1920s Steam & Farming in Iowa

Greene County farmer Nick Foster, who wound up his 24th annual steam threshing bee on his farm northwest of Jefferson in late July, will talk about 1920s agriculture at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church west of Churdan at 449 E. Ave, on Friday, Sept. 1. 

The program is sponsored by the Greene County Historical Society. Foster is the current board president of the society.

Foster and his son Chuck farm 1,500 acres, something they’re able to do using the latest in farm equipment.

That would have been impossible in the 1920s.

Today’s equipment—GPS (Global Positioning System), huge diesel tractors and multi-row planters that can be operated by one person—is a far cry from the steam equipment of the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries when many hands were needed to plant and harvest crops.

Foster’s program will include photos of 1920s farms, farmers and steam-powered equipment, as well as models of steam threshers plus other items. There will be time for questions and reminiscence.

Foster is a fourth-generation Greene County landowner, who began farming fulltime when he graduated from Jefferson-Scranton High School in 1980. The home place, Pleasant Prairie Farm, has been in his family since 1900. He also rents farm ground. 

Lunch will be served at noon before the free 12:45 p.m. program. Cost of lunch is $10. Please RSVP by Aug. 29. Call 515-386-4408 (History Society members may call their community contacts) to get a seat at the table.

Barbie Open House

Gina Harrington of Jefferson sold her cards and books at our Barbie Open House and also put on a short Barbie skit. Over 60 attended, ranging in age from 2 to 90+ years. They sampled cinnamon rolls and doughnut holes and entered drawings for prizes. The Barbie Box Photo Booth was a popular attraction, and there were many of the Museum’s Barbies on display.

Think Pink! Barbies on parade at Museum

Barbie, left, wearing pink clothing and Ken, right, shirtless with swim trunks on.
Barbie (in pink, of course) and Ken and more than 300 of their doll friends and likenesses will be on hand at the Greene County Historical Society on Saturday, Aug. 12.

JEFFERSON, Iowa, August 4, 2023 — More than 300 Barbie dolls will be on display at the Greene County Historical Museum, 219 E. Lincoln Way, from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 12.

The vast collection, which includes dolls from Barbie’s debut in March1959, was donated to the Museum by former Jefferson resident Arlene Garland Klatt in 2003.

The dolls are dressed in their best, from formal gowns to cheerleading uniforms to swimsuits. What a closet that girl has!

Pink, of course, is the color of the day. There will be pink Barbie decorations, a lifesize pink Barbie Box for for those who wish to pose, drawings for gift cards, plus cinnamon rolls for all.









Veteran train engineer will talk about his 50 years on the rails

JEFFERSON, Iowa, July 24, 2023 — The Greene County Historical Society will present a free program, “A Railroad LIfe,” on Friday, Aug. 4, at the Grand Junction Community Center, 212 Main St.

Retired engineer John Valmaine of Boone will regale the audience with tales of his life on the rails. He worked for the Chicago Northwestern, which merged with the Union Pacific in 1995, for 40 years. He headed freight trains, rolling in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska, and did many grain runs north out of Grand Junction.

For the last 10 years of his career, he drove the Boone Scenic Valley Railroad engine.

“I stepped into my first engine on Christmas Eve 1973,” he says. “It was 20 below. My last run for the Boone Scenic was on Christmas Eve 2014. It was only six below that night.”

Valmain recalls that when he began driving trains, the rules and regs book fit in his back pocket. “Now you need a briefcase,” he says. And, in1973, the engineer’s cab had a crew of four. Today, the crew is made up of two men, and there’s talk of going to a single engineer, he adds.

The 12:45 p.m. program is free. Lunch, provided by Grand Junction’s Horizons Club, will be served at noon. Cost is $10. Reservations are requested by Aug. 1

To assure a place at the lunch table, please call 515-386-4408, or your Historical Society community contact:

Churdan: Nancy Wessling, 515-389-3325

Grand Junction: Janice Gillley, 515-738-2642

Jefferson: Marilynn Hoskinson, 515-386-3490

Paton: Virginia Carlson, 515-386-2401

Rippey: Mary Weaver, 515-360-8046

Scranton: Dawn Rudolph, 515-370-5605

Looking for your Civil War ancestor?

Historical Society program will offer tips for learning more about him

JEFFERSON, Iowa, July 15, 2023 — The Greene County Historical Society will present a free program, “Researching Your Civil War Ancestors,” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 23, at the Museum, 219 E. Lincoln Way.

