Boone County Historical Museum

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Boone County Historical Museum was our last stop on our tour of Boone, Iowa.  It was starting to get late, and we had a long trip home; but since we were there we decided to visit the museum anyway.  The admission was $3 per adult and free for anyone under 18--very reasonable!  As soon as we walked in, a smiling museum curator greeted us, gave us a brief introduction to the museum, turned on the lights in various rooms, and told us to let her know if we had any questions. 

The first room we visited was dedicated solely to Kate Shelley, a local heroine who saved the lives of many.  She risked her life crawling across the Honey Creek railroad bridge in the middle of a stormy night brightened with flashes of lightning.  She then ran a half mile to the railroad depot at Moingona to warn an incoming passenger train carrying 200 people that the storm had washed out trestles on the bridge and notify rescue workers that a pusher locomotive had just plunged into the creek.
The museum features the lantern she carried on that stormy night, her sewing machine, and awards she received.  The story is presented in very readable format in posters on the walls.  Kate Shelley was the first woman in the United States to have a bridge named after her.  A train, the Kate Shelley 500, was also her namesake.  

In the front room was what looked like a large chest of very small drawers.  Each drawer was labeled and contained a glass display.  In these displays were presidential campaign buttons from the election of 1896 to the present.
McKinley vs Bryan, 1896
F.D.R. vs Landon
Reagan vs Carter, 1980
In other drawers were coin collections and various medals.  

These tools are barbed wire makers.  Between them is a sample of the barbed wire.   Imagine how much work it must have been to make enough barbed wire to fence a pasture!  

The next room we visited contained a selection of animals native to Iowa.
On display there were pheasants, Canadian geese, a badger, red fox, chipmunk, coyote, a woodchuck, and several other species.

The mountain lion looked like it had seen better days, but the Snowy Owl was beautiful.  There was a selection of birds, a wooly mammoth tusk found in Boone County in 1905 and arrow heads.  

Northern Pike and Paddlefish, like these, are supposedly fish of the Des Moines River; I was a bit shocked considering I have never caught anything more interesting than a catfish in Iowa--and I have a sad feeling I may never reel in any beauties like this.   

Old hunting guns, a few uniforms, and an autographed picture of Abraham Lincoln completed our tour of the downstairs, and we proceeded to the next floor.

Since the museum is currently under renovation, not everything was perfectly ordered, but I thought the format for the upstairs was fascinating.  The large open room featured a display on each decade of the 20th century, complete with period dress, political slogans, popular devices and inventions, and a historical summary of the time.
Here are a few interesting pieces from the other displays.  I'll let you guess the years.
This is what a washing machine used to look like.
A radio and a couple toasters

Isn't the dress beautiful?

What people used to *rake* their carpets.

What lovely ladies wore in another era
And this, my dear friends, is what a portable computer (laptop?) used to look like.
The Boone County Historical Museum was fascinating!  I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about United States History while visiting Boone, Iowa.

The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad Museum

Friday, November 29, 2013

With renewed strength for the journey, we drove to our next stop, the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad Museum.  Admission was $8 per person which seemed quite pricey to me, considering the State Historical Museum has more than 3 times as much interesting content and is "free"--though I guess we pay for that sooner or later in taxes (few things in life are really free).  The museum workers seemed bored, sitting around talking to each other and offering no guidance, interesting stories, or information on the museum.  So we were on our own!
In the photo above, you can see part of the layout of the museum.  The first items we looked at were the conductors' uniforms.  The manikin modeling one of the uniforms was so life-like both my sister and I did double-takes more than once.  

There was a lot of telegraph equipment, lanterns, and assorted paraphernalia.

Some of the railroad advertisements and promotional materials are show above.  Various train companies promoted their businesses with pocket knives, First Aid Kits, insect repellent, and rulers.  
Railroad Badges
Have you ever seen a Bible "Read and Return" rack on a train?  
The above Bible rack was a courtesy provided on Pullman Cars.

The 4 Wheel Velocipede or Railroad Bicycle  was built for railroad inspectors to ride while inspecting the tracks.  Also featured at the museum is a 3 Wheel Velocipede used by inspectors, and various other vehicles used when making repairs or inspecting.
There were throw switches like the ones shown above, and a large collection of insulators.

Railroad china and silver were on display.

Toward the back of the building there was a telegraph office/train station replica.

