The Marion Family - summer of 1872 - East ½ SE Qtr Section 17
Tipton and his children Margaret Ellen (Ella Born1866), Martha Ann (Anna Born 1861)
America (Mary Born 1848 & her baby daughter), Sarah (Lizzie Born 1852) George [Born 1864]
Johnson Cabin Museum Collection


Old WildCat
Dedicated to all of the families, pioneer & contemporary, who have walked
the prairie and tilled the land in Island Grove Township, Gage County, Nebraska.
By Jan Eloise Morris

Crossing the Wilderness

Island Grove Township most likely found its name from an area the Otoe-Missouria Tribe referred to as the Islands. Twenty years before the railroads defined the fate of paper towns in Gage County, freight & wagon roads cut ribbons of trails across the prairie. A road between Rulo and Blue Springs was enacted by the Nebraska Territorial Legislature in 1859. It was amended a year later from Pawnee City to proceed to Beatrice, this road later became part of Hwy 4. The B-Line most likely arose from a wagon road that ran through Pawnee City, veering north of the Otoe Reservation headed for Blue Springs, in Pawnee County the road is spelled Bee-Line. In the late 1860s, James & Caroline Tobyne ran a rest & relay station on the B-line 2 miles east and 1 mile north of Blue Springs to service a stage coach line running from Nebraska City to Marysville and on to Hanover.

When Nebraska became a state in 1867, the landscape between Pawnee City and Blue Springs was sparsely populated. Much of the land was held by speculators and remained undeveloped.

After leaving Pawnee City, we passed over large tracts of wild, uncultivated prairie. What few farms were scattered along the road gave evidence of comparatively recent settlement. This section of country is in the hands of speculators … thus thousands on thousands of acres of the richest lands lay idle year after year.

Twelve miles west of Pawnee City we came to Tipp's Branch, a village of one house. W. F. McClintock is the proprietor of the town. [Wilson McClintock owned the NE & SE quarters of section 27 in the Plum Creek Precinct of Pawnee County] He keeps the post office and a first-class general store, which is well stocked with all kinds of goods and he does a thriving business. John Lato is keeping a blacksmith shop near here, but he proposes to move into the village shortly. The surrounding lands are rich and the town site is beautiful. The country is sparsely settled, it is true, but someday all this land will be cultivated and then Tipp's Branch will flourish like a cabbage plant after a shower.

A few miles further on we stopped for the night [most likely at a country inn once located on the west side of the road ½ mile south of the B-Line on 134th Road] and was introduced to a bed that was harder than Pharaoh's heart after it had been seven times hardened … At last day dawned and after a hasty meal we took our departure. On the road we saw few houses and we could not but think what a pity this valuable tract of land could not be opened for immediate settlement and become a smiling garden of beauty. Late in the afternoon we found an oasis in the desert - Blue Springs - a thriving little town situated in Gage County on the banks of the Blue River, three miles north of the Otoe Reservation.

Taken from Nebraska Sketches, Omaha Daily Bee Monday October 26, 1874

In September of 1860, Timothy (Section 13) & William Dewey (Section 24) filed the first Patents in Island Grove Township. Timothy later filed Homestead papers in December of 1865 on land in Section 13, built a 16X20 cabin and made other improvements. Timothy (1828-1906) & Margaret had 9 children. Timothy is buried in the Liberty Cemetery. William & Susan Dewey also had 9 children. William (1834-1906), who died as few weeks after Timothy, is buried with Susan in the Pleasant Hill (Frog Pond) Cemetery.

Section 16 and the Educational Lands & Funds Act

In 1867, 2.8 million acres of land was set aside in Nebraska for the support of education. In general, Sections 16 & 36 of each township was managed by the state Board of Educational Lands & Funds. Revenue from use of those sections was used as educational funding. In Section 16 of Island Grove Township, a branch of Wildcat Creek ribbons through the northwestern ½ of the section. State surveyors carved out 5 &10 acre lots for the purpose of leasing them out to Homesteaders in the area needing wood for building on their claims. These were known as Timber Lots for the purpose of harvesting trees along the creeks. In a sea of prairie grass, the only place trees were able to thrive was along the creeks. There was a sawmill located in the southwest quarter of the section and across the wagon road onto the Tipton Marion land in Section 17, a little country inn once stood likely built to accommodate men while they cut timber. In the same area, along the creek, a Trading Post sold supplies to settlers and traded with the Otoe-Missouria tribe whose reservation bordered just south of Pine Road.



