Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts


First lots sold in Ely

 From a Facebook post by Ed Vavra

On June 5, 1872, the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Minnesota Railroad Co. treasurer, John F. Ely, signed over land owned by the railroad for public use as the village of Ely.

The town had been platted into 6 residential blocks consisting of 18 lots each. 3 blocks along each side of the railroad tracks were platted for businesses.

The first lot purchased was by Wesley Svacha on June 29th, 1872 for $100. Svacha would build a home and harness shop on this land where the library now sits.  He sold the house and harness business to Wesley Valenta in 1880.

House and harness shop (left) built by Wesley Svacha and sold to Wesley Valenta. This photo was taken in 1895 and shows the 3rd owners of the property, the Frank Hanzlik family. This was on land where the Ely Library is today.


The second lot was purchased for $1 by the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church whose congregation had built a church East of Ely around 1859. They had hoped to increase attendance and financial support and moved their building into town. Lack of a permanent preacher and no new membership forced the church to close in 1885.  Members of the St. John’s Lutheran church south of Ely purchased the building for $225 in 1886; this congregation still worships here today.

St. Johns Lutheran Church building around 1910. This building was originally built by a
Methodist congregation and located east of Ely.


John Dolezal built a saloon on a lot on the northwest corner of Dows and Walker streets.  He advertised a dance in his "newly furnished saloon" to be held on November 25, 1872. In addition to his saloon, Dolezal was also an early farm implement dealer in Ely until his death in 1879. His saloon was purchased by Frank Poduska in 1876 who operated it for the next 25 years.

 Poduska Saloon on Walker St. (far left) looking to the north from Dows St.

As Ely grew, men with an entrepreneurial spirit came from surrounding towns hoping to make their fortunes offering the business and services a new town would need.  Most of these "outsiders" did not make it long and the Bohemian presence in the surrounding area moved in to fill these needs as Ely grew over the next 20 years.


Linn County history links

Thank you to Michael Clark for calling to tell us we had a mistake in one of our links! It has now been fixed. Micheal descends from the early Clark family in Putnam township.

The error was the link to "People in Putnam Township" in the following ....

(Places to search on-line)

*The History of Linn County (1878-1878)   812 Pages
*Pioneer Life In and Around Cedar Rapids - (1839-1839)   258 Pages (you will need to log in to to view this)
*1907 Linn County Atlas - (1907-1907)   175 Pages

 Early Clark family photos from the 1907 Linn County Atlas (click the photo to enlarge it)


First Presbyterian Church Near Ely

The church prior to 1893 - click to enlarge 

Around 1856 immigrant families from Bohemia began meeting in their homes on Sunday for simple worship services using prayers and song books they had carried with them from the "old country".  They helped their German neighbors build the Banner Valley Lutheran Church (located at Ely Rd and Hoosier Creek Rd) which was dedicated in 1859.  As thanks for their help, the congregation allowed them to use the church buildings on Sunday afternoon.  

By October of 1860 the families had secured a minister from their homeland to lead their services. Rev. FrantiĊĦek Kun dutifully served his people and the community in these early years and after the Civil War ended, he called upon them to build a church of their own. Funds were raised and the cornerstone laid in 1867.  By July of 1868 the building was completed on the ground where the First Presbyterian Church cemetery now sits west of Ely.  The church was a simple structure, 30 by 40 feet with 3 windows in each side and 2 doors in front - one for the men and the other for women.  

Originally, the church was called the "First Bohemian & Moravian Brethren Church".

In 1883 the church was moved 1 mile north to its current location and in the fall of 1893 the church was expanded to include a balcony and bell tower.  The bell first tolled for Rev. Kun's death in January of 1894 where over 1000 people from the Midwest attended his funeral. 

In the following years the Chadima or "West Church" branch was started to serve the people of Swisher and the Rogers Grove Church was purchased and used to serve those East of Ely - all served by the same minister from the "Mother church", now almost 50 years old.

The church and congregation in late 1920s / early 30s - click to enlarge

Over the next 50 years descendants of the first families still made up much of the congregation and until the 1950s services were conducted in the Czech language.  The year 1958 brought big changes; first the congregation joined the Presbyterian church and became known as the First Presbyterian Church near Ely.  The other event was a major addition where Sunday school rooms and a modern kitchen were added as the church celebrated its centennial. 

