The past couple of times I have come to you all with a mystery stemming from the lack of information in our system. However, that is not the case today! I have actually found something in our system that not only has information, but I would even say that it has an over-abundance of information. Because of this, today I will be telling you all about Seth Dayton, and his interesting, fun, somewhat unfortunate life.
Seth Dayton was an early settler of Perry in 1854. He built his own brick house on Lake Robbins Road that also served as stagecoach station on the Des Moines to Fort Dodge line. The house was two stories, so Mr. Dayton probably had a fair amount of money to his name. He was married twice, and had nine children in total, three with his first wife and six with his second. So far, it seems like Seth had a pretty normal life for an early settler. However, his story quickly becomes very interesting. Let us start with his nine children.
Now having nine children is not a surprising detail about an early settler, since families often needed as much help as they could get around the house and farm. The names of his first three children were Ellen, Frank, and Isabelle, and the names of five of his other children were Harry, Adeline, Eva, Jane, and Minnie. All of these names are, without trying to sound mean, common for the time and do not seem very interesting. It is his last son that has a name that stands out from the rest: Pharaoh Israel “Fez”. This name is amazingly unique. There are few people that I know of who are named Pharaoh (aside from all of the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt), and even less people who have the nickname “Fez”. Unfortunately, there is little else to say about Pharaoh, since the article in our system is about his father and not him.
Yet Seth Dayton’s family is not the only part of his life that is noteworthy. His house, aside from what I have already told you, is also very interesting. First, according to the article, Seth was a great horse race fan, and because of this, he had two horse race tracks next to his house. These tracks would get him in some big trouble later in life. According to the information in our system, he lost his farm because of horse racing: he actually bet it on a race and lost. This may not be the only reason that he lost his farm, however. According to the newspaper clipping, Seth had also built his house next to a knoll that was the site of an old Native American burial ground. I hope that I do not have to explain why this could be a problem (think Pet Sematary and the Poltergeist). It may even be possible that losing the farm in a bet was actually a good thing for the Dayton family: maybe they desperately wanted to get away from what they thought was a haunted house and farm.
What about you, readers? Have any of you ever thought that you lived in a haunted house, and would do anything to fix it or leave the house? If you have, leave a comment in the space below! In addition, the house itself is still standing and is even being restored. If you want to learn more about the house, you can go to the Dallas County Conservation site by clicking here, or even drive out to see it for yourself!
Today is another mystery, just like the one about the shoulder chicken. However, today’s mystery is about boats. Yes, that is right, boats. Now we do not actually have any boats here at Hometown Heritage (where would we put it, after all), but we do have something from a boat: an old life preserver (or life buoy). Glenn Theulen donated this ring, and as you can see in the picture, it was white with three P’s on it. Here lies part of the mystery. What do the three P’s stand for? Peace, Perseverance, and Patience? Or maybe Partying, Poker, and Pajamas? Unfortunately, searching Google for “PPP life preserver” only brings up a life jacket product… for dogs. What do you all think that the three P’s stand for? Contemplating the problem it seems the two most likely things that they stand for is either the name of an association or company that distributed this life preserver, or the name of the boat that it belonged too. This brings to light the second mystery of this object: where did it come from?
Now obviously this came from a boat (I am not THAT silly) but where was that boat? Here in Perry there are not exactly many places to go sailing. The closest place in Perry that would count as a body of water is Frog Creek, and I highly doubt one could put a standard sized boat into that little stream. There are a few other places nearby, like Saylorville Lake or Lake Panorama, but I am not sure that a boat with this kind of life preserver would be sailing around those lakes. It seems likely to me that this life preserver belongs to a boat that was sailing somewhere out in the ocean. Maybe it was some kind of Navy boat that was used during a war? Or maybe it was just an old sailing boat, used during a vacation on the beach? Unfortunately, the answer is unknown. Once again, there is not enough information in our system here to answer these questions. If you have any answers about this life preserver (or just ideas in general) I would be very happy to hear them so that this mystery can be solved!
Hello again Readers,
I apologize for the shorter post today, but I unfortunately have some bad news for all of you. Although we had planned to have an event tomorrow, July 16, unforeseen circumstances have arisen. Mr. Autry has had a serious health issue arise which has required us to reschedule his presentation. He will now be presenting from his book on August 20, 2015, at the same place and time (7:00pm at La Poste in Perry, Iowa). Here at Hometown Heritage, our thoughts are with Mr. Autry hoping for his full recovery. We have contacted as many people as we can about this change, but it we would appreciate it very much if you, the readers, could also spread the word about the postponing of this event to anyone you know that was planning to attend. Further information will also be sent along closer to August 20th.
However, not all the events on Thursday night are being postponed. Musician and artist Chad Elliot will still be providing excellent music that night. We invite everyone to attend this Thursday evening for that portion of the evening’s activities. We also hope to see all of you when August 20th arrives, to welcome Jim Autry to La Poste and to Perry.