Section 16 - 1906 Plat Map showing Timber Lots
The Union Hall was built in 1890 on the corner NW

Tipton & Margaret Marion

The 1860 Census shows Tipton & Margaret Marion living in Atchison, KS with 7 children When the Civil War broke out, Tipton served with the Kansas Cavalry in Company D from 1861 - 1863. After he came back from the war, they had 2 more children. They purchased the east ½ of the SE quarter of Section 17 in the summer of 1867. It seems likely they settled on land next to the Educational Land with the intent of providing lodging for the settlers who came to lease the lots for timber. The country inn was opened sometime after 1867 in the same area where the first school was established a year later on Marion's land. Margaret passed away on April 11th of 1868 and is buried in the Liberty Cemetery. A few days later Tipton was asked to help organize the new school district, the first school in the township. WildCat District 25 was located on the NE corner of his land in Section 17. In 1869, five of Tipton's children attended the school. The Marion's own this land until 1878.

In 1872, his 23 year old son, William Jackson Marion was caught up in a murder mystery in the county. He disappeared until he was found in Kansas in 1882 and indicted for the murder of John Cameron. He was convicted on circumstantial evidence and hanged in Beatrice on March 25 of 1887 (the only legal execution in Gage County history). Four years later, John Cameron turned up alive, explaining his disappearance as having fled out of fear of a paternity allegation. On the 100th Anniversary of his hanging, "Jack" was pardoned posthumously by the State of Nebraska.

Marion family tradition state's the oldest daughter America (pictured above with her baby daughter) passed away on January 1, 1873 in Tecumseh. She was briefly married to a Joseph Elliott.

James, Tipton, Anna, Sarah, Ella in Oregon

With such tragedy surrounding the Marion Family in Gage County, Tipton moved his family in the late 1880s to Washington County, Oregon. Tipton passed away on April 26th 1909 in Tigard, Washington at the age of 85 and is buried there with his 2nd wife Lucy.

WildCat District #25

In 1868, Gage County was dividing up the townships into school districts. It was in those years, the story of Old WildCat began. In a letter dated April 28, 1868, Oliver Townsend notified Mr. Marion of the formation of District 25, which included most of Sections 1-22 in Island Grove Township. The first meeting of the new district was to be held at the Marion cabin on the 9th day of May 1868 and he was to inform every qualified voter in the district no later than 5 days before the appointed time.

The first meeting of the school board was dated March 22, 1869. The minutes were signed by Dennis Magner as Director. The half-soddy school was to be located on the NE corner of Tipton's land.

Example of a half-soddy

A new frame building was opened in 1872 on the north side of Wild Cat Creek near the B-line situated on one acre on the SW side of the SE 1/4 of Section 9. The land was owned by David Willis. The old District 25 record book goes into fine detail on the structure of the building to include 3 windows on each side, a door with a 3 pane transom over and a brick chimney.

In 1899, the District was divided again. The building was first moved to a new location and later a new building was built in accordance with state standard school plans on the banks of Wild Cat Creek in the SE corner of Section 4. It served the four sections surrounding it until the districts were consolidated to form District 161. Unfortunately, no photo exists of WildCat school.

The original Dist #25 spanned nearly 18 Sections of the township.
Red - 1868 half-soddy, Blue 1872 school, Green 1899 school

Dennis & Mary Magner

Dennis & Mary Magner filed Homestead papers in 1868 and arrived on their claim on the W ½ of the SE ¼ and E ½ of the SW ¼ of Section 4. Two of their seven children, John (1876-1953) and Anastasia (1872-1932) lived on the land until their deaths. Most of the family is buried in Calvary Cemetery. In 1944, the 14x22 log cabin where they grew to adulthood was torn down, having served as shelter for their Model T's before the end. Their original prairie is now preserved as the Audubon Tall Grass Prairie 1 mile north of the B-Line and ½ west.

Wild Cat Post Office

In 1874, the Educational Lands Office started selling off land in Section 16. Dr. James I & Mary Gumaer purchased Lot 3 consisting of 8 acres, building a new home there. From 1875 to 1880, Wild Cat had its own Post Office. James Gumaer was listed as postmaster but it was Mary who managed the mail from a room of their home. The mail was carried twice a week by Mr. Shaw and his route started at Pawnee City to Wild Cat, Blue Springs and on to Beatrice. Section 16, with its small lots perfect for the makings of prairie town, was attracting like-minded folks.

