Using the past to build for the future
Most of the following information was reprinted from Rip Van Winkle Centennial Book.
A group of early settlers came from Ohio, Pennsylvania and other eastern states in 1836 and settled along a stretch of timer and a stream of water about a mile and a half northwest of what is now Mechanicsville. Many log cabins were built through the woods. One man built two cabins, one for his family and the other for a store and post office. The post office was established in 1847. This settlement was called “Pioneer Grove.” The land running south was on a ridge and swampy, but further south was open prairie. Joseph Strattan in 1850 claims this ridge land but soon sold it to Geo. Weaver. This land is the present Mechanicsville. Weaver then sold his interest to John Onstott who with Daniel A. Comstock plotted the original village of Mechanicsville. This parcel of land when surveyed was about 60 acres. Mr. Comstock soon sold his rights in the land and moved away, leaving John Onstott sole owner of the village site.
During the year 1857 David Dorwart became the owner of a tract of land situated east of the original village, but not immediately joining the eastward boundary of the same. An unplotted parcel of about 40 rods in width lay between the village and the Dorwart purchase which was at that time termed the Iroquois tract and was owned by John Onstott. Dr. Dorwart completed an arrangement with the Northwestern Railroad shortly after the Iroquois land came into his possessions, whereby 40 acres of the tract were to be plotted as a village site, the railroad receiving for its compensation every alternate lot. In order to unite the 2 plots and secure the harmonious development of both, Mr. Onstott at once surveyed the strip of land between his own village and the new site which consisted of about 20 acres, thereby extending the general plot so as to include 120 acres.
As the village was made up of hard working men, carpenters, masons, wheel wrights, John Onstott decided “Mechanics” and –ville would make a good name for the “village”, so thus it was named and still remains. Mechanicsville with a population at one time of around 1,200, but at present, 1974, it has a population of 1,010 people.
Stores began to be built as the village soon began to grow. Small homes were built and John Onstott built a one room school house. Most of these first cabins were built without any certain dimensions, without nails, screws, bars of iron of any description. Most cabins had fireplaces and were often built without lime. Yet everyone lived happily. Schools and churches continued to be built as more people joined the first settlers. There were several 2 story buildings made of brick and stone plus many one story wood buildings. They were built on a 2 block area running east and west. Many of the wooden buildings have either burned or been torn down and new cement and brick buildings replaced them.
On April 6, 1868, the first election of the incorporated town of Mechanicsville was held and a total of 147 votes were cast. T.C. McClelland was elected mayor; I.I. Huber was elected as town recorder. Trustees elected were Isaac Johnson, Andrew Pettie, John Osterlich, Vincent Keith and J.E. Rice.
One of the first ordinances they passed prohibited the townspeople from letting their horses, mules and hogs roam the streets as the hogs wallowed in the mud on the streets and the animals were hard on the lawns and gardens.
There was much difficulty getting people to abide by the law, and several of the marshals resigned when the pressure became so great because of divided feeling regarding prosecution for allowing animals to run at large.
1st That if any person or persons shall hitch, tie or fasten any horse, mule or other animal so as to stand upon any pavement or sidewalk or shall ride or lead any animal thereon or drive any carriage, buggy, wagon or vehicle thereon, such person shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined a sum not less than One Dollar, nor more than Five Dollars at the discretion of the Mayor and costs of suit together with any damages shown to have accrued from such trespass. Damages accruing to said pavements or sidewalks shall be recovered by action before the Mayor or any court having jurisdiction of such cases.
It has rightly been said that “we grown on the backs of giants.” The men and women, who chose our land to people, were pioneer, giant types. They came to a new land, inhabited by unknown others. They left communities, friends, and often times families, and established life to break new, untried paths. A vision of a good and prosperous life sustained them in the face of uncertainty, hardship and the unknown.
On the occasion of our hundred and twenty years of Mechanicsville life we salute some of those pioneers. And they join us in the memories of days gone by, and look with us into the futures of our tomorrows.
Among the early settlers of this community was James Boyles, a Native of Pennsylvania, who settled on 120 acres in Pioneer Township in 1854. He married Nancy Reid in 1827 and they were the parents of William, Robert, Thomas, Caroline, Margaret, George, James, Lyman, Albert and David. They were Charter Members of the First Presbyterian Church. They were buried in Pioneer Cemetery and later removed to Rose Hill Cemetery.
James Wilson was also a native of Pennsylvania and he came to a 120 acre farm in Pioneer Township in 1854. He was married to Fannie Alexander in April of 1835 and she died in September of that same year. On April 30, 1837, he married Eve Sines. They were the parents of Alexander, Fannie, John, Mary, William,
David and Elizabeth Wilson Boyles were the parents of four daughters: Nora (Mrs. John Jackson), Alice (Mrs. W.J. Glasgow), Nancy (Mrs. Leslie Rhoads) and Inez (Mrs. Frank Boyles). Inez Boyles operated a restaurant here for many years. She is now a resident of the Cedar Manor Nursing Home in Tipton.
Charles Brown and Maria Smith were the coachman and the cook for a physician in Cambridge shire, England in the 1840's. Europe was wracked with wares, and although English soil was as yet untouched, taxes for the defense of the British Isles made it impossible for most commoners to acquire a place of their own. Charles had a brother in Iowa, who already was a farm owner, a dream come true. Charles shred the same dream.
First, Charles proposed marriage to Maria, the cook. She hedged a little by protesting, "Charles, you don't want me. I am ten years older than you and I have false teeth." Charles replied, "I don't care--I love you just the same." So they were married, and in 1846 (the year Iowa attained statehood) they embarked for Iowa with their precious English recipes and traditions and a few treasured pieces of house wares.
When they arrived at the east bank of the Mississippi River, the travelers found the river frozen over; they walked across on the ice. They proceeded on into Iowa to the Coon Creek area, home of his brother.
Charles and Maria Born's resources were exhausted; he arrived with 25 cents in his pocket. He was given work by Mr. Stein on his farm. Mr. Stein was the grandfather of the late Claude Stein, who was the brother-in-law of Mrs. Retha Houle, who presently resides in Mechanicsville. Mr. Stein was blind, so he hired Maria to read to him.
In two years, Charles and Maria bought their farm of about 120 acres for $1.25 per acre. It was purchased from land dealers who bought government land and sold it to incoming pioneers. Farm land further north near Mechanicsville was selling for 50 cents per acre, but Charles felt it important to live near a water source.
Henry married Elizabeth Ehresman and was the father of Charles Brown, now retired at Stanwood; also Emily, now deceased, who married Christopher Kerslake. Emily was the mother of Roland Kerslake of Lisbon and Dorothy Kerslake Gallmeyer of Lisbon. A third daughter was Nellie Brown Kamberling, who children live near Lisbon.
William, the youngest son of Charles and Maria, married Sarah Hunter and they had one child, George E., who is retired but continues to live on the farm five miles southwest of Mechanicsville. He and his wife, Mary Puffer Brown, have six sons and one daughter: Three sons are operating Brown Farms, Inc: David, Joel and Robert. Robert is married to Dixie Davis and they have one daughter, Jennifer. The other children are Douglas, married to Patricia Lidrich; they are the parents of two daughters, Lisa and Beverly. Max, married to Sally Ahrens, is the father of Valerie, Christopher and Eric. Roger lives in Lancaster, California; and Nancy lives in Waterloo with her husband, Larry Durnan and their son, Brian.
