THE CITY OF MARENGO
The story of the choosing of the site of Marengo as the location for the county seat of Iowa County has been
narrated in detail in the early chapters of this book; how the country in this vicinity seemed to them to bear
a great likeness to the plains of Marengo in Italy, where Napoleon Bonaparte defeated the Austrians in the spring
The original Town of Marengo was located as a seat of justice of Iowa County on August 13, 1845, by the three commissioners
appointed by the Territorial Legislature: Thomas Henderson, of Keokuk County; Luman N. Strong, of Linn County,
and Stephen B. Gardner, of Johnson County. The original plat was near the center of section 25, township 81, range
11, and was officially recorded on May 24, 1847. The original plat was entered by E. C. Lyon in his own name. An
account of the resulting difficulties is to be found prior to this page.
The first efforts to incorporate the Town of Marengo were made in the spring of 1856, and on May 10th of that
year there was an election held with J. C. McConnell, W. D. Loveredge and Jesse Burrey as judges, and C. H. Holbrook
and Y. M. Connolly as clerks. Again, pursuant to an order of court, signed by William H. Wallace, an election to
decide the question of incorporation was held on Monday, April 5, 1858, and a large majority voted to incorporate.
Another petition was circulated and the court again ordered an election to determine the question. Just why this
was done is not known. The first election of city officers occurred November 12, 1859, and there were eighty eight
votes cast. The following were elected: E. C. Hendershott, mayor; Robert McKee, recorder; H. M. Martin, E. L. Ogle,
L. Q. Reno, D. Sturdevant and J. R. Serrin, trustees; W. H. Wallace, treasurer; S. N. Neels, marshal. The following
men have served the City of Marengo in the capacity of mayor since this time: William McCullough, H. C. Page, C.
D. Hostetter, T. P. Murphy, D. H. Wilson, J. M. Richardson, A. J. Morrison, J. N. W. Rumple, E. E. Alverson, J.
T. Beem, A. M. Vette, A. M. Henderson, John F. Cronin, J. C. Engelbert, I. W. Clements and J. C. Baker.
Robert McKee was the first postmaster at Marengo. He was appointed March 2, 1846, and received his commission
on April nth. The office was then kept at his house in the east part of town. It is said that the first mails were
carried by R. M. Hutchinson, who rode a little mule, the rider's legs being so long that his feet would drag upon
the ground. Following McKee, the following men have been postmaster: William Dillin, R. A. Redman, B. F. Crenshaw,
Dr. E. C. Hendershott, John Gray, William Downard, Margaret Edwards, John R. Serin, William Downard, Frank C. Conley,
F. E. Spering, S. J. Murphy, H. R. Crenshaw, A. L. Downard, D. M. Rowland, C. L. Shipton, D. M. Rowland, James
C. Dinwiddie and James J. Glenn.
Within the next few months it is planned to begin the erection of a new postoffice and Federal building at Marengo.
Marengo has the distinction of having one of the finest public square parks in the Middle West. Many of the
fine trees in the park were set out by G. W. Williams, Thomas Parker, Robert McKee, James Paine, the surveyor,
Dr. James W. Grant and others at various times in the '50s and '60s. A handsome stone fountain is located in the
center of the grounds, from which lead eight cement walks, lined with comfortable seats. An attractive stone bandstand
is located near the center of the square.
RECOLLECTIONS OF MARENGO
By Judge Milo P. Smith
I first saw the village in January, 1862. It then had about five or six hundred inhabitants. I walked there
from Leroy Station, now Blairstown, on the C. & N. W. R. R. The snow was quite deep and walking hard. I crossed
the river down where Robert McKee formerly had a ferry, and went uptown by the old hotel kept by the Ratcliffes.
There were but few buildings then on either the south or west sides of the square, and the little town looked straggly
and sickly and very bleak in its cSat of snow. I stayed over night at Lewis Wilson's on the Koszta road, and the
next day passed on westward. The railroad only ran to Victor then.
