Iron County Historical Society

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July 12, 2024 By: John Abney
April 2024 Minutes and July 2024 Agenda
Just wanted to let eveyone know that the minutes from the April 2024 Annual Meeting as well as the agenda for our upcoming Quarterly Meeting on July 21, 2024 have been posted under the Members tab in the Members Only area of the website.  For more information on our upcoming meeting, go to our Home page.
July 4, 2024 By: John Abney
New Webmaster Needed - It Could be You!
One of the songs in my playlist I created for when I walk is America’s “Don’t Cross the River”.  The song is actually about a young girl trying to move forward with her troubled life, but one line in that song has taken on a deeper meaning for me.  That line is, “Don’t cross the river if you can’t swim the tide.”  Its deeper meaning implies that one shouldn’t attempt to do something if they are not prepared to accept the challenges, risks and the dedication necessary to see it through.  This song and this particular line has taken on a special meaning for me when it comes to being your Webmaster. 
When I volunteered to take on the role of Webmaster and to build the website that we have today, my life was much different.  I didn’t have the family related responsibilities that I have today and, of course, I was younger.  I was also under the mistaken impression that once the website was built that my work was basically done, perhaps my biggest mistake of all. Throughout my life whenever I have taken on a project, I try and give it my all.  The sad truth of the matter is that, when it comes to the website, I feel that I am failing.  I simply don’t have the time that I need to do everything that I need to be doing to make the website the best that it can be.  I have already announced my intention to step down as Webmaster in April 2028 and I will honor that commitment.  My sincere hope is that there is someone out there with a vision and the drive to take the website, employ their own vision and work to make our website even better.  As it is with all positions in the historical society, the Webmaster is an unpaid position, but as our website is one of our most important outreach tools, it is probably one of the historical society’s most important roles.  Any volunteer would need to work with the historical society’s Board of Directors, but you would have the latitude to employ your own vision.  I would be willing to stay on for some period of time in a consulting role, but would not interfere with the changes you make.  You needn’t worry about not having any experience in creating or maintaining a website, I didn’t have any either.  Our website host has a 16 hour online training program along with several downloadable files that will prepare you for this rewarding position. 
So, if there is someone out there that is interested in taking on this challenging and important role, I would ask that you reach out to me by email at or by contacting any of our historical society’s officers or Board members.
June 2, 2024 By: John Abney
More on July's Program
The Provost Marshals in the Arcadia Valley
Presented by David W. Dillard
We hope you can join us for our Quarterly Meeting at 2 p.m. on July 21, 2024 at the First Presbyterian Church in Ironton.  The church is located at the corner of Reynolds and Knob streets in Ironton and, as always, the public is cordially invited and encouraged to attend.  This quarter's program, presented by David W. Dillard will detail the history of the provost marshals in the Arcadia Valley.  David has spent many years researching the Civil War, especially as it relates to the history of the Arcadia Valley and the surrounding area.
During the entire Civil War, Missouri was ruled under martial law which is the replacement of civilian government by military rule and the suspension of civilian legal processes for military powers.  The Arcadia Valley was under Union control during the entire Civil War except for Confederate General Sterling Price’s occupation in September 1864.  Union forces allowed some civil law under the county sheriff and local courts, but they were subject to military review, if not full control.  To implement martial law local Provost Marshals were appointed by the various military commanders with often vague and contradictory orders to act as police, judge and jury or as some historians have been termed them, “the Little Gods.”  David’s presentation will give an overview of the fifteen Union officers who served as Provost Marshal in the Valley.  He will provide a brief biography of each individual and the major incidents that occurred during their tenure while concentrating on some of the more notable.  The company grade officers, captains and lieutenants, who were appointed to the position were usually young, non-military career men, with very little military training from diverse backgrounds.  They were usually better educated and were or would pursue professional careers after the war.  Among them were some men who figured notably in history such as Dr. Willis Danforth who would treat Mary Todd Lincoln and testify at her insanity hearing, Thomas Macklind who would marry Louisa Volker, the first female telegraph operator west of the Mississippi River.  Macklind would later become street superintendent for St. Louis and Macklind Avenue would be named for him.
Among the local men appointed to the office were Carroll R. Peck the son-in-law of James Lindsay. Before the war, Peck was a merchant and receiver in the Government Land Office, while after the war he was postmaster and served in the Missouri Legislature.  William T. Leeper who became a lawyer and judge in Wayne County also served in the Missouri Legislature and was one of the most noted guerilla hunters in Southeast Missouri.  Another local Provost Marshal was Hugh M. Bradley from Louisiana, Missouri.  He was a lawyer and merchant who settled in the Arcadia Valley after the war.  His major claim to fame might be that his grandson is William “Bill” Bradley the NBA star and U. S. Senator.
Most of the citizens of the Arcadia Valley had southern sympathies for a verity of reasons, but were loyal to the United States.  Under the “occupation” (at least that is how many Valley residents saw it) by federal forces and martial law, citizens were often subject to arrest, imprisonment, forced to take loyalty oaths, post a bond ranging up to $1,000, and banishment.
In Southeast Missouri there were no regular Confederate troops, except for various raids from Arkansas, but there were partisans, guerrillas, bushwhackers, and Southern supporters who caused a constant state of turmoil that kept the Provost Marshals busy.  David’s presentation will provide a glimpse of who the amateur soldiers were who had been thrust into a divided and often hostile environment and how they handled almost unlimited power over the lives of citizens in the Arcadia Valley. We hope you can join us and look forward to seeing you on July 21st!
June 2, 2024 By: John Abney
In a Time Gone By - Town Bands