A native of Maine, he was impressed with the fertility of the Iowa soil. After the War, he returned to Iowa and purchased two large farms northeast of Mechanicsville and a third farm three miles west of town. He returned to Maine, disposed of his holdings there, and brought his family, including his wife, two daughters, a brother and a maiden sister back to Iowa. He also brought the nucleus of a herd of purebred Hereford cattle, reportedly the first herd west of the
Mississippi. He imported stock from England, including some animals of the Anxiety family, a strain that is still popular today. The Moffit herd, which was popular for many years, got its start from those of Gill Burleigh.
Mr. Burleigh returned to Mechanicsville a number of times to look after business interest and to visit friends. His last trip was in 1918; while here he became ill and was taken to a hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he died.
Joseph Davidson was born and reared in Ireland and there he married Elizabeth McClellan. They came to America shortly after their marriage and settled in Connecticut until 1861, when they journeyed to Iowa. They were the parents of two sons: George and Joseph; and three daughters: Mrs. Mina Pieper, Mrs. Hattie Sanely and Mrs. Emma Young.
A son George Davidson was born in 1853 in Connecticut. In 1881 he married Mary E. Jackson, daughter of Richard and Nancy Jackson. They made their home on a farm east of Mechanicsville until 1912, when they moved to the City of Mechanicsville. George and Mary Davidson were the parents of six children: Joseph R., Fred, Harry, Mabel, Lucile and Ethel. Lucile, who makes her home in Mechanicsville, is the sole surviving daughter.
George Davidson's son, Harry Davidson, married Verna Guthrie and they were the parents of two childre: Kathleen and Verle, both deceased. Verle married Lillian Connor and they were the parents of two children: Verlynn, Jessup, Iowa; and Harry G., "Butch". Butch resides in Mechanicsville and is married to the form Carmen Kadlec. They are the parents of four children: Jeffrey, Bradley, Timothy and Nicole.
Joseph was born in 1854, also in Connecticut. He married Martha Jackson in 1895, a second daughter of Richard and Nancy Jackson. They established their home on a farm southeast of Mechanicsville were Don Davidson now resides. They were the parents of Ralph, who passed away at the age of 5, and an adopted son, Alvin. Alvin married Louise Dahoff, and his surviving sons, Don Joseph and Robert farm in the Mechanicsville area.
Herbert Eagerty was born and lived his entire life in Mechanicsville. At an early age he entered the dry goods business established in 1860 by his father. "Bert" was known by all and the Eagerty store was a town landmark.
In 1848 Claudis Ferguson and four brothers came from Pennsylvania by train to Clinton, Iowa and on to Mechanicsville by stage coach. They built a log cabin on what is now the Robert Davidson farm. In 1849 two of the brothers left for the California gold rush. They were never heard from again.
That same year Claudis returned to Pennsylvania, took a wife, Polly Steele, and brought his bride west to their new home. It was a three room log cabin just across the road from the Robert Davidson home. Eight children were born in this cabin home: James C., John, Ruben, Oliver, Alice, Irene, Emma, and Janette. James, Oliver and Irene (Mrs. Chris Brown) lived all their lives in the Mechanicsville area.
Irene had one son, Ray, who died in the 1940's. Oliver lived on the home farm until 1916 when he moved southeast of Mechanicsville. He was married to Budget Nolan, and they were the parents of four boys: Elmer, who did in 1910; Glen, Lawrence and Claude, all deceased. Lawrence had two daughters: Betty Emrich of Tipton and Mary Ellen Nassif of California.
A son, James C. Ferguson, married Oceana Brookman who was from Connecticut. In 1880 they built the east one-half of the present home of Gladys and Everett Ferguson. Here eight children were born: Ross, Howard, Frank, Everett, Morris and three children who died in infancy. Everett is the only surviving member of this family. Everett's family is Barbara
The history of Mechanicsville would not be complete without mention of a man who contributed much to the community as Mr. Harry E. Gibeaut. Mr. Gibeaut was born and reared in Mechanicsville. By hard work and thrift he was able to gain an education, graduating from the local high school and the College of Pharmacy at the University of Iowa. For many years he was cashier of the Helmer and Gortner State Bank. He was always tireless in his efforts to benefit the community and always willing to listen to another's problems and ready to offer advice and assistance.
One of the sons, Frank K. Gleason, told his son, Glen Gleason, about the Indians that camped at the fork of the creek that ran through the farm now owned by the George Browns. The Indians got the measles one year; they became overheated in the teepees and jumped in the creek to cool off. Many of them died as a result of the sudden chilling.
Glen also recalls the first telephone in Mechanicsville. It was in the drugstore. If anyone in the town received a call, everyone came to listen to the conversation. There was only one wire strung on the poles and it was often knocked out by electrical storms until someone thought of putting a spare wire above the one in use to catch the lightning.
Myron Gleason died in 1893 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery. No descendents are living now in the area. Among the last of the family were Guy Gleason, who died in 1946; Kathryn (Mrs. Alfred Gleason Shilling); and Charles Gleason, Solon.
James Charles High migrated from Indiana to Scott County, Iowa in 1851 with his family of seven. The James Highs were the parents of eight children. (Charles Wilson High was born in Scott County in 1857).
In 1902 the family moved to Jones County line and built the farm home now owned by James High, grandson of Charles W. High. This farm home was the birthplace of Alice Laverne High (Mrs. Peter Klimek).
Charles and Anginline High continued to farm the home place until 1911 when they moved to Mechanicsville. Here Charles and his son, Julius, operated a grocery store in Mechanicsville for three years. In 1920 they razed the old Boozer Photography
Eda Bernadeen Helme, a resident of Mechanicsville for over 25 years, was born in Cedar Rapids in the early 1890's and now in her 80's she is residing at the Nursing Home in Clarence, Iowa. She is quite mentally alert and still carries on a rather regular correspondence with friends and relatives.
In 1917 Miss Helme answered the call of our country and in December of that year she was on her way across the Atlantic with a group of doctors and nurses from Grand Rapids. The ocean crossing took 21 days and they landed in Liverpool, England. From there they were transferred to France where she served in Evacuation Hospital No. 5. This was a TENT hospital, not far behind the front lines. She has many interesting stories of her experiences. The group returned to the United States in May, 1919.
Following her service in France Miss Helme returned to her wok in Grand Rapids, but in the spring of 1928, while serving as a Registered Nurse for the Board of Education, she offered to drive a little boy home from his doctor's office. The little boy was ill with what was later discovered to be poliomyelitis and Miss Helme was also stricken with the dread disease a short time later. She was left an invalid and since then has been unable to carry on in her chosen profession.
Miss Helme's grandparents were pioneers in Cedar County, Iowa. Her mother, Amelia Emily Rate, married in 1882 to Ezra A. Helme of Shabbona, Dekalb County, Il was born Feb. 27, 1857, the first of five children of Mr. and Mrs. Edward F. Rate on their farm near Buchanan. Mr. and Mrs. Rate also raised several foster children. Mr. Rater emigrated from London, England and settled in Iowa before the State joined the Union in December, 1846.
grew so that it was found necessary to move to Iowa City were he established the E.F. Rate & Sons glove factory. Many Iowa City people were employed there and the firm was represented by outside salesmen. Women's gloves were also added to their line of products.
Mr. and Mrs. Rate, as well as their daughter and husband, Mr. and Mrs. Helme, enjoyed long and full lives, each of the succumbing well after reaching their 80th birthday. And the farm south of Buchanan is still in the hands of a Rate descendent. (Presented by Eloise Helme McLaughlin, niece of Eda B. Helme)
Richard Jackson, Jr. was born February 24, 1863 at Rock Island, Illinois, the son of Richard and Nancy Jackson. The Jackson family moved to Fremont Township, Cedar County, Iowa in 1865. He had three sisters Mary (Mrs. George Davidson), Jennie (Mrs. William J. Dallas) and Martha (Mrs. Joe Davidson). He had two brothers, Will and John. All are now deceased.
