Marion Historical Society & Marion Heritage Center

Marion Historical Society & Marion Heritage Center Oldest building in Uptown Marion's square c.1850s, the Marion Heritage Center was a Methodist church until 1875. Today it serves as a center to showcase Marion's history & culture. Public non-profit 501(c)3.

The Marion Heritage Center was originally a church building used by the Methodists from the 1850s until 1875. Today it serves as a community center for educational programs, historical displays, art exhibits, and cultural events for audiences of all ages. Displays showcase the history of Marion and its citizens, while lectures and workshops provide insights into our past.


Heritage Center's ART show is coming soon!
The 19th Annual Art by Your Friends & Neighbors. Our sponsor Hills Bank & Trust Co. and inpart by City of Marion Hotel Motel grant.
Our hours will be limited during this time: March 1 to March 17. Call for an appointment.

About 65 people attended the presentation about the history of the Global Positioning System (GPS) at the Marion Heritag...

About 65 people attended the presentation about the history of the Global Positioning System (GPS) at the Marion Heritage Center & Museum Sunday, January 26. Collins Electrical engineers Robert Erlandson and David Van Dusseldorp, who worked mostly on military applications of GPS, offered an informative and sometime humorous account of their combined 64 years of experience taking GPS from a concept that needed a lab full of equipment to test 45 years ago to a set of microchips no bigger than your thumbnail, embedded in phones and everything else today.

Along the way, Erlandson and Van Dusseldorp provided a fresh perspective on Arthur A. Collins, his vision and his legacy. Convinced we were at the dawn of a digital revolution, Arthur drove his engineers to be prepared and on the forefront, and ultimately into the arms of a financial rescuer with deeper pockets. Though often framed as failing, the engineers emphasized the huge cost and weight advantages Arthur's investments in digital technology and expertise gave the company when it entered the highly competitive military GPS market and Arthur's ultimate success.

With the encouragement of about two dozen former Collins engineers in the audience, Van Duseldorp related the account of how the $1 million GPS antenna called for in their development contract wasn't finished when the military launched its first satellite in 1978 and the customer suggested a contest among its contractors to see who could acquire the signal first. Collins engineers dived into their scrap barrels and threw together a junk antenna. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. Their newest member, young Dave Van Dusseldorp was appointed to go up on the roof of the plant and aim the contraption at the western horizon where the satellite would appear. Bragging rights and a case of beer hung in the balance. The engineers ran a phone line up the the roof to supply aiming instructions, and Dave held his breathe every time it rang. . . would it be his colleagues, or his wife, nine months pregnant and due any moment? The Collins team won, of course, and acquired the signal fastest; Dave's new daughter waited a week, and a case of beer magically appeared in the lab and just as mysteriously disappeared over the next several weeks--a bottle at a time.

The Collins Story: On the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing will remain on display at the Heritage Center until February 28. Through the cooperation of the Collins Aerospace Museum and the Arthur A. Collins Legacy Association, the exhibition has recently been enhanced with the addition of several new features including a rare audio recording of Arthur discussing his 1925 Arctic radio-adventure, two replica 1925 transmitters built by Collins and a rare NASA Silver Snoopy lapel pin, on loan from Boyd Palmer, one of only 19 awarded to Collins employees on the Apollo program, plus an assortment of military GPS equipment showing the evolution of the technology, including the famous "Budweiser" antenna.

The Story in the Cards part X.  Three last mini-bios taken from the QSL (post)cards sent to Arthur Collins and preserved...

The Story in the Cards part X. Three last mini-bios taken from the QSL (post)cards sent to Arthur Collins and preserved by his son, Michael.

