Schools in 1865

 Here is how schools were back in 1865!  ...........

Cedar Valley Times, March 30, 1865
Schools of College and Putnam Townships

PUTNAM TOWNSHIP has six schools, two of which are well taught, one fair and the other three as poor as need be. They have three males and three female teachers each of whom received $25 per month and after they pay $12 per month for board they would each have $13 left as clear gain for twenty days of work.

There are two frame houses which have been once good ones but are dilapidated and much decayed. There are two log houses, one of which looks as if it had been built before the flood. Its history has almost passed out of memory of the oldest inhabitant. They are still using it; they talk of building a new one sometime. In this neighborhood they have built two very respectable churches which are an honor to the neighborhood. These have been built by a few willing hands and benevolent hearts, with less wealth among either of the church memberships than in the school district.

COLLEGE TOWNSHIP has also six school houses and six schools. They pay the same exorbitant wages. In this township there are three old log houses, one old framE and one good "unfinished" brick in Western. Two of the schools have been good ones, two fairly taught and two poor ones as any place need be afflicted with. These last two teachers were within sight of the smoke of the building in which we held our annual institute, that had been gotten up by the labor of weeks and for no other purpose than to improve our teachers and consequently our schools. One of these teachers represented to me that he was sick at the time of institute. I have evidence that he gathered corn all the week. I was at the other school and think it of no possible account. The people are losing both their school and money. I hope the time will soon come when school officials will learn wisdom and watch such cases and report them. We have nine log school houses in our county and five of them are in these two townships. 

The Western school house will be a good one when finished. It is very evident that it has been neglected in consequence of the attention that has been paid to the College. 

The people of these townships should see to it that these old houses are displaced by good ones. Good teachers look after good surroundings and good houses. These are a sure index to the feelings that sustain good schools. There is a great emigration of Bohemians to those two townships who are fast displacing the English by buying farms. There is some talk of establishing a school in College township where they can teach their own language.

WESTERN COLLEGE Western is a village situated in College township 8 miles south of Cedar Rapids and has perhaps 300 or 400 inhabitants. Eight years ago it was a broad, wild and unbroken prairie. Some of the leading men in the United Brethren church determined to locate a school house somewhere in Iowa. They advertised for donations promising that the locality which offered the mnost should have the school. A liberal man in the vicinity offered several hundred acres of land and they located a college upon it. The college grounds cover an area of near ten acres. The enclosure contains the college building and two large boarding halls. The college and one of the other buildings are finished. The other will be finished during the summer. The enclosure has a bordering of several rows of trees with rows planted in several directions from the college buildings. A part of the college grounds is occupied by a nursery. The college with its grounds show taste and culture. All that it wants is a good stream of water to make it like the old pioneer preachers description of the Good world, "a Kentucky of a place." The school has three professors with an average attendance of about 70 students. There have been only two graduates. This is probably owing to the heavy calls of men to enter the country's service. The denomination is intensely Union in its sympathies, and has furnished a large per cent of its students for the war.

... F.W. Reeder, County Superintendent

From the 1875 Iowa Atlas, page 343


Rogers Grove School

We really don't have a lot of information or photos of Rogers Grove School at the Archives Room. If you have photos or info you can share, please send us an email. (Our email is on the right column.)

The earliest mention of the Rogers Grove School we have found was February 25th, 1864, during the civil war from the Cedar Valley Times, a Cedar Rapids newspaper. It announces that the voters have cast their ballots for Abraham Lincoln.

Cedar Valley Times, Cedar Rapids, Thursday, February 25th, 1864
President Making in Putnam Township
     The Union citizens of Putnam Township met at the Rogers' Grove School House on Monday, February 22, 1864, for the purpose of putting in nomination a candidate for the next president. The meeting was called to order by Mr. Arrasmith, and on his motion, James Thompson was elected President and J. Moorhead, Secretary. On motion of Mr. Arrasmith, Abraham Lincoln was unanimously chosen said candidate.
     On motion, it was resolved that the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Cedar Valley Times.
     On motion, the meeting adjourned.
     Joseph Moorhead, Sec'y


Ed Vavra provided this photo with comments, "The original log school was located at the NE corner of the Ivanhoe and Palisades Access Rd.

is the second Rogers Grove school building. This was moved in the late 1920's and the new school constructed in its place. It was located at the NW corner of Ivanhoe Rd and Old School Rd (so named for it)."

