1943 Thrashing Time

Here's a photo sent by Marvin Stastny taken around 1943 at the Lumir Truhlar Farm at threshing time.These women were probably gathered to cook food for the threshing crew. I'll bet there was some good eating going on!

BACK: Margaret Malatek Stastny Havlick ...  Viola Stastny Becieka ... Carrie ?? ...  Fanny Hovorka ... Lenora Truhlar ...Tillie Elias
FRONT" Grandma Halva ?? ... Rita Becieka Kral ... Audrey Stastny Conner Selby ... Matilda Horak Truhlar Stastny sitting on right... Eunice Elias in front..

Photo from Marvin Stastny:
Lenora Truhlar was Rachel Garnant"s mother and my step-aunt.
Tille Elias was Evelyn Stastny"s mother. She was married to Lloyd Stastny. His dad and my dad were half-brothers.
Matilda Stastny was grandmother to Rachel, Lloyd, Audrey, Rita and me.


St. Joseph Day in Ely, 1949

For many years the town of Ely's population consisted mostly of people who originated in what is now known as the Czech Republic. One of Ely's customs was the celebration of St. Joseph's Day on March 19th. St Joseph is the patron saint of the Czech people.

From the Solon Economist, March 24, 1949.Click the article to enlarge it.

Thanks to Ed Vavra for sending the original of this photo for us to see. Ed is the son of "Little Joe" in the photo! Click to enlarge it.

FRONT ROW: Joe W. Kadlec, Joe Denk, Joe Lorenc, Joe Vavra, holding his little grandson, Joe Vavra, son of Mr. & Mrs. Edwin Vavra, Joe Holets, Joe M. Becicka and Joe Simon, Rt. 2, Cedar Rapids.

BACK ROW: Joe Becicka, 2234 Fruitland Blvd, Cedar Rapids, Joe Krivanek, Rt. 2, Cedar Rapids, Joe Hajek, Rt. 2 Solon, Joe Topinka, 200 C Street SW, Cedar Rapids, Joe Stastny, Joe Melsha, Joe Buresh, Rt. 2 Cedar Rapids, Joe Stroleny, Rt. 2 Cedar Rapids, and Joe Zbanek.
Solon Economist, Thursday, March 24, 1949

Ely 'Joes" Observe St. Joseph's Day
By Katherine Worley

Just like the rains seem to uncover mushrooms in the spring, March 19 brought out in our community every man identified by the name of Joseph to take part in a festive celebration honoring the Saint's name.

On Saturday night in the I.O.O.F. lodge hall the Josephs congregated again to observe St. Joseph's day in much the same manner as they have for many years. Business men and retired farmers from miles around gathered to take part in a custom that was brought over from the old country.

The oldest Joseph in Ely, Joseph Becicka, a retired lumberman, is the only man who came over to this country as a child who can remember how the patron saint's day was celebrated in the Czech country. He has told his friends over here that it was the custom in the villages to go out and serenade the Josephs and Josephines and collect a few cents for refreshments. There were always a few fellows who could play instruments, and they went along with the serenaders.

The Ely Josephs for several generations have gone around the town serenading the Josephs and then after gathering up the crowd, would congregate at the lodge hall for refreshments. But now they have eliminated the serenading and had the entire celebration at the hall.

Instigators of the celebration called out the local Odd Fellows band to liven up the occasion and play familiar Czech tunes during the evening.

Joseph Holets, local banker, said he helped to commemorate the patron saint for over 50 years. He played the drum in the band. He remembers when "the boys used to come to the farm to get his father, the late Joseph Holets, Sr., and how he tagged along as a small boy for the whole affair.

Because the Josephs had such a dim future before their 1948 celebration, with no "Little Joes" to carry on as they have been doing for so many generations, Holets offered a $25 war bond to the first little Joseph born in the Ely community.

Just one month from the day the offer was made, a son was born to Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Vavra of Ely, and he became the winner of the bond offer. He was named Joseph after his grandfather, Joseph Vavra, also of Ely. Little Joe Vavra accompanied his grandfather Saturday night and was initiated into the realms of the Josephs on their special day.

Eighteen Josephs attended the affair, twice as many as last year. Several Josephs made a special effort to attend so that the celebration of the saint's day in their honor would not die out in the local community. However, Ely's longtime resident, Joe Novotny, shoe cobbler, Joseph Becicka, Joe Havilicek and Joe Kremenak were unable to attend because of illness. Kremenak remembers that the celebrating at Ely used to start at his home, because there were three Joes in his family, and he has been instrumental in keeping up the precedent.

The entertainment included card playing, visiting with old friends, topped off by dancing and refreshments. For the last three generations the women never attended the celebrating, but this year each Joseph asked his "Mrs." to come along.

The Josephs attending were: Joseph Simon, J.M. Becicka, Joe Holets, Joe Vavra, Joe Lorenc (oldest Joseph attending), Joe Denk, Joe W. Kadlec, Joe Melsha, Joe Statsny, Joe Topinka, Joe Hajek, Joe Krivanek, Joseph Becicka and Little Joe Vavra.

Other Odd Fellow friends in the community also took part in the affair and helped the Josephs celebrate.
Below is a 1953 photo of "Joes" sent by Ed Vavra,
again showing "Little Joe" sitting on his grandfather's lap. 