Dr. James I. & Mary (Barker) Gumaer

The Gumaers arrived in Island Grove Township in 1868 and filed homestead papers on the NE Qtr of Section 18. They built a house with lumber and supplies from Nebraska City and Marysville that spring and lived there through the summer without windows, doors or floors. Water was carried to the house from a spring ½ mile from the house. Dr. Gumaer spent a lot of time traveling for his practice leaving Mary at home with the children. Mary often faced the extremes of prairie weather and roaming Native Americans on her own.

In the 1885 Census, Mary was living with 7 children in her home on the east side of Wild Cat Creek south of the B-line in Section 16. The Gumaers were both investing in land and property in Gage County. Folk lore has it Dr. Gumaer had an office in the country hotel in Section 17. In 1886, Dr. Gumaer built a hotel in Blue Springs and leased it out. Four years later, the hotel and surrounding buildings were destroyed by arson, saturated at the rear by coal oil and set afire. James, it seems, was doing more than doctoring on his travels and in the fall of 1889, Mary filed for divorce. Dr. Gumaer later moved to Oklahoma and passed on in 1920. He is buried in Kendrick, Oklahoma with his 2nd wife Anna.

Mary, along with her adult children were buying up land in Section 16. Nellie, a teacher, held quite a few acres there in 1906. In 1912, Mary Gumaer sold her lots in Section 16 for $20,812.50. Mary passed away in August of 1931 and rests near 4 of her adult children in the Blue Springs Cemetery. The large home in Section 16 burned to the ground in the 1920s. Her last home was the little house recently demolished on the corner west of the Blue Springs Church.

Charles & Hannah Jane (Isley) Marples

The Marples arrived in the township from Saline County, NE in February of 1875. Charles purchased 160 acres of land on the SE corner of Section 20. Passed down through generations, this land is still owned by descendants in 2020. In the summer of 1875, Charles purchased 15 acres of Educational Land along the east side of Wild Cat Creek in Section 16 for timber.

His diary is filled with notes of a pioneer's life on the prairie. It is a story of neighbors working side by side to break prairie, build homes and out buildings and fences, planting crops and mending wagons. There were day trips by train to buy supplies and do the business of life. There were trips to Blue Springs for lumber. School for the children dragged well into June, meals were taken with neighbors and Sunday School with the Pleasant Hill congregation. There was even baseball games to attend in January.

Charles became ill during the next winter and died in April of 1876 leaving Hannah with 8 children, baby Jacob was born 2 months later. Hannah married Nicholas Norris, the family hired hand who had broken prairie for Charles the summer before. The Marples and Norris families went on to leave a large footprint in Southern Gage County.

Whatever dreams these settlers may have had of building a town would be dashed in 1880 when the railroads passed them by.

Miss Henrietta (Etta) A. Vollbehr

John Vollbehr arrived in America in 1854 from Germany. He served beside his two brothers in Company E 26th Iowa infantry during the Civil War. In 1866, he married Louisa Bussing, raised & educated in New York City. They made their home in Iowa, where their three children were born: Ella, Etta and Mattie. In 1878, they moved to the NE corner of Section 9 of Island Grove Township. The children attended WildCat school). When John fell ill in the 1890s, Etta, who was teaching in western Nebraska, was called home to take care of him until his death in 1899.

She lived with her mother on their farm until it was sold in early 1913 to my grandparents, Will & Tena Morris. My grandfather built a new home on the farm in 1914 and but there was brief when the house caught fire and burned to the ground in May of 1916. During those years my Dad and Aunt Edith also attended Wild Cat School. Etta went on to teach in Gage County schools for 60 years. (Read more of Etta's Story here).

Throughout my research of the early history of the township, Etta's writings appeared time after time. Tucked in the last pages of an old record book of District 25, was a letter to the State Historical Society dated November 7, 1947.


Under separate cover I am mailing you an old record book of what was once District #25, Gage County. You will note reports dated 1869. The first school was often referred to as the "half soddy" on the south side of Kitten Creek [a branch of Wild Cat Creek running west of the main creek] - replaced in 1872 by a frame building to the north and east - on the north side of the creek. It is the "Specification" of and the construction of this building, always referred to as the "New School House" by old-timers that I found interesting. It was there I first attended school in 1878 and from which I was graduated in 1887. So my interest is personal and its value historically may not appeal to many. All the people named were among friends or acquaintances of my early life and looking back through the years I see them as pioneers with the welfare of their community and the desire to do the best they could for their children, the great urge of their lives. Many such made Nebraska. These are but a few.

