Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Russell Historical Article from the Lucas Countyan, Frank Meyers

 Thomas and Rebecca Hellyer

Thomas E. and Rebecca Hellyer were pioneer settlers in the Greenville neighborhood southeast of Russell, but moved into town and retired during 1906, leaving their farm in the care of a son. As Thomas neared the end of his life during the summer of 1910, he sat down to write an account of the four years he spent as a young man chasing gold in California.

Born during 1828 in Ohio, Thomas had moved west with his family to Schuyler County, Illinois, about 1839 and was living there when he and others joined an expedition headed west again, this time across the prairies of Iowa and beyond to "El Dorado."

Sixty years later, Thomas turned his manuscript over to Henry Gittinger, then editor of The Chariton Leader, and Henry published it in his edition of Aug. 4, 1910. Thomas had been a friend in the Greenville neighborhood of Henry's father, Peter Gittinger.

The narrative is extraordinarily well written and filled with detail --- so we can be grateful to both Mr. Hellyer and to Henry for preserving it. Here it is:


I am now 82 years of age, being born in 1828. Wife and I celebrated our golden wedding anniversary a few weeks since, most of our family being present. My son George was here from Ault, Colorado, and my brother, George, from Illinois. While I was never very rugged I am less so this summer than ever. I have been down to the farm but once this season and seldom get out of the yard. Yes, I often think of the early days in Lucas county --- and of the old neighbors --- almost all of them gone. It is pleasant to reflect on these times and live one's life over, although there is sadness in the thought that these associations exist only in memory.

Your father (Henry Gittinger's father, Peter) was a few years older than me. He was a man of much experience and never settled down until after middle life. We often talked of things common to us both. He went to California in 1848, he being in the regular army at that time and was serving under Fremont. I did not reach the golden Eldorado until two years later. I was then a young man of 22.

A party of us, attracted by the stories of great wealth, started overland for California from our home in Illinois in March, 1850, traveling by ox team, reaching Reno City in September of that year. It was slow traveling but most enjoyable never-the-less. We crossed the great river, traversed the broad prairies of Iowa, thence across the Missouri into the then unknown country with the American desert in advance. As we journeyed others added to our train until we presented a formidable appearance, rendering attacks from hostile Indians less probable. Sometimes these trains would have misunderstandings, and break into fragments and then it was pathetic to see them illy equipped with provisions launch out to brave the dangers alone. But ours proved to be harmonious all the way through and as luck would have it we never lost an oxen or met with any serious mishaps. Our cattle grazed on the herbage as we journeyed westward, and frequently we would make extra camps in order to conserve their strength. One day we were overtaken by a train of mule teams traveling much faster than we possibly could and they hailed us with:

"If you have any friends in California we will carry word to them and tell them that we saw you."

But in after days we returned the compliment, as they so often had to turn out of the trail to pass the trains and travel over rough prairie that their mules became exhausted, while our oxen, in their slow, plodding way, were almost as good as at starting.

We were fortunate in having a man as captain of our train who had previously crossed the plains and knew the routes for the best water courses, grass and wood for camping purposes, so we experienced but little trouble from these sources. We traveled slowly, hurrying only across the dry and barren stretches, making the best provisions possible before the venture.

Finally we reached the desert beginning at the Humboldt Sink. here the water pours out onto the sands of the desert and for sixty miles beyond it is, or was, a barren waste which me must cross. Fed by the waters which spread out over quite an area, there was formed an oasis on which there was a luxuriant growth of vegetation. Here we rested for a time, mowed and loaded a couple of wagons with grass, filled what vessels we had with water, then launched forth for the navigation of the desert with our fleet of prairie schooners. It was hard, slow traveling, the wheels sinking into the sand and the heat was intense. Of course our provender lasted only a fraction of the distance and was dealt out sparingly but without that provision we never could have made it. Finally the mountain stream was reached, bordering the desert, which we had to ford, and as our teams were so thirsty there was danger of them drinking themselves to death, so as many men as possible waded in by their sides and goaded them along. Soon we reached the opposite shore, which proved to be a land no less promising than that sought by the ancient children of Israel, and by degrees the oxen were permitted to enjoy the refreshing waters and the nutritious herbage.

Here we rested and recruited stock for some time before we passed into the mountain trails.

Gold seeking has its allurements, usually only one in perhaps fifty meet that success we read about. Little is said of the man who fails. This will apply to all our undertakings.

After reaching the Eldorado, we sometimes worked for wages, receiving six, seven and eight dollars per day, moving from place to place as fortune seemed best. I remember on one occasion several of us concluded to try sluice mining, so we gave a negro who had "pay land" skirting a stream $100 apiece for a mining right and then invested a thousand dollars in lumber with which to build sluices. The lumber was miles away and we would have it hauled to the top of the mountain and carry it, or drag, to the place, both exciting and perilous undertakings Some times would have a streak of good luck and the sluice boxes would be rich in gold dust, then of a sudden play out. At one of our works we were making $35 or $40 a day apiece and we dreamed of millions. Suddenly the wealth played out and we moved on. At times we would grow weary of the uncertainty of hunting for the golden treasure and return to wage earning, which usually proved the more profitable. I remember on one occasion I worked steady for six weeks at $8 per day before gold fever struck in again.

