Times Gone By

Friday, February 25, 2011

100 years ago

Tuesday Andrew Rasmus, the well known Cedar township farmer, received a letter posted at Aurelia of the genuine Black Hand kind. It ordered him under penalty of death to deposit in a mail box one and a half miles east and one mile west of his residence $20,000.

The letter assured him that if the money was not so deposited that he might expect death under horrible conditions. Andrew was startled at such a demand and, while wealthy, didn't happen to have that amount of change in the house, so he came to Cherokee and placed the matter in the hands of Sheriff Starr and under his advice at the appointed time, Thursday night, went to the designated place and deposited a neat package which might have contained $20,000, but didn't. In the meantime the sheriff had placed a large posse at various points of vantage to await the coming of the man who would thus easily get wealth in a large chunk. But the quarry was wary and although the posse shivered through the night nobody approached the mail box. The vicinity around was also searched but no suspicious characters were found.

The dialect would indicate that the letter was written by a Scandinavian, though this may have been only a blind. The affair has created considerable excitement. Some think it the work of a practical joker while others believe that there is a dangerous criminal at large in the county.

Shortly before midnight Saturday the residence on the Fred Fedderson farm, two miles north of Larrabee, was discovered on fire and with contents was entirely consumed. The house was occupied by Gus Engle and family but they were away at the time of the fire and how it originated is not known.

While nearby neighbors did what was possible to check the flames and save the furniture, the flames had gained such headway before they reached the scene that little could be done and the building with practically all the furniture was soon a sacrifice to the devouring element.

The building was comparatively new and was a good farm house. We are unable to learn whether there was insurance on this or not. We understand that the contents was not insured and represents a severe loss to Mr. Engle. This farm last year was the scene of a tragedy in which a child was burned to death.

One of the Engle children and a neighbor's child were playing in the barn and set fire to the hay, burning one of the children to death.

These misfortunes coming so near together has called forth the sympathy of Mr. Engle's neighbors and this will give him courage to face the future and to hope that fate will be more kindly in the future.

75 years ago

Although no official verification has been received in Cherokee, it is rumored at the state capital that Guy M. Gillette, ninth district congressman, may become a candidate for United States senator on a "League for Economic Equality" ticket in the democratic primaries. Word to this effect is continued in Iowa Daily Press bureau reports, and is said to have stirred political circles.

The report says:

"Gillette's probable candidacy for the democratic senatorial nomination was mentioned in connection with the visit of a northwest Iowa delegation to Des Moines, and other central Iowa points, reportedly for the purpose of sounding out other potential candidates to fill out a nearly complete ticket down through the state offices.

"The delegation is said to have declared its authority from Congressman Gillette to include his name in any negotiations leading to completion of an Economic League slate.

"Should Gillette run, Iowa would be treated to a battle among at least three powerful groups within the democratic party for the senatorial nomination. Governor Clyde L. Herring, Congressman Hubert Utterback and Sam D. Whiting of Iowa City already are in the field. R. M. Evans of Laurens, state corn-hog committee chairman, might be a fourth entrant. Evans is expected by some observers to jump into the senatorial battle as soon as the largest part of the 1935 corn-hog program is out of the way. Distribution of the second payment checks is expected to begin within a few days.

"The delegation from the League, which has for its avowed object economic equality for the farmer with tariff protected industries through a medium such as the AAA, is said to have earmarked Ralph Smith of Newton for state secretary of agriculture. Smith is a member of the state corn-hog committee.

"No mention was reported made of other candidates for state offices, except that the group would endorse Mrs. Alex Miller for secretary of state. Efforts were being made, according to the report, to obtain consent of other possible candidates to fill out the rest of the ticket."

Three members of the Henry Jalas family are recovering at their home from carbon monoxide poisoning suffered when the fumes from their light plant entered the kitchen. Members suffering from the poisoning are Mrs. Jalas, Elizabeth, 15, and Harry, 19, who were overcome by the flumes as Mrs. Jalas was washing in the kitchen. It was found that the escaping fumes were forced back into the basement because snow and frost had closed the exhaust pipe leading outside under the porch.

Banister Bridge - Here is a wonderful old photo that was once a postcard. It features the Banister Bridge in Pilot Township in Cherokee County. There is no known date when this photo was taken.

The three stricken people were discovered by Mr. Jalas and another son, Henry, jr., when they came to the house for the noon meal.

They immediately summoned medical aid but Dr. T. D. Kas, attempting to answer the call, was forced back, when he found the road blocked by drifts. He immediately gave instructions over the telephone and in the evening managed to reach the patients who live on a farm two miles south of town.