The history and heritage of this church and its first minister, Rev Kun, is unique. It has a very special place in Czech-American history as the first Bohemian/Moravian independent church in the United States. The same building that is at the center of the current structure is mostly unchanged over the years and the Czech spirit that built it is still as strong as ever. 

In August 2008 the church that started out as the Bohemian and Moravian Brethren Church celebrated its dedication after 150 years of prosperity and serving the Ely community. A special service and potluck were planned. Descendants of the original families still can be found on membership rolls where they and other faithful families are still carrying on the work that was started so long ago.

Taken after the 150th Anniversary celebration at First Presbyterian Church near Ely in August of 2008.

**Note: Also view a bit of history about this church at


Banner Valley and the Fuhrmeister Family

On April 15, 2021 Dan and Debbie's Creamery of Ely posted a story on their blog: 

"THE TOUCHBERRY LEGACY WILL LIVE ON; The historical Fuhrmeister Farm on the south side of Ely, Iowa becomes a permanent part of our family’s journey to sustainability on our dairy farm and creamery.
(Please click the link to read the story.)

Carolyn (Fuhrmeister) Touchberry and her husband, Bob Touchberry.

The Fuhrmeister Family are Ely area pioneers. Christopher Fuhrmeister came from Germany and bought land south of Ely in 1838. He then returned to Germany and brought his family over.

From THE CEDAR RAPIDS REPUBLICAN, Thursday, December 14, 1905.
(A.J..Fuhrmiester obituary)

His father, Christopher Fuhrmeister, was .... a wagon maker and meeting with reverses, came to this country to recoup in the mill business. He crossed the ocean several times before removing his family here and was a great admirer of General Jackson, naming his son (Andrew Jackson Fuhrmeister) for him while the family were still residents of the old country. 

He wished to save his sons the necessity of serving in the army; he knew that in the United States there would be a better future for them, and these reasons entered into his decision to move his family to the United States.

The family came to this country in 1841, landing at Baltimore, and coming by canal boat and rail over the B.& O. Railway to Pittsburg. Thence they came down the Ohio and up the Mississippi to Muscatine and arrived at Iowa City, October 14, 1843. They settled at once on the old Fuhrmeister homestead farm near Ely. 

FROM: Cedar Rapids Gazette, August 16, 1981  -  Forrest Fuhrmeister, 90, poses at left with the lad he helped raise, Mike Albaugh, 42, in front of a marker on Forrest's farm. The marker indicates that Forrest's great-grandfather, Christopher, settled in the Ely are in 1838. Christopher purchased Forrest's present farm in 1871.

(From the same 1981 article) The original Banner Valley Post Office sits in Fuhrmeister's back yard, a memento of days when the area was known as Banner Valley rather than Ely. Settlers in the 1840s and 1850s would stop at the one-room cabin to pick up the mail.


In 1871, Christopher Fuhrmeister purchased the present farm from George Stream, also an early pioneer.

- By Luther Andrew Fuhrmeister

In 1853 my maternal grandfather, George Stream, (pictured on right) came from the state of Ohio and purchased the land now owned and lived on by Forrest Fuhrmeister. I remember this anecdote coming from the lips of my mother Lucinda Stream Fuhrmeister. "Stage coaches ran right by our house and the drivers would stop to feed and water their horses and leave mail to be distributed to settlers in the community by her father George Stream. ... The stage coach drivers would pick up any outgoing mail left at the Stream home. Therefore it can be truthfully said that my grandfather George Stream was the first one active in the capacity of postmaster in the south part of Linn county.

This post office was known as the Banner Valley Post Office. Below is a very early photo of the house that was once on the farm. There are also two photos of a part of the house, which still stands on the farm, and is designated as the Banner Valley Post Office.



In the year of 1856 a Post Office was established about one half mile South of the present site of Ely. The Banner Valley Post Office was short-lived.  November 27, 1856, George H. Walker was appointed the first Postmaster.  George Stream received an appointment as Postmaster on December 24, 1859.  The third and final appointee was Alexander Gillmore, receiving his commission December 15, 1864.  On July 23, 1866, the Banner Valley Post Office was discontinued.