I was in the "diggins" four years, finally returning home, perhaps having no more money than I would have had had I cultivated an Illinois farm during that time. We did not return home as we went, but took passage down the coast, crossed the Isthmus of Panama at Aspinwall, thence to New York. We would have returned by way of New Orleans, but we heard that the cholera was raging there so took the longer route. From New York we came by way of Buffalo, Detroit and Chicago.

These are incidents of sixty years ago, but I am growing reminiscent. I have resided in Washington township over fifty years, removing to Iowa from Illinois.


Thomas came to Lucas County during 1856, a single man age 28. He married Rebecca Caster, 15 years his junior, during 1860 --- when she was 17. Together, they produced 10 children.

Thomas died three months after his memoir was published, on Nov. 22, 1910, at the age of 82. Rebecca continued to live in Russell for the next 21 years, passing herself on March 25, 1931, at the age of 88. They are buried in the Russell Cemetery.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Citizen's Bank History of Safe

From Frank Myers Lucasctyan, Dec 5, 2018

A vintage Russell bank and the beast in the basement

You never know where interesting stuff is going to turn up --- like this postcard view of a building still standing on the north side of Russell's main street that began life in 1916 as Citizens State Bank. I found the image at Digital Grinnell, a Grinnell College service that you may access here if you'd care to browse yourself. Look under "Historic Iowa Postcards" for more like this.

If you look carefully at the building you can see in the front window at right this safe, which I call the "beast in the basement," now located at the Lucas County Historical Society Museum in Chariton. And, yes, the publisher of the postcard misspelled "Russell."

Citizens State Bank went belly-up during 1931 and its assets were sold. Lucas County acquired the safe and moved it to the courthouse for use by the county treasurer. In 1983, it came to the museum and was installed in the lower-level Coal Mine Gallery. The beast weighs a ton, literally --- I can't imagine how much effort it took to move it, or consider ever moving it again.

This little account of the bank and its building begins with a report found under "Russell News" on Page 5 of The Chariton Leader of Feb. 24, 1916: "C.S. McKinley has sold his vacant lot just west of his store building for the sum of $1,000. On this site will be erected the Citizens State Bank which will be a one-story brick building 25x60 feet with basement. This will be quite a desirable location and the work will begin soon."

The new bank opened its doors for the first time on Saturday, July 8, 1916, as noted on the front Page of The Leader of July 20:


"The new Citizens' State Bank at Russell has opened for business and has erected a brick building of its own and equipped it with all the modern furniture and equipment necessary to be abreast of the times. This is one of the most prosperous communities in Iowa, and this financial institution has a good business future. P.F. (Percy) Sprague, cashier, and Atlee Winsor, his assistant, are alert in business activity and the institution has good men behind it. The officers are: President, E.G. Latham; vice-president, W.A. Elliott; cashier, P.F. Sprague; assistant cashier, Atlee Winsor. The board of directors are the president, vice-president, cashier, together with H.D. Calvin, Sherman Lockridge, J.A. Vinsel and C.S. McKinley."


The bank did indeed prosper for more than a decade, then those times it was attempting to remain abreast of caught up with it. The Leader of June 2, 1931, reported as follows:

Citizens State Bank Now in Hands of State Banking Department

"The Citizens State Bank of Russell was voluntarily closed this morning, and its affairs are now in the hands of the state banking department. D. L. Johnson of the state department went to Russell this morning to assume charge of the bank's business.

"Frozen assets was given as the cause of the closing of the institution, and it was stated this morning that in all probability the bank would pay out with very little losses to the depositors. W.A. Elliott was president of the closed bank, and P.F. Sprague was cashier."

The process of dismantling the bank and paying dividends to depositors in small increments continued until September of 1934 when Chariton attorney Darl Ambelang bought for $720 more than $30,000 in outstanding bills receivable as well as the remaining furniture and fixtures. It appears that the safe already had been sold and I couldn't determine just how much the failed bank ended up losing. After that, the old Citizens State building was turned to other uses.

No, there's nothing in the safe now. And, yes, we do have the combinations written down --- somewhere.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Prof. Goltry's scholars By Frank Myers

