The response we’ve seen in the community in regards to making cloth masks during the Covid-19 crisis, reminded me of Story City’s work on the home front with the Red Cross during WWI. The local chapter held larger events, drives, and fundraisers for the benefit of the Red Cross, but they were also tasked with various sewing and knitting projects that took place on a daily basis. By the beginning of July 1917, they had set up their headquarters in the domestic science room at the high school. Thirty ladies from the community had taken lessons for a week from a Miss Crawley of Ames and were ready to train others in the community. On a regular basis, a list of the medical supplies sewn by the group was printed in the Herald, including gauze bandages, pads, compresses, pillows, sheets, and pajamas. By August the local chapter was already gearing up for the winter and asking for woolen items to be knitted. They had been requested to knit 50 sets of sweaters, scarves, socks and wristlets. The American Red Cross supplied patterns and materials that had been approved by the military.
By the end of August the group was now meeting in rooms above the First Mortgage Investment Co.’s offices. Those wanting to volunteer were asked to come on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday afternoons. Girls who were still in school were asked to come on Saturdays. It was requested that volunteers help at least one afternoon each and every week. Margretha Marvick, secretary of the local chapter, wrote compelling articles in the Herald about volunteering for the Red Cross. The names of those who volunteered their time at the Red Cross rooms were printed in the Herald on a regular basis.
Another service that the Red Cross provided across the nation was the “Home Service Committee”. This service provided emergency relief, allowances, advice, encouragement, counsel, and information to the men in service and to their families. “An army’s morale is a most important factor in its success, and it was fully realized that a soldier’s morale was vitally affected by the situation of those at home. A man with a wife, with children, or with other relatives dependent upon him, can not put his best into his training and fighting unless he feels assured that these relatives are being well cared for in his absence.”
There is evidence in the Heralds that the Story City Red Cross chapter did their part with their home service committee duties. During the influenza epidemic in 1918, the local chapter put a call out for additional volunteers to help multiple families in the community who were effected by the flu. A letter from Everett Albert, who was in the army, was reprinted in the October 17, 1918 edition of the Herald, in which he thanks the Story City Red Cross home service for taking care of his family. “I wish to thank you for your kind interest shown towards my wife and also for relieving my mind by looking after my home affairs so nobly.”
The influenza epidemic in the United States is believed to have started at Camp Funston in Fort Riley, Kansas in March of 1918. From there it spread across the country due to the close quarters and massive troop movements of the military. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with the flu virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with approximately 675,000 occurring in the United States. More than 6,000 Iowans would die from the flu.
At Camp Dodge in Des Moines, the flu spread quickly through the camp during October of 1918. By the end of the epidemic, more than 10,000 soldiers were hospitalized at Camp Dodge. Deaths numbered just over 700, including one man from the Story City community, Andrew Boyd. At Iowa State College, where several men from Story City were enlisted in the Students Army Training Corps, 53 people died from the flu. Fifty-one of those were SATC men including Henry Larson from Story City who died on October 10. Of the eleven men from the Story City area who died while in service, nine of them died from the flu.
At home in Story City, the community was also dealing with the epidemic. As with most of Iowa, cases were beginning to be reported in September. By the October 10 edition of the Herald, the front page reported that the Board of Health ordered the closing of churches, schools, and all public places of entertainment for the week. The following week it was reported that two teenage girls from the community, Severine Sundahl and Tryphena Henryson, had died from the flu. The Story City Board of Health ordered that churches, theaters, pool hall, clubs and all places of public gatherings remain closed until further notice.
By the October 24th edition, it was announced that the October draft had been canceled by the war department due to the epidemic. Another young woman in the community had died, Margaret Allen. She was the sister of Andrew Boyd who had died at Camp Dodge the week prior. Funerals during this time were generally limited to immediate family and were held outside at the cemeteries due to the quarantine.
The quarantine was finally lifted on October 28 and the schools were operating as usual again. However, the flu cases ramped up again in November leading the Board of Health to instate another quarantine which began on the 25th. This time it lasted for almost another month until December 20th. News of the lifting of the quarantine was printed in the December 19th edition of the Herald. The community was excited to be able to celebrate the Christmas holiday in the local churches.