Norman H. Miller (1904-1980) (1AWE) of Providence, RI got his ham license in 1921. His father was a buyer for a local paint company. The city had a large and active radio club, the Providence Radio Association (PRA). Its roster numbered 101 in 1923, 31 had radio licenses; Miller served as Secretary. In '23 the club sponsored a contest among the members to identify the best receiver; Miller took second in the 1-tube class. Reportedly there's a photo in the Providence Journal, but we haven't been able to track it down yet. Miller worked as a sales and repairman and for a radio company after graduating from high school. He married Margit (Anderson) from Sweden c.a. 1936, and they had a son and daughter together. In WWII he worked for Brown & Sharpe a major U.S. machine tool builder founded in Providence. After the war Norm worked for Tri-State Wholesalers, an RCA dealer. See him at Find a Grave memorial # 59805566.

Ernest Edwin Harper (1907-2003) (7GR) was born in Jenks, Oklahoma. His father, a farmer, moved the family around Kansas and OK a number of times before pulling up stakes and relocating to Vancouver, WA after WWI. He worked as a brakeman on the RR. Ernest was probably finishing H.S. when he contacted Arthur--he omitted the year on his QSL card, but added a friendly, "Merry Xmas." After graduating from the University of Washington he worked as an announcer/engineer at a Seattle radio station. He married M. Tracy (last name unknown) c.a. 1929, but it only lasted a couple of years. He moved to Chicago c.a. 1935 where he went to work for RCA Communication, Inc. and remarried, Helen L. (Radalk). At RCA in 1944 he earned a patent (#2,352,541) for inventing a system of synchronizing signals in a time division multiplex telegraph system. He returned to Bellingham, WA c.a. 1949 and became the Chief Engineer at KVOS-TV when it began operation. He introduced the first cable TV service in the city in early 1950's, and worked as a TV and radio consultant in the 60's. He had one son, Ernest Terry, and stayed in Bellingham until his death. See him at FAG #139909110. Terry Harper became a ham too and was a charter member of the Bellingham H.S. Amateur Radio Club when it formed in 1955 (call sign W7WNS). He graduated in 1956 and went on to earn a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington in 1961 and his Master's in 1964.

Gilbert H. Greenlaw (1VD) (1904-1992) was the son of a Quincy, MA plumbing and heating supply storeowner. He had a twin brother Seth A. They graduated from H.S. in 1923 and sold automobile parts and accessories together for many years before entering the retail liquor business. Gilbert got his ham license c.a. 1924 and stayed active in the hobby until at least 1934 (at W1CEZ). Seth died in 1975; Gilbert in 1992, leaving his widow, Viola (Nordstrom) whom he married in 1936. They had no children. See him at Find a Grave memorial # 111732049.

This completes our series of bios taken from the 44 QSL cards preserved by Michael Collins.

Don't miss our program about the history of radio technology today, its a good one! 1:30-3:00.

The Story in the Cards part IX.  Three more mini-bios taken from the QSL (post)cards sent to Arthur Collins and preserve...

The Story in the Cards part IX. Three more mini-bios taken from the QSL (post)cards sent to Arthur Collins and preserved by his son, Michael.

Emil Fred Karklin (1BUO/W6IBY) (1906-1967) lived in Roslindale, MA, a suburb of Boston. His father was a machinist in the Navy shipyard who had immigrated to the US from Latvia in 1895. Emil DX'd Arthur Apr. 30, 1925. It was the first time he had reached anyone in Iowa! He was a little slow in mailing his QSL card and had already received Arthur's. . . he responded with a friendly "congratulations on ur good looking crd." Art was using a couple of different QSL cards in 1925, one conventional, hardly worth the exclamation (see attached), and the other, well illustrated (also attached). Emil probably received the latter. The source of the artwork is unknown. Karklin moved to Oakland, CA in the early 1930's and then Redwood City, south of SF. He married Meta Hermine (Rolof) about this same time. He worked as a chemical engineer in a rubber & asbestos plant there in 1940. He stayed in CA and remained a ham radio enthusiast going by "Fred" with the call sign W6IBY through at least 1946. The Karklins had two children, a daughter, Carol (Adams) who died in 2016, and a son David who is a 1966 graduate of the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken NJ. He became the QA Director at E-Systems and is a long-time ham himself (W2TA). See Fred at Find a Grave memorial # 17594468.