     I think I'm in love --- with this faded old photograph of Prof. Charles F. Goltry's scholars at Chariton  Academy, taken during 1896. (I was unable to get this photo.  If you wish to see it contact the Lucas County Genealogical Society at email: Wish it were in a little better shape. The surface is scratched and it has faded during the last 117 years. And of course everyone shown here is long dead.
     But unlike the content of many photos from this era involving many people --- subjects arranged with military precision staring into the camera like so many deer caught in headlights --- there's life in the faces of
the young people grouped rather informally here. Will Gookin (far left in the second row down from the top) looks like trouble, for instance, and Lillie Woods (fifth to his left) looks as if she had eyes principally for Will Gookin.
     Better yet, everyone in the photo, with one exception, is identified. It came to the Lucas County Historical Society from Carrie Williamson back in 1969, but who took the time to write all the names on the back isn't known. Here they are, beginning with the back row (right click on "open in new window" and enlarge for a better look):
     Back row: Nettie Troxel, May Hamilton, Lillie Douglass, Edith Walker, Maude Rickey, Margaret Taylor,  Lois Molesworth, Alice Powell and Josie Barger.
     Second row down: Will Gookin, Alfred Nelson, Adda Callahan, Ida Yont, May Huntley, Lillie Woods, Burdette Rodgers, Elsie Courter, Della Arnold Anderson, Ira Wells, Nora Teas, Mary Briles, Wilma Nelson, Albert Kennedy, Lloyd Courier and Emory Parsons.
     Third row down: Prof. Goltry, Bert Plotts, (unidentified), Virgil Scott, Thede Lemley, Fred Goltry, Joe Morrison, Enos Anderson, Emmet Carr, Jay Colegrove and Clarence Williamson.
     Fourth row down: Cora Buffington, Mrs. Goltry, Vernie Bond, Roy Douglas, Mable Black, Harry McNeely, Lilly Fain, Rena Logan, Oscar Stone, Ida Patterson, Adda Clouse, Carrie Hamilton, Sadie Dale and Viola Staker.
     Front row: Tom Black, Alice Howard, Jessie Hopkins, Cora Combs, Lizzy Troxel, Carrie Barger, Mable
Price, Dora Clouse, Mary Linstrom, Ina Champlain, Minnie Vannoy, Olive James, May Renolds, Bessie Whitcome, Lura Staker, Fanny Snuggs and Tessie Courter.


Lucas County Notes & Shakin’ the Family Tree Volume 19 Issue 2 April-May-June 2014 Page 33

     Charles Fitzgerald Goltry, whose students these were, was something of a renaissance man --- and I've
relied upon his obituary, posted at Find A Grave, and a biographical sketch in the 1896 A Memorial and 
Biographical Record of Iowa for details.

     Born during 1863 in Cedar Township to John and Barbara Jane (McGill) Goltry, he started teaching rural school in Cedar Township at age 20 after completing a course of study at an academy in Shenandoah, then in 1885 entered Drake University in Des Moines, where he excelled and earned his degree in classical studies during 1889.
     After three years as principal of the Russell schools, he enrolled in a special course in chemistry and chemical analysis at Indiana State University, then accepted a position as professor of ancient languages at Central Christian College in Albany, Missouri, and a year later moved to the Humeston Normal College to teach physics and chemistry.
     During 1892, Charles married Clara E Crim and two years later, during November of 1894, they established the Chariton Academy together. The academy was described as "a school for students desiring to fit themselves for teaching or for special business." By 1895, enrollment had grown from 11 to 62.
     During November of 1896 he was appointed to serve, too, as Lucas County superintendent of schools, then re-elected to two additional terms. He also served for a time as superintendent of Chariton schools.
     During 1902, however, Charles moved his family to Chicago and took up the study of medicine, graduating from the osteopathic physician program at National Medical College during 1907 and receiving his M.D. degree a year later from Bennett Medical College, also in Chicago.
     Dr. Goltry began his practice in Cody, Nebraska, then moved to Westboro, Missouri, and in 1922 returned home to Russell where he practiced medicine until his health failed during 1949, when he was 86.
     He died a year later and was buried in the Chariton Cemetery near his first wife, Clara, who had died during 1909. Charles had married during 1925 as his second wife the widow Effie (Anderson) Raines, some 20 years his junior. She lived until 1975, then was buried, too, in the Chariton Cemetery.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

60 years Ago

From the Chariton Herald-Patriot, April 10, 2014

First place in the "Teen Time" talent show went to Dayton Kendall of Russell, singing "Oh!My Papa!". Other placings were: Second place - saxophone quartet, composed of Beverly Brown, Mary Sullivan, Carol McDowell and Donald Gartin.  Third place went to Nancy Hayes with her solo, "Our Heartbreaking Waltz."  Fourth place went to John Kissinger of Melcher with a saxophone solo.  Fifth place went to the vocal trio of Myrna Slykhuis, Elba Poppings and Norma Friddington of Dallas.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Russell Centennial King and Queen

The pictures and stories are from Debbie Mascot on Facebook
Pictured below on the left:  Here is William Mason Conner and Julie's great grandmother, Leota Taylor, as the King and Queen of the Russell Centennial. 

Picture to the right - From Debbie Mascot : My third great grandparents, long-time Russell residents, Miles and Harriet (Markham) Price. I'm not sure when this photo was taken, but Miles died in 1916. I'm taking a guess that this was taken during a family reunion, as I received it from family far and wide who didn't know one another.

