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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - December 8, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Marion Farm TV Food Iowa News Features SUNDAY, DEC. 8, 1974 Section B Oelwein Chamber Shook Timbers; Now Out of Financial Difficulties Rv Art By Art Hough T the tlmbcrs and Chlhl f r WSki' managcr of lhe Oelwein Area ptt. u Commel'CC' following up ari announcement by Iho nrZ, rn.Baum lhal for the flrst time I" 'wo years tho red and wm.tie.in thc black 4 case weeks ago when i the line. )f in budget requirements mem- oers and non-members have responded with over-due dues donations, and voluntary checks for 15 percent above their .original assessments for (he current year. Dues Assessment A meeting of past presidents 36 hours after the general meeting resulted in the recommended assessment of 15 percent of dues "to get over the hump and starl (he new year in the Baum said. rcsponded he have alieady had enough response so that we have the operating expenses covered for the year. uptraung "And, more to come in. So we may be able lo finish a couple of projects we wanted to. arc like lne real'y great people they are- Us a really great community." The genera1! meeting a couple of weeks ago apparently f shoo.k lne membership out of a compla- cency that can happen to one the lop raled Chambers of Commerce in the country. Baum attributes the organization's high rating to "the things we do, the type of budget we're on, and our alumni. Chamber Alumni "Over the have come out of our Chamber and have gone on to great heights nationally as Chamber managers or with thc U. S. Chamber of Commerce." _ The Oelwein Area Chamber of Commerce had a bud'get of about this year, with a membership of 203. II hopes'to increase that membership back to over 300 in 1975 which would be about 90 percent of its potential. "It's a total realization that the Chamber is involved in many, many projects we don't give ourselyes enough publici- ty on.'VBaurri'declared, "but it's a vital element in (he town and so recognized by the community as a whole." (i We have to re-evaluate Jankowsky said ana we have to take a look at programs we've had and programs lhal surround us and see whal we can do hnupBf.Um ou' that of our problems has been we haven tooted our horn enough about what we're geltinit done. It has become kind of automatic." "It's a cyclical Jankowski added. "I think they're aware of it .now. Actually, It's a healthy Chamber "I think that some of the people who are not in and have never been in need to be educated that whatever vou do In Chamber work you don't have a tangible." ''Here is another said Baum "The Chamber of Commerce is not a business organization. Many members certainly arc not retailers. A lot of them are profe' clergy, individuals and farmers, certainly busi- ness men, but not retailers. community organization. It is not strictly a retail onfnnnhU? commcrcial The budget for retail is one of the smallest parts of the total budget." Local Cooperation In the long range picture is cooperation with West Union and Fayette in the Volga lake project. The Oelwein Chamber and the community have met cri- ses the past. Orvillc Christophel park has been the man who was manager of the Chamber during the period of recovery following the devastating tornado a few years ago. When the Chicago North Western railroad moved its "fficiab wem ChlCag0' the Chamber and 01 its officials went to bat again. Baum said that as a result of has brought in lhe back Jankowsky cited the information center and Better Busi- ness Bureau, which receives upwards of 100 calls a week for community information and on major and minor, complaints which we usually are able to solve or at least get lhc two parties together." T ,The. Fund is operated through the Chamber Jankowsky said, noting thai il has paid 100 percenl of Its pledges every year to the people included in the budget. Future Prospects In prospect for '75 are "some new projects and some fired up Jankowsky said. "There was no animosily, no antagonism, just a down- ward slant. "We just took a critical look and saw which way wo were headed. We nipped it in the bud and got it back up. "There's too much pride here, too much at stake here let a Chamber go defunct. This would the black for the first time in two years. Baum, an Oelwein clothier who has lived hero 18 years, n c mOSt wrong with Oelwein have never lived any place else The weVo got hCrC realiZC What "We could have done just what we did last year use next year's dues to pay this year's expenses. "But, we said we're going to take another route and we "We wanted lo make danged sure that they started next year absolutely heallhy, instead of starting in thc hole like we did