Jed Magee, an authority on Abraham Lincoln, speaks Sunday, Aug. 8, at museum on Lincoln’s “learning and his mentors”

JEFFERSON, Iowa, Aug. 2, 2021 — Jed Magee, of Jefferson, an authority on the life and career of former President Abraham Lincoln and a member of the board of directors of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society, will speak on “Lincoln’s Learning and His Mentors” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 8, at the museum in Jefferson. Admission and refreshments will be free.

Magee, a lifelong collector of Lincoln books, art and other memorabilia, donated most of his extensive collection to the local historical society in 2016.  And he now speaks occasionally on different aspects of Lincoln’s history.

A native of Dunkerton in northeast Iowa, Jed is a retired attorney and Iowa District Court judge. He spent the first half of his career practicing law in Jefferson, then was appointed a judge and served the second half of his career while based in Charles City. After he fully retired in 2015, he and his wife Betty decided to move back to Jefferson, where both had been very involved in the community in their earlier years here.

Jed Magee, in front of the Abraham Lincoln statue on the Greene County Courthouse square in Jefferson.

Jed Magee’s fascination with Abraham Lincoln began when he was in seventh grade in Dunkerton, and his teacher thought he needed more of an academic challenge.  So she told him to pick out some public figure that he might enjoy doing some research about, and he read a book about Lincoln, who had served as president from 1861 until his assassination in 1865, during the Civil War.

“That teacher bought me my first scrapbook, for $1.29, and I started cutting out articles I found about Lincoln,” Magee said. “I kept that up and by the time I was finishing high school, I had that scrapbook pretty well filled.”

He continued collecting Lincoln stories and memorabilia during his college years. And he never really stopped.

Jed Magee, and note the Lincoln necktie and Lincoln Highway lapel pin.

For most of his career, Magee kept his collection in his office in Charles City. It included 10 shelves full of books about Lincoln, 30 busts of Lincoln at different stages of his life, photographs (including two that are more than 100 years old), prints, paintings, and more.

How many books has he read on Lincoln?

“Hundreds,” Magee said. “I just finished another that was published this year.  And I still find myself learning new things about Lincoln.”

In his program this Sunday, Magee said he’ll talk about how Lincoln was basically self-taught by being a voracious reader himself.  But he also studied the writings and works of others, who became like mentors to him.

As a “teaser” to help get the public ready for this latest program, Magee drops this question: “What do Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln have in common?”

And he’ll be open to more general questions about Lincoln’s life and legacy.

One of several cases at the Greene County Historical Museum holding parts of Jed Magee’s collection of Lincoln memorabilia.
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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:

THE GREENE COUNTY FAIR
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
robertsradioguy@netins.net.
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Native son Chuck Holden, history prof & author, speaks on his career Sunday, July 25, at museum

By CHUCK OFFENBURGER

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.

 

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

By CHUCK OFFENBURGER

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.

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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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Our columnist’s thoughts on our new historical exhibit? “Well, it used to be the ’70s, and now I’m 70!”

By ROGER AEGERTER

 JEFFERSON, Iowa, July 2, 2021 – When the Greene County Historical Society decided to do a new “historical display on the 1950s, ’60s & ’70s,”  I thought it was a good idea until I realized, hey! That was my life! I’m not historical!

I was born in the ’50s, was a teenager in the ’60s, and worked my way into the adult world in the ’70s. So, I guess that does make me an historical figure now.

We needed objects for the display, objects as I came to realize were the fabric of my life. They were also the fabric of my house, things I still use.  Unlike my wife Jan, I don’t have clothes from my first dance in junior high (not middle school) or even my suit from graduation.  I grew, mostly out. But some of the clothes in the display are real “Groooovy.”   They really do remind me of those good ol’ days.

Roger Aegerter Profile PictureThose days don’t seem so long ago. But my birth was 25,682 days ago. What?  It seems like only 23,998 days ago.

All of us can reflect on their lives and say they have been through a lot.  But I can modestly, honestly say I have.

I could take you through my life day by day, if I could remember, but that may take too long.  “It was a cool spring day in 1951 when I was born…”

I spent my first eight years growing  up on a small farm outside Rockwell City, Iowa. I remember watching a tornado pass two miles west of the barn.  I remember going with my dad to see a neighbor’s barn burn down.  I remember standing in the yard trying to see a small light travel across the sky, Sputnik, I assume. I also remember it was the “country kids” vs. the “town kids” on the school playground.  In my mind, my parents lived a typical farm life. I was too young to really help with chores, except gathering eggs from the hard-pecking hens and yelling at cows to move out the gate. My mother was a stay-at-home farm wife in a typical 1950s – gardening, sewing, cooking, choring, etc.  Ever since my days on the farm, I have been a fan of green tractors.

