Iron County Historical Society

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February 22, 2024 By: John Abney
Museum is OPEN
We are happy to announce that we have resumed our normal operatiing hours.  We are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.  
A couple of things to note.  First, the museum will close from approximately 11:55 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 24. 2024 so that our volunteer working that day can attend the historical soceity' annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.  Second, our restrooms are still closed and will remain closed until the the problem with our sewer line is fixed.
We apologize for any inconvenience that our being closed has caused.
February 17, 2024 By: John Abney
Scam Alert - Bank Accounts
One thing that never seems to stop is thieves coming up with new ways to separate you from your hard earned money.  This post from KHMO Radio deals with criminal attempts to gain access to your bank account information.  
The bottomline remains, when it comes to sharing personal information, TRUST NO ONE!
February 1, 2024 By: John Abney
School Record Transcriptions
We've reached a new milestone in the first phase of our School Records Project!  The first phase of our project includes the Consolidated Superintendent's Reports for some 39 Iron County school districts for the school years 1939 -1940 through 1953 - 1954.
Our original intention was to publish all of thousands of scanned images contained in these records in the Members Only area of our website and to create publically available indexes for all the teachers and students contained in these records.  
As some of the students contained in these records are still alive, my own mother is one of these students, we found out that federal and state laws prevented the posting of the scanned images without heavily redacting them first.  As a compromise, it was decided to still create the public indexes for the teachers and students and also publish transcriptions of the records themselves without including any of the information that would be precluded by law.  Once these records reach 100 years of age, the scanned images can be posted.
Today, the last of those transcriptions have been posted in the Members Only area of the website.  To view the transcriptions, click on the Members Only tab on the left side of the screen and then click on School Records tab.  Then just click on the school whose records you want to review.  Note that not all schools have records for all the years from 1939 through 1954.
Work to create the publically available indexes to teachers and students will begin shortly.  
January 23, 2024 By: John Abney
Tax Season Means It's Scam Season
Benjamin Franklin is credited with first saying that, "Nothing is certain except death and taxes."  Unfortunately, today I think that phrase could be updated to, "Nothing is certain except death, taxes and scammers trying to get your money.
With tax season upon us, I thought it would be a good time to remind you to be extra vigilant when it comes to filing your taxes and the scams that criminals are using to help them steal your hard-earned money.  Here's a link from the IRS detailing a number of these scams.
January 23, 2024 By: John Abney
Writing Your Family History
Unearthing Your Roots: A Beginner's Guide to Writing Your Family History
Have you ever gazed at an old family photo, wondering about the lives behind those faded faces? Do you crave a deeper connection to your past, a richer understanding of where you come from? Then step into the fascinating world of family history writing! It's a journey of discovery, unearthing stories and traditions that bind generations, leaving you with a precious legacy to cherish.
But where do you begin? This adventure might seem daunting, but fear not! Here's a beginner's guide to kickstart your family history exploration:
1. Gather Your Treasures:
Start with what you already have. Dust off photo albums, rummage through attics, and scan the recesses of your mind. Birth certificates, letters, diaries, even old kitchen recipes – each holds a clue to your family's past. Interview relatives, record their memories, and capture those heartwarming anecdotes passed down through time.
2. Organize Your Findings:
Chaos breeds confusion! Create a family tree, either digitally or on paper. Map out relationships, noting key dates and life events. This becomes your roadmap, guiding your research and keeping track of your discoveries.
3. Become a Master Detective:
Embrace your inner Sherlock Holmes! Dive into online genealogy resources, like or FamilySearch. Explore census records, immigration documents, and historical archives. Each document adds a brushstroke to your family portrait.
4. Focus Your Lens:
Don't get overwhelmed by generations of information! Choose a specific branch or theme to delve deeper into. Did your ancestors pioneer a new land? Did they overcome unimaginable challenges? Focus on a compelling narrative that draws you in.
5. Weave Your Tapestry:
Now comes the magic – transforming facts into captivating stories. Breathe life into your research with vivid descriptions, poignant quotes, and heartfelt anecdotes. Let your characters jump off the page, their joys and struggles resonating with your own.
6. Share Your Gift:
Don't let your hard work gather dust! Publish your family history online, create a family scrapbook, or even hold a family reunion to share your findings. Your story enriches not just your own life, but also preserves the legacy for future generations.