this year. "And we're In the Sleuthing Old By Dale Alicrn DECORAH A lone, weathered tombstone on a secluded and heavily-limbered bluff high above Bear creek marks (he desolate grave of a pioneer Winneshiek .county industrialist. There is.no civilization. in the" wild..' erness. stretching all directions from John Minro's grave. Probably few people'., now living have seen, .the old, abandoned burial 'site. Bfiar- and-brush thickets have al- most obliterated this plucky pioneer's last resting place. Some of the largest and old- est birch and cedar trees in Iowa form ail: almost- jmpene- trable branches with aspens and oaks. The inscription on tombstone -indicates Munro died Nov. the ago of 64'ycars.and 23 days. Although no i-bmains of his proud' little. industry, can be seen .along -course of .'Bear spar- kling waters.far below, "it is l .not 'imagine that the music of the frothing rap- ids contains lingering .sounds of the woolen mill. Munro has no known rela- tives, .Even the miniature, barbwire fence surrounding his grave has nearly rusted away. It was my good fortune to- be conducted through to the ;grave by a :man who had seen; it only once before 10 years' ago. Sleuthing Cemeteries ''The.'abandoned burial plot came to attention of.E. J. retired, long-time Wirin'esjiiek county extension service director, after he started his hobby of sleuthing out ghost cemeteries and abandoned grave's in 1963. After walking within a few yards of the grave without seeing it, Weigel and I ex- plored a large, expanse of timberland before making our discovery. According to the tombstone legend and old newspaper files, John Munro was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Oct. 26, 1817. He is believed to have learned (he spinning trade in England. Coming to Decorah as a young man, he found employ- ment in lhe Decornh Woolen Mills. Because of his training and industry, he soon became superintendent. In 1877 -at 60 years uf age he founded his own woolen mill besjide the peaceful wa- ters of Bear creek. Uncovers Legends other interesting ramifica. tions. I Woolen Mill The" Bear Crock Woolen Mill, started nearly 100 years ago by Munro, operated in a peaceful 'valley of thc almost- mountainous country between the remote little northeast Iowa villages of Highlandville andQuandahl. Redords indicate the mill was well equipped with spc-' cinj machinery for carding, combing, and spinning yarn, ,antl for turning out sheels of wool for comforters. Munro's products were turned out in two colors gray and white. Sadly Mr. Munro had (he pleasure of operating his mill only three years. According lo an early-day newspaper, "Death overtook him, and he was buried on a hill overlooking the valley." A son carried on the pioneer industrialist's business for a while but later sold Although abandoned ami forgotten, Munro's grave is an appropriate spot, commanding from the summit of (he moun- tain-like bluff an exquisite view of the pioneer's domain, lhc beautiful Bear Creek valley. Far removed from human habitat, (he long-lost grave has shared its secrets with on- ly tho chickadees, nuthatches, and waxwings foraging on (ho frosted bluo-and-green juniper berries abounding in the area. For example, Weigel's study has disclosed that the Old Moncek cemetery, recent- ly restored by residents of Bloomfield township, was originally an Indian burial- ground. Later early settlers buried their dead there. One well-known, long-lime resident of Fort Atkinson, Phil Huber, Weigle about an Indian burial he experienced- when he was a little boy. "One he said, "an In- dian procession came into (lie Fort Alkinson community, bringing (ho body of a young Indian girl for burial in their home territory. "They buried the girl in land directly south of F Atkinson along the Turktj river, south of what is now (he Smallest Church." According to Wciglc, "An- other very old cemelery in Winneshiek county is (he Russell ccmclcry in Canoe township. This was slartcd by the burial of a transient man who died at the Russell home about five miles north of Decorah In 1851." Pholos bv Dolo Ahtrn Long-time Winneshiek County Extension Director E.J. Weigle deciphers the mscriptions on the long-lost grave of a Winnesheik county industrialist, John Munro. County History With Bear creek's reminisc- ing rapids murmuring in our cars, Weigle and I left this restful rclrent reluctantly. This Is only one of many fragments of Winneshiek county history uncovered by the former extension service director through his unusual hobbv. The project has had Township Legends According to a legend hand- ed down from one Canoe town- ship generation to another a pioneer farmer, Thomas Russell, built a cabin and put in some crops on land about five miles north of (he young village of