The next time I saw the place was in May, 1866, when I located there and began the practice of law. The town had
grown some in the four years, and then contained about eight hundred inhabitants, with but four brick buildings
the schoolhouse, the Presbyterian Church, the courthouse and L. Q. Reno's dwelling house. All the rest were wooden,
some frame and some log buildings. Aside from Beaupre's Hall, near the northwest corner of the public square, William
Liddle's blacksmith shop and McConnell's millinery shop (where Branch's bank now stands) and V. M. Ogle & Co.'s
store, there were no other buildings on the west side. And Mrs. Groff's dwelling (where the Masonic Building now
stands), L. Q. Reno's store, Jake Haas' saloon, Charley Eckert's blacksmith shop and the Marengo Hotel on the southeast
corner were all the buildings there were on the south side, while the north and east sides were about half filled
with frame buildings, all of which have long disappeared.
The courthouse was a box like building standing close to the sidewalk on the east side of the park, the length
being the breadth of the present building as it was afterward improved. The county offices were all on the ground
floor and entered directly from the sidewalk, with no hall or stairway in the building. The second floor was reached
by some outside steps at the south end, and up there was the courtroom, small, but well lighted. In place of carpet
or linoleum the floor was covered with about an inch of sawdust, making a good deposit for tobacco spit. All of
the furniture was of the plainest kind and unpainted except the judge's desk, and that was white. N. B. Vineyard
was county treasurer and occupied the south room, while the middle of the room was used by the clerk of the court
and the sheriff. W. G. Springer was the clerk, and his son, John C., was deputy. Eli D. Akers was sheriff, and
he had for deputy the irresponsible Bill Hastings, who could tell the biggest yarn of any man in the county. He
used to tell it as a fact that he was driving a wagon loaded with loose gunpowder during the war through the City
of Columbia, S. C., when it was burning; that the powder caught fire and half the load burned up before he could
tramp it out. But the Ananias Club had not been organized then. The county recorder (Judge John Miller) and the
county judge (A. H. Willetts) occupied the north and remaining room of the building. I believe Mr. Jennis was county
superintendent and Mr. Childers coroner. They both carried their offices in their hats.
The stores of general merchandise were those of L. Q. Reno on the south side and V. M. Ogle & Co. on the west
side, and Scheuerman Brothers at the northeast corner of the square. The only drug stores were run by Ed Alverson
in the old Beaupre Building on the west side and by Williams & Garns on the north side. Libby & Martin
had a hardware store just south of Alverson's drug store. Gus Holm was running, in connection with Myers Brothers,
of Davenport, a hardware store on the east side, and Henry Deffinbaugh had the office of the express company in
the same room. John R. Serrin, representative in the Legislature, was postmaster and carried in the same room a
stock of notions, wall paper, etc. His store was east of the southeast corner of the square, and the Masonic and
Good Templar lodges met upstairs over his store.
These were the chief parties engaged in business as I now recall them. I forgot that H. N. Redmond (Nice) and '.
F. Haven each carried a stock of goods, while A. J. Morrison ran the Clifton House and Uncle John Cone ran the
hotel at the southeast corner of the square. John Dinwiddie, now a Cedar Rapids banker, was learning to clerk in
the store of B. F. Haven. He was very young and small. Some years afterward J. H. Branch came and established his
bank. It was said that he started with $2,500, one half of which he invested in a safe, which must have proved
a good investment, as his subsequent success showed.
The man who was nearest regarded as a part of Marengo and who came, I think, while the Indians were in possession,
who was always a property owner there and had faith in the future of the town equaled only by the faith of a Christian
in his Saviour, who was always ready to greet friend or stranger with a smile and pleasant word, and help anyone
that was in need, and who bought every patent right that was offered on the street, that was Uncle Horace H. Hull.
The man that I always felt I owed as much, if not more to, than anyone else, was G. W. Williams, commonly called
"Gord." On many a time when I did not have a dollar and did not know where the food for myself and family
was to come from, I have gone to Gord and a hint of my situation would prompt him to offer me any amount I wanted,
and many a $5 bill did he loan to me, saying, "You can pay it back to me, Cap, whenever you get ready."
