Nick Foster, co-owner with his wife Annette Foster of the Mason House hotel in Jefferson IA, shared stories of the historic inn for members and guests of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society at our meeting Friday, June 7, at the First United Methodist Church in Jefferson. "It's been bought and sold many times," said Foster, who purchased it a year ago from Dr. Jim & Nancy Teusch, who'd owned it 10 years. "The Teusches deserve a lot of praise. They spent a lot of money on it and they basically saved it." It its 130-plus years, the hotel initially served passengers arriving on the north-south railroad. Today it serves a lot of bicyclists arriving on the Raccoon River Valley Trail, which has been built on the old railroad route. Foster said he and Annette are always on the lookout for stories from the hotel's past. One puzzler -- old newspaper articles seem to indicate that from 1901 to 1904, the facility was apparently owned by Drake University and the Iowa Christian Convention. He said their goal is to renovate "but keep it as close to original as possible. We don't expect to make any money on it -- it's definitely a non-profit business! -- and whatever we do make we'll be putting right back into it."
At the Pleasant Hill Memorial Homecoming service on Sunday, May 26, Wallace Teagarden, 96, a 1941 graduate of Grand Junction High, a retired attorney & insurance claims adjustor who has lived for years in Ames, did the patriotic oration he's been doing since junior high school, reciting excerpts of several important American documents and then the full Gettysburg Address. Teagarden has done this at the Pleasant Hill Church services on Memorial Day weekend every year since 1960, and does it from memory. His oration this year was flawless and inspiring as ever. At the right is his cousin Jerry Evilsizer, of Fairmont, Minn., who chauffeured Teagarden for the day. More photos are in the story below here.
Featured speakers at the Pleasant Hill Memorial Homecoming service were Iowa Rep. Phil Thompson and Melissa Bosshart Frederick, both of whose families have deep ties to the church and pioneer community -- and they are classmates from the Jefferson-Scranton High School Class of 2009. Both are rising young leaders in our area. The event was organized and sponsored by the non-profit Pleasant Hill Memorial Inc. with support from the Greene County Iowa Historical Society. More photos are in the story below here.
Retired journalist Chuck Offenburger was the moderator of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society program on the life & career of Churdan native Deil Otto "Gus" Gustafson on Friday, May 3, at the Churdan Public Library. More than 60 people attended. Important input and stories came from this panel of Churdan natives -- (left to right) Paul White, Doug Tucker, Rosemary Fay Cassell and Cy Hoyle. Tucker and Cassell were 1949 Churdan High School classmates of Gus Gustafson. White and Hoyle are both authoritative on the community's history.
"Gus" Gustafson is shown here as a graduating senior at old Churdan High School in the spring of 1949. He went on to earn three college degrees, became a lawyer, college professor, owner of a chain of banks and leading businessman in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, then in the 1970s bought the Tropicana casino and resort and several other properties in Las Vegas. His empire came toppling down in the 1980s, and Gustafson died at 67 years old in 1999. His amazing life and career were the subject of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society program on Friday, May 3, in his hometown of Churdan. Find details elsewhere on this page.
When the Greene County Iowa Historical Society met Friday, April 12, at the United Methodist Church in Cooper, the program was "The Return of Isaac Cooper," namesake of the town. He was portrayed by actor Dennis Peer, a native of Cooper who taught theater for 38 years at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls. Speaking as Isaac Cooper, he told the story of the mid-19th century settlement and development of Iowa, the city of Des Moines and, in 1881, of little Cooper IA. That's when Frederick M. Hubbell, of Des Moines, and some partners were building a railroad to the Iowa Great Lakes, brought it through our territory, founded the town and named it after his father-in-law Isaac Cooper.
Special guests at the April 12 meeting of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society at the United Methodist Church in the town of Cooper were father & son Mike and Cooper Hubbell, of Des Moines. They are respectively the great-great-grandson and great-great-great-grandson of Isaac Cooper, the pioneer Des Moines businessman after whom the town of Cooper is named. Since the younger Hubbell goes by "Cooper," the Franklin Township Board of Trustees, who govern the Cooper area, had a brief ceremony at the historical program and named him "Honorary Mayor" of the town.
Stories of the Mason House from the Fosters when our society meets Friday June 7
Nick and Annette Foster, owners for about a year now of the Mason House hotel in Jefferson, will share fascinating stories they’ve learned about their 130-year-old guest house when the Greene County Historical Society meets on Friday, June 7, at the First United Methodist Church in Jefferson. Located at 502 E. Lincoln Way, the hotel […]
Our historical society hosts “Iowa History 101” during Bell Tower Festival, plus the art show & spelling bee
JEFFERSON, Iowa, June 1, 2019 — The Greene County Historical Society is participating in the 40th Bell Tower Festival in Jefferson June 7-9 in three ways – hosting a special traveling display on state history on E. Lincoln Way adjacent to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Gardens, hosting the Bell Tower art show at the historical […]
Another inspiring service Memorial Day weekend at Pleasant Hill Church
JEFFERSON, Iowa, May 27, 2019 — On a perfect late-spring morning Sunday, May 26, the Pleasant Hill Memorial Homecoming service & potluck dinner was held in the pioneer Greene County community of Pleasant Hill, five miles southeast of Jefferson. The highlight, just as it’s been every year since 1960, was area native Wallace Teagarden, now 96, […]
Pleasant Hill Church, with new life & spirit, is ready for May 26 Homecoming
By CHUCK OFFENBURGER The annual Pleasant Hill Memorial Homecoming service & potluck dinner will be held on Sunday, May 26, at the 138-year-old pioneer church located about five miles southeast of Jefferson. The event is presented by the Pleasant Hill Memorial Inc. committee, with support from the Greene County Iowa Historical Society. Pleasant Hill Church […]
Churdan High ’49 graduate “Gus” Gustafson’s business career was the talk of the Twin Cities and Las Vegas – while it lasted
CHURDAN, Iowa, April 29, 2019 — Deil O. (“Gus”) Gustafson, who graduated from old Churdan High School in 1949, may have been one of the biggest business success stories ever to come out of Greene County. In the 1960s, he was a lawyer, college professor, and the owner of banks and other businesses in Minnesota. […]
The traditions & adages that guided our pioneers on when it’s planting time
By MARY WEAVER RIPPEY, Iowa, April 23, 2019 — Finally spring has come following the extremely long and rugged winter. It is time to think about our gardens. Knowing when to plant is tricky and very weather-dependent, but to our early Greene County ancestors and pioneers, a garden was the source of 80 percent of […]
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Did you know there were so many historical sites in this county? See many of them on the map here!
See interviews with historical figures, events and programs we have recorded, and much more!
How many courthouse structures have been built on the site of the current Greene County Courthouse?
There have been three courthouses built where the Greene County Courthouse stands today. Ground was broken on the current courthouse in November of 1915, the cornerstone was set in May 1916 and the new building was dedicated in October of 1917. The centennial celebration of the courthouse is already underway, with events being planned by the “Courthouse 100” committee, with support from the Greene County Historical Society. You can learn more about the courthouse history and the celebration plans on the Facebook page “Courthouse 100: Greene County, Iowa.”