Based on the weekly death notices printed in the Herald between October 1918 through January 1919, it appears that at least eight people in Story City died due to the flu. It was reported that a few community members who were visiting other cities during this time contracted the flu and died away from home. Seven men from the Story City area who were serving in the military during this time also died from the flu.
Below are a few articles from the Herald that include notices to the community from the Story City Board of Health with guidelines for staying healthy.
Story City had a large celebration planned for the 4th of July in 1919. A full page ad was placed in the Herald a week prior to the 4th describing all of the activities planned. These included a parade, an oration by Rev. Dr. Kirbye of Des Moines, several musical acts, fireworks, and a variety of sports including a baseball game between Story City and Boone and a tug-of-war between the soldiers of Roland and Story City. Check out the Herald clippings below for more detailed information on how Story City celebrated the 4th of July 100 years ago.
A service flag or service banner is a flag that family members of those serving in the United States Armed Forces have proudly displayed for 100 years. The traditional service flag consists of a white field with a red border, with a blue star for each family member serving or a gold star for those that died while in service. The service flag was originally designed in 1917 by United States Army Captain Robert L. Queisser of the Fifth Ohio Infantry, in honor of his two sons who were serving in World War I. After which it was quickly adopted by the public and by government officials.
By early 1918 in Story City, service flags were already being mentioned in the Story City Herald. Several organizations in town made service flags in honor of the members of their group that were serving. In January it was announced that the Grace Sunday school would unfurl their flag soon. On March 17th the Grace Sunday school held a special service to dedicate their service flag which had 21 stars on it at that time. The service was described as “a most impressive one, with patriotism the dominating note in song and speech.”
St. Petri Church dedicated their service flag on the night of Sunday, March 3rd. After the choir and the audience sang “America”, the flag was presented by Rev. Solum on behalf of the Young People’s Society. There were 10 stars on the flag that represented young men from this society.
Also, at this same time the Herald featured an article titled “Half the Band at the Front”. The Story City Band had a service flag dedication on March 4th, 1918. A year prior in 1917 the band had 26 members; the flag they dedicated that night had 13 stars. The article closed with the statement that “the Story City Band is one of the most patriotic organizations in the country.”
As early as February 7, 1918 ads were running in the Herald to purchase service flags from the National Flag Company. For $1.25 they would ship a 12x18 inch one star service flag to your home. They also took custom orders for multiple star flags.
The Tjernagel family hosted their 12th annual family reunion in September of 1918. The main feature of this meeting was a family service flag with 24 stars on it. Two of these twenty four family members were from Story City, the rest were from elsewhere in Iowa and other states. At the next reunion in 1919 the feature of the meeting was an album with photographs of all of the Tjernagel relatives who were in the service during the war. A copy of this album is on display at the Carriage House Museum in our “Story City in the World War” exhibit.
In the April 25, 1918 edition of the Herald, it was announced that the Greater Community Congress had purchased a service flag that would be large enough to represent all of those that enlisted in the military from Story City. This community service flag was dedicated at the Memorial Day service that year. The service was held in the Grand opera house and drew a large crowd. It featured “inspiring addresses and excellent music and song.” The community service flag was “hung at the top of the center of the stage and with its seventy stars was a strikingly beautiful object.” By the end of the war it would have over 200 stars plus 5 Red Cross emblems and one YMCA triangle.
The Historical Society has attempted to find out if these services flags are still in existence but so far we have not been able to locate any. If you have any information on the location of these larger organizational service flags or smaller family service flags from WWI, please contact the Historical Society at 515-460-1749.
In spite of wartime conditions and the shortages of sugar and coal reported in the Herald in November of 1917, indications pointed to a very joyful Christmas time. A clip of the schedule of "Christmas in the Churches" is shown below, which lists all of the activities for the local churches.
For those in Story City with a loved one serving in WWI it was announced that Christmas packages needed to be shipped by November 15th to ensure delivery by Christmas Day. You can read the description of how to properly address packages in the Herald clip below. There is also an ad shown below from The Fashion Shop, a local Story City business, with suggested gifts for soldiers.
A cantata titled "The Star of Promises" was presented by the united Lutheran choirs of Story City on Christmas at St. Petri Church. According to the Herald, there was a full house at St. Petri and "it was one of the largest aggregations of singers ever brought together in this town and the verdict is pretty unanimous that the cantata was finely rendered." A collection of $ 77.50 was taken during the performance which was donated to the Red Cross.
