Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Memories of Jerome, Iowa - Part X - Early Arrivals in Jerome and Surrounding Areas

  The lure of fertile soil and rich coal deposits brought families from our Eastern and Southern states and from many European countries so that Jerome became a miniature melting pot.
  Some of the nationalities represented were: (1) ITALIAN: Massa, Goffe, Ponsetto, Brown, Cassassa, Nobile; (2) CROATION: Yonavich, Blozevich, Starcevich, Buyan; (3) POLISH: Vruble, Rotisky, Matelsky, Vizer; (4) RUSSIAN: Stephanic; (5) SCOTLAND: Ross, Allan, Cathcart, Gillespie, Hunter; (6) ENGLISH: Hardy; (7) IRISH: Dooley.
  These men cam mainly to find employment in local mines, usually the Big-4 Mine.  
  Among some of the early settlers who came to farm was Peter Sidles, descendant of Peter Sidles of Germany.  He purchased a farm north of town which the Sidles family still owns.  Deeds to many homes show they were also in the Sidles Addition.  
  Jacob Stoner was another arrival and he purchased much land on the southwest side of the main road.  Some of it he later sold for school grounds and for part of the first cemetery.  
  Ida Morrison McGavran has family records which show that some of the family land was government grants to widows of veterans of the War of 1812 and signed b;y President Pierce.
  Since widows lived mostly on the East Coast the land usually was sold for delinquent taxes. Letters from interest purchasers seemed to indicate that Mr. Stoner may have been a kind of land agent who would make transactions for these out-of-state buyers at the tax sales.  Mrs. Bert Morrison was a Stoner and she and her husband owned land northwest of town. 
  Another early arrival was the Wilson family whose land was in the original town of Jerome and was later owned by Carl Hamm and last by his daughter, Margaret and husband George Jones.  Mr. Wilson had the first post office in his home.
  Maria Sidles married J. Pendergast and in later years she was lovingly known as Aunt Maria.  When the train load of orphans was brought from the East, the train stopped at Jerome and the Pendergasts took Anna Gorman to live with them.  Anna became a friend to everyone. 
  [John] Criswell, another early settler, had daughters.  One married James Hagan and one married David Hawkins.  Mr. Hagan, a carpenter, is remembered for building the Jerome School which replaced the first log cabin school. 
  All these early citizens found that friendships and a helping had could break communication barriers, different religious backgrounds, and various ethnic cultures, they lived in harmony, making the town of Jerome a friendly exciting place to call home.  
  [From Memories of Jerome, Iowa, 1989 published for the 1989 Jerome Reunion.]

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