Blog Archive

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wayne County Schools' Mascots and School Colors Past and Present


Before consolidation, there were ten high schools in Wayne County. Frequently, people ask about the various school mascots and school colors of the past. According to information located in the Prairie Trails Museum library, here is a list of the schools, mascots, and school colors:

The Allerton school colors were blue and white, and the boys' mascot was Blue Devils; the girls' mascot was  known as Devilettes.

Cambria's colors were blue and white, and they were known as the Comets.

Corydon High Hornets were represented by orange and black.

Clio teams were clad in purple and gold. They were the Tigers.

Humeston teams were formerly the Wildcats sporting royal blue and old gold colors.

Lineville Eagles wore red and blue, but it is noted in the information in the PT library that in 1937, Lineville boys' mascot was Indians, and the girls' was Goldettes. Their colors were purple and gold.

Millerton was known as the Waves represented by green and white colors.

The Promise City Eagles wore blue and white.

Seymour Warriors sported blue and white uniforms.

Sewal Bulldogs featured red and white colors.

In 2013, Wayne Community School in Corydon claim the Falcon as their mascot, and their school colors are black and white. Mormon Trail School in Humeston and Garden Grove are the Saints sporting black and gold colors. Seymour Community students are the Warriors, and they wear red and black today.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

One-Room Schools in Wayne County

Photographs in this post were taken at Williams School now located at the Round Barn Historic Site east of Allerton, Iowa.

Early pioneer children in Iowa were often taught in their homes by mothers or older sisters. As
populations grew in areas of the state, citizens organized local schools called subscription schools.
Children could attend these schools as long as their parents shared the expenses for supplies and
teachers. In 1839, a law passed by the territorial legislature made each county responsible for
opening and maintaining public schools.

According to a letter written to the Wayne County Democrat in 1908 by James S. Whittaker, an early
settler and teacher in Wayne County, “The first school house built in Wayne county was built about 1
¼ miles east of where Lineville now stands, in 1842 or 1843.”Not all children attended school
because they were needed on the farm, and mothers, aunts, and friends would do their best to teach
children to read and write.

In 1858, another law was passed, and each township in Iowa became responsible for organizing schools. These new school districts built schools and provided tuition-free elementary education to all children between the ages of five and twenty-one. Nine schoolhouses were built in each township and students only had to walk a mile or two to school. Wilma West wrote in Wayne County History, “Over 100 rural schools dotted the hillsides and valleys of the county at one time.” A few of the names were: Calathump, Old Blue, Greenridge, Shane Hill, Nip and Tuck, Cockleburr, Jerk Tail, Clay Center, Hogue, Pine, Star, Oakdale, often called Wild Cat, German Center which became Liberty Center during World War I, Log Chain, and West Union.

By the turn of the century, there were almost 14,000 one-room schoolhouses across the state.
Many rural schools looked alike. Most were built from wooden boards and painted bright red or white.
Students stored coats, boots, and lunches in the school entryway. Desks stood in rows in the
classroom. A wood burning stove blazed in the winter, and a student was lucky if he or she sat near
the stove. Students often shivered as they tried to learn in the cold winter months.

In a book of teacher memories at the Prairie Trails Museum, V. Lucile Riggs Patterson wrote, “The teacher was janitor, music teacher, arts or crafts or industrial arts teacher, (we did a little of each), supply clerk, and play director. It was customary to have a ‘program’ followed by a ‘box supper’ every fall, usually about Halloween time, another program at Christmas, and one at the end of the school year, sometimes
followed by a community picnic.” Other recollections in the book of teacher memories included reading Bible verses on Monday morning for opening exercises and reciting the Lord’s Prayer every morning.

Sometimes snow banks were so high students and teachers could not get to the school for a week with mules and sleds. Some walked railroad track when the roads were blocked by snow. Dirt roads often became impassable during the late winter and spring, and school had to be held in a home rather than have
the children miss weeks of school.