Richard Jackson, Jr. was married to Margaret Crystal Mois, March 23, 1892 and started farming in Fremont Township. Here they established their home until 1896 when they moved to Linn Township south of Mechanicsville where they spent most of their lives. Richard and Margaret Jackson were the parents of fiver children: Bertha (Mrs. Gover McNee), Allen D., Mina Mae (Mrs. Rudolph McNee), Nancy Ann (Mrs. Glen McKibben), and Harry Richard. Richard Jackson, Jr. was a member of the Presbyterian Church where he served as an Elder for many years. One of the surviving grandsons, Roland McNee, continues to farm in the Mechanicsville area.
John T. Johnson and Susan Mowery were married March, 1858 and lived on their homestead two and a half miles south of Mechanicsville until Mr. Johnson passed away in November, 1896. They were the parents of a. daughter, Artaresa Johnson Miller, and five sons: Albert, Wilson, Oliver, Frank and James and a son who died in infancy. Mrs. Johnson continued to live on the farm with her youngest son, James until 1898 when he married Cora A. Wagaman. In that year she established her home in Tipton where she lived until her death in 1914.
Mr. and Mrs. Forest Shrope were the parents of three daughters: Margaret (Mrs. Robert Tonne), Jean (Mrs. Don Davidson), and Marie (Mrs. James Phillips, deceased). There are five grandchildren: Mrs. Kathryn Tonne Lamont, Merle and Lyle Tonne, Mary Jo Davidson and Jeff Phillips, and two great-grandchildren: John and Chris Lamont.
O.B. Judd came to Mechanicsville in 1864 from the area of Cleveland, Ohio. He purchased what is now known as the Gortner farm, which lays south of the railroad tracks, and which included that portion of southeast Mechanicsville which is south of East First Street.
He built a small house on the farm, and then returned to Ohio, and the following year he returned to Iowa bringing with him his wife and five children. He engaged in farming and later acquired extensive land holdings in northwestern Iowa.
Martin Kahler, father of Charles B. Kahler, came to the Mechanicsville area at the close of the Civil War. He had enlisted in the Union Army, the 115th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, at the age of 19. He came to Iowa because relatives of his deceased mother, the Krumroy family, had settled in the Mechanicsville community.
In the late 1860’s he married Sarah Edith McKay, daughter of Rachel and David McKay. The McKays had come to Mechanicsville from Ohio and settled in the Pioneer Grove settlement in 1853. David McKay was a minister in the Methodist church, riding circuit to preach. He was killed by a threshing machine in 1856. One son enlisted in the Iowa Volunteer Infantry from Mechanicsville during the Civil War and died of disease contracted in the army.
Martin Kahler and his wife, Sarah E. McKay Kahler, moved to the farm north of Mechanicsville in 1874. The farm is still owned by his descendants. Their three children were Charles B., Clara E. Kahler Risley, and Ray.
Charles B. Kahler was born in 1870 and died in 1955. He spent his entire life of 85 years in and near Mechanicsville. He married Dora H. Smith on Jan. 25, 1910. Dora Smith’s father, Charles C. Smith and mother, Mary Johnson Smith, were from pioneer families, both of whom arrived in Cedar County in 1854. Mrs. Dora Kahler died in 1969 at the age of 91.
Mr. Kahler was educated in rural schools near Mechanicsville and graduated with one of the first classes. He often told of clearing trees and brush from the fields with axes and teams of horses, and of fencing fields with “stake and rider” log fencing or by planting hedge (Osage orange) fences. He also told of the Indians who traveled each summer to camp on the banks of Pioneer Creek. They hunted roots and berries in the timber and begged produce from the settlers. Rattlesnakes, wolves and prairie chickens were a common sight in those pioneer times. He would also point out traces of an old wagon road crossing a timber pasture and continuing on into neighboring fields and tell of the night settlers fled down the road toward Mechanicsville to escape the devastation of a tornado that had swept through the White Oak community. As a young man, he had often joined ice skating parties on the mill pond north of Mechanicsville.
Charles and Dora Kahler were the parents of twin daughters who died in infancy and another daughter, Adria (Mrs. Leon Ralston), who received her education in the Mechanicsville schools, graduating with the class of 1933. She was married to Leon D. Ralston in 1942. Leon Ralston’s maternal grandparents, August (Gus) Pieper and Mollie Cameron Pieper, were descendants of pioneer Cedar County families. The Ralston’s have two children, Lynn (Mrs. Duane Mesnard) and L. Derell, both of whom were born while the family resided north of Mechanicsville.
Thomas McAllister was nearly 30 years old when he established his home in Iowa. He bought 160 acres of prairie land on which he built one of the first brick farm houses in the country. The bricks for this house were fired in his own kiln located near his home. It was to this house that the pioneer Catholics came to worship on horseback, by wagon, on foot and on a crude handcart that traveled on the newly laid railroad tracks.
Thomas and Elizabeth McAllister had seven children: John, Bernard, Mary, Nancy, Elizabeth, James and Agnes, who was adopted at the age of 11. Agnes married Lewis E. Hudachek and they became the parents of two children, John and Mary. Mr. and Mrs. Hudachek lived on the McAllister farm until 1964 when they moved out of state. Mrs. Agnes Hudachek died in 1968.
Adam Krumroy, the son of Francis Krumroy, was born July 4, 1847 in Sumner County, Ohio. During the mid 1870’s he left his home state and came to Iowa, settling on a farm four miles north of Mechanicsville, now known as the Gorman Robinson farm.
Mrs. Lydia Krumroy was born Aug. 2, 1856, the daughter of William and Hannah Kohl. Adam and Lydia Krumroy were members of the Mechanicsville Methodist church. Mr. Krumroy was one of the organizers of the Mechanicsville Trust and Savings Bank.
They were the parents of five daughters and three sons, all deceased: Clemma (Mrs. Bert Humbert), Ida (Mrs. Joe Kohl), Gertie (Mrs. Dave Minish), Grace (Mrs. Ira Hempy), Pearl (Mrs. Arthur Vanderbilt), Frank, Edward and Kenneth Krumroy.
John E. McKibben was united in marriage to Anna Louise Cook, Jan. 13, 1892 and they farmed the family homestead for a few years. Two children were born there: a daughter, who died in infancy, and a son, Glen Ezekiel McKibben. The John McKibbens moved to their farm in Linn Township southeast of Mechanicsville where they farmed until 1926 when they moved to Mechanicsville.
Alexander Moffit was born April 24, 1829 near Ballinmallard, County Tyronne, northern Ireland, the youngest of ten children. Older sons of the family came to America in 1828 and one of them, Andrew, came to Cedar County in 1838. He was so impressed with the country that he wrote his father, then fi5 years old, to sell the family holding of 13 acres in Ireland and come to Iowa.
The elder Moffits and six of their younger children started the journey early in 1840. They came by ship to Philadelphia, Pa.; by wagon and canal boat to Pittsburgh, then down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi to Muscatine where they arrived nine months and 18 days after leaving Ireland. The family located south of Mechanicsville near Mason Grove in Linn Township.
In April, 1852, Alexander and his brother, Francis, set out for California with a covered wagon, six oxen, two milk cows and a pony. Alexander returned by the Isthmus of Panama only to make a second journey to California before settling in Cedar County. He bought his first land in 1858, paying $1,061 for 157 acres. Other purchases listed in the family records are 80 acres bought for $640 in 1864; another 80 acres in 1869, costing $1,800. By 1869 he owned 960 acres.