Rodney L. Dinsmore (1907-1979) (1SO) was the son of a South Portland, ME bookkeeper. He obtained his radio license at age 14 and remained a ham until the Great Depression, but a radioman all his life. Dinsmore joined the Mackay Radio Co. (pronounced MACK-ee) after high school and worked as a marine radio engineer at stations in NY, Louisiana, FL and Maine, one of the thousands of hams who helped operate and maintain the marine radio-telegraph system that blanketed the US coasts serving and protecting sea traffic in the pre-satellite communication era. MACK-ee Radio was founded in 1925 by Clarence H. Mackay, President of the Postal Telegraph Co. to offer seamless international communication using the existing Postal Telegraph (wire) system, undersea cables and powerful seaside radio transmitters to reach Hawaii, South America and ships at sea. Dinsmore went where he was needed, including Southampton, NY from where WSL, the Mackey transmitter on Long Island, was remotely operated. It was the chief communication link between NYC and ships sailing the North Atlantic from 1929-1956. Son, Ken, was born in Jupiter, FL in 1934 while Rod worked at WMR handling Gulf Coast traffic for Mackay. He also worked at WNU in Maine, and WAG in New Orleans (for the Tropical Radio Telegraph Co.). He married Evelyn (Mossman) in Aug. 1931. Ken was their only child. See Dinsmore at Find a Grave memorial #158850990.

Vernon Wesley Kalbfleisch (1906-1974) (W7FB) grew up in Tekoa, in eastern WA. His father was a bank cashier who came to the US with this family from Ontario, Canada when he was just six years-old. Vern DX'd Arthur July 19, 1925. Their contact came in the midst of a major crisis on the famous MacMillan Arctic Expedition. The Navy's vessel, the Peary was anchored in Godhavn harbor, Greenland, out of coal and unable to refuel because the town was quarantined owing to a whooping cough epidemic. The radio room hummed with activity as Commander MacDonald sought permission from Danish officials to sail to a nearby mine and load-up there. The delay cost them eight critical days. Art's role assisting to resolve the crisis is still TBD. Vern married in 1929 (Lolita Mae Hall) and they moved to Lewiston, ID in 1932 where he worked as a clerk/cashier for the Camas Valley Railroad until his retirement in 1972. He stayed a ham radio enthusiast at least until WWII, and was a charter member of the Lewiston-Clarkston Amateur Radio Club when it organized in 1939. Their son, Kay C., joined the Marine Corps Reserves and served in Korea and Vietnam between stints teaching and coaching in Lewiston for 23 years. He retired as a major. See Vernon at Find a Grave memorial # 116942216.

The Story in the Cards part VIII.  Five more mini-bios taken from the QSL (post)cards sent to Arthur Collins and preserv...

The Story in the Cards part VIII. Five more mini-bios taken from the QSL (post)cards sent to Arthur Collins and preserved by his son, Michael.

Ralph O. Lyons (1906-1930) (7ALD) was attending Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR, when he DX'd Arthur in July, 1924. He was a member of the Alpha Zeta fraternity. After leaving school he married Pauline (Diamond) and went to work for the Gresham, OR telephone company as a trouble-shooter. Lyons died an accident in 1930 when he came in contact with a high-voltage power line. He left no children. See him at Find a Grave memorial # 72581065.

Elmer R. Gabel (1903-1940) (3CHC) was a ham radio enthusiast living in Kennett Square, PA. He later worked as a radio engineer in Cleveland and he met his future wife there. She died of pulmonary TB in 1935; they didn't have any children. Gabel succumbed to the same disease five years later. See him at Find a Grave memorial # 51016060.

Christopher C. Curley (1891-1944) (1QM) of Lynn, MA served as a corporal in WWI 1917-1918 9th Co., 3rd Battalion, and in Co. D, 307th Supply Train, 82nd Div. He was probably trained by the Army as a radio operator. After the Armistice, he worked as an electrician for the Lynn Fire Department and a city sprinkler alarm company. He was killed in a drunken fight over a woman by her jilted former lover. His assailant was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 10-15 years in prison. See Curley at Find a Grave memorial # 202034054.