By 1958, because of consolidation, only two rural schools were in use in Wayne County. In 1965, the
legislature wrote the end of the story of the one-room school. It passed a law ordering all schools to
become part of legal school districts with high schools, and by July 1967, most of Iowa’s one-room
schools were closed.

Monday, April 15, 2013

PTM Opens Today!

 If you are longing for "the good old days" or just want to escape into the past, plan a visit to the museum. Today is opening day at Prairie Trails Museum.


You can read about the past in books or look at old photos, but wouldn't you rather see the past in person?


That is my favorite part of visiting the museum; one can stroll right into the past by strolling through the galleries. 

This is a place where you can literally walk through the past and observe all the details that your ancestors observed, in many cases, over one hundred years ago.


Volunteers at the museum hear time and time again, "This is the best museum I have ever visited " or "I can't believe you have such a wonderful museum here in a small town."


You really do have to SEE it to BELIEVE it, and I can safely say that you won't be sorry.


Plan to spend an afternoon enjoying your trip to the past, or better yet, buy a yearly membership to the Wayne County Historical Society for a mere $10 and get unlimited visits to the museum for that year. It is a great bargain!

New artifacts are always being added, and if it has been awhile since you have visited the museum, you won't believe the changes and improvements! 

If you are seeking information about your Wayne County ancestors, the genealogy library is an amazing resource filled with information about Wayne County residents, past and present.

Visit the Prairie Trails Museum web site here for information, and go to PTM's Facebook page and "like" it to receive updates about events and exhibits.


Open Daily April 15th - October 31st
Admission
Membership
April
Sunday-Saturday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Adults
$5
Yearly
$10
May
Sunday-Saturday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
College
$3
Lifetime
$100
June
Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Jr.-Sr. High
$2
July
Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
K-6th Grade
$1
August
Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
September
Sunday-Saturday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
October
Sunday-Saturday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Promise City's Woman Barber


It is not unusual in this day and age for men to go to a hair stylist who is a woman, or for a woman to go to a hair stylist who is a man. That was not the case back in the 1920's, 30's, and 40's, but Promise City, Iowa had a barber who was a woman. Read her story from March 25, 1948 in the Centerville, Iowa Daily Iowegian:

Promise City's Only Barber Is Mrs. Myrtle Wolfinger

Like Topsy Her Trade Just Grew

Promise City's only barber is a very nice lady. She is Mrs. Myrtle Wolfinger and she has been taking care of the haircuts in this eastern Wayne county city for more than two decades.

It all began, according to Mrs. Wolfinger, when ladies first stated considering "bobbed hair".

"They just couldn't go into a men's shop to have their hair cut," she said, (although later it became a more or less common custom). At any rate the ladies of Promise City, who wanted some barbering done, found that Mrs. Wolfinger seemed to have a particular knack for such things. Thus it was that she started helping some of her friends with their "bobbing" problems.

"At that time," said Mrs. Wolfinger, "I didn't have any idea of operating the only barber shop in Promise City, but that is what it lead to."

The time soon came when some of the men and young men of the city sought to have Mrs. Wolfinger extend her trade to cutting men's hair as well as that of the women. With some hesitancy, Mrs. Wolfinger did establish a regular barber shop and she is now known for and wide for her ability.

Just for instance one Centerville man will let no one else cut his hair and makes the trip to Promise City regularly. Mrs. Wolfinger lists among her regular customers people from Confidence, Corydon, Seymour, Clio, Allerton, and other points. She has some truckers who make it a point to stop for their tonsorial work although they may live as far away as Des Moines.

The barber shop is in the basement of the Wolfinger home and the barber chair is comfortably close to the furnace.

It is simple but adequate.

Mrs. Wolfinger does not shave anyone except to shave their necks. She believes that her customers can take care of their own shaving problems but few can do anything about cutting their own hair.

Mrs. Wolfinger will tell you that no two heads of hair are alike. She takes the woman's point of view. It isn't just a matter of cutting someone's hair and cutting it about the same as all the rest are cut. Mrs. Wolfinger studies each particular head and cuts the hair to suit the style of the head and hair.