When historians or my aunts talk about the ’50s, they many times have said it was a simpler time.  I agree. Getting on a yellow school bus with my sister, playing with my dog Tippy, riding my black Schwinn up and down the gravel farm lane, thinking a bottle of pop or an ice cream cone was a special treat worth waiting or working for – those were the best of times.  The ’50s were a great time to begin life.

I can tell you exactly where I was sitting when a high school girl walked into Mrs. Gallentine’s  7th grade English class and said President Kennedy had been shot.  Front row to the right by the door.  I have gone back to that classroom several times and stood in that spot.  The school is now a museum for historical stuff!  We had a short assembly before we got on the busses to go home that day.  I don’t remember if at the time I thought the world was ending, but I do remember lying in front of the black & white TV and watching the next few days’ events unfold.

The rest of the decade, the world – I mean Iowa, or I mean northwest Iowa – was turned upside down and inside out. A few days ago, I was “scooping the loop” (the square) in Rockwell City, and it did bring back memories! Almost all those memories are triggered by familiar sights, sounds of the oldies, and smells like a lockerroom which take me back in time. I can still tell you when, with whom, and what car I was in when I was traveling to the Iowa State Fair to see the Beach Boys, listening to and singing to my Beach Boys 8-track.

There are also memories of the Vietnam War as I graduated and moved on to college. In the fall of 1971, I lost a high school classmate in Vietnam.  I remember the funeral. I was on many athletic teams with Craig in high school and I remember him as a kind, quiet person who was big into Boy Scouts.  This May, we had a 50-year memorial service for Craig with over 100 people attending.

I also remember protests going on at Iowa State University. Classes ended early that spring because of the riots and deaths at Kent State University in Ohio and protest marches on campus.  I forget when, but sometime in 1970 or ’71, the first draft lottery came about. Thirty of us in our dorm sat in the lounge to watch the draft numbers being picked to match birth dates. A couple of things I remember about that night.  We were all real quiet, there was no kidding going on when someone was assigned a number.  My number was 273, fairly high. But a junior in electrical engineering who was vocal against the war was assigned number 1.  He was going to be drafted eventually.   I remember him crying, getting up and throwing up several times in the bathroom.

My higher education happened in the early ’70s. My becoming an adult, at least that is what I thought I was becoming at the time, happened in the late ’70s. Being on my own, trying to find my first real job, my second, my third, and for me, getting married, a lot happened in my life in that decade.

Just one last thought about my ’70s decade. In April of 1973, April 9, my birthday to be exact, there was a 1950s-type of blizzard (things seemed bigger when you were a kid). I was in Ames, the snow had been coming down for a couple of days, but I tried to drive out of Ames to go home for my birthday. Not quite thinking as an adult yet. I only made it to the edge of west Ames before I turned back.  ISU was closed down for a couple of days, one of the first times in history weather shut it down, and I witnessed a fairly big John Deere tractor, my favorite, doing donuts down main street in downtown Ames! The snow was piled 6 feet down both sides, so it acted as pinball bumpers as the tractor hit the snowbanks.

As with that tractor, “My life, what a ride!”

You can comment on this column in the space below here, or you can write directly to the author by email at roger.aegerter@gmail.comHe is executive director of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society.

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Sharing memories from our featured historical era — like playing cowgirl “Dale Evans” in the 1950s

By MARY WEAVER

RIPPEY, Iowa, June 25, 2021 – “Roy Rogers, King of the West” was a famous television show from 1951-1957. Though my family was not able to have a television until 1954 at our rural Rippey farmhouse, it was so very magical to watch Roy ride his horse “Trigger” every Saturday morning while I was in elementary school.

My cousin Bob and I played cowboy, with him being Roy and me being Roy’s wife Dale Evans. We had “pretend” horses, not even stick ones, but we could ride ’em fast in his apple orchard.  We had cap guns, and I can conjure the vivid odor of caps being exploded. Most times, they would not feed into the trigger mechanism of our little guns, and we just hammered those caps on the sidewalk.

Mary Weaver ProfileHis little brother Mike was 6 years younger, and he became “Pat” and drove his pretend jeep “Nellybelle” to get help and save the day. In the TV series, Nellybelle was cantankerous and sometimes on the show refused to start and Pat would beg and threaten her. When our older second cousin from up the road came to visit, younger Mike was relegated to being “Bullet,” the dog. I think he resents that to this day, as he sometimes mentions it at family gatherings.