Clarence Babcock Goodwin (1896-1948) (1UW) was the son of William D. Goodwin the Vice-principal of Pittsfield (Mass.) H.S.. After college he went to work as a designer at the Balfour Jewelry Co., in Attleboro, MA the country's largest maker of high school and college class rings and fraternity pins, founded in 1913. He met his future wife there, Loretta Catherine (Cronan), a clerk working in the packing dept., and they married in 1933. Ham radio thrived in the area, but there are no signs Goodwin played an active role in the clubs or stayed with the hobby after 1929. He died just before Christmas, 1948 in an accidental fall down the stairs to his apartment, returning home after some Xmas shopping. He left no children. See him at Find a Grave memorial # 201654788.

Jesse Norcross Sargent, Jr. (1AXY) (1907-1970) of Somerville, MA was a Junior in H.S. when he DX'd Arthur on March 7, 1925. Like Arther, he had been a licensed ham since age 14, and radio would be a life-long passion. Sargent was one of the more elusive hams to track down among Arthur's QSL card-writers, and perhaps that comes when you get too much unwanted press in your youth. Jess's parents were going through an ugly separation, which burst out in public in Oct. 1925 when his father, an early machinist and truck driver for New England Telephone & Telegraph Company, and now a chauffeur for its President, filed a $25,000 lawsuit charging Michael J. Tyrrell with alienation of affections and enticing his wife (Jesse's nother) Leonora (Potter) away from their home and family. Tyrrell, a truck driver for the Gulf Refining Co., had started rooming in the Sargent house c.a. 1921. Upon learning of the affair, Sargent threw Tyrrell out, but Nora continued seeing him, and left the home permanently in July, 1924. The trial was traumatic, with Jesse, Jr. testifying for his mother, and his older sister, Constance, supporting their father. Nora was given to hysterical in-court fits and fainting spells, which ultimately prevented her from testifying. Sargent won a $12,000 judgement and a divorce in Nov. 1926. Nora was given custody of Jesse Jr.; Constance stayed with Jesse, Sr., who remarried Esther (Nesbit) and began a new family. He remained a chauffeur, in the same job, until his death in 1959, when he was acclaimed a "pioneer" of the New England Tel & Tel.Co.. Jesse, Jr. married in 1929-- Grace (last name unknown). He worked as a salesman in an office equipment store. Later he worked for New England Service Sales Company, a wholesale industrial supplier, with offices in Springfield, MA, NYC, SF and Chicago. He operated W8EEM in Dayton, OH c.a. 1932; W2MRD in Great Neck, Long Island, NY c.a. 1940; W1HVL in Cape Elizabeth and Portland, ME 1947-1952; W9MTE in Island Lake, IL c.a. 1958-1960. In 1955 Sargent was recognized by the Addressograph-Multigraph Corporatation as one the nation's top office equipment salesmen and elected to the A-M Hundred Club, an honor reserved for the company's highest achievers. He died in Atlantic Beach, FL in Jan. 1970, leaving one son, Dick.

Hope you caught Michael's program at the Heritage Center this week speaking about his father. If not, we taped it and sh...

Hope you caught Michael's program at the Heritage Center this week speaking about his father. If not, we taped it and should have the video available soon. We'll let you know.

The Story in the Cards part VII.  Four more mini-bios taken from the QSL (post)cards sent to Arthur Collins and preserve...

The Story in the Cards part VII. Four more mini-bios taken from the QSL (post)cards sent to Arthur Collins and preserved by his son, Michael.

