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
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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.

The 22nd annual Art by Your Friends and Neighbors opens this weekend at the Marion Heritage Center! At this FREE event, ...
05/19/2023

The 22nd annual Art by Your Friends and Neighbors opens this weekend at the Marion Heritage Center! At this FREE event, come admire 51 works of art by some of our community’s talented citizens. Many of the pieces are for sale. We’ll be open from 9 am - 5 pm both Saturday and Sunday.

05/03/2023

Four days until A Step Back in Time, the Marion Heritage Center 2023 House Walk! Please join us on Sunday, May 7, from 1-5 pm to see inside 1325 8th Ave, 1820 8th Ave, 1649 8th Ave, 1425 8th Ave, and 524 10th St., in any order. Tickets are $20 for individuals and $30 for a pair. They will be available from Thursday through Saturday, 1-3 pm, on Sunday afternoon at the Heritage Center, or the day of the event at any of the homes. Docents from the OOP Club will tell guests about the history of the homes. Contact Robyn at the Heritage Center at 319-447-6376 for questions.

04/29/2023

Here’s the correct details on the House Walk. It is on Sunday, May 7, from 1 pm to 5 pm. Tickets, which will be the brochure about the houses on the tour, will be available Thursday, May 4 - Saturday, May 6, at the Heritage Center, or on the day of the event at the Heritage Center or at any of the houses:

1. 1325 8th Ave
2. 1425 8th Ave
3. 1649 8th Ave
4. 1820 8th Ave or
5. 524 10th St

We will have docents from the OOP Club inside the homes to guide visitors and share stories about the residence.

Help the Heritage Center bring in a little cash! During the month of November, the Marion Hy-Vee is selling red, reusabl...
10/20/2022

Help the Heritage Center bring in a little cash! During the month of November, the Marion Hy-Vee is selling red, reusable "My Heart Bags for $2.50 each. They will donate $1 to our organization!

07/29/2022

Come join us for our Race Car exhibit, opening on Saturday, August 6. Doors open at 1 pm. David Wendell, local historian, will be showing his model racing cars, some signed by Nascar drivers! We will be showing "Days of Thunder," starring Tom Cruise, beginning at 3:30 pm. There will also be an electronic car for the kids to play with. The exhibit will be open through October 15, is open to the public, and is free!!

See what our friends at the African-American Museum are up to!
07/29/2022

See what our friends at the African-American Museum are up to!

Meet your History Makers: Diana Henry!

Ms. Henry taught for over 30 years before retirement. Some of her accomplishments include receiving the Ruby Ayres-Barbara Heidger Award in 1997 for International Understanding sponsored by the Johnson County United Nations Association, the Iowa Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year award in 2001 from the Iowa Council of Social Studies. She was honored in Who’s Who Among American Teachers, 1999-2000 and 2005-2006. In 2015 she received the Stride Towards Progress Award for loyalty, dedication, and hard work in Iowa City. She was recognized in 2018 by the Unitarian Universalist Society with the Courageous Love Award for dauntless love through words and deeds. She received the Black Lives Matter at School in Iowa City award 2020, sponsored by the Beloved Community Initiative.

Join us in congratulating Diana Henry at the AAMI's on Thursday, September 29 (https://blackiowa.org/events/gala/)

Just two blocks from here, this history is part of what they've found!
07/23/2022

Just two blocks from here, this history is part of what they've found!

07/23/2022

The Board of Directors would like to invite folks to our Annual Meeting on Thur., July 28, from 4-5 pm. Light refreshments will be served from 3:30-4 at the Heritage Center. Come join us as we elect new officers, present the year’s final budget, and discover what we’ve been up to in 2022.

Director Robyn Ireland represented the Heritage Center, sharing a table with the Friends of the Oak Shade Cemetery at th...
07/23/2022

Director Robyn Ireland represented the Heritage Center, sharing a table with the Friends of the Oak Shade Cemetery at this year's Linn County Fair's Community Days on Friday, June 24. Rodger Keleher relieved Jay Kacena (behind the camera) for a couple of hours. Rodger belongs to both organizations. Thank goodness we were in air conditioning that day as temps reached 86 outside!

07/23/2022

The Board of Directors would like to invite folks to our Annual Meeting on Thur., July 28, from 4-5 pm. Light refreshments will be served from 3:30-4 at the Heritage Center. Come join us as we elect new officers, present the year’s final budget, and the 2022 Annual Report.