The Commercial Club had organized a sleigh ride for the children of the community on December 27th. Twenty men from the community had promised to furnish teams and sleighs for the ride. It was planned that the the sleighs would drive in procession up and down the main street and various other streets in town. Unfortunately, it was announced in the Dec. 27th edition of the Herald that the sleigh ride had to be postponed due to the lack of snow.
We hope you enjoyed this look back at Christmas in Story City 100 years ago. Merry Christmas from the Historical Society!
This document holder is on display in our Story City in the Great War exhibit at the Carriage House Museum.
On August 15, 1931, the Story City Bakery held a Tall Corn Contest. Mr. Valline, the baker, offered cash prizes for the 15 tallest stalks. The contest sponsored by the local bakery in cooperation with the Vocational Agriculture Department at the High School brought out 67 participants. At the conclusion of the judging, prizes were awarded, contestants were served lemonade and cookies, and group photos were taken. Each contestant received a free copy of the group photo. Below are the contest rules, the list of prizes offered, and the winners as described the following week in the Herald.
Date of contest is August 15th. Entries may be made from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Contestant must be a man 21 years or older and must be a farm owner or renter. Contest management will furnish identification cards. All stalks entered will become the property of the contest management. Stalks will be measured from the ground line to the tip of the tassel. Crooked stalks will be straightened for measurement. Each contestant may enter only one stalk for prize. Prizes will be paid at 4:30 p.m. the same day. Contest will be staged in the parking east of the bakery.
Tallest corn stalk: 1st $1, 2nd 75c, 3rd 50c, 4th 25c, 5th 20c, 6th 15c, 7th to 15th 10 cents each.
From August 20, 1931 Herald
“A. C. Reinsch received the new one dollar-bill, as first prize for his fourteen foot one inch stalk. In the coin flip T. Z. Henryson took second place and 75c, O. C Vangness drew third place and 50c, while E. C. Frette was forced to take fourth place and 25c. These men tied on stalks thirteen feet and three inches in height. Hans Hendrickson won fifth place and 20c by a coin flip, forcing Amos Fossel to take sixth place and 15c for his thirteen foot and one inch stalk. Guy Heers and S. T. Farmer won a dime each with their thirteen foot stalks. M. Mathiason, T. C. Carpenter, Harry Henderson, C. Richards and T. T. Wicks won ten cents each with stalks ranging from twelve foot eight inches to twelve foot eleven and one-half inches in height.”
With all of the road maintenance that is currently ongoing in Story City, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the roads were originally paved for the first time 100 years ago. Through research into the 1917 and 1918 editions of the Story City Herald, I was able to learn the specifics of the materials used, the paving company hired, which streets were paved, and the time it took to complete. We also have several photos of the process in our photograph collection, a few of which we are sharing here.
In the March 29, 1917 edition of the Herald, a notice of intention was printed that stated the town council intended to pave, grade and to build curbs and gutters upon and along certain streets and parts of streets in Story City. It was announced in the June 14th edition that the paving resolution had passed at the city council meeting that week. The council would be asking for paving bids that would include Broad Street from the Northwestern depot at the west end to the park on the east end. The bids would also include Pennsylvania Ave a block north and a block south of Broad St. The proposed paving would be about 27,000 square yards, and about 800 feet of additional curb and gutter would also have to be built.
The bids were opened on July 2 at a special council meeting and seven different companies were represented. The bids were as follows on the various kinds of pavements:
Bitulithic—$2.29, $2 34 $2.37.
Class " A " asphaltic concrete,$2.29.
Class " B " asphaltic concrete: $2.21, $2.29.
Asphaltic concrete without, the binder course: $ 1.99, $2.11, $2.15.
Class " A " sheet asphalt $2 29.
Class " B " sheet asphalt $2.20 and $2.24.
Monolithic brick of various methods of laying: $2.35 to $2.82.
Semi-monolithic vitrified brick: $2.79 and $2.97.
Concrete pavement: $2.15.
The prices for extra excavations ran from 49 to 65 cents per yard. The bids for paving across the
Northwestern tracks were made separately and ran from $3.50 to $7.50 per yard.