Matthew Gelardi (1905-1958) (1CCX/W5CCX/W3CCX) was a year out of Revere H.S. in MA when he DX'd Arthur on July 7, 1925. He had been a licensed ham since 1920 and stayed a radioman for life. Matt was born "Matteo," the eldest son of Guisseppi Gelardi a candy maker who had immigrated to this country with his parents when he was two. Matt worked as a foreman in a Revere, MA radio factory in 1930, still living with his parents. 2+ years as a test engineer followed and 7+ years as a radio & sound engineer. He joined the Naval Reserve c.a. 1934, serving in a radio branch in the 1st Naval District. The 1940 Census records him still living at home with his mother, now widowed, and siblings. He was called up for active duty in May 1941. After 3+ years at the Naval Aircraft Factory, in Philadelphia, renamed the Naval Air Material Center (NAMC), he was transferred to the Naval Aircraft Modification Unit, Johnsville as Leading Chief of the Radio and Radar Lab in July, 1944, where he served until he was discharged in early 1947. In Aug. 1947 the Secretary of the Navy formed the Aeronautical Electronic and Electrical Laboratory (AEEL) in Johnsvile and Gelardi returned as a civilian employee working as an Electronics Engineer in the Electronics Section, Pilotless Aircraft Development Lab, developing the Navy's early drone aircraft. He stayed at AEEL until his untimely death in 1958, with the exception of Oct. 1950 to Mar. 1952, when he was recalled to active duty. Most of the work at AEEL is classified. He was survived by his wife, Carmen. See him at FAG memorial ##20517907

Martin E. Solotar (1902-1977) (2CYX/W2KC) was born in Russia; he immigrated to the U.S. in 1907 with his parents and two brothers. As Ellis Island officials were wont to do, they "Americanized" the family surname from Zolotarevsky. The senior Solatar entered the family business, tailoring, and they all quickly became Americans. The eldest son, "Mert," per the 1910 census (age 12) became Max, Isidor,"Ed," and Moses, "Martin." A younger brother, George, was born a year after they arrived in NYC. Max died falling from a ladder at work in 1917. Martin followed his father into the clothing business when he got older and became a furrier salesman. Sports were important in the boys' lives and Martin was a starter on the Bronx "Clayton Five" basketball team c.a. 1919-1920, joined by George and Edward, who later became a noted swim coach amd member of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Ham radio was a serious hobby also and Martin stayed a lifelong enthusiast. He was secreteary of the Bronx Radio Club in 1925 when he reached Arthur; ten years later he made headlines using a Collins transmitter to reach Australia. (Adelaide Australia Advertiser; November 6, 1937) He joined the Naval Reserve c.a. 1936, and was called up in June, 1941. He served in WWII aboard the USS Cabot, an aircraft carrier that participated in nearly every major Pacific battle. He was released in June,1949 with the rank of Commander. He married Sylvia (Silverblatt) in Philadelphia in 1945 and they had two daughters. He died in Huntingdon Valley, PA in May, 1977. See him at Find a Grave memorial # 172090651

Nicholas Fiore (1903-1983) (1BIE/W9YQP), born "Nicholino," was the eldest son of Vincenzo and Anna Fiore, Italian immigrants who owned and operated a shoe-shine shop in Providence, RI. Nicholas secured his radio license in 1921 and remained a ham radio enthusiast for over 50 years. Fiore married in 1932 (Mary Pellettiere) and worked as an engineer in Boston at WMEX radio before moving to Chicago c.a 1935 and finding work as a sound and electrical engineer in a movie theatre. He was a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). The family later moved to Bloomington, IL where Nick and Mary raised their two children (Andrew & Mary Ann). He became a member of the Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA). An amusing news note appears in Popular Electronics; June, 1960 (p. 108) wherein Mary reports her husband coming in "loud and clear" through the front burner of her kitchen range whenever she cooked . . . explain that! They retired and moved to CA in 1972 to live near their son who worked at North Amerian Aviation (i.e. Rockwell International ) as an EE. See Nicholas at Find a Grave memorial # 177565471.