"Now for instance," she says, "no one on earth can put your hat on for you satisfactorily. Really no one else can comb your hair. So far as barbering goes each person is very different from others and has to be considered that way."

And here is another little item. Haircuts at the Wolfinger barber shop are 25 cents each, believe it or not!

"Everybody says they should be higher," she says, "the state inspector really has a fit about the prices. But I get a large number of tips and I've never raised the price. I suppose they should be at least 35 or 50 cents tho'."

And what do men talk about in a lady's barber shop? Well, there is no swearing, no risque stories, and in fact according to Mrs. Wolfinger all of the men are perfect gentlemen. They really appreciate the shop in Promise City and they seem to enjoy the shop as much as they would an all men's shop.

Mrs. Wolfinger is also a housewife and carries on her activities just as any other wife might do, even to entertaining. The barber shop door is at the side of the house and there is a push button there. Anyone wanting service may push this button and go on into the basement room, which is quite apart from the rest of the home.

The house where Mrs. Wolfinger had her barber shop still stands. It is south of the Methodist Church across Highway 2. Mrs. Wolfinger was Anita Lord Wells' great grandmother, and Anita provided this article about Mrs. Wolfinger.














Saturday, March 23, 2013

George Allen

Thursday evening at Wayne County Historical Society's Annual Meeting, Enfys McMurry gave highlights from her latest book, Centerville A Mid*American Saga. Although the book is the story of Centerville, Iowa and its inhabitants from its founding up through World War II, there are some Wayne County connections.

One of the connections that Enfys highlighted in her speech Thursday evening and in her book, is of George Allen, an African-American gentleman who lived and worked and is buried in Wayne County. 

In Chapter 26 entitled Centerville's African Americans, McMurry wrote about the "earliest permanent County residents of African descent". The first was a child, Frank Wells, who was brought from Texas to Appanoose County.

According to McMurry's book, "The second permanent resident was also a boy brought north from the South. He was unsure of his age, estimated to be six, but sure of his name---George---and that of his family's owner, Mr. Allen. George Allen became his name. For the slaves of Jackson, Mississippi, emancipation reached them five months late. In the melee following that city's fall in May 1863, in the chaos of slave fleeing owners and jostling and wounded soldiers making for the river, George became separated and lost from his parents.

Appanoose County's Dr. Nathan Udell, an early Democrat but a convert to Republicanism and then a surgeon with Iowa's Seventeenth Infantry, found him crying and brought him to Centerville. George was passed on to several local families before being raised by John Conger, one of the County's earliest abolitionists. When Conger moved west into neighboring Wayne County, George went with him. Always hardworking and well-liked, George appears in a photograph, presented to the Prairie Trails Museum of Wayne County by Mose Sager of Seymour, with his white friends sitting at the front of a porch in full sunshine. George stands alone behind them..." 




In this photo from the Prairie Trails Museum, the caption reads:
A GROUP OF FRIENDS
Clyde Greenlee, Vanch Nelson, Ed Hart, Wm. Miles, Bertha Harper, Floy Freeland, Stella Mardis, Eva Tedford, Clarence Cark, Charles Miles, Bert Miller, and N----- George


According to a story published on June 14, 1934 in Centerville's Daily Iowegian and Citizen newspaper, "George Allen began farming for himself on the Jerry Evans farm 3 miles north of Seymour, Iowa. From here he farmed a few years on the Lew Donald farm northeast of Promise City, Iowa, then rented the Davis farm near-by and continued farming here until about 1921. Affliction overtook this generous colored man. He then made his home at the Wayne county poor farm. Here he was made superintendent over the gardens and truck patches, and made his time self-paying to the taxpayers of his county.

Geo. Allen passed out of life in February, 1934, and his body was layed [sic] to rest at his request, in the Promise City cemetery, along with the white people who had passed on before, to the unknown world."

