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Monday, May 2, 2016

Times Gone By

Friday, September 7, 2012

100 years ago

Cherokee Opera House - Theater is not new to Cherokee. Take a look at this play that was performed at the Cherokee Opera House. The date of the photograph is unknown, but the name of the play being performed is "Cheerful Liar."
Rev. H. Grefe, pastor of the Lutheran church in Germantown, tonight at 12 o'clock was burned to death before the eyes of his children and several other persons when he was pinned beneath a wrecked motor car. He had not lost consciousness. He died heroically.

The blaze was started from a lantern with which his rescuers were working. The car was driven by August Pauling, of Germantown. In it were children of both Rev. Mr. Grefe and Mr. Pauling. The party had been to Mill Creek, near Paullina, and were returning to Germantown.

About six miles from Paullina the steering gear of the machine refused to work and the auto jumped from a small bridge, turning over. Rev. Mr. Grefe was pinned beneath the wreck. The children were thrown clear. Mr. Pauling was seriously injured. The cries of the children were heard by persons living in the neighborhood. They rushed to the scene.

One of the rescuers had a lantern. Gasoline from the oil tank of the machine had spread to the wreck. A man holding the lantern dropped it. Instantly the wreck was in flames. But little progress had been made in lifting the car form Rev. Mr. Grefe's body.

The rescuers made frantic efforts to aid him. They were driven back. The screams of the children were heard for miles. Several persons suffered severe burns in the attempt to raise the flaming mass. Rev. Mr. Grefe went to his death as due his calling. He lifted his voice in prayer. Even the screams of the children ceased at the spectacle. The body was consumed. The injured were taken to Paullina for treatment.

75 years ago

Cherokee public schools will open for the new year Monday.

While no record-breaking enrollment is expected, registration is expected to compare favorably with figures of other years.

The faculty is complete and teachers are prepared to enroll both new and old students.

Miss Geneva Nelson, music supervisor will be in the physics laboratory of Wilson building from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday to receive used textbooks which will be offered for sale at the second hand book exchange. All students having books to sell are urged to bring them Saturday to relieve congestion Monday. Texts will be examined and priced by school officials before being placed on sale in the various buildings Monday. New rural students are cautioned that proper enrollment and registration is necessary at the principal's office before entry can be made to classes Monday. They must present eight grade admission certificates signed by a notary.

At the opening of school at 8:50 o'clock Monday morning, freshmen will go to room 11, Miss Vera Pratt; sophomores to Room 15, A. J. McClintock; juniors to Room 12, Miss Dessie Penney, and seniors to Room 5, Miss Cleda Welborn.

All tuition students who have not paid at least a part of their full tuition will get their registration cards in Room 7 from John Gilchrist or Miss Mary Taylor.

After students get their registration cards they are to convene in the assembly room where a general assembly will be held at 8:50 a.m. Following the assembly all classes will meet. School will close for the day at 11:50 a.m.

Immediately following the 11:50 o'clock dismissal, the second hand book exchange will open at the third floor in the Physics laboratory. The exchange will remain open until 8 p.m.

The rental books for this year will be in the following courses: English I (classical); typing I, general mathematics, general history, physiology, American Literature and sociology. These books may be rented from the teacher of the particular subjects.

50 years ago

The town of Meriden located on Highway 3 west of Cherokee is making strides to keep up with present day living.

During the past 10 years the rural community has made advances towards modernization.

The community of about 200 now has its own fire department, town hall and independent water system. The business district has been surfaced and the residential and business areas are well lighted with street lights in all areas.

Officials report they hope to put in their own sewer system in the future.

The town has one fire truck and a 15-man volunteer company. The department if financed by the annual firemen's picnic.

Street Works

The town continues to work on residential streets as funds are available. The residential streets are being gradually graded and graveled.

Meriden is one of the few towns of its size in this section of the sate which boasts fluorescent lights on residential streets and mercury street lights in the business district.