Thank you all so very much for your support and understanding.
Hello again readers!
Welcome back to the Hometown Heritage blog. Here in the office we have tons of photos on the walls. Most of them are pictures of people and immigrants, in all kinds of different situations. Now I am sure that you all have heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Indeed, many family photos have stories attached to them, earning them their thousand words. However, what about photos whose stories have been lost? There are many pictures like that here at Hometown Heritage. For instance, on the wall next to my desk is a picture of a man with a chicken on his shoulder. By looking it up in our system, I can find out that it is a photo of a Welshman named D. R. Jones, who was the great-grandfather of Dick Shoesmith (the original donor of the item), but that is the only information about it in the system. Yet there is so much more that this photo could tell! Questions like the location of the photo and the exact date of the photo are unanswered. Even the biggest question, why does D. R. Jones have a chicken on his shoulder, is unanswered. Was it a pet chicken? Or was it a random chicken he found out in the wild and it happened to jump on his shoulder and stay there? Or maybe it is a stuffed chicken that he is posing with? Since there was little information recorded at the time of the picture’s donation, it is impossible to know for sure if any of those reasons are true. Because of this, it is important to record as much as possible for every photo. Without that information, the full story of a photo is lost.
Think about the pictures that you have in your house. Can you remember the story behind every photo? Or have some of these pictures lost their meaning, because no one is around to tell their stories, or not enough information has been recorded? I know that in my home, there are photos of people (purchased in an auction for the frames they were in) that we lovingly call great-grandma and grandpa, even though they are completely unrelated to us. In fact, we have absolutely no idea who these people are. They may not even be real for all we know! Still, their pictures may be worth a thousand words, but without a voice, their words and stories are lost. So remember to tell the stories of your photos to whoever will listen, as we will do here at Hometown Heritage. It is important that people do not forget the history behind photos like these, so that they do not end up like D. R. Jones and his shoulder chicken (seriously, why is it on his shoulder?). We will ask Dick if he can shed some light on this question.
Welcome to the Hometown Heritage (the branded name used by Fullhart Carnegie Charitable Trust) blog! My name is Jared Bloom, and I am the new intern here at Hometown Heritage. Since this is my first appearance on the blog, it seemed appropriate that I should introduce myself to you all, and tell you a little about who I am, what my goals are, and why I am with Hometown Heritage.
Let me start by saying a little more about myself. I graduated from the Perry High School in 2011, and I spent most of my childhood here as well, so I have many fond memories of our little town. I can remember the summer days of Friday Fest, with its stands of local products, live music, inflatable rides and more. I can remember when Shopko was still Pamida, and when Alco was still open for business. Even though some of these things have changed, there are plenty of familiar faces and places here in Perry, so the town feels like home. After High School, I chose to attend Iowa State University, and found that I was extremely interested in history. After spending four years there, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in History. During my time in the History department, I found that I was quite interested in Classical history (which generally involves the ancient Greeks and Romans). As part of this, I learned a little bit of Latin (how to write and read it at least), and spent 3 weeks in Italy in May of 2014. I went to see all the major landmarks like the Colosseum, and we even had a trip down to Pompeii. I also saw many of the minor landmarks (a cat sanctuary called the Largo di Torre Argentina comes to mind), and even managed to miss a bus and get lost for a while. The trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Looking toward the future, as a recent college graduate many opportunities have come knocking on my door and questioned what I was doing or where I was going. Often the response was “I haven’t thought about it yet” or “I’ll just go with the flow”, but eventually I had to sit down and think more seriously about the idea. As I did, a loose plan started to form in my head. After talking with a few professors and professionals, I decided that I am interested in working in a Museum setting, either as something like a Curator, or in a collections/preservation sort of role. I discovered that for me, this meant getting some good experience in the right kind of setting, and then going to a graduate school for a degree in Museum Studies. This is the part where Hometown Heritage enters into my plans.
Hometown Heritage is providing me with a wonderful opportunity to earn the kind of experience that I am looking for, and much more. I get to work not only with the kind of software that many museums use, but I also have the opportunity to earn some event managing experience, as there are various events coming up in this area that I am excited to have a hand in. However, experience is not the only reason I am here at Hometown Heritage. There is also the fact that this town, although not the first place I have memories of, is still my hometown, and it holds a special place in my heart. There is also plenty of history here in this town, even if it is not Classical History. I am aware of Hometown Heritage having one of the most extensive collections in the central U.S. for a small town. Within this collection, all of the stories that are told, the old photos and documents, the vintage collectables and works of art, and even the loose odds and ends have within them a special piece of this town’s history that I believe is worth preserving.
Preserving Perry’s history is a multifaceted job. Whether it be using our museum software, upcoming events, or simply digging through the mountains of boxes in our vault and backroom, I look forward to discovering new and exciting stories and experiences that I can share, with the rest of you, on this blog.