If you're looking for something to do next weekend, join our friends at the Central City Historical Society for their Pi...
07/22/2022

If you're looking for something to do next weekend, join our friends at the Central City Historical Society for their Pioneer Days!

The Brown Farm (one mile East of Central City on Co. Rd E-16) is part of the CC Historical Society.

There's still time to come vote for your favorite piece of art in our "Art by Your Friends and Neighbors" exhibit! We ha...
07/08/2022

There's still time to come vote for your favorite piece of art in our "Art by Your Friends and Neighbors" exhibit! We have over 50 pieces on display. These are only a few examples of the beauty we have in the gallery. The top three winners will be awarded $100 each. The show is sponsored by our friends at Hills Bank. Open until July 30, we are open Thursday through Saturday from 1 pm to 4 pm.

Our friends at The Granger House are looking for vendors and visitors for their Open Air Market on August 6!
07/08/2022

Our friends at The Granger House are looking for vendors and visitors for their Open Air Market on August 6!

Good afternoon!

Do you make hand-made goodies? Sell antiques, DIY or repurposed items? Food and/or coffee vendor? Sell unique items? Weren't able to join us last time due to other commitments? If so, it's time to reserve your vendor spot at our annual Open Air Market! This year's event will be held on the museum grounds on Saturday, August 6th from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. Each vendor will have a 10' x 10' space and we will do the advertising. It's a great day to be outside, meet new people, make some extra money and do some networking! Feel free to share this information with any vendor friends and family as well.

Please follow the reservation link below to get signed up!
https://checkout.square.site/buy/DTZOVTYBMFRSZOXHKSPLMK6S

If you have any questions or you want to ensure that there isn't already a certain vendor product signed up (ie: Color Street, Scentsy, Paparazzi, DotDot Smile, Usborne Books -- just to name a few), please email us at [email protected] and someone will respond to you within 12 hours.

Thank you!

Our friends at The Granger House are looking for three more characters! What could be more fun than a murder mystery in ...
07/08/2022

Our friends at The Granger House are looking for three more characters! What could be more fun than a murder mystery in a haunted Victorian Museum?

UPDATE: Our Clueless Murder Mystery event has SOLD OUT! We are looking forward to seeing everyone Saturday for a night of mystery and intrigue!

07/07/2022

A presentation by local historian David Wendell on the history of racing and "Days of Thunder" are also part of the day's events!

07/07/2022

If you love race cars, come visit us on Aug. 6 for a brand new exhibit! Many of them are signed by drivers!!

We are delighted to announce a new event at the Marion Heritage Center this spring. On Sunday, April 10, we invite you t...
03/28/2022

We are delighted to announce a new event at the Marion Heritage Center this spring. On Sunday, April 10, we invite you to join us in commemorating the 110th anniversary of the Titanic sinking and the 25th anniversary release of the movie.

Local historian David V Wendell will present “Iowa’s Titanic Legacy,” as well share artifacts from his personal collection.

The schedule of events is as follows:
1:30 pm: doors on the exhibit will open at
2 pm: “Iowa’s Titanic Legacy,” Wendell’s lecture
3 pm: movie starts, with an intermission halfway through

Desserts will be served all afternoon.

Visit our website: https://marionheritagecenter.org/exhibits/titanic-presentation-movie/

09/21/2021

We’re excited to partner with the Marion Historical Society & Marion Heritage Center for its upcoming energy history exhibit! The exhibit will tell the history of energy from horseback bandits stopping coal trains to Iowans using peat for power to generating clean energy from the wind and sun to power homes and businesses. Thank you to the Marion Heritage Center & Museum for all you do to serve the community, we look forward to being part of the exhibit this fall!

Over 60 members and friends joined me at our retirement ice cream social on Sunday.  Thank you all for coming and making...
08/30/2021

Over 60 members and friends joined me at our retirement ice cream social on Sunday. Thank you all for coming and making it a memorable day. My appreciation also goes to those who could not come but shared their best wishes. It's been an enjoyable 9 years and I'm looking forward to seeing you soon as a member and regular volunteer.

