The Black Prairie Belt
Away Down South In Dixie Victor Feller Tells About It
Humus Exhausted But Can Be Restored
The black prairie belt that we came south to see is a strip of land from fifteen to forty miles wide and extending from north central Mississippi in a southeasterly direction for 200 miles down to central Alabama.
This land has been farmed largely in cotton for fifty to a hundred years. It has been owned by wealthy men in large tracts and farmed on a very extensive scale. Some of the larger plantations have fifty to a hundred cabins for negro tenants or laborers.
This strip has been as rich in fertility as the valley of the Nile. By this long continued cotton cropping, without rotation or added fertility, the humus and nitrogen have been exhausted to such an extent that the yields are now unprofitable unless commercial fertilizers are used. This land is still very strong in lime and is very easily restored by the use of alfalfa and many of the clovers and legumes which seem admirably adapted to the soil and climate. Generally speaking the land lays as fine as the best parts of Cherokee county. Some timber skirts the streams and on the slight elevations above. Trees are principally oak, sycamore, gum and in some places cedar, pines and magnolia and holly.
After a hasty examination of the lands in eight or nine counties of Mississippi and Alabama it seems that the very choice lands can be bought at $30 to $50 per acre. To us northerners it looks as though a system of rotation together with live stock farming should be adopted and the land could be made to produce more than the very best lands of Iowa.
A large variety of fruits and grasses besides field corps grow luxuriantly here. The seasons are fully two months longer than ours and the climate is fine.
Ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers and the negro problem keep people from going to sleep or becoming too lazy.
Severe Blizzard Hits Cherokee Late Wednesday
Warm Sun Thursday, Begins Thawing Snow
Sweeping out of the northeast on the wings of a brisk gale, a blizzard struck Cherokee Wednesday night shortly after six o'clock. Two inches of snow were recorded and almost an inch of moisture.
Driven by a fierce northerly wind the snow whipped through streets obliterating vision for several feet. It continued for several hours before subsiding late at night.
The snow came as the climax to a two day spell of rain and intermittent flurries. Wednesday afternoon temperatures slowly descended and skies which were a leaden gray most of the day took on an ominous greenish color later in the afternoon.
A blizzard had previously swirled through the northwestern part of the state and through the Dakotas, extending as far south as Nebraska and Kansas radio reports said. In the direct path of the gale Cherokee county roads were rapidly drifted and city streets were piled high with drifts. All city streets were open Thursday morning, however.
State snow plows, working most of the night cleared main highways but Thursday morning a number of county roads were still blockaded, County Engineer W. T. Hosmer reported. He said they would be clear in a day or two.
City snow plow crews, starting out as the first snow began, cleared city streets to traffic. Radio reports from nearby cities Wednesday warned motorists to keep off the highways during the storm. Few were caught near Cherokee and no accidents as the result of the storm were reported to local authorities.
Temperature was 33 Wednesday at 7 p.m. Lowest reading was 19. The mercury plummeted to 9 above Thursday morning after the snow storm had ceased, but it rose steadily through the forenoon and by noon the erratic blanket of snow was thawing.
Most of Cherokee's volunteer firemen were looking for a fire Monday night. They heard the shrill blast of the siren stop the firehouse and the shriek of the truck as it whizzed through the streets, but they couldn't locate the fire. Central didn't know where it was because no alarm had come through by telephone. The volunteers fretted and fumed, but to no avail.
Here's what happened: A hatless man rushed into the fire station about six o'clock Monday night, just as Leo Morton, truck driver, was coming from the basement of the fire house where he had been stoking the furnace.
"Help! Fire! Fire!" cried the excited figure. "House afire at 318 South Roosevelt! Hurry!"
Morton, catching the stranger's excitement, slammed down the siren switch and leaped into the truck with Chief of Police C. G. Cobb and sped posthaste to the scene of the expected "conflagration."
They found a pile of oily rags in the basement of the J. W. Unger home and extinguished the small blaze before it could do any damage. No one was home at the time the fire started but the unidentified man, who first discovered it, became so excited he had run all the way to the fire station to report the blaze.
Then Driver Morton forgot to call central and tell the location of the fire so other members could find it.
Washta Windmill Razed After 36 Years Of Service
Washta's windmill, one of the oldest landmarks of the town, was taken down recently, and according to many citizens it left a "lonesome place against the sky." The old windmill, owned by O. J. Plomesn, business man here, was erected about 36 years ago and towered over the very center of Main street for a quarter of a century.
In the early years of 1900 the mill supplied water for the town fire department's needs and many were the bucket brigades which formed in line at the side of the old windmill during Washta's frequent and critical fires.
More recently citizens would glance up at the weather vane to learn the ways of the wind, but its days of usefulness as a water pump were over and this spring the mill was taken down.
Primary Filings Soaring
Filings for the Cherokee County primary election have soared to nine with four new candidates announced today.
Among those who have filed is Jim McDonald, incumbent county attorney, McDonald is seeking an additional two-year term on the Republican ticket.
Walter Radke, Aurelia; W. K. Nafziger, Cleghorn, and Calvin A. Leonard, Holstein, have also filed for the June Primary.