 It was reported in September of 1960, that a group of Promise City women collected money to buy and place a stone at George Allen's grave, nearly 27 years after his interment in that cemetery.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recycling an Old School

When this old Corydon school was torn down, the brick was salvaged and used for three new building projects. According to a retrospective photo and article in The Times Republican back in December, 1974:

This is the brick that built a tunnel, a campanile and a gymnasium for the Seymour school.

The school building pictured above, before 1913, was Corydon's elementary building and was once its high school as well. It was razed in the 30's by W.P.A. labor (Work Projects Administration). The heating plant, located in a separate building, furnished steam heat for the building above and for a second school building. 

Brick from the razed structure was used to build a heating tunnel from the then near new high school building to what was to become Corydon's grade school and a campanile to house the old school bell. Most of the remaining brick was given to Seymour for a gymnasium.

Times Republican, December 26, 1974

Monday, March 11, 2013

History of Corydon's Friday Club


Friday Club is Corydon's oldest club. Present day members still meet once a month in each other's homes for dinner and a program. 
 
From previous research that I had done about Corydon's history, I knew that Friday Club had been meeting for many years because I had seen it mentioned in old newspaper clippings, but I had never determined exactly how old the club was and who the charter members were. I had asked members of the present day Friday Club, but no one could give me the answers. Last Friday, while I was trying to find information on another topic, I came across a newspaper clipping with the information I wanted. In October of 1951, Friday Club celebrated its 50th anniversary. Friday Club has existed in this town since 1901!  


The caption below this photo reads, "Above: Three former members are served by Mrs  Merle Meacham, president of Friday club. Mrs. Eva Miles, Mrs. Margaret Walker and Mrs. Winifred Carter. Mrs. Walker was a member of the club for forty years."

The article reported, "Observing its 50th anniversary, the Corydon Friday club entertained at a reception Sunday afternoon Oct. 7 at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Homer Grismore.

The club was organized in 1901 and Dr. W.C. Martin, a retired Methodist minister who then lived in Corydon, is credited with having planned the organization. Charter members were: Mrs. H.K. Evans, Mrs. H.H. Hamilton. Mrs  R.W. Halpenny, Mrs. C. Holliday, Mrs. C.F. LeCompte, Mrs. W.C. Martin, Mrs. Lewis Miles, Mrs. E.A. Rea, Mrs. A.M. Shea, Mrs. F.M. Smith, Mrs. John Stiriling, and Mrs. F.D. Waynick. 

Although organized as a woman's club, it had from the beginning the unusual feature of including the husbands of members at a dinner following the afternoon study, with a concluding study in the evening conducted by the men. 

Of the charter members, three are still living, although none was able to attend the anniversary Sunday. They are:  Mrs. H.K. Evans of Des Moines, Mrs. E.A. Rea of Oak Park Ill., and Mrs. A.M. Shea of Pennsylvania. Only surviving husband of a charter member is Mr. Shea.

The Grismore home was beautifully decorated Sunday with cut flowers. Two lovely bouquets were presented to the club. One of yellow mums was from Mrs. H.K. Evans and her two daughters, Mrs. Portia Cooney and Mrs. Genevieve Starzinger. The other of gladioli, was from Mrs. Eva Miles and Miss Miriam LeCompte.

The reception table was set in silver and crystal. The centerpiece being an attractive arrangement of grasses and harvest grains painted in gold color. 

Mrs. Elwood Johnson and Mrs. Archie Bridges presided at the punch table. Mrs. John Warren, Mrs. Allan Minger, and Mrs. Harold Bishop were dining room hostesses, taking their turn presiding at the table.

Mrs. Laurence Fry, Mrs. Robert White, Mrs. Kenneth Hayden, and Mrs. Gilbert West were parlor hostesses.

During the afternoon, short talks were made by Mrs. Eva Miles, Mrs. Winifred Carter, Mrs. Eleanor Carris, Loren E. Lair, and Homer Grismore.