08/10/2021

Congratulations to the People's Choice Award winners from the 2021 Art by Your Friends and Neighbors exhibit at the Marion Heritage Center & Musuem. Special thanks to sponsor Hills Bank and Trust Company for providing cash prizes to our winners. The annual art exhibit marked its 20th anniversary in 2021. Due to derecho damage at the museum, a virtual gallery was shown on the Marion Heritage Center & Museum's website. First place honors went to Giora Neta for his glass on wood "Coffee Table." Second place to Patsi Gann for her "Mt. Shasta" photograph. Third place is the photograph "Pastel Robin" by Roger Wolken. To view the full gallery: www.marionheritagecenter.org

07/28/2021

Last chance to view the Heritage Center's ART show this week. See the on-line 20th Annual ART by Your Friends & Neighbors exhibition. Continues through July 30. Remember to vote and thank our sponsor: Hills Bank.
Support and like our work It's YOURS! ...become a member today or give a donation they're welcomed and appreciated.

06/28/2021

Annual Membership Meeting Notice

Dear Members & Friends,

Marion Historical Society, Inc.

Date: Thursday, July 29, 2021

Social Gathering: 3:30 p.m.

Meeting Begins: 4:00 p.m.

Place: Marion Heritage Center & Museum
590th 10th St., Marion, Iowa

Purpose: Board of Directors Report by Jay Kacena, President
Financial Report by Nevin Meredith, Treasurer
Marion Heritage Center Report by Lynette Brenzel,
Executive Director

06/24/2021

DIRECTOR TO RETIRE.

Lynette Brenzel, the Executive Director of the Marion Heritage Center & Museum has announced her retirement at the end of August. Brenzel has planned and directed the Marion Historical Society's operations for the past nine years, including exhibits and programs on former Marion leaders, oldest businesses, the railroads and the Lincoln Highway. In 2019 she collaborated with Rockwell retirees and other local groups to bring the Arthur A. Collins Story to life on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. She served as a regular volunteer for the the Granger House and the UI Museum of Natural History before coming to the Marion Heritage Center.

Society president Jay Kacena said, "Replacing Lynette will be difficult. We wish her well in her future endeavors. I know they will be as beneficial for the community as the passed nine years".

The Marion Historical Society, Inc. is a membership organization that seeks to preserve and celebrate the history of Marion, Iowa. A description of the part-time position can be found at [www.]marionheritagecenter.org. APPLY on line or mail resume to P.O. Box 753, Marion, Iowa 52302-0753

The Marion Heritage Center ART Show Goes On Line 2021 marks TWENTY years that “Art by Your Friends and Neighbors” has be...
04/11/2021

The Marion Heritage Center ART Show Goes On Line
2021 marks TWENTY years that “Art by Your Friends and Neighbors” has been exhibited at the Marion Heritage Center. Over the years, the artistic creations of hundreds of local artists, as well as the work of many former citizen/painters and artisans have adorned the walls and display cases of our gallery. Artists like Maria Gerstman, George Glass and Emma Safely of Springville, to name a few.

Last year, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, on the very day it was to open, the exhibit was closed and moved to the internet. This year, damage caused by the August derecho, yet to be repaired, has dictated the same solution: Art by Your Friends and Neighbors 2021 can be seen on line beginning April 7th.
As in the past, some of the art in this show is for sale. In addition, visitors are invited to cast a vote for their favorite painting, photograph or other entry. The top three vote-getters will earn a $75 prize from the exhibit sponsor, Hills Bank and Trust Company.

Although voting to identify the top three most popular ends at 5 pm on July 30th, the art will be available for viewing until the next exhibit opens. Please help recognize our local artists by casting your vote. Go to: www.marionheritagecenter.org

Thank you for your support by joining Hy-Vee Reusable Bag Program.  What a wonderful way to support non-profits in the a...
03/07/2021

Thank you for your support by joining Hy-Vee Reusable Bag Program. What a wonderful way to support non-profits in the area. Our name was registered in 2020.

We are the recipients this month for Hy-Vee's reusable bag program!! If you purchase a reusable red bag at the Marion Hy-Vee during the month of March, our YMCA receives a $1 donation for each bag sold! Proceeds will go directly towards funding our scholarship assistance campaign that provides over $1M each year to help those who cannot afford our full program and membership fees so that no one is turned away at the Y.

Support the Marion Historical Society, Inc. and the Marion Heritage Center & Musuem by shopping at AmazonSmile.  When yo...
03/07/2021

Support the Marion Historical Society, Inc. and the Marion Heritage Center & Musuem by shopping at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate to the Marion Historical Society, Inc. Support us every time you shop. Share with your friends and like us on Facebook.com. Thank you!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate to Marion Historical Society Incorporated. Support us every time you shop.