I had many Roy and Dale articles, like a lunch box with a picture of Roy and Trigger on one side, and Dale riding “Buttermilk” on the other. I had a large towel with a picture of the entrance to their ranch and all the actors dressed in their cowboy outfits. I had a Western cut shirt without buttons, but rather with those snaps like cowboy shirts have. It had a yoke with piping that in my mind made me look just like Dale Evans.

When I went to the Denver Livestock Show on the train with my parents in 1956, I wore my cowboy shirt, and skirt and vest with white fringe, just like Dale’s.  I also wore my two pistols, but did not take any caps. When we toured the U.S. Mint there in Denver, the security guard asked me to give him my guns and they were placed in a locker during the tour!

Though I can not recall the specific plots of the shows, it seems the good guys always won. The bad guys went to jail, but there were no hangings, or deaths due to gun fights. Oftentimes, Bullet would grab the bad guy’s wrist, wrestling the gun away from the outlaw before someone was fatally injured.

During that time, Dale, who in real life was married to Roy, gave birth to Robin, a child with Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition. Dale wrote a book, “Angel Unaware” about that birth and the care of the child. I still treasure the story, and after all these years recently shared it with a mother who had given birth to a child with a congenital disability.

I enjoyed the end of the show, with Roy and Dale singing “Happy Trails” while riding Trigger and Buttermilk. I always sang along, but now I can only remember “Happy Trails, until we meet again”.

I had to research it online to find all the lyrics and was surprised about the line, “some days are blue.”  I didn’t recall those words, but I will share them with you.

Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.

It’s the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here’s a happy one for you.

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
Keep smiling until then.

Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.

I had always thought I would request to have “Happy Trails” sung at my funeral, but the song and lyrics now seems diminished, since it is often played when a basketball player fouls out of the game.  I’ll have to ponder that thought some more, but the song’s lyrics are not really about fouling out of a game.

“Happy Trail” thoughts to you readers.

You can comment on this story in the space below here, or write directly to the columnist by email at mweaver235@gmail.com. The author, who still lives outside Rippey, is an active member of the Greene County Iowa Historical Society.

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  1. Thanks for the memories. Pat Brady and Nellybelle were my favorites. On a very fringe memory, when I taught at East Greene, Burt Toyne did the announcing at track meets and I was his trusty sidekick. At the end of the meet I would play a recording I had of “Happy Trails” as the athletes left the field. Happy Trails to you!

    Roger Aegerter, Jefferson IA

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Native son Carson Roberts is historical society’s first “director of digital history,” enhancing our offerings

By CHUCK OFFENBURGER

JEFFERSON, Iowa, June 17, 2021 — The Greene County Iowa Historical Society has recently added Carson Roberts, a 25-year-old graduate of Jefferson-Scranton High School and Iowa State University, as the organization’s first “director of digital history.”

Roberts, who will be a part-time paid employee, will lead the society into expanded services on the internet, more use of social media, increasing the group’s video production and organizing our video archives for easy access. At Iowa State, he majored in management information systems. He worked four years while a student in ISU Extension’s information technology department, and the past three years he’s been part of the four-person IT team of the Dallas Center-Grimes Community Schools.

“Director of digital history? I like that title, it sounds really cool,” Roberts said of his new job. “I’m looking forward to helping tell the stories of our local history.  When you think about it, it’s really important.  What has happened here in earlier times kind of shapes the way people grow up here today.

Carson Roberts in the small office of the Greene County Historical Museum.

“It seems to me that a lot of our local history here is rural history, and it’s not told very often,” Roberts continued. “You don’t hear much about it in school. We have to spread out our wings, use the technology we have available today, and tell more people about it.”

Doing more with video has been a primary goal of current historical society president David John.

“We’re glad to have Carson on board and glad to have his help in moving the museum into the digital age,” John said.  “We look forward to making our historical society archives more accessible to the public. We would like to do more interviews to expand our oral histories.

“Moving into the digital age will help the historical society and the museum, with existing videotaped programs and future programs, easily available to a wider audience in the community and beyond,” John continued. “We hope, as a historical society, to be more interactive with and relevant to the community, via various media.”

Roger Aegerter, executive director of the historical society, watched Roberts grow up in Jefferson, knew of his talents with information technology, and earlier hired the young man to do some work on websites Aegerter supervises.