David Connon of Earlham, a self-taught independent researcher, will offer hints in a workshop  on searching for information on Civil War soldiers. There will be time for questions and comments.

”Searching for information can often be hard and boring work, but if you stick your shovel in the dirt, you’ll hit something valuable or interesting,” says Connon. “I’ve spent a lot of time in those trenches.”
The descendent of two Union soldiers, Connon is the author of “Iowa Confederates in the Civil War.”

Ada Ross of Jefferson, a longtime member of the Greene County Genealogical Society, will inform the audience about how the society can assist people who are researching their family histories.
The group’s reference room, located at the Jefferson Public Library, 200 W. Lincoln Way, includes local census data as well as death and marriage documentation, indexed newspaper obituaries and county cemetery records.

Join the conversations about Greene County history at the Fair

JEFFERSON, Iowa, June 27, 2023 — The Greene County Historical Society will sponsor four chat sessions about county history on Friday and  Saturday, July 14 and 15, at the County Fair. All four discussions will take place in the Fairgrounds History Building,

Friday sessions:

11 a.m.—Rippey Baseball

1 p.m.—Country Schools

Saturday sessions:

11 a.m.—Evolution of Farming

1 p.m.—Fairgrounds Race Track

Jed Magee of Jefferson, who will manage the chats, says he hopes for lots of audience participation. “The chats are always a lot of fun,” Magee adds. “And, the History Building is a good place to sit down and cool off.”

Baseball chat leaders will be Mary Weaver and Nancy Hanaman of Rippey. Former players on Rippey and East Greene High School teams, as well as former members of the Rippey Demons (or Merchants) town team, also will be on hand. A representative of the Rippey Baseball Commission, which manages the town’s recently renovated ball field, will give an update on the new diamond. Prizes will be awarded to audience members wearing their team ball caps.

Weaver also will lead the Country School discussion, with Jefferson residents Virginia Carlson, Mike Piepel and Mike Minnehan, who all attended country school, joining in. Paton resident Becki Cunningham, who is the “marm” at the country school house at the Fairgrounds also will be present.

Farm Evolution discussion leaders will be farmers Roger Custer and Jerry Fields of Jefferson and Chuck Derry of Rippey.

Race Track panelists will be Gary Haupert, Ed Calvert and Frank Kozal, all of Jefferson.

Fairgoers can tour the large history site, which includes a country school house and a display of antique farm machinery and other ag artifacts, as well as a log cabin.

History Society continues look at recent history

JEFFERSON, Iowa, June 18, 2023 — The Greene County Historical Society will present a program on important social movements of the 1950s, ’60s and ‘70s moderated by Chuck Offenburger of Jefferson on Sunday, June 25, at the Museum, 219 E. Lincolnway.

The free 2 p.m.program will be a panel made up of current and former Greene County residents who took part in the large social and political movements of those years that have lingering impacts on society today..

Attendees are invited to comment or ask questions of the panel members.

It’s part of the Museum’s “Dig It!” programs and displays, which were organized several years ago when the Museum realized that its historical offerings stopped with the end of World War II, says Offenburger.

Panel members will include Jack Bucklin of Cooper, a Viet Nam veteran, who will discuss his life as a pacifist. Retired from a career in conservation and natural resources management, he’ll also talk about his ongoing activism in the environmental movement.

Tim Heisterkamp of Jefferson, a financial consultant, community volunteer and political conservative, will discuss conservative movements. 

Former Jefferson resident Patti Miller of Fairfield who will relate her experiences in Mississippi as a freedom rider and teacher in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

George Naylor, a Churdan farmer who is a University of California-Berkeley graduate, will talk about the student movement of the 1960s, plus the farm movement that began in the 1970s.

Mary Riche of Jefferson and Des Moines, a leading Iowa feminist with a long involvement in public issues, will speak about the women’s movement.

“Most fun of all,” says Offenburger, “is that Rick Morain, Jefferson’s piano maestro, will play a song that is emblematic of each of the movements as we begin our discussion of it.

“And at the conclusion of the program, he’ll provide the music as we circle the Museum’s big room, link arms and sing “We Shall Overcome.”

The program will last about an hour and a half, “but those who want to talk longer, march or picket can stick around afterward,” says Offenburger.

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    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.”


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