A. J. Morrison, then the keeper of the Clifton House, was another with whom I early became acquainted and for whom
I ever had a tender and affectionate feeling. I recollect that before I had been here a year, on a cold winter
morning I started on horseback over into Benton County to try a case before a justice of the peace. I had a copy
of the Conklin Treatise under my arm, and as I rode past the Clifton House, Andy came out, called for me to stop,
and tendered me one of Jayne's almanacs, saying that it was just as useful to me and that I could comprehend it
just as well as the book I had. During the long period of time that he lived in Marengo no man filled as many offices
as he did. I never believed the trouble which came to him eventually was by reason of his want of honesty and integrity.
I believe the "recording angel dropped a tear on the charge that blotted it out forever."
Another very prominent man and one who probably did more for Marengo than any other man there, and who had more
varied ability than any other, was N. B. Holbrook. He was, I think, the best educated man in the town. He was a
splendid surveyor and engineer, was a successful newspaper editor, was a member of the bar, a successful land agent,
a good banker and one of the best all round business men the town ever had.
UNCLE DICKY GROFF
Another quaint character in Marengo was Uncle Dicky Groff. Teacher, preacher, lawyer, merchant, book peddler
and poet all rolled up in one man makes a combination hard to beat, but that was Dicky Groff. A short, stubby man,
who had a full gray beard and always of the same age, never changing. He was honest and well meaning, but never
learned how to do anything. His greatest claim to immortal renown lies in the poem to Iowa, commencing, "Young
Peril of the West." His greatest achievement in teaching a Sunday school was to ask the children where Moses
was when the light went out, and his preaching was about on a par with that. As a lawyer he went out of practice
about a hundred years ago; in fact, he never began. The goods in his store consisted of two old straw bonnets,
some ribbon, a few spools of black thread and an old stove which never had a fire in it, winter or summer. He had
no customers, for he had nothing to sell, but still he went to the store every day, opened it, sat down and read
a book a short time, and then went home. But I think he was the most constant reader in the State of Iowa, and
also read to the least purpose of anyone in the state. Still he could write a first class newspaper article, and
make words jingle in what he called verse or poetry. He was always happy and good natured and viewed life from
a pleasant standpoint. The following quotation, worthy of Hudibras, he frequently used, possibly because it fully
embodied his ideas of men:
The world of fools has such a store That he who
would not see an ass
Should go home and bolt his door,
Then break his looking-glass."
I do not think he ever sat five minutes in his life that he did not pick up a book or paper and go to reading.
He could write as good an article on farming as could Horace Greeley, and could manage a farm about as well as
could the great editor.
OTHER OLD SETTLERS
But there were other good men in business there. J. P. Ketchem was probably the best business man in the town.
Ed Hopkins was a royally good and lovable man. J. M. Rush, true to his friends. W A. Snavely, tinner and hardware
merchant, a good citizen and "pillar" of the Methodist Episcopal Church. "Nice" Redman, with
his "North Carolina" ditty. Fred Ryrich, the shoeman. Ben Liddle, whose love for Canada was so intense
that, when in a fight with a stranger who struck him a fearful blow, Ben said, "I knew he was from Canada
by the way he hit me." There was I. M. Lyon, "Pappy," as we called him, who came as near mortal
could in keeping the commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself." He had a large family of boys - Asher (the dragoon),
Tom, Ben, etc. Ben Lyon once, at a meeting of the G. A. R. men to bury a comrade, unconsciously paid his father
an unclassified compliment. We could find no minister in town to officiate at the funeral, when Ben cut the Gordian
knot by saying, "Why, dam it, boys, Pap can do the praying and Cap Rumple or Smith can do the talking."
And no minister ever made a more appropriate prayer than did Pappy Lyon at that grave, his head uncovered in the
cold and blowing sleet.
J. S. Shaw, soon after I went there, came to stay. Next to his family he loved the Methodist Church and a good
horse more than anything else. And by kicking Jake Sehorn out of his hotel he was the innocent and unintentional
cause of Jake's dropping into poetry in the next issue of the Marengo Democrat.
Of the young men of the town with whom I became acquainted there were: Captain McBride, Capt. J. B. Wilson, C.