Decorah sometime around the year 1850. One night a stranger by the name of William Brazil, came along on horseback and asked to be put up for the night. Tho Russclls fed him, lei him bed down In one corner of the cab- in, and put his horse In a log- cabin barn housing (lie Rus- sell oxen. During the night the strang- er died, and the Russells bur- ied him on a corner of their farm. Ho consumed a large quant- ity of honey in tho comb be- fore retiring for (he night, and (lie Russclls speculated that a ball of wax may have formed in thc stranger's inlcsllncs <'md killed him. Combing contents of his saddle bag, the Russclls found WO in gold and a letter from a woman living in thc east. Writing lo her, (hey learned that Brazil was her brother. She (hanked them for giving her brother food, lodging, and for properly disposing of his body. She suggeslcd (hai his horse and saddle bo sold to pay for burial and a marker and that in gold be sent to her. The Russells complied with her wishes. So, the transient's grave proved to be (he beginning of what has since become the Russell cemetery, one of Winneshiek county's well- developed and well-main- tained ccmelerics. A (all monument, standing in Pioneer cemetery a few miles southeast of Decorah, is a perpetual reminder of' a tragic epidemic that swept through (he residents of (he area in (he lale 1850s. A large number of early Norwegian solders died in (he plague and were buried on a plo( of ground that forms the corner of Glenwood, Frank- vlllc, Springfield, and Decorah townships. Since no permanent mar- kers were erected at the lime, rcsidenls of (he four townships later went together in erecting thc large monument which now bears the names of all pioneers who lost (heir lives in (he epidemic and were buried there. Pioneer Cemetery Another pioneer cemelery completely forgotten by most people now living bin brought to light through Wei- Sle's cemetery-research hobby lies on thc east outskirts of Freeport, small village three miles northeast of Dcconih. Hidden from view in a heavlly-tlmbered area of Woodland Acres, local Christmas tree plantation, this cemetery contains some of (he first burials made in Win- neshiek county. Time and (he elements have played havoc with many of tho Kravcs and tombstones. Re- cently, however, the place has been fenced, and considerable clean-up work has been done on the graves. The sandy road which wound along beside this old cemetery more than 100 years ago has been eroded by dec- ades of wind and rain into E.J. Weigle notes the graves of two Winneshiek county brothers who died in separate was a prisoner at Andersonville during the Civil war and the other was killed in the Battle of Little Big Horn with Custer. what today is a deep, cedar- fringed canyon. Deer, red foxes, raccoons, and swarms of wild birds abound here. One grave is still plainly marked by a time-whitened slab thai reads, "Daniel, son of J. II. and M. Green, was killed by lightning July 8, 1855, in his 15th year." Although Weigle's work has not definitely identified the oldest burial site in Winne- shiek counly, among these are the Congregational Church Socicly's grave yard set aside between 1846 and 1848 and the St. Anthony of Padua (Small- est Church) cemelery estab- lished in 1849. Lonely Marker Another lonely marker standing alone on a high ridge owned by Pat Llnnanc in (he Blufflon area has been vis- ited by Weigle and listed in his records. From oldlimers Weigle learned that thc cemetery In which this lone marker now stands was thc first St. Bridget's church cemetery for Bluffton community Catholics. When the church was moved to its present location about one mile west of Sky- ridge farms on tho Bluffton blacktop, all bodies in the old cemelery were exhumed and moved to the new cemetery cxccpl one, the body of Ca- tharine Connors, wife of Tim- othy Kennelly, who according to the legend on (he stone died May 15, 1858. Mystery surrounds (he well- preserved gray granite slab marking Mrs. Connors' grave. There are no records to in- dicate why her grave was left alone unmolested. "The only logical explana- tion we have been able to come up Weigle says, "is (hal there were no living relatives lo sland the cost of exhuming lhe body and mov- ing (he marker." Thc former extension serv- ice director's hobby-research has disclosed unusual cir- cumstances which prompted cslablishmcn( of the Ridgeway cemetery. This burial grounds, lying on the southern outskirts of the little village of Ridge- way 10 miles west of Decoraii. was slarled when thc body of an unidentified man was bur- ied there. Railroad Crew This unfortunate Individual was working as a member of the crew that built the rail- (Continued on Pago 10B)
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