District #25 was later divided - the building moved a half a mile east and a mile north. It was later replaced by a more modern building. Now the district is a part of Union Center Consolidated.

If the book is of value - it is yours. I know of none here who now can recall events and names of those times. I am still teaching - have not gone far - you can find my name as pupil and later teacher in District 25.

Island Grove Center District #52

As settlers moved into the township, District 25 was divided and smaller districts were created. Island Grove Center District #52 organized on April 4, 1873 at the home of Alvah W Ayres. A school house was built in 1873 in the SE corner of Section 18.

In 1908 the county superintendent reported that Miss Iva Austin was teaching 27 students. When all students were in attendance three children occupied one seat. There was no hall for keeping wraps and dinner buckets.

Alvah's folks, James L and Patience Ayres patented 160 acres in Section 18 when Abraham Lincoln was President in 1860. They are buried in the Beatrice Cemetery. The Ayres family held their land in Section 18 until 1907.

"Alvah drove wagon teams for more than 20 years, in both Colorado and Wyoming. It was during this itinerant life that he first saw the bridge that now bears his name: a natural span of rock that stretches across the flowing waters of LaPrele Creek. [Ayres Natural Bridge in Wyoming]. In 1882, he homesteaded the scenic land around this bridge and began raising cattle and horses." Taken from his epitaph.

Pleasant Hill School District #66

Organized in 1875, also known as Frog Pond School, Pleasant Hill had a long and illusive history. The first school house was situated just over the Gage County line in Pawnee County, most likely on the east side of the road dividing the counties in Section 7 or 18. There is however, no record of this in the Plum Creek Deed Books.

A 1907 newspaper article described the old school as having a long and far reaching reputation for the condition of its building. It was built with the rear to the road and visitors had to go to the back of the building to find the entrance. "It is old and low, ceiled one-third of the way to the ceiling with wood, until recently painted dark blue. The windows are filled with little square panes of glass and the plastering shows patches of greater or less size all over its surface. There are no blinds or shades, no book case conveniences for work. In spite of this condition, the pupils are courteous, quiet and studious." With students attending from both counties, against state rules for districts, it was known as a "union district." In 1909, Gage County petitioned to pull the old school a mile farther west into Gage County District 66, diminishing the size of the Pawnee County District 74. In the fall of 1909, the old district was divided and the old building and its contents were auctioned off.

The new District #66 school was built in 1909 but first appears on a map in 1913 on land leased from George Wignall in the NE corner of Section 14 (on the south side of the B-Line).
Designed with more windows than the old building, it was noted to have better lighting. The old reputation for quiet, courteous students gave way to a high teacher turnover due to the unruliness of the boys then in attendance. District 66 consolidated with Liberty District 27 in 1952. The building was used in later years for community meetings and elections.

Lone Star (O'Brien) School District #146

Etta Vollbehr Collection

District 146 was organized in the home of Patrick C. O'Brien on March 12, 1887. The school was located on the NW corner of Section 8. When I was a child the limestone stoop from the old building was all that remained. Please click this link for Etta Vollbehr's wonderful story of Lone Star and her memories of teaching in Gage County. The article was published in 1938.

Patrick & Ellen O'Brien made their way from Canada to Island Grove Township in 1885. At the time, all of Section 5 was deeded to the Illinois Industrial University (see the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862). They initiated a purchase of the NE Quarter of the Section in 1885 but it would be a full ten years before the land was deeded to them. The O'Briens had 5 children. Patrick passed on in 1929 and rests in Calvary Cemetery in Wymore. Ellen joined him there in 1935.

George Wright School District 153

District 153 was organized on March 19, 1889 at the home of George Wright. A school was built on land in the SE corner of Section 16, purchased from John Marples in 1898. In 1908 there were only 4 students enrolled.

Fanny Hardy & the Hardy Estate

In 1873, Richard & Fanny Hardy arrived in Gage County. In June of 1874 they purchased a Quarter Section on the SE side of Section 7. The next year, in March of 1875 they purchased the NE Quarter Section. Richard passed away at the age of 51 in December of 1875 leaving Fanny with 6 children: George (17) became the man of the house, Isaac (14) Fannie (11) Jane & Arabella (9) and Richard (5).

In September of 1894, Fanny Quit Claimed 80 acres on the SE side of the NE Qtr Section to her son George.

My Dad always said the first house on the property was the large room we used as our kitchen and it was located at the top of the hill to the west. There is still a low spot at the top of the hill where the old house stood. It was a pretty small space to accommodate a mother and 6 children.