Remember: Writing your family history is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the twists and turns, the surprises and dead ends. Be patient, be curious, and above all, have fun! Your ancestors are waiting to be rediscovered, their stories yearning to be shared. So, pick up your pen, open your mind, and embark on this incredible adventure into your family's past. You might just find yourself rewriting your present, and your future.
Bonus Tips:
  • Interview older relatives while you still can! Their memories are priceless treasures.
  • Don't be afraid to use photos, maps, and documents to break up your text.
  • Fact-check your information diligently. Accuracy is key!
  • Join online communities and forums to connect with other family history enthusiasts.
  • Most importantly, enjoy the process! It's about connecting with your heritage and celebrating the unique story of your family.
Happy writing! Your ancestors are waiting to be remembered.
Further Reading:
Portions of the preceding were written with the assistance of Google Bard (c)
January 9, 2024 By: John Abney
1852 New Years Resolutions
I meant to post this the other day, but as usaul these days, I got overwhelmed by events.  I certainly have ancestors that followed these resolutions, how about you?
January 9, 2024 By: John Abney
Password Security and Data Breaches
If, like me, you have had a DNA test through 23andMe you may want to look at this article from the Malwarebytes' Blog.  It discusses a data breach at the 23andMe and how their users' private information could be at risk.  If you read the entire article, you will see a list of things that you can do to help protect your own identity.  Quoting from this article, they include:
Check the vendor’s advice. Every breach is different, so check with the vendor to find out what’s happened and follow any specific advice they offer.
Change your password. You can make a stolen password useless to thieves by changing it. Choose a strong password that you don’t use for anything else. Better yet, let a password manager choose one for you.
Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). If you can, use a FIDO2-compliant hardware key, laptop or phone as your second factor. Some forms of two-factor authentication (2FA) can be phished just as easily as a password. 2FA that relies on a FIDO2 device can’t be phished.
Watch out for fake vendors. The thieves may contact you posing as the vendor. Check the vendor website to see if they are contacting victims and verify any contacts using a different communication channel.
Take your time. Phishing attacks often impersonate people or brands you know, and use themes that require urgent attention, such as missed deliveries, account suspensions, and security alerts.
Set up identity monitoring. Identity monitoring alerts you if your personal information is found being traded illegally online, and helps you recover after.

December 18, 2023 By: John Abney
One More PSA - Free COVID Test Kits
Oops, I forgot to add this one to my PSA from earlier this morning. As you may have heard, with the winter season there has been an uptick in respriatory illnesses like COVID19, RSV, and the flu.  Beilive me, I know this is true because our Thanksgiving plans were all canceled when my wife, my 6 year-old granddaughter and I all tested positive for COVID.  Of the three of us, the lest affected our granddaughter.  The wife and I had different symptoms and while my infection cleared up quicker than hers, I had what they are calling a "rebound" infection with much milder symptoms about 11 days after first becoming symptomatic.
Anyway, the point of this PSA is just to let you know that you can once again get free COVID tests through the mail and that if you still have some tests that have now expired, that the may still be good.  This link will tell you all that you need to know.  I hope you all have better luck than we did, but we are all thankful that it wasn't any worse than what it was.
December 18, 2023 By: John Abney
Public Service Announcement
From time to time we provide public service announcements (PSAs) for the benefit of our members and others reading this blog.  Today's PSA covers three topics.  The first is a cyber-attack on credit unions.  The second post deals with seniors and scams.  The final announcement is from Walmart and is NOT about a scam.  For those with sensory disabilities, Walmart is bringing back sensory friendly shopping hours.
It would be a good idea to check your bank account regularly anyway, but today is an especially good day to make sure nothing is unusual is going on in your Missouri account as there are multiple reports of a massive cyberattack that is affecting at least 60 credit unions right now.  None of the 60 were in Missouri at the time the article was published,  but it always good to be on the lookout
From the folks at Ramsey Solutions comes the following: Here’s the thing, folks like your aging parents and grandparents are at a much higher risk for being scammed or defrauded out of their money because they might not be as tech savvy as young people.
But you can help protect your older loved ones from elder fraud and marketing ploys meant to steal their money. Now, talking to your family about their money isn’t always easy, but it really is an act of love when you do. So I’m going to walk you through the most common scams on the elderly so everybody’s on the same page.

