What? There’s no poem about the Greene County Fair? Poet Jerry Roberts took that as a challenge!

Jerry Roberts

JEFFERSON, Iowa, July 12, 2021 — When our Greene County Iowa Historical Society members Jerry Roberts and Chuck Offenburger, both retired journalists, began another of their “History Chats” at the Greene County Fair here in Jefferson  last Friday, they posed a question that no one in the audience could answer. The discussion was about “The Arts in Greene County — Past, Present & maybe Future,” and the question: “Has anybody ever written a poem about the Greene County Fair?”

We were all stumped.

But Saturday morning, Roberts, who is also a poet, walked into the historical building at the fairgrounds and said, “We now have a poem about the Greene County Fair — I just wrote one this morning.” And here it is:

July 10, 2021

Take a moment, let’s talk fair
All Greene County roads will take you there.

The tour is starting, pay attention,
Its free, the tour and fair, just thought I’d mention.

The beef barn’s pretty full this year
Heifers, calves and lots of steers.

One pen of 3, is now a 2,
Search team is a 4H crew.

They’re heading south, at least that’s the tale,
The critter escaped down the local bike trail.

The swine are next, they’re not here long,
They’re in, they’re judged, and then they’re gone.

Lambs are cute, but oh so noisy,
That Suffolk ewe is a pet called Rosey.

Don’t miss the horse show, it’s full of banter:
Walk, trot, stop. Now it’s time to canter.

The kids have worked for most a year,
The moment of truth, this week, is near.

Sewing, cooking, photography
Gardening, handicrafts, carpentry.

We must be quiet there’s a demonstration
It’s called “How Iowa Feeds the Nation.”

Blue ribbons are best, then red, then white,
A ribbon means you did things right.

Let’s don’t forget the smaller creatures,
There’s a place where they all are featured,

Rabbits, ducks, chickens, dogs and cats.
“You can pet my rabbit, he’s kind of fat.”

If you are young this barn is for you
An instant, friendly, petting zoo.

If you want to remember, and reminisce
The Historical Society building is a “don’t miss.”

There’s a one-room school house just next door
And a real log cabin inside, want more?

Look outside and see the way
Our fathers farmed the fields and hayed.

And then just sit down and chew the fat,
With Chuck and Jerry’s “History Chats.”

–Jerry Roberts, Jefferson IA

You can write the poet by email at

Native son Chuck Holden, history prof & author, speaks on his career Sunday, July 25, at museum


JEFFERSON, Iowa, July 20, 2021 — When the Greene County Historical Society learned that native son Chuck Holden, a college history professor teaching in Maryland and the author of three books of history, was spending the summer here, the group asked if they could interrupt his plans for an hour or so – for a conversation with their members and other homefolks.

That happens this Sunday, July 25, at 2 p.m. at the historical museum in Jefferson.  The event and refreshments are free and open to the public.

“I think I’ll talk a bit on how I ended up being an historian, give a couple ‘origins’ stories on my books, and then broaden out to talk about the importance of knowing — and facing up to — our history,” Holden said. “For the last part, I plan to review a couple of moments in U.S. history where some Americans embraced conspiracies over facts, and how those moments did not serve the country very well.” As examples, he cited the secession crisis leading to the Civil War and McCarthyism in the 1950s.

Chuck Holden, back home in front of the Greene County Courthouse.

Holden, 59, grew up in the Scranton area, the son of Edward Holden and Mary Ann Brunner Holden.  He graduated from Scranton High School in the 24-member Class of 1980, did his undergraduate studies in business at St. John’s University in Minnesota, earned his master’s in history at Creighton University in Omaha and his doctorate at Penn State University. He taught initially at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and is now in his 22nd year at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

St. Mary’s is a small public college, with an enrollment of about 1,300 students, in the Maryland state university system.  It’s located in the historic village of St. Mary’s City, which served for a time as the colonial capital of Maryland, located 75 miles south of Washington, D.C., near the confluence of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. The community dates to the 1630s.

Holden’s latest book.