Radke is seeing reelection as supervisor from the fifth district on the Democratic ticket.
Nafziger is running for clerk of Sheridan Township on the Republican ticket and Leonard is running for Silver Township trustee on the GOP ticket.
Earlier papers were filed by Paul Fishman, who is running for reelection as Justice of the Peace in Cherokee Township, Democratic ticket; R. K. Stonebrook and Harrison C. Fisher, JP, Cherokee Township, Republican party.
Dale Sleezer, Aurelia, filed for trustee in Afton Township and Walter Nielsen, filed for clerk in Amherst Township.
Diamond Jubilee Set For Quimby
Plans are rapidly moving ahead for Quimby Diamond Jubilee July 17-28.
The program committee is asking all residents of Quimby and the surrounding area within a five-mile radius, who are 75 years old or over to register at the McClintock Insurance office.
Registration will be open from April 15-July 1. These people will make up an honor roll of the older residents of Quimby and will be honored during the jubilee.
Anyone having knowledge of the correct age of persons unable to register in person may do so for the individual.
In other areas the pageant committee is asking for singers for the pageant chorus. Persons interested are asked to contact Mrs. Bill Eubank, Mrs. Robert Compton, Mrs. Allen Conley or Charles McClintock.
Those wishing to be in the chorus must be high school age of older. The committee is also asking for adults to play in the town band.
The next meeting will be held Friday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the McClintock Insurance office.
Aurelians Attend Telephone Conclave
Representatives from Aurelia were among 765 delegates who attended the 67th annual convention of the Iowa Independent Telephone Association in Cedar Rapids Monday and Tuesday.
Attending from Aurelia were Mable Johnson and Mr. and Mrs. Lowell D. Hill.
The delegates represented more than 300 independent companies from every county in Iowa. Don Childers of Kansas City and officials with United Utilities which serves 500,000 phones in 15 states, pointed out the rapid increase in long distance service and advancements in techniques.
Many rural and urban areas in Iowa depend upon the independent companies for local service and for connection with the national system.
Representatives saw much of the latest equipment demonstrated and participated in round table discussions covering nearly every phase of telephone service.
Taxpayers Association doesn't reach goals in first year
Jerry Conley is disappointed.
Conley is chairman of the Cherokee County Taxpayers Association. The association, Conley said, did not achieve what it hoped this year.
"We did not change anything in the county budget or the (Cherokee) school budget. We had a small effect on the assessor's budget. But, we did not produce any results. That's why I'm disappointed," Conley said.
The association wanted to decrease property taxes and control spending.
The Cherokee County Taxpayers Association began last fall, when several county residents told public officials they were concerned about increasing property taxes and government spending to public officials. The group organized, and members began regularly attending county supervisors, city council and school board meetings. They began researching budget processes, especially at the county level.
They made suggestions for cost cutting at the county, Cherokee school district and Cherokee city budget hearings. Despite the suggestions, all three budgets were approved as proposed, or just with minor changes.
1987-88 tax askings for the county budget decreased in comparison to 1986-87. However, at the recent public hearings on the budget, Conley noted that from 1980-81 to 1985-86, property increased 49 percent, while the cost of living increased 30 percent.
He also noted that the county's property tax levy is one of the highest in the area.
After reviewing the county's taxing and spending history, Conley said he realized his group should have gotten involved in the budgeting process a lot earlier.
"With the county budget, we should have started at least five years ago. We reacted late," Conley said.
Though they may have started too late, Conley said he did not think the group went after changes too fast. He also said budgeting officials did listen to the concerns of the taxpayers, and were cooperative in getting information to the association when it was requested.
The reason the association was not more successful producing changes, was that it was not successful in getting enough members informed, Conley said.
"We were listened to. But, the association did not get our message, our information, spread to enough people. There was not enough understanding and education so those who make the decision could hear from more people." Conley said.
This is also the reason the association only went after the county budget, the Cherokee school budget and the Cherokee city budget.
Association members did talk to school superintendents in other communities in the county about the budgets. However, despite the budget awareness the association was trying to create, nobody attended school and city budget hearings in communities outside of Cherokee.
Conley said the association simply did not have the time and manpower to cover all the various budgets.
"We wish we had more people and more time to go (to the other budget hearings), Conley said.
Conley said some good has come out the association's work.
"The individual who has a complaint about taxes, property taxes, now has a place where the complaint can be heard and explained. We can pursue it for them, explain it for them," Conley said.
The first year of the work has also given associations members the opportunity to realize what needs to be done to achieve changes in government spending, Conley said.
"What needs to be done first, it to educate members about budgets.
"We now to go back to educating the public about the numbers," Conley said.
Conley said the association may have to be more aggressive when the 1988-89 budget rolls around. When the group started, association officials said they wanted to be watch dogs, not attack dogs.
Conley said the association has maintained the watchdog attitude, and has never really showed any teeth.
"No, and it's a mistake. We may need to be more aggressive, he said. The association is steadily growing in membership. Conley estimated the group now has 200 members.
"If we don't double that in the next year, I'll be surprised," he said.