Railroad pocket watches are pictured above.  Railroad companies agreed on a standardized time in the United States after several trains collided because watches were not synchronized; ultimately "railroad time" became official in spite of resistance by locals who wanted to keep their own local time, resenting the idea of having to "eat, sleep, work...and marry by railroad time."

Railroad Signal Lights

A Fairmont Motor Car
There were also model trains, old telephones and typewriters, and surveyor tools.  In a separate room there was a small library filled with books about the railroad.

The Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad still operates, giving visitors a chance to ride through the scenic countryside and over the Kate Shelley Bridge.  Outside, we could see the tracks and various locomotives and cars.

One of the working trains.

An old steam engine on display in front of the museum.
The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad Museum was interesting.  A true railroad buff might consider it fascinating, but I was personally more impressed by our next stop, the Boone County Historical Museum.

Part 3: Boone County Historical Museum is coming soon!

Treasures of Boone, Iowa: The Whistle Stop Cafe

Monday, November 25, 2013

Last Friday we took another trip to the Des Moines area to deliver concrete pads for propane tanks.  We visited a couple peaceful cemeteries on the way (including one where my great great great grandfather is buried), took a shortcut that was actually a dead end, noticed a pretty little country church, and eventually delivered the concrete pads.  We took the scenic route home, stopping to tour the town of Boone, Iowa, a city of 12, 546 people and numerous attractions

We were very hungry, so we drove down the main street of the town until we came to a small restaurant called the Whistle-Stop Cafe.  We are used to eating at franchised restaurants and weren't sure what to expect, but extreme hunger gave us the bravery to march our famished bodies into the cafe.

We took our seats on stools at the counter, and the waitress handed us menus.  Papa ordered a tenderloin and onion rings, Charity ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and I ordered a fish fillet.    While we waited for our orders we admired the paintings of trains and interior decoration.  Soon our food was ready and we commenced eating.

The onion rings were very good!  We had eaten a to-go order of onion rings from Applebees the day before, but these were much better.  The fish sandwich was also delicious (mmm....loved the sauce!).  And the service was way better than at McDonalds or Burger King--if your glass even started to look empty it would be whisked away for a quick refill.  In addition, the restaurant was spotlessly clean and the atmosphere was cheerful and friendly!  The waitress, Heather, made us feel right at home, and she and fellow customers gave us directions to various historical attractions throughout the town
Heather (our waitress) and John (who runs the cafe).
 If you ever find yourself suffering from hunger in Boone, Iowa; Whistle Stop Cafe is the place to find a cure!

Part 2 of our Trip: Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad Museum --will be posted soon!

Looking on the Bright Side

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Martha Washington, the first First Lady of the United States once said, "I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."

Looking at the bright side of circumstances is both a decision and an art.  Depending on our dispositions, we can be miserable in the best of circumstances, or--with God's help--joyful in the worst of circumstances.  We paint the world around us with the colors of our choosing.  Will we let the darkness of self-pity inundate us?  Or will we be strong and say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Will we complain about what we don't have?  Or will we be grateful for what we do have?

Romans 8:28 says, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."  God is in control.  Hold your heads up high Soldiers of the Cross!  Let us focus on the bright side till we see nothing but the brightness of His glory.  For there will come a day when "God shall wipe away all tears from their [our] eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."  God is faithful.

The Role of Religion in Political Campaigns

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The election of 1800 was the first time in our history that religion was a presidential campaign issue: Federalist newspapers presented the choice of “God--And a religious president” or “Jefferson--And no God” (Ferling, 154). The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion and speech. Candidates are free to speak of their religion; and voters may ask as many religious questions as they please. Voters tend to choose a candidate with a worldview similar to their own, and religion--or lack of religion--is a major ingredient in every worldview; hence, religion always will be a campaign issue. The people are the only proctors of this religious test, and, unfortunately, candidates often approach hypocrisy in search of a good score. Regardless of the candidate’s answers, voters need wisdom to grade the papers of each candidate. 

Do Christian candidates necessarily make good presidents? Ostensibly, we have never had a non-Christian president. In the election of 2000, Al Gore said he decides important questions by asking himself “What would Jesus do?” George W. Bush declared that his favorite philosopher is “Christ, because he changed my heart” (Dionne, 173).