Cherokee Grain & Feed - The Cherokee Grain & Feed was located on the corner of Elm Street and Fifth Street, and is currently home to the Cherokee First Coop Association.
A new church is also going up in Meriden. The Evangelical Free Church congregation is building the new church with volunteer labor.

Officials reported it was set up as a three-year project and should be completed some time next year.

The building is up and the roof is on. The congregation is now preparing to pour the basement floor. It is hoped it will be completely enclosed before winter. When completed it will have a brick veneer finish. It is headed by Erwin Mogenson and Bob Nelson.

A number of the residents of Meriden are considering building new homes.

The Elmer Chase family is in the process of building a home now. They are building an international home and an open house will be held when it is completed.

Meriden is one of the familiar small country towns but it is striving to keep up with the pace of progress and look to the future.

It was revealed during the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday that the county farm as been put up for sale.

The officials contracted Ruden Realty and Auctioneer Company of LeMars to sell off the farm.

An adding machine was purchased for the treasurer's office and bills were paid. The county farm report for August was approved.

25 years ago

Normally, a piece of Iowa land gets its value from its potential to grow crops or support houses or highways.

But a part of Cherokee County is valuable for exactly the opposite reason. It is virgin prairie, one of the few unbroken expanses of earth in the state.

The Steele prairie will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Friday by Gov. Terry Branstad as part of Prairie Heritage Week. The prairie is located two miles west and one mile north of Larrabee.

The Steele prairie is actually two areas--160 acres located in section 16 of Cedar Township and 40 acres in Section 15. According to a history provided by Washburn W. Steele of Cherokee, the land was originally set aside for schools and was purchased by banker Thomas S. Steele of Salem N.Y. in 1880. Thomas S. Steele died in 1896 and left the land to his six children. The area was eventually transferred to Steele Farms Inc.

Under the management of Thomas S. Steele's son, Thomas H. Steele, and then grandsons Harrison and Richard Steele, the land was hayed once a year. Cattle feeders in the area would each rent 40 acres. The hay was prized for feeding cattle for the Chicago market and Eastern hotel trade.

The land has remained in the hands of Steele Farms and the board of directors: Catherine Steele Fitzsimons, Thomas J. Steele, R. Daniel Steele and Jane Ann Bigbe.

The Steele family has kept the land in virgin prairie even though plowing it up would have produced more income, Washburn Steele wrote.

"It has been their desire to see it preserved unspoiled for the benefit of research and future generations."

It came to the state's attention in 1945 when Dr. Ada Hayden of Iowa State University wrote that the tract was a "fine example of true prairie. A rich flora in excellent condition exists here...It is a very colorful example of a rare and vanishing flora. It is an ideal tract for a scientific preserve."

While other prairies were protected as preserve, the state forgot about the Steele prairie until 1972 when area resident Lynn Brabard brought it to the attention of ISU professor Dr. Roger Landers. In 1986, the Steeles agreed to sell the property to the Iowa Nature Conservancy, a private conservation group. State lottery funds will pay for half the purchase price. The Conservancy is collecting funds now to pay the other half, according to Bill Crews, state director of the Nature Conservancy. When the fundraising is completed, it will be turned over to the Department of Natural Resources and managed by the Cherokee County Conservation Commission.

The Nature Conservancy has been active in Iowa since 1963. Its purpose is to protect species and gene pools by buying up habitat. The Steele Prairie was at the top of the group's priority list, Crews said.

The Prairie is important because of the size and diversity of the plant species, Crews said. There are 50 different species of wild plants in the prairie including the ladyslipper and the western Prairie fringed orchid.

Crews said the prairie is basically the same is it was in the early 1800s, before the white man began to cultivate it. There is an aesthetic reason for preserving natural prairies for their plants and animal species. There is also a practical reason, Crews said.

Seventy percent of the medicine in the world comes from plant sources, Crews said. One rare plant provided a drug that decreased infant mortality from 4-out-of-5 to 1-out-of-5. When corn blight struck a few years ago, modern hybrids were crossed with ancient varieties from Mexico which were resistant to the blight.

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