As we start the calendar year and put the roof repairs behind us I wanted to reminder our members how grateful we are fo...
02/16/2021

As we start the calendar year and put the roof repairs behind us I wanted to reminder our members how grateful we are for receiving funding this year from the Iowa Arts and Culture Emergency Relief Fund and the Capacity Building Grant fund administered by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, through last year's Federal CARES Act. The grants help support operating costs and will help us prepare to reopen in the Fall.



Like the Iowa Arts Council on Facebook at Iowa Arts Council

Excuse the mess in front but we have a new roof going up!  Here are some photos from last week before the snow.  The guy...
12/17/2020

Excuse the mess in front but we have a new roof going up! Here are some photos from last week before the snow. The guys will finish shingling at the end of the week after the sun melts the snow off the roof.

Credit Governor Theodore Roosevelt with signing the first bicycle side path law into effect in 1899.  It provided for th...
11/07/2020

Credit Governor Theodore Roosevelt with signing the first bicycle side path law into effect in 1899. It provided for the establishment of side path commissions in any NY county upon the petition of 50 residents. They could negotiate, build and contract for the maintenance of paths in their counties, funded by a license fee on users of up to $1/year. Unlicensed users were subject to a fine of $25 or even jail. The side path movement rapidly spread westward based on the NY model, largely through the strong support of the powerful League of American Wheelmen (LAW). Similar laws were passed in PA, OH and MI. Many observers expected Iowa lawmakers to approve similar legislation, but time ran out. Automobiles exploded onto the scene and the bicycle mania cooled. The roads vs. side paths-debate was settled in favor of cars and roads. Bicycles were reduced to the status of primarily a children's toy. It would be nearly 60 years before the idea of bike trails was revived.

With the physical fitness boom that started in the early 1960's and growing environmental movement, bicycles became popular again with both young and old. Bike sales doubled almost every year and voters demanded safe paths away from automobile traffic for themselves and their children. The first modern bike trail or "bikeway" was constructed in Homestead, FL in 1962. The federal government got into the act in 1966 when the Department of the Interior granted $367,000 to 12 communities to get paths started, including Omaha, Chicago and Milwaukee here in the Midwest. That same year Wisconsin created the first bikeway to span a state, connecting 65 miles of back roads and 267 miles of an abandoned railroad line. The use of unused RR right-of-ways was swiftly adopted by other states, especially after Congress deregulated the industry in 1980 and the companies started abandoning thousands of miles of unprofitable lines every year. The Iowa Legislature showed its support for trails in Apr. 1970 with passage of the Recreational Bikeways Bill, designating $10,000 for planning bikeways over scenic and backroads here. Iowa was especially well positioned to take advantage of the "Rails to Trails" movement with its almost unparalleled network of lines crisscrossing the State, but, as in the 19th century, there was strong pushback from the Ag community.

The 19th century bicycle path movement had lasting effects. The organization and lobbying efforts of Good Roads members ultimately produced our modern roads and highways, road-laws and the funding system we have today. Many of our common sense regulations originated with the wheelmen--for example, wide tire laws mandating that every vehicle be equipped with tires of a width commensurate with its weight and carrying capacity, and laws mandating the transport by trains and buses of passengers' bicycles. Next time: our newest trail: Dows-Maniti.

The Drew & White Cycle Co., Marion's leading bicycle shop, was responsible for stimulating the strong local interest in ...
11/04/2020

The Drew & White Cycle Co., Marion's leading bicycle shop, was responsible for stimulating the strong local interest in bike racing and "centuries" (100-mile, 1-day rides) at the end of the 19th century, through the store's sponsorships, innovative marketing and the strength of co-owner Charley Drew's personality. The store didn't survive the cutthroat competition that came with the tremendous increase in bicycle production nationally c.a. 1896-97 and the departure of co-owner Cheney White for college and Drew himself for the Klondike gold fields shortly thereafter, but the company left a lasting legacy in its support for the Good Roads movement and local bike trails.