In 1880, Mr. Moffit purchased his first purebred Hereford, the bull, Curly 6070. He was so pleased that in 1882 he paid $3,000 for four imported cows and $800 for an imported bull, purchased from Badwell and Burleigh, an importing firm. After Alexander’s death, two of the sons, Albert and Edwin, continued the Hereford breeding. Both died in 1941 and the herd was dispersed Dec.29 and 30, 1942.
On Monday, Sept. 20, 1909, Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Moffit celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary. It was planned by their eight children, John T. Moffit, Tipton, Iowa; Cassius C. Moffit of Brewster, Minn., who later returned to Mechanicsville to farm; William A.; Albert H. Edwin B; Lulu Moffit; Martha J. Stookey of Mechanicsville; and Mary L. Reeder of Tipton.
Alexander Moffit maintained a lifelong interest in public affairs. Politically he was a Republican; he held various township and school offices; was a member of the Cedar County Board of Supervisors; and was a member of the States’ 16th General Assembly. He was an active member of the Presbyterian church of Mechanicsville.
In 1867, a brick home was built about one half mile east of Highland Crossing. The brick for the home was brought from Muscatine. In 1968 Mr. and Mrs. Alan Weets bought the land and the buildings. Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Smay and Mr. and Mrs. Forest Moffit, grandchildren of Mr. Moffit, still own and farm some of the original land.
Although Mr. and Mrs. Maurer were not born in Mechanicsville, no one had more interest in the activities and history of Mechanicsville. With the help of Mr. Maurer, Mrs. Maurer kept a scrap book of the two for over 50 years. A good deal of the information which appears in the centennial history came from this scrap book, thanks to the Maurer’s.
Duane Kohl was born near Reading, Pa., on July 21, 1853. He was the son of William and Hannah Fetterling Kohl, both natives of Pennsylvania. The father, a farmer, was engaged in agricultural pursuits in the Keystone State until 1855. Attracted by the advantages offered by the West, he became a resident of Iowa, locating in Jones County. There he purchased a farm of 165 acres upon which stood a log house and a log stable. He became prosperous in his undertaking and continued activity in agriculture until he died June 3, 1901.
On June 3, 1860 all of the buildings on his farm were blown away by a tornado; although no lives were lost, Duane and his father were badly injured. The family of Mr. and Mrs. William Kohl consisted of 13 children, seven sons and six daughters. Three sons enlisted for service in the Civil War. Duane attended country school and assisted his father in farming.
On Dec. 22, 1875, Duane Kohl married Laura Scott. After his marriage he continued to farm until Feb. 20, 1900. He then moved to Mechanicsville where for four years he bought and shipped stock. For one year he was in the restaurant business. He then engaged in a business venture dealing in poultry, butter and eggs while he continued to manage his farm. He became one of the organizers of the Mechanicsville Savings Bank, and one of the promoters of the Mechanicsville Telephone Company, of which he was a stockholder.
Four sons and one daughter were born to Mr. and Mrs. Kohl: Oscar, who was a businessman in Clinton, father of Albro and Hazel; Joseph, who was a farmer; Thomas also a farmer and father of Glen; Alvin, who was a druggist and pharmacist, and father of Harrison; and Mae Staab, who had a daughter, Mary.
A few interesting experiences happened to Laura Kohl. She fell in a cistern while living in her home where her daughter, the late Mae Staab Hatcher, lived. The cistern was behind a small house where the John Jackson’s lived as neighbors. The house was located where the Methodist Sunday School building stands. It is believed she was rescued by firemen and recovered after being given a drink of whiskey.
One other time she was struck down while crossing the street to visit a friend. The driver of the vehicle turned out to be a preacher from Clinton. He said, “I am pleased to meet you.” Laura replied, “I’m not glad to meet you!”
When she was 77 years old, Mrs. Kohl presented a quilt to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The flag quilt with all the stars and stripes of the American flag was pieced together with hundreds of tiny stitches. The President received it on his 53rd birthday. Laura received a note of thanks from his private secretary, M. A. Lehand, saying he was delighted to accept the quilt, and more than grateful for the spirit which prompted her to send it.
One of our early pioneer families was that of Duncan McNee. As a boy of 12 he had journeyed with his parents from Perth, Scotland to Perth, New Brunswick, Canada. At the age of 33 a married man (Catharine McIntyre) he started westward into the United States.
In the spring of 1837 he walked to Davenport, Iowa, and up the Old Indian Trail to Section Two, Linn Township, Cedar County. Here he made a homestead claim. He had wanted to locate near Cedar Bluffs, but there were too many Indians in that area and he was afraid they might steal from him.
He returned to Perth and in the fall was joined by his two brothers and their wives for the journey by covered wagon to establish homes here. Descendants Rudolph and Roland McNee are in possession of two wooden chests which traveled to Iowa in that covered wagon.
The families weathered the Iowa winter until log cabins were built. One of the brothers, Daniel McNee, moved to Fremont Township where they bought land. The other brother moved northwest of Davenport. Sometime before 1849 William S. Rate built a rock house for Duncan McNee from stone hauled from the Cedar Valley and Wallick quarries. This house remains on the farm owned by Roland McNee, great grandson of Duncan McNee, and now occupied by the Paul Kirstein family. Duncan McNee raised five children on this farm: Finly, John, Peter, Marjory and Margaret.
Peter purchased a 160 acre farm in 1873 and in 1875 was married to Lavina Rate. Five children were born to this marriage: Maggie, Ida, Grover, Harry and Rudolph. The sole survivor is Rudolph McNee who lives south of Mechanicsville. He was married to Mina Jackson now deceased and they were the parents of 2 children, Opal, New York City and Roland who farms the home place.
In the year 1897 a thief broke into the house while the Peter McNee family was at the Cedar County Fair in Tipton and stole $800 of their life savings. Again, in the year 1936 a thief entered the same house occupied by the Rudolph McNee family while they were attending the Cedar County Fair.
On occasion, Indians would come to the McNee home, three wagon loads at a time and beg for food, up to the turn of the century. When given eggs and loaves of home baked bread they would peacefully leave.
J. W. Thomas was born in 1827 in the state of Ohio. In 1856 ‘he moved to Iowa, settling in Mechanicsville in 1865. He married Rebecca Tidrick in 1852. They had seven children: Maggie L., Mary E., William A., Harvey P., and Abbie J.; two died, Johnathan E. and Joseph A. Of these children, William A. took charge of the farm and remained in Mechanicsville. In 1887 he married Fannie Hawthorne and to them was born four children: Merrill H., Elizabeth M., William G. and Jonathan P.
Jonathan P. (Paul) married Frances Angell in 1920 and to them were born three daughters: Bettie (Mrs. Jerry Hedin, Hawaii), Dorothy (Mrs. George Auld, Minnesota), and Marilyn (Mrs. Ray Jewell, Mechanicsville). Merrill, a bachelor, lived with the Paul Thomas family and they continued the farm operations. In 1960 the Thomas’ retired and moved to town and the farm was sold to Kenneth Montz in 1965.
Paul died in 1965; earlier that same year Frances suffered a paralytic stroke and spent her final years in a nursing home in Marion, Iowa, until her death in 1972. These circumstances left Merrill alone, so in 1968 Mr. and Mrs. Ray Jewell and sons, Thomas Ray and James Paul moved to the Thomas home and took care of Merrill until his death in 1970.
As an adventurous young man, he went as a Second Lieutenant with General William Wallsen’s ill-fated expeditionary force to Nicaragua. It was there that he contracted yellow fever and was nursed back to health by a native boy.