Friday, March 29, 2013

100 Years of Farming for Sellers

This appeared in the Chariton Herald-Patriot on March 21, 2013, by Sandra Knebel

Joe Sellers, the Beef Specialist at Iowa State University's Extension office in Chariton says
that farming had a big influence on his family.  Joe, his brother, Thomas, and his father all went to Iowa State University and majored in animal science.
There are two Century Farms in the Sellers family, both in rural Chariton.  Both were originally purchased by David Lewis in the mid 1800's.  In 1886, one of the farms was deeded to Joe's Great Grandfather, John P. Sellers, who married David's daughter, Weltha.  David Lewis (1819-1886) farmed the other with his wife, Lorilla.  Generations later, Harris and Twila Sellers had their farm certified as a Century Farm (1976).  In 1987 Harris and Mary Alyce Sellers, Joe and Tom's parents, had their farm certified.
Both David Lewis and his son, Frank, served in the Union Army during the Civil War, both returning to farming after the war.
Joe Sellers and his brother, Thomas, grew up in the house John P. Sellers built east of what was originally David and Lorilla's homestead.
John Sellers' son was the first of the next three generations whose first names were Harris - Joe's grandfather, his father, and Joe - whose actual name is Harris Joseph Sellers.  The last three generations, including Thomas, have specialized in livestock farming.
Both of the Century Farms are now owned by Joe and Cindy Sellers and Joe's brother, Tom.  After 158 years of the families farming the homesteads, Joe says when he and Thomas retire, it will be someone else's chance to carry on.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Werts Family Settle in Russell in 1864

The following article and pictures appeared in the Chariton Herald-Patriot on March 21, 2013, written by Sandra Knebel.

The Werts Family farm has been in their family for 118 years and was recognized and honored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation in 1996 as a "Century Farm".

The family legacy began with John Jackson Werts (1831-1901) and his wife, Esther (1837-1912).  John and Esther were both born in Muskingum County, Ohio.  At the age of 21, John took a job as a farmhand for $13 a month.  He saved his money and the next year rented a 50-acre farm in an adjacent county.  By the year 1864, with six children and the loss of one baby, John and Esther could see the necessity of having more land in order to feed a growing family.  John made a trip to the new state of Iowa where his Uncle William Maple had homesteaded a farm on the prairie, paying the government $1.25 per acre.  He was favorably impressed with the land and the prospects for future settlement and growth.  He purchased 160 acres of prairie including 20 acres under cultivation and a newly built house.  He also bought 40 acres of timber for fuel, fence posts and lumber.  The entire package cost him $2,100.  The farm was half a mile north of "Ragtown", a village having a store, sawmill, and a few houses.  A school was added in a few years.  John hurried back home to Ohio to move his family and what possessions could be carried across the prairie to Iowa.  With the fall of 1864 came the big move to Iowa with six children and all the household goods they could pile on one
wagon.  The family rode to Iowa on a train.
John was proud of the flock of sheep he had in Ohio and was determined to move them as well to Iowa.  The sheep were driven from the farm to the railroad yard and loaded into a railway car.  During the train trip, John spent most of his time with the sheep, watering and feeding them and keeping them as comfortable as possible in order to prevent costly losses.
In Chicago, it was necessary for passengers to move from one railway station to another to board a train to Eddyville, Iowa, the end of the line and about 40 miles from their farm.  The carload of sheep, on arrival in Chicago, was most likely also switched from one road to the other.  At Eddyville, the two weary families crowded into a stagecoach which took them on another dirt road to Lagrange, Iowa, a village that was still a good 10 miles from their farm.  There they were welcomed by the Maple family who helped them make the final trek leading to the farm that would eventually become a Century Farm.  
The sheep were unloaded in Eddyville and the flock driven out on the prairie and on to the farm.  There was a trail they could follow during daylight hours.  John Quincy Werts was nine years old at the time and remembered that he went with his Uncle Alex McCurdy to get the sheep and bring them the remainder of the way to the farm.  They could not find the trail in the darkness and prepared to stay all night.  They eventually heard a dog barking and were able to find a house where a man showed them the trail and they completed the journey, arriving about daybreak.
Having arrived in the fall of the year, the first winter was a difficult one.  The men had to work hard to begin preparing the land for a crop the following year.  Prairie sod was deep and tough and their tools were primitive, but they were able to turn over a good-sized plot before the weather became severe.  The young boys worked along with the men and all were hungry.  Those were the days when neighbors helped neighbors and all worked together to provide for the needs of the community.  Labor was shared and food was shared.
There was no town of Russell for another three or four years.  The first store there opened in 1865.  Until then, staples of food and equipment were hauled from Eddyville to Chariton and the farmers drove their teams and wagons the six or seven miles to Chariton for their necessities.
In 1867 the railroad tracks were completed through Lucas County.  The first train came through in July of 1867.  Soon afterward a general store was built and women were able to buy cotton fabrics for dresses, buttons and thread.  The town of Russell grew and Ragtown, the village that had been a half mile south of the Werts farm, disappeared except for the schoolhouse.
In 1891, after 27 years of thrift and hard work, John and Esther built a house in the west end of Russell and retired, leaving the farm in the hands of their son Clifton Elmer Werts, whose name was on the original deed with his father.  Cliff had learned farming from his father and neighbors, but more than others, he learned to appreciate the advent of the mechanical age and used his ingenuity for the construction and application of farm machinery.
In 1905, Cliff mounted two gasoline engines on a horse-drawn wagon, the engines providing power for a threshing machine.  He then helped many neighborhood farmers with their threshing.  He assembled and built one of the first gasoline tractors in the county.  The equipment enabled him to farm more land and he added neighboring farms until he had 620 acres.
In 1932, Cliff invented a pipe-laying machine and used it to lay underground piping for farmers and other industries.  He built a motor home on an auto chassis about 1926.  A few years later he built a larger one.  Over more than 17 years he and his wife, Clara, used their motor home to explore the 48 states, Canada and Mexico, often in the company of family and friends.
From Cliff and Clara, the farm passed to their son, Richard Werts, who was born in 1899.  Richard attended Russell high School and learned farming from his father.  From Richard, the farm was purchased in 1964 by Richard's nephew, James Elmer Werts.  James, born in 1931, was the son of Ralph and Alice Werts.
After completing the public schools in Russell, James went into the Air Force, serving much of his four years in Frankfurt, Germany.  On returning home, "Jim" went into farming.  In September of 1952, he married Beverly Ann Pierce.  Jim and Beverly's daughter, Terry and her husband, Rick Elmore, now live on the farm.  Rick was born in Corydon.  He helped coach football and basketball at the Russell High School and farmed with his father-in-law.  Rick and Terry raise cattle, mostly Angus, and the usual crops found in Lucas County - corn, soybeans and hay.
Rick and Terry have three children.  Their son, Conrad, is currently involved with raising the cattle.  Their grandaughters, Alixis and Alivia VanRyswyk, are members of 4-H and raise their 4-H cattle on the farm.  In addition to their daughter, Kelly VanRyswyk (Chariton), son Conrad (Chariton), they also have a daughter, Kayla, who lives near Des Moines.