His teaching specialization includes 19th and 20th U.S. history; the Great Depression and New Deal, and the Civil War era.  His latest book, published in 2019, is “Republican Populist: Spiro Agnew and the Origins of Donald Trump’s America,” which has earned favorable reviews in publications across the country.  (Agnew was U.S. vice-president in the Nixon administration and resigned in scandal, and earlier had served as governor of Maryland.)

Holden’s earlier books are “In the Great Maelstrom: Conservatives in Post-Civil War South Carolina,” published in 2002, and “The New Southern University: Academic Freedom and Liberalism at the University of North Carolina,” in 2011.

This summer, he’s started research and interviewing on a possible book about the roots of investigative journalism, and how it changed after coverage of the Watergate in the Nixon years.

Holden said that at his presentation Sunday, besides his reflections about his long career in the field of history, he’ll be glad to take questions from the audience.

He and his four siblings grew up on a “century-plus” farm outside Scranton.  His brother Mike Holden now farms it.  He also has sisters Rosemary Hoyt, of Jefferson; Mary Jo Kluesner, of Ames, and Ann Kendell, of Des Moines.

Chuck Offenburger, of rural Cooper, is a member of the board of directors of the historical society.  You can reach him by email at chuck@Offenburger.com.


Our hour-long chat about Rippey’s 150-year history helps us launch our new YouTube channel!

JEFFERSON,  Iowa, July 22, 2021 — Our Greene County Iowa Historical Society took another big step forward today.

This morning, we launched our new YouTube channel, making better use of our video productions and sharing them with a much wider audience.

We start this new effort with a video of our “History Chat” at the recent Greene County Fair, where co-hosts Jerry Roberts and Chuck Offenburger led a discussion on the history of Rippey as our southeastern-most town gets ready for its Sesquicentennial celebration on Saturday, July 31.

You can access our new YouTube channel by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70SjfGWTMXA. The video is the work of the historical society’s new director of digital history, Carson Roberts.

Here, “History Chats” co-host Jerry Roberts chats-up three Rippey area residents with deep knowledge of their community’s history — (left to right) Mary Weaver, Nancy Hanaman and Roy Bardole.

We hope you enjoy the hour-long chat — and learn some interesting Rippey history, too!

Carson Roberts, the new director of digital history for the Greene County Iowa Historical Society.

Here’s the line-up for Chuck & Jerry’s “History Chats” at our county fair this Friday and Saturday


JEFFERSON, Iowa, July 8, 2021 — For the past half-dozen years, retired radio news director Jerry Roberts and I have been moderating “History Chats” during the Greene County Fair, and we’re ready to start them again this Friday and Saturday.

Come join us in the Greene County Historical Society’s building near the front gate at the fairgrounds here in Jefferson.

Chuck Offenburger and Jerry Roberts.

If you’ve never joined us before, the chats are conducted in a circle of old, wooden, historic-looking folding chairs in the shade and nice breeze our big building provides.  We two old journalists start the conversations, and then we coax questions and observations out of audience. We go for up to an hour.

The chats are all free, and several of them over the years have wound up inspiring full programs later for the historical society.

So here’s our line-up for this week:

Friday, July 9, 11 a.m. – “A Salute to Rippey on its Sesquicentennial.”  Jerry & I will be interviewing Nancy Hanaman, Roy Bardole and Mary Weaver – all good talkers, so this should really be good, and a good promotion for Rippey’s celebration July 31.  Come dip yourself in Rippey history!

Friday, July 9, 1 p.m. – “The Arts in Greene County – Past, Present & maybe Future.”  We’re issuing a public invitation to poets, authors, singers, instrumentalists, painters, designers – all artists – to come share some of their work.  But more important, we want to gather their thoughts on ideas that we might turn into a broader program for the historical society in the future.

Saturday, July 10, 11 a.m. – We’re reprising “Dig it! The 1950s, ’60s & ’70s.”  Jerry & I will talk a little about the tremendous new exhibit that opened last Saturday at our museum uptown. There was a panel discussion then among eight people who lived through that era and had dozens of stories about how those decades transformed life in Greene County.  This Saturday, Jerry and I will re-tell some of those stories, and draw other ones out of our audience.  I’ve invited all the panelists we had, although I don’t expect many will be able to come join us again. So go see the exhibit at the museum, and then come to our fairgrounds building at 11 a.m. and we’ll talk about it.