V. Gardner, W. P. and Sam Ketchem, Nate Martin, A. B. Eshelman, H. E. Goldthwaite, Thomas Owen, Henry and Newton
Lieb, Lute Wilson and others We never painted the town red, but it was sometimes made green. Our enjoyments were
primitive, but they were well worth the cost and did us no harm. An evening at the Good Templar's lodge, a sleighride
to Blairstown or a trip to the colony were regarded as sufficient acts of dissipation. I could mention many others
with whom I early became acquainted, and whose friendship has left a sweet remembrance, but I forbear. Any town
that could withstand a campaign of "Mike McNorton" and two floods deserves to live while the hills stand.
In the spring of 1867 Mr. J. H. Branch opened a banking office in Marengo, located in a small room in a building
then owned by A. B. Eshelman. In 1867, in the fall, he moved into new quarters erected for the purpose by L. Q.
Reno. This place becoming too small for his business, he bought a lot at the southwest corner of the public square.
This was late in the year 1869, and early in the following year he erected the bank building now used by the First
National Bank of Marengo.
The First National Bank was organized September 24, 1873, succeeding the Branch Bank. The articles of incorporation
were filed September 30th of the same year. The first board of directors consisted of J. H. Branch, J. H. Feenan,
W. Bailey, N. B. Vineyard, N. B. Holbrook, F. C. Knepper and Samuel Huston. The first officers were: J. H. Branch,
president; G. W. Bailey, vice president; E. B. Branch, cashier, and John M. Dinwiddie, clerk. The bank was organized
with a capital stock of $50,000. This has remained the capital until the present time. The officers and employes
in 1915 are: Frank Cook, president; Thomas Stapleton and J. H. Lewis, vice presidents; C. C. Clements, cashier;
F. W. Goldthwaite, assistant cashier; John H. Rusch, clerk. The directors are: F. C. Lindenmayer, E. B. Henderson,
G. W. Shedenhelm, J. H. Lewis, John E. Spurner, W. F. Hogan, D. T. Watson, Thomas Stapleton and Frank Cook. The
bank has a surplus of $35,000, and the deposits average about three hundred thousand dollars.
In connection with the First National Bank, under the same management and in the same building, is the Iowa County
Loan and Savings Bank. The capital stock is $15,000; the surplus about nine thousand dollars, and the deposits
about three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
The Peoples Savings Bank was organized July 15, 1905, with a capital stock of $25,000, and the following as
the first officers: Arthur M. Vette, president; J. V. Murphy, vice president; Ervin Evans, cashier. The first directors
were: A. M. Vette, Thomas P. McGiverin, C. L. Shipton, D. Callahan, N. N. Brimmer, T. B. Murphy, Paul Herman, Naboor
Olson and G. N. Wiese. The deposits in January, 1906, amounted to a little over seventy three thousand dollars,
and in the intervening years have steadily increased until in 1915 there is the sum of $565,000 on deposit. The
officers are: Arthur M. Vette, president; Thomas P. McGiverin, vice president; W. R. MacGregor, cashier; Ole H.
Olson, assistant cashier; A. M. Vette, R. T. Conn, Thomas P. McGiverin, D. Callahan, A. Brimmer, J. D. Misbach,
William H. Langlas, D. Sullivan and Halvor Olson, directors.
The German American Savings Bank of Marengo was organized in 1907. The first meeting of the board of directors
was held September 18, 1907. The board was composed of the following men: D. H. McKee, J C Engelbert, M. Havner,
Henry Gode, E. L. Ives, F. L. Wilson and L. S. Sullivan. D. H. McKee was president; J. C. Engelbert, vice president;
Charles Ludwig, cashier; C. I. Denzler, assistant cashier. The first and present capital stock amounted to 525,000.
D. H. McKee is the president in 1915; J. C. Engelbert, vice president; C. Denzler, cashier, and William Sayres,
assistant cashier. The surplus is 55,000, and the deposits $380,000.
On January 7, 1880, the Marengo Savings Bank was organized by a number of citizens, with a capital of $15.000,
which was afterward increased to $30,000. This institution afterward failed.
