Archive for May, 2012


His Case is a Peculiar One

   Posted by: admin    in Accident, Coal mining, Coalville, Death

The Fort Dodge Messenger: May 31, 1904

His Case is a Peculiar One

A Man With a Broken Back Lives Nearly Two Years – Case of Joel Johnson

The case of Joel Johnson of Coalville, whose death occurred Friday, is one of the most peculiar and sad ever occurring in Webster county.

It will be remembered the unfortunate man was hurt while working in a coal mine in Coalville nearly a year and a half ago. He was buried under a fall of coal and his back was broken just below the points of the shoulder blades. He was brought to the hospital in this city and in the hope of relieving the pressure on the spinal cord, an operation was performed. It was discovered, however, when the incision was made, that the spinal cord had been almost entirely severed. It was thought that man would live but a short time, but a part of the injured vertebra was removed and the patient recovered apparently his health, but of course, not retaining any action or feeling in any of the organs below the region of the injury. Having no relatives he was removed to Coalville, where he was cared for at the expense of the county. He gradually began to grow worse again after his return to Coalville and about six weeks ago became so bad he was brought back t o the hospital in this city, where he remained under the care of the county physician until death.

Previous articles:

Is Paralyzed From Waist Down

Juel Johnson in Sad Plight

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Decoration Day 1878

   Posted by: admin    in Holidays, Organizations

The Gazette and Messenger: May 24, 1878

(Editor’s note: The Gazette and Messenger didn’t print on Memorial Day.)

Decoration Day

This day which, as much as any other should be fitly observed, comes about next Thursday. No action toward a general celebration of the day has yet been taken though it needs only a little effort in the way of organization to make the day a grand success. The “Daughters of Rebecca” – bless them, were the first to speak and voted that they should celebrate whether any one else did or not. The Odd Fellows at their lodge meeting this week decided to turn out as a boyd. The guards will probably do likewise. All that is necessary is to have some system and organization about it and all will go off smoothly. A meeting should be called and committees appointed.



Incredible progress

   Posted by: admin    in 1940 Census

In one day, the progress of the 1940 census for Iowa has gone from 63 percent to 78 percent.

That’s awesome!

Illinois is 26 percent, but the population was so much greater than Iowa that we should consider that significant, as well.

Time for me to do more indexing. I can hardly wait for Iowa to join the list of states that has been fully indexed and searchable.

If you’d like to join the indexing project, go here to download and install the software, then follow the instructions. Video training is available, or you can contact a local family history center for help.


Update on 1940 Census

   Posted by: admin    in 1940 Census

Indexing efforts are moving right along. Iowa is currently at 63% indexed, while Illinois is 25% indexed. Those are the two most urgent states for me.

Iowa progress:

Illinois progress:

So things are getting closer for Iowa. I’ll probably start working on Illinois indexing next. I’d like to find my mom’s family, which was probably living in Chicago at the time.



   Posted by: admin    in Family history

The first mission of this blog is to share Fort Dodge history.

The second mission is to share family history.

For me, personally, those missions are intertwined. Many of my ancestors lived in Fort Dodge –¬† there has been an ancestor or relative of mine living in Webster County since 1880, when William and Lydia Burrell brought their family here from Wisconsin. It’s possible that some of Lydia’s family had been here prior to that – it’s one of the mysteries to be discovered.

So when I found out about WikiTree, I quickly got an invitation and joined. You can’t just sign up – you have to be invited.

There are many styles of family trees available Рsome like the one above that show several generations Рthere are also more vertical formats. Some have images behind the names, such a maps of different areas or photos of places. The image below is what the trees look  like when you are working on them:

At this point, I need to add my photo (if you see the photo that means I’ve added it since). And I’ve got more names to add.

One thing you should do if you join (and you can ask me for an invitation by email at ) is read carefully and sign (electronically) the Wiki Genealogist Honor Code. It has nine requirements, and you should understand and agree with them before you add to the wiki.

The cool thing (well, one of many cool things) is that eventually one of the people you add will be the same as somebody else’s person. That means you get access to names of people that perhaps you didn’t know about before.

And to a genealogist or family history researcher, that is so exciting.

I went into this with the plan to create more detailed profiles than simply names, dates and places. So I’m including pictures where I have them, and anecdotes about the people whenever possible.

It truly is a great time to be a genealogist.


Family photos

   Posted by: admin    in People

Things are a little hectic in the editor’s household lately. The family will be moving soon, but we haven’t found a place yet. However, life goes on.