In July of 1898, George purchased the NW Qtr Section. In 1899, Fanny deeded 1 acre on the SE corner of the Section to Zion Evangelical Church. In 1900, she was living with her daughter, Arabella and her husband. The 1906 plat map also shows buildings to the west of the church, and in 1907 the land was deeded to Richard Hardy but it is unclear what buildings were there.

In 1926 the SE Qtr was sold to Henry Trump and in December of 1928 a news story notes Henry was nearing completion of a fine six room bungalow with all modern conveniences except electric lights (In the 1950s a hand water pump was still in use in the kitchen). It was a pretty home with fine oak varnished millwork and floors and French doors between 2 parlors.

In 1893, Fanny's daughter Arabella Wookey and her husband built a home on the NE Qtr Section 7.

Fanny passed away in 1905. She was widowed twice in her 78 years and outlived 5 of her 12 children.

It is not clear when the small house was moved close to the road and the large addition was built. It was most likely built the same time as the Zion church parsonage as the addition and the parsonage looked almost identical. The parsonage had a porch where the Hardy addition was attached to the old house and a bay window was added. The 1922 plat map still shows the building at the top of the hill which wouldn't have been accurate.

Painting of the finished Hardy Home sometime after George's death in 1921. The painting
shows Hattie Eliza (Daw) Hardy, George's widow, standing on the porch.
Hattie lived in the house until her death in 1926. They were parents of 8 children.

When Hattie passed on in 1926, the property was sold out of the Hardy Family and changed hands a couple of times during the Great Depression. My Dad lived with his folks across the road to the north and helped them farm 160 acres on rented land. The Old Hardy Place was vacant for several years until my grandfather convinced Dad to buy 80 acres and improvements in the spring of 1943. It took a while, he said, to fix up the old house. I have a clipping that notes Dad was painting it in 1946. I remember helping Dad paint in the late 1950s with sticky oil-based paint. It took a lot of kerosene to get it off of me but the new white paint sure made the house pretty. There was a good sized kitchen, a bathroom put in after I was born, a wash room off the front porch, two parlors with blue stained glass transom windows, two bedrooms down stairs, three bedrooms upstairs and a root cellar with stairs down from the bathroom. I set up a play house in the upstairs back bedroom and moved it out to the old brooder house in the summers. It was a wonderful place to grow up. I shall never forget the sunrise & sunset views from the kitchen porches or thunderstorms echoing through the timber. Sadly, a tornado took the barn and garage a year after Dad sold the farm in 1996 and the house burned to the ground in the fall of 2002.

The Union Hall

In March of 1890, ½ acre of land in the SE corner of Section 8 was leased from Moses Wisdom by the Farmer's Institute of Southern Gage County who built its Union Hall on the SE corner of Section 8 as a farmer's grange. The grange started with 45 members and was the center of this rural community's civic activity until Union Center Consolidated School was opened in 1917. The building was moved to the school grounds for use there.

Zion Evangelical Church
1890 - 1954

In 1890, the Evangelical Church organized a congregation in the township. Services were first held in the new Union Hall. The Blue Springs Ebenezer Evangelical Church shared their minister with its country cousin. In 1899, the congregation had grown enough to build a church. Fanny Hardy deeded 1 acre in the SE corner of Section 7 to the Evangelical Congregation for $1. It should be noted that Fanny was a devoted member of the Blue Springs Methodist Church.

As Bishop Standford approached the new building on the hill for its dedication, his thoughts were of Mount Zion. He suggested Zion Evangelical as a name, and since it was the name suggested by Mrs. Hardy so it came to be and the hill it sat on has since been known as Zion Hill.

1917 photo of the Zion Evangelical Congregation welcoming new members into
Church. My grandparents, Will & Tena and my uncles Arthur & Wilfred were among
the new members welcomed into the church that evening.
My Dad and Aunt Edith are also in the photograph

The parsonage was built in 1907 but the trimmings carried on into 1909 with Fred Clayton wallpapering the parlor. The resident pastor lived there for nearly 30 years. It was later rented out until it was sold in the early 1950s and moved to the Gus Glombitza farm on the southeast side of Section 17, it is still standing but unoccupied in recent years.
The church was consolidated with its Blue Springs cousin in 1954 and torn down shortly after.