The Iowa Weekly Visitor was founded September 6, 1856, by Clinton
Edwards. It was a precarious venture in a town of only two or three hundred, not incorporated, and the settlers
as a class very poor. Anything was taken on subscription, fuel, vegetables, grain or any other commodity which
the subscriber could best give. There was very little money to be had. They issued a four page paper, each sheet
quite large. In July, 1859, Clinton Edwards was drowned in the Iowa River and Mrs. Edwards continued to publish
the paper for a year and a half, when she sold out to I. J. Teagarden, who changed the name to the Iowa Valley
Review and published it until his death nearly four years later, in September, 1864. More as a service to his party
than for financial gain, J. R. Serrin then conducted the paper through the campaign of 1864 and until January 1,
1865, when it was purchased by F. A. C. Foreman & Co. Mr. Foreman died in the fall of that year, after changing
the name to the Progressive Republican. Thus the first three editions died in the harness.
Upon Mr. Foreman's death J. C. Benedict and F. M. Connelly became publishers. The next year Benedict sold his interest
to H. R. Crenshaw, and five years later F. E. Spering bought Connelly's interest. At last the paper found a permanent
editor. Spering & Crenshaw changed the name to the Marengo Republican and ran the paper several years together,
although later Spering bought out his partner and continued the publication until the time of his death in 1892.
After that Mrs. Spering retained the ownership and Frank Colson conducted it for a year or more, when Herbert Fairall
of Iowa City took the business until 1895, then sold to M. A. Raney. In 1903 Mr. Raney sold out to James C. Dinwiddie,
who in turn sold to D. C. Mott on August 1, 1907. On January 1, 1909, the Herald was purchased and combined with
the Republican. In July, 1909, Frank L. Mott bought a half interest in the paper and the firm became Mott &
Son. On November 1, 1913, E. H. Paine and S. G. Snyder purchased the newspaper plant and published the Republican
together under the firm name of Paine & Snyder until the unfortunate and sad death of Mr. Paine on April 20,
1915. The Paine estate holds the half interest yet at this time and Mr. Snyder is continuing the active publication
of the paper at this time. The paper is a six column quarto, all home print, issued on Wednesday to 1,500 subscribers.
This has been one of the most successful papers in the county, despite the many handicaps overcome and hardships
endured. Under the efficient management of Mr. Snyder the paper is increasing in circulation and the mechanical
make up is of the most modem style.
The old Marengo Herald was started June 21, 1899, by the firm of Beem & Paine.
The Marengo Democrat was established July 9, 1875, with J. G. Sehorn and W. S. Cohick as editors and proprietors.
In January following Cohick sold out his interest to Sehorn. Later C. L. Shipton bought into the plant and continued
in partnership with Sehorn until 1886-87, when he purchased Sehorn's interest.
In 1897 J. J. Glenn, the present postmaster of Marengo, bought the paper and has continued it very successfully
since that time. The paper is democratic in politics and is one of the strongest supports of the party in the county.
It is issued weekly to about 1,200 subscribers. The paper is a seven column quarto. The paper is equipped with
modern machinery for the publication of the regular issue as well as extensive job work.
The Marengo Sentinel is the newest paper in the city. The first issue was published November 1, 1911, by G. B.
Fullmer. Mr. Fullmer still publishes the paper semi weekly. It is an independent sheet.
One of the most individual things in Marengo is the number of flowing wells. There are four of them in the city.
The one located in the park is the deepest of the four, being 365 feet in depth. The one in the old Clifton House
is about one hundred and seventy seven feet deep; the one in the school grounds is 265 feet deep and the one in
the Ketchem Hotel building is 270 feet deep. All of them show medicinal mineral qualities. The water has a distinct
mineral flavor and odor, but is not extremely offensive.
Shortly after the completion of the waterworks in Marengo, the Phcenix Hose Company No. I was organized. This
was in 1875. It was a volunteer fire company, the same as the Hook and Ladder Company No. I which was formed very
soon afterwards. Then, owing to a number of serious conflagrations in the depot end of town, Rescue Hose Company
No. 2 was organized, with headquarters near the depot. These companies have all done valiant service at different
times. The companies have also attended many tournaments in Iowa and have returned with a number of state fire
trophies. The organizations have always been composed of good and capable men, with reputation for quick service
whenever the fire alarm is sounded.
PETITION FOR INCORPORATION OF MARENGO
The State of Iowa,
County of Iowa.