After the War, he moved to St. Louis where he met and married an Iowan. It was through his wife’s influence that he was persuaded to return to Iowa and to Mechanicsville, where he established a home about 1870. He entered local business, starting the W.C. Page Bank which was located in a small building just west of what is now Cook’s Hardware. He later sold his banking interest to Helmer and Gortner.
In 1895 he married Miss Alice Furman, and together they operated the hotel whose clientele consisted mainly of traveling salesmen. It was a popular stopping place for traveling men until the advent of the automobile and paved roads. Mrs. Page’s meals, especially Sunday dinners, attracted many people to the hotel.
Cass Platner, born August 2, 1856 in a log cabin married Margaret Jane Ellison, a granddaughter of Pryor Scott, one of the pioneer settlers of Pioneer Grove. Margaret Jane was born February 11, 1864. Cass was the son of Henry Clay Platner (1835-1916) and Mary Caroline Ringer (1835-1899). After the marriage of Cass and Margaret Jane on February 21, 1883, they soon settled in the Pioneer Grove area on the farm where the Robert Ross family live.
Mary was born August 24, 1884 and married John Fry on January 28, 1914. John was born April 19, 1882 and they spent their married life in the Mechanicsville area. They had no children. Mary died November 30, 1973 and John, on September 8, 1956.
Howard Ellison Platner was born July 20, 1886 and married Hazel Miller February 21, 1918. Hazel was born February 21, 1890, daughter of George E. Miller and Emma Easterly Miller of Lisbon, Iowa. They were the parents of four children and spent their married lives on the farm where Herbert Platner now lives.
Edith Jeanette Platner married Donald E. Puffer of Mechanicsville on April 21, 1942 and they are the parents of two sons. Phillip L. of Mechanicsville married Jacquelyn Ann Colton and they are the parents of two sons, Wade and Matthew. Steven, of Coralville, married Jacqueline K. Wilson and they have two sons, Craig Steven and Aaron Michael.
Mildred Arlene Platner married James Robert Ross of Mechanicsville on June 14, 1943 and they are the parents of two daughters, Kaylene, who married Terry Worby March 1, 1975 and Jo Ann Ross, both of Mechanicsville.
Herbert Miller Platner married Genevieve M. Crock of Tipton on August 12, 1950. They are the parents of Gerald H., who married Mary Knapp and live in Defiance, Iowa; Larry D., Diana Kay, Thomas E. and Teresa Ann of Mechanicsville.
Helen Marie Platner married Glen U. Farrington of Mechanicsville August 21, 1948. Their children are Gordon, married to Wanda Tenley, Norman, Elaine and Gloria, and all live in the Mechanicsville area.
In the spring of 1912, Dr. F. M. Wilson came to Mechanicsville to practice veterinary medicine. Previously he had graduated from the Walker High School and the Chicago Veterinary College and had taught two terms of country school.
The first two years of his practice were quite difficult in comparison with modern day practice. His means of transportation were horses and buggy and the country roads of today. He covered a rather large territory and his work varied from handling a ton animal to trimming the beak of a parakeet.
Besides his practice he found time for public service, serving one term as mayor, several terms on the town council, 13 years on the local school board and six years on the County Board of Education. He also served as a director of the Mechanicsville Telephone Co. and for some years was President of that company.
He returned home in 1919 and resumed his practice. He was active in the organization of the American Legion Post in Mechanicsville and was its second commander. Dr. Wilson practiced his profession for 62 years in the Mechanicsville Community. He was interested in veterinary association work, and was president of the Eastern Iowa Veterinary Association in 1931 and of the State Association in 1939. He also served on the Executive Board of the A.V.M.A. and was on the board of State
William S Rate came to Linn Township in Cedar County in 1867. He was born in England in 1821 and came to the United States with his father when he was 12 years old where they made their home in New York and Pennsylvania.
Later he bought 160 acres of prairie land in Linn Township, built a house and several other buildings, and moved his family here in 1867. He continued to improve the farm, planting a thousand fruit, nut and shade trees to form a grove around the farm buildings.
Mr. Rate was a stone cutter by trade and would walk to Muscatine on Monday morning, work there all week and return home Saturday. He cut stone for the first capital building in Iowa City, a church in Muscatine and for the farm house on the late Grover McNee farm now owned by Roland McNee and tenanted by the Paul Kirstein’s.
Mr. Rate died in 1906 and his wife and daughters, Selena and Esther, ran the farm until 1921. Then, at the request of his mother, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Rate and family moved to the farm home. Fred Rate died in 1954; since that time his daughter, Pauline, her husband, Lester, and son Allen, have been farming the place. The Fred Rate daughters, Pauline (Mrs. Lester Achenbach) and Nona Rate inherited the farm at his death.
Mr. and Mrs. William S. Rate were the parents of twelve children, and many of their descendants still live in this community. Some of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren include Rudolph McNee, Roland McNee, and Edward Jack. Forest Shrope, Mrs. Robert Kramer, Mrs. Clarence Miller, Howard Stork, Nona Rate and Mrs. Lester Achenbach.
Germany was the place of origin of the Puffer family. The first Puffer descendants settled in Boston and New Hampshire and from there they branched out to St. Louis, Missouri and then north into Iowa.
Charles Puffer was the first of the family to live in Mechanicsville. He came to Iowa in 1843 from New Hampshire and settled with his brother on a farm north of Mt. Vernon. Wood from his timber was donated to erect the first building of Cornell College. In 1847 he married Abigail Comstock and they established their home on the farm known as the Puffer Homestead located in Pioneer Township two and one-half miles southwest of Mechanicsville. A country school was built on the northwest corner of the homestead and children of the family were educated here until consolidation went into effect.
Ray married Chloie Brock and they farmed west of Mechanicsville until the time of their retirement. They became the parents of two children, Mildred and Raymond. Mildred was married to Lloyd Kohl and they were parents of three children: Delmar, married to Marilyn Blood - their children, Samuel, Daniel, Anna Marie, Andrew, Nathaniel and Jacob; Marilyn, married Rev. John Crawford - their children, Steven, Linda and Nancy; and Audrey, married to Dwayne Christensen - their children, Denise and David. Raymond married Helen Slater, their children: Kaylene, married to Francis Massaro - one son, Michael; Douglas, married to Iris Carr - one daughter, Heather Dawn.
Everette was married to Grace Kohl in 1905 and they lived in the house then located near the creek on the homestead. In 1913 they built the present home, and the older structure was moved north of this residence. They were the parents of three children:: Mary, Julia, and Donald.
Mary was married to George Brown, parents of Douglas, married to Patricia Lidrich, parents of Lisa and Beverly; Max, married to Sally Ahrens, parents of Valerie, Chris and Eric; Roger; David; Joel; Nancy, married to Larry Durnam, parents of Brian; and Robert, married to Dixie Davis, parents of Jennifer.
Julia was married to Edward Jack, parents of: Patricia, married to Charles Coon, parents of Arminda, Timothy and Jason; Susan, married to Robert Sullivan, parents of Rodney, Sara and Andrew; Barbara; Michael, married to Gail Wolrab, parents of Tasha and Zachary.
Fourth Generation of Puffers to live on the homestead is the present occupants, Donald and Edith Platner Puffer. They are the parents of two sons: Phillip married to Jacquelyn Colton, parents of Wade and Matthew; and Steven, married to Jacqueline Wilson, parents of Craig and Aaron.
Samuel Gilliland came to Cedar County in 1836 as one of the early settlers. In 1839 he entered a claim in Pioneer Township and in that community he spent his entire life. He was married to Julie Comstock and they set up housekeeping in a log cabin. He was a staunch Methodist, becoming a member of the church in 1843 and he was an active member of the church in Mechanicsville. Mr. Gilliland passed away in January, 1911 at the age of 97.