THE ELY POST OFFICE, established May, 1871

Application was made by Samuel A. Stream (pictured at right) to the United States Post Office Department for a Post Office to be established near the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Minnesota Railroad, ten miles South of Cedar Rapids and to be known as the Ely Post Office. The application was signed by Samuel A. Stream and verified by W. H. Shuey, Postmaster at Western College, Iowa, on April 20, 1871. The Ely Post Office was established on May 16, 1871, at which time President Ulysses S. Grant commissioned Samuel A. Stream as Postmaster. He served as Postmaster for three years and one month.





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.

Click this link to 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, more 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 (below) 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.


About Ivanhoe and the Wolfe family

We all know about Ivanhoe Road that you encounter when you head north out of Ely on Jappa Road. But many may not know that this is a very old road. It once was more of a trail used by early pioneers, and was named Ivanhoe because of the Ivanhoe Ferry that was used to cross the river at what is now Highway 1 south of Mount Vernon. And it was the Ivanhoe Ferry because there once was a town there.

From: History of Linn County, 1878:  Ivanhoe was laid out as a town in 1838, and found and noted by the government surveyors in 1841 on the line between sections 29 and 30, Franklin Township, on the north bank of the Cedar River.  It was on the old Dubuque and Iowa City road and had a post office from 1845 to 1849.

According to the 1911 History of Linn County
Ivanhoe was never platted, but was only a squatter town. "Colonel Merritt kept the first store at Ivanhoe for parties in Rock Island.  This town had better prospects of becoming a great city than any other town in the county.  It had a good river frontage, a rich country around it, plenty of timber and good water, and had the government road besides. For some unknown cause the place seems to have been ignored when Marion and Cedar Rapids began to flourish."  (p. 271 vol. 1)

More about Ivanhoe at the "Dungherder"s blog - entitled "Abandoned Iowa: Ivanhoe"

Portraits and Biographical Album of Linn County, Chapman Bros., 1887.

DANIEL D. WOLFE, one of the highly esteemed and prominent residents of Franklin Township, occupies a fine farm on section 31. He was born in Seneca County, Ohio, Oct. 4, 1837. His father, John Wolfe was also a native of Ohio, and emigrated to Iowa while it was still a Territory. His grandfather, also John Wolfe, was a native of Pennsylvania and a descendant of German ancestry. He removed to Ohio at an early day, and located in Seneca County, where he remained the balance of his life and passed to his rest in 1855.

JOHN WOLFE, the father of our subject, was reared on his father's farm in Ohio, and married in the county of his birth, the maiden name of his bride being Miss Annie Dildine, also a native of the Buckeye State, and born in Fairfield County.

JOHN WOLFE came to the Territory of Iowa in 1839, and made a claim in Cedar County, where he remained until the following year, and then returned to Ohio for his family, which consisted of his wife and four children. They made the journey overland to their new home and located upon the claim, which, however, they only occupied for a short time.

Mr. Wolfe had visited Linn County in the meantime, and concluded that he could secure a more desirable location there. He accordingly made a claim on section 12 of what is now Bertram Township, but removed the following year. He then made a third claim on Cedar River, which comprised a part of sections 27 and 31.

He also purchased the ferry which was used to cross the river at this point, and as he surmised, a village soon sprang up at this point, which was named Ivanhoe. He erected a large boat-house, fitting up a part of it for a habitation, opened it to the public, and kept the first pioneer "hotel" in that region. He continued thus occupied the greater part of the time until his death. He entered his land from the Government, erected a dwelling-house on section 31, and when not engaged with his hotel business employed his time in the cultivation of his land.

At the time of his death, in 1854, he was living at the brick hotel in Ivanhoe. His widow survived him several years, and died on the home farm on section 30.

Mr. Wolfe was a prominent man in his community at that early day, and a leader among the early pioneers. He was the first Justice of the Peace in this section. The household of Mr. and Mrs. John Wolfe included nine children, six of whom grew to be men and women: Rhoda, the eldest daughter, married J.S.F. Bryney, and is now deceased; Sarah R. became the wife of G.W. Harvey, and lives in Washington Territory; the next son was Daniel D.; a daughter, Melissa A., married Aleck Gregory, and they live in Missouri; Laura A. became the wife of George Klinick, and they are residents of Linn Township; Squire W. was the youngest son.