In the Spring of 1896 Drew & White organized a subscription among the local wheelmen and hired James Graham, the Iowa dealer for "Champion" graders, to rework the Marion Boulevard/ First Ave. bike trail to Cedar Rapids. Frost heaving, spring runoff and sabotage by bordering farmers had largely erased the original trail. Graham repeated the job on the Old Marion Road trail, completing a circuit for racing and offering up twice the fun for CR and Marion riders. Graham started his own retail bicycle business in the Spring of 1896, The Marion Bicycle Exchange. Patrons could buy or rent bicycles and get them repaired. He sold the store to James Crowner in March 1897 and moved to Iowa City where he became a salesman for the Iowa branch of the Domestic Remedy Company, purveyors of Rork's Badger Remedies. He later moved to CR and became a real estate agent. Crowner had no better luck in the bike business and moved to Springville at the end of the '97 season to work in a hardware store. See Graham at Find a Grave memorial #140967522.

In the Spring of 1897 the Marion Good Roads Club hired Samuel Smoyer (1844-1923) to grade a bicycle path from Marion to Iowa City via CR with a side road to the Upper Palisades. Smoyer operated a Marion dray line 1893-1898 hauling freight and baggage. He returned to his former occupation in 1898, hotel management, leasing the Biggs House in Marion--"The best dollar-a-day house in Iowa." Later he moved to Lemars and Sioux City where he also managed hotels. See Smoyer at Find a Grave memorial # 9787046. His daughter Fannie (1863-1890) was an early bicycle fan. Sadly, she died in Elgin, IL from injuries in a freak accident with a horse-drawn streetcar while riding her bicycle when her dress was caught in the wiffletree. Sam and Fannie are both in Oak Shade.

In June, 1897 the Good Roads Club contracted with Virgil A. Lathrop (1837-1919) to grade and maintain a trail down to Bertram. Lathrop was a leading local farmer and long-time resident, and at age 60, Marion's most senior wheelman. The old settler had considered bicycling a young man's game at first but he was induced to try it and changed his mind, pronouncing bikes, "indispensable" around the house and farm; furthermore, he would not be out-done by any Cedar Rapids bike-riding grand pops! (Marion Pilot, September 3, 1896) See Lathrop at Find a Grave memorial # 106885146. He's in Oak Shade too. Next time: Theodore Roosevelt solves the bicycle trail funding quandary.

Bicycles became a phenomenal "craze" c.a. 1895, after prices became affordable for the middle class and women took up th...
10/31/2020

Bicycles became a phenomenal "craze" c.a. 1895, after prices became affordable for the middle class and women took up the sport. Bike stores sprouted in Marion like mushrooms and every shop that could advertised bicycle clothing, shoes and accessories.

In Aug. 1895 Charley Drew and Cheney White opened a bike shop on 11th St. near 4th Ave. It was Marion's premier bike shop while it lasted. Drew was athletic, carefree, talkative and much admired among the town's wheel fraternity. Credit him with stimulating local interest in bike racing, "centuries" (100-mile, 1-day rides) and the Good Roads movement through the store's sponsorships and his own personal efforts. The Drew & White Cycle Co. was also responsible for bringing the famous Fowler Sextet to Marion. The partnership dissolved in Sept. 1896 when White left for college. Drew organized a machine shop and foundry in Tama, the Twin City Machine & Bicycle Works, and announced plans to manufacture 500 bicycles/year, but it's not clear the venture ever got off the ground. Gold was discovered in the Yukon in NW Canada in 1896 and Drew moved to Seattle, a jumping off-point for the Klondike. In the Spring of 1898 he joined the stampede North, along with several other Marionites, including Frank and Jackson Starbuck. They returned a lot poorer but wiser at the end of the season.

Charles E. Drew (1873-1940) was born in NY, the youngest of four sons of George and Harriet (Spitzer) Drew. George Drew was a farmer with a wanderlust who moved his family back and forth across the country many times, with stops in this area long enough for Charles' older brother, Albert, to be born in Lisbon and Frank to graduate from Marion High School. In between there were stops in NY, VA and IL. Charles attended MHS too, but the family moved to Elgin, IL before he graduated. Marion must have left a good impression though because George and Hattie bought property here, including several lots on Central Ave. and a family plot in Oak Shade Cemetery. Drew stayed on the NW Coast when the gold fever diminished. The 1920 census records him single and working as a carpenter in a Seattle shipyard; he was still a carpenter and single in 1930. We haven't located his grave but see Frank Drew (MHS, 1898) with links to his parents and other brothers at Find a Grave memorial #137298964.

