A look back

-Photo courtesy of the Webster County Historical Society
This photo was taken on Aug. 19, 1908, at the Chautauqua in Oleson Park in Fort Dodge. The note says "Early Settlers Reunion." The Chautauqua was a several-days event that included speakers and performances.

This photo shows a gathering of many of the original pioneers of early Webster County.

The Fort Dodge Messenger article on Aug. 20, 1908, talked about the event.

“Wednesday was Pioneer Day at the Chautauqua assembly. Accordingly pioneers from all parts of the county, and in some cases, from the surrounding counties, gathered together and spent another of those delightful days provided annually by the Webster County Historical Society.”

During the morning, people gathered in small groups and socialized. There was a “noonday basket dinner” provided. The 56th Regimental Band performed a concert that lasted more than an hour.

The afternoon featured President Storms of the Iowa State College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts (now Iowa State University), who spoke on the evolution of science.

The article explained, “Following the conclusing of the address, H.O. Baldwin made a picture of the old settlers present, grouping them in tiers before the platform, the earliest settlers being at the bottom, and those coming later nearer the top.”

During the evening session, the 56th Regimental Band performed again, and Dr. Edward B. McDowell lectured about Panama, “with stereopticon and motion pictures, made by himself at the isthmus.”

The article continued, “During the evening session of the Chautauqua a cablegram received late in the afternoon from Mrs. J.F. Duncombe, sent from Leipsic, Germany, was read. It conveyed greetings to the pioneers of Webster County, for whom the day was set aside.”

John Duncombe’s wife, Mary, was the daughter of William Williams, who founded Fort Dodge, so she was one of the early settlers herself.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today