He learned recently that Roberts had left his job with the Dallas Center-Grimes Community Schools and was considering moving to Minneapolis, hopefully to work with a larger firm.  However, Roberts was also considering staying in Greene County and trying to find enough IT work to sustain himself.

About the same time, Rob Hoyt, of Scranton, whose IT company is Impact Media Live, and who created the historical society’s current website in 2016, informed the society he is moving on from website work.  Aegerter visited with Roberts about taking over the historical society’s work, and, after a formal interview for the job, Roberts was hired.

Aegerter saw the opportunity not only to find a good replacement for Hoyt on the group’s website work, but also having someone who has time to handle expanded online and video offerings. And there was another appealing element in hiring Roberts.

“There are many things that small towns need to survive in the future,” Aegerter said. “One is the ability to access and utilize technology, the other is to keep and attract young people to contribute to the local economy and lifestyle.

“I am always excited to hear that a Greene County graduate has decided to stay in the area or bring their talents and energy back to the county,” Aegerter continued. “I am also excited when I find someone that has expertise in any form of technology. I am hoping that Carson can gain a foothold in the community – his community – and give all of us technology underachievers a valuable resource.”

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Historical society seeks a few more donations to cover $42,000 costs of a new roof on museum & other expenses

By ROGER AEGERTER

JEFFERSON, Iowa, April 26, 2021 — When I was entrusted as executive director of the Greene County Historical Society a little less than 10 years ago, I tried to familiarize myself with not only the contents of our museum but also with the structure of the building. I am still discovering new things in the displays and artifacts every time I go in.

But one of the first things I did long ago was climb into the attic of the building at 219 E. Lincoln Way to see what the attic and the underside of the roof looked like. I remember seeing over a dozen 5-gallon pails scattered throughout the attic. Most of them were rusty, some had water in them.  From that discovery and additional questions asked of the historical society’s members, I found out that a leaking roof had been a problem for many years.  Who knows, maybe it started shortly after the building was built around 1917.

Roger Aegerter Profile PictureSo for the last 10 years at least, we have had almost a yearly problem with leaking water. Sometimes it rained down on some of the displays, which is a terrible thing. Members would scramble to put plastic over the displays and try to catch water in big garbage cans. Thankfully we have never lost anything permanently to water damage, but there has been extensive cleaning before we opened up each May 1.

This year just before Christmas, I sat down and wrote an application for a grant from the Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation. I obtained two bids for the roof. I submitted the grant application early in 2021 and waited for the news of the awards. But before grant money was awarded we had the 10-day thaw in Greene County. I started to check the museum daily to see if I could see or hear any leaks. About the third day, I could hear water dripping up in the balcony of the south storage room. Sure enough water was coming through the roof in a spot that had been patched several times in the past.  But because this was around the drainage pipe, the ice had frozen under the tar roof and then thawed, creating a crack.

For the next 10 days, I went to the museum twice a day and emptied a 35-gallon trash container. I estimated that over those 10 days, until all the ice and water were gone from the roof, I captured and carried over 180 gallons of water out to the back alley to dump.

Thankfully Grow Greene County selected our grant proposal as one of the four competitive grants this year. They awarded the historical society $30,000, a substantial contribution toward the total roof replacement cost of $42,000. I would like to thank Grow Greene County again for thinking GCHS and our museum are important assets to our county.

The museum in Jefferson, one block east of the courthouse square.

So the roof is scheduled to be replaced the second week of May, depending on the weather. But as you can see we are short of the total bid for the roof. We have the $30,000 from Grow Greene County, $5,600 from specified roof donations of the past few years and an additional $3,050 dollars donated in the last two weeks.

I am asking all GCHS members to consider donating what ever you can to complete this project.  You also will be helping us replace the normal donations and income that have been severely limited during the last 15 months when COVID forced us to suspend programming and keep the museum closed. (As you’ll read elsewhere, we are resuming our normal museum hours this Saturday, May 1.)

Donations can be mailed to:

Greene County Historical Society
219 E. Lincoln Way
P.O. Box 435
Jefferson, IA, 50129

Online donations are also available by clicking right here.

The Greene County Board of Supervisors, City of Jefferson, Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation, Greene County Community Foundation, Kiwanis Club and the people of Greene County believe that having a venue to collect, preserve, exhibit, interpret and promote the heritage of Greene County and Iowa is important here.  We hope you do too.

Roger Aegerter, the author of this column, is executive director of the Greene County Historical Society. You can comment on this column in the space below here, or you can write directly to Roger by email at roger.aegerter@gmail.com.

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How many courthouse structures have been built on the site of the current Greene County Courthouse?

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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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