During the election of 1800, Jefferson was accused of infidelity for saying, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” However, Jefferson said, “God, who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift from God?” John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli declaring “The Government of the United States of America is not…founded on the Christian religion.” But, John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” The verdict of Jefferson and Adams is clear: our government is not religious; only people can be religious. Federalists warned Christians that they would have to hide their Bibles if Jefferson were elected (Ferling, 154), but Jefferson stood for “limited [government] powers, no eternal wars, free commerce, and liberty” (Ferling, 127). Jefferson was elected and Americans enjoyed greater liberties, not persecution; many Democratic-Republicans were released from prison with the repeal of the Alien and Sedition Act (Ferling, 110). Roger Williams said, “Christ Jesus never called for the Sword of Steel to help the Sword of the Spirit,” and he believed that non-believers could manage the affairs of state as well as believers (Lambert, 89).
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
Though Christ never called on the sword of steel to help the Sword of the Spirit, the devil has often called on the sword of religion to aid the sword of steel. Machiavelli wrote, “Never was there a promulgator of extraordinary laws in a nation who did not invoke God’s authority.” The twenty fourth point of the Nazi’s “unalterable party program” proclaimed that they stood for positive Christianity. In what Hitler called a “state of order, freedom, and law,” soldiers wore “God with us” on their belt buckles, and true religion was suppressed under a façade of religion. The Nazis did not practice what they preached.     

Many political aspirants have good intentions. Daniel Webster said, “The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.” These well intentioned politicians claim to worship God, while advocating an adulterous marriage of Church and State and declaring that “The State is god.” Claiming to separate Church and State, they kick God out of government. Actually, they marry the Church (people) to a new god, State. The Bible says, “God will supply your every need” (King James Version, Php. 4.19). They promise, “The government will supply your every need.” God says, “I am the God that healeth thee” (King James Version, Exod. 15.26). These politicians promise, “The government will supply your health care.” God says, “I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime--until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you.” (New Living Translation, Isa. 46.3-4). They promise, “The government will care for you from cradle to grave.” When we say the government should not take on God’s responsibilities, we do not say that government has no responsibilities; government must implement justice. We must understand that “to tamper with man’s freedom is not only to injure him, to degrade him, it is to change his nature, to render him, in so far as such oppression is exercised, incapable of improvement; it is to strip him of his resemblance to the Creator, to stifle within him the noble breath of life with which he was endowed at his creation” (Bastiat, 534). 
via Flickr
We must elect candidates devoted to defending religious liberty. Benjamin Franklin explained, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Tocqueville said, “[Champions of freedom] should hasten to invoke the aid of religion…without morality, freedom cannot reign, and without faith, there is no basis for morality” (Tocqueville, 12); he also observed, “Only God can be all powerful without danger, because his wisdom and justice are always equal to his power” (Tocqueville, 290). We must preserve economic freedom if we would preserve religious freedom; as Von Mises says, “In a system where there is no [free] market, where the government directs everything, all those other freedoms are illusory, even if they are made into laws and written in Constitutions” (Von Mises, 18). In Revelations, we see that an economic sanction forbidding buying or selling without the mark of the beast greatly injured religious liberty. We would do well to follow Patrick Henry’s advice to “guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches this jewel.”  

My vote last election was not cast because Barack Obama belongs to the United Church of Christ, Romney is a Mormon, Paul is a Baptist, or Santorum and Gingrich are Catholics. I voted for the candidate whom i believe stood firmly for liberty. John Winthrop wrote, “There is a civil and moral liberty…which it is the mission of power itself to protect: this is the liberty to do that which is just and good without fear. This sacred liberty we must defend in all circumstances and, if necessary, risk our life for it.” Winthrop was willing to risk his life to defend liberty; we can, at least, give our votes for liberty. Let’s be trustworthy voters; let’s choose candidates whose lives are sermons*. Let’s choose candidates who practice what they preach.  

Treasures of Small Town Iowa: Eli Hoover's Grave

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Whenever we get an order to deliver concrete pads to a propane company, I quickly grab a map and look for nearby points of interest.  Last week when we received an order for two pallets of pads to be delivered to Hubbard, Iowa, I glanced at the map only to see nothing in the Hubbard area.  Not easily discouraged, I searched the internet for attractions in Hubbard...and found a cemetery!  Other attractions were an old school house, a church bell, church paintings from 1912, a chainsaw sculpture, and of course, the usual Midwestern small town charm.  

Since I knew we wouldn't have much time on our hands, we decided to visit the cemetery.  Now, before you decide I'm totally eccentric, this isn't any ordinary cemetery.  President Herbert Hoover's grandfather, Eli Hoover, is buried there.