LaFavre/Buttz Family Century Farm

This article appeared in the Chariton Herald Patriot newspaper on March 21, 2013

For 111 years, the LaFavre/Buttz Family has farmed in Lucas County, building a legacy with hard work and family values.  "Century Farm" signs are proudly posted on farms throughout the state of Iowa.  These are awarded to those who have families that have farmed their land for over 100 years.  Of the 85 Century Farm families in Lucas County, the LaFavre/Buttz family is one.  Five generations of the LaFavre/Buttz family have operated their farm on S56 about four miles south of Russell.

In 1902, when Grant W. LaFavre purchased and founded the family farm, advanced agriculturists were talking about "scientific farming."  The improvements in which the farmers of 1902 took pride were indeed astounding when viewed in the light of their grandfathers' experiences.  Farmers had ceased to broadcast seed from a heavy shoulder bag.  No longer did they harvest with sickles and scythes. Horse-drawn grain drills and two-row corn planters, sickle-bar mowing machines, twine binders and steam threshing machines were beginning to appear in the fields.  Hay loaders were replacing pitchforks.  It was the beginning of a 50-year period when agriculture in America was becoming revolutionized.
Grant's only son, Kenneth remembered that his "growing up" years may have been easier, but they were not easy.  Farming was still pretty labor intensive.  His father didn't grow a lot of crops because he was still plowing by hand behind horses.  He raised cows and pigs and sheep.  The weather was challenging.  In addition to being Depression years, the 30's was the decade of dryness, with two years, 1934 and 1936, of extreme drought.  Corn yields that had previously average near 25 bushels per acre fell to 10, 5 or even 2 or less in some areas.
Kenneth told stories to his children and grandchildren about the many huge maple trees that gave the "Maple Grove" name to the homestead and lined the lane leading to the house.  The drought was so bad, in order to provide for the cows, Kenneth's father, Grant, cut down one of the huge trees each day to feed the leaves to his eight to ten cattle.  The wood was cut up to supplement the coal that the family used to heat the house.
Kenneth took over the farmstead in 1957.  He and his wife, Opal, raised their two girls, Evelyn and Alice, on the farm.  By the time Evelyn married Guy Buttz, the original house had been updated considerably with a new addition that substantially increased the size with a new kitchen and living room.  In alignment with the times, Evelyn had a large garden that provided fruits and vegetables for canning to tide the family over the winter.
The LaFavre/Buttz Family holding their Century Farm
Certificate at the Iowa State Fair in 2005.

Pictured to the left are:
Back row - L to R - In parenthesis the generation number in the family:  Josh Flanders (5) holding Cruize (6); Linda Johnson (4), Lori and Scott (5) Johnson with their son, Garrett (6)  Front Row L to R:  Heather (5) and Cody (6) Flanders, Guy and Evelyn LaFavre (3) Buttz, and Mark (5) and Wesley (5) Johnson.  Not pictured in the Century Farm family photo are sixth generation Johnson great grandchildren:  Ava, Abby, Lucy, Kent, Ty and MaCayla and Elizabeth Buttz.