Dan Gilliland, son of Samuel Gilliland, lived in Mechanicsville and owned the "Electric Light Distributing System" know as the Gilliland Electric Co. The electric plant was operated on the Gilliland property, now owned by his granddaughter, Mrs. Alberta Krumroy. Dan Gilliland married Florence Brogan and they had three children, Haven Gilliland, Ethel Gilliland Norris and Maude Gilliland Stoffel.
After Mr. Gilliland's death, the management of the electric plant was continued by his son, Haven. He entered the armed services in 1916 and at that time Mr. Gilliland's son-in-law, Clarence Norris, leased the electric plant, later purchasing it and in 1934 he sold it to the Iowa Railway and Light Company.
John Onstott, one of the pioneers from Ohio, was interested in getting a town started and with a Mr. D. Comstock invested in small plots of ground which they sold to those who wished to stay here and establish homes. Mr. Onstott had two sons, Jacob Henry and John. Jacob Henry remained here and John moved on to Nebraska where he lived the remainder of his life.
Peter Onstott also came here in 1851 with his wife, Emily E. Gibeaut, and a growing family. He acquired 800 acres of land southeast of Mechanicsville. They had nine children, but when an epidemic of scarlet fever hit the country, some of the children died. The five remaining brothers were: Jacob L., Peter, John, Charles and Elmer.
As each son married, the parents gave each a homestead of 120 acres, reserving 200 acres for themselves. At one time, there were 27 children belonging to these five brothers. The brothers built a school house on one corner of Charles Onstott's land and it was called "the Onstott School." All the children for several miles around also came to this school. Harry Gibeaut taught in this school for several years and lived with the J.L. Onstott family.
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania was the homestead territory of David and Edwin Rhoads. In the 1850's the two ventured west. They went as far as the Pike's Peak region of the Rocky Mountains, but deciding not to settle, they joined a wagon train returning east. Along the way, they heard about a building under construction on the Cornell College campus at Mt. Vernon, and since David was a bricklayer by trade, they decided to head for Iowa. He helped in the construction of the first college building, a chapel, erected on the Cornell campus.
They settled in the area south of Mechanicsville in 1856; Edwin on the farm now owned by Delmar Kohl, and David on the farm now owned by P.K. and Inez Pearson. Their first "home" was a barn they built on the Edwin Rhoads farm. This barn is still standing after these many years. David Rhoads built a two story home on the farm and this home is now in its fifth generation of inhabitants. David's son, Eugene, was born in this house in 1879; his daughter Inez Pearson lived in it; and her son, Donald and his three children, Cynthia, Dennis and Craig now make their home in the original house, five generations!
Forest married Dorothy Hamilton and they had three daughters: Mary Jean (Mrs. William Penningroth), Miriam (Mrs. Gene Heneks) and Margaret Ann, deceased. Mary Jean has two children, Bruce and Lynn. Miriam has two sons, William and Robert. The Mechanicsville vicinity is home for Mr. and Mrs. Forest Rhoads, his children and his grandchildren.
Eugene Rhoads was married to Amanda Spencer and they had one daughter, Inez. Inez married P.K. Pearson and they have one son, Donald R. who married Jo Ann Thumma. Donald has three children: Cynthia, Dennis and Craig.
Donald R. Married Helen Stanerson and they are the parents of four children: Donald, Cedar Rapids; Glenn, Davenport; Alvin, Ankeny; and Marilyn, Ankeny. Donald Overbaugh resides on the farm also owned by his grandfather, David Rhoads.
Louis and Hannah Sievers came to Jones County where they lived until 1855, when they moved to Pioneer Township in Cedar County. They were the parents of five children: Minnie (Mrs. Fred Frey), Emma (Mrs. Charles Shrope), Caroline (Mrs. Ira Ketring), Mary and Henry.
Henry Sievers remained in his parent's home and farmed the home place until his retirement. He died of injuries received when he was struck by a car in December, 1943 in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he was spending the winter.
He was born November 4, 1798. As a young man, he moved to Scioto County, Ohio and from there to Indiana. He returned to Ohio where he was married to Ruth Caraway in 1825. The newlyweds then moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana. In the spring of 1837 they decided to move westward. Crossing the Mississippi at what is now Muscatine, and then overland by covered wagon, they settled on a pleasant ridge in the timber of Pioneer Grove. That land is now owned and occupied by the Robert Ross family, direct descendants of Pryor Scott.
On this homestead, Pryor and Ruth Scott reared six of their children. Their first home was log cabin, and their water came from a spring located along the ridge south about 340 rods away. The Scotts had a neighbor about three quarters of a mile to the southeast, Abner Stebbins, who settled in 1836 on land where Robert Holladay now lives. It is on this farm that the first cemetery in Pioneer Grove was started and still remains today.
The land for the original schoolhouse was given by Pryor Scott, and that first school still stands. It is located on the Wilbur Colby farm occupied by Douglas Willey. Three generations of the Scott family attended this school.
In 1837, Iowa was a territory under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Wisconsin, Henry Dodge. Governor Dodge appointed Mr. Scott a Colonel in the territorial militia. From that time on, Pryor Scott was known as Colonel.
So ardent a Democrat was he, that he named two of his sons after Democratic Presidents, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. His political activities were by no means limited to naming his sons after presidents. Pryor Scott served in the Iowa State Legislature.
The Scott children were: Margaret born 1826 married J. Samuel Fairly, and after his death married Bill Albaugh; Mary born 1827, married Samuel Ellison; Jan born 1829 died in 1832; Joseph born 1831, married Margaret Boyles; Henry born 1832, married Mariah Todd; Martha F. born 1834, married Squire Mackey; James P. born 1836; Rachel born 1838; Martin Van Buren born 1840, married Sarah Owens; Andrew Jackson born 1845; and Ruth born 1848 married Joseph Owens.
At one time, Mr. Scott owned approximately 1,000 acres of land. Some of the original land Mr. Scott acquired from the government has continued to be owned by his descendants. He gave each of his sons and one daughter a farm, all approximately three to five miles northwest of Mechanicsville.
Mrs. Ruth Scott died in 1874 after 50 years of marriage. In 1875, Mr. Scott married Mary Ruble. To this union were born two children, Notley and Grace. Thus in two generations, these two men, Pryor Scott, born in 1798 and his son Notley Scott, born in 1878 bridged the historical periods from the administration of John Adams to that of the late Lyndon B. Johnson, before Notley died in September, 1965. In fact, when Pryor Scott was born, George Washington was still alive, although no longer President. Pryor Scott died in 1888 in his 90th year and is buried in Rose Hill cemetery. Mrs. Mary Ruble Scott died in 1928.
Martin Van Buren Scott, known as "Van," was born Nov. 6, 1840, the son of Pryor and Ruth Caraway Scott. He married Sarah Owens in 1868 and they lived on a farm three miles northwest of Mechanicsville, which his father gave him and which the elder Scott had secured from the government. They later moved into Mechanicsville, the farm remaining in the family. The Vern Svoboda family now lives on the farm. Mrs. Svoboda is a great granddaughter of Van Scott.
Sara and Van were the parents of six children: Walter (1894-1950), who married Anna McQuowen, had one child, Alma, now Mrs. Harold G. Davis of Durant, Iowa; Irene (1893-1943) who married Mort Hatcher; Marth F. (1876-1880); Linns R. (1879-1880); Zella M. (1879-1903); and Mary Caraway (1871-1945), who married John A. Clifton.
