potter's Field

Gertrude Stanton, the last member of her family to own and operate the Chariton Cemetery as a private business, will introduce five “Stories from Potter’s Field” during the 13th annual Chariton Cemetery Heritage Tour this Sunday, Sept. 25, beginning at 4 p.m.

The presentation will be held in Potter’s Field, the hilltop area in the far southwest corner of the cemetery where the poorest of Chariton’s poor, and strangers, have been buried --- most in unmarked graves --- since 1864. An estimated 180 people are buried there, although the area appears to be mostly vacant.

Seven guest presenters will perform as Mrs. Stanton and her guests, telling the stories of William Hallensleben, a stranger buried there in 1867; Anna Sandahl, impoverished wife and mother, who died in 1904; Eliza Ann Carter, matriarch of Chariton’s black community when she died, age approximately 102, during 1923; two nameless tramps, whose remains were found along rail lines but never identified in 1905 and 1915 respectively; and Carl Jones, a young man who fell critically ill while traveling through Chariton in 1932, then was cared for and buried by the community when his illness ended in death six weeks later.

Admission, $5 per person, will be charged with proceeds going toward purchase of a sign to mark the location of Potter’s Field. Advance tickets are available at Piper’s, City Hall, Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street and Clark’s Greenhouse. Tickets also will be sold on Sunday at the cemetery.

Those who attend are asked to drive into the cemetery and park in the general location of Potter’s Field, along driveways or in the designated parking area at the foot of the hill to the east. Seating will be provided. Cookies and lemonade will be served.

The presentation will be held rain or shine, but in case of rain will be moved to the “English cottage” shelter house at the heart of the cemetery.

The Chariton Cemetery was begun during 1864 by a private company with 19 stockholders. It replaced two earlier burial grounds, one now known as Douglass Pioneer Cemetery, and the other on the current site of Columbus School.

Stanton family members were sole owners from the 1890s until 1924, when it was sold to the city of Chariton. Extensive landscaping, innovative design and improvements such as the shelter are among the reasons it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Chariton Cemetery Historic District.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

We felt Charleston's 1886 earthquake, too

After the 1886 Charleston earthquake.

Back on Sept. 3, I was sitting here at the keyboard typing early on a Saturday morning when the house creaked, then rolled a little under me. 

After deciding I wasn't having a dizzy spell, the next step was to go outside to see if something had gone wrong with the foundation. Then my friend Lana Jean, who lives in Oklahoma, posted "Earthquake!" on Facebook. 

As it turned out, Iowans were feeling a 5.6 magnitude quake centered near Pawnee, that state, that had occurred at 7:02 a.m., since generally attributed to fracking. Although similar shakes have happened, historically, this is not the sort of thing Iowans are used to. My previous encounter with a tremor was many years ago while living in Iowa City.

Some weeks later, looking as I tend to do for largely irrelevant historical footnotes, it developed that had I been sitting here (not in front of a computer, of course) during the late evening of Aug. 31, 1886, I might have experienced something similar.

That would have been the great Charleston earthquake, with an estimated magnitude of 7, that remains one of the most powerful and damaging to hit the East Coast of the United States. An estimated 60 people died and property damage in Charleston and elsewhere in the region ranged from $5-6 million --- a considerable chunk of change 130 years ago. Hardly a building in historic Charleston emerged without damage. The shock was felt across the eastern half of the United States, even mildly on the western shore of the Mississippi in Iowa.

Coverage in the Chariton newspapers was minimal, but I did find this paragraph in The Democrat of Sept. 9, 1886:

"Chariton will not be 'downed' by anybody. The earthquake shocks which were distinctly felt in all the cities in the east and south on Tuesday evening were felt in Chariton. The Odd Fellows lodge in this place was in session, at their  hall in the Union block. About nine o'clock the building shook very perceptibly --- so much so in fact that two or three of the brethren left the hall, fearful of some dire calamity."

The Odd Fellows hall, at the time, was on the third floor of the relatively new Union Block.

The daily Iowa State Register, published in Des Moines, carried a couple of very brief reports about the tremor, datelined Burlington and Dubuque, in its edition of Wednesday, Sept. 1.