Joe Stroleny  2. 
FRONT ROW:  1. Joe Kremenak 2.         3. Joseph Holets 4. Joe Vavra with "Little Joe" Vavra on his lap"  5. Joe Simon

Another photo perhaps from 1954/1955?


1923 News Article

If you want to learn about the early history of Ely, here's your chance! Why not take some time and read about the early days. 

(A link to the article is at the bottom of this post.)

The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette published a full page spread on the town of Ely on August 4th, 1923 entitled

"ELY - It's Community One Of The Oldest In County"
- by John R. Battin

(Some of the headings on the page are ...)

Town founded with coming of railroad in 1872
but first settlers near there in 1838.

Samuel Fackler, 93, who came in 1840 recalls stirring events of early days;
Fuhrmeisters also among first who pioneered there, are prominent.
New school house is being built; Town has own light plant;
Say business is good

(J.C.Dvorak) Active in civic affairs; Gained fame as "Barefoot Mayor" when in office ten years ago;
(F.J.Krob) World War Veteran Present Town Executive

Sub-headings are:

(Under Samuel Fackler)
Lives in One-Room Cabin
Simple Diet
Oust Speculators
Met Frontier Justice
Ferried to Cedar Rapids

Mrs. Fuhrmeister, Pioneer
Prominent Family

Goes Barefooted (J.C. Dvorak)
Prominent Odd Fellow
Town Laid Out in 1872

Bank Organized

War Veteran Is Mayor (F.J. Krob) 

Photos are titled
"Some Pioneers and Street Scenes of Ely"
"New Schoolhouse"

 There is also information on many businesses then in Ely.

Click here to access the article.
It is located on Google Drive and if you hover your cursor over it you'll see a "+" sign that you can use to enlarge the article to make it readable.


F.J. Krob 120th Anniversary

F.J. Krob & Company made some ink! They are featured in the Jan/Feb issue of Grain Journal magazine. The article focuses on the original wooden grain elevator in Ely, which was built in 1900.

Read the article on-line!
Old Time Elevator: 120 Years and Counting
F.J. Krob Co. Continues to Operate Ely, IA Elevator for Well Over a Century

 -- by Barbara Krupp-Selyem

 [photo: An early photo of F.J. Krob]


From the article: In 1910, William Howard Taft ... was serving as the 27th president of the United States.. Frank Joseph (F.J.) Krob, and his brother-in-law Wes Fiala bought the Ely elevator from C.S. King, though it wasn't long before Fiala sold his interest to Krob. Now, moer than 110 years, 20 presidents and four generations later, the Krob family continues to own and operated the F.J. Krob elevator at Ely.  (below is the C.S. King Elevator that the Krob's purchased.)

 An old F.J.Krob sign posted recently on Facebook by Charlie Drahos.

1877 Richard Cox Fire

 Ed Vavra posted this on our Facebook page February 19, 2021

Cedar Rapids Times: The Weekly Times

March 15th, 1877

A DISASTROUS FIRE - Wednesday morning of last week, about 4 o'clock, during that fearful cold snow and wind storm, the residence of Richard Scott near Ely, was burned, with all the goods it contained. 

Mr. Scott was awakened by the roaring of the flames and had but barely time to seize the little ones of his household, who were quietly sleeping in their beds, and forcibly threw them out of the door into the storm ere the roof fell in and the house was in ruins. 

The family consists of eight children, ranging in age from 15 to 2 years, and the only articles of clothing they saved was the night clothes they had on, except that the oldest daughter secured one of her dresses.  Fortunately, Scott, in gathering up the children, gathered a portion of the bed clothes with them; otherwise they would have been utterly unprotected from that biting storm.  

Barefooted and naked, except the scanty underclothes and the meager supply of bed clothing they secured, the little ones wended their way to Mr. G. C. Stream's, where they were hospitably provided for. 

Mr. Scott lost his wife about a year ago, and he was struggling along as best he could to keep his family together.  Being a man of very limited means, the loss falls heavily upon him.  But we are glad to know that the good people of Ely and vicinity are making a successful effort to partially, at least, replace the loss.
Ed's note: Mr. Scott was 42 years old at the time of the fire He and his wife, Priscilla (born Cox), were married in 1854 and lived about 100 yards south of Wright Brothers Blvd (half way between Spanish Rd and Ely Rd).  Both were pioneers of this area before Iowa became a state in 1846.

After the 1877 fire, the home was rebuilt closer to the road where Mr. Scott lived until he remarried in 1887; at which time he relocated to the Palo area. He died at the home of one of his children in 1917.

Despite the hardships of life, Mr. Scott was known to be a good and kind-hearted man. As one story goes, Mr. Scott took his friend and neighbor George Clarkson into his home after the death of Mrs. Clarkson.  Mr. Clarkson was penniless and lived out his days with the Scott family until his death. 

The stone in Rogers Grove Cemetery marks his resting spot and is inscribed "Erected by Richard Scott".

Richard Scott was buried in East Fairview Cemetery, Lenox, Taylor County, Iowa. His first wife is buried in the woods West of Ely.

Information from the cemetery page states, "Richard Scott was born Aug. 5, 1834 in Ireland and died Dec. 31, 1917 in Adams Co., Iowa. He married Priscilla Cox Oct. 12, 1854 at Putnam, Linn Co., Iowa.