Only timely arrival of Mr. Jalas is what saved the three members of the family from death.

50 years ago

Golden Thompson, LeMars, spoke on Communist Russia at last week's Rotary program here. The speaker pointed out that the "things we stand for are in the greatest danger they have ever been in our history."

He traced the growth of Communism. Karl Marx (1818-1883) started the whole problem, so to speak. He was a German scholar who lived in England. Marx, said Thompson, called the system he developed "Dialetical Materialism," borrowing from Hagel, another philosopher.

Marx said capitalism, in the transformation of a way of life, reached its peak in the 19th century. The next step forward would be a revolution which would change the way of life to socialism. And government would own all property and distribute benefits to the people.

Thompson said this is the thinking of Communist Russia today. The Soviets believe that capitalism will bring about revolution in those countries that have capitalism--and the result will be socialism.

They believe there never will be peace in the world until capitalism is destroyed.

The Reds say that after there is a complete Communistic world there will not be any need for separate countries. Socialized planning would be throughout the world as a unit.

The Communists do not believe in God, saying any matter is all that exists. They want to destroy religion so they work on the young people to prevent them from being taught religion.

Thompson reminded that without religion there are no moral ethics. They say the highest good is whatever advances the cause. If you lie claim the Communists, it is all right--because it advances the "cause." They are willing to sacrifice life for the cause.

The speaker said that the Reds will use any method to destroy the U.S. He said they are training and sending out subversive agents all over the world. Thompson said "we should wake up and develop counter-activities."

Thompson also said he thought the Soviets are planning an economic oil war to hurt the U.S.

Al Swanson was in charge of the program and presented Golden. Guests were Faye Wells of LeMars and Bob Swanson, also LeMars. President Gordon Steele presided.

25 years ago

More than $170,000 in Federal Revenue Sharing funds was appropriated Monday for several Cherokee County agencies and programs.

The appropriations were approved by the County Board of Supervisors following a public hearing.

Most of the requests for FRS funds had already been submitted to the board. However, two other groups submitted requests at Monday's nearing.

Sioux Valley Memorial Hospital officials requested $24,750 for the purchase of an ambulance.

A group of senior citizens requested $3,000 for the Council on Aging. The money will be used for rent buildings used by senior citizen groups.

Along with these two requests, the Board also approved FRS allocations for:

* Plains Area Mental Health, $20,000.

* Computer equipment for the county: $14,800.

* Mid-Sioux Opportunities Inc.: $2,750.

* Cherokee County Soil Conservation District: $2,000.

* Cherokee Industrial Corporation: $10,000.

* Cherokee County Fair: $5,000.

* Quimby Jaws of Life: $2,500.

* Financial administration: $5,000.

* Equipment purchases: $5,000.

* Emergency and capital improvement fund: $15,000.

The county FES account totals $373,928. The approved allocations total $172,250, leaving a balance of $201,678.

Following the hearing, the board decided to put the balance into an escrow account, just in case the FRS program is eliminated by the federal government.

County Auditor Beverly Anderson said some of the money in the escrow account could be used for a road project.

FRS money is allocated to counties by the federal government. It is used to fund certain projects and programs, in an effort to keep taxation down.

However, because of proposed federal budget reductions, the program could end within the next few years. Anderson said that communications she has had with FRS officials indicate that the counties' appropriation may even be cut back this year.

There were about 15 people at the hearing, but only a few spoke.

Ray Mullins, Larrabee, asked the board about using FRS funds to cover the cost of demolishing the Larrabee Middle School The school was closed this year by the Cherokee School District.

There has been some discussion about giving the building and property to Larrabee. However, Mullins said that neither Larrabee nor the school district have a use for the building, and neither can afford to demolish it.

Supervisors said the demolition project would probably be the responsibility of the school district.

In other business, the board met with Mike Lovell, head of Data Technologies in Charlotte, N.C. For the past 13 years, Lovell has had a major part in developing the county's computer system.

Lovell said he was upset because he heard that Cherokee County was going to use another computer firm. Lovell said he has also heard several comments that are critical of the work he has done for the county.

Lovell recently notified the supervisors that he would be discontinuing many of his services to the county in March.

Anderson said that the county is looking into upgrading its eight-year-old computer system, and that bids will probably be taken for the project. However, Anderson said that so far no computer firms have been notified about the county's plan.

Anderson said the county will take bids in an effort to get the best computer system for the best price.

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