A Blast from the Past: Exploring the History of Town Bands

In a time before television and radio, communities found joy and connection through music. Enter the town band, a vibrant ensemble that brought people together and served as a cornerstone of local life. Let's delve into the rich history of these musical groups and the impact they had on American culture. 

Early Beginnings:

The roots of town bands can be traced back to European traditions. Immigrants brought their musical heritage with them, forming ensembles like the German Stadtpfeifer (town pipers) and Italian pifferi (trumpet groups). These early bands often played a mix of secular and religious music, fostering a sense of community and shared identity.

The Rise of American Town Bands:

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, town bands flourished across the United States. These ensembles, often sponsored by local governments, businesses, or social organizations, provided entertainment and a sense of pride for their communities.

Music for All Occasions:

Town bands played a vital role in community life, performing at a variety of events:

  • Concerts in the park: These regular performances provided free entertainment for all, fostering social interaction and a sense of shared experience.
  • Social and church gatherings: Bands added a festive atmosphere to weddings, picnics, and other social events, bringing people together in celebration.
  • Ceremonial events: Town bands played a crucial role in parades, patriotic celebrations, and funerals, marking important moments in community life.

The Legacy of Town Bands:

While the rise of electronic media led to a decline in the number of town bands, their legacy lives on. Today, there are still thousands of community bands across the country, keeping the tradition alive. These ensembles offer opportunities for people of all ages and skill levels to make music together, fostering a sense of community and providing a valuable outlet for musical expression.

Beyond the Music:

Town bands were more than just musical groups; they served as social hubs and provided a sense of belonging. They brought people together from different backgrounds, fostering a shared identity and pride in their community.

Above Photograph: Arcadia Valley Cornet Band, ca., 1900. White uniforms and white helmets with gold insignia matched the white bandwagon and its gold trim. Mirrors and handsome wheels added elegance. From left: Clarence Whitworth, Arthur Nail, Newman Parmer, Jake Grandhomme, Fred Russell, George R. Gay, Will Edgar, Goff Whitworth, Emmett Gunton, Emil Roehry, Will Haller, George Kanouse, Otto Rieke, Jim Garrett, Charles Hanson, Eli D. Ake (Director), Guy Snyder. ICHS photo.

May 22, 2024 By: John Abney
Memorial Day, Its True Meaning
Every year, the last Monday of May brings with it the promise of summer fun – backyard barbecues, beach trips, and the unofficial start of the season. But before we fire up the grills and dig out the swimsuits, let's take a moment to remember the true significance of Memorial Day.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, has a rich history rooted in honoring the sacrifices of those who died serving our country. It wasn't always a national holiday. In the years following the Civil War, a nation still grappling with its losses saw local observances spring up around the country. People decorated the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers and held ceremonies to remember their bravery.
In 1868, General John Logan, leader of an organization of Union veterans, formalized these efforts by establishing Decoration Day on May 30th. The date was chosen strategically – a time when flowers would be blooming across the country. The first large observance was held at Arlington National Cemetery, a powerful symbol of the war's cost. Over time, Decoration Day evolved into Memorial Day. World War I saw the holiday expand to honor all American service members who died in war, not just those from the Civil War. Today, Memorial Day serves as a day to remember and pay tribute to all the brave men and women who gave their lives for our nation's freedom.
To honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice I would like to share a video that I created that provides a brief history of our National Cemeteries and then pays tribute to our service members who are buried there.  The video was created a few years back and is available for viewing at the historical society’s YouTube channel.  Here’s the link.
Memorial Day is a time to honor the fallen, but it's also a time to reflect on the cost of war and the importance of peace. Let's use this day as an opportunity to remember the sacrifices made, appreciate the freedoms we enjoy, and recommit ourselves to building a brighter future for all.
May 15, 2024 By: John Abney
Congratulations Class of 2024!

Class of 2024: You Did It! Now Go Out and Change the World

Congratulations, graduates! Today marks a monumental achievement – you've officially crossed the stage and earned your diploma. This milestone signifies countless late nights studying, early mornings cramming, and moments of pure determination. It's a testament to your hard work, dedication, and resilience.

But graduation isn't just an ending; it's a roaring launchpad into the exciting unknown. The world awaits, brimming with opportunities, challenges, and experiences waiting to be unraveled. You might feel a mix of emotions – exhilaration, maybe a touch of fear, and a whole lot of "what now?". That's perfectly normal.