In lieu of the regular article today, I am posting some photos of my great-grandparents, who lived in Fort Dodge. They are Walter and Augusta Burrell. I can’t identify all of the other people in the photos, but it’s still a good look back at the town and the people who lived there.

Augusta died in 1949 and Walter died in 1954, so the photos are mostly 1940s.


Picture 1 of 91



To Ride to World’s Fair

   Posted by: admin    in Uncategorized

The Fort Dodge Messenger: May 25, 1904

To Ride to World’s Fair

Arthur Flint to Make Trip on Motorcycle

Machine Has Average Speed of 15 Miles Per Hour – Rides to Humboldt

Arthur Flint, of the Laughlin-Flint grocery, has purchased a new Rambler motorcycle and intends a little later to make a trip to the St. Louis World’s Fair on the machine. He hopes to make the trip at the rate of 150 miles per day and will count on arriving in the Missouri metropolis in about two and one half to three days.

As an experimental trip over rough roads he went to Humboldt and back Tuesday, making the round trip in one hour and forty minutes. He made the trip up in fifty-three minutes. The machine will be arranged for t seats and will carry two persons comfortably. The speed limit over good roads is forty miles an hour, but the usual rate over ordinary country roads is not more than fifteen miles, increased to twenty miles where the surface of the road permits.

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Ford Will Recover From His Injuries

   Posted by: admin    in Assault, School days, Webster City

The Fort Dodge Messenger: May 24, 1904

Ford Will Recover From His Injuries

Principal of Webster City High School Recovering from Assault

Supt. Gerber Under Arrest

Head of Hamilton County Educational Affairs Charged With Assault

Principal Ford of the Webster City school, who was assaulted by County Superintendent L.N. Gerber, a week ago today, will recover from his injuries. His condition now is such as to warrant a hope that he will be able to resume his duties within the course of a few weeks.

Superintendent Gerber was arrested Saturday on the charge of assault with intent to commit great bodily injury. The arrest was made at the instance of O.M. James, of Marion, Ky., a brother-in-law of the injured man. Mr. James left his home in Kentucky to go to Webster City for that purpose. Superintendent Gerber’s bond was fixed at $500 ($11,975 today) which was furnished.

The outcome wil (sic) be awaited with interest, not only in Webster City, but over the state, as it has been well aired during the past week. The trouble between Ford, the principal of the high school, and Gerber, the county superintendent, has been one of long standing. It came to a climax a week ago today when the county superintendent called at the office of the principal to obtain an explanation from Ford as to his action in suspending Gerber’s son from school. It was asserted by Ford that he dismissed young Gerber because the latter was impertinent. The answer, however, did not satisfy Gerber and hot words followed. It is then alleged that Gerber struck Ford with a statuette which he took from the mantel. Gerber claims that Ford was injured by being struck on the head by the statuette, which had been accidentally knocked from its place on the mantel. the stories of both will receive a further and better airing at the hearing, which is set for June 1.

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Semi-productive day

   Posted by: admin    in Research

I went to the Fort Dodge Public Library today to see about filling some holes where I don’t have articles copied to transcribe and also to find out how the case of the battling superintendents turned out.

Unfortunately, although I looked for the superintendents story from the end of May through June 14, 1904, I didn’t find any updates. I may have to check the Webster City paper.

Luckily, I spoke with Roger Natte and he told me that it’s possible that copies of the Freeman-Journal may be available on microfilm at the library at Iowa Central Community College. I’ll need to call to find out.

Also luckily, I spoke with some people who were doing research on one of the microfilm machines at the library and was able to try to help them find some information. We didn’t exactly find what they were looking for, but they bought some books from the Webster County Historical Society, so that’s a bonus for the society.

Later, I helped do a presentation to some Boy Scouts at church, about genealogy. We’re (Jacqui McCollum and I) helping them earn the genealogy badge. We will be working with them next week, as well.

So, while I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, sometimes you find things you didn’t expect and that’s good, too.


1940 Census update

   Posted by: admin    in 1940 Census

You can get an update on the 1940 census here. Iowa is 50% indexed (yay!). Illinois is 22% indexed.

I’ve been slacking a bit. Personal life does that to you. I need to get going on Iowa indexing, then I’ll go on to Illinois.

Florida, Utah and Wyoming have been added to the list of searchable indexes. Indices? Whatever.

I need to find the following people:

  • Pauline Rieboldt and her family (I think they were in Panama)
  • Arthur Burrell and his family (I think they were in Chicago)
  • Arthur Burrell’s siblings

I had already found my father’s family – and discovered that he was, indeed, living with them at the time of the census. I wasn’t sure, because he was adopted as a young child, so I didn’t know what age he was when he began living with them.