At Burlington, The Register reported, "A slight shock of earthquake was felt here at 9 o'clock this (Aug. 31) evening. Some of the occupants of high buildings beat a hasty retreat to the streets. No damange done."

And at Dubuque, "An earthquake shock was felt here at 8:58 this (Aug. 31) evening. It shook tall buildings severely, and part of the audience in the opera house ran out and for a moment there was a scene of confusion. The printers in the top story of The Herald office ran from the building, and guests ran from the upper rooms in the hotels."

Most earthquakes occur along the edges of plates, but the Charleston quake and others along the East Coast are characterized as "intraplate," a phenomenon still under study. What are called "microearthquakes" continue to occur in the region of the Charleston quake and generally are considered to be aftershocks of the 1886 event.

A little closer to home, the New Madrid (Missouri) quake (magnitude 7.5-7.9) of Dec. 16, 1811, also was intraplate. It remains the most powerful earthquake in recorded history east of the Rockies.

There wasn't a soul armed with paper, pen and a pot of ink in Iowa at the time, however, so we have no idea how that quake felt here. There are those who predict, however, that another quake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone is about due. So perhaps we'll find out. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A grand reunion for the 6th and 34th Iowa regiments

Chariton's Col. Warren S. Dungan, of the 34th Iowa, was among the organizers of the 1886 reunion. Here, from the Lucas County Historical Society collection, is a photo of Col. Dungan in Civil War uniform as well as a small photo album he filled with photos related to his service ranging from President Lincoln to lowly privates.


If your great-great, or even greater, grandfather served during the Civil War in either the 6th or the 34th regiments of Iowa Volunteer Infantry, there's a good chance he was in Chariton on the 8th and 9th of September, 1886 --- 130 years ago --- for a joint reunion a little more than 20 years after hostilities ceased.

At least 250 old soldiers registered for the event, but apparently quite a number slipped away without signing in. They were joined by nearly that number of veterans from other units as well as interested civilians, so it's almost impossible to estimate the total number involved. 

This was all organized and carried out without the benefits of e-mail, Facebook and credit/debit cards. But our forebears had some advantages. Transportation was a breeze --- nearly everywhere in Iowa was accessible by train; and Chariton had at least a couple of hundred hotel rooms plus many families willing to house the overflow.

This is The Chariton Herald's report, published on Sept. 16, 1886, under the headline, "The Reunion." The editor noted toward the end that these veterans were becoming "old men." It's interesting to keep in mind that a majority of the veterans would have been somewhere in the neighborhood of 50, not really considered old more than a century later.


The reunion of the surviving members of the 6th and 34th regiments of Iowa Volunteer Infantry, pursuant to previous arrangements was held in Chariton on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 8th and 9th. This meeting had long been looked forward to in expectation of a grand good time, and those who participated were not in any manner disappointed.

Through the untiring efforts of the members of the different committees, the arrangements were very complete, and all things passed off with clock-like precision. Particular attention had been paid to all the little minor details that are so essential to the success of such a gathering. The home committees were determined to give all the visitors the best entertainment the city afforded, and they did not fail in their efforts.

The weather was the only drawback experienced, but as this was a matter for which no one could be held responsible the situation was accepted with the best possible grace, and no complaints were heard. The arrivals began on Tuesday, and from that time until the evening of Wednesday, each train that arrived at the Chariton depot brought its complement of old soldiers. Previous arrangements having been made for the free entertainment of all who came, as soon as they arrived they were met by the different members of the committee, and assigned to their quarters, either at the private residences of citizens, or at the hotels. This work was so thoroughly done that no one of all those who came was unprovided for.

Promptly with the first arrivals came the rain. And it kept right on, and poured down in perfect torrents, so that almost everybody was discouraged except the old soldiers, who had seen much worse weather on the open field during their years of service from 1861 to 1865. The good cheer and good spirits which they manifested was soon transmitted to those who began to fear the rain would spoil all, and then came the determination to have a good time despite the elements.