Guy's experiences of those days were similar to the LaFavre family.  "I remember riding the pony every morning about four miles to my Grandma's.  We cut down trees as well so we could feed our cows.  Farming was tough, hard work.  I hoed beans and corn by hand."  He added that his father, in order to make a living, was a coal miner in addition to being a farmer.
Guy said that his family's farm would also have been a Century Farm, had the county not come along and taken the land for a road and interrupted history.  His family farm was passed down from his mother's side of the family - the Kerns.  It was located about three quarters of a mile south of the Confidence cemetery.
Evelyn and Guy's son, Doyle, lived on the farm for a number of years, before their daughter, Linda, and her husband, Donald Johnson, took residence.  Linda and Don were the last family members to actually farm the homestead.  They raised crops, cows and hogs.  It was Linda and Donald who planted new maple trees to replace those cut down to feed cows in the 1930's.
Their son, Mark, now lives on the Century Farm.  He works in Chariton.  The land is leased out by Evelyn and Guy.  Since moving in, he has built a new house, it no longer being feasible to fix up the original home.  The original barn, built with pegs rather than nails, is still standing.  The family also still has two antique tractors, a 1984A and a 1968 40x20LP -that they use in the Russell parades.
While not a farmer per se, Mark and his wife, Jill, are into gardening, a carry down from both Kenneth and Evelyn.  His mother, Linda, recalled, "My Grandpa Kenneth was a very good gardener.  He always had a huge garden.  Even after we moved in and he moved into Russell, he would come out every day and garden and involve my kids in gardening."  Evelyn added, "My dad (Kenneth) would be very proud that his great grandson is living on the farm."
Across the road from the LaFavre/Buttz Century Farm is a farm owned by Linda and Don and farmed by their son, Scott, who is carrying on the farming legacy begun in 1902 by Grant W. LaFavre.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Phippen Family

The Phippen Family. Top Gerald, Pearl Randall Phippen & daughter Wanda Phippen Force. All Russell graduates. Bottom picture includes son Gary Phippen, he attended R.H.S. but they moved to New Sharon & he graduated from there.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Years and Years Ago by Ursula Bingham

The new bandstand in Russell was dedicated.  Among the men who worked on the construction were Chuck DeBok, Dean Thompson, Jim Andrews, Paul Force, Don Turbot and Homer Chapman.  Virginia Orwig had the privilege of formally dedicating the new bandstand.  Homer Chapman, who had been a band member since the age of 12, was the bandleader.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Years and Years Ago by Sanda Stump

May 31, 2012   Herald Tribune

30 years ago -
After 38 years Eileen Wright said good-bye to her elementary students.  Eileen, who was retiring, had taught kindergarten in the Chariton schools for 21 years.  She taught her first three years at Franklin School and then 17 years at Columbus School.

40 years ago -
Dewey Abrahamson, of Russell, received a citizenship award from the Iowa State Bar Association and the Iowa State Bar Foundation.

80 years ago -
Twenty-five diplomas were granted to the senior class of Russell High School.  Hazel Price, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Asa A. Price, delivered the valedictorian address.  Ruth Eloise Bowers, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Claude Bowers, delivered the salutatory address.  Carson H. Cobb was the superintendent.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Years and Years Ago by Sanda Stump

May 17, 2012 --  Herald Tribune

20 years ago -
Kathlene Penney, of Russell was chosen by Unit 308 of Russell to attend the 47th annual session of Iowa American Legion Auxiliary Girls' State.  Kathleen is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Penney of Russell.

30 years ago -
Nick DeBok, formerly of Russell and son of Mr. and Mrs. Jake DeBok of Russell, had his first play produced at the Atrium Theater in Chicago.  The original play, written by Nick, "Triple Word Score", was a comedy with a three member cast.  Nick received favorable reviews in two Chicago newspapers and was recommended for a Jeff Award.

60 years ago -
There were a lot of $2 bills circulating around town.  The Russell Produce was paying all its help in the $2 bills.   About $1,400 worth went into circulation, all brand new bills.

70 years ago -
Six high school commencements were held in Lucas County.  One hundred and nine graduated from Chariton High School, 13 from the junior college, 26 from Russell, eight from Williamson, 11 from Derby High School, Lucas graduated seven and 10 graduated from Norwood.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Coffee Drinkers of Russell

Here is one of the stories that appeared in the 2012 Russell History Book.

Russell Coffee Drinkers
Through the Years

   Russell Coffee Drinkers at Edwards Store  -  February 1978

From left:  Homer Chapman, Harold Hawkins (his back), Clare Collins, and Beverly Werts.

Russell Coffee Drinkers at Beverly Werts Store August 1985 (Table #1)
Picture taken by Gerald Blue.
From left: Lee Cottingham, Ted Smith, Hugh Moore, Lloyd Shore, Quincy Robb, Charlie Smith

   Russell Coffee Drinkers at Beverly Werts Store August 1985 (Table #2).
  Picture taken by Gerald Blue.
From left:  James Johnson, Bob Parker, Lloyd Shore, Paul Force, Don Turbot.

  This tradition began many years ago and it is still ongoing.  They met for years in the Russell Mall and after it closed, they moved to the convenience store in town.  Last Chance is now where the men meet from 8a.m. - 9a.m. and the women meet from 9a.m. - 10a.m. to drink coffee and visit.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Years and Years Ago

January 5, 2012

40 Years Ago

Russell firemen elected Jim Moore as fire chief, Bob Willits as assistant chief and Max Clayton secretary/treasurer.