To the Honorable County Judge in and for the County and State of Iowa:
Your petitioners, the undersigned qualified voters and residents of the following described territory being in
the County of Iowa and State of Iowa, to wit: River Lot No. Two (2) and the south half of the northeast quarter
of the southeast quarter of the northwest quarter, and parts of the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter,
and the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section 25 in township 81 north of range 11 west, and the
northwest fractional quarter of the southwest quarter and River Lot No. 2 of section 30 of township 81 north of
range io west.
Respectfully state and represent that they are anxious and desire to have the territory embraced in the above described
lands organized into an incorporated town to be known by the name of "Town of Marengo," an accurate "plat"
of which said territory so proposed to be organized into an incorporated town, as aforesaid, is hereto annexed
and made a part of this petition. And your said petitioners further state that E. C. Hendershott, F. M. Connelly
and H. M. Martin have been selected and are authorized to act in behalf of your petitioners in prosecuting said
Charles W. Michener,
William D. Crenshaw,
A. J. Morrison,
W. H. McFall,
J. R. Flaugher,
J. H. Murphy
A. B. Eshleman,
H. H. Hull,
Porter C. Hull,
J. R. Serrin,
John Mc. T. Gibson,
Oliver H. Swezey,
J. R. Hambel,
W. L. Crenshaw,
J. H. Gray,
W. G. C. Williams,
F. B. Havens,
E. L. Ogle,
D. D. Dildine,
N. B. Vinyard,
F. M. Connelly,
B. F. Crenshaw,
C. C. Slocum,
A. W. Childress,
Wm. D. Loveridge,
G. A. Worley,
James D. Bosh,
J. L. Gardner,
Chas. D. Hostetter,
A. P. Alexander,
Francis M. Jeffers,
S. D. Loveridge,
A. B. Israel,
James W. Frank,
R. C. Bartlett,
D. C. Gower,
Thomas H. Swezey,
G. F. Eyrick,
Mich. C. McNauton,
A. W. Kimball,
L. Q. Reno,
R. B. Groff,
R. A. Redman.
GRANTING OF PETITION
State of Iowa,
In the County Court of said County.
To all to whom these presents may concern. Know ye, that it being deemed right and proper in the judgment of the
court in open session sitting, at the July term thereof, A. D. 1859, that the prayer of the within petition should
be granted, it is ordered, and the same is here enforced upon the said petition, that the territory described in
the said petition may be organized into an incorporated town, by the name, and as described in said petition in
accordance with the statutes in such cases made and provided.
Witness my hand and the seal of said county at Marengo, this 4th day of July, A. D. 1859.
(Seal) WILLIAM H. WALLACE, County Judge.
Recorded July 13, A. D. 1859.
E. C. HENDERSHOn, County Recorder. By A. B. ESHLEMAN, Deputy.
Recorded in Town Lot Deed Record 2, page 361.
THE MARENGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
By Prof. C. H. Carson
There is no other institution in Marengo in which its citizens have always taken more pride than the public schools.
The reputation of the high school is statewide. Besides being accredited by the state department of public instruction
the high school is on the accredited list of the North Central Association which comprises fifteen states of the
Middle West and is the greatest accrediting agency of its kind in the United States. This is a distinction enjoyed
by only about sixty high schools in Iowa.
The following named men have served as superintendent since the present system was organized in 1869:
C. P. Rodgers
R. S. Bingham
L. J. Woodruff
L. M. Hastings
C. H. Gurney
C. H. Carson
Superintendent Carson is entering upon his twenty fifth year of continuous service.
On July 13th, 1902, the school building was struck by lighting and partially destroyed. This building was rebuilt
for the grades and in January, 1904, a new modern high school was dedicated. The building and its furnishings cost
$20,000. With the new high school came more teachers and pupils, an extension of the courses of study, larger and
better equipment. The basement contains a well equipped chemical laboratory, a physical laboratory and a recently
well furnished domestic science laboratory. Manual training has been taught since 1906 by a competent teacher in
a shop fitted up for that purpose. Typewriting and stenography are taught. The school has recently been designated
a normal training high school by the state and is given state aid to the amount of $750 a year.