Walfred Leonard Olson (1903-1974) (1AXI/1ABI/W1NJ) is listed as "Olsson" in the 1920 Federal Radio Registry, and holding 1ABI in Chelmsford, MA. He's listed in 1921 again as "Olsson," but with 1AXI; same location, and; as "Olson" in 1927-28 with W1NJ in Lowell, MA. His Swedish grandparents, Olaus Persson and Louisa Nilsdotter, had 7 children--the three daughters became "Olsdotters," the sons became "Olssons;" Sven immigrated to the U.S. with his wife and eldest child, Lelia, in 1889 and found work as a stone cutter in a quarry. The family home, on School Street, may be a coincidence, or it may be an indication of the expectations Sven had for his son and dotter. Lelia became a nurse, Walfred, a "radio expert" already in 1923 per the street directory. He attended the Massachusetts Radio School in Boston and was said to operate one of the best ham radio sets in the community, capable of sending and receiving anywhere within 1,500 miles by CW(Morse key). He was a charter member of the Lowell Radio Club. For Walfred, radio was a catalyst for enjoying his true passion--sports. Until home radios and AM stations became widespread in the mid-1920's the Olson home was a mecca for local sports fans, and Walfred hosted large audiences following his narration of the play-by-play of the World Series, heavy-weight championship fights and important tennis matches as relayed by the ARRL. He married in 1927, Margaret Breckinridge, a newspaper proofreader in Lowell, MA. He is still recorded as a radio store "radio expert" in the 1930 census; a radio repairman in 1940. . . still in the family home on School St. His obituary says only that he was a landscape gardener and enjoyed fishing and hunting. They had no children. See him at Find a Grave memorial # 18158144. More next week.


590 10th St
Marion, IA

General information

Open Wed. through Sun. from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays and limited office hours during the installation of a new exhibit. See website for more details;

Opening Hours

Wednesday 13:00 - 16:00
Thursday 13:00 - 16:00
Friday 13:00 - 16:00
Saturday 13:00 - 16:00
Sunday 13:00 - 16:00


(319) 447-6376


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Our Story

The Marion Heritage Center & Museum was originally a church building used by the Methodists from the 1850s until 1875. Today it serves as a community center for educational programs, historical displays, art exhibits, and cultural events for audiences of all ages. Displays showcase the history of Marion and its citizens, while lectures and workshops provide insights into our past. Two major exhibits per year include the Heritage Centers’ ART show called Art by Your Friends and Neighbors, sponsored by Hills Bank and Trust of Marion, Iowa; opening in May each year. And, the fall exhibition featuring six months of local history and research from Marion’s past and Linn county Iowa; opening in September.

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Next week the 20th DKW is having a spring fling. From 10-4 all artist welcome set up is 8:30 tear down is 3. We are having the first chalk on the walk in Marion so we will be busy. I forgot to mention event is free. So come and set up your art and enjoy the spring with us. Hope to see you there.
I like your idea of using a satellite dish as a reflector over someone having to wear this!
Do you have any collections, like a local birth registry or doctor/ midwife journals that would document a child who was born 15 Jan 1887 and died the next day? She was the daughter of Samuel and Rachel Bellamy. They were residents of Marion County most of their lives. Samuel died in Knoxville on 12 Feb 1915.
I truly enjoyed Dan Kellams' presentation of his book "A Coaches Life". I also thank you all for the warm welcomes and conversation. Great place to learn about early Marion.
Today we had a fantastic tour of Marion and the Marion Heritage Center. Thanks so much, Lynette!
Civil War drummer boy buried in Marion. His actual drum shown.
Marion Heritage Center model railroad. December 15, 2017
Henry Ganze had an obituary in the Marion Enterprise on August 22, 1924. Are copies of that first/front page accessible? The collection of available copies don't seem to include that date. We have a fairly illegible photocopy. Thanks, Caryn, for any advice you have. John and Miriam
"Marion Invitation Meet - Individual Honors - May 1, 1915 - Won By - Marion F. Robb" ... our Good-Buy Sale is Saturday, 7AM - All Day!