Mrs. Merle Meacham, the club's president, read an early history of the club written by Mrs. E.A. Rea. Mrs  Kenneth Hayden gave an original poem representing the attitude of the younger members toward the founders of the organization.

Letters and greetings from distant former members were read.

The guest list included all former members. Four daughters of charter members were present: Mrs. H.H. Carter, Mrs. Fred Jackson, Mrs. John Morrison, and Miriam LeCompte. Out of town guest present included: Dr. and Mrs. F.C. Edwards of Centerville; Rev. and Mrs. Loren E. Lair of Des Moines; Mrs. Margaret Walker and Mrs. Eleanor Carris of Des Moines, and Mrs. Jackson of Pasadena, Calif. All present members of the club were able to be present except Mr. and Mrs. Ben Grismore."
Four daughters of charter members were present at the anniversary. From the left, Mrs. Lois Jackson and Mrs. Winifred Carter, daughters of Mrs. Lewis Miles; Miriam LeCompte, daughter of Mrs. C.F. LeCompte; Mrs. Hattie Morrison, daughter of Mrs. John Stirling.

It was the fifties; notice the hats and white gloves. 

I was intrigued to find answers to questions that I have had about this club. In the article I recognized the names of many of our prominent founding citizens. Do you recognize any of the names?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hair Wreath

One of the more unusual pieces at Prairie Trails Museum is an intricately crafted wreath made of human hair. 

It was crafted by Susan Lee and donated by her daughter Harriet Draper.


The wreath must have been made from several tresses from different people as there are assorted colors of hair in the piece.

Following is an article published online about hair wreaths. After reading this and several other articles online, I determined that we are displaying the wreath at our museum upside down. Read on to see why.

Hair and Gone
By Karen Livsey and the Fenton History Center Staff

Hair has long been a keepsake by which a loved one or a friend is remembered. Even a
favored pet such as a dog, cat or horse can be remembered by a lock of hair or something
made from the hair. Lockets held not only a photograph or a small painting of a loved
one but often contained a lock of their hair.

Hair wreaths, hair pictures and hair jewelry were widely seen during the 19th century.
Instead of a painting or photograph of the family, a hair wreath could be made using hair
from various family members. This gave the assorted colors seen in a hair wreath.

Wreaths were constructed using crocheting or tatting techniques around wire. They were
also braided or woven around tubes or knitting needles. The tubes would then be boiled
and dried. The needle or tube would then be removed and the molded hair could be
fashioned into jewelry or used in a hair wreath. The hair around the wire could be bent to
make intricate flowers and leaves. Wreaths were often constructed in a horseshoe shape
leaving the top open-maybe to keep the family’s good luck-or if a memorial wreath, to
give the impression of ascending heavenward. If it was a memorial wreath, the hair of the
deceased was added to the center and would be moved to the side when the next person
passed away.

Not all hair wreaths were memorials. Some were keepsakes of family members who may
have moved away or a wreath could be made for a family member who was moving
away. They could also be made of hair from members of a church, a school or a similar
group.

A less elaborate hair keepsake was a woman’s bracelet, brooch, and earrings. The hair
was made into the form of a flower or a lock of hair was intricately braided and could
then be encased in the brooch. Men could have vest chains made with fine ribbon and
braided hair. 

Some soldiers during the Civil War had watch fobs made from their wife’s hair.
Mourning rings which were given to family members and close friends after a funeral
often contained hair of the deceased. Hair wreaths and some jewelry could be made at
home or the hair could be sent to a professional hair weaver to construct the wreath or
jewelry. Peterson’s Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Book, two of the popular magazines
of the mid-1800s, included instructions for making flowers and other items from hair.
Throughout 1861 Godey’s illustrated the types of hair work available by mail-order.
Prices for earrings varied from $4.50 to $10 - very expensive for the time. Hair jewelry
was the most popular item ordered in 1859.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Author Enfys McMurry to Speak at Annual Meeting


The annual meeting and banquet of the Wayne County Historical Society will be held Thursday, March 21. Members and non-members are invited to attend. The event will be held in the west wing of Prairie Trails Museum. Doors open at 6 PM, and the only cost to attend is $12.50 for the meal. 