The Marengo schools have been noted for many years for the system of libraries established and maintained. There
is a library in each room, the books being selected with a view to the age and attainments of the pupils. The grades
below the high school contain 1,000 volumes. The high school proper has a well selected reference library of 1,450
The total number of graduates including the class of 1915 is 504. Of this number 335 have been graduated under
the superintendency of Mr. C. H. Carson, who looks with pardonable pride upon the many sons and daughters of M.
H. S. who are occupying prominent places in the world's activities of today and are still loyal to their alma mater.
MARENGO FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY
One of the institutions of which Marengo is justly proud is her free public library. Through the personal efforts
of Mr. M. A. Raney, now deceased, Mr. Carnegie, the famous maker of libraries, was induced to offer the City of
Marengo the sum of S10,000 for a free public library, provided the city would furnish one tenth of this amount
each year to maintain it. This offer was received by Mr. Raney in a letter dated March 27, 1903. On May 4, 1903,
an election was held by the city to determine whether the offer should be accepted and the tax provided for by
law be voted. The proposition was carried by an overwhelming majority.
Early in June, 1903, the mayor, Arthur Vette, appointed the nine trustees as follows: Mesdames M. W. Stover, A.
M. Henderson and Frank Cook and Messrs. M. A. Raney, Chas. Baumer, Henry Gode, Dr. W. E. Schultze, Jas. J. Glenn
and C. H. Carson.
An organization was perfected by the election of M. A. Raney, president; Henry Gode, vice president, and C. H.
The site chosen for the building was the corner lot on Marengo Avenue and Hilton Street. The contract for the building
was awarded on July 6, 1904. The building was completed and dedicated on August 4, 1905, with appropriate ceremonies.
The first floor contains two reading rooms, a study room, a librarian's room and a book stack room. In the basement
is a lecture room which has been well furnished by the Ladies' Ingleside Club of the city.
Through the generosity of private citizens a fund of over fifteen hundred dollars was pledged for the purchase
of the first books placed in the library.
Miss Pearl Hamilton was chosen librarian March 27, 1905, and held the position until February, 1913. Miss Bess
Keil succeeded Miss Hamilton and was succeeded in August, 1915, by Miss Anna Patterson.
The library has nearly four thousand volumes of well selected books and receives about thirty magazines and other
periodicals each month. The library is well patronized by the citizens of Marengo and vicinity and is an institution
well worth what it costs.
Mr. M. A. Raney, who served as president of the board from the beginning until his resignation in February, 1913,
by reason of his removal from the city, rendered valuable services in promoting the growth and development of the
The board at present consists of R. G. Popham, president; Dr. I. N. Crow, vice president; C. H. Carson, secretary;
Mrs. Fannie Vance, treasurer and Mrs. Helen Hibbs, Miss Mary Clements, Jas. J. Glenn, Dr. E. N. Brown and J. M.
Churches are on a seperate page, click here for them.
Marengo Lodge No. 114, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, was organized August 28, 1857, under dispensation,
and the charter was issued by the grand lodge on June 2, 1858. Some of the first members, those who held offices,
were: J. H. Gray, William D. Loveridge, N. B. Vineyard, John Dillin, William Martin, John Miller, O. Dillin, A.
W. Childress. The first meetings were held in a hall near the northeast corner of the square and then in their
own hall at the southwest corner of the square.
Jerusalem Chapter No. 72, Royal Arch Masons, was organized April 4, 1874. Some of the first members were: J. R.
Flaugher, O. Dillin, J. T. Hollowell, G. U. Bailey, C. F. Cadle, L. Sheuerman, E. C. Alverson, E. N. Leib, J. M.
Rush, J. T. Swaney.
Hebron Lodge No. 148, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized March 1, 1867, with the following charter
members: A. J. Morrison, Sylvester Gullet, J. C. Jackson, Jacob Franc, Fred Messner, Leopold Levi. The order first
held their meetings in the second story of the old postoffice building on Washington Street, then owned by J. R.
Herrin. Then they met in the second story of the Shenerman Brothers Building and later constructed their own hall
on the south side of the square.
The Iowa Legion of Honor, Marengo Lodge Fo. 36 was organized and instituted August 20, 1879.
The Ancient Order United Workmen was instituted January 22, 1876. There are several other orders, mostly fraternal
insurance lodges, existing in Marengo at the present time.