January 12, 2012

30 Years Ago

Mona Coop retired after 28 years of service to the City of Russell as city clerk.

10 Years Ago

The first baby of the year was born to Steve and Karol Pollard of Russell.  The baby was named Jaxon Ryan.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Years and Years ago

September 8, 1980.  Russell Residents voted for a major tax increase in support of their schools at the polls approving an Enrichment Tax by 183 - 88. 

September 8, 1940.  Russell Schools opened with a total enrollment of 122 students in the high school and 94 in the elementary grades.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Dickerville Story

A former Dickerville School building purchased by Joseph N. Sanborn about 1870 and moved to this spot for a dwelling. It was moved on pole skids from about sixty-five rods north of Dickerville corner to about fifty rods east. Since it was built of native oak it was very heavy and required eight teams of horses to move it.  The building was 18 x 24 or larger. In those days they were concerned that the native trees were being used up too rapidly so the lumber measured 1½ inches thick rather than the standard 2 inches. The house was not boxed but had lath and plaster. The weather boarding was sawed thin like the white pine siding on the older houses of today and was oak. Men in the picture (taken about 1910) are: Bert Sanborn, Reece Davis and Lester Colver. The house was torn down about 1934. Joseph Sanborn died in 1919 and this was his home at that time. The trees surrounding the home are maple and weeping mulberry.

Very few people outside of the County Superintendent of Schools office knew where Cedar Grove No. 5 was but nearly everyone could direct you to Dickerville.
In the time era of the Civil War there was an early settler (farmer, blacksmith) whose shop doors opened upon the edge of the road. He would rather trade in the local commodities of that time than work at his custom blacksmithing. Anyone who stopped in his shop or perhaps was only passing by, would be stopped by the settler who would proceed to barter with him for anything. His expression was “try to get a dicker out of them.”
His shop and possibly his dwelling was approximately thirty rods east of the Cedar Grove No. 5 school corner and must have been sort of a central gathering place for the neighborhood. It is understandable how from his eccentricity that Cedar Grove No. 5 was always known as Dickerville School. Like many schools, the nickname was known and the official name appeared only on teacher contracts, tax levies, pupil certificate awards, etc.
It is quite likely that this farm, (blacksmith’s) name was John Maydole and the blacksmith shop apparently disappeared about that time. Mr. Maydole could well have been the first settler on that tract. We wonder about the name, Dickerville, how much longer will it survive since there are no more visible signs of a building or of Cedar Grove No. 5 on that corner.
NOTE: the above is from the Lucas County History Book of 1978.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

John P. Sellers, Lucas County's Oldest Settler

Lucas Counties Oldest Settler Here for Homecoming
J. P. Sellers of South of Chariton Was Born 84 Years Ago in Cedar Township.
Is Still Hale & Hearty

From the Russell Union Tribune of Oct. 10, 1935

Click on picture to enlarge
An interesting visit with Lucas County's oldest native citizen, J. P. Sellers of Benton Township was our privilege during Homecoming.  Mr. Sellers was born in Cedar Township on the farm now operated by his nephew, Mark Sellers, about ½ mile from the original Lucas County home of Wm. McDermitt, the first settler.

Mr. Sellers, a well-preserved old man, will be 84 on his next birthday and the oldest living resident born in Lucas County.  Fifty-five years ago he married and moved to the farm in Benton Township upon which he still resides.  Mr. Sellers was accompanied to our office by Mr. Bill Woodall, the originator of Lucas County’s Old Settlers Picnic that was held south of Derby. The picnic, which was held each year until the last few years and which he hopes to reestablish as soon as conditions will warrant.

Mr. Woodall lived south of Russell on the Isaac Wiltsey farm known later as the Bob Lewis farm. Thirty-eight years ago and moved to his present location south of Derby which he has made into one of the picture farms of Southern Iowa.  Both gentlemen were thoroughly enjoying the renewal of acquaintances at the Russell Homecoming here.

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John P. Sellers
Long Life Ended – Had Lived in Lucas County All His Life
Prominent Farmer Dies at Home South of Chariton – Saturday, Rites Are Held Monday
Born in Log Cabin – He Helped Build Otterbein Church in Benton Township.

From the Chariton Leader – Feb. 23, 1937
John P. Sellers, 84, prominent Lucas County farmer, died Saturday at his home in Benton Township, south of Chariton.  For years he had been recognized as the oldest native resident of Lucas County.  Born in a log cabin in Cedar Township, October 16, 1852, he grew to manhood on his father’s homestead. 

Following his marriage in 1880 he established the home in Benton Township where he lived until his death.
Funeral services for Mr. Sellers were held Monday afternoon at two o’clock at the Otterbein Church, conducted by Rev. Talbott. Burial was in the Chariton cemetery.  At his request the scripture lesson for the rites was read from the ninety-first Psalm, and the text was taken from the third and fourth verses of the twenty-fourth Psalm.