DANIEL D. WOLFE was a child of three years when he came with his parents to Iowa, and may properly be said to have grown up with his county. He was still but a boy when deprived of a father's care, and he made his home with his mother until his marriage, which occurred in January, 1860. The lady of his choice was Miss Elizabeth Dill, a native of Knox County, Ill., and daughter of John and Mary Dill. At the time of his marriage he was running the ferry across the river at Ivanhoe, carrying on business which his father had established there a number of years previously. 

Click to enlarge the map:
In this 1869 map of Franklin Township, Linn County you can see
where the Ivanhoe Ferry crosses the Cedar River as well
as "D & W Wolfe land holdings on the east side of the river.

In 1863 he sold his ferry and engaged in farming, three years later removing to Solon, Iowa, where he engaged in the grocery trade. After two years he went east to Seneca County, Ohio, having disposed of his grocery, and was there engaged in the timber tract, getting out ties for the railroad which was then being built, and at which he was occupied for a space of eighteen months. In the meantime his brother, Squire, had purchased the ferry, with which he had heretofore been connected, and our subject going back to Iowa, became joint manager of the old business until the building of the bridge. It was again called into requisition on account of the bridge being carried away by high water, during which they ran the ferry one year. Since that time the brothers have been continuously engaged in agricultural pursuits, and have become joint proprietors of a farm which contains 480 acres, and comprises a part of sections 19, 30, 31 and 32. 

Mr. and Mrs. Daneil D. Wolfe have become the parents of four children --John D., Isa B., Thomas L., and Gracie G.

SQUIRE W. WOLFE is unmarried, and has made his home with his brother Daniel since he has been associated with him in business. He was born in Franklin Township in 1844, and remained with his mother on the old homestead until her death.

The brothers Wolfe are gentlemen still in the prime of life, and with a prospect of many years and continued usefulness. They are classed among the solid citizens of Franklin Township, and are among the leading men of the community. They are honorable and upright in their business transactions, and their farming operations are carried on with system and good order. Their homestead is a model one and an ornament to this section of country.

 Wikipeida says: Unlike other towns founded around that time on the Old Military Road, Ivanhoe faded away; many of its residents relocated to Mount Vernon, Cedar Rapids, or Marion. The February 1921 edition of The Palimpsest describes the area as having been "a refuge for horse thieves and dealers in counterfeit money", though it is unclear whether that was during the time that the town existed or afterwards.

Besides the cemetery there are no standing structures left of the old town. 

Ivanhoe Cemetery at Find-A-Grave

Location of Ivanhoe Cemetery off Highway one before the bridge over the Cedar River
Click to enlarge


Auxiliary to American Legion Post #555

 This is a transcription of the history of the Auxiliary to Ely's Post #555 American Legion, written [we believe] by Ann Fuhrmeister [possibly written in 1971 according to date on envelope].


Auxiliary to Post #555, American Legion; Ely, Iowa

Before and during WWI groups of women all over the U.S. organized by Red Cross met in homes, home-economics rooms in schools, etc., to sew and roll bandages, first to help England and France, then our own country. Then, after 1919 when the Legion was organized, these women who were already in service groups, became Auxiliaries to the Legion Posts.

In small towns and villages, one of the first objectives was a Legion and Auxiliary meeting place. As in other towns, Ely’s Post was organized in early 1921, named St. Quentin #555, and the women’s auxiliary charter was signed at Washington D.C. on August 1, 1922, countersigned at Davenport August 10, 1922.

National President - Edith Irwin Hobar
National Secretary - Pauline Currick
Department President (Iowa) - Mrs. Donald McCrae
Department Secretary (Iowa) - Mrs. M. Myron Skelly

The Charter members were: Mrs. George Clark, Mrs. Frank W. Elias, Mrs. David S. Fackler, Georgia Fuhrmeister, Mrs. Peter F. Fuhrmeister, Mrs. Sophia Hanus, Julia Hartl, Mrs. Edward Havlicek, Mrs. Joseph Jonas, Mrs. Alois Kadlec, Mrs. Frank J. Koss, Mrs. Frank J. Krob, Mrs. Alfred Minor, Mrs. Agnes Motycka, Mrs. John Phillips, Mrs. Thomas Phillipson, Mrs. Thomas P. Smith, Mrs. Joseph Stastny, Mrs. Stephen Stastny, Viola Stastny [Becicka written in pencil], Mrs. Lumir Truhlar, and Mrs. Frank A. Zahradnik.