All of the above prices were for the square yard. According to the Herald editor P.A. Olson, “The prices, as we understand, are a third more than those paid by the larger cities two years ago — but goodness knows when they will be any lower.”
It was announced in the July 12th edition that the council had chosen vitrified brick for the paving method with the contract going to Cary & Sons of Clinton, and their bid was $2.35 per square yard. The contract called for the completion of the project by November 1st.
As the community was waiting for the paving project to begin a few weeks later, P.A. Olson wrote of a petition in the July 26th edition. “Some excitement was stirred up the fore part of the week by the rumor that a petition was being circulated to get out an injunction to stop the paving work. So far nothing has come of it, although a number of signatures were obtained, we understand, in the residence blocks affected by the paving. To most of us the opposition which is developing now appears rather ill timed, as it will be pretty expensive to institute what at best can be only a period of delay. Better not do it.”
The excavating machines started on August 22nd to cut down the high spots on Broad St., cutting out six to twelve inches of graveled dirt all the way down the street. With a 14-mule grading machine and half a dozen dumping wagons, the top of the old streets were peeled off at the rate of 250 to 350 yards a day. A large portion of the dirt was dumped in the parking on Park Ave north of Broad St. due to a low spot there that tended to flood. The street grading portion of the project was completed within two weeks.
The brick pavers finally arrived in Story City towards the end of September. It was reported on September 27th that seven train cars of brick had arrived on one train with five more cars yet expected. Two local men, Clifton Wier and Elven Hovland were given the contract to haul the brick from the train cars to the street.
From the October 11th edition of the Herald: “The long looked for paving gang put in its appearance Monday morning—and now you ought to see how the brick is going down on our main thoroughfare. The present gang comprises about half a hundred men and they are covering about a quarter of a block per day, or four days to the block. The paving gang is largely recruited from our own city. A noteworthy feature of the work is the way several, of our "retired" farmers are dipping into it, and those middle aged men are doing "their bit" in hastening on the big paving job.”
It was reported on December 6th, 1917 that the paving of Broad St. from the depot to the park was almost completed except for a narrow strip near the park. The weather had been good in November so the men could work almost every day. However, December brought on cold weather and the project was delayed until spring. The paving contractors, Cary & Son, did not meet their November 1st deadline, but they were back in Story City in the beginning of April 1918 to finish the project.
Broad St. was completed by the middle of May and it appears Pennsylvania Ave was completed by August as the figures were on file at the office of the town clerk showing the cost of the paving. It was reported in the Herald on August 8th that the property owners along the paved streets must pay the paving assessment by the following Monday or else they must sign waivers giving them the opportunity to pay the assessment in seven yearly payments. The total cost of the paving project would have been at least $64,450 based on the square yards of paving area, which would equal to $1.2 million in today’s money.
On July 20, 1917 the first draft numbers were drawn at the Senate Office Building in Washington, DC. Here in Iowa, Story and Hamilton counties were 2 out of 3 counties in the entire state that had already sent more than their full quota of men. None of the registered men in the Story-Hamilton county area had to enter the army at this time. They would be called later as needed. Below is an article from the July 26, 1917 edition of the Herald that describes how the draft lottery went in this area.
The first draft during WWI was held on June 5 of 1917. Men between the ages of 21-31 were registered. On the left below is a proclamation from the governor of Iowa that was printed in the May 31 edition of the Herald. Below on the right is an article from the June 7 edition of the Herald that describes the how the draft registration went in Story county. 2,758 men registered in Story County on this date 100 years ago. Of that number 90 were from Lafayette Township and 122 were from Story City.
One of the men from Story City who registered for the draft on June 5 was Lewis Brattebo. He was a Private First Class in Company A of the 30th Machine Gun Battalion which trained at Camp Funston in Kansas. The battalion was scheduled to deploy to Europe but was prevented due to the influenza outbreak during September and October of 1918. It was reported that 61.3% of the battalion was sent to the hospital. The total number of deaths at Camp Funston due to pneumonia following influenza was 430. Below the two articles is a scan of the front and back of Lewis's draft card.
On April 30, 1917 about a dozen men from Story City left to join the military. Photos from the large gathering to bid good-bye to the men are above. Below is an article from the May 3, 1917 edition of the Story City Herald describing the gathering.