Walmart Sensory Friendly Shopping Times
Earlier this year, Walmart took a step in making shopping in their stores more inclusive for those with sensory disabilities by taking measures to create a less stimulating environment for a couple hours each Saturday. They changed the TV walls to a static image, turned off the radio and lowered the lights where possible. The feedback of the pilot program was overwhelmingly positive. These changes may have seemed small to some, but for others they transformed the shopping experience. Our biggest piece of feedback? Keep it going! 
Walmart is bringing back sensory-friendly hours from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. local time, not only on Saturdays, but every day at all Walmart U.S. and Puerto Rico stores, beginning Nov. 10, with no planned end date. During these hours, it’s their hope that customers and associates will find the stores to be a little easier on the eyes and ears. These changes are thanks to those who shared their feedback on how their stores could help them feel like they belong. 
My thanks to fellow historical society member Judie Huff for her contributions to this post.  As always, while we provide links to organizations and companies, the Iron County Historical Society does not expressly endorse the companies included in this post
December 12, 2023 By: John Abney
New Collection Added to Museum
Pictured to the right of the display case is Hugh (Danny) Rion, son of Johnny and Ann Rion with the the newly aquired Johnny Rion Collection.  We hope to add links to the recordings contained in the collection in  early 2024.  Until then, here is some more info about the collection:  
Johnny Rion Collection
Johnny Rion (1916 – 1996), who was born in Farmington, was part of an important era of country music history.  He was a songwriter, radio personality, guitar player and later an evangelist.  The items were donated by Johnny’s son, Hugh (Danny) Rion.
Included in the new exhibit are the CF Martin D28 acoustic guitar that the 22 year-old Rion purchased in 1938 from the Davis Music Store in Farmington and used in every facet of his career for 58 years; a portrait of Johnny Rion with this same guitar, painted by Valentine Vogel in the mid to late 1950s; a copy of, “Johnny & Ann Rion Their Life and Times”, written by their son, Hugh Daniel Rion in 2003 which is a true-life account that briefly spans a period from before 1916 to 2006. It documents multiple noteworthy events from their lives; and finally, a 13 CD set of recordings that includes most of the songs written by or performed by Johnny and Ann, interviews of Johnny, broadcasts and famous voices all referenced in the biographical text. CD #13 is the last of the recordings and contains an interview with an aging Ann and is full of history as well.
The collection is more than just the life of one man.  Those familiar with the history of country music know that long before Nashville became its capital, that its evolution was centered in cities across the United States and even across the border into Mexico. In the early 1930s as the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression, radio became a source of solace to its listeners.  What was called, “Hillbilly” music increased in popularity on the radio as it provided its listeners with a sense of reassurance and hope for a better world to come.  While people may not have been able to purchase records or other “luxuries,” they could listen to the radio for free.  If they didn’t have their own radio, often times they went to the home of the nearest neighbor that did. 
In the early 1930s, some 20 radio stations, including KMOX in St. Louis were granted licenses to broadcast at 50,000 watts of power.  Music was a popular part of their programming, and Hillbilly music in particular was very popular.  “Barn Dance” shows became popular on these stations and others.  Johnny Rion was an integral part of this era both in St. Louis and in southeast Missouri. Rion made various appearances on many radio stations including KMOX's Pappy Cheshire's National Champion Hillbillies, the house band for the Old Fashion Barn Dance a national radio show. His song, Hit the Trail became the show’s theme. He became a member of a group on radio station KWK in St. Louis for a time and by the mid 1940's Cowboy Music World honored him in the Cowboy Songwriter's Honor Roll of writers of over 100 songs along with Jimmie Rodgers, Gene Autry, Jimmy Davis and others.”
From 1950 to 1958, Rion, along with his wife Ann, operated the Johnny Rion Hillbilly Park with locations in Okawville, Granite City and Chain of Rocks, Illinois as well as St. Louis.  These parks featured many top stars from the Grand Ole Opry as the Rion’s had been given exclusive booking rights for these stars within a 100-mile radius of St. Louis.  
In 1958 Rion became an ordained evangelist.  During the last 10 years of his life, Johnny and Ann hosted a Cowboy Church Radio Show on station KFMO in Park Hills.  Johnny died on December 31, 1996 and his wife, Ann, passed away on June 21, 2006.