The first president was Georgia Fuhrmeister. Early records show nearly every one served as President or as another officer at one time or another. Mrs. Stephen (Matilda) Stastny was a long time faithful secretary, often walking from her farm home to town for meetings - roads were still in the mud and rut stage.

When the Post bought a lot for a Legion building, the Auxiliary started making money by serving food at farm sales. Remember this was before R.E.C. and good roads and a later-acquired lunch wagon. A board laid over machinery, possibly in front of some shed or chicken house, was the counter - there was no heat for the workers and hamburgers were fried and coffee heated on an oil stove someone had brought from home. Many tales were told of the extreme hardships endured by the women serving these farm sales, and the tragedies, too, as when the pan of raw hamburger meat tumbled off some machinery into the debris below (chickens had roosted on the machinery!) These farm sales netted as little as $4.18 and $16.70 to $130.43 for a large sale. Quilting, rag rugs, bake sales, dances, suppers served, and ice cream socials were other sources of income.

After the lot for the Legion building was purchased on April 21, 1922, instead of building a new structure, two Ely wooden school buildings were available (since the district was putting up a new 2-story brick modern school) for $300. These were put together in such a way that the larger one was the hall - the smaller, placed with side to end of hall and raised several feet higher, was the stage, with the basement below serving as kitchen. Stoves in the hall, on the stage and in basement heated the hall - but water had to be carried from neighbors until the well was drilled near the outside door of the kitchen to save steps for the ladies! Also, 2 small structures were erected at the end of the lot near the alley - marked “M” and “W”. Lights were furnished by the local electric light plant. This set-up was a community center for plays - dances - programs - suppers - school affairs and commencements. In 1928, the hall was enlarged so that it was large enough for basketball, for which the school board rented the hall for many years.

From 1923 to 1930 the Auxiliary gave the Post a total of $791.23. All this money was laboriously made at farm sales, suppers, quilting, bake sales, dance refreshments, rag rugs, etc. The amounts were:

 6/13/23    $ 29.28     
12/2/24      105.30
2/1/28        121.65
11/20/28    300.00
12/12/28     50.00
4/8/29         50.00
1/13/30       35.00
3/10/30     100.00
TOTAL    $791.23

A new building was dedicated in 1955. Thus a new need for help from the Auxiliary. Annual fried chicken dinners and other dinners (as Prairie High School Athletic Banquets) and other projects - such as rummage sales, rag rug sales netted $22,374.83 given to Legion for paying the cost of the new Hall. [crossed off in pencil is “from Feb 1955 to July 1967.]

Besides helping the Legion pay for building expenses, the Auxiliary met all requirements as to assigned child [either a son or daughter of a Veteran], gifts to Veteran Hospitals, etc., and earned many citations through the years.

The Auxiliary has had one member at Iowa Girls’ State as counselor (Martha Phillips) and two Linn County Presidents (Martha Phillips and Dianne See.) 

Read more Ely Legion History at their website

Below are photos of the Ely Legion Hall dedicated in 1955. 


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 the below 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.

Karen (Clark) Fiala contributed these photos of Rogers Grove school children.

From left Joann Moses, Karen Clark (married name Fiala), Bob Havlicek. Mr. Hertz, Ron Nezerka, Betty Koutny, Mary Carson, Karen Clark's sister, Barb Clark. 

                               Karen's sister Barb Clark and her brother, Jim Clark - teacher, Mr. Hertz


 On left is Bill Carson, Lumir Nezerka, and brothers Will and Mark Clark.


Nearest row starting at back:. Karen Clark, Bob Havlicek, Mary Carson and Ron Nezerka.


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.


History book index

Do you have a copy of the Ely Centennial history book from 1972? 
We have scanned an index for the book to print if you wish. 

Click this link which will bring up the index. You will see a print icon near the upper right of the page. Click and print for your use!

If you would like to own a copy of the book, full of history and photos of the town of Ely from 1872 to 1972, we do have a number of them for $20 each. Contact us via our email (on the right column).