They were the parents of three children: Hope and Van Arthur; both died in infancy; and John Merle of Mechanicsville. Merle married Violet Hempy in 1928 and their children are: Alberta of Mechanicsville, who married Vern Svoboda, their children being Wayne, Joy and Sallly; Verla of Cedar Rapids, who married Gerald R. Pollock, their children being Anne and John; Patricia of Pittsburgh, Pa., who married James McGlasson, their children being Laura and Robert.
In August, 1862, William R. Robinson enlisted with the Union in the civil War, Company H, 35th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and was involved in eighteen engagements, including Vicksburg. During this period of conflict, he was neither wounded nor hospitalized.
After being honorably discharged in 1865, he settled in Greenfield Township. In 1870, he married Luzetta Piper, who was born near Fort Wayne, Indiana, Sept. 28, 1850. Their family consisted of seven daughters and four sons.
One son, William married Edith Ilsley, and they made their home on the Robinson family farm. Their family consisted of seven children; Gorman, Corrine (Mrs. Marvin Betcher, Davenport), Narvis, Quentin, Victor, and twins, Calvin and Casper. William Robinson Died on Oct. 14, 1946. His widow, Mrs. Edith Robinson, now 85 years old, lives in Mechanicsville in the Pioneer Terrace Apartments. Besides her six sons and one daughter, she has eighteen grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren.
Joseph Scott was born to Colonel Pryor Scott and Ruth in 1861. They lived on the Scott farm in Greenfield Township located northwest of Mechanicsville, where he spent his entire life. Colonel Pryor Scott gave each of his children a farm. Joseph Scott and Margaret Boyles were united in marriage on Feb. 1, 1855. Nine children were born to this family, these included: Jim, Laura, David, Tom, Ruth, Mary, Margaret, George and Frank; a grandson, Joe Vanderbilt, also made his home with them. A new home was built in 1870 and was destroyed by fire on April 2, 1946. A quaint old windmill was built by Joseph Scott in 1885; up until 1920 when its wooden wheel became so worn it had to be moved, it pumped water daily for the family and livestock and ground feed for the latter. A gasoline engine later was installed and also served as an aerial for a radio.
Jim Scott married Ella Vanderbilt, Hays County, Nebraska. Seven Children were born to this family, Mae, Ella, Will Clay, Glen, Cleave and Blair. Tom Scott married Jessie Vanderbilt; one child, Hallie, was born to this family; David Married Nancy McKibben, Mary married Lou Pfeifer of Johnstown, Nebraska, one daughter, Marguerite, was born to this family; she married a Keefer of Portland, Oregon.
Frank Scott and his sister, Margaret, lived on the home place until moving to Mechanicsville. Margaret met a tragic death when a gas stove exploded. Ruth Scott married John Vanderbilt. Ten children were born to this family, Neva, Joe, Jessie, Herman, Ira, Floyd, Letser, Ray, Arthur and Billy. Jesse Vanderbilt married Will Ferguson and one son Parnell was born to this marriage.
Arthur Vanderbilt married Pearl Krumroy. Neva Vanderbilt married George Ross; three children were born to this family, these included, Robert, Ruth Ann, and Nancy. Robert married Arlene Platner and they had two daughters, Kaylene and Jo Ann; Kaylene married Terry Worby and Ruth Ann married Max Fiala and they have one son, Joey; Nancy married Lloyd Phillip and they had four children, Lisa, Kevin, Craig and Aaron.
Laura Scott married Duane Kohl in 1874. Five children were born to this family; these included Joe, Tom, Alvin, Oscar and Mae. Oscar married Rose Carr and they had one son, Albro and one daughter, Hazel. Albro married Bertha Meyers and they had one daughter, Mary Jane. Mary Jane married Robert Mullan and they had five sons, Steve, John, Pat, Mark and Mike.
George Scott, born Aug. 12, 1865 married Elizabeth Squires, born Nov. 2, 1869. One daughter, Mamie and two sons, Clair and Hurley were born to this family. Mamie Scott married John Thimmes, Jr. and they had one daughter DeLoris. DeLoris Thimmes married Chester R. Shaffer. Clair Scott married Irene Davis and they had one son, John "D". John "D" married Luella Bachus, 3 sons and 1 daughter to this marriage, Stephen, Sammie, Shellie and Sally.
The Thimmes farm located northwest of Mechanicsville has been in the family for 122 years. It was purchased on July 20, 1853 from Pryor Scott by William and Hannah Fetterling Kohl, who had migrated to this area from Reading, PA. Thirteen children were born to this family. Five of the boys served in the military service during the Civil War. On June 30, 1861 the farm buildings, including the log house were destroyed in a great tornado. Two of the Kohl children had narrow escapes as a result of that storm—Martha Jane was only a baby and was found unharmed in her crib under the logs of the destroyed house; Duane was later found in a cherry tree in the farm orchard located nearby. The farm buildings were later rebuilt with much of the lumber being procured in Minnesota, floated down the Mississippi River and transported by wagon to the family farm. The original barn still stands.
In 1880, Martha Jane Kohl and John Thimmes, Sr. who had migrated to the area from Lancaster, Ohio, were united in marriage and moved to the farm which they later purchased from William Kohl on February 22, 1898. Five sons were born to this family: George, Anthony, John Jr., Leo and William. All of the Thimmes children continued to reside in the Mechanicsville area. George and Anthony were unmarried; John Jr. married Mamie Scott and had one daughter, DeLoris; Leo married Maggie Milligan and they had two daughters and three sons, Lola and Verna, Forest, Paul and Merle; William married Ruby Gibson of Onaka, S.D. and they had two daughters and three sons, Marjorie, Getty, Gene, Melvin and Mervin.
Leo and Maggie Thimmes purchased the family farm from John Thimmes, Sr. on March 1, 1920. Paul and Merle Thimmes purchased the home farm in 1957; Merle Thimmes and his wife Doris reside. Their son Tommy, born December 5, 1971 has the distinction of being the fifth generation of the family to live on this farm.
Lola Thimmes married Elmer Bixler had a son David (unmarried), and daughter Sharon (6-13-42). Sharon married Patrick Gutwiler (7-4-60) and had 5 children Michael, Linda, Janet, Kathy and Brian. Michael was married to Rhonda Hegarty and had a son Jessy and daughter Rachel; Linda married Dennis Coppess and had two sons Daniel and Bradley, Janet had a son Jonathan, Kathy married Eugene Kelly who has 2 sons from a previous marriage; and Brian married Michelle who has two daughters from a previous marriage and later divorced.
In 1855 Eli Henry West and some other men came from Ohio to buy land in Iowa. According to the Cedar County court records, Eli Henry West bought 240 acres east of Mechanicsville from Ambrose J. Keith on Sept. 25, 1855 for $7,600. Some of the land lay north of the road and the rest laid south of what is now Highway #30. On this land he built a small house and barn.
He returned to Ohio and the following spring she returned to Iowa with his wife, Sallie, and their six children. Several other Ohio families joined the Wests in the wagon train to Iowa. They brought four covered wagons loaded with furniture, food, and feed for the cattle and seed for their crops.
Sallie West drove her own team of Kentucky thoroughbreds and her own carriage. The team had a silver mounted harness. The two oldest boys rode horses and drove the cattle behind the wagons. It was a hard trip. They sometimes waited three or four days before they could cross swollen creeks and rivers. They arrived in Mechanicsville in the late summer.
The Family lived in the little house until a new school was built. Then Eli bought the old school and moved it with a 12 horse hitch to their farm. He remodeled it and they made it their home. It is presently standing today.
Eli Henry West, Jr. known as "Tanner" was about seven months old when they arrived in Mechanicsville. They lived on the farm until their father died in September, 1896. At that time, the farm was sold and divided among the children.