Wednesday morning opened up dark and threateneing, and soon drove all indoors. But at the court house, with all the offices attached being thrown open, the crowd surged in and awaited developments. The noon trains brought hundreds of visitors, and after they had been assigned to quarters, and eaten their dinners, they all met for a few minutes in the park, between showers, and began to have a general good time. Pretty soon however, they were driven back into the court house, and then began a regular old-fashioned camp-fire. The entire afternoon was spent in spinning yarns, and relating incidents of the times spent in camp, on the march, and in battle. These little talks awakened many long forgotten memories, some thrilling, some amusing, and others sad. But they all came out, and were a pleasing feature of the reunion.

One very pleasing feature of the meeting of Wednesday night was the introducing to the platform of Col. Akers, who served in a Tennessee regiment on the other side of the question. He was introduced by Col. Dungan of the 34th Iowa in a most appropriate and pleasing manner, and was accorded a most hearty reception. He entertained the boys in a happy manner, making a speech that commanded their closest attention and brought from them round after round of applause. On this occasion, at least, the "Blue" and the "Gray" forgot the stormy days of the war and remembered that, although they were enemies then, they are friends and brothers now. Col. Akers will carry away with him a very warm feeling for the "old soldiers" who so heartily took him by the hand in Chariton.

Thursday morning was spent, principally, in transacting the business connected with the organization of the two regiments who were holding the reunion. The 6th decided to hold their next reunion in Centerville, while the 34th proposed fixing the time and place for their meeting until next year.

About 9 o'clock the sun broke through the clouds, and the hope sprang up that they day would be a pleasant one. This hope was fully realized, and soon the courthouse park was filled with the soldiers and citizens, who seated themselves on the benches, while the plaltform erected for the occasion was well filled up, and the regular order of exercises was gone through with. Among the old soldiers who addressed their comrades were M.M. Walden, of Centerville, Major Kellogg, of Garden Grove, H.B. Linton, of Nebraska, Joe Payton, of Centerville, Col. Dungan, of Chariton, Capt. Houston, of Marion, John Willmore, of California, J.F. Walker, of Kansas, Jas. Bracewell, of Allerton, Dr. C.T. Brant, of Chariton, Capt. Hunt, of Missouri, Major A.R. Anderson, of Sidney, Capt. McClannahan, of Corydon, Capt. Golding, Henry Blous, and some others whose names we failed to learn. But one man who had not been in the army addressed the survivors, and that address was delivered by J.C. Mitchell, Esq., whose father was a soldier in the 6th Iowa, and who died in the service. Mr. Mitchell made one of his characteristic speeches, which was attentively listened to by all, and well received.


The following is a list of the member of the 6th Regiment by companies and their post office addresses. Major D.J. McCoy, Zero; Surgeon, W.S. Lambert, Albia; Band, A.G. Johnson and J.B. Thompson, Osceola.

Company A: A.P. Alexander, John Carnagy and W.M. Harrison, Marion; C.A. Houston, Waubeek; J.K. Mitchell, Waseca, Minn.; J.H. Nott, Marion; A.N. Patmore, Red Cloud, Neb.; and C.S. Wilson, Albert Lea, Minn.

Company B: J.L. Adkins, Prescott; Joseph Best, Chariton; George G. Brown, Benedict, Kansas; John Bell, Chariton; Asa N. Callahan, Woodburn; A.J. Egbert, Melrose; Harvey Ford, Hubbell, Neb.; Valentine Harlan, Osceola; A.J. Johnson, Lenox; Joe R. Landes, Chariton; D.S. Myers, Chariton; Val Mendel, Albia; John Relph, Russell; D.S. Sigler, Corning; and Jas. R. Smith, Martinstown, Mo.

Co. C: F.M. Allen, Harvard; L.W. Brannon, Princeton, Mo., V. Hallock, Bethany Mo.; James M. Hutchinson, Cincinnati (Iowa); E.C. Haynes, W.T. Ogle, Joseph Payton, Silas Parker and S.W. Shaw, all of Centerville; Almer Swift, Moulton; H.H. Wright and M.M. Walden, Centerville; and G.W. Warles, Greentop, Mo.

