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Coon Rapids


I've been transcribing my grandparents' love-letters, and I'm finding a few things here and there that relate to Coon.

One is a postcard that Clifford Hayes (RR#2) sent to Verna Hilsabeck in 1925, with six scenes of Coon Rapids:

Items provided by Elizabeth Chain


The other is a clipping from the 1924 paper of a Carnival expected to come to town - Clifford used it to make a date with Verna:

Elizabeth Chain


Section Crew, Coon Rapids, Iowa ca. 1927

3rd from left is Bryan Rhoads b. 1898,
5th from left is James Selby Rhodes b. 1907,
6th from left is Bill Boston a friend of my dads

 (Jim Selby Rhodes), original picture belongs to my sister Barbara Rhodes. Jim

Hi Bill:
I just got this scan from a cousin, Jim Rhodes, and thought you might want to Kick it around on your site
and see if others can identify more people.

Robert Rhoads
"Robert Rhoads and Family"

My father, Joseph Edward Macke is one of the members of the section crew in this photo. He is the one standing on the flatcar with his leg over the rail. Doni Evanoff
, crew chief, is the heavier set man standing in the foreground on the (as you face the photo) right side.  I looked up some old photos we have of Doni. Joseph E. Macke passed away on 17 Jun 1997 in Mullen, NE. [I combined information from two emails. Bill Smith] I thank you for maintaining this web site.

William R. (Bill) Macke
7895 Ridgely Ct.,
Fair Oaks, CA  95628-3611

Main St.


O. J. Niles entered the land on which Coon Rapids now stands, in Union Township, in 1855. Mr. Niles was from Western Michigan, and probably of Yankee birth. He was a peculiar character in many respects, and was considered an oracle of wisdom by the first settlers. He was elected a justice of the peace, and frequently acted as agent for the settlers in purchasing household supplies at Des Moines. He lived in a 16 x 36 log house, the site of Mr. Shnte's present residence. It is related that a man named Tuttle, of Tuttle's Grove, felt a grievance over a horse trade he had made with Samuel Wilson, and stated the details of the transaction to 'Squire Niles. The 'squire listened patiently, and at the close advised Mr. Tuttle that the law in the case was so complicated that he couldn't obtain justice I Some suspicions persons, always inquiring as to the relations of cause to effect, remarked that , Wilson was a splendid shot, and Niles was very fond of venison.

A mail route was established in 1858 between Panora and Sioux City, with intermediate offices at Carrollton and Denison. In 1861 a man named Winfred bought five acres on the river for a mill-site, and started to improve the same. The settlers were so enthusiastic over the prospect of a mill in their vicinity that they held their Fourth of July celebration that year on the proposed mill-site. When Father Abraham called for 300,000 loyal volunteers, Winfred's men deserted his service for that of the Government, and work was suspended on the mill. In 1863 Crockett Ribble, County Treasurer, bought the site and commenced to improve it, with financial assistance from the county. A Mr. Frizzell set up a store to supply the men with tobacco and other "necessaries," and John J. McCollum started a blacksmith shop. A petition was sent to "Washington for a post office to be called Fairview, with Frizzell for postmaster. The authorities replied that there was already one Fairview in the State, and requested the petitioners to select another name. "Niles" Grove" and "Ribbleton" were discussed, but C. on Rapids was the name finally agreed upon. A accordance with the suggestion of Jacob Cretsinger. William Minnich bought land in 1866 and laid out a town, and built the house where William Schnepps now lives, to rent as a store. The first occupants were Shoemaker & Eudicott; and " Frank" used to furnish music and act as caller, both, at the frequent dancing parties; and " The Old Gray Hoss " was the favorite tune.

On one of Shoemaker's trips to Des Moines after goods he surprised the natives by returning under a plug hat, which disappeared after the next Fourth, of July celebration at Carrollton. Ribble and McCrea were the next occupants, and William Minnioh built the hotel, since called " Fort Sumter."

The old town of Coon Rapids never had to exceed fifteen houses. The census of 1880 credits the place with fifty-four inhabitants. When, in 1881, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad was laid through the southern part of Carroll County and passed near Coon Rapids, a new town was laid out by the Western Town Lot Company, about one-fourth of a mile west of the primitive village, and houses went as if by magic. So many were building that it is impossible to say who was first. The most of the growth occurred in 1882 and '83. The census of 1885 gives Coon Rapids 729 inhabitants. The town has excellent prospects for further growth, and already does a good business with the surrounding country.


Coon Rapids was incorporated four years ago, the election to decide upon the step having been held December 19, 1882. Officers were elected in January following, and J. H. Lonthau was the first mayor. The officers for 1886-'87 are: Mayor, T. C. Reid; Recorder, D. M. Grove; Councilmen, A. R. Hatfield, C. E. Morris, B. H. Shute, H. L. Miller, Henry Wallace and I. L. Dennond; Treasurer, J. H. Louthan; Assessor, Theophilus George; Marshal, James Mulford; Street Commissioner, George Miller.