Cheney L. White (1877-1902) was an 1895 alum of Marion H.S. He attended Coe College for two years after leaving the bike business before deciding on a career in medicine. He transferred to the UI and then the prestigious Chicago Homeopathic Medical College. He suffered a bout of pneumonia in 1900 and never completely recovered, dying just a month before graduation. He's in Oak Shade too. See him at Find a Grave memorial # 19924049.

The Fowler Sextet was 6-man bicycle built by the Fowler Cycle Company of Chicago in 1896. The Co. sent the machine all over the US to fairs, parades and bicycle dealers to promote their "truss frame" design. The sextet created a sensation when it challenged the Empire State Express, the fastest train in the world, to a race in 1896. The bicycle's inventor claimed 100 mph was achievable but it was never clocked over 38 mph. The $3,000 machine came to Marion May 15-18, 1896 and attracted hundreds of gawkers. There was talk of taking it for a spin but unfortunately rainy weather made the roads unsafe.

Marion organized its first bicycle club, the "Marion Wheelmen," in Apr. 1892, but riding remained almost exclusively an ...
10/28/2020

Marion organized its first bicycle club, the "Marion Wheelmen," in Apr. 1892, but riding remained almost exclusively an activity for Marion's male elite until safety bicycles were introduced (bikes with equal-sized wheels) and prices declined c.a. 1895. Then women joined and bicycles became a craze like no one had ever seen! Enthusiasts demanded better roads and dedicated bike paths that took them around the county to other cities and popular recreation sites.

The first local bicycle trail was constructed in the Spring of 1895. It paralleled Marion Boulevard and followed First Avenue into Cedar Rapids. It was constructed with a drag scraper pulled by a team of horses and took about one week to complete. The path ranged from 18 to 24 in. wide and cost under $20. The effort was funded by an unidentified "well-known Cedar Rapids RR man" and member of the CR cycling club. He had grown tired of talking about trails and funded the job himself. If he sought permission from township road authorities it's not evident from news accounts. Following the public right-of-way avoided the issue of infringing on private property.

No sooner was the Marion-CR bike trail finished than racing began between the cities. A couple of "scorchers" had the record down to just 17 minutes by the end of the summer. Completion of the trail along Old Marion Road made a complete circuit and added another racing venue.

Twilight bicycle trips between Marion and CR became the rage among the young people of both communities. Plans were quickly implemented to extend the trails up and down the Cedar River to the Palisades and other popular resorts, and in every direction across the county. In some places, to reduce costs, they were limited to the sandy sections of roads where travel was difficult, in which case a narrow "side path" was constructed, its surface amended with clay or cinders to make pedaling easier.

Rural residents hated the bike trails. The silent flashing wheels frightened horses and upset livestock. Frolicking bikers were met with hostility, and farmers sabotaged the paths by driving wagons on it, especially after rains, leaving deep ruts and hoof-prints. "Pure, unadulterated devilry" is how the Marion Sentinel editor described the acts of boys caught burying tack-studded pieces of cardboard on the bike path in Kenwood. Riders were stopped with multiple tire punctures. (Marion Sentinel; May 2, 1895)

Ulysses Grant Byerly (1866-1915), Marion's long-time barber and partner in the new Byerly & Brain bicycle store organized the Marion Bicycle Club in the Spring of 1895. Members contributed $1.50 each to hire a man to help maintain the trails. Contributors received a tag to display on their bikes, giving them free access, but "moochers" were discouragingly common and whatever maintenance was conducted, it only lasted until the next thunderstorm or act of vandalism. Byerly helped maintain the trails through his own personal efforts.

Byerly's partner in the bike store, Henry James Brain (1855-1920), an immigrant from England via Miles, IA, didn't stay in town long--competition and rapidly declining bike prices drove him to open a new store in Des Moines in 1896, but he did introduce us to his youngest daughter, three year-old Anna Ward Brain (1892-1977), who was said to be the youngest rider in the U.S.

See U. G. Byerly at Find a Grave memorial #74962815. H. J. Brain can be found at #94650049. We'll continue the trails story next time.

"Wanted--One thousand mice on or before June 30th.  I will pay one cent apiece for them.  George H. Cardell."  (June 16,...
10/26/2020

"Wanted--One thousand mice on or before June 30th. I will pay one cent apiece for them. George H. Cardell." (June 16, 1897; Marion Register) You stumble across the craziest things sometimes reading old newspapers. . . that's one of the bigger mysteries we've seen in a while. The ad ran all month; no word on if Cardell got them. What would the owner of an uptown hardware store do with 1,000 mice? I assume he wanted them alive; I suspect a 4th of July activity we may not want to know about. Any ideas?