Here's the thing: you're equipped. You've spent years honing your skills, broadening your knowledge, and discovering your passions. You've learned from incredible professors, mentors, and classmates. You've faced obstacles and emerged stronger. You are adaptable, resourceful, and ready to take on the world.

Embrace the Journey, Not Just the Destination

The path ahead won't always be smooth. There will be bumps, detours, and moments of doubt. But remember, the most fulfilling journeys rarely follow a straight line. Embrace the unexpected turns, learn from your mistakes, and never stop growing.

Here are a few words of inspiration as you embark on this new chapter:

  • Don't be afraid to dream big. The world needs your innovative ideas and audacious goals.
  • Find your passion and pursue it with fervor. There's nothing more rewarding than pouring your heart into something you truly love.
  • Never stop learning. The world is constantly evolving, and so should you. Embrace lifelong learning and keep your mind curious.
  • Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. Every obstacle you overcome makes you stronger and wiser.
  • Leave your mark on the world. Use your skills and talents to make a positive difference, however big or small.

The Class of 2024 is a force to be reckoned with. You are a generation brimming with potential, creativity, and the power to make a difference. Go out there and change the world. We're all cheering you on!

May 10, 2024 By: John Abney
School Records Project - Phase II
You are going to be seeing the “Under Construction” logo to your left a lot over the next few weeks and months as we start adding content for Phase II of our School Records Project to the website.  Phase II records consist of several District Record Books that were kept by the individual schools and were used by the teachers and others to create a record for that school.  

Our collection of these records is relatively small and only a handful of what were once some 50 school districts in Iron County are included.  The contents of the District Record books changed over time as did the format of the book used.  Our earliest one dates to the 1870s, but most are from the 1930s to the mid-1950s when Iron County schools were consolidated and reorganized.

Where the records are more than 100 years old, we will include scans of each of the pages with recorded information.  Federal law, state law and privacy concerns prohibit us from sharing the scans of pages where students may still be living, hence the 100-year rule that we are using.  No matter the age of the record, all the District Record books will be scanned for preservation purposes.
Transcriptions from each book will be included on the public side of the website.  Where records meet the 100-year-old cutoff, images for these records will be included in the Members Only area of the website.  Again, our dues are only $10 per year, so we don’t see this as a financial hardship for anyone. 

As with the records in Phase I, any records less than 100 years in age are restricted from public viewing or copying.  Records in Phase II and Phase III that are over 100 years of age will be made available for public viewing.  We are excited to bring these records to you and ask for your patience as we work through the process.
May 10, 2024 By: John Abney
Phone Numbers to Block
If you are like me, you receive at least one and usually more than one scam phone call each day.  Yes, my wife and I are on both the federal and state "No-Call" lists, but that doesn't mean a thing to these crooks.  
In simple terms, scammers are no different than the con artists and flim-flam men and women of yesterday.  They seek to separate you from your money through a various number of means by taking advantage of a person's trust, innocence, and in some cases maybe even greed.  All that's changed is the technology.  
The example provided here contains a list of phone numbers and the scam involved and advises those reading it to never accept phone calls from the listed numbers.  It's terrible that we live in a world where we must be distrustful of every phone call that we receive from an unknown number, but sadly that is the reality of today's world.  If it sounds too good to be true, there's a 99.99% chance that it is.  There's no such thing as a "free lunch" either, there's always a hook involved.  Some choose not to answer calls from numbers they don't recognize.  Let them go to voice mail and most of the time the caller will simply hang up.  If they leave a message, you can analyze it and check it out before ever calling them back.  
May 7, 2024 By: John Abney
Permanent Links for Rion Collection
As I promised last week, I have created a permanent link within the website for users to find the link to the 1986 interview of Johnny Rion conducted by his son, Hugh Daniel (Danny) Rion.   The "Rion Collection" in the Links and More tab contains not only the 1986 interview, but also three of Johnny Rion's recordings including:
"That Heaven Bound Train", written and performed by Johnny Rion as a tribute to Hank Williams Sr. after Hank's death.
"The Iron Mountain Baby", was written by the Rev. John T. Barton and was recorded by various artists over the years.  The version here was performed by Johnny Rion.  The song was about the story of the Iron Mountain baby.
"Don't Build Your House in the Sand, was one of the many gospel songs written by Johnny Rion and performed by Johnny Rion and his wife, Ann Rion.
Photos from the Rion Exhibit in our museum are contained in our Exhibits tab.
May 1, 2024 By: John Abney
Johnny Rion Interview Now Available
As promised in our most recent newsletter, we have just published an interview with Johnny Rion on our YouTube channel and here is the link:
The interview was conducted by Johnny's son, Danny Rion, in 1986.  This past December, Danny donated his father's 1938 Martin guitar, a biography of his parents, an original portraint of his father and a collection of 13 CDs containing not only the interview discussed here, but also much of his father's music to the historical society.
Within the next week, I will create a permanent link for this interview as well as links to some of Johnny Rion's music (which remains to be uploaded).  For now, I hope you enjoy the interview and the photographs it contains.  None of this would have been possible but for the generous donation of Danny Rion and for the research that he did to document the lives of his parents.