The meal will be catered by Denise Goben, and serving will begin at 6:30 PM. A short business meeting will follow sharing the highlights of activities at the Prairie Trails Museum during the past year and plans for the coming year. 

Local author, Enfys McMurry, will be the guest speaker sharing highlights from her recently published book Centerville A Mid-American Saga.

Enfys was born and raised in Wales but has been a resident of Wayne County since the early 1970's. She was educated at the Universities of London, Arizona, and Missouri's Truman State and has done post-graduate work at Iowa State and the University of Iowa. For seven years she taught in London and in Wales, and for twenty-three years she was one of the english instructors at Indian Hills Community College, Centerville Campus. She does much public speaking and has written articles that have appeared in the San Francisco Examiner, the Christian Science Monitor, the Daily Iowegian, The Des Moines Register, two Welsh newspapers; the Western Mail, and Ninnau, and she is the author of Hearst's Other Castle, a book which became a BBC documentary. For the last ten and a half years, Enfys, working here in Corydon, has written an in-depth history of Centerville and Appanoose County. The resulting book: Centerville A Mid-American Saga was published by History Press in late November of 2012. Her research occasionally coincided with significant stories involving Wayne County. The story of Centerville and those Wayne County coincidences are the subjects of her speech.

I have heard Enfys speak over many topics, and she is always interesting and engaging. If you would like to attend, reservations are needed by March 18. Remember, members and non-members are invited to attend.

To read more about Enfys McMurry and her book Centerville A Mid-American Saga, go here and here.




Sunday, March 3, 2013

High School Built in 1924


The following article is from January 3, 1924 Times Republican:
Corydon's beautiful new High School building is nearing completion and will soon be ready for occupancy. The building is three full stories in height, one hundred thirty-six feet in length by sixty-six feet in width. It is built of cherry-vale mat brick laid in white mortar and certainly makes a handsome appearance.

The first floor which is in reality the basement is occupied by the Gymnasium and Shower Baths. A feature of the Gymnasium is the spring floor composed of maple wood under laid with layers of felt. Bleachers will be placed around this room while the surrounding balcony will be furnished with folding chairs.

On the second or ground floor will be found the Assembly Room, the Domestic Science, Manual Training Departments and teachers rest room, as well as several recitation rooms.

The office of the Superintendent, board of Education, and the Music Supervisor, besides the spacious Auditorium are found on the third floor.

The Auditorium will have a seating capacity of  approximately five hundred and in it will be held all entertainments to be given by our schools. About one thousand dollars worth of scenery has been provided for the stage settings, thus giving the patrons of our high school plays the benefit of such scenic features as can seldom be found outside of such cities as Des Moines.

To the pupils this magnificent Auditorium will be an inspiration to high endeavors and the community may rest assured that it will witness productions of real merit in the dramatic entertainments to be provided by the high school.

The decoration of the auditorium is a delicate cream color bordered by a Grecian Lotus design which extends to the stage. 

Probably the most remarkable feature in the equipment of the building is the clock which is of Standard Electric design. This is a timepiece which is almost human in its various contrivances. It not only keeps the time and indicates it in every room of the building, even to the furnace room, but it also rings bells for calling to school  tardy bells, recitation bells. It stops at four o'clock on Friday afternoon and starts at eight forty-five o'clock Monday morning. With its many bells added to the bells on the faculty and the belles among the student body the town will have more bells than ever before in its history, even though it has always been noted for belles.

The plumbing and heating system were installed by the Bailey Plumbing and Heating Company of Des Moines. The lighting system was installed by the Electric Equipment Company of Des Moines. 

The contract for construction of the building was let to Hannon and Rogers of Newton, Iowa.

Too much cannot be said in commendation of the School Board upon whom has rested the responsibility of spending the large sum of money necessary for the erection of this building.