George Cardell (1867-1924) was born in Syracuse, NY and came here to Iowa with his family when he was just a toddler. His father found work in the Des Moines real estate business. George entered into a partnership with Marion's G. W. Toms, Jr. in the Toms & Cardell hardware store in July, 1895. Family connections helped. His older sister, Clara, was married to Toms. George took over management in Dec. 1895 when Toms became president of the Farmers & Merchants Bank, and operated until June 1899 when he sold out to Harry Toms & Ben Strobel. He tried real estate briefly before moving to Chicago. The 1910 census records him in Reno, NV in the sheet metal business, and in Mobile, Alabama in 1920, still in sheet metal. He died there. He was married to Ella Godden of Tipton. They had no children. See him at Find a Grave memorial # 9904349. He's in Oak Shade.

We were invited to visit the old Cedar Springs Hotel at the Upper Palisades just weeks before its demolition in 2009 and...
10/24/2020

We were invited to visit the old Cedar Springs Hotel at the Upper Palisades just weeks before its demolition in 2009 and took these photos. She was still impressive and showed traces of her former glory despite the floods and years of decline.

Quarry work was hard and dangerous, turnover was high.  Local newspapers published regular want ads from the Palisades S...
10/21/2020

Quarry work was hard and dangerous, turnover was high. Local newspapers published regular want ads from the Palisades Stone Co. seeking workers and promising "good board and pay." Owner-manager Mike Haisler put them up at Cedar Springs Hotel, which he had purchased along with the quarry. It was the beginning of the end of the summer hotel as a "respectable" house. . . upper class vacationers didn't mix well with the low class roughnecks. The hotel ceased operating as a public establishment c.a. 1902 or '03 it and was given over entirely to boarding the quarrymen.

Haisler's Milwaukee partners weren't satisfied with their returns, and in Apr. 1901 they put the Palisades Stone Company up for sale. Haisler offered $34,000 and took control. He entered into a partnership with George E. Smith of Chicago, but Smith sold his interest to George A. Gregg (1844-1903), co-owner and V-P of the Mt. Vernon quarry in 1902. In July of '02 Gregg dissolved the partnership and sued Haisler alleging he was incurring heavy debts and Haisler wasn't contributing his share of time or money. He wanted $925. The workers weren't getting paid either and went on strike. Haisler came through with the funds in the end, but the quarry and hotel closed for good in July, 1903.

A Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter visited Cedar Springs in Aug. 1908 and found the hotel deserted, aside from "Spear" Harman (1841-1923), a retired local farmer and Civil War vet, perched on the veranda with his fiddle. He had played for square dances at the hotel in its glory days, but now he only performed for a colony of bats roosting in the building, and an occasional visitor up from the Lower Palisades to meet the legendary storyteller. Strains of the Arkansas Traveler echoed weirdly through the hotel's dark and dusty passages. The rooms retained most of their furnishings--ownership had been mired in litigation since 1903. (Cedar Rapids Gazette; August 27, 1908) It would take another three years to settle the case.

Haisler died in 1911 and the hotel came into the possession of Lula and Frances Skillman. In 1912 Adolf Biderman purchased the property from them and reopened the resort. The Bidermans operated the hotel until 1938, when it finally closed; they continued running the restaurant on the ground floor until 1965.

Michael J. Haisler, Sr. (1836-1911) was born in Germany and came to this country with his parents when he was just a toddler. They settled in Milwaukee where Mike grew up, married and raised ten children. The census records him as a butcher (1860) and later an ice dealer, a cartage or transfer contractor and a quarry manager. He also entered public service, serving as Chairman of the Milwaukee County Board c.a. 1888 and V-P for the Milwaukee Asylum for the Chronically Insane c.a. 1903, and a Trustee for same, c.a. 1907. See Haisler at Find a Grave memorial # 132165908. See Harman at memorial # 42156022. George A. Gregg is at # 121950748. Biderman is at # 95263489.

Address

590 10th Street
Marion, IA
52302

Opening Hours

Wednesday 1pm - 4pm
Thursday 1pm - 4pm
Friday 1pm - 4pm
Saturday 1pm - 4pm
Sunday 1pm - 4pm

Telephone

+13194476376

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