Hello readers and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage Blog!
Summer Break is finally upon us and with it comes bored kids looking for something to do. There are many activities that kids like to do to pass the time, including sports, video games, and playing with other toys. However, there is one summer activity that appears to be a long standing tradition for children everywhere: a summer reading program!
It seems that the summer reading program has had a long history in Perry. The earliest photos in our collection that pertain to the summer reading program date back to 1966: 51 years ago! The photo showing two kids, Kay and Bobby Kidney, getting prizes from the librarian at the time, Louise Fullhart, for reading 30 books that summer. Another photo, this time from 1968, shows Louise Fullhart once again. This time she is with her husband, Frank Fullhart, who was there to tell the children stories about his railroad days. The interesting thing about this photo is that it is taken somewhere in the Carnegie Library which is, of course, our current home. However, although now the Children’s Room, or Room of Wonder, is upstairs, back in the 1960s it was moved downstairs to where the Courtroom is now. It looks quite different from this picture! Gone are the bookcases and curtains to be replaced with the current Courtroom furniture. It would have been interesting for me to see what the whole room looked like compared to now.
It seems like the children of Perry have been enjoying a reading program for a long time, and they will continue to enjoy it in the years to come. In fact, the reading program for this summer starts soon with Kids Fest this weekend! Although it is hosted by the Perry Public Library, we will also be taking part in Kids Fest. Here at the Carnegie Library Museum kids will partake in a scavenger hunt to find some historic photos. Perhaps I’ll see you there readers, and come back next week for another Hometown Heritage blog!
Hello readers and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage Blog!
Yesterday was Valentine’s day, so happy late Valentine’s and Discounted Chocolate Day! Speaking of Valentine’s Day, I am sure many of you remember making Valentine’s cards for people in your school while growing up. It was a big day depending on how much candy you got in return. However, did you know that even way back in the 90s? Take a look at the picture here, it is titled “Grant School Denison Club Making Valentines”. Can you guess when this picture was taken? The clothes might be a hint, both of the boys are wearing overalls, and the girls have old-fashioned dresses. Another hint is the board in the background; it is a chalk-board, not a whiteboard! Have you guessed yet? The answer is 1938! It seems amazing that even almost 80 years ago people and kids were already making Valentine’s Day cards. It makes one wonder about when Valentine’s became a monetized holiday! The original reason for Valentine’s Day was in remembrance of Saint Valentine. If you do not know why there is a day for remembrance of him, I suggest you look it up, as it gives quite a different meaning to the holiday.
Anyway, I hope that you readers had a good Valentine’s Day! Did you do anything special to mark the occasion? Let us know in the comments, have a happy Discount Chocolate Day today, and come back next time for more interesting stories and pictures of History from our collection!
Hello and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage blog!
Today I found something interesting about Perry that many of you might not know. If you grew up in Perry, or raised kids here, you know that Perry has many different buildings used as schools. There is the Elementary School near the Recreation Center, St. Pat’s School, and the connected Middle School and High School. However, did you know that there used to be another school building? Before you say something like “of course I did, they only demolished it recently silly”, the old High School that they recently demolished and are turning the grounds into a nursing home is not the school I am referencing. There is actually a second school in Perry that no longer exists!
This second school was demolished in February 1967, so it makes sense that many of you probably do not even know that it existed. Called the “Willard School”, it was built in 1900 at the Northeast corner of Seventh and Lucinda. It was primarily a school for young children, as it did not go past sixth grade. The Willard School was used for school purposes until 1940, when it was then converted to a youth recreation center due to disrepair until its demolishing 27 years later. Unfortunately, this is as far as the story goes in our catalogue. Why was an active school allowed to fall into disrepair? Why did Perry need so many school buildings? Who was Willard and why did he have his own school? These are just some of the questions that plague the mind concerning this school. We do not even know why it was eventually demolished, although it can be assumed that it was due to a continuing state of disrepair. If any of you readers have any more information on the Willard School, we would love to hear it! Adding new information to our records is always welcome and ensures future generations will be able to learn about the town they live in, so do not be afraid to leave a comment with your thoughts or extra facts!
Good morning readers!
It’s late January now, and I bet that many of you are probably tired of the snow. It has started melting a little bit now, but it will be back come next week, if we are to believe the weather forecasts. Fortunately for us, we are not on the east coast where places like West Virginia got somewhere around 42” of snow. Thankfully, we have a lot better ways of clearing snow now than we did in the past. Now we have all our fancy snow blowers, plows, and other devices. However, imagine what it must have been like in the past, without these contraptions! It must have been much more difficult.
Maybe the picture below can help you imagine what that would be like. The picture was taken in February 1961, and as you can see, the vehicle is rather stuck in the snow. According to our catalog, the truck belonged to Gene Hurd. He had been out during the day installing wiring in the town and came home during a blizzard, and his truck was stranded in the lane. Unfortunately, there was no easy way for him to dig it out since snow blowers were not easily available to the public. The first practical snow blower was prototyped in 1925 by Arthur Sicard, and most of these were big, car sized blowers. It was actually just during the beginning of the 1960’s that companies had started to introduce their own, smaller, human powered models. As evidenced by the picture, Gene definitely did not have one of these early snow blowers. In fact, it was not until the next morning that he even got his truck out of the snow and he had the help of Steve, age 12, and Dick, age 8, to accomplish his goal. It looks to have been a tough job too, as it seems like the entire car was covered with snow.
Although this seems like it must have been more difficult, in reality things really have not changed that much. For instance, people in New York and other places hit by the recent storm still have to dig their cars out, as snow blowers are difficult to maneuver around in tight places. It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same!
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!