Before his death John P. Sellers requested that the text for his funeral sermon be taken from the third and fourth verses of the twenty-fourth Psalm. 

The verses are:
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Surviving Mr. Sellers are his wife; three sons, Clifford and Harris Sellers, both of Benton Township and Thomas Sellers of Des Moines; three brothers, including Nathan Sellers of Norfolk, Va., a twin, William Sellers of Des Moines and Thomas Sellers of Lucas County; 17 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Mr. Sellers became a member of the United Brethren Church in 1885. He helped build the Otterbein Church, not far from his home, and was absent from service only when poor health prohibited attendance.  Mr. and Mrs. Sellers celebrated their golden wedding anniversary seven years ago and the observance still holds a prominent part in the history of the community.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Citizens Bank Safe

Linda Wycoff of Chariton looks at a large old safe at the Lucas County Historical Society Expo.  This safe was once used at the Citizens Bank in Russell.  From the mid 1920's to 1983, it was used at the Lucas County Treasurer's Office from the mid 1920's to 1983.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Historic Blue Grass Road Regains its Identity

This article appeared in the Chariton Leader dated April 26, 2011, written by Sandra Knebel, Staff Writer

When the new 911 system was put into effect in Lucas County, the Blue Grass Road lost its name and became a number (#235), but never it's significance.  This historic county route was registered with the Iowa State Highway Commission on December 1, 1917, as the Blue Grass Road.  It started in Burlington and ended in Council Bluffs, a distance of 310 miles.  This east/west route was considered of military importance.  On Saturday, April 23, 2011, the Bob Sims family, from Russell, gave back to the road its identity as a historic road by erecting four signs along its route.
Click on picture to enlarge
The first sign is located near the dirt road that runs a few hundred yards from the Douglass Pioneer Cemetery on 235th Trail.  There is one at the corner of 235th Trail as it turns onto 455th Lane.  The third is at 455th Lane as it turns into 270th Avenue.  The fourth is by the Baptist Church in Russell on Smith Street.

The signs were a gift to Bob Sims from his sister, Mary Lou Bingaman and his children, Steve, Mike, and Toni.  Bob and Mary Lou's grandmother bought a farm on the Blue Grass Road in 1947.  She never lived on the farm, but her son, Charlie and his wife, Eulice, did.  They were Bob and Mary Lou's parents.  Mary Lou bought the farm and lives there in the home she built.  Bob and his wife Gwen lived on the farm during their early-married years.  Both Steve and Toni were born while their parents lived there.  Bob had often mentioned to his family that he would like for everyone to remember the original name of the road.  So, for a Christmas present, his family presented him with the four signs that were put in place Saturday between Chariton and Russell marking the "Historic Blue Grass Road."

Bob Sims said that without the help of Mary Ruth Pierschbacher, the surprise of the signs and permission to put them up would never have happened.  Mary Ruth guided them through the maize of requests and approvals needed to get the signs in compliance with regulations.

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation website on historic routes in Iowa, the history of the Blue Grass Road began in April 1913 immediately following passage of the 1913 Road Law.  The Iowa Blue Grass Road Association submitted a check of $5 to the Iowa State Highway Commission (ISHC) with the objective of protecting their existing route markers and registering their rout.

The goal of the Iowa Blue Grass Road Association was clearly stated -- "an organization for the purpose of maintaining a model dirt road across the state of Iowa thru the heart of the Blue Grass Belt and giving encouragement to the 'Good Roads' cause in general."

As testament to their dedication, Secretary Frank Nimocks wrote to the ISHC stating that they were extremely interested in being the first to officially register their route, having already received "quasi" approval from democratic Senator Charles H. Thomas, also known as the "father of the Blue Grass Road."

Unfortunately, the road association's application was found to be incomplete.  The group had failed to trace their route on the county maps provided by the ISHC.  Upon receipt of the check, ISHC Chief Engineer Thomas MacDonald sent the organization a blank registration form in hopes of facilitating a quick resolution.  That proved not to be the case.  After being asked to adequately fulfill the application requirement, correspondence mysteriously ended for the next three years, preventing the association from becoming the first registered route following passage of the 1913 Road Law.

In Sept. 1916, ISHC Chief Clerk F.W. Parrott received a handwritten letter from Indianola resident S.L. Loper.  Loper asked for the name and address of the president and secretary of the Iowa Blue Grass Association, along with information about other aspects of the route.  Loper was surprised to learn that the route had never registered with the ISHC due to the association's failure "to give the necessary information as to the location of their route" three years earlier.  Parrott acknowledged that the ISHC had not had any correspondence with the association for quite sometime.

In November 1917 a series of letters and correspondence rectified years of silence.  On November 8, 1917, Senator Thomas furnished maps of the traced route to the ISHC.  A week later, Parrott sent Senator Thomas a new application to register the Blue Grass Road with the appropriate signatures.  Thomas identified himself as president and James Bryan as the association's secretary.  Finally on December 1, 1917, after nearly four years of effort and inconsistent communication, the ISHC met and approved the Blue Grass Road.