Saturday, July 10, 1 p.m. – “What the Historical Society Should Do at the Fair.”   We want to gather ideas from the public on what we should do with our fairgrounds buildings, during the fair and year ’round.  What should we add?  What don’t we need there?  What should our facilities out there try to be?  What kind of programming should we do there year ’round? Whom do we need to get involved?  So, please, those of you with knowledge of county fair history, plus you designers, planners, builders and dreams — all of you come let us hear your ideas.

Chuck Offenburger, of rural Cooper, is a member of the board of directors of the historical society.  You can reach him by email at chuck@Offenburger.com.

Huge new museum exhibit and panel discussion on July 3 to open “Dig it! The 1950s, ’60s & ’70s”!

JEFFERSON, Iowa, June 25, 2021 — Three decades that changed the world – and our part of it – are featured in a new exhibit, “Dig it! The 1950s, ’60s & ’70s,” that will open on Saturday, July 3, at the Greene County Historical Museum in Jefferson.

An exhibit, designed and constructed by Mikki Schwarzkopf and Dianne Piepel with lots of help from Jan Durlam, features treasures, artifacts, and a lot of kitschy reminders of what life was like and how it was transformed during those 30 years.  Nearly all items in the huge display have been loaned to the Greene County Historical Society by current residents of the area.

For the July 3 debut, the museum will be open at 9 a.m. for browsing of the new exhibit, as well as other displays that have been longtime favorites.  A panel discussion on the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s will start at 10 a.m., and then the museum will remain open for additional browsing until at least 1 p.m. Thereafter, the exhibit will be available well into the fall during normal museum open hours – Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings – and by special appointment.

Mikki Schwarzkopf (left) holds a pink “hot pants” outfit Dianne Piepel holds a fringed “hippie vest” that she bought in the early 1970s in a “head shop” in Iowa City.

The 10 a.m. panel discussion on July 3 is planned to be the first of three or more such gatherings over the next six months, discussing what happened during the featured 30-year period and how that has continued to shape our lives and culture today.

Journalist Chuck Offenburger, a member of the historical society board, will serve as moderator of at least the first panel discussion. He will be leading the questioning of panelists Rick Morain, Andy McGinn, Rolfe Blaess, Terry Rich, Carole Custer, Quentin Minnehan and Alan Robinson.  They will attempt a broad overview of that historic era, decade by decade.

There’ll be some music history, too.  Morain, an accomplished pianist, has picked three songs to share that he says are good representatives of each of the decades – and will show how the music evolved.   McGinn, the editor of the Jefferson Herald and certainly the youngest panel member, will share his research on the precise time when rock ’n’ roll music arrived in Greene County.

Question and observations from the audience will be encouraged.

Bright yellow Formica kitchen table, Fiestaware dishes, colorful aluminum cups & bowls, and ash trays!

“If you’re my age, it might be hard to believe these three decades would be listed in the historical category,” said Roger Aegerter, a retired school superintendent and art teacher who is now executive director of the historical society.  “But, remember, we are talking 50 to 70 years ago!”

The exhibit, panel discussions and admission to the museum are all free.

The historical society canceled most programming and open hours at the museum for most of a year during the pandemic.  But the group is now returning to regular activity with a full schedule in coming weeks and months.

Following are more photos from the new “Dig it!” exhibit.

Schwarzkopf and Piepel, with some of the machines and cameras that were part of everyday life in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.

Here is the parade outfit worn by Jefferson’s Doreen Wilber, who won the gold medal in archery in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.

One of the “Ike jackets” worn in the Korean War, popularized by World War II General & later U.S. President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower.

Cool kids put clipped playing cards or baseball cards on their bicycles to mimic sounds of a motor.

A colorful banner representative of the 1960s and ’70s. 

A POW-MIA flag that reminds us there are still soldiers unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.


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    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.”


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