 Below are photos of the Rogers Grove School from the Ely History Archives collection. 

The "new" school house was located on the NW corner of Ivanhoe Rd and Old School Rd.
Year the photo was taken is unknown.


Estimated to have been taken in the 1940s. If you can identify any of these children, let us know!


This photo is from about 1981. The school has since been torn down.

The below image is from the 1875 Map of Linn County, State of Iowa (Putnam Township) and in Section 21, near the upper right, is the original location of the Rogers Grove School  and just to the east, the Rogers Grove Church. The church was later the Bohemian Reformed Evangelical Church, a branch of what is now the First Presbyterian Church near Ely. The town of Ely is in the lower left corner.


Dvorak Hardware in Ely

Click the photo to enlarge it - then click again.
DVORAK'S STORE circa 1909

J.C. Dvorak, Hardware, Tinware, Farm Machinery and Pumps. On the side of the building - Moline Wagons. To the left of the man's head - Jewel Stoves and Ranges. On the second building, below the upstairs doors - Moline Wagons and small sign to the right of downstairs door - J.L.Case. The I.O.O.F Lodge met in the rooms above the store (Independent Order of Odd Fellows). Note the wooden slat sidewalks and unpaved street.

JC Dvorak was born February 9 1861 in Luzany, Bohemia and in 1865, came with his parents to Linn County. He worked on his fathers farm and married Mary Cerveny in 1884. In 1888 he began a hardware and farm implement business in Ely which he operated until 1935. He was a prominent member of the Odd Fellows Lodge (IOOF) and served on the City Council and as Ely's Mayor, known as the "barefoot mayor" because he apparently had the habit of going barefoot.

The building on the corner was built jointly by Dvorak and the Ely IOOF Lodge No. 531, each paying half the cost with the understanding that the upstairs would be the Odd Fellows Hall.

Lumir Biderman operated the business from 1938 to 1972. Clary Illian had her pottery there for many years. This is the building that in 2020 is painted black.


Old area photos

Thank you to Sharon Furler for submitting these old photos. Two of them appear to be taken at a school, most likely at the Buresh (originally BureŇ°) School which used to be located just south of the present First Presbyterian Church near Ely, on Spanish Road.

It could be that they are from George Motycka, who used to live near the church and Buresh School.

 Click the photos to enlarge them. Once enlarged, if you click it again,
it may enlarge more!

A teacher and her students (back of the photo says "George Motycka, 1904)

Inside the school. (back of photo says "Charlie, June 17, 1904)

No description on the back of this photo. The women at the top of the photo appears to be the same as in the first photo ... the teacher.

 1911 photo of Buresh School

This 1914 map slice shows where the Buresh School was located in College Township, Section 35.


Men of Ely

Click on the photo to enlarge it.
You may also be able to click on the enlarged photo to make it bigger.

This photo of men in front of a tavern in Ely, complete with their beers, may be familiar to some. Perhaps your parents or grandparents happened to mention who the men in the photo are?

UPDATED: At present the only known identities are:
 - 3rd from the left - Joseph Dvorak (aka JC Dvorak), the "Barefoot Mayor" of Ely, behind the big man's shoulder. He ran Dvorak Implement and Hardware Store on the corner of Dows and Main Streets, across from the present Ely Post Office.  

4th from the left - Ely druggist Joe Lorenc
 - 7th from the left - Probably Louis Francis Konicek, (the tall young man)

We are looking for identities of the other men. Please help us out! If you know where the tavern stood we'd appreciate knowing that as well.