School Bells of the Heartland
The Story of Union Center District 161


In an historic consolidation of schools in 1917, made possible by the Smith-Hughes School Act which federally subsidized the operations of these schools, Union Center School #161 become one of the first rural school consolidations in Nebraska. It was, uniquely and with great pride, supported by rural land owners, without the luxury of any town tax levies. It operated though the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression and WWII until 1952 when the district contracted with Wymore Schools. Both Blue Springs and Wymore Schools competed for its students, but Wymore won out, promising to bus an impressive population of rural students left in the district to town. In 1954, District 161 closed its doors and auctioned off most of its assets. The land and the school building reverted back to the land owners who had owned it originally.

Other schools in Island Group Township

Aside from the Old Wild Cat district, other districts flourished in Island Grove Township: Island Grove in District 26 in Section 23 and New Hope in District 122 in Section 33

Pleasant Hill Christian Church

On July 8, 1894 the Pleasant Hill Christian Church was dedicated. A large crowd of 1,200 gathered for the morning services in Shaffer's Grove and the church was filled to overflow for its Dedication that afternoon. Enough donations were received to pay off building expenses which was noted to be $2,200 including furnishings.

Twenty Six years earlier, on December 5, 1868, the churches congregation was first organized in the home of J. W. Cunningham. Meetings were held in groves and at Frog Pond School over the next quarter century.

In July of 1944, the congregation celebrated their building's 50th Anniversary, serving angel food cake and ice cream to 175 guests after a program filled with memories was shared.
In 1975, the church and school district 66 buildings were sold. The bell was sold to the Presbyterian Church of Wymore. The church tower was removed before it was moved to Wymore in early October of that year by Marvin Dunn who had plans to make it their family home. Sadly, Marvin passed away on November 20th and the building was never completed. Forty-Five years later, his son completed a new energy efficient house over the foundation his father made ready in 1975.

Union Center Store & Filling Station

With its new consolidated school district, Union Center became a busy hub of community activity. After the old Union Hall was moved to the school grounds, Frank Braddock bought the SE corner of Section 8 and built the first Union Center Store in 1924. George Shoff purchased the business, opening a General Store and Filling Station in 1926.

On a cool spring evening in May, 1930, while baccalaureate services were in progress for the Union Center Class of 1930 at Zion Evangelical Church a mile west, the Union Center Store caught fire. As Mrs. Shoff and her daughter were preparing to retire in the living quarters above the store, a kerosene lamp overturned and flames spread so quickly they barely had time to escape the building. The store stock, household goods and personal effects were destroyed with only the cash register and one showcase saved. A large sale of gasoline that evening had depleted the tank supply saving the property from a probable explosion. The gas pump was melted to the ground. The loss was covered by a small amount of insurance.
Later that year, Shoff sold the land to Matthew Pearson who began construction of a new store to cost about $3,000.

When The Blue Springs State Bank was robbed on June 24, 1936. Staff and customers were told to lie on the floor while the bandits scooped up $788.80 and sped away in a Ford V-8. The night before, J. E. Chalmers of El Paso, Texas stopped at a filling station in Wymore for gas and asked if he could sleep in his car for a while before heading on to meet up with his wife in Minnesota. After the filling station closed for the night, a man tapped on his car window and demanded he open the door, 3 men took over his car and forced him to ride along with them through the countryside all night. They stopped at Union Center School and went through all of his personal belongings looking for a gun and took $89 dollars of his traveling money. They stopped at the Union Center Store and woke up the owner for gas. Chalmers was finally released near at a hideout on Rawley Hill (which is a mile west of the town site of Kinney). The leader of the bandits told Chalmers "When you get back to Wymore, tell them that you have had a ride with Maurice Denning and that he is not as bad a fellow as some people believe." A ploy to divert attention from his own identity, he tried to hang the heist on Denning, the man who escaped the Kinney Raid a year and ½ before. Chelmer's car was found a week later abandoned in Des Moines, Iowa. The real robbers were later apprehended and did time in prison.

Union Center Store late 1940s

After being closed for several years during WWII, George and Marian Alsman reopened the Union Center Store in 1946. In 1948, it was sold again to Guy & Edna King. It isn't clear when the store closed but King advertised the building and acre of land in 1955. I remember rummaging through the empty store with Maurice Vonasek in the late 1950s and seeing the old cash register on a table.
The end of an era


By the late 1950s, the halls of religion, education and commerce in Island Grove Township had moved to town. Zion Church and many of the buildings around the old stucco school were gone and only the abandon buildings of the store and school remained, but the rich history and fond memories of 160 years of Island Grove Township linger on.