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Esther's Town

Deemer Lee

Publication Year: 2013

Esther's Town could be "Any Town, U.S.A.," for the equals of its cast of characters can be found in any small town. And here, as usual, was the town newspaper editor, the observing eye of all the foibles and peccadillos that form any town's history. Remembering all the years with love and humor, editor Deemer Lee chronicled the forty-four years he gathered and wrote news—forty-one of them as editor and publisher of his town's newspaper.

He dug into old records, recalled old times, and talked with old-timers. He illuminated the transition of a town, from Estherville’s pioneer settlement to the busy, active town it is today.

The excitement and fun begin with a story of bootleggers, Chautauqua meetings, and an accomplished arsonist—who achieves in less than two months the impressive score of burning seven barns and one feed store, with an unsuccessful attempt on the Methodist church. Scandinavians move in, build crude shelters for the first winter, and add their special characteristics to the town. The Irish arrive and stamp their mark on the whole territory. The circus comes to town and entrances everyone with its ancient pageantry. The railroads come through and add a rowdy element to the population. The Depression begins and farms see 11-cent corn, 108-degree heat, and a twister.

All these events, plus adventures with a massive meteorite and haunting river tragedies, create the drama and flow of small-town life, story by story, in a fascinating revelation of Americana. 

Published by: University of Iowa Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-2

DURING the more than forty-four years that I gathered and wrote news-forty-one of those years as editor and publisher of the News-many persons impressed me as exciting characters in the cast...

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An Era of Bootlegging, Culture under Canvas, and Arson

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pp. 3-15

BACK when the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway was operating between receiverships, passengers who paused at the depot for a change of crews saw a half-block-long signboard...

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Fearless Settlers and Rampaging Indians

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pp. 16-30

En SILLGE, when I first knew him in 1922, was no longer Frank Carpenter's partner, compositor, and Democrat pressman. He was semiretired and a part-time printer at another shop in town...

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Blizzards, Prairie Fires, and Grasshoppers

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pp. 31-43

My father's parents and their daughter Nettie arrived in Emmet County two years after Northrop and Bates gave birth to the Vindicator. When Joseph and Christie (baptized as Kjesti) Lee arrived in 1870...

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An Invasion from Outer Space

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pp. 44-61

ALTHOUGH the Emmet Grove settlement was little more than a camp, it produced a first-rate murder mystery in 1858. 1 Two trappers, one by the name of Dodson, and another known as "Dutch Charley," came from Mankato during the winter of '57...

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New Life in the Town

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pp. 62-77

As early as March 19, 1869, Howard Graves sought to interest a railroad company in building a line into Estherville. After thirteen years of frustration, problems of finance, reorganization, litigation, and head-to-head competition...

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Progressives versus Standpatters

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pp. 78-94

As the twentieth century opened and Edwacd VII succeeded Queen Victoria to the throne of England, Estherville began a new period of development. The town welcomed another railroad line...

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Our Neighborhood Was Rarely Dull

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pp. 95-119

My first educational experiences were learning to build sand castles, to cut out paper dolls, to mold objects out of clay, and otherwise to amuse myself at Longfellow school in Des Moines. We lived on Pennsylvania Avenue...

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War Days and Happier Times

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pp. 120-136

No one who had ever visited Frank Carpenter's printshop could have been surprised when in 1915 the Democrat reported that the Estherville post office, over which Carp was presiding as postmaster, had been judged by inspectors...

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When All the Banks Failed

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pp. 137-152

DURING the summer after finishing high school, I clerked at the Iowa Savings Bank, where I also posted one of the bank's two checking-account records. This was eons before the advent of dual posting machines and the age of electronic bookkeeping...

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The Newspaper Game

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pp. 153-174

TWICE a day Murray Hale delivered mail at our house in a large leather pouch strapped over his shoulder. He always walked to make the morning delivery. He stopped to chat a minute, if father...

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Eleven-Cent Corn, 108-Degree Heat, and a Twister

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pp. 175-197

LITTLE wonder that Emmet County voters deserted their Republican ways in November 1932 to help put Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House, hoping he might straighten out the economics...

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Tears and Cheers

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pp. 198-217

AFTER Estherville voters first rejected a twenty-five-year franchise to Northern Natural Gas by 248 ballots in an April election, they changed their minds and gave Northern a 600-vote majority in a second...

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Watching Estherville Grow

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pp. 218-235

IN one of the Estherville community's most generous moments, the people contributed $300,000 in 1957 to help build the finest hospital facilities that money could buy. 1The project cost $1.3 million...

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It's All Progress, One Might Suppose

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pp. 236-245

As I sit comfortably in my living room and reflect on the changes I have seen take place in my lifetime and those changes that took place during the years before that, it's apparent that the Estherville...

Appendix

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pp. 246-252

Notes

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pp. 253-258

Index

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pp. 259-267


E-ISBN-13: 9781609381769
Print-ISBN-13: 9781587295720

Page Count: 276
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Bur Oak Book

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