When the bonds were voted and sold and it was found that the building could not be erected with the money provided they wisely decided to with-hold the letting. The wisdom of this course has been demonstrated by the fact that the present contract calls for about forty thousand dollars less than low bid at the first offering.



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sproatt Mausoleum

The Sproatt Mausoleum at the Corydon Cemetery is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Corydon, Iowa .


Plans for the monument began in 1897 according to this newspaper article in the Wayne County Democrat, September 2, 1897:

Niday & Pinkham on Monday contracted with W.S. Sproatt to build for him a vault on his lots in the Corydon cemetery. The vault will be 15x13x17 high, and built of the celebrated Bedford Armadite stone, trimmed with Quincy granite and Sutherland Falls Marble. The inside will be all marble with tiled floor, alternating black and white, and will contain six catacombs. The vault will stand four steps from the ground and the roof will be supported on the front with solid granite columns with engraved caps. Mr. Pinkham informs us that when completed it will be the finest vault in the state, and hardly second to none. The cost will be about $2,000 which includes a stone walk around the lot.


The following photos were taken during the construction. These photos are in the library at The Prairie Trails Museum.



**************




The Sproatt Mausoleum on a snowy day 

Future blog posts will feature the Sproatt family.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Early Telephone Service in Corydon

Switchboard at Prairie Trails Museum

How many people do you know who no longer have "land lines" in their home for phone service? They now rely on their cell phones for communication. We have made amazing advancements since the first phones were offered to citizens of Corydon, Iowa around the turn of the previous century. 

According to a brief article on October 18, 1900 in The Times Republican, "The rural telephone companies had a meeting on Saturday last. They expect to ask for a vote at the spring election for a franchise, giving them permission to put a line and switchboard at Corydon."

Picture at Prairie Trails Museum

Later, April 11,1901, the following article appeared in The Times Republican:

"The Corydon telephone company have placed in their office one of Warners Pole Changers for ringing telephones. This is a practical installment for an exchange office as it does away with the ringing of the phones by the "hello girls". All the person now has to do at the Corydon office is to answer the party who rings the phone by inserting the plug where needed and the Pole changer rings up the person wanted. It is quite an instrument, does the work perfectly and gives the “hello girl” ample time to do her work properly.”



In October, 1902, Instructions and Suggestions for Patrons in Using Telephones was published in The Wayne County Democrat.



Instructions and Suggestions for Patrons in Using Telephones

1. To use 'phone, ring the bell; take down the receiver. The Central office will respond. Give the number desired. Central will call in making the connection. When through talking always ring off with a short ring so the operator may know when you are through talking. Some one else may be waiting to talk to you.

2. Before commencing conversation give your name, and require your correspondent to do the same.

3. Operators will answer all calls in their turn, as promptly as possible. Subscribers should remember that it is not always possible to furnish the desired information, or make the connection desired at once, and that operators are entitled to fair and courteous treatment. Any inattention or lack of courtesy by operators to subscribers  should be reported to the secretary.

4. If the line wanted is reported "in use" do not keep the attention of the operator as others may be waiting. Wait a reasonable time and call again.

5. The exclusive duty of operators is to answer the calls. they have no time for visiting or conversation.

6. 'Phones are for the use of subscribers only. Messages over toll lines must be paid for at the end of each month. Message fees will be charged to subscriber from whose 'phone message is sent. If you do not want to be bothered with out of town messages, send your friend to the Central office.

7. Do not permit children or any one not entitled to do so to use your telephone. It is a delicate instrument and easily injured. If you want good service take good care of the instrument.

8. If your 'phone gets out of order report the matter to the Central office or the secretary. Do not attempt to fix the instrument. Subscribers are expected to make good all breakage or injury to instruments due to their own carelessness.

9. Central office will be kept open from 6 o'clock a.m. to 10 o'clock p.m. On Sunday 8 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 
6 p.m. Night bell attached for use in case of sickness or other emergency.


J.R. SCALES, Secretary     E.A. REA, President