The destructive visitation of April 14,1886, will never be forgotten by the present inhabitants of Coon Rapids, as it did immense damage to the town, destroying everything in its path. The day was warm and depressing, but there were no other indications of a storm until four p. m., when it grew dark and threatening. Half an hour biter a light rain and a little hail fell. A few minutes more and the clouds lowered, grew very dark, and away south the coining cyclone could be seen. As it grew more distinct, and was seen to be heading for the town, the people ran to such cave as could be found for protection. A train o twenty loaded cars was first attacked by the cyclone, and sixteen care were easily toppled over like paper, as well as an equal number of empty gravel cars on a side track. Passing north, the storm just missed the business portion of Coon Rapids, the Enterprise office being the only business building injured, and spent its fury on the residence portion of the town. In all, thirty-two buildings were wholly or partly destroyed. The total loss, not including that of the railroad company, which was large, was about $50,000. A boy, Harry Raygor, was so injured by a falling brick that he died a few hours later. Five miles south of town, three dwellings and several barns were destroyed. Just north of Coon Rapids the cyclone lifted, and no further damage was done in its onward path.

Light Plant

The first attorney to locate at Coon Rapids was S. Preston. Besides him, T. C. Reid, L. W. Morgan and E. H. Hard are now practicing here. Dr. E. V. Blatchley was the first physician. Those now residing and practicing here are Drs. Root, Steams and Hunt.

The Coon Rapids Bank was opened in June, 1882, by Lyons & Cooney. In the autumn of 1886 John Cooney became sole proprietor by purchasing Mr. Lyons' interest. The City Bank was established in the autumn of 1882, by H. L. Miller & Co., the present proprietors.

The following firms are in business at Coon Rapids in December, 1886: J. H. Adams, Merrill Hotel; W. H. Asher & Co., general store; J. Bates & Co., drugs; Beed Brothers, elevator; E. J. Bradley, lumber; A. Brutsche, general store; C. L. Cady, barber; John Cooney, bank; Cumpton & Co., drugs; L. A. Cushman, barber; Dale & George, elevator; I. L. Dermond & Bro,., grocery; B. F. Erb, drugs; George Foreman, mill; H. Friable, livery; E. & "W. Garst, general store; A. M. Graham, meat market; A. R. Hatfield, general store; S. D. Henry, publisher of the Enterprise; L. Hoffman, tailor; Holliday & Harris, insurance; 0. D. Hough-ton, butcher; S. E. Huse, lumber; M. H. Ish, grocery; W. J. Jackley, billiard hall; Jones Bros., hardware; F. C. Jones, post-office; W. Law, blacksmith; J. H. Lonthan, harness shop; William McNabb, meat market; H. L. Miller & Co., bank; C. E. Morris, grocery; Mrs. J. D. Parrott, millinery; L. L. Peck, bakery and billiard hall; E. A. Rogers, photographer; Scott & Son, blacksmiths; Steele & Johnson, furniture; A. R. Taylor, hardware; 0. C. Triplett, restaurant; J. E. Tucker, jeweler; Henry Wallace, blacksmith; J. F. Yetter, harness; G. W. Zollinger, confectionery.

I. O. O. F.

Charity Lodge, No. 197, A. F. & A. H., was organized at Carrollton August 22, 1866, and chartered June 5, 1867. "When Coon Rapids began to prosper, the lodge was removed to that point. It has now thirty-six members, and meets on Saturday on or before each full moon. It owns a hall over Asher & Co.'s store, valued at $600, in partnership with the Odd Fellows, and it also owns a hall over C. E. Morris' store, which is rented to the Knights of Pythias and the Grand Army. The officers for 1886 are: S. E. Huse, Worshipful Master; T. C. Reid, Senior Warden; C. V. B. Smith, Junior "Warden; I. L. Derraond, Secretary; J. H. Louthan, Treasurer.

Coon Rapids Lodge, No. 459, I. 0. 0. F., was organized in the autumn of 1882, and has now thirty members. It meets every Tuesday evening at the hall above mentioned as being owned in partnership by the Masons and Odd Fellows. At this writing S. E. Huee is Noble Grand; William McNabb, Vice-Grand; L. A. Cushman, Secretary, and D. F. Erb, Treasurer.

Plantagenet Lodge, No. 108, K. P., was organized in 1883. It has twenty-eight members, and meets every Thursday evening. The present officers are: D. M. Grove, Chancellor Commander; T. Morgan, Vice-Chancellor; S. D. Henry, Past Chancellor; A. A. Morr, Reporter; George Cretsinger, Prelate; J. K. Root, Keeper of Records and Seals.

Coon Rapids Lodge, No. 860, A. 0. U. W., was organized in May, 1883, with twenty members. There are now twelve. It meets the second and fourth Monday of each month at Masonic Hall. The officers are: A. M. Graham, Master Workman; W. F. Sanford, Recorder; V. M. Johnson, Financier; J. Wright, Receiver; Theophilus George, Guide, Perry Wright.

Post, No. 188, G. A. R., was mustered June 6, 1882, and its membership has increased from thirty to forty-five. It meets Saturday evening after each full moon. Officers: A. C. Taylor, Commander; A. 0. Vanakin, Senior Vice-Commander; J. D. Parrott, Junior Vice-Commander; J. D. Henry, Quartermaster; C. E. Morris, Adjutant; G. W. Smith, Chaplain; T. George, Officer of the Day; W. F. Paxton, Officer of the Guard.

Tip Top Lodge, No, 167, Iowa Legion of Honor, was organized in February, 1885, with twenty-seven members. There are now twenty-four. Meetings are held the first and third Thursdays of each month. Henry W. Pruter is President; John Rollins, Vice-President; William F. Erp, Recording Secretary; Dr. C. A. Beiterman, Financial Secretary; C. H. Westbrook, Treasurer.

The Catholic Mutual Protective Society was organized in June, 1886, with thirteen members. Jacob Klesbies is President; Frank Hagan, Secretary and Treasurer.

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