Eli Henry, Jr., married Nancy Keith and they made their home in Mechanicsville. He trapped and sold hides (which accounts for his nickname) and drilled wells. It was he who drilled the first well in Cedar County. Tanner and his wife, Nancy, had six children, one of whom made his home in Mechanicsville. Charles Henry West, known as "Pete", married Iva Maurer. They had two children: George Donald West, who lives in Mechanicsville; and Nona Splichal, who lives in Cedar Rapids.
Pete's brother, Roy West and his wife, Ruth, also made their home in the Mechanicsville area. Roy was a lineman until age 55 when they bought a farm; later they moved back to Mechanicsville where Ruth resides today.
George D. West was born in Mechanicsville and has lived most of his life here. He married Reva Newhard and they had two children: Donald R. West resides in Mankato, Minn., and Marilyn, who lives in Mechanicsville with her husband, Ronald Skow and their three sons, Ronald, John and David.
Allen James Siver, when a young man of 16 or 17, rode a train from Schnectady, N.Y., heading west. As the train slowed down at Mechanicsville, he leaped off at the Hudachek farm, west of town, and asked for work. He was taken on as a hired man. Later he worked for James Shrope. He saved his money and homesteaded in southern Jones County.
The family of Alice Hannum came west from Ohio in a covered wagon and settled in southern Jones County. She married Thomas Manly and to this union was born 7 children - the 6th girl, Cora Manly; wed Allen Siver on Feb. 26, 1891.
Allen and Cora Siver had 3 sons, James Otis Siver, who lives on a farm in southern Jones County, with Mechanicsville address; Arthur Thomas Siver, now living on the original Manly farm in southern Jones County, and John Allen Siver, deceased.
Descendants of James Otis Siver now living in Mechanicsville are, his son, Floyd Otis Siver; grandsons, David Allen and Howard Eric Siver and great-grand-daughter, Susanne Marie Siver; granddaughter, Janet Siver Taylor, and great-grandchildren, Robert, Clifford, Vicky and Sandra Taylor.
His first case was as a defender of Bob Johnson in famous Jones County Calf Case. "Charley," as he was called, represented Mr. Johnson through the entire litigation which lasted 20 years. The case was tried in seven different counties; was four times appealed in the Iowa Supreme Court entailing fees that amounted to $75,000 for an army of lawyers; and concluded with a final judgment for $1,000 and court costs amounting to $2,886.84.
Mr. Wheeler moved from Mechanicsville to Tipton and later to Cedar Rapids. However, he always retained his love for his hometown, and returned at every opportunity to visit with old friends. He personally made arrangements for his burial and that of his family in the Rose Hill cemetery in Mechanicsville.
The first independent school district for Mechanicsville was set aside in 1853. The one room school was built at what is now the west edge of town by John Onstott. George Whistler was the first public instructor in this school.
In 1866 a lawsuit settled a dispute and the first board of education were elected for Mechanicsville’s first independent school district. E.J. Rigby was selected as principal and Ellen Culver as a teacher in the intermediate department. There was no instruction above the 8th grade. The old Presbyterian Church standing just north of the present school was used for additional classrooms. Mechanicsville’s next school was a two story frame structure which faced south on the present school site. This building now stands on the Forest Johnson farm east of Mechanicsville. The bell was not placed on the building but was situated in a wooden tower near the building with the rope run through the second story windows making it hading for ringing.
During the 1850-1875 the population increased to such an extent that a new and larger facility was needed. A 3 story brick building was erected at a cost of $10,000. The cornerstone from this building was saved and placed in the lower entrance of the present structure. In 1875 the bell was moved from its separate tower and placed in a tower on the roof of this new 3 story building. An interesting feature in the construction of this building was the Mansard roof.
In 1907 the district purchased for playgrounds all ground lying immediately south of the schoolhouse to the railroad for $1,200. In March of 1908 the voters cast their ballots for a new building. Construction began in the spring of 1908 and was ready for use in the fall of that same year. Until the building was ready, primary classes were held in the Methodist church, the city hall house the elementary and upper grades and the high school used rooms over Cranford’s furniture store.
In 1917 a petition was signed by 174 voters stating that territory surrounding the town should be incorporated with the present district. The proposed consolidation was defeated. Three years late the matter was proposed again with territory covered about ˝ as large. This measure passed and the district was consolidated in 1920.
Consolidation brought with it crowded conditions and the 1908 building was no longer adequate. In 1926 an addition was voted at a cost of $64,000. The new addition would contain the gym, auditorium, classrooms and superintendent’s office. The gym is recognized as having a unique floor and in 1926 was one of the best in the state.
In 1952 an additional building was added. This was built across the street east of the regular school building. This housed the vocational agricultural, home economics and music department and provided garage space for the buses.
In 1959 the state department warned that all small schools must increase their enrollment and curriculum or lose their state aid. A steering committee was organized and reorganization plans were studied.
In 1961 it was decided that most feasible plan would be to combine the Mechanicsville and Stanwood schools into one district. This was voted on and passed thus forming the new Lincoln school district. The Mechanicsville center would house grade K through 6th and Stanwood would have grades 7 through 12. Nineteen sixty-one was the last class to graduate from the Mechanicsville school and the beginning of the Lincoln Elementary Center in Mechanicsville.
In 1968 a new art room, library and offices were added to the entrance of the old buildings of 1908 and 1926, with the cornerstones of both buildings left in the walls of the offices on the first floor.
In 1974 it was decided that the tower holding the bell was no longer repairable and this was removed. At present the bell is stored in the school basement. The Alumni Association has appointed a committee to work out a plan to display the bell as a memoriam to the Mechanicsville Education System. The bell has called many of us, our children and grandchildren into the halls of the Mechanicsville School.
Records show that track was the earliest form of competitive school sport. Our school history records many outstanding athletes: Jack Kohl, 1904, broad jump and sprints events; David Walshire, discus throw, hammer throw, shot put and high jump; Carl Thomas, weigh and discus throwing; Leo Miller, 440 and 880 yard dash and mile run; Herbert Andre, pole vault.
In 1907 Clement Wilson and Everett Ferguson attended the national Meet in Chicago. Clement placed first in the 221 yard dash, Everett third in the mile run. In 1912 Clement Wilson was chosen as one of the members of the Olympic team to represent the U.S. in Stockholm, Sweden.
Don Gemberling, coach and high school principal, found the “M” relays, which drew large crowds from many areas in eastern Iowa each spring. Because of the World War II situation it was dropped in 1942.
2016 David L. Furry
The first paving of streets was done in Mechanicsville in 1925. This was Main Street or as is listed on the new map of the town as First Street. Owners of property abutting the street were assessed for their share of the pavement costs.
In 1959 Shive Engineering Company, Cedar Rapids was hired to complete a survey of needed street improvements within the town. They were replaced by Howard R. Greene Company, Cedar Rapids, on April 18, 1960 to complete the street improvement programs. Bids were let in February, 1961 and the low bid of $270,165.31 by the Iowa Road Building Company, Fairmont, Minnesota was accepted.
The town applied for federal funds for assistance in the construction of a sanitary sewer system and sewage construction of a sanitary sewer system and sewage treatment plant in August 1938. The request was denied. On June 5, 1939 a sanitary district for the town was established by Ordinance #46. Storm sewer improvements were let for bids in August. All bids were rejected. On Sept 5, 1940 a bid of $5,039 from the Christensen Construction Co., Cedar Rapids was accepted by the town council. In January of 1950 the system was reviewed and it was decided to purchase a plant site on the northeast edge of town from Mr. and Mrs. John Mulherin in November of that year. The contract was awarded to Fred Eisert Construction Co., Shenandoah for $148,109.