Co. E: Jas. Amber Lovilia; Wm. Collett, Western Saline, Neb.; John E. Carhartt and Chas H. Claver, Albia; H. Hickenlooper, Albia; Hiram Hull, Hummaconna; John H. Hiteman, Albia; Wm. Jinkins, Milo; Ben L. Kimler, Lovilia; R.B. Ramsay, Floris; Allan Roberts, Lovilia; H. Sanders and John W. Service, Albia; and R.A. Wills, Emmerson.

Company F: O.P. Anderson and J.N. Ballou, Osceola; C. Barber, Woodburn; Thomas Carson, John Diehl and S.P. Glenn, Osceola; Isaac Gregg, Van Wert; Geo. Gutches, Elijah Hart, John H. Jamison and F.M. Kite, Osceola; Minton Calvin, Norborne, Mo.; A.C. Rarick, Osceola; and John Williby, Indianola.

Company G: E.G. Fracker, Iowa City; W.F. Green, Shelby; Daniel Green, North Liberty; C.N. Overfelt, Riverside; and Frank Shaffer, New Virginia.

Company H: Ed F. Alden, Grant City, Mo., C.W. Cooper and Clarkson Cooper, Brainard, Neb.; W. Galland, Montrose; George W. McNeely, Dayton, Ohio; Geo. R. Nunn, Keokuk; Geo. Shaner, New London; and O.C. Snyder, Kirksville, Mo.

Co. I: H.B. Linton, Shelby, Neb; O.H. Lowery, Burlington; Henry Mahler, New London; and James Turner, Unionville, Mo.

Co. K: Daniel Brook, New London; J.C. Ferree, Marysville; Andrew Pantridge, Peeksville, Mo., and R. C. Shipman, York, Neb.


The following is a list of the 34th regiment, by companies, with their post office addresses: Lieut Col. W.D. Dungan, Chariton; Major R.D. Kellogg, Garden Grove.

Company A: Eli H. Alexander, High Point; S.H. Briley, Garden Grove; G.W. Helt, Lewisburg; Perry Wolverton, High Point.

Company B: Samuel I Cassady, Somerset; James H. Cain and S.R. Cain, Hartford; J.B. Davis, East Des Moines; J.M. Freel, Pleasantville; J.C. Graham, Indianola; J.B. Guy and Geo. Hamilton, Milo; John McDole, Winterset.; Nathan McDole, Milo; J.A. Overbay, Milo; Robt. T. Pendry, Hartford; A.W. Pyle, Carlisle; A.J. Rodgers, Lacona; J.M. Ray and W.C. Rodgers, Hartford; Henry A. Stierwalt and W. Seaman, Sandyville; M.H. Stanton, Des Moines; and Jacob Smith, Lacona.

Company C: M.F. Clark, (New?) Sharon; H. Griffin, Angus; A.R. Henry, Battlecreek, Mich.; Joseph Hewett, Wm. P. Harbison, J.B. Moon and Joseph T. Meek, all of Indianola; B.S. Reynolds, Milo; J.A. Silcott, Indianola; and Nathan Smith, Lebanon, Kansas.

Company D: Chas W. Dunn, Lothrop; T.P. Edgerton, Liberty Center; Martin L. Flesher, Palmyra; J.B. Garbison, Milo; James Harlin, Lothrop; James Kimsey and James W. Lyons, Lacona; Henry Law, Chariton; Wm. W. Scott, Danbury; Morris Thompson, Caloma; and James L. Wilson, Milo.

Company E: J.A.J. Bentley and C.T. Brant, Chariton; Nathan D. Bales, Milo; Wilberforce Coles, Chariton; Samuel Carpenter, Newberg; Simon Cross, Leon; Luther Douglass and L.M. Duckworth, Chariton; Wm. C. Douglass, Williamsburg, Kansas; B.F. Dora, Chariton; Anderson Gartin, Delphos; N.B. Gardner and Amos Homsher, Chariton; Thomas W. Holloway, Woodburn; John L. James, Columbia; John Layton, Chariton; W.J. Moon, Newbern; Chas W. Mumford, Lacona; A.B. Noble, Chariton; Luther Riggs and Jas.. W. Stout, Newbern; and John Throckmorton, Derby.