It took a few minutes to find the gravestone.  Many of the stones at the cemetery date into the late 1800s.  Eli Hoover's stone was very distinctive, which was fortunate for us who were looking for it.
The inscription read:
Eli Hoover
Died July 24, 1892
Aged 72 Y & 7 D
Farewell unto father, sweet thy rest
Heavy with years and worn with pain
Farewell till in some happy place
we shall behold thy face again.
It's ours to miss thee all our years,
and tender memories of thee keep.
Thine in the Lord to rest,
for so he gives his beloved sleep

A plaque placed in front of the stone in 1990 by the Open Fire Chapter DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) notes that Eli was the grandfather of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President (and Iowa's favorite son).

Eli married Mary Davis in Ohio in 1840; both were 19.  They had 5 children, Eunice, Allen, Jesse, Rebecca, and Henry.  Mary died on March 3, 1853, and their daughter Eunice died a month later. After the untimely deaths of both his wife and daughter, Eli decided to move to Iowa in 1854, taking with him his remaining children.  His son Jesse Clark Hoover married Hulda Minthorn in 1870 and started a blacksmith shop in West Branch, where Herbert Hoover was born.

Much about Eli Hoover's life has been forgotten by history--as an internet search of his name will reveal.  The gravestone, however, reminds us that someday there will be a resurrection.  Like a tree stump with roots holding life deep in the soil sprouts again, so we, with the roots of our souls planted deep in Christ will live again eternally.

Interview with Colleen Carson, IWS

Friday, November 8, 2013

My favorite watercolor artist is my grandma Colleen Carson.  I recently have collaborated with her to create an online gallery of her artwork, and she graciously consented to an interview for my blog.

Q: What inspired you to become an artist?
A: I don't believe it was inspiration. It's something that was in my family. Everybody did it, and I just assumed that I would do it too.

Q: What is your favorite thing to paint?
A: I don't really have a favorite. I don't like abstract very much; I prefer a conglomeration of different styles. I love florals. I love animals. I do not like to paint portraits other than of children and animals.
The Shepherd is Coming
Q: Do you have a favorite of your paintings?
A: One of my favorites—and it's almost gone—is a picture of a sheep barn with the sheep coming out of the barn and walking down a pathway in the light. To me it has a spiritual essence about it. It's entitled “The Shepherd is Coming”--and He surely is.

Q: What is the most difficult thing to paint?
A: People. You can never satisfy people. No one sees themselves as they really are. So its, “Well, I don't have warts, and I don't have a mole there, and my hair is not  that shade of red.” And so the hassle brings it to the point where even though it's lucrative, I don't often do it.

Q: What advice would you have for a young artist?
A: If you're serious about art, do it! Because the more you do it, the easier it gets. You can become good at one medium: perhaps watercolors, perhaps oil, clay, and then try another. It brings out your creativity, and when we use a talent—like with music—it grows.

Q: Do you have any interesting anecdotes from your experiences as an artist that you would like to share?
A: Many; as you have camaraderie with other artists, peculiar things happen—and funny things. That's part of the joy of being creative—meeting other people who have the same interests as you do. There are lots of funny anecdotes, many which I would not put in print, but I love getting together and being with my artist friends.
"Bountiful Harvest"  1993 Calendar Cover for the Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad
Q: What have been the highlights of your painting career?
A: Probably one of the greatest highlights was being hired by the Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad to do their calendar art, and I had the joy of doing it for five years. That was a great boost to my career. People thought, “Oh, she can paint for the railroad; maybe she is a good painter.”

Q: Do you have a favorite color?
A: Yes, blue! --and then more blue and more blue.

Falling Leaves--one of my favorites.
Q: What are your other hobbies and interests?
A: Through the years my other hobbies and interests have fallen by the wayside, so that I can devote my time to art. I did work as a florist for 13 years, and I enjoyed that immensely—but there again it was creating. And gardening—I love flower gardening. It grieves me that it's very difficult for me to do it now that it's later in life, but the Lord's got something else for me to do. I don't know what yet, but I'm anxiously awaiting.
"Texas Treasure"
Q: Do you have any thoughts on how painting and being an artist reflects on the greater spectrum of life?
A: Our Lord was a Creator. If I have any talent in my life in the category of being creative, I feel that it's a gift that came directly from Him. There are days when I know what I paint is pleasing to Him, and there are days when I tear papers up; I know they're not pleasing. You have to have that connection with the Creator to enjoy painting and do it well.
"Light Source"
Please feel free to browse Carson Art Gallery online at