Company F: Ranson G. Arnold, Norwalk; V.T. Bott, Corydon; James Bracewell, Allerton; H.H. Bobinhouse, Cambria; David Bott, Humeston; James B. Cook, Floris; D.R. Creig, Clyde, Kansas; James R. Davis, Confidence; I.G. Garnes and B. Gerard, Corydon; W.T. Kelley, Leon; J.L. Niday, Humeston; P.W. Syford, Allerton; P.L. Stech, New York; Saml. Scott, Corydon; and David Thomas, Harvard.

Company G: Monroe W. Fisher, Chariton; Wm. Goltry, Russell; A.J. Hood, Lucas; Wm. Hood, Great Bend, Kansas; A.M. Hood, Springfield, Mo.; John Long, Ola; Thomas J. Lowe, Weldon; James G. Leech, Derby; Jesse Mullen (McMulin?), Chariton; Abraham Sayers, Cambria; L.D. Smith Newbern; Ed R. Turner, Zero; James Tompkins, Clinton; John W. Willmore, Santa Ana, California; and James H. Woodmansee, Brooksville, Kansas.

Company H: Jasper R. Ashworth, Norwalk; C.H. Blosser, Patterson; Abraham Belz, Somerset; Emanuel Berry, Norwalk; Chas. Chandler, Spring Hill; Jacob H. Cox, Des Moines; Henry Egbert, Norwalk; Robert Herron, Derby; John Kern, Norwalk, Joseph Lockridge, Spring Hill; John McAndrews, Winterset; Matthew McCahill, Wick; Samuel Spring and Geo. W. White, Norwalk.

Company I: Peter Brennaman, Grand River; Nelson B. Eaves, Westerville; Alman S. Gardner, Leon; J.W. McGlaughlin, Decatur; F.G. Maffett, Grundy Center; Adnah Sheeley, Van Wert; L. Simpson, Leon; Albert Tharp, Leon; Thomas Ward, Decatur; and Henry H. Young, Grand River.

Company K: J.D. Barnard, Weldon; E. Badger, A.V. Boylan and Samuel Badger, Chariton; Wm. Boyle, Knoxville; Isaac Brown, Russell; John O. Coles, Chariton; S.E. Carmichael, Primgar; David Crawley, Chariton; John Chaney, Osceola; Stanford Lewis, Russell; C. Prather, Chariton; J.E. Robe, Ellinwood, Kansas; James Sowder and Thomas L. Strong, Russell; Geo. E. Sharp, Lacona; D.N.Simons and Levi Simons, Somerset; Jacob Seward, Sunshine, Dakota; Wm. Trout, Chariton; J.F. Walker, Bellville, Kansas; and C.W. Whitten, Chariton.

It is a matter of regret that a number of the two regiments failed to register their names with Capt. Gardner, to whom was assigned the work of completing the roll. The above embraces all the names of the 6th and 34th appearing on the register at the time it reached the Herald office. Capt. Gardner is making every effort to have the roll complete, and would be under obligations to any one who may be able to furnish the names of any other members.

A large number of old soldiers who were members of other regiments were present and participated in the exercises of the meeting. These men represented many different states, and numbered nearly if not quite as many as those of the 6th and 34th. Various estimates of the number of soldiers who were drawn to Chariton by the reunion have been made, but as many had no distinguishing badge from the citizens, it is merely guesswork to attempt to give the number.

The march round the public square on the afternoon of Thursday was a fine feature of the affair, and the steady tramp, tramp, tramp to the strains of martial music was a strong reminder that the boys, although somewhat out of practice, could still fall into line and do as nice marching as they could a quarter of a century ago, when called out on dress parade. But there was a marked absence of the springy and buoyant step that characterized them in days gone by. The "boys" are getting to be old men, and their ranks are being thinned out with frightful rapidity. It is a sad thought, that one many more years will come and go, until the last reunion will have been held, and the laslt man of that grand army will have passed off the stage of earthly existence. The soldiers of that army will soon be gone, but their legacy, a free and united nation, will be handed down to those who will never cease to revere their memory, while they enjoy the fruits of their labor and sacrifices.